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Make a Date with Data Protection

Make a Date with Data Protection

So what can I say about GDPR? Sadly for the Stripe team the term doesn’t stand for God Damn Public Relations, if it did we’d ace that.

What I’m talking about is the General Data Protection Regulation, not the most exhilarating topic perhaps, but please don’t stop reading, let me explain…

The regulation is a new law that will come into force across the EU (including the UK, we’re still in it for now) this May. The law makes it incumbent for businesses to safeguard all their staff, client and supplier private information; meaning that they have to be a lot more sensible about the personal information that they collect and store.

The UK’s existing data protection law was created back in 1998, the same year Geri left the Spice Girls, Titanic was top of the Box Office and two PhD students from California created a little-known search engine named Google. Needless to say, a lot has changed since then and the law relating to data badly needed updating for a new generation, one that communicates, shops, banks and does business online.

Almost every week the media reports on yet another company that has either fallen prey to hackers or has inadvertently shared customer information with a third party. This dissemination of personal information leads to an array of problems, ranging from nuisance phone calls (“Have you been mis-sold PPI?”) through to fraud and identity theft.

Last month the user database for popular app My Fitness Pal was hacked. I’ve intermittently used the app to chronicle my various failed attempts to shape up. As a result of the hack, I now know that my contact details and (even more terrifyingly) my weight could be in the hands of anyone. And this is small fry compared to other headlines – the patients whose NHS medical records were hacked; or the Grindr users whose HIV status was sold to a third-party marketing firm…Life is getting a little too Black Mirror, and that is exactly why we need GDPR.

Like most professions, in the comms industry we do, by trade, collect some personal data. In preparation for the upcoming law change, we’re implementing new and secure processes for managing data, emails and encouraging our clients to do the same. Our goal is to ensure all the data we keep on file is up-to-date, relevant to our business, and above all, stored safely.

The law sets a new standard for data protection and makes businesses accountable for how they control and process data. It will require changes in mind set and processes, but ultimately, the outcomes are positive; the law will help us ensure our privacy and reclaim a degree of autonomy in the digital age.

Three cheers for data protection.

The Power of the Podcast

The Power of the Podcast

If you’re like me and spent Christmas 2014 binge-listening to the dramatic podcast, Serial, then I’m sure you’ll have heard the exciting news! That’s right – Adnan Syed, the subject of the podcast, was last week granted a new trial, which could potentially see the overturning of his 1999 murder conviction.

For those of you who aren’t part of the Serial world, what’s really unique about this story is that what led to the dramatic turn in events was unquestionably the power of the podcast.

Podcasts are by no means a new medium. People have been recording and streaming audio content since the start of the century and the birth of the Apple iPod. While outlets such as The BBC and The Guardian published and promoted a range of podcasts, supplementing their everyday content, for the last decade the medium remained reasonably niche – we all had the podcast app icon on our iPhone, but probably utilised it about as much as we do the stocks app.

Everything changed with the arrival of Serial in 2014. Over twelve tantalising weeks, former journalist Sarah Koenig shared intriguing puzzle pieces of the story of Adnan and the 1999 murder of his high school girlfriend, Hae Min Li, of which he was convicted aged 17.  Koenig’s masterful storytelling reeled in a worldwide audience of millions. She remained impartial, presenting both sides of the argument, telling the story through muffled calls to Adnan in prison, excerpts from his murder trial and eerie visits to the crime scene.

Serial confirmed the potential of the podcast as a medium. Both entertaining and intriguing, the story translated seamlessly onto social media, creating a global conversation and a movement to #FreeAdnan.

The podcast gave Koenig a platform to compose a riveting piece of investigative journalism, the likes of which is often marginalised in today’s newspapers. Serial engaged with massive social media audiences and had a clear real-world impact, which poses the question – are podcasts the future of journalism?

Podcasts are cost-effective and give creators ample time and space to explore subjects they are passionate about, speaking to an ever-growing audience. There has already been a slew of new podcasts following the Serial format. A recent personal favourite is the UK podcast Untold: Murder. Endorsed by none other than Hugh Grant, the podcast explores the as yet unsolved murder in 1987 of private investigator, Daniel Morgan, and calls for listeners to share their own information and theories online – taking the essence of Crime Watch into the 21st century.

Podcasts are also creating a new space where marginalised groups can have their voices heard. Several feminist podcasts are currently among the most popular in the UK charts including The Guardian’s What would a Feminist do? and Emma Gannon’s Ctrl, Alt, Delete. Through their podcasts, these hosts are creating a space for feminist discussion and directly engaging with their audience.

So while some people might think podcasts are a thing of the past, just like the iPods that spawned them, they have been evolving both in terms of content and reach. Check out your podcasts app and you’ll find a podcast for everything from sports and movies to politics and economics. There’s also lots of fun to be found through the podcasts, with many comedians taking to the medium, such as the hilarious My Dad Wrote a Porno and The Adam Buxton Podcast.

Podcasts present an untapped resource to the communications world, with opportunities for professionals like us to engage with produces, pitch interviews and set up brand partnerships.

Half of podcast listeners are aged 12-34 and 54% are male. Therefore engaging with the shows they subscribe to will help the brands we represent engage with these typically hard to reach demographics. And with 92% of podcast listeners active on social media, the opportunities are huge.

If the podcast has the power to potentially free a man from prison, then just think of the possibilities it has for brands.

Zoolander 2: How to be really, really, really ridiculously good at marketing

Zoolander 2: How to be really, really, really ridiculously good at marketing

I’ve always been a huge fan of the movie Zoolander. As a cynical teenager, I loved how it politely poked fun at the worlds of marketing, fashion and celebrity – industries I now work closely with and within.

Released in 2001, Zoolander was ahead of its time, parodying the vacuous ‘Blue Steeliness’ of the fashion industry; the embellished language of advertising (‘wetness is the essence of beauty’) and the superficiality of celebrity culture…but doing so with its tongue placed firmly in its cheek.

Fifteen years on, the world Derek Zoolander inhabits is more relevant than ever, thanks to the exponential growth of the internet and social media. Naturally, I’m excited about the sequel, but I’ve become even more engaged with the movie thanks to its ingenious marketing campaign.

Zoolander 2 takes a unique approach on movie marketing; rather than be confined to the traditional platforms of relentless press junkets and photo shopped billboards, the strategy goes far beyond this, utilising its fashion plot and iconic male model protagonists, to engage with and become a part of the world it has been politely parodying for the past decade and a half.

Zoolander 1Zoolander 2Zoolander-3

The Zoolander 2 campaign launched, like any big fashion brand, at Paris Fashion Week. Zoolander and Hansel were the grand finale at Valentino’s AW15 catwalk show, dressed in their signature eccentric garments and perfect pouts, they walked the runway and gave insiders an exclusive look at what everyone would be talking about next season.

Since then, Zoolander 2 has continued to be marketed like a highly anticipated fashion collection, spearheaded by two of the world’s most famous male models. Indeed Derek and Hansel are to Zoolander 2, what Kate Moss was to Calvin Klein and Cara Delevingne was to Burberry.

The strategy runs throughout the film’s marketing materials from radio ads to its promotional posters. The clever posters take on the guise of a fragrance advertisement and the movie’s premiere doubled as a fashion show.

Just like any catwalk starlet with a collection to promote, Derek Zoolander has been popping up on the front covers of fashion magazines for the past few months – from Vogue to Esquire. Casting aside my suspension of disbelief – this is the equivalent of King Kong on the cover of National Geographic or Gordon Gekko on the Financial Times…but it works, and the fashion world is embracing Zoolander and its eponymous character, as one of its own.

I’m a fan, so I’ll be seeing the sequel regardless, but it’s also reassuring to know that the fashion world has given its seal of approval and confirmed that Zoolander 2 is ‘so hot right now’.

The Creative Genius of David Bowie

The Creative Genius of David Bowie

Yesterday, I joined millions of music fans the world over in celebrating the life and work of David Bowie. I filled the Stripe airwaves with Bowie’s greatest songs and then spent my lunch break devouring articles on the musical legend. There was one characteristic that permeated every article on Bowie; a word that encompasses him perfectly – creativity.

We live and breathe creativity in our industry – it’s ultimately at the heart of what we do; but it can be challenging to develop game-changing ideas continuously. Someone like Bowie can teach us a lot, about being true to your vision – by being bold, standing out from the crowd and speaking to people through your work.

I’ve admired Bowie since I was a teenager and even though I am severely lacking in musical aptitude (I’m borderline tone deaf), I was, and continue to be, hugely inspired by his work.

The essence of Bowie’s creativity was in his sheer fearlessness, the willingness to think and act differently. In 1972, Bowie released his iconic album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and took on the persona of alien rock star, Ziggy Stardust. With his androgynous appearance, other worldly lyrics and avant-garde performances, Bowie was as equally compelling as he was controversial.

The world Bowie created was alien to the British public, and this is exactly what he played on. By daring to take risks and display his creativity in everything from his cut-up lyrics to his personal style, Bowie changed not only the 70s music scene, but also pushed the boundaries of sexuality, gender and identity.

It looks likely that Bowie’s albums and singles will dominate the music charts this weekend, proving his work is as relevant today as it was in the 70s. This legacy is testament to Bowie’s commitment to breaking down artistic boundaries and there’s no doubt he will continue to be a creative muse to many industries and generations for years to come.

One thing’s for sure – I’ll definitely be utilising Bowie’s cut-up technique the next time I’m struggling for a headline.