Behind the Headlines with Jill Coomber

Jill Coomber, co-founder and director at onechocolate communications, on launching her first agency aged 27, wanting the inside goss from Paxman and why measurement is the lifeblood of any campaign…

Jill Coomber

When not in the office you’ll mostly find me…
Being a single mum, taking a stroll in the sunshine or digging my new allotment and enjoying the wonderfully colourful community we’ve discovered there.

Working in PR is…
The best career decision I ever made. It gave me the opportunity to open my first agency when I was 27 and I’ve not looked back since.

Which social media platform has changed your life?
None, it’s been a massive game changer for the industry but only people and experiences change lives.

If I could breathe new life into a brand, it would be…
British Airways. Its consumer footprint is still very disjointed.

The most important lesson PR has taught me…
Never give up and never give in.

You’ll find….on my bookshelf
Right now? Jennifer Saunders’ autobiography and A Girl is a Half Formed Thing by Eimear McBride.

The journo I’d most like to have a drink with is…
Jeremy Paxman so I could get all the inside goss now he’s ‘retired’; Charles Arthur to see if he’s chilled out after all these years working with PRs; Jo Whiley as she’s one cool mama and… oh, this is turning into a party.

If I could change one thing about myself, it would be…
I’d tell my younger self to tone down my passion about work projects and ideas. It could, on occasion, be an ‘overdone strength’!

PR measurement. Discuss.
Measurement is the lifeblood proof of any campaign. The latest tools provide us with invaluable insights but the challenge is to provide the transparency and clarity we all really want at a budget most clients can afford.

The thing I catch myself saying the most is…
’But does this move the needle enough?’

My guiltiest pleasure is…
These days chocolate – so good we named the company after it.

If I could turn back time I would...
Have even more fun along the way.

The worst thing a journalist has said to me is...
‘No’. Never mind. Because as the saying goes, ‘if you don’t ask…’

If I wasn’t in PR, I’d be…
Running a bar, a yoga teacher, an amazing singer touring the world’s festivals, an ace tennis player, a farmer….always good to keep an open mind on these things.

Read the full interview on Gorkana.


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Weekly Social Scoop

Latest news and developments on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Vine, Google+ and Youtube – in case you missed it.

blog PRCA 2

#1 Twitter now lets anyone check how many people saw their tweets

By Mashable

  • In June, Twitter began experimenting with opening its analytics dashboard to users outside of its advertisers. Then, last month, Twitter rolled out an updated analytic dashboard to marketers, verified users and Twitter Card publishers.
  • For each tweet, the dashboard lets users see: the number of impressions (how many times users saw the tweet on Twitter); number of favourites; number of retweets and replies; how many times users engaged with a tweet and what that engagement was. It also shows the number of clicks on the user’s profile.

#2 Facebook testing new function to make mobile search better

By The Drum

  • Facebook is testing a function for its mobile app which will allow users to search through their friends old posts by keywords.
  • The tool, which has been described by Facebook as “an improvement to search on mobile” will help users find content which may otherwise be buried.

#3 An inside look at LinkedIn’s ‘unbundling’ mobile strategy


  • LinkedIn is unbundling itself at an increasing rate as it approaches its “mobile moment” later this year when more than half of its 313 million users access the site via mobile devices.
  • The company has released a series of mobile apps for specific use cases — seemingly throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks.

#4 Vine fights back against Instagram with new video editing tools

By Variety

  • Vine’s not sitting back and watching as Facebook-owned Instagram steals away its audience of short videos.
  • The company has offered users a new suite of editing tools that enable six-second videos to be manipulated in multiple ways — which should help it hold onto a growing group of influential stars that are breaking out on the platform.
  • Until now, Vine users have been limited to just posting footage they film directly on their cameras with a few editing options. A new camera feature, however, enables videos to be shot in low light, move and duplicate scenes, even mute sound.

#5 You can now import Google+ videos in YouTube

By Tech Times

  • Web video creators have been frustrated and confused by the inability to upload videos from Google+ to YouTube. But YouTube just announced a new feature to address this issue.
  • Google bought YouTube in 2006. In 2011, Google integrated its social networking service, Google+, with YouTube, but not completely, which confused those users of Google+ who also use YouTube. Users were able to watch YouTube videos on Google+, but were not able to import videos from Google+ accounts to YouTube accounts.

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onechocolate loves

Our weekly round-up of the most inspiring PR and digital marketing campaigns, smart new apps, cool events, ventures and happenings that have caught our eye… 

#1 Oleg goes to Africa


When Aleksandr Orlov and Compare the Meerkat first burst onto the scene, few of us would have thought the pesky Russian rodent would still be gracing our screens five year later (a huge amount of time in the fast-paced advertising world).

Yet he has, and we feel the key to his success must be the way the brand has kept pace with the rapidly evolving digital world. As if to prove this point, on Wednesday, Compare the Meerkat (or rather, Comparethemarket) became the first UK advertiser to use Facebook Premium Video ads.

The use of video advertising on Facebook had been met with doubt, but the short film showing the adorable baby Oleg holidaying in Africa and supported with direct response Facebook advertising and the incentive of winning a cute, limited edition meerkat toy, racked up an impressive 5,000 likes and shares within a few hours.

Is this the start of a new wave of digital advertising?  Yes, Simples.

#2 Instagram introduces Hyperlapse

Hot on the heels of cutting edge ‘Labs’ technology from Microsoft, Instagram has introduced ‘Hyperlapse’. This seriously cool gizmo enables you to shoot high-quality time lapse videos even while in motion. It’s the first time the brand has launched a tool which operates outside the existing Instagram app and is available to download now for iOS and iPad – exciting!

#3 Forrest Gump turns app-maker extraordinaire

Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks is one talented man (and there are many Tumblrs that will attest to this). An award-winning actor, producer, writer, director… the list goes on, but now he’s now added an unexpected new string to his bow. As reported in the Telegraph, he has now created his own app. Not just any old app either, his typewriter app ‘Hanx Writer’, which emulates the experience of using a traditional typewriter, had topped the App Store chart just four days after release. We love this clash of old versus new, as well as the idea of using it to “write love letters and journal entries”, just as the man himself suggests. 

#4 M2M/IoT bike


The Internet of Things and its close cousin (no relation) M2M communications are riding high in media interest. Finding new things to say about this tech revolution is getting difficult but we love how German telco Deutsche Telekom is trying hard to lead, rather than just contribute, to the debate about how IoT could change everyday lives. Their IoT bike co-designed with Canyon, stands out from the crowd and has a health and safety angle too as the sensors help saves riders’ lives if in an accident. A refreshing angle when everyone else tends to discuss connected cars and smart meters when talking up IoT’s impact on society.

#5 Social gets analytical


Pinterest is often perceived as a site favoured by brides-to-be, interior designers and cooking enthusiasts, but after its announcement on Tuesday of its new analytics tool it may draw in a new interest group. In an interview with Mashable, Jason Costa, product manager, explains the new tool is designed to provide useful analytics for everyone, with particular focus on the advantages of this kind of information for small and medium-sized brands. Pinterest is not the only social platform to be jumping on the current demand for deeper analytics, with Twitter announcing this week it’s opening its nifty analytics dashboard to everyone – hurrah!

#6 Pinpointing the future 


We’re excited that Europe is pushing ahead with its own satellite-navigation system, known as ‘Galileo’. This system has the potential to offer accuracy up to a few centimetres – much better than the US GPS (Global Positioning System) we use today (invented across the Pond). This will have massive implications for the future of the driverless car… imagine the accuracy!

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The biggest B2B PR mistakes US brands make in Europe


You know the old tune – ‘You say tom-ay-to, we say tom-ar-toe..?’

It is often said that Britain and America are “two nations divided by a common language” – a saying that speaks volumes when it comes to PR and digital marketing.

On the global economic stage, the art of selling is shaped by the rules of supply and demand, and buying and selling is the same wherever you go, right? It’s safe to assume that customers, whether they live in LA, London, Munich, Paris or Rome are looking for a great product or service for the best value for money. So far, so homogenous.

But what many US brands consistently fail to realise is that the most effective ways to sell to us are very different from the ways that work a treat for the folks at home. That’s just for us English-speaking Brits. And what about our friends in mainland Europe you might ask? Well, that’s a whole other ball game, too.

US vs. UK PR – a different game?

The PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) defines the practice of public relations as:

“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” 

Meanwhile, in the UK, the PRCA and CIPR (our official PR bodies) say it’s “about reputation.” Specifically, the PRCA uses the definition:

“Public relations is all about reputation. It’s the result of what you do, what you say, and what others say about you. It is used to gain trust and understanding between an organisation and its various publics – whether that’s employees, customers, investors, the local community – or all of those stakeholder groups.” 

Glancing quickly at these paragraphs, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the job of a public relations professional in America differs greatly from that of one in Britain. But, does it? In the end, aren’t we all working towards a common goal? The answer is yes, of course. We all want to present our clients in a positive light to their target market, to manage the audience’s perception of them and to raise the profile of given schemes, messages and/or products.

The critical point of fact is that the way we go about achieving our goals does differ. Greatly.

Just as we tailor media pitches depending on the nature of the publication or specific interest of a journalist, we should also adapt our PR strategy according to the territory we are targeting.

It’s sometimes difficult for organisations to understand the purpose of this. They pump out global brand messaging in blind certainty that customers in all markets must surely tick in the same way and that we’re all driven by the same needs and emotions.

It’s an approach we see time and time again; an American company has flourished on its home turf and is ready to promote itself in Europe. A few months into its European campaign, the CMO is demanding to know why they’re failing to gain any traction. Why isn’t the plan working? Surely it’s a case of translating the news and distributing it in the same way as has always worked so well at home?

If only it were that simple.

We could fill an entire White Paper detailing the ways in which a PR strategy should be adapted for the European market. In fact, demand for EMEA hubbing services and strategic consultancy has led us to develop a specialist service line advising US business looking for representation in Europe and delivering integrated PR and social campaigns from a UK hub.

But for the purposes of this blog, let’s focus on five key elements in a news release that must be adapted to resonate with local European markets.

#1 Legislation/organisations/currency

We’re grouping these three items together because they are fundamental pieces of content that often need adapting but are regularly neglected.

In the US, the dollar rules, the police force might be federal or state, and organisations or legislation may only be active in Northern America. The point being that the ruling group is likely to be immaterial in the UK, Germany, France or Spain. This must be reflected in the content. For example, there’s very little point banging on about the FDA to a French audience – to do so would severely restrict the opportunity for coverage or comment and red flag the business as irrelevant to the regional press.

#2 Timing

Timing is everything.

When co-ordinating news globally, PR teams in North America might decide a story should go out at 10am CDT. That’s perfect for the local press, but in mainland Europe the clock says 5pm. Most trade media at that time are at home tucking into a TV dinner. The news will become buried among their burgeoning inboxes, never to be read or given a thought.

The best way to tackle the time difference might be to agree that European versions can be distributed the following morning. Alternatively, the European media can be sent the release under an agreed embargo, allowing them to prepare news for publishing at the correct time.

Timing must also take into account local market holidays. Much of Europe shuts down during August – it can even be tough finding local translators during this month! To maximise coverage, it pays to consider whether an opted week, month or day is appropriate in the target territory.

#3 Measured comment

It is often said that the English are a conservative nation; our measured attitude can be seen in the style of our writing and the format of our spokesperson comments. In contrast, US writing and comment is sometimes seen as effusive, full of character and enthusiasm. There’s nothing ‘wrong’ with either style, but when approaching a European audience, the local manner should be considered and the approach tailored accordingly.

This is important, not just in written media, but also when forming wider strategies that might include speeches, social media or video. Always keep the audience in mind, its sense of humour and attitude towards sensitive topics, whether constructing a single press release or a six-month integrated PR campaign. 

#4 Spokespeople

What appeals to one group of target customers in Europe may be off-putting or of no importance to another. In the USA, a lot of kudos is placed on the draw of local politicians and officials. In most European countries, the power of local government is far less. Companies cannot rely on the presence of a regional mayor to achieve column inches.

And, while we in the industry understand how difficult it can be to push spokesperson approvals through, it really is important to quote a local spokesperson for a company within a news release. To voice the thoughts of the US Managing Director is all well and good, but back this up with a comment from the European Regional Manager to improve the impact of the message to the European press. It may take longer to co-ordinate, but the results will be worth it; showing the press that your company truly has a European presence and isn’t a US-centric business with little or no relevance to them will help establish strong media relations.

#5 Know your audiences

As each European market is governed by different legislation, industry rules and unique challenges, a global ‘one-size-fits-all approach’ simply won’t cut it.

Also, the way the press operates in different European markets can vary greatly. Whilst the UK press tends to run editorial calendars it’s a tougher call to decipher what’s on the horizon when dealing with press in France or Germany.

The most successful US brands in Europe are those who tailor their brand messages and initiatives in a way that resonates with the wants, needs and challenges of each market – targeting the right media and influencers with the right messaging at the right time.


These points serve as a small lesson in ‘translating’ – both literally and figuratively, brand messaging for a European audience.

You say po-tay-to, we say po-tar-to. While the meaning is the same, we sometimes need to ‘change our accent’ to make ourselves heard, and more crucially, to gain the trust and respect of new audiences. In order to make a PR campaign truly fly in Europe, brands must tailor their personas and approach with bespoke narratives that tell their brand stories in a way that is meaningful and also proves to prospects that their specific needs are recognised and understood.

It’s knowing how to turn up the dial on both the relevancy and likeability factors that will ultimately seal the deal.

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Has the selfie craze finally gone too far?

The selfie trend has been around for a good few years now, with celebrities and brands (who can forget the famous Ellen DeGeneres Oscars selfie?) all getting in on the action. The term has even been recognised in the Oxford Dictionary! But more recently it seems this self-indulgent craze has been taken to new extremes and certainly shows no sign of dying a death.

Kim Kardashian selfie

One celebrity, who is seen to be taking a leading role in this ‘next level selfie movement’, is self-proclaimed queen of the selfie – Kim Kardashian. This month, it was reported globally (yep, August really is the silly season for news) that she is soon to release her very own 352-page hardcover selfie book – aptly named – Selfish.


It seems even the Royal family can no longer resist getting in on the trend. The Queen’s recent photobombing of the Australian hockey team’s selfie, resulted in the picture going viral. Of course.  Not wanting to feel left out, we also saw Prince Harry, copying his Gran by giving two thumbs up behind the New Zealand rugby coach at the Common-selfie Games.

Prince Harry

Selfies have always felt like a bit of harmless fun but in recent times, they have also taken a more disturbing turn, with people even putting their lives in danger to take the ‘perfect selfie’. Also hitting the headlines this month: a swimmer posed for a picture in front of a baited trap used to catch giant crocodiles in an infested river! Tragically, a couple were also reported to have fallen to their deaths from a cliff in Portugal, after apparently taking a ‘selfie’ too close to the edge.

So how far can this trend really go? At some point, we will surely get bored of all these ‘look at me, look at me’ photos. Question is, how long will it be before we all realise that it’s better to just enjoy the moment instead of feeling the need to get out our smartphone and snap ourselves enjoying it – and in doing so, actually missing it?

It seems that big brands certainly don’t think we will be getting over this craze for a good while yet. Only last month, Microsoft announced it will be launching a dedicated selfie phone along with other brands now making phones with an all important ‘selfie button’ featured on them.

Who knows what the next new picture taking craze will be but it seems the selfie – love it or loathe it – certainly isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

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