It Turns Out Social Media Isn’t Taking Over the World…Well, the Beauty World Anyway

It Turns Out Social Media Isn’t Taking Over the World…Well, the Beauty World Anyway

LONDON – It may feel like social and online media is steadily but surely taking over and that social channels are where it’s at for breaking news, from a beauty perspective at least, women are still turning to traditional media for their beauty news.

There’s nothing quite like settling down with a glossy mag and a cup of tea on a Sunday afternoon, or the burst of colour in the women’s section of WH Smith at the airport as you select your poolside reading; we certainly don’t want traditional media to die out, women’s mags or otherwise.

In conjunction with our client Philips Beauty, we recently conducted a survey of over 11,000 women in 11 different countries globally to determine women’s interpretations of beauty and where they are looking for new beauty information.

So, before we delve into what influences the way we perceive beauty and how those sources have changed over time, it’s important to understand how women actually feel about beauty and the industry as it currently stands.

When it came to asking women if they felt that they were beautiful, we discovered that there was a huge disparity between countries. Whilst the global average of women who consider themselves beautiful is 57%, in the UK this figure is less than half that, with only 26% of women considering themselves to be beautiful. This is incredibly sad in contrast with women in India where a staggeringly positive 94% of women would consider themselves to be beautiful. This could be down to the differences in perceptions of beauty as a culture.

Culturally in the UK we are incredibly self-deprecating and to most, it would seem bold to outwardly declare that we believe ourselves to be beautiful. This may be due to our perceptions of beauty and what we consider beauty to be. Is it what we see in magazines and on catwalks, the skinny Minnie models and celebrities who are shaping our view of what beauty actually is and means? Photoshop use is rife and leads to false portrayals of celebrities in media and advertising. With inches shaved off waists and thighs, and skin smoothed to perfection, women across the world have been standing up for many years to say that this is not the example we should be setting for younger generations.

In addition, over two thirds of those surveyed in the UK agreed that too much of our self-worth is tied to our looks (68%) and 74% feel that the beauty industry is putting too much pressure on us to look a certain way.

The pressure to look beautiful, however—whether it’s from the media, our peers, or society as a whole—is building across cultures, no matter how beautiful women report feeling.

So who dictates these standards for beauty and the ensuing pressure to keep up? And who do we trust as the authority? According to the latest survey data, it’s actually not as much from our social media streams as we might expect. It turns out, our sources of inspiration are a bit more traditional. When it comes to shaping our perceptions of what is beautiful, traditional media outlets like magazines and friends still trump social media and digital sources as the most trusted places to get beauty advice and inspiration.

According to the data, women in the UK favoured magazines over blogs, YouTube or other social channels to discover new beauty products, brands, and procedures. This could be down to the trust we have instilled in magazines and their ability to source and trial a variety of products to bring us reviews, or because women are becoming wise to social media influencers and bloggers being paid to talk about new products on social channels.

With this in mind, the marketing industry has a huge role to play in working with media to ensure that we are completely transparent and honest in the way we work with influencers and media and at the same time, ensuring that the work we are doing in the industry is responsible, helping women to feel more beautiful and confident both in the UK and across the globe.

Reflections on a Year in PR

Reflections on a Year in PR

SAN FRANCISCO – This time a year ago, I had just finished up my first couple of months in PR after a long career in journalism – a somewhat head-spinning move into writing, editing and strategizing for corporate clients.

This after years of bashing away at a keyboard seven days a week figuring out how to make sense of what’s going on in the world for a very middle American audience at USA TODAY.

I was sure enough about the move to make it: Kelly Boynton here at Access had become a friend, and through my trust and respect for her I got to know others at the agency – all of whom seemed smart, kind, and dedicated.

One of the things that drew me in was how long so many of the senior team had been with the company. I was about to leave my family – Gannett (25+ years) and USA TODAY (14+ years). For all of the turmoil in mainstream media, my colleagues were my brothers and sisters – people I would run into a fire with (or cover a major tech meltdown with). I wasn’t certain that my first move out of journalism would have me finding my new “forever” home, but I sure hoped so. Family is important.

Now I am a year in – with, frankly, too many thoughts about the transition to sort it all out on my own. So I decided to crowdsource a few questions from my terrific young colleagues here at the agency and from my journo and PR friends on Facebook.

Herewith, for the PR-curious in the journalism community, and for anyone interested in the shifting media landscape, is a q-and-a with myself, courtesy of a few folks I know and love:

Do you regret it? Nope! I still do so much of what I love. I am writing and editing and analyzing trends. In a weird way, I am even closer to the source material about how our world is taking shape. I talk to executives every week who are making big bets on where things are headed. What I would have given for this kind of access as a journalist.

Would you go back? Yes! Who’s hiring? Kidding.

Journalism is and ever will be my first love. I left because I, personally, could no longer tolerate the uncertainty of buyouts, layoffs and the overall burn process happening at big outlets that is absolutely essential as news organizations grapple with the huge question of how to make money. I’m in charge of my own future now in a way that no one in news really is these days.

But I believe very deeply in the future of journalism – it is timeless and vital. Anyone remember that pay TV series Rome, with the fellow standing up in the middle of the town square shouting out the news? Journo.

So, what exactly do you do? Umm….lots of stuff.  I work with executives to help them turn their expertise and insights into cool stories that other people want to read. My favorite clients understand that it is a collaboration and a partnership. I’ve also done work on internal company messaging materials and help with media training for various executives (I play the journalist!). I’m also involved in a lot of new business presentations – primarily offering a lense into how a company is perceived currently in the media and what its aim could or should be.

Do you see PR people differently now? In the 10 years I’d been in San Francisco editing USA TODAY’s tech coverage I came to know many folks in the tech PR community. I don’t know if it’s different from the PR-journo relationship in other industries/sectors but in my experience there was a lot of respect on both sides.

Do your reporter acquaintances treat you differently now? Sometimes I feel like Carrie Mathison: No longer in the CIA but always in the CIA. I’m sure some people do but not the folks who know me well.

What if there were no ‘dark side’? I loved the comment from a Facebook friend who asked that rather than create a perception of opposition, what if we were all on the same side of authentic and truthful editorial. I couldn’t agree more.

Is your schedule more defined and more definable, so that, start to finish in given workday, it’s more A to B than A to Who Knows? Definitely. There are still plenty of very long days and sometime weekend work, but I no longer leap out of bed in the morning as if the world is on fire every single day. And I can, mostly, go to sleep without worrying about what I am missing.

What habits have been hardest to break? This is silly, but I still want to put a SAN FRANCISCO dateline on everything I write. For some reason it helps clear the cobwebs. And of course it’s impossible not to immediately shift into “interview” mode when I’m at any tech-ish gathering whatsoever.

Peace of Mind When Talking Mental Health

Peace of Mind When Talking Mental Health

LONDON — Another day, another headline about the worsening state of our mental health in the UK. Demand for services is increasing at the same time funding has been cut, leading to countless reports of bed shortages, people ending up in police cells and stretched community teams. Meanwhile prescriptions for antidepressants rise, suicides are up in recent years after a period of decline, and mental health charities report record levels of calls to helplines.

And when we switch off the news and escape to television, plot lines carry the message forward. Carrie on Homeland has bipolar disorder, while Stacey’s story on EastEnders highlights the condition of pregnancy-induced psychosis (this on the heels of an ongoing plot about her own struggle with bipolar disorder). In fact, EastEnders is working closely with mental health charity Mind to make sure Stacey’s struggle is portrayed accurately and sensitively – a tricky balance for a style of television that thrives on outlandish plots.

Do these stories lift our spirits? Maybe not, but there is good news here. Mental health is taking its rightful place alongside other key issues destigmatised and embraced by popular culture and reflected in our Netflix queue: LGBT acceptance, social justice and sexual freedom, among others.

The stigma, it seems, is lifting.

Now that we’re convinced we’re communicating about mental health, we must ask ourselves, as communicators, if we are helping or hurting the cause.

Apps, like Headspace, help us to be more calm, meditative and ‘mindful’ – a buzzword of 2015. The plight of the lonely – highlighted by retailer John Lewis’s ‘Man on the Moon’ advert – was front and centre, and we responded by using various channels and engaging in communities on loneliness – and a whole panoply of issues – to help people find common ground and connection. In smaller, daily ways, social media is there for us, full of inspirational quotes, Tweets, and cute panda bears frolicking in snow to make us smile and give us perspective.

But the high points have counterpoints. When blogger Essena O’Neill quit social media calling it ‘contrived perfection made to get attention’, it struck a real cord. We were forced to confront whether the very places we go to find connection were making us feel more disconnected with ourselves and the world around us.

As former Eastenders ourselves (we just moved from our Spitalfields birthplace to Bankside), we wondered if Mind could help us, too. We asked Jack Holloway, Mind’s Media Officer, how communications professionals can foster truly healthy communities and apply best practices. Here’s what he said.

If in doubt, ask the experts: Mental health is a vast topic and it can seem easy to put a foot wrong when talking about it. If you are unsure about anything, from symptoms of particular diagnoses, to when to use a trigger warning or how to talk about suicide, help is at hand. Charities like Mind have a wealth of resources online to help you fact check and talk about difficult issues safely.

Put the person first: Using case studies of people’s own experiences brings mental health to life and makes it relatable. Mental health problems aren’t something that only affect ‘other people’ — one in four of us will experience one at some point, so use personal stories alongside statistics to make the topic human.

Avoid stereotypes and sensationalising: Stereotypes around mental health, such as ‘having OCD makes you neat’ or ‘antidepressants are happy pills’, help no one. Mental health is rarely black or white and people’s experiences vary hugely even within the same diagnosis, so think hard before making a sweeping or sensationalised statement.

Be positive: Having a mental health problem can have a huge impact on people’s lives, but it’s more empowering to focus on the positive than dwell on the negative. Think about how your work can bust myths, break down taboos and get people opening up and talking about mental health.

We’d also add that authenticity is a key piece of the comms puzzle — showing real people in real situations and expressing real emotions, not simply posting stock photography of a laughing couple walking on a beach. While there are certain proprieties that we must uphold, we mustn’t pre-judge content and allow social communities to manage themselves. That’s where true connection happens.

Post by Amanda Moulson and William Holloway

Meet our Staff: London GM Amanda Moulson on Culture, Commerce and Transparency

Meet our Staff: London GM Amanda Moulson on Culture, Commerce and Transparency

David Gallagher, Senior Partner /CEO Ketchum Europe, originally published this conversation with Access Emanate London GM Amanda Moulson on LinkedIn.

I don’t remember when I first met Amanda.  It probably involved tacos and bourbon.  Two expats from the American South, thrown into management roles for Omnicom agencies in the scrappy east end of London, we’ve been comparing notes for nearly a decade.  

She runs a creative PR shop, newly rechristened after a merger with another Omnicom agency in the US, and we wave at each other from the two towers at our mega facility at Bankside in south London.  Very happy to have her profile here, among the interesting and inspiring people I’ve met in PR over the years. 

Name: Amanda Moulson

Twitter: @itsmoley

Job: General Manager, Access Emanate Communications (London)

Hometown: I’m itinerant, but I claim NY

Current city: London

Nationality: Just like you, dual US/UK

That’s awesome.  But I don’t think I’ve ever asked, how did you land in London?  You haven’t! As an art history major, my plan was to be a curator — at the Met no less.

So, that didn’t work out.

But having to be precise in my expression led me straight into PR in NYC – starting at Ogilvy and moving through a few agencies – boutique, to large, to mid-size, from NY to Atlanta to the UK – before settling into London life and Access Emanate, a place that I truly believe embodies the best of all worlds — entrepreneurial spirit, strong culture and with ample support and intellectual rigour.

So what’s your main focus now? I started here as a Director of Insight, Strategy and Creativity, and in many ways those areas remain my heartland.  And now as General Manager, I spend a lot of time in new spaces of my brain: the analytical side that looks after the P&L and commercial strategy; the interpersonal side of keeping a strong culture and looking after talent; the tactical nature of office operations; the big picture vision needed to look around corners.

I wear a lot of hats but I guess it’s like kids – you love them all equally, but differently.

And what about the green beans – those just starting out? Be curious. Be open minded about talent – not just that around you, but your own. Aptitude and attitude is everything. This industry has never before benefitted so much from diverse points of view, work styles and experience, and we are in a time where PR needs to innovate. If you have ideas to make change happen, step forward — or listen carefully to someone else who volunteers them.

Where’s the business going?  I won’t lie, there was a time when I wasn’t that excited about PR. The days felt a little same-y. Draft release. Sell-in release. Draft plan. Revise plan. Repeat.

But those days are long gone.

The way we communicate is changing before our eyes and, as above, PR needs to innovate to carve out a lasting role for itself. I’m excited about how many products are services we can invent to help change behaviours and attitudes in the comms space we’re living in. Oddly, I also think PR is going to start standing for — wait for it — transparency. With so many media outlets getting savvy about monetising branded content, I often wonder if it’s our industry that is going to set the standard for disclosure and pave the way for more authentic interactions and communities.

Anything else? Nope – just a repeat. Be curious. As an Access Emanate team, we watch films together; we attend lectures (shameless plug for Intelligence Squared); we have regular meetings to predict and discuss trends (whilst guzzling wine and eating chocolate). We debate current affairs like a family at a dinner table. We use all of our holiday days to experience the world. All of these things are as important as ‘traditional’ training, if not more so. There are good ideas everywhere, so long as we are open to receive them.

Thanks, Amanda- see you on the sky terrace.  Oh, you definitely will.

From Peer Heroes to Nail Polish That Uncracks: 6 Consumer Trends for 2016

From Peer Heroes to Nail Polish That Uncracks: 6 Consumer Trends for 2016

At Access Emanate Communications, we’ve been busy looking into our crystal balls and tapping into our psychic powers…and just being super observant about the world around us. Here’s our take on next six trends we’ll see in 2016 and beyond.

Peer Heroes – Gen Z is changing the game on who they view as heroes. Gone might be the days of Kardashian Queens and Kings. Tomorrow’s icons will be those that are real, authentic peers of this group (note the rise of the YouTube Influencer, Malala Yousafzai, Jazz Jennings, among others).

Big Emotions – We’re more in touch with our emotions than ever before (“Inside Out,” journaling apps and even something called “sound healing”). We’re also more in touch with big data than ever before. Enter the rise of Big Emotions – where we advance our psychological selves through cognitive technology. Things like Hello Barbie and Cognitoys are the early players.

New Languages of Organization – We’re a words culture. Until now. Info is shape shifting and will see a huge push towards visualization and new mediums we can’t even interpret today. Early examples are the (not so) new language of emojis – and on the further end of the spectrum – new ways companies are thinking about how information is searched and sorted – think spatial structures vs linear lists.

Gender Neutrality – A conscientious effort to not associate by typical female or male stereotypes has led to the normalizing of gender neutrality. Sweden uses the word “hen” as a way to describe he/she. Moppa has become a new word in pop culture. Bathrooms, products and retail identification are becoming more open and interpretive to the consumer.

Proliferation of VR – It’s not news that VR is here to stay. Only that it has and will continue to infiltrate not just the entertainment parts of our lives but the functional as well. Holographic health and predictive climate change will be the new frontier of VR moving from theater to solving the world’s problems.

An Errorless Society – Will today’s smart technology lead to a world without human error? While extreme, “self healing” products like nail polish that “uncracks” to airplane wings that “unbreak,” we’re seeing a new wave of technology that goes well beyond the smart, connected devices of our lives.

Sources: TrendWatching, Iconoculture, Mintel, J. Walter Thompson Intelligence