Category Archives: Company Blog

Introducing: Vito Gallo

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Tell us a little about your background:

Originally from New England, I moved to the Bay Area in April of 2016. I graduated from Suffolk University in Boston with a degree in Public Relations and a minor in Political Science. Shortly after graduating, I was offered a position with Kel & Partners, a medium sized communications agency in Boston, where I created social media content for B2B and B2C clients.

I made the journey to the west coast last Spring and joined UPRAISE PR, a boutique agency in San Francisco. During my time there, I worked with a variety of clients including a robot laundry folding machine and a nonprofit organization focused on teaching and empowering girls to code. I wore many hats, including leading a client team, creating content, and launching a viral campaign.

Why are you excited to support Liberty and our clients?

I’m eager to join an agency that represents a diverse set of clients, each with their own needs, wants, and challenges. Over the course of my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work with “mainstream” companies as well as niche organizations and startups. Liberty Communications represents that range of clientele, as well.

I couldn’t be happier to be joining the US team at Liberty Communications as an Account Executive. I look forward to whatever challenges come my way; I learn best when the tasks are challenging and require creative thought. I’m excited to bring my own skill set into this position, while learning more tools of the trade.

What are some of your hobbies?

When I’m not creating stories or content for clients, I’m usually exploring San Francisco –  there’s so much to see and do. As mentioned below, I’m a bit of a nerd, so I like to take some time each week to play video games. It’s a hobby I’ve had since 1998, when I was catching Pokémon on my Gameboy.

What was the last book you read/song you listened to?

I’ve been investing in graphic novels and recently read seven volumes of the “Saga” series. It’s a blend of Romeo and Juliet, Star Wars, and Game of Thrones. It’s beautifully written and illustrated; a must read if sci-fi is of any interest.

I’m a “Top 40” person, so anything that’s mainstream piques my interest. Lorde’s new album, Melodrama, is one of my favorites of 2017. Currently listening to “Supercut” as I type this!

Liberty Presents our Senior Executives – An Interview with Jim Lubinskas

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This month we’re continuing our series of profiling our senior executives. We sat down with Jim Lubinskas, a Managing Director at Liberty in our San Francisco office. Let’s learn more about him:

Hi Jim, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Our first question is, what is your management style?

I tend to manage like I like being managed. Namely, I give people lots of room to develop their own style and manage their own work flow. That being said, I also want to make sure everyone is on the same page so I like to have frequent check ins to make sure things are running smoothly. Luckily, Liberty employees tend to be self-sufficient and responsible. So it is the right environment for this management style.

If you could predict the future, where would you like to see Liberty in 5 years?

Liberty is in the enviable position of growing steadily through good work and referrals. This is the best way to grow, especially in PR as great performance and superior service are highly praised among all clients. We are a well-regarded agency amongst reporters and other PR professionals in the Silicon Valley so we must be doing something right. As we grow, we have to keep our reputation for high standards in mind.

What is your favorite/proudest memory during your time at Liberty?

One thing that stands out is getting recommended by a client who we had only been representing for a few months. To be able to make such an impression upon a customer in that short a time is very pleasing. It is always nice to be noted for doing good work.

Beyond that, I’d say just the day to day energy amongst our Liberty US team has been great. We have a small but efficient team in San Francisco. There are a lot of moving parts but the team handles things with a degree of efficiency that I had not seen before. Plus, everyone has a really great attitude and wants to be here working in tech PR. That makes a big difference.

On a more personal note, if you could live in a book, TV show or film, what would it be?

 Mad Men. I know it is dramatized but the 1960s were a key time for the marketing industry. Maybe I could have handled PR for Sterling Cooper! The early 60’s especially seemed to have an energy and drive that I would have liked to have been a part of. The characters remind me of my older family members and I love the style. Of course, I would have hated all the smoking and would have had to wait until after work to start drinking!

Besides being a PR super star, what was your dream job growing up?

I was into sports and dreamed of being a professional athlete.

Jim, thanks so much for sharing your answers with us today. We appreciate all your contributions to Liberty US.

Make sure to tune in next time, as we continue to interview the senior management team here at Liberty Comms.

Liberty US Away Day

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This year, for our summer away day in the US office, we took a trip to Napa. The wine country escape offered beautiful views, delicious treats and abundant team bonding experiences.

We hope you enjoy our album and we already can’t wait to go back!

Liberty Presents our Senior Executives – An Interview with Katie Finn

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This month we’re continuing our series of profiling our senior executives. We sat down with Katie Finn, a Senior Account Director at Liberty in our London office. She has been with Liberty since 2014 and has played a role in Liberty’s continued success. Let’s learn more about her:

Hi Katie, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Our first question is, what is your management style?

I aim to create a positive workplace environment, where people feel supported and rewarded for their achievements. I believe that when people are happy and motivated they go the extra mile for both their clients and teams, which in turn helps to fuel a good atmosphere and results in excellent client service – it really is a win-win situation!

If you could predict the future, where would you like to see Liberty in the next 5 years?

So far in my time at Liberty it has been really exciting to see Liberty US grow, and our client base continue to expand with really innovative and cutting edge technology companies. Both the technology and the media landscape are changing rapidly, so it’s important for us as an agency to keep pace with these trends, and make sure we’re always ahead of the game. In the next five years, I’d like to see our client portfolio continue to grow, while still offering the boutique service we’re renowned for, and possibly opening a new Liberty overseas!

What is your favorite/proudest memory during your time at Liberty?

My proudest memory at Liberty was winning the annual client services prize.

On a more personal note, if you could live in a book, TV show or film, what would it be?

I’d probably have to say Arrested Development, for the brilliant California sunshine and so I could hang out with the Bluth family.

Besides being a PR super star, what was your dream job growing up?

I wanted to be an actress, which needless to say hasn’t materialised!

Katie, thanks so much for sharing your answers with us today. We appreciate all your contributions to Liberty UK and US.

Make sure to tune in next time, as we continue to interview the senior management team here at Liberty to see what makes them tick.

Introducing: James Meredith

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Tell us a little about your background:

I graduated from Cardiff University in 2007 with a BA in English Language Studies. After completing three work experience placements at PR companies in the South West of England, I secured my first full time position as a Junior Account Executive at an agency that specialised in technology in Bath.

Within a couple of years, I worked my way up to Account Manager level, supporting a mix of B2B and B2C clients across the UK, Europe and US in a range of sectors including cybersecurity, gaming and healthcare.

After I had been with the agency for three years, I felt it was time for a new challenge, and I joined a B2B agency in Bristol specialising predominantly in professional services, cybersecurity and manufacturing. During my three and a half years at the agency, I was promoted to Account Director.

My next position was in the business & corporate division of a larger agency in Bristol. This was a fantastic opportunity, with the agency’s parent company consisting of an AIM-listed network of integrated, multi-discipline, multi-sector agencies specialising in marketing/comms and employing over 1,000 people in 20 offices around the world.

Why are you excited to support Liberty and our clients?

After two and a half years with my previous agency, it felt that the time was right to make the move to London before life had completely passed me by! I had interviews at a few agencies, but Liberty was the one that caught my attention.

My immediate impression was that Liberty is an agency with a strong people-focus and collaborative culture, which is exactly what I was looking for. As for the clients, it feels to a degree that I have come full circle, with a great opportunity to get back into the world of technology.

What are some of your hobbies?

I enjoy watching and playing most sports, but particularly love tennis and football. I’m also a big fan of quizzes and have embarrassed myself on UK TV quiz shows including Eggheads, Brainteaser and Revenge of the Egghead! From time to time I’m also guilty of binge watching a TV series with my all-time favourites being Breaking Bad, The Wire and The Sopranos.

What was the last book you read or song you listened to?

I’m an avid reader, particularly of crime fiction thriller novels by the likes of Linwood Barclay, Harlan Coben, Lee Child and Tom Wood. But the last book I read (well technically re-read!) was The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. It’s set in Barcelona just after the Spanish Civil War and follows the life of a young boy who is taken to a secret library by his father and allowed to choose any book to keep on the condition that he must protect it for life.

Without giving too much away, he picks a book called The Shadow of the Wind – and from there it starts to become clear that the novel is actually a story within a story. I highly recommend it!

Introducing: Rick Judge

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Tell us a little about your background:

I’ve always lived my life by one simple quote: “The journey is better than the end.” That journey has led me from New York to South Carolina, Washington, D.C., and now San Francisco. I am a Senior Account Manager here at Liberty, working out of our 17th floor office in the busy Financial District.

I have my B.A. in Mass Communications and Philosophy from SUNY Oneonta, and earned my M.A. in Public Communications from American University in Washington. In my former life, I was an aspiring journalist who worked in various television newsroom roles in New York and South Carolina. I’ve been practicing public relations for over a decade, working for Fortune 500 companies, global enterprises, fast growing startups, trade associations and non-profits.

Why are excited to support Liberty and our clients?

If you’re practicing tech PR, there’s no place else you’d rather be than San Francisco. The opportunity to work with Liberty’s creative team, plus the ability to partner with some of the most innovative companies is why I chose this career path. I’m looking forward to watching our clients grow with us, and I’m excited to share their stories.

What are some of your hobbies?

I thrive on creativity. I’m constantly on the lookout for new endeavors that push my creative limits. Along with PR, one of my passions is filmmaking. I am a director/editor, creating award-winning short films and documentaries with my production company. I also enjoy walking around the city on the weekends with my Canon Mark II, sharpening my photography skills. On top of all that, I’m also a graphic designer and fledgling guitar player.

What was the last book you read/song you listened to?

I recently finished reading Animal Farm, again. I enjoy revisiting the classics that I forgot about. The last song I listened to is Ophelia, by the Lumineers. It’s a great song that is definitely worth listening to!

The Age of Algorithms

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There is no doubt that living in the Age of the Algorithm has transformed the way we make decisions. Mechanisation has saved the world time, money, and (in the case of the emergency services) even lives. In addition, there are obvious business and marketing advantages to using intelligent technology that claims to “personalise” our online experience and helps us find what we’re looking for. But are we at risk of letting the use of algorithms and ‘big data’ shape our decision-making, and influence our individuality?

In the late 1990s, book editors for Amazon were writing hundreds of reviews for the increasing number of books being published annually. With demand on staff increasing, Greg Linden, an engineer at the online retailer, used correlation data for products that were often bought together by consumers to create automatic recommendations. Ironically, whilst the algorithms used had the effect of creating a “personal” recommendation, in reality they were not linked in any way with the individual’s purchasing history, and so were devoid of anything classically categorised as personal. In spite of this, the effect this has had on sales since is undeniable, with estimates showing that currently a third of Amazon’s sales arise from these mechanised recommendations.

More recently, Facebook, a company that’s growth is due in part to its complex use of big data, has continued its global domination and grossed almost $6 billion in the first three quarters of 2016. Even more incredible is its 1.79 billion monthly active users, which make Facebook (a company claiming it isn’t in fact a media company) the most powerful media organisation in history. Scarily, Facebook’s “walled garden” approach to news feeds, paired with its goal to “deliver the right content to the right people at the right time” using controversially secret algorithms, means that our exposure to information is being restricted, albeit by the mechanised mirroring of our own choices.

It seems fair to surmise that the use of algorithms online can be a double-edged sword. No consumer can deny the convenience of such appropriate and tailored suggestions, nor is the effect that they have had on streamlining online services and augmenting profitability in business in question. However, at a point where big data weaves itself almost inextricably through facets of society people are beginning to ask themselves whether they really know what they’re looking for, and wondering how accurate these online assumptions can be. It seems that, as a result, in the midst of this Age of Algorithms, human sensibilities are still in demand.

The Weekend that was SXSW 2017

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Liberty’s own Megan Keesee attended SXSW in Austin – an annual conference that covers the future of everything. It is perhaps the most generalized professional conference in existence today, organized from chaos to coherence by categorizing all events into one of four tracks: Interactive, Film, Music, and Comedy. There’s literally something for everyone. Megan attended the interactive track, focusing on the most exciting tech developments in the connected world.

There was tangible excitement in the air as the streets of Austin filled with hopeful millennials, entrepreneurs, and creatives from all walks of life, conference badges hanging proudly around their necks as they sauntered out of local bars and hip restaurants where events were being held by Silicon Valley’s best.

Megan’s weekend was spent supporting our clients who were speaking or attending; sitting in on panels and sessions providing insight into the top trends, and attending the most anticipated media parties and pop-ups. Here’s what she observed, learned and brought back with her.

Standout Sessions

Keynote speakers like Corey Booker and Joe Biden as well as event subtracks on European government and “Trump’s America” electrified the conference with political undertones and pushed a polito-innovation agenda. Perhaps the most memorable session included Joe Biden’s appearance as part of SXSW’s Connect to End Cancer series, and not just because Megan is in fact his #1 fan. His talk outlined the plans for the Biden Foundation’s Cancer Initiative, calling on attendees to join him in his efforts to cure cancer by 2020. Biden energized the crowd with his passion and optimism, and he even stuck around for a few selfies with fans afterward.

Another session close to the hearts of all our Libertinis was a panel titled“Brexit: How UK/European Tech Companies Are Coping,” which we secured and managed at SXSW. The panel explored the changes that tech companies in Europe have experienced and will continue to experience as the effects of Brexit take shape. The panelists included our friends and clients from Wire, WaveOptics, Blis and Jobbatical, who candidly shared anecdotes on how they are  managing the changes brought on by an evolving political landscape and how they plan to face the challenges that lie ahead. The session brought perspective from a diverse group of companies and leaders. Perhaps we’re a bit biased, but this session had to be one of our favorites because of the honesty amidst uncertainty that was shared by panelists.

Pop Ups and Panels

In addition to the main event, one thing that makes SXSW unique to the conference grind is the volume of pop ups and “house parties” hosted by brands on the side. During the week of the festival, most of the venues downtown Austin are completely booked for these side events, and there’s no lack of daytime or evening activities. Megan was able to chat with  Tim Ferriss, who turned  up at the SXSW bookstore to sign copies of his latest work Tools of Titans and also stumbled upon a pop-up promoting one of her all-time favorite books turned television show, American Gods.

In true PR fashion, Megan spent quality time talking to journalists at the TechCrunch Day Party, complete with musical appearances from Kishi Bashi and Madame Gandhi. She made sure not to miss out on good ole Texas bbq and Tex-Mex which she shared with our attending clients. She saved up enough conference momentum on her last night in town to make it to the annual and ever-notorious #MashBash party hosted by the editors at Mashable to celebrate the first weekend of SXSW. Who says you can’t work and play at the same time?

Looking Forward

In the heart of Austin, an oasis of modern thinking in the middle of traditional Texas, SXSW dedicates itself to helping creative people achieve their goals. The conference features a variety of tracks that allow attendees to explore the realm of unfolding possibilities in the worlds of entertainment, culture and technology.

In the last decade SXSW has built a reputation for highlighting the technology and trends that  shape industries, empower people and enable new possibilities. This year, that meant focusing on the geopolitical changes taking place internationally, as the technology of politics and politics of technology took center stage. The biggest takeaway from individual sessions was that the tech community has the power to influence public debate and shape our future.
The larger takeaway, though, in a conference that has become a behemoth of innovation and trade events, is how brands can cut through the noise to make that impact. Those that attended SXSW certainly had the opportunity to practice.

From Liberty US: A World’s Fair Nano Conference Recap

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Liberty’s own Megan Keesee and Leah Monteleone attended the World’s Fair Nano Conference in San Francisco – a festival featuring virtual reality, drones, motorized skateboards, wearable tech, robotics, IoT, 3D printing, and more. This event provided a sneak peak into the future of tech with an all-star speaker lineup of founders and CEOs to share their experiences and insight. Read on for a recap.

To set the scene, this conference looked like Coachella met SXSW in 2050. The day was spent listening to speakers discuss the future of journalism, feminism, AI, robotics, medicine, automation and human connection.

Standout Sessions

With a variety of great talks from neuroscientists to NGOs, the conference truly had everything. Some of the most memorable talks were The Future of IoT and The Future of the Brain. In the Future of IoT session, If This Then That (IFTTT) CEO, Linden Tibbets, pegged the big compatibility problem with the accelerated development of IoT and all our smart appliances. IFTTT’s vision for common, secure API standards looks very bright.

David Eagleman, PhD and Neuroscientist at Stanford University, blew us away with his research on the brain’s perception of senses. He has  developed a vibrating vest that can help the deaf hear, the blind see, and the rest of us develop brand new senses and perceive things like infrared light, radio waves, even the pulse of other human beings.

Another memorable talk was given by Dave Pell, writer and publisher of NextDraft – an email newsletter of the day’s top ten most fascinating news items. He spoke on the future of journalism and how PR will continue to evolve in a society where fake news and alternative facts have become commonplace. He also discussed the relevance of biased news sources and stressed the importance of educating ourselves on both sides of every news story. As PR professionals, we cannot just expose ourselves to news consistent with our thoughts and beliefs.

Tech on Display

In addition to the presentations, the conference had row upon row of cutting edge tech on display. We saw consumer and enterprise drones, virtual reality headsets, artificial reality demo booths, smart baby monitors, new and improved wearables and more.

Looking Forward

Our main takeaway? The tech world is continuously evolving. In order to remain relevant as tech PR professionals, we must make sure we remain nimble and change with the times. It is essential we continue to challenge ourselves as an agency and our clients in this ever-changing digital world to ensure we stay at the forefront of the tech industry.

An introduction to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): What you need to know

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With a whopping 2.5 quintillion bytes of data now being produced every single day, the debate around data privacy is showing no signs of slowing down;  consumers and businesses are still asking the same fundamental question – how, where and by whom is our data gathered and stored? This issue is at the heart of the upcoming EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Designed to bring more transparency and structure to data protection, it is the first major legislative change to European Data Protection law since Directive (95/46/EC) in 1995, which regulated the processing of personal data.

Despite the importance of this regulation, lots of British companies are seemingly unaware of it. This has been partially due to indecision on the part of UK businesses about whether to invest resources in achieving GDPR compliance, given the lack of clarity around the power of European directives and acts post-Brexit. However, following the UK government’s confirmation that it will implement the GDPR, despite the decision to leave the EU, businesses will need to be compliant by 25 May 2018 or face enforcement action.

In light of this, now is a good time to look at exactly what the GDPR is, what it will mean for UK businesses and how your organisation can prepare for it.

What is it?

Simply put, the GDPR is the new regulation framework to create tighter limits on the processing of personal data and give greater rights to individuals. It essentially protects the right of European residents to regain control over how their personal information is shared and used. It will apply to EU-based organisations, as well as the data processing activities of those who target EU data subjects – meaning that if your business is involved in the acquisition, use, transmission, storage, destruction and breach of personal data in any way, you will be affected, regardless of whether your business stores or processes data on EU soil.

The act contains eight principles data processors must abide by when it comes to personal data – these include provisions that data need to be processed fairly and lawfully, be obtained only for specific purposes, be accurate and kept up to date. Finally, anyone holding the data must take measures to protect it, with data not transferred to a country outside the EU unless that country also has rules in place to adequately protect it. There are also new limitations surrounding consent, as data owners must grant separate consent for different processing activities and can withdraw them at any time, or have their data erased under the GDPR. Furthermore, if a company has already made information public, then they have an obligation to pass the deletion request along to others.

It is important to note that GDPR only applies to Personably Identifiable Information (PII), which may comprise a very small percentage of an organisation’s data. However, GDPR covers a wide range of PII and can include URLs, pseudonymised data, physical data and so on. Personal details such as email, for example, may not hold PII and therefore do not need to become part of the compliance envelope.

Why you should care

As discussed, the GDPR will define how organisations can collect, use and transfer personal data. Not only will businesses need to adhere to local laws governing information retention in every market they operate in, but they also need to re-evaluate their individual business requirements and risk appetite. Failure to comply with the GDPR risks a maximum penalty of either €20 million or 4 percent of worldwide turnover (whichever is greater) – it can cost your business money, reputation, credibility and more. Equally, the first organisations to become compliant can use it as an accolade, highlighting that personal data is safe in their hands.

In addition, service providers or ‘data processors’, which  were not previously subject to the more restrictive aspects of data protection legislation, will also now be affected. Organisations that use third parties will have to ensure that their data provider complies with the regulations as, in case of a breach, both data processor and data controller will be considered to have shared liability and will be penalised. Furthermore, all public authorities and organisations where core activities involve ‘regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a large scale’ or large-scale processing of ‘special categories of personal data’ will be required to employ a dedicated Data Protection Officer.

Always be prepared

Ahead of the GDPR, it is very likely that most businesses will need to overhaul their framework to ensure compliance and that they are aware of what data they hold, why they hold it, where it’s kept and how long it should be kept for. They will also need to re-think what data is actually needed to manage business and employment relationships.

Organisations will be required to build a transparency framework that re-thinks how they engage with individuals, from contracting and permissions processes to providing clear and comprehensive information on how they handle personal data. The next step is to review contracts with third parties, and include a right of audit in their contracts. As part of this process, there is a huge education element involved. Regular data protection training will of course be required and will have to be extended to contractors and other third parties.

Becoming GDPR compliant will no doubt be a long and laborious task, but will also be a significant achievement, and potentially one of the screening criteria for tenders in the future. Let’s not forget that all businesses handling personal data will be required by law to become GDPR compliant by 25 May 2018, so it’s crucial to start planning and revisiting your data strategy today.

Welcome to Liberty, FutureDial!

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Liberty is excited to welcome on board the latest client to our San Francisco HQ, FutureDial.

Based in Sunnyvale, California, FutureDial is the leading provider-of-choice of mobile device processing solutions for Wireless Carriers, Retailers, Mobile Device Buy-Back Trade-In companies, Third-Party Logistics, and ITAD Providers. It has appointed Liberty to provide public relations communications and counsel, with Liberty supporting FutureDial’s core North American business and its ongoing operational expansion in Asia and Europe.

2016 was a record year for FutureDial, marking its highest recorded business volume. Given year-end residual value averages, FutureDial solutions processed over $6 billion worth of smartphones worldwide, within secondary markets. Looking at 2017, mobile device processing volume is expected to further increase with more trade-ins and buy-backs. FutureDial offers its customer base of mobile device reverse logistics operators, wireless carriers and retail operators powerful software to receive, triage and clear devices via its proprietary Lean One-Touch™ as well as its other solutions, which all improve efficiencies and increase throughput for faster turnaround times in mobile device processing operations and retail centers.

Dee Gibbs, Founder and Global CEO at Liberty, said: “We’re delighted to be working with a market leader such as FutureDial. Mobile device processing is a very dynamic market driven by the continual evolution of mobile technology to offer ever greater functionality and increased processing power. Our goal is to reinforce the position of FutureDial at the forefront of mobile device processing and strategic solutions through innovative insight, thought leadership and compelling storytelling.”

Thomas Rayas, SVP Marketing & Customer Success for FutureDial, commented: “Liberty has a reputation for their focus on mobile technology and telecom markets, which aligns well with our go-to-market strategies. Liberty’s communication efforts are already yielding positive results and we look forward to a successful partnership.”

We are thrilled to welcome FutureDial to our list of clients!

Introducing: Grace Simpson

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Tell us a little about your background:

My background is in professional dance, which is perhaps a little unorthodox compared to most in tech PR. I graduated from Northern Ballet School in the Summer of 2012 and traveled for 2 years abroad Celebrity cruise ships performing in their theatre productions and teaching ballroom dancing. I was lucky enough to explore the southern Caribbean, Norwegian Fiords, Russia and Scandinavia as well as the more familiar sights of the Mediterranean.

Whilst this experience was truly amazing the constant changes involved in this career had me pining for a more stable profession, so, I hung up my dance shoes and moved to London in 2014 and had a brief venture into sales and event planning with Wimbledon based music agency, Earcandy. At the end of 2016, I  joined Liberty’s work experience program. I felt drawn to tech PR in particular because of the rapid pace: on a day-to-day basis I might be looking at anything from AR to cyber-security, and staying on the pulse with the media and latest technology advancements is really exciting.

Why are you excited to support Liberty and our clients?

During my initial experience at Liberty, I was struck by the dynamic and creative atmosphere just as much as I was by the exciting prospect of working with such a wide variety of clients, all at the forefront of technology today. I see no better way to learn about this fascinating industry than by being exposed to such a wealth of shared knowledge and experience and of course the ever changing and developing landscape of technology itself.

What are some of your hobbies?

Given my background in the arts I have at times been obsessive about fitness and nutrition. Some of this remains (though thankfully with less of the original intensity) as I regularly run to decompress after a long day. I love to cook for my fiancé, family and friends as eating together has always played a fundamental role in my understanding of family time from childhood to now. I also salsa dance at various clubs in the city from time to time but deny that this is any sort of prep for an elaborate first dance!

What was the last book you read/song you listened to?

The last book I read was Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks. I studied World War I  and II  literature during my schooling and find they offer important perspective for life today; and there’s nothing like losing yourself in the facts or fiction.

The last song I listened to was 1999 by Prince. I’m ashamed to say I’m only just educating myself since his music has been available on Spotify -but I love it!

Introducing: Jim Lubinskas

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Tell us a little about your background:

I was born and raised in Connecticut but attended Catholic University in Washington D.C. and ended up staying in the area. I studied philosophy and, while I enjoyed my classes, I decided there was not much of a job market for philosophy majors. Hence my move into public relations.

I have nearly 20 years of public relations experience in agency, association and corporate environments. This includes directing PR campaigns for clients including: Microsoft, Cisco, USA TODAY and Monster Government Solutions. I have also worked with smaller companies and start-ups to create media strategies and generate market visibility.

Why are you excited to support Liberty and our clients?

I couldn’t be more excited to have joined Liberty, and looking forward to supporting its clients.

In fact, I will be moving to San Francisco for both family and career reasons, which is a great position to be in. The San Francisco area is home to some of the greatest technology brands and visionaries in the world. Any tech PR professional would be thrilled to work in this booming area which is home to many key journalists and influencers. This is especially true with regard to Liberty, as we are continuing to build out our San Francisco office to grow alongside the thriving tech sector in Silicon Valley. It is a very exciting time and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.

What are some of your hobbies?

I have two young kids so that takes up a lot of my time. I like to stay in shape with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, boxing and kickboxing. I also love music, movies, books and hanging out with family and friends.

Introducing: Riikka Heinäaho

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Tell us a little about your background:

I’m originally from central Finland, where I studied at Jyvaskylan Kristillinen Opisto and received a degree in Children and Family Welfare. After graduating, I became an Au Pair in a small coastal town in Scotland. In 2014, I moved to London as I wanted to pursue career in the technology field.

Prior to Liberty, I worked at a startup called AnyVan and this is where I fell in love with communications and PR. From AnyVan I moved to a PR agency that was fully consumer tech based, where I supported Acer with their communications and PR in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland.

Why are you excited to support Liberty and our clients?

My past experience and interest in tech were the main factors I wanted to join the Liberty team. I was really impressed by the company’s client base and am excited to start as an Account Executive.

So far I am really enjoying my time at Liberty because of the fast paced environment.

What are some of your hobbies?

I enjoy walking, hiking and anything outdoors related; luckily London has many great green spaces to offer!

I also love taking advantage of all of the amazing museums and art galleries that London has to offer.

What was the last book you read/song you listened to?

I’m currently reading a couple of very different books; Tess Gerritse’s, Playing with Fire and Ernst Fischer’s, A Kim Jong‑Il Production.

Last song I listened to was; Friends – Tom Misch remix. This song is really bittersweet and anyone who has friends overseas can relate!

Looking Ahead in 2017

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It is time to look ahead to what the New Year might have in store…

Predictions are always a tricky thing to make. Fast forward twelve months and you will either look smug or red faced – as an agency with fee paying clients, neither is particularly desirable. So rather than risk the annual prognostication gauntlet, this year we are going to suggest a couple of trends that as communications professionals, (in-house and agency-side) you might like to consider.

You can bet that trade shows and events will be on agenda for our clients in this year and one of the perennial challenges in PR and marketing is how to elevate a brand message above the crowd and thus making clients stand-out. The start of the 2016 saw a big ground-swell for VR, and while this will no doubt continue, the success of Pokémon Go (to us at least) highlights the great opportunity represented by AR from a comms perspective in 2017 too. Being less immersive and more interactive with the physical world, AR must be on the radar of comms people as a genuine tactic for events and campaigns alike in the New Year.

Content will always be king for my money, but what has changed however, is the type of content that agencies should look to be encouraging with clients in the New Year. We would definitely keep an eye out for visual storytelling trends; for example, how brands implement Instagram stories or Twitter videos into their online marketing and communications strategies – done well they can offer the ‘wow-factor’ and attract attention to core brand values and messages.

Artificial Intelligence is big news across the pantheon of global media. Whether it’s autonomous vehicles, cybersecurity or marketing orientated news, AI is here to stay and with the ‘Big 5’ all vying for a piece of the pie, with various offerings such as Siri, Cortana, Alexa & Echo, 2017 will see plenty more developments.

But have we thought of the potential of AI from a comms perspective? What if you could have a link to a chatbot at the end of an email or press release rather than a stagnant corporate boilerplate or URL to a ‘press section’ on a company’s website… wouldn’t that be different? It would certainly be something innovative and could even serve to elevate awareness of the brand over its competitors.

Finally, part of our job is to remain at the cutting edge of the comms space as it grows, morphs and changes direction. A favourite in terms of discoveries in 2016 was Medium (essentially long-form Twitter), and Ghost runs a close second!

As 2017 in upon us, keep your eyes wide open for new platforms that might provide a good fit for presenting client messages untapped to areas and audiences – it is no longer enough to simply revert to ‘type’ and the likes of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as the social media platforms when considering campaigns.

So there you have it, 2017 in a nutshell… let us know if you agree, or indeed if you have any ideas of what you think will be big in the comms space in the New Year – we’d love to hear your opinions too!

Introducing: Mike Walker

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Tell us a little about your background:

I graduated in September from the University of Lincoln with a degree in English, but have been working since late April, when university all of a sudden, sadly, no longer was a thing.

Prior to arriving at Liberty, I was a freelancer for Hotwire PR’s B2B and consumer tech accounts, drafting by-lined articles along many verticals including robotics, AR/VR, home technology devices and 3D printing.

Before I started working in PR, I was the Lifestyle Editor of the university paper, The Linc, and I wrote articles for my regional newspaper, the Leicester Mercury, over the course of my degree as an intern. In my second year of university, I wrote a theatrical play, which was performed in February 2016, for which I won an award at the end of year awards ceremony. During the production, I headed a marketing campaign for the play, which achieved several pieces of regional coverage; technically my first PR experience!

Why are you excited to support Liberty and our clients?

The main reason I wanted to be in PR was because I am passionate about writing and creativity, and I’m also keen to work for brands that develop products that are perpetually changing. Therefore, tech PR is the space to be a part of in this evolving new digital age.

Liberty’s fantastic range of clients caters towards many of my personal interests, and I am ecstatic to be working not only with a brilliant team here in London, but also with the great team over in the US. What also attracted me to the agency is its global presence. The fact that the agency has offices in the UK and US is testament to the fact that it is doing very well, and I love having the opportunity to work with people from all over the world on a daily basis!

Another big reason why I am excited to be supporting the team at Liberty is that I really want to build my media network. Clearly, Liberty has extensive connections in all corners of the media world. To build my own network through Liberty is not only great for me professionally, but also highly satisfying on a personal level.

What are some of your hobbies?

My passion has always been writing, especially stage and film scripts. My friend and I are currently in the early stages of producing two short films that I have written. We eventually aim to get funding to film them on a larger scale! I also love reading (I’m thankful for books on the long tube commute), swimming and travelling – you can find my travel ramblings on my blog, if you have nothing better to do!

What was the last book you read or song you listened to?

Ironically, the last book I read was Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?  by Philip K. Dick.  Inevitably, this has resulted in some seriously dangerous existential thinking whilst at work, but I’m comforted by the fact that a robot apocalypse perpetrated by the robots we work with won’t be TOO bad… right?

2016 Wrap Up

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I am confident we can all agree that 2016 has been quite an eventful year on the world stage.  In the UK the news that BREXIT was going to happen came as a shock to most, and in the US, the presidential elections completed the uncertainty double.  With the political climate changes and some fairly radical shifts, we’ve been thinking about what that means for the Liberty Comms team as we come to the end of 2016 and embark on a new year which promises continued technological advances whatever happens on the world political stage.

Our global Liberty team has had plenty of positives to share from both sides of the Atlantic.

At Liberty in London, we announced a new managing director for the UK business with Elena Davidson taking the reigns.  We welcomed Riikka Heinaaho and Michael Walker and in San Francisco the team continued to expand.  Just two short years after launching our office in California, we’ve grown the business with some fantastic client support and welcomed new team members who brought the best of the Silicon Valley PR scene to Liberty’s door.  We welcomed Megan Keesee as a Senior Account Executive and two new Junior Account Executives, Leah Monteleone and Anna Palagi. Adding to the senior team,  Liberty’s senior consultant, Mark Button supports from San Diego.  We’re on the lookout for more new talent for 2017 as we plan for further growth – in our world nothing stands still and we’re looking forward to the next phase of Liberty’s story.

2016 brought exciting new clients to our already outstanding roster. In the UK, we forged partnerships with iTalent Corp., Smart IoT, Fleep and WaveOptics. In the US this year, we had the pleasure of working on projects with the Estonian government’s e-Residency Program, Kobi Technologies and Devicescape and established continuing partnerships with Blis, FutureDial, Teleport, Efima, and THINKWARE. It has been a busy and hugely rewarding year – and we wouldn’t want it any other way. We love being part of our clients’ teams and being part of their success in the technology sector around the globe.

Liberty is gearing up for a new year with fresh eyes, open minds and new ideas. I am confident that my international team of PR professionals will kick off 2017 with greater momentum and enthusiasm than ever. As always, we want to extend our gratitude to our amazing clients and partners. We wouldn’t be where we are today without you. Cheers to a successful 2016 and a prosperous new year!

Liberty Presents our Senior Executives – An Interview with Elena Davidson

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At Liberty we think it is important to honor all of our employees, especially the people who have helped build this agency into what it is today. With that being said we are excited to kick off a new series profiling all of our senior executives.

First up is Liberty’s new Managing Director, Elena Davidson, coming to us from our London office. She has been with Liberty since 2008 and has played an important role in Liberty’s continuing growth. We sat down with Elena to learn more about her:

Hi Elena, congratulations on your promotion and thanks for volunteering to help us kick off our new series. Our first question is, what is your management style?

I think Liberty has a very special culture – one that is centered around an ethos of support and collaboration. I am a firm believer in this and the benefit it brings to the team spirit we have within our offices. It’s far more motivating to work hard for a company you believe in and who believes in you!

Let’s take out our crystal ball, shall we? We wanted to know, where would you like to see Liberty in the next 5 years?

Liberty is founded on great service for our clients and great opportunities for our team. As we look to 2017 and beyond I see us continuing to create and deliver exceptional international PR services for our clients. We also have an ambition to build our business organically by creating a team that we hire ourselves, knows each other, believes in our business and collaborates across time zones.

What is your favorite/proudest memory during your time at Liberty?

My proudest memory at Liberty was becoming Managing Director. It is both a privilege and an honor!

On a more personal note, if you could live in a book, TV show or film, what would it be?

I am going to defer to my daughter on this one – she’d say Frozen which would probably be quite a good choice!

Besides being a PR super star, what was your dream job growing up?

I wanted to be a teacher. Lucky for me, I married one instead!

Thanks so much for joining us today Elena, we really appreciate everything you do here at Liberty. Thanks for sharing your insight!

Make sure to tune in next time, as we continue to interview the senior management team here at Liberty to see what makes them tick.

Welcome to Liberty, iTalent!

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italent-imageSome good news was announced this week by the Liberty Senior Management team – we are very pleased to welcome on board a brand new client to our London HQ, iTalent.

Based in San Jose, California, (with international offices in Hong Kong and India), iTalent is a leading global technology consulting and cloud integration firm, and Liberty has the privilege of helping them build their brand across Europe.

iTalent serves some of the biggest names in the tech industry today, including Cisco, Veritas and Sephora and we’re thrilled they have chosen Liberty to help run their European campaign.

With capabilities and practice areas that are driving innovation and a new level of productivity within the enterprise space, iTalent offers clients highly skilled expert resources in a broad range of disciplines while at the same time delivering exceptional service and outstanding business value for its customers, a truly exciting space.

Dee Gibbs, Founder and Global CEO at Liberty Communications is sure Liberty will serve iTalent well, commenting that “our understanding and expertise in the technology space, combined with a thorough understanding of the consultancy dynamic, means that Liberty is perfectly placed to support iTalent’s European strategy.”

Brion Lau, Vice-President of Marketing at iTalent agrees, explaining how Liberty was an obvious choice due to the approach, setting them apart from the competition – “Liberty was the first firm that actually did its homework and came equipped with suggestions that were relevant, timely and, in some cases, already under discussion internally. Europe is a huge target market for us at the moment so we are looking forward to getting started and to the results that we know Liberty will deliver.”

As we look to the festive season and the near year ahead, it’s rightly an exciting time for Liberty, and we’re thrilled to welcome iTalent to our list of fantastic clients!

Happy Halloween from the Liberty team!

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With Halloween officially upon us, we wanted to share some of the team’s shenanigans in favour of the celebrations.

Although thought to be an ‘Americanized’ tradition, Halloween as we now know it actually originated in the Celtic fringes of Britain, and was adapted by Christian traditions, immigrants’ conventions and an everlasting desire for sweets. In the UK and the rest of the world, it’s seen as a great excuse to celebrate creativity (in its most horrifying versions!) and uniqueness, while having a drink or two. That’s definitely the case with our team; we take the Liberty to use such occasions as a team bonding experience too – much like in every self-respected horror movie, only if we stick together we’ll be able to ensure survival – be that from zombies or pressing deadlines!

And, although Halloween sales are somewhere in the billions for 2016, we believe that all you need is a good idea to work out something brilliant on a small budget – that goes from client campaigns to a Halloween costume 😉

We hope you’ll find our costumes for this year entertaining – and we’re of course open to any suggestions for next time. What did you dress up as?

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Liberty’s End of Summer Liquid Lunch

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Earlier this month we gathered for the bi-annual Liberty Liquid Lunch. We were joined by a few of our favourite journalists across a variety of sectors, such as telco, corporate, finance, consumer tech and IT security.

The main reason why the Liberty team enjoys hosting the Liberty Liquid Lunches twice a year is that they provide us with a fantastic opportunity to catch up with old and new journalist friends, over delicious food and drinks . At Liberty, we take pride in our long lasting relationships with the media across the United Kingdom, which we aim to nurture with every chance we get.

The whole Liberty team is incredibly passionate about food and it is safe to say that The Oyster Shed did not fail us with their delicious mini burgers, mozzarella sticks, fish and chips and halloumi bites. The incredible views over the Thames added to the lovely meet-up, while we also had the pleasure of a member of our US team joining us, Megan from the Liberty San Francisco office, on her last night in London before flying back to the Fog City.

We’d like to thank everyone who made it to the Oyster Shed again. It was great to catch up with some of the Liberty Liquid Lunch regulars and getting to know some of the new faces better.

We hope to see you all again at our next Liquid Lunch on the coming year – until next time…!

We also want to say thanks to Philip Bedford for taking all these pictures from the Liquid Lunch.

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Getting in the News without News

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Just because you don’t have hard news doesn’t mean you can’t be part of the news cycle. By creating your own news team and developing a unique point of view around topical issues, you can generate a steady flow of news and relevant commentary between major events like funding, partnerships, product/service launches or new hires.

Contributed content– Contributed articles/bylines are a great way to gain executive visibility and brand awareness—plugging you directly in front of your ideal audience. A contributed article is drafted directly from the perspective of a company’s thought-leader, and is then published by a target publication for their readers. Not only does this build a reputation for your executives, but it also allows the company to strengthen its brand voice with a solid stance or opinion on topical industry news. However, it’s crucial not to come off too self-promotional in these pieces, as publications will be inclined to steer clear of anything that feels like an “advertorial”. To gain even greater visibility, be sure to amplify and distribute these contributed pieces via your social channels.

News hijacks– Identify top trends that matter most for your business and develop a compelling point of view on each subject. This is helpful in addition to bylines and can be leveraged to insert your company’s voice into bigger industry news. More importantly, timeliness is key, so in addition to having a unique perspective, make sure you have content ready to go once news hit. Furthermore, consistently offering prepared comment to journalists on a set of topics will help establish your reputation with them, which will lead to them thinking of you and your company next time they have a story that needs influencer insight.

Research– Make the information and insights from your organization work for you by creating a report on trends that only your company can identify, based off the data you collect. If you have compelling data or research that you can share, turn that into a campaign that hits home with broader market trends. It is even better if there’s enough data to create a quarterly report, to remind media who you are and what you can offer. You’ll want to use data that demonstrates your company’s unique selling point, as these reports act as proof to journalists that your company really is the ONLY place to obtain the information you’re supplying. And even if they don’t write about your report, it will demonstrate to them why you’re different, and what you can offer. And when there’s no news, it’ll be these relationships that will create new press opportunities.

In all, the takeaway is simple. Don’t depend on expected news, create your own. By planning strategically ahead and creating intriguing storylines, you can be in the driver’s seat of your company’s story.

Bringing the UK to SF with Our First Media Happy Hour

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Last month we were joined by journalists and friends of Liberty to celebrate a British-themed evening at San Francisco’s Whitechapel gin bar for our inaugural media happy hour. The bar gets its namesake from the infamous East London neighborhood and is home to the largest gin selection in North America. It is styled as a mix between a Victorian-era distillery and an abandoned London Underground tube station.

Inspired by the Liquid Lunches hosted by our counterparts in the UK, the evening was an opportunity to spend time with the friends and media that have helped to make Liberty a success in the US. The evening was well spent with everyone, sipping remarkable cocktails and sampling delicious food prepared in an incredible setting.

We wanted to say thank you to everyone who joined us for our inaugural event. Thanks for making it a great one, we look forward to seeing you all at our next event!

Pokémon GO: Is Augmented Reality the Answer Marketers Have Been Looking for?

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Pokémon GO has achieved astonishing success since its release so far, and with over 20 million users in the US alone, the game has the highest number of downloads in the history of Apple’s app store. Consequently, many businesses have already begun to use the trend of Pokémon GO as a promotional tool, for example, through the use of ‘lures’ to encourage users to enter their stores or restaurants to catch rare Pokémon to add to their collection. With the launch of Pokémon GO, marketers have also found another new method to engage with their customers; Augmented Reality (AR). Yet how can marketers seize the AR trend, as an opportunity of reaching the masses?

In the past, previous developments of AR have failed to amount the same level of success. In 2013 “Google Glass” was viewed as the next step towards a new era of technology. The product was designed in the style of eyeglasses, which displayed information through the lenses and included an attached camera. However, it was ultimately deemed a failure with no real insight as to why a customer should pay $1500 for a product they struggled to find a need for. Was it the technology that was the problem, or was the world simply not ready for AR? Since the widespread approval of Pokémon GO from across the globe, perhaps now is the perfect time for further development in AR.

However, the use of AR has been no secret for marketers. Last year, Ford created an app which allowed users to see what a Mustang would look like on their own driveway, giving them the ability to alter preferences on the model, colour and wheels of the car. Although we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of AR, it’s inevitable that other companies will start to follow the trend over the next several years and introduce the technology as part of their own marketing proposition.

The trial and error of using AR by marketers has been recorded over several years, but with consumers’ appetite at an all-time high, now is the time for businesses to push forward in the development and application of the technology. It goes without saying, Pokémon GO users haven’t been playing the game with the intention to be targeted by marketers, however the subtly of marketing behind the game is proving to be effective. For now.

(Image source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2016/07/09/ten-things-i-wish-i-knew-when-i-started-pokemon-go/#77aa31cd1d8a)

Introducing: Lyle McAdam

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Tell us a little about your background:

I’m originally from St. Andrews, a small town on the East coast of Scotland about 45 mins north of Edinburgh. Although my parents sound proper Scottish, I appear to be the exact opposite, which may be due to the fact that I went to an international school.

I studied a four-year joint honours Master of Arts degree in International Relations & History at The University of Aberdeen, where I specialised in the increase in female involvement within terrorism and international relations, as well as gender issues in the USA and their IPE (International Political Economy). Throughout my time studying, I incorporated a year abroad at The University of Stockholm, in Sweden through an exchange programme. While there, I even took Swedish lessons and am now fairly proficient!

I was confident that PR and Communications was what I wanted to do in terms of a career from my last year at university – my degree provided a lot of transferable skills and I always found the industry interesting.

Why are you excited to support Liberty and our clients?

I think Liberty is an amazing agency! What I love about it, is the size – it’s a large enough agency for me to learn, network and advance in my career, but at the same time, small enough to really learn the fundamentals of this industry with a great team around me for constant support. Furthermore, coming from a generation where tech was embedded in my life from a very young age, I have an awareness of tech and the essential nature attached to the industry, which I’m excited to bring to the clients at Liberty.

What are some of your hobbies?

I love to run, and I try and go every day after work, as it de-stresses me and gives me time to clear my head. I live in Islington, which offers great access to parks right on my doorstep so it would be a shame to waste this.

I’m also into fashion and design; I’m always looking for new ways to improve my room and I use Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration. Worth mentioning that, any spare time I get, you’ll probably find me catching up with my family and a lot of my friends who live abroad on Facetime/Skype/Whatsapp etc.

What was the last book you read/song you listened to?

The last book I read was called ‘Mind Change’ by Susan Greenfield, which basically discusses the impact of digital technologies on our minds. I usually like books that are informative, which stimulate and challenge my way of thinking.

The last song I listened to was ‘Cheap Thrills’ by Sia, which is essentially my weekend song.

Introducing: Anna Palagi

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Tell us a little about your background:

I graduated from DePaul University in Chicago with a degree in Public Relations and Advertising and a double minor in Women’s Studies and Public Law. I’ve been in public relations since my sophomore year and most recently worked at The OutCast Agency and SutherlandGold Group in San Francisco.

I’ve worked with a range of clients, from small startups to Fortune 100 companies. I also have experience in entertainment PR, and worked promoting films such as Lizzie Borden Took an Ax and Bad Country, as well as assisting in managing the PR efforts for Kim Kardashian and Johnny Depp.

Why are you excited to support Liberty and our clients?

I was drawn to Liberty because of my experience with enterprise, business and consumer tech. I’m excited to be working within an agency that has such an impressive lineup of clients. I’m thrilled to join the Liberty Communications team as a Junior Account Executive, and know this will be a fun yet knowledgeable experience

What are some of your hobbies?

When I’m not storytelling, you can find me blogging to share everything superficial in the world of lifestyle, styling and art. I spend my time traveling, frequenting the gym, experimenting in the kitchen, and collecting shoes.

What was the last book you read or song you listened to?

I just finished reading #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso, a novel that is deeply personal yet universal. Filled with cunning and frank observations and behind-the-scenes stories from the Nasty Gal’s meteoric rise, #GIRLBOSS covers a lot of ground. It proves that successful is about trusting your instincts and following your gut, knowing which rules to follow and which to break.

5 Ways to Use Social Media for Event Participation

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Social Media is everywhere, and with worldwide social media users are predicted to reach 2.55 billion by 2018, it’s essential to make sure you’re active on it to engage with your target audience. This is particularly true when it comes to events. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn can be excellent ways to promote your participation in an upcoming conference, whether your company is speaking, sponsoring or exhibiting. But why stop there?! It’s essential to continue promoting your participation during and after the event.
We’ve therefore come up with these 5 social media tips to promote your participation at the next industry event:
1. #Hashtags are Key
Many events create a unique, short hashtag to help get the discussion going. Using the specialized hashtag for the event can enhance your social buzz by allowing your followers to track the conversation around the event, and increase participation. Promote it everywhere, including your company’s website, dedicated emails, social networks, etc. The hashtag is a great way for attendees to engage with the event content, speakers, and each other.
2. Time is of the Essence
Get started now! The earlier you promote your participation at the event and use the dedicated hashtag, the greater your chances are for success. This helps to create momentum and help you reach a larger audience. If you’re trying to gain a lot of recognition at one of the larger industry conferences, it would be best to start promoting a few months in advance to ensure a wider reach.
3. Reach Out
Social media is an ideal channel for initiating conversations. If you’re participating in an event, reaching out to attendees, speakers, and prospective conference-goers can help get them excited about the conference. Whether it’s an RT (retweet), a direct message, or even sharing their content on platforms such as Linkedin, this will help you stay relevant by sharing related content around the event and initiate social buzz.
If you’re speaking at an event, engaging with other speakers via social media can help promote your participation. . The more attendees at the event, the more people that get to hear the awesome content they have to share, so it’s in the interest of all speakers to promote both the event itself and the other exciting speakers on the lineup. Therefore, when you tweet, make sure to mention other speakers with the hopes of a retweet! This can also work for event sponsorship/exhibiting.
4. Keep your Followers Updated
It’s essential that you maintain the momentum during the event by posting in real-time. Activities, photos, sponsors, special guests, speakers, agenda info, and anything else that is cool, and relevant for the conference can provide great content for Twitter feeds, and can be scheduled in advance as well as live-tweeted on the day.
5. Follow Back
Most importantly, engage with and follow-up with those who you met at the event. From the hashtag, you’ll be able to get feedback from attendees about what they liked best, least, and what they hope to see for next time (hopefully your participation is a part of this). This will increase the likelihood to return the following year and share their positive experiences with their own networks.
Don’t miss out on all the added value that can be created by utilizing the wonderful world of #social media.

Kourtney, Junior Account Assistant

Introducing: Megan Keesee

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Tell us a little about your background:

I graduated from Southeast Missouri State University (near my hometown of Jackson, Missouri) with degrees in both Global Cultures and Languages and Mass Communications. I’ve been in the public relations and marketing industry for almost three years now. I most recently held a position as Assistant Account Executive at The OutCast Agency in San Francisco, and prior to that, worked at Golin in Chicago. In previous positions, I’ve worked with a range of clients, from small startups to Fortune 100 companies—such as Facebook, Amazon Web Services, Box, Minted, Walmart, Corona Extra and Silk. I love writing, content strategy, and brand building with a dash of media relations.

Why are you excited to support Liberty and our clients?

I was drawn to Liberty by the fact that even as a small agency, breaking into the Silicon Valley market, it has proved its worth with U.S. campaigns supporting European government programs, leading tech companies, and new players that challenge the status quo of some of the Valley’s most successful startups. This is a lucrative agency quickly making its way to the top with some of the most interesting clients I could hope to work with. Liberty is going places and I just really want to be along for the ride.

What are some of your hobbies?

I’m passionate about humanitarian efforts and languages. I speak roughly three languages— English, Spanish and ein bisschen German— and am currently learning Portuguese as a fourth. I really love to travel and learn about new places and people. Most recently, I spent New Year’s in Japan, navigating through Tokyo with a few broken Japanese phrases and snowboarding in Niseko. I’m also a member/volunteer for the United Nations Association as well as More Than Me, a nonprofit organization focused on women’s education in Liberia. I’m a big fan of outdoor activities, from hiking, running, snowboarding, rock climbing, to canoeing and camping, along with my boyfriend and our German Shepherd mix, Champ. This year I also plan to try my hand at skydiving and surfing.

What was the last book you read or song you listened to?

I am almost done reading two books;  The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America, by Erik Larson and Waging Nonviolent Struggle: 20th Century Practice and 21st Century Potential, by Gene Sharp.

Introducing: Leah Monteleone

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Tell us a little about your background:

I graduated from Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo in June of 2015 with a degree in Communications and Psychology. After a month-long graduation trip to Southeast Asia, I started work at The OutCast Agency where I worked with various B2B and B2C clients.

At my last agency, I was involved in a multitude of projects including: Super Bowl 2016 crisis communication strategizing, cloud computing industry and competitive landscape analysis, proactive story angle and content creation, and interactive team brainstorms.

Prior to OutCast, I interned with South San Francisco biotechnology company, Solazyme, where I supported both the public relations and marketing teams. I also spent a summer interning with the San Francisco Giants as a brand ambassador for their nonprofit organization, The San Francisco Junior Giants. The Jr. Giants were created to provide underprivileged children in the SF area with a summer baseball camp, free of charge. After a couple summers of building brands and sharing their stories, I decided to pursue public relations.

Why are you excited to support Liberty and our clients?

My experience with enterprise, business and consumer tech led me straight to Liberty where I am elated to be a part of the team.

As a lover of reading, writing and storytelling, I knew PR was the perfect career for me. There is nothing more satisfying than being able to tell a captivating yet concise story – especially in technology, for those stories are the most challenging (yet fun!) to tell. In order to convey a compelling story, the narrator must also believe in the company or product. That’s why I chose Liberty – with an impressive lineup of tech clients, I knew I’d have the time of my life!

I am honored to join the Liberty Communications team as the new Junior Account Executive in the San Francisco office. I am ready to ramp up and plan to hit the ground running. I am confident that this is going to be a fun and knowledge-rich ride. I am excited to get the ball rolling and look forward to learning all things Liberty.

What are some of your hobbies?

When I’m not storytelling, I enjoy reading, scuba diving, cooking, traveling and practicing yoga. You can find me at most SF Giants games supporting Joe Panik and Buster Posey or meditating after a long day of pitching reporters. I have recently taken up the piano and I am currently perfecting The Beatle’s infamous “Lucy in the Sky”.

What was the last book you read or song you listened to?

I just finished reading The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, a heartbreaking historical fiction novel about the Nazis invading France during WWII. Hannah captures WWII from the perspective of the French women in an emotional yet inspiring story.

2015 Wrap Up

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Wow! What an exciting year 2015 has been here at Liberty Communications.

Following the success of Liberty’s San Francisco presence, we’ve been growing our US team footprint. We welcomed Rene Musech who has recently enjoyed a promotion to Account Director status after only 6 months with the Liberty team and   Kourtney Evans, who joined our junior team members. New hires meant more space so we’ve also celebrated moving into brand new San Francisco offices in the heart of the tech hub, overlooking beautiful city views offering easy access to our growing roster of West Coast based clients.

At Liberty’s London office we’ve also seen team additions welcoming Molly Andruskevicius to the junior team, Maria Loupa to the account management team and Donna Airey to our account directors. We’ve also moved our London office suite upstairs at The Plaza and now have access to additional brainstorm seating areas and a dart board no less!

We launched our brand new website in December at www.libertycomms.com offering a wealth of information about who we are and what we do. Liberty is a boutique agency with a global reach, so we’re proud to offer our clients best in breed services with a regional footprint all for exceptional value. Why choose anyone else?

Liberty has been delighted at the response to our global footprint. 2015 saw us bring on a fantastic roster of technology focused companies including GENBAND, including Kandy and the fring Alliance, Company Cue, Exact Ventures, Mobileum, Globetouch, Pryvate and Starship Technologies. Liberty’s existing clients Quickplay, CBNL and WeDo Technologies have also enjoyed Liberty’s support for the North American market and the recommendations from the industry keep coming, so we’re confident that 2016 is going to bring new and exciting client accounts for the agency as a whole. In the UK, new clients have included all of the above plus SmartIoT – a brand new trade event taking place in London in April 2016.

We’ve been delighted with our momentum from the past year and can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store for us on both sides of the Atlantic! A huge thank you to all Liberty partners, here’s to another successful year! We’ll be sure to bring an update on our activities in a few months.

 

Relationship goals: Five valuable things I’ve learned in Tech PR so far

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In my first three-months in the Liberty Communications’ San Francisco office I’ve learned that the most important part of working in public relations all boils down to one thing: relationships.

The first relationship I had to build was one with my alarm clock. I mean, I was never the type to sleep-in until noon, but the earliest start time I’ve ever had for a job was 10am. Now, imagine waking up at 6am and having to be fully alert for two hours worth of client calls before your day even starts! Here we are, three months later, my roommates are still in awe when they see me running out of our apartment before they’ve even had breakfast. But I’ve also learned that when you’re headed to a place where you enjoy working and feel motivated, waking up early isn’t actually a chore anymore.

The second important relationship I’ve built over the last few months is with my co-workers. I’ve learned that it’s vital to open up to the people on your teams so that they feel comfortable giving you feedback, which in turn, leads to professional growth. As you continue to work together, they might also introduce you to passions you never knew existed. In my case, I’ve discovered an interest for big data and real-time communications technology.

Next, I’ve learned that the relationships built with journalists, editors and clients are amongst the most important. You thought your mom was harsh about making sure you mail those graduation photos and thank you cards? Ha! Try not answering a clients’ email in a timely fashion, or not doing your research to present relevant information that fits a reporters’ beat before sending a pitch. This is another aspect in which paying attention to detail comes into play, as it’s important to keep the relationship with a reporter in mind, not just settling for the fact that you’ve secured a briefing or a decent piece of coverage.

I’ve seen first hand that trust between a client and their PR team is what builds a great relationship. Once a client sees that we have their best interests at heart, the opportunities to show value are countless. That kind of trust only comes from transparent professional contact, exceptional communication, mutual respect and taking the time to really understand your clients’ needs.

Last, and certainly not least, is the relationship you need to develop with yourself. I’ve been extremely fortunate to join an agency and a team that is more closely-knit than I had originally expected, especially since some of my colleagues are over 5000 miles away in London. The team has helped me focus on my strengths and build on them. It’s truly a remarkable feeling to be a part of Liberty, and I love being able to support my teammates and see the direct effect of my contributions.

As I move into my fourth month working at Liberty Communications, I’ve realized just how much I’ve learned since starting. In college, you learn the concepts and practice your writing but it’s not until you put your education to use that you actually begin to learn that there’s so much more to know. These interpersonal relationships are critical to your success in the exciting – and sometimes challenging – world of tech PR.

Kourtney, Junior Account Assistant

light trails

Bringing Art to Life Through Technology

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There is no question about it; technology has carried art leaps and bounds over the past 100 years. From the progressive development of photography and film, to technologies used on the stage in theatres, the evolution of art is intrinsically linked to technological advancement. The uncertainty of the future is inevitably going to be regarded as exciting and we will never stop fantasising about what is to come, and what this will mean for the art world. One recent exhibition that opened this summer at the Tate Britain in London seems to have discovered the future of technology by travelling back in time through art.

Until now, the 4D experience has only existed in movie theaters. However now it’s time for 4D cinema to take a step back to make room for the 4D art experience. The Tate Sensorium is an incredibly small exhibition with no more than four paintings on display. The creative company Flying Objects partnered up with Tate Britain to tantalise the senses through works of famous artists; Francis Bacon, David Bomberg, Richard Hamilton and John Latham.

The former three purely focus on four senses: taste, touch, smell and sound, to catalyse the audience’s imagination and temporarily transport them back into the era of the artwork, fully immersing them in the painting. However John Latham’s piece, Full Stop, is dedicated to the fifth sense, touch.

By using ultrasound technology, Ultrahaptics and Flying Objects created a physical space which the audience can feel and hold the image portrayed in the painting by touching nothing but air. The ultrasound travels from multiple speakers and reaches the audience’s hands, vibrating to create a sensation as if they were touching the object. The ‘mid-air tactile feedback technology’ allows the audience to feel the object in the painting whilst visually studying it, enhancing the overall experience.

This exhibition has provided us with a concept that seems alien to us; to be able to touch something without touching anything at all. With this in mind, the technology has opened a new area for us to work towards and has given the world a glimpse of what we will see in the future.

Artists are constantly searching for ways to push the boundaries of expressionism and technology has provided the art world with a platform in which to progress. With this latest exhibition, it seems that this combination of art and technology may have already kick-started our ‘future’.

designer dress

Is digital disrupting the fashion industry?

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Looking back at London Fashion Week this September, I’ve enjoyed keeping up to date on what my favourite designers have showcased, and while it’s pouring down with rain right now, I’m already excited for Summer 2016 just so I have an excuse to buy next season’s clothes.

As a self-confessed fashion victim I look forward to this time of year; Fashion Week for me is like CES for the tech industry – brands revealing new products that are set to revolutionise consumers’ lives. This year we’ve seen tech and fashion coming together like never before and the next generation of designers have been building tech into smart products that are both fashionable and functional – yes even that smartwatch that alerts you every time you’ve gained weight.

However, tech has also prompted a change in the Fashion Week’s ethos. Fashion Week used to be a prestigious event that only the elite would be invited to. Now it’s accessible to everyone – whether you’re live streaming a show on your tablet, watching clips on Instagram or gaining backstage access via Snapchat, as designers put social media at front of mind. Burberry, for example, unveiled its Spring/Summer 2016 collection exclusively on Snapchat, effectively opening their show up to a mass audience. But while it’s great that the traditionally snobby and exclusive fashion industry is open to everyone, part of me does feel like that glitz and glamour has been tarnished slightly.

I remember the first time I attended a fashion show at Somerset House (note, I was interning, I wasn’t actually lucky enough to be invited) and the moment I stepped into that room, the buzz was electrifying and the anticipation in the air, well I can’t describe it. But, now we can watch the show in our pyjamas without really experiencing that buzz that the week truly deserves.

Ateliers spend over eight weeks and eighteen hours a day creating one garment and what keeps them going is not just receiving a nod of approval from the designer, but knowing that their masterpiece is going to be published in the fashion bibles such as, Vogue and Vanity Fair. Sadly that isn’t always the case anymore. Images of their creations are now released ahead of the show due to that ‘backstage access’ option on Snapchat and ruined by that Sepia filter. While this is intended– to make it look more ‘edgy’ this frustrates me, as ateliers are not receiving the acknowledgment they deserve. And don’t even get me started on the ‘click to buy’ option that is now available! Remember I mentioned how long designers spend on creating one garment? Well thanks to that ‘click to buy’ option the industry has created a ‘fast fashion’ culture, with high street stores producing cheap, dupe products in a matter of a day – Christian Dior would be turning in his grave right now.

This fast fashion culture makes me wonder whether brands have actually lost control of what they get to showcase during Fashion Week as a result of social media and the pressure for high-street brands to mimic designers’ ensembles, or whether they just need to adapt to technology to keep up with consumer demand to discover and share fast content, anywhere, anytime, on any device.

The fashion industry is known for its elitism and while I might never be personally invited to a show, I do like the idea of the ‘outside looking in’ element that Fashion Week once had. I’m also a bit fed up of seeing the Kardashians at every.single.fashion.show, but that’s a rant for another day (#NotKeepingUpWithTheKardashians). The question I pose today is, and wait for it… Should all forms of communication/social media be banned during Fashion Week? Who knows, maybe the designers who do decide to ban smartphones during their show would create an even bigger buzz and receive the recognition they truly deserve #winning.

Nonetheless, whether you chose to watch the action by smartphone or tablet, in your pyjamas or even on the frow (if you were lucky enough to have been invited), September’s 2015 London Fashion Week has made for some captivating viewing for audiences everywhere.

Illustration of smartphones

Looking back at MWC 2015

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Whether you’re at the coalface of Mobile World Congress goings on as an exhibitor, operator, OEM or vendor, or work more ‘behind the scenes’ as we do as a marketing consultancy, if you work within the telecoms sector you can’t help but recognise the importance of the world’s leading mobile trade show.

 

 

This year’s event shattered all previous records as the GSMA reported that 93,000 visitors from over 200 countries attended in Barcelona.

 

Although we’ve been to MWC many times before, walking into the Fira Gran Via on the first day remains an overwhelming and inspiring experience! The array of colourful exhibition stands and vast flurry of people is a great reminder of just how expansive and diverse the industry is. And as an industry observer and commentator (albeit largely on clients’ behalves) it’s brilliant to see some of the year’s biggest announcements and strategies unfold around you.

 

The unveiling of new flagship smartphones, like the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge with its curved screen and metal case, the latest cutting edge software solutions like WeDo Technologies’ RAID Telecom, the promise of superfast 5Gsmart toothbrushes of the future and IKEA furniture that can charge your gadgets and devices were just some of the standout announcements and common trends showcased this year by more than 2,000 exhibiting companies.

 

As a communications professional, one of the most iconic features of MWC has to be the Mobile World Live platform. Although it may have evolved from more humble beginnings as the print edition of the Show Daily to encompass its own television channel (featuring our very own Tony Poulos on the day 3 highlights panel talking about everything from wearables and “injectables” to the developing telecoms market) and a raft of digital formats, it’s still a thrill to see clients’ news there in print as you grab your copy on the way into the Fira. It was fantastic to see that WeDo Technologies was included in not one, but two editions of the Mobile World Live Show Daily this year – firstly in the day 1 edition, where the RAID Telecom news announcement was included in the ‘News in Brief’ section on page 6and then a more ‘social’ reference to WeDo’s flash parties in the ‘Show in Pictures’ round up in the day 4 edition on page 29.

 

Since being introduced at last year’s event, it was great to see how popular WeDo’s flash parties have become. People (us included) couldn’t get enough of the delicious custard tarts and Port on the WeDo Technologies stand – they even got a special mention in Telecoms.com’s A Week In Wireless MWC round up!

 

MWC is truly an event like no other. It provides an unprecedented platform for networking and making new industry contacts, grants you access to some of the most innovative technologies in the world and through panel discussions and speakerships allows you to hear the thoughts and musings of the most renowned players in the industry.

 

That said, our tired feet (yes, still tired even a week on) are quite glad they don’t have to walk around the Fira again for another year!

 

This blog post was originally published on the WeDo Technologies’ blog.

 

The Beginning of a Beautiful Career with Liberty Comms US

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I’m so grateful that Liberty UK has extended across the pond to open an office here in the US – and that my experience living amongst the rain swept roads of foggy London can come to use as I reside amongst the fog covered hills of San Francisco in my home state of California.

 

 

As I quickly settle into my role here as a Senior Account Executive I’m realizing all the joys that come from being a California based yank working for a British firm based in London. I can’t help but feel grateful to have had four years of living in London, to help me bridge the gap between the two offices.

 

Here are a few of my favorite things about working on for a bi-continental company.

 

1. Liberty Never Sleeps

 

They say that the news never sleeps and just because you’ve clocked out for the day doesn’t mean the media has. Having offices in two different time-zones means we can offer our clients round the clock assistance. This is amazing for us too, because it means either offices can sleep soundly knowing that our counterparts on the other side of the world are on duty. And we need that rest too, because once we wake up we have a full day of emails to catch up on as we experience an internal “changing of the guards”.

 

2. English is Not Strictly English

 

Living in the UK for four years meant being made fun of for saying things like “elevator” or “trash can” but after living in the US for two years I’ve quickly forgotten all my favorite words. Working with Liberty let’s me use them all again! This is ace, now I’m well chuffed!

 

3. Gathering Around the Digital Waterhole

 

One of my favorite things about starting a new role is getting to know my new co-workers. With so many people abroad, I’ve not had the chance to see their faces yet, but the Liberty UK team has not let 5,351 miles (roughly 8611 kilometers) keep us apart. Upon my addition to the team I was immediately friended on Facebook and Skype by my counterparts and have enjoyed getting acquainted with everyone digitally. Additionally, myself and Scott Beaver, VP and General Manager of Liberty US, are flying across the pond next week to meet our colleagues face to face for the company Holiday party (and secret Santa) and the digital world will become physical.

 

 

I’m still pretty new but I’m really excited to be a part of this amazing agency. And one day I look forward to reflecting on my early days here and be able say “oh yeah, I’ve been with the Liberty US office since the beginning!”

 

Wear it better: Wearable technology and healthcare

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After the recent successes of the new Fitbit and Jawbone, 2014 has undoubtedly been the year in which wearables have started to be taken seriously.

 

Already embraced by fitness geeks, how could they transform the healthcare industry if accepted by a broader user base?

 

If we used wearable technology to send automatic round-the-clock biometric data to medical professionals it would certainly aid in the monitoring of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease, where tracking and measuring variables can help to keep patients out of hospital.

 

In addition, those living in rural areas could avoid long commutes to see a doctor for trivial tests, as vital signs could be assessed remotely and stored to track trends. The much anticipated Apple Watch is even rumoured to be able to “listen” to blood flow and thus predict heart attacks.

 

Google is one of the companies leading the charge in healthcare innovation having teamed up with pharmaceutical giant, Novartis, to develop a “smart” contact lens in order to help diabetics monitor their glucose levels in a non-invasive way. Another project, the much discussed Google Glass, can be used by medical teams to live-stream operations and demonstrate new techniques and allows experienced surgeons to provide remote insight to inexperienced medical professionals.

 

Currently, wearables are seen as something of a gimmick, either a niche item reserved for sports stars and the super-fit, or something to be bought, used for 2 weeks and then placed in a drawer alongside your PalmPilot and Minidisc player.

 

If wearables are embraced, they could enable us to be attuned to the warning signs of various illnesses. This would allow for early treatment which would reduce the later need for costly treatments and hospital visits. All of this can combine to ultimately give patients a better quality of life and after all, isn’t that what technology is all about?

 

Happy 20th Birthday to display advertising! How far creative advertising and marketing technologies have come…

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This year the display advertisement celebrated its 20th birthday – which is quite remarkable when you think about it!

 

Back in 1994, AT&T became the first company ever to launch a banner- ad which appeared on HotWired.com – now known as WIRED – and the advertising industry changed forever.

 

In this modern age of digital marketing, where advertisers are afforded multiple channels through which to reach their target audience, it feels very odd to imagine a time before advertisements were popping up on your computer screen or mobile device. The advent of new technologies has brought about an exciting new era of marketing possibilities and brands are becoming more and more creative with it.

 

The ways in which marketers are able to interact and engage with a target audience continues to evolve in line with the new technologies that make it all possible, and this is applicable both online and in a bricks and mortar in-store environment. Whether via real-time push notifications sending offers and incentives through tools such as iBeacons, or click and collect services made available through an app on your mobile device, the purpose of advertising and marketing tools nowadays is centred on making the whole experience more convenient and essentially better for the end user. AT&T’s banner-ad may look very simple now, but that humble beginning paved the way for the display advertising industry as we now know it.

 

Thanks to the data which can now be acquired through display advertising and marketing tools, whether it is through measuring click rates, frequent searches and dwell times, brands and businesses are now able to gain a better understanding of their client base and can begin to communicate with them on a more personalised and contextual level. These data analytics also encourage marketers to be regularly accessing and re-evaluating their marketing strategies, ensuring that the content is always fresh and relevant.

 

The world of creative advertising has come a long way in 20 years and it isn’t just about selling a product or raising the awareness of a brand. Display advertising is now an invaluable tool for enhancing engagement and as new technologies continue to emerge, marketers are only going to get more creative with their strategies. Here’s to all the exciting developments another 20 years will bring!

 

Ferguson unrest highlights broadcasting power of social media

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Over the past ten days images of civil unrest across the Atlantic in Ferguson, Missouri, have served as a reminder of the huge power social media as a source of broadcasting news.

 

Scenes on the streets of the St Louis neighbourhood – which were fuelled by a police officer killing unarmed 18-year old Michael Brown with six gunshots – were largely consumed not on television news channels or news websites, but via Twitter, Vine and Facebook.

 

These social channels helped people share news of the mayhem in Ferguson to a global audience, with Twitter co-founder and St Louis native Jack Dorsey joining thousands of protesters promoting the action on the front line of the troubles.

 

Brown’s shooting – which itself was captured and shared on Twitter by a Ferguson hip-hop singer who witnessed the shooting outside his flat – sparked multiple nights of rioting, looting and reports of police brutality, as they resorted to using tear gas, smoke bombs and rubber bullets on protesters. Within minutes Twitter and Vine were awash with photos and videos of the protest, and there have been more than 8 million Tweets relating to Ferguson in the past week.

 

Yesterday a video emerged on social media of Michael Brown laying dead in the street, with the police officer accused of shooting him pacing up and down past his body. The resident who recorded and shared the video was interviewed on CNN, again highlighting the power social media has to bring events to the global mainstream, while also making instant momentary celebrities of users.

 

The instantaneous nature of social media means it is becoming an increasingly vital tool in modern society. While many cynics still question the need for it – and to be honest I don’t particularly care what you had for breakfast and nor do I want to see your video of your cat riding on the vacuum cleaner – there can be no arguing it is doing good in bringing issues like Ferguson to the attention of the global public.

 

Indeed this week David Karpf, assistant professor of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University, claimed: “Because of social media, the police don’t have control of this story. It’s opened everything up, changed how the media decides what’s worthy of coverage — and who to trust.”

 

It’s clear that the popularity of social media will continue to increase due to the power it has to broadcast issues and unite people all over the world. However, the immediacy and the manner in which these social platforms give anyone and everyone a voice will remain a cause for concern. The scenes in Ferguson bear heavy similarities to those we saw during the London riots three years ago – with politicians, journalists and the police suggesting that mobile phones and social media platforms played their role in fuelling public outcry in both of these events.

Capacity and Net Neutrality

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The technology deployed on any network has a set limit, something which anyone who gets slow video speeds when their siblings are playing Call of Duty will attest to.

 

net neutrality

 

This is referred to as the maximum capacity of the network and most people have encountered it at a specific point. Think back to trying to use your phone at a concert or to send a text on New Year’s Eve. There was a period when the internet was a niche thing and capacity was less of a problem (think after 56k modems but before iPhones) as less people demanded its resources. Then the minority of users were responsible for the majority of traffic and could be fairly free with its use.

 

However, with the rise of social everything, “internet of things” and an abundance of random cat videos, more and more people are demanding video and rich media content across their network connections.

 

To be fair to the networks they are also improving to match.  We have seen mobile connections move from GPRS to 2G, to 3G and 4G, in wired connections we have seen 10G turn into 40G and now 100G and work is already underway on 400G – it cannot be denied that the internet itself is getting faster.

 

Yet for cities like London, with population density on the rise and the level of service people demand ever increasing, experts are predicting an upcoming “capacity bottleneck” –  the amount of available capacity just won’t be enough for what people want to do with it.

 

This will of course eventually be solved by the next generation of technology but that is thought to not be soon enough to prevent the immediate problem of delays and under-resourcing.

 

This, as I understand it, is part of the argument being used by operators and ISPs to argue against the idea of Net Neutrality which is that equal access should be given to all content on the internet for any who wish to access it. This is a practice which network operators argue is impractical since there are already capacity issues when multiple people are streaming content on the same local area – like trying to use social media during the Olympics. Since there is a limited supply and consumers demand a high quality service, operators should be able to prioritise content more than they already do by charging a company for its services to be delivered at premium speeds over the network. This has been predicted to have broad implications for start-ups who cannot afford to pay for the same priority treatment as a large content provider.

 

Although this idea has been widely discussed in the media, it hasn’t gained the necessary traction in the public mind to affect the debate, however, if it was rebranded as the potential “Monetisation of Capacity” it might benefit from more widespread debate as it would tie the probable outcome to its effect on consumers.

 

It is true that, capacity bottlenecking will become more prevalent as content demand growth outpaces the development of the next technology standard (5G, 400G). The question is does this provide the justification for this approach?

 

Should operators be entitled to control content access for financial means and place restrictions on the wishes and decisions of their customers? There is a large question as to whether we can maintain the principle of free access which provides a lot of the strength of the internet as a content-sharing and idea generation platform.

 

This is what troubles me. Smaller indie platforms which can’t buy priority speeds will be relegated by market forces as consumers are fickle beings. If Netflix or Amazon is more reliable due to these agreements then that is what the consumers will use, which will essentially create a monopoly in certain spaces where existing content providers who already have the market share can dominate their smaller competitors. This causes me concern as it could have a negative effect on tech start-ups and innovation as well as the freedom of content which has made the internet the powerful tool in society that it is today.

 

Great company, plenty of laughs and a rooftop BBQ in the sunshine!

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Last Wednesday we had the pleasure of celebrating Liberty’s 32nd Liquid Lunch in glorious sunshine with the drinks flowing and sausages sizzling on the BBQ.

 

 

On The Rooftop Bar at The Driver the Liberty team were joined by media and analysts from a wide variety of industries to share an evening of fun, laughter and some impromptu dancing!

 

At Liberty, we take great pride in our lasting relationships with media and analysts and it was lovely to all get together and let our hair down.

 

It was a highlight for us to be able to introduce Scott Beaver, a member of Liberty’s expanding team in the US and to properly welcome Liberty’s newest team member in the UK, Katie Finn.

 

After a fantastic evening, it was back to reality the following day at Liberty Towers – with one or two funny anecdotes and a freezer full of much needed ice lollies!

 

Thank you to everyone who made it down to The Driver to help us celebrate in style. It was great to be able to catch up with our Liquid Lunch regulars and to have the opportunity to get to know some new faces a little bit better.

 

We hope to see you all again at our next Liquid Lunch later in the year – it was a delight, as always!

PR: insight from an untrained eye

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My week at Liberty Comms began with a warm welcome as I was offered breakfast and was then introduced to the team.

Any preconceptions that I previously had of PR professionals quickly dissipated as I began working within a team who were consistently cheerful and relaxed whilst working both independently and with each other.

 

The variation of the tasks I was taught and given to complete was not at all a surprise to me but I was surprised by the number of international clients Liberty looks after. Dealing with multiple time zones and teams across the world provided a challenge but it was this challenge that was the most rewarding aspect of my work experience.

 

I also really enjoyed having the opportunity to talk to some journalists over the phone in order to find out more information about a press opportunity for a client. This was  daunting at the beginning but very exciting as I got into the swing of it.

 

The misconception of anyone who feels that the main role of PR professionals is to make phone calls and attend events in their fanciest outfits is not at all true. Yes this is an aspect of the job (and important for building contacts) but is far from being the only task that these professionals do.

 

‘Liberty is a leading marketing and PR agency that provides clearly defined creative communications services to technology businesses.’ These qualities are unmistakably visible within the team as they all possess in-depth knowledge about the technology industry which enables them to provide an excellent service for their clients.

 

They were also able to communicate this to me, a 17 year old who prior coming to Liberty Comms had technological knowledge that went as far as knowledge of the apps on my phone and the social media websites that are globally available!

 

PR is an industry that is both competitive and creative and it is those agencies which have the ability to rise above the competition and illustrate their creativity which will do well. As an agency, Liberty has these qualities and as a result is very successful at providing its clients with advice about all aspects of its business’ communications.

 

I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Liberty and have gained a lot from it; I feel that I know now that the public relations industry is a place that I would love to work in within my professional future.

 

Beware of your social media fingerprint

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With the popularity of Twitter and Facebook it could be said that everyone now has their own digital fingerprint, made up from everything they have ever posted on the internet. What a lot of people don’t realise is that every tweet, status update or photo you have been tagged in, much like a finger print, is unique and is therefore traceable back to you.

 

 

In an increasingly digitalised world, the internet and social media have become part of everyday life and both are becoming ever more important to business professionals as well as the general public; from using it as a source of news update and knowing what is going on around the world, to simply chatting to friends whilst on the move.

 

What I think is most interesting however are the ways people now perceive social media as a digital extension of themselves; often using a platform to vent frustrations, or express personal views on a particular topic, or towards a particular person or group.

 

The danger of this is that often people don’t appreciate the impacts of using the internet and social media in this way. One of the issues, quite relevant to me, is how what you post on the internet can potentially impact future job opportunities.

 

For example, with the prevalence of social media sites, often future employers will take to the internet for some pre-interview research (such as LinkedIn or Twitter particularly): a simple Google search can bring up all sorts of information that you would never even consider a potential employer knowing about.

 

Many people think they can hide behind the computer screen believing they are anonymous or can’t be found (as the issues around the new 10 pound note have highlighted). When, in reality, these tweets and the identity of those who write them will be available to anyone in the world, remaining on the internet as a digital record forever.

 

This is definitely a pertinent issue for young people today, as far too many people are taking to twitter to express anti-social views without realising the future impacts such actions could have on their future professional careers and opportunities.

 

Essentially social media leaves a trail of cyber dust leading right back to you, so spare a thought before you post those birthday pictures or decide to have a rant at the cast of Geordie Shore – you never quite know who might end up seeing them!

Nobody panic. Bieber to the rescue!

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Blackberry lovers can celebrate as recent news emerged that (fellow) Canadian starlet Justin Bieber has made an undisclosed bid to reinvigorate the company – or at least according to IT Pro Portal’s April the 1st updates…

 

 

Being the beginning of April the customary hi-jinks stories are doing the rounds in the media: from the Times claiming that Scottish independence will see his Royal Highness Ferdinand, Duke of Saxony claim the empty throne; ITV’s Daybreak baffling scientists by showing chickens laying square eggs; and even The Register joining in with a story that the PM will replace the iconic BT tower with a 3D printed version.

 

Spring foolery goes back a long way in the media. The recognised start being 1957 when the BBC and Panorama persuaded large numbers of the British population that Spaghetti actually grew on bushes!  Traditionally the April Fool’s Day spoofs has been the prerogative of media outlets with broad national outreach (BBC, The Times, etc.), but this year has even seen the banter infiltrate the tech trades: from Google Glass Monocles to 3D printed Big Macs, and celebrity take overs.

 

Looking at the broader tech sector, the fast pace and increasing variety of directions it is moving in, it should come as no surprise that there have been so many amusing stories written. I mean, how much fun could you have using, (let alone writing about) Google Glass or a 3D printer? And five years ago who (apart from maybe their actual inventors) would have believed we’d now have this type of technology?

 

Imagination seems to be the only limit when it comes to the evolution and development of technology. And now it seems this too is filtering down to the journalists and how they are choosing to write about it – the April Fool’s Day stories are simply the latest and greatest examples of this.

 

As a nation we are celebrated worldwide for our sense of humour and today is another fine example of this. From the island that gave the world the Ministry of Silly Walks, Lord Flashheart, Mr Bean and Guy Secretan it’s good to see an area historically associated with the grey suits and beige slacks coming to life a bit more thanks to the journalists writing about it.

 

While Bieber might not be buying Blackberry after all (sorry Blackberry fans), and Google Glass isn’t available in a monocle (just yet at least), long live the imagination, personality and ‘don’t take yourself too seriously’ attitude of the Great British press!

To boldly go where no-one has gone before…!

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As someone who was raised by two avid sci-fi fans, it’s fair to say that I’ve watched quite a bit of Star Trek in my time. I may have also been to a Star Trek convention (or two…).

 

 

I remember the days when admitting you were a ‘trekkie’ was something people would happily tease you for but in recent years, with the help of cult TV shows like The Big Bang Theory, people are starting to realise that nerds are actually pretty cool.

 

One thing that I love the most about working in tech PR is that the industry is always evolving and with that evolution comes new and truly innovative products that make you go ‘wow!’. The reason why I mentioned Star Trek is because the majority of tech that really has the wow factor for me are the gadgets and gizmos that remind me of classic sci-fi TV shows of the past.  Star Trek especially showcased technology that seemed so mystifying and futuristic at the time, and that wasn’t even that long ago really when you think about it.

 

Recently an iPhone case that acts like a tricorder with built in sensors to read a person’s vital signs was unveiled. On top of this we’re also seeing major developments in simulation and virtual reality technology that can transform your gaming experience to make you feel like you’re on a holodeck.  With technologies like this available today, Star Trek really doesn’t seem so futuristic any more.

 

It wasn’t just Star Trek that seemed to predict the future of technology.

 

I can’t help but think of The Six Million Dollar Man when I read about 3D printed body parts. “We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the technology to build the world’s first bionic man…”. Prosthetics have been advancing quickly in recent years, maybe not quite to bionic man standard, but enough to really change people’s lives. Only recently we heard about how a motorbike accident survivor had his life transformed when surgeons were able to reconstruct his face using 3D printed parts. Just last year a man was able to use a 3D printer to create a new hand for his son, after using the internet to research the technology.

 

You can’t watch Back to the Future or Minority Report without seeing glimpses of familiar tech that was once considered so far away, and this actually excites me quite a lot. Personally, I’m eagerly awaiting a hoverboard (and not a hoax!) or the ability to teleport.  And in no way is that embarrassing…

The expanding Silicon map

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Several weeks ago I spotted an article in the FT that highlighted 2013 as the year that New York’s tech start-up community really took off.

 

 

Tim Bradshaw went on to include comment from Napster founder and first Facebook president, Sean Parker, who stated that while Silicon Valley feels ‘totally in the clouds’, New York feels more ‘real.’ An interesting theory on a city unlike any other.

 

Having been a New Yorker myself, it’s nice to see that the Big Apple has become a big city on the global technology map and I can’t help but think about how technology territory has expanded.

 

When I first started my career in technology PR, my portfolio of clients were all largely headquartered in California. Most of my client calls almost always featured someone at the beginning of the day while others were finishing theirs, and the nerve-wracking continuous triple checking of time zones to ensure that none of these calls, or even worse media briefings, were scheduled in the middle of the night.

 

The news that one of my clients is relocating its headquarters to Texas, makes me realise that while California remains a major technology hub, many of my current clients today have their head offices scattered across the globe. Its positive to see that technology skills and expertise are now omnipresent and that technology in itself, together with local and national government incentives (like the recent launch of the European Internet of Things grant), is enabling companies, large and small, to grow roots where they are. I can’t help but wonder what the next technology hotspot is likely to be.

 

There’s no doubt I’ll need to continue relying on my trusty Outlook diary and my WorldTimeBuddy to help me avoid scheduling client meetings and media briefings at half past rude. But, with over a quarter of the London job growth coming from the technology and digital sector, my Outlook diary is remaining upbeat.

Touchscreen devices are the new favourite toy for children of the digital age – is that such a surprise

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I was on the bus this morning and in front of me there was a little girl watching her mum chatting on the phone and mimicking the action with her banana.

 

 

Funny, yes, but it also made me think about the digital world that children today are born into and how to that child the smartphone her mum was talking on is as normal as the banana she was holding.

 

A recent study carried out by the Michael Cohen Group has made headlines by claiming that touchscreens have become the new must-have toy for children, overtaking the traditional dolls and board games of generations past. More than 60 per cent of parents participating in the study, across a variety of household income levels, claimed that their child uses a touchscreen device from as young as 2 years old.

 

According to Cohen’s report, the main activity children are using touchscreen devices for (quite rightly) is gaming and play, closely followed by using the devices as a tool for learning and education.

 

The technology industry is certainly a fast-paced one and you just have to look at the wonderous plethora of devices available now compared to that just five years ago to see how quickly the industry is evolving. With that in mind, it isn’t that surprising that some people do worry about exposing children to so much technology at a young age. A report released by Ofcom last year highlights just some of the fears expressed by parents where their children and technology is concerned, particularly with such a strong media focus on the rise of cyberbullying. Some parents even said they feel that their children understand the internet and technology more than they do so feel it can be hard to properly monitor.

 

Is this relatively sudden influx of technology really going to be damaging for children? In the ever growing technical age that we live in surely teaching children from a young age how to safely and responsibly use devices can only be a good idea, especially when it’s highly likely that technology will play a large part in their future education, as well as later when they enter the world of employment.

As the sun sets on MWC 2014…

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Another year and another MWC under our belts. As always the show has been filled with exciting news and developments from the communications industry.

 

 

Headlines throughout the show have been heavily device focused with a number of big industry players such as Samsung, Sony and BlackBerry unveiling new handsets. However this year it was not only phones that took centre stage. Wearable devices have become an increasingly popular development for manufactures and we will no doubt all be wearing smartwatches by the end of the year.

 

In his keynote, Facebook’s CEO made some noise, when he discussed his recent decision to buy WhatsApp and announced the introduction of voice calls with the service.

 

There were some additional interesting themes this year: harmonisation of data protection laws, emerging markets, collaboration between operators, and the need for 5G development.

 

So as the dust settles, heart rates return to normal and the sun sets on Barcelona, a very well deserved pat on the back and a pitcher of sangria for all!

 

With so much activity in one week we certainly can’t wait to see where the next year in the mobile industry will take us. If the event is an indicator of the year ahead 2014 will be a busy one.

 

See you all next year!

Voices from the Pulpit!

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It’s day 3 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona! With the sun shining, the show is well under way now and whilst most of the major launches have taken place already there is still lots of news to be had!

 

 

Deutsche Telekom’s CEO, Tomotheus Hottges, called for the harmonisation of data protection laws in his keynote yesterday. Noting that in Europe there are 200 operators, compared with four in the US and four in China, he called for a more supportive regulatory environment to help the telecoms industry evolve to meet changing consumer connectivity expectations.

 

BlackBerry’s CEO, John Chen also made news by announcing two new smartphones borne from the company’s partnership with Foxconn. With a focus on the enterprise, Mr Chen also announced a new version of its BES 12 platform, an alliance with SAP and simplified pricing for corporate customers.

 

 

Speaking at the Global TD-LTE Summit, China Mobile’s CEO, Li Yue called for more cooperation amongst operators. Giving his backing to RCS he said he expected commercial RCS and VoLTE services later this year.

 

 

And continuing the theme of connectivity, European Commission vice president Neelie Kroes warned Europe that it faces being left behind once again unless it takes steps to speed up the development of 5G mobile technologies. Speaking at the show, Kroes said 5G would spur growth in the European technology industry but in order to truly flourish, cooperation was needed and not just between European governments and companies, but worldwide. However, almost in response to Kroes’ comments, the Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance (NGMN) announced the launch of its 5G initiative. The first stage of the NGMN’s 5G initiative is to be driven by its 21 operator members. The alliance will initially define use cases for 5G networks. Once operators have specified their needs, they will start in 2015 defining the architectures that can implement and deliver them.

 

 

Looking to the rest of today and tomorrow, Mobile World Live will be showing IBM CEO, Ginny Rometty’s keynote. Make sure you don’t miss it! Enjoy and until tomorrow, hasta luego!

The movers and shakers of Mobile World Congress 2014

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It is day two of the biggest event in the mobile industry. Feet are already starting to get a little sore, dark circles are beginning to appear under eyes and heads are getting just that little bit fuzzier from all the networking parties.

 

 

The first few days of Mobile World Congress 2014 has certainly started off at the usual break neck speed. The show has already seen a whirlwind of news and high profile keynotes but it is the flurry of new devices announced that has been dominating the column inches with the latest and greatest innovations in mobile on display and vying for attention.

 

 

The Sony Xperia Z2 Android smartphone arrived on Monday supporting ultra-high-definition video recording and noise-cancelling technology as well as being dust and waterproof. Samsung followed suit by unveiling its latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S5, gaining great feedback for its built-in fingerprint scanner, heart-rate detector and its ultra-fast autofocus camera. HTC also unveiled a new smartphone, the Desire 816, marketed as the device makers ‘flagship mid-range’ phone boasting a large 5.5-inch 720p display, BoomSound frontal stereo speakers and a 13-megapixel camera. ZTE didn’t want to miss out on the action either with the release of the Grand Memo II LTE. The ultra-slim handset allows users to view high quality images, HD videos and movies with a 178-degree viewing angle.

 

 

Today Blackberry got in on the act, rolling back the years with the launch of new low-cost smartphone BlackBerry Z3 and BlackBerry Q20 which are to focus on traditional features of BlackBerry devices like the tactile keyboard and trackpad. With some commentators hailing the latest Blackberry devices as the start of the company’s ‘fight back’, Nokia has chosen to launch its first Android phones just months after being sold to Microsoft. The family of Android smartphones, called Nokia X, Nokia X+ and Nokia XL, will run Android but will also have Microsoft services like OneDrive and Skype.

 

 

In other news, founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg made his first appearance at Mobile World Congress providing insight into the WhatsApp acquisition and Facebook’s vision of connecting everyone on the planet. He was almost upstaged by his latest purchase, as WhatsApp shocked everyone it seems by announcing it will soon launch a voice service in addition to its messaging application. The voice service, set to launch in the second quarter of the year, will be available on iPhones and Android devices first before being rolled out to Windows and Nokia handsets at a later date.

 

 

So as day two rolls slowly into day three (via a few diversions to the local drinking establishments) and with new announcements coming thick and fast, there is no doubt more exciting news will be created at the world’s pre-eminent mobile event.

Making the most out of Mobile World Congress

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Kicking off today in Barcelona, Mobile World Congress (MWC) is the world’s pre-eminent mobile event.

 

 

In 2013 it attracted more than 72,000 visitors from 205 countries and some of the world’s largest and most influential mobile operators, software companies, equipment providers, Internet companies and media and entertainment organisations, as well as government delegations.

 

 

Some of the industry’s biggest news breaks at the show each year, making MWC a must-attend for the media and giving them unparalleled access to everyone from the established well-known brands to exciting new start-ups. More than 3,000 international print, web and broadcast media attended the event in 2013 and still more are expected to attend this year.

 

 

However, even with this number of media in attendance, journalists are still run off their feet (in a good way). Their schedules are often booked weeks in advance with back to back briefings, while they still need to reserve time to cover breaking news. It can be tough then for companies to get their message out there, especially when they’re competing with some of the biggest names in the industry.

 

 

Liberty has been attending the event since its early days in Cannes and is well versed in making sure its clients get ‘heard’ at the event. Here are our top tips for approaching the next four days (and the post-show come down) from a media relations perspective:

 

 

  • Grow relationships – With the fanfare that comes with a large show like MWC, the underlying messages behind news and real promise of new technologies can get lost in the frenzy of press releases, demos and briefings. Use the opportunity to provide media with information that will help them weed through the noise and tell a fair and positive story on your role in the growth of the mobile industry.
  • Lead with innovation – MWC is still the pre-eminent event to showcase what new mobile technology is on the horizon.  It is the opportunity for vendors to package innovative new technology with tangible, longer-term value that will instigate consumer and enterprise IT purchases and model reasonable growth.  Demonstrate the practical application of your technology and address new and pressing challenges for the mobile industry.
  • Position spokespeople as leaders and innovators – A spokesperson can set the tone that media and analysts will grab hold of. Use briefings to not only announce news, but to show innovation, thought leadership and impact with key messages. Highlight experience, partnerships and technology evolution, as well as showing that you have your finger on the pulse of industry themes and can offer relevant comment.
  • Build on the momentum – Track trends that emerge during the show and use the time following MWC to follow up with key media and analysts with your viewpoint.

 

 

And finally, make sure you’ve booked yourself some time off for after the show – you’ll need it!