08
Sep
Tani Fatuga

Can social media facilitate social change and political action?

Posted by Tani FatugaTagged , , , ,

Since around October last year, Nigeria has been in a state of political crisis due to citizen revolt and ongoing protests regarding the #EndSARS campaign. The campaign began, intending to end police brutality in Nigeria, but has since expanded to challenge some of the country’s other issues such as corruption, poverty, and injustice.

Being of Nigerian descent and having family and friends that currently live in Nigeria, the #EndSARS campaign has been a huge topic of conversation, especially in light of the Lekki Bridge Massacre where dozens of peaceful protesters were murdered by the government on 20 October 2020. These events led me to start thinking of the key role that social media played in Nigeria’s #EndSARS movement.

Over the past decade, we’ve witnessed the powerful effects of the internet and social media. Similarly to how social media was used in the Arab Spring, during the #EndSARS movement, Nigerian activists used Twitter (and other social media platforms) to raise awareness, mobilise protesters, and discredit government propaganda through real-time information and citizen journalism. The campaign’s use of digital activism allowed it to scale up quickly, resulting in a large amount of publicity and international coverage.

The events of the ongoing ENDSARS campaign have made it difficult to ignore the ambiguity of social media usage in social movements in non-Western settings. The #EndSARS hashtag was first used in December 2017 by Twitter user @Segalink, when an open call was made for Nigerians to protest police brutality and demand for the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) – a unit of the Nigerian Police Force that has gained notoriety for its repeated human rights abuses.

Until the 5th of October 2020, much of the campaign occurred online, under the hashtag, #EndSARS, but as soon as a video of the squad murdering a young boy went viral, Nigerians all over the world, including myself, banded together to protest both online and offline.  Since then, the campaign has received significant international coverage and publicity, resulting in the Nigerian government disbanding the unit.

During the ENDSARS campaign, we have seen the integral use of collective and connective action by activists, however, we have also seen the Nigerian government use social media to counter these efforts, calling into question the effectiveness of social media in fostering political reform within Nigeria’s anocracy and third world countries.

The use of mass protesting and digital protesting through social media platforms, predominantly Instagram and Twitter have given Nigerians all over the world a voice that has ultimately disrupted the country’s culture of deference. However, the government still hasn’t reasoned with its people, resulting in little change. These events have made me question the effectiveness of social media in fostering political reform.

In June earlier this year, the Nigerian government accused Twitter, of facilitating ‘activities that are capable of undermining [its] corporate existence’. Their statement came two days after the social media platform removed a controversial post made by Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari as the statement was deemed to have violated Twitter community guidelines.

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16
Jul
Aga Maciejewska

The pandemic of inequalities

Posted by Aga MaciejewskaTagged , , , , , , , ,

Last week, the Health Foundation’s Unequal pandemic, fairer recovery report made headlines, revealing that throughout the pandemic, the chances of dying from Covid-19 were nearly four times higher for adults of working age in England’s poorest areas than for those in the wealthiest places.

The report is just the latest in the string of evidence that the pandemic has not been ‘a great leveller’, as some people referred to it back in the spring of 2020. The UK has struggled with deep-rooted, socioeconomic inequalities for years. Those have not only contributed to the country’s high and unequal death toll from Covid-19 but have also been exacerbated and made worse, particularly for some groups, including ethnic minorities, women and those on low pay.

Andy Ratcliffe, Executive Director for Programmes at Impact for Urban Health, has been working with families in the South London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark to understand how various inequalities impact population’s health. As he explains:

“Health inequality is the starkest manifestation of other inequalities – unfairness tends to layer on unfairness. If you’re subject to systemic racism, you are also more likely to be poor, live in lower quality housing and then you’re more likely to get sick. All those things interact. Fundamentally, it’s the inequality that’s the issue and health inequality is just the starkest example.”

Looking at the impact of the pandemic,  Andy has no doubt that it has made the existing inequalities worse and that this might sadly be just the beginning:

“We layered Covid on top of an already very unequal situation. We haven’t really even started to feel the impacts of the economic pandemic and the long-term health effects of it. We’ve seen a lot of policy changes, such as furlough and the uplift of universal credit, designed to help people through the pandemic. When those start to fall away, we will have an economic wave that could have huge long term health consequences.”

 

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17
Mar
Natasha Machin

Is it time to cancel ‘cancel culture’?

Posted by Natasha MachinTagged , , , , ,

What is cancel culture? 

With the rise of social media, we saw the rise of cancel culture, which has claimed many unsuspecting public figures and businesses over the last decade. Cancel culture, the act of rejecting a target who has broken social norms, can impact anything or anyone from all walks of life, careers and background.

The pros, the cons?

There are two leading attitudes to cancel culture. One position sees the ability to ‘cancel’ as an important tool for social justice. It gives a voice to those who aren’t in positions of power, through wealth or influence, allowing them to call attention to actions or words they don’t agree with. Throughout the pandemic, more people have been spending time on social media to stay connected, with adults spending on average over 4 hours a day in 2020, compared to 3.5 hours in 2019. This has led to a dramatic increase in public figures and brands being called out for various decisions, actions and speeches that the cancellers haven’t let slide.

Alternatively, others see cancel culture as the grave death of free speech and open debate, as many are cut down for openly sharing an opinion not shared by the cancellers. In 2020, A Letter on Justice and Open Debate was published in Harper’s Magazine arguing this new culture was leading to the restriction of debate and cause detrimental harm to democracy. This letter was signed by over 150 people including Margaret Atwood, J. K. Rowling and Salman Rushdie.

Consumer influence on brands

In recent years, brands, who previously would tend to avoid politicising themselves, have begun to take active political stances. This might have something to do with the attitudes of their target consumers. Research from 2018 revealed 64% of consumers around the world will buy from or boycott a brand solely because of the position on a social or political issue it has taken. A favourable stance on a particular issue, might incentivise a consumer to buy from one business over their competitor who has taken the opposite stance, or even no stance at all.

It could be argued that consumers cancelling brands and businesses who associate themselves with undesirable opinions or figures is doing society a justice. It’ll rid us of ‘bad’ brands who have a negative impact on the environment or society. But what happens when ‘good’ brands get cancelled?

Good guys gone bad

Tony Chocoloney, a brand with the mission to make delicious chocolate, while eradicating modern-slavery and child labour from the supply chain, has recently been dropped from Slave Free Chocolate’s list of ethical chocolate companies. The reason behind this being Tony Chocoloney’s links to Barry Callebaut, a leading industrial chocolate manufacturer. Barry Callebaut has admitted that its own supply chain is not free from child labour and slavery-free in a US court case brought against main players in the cocoa industry, including Mars and Nestle.

This might seem strange. Why is Tony Chocoloney working with a chocolate manufacturer abusing the very thing Tony Chocoloney aims to eradicate? Tony Chocoloney was founded with the ambition to make 100% slave free the ‘norm’ in chocolate production, aiming to show mainstream brands that chocolate can be delicious and ethical. But they acknowledged that it will not be a straightforward road. This is the reason Tony Chocoloney is standing by Barry Callebaut, instead of washing their hands of them. Tony Chocoloney is proving that on the road of progression to an ethical future, there will be setbacks, but that does not mean all hope is lost.

So, does Tony Chocoloney deserve to be cancelled for sticking with a supply chain that has been caught red-handed in abusing human rights?

I don’t think so. While cancel culture can make society a safer place and protect from those spouting hate speech, promoting discriminatory practices or supporting objectionable figures, it restricts brands and people from learning from their mistakes and growing. The path to a more accepting, ethical and sustainable future is not straightforward, so we should not leave behind those who veer off the path, and instead let them realise their mistakes and find their own way back.

We can’t let perfection be the barrier to progress.

 

 

09
Feb
Eryl Bradley

Believe in Better: Insight and inspiration from industry leaders

Posted by Eryl BradleyTagged , , , ,

According to a recent report by the thinktank, Ember, the UK’s renewable electricity outpaced its fossil fuel generation for the first time in 2020 and could remain the largest source of electricity in the future. It’s big news for the sector because although renewable energy has overtaken fossil fuels during the summer months before, 2020 was the first time that renewables were the main source of the UK’s electricity over a year.

As a business that contributes to the transition to a green energy system, our client Zenobe Energy, a leading owner and operator of battery storage, is very much part of this change. Its unique offering helps bring renewable energy onto the grid and is accelerating the rollout of electric buses and fleets across the UK.

For the fifth episode in our Believe in Better series, we spoke to Steven Meersman, Zenobe Energy’s co-founder, about why battery storage is important in the transition to renewable energy, what the UK needs to do to transition to a green energy system in 2021 and beyond, and what ‘better’ looks like for the industry.

Watch this space for future episodes of Believe in Better with more inspiring thought leaders from our network.

Check out our previous episodes, which include:

Justine Lago, Director and Executive Coach of Onion HR

Matt Griffiths, CEO of Youth Music

Leonor Stjepic, CEO of Montessori Group

Steve Swayne, Chair of the Institute for Turnaround

To learn more about Stand Agency, work with or collaborate with us, please email ask@standagency.com. Follow us on Twitter @standsays

05
Feb
Tani Fatuga

Race Equality Week – Why representation matters

Posted by Tani FatugaTagged , , , ,

For the first time in history, the 1st – 7th of February 2021 is being observed as Race Equality Week, here in the UK. A time where organisations and individuals across the UK, unite to address Race in the workplace.

The events of 2020, more specifically the Black Lives Matter movement, coupled with the disproportionate impact of COVID on ethnic minority communities, have intensified public consciousness of race inequality yet, black representation at the top of FTSE 100 companies is at a whopping zero.

The main aim of this initiative is to create a different environment for race relations and improve racial equality in the workplace. One that builds a permanent bridge between decision making and our lived experience.

As we near the end of the first Race Equality Week, I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on my own personal experiences of working in the PR and communications industry as a young black woman, and my personal perspective on the industry’s progress to date towards achieving diversity and inclusion.

Representation of black PR professionals has increased over the last few years, however there is still much more that can be done to remove racial barriers in the industry and attract more ethnic minority talent.

After securing my first role, I learnt very quickly that as a young black woman, I had to adopt a work personality to survive in the workplace, as there were not many individuals who I could identify with. I have always appreciated the importance of networking, but I found myself looking for networking events specifically for ethnic minorities, to boost my chances of meeting other black PR professionals in senior leadership positions.

Read more “Race Equality Week – Why representation matters”

21
Dec
Eryl Bradley

The future of communications: insight, strategy and results

Posted by Eryl BradleyTagged , , , , , ,

Anyone who knows us well will know that Stand’s work is built on insight, strategy and results: these are the three pillars of our success.

Think of them as the before, during and after of a campaign or project.

Before we begin working with a client, we like to understand them, and what their audience needs and expects from them. This is so we can ensure nothing we say falls on deaf ears, and our work is always grounded in knowledge of the sector.

During any communications work we carry out, we are guided by an end goal. This is some sort of tangible outcome which helps define exactly what success looks like; this could be trying to redefine how we view life post-retirement or educating the public about the signs of a rare heart condition. Everything we do is based on an airtight strategy that works to get clients where they want to be.

And, as a result of these two things, we like to think we get results that matter – whether that’s one in-depth piece of coverage in the right publication, or a social media campaign that reached 50 of the right people. It’s been reassuring to see more clients interested in these tangible and meaningful results, and less wowed by vanity metrics; a trend we hope continues.

In a year where just getting through is something we all deserve a pat on the back for, we’ve had some interesting and exciting projects that show how, in the world of communications, some things will never be the same post-Covid. Here’s a few examples relating to a client I’ve worked on this year, the Grounds Management Association.

Read more “The future of communications: insight, strategy and results”

11
Aug
Ollie Swan

Is it finally the end of best practice guides?

Posted by Ollie SwanTagged , , ,

Over recent months, we at Stand have discussed openly how our behaviours have changed during lockdown. Some changes have been positive, with many enjoying extra time to spend on themselves. Other changes have not been quite so productive – I for one would not be too keen on letting anyone see how the weekly screen time on my phone has skyrocketed. Thankfully, it would appear that I am not alone in this, with recent data from social media suggesting that many others have found themselves glued to their devices.

The fact that social media usage has increased is hardly surprising. Social media fundamentally exists to connect us with one another, which has been needed over months spent apart from friends and family. Across the board, social media has experienced increased engagement with users having more time to spend online. Data from GlobalWebIndex suggests that 47% of internet users aged 16-64 across 17 countries are spending longer on social media, 23% of which suggest usage is “significantly” longer. What’s more, Facebook reached the remarkable and almost unbelievable milestone of 3bn users across its network of apps.

Read more “Is it finally the end of best practice guides?”

13
Jul
Beth Davies

Appealing to Gen Z – what makes a strong brand in 2020?

Posted by Beth DaviesTagged , , ,

For a long time, the attention of brands and communications professionals has been directed towards understanding millennials. This exciting generation was seen to be shaping the future of digital and ushering in a new age of Airbnb-ing and Uber-ing. But just as people started getting their heads around what it meant to be a millennial, and how to reach them, millennials grew up.

Now in their late-20s and 30s, millennials’ tastes, habits and values are changing, and for many brands, a key market is now a younger and perhaps trickier audience – my generation – Gen Z.

Read more “Appealing to Gen Z – what makes a strong brand in 2020?”

19
Jun
Chloe Roberts

Backing small business in a time of crisis

Posted by Chloe RobertsTagged , , , , ,

Here at Stand, we have a morning Stand Up meeting first thing where one of us presents on a topic of our choice, such as talking about which podcasts we’re listening to, great recipes or book recommendations. This week’s was led by Lucy Chapple, our head of client strategy, who’s topic of choice was supporting small business.

Read more “Backing small business in a time of crisis”

22
May
Cait Dacey

Pitching to media during a global pandemic

Posted by Cait DaceyTagged , , , , , ,

The PR industry has evolved a great deal over time, with the original focus solely on securing coverage, to adapting broad offerings, much like the services offered at Stand – including digital, strategy, insight and creative. However, while excelling in these areas, it’s still important that agencies deliver outstanding results when it comes to coverage. Getting news in the paper, online and on the TV and radio may be harder on some days than others, but once you understand what makes a story, and you push your team in that direction, coverage should follow – right?

Read more “Pitching to media during a global pandemic”