23
Jun
Natasha Machin

We like big books and we cannot lie

Posted by Natasha MachinTagged , , ,

One of the few silver linings of the multiple lockdowns across the past 15 months, was a significant and unexpected amount of free time at home. At first it was an overwhelming amount of free time – but gradually, people found their own way to fill it and help them get through a difficult time.

With no work commute and extra time spent at home, people across the country seized the opportunity to find new interests, such as baking, exercise, online virtual parties and quizzes, crafting, gaming – the list goes on.

With the recent annual profits report from Bloomsbury Publishing showing that book sales rose by 14% in the year to the end of February, it is clear that many found comfort and solace in picking up a good old book, and reading for pleasure.

The pandemic has been a challenging time for many, and the escapism of a good book enabling readers to explore someone else’s mind, experiences and story, gave us a release from the reality of the day-to-day of lockdown and rising Covid-19 cases. There’s no denying that reading has a positive effect on your mental health and can be a great way to practice mindfulness. A 2015 report from Quick Reads showed that reading helps to reduce stress levels and improve wellbeing – all the more vital against the backdrop of a global pandemic.

Read more “We like big books and we cannot lie”

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.

 

 

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?”

22
May
Cait Dacey

Pitching to media during a global pandemic

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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”

25
Oct
Kerri Fitzpatrick

Even the news is bored of Brexit

Posted by Kerri FitzpatrickTagged , ,

The EU referendum happened in 2016, that’s almost four years of Brexit coverage. A journalist referred to ‘Brexistential ennui’ two years ago; this might have just caught on. Sky News has just launched a Brexit-free channel. For five hours a night, the temporary pop-up channel will run news, whilst excluding perhaps one of the most newsworthy developments in modern British history. A head at Sky News said the public had grown ‘weary’ or bored of Brexit, and he felt that there was a feeling it was ‘suffocating other news’.

Read more “Even the news is bored of Brexit”

23
Jan
Katherine Mountain

Ok ladies, now let’s get in formation

Posted by Katherine MountainTagged , ,

This weekend, Team Stand was proud to have been part of global history as we joined London’s Women’s March and stood up for solidarity and against inequality.

We sang, chanted, celeb spotted, made new friends and even spoke to people on the tube. Knowing we were marching alongside 2.6 million people worldwide – all peacefully and energetically protesting against hate and oppression – was incredible.

While we’d rather the world’s most powerful person hadn’t made the misogynistic or racist comments he has –  signage sure did show just how much people across the world are prepared to speak out in defiance against hate.

Here are Stand’s favourite moments from 2017’s best day yet…

Read more “Ok ladies, now let’s get in formation”

24
Aug
Lola

The Sun – life after a paywall

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Since the paywall went down back in November, we’ve been keeping a beady eye on The Sun’s online content to think about what it means for our clients.

According to the National Readership Survey Padd figures out today, The Sun’s online audience has continued to benefit from the removal of its paywall. It reported a monthly readership of 13.5 million, up 5% year on year. We know The Sun is the most read daily paper, but it is up against the behemoth that is the MailOnline to hit the top digital circulation figures, and we are sure it’s looking to challenge the front runner for this top spot. Read more “The Sun – life after a paywall”