What will 2018 be remembered for in the world of communications?




As 2018 draws to a close, we take a look at some of the changes to media channels that we have used in the past twelve months, and trends for 2019.

The rise and fall of Facebook

In 2017 the most popular social media platform was Facebook. In 2018, however, Facebook had a tough year, after endless privacy scandals and ongoing trust issues from users. The social media’s popularity has taken a hit.

Luckily for Facebook, Instagram is part of its empire, and 2018 has been an exceptional year for the photo-grid based social media.

This year, Instagram dethroned Snapchat as the most-used social media platform among teens, and perhaps the biggest story of 2018 is the rise of Instagram stories. The volume of brands posting Instagram Stories has increased by 400 per cent this year.

Facebook may have the largest number of users, but ‘Instagrammers’ tend to be much more engaged with content. The increased popularly in stories has provided an opportunity for some brands to target their audience more effectively on this channel than through a Facebook advert.

Influencer Marketing

Earlier in the year, media chatter was about the value of social media influencers, with many companies cracking down on ‘fake followers’.

Brands such as Unilever led the way when it came to preventing the endorsement of fraudulent influencers when the firm announced it would not work with any influencers who buy followers.

The power of the influencer has grown significantly. In 2018, however, it seems consumers have become more resistant to the influence of ‘mega-influencers’. After Instagram introduced a number of new features that ensured influencers were clearly signposting paid for content, it became much easier to identify which accounts were promoting almost any product for a fee.

In 2019, companies are likely to gain more valuable engagement by investing in mid to micro-sized influencers whose passions align with the values of the brands they are promoting. Ensuring the content being shared is genuinely enjoyed and used by the influencer, even if it is sponsored, allows consumers to trust both the influencer and the brand.

More media, fewer journalists.

A challenge that all PR’s have been facing this year is the continued loss of journalists and a decline in traditional media channels. While the amount of content shared each day is increasing, the massive shift to digital continues to impact many traditional media outlets. Changes at Johnston Press are particularly worrying for us all.

This loss of print ad revenue has seen a huge increase in paid content. Opportunities such as opinion features, thought-leadership pieces and regular columns are increasingly only being offered in line with advertising spend.

A change in media consumption trends

Ofcom data reported that 16- to 34-year-olds now watch more than two-and-a-half hours a day of non-broadcast content. This year also saw daily watch time of YouTube among 18- to 34-year-olds exceed the one-hour mark, according to Comscore.

This substantial increase in consumption of non-broadcast content, such as Netflix, allows consumers to avoid adverts. Even on platforms that do advertise such as Instagram stories, people are able to skip past the advert and continue to view their friend’s stories. Of course, canny PR’s will find opportunities in this change!

Another interesting report from Campaign revealed that watch time for “explainer” videos on YouTube has doubled in the past year. While there has been a reduction in consumers watching broadcast content, the number of people engaging with education-focused videos provides brands with an opportunity to reach their target audience by repurposing content.

2018 has been a jam-packed year, but we love keeping ahead of trends so we can make the most of them for our clients. Wishing you a very happy Christmas and New Year.

Why are you called Twelve?


This is a question we get asked a lot.

According to Wikipedia, the number twelve ‘carries religious, mythological and magical symbolism generally representing perfection, entirety, or cosmic order in traditions’.

Good name for a PR agency then.

Only when I started Twelve, Wikipedia didn’t exist.  And the naming of the agency came from a more instinctive, business premise.

I’d worked in large and medium-sized London agencies and learned that clients bought experience, know-how, great ideas, and people.  And that if the senior people who originally pitched to them and promised all this, while slowly melting away from their account, they looked elsewhere.

That was all some twenty years ago now, but I was reminded of this quite recently when one of Twelve’s account directors, returned from a two day, residential leadership course where she’d shared experiences with peers from other agencies.

It emerged that their average client retention rate was around two years. By contrast, most of our clients have been with us for well over ten years, and counting. And I have worked with one client organisation for close on thirty years.

Delving deeper, it also transpired that most felt that their directors worked primarily on new business, leaving the day-to-day account handling of existing business to juniors. At Twelve, a company director is totally hands-on on every account.

Our founding Twelve premise was ‘small is beautiful’ – a boutique agency of around twelve accounts handled by twelve people seemed to be the ideal. That way the directors could keep a hands-on presence right across the agency.

That said, I certainly recognise that younger and, by virtue of age, less experienced people are also essential to an agency.  This is especially true when it comes to new media and, often a more radical, fresh and unconstrained way of looking at things.  But a bit of grey hair (or white in my case) is still highly valued, especially on strategic work, crisis PR, and quality control. Clients need both on their team, not one or the other.

Twelve ideas

And as for new ideas, our retained clients get a new idea at every status meeting, ideally one a month, so twelve new ideas a year.

I recently worked out that one of our longest retained clients has received 168 new ideas from Twelve, in addition to those presented each year in its annual core programme – that’s one a month for 14 years for those still struggling with the maths! And, more importantly, most of those ideas flew.

So while we can’t claim Wikipedia’s religious or mythical symbolism, and certainly not cosmic order, though that would be nice, I’ve often thought there is actually something quite magical about Twelve.  And we certainly strive for perfection.

What’s more, after more than twenty years, I still like the name.

Twelve PR wins two golds at industry awards



As an agency, we were proud to have been awarded two Gold Awards at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) PRide Awards last Thursday evening (15 November).

The two Gold awards rewarded campaigns for The British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) and Canned Food UK.

Twelve PR took home the award for ‘Best Use of Media Relations’ for ‘Creating a Buzz for British Beekeepers’. The campaign received extensive national and regional coverage during National Honey Week for the findings of the BBKA’s annual honey survey, which consequently boosted sales of its charitable scheme, Adopt a Beehive.

The scheme was set up for the BBKA as a passion project by Twelve co-founder Nicky Smith, who is also a beekeeper and wanted to do something positive to help honey bees. All the profits from the scheme are ploughed into environmental and education projects to help save pollinators of all kinds, including honey bees.

Adopt a Beehive is promoted solely through traditional public relations, as it has a limited advertising budget.  Receiving national coverage for the annual honey survey and Adopt a Beehive in publications such as The Times, The Telegraph and The Guardian, as well as BBC Radio Four’s Today Programme, was a real boost for the scheme and helped raise significant funds for the BBKA’s research.

Speaking about the winning campaign from Twelve PR, the judges said:

“The results were fantastic, achieved through a great and innovative range of tactics and will hopefully have far-reaching consequences for all of us. A worthy winner!”

The other award-winning campaign was for the Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association and was designed to highlight the benefits of metal packaging compared to the other packaging materials. This campaign was called ‘Can you tell? Canned Food vs. Fresh’ and won the ‘Best Use of Content’ category.

It included a video of consumers taste-testing two identical dishes, one made with canned ingredients and the other with non-canned. The video appeared alongside survey results in various national newspaper publications.

Commenting on the wins, agency director, Nicky Smith, said:

“We thrilled to win two Gold awards for such differing campaigns – showcasing the breadth of expertise and experience at Twelve and in Chipping Norton.”