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The catch heard around the world

Even if you’re not an NFL fan, I’m sure you can appreciate the sheer athleticism of Odell Beckham Jr.’s incredible touchdown catch the other day.

If you’ve not seen it, here you go.

As you’d expect, social media had a field day.

Firstly, people shared gifs of the catch itself, and there was an outpouring of adoration – “the best catch ever” was bandied about.

Then, from another angle it emerged there was a sports photographer just feet from the action. The picture on Twitter went viral, with people joking that he had missed the shot and had been fired.

The photographer in question quickly caught wind of it, and shared his version of events.

The story from start to finish has been quite quick to play out, and is a great example of how quickly things ebb and flow on social media.

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MediaWorks lights up Soho

The US might be all a-twitter with news of Wills and Kate’s visit, but forget that. The real news this side of the pond is that MediaWorks, our media strategy and brand storytelling consultancy, is now officially open for business!

Industry movers and shakers, including friends and customers of Nelson Bostock Group Unlimited, gathered in Soho on Wednesday night to hear Head of MediaWorks Matt Cowan introduce the Group’s new offering. We were honoured to be joined by Unruly’s Sarah Wood, who spoke to Matt and the audience about how video is changing the way we communicate online – and what she thinks 2015 hold for video content

Thanks to everyone who came along to help us launch this exciting new string to the Nelson Bostock Group Unlimited bow.

For more information about MediaWorks, you can read Matt’s interview with PR Week here, or visit the website:



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A Pottermore Christmas

As self-confessed internet addicts, it’s hard not to know about Pottermore, the online Harry Potter community. It’s an immersive way to experience the hit series online – a completely original way to extend the Harry Potter world, filled with puzzles and hidden content, where you can cast spells, brew portions and even learn what Hogwarts house you’re destined for.

Now, with the festive season underway Rowling’s back, and she’s offering us even more new content. If you’re getting bored of your chocolate advent calendar (ours have featured some truly terrible jokes!), you can indulge in an altogether different guilty pleasure at 1pm each day, when Rowling releases a little more of the story. Once you’ve solved a Harry Potter themed riddle, you can find out more on subjects ranging from unpublished subplots about Diagon Alley’s ice cream parlour owner, to exactly what kinds of enchantments Harry Potter’s cauldron has on it.

As PR goes, it’s a bit of a dream. It builds on the legacy and the whole site is a pretty incredible idea for engaging with fans. Not only does it let us keep our Harry Potter fantasy world alive, but it makes sure that everyone’s favourite author remains at the forefront of our mind.

To see the new content for yourself, head over to

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This week CES, hailed as the primo event in every gadget aficionado’s calendar, has caused our attention to bounce (like caffeine-fuelled Minions in a banana plantation) from one new “must have” to the next. Having seemingly lost its shine in previous years with blasé coverage that reacted to “yet more 4K” with the editorial equivalent of a yawn, this year it feels like it’s back with a bang with autonomous cars, new takes on wearables and so so so much more.

Here are five of the coolest things that caught our eye – as well as a goodly amount of media buzz:

The Parrot H2O and Pot

Do you tend to murder every plant that gets within ten miles of your so-called green fingers? This could be the ultimate techie cheat to keep plants alive, healthy and thriving.

Gogoro’s Smartscooter

Gogoro may have been set up by some ex-clients of ours but we’re TOTALLY unbiased when we say that it’s clear why the Smartscooter scooped the Best of CES awards from Engadget and Mashable. It has the potential to completely change how to view electric transportation in the future and the design actually makes it an object of desire… Definitely more Tesla than Prius!

Storedot’s battery charger

The moment when your battery reaches just 5% of its life is one of the most fear-generating, stress-inducing, arse-clenching first-world problems to have. Imagine the smile on your face when you realise that in just 30 seconds, you could be fully-charged once more and ready to take on the world via Twitter, Facebook, Skype, WhatsApp, Instagram and, errr, email. This is the world that many of us, very embarrassingly, inhabit.

The Anova sous-vide cooker

This HAD to be in our top five as it combines two of our great loves – tech and cooking! This Bluetooth enabled sous-vide cooking tool lets you pick a pre-programmed recipe, and an app will let you know when your cut of meat is cooked to perfection. Honestly why wouldn’t you??

Intel’s Curie

A tiny addition from a huge company, Intel’s Curie aims to push the Internet of Things ever further. We’ve got a long time to wait before it’s released, but it’s definitely one to keep an eye on and will hopefully take wearables to the next level.

TGIF! We’re off for a lie down in a dark room (and to plan our 2015 letters to Santa for some of this brilliant new tech).

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Space and beyond

In a brilliant and somewhat unexpected move, SpaceX has released over 100 pictures on Flickr, documenting its pursuit of soaring in the constellations. Whether your passion is for snazzy artistic shots of air force bases in the twilight, or artist depictions of the Crew Dragon spacecraft floating in the blackness of space, it’s all available at the click of a button.

What’s even more remarkable, is that SpaceX has released the pictures without any conditions on usage. In an age where many people and brands are increasingly careful about what they do and don’t allow into the public domain, it’s a refreshing change to see this kind of imagery free-to-use, especially on the back of a tweet!

It’s the latest in a string of impressive moves from SpaceX. Elon Musk’s approach has always been pretty open and public-facing about what his company does – from detailed Reddit AMAs, to engaging in public debate on Twitter. Even better was just how blasé Musk was about the announcement, that the pictures were now full public domain, as if it was no big deal – remarkably smooth.

It’s no surprise that fans (including our Space Club) are impressed, and watching SpaceX closely!

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Generally speaking

There’s an interesting piece over on Holmes Report you should read – “The Resurgence Of PR Generalists?”

Our MD, Nick Clark, had some thoughts on it:

As is often the case, a trend quickly becomes fact and tends to get slightly blown out of proportion. That’s certainly the case with the shift away from generalists towards specialists in the PR industry. Of course there’s more diversification in the industry than ever and a rise in specialists, but you need generalists as they are the gatekeepers managing key ongoing client relationships, keeping clients happy and revenues stable – both particularly important during a period of potential transition.

The reality is that it’s really hard to predict what the future holds but one thing that the whole industry agrees on is that PR needs to continue to evolve. In order to do this we need different skills and this means investing in talent and potentially specialists from other disciplines – but you can’t throw away years of work building an agency just because someone says you need re-think your operating model.

PR agencies have traditionally been more agile than other creative agencies as we work in smaller teams and don’t outsource elements of the planning or creative process to separate teams. It’s important we don’t lose this agility in a more specialist world but there’s certainly things that we can learn from how other marketing agencies operate and tapping into deep specialism in certain areas can only improve our offering to clients.

Right now, we feel that we have the balance just right – we’re doing the most exciting work for clients that we’ve ever done and much of this is the brave new world of ‘content’. We have also created a number of specialist roles and will continue to do so but many of our clients still want traditional PR, meaning great media relations and reputation management. If you’re talking about specialisms, they are areas where the PR industry really holds its own and represent fundamental pillars on which everything else we do can be built on.

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Hövding’s airbag for cyclists

In collaboration with airbag manufacturer Alva Sweden, and in development since 2005, Hövding has just released the second version of its ‘Airbag for Cyclists’. Rather than the traditional cycling helmet made from plastic and polystyrene, this is a hi-tech collar.

At first glance, you’d be forgiven for not wanting to trade a helmet for a collar but this one will sense when you are involved in an accident, deploying an inflatable helmet in just 0.1 seconds.

It also covers far more of your head and neck, reducing the chances of whiplash, and is three times more shock absorbent than a standard helmet. Charged via USB, you get roughly nine hours of continuous cycling time with Airbag deployment guaranteed.

Here’s an excellent overview from the team.

The stats are pretty staggering too. It has been tested by stunt bikers in every conceivable accident situation, thereby creating an algorithm that can determine when exactly an accident is taking place.  Apparently common-or-garden variety helmets will still result in serious head injuries for their wearers over 90% of the time – for Airbag wearers that’s reduced right down to under 2%.

Unfortunately, this technology comes with a £250 price tag for one-time use. Hövding will, however, allow you to buy a second one at a reduced price and is always keen to get its paws on the black boxes of used Airbags for future analysis.

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“I need your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle…”

Arnold Schwarzenegger has lent his dulcet tones to navigation app Waze in their most recognisable ‘guise’ – that of the killing-machine-with-a-smooshy-centre, the T-101 – or quite simply, the Terminator.

As a virtual driving instructor, Arnie will be issuing you with a series of Terminator-based commands – perhaps not so useful for when you’re popping out to do the weekly food shop, but still CLEARLY VITAL at all other times.

These free-of-charge gems include:  “I need you clothes, your boots and your motorcycle… just kidding”, “I’m looking for Sarah Connor – but we can go to your destination first”, “In need of a Terminator? No problem, I will join the ride. Let’s move!” and, naturally, “You have reached your destination. Hasta la vista, baby!”

We can’t help but feel they missed a trick by not having “Come with me if you want to live” programmed for the beginning of every new journey – it would add a nice, ‘judgement day’ touch to your morning…

Arnie has hit the publicity road hard in anticipation of his upcoming return to the Terminator franchise in Terminator Genisys later this month – earlier this week he scared the sugar out of unsuspecting visitors to Madame Tussauds in Hollywood.

If you’re at all confused by this blog post, click here. And watch the trailer for the new one here. And while we’re here, we should show you the second, ‘cos it’s the best. Let’s not discuss numbers three or four.

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Hot Topics

Our MD, Nick Clark, went to the latest Hot Topics event. Here’s his summary:

As an agency we have great experience of working with high growth technology companies and we spend a lot of time understanding their business challenges and consult on the best comms strategies to support their growth ambitions.

We mostly speak to companies after they’ve been funded and need to define messaging and build awareness for their proposition, but it’s also important to understand the motivations of investors as well as the numerous challenges early stage start-ups face before even picking up the phone to us. So the opportunity to attend the Hot Topics London event was too good to pass up.

It started with a short but insightful presentation from the Chairman of Skyscanner, Margaret Rice-Jones, who gave advice on how to secure early stage funding. As well as asking start-ups to think about why they need the money and whether they can self-fund through the early stage, she also advised that not all VC money is equal. Start-ups need to do as much due diligence on the investors as the investors do on them – are they the right fit and what support will they provide.

Then followed a panel session hosted by the Chairman of MOO, Simon Calver and including investors from Accel Partners and Balderton Capital, a government adviser and some interesting corporate investment perspectives from the Director of Corporate Development at Sky. As well as the usual thoughts about ensuring you’re solving a real problem (one of the panellist mused that anyone can create a social network for dogs but do we need one) and giving careful consideration to the market opportunity and valuation potential, a lot of the discussion focused on teams and personalities. Pretend to be a 24 year old Californian seemed to be the best piece of advice.

One thing everyone agreed on, and something that was present throughout the session, was an overriding feeling that there’s no better time to seek investment. There’s significant capital in the UK right now from home-grown investors as well as money coming in from the US and Asia in particular. This is being supported by corporates that are realising that they need to partner with, or acquire, entrepreneurial talent and ideas in order to stay fresh and ahead of competitors. The panellists clearly favoured the VC route but it’s clear that angel investors and crowd-funding are growing dramatically as well. Indeed, crowd-sourced and peer-to-peer funding is expected to exceed VC funding in the UK for the first time this year.

And we even witnessed this first hand as the 80 attendees were able to vote on which of three start-ups that presented at today’s session received a cheque for $250k from Qualcomm Ventures. The winner was a tethered drone that’s powered and controlled from the ground called Fotokite, meaning that users can take aerial images without worrying about crashing their drone into a tree. Does my vote make me an early stage investor? Obviously not, but it was a great opportunity to see what VCs are faced with when being pitched to by entrepreneurs.

It was left to Saul Klein, currently of Index Ventures, to end the session discussing a range of topics from how London has become one of the global powerhouses in tech investment (when asked why the UK is successful his simple answer was that we speak English but we’re not American), the support from the Government (the UK is the only G8 country that has an entrepreneur visa) education (children are the future but current employees are the immediate issue and need to be re-skilled for the digital age) and why he’s leaving Index. Saul’s responses were thought-provoking and clearly based on years of experience. He has a glittering career with many claims to fame, the highlight in my opinion being the person who launched the Fantasy Football League in the early 90’s when at the Telegraph.

As Saul said, too much is written about founders and not enough about teams. Entrepreneurs are often visionary, ‘go it alone’ types but investors buy people and teams are stronger than individuals.

Essentially, if you have a good idea that solves a problem (if dogs don’t need social networks, how about cats?) and you’ve built a great team, go looking for money as it’s there, in spades.

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AI and weapons

This week some of the brightest minds of our time, including Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak, signed a letter stating their opposition to the use of Artificial Intelligence based weapons.

It’s next to impossible to argue that computers haven’t improved our lives. Robotic surgeons could help to save millions more lives, for example, and it’s difficult to argue that the Internet is a bad thing, surely?

But, where do we draw the line?

It comes down to a question of ethics, and that’s not just for weapons, but for every single industry. Even something as supposedly innocent as search engine results could be misused. Weapons are a much more obvious point of controversy because of the potential impact.

The point of a weapon is, at best, to do damage. There’s no positive outcome for the person it’s being used against. That’s why each and every use should have a conscience behind it. A computer program, no matter how complex, is simply working through a series of commands at lightning speed. There is no thought, no instinct, no emotion.

Arguably, there are already AI assisted weapons out there and this is simply a natural extension. A current example is drones. For reconnaissance, some are fully automated, flying set patterns to take photos. For combat however, there is a ‘pilot’ sitting at a computer screen, taking a decision about when to fire. Even this is controversial enough as it creates a sense of disconnection from reality – the setup is alarmingly like a videogame, almost like Ender’s Game, where it’s possible to remove oneself from the impact of your decision.

The danger is that we would take crucial decision making out of our own hands. We would become desensitised, and come to think of life-ending choices as trivial – simply switch off the screen and it no longer exists. It’s not your decision, and therefore not your responsibility. And that’s not even entering the difficulty of coding – how can you create a completely foolproof set of code that encapsulates the complexity of this kind of decision making?

We’ll undoubtedly continue to see incredible advances in technology over the coming years. In a decade we’ll look back and wonder how society managed with such rudimentary technology. But we can only hope we’ll never see a day when there are computers making military-related life and death decisions.

3 laws safe!