How to navigate the brave new world of social media regulation

Today’s announcement that Ofcom will have more powers to force social media firms to act over harmful content is no surprise, but what does it mean in reality in terms of social media regulation?

DTW Director Pete Whelan takes a look at the new proposal and gives four top tips for harassed and harangued social media managers in the brave new world.

1) We’re already responsible for our content

Say a million content creators throughout the UK are reading the news today! Of course, no-one managing any social channels spends any time checking and re-checking their content and carefully crafting posts to make sure they’re on message and don’t have any unfortunate typos…

The reality is that the Ofcom proposal is grabbing the headlines. However, it is likely to have much more impact on Facebook, TikTok, YouTube and Snapchat than any of us responsible content creators. That said, it’s a great time to review social media regulation and what we’re doing to make sure we are absolutely bang on.

  • Be clear in your objectives
  • Understand your audiences
  • Create some great and relevant content
  • Speak like a human
  • Evaluate and do more of what works!

2) Regulation isn’t new – take a look at the Advertising Standards Authority code

The Advertising Standards Authority’s CAP Code has covered social media content in the UK since 2011.

Yes – that does include organic content posted on your own channels – not just ad campaigns. The ASA can and does rule about the appropriateness of organic content.

Still not sure? Try this quote for size – “marketers should be aware that any content that bears a relationship to the products or services they offer has the potential to be considered directly connected and therefore within the ASA’s remit.”

You can read all about the ASA’s remit on social media in its handily new updated guide.

3) The big social networks will continue to tighten up the rules

There are already things that social networks are doing to better police content.

For example, Facebook has cracked down a lot on the use of clickbait headlines in the last 12 months. You need to factor this into your strategy and make sure you’re playing to the ever-changing whims of each individual network to get the best audience engagement.

4) So what’s next?

The biggest point for me on this is how will Ofcom, as a regulator, communicate the work it is doing to its stakeholders and ensure that the public, in particular, understands its remit.

This is going to be particularly challenging given the global nature of social media. We know from our work with clients like the FCA and the SRA where we helped them with communicating complex UK only issues such as regulatory changes that this can be achieved successfully, but the work plan for this will need to start now in order for it to be a success. Get in touch with our team today if you’d like to learn more about the work we undertake daily on this topic.

Thanks for reading


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Northern Spire to provide inspiration as DTW MD joins speakers at project management conference

DTW MD Chris Taylor will be speaking at the Association for Project Management conference in Manchester on 7th November.

Chris will be joining Duncan Ross Russell, Regional Director at Faithful+Gould, to showcase Sunderland City Council’s award-winning Northern Spire project and pass on lessons learned to other project managers from around the UK.

Chris and Duncan are speaking as part of the conference’s Smarter Thinking stream. It is all about inspiring project professionals to review their approach and mindset to deliver projects that provide broad benefits, including social, environmental and economic impact.

Northern Spire is a £117 million project to build a stunning new bridge at the heart of Sunderland’s new strategic transport corridor.

Chris said: “Project managers need to focus on improving people’s lives and their role in delivering investment and economic benefits. That means creating a team ethos and a narrative that puts outcomes and real people at the heart of the scheme from day one, and that’s what we all did as a team in Sunderland. I’m looking forward to the APM event as there are some great speakers and it should be a fascinating conference.”

DTW was appointed by Sunderland Council to deliver strategic PR and stakeholder engagement support alongside the three-and-a-half year construction programme. Faithful+Gould were the project managers for the scheme on behalf of Sunderland Council.

DTW has won awards for its work on Northern Spire from the CIPR, PRCA and UK Public Sector Communications Awards body.

You can see more about Northern Spire at



Animating the future proves just the job for UEFA

Warning: this is a blog about animation, not football.

Just thought we’d better get that out of the way first.

The new UEFA Nations League generated an impressive mix of confusion, apathy and shrugs all round when it was first announced, so the UEFA comms team have no doubt had their work cut out trying to explain the new competition format.

The answer – animation.

Good choice. When you’re faced with communicating a complicated issue or one that doesn’t have any simple ‘real’ visuals that can explain it or bring it to life, animation comes into its own.


In this case UEFA also managed to follow up a good idea with excellent execution. Its suite of short animations explains the two key elements of the new Nations League format.

Clever, simple and effective, they follow the golden rule of still working when played with no sound and put the viewer in charge of the pace they learn at. As a consumer, you or I can go back and re-watch any particular element that we might need more than one viewing to register properly.

The UEFA animations have been widely shared with and used by the media, increasing reach and lending third-party credibility and increasing understanding of and, I hope, support for, the new-look tournament.

You need some clever animators, an eye for detail, a damn good knowledge of flags, and a comprehensive proofing system for a job like this to deliver it. But first of all, you need the idea – well done UEFA – it’s not often they get credit for very much to be fair.

At DTW, we find we’re increasingly using animation to showcase complex concepts or bring to life ideas that just don’t work with video footage.

You don’t need to worry which employee you want to give a starring role to in case they decide to leave, or if the project you want to showcase is still a construction site, because you’re creating your own universe and you have control over the characters, the plot and the setting.

If you want to see a bit more you can see some examples of our most recent work.

Thanks for reading


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Twitter: When brands break up

**Editors note: This blog was originally published on 24th July 2018, with all details correct at the time of publication. The dispute between UKTV and Virgin Media has now been resolved, with an announcement on 11th August 2018 stating the two had reached a ‘long term agreement’ reinstating all of UKTV’s channels and services to Virgin Media.

Breakups – we’ve all been through them. The boyfriend who refused to wash his socks, the girlfriend who lost your cat, or the friend you realised you actually have nothing in common with. Accusations thrown around, harsh words said in the moment. Sound familiar? I thought as much. So, let’s all agree we can relate as we grab our boxes of popcorn and watch the spat currently playing out between UKTV and Virgin Media in the very public arena of Twitter.

Now, I’m not here to comment on who’s right or wrong in what is clearly a complicated negotiation of contracts and something I know nothing about. Instead, I’m going to happily sit here in my comfort zone and analyse who’s doing the better job of managing their reputation and communicating with their audience. (TLDR*? It’s UKTV)

So, before we begin, I’ll catch you up on what the issue is here. Around four million Virgin Media households have lost access to 10 UKTV channels following a dispute over fees. Virgin Media have said that UKTV are “holding back channels” and asking for “inflated sums of money for its paid channels like Gold.” UKTV have said that Virgin Media want to “drastically cut” the fee they pay for their channels and UKTV just can’t afford to take the hit. Got it? Good– let’s go!

The news first broke on 19thJuly and since then UKTV have tweeted about it (including retweets, not including replies) 19 times, whilst Virgin Media are trailing behind with a slightly less impressive 3**. Now, whilst I’ll usually champion the whole “quality over quantity” approach, in this situation, with such a major change to the package they pay for, Virgin’s customers want to be kept updated with conversation about what’s going on. They want to know that this issue is at the forefront of Virgin Media’s minds. And, most importantly, they want to feel as though something is being done about it. 19 tweets say, we’re here and we’re concerned, three tweets in the space of 6 days doesn’t really cut the mustard.

As with the tone of most arguments, it’s all a little “he said, she said.” But if we compare the tweets being put out by each account, UKTV have done a great job of putting Virgin’s customers first, whilst explaining their own point of view. Virgin Media on the other hand are taking an approach more concerned with directing the blame away from themselves and trying to instigate a manhunt for UKTV. Not very classy. It’s worth noting that at the time of writing, Virgin Media haven’t issued any tweets about why they’re asking for more money from UKTV.

Whilst we’re here, I’d like to do a quick shout out here to UKTV’s use of video throughout all of this. Great use of video is so important in social media and has been for a long time. Platforms like Twitter want to show it, audiences want to engage with it and it’s way more personal than a press release.

Whilst Virgin Media have posted a video, it’s a recording of a BBC News clip showing their Chief Digital Entertainment Officer giving his statement, retweeted from the Virgin Media Corporate Twitter account which isn’t even remotely consumer facing. Come on guys, let’s try a little harder…like our friends over at UKTV. They’ve issued two of their own pieces of video, presented by their General Manager for Comedy and Entertainment channels, straight to camera so he’s directly addressing the audience, making them feel acknowledged and heard. And the content hits the mark too, clearly explaining UKTV’s point of view, recognising Virgin Media customers’ frustrations and apologising. Whilst this is turning into a bit of a love letter to UKTV, I will give credit to both brands here – their choice of spokesperson is spot on.

Choosing someone who is clearly in charge and is directly involved in the situation is important as it gives them authority and credibility.

UKTV Tweet:

Virgin media Tweet:

When it comes to engaging with their audience, in this situation it’s incredibly important. Not only to provide them with good service, but to manage your reputation and influence how customers perceive your brand. To their credit, Virgin Media have done a great job of responding to frustrated customers and haven’t just ignored their complaints. On the other hand, as we can see in the examples below, a lot of their replies are obviously coming from a batch of stock responses.

Now, don’t get me wrong – stock responses can be very useful, but they start to become problematic when responses are required in such high volume. Although very handy for your workload, they do come across as robotic and lacking in personal touch.

And it doesn’t go unnoticed:

So, this blog is getting a little long, so I’ll wrap things up. What can we all learn from this? It’s not that Virgin Media have done anything outstandingly bad here, they haven’t.

But UKTV have done a much better job at engaging with their audience and promoting themselves as a brand who put their viewers first.

My main takeaways are:

  1. Keep those stakeholders primarily affected, such as customers, at the forefront of your communications
  2. Engage your audience with meaningful conversation
  3. Use engaging and informative video to convey your messages


*Psst! In case you’re not into internet abbreviations, TLDR = Too long, didn’t read, although that’s probably not relevant given the length of this one!

**Accurate at the time of publishing.

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DTW ranked by PR Week as number one public sector agency outside London and Glasgow

We’re rather pleased this week.

DTW has been ranked as the number one public sector specialist PR and communications agency outside London and Glasgow by leading industry trade magazine PR Week.

We were also listed as #8 in the list of specialist public sector agencies across the UK.

The ranking is based on fee income (i.e. it excludes spend on advertising space) from public sector projects. This makes it is a good indicator of who is delivering major public sector projects within the public sector space.

We said a year ago we wanted to be in the top ten – so we’ve achieved that.

The focus now is very much on providing a high-quality service (with a good no-nonsense northern perspective on life and PR) to our clients across the UK in an ever-changing and constantly challenging communications world.

Thanks for reading



Season’s Greetings from DTW

We’re heading towards the end of 2016 and what a year it’s been. We want to wish our clients a very Merry Christmas from everyone at DTW, so we’ve created a short animation to bring a smile to your face. Grab a mince pie, put your feet up and sit back for a bit of festive cheer!

*** Don’t forget to turn up your sound when watching! ***

We have really enjoyed working with you in 2016 and look forward to catching up with you again in 2017.
Thank you for helping us do what we love. Have a fantastic Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.

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Double award win for DTW at CIPR awards

They say you should never start with an apology, but I’m going to do it anyway. Sorry.

Why? It’s a bit self-indulgent this post – it’s about DTW winning awards.

Our team picked up two hard-won silver awards at the CIPR North East Pride awards this weekend.

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A Guide To Pokemon Go For Business

Is Pokemon Go a new marketing platform for business?

There’s a neDTW on Pokemon Gow craze on the loose. You may have observed groups of people walking around your town talking about ‘gyms’ and ‘Pokestops’ and teams.  They’ll all be looking at their phones. Or you may have seen videos of stampedes of crowds in New York running into a dark Central Park as they seek a rare ‘monster’.

This is Pokemon Go: a new app from Nintendo’s Niantic that, in its very short life, has more downloads than Tinder, more UK users than Twitter, and has sent Nintendo’s shares through the roof.

Naturally, businesses want to know how they can utilise this craze for marketing purposes.

The way the game works is through geolocation, it uses your phone location to allow you to play Pokemon in the ‘real world’ through augmented reality. It also uses local places as key locations in the game where you can pick up items and play against other players. 

It is these locations that businesses want to get their hands on. Well, here are the key things around that:

  • The app uses Google for its mapping data, not necessarily the location data
  • The locations of gyms and Pokestops are crowdsourced: busier areas will generally have more activity.
  • The locations are inherited from Niantic’s previous game called Ingress; its developers prioritising the public attractions and points of interest they learnt from that.

The key thing about Pokemon Go is the more users and people about, the more activity there will be on the app. This is why Niantic has been put into hot water as more sensitive locations like Auschwitz and the Holocaust Museum in the US have increasing gaming activity due to the number of visitors these places get.

Pokemon No Go

Pokemon No Go areas have appeared across the world

This all leads to the question: how can brands get themselves into the game?

The short answer is: they can’t.

The long answer is: they can’t at the moment, but there are discussions about sponsored locations within the game at some point, but not yet. McDonald’s is already pursuing this with branded locations in the game, but for smaller, local businesses this is a long way off. Remember, it’s only a few days old at the moment!

RICS tweet


What businesses can do is utilise the game through other marketing platforms. The RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) recently tweeted that they were a Pokestop. Our office at DTW is a Pokemon Go Gym, therefore, as a business, see what’s around you in the app and market your location in relation to these places. That way, hopefully, you’ll be able to see some footfall benefit from this new craze.


Catch a Weedle outside DTW

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The Facebook website and mobile apps went offline for 40 minutes on Monday afternoon, the second short outage in a week and the third in three weeks, blaming, engineers tinkering, which was the reported cause for the previous outages.

Now what is a minor annoyance or disruption for the ordinary user, or benefit if it gives you the chance to have a cuppa and catch up on work, has real-world consequences for organisations.  Starting with Facebook themselves, their share price took a 4% hit (£56 a share) or 1% for every ten minutes. Then there are the cascading consequences for other apps and websites that use Facebook as their primary login method or are built on Facebook’s structure. Tinder, the popular dating app, is the highest profile example. There are also the hundreds of thousands of Facebook advertisers whose campaigns may have been postponed or lost as a result of the unscheduled stoppage – Facebook has to take their concerns seriously and make amends in short order.

Other social networks, primarily Twitter, had a lot of fun at their expense, providing an outlet for frustration and also underlining their own robust systems but the little blue bird and others are just as susceptible to a malfunctioning algorithm or even something as minimal as a 0 retyped as an O.  Computers are unlike people in that there is no shade of grey regarding their operating parameters. A program either runs or it doesn’t – there is no nearly right here.

Such rare events also illustrate the danger of building a business model or primary presence on a platform that is ultimately out of your control – both proprietary and technically.  If you have a website, it is very unlikely that the internet will go down as there are a myriad of redundancies and work round’s to avoid it. A single site or platform is much narrower and easier to disable no matter how popular or famous.

Facebook has a lot of engineers and data scientists who can solve and fix issues and game plan for likely future offline incidents. In honour of #FacebookDown, maybe you should game plan your own social survival strategy if your main showroom simply vanishes into thin air…

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When was the last time you pushed yourself so hard, out of your comfort zone and even to the point of being scared? Whether it’s work or life it’s necessary to do it often, to gain a sense of achievement and if you can do it for a good cause even better.

This week is Dementia awareness week, 17 – 23rd May, and what better way to spend it than taking part in the Mount Snowdon midnight challenge – 20 miles, 1100 metres high and in the pitch black.

Last year I decided to sign up for the cause. My family is affected by Alzheimer’s and I had first hand experience of the emotional rollercoaster of people, places and familiar faces being forgotten.

People suffering from Alzheimer’s have mountains to climb every day just climbing out of bed, so why not raise awareness and funds by doing the equivalent in the dark!

So five months ago the training started, many snowcapped summits, Lake District views, hairy descents and very tired muscles – also a fair bit of complaining en route.

Each time taught me more, the biggest lessons learnt, be prepared for any situation and have lots of small goals and by the time you have reached them, you will be on top in no time. This was soon applied to lots of things I did at home and work too.

I arrived in Snowdonia a little worried last Friday as the hardcore climbers gathered, all 243 in total. Torrential rain, high winds and zero visibility – why would it possibly be anything else?

It’s amazing how people’s life stories, the support of sponsorship and loved ones backing you pushes you further and helps summon energy when you need it most. It was horrendous.

Three hours later a very wet, cold but ecstatic Laura ran through the doors, placed fourth and the first woman home. It’s fair to say I still don’t believe I made it, let alone in such a time.

The most amazing part of the whole challenge is the £3,000 I raised will add to the total of £170,000, which will aid support with research, befriending services, campaigns and publications. Dementia will affect one million people in 2015 and with this disease there are no survivors.

So maybe we can’t move mountains, but we definitely can climb them, helping others preserve, make and keep memories alive. #DF24