PR Siren: travel, social media & marketing

Food for thought – where’s all the good food in London?

A blog by Kelly Adams

In a previous blog post, my colleague Katie M wrote about her longing for good food in the capital. After reading her describe some dishes as “decidedly mediocre”, I felt it was necessary to counteract her harsh criticisms and point her (and fellow readers) in the right direction.

Since moving to London from South Africa, three and a half years ago I have sampled food from restaurants, markets, pop up restaurants and the odd kebab store around the city (the dolma from SuperKebab in Dalston are truly dreamy). In a city with such an eclectic mix of cultures and cuisines, I find it hard to believe that anyone could be less than impressed with the food choices available.

If you are looking for tip top pizza I recommend Addommé in Streatham Hill (South London) which is hands down the best pizza in London –very affordable, and worth the journey.  If you are looking for somewhere a bit more central, then Pizza Pilgrims, Homeslice Pizza, Pizza East and Franco Manca are also high on the list.

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I couldn’t write a post about food in London without mentioning Brixton Village. Home to a number of fresh produce stores, (very smelly) fishmongers and butchers, as well as an array of restaurants – Caribbean, Mexican, Colombian, Danish, American and Japanese amongst others.  It truly is a miniature global culinary city within a city and in my opinion best reflects how exciting the London food scene is at the moment. Some other foodie markets worth a visit are Borough market and Broadway market.

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If you are looking to blow some cash and experience some of London’s haute cuisine my top recommendation goes to the Michelin-starred Restaurant Story, located on Tooley Street, near London Bridge. With the choice of either a six- or 10-course tasting meal, you are guaranteed to go on a journey which is likely to change your life (I’m not even exaggerating on this one, it is that good). Honourable mentions go to Rules Restaurant in Covent Garden, the oldest restaurant in London and great for those wanting to experience really good traditional British cuisine, and Duck and Waffle – although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the signature dish, it’s worth a taste, but the rest of the menu is far more exciting.

I’ve barely scratched the surface, but really I could go on for days about the wonders of the London food scene and the sheer amount of really good food and produce on offer. Bottom line Katie (and fellow readers) if you aren’t finding good food in London, then you are not looking in the right places. Get out of your comfort zone and start enjoying the culinary smorgasbord available to you.

Social media round up – Futuristic jets and a look into North Korea

LIV_IMG_Technicon-IXION-project_20140128_GD-(16)A global design company in France have released images of a futuristic windowless private jet. The innovative design features a jet with no windows that uses cameras to capture the external surroundings of the plane and beams the display onto the inside walls. The real time panoramic views will be projected onto the cabin walls and ceiling of the plane giving passengers a remarkable experience as if they were travelling in a see-thru plane. Could this be the future for air travel?

Traces is a new app which allows you to leave messages for a friend that they can only access if they are in the location the message originated from. Once two users connect on the app they can send content, whether it be a photo, video or audio clip and direct friends to the location to pick it up. They can then only access the content when they are within 50 metres of where it has been sent. There is a cap of five people you can send each trace to, limiting mass distribution.

It seems North Korea may be set to open its doors to the world, well virtually at least. A video made with full backing from the North Korean government entitled Enter Pyongyang has been created offering panoramic and aerial photos as well as views inside both offices and transit centres. The video is described as an ‘observational film’ by branding specialist JT Singh who created the video in conjunction with North Korea’s long-standing touring company Koryo Tours and time-lapse specialist Rob Whitworth. This move within North Korea seems to indicate a growing desire to enhance the country’s tourist industry.

We live in a time of technological advancement, where every week we hear stories of brands creating new software or technology to make the lives of customers and clients just that little bit easier. This week, The Palladium Hotel Group updated the integrations on its guest ‘smart’ bracelet. The arm-wear, which already allows users post on social media, now gives guests the opportunity to access rooms and pay for extras through PayPal. Hotel guests are now in a position to enjoy a cash-free stay, purchasing goods and services with the swipe of their bracelet. Clever stuff!

While it’s easy to go online and get a 360-degree, ground-level view of almost any street in the world; soon, scientists hope people will be able to do the same with coral reefs and other underwater wonders. You heard it here first folks – scuba diving in the Florida Keys may soon be possible from your desk – albeit virtually. This week, United States government scientists revealed that they are learning to use specialised fisheye lenses underwater in the Florida Keys in the hopes of applying “street view” mapping to research and management plans in marine sanctuaries across the country. Some of the rotating and panoramic images will be available online as early as this week, including a selection on Google Maps, giving the public a window into eco-systems still difficult and costly to explore for long stretches of time – like scuba diving from your computer, so watch out for sharks!

 

Social media round up – Train tickets on a smartwatch

Now for a truly modern love story… When Irishman, Jamie Kelly, met his dream girl on a flight from Barcelona to Dublin, but managed to get separated from her at customs before getting her phone number, he turned to Twitter to track her down. Dubbed the ‘Ryanair Romeo’, Jamie went on a mission to be reunited with the girl he knew only has ‘Katie from Nova Scotia’. He rounded up his friends to launch a #loveatfirstflight #findkatie Twitter campaign. Worthy of your classic romcom storyline, the pair overcame this ‘hiccup’ when one of Katie’s family members stumbled upon the campaign and they are planning to be reunited soon. Here’s hoping for #happilyeverafter.

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It’s clear we’re moving towards a time of ‘wearable’ technology. As we become more reliant on technology in our everyday lives, the race to make life easier for travellers has begun. French train ticket booking operator, Capitaine Train, recently released an app for Android Wear technology. The smartwatch app notifies users 20 minutes prior to departure and displays all the relevant information required. Seat numbers and the e-ticket barcode are also shown via the app. However, users are not able to purchase tickets using their watch – this must be on the cards as the next technological advancement?

Taxi company Uber is set to launch a new service ‘UberPool’. This service allows strangers, who are going to similar destinations, to share a ride and split the cost between them. UberPool works like the regular Uber service however; it pairs users up with another rider and lets them know the first name of the person they will be riding with. The taxi company has said that the new service is a ‘bold social experiment’ and is interested to find out about the interaction between riders. Uber is currently present in over 150 cities across 42 countries, the new UberPool service is perfect for travelling around cities making exploring fun and cheap.  UberPool is set to be widely available by 15 August.

Google maps has struck gold again!  In a collaboration with Constantine Valhouli – real estate developer and the man behind the NYC Music Map – comes the Early NYC Place Names, a new interactive map which will allow tourists and locals alike to explore the etymology behind the names of New York’s neighbourhoods, streets and parks. This app allows its users to juxtapose the names of areas now against the names the Native Americans, Dutch colonisers and English colonisers gave them. What’s in a name? Well, in today’s real estate market it seems, quite a lot!

Social media round up – fakeation selfies, anyone?

A car hire firm at Heathrow Airport faced a barrage of criticism on Twitter this week after describing cyclists as a “hazard” in its advice for overseas visitors to Britain, adding that they “become most indignant if you hit them”.  The website – Heathrow-car-rental.co.uk – was brought down by traffic as a result of the Twitter campaign but has since issued an apology – adding that “cyclists tend to ignore traffic lights and one-way streets”.

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The ‘selfie’ has taken over the world in recent years with everyone from President Obama to The Pope taking part in the trend. This has led to the latest craze of the ‘fakeation selfie’ – taking a snap that makes it look like you are on holiday when you’re really at home. Fakeation selfies have filled social media feeds, fitting in well with the usual holiday photos that clog up our timelines at this time of the year. The fakeation selfie is not as easy to create as some may think; using your knuckles to look like sunbathing thighs against a beach back drop can be quite tricky! In other selfie news, Microsoft has given employees a first look at its soon to launch ‘selfie’ phone with a 5 megapixel forward-facing camera.

 

After a man was charged £75 for three bottles of sparkling water at a London hotel this week, social media was rife with posts about ‘greedy hotels’. The astronomic bill for what would usually cost less than £2 in a supermarket was attributed to the hotel’s minimum spend policy after 4pm and sparked an en mass rant about overcharging by high end venues. The incident prompted nearby restaurant to take advantage of the situation and reassure tweeters “Confirming that our sparkling water is not £25 per bottle. Even after 4pm.” #Thirsty?

 

New website to launch this week, Nomadlist.io, showcases the best cities to live and work from and encourages you to break the office boundaries, taking your work to more interesting places. The site ranks cities based on votes from visitors to the site, and provides lots of interesting information on the city for those who fancy a break. Categories include everything from temperature, internet speed and estimated costs of living comfortably. Currently, Asian cities are proving to be the biggest hits, with Chiang Mai in Thailand at the top spot.

 

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Our friends in the Southern hemisphere almost brought the internet to a standstill earlier this week following an amazing #sydneysunset. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram were all abuzz with glorious pictures of the orange, pink and purple sky as the sun set across Sydney. Those stuck in the office weren’t to be left out; many joined in the action by posting pictures of the sun doodled on post-it notes.

 

Social media round up – the role of social media in world events and holiday photo inspiration

After last week’s crash of Flight 17 when Malaysia Airlines turned to Twitter to keep the world informed about the disaster, it would seem growing numbers of airlines are taking to the social media site to keep the general public informed about confusing or chaotic events. Twitter’s central role in airlines’ communications strategies was also illustrated on Tuesday when American Airlines, United Continental and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines all used the platform as part of their efforts to inform the public about the cancellation of flights to Israel because of safety concerns. With more airlines on Twitter today than have their own loyalty programmes, it is becoming increasingly clear that when it comes to direct airline-to-customer communication, Twitter is the best medium.

 

On Wednesday the Commonwealth games began with a flash of tartan at Celtic Park, Glasgow. The ceremony had everything from spinning tea cakes to a giant kilt. The Queen officially opened the games with The Commonwealth baton, which had travelled for 288-days, spanning 120,000 miles! With over one million spectators expected to descend on the city, accommodation is getting tight. With visitscotland.com releasing figures showing that 90% of all Glasgow’s accommodation was occupied, even before any events had started. With the average room rising 158% they are now encourage people to look outside the city, or to bring a tent as city sites have been set up ready for over 1,000 campers.

 

Social media site Foursquare has revealed its new logo as it moves into its new personalised era. The famous check-ins, that the site was famous for, will now occur in their new app ‘Swarm’ – all past check-ins, friends and photos will automatically move over to this app. Once you teach the app about you, the new Foursquare will recommend places that match your likes in whatever city you are in. The new logo features a map pin and superhero emblem as according to Foursquare ‘the new app is giving you superpowers to explore the city that you are in’. This app is the perfect travel tool for those searching for something that is suited to them.

amivitale on Instagram

Rather than posting the traditional holiday cocktail snap or the tanned knees on the beach picture that litter Instagram and Facebook feeds at this time of year, take some inspiration from National Geographic photographer Ami Vitale. Vitale’s Instagram has attracted over 85,000 followers with her stunning travel pictures, and while her tips are largely for professionals they also offer great advice for the casual photographer looking to raise the bar on Instagram.

 

Where do you see yourself holidaying in 2020? This week we have been igniting our future wanderlust with a look through some of the top travel destinations of the future. Attractions will include the proposed ‘House of Peace’ in Copenhagen, where visitors will be able to sail into a floating sculpture of tranquillity. For those who wish to experience something a little more thrilling, the world’s tallest twin towers are set to be built in Wuhan China and will reach the dizzying heights of 3,280 feet. The towers will hold floating restaurants as well as housing the world’s tallest Kaleidoscope. Lovers of the great outdoors fear not, there is plenty for you too.  An underground park in Abu Dhabi will be the choix du jour for those hoping to relax under a leafy canopy without having to deal with the intense Middle East Sun. These are simply a few of a dazzling array of tourist attractions to come.

 

And finally, a man in Denver was thrown off of a Southwest Airlines flight this week for a tweet of complaint he had sent at the gate. Mr Watson got into a dispute with a gate agent when he wasn’t able to utilise the priority boarding he would usually be entitled to because he was travelling with his two children. He had Tweeted, “Wow, rudest agent in Denver… not happy.” and included the gate agent’s first name and last initial. After boarding the plane was asked to leave until he deleted the tweet #Oops

 

Social media round up – Commercial spaceport to open in the UK by 2018

 

A rather clever map designed by property developer Constantine Valhouli points out the specific geography of New York City references in songs using Google technology. The list of songs is available on Wikipedia, but Constantine thought this wasn’t enough. So far the map includes over 200 songs, but people can submit more by emailing musicmapnyc@gmail.com. The interactive graphic allows users to explore and discover how certain areas of the city represent certain music styles or eras. It’s only a matter of time before this idea spreads to other cities…Violet Hill by Coldplay as a starting point?

Eight sites across the UK have been shortlisted for the first commercial spaceport outside of the United States. The potential sites are all in costal locations with six in Scotland, one in England and one in Wales. The spaceport will be used for scientific work as well as tourism, with an expected rise of space travel it is planned to open in 2018. Virgin Galactic is already offering tickets to space from spaceport America for $250,000 and the UK plans to capture 10% of the World’s space market by 2030.

Amazon is giving readers the chance to read on the go and download an unlimited amount of books to their kindles for just $9.99 a month. This allows travellers to avoid narrowing down their holiday reads to one book that can be squeezed into hand luggage. The ‘kindle unlimited’ is being compared to Netflix which also has a set monthly rate and gives you access to many films and series. Kindle has announced plans for a library of over 600,000 titles for readers to enjoy – the perfect accessory for a relaxed beach holiday.

Now that The World Cup is over our friends over at Mashable have put together all 63 of the Google Doodles that were displayed on the search engines home page throughout the tournament. Congrats on the win Germany!

London’s second board game café is to open in Hackney. Concept cafes are not new to the capital but with the rise of the ‘old fashioned’ hobby a new trend has evolved for beers and board games. The café aims to hold 500 games, opening in September its owner John Morgan believes its rise in popularity over the last few years is due to peoples need to switch off from cyber space. Wanting to have proper interactions again with people. Their only concern now is drinks getting spilt on the boards!

Sarah Rathbone becomes Managing Director of Siren Communications

With immediate effect, Sarah Rathbone becomes Managing Director of Siren Communications Ltd.

Sarah has worked alongside Rachel O’Connor and the board of directors at Siren for the past 12 years, whilst the business has grown and developed to become a leading Communications specialist operating in the travel and leisure sectors.

Sarah Rathbone

Sarah’s passion for communications and all it can offer has played a significant role in the business’s success today and she has led and directs some of the business’ longest standing clients, achieving awards from leading industry institutions and clients businesses alike on a number of occasions.

Sarah, currently deputy managing director, will assume responsibility for the entire day to day operation, supported ably by Siren’s management team which includes Lisa Wong, financial controller, Emma Wayman, senior account director, Claire Winsor, account director, and Katie Wright, account director.

Sarah will continue to report to Rachel O’Connor, founder and chief executive and Siren’s board and shareholders including Marie Louise Windeler and Charles Anson.

As part of her new role, Sarah is charged with continuing to ensure that client needs are placed at the centre of the service offering and that account teams, and importantly the business, maintain their reputation for consistently delivering strong ROI and highly effective communications counsel.  A key feature of this is to maintain strong strategic and creative capabilities within the teams and to continue to innovate with the exciting changes across the field of communications.

Rachel will continue to work in the business on a part time basis, spending her time with specific clients and on business development.

  • Siren has worked in the travel, lifestyle and charity sectors since its inception and employs 16 people across communications disciplines
  • Working alongside specialist service providers in representation, content generation, media planning and buying, crisis etc
  • Top 150 PR Week, Alternative Social media top 150
  • Increased profitability consistently over last 4 years

For further information please call Sarah Rathbone or Rachel O’Connor on + 44 (0)207 759 1150 or email sarah.rathbone@sirencomms.com.

www.sirencomms.com

Siren Communications management team

Siren Communications Management Team

 

Social media round up – Germany beat Brazil and a Barcelona time-lapse

As Germany scored five goals in just 29 minutes against Brazil on Tuesday, the home team’s humiliation was painfully sensed by the rest of the world, with even the German fans muting their celebrations. Losing the game 7-1, Tuesday has officially been identified as the day that Brazilian Football was demolished on its home turf. More than just German and FIFA world records were broken however on this historic night, so too were that of social media giant Twitter. 3.6 million  tweets recorded about the event, making it officially the most tweeted-about sporting event ever! It may have been an awful day for Brazil but it was a great day for Twitter!

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American low cost flight provider, Spirit Airlines, has launched its Hate Thousand Miles giveaway campaign this week and invited wronged flyers to share their gripes and ‘Unleash that Hate’. The airline is offering customers in the U.S. the chance to get their issues off of their chest within 140 characters and in return they will be rewarded with 8,000 Free Spirit miles. This clever little campaign means that anyone keen to get a free flight will need to take a paid-for trip first as they won’t quite have enough to travel on the reward alone.

We can now say goodbye to carrying the extra baggage of maps and city guides when on our travels with the launch of the new offline feature on the TripAdvisor smart phone app. The feature requires users to download guides, city maps, photos, reviews and attractions whilst they have an internet connection so that they can access this material whilst offline on their travels. This allows travellers to enjoy maps on the go without having to search for free Wi-Fi spots or risk racking up bills for roaming charges whilst touring.

A young American cheerleader has found herself at the centre of controversy this week after over 332,000 people signed an online petition demanding Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg remove pictures of her posing alongside animals she hunted on safari in Zimbabwe. Facebook removed the pictures deeming them to glorify violence – dismissing claims they removed the photos under duress from animal rights groups – much to the ire of hunting advocates and gun-rights supporters.

We love a time-lapse video and this week’s find from Rob Whitworth is an absolute gem. This mesmerising, two-minute, “flow-motion” city tour of Barcelona is sure to have you booking your tickets to the coastal city before the video even ends. Reportedly the video took 363 hours to make, with 78 filming hours alone. A word of warning, while the video might give you serious wanderlust, it may also result in some serious motion sickness – well worth a watch though!

Social media round up – KLM get it wrong on Twitter

KLM Airlines are well renowned for being at the top of their game when it comes to social media strategy and engagement. The airline is behind some of the most creative travel social media marketing campaigns to date. But this week saw KLM lose a few points with an ill-conceived tweet sent as Mexico crashed out of the World Cup. The tweet, which joined the words ‘adios amigos’ with an illustration of a Mexican man with cartoonish sombrero, moustache and poncho in a Departures sign, offended a significant volume of social media users. KLM have since apologised with an official statement – but it just goes to show that even companies with a great social media track record can sometimes slip up.

london skyline from cockpit

This week, British Airways have asked pilots to submit their best views from the cockpit. The top view in the world, unsurprisingly, was the Northern Lights, often seen on North Atlantic crossings. London’s skyline was named above many exotic locations such as Mont Blanc, Sydney Harbour and the Golden Gate Bridge – all of which made the top five. The most extraordinary entry came from British Airways chief Boeing pilot, Captain Al Bridger, who was lucky enough to see the Soyuz 35S space craft returning to earth when on a flight to Singapore.

Highly anticipated dance festival Tomorrowland, which takes place in Belgium every July, has upped its social media game by introducing a Facebook element to all festival bracelets. Once activated and connected to Facebook, festival-goers can keep in touch with new friends in this mini-global city by touching the heart on the bracelet simultaneously with a nearby bracelet. With a simple push of a button, contact information is traded and a daily “friendship email” is sent to guests to keep the Tomorrowland memories alive after the party is over.  Tomorrowland’s annual ‘after-movies’ have catapulted this festival into the spotlight with the 2013 video reaching over 71 million views in under a year.

This week saw the launch of the first Instagram website. IKEA created the web-style Instagram account to promote their new PS 2014 collection. The Instagram gridded profile (ikea_ps_2014) acts as the home page of the website, with each image representing a range of items (benches, storage, tables). The images are tagged with many other accounts which take you to pages dedicated solely to one product which feature images, videos and information on the particular item.

A tale of two cities

A blog by Katie Moine

Having spent the past 10 years in Sydney, it seems fitting to mark my arrival at Siren Communications, and indeed London, with a post celebrating all that is great about the two cities. There are a few things I have come to love about London in my three months in the city, the stunning old buildings, the transport, citymapper, the canal boats, I could go on, but here I’m going to compare two of my favourite things: food and the weather.

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London does a great summer – and I am just talking about summer here, the thought of an English winter has me terrified. Having grown up in England before migrating to Sydney 10 years ago, I have never been able to hack an Australian summer. It is quite literally too hot to do anything except seek out a patch of shade. And unless you live smack on the beach it is almost impossible to get there to cool down – I’m not sure if anyone has ever burnt their hands on their steering wheel in England but it doesn’t make for a pleasant drive.

In London however I am delighted that the 15SPF in my foundation will see me through the day. No longer do I have to skulk along the pavement desperately seeking shade and no longer is it necessary to reapply ghostly thick sunscreen every time I step outside. Another amazing thing about the English summer is that it is day light all the time! I still can’t quite get my head around this, but I’m pretty sure I’m enjoying it.

One thing that definitely leaves London wanting though is food. Sure there is an amazing array of food ready to grab on the go at lunch, but what about a cheap pub meal? I used to enjoy a delicious steak at my Sydney local for $10 or £5.50, and it was amazing. Here I have to pay triple that for something that is decidedly mediocre. And don’t get me started on the seafood I still reel in shock when I see the ‘prawns’ at my local supermarket or the avocados which have seem to have two stages of ripe in the motherland: rock hard or rotten.  But at least I once again have an endless supply of English chocolate on hand.