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Thursday Tea – Introducing Fleets, Instagram Anger and Youtube Audio Ads

Thursday Tea – Introducing Fleets, Instagram Anger and Youtube Audio Ads

Twitter Introduces new ‘Fleet’s feature

This week Twitter surprised everyone be announcing the global launch of ‘Fleets’. At its most basic level, Fleets is a Stories clone, borrowing all of the best ideas implemented by Instagram and Snapchat. You can share text, respond to others’ tweets, or post videos with the same background color and overlaid text options you get on other messaging apps with ephemeral features, with every message disappearing after 24 hours. You can also respond to others’ fleets by tapping on one and sending a direct message or emoji to the creator, which will start a DM conversation similar to how the story reply process works on Instagram. Twitter says it will also be introducing stickers and live broadcasting at some point in the future.

Any mobile Twitter user, regardless of where they live or what platform they’re on, will have access to the disappearing messaging feature, which will sit right at the top of the timeline in a row of Stories-like bubbles.

Twitter have said that they hope the new feature will help reduce the pressure around tweeting by letting users express more casual thoughts and feelings while also concerning themselves less with saying something profound or racking up likes and retweets. Fleets starts rolling out today on Android and iOS and should be available for everyone in the coming days, the company says.

Instagram Redesign Sparks Anger

Instagram users are around the world after the app rolled out a major redesign across the globe last week. The update changed the home screen for the first time in years, adding new tabs for shopping and Instagram’s TikTok-style video feature, Reels.

But despite the alteration representing a relatively minor adjustment to the photo-sharing app’s layout, fans are not happy. Users complained to social media over the weekend to blast the update, which they described as “ugly” and” annoying”.

Instagram boss Adam Mosseri announced the major redesign in a blog post on the firm‘s website last week. In it, he explained the new Shop and Reels tabs give users faster access to two of Instagram‘s more recent features. “We don’t take these changes lightly – we haven’t updated Instagram’s home screen in a big way for quite a while,” Mr Mosseri wrote. “But how people create and enjoy culture has changed, and the biggest risk to Instagram is not that we change too fast, but that we don’t change and become irrelevant.”

He added: “We’re excited about the new design and believe it gives the app a much-needed refresh, while staying true to our core value of simplicity.”

Time will tell if the backlash surrounding these changes dies down and people start to welcome the redesign!

YouTube Trials Audio Ads

It seems YouTube wants a slice of Spotify‘s metaphorical pie: the company has announced its introducing audio-only ads on its platform.

In a blog post, product manager Melissa Hsieh Nikolic said the feature, which is still in beta, was “designed to connect your brand with audiences in engaged and ambient listening on YouTube.”

Audio ads are creatively led by the voiceover or other sounds that feature in a YouTube ad, and the visual component is typically a still image or simple animation.

Similar to video ads, audio ads are bought via auction with Google Ads and Display & Video 360 on a cost-per-thousand basis. YouTube said they will feature the same audience-targeting options, bidding strategies, and brand lift measurement capabilities.

YouTube expects the moves to boost ad revenue it generates from music on the platform, which includes over 70 million official tracks plus remixes, live performances, covers and other music content. And it stands to put YouTube in more head-to-head competition with Spotify, which has been selling audio-only ads and offering targeting by music genres for years.

Lyor Cohen, global head of music at YouTube, said that the Covid-19 pandemic had “fundamentally changed the music industry forever” due to music concerts being cancelled, which encouraged people to consume more music on online platforms.

Successful Storytelling for Effective PR

Successful Storytelling for Effective PR

We all consider ourselves storytellers from time to time, especially when it comes to talking about things, we are passionate about! But how can we tell a good story to drive positive PR?

Now more than ever, digital storytelling is at the top of the list of communication trends, that will be at the fore for some time.  So, whether you want to tell the story of your brand, client success, employee spotlight or public recognition, you can create long lasting stories that prove to your audience your company or services matters.

It is our job to ensure that our client’s messaging is well communicated. The thrill of a good story can provoke excitement and engagement. Getting the attention of your audience cuts through the noise and gets your message heard. Therefore, it is up to us as the experts to create stories that are powerful, to gain impact and capture audiences.

Here are a few of our tops tips to getting your story right:

  1. Get Personal

In storytelling, the most powerful vehicle that you can use is personalisation. Using personal stories amplifies the message you are trying to convey. When ideas are attached to people as opposed to concepts, there is a greater chance of creating an emotional connection. Also, you can draw your audience into your brand narrative as this will make your content relatable.

  1. Visualise

Videos, pictures and animations are all visual tools that can give you the edge when engaging with customers. Catch your audiences’ eye and use this to communicate with them.

  1. Like, Share, Like and Share

Use platforms that allow for easy sharing. In our digital age, using social media allows for easier sharing than placing your story on traditional methods such as in a newspaper or billboard. These methods do have a time and place but if you do choose more traditional forms of advertising, create call to actions to inspire people to share the message.

  1. Be Authentic

Consumers have become savvier and are able to spot brands that are not being genuine and authentic. When a story is honest, it is believable and easier to connect with. You can’t copy a great story!

If you have a great story to tell about your business, services or products, get in touch and we can help bring your story to life!



Nothing says cosy night-in like a perfectly indulgent platter of cheeses shared with loved ones. The Cheese Club is the newest home delivery package to be released on the HOME-X e-commerce website, featuring five hand-picked cheeses, crackers, chutney & a half-bottle of Port.

Whether a cheese lover who knows their Gruyere from their Brie, or someone developing a newfound taste for cheese, The Cheese Club provides the perfect experience to immerse consumers into the world of cheese and its embellishments, and to leave them wanting more.

The Cheese Club experience combines a range of five finely selected artisan cheeses – a total of 1kg in cheese – accompanied with a half bottle of port, biscuits, crackers and handmade chutney, all selected to perfectly compliment the cheeses.

The experience makes the ideal gift for special occasions, and with Christmas around the corner can be ordered in advance to be shipped on a particular day, anywhere in the United Kingdom.

The HOME-X team, alongside some the best cheesemongers in the UK, have carefully curated an at-home cheese box that delivers some the most luxurious cheeses from across the world. From earthy, aromatic soft cheeses, to sweet and nutty flavours, diners are able to experience the finest quality produce, with a new selection of cheeses each month.

The experience will launch this week on the innovative e-commerce platform, HOME-X, which brings restaurant quality food and drink experiences to homes across the UK. Each cheese club experience contains 1kg of cheese, a half bottle of port plus biscuit pairings, and homemade chutneys, suitable for two people and priced at £50 including delivery across the UK.

The first Cheese Club contains: Tunworth Camembert, Hampshire; ValenÇay Fermier, France, Goats Cheese;  Prima Donna Maturo, Netherlands, Gouda; Cashel Blue, Ireland; St Andrew’s Farmhouse Cheddar, Scotland; Krohn Lagrima White Port, Portugal; Spiced Pear Chutney; Oatcakes by Wooleys of Aaron; Water Biscuits by Stag Bakeries.

Building direct relationships with cheese producers HOME-X, Operations Manager John Burns is pioneering The Cheese Club experience. He has grown to know more about cheese and how it can be perfectly combined with special flavours and pairings, having been a chef at Six by Nico restaurants.

John Burns said, “I’ve always had a passion for cheese and for me it’s the perfect accompaniment for a night in with family and friends. We want people to experience luxury cheese and port from new places, allowing them to try something new that we know works together. Our immersive guide allows you to expand your knowledge, getting to know and identifying new flavours and textures.”

Each experience will be carefully pre-prepared and packaged at a new warehouse in Glasgow, in beautifully branded boxes, and kitted out in the very latest food shipping storage technology. Each HOME-X box will be 99% recyclable, with each Cheese Club kit portioned in individual cardboard containers filled with all the elements needed to indulge in your experience.

The Cheese Club experience is priced at £50 and includes delivery across the UK. Delivery will be available from December 2nd – December 24th. The inaugural Cheese Club experience is available to buy now from HOME-X – the newly launched online food and drink experience platform.

More information can be found here



Now more than ever, businesses need to stop doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. As a business owner, do you know what you want out of your enterprise and how you are going to achieve it? Michelle Lestas’s new book ‘In Business With Yourself’ has been developed to help business leaders navigate through these challenging times and develop an approach for business that works.

It has been created with Michelle’s wealth of experience, knowledge and observations gathered over 25 years, having worked with international business leaders as well as running her own businesses. A serial entrepreneur, the fundamentals of the book are based on Michelle’s identity-led business growth, which is a truly innovative theme that runs throughout the book.

Speaking ahead of the book launch, Michelle said: “I provide an unfiltered insight into some of the highs and lows of leading in business and why when business owners understand business identity, they are equipped to deal with the successes and challenges ahead. The pandemic is forcing all of us to react quickly in an ever-changing landscape. I use case studies and many tips to encourage businesses to make positive changes to support business growth. I’m all about maximising efforts for the biggest gains.”

Moving through the tides of running businesses, Michelle has developed a direct and practical approach to leadership. The book is a compelling read for any business owner, self-starter or entrepreneur and it is available for pre-order at



LoyalBe, an innovative digital loyalty provider, has formed a strategic partnership with Visa, the global frontrunner in digital payments. The aim of this strategic partnership is to bring LoyalBe’s frictionless loyalty solution to the Irish market, enabling SMEs to compete on a level playing field with larger corporate retailers and allowing Visa to support small businesses in new ways.

LoyalBe’s clever digital loyalty solution utilises Open Banking technology to make the process of rewarding loyalty seamless. The LoyalBe app displaces traditional paper loyalty cards, instead offering a single smartphone application that relocates the power of ‘loyalty’ in the hands of shoppers and independent hospitality and retailers alike.

Cormac Quinn, CEO and Founder of LoyalBe, believes that this original application of Open Banking technology will be of even greater value to small, independent retailers as we emerge from this period of uncertainty:

“Our loyalBe app works by connecting directly to the customer’s bank card to reward purchases, thereby giving retailers the ability to understand their customers better and offer them a more personalised shopping experience. By using Open Banking technology, we make the process of rewarding loyalty seamless. Given its frictionless nature, we don’t require any equipment or software at till points and customers don’t need to change their behaviour. They simply just pay by card as usual.

“This new partnership with Visa will empower SMEs to compete on a level playing field with big retailers, through our digital loyalty solution. Loyalty is proven to drive increased sales but, for a long time, it was only the larger, corporate retailers who had access to data and analytics that gave them an advantage. From the beginning, our mission at LoyalBe has been to democratise loyalty and give smaller retailers access to invaluable data which can be used to stimulate customer engagement.

“People have seen how the smaller, independent retailers have been affected by the pandemic and now, more than ever, people are keen to champion local businesses. In this climate, tools such as LoyalBe are even more valuable in getting people back through the door and, most importantly, ensuring that they continue to come back.”

As businesses become more comfortable accepting contactless and mobile payments, now is a good time to explore growth opportunities through building customer loyalty digitally.

More details about LoyalBe and how businesses can build a loyalty programme with ease can be found here.

Thursday Tea….What is new in the world of social?

Thursday Tea….What is new in the world of social?


Instagram only launched its TikTok competitor ‘Reels’ in August and is already looking to monetise the format. It also announced it is testing shopping within Reels later this year and will start making shoppable IGTV videos globally. Eventually, these IGTV videos will also be available through Instagram Shop, a dedicated page for shopping within the app.


Facebook’s dating service has launched in the UK and across Europe as a dedicated space to find relationships on the social network.

The social media giant hopes to emulate the success of apps such as Tinder, Hinge and Bumble, which have millions of users across their platforms.


Microsoft-owned LinkedIn has gone for a brand new look and feel in nearly five years, powering its 700 million-strong community with Snapchat-like Stories, video integration with Zoom, BlueJeans and Teams, rebuilding Search feature and more.

LinkedIn users will be able to start a face-to-face interaction to share career advice, chat about potential job opportunities or catch up in virtual group get-together via online meeting tools.

LinkedIn is also rolling out its own version of Stories.


Facebook has decided to tweak its colour scheme for Messenger, ditching the traditional blue-and-white look for an Instagram-esque gradient of blue, purple, pink and orange.

Messenger has created an all-new way of helping people express themselves better on chat! There are multiple custom reactions and message effects that are available to make chatting more fun. Not just that, new features like selfie stickers and vanish mode are coming soon too.


Over the summer, Snapchat announced it would soon debut a feature to rival TikTok. Now, sounds on Snapchat has launched on iOS, bringing music to the platform. Snapchat’s release offers a curated catalogue of emerging and established artists for users to feature. Music can be added to Snaps either in pre or post-capture. There are no limitations on where the music can be shared, either. The clip can be shared to your Snapchat Story or directly to friends – the choice is yours.



Hungry for a true taste of Thailand? A new at home experience from the team at Six by Nico restaurants launches with nationwide delivery this month, and the first four-course menu is all based around the city of Bangkok.

The Thai street food menu, created by the team behind Six by Nico restaurants, will transport customers straight into the bustling heart of Bangkok’s colorful street stalls and markets – from creamy curries and spicy stir fries, to classic dishes that combine the hot, sour, sweet and salty flavours of Thai cuisine.

The experience will launch on the new e-commerce platform, HOME-X, which brings restaurant quality food and drink experiences to homes across the UK.

‘Bangkok’, inspired by the famed food stalls of Thailand, will be the first menu to launch on the new platform, allowing home cooks around the UK to recreate the Six by Nico experience at home.

Thai people see street food as a proud element of their culture and Bangkok’s world-famous street food scene offers an incredible variety of spicy, savory, and sweet treats cooked street side with recipes passed down for generations.

The four-course home experience includes: a starter of hot and sour Tom Yum Soup; Prawn Dumplings; a main course of Panang Red Curry – slow roasted chicken, sweet potato, baby corn & pak choi with roasted peanut, crispy shallot and thai herbs served with sides of jasmine rice, lemongrass, lime leaf, green chilli & coriander; crispy Pork Pad Thai, prik nam pla dressing, mooli and rice noodle. Bangkok’s cheese course serves up Landana 500 – pineapple and nigella chutney and water crackers and finally for dessert home chefs will enjoy a Cardamom and Toasted Coconut Rice Pudding, salted bean curd caramel & exotic fruit compote.

The Bangkok home experience will also offer a vegetarian menu alternative with a starter of hot and sour Tom Yum soup, Shitake and Kuzu Dumplings; a main course of Panang Red Curry, charred cauliflower, sweet potato, baby corn and pak choi with roasted peanut, crispy shallot and thai herbs with sides of jasmine rice, lemongrass, lime leaf, green chilli and coriander; crispy Taro Pad Thai, tamarind, soy and chilli dressing, mooli and rice noodle. Bangkok’s vegetarian cheese course serves up Landana 500 – pineapple and nigella chutney and water crackers and for dessert a Cardamom and Toasted Coconut Rice Pudding, salted bean curd caramel & exotic fruit compote.

Bangkok’s home experience menu will be accompanied with a bottle of Cave de L’Ormarine, Ville Marin Blanc.

Chef Nico Simeone launches Home by Nico with nationwide delivery 

‘Home by Nico’ and ‘Six by Nico’ Head Chef Nico Simeone said: “Food plays a big part in Thai Culture and can vary from region to region. From the sticky rice and soups favoured in the North, to the liberal use of spices and herbs in the South, each course on our Bangkok ‘Home by Nico’ menu is bound to get your tastebuds a-tingling.”

Home by Nico is available nationwide for the first time ever. The dine at home experience follows a similar format to the Six by Nico restaurants – with an ever changing four course tasting menu, themed around memories or places.

Home by Nico provides two people with a ready-made culinary experience that simply needs to be assembled and finished at home for the delight of dining at home. Each two person menu with wine is priced at £60 including delivery across the UK and available to buy from HOME-X – the newly launched online food and drink experience platform.

Each experience will be carefully pre-prepared and packaged at a new warehouse in Glasgow, in beautifully branded boxes, and kitted out in the very latest food shipping storage technology. Each HOME-X box will be 99% recyclable, with each kit portioned in individual cardboard containers filled with  all the elements needed to create each meal.

Home by Nico ‘Cooking Bangkok’ is available to pre – order now, exclusively from HOME-X. First available delivery date is Wednesday 18th November with orders available until 31st December 2020. Home by Nico experiences can be ordered up to 12 months in advance, however the ever-changing monthly themed menus will be announced at the beginning of every month on the HOME-X platform.

Visit the website to order;

CPD – What’s the point and will I learn anything new?

CPD – What’s the point and will I learn anything new?

Following her success at achieving Chartered PR Practitioner Status, Client Manager, Sara talks about the importance of Continuous Personal Development.

I have always enjoyed learning new things both inside and outside of work. When I can, I like reading, listening to audio books and my current favourite form of learning is…podcasts!

So how can I use these tools to improve my CPD and is there any point?

Yes, of course there is! With the changing pace of Public Relations and the ever-evolving digital communications sphere, I haven’t even scratched the surface.

CPD is a great way to manage professional development, demonstrating commitment to your sector and keeping up to date learning new skills. It’s all about improving, gaining knowledge, ensuring you remain current and effective. There is something very satisfying about being abreast of the latest trends and techniques. Not only is this of huge benefit personally, but clients gain from this too.

I am currently enrolled and due to complete the Digital Marketing Institute’s Certified Digital Marketing Professional programme. My skills and experience have always been rooted in traditional PR with a background in broadcast journalism; so now more than ever I need to get digital. This is not just for me to gain new skills but to gain the profession aptitudes to advise our clients on the latest advancements and improvements in digital communications.

The pandemic has proved that digital communications is more powerful than ever. We have all had to adapt and change how we do things, least of all communications.

Stephen Hawking famously said: “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.”  Now more than ever is a time to learn, regroup, adapt and make change.

As a team, we are encouraged to gain as much CPD as we can. This comes from the top down, and to know what we have the support to learn alongside our day job is of huge benefit.

The CIPR is the only organisation with a Royal Charter enabling us as professionals to gain Chartered PR Practitioner status. The reason why it was important to me to achieve this was for recognition and confidence; not only for myself but for my clients too. As the CIPR say, “there is a huge difference between a dedicated professional who has made a commitment to a career in Public Relations and someone offering a similar service who lacks skill, knowledge, experience and ethical competence.”  I couldn’t have said it better myself!

I am now proud to be one of the 21 professionals in Northern Ireland to be Chartered, joining my boss Samantha and 379 others across the UK.

Feeling inspired? Here are a few of our favourite sites to help us push our knowledge to the next level:

Have you lost your communications mojo during lockdown?

Have you lost your communications mojo during lockdown?

Here we go again! Like most businesses, we were gutted to hear about the latest four-week lockdown in Northern Ireland. As a local business, we had just got our mojo back, with green shoots of growth emerging. Therefore, it is hard not to see this as a backwards step.

Our industry has taken a hit; clients suspended accounts; new business opportunities slowed down and launches and events were cancelled. But we are not alone! Countless strong, viable businesses have been tested to the max when in comes to securing work, retaining staff and innovating to move forward. But one fundamental remains the same – communication is key.

Now more than ever, we recognise the importance of strategic communications as brands and clients seek to differentiate, relate to audiences and demonstrate how too are adjust to the ‘new normal’.

As an agency, we are revising our own communications strategy and choosing wisely how best to promote ourselves and our services during this crazy time. Like many of our clients, we are making tough, yet worthwhile decisions of where to focus our reduced budgets and what the best platforms for us are to utilise now and as we emerge once again from this circuit breaker.

One thing is for sure, now more than ever, taking your business digital could unlock your recovery. Digital and social media marketing require much less budget than traditional offline marketing channels.

That’s not to say online marketing is cheap; it takes experience and skill to do digital well.

But they’re more cost-effective, measurable and flexible.

Companies who previously had no social media presence are now selling through Facebook and Instagram.

At Rumour Mill, we are also working hard behind the scenes on our own digital vision and continuing to create content that will maximise our exposure, get our name out there, and showcase our services beyond Northern Ireland. We want to do the same for businesses that need support navigating this area.

How to get your mojo back? Be one of those businesses that adapt, spot opportunities and connect with new customers.

As businesses adapt, we are here to secure your market position and restart growth. We will talk straight and be clear on strategy. Together we will review where you are, discuss where you want to get to and plan how to get you there.

Things will never be the same again. So why not reach out, let’s have a FREE virtual chat to help get your communications mojo back. Email us on or call 028 90682185.




It may be hard to fathom but Instagram celebrated its 10th birthday this week!

In the last 10 years a hell of a lot has happened on the app. An egg got more likes than Kylie Jenner, Jennifer Anniston broke the internet with her Friends selfie, and it continues to the birthplace of countless influencers.

It is almost impossible to imagine a world without Instagram!

To mark this milestone, here at Rumour Mill we have compiled a list of 10 facts you may or may not know about one of the world’s most popular apps.

  1. The first person who posted a photo on Instagram was Kevin Systrom (born in December 30, 1983). The Co-founder of Instagram posted a photo with a stray dog in Mexico on July 16, 2010 with description “test” and this photo still exists on his profile:


  1. Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion in 2012. At that time, Instagram had just 13 employees. Now Instagram is valued well over $100 billion and is about one-fifth of Facebook’s market cap.


  1. As of October 5, 2020, the most-liked photo on Instagram is a picture of an egg, posted by the account @world_record_egg. It was created to beat the previous record of a Kylie Jenner post. The picture currently has over 54 million likes.


  1. In the three years since its launch, Stories has become a huge part of what makes Instagram so popular. With half a billion people using Stories every single day, it’s clear that Stories are an important channel for brands.


  1. Instagram users will spend an average of 28 minutes per day on the platform in 2020. In comparison, time spent on Facebook is slightly decreasing. Instagram saw more time spent per day than Snapchat for the first time in 2019.


  1. Selena Gomez was the first person in the world to reach 100 million followers. This has since increased to 194million. If she were a country and her followers were that country’s population, it would be the 12th most populous country in the world. One of her most popular pictures ever was for Coca Cola.


  1. The top ten most popular hashtags in general are: #love #instagood #photooftheday #tbt #beautiful #cute #me #selfie #tagforlikes #happy #followme. Photos that utilise hashtags get 38% more engagement than those who upload without using hashtags.


  1. How-to tutorials are the most popular form of Instagram video content. Followed by behind-the-scenes posts, interviews, and news coverage. Buzzfeed’s Tasty videos may be the best-known example of how-to videos on Instagram.


  1. The most popular face filter on Insta Stories are the puppy ears. This is followed by the sleep mask, bunny ears, love with the heart-shaped darts, and koala ears. Seems like we all want to look like animals on our stories…


  1. If you thought that Instagram advertising only appeared in the last couple of years, here is an interesting fact! Advertising was introduced in October 2013 but only for select brands! In 2015 it became accessible for all users. Engagement on Instagram is 10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest, and 84 times higher than Twitter.


Happy Birthday Instagram…where will we all be in 2030!


Bonus fact: Instagram embraced its potential as a news source this year, employing its ubiquity to distribute coronavirus prevention techniques through a new call-out at the top of its home screen feed. In some countries, Instagram displayed a link to information from the World Health Organisation and local health ministries, along with a message like this: “Help Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus: See the latest information from the World Health Organization so you can help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Instagram also prevented users from searching for COVID-19-related augmented reality effects unless they were made in partnership with legitimate health organisations. This helped limit the spread of disinformation or insensitive jokes about the virus.