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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.



Liar, Liar, pants on fire….is how the saying goes! But you don’t want anyone saying that about you or your business…do you?


In a media era were #fakenews is always in the spotlight it is so important that you keep your brand on an ethnical path and avoid the temptation to manipulate the narrative. Be brave and stay open, transparent and honest in your communications to protect your reputation.

The public aren’t fools; they are savvier than ever when to comes to spotting fake news or identifying misleading communications. We are in an era of transparency; the public will be the first to call out a brand that is lying. If you are caught being generous with the truth be prepared to lose more than money in trying to limit the damage. 

Words May Lie, But Action Tells The Truth

But telling the truth is a given. Right? No! Sadly, brands think it is ok to bend the truth, to influence reality and paint a different picture to that being actioned. Yet, in the words of Mr. Weasley in Harry Potter “the truth will out”.

Never has trust been more sought after. If your audience don’t trust you, they won’t buy from you or buy into you. So, focus on building that trust, and be honest as well as innovative in your marketing and communications efforts.

For instance, if we take the current communications from world leaders around the best approach to Covid-19, the majority of people do not trust what they are being told. Why? The damage has been done. Leaders are rarely forthcoming with transparent information – allowing doubt and mistrust to grow.

Honesty must be built into corporate culture. This takes more than the publication of a list of corporate values. Leaders must behave honestly and openly at all times. Walking the talk is essential.

Positive reviews and feedback is great but you cannot afford to ignore even a single negative review. Proactive action and strategic planning is much better than damage control, knee-jerk reactions and tactical approaches.

Remember to sell honestly, never sell your honesty.



Public relations and digital content agency, Rumour Mill Creative Communications was named Small Consultancy of the Year at this year’s PRCA DARE Awards, along with taking home a further two awards for its campaign work.

These industry accolades recognise communications excellence within each of the key regions of the UK from practitioners working in both consultancy and in-house environments across Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. During the virtual awards event, it was revealed that Rumour Mill achieved three wins; Consumer Relations Award; Digital & Social Media Campaign of the Year and the prestigious Small Consultancy of the Year. The two campaign wins were awarded for the agency’s impactful work launching the app Gander into the Northern Ireland market.

Director of Rumour Mill Creative Communications Samantha Livingstone said: “I am so proud of what we have achieved, and the announcement has come during a time of great uncertainty for our industry, so this is a real boost. We are living in a digital first world and everyone wants to stand out. That is why we love to create whacky, innovative campaigns to engage audiences and generate talkability. We build trust with our clients and they see instant results. What it affirms for me is that as a team we provide bold, inventive campaigns and we will continue to set new standards for digital communications.

“I am particularly proud that Rumour Mill is Small Consultancy of the Year, which is testament to our amazing team and their hard work and dedication. We are looking ahead to some very exciting client projects coming up over the next few months as well as the launch of something we have been working hard on during lockdown so keep your eyes peeled!”

Rumour Mill has also been shortlisted for a number of additional industry awards,  for its work on Gander, that are yet to announce its winners: UK Agency Awards, PR Week Awards and Belfast Telegraph Business Awards.

Rumour Mill Creative Communications is always keen to work with like-minded people who want to get their product or services noticed, whether that be to enhance their communications digitally, or traditionally. To have a chat with a member of the team, get in touch via



Our client executive, Amy gives her advice on how PR students can beat the boredom and stay focused during this lockdown.

“As a recent PR & Comms graduate and a current Client Executive, you are trained to handle whatever the world throws at you. Right?!

“However, at unforeseen times like now, being proactive and motivated can be tough – but these are key skills of any PR practitioner. As we’re part of an ever-changing industry, there’s luckily plenty going on to keep on top off and ahead of the curve (plus, most importantly, shake our boredom!).

“Despite universities being closed and at-home work commencing, it’s so important not to lose momentum on what keeps your brain ticking and your creativity flourishing. Whether you’re a student, a graduate or a practitioner – if you’re in PR, you should always find yourself boosting your education on the latest trends and tactics, as well as advancing your skills in these for the future.

“Textbooks may seem like a heavy load to start off with – so keep up-to-date with what’s going on by subscribing to useful online trade magazines including PR Week, Marketing Week and The Drum. Their articles are punchy, succinct and a much easier way to digest news updates from a relevant PR perspective.

“There are also the obvious platforms we all resort to when boredom strikes: Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat – and now TikTok.

“Why not take the extra time you have to understand these existing and new social platforms better? That way, you can apply this when normal life resumes, either for creative uni assignments or idea suggestions for clients. For example, this short yet interesting article by PR Daily explores TikTok’s background, statistics and projected staying power in the world of PR.

“LinkedIn Learning offers a free trial month and is worth delving into if you want to enhance your knowledge on Google Ads, Google Analytics, writing ad copy and understanding SEO to name just a few. By completing these short courses, you will be ahead of the game as well as be able to pop these on your CV!

“Or, if you’re looking for something to do that’s interactive and allows you to unleash your creativity, why not try starting up your own blog? If you want to kick-start a career in PR, there’s nothing better than having your own personal portfolio to impress prospective employers with. You heard it here first!”

It will get better, and it will soon – just remember to look after yourself, keep busy and #stayhomesavelives. 

If you are a PR student looking a placement in September or any industry advice please get in touch via At Rumour Mill we are keen to support and develop the next generators or communicators and content creators.



In February 2020, Tik Tok reached a whopping 1.5 billion downloads globally. There were 615 million new users who downloaded the app from the App Store and Google Play store in the past 12 months, an increase of 6% from the previous year. But why is it so successful?

Tik Tok is a hugely popular video-sharing social-platform owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based company founded in 2012. Content creators take existing formats, such as jokes, memes and songs, and reinterpret them in their own way. A song is lip-synced by hundreds of creators, each adding their own twist to it. The content shared via TikTok can be described as mostly frivolous, but users don’t care. They have fun creating it and don’t seem bothered by public scrutiny.

Unlike Instagram, TikTok isn’t about you or what you’re doing. It’s about entertaining your audience. It’s not spontaneous chronicling of your real life. It’s about inventing characters, dressing up as someone else and acting out jokes. It’s not about privacy and friends but strutting on the world stage. And it’s not about originality — the heart of Instagram. TikTok is about remixing culture — taking the audio from someone else’s clip and reimagining the gag in a new context by layering it on top a video you record.

Should Instagram be worried? TikTok is unlikely to replace Instagram, but it could become a good alternative source of entertainment for users. Most users won’t abandon Instagram for TikTok, but the amount of time they spend on Facebook’s photo-sharing app could decline. TikTok is almost the opposite or a deliberate parody of what’s on Instagram; its users seemingly go out of their way to denounce the latter platform’s aesthetics, high-profile production values and originality. If anything, the majority of TikTok creators embrace the silliness to the fullest, and in that lies its biggest strength: setting the entry bar very low. TikTok enables anyone to jump in quickly and create content, without the work that goes into polished production.

TikTok has a relatively younger user base than Instagram. Nearly half of its users are teenagers, and more than 65% users are under 25 years old. The app is equally popular among male and female users. However, a large number of millennials and boomers install the app out of curiosity and end up ditching it after a while. It is fun to scroll through these videos for a half-hour every now and then, but it eventually becomes repetitive and loses its stickiness after a while.

While both Instagram and Facebook are pretty ad-heavy, TikTok isn’t (not yet at least). They started showing short ads in January 2019, and they now have an advertising system, but it isn’t driving people away from their platform yet. TikTok generates revenue through in-app purchases such as digital gifts and emojis. But it’s also ramping up its advertising business, showing you portrait-mode video ads. Unlike Instagram, TikTok has access to both the Chinese and international markets for advertising means. Facebook’s apps don’t have access to 1.4 billion people in China.

Teenagers are gaga for TikTok. And with the advertising floodgates wide open, brands are too. Chipotle, Nike, Skittles, Fenty Beauty, Pepsi, and Universal Pictures are among the many companies that have already been lured by TikTok’s warp speed success.

So, is it time for your company to start TikTok marketing? The team at Rumour Mill has had a play around with the app and we are all unanimously sold. The platform acts an endless feed of short entertainment bursts which are light-hearted, warm and often funny. This is a welcome alternative to the perfectly polished aesthetics of the gram. We especially love the ability for everyone to get involved in Tik Tok. The app actively encourages people of all ages to try the latest dance trend or lip sync their favourite comedy skit. We can certainly see how it would fit in the marketing mix in the near future. Restaurant clients making quick fire food videos, fashion brands doing sassy runway shows and much more. It is essentially Instagram Stories on steroids, and we are here for it!

Tik Tok grew by over 400 per cent between 2017 and 2018 and is now a mainstream app. The question is, will this explosion continue? Or, are we approaching the ceiling whereby user growth will flatten a la Snapchat and Twitter? Time will certainly tell.

Give it a go this Easter Weekend or follow our Rumour Mill Social Media Guru Ciaran for a few giggles: @ciaranmullan04. Once we get past Covid-19 and we are all together – Rumour Mill TikTok will be born to entertain you all.



Are you new to this whole working from home thing? Us too! Companies around the world are adapting to mandatory remote working, including us. We are having to adapt to a new environment, primarily our living rooms and kitchens; spots in our homes that may not usually lend themselves to productivity.

Whilst we are missing each other and the daily banter – plus the tea making rota; there are ways to keep positive and avoid going stir-crazy. Over the past few weeks, we have been adapting, and figuring out what works for us individually, from setting up a good workspace, to the way we keep in touch as a team. Here are a few of our top tips.

Communication is key: At the start of each working week, we always have a client catch up. Then each day, a mini task focused chat to establish what our day will look like. In the office, communication is easy and effortless. Rather than doing this face to face, we now have a team Skype call every day, at the same time. This helps encourage a routine and we can each establish what tasks we have planned for that day and plot out the rest of the week. We also have our team WhatsApp group chat and when we aren’t sending each other memes, we can send quick voice memos to check something that doesn’t merit a phone call.

Rather than client meetings, we are arranging Skype or Zoom meetings, which are great for those clients who are used to seeing you in person. If all else fails, a good old phone call does the trick.

These are uncertain times for us all, so we continue to check in with our clients, via phone calls and emails, reassuring them we are here to help. At the end of each day, we send a task update to the team via email. It only takes a few minutes to do this and it is a simple way for us to check on where we can support each other to complete tasks if needed.

Create a workplace setting: We are all so used to the same routine, getting up, going to work, getting to the office and setting up at our desk. Most of us who don’t work remotely are unlikely to have an office space at home, so we have had to create one. OK, confess, who has joined their team conference call in their pjs? Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should! Get up, take a shower and get dressed, treat your day like you are at work.

If possible, change your setting. If you can work in your living room one day, try the kitchen the next. If the sun is out, like we have been lucky to have the past few days, bring your work outside for some much-needed vitamin D! A change of scenery can really boost your mood!

If you are working from home and you live with other people in your house, set some boundaries to minimise distraction. Agree tea breaks and your lunch time so you can have a break together and you can work towards enjoying a break in your day.

Positive vibes only: Now is a great time to dust off the pom poms and be one another’s cheerleaders. We are all in a rather stressful and unknown territory right now and keeping morale high can be hard. Keep in touch with your colleagues throughout the day. You can’t see them, so a message to check how they are will make them feel less isolated and reassure them that you are all in this together.

Keep in touch with your family and friends. There are so many great platforms out there now, that are making it really easy to communicate. We are loving WhatsApp, Zoom, TikTok and House Party.

Ensure that you are getting your daily exercise and if you can get out for fresh air, even better. But reminder to stick to the government guidance. Exercise has been widely proven to help reduce anxiety, depression, and negative moods by improving self-esteem and cognitive function. Yes please!

There are lots of celebrities supporting online right now with this. Facebook lives and IGTV free workouts we are loving right now are Joe Wicks, Alexandra Cane, Tyson Fury and Rio & Kate Ferdinand.

Stay in touch, stay at home and stay safe. #StayHomeSaveLives



Quarantine can be a bit of a slog – there’s only so many thrills you can get from going on your 100th trip to the fridge, or aimlessly scrolling through Instagram looking at people’s throwback pictures of previous holidays.

Believe it or not, this important period of isolation has proven to bring people together in ways they never would have – with innovative socialising apps being downloaded by the second, creating new cultures on how we’re making the most of our time.

From games to quizzes, group chatrooms to viral videos for the purposes of leisure or work – the possibilities are truly endless. Living in a digital age isn’t all bad in times like these!

Here’s a couple of Rumour Mill’s top favourites during this lockdown:


After becoming iOS Store’s most downloaded free app in the UK this month, Houseparty really is everywhere! It is basically a virtual version of a massive get-together. If your friends are ‘in the house’, you can chat with them one-to-one – or you can gather a group in a room to talk or play games, either locking that room’s door or leaving it open for new people to walk in and join you. Its great for changing things up when you’re feeling particularly bored and offers more entertaining elements than your typical Skype or FaceTime.


TikTok is now firmly embedded in our everyday lives now. The video-sharing app is used to create short-form dance, lip-sync, comedy and talent videos – showcasing a lot of ridiculous yet addictive content. It’s ability to spark viral-worthy videos is unparalleled compared to any other app, with fresh content constantly evolving each day the more users put their own spin on what’s trending. You can read more about our thoughts on TikTok later this month and see the author himself, Ciaran Mullan, master the fine art of the app @ciaranmullan4.

Netflix Party

We all know there’s no greater betrayal than when someone swears, they won’t watch a Netflix show without you, and then watches a sneaky episode when in quarantine. If, like any of us, you daren’t break the Netflix bond with your friend or partner – this is the perfect way to keep that promise and tradition rolling. Netflix Party is a Google Chrome extension that lets you watch movies and shows remotely, with synchronised video playback and an added group chat – making it a real-time experience for you and your fellow viewer, as well as making long distance that little bit easier.

Our top Netflix picks at the moment are Tiger King, Lost Girls, RuPaul’s Drag Race and The Stranger.


It would be wrong of us not to mention Gander. The world-first app we helped launch last year, that tells you in real-time about reduced yellow-labelled items in your local SPAR, EUROSPAR, ViVO and ViVOXtra store.

When buying food responsibly has never been more important, Gander can help you protect your savings and reduce any food waste. Now more than ever it is important to avoid the perils of stock piling and buying for the sake of it. We have all seen images emerging of the amount of foods going to waste, as a result of the recent panic buying pandemic. Be smart, use Gander to find reduced food in your local store, manage your food budget, freeze and prep; then enjoy your food in the knowledge you have done your bit to protect the environment. Remember yellow-labelled food is just reduced in price and not in quality.

What apps have been getting you through this quarantine? Let us know! Remember to adhere to government guidelines, keep each other safe and #stayathome.




Boredom struck? Feel yourself going crazier each day? Fear not, as the Rumour Mill team is here with the next instalment of its ‘Rumour Has It’ podcast. Recorded remotely due to Covid-19 (so excuse the reduced quality) we chat through what is keeping us entertained and, most importantly sane, during this unprecedented time.

Listen here:

Week #1 of working from home has its ups, and certainly its downs (our raid on the biscuit tin is intense!). But while we adjust to this strange time we are currently calling ‘normality’, our work WhatsApp chat has not slowed down once, as we check-in on each other, get the latest client updates, plus bizz about what we’re doing to keep ourselves sane away from the emails.


The perfect (and at the moment, very necessary) escapism from reality – there really is nothing like good book to get stuck into. Our top favs at the moment are:

  1. Good Friday by Lynda La Plante

A gripping crime fiction that tells the story of newly graduated detective Jane Tennison in 1975, after an IRA bomb hits London.

  1. Good to Great by Jim Collins

An insightful management book that describes how companies transition from being good to great, and how most companies fail to make the transition – perfect for times like now when we all need a little motivation!

  1. Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton

For the romcom lovers out there! This award-winning journalist gives an unflinching account of the bad dates, the heartaches, humiliations, and most importantly, the unbreakable female friendships that helped her get through it all.


Where would the world be right now without Netflix and Disney+? The team have well and truly been delving into what’s on offer across both streaming sites, with some of our top suggestions being:

  1. Lost Girls on Netflix

A dark drama about a desperate woman determined to find her missing daughter, who launches a personal investigation that leads police to the unsolved cases of murdered sex workers.

  1. The End of the F***ing World on Netflix

A strangely apt series for this time – this show sees two 17-year-old outsiders embark on a road trip to escape life as they know it. Together, they get caught up on a trail of violent events that grow increasingly more ominous as their quest progresses.

  1. Coco on Disney+

A highly-acclaimed movie that follows aspiring musician Miguel, who despite his family’s ancestral ban on music, enters the Land of the Dead to find his great-great-grandfather, a legendary singer.


The best way to get your head in the zone. We’ve been listening flat out to BBC Radio 2 and Radio 1 – they’re perfect for a good mix of music as well as broadcasting just the right amount of news updates without being too overwhelming! Podcasts are an obvious choice for us too, there’s nothing better than good earwig to distract you and learn something new! Our usual ones are:

  1. What’s the Tee? by RuPaul and Michelle Visage

From pop culture’s finest to the divas of drag, this weekly comedy podcast spills all the tea on a wide range of topics.

  1. Diary of a CEO by Steven Bartlett

A weekly podcast where entrepreneur Steven Bartlett shares his personal diary, giving you an insight into what life is like behind the scenes alongside special guests.

  1. Happy Place by Fearne Cotton

For those wanting to unwind and embrace their inner ‘zen’, Fearne Cotton chats to incredible people about life, love, loss, and everything in between.


We all need a distraction that doesn’t involve doing house chores, or snacking. We’re loving playing Mario Kart multiplayer with each other, experimenting with new cooking recipes, and boosting our brains with free courses online.

‘Have you done your Joe Wicks today guys?’ is a common question we ask each other too. From his YouTube P.E. classes to his ‘Seven Days of Sweat’ challenges – this will make sure we’re burning off those biscuits!

We’ve also developed a soft spot for the ‘dance of the day’ and ‘song of the day’ challenges on TikTok – they’re a great way to entertain yourself and each other!

We hope you enjoy our latest podcast and we have some more fun episodes planned for the months ahead. Remember to follow government guidelines, look after each other and #stayathome.