Journo of the Month

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Our journalist of the month this month is the fantastic Thomas Swallow. Thomas is the Style and Grooming writer for The Gay UK and has a passion for grooming, fitness and fashion. He’s also the guy behind @urbanmaleuk. Here, he answers the notorious Sunny Bird PR questions…


1.       What are the 5 words that best describe you?

Determined, enthusiastic, sassy, confident and well-groomed (I’m counting it as one word 😂)

2.       What magazine do you love reading and why?

My favourite magazine to read is GQ. I think it’s the only male magazine that features all the things I’m passionate about but holds the side of misogyny. As a gay man I can still like fitness, grooming and fashion, without it all being geared to getting laid. You know what I mean? 

3.       What is your favourite book?

Sounds cliché but it will always be “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. Read it in secondary school like most of the UK and completely fell in love with the book. I think it’s such an important literary piece that defines the injustice present within the world.

4.       Which song makes you dance?

Avicii: Wake Me Up

5.       What has been your best career moment?

Getting published for the first time and seeing my name in print. Pretty sure I cried on the phone telling my parents. Yes, I am indeed a sap!

6.       What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

Well I was at university in Newcastle, so it would probably be to invest in better fake tan. You know, orange just ain’t a look! In all honesty I’d probably just have told myself to relax more. I used to spend so much time at uni thinking of what everyone thought of me, me being gay and my appearance. The thing is there was nothing wrong with any of it and as soon as I realised that, I just became so much more of a fun-loving and confident guy.

7.       Where are you happiest?

Sweden! I went on an exchange at university there for half a year and I just fell in love with the country. There’s just something about it that I find so relaxing. If I ever need to focus and get something done, I head there for a mini break. If you’ve never been, try it! Plus their summers are consistently in the mid 20s to 30s…. #JustSaying

8.       Who would be your number one dinner guest be and why?

I think it would be Jake Gyllenhaal and not just because I want to marry him, although if by some chance you’re reading this, yes, I am indeed single! I just found him such an inspirational role model growing up. He has such a liberal attitude to life and he was an English major at university, so we’d at least have a starting point to planning the wedding.

9.       If you could have any superpower, what power would it be and why?

I would like to be able to speak any language in the world. Sounds a bizarre one but I love travelling and making connections while doing so. Some of my best friends live in other countries and I just wish they didn’t always have to speak English for me. Currently trying to learn Spanish… it’s not going well!

10.   If you had to ask us one question what would it be?

What do you consider the most enjoyable part of working in PR?

Sunny – For me it’s all about meeting inspiring new brands. We are lucky enough to be surrounded by creativity on a daily basis and creative people and I love being inspired by them.

Laura – No two days are the same in PR and I love the variety of stuff you work on. You become an expert in everything from business bartering software to the science behind snoring. You get such a breadth of knowledge working in PR – it’s great for pub quizzes!

Georgie – I love how creative we get to be in PR. Every day we are given opportunities to stretch our creative muscles, whether it’s coming up with a new angle to get our clients in press or whether it’s putting yourself into the customer’s shoes to write up a press release.

Jess – Every day is different, one day you might be working on pitching a cool new product to journalists and the next you might be hosting an event for a client. You never know where the next week is going to take you, so it certainly keeps you on your toes!

Elizabeth – The most enjoyable part of PR is that it’s all about communication and I love communicating! Whether that’s through words, graphics, events, social media, websites, radio, TV, interviews, interpretative dance, etc etc, each opportunity to connect presents a new challenge and a chance to shine!

Rachael – I love that PR is part of the media industry, so we keep up to date on what’s going on in the world and the news, not only for our clients but generally in the media too. I love spending time researching what journalists are talking about.

Beating the Algorithms on Instagram

Instagram is arguably one of the fastest growing and developing social media networks out there, having grown from 700 million users to 1 billion in just two years. This puts it just behind Facebook in the social media rankings for active users.

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Of that 1 billion people 34% of them are millennials, an audience that are far more clued up and cynical of brands on social media than their baby boomer parents. With 4.2 billion likes taking place on the platform each day (more than any other social media channel) Instagram is officially the happiest place on the Internet – providing brands with an invaluable route to reaching their millennial target audience in an organic way, cutting through the cynicism that millennials feel towards brands on social media and actively engaging them.

Because of this, 86% of top brands have Instagram accounts, but Instagram isn’t only great for huge corporates, it’s also equally brilliant for smaller brands and businesses who have a real opportunity to build a great network of customers on the channel. The great thing about Instagram is that it is an up and coming channel for businesses and brands, meaning that it’s far easier to master than Facebook for example, with less algorithms pushing brands to the bottom of people’s newsfeeds.

With these elements in mind we recognised that Instagram was a key social media channel for our business, with many sales of tickets for our courses coming directly from Instagram. In the month of January, we aimed to improve all our Instagram stats (post reach and post engagement on our best performing post, followers, overall post likes, overall post comments and our story reach) by 100% in comparison to December’s stats.

Getting the Strategy Right

In order to get 100% improvement across all stats we couldn’t rely on luck, so we formulated an Instagram strategy based on previous analytics. In order to compile this we looked back at the best performing posts for the last 6 months (these can be accessed through your Instagram insights) to understand what our audience liked to see. From this, we found that images tagging in lots of people and including our clients got great engagement and was something that we wanted to replicate. We believe firmly in not reinventing the wheel – if something has worked well recently, learn from that and replicate it in your future posts.

Interestingly enough, the posts that we had expected to perform just as well the second time didn’t do as well as we had anticipated, our likes improved in comparison to week 1 of December, but not enough for us to be hitting 100% by the end of the month. This might not be the same for every business account – some might find that replicating content is a great strategy to grow their channel and discovering whether it’s right for you is all about testing it out and seeing what happens! We learnt that it wasn’t right for our feed, therefore it was back to the drawing board and time to do some serious research with three weeks left to up our stats.

Improving Your Instagram Reach

Your Instagram reach is the amount of people that see your posts, whether that be on their main feed or on their explore page. Much like Facebook, Instagram reach differs from engagement as many people might see your posts without interacting with them. Reach is important to building a following on Instagram and getting in front of both new and existing followers and fans of your brand. The good news with Instagram is that reach is relatively easy to improve if done in the right way. In order to increase our own reach, we took several different tactics.


Firstly, we built up a bank of hashtags for our brand. Building a bank of hashtags isn’t as simple as tagging everything with #ootd or #love. Hashtags are under-used as a brilliant resource for brands. Research taught us that hashtags should be carefully selected. We created some guidelines for hashtag selection, these were:

1.       Hashtags should be community minded – simply selecting the hashtag with the most posts is rarely the right way to go for your business. Instead, find hashtags that generally have less than 50k uses to reach a really targeted and specific community of people.

2.       Hashtags must be targeted for the business – getting in front of people that aren’t interested or engaging with your content is pointless for hitting your business objectives. Hashtags should be targeted to reach people that you know for a fact will be interested in what you are posting about – whether that be new customers, other brands or organisations that you want to work with.

3.       Hashtags should be changed every month – like all elements of social media you shouldn’t stick with something because it worked once. You must constantly analyse your hashtags to continue to improve and grow. Plus, if you keep appearing on the same pages at some point that audience will tire of seeing your posts and it’ll be time to target someone new!

Instagram now allows hashtag analytics which is great to see. On your ‘insights’ page, you can view how many people found your posts via a hashtag and see which are performing best for your account. This can help you refine which hashtags you use and help you to improve your reach.

During our research we found lots of rumours that you should only use five hashtags on your posts or Instagram will flag you as spam. However, we tested this theory by posting with only five hashtags and posting with up to 30 hashtags (the maximum you can have on Instagram). Consistently, our posts with more hashtags on performed drastically better than those with only five hashtags, putting to bed those rumours.


Instagram Pods

One of the new tactics that Instagram users are taking to get around algorithms for reach is ‘Instagram Pods’. These are a relatively new phenomenon in the industry, having come about to get around the fact that Instagram prioritises content that gets lots of engagement, very quickly. Essentially, Instagram pushes to the top of your feed the posts that have had a ‘flurry’ of likes and comments very soon after being posted. Instagram pods are groups that Instagram users have formed, in which they agree to engage with each other’s posts as soon as they have gone live.

This is a tactic that we tried in the office, getting everyone to like and comment on the posts as soon as we have posted – and it worked! The first post that we tried this out on went on to become our best performing post of the month.

One key thing to bear in mind if you are going to try this tactic is that Instagram only really ‘counts’ comments that are longer than four words, and sadly, emojis don’t count either.

Tagging in Other Users

Using high-profile users to get in front of their followers is a great tactic to improving your Instagram reach. Sharing content from bloggers and tagging them in or tagging in prominent thought-leaders in your industry can improve your reach if you’re lucky enough to get a like back. When they like or engage with your content, your post will appear on the ‘explore’ page of their followers.

Improving your Instagram reach very much sits alongside improving your Instagram engagement and the two stats go hand in hand – improving your reach will improve your engagement and vice versa.

Improving Instagram Post Engagement

Post engagement is a key metric for achieving most business objectives on social media, and engagement is the buzzword of the moment – but how can you improve it? Well, Instagram, like Facebook, is all about building a community and encouraging organic engagement. Here’s how you can do that…

Engage with Others

Engagement is a two-way street, and you can’t expect to get tons of likes and comments on your posts if you’re not engaging with others. Following key Instagram users, whether that be new customers, other brands or existing customers, and engaging with them regularly will help you to build a community of loyal followers that regularly comment on and like your posts. Engaging with others is a long game, and miracles don’t come overnight. It’s not as simple as just liking a few other people’s posts, it’s about building an ongoing conversation with people that are key for your business.

Engage with Your Own Content

Whilst engaging with others is vital, it’s even more important to engage with your own content! It might sound silly but many brands put up a picture on Instagram and expect it to get loads of comments and likes, when the process doesn’t work quite like that. When people engage with you by commenting on your posts, demonstrate that you are active by commenting back quickly. Not only will they appreciate your time and energy, but by asking an open-ended question it keeps the conversational ball rolling, getting you even more comments and thus improving your reach.

Bring Value to Your Audience

Why should people actually engage with you? Do you have an answer to that question? Nowadays, you have to earn your engagement, and no one is entitled to it. In the social media industry, there are three elements to producing brilliant content that adds value to your audience’s day: entertainment; inspiration and education. If your content falls into one of these three categories then you’re on to a winner! Here’s a breakdown:

1.       Entertainment – is what you’re posting going to brighten someone’s day? Make them laugh or cry (in a good way of course!). Users will actively come to your channel if they know you to be entertaining.


2.       Inspiration – whether we admit it or not, most people use social media to improve their appearance in their social circles and show off the best parts of their life. Posting inspirational content encourages shareability, as users engage with your inspirational content to inspire their own followers in turn.


3.       Education – are they learning something? Remember, you are the expert in your own industry, and you can help to teach them something with your channel. Plus, this is a great opportunity to show off your own achievements whilst also adding some value for your audience! For us, sharing a great article that we secured for a client with some information about how we did it performed well.


Understanding how to bring value to your audience comes down to understanding them and what they want to see from you. By heading to your insights tab and checking out the audience insights you can find out more about your followers in detail. Then it’s all about brainstorming what type of content that audience would like to see and creating it.

Using Long Form Content

Adding value to your audience goes hand in hand with creating long-form content. The longer that a user spends on your post, whether that be reading the caption or writing a response, the more Instagram likes it and the higher up the feed it will end up. You can engage people for longer by using long-form content that they spend a long time reading, but make sure it’s adding that value for it to actually keep your followers engaged.

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Use People’s Faces

Users like the personal touch on Instagram, a behind-the-scenes look at the human face behind the brand if you like. This is clearly evidenced by the fact that posts with faces in get 38% more likes than those without.

Our Most Engaged Post

Following our research, we put all our points into practise. We created a bank of relevant hashtags for our audience, wrote some long-form content that taught our audience how they could do their own PR and shared it alongside a picture of our lovely Account Manager Alex. We tagged in prominent journalists and brands including our client, Jimmy’s Iced Coffee and posted it. We then had the whole team like and comment on the post. As you can see from the below – it worked! The post went on to become our best performing post EVER and drastically improved on our best performing post from December – our likes increased by 142%, our comments increased by 366%, our profile visits increased by 350% and our reach improved by 111%!

Getting More Instagram Followers

We hear very often about businesses who are setting out just to get more followers on Instagram, especially as Instagram reserves the coveted ‘swipe up to buy’ feature on Instagram stories for those with more than 10k followers.

Having loads of followers isn’t relevant if the audience isn’t engaged, and we would encourage always prioritising genuine engagement over follower count. However, we totally get why businesses would want to improve their follower count, whether that be so that they have the same amount or more as competitors or whether it’s just to access the swipe up feature.

We believe that the best way to improve your follower count is to build an actively engaged following, thus killing two birds with one stone. Here’s how we improved our followers by 226% in January:

1.       Following and unfollowing – there is an easy way to get your name in front of potential customers, and that’s by following them! We aim to follow 50 new people a day where we can, which really improves our follower count. However, we don’t want followers that won’t engage with us, therefore we’re super careful about who we follow. You could follow those that like similar brands to yours, those that follow influencers that you work with or even those that actively engage with your competitors. Taking this approach will help you to up your followers without sacrificing engagement.

2.       Increase your post reach – it goes without saying that the more people you get in front of, the more followers you will get. Using the above tips to increase your post reach will help you to organically boost your followers.

3.       Get in front of the right people – using the right hashtags and engaging with the right people as mentioned above is key to building that highly engaged following that we all want!

Improving Instagram Story Reach

Stories is an entirely different ball game from feed posts which we have been discussing in this blog so far. Stories are a hugely growing feature of Instagram, in fact, they’re growing 15 times faster than feed-based posts! We found stories the most challenging element of Instagram to master as they are a relatively new feature and there isn’t too much research out there yet. In the end, we managed to improve our story reach by 27% - it was the only stat not to hit 100%. Whilst we didn’t quite hit our target, we were pleased to have improved the reach at all due to how challenging it was. Here’s how we did it…

How Do Stories Work?

Stories are prioritised on your ‘storyline’ (the bar of stories across the top of your feed) by the brands and accounts that you engage with most. The more of someone’s stories you watch the higher up they will appear. In order to get around this, improving your stories reach must be approached as a long game. Consistently posting ultra-engaging and super-targeted content on your stories will make users realise that they want to be checking out what you’re up to, and the more they visit your stories the higher up they will appear. Therefore, creating story specific content (not just sharing your feed posts to your stories) is really important.

Make Use of Story Features

There are certain features available on stories that aren’t available on feed-posts, such as GIFs, location tags and hashtags. Making use of these distinguishes your stories from your feed posts and engages users far more than generic stories, meaning they won’t click past your content so fast!

Tag in Other People

On stories you can tag in other Instagram users, who can then share your content to their own story. This is a great way of not only improving your story reach but also getting on the feeds of brands that you admire and in front of those all-important potential customers.

Our best performing story was one that tagged in Sunny our MD, who has a highly engaged following on Instagram, which she then shared to her feed. This prompted lots of her followers to then visit our profile and engage with our feed posts too.


Overall, Instagram is a great platform for reaching a millennial audience in an organic way and cutting through the noise of advertising on Facebook. Remember though that millennials aren’t the only people on Instagram, so it’s all about checking out those audience insights to see who is following you.

Since doing this research and putting it into practise, our Instagram is consistently achieving almost 100% better than it was before the research, and the great part is that many of these tips are things that can be put into practise quite easily and quickly. For example, having a bank of hashtags in the notes on your phone that you can copy and paste onto all Instagram posts.

Like all social media, what worked for us might not necessarily work for you – so make sure you test all these tactics thoroughly to understand what works best for you and your business.

Beating the Algorithms on Twitter

How Our Twitter Page Went Viral

Unlike the other social media channels, Twitter is a fast-moving platform with users being recommended to post up to 10 times per day to keep up with the fast-paced newsfeeds of over 335 million monthly active users. More than 48% of users log in to Twitter every day to share short snippets (280 characters) from their life or their business.

Journalists, politicians and celebrities all frequently use it too. This means that Twitter is often the place to find trending news and it has a strong emphasis on real-time information — things that are happening right now.

Twitter was the first network to introduce #hashtags and @handles for users to find certain people and information to connect with each other. It’s thought of as the most conversational of platforms.

Beating the Algorithms

There are three ways your tweets are promoted on the newsfeed: the ranked and most relevant tweets, the ‘in case you missed it’ tweets and the remaining tweets in reverse chronological order of the most recent. The difference with Twitter compared to other channels is that you can choose whether you view the ‘best’ tweets or tweets as they happen. Therefore, to get the best out of the Twitter algorithm, timing is crucial; if your tweet gets engagement quickly then it will be pushed up the rankings and is likely to be seen by more people.

It is also important to find out when the best time to post on Twitter is through researching for your particular industry. Once you’ve established the best times to post, you can use scheduling tools such as TweetDeck to ensure you don’t miss a moment.

What you may not realise is that your tweets will be served to a small group of users first before being delivered to all your followers in order to measure engagement (almost like a mini test group). Your engagements are your likes, replies, retweets and profile clicks etc. This became most apparent when we created a post asking bloggers to get in touch, and once the engagement started increasing and gained more traction the tweet was pushed higher up people’s newsfeeds and it pretty much went viral!

Also, dependant on your number of followers your tweets will be prioritised accordingly, such as celebrities, journalists and news sites.

Starting a Conversation

Starting a conversation and engaging with users will increase your overall engagement. Of course, it takes time to reply to messages and ask questions but it is a great way to find new business opportunities and engage with your current clients or customers. Research also showed that people don’t want to be sold to on Twitter and that you should ask questions and run polls rather than just throwing out salesy tweets.

We focused on asking our audience questions and starting conversations which resulted in our total replies for the month of January being over 1,300 compared to December where we only had 28 total replies over the month! For example, the tweet below asked users to choose which front cover of our new book they preferred which started a conversation and had a total of 489 engagements:


The Correct Hashtags

Tweets with hashtags get over 12% more engagements than their hashtag-less counterparts according to recent data which is a great way to get your content seen by new eyes.

To find the right hashtags for your business you need to do some research. Look at what your competitors are using, your industry’s hashtags and if you have influencers in your industry, see what hashtags they’re using too.

For one of our tweets, which we shared across all platforms, we put out a request for bloggers to get in touch with the team for upcoming projects. By using hashtags we knew bloggers use such as #bloggerrequest the tweet gained 6,536 engagements! This is the highest number of engagements we have ever received on our twitter platform. By asking ‘are you a blogger or know a great one’ it opened up conversation for users to tag in their friends. The more people were being tagged, the higher the tweet got pushed up in people’s newsfeeds and the more responses we were getting. Even days later the tweet was still receiving replies and likes! The tweet had 246,520 impressions (impressions are the number of times a tweet has been delivered to an account's newsfeed) which considering we have just over 3,000 followers was incredible. What is surprising is that this post did not perform anywhere near as well on the other SBPR channels.  


You can also see what hashtags are trending on your newsfeed and if you have something to contribute to the conversation, get involved!

Tapping in to trending hashtags is also beneficial for getting your tweets in front of a large audience quickly. Throughout January we used hashtags such as #Veganuary and #DryJanuary as we saw they were trending, and businesses and brands were talking about them. We tied this in with some of our clients such as Jimmy’s Iced Coffee for their vegan-friendly Oat Latte and Conker Gin for an alternative cocktail if you have fallen off the Dry January wagon. By combining trending hashtags and tagging in our clients, these posts became some of our best performing of the month.

Twitter Chats

From looking at ways to increase engagement we found that ‘Twitter Chats’ can be a good way to engage with other users. A Twitter Chat is a live discussion focused around a general topic. They are scheduled at a certain time and a hashtag is used for people to take part in the discussion. Although these may work for other businesses it was difficult to find a relevant chat for our industry. We took part in #DorsetHour which is every Monday at 7:30 – 8:30pm where local Dorset businesses can talk about their business in a friendly conversation! We used #DorsetHour to get in touch with other businesses and shared news about our upcoming PR courses. One account was looking for Instagram followers, so we supported them and followed their Instagram account which also resulted in a follow back. A small step in relationship building a great conversation starter.

Worth a try if you’re local!


Everybody loves to win! We created competitions across all our channels for our PR courses to see if this would increase engagement. By asking people to respond and tell us why they deserve a place it encouraged people to interact and resulted in 61 engagements, an engagement rate of 2.4%, which is great compared to the average Twitter engagement rate which is 0.7%.



Polls are amazing as they require little effort from users, and the voters feel like they are inputting something useful or sharing their point of view. Voters also have to place a vote before seeing the result, which encourages them even more to get involved. Here is an example which had 18 votes, 6 likes, 1,044 impressions and an engagement rate of 3.1% which is great in comparison to the number of impressions it gained.



When looking at how to increase followers, most of us know that by following and unfollowing other users you will gain more followers. Following and engaging with other tweets and profiles also attracts followers. We made sure to follow and unfollow 50 users a day which resulted in 593 new followers over January which was a 735% increase from December.

An Inviting Profile

Having an inviting profile is important for Twitter users when they land on your profile. For this reason, we updated our header image to an eye catching bold and bright image with our logo, our faces and lots of smiling! This is how we want businesses to see us. We also put up a poll asking our followers what they thought about our new header, again engaging in conversations with them.


Retweeting Yourself

As the Twitter newsfeed moves fast it’s easy for your tweets to get lost. For this reason, you can retweet your own tweets to make them appear on people’s newsfeed again for a chance for it to be seen by more users. You can also boost engagement by retweeting your older posts that have already performed well or by re-purposing tweets that had high engagement the first-time round.


GIFs are great for showing your personality. People like to see real tweets and humorous ones which are shareable and likeable! People responded to our fun Friday GIFs with other humorous GIFs. If your business is okay with posting light-hearten fun content, then GIFs could be a great addition for your feed and showing your personality!



Overall it’s clear to see that Twitter is the platform for starting conversations, sharing your opinion and talking to people and businesses. It requires a lot of time and effort to use it correctly but there are tools to help you such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite which can make your life easier

Our engagement rate increased from 0.9% in December to 1.5% in January, link clicks from 93 to 212, retweets from 43 to 341, likes from 161 to 1.9k and replies from just 28 to 1.3k. We had 358,000 impressions (728% increase) and 8,782 profile visits (276% increase).

It’s simple to extend your reach by using the correct hashtags and mentions and tapping in to current trending hashtags to get involved and start a conversation. Many brands and influencers aren’t using Twitter to its full potential and they can underestimate the value of a simple tweet.

Even if you are using Twitter religiously, sharing valuable content and engaging with your favourite brands and influencers, of course there is no guarantee of success in social network and it requires a lot of trial and error to see what works for you and your business.

The bottom line is that you will need to play around with your Twitter account and watch your analytics (, in order to figure out how often you should post and at what time of day. Use this information, such as engagement rates on tweets, to find out which ones worked well so you can plan your next week or months posts.

We hope these tips can help you to improve your Twitter profile, if you would like to find out how the team can help you grow your Twitter channel organically by 100% get in touch on 01202 293095 or email and remember, Twitter is a conversation, Be sure to make your mark and start talking.    

Beating the Algorithms on Facebook

With one billion people using Facebook daily, it’s more important than ever to have an active Facebook channel for your business which is why we set ourselves a challenge to increase our engagement rate by 100% (that’s the number of people interacting with your posts). Although we spend every day on our social media channels as a team, we doubled our hours in January with staggering results.


Since 2012, Facebook’s organic reach has declined dramatically (that’s the number of people seeing your posts). This is for two reasons - there is too much content in the news feed for everyone to see your posts and Facebook is prioritising the posts that are most relevant/interesting for each user. Working in communications, we were aware of Facebook algorithms changing on a daily basis, so with that in mind, we set off on our challenging journey…  

Before we started

Before planning your Facebook content, it’s important to understand your audience. There’s no point creating hundreds of detailed posts if they’re not going to be relatable. Work out your business objectives before beginning and compare them to your audience. You can find out your business audience by clicking on ‘insights’ at the top of your business page and going to ‘people.’ For Sunny Bird PR, we found our audience consisted of 70% women between the ages of 18-65, with nearly a third between the ages of 35-44. Going forward, we knew it was important to tailor our content to suit women in this age bracket.

It’s also important to find out the best times to post on your Facebook page by clicking ‘when your fans are online.’ For Sunny Bird PR, the majority of our fans were online between 5-8pm so we knew it would be best to post/schedule most of our posts then in order to gain the most traction.


Facebook engagement is the number of people interacting with your posts, whether that’s liking, sharing or commenting. For Sunny Bird PR, it was important for us to increase our engagement by 100% in order to meet our business objectives and grow a following on social media. We researched some of the best ways to increase our engagement in 2019 and found that video was the most successful format. Videos on Facebook have dominated the channel in the past year so we knew that we had to implement the format in our strategy. Statistically, video posts get 59% more engagement than normal posts. In terms of the type of video, Facebook prioritises live videos in the news feed. In fact, live videos are likely to get three times as much engagement than regular videos according to our research so they should be created daily.


Over the course of the month, there were many posts which we thought would increase engagement based on our research but it’s important to note that different things work for different channels. For example, we thought that a post asking people for the best UK festivals would increase engagement, but the results were poor (with only 11 engagements!) and we realised this was because our fans couldn’t take anything away from the post. There was no knowledge to gain and no genuine reason for our fans to interact (and it wasn’t a video!). 


Our most engaged post was a live video which discussed some recent networking events we had been to. We asked our audience to interact with the video and shared our top tips on networking. The post reached 1,400 people, provoking 50 reactions, comments and shares.

It’s important to post inspiring content that will encourage people to interact. Ask your fans leading questions and encourage them to comment on the posts without making it too obvious that you are asking for engagement. The result? If you have a high engagement on your post, more people will see it because Facebook prioritises what it thinks people want to see on the news feed.

It’s worth nothing that Facebook engagement also goes hand in hand with the number of posts on your channel. If you’re posting ten times a day, the content will get lost in the news feed, so we recommend posting two times per day maximum. Just to reiterate, every Facebook page channel works differently so try experimenting on post numbers to work out the best structure for your channel.


By the end of January, we had increased our engagement rate on Facebook by 117% with the final week’s engagement tripling (hint*Facebook Lives!).


Facebook reach is the number of people that will see your posts on their news feed, whether that’s paid for (advertising) or organically (without advertising). It differs from engagement because people might see your posts without actually interacting with them. For this challenge, we wanted to increase our Facebook reach organically without spending any money on advertising.

Although it presents more of a challenge in 2019, an increase in Facebook reach is important because with over one billion Facebook users, you want your company to be seen as much as possible. Organic reach is absolutely free and every user that sees your post is just as important as the other. Increasing organic reach is an uphill battle, but it’s certainly a climb worth taking part in.


The good news? Facebook engagement can affect reach tremendously. If you’re posting content that’s encouraging interactions, Facebook will automatically move it up the news feed, thus increasing the number of people who will see your posts.

In order to increase our reach, we focused on increasing our engagement by planning posts that would prompt reactions.

Immediately, we thought putting a post out looking for bloggers would increase our reach by prompting our audience to share the post, but the results were surprisingly low with a reach of only 459 people (head over to the Twitter blog to see how differently these posts can do on other channels!). If you do have more than one social media platform, try experimenting with the same posts to see how differently the posts might work on each platform.

By the end of January, we had increased our reach on Facebook with the final week’s reach doubling. (Hint* Increase engagement not reach, reach will happen if you increase engagement!)

Page Likes

Interestingly (and annoyingly!) people can see your content without having to like your page, but page likes are so important for a brand. Essentially, the more page likes you have, the more credible your business seems.

To increase our page likes, we invited all of our friends and family to like our page, as well as targeting local businesses to like our page. When it comes to your business page, make your employees admins of the page (in page roles) and get them to invite their friends and family too.

From our research we also found that good content and engagement will also increase page likes organically. See it as a reward; if your Facebook post is doing really well you might find that your page likes start to stream in. It’s a win win for everyone.

By the end of January, we managed to increase our page likes by 197%. In just one week, we gained 141 page likes which double our page likes for the whole of December! This was a combination of posting tailored content and inviting people to like our page.


Just remember, what worked on our Facebook page channel might work differently on yours so it’s important to do your research before you set off, and that’s a combination of industry research and analysing your own page. Don’t forget to experiment! We wouldn’t have achieved a 117% engagement increase without overcoming some hurdles at the beginning. And use Facebook live!


Beating the Algorithms on LinkedIn

The Challenge

The challenge was to improve all areas of engagement and reach on the SBPR social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn) by 100% from the December figures by the end of January. Although we work on these channels every day and do our best to stay abreast of the latest algorithms, we doubled our hours and spent 60 hours on SBPR social media in January to ensure that we hit those 100% growth targets. This social media challenge has not only got us up to speed with what’s new on each channel but has also demonstrated the amount of hours that a company needs to invest in order to achieve real (and organic) growth on social media.

LinkedIn Overview

LinkedIn is famous for connecting professionals all over the world and is often seen as the Facebook for business people. It’s associated with finding a new job or as a Rolodex for sales people, but LinkedIn can also be used as a valuable tool for business growth.

As a business page you don’t have a strong presence on the professionals’ platform but as a person it’s much easier to engage with other people to build a community and following. As an agency we run the Sunny Bird PR LinkedIn through Sunny’s personal account rather than on a business page for this reason. For our clients we run a mix of company pages and personal pages depending on their needs, flexibility and restrictions. In addition to considering the type of account you use, there are a number of things you can do to maximise your LinkedIn presence that we have tried and tested for you.

LinkedIn Challenges

People barely use LinkedIn (in terms of time spent on the platform) when compared to other social media channels. The majority of people use it for less than two hours a week and only 40% of users log on to the platform on a daily basis. This mean that when people do visit, they tend to browse fast and efficiently.

Unlike Facebook, you won’t get penalised for posting too much so our approach with Sunny’s LinkedIn has been to share posts that we think will be of interest to the business community, analysing these on a weekly basis to see which types of posts perform best. The only problem with using a person’s account over a company is that there are no analytic tools (an oversight we think on LinkedIn’s part as it’s such a powerful tool). As a result we can only see which posts have received the most views, likes and comments so on this platform, views is how we’re measuring reach – how many people have seen that post. And the number of likes and comments is how we’re measuring engagement – how many people are engaging with our posts.

LinkedIn Audience

What we’ve found really interesting working on Sunny’s LinkedIn is that the posts we thought would work haven’t and the best performing posts have really surprised us. We assumed (we have been warned against assuming but it’s all to easy to do) that as LinkedIn is a business platform then followers and connections would be interested in business news, industry news, PR tips, results we’d achieved etc. This has very much not been the case.

A great example comes from our second-best performing post ever – or since we started analysing posts in September 2017 – which was a video of the team presenting Raluca, one of our interns, with a leaving present. The video was viewed by over 5,300 people and we can only summon up the following explanations:

1.       It’s a video – videos often perform better on LinkedIn (although saying that, we post several videos a week so why is this one so much better?)

2.       It’s light-hearted – as what can be quite a dry platform, it may be this post has done well due to its frivolous nature

3.       It’s feel-good – demonstrating SBPR as a caring company that cares about its staff


The point is to never assume, don’t think you know who your audience are before you have actually met them and tested them.

LinkedIn Followers

In December 2018, Sunny had 4,046 followers which was an increase by 75 from November. This meant the challenge was to gain more than 150 followers by the end of January. We connected with people who had attended our Reaching Millions PR & Publicity courses, with people who had similar interests and those that were suitable from LinkedIn’s suggested connections. By making a concerted effort to grow followers and investing that extra time we increased Sunny’s followers by 178 in January to a grand total of 4,224.

LinkedIn Tips

After extensive research on the recent algorithms as well as lots of experimentation, here is an overview of what we learnt including some tips and tricks for getting the most out of LinkedIn:

You Are the Expert

This is something we talk about a lot on our Reaching Millions courses, you are the expert, you know more about your industry then most other people. Sharing that knowledge with the business community on LinkedIn is a great way of attracting followers. We often share features that we secure for clients on social media and these used to be a very showy affair ‘We achieved this aren’t we great look at us’ style but with the knowledge sharing ethos in mind we’ve changed that to ‘this feature was secured by….’



For LinkedIn 30-second long videos are recommended to work best with the algorithms. We have always posted a number of videos each week knowing this but paid special attention in January to which type of videos (content/length/style/format etc) were performing best.

Although it’s important to understand the value of videos and ensure you post them regularly, LinkedIn does not feel as strongly about them as Facebook does. In December, not one of our three best performing posts included a video. Our best performing post from December was a post thanking our new and existing clients for a fabulous year, this is a no-brainer, it performed so well because of all the companies we tagged, as well as it being a feel-good success post.


From our best performing posts in January, only one of those was a video and it was our third best performing post of the month in terms of views. This was another ‘funny dance’ video of the team celebrating the successes of Becca, our current intern, we did also tag in the BBC as she had secured a radio interview for one of our clients which would have helped improve its reach.


By looking at both these posts, it actually demonstrates the importance of tagging in brands in an authentic way to improve the reach of your LinkedIn posts.

Text Only

For years now it’s been drummed into us that we need fancy photos or videos to make social work, well it seems that we may have visually peaked. An overuse of images on social media can actually lead to what is known as ‘banner blindness’ which may account for the latest studies showing social engagement is down by 50 percent in just the last few years. You know people are trying to get your attention with a video or picture – try just text – it can come across as more authentic and ‘real’. Some of our research cited basic text posts as generating more likes, comments, and views than any other form of content on LinkedIn. Judging by our own analytics, I wouldn’t suddenly ditch photos and videos altogether as these still perform very well on Sunny’s page but we did have a text only post appear in the top three best performing posts for January.


This post is a great example of using the business community to your advantage, people love to help (think about how well asking for recommendations posts do on Facebook) so if you need something or someone, try asking the community on LinkedIn.

 Actually Engage!

This is probably one of the most important tips and the one that makes the most difference. We really can’t just rely on pushing out posts and hoping people will engage, we actually need to make the effort to engage with them. People talk about engagement a lot, but what does it look like? Here are some specific tips to help you engage authentically with your audience:

  • Comment on your own post – reply to other people’s comments in a meaningful way

  • Spark discussions on an article – these are great for in-depth discussions which lead to more authentic connections with your followers

  • Ask for feedback – we’ve found the LinkedIn community to be very helpful when we’re looking for advice or opinions on design ideas for example

  • Actually respond to comments – this sounds obvious but it’s not uncommon to see a post by someone with several comments underneath, none of which have been engaged with by the author

  • Genuinely ask people to give their opinion on subjects that you want to learn more about – this goes back to people loving to help, we’ve found lots of willing connections on LinkedIn happy to some and share their invaluable knowledge with the team in return for a free place on one of our courses for example


It seems that LinkedIn are pushing their article feature; everywhere we went looking for news on LinkedIn algorithms we were told to “write an article”. The feature encourages users to post short blurbs that focus on storytelling and promises that with just a few hundred words you can produce content that grabs attention.

We have tried publishing articles a number of times on LinkedIn and have been rewarded each time with what can at best be described as tumbleweed. ‘They’ say that by using the native article feature on LinkedIn, every time you publish a piece, your connections get a notification, giving you that extra chance to get more engagement than organically posting on your feed. From our experience however this is not an easy win, we have not found that it engages people at all and our lowest performing posts of the month outperform the articles.

The Grand Finale

By working our way diligently through the online research available and by taking some time to try out the various tips and tricks we fine-tuned our LinkedIn processes and by the end of January we had managed to grow in followers, views, likes and comments. Here we have our best performing posts from the month. This post outstripped all others for the following reasons:

·         It’s a post featuring Sunny and people connect and engage much more easily with a person rather than a brand, article, stat or graphic

·         It’s exciting news (about Sunny’s new dress company) that people are interested in

·         It’s feel-good news – people love finding out good news about people they know

·         They’re beautiful photos including a very cute one of Sophia (Sunny’s daughter) and we don’t care what ‘they’ say - images still rule the internet!

·         It tells the story about how Sunny has set up the Perfect Dress Company – delivering the ‘how to’ rather than just showing off

·         Sunny has engaged with the comments demonstrating authentic engagement


This post neatly encapsulates all our learnings from the month and it is then no surprise that nearly 5,000 people have seen it making it our third best performing post of all time. What we think this post most definitely demonstrates is the need to never ‘do’ social media but to truly ‘be social’.

If you would like to find out how the team can help you grow your LinkedIn channel organically by 100% get in touch on 01202 293095 or email

Journalist of the month!

Lucy Gornall

Lucy Gornall

This month we asked award-winning journalist and fitness guru Lucy Gornall the notorious Sunny Bird PR questions. Lucy is the Health and Fitness Editor across TI Media’s weekly women’s magazines along with the monthly titles Fit & Well and Woman & Home. When she’s not commissioning features and writing copy Lucy can be found at a 6am HITT session or planning her next exotic adventure. Here’s what Lucy had to say…

1. What are the 5 words that best describe you?

Organised, impatient, stubborn, happy, determined.

2. What magazine do you love reading and why?

Aside from the ones I work on…Men’s Health. I love the workouts. 

3. What is your favourite book?

Any atlas.

4. Which song makes you dance?

Avicii – Levels.

5. What has been your best career moment?

The day I went from an intern to a writer and was given my first job.

6. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

DO NOT worry about what other people think. Don’t follow crowds if you don’t agree with them and always do your best in everything. Don’t ever settle.

7. Where are you happiest?

On a beach, somewhere hot, with no cares, a cocktail and good friends. 

8. Who would be your number one dinner guest be and why?

Victoria Beckham. I worship the ground she walks on!

9. If you could have any superpower, what power would it be and why?

To know what goes on in men’s heads.

10. If you had to ask us one question what would it be?

 What’s the most annoying thing about journalists?

“We rely on journalists to achieve great things for our clients so it’s essential for us to have good relationships with them. With cuts in publishing houses and newsrooms nationwide, we know journalists are more pushed for time than ever before and that’s why, as a PR agency, we try to make their lives as easy as possible and never get annoyed as we appreciate how much pressure they are all under!”

The Good, The Bad and The Viral

The team have started 2019 with a creative bang (who said January blues?!) and scoured the world of PR for some inspiring and insightful PR campaigns. From a hard-hitting domestic violence campaign to gravy scented candles and gender-revealing pasta dishes, this month has it all.

So grab a cup of something warm and enjoy the team’s top picks for this month’s Good, Bad and Viral PR campaigns.

Domestic Violence Reversable Poems

Domestic violence charity Refuge launched a hard-hitting Christmas campaign aimed at turning attitudes of domestic violence on their head. Working in partnership with McCann Bristol, the charity ran a series of reversible poems, which, if read normally conjured images of a traditional family Christmas. But when read in from bottom to top the lines revealed the horrors of a household living with domestic violence.

The poetry campaign was promoted across Twitter and on the charity’s website, as part of a global initiative called 16 days of action (25 November – 10 December) to raise awareness of violence against women and girls.  It is part of Refuge’s ongoing mission to help victims of abuse, as research shows two women a week are killed at the hands of a partner or ex-partner in England and Wales, and another three women commit suicide each week as a way of escape.

Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, said: "Domestic abuse is the biggest issue affecting women and children in this country today – it really is a life and death issue. Yet still too few women know how to spot the signs of domestic violence, realise that domestic abuse is a crime or know that Refuge is here to support them.

"We want women to know that, no matter what time of year, no one should suffer in silence and they should ‘turn’ to us for support."

The hard-hitting poems were featured in multiple publications including The Sun, Refinery 29, The Pool, Cosmopolitan and The Independent.

poem 2.jpg

KFC Sold Gravy-scented Candles

What could cheer you up more on Blue Monday than a KFC gravy scented candle?

KFC cleverly launched a limited-edition gravy-scented candle to bring happiness to KFC fanatics on Blue Monday!

There were just 230 limited edition candles up for grabs, they were available on a first-come, first-served basis. They were also free! To accompany the delicious gravy scent, KFC unveiled a new KFChill experience which allows users to listen to sounds of their KFC Gravy Mega Box. Choosing between the sounds of frying chicken, falling fries or simmering gravy.

KFC have released a chicken scented candle and bath bomb in the USA before but this is the first time a KFC scented product has been released in the UK.

This campaign achieved coverage in national newspapers such as The Sun, The Evening Standard and The Mirror, and The Metro!


KFC candle#.jpg


The Gender-Reveal Lasagna

Is it gross or pure genius? The launch of the gender-reveal lasagna (yes, we know this is not how you spell lasagne – but it is how they’ve spelled it so we kind of have to too!) pretty much broke the internet this month!

US restaurant and catering service, Villa Italian Kitchen, announced that they were introducing a new dish that would reveal the sex of your unborn child – the perfect addiction for your next baby shower?

The Italian creation consists of a secret pink or blue interior, made from layers of cheese, Alfredo sauces and Italian pasta. It doesn’t come cheap though, the dish is priced at $140 and serves 12 people.

Journalists from around the world took to Twitter to discuss the bizarre PR pitch that had just landed in their inbox, with one announcing: “Possibly the best subject line in an email ever: "Gender Reveal Lasagna?! – Villa Italian Kitchen Invites Guests to Celebrate their Bundles of Joy with Boatloads of Cheese!". The noise of tweets resulted in the #LasagnaReveal trending on Twitter.

Despite many negative responses to the latest way to reveal the gender of your little bundle of joy, the stunt did exactly what it set out to do and had everybody talking about it. A cheap photoshoot and some food colouring, and your brand is being talked about across the world! Plus, we’re sure they have been inundated with requests for the sought-after dish, boosting sales.

The news was featured in many publications across the UK and US including Daily Mail, The Independent, The Mirror, Grazia Daily, BuzzFeed, MSN, Metro, I Heart radio.



Clear Channel Homeless Billboard

A company called Clear Channel Sweden has teamed up with the government to protect homeless people when the weather drops to freezing conditions in Stockholm.

The company helped homeless people find their nearest shelter through innovative technology; they swapped the boring ads on billboards with directions to the nearest homeless shelter which we love. Across Stockholm, 53 billboards were activated for the program and they focused on areas that were most commonly used for homeless people. We think this is a brilliant use of technology and makes us happy that it is helping homelessness in one country, even if it is just a little.

Clear Channel International said “thanks to technology, we can develop solutions that can help people and cities”. This campaign had a positive response and featured in multiple publications including The Drum.



Uber links up with Calm to offer wellbeing exercises whilst travelling

Mindfulness and meditation is definitely a buzzword at the moment and it’s something that we’ve got involved with in the Sunny Bird PR office, with many of the team trying out the Calm app for guided meditations, which is why we love this collaboration between Calm and Uber.

The two companies have teamed together to help bring some relaxation to our hectic lives with their meditation exercises for Uber passengers. The apps have released four exercises of varying durations designed to fill a taxi journey lasting 3 minutes, 5.5 minutes, 12 minutes and 30 minutes. The campaign is accompanied by a survey that shows that 54% of Uber riders use their time in a cab to scroll through emails, social media and the news on their smartphones. Uber are aiming to turn taxi rides on their head – turning them into opportunities to relax and unwind.


This great campaign achieved articles in The Independent, Gizmodo, Metro and London Evening Standard.





Journalist of the month!

Sally Beck.jpg

Our first journalist of the month for 2019 is Sally Beck! Sally writes health and real-life features for all the big hitters including the Daily Mail, The Mirror, The Sun, Woman, Woman’s Own, Glamour, Bella and Best plus many more. Sally has kindly taken time out of her busy week to answer the notorious Sunny Bird PR questions below…

1.  What are the 5 words that best describe you?

Tenacious definitely, funny, generous, kind and absent-minded.  

2.  What magazine do you love reading and why?

There are so many! It has to be Vanity Fair. Although I love the women’s weeklies like Grazia and Woman’s Own, Vanity Fair has it all, celebrity, fashion, in-depth political features… what’s not to love?

3. What is your favourite book?

I recently read Their Eyes are Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. It was flagged up by Zadie Smith as one of the greatest American novels of the twentieth century, and it is. Written in 1937, it’s about a voiceless teenage girl’s journey into womanhood. It’s honest, compelling, and frankly, just a great story. 

4.  Which song makes you dance?

So many but the first that pops into my head is old skool - One Nation Under a Groove by Parliament Funkadelic.

5. What has been your best career moment?

Lordy, I’ve been blessed with a few but the first time I wrote a feature that made a difference was in the 1990s. I was working for a features agency who told me not to report on a young pressure group called Surfers Against Sewage (not a very romantic sounding name), but I did in my own time. SAS were campaigning for clean beaches at a time when Britain’s coastline with awash with waste. My feature made a spread in the Daily Mirror and it launched their campaign. It was picked up by every newspaper, including the broadsheets, and TV news channel and Channel 4 made a documentary about them. I learned to listen and trust my gut instinct.

6. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

Your twenties are for learning about yourself and your capabilities, be kind to yourself along the way. By the time you reach 30, you’ll have it sussed.

7.  Where are you happiest?

On my way to the airport. I love an adventure and I love reporting foreign stories. If it’s a travel story, even better.

8. Who would be your number one dinner guest and why?

Mick Jagger. So many questions I’d like to ask him, starting with ‘how the Stones have managed to stay together for so long?’ It isn't just the money. I’d also love to know what it is about him that beautiful women of all ages find attractive. And it isn’t just his considerable fortune either.

9. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

To eat what I liked and never put on weight. I’m a real gourmet and there’s so much good food and so little time.

10.  If you had to ask us one question what would it be?

What do you love about journalists?

 Our answers…

Jess: Their creativity and passion to write about a wide range of topics.

Georgie: I love journalists that use their position to campaign for things they believe in.

Lizzie: I love reading articles and features by journalists that really enjoy writing; I love seeing their own use of language, style and sentence structure.

Laura: Their power to write articles that millions of people will read and be influenced by.

Alex: That they always have their finger on the pulse and are always one step ahead with the latest news, trends and stories.

Rachael: Their ability to find the best news angle and make an interesting read for different audiences.