Flipping the Bird: A Twitter-lating Conversation

If you’re a Digital PR pro, chances are you’ve learned a thing or two from our next guest who pretty much invented the internet. Andy Barr founder of 10 Yetis previously worked in-house on multi-media campaigns for the likes of AXA, Unilever, First Group, Whitbread and Midlands Electricity Board. His talents span effective crisis communications, award-winning media campaigns and creating highly engaging content across video, social media and PR. Our very own Mr. Worldwide has also advised the UK’s two largest political parties on digital campaigns and worked with Chinese government delegations on reviewing their approach to communications.

He regularly speaks at conferences around the world about PR, video, social media, SEO and wider marketing practices and has written for publications such as The Drum, Guardian, Vice and many others about these subjects. An expert in his field, he has more than 25 years’ experience and credits exceptional genes and the consumption of critics’ tears for his youthful visage. Speaking of faces, Andy is at the forefront of the changing face of creative digital marketing. His agency has run successful campaigns for the likes of IKEA, Superdry, Water Aid, Confused.com and many, many more.

He has built a team of more than 25 skilled individuals at the agency and dedicates any time that he has to growing the business and delivering great results for clients. Andy is renowned for his hot takes on all things PR and communications and brightens up the industry with his daily GoGetEm morning tweets. In this episode, we chat to the Digital Demigod about all things Twitter. Is the Twitterverse as sinister as some make out or is it a beneficial tool for both communications and brand?

Get your #CommsHero merch at the ready to take notes from the OG Twitterer, and take your tweetage to the next level. Andy has many leather-bound books and his house smells of rich mahogany.

Andy Barr

Founder, 10 Yetis

Key topics

“The bottom line for me is it’s a great business tool. I would say probably 40% of the clients we work with initially, start with a Twitter conversation whether they’ve seen me talking absolute rubbish as on Twitter or as a conversation that I’ve got involved in. When it pretty much first launched, I was part of the people that were really excited ’cause Stephen Fry was gonna be talking about this thing called Twitter on the Jonathan Ross Show and people like myself and Stephen Waddington were all talking about it on Twitter.

“I was quite an early adopter in that media bubble where we all sort of chat to each other.

“But I think fast forward to now, I think it’s very hard for people to come in and get stuff from Twitter straight off the bat because it’s just so saturated. There are exceptions to that.

“There’s always a great community on Twitter, and I think that’s probably one of the driving forces as well.

“It obviously depends what sector you’re in. If you’re in a really dull and dry sector – if you’re a funeral director, it’s difficult to have lulls on social media. But then you look at brands like Dead Happy Insurance and they’re you know they’re in quite a dark sector, aren’t they? But they have

major great stuff on social media. I’m all about people building their personal brand on there, there’re some people that essentially have made a career out of having a great social media profile. It’s a great platform for personal branding.”

“I don’t think this myself, but they say that online I’m quite funny, but I’m not. I think that’s probably the biggest disappointment.

“If I know somebody from social media and I know them well enough, then yeah, I’m gonna be exactly the same as I am in real life. I think the problem is when you meet someone you don’t know very well.

“I think one of the great things about social media is it allows people to get a sort of behind the scenes insight into you and your brand. Now obviously my Twitter account is the company name and I think I’ve had two instances where it’s been flagged up to me in a pitch.

“I referred to the police as plod so it wasn’t even proper swearing and someone brought it up in a pitch because they were loosely connected to the police. And then, really, bizarrely, very recently, I’ve just become a governor of my kids’ secondary school, and it was brought up after a meeting that a number of parents had got together, decided to go through my social media accounts and flagged it to the school that I swore in them.

“You know if my clients don’t care and the people I work with don’t care.I’m not really asked what you think either.

“If you look at some of the people that I’ve worked with it doesn’t get much bigger. You know we’ve worked with delegations from the Chinese government, the two main UK political parties on digital campaigns. We’re doing crisis comms for so many companies that I can’t talk about. But, you know, FTSE 100 and if they don’t give a crap, I don’t think anyone else should either.

“It’s about your ability to do your job, not whether you’re this polished diamond on social media.”

“I’m trying to say this in a way that won’t cause it to happen again, but basically in a column I used to do for The Drum about corporate PR, I posted about something positive the British government had done against a terror group.

“Unbeknownst to me, this terror group were actually very, very organized, very switched on and they sent stuff to my house in response to my tweet. I need to be a bit more careful about what I say and who I’m ******* off.

“So yeah, I tweeted some support for the British Government against a terror group and off the back of that tweet, the terrorist group sent stuff to my house.

“So yeah, that was a life lesson – don’t mess with terrorists.”

Any final words from Andy? (Disclaimer: Because the interview is ending, not because of the above)

“You only have to look around, not just at the hashtag, but the type of people that talk about CommsHero.

“I first heard about it through Katie at Cheltenham Borough Council who’s someone that I respect immensely in comms and I was very fortunate to work with her for a short period of time in financial services.

“I had complete FOMO that there was this whole community and I sit across quite a lot of communities on Twitter and I think you were at that point you were probably three or four years into it.

“I’m just like, well, why aren’t I involved in this? It’s a great community. You only have to look at the support that it gives each other, the amount of shares that you get for your swag and stuff like that. It’s phenomenal. It’s a beast of an organisation.

“You’ve got such an army of supporters, why wouldn’t you want to be involved in it? If you work in PR and you’re not, then something is not right.”

“And I think, especially with the pandemic as well, being able to engage with people and have open conversations about things – challenging things – what the expectation is and what should that look like in our industry.”

The show notes are the creation of friend of #CommsHero Teela Clayton.


Dead Happy Insurance

The Drum

Fancy getting in the hot seat and sharing your CommsHero wisdom? Contact Asif Choudry

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