BLOG: Fake News – The Real Story

Fake news has rarely been out the real news since the election of Donald Trump, and our speaker, Charles McGhee, former editor of The Herald and Evening Times in Glasgow, opened his presentation with the headline “Trump – any news he doesn’t like he dismisses as fake news”

Charles quickly set about examining the alarming growth of this phenomenon.

Charles explained how the rapid decline of traditional, trusted media brands such as newspapers have helped fake news to flourish in the largely unregulated but enormously powerful social media environment.  After a recent EU study revealed that only 7% of respondents trust content on social media, Charles asked what digital giants such as Facebook, Google and Twitter are doing to clean up their act.
Charles also ‘wound back the clock’ reminding us that ‘spin’ such as the ‘heroic’ stories of the battle of Dunkirk, 80 years ago managed to turn a major defeat into a victory. Winning the propaganda war wasn’t fake news as such but it demonstrated that we are no strangers to news management and manipulation.

Charles is a member of the board of the UK’s new press regulator, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), which was set-up in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal.  During the presentation he pointed out the press itself had contributed to the drop in public confidence in the media; “We just need to look at the phone hacking scandal to see how trust has been lost in the Press”.

The decline of the media and the rise in social media has coincided with the rise in fake news and these days anyone can set themselves up as a content generator in online publishing or broadcasting. Maybe that’s why only 18% of people in the UK trust what they read in social media (and only 7% in Europe as a whole). You would think this would make fake news unpopular but the numbers tell otherwise, so much so the rise in fake news websites is eye watering. The click through to their websites is so high that advertisers are clambering over each other to get their products and services advertised on them, “It’s big business!” exclaimed Charles.

This is all very well but what does it mean for our businesses? There were many questions from the breakfast audience, keen to know how they could navigate this communications minefield to protect their reputation and brand identity. Charles was not short of tips:

  • Constantly monitor your brand online
  • Wikipedia is often full of misleading information so make sure any facts about you are correct
  • Use complaints channels such as Ofcom and IPSO for support and advice
  • Recruit brand ambassadors and roll them out, particularly if you are facing negative issues

The presentation was wrapped up with some detail on what the media is doing to combat fake news. In summary, they have been slow to respond but we are seeing broadcasters such as the BBC and Channel 4 implementing ‘reality check’ teams. Even the social media giants are finally addressing the problem with partnerships with fact-checking organisations such as Full Fact to help monitor content as well as offering new tools to help users spot fake news.

Clearly this hot topic of Fake News is not going to disappear anytime soon so we are grateful Charles was able to bring his experience and knowledge to help us understand this global phenomenon, and how best to operate our business within it.

A BIG thanks to Charles who can be reached at

We also heard from Colin Millar CEO at Scottish Personal Assistant Employers Network (SPAEN) who took a few minutes to describe their new Employ{my}Ability programme. If you would like more information please contact Colin at

In September we welcome back Glasgow Chamber CEO Stuart Patrick to look at Glasgow’s vision: what it means for business. Book Now

Photography by Great Scot Photography and Creating Sparks

Brand Communities and Consumer Tribes: the value of emotional connection

“Customer emotion is more effective than customer satisfaction” – the opening statement to June’s breakfast from one of Scotland’s top marketing professionals, Claire Dunning.

Claire’s welcome return to the breakfast saw her focus on customer needs and wants. In today’s technology driven world power has shifted from companies to customers, therefore brands need to flow through multiple technologies. Every brand is a running narrative, a story-in-progress whose hero is the customer.
Claire talked us through the top ten high impact motivators that create emotional connection identified in The New Science of Customer Emotions article published in the Harvard Business Review, and related these to a number of case studies that illustrated successful customer connection and not so successful!

The customer experience is no longer linear and is often perpetual. This was ably illustrated by The Customer Experience Lifecycle displayed as an infinity loop as outlined in Influence 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing report from Brian Solis of Altimeter Group

We heard about the entrepreneur Joe Wicks aka @TheBodyCoach who has experienced phenomenal growth enabled by social media, he has in fact created a ‘tribe culture’. Customers are his advocates who also provide content and success stories to enthuse others and co-create The Body Coach brand community.

Claire explained; “Power has shifted from companies to customers. The best customer experience and engagement is about being human. When a customer is truly engaged with a brand, they enroll in the tribe and membership increases loyalty, advocacy and repurchasing habits. Engaging customer experiences and emotional connection are essential for differentiation and are the lifeblood of a successful business.”

Claire is well versed in looking after and listening to customers with a wealth of experience; co-founder of branding and marketing agency Creating Sparks, past president of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce and fellow and past Vice Chair of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

The big message on the day was, focus on experiences rather than brand features and create emotional connection by casting customers as the most important members of your tribe.

A few tips shared to help us understand how to connect emotionally with customers included:

  • Target connected customers
  • Identify and quantify key motivators
  • There are no substitutes for people
  • Invest time in personalising communications
  • Build emotional connections regularly
  • A brand community shouldn’t be siloed to one channel or platform
  • You don’t have to be an upscale brand to connect emotionally
  • There is no more B2B or B2C it is Human 2 Human #H2H

Thanks again to Claire for a great presentation.

Next month we look forward to welcoming Cloch Solicitors MD Philip Hannay on Intellectual Property; Look but don’t touch


Back to the Present – technology in 2035 and Now!

At our May breakfast we welcomed Gillian Docherty, CEO of The Data Lab, an innovation centre helping organisations leverage the value of data for economic and social benefit.

Gillian opened up with a journey into the future, all the way to 2035 to illustrate how the world might look with the use and impact that data, robotics and artificial intelligence may have on our lives. She case studied a typical day for her daughter who will be almost 30 by then. Using biometric tattoos or chip implants our whole lives could be diarized out for us. Robots will help us around home and in work life, while driverless cars and the ‘hyper loop’ will transport us from Glasgow to London in 35 minutes for a night out on the town.

Gillian’s predictions were fascinating and the busy breakfast audience hung on her every word. She also answered any critics who said it was pie in the sky – “this technology is already being taken seriously, none of it is fiction – it is all in R&D and in some cases production. There is no holding it back!”

The big question of the day was; “how can Scotland get involved?” Scotland is a nation of inventors and it’s through innovation that we can win as a nation. The Data Lab, run by Gillian, is here to help companies drive technology and innovation. Fundamentally innovation is what drives technology and with a £20 billion opportunity for the Scottish economy Gillian is keen to get businesses collaborating to enjoy their share of what the future holds for us all.

She also showed how companies such as Aggreko and the Beatson are already benefiting from the use of algorithms to provide predictive analytics with equipment maintenance and patient treatment plans.
It was an incredibly fascinating and insightful presentation, and all in all every single profession will be disrupted by technology in the future, so let’s get involved today.

Thanks again to Gillian who can be contacted for more information:

Next month we look forward to hearing from top marketer Claire Dunning on Brand Communities and Consumer Tribes Book Now