Bell Pottinger barred from PRCA

British multinational PR and marketing firm, Bell Pottinger has been expelled from the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), following an investigation into its work for Oakbay Capital in South Africa. Bell Pottinger’s membership has been terminated with immediate effect and the company won’t be eligible to reapply for PRCA’s corporate membership for a minimum period of five years.

Following a complaint from the Democratic Alliance, the investigation revealed that Bell Pottinger breached four clauses under the PRCA Professional Charter and Public Affairs and Lobbying Code of Conduct, and that the firm’s campaign could possibly induce racial tensions in South Africa.

“Bell Pottinger has brought the PR and communications industry into disrepute with its actions, and it has received the harshest possible sanctions,” Francis Ingham, Director General, PRCA. “The PRCA has never before passed down such a damning indictment of an agency’s behaviour. This outcome reflects the huge importance that PRCA places on the protection of ethical standards in the business of PR and communications.”

Facebook launches safety resources for journalists

As part of the Facebook Journalism Project, the social media platform has launched ‘Facebook Safety for Journalists’ along with a dedicated safety page under the ‘Facebook for Journalists’ website.

Created in partnership with the European Journalism Centre, the Committee to Protect Journalists, ConnectSafely, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) and the James W. Foley Legacy, ‘Facebook Safety for Journalists’ aims to help journalists protect their accounts on the platform. The safety page under the website,, provides information relating to online safety, such as how to turn on two-factor authentication, manage privacy settings, moderate comments, block harassment and more.

CNN launches VR platform

CNN has launched new virtual reality platform, CNNVR. A journalism unit and platform within CNN Digital, CNNVR will cover major news events in a 360 video, transport users to the front row of global events through VR live streams and produce weekly VR experiences. The new platform will be overseen by Jason Farkas, Vice President of Premium Content Video and will see Dubai become among the first cities to have trained VR producers and access to CNNVR through mobile phones, desktops and VR headsets.

Active partners with VIANEWS

Active (Digital. Marketing. Communications) Middle East is set to partner with Brazil based integrated communications agency, VIANEWS through Hotwire PR. Located in Sao Paulo, VIANEWS will bring together their network of agencies in Latin America with Hotwire’s existing international footprint of offices as well as exclusive co-branded partners and affiliates that will provide clients with communications expertise in major economic regions.

“This latest addition to our growing global presence means that we can now offer our existing and prospective clients access and integrated marketing support in a market that has drawn ever closer to this region and the UAE specifically, as well as providing a host of Brazilian and Latin American companies and organisations high standards of marketing services and support across the Middle East region,” says Sawsan Ghanem, Managing Director and Founding Partner, Active (Digital. Marketing. Communications).

Lions Festivals appoints new Managing Director

Lions Festivals has appointed Jose Papa to the role of Managing Director. Jose is currently CEO of another business – WGSN – owned by Ascential, Lions Festivals parent company and was previously Corporate Strategy Executive Director at Estadão, Cannes Lions’ official representative in Brazil. In his new role, which will be effective as of September 1, 2016, he will head up and manage the Lions Festivals four annual global celebrations; Cannes Lions, Lion’s Health, Lions Innovation and Lions Entertainment, as well as regional events including; eurobest, Dubai Lynx, Spikes Asia and the Tangrams.
“Clearly this role attracted a lot of interest and I am delighted that Jose has agreed to join Lions Festivals,” says Philip Thomas, CEO, Ascential. “He has led WGSN to unprecedented success and with a deep understanding of our brand and huge international experience, he was the outstanding candidate for the role.”
Jose adds, “Lions Festival is the definitive global destination for creativity and inspiration. A legacy built by bringing together the world’s brightest minds and awarding the most innovative work. It is a privilege to carry on the heritage and further lead an exciting new phase of continued success.”

Verizon buys Yahoo’s search and advertising operations

US telecoms company, Verizon Communications has bought Yahoo’s search and advertising operations for a deal of around $4.8bn. The telecoms company will now own Yahoo’s core Internet businesses of over a billion active users a month, to become a global mobile media company.
“Verizon is progressing its transformation to become a cross-screen advertising and media group,” says Juan Jose Rio, Partner, Advisory and Investment group, Delta Partners. “Through Yahoo, Verizon is harnessing a significant number of assets, including new advertising capabilities, but most relevant is its fixed and mobile advertising properties in the search, communication and digital content space. Whilst it remains to be seen what exactly Verizon will do with this latest acquisition and all its underlying assets, including those beyond the US borders, this may lead to similar deals and acquisitions between telcos and digital companies. More deals of a similar nature may be forged in the future, with telcos looking increasingly to leverage their connectivity and data assets to become powerful digital companies.”

CNN to push news through Facebook Messenger

CNN International is set to be pushing more personalised news through private message on Facebook Messenger.  The company has unveiled new capabilities for businesses and publishers on Messenger, allowing users to chat directly with CNN to get breaking news and personalised stories.

“With three billion global users, messaging apps represent the single most crucial global growth platform for businesses,” says Alex Wellen, Chief Product Officer, CNN. “Messaging apps are particularly ripe for news – they enable both the intimacy of a one-on-one conversation as well as the medium to broadcast a crucial message at scale. When someone adds the CNN Channel to Facebook Messenger, they are doing something far more intimate than “following” an account, they are putting CNN right alongside the people that matter most to them, and demanding a two-way, personal conversation.”

Samantha Barry, Head of Social News, CNN, adds “We know that more and more people around the world are engaging with messaging apps, and it’s not just to chat with friends. They’re using those same platforms to share news and content. The language we’re using on these apps is more personal, conversational and bespoke to the messaging audiences.”


Meltwater acquires Encore Alert

Media intelligence solutions company Meltwater has acquired Encore Alert, a Virginia-based software as a service (SaaS) platform that uses artificial intelligence to sift through online information 24/7 to derive critical insights that can be used to improve a company’s marketing and PR efforts.

“We are all drowning in social media and the challenge we have is to identify information that is important and actionable,” says Jorn Lyseggen, Founder and CEO, Meltwater. “The team at Encore Alert is passionate about this problem. For the last three and a half years, they have worked tirelessly to condense this clutter down to a handful of daily alerts using sophisticated artificial intelligence. Their algorithms are successfully helping top brands to stay on top of emerging crises, important events and critical trends.”

James Li, CEO, Encore Alert, adds “We are very excited to be joining the Meltwater family. As the volume of online conversations about brands continues to increase at an overwhelming rate, the need for smart alerts that show marketing and PR professionals what to focus on is stronger than ever. The team at Meltwater shares this vision and we’re excited to work with them to bring this solution to their thousands of incredible customers worldwide.”

Snapchat launches Chat 2.0

Snapchat has evolved it’s chat offerings in one update. The newly launched Chat 2.0 will allow users to send multiple chats to other users, start talking or video chatting immediately and provides the option for voice notes as well as video chats. The update will also see the introduction of Auto-Advance Stories which now automatically loads new stories into a continuous stream and lets users skip through or exit stories quicker. Snapchat will also be refreshing its terms of service and privacy policy in an effort to make these clearer. These updates are a potential new way for brands to enhance communications with their customers through live stories and creative content, with chats becoming more interactive and now allowing for video, text, audio and drawing to take place simultaneously within the same interface.

Al Jazeera to cut 500 jobs

Al Jazeera is set to cut around 500 jobs as part of a workforce optimisation initiative. The broadcaster has said that this would mostly affect those in positions at the company’s headquarters in Qatar and it is expected that the first job losses could occur in the next week. Al Jazeera broadcasting network was launched in 1996 and now has over 70 bureaus worldwide. The news comes just months after the announcement of the closure of Al Jazeera America’s cable TV and digital operations.