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June 24, 2019

How food could influence the way we access news

It’s a familiar scene: friends and family are meeting up for brunch. The coffee is hot, the avocado is smashed and at least one brunch-goer is reaching for the Panadol while avoiding questions about where they ended up last night. And when the food arrives? Everyone waits; not eating until the moment has been captured and posted to Instagram.

Founded in 2010, Instagram has 800 million monthly users worldwide. In the past eight years more than 270 million pictures of food have been posted to Instagram. The influence that Instagram has had on the restaurant industry has been immense. We’re now in an age where food and beverages can go viral, not just tweets and videos. Instagram is a visual medium, and this focus on aesthetics has changed the way we eat when we’re dining out. Photogenic foods have spiked in popularity, and the food that we eat has become brighter and more decorative. At breakfast time, muesli is out and smoothie bowls are in, and the toast has to be topped with avocado.

Its commonplace for menus to now include at least one Instagrammable dish but the food itself is just one part of making a #foodstagram pop. The lighting, the crockery and the tabletop also need to be on point. Social media isn’t just changing the way we eat – it’s also influencing interior design trends. Take it from Teddy Robinson, a creative director for London café-bar chain Grind. “Last year we replaced every table in the company with white marble, just because it looks good on Instagram,” he said. This might seem extreme if you think of this phenomenon as just pictures of food, but Instagram is more than that – it’s become the way that people (particularly millennials) choose where they eat. How Instagrammable a restaurant is can flow directly to the restaurant’s bottom line.

Not every successful restaurant or café needs to be doing Instagram well – but the ones that are have something in common. Emily Arden Wells, the Co-Owner of New York architecture firm Move Matter, often works on the fit out of new restaurants in Manhattan noting that Instagrammability is now being considered from a new restaurant’s blueprint stage. Venues that are succeeding on Instagram have moved mobile and social into the very heart of their supply chain – and they’re taking their millennial customers seriously. Their customers and their devices are considered before the tables are bought, before the menus are designed and before we tell the veggie shop how many avocados we need for Saturday morning.  If successful restaurants have social and millennials at the heart of their supply chain, what does that mean for news outlets?

Devices are already changing the way that we access news. Data from the Pew Research Center in 2017 shows that 85% of adults in the United States access news on their mobile device, at least some of the time. Not surprisingly, this is a trend that is growing – this is an increase on 72% from 2016 and 54% in 2013. Social media usage is also changing the way that news is distributed, with sites like Facebook and Twitter acting as the new gateways to news channels. Analysis of online news traffic backs this up, with Australian outlet ABC News Online sharing figures that compare visits to the homepage, and visits to news articles. Traffic to the homepage is on the decline but eyeballs on articles are increasing, as people discover news content on their Facebook timeline.

Some news outlets are already using devices and social to their advantage. When you log on to the Snapchat Discover page you’ll see outlets like the Daily Mail, Cosmopolitan and Buzzfeed talking direct to millennials. (At the time of writing, I almost got distracted by a Buzzfeed quiz titled “Pick a donut and we’ll tell u what your friends love + hate about u”). As you scroll down the Discover page you’ll notice more highbrow content – the power of the Snapchat Discover page is not to be underestimated. The Economist received more traffic in its first month on Snapchat Discover than it received in the preceding 12 months to economist.com.

The future isn’t just mobile – there are other, more modern utilities and methods of news delivery already available. If mobile technology can revolutionise the food industry, there’s immense potential for wearable and hearable technology to disrupt the media landscape. Hearable technology and Conversational UI is already delivering news information via Alexa and Google Home – as our virtual personal assistants get to know us better, does this mean they can deliver us even more relevant, timely information? Spotify and Netflix have already acclimatised us to the micropayment economy and people are increasingly happy to pay small amounts more frequently for quality and convenience. Rather than paywalls and digital subscriptions, would I pay for an alert on a traffic incident that meant I wouldn’t be late to birthday party?

There’s a lot of buzz around ideas like Spotify for News, News-flix and ideas that tie to the end of ownership and to micro-payments. The most buzz has been around a Dutch service called Blendle which claims half a million registered users in Europe and is now looking at the US. Most items on Blendle, which come from lots of different outlets, cost between 10 cents and 90 cents and come with a money-back guarantee: you only pay for stories you actually read – and if you then don’t like them, you can ask for your money back.

I don’t have all the answers but it’s important that we’re thinking about this. How can we prepare for continuous change in the news and content industries? The future is already here, we just need to harness it.

Ally Garrett, CX Director at Isentia
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Leading integrated media intelligence business, Isentia, has been recognised for its cutting edge digital platform, Mediaportal, after being listed on the Australian Financial Review’s 50 Most Innovative Companies for 2017.

Earlier this year, Isentia launched a suite of product innovations for Mediaportal, powering it with machine-learning functionality. This technology – codenamed ‘Huxley’ – provides clients with valuable insights quickly and accurately, helping busy communications professionals make more informed business decisions.

Huxley enables Isentia to harvest and analyse 7 million unknown media items and millions of other data points every single day. A cloud based platform that takes multiple input services, Huxley applies media item topology and enrichment services, and produces fit-for-purpose data for client facing products and services.

Isentia’s innovative approach to real data intelligence includes a continuous R&D strategy for Mediaportal and further work in integrating its data capabilities.

Isentia CEO John Croll says, “At Isentia we know the future isn’t written yet – it takes relentless innovation to get us there. But being listed among Australia’s leading and most innovative companies is recognition of the work of our team over the past 12 months and vindication that we’re on the right path when it comes to redefining media intelligence.”

Now in its sixth year, the ranking recongises the top companies in the country, driving innovation across a range of industries. It is judged and compiled by Inventium, Australia’s leading innovation consultancy.

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Media Release
Isentia listed on AFR’s 50 Most Innovative Companies for 2017

Mediaportal listed on the Australian Financial Review’s 50 Most Innovative Companies for 2017.

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has published anti-greenwashing guidelines for businesses making environmental and sustainability claims. Despite these efforts, media coverage of greenwashing, particularly focusing on senate inquiries and regulatory court cases against major offenders, continues to expose brands and industries stretching the truth in their sustainability messaging. This exposure is causing a growing disconnect between consumers and corporations, as audiences increasingly call out misleading practices and question the authenticity of corporate sustainability claims.Isentia’s sister brand, Pulsar conducted recent research exploring media and public discourse around sustainability. Part of this report examines how greenwashing is covered in the news and on social media, particularly in relation to the broader sustainability discourse. Let’s investigate those themes in more depth here.

Social media data is decreasing while online news activity re-engages, indicating incident-led conversations. Regulatory bodies like the ACCC, and state and federal governments are tackling greenwashing by identifying major corporate offenders and their misleading actions, such as 'recyclable' packaging, carbon credit misuse, lack of transparency in fossil fuel investments, and exploitation of government climate programs. Audience conversations often align with news coverage on these matters.
The term in Australia particularly gained traction among social audiences around November 2022 when the UN called out the Australian government for allowing the use of carbon offsets in corporate emissions reduction strategies. News of the apparent collusion between the government and large corporations has caused public faith and trust in both to dwindle. As these stories emerge, Australia's positive sustainability impact on the international stage is significantly undermined.

https://twitter.com/janegarcia/status/1591662729664004099

When we look at which sectors are most discussed within the greenwashing topic, energy, finance, and food take the lead.

Much of the discussion regarding the energy and finance sectors emphasises their interconnectedness, particularly the investment by financial institutions, including super funds, in environmentally harmful industries. Despite some super funds claiming to offer options that avoid unsustainable investments, reports have revealed that they collectively hold millions of shares in the fossil fuel industry. 

Many industries are being criticised for using carbon credits, such as REDD+ offsets, to appear more sustainable. Advertising, marketing, and public relations also play a significant role in promoting misleading sustainability initiatives, thereby contributing to greenwashing. However, stakeholders are aware that the advertising and communications industries have a huge impact on the profitability and success of an industry or product. The European Union’s Product Environmental Footprint classification system, for example, has been criticised by Australia’s wool industry for being unfair to wool products and for greenwashing. This, they argue, not only undermines the pursuit of a green transition within fashion but also damages a vital industry.

Mercer stands out as a most mentioned brand within the topic of greenwashing. This is due to ASIC pursuing a civic penalty case against them which alleged they misled members about its sustainability investments. This is groundbreaking for audiences to witness as it would be the first time the consumer watchdog has taken a company to court for alleged greenwashing.

https://twitter.com/BillHareClimate/status/1630404986130808833

Much of the conversation focuses on misinformation and lack of transparency in communication and marketing. Certifications like Fair Trade are being questioned, particularly for products like chocolate, and eco-certification for farmed salmon. It particularly muddies the waters for political figures when they get entangled with brands coming under scrutiny for such greenwashing.

https://twitter.com/JosieMcskimming/status/1750987402691362858

Furthermore, some companies feature in the media conversation due to their involvement in a senate enquiry initiated in March 2023, with a report expected by June 28th this year. 

Analysis of the ANZ reveals a shift in mindset, with consumers emphasising individual actions for solutions like composting or guerilla campaigns on mislabelled environmentally friendly salmon products. Grassroots and individual activism leading to actions like divestment from conflicting companies. Community groups like uni student clubs showcase how groups with shared values and experiences can make noise and incite change with how universities invest. However, there are ongoing debates as to whether it’s the role of sectors like higher education or Super Funds to prioritise the environmental implications of their decisions.

The rise in curiosity around greenwashing highlights the growing consumer demand for transparency and genuine sustainability from brands. As regulatory scrutiny and public awareness increase, brands must ensure their sustainability claims are genuine or face reputation damage.

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Blog
The Eco-Spin Cycle: how brand’s sustainability claims come out in the wash

Regulators are cracking down on corporate greenwashing, but what does media discussion reveal about its impact on brand-consumer relations?

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As the spotlight on sustainability intensifies year by year, it has become a focal point for legislators, media entities, and audiences worldwide.

This dynamic environment demands that brands and institutions elevate their standards in messaging and actions, holding them accountable like never before. For professionals in the PR & Comms realm, it is imperative to grasp not only how sustainability is being discussed but also the potential pitfalls, such as greenwashing, and gain a profound understanding of the diverse audiences receiving these messages.

Explore over 20 beautifully crafted pages of data visualisation that illuminate audience insights sourced from social media, news outlets, and search engines. Gain valuable perspectives on how one of the defining issues of our time is being discussed and understood.

Our exploration of this crucial topic delves deep into uncovering insights that are indispensable for crafting effective strategies, both tactical and long-term:

-Unraveling trends in the sustainability conversation

-Assessing brand & industry reputations

-Navigating greenwashing & misinformation

-Understanding the diverse audiences of sustainability

To access these insights, simply fill in the form

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Blog
Sustainability: Mapping the Media & Public Conversations

From accusations of greenwashing to the role of misinformation, we explore the comms landscape around sustainability.

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