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The X Factor Final – and how I ended up performing live on stage with Ben and Fleur

Posted December 19, 2014

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Ten and a half million viewers, 14 hours and two X Factor final contestants later, I can now officially say that I have ‘done’ Wembley.

It’s fair to say that when my choir – The London International Gospel Choir – was confirmed to perform at the final last week, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. The X Factor is even madder and more circus-like in the flesh than you’d ever imagine from TV, and it seems nothing is too OTT for Simon.

Here’s a backstage look at when the London International Gospel Choir (@LIGChoir) joined one of the biggest TV phenomena of the past decade…

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I frequently moonlight as a singer across the capital – but while all 20 of us from the London International Gospel Choir are used to playing big venues, Wembley is a whole new type of once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We arrived last Sunday to a very huge and, at 8.30 in the morning, very deserted Wembley, so naturally our day begun by taking hundreds of photos with us spinning around on the judges chairs and shouting ‘HELLO WEMBLEY’ from the stage at the top of our lungs.

Judges Chairs

The entire day was completely surreal, from casually bumping into Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood in a corridor (prior to his performance that night with One Direction) to watching runners pretend to be judges throughout the day while wearing massive name labels identifying them as ‘Simon’, ‘Cheryl’, ‘Mel’ and ‘Louis’.

Our first (and only) run through rehearsal of the day was led by Kylie’s dance choreographer Sisco Gomez, where we were immediately threatened with the wrath of Brian Friedman (famous for choreographing Beyonce, Britney and Maria). At which point our normal step-and-click suddenly went into turbo-charge mode.

Once dismissed we watched host Dermot O’Leary run through his ad lib banter for around two hours, followed by dress rehearsals for pop royalty Demi Lovato, Olly Murs and Sam Smith, accompanied by his army of 200 singers dressed in very skinny white jeans. Every now and then one of our clan would remind us all that “this is all totally mad” and we’d all go back to predicting how long until they’d decide we were imposters.



Our dress rehearsal was brief to say the least. We were on stage for approximately four minutes as we ran through all the entries and exits which Sisco had taught us earlier that morning. Sheer terror was now the residing emotion painted on all our faces as the size of Wembley Arena was finally felt in full force – we were set to perform alongside both finalists Ben and Fleur as they separately performed the eventual winner’s single plus the finale…having not yet even heard the songs. It was deemed that ‘Take it to church’ would be sufficient instruction – good job we’re a gospel choir, eh?

Choreography and lyrical accuracy utterly incomplete, we resumed our place backstage for costumes. I was surprised to find out that absolutely everything is budget, from cellotaped microphones on the judges’ table to Primark accessories glued onto Primark clothing in the costume department. At one point we were given 20 wonderful white turtlenecks, which were cut at the last minute and upgraded to black leather jackets. I still thought we looked lovely…

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With little under 10 minutes spent on stage practising, less than five track run throughs and a choir director watching from home with his heavily pregnant wife, we were suddenly live on national TV. Wembley Arena full to capacity is one of THE loudest eruptions of noise I’ve ever heard and it was surprisingly comforting as opposed to terrifying.

We were backing vocalists four times in total, front of stage for all and bashing out the most enthusiastic dancing LIGC has ever managed, complete with dry ice, confetti canons and fireworks. The fear just seemed to melt away when we got up there.

LIGC’s mantra is, ‘if your face doesn’t hurt you’re not smiling enough’ – and frankly I’ve never smiled so much in my life. What an experience and what a way for London International Gospel Choir to end 2014. I’m still not quite convinced it happened, and am pretty sure I’ll wake up soon…

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Rosie Coleman

Junior Account Executive



Posted November 19, 2014

OK, maybe it’s not the most original of observations, but as 2015 heaves into view, it’s certainly true now more than ever before: the PR landscape is evolving rapidly – and so too are the skills that PR practitioners need in order to be effective in a competitive and fluid marketplace, whether they’re agency or in-house.

Across the industry there’s a markedly noticeable fundamental shift in what clients are expecting of us – at every level and through every channel old and new.  We’re experiencing these changes first hand, and need to accommodate them by developing new products and training programmes, to boost our ability to deliver the most effective work.

All of which seemed like a great reason to team up recently with our friends at PR Moment, and host an event in our boardroom to discuss how in-house PR teams are evolving their skill sets and internal structures.

The aim of the morning session was to find out from in-house PRs exactly how they are currently witnessing the PR landscape changing, what they’ve seen changing already, and what they expect to see in the future.

Thanks to some excellent speakers and a full house, our event garnered some great discussion, while the research that preceded it has shown how in-house PR teams can become stronger…

Future Proofing In-House PR Teams from PRmoment on Vimeo.

Stephen Doherty, MD, Head of Corporate Communications at Barclays, talked about how in-house teams must become fluent in the language of business – and how it is important to elevate public relations up the value chain within the organisation, by focusing on the outcomes of your communications.

The influence of communicators has increased in recent years – and Doherty suggested that this had meant in-house PR people have become the barometers of the organisations that they represent.  It’s therefore important that they have infectious enthusiasm to be effective.


Indeed, the impact of in-house communicators is so important because they have the advantage of always being in the room when the big decisions are being taken – and they therefore have an obligation to calibrate and put into context the activities of the business. Doherty advised in-house communicators to ask themselves every day what they have done to aid the business objectives of their organisations.

Tom Barton, Head of UK Communications at Capgemini, discussed how in-house teams must make the best use of the resources that they have available to them.  He pointed out that media relations skills are no are no longer enough to excel in public relations – and that to be truly effective, PR people must embrace digital, to the extent that they understand more about social and digital channels than anyone else in their organisation.

Angie Moxham, CEO of 3 Monkeys then took to the floor to share our research, with some really interesting insights; we’d urge you to have a read.

If you would like to find out more about our report or events with 3 Monkeys, drop us a line or contact us at events@3-monkeys.co.uk

Thanks for reading.


It may only be 39 pages long…

Posted November 17, 2014


…but NHS England’s new ‘Five Year Forward View’ packs more of a punch than many weightier tomes written in the corridors of the Department of Health.  And it’s a breath of fresh air in comparison to past DH Green Papers that were the harbingers of massive conflict-ridden reorganisation

Simon Stevens, the new chief executive of NHS England, has kept a low profile in his first six months in the job. He clearly wanted to craft a concise vision for the NHS which would make people sit up and take notice.

He is signalling a big shift in the way the NHS in England is managed and organised, in some ways the most radical since the service was born in 1948.

Mr Stevens and his colleagues want to see barriers being removed and an end to the age-old divide between GPs with patients, and consultants with hospitals. Plus they signal a far bigger role for patients and carers.

There should, in his view, be no more top-down reorganisations, but instead the development of new models to suit local needs.

He believes some communities will want to expand the role of GP practices allowing them to provide a much wider range of care.

These practices might employ consultants and senior nurses with the aim of shifting most outpatient work away from hospitals.

Alternatively leading hospitals might open their own GP surgeries. Smaller hospitals could be preserved if taken under the wing of larger institutions.

The most radical option flagged up in the document is the development of “Accountable Care Organisations” similar to those in Spain and parts of the United States.

Translated from the jargon, this means a single organisation taking responsibility for all of a local population’s health needs.

This could be a major hospital trust doing everything in its area, employing GPs and community health staff as well as acute care.

Another important priority will be a radical upgrade in prevention and public health.  The NHS will therefore now back hard-hitting national action on obesity, smoking, alcohol and other major health risks.


They will help develop and support new workplace incentives to promote employee health and cut sickness-related unemployment. And we will advocate for stronger public health-related powers for local government and elected mayors.

And last but not least, something we at 3 monkeys have been calling for for months – when people do need health services, patients will gain far greater control of their own care – including the option of shared budgets combining health and social care. The 1.4 million full time unpaid carers in England will get new support, and the NHS will become a better partner with voluntary organisations and local communities.

This is big picture stuff and the skeptics will argue that it will take years to develop these new models of care. But it’s certainly going in the right direction!


Martin Godfrey

Managing Director – 3 Monkeys Health & Wellness


Cancer charities deeply concerned by threat to the Cancer Drugs Fund

Posted November 17, 2014


The Cancer Drugs Fund, a key part of David Cameron’s election campaign, is under threat.

The fund was set up in 2010 so that life-saving drugs considered too expensive for routine NHS use would still be available to patients who would benefit from them most. But now more than 40 drugs, around half the total, will be reviewed in mid-December as new rules on cost-effectiveness are introduced by NHS England.

Six of the drugs in danger of being removed from the list of accepted medicines are for breast cancer.

Caitlin Palframan, the senior policy manager at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: “We’re deeply concerned that several very effective breast cancer drugs appear on the list of drugs at risk of de-listing due to their high price.

“The fund is the only way women in England can routinely access these drugs that can offer them months, or even years, of additional good quality life.”


Infographic from The Kings Fund – Click to learn more


Prostate Cancer UK said the fund was “on the brink” because of financial pressures, and called for government to find a better strategy for funding cancer drugs.

Owen Sharp, the charity’s chief executive, said “A long-term solution is urgently needed that delivers an overhaul of the way new cancer drugs are appraised.”

Prof Peter Clark, the chairman of the Cancer Drugs Fund and an oncologist, said: “The Fund has delivered major benefits to many patients, but if this is to continue we have to act now.

“We have got to make sure that the Cancer Drugs Fund delivers drugs, which offer good clinical benefit at reasonable prices so the Cancer Drugs Fund can treat the largest number of patients.”

Prof Peter Johnson, the chief clinician at Cancer Research UK, said:”In the long run we still need a robust way of assessing new treatments to determine what the NHS can fund, so that cancer patients get the best, evidence-based treatments for their condition.

NHS England says that a national Cancer Drugs Fund panel, to include patient representatives as well as doctors and pharmacists, will meet in mid-December, to decide which drugs should stay and which be dropped from the list. Their decisions will be published in the new year.


Dr. Martin Godfrey

Managing Director – 3 Monkeys Health & Wellness


3 Monkeys and Trend Micro discuss data regulation with political and business luminaries

Posted November 14, 2014


This week we hosted a roundtable discussion with leading politico-economic magazine Prospect and some of the most important political and business leaders in the digital information space. In partnership with Beazley, the event was the third stage of our EU Data Regulation research campaign with Trend Micro, assessing business readiness and consumer awareness of the new regulation.

The new European Data Protection Regulation is a set of legislation that aims to comprehensively reform data protection, strengthen online privacy rights and boost Europe’s digital economy.

The event created a discussion forum for UK leaders to look at how the regulation sits with policy makers and legal commentators. Under the banner ‘EU Data Protection: will it work, and how do we prepare?’, the event was inaugurated by Sir David Omand, former GCHQ Director, and chaired by New Statesman journalist Jon Bernstein.

The table sparked controversial debate from a host of governmental and industry bodies, including:

  • Mary Honeyball – Labour MEP
  • Charlie Edwards – Royal United Services Institute (RUSI)
  • Paul Hadly – Department for Business, Innovation & Skills
  • Alexandra Renison – Institute of Directors
  • Raluca Boroianu-Omara – Association of British Insurers
  • Sietske de Groot – Federation of Small Businesses

The majority felt the regulation is a positive step in making businesses more responsible for protecting consumers who could be at risk of cyber-crime due to leaked data. However, it was largely intimated that there are still several issues to be ironed out before clarity of implementation and purpose would be achieved.

Some of the key points raised were:

Mark Brown, Executive Director, Ernst & Young, pointed out that the regulation could, paradoxically, drive perverse incentives not to notify people when a breach or data issue occurs; the avoidance of aggravation could seem preferable than to owning up to the error and the ensuing maelstrom of anger, blame and cost.

However, companies are setting up datacentres in Europe simply to comply with new regulation; so it’s a positive direction in that respect, stated Max Perkins of Beazley Insurance.

Mary Honeyball, MEP, emphasised the fact that without cultural harmony, in terms of consumer and business understanding of (big) data use and purpose, we will struggle to get comfortable with the times and the changing expectation of information management between parties. Honeyball echoed how the EU is already behind the times, and regulation understanding has to happen at a supra-national level.

We believe that there needs to be a continued proactive drive to educate all businesses on how the new EU Data Regulation will impact them and their customers, so that they’re fully prepared for when the Regulation comes into force – particularly in light of the recent wave of high profile data breaches.


Heartbleed is alleged to have affected over half a million secure servers when it was discovered in April 2014


We’re looking forward to observing how the regulation is adapted, and how the culture of information sharing and management will inform wider ethical debates on the possibilities and problems of data in today’s digital economy.

Phoebe Phillips

Senior Account Executive



Standard Life appoints 3 Monkeys to handle their Consumer PR

Posted November 14, 2014

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We are thrilled to announce that we have been appointed by savings and investment giant Standard Life to handle their Consumer PR.

This is a time of huge change for the financial services sector as Government reforms come in to play next year and we’re excited about the opportunity to drive real behaviour change when it comes to how people view and act around planning for their financial future.  Working closely with Standard Life and their marketing agency partners, we will create stories and truly integrated campaigns that drive brand reappraisal and consumer engagement in a way that is fresh and pushes the boundaries in what is a pretty traditional sector when it comes to PR and communications.

Commenting on the Appointment: Stephen Ingledew, Managing Director Customer and Marketing at Standard Life said:

“We’re delighted to be appointing 3 Monkeys at such an exciting time for Standard Life in the UK. We’re preparing for the new pension freedom that consumers will have from April next year and we have an important job to do, in engaging with our customers and making it as easy as possible for people to manage their life savings with Standard Life. Great communications are key to our vision as a consumer-led brand, and we’re looking forward to working with 3 Monkeys Communications and our other agency partners to achieve an engaging, creative and fully integrated approach across all channels.”

Christine Jewell

Managing Director


Hallowe’en 2014 – The (online) Spooks come out

Posted October 31, 2014

IKEA Halloween

It’s one of those times of the year where we don’t ask if, but how, brands will leverage a big event. It’s Halloween – and a time for advertisers to get creative, preferably whilst scaring the bejaysus out of punters and racking up some great viral reach in the process.

This year seems to have been particularly blessed (or cursed) with ghoulish goings-on and horrific happenings, so we’ve hunted around the web to bring you the best.

From Ford’s pranktastic psycho carwash (below), Samsung’s domestically-challenged mummy and a pumpkin which has over-indulged, to Ikea’s stunning ‘The Shining’ remake (below), these all hit the mark: great sharable content with its tongue firmly in its cheek. The results speak for themselves – Ikea’s video has clocked up nearly 4 million views in the last week alone.

Welcome to Hallowe’en 2.0, 2014!

Hugh Burrows

Head of Digital


The Power of “If”…This Then That

Posted October 17, 2014

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It seems that every month we’re met by another piece of new technology from a start-up or an evolved product from a longstanding household name, many of which offer something valuable to us in their own particular way. But isn’t it frustrating that they don’t all work together in wonderful harmony? Each device battles for our attention, its value intrinsically linked to its ease of integration into our lives.

So what if there were a way of having your Fitbit talk to your GMail calendar to log activity, or your change in location control your home heating to save unnecessary spending? As science fiction as this may sound, there is a very simple solution – and despite its use of the term ‘recipes’ to describe its software commands, you don’t need to be a contender for the Great British Bake Off final. Meet IFTTT – which apparently rhymes with ‘gift’ – otherwise known as If This Then That.

IFTTT is a software platform that allows connections between websites, social platforms, and IP-enabled devices. These connections are known as recipes and contain a command to one channel or device that is triggered by an action on another.

My personal application of IFTTT has evolved as my tech usage has changed and online platforms have evolved. For instance, when Twitter stopped supporting Instagram images I turned to IFTTT to provide the answer. A simple recipe which creates a tweet with an image and posts it via my chosen account, every time I post to Instagram – handy!

Now imagine another scenario: your heating is set to come on at the same time each day – but your hectic work life does not conform to a routine; you’re not going to arrive home when the house starts warming up, as you’ve been caught in the office for an extra hour or two. By the time you’re due back, the water that had been heating up will be getting cool and the radiators have been heating an empty home – all wasting energy and money.


3 Monkeys’ client Honeywell has just announced that its evohome smart thermostat is now compatible with IFTTT: owners are able to put recipes in place to help manage this – and other – issues. For example:

  • IF I exit a specific post code, THEN turn off my heating
  • IF the temperature outside drops below 5°C THEN turn my heating on
  • IF the temperature outside rises above 25°C, THEN turn off my heating
  • IF it starts snowing THEN set my bedroom to 22°C
  • IF my calendar says I am on holiday, THEN set my evohome to turn off the heating.

It’s early days for Honeywell’s IFTTT integration, but this is an amazing glimpse into the possibilities offered by the Internet of Things. We will undoubtedly see many more IFTTT applications which will change how all our devices and services connect to one another to make our lives simpler, more efficient and less stressful. Enjoy…

Add your fitbit daily activity Automatically set your latest Instagram

Send instapaper highlights to Evernote What are you searching for on ebay

Mute my Android device when I get to the office and turn on vibrateSave my email attachments


Felix Hemsley

Digital Account Director


Demonstrating the value of social media in B2B communications

Posted September 24, 2014


We recently attended an event hosted by PRmoment.com looking at social media best practice in B2B communications. There was a wealth of speakers from great brands on show, they included:

  • Dave Stevens, British Land
  • Heidi Lemmetyinen, CA Technologies
  • David Keene, Google At Work
  • Alistair Wheate, Gorkana
  • Jessica Brookes, Avanade
  • Joe Hanley, IBM Europe.

The event took a deep dive into the great ways in which these organisations are using social media to tell their brand story and build communities of customers and advocates. We were hoping to pick up a few tips but also found reassurance in some of the shared experiences and approaches.

With IBM’s latest CMO study revealing that 66% of CMOs feel underprepared for the growth of social media, the discussion centred around the ways in which brands can help educate the C-Suite on the value that social brings to the marketing mix. The majority of presenters found that sharing social toolkits with internal stakeholders, including suggested LinkedIn posts, tweets, blogs, images and soundbites, proved successful in helping to get them involved in social. Executive social profiling and competitor benchmarking is an approach that has proved successful with a number of our clients such as Microsoft Advertising. Our approach is to equip and train their C-Level executives and sales teams with the right tools and integrated content plans to easily share key information, amplify campaigns and help build their online profile in an authentic way.

Most of the brand discussion reflected the trend of brands as publishers, or as the marketers would call it, the rise of native advertising! Company blogs were highlighted as the main ‘hub’ from where all social activity is now driven. There was discussion on how there has been an increase of brands building in-house editorial teams to develop and share content, mapping out themes and talking points throughout the year – very much like today’s media newsroom. In our experience, this approach is bolstered by managing and mapping key influencer and stakeholder relationships. It is important to engage with subject matter experts in their field at an early stage to ensure that the brand is producing compelling and accurate content, while also building relationships with key industry influencers to help tell their story credibly. At 3 Monkeys, we invest a lot of time on influencer mapping and building newsroom hubs that take a content marketing approach to all aspects of comms, having rolled-out successful content-driven campaigns for clients such as Lenovo, Microsoft, Trend Micro, Samsung and Truphone.  For us, it’s about an approach that understands when, where and how to lever earned, owned or bought media channels for maximum effect.

Another common theme from the event was that there’s still no silver bullet to help put a dollar ROI on social media success. However, there’s a common understanding that in order to demonstrate the true value of social we can no longer measure it upon last click attribution – we need to understand the buyer journey behind that final click. 3 Monkeys content marketing approach is about brand building and bytes! We know a smart PR-driven, content marketing approach needs to drive awareness, preference, consideration and purpose. In a B2B world, content has to map to the sales journey and show impact. Our unique, evaluation and tracking tools really home in on this.

Alistair Wheate from Gorkana explained this really well when he compared last click attribution to a vicar being credited for a marriage, rather than looking at all of the relationship contributors that built up to the big event. Google and Avanade showed how they’re investing a lot of time into understanding today’s complex multi touch buying journey and developing customer personas to identify the stages where they can engage with them on certain content. 3 Monkeys’ experience has been that you can’t build any kind of credible campaign or content strategy without strong insight and evidence-led, customer persona building. This forms a central part of our influencer mapping and is certainly helping to illustrate the true value of social.

To finish off, we wanted to share five great tips for B2B social media success from Dave Stevens (@davestevensnow) from British Land. Some of it we know, but are agreed that we all benefit from being reminded!:

  • Don’t use a radio to communicate to the deaf

The majority of the C-Suite don’t actually use social media. You need to pick the right channel to engage. It’s also important to understand what time of the day works best for specific social channels, to ensure you’re capturing your audience, as well as tailoring your content depending on the channel. For example, LinkedIn works better for sharing research and reports; Twitter is better for news.

  • The best way to get to the Prime Minister is through ‘Sam Cam’

People listen more to the opinions of friends, family, work colleagues and partners etc. We listen to people, not computers or faceless organisations. To help influence a wider community, it’s important to get local advocates to be in support of a message first; encouraging employees to act as online brand ambassadors.

  • Tweet not bark

It’s a conversation. Social media is about building 1:1 relationships so always needs a tailored and personal approach to encourage people to engage and react. Target individuals, rather than the masses.

  • Nothing is free

You need to pay for the right social media analytics so that you have the most accurate intelligence on what people are saying about your brand. When armed with the right analytics, you can better understand the trends and insights so you can better act upon them.

  • You don’t learn to bake by watching Bake-off

You need to practice it yourself to really understand and improve the way that you’re using social. Only then can you get the true benefits.

Adam Clatworthy
Account Director


All Aboard! – We’re on track with Thomas the Tank Engine

Posted August 28, 2014

Thomas The Tank Engine

You might have seen it reported on Digital news sites (like this) but if not, we’re delighted to announce that we have won the Social Media brief for HIT Entertainment’s Thomas & Friends, Fireman Sam and Mike the Knight – all iconic and very much loved characters that we’re relishing the chance to bring to life for parents and children.

We’ll be delivering an ‘always on’ content strategy, supported with fully integrated campaigns and community support.

Kate Schlomann, VP Global Brand at HIT Entertainment, said: “As a business, we are focused on telling great stories and creating endearing characters that children and parents want to engage with.  That storytelling goes beyond the content consumed in books or on TV.  We recognise that our core audience of parents spends a significant amount of time online and we want to ensure that for all our brands, whatever the brand life stage, our digital touch points offer the consumer an engaging experience. 3 Monkeys demonstrated that they’d really got under the skin of our brands and have some original and exciting ideas for social content and campaigns moving forwards.”

We’ve already kicked off so be sure to follow the twitter handles of 3 Monkeys, Thomas & Friends, Fireman Sam and Mike the Knight to see what we get up to.

Full steam ahead.

Hugh Burrows

Head of Digital



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