The power of giving

These are strange days indeed. Frightening and interesting in equal measure. The frightening aspect will hopefully pass, and this writer does not wish to comment on that other than wishing the reader a safe passage. What is interesting, though, is observing how society and business are adapting and thinking about how we will exit this […]

The power of suggestion

For anyone who has ever tried to get a small child to eat their dinner or tidy their room, there is a universal truth. Shouting doesn’t work. Turning it into a game involving a spoon masked as an imaginary aeroplane, or a race to see how quickly your toys can get back in their box, […]

Practice makes perfect

Business podcasts

If you want to be good at skateboarding, you know what you have to do? That’s right, practise skateboarding – a lot. Practice makes perfect, as our parents used to say to us when we’d tired of trying to master whatever wholly unsuitable musical instrument had been thrust upon us age five. The violin? Really? […]

Who should tell your story?

Business podcasts - User-generated content marketing

User-generated content (UGC) has come a long way since we gathered in the sitting room to observe ourselves silently having a picnic on the beach for two minutes. For some of us it reached its zenith with You’ve Been Framed or Kids Say The Funniest Things on Saturday night primetime TV, but let’s accept that […]

Be something that matters

Restructuring Growth for Business podcasts - Membership Organisations

Membership organisations have been around since the time of the ancient Greeks when people were allowed to associate independently for a variety of reasons as long as they kept within the law. During medieval times these’ clubs’ were more akin to informal gatherings of friends for drinking (how nothing changes) but evolved during the 17th […]

Content and the power of outliers

Content Talks Podcast - in-house marketing team vs an agency

Outlier – a person or thing differing from all other members of a particular group or set. When it comes to solving complex problems, personal or otherwise, we often ask others for advice. We surmise that it’s important to get another perspective. Why is this? Well, it’s because not everyone thinks like we do or […]

What is your brand for?

Content Talks Podcast - How to build a brand halo

Never let it be said that the marketing industry doesn’t love a good trend. We spend a lot of our time waiting for the next one, hoping and praying that we can join its long trail of pilgrims.  All drunk on the Kool-Aid, all eager to say we saw the light and thankful it brings […]

Be less ordinary – why print matters in business

Business magazine

The 2010s saw a maelstrom of change by anyone’s standards. As we enter a new decade, it’s worth reminding ourselves that back in the day tablets were for taking with food, watches just told you the time, and drones were people you avoided at a dinner party. For those of us in business, the rapid […]

River Predicts: Healthcare in 2044

Healthcare - Capsules

We are in the middle of a healthcare revolution, although you may not have realised it. Every few decades, healthcare experiences disruptive changes that lead to revolution. In the 1870s, germ theory, antiseptic and advances in anaesthesia meant you were less likely to lose your life if you lost a limb. In the early 20th […]

River Predicts: Automotive in 2044

Delorean car

There probably isn’t a better marriage than that of the music and the car industries. Just like the many songs written about driving, cars have stories to tell. They talk of freedom, mobility, status and individuality. ‘Here in my car, I feel safest of all, I can lock all my doors, it’s the only way […]

River Predicts: This is what tourism will look like in 25 years

aerial shot of huts in the sea

Immersive experiences, smart tourism and ‘Fair BNB’ – Alex Marks gives his thoughts on what the tourism industry will look like in a quarter of a century. Everyone loves holidays, with sun, sea and sangria. Most of us take them for granted. Tourism is perhaps one of the world’s biggest industries, and yet as we […]

River predicts: What will utilities look like in 2044?

earth from space

Becoming a ‘utility’ must be what every service provider both aspires to and dreads in equal measure. From being a highly valued resource that delights the customer, you become something that ‘just happens’, so your value drops. This isn’t an article about the future of fuel – if it were, we’d have to choose from […]

Photography trends: The future of photography and why you’ll soon be wearing your camera

Man wearing VR headset

What are the photography trends of the future? Alex Marks sees these five camera products, techniques and concepts developing. ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’, they say, which was probably marketing gold to camera manufacturers in the 19th century. And despite initial underwhelming results, they eventually managed to convince us that viewing blurry images […]

Food trends: What your dining-out experience will look like in 25 years

Futuristic restaurant

Alex Marks explains how changing restaurant and food trends will dramatically impact the way you dine out – and sooner than you think. Humankind has been paying for meals outside the home since the time of the ancient Greeks, but it was the French who gave us the word ‘restaurant’ sometime in the early 16th […]

River Predicts: Food in 2044

Woman holding a basket in a farm

‘Food, glorious food! Hot sausage and mustard! While we’re in the mood, cold jelly and custard!’ …Sings no one any more because we’ve been told that sausages give you cancer and custard is a gateway food to type 2 diabetes. Our usage of and attitude towards food has changed a lot over the years. A […]

River Predicts: travel and tourism in 2044

In the 1990 film Total Recall (a film set in the future in case you needed context), there is a memorable conversation between Arnie’s character, Douglas Quaid, and a travel agent, which goes something like this: ‘What is it that is exactly the same about every single vacation you have ever taken?’ Quaid: ‘I give […]

River Predicts: Clothing & Fashion in 2044

The future of clothing and fashion

If there was one thing that sci-fi writers of the past were sure about it was that spandex cat suits, gold or silver, would be de rigueur when it came to clothing in the 21st century. Sadly, none of them seem to have predicted a global obesity crisis, which, if it continues to escalate, may […]

River and Fish Predict: Professional Membership Organisations in 2044

membership - sports team

At the last count there were, if you include the unions, more than 500 professional membership organisations in the UK with around 20 million members. So the chances are that you or someone else reading this article is more than familiar with acronyms such as CIM, RCN, CIMA, HRLA, TUC, ICE and WARB. Spoiler: one […]

Cash and the high-street bank in 2044


We all went a little mad about money in 2018. There was the rush to find the face of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and turn 50p into £500, followed by a desperate hunt (somewhere in Wales, I think) for the £5 with Harry Kane’s face on it. As ploys to make us think about cash, they were […]

River Predicts: Work in 2044

Predicting the future of work

‘Welcome, robots. You’ll help us. But humans are still our future.’ Joe Kaeser, president and CEO of Siemens AG Which is a reassuring statement from someone who should know what they are talking about. This author still has nearly 20 years before he can claim his pension and it would be easy to get a […]

River Predicts: Manufacturing in 2044


There’s a lot written about the decline of manufacturing in the UK: how we’ve stopped making things and become a nation of call centre operatives. While we are no longer the world’s leading industrial power, the manufacturing sector still accounts for 45% of our exports and between 2012 and 2017 was outstripping the growth of […]

River Predicts: High Street Retail in 2044

Future of high street retail

The health of our retailers has long been a part of our collective psyche. Not since a short, French war-monger (that’s Napoleon to you) labelled us ‘a nation of shop keepers’ does a day go by without some comment or more recently, dire warning on the success or failure of our high street stores. Online […]

River Predicts: The future of beauty 2044

The future of beauty in 2044

Predicting the future isn’t always as difficult as you might think. In most market sectors there are long-term trends, environmental factors and technological developments that you can identify and follow their likely path to a reasonable conclusion. The beauty market is a little more difficult. Something that’s ‘so hot right now’ can disappear in an […]

River Predicts: Entertainment in 2044

Predicting the future of entertainment

The act of providing or being provided with amusement or enjoyment is how ‘entertainment’ is defined. It is a broad church – from watching someone trip over in the street to jumping out of an aeroplane without a parachute, sports, theatre, film, music and everything in between. In 1980, ‘Lights going out and a kick […]

River Predicts: Social Media in 2044

Two girls taking a selfie - social media

For years we have been informed about the ever-increasing adoption of the internet, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that now, in 2018, it is pretty much ubiquitous. You would, of course, be wrong. Of an estimated global population of 7.6 billion in 2018, just over half are online. That’s around 3.5 billion people who […]

River Predicts: The home in 2044

Spoiler alert! The home of the future is unlikely to be a curvy white pod on stalks. Yes, some parts of the world might resemble the set of Logan’s Run, but most of the houses standing in 2044 have already been built. The shell will remain familiar, but it will be a very different story […]

River Predicts: Education 2044

It is often said that education is the foundation upon which a country is built. That it is through education that we help our children to reach their full potential. And that’s why I think Voldemort waited until the end of the school year to kill Harry. Showing that despite his flaws he really cared […]

River Predicts: The Luxury consumer in 2044

It is often said that one person’s ‘tasteful hall of opulent mirrors’ is another’s ‘vulgar waste of an idiot’s money’ – usefully illustrating the challenge of trying to define a sector that defies definition. For a long time, our perception of luxury was all about the supercar, the designer handbag, the perfect timepiece and the […]

River Predicts: Fundraising in 2044

For those of a certain age, your initial introduction to the charity sector was quite possibly the rather genteel ‘totaliser’ on Blue Peter and the ‘bring and buy’ sales. For those a little younger, it was a big hairy Irishman shouting ‘give us your f***ing money’ – and ever since, the record, the relief and […]

High Street Closures and Brand Deaths – Retail in 2018

Spring is traditionally a time of hope and renewal. As Tolstoy put it, ‘Spring is the time of plans and projects.’ (Can’t believe you quoted Tolstoy, Ed.) Yet somehow this spring 2018 doesn’t feel quite so positive. Some put the blame at the door of Brexit, the chaos in the White House and that Bowie […]

Three’s a crowd, four’s a party


It hasn’t exactly been one for the ages in 2018 so far. January was largely flu-filled and February wasn’t a whole heap better. It ended with a lazily titled ‘Beast from the East’ (surely ‘From Russia with Love’ would have been more appropriate?) to welcome us into March. A petulant toddler continues to reside in […]

Content Thought Leadership – Utilities

Utilities industry are facing a problem. We will always need heat, light and water so that in itself isn’t a threat, how we manage them is changing quickly.

Content Thought Leadership – Professional Services

The whole professional services industry – legal, financial, accountancy and management consultancy – has seen both legislature and advancements in technology create real challenges for an industry that is notoriously conservative when it comes to change.

The rise and rise of Healthtech

There are more than 165,000 health-related apps on iTunes, the majority offering services focused on prevention. It’s not just consumers that use healthtech…

The Automotive Ecommerce Experience

Buying a car, it seems, is still fraught with anxiety for many of us. The abundance of choice and optional extras can make it a stressful experience, from the first tyre-kicking visit to the dealer, to the fear of being ripped off or signing up to something you may not need.

Generation Z and Shopping

Every generation is shaped by the events that surround them: the strength of the economy, changing social mores, access to information, the health of the nation and even, dare we say it, political events.

Marketing to Millennials

So, half the year is gone – welcome to June. Host of summer, the longest day, and, if you believe Sir Billy Connolly, knighted last year for ‘services to colourful language’, the only month in Scotland that isn’t winter.

Content Marketing In Gaming

Those of you with a genteel disposition might be pleased to know that May is a fine time for floral blooms; not for nothing is it known as the month of growth and replenishment. Indeed, the world famous Chelsea Flower Show is held this very month. For those that prefer more drink-fuelled, tribal pursuits, we have the FA Cup final or London Wine Week.

How Sally changed our lives…

Sally Brampton, who died this week, was Healthy magazine’s Agony Aunt for three years, from January 2010 to December 2013.

Marketing Communication

April is one of the shorter sections in the ‘facts about’ book we’ve been using as an aide-memoire in writing our beloved Contentology. It has a funny day at the beginning, and Easter a few days later, unless it’s in March, which, as we know, it was this year! There was an early reference to the […]

St David, St Patrick and Vinyl Records

As March comes to a close, we realise what a busy month it’s been! Unusually, Easter came early (still unclear why) and there’s been 2 home nation saints days which happily co-insided with much of the 6 nations rugby!

Secrets of entrepreneurial success revealed

Nicki Murphy

Our CEO, Nicola Murphy, was invited to speak at The Business Magazine’s prestigious Southern Entrepreneurs dinner to reveal her journey to business success. Nicola’s honest account of starting the award-winning company in a basement in soho with just two computers, and winning the first client with an ‘interesting’ presentation and a box of chocolates, kept the room of 50 business owner peers captivated and entertained.

River’s Got Talent!

One of the things we’re proudest of at The River Group is the number of young people we have trained, nurtured and watched grow into outstanding content marketers. Last night saw official recognition of this when we won the prestigious PPA New Talent Award for New Consumer Specialist/Customer Journalist of the Year.

Contentology #11

It may not feel like it right now but the Celts regarded February as the start of spring. Which shows how much they knew.

Actually, the word February is only about 100 years old. In Shakespeare’s time, it was known as Feverell, and Isaac Newton would have called it Februeer.

February used to be a time for purification and cleansing before the spring. Indeed, the passing of Shrove Tuesday and the beginning of Lent was a time for fasting and quietness. Now, of course, after a month’s resolution-driven abstinence in January, we party like it’s Freshers’ Week and spend £0.5bn on Valentine’s Day.

A month for contemplation

We trust you are refreshed after your festive break and full of resolve that 2016 will be an even better year for you and yours than 2015. On the other hand, maybe you are just full of remorse and loathing from the drunken shenanigans you unusually, but predictably, partook in.

The elephant in the room is the festival of Christmas

If ever there was a time for stories, it’s got to be December. The 10th month of the Roman calendar is full to the brim with myths, legends and a few other things that might have actually happened.

Obviously, the elephant in the room is the festival of Christmas. It dominates our national psyche, calendar and spending habits throughout this month – and even before! Not to mention our religious proclivities and our sudden inclination to show up at church for just the one time in the year. But the ‘greatest story ever told’ has much more to it than meets the eye.

November spawned a monster…

November spawned a monster – so sang Steven from Manchester in 1990. If you are over 35, you’ll know who I mean. If not, go look it up on YouTube. And yes, most of his songs were that miserable and, no, that’s not proper dancing.

A spookily horrifying dog-whipped October

October is a bit of a gift for Contentologists. Not only do the leaves on the trees start to turn different colours and fall off, but it’s a month with a multitude of tales and stories to tell.

High Street Blues

It seems we are starting to get bored with consistency and convenience. The notion that we can buy fresh meat, DVDs and a pair of socks from the same shop – even if it does sound ridiculous written down – appears to be wearing thin. Back in the day, our parents would have had to visit separate shops to get those items, including a shop housing a time machine, because DVDs hadn’t yet been invented!

Talking ’bout my generation

Every generation in the last 60 years or so has had a name, it seems. We’ve had Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y/Millennials, and now we have Generation Z. The oldest of this new generation are barely 18 years old, and yet we are already in the process of understanding how we can sell to them. Or should that be understanding what their hopes and dreams are?

Good point. Well made.

It’s not often that you see a rock star sharing a table with two of adland’s finest, but we saw it a week or so ago at the Cannes Lions festival. For those of you not familiar with the festival, it’s the annual week-long thrash where those in the creative industries get to flaunt it, push it, shout it, snort it and sometimes win awards for their work.

Contentology #5

So school’s out and we are just about ready to go on holiday. But worry not if you have neither children nor the means, for there is much else about July to be grateful for.

Why brands really are the new creative force

Brands are becoming publishers, so said everyone quite a while ago. Those same people probably forgot that brands have been publishing content since John Deere wanted to make farmers happy by producing The Furrow magazine back in 1895.

In the Balance of Probabilities

It’s official, summer is here and Wimbledon is just around the corner. Unless, of course, you live in Chessington, in which case it’s a short drive down the A3. Badum tish! June is also the month of the longest day, the 21st, and Midsummer Day, the 24th, when in olden times people lit bonfires to […]

The power of comedy

In the second Contentology bulletin, The River Group considers the power of comedy in content marketing…

The science of content marketing

In the first of three investigative articles, The River Group considers the past, present and future of content marketing, starting with the meaning of data

The power of storytelling

Great stories don’t always come in the form of a book. The art of storytelling has improved as brands and advertisers recognise its power.

Things can only get better if we stop chasing algorithms

The digital age has given us many things, but the one thing that has really changed the game is that it has given us unprecedented access to information, and an unprecedented ability to challenge and discuss it. We are probably the most educated generation in history. Information can be captured, altered and spread at a rate that traditional channels can’t keep up with.

Health research: The future of health and wellness

So what does the future hold for our health and wellness industry? How are consumers changing? And will developments in technology help us to manage the shifting landscape of challenges we face?

And above all what does this mean for those businesses involved in developing products and services for the sector?

The challenge of the ubiquity of content in content marketing

Can you imagine going to a restaurant and ordering some food? No, actually ordering, just ‘food’. Then maybe ordering some ‘drink’.

Perhaps when you go shopping you like to buy some general ‘clothes’? Your next major purchase might be a ‘car’ or perhaps your Saturday afternoons are spent shouting with thousands of other people at a couple of ‘football teams’?

Content matters: the purpose of content marketing

Image by Caroline Andrieu

it’s no surprise that content marketing has come to the fore. Content is by and large self-selecting. It is also immersive, emotive, and the customer gets to choose when, where and how often it is consumed.

Darwinism in Action: adapting to survive in publishing

Image source: Wikipedia

The greatest civilisations eventually fall. So goes the accepted wisdom. Actually whose accepted wisdom it was I can’t recall but it does sound very wise indeed. Although perhaps not as wise as Darwin’s proclamation that “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

Future Proof: five predictions for the future of content

I love writing about the future. It’s the one way I get to say whatever I like and you are only allowed to disagree with me in the mildest fashion. This is because you are not Doctor Who.

So I predict that in 10 years we will be able to invite holograms of our dead relatives to dinner and converse with them as if they we really there. Don’t believe me? Then watch the first episode of the latest series of Charlie Brooker’s ‘Black Mirror’ and think again.

Content marketing: the answer isn’t always more

We do, it is fair to say, have a bit of an obsession with growth. It is arguably one of the key tenets of capitalist society that ‘more is good’. Whether that be GDP and company profits at the business end of the spectrum, personal wealth somewhere in the middle, or a collection of books right at the other. Now, this writer doesn’t wish to debate the semantics of finite resources or the morality of wealth at this juncture, but suffice to say it does shine a number of uncomfortable lights upon the world of marketing.