Five slow cooked wonders for the weekend

slow cook recipes

Despite all the obvious hurdles that have come our way this year, it’s safe to say that this pandemic has revealed the hidden talents of many cooks and bakers – or at least improved their results – across the globe. From the banana-bread hype, which achieved a record-breaking 525% increase in Google searches, to the […]

Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own photographs of iconic music artists for charity

Mick Jagger

Over 100 iconic prints of world renowned music artists taken by globally celebrated photographers including Rankin, Tony McGee and Jill Furmanovsky are going on sale today.  Available for £95 each, the sale represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a piece of music history, with many of the prints usually unavailable to buy. 100% of proceeds […]

Ace your isolation space

Office space

Your environment makes a big difference to your happiness. We’ve sourced 10 ways to make yours more positive, straight from the experts While we can’t single-handedly solve the COVID-19 crisis or sort out British politics, we can control our personal environment. Be it your WFH space or just your relaxing home environment, the benefits of an […]

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 […]

Is Writing for Robots the Future of Online Content Creation? (Part One)

Have you ever wanted to find information on something but not known exactly what to search on Google? We’ve all been there and ended up typing (after an almost headache-inducing process) something that we’re convinced might make the processing chip in our device fry up from trying to parse the gibberish we’ve typed. Yet somehow […]

What Can Content Creators do About the Google Medic Update?

Doctor holding stethoscope - Google medic update

Ever had symptoms and gone straight to Google to do a bit of research to find out what’s going on with your body? Of course you have. From articles on huge branded websites to small forums of people talking about medical conditions, the internet is a popular starting point for self-diagnosis. Let’s keep it real. […]

How content marketing, touchpoints and the purchase funnel are an ecosystem

Woman using two devices - marketing touchpoints

In marketing, the term touchpoint is defined as any form of interaction a consumer has with a business, and now, more than ever, consumers have so many platforms and ways to communicate, gain information and engage with brands. From looking at ads in print magazines to reading reviews on blogs in the virtual space, the […]

Online Content: Has Mobile Killed The Desktop Star?

mobile content

Trevor Horn, one of the members of synth-pop group The Buggles, said of writing their hit song Video Killed The Radio Star, ‘… it was like you could see the future… Something new is coming, something different… You could feel things changing.’ Horn was referring to the changing landscape of music in the late 70s, […]

📑 Challenges for Membership Organisations in the 21st Century (White paper)

Football fans

River and Fish announce the publication of their first white paper on membership: Challenges for Membership Organisations in the 21st Century. With the average UK adult belonging to five organisations, membership can be big business, but the challenges of loyalty and time imposed by 21st-century life need to be considered and overcome. Cementing Fish as the membership organisation authority, […]

How River CEO built a marketing agency with an 80% female workforce

Nicki Murphy

This is how Nicki Murphy, River CEO, bucked the industry trend to build an agency with a female workforce at its core. It was 1994, the Chinese Year of the Dog, the year Kurt Cobain died, The Lion King and Forrest Gump were released in cinemas, and John Major was Prime Minister. But it was […]

River Predicts: The future of fitness

Fitness technology

It’s that time of year again. New Year, New You, New Start. Going on a diet, fitness goals and divorce papers. Many of you reading this have resolved that in 2019 that you will get fit, stop smoking and eat more nuts. As ever, many will try, some will succeed, some will fail – and […]

Should my brand start a podcast?

The River Group’s Digital Manager Andy Greening discusses whether now is the right time for your brand to branch out into the world of podcasting as the format becomes more popular than ever. When I first started working in marketing, the concept of a brand using Facebook or any other social media platform to market […]

What is the problem with influencer marketing and is blockchain a way to fix it?

Influencer Marketing and Blockchain

Social media has given people the opportunity to express themselves like never before. Those who make it ‘big’ on a platform are targeted by brands of all sizes looking for influencers to help spread their marketing messages. In 2017, 86% of marketers used influencer marketing and 92% felt it was an effective strategy according to […]

Understanding the role of user intent in online content marketing

user intent

When it comes to online content marketing, understanding and satisfying user intent is the best way to be discoverable and cure a pain point along the customer journey. User intent One plus one still equals two, water is still very much wet, the Earth is still flat (contrary to some people’s beliefs), and a simple […]

Why adland is failing to represent the reality of what it means to be a modern man

The changing face of masculinity in advertising

The advertising industry needs to wake up to the fact that masculinity takes many forms in modern society. Brand feminism is on the rise, with female stereotypes being (rightly) smashed to smithereens thanks to a surge in ads that focus on female empowerment. Campaigns such as Sport England’s This Girl Can and Always’ Like A […]

Going Beyond the Engagement Rate Percentage: Sentiment Analysis


As marketers, we continuously benchmark ourselves against our competitors and our own efforts year-on-year. We do this from a quantitative and qualitative basis, but there is something many companies fail to do – actually look beyond the engagement rates. Is your content generating positive, neutral or negative conversations? This brings me on to sentiment analysis. […]

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 […]

Opportunities & Threats: Customer Publishing 2018

laptop streaming content

2017 saw a number of transformative events that shaped the content publishing industry. But three stand out for me as having particular significance for our industry. The first is Rupert Murdoch’s dismantling (or pivoting as he calls it) of his empire through the sale of his most lucrative assets to Disney. There are lots of […]

Voice Search and Innovation Trends of 2018

voice search - Amazon Alexa

Remember when we all first got Siri on our Apple devices? Users would ask their iPhone 4s, ‘What’s the meaning of life?’ or ‘How much wood could a woodchuck chuck?’ Fast-forward to today and the innovation that is voice recognition has moved on – a lot… Voice recognition 62% of Brits are already using or […]

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.

Content We Love #7 April Fools

April Fools’ Day has always been a great opportunity for publishers and brands to have some fun at the expense of their readers, with Social Media only helping spread the news.

Why psychology and marketing go hand in hand

Before I ever picked up a marketing book or walked into a lecture hall at university, I had more than a faint idea that psychology played a part in the process of marketing. To a certain extent, aside from the creative side of marketing, this is probably what drew me to studying the subject.

Content we love #5 | Live Video and Social Media

Live video is the latest buzzword in social but, as a concept, if we take into consideration our television viewing habits, it’s far from new. However, unlike television, live streaming is the raw unfiltered alternative which is catching everyone’s attention. In an age of never wanting to miss out, live video is an open invitation to be fully part of the moment alongside the video creators.

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.

Podcast Formats

There was a time when podcasts essentially just provided a catch-up service for radio but in the last few years this landscape has changed dramatically

The Best Christmas Ads of 2016

With the aid of social media, Christmas adverts are more than just stopgaps between your favourite TV shows; they are pieces of short film which are shared and watched by millions of users, making Christmas adverts in this age bigger than ever.

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.

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 […]

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.

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

White Paper: From Digital To Print – The 360 degree revolution of content

Digital hasn’t destroyed the value of every other media, it has in fact fuelled our curiosities to explore more – discovering new artists through a friend’s recommendation on Facebook, back issues of a rediscovered special interest magazine, or an Amazon review that convinced you that this self-help book will change my life.

A word to the wise: customer engagement in brand marketing publications

A study in the US of news sites from 2008 to 2012 found that only 0.1 per cent of the most viewed stories were user generated. Although social media is a frequent ‘breaker’ of stories, 77 per cent of people who hear about a story through this platform will seek more information through a traditional news provider, finds the Pew Research Center’s State of News Media report.

Print and digital: a hybrid future

Printed media simply can’t keep up with the speed and findability of digital; by the time news has been committed to paper, it’s already old. Digital content feeds the consumer demand for immediate information or entertainment at little or no cost to the reader. Without the need for printed press processes, the production time and costs for digital content can be reduced.

How to internationalise your publishing strategy

Editorial pillars and brand values are the same in every Weight Watchers edition – but there are many differences. No one has longer words than the Germans, so when features are translated they can be up to a third longer. It can cause issues with the cover lines – we can’t have a word on the cover with 20 letters!

Wearables and the future of content

Wearable technologies are not new. You have probably seen wrist heart-rate monitors, a wearable GPS, or possibly one of the tiny watch TVs that have been around since the 1980s. The current generation of wearables are all designed to connect to existing devices, particularly smartphones.

Steffan Aquarone on 2014 trends in online video

The hardest part is making content people really want to watch. People don’t care about your products and services. With the tap of a finger, people can change the channel and watch anything that’s available on the web. Making content that stands out and holds people’s attention doesn’t have to mean filming cats on skateboards or shocking humour – but it does have to serve its audience first and your brand’s PR agenda second.

Inspiration is everywhere

I think this highlights that personal creativity is everywhere, you’ve just got keep your eyes and mind open. Don’t be afraid to try something different. Some of my best design work has come from ‘happy accidents’ where I have experimented whilst painting, and recently with photography and video.

What is your data worth?

Discerning and digitally savvy consumers expect brands to understand them and anticipate what they are looking for. We can learn to deliver meaningful experiences by harnessing the insights of ‘small 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.

Solve the big 4 content marketing challenges in 2014

2014 is the year considered, strategic content marketing will grow from a ‘should do’ to a ‘must do’ activity for credible brands intent on building meaningful engagements with savvy customers. Here are four tips for resolving the challenges ahead:

Whatever happened to the Oxo family? Social media this Christmas

So all might have changed by next Christmas. Maybe it will be me, upstairs in my bedroom lounging in bed, glass in hand, posting my piccies on Flickr and blogging away on Tumblr. The kids will be at the bottom of the stairs shouting, “Come on Mum. Now. We want to spend time with you. Please come down and be with us.

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?

Christmas in July: Magazine editing for the seasons

I have just packed up the Christmas decorations, taken the Christmas cards down from the mantelpiece and the Christmas tree is lying in the garden. It’s the 12th of July and Christmas is over in my house! Together with my team from River I’ve just finished a two-day photo shoot for The Co-operative Food magazine’s Christmas issue

What makes good content? Q&A with Susi O’Neill, Head of Digital


This article by River Group’s newly appointed Head of Digital and Content, Susi O’Neill, was originally featured in .NET magazine in April.
What makes good content?

Content marketing isn’t new – content has always driven communications online. Good content is informative or entertaining, and always engaging. Make your content purposeful: what problem will you solve for your prospective customer? What call-to-action will they take? Use that eye-catching infographic to move your audience further into your engagement programme or sales funnel.

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.

The challenges of magazine cover art in the digital age

You can’t judge a book by its cover.

And if you do, you have no idea just how 19th century you are.

Whatever the origin of this pithy aphorism (widely attributed to Mr Tulliver in George Eliot’s The Mill on The Floss, saying how beautifully bound a book was), judging a book, a magazine or a person, by their cover is what we do all the time. Yet in this age of digi-everything, the challenges of making your cover art dazzle are greater than ever.

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.