Raise Your Voice – The Social Model of Disability

Awright! I’m Gra, PFM’s Digital Designer, and a disabled creative. On the 9th of February, I gave a talk and chaired a discussion about the social model of disability as the first in a monthly series where PFM-ers talk about the things they care about.


The Medical Model and Social Model of Disability

A disability is “perceived impairments of an individual’s body, emotions, and mind”. Disabilities are defined as “conditions that affect a person’s physical or mental capacity or mobility”.

There are two main approaches to framing disability in society: the medical model centres the person as the problem, whereas the social model argues that barriers put up by society create a “disabling environment” which perpetuates difficulties that they may face. 

For example, while the medical model states that a person with dexterity or strength issues will struggle with opening heavy doors, the social model posits that this is evidence of the “disabling environment”, and that greater accessibility brought by automatic doors will allow that same person to thrive (relatively speaking).


A History Lesson! (in brief…sorta)

The social model came about as a result of a group of disability rights advocates inspired by the Civil Rights Movement. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, groups like the Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation (UPIAS) began to observe their own experiences with a new lens, questioning their relationship with society and its assumptions about their experience.


A “disabling environment”

The idea of a “disabling environment” can be tough to get your head around when you don’t experience it. It manifests in a couple ways…


Environmental Barriers

When you look at the built environment with the social model in mind, it’s much easier to see that (by-and-large) provisions are lacking. The world is built with the majority in mind and provisions are often seen as going above-and-beyond.

Imagine a museum, or just about any building built prior to the ‘80s. You’ve probably been in dozens of them, but we’ll go with a museum because museums are class. It’s much easier to see where provisions may be lacking. 

A physically disabled person approaches the Imaginary Museum and sees that it doesn’t have an accessible entrance: there are no ramps, no handrails, no lifts – nada. And so they’re left with no recourse but to miss the opportunity to see the treasures of antiquity or something.

A cognitively impaired person manages to get in the door, which is great! However, they notice that there isn’t adequate signage. There are no maps, the museum is loud, and they’re left with trouble trying to navigate the space.

A blind or partially sighted person gets in, but there’s no braille signage – and no audio description service available.

These are just a few examples considering the social model, and I’m sure you can think of many yourself. Next time you’re out and about, think about how the space may present a “disabling environment”.


Social Barriers and Attitudes

Social factors play a big part too. As they say, “hell is other people”. People’s attitudes towards the disabled are, for lack of a better word, shi- umm…guff. Apathy, ignorance and outright hostility run deep – it seems bananas, but it’s not hard to spot when you look.

Imagine someone who’s a prat, any prat. You’ve probably met dozens of them this week alone, and we can easily imagine where their mindset may suck. 

They’ve had relatively few interactions with the physically disabled and have a big empathy gap. When they hear about provisions being made at the Imaginary Museum from before, they complain. They say that building work makes the space less accessible to them (I know right – irony!) and that the addition of an accessible entrance ruins the facade of a building they’ve never previously cared about. It’s not even a real building! You’re imagining it right now!

They’ve had even less actual interaction with cognitively impaired people, but when they do, they talk about the person being “difficult” and wonder out loud “where is their carer?”.

They get into an online debate on Twitter – well known to be the best way to resolve society’s ills – with a Deaf or hard of hearing person, arguing that learning BSL in schools throttles budgets and wastes time that kids could spend learning some other thing – trigonometry maybe? Let’s say trigonometry, everyone hates trigonometry.


A “normal life”

Many disabled people will contend at some point in their lives with the idea that a normal life may be unobtainable to them. They’ll be resigned to making their peace with a limiting environment and limiting approaches. This has knock-on effects for us all.

Disabled people face a higher occurrence of depression, anxiety, and substance use disorder, among other “co-occuring disorders”.

If someone is physically disabled, they may come to accept their lack of ability to participate in activities that shouldn’t be impacted. There’s no reason that they can’t go to the Imaginary Museum and appreciate all the rusty bits of axes and the like. The same for a partially sighted person.

A person with a cognitive impairment may come to understand that without adequate provisions, they may never be able to have a career, while being castigated for their perceived “unwillingness/inability to contribute”.


What can we do?

I appreciate that this has all been a bit fraught – it’s frustrating. Everyone deserves the opportunity to thrive and live their life in the manner that they’d like to. But don’t worry! You’ve already done something important. 

Just by reading this far, you’ve done just a wee bit of self-education. You’re an advocate, I declare it. And I really appreciate you taking your time. Unless you skipped to this bit – then go back up and read the flippin’ thing, it’s only NINE HUNDRED WORDS? How did I write that much? It’s still not very much – get on it and meet me back down here where you’re officially declared a ✨superstar ✨. 



If, for some reason, you’d like to chat to me after having read that then shoot me an email at gra@pilotfishmedia.com – I’m always about to talk about inclusion and advocacy.

Why You Need Brand Guidelines

Recently, the team at Pilot Fish Media have been working collaboratively to pivot our brand and delve deeper into our why, mission and tone of voice. The importance of brand guidelines has become much more apparent to us, and in this blog, I’ll be sharing some of our thoughts with you.

A business’ brand is ultimately its most important asset. Not only does a brand reflect a company’s personality, but it also acts as a showpiece, which increases credibility and shows off your values. This is where the brand guidelines come in!


What are brand guidelines?

A set of brand guidelines generally consist of: 

  • The company logo and its variations
  • Colour palette, including hex codes 
  • Typefaces and their use
  • Tone of voice 
  • Imagery 
  • Icons/graphic elements 

The brand book essentially contains the ‘behind the scenes’ of the brand. Here, you’ll find finer details like recommended point sizes for type and the tone of voice for different social media platforms. You’ll also find rules set out that should be adhered to when anyone is creating content. Think of it as your brand’s ‘bible’.


What are the benefits to having brand guidelines? 

In a nutshell, brand guidelines help to:

  • Ensure all brand outputs are cohesive, consistent and recognisable to the public 
  • Allow your employees and clients to understand the nature of your brand 
  • Keep everyone on the same page 
  • Save time when preparing branded documents 
  • Set style standards to ensure your brand’s outputs are ✨glowing✨ 


On the flip side, what are the disadvantages to not having brand guidelines? 

Without a set of guidelines, your brand can be impacted in a number of ways, such as: 

  • Lack of brand consistency, meaning your brand is far less recognisable 
  • Lack of professionalism, which can potentially lead to less custom 
  • Difficulty keeping up engagement with followers/customers/clients 
  • Difficulty standing out against competitors 
  • Unclear brand vision, mission and values (which is often what will set you apart from competitors) 
  • No voice to support your brand 


Why use brand guidelines?

Your guidelines can be used both internally and externally to ensure consistency across all outputs. They help both the company’s employees and clients understand the nature of your brand and your creative do’s and don’ts. Often, the creative team behind the business will put together the brand guidelines, applying their design knowledge to ensure clear execution.

Brand guidelines are a valuable piece of work that will help everyone stay on track and ensure all outputs are cohesive. Without these guidelines, your brand’s message could mistakenly change at any point because a logo was used incorrectly or because an employee didn’t know to use the wordmark instead of a graphic element. 

So, if you or your business are yet to put together a set of brand guidelines, this is your reminder to get the process underway!



Want to chat more about your brand guidelines? Get in touch at lucy@pilotfishmedia.com and I’ll be happy to help!

How To Fall Back In Love With Content Marketing

Creating stand-out content is crucial if you want to maximize your brand’s online presence and the power of your digital touchpoints in 2022. From providing value and encouraging positive brand sentiment to improving organic search visibility and domain authority, the potential benefits of creating great content are limitless.

However, we know that the prospect of creating high-value content can be intimidating, so we’ve created a quick run-down of some of 2022’s top content trends and our tips to help you (hopefully) fall back in love with content creation this year.


It’s (Still) All About Video 

It’s probably not news to anyone that video is set to continue to dominate across all social platforms in 2022. From Instagram Reels and TikToks, to Youtube Shorts, video should definitely be on your radar. In the last few years, and especially since TikTok’s boom in 2020, short-form video has proven to be the most engaging content you can produce for your brand. 

Reels on Instagram are highly favoured by Instagram’s ever-ambiguous algorithm, meaning they are much more likely to gain traction and reach than any feed posts and stories you create. If you want new eyes on your page, you really can’t ignore video. How to embrace it? Have a scroll on your TikTok FYP and Instagram Reels tab, and look out for trends and sounds that you can make relevant to your product or offering. Being timely and relatable is key with short-form video. 


Get Your Audience Involved 

We all know that engagement rate should always be your number one KPI when accessing content performance and an effective way to increase engagement with your brand is to add in interactive elements to your content. Your target audience will be more likely to be compelled by content that allows them to interact and have their voice heard. Think about it, we all consume so much content in a day, sometimes all the images and text blur into one. 

Some ways you can implement this include creating an engaging quiz on your site or utilising the interactivity features on Instagram stories to get your audience talking. 


LinkedIn Is Cool Now

LinkedIn is not boring anymore. Every quarter, the platform reports huge increases in monthly users and engagement on the platform. It’s time to stop overlooking LinkedIn as stuffy or only relevant to ‘the suits’.

If you’re a b2b or service-focused business, don’t underestimate the significance and potential power of your teams’ individual LinkedIn profiles. Your people should be your best ambassadors, and their presence on Linkedin can help communicate your company culture and also help build and nurture relationships with current and prospective clients. Because of the ‘human’ nature of the profile, LinkedIn is a great platform for value-driven storytelling, which will continue to be extremely valuable this year. 

If you need some inspiration, our Head of Agency, Paff, nails their Linkedin personal content. We’re probably biased but the reach and engagement on their posts speak for themselves! 


Leverage User-Generated Content 

User-generated content, whether organic or produced through collaboration (e.g. influencers), should be an integral part of your content strategy. Firstly, utilising UGC allows you to streamline and cut down on the resources involved in the content creation process. Secondly, and most importantly, UGC is very well received by audiences. It can boost your credibility and extend the potential reach of your organic content considerably.

So many brands and businesses have lots of untapped UGC waiting to be used… If you feel like you need some more fresh content, there are also lots of ways you can encourage UGC. For example, you could host a giveaway where followers have to post content to enter or start to share messaging encouraging customers to tag you in their content and use branded hashtags. 


Don’t Give Into the Overwhelm 

Our biggest piece of advice when planning your content creation strategy is to find where your target audience spends the most time and nail your strategy for this platform first. Do you get the best engagement on Instagram reels? Amazing, get filming. Is your email open rate way above industry average? Great, get typing.

As much as it’s important to be agile and reactive, spreading your brand too thin often means that you’re compromising on value and ultimately, content performance. Always start with your strongest platform and don’t be afraid to focus most of your energy there until it’s running like clockwork.


If you need a little extra help staying up to date with all things social, make sure you give us a follow on social or send us an email at shannon@pilotfishmedia.com!

In Other News: MPs Call for Verification Of Social Media Accounts, WhatsApp Stresses Encryption, and The Royal Society Issues Report On COVID Disinformation

This week, we bring you more of the latest social media news to keep you on your toes and, most importantly, up-to-date with all things social! 


MPs demand social media companies block communications from unverified accounts

Following racist abuse faced by footballers following the 2020 Euros, a petition demanding compulsory photo ID verification accrued more than 500,000 signatures from concerned members of the public.

The bid to make such verification compulsory was rejected by the petitions committee, citing concerns that it could unduly target/curtail vulnerable groups freedom of expression (often called “the chilling effect”). However, they made the recommendation that users be given the option to voluntarily verify and to block all incoming communications from unverified users.

Social media companies would then have to demonstrate to Ofcom that they had taken “proportionate steps” to ensure adults were protected from “legal but harmful” abuse online. What exactly could be considered harmful and abusive, but somehow legal remains unclear at the moment.


WhatsApp launches advertising campaign centring encryption

Meta (way back when it was called Facebook) initially announced plans to integrate all of their messaging apps in 2019. A side-effect of this was that every app needed to conform to WhatsApps levels of encryption, which apparently takes about 3 years and one pandemic.

Government agencies and Law Enforcement groups across the globe have raised concerns that this might limit their capability to investigate people’s private conversations, but have assured that they only do so if they’re the baddies. However, the EU has countered that stronger encryption is likely to protect users from threats of blackmail and other kinds of cybercrime.

Conversely, in the years since WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook there has been growing concern over user’s data being shared. WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton stated in 2020 “I sold my users’ privacy to a larger benefit”. This new move suggests that social media companies certainly won’t share users’ private data – unless they really really want to, then they might.


The Royal Society issues report on viral virus content

Following a rash of COVID misinformation, The Royal Society (a name which feels like it should have more words in it*) have suggested that the problematic aspects of removing content that is “legal but harmful” may not outweigh the potential benefits. The Society stressed that science is a process of dispute and change, and that any perceived censorship is antithetical to the scientific method.

However, The Centre for Countering Digital Hate (that’s plenty of words…) countered this, pointing to a video titled “Plandemic” which went viral in 2020, spreading disinformation about vaccines & masks before eventually being taken down after it was deemed both harmful, and difficult to monetise. Its sequel (aptly titled “Plandemic 2”) was restricted much more heavily and failed to make the same mark, a bit like Mean Girls 2.


*they do science stuff by the way






eCommerce Trends To Watch Out For In 2022

I don’t think I need to tell anyone that eCommerce is a part of everyday life for every consumer group as we come to the end of 2021. The inevitable takeover has only been accelerated by Covid-19 and associated lockdowns, with consumers purchasing online more than ever. In fact, 70% of Britons say buying online is now their preferred shopping method.


Looking ahead to 2022, here are 5 key trends I think will shape the world of eCommerce.


Predicted eCommerce trends for 2022:

  • Using social media as a sales channel
  • Increased use of voice search
  • Sustainability
  • Returns will become an even more prominent customer touchpoint
  • Subscriptions & Loyalty programmes


Using social media as a sales channel 

Social media is an incredibly powerful marketing tool for eCommerce brands to utilise. It not only allows them to send direct traffic to their website, but it also gives them the opportunity to create and foster a community which they can nurture to encourage returning custom. Whether it’s through paid social ads, organic content or influencer marketing, social media is the most important marketing tool currently available to drive sales online. 

Unsurprisingly, as social media grows, so too will the ability to sell to customers on their platforms. We’ve actually already written an entire blog about social commerce which you can read here to get ahead of the trend for 2022.


Increased use of voice search

The global increase of voice search has been well documented in recent times. The majority of new devices now come with voice functionality, from your new smart watch to the TV remote. 

Not only are these devices becoming more popular, but they are actually being integrated more into consumers’ day to day lives: “65% of 25-49-year-olds speak to their voice-enabled devices at least once per day.” It’s important to note, however, that it isn’t just the 25-49 year old category that is using this functionality. Both those older and younger are using these devices.

Voice is expected to be a $40 billion channel in 2022, although it only accounts for $2 billion currently. This section of the market is still relatively small and a very viable channel going forward into 2022 and further, which provides an interesting opportunity for D2C businesses to get ahead of the competition by adding focus to voice search in 2022. 



Sustainability is no longer a buzzword reserved for eco-friendly businesses. It’s the reality that modern consumers expect now and will expect in the future. Simply put, if your business isn’t looking to improve on sustainability, but your main competitor is, then you will lose customers. 

Customers are increasingly buying from purpose-driven brands and brands that align with their values, and this isn’t just a trend for 2022. In order to connect with these eco-aware consumers, you need to ensure your business values align with your target audience’s.

An excellent example of a successful sustainable business would be Pangaia. They are by their own admission “a materials science company on a mission to save our environment”, but from any consumer’s perspective, they’re a clothing brand who sell quality recycled/organic clothes. 

Shopify states that within 1 year, they were able to generate $75m in revenue while staying profitable, grow their staff size by 12x and increase their Instagram following by 14x. These statistics clearly showcase that when sustainability is at the forefront of a business, and the consumer aligns with this mission, growth and success are inevitable. 


Returns will become an even more prominent customer touchpoint

We already know that how businesses deal with eCommerce returns can create a competitive advantage. It’s a significant part of the customer experience which can be easily overlooked due to not being particularly glamorous. However, with increased online sales comes increased returns. 

When done correctly, the returns process can massively improve customer return rates. In fact, 92% of customers said they will buy again if the returns process is easy. However, on the flip side, a quarter of shoppers attribute a delay in processing their return to a negative customer experience.

This simply cannot be overlooked, and it needs to be a priority touchpoint for eCommerce brands in 2022. If you have the ability to improve future purchase decisions and increase a customer’s lifetime value, why would you overlook it?


Subscriptions and loyalty programmes

Subscriptions are a great way to increase customer retention rates, which is ultimately at the forefront of any eCommerce brands’ thoughts.

This can be a great tradeoff. Customers get the products they want, regularly and for less. They don’t have to spend time purchasing the product/service regularly or making decisions. Businesses keep the customers they want, for longer and for less cost. It can help with business forecasting and planning for the future – something every business would love to be able to do accurately. However, your business needs to be thinking long term and needs to have the technology in place to implement this. 

As eCommerce continues to grow in 2022, you’ll need to find new ways to differentiate yourself from the competition. Subscription and loyalty services should be in your conversations going forward if they haven’t been already. 



If you’re looking for help moving your eCommerce business forward in 2022, please get in touch with me at marius@pilotfishmedia.com!