Fintech PR Case Study: Promoting the UK as a Fintech Leader

The representative body for the UK fintech industry, Innovate Finance (IF), needed help to build media interest, social engagement and awareness of the first-ever UK Fintech Week (UKFW).

Our strategy

We developed a three-pronged approach in which we…

  • …set up and ran UKFW social media channels fueled by channel specific content plans, engagement guidelines and creative campaigns.
  • …produced monthly newsletters for IF subscribers to build momentum, promote the launch of UKFW, its associated and partner-run events and the annual Innovate Finance Global Summit.
  • …designed a PR strategy drawing on IF’s fintech expertise to raise awareness of UKFW among key media in the preceding months and to generate messaging-led interviews with the lead spokesperson during the week itself.

The results

In three months, the efforts to raise awareness of the first ever UKFW delivered:

  • Six interviews with tier one media targets (including The Financial Times, The Fintech Times, FS Tech and P2P Finance News).
  • Five national media hits each including unique UKFW mentions.
  • 42 trade publication hits including 66 UKFW mentions.
  • 121 instances of key messages secured in media.
  • #UKFW trending on Twitter.
  • More than 4.6m social impressions, and 4.7K engagements over the week itself.

Find out more about our fintech PR services.

 

 

How to get into PR – advice from the pros

We recently had a conversation in the office about our routes into our PR careers, and one topic that kept on recurring is just how competitive it is. This got us thinking – is the number of talented graduates heading into PR on the rise? To find out, we submitted Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to the top 10 universities for media and communications degrees, as specified by the Complete University Guide.

Nearly all the universities we approached reported a huge rise in the number of students studying media and communications degrees. For example, the University of Southampton reported a 77% increase in student intake for the academic years 2015/16 to 2019/20, while the University of Loughborough reported a 71% increase, and Cardiff University a 70% rise for the years 2015/16 to 2018/19.

Given the increased competition, how can you stand out from the crowd and get that proverbial first foot in the door? And do you really need a degree to get a job in PR? We asked some of the most seasoned professionals at TopLine for their advice on how to get into PR.

Do you need a degree?

Our CEO, Heather, believes that a degree, especially a communications degree, isn’t a fundamental requirement. She said: “Some of the best people we’ve hired at TopLine haven’t been to university. Rather, you need a gritty work ethic sprinkled with a good dose of creative flair, and a strong interest in the sector you’ll be focusing on. These traits will have the biggest impact on your success.”

Luke, our Head of PR and SEO, agrees. He said: “I studied English Literature and Language at university, and I liked writing, so getting into PR was a good option for me. However, I ended up spending 18 months job hunting, going to more than 10 interviews. The problem was that I lacked experience, but I couldn’t get that experience if nobody was prepared to give me a chance.

“This classic chicken and egg situation stuck with me, and it’s something we now consider when recruiting for entry-level jobs. We’ve hired a few people over the years without degrees or experience, and they’ve turned out to be superb.”

Consider an internship or work without pay

Our digital strategist, Tom, believes experience in the industry will put you one step ahead of the competition. He said: “I decided to be proactive and went in search of a summer job at an agency to get a feel for the environment. I simply googled ‘PR agency’ and selected the first three I spotted [our SEO services vindicated]. I emailed each a concise and polite message, expressing my interest in a possible internship to gain some experience. I included a summary of my current situation and attached my CV.

“Two replied and agreed. I got to attend strategy meetings, assist with pitching, and draft some copy. Apart from travel expenses, it was unpaid work, but the experience you gain in the process is the reward.”

However, that doesn’t mean you should leave non-comms related experience off your CV. Tom said: “Remember to include hospitality jobs (like bar tending) on your CV. It’s also client-facing work, and shows employers that you have what it takes to deal with people and handle potentially tricky situations under pressure.”

The importance of a good CV

For Katy, Head of Client Relations at TopLine, having a well-written CV is of paramount importance if you want a job in comms. A carefully considered CV without any errors demonstrates that you have an attention to detail and can summarise key points in an engaging way; essential skills for any PR professional.

Heather adds that “freelance writing samples, a decent blog and an established social media profile, are also valuable when you apply for a job. Most importantly, however, is a CV free of typos and grammar errors. Combining this with thorough research on the company you’re applying to will ensure your application ends in the top 5%.”

Go into your interview with some PR and journalism knowledge

Jamie, one of our Comms Executives, counts himself lucky. He said: “I studied journalism at university and wrote for a couple of regional newspapers prior to joining TopLine. This gave me a solid understanding of journalism and communications, which I was able to demonstrate in my CV and job interview with TopLine.

“But don’t be too concerned if you have an unrelated degree or no degree at all. One of the most essential skills for a successful PR professional to have is a keen news sense, which essentially means being able to spot and develop a good news story. By consuming lots of news in print, online, and broadcast, you’ll develop an excellent news sense that any reputable PR company will value.

“There are also lots of resources you can read to develop your understanding. Journalism Principles and Practices by Tony Harcup and The Universal Journalist by David Randall are both books we were advised to read at university and will give you an insight into the inner workings of the media. You should also check out Tony Harcup and Deidre O’Neill’s ‘What is News? Galtung and Ruge Revisited’, which gives an excellent introduction to news values and what makes a good story.”

Industry publications such as PR WeekThe DrumMarketing Week and Search Engine Land (if SEO is going to be part of your remit) are also useful resources.

Pick up as many skills as you can

Heather emphasises that having a wide range of communications skills will make you stand out to prospective employers. She said: “Some of these skills you’ll learn on the job, but getting a head start will improve your chances of being hired. Learn how to use Adobe InDesign and Photoshop, take a course in photography or film production, read a book on how to write copy, and listen to podcasts on business strategy. Then, brag about these skills in your CV and interview, and sit back while the job offers roll in.

“We’ve also put together a PR Masterclass specifically for beginners and students (paid for resource). It’ll help you with everything from journalist outreach to maximising engagement with your content.”

Want to learn more about PR? Take our Udemy course, ‘The Ultimate Public Relations Masterclass’.

All’s fair in social media… and politics

It’s election week, and the news (and our social feeds) are dominated by party mantras, opinions, and memes. Social media has radically changed since Barack Obama’s first election, just over a decade ago, which was considered by many to be the first to leverage the power of social media. Now, in a post-Cambridge Analytica era, it feels as though boundaries are pushed ever further for political gain. From the controversy surrounding fact-checker UK, to Twitter’s ban on political advertising to limit microtargeting, it’s a complex topic. We all know about the newspapers’ various biases and the restrictive rules regulating politics on TV, but the standards for social media are still in flux. At TopLine Comms, we know a fair bit about media relations, and even we’re asking ourselves: is all fair in social media and politics?

The positives

Digital campaigning for a digital era

Everybody knows that print has declined in favour of digital, but social media is forecast to overtake print in terms of global ad spend for the first time this year. Social media ranks third overall in terms of political advertising, according to the research, behind paid search and TV. This makes sense, as social media offers a powerful ‘owned’ and ‘paid’ channel that is entirely – or almost entirely – in the hands of the parties themselves. This directness is perfect for the fast-moving world of politics and news.

Engaging young voters

The shakeup of media channels is particularly relevant for millennial voters. Millennials make up an estimated 17 million votes in the UK, or just over a third of voters. Youth turnout was its highest in the 2017 elections – the year dubbed the ‘youthquake’. Social media has allowed parties to engage with these digital natives, but this isn’t simply a matter of choosing the right channel, it’s also about culture. These politically essential generations have grown up alongside the internet, they understand the distinct culture and tone of online communication. Politicians who can communicate with them on their terms have an advantage.

Humanising politicians

Allowing voters a glimpse into their personal feeds allows politicians to present themselves as individuals, and make a more human connection with voters. Similarly, the nature of social media prescribes that content must be accessible and not overly complicated or convoluted. The level playing field that this provides means that ordinary people can now tweet their MP, or even party leader, and they may even get a response. The previous barriers to direct communication have been removed, and access has become democratised.

The negatives

Trust – the all important factor

Authenticity and credibility are critical in both social media and politics and combining the two only exacerbates these issues. Add to this the previously mentioned Cambridge Analytica scandal, and it becomes clear that trust is the single largest hurdle facing online campaigns. The scandal manifested widespread concerns about personal data and had a major impact on how voters perceive campaigns’ online presences. Both platforms and parties are working to repair this trust, but without more stringent measures in place to verify content, trust remains a challenge.

Usage and bias

Usage and bias are two major challenges to social media’s role in politics. In 2018, Statista reported that globally, people spend an average of 136 minutes on social media every day. Unlike other channels, such as broadcast and print, we have a more limited ability to filter out messages, meaning that there’s an omnipresent subtext that can be taken advantage of. Second, as an owned channel, social media presents a forum for a dominant ideology to exist, potentially unchallenged, and unbalanced.

Politics and personalities

As political campaigning on social channels continues to grow, we must ask how much our political system and the views of voters have been impacted. Everybody risks falling into algorithmically constructed echo chambers, where their own views are reinforced, and discourse becomes more difficult. Add to this the increasing role of the personal profiles of party leaders, and our system may be at risk of becoming more like that of our neighbours across the pond.

Where does that leave us?

Social media, for better or worse, makes up a crucial part of our lives and our modern society. Given its incredible reach and power, messaging on social media needs to be accurate and accessible to everybody. Regulators must continue to make a concerted effort to create smart, stringent guidelines and enforce them effectively to make sure that these powerful tools are used in a fair, legally compliant way.

As we as consumers become increasingly savvy – and jaded – about social media, campaigns, legislators, platforms, and users must ask themselves serious questions: How can we create a trustworthy, balanced space? Is it even possible to achieve balance with so many competing voices, some arguing in bad faith? What will campaigns look like in 2040? These are questions for the long term, but one thing that we can all do is go out and vote tomorrow.

Business Insider tech editor Shona Ghosh talks tech, trends, and media relations

Shona Ghosh is the UK technology editor at Business Insider, where she manages a team of London-based reporters. Her previous role at the company was as a senior technology reporter covering start-ups, venture capital, US technology news, and major technology developments. Shona kindly agreed to join us to discuss all things tech, trends, and media relations.

How did you get into journalism and why did you choose it as a career?

I always wanted to be a writer of some kind. Like many journalists and writers, I enjoy reading and – by extension – storytelling. I landed on journalism while I was studying at Warwick, partly because I became friends with several people who would go on to become TV producers or broadcasters and were very organised about it. We all decided to take the same training qualification at City University in London together, so it was as much about peer encouragement as coming to the decision myself. I also very nearly became a lawyer.

Like lots of journalists I did an MA at City. It was an awful time, because we were all graduating after the financial crash in 2008-9, and it was really dog-eat-dog for jobs. Lots of training schemes were cancelled and I took a freelance job at an ad agency for a couple of years before clawing my way into journalism proper through a start-up called StrategyEye, which covered venture capitalism and start-up funding. I then landed a job at PC Pro, which was probably my first really secure job in journalism.

What do you enjoy most about journalism and what advice would you give a journalist who is just starting out?

I’ve always loved digging deeper into issues and stories, and some of my favourite pieces of work have been deep-dive investigations, most of them at Business Insider. I wouldn’t describe myself as a purely investigative journalist, but I find investigations really stimulating.

It’s tough to be a young journalist right now. Competition is fierce, and I don’t think publications are as willing as they used to be to train reporters completely from scratch. Good traits are deep curiosity, smarts and chutzpah, and I think most editors would be delighted to find those qualities in younger reporters.

Changes in tech ripple out to countless other industries, what do you think are going to be the next major developments?

‘Tech’ is a very broad term, but areas that I think will have a huge impact on most people in the near-future are artificial intelligence and the future of the mobile phone – or whatever replaces it. The breakthroughs being made with AI in healthcare, spotting anomalies in huge reams of data, are pretty astonishing. As for the future of the mobile phone, I wonder what the next evolution will be to these slightly awkward, heavy devices we have to carry around. Will it be chips in our heads? Siri embedded into our brains?

What have you observed about working with PR agencies? What works and what doesn’t?

I think I have good relationships with PR agencies – at least when I remember to answer my emails – and I’m not sure why so many reporters are so vicious about them. The best PR people and agencies act as facilitators, introducing you to the right sources and then stepping away. Acting as a constant barrier to the client is very annoying, and probably a good way to ensure I drop the contact. Any kind of trickery is also annoying. I have had some agencies mislead me over exclusives or try and change whether something is on or off the record. Don’t do that, and we’ll get along fine.

I think the savviest PR agencies understand that the world is changing, and that constant nags or phone call follow-ups don’t make sense anymore. Most journalists don’t have time for coffee meets to talk to PR people about what we’re interested in. My advice would be highly tailored pitches – if it’s clear a reporter likes exclusives, then offer that. It’s still possible to break through the email noise with an excellent, well-targeted pitch.

That’s it from Shona for now, but if you want to learn more about media relations – or any other part of running a B2B PR strategy – you can contact us today.

Andy Bartlett shares his STEM PR expertise

Andy Bartlett is our Science and Engineering Director here at TopLine Comms. He has kindly agreed to take a moment from his busy schedule of managing PR for engineering companies to talk to us about how he got started, and what sorts of things our science team gets up to every day.

How did your career get started?

I got my degree in metallurgy and materials science at the University of Nottingham. I wanted to do engineering but wasn’t sure exactly what to focus on. Materials seemed like a solid foundation because they are involved in everything. When I graduated, I managed to get a placement with Rover Group’s Central Test Department, and I ended up staying there for ten years. People came in with broken car pieces wanting to know why they broke. We did a lot of testing and driving around test tracks; it was really interesting, high-level stuff.

Then, almost overnight, the company flipped from being an inward-looking company to selling services – but nobody was geared up to sell services. We were a company of 400 people with no marketing department. I ended up supporting the new marketing manager, and quickly realised that I loved the challenge of communicating technical things in a simple way.

I decided that I wanted to move into communication, but it was challenging since I’d reached a certain level of seniority – I had 10 years’ experience as an engineer. Countless times I was told that I “didn’t have the experience.” So, I contacted the IPR, which is the CIPR today, and they advised me to pursue a PR qualification. I joined the communication, advertising and marketing (CAM) certificate course at Matthew Boulton College, and spent two evenings a week studying after work. It was tough, but worth it to demonstrate my commitment to the jobs I applied for.

Finally, I found a job for a PR consultancy. It meant a 25% pay cut, but it was what I wanted to do. We worked for all kinds of clients, from heavy engineering like the British Castors company, to Greggs, to the National Association of Funeral Directors. I worked there for another decade and became account director. I enjoyed it, but once they asked me to work on a toilet roll brand, I decided it was time to return to my passion for STEM PR.

I found a job advert in The Guardian for a medium-size company specialising in science and engineering. They were looking for a ‘content creator,’ but I applied, interviewed, and they offered me the job the next day. I ended up running the accounts there as well, and that’s when I very first started working for Nexans, Saft and ABB, who we still work with to this day.

How does STEM PR differ from other sectors?

Greater demand for technical accuracy is the key. You can’t be fluffy, because most of the editors that we deal with are experts in the subject. That means you must understand the fundamentals of what our clients are talking about. It’s like Einstein said: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” We translate very complex information into something that is detailed, but accessible, which is a real skill.

What do you think has been the biggest change in the industry?

One huge change is the shrinkage of the media. When I started, there were dozens of publications to work with. Now, while there are still some excellent publications out there, most have disappeared or at least moved online. Marketing teams have also shrunk. Now internal departments are smaller, and companies are increasingly reliant on external agencies.

Research, which is fundamental to both PR and STEM, has also changed. If you wanted to know the background to a company in the past, you had to get their annual report, brochures, and make some calls. You can do that in minutes now, which is wonderful, but I think it’s extremely easy for people to do some quick research and come away with completely the wrong idea. There’s still no substitute for face to face.

What has been the highlight of your PR career to date?

I convinced a building restoration company to open up their workshop to the local community and press. It took a lot to get them on board, but when they did people were queuing around the block – we even needed a ticketing system. The coverage was great, and the client won so many opportunities with other businesses that day.

That’s it from Andy for now, but if you want to find out more about our STEM PR services, contact us today.

How to conduct large-scale media outreach in 10 steps

If your company is launching something newsworthy and you want to gain maximum exposure, you’ll need to start planning well before launch day. As a B2B PR agency, we’ve run more media outreach campaigns than we can count, and we have some advice to help make sure your campaign launch is a success.

Step 1: Plan your team

The first step toward getting your company’s name in the headlines is to assemble a crack team. Work out what roles you’ll need and who is ideally suited for each. You’ll need people to:

  • Write – seasoned copywriters are the best for this.
  • Call the print and broadcast media to pitch the story – experienced PR pros are ideal for this.
  • Build the media list – this should be a team effort, and they will need input from the pitching team.
  • Record results.
  • Coordinate the whole operation.
  • Produce any collateral – images, logos, photographs, etc.

Step 2: Check your date

Sometimes you have no say in when your campaign will launch because it’s tied to other business activity that cannot be moved. However, it’s important that you understand:

  • What other activity is taking place that day that might take precedence on the media agenda.
  • Dates or events that might tie in nicely with your story and make it easier to sell to the media.

It’s always better to time your story strategically, rather than be surprised on the day when another story breaks and takes all the attention away from your campaign.

When searching for media hooks, look out for:

  • Special days or weeks, such as World Environment Day or London Tech Week.
  • Anniversaries, such as 100 years since the establishment of the League of Nations.
  • Regular news stories, such as the monthly consumer price index announcement.

Step 3: Create your media list

Building an effective media list is a critical but often neglected step toward the success of a campaign. Start by building a long list of outlets from the team’s recommendations, your own understanding of the media, previous coverage, online searches, social media, your media database and anywhere else you can think of. Collect the contact details of individual journalists, and sort them into sectors such as tech, retail, and finance. Don’t forget to include freelancers, too.

Research every journalist and understand their specific niche and expertise. Look at their past work to find whether they focus on news and or thought leadership, and who might offer interview and video opportunities. If they aren’t a good fit for this campaign, set them aside for the future. Divide the outlets into the top five for each sector, and then into first and second tier priorities. This is your media list. It’s a dynamic document so be sure to update it as you go.

Step 4: Create your story angles and gather your assets

Your campaign planning would have started ages ago, but now it’s time to get into the specifics. Once you’ve established where you hope to get published, next you need to determine what you hope to publish specifically. This means developing the news story and media release well before launch day and collecting all your assets, including photos, case studies, and interviewee information. It’s also a smart move to prepare thought leadership angles that can be pitched once the news element is over.

Step 5: Get in touch with your priority list

Reach out to the top five or so journalists in advance of the launch. These are the people who you really want to run your story, so it’s worth having an informal chat with them about it. Do they want an exclusive? What do they need you to do to make it more likely they will take it?

Step 6: Prep your social story

Social is a critical element of media outreach, and it’s important to prepare. Plan your blog and social media posts for the day and begin writing them. Will they use video? Will they use native video or link to a video hosted elsewhere? Ensure that you have all of your assets – thumbnails, different versions of the video, and so on – ready to go. Consider who needs to be @mentioned in your social posts, possibly the journalists from the top five publications who you are hoping will carry your story or any partners or customers who have been involved in developing the story.

Step 7: Prep your team

Your team needs to know the plan inside and out. Brief them and answer any questions they might have in the days leading up to the launch, before you start pitching. Make sure that the launch date is on the company calendar and ensure that all colleagues (even those not on the media relations team) know to provide social support – leaving comments, liking posts, and sharing them, too. This will give your content a boost in the eyes of the all-powerful algorithm and increase the chance that more people see it. A good tip is to launch the story at around 8am and to get everyone in your company to engage with it on social within the first 60 minutes – this dramatically increases the chance of your story going viral on social.

Step 8: Final preparations

With launch day fast approaching, it’s time to put all of your plans into action. Your team should begin by pitching your tier one (highest priority) media outlets. Make sure to keep a record in your pitching database so that nobody accidentally pitches the same outlet twice, and so you know who to follow up with. Once tier one is done, start reaching out to tier two.

On launch day itself, the team will be busy managing and coordinating interviews and ensuring that journalists have everything they need, but they’ll also need to find time for social media. If it’s part of your plan, launch day is also when the press release should go out on a newswire. These are services which disseminate press releases directly to various outlets (we’re not big fans of newswires but sometimes they have a place). Wrap up the launch day media outreach campaign by measuring early results, and make sure you have a plan for quantifying results in the long term.

Step 9: After launch day

Next, follow up with any media that hasn’t managed to run the story yet, and thank those who did. Measure and report all of the publications, broadcasters, social interaction, and traffic to your site generated by the story.

Step 10: You’re not done yet – thought leadership

Finally, once the buzz around your hugely successful initial announcement has settled, it’s time to start pitching the thought leadership angles to the outlets that you selected earlier. These are pieces where experts from the company opine on topics in their industry, ideally topics tangentially related to the core news story, to improve both their profile and the company’s (and often to generate valuable links). This can help keep the announcement in people’s minds as part of the long tail of your media outreach strategy. Prepare a few more opportunities to publish your blog and video on relevant dates, continue to measure any further coverage you generate from these thought leadership angles on social media, and celebrate a job well done.

Want to win big with your target media? We’re a B2B PR agency and we’re here to help – contact us to find out more.

Marketing to marketers in 2020

We surveyed over 250 marketing directors, execs and officers to find out where they’re going to be and what they’re going to be doing in 2020.

Top publications read by marketers:

Business Insider came in as the top publication read by 32% of marketers, followed by Campaign (25%) and Digital Marketing Magazine and LinkedIn (both 22%), making these good outlets to target for anyone wanting to get in front of this group. And if you need help with all that, we know just the b2b pr agency for you.

Marketing to marketers

Top 10 marketing events for 2020:

Our marketers chose the App Promotion Summit as their top event for 2020. This was closely followed by the B2B Marketing Expo and Advertising Week Europe.

Marketing to marketers

Marketers’ top social networks revealed:

While Facebook usage continues to decline, it remains the top social network for marketers, followed by YouTube and then Instagram.

 

Reaching marketers:

Email marketing reigns supreme, with 43% of marketers finding out about new products and services through this medium. This is closely followed by the media (39%) and search engines (37%), which means anyone looking to reach and engage with this group should consider investing in digital PR and SEO strategies.

How marketers discover new products and services:

 

Need help with the digital PR and SEO side of your marketing to marketers strategy? Then contact our head of digital PR and SEO, Luke.

The Value of PR Revealed

We surveyed 259 CMOs, marketing directors, marketing execs and marketing officers about how PR fits into the marketing mix. The good news for us as a B2B PR agency is that 97% of them believe that PR is valuable. Phew.

In terms of where PR adds the most value, 39% said it supports reputation management. One tech-company CMO we spoke to said: “We’re a well-known company that generates a lot of media interest. We’re able to use proactive public relations to harness that media interest to build and protect our reputation as a business.”

For 37% of the marketers in our sample, PR was used for brand building. And we couldn’t agree more. At TopLine we’ve used integrated PR strategies to help unknown start-ups gain traction in new markets. These companies have gone on to become thought leaders and market leaders.

Twenty six percent of our marketers reported that PR is valuable for lead generation. We’ve seen this happen before (we once secured a single piece of coverage that broke a client’s website because of increased traffic volume), but we tend to advise clients that PR on its own isn’t the best lead generation tactic. It works best as one component of an integrated strategy that might include search, content, social or inbound.

What surprised us most about our research was that only 20% of marketers felt PR is valuable for SEO. This shows that the marketing industry has a long way to go in genuinely understanding the mechanics of the discipline. We’ve been banging on about this for years – see our pieces in PR Week and Figaro Digital from way back in 2016 – without PR there is no SEO!

There’s no doubt about it. PR is a worthwhile investment. Browse some of our case studies to find out how we…

helped one organisation trend on Twitter

built thought leadership and followed links for BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions…

turned Bullhorn into a market leader

…generated over 500 inbound leads for WorldPay

The best AI subreddits

Reddit is important – it consistently features in the top 20 most visited websites in the world and it’s where most viral content originates from. It houses some of the best data in the world while providing a relatively slick, ad-free platform for users to enjoy. As a B2B PR Agency, it’s our job (and our pleasure, with subreddits like r/animalsbeingderps) to spend time on it.

There’s a subreddit for everyone, but particularly for those interested in tech. It’s arguably the most popular platform for those working in tech, making it a great place to hear the latest news and do some market research.

If you want to know more about artificial intelligence, reddit is a great place to start. To help get you started, here are some of the best AI subreddits.

What makes a good subreddit?

As explained in our post on the best start-up subreddits, we’ve measured:

  • Member count: Simply put, this is how many members are in the sub. A large sub doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the best one (smaller subs can have higher engagement), but it’s a good sign of whether the content posted is relevant.
  • Engagement level: We’ve looked at how engaged members are in the sub by looking at the number of upvotes and comments on the top posts from the past year.
  • International: Reddit is a global website, but some subs are very US-centric, so we’ve made a note of whether they’re international, or not.
  • Content-type: We’ve tried to generalise the type of content on each sub, mainly whether they’re advice-driven or just memes.
  • Active moderators: Active moderators (or mods) keep the subreddit on-topic and rule-abiding. Weekly updates and sticky posts are usually a sign of an active mod team.
  • Rules: There are rules laid out in Reddit’s rediquette that all subreddits have to obey, but mods can also impose their own rules. Higher quality subreddits tend to have stricter rules regarding the quality of posts and replies, which help keep the sub relevant.

r/artificial

As pointed out, it is a missed opportunity that this sub isn’t called r/tificial. Nevertheless, at over 90,000 members, this is the largest subreddit dedicated to all issues related to Artificial Intelligence or AI. You’ll mostly find the latest news and examples of AI in practice, but you’ll also notice some discussion and questions from those working in the field, or studying it. It’s definitely worth joining to keep on top of the latest AI stories from around the world.

r/ArtificialInteligence

The lack of rules in the r/ArtificalIntelligence sub let it down. It’s worth joining for the odd piece of news, but it’s mainly full of ads and announcements about the AI-powered products people are working on. And it’s not just us – there have been posts complaining about the lack of moderation.

r/Automate/

Another anarchic sub is r/Automate, but there are more worthwhile posts to check out here. The most popular posts are videos on AI in action, like this automated commercial kitchen or this machine balancing an inverted triple pendulum. The engagement is relatively low, and there aren’t any stickied posts, but the posts are relevant and interesting, so we’d say it’s worth joining.

r/DarkFuturology/

This sub isn’t strictly an AI subreddit, but the topics it covers tend to be AI-related. It focuses on ‘growing dissatisfaction with the utopian tech-porn dominating Futurology.’ However you look at it, lots of the posts you’ll see on here are AI-driven, like wearable face projectors to avoid face recognition and YouTube’s AI deleting videos of robots fighting because of ‘animal cruelty’.

r/technology/

Again, this sub isn’t strictly an AI subreddit, but it’s so closely linked that we thought it was worth including. This is, by far, the largest sub in our list, but it’s got lots of rules and has active mods. There’s a weekly tech support discussion thread and AI-related posts definitely pop up quite often.

r/singularity/

This sub is all about technological singularity and related topics, including AI. The engagement isn’t that high, but the posts are of high quality and are nearly always relevant. Our animation team were particularly impressed with this lifelike human eye animation.

/r/MachineLearning/

This sub is specific to machine learning (a subfield of AI) but as it’s so closely linked and such a good sub, we wanted to include it here. The mods are active, implementing six, specific rules and a weekly WAYR (What Are You Reading) sticky post. The posts are technical and interesting, and you’re likely to learn a lot just by joining the sub and reading the top posts. We also enjoyed this ‘unsupervised image-to-image translation method’.

r/compsci/

Another slightly tangential sub, r/compsci is for anyone who wants to share and discuss content that computer scientists find interesting. Naturally, this often includes posts relating to AI. There are four rules, all of which are easy to abide and keep posts on track. You won’t see as many AI-specific posts, but there’s certainly enough here to keep you occupied.