C8 Storytellers: Top Tech Stories of January

February 14, 2023By Paula ElliottInsights

Welcome back to C8’s top stories of the month! This is our recurring blog where members of our team are invited to explore a story they found particularly interesting or ‘game-changing’ in the world of tech, communications, or even further afield.

In January, we explored a range of stories, from ransomware regret and the box office bomb that was Babylon, to “chaos monkey” management and a royal PR fiasco!

Read below and let us know what you think. What was your top story of January? Use #C8storytellers and explain why!

Megan Mackintosh – Senior Account Executive

Lockbit ransomware group apologises to hospital, offers free decryptor

When SickKids, a children’s hospital in Canada, suffered a ransomware attack using Lockbit’s as-a-service malware over Christmas, the potential real-world harm was clear. What also became clear, however, is a supposed “code of ethics” within the Lockbit organisation, who not only apologised and offered a free decryptor, but also released a statement saying the “partner” who initiated the attack “broke our rules, is blocked and is no longer in our affiliate program”.

The story caught my eye as an unusual turn of events, particularly when Lockbit has hit hospitals in the past. As this article highlights, however, the confusing moral compass of this organisation might have ulterior motives: not only would an attack on a children’s hospital boost law enforcement’s attention on the gang, it could easily inspire “doxxing” from other, disapproving hackers, a practice that has seen a sharp rise since Conti announced its support for Russia in early 2022.

Michelle Hatcher – Associate Director

Spread a little happiness in 2023

On the 3rd of Jan, The Guardian, in its optimism for the new year brought in some much needed hope to its readers with 52 inspiring ways to bring happiness to our communities in 2023.

Out of the enlightening tips, including animal ambulance (something close to my past life) and guerrilla gardening (still reading into that one) is the growing array of apps we can all get to grips with to share around the things cluttering up our cupboards (timely for those unwanted Christmas gifts.) As someone who grew up in a sleepy and cut off village as a kid, I was particularly warmed by this clever little app which connects communities going one step further than your average Facebook group. With Nextdoor, each user is provided with endlessly ingenious ways to pass on all those lovely items which you can’t bring yourself to throw in the bin. People can add posts for stuff they want plus things they need help with like grass cutting. What better way to share some happiness than give someone a lift or prune their  branches? Perfect!

John Vignaux – Account Executive

Chaos Monkey Management

“Chaos monkey” isn’t a term I would often associate with a management technique that boosts productivity and morale, quite the opposite in fact. Whilst I likely wasn’t as shocked as the employees of Shopify, the organisation that implemented this new technique just after the festive break, it wasn’t something I expected to see in my morning news peruse. But is it all that bad?

The COO explained in an email to staff that “we can either go slow and deliberate or go fast and chaotic”, with the thinking a short period of intense discomfort that employees should, in theory, recover from more quickly, avoids a “long, slow burn” of presumably lower productivity. Limiting Slack channels to 150 people, removing recurring meetings with over 2 people, and all meetings on Wednesday, doesn’t seem so bad to me.

At C8, we recently removed recurring internal team meetings on a Monday, swapping for a snappy, top line, team priorities run through at the start of the morning. Whilst I do miss elements of the many 30-minute catch ups, they weren’t necessary, and the time I now have back in my day, is used more productively.

Natalie Young – Account Executive

Strategy: PRemeditated or honest mistake

Love them or hate them, the royal family have continued to dominate the headlines into 2023, but nothing has ignited debate quite like Harry’s exposé ‘Spare’. Much of the book was leaked prior to the publishing date and alongside the other surplus of Harry and Megan content at the time, it left people (including myself) questioning whether anyone would buy the book?

However, these fears were quickly dispelled when Spare became the fastest selling non-fiction book since 1998, when records began, with 467,183 copies sold in the first week.

Whether this was planned or a happy accident, it proved a brilliant PR strategy to pique interest over other more traditional methods – even if no one can claim its success.

Ameesha Patel – Senior Account Executive

Bomb of Babylon

Truth be told I haven’t watched this film, but in all honesty from the things I’ve heard, I think I’ll save the 189-minute screen time for something else (maybe the Puss in Boots film I’ve been recommended). If you haven’t heard about Babylon, or seen any promotion of it, good chance it’s because of the film’s striking lack of a marketing strategy.

Despite the film’s $80 million budget, the only advertising I saw was Alexa Chung’s Instagram promotion of Margot Robbie’s iconic red dress from the film.

So, what went wrong? For a film brought to you by Damien Chazelle, the trailer decided not to note the two critically acclaimed films he’s worked on, La La Land and Whiplash. This feels like an obvious error…

With film trailers largely criticised these days for giving the whole film plot away, Babylon’s trailer seemed to be intentionally unrevealing.  Don’t Worry Darling also bombed with critics but still made twice its budget. I think the marketing team missed a huge opportunity, by not taking advantage of different mediums to cater to different age demographics. The movie is set in the 20s which has glamorous, nostalgic cross-generation appeal. It’s stellar cast could easily sustain a multi-channel campaign, from newspapers to Tik Tok. Is marketing a film impossible these days?