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During the summer Olympics, London is going to be awash with the good and the great from across the world. International leaders, athletes, businessmen and tourists will come to London to see the world’s greatest sporting spectacle. Unsurprisingly, the size of the security must match the size of the event.
The date was the 11th of July 2012, and it was a big day for residents of the Fred Wigg Tower in Leytonstone, East London. The reason is that the High Court is about to decide whether the Ministry of Defence can build a missile battery on top of the residents’ homes as part of plans to protect the games. It is not a plan they support.
The reasoning for their opposition, they cite, is that they dislike the idea of missile battery on the tower block but crucially, they say they were not fairly and properly consulted on the issue. Marc Willer, the lawyer representing the residents said: ‘Had the residents been consulted properly, or at all, their concerns would have been communicated.’
This is why we do what we do. When any sort of planning, whether a development or a missile battery, consultation pays dividends. Any PR expert will tell you it is vital to control your message, to speak to stakeholders which the development will effect and most importantly, to listen to them.
Ah-haaa! I cried when I heard the news that Norfolk’s best-loved DJ and Travel Tavern aficionado, Alan Partridge was ‘bouncing back’ to our screens for some one-off specials – Jack-anack-anory!
But before I could break open the Toblerone in celebration I was dismayed to find that in order to follow Alan’s story tonight, I’d have to subscribe to Sky’s Atlantic channel!
After my inevitable sulk and wild accusations of Alan turning his back on the BBC in search of a new satellite audience, I began to see that this was indeed a canny move to sow Alan’s ‘seed’ wider in search of the Partridge-faithful.
Could there be a long-awaited film on the horizon…? Surely not!
Anyway, enough of the scepticism, the fact is Alan’s back after a decade out of the terrestrial TV spotlight. He’s using the media in an extremely savvy way to re-open the doors to his closet fans and raise awareness of Alan Gordon Partridge ahead of his big screen debut. Who’d have thought it, he’ll be signing up to Twitter and Facebook next!!
Let battle commence! And for those in the know, ‘Cook Pass Babtridge’.
Coca Cola is always coming up with new ways to make us feel all ‘loved up’ with the world. For me, it isn’t Christmas until I hear the ‘Holidays are coming…’ ad; and they taught the world how to sing when I was a knee high to a grasshopper.
I spotted this viral and thought it was absolutely fab – taking CCTV footage with a twist. Just when you think the man is going to attack someone in the street, he gives him a big hug, people are ‘stealing’ kisses and gangs are helping people with broken down cars to push them out of the way.
So rather than focusing on happiness, they have now focused on looking at the world in a different way – which I am sure Coca Cola drinking will facilitate!
The Mail on Sunday recently reported that the Post Office is to cut queues by installing ‘tap and go’ payment systems in all its 11,500 branches by the end of the year. While this initiative is no great surprise given the long lines of people one almost always faces at the Post Office, it does make you wonder if we are heading towards a service industry where there will be little to no human interaction at all.
Already gone are the days where you check in with the receptionist at the surgery on arriving for your doctor’s appointment. Instead, you face the challenge of fathoming the computerised check-in kiosks (which when you are feeling under the weather is no mean feat!). In fact, it is possible these days to do almost anything without actually speaking to a person whether it is checking in for a flight, cashing in a cheque or buying cinema tickets.
While this is all very well and good in some respects – being able to pay for your petrol at the pump or book train tickets online can be a great way of saving time and money – it does seem sad that these days we are having less and less human interaction.
Nowadays good customer service is less about a friendly chit chat with the nice lady scanning your groceries but more about efficiency. Consumers are not prepared to wait in a long queue or jump through endless hurdles to get what they want. They want to get in and out as quickly as possible. Ironically, staff are often needed to man self-service machinery as at times it can prove a challenge to operate – we have all been faced with the annoying ‘unexpected item in bagging area’ announcement when self-scanning at the supermarket!
The reality is that this type of technology is here to stay and set to grow. While companies and organisations will continue to employ people to man checkouts, Post Office kiosks and reception desks, they will also continue to look at ways of simplifying the service process, which will inevitably involve the use of technology. The onus is on us to ensure that good customer service continues to have a human element where possible, after all, however clever self service machinery is, the one thing it can’t provide consumers with is a service with a smile!
Google’s ex-CEO Eric Schmidt gave a speech at London’s Science Museum last night where he said he sees the web becoming nothing and everything; how it will drive change in society and how he believes the world will become more democratic as a result.
I personally can’t ‘live’ without the web. It has changed the way that I work and go about all facets of my life. I use it at least a hundred times a day to do just about anything from research, to shopping for food, clothes and cars, to buying a house to booking myself into dressage comps. When I look back at how I had to do research when I was a student, it was a case of spending days in the library, searching through dusty books and looking through microfiche (I actually look back at this through rose-tinted glasses and when I regale such tales to my nephew he looks at me as though I am at least one hundred years old). However, the reality was, it took a ‘while’ to find what you needed. Now, a few keywords later and hundreds of references are at my fingertips, so productivity is so much higher.
The downside of this instant encyclopaedia is the issue of misinformation; after all, anyone can put anything up there. And the other big problem is access. How many people actually have Internet at home or work that they can use – there is without doubt a digital divide in this country let alone the rest of the world. Communities have even resorted to building their own broadband networks due to the lack of investment from operators.
However, one thing that cannot be ignored is that the web really has become significant when it comes to news. Once a story is on the web, it’s out there. No taking it back. But will the web become nothing and everything, well only time will tell.
Ofcom recently opened up the application process to companies looking to run local TV in towns and cities including Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds.
Jeremy Hunt’s vision for hyper-local news reflects people’s desire to be connected and influence their community. For brands, it will offer a new opportunity to become embedded with local people. But why wait? People love brands they feel a connection with, feeling local can achieve this. Aside from the established media (such as BBC Radio Manchester that paints pictures in the minds of half the city’s population every week, or the iconic Granada Reports), a review of digital media for a local audience reveals new opportunities.
A new addition to the media scene is Manchester.TV, “the UK’s first totally independent Internet TV channel dedicated purely to one great UK city”. Founded by former Daily Mail journalist, James Black, starting next Tuesday (29 May) this site will feature a daily ‘90 second news’ video and a host of fascinating insights into the people and businesses of Manchester.
Talking to James, he has a clear vision for his fledgling site and is determined to focus on quality, champion uplifting local stories, whilst avoiding the many financial pitfalls of local media. Getting on board with this innovative site before its formal launch may offer great rewards down the line. TV over the internet means that such organisations are not burdened with a significant licence fee and will capitalise on the super fast broadband that will be available to everyone in Manchester by the end of 2013.
Like their national peers, local newspapers are seeing a decline in circulation figures. In the last six months of 2011 the Manchester Evening News lost 9.5% in sales year on year and the Liverpool Echo lost 6.5% (source: ABC). But this doesn’t mean the public has fallen out of love with their local news brand, they have simply changed the way they view it. Over the same six month period, the MEN’s website saw daily traffic increase by 26.1% and the Liverpool Echo’s website visitors rose by 11%. Yet despite this shift in media, the majority of stories sent to the MEN are not accompanied by a compelling video, video suggestion or photograph that can enhance their site. Thinking about the specific needs of the web editor will help increase your chances of coverage.
Social media has already made Jeremy Hunt’s term “hyper-local news” sound outdated. It enables people to follow news at a more granular level. Didsbury Life has 5,073 followers on twitter; over one third of local residents receive up-to-the-minute news and offers in their community. Aligning with the right communities or creating your own social channel offers brands the ability to bring out your personality, interact with your market – all good things to help people feel like they know you.
Writing in his regular Liverpool Post column, Phil Redmond said of Jeremy Hunt’s local TV framework: “It will create a platform and exhibition space for voices and social issues that do not get properly exposed or debated.” Depending on who wins each contract this may be the case. But looking at today’s local media landscape, I would say why wait – use the local channels already flourishing.
It was a dark, dreary November day when I received the news that I had successfully secured myself a place in the 2012 Paris Marathon. I was ecstatic (and a little terrified) to have the opportunity to run along the famous Champs Elysees and past the Eiffel Tower in my inaugural marathon. After the initial excitement my thoughts immediately turned to establishing an effective training plan that would enable me to successfully complete the 26.2 miles, in my desired time of three hours and 50 minutes.
I scoured my library of back and current copies of Runners World and Women’s Running and sought advice from (running) friends and websites. I started to lay the foundations, planning my training schedule, running regularly and researching foods and recovery techniques. Based on my research, I devised a 15 week schedule that involved training five to six days per week including three key elements, a tempo run, a speed session and a long run, working out the pace for each session.
From January 1st 2012 for 106 days I was consumed by the marathon. Every week I meticulously logged the miles completed and the pace they were run at as well as the food I consumed. I wanted to ensure that when I rocked up to the start line on Sunday 15th April that I had done all I could to prepare for the 26.2 miles that lay ahead of me in the best possible time.
Whilst undertaking the challenge I realised that my approach to planning and preparing for the marathon echoes the process of devising and implementing a communications campaign for both prospective and current clients. First of all you research the market, competitors, target audience(s) and using this intelligence devise a communications campaign that will meet the client’s objectives.
So how did I do? I crossed the line in 3 hours 50 minutes and 31 seconds. I was pleased but my first thought was I know I can do better and I will. Completing a marathon makes you feel like you can do anything and we all can. It also made me realise that if I continue to apply the same attitude to managing the PR for my clients as I do to my running then I know that I will succeed in making a positive contribution to their business.
The National Lottery is contributing up to £2.2 billion towards the funding of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, including the venues and infrastructure where Britain’s top athletes hope to fulfil their dreams.
The Olympic Park Run Ballot closed at midnight on 27 October, however, Camelot had further tickets available to run competitions at a regional level. Bell Pottinger North received 60 tickets for the Olympic Park Run, plus two spectator passes per ticket, for use to promote the ballot across Yorkshire and the North East.
We secured six regional competitions in local newspapers, with each paper nominating a journalist taking part in the run on March 31st 2012. Competition winners are currently been announced, and we are coordinating follow up features with our media, to include training profiles with winners and journalists, plus interview with celebrity sport personalities.
With the BAFTAs behind us, the Grammies and the Oscars handed out, awards season is well under way.
The same is true for the business community, although entering awards is often pushed down the to-do list by the vast majority of companies or in some cases overlooked completely.
This is a wasted opportunity and, as any PR professional worth their salt will tell you, the benefits of entering regional or national business awards extend far beyond picking up a prestigious trophy at the finalists’ ceremony.
Whether you win or not, being shortlisted for an award is great exposure for any business. It provides the perfect opportunity to shout about the fantastic work your company is doing and it raises your profile among some of the most influential people in your sector and within the wider business community.
Industry awards are a credible third party endorsement of the success of your business model, setting you apart from your peers and impressing partners, clients and potential investors. You know yourself that you are far more likely to want to do business with a company if it has been recognised for its excellent people, projects and results.
Entering awards is also a brilliant way of boosting staff morale. In the busy environment of everyday business, achievements can be easily forgotten or taken for granted. However, the process of completing the entry form allows you to pause and consider what (and who) contributed to your success and how you can build on this in the future.
Furthermore, you can strengthen relationships with the people or companies your business has worked with by submitting an entry about a joint project or initiative. Very few partners or customers would be unwilling to contribute to such an entry as it is free publicity for them with relatively little leg work. For you, it is another opportunity to promote the clients or companies your business has worked with.
Awards can also offer great networking opportunities if, once shortlisted, you decide to take a table at the finalists’ ceremony. The atmosphere at most awards events is very relaxed and what better time to approach a prospective client or partner than when you have just been recognised for your excellent work?
Entering awards is a crucialpart of an integrated and tactical PR campaign. It needn’t be time consuming and stressful if it is handled by your public relations team. In fact, who better to promote your products, services or projects than the very people who do so on a daily basis?
Awards help to catapult your company into the spotlight for all the right reasons and whether you win or lose, they help to keep staff, partners and customers happy.
What do the Brit Awards mean to you? Personally, the nation’s annual pop awards may bring back uncomfortable images of Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood in car crash TV, Jarvis Cocker’s controversial gate crashing of Michael Jackson’s performance or a world class performance by Adele. As a business, they probably don’t even register. But in an overcrowded industry in its seventh year of decline, the artists and the show brilliantly demonstrate the rules of social media and how as a business you can engage customers and drive sales.
A social media role model
In a crowded market singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran was found and has since sold more than 1m copies of his album, through effective use of social media. He was spotted by his producer on MySpace and built a loyal following of ‘Sheeranator’ fans through YouTube. Sheeran is a clear reminder that to go viral, you must be where your target market is and have content that people value and feel that others would appreciate. For businesses a social media audit can reveal which social media channels best reach your market. But it’s the content strategy that will make or break your social media campaign. Whether it’s new financial insights or a heads-up on building legislation, think about why your prospects would value it and what would make them share it. This will be the difference between engaging prospects, or simply pushing messages out.
Learnings we can take from Sheeran don’t stop there. His route to fame highlights the power of online publications and blogs. Rather than the traditional music media, it was online music channel SBTV that propelled his song You Need Me to go viral and gain millions of hits. With dominant blogs in all B2C and B2B market sectors, make sure you use their power in your campaigns.
Finally, last year Sheeran demonstrated the power of building and using opinion leaders to good effect. For him, this was collaborating with bigger artists such as Wiley. For businesses this means looking at your market eco system and spotting who should be talking about you, to get your messages delivered to their bigger audience.
Accurate customer insight
Social media is a powerful tool to gain insight into your market’s views. It’s not skewed by people saying what they want you to hear and it’s instant. The Brit Awards demonstrate the accuracy of this sample market. Monitoring conversations for one week before the awards*, and comparing this to the results, demonstrate the accuracy of this media:
- In the week leading up to the Awards, Coldplay accounted for 86.6% of mentions with the Arctic Monkeys trailing in second place on 6.6%. Coldplay won the award as voted by Radio 2 listeners.
- When talking about British Male Solo Artist, Ed Sheeran lead the social media share of voice with 52.2%, followed by Noel Gallagher with 17.7%. Ed Sheeran scooped the award.
- Adele was the most talked about artist to win Album of the Year with 40.4%, just pipping Coldplay with 32.8%. It was no surprise then when Adele won.
Following Twitter whilst watching the show brings a whole new dimension of entertainment. It’s like sharing the sofa with the most witty, insightful and annoying people in the country and the stars from the auditorium. This is a fantastic demonstration of how social media can add sparkle and engagement to existing formats. This thinking has been praised by lawyers at conferences and customer reference professionals at workshops. Avoid taking a silo approach, instead look at your existing communications channels and think about how social media can strengthen them.
It’s easy to dismiss the social media success of the Brit Awards, as it reinforces the stereotype that social media used to bring – that it is a pastime for teenagers. But taking a step back and looking at the mechanisms behind the buzz, it seems that this British institution can bring a lot more to your business than it first appears.
*Reported by Sentiment metrics