Tag: digital

SOCIAL MEDIA VS TRADITIONAL MEDIA: WHAT’S THE STORY?

Social-Media-Marketing-vs-Traditional-Marketing

It’s used by everyone from busy-bodies to businesses, politicians to pet pooches and, as the Guardian recently reported, even GCHQ has gotten in on the act.

The question remains, what is it that makes social media so different to the traditional channels we were once used to, and how can effective management of online communications platforms and apps positively impact upon a company’s bottom line?

For many organisations social media is an essential medium through which to communicate messages, form the level of personality which sets a brand apart from its competitors and provides a way in which relationships are built, and subsequently maintained, with consumers.

Whilst there is, undoubtedly, some crossover between the benefits that social media and traditional channels offer, using a combination of the two approaches will ensure that a brand’s message reaches the widest audience in the most fitting manner.

Round 1: sharing news

In today’s busy world we are surrounded by marketing messages at every turn. Whether it’s a text on a mobile phone, a red light whilst driving or an advertising billboard, each method communicates a message, but in a distinctly different way.

In the same way that these mediums differ, so too does the sharing of news from traditional and social media.

Here are two theoretical examples:

  1. Pet Pooch Apparel secures lucrative contract with leading retailer (alongside an image of the company’s directors outside the business’ headquarters)

vs

  1. It’s been a woofing good day here at Pet Pooch Apparel; with one wag of a fluffy tail we’ve made it rain ‘puppy style’ (insert picture of puppy in raincoat)

Example 1 is the type of headline that you’d see on a typical business news platform. Short, snappy and to the point. This message takes a professional tone, which is in-keeping with the readership of such a site. This type of media coverage raises the profile of a business and its achievements; building credibility by association as a result of appearing on a well-known business platform.

On the other hand, example 2 could feature on ‘Pet Pooch Apparel’s’ social media channels and, as such, takes a far more colloquial tone which communicates the personality of the brand. Featured alongside a link, which allows the reader to go directly to a page that features the product, this version of the same news is likely to attract a different reader and, therefore, should be posted in a way that will appeal to them.

Whilst the focus of a business story is primarily building the credibility of a business, the objective of social media channels is to build a relationship with the people who actually buy the products.

Whilst being on the radar of every large organisation within the region has its benefits, most companies will have competitors just around the corner and this makes the importance of creating a brand which appeals to buyers increasingly important.

The truth is that having a strong brand, personality and tone of voice is often the one thing that sets a business apart during a customer’s decision-making process.

In these examples it’s clear to see how each version of news has a distinct purpose. By shifting the focus of the story from a purely business mindset, to a form more likely to be considered engaging to the everyday social media user, the reach of the story can be broadened to appeal to a much wider audience.

Round 2: engaging with the customer

In what I’d envisage to be a fun and trendy business like ‘Pet Pooch Apparel’, magazines and consumer-focused publications are likely to be a part of any PR strategy.

Achieving coverage in this type of media would be the best way to raise the profile of the business amongst potential customers, whilst building the familiarity and trust necessary to achieve repeat sales and encourage loyalty.

However, though companies can submit a press release which is full of personality and is reflective of the brand’s values, this messaging is often significantly diluted when it finally finds its way into a publication.

As a result, relying entirely on media coverage from magazines to communicate with your customers and build your brand is a steady process which does not happen overnight. Instead, through a long-term strategy which targets the relevant magazines at the most appropriate times it will deliver results.

Yet, combine this approach with a stream of interesting, insightful blogs and quirky social media posts, and the whole process becomes much less sporadic and a lot more likely to yield quicker results.

Increasing the comments, likes and excitement surrounding your latest post, is a sure-fire way to gain fans and, with new followers, comes a wider audience with which to share your new products, services and offers.

On the other hand, we must consider that with a busy social media channel comes a certain amount of maintenance. With the ‘always on’ appeal of online apps, comes the potential for a large number of comments which shoppers increasingly expect will be replied to. This gives additional opportunity to stay ‘on brand’ by responding in a light-hearted manner but also takes a great deal of time and effort.

For example:

Question – Which accessories would you recommend for a Yorkshire terrier?

Possible response – Trendy or traditional, we’re sure that your terrier would appreciate this tweed flat cap! With his Yorkshire roots, we know he’ll feel right at home. Don’t forget to let us know what he thinks 😉

Round 3: the thrill of the chase

There’s no denying that coverage in the newspaper, a magazine or on a prestigious online platform feels infinitely more rewarding than simply posting on a company blog or social media channel.

Moreover, the uncertainty that accompanies the process of pitching a story to a publication and then waiting to see whether it appears, enhances the feeling of excitement when you do secure that much awaited coverage.

Once you’ve secured a story that even your mum would be proud of, you’ll most likely want to shout it from the rooftops! Well, once again, this is where social comes in and can be used as a platform to maximise your message and audience reach.

Round 4: consistency is key

It’s not always possible to rely on editorial coverage, for example your story may get bumped by a huge national crisis, and that is why a business should use its own channels to post the message to its audience and upload the news that they have to share.

Though it won’t happen overnight, regular posts and insights, consistent messaging and well managed, interesting content is the key to increasing brand awareness and, if your social media channels become a hit with customers, the chances are that your products will too.

In summary, working in PR and content marketing it is clear that both traditional media and social channels are complementary and can be used to create brand trust and loyalty for a business. If you’d like advice on how to maximise your own social media channels, would like assistance creating original content, or would like to speak to us regarding a PR strategy, please contact a member of our team on 01924 862477.

COALFIELDS CALLS UPON OPEN FOR PR SUPPORT

07.09.14 Coalfields Regeneration Trust

The Coalfields Regeneration Trust, the organisation dedicated to providing support, guidance and funding for people living within former mining towns and villages, has appointed Open Communications as its preferred PR and marketing communications agency covering England.

Working closely with the team from England at the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Open Communications is tasked with raising the profile of the organisation both within the communities and to a national audience, securing coverage in relevant regional, national and trade media and supporting with social media activity and marketing communications.

Following a trial period of three months, the Coalfields Regeneration Trust has already experienced the results that Open Communications can achieve when working as an extension of its team. Achieving an audience reach of more than 8 million with a recent story, the agency now looks forward to building on successes to date and its productive relationship with the charity.

Head of Social Investment at Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Andy Lock said: “We had been in need of effective PR support for some time and approached Open for an informal discussion as we had heard good things about them. It was clear from this meeting that their philosophy and no nonsense approach to PR matched our aspirations and objectives.

He adds: “Open has very quickly established itself as an extended part of the operation, getting to know us and what makes us tick and translating this into impactful PR which is delivering great results. Their insightful input has challenged our preconceptions about `what works’. We are always impressed with their hard working ethic and commitment to go the extra mile to get the job done.”

Director of Open Communications, Lindsey Davies said: “We always work with our clients as opposed to for them, this means that we can add extra value to the service we offer. The Coalfields Regeneration Trust is a fantastic organisation and we are very much looking forward to developing our relationship further as we continue to support them with PR, social media and marketing communications.”

Open Communications, the straight talking PR and marketing communications agency, was launched by Lindsey Davies and Emma Lupton in 2008. The business, which is RAR approved and was named as one of the Top Agencies outside of London, has since grown and is commissioned by a range of brands from family run businesses to multi-national household names.

Based at Nostell Priory Estate Yard, the agency now manages the PR and social media activity for companies including POM-BEAR, the teddy shaped snack brand; Paragon, the print and document management service provider; Xamax, the branded clothing specialist and HARIBO, the UK’s leading gums and jellies brand.

Are we stifling creativity with processes?

We were recently invited to a Mi Networking event in Leeds and decided that as the focus was about innovations in technology we would go along and see what it was all about. Honestly expecting to hear about the advancements in social media (again) and how it’s imperative to ‘engage’ and ‘share’ with your audience, we were pleasantly surprised to be confronted by Dave Birss.

In order to give you some background, Dave is a creative but that doesn’t really do him justice. He has worked for some of the world’s largest agencies and has written books and created websites and apps more or less in some instances because he could. They are funny, quirky, interesting and in most cases useful – well other than ‘are you an asshat’.

What made him different was his enthusiasm for genuine creativity – not pretty pictures or the latest App that delivers very little but you can watch in 3D! – but real life examples of pushing the boundaries beyond brand.

During the session Dave focused on taking education and creating inspiration. He explained that creativity is stifled with process and I’m inclined to agree. We all get so caught up in systems, processes and procedures that we think in a linear way, without even recognising that we are doing it. This was lesson one for me!

He then went on to explain that if your creative idea doesn’t make a real difference you need to change the way that you are thinking – which is exactly what he did. He shocked me a little by announcing that not every brand needs social media. I thought I was pretty alone with this school of thought but apparently not. He, like me, feels that it’s more important to identify with the consumer behaviours of a product or service before jumping on a bandwagon and that traditional mediums can still deliver excellent results and jaw dropping impact.

Dave kept coming back to the same thing time and time again with the examples that he was showing – ideas, ideas and more ideas. He shared some websites, which some of you may be familiar with but I certainly wasn’t – Kickstarter as an example. This is a site which allows you to showcase an idea in a bid to generate funding. Those who like the idea will purchase the product in order to allow you to invest further in its development. What an amazing concept.

Then there was his thoughts on how in order to create truly integrated campaigns all of the technologies need to work together. Now, this is where it gets interesting. Dave wasn’t suggesting you make a design work across platforms or look pretty on an iPhone but that one concept, creative or theme was used across platforms and performed in a different way to add value to the user. So you could have one campaign with multi-purpose depending on what platform the consumer chose to use. Brilliant!

A lot of what Dave said made perfect sense, although it became frighteningly apparent that his passion for technology goes well beyond that of most people when he started to show individuals who are linking their nervous systems to computers and implanting chips in their bodies to create additional senses – hmmm, I’ll leave that one for now thanks.

As a result of the session we were buzzing and although a lot of what Dave said would fit into the ‘oh, of course’ category, it was a real pleasure to watch and learn about technology from the perspective of a true creative.

For more details about Dave Birss visit:   http://userguidetothecreativemind.com/davebirss/index.html

So thank you Mi Network for inviting us to this event. It was a great opportunity to take some time out and get back to what we are good at; getting excited over ideas, proposals and the brands we work with.

Feeling the ‘Press’ure

There is no doubt that the PR and marketing industry has changed over recent years and will never be the same again. This, in my opinion, is primarily down to people having less time and a shift in media consumption.

Once upon a time you would buy a paper, read it and pass it on. You may watch some TV and listen to the radio too, whereby you were likely to come across some strategically placed advertisements suggesting that you buy this or that.

Press advertising and outdoor displays have been around for as long as I can remember but the use of digital has taken consumer engagement to a completely new level and this is what has impacted on traditional media sales.

As more publications become available online, a greater number of commuters, business men and women, choose to read the press before they get into work – usually on their smart phones or iPads meaning that there is no need or desire for them to purchase a paper, never mind read it during work hours.

As a result of these changes printed media are having to do more to engage with their audience and showcase why they are different and what value a person can gain from both reading in print and online versions of their publications.

Many printed business press have chosen to hold round table events, which bring together market leaders – this gives them the time to debate current industry topics, while also providing the journalist with the chance to sit in a room full of potential content and if they time it right an exclusive or two!

Most publications now have online versions as well as printed options so it’s a balancing act between having what the consumer wants and still showcasing the value of print.

As an agency that has worked within the print market for more than 10 years, we know the value and benefit of print, not least the tangible aspect of a creatively designed, full colour piece. There is no doubt that there is still a place for print and The Drum, a marketing trade publication, has gone one step further.

I received an email yesterday with the subject: ‘My Big Mistake’. Naturally I wondered what that mistake would be – there can be some interesting #fails when you work in our industry. Never did I think this ‘mistake’ would be one of the most insightful, challenging and intriguing ideas I’ve come across.

The Drum have decided to complete an edition of the magazine in front of a live audience – yes, live! Those who attend the event on 3 July will see the team plan the publication layout, make decisions about the front cover story plus what other news will and won’t make the cut. In addition interviews will take place there and then with questions asked about the angles that should be chosen for feature pieces that will appear within the final piece.

Not only is this brave but it’s an incredible way of getting people to understand The Drum and how it works. It will give people a genuine insight into what makes good copy and what questions the team ask before submitting a final piece to go to print.

Unfortunately I won’t be in a position to attend the event but I can’t wait to read the final piece. Everyone attending will get an editorial credit – again, a very good ideas and just one way to get people to really buy in to the publication.

Well done to The Drum – a huge thumbs up! They are taking print to the masses, getting them involved, engaging with their audience, building brand loyalty and injecting some genuine creativity and excitement into what they do – nice work.

Making the augmented a reality

Ok, I confess, I don’t really ‘get’ a lot of the campaigns which are relying on AR codes to bring them to life. I understand that AR codes mean that agencies can be more inventive and creative but I struggle with what that brings to the brand and consumer experience.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think the technology is amazing and yet another step towards a world where make believe and reality collide – and this is my point.

Here’s an example, I walk into a supermarket and pick up a product. I scan the AR code and a flashy (and admittedly impressive) animation comes to life in front of my eyes. WOW. I then look at the prices of the products, pick the cheapest – usually the one on offer – and leave.

I will have no greater brand loyalty to the company who have spent thousands on a campaign that uses an AR code because they haven’t given me any reason to do so. I haven’t derived any added value from that animation. I would think it was impressive and probably tell people at work – because I work in PR – but otherwise I wouldn’t think about it again until I read about it in the marketing industry trade press.

This is where I am going to completely contradict myself, well kind of, because Tesco have nailed it. Hannah passed on an example of a campaign using AR codes which is simple, impressive and brings the campaign into the real world, encouraging consumers to engage and most importantly come back time and time again.

The campaign uses an association between Tesco and Iron Man 3. The idea is that shoppers can download a free iOS or Android app, which will allow them to generate an image of themselves wearing the Iron Man armour… now here’s the impressive part. They can then scan Iron Man point of sale in store to ‘unlock’ a further six suits with each showcasing a new weapon that users can fire!

I challenge anyone not to get excited by this app. Come on! Admittedly you will need to be accompanied by a boy aged between around 6 – 12 (the target audience for the campaign) in order for it not to look odd, and remember to seem suitably impressed but not show just how much when you’re ‘shooting’ people in store. I can already see my nephew cringing as I make the noises that accompany my new armour… well, it has to be done.

Taking a digital campaign and putting it into the real world is exactly what a truly integrated campaign is all about and I think this example gives the consumer an experience, while delivering for the client – in this case Tesco.

I have seen other examples of AR codes which take you to more information about a product, which is useful but not overtly exciting – however if it meets with the objective and is what the brands target audience would want then it works and it works far better than a flashy animation.

I think that perhaps we (agencies working for brands) need to think beyond the exciting pretty pictures and think more about the real life benefits of these campaigns. Only then will we start to see real value and results from the work that we do and when clients’ see results they want more and with more comes longer term relationships.

We may all get some column inches in the marketing trade press from a campaign that is impressive to our peers but when we sit back it’s the client we should all be thinking about.

 

PR stands for Press Release

When you work in PR (public relations) there are some days when you wonder what your job description may look like if you were to write down everything you were asked to do. This is no bad thing you understand, as the huge variety of tasks certainly helps to keep things interesting, while raising a few exciting challenges along the way.

This is perhaps why I find it so frustrating when people tell me that they can ‘do PR’ because they have written a press release or had something printed in a newspaper. The purpose of appointing a PR agency shouldn’t be to just write copy – that’s what copy writers are there for and the clue is in the title.

A PR agency is there to manage a brands reputation, to identify opportunities that will extend the messaging of a campaign to take it to a totally new level, or to come up with creative recommendations that will deliver a stunt that will capture the attention of the media, while also educating consumers about what that particular product or brand has to offer.

There’s also the corporate side of things, when an agency may be appointed to manage a stakeholder or internal communications campaign, ensuring that a message is clear and concise, using the right tone of voice and being disseminated in the right way, to the right audience.

Sponsorship often falls under the remit of a PR agency, along with third party associations and event management. Although you may find that copy is required to support these activities, it isn’t the sum of the process and everything from launching to making sure the brand gets the most from an association – which often includes sampling – can be included along the way.

Really the job of a PR has no defined start or finish, as long as you are managing and supporting the reputation of a brand and business, focusing on how it chooses to communicate and engage with its target audiences, then it kind of falls in to our remit.

As we have said in the past there is no point in trying to be all things to all people and that isn’t what I’m suggesting – there are times when we work with other specialist agencies to deliver integrated briefs and this is when you can take one concept or theme and really push it to make as much noise across as many mediums as possible.

At the moment we are working on so many different things that when Friday comes around I feel like my head is spinning with ideas and variations on the campaigns and proposals that we are working on for clients both in business to business and consumer markets.

PR is creative, expressive, exciting and demanding and writing is just one element of what we do on a daily basis to manage the reputation of the brands and businesses we work with. So next time you hear someone say that they can ‘do PR’ because they can draft a press release, please pass on my advice, they can’t! If you think that PR is all about writing a press release then it’s time to take a long hard look at your future career in the business because it won’t last long.

 

Why careful doesn’t mean boring

I’ve worked with lots of creative people throughout my career, many of whom I totally respect for the fantastic work and ideas they have developed, but I can’t help feeling that fairly conclusively there has always been a belief that when you work with large marketing and PR agencies careful has to mean boring.

I disagree. I think in some instances careful should be changed to ‘managed by professionals’.

If I was the owner of a brand and I had hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of pounds to spend I wouldn’t want to let that budget loose on a team that would come up with stunts and ‘creative’ ideas that could be to the detriment of my business longer term.

Here’s the thing – pretty pictures can be very appealing and they can even make what in the cold light of day would be a ludicrous idea seem like a brainwave. I’ve seen it happen many times before and it usually lands on the door of the PR agency to sort it out once the ‘big idea’ hits the media and is found to be the emperor’s new clothes, or worse.

At Open Communications we have always maintained that we would work within a client’s budget to come up with campaigns that first and foremost meet with objectives. I can hear some agencies groan just reading this but it’s true. What’s the point of even employing an agency otherwise?

We could come up with yet another stunt that put yet another over-sized object in Trafalgar Square, we could consider a one off activity that would mean we claimed much of the budget in management and had little to do for the rest of the year and we could chase industry awards with our big ideas but the reality is that we just don’t work like that.

We try to create long term strategies that we can implement over time to ensure that our clients engage across all channels and with all audiences. We use online, in print, digital, outdoor and sponsorship. We don’t profess to be all things to all people but one of the things that I am most proud of is that we are good at what we do – and that’s PR, traditional and online.

So for all those who think that careful is boring just consider how you would manage your project or brief if you were playing with your own money.

 

It’s all in the timing

Social media, content marketing, engagement, push, viral, digital… need I go on? These are all words that are used frequently in the world of marketing, PR and communications and they all lead back to one thing – attracting attention and sharing a message.

What I’ve noticed is that brands who have got it right, in my opinion, are those that are able to turn things around quickly. Take Bodyform as a classic, or Specsavers as another, then there’s Richard Branson and his stunt announcing the BA couldn’t get it up and Paddy Power’s ambush of the Ryder Cup.

The way that these brands have been in a position to turn around their campaigns so quickly, never mind come up with them in the first place, is fantastic. Not only are they creative and quirky they capture attention and get their message across. At the end of the day, most brands use PR and marketing in the first instance to raise the profile of their business and in these cases they do exactly that.

The problem of course is that it is often impossible to get approval to turn something around in such limited timescales however the more that brands become aware of the benefits to ‘almost real time’ engagement the better.

It seems to me that the future is all about the timing and that means reacting within hours as opposed to days. Let’s hope that more brands see the benefit in putting PR at the top of their list of priorities because this is simply the best way to shout about your brand which subsequently puts your products in front of the consumer.

Do you know your QR from your AR?

It can be a challenge when you work within the media industry, not least because things are changing so quickly – online and in print, digital and viral, integrated messaging and social media platforms – it’s all to take into account when you are coming up with brand plans for clients and that’s even before you decide who is responsible for doing what.

Although we don’t profess to be all things to all people, we are a creative agency and we will make recommendations knowing that it isn’t our team who will bring them to life – or bill at the end of the month. The reason we do this is because if we genuinely feel an idea will meet with the brands objectives we will suggest it – and we all know that no idea is a bad idea!

Another reason we try to go beyond the boundaries of being a traditional PR agency is that we are consumers ourselves and we understand that we, as others, expect brands to want to engage with us, to offer us things for free or deliver great promotions that save us time and money.

The more that a brand invests in effectively communicating with its customers the more they are seen to care and with that greater loyalty and brand awareness is achieved – or that’s the general idea. Of course, it doesn’t always work like that and some brands get it spectacularly wrong, while others can seem to do no wrong.

When reading some trade publications recently in the office, Hannah pointed out some relatively new technology which would allow a brand to bring an advert or promotion to life at the touch of a button. Basically you download an app called Blippar or Aurasma Lite and then that technology allows you to view adverts and promotions using AR codes – or image recognition as it is also termed.

I have to admit that I was never a big fan of QR (quick response) codes, which I felt were basically a mechanic to link to websites and more often than not promotions pages, so this was never going to immediately appeal. What I find myself asking is if anyone will actually be bothered enough to go to the trouble of downloading this technology in the first place, never mind then going to the further trouble of scanning the AR codes to see what brands are doing to engage with them beyond the printed promotion.

BUT on reading through further articles about the technology it has certainly made us think. Imagine if you could encourage people to engage with your brand through an online tool and if you could really bring that brand to life – suddenly an integrated campaign could take shape in front of your very eyes. It could literally jump off the shelf. How exciting would that be!

We aren’t a digital agency but we do work with social media content and with other likeminded agencies to create campaigns that leave a lasting impression and I have to admit that we have spoken to a few brands already about AR and its possible benefits and pitfalls. As an evolution from QR codes it’s fair to say that they are likely to become redundant but if there is something all the more impressive, bigger and better to take its place then I’m sat up and listening.

I would be really interested to hear what others think about it? Is it a fad or something that will change the way that brands interact with their customers forever? Is this a turning point that will see us all understanding our Blippar from our Aurasma and our QR from our AR?

It’s certainly one to watch and I can’t wait to see which brands really embrace the technology to create rich content that can be shared and genuinely meet with expectations, while more importantly achieving brand objectives.

An unusual approach to news

PR isn’t the simplest of industries to understand, especially when you don’t work within the media or creative sectors. I have often had to explain time and time again what it is that I do for a living and people (my closest family and friends included) still get it wrong.

My Dad spent the first 6 years of my career telling people I was a PA and my friends just leave it as you work with the media. Of course there is a lot more to my job than that – in fact a staggering amount when I take the time to think about it – but in a nut shell it will do as a top line explanation.

Things are changing so quickly within the media, with many titles choosing to go online and in some cases media launching with no print versions. Take the Business Desk as an example, launched by David Parkin formerly Business Editor of the Yorkshire Post. Great idea. Worked well. You can’t fault them for wanting to do something that at the time was a little different.

BDaily is another title which took a very similar approach. Based in the North East this news website, for want of a simple term, provides an update on what is going on in the business world in the North East. The concept is simple and it works well.

What BDaily have done which is completely unique to my understanding is that they have named the people who write the stories under the headline. So if they receive a story from a PR agency, they actually attribute the article to that company.

This is often why people find it so difficult to understand what we do. You see, we will draft a press release for a client and then send it on to the media. Often the copy can be literally pasted with an image as a completed article but rather than saying that it was written by us, the article is attributed to the journalist who places it.

This is very common practice and is what we have become used to but when I noticed what BDaily were doing it made me think. Is this the future? Will more online publications start to attribute copy to PR agencies and will the line become less blurred between what we do and don’t do?

I’m interested to see what other people think. I have no real desire to be labelled as the author of anything and I always take it as a compliment if articles appear unchanged but I wonder what the PR industry at large think of this?

Any comments, thoughts or opinions please do share them.