Tag: PR Agency Wakefield

CHRISTMAS ADVERTS 2019: WHICH FESTIVE OFFERING HAS OUR BELLS JINGLING?

Merry Christmas

With the festive season upon us, it’s no surprise that our television screens have become host to an array of Christmas adverts.

John Lewis, Argos and M&S are amongst the first to share their ad’s, with the hope of igniting that magical feeling that Christmas brings out in us all.

But what makes a great Christmas ad? Well, I conducted a little research to find out what it takes to jingle the bells of those here at Open Comms.

Relatability

Louise’s favourite is the offering from John Lewis.

Featuring Edgar the fire-breathing dragon and his unlikely friend, a little girl, the story showcases the pair’s enduring friendship. Despite Edgar’s many mishaps, which include burning down the community Christmas tree, the duo stick together and eventually impress the villagers by putting Edgar’s fire-breathing talents to good use – lighting the Christmas pudding.

All-in-all an uplifting tale, with a little bit of humour. However, the key, according to Louise, is Edgar’s relatability. He’s far from perfect and gets things wrong from time-to-time, just like the rest of us!

Creativity

This year’s Aldi advert is a Christmas cracker once again – and it’s Lindsey’s favourite!

A little like Robbie Williams, Kevin the Carrot has experienced his yearly revival. If you haven’t seen it yet, think the Greatest Showman but with vegetables, and you won’t go far wrong! Kevin takes on the role of ringmaster while belting out a fantastically festive version of the Robbie Williams classic, Let Meee- eeee Entertain You!

Always a little unexpected, full of fun and creative genius – this year’s offering certainly doesn’t disappoint.

Lindsey also loves the fact that the brand chooses to build on the Kevin the Carrot story year-on-year, successfully bringing in current references to some of the biggest and most successful programmes of the year, while never failing to raise a smile.

But, the icing on the Christmas cake? The advert helps to raise awareness of Aldi’s charity partner, Teenage Cancer Trust. Now that’s real festive spirit in action!

An extra sprinkling of magic

McDonalds perfectly catches the magic of Christmas through a child’s eyes, capturing all of the innocence, imagination and emotion that makes the occasion such a special time of year – and it’s Nick’s advert of choice.

Following the story of a little girl, her ‘reindeer’ and the magic of make-believe, McDonalds has successfully brought to life the elements that make the season so special. Also, depicting realistic family dynamics, the brand has subtly positioned itself as an integral part of the Christmas period.

A surprising but truly endearing angle, this is certainly a top contender!

A touch of nostalgia

Sky is taking many of us back to our childhoods, and Fareeha is particularly impressed with the return of everyone’s favourite alien, ET.

With an especially mysterious start, this ad is definitely a departure from the usual Yuletide brand offerings. Re-visiting ‘Elliot’, who has now grown into a man with a family of his own, ET is introduced to modern life and festive traditions.

Appreciating the nostalgia and the opportunity to reflect on times gone by, Fareeha has placed the Sky advert at the top of her nice list this year.

A sobering message

I have to agree with Lindsey and Nick’s choices this year, Aldi and McDonalds have successfully delivered both entertainment and magic, capturing key elements that make Christmas an extra special time of year.

However, to add a further recommendation to the line-up, The Dogs Trust have put in place a fun creative but with a very serious message. Drawing attention to the fact ‘a dog is for life, not just for Christmas’, it makes an adorably cute but also incredibly touching contender for Open’s own, Christmas ad of the year 2019.

So, what makes a cracking Christmas advert?

Well, according to the Open team: relatability, creativity, an extra sprinkling of magic, a touch of nostalgia and an important message are the key components for our favourite festive adverts.

Which is your favourite this year?

To hear more of our opinions about his year’s winners and losers in the Christmas advert stakes, check out Lindsey’s review of retailer Argos and why she thinks it has missed the mark here.

DOES FLEXIBLE WORKING HELP OR HINDER CAREER PROGRESSION?

While new technological advancements continue to change the way we live our lives, the expectations we have on society constantly evolve, none more so than the way we work.

We are in the midst of a digital transformation and as result the social and economic landscape is continually changing. As part of this workplace evolution, we’ve seen the rapid growth of the gig economy; a surge in the opening of major co-working spaces; the number of start-ups reaching record levels and an increased desire for remote or flexible employment.

In addition to these innovations, our mental health and well-being has never been so valued and as a result, I believe the quest to find the perfect balance between a career and personal life is being sought after more than ever.

Organisations are already taking notice of these changes and we are seeing an increasing number of companies adapt new strategies to help meet the demands of their employees. For instance, Microsoft recently unveiled that it tested out a four-day work week in its offices in Japan for the entire month of August, without decreasing pay.

The trial project, called Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019, was unsurprisingly met with an overwhelming positive response by the workers. What is particularly interesting is that productivity among the 2,300 employees rose by 40%.

What we can take away from this project is that happier employees became more efficient, and the company as a whole benefited. However, despite the large number of participants, it is important to remember that this took place over just one month and in one company. The long-term impacts of a four-day week are still relatively unknown and until further companies take that leap of faith, it is uncertain if this strategy will become a permanent fixture in the workplace.

A major trend emerging in recent years is the desire to work remotely or have the ability to work via a flexible schedule, choosing when, where and how to work on any particular day.

Although this concept was initially restricted to specific roles and industries, companies from a wide range of sectors are now more accepting, allowing employees to enjoy more freedom than ever before.

According to recent research compiled by Instant Office, flexible workspace now amounts to more than 85 million square feet of the UK office market.

With an increasing number of people opting to work from home or shared co-working spaces, there is a lot more pressure being put on the employer to introduce flexible working within their business model.

But at what cost?

As well as all the advantages that comes with digitalisation, there is unfortunately an element of risk. Cyber-attacks and data breeches are on the rise, and the exposure of companies only widens when assets are scattered in different locations.

The security measures implemented within an office will be much more robust than those at home or on a public wi-fi network. As a result, remote or flexible workers are not only more likely to become victims of cyber-attacks, but the companies they are working for are also in danger.

I believe this is where trust becomes such an integral part of this process. Not only trusting the employee to carry out day-to-day activities at an efficient rate, but to also have the confidence to know that they will protect themselves and the employer from any potential threats.

This can be achieved through a thorough communication strategy that keeps both parties constantly up-to-date and aware of any critical changes. With that being said, we have to question if the responsibility still falls on the employer to ensure staff have the correct security systems in place to help them work remotely.

Although the changing trends of the way we work show no signs of slowing down, I believe it will be sometime before we see the workplace become completely flexible. There are too many variables to determine why or when companies should implement flexible working into their model.

Does the size of the company play a role? Does it depend on the nature of the work or industry they are in? Does flexible work offer the solution for a perfect work-life balance?

Digitalisation is changing the workplace, but to what extent is still unknown.

MOVE OVER MILLENNIALS, GEN-Z IS IN TOWN

Millennials move over, there’s a new generation in town and brands are swiftly stepping up their efforts to resonate with this latest group of consumers to hit the high street.

Born during the period mid-1990s – mid-2000s (source: Independent), the preferences of ‘Generation Z’ will play a fundamental role in shaping the future of organisations across the globe.

While millennials put the wheels in motion with a focus on healthier lifestyles and environmental impact, ‘Gen Z’ take this a step further, voting with their feet and actively seeking out companies whose values align with their own.

Disrupting the norms that have long governed a number of industries, businesses must now adapt to fulfil the needs of this group who are quickly rising up through the ranks.

Ethical integrity and environmental sustainability

Placing sustainability high on their list of priorities, this latest cohort of consumers are shaking up big businesses, forcing them to become accountable for the impact that their practises have – not just on the environment, but on their workforce too.

Single use plastic is likely to continue to cause debate, while issues of fair trade and responsible manufacturing are sure to follow suit.

Embrace a more diverse range of diets

Having initially gained momentum amongst millennials, the rise of vegetarian and vegan diets continues amongst Generation Z.

In a further demonstration of this group’s ethical stance, not only is eating meat felt to be unnecessary, it is also detrimental for the planet – something that, thankfully, this generation hold in high regard.

Factor in the importance of a healthy lifestyle

Mindfulness and mental health, issues which were rarely discussed just a short number of years ago, are now staple topics in schools, workplaces and homes across the country.

Following on from millennials who have positioned workplace culture and benefits as increasingly important factors, as Generation Z enters the workforce this is likely to continue with a keen focus on work/life balance and an open attitude towards mental health.

Be authentic

As society takes positive strides forward in its attitude towards difference, future generations are bound to be more likely to embrace their uniqueness.

Increased acceptance and tolerance of differences will hopefully lead to a more diverse society where everyone is free to be themselves.

Overt branding is less important

According to The Drum, overt advertising is a turn off for Gen Z. Recognising this shift in perspective,  Doritos has launched its ‘Another Level’ campaign which has seen the brand remove its logo from advertising and social content, instead relying on its other identifiable features such as the distinctive triangular chip and bag colours.

Brands such as Starbucks and Mastercard have made their own changes, preferring for their logos to be displayed without the accompanying wordmark. Though not detailed as a move motivated by up-and-coming generations, it is likely to play some part in the modernisation of each business’ approach.

What’s more, with Generation Z expected to make up a staggering 40% of the global population by 2020 (source: Independent), it will certainly be interesting to see how businesses adapt to meet the demands of this up-and-coming generation of savvy shoppers.

SOCIAL MEDIA: WHERE THE PROBLEM LIES (IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE)

I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels more than a little duped every time I check in to the other realm and review one of the many social media channels that are available to us.

In fact, I’m quite convinced that many of the people who appear to live their entire lives on said platforms are effectively residing in a parallel universe. You see, when I bump into them in the street, they certainly do not reflect the image that they are falsely portraying to me, MI5 or anyone else who might happen to take a glimmer of interest in their profile.

While a ‘photo-shopped-within-an-inch-of-its-life’ photo is probably a great tactic for those who are evading a life of crime, it’s hard not to despair about the ideals that this sets for the rest of us mere mortals.

What’s more, as the photos continue to blur so too does the line between reality and how we portray our lives online. After all, most of us know that the filtering doesn’t just stop at images; our whole internet existence is governed by a different type of filter which influences what parts of our lives we share on the web.

Life through a filter

Though some photo enhancements might be obvious, when it comes to extracting the true picture it’s far more difficult than we could ever have previously imagined. Not only have we become accustomed to sharing our best angles, we also seem to have been conditioned to put on a brave face, sharing only the best parts of our lives with others.

Our holiday snaps don’t show the rain that blighted what was meant to be a relaxing beachside break or the hotel that wasn’t deemed ‘instagrammable’ enough. Instead, we project only the most jealousy inducing, picture perfect views, which, in the most part, have little to do with our real, everyday lives.

Fantasy or reality?

Having started primarily as a way to get to know one another better and to share memories with friends old and new, it’s hard not to feel that the purpose of social media has changed somewhat during its relatively short life span.

Now, rather than a place to show our true selves and update friends and family across the globe, it could be argued that our online lives are a form of escapism which offers a place to be whatever we please, with little to no restrictions.

When reality hits

Just as quickly as perfection took over, thank goodness there appears to be another, far more realistic trend in town. Taking things a step further than ‘#nofilter’ which continues to do the rounds, ‘social media vs reality’ has taken the online world by storm.

Leading the way with messages of body positivity and a rejection of the principles that have plagued our social media existences for so long, this movement is starting to gain real momentum.

Finally, the array of airbrushed, moody selfies are interspersed with those that celebrate something far closer to reality. Bare-faced shots showing blemished complexions, natural images that put stretch marks in the spotlight and people of all shapes and sizes ‘living their best lives’ signal a break from the conventions that have dictated what’s accepted as relevant online.

Doing it for the ‘gram’

Although I’m reluctant to be cynical about what appears to be a positive development in attitudes to what should be shared, it will be interesting to see whether this trend continues or whether it’s just another elaborate example of a very real issue being exploited for the purpose of ‘likes’.

For the sake of the next generation, I really hope it represents a future where we can all be a little more authentic.

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.