Author: Lindsey Davies

THE POWER OF STORYTELLING FROM ‘MY STREET’

The power of storytelling

I have a guilty pleasure; I really like to watch documentaries while I make dinner. It’s my time to do two things that I enjoy; learning from storytelling and creating homemade meals for my family.

This isn’t a new thing. It was always my Sunday afternoon treat. Since lockdown I’ve started to watch programmes on my iPad while prepping, chopping, baking, boiling and roasting. It is a way for me to destress and unwind while also learning about others.

I am interested in different communities, cultures and lifestyles. The way people choose to live their lives intrigues me and I genuinely believe we can all learn from others: good or bad.

Looking differently at My Street

While perusing the choices, I came across an old programme called My Street. The concept was simple but inspired. A lady had lived on a street for many years and realised she didn’t know her neighbours.

Not usual now-a-days, and something that I feel we can probably all relate to in one way or another.

She set about knocking on doors and asking each family to share their stories about love, life and loss on film. The outcome was an insight into a street that was made up of so many different characters that had one thing in common: their postcode.

Learning from storytelling

This got me thinking.

There is little doubt that one of the reasons I enjoy documentaries so much is that I write stories for a living. Admittedly, the releases and features I draft are often about business, but this doesn’t mean they are devoid of personality.

We always say that passion is infectious, and personality is the one thing that a company has that cannot be replicated. You may be selling the same product as another business but what makes your organisation unique is you. This is where the power of storytelling comes into its own.

I then realised that during lockdown we have started to talk to our neighbours more. We’ve always nodded a polite hello but now we stand in our gardens and we chat. We live on a cul-de-sac in a former mining village and are all very different.

Since lockdown a group of us have come together and during our morning, afternoon and evening chats (which conform to the obligatory social distancing) we have learnt about ‘My Street’. It wasn’t forced it just happened and has made me realise how important it is to add personality to content if you want to really engage with an audience.

Behind closed doors

People like stories. They like to know what happens behind closed doors and to hear about the love, life and loss of others. This doesn’t mean every business needs to share their inner most workings with everyone. In fact, I can’t think of a single client that would happily disclose all their best kept secrets. What it does put into perspective is the need to add interesting facts into the case studies, press releases, blogs and social content.

If you want to harness the power of storytelling you need to think differently.

Adding some honesty to copy and write in the first person to change a piece of content from informative to truly engaging. Creating reactions and changing behaviours is one of the benefits of PR and writing in this way will achieve those objectives.

Going back to My Street

Although I have worked in PR for more than 20 years, I never assume to know everything.

Life is about lessons and I like to learn from others. I try to take the positives from situations and just one of those will be that My Street has reminded me that the true story is the person behind the headline.

Remembering this and using it as a tool going forward, I’m going to put this into practice and make it my mission to find out more about the people behind the stories that we share. But before that, I am going to continue to enjoy the chats that we are having with neighbours and to learning more about what goes on behind closed doors on My Street.

AVOIDING LONG-TERM DAMAGE DURING A CRISIS

Avoiding long-term damage during a crisis

It’s fair to say that for most of us the novelty of working from home has worn off. There are serious decisions to be made that will impact on the lives of those around us. Uncertainty is causing anxiety and sleepless nights are becoming the norm. That is why we all need to focus on avoiding long-term damage during a crisis.

Business owners could be forgiven for finding these times the most stressful of their careers. Although most companies are facing the same challenges, the difference is how they are handled.

Stop, think, act

The best organisations are those that call upon the varied skills and quirks of colleagues. This means there are a range of personalities within a business to contend with. While during normal times this doesn’t cause too much of a problem, when times are tough these differences will be magnified.

Encouraging everyone within the team to stop, think and then act is just one approach that can dilute potential fallout. The last thing any company needs is for someone to make a rash decision that will have long-term implications.

Calling upon those with the most relevant expertise to lead is likely to deliver a more positive outcome. Carrying on with business as usual simply won’t work.

Communicating clearly

It is important that any company recognises the value in communicating clearly with its audiences. Not only does this gives customers, suppliers and staff the confidence they need, but it also reflects positively on the brand.

Taking the time to think carefully about what is being said and to whom is a good starting point. It is then about delivering these messages consistently and across the relevant channels.

As these are unprecedented times, audiences don’t expect that companies have all the answers. They do however want honesty and transparency. Authenticity is a word that is overused in PR but brands that can communicate in this way will almost certainly be most resilient.

Finding the silver lining

As contracts are cancelled, budgets are cut and staff are furloughed there seems to be no silver lining to this dark cloud.

During a crisis it is often best to say as little as possible and to stick to the facts, however there has never been a situation like this. Most businesses are facing the same challenges at the same time.

Rather than focusing entirely on the negative, use this as an opportunity. Share the values of a business and show what organisations are doing to support others. CSR (corporate social responsibility) is very much front of mind at present, so ensuring that this is communicated is essential.

It may be that employees are standing outside each Thursday and clapping at 8pm. A company could have turned its signage blue in support of the NHS, carers and frontline workers. People may be putting together care packages or supporting neighbours. Whatever a business is doing, it may be of benefit to let others know.

Using social media for the right reasons

In recent years, social media has commonly featured in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. It may be trolling, shaming or shared content that was intended to be private. Whatever the situation, social media channels have had their fair share of negative publicity.

That was, until now.

It’s been really enlightening to see social media channels including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn used for the right reasons. With light-hearted videos shared by companies and posts offering support, it has been a welcome relief.

Companies can use these examples as best practice and look at ways that they could do the same. As long as these posts are done for the right reasons, they will add personality to a brand and engage with audiences when it matters most.

Calling upon a network

When organisations are faced with a crisis it is often exclusive. This means that they are left to handle the approach, process and consequences alone.

In this instance, everyone is in the same boat. This therefore gives businesses the chance to call upon their networks for help and support. There is no shame in asking for advice and the same can be said for offering it.

Having a company can be isolating and lonely. At times like this it is essential that we all come together and do our best for the benefit of the wider business community. We can then do our best to avoid long-term damage during a crisis.

A focus on the future

While times are tough, we all need to remain focused on the future. There is light at the end of the tunnel, we just need to get there. It is going to take resilience, solidarity, effort, positivity and mindfulness.

These are all strengths we need to call upon and we will.

In the meantime, we need to communicate consistently, remember our values and try our hardest. Before long, we will get to a point where we can celebrate all that we have achieved when faced with unprecedented adversity.

Summary

Finding ways to be more progressive and to put in place an approach that works best for a business can be a challenge. We would urge any company of any size to consider the following:

  • Stop, think and act
  • Communicate clearly
  • Try to find a silver lining
  • Use social media for the right reasons
  • Call upon your network
  • Focus on the future

We hope that this will provide a starting point and a check list for organisations to work from. No company wants this, however having plans in place can support the present while also pathing the way for a brighter future. Hopefully then we can all work towards avoiding long-term damage during a crisis. For access to information and support about your PR, marketing content and social media please call a member of the team.

SHARING THE SECRETS BEHIND PR

Sharing the secrets about PR

The truth is that when it comes to sharing the secrets behind PR, there aren’t any.

Before I go on, let me make it clear, those working in the profession are specialists and they spend years training but there is no need for a scholarship at Hogwarts.

As an industry, PR suffers from a reputation crisis. Many businesses have been let down by false promises, hidden costs and wasted budgets. They have been offered the earth and when that doesn’t materialise they are left with a document full of excuses.

Unfortunately, this has put many companies off, and rightly so, but the good news is that this doesn’t have to be the case. 

Starting at the beginning

All businesses can benefit from PR. This isn’t a statement, it’s a fact.

Whatever the industry or product, there can be a clear rationale made for engaging with staff, customers and / or suppliers. Furthermore, it is really important that companies share their values, approach and where possible, the reason for their existence.

If people are to part with their hard earned money, they want to better understand where their purchases come from. This isn’t necessarily about food miles, but more about the philosophy of an organisation and what it stands for.

Setting a strategy

Clearly, not every business is the same, and the objectives for putting a communications strategy in place will be different. This is one of the benefits of PR; it can be shaped around any organisation whether business to business, business to consumer or third sector.

The other thing to consider is who will be involved in developing the strategy and delivering it. There needs to be clear ownership and input. PR isn’t something that will just happen, it needs to be managed and driven.

A seat around the boardroom table

PR needs to take a seat around the boardroom table. There is no point in making the investment – of time or resource – if putting a strategy into practice is not going to be taken seriously. If PR remains a nice to have then it simply won’t work.

Finding those within the business that have a natural affinity or passion for communication will take some of the pressure off. Giving these individuals additional responsibility and set performance indicators to work towards will keep PR on the agenda.

Discussing the tactics that have worked and those that haven’t with the senior management team will reinforce the importance of PR and what it can deliver.

Sharing the excitement

As a business function, when PR works well, it is difficult for people not to notice. It may be coverage in a newspaper, on the radio or even TV. It could be a newsletter, a blog, social media posts or an internal communication programme.

Whatever the objective, getting excited by the results that can be achieved through PR is fundamental to its success. A further benefit is that once one element of the plan is working, it can evolve and additional actions can be added.

Not enough time in the day

It’s easy to default to this assumption. There just simply isn’t enough time in the day to do everything that is required and PR isn’t a priority.

Well, it should be.

How a company communicates will influence the behaviour of its customers. There are few other specialisms that can make this kind of impact. PR is just as important as the quality of a product or service, which should ensure that it remains on the agenda.

When organisations recognise the real value of PR it can be transformative and that is why setting aside the time is so important.

Relying on the specialists

For those that really don’t have the time and cannot find any available resource within the business, the alternative is to turn to the specialists.

As a Wakefield based PR agency we work with businesses of all sizes. As well as delivering a year-round PR, communications and content strategy for our clients, we also deliver training. This gives smaller organisations the tactics, tools and techniques they need to put the theory into practice.

For those that want to explore PR, content marketing and social media further, please do give us a call or email.

 

YOU DON’T NEED PR IN MANUFACTURING

Manufacturing business

Manufacturing businesses are some of the most exciting companies in the country. Not only do they produce products, their organisations are full of innovation, automation, talent and aspiration. That is why it is so baffling that there continues to be a belief that you don’t need PR in manufacturing.

It doesn’t really matter what you produce, when I walk out onto a factory floor I am always mesmerised. There is so much going on. It’s not just about the process or the flow of the production process, it’s the smells and the sounds too.
Working in manufacturing

Starting my career in a print factory, I had the chance to work with operators, team leaders, warehouse operatives and managers. All had a story to share and experiences that brought their tales to life.

Since that time, I have worked with many companies that rely on the expertise of machine operators, engineers, production managers and operations directors. Understanding what a significant part they play in the success of an organisation is just half of the battle.

Working with manufacturers

As a PR agency we take this insight and shape content that will generate earned and owned coverage. As such the story needs to be compelling enough for journalists to want to print it and for visitors to want to read it.

The challenge that we have when we are delivering PR in manufacutring companies is that many of them don’t see what incredible work they do. They come to work, do a day’s graft and go home. Some of these organisations are more than a hundred years old. Although times have changed and processes have progressed, they still see their day job as the same as it was before.

Trying to explain to some businesses that they need to communicate with customers, to share their story and to allow their brand to resonate falls on deaf ears. Some don’t feel they need to bother, and others just don’t know where to start.

Making the most of every opportunity

In a world where we are surrounded by opportunities to communicate, whether that be online, in print or across digital platforms, we should be making the most of it. Instead, a lot of companies simply stick to what they are good at.

The truth is that many manufacturers run as a business and forget the relevance and commercial value of creating a brand. In some instances, they feel that talk of marketing and

PR is ‘the fluffy stuff’ they don’t need to bother with. Not only is this untrue, it could be very damaging.

Supporting the reputation of a business

PR supports the reputation of a brand and business. It provides insight into a company, its values and ambitions. It isn’t just a sales tool, it is a vehicle to share a story and to attract talent. Saying nothing doesn’t mean that nothing will get said, it simply means you won’t control the message.

I’ve come across a lot of small to medium sized manufacturers that have said they can’t afford PR. I always respond in the same way; you invest in an accountant to ensure that you are financially stable and compliant, PR is no less important.

Perhaps you do need PR in manufacturing

Manufacturing is a complex industry and there are often a lot of secrets. It may be workflow, innovative products, configuration of machinery or just the need to keep trade secrets. This doesn’t negate the need for PR, nor does it mean that a story can’t be shared.

What we do with our clients that work in the sector is to identify what we can say and to create a year-round schedule of activity that keeps their brand front of mind. We don’t target one audience, we target many and make sure that our messaging resonates where it should.

Over the years we have secured some incredible results for our clients and we’ve had a lot of fun. For those that are debating what PR could do for their business I would encourage you to get in touch. We have lots of examples to share that just may help you to change your mind.

#THISGIRLCAN CREATES A MOVEMENT THAT’S HARD TO IGNORE

Image to represent the philosophy behind #ThisGirlCan

I have long been a follower and advocate of the #ThisGirlCan campaign. After fives years of generated content and inspiring millions of followers, I’d go as far as to say that it has become a movement.

Launched in 2015 by Sport England, it had the objective to ‘break the mould of how women were portrayed’ and to encourage more to become active. Not only did it reach that target, it very much exceeded it.

With snappy and shareable content such as ‘Sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox’ there was no doubt of the message.

The creative had something for everyone. Whatever your preference and however hard or exhilarating you found exercise, you could identify with the women in the advert.

https://www.thedrum.com/news/2020/01/15/girl-can-marketer-how-shes-keeping-the-5-year-idea-fresh?utm_campaign=Newsletter_Daily_EuropeAM&utm_source=pardot&utm_medium=email

Maintaining momentum

Having a successful campaign is worth celebrating but it is also the hardest position to be in. Not only do you need to do the same again, you also need to build on what has been achieved.

Far from hanging up their running shoes, the team behind this multi-award-winning marketing movement have continued to launch adverts every year. The theme remains the same, but the focus has a subtle shift to appeal to the widest audience possible.

The latest instalment to hit our screens went live from 14 January and this time focuses on the barriers to exercise.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=4BKwk8q4H0Y&feature=emb_logo

Remembering your audience

The one thing the creatives could do to destroy this campaign it to get too clever. There are so many ideas you could come up. After all, unlike when it launched, they now have millions of followers who are actively engaged.

The trick however is to remain authentic.

Shifting this from an honest message to an agency that wants to try out some new techniques just wouldn’t work. The message is raw, and it resonates.

Thankfully, those working on the campaign look to those that are best qualified to influence the next instalment; the audience.

Keeping it real

There are a number of subtle elements to this advert. Not to be confused with another advert for women’s products, it really does keep it real. There are women with period pains, mothers with young babies and even a tampon string that all make an appearance.

Going back to basics, without overdoing the message, these signposts give those watching the nudge they might need to think about becoming more active.

The beauty of the #ThisGirlCan movement is that from the outset it has been inclusive. It isn’t about shaming or blaming, it is about doing what you can, when you can. It has made exercise accessible for all, whatever size, shape, race or capability you have.

Building the community on the ground

I’ve said already that I am a huge fan of this advert. It appeals to me in a way that no other has. What I would like to see now is how this can be delivered on the ground.

The adverts capture the essence of the #ThisGirlCan creative but seeing this in practice would take it to a whole new level. This isn’t about sponsoring lots of community-based sports programmes, it is about taking a movement and making it work harder.

Tapping into the audiences that are now engaged would be an obvious starting point. The website does signpost to activities in the local area, however I feel there needs to be more of a personal touch to this activation.

It feels to me like there needs to be the #ThisGirlCan equivalent of the Race For Life, which is another activity I endorse wholeheartedly. Although almost impossible to manage, bringing the community together in person would be a true measure of success for me.

#ThisGirlCan and this girl will

As an agency we are constantly reviewing brand activity, not only from our clients but also competitors. Every day there is a new idea that we share or a concept that has been brought to life that we feel is worthy of a ping around the office email.

The difference with #ThisGirlCan for me is that it doesn’t just appeal, it turns my thoughts into action. It makes me want to go out and to do something. It challenges my excuses and it gives me reason to get my trainers back out of the cupboard.

For a marketing message to have that power Sport England are certainly doing something right and I look forward to seeing what more they have planned throughout the year.

EVERYONE CAN WRITE, RIGHT?

Everyone can write, right?

Working in PR can be a challenge. There, I’ve said it. Not only has it been the forgotten relative for years when it comes to budget allocation, there is also the fact that people devalue the specialism because ‘everyone can write, right?’.

No longer is the process of putting pen to paper – or words on a page electronically – considered an art. It’s just a thing that is done and because businesses are increasingly told they need to upload content and to share posts, it makes our service a commodity.

At a recent event with the business community in Wakefield, I got chatting to an associate who asked how you make people believe that PR is worth the investment.

PR is more than words on a page

The truth is, PR will deliver but it takes time, effort, experience and the ability to take a step back and to realise it isn’t words on a page. What we produce is compelling content that engages with an audience and resonates.

PR is an incredibly powerful tool when it is used correctly. Good or bad, it can influence thoughts about a brand that could impact on the reputation of that business or individual forever.

People don’t seem to realise that what they share with the media or online reflects their values, what their business stands for and what they hope to achieve in the future. Thanks to search engines and the ability to copy and save, there is no waste paper bin or fish and chip wrapping, this content lasts a lifetime.

Using PR tactics to have a profound impact on business

The beauty of PR and writing quality content is that when it is managed correctly it can have a profound impact on a business and its success. Agencies and in-house specialists were once reliant on the press release, but we now have so many more tactics we can call upon.

The information we need to draft a press release can be used to craft an interesting thought-leadership article for the website, which can then be used to capture sound bites that are shared on social media.

Creating a content schedule means that you can now get the best from every piece of news that you have to share, if you manage the process correctly.

Investing in PR

I’ve lost count of the number of times people have asked me how I coerce our clients into paying for an agency when they could appoint a graduate or get someone in-house. Firstly, we don’t coerce anyone into anything and secondly, if a company wants to invest in the resource needed to deliver a year-round PR campaign then great!

In my experience, when a company does have a dedicated PR or marketing resource, the remit of that person becomes increasingly diverse leaving them to become a Jack of all trades but a master of none.

Unfortunately, PR is still widely misunderstood and that can leave senior managers considering it to be an extension of the admin function, rather than a specialism that could have a significant impact on the organisation and its performance. It goes back to the heading of this blog, the misguided belief that ‘everyone can write, right?’

PR isn’t easy

This is infuriating to PR practitioners that have worked for years to develop their skills and believe in making a difference to the companies that they deliver a service for. Appreciating the time and effort that goes into finding the story, drafting the story, sharing the story and then further elevating that message is not for the faint hearted.

PR isn’t easy. It requires attention to detail, thought, craftsmanship and passion. It takes someone who wants to tell stories in the right way to grasp hold of the information and then shape it in a way that makes it interesting, informative and educational.

I don’t go to work each day looking forward to writing a press release. I go to work feeling excited by what we can achieve when we consider how we will communicate across various platforms for a client and what campaign reach we can secure, which will then support sales.

Back to where we started

Putting pen to paper is a skill that requires thought, attention and experience. Writing compelling copy isn’t easy and it takes time. Identifying a story and pitching it to the right journalist so that it secures coverage can be a challenge. Learning all about topics you have never heard before and writing content that is shared online as a comment piece from a client can be nerve-wracking.

So, going back to where we started, when people do say that ‘everyone can write, right?’, the answer quite simply is no. People can put pen to paper, but it takes a specialist with knowledge and experience to write content that will deliver results.

For more information about the services that we offer, please visit: www.opencomms.co.uk/whatwedo

THE HUMBLE CATALOGUE AND CHRISTMAS

Argos Christmas Advert

There are few things that say Christmas past like the humble catalogue. Like many families, when we were deciding on our list for Santa Claus, we would reach for the Argos catalogue. It was an annual ritual that signalled the countdown to the arrival of a stocking full of presents.

Pages of toys lay before us as we chose one thing only to replace it by another. We never got bored and would crease the pages to mark the gifts that we finally decided upon.

I hadn’t thought about our Christmas routine for years. Then, out of the blue, I read an article which announced that Argos would be putting the catalogue centre stage. It was to become the focus of their festive advert.

Capturing the magic of Christmas

Thoughts filled my head about how the brand would capture the magic and have us all regressing back to our childhoods. Memories flooded back and I got a warm and fuzzy feeling that made me smile and remember how excited we used to get.

When the advert was posted online, I eagerly clicked and waited for the story to appear before me.

Unfortunately, my excitement was short lived. The advert shows a man looking through the catalogue and finding that his daughter had circled a drum kit. The toy kit comes to life and he is seen playing it before his child joins in.

Missing the mark

The advert isn’t bad per se, but I just feel it has missed the mark. Rather than capturing the feeling that many of us had when we were looking through the catalogue as children, it focuses on the drum kit, and a bear. I’ve since found out the bear is a favourite this year.

The concept for this advert is a stroke of genius and really simple – but the execution just doesn’t do it justice.

Hearing that Amazon has brought out a catalogue makes it clear that Argos has competition. It puts further spotlight on the importance of printed materials. People like to flick through and see pictures. They like to open a humble catalogue and make notes or fold over the corner of pages to mark content of interest.

Owning an experience

Argos has owned this experience for years and could have used this creative as an opportunity to reiterate that it belongs to the brand. Instead it has tried to be all things to all people.

The message should have been simple: the Argos catalogue creates an experience that all children, of all ages can access and enjoy. It’s such a shame that this doesn’t come across in the final piece. Without the narrative, I’m not sure that people would see the significance of the humble catalogue in this advert.

A festive silver lining

While the final piece didn’t blow me away, it has encouraged conversation in the office and perhaps this is all the attention that Argos needs.

I suspect that those that do make the link between the countdown to Christmas and the Argos catalogue will go and pick one up. The truth is that only time will tell if the creative is strong enough to translate into sales.

If you would like to see the advert, then click on the YouTube link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJNPINhJuJo

LOVING LINKEDIN

Lindsey Davies LinkedIn

I have to admit I’m loving LinkedIn. I’ve had a bit of crush on the platform for some time now. I like the fact that it is a social channel that has a definitive audience with a clear purpose.

There have been some fall outs over the years, as people have posted personal updates and others have made it their mission to ‘police’ the professional platform. However, I still feel it is a positive space to connect with others.

It is now very much a ‘go to’ for recruiters and individuals to showcase their talents, achievements and expertise.

Leaving the trolls behind

The conversations on LinkedIn focus on finding new contacts and sharing work-based content with a network that you have pre-approved. In order to share with someone, you first must make them a connection. This limits the amount of spam and unsolicited messages you receive.

As well as ensuring the information you access is interesting and relevant, this approach also leaves the trolls at the door. Twitter has become a breeding ground for bad behaviour, which requires governance and endless monitoring. In contrast, LinkedIn is able to build its credibility as a platform of choice for business.

Simple and effective

One of the first things I do each morning is scan through my LinkedIn feed. There is always an abundance of content and it varies depending on who has posted. Given the industry I work in, there is no consistency about who I follow; if I find a person or brand interesting then I will follow or connect.

It’s not unusual for me to wake up to someone posting an amazing view from a run or a report that looks at category insight about a given market. Both give me a reason to read, consider and reflect.

Posting to LinkedIn is simple and accessing a profile from the app has improved over the years. Reiterating it as a tool of choice for companies, at most events there is an option to scan a name badge and connect with someone through a QR code.

Not only does this reiterate the importance of LinkedIn for individuals and organisations but it also showcases how easy it is to use.

Posts and articles

What I like most about LinkedIn is the articles. As someone that writes for a living this will come as no surprise. What appeals to me most is that I can share my thoughts and opinions while also receiving clear analytics.

Unlike some social media channels, LinkedIn has the credibility that comes from relying on people to input their own professional information. This leads to fewer dormant or ‘fake’ accounts and more people that genuinely want to connect and converse.

Knowing those that I am connected with means that when someone leaves a comment or likes my article I will respond. This then leads to genuine and meaningful discussion. There is no harm in having a point of view and I find LinkedIn a more balanced place to do this.

I try to share an article at least once a month and have mixed them up a bit recently. Some focus on business and others are more personal. I don’t feel there is any harm in this as the objective is the same; people get to learn more about me and the way that I work.

Making the most of company pages

As an agency we manage company pages for our clients and provide advice and guidance on personal profiles. For me, once your profile is updated, it’s all about posting regular updates and spending five to ten minutes liking other information you have found useful.

I have met lots of people that have explained how they ‘don’t know how to do LinkedIn’ but the truth is that you don’t have to. The platform does much of it for you and will guide you through the steps to becoming an ‘All Star’.

You can then take your time working out the rest and can pay to become a premium member if you choose.

As well as updating your status, it is important to remember your company page. This is a reflection of your business to the outside world and gives employees a chance to share their thoughts and feelings about an organisation.

With this comes an authenticity that is rarely found elsewhere. Although company pages can be monitored and posts can be removed, they are often a true indication of the culture at a company. This is reflective of employees and what they share.

It is also a fantastic tool for building an employer brand and encouraging the best talent to your organisation. After all, if you employees are sharing the positives about your business, you don’t have to.

Grouping together

You can also join groups on LinkedIn, comment on articles and share links to external web pages that could add some value for those that are following you.

Again, the beauty about LinkedIn for me is that it is simple, effective and professional.

As someone that isn’t looking for a change of career or a new job, some people may ask why I bother with the platform. The truth is I know that many of my contacts visit the site and access the content that I share. As such, like any social channel, it is a valuable way for me to share news from the business.

Engaging with groups isn’t something I do as often as I should. I am a member of some groups but prefer to use them to read articles or links that are shared as opposed to creating relationships that are exclusively online.

One group I have been a member of for years is the Yorkshire Mafia. I joined because I thought it sounded interesting and slightly controversial. More importantly, the philosophy of the group that we are ‘stronger together’ also stood out for me.

With 22,000 pre-approved members it has a strong following and has been commended as one of the most productive groups on LinkedIn. I would recommend that anyone who just wants to join a positive and informative community of people takes the time to join.

Making the time

As with everything, updating LinkedIn takes time and any post that you share will be potentially available to world. So, while it may be easy to update your status, the same rules apply as to any channel.

My recommendation would be to set aside five or ten minutes a day and to review the content on your feed before liking, sharing and then updating your own status.

It doesn’t have to take hours and shouldn’t become a chore. If you set out with the mindset that it is part of your business processes, and a way to access information you may otherwise never have come across, then you lead with the benefits.

Looking to the future

I’m not sure what the future holds for LinkedIn. It is certainly a recruiters’ dream, and I can see why. Some of the updates I have had access to from the company, such as insights, have been developed with this audience in mind but there will be others in the pipeline.

Given I started this by saying I’m loving LinkedIn, I urge people to use the space to listen, learn and share. Given the updates that have been made to the functionality over the last year, I would expect further exciting features and updates are yet to come.

Only time will tell, but I believe LinkedIn has a great opportunity to take ownership and become the social channel for business. Whether a competitor comes along is to be debated, but it will take something special to catch my eye.

MAKING CONNECTIONS AT LEEDS BUSINESS LUNCH

Leeds Business Lunch

We have worked with the Yorkshire Mafia for years and really enjoy the events that the group host. Leeds Business Lunch, which took place on 23 October, was no exception.

It should have come as no surprise that Bibis was full to capacity. There were even queues out of the door. As we all enjoyed a welcome drink it was our first opportunity to chat to some familiar faces. At the same time we made new connections.

Within minutes I was introduced to someone I hadn’t previously met. We got chatting and found that we had some things in common, including those that we were associated with.

Looking around it was clear that everyone was doing the same. Before long it was time to take to our seats. What the YM does that sets it a part from others is push boundaries. Every event is bigger and better than the one before.

Three keynote speakers

This year’s Leeds Business Lunch followed that same trajectory with not one or two but three headline speakers. First up was Eve Roodhouse, Chief Officer Economic and Development from Leeds Council followed by Sinead Rocks, Managing Director for National and Regions at Channel 4 and finally, Richard Flint, Former CEO of Sky Betting and Gaming.

Each of them shared their insights into business and their thoughts on why the Leeds City Region has so much to offer.

Although they were all excellent, the one speaker that stood out for me was Sinead Rocks. Not only was she perfect for the event and definitely on topic, given Channel 4’s move to Leeds, but also incredibly funny.

The lunch was delicious but almost became a forgotten relative as people chatted and shared advice. The atmosphere was positive and there wasn’t a single mention of the ‘b’ word – well, not on our table anyway.

Leeds Drinks Evening

When Leeds Business Lunch came to a close, guests carried on with their conversations before heading across to Champhraya for the Leeds Drinks Evening.

Two events for the price of one, not bad!

Again, within minutes we were talking to new connections and meeting up with clients that we hadn’t had the opportunity to catch up during the lunch. The drinks were flowing, and the discussions continued before taxi’s were called.

Knowing how much hard work goes on behind the scenes at the Yorkshire Mafia, Janie and Ed did an amazing job. Not only were both events incredibly well attended, they also gave people the chance to meet with others from the business community.

The power of contacts

The power of contacts cannot be underestimated, and we are very fortunate that we have the opportunity to attend these functions and to put the theory that ‘we are stronger together’ into practice.

This morning, slightly jaded, we came into the office to receive an email which thanked us for our support and said: “You are an integral part of our team”. There is no better commendation than for a client to confirm this.

So, thanks to the Yorkshire Mafia, not only for being an amazing client but also for hosting the best events and inviting us along to experience them with you.

Now, where’s that coffee!