Hurrah! Applause! Kudos! Three cheers for Roget’s Thesaurus!


Our Content and Communications Manager, Hannah, takes a look at Roget’s Thesaurus and its importance.

Anyone involved in writing on a regular basis will probably be familiar with the feeling of knowing what it is that you want to say, but struggling to identify the particular word that will allow you to accurately communicate the precise meaning that you have in mind.

Enter Peter Mark Roget and his ‘Thesaurus’. In 1805, Roget was a young doctor who spent a lot of time lecturing and who, feeling the need to improve his powers of expression but unable to grasp the appropriate word in any sort of timely manner, devised his own instrument to help him to do so. Initially referred to as a ‘classed catalogue of words’, this became the first thesaurus.

To those of us whose natural instinct for locating an alternative word would be to turn to an online thesaurus, we would expect to type in the word or words that we can recall, which are close to the word we are looking for but are not quite right, and the thesaurus will provide us with a multitude of alternative suggestions.

But let’s consider for a moment how this same process would have worked in Roget’s day – i.e. pre-Internet. When searching online, (based on Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition) will present you with a page of words that are associated with the word you have entered. In print, this functionality is not an option. For instance, with a printed dictionary, we all know that you have to flick through the pages alphabetically to find the word that you are searching for and to read the description and variations of the word in question. However, whereas with a dictionary each word requires its own listing (as multiple words are never likely to mean precisely the same thing), a thesaurus does not index its entries alphabetically.

To list each of the entries of a thesaurus alphabetically would mean that each of the words would be reproduced many times – as many times as the word has synonyms. By repeating and reproducing these lists, using each and every word as a heading in its own right, the thesaurus would become enormous – physically – taking up significantly more space than a dictionary. By doing so, the ‘user experience’ (as we often now label this), would not be very positive and would no doubt deter many individuals from using a thesaurus at all.

In Roget’s day, using only paper and pen to keep on top of his growing encyclopaedia of words, he therefore needed to devise a system of categorising words into topics, so that each word only needed to be listed once – allowing many more words to be featured within the restricted confines of a printed reference.

Roget devised a method which groups all of the featured vocabulary under topic ‘heads’, for instance, ‘resentment’. The topic heads are then categorised further – for instance the verb ‘resent’ and the adjective ‘resentful’, under which people can find alternative suggestions for their particular requirements, e.g. anger (n), get angry (v) or angry (adj).

In the Conscious Communications office we boast a well-used, dog-eared, front-cover-less edition of Roget’s Thesaurus from 1966 (that, if you are interested to know, cost £1.75 new), which features 990 topic ‘heads’ – more modern editions may well feature more topic ‘heads’ to incorporate new trends in language as well as new topics (the Internet itself no doubt requiring new topics to be devised).

So does our team prefer to use our well-loved hard copy of Roget’s Thesaurus, or the online In the 21st century, we are afforded the best of both worlds; when we’re out and about we are able to search online for that phenomenal phrase that we can’t quite put our finger on, without missing a beat, and when we’re in the office we like to take a little more time to leaf through the hard copy to locate the exact language required. Either way, you are likely to find us singing the praises of Roget’s Thesaurus!

Top tips for running a Facebook competition

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Facebook competitions are a great way to increase engagement with your fans or create a buzz around a new product. Although it may seem like everyone knows how to run a Facebook competition, there is a lot to consider before going live. The team at Conscious Communications gives you our top tips to ensure your Facebook competition is effective – and also legal and adheres to Facebook’s own competition rules:

  1. Review Facebook’s Terms of Service – Every so often Facebook updates or changes its rules and regulations about running competitions and promotions. Make sure you check the Facebook Guidelines page before launching your contest so you know you aren’t breaking any rules. You must also make sure you include a disclaimer stating the contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administrated by, or associated with, Facebook, as this is a requirement. ShortStack created this handy infographic in January with some of the latest highlights.


  1. Set a S.M.A.R.T. goal (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely) – Make sure you clearly define the reason for running your competition and what you are hoping to achieve before you start planning. Are you looking to promote a new product? Do you want to expand your database or the number of followers you have on Facebook itself? Or do you perhaps need to boost traffic to your website? Once you know exactly what you are hoping to get out of your competition you can set up your contest for success.


  1. Choose the competition type – Once you have your goal outlined, you will need to choose the type of contest you are going to run. Caption competitions, where followers have to think up the most appropriate caption for an image, quizzes, polls and sweepstake competitions are always popular on Facebook so will work well if you want to reach a wide audience. Make sure that the amount of effort and skill required to participate is not so high that it acts as a barrier to your target audience participating.


  1. Pick a relevant prize – Choose a prize that will entice your target customers, rather than one that will be generically appealing (and try to make it a genuinely special prize – e.g. a £5 voucher is unlikely to be significant enough to encourage many people to participate in the competition). If you offer an iPad, you’ll get lots of entries; however, the people who are attracted to your prize might not necessarily be attracted to your brand. Once you have chosen a relevant prize, write enticing copy that includes key features of the prize, value, exclusivity and other benefits. Post this with a compelling image that will grab the attention of the audience you want to enter your


  1. Make your competition user-friendly – Some competition software is more mobile-friendly than others. Since most people access Facebook via mobile, be sure your competition includes a mobile-responsive smart URL. That way, the competition imagery and form will look good on both mobile and desktop. You can run a competition directly on your Page, now that Facebook has relaxed the rules, or through an app like ShortStack if you are interested in data collection.


Whatever type of competition you choose to run make sure, as with all other social media marketing activity, that it is authentic, engaging, relevant, and fun for your followers!


Emojis and marketing

Guest post by Kirsty T., work experience student from St Mary’s School, Cambridge

Emojis made their debut appearance in to the digital world in Japan in 1999, on some of the very first mobile platforms. The Telegraph went as far as to describe emojis as being “the fastest growing form of language in history”. The concept behind these icons is to be able to convey a message or an emotion through symbols, without having to use words. Emojis are universal, so as long as you have the appropriate device, anyone can understand them. As a result of this rapid change in communication, an opportunity has arisen for marketing experts to consider the use of emojis in marketing. Brands such as McDonalds, Ikea and Chevrolet are some of the first to lead the way by using emojis as a basis for branding their products or within advertising campaigns. Among the apparent triumph of these icons within the world of marketing, there are also many critics who appear to be sceptical about their effectiveness.

The first complication is that the meaning of an advert that uses emojis could be ambiguous if recipients are not using a suitable device that allows the recipient to view the emoji as intended. In some cases, if viewers cannot view the message as intended, the advert might not have the desired effect on a proportion of the target market. This could lead to the brand being seen as being too exclusive, if only smartphone or tablet users can access the content, which can have a negative effect on the product’s image. The digital era is relatively new and, for many who have not grown up with technology as a part of daily life, the use of emojis in marketing campaigns may prove to be too challenging to decipher.

On the contrary, there do seem to be numerous reasons as to why the use of emojis within marketing has been so successful in raising the status of a brand or product. First, emojis have proven themselves as a useful tool in increasing one’s popularity on social media; positive emojis are perceived as fun and upbeat. In a recent study Simo Tchokni of the University of Cambridge said “there is a strong link between emoticon use and social power”. The positive link associated with emojis can be used within a marketing strategy to make products appear upbeat and accessible. The fact that these icons are so universally understood, across linguistic and cultural demographics, means that campaigns will no longer have to be tailored to suit different audiences, widening marketers’ target markets and the potential number of consumers they are able to access through one campaign. It is also worth noting that emojis represent innovative and forward thinking, as they work in tandem with the ever expanding digital era. Therefore, when linked with marketing campaigns, the products also appear to be equally advanced and modern, which in turn develops their reputation.

It is of course reasonable to suggest that there are some contexts in which it might seem inappropriate to use emojis, in particular when discussing topics of an important or sensitive nature that need to be communicated conscientiously. But there are also many circumstances within marketing when it is relevant to use emojis to convey a message. The most important point when using emojis in marketing, as is the case with all marketing activity, is to note who your target audience is and whether the message will be interpreted in a positive way that will deliver success for your client.


The dos and don’ts of exhibiting at trade shows

The dos and don'ts of exhibiting at trade shows

Having a presence at a trade show or exhibition – whether as an exhibitor, sponsor, or visitor – can provide valuable opportunities to generate leads, showcase your brand or product, and network with potential customers, colleagues, and even competitors.

Of the three, exhibiting is likely to take up the most time and manpower – so it’s vital that you ensure maximum impact is achieved. The ultimate goal of exhibiting at a trade show should be to ensure that visitors remember your business, or product, at the end of a full day of taking in information and resisting sales pitches!

So, how do you get noticed in a space that is saturated by other businesses, and sometimes competitors, all trying to stand out? Conscious Communications is here to provide some of the top ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of exhibiting, to ensure that next time you exhibit, you will be a show pro.


The ‘dos’

These tips, although simple, will make a lot of difference to how you are perceived by visitors at an exhibition. The most important thing to remember is that, when you are manning a stand, you are representing the business; it’s up to you to create a memorable impression (for the right reasons) for visitors – otherwise you’re unlikely to generate a warm lead.

  • DO – request the right stand position. For example, if your business is a primary education provider, you do not want to be in the section of the exhibition dedicated to higher education. Book your position early to avoid disappointment; scope out the space to ensure your stand is in an area that receives maximum foot fall (usually the front of the hall or around the perimeter); and make sure you are surrounded by businesses that will be attracting your target demographic.


  • DO – investigate all opportunities that the show can offer. To ensure maximum business exposure take advantage of opportunities such as sponsorship packages, which can range from sponsoring exhibition literature, or Wi-Fi, to sponsorship of entire areas. Also enquire about appropriate speaker slots – these can draw a large crowd and offer the perfect setting to show your sector expertise.


  • DO – plan your stand design. You need to entice people to your stand, and then keep them there long enough for them to hear your key messages. Consider your branding, and what message you are trying to convey. Don’t skimp on creating and printing attractive banners, posters and leaflets – bad graphics and a poor print job are not going to attract the right attention. Promotional giveaways can also help to attract visitors and extend your reach beyond the exhibition; think about items that visitors may display on their desks at work. Bottled water is a big draw in a crowded, hot exhibition space and, if branded, will direct traffic to your stand.


  • DO – be proactive. Exhibiting at events is by and large a networking exercise. Take an active interest in your stand visitors: find out each individual’s name, role, and company name and sector. Record all information you can glean to make follow-up so much easier – whether by using scanners provided by the exhibition, or taking notes and collecting business cards where possible. Remember to write notes on each conversation, so that follow-up can be made by the right person and can be tailored appropriately. Once you know why a person is showing interest in your stand you will be able to share the appropriate literature, or next steps, to aide their enquiry – and so avoid mindlessly handing out marketing materials that are not relevant and will no doubt end up at the bottom of the pile they have accumulated on the day, or, even worse, in the bin!


The ‘don’ts’

Exhibiting at events is hard work – the hours are long and you are often on your feet all day without a break – standards can easily start to slip. Be aware of the following trade show faux pas to make sure your business is being remembered for all the right reasons, not the wrong ones:

  • DON’T – eat, drink, sit, read or chat amongst your colleagues whilst manning a stand. You need to create a professional, approachable presence which will encourage visitors to enquire about your business. Be aware of your behaviour and body language at all times.


  • DON’T – speak ill of the competition, even to your colleagues. Not only is it bad business practice, you run the risk of portraying insecurity about your own business to visitors too. Spend your time highlighting your business’s attributes rather than belittling competitors.


  • DON’T – attend the show without a goal. Ask yourself what you are hoping to achieve from exhibiting. Are you looking to attract new customers; build brand awareness; or simply scope out your competition? Exhibiting at shows, especially the larger, well-recognised ones can be expensive and attending without a plan is ill-advised – and easy for visitors to spot. Make the most of your time, and money, know exactly what you’re setting out to achieve and avoid looking out of place once you get there.


But don’t just take our word for it – try these simple tips next time your exhibit and see for yourself!

The enduring influence of traditional media

Traditional media

No one can dispute that traditional media have taken many blows in recent years – papers have come and gone, the most recent one lasting only a few weeks, and the industry has been subjected to the glare of ethical scrutiny that many would not have weathered.  Yet, against all odds, traditional media – papers, magazines, radio, TV – still exist and, in some cases, continue to thrive.  Granted they have had to evolve and develop new offerings to match the demands of their consumers, but while they now have dynamic and interactive digital channels, in many cases their original formats still exist and we can still enjoy the colour and gloss of celebrity pages in the doctor’s waiting room.

Readership numbers across all print titles are of course much more modest than back in the day.  Once the guilty pleasure of many millions of city slickers as well as blue colour workers, the Sun’s circulation has shrunk to just 1.7m.  But, that’s still 1.7m people who consume the traditional print version of a newspaper that has been around since 1964.

The earliest newspapers were published back in the 1600s, consider for a minute how many other innovations have come and gone in that time and you’ll have some understanding of the enduring influence and strength of the traditional media.

The fact is that from the day we’re born we love to absorb information and learn about new things.  We whoop and sigh at the successes and failures of colourful people, witness events from across the globe, absorb the luscious images of places we one day hope to visit.  So, what is it that makes some traditional media more successful than others?  Marketing professionals will understand that it is all about understanding your audience and tailoring your offer to suit their changing needs – media need to be flexible in their approach in the same was as other products and services.  Customer loyalty will not withstand the test of time any more than a relationships with someone who refuses to understand you or pay attention to your needs will.

This is how the longevity of special interest and niche trade titles is secured.  One of our most famous and robust trade titles, The Grocer, has been around since 1862, demonstrating how it can be done.  There is absolutely no doubt that these titles have retained their influence and that the independence of their editorial, and their knowledge of their markets, has enormous equity.  It also explains the relative success of newspaper hybrids like i, and the growth of digital news platforms, all of which appeal to our time-poor on-demand lifestyles.

The advantages for your business or brand of being mentioned in print editorial are still many:

  • By carefully selecting your target media with your editorial you are able to speak directly to customers and potential customers who have a genuine and current interest in what you have to say
  • These media can reach many thousands of people and the ‘wastage’ can be considerably less than through other channels
  • Editorial carries the implied endorsement of the journalist who puts their name to it and the publication in which it appears
  • Your views and opinions expressed through the pages of a newspaper or magazine will carry a considerable amount of weight, more than if they were posted on a website or distributed electronically


In the same way that many people still prefer to shop for groceries in person, enjoying and valuing the tactility of the experience, many people still enjoy the touch and feel of a good book, newspaper or magazine, or the immediacy and familiarity of their favourite radio station. But, ultimately, the key to success is in approaching your marketing and public relations holistically; researching and incorporating the right channels into your programme, whether they’re traditional or ‘new’ media.

Avoiding the pitfalls of social media flops

Is it worth jumping on a new social media bandwagon-

There is no shortage of blog posts and online articles telling you what social media channels your business needs to have a presence on, and it can be tempting to jump on the bandwagon as soon as a new social platform starts to generate a buzz online. But it is really important to consider whether each platform is right for your business before devoting any part of your social media strategy, and associated budget, to what you think might become ‘the next Facebook’. So how should you determine which channels are suited to your business? In short, your company should be active on the platforms where your audience is most prominent. It can be tempting to try and look like a trend-setter by creating a presence on a new channel, and the channels themselves could be huge hits, like Instagram or Vine, but it is important to remember that there are many social platform flops too. When was the last time you signed into Ello?

The three Ms  

A handy way to evaluate whether your business should be active on a social channel is to review the platform using the three Ms method:

  • Meaningful: Identify the channel’s strengths. Does the channel, and its primary audience, align with your brand?
  • Manageable: Don’t let your presence on your successful social channels suffer in order to accommodate a new platform within your strategy. Consider whether you can repurpose your content across your channels, keeping in mind the different audiences for each, and tailoring the posts accordingly.
  • Measureable: Are you able to measure the value of the platform? Certain channels, like Twitter, offer their own analytics tools, while others don’t make it as easy to measure but might still offer value to your business. How will you measure your return on investment in the channel?


When reviewing your social media strategy, remember what social media should be used for: to build and connect with communities. Do not to let your social media activity become a chore; take a look at one of our previous blog posts on how to manage your accounts in just 15 minutes per day. If used effectively, new platforms can be a great addition to your existing strategy, just remember to use the three Ms before jumping on the bandwagon!

Is Snapchat right for your business?


Most people have heard of or used Snapchat – the popular mobile app for sharing personal photos and videos, with the unique 10-second self-destruct on all “snaps” (messages) sent. Snapchat was originally launched to help teens stay in contact with their friends; however it is now widening its customer demographic to include businesses. With its primary function rapidly changing, Conscious Communications is here to help you decide whether your business needs to integrate Snapchat in to its social media strategy.  Joining a new social media channel and using it in the appropriate way can help successfully promote a business’ campaign (see these instances when businesses have creatively used Snapchat to their advantage) but before committing to a presence on the platform you must assess and audit whether it is best suited to your business objectives and, as with every social platform, if your company has the skills and manpower to use Snapchat effectively.


Statistically speaking, Snapchat is a very attractive social platform and could help a business reach an ever-growing network of Snapchat users. When considering whether Snapchat is right for your business, taking a look at its demographic is a good place to start:

  • Currently 100 million people are active on Snapchat daily and 60 percent of them post every day
  • 86 percent of users are aged between 13 – 37
  • 8,796 photos are shared every second
  • Daily video views amount to seven million


Transient content

Like it or loathe it, Snapchat is the first social network to make use of temporary messaging; this provides intimacy and immediacy – both buzzwords in the world of marketing. Users are only able to see stories (a string of snaps to create a narrative) for a maximum of 24 hours, creating the ultimate ‘in the moment’ story-telling content. Snapchat users are more likely to frequently check the app in order to make sure they don’t miss out on these transient posts. Any visual a business shares must be short, direct and, ultimately, creative to have the desired impact. The fast paced nature of Snapchat could influence the way your business generates new and exciting ideas to promote a campaign, offering a unique way to showcase your brand – thus combatting the issue of ‘banner blindness’; people’s tendency to ignore banner ads on websites, even when they contain information relevant to the visitor.

Immersive mobile experience

According to a survey conducted by Deloitte, people in the UK check their phones on average 27 times a day. The power of an addictive mobile app is not to be underestimated. Viral app successes such as the hugely popular ‘Flappy Birds’ demonstrate the real potential mobile apps have when it comes to attracting a large, and varied, following. With this in mind, Snapchat’s mobile-friendly app seems like the ideal opportunity for businesses that are looking to engage with the largely younger demographic. Snapchat also features the added bonus of full-screen and vertical content, meaning any posts are perfectly adjusted to the screen – a feature which is extremely important to the time pressured mobile user of today.

So, should your business be on Snapchat? The advice from the team here at Conscious Communications – if your objective is to raise brand awareness and your target audience is on Snapchat, then your business should be too. However, it is worth bearing in mind that Snapchat used to have a reputation for insalubrious messaging, which should be taken into consideration when deciding if the app is right for your business. Steer clear of jumping on social media bandwagons and examine the aims of your social media strategy before committing to a presence on any social network.

If you want to find out more, keep your eyes peeled for our blog post on ‘3 ways to use Snapchat for business’ coming soon.

Are we reading the last (w)rites of journalism?

Are we reading the last (w)rites of journalism-

Journalism is in an existential crisis: revenue to news organisations has fallen off a cliff over the past two decades and no clear business model is emerging to sustain news in the digital era.”

The recent announcement by The Independent that it will no longer be available in print, as of March this year, did not necessarily come as much of a surprise. The fast pace of online news and technological advancement – through online news aggregators, news apps alerting users of breaking news throughout the day, social media allowing sharing of stories that are of interest within a demographic, and live-streaming technology to see first-hand what is occurring across the world in real time – has offered would-be newspaper advertisers a plethora of alternative platforms to which they can allocate advertising spend.

And so, printed newspapers have been consistently receiving less and less revenue from advertising, as well as from a decline in sales. The larger national titles would have, in years gone by, brought in hundreds of millions of pounds per year. Now, as revenues continue to decline, they are no longer able to fund the journalism to the same extent as revenues continue to decline. The solution isn’t as simple as just steaming ahead with an online news portal and expecting immediate success. Those titles that have been pro-active in investing in digital portals (whilst persevering with print simultaneously) have only seen revenues in the tens of millions of pounds from their digital efforts. So until there is a clearer way to earn income through publishing news online, many titles will continue to struggle on, publishing news in print, for as long as they can afford to. But as they look to reduce costs to live within their means, journalists and journalism continue to be invested in less and less – with grave implications.

Spotlight, the double Oscar-winning 2015 film based on the true story of the Boston Globe’s investigative team of the same name, provides an example of why it is so important that journalism is invested in, and allowed to thrive. The Spotlight team uncovered the scandal of child abuse within the local Catholic Archdiocese – resulting in a shake-up of the entire Catholic Church. The repercussions of the discovery are still being felt in 2016, as the Catholic Church and the media continue to investigate the extent of the scandal. Who is to say how different the world would be, had journalists not steadfastly pursued and uncovered the truth, in this and many other situations through history?

One of the co-founders of The Independent, Stephen Glover, highlighted concerns about the quality of journalism being affected by a move to digital publishing – that there was a ‘longer question’ about whether online-only papers could support the same number of journalists and do the ‘same sort of journalism’ as printed ones.

So is the tale of The Independent a one-off? We fear not, with many industry professionals claiming that respected titles such as the Financial Times, the Guardian and the Telegraph will follow suit in the next few years. Although, just as soon as we heard the news about The Independent, we learned about the launch of a new daily paper; the publisher of the Daily and Sunday Mirror – Trinity Mirror – has recently launched a new daily paper titled New Day. Proposed as an ‘optimistic’, politically neutral paper, and ‘bite-sized’ to suit readers who currently no longer buy a paper, we wonder whether, as the i paper is to The Independent, this title will be to the Daily Mirror. We don’t think it will reassure Stephen Glover over his concerns about the quality of journalism… but at least it’s an example of positive action being taken, experimenting with a new format to find a reliable way to deliver printed news in the ever-changing news environment.

We sincerely hope that, through whichever portal and platform, journalism does not have to endure the reading of its last rites, but that journalists continue to write, for the benefit of us all.

The power of storytelling


Over the last few years brands have noticeably changed their selling strategies; they are now marketing products through a narrative – a story that takes an audience on a journey – rather than through presenting the more simplistic ‘BUY ME’ language.

This ‘storytelling’ style of marketing is multifaceted and focusses on telling the brand’s story, and using a variety of methods across multiple platforms. Think social media, print media and outdoor advertising to name just a few. Brands adopt this style of marketing in order to push out an authentic, and consistent, message which, in turn, builds a coherent and trustworthy image of its company. Generally, successful storytelling brands:

  • put the consumer at the centre of the story;
  • adopt a unique personality;
  • have a sense of purpose.


GoPro is leading the way with successful storytelling, as its ‘story’ is pieced together using social media engagement by people using its products – genius! The brand loves to share video content, stories and anecdotes from its customers, which builds a sense of community among its users; take GoPro’s Baby Ava YouTube video for example, the consumer is at the heart of the story.

Say it with pictures

Telling stories visually is the quickest medium of telling a story; on average a person’s attention span is between three and eight seconds. Statistics have proven that content marketing is vastly more effective through infographics and visuals. Images can help your business tell its story quicker and, more importantly, with impact and emotion. Our brains decode visual information 60,000 times faster than text. If you’re a small business, we would recommend using free tools such as Piktochart and Canva; online design apps that take little effort to produce high quality graphics. Each tool even offers design templates to cater to those who may not feel creatively inspired.

Start thinking like your customers and focus on their wants and needs. Tell them stories that they can emotionally connect with, create content that informs, entertains and provides value to your audience. In doing so, the content you create will build relationships with your audience based on trust that will ultimately drive real sales and business value.

The team at Conscious Communications can work with you to create unique, engaging and high quality content for all of your digital and print platforms. If you would like to find out more, please contact

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