Investors In People Awards 2015

image

As you may have previously read in our blog, we were shortlisted for Best Newcomer at the IIP Awards 2015. We had an amazing night, and it was a real honour to be shortlisted from submissions from 77 countries! Many congratulations to The Boxing Academy for its well deserved win! Here are a few highlights:

image
image
image

Social Media: 15 minutes is all you need!

image

We know that social media isn’t right for all
organisations, and certainly not all channels will be right for you, but it is
possible to manage your social media accounts in just 15 minutes a day so it
doesn’t have to be the arduous task that you dread.

But first for some general pointers…

Dos:

  1. Assess and audit which platforms are best
    suited to your business – does Facebook really offer the right target
    demographic for your business?
  2. Plan your time and resources effectively –
    there are many platforms out there which allow you to schedule your posts (e.g.
    Hootsuite and Tweetdeck) so you don’t have to be creating content every day
    when you log in, just monitoring
  3. Try and block out the same 15 minutes each
    day for social media activity – it’s a good lunchtime distraction!

Don’ts:

  1. Don’t just repeat the same sales message
    across multiple channels
  2. Don’t ignore or delete negative comments –
    they require a response and your followers will respect you for being open and
    transparent
  3. Don’t join a social media channel and leave a
    half completed profile for months on end; your potential customers and business
    partners will come across it and draw conclusions from what they find online

Ready,
set, go!

0-5
minutes

Login to your accounts and check your brand mentions – this
is your opportunity to respond to queries or negative comments.

6-10
minutes

Spend this time scanning your social media feeds and if
appropriate like, favourite, retweet and share posts which you think will be of
interest to your followers.

11-15
minutes

Find some great content to post – whether it is your own
company or product news, news from the industry, or something a bit more
light-hearted like a #FunFactFriday. No need to post it straight away; use a
tool to schedule a few throughout the day.

The future is bright, the future is Instagram

image

Instagram is the fastest growing social media platform year on year. With 300 million monthly active users, the app has moved quickly from the trendy iOS-only app, to a huge social network, now also accessible via Android and the internet.

In the last year, socially-astute companies and brands have stepped up their marketing initiatives on Instagram. Brands that are strategically active on Instagram have instant access to a platform to share personality and be creative and, in turn, immerse themselves in their fans’ daily lives. This growing trend of producing innovative imagery and video content has meant that volume of publications and cleverly crafted campaigns posted on the app has grown significantly. 

Last week Ballantine’s published a new magazine about whisky exclusively on Instagram. The cleverly dubbed ‘Insta-zine’ is titled W and you can find the first issue at @w_issueone. It features a mosaic style grid of images that together make up the front page – users can tap on individual posts leading them to different articles.

Could this be the future for magazine publishing?

image

Brands have toyed with the Instagram grid before; one of our favourite examples was last year’s art-directed campaign by Mazda and JWT Canada. However, the fact that users do not typically view the images in the mosaic grid form seen in the above image, but rather as a feed of stand along images, impacts how visually successful these campaigns really are. 

This month will see the first ever book to be published via the app. Jason Sperling’s new book Look At Me When I’m Talking To You, will publish one illustrated page each day for 160 days, starting on 25 June at @lookatmebook. The idea is to reach people where they are already consuming media on a daily basis, rather than try to force them into a different pattern of behaviour – a key point of the book as well.

image

Sperling said: “The Instagram idea was a reactionary thing. I gave the book to several people to read, and after several weeks, no one, not one person, had started to read it…that led to the ‘a-ha’ insight/connection that these days people are ingesting content in small, mobile chunks. So, why can’t a book be built that way?”

Will you be upping your Instagram game?

How the other half live – offline

image

As connectivity becomes more widespread and increasingly faster, many of us are clamouring to secure mobile phone or tablet tariffs which include endless data bundles. Habitually we find ourselves complaining if we stumble in to an area lacking in 4G, or are forced to use a venue which doesn’t offer high speed Wi-Fi.  68 percent of US adults don’t go an hour without checking their smart phones, while 75 percent of millennials are disconnected for only an hour per day.

In highly connected environments advertisers use connectivity to their advantage: displaying a short video clip or image keeps a viewer’s attention; a URL invites the audience to click for further information; buttons for sharing content are featured to ensure content is shared socially with other audience members. All of this activity is intended to encourage the audience to interact with, become more aware of, or purchase from the advertiser’s brand.

Do any of us ever stop and think about the real cost of each megabyte, outside of our inclusive bundles? Probably not… unless you’ve gone over your data allowance for the month, or you’re travelling abroad, at which point you realise how badly you rely on data day to day, and how difficult life becomes when you’re disconnected or rely solely on Wi-Fi.  

Only ten years ago we were largely unconnected, most of the time. We had mobile phones but they weren’t ‘smart’. Our desktop connections were wired. Facebook wasn’t yet an open system. Now, nearly half of the global population is online, with almost a third on social media.

What is life like for the other half of the population, who remain offline?

As well as the debate about the positive or negative social impact of being so connected, of which there are already many articles written, another difference between online and offline cultures is the influence advertisers hold. Brands and online platforms aren’t having the same impact (especially in the same way) in offline environments, and aren’t making as much money as they would like. They are not able to utilise the same practices which are working so well online.

Some are adapting to the different environments, for example Twitter’s acquisition of ZipDial – a mobile phone marketing start up. The popular South Asian practice of ‘missed calls’ is used by marketers to connect with people who are much less likely to visit a website – due to high costs and limited connectivity. By sharing a unique phone number (as opposed to a URL) on print or TV advertising, the call to action is to call the number but hang up before connecting, meaning the ‘enquiry’ is free of charge. The brand can then send out relevant information at no cost to the enquirer.

What are the barriers to connectivity?

The ‘missed call’ solution doesn’t seem to be sufficient for Mark Zuckerberg. The biggest barrier to online brands reaching people in third world countries may come as a surprise to many; it isn’t a lack of infrastructure which is the main hurdle, instead it is the cost of data. Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has announced he is going to bring free internet connection to countries who are currently offline through the internet.org project, which will pave the way for online brands and online platforms to reach the half of the population who are currently (perhaps blissfully) unaware of the extent of marketing they are potentially about to become subjected to.

We look forward to seeing the extent to which Mark Zuckerberg’s initiative changes global connectivity, and the resulting changes to the way we communicate with each other and are marketed to.

Battle of the Marketing mix hierarchy

image

public relations noun

1.   the practice of creating, promoting, or
maintaining goodwill and a favourable image among the public towards an
institution, public body, etc.

marketing noun

1.   the provision of goods or services to meet
customer or consumer needs

Someone
recently said to us “Justin Bieber has a great PR strategy”.  As communications professionals this really jarred us and not just because we’re not Beliebers: a) based on this we have to question
people’s understanding of what PR is and b) we question how any of the situations
that the pop artist (loosely speaking) has been in are based on a public
relations strategy as we know it. Crisis management is key for celebrities
prone to saying the wrong thing but advising Justin Bieber to apologise for
breaking the law isn’t “PR strategy”; it’s common sense and damage limitation.

It isn’t
just PR which has varying forms of definition; the terms PR, marketing and
social media are all bandied around, with one being mistaken to mean the other,
and more frequently being used in the same sentence to mean the same thing – a
total blurring of lines. This was bound to be the case with the rise of digital
PR (combining traditional online PR with content marketing, social media and
search) and new marketing platforms and social media apps popping up every day.

Of course when
analysing this evolution of the PR and marketing disciplines we must take into
account that it is largely driven by the general public’s changing behaviours.
There is an increasing trend for consumers to use social media to find
information (trusting reviews from friends more than an article in a newspaper)
and, thanks to social media, it is increasingly difficult to control a brand’s
message. But where does social media fit into the marketing mix, is it via paid
channels or earned media?

Prudential Financial CCO Bob DeFillippo, now
retired, once said:
“Reputations
are not built through advertising campaigns”. We need to ensure that
opportunities aren’t missed that can only be obtained through earned media – in
explicit terms we can’t solely rely on paid for platforms to disseminate our
messages.  To reach our target audience
we must use our earned media in combination with our paid for platforms and
owned channels; it is still a fact that customers will believe and trust
something they perceive to be editorial far more than an advertisement.  

At
Conscious Communications we take an holistic approach to the marketing mix
formula; we use market knowledge and audience insight to define the most
effective mix of digital and traditional public relations, social media,
digital and traditional marketing and advertising within each client programme,
for influencing perceptions, behaviour, purchasing and consumption patterns.  As strong communicators we are committed to questioning
and challenging what is happening in our industry and how it affects our
clients in order to deliver the most effective balance of PR and marketing.

Your reputation – why it’s important

There is no
doubt that if your company has a strong reputation, you will attract better
people to work for you, your customers will be more trusting and loyal, and you
will be able to charge more for your products and services.  The bottom line is that reputation equates to
‘value’ in the market and can give your company a tangible edge over the
competition.

We have all
seen in recent years how corporate reputations can be shattered and the
subsequent damage to the underlying business – your company may not be a major
corporation but your reputation is still very precious and you fail to protect
it at your peril.

Your
reputation relies on the perceptions of your customers and other stakeholders,
including suppliers, business partners and employees.  In protecting this reputation it is important
to ensure that the reality of your business continues to match these
perceptions as it grows.  It is also
important to understand that as the world around us changes, the views and
demands of our stakeholders will also evolve, and that what your company offers
needs to change too to meet new demands.
A gap between perceptions and reality will lead to disgruntled
stakeholders and a damaged reputation.  

The best approach to reputation management is,
of course, to ensure there’s nothing negative to say and that no one is saying
it – this can be easier said than done.
A good reputation must be earned and once established needs constant
attention.

What
best to do?  Here are our top tips for
building and managing your reputation
:

1.    
Company
mission and values
:
A strong reputation starts with a clear mission and set of values which the
whole company buys into and lives by.  If
you can demonstrate a set of clearly articulated values and know that your
company’s behaviour mirrors these, then you’re well on the way. The things that
will impact your company’s reputation span right across the organisation, from
the way that you answer your phones to external callers, to your credit control
systems, the look and feel of your office, the way that you treat your suppliers.

2.    
Products and services: Your company’s reputation depends on the
quality and consistency of what you offer your customers.  If this isn’t right, no amount of marketing
spend will make your business grow.

3.    
People: Every single person within your business needs to feel responsible for
protecting its reputation.  To achieve
this, all employees need to understand and feel part of the mission and values,
and of the company’s growth and success. Put a thorough induction plan in place
for new staff and implement a training and internal communications programme to
keep everyone engaged.

4.    
Manage and learn from mistakes: Things can and do go wrong – we are only
human and most of us employ other humans to help us build our businesses.  So it’s important to monitor and predict
where weaknesses may be and have plans in place to deal with them quickly and
effectively.

5.    
Communicate: Building strong relationships with your customers is very
important for lots of reasons, some less obvious than others.  When your reputation is in question, loyal
customers can provide an important ‘balance’ to any negative noise around your
company.  Also, customers who are engaged
with you and your company are more likely to let you know in a ‘helpful way’
when things are not as they would hope; less engaged customers will be more
inclined to shame you using public digital channels.

6.    
Divide personal from professional: Keep personal matters private and well away
from social media to help protect the reputation of your business.  A social media policy will help to guide your
employees and ensure they understand what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour –
it is advisable to include this within your core employment contracts.

7.    
Get social: Your social media strategy should help you to monitor the
views and opinions of your customers, while also instigating and engaging in conversations
with them.  Learn a lesson from the big
brands which are now using social media channels for their front line customer
service – a prompt response to complaints and questions on social media can
turn a potentially damaging situation into a customer service success story.

8.    
Take responsibility: Now more than ever, customers, suppliers and
other stakeholders will expect your business to deliver more than just
profit.  They will be looking for
evidence of how your business is maximising its positive impact on the communities
in which it operates and minimising its negative impact on the
environment.  So, develop a corporate
social responsibility plan and make sure your stakeholders are aware of it.

9.    
Media training: Make sure spokespeople have had relevant
media training and are able to manage media interviews if the company’s
reputation is questioned.  It is vital in
times of crisis that you are not seen to be ‘hiding’ from the issues; you need
to present a concerned, reassuring and professional face for the business.  Stick firmly to the facts and do not try to cover
up truths – your customers deserve your honesty and will respect you for it.

Break through the noise

image

The digital marketing landscape is more crowded than ever before; it is becoming increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd – and most importantly your competitors. 69 percent of marketers are creating more content in 2015 than last year and are using an average of seven social media platforms for marketing purposes.

To increase audience engagement you need to create compelling, meaningful and timely content. Here are our top 10 tips on how to break through the noise:

1.     Understand your brand position and audience – this is easier to get a handle on for B2C businesses but is equally important for B2B companies. Try creating audience personas for target customer groups – this can help you identify content topics that are engaging for users.

2.     Always put your reader first – it’s easy to post content that you are interested in but what about your readers? The only way to attract potential leads is to think of your audience’s interests first.

3.     Be unique – no one wants to read regurgitated content.

4.     Be selective – avoid publishing the same content but with a different title. Do not post content for the sake of it, make sure you always have something interesting to say, otherwise don’t say anything at all.

5.     Avoid over publishing – once you have mastered selecting golden nuggets of content, make sure you give your posts time to breathe, or your audience may miss them.

6.     Keep it simple – it’s tempting to attempt perfection when creating content but a good rule of thumb is: don’t let perfection get in the way of progress. Content that is relevant, timely, unique and important has the most chance of creating an impact on your readers.

7.     Be the first – say it before it’s been said.

8.     Try to make your audience smile – balance your content with a mixture of light hearted and informative posts.

9.     Be creative – when developing your content be original, think about unique layouts and styles of posts. Be imaginative and create your own infographic or make a word cloud. There are some great free tools out there to use. Our personal favourites are canva.com and piktochart.com.

And finally…

10.  Don’t forget to put the word SOCIAL into social media – always remember you are trying to engage your audience in conversation.

Our copywriting team develops marketing strategies that utilise original, curated and repurposed content to conscientiously promote its clients as thought leaders, while building engagement with their business and consumer audiences, stakeholders and influencers, via traditional media, digital and social media, blogs, websites. To find out more get in touch via info@consciouscomms.com.

This month at Conscious Communications

Here’s
a taste of what our team has been up to …

Accolade

The second issue of Accolade,
the termly magazine for St Mary’s School, Cambridge, has been put to bed.  This issue focuses on all things Performing
Arts.  Working closely with the design and
school teams, we have successfully initiated a change in direction for this
school magazine

Brains Eden

Brains
Eden Gaming Festival is an epic celebration of young games creators and the
world-leading games studios, including Jagex, based in Cambridgeshire – this
year Conscious Communications will be managing the event and looking after the
media relations in the lead up to and during this famous four-day extravaganza!
The team is excited to be part of it – and is especially looking forward to the
Games Jam, in which over 150 games course students will take part.

LodeStar Festival

Conscious
Communications is LodeStar Festival’s marketing partner for 2015.  The team has hit the ground running building
awareness and raising the profile of the festival to attract corporate
involvement.  Opportunities for companies
to get involved include sponsorship, team building away days and more! Call us
if you’re interested!

Spring Fair

We
have been out and about this month – Zoë went off to Country Living Magazine’s
Spring Fair in London to have a sneak preview of the new homes and interiors;
food; garden and crafts products on offer.
She also met this little fella!

Education Show

The Education
Show is the UK’s leading training and resources event; education professionals
come together to discuss policy and best practice with their peers. The
Conscious Communications’ team is passionate about education and Alison went
along to the NEC in Birmingham to meet and network with the key players.

Click here to start building your PR and marketing strategies
We're recruiting