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Current post's date 20/08

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RT @Text100India: And in other news this week – We welcome @LexisAgency to the @text100 family! https://t.co/DqKdI7sOrk https://t.co/Y4XeDs…

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RT @Aedhmar: We're excited to have @LexisAgency merge with @text100 expanding our consumer credentials https://t.co/W6BpqLzRKx via @prweek

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RT @Text100de: Aufregende Neuigkeiten: Wir schließen uns mit der Consumer-Agentur Lexis zusammen. Willkommen im Team, @LexisAgency! https:/…

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RT @Birgitmunich: Sehr schön, wir freuen uns auf die Zusammenarbeit mit unseren neuen Kolleginnen und Kollegen von @LexisAgency https://t.c…

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RT @prweekuknews: Consumer agency @LexisAgency merges into @text100uk as MD Dominic Shales steps down: https://t.co/uRQrSCSchd #pr #comms h…

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RT @LeeNugent: Welcome to the family, @LexisAgency. If you swing by this way on your travels, I'll make sure the kettle's on. https://t.co/…

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RT @HannahsTweet: Welcome to the family :) https://t.co/8WR2JKd5Fy

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RT @Jesslouisekirby: Big day for @LexisAgency! Looking forward to being a part of the @text100 global network https://t.co/hEyzNVmEo4

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Exciting times as @LexisAgency becomes part of @Text100UK in London agency merge: https://t.co/swyrBsFKXU

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Throwing it back to some of the great moments captured by the @OpenUniversity reflection cube last week #OUreflect… https://t.co/WeKCrQCYXN

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@lexisagency_life coverage moves 💃🏻 on the terrace #pr

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Exciting times as Lexis Agency becomes part of @Text100uk in London agency merge: http://www.text100.com/2017/06/22/text100-lexis-unite/

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Team outing to @channel4 yesterday for the first screening of @theopenuniversity new advertising campaign ☀️🎥🎞

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We're #TeamPineapple over at Lexis today...the lovely @pizzahutuk are giving away free Hawaiian pizzas at selected huts in honour of Sam Panopoulos, so bring your pineapples and head on down 🍍🍕🍍 #BYOP

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Well done Reverb! Today we are celebrating our events team, for their amazing work producing two simultaneously fantastic press days! #Events #fashion #PressDay

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Nothing like a baby shower farewell. Your adventure starts here @huwaiina 🤰🏻👶🏻🎉🎉

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It's #NationalReceptionist Day!! So today we celebrate the one and only @maxi_belle ... You are more than a receptionist to us and we love you! #PR #Work

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We officially checked in to summer at the @cocacolaeu Beach Club last night ☀️ with our very own flight crew @katieod1 & @kingjords on board too ✈️🏝 #cokesummer #pr #events #cocacola #summer2k17 #holidayseason

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Happy birthday and warm wishes to our amazing @sarahtipping 🎉🎉 🎂

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Mirror mirror on the wall... 🤳🏻On the Southbank with our stunning reflection cube for @theopenuniversity #openuniversity #oureflect #mirrormirror #study #university #reflectionroadshow

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How society is trying to squeeze the creativity out of brands

By Jessica Kirby, Account Manager Working in communications, we are always looking for how to convey something in a ‘creative way’…

By Jessica Kirby, Account Manager

Working in communications, we are always looking for how to convey something in a ‘creative way’ for the brands we work with. This can mean a number of things, but our entire intention of this is to land a message in a more meaningful and connected way. Sometimes, this isn’t easy but there are brands out there that do a fantastic job at being the brains behind those ‘I wish I’d thought of that’ ideas.

Yet, in 2017, a time when we’re supposedly embracing fresh new ideas, we are constantly terrorised by a collective group of people I like to call: the creativity crushers. Now, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that sometimes things can be a little off the mark (cough Pepsi cough) but there are some genuinely great ideas out there that people are tearing down in flames.

Our society is becoming warped by the idea that it is compulsory to have a strong opinion on everything we see and that we must share it globally via social media. This in itself is strangling the creativity which is the heartbeat of our industry.

As a pretty highly opinionated individual myself, I’m all about having the confidence to share your opinions and to let your voice be heard but more and more I find myself shocked by the incredulous and almost petty arguments that consumers are picking with brands.

One example of this is Dove’s latest campaign. For as long as I can remember, Dove has been heralded as the beacon brand in the beauty category for embodying real women and its new campaign is yet another extension of this. The brand has reshaped its bottles in different sizes as a visual representation to demonstrate that we are all different sizes but that’s ok. Cue the creativity crushers. Social media is aflame with insults, hate tweets and sharp-tongued opinions over something that ten years ago would have been held up as revolutionary.

So what does this change in society mean for the future of creativity? We know as comms people that we will never please everyone, but our job is set to become harder. Even the most simple activations will require us to consider all potential responses and if necessary abandon ideas which are genuinely brilliant. Communications professionals will start to lean more towards applying a corporate lens before pushing ideas through to execution stage as otherwise, brands will be left open to attack. If this is the change we’ve seen over the last decade, who knows what the campaigns of 2027 will look like?

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Trends That Will Shape Experiential Work in 2017

By Laura Jay, Head of Reverb 2017 is the year for technological innovation in the events and experiential marketing arena…

By Laura Jay, Head of Reverb

2017 is the year for technological innovation in the events and experiential marketing arena and according to Event Magazine (2017), among the biggest experiential trends are artificial intelligence, co-created experiences, social media integration via live video and virtual reality.

Jumping on these trends, more and more experiential agencies will be utilising the benefits of these emerging ‘cool kids’ of tech, weaving them into their experiential marketing strategies to widen consumer reach, whilst creating rich and inspiring content for their clients.

So what are these technologies and what are the benefits?

Here they are in a snapshot:

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Intelligent technology continues to evolve to communicate with humans in more sophisticated ways. Weaving its way into consumer’s lives, often without them even realising it, AI drives Amazon Echo’s voice recognition, Google’s search engine recommendations and Apple’s Siri. However, what these intelligent technologies are helping brands to do is build better consumer experiences, allowing them closer access to individuals by building personal relationships in ways that have not been possible before.

Live Video Through Social Media Platforms

Bringing stories to life in real-time, Snapchat and Facebook Live allow consumers and brands to enjoy live amplification of an experience that, in return, can potentially reach a global audience. However, the challenge for a brand is to get under the skin of what excites and inspires these wider audiences to ensure nothing is lost in translation, whilst also addressing the potential risks of being unable to control the output of the content.

Combining Virtual and Real Life Experiences

Pokémon Go is a perfect example of a blended experience, where consumers are able to interact with virtual realities from wherever they are. This year will see more and more brands look to feed consumer curiosity and fascination for augmented reality by using these technologies to engage them in new experiences.

The prediction is, that eventually the lines between the real and virtual world will be completely blurred, impacting significantly on communications planning.

It is not new news that our world is changing.

We spend a large percentage of our time each day on social media, potentially more than we do talking to our friends and family – we post an eye watering 1.8 billion photos on social media every day, of which 17 million are selfies.

We are, some would say, addicted to our online life.

As technology continues to evolve and develop and the lines and boundaries continue to blur, the focus will shift towards cultivating personal and unique experiences and interactions, with social amplification and content creation forming a key component.

Media, PR, digital, social media and events are no longer considered standalone. It is imperative that they all play a role in one strategy and find routes where, together they can talk to, play with, educate or inspire the consumer.

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‘Have I got ‘news’ for you?’

‘Fake news’ appear to be the two words on everyone’s lips right now and have even been blamed for the…

‘Fake news’ appear to be the two words on everyone’s lips right now and have even been blamed for the election of Donald Trump. A phenomenon that is chipping away at the principles of traditional journalism. Fake news is the idea that false information is being published and disseminated to the public under the guise of authentic news, either on fake ‘news’ websites, via social channels or through spokespeople. But what exactly constitutes ‘fake news’ and how is it affecting the PR industry?

On a daily basis we consume news through traditional print channels, mobile apps and on social media sites. Often these channels are owned by respected publishing houses or brands, but in today’s digital world social media has given everyone the power to be a journalist and to create ‘news’.

The definition of news is transforming as a result. Sometimes what appears to look like ‘real’ news sites to readers, in reality contains articles based on fake content that is disguised as ‘real’ news by ‘real’ journalists.

The public is able to communicate what it wants on social media too – it can be challenging for their peers to know what to believe. Shockingly, 30% of people are unable to spot fake news articles and even find the appearance of fake news sites authentic. Additionally, traditional outlets are having to compete, turning towards increasingly sensationalist stories to gain the public’s attention. So what can we do about it?

As fake news infiltrates the media landscape, it becomes even more saturated with an increase in sensationalist articles. PR agencies and brands need to cut through the noise to project (and protect) their stories. As more people turn to sensationalist stories for their news, brands also face fake brand stories becoming trusted over the authentic information we distribute to the media. Even one piece of fake news could be damaging to a company’s reputation too, as it spins a web of falsity that influences how readers perceive that company on a global scale.

But we must not let the storm of fake news beat us. There are different ways we can try to tackle its damaging effect. Firstly brands need to have a strong message to communicate. If they are able to have a strong presence against misinformation and stick by their company values and ethos this is likely to gain better cut-through in a noisy market.

Strong relationships with the media are really important. If journalists receive false information from a source of fake news, we can work with them to correct this and provide the facts to counter the claims. Additionally, since anyone can be a citizen reporter nowadays, having a strong social media presence can help brands establish themselves as an anchor point for what is accurate (and easy to find). Lastly it is important that we create content and stories that are hard-hitting and honest in order to fight off the flow of fake news stories.

Even though this battle is just the beginning, taking these steps can decrease the negative impact that misinformation has on a brand’s reputation.

It is reassuring to see that traditional news outlets are also fighting back. The New York Times, for example, has started a ‘Hard Truth’ campaign with a central message of ‘“The truth is…hard….hard to find…hard to know…more important now than ever.”

And while it appears that fake news is going to be around for a while, as communications professionals let’s do our bit to find and communicate the hard truths. That’s how we protect ourselves, our industry and our clients.

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Don’t Feed The Trolls

As Twitter becomes the latest social media platform to roll out new anti-abuse features to fight against online harassment, it’s…

As Twitter becomes the latest social media platform to roll out new anti-abuse features to fight against online harassment, it’s apparent that trolling is still a major problem for those wanting to use social media for the right reasons. Whether trolling takes place against a person or a brand, it’s happening.

All. The. Time.

So, just how can we as communications experts stop it? In short, we can’t. But what we can do is try to prevent online communities or brands from becoming targets in the first place.

There will always be ‘keyboard warriors’, and the more social media platforms a brand has, the more it opens itself up to being a target and the harder it becomes to control. However, how a brand responds can either encourage further trolling, or prevent it.

For example, we’ve all seen witty brand comments in response to a troll go viral (ahem Wendy’s!). But this can also increase the level of negative interaction a brand receives, as trolls react in their own way for a few seconds of viral fame.

As such a brand has to be consistent – whether that is to constantly ignore and block trolling behaviour, or instead take a stance to respond with smart, witty comebacks. However, no matter what, responding to trolls needs to align with a brand’s tone of voice. For example, it just wouldn’t do to see the NHS Twitter account getting sassy towards social media users!

Whilst humour may sometimes seem the best way to respond, it also has the opportunity to fall-flat (different people do, of course, have different senses of humour). Once a comment is online, it’s very hard to go back (even if it is deleted after a few seconds) and users are extremely quick to screenshot posts.

Therefore, it is crucial to think ahead about how to combat certain topics and be consistent with the brand’s tone of voice. Strict media guidelines for those managing these channels have to be implemented which ensures there’s a ‘rulebook’ that can be referred to when trolling or complaints take place online.

Brands and individuals should also avoid posting anything too controversial. It’s very easy to jump on the bandwagon and commentate on political or cultural topics, but these can be emotive and with one view, comes a counter-argument.

In reality, the only way to protect your own channels and avoid backlash is to simply post comments or content that is relevant to your brand or industry and avoid anything that may reflect personal views or ignite controversy. Remember – don’t feed the trolls!

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What should you want from your talent partnerships?

The celebrity partnership is a marketing tactic stalwart, because for years, the public took ‘traditional’ celebrity brand endorsements as something…

The celebrity partnership is a marketing tactic stalwart, because for years, the public took ‘traditional’ celebrity brand endorsements as something they legitimately supported. Remember when David Beckham featured on the ad for Brylcream?

But cynicism for advertising is at an all-time high. The public’s realisation that many of these celebrities only endorsed brands because they’d been paid to do so created a demand for more transparency. Cue the introduction of #spon and #ad to the social vocabulary.

Bloggers and Vloggers rose to prominence because they were members of the public giving their opinion on brands, projects and products. This approach is genuine, authentic and the reason why, peer-to-peer marketing is considered the most trusted form of marketing (The Neilson Global Trust report in 2015). Word of mouth has always been and will continue to be the most powerful and credible way to help influence someone’s decision. A survey of 1,470 women by SheKnows Media in 2015 also found that 86% wanted product recommendations from real people and that 58% turn to YouTube reviewers to get them.

Lexis’s recent partnership with Tailify, enables brands to connect with an online marketplace of content creators, influencers and talent to help brands tell an authentic story. Here we give some useful tips, to show how can marketeers can ensure talent lead partnerships offer the same rewards.

1) Identify your target audience and which influencers are considered credible and trusted by them

2) Narrow search further by keeping those who have a personal connection to the brand/product/project – the most genuine and engaging partnerships have seen brands put consumers’ interest first over their own in order to gain and build long term relationships with new and existing followers

3) Provide creative freedom – let creators create in their own style to avoid alerting their cynical advertising ‘radar’

4) support content with clever paid tactics to extend reach

So when you’re next looking to partner with a celebrity or influencer, think about what you want from it. Is it that famous face to gain one-off coverage or to build on an already existing relationship with an influencer with less followers but high engagement rates, resulting in something genuine?

Let’s face it, it’s pretty obvious which one is more important in the long run.

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Lexis announced as an official marketing and communications partner for ‘Maritime Connects’, a global initiative for UK enterprise spearheaded by The Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council

We’re delighted to announce that Lexis is an official marketing and communications partner for ‘Maritime Connects’, an initiative spearheaded by…

We’re delighted to announce that Lexis is an official marketing and communications partner for ‘Maritime Connects’, an initiative spearheaded by the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) with the aim of rapidly driving economic growth, job creation and prosperity throughout the Commonwealth. Maritime Connects, announced at The House of Commons today, aims to rapidly accelerate and assist growth of UK exports and investment across all 52 Commonwealth markets.

The initiative leverages the latest technology to rapidly accelerate and assist the growth of UK exports and investment across the 52 Commonwealth markets, representing 1/3 of the world’s population and with a combined GDP of $10.4 trillion. Ourselves, as an official communications and marketing partner will provide companies with the necessary marketing solutions for success and will offer a suite of services across the marketing cycle, from market-sizing and scoping through to business planning, strategy and implementation of campaigns in-market. We will support with expert consultancy at each or any stage and will also take on full delivery of outputs when required.

Increasing trade with other Commonwealth countries is a huge opportunity for UK businesses. There is a clear appetite for British products and services in the largest Commonwealth markets and this growth is what Maritime Connects aims to facilitate. Today, we’re also publishing independent research, which polled 1000 consumers from Nigeria, South Africa, Australia, India and Canada, and was carried out by our Next 15 partner, Morar Consulting.

The research suggests that The Commonwealth, now more than ever, presents a unique and timely opportunity to ambitious UK exporters seeking to grow their businesses internationally, UK goods and services are regarded as the most popular imports, ahead of US, German, Japanese, Chinese and French. Almost three quarters of respondents (72%) overall feel they have more shared cultural values with the UK than with any other countries in Europe whilst 84% of Indian respondents share this opinion.

The majority of respondents feel positive about the future of their country’s relationship with the UK, with 59% thinking the relationship will be ‘stronger’ by 2020. 16-29 yr olds feel most positive (70%) than other age groups polled, with respondents from India feeling overwhelmingly more positive (88%) than other countries polled.

With regards to Brexit, almost three quarters of respondents (70%) say that it has not altered or it has improved their opinion of the UK; over one third (35%) of Indian respondents now think more positively about the UK following Brexit.

The vast majority of respondents (76%) consider UK goods and services to be ‘quality’. However almost half of respondents (45%) find them ‘good value’ and almost one fifth (17%) find them ‘exciting’ which could indicate an opportunity for budding businesses looking to market themselves across this vast region.

We’re thrilled to be part of such an important project for the future growth of the UK and look forward to the huge opportunities that this will present!

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Snap’s IPO: a story worth saving or just another dodgy filter

Who would have thought that in the space of 5 years, we’d have gone from “what’s the point if it…

Who would have thought that in the space of 5 years, we’d have gone from “what’s the point if it disappears after 10 seconds?” to “I’m a talking frog”.

That’s the story of Snapchat in its simplest form anyway. In a bit more detail: the app has gone from an idea in a university dorm room to a multi-million dollar global business.

The Numbers

With approximately 160 million daily active users globally by the end of 2016, a growth of around 22% since the start of 2016, there is no denying that the social media app has the firepower to tussle with the likes of Facebook and Twitter. All of this has accumulated to the news that Snapchat’s parent company, Snap Inc., filed for a $3 billion IPO at the end of January.

To those who don’t know, this basically means that Snap Inc. is going to sell its shares on the US stock market, allowing investors from all over to take their slice of the Snap Inc. pie, should they wish. The co-founders of Snap, however, are said to be seeking a hefty $25 billion valuation on their social media company after revenues of $404 million in 2016. Just to give you an idea of the height of this valuation: when Twitter went public in 2013, they sought to value their company at $14.2 billion after revenues of $316 million, around 40% lower than that of Snapchat.

Snap Inc. admitted to a loss in 2016, to the tune of around $515 million, meaning no profit, i.e. no earnings, were made. Therefore the usual price-to-earnings ratio would not hold up. Instead, analysts have used the price-to-sales ratio as a method of quantifying how much they believe investors will be willing to pay for each dollar of revenue. So, maths caps on.

Twitter = $14.2bn: $316m of revenue = approx. 45:1.

Snapchat = $25bn: $404m of revenue = approx. 62:1.

What this ultimately means is that Snap is asking for a valuation 62 times their sales. From what I can tell, that’s rather a lot. Whether or not investors will bite is another question.

Not the stories…

Unfortunately, I can’t comment much more on the financials of this bold move because I left my MSc in Investment Banking at home. But from a user perspective, I have to say I’m not too sure how I feel about this. From my point of view, the only thing that I can cross my fingers for is that it doesn’t have any impact on the app itself.

Currently the app makes the majority of its money through advertisements and endorsements, namely allowing companies to produce micro-content on Snapchat’s easily navigated ‘Discover’ page. I’m a big fan of this content, whether it is the incredible recipes on Tastemade to the tech updates on Mashable. However more recently, the app has snuck in an advert or two while flicking through my friends’ stories.

Now while this is a relatively minor inconvenience, it is another example of how saturated with promotions the app could potentially become. I’m sure I speak for plenty of people when I say there’s nothing worse than an app you know and love being taken over by advertisements. If Snapchat are going to display more advertisements in their app, there is a call for more creative and innovative ways of doing so. In other words, leave my stories alone.

Although realistically there should be minimal correlation between a high level of investment in Snap Inc. and the decline of Snapchat, I just can’t help but be sceptical. One thing is for sure; they better keep that puppy filter. It’s adorable.

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Life at Lexis: Look no further for agency experience

After millions of ‘help me, I’m a graduate’ emails that I shot out to every creative agency under the sun,…

After millions of ‘help me, I’m a graduate’ emails that I shot out to every creative agency under the sun, I was overcome with relief when I secured a work experience placement at Lexis. I had been dying to gain some proper agency experience so that I could really get an understanding of how they work and how they run, and I can say that I got just that.

So I turned up at their amazing Bermondsey Street office (dangerously close to my favourite place in London, Borough Market), whose communal bottom floor boasted a fridge full of Coca Cola drinks to help yourself to, a table tennis table, a foosball table and shelves of pick and mix. Good start, I thought to myself. Rebecca, their HR Executive, gave me a quick tour around the place and then we headed to their office space.

Their main space sums up all of their core values; it is open, fresh and amazingly collaborative. No sense of hierarchy whatsoever; the higher-level directors sit with the account executives, creatives, the finance team etc., working together seamlessly. I sensed a high level of energy as I walked in, with music playing throughout the office and a great deal of communication going on. After a brief chat with Marieta, a Senior Account Executive, and then I got straight into it.

Right away was asked to do some research on a new client, put it in a PowerPoint, and then to attend a meeting later on in the day to go over it. This was perfect; being thrown straight into the mix on the first day is really beneficial. I liked that even though they had only just met me that day they trusted me enough to leave me to get on with something, and to then contribute my ideas in an actual meeting.

Every morning a few people will gather round and have a look through the day’s papers, flagging up any interesting PR stories or any news that relates to their clients. This is a great part of the day, not only to keep up with what’s what, but just a generally good way to start your day. It is just another example of many where Lexis really does foster an environment of collaboration and idea sharing from top to bottom.

This was the theme of my time at Lexis. I was given a great variety of stuff to do and work on, and not just from the same level of the business. Julian, the Creative Director, asked me to complete a questionnaire on a potential new campaign idea for another one of their clients. We then had mini brainstorm about some aspects of the idea following my answers, which I found incredibly interesting.

Now as with all companies in any industry, it is granted that there are some less-exciting jobs that simply need doing. But here, it is much better balanced with the other, more interesting tasks I was given, much more so when compared with previous placements I’ve done, where my closest friend was the printer.

Coming into an agency of any sort for the first time, I did have this image of a creative agency that the office would be full of egotistical, O.T.T. creatives who try way too hard to separate themselves from the norm and out-do each other on niche-ness. But I got absolutely none of that from Lexis; everyone is incredibly genuine, down to earth, and really, really nice. They take their work seriously, as they should, but they also acknowledge the good times in between.

One thing that I really do have a look of gratitude for is the fact that they actually gave me the time of day. It’s nice to know that there are agencies out there that are willing to help people like myself who crave a step into a creative agency, and don’t just slam the door in your face as soon as you mention ‘graduate’.

My advice would be this: if you’re thinking about having a taste of an agency pie, just like trying anything for the first time, come in with an open mind and enthusiasm to learn as much as you can. The work that they will give you does actually have a purpose, so make sure you put your all into it. Finally, ask questions, talk to people and get stuck in.

So if you want to get into PR, or just want to have a crack at life in an agency, I wouldn’t look further than Lexis. Thank you guys!

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How Trump is Trumping Twitter

By Kiefer Casamore, Account Director at Lexis Agency Love him or hate him, the President-Elect Donald Trump’s Twitter is a…

By Kiefer Casamore, Account Director at Lexis Agency

Love him or hate him, the President-Elect Donald Trump’s Twitter is a true powerhouse and with just a few days until he’s sworn into the oval office, let’s look at how he harnessed the platform’s capabilities to make it one of the most read and re-shared Twitter accounts in the world.

Simplicity

Some may argue that Trump uses the channel to lambast what he views as unfavourable media coverage and to challenge celebrity naysayers – but look a little closer, and you’ll see purposeful messages that make for quick, shareable content.

For example, the four-letter slogan ‘Make America Great Again’ has successfully connected with millions of voters. Speaking and tweeting in short bursts of easy-to-read text has proven to not only reach a massive audience but more importantly, resonates.

This thinking applies to brand messages. The simpler they are to articulate and understand, the more powerful and memorable the branding becomes, allowing people to immediately connect with it.

Frequency

In 2016, Trump averaged 375 tweets a month through to the end of November, according to TrumpTwitterArchive.com, a searchable database dedicated to cataloguing all of Mr Trump’s tweets, making him the most prolific presidential candidate tweeter ever.

Trump clearly knows that there is no time for rest – and brands should take note. There isn’t a strategy to tweet more on weekdays vs. weekends, or only from nine to five. For him, it’s an always-on approach that never backs down from a chance to respond in real-time.

Arguably one of the most famous examples of real-time marketing was when the lights went out in the New Orleans Super Dome during Super Bowl in 2013; Oreo’s social media team quickly tweeted “Power out? No problem”, accompanied by an image featuring an Oreo, followed by “You can still dunk in the dark.” It was sheer creative brilliance with impact to match.

Put simply, Twitter allows your brand to get its message out there and take control of the conversation quicker than any other channel.

Breaking the rules

Perhaps not surprisingly, Trump breaks all the rules when it comes to common social media etiquette. He constantly says negative things about the competition and his sheer willingness to offend others and not apologise goes against all convention.

Whilst this not a suggested tactic for brands, there is a good argument to suggest that brands should play it less safe. With Trump, it has allowed him to receive huge amounts of free publicity every day from media outlets willing to broadcast and scrutinise his latest controversial comments.

Paddy Power is an example of a brand that isn’t afraid to put themselves out there and play it less safe on Twitter. Its regular use of provocative content to promote, entertain and engage has built them 613k followers on Twitter, making it the most popular UK betting site on the channel.

Be unique

Finally, Donald Trump stood out from the other Republicans because he didn’t sound or act like the other politicians – this was also reflective of his Twitter. Brands should look to be entertaining in a way that’s distinctive, but also relevant by aligning interesting content with the needs of the industry space they play in.

Ultimately, if you aren’t entertaining your followers or adding genuine value to their everyday lives, they will look elsewhere.

 

 

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Lexis is 25!

Lexis was founded 25 years ago today and throughout this year, we will be marking the milestone by looking at…

Lexis was founded 25 years ago today and throughout this year, we will be marking the milestone by looking at what we’ve learned over that time to help us forge the agency’s future.

When Bill Jones and Tim Adams set up the business, they wanted to establish a superbly creative agency that delivers excellent commercial return for clients, and at the same time being a great place to work.  These principles remain absolutely core to Lexis as an agency today and are encapsulated in our values: Progressive, Effective, Ambitious, Collaborative and Energising.

Our people and clients may be different – and let’s face it the communications business itself has utterly transformed in the years since 1992 – but our pride in doing a brilliant job for stellar clients remains as strong as on day one.

The agency will inevitably change and evolve in future, but we will continue to look back and take inspiration from the past: all the people who have worked here, the clients we have worked with, the amazing campaigns we have run, the awards we have won and the other successes that have created the Lexis of today.

More to follow….

In the meantime, happy birthday to Lexis!

Dominic Shales, Managing Director

 

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Embracing the ‘definitely maybe’ years

By Dominic Shales, MD, Lexis What a rollercoaster 2016 has been.  So much has already been written about the unexpected…

By Dominic Shales, MD, Lexis

What a rollercoaster 2016 has been.  So much has already been written about the unexpected turmoil caused by the seismic events that I’m not going to reflect back, but try to look forward into 2017 and 2018.  How will people in the UK be affected? How will they react? How should brands and companies respond?

In my mind, we are entering the ‘Definitely Maybe’ years: We know that things will Definitely not be the same, but we can’t predict (or plan) except against a host of Maybes –  we simply don’t know what will actually happen.

That uncertainty – caused by a whole host of factors such as the Brexit vote, the election of Trump, the resulting economic landscape or even just a sense of malaise – is already infusing life for most people in the UK.  And this particularly true for the JAMs (Just About Managings).  But it’s having an effect across the whole of society.

Setting aside the political ‘stuff’ let’s look at the economy and the predictions for 2017.

UK GDP growth is forecast to be around 1% – 1.5% for 2017 by leading economists (although there are differences of opinion about this, interestingly to some extent across partisan lines of Leave / Remain!).  This is still higher than the forecasts for mainland Europe, but below the pre-Brexit vote trajectory.

At the same time, it is commonly agreed that inflation is set to increase. PWC forecasts 2.7%, others somewhat higher, with the highest from doom-mongers suggesting it could reach 5%.

The EY Item Club (even before Brexit vote) predicted a perfect storm that will affect the ‘squeezed middle’ most. They suggest spending growth will fall from 2.9% in 2016 to 2% in 2017.  Martin Beck, senior economic adviser to the EY Item Club, said: “From 2017, a number of factors ranging from a pick-up in inflation to cuts in welfare will create a ‘perfect storm’ which will hit household income growth hard.”  Mr Beck said the “triple lock” on state pensions, which guarantees that they rise by at least 2.5pc a year, and the introduction of the national living wage would cushion the impact. “Low earners and older people will be spared from some of the drag, but the rest of the population will see growth in spending power slow sharply from the rates enjoyed recently,” he said.

On the other side of the coin, ongoing low interest rates will continue to benefit spenders!  In particular, home owners with mortgages will continue to have historic low repayments, leaving them with more monthly disposable income.

How does this all affect the British consumer psyche?

Against this backdrop, people will obviously react in different ways.

For some, big life decisions may be rushed through with a sense of ‘screw it, I’ll do it’ or (as history suggests from the 1920s and 30s) they may become more pleasure-seeking and carefree.

For others, it may result in putting big decisions on ice, hunkering down and being more sensible and frugal.

A recent Psychology Society report into the impact of the Brexit vote on Brits says: “One thing has become only too horrifically clear, that we are living in a divided nation. The gaps (or should that be the chasms) that exist between us are now crystal clear and they lie on the fault lines of wealth, of race, left- or right-leaning politics, and of geography, and many are scared that it will be evident on almost any aspect of difference.”

We’re basically all swimming around, searching for buoys to hang onto until the choppy seas subside.

And, looking into summer 2017, there’s nothing special taking place that can take our minds off life or transport us away from the mundane. No Olympics, no World Cup, no Jubilee to bring the nation together again.  This is an opportunity for brands to jump onto!

What are some more tangible predictions as to how people will change their spending patterns?

In a survey carried out in October, PwC found that, despite the volatile state of sterling, maintaining spending on next year’s main holiday remains a priority for British consumers over the next 12 months.  Of those surveyed 35% said that their main holiday would be a spending priority over the next year, after grocery shopping which 45% of respondents saw as more important. Some 22% of consumers highlighted their main holiday as a possible spending cut, with eating out (39%), going out (34%) and clothes, shoes and accessories (28%) remaining as the top three likely savings, should consumer finances tighten.

And a separate Barclaycard survey in October said 81% of shoppers expected to see an impact on the cost of everyday goods from changes in inflation over the next 12 months. Reflecting a more general trend for consumers to favour experiences over things, spending at pubs and restaurants was also up strongly, by 12.5% and 12.2%, respectively.  Cinema spending also rose a record 20.9% on a year earlier.

Will there be an impact on the requirement for businesses to ‘do good’?

Not much has been written about the future of ‘ethics’ going into 2017.  However, it is probably fair to assume that the relative importance of ethics vs price may be diminished slightly, as it was in 2008/9 following the financial crash.

That being said, the millennial / Gen Z consumer has grown up with a deeply ingrained requirement for ethical behaviours, that is unlikely to be shifted.  They want that combination of value and quality AND high ethical standards.

So, I think it is safe to say that ‘doing good’ is truly here to stay as a requirement for all businesses.

How will this context affect brand and corporate communications?

I feel there is a huge opportunity for brands and companies to forge positive reputations with consumers in these uncertain times.

Winning brands will be setting themselves the task of becoming true consumer champions.  This could be manifested in any number of ways.  Tangibly this could include offering best prices, increasing rewards, launching new products that cater even better to consumer needs, investing in service excellence or committing to continue balancing profit and principles (even when under pressure financially).  And these winning brands will also be setting out to show their champion credentials through communications and marketing activities that set a tone of possibility and optimism while demonstrating that they are firmly on the consumer’s side in everything they do.

At Lexis we will be advising our clients to embrace the Definitely Maybe years.  They have the potential to be transformative in a very positive way!

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7 steps to being an influential brand on social media

This post was written by Kuku Sobodu – Digital Account Executive at Lexis. We live in an age where everyone…

This post was written by Kuku Sobodu – Digital Account Executive at Lexis.

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We live in an age where everyone and their grandmother is online. Seriously, you’d be surprised as to who and what has a social media account! Today’s brands dwell in an online arena that is saturated; brands and consumers alike are battling to be truly prominent, impactful and influential.

To this end, we’ve put together the following seven tips, which every brand should use to help stand out – boldly and confidently – in an ever-changing social media climate. So, without further ado:

1. Don’t focus on your products

It’s time to beat the misconception that paints content marketing as a detailed way for brands to talk about its products and services. Instead content marketing should be engaging information linked to your brand’s industry. To make sure you are keeping to best practice try this formula: 80/90% of your content is industry related, with the remaining 10/20% being promotional content.

2. Always be authentic

It’s hard to get away with being anyone but yourself on social media these days. Your fans and those who are not your fans will see right through it and errr, chase you down. With this in mind it’s super important for brands to know who they are and be exactly that on social. Make sure you have an opinion and let it be on the right things so you can hold your own in conversation and be truly authentic

3. Quality over quantity

As a brand, it’s normal to want to have a large following on social media, truly it creates the illusion of influence. But that’s just it. In many cases it is an illusion. It’s important to understand that on social media quality trumps quantity. Does your audience trust you and agree with you? Do they like and comment. What’s your engagement like?

4. Are you listening

What is being said about you, your competitors and your wider industry? What is being said about your audience’s interests? Make sure you’re on top of this, so that you can be a step ahead in your communications.

5. High profile key words

Key words are every brand’s best friend. Not only are they important for driving traffic, but for building brand influence also. Keyword research can help you optimise your content to build a large following by causing you to rank highly in online search.

6. Your network is your networth – get connecting

As a person it’s very hard to be credible without anyone to vouch for you. The same goes for brands. So it’s important that you are connected to influencers. As credible, trusted and authentic sources, establishing the right relationships and partnerships can do wonders for your brand’s reach and your reputation.

7. Data, data, data

There’s nothing worse than brands that continue to push out content that suits their needs but that is detested by its consumer. Take time to understand your consumers and give them what they want, the way they want it. Use data to inform your content creation and strategy. Use the analytics to find out what works, what doesn’t work, also use it to find out when it works best.

If you have more tips, share them with us! Sharing is caring and it’s also social media currency ;)

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How do you get brands onto a bandwagon? Pokémon…

Miles Freeman, Account Manager at Lexis Agency, discusses why brands should think carefully before riding a cultural bandwagon. Not for…

Miles Freeman, Account Manager at Lexis Agency, discusses why brands should think carefully before riding a cultural bandwagon.


Pokemon-go

Not for a moment do I doubt the potential that Pokémon Go offers the marketing and communications industry. It’s a game-changing application of augmented reality (AR) and possibly one of the best opportunities yet to target ‘millennials’, an audience that typically rejects direct advertising or more established marketing methods. Already some big brands have successfully harnessed it as a marketing platform but my question is whether jumping on this, or any other cultural bandwagon (‘brandwagon’ anyone?) is an effective and sustainable way to reach consumers.

We’ve all seen the videos of Pokémon Go’ers scrambling over each other to find a rare ‘Vaporeon’ Pokémon that sprang up in Central Park, NYC (if not – here you go). Global appetite appears infinite and the apps momentum seems unstoppable. But are we acting naively in assuming this will continue – we all know that fads can fade as fast as they grow.

Certainly there are brands where utilising the platform is a no-brainer. McDonalds Japan has seen a significant uplift in sales after it partnered with the games’ developers, turning 3,000 restaurants into ‘Pokémon Gyms’. This success, however, can’t be replicated with ease. Like most bandwagons – there isn’t room for everyone.

Every company, every product, has a brand goal and a strategy for how it’s going to get there. The temptation is often to view bandwagons as faster and more lucrative ways to achieve that goal. But that isn’t always the case.

So where do we, the communication industry, fit into this debate? Well we’re the bastions of cultural trends, right? It’s our job to recommend to our clients which cultural currencies they should be buying into – and which ones they shouldn’t. The vast majority of investors look for long-term options as it often yields a greater return, and it’s no different for brand fame.

The current success of AR apps certainly validates the importance of investing in progressive technologies to engage and entertain customers. But, brands shouldn’t rush to capitalise on this and risk compromising its own brand messaging. Anyone else a little confused by Mercedes’ recent partnership with Pokémon Go to lure players to dealerships?

Whatever the outcome for Pokémon Go, it’s clear this is still early days for advertising and marcomms in the VR and AR arena. There is an immense opportunity for the strategic application of the technology but brands must consider carefully before they jump onto the bandwagon. I guess my advice on embracing these ‘brandwagons’ goes against that of the Pokémon motto: “You haven’t gotta catch ‘em all!”

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The importance of engaging in key seasonal events

This post was written by Huwaina Amir, a Digital account manager at Lexis With Father’s Day just having passed, and…

This post was written by Huwaina Amir, a Digital account manager at Lexis

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With Father’s Day just having passed, and both online and offline channels being invaded with momentous campaigns and promotions, I thought it would be a good time to write about the importance of engaging in key seasonal events.

Every brand has its own values and heritage, these calendar dates give brands the chance to celebrate who they are, show off their vision and live and breathe their brand essence.

With the new financial year starting in July, for many businesses, it’s important to plan ahead and ensure marketing activities are in sync with their target audience’s needs and time based interest. This means ensuring effective planning – not just around holiday dates, but also other calendar based events, in line with your customers’ thought processes and motivations. It is important to get involved where appropriate rather than shamelessly hopping on every hot topic, trying to shoehorn this in an attempt to drive sales, as this can dilute the brand’s key messaging.
The stance should rather be to have a seasonal calendar and keep on top of news, participating on dates that abide by and reflect the brand pillars. Oreos are great at their agile marketing – making the most of current trends, news and seasonal events. Examples of this include supporting Gay Pride, the Super Bowl blackout, the birth of the rare giant panda baby (couldn’t resist to add the cute image below), amongst many others.

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Once the relevant events have been shortlisted, it’s all about finding the right channels for marketing comms and delivering activities creatively, uplifting the brand perception and providing a form of engagement or benefit to your audience. The key is to get involved before the peak, so that you can establish yourselves as leaders, rather than group yourselves amongst the followers, and to have an integrated approach, so not to allow the activities be episodic. This will provide your customers the opportunity to be part of a journey and maintain front of mind awareness.

In summary, the key ‘takeaways’ from this are:

– Know who you are as a brand and understand your customers’ needs and motivations

– Plan ahead and embed key seasonal dates in your marketing calendar, but also keep on top of news to not miss the chance to build a relationship with your customers where possible

– Only participate in activities where events are in line with your brand essence and your customers’ world

– Find the right channel to deliver your key message and ensure it benefits both your brand and your customers

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Reverb Events produces M&S Xmas in July event

Our Reverb Events team have pulled out all the stops to produce a sparkling Christmas in July press event for…

Our Reverb Events team have pulled out all the stops to produce a sparkling Christmas in July press event for M&S Xmas today.  The “mirror, mirror” theme devised by Reverb is prominent across all parts of the event at One Embankment, with a unique mirror Christmas tree sitting proudly as the centre-piece.

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The Lexis team has been popping in through the day to take a look and support the Reverb team.  And the journalists seem to be loving the event, sampling the amazing food and drink (who says you can’t drink infused gin in the morning?!) and enjoying all aspects of the M&S Christmas experience.

For a flavour of what we will be enjoying this Christmas check out #mandsxmas16 on social media.

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PR – Is it just a load of case studies, press releases and glitzy events?

PR = ‘blighted by case studies’ and not strategic enough? Or at least that’s what Alex Aitken, executive director for UK…

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PR = ‘blighted by case studies’ and not strategic enough? Or at least that’s what Alex Aitken, executive director for UK government comms, said at a recent global PR event. So is it time for the industry to have a facelift? Do we need to get better at doing our own PR?


Rhianna Brien is a Senior account manager at Lexis.

It’s disappointing when we hear comments like this about our industry. It’s always been a bit of a bugbear of mine when people’s response to a job in PR is: “ohhh so you go to lots of glitzy events and spend your days writing press releases.” In actual fact, the press release and broad brush sell in approach is fast becoming out-dated – and I rarely get to go to glitzy events!

PR incorporates much more than just media relations, encompassing anything from issues management, investor relations and stakeholder engagement to government and industry relations, internal comms and corporate responsibility. But it seems as though people either don’t always realise this or don’t see enough of the strategic side of PR.

People often don’t think about PR agencies as actually doing the campaign planning or creative work, coming up with concepts and executing them from start to finish. At Lexis, we’re trying to change this perception of PR. We’re encouraging our clients to move away from the idea of ‘coverage for coverage’s sake’ and think carefully about their end goals.

Strategy should always come first

One of the first questions we ask is: “what would success actually look like?” Strategy should always come first; then tactics will follow. This may seem obvious but too often people use methods that have worked in the past – case studies, press releases, journalist meet ‘n’ greets – because that’s what they’ve always done. And it feels safe. But we’re here to challenge that.

PR needs to be considered during the early stages of any new campaign, project or product launch – rather than being an add-on at the end. Objectives should be closely aligned with the overall business objectives to ensure the results are meaningful and add real value. It’s important to be clear on target audience, how best to reach them and what themes and messages will resonate. Sometimes it’s a case of going right back to the drawing board and commissioning research to get to know your audience better: what drives them and potential barriers and misconceptions. This will help develop the most effective communications strategy – insight really is a valuable tool.

While it might look impressive to get a name check in a national newspaper, is it always the best way to communicate your brand story, change perception or reach a new audience? Sometimes a dedicated stakeholder engagement campaign – targeting just a small group of key individuals – can be far more effective. Here, media outreach might not be necessary at all. Instead, a sophisticated (and very targeted) social media strategy or a small but high-level event which gets some of the most important people to your business in one room, may be the best way of communicating.

Maximise content beyond the press release

It’s also important to consider how you can maximise content beyond just the standard case study or press release. Sometimes a well-considered blog post for a company’s website or an animated infographic shared over social channels can generate as much brand awareness as an article in The Times or Telegraph. Content really is king – and good-quality content that resonates with the target audience (without being self serving) can be one of the best ways to form stronger relationships with customers and build brand loyalty.

That’s not to say that media relations can’t be successful or isn’t important – it’s just to say that good PR is so much more than that. Good PR has the potential to increase revenue, attract new customers and ultimately make or break a business – and it’s just what Alex Aitken wants to see more of from the industry.

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You wouldn’t compromise brand sentiment in-store, so why do so on Twitter?

Miles Freeman, Account Manager at Lexis Agency, discusses the importance of customer service on Twitter and why a poor social…

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Miles Freeman, Account Manager at Lexis Agency, discusses the importance of customer service on Twitter and why a poor social media strategy is the worst gamble of brand equity a company can make.


Twitter – a platform for customer service

We’ve all done it, that passive aggressive Tweet to your bank, a national rail firm or even a high street restaurant following poor customer service or a negative experience. We all then attentively monitor our Twitter notifications awaiting a response in the quest for social media retribution. If you’re currently shaking your head, I’m afraid I just don’t believe you….

Twitter is now the ‘go-to’ method for consumers to vent their frustration and it seems that some brands are not well equipped to handle it. A recent mystery shopper study by BDRC Continental found that some of the UK’s most established retailers are actually among the worst brands for answering customer queries on Twitter. In fact, the top performers were high street banks and credit card brands.

To conduct the research, BDRC Continental sent over 9,000 tweets to 395 high street brands in 32 different market sectors. Each response was then ranked by the quality of answer, additional information offered, tone of voice and the perceived effort put into the response. All of the selected brands were sent the same 25 queries by 25 different users to allow for benchmarking.

Ignore Clarkson, it’s not all about ‘speed’!

Now I’m certainly not one to point the Twitter ‘finger of shame’ but I was fascinated to see which 10 brands were listed as the fastest for customer service on Twitter, by response time, and which 10 brands were listed as the slowest (Click here to save me peril of naming and shaming).

That said, customer service on Twitter is not all about speed – it’s about being concise and helpful. To be successful, brands must be consistent and treat everyone as an individual. Let’s use the example of a physical retail store – brands don’t selectively choose who they want to speak with, they aim to speak with everyone that steps through the doors. The same approach, within reason, should be adopted on Twitter.

When looking at the top five sectors for quality of customer service (arguably the more important measure) banks and credit cards topped the list followed by DIY retailers, insurers and gambling companies. Scrolling to the bottom of this list we find those sectors in need of improvement – grocery (convenience), clothing retailers, sports equipment, electronics (mobile/computers) and restaurants.

So, you ask, what can be learnt?

Well, any company that has an active Twitter account must firstly have the appropriate resources and processes in place to respond to every consumer. To improve brand equity and sentiment, companies must be consistent and helpful in how they communicate. An investment in getting this right will always pay dividends – and prevent descent into that dreaded bottom five.

Whilst the financial sector has had its fair share of PR woes over the last decade, it’s learnt that good customer service on Twitter can be an ‘easy’ PR win. Granted that these institutions may have large social teams in place to manage social and PR, but it’s this mind-set that brands should take heed of.

All brands endeavour to take care of their customers in person, so why not do so on Twitter? By no means do brands need a small army of Twitter guardians but instead a succinct and robust strategy, with clear protocols in place to ensure all correspondence can be carefully managed.

More often than not, it’s common sense that is the key to efficient Twitter management – something US Airways could have benefitted from after it responded to a complaint on its Twitter page with a pornographic image. (Although – the post did receive more comments and retweets than the news of the Pulitzer Prize award that broke at the same time!).

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The Power of the Press Release: Writing Skills and PR

This post was written by Harriet Sharp, Account Manager @LexisAgency As professional communicators, we all know that using the right language can…

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This post was written by Harriet Sharp, Account Manager @LexisAgency

As professional communicators, we all know that using the right language can be incredibly powerful in ensuring your clients are recognised by the right audiences on the right platforms.

Strong written content is a crucial tool in the PR industry; an attention-grabbing press release can make a journalist sit up and take notice, whilst a cleverly worded tweet can get someone to consider a brand in a whole new light.

But, in an age when editorial space is at a premium, attention spans are shorter than ever and social channels are crammed with brands vying for consumer attention, it is becoming increasingly difficult to produce written content which stands out from the crowd.

So, what’s the best way to ensure your writing makes an impact on the right people?

  • Tone of Voice – The average national journalist receives several hundred emails from PRs a day and spends less than a minute reading each, so a long-winded, humdrum press release is more than likely to be destined for the bin.

Whilst it might sound obvious, highlighting the most important part of your story in your introduction– is it a new product? A world first? An exclusive partnership or announcement? – and using punchy, vibrant language and a killer headline goes a long way to convincing a journalist your story is worth writing about.

  • Cut the Waffle – How often have you felt your concentration slip when reading a long or complicated sentence? With busy lives and a million distractions surrounding us (from that email in your inbox to considering what to have for lunch), the human brain needs as much help as possible to remain focused.

Keep your sentence structure concise so it is easily digestible and make sure the first two paragraphs cover the main points of your press release – ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ – before going into intrinsic detail. The perfect press release shouldn’t require a journalist to ask any further questions about your campaign.

  • Attention to Detail – Know the difference between ‘your / you’re’, ‘it’s’ / ‘its’ and ‘then / than’. What might be a simple spelling mistake can imply a lack of care to the person reading your release – why should they bother to read it if you haven’t sent them the best possible version?

So, in today’s hectic world of work let’s make sure we set aside the time to provide strong written comms. With attention-grabbing video and picture content, written materials can often be an afterthought when pitching to media. Spending time re-reading your press release, pitch email or tweet before pressing send can ensure valuable results.

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Learn from David Bowie’s reinventions and embrace marketing industry change

David Bowie’s genius was in understanding that artistic reinvention wasn’t a choice; it was a necessity. Rather than let the…

David Bowie’s genius was in understanding that artistic reinvention wasn’t a choice; it was a necessity. Rather than let the physics of time – and its inevitable impact on popular culture – define his work, he simply flouted its rules and embraced it wholeheartedly, right up until the end.

Life imitates art and the media and marketing industries have seen their fair share of mavericks, daredevils and provocateurs through the years – creative leaders who have thrived on change.

The 1960s advertising guru, Howard Gossage (some say) invented interactive advertising, social media – even “buzz”. His Pink Air campaign for gasoline company Petrofina was viral gold. Scooter Braun, Justin Bieber’s manager, was laughed at when he claimed he’d discovered the world’s next global star on a website called YouTube. More recently, Ryan Holiday certainly turned a few heads through his work at American Apparel, creating something that’s truly disruptive.

I’ve witnessed wholesale change first-hand in the industry. I remember the hours spent in the mailroom, packing 400-plus press packs in time for the five o’clock post, faxing statements to the newsroom and biking physical photos across to hugely influential lifestyle magazines. We had an intranet of sorts, but you were lucky enough to receive only a handful of emails, most of which were actually important.

That was in 1998 and, although some fundamentals remain, the communications business is now vastly different. It has been an exciting ride and some may be tempted to breathe out, relax and remain comfortable in the belief that we’ve finally come through the other side of this revolution.

However, this is just the beginning.

Futurist Ray Kurzweil talks of the law of accelerating returns, where human progress has the ability to evolve at an ever-increasing rate. Artificial intelligence (AI), the current industry buzz-term, will be eventually superseded by artificial super-intelligence (ASI), defined by philosopher Nick Bostrom as “an intellect that is much smarter than the best human brains in practically every field, including scientific creativity, general wisdom and social skills”. Varying arguments exist as to when, or if, this will happen and what the implications are. How many communications pros understand how this might affect our world in the future?

Forget tomorrow. What about today? How many experts in the multi-billion dollar social media industry are aware that more than 75% of online content is being shared through dark channels (channels that are undetectable through analytics engines) and not through Facebook and Twitter? This presents an enormous challenge to our clients and the industry.

We’ve all got to stay engaged with technology. We’ve all got to dissect new innovations, debate their usage, explore and expound upon their merits, insist that clients try them out, be willing to fail, and try again. Gartner predicts that by 2017 the chief marketing officer will be spending more on technology than the chief information officer. The geeks are inheriting the earth, so get on board.

The successful marketer will grapple with this rapidly changing world, embrace it and be invigorated by it. One thing for sure – and to borrow from Bowie – is that we don’t know where we’re going from here, but it won’t be boring.

 

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B2B engagement doesn’t need to be dull: it should and can be more creative

This post was written by Toby Conlon who leads Lexis’ Corporate and B2B practice. I think it was in 2014…

This post was written by Toby Conlon who leads Lexis’ Corporate and B2B practice.

I think it was in 2014 when the phrase ‘human2human’ became really popular. H2H was going to bust B2C and B2B out of our lexicons. It was the notion that when a company is trying to sell something to another business or to a person it is, either way, just one human being having a conversation with another. The point for B2B vendors was that they had to humanise and to sell to the person, not to the business.

Initially, I was slightly dismissive of the phrase because we have enough jargon, and also because it’s only telling us what we already knew. But if you think about it, it is actually engenders exactly the right mind-set for more imaginative and effective engagement in B2B marketing. Because seeing your target audience as a person rather than an institution is a great starting point.

Corporate communicators have known this for a while. They try to bring personality and warmth to the organisation by choosing the right spokespeople, topics that the audience cares about, and messages which are accessible. All aimed at building trust, which is a human and not an institutional feature. Consumer marketers know that effective B2C campaigns will appeal to both the rational and the emotional sides of, say, a household shopper, and that the more relevant personality the brand can portray, the more likely it will be to catch attention.

B2B is still catching up. It seems to me there are four main reasons why it got behind. One: often B2B sales is very relationship-based and this is seen as the primary driver of the deal, so marketing plays the supporting role. Two: that the right creative skills and techniques are not in place in a way that they are in B2C organisations. Three: a nagging worry among some B2B marketers that creativity is positively correlated with irresponsibility and silliness. Four: that selling a B2B product or service means appealing to a wide set of purchase considerations, so messaging gets complex and campaigns lose the spear tip you would normally wrap creative elements around.

To be clear, the solution is not just to copy the techniques used in B2C. But applying the same principles might be. And you could argue that creative engagement in B2B should be way more effective, because the audience group is smaller and you know who the people are, often by name, so targeting becomes precise. If you want to get to supply chain purchase influencers at supermarkets with 300+ outlets, there are probably only about 100 or so of them. That means that the creative process can be very focused indeed.

Every business will be in a different place when it comes to creativity and there some outstanding examples, particularly in enterprise tech, of what it can achieve if you get it right. For some of the more traditional industries there’s more to do, but let’s keep pushing them into the human2human mind-set and using that as a springboard to more imaginative, more effective engagement.

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New Day – Print Success Story or Doomed for Failure?

This post was written by Claire Wood, Account Director @LexisAgency. Following the closure of the Independent and Independent on Sunday…

This post was written by Claire Wood, Account Director @LexisAgency.

Following the closure of the Independent and Independent on Sunday print newspapers last month, it’s a bold move from Trinity Mirror to bring out the first new national print newspaper in 30 years. The launch of New Day for me, as an advocate of print media, marks an exciting moment during such a shaky time for print media sales as online continues to prosper. But will it succeed?

The paper’s publishers are doing plenty to stand out from the crowd. From the unusual layout – with the sport content in the centre – to a politically neutral approach, an online presence restricted to social media and a plethora of bite-sized news snippets, New Day is more Take a Break meets the i than a new red top.

Almost two weeks in and the publication has been welcomed by the inevitable mixed reception. Some say it signifies the beginning of the end of the daily newspaper while some commend its courage and fresh approach.

Many of us, myself included, may prefer a rather more in-depth and analytical approach to news telling. But there is a market, particularly amongst the time-poor, for a paper that focuses on concise, factual reporting.

One reason why online and social content is outperforming print based media is its use of digestible, shareable content which readers can consume easily whilst on the go. New Day emulates this through bite-sized stories which keep its readers on top of the news agenda and suit our increasingly short attention spans.

Choosing social media but no website presence whatsoever is an unusual approach, particularly for a publication targeting 35 plus women. And only time will tell if this audience decide to pick New Day over a popular weekly lifestyle magazine.

With a 200,000 daily sales target at 50p a copy, it remains to be seen whether a new player in the battleground of print media can survive. All eyes will be on the daily come May when the Audit Bureau of Circulations figures reveal a print success story or another victim of the digital world.

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Do you mind if I just ask…? The power of questions and curious minds

By Emily Tanner, Senior Account Executive Were you that child at school who always had their hand up? Were you curious,…

By Emily Tanner, Senior Account Executive

Were you that child at school who always had their hand up? Were you curious, inquisitive, did you want to know more? School might be a distant memory and we probably think we know everything by the time we’re eighteen but there’s a poster here at our Bermondsey Street offices that tells visitors to “Ask More Questions”, and it got me thinking. As we communicate each day, I get the feeling that we just don’t ask enough.

If you don’t know things, you can’t make things happen – or at least you can’t make the right things happen. If you’ve never made a cake before, you wouldn’t just smash some eggs into some flour, stick the oven on at 100 degrees and hope for the best: you’d get a recipe or ask someone how to do it. It’s not ignorance to ask, it’s interest. And taking an interest is crucial; taking an interest gets results.

“It’s not ignorance to ask, it’s interest.”

Firstly, take an interest in your clients and their business. Once you know the details it’s so much easier to paint the bigger picture. You might receive some top line information about a new initiative your client is part of, think little of it and draft quick release, as you need to get this out the next day. You get a few decent pieces of coverage, nothing special.

Only had you dug a little deeper and asked your client a few more questions you’d have discovered that this initiative is the first of its kind, truly innovative and likely to lead to significant changes in their industry. With this story, you’d have got a front page splash in The Financial Times, pick up across eighty per cent of the nationals and coverage in every trade you could imagine.

Ask questions, dig a little deeper and you’re more likely to get the right results your client really wants.

Perhaps more importantly, are the second kind of questions we have to ask. Because clients come to us with questions of their own. Whilst we don’t always have the answers, it’s so important that we get them. Ask yourself, ask the internet, ask other people who might have a better idea – just make sure you find out.

Get all of the information you can before you make that call because having knowledge, is having power. It gives you the power to make the best choices you can, give the advice that can truly transform and get the results you need.

That is the whole point of questions. Getting the knowledge you need. How can you know things without finding out? Ignorance is a lack of knowledge or information. There’s nothing wrong with that – we all lack knowledge and information at times – as long as you add a good dash of interest to counteract.

So let’s stop apologising when we ask questions. It might take thirty seconds out of your colleague or client’s day – but better that than giving ill-informed advice to a client or selling in a story that won’t get picked up.

“So let’s stop apologising when we ask questions.”

Ask More Questions. Why? Get Better Results.

 

 

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The value of Apprenticeships in PR – An Apprentice’s perspective

By Jose Arufe Barker, PR Apprentice At school I always believed it was the ‘vocational’ students who did apprenticeships and…

By Jose Arufe Barker, PR Apprentice

At school I always believed it was the ‘vocational’ students who did apprenticeships and that anyone with any academic success, would always progress with the traditional route of exam based qualifications before entering university. However, as I reached the mid years of adolescence, I decided that A levels and the other suffocating and rigid forms of education, just weren’t for me! So at seventeen I waved goodbye to the small town life of the Derbyshire Dales and headed to the dazzle and sparkle of London. After a year of studying an intensive fashion promotion course at Kensington and Chelsea College and a rare offer from London College of Fashion for an integrated MA, most would have felt overwhelmed and pleased with their achievements.

Yet to me, an MA would never be enough. I said to my tutor at the time, I would strive to get an apprenticeship in PR and if I could defer my place for a year, I would. Her face was a picture and not a pretty one! It was her disbelief that I had become so delusional for not accepting how rare a PR apprenticeship is, which leads to me to why PR apprenticeships are so valuable.

I won’t go on about the boring things the marketers for the national apprenticeships go on about such as, “learn and earn”. This apprenticeship has given me so much more than just a wage and a few tips about office life. I learnt life skills and the transition from 10am to 4pm three days a week; to the real working world at eighteen – I felt the transition! Admittedly, somewhere along this journey, from Derby classroom to 75 Bermondsey St, I have been somewhat lucky. However, I strongly believe that the future will be in the hands of apprenticeships – academic and vocational individuals will rely on the work experience of what an apprenticeship can offer.

The fact is you don’t learn about a coverage log in a classroom. You don’t sit down every lesson, every morning at 9am and ensure that log is immaculate! You don’t need to chase any blogger or journalist, for the third time in a week, to see if their samples have arrived. You don’t build those relationships and although you learn theory and develop communication skills, it still isn’t something that will solely take you through to the next stage of your career.

I believe the value of a PR apprenticeship lays within the actual experience. The ring of that alarm at 6.50 and out the door by 8! The interchange at Euston and going from my cosy seat on the Victoria line to the sweaty armpit view of the Northern. The debate in my mind, whether to eat out or go to the shop and cook. It is this experience of independent living, unlike university with the support of the halls staff and parents. Yet from this experience, I have had to mature and accept the responsibility of my job and life. Admittedly, this is often something my peers seem rather perplexed at trying to comprehend as to why I did this route instead of the ‘normal’ path.

If I could go back to last year and ask myself for advice on a PR apprenticeship I would have said if you are lucky enough to be chosen, the experience you gain will last forever. Not simply for just the work experience and skills, but for the life experience! While, my friends are out on their student nights out Monday to Sunday, I’m sat at home with my hot cuppa catching up on the latest episode of Gogglebox or refreshing Aromatherapy Associates Instagram, with a prying eye for social coverage! So no wild nights for me, not because I’m boring or too tired, but simply so I’m fresh faced and ready for that coverage log at 9am!

If I were honest, when I walked out of those school gates in the summer of 2013, I would have never believed my luck or the fact I’d be here working in a great PR agency, doing a job I love and it is for the young, ambitious and driven individuals like myself as to why a PR apprenticeship is so valuable.

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Lexis wins Chivas Regal consumer PR

Lexis has won the consumer PR business for Pernod Ricard UK’s iconic Scotch Whisky brand, Chivas Regal, following a competitive…

Whisky SourLexis has won the consumer PR business for Pernod Ricard UK’s iconic Scotch Whisky brand, Chivas Regal, following a competitive pitch.

Lexis has been appointed to handle PR and increase brand awareness in the UK, which includes local activation for its ‘The Venture’ global competition, and media support for its ‘Made for Gentleman’ series. Lexis will also provide strategic support and will run the Chivas Regal UK press office.

Lexis’ appointment comes at an important time for the brand in the UK. Chivas Regal is the world’s first luxury whisky and is considered to be a timeless classic, renowned for style, substance and exclusivity.

Andy Stafford, Associate Director, is leading the account at Lexis, reporting to Will Jukes, Senior Brand Manager, Pernod Ricard UK.

Rowan Usher, Pernod Ricard UK, says, “Lexis showed exceptional creativity that was underpinned with robust strategy and insight across multiple platforms and they will help take our exciting campaigns to the next level.”

Andy Stafford, Lexis, says, “It’s fantastic to add such a famous whisky brand to our consumer portfolio. Previous experience across luxury brands was important when considering our approach, but we also invested considerable time in understanding the premium spirits business and its target audiences.”

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Thought leadership comes from doing, not talking

By Toby Conlon, Senior Associate Director  It just slipped out, but I think I got away with it. I guess…

By Toby Conlon, Senior Associate Director 

Photo of business hands holding blackboard and writing PRODUCTIVITY concept

It just slipped out, but I think I got away with it. I guess you might characterise it as a low audible sigh. It was right at the point on the call when the prospective client rolled out one of those phrases which has been bleached to oblivion. “Yes!” says I chirpily, “of course we can help you with thought leadership. Can we just agree what we think that means for you first…”

Thought leadership is a bit overused in the communications world these days and has become a catch-all for what generally seems to be ‘having an opinion’ or ‘talking about something you want to talk about quite a lot’.

Here are some of the ways we hear it used in our line of work: “how much will thought leadership cost me?”, “we want to do some thought leadership but without putting our head above the parapet”, and my favourite, “can we do some thought leadership please – ideally before 4pm tomorrow.”

Thought leadership it is a brilliant concept. If you’re seen as a thought leader it can improve your reputation, brand equity, and income. Some companies become thought leaders without even realising it. Others have expensive programmes in place to try and achieve it.

But thought leadership in communications is not something that you do. It’s not an activity. It’s a relative position in a market, industry or category, and one that you have to earn. Like corporate reputation, it shouldn’t be valued on internal measures like how many executive blogs are up on the website. Instead, it’s about how people see you in relation to the other companies or brands talking to them about the same things.

To be the thought leader people have to see you setting the agenda,again and again.  So here’s the trap. While it’s about how people see you, it can’t just be achieved through really good communications. A robust and sustainable thought leadership position is going to be built on what you’re doing and not just what you’re saying. Offering a great product or service which no-one else does is the best foundation because you’re declaring that you believe there’s a new and better way to do things, and you’re proving it. It’s no surprise that businesses who have done this are not only the thought leader but often the industry and category leaders too, like Apple and PayPal. Another strong foundation is the structure, governance or process of your business itself.

Unilever and Interface, a modular carpet tile company, have both made significant changes to their business practices more sustainable. They’ve been brave and longsighted and are recognised as such by their stakeholders and customers. Again, it’s no surprise that they have quickly become thought leaders inside and outside their industries.

In essence, it’s much easier to behave yourself, rather than talk yourself, into pole position. This brings me back round to my prospective client asking to have a thought leadership programme. It’s right to communicate about topics where the company excels or has a strong opinion, but let’s be careful that a programme doesn’t just become about corporate visibility and share of voice. Let’s ask what the single biggest question facing your industry is and then reach back into the business to find out what you’re doing to answer it. If any part of that answer is unique, surprising and demands attention then the seeds of  ‘thought leadership’ are there.

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A Slip of the Tongue Shows the Power of Words

By Ruth Kieran, Lexis Deputy Managing Director I recently attended an industry event where a CEO described plans for his…

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By Ruth Kieran, Lexis Deputy Managing Director

I recently attended an industry event where a CEO described plans for his agency’s growth and the need to find a successor. He talked in some detail about what the focus would be for this hypothetical individual.

“When he joins the company,” he said.

While you may not have immediately noticed the issue, the few women who were in the room at the time certainly did. This “slip of the tongue” – as the CEO later described it when challenged – made me think about the damage a careless word can do, as well as the dangerous assumptions that we can all make about audiences.

As professional communicators, we all know that while the right language can be incredibly powerful, a thoughtless remark can not only lose you the goodwill of an audience in an instant, but deliver you a lifetime of corporate problems.

That’s why the UK communications industry still thrives and why many of our clients rely on us not only to hone their corporate messaging for proactive corporate positioning, but also for crisis and issues management too.

A poorly handled response that underestimates or misunderstands a multitude of audiences can see an issue turn into a corporate headache, or full blown crisis. While an organisation may be behaving well, if it doesn’t skilfully communicate these actions to its audience, they simply won’t be louder than words.

What you say, and how you say it, during and after a crisis cannot be underestimated. For example, we recently supported a client whose premises were the scene of a tragic accident. The delicate handling of this event, both from an operational point of view as well as a communications perspective, was critical in order to ensure that the brand was able to tread a fine line in its communication between moral and legal requirements – and the emotional needs of those involved.

The challenge of this kind of communication is to ensure that we distil our clients’ actions into words that not only show real understanding of the audience, but also – importantly – ensure that these will not appear hollow once the immediate issue has been addressed. If handled correctly, those words offer a chance to repair and ultimately build further trust and dialogue.

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Lexis Digest: Hoverboards, Ada Lovelace and Giant Sunfish

In the news Bad news if you like gliding down the street like a low-rent Marty McFly – it’s now…

In the news

Bad news if you like gliding down the street like a low-rent Marty McFly – it’s now illegal to ride ‘hoverboards’ or ‘swegways” in public. The Met Police tweeted saying that the gadgets are technically ‘motor vehicles’, so can’t be used on pavements.

A bizarre Facebook glitch barred the site’s millions of users from posting the harmless words “everyone will know” for a number of days.

facebook

Yesterday we celebrated #AdaLovelaceDay – the international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). All hail pioneering women in the sector!

Facebook's Chief Operating Office Sheryl Sandberg

 

In the agency

We’ve been testing whether French bulldogs can cut the mustard in the PR industry. Only problem seems to be the language barrier….

Piggy Sell In

 

What we’ve been watching

Lexus continues to inspire with its #CreatingAmazing platform by building the world’s first ever origami car right around the corner from our office. Lucky it didn’t rain!

Despite upping its’ prices this week, we are still in love with Netflix. Excitement is building for ‘Beasts of No Nation’, a Netflix Original Film featuring Idris Elba. Block out some time in your diary for this weekend’s release.

Slow day at the office? Imagine this being on your to do list. Ryan Williams shatters his own record with this insane triple front flip on a BMX bike.

 

What we’ve been sharing

Divers come face-to-face with a giant Sunfish, we’re now terrified at what else could be in the sea.

 

By Miles Freeman

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The Changing Face of Influencer Relations

By Miles Freeman  As with the changing media landscape, the face of corporate communications is experiencing an overhaul of its…

influencer relations

By Miles Freeman 

As with the changing media landscape, the face of corporate communications is experiencing an overhaul of its traditional practices. At a recent PRCA talk, hosted by fellow Next15 agency Bite, the topic of influencer relations was bandied around. But, for many companies whose DNA has been built in communicating with end users through traditional media outlets, this can be a daunting concept.

Once the only go-to for authoritative storytelling, journalists are increasingly facing the competition of social media. Everyone is now a commentator. The ‘art of storytelling’ is evolving and brands are beginning to appreciate that stories need to not only be visual but also driven by the reader.

To stand out, organisations must remain genuine and must engage with influencers far beyond journalists and the media. Influencers no longer sit comfortably within the columns of a national newspaper, nor within the ever-expanding confines of social media. The ecosystem has widened.

So, where do you start? Well, with the imperatives. What are your goals? Immersing yourself into the overall brand objectives will help to ascertain what the priorities are and how you’re going to achieve them. From here, a path can be created to these goals and the task of identifying which influencers will help along this journey can begin.

To create a successful influencer strategy, companies must create multiple narratives for their different audiences. Essentially, ensure that the appropriate iterations of content are disseminated to the right audiences. Stick simply to the idea of ‘why would this audience care’ and ‘why would they want to share?’

Having considered the communication mapping, brands must step away from the conventional path to journalists, media, and social media. Think about who or which influencers are key to engage with. This can range from stakeholders of a specific issue, whether it is a Think Tank, NGO or a close-knit community of specialists, through to a public figure that has a personal affinity with what the brand is trying to achieve.

Brands must realise that whilst some of these routes can garner short-term results, others can take longer to come to fruition. Opening a discussion with a Think Tank may not get you immediately on the front page of the Financial Times but in three years time that conversation could have led to a change in policy. Same goal, different approach, different results.

So, I hear you ask, how do I apply this? Well, the answer is to think more intelligently about your story. The communication ecosystem is far broader and far more accessible than ever before. Effective communication is all about establishing a connection. It’s about finding that sweet spot between how you want people to see you and the way they actually see you.

Influencer relations is not a finite science but by taking an integrated approach and taking the punt to put your head above the conventional media, and social media, parapet – incredible results with distinct longevity can be achieved.

 

Click here to see how we’re working with influencers for Tefal’s Optigrill

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Data: the meeting point of art and science?

By Richard Eyre chairman of Next 15 Plc Data is important, but consumers don’t make decisions without intuition – and neither…

Richard Data Image

By Richard Eyre chairman of Next 15 Plc

Data is important, but consumers don’t make decisions without intuition – and neither should marketers.

There has always been a natural tension in the interactions between agencies and their clients. At the risk of caricaturing this, agencies like to be on the front foot – they’re producers of the kind of trail-blazing work that turns heads and interests future clients. They want a presentation brimming with firsts.

Experienced clients understand this and can work with it, all the while satisfying their chief financial officer that their marketing spend is a hard-working and judicious business investment. They certainly don’t want derivative work and recognise that winning awards helps attract great people to the agency.

In the 1990s, after 16 years in agencies, I got a new job as CEO of a company with a meaningful marketing budget. I have to confess that my new responsibilities triggered an immediate reining in of the heroism of my agency-side bravado in favour of the interesting but defensible. Perhaps rather wishy-washy in retrospect, but evidence of the power of non-overlapping motivations.

Creative agencies will always want to sell art, while their clients will mainly prefer to buy science. But both must work hard to find the intersection. Agencies must recognise that their most intense focus is on but one facet of a complex business with an organisational structure not organised around marketing. Clients meanwhile have to challenge their institutional risk-aversion for an idea that may at first be scary, but will drive a high value menu of executions across multiple media.

Surely the availability of a ton of fresh data helps bridge this gap? Data looks like it should be the swing vote here. If you can measure it you can manage it, right? Good data reduces the uncertainty of marketing spend and underpins bigger, bolder decision-making.

Well, no.

I accept that good data analysts, liberated from their socio-demographic strait-jacket, can unearth fascinating conclusions about likely customers and what will ignite their interest. What’s more, logical analysis can be agreed upon by all parties – the spreadsheet is pure science. When the tools of the marketing communications trade are developing at such hyperactive speed, the numbers look reassuringly stable, a safe haven from a pace that most people honestly find overwhelming.

Equally, after a media career in which marketing communications were mainly lobbed in the general direction of a poorly identified group of possible buyers, fresh data can place more personalised messages in the right places and at the right time. This is a major step forward.

But human instinct, our native decision-making capacity, is triggered by stuff we cannot rationalise. Life, experience, instincts – the more ephemeral, inexplicable, maybe even indefensible, inarticulate stuff – defy capture on a database.

Early in my career, a client at Whitbread called Anthony Simonds-Gooding was presented with a surreal line: “Heineken refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach.” At that time, lager advertising featured hunky men with a few days’ growth, chugging freezing pints after manly activity. The agency came up with a row of comedy policeman with their socks off, which was universally rejected in research, because it wasn’t what beer advertising should look like. Simonds-Gooding ran with it.

Watching from the media department of another Whitbread agency, the experience was an important one for me. Very big ideas are shape-shifters that cannot be extrapolated from history. And all data is history.

Consumers do not make rational decisions unsullied by intuition and neither should buyers of marketing ideas.

 

Richard Eyre CBE is chairman of Next 15 Plc

MAA member agency Lexis is a Next 15 company

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Lexis Digest: The Dislike Button, Japan and Invisibility Cloaks

In the News A ‘dislike’ button is finally coming to Facebook. We’re predicting a rise of trolls, especially if it’s…

In the News

A ‘dislike’ button is finally coming to Facebook. We’re predicting a rise of trolls, especially if it’s included on promoted posts.

facebook-dislike-button

Coca-Cola becomes the first brand to receive a dedicated Twitter Emoji.

We love the clinking Coca-Cola emoji but would still like to know where is the bacon emoji? We need tiny, cartoon bacon in our lives. The world needs tiny, cartoon bacon.

The Rugby World Cup kicked off last week and there’s already been an upset. Japan’s shock victory over South Africa has been described as a ‘miracle’.

Attention Muggles: Scientists have created an invisibility cloak. Who needs Hogwarts, hey?

harry potter

In the Agency

It’s a busy week in the office! We have two university students joining us for work experience, and a brand new Account Executive, Liv. She’s practically famous, having been on the Antiques Roadshow trying to flog a sculpture. Strangely she won’t tell us how much it’s worth…

Liv Lexis

What We’ve Been Watching

We managed to pull ourselves away from the rugby long enough to see Andy Murray’s win over Tomic to put team GB into the Davis Cup final. Britain will play Belgium in November for the title. Congrats, Team GB!

andy murray

The final series of Downton Abbey started on Sunday night. Not everybody in the office is a fan, but nobody can deny the brilliance of Maggie Smith immortalised in gif form. Smith gifs forever.

Maggie Smith

What We’ve Been Sharing

So Jimmy Fallon did a ‘Pup Quiz’ with Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting and everyone’s heart melted. Everyone’s. We’ve been sharing this with all our pup-loving friends (so that’s all the people we know, really).

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Who Will Win the Rugby World Cup Media Scrum?

In the build up to this year’s Rugby World Cup we’ve seen a swathe of companies and brands jostling for…

Rugby World Cup 2015

In the build up to this year’s Rugby World Cup we’ve seen a swathe of companies and brands jostling for the media top spot. Whilst some brands have chosen to utilise emotive (some even tear-jerking) advertising campaigns – it is the creative social campaigns during the tournament that we’re looking forward to.

With a captivated global audience thirsty for daily updates on results, squad news and general world cup outtakes we await in great anticipation to see which creative campaigns are implemented to tackle the social media ether.

According to new study from Adobe Digital Index (ADI), social mentions of the Rugby World Cup have grown by 116 percent since July. Whilst this increase in activity comes as no surprise, it’s interesting to read that The All Blacks have been rated “Most Social Rugby Union”, with Australia second and England in third.

ADI’s recent analysis of the tournament also shows that if the outcome of the Rugby World Cup were based on fan excitement, New Zealand would win against Australia in the final, with England triumphing over Argentina to take third place. Whilst this will most certainly not reflect the true outcome of the World Cup, my patriotism received a heart-warming boost when discovering that the England fan base received an honourable mention in the study for demonstrating the most “positive vibe” in an emotion comparison.

Whilst the All Blacks come out on the top in the battle amongst the contesting teams, it seems that we must tip our social media caps to Heineken UK who came out victorious as the best performing sponsor of the event. The company is running a specific campaign around the event that has, according to the study, achieved an engagement rate of around 29%.

The media scrum, however, will not just be contested out on the social media pitch but also by print and online media. My heart flutters with excitement at the sheer number of rugby pun related headlines that will greet my desk every morning. As part of our sporting commitment to the world cup, we will be seeking out the best headlines, outtakes and media snippets and sharing them on Twitter. Well, we’re at least going to try!

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Lexis Digest: The Queen, Corbyn and Doug the Pug in Disney

In the News On Wednesday evening at 17:30 BST, our very own Queen Elizabeth became the longest reigning UK monarch.…

In the News

On Wednesday evening at 17:30 BST, our very own Queen Elizabeth became the longest reigning UK monarch. At that moment, she had reigned for 23,226 days, 16 hours and approximately 30 minutes. Congrats, Liz. You rock.

Queen Elizabeth

Jeremy Corbyn was announced Labour leader, winning with nearly 59.5% of the vote. Now – can he manage a bacon sarnie?

jeremy corbyn

Apple unveiled an Apple Pencil and predictably, the Internet took to twitter to suggest that a tech-pencil, might be one step too far.

Apple pencil

Perhaps our favourite piece of news this week, Arnold Schwarzenegger has been hired to replace Donald Trump as the host of The Celebrity Apprentice. Instead of ‘you’re fired’, we’d like to suggest ‘you’re terminated’. Just a thought, Arnie.

Arnie

In the Agency

Our #GoalFace campaign was listed as a spectacular social media campaign by Marketing Week. Thanks, guys! We have to say, we’re pretty fond of it too.

#GoalFace

What We’ve Been Watching

Galaxy has released a new chocolate bar, Duet. And while chocolate’s great, we’re loving the Moon River rap they recorded for the advert.

While we’re waiting for the Rugby World Cup to start, we’re also watching their adorable animated advert. Now roll on Friday, we’ll be sure to #WearTheRose.

What We’ve Been Sharing

Doug the Pug joins Elsa in Frozen

Everyone has a soft spot for pugs dressed up as Disney characters, right? Right…? Well thank goodness for the Internet and creative (read: slightly bonkers) pug owners.

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Lexis Digest: Kanye 2020, The Google Logo and Good Account Management

In the News Forget Clinton and Trump, Kanye 2020 is where it’s at. Kayne West announced his intention to run…

In the News
Forget Clinton and Trump, Kanye 2020 is where it’s at.

Kayne West announced his intention to run for president at the VMAs after smoking, in his words, ‘a little somethin’.

In other news, Google updated its logo last week. The Internet stands divided, but our designer Nathan has already nicknamed the logo ‘Ga-ga-Google’. I think it’s safe to say he’s not a fan…

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 14.18.18

 

The Walkie Talkie was named the UK’s ugliest building, winning the 2015 Carbuncle Cup. We feel slightly sorry for the Walkie Talkie – partly because it looks like something from the CBeebies channel.

Finally, President Obama upped his selfie game yet again by posing with Bear Grylls. Reports of the photograph have critiqued Obama’s selfie technique as he managed to get his finger on the lens.   

Glad this was the only Bear I met in the park. -bo

A photo posted by The White House (@whitehouse) on

 

In the Agency

Our very own Senior Associate Director, Cat Miller has written an article for the Guardian on good account management

 

What We’ve Been Watching

Eddie Redmayne in the Danish Girl trailer. We’re sure he’s going to be nominated for another Oscar with this film. It looks like it’s going to be quite some performance.  

And those of us who prefer to set up camp on the sofa have been watching the return of Strictly Come Dancing. That’s right – the sequins are back. And they have the first ratings-battle win with the X Factor in the bag.

 

What We’ve Been Sharing

We’ve been sharing (and welling up to) yet another Tom Fletcher video. This man’s family might be the cutest… ever?

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Blog: An influencer behind the lines in PR

Lottie is our new digital graduate. She has just finished a Masters degree in Creative Writing and runs her own…

Lottie is our new digital graduate. She has just finished a Masters degree in Creative Writing and runs her own successful blog, Lottie’s Kitchen (www.lottieskitchen.co.uk). Here she gives us her thoughts on the influencer/PR relationship, having now experienced both positions. According to Lottie, there is only one thing that is paramount to building a successful relationship.

How long does it take for a PR company to send out a blanket email starting ‘Dear Blogger…’. Five minutes? Ten if you’re being generous, or the typist is missing a couple of fingers. Then there’s the question of how many influencers reply to a ‘Dear Blogger’ email. I’m guessing anyone who has been in the game for more than three months deletes such an impersonal email without even reading the second line. Perhaps a couple of bloggers reply, but they are probably replying to everything, their metaphorical hands outstretched in the hope to catch some kind of collaboration with someone. Anyone. And whilst eagerness is good, this accept-all policy is not conducive to building a rewarding working relationship. If an influencer replies ‘yes’ to an offhand ‘Dear Blogger’ email, what else do they say yes to? And how much can they care about the product?

 

As a blogger, I learned to say ‘no’ very quickly. Giants in the field, including Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere, stress how they’re ‘extremely selective’ and ‘only partner with companies that are a natural fit’. Dire warnings and somber advice like this echoes across the blogosphere: if you spam your blog with shallow, counterfeit reviews your audience will wander off in search of more genuine climes. And this is true – insincere or irrelevant reviews are lackluster, lifeless and are certain to leave any reader disappointed. And the reader is of the utmost importance to the PR and the influencer. It is the readers who generate conversation.

lottie's kitchen

So consider how long it would take to research and email ten appropriate influencers. An hour? Two, perhaps? That’s notably longer than ten minutes, but the ensuing results can be far more valuable. And this is what you need to know about working with influencers. Common ground is key. It is this common ground that is paramount to building a successful PR/influencer relationship. A genuine interest in an influencer’s content and the potential relationship it can have with the product engendered by 20 minutes of research is essential to building a relationship that works. Additionally, this research will indicate whether the influencer is a good fit for the product, or future products. A good fit is invaluable and not to be underestimated. The better the fit, the better the content. Indeed, influencers are looking for the best result for their platforms, too. They, like PRs, are working to generate positive conversation.  

So getting to know your influencer will also often result in higher quality content production. A carefully curated relationship is in the interest of both the PR and the influencer. Knowledge, from an influencer’s content to simply their name, can determine any mutual interests and a shared goal for a successful campaign.

lottie's kitchen recipe index

Now I’m behind the lines in PR, I’m looking forward to reaching out to fellow bloggers and to start forming relationships I think will work based on my experiences behind the blogger’s laptop. I’m eager to start putting in the research and finding the perfect influencers for the campaigns I’ll be running. It’s worth noting that making successful liaisons do not only come from being on the receiving end of ‘Dear Blogger’ emails. It is a quality attributed to many who work in PR, whose business is building successful relationships. However as a fledgling PR professional, my experiences as influencer have allowed me to get ahead of the game and get onside with my fellow influencers.

Take it from a blogger, if you really want an influencer to get on board with a product, do your research and find that crucial common ground. Whether it’s based on similar content, a mutual obsession with artisanal pastries or a shared dismay at season five Game of Thrones finale, find it, use it and watch your campaign thrive.

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Our Desire to Own Ideas is Damaging Evolution

Throughout history we have strived to own the things we create, from new products to new ideas, we want to…

Throughout history we have strived to own the things we create, from new products to new ideas, we want to protect our creations from others.

One of the earliest examples of this was in Italy as early as 1450, with the invention of patents. Patents were granted to glassblowers in Venice to protect the new and inventive glass styles and textures created.

After the invention of patents in Italy it took another 200 years before the next significant copyright act was established in the UK to protect the printing press, with the Licensing of the Press Act created in 1662 by Charles II.

The next copyright legislation came in 1891 with the creation of the International Copyright Act of 1891 in America. Together these three major developments slowly seeded the concept that you can legally own an idea.

Ownership Overload
From here the flood gates opened. You can now legally own almost everything – a book, a song, a name, a phrase, a colour, a typeface or even a web domain.

In 2015, Columbia Pictures hired Entura International, a copyright ‘troll’ to send Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices to people who posted their copyrighted film clips – an understandable but extreme use of the law considering that many companies are usually happy for clips to be shared “freely” in order to increase the publicity of a film or product.

This was then superseded by an even more extreme measure, when the company sent takedown notices to all Vimeo videos containing the word “Pixels” in the title, including the 2010 award winning short film the movie is based on and the official movie trailer to name a few (source: wikipedia.org).

It feels like copyright laws started with the good intention of protecting creative ideas but these are now, more than ever, being exploited to protect profits rather than protecting creativity. As much as I completely understand the need to own an idea I am also saddened that copyrights are having a negative impact on creative industries.

Sharing is Caring
In design, there is an unwritten ‘freedom of generation’ rule that allows designers to re-create what they see for the sake of evolution in design. When we enable others to shape and amend our ideas we open up to a new generation who can offer a fresh perspective that can often enhance the original product or design.

It’s not just about enhancement as sharing ideas can also enable others to learn from your mistakes, making life more efficient and enabling us to evolve.

We need to ensure that there are clear examples of the benefits of sharing design in the public domain to encourage people to be open about their work. Currently it seems that the voice of the copyright industry is far louder than the voice of creative industries.

We need to demonstrate the damaging impact of copyright restrictions and the benefits of expanding on ideas, in the words of new-wave film director Jean-Luc Godard: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”

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Lexis is doing more with Avios

News Music Given Age Ratings. No longer will it be just movies with the ominous red 18 emblazoned on them…

News

Music Given Age Ratings.

No longer will it be just movies with the ominous red 18 emblazoned on them to deter us – now YouTube and Vevo videos will get the same treatment. The government has implemented new rules for music videos due to underage audiences having unlimited access to content which many believe to be adult-themed.

The move comes as researchers found that we spend more time on YouTube than watching TV. So far, only one video has been slapped with the highest warning of 18  – Couple of Stacks by Dizzee Rascal. As it’s a UK-governed rule, only videos from the UK will be given a rating of either 12+, 15, or 18, meaning Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda video is safe, for now.

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In the agency

What we’ve been working on

#Domorewithavios

To celebrate Avios’ Do More campaign, a pop-up photo booth was installed inside Gatwick North terminal with the aim to encourage people to do more with their Avios and treat loved ones to fantastic rewards from flights and upgrades to hotel rooms and spa days. Once in the departure lounge, holiday goers could visit the booth and have photos taken with fun props and travel related backdrops to get their holiday off to a memorable start.

The Avios team recruited Made in Chelsea’s Louise Thompson and her mum Karen to help promote the booth at Gatwick which resulted in some great shots and coverage.

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What Are We Watching?

Friends Deleted Scene

This week everyone’s talking about a scene from Friends that none of us had seen! The deleted scene, which shows Monica and Chandler making bomb-related jokes at the airport, was taken out because the episode was due to be aired soon after September 11th 2001.

“Friends Airport Security (deleted scene)”

Blank Video

A Minneapolis-based company made a completely blank video and put it on YouTube as a pre-roll ad to see how many views it could get. The view count was over 100,000 the last time we checked!

The project was designed to show how view counts aren’t the most important statistics when reviewing ads, instead engagement should be the key factor.

“The Blank Video Project”

 

What We’ve Been Sharing This Week

#Banksy

England now has it’s own Disneyland! (kind of). Banksy has created a whole park’s worth of art, following a demented Disneyland theme, and named it “Dismaland Bemusement Park”. The installation in Weston-Super-Mare is open to the public for about a month, and is definitely a must-see!

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Foo Fighters Rick Rolling

Just when we thought it would be impossible to love the Foo Fighters even more, we were proven wrong. Check out this great video of the band Rick rolling The Westboro Baptist Church.

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Straight Outta Lexis

News A-Levels; Good Results Last week we really felt for all the nervous teens who finally opened their long-awaited A-level…

News

A-Levels; Good Results

Last week we really felt for all the nervous teens who finally opened their long-awaited A-level results. We were relieved to hear that it was good news for most, as a record number of students earned a place at University.

Everyone took to twitter to discuss their results, with nearly 9,000 tweets an hour, 86% of which were positive.

To those who didn’t get in – it’s not the end of the world. Here’s a list of just some of the people who have excelled without a degree: David Karp (the founder of tumblr), Dov Charney (the founder of American Apparel), James Cameron (award-winning director), and many more.

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Cricket; The Ashes

England are finally good at a sport! We’re are now winning 3-1 in the Ashes going into the final test on the 20th August. The last test produced a record-breaking display from England, bowling Australia out for 60 before lunch. This is the quickest – in terms of balls faced – a team has been bowled out in the first innings of a test match. Stuart Broad cements himself into folklore by finishing the test with an astounding 8-15.
What Are We Watching

Technology continues to play a pivotal role in medical developments, from something as small as a hearing aid to a whole prosthetic limb. Now scientists have developed Enchroma Glasses, this new invention enables colour-blind people to see the world the way it was meant to be seen, blue skies, green grass, and the beautiful sunset…

Colourblind Guy Tries On Enchroma Colour For The Colorblind Glasses At Sunset”

Check out the glasses in action here [WARNING – this video is emotional]

What We’ve Been Sharing This Week

In anticipation of the Straight Outta Compton film, which just smashed the US box office, social media was given the gift of the ‘Straight Outta’ meme generator. What started off as a serious way to show off your city, the internet took no time to make it a hilarious viral sensation.

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 09.18.05 Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 09.21.05

 

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Lexis Digest: Farewell Cilla Black, Diet Coke by J.W. Anderson launch party and Cara Delevingne’s awkward interview

News In response to Katie Hopkin’s awful reaction, we’ve put together our favourite Cilla Black tributes from across social media…

News

In response to Katie Hopkin’s awful reaction, we’ve put together our favourite Cilla Black tributes from across social media so far. The well-loved national treasure, who passed away yesterday whilst in Spain, will be dearly missed by generations of Brits who remember her from her acting, modelling and presenting days.

Celebrity tributes have poured in worldwide including this great blog piece by Brian May: http://www.brianmay.com/brian/brianssb/brianssbaug15a.html#01

 

 

Happier times: #cillablack with @onebiggins at his birthday party. RIP my friend

A photo posted by Joan Collins (@joancollinsdbe) on

 

Our personal favourite – this touching video of Bruce Forsyth talking about Cilla.

 

 

In the agency

Photo of the week

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Everyone had a great time at the launch party for the J.W.Anderson and Diet Coke bottles.

Wait a minute, is that Hayley we see with The Saturdays singer Vanessa White?

What we’ve been working on

After unveiling the fashion collaboration between J.W Anderson and Diet Coke, we helped Diet Coke throw a star-studded launch party in Shoreditch on Thursday. Celebs, including  Vanessa White and Laura Whitmore, were in attendance to see J.W Anderson unveil the limited-edition designer bottles.

What are we watching?

Supermodel Cara Delevingne has been making headlines with her controversial Good Morning Sacramento interview. The model, who’s been doing the rounds to promote her latest film ‘Paper Towns’, was conducting an interview for the morning show and… well it didn’t go so brilliantly – the interviewers called the model ‘Carla’ and things went downhill.

While some called Cara out for being rude and unenthusiastic, other people jumped to the model’s defence, including John Green, director of ‘Paper Towns’, who took to Medium to defend her.

What we’ve been sharing this week

This great video of ONE THOUSAND musicians performing the Foo Fighters song ‘Learn to fly’ is bound to banish your monday blues and put a smile on your face.

 

Calling all readers, Penguin books has teamed up with TfL to offer free reads. You don’t have to sit twiddling your thumbs on your long commute any more. People watching is still acceptable though. https://recombu.com/digital/article/virgin-media-london-wifi-penguin

Did you know Canada had a hitchhiking robot? Neither did we! Unfortunately the robot, who had already toured Canada and Germany, met a not-so-nice end after being destroyed while touring the US. You should have looked after him better, Philadelphia. http://www.theverge.com/2015/8/2/9087171/hitchbot-cross-country-trip-comes-to-unfortunate-end

 

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Digest: FIFA Stunt, Diet Coke by J.W Anderson and Ian’s perfect scrambled eggs

News Last week, prankster Lee Nelson left tongues wagging after his latest stunt. The British comic showered the ex- FIFA…

News

Last week, prankster Lee Nelson left tongues wagging after his latest stunt. The British comic showered the ex- FIFA president Sepp Blatter with dollars at the FIFA press conference in Zurich.

Judging from his expression, Sepp Blatter didn’t find it amusing and neither did Swiss officials, who arrested Nelson for trespassing. Fortunately for Lee, people on social media laughed.

 

Photo of the week

Miles and Piggy

A touching moment between papa Miles and his baby Piggy. Doesn’t this just warm your heart? Piggy’s actual owner, Nathan, didn’t seem too worried about his lack of loyalty!

What have we been working on?

After weeks of keeping things hush hush, Diet Coke has revealed its latest fashion collaboration with award-winning British fashion designer J.W.Anderson. The iconic soft drinks brand has teamed up with the maverick designer to create a range of limited-edition specially designed bottles which will be unveiled at the end of July.

Our consumer team handle the PR for Diet Coke and have been very involved in the collaboration so are very excited that it’s about to launch! Stay tuned for more on this exciting project.

What are we watching?

Ian McKellen, King of the eggs

Our favourite Wizard, Ian McKellen (sorry Daniel), uploaded this great video of himself – we think we may love him more than we did before.

Alongside acting, the star seems to have mastered how to create great scrambled eggs. To help others, he uploaded this step-by-step video – check out how a true legend whips up an eggcellent breakfast below:

Our top articles of interest

IKEA has designed the kitchen of the future – and it has no oven or fridge! Be prepared to be surprised http://bit.ly/1D57qbZ

Facebook and Nintendo have joined forces for a Mario Maker ‘hackerthon’. In the lead up to the release of Nintendo’s upcoming release Super Mario Maker http://bit.ly/1LNkyUy

Stephen Hawking is hosting a WEEK long AMA on Reddit in partnership with Nokia and Wired. The famous physicist will be talking out Artificial Intelligence, so keep an eye out for the hashtag #maketechhuman http://engt.co/1LNkFj5

Don’t forget to check out our new website: http://www.lexisagency.com/#home

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Five times social media fooled the world

Within such a short period of time we have invested our energy and trust in social media channels in return…

Within such a short period of time we have invested our energy and trust in social media channels in return for the satisfaction of knowing we have access to the latest news from around the world.

The big catch is – we’ve given our trust too willingly. We’re using social media as a reliable source of news and even search giant Google has partnered with Twitter so that Tweets are now included in Google search results.

Although there are plenty of times we can thank social media for breaking news stories, there’s also lots of times we’ve been lied to. From hoax death rumours to fake battles, here’s how social media has fooled the world:

1.    R.I.P Morgan Freeman 

We’ve all been there, you have a cheeky check of your phone when you’re out with friends, your heart sinks, your Facebook friend just liked a page entitled ‘R.I.P Morgan Freeman’, you click on the page; over 800,000 people like it. You then break the news to your friends: Morgan Freeman is dead.

morgan_867

Only, Morgan Freeman isn’t dead. In fact he’s probably sat in an LA recording studio practicing his latest sultry voiceover, but if Facebook says he’s dead we believed it until he shows up alive and well later that day.

2.    Travel the world without leaving your living room

When does ‘holiday spam’ go too far? When your friend posts pictures of the leaning tower of pisa from every angle possible? When your mum and dad couldn’t quite work the focus on their camera but post the 500 blurry pictures to Facebook anyway? We think it’s probably when you spend five weeks in your room pretending to travel around Asia.

That’s what 25 year old Zilla Van Den Born did last year. Zilla spent hours photoshopping herself onto idyllic beaches and even set up a fake skype backdrop to fool friends and family.

zilla_962

3.    Fooling IS

Boredom can lead people to do silly things but one London man recently became so bored that he decided to use his influence on Twitter to set up a fake battle involving the Islamic State and Shia and Iraqi government fighters.

The Twitter user fooled people by posting fake updates on Twitter, including photoshooped battle scenes and maps, even anti-IS forces and IS supporters started to believe the battle was real.

4.    I Have A Dream

People went crazy for this fake Tweet from Paris Hilton in 2013:

paris_560

It helps that Hilton’s offline personality made this update more believable…

5.    Pay to use Facebook

Oh the irony. Even a social media channel isn’t exempt from becoming an online hoax.

Millions of people were outraged that Facebook had plans to charge $2.99 a month but they should have saved their anger, as it turned out to be just a nasty rumour.

So, how do you avoid being fooled on Facebook or taunted on Twitter? Here’s our tips:

Do your research, don’t see something trending and instantly think it’s true. A quick Google search can put any rumour to bed
Stick to live streaming apps such as Meerkat and Periscope, it’s a lot harder to lie when you’re streaming live (although it’s probably still possible…)
Read newspapers – we work in PR so of course we’re going to be advocates of newspapers but they’re still around for a reason

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All your release notes are belong to us

All Your Release Notes Are Belong to Us Funny 404 pages are so last year. This year is all about…

All Your Release Notes Are Belong to Us

Funny 404 pages are so last year. This year is all about clever release notes. You know those things you never read when you update your apps or download a new app?

Around the office we’ve been sharing a few that have given us the giggles and explored how creative applications of an everyday digital product feature can be used to get people talking and downloading your app.

The first one that kicked off the discussion and hunt was found on Twitter for our favourite new tool Medium.

We were all quite sad for Peter, until we found out about poor Tina!

In order to get over our feeling sorry about Tina, we all rallied around something we collectively hated, Jar Jar Binks – and Slack seemed to have the release notes for that!

And as Anti-Sepptics, these notes from Opera capitalized on the moment:

These are just a few of the fantastic notes you can find by browsing the app store or even Twitter.

App release notes – the new creative 404 pages – not just for nerds any more, unless you happen to work on The Robot Factory:

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Modern Stories of Society: How PR Shapes Our Everyday Lives

Earlier this year London’s V&A museum hosted a series of events considering the role that public relations play in modern…

Earlier this year London’s V&A museum hosted a series of events considering the role that public relations play in modern society. The exhibition’s curator Geoffrey Marsh told The Independent that the topic was important as “PR responds to the basic human need for stories”[1]. Marsh also suggested that the events were set to explore the changes the industry has seen with the rise of social media.

As we engage with brands every day, it can often be easy to forget the role that marketing, and as part of that PR, has played in our interactions with and perceptions of a product, a business or a public figure. From the bank with which we choose to invest our savings, to the coffee we buy on the way to work each morning, our opinions and decisions are, to some extent, shaped by our perception of the brand.

Creating a strong brand identity that offers consumers the opportunity to take a journey with the brand is key. However, for consumer products, shared experience and stand out moments are playing an increasingly central role to a consumer’s perception of a brand.

Consider last year’s Cadbury campaign “free the joy” which culminated in an augmented reality event at London’s Waterloo station. Though the wider journey was important, as it brought consumers together across various media channels, the final event represented a unique opportunity in the midst of the shared experience, which increased interaction with the brand. While the consumer relationship with a brand must have a strong story in support of it the shared experience can help to intensify that relationship.

For corporate communications the public’s relationship with the brand and its identity has a slightly different tone. Firstly, it is often a different kind of public who are relating to the brand most frequently – the business community – and so it is important that these individuals and other businesses are engaged in an appropriate way. Finding a brand’s journey that intersects perfectly with your own business’ is important and often, as these relationships involve a longer term commitment, it is important that the story can sustain itself for a longer period of time.

Informed businesses will feel in control of the decision to partner with another business on a project. By using PR creatively and carefully to influence these decisions with appropriate news and messaging, perceptions can be altered, enhanced and change the ways in which two businesses continue to interact.

Though consumer brands are more likely to be adventurous and experimental, corporates should consider the changing landscape of public relations as an opportunity to express their identity in new and more appealing ways. Engaging corporate stories appeal to the business community in the same way that consumer stories appeal to consumers.

Protecting an identity and ensuring the stories a brand tell are positive ones is equally as important as creating new journeys – for both consumers and for corporates. Consumers often take to social media to air their grievances with a brand and with the potential to rapidly escalate from a single tweet to hundreds of Re-tweets and supporting comments from other incensed users, it is important that the brand’s identity is protected with an appropriate response.

Some brands choose to offer a witty response in times of trouble whilst others choose to demonstrate concern and look for ways to solve common problems. For corporate communications the approach is different. The BP oil spill in 2010 is an infamous example of a crisis that was almost impossible to combat however good the communications strategy was, and the effect that the negative press had altered public perceptions of not just BP but oil companies more generally. This highlights the importance of perception in a crisis and the effect a good, or bad, communications strategy can have on the brand.

Be it in times of crisis or as a means through which to engage and encourage interaction during more positive climates, PR plays a key role in the way brands are perceived in society and influences the decisions we make. As the way that the public relates to brands continues to evolve, with an increased presence on social media for example, PR must continue to work closely with organisations and individuals to create positive perceptions and guide the journey of a brand.

By Emily Tanner   

 

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Do not look to Twitter to predict the next government

When the exit poll results were finally revealed at exactly 10pm last Thursday it’s fair to say that even the…

When the exit poll results were finally revealed at exactly 10pm last Thursday it’s fair to say that even the Conservatives, who were rightly predicted to become the majority party, were a little taken aback.

The figures that flashed on our screens were a world away from the predicted hung parliament, where Labour and the Conservatives were fighting to be the largest overall party.

What, for me, is particularly interesting is that the exit poll was also significantly different to the conversations on social media throughout the election campaign.

SOCIAL WIN FOR LABOUR

Brandwatch analysed ‘social buzz’  (the volume of Tweets mentioning political parties, leaders and topics) on Twitter and, in the majority of cases, it found that Labour were the most talked about party with the most positive mentions.

Even on the day of the election, Labour had a higher percentage of positive mentions on social (39%) compared to the Conservatives’ (36%) and Ed Milliband was ‘winning on social’ with more positive mentions (63%) than David Cameron (41%).

WHAT MAKES OUR ACTIONS ON SOCIAL SO MUCH DIFFERENT TO OUR ACTIONS AT THE POLLING STATION?

Firstly, let’s look at the demographics on Twitter. According to the British Polling Council, the average Conservative voter is 65+ whereas Labour is represented almost equally in all the different age brackets. Therefore, with the majority of Twitter users in the UK in the 18-34 age bracket (50%), the answer could be that your average Conservative voter is much less likely to be on social media.

It’s also important to think about why people share updates on social media, in particular Twitter. According to an infographic posted by AdWeek 26% of people like to share their opinions on social media and 84% of people want to share updates about issues they care about.

Given these statistics why weren’t Conservative voters sharing their views as much as Labour supporters on social? This is where the ‘Shy Tory Factor’ comes into play.

This phrase, coined in the 1990’s, refers to a predicted one in eight Tories that won’t admit to polls that they voted Conservative. Looking at the Brandwatch statistics it appears that the ‘Shy Tory Factor’ now also impacts results on social media.

Finally, and rather fittingly for this election, you can never underestimate the power of an undecided voter. Investigations are already underway into why the polls got it so wrong this year, so it’s not too surprising that social media also failed to predict the right result too.

NEED FOR A NEW PLATFORM 

To use social as a tool to predict elections, we can’t just rely on measuring the mentions for each party, as people will discuss parties they don’t intend to vote for. We can’t even rely on the positive/negative split, as with the volume of posts around elections this becomes harder to track (and we’re a nation that loves sarcasm).

What could work is a platform that does not analyse what people say about the election on social media to determine the result but instead looks at people’s social profiles to suggest the outcome.

This platform could analyse the key words, locations and previous social posts of people to determine which box they will tick on decision day.

Fingers crossed that somebody somewhere is working on a platform similar to this right now, as it would be fascinating to see the potentially predictive powers of social media play more of a role in the 2020 election campaign.

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Britain’s go talent (and UK businesses want it)

It’s now 2015 and with the continued recovery of the economy, the tables have turned in the jobs market. Recent data from the Association of Graduate Recruiters showed that graduates are now in a position to be selective about the roles they are offered, as 14.4% of graduates have turned down at least one job offer and nearly of graduate employers had at least one unfulfilled graduate position in 2014.This is great news for people looking for a new role but for businesses it means there is greater competition for the brightest and best candidates.

Do you remember David Rowe? No? He was the graduate so desperate to find a job that he donned a sandwich board advertising his experience and qualifications in an attempt to secure employment when sending out hundreds of CVs hadn’t worked. It was an arresting image and covered in every major news outlet as evidence of the impact of the economic downturn on the jobs market.

But that was in 2009. It’s now 2015 and with the continued recovery of the economy, the tables have turned in the jobs market. Recent data from the Association of Graduate Recruiters showed that graduates are now in a position to be selective about the roles they are offered, as 14.4% of graduates have turned down at least one job offer and nearly half of graduate employers had at least one unfulfilled graduate position in 2014.

This is great news for people looking for a new role but for businesses it means there is greater competition for the brightest and best candidates. It’s no longer a buyers’ market and securing the best talent is essential to the success of any business model. Despite this, many companies are still struggling to identify and communicate the reasons why they should be recognised as an employer of choice in this competitive environment.

More and more, we are seeing businesses positioning themselves not just as successful growing commercial entities, but also as desirable employers through their corporate PR programmes. But as so many companies are trying to differentiate themselves in the jobs marketplace, it has become harder for organisations to identify a communications approach that will cut through and have real media impact.

So what should your business consider when planning their PR activity to ensure they are seen as a genuine employer of choice?

Identify (and then play to) your strengths

What makes a great place to work? Or specifically, what is your business doing particularly well? Just as businesses will identify key commercial strengths, it is essential to take an honest look at the strengths and weaknesses of your offer to prospective employees. Is your business really committed to creating a supportive environment for women in the workplace? Great, but how many women are actually on your board…? Ensure that the same level of scrutiny is placed on this SWOT mapping process as you would for a commercial PR campaign.

PR activity should then focus on communicating the areas of strength that set you apart from the crowd. Are there interesting comparisons you can make with your working culture in the UK and in international markets? What data do you own to support the strength of your USP? Can you share an ambition to become even stronger (while reinforcing the quality of your current offer)?

Who is doing this well?

Amongst those companies who stand out, BT consistently highlights its investment in high quality training across the business through the media – from thought leadership to announcements of new apprenticeship targets. PR activity has ranged from comparing the number of apprenticeship applications to the number of Oxbridge applicants to a recent announcement of 1000 more graduate jobs and apprenticeships.

Who are your storytellers?

As with every PR campaign, understanding what matters to your audience is essential when seeking to position your business as an employer of choice. Smart people want to work with other smart people who will drive them forward and support them to thrive in the workplace. While an engaging and intelligent CEO profile in the media can help to paint a picture of your workplace – there is an expectation that a business leader will be articulate, successful and extol the virtues of the company as a great place to work. Looking across the business for people at all levels who exemplify your core values is an essential step in building authenticity when communicating your strengths as an employer.

Providing first hand experiences will help position your business as an aspirational place to work as well as highlighting the high quality of your current workforce. It is the equivalent of sending a postcard with ‘Wish you were here?”

If your strength is your commitment to internal advancement, then identify people who have risen through the business to tell their story through case studies in the media.  If your USP is a significant focus on mentoring, then write a “two sides of the coin” comment piece from both mentor and mentee to bring this to life.

Who is doing this well?

One of the high performing companies using this approach is Visa Europe, which has mobilised its apprenticeship intake to give a first hand view of the quality of the training they offer. This approach is consistently adopted across relevant PR activity. Alongside the news announcements on the opening of new applications, quotes and profiles of current apprentices are featured and they also have a Twitter feed devoted to the thoughts and first hand experiences of apprentices.

How do you measure up?

Third party validation is a powerful tool when positioning your company as an outstanding place to work. There is a reason that Oscar winning films rebrand all their marketing materials the day after the Academy Awards to reflect the win – objective opinions are seen as the most trustworthy.

There are many awards and league tables devoted to measuring and comparing different elements of a workplace environment that enable businesses to evidence their claims as well as providing a media platform for you to showcase your thought leadership around specific issues linked to a company’s core strengths.

Award entries should be clearly linked to the points of difference your business is seeking to communicate. If your strength is your approach to diversity and equal opportunities then identify the most influential voice within this arena e.g. Stonewall and focus on inclusion in the Workplace Equality Index. This activity provides a consistent evidence point to support all PR activity and adds credibility to news announcements and commentary.

Who is doing this well?

Those who are really optimising the potential of this tool include Google, which consistently wins awards for its working culture; Lloyds which is the highest rated private sector employer in the Workplace Equality Index and TGI Friday’s which is the Sunday Times best big business to work for. All these organisations have mapped their award entries to support and reinforce their core strengths.

Through implementing a focused PR strategy in this way, it is possible to position your business as an employer of choice and attract the most skilled and talented people. However,the more subtle corporate PR impact can often be overlooked. Communicating the strength of your company’s workplace to prospective employees will also reach wider corporate audiences. Asserting that the brightest people are currently, and will continue to be, working within your business will reinforce the understanding of your commercial strength, Smart people not only want to work alongside other smart people – but they want to buy from and invest in them too.

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The Value of a Social Community

With Facebook’s announcement last Friday that brands will have to pay even more to reach their followers come January, it…

With Facebook’s announcement last Friday that brands will have to pay even more to reach their followers come January, it raises the question of how valuable a social “community” is, and does it even exist at all on what have now become ‘traditional’ social media channels? By asking these questions and challenging the traditional marketing concept of how social is used, a much more effective approach to ‘social marketing’ online can be explored.

Why is understanding that point important? Because it means you have to restructure the way you market, marketing to the individual amongst a broad collection of other individuals, rather than expecting people to interact as a group. Given the algorithms that can control potential visibility on social networks, making sure you find personal relevance with each individual is key to success.

Back in May 1996, over 18 years ago (the formative years of the online world still), Arthur Armstrong and John Hagel wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review discussing “the real value of On-line Communities.” They stated that most online communities at that time, oppose the idea of commercial activity, and businesses interacting online typically only to advertise their goods.  However, Armstrong and Hagel noted there was potential for companies and businesses to build new and deeper relationships with customers.

In this article, Armstrong and Hagel cite four reasons why people join an online community:

  • Communities of Transaction facilitate the buying and selling of goods and services and provide information about these transactions. Participants are encouraged to interact to make informed purchase decisions.
  • Communities of Interest bring together participants who interact extensively about specific topics of interest. Participants not only carry out transactions with one another, but their interactions are generally focused on a specific topic area.
  • Communities of Fantasy allow participants to create new personalities, environments, or stories of fantasy. Here, individuals can take on the persona of an imaginative or factual being and act out roles like members of a spontaneous improvisational theatre.
  • Communities of Relationship centre on intense personal experiences and generally adhere to masking identities and anonymity. Examples include cancer survivors and rape victims. Here, participants discuss the pain associated with these experiences, talk about how to deal with personal issues, and exchange information about medical research and treatments.

 

When looking into each of these rationales, it is clear that each has an underlying individualistic reason for people to join. It describes a community as a place where you might ask “what does this group of information do for me and why should I participate within it”. But at its heart, participation is key both with the topic and the other people among it.

Structured forums like Reddit do encompass these more communal aspects based around communities of interest (Subreddits are the champion of this model) and are structured in a way to facilitate 1:1 interaction from people within it. However, traditional social media channels have evolved without this focus of interaction in mind, creating publishing platforms more than interaction platforms.

This is why Facebook actually is able to monetise brand conversations now: it’s a broadcasting channel, not a community platform. It’s not designed to foster ongoing discussions on one topic. It is: “here’s what’s important to me, and I want to share it with others, or I want to create a persona and shape the way people will see me because of the content I share.”

As such brand presence has often evolved around this mechanic, pushing out content with the hope that some people will see it, interact with it and take an action that benefits the brand.  Instead, brands should be thinking about how they can enable one person to benefit their own wider community, which in turn creates a positive effect (whether simply impressions / reach, or a specific action).

In turn, when people connect with brands online, it’s still self-reflexive – how can it benefit me – why should I care. It’s not about necessarily interacting with other individuals to help raise brand profile and making sure a piece of content goes viral in support of the brand.

And that’s why this nuance is important. In order to be successful on social networking sites, content must be created that engages each individual making it important to that one person.  Why would they care, why would they share?

Most brand content on social platforms is still created around this idea of community – self-serving posts they mistakenly believe people will lap it up and share because of their interest in them. They broadcast this out on a platform, because they can reach this “community” of people and it’s an easy way to ensure potential customers see content, and to get people discussing their products. Therefore, many brands on social channels still act as Armstrong and Hagel stated in 1996, as advertisers rather than to add value for individuals. However, even the platforms themselves don’t allow for genuine community interaction.

Some brands have taken the approach of discounting this social community model, and the use of Facebook itself as an organic platform. The American food and beverage conglomerate Mondelez defines their Facebook community from a purely business perspective, according to Sonia Carter in an eMarketer round table on October 9th.  For Mondelez, social communities don’t hold enough ROI because they have limited reach.  Instead, Mondelez chooses to use their social ‘communities’ as unofficial focus groups; testing the potential virility of their ads, with the ultimate aim of high media efficiency. Therefore the true value for Mondelez is squarely financial. In their words, “the optimum number of fans is the amount needed to be served with social contextual ads (ads which  show that your friend likes a page or piece of content).”

This approach is a strategic one, which treats social channels as broadcasting platforms. Rather than putting resources into the platform, putting the resources onto content creation and the ability to build brand affinity from 1:1 interaction on other platforms is at the forefront. And this is the approach with the next massive algorithm change that many brands will have to adopt.

Even brands like Red Bull are already having massive reach issues despite producing strong content. The success of the content they do create comes not from Red Bull’s own channels but from the number of people that discover the content during their travels through the Internet, find it valuable, and choose to share it with their friends. It also puts search at its heart with a distribution strategy that focuses on where potential people will see their content. Publishing to social is not the key to Red Bull’s success, it’s engaging content that is designed to be social and placed in numerous places where people have the chance to discover it. While working at Red Bull, we never talked about our community, we talked about creating inherently social content, and that is the approach more brands will need to adopt to have any organic social success in the future.

Brands therefore must stop thinking of a community that is interested in everything they have to say, and start thinking externally about how to reach individual consumers. Why would one person care, and why would they then share that message on to their friends? How can content be created that resonates with a person in order to drive brand affinity or an action? How can you build authentic social triggers into the real world to get people to talk about the brand? How can that content be discovered?

It’s a nuanced difference, but one that can create vastly different success metrics when managing a brand channel online, and one that must be explored with the reality of Facebook and its pay for play format.

By creating content, experiences, and campaigns that focus more on the “individual” rather than the “customer”, you can actually create better engagement and more numerous conversions. And this isn’t hard to do; it’s just taking off a brand hat, and asking, would you share this on your own timeline to your friends? Simple.

 

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Why marketing to over 60s must do better

Our specialist insight division Sixty recently re-ran its research into the attitudes and lifestyles of its focus audience, the over…

Our specialist insight division Sixty recently re-ran its research into the attitudes and lifestyles of its focus audience, the over 60s. The results that filtered through confirmed what we strongly suspected: this age group feel pretty fed up with the way they are represented. They just don’t recognise themselves in TV shows, media and adverts that depict, or are targeting, an older generation.

You don’t have to look hard to spot lazy imagery in marketing. Recent examples include an ad for over 60s eyewear that depicted a couple that could be in their 80s, whose general befuddlement generated the punchlines.

This illustrates the first mistake many marketers make when targeting over 60s: treating everyone in this age bracket the same while ignoring the huge diversity in the category. Marketers change their tone when targeting people in their 20s, 30s and 40s, so why not speak those in their 60s, 70s and 80s (and beyond) with similar nuance?

Clearly, doing this requires good insight. So what did our refreshed research tell us? A few highlights:

Adrenaline junkies come in all shapes and sizes 
The over 60s are a growing market for extreme sports. Demand is high for white-water rafting, bungee jumping and parachuting.

Retirement isn’t about slowing down
The majority of over 60s ‘feel they have more freedom’ now they’re retired and nearly 40% stated they feel no older than they did at 40. For a significant proportion (44%), retirement means an opportunity to set personal challenges, and learn and sample new things. 88% agreed with the statement ‘retirement is a happy, stimulating time in life’ and a further 83% think “older people can still make a huge difference to this country”.

Booze is ‘in’, bridge is ‘out’
Another clear theme was the ‘ageless’ dimension to hobbies enjoyed by those in retirement – the image of biddies playing bridge just isn’t true. Only 8% of respondents to our survey stated they play card games regularly with friends and only 5% are members of book clubs. It turns out the top 5 activities the over 60s indulge in with friends are: catching up over a drink; shopping; visiting museums and other attractions; and going to the cinema, in that order.

No more excuses, marketers can and should talk to older generations far more intelligently. Taking time to get to know them is the first step.

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Why narrowcasting on the web is crucial

It’s slightly sensationalist to say my brother is a meme, he’s not likely to give Grumpy Cat a run for…

It’s slightly sensationalist to say my brother is a meme, he’s not likely to give Grumpy Cat a run for his bitcoins any time soon. He did, however, pop up in meme form during a family friend’s travels in the World Wide Web. This friend then sent it to my other brother, who sent it to me.

It got me thinking about how small the Internet can be. My brother (the minor meme) lives in Canada. He hasn’t seen the friend that came across the meme in years, and yet the Internet had brought them spookily together last Thursday afternoon  – it’s a beautiful, strange thing.

According to Guardian writer Aleks Krotoski, who wrote her PhD thesis on the topic, the Internet is infinitely smaller than most of us think, given most of us think it’s fairly infinite. 571 websites are created every second. But despite this incomprehensible scale, Aleks argues – if you’re not careful – the Internet will narrow your horizons instead of broadening them.

In the days of yore we were exposed to a fair amount of ‘random’ media. Stuck on a train from London to Manchester, you’d read a stray Daily Mail cover to cover despite being loyal to The Independent.  Most of us caught the 10 o’clock news every night, where neutrality and balance of opinion is (thankfully) enshrined in law.

Now we get the bulk of our news through search or social media networks that we set up; choosing people to follow, research shows, who are broadly like us. Because we have so much more freedom and power to chose what we read (via our smartphones in particular), the ‘randomness’ element is reduced, and overall we’re exposed to less diverse thoughts. Essentially, more than ever, we read news and opinion we’re inclined to agree with and all this does is re-affirm what we already believe. We find ourselves hanging out in the same corners of the web our friends do, so bumping into each other – as my brother did as a meme – isn’t all too surprising.

It’s a counter-intuitive proposition, but one I’m inclined to agree with more and more with every small World Wide Web experience.

So what does this means for comms? Really, it’s just a reminder that the Internet is a mass of fairly defined, insular networks. This is a far less overwhelming proposition than the alternative – the Internet as an enormous, unstructured blob.

It does mean, however, that a broadcast approach to communications on the Internet doesn’t fly. Understanding how and why people consume, and tracing the wormholes by which they travel to content is critical. Tailoring comms in this way is, in essence, narrowcasting. Not only does it hit target audience more efficiently, because audiences are receiving content in a way that they are familiar with, it feels more authentic.  For this reason, it’s the future for online comms.

By Madeleine Scarlett-Smith

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The USP of a social network

Last week at its investor meeting, Twitter announced that it would be moving to a Facebook-style filtered news feed. At…

Last week at its investor meeting, Twitter announced that it would be moving to a Facebook-style filtered news feed. At the same time, Google announced, it’s Google+ Authorship search rankings would no longer continue. Two big announcements in the social world, both underlined by a common problem, the USP of the platform.

For Twitter, the announcement that it would be shifting to filtered news feed instead of a real time stream was met with negativity from Twitter users. Many people prefer Twitter for its ability to see everything – the full transparency of their feed. Although the signal to noise ratio may be quite high – what is noise to some has proven to be a signal for others – something Facebook hasn’t yet cracked.

Take for instance what @zeynap highlights in her article “Why Twitter Should Not Algorithmically Curate the Timeline”  the discovery that Bin Laden was killed was announced and discovered for many via Twitter first, rather than traditional news channels. As shown in her article, Keith Urbahn, the ex-chief of staff for Donald Rumsfeld who didn’t have a large following at the time – only 3 digits –tweeted:

Within a few minutes of the tweet, Brian Stelter, a journalist, saw this tweet, made the connection, and retweeted it, thus creating a contagion about the news.

This isn’t to say that one person followed the other and search wasn’t to play, but at the same time, other instances of tweets taking off for brands both good and bad have happened being led by people with small followings. The transparency and development of an unfiltered newsfeed have allowed for more conversation, more discovery, and more socially driven moments across the world. Can an algorithm successfully manage these moments of discovery?

Although a filtered newsfeed could potentially benefit brands and most definitely plays into Twitter’s revenue plans to appease its investors, it also takes away the core USP the platform had over others – it’s 100% transparency. The beauty of Twitter and its power comes from this USP and without it; it then just becomes a secondary player, rather than a real force amongst other platforms.

Google+ has always been classified in that secondary tier – never really breaking through to organically become a powerful player of the social networking platforms. Other platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat have launched since Google+’s appearance and have garnered a larger, repeat user base. (Remember, Google+ cites its 7-day active user metric as any user logging into any Google platform as Google+ plugs in to search, YouTube and even Gmail.)

Last week, John Mueller of Google Webmaster Tools, announced the end of Google’s Authorship rank, which benefitted authors and their articles in Google search results, ranking these articles higher than without the connection in searches.  The end of Author Rank for Google has been cited as being due to two factors:

Little difference in click behaviour between authored and non-authored articles in search;

Low adoption by authors as indicated by a study indicating that 70% of Authors have not connected their work with their Google+ profile.
The Authorship program launched in June 2011 in conjunction of the launch of Google+. Google, in one aspect, had an identity platform on its hands and a tool, but instead decided to focus its efforts less on the utility of its new platform and more on the idea of connecting and adding people or brands to circles.

In essence, instead of focusing on its potential unique tools, something people tend to think of Google for – search, Google docs, Gmail, it focused on the same areas that Twitter and Facebook already had a hold on – a personal connection platform to share content and thoughts. As such, it was derided as just another Facebook after launch and had many people complaining about having to join another social network, rather than seeing the benefits of the tools it provided  – in comparison to Instagram, WhatsApp or Snapchat when they first launched.

The key aspect for adoption of a social network is based on three parts:

Identity;
Belonging;
and Utility.

Identity and belonging refer to whom you connect to and how that portrays you publicly – and all social networks cover this base. However it’s the last point – utility – that is actually the most important. What is its use, what does it do, in essence what is its USP that I can actually use this platform for?

With Google+ this would be the tools it created – Hangouts, privacy controls, mass conversations, and better privacy – yet it shied away from these tools at its launch. Rather now the platform has been incorporated into other Google tools to ensure adoption rather than having a USP to create a need for the product.

Twitter on the hand, has had a USP since the start: the unfiltered feed. If this goes away, then so too will the power and utility of Twitter vs. other social networks and it will become just another social network with no real USP. It will be, as many people have pointed out, just another Facebook – zero transparency and zero additional utility to its users.

The social USP is one that is often overlooked by brands when deciding which platforms to participate on, but by understanding the unique utility of each platform, it can help create a more informed social presence and in turn help design experiences ways of connecting with its customers in a much more strategic fashion.
By Tessa Barrera (@tessabarrera)

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Is the 30 second video dead?

Bravery is key to the rise of long form Over the last few years we have been led to believe…

Bravery is key to the rise of long form

Over the last few years we have been led to believe that people are extremely time poor, with short attention spans, riddled with Attention Deficit Disorder. As a result we’ve delivered content in short, easy to digest bursts, often in 5-30 seconds formats, 140 characters or one page ads.

Whilst they served a purpose, are we seeing a shift from this method of marketing? The answer is most definitely yes.

In March 2014, RapidTVNews reported that ad views on long-form digital content grew 86% year-over-year. Journalism, which has struggled to compete with the 24hours news cycle and the rise of 140 character reporting, has also begun to shift tact with the launch of several slow-storytelling platforms, Narratively being one such example.

 

The trick with long form marketing, that these two examples nailed, is developing content that doesn’t make you feel like your watching one long ad. Perhaps if we treat content like mini film premiers, broken free of the 5 second & click YouTube shackles, not only will we draw more viewers but as producers and directors, we’ll have the ability to deliver a brand’s message with even more freedom.

What this boils down to is calculated bravery. Bringing together a team of content producers to develop quality output that people will want to take time out to watch, get engulfed in and become cured of their ADD too!

By Julian Cirrone, Account Director

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Communications supporting business transparency

The recent financial crisis was a game changer on many fronts, not least for corporate communications.  The discipline has now…

The recent financial crisis was a game changer on many fronts, not least for corporate communications.  The discipline has now morphed from managing monologues to driving dialogues as the public mindset has awakened to corporate performance and behaviour.

Successful corporate communications is now a key part of any organisation, taking the central role to protect its license to operate and enhance its reputation.

And there is nothing like a national or global crisis to bring home just how essential the central role corporate communications is in projecting and protecting business and brands, particularly for the food industry.  Just last week Heinz had to tighten supply controls in China after an infant food scare, and McDonald’s Japan has said it will stop importing chicken from China and its restaurants will stop selling the meat following a recent supply driven scare.

The biggest stress test for UK food companies dates back to 2013 with the horsemeat scandal – nearly every brand implicated or investigated was caught off guard, with notable, established brands coming under criticism for not having enough knowledge of their supply chains to even understand where or how they might be exposed.

It brought into the public consciousness a whole host of issues for food and drink businesses, which already face extensive scrutiny around labelling, consumer health and sourcing.

Corporate communications should be the knowledge bank and conscience of an organisation, working with business to determine behaviours that cover everything from environment and employment, to supply chain process.  A good communications function, particularly for a food business, should be the litmus test of consumer reaction, understanding the policy and business pressures and matching these with the consumer need.

Only then can it not only credibly communicate the right storytelling content, to the right communities, in the right channels, but also go one step further, and influence corporate behaviour throughout the value chain.

Just how could integrated corporate communications have helped those affected by ‘horse-gate’?  By working with compliance, quality assurance, procurement and supply chain, issues and areas for reputational risk could have been identified and prepared for; supporting business in enacting operational changes and improvements in preparation for these external events that can come galloping (sorry!) out of nowhere.

Communications as a whole is no longer the function that can ‘PR that’, but a strategic business essential, that is the guardian of reputation and the very precious permission its public gives it to exist – which can disappear in a second without the right due diligence and corporate transparency, or the agility and knowledge to react to a breaking crisis.

By Lynda Redington (@LexisAgency)

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Exciting times as Lexis becomes part of Text100 in London agency merge

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A huge hand goes to our events team Reverb Events, for producing two simultaneously fantastic press days yesterday! Well done team

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Our experiential team Reverb Events transformed Soho's Vinyl Factory into a Mediterranean adventure to launch the M&S Summer Range. The show brought to life the brand's unique summer menu, full of delicious regional specialities from Sicily to Sardinia, Portugal to the South of France adding that M&S twist.

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Which trends do you think will help cultivate personal and unique experiences in the events and experiential marketing arena? Laura Jay, Head of Reverb Events at Lexis dives into the trends that will shape experiential work in 2017 - www.lexisagency.com/trends-that-will-shape-experiential-work-in-2017/

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Rhea, Assistant Account Executive at Lexis, talks us through the effects of fake news on today's communications industry and how we, as communications professionals, can protect ourselves, our industry and our clients from this. www.lexisagency.com/have-i-got-news-for-you/

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Celebrating Mary's fabulousness after 18 years of service to Lexis with a commissioned caricature. We're saying farewell as we move to our new home in Holborn.

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Katie O'Driscoll, Account Executive at Lexis, gives us some great tips on how to to prevent your brand from becoming target of online misbehaviour - www.lexisagency.com/dont-feed-the-trolls/

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Marieta Gan, Senior Account Executive at Lexis gives some useful tips on how marketeers can tell an authentic story with talent lead partnerships - www.lexisagency.com/what-should-you-want-from-your-talent-partnerships/

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We're thrilled to be announced as an official marketing and communications partner for ‘Maritime Connects’, a global initiative for UK enterprise spearheaded by The Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council http://bit.ly/2lKRdVN

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A story worth saving or another dodgy filter: A brief look into what could be one of the biggest tech IPO’s in history by @Frankie Cuffaro www.lexisagency.com/snaps-ipo-a-story-worth-saving-or-just-another-dodgy-filter/