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Getting Too Big for their Gucci Boots… Is Influencer Marketing Still “On Point”?

Jake Setterfield – Account Manager

Influencer marketing, loosely described as a form of digital marketing that brands adopt to identify, target and form partnerships with those with online influence, has experienced rapid growth in popularity over the past couple of years.

It is the practice of getting people who are popular on social networks (particularly Instagram) to talk candidly about a brand’s product (such as a pair of free Gucci boots) in a hope their amassed audiences would buy it.

And it’s big business, with 400 million active daily users alone on Instagram, their potential audience shouldn’t be sniffed at…

It’s certainly filled a gap for digital marketeers online too, where people are now moving away from “click-bait” content and banner ads. In-fact, it’s estimated audiences are far more likely to win the lottery than click a banner ad! Whilst this is possibly a little exaggerated, it just goes to show the gap influencer marketing has filled online.

However, consumers are also becoming ever savvier to the tricks of the trade, and apparently there is such a thing as being too popular. Research last year by Markerly found a ‘sweet spot’ brands should look for when it comes to influencers’ clout and how bigger isn’t always better…

They found follower numbers of influencers on Instagram should be between 10k and 100k. Any smaller than this, and your product won’t make a splash, but any bigger, and engagement drops off. Mega social celebs with over 10 million followers had a like rate of 1.7% compared to 2.4% of those with 10-100k followers.

For example, if a DIY brand partnered with a celebrity in that field, they would reach a huge audience, but a lot of them wouldn’t be interested in the subject. Instead, it would be better to spread the content across a number of smaller influencers that have followers engaged in that topic.

The high level of trust between these influencers and their audiences is really making the trend live up to the hype. Rather than brands scattering their message to a wide consumer audience, the targeted approach of influencer engagement really does help them achieve the marketing dream of true consumer engagement.

This is made all the more pertinent when influencers are selective about their affiliations, placing their fans’ trust for what they endorse above the commercial partnership with the brand. This is where the distinction between celebrities and influencers comes into play. Whereas celebs can spread a message widely across the population based on how likeable they are, we should be more concerned with the interests of the influencer’s audience and their affiliation to the influencer’s “brand”.

However, a recent study by marketeer Nik Speller found the extent to which some influencers are using “bots” to over-inflate their clout. These bots will interact with their social channels automatically liking, commenting and following people, thereby over-exaggerating their influence.

He finds this so called “Instagram fraud” has become really quite prolific, resulting in the misrepresentation of influencers’ popularity so they can mislead brands to command more profitable partnerships.

For cautious brands, it ultimately comes down to engagement and story telling. Don’t just go for big follower numbers when looking for influencers. Micro-influencers can tell a meaningful story to their engaged audiences at a fraction of the cost for what you’d pay for a mega celeb. Brands need to work with the right influencers with the right audiences, telling the right stories.

However, perhaps more interestingly, Instagram does very little to call out this phenomenon as an issue. This artificial engagement is still just that, engagement… regardless of how genuine it is. This is what Instagram uses to justify and command its advertising fees, so the more engagement, the bigger the market value and ultimately ad revenue.

Just goes to show that their shoes might not be big enough to fill those free Gucci boots after all….

Whilst the examples above quite evidently apply mainly to consumer clients, corporate clients should also take note too. Our client Vantage Motor Group recently worked with Instagram influencer Em Talks around London Fashion Week, letting her test drive a brand new Toyota to travel in style to the show. 

With over 70k followers on Instagram and nearly 30k on Twitter, the activity promoted the release of Toyota’s brand-new C-HR. The content was engaging and relevant to her audience who are dedicated followers. If they had gone for an influencer with an inflated follower number, the engagement wouldn’t have been as impressive.

If you need advice or support with digital marketing, get in touch with info@acceleris-mc.com

Rule one in the PR handbook 2017 – don’t follow the example of the US’ Press Secretary, Pepsi or United Airlines

The Pepsi ad fiasco of last week paled into insignificance when United Airlines found itself at the eye of a proverbial **** storm this week. Somehow, it even overshadowed the gaffe from Sean Spicer (The White House Press Secretary) who proclaimed, ‘even Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons’… In a cost saving gamble, the United Airline’s…

Keeping your reputation ship shape

Crucial in any industry – but why especially so for fishing?

The fishing industry has come in for a lot of undue criticism over the last few years, with NGOs, politicians, journalists and campaigners all lining up to take a swipe. Many of these attacks can be characterised as sweeping statements backed by precious little factual evidence. Yet, attacks like these, even when founded on incorrect allegations, can cause serious damage to a company’s, or an entire industry’s, reputation. Therefore it is crucial that reputation management is seen as a necessary element of running your business and keeping it shipshape.

Recent research from BDO LLP and the Quoted Companies Alliance has shown small and medium sized companies attach 28 per cent of their value directly to reputation. With the UK fishing industry valued at more than £860m[1], that’s clearly quite a significant amount. As the fishing industry comes in for constant and heavy scrutiny, far more so than many other industries, one misstep can have severe consequences.

So just how serious an impact can a badly managed crisis have? When thinking about reputation meltdown and its impact on business value, a recent example that comes to mind is that of Volkswagen. The company lost over a third of its value (35 per cent) in just two days following the ‘dieselgate’ crisis where the company was found to be using cheat devices during emissions tests. That’s a hit of approximately €25bn.

The emergence of a crisis is sometimes completely unavoidable. What we remain in control of, however, is the response. Thankfully this is by far the most important aspect of ensuring reputations remain untarnished. It’s not too much to say that a well-crafted response to a crisis can be the difference between a short term nuisance and a permanently damaged reputation.

Our advice would be to ensure you’re first, fast and frank in your response to the issue. By being proactive in taking control of your response to customers, employees, suppliers, wider stakeholders and the media, you can set the tone for how it’s perceived down the line. If you’re seen to be addressing the situation seriously with a joined up plan across all your communications channels you can actually improve rather than damage the perception of your business.

It sounds easy when you put it like that, but to swiftly and effectively manage a crisis you need to have a plan in place long before you can see a potential issue looming on the horizon. By having a procedure clearly laid out for dealing with any problems, you’ll ensure your response is professional and level-headed. This includes identifying all operational responsibilities to communicating your plan of action – with digital media now being at the forefront of any crisis strategy.

However, reputation management is not all about deflecting crises. Proactively promoting a consistent, positive message about a business and its operations can be a brilliant boost to a business’ reputation and pays dividends in ensuring any negative issues are placed in the context of a much wider, positive piece.

The Saucy Fish Company recently won plaudits and a prestigious award for its School of Fish campaign, which saw a team of children prepare, cook and serve Saucy Fish products to a packed central London restaurant. By planning such a creative event, along with the inevitable cuteness factor brought by kids, the company pulled off a great stunt which led to substantial positive feedback – and the approval and increased interest of potential customers.

At Acceleris, we recently ran a proactive campaign of our own to dispel some of the myths surrounding the European fishing industry, communicating a more positive, consumer-friendly face for the sector. Working with Europêche, the European trade body representing 80,000 fishermen and 45,000 vessels from nine EU countries, Acceleris developed the consumer information portal iFish, designed to address the growing consumer appetite for information on the industry. The site provides facts and figures on the industry while boosting its favourability in the eyes of the public. The associated campaign secured almost 200 pieces of press coverage across Europe, reaching an audience of 140 million people. Every piece of coverage contained a positive message about the work of the industry and the campaign beat global brands including BP, BASF and Unilever to the European Excellence Award in Communications in Stockholm last December.

Clearly, the fishing industry has made good headway in recent years on improving its reputation and it’s great to see sympathetic programmes like The Catch and Trawlermen Tales hitting the mainstream. On the back of this, it’s brilliant to see the Fishing News Awards return after an eight year break. The awards, set to be held in Aberdeen on 26 May 2016, will celebrate the best commercial fishermen from across the UK and Ireland. With a fantastic buzz already surrounding the awards, this kind of event is exactly what the industry needs to capitalise, and improve even further, on its recent reputation boost.

Of course, everyday activity is crucial too – managing reputation is a continuing job. Most businesses don’t have the resources to put on a constant stream of events of this scale – likewise, it’s not simply enough to start trying to garner good favour once a crisis is already on your plate. Regularly share good news stories and CSR initiatives so people know the good work your business does. Not only is this good practice generally, it may determine how people react if a crisis does hit your company. It will also help you to develop strong relationships within the media which are useful to promote good news, but could also become handy when you have not-so good news to share.

The UK fishing industry provides over 31,000 jobs[2], almost £1bn to the economy and food security to the nation and abroad. Yet, these positive messages are in danger of becoming drowned out by well financed and well-resourced detractors. It’s time the industry took back the narrative and restored fishermen’s position as the heroes of the seas.

[1] The value of the 756,000 tonnes of sea fish landed by UK vessels into the UK and abroad.

[2] There are 11,800 active fishermen and 19,511 fish processors in the UK as of 2014

Balancing the Books

Every year, the Budget and the Autumn Statement give us an opportunity to see how the Government will set the spending agenda for the next year – some of us hoping for changes to the housing sector, announcements around pensions for those of us planning ahead and even cuts to a pint of beer for the rest of us. And also to see how it will affect our clients!

As this Spring Budget creeps closer and the Chancellor battles to decrease the deficit this year, here’s a list of things we’ll be keeping an eye on for our clients:

  • Housing

You can’t have missed the news that the country is going through somewhat of a housing crisis. With unprecedented changes to the social housing sector, more tenants are being given the right to buy their housing association homes, whilst local authorities are also being forced to sell off their valuable properties.

Private renters and buyers are feeling the pinch too – with changes in Buy-to-Let taxes for private landlords, rents spiralling out of control and rising house prices.

Our housing team has been working for clients in the public and private sector and we know the great work that goes on behind closed doors to try and solve this crisis – so it will be interesting to see what George Osborne offers.

  • Motoring

The Government has long been shouting about its £15 billion pledge to improve the UK’s roads and infrastructure, but most of us just want to know what it’s going to do about potholes!

Something else to keep an eye on is whether the Chancellor raises fuel duty. Whilst motorists have benefited from a freeze in the tax since 2011, with fuel prices at a six year low, Osborne could see this as an opportunity to raise it. Our clients regularly campaign for greater motorists’ rights and an end to the huge costs for UK drivers so we’ll be keeping an ear out for any inkling of ending the freeze.

  • Energy

In an intensely scrutinised and heavily regulated industry, there’s often bated breath when it comes to Government announcements. It was a particular blow to see the end of the Green Deal delivering environmentally friendly ways to save energy – and a bit of money – so it would be good to see some alternative policies looking to promote eco energy.

  • Business

And finally, all our clients are businesses and any changes in business rates, employment and training are vital in their day-to-day running.

With many of our clients celebrating National Apprenticeship Week this month, we know the importance of offering training and employment opportunities to young people in local communities (we have our own Acceleris Academy offering work placements and placement years to young graduates and students looking to get into PR).

The Budget often brings with it a promise of opportunity for young people looking for employment so we’re hoping the Chancellor will do more to support all manner of businesses who want to offer these opportunities.

Whilst we have specialist teams at Acceleris covering maritime, housing, health, motoring and charity, we work for clients in all areas of business and are experienced in crisis communications, for those announcements that you might not be expecting.

Seafood Week Part 1: It’s Of-fish-al! National Seafood Week is here!

In factories, plants and sites across the country, there are signs proudly announcing the number of days the company has gone without accidents.

On the wall of the Acceleris office however, there is a sign saying:

 

fish 1

This is because today is Fish Pun Day! Wahoo! (actually a fishy member of the mackerel family for those who don’t know). In an office full of people who love words and language, it’s easy to get carried away with pun one-upmanship, but finally CEO and head punster, Peter, is free to say ‘oh my cod’ or ‘plain sailing from here’ or ‘right plaice, right time’. I would go on but just thinking about it is giving me a haddock…!

Fish Pun Day marks the start of National Seafood Week (9-16th October) and we, at Acceleris, are getting ‘on board’ to share some of our ‘brill’ experiences working with fishermen and seafarers.

Over the next week, members of the agency’s maritime division will be sharing their experiences of working in the maritime and fishing sectors. We will also be busy on Twitter using the hashtags #Gethooked, and #SeafoodWeek to share ideas, videos and examples of our work so raise the periscope.

fish 2

fish 3From royal visits to a retired seafarers’ care home and dunking celebrities in shark tanks to defending hardworking fishermen and championing sustainability, Acceleris’ maritime work in the last two years alone has taken the team to Munich, Dublin, Brussels, London, Vigo, and of course closer to home trips to Grimsby and Hull! Some of our award winning fishy work has also been studied by students at the University of the Arts London.

 

So get ‘on board’ and ‘set sail’ for a week of insight and top tips for communications for the maritime industry. Oh and don’t forget buoys and gills, if you can think of a batter fish pun, let minnow!

 

Bake a Cake, for Charity’s Sake!

Every year since 1990, Macmillan has been holding national coffee mornings where people are invited to get together, bake and raise money to support those facing cancer.

This month, we decided to join in and host our very own Macmillan coffee morning. There was much excitement and anticipation amongst the team as cake never lasts long in our office!

The whole team pledged to have a go at whipping up a sweet or savoury treat for the day and the results were incredible….

The Acceleris office has a lot of closet bakers!

The Acceleris office has a lot of closet bakers!

Who knew how many secret bakers we had in our midst!

We invited local suppliers and clients to the event which provided a great opportunity for an informal catch up and also to show off our new games room, complete with pool table, table tennis and even a dart board.

Cake in hand, and a couple of rounds of darts and we were all having a great time. As a PR agency creativity is obviously key to what we do and the games room not only allows us to relax, but is also a great way to get the creative juices flowing. Just some suggestions for our new brainstorming nook include idea ping pong – batting strategies back and forth, both metaphorically as well as physically – who knows what future campaigns will be born out of this room!
Games Room 1

Given the popularity of everyone’s favourite Wednesday show, The Great British Bake Off, there was inevitably going to be a competitive side to proceedings at Acceleris. All the homemade fare on offer was sampled by our independent judge – our Chairman, Nigel Howes – who announced the sweet and savoury star bakers. In his words, “It was a very tough call” but there could only be one winner in each category. Account Executive, Dan, took the gold star in savoury with his wonderful sausage rolls, and Company Secretary, Alison, struck gold in the sweet with her plum and almond cake.

Some of the treats on the judge's plate!

Some of the treats on the judge’s plate!

The main aim of the day was to raise money for a fantastic cause, and in the spirit of Macmillan Coffee Mornings, to have a little fun doing it.

So, drum roll please… so far we have raised £366.98 (and counting)! A big thank you goes out to all of our clients and suppliers who generously donated, and also to everyone at the agency for their hard work and kindness.
Montage

Supporting charitable pursuits is something which is close to all our hearts at Acceleris and as an agency we have worked with a number of third sector groups, including maritime charities The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, Seafarers UK and The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, Leeds based children’s cancer charity Candlelighters, The Prince’s Trust and The Children’s Heart Surgery Fund. For more information on the services we provide, please visit our website http://www.acceleris-mc.com.

Why it’s so important to get a rebrand right

Rebranding is all about establishing a new, uniform identity – to refresh and unite a business or to signal a new direction for a company.

But when Haringey Council’s rebrand was unveiled this week, it was met with backlash online, with residents and locals labelling it childish and a waste of money.

Just so you know, this is the new logo devised by Haringey Council…

BS1995_Haringey_TapeType_RED_RGB (002).jpg-pwrt3

… which was met by a few tweets from disgruntled residents…

haringeytweet1

haringeytweet2

Local newspaper The Haringey Independent got in on the act, running an online poll to find out readers’ views – where more than 50 per cent of visitors branded the logo ‘terrible’.

haringeyvote

At a time when councils and local authorities are feeling the pinch from the Summer Budget and are having services stretched, many are calling out Haringey Council for wasting money on a rebrand. Yet rebrands are a part of a wider campaign – in this case to attract people to the borough, boosting the local economy and ultimately generating a greater income for the council.

Out of context, the logo may not inspire, but as part of a wider campaign, supported by video and an online campaign (#IminHaringey) to encourage people to take pride in their community, the message is one of unity and Haringey being a place to be proud of. The image was leaked to the media ahead of its launch, so the council was unable to control the aim and reason behind the campaign and the logo itself.

Remember the 2012 Olympic logo? There was outrage and indignation online when it was first launched, but as soon as the OIympics started, it was touted as a symbol of national pride.

olympics

Here at Acceleris we’ve worked on a range of rebrand projects, from the UK’s leading fabricated steelwork company Severfield to an innovative new housing model, Rentplus. With all our projects, we work hard to really understand a company’s ethos and identity and establish a brand that fits a business’s visions and values.

You can’t always rely on everyone to like a logo – we’ve had a few arguments amongst ourselves when brainstorming ideas – but at the end of the day, it’s about the wider message it sends, and #IminHaringey is an important campaign for a borough that has seen some tough times.

Want brilliant PR exposure? Just Make It Snappy…

A picture paints a thousand words. With Instagram now racking up 75 million users every day, 100 million people pinning on Pinterest, and social media platforms like Facebook weighting its EdgeRank on photo content, anyone can see why strong photography is as important with the digital media generation as it was in the sooty fingered days of print.

Images rule both traditional and social media. We all love visuals, and the stats back this up. Pinterest is second only to Facebook in driving referral traffic to websites. Tweets with photos get 35 percent more retweets on average. I could go on…

Remade

Remade in Britain

Harnessing a strong creative image to tell a story and engage interest from attention poor audiences is something we’re well versed in at Acceleris. Recent examples include creating a room in a skip at one of the UK’s busiest recycling sites to launch upcycling website Remade in Britain (a shot used over 280 times in on and offline media titles from The Daily Telegraph to The Observer, Guardian, Metro and Good Housekeeping) to securing phenomenal mainstream coverage in every national news title for the Shipwrecked Mariners photography competition, depicting our turbulent dependence on the sea.

shipwrecked

Entry for Shipwrecked Mariners’ photography competition

Good imagery commands space, generates awareness, promotes debate and fuels engagement. So with this in mind, here are my top five PR images from the last week:

  1. You will have been hard pushed to avoid the start of the Rugby World Cup this week – an opportunity Cardiff Council tackled by embedding a giant rugby ball in the wall of Cardiff Castle. Within hours of the picture emerging, Cardiff Castle and #ballinthewall were trending UK wide with the stunt being heralded as the most iconic image of the tournament so far.  A cool tactic that’s given Cardiff Castle recognition not just in the UK, but across the globe.

cardiff

  1. There’s only one thing better than cute babies and cute animals to put picture desks into over drive – and that’s cute baby animals. A fact seized on this week when Mr Kipling created a ‘mammoth’ first birthday cake for Sam – Whipsnade Zoo’s baby Asian elephant. The picture secured national exposure with a hay and banana topped cake which was a thankfully a tad larger than the brand’s usual offerings.

elephant

  1. Vauxhall Motors tapped into a spot of national pride with this shot designed to celebrate more than 36 years of its iconic British-built Astra. Workers at Vauxhall’s Cheshire Ellesmere Port plant created the union flag using 128 of the new 7th generation Astras. Although not the most creative example in the list – aerial shots of cars make an appearance almost as often as Clarkson’s right hook – you can always rely on a spot of patriotism to fuel some ‘Astra-nomical’ coverage.

astra

  1. Unsurprisingly, back to Rugby. The NHS scored a try with its heart-warming #bleedforengland campaign in which it recruited England legends Jonny Wilkinson, Martin Johnson and Ben Kay to donate blood, urging others to do the same. The blood of the rugby aces was mixed with paint to create unique images of the English Rose, used as part of this shot as well as in a supporting video. Both have seen massive engagement across media.

blood

  1. Last but by no means least – any blog this week wouldn’t be complete without reference to #piggate and the fact once again brand saboteurs and creatives across the country have seized on this for some clever and irreverent marketing. My favourite is this tweeted image via the School of Communications Arts…all in the best possible taste.

colmans