Tag Archive for PR

Top Tips for Media Mastery

Hania Thompson – Account Executive

For many 2017 has been the year of Fidget Spinners, Oscar Fiascoes and Brexit however for those in the world of PR, 2017 will always be the year of one of the biggest scandals to hit the industry in decades. Bell Pottinger was one of the most respected PR agencies in the world, until its collapse in early September after its association with a controversial campaign used to stir up racial tension in South Africa. During the Newsnight interview co-founder Lord Bell was put through his paces and cracked under the pressure. He appeared flustered and unsure of how to dodge the metaphorical bullets which presenter Kirsty Wark was firing at him. Perhaps he needed some media training…

I recently attended a media taster event where my eyes and ears were well and truly opened to the intricacies of journalism and the media. During the event I had the daunting opportunity to experience being interviewed for TV and radio programmes in professional studios and hear from the journalists’ mouths what they’re looking for when they’re interviewing.

Into the Spotlight

The purpose of this was to see what it was like to be on the receiving end of an interview and to express the importance of media training. Firstly, knowing the subject you are speaking about in great depth is key, a bit obvious but it does help! I was given fifteen minutes to gather my thoughts before being thrust into the spotlight and grilled about whether The X Factor had run its course (in my opinion it probably has). But sweeping, sensationalist comments like this must be corroborated with strong facts to hold up to scrutiny from journalists.

Lights, Camera, Action!

As I stepped in front of the camera the tell tales signs of nerves kicked in; the dry mouth, your heart trying to escape out of your chest and the inevitable sweat (attractive I know!). I was assured that I relaxed as my interview progressed, however I could feel my face getting redder by the minute! It was at this moment I realised I was not going to be the next Fiona Bruce…

Face for the Radio?

Radio (in my opinion) was a more calming experience, I didn’t have to think about a lens pointing at me, where I should be looking and whether the camera would make me gain ten pounds. I was put at ease throughout the experience as myself and DJ Daz discussed the important issue of Black Friday and whether it is a bargain or a bit of a rip off (again I think the latter).

For those of you who are radio novices (like me!) you may not be aware that as you are being interviewed you can hear both your interviewers and your own voice, which makes you think ‘do I really sound like that?’ Maybe I have the makings of the next Chris Evans? Here’s how I got on…

Top Interview Tips

This overall experience has made me realise how important media training is. You might have the facts nailed, but make sure you brush up on your interview techniques beforehand, so here are five top tips for a life in the media spotlight:

  1. Understand the subject you are being interviewed on like the back of your hand
  2. Be clear and concise during an interview and always refer to your key messages
  3. Make sure you are prepared for challenging questions or potential pitfalls as this can make you feel more confident
  4. Whilst on the radio, choose your words carefully and be wary of the tone of your voice – this also applies to television, but body language and facial expressions are added factors. Take your time, talk slowly and clearly and remember to breathe!
  5. When on television it’s important to keep your eyes focussed on the interviewer, as rapidly moving eyes can make you look untrustworthy and unsure of your subject

Although there are many guides and tips describing how to conduct yourself in front of the media (such as mine above), there is no better way to master this art but by practicing and getting used to the sensation of being put under the spotlight. Even the most experienced of professionals can struggle during interviews, especially when they are live (anything can happen!).

Media Mishaps

The first video is an oldie but a goodie which graced our screens in 2006 and will forever be in our hearts! When Guy Goma left his house for a job interview at the BBC, little did he know that he would end up on live national news, it is certainly a day he will never forget…and neither will we!

 

The second video went viral earlier this year and has had over 25 million views on YouTube alone. Professor Robert Kelly was prepared for his interview, he knew his subject, he was dressed professionally; if only he hadn’t left his door unlocked…he was not prepared for what happened next!

As you can see both these videos prove that even if an interview doesn’t go your way, don’t be too downtrodden. Our media training service has helped our clients arm themselves for interviews for a decade!

If (like me), the idea of interviews will keep you up at night, give us a call and Acceleris’ team will give you the essential media tips! Email us at info@acceleris-mc.com to get the conversation started or visit our website.

Tomorrow’s PR Professionals

Rebecca Hankic – Senior Account Manager at Acceleris

Acceleris runs its own training and development programme, the Acceleris Academy, to offer work placements to those looking for a break into the industry, as well as upskilling the team internally. In the last three years, we’ve recruited nine people through the Academy, and offered work placements to dozens more. With the role of PR agencies ever growing and involving, it’s vital to have fresh faces to offer new skills and expertise – so keep an eye on our vacancies page for when we’re next looking to hire!

Our Senior Account Director Ellie St George-Yorke sits on the regional CIPR committee, working to promote and support the PR sector in Yorkshire. As part of a programme of activity working with local students, Ellie and I spoke on a panel as part of a CIPR Meet the Professionals event at Leeds Beckett University.

Around 20 students from Leeds Beckett’s PR course, one of the best in the country, quizzed a panel of PR professionals from agencies and in-house roles across Yorkshire, to find out more about the future of PR and routes into the industry.

With many students looking for their first placements in the industry, how to apply for jobs was high on the agenda, as well as the opportunities in the region and retaining and nurturing young PR talent in Yorkshire.

So below are some of our top tips for getting into PR as discussed at the session – and will hopefully inspire some of the PR minds of tomorrow to stay in the region!

 Tips for getting into the industry

Know your stuff

We get so many applications for work experience and placements, from local schools to colleges, Universities and people looking for their first step into the industry, so we always look for people who have a real interest in the agency, our work and the industry itself.

When applying, familiarise yourself with what’s going on, what campaigns we’ve worked on and what specialisms we have – you’ll get so much more out of your placement and help build your skill set, if you read around the subject and get as under the skin of a client as you can!

Know your worth

This is equally important. Acceleris was one of the first in the region to commit to support Leeds Beckett University’s campaign to pay interns. PR is an incredibly competitive industry, but we’re passionate about supporting everyone in having the opportunity to get experience. If you work somewhere for more than two weeks and are contributing to valuable agency work, we believe this should be recognised. For graduates just out of Uni, it can be tempting to work for free and if you can afford it, it could be a great opportunity – but don’t accept that’s the only way to get work experience – it’s not!

You might also feel you’ve not got the experience to go into PR, but the team at Acceleris has a range of backgrounds, from former journalists to in-house specialists and German and Sports Management graduates! If you want to get into PR, keep at it – don’t let anyone tell you it’s not for you!

Get stuck in

A placement or internship provides a great opportunity to work on a range of different activity and broaden your skill set. Shout up, get involved and have an open mind on what you’re working on – you might think you want to focus on fashion PR and then realise charity campaigns are more your thing!

We’re also a sociable bunch, so if it’s going for a drink after work, making a round in the office or going for lunch, get involved. We love to see team players and you can learn a lot about the industry and what a future role might entail over a pint (or a bottle of prosecco in our Company Secretary’s case!).

 

To find out more about the Acceleris Academy, visit the page on our website or get in touch at info@acceleris-mc.com

 

Brand Ethics: Is It All Just A Waste Of Time?

Emily Atkinson, who joined Acceleris for a work experience placement

Emily Atkinson, who joined Acceleris for a work experience placement

Did you know that 300,000 tonnes of clothing was sent to landfill sites in the UK last year; seven million coffee cups are disposed of each day, and by 2050, the ocean is set to contain more plastic than fish? In a recent article from The Guardian, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation expressed its concern over the perennial question: ‘Who will halt this tidal wave of waste?’

 

Indeed, each year sees an increase in the number of UK and worldwide businesses that are prepared to jump onto the eco-friendly band wagon with the aim of attaining a brand image that evokes transparency, sustainability and ethical behaviour. To mention only a few; Coca-Cola, Tesco, H&M, and Stella McCartney are all companies which, in the last couple of years, have made a significant attempt to refresh their reputation by working towards a more renewable world.

 

Businesses are recognising the increase in consumer demand for more ethical and sustainable products – a revolution that is taking social media by storm. For instance, NARS cosmetics recently took to Instagram to announce that they wanted to put an end to animal testing, stating: “We want you to know that we hear you. The global elimination of animal testing needs to happen.”

 

Social media has become a platform on which anyone, anywhere can have their say. The likes of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube not only allow people to criticise but also for businesses to respond to criticism and relaunch their brand as one which satisfies consumer demands.

 

Coca-Cola

Take Coca-Cola for instance, its most recent campaign shows an epic love story between Coke and Fanta; the idea that they are both contained in recyclable plastic bottles means that they are able to meet over and over again, and eventually fall in love (how sweet!). Lucy Barry, a Berlin-based artist, used ALL recyclable materials, including 1,500 bottles, to create the masterpiece. Accompanying the ad is a short YouTube video showing ‘A Timeline Tour’ of change in the production of Coca-Cola bottles.

Coca-Cola has high hopes for its campaign, with a similar piece last year generating around 37,000 pledges.

H&M

Both high street and high end fashion labels have also joined forces to save our planet. As a self-confessed shopaholic and fashion enthusiast, I think it’s great that clothing brands have entered into this craze. Last year, H&M launched its first eco-friendly campaign, collaborating with singer M.I.A to create a song and video called ‘Rewear It’. The campaign secured 500,000 views within a week of being released and, since the launch of its garment collecting initiative in 2013, H&M has acquired over 32,000 tonnes of recyclable clothing.

And H&M aren’t the only ones! Stella McCartney recently chose a landfill site in Scotland as the backdrop for her fall 2017 collection launch. The lead image of the campaign features a model surrounded by a mass of cast-off clothing, accessories and so-called ‘rubbish’. Again, McCartney proves that a great picture/ video never fails when it comes to making your brand stand out.

stella mccartney model in landfill

 

But does it work?

The answer is YES! As an agency, we are no strangers to the process of brand rejuvenation and the promotion of environmental sustainability as a less commercial way of building a relationship with consumers. Back in 2015, we were tasked with launching the UK’s first website dedicated solely to upcycling: Remade in Britain. The company focuses on the restoration of furniture, home accessories and gifts, targeting those who seek, ‘ethical, sustainable, and waste-reducing products’. We even created our own recycling stunt, creating room in a skip using furniture from the site.

Remade in Britain Founder Donna Fenn in the 'Skip Room' - press

Remade in Britain Founder Donna Fenn in the ‘Skip Room’

To read more about this campaign and find out more about what we do, head to http://www.acceleris-mc.com/.

Ey up! It’s Yorkshire Day!

Why today?

Every year, on the 1 August, the people of Yorkshire put on a united front to celebrate their home county. But why today? The first ever ‘Yorkshire Day’ took place on 1 August in 1975, after it had been officially declared the previous year at a meeting of the Yorkshire Ridings Society. According to BBC reporter Carole Green, “every year, on that day, members of the Society read a declaration of the integrity of Yorkshire at each of the four Bars of York” (no, not the drinking kind!).

This year the main event will take place in the South of Yorkshire, as Sheffield’s civic officials take part in a march to Sheffield Cathedral, followed by a parade and a day of festivities. Since we’re celebrating all things Yorkshire, we thought we’d take a look at some of the best PR stunts and activities that took place today.

Yorkshire Day

Yorkshire Day vending machine, Xscape in Castleford

Xscape, the leisure complex in Castleford, has installed its very own Yorkshire-esque vending machine. Forget fruit pastels and fanta, think Yorkshire puddings, tea and flat caps! Brands such as Yorkshire Tea, Yorkshire Water, Seabrook Crisps, Henderson’s Relish, and Aunt Bessie’s have all contributed their Yorkshire-based products in support of today’s event.

 The reopening of Piece Hall

The Piece Hall in Halifax is thought to be one of the few Georgian buildings to showcase the history of Yorkshire’s working people, rather than that of the aristocracy, and it reopens today! From 10am onwards, a multitude of new businesses and shops run by the Piece Hall Trust opened to visitors for the first time, marking the start of a day of fun-filled activities for the public.

Nicky Chance Thompson, Chief Executive of The Piece Hall Trust said:

‘The Piece Hall is a much-loved building here in Halifax and we wanted to welcome local people first, to see for themselves the work that has been undertaken to transform this major piece of our heritage into a stunning part of our future.’

York Maze

York Maze is holding a Yorkshire pudding throwing competition to show their appreciation of ‘God’s Own Country’ (what a waste!), as well as a straw bale race and live music to commemorate our county.

Pubs in Leeds

It has also been reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post that the town of Leeds, will rename all its pubs after celebrities from Yorkshire- that shouldmake the infamous ‘Otley run’ (a bar crawl that runs through Headingly) more interesting! The bars are said to be named after the likes of Alan Bennett, Corinne Bailey-Rae, Dynamo, Nicola Adams, and, of course, Sean Bean.

 

Instagram

And what better way to promote our white rose county than social media? Most notably Instagram and Twitter have been bombarded by a plethora of images posted by the general public, all of which are rejoicing over everything Yorkshire- and of course we’re all using #YorkshireDay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a Yorkshire-based agency, we’ll certainly be enjoying a few cups of Yorkshire Tea to celebrate. To find out more about what we do for our Yorkshire clients (and those further afield) take a look at our case studies: http://www.acceleris-mc.com/.

Adidas Can’t Run From This Epic Marketing Mistake

Phillip Portman – Account Executive

Just four years after three people were killed and over 260 more were injured when bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, clothing company Adidas found itself at the centre of a social media storm following a poorly-worded marketing email that was sent to competitors of this year’s event.

Some 26,492 runners who crossed the line of the gruelling sports challenge were sent a message that read: “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon.” Some of the racers were people who were badly injured but survived the tragic events in 2013.

Because this is 2017, recipients of the email quickly began uploading screenshots of the message they had received to social media. Most notable was racer Mike Denison, who called Adidas out for what he clearly believed to be a poor choice of words. “You may want to rethink the subject line,” he hinted, being sure that his 21,000 followers saw the message. They did. Many began throwing their support behind Mike and hurling insults at Adidas. Gifs of face palms and confused memes began flooding the micro-blogging site, before journalists from major online news outlets began catching wind.

Source: Adidas

“Can we use your photo on all forms of NBC platforms with courtesy of you?” asked one reporter.

Another tweet read: “I’m a reporter from AOL and would love to ask you a few questions about this tweet for our coverage,” while others from publications including ABC and Business Insider also sent requests. Other racers began uploading screenshots of the email they received and before we knew it, opinions were flying on whether Adidas was right or wrong for sending the email. It made headlines around the globe and was splashed across homepages of news websites with readerships in their millions. How, in the wake of a Pepsi debacle and United Airlines blunder did Adidas get it so wrong? Were they even wrong? Did it matter either way?

Hitting the headlines: how one mistake on social media can leave you running for cover

Adidas had been a major sponsor of the 2017 event and before their unfortunate fiasco outraged the internet, had done everything right in terms of promoting their involvement in the event. They released a specific sports collection for the race including singlets, tights and t-shirts and even ran a successful social media campaign. #WhyIRunBoston encouraged participants to upload photos and to tell their own Boston story. According to the campaign, “everyone has a Boston story” and it was up to competitors to “make history and inspire others to do the same”.

Adidas was quick to issue an apology over the email when it started making international press. They took full responsibility for the hurt they caused and said:

Source: Adidas

Because PR blunders like this seem to be a common occurrence (seriously, we’re not even half way through 2017 and we’ve lost count of how many there have been this year), here are our tips when it comes to a mass-marketing email.

  1. Know world events – Having a strong PR campaign is one thing, but you need to be aware of key events, major news stories and what’s happening in the world. In the case of Adidas, the fact that the Boston Marathon was rocked by a terrorist attack just four years earlier should have been on someone’s radar. Although well intended, the message of congratulations upset a large number of people, undid a lot of hard work that went into the campaign and potentially tarnished the reputation of Adidas. Something as simple as keeping a calendar of key events or dates or a skim over the day’s news could prevent a “PR disaster” from happening in the first place.
  2. Proof check – While it may be one person’s job to send an email, it’s vital to work as a team and get feedback to ensure mistakes don’t happen. This could be something as simple as a spelling error or something as major as the Adidas conundrum. A second or third pair of eyes usually does the trick. If you’re unsure, ask. Once you click send, there’s no going back.
  3. If something can go wrong, it probably will – If there’s even a slight chance that someone could be offended by the way you phrase something or the way you string a sentence together, they probably will be (this is the age of social media after all). With Adidas, removing the word survived could have saved a great deal of embarrassment for the brand. At the end of the day, the purpose of the email was to push more product, and the company could have found a better way of grabbing their customer’s attention.
  4. Know your worth and your subject – Whether your company has hundreds of years of experience or is a new start up, know that everything you send out into the world is a reflection of your brand. In the case of Adidas, their whole campaign positioned itself around Boston Pride, but it came across like Adidas didn’t know an awful lot about the Boston people or the city’s history. You need to know what you’re preaching if you want it to be believable.
  5. Swift and sincere apology – If the worse happens, be prepared to apologise – even if you don’t think you’re in the wrong. Don’t let pride get in the way of your brand’s reputation. Adidas were actually pretty good at this, issuing a statement nearly immediately and pinning it to their social profiles. Mistakes happen, but you need to be prepared for any onslaught that might happen as a result.

If you want to chat to us more about avoiding a crisis like Adidas, don’t hesitate to get in contact on 0845 4567 251 or visit our website.    

Well, That Was Quite A Year!!!

Peter Davenport, Chief Executive at Acceleris

If there was a single, unifying factor to a calendar of events that shook up the accepted order of things it was, ‘Expect the Unexpected.’

 

The UK voting to quit the EU, America electing Donald Trump as President and Leicester City winning the Premier League. Each and every one against the prevailing odds, confounding the experts, defying the pollsters.

 

To the pessimists, it meant that ‘nothing will ever be the same again.’ To the optimists it meant, ‘nothing will ever be the same again.’

 

Diametrically opposing views of the same situation!

 

So what does the future hold?

 

The same experts who so confidently, but mistakenly, predicted the outcomes of those events above – and many others – are now in full flow forecasting what is to come. The reality is that no-one really knows what 2017 holds other than ‘uncertainty.’ At times like this, you just have hold your nerve and focus on the things you can affect rather than over-worrying about the things you can’t.

 

Here at Acceleris it’s also been quite a year.  Like many other businesses, we experienced the pre and post EU Referendum doldrums as clients struggled to understand the implications for them and either cancelled or delayed projects. But with the dawning realisation that, apart from in the financial markets where the pound took a battering, in the ‘real-world’ of day-to-day business, not a lot had changed since the vote, and may not until the result of the Article 50 negotiations are known. The final months of 2016 proved to be exceptionally busy with new clients and new projects on existing accounts.

 

The year also marked 10 years since the agency was founded with a vision to deliver outstanding service and innovative PR and Communications solutions to clients throughout the UK and in Europe. Whilst we always strive to live up to our vision – for instance delivering our first VR project for a major client this month –  it’s especially rewarding when those qualities are recognised by our peers.

 

And in 2016 we continued to add to our trophy cabinet and awards wall.

 

For the second year in succession, we were named  Agency of the Year’ at the UK Public Sector Communications Awards at a ceremony at The Emirates Stadium in London in July and this month in Berlin, we won the Issues and Reputation Management’ trophy at the prestigious European Communications Excellence Awards, beating off challenges from the likes of IBM and Lidl. It’s a remarkable third time in four years we have collected this award – in Munich in 2013 and Stockholm in 2015 when we beat Unilever, BASF and BP to the accolade. We also won two Golds in the regional CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations) PRide Awards.

 

I believe these awards are testimony to the intelligent, insightful and innovative way in which we approach our work. We can certainly do ‘fun’ but we also excel at the ‘serious.’

 

The turn of the year also marks a time of personal change.

 

For the last decade I have been privileged to lead Acceleris, latterly as CEO. From the New Year, I am changing my relationship with the agency of which I am so proud, to facilitate a more flexible way of working. I am stepping down as Chief Executive, leaving the running of the agency in the more than capable hands of my much admired colleague, Managing Director Louise Vaughan, to work as a strategic consultant across some key client accounts and to focus on business development, something I particularly enjoy.

 

I have no doubt that Acceleris will go on to build on its impressive achievements to date and I look forward to playing a somewhat  different – but hopefully valuable – part in the next stage of its story.

Winner winner chicken dinner! How to be an industry awards master

Ellie St George-Yorke, Account Director

As a PR you get to travel to many glamorous places and this week is no exception. Today team Acceleris will travel to Germany to attend the European PR Excellence Awards at the Ritz Carlton in Berlin. Eyelashes at the ready ladies!

These awards are the latest in a string of glitzy ceremonies for the team over the last few weeks with Award season certainly in full swing. Here’s my take on the benefits of entering awards and how to be the best at showcasing your work.

 

PR-ing a PR Agency

PR agencies are notorious for suffering from ‘cobblers’ children syndrome’ when it comes to shouting about their own achievements. While a new appointment, a client win or an industry award would be jumped on by a PR team for a client, PR agencies often either forget or are too busy to share their own successes, whether online or through the media.

About six years ago, we at Acceleris decided to change our approach and dedicate time and efforts to building our own brand using the same channels we would for many clients. We now have a dedicated team who identify comment and feature opportunities, draft and sell in press releases about agency achievements and enter all sorts of industry awards on behalf of the team.

This approach has really paid off with Acceleris having won almost 50 industry awards being presented to the agency since we started ten years ago. These have spanned Leeds and Yorkshire region as well as picking up trophies in London and on an international scale in Munich and Stockholm. And fingers crossed for the treble in Berlin tonight!

And it’s not just for us, this year we have successfully entered awards on behalf of a number of our clients including charities such as the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society and Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, motoring clients Nexus Vehicle Rental, Vantage Motor Group and UK Fuels, social housing projects with the National Federation of ALMOs and Kier as well as Ainsty Inns and the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations.

 

Why should I enter industry awards?

Now, in the past we have come up for some scepticism when it comes to entering awards – phrases like ‘but surely the more you enter, the more you win’ and comments about the ethics of charging nominees to enter their submissions do get thrown around and there is always that question afterwards about ‘well what did they do that we don’t?’.

However awards are a great way of sharing the success of your business and motivating the teams involved. There is nothing better than a campaign you have worked hard on being recognised and cheered by a room of your peers. They are also a great way of adding credibility to your work and demonstrating how innovative or dedicated you are, how your company is a great place to work or why customers and clients should want to work with your team.

Top tips for award winning submissions

Having written award entries for the agency and for clients gives us a certain understanding of what makes a good submission but we have also been involved on the other side. Earlier this year I joined the judging panel for the CIPR PRide Awards through my role on the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire regional committee while our managing director Louise Vaughan judged the content marketing category at the PRCA national awards in the summer.

Our team has also helped with organising awards programmes, devising categories and booking hosts as well as promoting the winners and nominees through good old fashioned media relations. Some examples are the Fishing News Awards on behalf of client Kelsey Media, the Leeds Community Stars Awards for Leeds based social housing organisations and the annual awards programme for long-time client the National Federation of ALMOs for which we generated more than £300,000 in corporate sponsorship securing and delivering the programme at zero cost to the client.

 

Based on this combined experience as an awarganiser (for a definition read my blog from 2013), a judge and an award winner, here are my top five tips for writing killer award entries:

  1. Statistics are your friends – it’s all very well stating that ‘our staff and customers are happier than ever’ but you can see how a statement such as ‘customer satisfaction has risen by 95%’ or ‘we have a 100% staff retention rate’ give a much clearer and tangible outcome for a campaign
  1. Evidence – think of it like a murder trial, you have to demonstrate evidence to back up what you are claiming. Whether it’s statistics, client testimonials, case studies or profit calculations make sure that you back up what you are saying with some specific evidence
  1. Supporting material – choose wisely when it comes to submitting extra information to support your entry. My view is less is more. For the time poor judge who has more than 50 entries to read, your 1,000 slide presentation about every nuance of your project is not going to be too helpful – remember award programmes often have a word limit on submissions for a reason. I would say limit supporting evidence to no more than four pages and include plenty of images to bring to life what is described in your entry
  1. Read the question! I know this is a clique from GCSE history exams but if you don’t answer the questions and criteria set out by the category, the judges won’t be able to give you high scores, no matter how great the project sounds
  1. Keep it simple – while you have been living and breathing the project or business you are submitting, judges will likely approaching the topic with no previous experience – spell out acronyms and avoid jargon to avoid losing the judges’ attention.

Good luck and keep your fingers crossed for us for Berlin!

 

Keeping a weather eye on the issue of ‘sea blindness’

Charley Oakes - Senior Copywriter and Editorial Project Manager

Charley Oakes – Senior Copywriter and Editorial Project Manager

If only we could bottle the passion of the UK’s leading maritime charities; we could cure a lot of the world’s ills. I would begin with ‘sea blindness’, a topic covered at Seafarers UK’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in June, one of two major maritime charity events I have been privileged to attend in recent weeks, the other being The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society’s AGM in May.

‘Sea blindness’, an issue also touched upon by my colleague Ellie St George-Yorke in her recent article on the Boaty McBoatface debate, refers to ignorance of our island nation’s continuing dependence on the sea for food, commerce and security, and the vital role our seafarers play in all our lives, whether they work in the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Merchant Navy or fishing fleets.

Fisherman

Source: Seafarers UK archive

Today there are organisations and charities doing tireless work to support former seafarers and their dependants, and to promote education, training and careers to attract the best talent and ensure our seafaring community continues to thrive now and in the future.

Seafarers UK, for example, is focusing its fundraising appeal for its centenary year of 2017 on ‘Supporting Seafarers: Past, Present and Future’, with three key campaigns. The Royal Alfred, meanwhile, provides tailor-made care and support to former seafarers and their dependants at its residential home in Surrey. This charity is now in its 151st year, which reflects the enduring need for its services. Indeed, an ageing population means the number of former Merchant Navy seafarers and fishermen over the age of 85 is expected to increase by more than 275% between now and 2030!

Royal Alfred resident

Royal Alfred resident

Awareness of the role of the seafarer and the sea continues to improve but there is always work to be done. The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society runs a campaign every year that does a fantastic job of celebrating our country’s connection with the sea – its annual photography competition invites people to send in their ‘ultimate sea view’, whether images of ships, harbours, ports, wrecks, seafarers or seascapes.

 

‘Wrecked’ by David Jenner, winning image in the ‘Ships and Wrecks’ category of the 2015 Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society photography competition)

‘Wrecked’ by David Jenner, winning image in the ‘Ships and Wrecks’ category of the 2015 Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society photography competition)

 

After working with maritime charities as part of my role at Acceleris for many years, I share their passion for the work they do. I took the following message away with me from both AGMs – we must never lose sight of the nation’s dependence on or our responsibility to the maritime community.

Sea blindness is certainly not an issue at Acceleris, which has a specialist maritime communications team working with a diverse range of clients within the sector. To find out more, please visit the Acceleris website.

 

The key to cereal success?

Katie Wadsworth - Copywriter / Account Executive, Acceleris

Katie Wadsworth – Copywriter / Account Executive

On Monday 4th July, cereal giant Kellogg’s opened its first ever restaurant in New York’s Times Square. While it may seem a little strange to open a café dedicated to cereal, Kellogg’s is not the first, with similar outfits including the Cereal Killer Café in Camden and Brick Lane, London. Both businesses are capitalising on the experience economy which has evolved from the modern consumer’s desire to interact with brands and experience something which is, ultimately, Instagram worthy.

Kellogg’s is not the first brand to tap into the experience economy; other companies include Magnum which has created a series of ‘pleasure stores’ where customers can craft their perfect Magnum from a variety of indulgent toppings, and Italian fashion house Armani, which has its own luxury hotels in Milan and Dubai.

Magnum London

Source: Magnum

The move by the cereal giant to open a café comes as it was recently revealed that in the past 15 years, cereal sales have fallen by almost 30 per cent*. Cereal companies are often vilified for producing products containing too much sugar, fat and salt, and now they are struggling to impress a cynical, health-conscious audience.

Once considered the only breakfast option, and a fast one at that, cereal is no longer quick enough to keep up with our busy lives, with consumers favouring breakfast bars or yoghurt which they can transport more easily. Almost 40 per cent of millennials surveyed by Mintel* also said cereal was an inconvenient breakfast choice because they had to clean up after eating it!

Kellogg’s has engaged top American chef, Christina Tosi, to devise new recipes from the home favourite cereals, including creations such as ‘Pistachio & Lemon’ (spiked Frosted Flakes and Special K) and ‘The Circus’ (Raisin Bran, peanuts and banana chips). Andrew Shripka, associate director of brand marketing at Kellogg’s, said: “We could have put a great recipe on the box. But this is much more powerful.”

‘Milk-based creations’ on display at Kellogg’s New York. Photograph: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

‘Milk-based creations’ on display at Kellogg’s New York. Photograph: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

It appears the company didn’t want to just stage a PR stunt – although the opening has been covered by everyone from Reuters, to The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian – instead they are trying to encourage consumers to experiment and look at cereal as a dining event rather than a mundane experience. Each customer also gets a free toy, which goes some way to recapturing the joy of childhood!

Tapping into the experience economy is a good way for companies to engage with their consumers, and while it may initially be the novelty factor which will draw people in to the café, the space will serve an important function for Kellogg’s in the long term. Other brands that have set up cafés, for example Chobani – an American yoghurt brand which opened a café in New York in 2012 – has seen its café double in size since opening, with sales growing annually by 40 per cent.

Chobani’s New York café has also served as a place for the company to try out new items and a number of new product lines, including a range of mezze dips, have been created following customer feedback and trials.

So while the venture may seem a little surreal at first mention, the Kellogg’s Times Square café could breathe new life into the brand and perhaps even become a cereal success!

Acceleris is no stranger to launching brands and has helped many companies – from local confectioners to large third sector organisations – build and maintain their reputations, both in the UK and worldwide. For more information on our credentials, take a look at our website.

*Mintel report, 2015

Could you benefit from snapping up the latest trend in content marketing?

In a world where we’re exposed to up to 5,000 marketing messages a day, no longer is it enough to be in the right place at the right time. Instead, a content-led approach which delivers interesting and valuable information, is crucial to cutting through the digital noise and truly engaging audiences.

Brands are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a platform on which to share content. A recent trend in content sharing is to do so using Snapchat. Snapchat is a mobile messaging app that enables its users to share photos, videos and text, all of which last for only a brief amount of time before disappearing forever. It has an estimated 100 million daily active users globally, receives approximately eight billion video views per day, and is the third most-popular social media network today.

Yes, these figures are impressive, and perhaps I’ve just opened your eyes to a pool of potential consumers you knew nothing about but don’t worry, you won’t be the only one. The most important thing to know about Snapchat is that, it’s where you’ll find two of today’s largest target markets; millennials and Gen Z. With 71% of Snapchat users being under the age of 34, it’s an ideal platform to engage a younger demographic of consumers.

This blog details the fundamental elements of effective content marketing as identified by us here at Acceleris, and considers Snapchat’s ability to capitalise on these by looking at examples of its use by a couple of British brands.

Timing

Timing, pro-active and re-active, can significantly impact the effectiveness of content marketing. There is a great amount of added value to content campaigns that are timed to perfection. Snapchat enables both planned and real-time marketing with which audiences can engage and interact.

Cadbury for example, used the mobile app to promote its ever-favourite Cadbury’s Creme Egg during Easter. The company is the first confectionery brand to use Snapchat’s Sponsored Lenses function, which allowed users to decorate their snaps with a specially-designed overlay as part of its award-winning ‘Have a fling with a Creme Egg’ campaign.

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Source: Cadbury’s Creme Egg

 

The seasonality of the Snapchat lens gave the campaign immediate context and relevancy. It received an overwhelming reaction and saw great levels of interaction receiving over 11 million views from Snapchat users, including famous blogger and YouTube star Zoella, who shared pictures of herself enjoying the Cadbury filter to her millions of followers.

Exclusivity

We live in an age of excessive personal sharing; sharing of information, experiences, opinions and purchases. This is what’s known throughout marketing as social currency. Social currency is a concept built around the idea that individuals share information that benefits them to do so. Social psychologists identify the main driver of sharing information as a need to feel a sense of personal value. Put simply – we like to show off! Brands are becoming increasingly aware of the value of playing on social currency to promote themselves.

Snapchat as a mobile app excels in utilising FOMO – that’s ‘fear of missing out’ by the way – and making user’s feel like they are part of an inner circle. The ‘Burberry Snapchat Show’ is the perfect example of the use of Snapchat as harnessing the power of FOMO.

 

Social-Currency-White2

Source: Mike Phillips – Eat, Sleep, Social

The luxury fashion house used Snapchat to stream a first look at its spring/summer 2016 collection the day before it hit the runway at London Fashion Week in October last year. The images were only viewable for a period of 24 hours before disappearing forever, creating a sense of urgency among fashionistas who clambered to Snapchat to authentically experience the fashion-first.

The brand’s chief financial officer Carol Fairweather previously revealed that its use of Snapchat to promote a show was the best the brand had had in terms of digital engagement producing approximately 100m impressions.

 

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Source: Burberry’s Snapchat Show

 

At Acceleris we understand the value of content and work with all of our clients to produce and place content that will penetrate target audiences which are increasingly harder to reach. Our six-stage content marketing process is grounded in brand and consumer insight and is proven to increase brand awareness, foster brand advocates and reach new consumers and audiences.

Check out our online content marketing presentation that explains our process and the expertise that goes into its delivery: https://prezi.com/content-marketing/

By Mollie Robinson, a third year PR and Communications student from Leeds Beckett University, who joined Acceleris for a work placement in April 2016.