A certain smirk adorns the faces of the PR team when we know we’ve nailed a gif. It’s exclusive to this occasion – unmistakable and closely followed by the words “wait for it”. For visualising purpose, it’s similar to the ‘I’ve emailed you a meme’ smirk, only with more linger. I know you know.
In communications we seek memorable engagement with our clients’ audiences. Video has long been hailed the future of marketing, because by its very nature we are likely to spend longer ‘absorbing’ it than we are with words or pictures. Gifs are video champions of our generation – short, succinct and widely appealing, they offer quick-fire fun in a fast-filling feed. When Twitter introduced a free bank of gifs, we rejoiced. When they ceased hogging character count, we fist pumped. Now, to top it all off, WhatsApp has jumped on the bandwagon and it’s a bloomin’ revelation.
Like all societal trends, brands are likely to increasingly jump on gifs and memes as a revenue and brand awareness stream. Whoever developed the gif function in WhatsApp must have been a Friends fan, because there’s Chandler-a-plenty. Every time I choose him, to some extent I’m re-igniting the Friends fire within myself and the gif recipient (and most recently Elf has naturally been the common theme). As we did when adverts started to appear on our Instagram feeds, we’re likely to feel a bit put out to start with, but I’m sure we’ll become accustomed and the more creative brands are, the more we’ll want to be in on the joke.
Gifs are the gifts that keep on giving. When you’ve picked the right one, it‘ll tickle you every time (see our #CowAppreciationDay Twitter post on 8th July.) We could do with a chuckle this week so go on – show us what you’re made of and give us a gif @WeAreBoutiqueUK.
That’s all from me,
You made it! The weekend is in sight. I’ve had the social reins this week so here’s a roundup, including PR highlights, the odd knowledge bomb and anything else that cropped up…
A week in the media
It’s hard not to consume a ton of media when you work in an agency. In fact, it’s pretty vital to the role, whichever remit you fall under. We get newspapers delivered on a rota and this week, it was The i Paper. So here are a few stories that stood out to me as I read it each morning with coffee #1 of the day…
Monday 8th – “Humans have used up a full year’s worth of ecological resources in just over seven months, its fastest rate ever, according to an annual environmental report – Global Footprint Network. “Earth overshoot day” marks the date on which humanity’s demand on the planet’s natural resources exceeds what it can regenerate in a year.”
Tuesday 9th – “Cash-strapped working families in England are so “stretched to breaking point” that one in three could not afford to pay their rent or mortgage for more than a month if they lost their job, while 23% would be unable to pay any housing costs” – Shelter and YouGov study.
“Technology will transform the workplace in the next decade, with new jobs including a human body designer and space tour guides. Only a third of university students believe their chosen career will exist in 10 years’ time” – report by Microsoft and The Future Laboratory.
Wednesday 10th – “The self-drive feature on Tesla’s latest vehicles appears to have saved a driver’s life after he suffered a dangerous blood clot in his lungs while driving. Instead of calling an ambulance, the driver put his car into autopilot mode and pointed it towards the nearest hospital.”
“An analysis by Facebook of more than 160,000 people’s profiles found that 30 per cent of those who posted pictures of their cats were single, compared with 24 per cent of those who shared dog photos. On average, dog owners had 26 more Facebook friends than cat people, who were found to complain disproportionately of “tiredness”. Dog owners wrote 25 per cent more “excited” posts.”
“More than a third of graduate “millennials” regret having gone to university because of the resulting debt and are struggling to prosper in an economy that leaves them with an average disposable income of less than £160” – study by Aviva.
Friday 12th – “Patients left paralysed by severe spinal cord injuries have recovered the ability to move their legs after training with an exoskeleton linked to their brain, with one even able to walk using two crutches – Walk Again Project, Brazil, developed by Duke University Centre for Neuroengineering in the US.”
A few Twitter favs
I was pretty bowled over by Taylors of Harrogate’s ‘Luxury Bee Hotel’ – signifying the importance of bees in the production of their fruit tea collection. Check out the video and you might just be inclined to help a bee out: bees.taylorstea.co.uk (there’s also a tiny wall-hung photo of Queen Bey because, why not?).
As any PR will tell you, timing is everything and we all love a good nominated ‘day’ or ‘week’. Here’s a few from this week (which is in fact Afternoon Tea Week…)
Friday: #UberIceCream – We were among the lucky few to get free POPS from Uber!
Also, Tefal’s pop up toast gallery. What more could you want? Feast your eyes on these beauties here, or watch the video:
Additional thought – it’s worth noting how great the hashtag #journorequests is on Twitter when it comes to additional PR opportunities, or newsjacking. With one tab in my browser always saved for Tweetdeck I know I’ll be able to respond to any relevant requests that come through – it gets pretty addictive!
Because it’s awesome when clients are doing amazing things…
And to top it off, tomorrow is officially ‘Left Handers day’ – what a week to be alive!
Enjoy your weekend! SB over and out.
Seasonal hooks are an age old method of making your brand timely and providing a raison d’être to media influencers you might otherwise be of no use to. Depending on the skill and creativity of your PR team, the association between brand and seasonal celebrations/events can be highly relevant or remarkably tenuous. Every so often, a brand accomplishes a delightful marriage of the two. Cue Nissan.
As every self-respecting PR professional will know, 3rd June 2016 was National Donut Day (or Doughnut to us). Naturally, Krispy Kreme was all over it like a sugar-coated rash – it’s actually highly likely they created the day to begin with (good one guys). Not so naturally, the team at Nissan decided to do a doughnut, with doughnuts, to promote their 370Z NISMO.
Tenuous, yes, but a sweet tooth alone will help this slow-mo scenario tickle your fancy. Enjoy!
Twitter is the ‘big dog’ within the constantly evolving social media world, and these days you can search for almost any celeb or business and find their Twitter account. Whether it be breaking news, opinions on a TV show or social competitions, Twitter is the first point of call for many consumers- so it’s incredibly important for brands to stay active and ‘ahead of the game’.
In saying that, tweets about ‘niche’ products or services will, understandably, require more thought and ‘thinking-outside-of-the-box’. No one likes sales tweet, after sales tweet, after sale – you get where I’m going with this.
So I’ve decided to compile a list of brands that, I think, are killing it on Twitter.
Who said toilet roll was boring? With a following of 67k and engagement on every tweet, Charmin take toilet roll to another level.
The likes of leeks, sausages and other groceries could prove difficult to tweet about- but Tesco goes about this problem perfectly.
Who said aeroplanes don’t have a sense of humour?
This American sandwich chain knows how to throw humour into their posts while also spreading brand and product awareness.
1) Taco Bell
And finally, my winner. With 1.57m followers you know these guys are doing something right. Oh and their followers have become so loyal over the years, a three word tweet can rake up 4.3k favourites. The screenshots say it all…
At Boutique we strongly believe a little humour gets you a long way. Where it’s possible to instil this into social, it goes along way to people engaging with your brand. The above examples all portray how important social engagement is to a business, whether it be loo roll or tacos!
If you want media advice, we’ve an office full of comms champions bursting with ideas. Drop in for a cuppa and we’ll happily share our thoughts!
I’ve been prompted to reminisce about my childhood by a visit to an old school friend’s house where I was greeted by a plethora of Lego characters. It just so happens this also provoked my penchant for brand longevity.
I’m a 90s child. My childhood was about Furbys, Polly Pockets, Tamagotchis… and Lego. The overriding attribute that differentiates the latter from the others is that it isn’t a 90s product – it began manufacturing toy bricks in 1949.
Now 25, I’m playing (Lego’s) Duplo with my cousin’s two and four year old children, seeing them getting as much enjoyment out of it as I did when I was their age. It’s simple, innocent, timeless fun and, probably more importantly for modern parents, it doesn’t involve screens.
Nobody can have missed the regeneration that Lego has enjoyed in the last couple of years. Imaginative displays (even the world’s largest Lego advent calendar right here in Trinity Leeds in 2013) have been popping up left, right and centre, and its first ever movie was a 2014 box office hit. Ultimately, last year it overtook Barbie doll-maker Mattel to become the world’s best-selling toy firm.
So what’s their secret? Exceptional marketing and PR, of course, combined with a number of clever decisions that have ensured Lego’s presence on today’s shop shelves and Christmas wish lists. As a company they’ve weathered a few storms, but timely amends to the company’s offering like securing key licenses (including Star Wars and Harry Potter – two of the biggest franchises of our generation) have built them back up.
It takes something special to ensure a childhood toy doesn’t as good as die out with its initial generation (as was the case with the other 90s toys). Although there are more intricate, larger designs available these days, they’ve maintained brand values and are recognisable for the same attributes now as they were two decades ago. There have been no drastic product revamps – at its core, it remains a simple brick-based product with endless options requiring nothing but imagination and coordination.
Lego is a great example of the ability to adopt a strong brand and stick to it. Yes we must adapt to the times, but it would have been easy to presume that they would become reliant on apps to succeed. They’ve also broadened their audience by developing products that appeal to an older generation with the introduction of the larger, more complex designs.
I look forward to seeing what the team at Lego have up their sleeves for the next few years!
p.s. whether you were a Lego fan as a child or not, I’m sure you’ll love this video of Nathan Sawaya creating a simple but mind blowing character out of Lego as part of his recent (incredible) exhibition, The Art of the Brick. www.artofthebrick.co.uk
Ah, talking. Something we used to do before emails, texts, tweets and Facebook messages.
Blimey, how technology has transformed our lives for the better and created so many platforms for personal and business growth, but it hasn’t come without its social drawbacks. The changes are all too apparent on my morning commute when at least 95% of my fellow commuters are glued to their phones, half of which I’m pretty sure are pretending to be busy to avoid eye contact with anybody else.
Throughout my childhood, my (absolutely heroic) grandfather told me so many more nostalgic stories than I could possibly store in my naïve mind, but there’s one particular tale that stuck with me as it relates, on some level, to my industry. Grandpa told me how he used to attend sports games with his father who was a sports journalist in Bradford. Far from today’s instant, mass produced system, Great Grandpa handed his commentary to Grandpa who hopped on a tram across the city to hand deliver the report to the newspaper office. This would then be typed up (via typewriter, of course) for the local paper.
Among other stories I remember are those of early days of his relationship with Grandma – the letters of which were somewhat more romantic than today’s texts, dating sites and apps. So, where are we now? What do these changes mean in reality, and what even is reality anymore?
So many modern families no longer sit down to eat their evening meal together round a table; they eat in front of the television. No conversation.
Many of those who would have once visited the theatre, or attended concerts, probably now watch TV on their mobiles or tablets or watch YouTube videos of their favourite artists.
In business, many of those who would have regularly attended face to face meetings now rely on Skype sessions and conference calls. Furthermore, most phone calls have now been replaced by a reliance on email.
As I type, I am aware that I sound like my mother when I was a teenager texting my friends instead of talking to her (N.B. on my super cool Motorola Razr). I’m 25; I am the ‘tech’ generation and by no means am I saying I haven’t embraced it. I’m as reliant on the internet as anybody else and my job seems beyond impossible if we lose connection in the office. I also acknowledge that the incredible technologies have enabled international business and clearly we can’t travel the length and breadth of the country and world every time we need to speak to a client!
However, as much we embrace the unbelievable advances made in technology (arriving thick and fast), it’s important to maintain a level of humanity in all areas of our life. Take clients out for a drink or meal – engage with them not only by social media, but also in person. Sit around a table with your family and leave your phones in the lounge. Give children colouring books, not your mobile (it’s alarming how many children I’ve seen who can’t speak but who are very skilled on iPhones!)
One of the things about Boutique that appealed to me was its emphasis on people. We are actively encouraged to meet and chat with clients, media owners and journalists. There is a genuine desire to build lasting relationships and, as cliché as it sounds, make business personal.
There’s no replacing real life. That’s engaging.
As somebody from a PR agency background, I’m all too aware of the abundance of articles claiming ‘traditional PR is dead’. Unsurprisingly, I disagree.
One of my favourite definitions of PR is by American writer, Alan Harrington, who said, “Public relations specialists make flower arrangements of the facts, placing them so that the wilted and less attractive petals are hidden by sturdy blooms”. Since a common misconception is that PR professionals are simply fluffy and wordy, I like to more precisely define it as proactively and reactively managing public perceptions of an entity – be that a product, service, person or organisation.
Why then, if my background is PR and I’m a supporter of its purpose and benefits, have I joined an integrated media agency?
Whilst I owe an awful lot to the PR agencies which have nurtured me since graduation, I have found my frustration lies in a lack of awareness, or perhaps willingness to think, of the bigger picture. No business strategy or business model is created with one department or viewpoint, so why would we communicate in this manner? We must adapt to our environment.
In a post-recession business world with tight company budgets, we’re all in a fight to receive the biggest fee allocation, so agencies dumb down the abilities of others and over-egg their own pudding. This is the most frustrating thing of all. For any comms ‘provider’ to claim theirs is the crucial form of media is a clear disregard for the communications matrix – we should be working together across the paid-owned-earned media spectrum… which exists for a reason. The world is full of different ‘audiences’, but within these are oodles of individuals. Traditional news outlets have spent years cultivating readers, listeners and viewers to become masters of target audiences, while social media has provided the ability to ‘get to know’ these individuals and to interact on a much more personal level – insights we can use now and in future.
PR stands for ‘public relations’, but it has also been styled as ‘people and relationships’; it’s about building and nurturing relationships, both with the public and the press. It’s not enough for digital folk to wax lyrical with keywords, because these pieces of content often don’t produce the most appealing pieces of reading for the audience. It’s also not enough to pay for advertising space in well-populated areas, because these days we are inundated with clever commercial messages throughout our daily routine. Indeed, the future is integration, which is why Boutique has brought me on to head up a new earned media strand of the company’s offering.
In the coming years, I think there will be a noticeable reduction in the amount of standalone agencies. Like Boutique has, agencies will offer a full paid-owned-earned service so that clients are providing one brief to one team, resulting in a fully integrated, streamlined media plan tailored to business objectives and target audiences. No longer will companies have to liaise with different agencies for everything (which can be time-consuming, confusing and an inefficient use of resource) – they will have one team of specialists on hand to liaise with throughout.
It’s not about PR being dead, social media being a fad, media buying being a battle of egos, or about any other media misnomer; it’s about the evolution of PR and other mediums. It’s about appreciating that underneath all the bravado, pomp and ceremony now expected from new business pitches, we’re all here to reach out to people in the most suitable communicative method. Customers are, or should be, at the heart of every business decision, and the best way to achieve this is with a customised, collaborative approach.