Personalisation: It’s not for everyone

By Sophie Hodgson At last week’s Future of Women in Technology event, one of the questions put to the panel was around upcoming trends. The responses varied from digitalisation of the consumer experience, to visibility and the role of consumers in […]


02 Mar
by Aspectus PR

personalisation-digital-marketingBy Sophie Hodgson

At last week’s Future of Women in Technology event, one of the questions put to the panel was around upcoming trends. The responses varied from digitalisation of the consumer experience, to visibility and the role of consumers in guiding corporate developments.

However, what struck me most was a point made by Rebecca Salsbury – of the BBC – about personalisation. This trend is reengineering how businesses communicate and operate across multiple sectors in the belief that personalisation is considered to be a ‘good thing’. In exchange for all the data we provide to companies, we want a more convenient, tailored and responsive online experience. That makes perfect sense for those industries geared around e-commerce, but what does that mean for an organisation – no, institution – such as the BBC?

At the moment, as Salsbury put it, the BBC engages us with content that it thinks we should care about. But personalisation opens up a new challenge and goes against the editorially selected experience of a company whose principles are to inform, educate and entertain. What happens if people start curating their own content? How do you ensure consistency of experience? How at odds are consumer wants – in the era of personalisation – with the overall goal of the BBC?

I should say that these questions are all my own musings as opposed to Salsbury’s. But her point struck a definite chord. Working with many adtech companies both recently and over the years, the move towards individualism and creating a much more context-aware experience has been a significant driver for growth. It has sparked whole new ecosystems and approaches to digital marketing.

The drive towards personalisation comes from a desire to engage, drive brand loyalty and increase sales. But if your commercial model doesn’t work that way, as personalisation changes consumer’s expectations, how do you respond to that in order to remain relevant?

Glad I’m not the one charged with answering that question.


Instagram: A guide to #InstaPR

Did you know there are currently 300 million active users on Instagram sharing more than 70 million photos and videos every day? It’s true. Instagram boasts 15 times more engagement than Facebook, Twitter or Google+, and the average user spends almost […]


27 Feb
by Aspectus PR

instagramDid you know there are currently 300 million active users on Instagram sharing more than 70 million photos and videos every day? It’s true. Instagram boasts 15 times more engagement than Facebook, Twitter or Google+, and the average user spends almost 260 minutes per month on its app. These statistics alone should open people’s eyes to the true marketing power of Instagram.

Instagram first launched in 2010 as a fun and unique way for users to share pictures in real time. The ability to share videos and use hashtags was incorporated later, as the network grew. While many people use Instagram to share pictures of their cat or show their misspelled name on a latte cup, companies now recognize Instagram’s potential and realize that it could be just as powerful as Facebook or Twitter.

B2B companies are still hesitant to join photo/video-sharing networks (such as Instagram and Pinterest) because they don’t think their messages are shareable in a visual way. Social media provides our clients with an opportunity to reach (and engage with) their target audience, and expose them to a wider audience they didn’t know they could reach.

One particular B2B company that’s using Instagram in an interesting way is FedEx. By sharing striking images of its employees delivering packages all over the world, it has built up 13.7k followers and one of the best engagement rates for a B2B company on Instagram.

With this in mind, here are our top three reasons why B2B companies should join Instagram, as well as some quick tips on how to get started:

  • It’s easy to share content on other social networks. Like other social media sites, Instagram gives users options to alert other platforms about account activity. Companies can use Instagram to promote pictures from other social media networks to increase brand visibility, although don’t forget to link back to your company website!
  • Hashtags are powerful. To increase the visibility of your post, add hashtags related to your key messages – this can help build your audience. A popular Instagram hashtag is #TBT (Throwback Thursday) where users post old pictures. B2B companies can attach this hashtag to pictures of past employees, past company conferences or speaking engagements.
  • It shows creativity and helps to position clients as industry leaders. The options are endless: you can show off a new office building or showcase what goes on inside your company. Flaunt your products or services in use to encourage your audience connect with them. Find out what works best for you! Developing a B2B Instagram presence can help companies stand out from their competitors, especially if others aren’t using it yet.

Instagram allows our B2B clients to connect with their audience in a way that isn’t possible on other social media networks. As communications agencies move towards creating more visual content, now is the time to create your account.


The future of women in tech: No bra burning here

By Sophie Hodgson “If anyone burns a bra, I’m leaving,” were my flippant last words to the team as I left for last night’s Future of Women in Tech event. You see, I’m not meaning to diminish the achievements of […]


25 Feb
by Aspectus PR

Women-in-techBy Sophie Hodgson

“If anyone burns a bra, I’m leaving,” were my flippant last words to the team as I left for last night’s Future of Women in Tech event.

You see, I’m not meaning to diminish the achievements of women that work in tech, far from it. It’s just that generally I’m not a massive fan of ‘women’ events. I feel that they marginalise women still further. But to my surprise and delight, whilst the audience was largely female there were also a number of men. This lifted my spirits, almost as much as the snacks on offer.

The panel – made up of Jeanine Long, Business Program Director, Thomson Reuters; Rebecca Salsbury, Head of Online Production Systems (Future Media Platform), BBC; Irina Voinea, Software Engineer, Facebook and Nazia Tingay, Senior Technical Project Manager, Barclays – talked less about the challenges they face as women and more about their careers, what inspired them and their tips for young women just starting out in IT.

Of course, there were conversations about the issues women face, but they were framed in a much more positive light and as a force for change. Especially Tingay, who was quietly confident but demonstrated absolute resilience in an example she gave about how male colleagues wouldn’t engage with her when she was tasked with measuring their service levels. So she decided if they wouldn’t come to her, she would go to them and stuck a ruddy big whiteboard in a very public place with a performance top ten. All of a sudden, the male colleagues who had ignored her were flocking to chat with her. Needless to say, one of her top tips for the audience was resilience.

Salsbury, in particular, was articulate and engaging, saying that there was ‘room for everyone in tech’. She also implored the audience to instead of saying no, say maybe, because you never know what opportunities will open up as a result. No, she said, is an easy way out.

This theme of challenging yourself was also picked up by the other panellists, one of whom had gone to Toastmasters in order to perfect her public speaking. When asked for their top tips, collectively they advised:

  • Be resilient
  • Be kind to each other
  • Compete with yourself – not others – because you will bring other skills to the table
  • What is important to you should come out in your work
  • Stick with the people that matter, but don’t be afraid to make changes

What struck me about the panel wasn’t that they were women, but that they were all hugely passionate and successful about what they do. I found them inspiring not because of their gender, but because of what they said and did. They know what they want and aren’t afraid to go out and get it.


Aspectus PR is recruiting!

Aspectus is an award-winning consultancy focused on engagement. We transform the way businesses engage with their markets/prospects/community. Employing a powerful, fully-integrated approach that combines content, media and search with creativity and deep market knowledge, we have turned communications into a […]


23 Feb
by Aspectus PR

Aspectus PR - PR logoAspectus is an award-winning consultancy focused on engagement. We transform the way businesses engage with their markets/prospects/community. Employing a powerful, fully-integrated approach that combines content, media and search with creativity and deep market knowledge, we have turned communications into a corporate differentiator.

Specialising in financial services, energy, technology and engineering, we have offices in London, New York and Singapore, with ambitious plans for further global expansion. We have grown considerably in recent years and can offer all the benefits of a full-service consultancy with the cultural feel of a boutique agency.

We are looking for fresh-thinking, talented individuals at all levels to join our practice in London.

At Aspectus we do things a little differently to the norm. We know that in today’s world delivering a cracking communications campaign typically requires a whole range of different people, with different skills. Whereas other agencies expect their staff to be generalists – and will have a certain type of candidate in mind – we run a more diverse shop.

Maybe you’re an ideas person, with a flair for writing or creative visual content. Maybe you’re a people person, a tenacious pitcher able to forge strong media relationships. Maybe you’re a confident project manager, with an eye for detail. Or maybe you’re a jack of all trades! We believe that playing to peoples’ strengths and interests makes for better results, and a better working environment. So wherever your skills lie, we’re confident we can tailor a role to you, and offer real opportunity – and variety – when it comes to career development.

An excellent package will be offered to the successful candidate.

Email amy.redhead@aspectuspr.com with your CV to apply.


What I’ve learnt during my internship at Aspectus

By Anna de Grave You are accomplished, with a degree, but you’re a beginner in the world of business. What happens next? An opportunity arises and you land the perfect internship, but you’re unsure of what to expect. Internships receive mixed […]


18 Feb
by Aspectus PR

By Anna de Gravepr-internship-work-experience-aspectus

You are accomplished, with a degree, but you’re a beginner in the world of business. What happens next? An opportunity arises and you land the perfect internship, but you’re unsure of what to expect. Internships receive mixed reviews, but don’t worry; not everyone ends up as an experienced photocopier.

Here are five things you’ll love about an internship at Aspectus PR:

1. Friendly people
Like most people on their first day as an intern, I felt a little nervous. However, when I opened the door at Aspectus, I was welcomed by friendly faces that were keen to come and get me involved. The nerves quickly subsided and I soon felt at ease.

2. Great teamwork
Aspectus is full of talented individuals who support each other, get the best results and have fun along the way. Despite long to-do lists, everyone will take the time to explain tasks, respond to questions (silly ones included) and make sure you feel comfortable. You really feel part of a team at Aspectus.

Thanks to the people, the atmosphere in the office is the perfect juxtaposition of fast-paced and relaxed, making it the ideal environment to be creative, efficient and upbeat.

3. Variety
Are internships tedious? From my experience, this is a definite myth. Each day I enjoy a range of tasks where I can learn and practice a variety of different skills including: writing, researching, pitching, using social media platforms, improving software skills, brainstorming and producing innovative ideas.

Given the scope of knowledge to be learnt, I am always being asked if I would like to try something else. People care about the tasks they give you, matching them to your strengths and what you enjoy. This is ideal for young graduates trying to discover the answers themselves.

4. A vertical learning curve
As you can probably tell, you will learn a lot here. Not only have I developed general PR skills, but in working with the energy team, I have gained more specialised knowledge and a keener interest in smart grids and cities, carbon capture, hybrid energy and renewables.

I have picked up a whole new language. Terms like coverage, press release, bounce-backs, press lists, forward features, and many more are now a vital part of my everyday vocabulary.

I’ve had the opportunity to get involved in the Aspectus Academy, lead by PR professionals. I’ve listened to advice from a design guru and got a feel for how a successful business runs. It’s a great opportunity to learn from the best at Aspectus.

5. Perks
Interning at Aspectus has many perks; one being the selection of edible treats including homemade fudge, chocolate, popcorn and pretzels. However, the office runs at a fast pace and creative people need food for thought, so be quick or there’ll be none left!


A positive step into my PR career

By Arantxa Sanchez People say chasing your dreams is not easy. Personally, my dream of living and working in New York City seemed farfetched. Nonetheless, I took a risk moving to the city, brimming with ambition. Fortunately, my internship at […]


11 Feb
by Aspectus PR

By Arantxa SanchezAspectus PR - PR logo

People say chasing your dreams is not easy. Personally, my dream of living and working in New York City seemed farfetched. Nonetheless, I took a risk moving to the city, brimming with ambition. Fortunately, my internship at Aspectus PR has turned that ambition into the start of a great career.

In the beginning, it was difficult to grasp the reality of interning in NYC and learning to fall into a daily routine, especially when it’s considered ‘the Capital of the World’. This would be my fourth internship. I felt prepared and accepted the responsibilities and tasks that came with the job. The difference being that, unlike any of my past internships, I finally attained a real hands-on experience in the public relations field.

I have garnered valuable insights from my colleagues about the PR industry. I continue to develop and broaden my communication skills through my daily contributions; from creating press lists to pitching to reporters. I have become increasingly familiar with Aspectus’ specialties in financial services and technology and the variety of ways in which we can help our clients grow.

Each day, I communicate using a variety of mediums, by drafting social media content, contacting publications and sharing information found from research. These tasks – no matter how big or small – make a real difference in keeping our clients satisfied with the work that we do.

I am looking forward to what’s next to come as I dig my hands into the business aspects of PR. I will continue to demonstrate my willingness to learn and grow professionally, as well as delivering valuable work to the team. I am keen to keep building strong relationships with clients and reporters, and to contribute towards business development.

Every day is a new learning experience, thanks to my coworkers. My colleagues continue to provide me with valuable insights that will serve me well in my PR career. There are four particular words that help to describe my feelings of the past four months: ‘I love my job!’


The Super Bowl: A game of storytelling

The frenzy surrounding the Super Bowl and its audience of more than 114 million viewers earlier this month reminded me of how intricately interwoven storytelling and advertising have become. At a cost of up to $4.5 million per 30-second ad slot, […]


09 Feb
by Aspectus PR

The frenzy surrounding the Super Bowl and its audience of more than 114 million viewers earlier this month reminded me of how intricately interwoven storytelling and advertising have become. At a cost of up to $4.5 million per 30-second ad slot, the commercials during America’s biggest sporting event are expected to be the best of the practice. But even with such high stakes, companies’ performances span the good, bad, ugly and sad. Below I consider three of the most salient examples that have emerged in the past couple of years that will benefit storytellers and marketers alike.

Hunt the right opportunity
Oreo-Dunk-in-the-DarkA great lesson of storytelling came in 2013, when Oreo crafted a timely tweet during a thirty-four minute power outage at the Super Bowl. In answer to the widespread speculation about how this was accomplished, the brand revealed it had created a 15-member team of decision makers and branding professionals who watched the game together, ready to respond immediately to any opportunities that emerged.

The lesson: Don’t casually look for a storytelling opportunity to come your way – hunt it! Sit there waiting for it like a tiger in the jungle. Find that prey, catch it, and show your storytelling might. The audience will watch in awe, and you will set the standard that all others hope to achieve.

Timing is everything
Totino-Super-BowlIf getting people to talk about your brand is the goal, Totino’s was victorious this year – but for all the wrong reasons. At least 25 of the frozen pizza maker’s “real time” Super Bowl tweets were inadvertently scheduled to go out a day early. Messages like “Did you see that coin toss?! WOW! This game’s already action-packed!” appeared 24 hours before the actual coin toss, which invited backlash and teasing on Twitter that few people could resist. Others concluded the gaffe was so outrageous, it must have been a stunt – which the company later claimed it had been.

The lesson: Details matter when it comes to storytelling. No doubt this will long be remembered by the intern who scheduled the tweets to go out, along with NBC anchor Brian Williams, who recanted his story last week about being aboard a helicopter hit by RPG fire in Iraq. Also, timing is absolutely paramount when releasing stories of any kind. Knowing what is happening in the industry and shaping your story accordingly brings ultimate results.

The double edge of emotion

The most impassioned response to a company’s story was elicited by US insurance provider Nationwide, however. Its ad featured a boy who lists the many iconic life experiences he would never have, only for viewers to learn at the end this was because he was dead. It was John Lewis’ Monty the Penguin campaign meets the Sixth Sense, and audiences were outraged. The company had to issue a statement saying it only intended to “start a conversation” about safety, not ruin game day for millions of people.

The lesson: Thoughtfully consider the context of your audience when using emotion. Puppies romping around with horses is good (classic strategy, Budweiser), but reminding parents of their worst nightmare while they sit at a Super Bowl party only results in disdain for a company perceived as tactless.

Looking ahead after Storytelling Week, it’s good to remember these elements that are so important to presenting stories that transcend time, space and – perhaps even – barriers to your title as master storyteller.


Visual narrative is where it all begins

In the final instalment of our blog series supporting National Storytelling Week, Bill Penn looks at the role of visuals in storytelling. There’s no escaping the fact that in marketing and communications, the visual image is in the ascendancy and long-form copy is being […]


06 Feb
by Aspectus PR

visual-narrative

In the final instalment of our blog series supporting National Storytelling Week,
Bill Penn looks at the role of visuals in storytelling.

There’s no escaping the fact that in marketing and communications, the visual image is in the ascendancy and long-form copy is being eased into a supporting role.

The opportunities for sharing images and video via almost every device you can think of are seemingly endless. As for text, especially clunky old stuff like white papers, long articles and opinion pieces, just how do you share them these days? How do you create the kind of viral buzz or search results that a funny, clever or arresting video or image can achieve globally in a matter of minutes? How can a three-page press release compete with a brilliant infographic?

So when we are trying to tell a story, characterise a brand, change perceptions or get people to buy something or do something (like vote at the coming General Election), why do so many marketing and communications people still think that words come before pictures? All the evidence suggests it should be the other way round.

Inertia rules OK in marketing. Professionals have their tried and tested methods. They have read the books, done the training courses and they know best. That’s why just five per cent of PR budgets were dedicated to visual content in 2014, according to research by PR Newswire.

And yet, we live in a visual world. People want to be told stories and given information visually with a few words in support, not the other way round. If you think of the media, as we do, simply as the communications universe, then images and videos are the twinkling stars and planets that we all see and point out to each other in the night sky.

At Aspectus PR, we believe that there is usually a place for sharp copy and text (which is why we are writing this, after all). But when we have a story to tell, we start with visual stories, an idea for an image, a video or an infographic. Increasingly, this visual narrative is the creative font from which everything else flows.


The never ending story of global communications

In the second of our blog series to support National Storytelling Week, Martin O’Connor looks at the role of culture in communications. Storytelling has been around since God was in short trousers. From the earliest known examples of cave paintings, through the oral […]


04 Feb
by Aspectus PR

In the second of our blog series to support National Storytelling Week, Martin O’Connor looks at the role of culture in communications.

global-pr-communicationsStorytelling has been around since God was in short trousers. From the earliest known examples of cave paintings, through the oral epics of Homer, the Arabian Hakawati, the Shuochang in China, to the Biwa Hoshi of Japan and authors such as JK Rowling today, storytelling continues to play a huge part in the development of our world.

Are there differences today in storytelling around the globe? Yes, of course. Indeed, thousands of books and papers have been written on this subject. Are these differences important? I believe – while there are certain cultural variations and boundaries – the answer is no. As humans, we all share many more common emotional experiences than we sometimes imagine.

Successful businesses engage, motivate and influence their communities by exploiting personal human emotion.

This is never truer than here in Asia.

Let me give you one very simple example. In a previous life working for BT (British Telecom), one of my responsibilities was to present to prospective joint venture partners in Asia as to why BT was the best partner; the region was beginning to open its telecoms markets and the opportunity for growth and innovation in service was huge.

For my presentation at my first meeting, it would not have been inappropriate for me to talk about BT as a leader in liberalisation and privatisation, the massive R&D capability at our disposal or the financial stability of the company. Important? Yes, very. A good kick-off tool for a relationship and engagement? Probably not.

Instead, I talked about school children who could read books and access information anywhere in the world in any language; of doctors who were saving lives through direct links to expertise and experience sitting thousands of miles away; of dads travelling on business, who were able to see and say goodnight to their children; of a grandfather in hospital being able to watch his granddaughter’s graduation ceremony.

In post-meeting ‘socials’, I’m often asked to re-run the stories and share some more.

The above is such a simple example and I believe this is the point. Why look for a complex way?

Culture is complex enough and in all cultures – but particularly in Asia – storytelling for engagement and motivation is the most powerful relationship building tool I know.

So the point? If you are going to do one thing differently for your next Asian meeting or presentation, start with a story. People still find intense personal meaning and emotional engagement in the stories of Homer today – 2,500 years after they were first told. Nothing brings us together more as humans than a really good yarn. And that’s not going to change any time soon.


The art of storytelling and communications

In the first of our blog series to support National Storytelling Week, Sophie Hodgson looks at what communications can learn from storytelling. I love stories. Absolutely love them. Whether they’re the ones my dad wrote for me when I was a little […]


02 Feb
by Aspectus PR

In the first of our blog series to support National Storytelling Week, Sophie Hodgson looks at what communications can learn from storytelling.

national-storytelling-week-pr-communicationsI love stories. Absolutely love them. Whether they’re the ones my dad wrote for me when I was a little kid, the smell of a brand new book, a poem that brings a tear to my eye or an amazing film; I’m a total sucker for a good story. That’s why I am so excited about National Storytelling Week, which kicked off on Saturday.

Now that I have a two-year-old daughter, I have fallen in love with storytelling all over again. Its ability to inspire Bella’s imagination and the games she creates reaffirms just why storytelling is an art form. And no one will ever be able to persuade me otherwise.

OK, authors might not be as lauded as movie stars (there are of course exceptions), but their following is just as feverish. No, feverish is not the right word. A good storyteller doesn’t have fans, they have followers. For example, in our house we have every single one of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels that has been written (well, not the latest because it’s not yet in paperback, we have nappies to pay for don’t you know!). Why? Because we like the character, we want to find out more about his adventures. And so, every time the latest book comes out, the count down to it being available in paperback begins.

This commitment isn’t just applied to Lee Child. Stuart MacBride also features heavily on our bookshelf. My point is that great stories draw you in. You find yourself at the centre of them, imagining the world in which they live, from exactly what they look like through to the place where they live. Or don’t live, in the case of Jack Reacher. I won’t note here the expletives that came from my husband’s mouth when he learned that Tom Cruise was to play him in the movies.

And that is exactly what good engagement is all about. If a company is providing interesting content in different formats that is relatable, when they seek to engage, you’ll want to interact. Companies need to think about the narrative that sits at the heart of their communications. In a world where we share a story on our Facebook page or favourite a tweet before moving on to the next thing, storytelling has the power to make people stop, think, and actually – properly – engage.

There is a lot to be said for storytelling. I only hope that the work we do with our clients has the same effect on their audiences as Peter Rabbit does on my daughter.