Communications can help you diversify without being defensive

Many companies look to diversify their business as part of their growth strategy, or as a matter of maintaining market share or survival. But in the energy sector, acting on this natural business instinct can present a unique set of […]


16 Sep
by Aspectus PR

diversification-energy-pr

Many companies look to diversify their business as part of their growth strategy, or as a matter of maintaining market share or survival. But in the energy sector, acting on this natural business instinct can present a unique set of challenges.

For example, you might have a wealth of experience in traditional fossil fuel generation and want to turn your expertise to a fresh offering for the low carbon future. The fear is that current customers will view this as a dilution of your core business and expertise. What’s more, the market you are moving into might view your credentials as a conflict of interest.

In theory, most other businesses will understand the need for diversification. They should also recognise the value of transferable knowledge and skills. But the key to this tricky business dilemma is transparent messaging around the new offering.

Any company embarking on a diversification strategy should have a solid business plan behind it. The challenge is translating that business plan into a rational and transparent message for the wider market. It must reflect your reasons for diversification and resonate across all your markets. Without crystal clear messaging, your communications efforts might weaken your brand.

Moreover, your messaging needs to recognise the synergies between your new and existing sectors. It must also respect both the heritage of your business, and the heritage of the market you are entering.

If you are planning to enter a new sector in the energy industry, contact Aspectus PR. We’ll help you to create and define the most effective narrative that resonates with current clients as well as the prospects you are trying to reach.

We’ll be at The Energy Event in Birmingham on Tuesday 16th and Wednesday 17th September. Drop us a line to arrange a meeting.


Are you a graphic and web designer with grand designs?

If so, then you could be just the person we’re looking for. Aspectus is a communications agency with big ideas and a growing digital marketing team. We’re seeking a fresh-thinking and talented graphic and web designer to join our busy […]


15 Sep
by Aspectus PR

Aspectus PR-graphic designerIf so, then you could be just the person we’re looking for.

Aspectus is a communications agency with big ideas and a growing digital marketing team. We’re seeking a fresh-thinking and talented graphic and web designer to join our busy central London office.

For us, communications is driven by a dynamic triangle involving media, search and content, with creativity at its core. Creating the right noise in the integrated media world, maximising online presence and generating engagement with the target audience is the name of the game. And we know that online is the real long-term powerhouse.

That’s why we want someone with demonstrable experience in creating original, compelling and responsive interactive web designs for mobile and emerging digital technologies. Web design skills and the ability to transform a brief from initial concept to final artwork are also essential.

The role:

  • Design of on and offline company assets, ensuring that brand guidelines are met
  • Development of innovative design solutions for a diverse range of client projects

Full knowledge of the digital project life cycle is needed for this role, including the ability to produce wireframes and mockups. This also means experience in formatting and presenting content in an engaging and accessible way, plus proven design, colour and composition skills and the ability to keep consistency in the designs.

In addition, we want someone with excellent knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite, particularly Photoshop, InDesign and Dreamweaver. Proficiency in Microsoft Office, especially Word and Powerpoint, and a good working knowledge of coding languages such as HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript and JQuery are also required.

In return, you will get the opportunity to thrive in an agency with a diverse portfolio of pioneering clients, international offices and an exciting vision driving rapid expansion. We have a lot to offer the right candidate – not to mention a competitive salary and attractive package that includes private healthcare and pension.

Aspectus is the perfect place to develop your career. This role is full-time (permanent) with an immediate start. To be considered, please send your CV and covering letter to philippa.ling@aspectuspr.com, along with examples of your work (either as an online or PDF portfolio – preferably with live URLs).


Are you an eight-second PR hero?

The latest Financial Services Forum events calendar includes an interesting statistic. The average human attention span lasts just eight seconds. That’s just one second less than that of a goldfish. And it’s four fewer seconds than a human’s attention span […]


10 Sep
by Aspectus PR

untitledThe latest Financial Services Forum events calendar includes an interesting statistic. The average human attention span lasts just eight seconds. That’s just one second less than that of a goldfish. And it’s four fewer seconds than a human’s attention span 14 years ago.

So, what else can you do in just eight seconds?

  • Qualify in a bull riding contest
  • Solve a Rubik’s cube (who knew 5.55 seconds was the world record?)
  • Compete in a dim sum eating challenge

It also takes the same amount of time to form a first impression.

We often talk about why there has been such a drop in the human attention span. The short of it is the increase in outside influences and distractions. This got us thinking about PR and how important it is to grab the attention of your audience. In the digital age – more so than ever – we are competing to make a positive, stand out impression. Mastering that in just eight seconds is no easy task.

So how, as a company, do you break the barrier of this eight-second stat, be the exception to the rule, and ensure that your voice is heard?

It’s about being distinct and different. You need creativity, bold ideas and thinking outside of the box. It’s not just about the traditional stuff. Press releases and articles are great, but infographics, videos and images make the difference. It is only then that you have a chance at being anything but the average.


Applying traditional comms thinking in the digital age

The gloomy reports about dwindling newspaper circulations could lead some to believe that traditional media and the journalism that powers it are on the wane. ABC’s readership stats identified an 8.1 per cent drop in February 2014 compared with the […]


08 Sep
by Aspectus PR

digital-pr-communicationsThe gloomy reports about dwindling newspaper circulations could lead some to believe that traditional media and the journalism that powers it are on the wane. ABC’s readership stats identified an 8.1 per cent drop in February 2014 compared with the same period last year. While this certainly places traditional publications under pressure, the fact is that journalism itself is now being carried out in less institutionalised forms and across a much wider array of channels.

One only has to turn on a 24 hour news channel to see that everyone today can be a ‘journalist’. We are in the ‘what’s the reaction like over Twitter?’ era. Therefore, the temptation for a brand, because of the social channels available to them, is to become the editor-in-chief. It is easy to see why: the sheer breadth of social channels available provide a far more accessible way of getting messages out there.

In theory, a brand should no longer be burdened by needing to apply the skills associated with creating and selling a story that works for a traditional heavyweight such as the FT. In practice however, the nature of applications such as Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube means that traditional storytelling takes on even greater significance. If you fail to provide authentic content that is suitably tailored for these channels, then you are missing substantial opportunities to engage with your audience. If anything, it could do your brand more harm than going through conventional routes. At least when doing that, you have an editor as the qualified gatekeeper.

The truth is that the thinking required for the digital age isn’t that far removed from that applied in the past. Businesses still need to determine exactly what will interest the audience they are attempting to engage with and influence, and develop a compelling angle accordingly. You can spend endless time fretting about new channels to use, but without the initial big idea and skill to develop it into a hard-hitting story, the time is wasted.

So the challenge isn’t one of adapting to the new communication channels, the challenge is, as it always has been, coming up with a game-changing idea. This is why it will be the businesses with a proven track record of devising compelling content for the media that will ultimately be the ones to thrive in this digital age.


Changes on the communications agenda at ONS 2014

Written by Laura Iley ONS 2014 has long been one of the most anticipated events on the energy calendar. Aspectus PR’s energy team was in Stavanger, Norway, for what was the conference’s 40th anniversary, and it certainly did not disappoint. […]


05 Sep
by Aspectus PR

Written by Laura Iley

energy-pr-communications-ONS-2014ONS 2014 has long been one of the most anticipated events on the energy calendar. Aspectus PR’s energy team was in Stavanger, Norway, for what was the conference’s 40th anniversary, and it certainly did not disappoint.

ONS 2014 saw the highest volume of visitors on record. For three and a half days 1,380 exhibitors showcased the latest developments in oil and gas to more than 90,000 attendees. The week ended with a bang (literally) – a concert headlined by Ylvis and an impressive fireworks display over Stavanger harbour.

The theme for this year’s conference was ‘changes’, which seems fitting at a time when a combination of global factors is driving significant change across the industry. This got me thinking about the recent changes underway at Aspectus and how we are implementing our new way of thinking for our energy clients.

Over the last 12 months our energy team has doubled in size, driven by an expanding client base from across the energy spectrum but in oil and gas in particular. We now have a strong portfolio of upstream clients, strengthened by the agency’s wider expansion into Asia – an essential and exciting hub for the global energy industry.

As with any commercial sector, the communications landscape is continually changing and moving further away from the conventional and into an era where media, content and search are truly integrated and not simply complementary facets of a campaign.

This was a fantastic message to bring to ONS 2014 and seemed to resonate when meeting with new prospects and old friends alike. We look forward to bringing our new thinking to The Energy Event later this month, followed by Offshore Energy in October.

Drop us a line if you’d like to meet with us at either of these events.


Communications, not spin, is more important than ever for energy players

The announcement by Westminster’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) that spending on communications has risen by 70 per cent in the last two years was met with shock today. Such a reaction shines a light on the sad […]


03 Sep
by Aspectus PR

DECC-communications-2014The announcement by Westminster’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) that spending on communications has risen by 70 per cent in the last two years was met with shock today.

Such a reaction shines a light on the sad fact that some people get instant negative connotations when they hear the word ‘communications’. The words that actually spring to mind are more like ‘spin’ and ‘doctoring’. Meanwhile, the benefits of effective communications are all too quickly forgotten.

In its simplest form, communications is how we learn about ‘stuff that’s happening’. This is especially important with government; our politicians make decisions every day that affect our lives. Effective communications can help us to actively engage with these decisions.

Climate change, energy security and energy supplier regulation are just three key issues that have repeatedly hit the headlines over the last couple of years. And, as energy is a critical component of modern life, it is absolutely vital for energy consumers to be kept informed.

Furthermore, the energy industry as a whole has come under increased political and public scrutiny in recent years for not offering enough clarity and transparency. A robust communications campaign, which combines multiple media channels – e.g. print, online and social media – and is based on engaging content including interviews, blogs and thought-leadership pieces, to name just a few, is the best way to communicate messages and relay vital information to as many people as possible.

So, the question that we need to ask ourselves is this: Do we want a government that makes our energy decisions behind closed doors; or do we want one that is investing in communicating efficiently and effectively with the people that matter?


Return of the intern: What I have learned during my second spell at Aspectus PR

The PR industry offers a great route into the media world for graduates such as myself. I’m entering my final year at university and having interned at several companies, it is PR that really captured my imagination.


26 Aug
by Aspectus PR

Written by Sofie Skouras

Aspectus PR - PR logoThe PR industry offers a great route into the media world for graduates such as myself. I’m entering my final year at university and having interned at several companies, it is PR that really captured my imagination. Not just because it provides the opportunity to interact with the media, but because each day is diverse and exciting.

When I first interned at Aspectus PR in April this year, I was greeted with a warm welcome by the team and immediately felt at home. The friendly, hard-working and fast-paced atmosphere in the office was contagious, so I was thrilled to be asked to return over the summer period.

Unlike some other professions where the tasks set for the intern involve photocopying, making tea, and running around London doing menial tasks, my role has taken in anything from compiling press lists, coverage reports and supporting social media campaigns, to writing blog posts, and liaising directly with clients and journalists.

As a result, I believe I have developed a much greater awareness of the commercial environment, my communication and business skills have increased significantly, and I have become much more confident.

So for anyone else considering an internship, or a career in PR, here are six lessons that I have learnt during my time at Aspectus:

  1. Social media is crucial – following relevant accounts, being regularly active and – most importantly – engaging with your audience. The latter is something I learnt during my Twitter outreach project. As a result of simply tweeting companies and individuals, I set up new business meetings.
  2. ‘To-do’ lists are your friend – the world of PR is incredibly fast-paced and with lots of tasks keeping you busy, I found to-do lists essential. They allow you to prioritise tasks and time-manage more effectively, which is something that I will continue doing when I return to university.
  3. Perseverance pays off – this is something I learnt during my ‘benchmarking opinions’ project for one of Aspectus’ clients. I was required to call individuals and ask them their opinions of the client after a PR campaign; their answers were then used to gauge the campaign’s effectiveness. Getting hold of highly mobile professionals was extremely challenging and required several attempts. In the end however, my perseverance paid off.
  4. Calling journalists is not ‘dead’ – being a part of ‘generation Z’, I have grown up in a world where we communicate via texting, emails, social media and so on. I am part of the generation who supposedly ‘only knows how to communicate through a screen’. So seeing my co-workers simply pick up the phone to pitch a story to a journalist was refreshing and gave a personal touch.
  5. Keep a work diary – maintaining a work journal is so beneficial; jotting down what you have done is both handy and satisfying. It allows you to keep track of what you have accomplished and build your portfolio. In your portfolio, you can neatly organise the tasks you completed, what strategies and ideas you created, some writing samples and so on. It can be easy to forget things when you’re very busy so taking a quick minute to jot them down will help you in the long run.
  6. The importance of teamwork – in a PR agency, you are never working alone. Being a team player is imperative in PR because, ultimately, everyone is trying to achieve the same goal. Participating in group brainstorms, meetings, conference calls and so forth really illuminated the benefits of working collaboratively.

I have greatly enjoyed my time at Aspectus and have enjoyed working alongside such a brilliant and supportive team. I would like to thank everyone at Aspectus and I hope to see everyone again very soon.


Top five tips for a winning communications campaign when entering new oil and gas markets

Breaking into new markets can be a long and complex process. This is particularly true in the oil and gas (O&G) sector, where global demand, technological innovation and the discovery of new reserves mean firms must frequently step into new […]


21 Aug
by Aspectus PR

oil-gas-pr-mapBreaking into new markets can be a long and complex process. This is particularly true in the oil and gas (O&G) sector, where global demand, technological innovation and the discovery of new reserves mean firms must frequently step into new markets and geographies. This calls for a well thought-out communications strategy, and one that is tailored not only to the needs of the business in question, but for the locale they are entering.

Certainly, the task can seem daunting from a communications standpoint. There are countless companies in the O&G sector with something new or interesting to say, fighting for voice share on the global media stage.

With more than 15 years’ experience working in the O&G sector, Aspectus PR’s energy team is trusted by major international players and respected by journalists around the world. It has represented scores of companies selling into the O&G niche and many operating within it.

Here are our top five tips for getting your communication strategy right:

1) Research
Get to know the local media landscape. This means identifying the publications most relevant to your target audience, sourcing the most credible and influential news outlets, establishing the journalists that cover your type of organisation and, importantly, understanding the issues driving the local news agenda.

2) Messaging
Messaging is the basis of all communications activity. Therefore, you need to be confident that your messages are appropriate for, and of interest to, your regional audience, as well as aligned with the aspirations of your organisation.

3) Language
This goes beyond simply translating your communications into the local tongue. Also consider how your current messages translate and whether they resonate in another language.

4) Digital
Optimising your website correctly can make or break your success in a new market.

5) Social networking
Social media is crucial for improving search engine optimisation (SEO). The more engagement you have online, the better your search ranking will be. Relationship building is at the very heart of PR, so remember that getting to know people on the ground is equally important

Successful PR doesn’t happen overnight, so be realistic and persevere. This is where a communications agency can help. Bringing in specialist knowledge and expertise can ensure that the communications strategy and tactics you employ work as hard as possible to generate the highest return.

To find out more about PR for breaking into new markets, pick up a copy of this month’s Scandinavian Oil & Gas magazine, or get in touch with us directly.


Reports of the death of the press release are an exaggeration

There’s been buzz in the PR world that press releases are slowly dying out and are no longer a useful medium for companies. Some industry commentators argue that journalists have no interest in simply republishing content that’s already been circulated […]


19 Aug
by Aspectus PR

press-releases-not-dead-PR

There’s been buzz in the PR world that press releases are slowly dying out and are no longer a useful medium for companies.

Some industry commentators argue that journalists have no interest in simply republishing content that’s already been circulated widely and published online because it is no longer newsworthy. Others feel that in today’s world of evolving technology, there are better ways to share company news other than the traditional press release.

Even executives at large corporations have voiced the opinion that the press release is a thing of the past. Coca-Cola, for example, has stated publicly that the company is moving away from “press release PR” to focus more on digital content data, and plans to eliminate all traditional press releases by 2015.

Perhaps the most notable part of Coca-Cola’s statement is the use of the word ‘traditional’. Certainly, the media has evolved beyond all recognition within the last decade, thanks to the rise of digital, social and prosumers, so it would be no surprise to see the traditional press release become a much more interactive document – with embedded video and links, for example.

However, as an accepted channel of corporate communication, it would be surprising if a firm such as Coca-Cola was to eliminate press releases entirely from its media strategy.

Indeed, Aspectus has long argued that the press release is alive and well and living on the internet and that it is how you approach them that counts.

But it’s good to revisit the basics as to why we still view the press release as a valuable PR tool in today’s digital world:

  • Press releases are an effective way to communicate news to your audience in a concise form – new hires, new products, technology advancements and more
  • Keeping an updated newsroom – containing an archive of past releases – not only shows your company’s history and accomplishments in one accessible location, but provides journalists with an essential, searchable resource should they want to examine your heritage
  • Press releases are still relied upon by journalists, bloggers et al as a great source of concise information

Ultimately, we would argue that the press release is not dead. Rather, it is our role as PR professionals to counsel our clients on how and when to use press releases effectively. Companies might need to adjust their press release distribution strategies to accommodate evolving technology and social media but, for now, it is still very much alive and kicking.

 


Why good manners equal good PR

Sophie Hodgson muses why, in her opinion, good manners still have a role to play in PR. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have a long list of pet peeves. They range from people eating like washing […]


08 Aug
by Aspectus PR

Sophie Hodgson muses why, in her opinion, good manners still have a role to play in PR.

good-manners-PRAnyone who knows me will tell you that I have a long list of pet peeves. They range from people eating like washing machines through to media call round lists littered with ‘voicemail’ as an update. The latter is likely to send me into outer space. But I digress. The king of all peeves, for me, is bad manners.

Now you might be reading this thinking that perhaps your mum has started a blog and you’ve somehow stumbled upon it. No, I can assure you that I am sub-35 and have a bee in my bonnet about manners. This might be odd given that I work in PR and that as well as working with a lot of lovely people, I also interact with a lot of rude people. It would be conceivable to think that I spend a lot of time secretly seething. But there is a difference between a journalist that finds new and inventive ways to be rude to you, for example, and plain bad manners. Rudeness I can cope with. Poor manners I cannot.

But why does this even matter? You might not even realise it, but good manners can be the difference between winning an account or losing it. No respectable agency would go to a pitch and not be polite to the receptionist. The use of the words ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ are well received. In a number of pitch situations where we have won, part of the feedback – aside from the strategy, ideas, quality of team etc – was that on top of all that, the receptionist thought that we were lovely. First impressions matter, and if you’re bad mannered with the receptionist, what does that say about your approach to people in what is still very much a people industry? Are you the right agency to be conveying the client’s message to the wider world?

Bad manners simply have no place in modern business. Yet good manners create the right impression and ensure that people want to deal with you. And when used to their best effect, they make people feel good about themselves. This last point is underlined by a recent event in our office. The lovely @amyredhead interviewed a potential intern, who we then offered a position. He is American and coming to the UK in a few weeks. We’re excited about him starting and feel we can learn a lot from him (he is a real networker) and vice versa. But do you know what really made us exclaim with delight? The fact that when he got back to the US he wrote us a handwritten note of thanks. That right there is the power of good manners AND good PR.