Brands and reputation build bridges in London

Bridges are a big deal for London and always have been. Without the bridges to connect and hold London together, we would not have a full metropolis. We would be cut in two. They are physical monuments of London’s wealth […]


26 Sep
by Aspectus PR

london-bridges-engineering-prBridges are a big deal for London and always have been. Without the bridges to connect and hold London together, we would not have a full metropolis. We would be cut in two. They are physical monuments of London’s wealth and ingenuity; ever since 1176 and the creation of a lavish bridge to connect the north of the river to the road to Canterbury, they have symbolised the British pursuit of opulence and efficiency.

Today, bridges are just as important as they have ever been, and they need to retain their efficiency and good looks. With a mix of modern art represented with the Millennium Bridge, Victorian heritage with Hammersmith Bridge, and world renowned design with Tower Bridge, competition to be the most lavish is ripe. The high standards on the Thames pose a particular challenge and opportunity for Britain’s engineering firms. A company wanting to leave its mark on London will undoubtedly fight tooth and nail to be the next to erect a crossing.

With a need for a new bridge across the Thames, London-based news outlets have been assessing and stressing their opinions on the designs submitted by various engineers and architects. A wide and healthy variety of ideas has been posed since the late 1990s, and now it seems that the clear winner is Thomas Heatherwick’s garden bridge. But it has not been an easy journey for the design.

Heatherwick’s design has been in circulation since the early 2000s, and has ridden on the reputations of several patrons to get it pushed along. First off, it was going to be dedicated to Princess Diana. Then it had Joanna Lumley garnering its support. Recently, Heatherwick – the architect who designed the Olympic Cauldron for London 2012 – was recruited for the project. It seems that public support has not been generated by how it will be built, but rather who is going to back its construction.

Ultimately, building bridges is now a question of PR. Yes, there is the practicality and need to have a new crossing, but selling this need requires a trustworthy image, name and idea behind it. An engineering company cannot sell a bridge to Londoners if it is not beautiful, backed by high profile individuals, and buys into pre-constructed ideas of the values within London.

Just as a new bridge will connect the southern and northern sides of the Thames, it will also link the gap between engineering and the masses. A bridge cannot be made without the expertise of the engineering industry, and the engineering industry cannot sell its expertise without public endorsement.


And our survey says: Be careful with the PR polls

Writing for the BBC this week, Anthony Reuben recounts how he received a press release recently that said, with no hint of irony, “A third of people in the UK will not give truthful answers about themselves when asked questions by pollsters, […]


24 Sep
by Aspectus PR

surveys-polls-pr-communicationsWriting for the BBC this week, Anthony Reuben recounts how he received a press release recently that said, with no hint of irony, “A third of people in the UK will not give truthful answers about themselves when asked questions by pollsters, according to a new survey.”

The result is irrelevant. After all, we all know that 78% of all statistics are made up. But the paradox is staggering, and all the more so given how it was completely missed by the author of the release. Above all, it’s embarrassing for the PR profession.

PR’s propensity for a choice poll or survey is well known. A keen-eyed PR pro will spot the average PR-commissioned poll in a news story from a hundred paces, and the bad ones are even more painfully transparent. Look no further than the bathroom retailer whose survey suggests that couples who spend more time in the bathroom together have healthier relationships. What a coincidence.

Done well though, PR-commissioned surveys can be effective – both for the client and the reader. For example, a recent survey conducted jointly by The Times and Boots Opticians included a number of interesting statistics breaking down eye health and habits by factors such as age and region. Not only did this mean coverage in one of the UK’s broadsheets for Boots, it is of interest to the reader and could even have a positive societal effect as it encourages more people to book in regular eye examinations – some of which will undoubtedly be at Boots. Kerching!

Success boils down to rigorous commitment to best practice. Anything less and the survey rings hollow and could end up on a blog such as BadPR. So here are some top tips to get high quality coverage from surveys – both for the client and reader:

  • Be totally honest: The campaign and the client may expect a certain set of results to come out of their polling. If the answers are something different, either tell a different story or focus on other results. Don’t lie and twist the statistics as you won’t get away with it. You might even be surprised where honesty gets you. With one of our clients, an impromptu event poll revealed some interesting results but on a very low sample size. We subsequently chatted with some journalists about it as background information, and this led to coverage in the Wall Street Journal.
  • Don’t be too self-serving: There’s a balance to strike as PR must support business goals. Of course, it’s legitimate for your client to be commenting on their area of expertise, but it’s transparently self-serving and reader-repellant to nakedly engineer a result that calls for the immediate purchase of the product.
  • Get good stats: PR isn’t out to replace the Office for National Statistics, but there are a few basic rules practitioners should adhere to. Good sample sizes and avoidance of inappropriate selection bias, for example.
  • Get help: Most PR surveys can be conducted and analysed in-house. However, if the size and scope of the research becomes substantial, there are dedicated companies who specialise in designing and conducting polls and surveys for PR purposes, many of which belong to independent industry bodies and subscribe to their quality standards. Enlisting such help where appropriate should ensure a good survey – and a good story!

Other approaches can also deliver good results. Focus groups can bring together a small number of interested, relevant people to discuss pertinent issues. They don’t pretend to have statistically significant sample sizes and are taken at face value. Yet they can still yield interesting results that make great headlines for clients.

So what do you think? Is there still a place for a poll in PR? Or are you tired of self-serving surveys?

Please send your answers to info@aspectuspr.com, or tweet us at @AspectusPR. We’ll then put out a press release with the results*.

*Most likely not.


Hollowing out the state: Will PR be final frontier in private space travel as NASA ends Federal controlled space shuttle production?

Rejoice! The US Federal Government no longer has a monopoly on the production of space shuttles. In the latest step in the hollowing out of the state by the hiring of sub-contracted companies, NASA is relying on private industries to provide […]


22 Sep
by Aspectus PR

space-travel-technologyRejoice! The US Federal Government no longer has a monopoly on the production of space shuttles. In the latest step in the hollowing out of the state by the hiring of sub-contracted companies, NASA is relying on private industries to provide it with all future space shuttle technology.

Why should you rejoice? Because this is the most exciting news since Apple created a button to remove U2’s latest album from your iTunes library. It has a huge impact on the world marketplace and is the first step towards a full-blown revolution for the way in which we think about travel.

That’s right. We’re talking about space travel: the first or final frontier? With NASA offering contracts to private technology companies to design and construct space shuttles, we are seeing this technology move from the top secret and confidential Federal confines to the competitive, privatised marketplace. In fact, since NASA announced the end of its last space shuttle launch in 2011, the market has shot into orbit.

As of 2012, Boeing, SpaceX, Space Adventures, and Excalibur Almaz have been working on the creation of new space shuttle technology. There have also been plans for new space hotels, with motel tycoon Robert Bigelow and Space Island Group putting forward their designs with ambitions for initial prototypes by 2020. Let us also not forget the current boom in the sub-orbital flight industry, which includes the industry leader, Richard Branson, and his appropriately named Virgin Galactic.

Space is set to become the new fascination. Soon people will be clamouring to trade in their swimwear for space wear. Why? Because today a sub-orbital flight would cost you between $250,000 and $1,000,000, but this will drop dramatically. As free market economics has shown time and time again, no single company can sustain an unrivalled hold on the marketplace. In the same way that Southwest Airlines crept up and undercut its largest competitors in 1967, the current hold on the market will be disrupted.

The engineering team here at Aspectus PR is incredibly excited about this latest development. And you should be too. Not only will we soon see cheaper space travel, but we will also see new attention to space-proof technology. We will see changes that affect our everyday life, and technology that challenges all the limitations that we have put on our existence.

Now the emphasis will be placed on PR and communications to push for an increase in the marketplace and to sell space as ‘sexy’, rather than ‘inhospitable and deadly’. Rest assured, it may take 50 or even 100 years, but eventually space will be both exotic and more affordable for the consumer. And once it is exotic, the industry will establish a new frontier, and perhaps we will see the first tourists to Mars.

The ball is already rolling, the monopoly has been defeated, and the demand is there. The only question left is who is going to sell space?


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.