Using apps in the workplace: It’s whatever you find most app-ropriate

With 1.2 billion apps available, consumers are spending more time using apps than ever before. But are we making the most of them professionally? Certainly, the world of apps can be exciting: who wouldn’t revel in efficiently locating the nearest […]


19 Dec
by Aspectus PR

best-apps-productivity-pr-iphone

With 1.2 billion apps available, consumers are spending more time using apps than ever before. But are we making the most of them professionally?

Certainly, the world of apps can be exciting: who wouldn’t revel in efficiently locating the nearest petrol station or restaurant? These are the kind of apps I tend to think will be life-changing, until I realise there is a restaurant on every corner and I don’t plan to eat out every night. Nevertheless, I tell everyone about them.

In the world of work however, apps can be more useful, and are often overlooked. Here are some ideas that may help in PR:

Tape-a-talk: Instead of searching high and low for a dictaphone in the office, use this simple app (it also means one less thing to carry). You could also use it instead of making notes in a meeting, to ensure that you don’t miss anything key.

Instapaper: Save important articles for when you have time to read them. You can also access them offline, which can be a real time-saver if used on the commute home.

Gotomeeting: As well as being web-based, Gotomeeting is available as an app, making it even more accessible. Whilst it probably can’t beat face-to-face communication, if you’re really struggling with coming up with an agreeable time and place for your meeting, then this app could help. It can involve up to 25 people for audio or video conferencing.

Teuxdeux: Create clear to-do lists that can include recurring tasks for each day. Download this app before January to tackle the pile of the New Year’s jobs.

Flipboard: Choose from up to 30,000 news topics to follow, effectively creating a personal magazine for each day; great for sourcing stories in particular sectors.

Of course, there are also the classics such as Twitter, Viber, and Skype. Not forgetting of course, Google Maps – who knows where we would be without that (literally)?

Using social media as an essential tool for B2B communication is enhanced by remembering that as they all exist as apps, they are therefore on-hand 24/7.

If using apps can help to organise your workload, then it is highly recommended. However, if you try them out and realise you miss your traditional ‘pen and paper’ to-do list, then stick to what you enjoy. The trick is to choose your apps carefully; they should enhance what you already need to do, not merely clutter your phone and create new distractions.

Having a few practical apps can save time and stress. The only thing I definitely wouldn’t recommend is using Candy Crush Saga at work; it will never go down well.


Pinterest: The social network PR shouldn’t forget

Social media is a major part of PR today with companies constantly finding new ways to engage their target audience on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to name but a few. But while these social networks are some of the most […]


15 Dec
by Aspectus PR

pinterest-logoSocial media is a major part of PR today with companies constantly finding new ways to engage their target audience on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to name but a few. But while these social networks are some of the most popular, there are many others that tend to be overlooked – including Pinterest. Pinterest currently has 70 million monthly users who pin more than 54 million images per day. Those statistics alone should convince anyone to pay attention and start pinning!

Many people think of Pinterest as the go-to social network for do-it-yourself projects, wedding ideas, recipes and more. Essentially, Pinterest is a social bookmarking platform. See something you like but don’t have time to look at it now? Just pin it for later, where you will be redirected to another webpage. Users can create and manage items based on categories they have created called ‘pinboards’.

While I am guilty of using Pinterest to look up recipes and inspiration for my next haircut, Pinterest has such potential to be a huge part of the B2B PR world. At Aspectus, we approach social media as an essential tool for any B2B communications plan. Pinterest is a very visual site, which might seem problematic for B2B companies that can’t visually show what they are selling or the service they offer. However, it is our responsibility to help our clients think outside the box to find images that best represent their message.

The following points explain why businesses in the financial, technology and energy industries should have an active presence on Pinterest:

  • It’s an easy way to increase online traffic. The great thing about Pinterest is that if it has a link, it can become a pin. B2B companies aren’t going to be showing off their latest do-it-yourself project or new Fall line of clothing like a B2C company would, but they can showcase the products and services they offer. For instance, they can create boards that link back to information on their company website. Pinterest can easily be linked to other social media accounts, alerting followers on those sites about activity. Regardless of how the client message is presented, it can link back to their website.
  • People love visuals. Images are such a powerful tool in any industry. It’s no secret that people are naturally drawn to images over stand-alone text. Blog posts with images get more hits. If the image is visually appealing, other users will be drawn to re-pin and eventually read that blog. But be sure to pin an image that best reflects the message of the written content! You can also link to videos. If a firm has presented at an event recently, you can create a board filled with pins to videos so that their clients and prospects can see what they did.
  • It encourages an open form of communication. Building relationships with other people in our clients’ industries is such an important part of our job. Consider creating a user-generated pinboard that enables other users to contribute their own pins to your pinboard. This is a great opportunity to involve other users in the industry to share ideas and start conversations.

Next time you’re looking on Pinterest for a recipe for your next dinner party, take a look and see how Aspectus is using Pinterest!


Communications can help marine renewables ride new wave of investment

The principal issues surrounding technology innovation and development in the marine energy sector came to the fore at the Renewable UK conference held recently in Manchester. Certainly, there is huge potential for wave and tidal energy in the UK, but […]


10 Dec
by Aspectus PR

marine-energy-2The principal issues surrounding technology innovation and development in the marine energy sector came to the fore at the Renewable UK conference held recently in Manchester. Certainly, there is huge potential for wave and tidal energy in the UK, but attracting enough investment to progress the technologies is the most pressing matter.

Effective communications is now more essential than ever for marine developers. Not only is building investor trust dependant on clearly communicating project risk and structure, support for the sector overall is also reliant on promoting the potential rewards.

So how can marine energy developers acquire the support needed to push this emerging market to full capacity? First and foremost, project visibility is crucial to securing financial backing. Risk reflection and realistic development times must be disseminated to potential investors in order to build trust in the marine renewables sector.

It’s also vital to communicate the importance of prioritising technology’s progression over its initial costs. Concentrating efforts on achieving technology efficiency and availability before cost reduction will actually save investors money in the long run.

But as wave and tidal energy developers are facing intense pressure around the end cost to consumers, potential investors need to be educated on why price is not the primary concern, and how returns will be achieved in the longer-term. Achieving technology maturity before reducing the cost of the equipment will reduce cost uncertainty overall by limiting contingency expenditure – and there needs to be more emphasis placed on this.

Moreover, focusing investment on the manufacture of robust machinery from the outset will reduce concern around the performance of marine technologies and prove their viability, raising investor confidence as a result.

Wave and tidal energy could benefit the UK economy considerably as forecasts suggest a constant reduction in energy costs. Implementing a robust media campaign will ensure stronger financial support to help keep the UK’s technology leaders in the marine energy sector moving forward. At the same time, it will enable new levels of cost competiveness that deliver sustainable returns for investors willing to take the plunge.


Turkey with a side of good business advice

The fourth Thursday of November is one of the best days of the year in America. From the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade that snakes through the streets of Manhattan in the morning, to the NFL games that fill the afternoon, […]


02 Dec
by Aspectus PR

Thanksgiving-turkey-pr-communicationsThe fourth Thursday of November is one of the best days of the year in America. From the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade that snakes through the streets of Manhattan in the morning, to the NFL games that fill the afternoon, cheer and excitement sweep across the US like an autumn wind.

The most iconic – and my favourite – Thanksgiving tradition is a table covered in food and surrounded by family and friends. Turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, baked yams, green beans, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. The list goes on and on. Often soldiers or international visitors who are far from home will be included, even if they’re complete strangers to the host. Never does one feel fuller of food and a greater sense of belonging than the moment plates are cleared away and everyone sits back with a sigh of satisfaction.

But it was a sigh of relief that permeated the first Thanksgiving in 1621, along with a shadow of sadness. Following a two-month voyage, the Pilgrims arrived on the shores of the New World in November 1620. Winter came quickly, and the colonists were plagued by sickness, lack of shelter and shortage of food. By March 1621, almost half of the Pilgrims were dead, and forging a new path in the world seemed too great a challenge.

The venture might have ended in failure, had it not been for Squanto, a Native American who had once been kidnapped and taken to Europe as a slave. Having returned to his homeland, he observed the Pilgrims’ hardships and decided to use his thorough knowledge of agriculture and fluent English to give them guidance. Thanks to this alliance, a cornucopian harvest was reaped the following autumn, and a feast was shared between the Pilgrims and natives to symbolise gratitude that help was near and another winter of death was at bay.

Whilst enjoying my turkey (made from scratch and with all the trimmings), it occurred to me there are several relevant lessons that very much apply in the world of business, where communication has become so important. The first is that the success of new endeavours hinges on having the right expert advisors. Whether the launch of a product, expansion of operations or planting of a life-saving crop, a good PR team can point businesses in the best direction and provide insight on how to reach the right audiences.

Secondly, a company’s internal and external relationships are made exponentially stronger when success is celebrated while looking around to those who made it possible. It’s easy to say “Many thanks!” and move on, but making an effort to demonstrate sincere gratitude for invaluable contributions results in an indelible impact and sets a higher standard. Had the Pilgrims just said “Great job, Squanto”, and then gone on with daily life, it certainly wouldn’t have resulted in a holiday celebrated nearly four centuries later.

Thanksgiving really is one of the best days for Americans, but quality advice and gratitude will lead to the best years for a business and its employees. And that’s something even more satisfying than turkey and pumpkin pie.


Black Friday or Rainy Day: Why PR needs to help drive long-term behavioural change when it comes to Britons and financial planning

Black Friday sounds like something out of a 60s B-movie. And given the reports of the rows, fights and numerous arrests, such a comparison wouldn’t be too far off. But more than simply highlighting the extraordinary lengths we’ll go to […]


02 Dec
by Aspectus PR

black-friday-uk-2014Black Friday sounds like something out of a 60s B-movie. And given the reports of the rows, fights and numerous arrests, such a comparison wouldn’t be too far off. But more than simply highlighting the extraordinary lengths we’ll go to snag a bargain, it reveals the dark side of Britain’s approach to money management. It seems we are obsessed with short-term cash savings, but are we as obsessed with looking after our wealth for the long term?

I’d have loved to have gone down to Oxford Street and asked the baying crowds whether they took their ISAs as seriously as their iPads. How many people were gearing up to make savings on tree ornaments, television and toasters while debt repayments grew through unnecessary high interest rates, savings shrunk in real terms and equity in houses stalled because of a flat property market?

It’s high time Britons properly got to grips with long-term wealth creation and management and, more importantly, pursue their future prosperity with as just as much vigour as they showed in high street stores last Friday.

With his recent pension reforms, the Chancellor has put us in much greater control of our financial future and we cannot afford to be short-sighted. We need to be more financially literate, and we need to care more and be prepared to act.

Calling for financial literacy is not new. The dearth of understanding in the developed world has been recognised at a national and international level. That’s why we’ve seen the establishment of organisations such as the International Network on Financial Education, and the addition of finance to the school syllabus. The new programme for citizenship includes equipping all pupils “with the financial skills to enable them to manage their money on a day-to-day basis as well as to plan for future financial needs”. It also includes lessons in the importance of personal budgeting and money management, together with lessons about taxes, credit, debt and financial products and services. In addition, the new curriculum places a ‘renewed emphasis’ on mathematics, including financial mathematics.

However, Sophia Greene at The FT recently wrote that no-one actually knows whether these programmes will work. What is known is that any initiative needs to start early and focus on long-term behavioural change, not just financial knowledge.

Clearly, there is opportunity here for PR professionals to make a tangible and positive difference. What’s needed is true stakeholder engagement uniting governments, businesses, role models and our schools.

PR Week’s Danny Rogers highlighted the ability and ambition of our industry to do exactly this in his editor’s letter last month, showcasing campaigns that have had significant cultural impact. He defined modern marketing as the convergence of bought/owned/earned/shared media skills to create singular powerful narratives. If ever that was needed, it’s now.

Because even though I’m writing this, I’m embarrassed to admit that while I managed to get 20% off a new coat at ASOS, finding a better rate on my ISA somehow slipped off my to do list, again.


Ex Times journalist gives nod to visual content

Getting to know journalists and understanding what makes them tick is vital when working in media relations. Breakfast briefings, lunches and sporting events are just some of the ways to do this. Last week, members of our Financial Services team attended […]


28 Nov
by Aspectus PR

visual-content-marketingGetting to know journalists and understanding what makes them tick is vital when working in media relations. Breakfast briefings, lunches and sporting events are just some of the ways to do this.

Last week, members of our Financial Services team attended a briefing with Ian King in his new role at Sky, having moved from The Times earlier this year. Stories were told, lessons were learnt and the takeaways were vast, but the following provides a concise summary of some the key points he made.

On his new show Ian King Live (replacing Jeff Randal Live) and Sky:

  • The show tries to get under the skin of the top three to four financial stories of the day
  • Sky News has a global audience – it is in 108 million homes in 118 countries worldwide
  • The show is only as good as its guests – it is particularly interested in speaking with CEOs and experts from across the financial services space
  • Sky is actively looking to include more women on the show to counter the male-dominated culture of financial services

On TV in general:

  • TV is part of a modern CEO’s job
  • Over-preparing can sometimes be a risk
  • Shorter answers to questions make for a more interesting show as you can cover more ground
  • Ian respects CEOs who are prepared to talk about bad news

One point that resonated with us in particular was regarding the future of print. Ian sees the use of visual media to accompany static print – including images, infographics and short videos – as being key to catching the eye, drawing the audience in and truly increasing engagement.


EMEX highlights how energy management demands a PR response

Aspectus joined the crème of the energy management crop at the inaugural EMEX exhibition at London’s Excel centre last week. EMEX brought together companies looking to reduce the cost of their energy consumption with those providing services that could do […]


27 Nov
by Aspectus PR

EMEX-exhibitionAspectus joined the crème of the energy management crop at the inaugural EMEX exhibition at London’s Excel centre last week.

EMEX brought together companies looking to reduce the cost of their energy consumption with those providing services that could do just that. Aspectus already has a considerable track record representing providers in this space, and it was good to catch up with some old friends and clients alike.

Aside from that, it was interesting to see some of the themes emerging as hot-button trends. For example, more and more companies seem to be featuring carbon savings prominently within their promotion materials, in tandem with the traditionally more persuasive savings figures measured in pounds and pence. Could this be a sign that the combined weight of public perception on climate change and green legislation is starting to bite?

One of the most fascinating themes however, was the discussion around demand response technology. This helps balance the power grid when there are imbalances between the energy supplied and that demanded. The idea, and a lot of the technology, is not new, and Aspectus has a strong track record in this area.

However, demand response is not yet mature, and public understanding beyond the industry niche is still nascent. Nevertheless, the collection of technologies that fall under the demand response rubric have the potential to be transformative in the UK energy space – increasing grid resilience and helping to make the ‘blackout Britain’ articles a thing of the past. From a PR perspective, it’s a captivating field, and Aspectus looks forward to campaigns to come on both demand response and the wider theme of energy management.


Communicating the hidden calories in alcohol – how much food do you drink?

There have been fresh calls to print calorie information on alcoholic beverage packaging in a bid to reduce obesity in Britain. The average adult drinker gets about 10 per cent of their daily calorie intake from alcohol, while around two […]


24 Nov
by Aspectus PR

Budget 2007There have been fresh calls to print calorie information on alcoholic beverage packaging in a bid to reduce obesity in Britain.

The average adult drinker gets about 10 per cent of their daily calorie intake from alcohol, while around two thirds of UK adults are either overweight or obese, putting them at risk of developing serious medical conditions.

A survey of 2,000 people by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) found that eight out of ten respondents had no idea, or wrongly estimated the calorie content of their alcoholic drink. It now wants calorie information to be publicly displayed on restaurant menus, beer mats and pumps.

Of course, the ability to communicate information effectively to the right audience at the right time is essential in a profession such as PR. Although drinks manufacturers are required to display alcohol content, alcoholic drinks are exempt from calorie labelling under EU legislation because they are not a produced food.

Nevertheless, alcohol is relatively high in calories, with 7 calories/gram, second only to fat at 9 calories/gram. So for a standard drink, 70 calories are being consumed via alcohol alone, before considering other sources of calories in drinks such as sugary mixers or cocktail concoctions. A large glass of wine, for example, contains as many calories as a chocolate doughnut.

The lack of awareness around the calorie content in alcohol not only highlights the risks arising from a discrepancy between perception and reality, but demonstrates the importance of equipping people with the right information at the right time to enable them to make informed choices.

In trials, the RSPH found that drinkers consumed 400 calories less on average during a night out when the drinks had calorie labels on them – either by cutting back on high calorie drinks, or drinking fewer alcoholic drinks in total. With the cost to the NHS of caring for obesity-related conditions ever rising, the RSPH argues that alcohol’s role in contributing to obesity can no longer be ignored.


Best financial services PR agency award nomination caps off a great year, but roll on 2015!

It has been a fine year for Aspectus PR. Being shortlisted for two Financial Services Forum (FSF) awards – best financial services PR agency and best financial services PR campaign – are great accolades. Our congratulations obviously go to the […]


19 Nov
by Aspectus PR

Aspectus PR - PR logoIt has been a fine year for Aspectus PR. Being shortlisted for two Financial Services Forum (FSF) awards – best financial services PR agency and best financial services PR campaign – are great accolades.

Our congratulations obviously go to the winners, and while smiles still shine bright across our London, New York and Singapore offices following our nominations, we can’t help but get even more excited about what 2015 has in store.

We have already been busy producing an increasing amount of visual content, while continuing to integrate PR with SEO. However, combining this with our creativity and laser-focused sector expertise will be key to surpassing the success we have achieved thus far.

Surprisingly, a recent PR newswire study showed that less than five per cent of PR budgets were dedicated to producing visual content in 2014. Undoubtedly this number will increase next year, and we anticipate pictures and visuals becoming just as important as the written word in the not-too-distant future.

Nevertheless, for visual content to lift off, it needs to be part of a fully integrated PR campaign, with search engine optimisation (SEO) also being an integral part of the future media communications landscape.

As such, our plans centre around the Media, Content, Search (MCS) model. And we are convinced MCS will be the secret to going that one step further at next year’s FSF awards and bringing home that top financial services PR agency award.

Watch this space…


Savvy tech PR execs – WE WANT YOU!

Or to be more precise, Aspectus PR’s Head of Tech Sophie Hodgson does. Recruiting in tech PR is always a pain. You could be forgiven for asking why, given that the sector is seemingly rammed full of people. And maybe […]


14 Nov
by Aspectus PR

Or to be more precise, Aspectus PR’s Head of Tech Sophie Hodgson does.

technology-pr-account-executiveRecruiting in tech PR is always a pain. You could be forgiven for asking why, given that the sector is seemingly rammed full of people. And maybe it is; but I don’t want just any old people. I want the brightest, the funniest (GSOH is a must) and the best. And to be frank, these people are not so easy to find.

Perhaps it is simply that people are happy where they are. There’s no shame in that. Or perhaps it is that people aren’t sure what the world outside their current position has to offer. If you fall into the latter category, then I would like to offer up three key reasons why Aspectus PR could be an excellent home for you:

  • Ambitious? Fab. Just what I want. I can’t offer you the big boys of IT to work on, but I can offer you the opportunity to help me build a global tech practice that in a couple of years time will mean we can pitch for those big brands – and win!
  • Fighting long and hard for a piece of coverage that really makes a difference to a client’s business is extremely rewarding. Not everyone has massive budgets, but there’s nowt wrong with that as it engenders a need to tap-in to your creative side.
  • We really are rather nice. Of course, everyone says that. But creating a nice place to work was one of the main reasons why our Global Group Director set up Aspectus. So not only is it one of our core values, it’s on the wall and everything.

If you like the sound of this and think you’ve got what it takes, please check out this blog and get in touch with me – sophie.hodgson@aspectuspr.com