Do more faster with Spritz

How fast can you read? 200 words a minute? 250? 300 on a good day? How about if you could make that 600 or 700 – or even 1000? No, not an early April Fool’s joke, but a real possibility […]


24 Mar
by Aspectus PR

Spritz reading appHow fast can you read? 200 words a minute? 250? 300 on a good day? How about if you could make that 600 or 700 – or even 1000? No, not an early April Fool’s joke, but a real possibility according to the guys behind Spritz – a new reading initiative taking the internet by storm.

When you ‘spritz’, words are streamed onto a small area rather than all being displayed at once on a page. (Try it by clicking the button in the top right on their website.) The argument is that around 80% of traditional reading time is spent moving your eyes from word to word – so if they remove that bit for you, you can read significantly faster, and even retain more information. And of course, it forces concentration, much like watching a film with subtitles. Most excitingly for the competitive among us, you can ramp up your speed as you go. The company reckons that most users settle at around twice their ‘traditional’ reading speed.

It’s well understood that the way people access information has changed out of all recognition in the last couple of decades. But could spritzing herald a further revolution? If it were to take off widely, the potential application is clearly huge. Just imagine the implications for the legal profession, or politicians – not to mention teachers and students – of being able to process information twice as fast as now.

In PR terms, it could prompt a move back to longer-form content, after years of time constraints and the challenges of reading long articles on screen driving the opposite trend. It could also become yet another nail in the coffin of the print media. The challenge that naturally springs to mind will be whether these faster speeds can be reasonably maintained when it comes to complex texts – and whether readers will hit pause to take the time to reflect as they read, or whether they’ll come to the end of a lengthy document without really knowing what they think.

But from a PR perspective, we’d love some of our clients to be able to put it to the test when MiFID II’s Level 2 text is released, so we can be the first to the media with our comments!

So how fast did you read this 383 words?


When it comes to sector knowledge, every little helps

At Aspectus PR we often talk about the need for specialist sector knowledge within creative teams – be they in-house or agency. It was our knowledge of the energy market and our understanding of the Carbon Floor Price that enabled […]


21 Mar
by Aspectus PR

Sector-knowledge-energy-PRAt Aspectus PR we often talk about the need for specialist sector knowledge within creative teams – be they in-house or agency.

It was our knowledge of the energy market and our understanding of the Carbon Floor Price that enabled us to run an effective rapid-response campaign following the budget this week.

Alongside this sector knowledge, we also believe it’s vital to have that knowledge escalating up the team through the sign off process. After all, there would be no point in us having an account executive who is an energy market expert, if it arrives on the desk of a senior manager outside of the sector team at the final stage of sign off who couldn’t tell a pylon from a phone mast.

It was with interest then, that we saw that Tesco is pulling one of its latest ads for milk due to the picture showing the wrong type of cows (beef instead of dairy!).

In the case of sector knowledge and diligent sign off, every little certainly would have helped!


Budget 2014 sees carbon price floor frozen, but client coverage flows

One of the key assets at a PR firm’s disposal is the ability to respond to breaking news and events. In his budget speech yesterday, Chancellor George Osborne announced that the carbon price floor would be frozen at 2015/16 levels. This presented a prime opportunity for Aspectus […]


20 Mar
by Aspectus PR

Budget 2014One of the key assets at a PR firm’s disposal is the ability to respond to breaking news and events.

In his budget speech yesterday, Chancellor George Osborne announced that the carbon price floor would be frozen at 2015/16 levels. This presented a prime opportunity for Aspectus PR’s client Baringa Partners to embed itself firmly within the news agenda for the day.

Baringa is a consultancy firm with expertise – much like Aspectus – in energy and financial services. As such, any issue blending energy and the economy is firmly in their sweet spot.

By working with Baringa to supply insightful comment and doing so quicker than the competition, Aspectus was able to secure coverage and, crucially, voiceshare for Baringa in a variety of key trade publications.

Coverage included Energy Live News, RENews, New Energy World Network, Utility Week live blog and Business Green among others.

By understanding the news agenda, thinking carefully about possible outcomes ahead of time, and coordinating closely with Baringa, Aspectus was able to rapidly distribute Baringa’s informed response to the media on what has become a controversial policy.

Well-planned and coordinated campaigns are essential in PR, but so too is the ability to respond intelligently and rapidly to news as it breaks. With some great coverage achieved for Baringa, Aspectus has again proved it is more than capable of delivering on both.


Opting for omni-channel – picking the right platforms for PR

The number of social media channels and apps continues to rise exponentially. So, it’s easy to feel like you’re drowning in a sea of hash tags and angry birds. As we’ve always argued at Aspectus however, the key is to avoid […]


07 Mar
by Aspectus PR

Omni-channel-experienceThe number of social media channels and apps continues to rise exponentially. So, it’s easy to feel like you’re drowning in a sea of hash tags and angry birds.

As we’ve always argued at Aspectus however, the key is to avoid bombarding potential clients with every channel under the sun and to be more selective in terms of the social tools being harnessed.

The benefits to this approach are outlined in a new whitepaper by Webhelp, which uses the term ‘omni-channel experience’ to describe when companies manage a few carefully selected channels to enhance the audience experience while ensuring the optimal impact on the company’s bottom line.

Selected channels must be fully connected, says Webhelp, so that each conversation can be carried smoothly from platform to platform. The omni-channel solution should also be a ‘customer-centric environment’, and offer the right mix of integrated and complementary social networks and apps to suit the right audience.

Webhelp’s whitepaper also identifies ‘Generation C’ (for connected), a category of audience comprising ‘better informed, highly demanding, vigorously social and constantly connected individuals’. For this new technologically-charged cohort, the belief is that an online search can spark a web chat that leads to a social media exchange and perhaps even a phone call – the ultimate goal being of course, being to form a fully-connected business relationship.

Interestingly, Generation C isn’t specific to any age group, with over-55s (who have higher disposable income) said to be rapidly adopting this new way of life. As such, an interesting example of the omni-channel environment in action is cited in the financial services space, where Virgin Money is converting new branches into ‘stores’ and ‘lounges’ where their clientele can browse products, bank online or meet face-to-face with an advisor.

Certainly, both businesses and society are being transformed by social media, and the omni-channel environment is a concept confirming that while it is time for companies to get involved, a more strategic approach is required.

Crucially, it’s not how big your portfolio of channels is, it’s how you use it.


A Terminator, a philosopher and an education secretary submit a paper to parliament…

What do Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Gove and Oxford philosopher Roger Scruton have in common? This may sound like an obscure take on a well-known prelude to a joke, but the punchline isn’t funny: they all think environmentalism has an image problem. The eagle-eyed may notice that all […]


03 Mar
by Aspectus PR

Environmentalism_Aspectus-PRWhat do Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Gove and Oxford philosopher Roger Scruton have in common? This may sound like an obscure take on a well-known prelude to a joke, but the punchline isn’t funny: they all think environmentalism has an image problem.

The eagle-eyed may notice that all three occupy a space somewhat to the right of the political centre. This is because they make up three of 14 contributors to the Conservative Environment Network’s new publication, Responsibility & Resilience: What the Environment means to Conservativeslaunched in the UK Parliament on February 26th.

The document aims to ‘completely explode the myths that the environment belongs on the left of politics or that business is not leading on this issue,’ according to Ben Goldsmith, Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Conservative Environment Network.

Without entering into the politics of this, it’s interesting from a PR perspective that some on the right are so concerned that the left have monopolised the green thought leadership space, that they’ve assembled an all-star conservative cast to try and reclaim voice-share.

Language of ‘exploding myths’ may owe more to the subconscious influence of having an icon of the ‘80s action movie genre on the roster, but it also speaks to the power of these allegedly entrenched myths, and the desperation to shake them.

It’s also a great example at the highest level of how ownership of an idea can stick and keep on delivering long-term returns for those that have entrenched themselves firmly on the favourable side of the debate. For further evidence, just look at how those caught on the wrong side panic and scramble to reclaim it as their own.

Though not all arenas are as fiercely partisan as politics’ upper echelons, it’s a lesson and a reminder for all PR practitioners on the power of well-executed and sustained thought leadership on an emotive topic.

Tags: Energy & Environment,

Posted In: Blog, Energy PR

0 Comments : View and add comments


Donation to Halogen Foundation marks successful conclusion to Art Apart Fair

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead, Cultural Anthropologist (1901-1978) Aspectus PR saw the last milestone in our sponsorship of the Art Apart […]


28 Feb
by Aspectus PR

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead, Cultural Anthropologist (1901-1978)

Art Apart Fair 2014 Aspectus PRAspectus PR saw the last milestone in our sponsorship of the Art Apart Fair in Singapore marked this week with a visit to the Halogen Foundation Singapore HQ by Aspectus Asia Pacific’s Regional Director Martin O’Connor. During the visit, the Foundation, which is focused on nurturing and developing young leaders in Singapore and is our nominated charity partner, received a cheque for just under S$5,000.

The visit really brought home just what a worthwhile recipient the foundation is: a vibrant, busy office, bustling with energy, commitment and fun – and massive dedication!

The Foundation is manned by a small number of full-time staff supported by interns. During the visit we were able to gain a full appreciation of the wide range of activities currently underway, as well as its future plans.

Aspectus feels truly honoured to have been a part of this project and we are delighted to know that our sponsorship is supporting such a worthwhile cause.

“We are a committed small group here at Halogen and like at any charity, resources are scarce,” said Sean Kong, CEO, Halogen Foundation Singapore. “To be the recipient of this donation means a great deal to us. We make every cent count here and this money will be used to great effect in our ongoing mission of developing and nurturing young leaders in Singapore. I would really like to thank Aspectus for sponsoring the event; they were not just a passive sponsor but got fully involved in the spirit and running of the event. In particular they structured their sponsorship to ensure that Halogen benefited as much as possible. We are all very grateful to them.”


When high-frequency trading just isn’t high-frequency enough

In most industries the phrase ‘race to the bottom’ carries decidedly negative connotations. But in the arcane realm of high-frequency trading the ‘race to the bottom’ – or rather ‘the race to zero’ – is what it’s all about. High-frequency […]


21 Feb
by Aspectus PR

In most industries the phrase ‘race to the bottom’ carries decidedly negative connotations. But in the arcane realm of high-frequency trading the ‘race to the bottom’ – or rather ‘the race to zero’ – is what it’s all about.

HFT High Frequency Trading

High-frequency traders are continually scrambling to improve the speeds of their already lightning-fast trades and maintain competitive advantage. In a world where every millisecond costs money, we are seeing some truly weird and wonderful technological innovations. Good old fibre-optic cables still dominate, and will likely do so for some time, but firms are increasingly looking to wireless solutions to gain an edge where possible.

Signals sent via microwave will reach their destination some 35 to 50 per cent faster than signals sent over a cable. Line-of-sight microwave transmissions already carry thousands of trades to and fro between Basildon and Frankfurt, and New York and Chicago, every day. But line-of-sight transmission becomes a bit trickier when hurling a signal across the Atlantic Ocean. In order to speed up trading across that vital London–New York trade route, the microwave signal will need a reliable relay system. Here the industry is exploring solutions more reminiscent of science fiction than high finance, from low earth-orbiting satellites to unmanned solar-powered dronesand even hot air balloons. It would be rather ironic to see trading speeds step up a gear thanks in part to one of the slowest forms of transportation ever devised by man.

But why stop at microwaves? We know that the universe has a speed limit – the speed of light. Microwaves also travel at this speed of course, but visible light has a higher frequency and so allows for a greater rate of data transfer – so why not use this? Chicago communications company Anova is doing just this, with plans to activate an array of lasers in March that will link the data centres of the NYSE and NASDAQ in New Jersey.

We love finance here at Aspectus but, let’s face it, finance can be dull. Many people (and even those within the industry) find it difficult to relate to the abstract monster the modern financial services industry has become: a vast structure of balance sheets, bets, and numbers. High-frequency trading suffers from this perception more than most, as it is also hidden behind a layer of computing wizardry few really understand.

However, throw in some satellites, lasers, and solar-powered drones and one can instantly capture and fire the imagination. It is, of course, important for financial services firms to talk the bread and butter of their trade. But thinking laterally and finding that human interest angle that elevates the story beyond your niche is a vital part of getting people to not just talk about you, but pay attention.


Digital versus print: an exciting PR conundrum

The balance of power between traditional and digital media has been shifting for some time. But the balance has certainly swung in favour of digital. Recently, it was widely reported that Telegraph stalwart Tony Gallagher had lost his long-held position as editor, while Guardian Media Group had sold its cash-cow AutoTrader (claiming that the […]


10 Feb
by Aspectus PR

Digital media news PRThe balance of power between traditional and digital media has been shifting for some time. But the balance has certainly swung in favour of digital.

Recently, it was widely reported that Telegraph stalwart Tony Gallagher had lost his long-held position as editor, while Guardian Media Group had sold its cash-cow AutoTrader (claiming that the capital could provide financial support for the next 30 years). In addition, the Independent – acquired by Alexander Lebedev for the princely sum of £1 in 2010 – is up for sale with growing losses and circulation in decline.

The problem it would seem, is the diminishing market share for print media as digital continues to make inroads. The FT now mentions the Telegraph and BuzzFeed in the same breath, but in an historical context, this is a case of a veteran broadsheet known for insightful commentary against a seven-year-old website known more for its entertaining list-based articles than hard-hitting journalism.

There are many candidate reasons for this change. We spend more of our lives online now glued to screens more or less constantly; it’s cheaper to run a website than print a paper; 24-hour online news is more nimble and quicker than a traditional broadsheet with a fixed time for news deadlines and a daily print-run.

Industry commentators have been pronouncing the demise of traditional media for years, yet still the veterans hang on. Some are even taking lessons from the digital world, with the Independent launching i in 2010, a low-cost and concise read bringing the brevity of digital to paper format. Whether or not it heralds a new direction for the broader format remains to be seen, but i has thus far been a successful venture, with circulation figures reported in 2012 many times that of its parent paper and still on the rise.

Perhaps, despite the convenience of online outlets, there is still a sense of brand loyalty to the traditional media and a perception that they remain the standard bearers of quality investigative journalism.

For example, the Guardian’s revenues have fallen by a quarter since 2008, but it is still the outlet leading the charge on phone hacking and Wikileaks, and broke the Edward Snowden revelations. Meanwhile, it was the the Telegraph that scooped and serialised the MP expenses scandal.

And one could argue there will always be a place for that journalism.

On the other end of the spectrum, the FT notes that the Daily Mail’s MailOnline is growing its sales more slowly than the paper itself is losing them – implying a net loss. However, it also notes that MailOnline is (by some measures) the most visited news website in the world. Hardly a death-rattle.

For PR professionals it raises an interesting question: Should you align yourself more closely with the digital revolution to gain your clients the most possible coverage, or perhaps remain focused on traditional, more long-form media when looking to promote more considered thought leadership?

Of course, there are no easy answers. But one thing is certain: if you work in PR, it presents at least as much excitement as uncertainty.


Happy Birthday Facebook (and many PR returns)

Facebook is 10. That’s a statement that takes a while to sink in. Trying to remember what life was like without it is a bit like thinking back to a time before mobile phones, given that for many, it’s written […]


04 Feb
by Aspectus PR

Facebook 10th anniversaryFacebook is 10. That’s a statement that takes a while to sink in. Trying to remember what life was like without it is a bit like thinking back to a time before mobile phones, given that for many, it’s written into the code of daily life.

Although Facebook is a website, it is one that boasts
1.23 billion active users – roughly a 7th of the global population – and the myth surrounding its inception spawned ‘The Social Network’, a film that won three of eight nominations at the Oscars in 2011.

Nevertheless, Facebook can’t lay claim to the title of the social network. It’s not alone, and it certainly wasn’t the first. Bebo and Myspace were arguably the founding forefathers of the social networks we have today, although Facebook was the one that kicked social networking into the mainstream in the western hemisphere.

For those working in PR, the hulking influence of Facebook has transformed the way we consume, produce and circulate media. Would the current trend towards short, list-based and easily digestible stories have been so pronounced without having social media that thrived on quickly shareable content? And would more people seek out traditional news if their friends didn’t provide a steady stream of information straight to their news feed?

For some, ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ on social media are taken as a more reliable indicator of coverage value than traditional circulation figures, guaranteeing a minimum level of reader engagement rather than guessing at how many of a magazine’s subscribers absorbed a given article. In PR, such engagement is valuable in demonstrating ROI, and the more nebulous effects of the public engaging with companies should not be underestimated.

Many would argue that Twitter is the more useful tool for PR, with journalists and clients alike using it to both gather and disseminate information. This may well be true, especially in the B2B world, with Facebook remaining more consumer-orientated. However, that’s not to deny that Facebook isn’t an invaluable weapon in the social media arsenal for companies looking to enhance their brand’s reach and appeal. Either way, none of this may have happened if it wasn’t for Mark Zuckerberg in a Harvard dorm room ten years ago.

Happy birthday Facebook.


Making the leap from in-house comms to agency PR

(Written by Laura Iley) The prospect of changing jobs is always a daunting one – not least in my case. Having grown up in Aberdeen’s oil and gas industry, a combination of circumstances led me to London in pursuit of […]


31 Jan
by Aspectus PR

(Written by Laura Iley)

Aspectus PR - PR logo

The prospect of changing jobs is always a daunting one – not least in my case. Having grown up in Aberdeen’s oil and gas industry, a combination of circumstances led me to London in pursuit of a new opportunity, and the energy practice at Aspectus PR.

For some time I had aspired to move agency-side. I wanted more freedom and variety than the in-house environment could offer, and saw this change as the best way to develop the skills and knowledge I’m most passionate about while remaining connected to the energy sector.

But when the time came, I approached the move with a certain level of trepidation. After all, I had built a comfortable career in oil and gas, the perks of which included global travel and relative job security. Of course, I knew that the world of agency PR would be different. But as I entered into my new working environment, I soon found myself sitting on an unfamiliar side of the fence.

I’m pleased to say that my apprehension was short-lived and, once immersed within Aspectus’ expanding energy practice, I was relieved to find myself on familiar oil and gas territory. While I still have a lot to learn about the workings of a PR agency, I have an opportunity to develop my skills as a communications professional while drawing on my energy sector experience to support Aspectus’ diverse portfolio of clients.

As for making the leap from in-house to agency, I would encourage others to do the same. How better to refine your craft than working alongside genuine industry experts? You get a chance to see the workings of PR from an entirely different perspective, and it certainly makes for a positive and interesting change of pace.

Now a few months in, I still face new challenges on a daily basis. But it’s good to step outside your comfort zone and I, for one, haven’t looked back.

Tags: Aspectus PR, Energy PR,

Posted In: Blog, Energy PR

0 Comments : View and add comments