Women in the boardroom

Thanks to the CIPR Equal Access Network for a really interesting event on Tuesday night hosted by the City of London Corporation. Under the title, ‘PR: Women in the Boardroom’, CIPR chair Jane Wilson adeptly directed panellists Alderman Fiona Woolf, […]


04 Jul
by Aspectus PR

CIPR logoThanks to the CIPR Equal Access Network for a really interesting event on Tuesday night hosted by the City of London Corporation. Under the title, ‘PR: Women in the Boardroom’, CIPR chair Jane Wilson adeptly directed panellists Alderman Fiona Woolf, City of London Corporation, Heather Jackson, CEO & Founder, An Inspirational Journey, Gay Collins, Executive Chairperson, MHP Communications and Mary Whenman, Incoming Managing Director of Weber Shandwick Corporate, Financial and Public Affairs, and the often spirited audience in a whirlwind discussion. The group covered such diverse topics as childcare (surely a parental issue in a two-parent family, not a women’s issue), quotas (thorny as ever), female mentors and sponsorship, and networking. To that last point, yes, most men would rather go home and have a jacket potato and watch Corrie too, quipped Heather!

As a female-dominated agency operating in the typically male-dominated sectors of financial services, energy, technology, and engineering, the issue of equality gets an airing in the office every once in a while. What struck me last night was that, though the subject was nominally women, most of the discussion actually related to diversity in the boardroom.

Given the purpose of a board, nobody would argue that it should be made up of a group of people shaped by the same background, career and life experiences. But that doesn’t just mean gender-based diversity.

In many ways, the debate has moved on from being about women. While this is a positive step, it’s critical we continue to keep up the pressure on that front. Although the topic is now widely discussed following the Davies Report and the work of the 30% Club and others, the stark truth is that women still only make up 17.3% of FTSE 100 boards, and less still for the FTSE 250. If we can move the discussion on to the broader issue of board diversity, that will go a long way to supporting women’s routes to the boardroom.

Many of the obstacles to increasing the number of women on boards discussed could be applied equally well to this wider issue of diversity; not least, the idea that boards that are primarily made up of very similar people are not necessarily places that people who don’t share that background aspire to be. Also discussed was the issue of workplace (in)flexibility. Although too often aligned solely with women and childcare, workplace flexibility is something increasingly sought by men and women, childless or otherwise as work increasingly becomes defined as ‘something you do, not somewhere you go’. The third key point was around confidence, and although this was cited primarily as a female issue, it stands to reason that mentoring and sponsorship is critical for anyone who might not feel they currently fit the mould of a board member.

So perhaps a more apt title could have been, ‘PR: diversity in the boardroom’. That might at least have encouraged more men to attend, which would have been valuable. Still, the overwhelmingly female audience did make for excellent networking opportunities in the lengthy queue for the Ladies!


Good content really does travel: thought leadership campaigns are key to global PR success

The Aspectus Energy PR team has been busy collating information on the spread of global coverage achieved for our client Wood Group Intetech this week. And we were delighted to confirm we had successfully garnered coverage on every continent for […]


26 Jun
by Aspectus PR

The Aspectus Energy PR team has been busy collating information on the spread of global coverage achieved for our client Wood Group Intetech this week. And we were delighted to confirm we had successfully garnered coverage on every continent for the well integrity specialist. As part of this process, we pulled together what we hope you agree is a rather impressive graphic.

Intetech global coverage

The key to the success of Wood Group Intetech’s PR campaign is great content. As this graphic shows, the Aspectus brand of content-led thought leadership campaign that focuses on hot industry topics rather than products gets global attention.

If you’re looking for similar results from your PR, please do get in touch with Aspectus.


How B2B companies can develop an effective LinkedIn strategy

When it comes to social media adoption, it’s no surprise that B2B companies trust LinkedIn most. But many simply don’t know where to start. Here at Aspectus, we believe that a LinkedIn strategy should form part of a more comprehensive […]


21 Jun
by Aspectus PR

LinkedInWhen it comes to social media adoption, it’s no surprise that B2B companies trust LinkedIn most. But many simply don’t know where to start.

Here at Aspectus, we believe that a LinkedIn strategy should form part of a more comprehensive digital and integrated marketing communications campaign. So we’ve put together a few pointers for those B2B companies looking to get started:

Implement a consistent and integrated strategy

It is critical to first determine what your company aims to achieve with social media. Is it brand awareness, community building, search engine optimization, prospecting, or reputation management? Then recognize and exploit the strengths of LinkedIn to help achieve those goals. For example, LinkedIn is a great venue for displaying product testimonials, but not as strong as Twitter for real-time communications. Understand the gaps in what that medium can and cannot achieve for your company.

Develop your brand and hone your message

Second, you need to recognize the practical application of LinkedIn across your business. In other words, consider how your corporate profile and the individual user profiles of your employees will be aligned and how this will impact the corporate brand.

For example, B2B organizations should use the corporate page to reinforce its brand persona and drive traffic to its website. Listing out the company’s products and services, seeking recommendations, and posting videos all help to create brand credibility and should be core components of any LinkedIn campaign.

In addition, and as with any other communications channel, messaging consistency is imperative – especially since LinkedIn is one of the top places people will go to learn more about your company. B2B organizations should consider auditing corporate LinkedIn profiles for consistency of messaging and identify and correct individual pages in conflict with any corporate messaging.

Market your content to a targeted audience

LinkedIn provides a prime opportunity for B2B companies to engage in targeted content marketing to generate more traffic and click-throughs to their site and increase their community visibility and engagement on groups and forums. It is also a great way to promote thought leadership and corporate announcements such as press releases, blog posts, and video content.

However, before engaging at this level, publicly traded or highly-regulated companies should consider investing in a certain level of infrastructure, such as archiving technologies or compliance review processes.

For B2B companies, LinkedIn should be a key aspect of an integrated communications platform, run by experts who understand the medium. Only then, can the company create a cohesive strategy across digital and traditional channels and benefit from the best that each channel has to offer.

If you want more help getting LinkedIn, why not drop us a line?


The dangers of running your PR on the wrong fuel

We’ve all done it – put unleaded fuel in our diesel car or the other way round. There’s never a good time for this, but try doing it on a Sunday evening on the A1 if you really want the […]


19 Jun
by Aspectus PR

broken-down-car

We’ve all done it – put unleaded fuel in our diesel car or the other way round. There’s never a good time for this, but try doing it on a Sunday evening on the A1 if you really want the full nightmare experience.

There’s a bit of a parallel with PR. If you use the wrong agency or PR people to talk to specialist journalists you can do serious, potentially permanent damage to your media relations, perhaps without even knowing you’ve done it.

This is especially true in the capital markets, which we at Aspectus PR know well and deal with all the key journalists involved every day. It’s crucial to know the issues, especially when it comes to complex regulation, trading technology or developments in the financial markets. You cannot hope to work with writers and editors in this space unless you do. Equally important is knowing which journalists to pitch with what stories; the demarcation lines are often very subtle.

One of the most common complaints from capital markets writers is being called by ‘PR timewasters’ who simply don’t know their stuff. Their cards get marked and the journalists won’t take their calls or open their emails. The trouble is that it infects the client company’s standing with the capital markets’ media too.

And, a bit like a car after several miles on the wrong fuel, you don’t know the full extent of the damage until some time later.


Managing client relationships

Building and maintaining relationships is a critical part of PR. We do this daily, whether with the media, our colleagues or most importantly, our clients. Managing these relationships effectively however, can sometimes prove challenging. One of the most essential elements […]


13 Jun
by Aspectus PR

Communication Aspectus PRBuilding and maintaining relationships is a critical part of PR. We do this daily, whether with the media, our colleagues or most importantly, our clients. Managing these relationships effectively however, can sometimes prove challenging.

One of the most essential elements is consistent communication. Today, we have a vast array of mediums at our disposal and, as PR professionals, it’s up to us to determine not only the most appropriate for a given situation, but also the mediums each client prefers. Some like to talk over the phone every day, others prefer email. Likewise, some want to focus purely on business, whereas others enjoy a more relaxed conversation involving their children or the weather.

Strong relationships are also developed by being available for clients and proving to them that you truly understand their needs and business goals. The ability to discern what clients actually want from what they are asking for is crucial, since there is often a subtle difference. At Aspectus for example, we make it a priority to understand the business of our client’s business. Being fully versed in their objectives and the markets in which they operate ensures we are in the best position to help guide their strategic communications decisions, as well as be proactive in presenting them with potential opportunities as they arise.

Naturally, some clients are tougher to please than others. Here, great diplomacy and patience are vital, but it is important to always keep the best interest of their business as the focus and remain steadfast in achieving great results.

Ultimately, managing client relationships comes down to treating everyone honestly, fairly and as valued partners. As such, we have established a culture whereby everyone at Aspectus understands the importance of client relationships. We know that communicating with them clearly and effectively is just as important as when we’re dealing with the media and each other. And we know this because being expert communicators is our business.


Connecting the logical with the physical via social media

One of the most popular and thought-provoking presentations at the recent Content Marketing Show was delivered by Ben Redford, inventor and product designer at Mint Digital. In the intriguingly titled ‘Robots, gumballs and Marxism’, Ben provided a completely different take on […]


10 Jun
by Aspectus PR

ProjecteoOne of the most popular and
thought-provoking presentations at the recent Content Marketing Show was delivered by Ben Redford, inventor and product designer at Mint Digital.

In the intriguingly titled ‘Robots, gumballs and Marxism’, Ben provided a completely different take on how to use content to engage with your audience. Mint Digital bill themselves as ‘a company that makes what people want’. Specifically, it works with clients to build digital products, but it also builds its own products that are designed to link the virtual world with physical products. Examples include:

Foldable.Me – Cardboard avatars made online, shipped to your door pre-cut and scored

StickyGram – Turns Instagrams into fridge magnets

Inspired by his visit to a build a bear workshop, in terms of how good it felt to create something physical, Ben set out to recreate the experience by translating a virtual event into something tangible. His first attempt was a web-connected robot called Olly that emits a smell every time its owner gets a retweet, or like on Instagram, or a photo tag on Facebook. He put it on Kickstarter and unfortunately it really did stink (only 170 people wanted it). Crucially, people talked about it.

So Ben tried again with ‘Polly’ – a web-connected robot that dispenses gumballs instead. Again, it got coverage but still lacked commercial viability. However, the third time round he came up with Projecteo – a tiny Instagram projector based on the slide projectors that were popular in the ‘60s that people used to display their holiday snaps.

With two well publicised inventions under his belt, and by engaging with his audience by exposing the design and production process along the way, Projecteo got the necessary funding within 24 hours of being put on Kickstarter.

And the simple message? Talking about what you do works.


Show giveaways deliver PR returns at All Energy 2013

At-stand freebies are a firm favourite in boosting footfall at events. They allow companies to thank both visitors and clients during a show, but are a great way to ensure brand visibility long after the final stand has been broken […]


06 Jun
by Aspectus PR

At-stand freebies are a firm favourite in boosting footfall at events. They allow companies to thank both visitors and clients during a show, but are a great way to ensure brand visibility long after the final stand has been broken down.

All Energy 2013 for example, won’t just be seen as the year the marquee nearly blew away prompting an evacuation, but also the year of the awesome freebie. With Aspectus in attendance to catch up on the latest industry news and meet with clients and prospects, we couldn’t help but pick up a few gifts for the team back home.

Here’s our round up of our favourite stand giveaways:

reNews_USB

Sticks in the mind: reNews’s recycled bamboo twist on the USB classic, complete with the latest issue of reNews (and snaffled by Aspectus PR’s head of content)

Baringa_smarties

Smart thinking: branded Smarties from Aspectus’ client Baringa Partners

James Hutton Institute_hedgehog

Spiking interest: The James Hutton giveaway now hogging the limelight in the Aspectus Energy team’s animal-themed freebie Hall of fame

Atmos Consulting_post its

A colourful take on the mini post-it note: This rainbow design from Atmos Consulting really catches the eye

Brodies_yoyo

And the winner is: The Brodies YoYo – a Twitter sensation and show ­­success, with one visitor to the stand stating “I’m here about the YoYo”. Proof indeed that PR and marketing via freebies can have its ups and downs…

What was your favourite freebie? Get in touch and let us know.


Content Marketing Show 2013 goes back to basics

The fundamentals of content marketing came under the spotlight last Friday with the return of the Content Marketing Show. Held at the Institute of Education’s Logan Hall near Russell Square London, the free event organised by SiteVisibility’s Kelvin Newman saw […]


04 Jun
by Aspectus PR

Content-Marketing-Show-2013-lThe fundamentals of content marketing came under the spotlight last Friday with the return of the Content Marketing Show. Held at the Institute of Education’s Logan Hall near Russell Square London, the free event organised by SiteVisibility’s Kelvin Newman saw double the number of visitors of the inaugural show last year.

Positioned at the junction between social media, SEO, and online PR, content marketing at its essence is a commercialisation of content, whereby brands become publishers, and the creation or curation of content drives a commercial outcome – whether its more click-throughs, conversions (i.e. sales), higher consumer engagement or another marketing objective.

Brands must therefore recognise that content creation is a two-way process, that it must support the buying cycle, and that ultimately, it must be designed to convert.

Big business

Quality content has become big business. However, as highlighted by several speakers at the show, creating content is only the first step: it takes effort and planning, it must be highly-targeted, and above all it must tell a good story that elicits an emotional response.

That said, Dan Fielder at Sticky Content argued that it’s not always possible to predict an outcome, thus it pays to practise ‘random acts of kindness’ – especially for business-to-business (b2b) players struggling to fit their marketing to this new content-led reality. His advice is to start small, get some quick wins with the least amount of stakeholder input, and with ROI established, push for greater investment.

Two examples given by Dan were those of a software vendor that spent two years turning questions from its customer service department into ‘how to’ tips that now drive 20 per cent of its website’s traffic, and another specialist vendor who writes a blog based on one of its 73 keywords enabling it to communicate peer-to-peer with its users.

Get analytical

Data collection and analysis was another major theme. Zazzle Media’s Simon Penson explained how content and data have become disparate bedfellows, and how social data in particular adds a layer of richness not seen before in digital marketing. He advised using this intelligence to power a process-driven approach to idea and content generation, and formalised within an editorial calendar to ensure consistency.

‘Get analytical’ was also the message from Red Rocket Media’s Sarah Howard, who examined how key metrics such as people coming in (traffic), engagement (whether content is being shared or commented on), and conversion (impact on the bottom line) can be employed to identify top conversion paths. Given the many social media channels available, Howard’s message was to capitalise on what works and to scrap what doesn’t.

Meanwhile, LinkedIn’s Will Koch discussed how social media sites are becoming a trusted resource for b2b technology decision makers. He said that LinkedIn’s page views around content are growing fast, and discussed how it is employing data analytics to tailor and seed content to the right individuals in a highly-targeted fashion.

Knowing me knowing you

For the brand, social media presents the perfect medium for not just engaging with but getting to know its audience (e.g. look at what they like and share) in order to deliver content that achieves these goals. According to BlueGlass UK’s Pak Hou Cheung, ‘awesome SEO’ can give brands a great head start, but only in getting all of the digital channels to work together holistically and going that extra mile to engage with their audience can they win the ‘game of cat and mouse’ with Google.

A number of speakers provided their top tips for content marketing, and some simple ones were to anchor product links within content, to move social sharing buttons to the top of the page, and to align content with the style of the channel – for example, ensuring that a video clip produced professionally does not jar with the amateur clips posted on video blogging sites and YouTube.

While much of what was covered at the Content Marketing Show might seem straightforward, the point is that it’s not uncommon for brands to lose sight of their core objectives, or indeed basic business principles in their rush to engage – e.g. understanding their audience, using the right data and metrics, and achieving an ROI. In the words of Justin Taylor at Graphitas, do social shares pay the mortgage?

As such, the Content Marketing Show told a powerful story, so well done to all of the speakers, Kelvin and his team, and the show’s sponsors for putting on another fantastic event. A more detailed round-up of each of the presentations is available here. For me, the key themes and takeaways were:

Content creation versus curation

  • Slice, dice and curate (localise, don’t translate)
  • Seed content, build your story, tell it powerfully (only then might it go viral)
  • Make it likeable, emotional, exceptional – nobody shares average

Big data and analytics

  • Data is your friend
  • Metrics are important, but so are outcomes, conversion and ROI
  • Find the right tools to find the right data (and don’t get bogged down)

Understand your audience

  • Use social media to both engage with and listen to your audience
  • Use feedback to create better content
  • Tap into the passions of your audience and crucially, be passionate yourself

Google: what’s all the Plus about?

With 359 million monthly active users, Google Plus is now the second most popular social networking platform in the world. Yet the average visitor spends less than 7 minutes per month on the site. While it is clearly a social […]


31 May
by Aspectus PR

Google Plus for b2bWith 359 million monthly active users, Google Plus is now the second most popular social networking platform in the world. Yet the average visitor spends less than 7 minutes per month on the site. While it is clearly a social network growing in both power and influence, it has been suggested that it is also struggling to attract the large consumer brands that would otherwise ensure more regular and sustained interaction with its audience.

Love it or hate it, we shouldn’t underestimate the capacity of this platform. The key to Google Plus is its integration with other Google products – including Search, Gmail, Calendar and Drive – to create a social platform providing a seamless internet experience. Although brands understand its marketing potential, their target audiences remain more active on established networks such as Facebook and Twitter, which limits the amount of time and effort that businesses are willing to invest in Google Plus.

What is likely to become the game changer is Google’s idea of authorship, whereby the authority of its users and their relationships with one another is used to create a trust-based network. Search results are reprioritised according to the content shared the most, giving savvy marketers the opportunity to directly personalise the search results of people in their extended network, and use this to influence consumers directly.

By creating valuable and shareable content in this way, and then linking this to other relevant material, companies have the opportunity to grow their brand influence and promote thought leadership. And as social signals (likes, shares, mentions and follows) become more influential within Google’s complex search algorithm, it’s the companies that are investing time on the network now that will reap the benefits in the future.

Google’s toolset is particularly relevant for global news agencies. Its videoconferencing tool, Hangouts on Air, allows up to 10 people to join a single conversation. Broadcasts can be streamed live and then stored on YouTube, and this technology has been used by high-profile institutions such as the White House. This interactivity allows content producers to alter their relationship with consumers, and could have a significant impact on the future of journalism.

As such, Google Plus should be viewed as more than just a social network and it’s those companies willing to invest the time laying the groundwork that stand to win as part of a long-term strategy for brand promotion and content marketing.


Building on brand awareness – was AT&T’s ad campaign a howling success or barking mad?

Do you speak werewolf? If you are familiar with the recent AT&T “It’s Not Complicated” commercials, then it’s possible that you just might. And although they may seem a little off the wall, we are not the only ones that […]


28 May
by Aspectus PR

Do you speak werewolf? If you are familiar with the recent AT&T “It’s Not Complicated” commercials, then it’s possible that you just might.

And although they may seem a little off the wall, we are not the only ones that happen to think they’re genius.

The commercials focus on a group of children having a “which is better?” conversation with an adult. The questions asked of the children are basic. Is it better to be fast or slow? Is bigger better? Do you like more or less? The kids provide honest, simple and sometimes downright funny answers that come straight from the heart. They don’t mention AT&T in their responses, and cell phones and wireless networks don’t come into it until the very end.

Indeed, the little girl is convinced the questioning is referring to a werewolf, because if you’re fast, you won’t be bitten by one! Little does she realize that the entire commercial is actually chock full of discreet AT&T messaging, which raises an interesting question regarding brand awareness: Does your main company message or service have to be present each time you advertise, or is it reinforced more subtly by its absence?

In the case of a household name such as AT&T, messaging doesn’t have to be so overt. But that’s not to say that this strategy will work for every firm. For those with less brand recognition, the danger is that the “Hey, have you seen that AT&T commercial?” would instead be “Hey, you know that commercial with the kids?”

Certainly, it’s possible to run a successful campaign that focuses more on concept than message, or vice versa. What’s clear however is that before words are written or concepts are created, it is critical to carefully consider your market presence and how your brand is perceived. Only then can you determine just how creative you can be.