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Welcome to The Stream: Allison+Partners’ content hub that features the latest news and trends making the biggest waves in media and marketing.

APRIL 3, 2020 //     

The Importance of Internal Comms in a Time of Crisis

By Todd Sommers

Crisis-focused organisations must not forget about their people.

Business conditions under COVID-19 continue to evolve rapidly. With more attention focused on business continuity, it’s easy to forget about internal communications. While employees, partners and customers understand you won’t have all the answers, it’s important to show you’re thinking about them. 

The new twist in today’s environment, compared with previous crises, was the rapid transition to WFH for most workers. Your organisation’s stakeholders are isolated, distracted and stressed.

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This situation will test many companies’ cultures, missions and values as employees lose the kinetic energy the physical office generates. Employers need to provide immediate, frequent and ongoing communications from leadership, and the existing content distribution strategy deserves re-examination as stand-ups and company meetings get cancelled and email volume increases.

As we move from the immediate shock of our current situation, consider communications in the longer-term period of isolation and the eventual return to a new normal. Each chapter of this story needs a fresh approach.

Here are steps to consider as the story evolves:

  • Do your people see and hear regularly from your leadership? And do your leaders communicate in different channels? You might suddenly need a microsite, YouTube channel or digital company meeting. Or, you might need executives to create content on their smartphones where quick edits can add polish.
  • Do you focus your communications on the human element that addresses your employees’ emotions and realities? In a time crunch, talking points might get cut and pasted from one communication to another, but this is something you’d never do in person without context. Keep your humanity front and centre.
  • Are there ways to turn previous office customs into virtual experiences? Recognising birthdays, marking work anniversaries and brainstorms should not stop because your workforce is distributed. In the near-term, Zoom and other virtual services can help. Even after-work drinks have gone virtual.
  • Do you survey your stakeholder community with quick pulse surveys and deeper assessments to get a better understanding of their emotional well-being and professional needs? Don’t assume you know what employees think because there’s no playbook here, and everyone experiences this individually at home. There might be something easy you can do for working parents who now home-school or for individuals who live alone and face severe isolation.
  • Are you planning communications for the new normal? It may be weeks from now, but employees will want assurances it’s safe. The patches built to address today’s issues might need to shift again.
  • Do your people managers have the tools and skills to manage a remote team? Compared with face-to-face meetings, a lot can get lost in email. Make sure your team has the support they need to communicate with employees and help them through this situation.

J.W. Marriott said, “If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers and your business will take care of itself.” The hospitality legend knew who had the biggest impact on his organisation – the people on the front lines. 

In this difficult situation, take some time out of your day to care for them.

If you'd like to sign up for our weekly COVID-19 updates, click here 

Todd is a senior vice president at Allison+Partners, where he leads a team of integrated marketers and brings together multi-disciplinary campaign elements to create compelling programs for clients.

APRIL 2, 2020 //     

Four Ways for Brands to Succeed After COVID-19

PRWeek

By Brent Diggins 

Prepare now for a strong post-pandemic marketing and communications strategy.

In this tumultuous time, we can agree on two things; there are knowns, and there are unknowns.

In both the pandemic itself and in a post-pandemic business world, unknowns cause panic and anxiety. While the best and brightest minds in medicine throughout the world will solve the healthcare challenge, the best and brightest minds in marketing should work to solve the marketing challenge.

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The questions loom large: Will my funnel dry up? How will customers react? Will we have to reduce spend now and increase it later? What are my quickest times to impact? How can I accelerate deals? How is my brand or company going to rise above the noise? What are my competitors doing?

The questions are endless, but they don't have to remain unanswered. At this time, marketers and communicators should immediately rely on research, insights and optimisation to fuel a strong post-pandemic marketing and communications strategy.

Here are four easy-to-implement, quick-to-conclusion steps marketers can take to formulate a winning post-pandemic plan in what will likely be a hyper-competitive marketplace:

Run a quick marketing mix model (MMM), including time lag, to optimise spend. Once a costly, long-to-insight function, MMM can now produce results in days or weeks. If you haven't run an MMM exercise in a while or never, now is the time. They allow you to discover the channels that produce the most impact so you can allocate funds properly. Brands that know which channels move the needle and move it the quickest will win.

Survey your customers. The pandemic may have permanently or temporarily changed how your customers see your business. Now is the time to learn how they think about your brand, how their purchasing mood may have changed and other insights that can help you formulate a post-pandemic strategy.

Post-pandemic messaging, content and creative testing. Your customer's attitude about your brand, and its place in the world, could very well change in a post-pandemic world. Based on informed insights like customer surveys, you may have to change messaging, content and creative to meet how your customers now think about your industry, brand or product.

Are you going to do it in a bubble? If not, you need to implement testing to ensure you don't miss the mark. Some brands will miss it hard. Don't be one of them.

Improve your industry and competitor insights. Your competitors are up to something and your industry may change, possibly forever. Marketers or communicators that don't monitor their industry and competitors in multiple channels are likely doing their entire organisation a disservice, at best.

A post-pandemic world may be the same, or it may be different. You can't assume either. Therefore, the brands that invest in research, insights and optimisation today will be the ones that accelerate the fastest in a post-pandemic world.

Brent Diggins is managing director of measurement and analytics and can be reached at brent@allisonpr.com.

MARCH 31, 2020 //     

Brands, Don’t Forget Your Charities - They Can Help Too

By Scott Pansky


Sometimes it takes a crisis to bring people together. I can’t think of one bigger than COVID-19. It impacts everyone, whether you represent a company, cause or university. We have not seen anything like this in a century, and its effect on the economy is staggering.  

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Yet, brands continue to step up. They donate cash and supplies to numerous organisations, such as The Trussell Trust and Shelter , as well as to their local food banks and support networks. We have even seen brands change their business models, like Dysonwhich is now pivoting to make ventilators.  

However, many companies are unable to help. They need to help themselves. They need ways to reach their customers when the media is focused on the current news. They need to reach their employees, many of whom are working from home for the first time. They need new ways to keep their teams engaged and motivated.

Charity partnerships can help make a difference. These cause-related relationships are more than transactional – they are about making an authentic difference, positively impacting both consumers and donors. Here are ways that charities can help support a company:

Indirect access to donors and volunteers – Charities have strong and loyal donors and volunteer databases of individuals who support them. Newsletters and emails can be tapped to recognise a company and share its news as a partner.

Webinars, online content, events and conference calls - Charities are using new ways to communicate and reach their supporters. Whether through Zoom and Skype or social media channels, this is an opportunity for brands to provide thought leadership, guidance and support.

Employee engagement  Companies can build partnership with many different types of charities, whether in the arts, youth activities, health and wellness, etc. Most causes have employee engagement programmes. Traditional walks, runs, golf tournaments and raffles are on hold. However, charities can still host virtual events, post video content and provide tips for exercise, mental health and online projects.

Volunteer projects – Employees can still volunteer their time, even if they do so from home. Companies can work with charity partners to create a call to action, empower team members to make a difference… whether that is through a fundraising campaign, sending get well cards to social care homes and youth organisations, or donating gift cards. Brainstorm fun, easy-to-implement things.

Influencer relations – Don’t forget the power of influencers. Many charities, like brands, have celebrity and social influencers who support their causes. They can create campaigns that offer followers and donors positive tips, activities or a fundraising call to action during this critical time. Through a past A+P whitepaper, Powerful Connections, we found those who followed influencers authentically linked to a brand would either donate or volunteer at a much higher rate (33%) than direct mail. 

Remember, your charities are your partners – they are here for you in times of duress just as your companies are there for them!

If you’re a charity or not-for-profit in need of advice on how to navigate these challenging times, get in touch at scottp@allisonpr.com or sign up for our weekly COVID-19 updates.



Scott is a co-founder of the agency and leads Allison+Partners’ Social Impact group. Scott has extensive experience providing communications and crisis counsel to nonprofit organizations and developing board + ambassador training programs.

MARCH 27, 2020 //     

PODCAST: Brand Leadership during the Pandemic - COVID-19

Communication has never been more important as the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the world. In just a few weeks, all aspects of the way we live our lives has changed. No surprise then that every aspect of marketing and communications needs to change too. 

Andrew is joined in the London studio by Jill Coomber, Jim Selman and Heike Schubert to discuss brand leadership at a time of global crisis, and how to ensure your brand is putting the health and wellbeing of your customers, and the world, first. Together we pose the question: What will your brand be remembered for when this is all over? 

Like our podcast? Why not leave us a review? Want to know more about how we can support you during COVID-19? Get in touch.

MARCH 27, 2020 //     

Harnessing the Power of the Supermarket Isle During COVID-19

By Cheryl Weissman


Supermarket shelves have been in the news a lot lately. They’ve become the star of countless COVID-19 headlines for good reason. They’re a source of comfort and relief as consumers stock their cupboards and fridges with their favourite foods and drinks to prepare for self-isolation and quarantines. They’re also a source of stress and anxiety when found empty, in disarray and out of fan-favourites or other essentials.

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As a result, the brands and companies behind the products on shelf are in a paramount position. They have a unique and fleeting opportunity to connect with consumers in a way that helps settle and bring them comfort – something much needed during a time when there are more questions than answers.

As brands take advantage of this opportunity to connect with consumers in a new way, it’s critical they tread lightly. There is heightened awareness about how to communicate – and there is a right and wrong way to do it. Following are a few guidelines for brands and communicators to consider as they decide how to engage with consumers during this time.

Give Back. 

Food + beverage brands that have experienced a surge in sales as consumers stock their cupboards can use funds and resources to support those who struggle. Brands that can do their part to give back, must do so with no strings attached. Whether consciously or not, consumers want brands to step up, and being a good corporate citizen during this global pandemic will have a lasting impact on how consumers think about and support brands in the future.  


Continue to Share Brand News, But Be Authentic.

As food + beverage brands rethink their social media tone and content strategy to respect sensitivities, many use these channels to highlight scheduled product launches and find ways to relay their messages in an appropriate manner that is careful, considerate and relevant in today’s challenging environment. Brands looking to introduce new products or SKUs can still do so by leaning into a tone focused on bringing more lightness and brightness to the world, while also responding more directly to the pandemic and acknowledging the current issues the public faces. 

Encourage At-Home Brand Engagement. 

There is a tremendous uptick in sharing creative food dishes families make at home due to widespread social distancing recommendations. This introduces opportunities for food and drink brands to source creative recipes that tap into ingredients many already have at home and can test, create and enjoy. Consider leveraging a network of friendly social influencers who still develop unique content for their channels to help co-create these recipes and push out widely. Or consider taking it a step further and use social listening to identify consumers using your product and send out surprise-and-delight mailers with product to deepen the relationship.

Over-Communicate.
 

Consider leveraging social media to keep consumers up to date on product availability to combat disappointment at the shelf. Use this channel to share where and when product can be found. Or if possible, consider pivoting to direct-to-consumer product deliveries as needed, even if in a limited capacity.

While the COVID-19 situation evolves, consumers will continue to look to the brands they know and love to find comfort during a trying time. If done with a tone of empathy, humanity and understanding, brands can not only strengthen the bonds they have with current brand advocates, they can also connect with new consumers and make them customers for life.  



If you'd like to sign up for our weekly COVID-19 updates, click here.

Cheryl Weissman brings 15 years of experience to Allison+Partners’ Consumer Brands practice and leads the agency’s food and beverage specialty. She is responsible for the strategic management of account teams within the category across the agency, supervising client activities, providing counsel and helping some of the world's leading food and beverage brands navigate the ever-changing world of public relations.

MARCH 26, 2020 //     

Three Things to Consider When Moving to a Remote Workforce

By Barbara Laidlaw

Businesses in the UK and around the world are implementing continuity plans that involve employees working remotely. Regardless of how well prepared your business is in making this transition, there are steps you can take to ensure that the day-to-day activities of your company remain as undisrupted as possible.

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Set Clear Expectations and Engage Regularly.

Once the decision has been made to direct your employees to work remotely, increased and effective communication between managers and their employees will be critical to keeping your business running and your employees confident. Make sure to set clear expectations with your team on how you will work together remotely on projects. One way to immediately bolster your internal communications is to require more frequent check-ins. If an employee usually provides a daily report or in-person meeting with their manager, increasing that to two or even three touchpoints can keep everyone on track without adding undue stress to the system. Putting a premium on video conferencing or internal communications programs like Slack or Microsoft Teams is an effective way to make productive remote work more feasible.

Along with circulating business-specific communications materials, companies should also provide their employees with up-to-date information regarding COVID-19, gov.uk and WHO guidelines and company policies. This will improve internal processes because it ensures everyone has access to the same materials. This will also serve to reassure a remote workforce during uncertain times.   


Assess Your Current Internal Communication Strategy.

Your leadership team will also need to make changes in how they perform their day-to-day tasks. During a situation like this, leadership teams may need to communicate with each other, their direct reports and all employees more frequently. This can be done through company-wide emails, conference calls, newsletters or other forms of mass communication. Whatever the platform is for this communication, making sure that employees do not feel like they are in the dark or at risk is key. Leaders should also be aware that this type of sudden change will often times not go smoothly. Some employees will require different accommodations than others, such as technical assistance or special schedules. Working with your employees to develop a work from home plan that actually works for them will reduce disruptions in your business operations.  


Identify Key Metrics to Track for Success.

Leadership teams are already reviewing and updating crisis plans that address an employee, a member of the leadership team or their family members testing positive for COVID-19. This will require increased communication between members of the leadership team and key stakeholders. Ideally, the C-Suite has already reviewed and put in place business continuity plans should an executive fall ill and will be planning messaging for both internal and external stakeholders. Financial impact is no less a consideration during a pandemic than protecting a company’s most important asset – their employees.

In order to ensure success, the leadership team as well as employees will need unfettered access to the tools they use daily in an office setting, including access to all internal databases, customer delivery systems and Human Resources tracking programs. It may be necessary initially to check performance by a group or single employee on a more frequent basis to be able to assess issues before they become ongoing problems. Regular utilisation and performance check-ins must be maintained, and frequent customer and stakeholder check-ins will help measure productivity and ensure success.

There is still much we do not know about the extent of the spread of COVID-19, both in numbers and in timeline. The best practice any businesses’ leadership team can take is to ensure constant and clear communication from the top-down, create contingencies for identified risks and focus on maintaining as normal day-to-day as possible given the fluidity of this situation.




If you'd like to sign up for our weekly COVID-19 updates, 
click here.

Barbara Laidlaw brings 25 years of experience developing and running programmes that help companies prepare, protect, and defend their brand reputation through global and national events, recalls, litigation, data breaches, regulatory issues and labour disputes

MARCH 9, 2020 //     

You’ve invested in data-driven marketing… but is the team using it truly equipped for success?

By Lizzy Chesters 

As the sheer volume of data creation reaches unmanageable levels, the need for data skills has never been more crucial for businesses. Forrester calculates that between 60 to 73% of all data within an enterprise goes unused for analytics. In its ‘Dynamics of data science skills’ report, The Royal Society revealed demand for UK workers with specialist data skills has more than tripled over the last five years.

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And marketing departments are not immune to this problem. In fact, our latest piece of research found one of the largest obstacles for marketing departments to become more data-driven was the lack of in-house talent with the correct skill set. But with marketing teams’ spending on data and analytics topping the list of investment priorities, according to the Gartner CMO Spend Survey 2019-2020, how can these departments be sure they have the right people in place to actually use this technology to its full potential? Companies must match any investment in technology and data tools with people who have the necessary skills to get the most value from it.

Since marketers often traditionally do not come from a data science background, this can be tricky. But a combination of in-house training and external support can set them on the path to success.

Training the entire team

When investing in any data analytics tool, thorough and ongoing training on its capabilities is imperative. But using and understanding the role of data cannot be left up to one single individual: the entire team must train to get up to speed on the tools the organisation has invested in. The power of data analytics shines through in collaboration. Everyone needs to have at least a basic level of data literacy so they can understand the data they encounter day to day and how it ladders up to the bigger story.

If budget is an issue, one way around it is to identify an individual who is truly enthusiastic about data, effectively an evangelist, who can lead and educate the rest of the team. They can act as the point of call for any questions or difficulties their peers may encounter when getting to grips with new tools. Of course, it is important to reward this person for their contribution, whether that be financially or through company-wide recognition.

That said, companies cannot neglect the soft skills. Setting aside time to educate creatives on the data being collected and what it means will pay dividends when they need to interpret the data to come up with first-rate campaigns driven by insight rather than gut feel.

Attracting the right talent

When seeking the right skills from outside the organisation, many companies fail to hire the right talent because they don’t have a comprehensive understanding of the mix of technical skills and data expertise they need. As a result, they do not use analytics professionals and data scientists to their full potential, wasting their time on activities they are overqualified for.

To avoid this problem, companies need to take more effort when hiring new employees and give additional thought to exactly what skills the role requires. This step is critical and should not be rushed. A company needs to be clear about where and how it can benefit from analytics professionals and data scientists and then be explicit about how it defines success with potential candidates. The first step is to include required data skills in every job description. Secondly, during the interview process, they must thoroughly question candidates about their ability to use data directly linked to the company’s data objectives. This way, every new hire will serve to help cultivate a cohort of data experts, whose knowledge can percolate throughout the organisation and help boost their peers’ skills.  

Leverage your partners

Unfortunately, it can take hefty investment in training new talent and acquiring tools to make any impact on improving data and analytics utilisation. When in a pinch, seeking a third party with the right experience can act as a quick and easy source of expertise to get your data analytics function off the ground. Laying the foundations for great insight and analytics is something our dedicated research and measurement teams do day in, day out.

Ultimately, unused data is a valuable untapped resource that organisations cannot fail to take advantage of. Yet without the right individuals in their midst to make sense of this information, businesses are at risk of pouring money down the drain when investing in cutting-edge data analytics technology. As the volume of data worth analysing multiplies every day, companies simply don’t have time to sit back and wait for a solution. Technology must work hand in hand with talent to ensure the best return on investment, whether it be in-house or through great agency-client collaboration.

To understand other ways your marketing team can get the most value from their data, check out our Turning Data into Marketing Gold research report or drop us an email at DataDetectives@allisonpr.com.

Lizzy Chesters is an Account Director in Allison+Partners' London Office. 

FEBRUARY 20, 2020 //     

Top tips: Scaling your marketing in Europe in 2020

By Jess Docherty

Europe is a thriving home to an array of different cultures, languages and economies, so knowing where and how to focus budgets and resources can be challenging. A one-size-fits-all approach won’t wash. From content localisation to product positioning, each market needs its own finely tuned strategy to successfully drive business performance.   
 

We interviewed some of A+P’s key leaders, with a proven track record of growing companies to success in European markets, for their top tips to grow business in the region in 2020.  

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How do you grow a business in Europe? 

Jill Coomber, Managing Director of Integrated Marketing, Europe  

The key to great growth rests on data and insights. Really understanding the market, the key trends, the hotspots, where the ‘white space’ exists for your offer and insights into your specific audiences and their behaviours are all vital. You can ultimately see how much of a product or service you can sell into a particular geography, at what price point and with what messaging to which variation of your audience. Being able to focus and prioritise driven by this data and insight means you can scale rapidly, and drive ROI more efficiently.  

Plan to scale as rapidly as you can build your team and infrastructure. Team experience is a vital component here. You can either recruit the talent who can bring this knowledge or hire agencies with the right skill sets.  

Understand the power of local language. Working in a single language is often easy whilst focusing on the early adopter and innovator audiences but you reach a ceiling where language is a blocker. Translations and bringing in true localisation into play is an art rather than pure science. Again, experience plays a big part in getting this right: being able to regionalise and localise in an optimum way. Given so many products are in fact experiences nowadays getting omnichannel customer service in local language to resonate is also critical to growth.  

 

How do you stay on top of the trends in Europe?  

Heike Schubert, General Manager, Germany 

My day starts with reading two newspapers every morning, I try my best to always have my eyes and ears open to daily news from politics to culture and sport. Don’t only live in your bubble, everything can spark innovation and ideas – stay curious and don’t just stick to communications or marketing news. I listen out for conversation everywhere, from the grocery store to new podcasts so I can get a rounded understanding of everything from what is driving our economy to what gets people talking.  

In Europe, you have to be aware of cultural backgrounds and societal norms. Self-awareness is key to help you and your business interact with stakeholders in other markets. Take steps to identify your own patterns and understanding while building up your knowledge of other cultural backgrounds. What can seem like small differences in phrasing, meanings and expectations can cause unnecessary damage and confusion. It’s not always about changing how you do things, but it is always about understanding the actual needs and desires of the opposite party. In international communications a key misunderstanding is that you have to adapt or assimilate, but that’s not what helps you in business, it’s about being transparent, authentic without prejudice or judgement of the other party.   

How do you start to build up a network for recruitment and new business in Europe? 

Jim Selman, Partner, Managing Director, UK + Ireland 

My biggest piece of advice is don’t try to switch on talent at short notice but build up a network of entrepreneurial people over time. Investing in your network and building trust in partners and talent allows you to have a surgical understanding of their capabilities, allowing you to work effectively in the region.   

Focus on building trust and camaraderie, and as much as possible be there face to face to get to know their struggles and ambitions. Make sure your connections feel like friends and colleagues even if they aren’t directly part of your organisation, as this will ensure that when things heat up, your extended team will have your back.  

I always remember the Scout Motto: Be Prepared. Even if you don’t need/cannot afford to invest in a particular skill set or service now, be prepared and build up a swiss army knife of options for when the need arises. 

How important is it to stay connected to your brand values as you expand into new territories?  

Cathy Planchard, Global President of Integrated Marketing 

The value that we place on our company's core values is what differentiates us from other large and mid-sized agencies. These values stand the test of time and drive our approach to the business, the brands we align with, who we hire and how we think. It creates the guardrails for a healthy, productive and satisfying employer-employee relationship.    

Keeping culture first is a high priority, but it is no easy feat. It requires a mindset and a commitment by hiring managers and leadership of all levels.  We’ve joked that we have a ‘no jerk’ policy, but we mean it. It can be so easy to look at someone's experience or background and want to make a hire, but if their perspective of how they do the work, how they treat their team, and how they approach client service is not aligned with our organisation’s values, it will cause more long-term harm than good.    

  Every market has a unique perspective and backdrop. As an example, the media landscape is incredibly different in Europe than it is in the US, which impacts how we think about the available channels of communication. But the tenets of what makes for a great story are universal: emotional and rationale resonance and empathy for the audience.  

 

 Be prepared!   

Every European market has its own nuances, behaviours and preferences. Every business is different, but one thing is clear: careful preparation is key. Investing in research and insights, quality localisation, strategic talent and impactful storytelling will set you up for scalable success. 

Jess Docherty is a senior digital account manager in Allison+Partners’ London office.

JANUARY 10, 2020 //     

PODCAST: Turning data into marketing gold

Are you using data effectively in your marketing and communications strategies? To accompany the launch of our new research report "Turning data into marketing gold", The Stream UK is back with an extra special bonus episode.

Andrew is joined in the London studio by Account Director Lizzy Chesters to discuss the results of our recent survey of UK and German marketing managers, as well as how and why data is so key to marketing strategies. If you're worried the data you have is going to waste, this is the episode for you.

Like our podcast? Why not leave us a review? And don't forget you can always find out more about the team here at Allison+Partners at www.allisonpr.co.uk.


JANUARY 10, 2020 //     

6 marketing podcasts you should subscribe to in 2020

By Andrew Rogers

A new year and a new decade have dawned. January is all about self-improvement, whether it’s exercising more, eating more healthily or focusing on mental well-being. All well and good, but what about improvement when it comes to our expertise as communication professionals? In our opinion, the new year is the perfect time to learn something new and level up your communication strategy.

One of the best ways to get easy-to-digest insight and analysis is through podcasts. Make the most of your morning commute or afternoon jog by learning something new. Here are the top six podcasts you should subscribe to in 2020:

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Marketing Week

Anyone working in the field of marketing and communications is already no doubt aware of Marketing Week. But do you tune in to its regular podcast? Each week, Marketing Week’s award-winning editorial team discuss key topics and are joined by some of the most interesting guests across the industry.

Listen on Google Podcasts.

Marketing Over Coffee

Get your weekly fix of marketing news and analysis from marketing experts John Wall and Christopher Penn. At 20 minutes in length, it’s the perfect podcast for learning something new while drinking your morning cup of joe.

Listen on Google Podcasts.

Internet Marketing Podcast

Looking to get the most from your digital and search engine marketing? Listen to the UK’s most popular internet marketing podcast as their hosts share insider tips and practical advice you can bring to your campaigns.

Listen on Google Podcasts.

The GaryVee Audio Experience

Hosted by Vayner Media CEO and public speaker Gary Vaynerchuk, this podcast includes interviews, discussions, keynote experiences and fireside chats. If you want the more personal touch with a mix of advice for entrepreneurs, this is the podcast for you.

Listen on Google Podcasts.

Duct Tape Marketing

One from across The Pond, Duct Tape Marketing is hosted by U.S. small business marketing expert John Jantsch. With interviews from authors, experts and thought leaders, this is a great place to start for smaller businesses kicking off their marketing strategies in 2020.

Listen on Google Podcasts.

The Stream UK

Get all the latest news and analysis from Allison+Partners in London with The Stream UK. We might be biased, but we think this is the best podcast on this list and a must listen in 2020. Not tuned in yet? You can catch up on all Season One below!

 





The Stream Podcast can be downloaded via Spotify and iTunes.

Andrew Rogers is an account director in Allison+Partners’ London office.

JANUARY 9, 2020 //     

Marketing & communications predictions for 2020 from Allison+Partners

By Lizzy Chesters

Reflecting on 2019, a number of trends and new communications platforms emerged that will have a lasting impact on the future of the industry -- the colossal rise of TikTok, growing climate and sustainability concerns, and the proposed removal of the like count on Instagram, to name a few. But as we dust off our crystal ball, what can we expect to see in the PR and Marketing world throughout 2020?

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Push the Podcast

We already see clients recognise the value of podcasts, with some taking the decision to record their own. And with around 7.1 million people in the UK now listening to podcasts each week, according to Ofcom figures, it’s unsurprising that brands want to take advantage of this popular channel.

Google has also recognised this trend. It has already started making podcasts easier to find on the search platform. The company will now surface individual podcast episodes in search results. So, if someone searches for a show about a particular subject, Google will show them potential podcast episodes that match their enquiry. This will only help fuel the popularity of podcasts as a marketing channel next year.

Video on a Wider Scale

In 2020, more organisations will incorporate video into their communication of news announcements. On the mainstream news websites, there is often video content at the top of the page, where the article sits underneath it. We know images have been important for a while. But until now, video has been somewhat neglected. However, the internet is the second most popular platform for news consumption, according to Ofcom, with 66% of UK adults saying they used it for news in 2019. So, it makes sense that businesses will create their own videos to complement their own news stories.

Influencers Get Corporate

Influencers have become an integral part of most consumer campaigns. But in 2020, we will likely see the use of influencers in the B2B space become far more prevalent. B2B influencers are useful for communicating messages on a more personal level and are particularly effective as part of LinkedIn campaigns to help amplify a brand’s messaging and content. They can also be used for endorsing research, attending company events, inviting company spokespeople to be a guest on their podcast, writing blogs for the corporate website or publishing an article for an outlet they regularly write for.

Advance Employee Advocacy

The idea of social purpose and communicating what brands care about has never been more important. In 2020, we will see more of a focus on how brands can use their employees to push that goal. Trust has become more of an issue for employees too. However, problems with company culture now get exposed by news outlets and on social media (take the recent Google protests as an example). To mitigate against staff expressing detrimental opinions on their social channels, brands need to plan to mitigate that through greater employee advocacy.

The Problem of Private Social Platforms

In 2019, brands realised the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are not the be-all and end-all of social media platforms. Young people spend less time publicly broadcasting their lives online and have moved to channels such as WhatsApp group chat to share experiences of a product or brand in smaller private spaces. The challenge: how can marketers measure this? To combat the problem, marketers will need to be smart about the KPIs they want to measure at the outset of a campaign.

Becoming Data-Driven

More data than ever before will be created in 2020. But what is the point in having all this information if it cannot be used effectively? Over the next 12 months, we will see a more concerted effort by marketers to harness the power of data and greater investment in data analytics tools. Fortunately, new research from Allison+Partners - Turing Data into Marketing Gold - found 81% already invest in augmented or advanced analytics. This is in line with global trends. According to the Gartner CMO Spend Survey 2019-2020, data and analytics tops the priority list of investments for the future.

Coming up on the agenda are the Olympics in Japan, presidential elections, the next season of Love Island and more. And these key events are likely to play a key role in campaign planning. As we move through 2020, it will be fascinating to see if any of the aforementioned trends materialise or if any unexpected technologies or industry upsets emerge.


Lizzy Chesters is an account director in Allison+Partners' London office.

AGENCY NEWS // DECEMBER 19, 2019 //     

The benefits on becoming more data-driven and the use of AI in marketing

Credit: EGRSue Grant, managing director B2B tech at Allison+Partners, explains what the real benefits are of becoming more data-driven and what we can expect to see from greater use of AI by marketers going forward READ MORE
AGENCY NEWS // DECEMBER 19, 2019 //     

Turning Data into Marketing Gold

Credit: PRCARecent research conducted by Allison+Partners revealed that 39% of the marketing directors surveyed see the cost of technology as a barrier to becoming more data-driven. With budgets either flat-lining or increasing in 2020, will we see an uptick in martech adoption as result? READ MORE
DECEMBER 18, 2019 //     

THE STREAM UK PODCAST





The Stream Podcast can be downloaded via Spotify and iTunes.
AGENCY NEWS // DECEMBER 17, 2019 //     

Marketers: data-driven approach will face obstacles in future

Credit: Just.Marketing

Although a large majority of marketers are confident in their ability to extract insights from data today an even greater number believe future improvements are being held back. That is according to new research by global marketing communications agency Allison+Partners, which surveyed the views of 500 marketing directors in the UK and Germany.

The study concludes that marketers have made excellent progress towards becoming more data-driven.

READ MORE
AGENCY NEWS // DECEMBER 6, 2019 //     

Skills shortages and cost concerns curbing data-driven endeavours

Credit: MyCustomer

While many organisations are making strong progress in becoming more data-driven to improve customer engagement, most businesses still report significant barriers preventing them from getting the most out of data.

And research based on the input of 500 marketing directors in the UK and Germany conducted by marketing and communications agency Allison + Partners and entitled ‘Turning data into marketing gold’, found that many believe they will face greater obstacles in becoming more data-driven in the future. 

READ MORE
DECEMBER 6, 2019 //     

PODCAST: 2020 Predictions: Here's to the new roaring '20s!

It's time to crack out the crystal ball and gaze into the future as we make our 2020 predictions. What can we expect from the year ahead in the worlds of PR, marketing and communications? 

Andrew is joined in the London studio by Account Director Lizzy Chesters as they break down what's hot and what's not in marketing for a new year and a new decade. From trust in tech to personal branding, we have everything you need to get set for the new roaring '20s. 

Like our podcast? Why not leave us a review? And don't forget you can always find out more about the team here at Allison+Partners at www.allisonpr.co.uk.

The Stream Podcast can be downloaded via Spotify and iTunes.


AGENCY NEWS // DECEMBER 5, 2019 //     

Data siloes ‘holding marketers back’

Credit: Netimperative

New research reveals 98% believe future improvements are held back by data silos, justifying the cost and in-house skills shortage.

Data-driven marketing is vital for today’s marketing teams. But a new report by global marketing communications agency Allison+Partners revealed that while marketers have made progress to becoming more data-driven, nearly all respondents cited numerous barriers preventing them from getting the most out of data.

READ MORE
AGENCY NEWS // DECEMBER 2, 2019 //     

Data goldmine: Brands are just scratching the surface

Credit: Decision MarketingBrand owners have made huge strides in embracing a data-driven marketing culture but most believe they still have some way to go to fully exploit its potential and unearth the golden nuggets which will give their business the cutting edge.

That is one of the key conclusions of a new survey by marketing agency Allison+Partners, which quizzed 500 marketing directors in the UK and Germany about their data strategies. READ MORE
AGENCY NEWS // DECEMBER 2, 2019 //     

Marketers still have further to go on best use of data

Credit: WARC

Marketers have made considerable progress to become more data-driven, yet there remain numerous barriers preventing them from getting the most out of data, a new survey has revealed.

Allison+Partners, the global marketing communications agency, reached this conclusion after working with research firm Censuswide to poll 500 marketing directors in the UK and Germany in October.

READ MORE
AGENCY NEWS // NOVEMBER 29, 2019 //     

MAJORITY OF MARKETERS CLAIM DATA CONFIDENCE BUT HURDLES REMAIN

Credit: Research LiveWhile the majority of marketing directors claim to be assured in their use of data, data siloes, cost and skills shortages are still barriers to departments becoming more data-led, according to research from Allison+Partners. READ MORE
AGENCY NEWS // NOVEMBER 29, 2019 //     

Marketing bosses struggle to get most out of data - report

Credit: Prolific LondonA new report by global marketing communications agency Allison+Partners has revealed that, despite the rise in data driven marketing, many are struggling to get the maximum out of their data.  READ MORE
AGENCY NEWS // NOVEMBER 28, 2019 //     

What’s Preventing Marketers Turning Data Into Gold?

Credit: Marketing Communication News

New research reveals 98% believe future improvements are held back by data silos, justifying the cost and in-house skills shortage.

Data-driven marketing is vital for today’s marketing teams. But a new report by global marketing communications agency Allison+Partners revealed that while marketers have made progress to becoming more data-driven, nearly all respondents cited numerous barriers preventing them from getting the most out of data.

READ MORE
AGENCY NEWS // NOVEMBER 28, 2019 //     

What’s Preventing Marketers Turning Data Into Gold?

Credit: Lovely Mobile NewsData-driven marketing is vital for today’s marketing teams. But a new report by global marketing communications agency Allison+Partners revealed that while marketers have made progress to becoming more data-driven, nearly all respondents cited numerous barriers preventing them from getting the most out of data. READ MORE
AGENCY NEWS // NOVEMBER 28, 2019 //     

What’s Preventing Marketers Turning Data Into Gold?

Data-driven marketing is vital for today’s marketing teams. But a new report by global marketing communications agency Allison+Partners revealed that while marketers have made progress to becoming more data-driven, nearly all respondents cited numerous barriers preventing them from getting the most out of data.

The survey, which included input from 500 marketing directors in the UK and Germany, showed that...

READ MORE
NOVEMBER 27, 2019 //     

What will be on Gen Z Christmas lists in 2019?

By Andrew Rogers


Have you noticed something a little different recently? Something about your last trip to the shops? Perhaps it’s something you’ve heard?

If you’ve been shopping this week, chances are you’ve heard the opening jingle bells of Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You while making your purchase. It’s the annual reminder that the Christmas season is now well underway.

However, for anyone looking to buy Christmas presents for their teenage children (or as we marketing people call them, Generation Z), there’s much more that they want for Christmas.

It’s not just parents though that need to understand what makes Generation Z tick this Christmas. It’s also all brands trying to reach a generation that’s more difficult to reach and less brand loyal than ever before.

So, while you deck the halls, here’s our quick guide for brands looking to make the yuletide bright with Generation Z.

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Select brands with the right values

More than any other generation, Gen Z deeply care about the values that brands have. It’s not just enough to have the best product, it’s now vital to also have values that people want to be associated with. This extends to the online space, where brands that fall down can expect (perhaps rightly) to be called out on social media.

For parents (and brands) getting the right gift also means picking the right company behind the brand. It used to be that you just needed to select the brand that was cool. Now you also need to pick the brand that’s woke.

Don’t forget about the environment

Gen Z are increasingly dreaming of a Green Christmas. While other generations might see Christmas as a chance to splurge and over-indulge, younger generations believe that environmental responsibility needs to extend to every day of the year.

Brands should, therefore, avoid anything this Christmas that comes across as needlessly wasteful or unsustainable. Plastic toys in Christmas crackers are increasingly becoming a thing of the past. It’s about time.

Ownership is less important

It’s been true for a while that younger audiences value experiences over physical items. This is even truer when viewed through the frame of sustainability. Many younger shoppers don’t want throwaway presents and would rather opt for digital products, such as music subscriptions or video games. Similarly, experiences (particularly highly shareable ones) will continue to be a hot trend for Christmas shopping.

Brands still matter though

That all being said, most teenagers will still be putting specific brands on their Christmas lists. Having the ‘right’ brand is still a status symbol, particularly in a world where people feel the need to always share. Take for example the VSCO Girl craze. Named after the popular video editing app, the trend requires very specific brands. Fjällräven backpacks, anyone?

Parents and brands alike need to understand Gen Z if they want to get it right this Christmas. Either that or stick to the socks. You can never go wrong with socks.


Andrew Rogers is an account director in Allison+Partners’ London office.

NOVEMBER 22, 2019 //     

Christmas marketing campaigns that nailed the ‘Big Idea’ in 2019. Here’s what we can learn

By Gina Mossey

Successful ‘Big Ideas’ are composed of three fundamental elements – piercing insight, brand connection, and succinct expression. Without these, few integrated marketing campaigns can pierce through the barrage of noise around the festive quarter and be effective. We’ve selected three Christmas campaigns that have cultivated the ‘Big Idea’.

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IKEA


The Piercing Insight

When it comes to hosting over the festive season, we all have those little voices in the back of our heads that tell us our homes aren’t presentable enough. From the chipped mug, the crack in the wall to the living room without any personality, we all fear our homes are just not up to scratch.

The Brand Connection

IKEA believes every home is worthy of a festive gettogether, with a little imagination and some clever IKEA products. The Swedish furniture monolith has also tapped into a bigger cultural trend by using grime legend, MC D Double E.

The Succinct Expression

The Wonderful Everyday.


MCDONALD'S



The Piercing Insight

Kids all over the world leave snacks out for Santa and his reindeer on Christmas Eve.

The Brand Connection

McDonald’s celebrates the magic of Christmas through the eyes of Ellie, an imaginative little girl, in an advert which illustrates scenes recognised by parents across the country. The fast-food giant also garners lots of PR with the promise of giving out free ‘Reindeer Treats’ to families on Christmas Eve.

The Succinct Expression

McDonald's is back with its 'Reindeer Ready' message – which gives it strong message penetration and allows the marketing team to spend more on the production and execution. Win win!

M&S FOOD



The Piercing Insight

M&S Food provides its customers award-winning quality and innovative food.

The Brand Connection

The delicious M&S Christmas range of food and colleagues are the stars of the show. The Christmas marketing campaign also drives earned media by including M&S Food celebrity panel members Paddy McGuiness and Emma Willis. The duo wanders through a festive market with more than 100 M&S customers and a real school choir from Wales that sings a rework of Fleetwood Mac’s Albatross, the iconic tune behind M&S' 'this is not just any' campaign. Now, where’s my nearest M&S Foodhall?

Succinct Expression

This is not just food; this is M&S Christmas food!

The winning formula for cultivating the ‘Big Idea’ sounds good, but sometimes the light bulb just doesn’t go off. Great ideas are usually the result of a combination of conversations, research, experience – and time. Allison+Partners has designed a ‘Big Ideas Lab’ to help brands connect with culture and creativity that sits in and outside of their organisations. For more information, get in touch with Jill Coomber at LondonOffice@allisonpr.com.


Gina Mossey is an account director in Allison+Partners' London office.

NOVEMBER 21, 2019 //     

PODCAST: Award Winning Campaigns: And the winner is...

What does it mean for a PR or communications campaign to be award winning? And why should we care about awards at all? Thanks to an action packed awards season in the PR world, we've been able to see some amazing campaigns that have brought home the trophies in 2019.

Andrew is joined in the London studio by Account Director Stephanie Libous, part of the UK Dexcom team that recently won big at the PR Week Awards. They discuss some of their favourite campaigns to be recognised, as well as what it means for a campaign to be award winning today. If you're aiming for that trophy in 2020, you should give this a listen.

Like our podcast? Why not leave us a review? And don't forget you can always find out more about the team here at Allison+Partners at www.allisonpr.co.uk.

The Stream Podcast can be downloaded via Spotify and iTunes.


OCTOBER 31, 2019 //     

Brand storytelling with purpose

Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

By Gina Mossey

Storytelling has been a key element of marketing since the industry’s inception. But as customers’ expectations of brand stories consistently evolve, the stakes keep getting higher for marketers.

After decades of being advertised to, modern consumers are more sceptical than ever. Gen Z in particular looks for their brands to have real purpose that gives them a reason to exist beyond making money. Nearly 60% said a brand’s association with a good cause is likely to spur a purchase.

Our recent trip to the PRWeek awards highlighted some fantastic examples of companies that think more laterally to find their purpose and the narrative around it: incredibly powerful stories that truly drive action. As the potential for brands to drive real change gets stronger, here are some pointers we’ve picked up along the way.

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Make sure the story is one shared company-wide

Those who will turn out to be the real drivers of your brand purpose are your exec team and your employees. Good causes are emotive. So, the more you can get a sense of the values your entire company strongly believes in, the more heart your narrative will have.

Surveys and focus groups can work wonders here. Including members of the C-suite at key points in the planning phase will mean they are several steps ahead and truly bought into the cause when it hits the airwaves across PESO channels. Workshops work really well in the early stages of bringing stakeholders together to tackle collaborative message development and creative campaign ideation.

All of this will ultimately give an engaging and consistent narrative that will spark connections with customers and make them want to adopt and share it as their own.

Answer the “why”

This question is more important than ever to answer in the early planning stages. Ask yourself why your brand supports this cause. Does it align with your brand mission and values? Not only that, but does it fit with the vision of your leadership team? Is there real potential for your company to make a difference? Do you have the resources to put behind this to make a measurable impact?

If the answer to any of these is “no”, more needs to be put in place to be able to truly drive the initiative forward. Taking a step back to ask yourselves the difficult questions here is invaluable. Don’t be afraid to take inspiration from those who do it well or speak to contacts in other markets to get an outsider’s perspective.

Think earned-first

As an integrated agency with its DNA in earned, we practice what we preach by bringing in the earned media specialists when working with brand purpose. The story needs to be genuine and evocative for the customer, skills that PR professionals have honed for years by working with journalists to build stories that capture imaginations. If a story is powerful enough to captivate your earned media, it’ll be one that flies when it comes to driving action across paid, shared and owned channels.

Think long term

Brands that have great purpose are those that are in it for the long haul. Once you’ve taken the time to find your “white space” – where your company can really make a difference – take the time to think about active, measurable commitments you can make. With so many brands storytelling around purpose, customers are sceptical of “window dressing”. They want something tangible to prove your cause is something you care about and are committed to doing right. Shoot for a long-term initiative or partnership that can evolve over time over one-off charity gigs.

If this year’s awards season is anything to go by, stories around brand purpose are here to stay. Driving real change is a marathon, not a sprint. We can’t wait to see what both market leaders and startups alike manage to achieve in the next 12 months. To hear more musings, predictions, and trends around storytelling and purpose, check out this month’s edition of The Stream podcast here: http://bit.ly/2MOgkUm.

Gina Mossey is an account director in Allison+Partners’ London office.

 

 

 

AGENCY NEWS // OCTOBER 30, 2019 //     

ICCO reveals 2019 Global Awards shortlist

Credit: ICCOCongratulations to all our entrants for such a strong selection in both the global campaigns and the individual and team Awards. Those that have been shortlisted demonstrated something extra and impressed the judges by showing effectiveness, impact, and results. READ MORE
OCTOBER 25, 2019 //     

PODCAST: Purpose: Keeping it authentic

Do brands need to have a purpose? How can they find it, and importantly make it truly authentic? More than two-thirds of Gen Z consumers will now actively choose brands that have values they want to align themselves with, so it's never been more important to define what your brand's mission is, outside of making money. 

Andrew is joined in the London studio by Account Director Gina Mossey to discuss the best campaigns from the recent PR Week Awards, as well as some thought-provoking pre-dinner speeches. Plus, the two discuss how brands can both make a positive impact on the world and further their communications goals. 

Like our podcast? Why not leave us a review? And don't forget you can always find out more about the team here at Allison+Partners at www.allisonpr.co.uk.


The Stream Podcast can be downloaded via Spotify and iTunes.
OCTOBER 17, 2019 //     

Mental Health: We All Have It

By Emily Spicer

Last week, Allison+Partners hosted a training session in the UK on World Mental Health Day to help raise awareness for mental health issues. During the course led by the MHFA, it was shared that one in four people experience some form of mental health issue in the course of a year.

There is still a stigma associated with mental health, and those suffering are often victims of discrimination, which can lead people to hide their difficulties. This is explored in more detail by the Mental Health Foundation who have said that 38% of Brits fear revealing a mental health problem at work would jeopardise their career. The only effective way of helping break the stigma is by building awareness for the issue and encouraging them to seek support. And the first place this starts is in the workplace. Work is where we tend to spend most of our time, and our colleagues are the people we tend to see the most and who are likely to become our close friends. It makes sense that work should then also be the place where we feel safest.

Programmes that work

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There are many different things that can help with mental wellbeing at work. For example, Supermarket chain Iceland highlights the importance of enjoying a good work-life balance. The retailer looks after employees by providing mental health support for those suffering from work-related stress and offers an Occupational Health Service to provide employees with a fast diagnosis and speedy referrals for treatment.

Barclays encourages staff to tell their own stories through its “This Is Me” campaign, in order to break the culture of silence. They’ve also signed up for “Time to Change,” to support employees facing challenges and normalise mental health issues.

At Allison+Partners, we offer support and resources through platforms like our Employee Assistance Programme, which offers a variation of advice through the confidential free helpline and referrals to mental health specialists who can help with bereavement, financial issues, legal rights, housing, wellbeing, etc. They also have a great app that provides useful articles and discussion pages on a wide range of mental health topics.

Our life insurance provider offers us two confidential helplines, legal issues, and bereavement, but they also offer us four free counselling sessions that can be face-to-face with a professional counsellor. This is a great resource, as professional guidance can be the best tool for recovery but is often one that could cost the individual a lot of money or it can take time to get a referral through the NHS. The sessions are very quick and straightforward to organise, and entirely confidential.

There are so many great resources out there that employees and employers can access. The NHS recently launched its ‘Every Mind Matters’ campaign, which has a short quiz to help you better understand your own mental wellbeing. Other helpful workplace resources include Mind, Mental Health First Aid England, Mental Health At Work and Cruse.

Emily Spicer is an HR advisor in Allison+Partners’ London office.

AGENCY NEWS // OCTOBER 16, 2019 //     

PRWeek UK Awards Winners 2019: Healthcare: Ethical & OTC Consumer

The Healthcare: Ethical & OTC Consumer gong goes to 'Live Your Best Life with Type 1', by Allison+Partners for Dexcom, which successfully raised awareness - even in parliament - of what it means to live with this form of diabetes, while advocating for better education about the condition and affordable medication. READ MORE
SEPTEMBER 25, 2019 //     

Building executive visibility the right way

By Sarah Johns 

 

A strong strategy to build executive visibility starts with a good understanding of the current turbulent state of the communications industry.  

As PR professionals, we know how fast our industry changes. In early September, Marie Claire UK announced its decision to cease print publication. It joined a growing club now operating solely online, including NME and Now. But that’s not the full picture, of course. In the B2B market, we’ve seen Incisive Media close IT magazine V3.co.uk, while the commercial finance publication Bridging and Commercial launched in print. And that’s all happened within the span of a year!

In short, PR professionals must be ready for anything, and so do our execs. So, based on the current media landscape, what’s the best course of action?

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Decide how you will be successful 

It may seem obvious, but before embarking on building executive visibility you should re-visit your company strategy, short- and long-term goals, and the audience you want to target. Update your list of top and tier-one media and identify opportunities in the press that best allows you to build visibility in the right places. Achieving a full page of coverage in a national business supplement won’t be easy, especially if you’re not from a FTSE company. But your C-Suite will still expect you to aim high. 

Prepare the executive 

Involve the executive from the start. If they haven’t had much previous experience with the press, it’s vital to get them media trained. Be clear on what you need from them and what they need from you, be it a list of topics they would never want to comment on or access to their calendar to arrange a media briefing at the drop of a hat. Let your executive know they can trust you not to put them forward for opportunities that aren’t quite the right fit for them or aren’t the right audience for their message and be clear about what the right ones would look like. This helps avoid wasting time on the wrong opportunities and maximises time on the right ones.  

Foster a thought leader 

Encourage your spokesperson to build a voice of their own first on owned channels. Whether it’s having them write a blog post once a month or ensuring they regularly post on their LinkedIn profile, having your exec develop content will put your team in a better position to sell them to media. Blogs can be repurposed and placed as bylines, videos of the executive speaking at a company event can be used to pitch the exec for a seat on a roundtable and comments on news articles can be material for an issues hijack. 

Be clear on what not to do 

Bear in mind that to get the best traction, executive content should be unique but on-brand. Remember that saying the same thing as everyone else isn’t going to grab headlines but being too provocative can undermine credibility and land you in trouble. In today’s digital-first world, it only takes one tweet to ruin a reputation that took years to build.  

Done right, building executive visibility can help develop great brand awareness, authority on topics your company wants to be known for and ultimately boost sales. However, executing it seamlessly requires a plan, preparation, and a story. 

 

Sarah Johns is a senior account executive in Allison+Partners’ London office. 

 

SEPTEMBER 25, 2019 //     

The evolution of the communications agency model: Q&A with Scott Allison

By Ellis Reid and Scott Allison

As Allison+Partners turns 18, we sat down with CEO and founder Scott Allison to discuss the evolution of our agency, our offerings and the way we leverage senior leadership for client accounts. 

How has PR changed since the agency started in 2001? 

Scott: The evolution has been dramatic. In 2001, there was a much heavier emphasis on just media relations, generating press releases, media pitching, and placement. Earned media was a key focus. The lanes were much tighter. Now I joke that all the lanes have been taken out of the pool – it’s a mosh-pit where best ideas win, and it doesn’t matter where they come from. 

When we launched the business, there were a few things we wanted to differentiate in. One was how much we embraced media relations and earned media and continue to do so today. We took the view that every agency says they have great media contacts, but that’s not entirely true. We invested in setting up a separate media department, with folks who are heavily engaged in building those media relationships. 

Do you see that the way we use senior leaders’ time has changed? 

Scott: The idea of having a senior strategist on all accounts is a key differentiator for us. In this environment, you can’t get away with a cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all communications programme. It needs some real thought-provoking insight to be successful. And we’re seeing more and more that clients are seeing the value that senior leadership can bring to the table. 

Is the way our clients behave driving this change and ultimately having a fundamental impact on these offerings? 

Scott: It’s a very competitive world; our clients are under a lot of strain to deliver results. The CMO or the chief comms officer is being held accountable for delivering results and making a true measurable impact on the business. The communications function is now seen as so important, these people are reporting directly to the CEO and have tremendous access to the board. It’s a trend that’s absolutely going to keep continuing. Our clients are craving strategy, and they’re also craving navigation through a very tumultuous communications world. This goes hand in hand with having a counterpart on the agency side who is really smart, strategic and has deep industry experience.  

Where do you see the services lie where we can offer the most value with our senior leadership team? 

Scott: One of the areas we continue to thrive in, and an area I personally lead a lot of, is media training – consistently training senior executives to prepare them for media interviews. That’s since evolved into a presentation offering. Many of our clients are doing major TEDtalks or keynote speeches, and we spend a lot of time working with senior executives to help them to get their storytelling down. 

Continuing on from that would be the strategic insight of messaging; how to build a story arc from early on and clearly putting down a communications roadmap.  

Another area is internal comms. We launched a new product last year called Workplace. And we are already working with several clients in the U.S., helping them with their internal communication to position them as fantastic employers. That also goes in issues and crisis management that we also do a lot on. 

So, we offer value on the strategic side at the forefront, prepping and getting clients engaged in moving forward. But you also have the reactive side. There could be a crisis or issues management piece and getting these two sides aligned can sometimes be a challenge. 

In a recent pitch, we presented a strategy using an American football analogy, explaining that you need to build your offense and your defense. And if you get mired in issues management or a crisis, usually the proactive piece completely falls apart. But we talked about an approach where you have both an offense and a defense to make sure the proactive approach never stops no matter what.  

So why is A+P best placed for providing these services over someone in a more traditional consulting role for instance? 

Scott: Being grounded in communications and PR has always given us the opportunity to see different insights for a company. It was then a very natural progression to move into more integrated offerings. Since then, we have continued to expand and invest in the company. 

We bought a film company; they are now doing world-class film production all around the world. We’ve built a research and analytics group from the ground up and invested heavily into those platforms. We’ve brought in creative talent; people that really understand content and are well-versed in the social media aspect. Then we have people who have come from the ad and planning world to ensure we have all the pieces of the puzzle available to our clients.  

There is an incredibly rich diversity of experience within the agency. If you look at a lot of the hires we’ve made over the last two years, a number of them come from the advertising or research sector, which is vastly different from 18 years ago when we were looking at former journalists to form the backbone of the company.  

We also see the global element being extremely important, having local talent all over the world in our 30 offices. We are increasingly going after big global brands. And what we find is once we start working with them and build a trusted relationship, we can grow into other markets. Underwriters Laboratory is a great example of this. We’ve worked with them for almost seven years, and they now work with 20 different offices throughout the A+P network.  

Why should clients choose A+P overtaking these skills in-house? 

Scott: Agencies are incredibly well-positioned because we can deliver this expertise in all the things we have invested in. We have a production company, animation studios in Thailand and a very sophisticated offering in San Francisco. But how do you replicate that in-house? Bringing in a freelance videographer is great, but you won’t be able to deliver what we can deliver. Taking these skills in-house you have a very myopic view. As an outside observer, we see ourselves as someone that has to give very candid, sometimes critical feedback that has to be heard at the highest levels.  

This is a golden era for communications agencies.  

Looking to the next 18 years, what can we expect? 

Scott: 18 years can be a lifetime. The speed of change is being driven by technology as well as how the media landscape has collapsed in many ways and rebuilt itself in other ways. The impact of AI and data analytics and similar areas are going to advance at the speed of sound. It’s going to be difficult for some of the smaller agencies to keep up with this, so we have been investing back in the business to prepare us for these changes.  

For us, we’ll continue to grow. We haven’t even scratched the surface yet. We represent some of the world’s best brands, but it will be up to us and our leadership team to not take our eye off the ball.

We need to focus on what got us here; hiring great people, empowering people to be entrepreneurial and grow their careers and keep an eye on the technology and investments to know what will truly be impactful.  

 

Ellis Reid is a senior account director in Allison+Partners’ London office. 

 

SEPTEMBER 25, 2019 //     

Not prepared? You’re asking for a crisis!

Photo by Kai Pilger on Unsplash

By Jim Selman


As we enter the 50th year of the PRCA here in the UK, we have been reminiscing with industry leaders about what PR was like back in the day and marvelling at how the sector has professionalised over the years. Based on the evolution of the industry, we all have come to expect that crisis preparedness is at the foundation of every reputation strategy. But that is not always the case.

It is common knowledge that a strong reputation can drive value and that a serious crisis can sometimes erase a business altogether. In addition, the prevalence of crises is increasing.  According to the 2018 Deloitte Annual Crisis Survey, 80% of organisations worldwide reported having to mobilise their crisis management teams at least once in the previous two years.

Unexpectedly, another consulting firm found companies can actually come out stronger after a crisis. However, 41% of those companies that came out in a better place allocated budget to crisis management before the crisis hit – and 39% actually saw their revenues grow as a result. Preparedness works. The same survey showed by a margin of nearly 2-to-1, organisations with a response plan in place fared better than those who didn’t. More importantly, those who keep their crisis plans up to date and implement the lessons learned are four times more likely to come out on top.

Years ago, a huge amount of time was often spent drafting and redrafting crisis documents that when finally prepared, would need to be specially bound and carried with both arms using a safety belt to avoid severe back problems. Those huge static documents would then sit on a shelf decaying slowly and only made accessible to a small group of specially trained people. Then when the crisis arose, the team, contact information, and the response were all out of date.

So, what does preparedness look like?

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It needs to be collaborative, exhaustive and always on.

The Deloitte survey showed 21% of companies with board participation in the crisis management plan say the number of crises has declined over the last decade. Among companies without board involvement, only 2% believe this to be true. Senior leadership in any organisation must collaborate in the planning process and be as visible as possible during the crisis itself. As mentioned previously, a crisis is a crucial moment where trust can either be lost, mitigated or even increased depending on how those with the greatest responsibility act in front of their stakeholders. It is not good enough for communicators to have drafted and rehearsed, business leaders also need to feel a level of responsibility in the creation of their crisis response.

In EMEA, Deloitte also found almost 80% of respondents participate in crisis exercises with third parties, examine third parties’ crisis plans or both. Again, the outdated principle that only the communicators inside a client organisation should have visibility to and responsibility for their crisis plan is short-sighted and ineffective. Teams should collaborate both inside and out to plan and test their processes, not simply to ensure a joined-up approach (e.g. throughout the supply chain) but also to get a valuable external opinion.

Crises certainly aren’t a laughing matter. But sometimes there are a few wry smiles in the room when trying to wade through a scenario planning session, discussing every possible awful situation however obscure they may sound at the time. Crises have become more volatile as mass communication has evolved. These days, a relatively small issue can snowball into a massive ongoing nightmare within an hour. Therefore, regardless of what constitutes a “red light” crisis for an organisation, it is important to prepare for EVERYTHING.

Finally, it is important to be always on. This doesn’t mean walking around the office in a tin hat. But wise investment in people and technology allows organisations to regularly train, monitor and analyse to be best prepared. Crisis training is a team sport and should be conducted as such with senior leaders, communicators and other key stakeholders all practicing together.

Organisational strategy, processes, and responses should be kept in digital form and tested several times a year, so they can be easily adjusted and deployed. In a crisis, timing is everything. Training must push everyone involved to work efficiently and ensure monitoring services are up to scratch, always on and plugged into the response process. External monitoring work with human analysis is sometimes overlooked, but it may still be one of the most important tasks undertaken on behalf of an organisation.

The ever-increasing probability of a crisis means readiness is everything. The better prepared an organisation is to take on a crisis, the greater the opportunity is to not only protect its reputation but to rebuild the trust that puts the organisation in a better place.

 

Jim Selman is the UK MD in Allison+Partners’ London office.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER 16, 2019 //     

PODCAST: Value Added Services: Featuring special guest Scott Allison

Happy Birthday Allison+Partners! We’re 18 years old today, and to celebrate Andrew is joined by a very special guest in our London studio. Global Chairman, CEO and Founder Scott Allison is here to talk about how the industry has changed over the last two decades, and what impact that has had on the services that we offer our clients.

From speaker training and strategy, to crisis communications and video development, the services that agencies like A+P offer are more diverse than ever before. What does that mean for our clients, and how has the relationship between in-house and agency changed for the better?

Like our podcast? Why not leave us a review? And don't forget you can always find out more about the team here at Allison+Partners at www.allisonpr.co.uk.



The Stream Podcast can be downloaded via Spotify and iTunes.
AGENCY NEWS // SEPTEMBER 10, 2019 //     

PRCA National Awards 2019: Allison+Partners shortlisted

Credit: PRCA READ MORE
AUGUST 28, 2019 //     

Not playing around: What was new at Gamescom 2019

Not playing around: What was new at Gamescom 2019

By: Andrew Rogers

If you’re looking for a visual example of just how big the games industry is, look no further than Gamescom. Held in Cologne, Germany, Gamescom is Europe’s biggest video games conference and convention. It’s rivalled only by E3 in Los Angeles and has drawn brands and fans from around the world since 2010.

Gamescom blends business and fun, with a specified “business area” and “entertainment area.” On one side is a relatively traditional looking B2B trade show, while the other side hosts more than 350,000 passionate fans who have come to try out the latest and greatest games and upcoming releases.

As the industry has evolved, so too has Gamescom. Having attended this year’s conference, here are the main trends we saw (in-between playing the latest Pokémon and Zelda games).

Big tech is now big gaming

Big and recognisable brands are everywhere you look at Gamescom. Nintendo, Microsoft and PlayStation all had massive stands, both in the business- and consumer-focused areas of the show. Square Enix also had a noticeably big presence for its upcoming Avengers and Final Fantasy games, as did EA for FIFA 20.

More surprising was the greatly increased muscle of brands traditionally not in the world of gaming. Facebook and Google in particular really upped their footprint – with Google even bringing its own three-story slide!

Of course, this is all in anticipation of both companies launching brand new gaming platforms. In Facebook’s case, it’s the launch of Oculus Quest, which shrinks down powerful VR into a headset with no wired connection. For Google, it’s the launch of cloud-based virtual console Stadia. Big tech is now also big gaming.

And it’s not just new hardware. Both Facebook and Google heavily pushed their streaming and publishing platforms, looking to attract more high profile and aspiring game streamers to their sites and take a bite out of current market leader Twitch.

Missing in action

There were some notable absences from the show too, including the aforementioned Twitch. While in previous years they’ve had stands that dominate the show, this year Twitch’s booth was quite limited. But with so many brands and fans clearly streaming live on Twitch of their own accord anyway, perhaps Twitch doesn’t need a booth to win Gamescom?

Activision and its associated brands, Candy Crush-maker King and World of Warcraft’s Blizzard were also noticeably quiet at the show this year, and world-leading Fortnite barely showed up at all.

We’re ramping up for a much bigger 2020

While 2019’s Gamescom felt big up close and personal, it’s going to seem quiet compared with next year. For all major companies, perhaps with the exception of Nintendo, 2019 is the end of the current console lifecycle. And while there are some big games coming out, market analysts have pointed to a pretty thin line up of blockbuster games this Christmas.

Next year will see the launch of the new PlayStation 5, Microsoft’s new Xbox codenamed Project Scarlett, and the full public release of Google Stadia. The next generation will bring far more power to consoles, allowing for bigger games and deeper experiences. PlayStation may well also update its PlayStation VR kit to maintain its strong position against Facebook’s Oculus.

Even more fans will descend on Cologne to get the latest controllers in their hands and try games that up until now have not been possible without incredibly expensive gaming PCs.

Live content is key

Though not necessarily new for 2019, this year’s Gamescom did underline the importance of generating live content at the show. Almost all the big stands had either a booth for live streaming, or a full stage with presenters broadcasted across Twitch (or similar platforms).

Gamescom is not just a trade show – it’s also a live event, and one where your live content and reveals must compete with other brand attendees. The best stands hosted live competitions, audience participation and even competitive esports matches. It’s no longer enough to just offer a game demo. Brands also need to find the right presenters, activities and run their own week-long, multilingual TV channel.

From B2B stand management and press briefings, to massive consumer stands and live content, Gamescom has always challenged brands to perfect their events communications. Part B2B trade show, part gaming fan convention, Gamescom shows just how intertwined the B2B and B2C worlds are when it comes to video games. And while 2019 was a great year, the next console generation will force brands to take their comms strategy to the next level in 2020.

Andrew Rogers is an account director in Allison+Partners’ London office.

AUGUST 20, 2019 //     

The importance of taking an integrated approach

An interview with Paul Sears, Executive Vice President, Integrated Marketing.

By Jess Docherty

Allison Partners’ integrated marketing expert Paul Sears is spending six months in London to help expand our existing integrated capabilities in the region and foster deeper integration across the network. While he is here, I thought I’d pick his brain on integrated marketing and why it’s crucial for PR and marketing professionals to implement in their overall communications strategies.  

How does Allison+Partners help clients with integrated marketing?

We prefer to approach all our client work from a holistic perspective. Starting with segmentation, targeting and positioning and the classical 4 P’s of marketing we all know and love (product, price, place, promotion). And asking, “Who is the customer, what do they need, and how do I create something (a product, a service, a campaign, a loyalty program) that fulfils that need?”

A truly integrated approach puts the customer in the centre of the room, then looks at how to position the brand or product to be truly helpful to them. Sometimes we’re helping clients develop and name new products, creating brand and product architecture systems, and working with the client to create new or optimise existing distribution channels. And of course, Promotion – the fourth P, that’s a huge part of what we do as an agency. As a full-service marketing communications agency, we spend a great deal of time creating campaigns to launch and sustain awareness, drive consideration and purchase, and create consumer advocacy and referral. Integrated marketing requires a customer-centric approach and several different disciplines working together.

Why is taking an integrated approach important?

Today’s clients face constant pressure to do more with less.  It’s incredibly difficult to manage a diverse roster of agencies. CMO’s need a strong strategic partner that can answer the big questions about what the firm should make and do, and be truly 360-degree in its go-to-market approach. With more than 80 folks globally working on cross-functional marketing, our clients get access to consultative brand and product marketing, as well as campaign execution.  We’re able to have a single point of contact that understands the client’s business goals and the needs of the customer, as well as every channel we’re activating in.

A basic breakdown of approach:

Research and insight
  • A surgeon presented with a patient who has a mystery illness, wouldn’t just start operating immediately – they’d do some x-rays, and try to find the problem. It’s the same with integrated marketing. We don’t want to rush to market based on assumptions. We take time to conduct research and find unexpected ways of looking at the issues, so we can surprise and delight. But like the surgeon, we know the patient needs help right away, so we’re not going to research ourselves out of the window of opportunity. We balance rigor and agility to get going quickly.
Strategy based on insights
  • First, we want to make sure we’re solving the right problem. Then we’ll mine for that unexpected insight. Then take the insight, and build our work around that, and find the best channels to invest in.
Big umbrella ideas
  • When considering the big idea, we look for inspiration everywhere in our organisation and aim to generate a reaction in people that makes them stop and think. We use viewpoints from all corners to build out the umbrella story that fuels the entire program.
Implementation with agile and nimble optimisation
  • Once we have a well-reasoned “why” then we can start to direct the investment and activity into paid, earned, shared or owned channels. We let research and data do the heavy lifting to help in selecting each channel, so we can thoughtfully consider each step in the customer journey.
  • To make the program effective we work hard to connect dispersed teams so that everyone is aware and can learn from every action. If the PR team have landed a great piece of coverage, we want our social teams looking for ways to expand its reach. We want our creative team to create infographics and social objects from it, we want to boost it with paid and get influencers and consumers talking about it.
Measure and adjust
  • With each of the steps above it is important to fail fast and move on. Measurement is about really being able to understand in depth how the consumer ecosystem is engaging with the work. Interrogate the data, interpret the movement and then start to develop a plan to accelerate channels and activities that are working.

What keeps you inspired?

The most important thing for me is continuous learning and development.  I feel like I don’t know what I don’t know. I love doing research projects in entirely new categories, I try to get one or two new academic certifications each year, I stay connected with my professional network, and I read up on thought leadership as much as I can. I think it’s really fun seeing creativity coming to life in innovative tech-driven campaigns like “The Whopper Detour” or bold cultural stances like “Nike’s Dream Crazy.” 

Jess Docherty is a digital account manager in Allison+Partners’ London office.

AUGUST 15, 2019 //     

10 top tips for a tremendous trade show

By Lizzy Chesters

The trade show world can be a daunting one. The variety and sheer number of events make it difficult to decide which are the best to attend. So, what can be done from a public relations perspective to make attending truly worth the spend and help fuel the all-important sales funnel?

Here are the top 10 things to bear in mind.

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  1. Pick the right show: In our latest podcast episode, I mentioned the average price of a B2B trade show is roughly £350 per square meter, and that doesn’t take into account all the marketing material and human resources needed. Before choosing your show, it is crucial to think about your business goals. By considering whether you want to network, gain industry insight or capture new leads, you can whittle down your list. Similarly, looking back at the history of shows, researching the audience and reading previous reviews can help determine whether this is the right show for you. There are loads of event lists and tools, which can also help.
  2. Secure a speaking slot: This is the best way to reach as much of your audience as possible and can help encourage people to visit your company’s stand. To secure that all-important opportunity, pitch a topic at the forefront of your industry to position your firm as a thought leader. And make sure you get in there early – at least eight months prior to the event itself. In addition, you can use that presentation for further PR opportunities after the event itself; turning it into a byline to pitch later, for instance, can be a great way to maximise the content.
  3. Ask to see the media attendee list: Are there any journalists attending whom you want to meet? It is becoming increasingly difficult to get in front of a journalist, so approaching them at a trade show is a great way to start building a relationship that may eventually lead to future coverage. For the more popular shows, journalists’ schedules can get booked up to a month in advance, so plan ahead. If you don’t manage to meet, follow up afterwards with media who couldn’t attend.
  4. Take notes of the keynote themes/topics: Making a note of what your peers discuss is a good starting point for your own thought leadership – what is your opinion? Is it different? And does your company offer a unique solution to any problems currently facing your industry? For larger industry events, consider writing a ‘round-up’ piece, which includes key takeaways and predictions for the year ahead.
  5. Should you launch a new product/service? Be careful here – if you exhibit alongside FTSE 250 companies, your launch will likely get lost. Sometimes it pays off to attend a particularly niche show, where a more targeted audience will hear your voice. Alternatively, undertaking a piece of research, which can support the announcement, is a good way to generate additional interest.
  6. Savvy social: Before, during and after the event, make sure your business tweets about the show. Always use the event hashtag to amplify your content and ensure influential people see it. Make sure to incorporate images into those posts, so they get as much traction as possible. Also, including relevant links to content on the event website is a great way to drive target audiences to your own website. Include your booth number and/or location at the event to drive attendees to your stand.
  7. Speak to your sales team: Do they have any targets attending the event? How can you work together to secure that business? By working together, you are more likely to get that all-important new business lead, which is the ultimate measure of ROI.
  8. Don’t ignore the analysts: If your company is featured in any technical research (such as Gartner or Forrester), trade shows are an excellent way to get in front of the analysts writing those papers. Contacting the analysts beforehand to arrange a briefing to discuss the benefits and uniqueness of what your company offers is a brilliant time-saver.
  9. Influence the influencers: Attend their talks to gain valuable insights. If they make any comments that resonate with your company’s messages, then send them a link to relevant content on your website to try and ignite a relationship with them. It could also be beneficial to undertake a paid relationship with an influencer around an event. This would involve them promoting your organisation’s attendance across their social channels, attending double-headed briefings, support any announcement you might make and be an additional draw to your stand or presentations.
  10. Maximise your mobile: The cameras on smartphones are of an incredibly high quality these days. Buying a cheap phone stand means you immediately have a camera to document the event. It’s easy to create great video just using your mobile. This content can then be used across social, website or podcasts.


Lizzy Chesters is a senior account manager in Allison+Partners’ London office.

AUGUST 14, 2019 //     

PODCAST: Trade shows - It’s more than just a stand

There are a staggering 1.3 million business events of all shapes and sizes held each year in the UK, so it's no wonder the exhibition and trade show sector is worth a massive £19.2bn to the UK economy. But with a generally high cost of entry, companies want to ensure that they make a splash at trade shows they attend and stand out in their industry. So what are the best ways to grab attention, and how can and should trade show activity go beyond the traditional press briefings?

Andrew Rogers is joined in the London studio by Senior Account Manager Lizzy Chesters to give a step-by-step guide on the dos and don'ts of trade shows, including the best ways to interact with the press and how to make sure your brand stands out amongst all the noise.

Like our podcast? Why not leave us a review? And don't forget you can always find out more about the team here at Allison+Partners at www.allisonpr.co.uk.

The Stream Podcast can be downloaded via Spotify and iTunes.

AGENCY NEWS // JULY 24, 2019 //     

PR WEEK UK Awards 2019: shortlist revealed

The shortlist for the PRWeek UK Awards 2019 has been announced, after an intense judging process that saw hundreds of award entries.

The expert jury panel of more than 100 leading global brands and agencies have decided which entrants are in with a chance of winning at the glitzy annual awards night on Tuesday 15 October at the JW Marriott Grosvenor House in Park Lane.

Allison+Partners UK has been shortlisted for the Healthcare: Ethical and OTC Consumer category for Dexcom UK.


READ MORE
JULY 18, 2019 //     

PODCAST: Diversity and Inclusion - Why diverse teams make for better campaigns

By: Andrew Rogers and Ellis Reid

Do public relations professionals really reflect the general public? Why does it matter that the communications industry be as diverse as the audiences that we’re trying to speak to? And are we doing enough to foster inclusive teams so everyone can be heard? 

Andrew is joined in the London studio by Senior Account Director Ellis Reid to discuss why both diversity and inclusion are important for creating better, more effective campaigns and discuss where the communications industry can and should go from here.

Like our podcast? Why not leave us a review? And don't forget you can always find out more about the team here at Allison+Partners at www.allisonpr.co.uk.

The Stream Podcast can be downloaded via Spotify and iTunes.
JULY 17, 2019 //     

What to do when your content fails

By: Jide Adesesan 

 

As PR professionals, we are great content creators who know what good content looks like. However, every so often, even the best can sometimes produce a dud. So, what do you do when your content fails? 

First, don’t be hard on yourself – it’s difficult to create and develop great content. A lot of time, strategy and effort go into creating a quality research paperblog or video, so we despair when things don’t go our way. Instead, if the content doesn’t meet expectations – i.e. low viewing numbers, click-throughs or download rates – follow one of these steps below to turn it around and get that campaign back on track. 

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What did you miss? 

For your content to work, it must be relevant and timely. The sweet spot is where your audience’s interests and challenges overlap with you and the client’s business objectives. 

Reflect on what you might have missed the first time around. Consider if you have taken the audiences into account: did you misjudge what they want or find important?  

The most common problem when it comes to failing content is misunderstanding the audience and what it takes to coax them into action. 

What’s your content tilt? 

So, you’ve found your sweet spot and understand what your audience wantto read about. Now what?  

It’s time to find out why the original content failed your expectations. Ideally, you want to create a piece of content that can compete with the hundreds of thousands of links on the internet that promise the same thing you are selling.  

Be sure to scan what your competitors say about the topic and find the gap – the tilt – that separates your content and gives it a fighting a chance. For instance, if your content is around the keys to a successful digital transformation, then I’ve got bad news for you, pal! 

Also, think about your headline – you only have one chance to make a good first impression. 

Raise visibility 

Help your customers find you by investing in content distribution. There are a number of cost-effective channels available, such as social media paid campaigns and email marketing.  

It’s also worth putting in the time to make sure your work is optimised to improve your online visibility. Check out these free SEO tools. Better yet, speak to one of our All Told colleagues to support your effort.  

Manage expectations 

This is the most difficult aspect of correcting failing contentand it’s also the most critical. What are you trying to achieve with this piece of content? Are you trying to drive sales or raise awareness? And, can your content really help achieve all these objectives? How do we measure success? 

If you haven’t already, this is when you need to have an honest conversation with your team to discuss what’s gone wrong and how you propose to fix it. But you also need to be forthright about expectations and what the content is likely to deliver. 

What do you do with bad, unengaging content?  

The question of whether to purge any particular piece of work depends on a number of factors – is this content useful to anyone? If I removed it from the website or archive, would anyone miss it? Does it damage the brand?  

We are not perfect and sometimes get it wrong. But the important thing to remember is all is not lost and almost any piece of work is salvageable. Start again with the basics and give your content time to do well.  

 

Jide Adesesan is a senior account executive in Allison+Partners’ London office. 

JULY 17, 2019 //     

THE STREAM UK PODCAST





The Stream Podcast can be downloaded via Spotify and iTunes.
AGENCY NEWS // JULY 12, 2019 //     

Creative Moment Awards 2019

Credit: Creative Moment Awards

Congratulations to all those who made the shortlist for the inaugural Creative Moment Awards.

The Creative Moment Awards, in association with Opinium, celebrate the best of the best in the UK creative sector today.

We’re thrilled to have had so many of you enter and it’s been a pleasure to recognise your work.

Now we are looking forward to 26 September where we will announce the winners.

READ MORE
JULY 12, 2019 //     

[ODCAST: Episode 3 Diversity and Inclusion: Why diverse teams make for better campaigns

Do public relations professionals really reflect the general public? Why does it matter that the communications industry be as diverse as the audiences that we’re trying to speak to? And are we doing enough to foster inclusive teams so everyone can be heard? 

Andrew is joined in the London studio by Senior Account Director Ellis Reid to discuss why both diversity and inclusion are important for creating better, more effective campaigns and discuss where the communications industry can and should go from here.

Like our podcast? Why not leave us a review? And don't forget you can always find out more about the team here at Allison+Partners at www.allisonpr.co.uk.






The Stream Podcast can be downloaded via Spotify and iTunes.
JULY 10, 2019 //     

Four ways to make the most of a media tour

By: Ellis Mendon

 

While much of public relations has gone digital, there is still tremendous value in facilitating good, old-fashioned facetime between journalists and company executives. Media tours are critical for relationship building and help increase chances for deeper coverage on a company and its products or services.

So, how do you make the most out of one? Here are our four tips for ensuring success.

 

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1. Consider the calendar

Before you nail down dates for your trip, have a thorough look through an events board to make sure your visit isn’t overlapping with other key events going on. The last thing you want to do is have to compete for a journalist’s attention and time. A helpful and reliable site to use when planning is Techmeme.

If you’re travelling internationally, be sure to consider national holidays. You don’t want to wind up booking your trip when journalists are off work.

2. Engage with journalists

When it comes to securing interest for briefings, it’s important to make sure you are pitching them effectively and meeting journalists via their preferred style of communication, whether that be email, text message or social media platforms like Twitter. Do your research before conducting outreach. If you know that a journalist is active on Twitter and their bio says they are open to receiving pitches via DM, shoot them a message on the social platform.

And yes, while the overall group is a dying breed, there are still some journalists that have a desk phone that they answer. No two journalists are the same.

3. Make the narrative relevant

It’s safe to say that no matter what media market you are working in, journalists are interested in learning how your announcement or story fits into the wider picture. You can guarantee that at some point during a journalist briefing, he or she will broach the subject of current events or introduce a recent trend. They will want to hear your spokesperson’s POV on the matter and learn how the announcement and/or company ties into what’s happening.

Do your homework ahead of the interview and prep your spokesperson for success. If the publication you are meeting with has a specific focus that fits nicely with your business’ focus or point of view, have your spokesperson reference it to show they are familiar with the publication and were thoughtful in scheduling the meeting.

4. Foster relationships

If your company executive is on social media, have them follow the journalist on Twitter and take the time to read through some of their recent coverage before the meeting. This will help him/her understand the journalist’s tone and provide insight into what topics they have written about.

Having this background knowledge can also be a good way for the spokesperson to break the ice with the journalist and relate to their interests, finding a common ground for where they can connect beyond the company news.

After the media tour is finished, it’s important to follow up with journalists on any lingering items you promised. It’s also nice added touch for your executive to handwrite or email a note to the journalists who they met with thanking them for their time. After all, the overall intent of this process is about bettering relationships with influential media.


Ellis Mendon is a senior account executive in Allison+Partners’ London office.

JUNE 27, 2019 //     

Communicating with the LGBTQ+ community in the digital age

By: Gina Mossey

As part of our agency’s celebrations for Pride Month, we hosted a panel event in the London office in collaboration with Out in Tech, a global not-for-profit for the LGBTQ+ community in tech, to discuss how the internet has changed the way brands can and should communicate with the LGBTQ+ community.

Chaired in style by our very own Account Director Andrew Rogers, guest speakers who imparted their words of wisdom included:

  • Polly Shute, Director of Partnerships at Parallel Lifestyle
  • Alex Wood, Europe Editor at Forbes
  • Matt Risley, Digital Director at MTV UK
  • Saski, Pride Host and LGBTQ+ Educator

A thought-provoking and lively conversation left us all with a lot of food for thought. Here are the key takeaways.

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Start with your staff

We’ve seen a lot of companies support Pride because other companies do – we all know brands are fast followers. But the most effective brands support LGBTQ+ communities year-round and get input and feedback from their employees to make sure they get it right.

Consistent communication with employees is the crucial piece of the puzzle between brands getting it right or wrong. The more they can be involved in the process, the better-informed senior teams will be. This will help you avoid falling into the pinkwashing trap, and instead show your company really listens to the challenges faced by real people.

LGBTQ+ is more than just one category

This umbrella community contains many subgroups, and brands can ignore this at their peril. Each subgroup needs to be marketed to in a different way, as each have their own pain points about their personal, historical and cultural experiences. Language is a key component here, as a positive term for one subgroup can be quite the opposite for another. However, empathy, consideration, and kindness will speak across the community. Within any content, we need to make sure everyone is represented.

Getting the language right again brings us back to the workplace. For society to get used to modern usage, we need more training on what is positive and negative to whom. For example, “queer” is something of a reclaimed term for younger people, while older generations can find it offensive. The more educated society becomes on this, the more intelligent our ways of using these terms socially will be.

Digital targeting for LGBTQ+ groups is still in its infancy

Building on the discussion around language, the group showed digital targeting for the community isn’t as sophisticated as it needs to be. Differences in connotations between different parts of the LGBTQ+ community means positive and negative keywords are tough to define and is a bigger conversation for the global tech community to have.

The panel also advised brands to beware of “The City Bubble.” LGBTQ+ initiatives and messaging are more advanced in major cities. But brands looking to truly get their comms strategies right need to make sure those who live in less urban areas are also represented.

They also highlighted the struggle with internet users known as “lurkers.” These people view and consume content, but they do not comment or share, making it hard to ensure their views are taken into account. We need to make sure we reach and engage the people who don’t feel they have a voice. Putting efforts into physical focus groups and research will help brands navigate this.

Be wary of only using technology to communicate

The group agreed the explosion in digital platforms has been positive in terms of visibility for LGBTQ+ issues. But it’s important it complements and does not replace, face-to-face interaction with the community. One-to-one level comms are important for any strategy.

Brands can tap into this by keeping events and meet-ups a key part of their strategy, such as hosting talks from key influencers in their sectors who have links to the LGBTQ+ community, putting emphasis on current topics and issues that have relevance to the subgroups.

Making mistakes is part of the journey

A key point the panel wanted brands to take away from the event is that it isn’t the end of the road if you make a mistake. It’s likely brands will get it wrong sometimes, and they shouldn’t take it personally. They advised that rather than pulling out all the stops to defend yourselves, listen to the community and put yourself in their shoes. Taking a step back and listening to the voices that matter will help you work out where to go from there.

The event’s open and honest discussion around these issues, thanks to our fantastic panel and the questions from our brilliant audience, is a perfect example of the collaborative conversations that need to happen to drive change on a bigger scale for the LGBTQ+ community. Brands that keep this at the core of their activity will be the ones that truly lead the way.

Gina Mossey is an account director in Allison+Partners' London office.

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