The Skills Show at the NEC in Birmingham was amazing this year. Thousands of young people showed up to be inspired, whilst ministers (including the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg) came to witness first hand the tangible skills apprentices contribute to the UK’s economy, through live demonstrations of their work.
Whilst there were various goings on within The Skills Show, including exhibits from employers who took part in #madebyapprentices and the National Apprenticeship Service Awards 2013, I was lucky enough to be behind the scenes helping organise a small part of the event.
One of the most exciting features saw the Deputy Prime Minister hold a private meeting with six apprentices who took part in the Brathay Apprentice Challenge 2013 and then a Q&A with 150 apprentices from all over the country to discuss their understanding of Apprenticeships and allow them to ask questions about the future of Apprenticeships.
The Skills Show Ministerial Q+A
The audience were genuinely interested in the future of Apprenticeships and the discussion sparked a flurry of questions around Apprenticeships, careers advice and reaching out to a wider audience to promote them.
We were all in agreement that apprentices should be put all the same pedestal as university students and that it is Apprenticeships that form the “economic backbone” of the country.
The Deputy Prime Minister also gave his backing of the role of marketing and PR in improving Apprenticeship take up, saying that “reaching out to parents through media is just as important as reaching out to schools”, and he went on to explain how happy he’d be for his children to pick an Apprenticeship over a degree.
The final area of debate was also one of interest to the PR community. The DPM mentioned that it is just as important to get SMEs – like many of the PR companies in the country – involved in Apprenticeships as it is to get large employers offering Apprenticeships.
PR apprentices, like myself, are a great bunch of vibrant personalities, and enthusiastic learners who work extremely hard to get the results for the businesses we work in. In the film of the event, below, the Deputy Prime Minister announced he wants to double the number of companies offering Apprenticeships in the UK and that means all companies will have to play their part.
If there’s magic in music, it’s in its ability to transport us to another place.
I was listening to a favourite band of mine, Tame Impala, their song Mind Mischief was playing into my headphones from my laptop. As the song was reaching its peak, I thought “Wow, these guys have managed to completely transport me somewhere else … how did they do it?”
That euphoric moment in the song got me thinking about how we use music to escape.
Music festivals – the epitome of escapism
Since I started at Claremont, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the impact marketing has on things I enjoy outside work.
Music festivals are a great example of this – hundreds of thousands of people in a surreal environment with crazy décor and tons of music – with lots of space for brands.
Thanks to online streaming, more and more artists have had to go on the road in order to pay their bills, and music festivals have boomed. Just look at the way the Stones played Glastonbury recently, after shunning it for years.
Festivals are great for artists and fans alike. Artists win because they get great exposure, there are loads of slots to fill, and the promoter usually gets a nice pay cheque in the post.
The fans win because they are spoilt for choice in terms of music, and the whole experience is immersive and joyous.
It’s great for the brands and sponsors too, who are overwhelmed with business from customers who have left their common sense at home. This means lots of money very well spent on banners and merchandise.
Festival customers also tend to be hyper perceptive to everything around them – which means big rewards, especially if you happen to be the official sponsor.
The link with brands
Brands can become indelibly linked with the music festivals sponsor – especially if there is an exclusive supplier agreement in place as the product becomes synonymous with the brand.
This can work against the brand (Visa at the Olympics, anyone?), but more often is a massive boom.
After my first Reading festival, Tuborg (the official supplier at the time) became my beer of choice. At the festival I didn’t really have a choice in the matter, but after the festival I did, but they still claimed that spot when I went to the bar.
Who’s doing it well now?
Water Aid was one of the primary sponsors for UK music festivals this year. Their “Pump up the Volume” campaign encouraged people to sign a petition aimed at world leaders to ensure that everyone everywhere had access to clean water and sanitation by 2030.
This year at Bestival, I was offered a much-needed glass of water and a stick on anchor tattoo that lasted all weekend. I had been quite literally branded!
It’s impossible to ignore the darker side of the lifestyle people lead at festivals. The Samaritans run a 24-hour tent at medium-sized to major festivals that offers face-to-face support for people who are facing challenges in their lives such as depression and drug abuse.
At festivals, people are often more willing to open up about themselves, and so it is an ideal environment to seek out people who are in need.
In recent years, Kopparberg has been homing in on the underground music scene and has done it well. However, with Glastonbury, Lovebox, Reading / Leeds and Bestival under their belt, Gaymers run the show when it comes to festivals.
Due to the vast contrast between the festivalgoers, by sponsoring these four festivals in particular, Gaymers have strategically targeted a wide range of demographics and established themselves as the common thread.
The North. Whippets and flat caps, ale and pies, chips and gravy. How could I leave such a place?
The South. Horses and top hats, shandy and nibbles, fruit and veg. Why would I want to move there?
Oh the South, I never thought I’d move down here. Honestly. I love the North too much. It’s where I feel comfortable -people understand the word brew! The thought of moving down here scared me: lots of people and huge buildings, not really what I’m used to.
But on Thursday 17th October I left my job at Burnley Council to move all the way down to the big smoke and start working at Claremont.
My move into PR, and to Claremont, came after taking part in the Brathay Apprentice Challenge. The Challenge – which this year I am helping to organise – pits teams of nine apprentices from all over the country against each other to be crowned ‘apprentice team of the year’.
We didn’t win. But what the Challenge gave me was a chance to hone my presenting and writing skills – presenting in front of over 150 businesses and even writing a blog for Alastair Campbell’s website.
Obviously having heard of Claremont through my research as part of the Challenge, when I found out about the apprenticeship vacancy I leapt at the chance to apply.
What really grabbed my attention – apart from the work that Claremont does promoting apprenticeships throughout the country – was the work that they had done with the Arts Alliance promoting the value of the arts in the rehabilitation of offenders.
Nothing’s ever straightforward
Unfortunately, 5 days before I was due to leave there was an article in The Economist stating that old industrial towns like my hometown of Burnley should be abandoned by the government – instead money should be spent on helping people leave. As you might imagine becoming one of the people that the article mentioned (leaving my hometown for a job in the big city) left a somewhat bitter taste.
The fact is I love Burnley no matter what people might say about it. I would never say that my move to London was in any way an escape. It’s an adventure, but in no way an escape.
In reality it’s a two-and-a-half hour train journey from London to Manchester and a bus journey back to Burnley – nothing really. But to me it’s a lifetime away.
Before this move I’d never lived anywhere else – the same town, the same street, the same house for 21 years. There’s flying the nest but I’ve flown exactly 298 miles to where I’m now living in Brighton. A giant leap and then some…
What do I think of it then?
I’m still taking it all in but what I’ve seen is great. It’s not better than home, it’s different. Whereas at home I’ve got 360-degree countryside, here I’m confronted with a sea of people and huge buildings. It’s daunting – but Christ it’s exciting!
Having only been here a short amount of time maybe my outlook will change, but I doubt it. Everything is new and exciting and there’s so much of it I don’t think I’d get the chance to stop being excited.
If I’m honest you’ve got it pretty good beneath the border. Obviously I could never say that it’s better down here (that would be going too far). But what I can say is I like it down here, and I think that’ll do for now…
Kickstarter came onto the digital scene in 2009 and has been doing so well that management in New York City has been able to buy, outright, a building in Brooklyn for their new offices that cost them a reported $7.5 million last year. For those that aren’t aware of Kickstarter; put briefly, it’s a crowdfunding site that allows the general public to pay for people’s creations up front so they have the funding to realise their creative idea dream.
I, personally, loathed the idea of a site that would allow complete morons to dupe people into giving them money for an idea that should never have been thought up. After a short while, something magical started happening. People were getting up in arms over rubbish projects and publicly voicing their negative opinions about them. Celebrities joined the Kickstarter bandwagon and were being mocked for doing so – the public wondering why it was that the already rich were flocking to the crowdfunding platform. And, this woke me back up to the site.
After doing some easy online research into successfully-funded Kicksarters, I found that;
- Those with a solid primary network of friends, colleagues and acquaintances hit their target goal of money.
Having a solid network around you meant that you were likely to do well. Pertinent to see here that this doesn’t just apply to Kickstarter.
- Approximately 43% of projects hit their funding target.
The guff isn’t getting through. People can see the twaddle amongst the really great ideas.
- If you reach 30% funded, you’re incredibly likely to reach 100% funded.
Much of the hard work in sales, marketing and word-of-mouth has been done by this point and you will stay in Kickstarter’s ‘Most Popular’ lists to be seen by other Kickstarter-ers so they can help you reach your goal. Social proof (and the psychology behind it kicks in) and people want to be part of something special so they pledge.
- Projects that were professional in appearance, had engaging video content and clear timelines for delivery were successful.
Despite the site being aimed at the average person, it’s clear that people aren’t willing to give their money to those that seem unprofessional and disorganised.
Working on my own passion project – funded by yours truly – and being worked on in my own time, I decided to give it a go. After much hard work, preparation and asking people to work for free until the money came in (everyone trusting that my own Kickstarter would be victorious), we eventually managed to put a Kickstarter page together.
As you’re able to see below, we didn’t do too shabbily for an independent project with a following no bigger than 1000. Before going live, friends mentioned to me that setting such a high figure as my target was ludicrous. Despite that, I still went ahead, and had concluded that I should follow the “if you don’t ask, you don’t get” mantra.
Hitting a penny below your target meant you would receive nothing so losing wasn’t an option. Many a night and day went by where I was wearing different hats simultaneously. Covering the sales pitch, the writer pitch, the company director pitch – I was made to switch between any of these depending on who I was looking to raise money from.
Sleep was a luxury. Stress levels were high.
Towards the end of our Kickstarter, the revolution began. People started flocking to me in droves telling me how proud they were that we were so close to our goal and that if we needed the extra cash to push the total over the edge (at this point, we were sitting comfortably at £18,000 with seven days to go), they would be there to help.
Our hearts warmed and relief trickled through our veins.
There was a calming feeling in the final days of the Kickstarter and, although, we had made it, it obviously meant that the work had only just begun. Five months in, we’re making steady progress and development of the comic is well underway.
What have I learnt?
Well, a surprising number of your friends, colleagues and acquaintances will shock you and let you down. Asking people for money is not an easy task so lower your expectations accordingly. On the upside, a surprising number of people will go out of their way to keep you happy and pledge whatever they can give – even those you’ve not heard from in a while. It’s these people that you should remember and be thankful for.
I now have to spend more of my own money to keep this project going as we’re undoubtedly running into unforeseen risks that I’m having to overcome. Has this made me sad? No. The amount of publicity, press and fans of the project have made the sleepless nights all worth it. Slow and steady wins the race, but those who join the revolution that Kickstarter has created get to experience something special.
Feel free to keep an eye on the project, or even pre-order yourself a copy.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently about the recent “Hummingbird” changes to Google’s algorithm. What does Hummingbird mean for public sector organisations, businesses such as Claremont, and our clients?
On the face of it, it seems like a huge update. It’s the first time that Google’s algorithm (the thing that powers results) has been completely overhauled since 2001. 2001 was the year that Google overtook Altavista for number of internet searches. In digital years, it’s a huge amount of time. The change is said to have impacted 90% of search queries.
Why has Google changed its algorithm?
It’s hard to look beyond mobile as a factor for this. People are making more searches on mobile devices, and Google clearly anticipates that as technologies like Siri, Google Glass and Google Now become more popular, we’re going to be searching using our voices a lot more.
The search landscape has also changed a lot since 2001. In 2001, using a search engine was about finding relevant content. In 2013, there’s no shortage of stuff out there, it’s about finding the right content above the noise. To understand this shift, Google has to get to the heart of what we really mean (who, what, why, how and when), rather than simply matching words against a database.
How is search behaviour changing?
Words like “short tail” and “long tail” sound like jargon, but people who use Google understand that they’re unlikely to find what they’re looking for using generic keywords. So they’ve stopped doing it.
A quick look at the Claremont Google Analytics dashboard was a real eye-opener for me – the Claremont homepage accounted for just 40% of visits from Google in the last month. The other 60% were for well-targeted blog posts, landing pages and library content.
What does Google Hummingbird mean for businesses and public sector organisations?
Google will be providing better answers to searches written in the form of a question. Over time, that’s going to change people’s behaviour, and people will start doing these kinds of search more.
This means that keyword searches which are not phrased as a question – ‘PR agency London’ for instance – are on the way out. Optimising a site for search therefore, isn’t about how many keywords you can cram on the same page – but providing the right, meaningful content to answer questions.
What is Google Hummingbird not going to be changing?
Branded searches aren’t going to be changing. People will still search for Apprenticeships, National Careers Service, Claremont and more. If the name of your brand is also your product though (i.e. “How do I apply for an Apprenticeship?”) you’ll want to optimise for that.
What should you take away from Google’s changes?
- Content - it’s more important than ever before to deliver excellent, regularly updated content, optimise for a breadth of related keywords and make it available across devices.
- Measurement - The success of an SEO campaign can no longer be defined by ranking on short tail keywords – number of unique entry pages to the site is now a more relevant measure.
- SEO no longer optional - People will use Google even more than they already do. SEO is no longer optional for our clients but essential (even for clients sitting on gov.uk domains!)
- Authoritative content - Any campaign should consider how we can influence the answers Google gives by providing authoritative and useful content. Consider writing the title of your post in the form of a question.
Following on from news that our National Apprenticeship Week PR work has been shortlisted for two PRCA Awards, our apprentices join us to continue this good work – and also help drive the business forward.
Matt Seel and Sean Moody will join our existing PR Higher Apprentice, Monica Wilson, and will be working on clients including the National Apprenticeship Service.
And Matt, who Claremont first heard about through his work on the Brathay Apprentice Challenge, will be working on the Challenge in 2014 – but from the PR side. The success of Burnley Council’s apprentices in persuading Alastair Campbell to turn over his blog to promote the work of Burnley Borough Council, was just one of the many signs that Matt has a bright future in PR.
Meanwhile Sean has already shown he has a head for social media after working in the customer service team at TK Maxx, involved in (among other things) running the social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest) for TK Maxx’s tie in with Comic Relief earlier in the year.
Welcome Matt & Sean!
So we were delighted to learn that our National Apprenticeship Week 2013 campaign has been short-listed for two Awards (we worked alongside the National Apprenticeship Service in-house team, BIS press office, Tribe PR, On Broadcast and Shackleton PR to deliver the campaign).
The whole campaign has only been made possible with the support of hundreds of training providers, colleges and employers. And with nominations for ‘Evaluation’ and ‘Public Sector – Value for Money’ categories, the results speak for themselves.
For a taste of what made this such an amazing week for Apprenticeships, watch this short film:
Engineering is big business. And it’s vital to the future of our nation’s economy.
And according to EngineeringUK, engineering companies will have 2.74 million job openings between 2010 and 2020 so it should be a major consideration for any school leaver.
However far too few school children, particularly girls, are choosing the GCSEs, A-Levels, Apprenticeships, degrees or other routes that will lead to engineering careers.
That’s why we’re proud to be working with engineering specialists from Tribe PR and On Broadcast‘s team – along with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), major engineering employers and institutions – to encourage more young people to pursue careers in engineering.
Tomorrow’s Engineers Week (#TEWeek13) takes place from 4-8th November 2013 and aims to change perceptions of engineering among young people, their parents and teachers. The campaign will challenge outdated negative perceptions about engineering careers, particularly amongst women, and demonstrate the relevance of engineering to young people’s everyday lives.
Engineering is vital to the success of the nation’s economy and not enough people realise the sheer breadth and depth of engineering careers available. From sound engineers to the stars to ice cream scientists and fashion designers, engineers are an integral part of the fabric of our society.
When thinking about their brands, organisations, well, the people who work in organisations, ask about the what, the how and the who. But rarely ask about the why.
Why. Not what
It is easy to say, ‘we do this stuff in this way for these people so that in the future we will achieve this’. Yet, why we do it is a bit more difficult to answer. When thinking about a brand’s purpose, the question to ask is, ‘why do we get up in the morning?’ Why are we motivated to get through the day to do the things we do?
Companies that say, ‘it’s not about us, it’s about the products’ forget that people trust people. You can only truly engage with other people, not products, and, just like our friends, we are attracted to people who share our beliefs and have the same aspirations. Why we do what we do allows us to achieve our ambitions.
Why. Not how
So, here’s something for room 101. Organisations don’t ‘own’ their brands. Sure, they can manage it. In fact, you could say that a lot of ‘brand management’ is nothing more than propaganda. But, the truth will out. I believe we are beginning to see this now. Social media including blogging means that everyone is a publisher, a reporter, an opinion shaper. Some of those people will be customers, service users, members, donors, whatever, and some will be employees, volunteers, the management.
And this is important because some organisations that say it’s all about the products have people in them saying that not paying taxes is OK, cartels are alright, turning a blind eye to outsourced manufacturers’ poor employee rights is acceptable. And most people—I have to assume most people—would say that these things aren’t acceptable. No wonder these companies say, it’s all about the products.
Why. Not who
The branding section in room 101 is going to get pretty full.
If I asked you how many brands do you think you have, and you say, ‘well, one of course’, then, I would agree. From the viewpoint of your customers, your suppliers and your partners, there is only one brand. Some people wear different hats, all at the same time. Employee, customer, shareholder, member, volunteer. Why would the brand be any different? The reasons to be part of the brand, associate with it, advocate it, are because they see the brand as one thing. They only see ‘the why’, not the who.
So, out with internal values and the employer brand. Ditch the member brand and City brand. It’s one brand, inside and out. One reason why.
There’s been a real change in email marketing in the last year – everyone is suddenly waking up to the need to optimise and segment to maximise their return in investment in email marketing.
Investing time in optimising your email marketing will vastly improve your response rates, whether you are running a donor campaign or driving sign up for events.
Optimising your email marketing will enable you to get closer to your audience and get better value from your list.
How to make people click on donor emails
1. Give something in return
You’re asking for donations, but what are you offering in return?
The average inbox has 8,200 messages in it, and the default action is to archive, not act. To get someone to donate, you will have to, at the very least, provide some information on where the money is going. This is particularly the case if your donations aren’t Gift Aided.
charity:water has led the way – emailing donors with custom project reports with pictures and results and pioneering weekly emails based on subscribers’ levels of engagement.
Donors today see themselves less as donating than buying shares in your attention.
What is their dividend?
2. Learn from offline
Is there something which has worked particularly well offline that you could adopt for online?
Many organisations have offline newsletters which are produced separately from their email marketing operation – even though they are often targeting the same audience.
Boost donor engagement by setting aside time to review successful past direct mail campaigns for language, tone and imagery.
What approach do you take to personalising your direct mail campaigns? Could this work online.
3. Start with a strong ask
For some reason, even non-profits feel a little icky asking people for money. This is reflected in the number of passive ‘Donate Now’ buttons gathering digital dust in email newsletters.
If you haven’t got enough faith in what you’re offering to really compel the ask, then why would you expect your supporters to respond to you?
If you’ve been sending out content for a while – you may need to step it up and run a campaign when you make your ask more explicit.
4. Be relentless!
New email marketers tend to be worried about “going to the well too often.”
While this is a valid concern, it only really applies when you have a poorly segmented list, and you know that you are going to be reaching some people who really don’t want to hear from you all that often.
If you have the data to prove that someone really is interested in your offer – don’t be afraid to repeat your ask.
5. Run small focus groups
Get a couple of unbiased non-staffers, take them for lunch, and ask them what they think of your email marketing.
Are there any glaring errors? Why do they read your email content? Are you giving them any real reason to click through, or is it “readndigest” content?
Most importantly – does the email work on their mobile device? With mobile use set to overtake desktop use by 2014, this really isn’t something that you can afford to overlook any longer.
What techniques have worked for you – post any winning formulas in the comments!
We want to help you separate the signal from the noise. “This Week in Social Good” is a hassle-free guide to the best in social good marketing from the last week.
We hope to provide you with new feature developments, insights and thought-provokers from the last week. Here’s what you might have missed from the last week:
You might be able to skip breakfast after all
Surveys are one of the most popular ways to raise awareness of health behaviour change campaigns. A recent study from the University of Minnesota analysing survey data from 3,600 young adults found that people who had breakfast every day gained four pounds fewer than breakfast skippers. But do endless surveys like this bring us any closer to a causal link? Or do they just add to an impenetrable wall of health do’s and don’ts?Slate asks the question – will you like the answer?
How to feed starving people with your selfies
I’ve recently moved in with a chef. Predictably, he shares a lot of what he cooks on Instagram. It’s interesting that he has turned what is a fun hobby and pastime for some of us into a career move. He thinks of his Instagram as a bit like his personal portfolio. But wouldn’t it be nice if all those Instagram pics turned into actual meals for starving children? iPhone app Feedie aims to do just that – signing up over 50 restaurants in New York to donate money when people tag food in their restaurants. It’s a great example of playing with culture - taking an activity popular amongst a particular age group and putting a unique twist on it.
Could iPhone 5s make your Twitter account impenetrable?
I was drowning under the weight of new iPhone 5s analysis yesterday – but it’s definitely worth you keeping track of whether Apple’s new fingerprint scanners for the iPhone takes hold. Our clients are ever mindful of social media security – whether it’s the social media planner gone rogue, the cross-tweeting fail or the Syrian Electronic Army. Could fingerprint scanning (eventually) be a game-changer for securing social media accounts?
Talkwalker is like Google Alerts when Google Alerts was good
We used to love Google Alerts, but somewhere along the way, Google Alerts became less than good. It began to throw spam into the results – and once you don’t trust that an alert is picking up the right stuff, you stop reading. We recently discovered Talkwalker, which more or less promises to do what Google Alerts did when Google Alerts actually worked. And it seems to work. If you’re an old-school Google Alerts fan, it might be worth giving Talkwalker a try.