When Claremont became one of the first PR agencies in the country to sign up to offer Apprenticeships in PR we joined some of the country’s biggest PR agencies, other smaller PR shops and in-house teams in agreeing to hire a government funded higher, degree-level, apprentice.
Almost a year on and our apprentice, Monica, has been a revelation. She brings a completely different outlook on life and contributes genuine new insight and ideas into the company. In under a year, she’s met the Deputy Prime Minister (who remembered her name), appeared in a film for the National Apprenticeship Service and even run whole campaigns for us.
Now, we can’t promise that the next apprentice(s) will have exactly the same experience. In fact, we hope it will be better!
For a start, the new apprentice(s) will join us in our new offices in Clerkenwell and will also get experience working with Helpful Technology. We’ve got a basic check-list of personal qualities needed in the job description (registration required), but being a bit of a news junkie would help and a good grasp of business admin and social media will help you hit the ground running.
…. If you’re still reading, well done. Here’s an additional tip: If you have any questions about the vacancy, please feel free to ask me on Twitter. You should also check out / chat with Helpful Technology’s Steph Gray and Claremont‘s Simon Booth-Lucking.
We have an immediate requirement for a Social Media Manager to work with us at our new offices in Clerkenwell. The role would suit a freelancer looking for a 3-6 month contract with the possibility of a further extension. Our office culture is friendly, approachable and we’re a bunch of dedicated folk who get the job done. Hours can be flexible if required, but for most of the time we’ll need you in the office when everyone else is as a large part of your role is collaborative. The role is well-paid and can, on the odd occasion, require you to work evenings and weekends.
Sound good? Okay, read on…
Why work with us?
We do work that matters and we always aim to do it in the right way. Take a look at our case studies to get a flavour, or take a look at what we do for Apprenticeships, or our recent support for the amazing Campaign Bootcamp.
What does the role involve?
Essentially, we want you to make our clients’ social media communities a success and contribute to their overall communications objectives. Specifically, you’ll need to:
- Develop and implement clients’ social media strategies
- Manage client communities on a daily basis
- Create and post content to client communities
- Monitor conversations and online reputation
- Develop and implement processes for responding to users through social media
- Manage influencer outreach
- Analyse and report on performance
- Assist clients in using social media
- Reporting directly into your line manager and covering roles when required
What skills and experience do you need?
In our team we’ve got an opera singer, a comic book writer and a parliamentary candidate, so we definitely want to know about all the things you can do. However, the key skills and experiences for this role are:
- Experience of public and/or non-profit sector campaigns
- A deep knowledge of and passion for social media
- Social media as part of an integrated PR and marketing campaign
- Co-ordinating a small team of clients and colleagues
- Communicating directly with the public through social media
- Managing clients’ online communities
- Using social media listening software
- Excellent written communication
- Trained or coached people in how to use social media successfully
- A professional manner and experience of direct contact with clients
Great. What next?
Send a cover email and your CV to Serena Obhrai at email@example.com. You’ll be reporting into her, so make your comms technique count!
P.S. If you’re a recruitment agent reading this, we’re sorry, but we’re just not that into you, so don’t ’call me maybe’.
This is a post for people working in PR, trying to get to grips with digital, and written with these assumptions in mind:
- Many people currently working in PR began their career in a world where social media did not exist.
- It will become increasingly essential for ‘digital’ and ‘PR’ to merge in a way that goes beyond ‘talking to the tech guy on your team.’
- Most PR people massively underestimate the nature of the shift, and will need to start thinking more like product people to survive.
It’s really, really tempting when approaching digital to map it to things you already know. YouTube is a bit like TV (for teenagers). Facebook is a bit like display advertising (for lots of people). E-mail marketing is like pushing letters through people’s door (for ‘you’re not really sure who’).
But you can’t manage listening by proxy like this. You end up with lazy creative thinking that has more to do with the demographics of a particular platform than the people that actually use it.
Do you understand the desire for truth and transparency amongst young people that is driving a site like ‘Filter Fakers’ for instance? Is Vine a site for sharing ‘six second videos’ or the Web’s newest comedy site?
Digital platforms provide a massive opportunity – not as a communications channel of awe-inspiring scale, but to use technology and to participate in cultures that were previously not available.
In some ways, there’s no ‘cost’ – other than time – to producing bland, pre-packaged content and farming it out indiscriminately to social networks. But you won’t see the results. And then you’ll start asking questions about ‘ROI’.
PR people – immerse yourself in digital. Get to understand the platforms, the culture, the technology, and you’ll find yourself seeing the platforms in a whole new way.
You’ll find yourself thinking about how you can merge the technology and the message to create apps and microsites that reinforce your message. You’ll find yourself a participant, not a marketer. And more importantly, you’ll be able to stop buying people’s attention on Facebook.
After marching at Pride in Brighton, All Out’s campaign calling on the International Olympic Committee to condemn Russia’s anti-gay laws caught my eye.
A quick look at their website and I saw something really exciting; All Out has created a hub for a global social movement to challenge homophobia. The campaign targeting the winter Olympics was not just a stand-alone call to action, but the latest in a series of campaigns linking activists across the world for one cause. Watching the film on their home page gave me goose bumps.
Their goal is to build a global membership and at the time of writing that was fast heading towards two million people; with members in every country; speaking every language.
Their approach takes the organising model, used by trade unions and political parties, and shifts it to an online platform combining it with grassroots activism. All Out acts in response to urgent issues facing LGBT people in various parts of the world. They usually work in partnership with local groups to decide the best course of action and to ensure that cultural and legal issues in the region are taken into account.
Whilst some of us were enjoying Pride festivals across the UK, we were acutely aware that in 76 countries being LGBT is a crime and in ten, it is legal grounds for imprisonment or execution. The fear factor alone is enough to stop many people from being open about their sexuality, never mind putting on a public display of support for LGBT rights. Someone else has to take on that role for them and All Out has stepped in.
“Half the world is trending toward greater equality and you have another half where people are criminalised and moving deeper into the shadows.”
Andre Banks, Co-founder and executive director
Using film, petitions, demonstrations and real life stories, All Out mobilises thousands of people with each call to action. My personal favourite was when they brought together a group of mums of LGBT people in Brazil to share their stories after a prominent Brazilian congressman told the press that he’d “prefer a dead son to a gay son”, as an appeal to Brazil’s ‘family values’.
All Out’s Equality Mums staged massive public exhibitions in Rio, São Paulo, and other Brazilian cities. They also took their campaign to Brazil’s National Congress in Brasília, where they participated in a panel about equal rights.
The Mums have generated pro-LGBT press and inspired a positive discussion about LGBT life in Brazil. The group is expanding and will be a part of a national campaign against anti-LGBT violence.
The methods used and sheer numbers involved makes them hard to ignore and international attention puts pressure on global leaders to speak out against homophobia. Campaign targets concerned about their reputation, trade or tourism will be forced to re-think their position.
All Out measures impact by monitoring responses to every post, tweet and email, changes in public conversations and membership growth; but the real indicators of success must surely be government policy and legislative changes.
Their approach is simple, neat and clever – this is international culture change in the making.
With thanks to Guillaume Bonnet, Senior Campaign Manager at All Out
“Girls can’t be scary pirates, only nice pirates”
“Only boys can do Tree Fu Tom’s spells.”
“Pink stickers are for girls and blue stickers are for boys”
Three things said by my three-year-old daughter in recent weeks. It pains my feminist wife to hear them and surprises me how easily these beliefs sneak in. Especially when I’ve so closely monitored the household pink quota!
The problem is role models. Becoming a parent changes the way you see the world in countless ways, but among the most eye-opening has been how rigid children’s media still is about what boys do and what girls do. Once you notice it you start to see it everywhere.
- Toy Story – all the protagonists are male
- Thomas the Tank Engine – one of the few female characters is “a bit bossy” and the other “wants to be like Thomas”
- Octonauts – otherwise brilliant (I secretly enjoy watching it, as do others) but the three main characters are male
- Mike the Knight – Mike wears blue armour and gets to ride around on a horse being daring; his sister Evie wears pink (obvs), pootles behind on a scooter, and her magic always go wrong
Of course it’s not all bleak. Peppa Pig, Sarah and Duck, and Abney and Teal are all great. But, there’s not much derring-do to inspire a young girl pirate!
For that we turned to Brave, Disney’s tale of Merida, a horse-riding, arrow-firing, arranged marriage-rejecting Scottish princess. Brilliant. Oh but hang on, now Disney have re-styled Merida into a “sexualised” version for toys (curves, hair blowing in the wind, lipstick). No wonder over 250,000 people (including me) have signed a petition to keep their hero Brave.
Does any of this matter? According to Girl Guides UK it does as a lack of female role models is damaging the future prospects of girls and young women. They linked the narrow range of role models to limited future aspirations.
And what is all this doing to boys? The Everyday Sexism project and recent Twitter misogyny shows some men still struggle to accept women as equals. Is it too great a leap to imagine that the seeds of this are sown in early role models?
So, the hunt for better role models continues in our household. And in our work. The people who produce and commission children’s media aren’t bad, but I suspect they are a bit lazy at times. In a rush and faced with a creative problem it’s easy to reach for the familiar rather than what’s right or true. We can and should do better.
As for my daughter and pirates. Well, it turns out there are a number of very scary women pirates in history. Perhaps the most famous are Anne Bonney and Mary Read who, under attack from the British Navy, fired upon their cowardly shipmates for hiding below decks. Fine role models for women dealing with anonymous internet abuse I’d say.
There has been much debate in the last week or so about the need for Twitter to do more to protect people from fear inducing online abuse.
A good deal of the commentary has focused on where the line is crossed between free speech and deeply offensive or illegal behaviour. It has raised serious questions about whether Twitter can be effectively policed, and whether abusing someone to the extent that they leave the platform constitutes an infringement on free speech.
These moral questions are not to be made light of. However, any forum that allows people to express themselves freely is always going to be vulnerable to abuse. The question now is not only what Twitter does about it, but what happens if their response is ineffective. This issue extends beyond Twitter, and is important for social media in general.
Go too far with policing by removing anonymity for users and online media will instantly become less appealing to huge swathes of people. Those with a penchant for being controversial will feel their wings have been clipped, while those whose anonymity gave them the courage to seek help would be left vulnerable once more.
The flip side is not to go far enough, leaving cracks for the trolls to slip through and continue their cowardly keyboard crusades behind the veil of a username. In the case of Twitter, some celebrities including Kirsty Allsopp and Matt Lucas felt the need to take a break. In 2009, Stephen Fry threatened to leave because there was, “too much aggression and unkindness around.”
The direct engagement of politicians and celebrities on Twitter has been used to great effect by campaigners and is loved by many users. The loss of high profile Tweeters would take away the magic, removing the channel for everyone to talk directly to their heroes and villains.
For the communications industry, this latest media storm could be a tipping point with dramatic implications. Social media has arguably become the leading platform for engaging audiences and delivering messages. Where individuals now expect a certain level of personal communication when engaging with a brand or organisation, most clients are ever in search of the campaign that is going to reach out directly to those end users in a more meaningful way. Without Twitter as we know it – what would the landscape become? With traditional media still in free fall – what would be left? And what would emerge from the ashes of the social media bonfire?
So over to you Twitter, to find a solution which strikes the balance between freedom and protection which works for the majority and doesn’t turn the world of social media into a playground for bullies.
An unenviable task but one which shall be watched by the world – and particularly those whose job it is to communicate.
This week, finally, Claremont made the move in to our new home.
We chose to stay in Clerkenwell, just a stone’s throw from the bars and lunchtime delights of Exmouth Market. Like many of the buildings in the area, our office was formally a craft workshop and is thought to have been a silversmith and clock maker at various times.
Today it is a fantastic modern work space – bare bricks, spiral staircase, loads of natural light, B&W sound system. It isn’t flash, but it is a really comfortable place to work.
At the moment we are still working out how to use the microwave and where to dispose of recycling, but hopefully soon we can focus on more exciting stuff.
For example, there are ambitious plans for the meeting room. ‘Meeting room’ is a bit of a misnomer as we want it to be primarily a creative space where groups can collaborate, work together to solve problems and generate ideas. Meetings are secondary; the chairs have been chosen so people don’t get too comfy, the tables will flip and fold, the walls are being specially painted so they can be scribbled on and used as massive whiteboards.
Our aspiration is to run the office on ‘open house’ principles where our associates, partners and clients can grab a hot desk, use the room for their own events and generally get involved in fruity conversations while waiting for the kettle to boil.
What’s more, we are thrilled to be moving in to our new home alongside our friends from Helpful Technology – a truly trailblazing firm who very much share our values and aspirations.
For me personally, moving in to this office is a big moment. At times it hasn’t seemed entirely real – we’ve been simply too busy to take it all in. So last weekend I came in to the office and just sat quietly for a moment to say hello to the place. It was wonderful.
In November, Claremont will be five years old (how did that happen?)… watch this space for news of our planned birthday party. The podiums, dancing bears and fire breathers are already on order.
As this heat wave continues we’ve got our own internal campaign going on to try and keep the Claremont crew’s body temperatures below boiling point. In doing so it dawned on me that the strategies we’re using to keep cool actually share many similarities with some of the key approaches used in a successful communications strategy. Here goes…
First we have the ‘air con’ approach* to keeping cool.
This, if you like, is the type of communications activity that pleases the masses and reaches many. It keeps lots and lots of people happy (cool) and informed with one quick action. In communications terms this would translate as your above the line, broad-brush activity such as advertising on a national basis (think TV, billboards, press, radio, events) and although often the more expensive route it is a very effective way to build a foundation for delivering key messages, raise the profile of your campaign and get quick results in terms of reach.
This one size fits all ‘air con’ approach is undeniably a winner, however, adopting such large scale activity means not all audiences can be reached in a way that is necessarily appropriate for them. This approach can often overlook key groups of people, or worse, irritate them (much in the same way an air con unit can annoy people in the office – perhaps those with asthma or those sat next to the unit with the annoying squeaky noise). This could lead to lack of engagement in a campaign at a micro level therefore we need to think about other tactics to supplement this kind of activity if we’re going to engage all our audiences.
Next up is the ‘electric fan’ approach
To me, this bears resemblance to the process of stakeholder relations. Much like when you realise you only have one or two fans but lots of people in an office, this approach is ALL about forming targeted partnerships and reaching compromise in order to get your desired outcome. In a communications context this is about recognising the most suitable partners to help you spread your key messages to the right audience for your campaign. In a cooling off context it’s quite simply about sharing your fan with the right person!
This style of comms requires careful upfront consideration of who to approach, how to approach them, sufficient compromise and collaboration between all parties involved, and clear communication about what you all want out of the situation. With this you’re aiming for a mutually beneficial situation, such as ‘I want the fan on rotate so we both get a slice of the cool air’.
The result? This is a smaller scale approach and you’re reaching fewer people overall but you’re targeting them directly with specific key messages which helps you to ensure they are fully on board with the campaign. In turn partners (stakeholders) will be more likely to help you disseminate your campaign messages through their own audiences thus widening your reach.
But what about those hard to reach..?
Ice Lolly approach
This is where the ice lolly approach comes into its own, although as far as I’m concerned it should be at the core of all our work as this is all about understanding your audience(s) and offering them something they want in a way they want it. Crucial for any campaign, this should be a key consideration for anyone carrying out communications activity.
Think about it…you wouldn’t dare make a trip to the ice cream van on behalf of colleagues without a little bit of market research in the office first. You need to really discover what people want from a lolly.. so, do the same with a campaign. With any campaign you’ve got to unpick your audience: their behaviour; their needs; the things that make them tick. You’ve got to separate the ‘Feast fans’ from the ‘Magnum munchers’ and use that insight to develop micro-level communications activity that will engage them in the campaign. Get this right and you’re onto a good thing.
Most decent communications strategies for projects aiming to reach a range of audiences will adopt a tiered and integrated approach to cover all grounds therefore it isn’t unusual to think that you could have the air con on, fans blowing in a couple of corners and half the office eating ice lollies. This just means people are engaging in the campaign in the way that suits them.
*we don’t actually have air-con
Today’s PR Week report that we’ve been appointed by the National Careers Service to work on their summer PR campaign is huge news for us and another chance to use PR to help people change their lives for the better.
Millions of people, of all ages and backgrounds, desperately need the tools and advice the National Careers Service provides to help them actively manage their careers.
But our first job is to understand more about what people are looking for and the language they use.
And, nine times out of ten, the people who need the advice the National Careers Service provide won’t be searching for careers, they’ll be looking for jobs and work. So we’ve been busy bringing ourselves up to speed on what people actually say, speaking to advisers who deliver the advice.
Do people ring up and ask for careers advice? No, they say “I want to become an electrician”, “I need to find a job I enjoy”, “I’m confused about how I can get promoted,” “I’ve lost my job.”
And on social media, people say “I’m on a job hunt today wish me luck” and “I’m struggling with my CV. Help.”
Messaging and language is key to successful PR and keeping the language of the national mood in mind will be key to the National Careers Service activity we’re delivering.
When there are a lot of edgy campaigns focused on job losses, the Bedroom Tax and cuts to the NHS battling it out for publicity ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), it can be tough to get attention. So, fair play to the Woodland Trust for setting out the economic case for trees and wildlife – I’m guessing many people probably didn’t realise there was one to make!
Rather than protest about austerity plans or demand no cuts to DEFRA’s budget the Woodland Trust wanted to send the Treasury ‘a twiggy tap on the shoulder’ that forests give great return on investment and they provided some killer stats. For example, according to the Forestry Commission, wood processing and paper industries along with recreational visits to forests and woodlands contribute £4.7 billion to the English economy.
My favourite statistic was that if every household in Britain had access to quality green space it could save £2.1 billion in health care costs. Given that the UK is one of the least wooded countries in Europe, I found myself pretty convinced by the need to invest for the potential NHS savings alone.
What I liked most about this campaign was it that the Woodland Trust kept it short and snappy but managed to use a variety of media to communicate their message. They set up an electronic version of a ‘banknote’ but also went ‘old school’ and created a paper version for a selection of members who have not previously campaigned for them and who have not given email addresses – a good example of inclusive campaigning and building your active supporter base at the same time. The campaign team also made a short film, developed a Wordle and ran a blog series that included a guest post from a former Head of the Forestry Commission (FC).
They told me that they recognised their campaign was ‘not exactly sexy’ but in the 14 days the campaign was open in June, 5,209 people sent one of their special notes to Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander MP.
The campaign team know from Treasury insiders that their notes and emails were received by their target, Danny Alexander. But the team didn’t stop there, they also secured time with key individuals at the FC and at DEFRA, and on the back of the campaign got a thirty minute meeting with George Osborne’s Special Adviser at the Treasury.
I think that kind of result in a 14-day campaign is pretty sexy!
With many thanks to Kaye Brennan, Senior Campaigner at the Woodland Trust for sending me her campaign for consideration and especially for giving me that wonderful phrase, ‘a twiggy tap on the shoulder’.
There is always the possibility of running into a sticky situation at work. This may be with a colleague, a client, or the general public.
Inspired by Chris Holmes who wrote his resignation letter in icing on a cake, I have compiled a few examples of other companies who have “made light of a sticky situation”.
Chris Holmes “Resignation Cake”
After years of working for the UK border force agency at Stansted, Chris Holmes decided to resign and start his new journey with his quickly expanding cake-making business. Leaving a company (especially after being there for so long) can always be daunting, and Chris decided he would try to make the experience memorable, light hearted and positive (whilst also advertising his new company!).
So, he made this:
This was a really thoughtful, creative way to inform his colleagues, friends and management of his decision to leave. Making a memorable experience really positive for all those involved in what can be a life changing decision allows you to share the experience in a fond way.
Be careful however, even Chris had a back up hard copy of the resignation letter which he gave to HR, just in case the evidence of giving notice didn’t ever reach them!
So here are a few organisations that have based their campaigns on making light of a situation…
This year’s ‘Movember‘ (grow a moustache in November to raise awareness of prostate cancer) made light of a sticky issue which can be very uncomfortable for some people to talk about. Instead of talking directly about the disease, the male public was encouraged to support the cause by growing their ‘tashes, thus generating interest around the subject due to the visual impact it had on the community.
As explained on the Movember UK website, “Mo Bros (guys growing their moustache in aid of the cause) effectively become walking, talking billboards for the 30 days of November and through their actions and words raise awareness by prompting private and public conversation around the often ignored issue of men’s health.”
However, if you were thinking of doing a similar campaign, be aware of the timeframe the charity had. This was an ongoing campaign which had been up and running for many years. This year was particularly successful because although the public were encouraged to donate funds to the charity, the main emphasis was on growing your moustache, whilst big corporations (like HP sauce) funded the cause, meaning there was less pressure on giving and more about doing.
S.S – No one wants to talk about cancer
C.S – Showing public support in a fun, non-invasive way
2) Oreo “You Can Still Dunk in the Dark”
Oreo made light of a sticky situation at this years Super Bowl in New Orleans when the stadium was hit by a blackout. The companies social media team hit Twitter to produce an image of an Oreo light up in a dark space, with the phrase “Power out, No problem”.
The tweet was an instant hit, with over 15,000 retweets within the first 14 hours of it’s release. Other brands followed suit including Calvin Klein, Volkswagen and Tide detergent. However, they didn’t get the same viral response due to the lack of urgency in delivering the ad. Riding the wave of a crisis (where everybody has already expressed interest on social media) can be a brilliant way to make light of a sticky situation.
S.S – Power out
C.S – A fast response gets the message across
However, do be careful when doing this. Assess the crisis you’re dealing with and recognise that a quick quip in some circumstances might actually backfire. A recent example of this was American Apparel who offered a 20% discount online to certain areas hit by hurricane Sandy whilst the victims of the storm were stuck indoors.
3) Reprieve “It Wasn’t Me”
Human rights charity Reprieve teamed up with Lush Soaps and creative digital agency Don’t Panic London to produce a short parody mocking US President Barack Obama’s denial of the use of drones on innocent civilians in the middle East. The message here is incredibly important – according to Don’t Panic London, 4,700 people from Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan have been executed without trial using drones – and yet, hardly anybody is aware of this.
Instead of targeting an audience that may already have an interest in politics, Don’t Panic London focused the parody on a younger generation, who have come to idolise the President for his celebrity fame and affiliation with other celebrities rather than his political ability to lead America.
Followed by a Twitter and Facebook push, this was a brilliantly targeted campaign reaching a young audience and trying to communicate the need for change.
S.S – Obama is untouchable and people don’t want to attack him
C.S – Create a parody
So, next time you need to make light of a sticky situation, target your audience effectively, act quickly and create a strong message to get people talking.
Claremont offer training courses on crisis communications. If you want to know more, contact Simon Booth-Lucking on 07773 firstname.lastname@example.org
I had the immense privilege of mentoring WordPress at Campaign Bootcamp – a five day residential training session for Britain’s most talented young campaigners, and I wanted to share a few thoughts about my experience.
At first, I have to admit, the idea seemed completely bonkers. Thirty young campaigners – the UK’s most promising – holed up in a conference centre for a week, without much sleep, gathering knowledge it took most of us years to accumulate.
Even as a big admirer of the “crash course” approach, I was sceptical. The sheer depth and breadth of the course was astonishing. Campaign strategy, social, SEO, crisis management – there was even a session on relational databases! How much information can one person take in without sleep?
I pitched up on the day I was mentoring not knowing what I would find. Lots of clapping and cheering. An abundance of coffee cups (and indeed, flasks). The sense of organised chaos. A lot of tired-looking young people. It was only day two – how would the band of campaigners bear up?
As the sessions continued, I saw people grow. First lines of HTML were coded – “I made it bold!”. Putative WordPress websites were created by people with no knowledge of the platform mere hours earlier. I began to field questions about optimising the landing pages. I saw quiet people becoming confident.
And then we moved into a campaign scenario. The town of Fakefordshire and the battle to stop the privatisation of the police force came alive. I could see eyes light up and people coming into their element. Suddenly everything became very task focused. Labour was divided quickly and efficiently. My mentoring became minimal prodding toward a conclusion.
And the warmth in the room! The energy! The passion! The glue of any campaign – the camaraderie – had somehow been recreated. No-one gave a second thought to the fact that it was nearing midnight. Still less that the next day would begin at 7. There was a campaign on.
Simon and myself went along to the closing party, which we at Claremont sponsored. One speech spoke of how they felt the Bootcamp had given them the confidence to go out into the world and change the world. A generation often buffeted by events took control. Another Bootcamp was demanded – by the participants themselves.
I said at the time it was the “best thing I had done all year” – perhaps a brave thing to say during your bi-annual appraisal, but heartfelt nonetheless.
The only question now – how can it be topped next year? I don’t know, but I’m sure Kat, Johnny, Casper, Tom and the crew have a plan…