In the age of social media, I think that one of the things that IS incredibly encouraging in human terms is that to achieve really great brand exposure for your clients' products or businesses, a generosity of commercial spirit is essential.
Nowadays every media personality will have their own Instagram or Twitter account, with regular updates and videos. As we all know, traditional media has now been joined by a host of bloggers and vloggers, all with their own highly engaged media audiences, with very impressive viewership figures. And of course traditional media has joined this new arena, with their own journalists creating their own engaged online media communities.
In 2018, when you are organising a client media launch, whereas ten years ago you would expect (if you were lucky!) perhaps two to three broadcast media to come along, now you could be expecting 30 media ‘presenters’, all with their own channels and very specific and large audiences and followers.
Another golden rule of media relations has also shifted in this social media age – the refusal by media operators to allow other competitors access. Whereas before media titles would refuse to allow any reference to their competitors, now in this new age, inclusivity is the key, both to achieve the full media coverage potential and to position themselves as being a key part of this modern digital age.
Not mentioning or referencing any other media influencers will not achieve social media currency for any operator. Brands and media partners now have to allow other brands into their particular commercial landscapes to achieve the commercial exposure they need.
Media will now cover the antics of these celebrity Instagramers and vloggers, even though strictly speaking they are all running their own media channels. So even more personalities have joined an already crowded pool, thanks to social media and all this content also now makes up a huge proportion of stories that are carried by traditional media outlets.
As recently as 2015, Zoella, one of the most influential vloggers of last few years, made an appearance on the Great British Bake Off. At the time. the traditional media responded with general apathy, questioning whether she had sufficient celebrity to qualify as part of the cast of actors and presenters. Now, only three years on, I doubt that would be the same response, as now we all know that she reaches ten million plus followers and probably has more influence with consumers than the rest of the cast put together.
This just shows all the shifts in the media landscape that have happened, and the fluidity that the social media channels bring. Things are changing and will continue to do so. Being rigid and not welcoming in all these new personalities and influencers, and their channels and followers, would mean that your brand or business would miss out on all the possible media and brand exposure now and in the future.
Westgate are currently working on a series of rebrands for a diverse range of companies and organisations, all of which will launch in the next few months.
Our aim with a logo is always to make it the most succinct and visual articulation of a company's or organisation's proposition. Here are some of the latest brand marks – we are really proud of this creative work, so why not take a look below?
ICG is a strategic development and construction consultancy that provides a full range of design and consultancy services for both the public and private sectors.
The new brand mark we created uses an abstract form to communicate both construction and development – without resorting to explicit images of buildings. There are suggestions of growth with individual block shapes representing the three current service areas (design consultancy, construction services, and land and property).
The versatility of the ICG mark is perfectly demonstrated here in application on and offline.
The Volaw Group
VG is a leading independent provider of fiduciary and administration solutions based in Jersey.
Once we had a brand strategy and name agreed, we had an effective brand platform to develop the brand mark. We created a monogram for VG, taking our cue from VG (“very good”) using a unique, tick shape symbol to illustrate how VG works effectively as part of its clients’ teams – going beyond the norms of what is expected, The VG ‘tick’ communicates getting it right first time, every time, for clients, staff and partners, resulting in customer delight. This is a very flexible brand mark that can be used in many different ways both on and offline and is highly distinct in the market place.
Beyond Conflict is a mental health charity operating in conflict zones. Its proposition is to ‘Conquer the crisis we can’t see'
We developed a mark that communicates not only how a child sees the world of conflict, but more importantly how Beyond Conflict works to reshape their futures, leading them towards a brighter path. This very distinct mark has been applied to a WordPress website along with a range of on and offline marketing material.
If you would like to talk to one of the expert team here at Westgate about helping you to develop a new creative brand and an online marketing strategy, to deliver greater commercial impact for your business, please email email@example.com. We would love to hear from you!.
One of the most common questions we get asked as an agency is how much content? Clients always want to know the level of content they should be placing on social media platforms and in traditional media.
It’s never straightforward and our answers to these questions will always vary but in my view there are some fundamentals that can be applied, whatever the business scenario.
Know your audience
Firstly you have to understand (along the lines of David Attenborough...) the characteristics and idiosyncrasies of the potential customers and influencers you are trying to reach. And before you start writing blogs, drafting reports, sourcing industry data, producing videos etc. etc. you need to think about the type of commercial messaging that will actually resonate with your target audiences.
Getting to know you
Knowing your audience is so important here. What do they really want to hear about? Latest industry trends? Educational insights? Or would they rather see amusing educational videos? Also what tone of voice and content will resonate with them? A formal transactional style or would they react more positively to a more informal casual approach?
Once you have agreed on the type of content and the overall style and approach you can start considering the level of content.
Now decide how much
If you are targeting senior decision makers the “less is more” approach, with the focus more on quality than quantity, will be the best option. A steady flow of well researched updates placed on selected target platforms will generate high levels of engagement with potential audiences, as opposed to multiple superficial posts which soon lose their impact and just bore your audience, not enticing them to engage with you.
If you are targeting a broader audience, an increased level of content updates will work well, spread across a wider range of platforms. This way, a broader seeding of content will hopefully create traction with all your target prospects at some point in all of their social media journeys.
But again, although in this case these updates need not be in-depth and can be more frequent, they must still meet the quality criteria – e.g. in line with agreed company and product messages, as well as being accurate and punchy. You can post amusing videos but all this broadcast content must still tick the corporate messaging box, no matter how ‘spontaneous’ or casual it may seem.
Time for content
But whoever you are targeting online or what content you are planning to seed, the overriding issue, and one which is often overlooked, is still the time your audience, whoever they are and whatever they do, actually has to engage with content. In our digital age. time is increasingly a rare commodity for most of us.
This is particularly pertinent for video – you really do need to get your key messages over in a punchy way within the first 10 to 20 seconds or risk being clicked away.
So no finite answers here, but the best way to navigate your way through the content maze is to understand your audience and really think about how much time they will really have to read tweets, look at video, read blogs etc across their working week.
Just think about their likely weekly diary, including their down time at the weekend, and this schedule will indicate pretty clearly the level of content from you they will be able to digest and engage with.
Before we start designing the ‘look and feel’ of a website, we will develop a site plan and wireframes.
A key part of designing an effective website is focusing on the online customer journey or User Experience (UX) – get this right and you can create a very ‘sticky’ website that users find compelling and will then keep revisiting time and again.
To start developing an effective UX it’s important to have a deep understanding of the whole cross section of users, so that you know what they are looking for, what they value and their abilities and limitations so you have a clear outline of their online user habits.
While developing the UX it is always important to keep front of mind the business goals and objectives of the web design project so that you can make the best informed decisions. An effective UX improves the quality of the user’s interaction of the website and enhances perception of the product or service that you are marketing.
When we develop a website design we always spend lots of time on creating compelling content. It is very important this is creative and original so that it fulfils user's needs. We will consider typical user journeys throughout the site and produce wireframe schematics to illustrate how the user can navigate from page to page, outlining how they will encounter typical content on their journey. This approach also includes thoughts on how navigation menus will work and how the site will appear on both desktop and mobile devices.
During the design process we will continually test and research different user journeys. We focus on understanding user behaviours and their needs and motivations. Our observation techniques include task analysis and reviewing feedback from users on a range of different devices. We continually evaluate usability, focusing on how users learn and interact with the interface, to help us to anticipate what users need and to ensure that the website design is easy to access, comprehend and that the quality content can be easily shared. As we develop the final web design we focus on ensuring that design ‘look and feel’ enhances the user experience and strongly reflects the brand’s values and positioning.
Once the website is live we then use powerful web analytics to collect data on user visits, habits and behaviours. This then gives us the opportunity to develop and enhance the UX, resulting in a very effective online marketing tool which helps our clients achieve their commercial goals.
We work with a wide range of companies and organisations, helping them to develop impactful communications strategies online. If you would like to talk to one of the expert team here at Westgate about helping you to develop a creative approach to your online marketing needs, to deliver greater commercial impact for your business, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you!.
This blog is dark and full of Season 7 spoilers…
As we mourn the fantasy series’ departure from our screens (until potentially 2019!), we have taken solace in reflecting on what we have learnt from the drama. In the process, we recognised a number of strategies that carry across to the modern PR industry.
1) Plan how and when to unleash your dragons
We may not have dragons but, occasionally, a wondrous and unique story arrives that makes PR legend. This story fills PR practitioners with excitement, as we know that this is something that every journalist in the Kingdom (or at least occupying the top tier of our media lists) will want to cover. In turn we will be able to create amazing, impactful coverage for our client that will be sung about by minstrels – perhaps even recent cast member Ed Sheeran – for years to come.
As we know, PR success can depend so much on timing and with rare and magical stories such as these, we want to release them at the moments that will create the most shock and awe. Creating multiple media angles offers each outlet a slightly different take on a story, allowing us to release news to a number of publications and generating a greater impact.
Daenerys has successfully done this throughout the series; each time a dragon appears on the show we see something more spectacular. From their hatching at the end of Season 1 to the first time Daenerys flies Drogon (Season 5, Episode 9), the audience never tires of seeing dragons.
Even in this series we are still learning more. We discover that dragons aren’t infallible – with Bronn’s attack, (Season 7, Episode 4) and the Night King’s javelin-throwing (Season 7, Episode 6). We also see that they have a softer side as Drogon enjoys being stroked by Jon Snow (Season 7, Episode 5). And who could’ve predicted that Viserion would become a wight dragon, breathing blue flames to destroy the Wall (Season 7, Episode 7)?!
Lesson: Give your audience exciting new content and they will keep wanting to hear more.
2) Winter is coming
If something is going to happen it pays to keep reminding your media contacts that it will be happening, whether it is releasing your client’s annual financials, launching a new product launch or organising a huge event.
Since Game of Thrones first aired, the Stark family has been heralding the arrival of winter and urging the population to prepare for it. Winter officially arrived at the end of Season 6, yet in Season 7, only Winterfell, the seat of the Stark family, is stockpiling ahead of the years of bad weather, dwindling food supplies and the Long Night. Building preparation time into PR plans will certainly help to ensure that your messaging is right, your strategy is in place and also allows you to warm up the media.
Lesson: Planning for preparation pays off.
3) Make the right amount of noise about your achievements
PR is all about making your voice heard and your accomplishments known and this series aired a scene that could not have demonstrated the power of introduction more.
In the third episode of the latest season, two major characters, Daenerys and Jon Snow, meet for the first time. Daenerys is announced by an incredibly long list of titles and achievements, whereas Jon Snow is introduced as “Jon Snow”, followed simply by “King in the North”.
This scene demonstrates two extremes, both introductions risk failing to make an impact particularly when pitching your client into the press. On the one hand, bombarding the journalist with so much background information about your client that they are bored before you reach the crux of your story fails to secure interest. On the other hand, by failing to properly introduce your client or make their importance known, you risk oblivion and wasting your whole launch strategy. Strike a balance when pitching to press, exude Daenerys’ confidence and major accomplishments but do it as succinctly as Jon Snow.
Lesson: Craft a short descriptor to introduce clients to the press, within it champion the most interesting points to capture attention.
Incorporate these three lessons into your next communications strategy and, while you may not be able to sit on the Iron Throne, your story could be shared across the seven kingdoms.