How PR is like Connell’s chain from BBC’s Normal People

It’s safe to say that the breakout star from BBC drama Normal People is Connell’s Chain. After premiering in late April, the curb chain worn by the lead character has not only gained its own Instagram account, with over 160K followers, but actor Paul Mescal’s (Connell) personal chain is currently being auctioned off for charity and has already raised over £14,000 (yes, we have bid more than once). Nobody could predict that a simple silver chain would cause such a stir, and become the most talked-about feature of the entire show - but here we are, drooling over a necklace. 

In this blog, we explore the parallel between the enigmatic power of Connell’s Chain and the world of PR. 

Shareability/getting people talking 

Just like the chain, one of the most important aspects of digital PR is shareability. In simple terms, our job is to find the ‘Connell’s Chain’ and put it at the heart of a campaign to get people talking. Sure, it wasn't easy to predict the chain’s fame, but it’s all about future-gazing. Social media is your best friend when it comes to finding your next big viral PR idea; it’s so important that we are monitoring the trending topics and conversations people are having, as there is no point in pitching an idea if nobody is going to talk about it.

Whether it be creating a custom Twitter hashtag for your campaign, briefing and pitching your brand spokesperson to offer comment on current topics, or executing quick sales data from your brand and sharing with the media- PR is the shareability, virality part of your marketing strategy. This is how we earn people’s attention, and then respect.

Adds value throughout

It can be said that the chain had a consistent role to play across the entire series, acting as the complementing feature to Connell’s character throughout the beginning, middle and end of the storyline. Similarly, just like the chain provides value throughout, digital PR has a role to play across all layers of the Purchase Funnel, acting like the rocket fuel to your entire marketing strategy and amplifying your efforts at the awareness, consideration, and conversion stage.

Traditional thinkers may see PR fit squarely into the consideration stage, sometimes crossing over into the awareness stage. However, the dynamics of digital channels mean that PR can now have an impact at the conversion stage too. Take for example a campaign based on partnerships with social media influencers. This can be used to drive referral and affiliate sales, plus, with the rise of shoppable social, it’s an area that offers huge potential for PR. Campaigns that generate opportunities for shoppable social can benefit all stages of the funnel. PR adds value throughout.

Connection 

Just like the chain connects around Connell’s sleek and muscular collarbone, the chain has also connected the nation during this worldwide pandemic. You could also say that PR is the ‘connecting chain’ in your marketing strategy. Traditionally, PR has been focused on media relations, including crafting strong relationships with journalists for your client. More often than not, clients separate PR and marketing activity.

But, it’s essential that brands understand the connection between marketing and PR, as separating them often leads to missed opportunities. PR and marketing perform much better when we work together and create a brand strategy that will work on both sides.

In short, something as unassuming as a silver chain on an (unquestionably) handsome man’s neck has connected the nation, and PR can be harnessed to do the same for your marketing strategy.

 

 


SABRE In2 Awards EMEA honours ShareThyme

A chance supermarket encounter between a 79 year old Bangladeshi woman and a 32 year old techie became the inspiration for our work with ShareThyme, a digital platform to help combat loneliness.

Since its launch, it’s attracted a community of enthusiastic supporters and united young and old people through a shared love of cooking.

We’ve been working with Red Badger and our agency partners 10x on this project and are proud that this picked up further recognition (after receiving an Honorable Mention in Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas 2020) as it has been awarded a Certificate of Excellence in the Best in Digital Brand Platforms category in the In2 SABRE Awards EMEA.

You can read more about the project on Red Badger’s website here.


How to inspire and foster creativity in the workplace

Whilst it’s easy to recall all-singing, all-dancing campaigns when asked about creativity in PR- Thames-floating, shock-inducing, tear-shedding ideas- creativity runs much deeper than that. It’s the foundation for progress and innovation- from pitching to ways of working.

Great PR has to have creativity at the core. Not only because it is a prerequisite to effective communication, but because PR is stepping up as a competitor to its siblings; marketing and ad giants have positioned ‘creative’ as their beating heart since their inception, and PR needs to do the same. And no, you don’t need a Creative Director to set that benchmark in your team (although it does help).

 Creativity unlocks an agile advantage because it demonstrates an understanding that innovation is fundamental to keeping up with how audiences and people change. In this sense, any agency worth its salt needs to foster an entire culture that inspires and supports creativity, in all its forms. That means acknowledging that not everyone’s creativity is nurtured and brought out in the same way- and investing in accommodating this.

 What might help, are the following tried-and-tested tips for what we have found to make the biggest difference.

 1. Start with a diverse team

Bringing a rich tapestry of experience, identity and talent together is absolutely your most powerful creative asset, and competitive advantage. The best ideas are informed not just by a rich set of data, but by diverse minds.

Diversity has long been an issue in PR and the wider creative industries, and the agencies will only fall short of the best work because of it.

This needs to continue beyond recruitment and into process. At Fanclub, we have a flat structure when it comes to creative ideation for campaigns. Everyone gets involved, together- from interns to directors.

 2. Workspace autonomy

 People need to have autonomy of their own workspace, schedule and way of working to accommodate the true definition of ‘creative thinking’: how people approach problems with solutions. This can depend on so many things, beyond personality and skill.

 Allow flexibility with working hours, where people work and their own day-to-day process.

 Don’t just allow flexibility, but support it. This can also make all the difference to retaining great creative talent- a lack of practical support to help balance work and family life, for example, can mean losing them.

3. Brainstorming: consider time and space

Our MD, Adrian, always says that his best ideas come to him in the shower. Each to their own, truly. Mine usually strike me a few hours deep on Reddit (I like to think of it as ethnographic research…).

 The point is that ideas are not always born inside the confines of a meeting room, in a pressured, time-constrained brainstorm. Plus, not everyone feels comfortable shouting out ideas. Let your team stew, think, ponder and be struck by inspiration outside of the office.

 For campaigns, you might not always be blessed with a decent response time (but that’s for another blog post), but encouraging people to take a walk, sleep on things and contribute in their own time and using their own format will lead to stronger ideation.

4. Always-on creativity and a culture of proactivity  

 Don’t just ask for or rely on creativity once you have a problem or a brief. Encourage an always-on approach to ideas-sharing and creative inspiration.

 At Fanclub, we hold a weekly Open Practice Brainstorm for the entire agency, in which we develop a brief for an existing client or prospective one, and develop ideas in pairs over the week. Not only does this mean we mix up collaboration across the team, but we’ve got a stream of creative sessions and ideas at any given time.

 We also have Slack channels dedicated to sharing creative case studies and thought leadership, as well as a weekly forum to discuss them.

5. Moving away from the pressure of big ideas

 Thinking creatively is not just about huge, integrated campaign ideas. Smart creativity is being proactive with smaller ideas, and not just for smaller campaigns; reactive opportunities, strategic copy, byline ideas, and suggestions for better ways of working are all great ways of demonstrating a creative mindset.

Fostering proactivity like this, for clients and the agency team, showcases the impact of always-on creative thinking and the power of creative solution.

6. Support self-identifying ‘non-creatives’

Everyone has met someone who says that they’re just ‘not very creative’. More often than not, this comes from people believing that to be creative means to strive to be a Creative Director, or simply an issue of confidence. But, as we know, everyone has the capacity for creative thinking in their role. And whilst some might think it can’t be taught, they’re wrong- it’s about exercising those muscles more and more.

Those who lack confidence can often end up sabotaging their potential. It’s up to managers to help them explore what it means to be creative, and help empower them with confidence to share ideas and platform their day-to-day creativity. 

Emily Barnes - Account Director at Fanclub PR

 

 

 

 

 


Congratulations Red Badger team!

We are excited to announce that Red Badger’s ShareThyme has been given an honorable mention in Fast Company’s 2020 World Changing Ideas Awards. The platform has been selected for not one, but two mentions in both the Health & Wellbeing and Corporate Social Responsibility categories.

Positive social impact is a key driving force to the work we do Fanclub and integral to our team values, both personally and professionally. As such, we are delighted to be part of such a fantastic project like ShareThyme that’s helping to combat loneliness by bringing generations together through a shared love of cooking.

To see the full list of awards visit Fast Company’s website.

 


By Lina Prestwood, producer of the FT's "Culture Call' podcast

Anyone can make a podcast - but with 900,000 series and 30 million episodes available on Apple as I type how do you make a good branded one, one that will actually cut through? After years of working in both television docs and on award-winning branded content in both video and audio, here are some brief thoughts, questions and tips for brands to consider before pressing record.

  1. A podcast is not your field of dreams; just because you build it doesn’t mean they’ll come - in a cacophonous market where discoverability is the main challenge your podcast has to really give the audience something they can’t get anywhere else. What is your brand’s superpower to exploit? Once you have established that, figure out what you want your podcast to achieve and how you will super-serve your audience (for, indeed, you must)  in order to hit that target.

  2. Clarify your proposition again and again and again until you can articulate it in one sentence. It will inform EVERYTHING you do from top to bottom whether it’s booking guests, writing questions, choosing music and marketing your work.  Think about at least one format point that gives you, your guests and your listeners a guiding principle for the conversation. From Desert Island Discs to Reply All to TED Radio Hour all have clear format points and a clarity of editorial focus that their audience know and love. Be specific, be niche - that will win you fans in podcast land.

  3. Create a clear sonic identity for your series and treat it with the care that you would any other part of your branding -- think of your favourite podcasts and chances are you will be able to hear them clearly in your head. (Hopefully it goes without saying that you need to ensure your podcast’s tech is up to the job, and that you need to edit your podcast properly -  inarticulate ramblings and unsatisfying tangents can occur in even the most intelligent of conversations, no doubt, but lose them or lose your audience). While we are here: cough up a few hundred quid for your own theme music and some stings exclusive to your brand and treat your producer to access to a music library - it doesn’t have to be expensive. Check out Epidemic, for example.

  4. Whether it’s Serial, Jessie Ware’s Table Manners or The Guardian’s Today in Focus, all good podcasts  - i.e. the ones you genuinely look forward to updating in your feed and happily share -  are, at their core, entertaining stories and so get a producer who values editorial pre-production as much as technical production. By researching your guests and putting genuine thought into your discussion and scripts ahead of time you are respecting your contributors and your listeners - and your host will come off as an absolute star; the women I work with at the FT on Culture Call are brilliant interviewers as a result of the remarkable journalistic integrity they bring to the table. Culture Call is an extension of the FT brand - it’s hosted by two FT editors and brings listeners behind the scenes every now and then but ultimately our listeners stay for the fact that they have two smart as hell hosts talking to the people who are pushing culture forward.

  5. Before you start, ring-fence your branding clearly - will you mention it once at the top and leave it? Half way through? Or even just in the artwork and not at all in the audio? However heavily or lightly your brand features please don’t try and subtly drop it in ninja style - podcast audiences readily understand that brands pay for great content but won’t take kindly to feeling like they’re being tricked into listening to an advert.

Lina Prestwood is a former documentaries commissioning editor at Channel 4 and executive producer at Virtue where she was responsible for the branded content of brands such as Mazda and Lexus, including the viral film First Flight for Vodafone (which won a couple of Cannes Lions and a Lovie and was watched over 4m times on YouTube). Her audio documentaries about Fathers and Sons for Mr. Porter took gold for Best Branded and Podcast of the Year at the British Podcast Awards in 2017 and she currently produces Culture Call for the FT.

Listen to Lina's podcast by clicking the image below.

Welcome Davnet Doran

I first met Davnet when I started working at Consolidated Communications (which is now part of Four Communications). She was more senior to me and earmarked as a rising star in the agency. Then she left us and quickly worked her way to up to become a director at Cake, delivering work that turned us green with envy.

Since then, she’s gone on to do more great things at Unity and M&C Saatchi PR, as I followed two steps behind in her wake at other agencies. Clients and colleagues who had the fortune to work with her described her to me as a “Leg end” (sic) and “a class act”, because of her uncanny ability to bring the best out of people, and offer empathetic and valuable counsel to board-level clients.

I’d always harboured a mix of respect and jealousy for her career, but finally I can lay rest to the latter and nurture the former, because Davnet’s joined the team as our non executive director.

Davnet will work closely with me to ensure that Fanclub retains its unique people-led culture as we grow, and will also help us deliver strategic high-level consultancy to our clients.

You can probably tell that I’m pretty chuffed to be finally working with Davnet. London’s PR industry doesn’t have a great reputation when it comes to looking after its people. I’ve high hopes that with Davnet’s help, we’ll be able to show the industry that a culture that puts people first can lead to commercial success and creative excellence.


The women who inspire Fanclub

Today is International Women’s Day: a day to celebrate women, a day to highlight the gender inequalities that many women still face, and a day to work together to overcome them.

From mothers to daughters, writers to entrepreneurs, there are a wealth of inspiring women who surround us every single day, and we hope to continue to learn more about their spirit and ambition. To celebrate International Women’s day today, we asked the team to tell us about women who personally inspire them.  The result is a list of truly wonderful women who have inspired us to be passionate and tenacious in being our best selves and striving to help others around us.

 

Liz Travis, aka my mum. She continues to inspire me each and every day with her eternal patience (with me, anyway!); selflessness, generosity and love- and for putting her children before her every step of the way. She not only conquers adversity with steely determination and an unflappable sense of being, but does so whilst being one of the most glamorous and stylish women I have the pleasure of knowing. 

- Georgie

 

Marta Krupinska, Co-Founder of Azimo, is one of the most impressive and passionate entrepreneurs who inspires me.  Ambitious, honest and a champion for diversity, she’s a great role model for anyone who wants to help change or make the world a better place. Also, the boxer Nicola Adams, who proved that determination, hard work and sacrifices can lead to achieving global recognition and success (and she’s been turned into a Barbie doll!)

Jonny

 

Jenni Cochrane, Director of Culture and Partnerships at AEI Media. Jenni has been someone I’ve admired since the day I met her (when I interviewed her for a piece on women in the music industry). She has such an amazing presence that’s captivating and stays with you. She’s smart and strong, she’s a mother, a director at a really cool business and she’s a woman that’s worked and thrived in a male-dominated world for years, Jenni is inspiring on so many levels.  

Also, my mum, Dr Ruth Padday. I’m especially proud of her for receiving an honours for all the charity work she’s done from setting up a young people’s clinic and working as a doctor at festivals to providing aid to rural villages in Nepal and working for the JST which takes disabled people sailing on tall ships. She’s currently deep in the ocean sailing and no doubt helping others as she usually does.

Joey

 

Besides my mum and my three sisters, I’m inspired by American director, writer, producer, and distributor, Ava DuVernay. She began in journalism, shifted to PR, and then went on to create award winning films and documentaries. She followed her ambition (even funding her first film) and is relentless to tell the stories that deserve to be told. Her ambition and perseverance (and not to mention her talent!) are truly inspiring.

Megan

 

Obviously, the most inspiring person in the world is my mother - a single parent to two young children who never let her own problems get in the way of the happiness of me and my sister. She juggled a million different strands of life, whilst teaching me and my sister the value of hard-work, manners, self-expression, travel, happiness and of course, LOVE.

Matt

 

Aside from my utterly selfless and compassionate mum and sister, who have both shown me marked support and taught me to be uncompromising with who I am and what I deserve, I’m always in awe of those who have shown dedication to supporting others with resources to support mental health. Jane Lawson founded CSTUK-  a complimentary and volunteer-led organisation founded to support victims of the Grenfell disaster with community based support therapies, and counselling. The organisation offers invaluable support to victims of disasters- from children to those in the emergency services. Also, author and food writer Ruby Tandoh, who has inspired a refreshing dialogue that advocates the nourishing power of food for physical and mental wellbeing. Ruby celebrates how food has unique potential to sustain healthy relationships with ourselves and others- speaking to a broad spectrum of issues affecting everyone from migrant communities to those struggling with their mental health.

Emily

 

I’m going to cheat, and name a few women. I’m lucky to have some incredible women in my home, family and work life. I’m inspired by mum, for her capacity to put other people’s happiness before her own, and her unlimited kindness. I’m inspired by my wife, Amy, for her compassion, style, creativity and I’m envious of her ability to multitask. I’m also inspired by my two daughters for their curiosity and endless energy (which keeps me entertained). At work, I'm lucky to work with super talented men and women who push me to be the best version of myself, every day.

Adrian


The Paleo Foods Co. appoints Fanclub PR

We're stoked to announce that we're working with The Paleo Foods Co., a health food brand on a mission to disrupt the breakfast category by moving consumers away from unhealthy, packaged cereals. Instead, its range of natural granolas are free from cereal grains and packed with simple and wholesome ingredients that are low in sugar and low in carbohydrates.

As mentioned by our friends at PR Week, we'll be looking after consumer and trade PR, managing an influencer outreach programme for the brand and working on cross category new product launches. Claire Dinsmore, ‎Founder of The Paleo Foods Co. commented:

“We chose the Fanclub team for their understanding of the food and drink market and their enthusiasm for our product. Their industry experience combined with their unique approach and creativity stood out to us and we look forward to working alongside them.

Watch this space for Paleo news!

 


The 6 integrated client-agency set-ups

Client-agency relationships come in all shapes and sizes. Dave Lewis, the boss of Tesco recently appointed BBH for advertising and Mediacom for media on the basis that they served him well at Unilever and he has a good relationship with them. We’re seeing the results of these appointments in the campaigns for this supermarket this Christmas, featuring Ruth Jones and Ben Miller.

Earlier this year, Jaguar Land Rover announced that it was moving all Land Rover global creative advertising and social media work into Spark 44, an agency which it had created.

A study conducted by a company called R3 Worldwide, identified six models client-agency set-ups. Here’s a quick break-down on the models, along with our thoughts on pros and cons

  1. Multiple Best in Class – here, the client leads with the integration, selecting the best creative, media, PR, event agencies etc., to serve their needs, regardless of who owns them. This is the most common set up and the one that Dave Lewis has adopted. To work well, it requires a large marketing team and agencies that play nicely.
  2. Lead Agency Model – where the onus is on one lead agency to drive successful integration. P&G uses this model and this accounts for 25% of client-agency set-ups. This can mean tighter client-agency co-ordination and requires a lot of trust in that agency to drive strategy and delivery.
  3. Sibling Agency Model – where a client is engaged with a group or network and their sister agencies. This accounts for 20% of setups. This can be great for clients with small marketing teams, because there’s a single agency point of contact. But it can mean that the agencies may not be best in class.
  4. Holding Company Custom Agency – this works well for Apple, Ford and Colgate and looks like the direction that Jaguar Land Rover is heading towards with Spark44. This is where the client creates its own custom agency. Great for controlling the strategy and costs but can lead to challenges in findings and keeping the brightest talent and getting a fresh perspective on things.
  5. The Free Agent – where a roster of agencies pitch for each project. This set-up is used by Sony and can be great for delivery of tactical work. However, the lack of consistency may mean less strategic governance.
  6. One Stop Shop - less common in Europe, but more so in Japan, Korea and Brazil, where one agency does everything for that client.

 

The effectiveness of these models really depends on the individual challenges of the client. Throughout our careers, we've been part of many of these sets ups, and often, it's the big ideas that drive integration. But successful integration doesn't just come from the set-up or the idea, it’s investment into time.

For agencies, this means “walking the corridors”, and investing in time to build relationships with agency partners. For clients, this means thinking long term with all agency partners.

Unilever and JWT recently celebrated 110 years together. Keith Weed, Unilever’s chief marketing officer credits long-term relationships as “part of our success”. If this teaches us anything, it’s that respect, trust and the ability to build and adapt relationships pays dividends.

If you’re interested in finding out more, check it R3 Worldwide’s study here.