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

 

 

 

 

 


Download the crisis comms planning guide

Click to image download the guide

For businesses, when it comes to crisis, it’s a matter of ‘when’, not ‘if’. A pre-Coronavirus study by PwC showed that 69% of business leaders had experienced a crisis in the last five years. The same study found that companies with over 5,000 employees can expect to experience one crisis per year.

Never have crisis comms skills been more valued than the world we’re in today. I won’t labour the point any more than you’ve already heard; instead, we’re offering practical advice from one of the best in the business.

Richard Peel was the former director of comms for the BBC (where he had to deal with everything from terrorist death threats to journalists, through to defending the very existence of the BBC itself), before departing to head up comms at Ofcom and Camelot. We’ve been working with him for the last year and he’s our go-to person when it comes to crisis management.

Richard has been kind enough to distill his experience into sage advice for our clients, peers and friends in our latest whitepaper; a practical guide to creating your crisis comms plan.

By following the steps outlined in this guide, you will be better equipped to deal with the impending crisis on the horizon, helping to safeguard the longevity of your organisation, its customers, jobs and the well-being of all involved in their professional lives.

We could all do with a bit of help at the moment and we want this advice to benefit as many people as possible. Instead of placing this behind a data-capture gate as we usually do, you can access this freely without entering any details. Just click on the image above. And please do feel free to share this as much as you like, too.

We’d welcome any feedback or suggestions you have. If you’d like to share any thoughts, or say thank you, email us at hello@fanclubpr.com


Fanclub favs. TikTok

In case you haven’t heard, TikTok is the fastest growing social media platform in the world. While some of us might automatically think of the 2009 hit song by Kesha, for others the name has taken on a whole new meaning and has led to the creation of a unique subculture. For brands, this opportunity to achieve cultural relevance by tapping into nuances and connecting with consumers is why TikTok should be a priority consideration for communication professionals.

We at Fanclub are admittedly big TikTok fans and during the past couple weeks, we have been spending a lot (maybe a bit too much) of time on the app. So in light of this, we thought we would share a list of Fanclub’s favourite TikTok’s. We hope you find them as funny and entertaining as we do! 

 

Emilee: Everybody at Fanclub will be able to tell you that I have been hooked on TikTok for some time now, so hooked that I have even given myself a specific time and limit every day to watch them. Every night at 10 pm, you can find me in bed scrolling through my feed while silently giggling to myself for 30mins. As I am on the app quite frequently, I like to think TikTok’s algorithm knows me quite well, as 90% of the videos that are suggested to me are of either dogs or cute old people. So, in line with my theme, one of my favourite TikTok’s comes from Grandma Sandy, who recently discovered the Coke and Mentos challenge for the first time.

 

Fab: Ok first thing’s first; TikTok is literally nothing like Vine. It offers way more in terms of creativity with filters, green screens and even music built into the app. Now I’ve stated that, let me introduce you to one of my many favourites. For context, Anna Faris is one of my favourite actresses of all time (no one has her level of range) and teamed up with the current coronavirus pandemic, it does nothing but make me laugh every time I watch it.

 

Hannah: At the start of the week, before we decided to write this blog I wasn’t on TikTok. And to be honest I was a little sceptical about all the hype around it. Fast forward to last night, I was up until 1:30am watching TikTok videos. Think it’s safe to say that it’s a little addictive and in times like these when we don’t have much else to do with our evenings what’s the harm, right? Here’s my favourite from last night’sbinge - it’s just his face and the look of regret, the more I watch the funnier it gets…

 

Adrian: For me, TikTok is a snack-sized entertainment platform. But what really blows me away is the amount of creative talent on there; I’m excited about the future of content. Because TikTok just fills in the ‘in-between’ moments for me, I enjoy the comedy videos the most. They’re like a little blast of joy to lift you up. Before the UK went into COVID-19 lockdown, this video was shared with me, and I liked the way that this creator captured the criticism of the government’s delayed response to the threat in a really funny way.

 

Camille: My participation in TikTok up to this point has been limited to following various recipe accounts, watching the Rosa and Marlene TikToks (if you know, you know) and marvelling at how funny my 14-year-old sister is on there. I think it’s really fascinating seeing what’s gone viral and done well from the platform. It’s often the really weird, unpredictable, and silly content that fares best, making it unlike any other platform right now. To that end here’s my pick, I think we can all find something to relate to in this TikTok. Sometimes we are all this aggressively southern child, just wanting to pet a dog, other times we might be the dog that you’re not allowed to pet. Ultimately this is a TikTok about the human condition. Also, this kid’s voice is hilarious.

 

Emily: Amidst the chaos of the world right now, TikTok is undeniably a destination for light relief. What I particularly love at the moment is how its content transcends generations- and keeps the world connected, no matter what their age. Outside of ruddy-faced dads bounding down the driveway to Blinding Lights, and eating a continental breakfast with Old Man Steve , I was beaming when I watched videos from Westhill Park. The residents at the care home in Kettering have all been isolating, but have been staying connected by learning TikTok dance challenges- from Elvis to Doja Cat. For every naysayer who says that TikTok is a Gen Z cesspit, there is a 90-year-old grooving to Funky Town and becoming a small-scale TikTok sensation. It definitely brought a smile to my face!


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.

Fanclub favs. Books

As parents will know, it's World Book Day, today. To celebrate, rather than coming into work dressed as our favourite character, we've decided to share some of our favourite reads with you. Enjoy.

Amy Hall: 'When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit', by Judith Kerr

I have always been a voracious reader and as a child I got absolutely lost in books, so it’s impossible to pick one all-time favourite. But one book that has always stayed with me and that I read over and over again as a child was When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr.

I think most people have encountered and been touched by one or more of Judith Kerr’s beautiful stories at some point in their lives and I am so enjoying reading all of the Mog series to my two young girls. But Pink Rabbit was just so enchanting to me. It’s frightening (especially knowing as I did that it’s based on Kerr’s own life), thrilling and emotional and takes place before the start of the second world war so the tension is palpable. Quite a big theme for a 6-year-old (which is when I first read it) but so sensitively handled. The rest of the trilogy is no less brilliant.

Fabian Castellani: 'Utopia for Realists', by Rutger Bregman

I can safely say that this work from Rutger Bregman gave me a little glimmer of hope for our world. It’s a huge claim, but once you’ve read this, you’ll understand exactly what I mean.

The way our society is structured isn’t conducive to living our best lives, but many of us don’t understand what we can change or are told that the solutions we have aren’t suitable by everyone from business owners to politicians. Rutger argues very convincingly for Universal basic income, a 15-hour working week and open borders, as well as presenting solutions for homelessness. And these aren’t just simple ‘oh let’s try this’ ideas; they’re fully researched concepts that have actual studies to back them up (including a study by charity Broadway to tackle homelessness in the City of London by simply giving homeless people grants).

It will honestly open your eyes as to how we can create a ‘utopia’ aka the lives we truly deserve, whilst still in-keeping with the notion of capitalism we’ve come to accept as ‘normal’.

Hannah Kalyan: "21 Lessons for the 21st Century", by Yuval Noah Harari

If you’re looking for an easy-read or a feel-good story, this is not the book for you. But, what Yuval does provide is refreshing clarity on the todays most debated and complex issues, something that can feel incredibly rare in a world dominated by fake news and click-bait headlines.

While you might need Alexa to help you define a couple words (or every other word in my case!), it is a must read for the new generations who have the tricky job of navigating the moral and political implications of biotechnology to human irrelevant in the face of Big Data algorithms.

Emilee Senchyna: "The Outsiders", by S.E Hinton

I have to admit, I am not a big reader… Nothing against books, I just have a short attention span - so any book I am going to read needs to entice me within the first chapter.

Thinking back to the books I have read, 'The Outsiders' by S.E Hinton has always had a special place in my heart. The story follows a young Ponyboy Curtis as he details the conflict between two rival gangs divided by their socioeconomic status: the working-class ‘Greasers’ and the upper-class ‘Socs’. I started out by watching the film and maybe it was the hunky 80’s star-studded cast that got my attention – but after watching, I was hooked. After finishing the novel in record time, I was then one of those people who now claimed, ‘the book is better than the movie’.

Lucky for me the year after I read the book – it was chosen as the novel study for English class, so you could say I was an expert in all things Greasers and Socs. Till this day, I can recite monologs from Ponyboy and still shed a tear up when Jonny passes away (sorry for the spoiler). For a long time, I even wanted to get ‘stay gold’ tattooed on me, and who knows maybe I still will.

Adrian Ma: "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 

I’ve always enjoyed ‘magical realism’ since reading Louis de Berniere’s (of ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ fame) Latin American Trilogy as a teenager. In a world where science rules, it’s comforting to escape to a place where mysticism and greater forces play with the fate of the story’s characters. It’s a place where in a post-rational (or ‘Post-Truth) world, we may once again find ourselves.

To me, there are three books that really stand out in this genre, Isabelle Allende’s ‘House of Spirits’, a beautiful tale that follows four generations in Chile in which characters have paranormal powers, Salman Rushie’s ‘Midnight’s Children’, a tale about a generation of Indian children - born on the hour of India’s independence - who develop supernatural talents, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One ‘Hundred Years of Solitude’. Of these, Marquez’s story about the fictional town of Macondo, which transforms from a place of magic, to one that, after generations of contact with the modern world, falls into a ruin is my selection for this year. This story paints a powerful cautionary tale for the world in which we live today, where we’re discovering the true cost of economic progress to our natural environment.

Emily Barnes: "On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous", by Ocean Vuong

Given my indecisiveness, I don’t think I could pick a favourite book of all time. But a book that I read recently which I really loved was “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous" by Ocean Vuong. The author is actually also a poet, and the structure of the novel reads like a poetry collection. It’s about a gay immigrant boy in the US, written as a letter to his illiterate mother; compelling and honest on the complicated relationship between a mother and son. I really loved it and it was like nothing I had read before.


Influencer marketing ROI

A recent report from Digiday which looked at influencer fraud, highlighted that a single day’s worth of Instagram posts tagged #sponsored or #ad was found to contain over 50 percent fake engagements. Of 118,007 comments, just 20,942 were not made by bot followers.

It’s not surprising that an increasingly competitive industry has fostered dirty tactics to help influencers lure in sponsorship deals. But, of course, bots don’t click, buy, comment or think; because they’re not real people.

As influencer marketing thrives and more marketers look to invest in the value of influencers in driving awareness and establishing genuine legitimacy, we see an increasing focus on using a plethora of data to establish the most effective collaboration, and, by proxy, the most engaging content. But as the landscape moves faster than many are able to keep up with, we must ask: are we focusing on the right data to get our money’s worth?

Influencer marketing demands a robust approach which uses real-time data to identify the best content creators to create sponsored content that truly resonates. Influencers themselves are under more scrutiny than ever- particularly given controversies around Logan Paul et al, and the imperative deep delve into historic content and performance.

But part of this process, and a box that is often left unticked, is close scrutiny of the influencer’s audience.

Without a clear indication that audiences could be potential customers, the content could (and is likely to) fall on deaf ears.

It’s widely understood that an influencer’s audience demographics are fundamental in identifying whether content will speak to the right people.  Depending on the content platform, there are many tools to help with this- Peg.co, for example, offers a breakdown of audience age, gender and location.

But we need to go deeper. We need to be looking at whether the audience is an audience at all.

Whilst it is certainly difficult to accurately determine fake followers, due to increasing sophistication of bots and changing privacy settings from the likes of Instagram and Twitter, there are tools available and manual processes to get a good grasp of credibility.

  1. Engagement rates
    This is a good indication of how many of their total followers are actually engaging with their content, and exploring whether their reach is valuable at all. Comments should represent about 2 percent of total engagement on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, according to Digiday.
  2. Comments
    If you find unrelated comments asking for likes, subscribers, or generally sound spammy, they are likely to come from automated bot accounts
  3. Follower growth
    If an influencer has an irregular or sudden spike in follower growth, it could mean that they have been purchased. Sites like Socialblade can help monitor this.
  4. General credibility tools
    There are a host of tools which do some of the above for you, by using AI to establish audience authenticity scores based on a combination of follower growth, engagement rates and followers who will actually see the content on an influencer’s feed. Hypeauditor, Influencerdb and Twitteraudit are examples of this.

 

These processes are imperative in moving away from impressive but ultimately meaningless metrics that so often entice brands, and naïve marketers.

It’s up to brands and agencies to invest in understanding these pitfalls and how to avoid them, if we are to work toward genuine ROI.


6 myths about influencer marketing

By Emily Barnes & Megan Linehan

“Reach is everything - it means you’re getting your message out to the most people”

Incorrect. It’s imperative to look more closely at who the audience are. There’s no value in getting your content into the feeds of people who aren’t actively engaging with it or aren’t invested in it. If the person seeing the content isn’t a potential customer, it’s fruitless. Worse still, they could even be a bot or fake follower.

This is why engagement rates are key; there’s been much discussion recently about how engagement rates are significantly higher for smaller influencers. There is absolutely a saturation point of engagement, which can mean that mega influencers are left with a dead audience.

When scoping out potential influencers, make sure you look at their most recent videos for accurate engagement rates- that way you know that they’re performing consistently and are frequently posting.

“It’s great to work with as many influencers as possible, to talk to lots of different audiences”

Whilst micro-influencers certainly can provide value through their highly engaged audiences and advocacy around niche topics and interests,  it’s also generally true that in order for a brand message, recollection or call to action to convert, the audience needs to see it multiple times. It’s marketing 101.  So, think about investing in multiple pieces of content over a longer period, with the same influencer.

Ambassadorship with influencers is a key focus in 2018, not only because of the value in repeat consideration, but because the content is organic and a natural-fit on the influencer’s channel- which works toward great sentiment.

“It’s impossible to really demonstrate ROI in influencer marketing”

Nuh uh. Whilst ROI and metrics for success are hotly contested and changing (pretty much) all the time, and it can be difficult to measure consideration and path to purchase outside of views and likes, there are plenty of marketing metrics which work to demonstrate effective consideration and brand sentiment, directly as a result of content.

Affiliate marketing and tracking links are a great way to measure this audience journey. If you’re promoting something like a service, resource, or high consideration purchase, you can get creative with incentives to click. A competition, discount code or limited edition purchase work well in these instances.

“Just put #ad at the end of the post”

No! No! When working with an influencer, be sure that the partnership/sponsorship is labelled loud and clear for the consumer to see, else it can be deemed misleading and lazy. Many platforms have clear guidelines for influencers to clearly label their content, and the ASA has outlined rulings on explicit labelling of sponsored content. No excuses!

“One post is all we need”

Cross-platform promotion means you’ll hit your chosen influencer’s audience across several channels and mediums, as well as developing a natural story around the partnership. A singular post can get lost in an abyss of newsfeeds, missing the mark with impact and looking awkward and unnatural. A carefully considered content package is important in understanding investment in a partnership and expectations of performance.

Be sure to ask about the cost of hero content with social promotion, for example, or a series of social posts with clear consideration of timings. The influencer should help guide this based on data about audience engagement with previous content and timings for this.

“They posted about the product before- they should do it again for free”

An influencer creates content for a living- it’s their livelihood and often their sole income. So, when considering asking an influencer for free content, stop and consider the size of the industry and it’s power- you’re buying into a powerful marketing tool. Where have you been for the last few years?! Whilst some influencers may be willing to post in return for a free product, holiday, or event attendance, be ready for them to ask for cash. Great, impactful content which speaks to the right audience is valuable- be ready to pay for it.


Fanclub's Top Podcasts You Need To Listen To Right Now

According to Rajar, the UK’s audio measurement company, 6.1 million adults listen to podcasts in every week. Do you?

 

We certainly love a good podcast here at Fanclub, so here a few of our favourites for you...

 

Adrian’s picks

Where to start…here are just a few to get you started that I listen to regularly - Tim Ferris Show, HBR IdeaCast, The Echo Chamber, and The Adam Buxton Podcast.

 

Emily’s picks

True Crime Garage is hosted by two guys who drink beer and discuss true crime cases. Even though they're sometimes a bit insensitive and crude, I really like the informal approach to each case and the conversations that come out of it. How To Curate Your Life talks to different creative entrepreneurs about their work-life balance. It's super interesting to hear women talk about their journey in business- including how honest they are about the hardships along the way.

 

Georgie’s pick

Sword and Scale – because I’m really into murder (I’m not a psychopath).

 

Joey’s pick

The Heatwave - it’s DJ mix sets and radio shows playing Bashment music - if you want to feel like you’re at Notting Hill Carnival all year round, these are for you.

 

Jonny’s picks

How I Built This is my go-to for awesome founder stories from Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard to Power Rangers Haim Saban. City AM’s Unregulated is a great for anecdotes from entrepreneurs too. And for a more light-hearted listen, The Food Programme have great shows, featuring interviews, trends and stories on everything related to food.

 

Matt’s pick

James O’Brien is unmissable in Unfiltered by Joe. With guests including Robert Webb, Eric Cantona and Alistair Campbell, you can be sure to get an atypically hard-hitting and heart-warming accompaniment to any commute, coffee or Cantona love-in.

 

Megan’s picks

My Brother, My Brother And Me - a hilarious and silly advice show with advice that should never be followed. I really enjoy the infamous Clt Alt Delete - interviews each week and some really interesting conversations.

 

Naomi’s picks

The High Low - perfectly combining serious, important conversations such as the #MeToo movement, the refugee crisis, and current political topics, with light-hearted but nearly as important conversations (at least to me…) about the Kardashians, Taylor Swift and prosecco.


Dates for your 2017 calendar

From National Pie Week to Learn Your Name in Morse Code Day, it can be hard to keep up with what’s happening and what’s important.

But, don’t fear! We’ve poured over the calendars, and found the key dates every PR person needs to know for 2017 as well as a few extras to help spark those creative ideas.

You can thank us later! (Perhaps with a puppy on National Dog Day in August).

 

January:

Blue Monday (16th)

National Hug Day (21st)

Chinese New Year (28th)

 

February:

World Cancer Day (4th)

National Pizza Day (9th)

Valentine’s Day (14th)

The Oscars (26th)

Mobile World Congress (27th – 2nd March)

Pancake Day (28th)

 

March:

St David’s Day (1st)

British Pie Week (6th – 12th)

International Women’s Day (8th)

Beauty and the Beast film release (17th)

International Day of Happiness (20th)

CeBit (20th – 24th)

Mother’s Day (26th)

 

April:

April Fools Day (1st)

Good Friday (14th)

Easter Sunday (16th)

Easter Monday (17th)

Facebook F8 (18th – 19th)

Queen Elizabeth 2nd birthday (21st)

London Marathon, St Georges Day and Shakespeare Day (23rd)

 

May:

Eurovision (13th)

 

June:

UEFA Champions League Final (3rd)
Apple WWDC 2017 Keynote Address – Info TBC (12th)

Father’s Day (18th)

Glastonbury Festival (21st – 25th)

Royal Ascot (21st – 24th)

 

July:

Tour de France (1st – 23rd)

Wimbledon (3rd -16th)

British Golfing Open (20th – 23rd)

 

August:

Edinburgh Fringe (4th – 28th)

International Friendship Day (7th)

Film release: Emojimovie (11th)

Notting Hill Carnival (also National Dog Day) (26th – 27th)

 

September:

IFA, Berlin (1st – 6th)

International Day of Peace (21st)

Jeans for Genes Day (23rd)

 

October:

LinkedIn’s Talent Connect (3rd – 5th)

National Work Life Week (3rd – 7th)

National Animal Day (4th)

World Smile Day (6th)

International Chocolate Week and International Curry Week (9th – 15th)

HR Technology Conference (10th – 13th)

International Baking Week (16th – 22nd)

World Food Day (16th)

Halloween (31st)

 

November:

World Vegan Day (1st)

Guy Fawkes (5th)

Remembrance Sunday (12th)

World Kindness Day (13th)

International Men’s Day (19th)

Universal Children’s Day (20th)

Road Safety Week (21st – 27th)

Thanksgiving (23rd)

Black Friday (24th)

Cyber Monday (27th)

St Andrews Day (30th)

 

December:

First day of advent (3rd)

Hanukkah (13th – 20th)

Film release: Star Wars (15th)

Christmas Eve (24th)

Christmas Day (25th)

Boxing Day (26th)

New Year’s Eve (31st)

 

 


Spooky campaigns: Witch were killer

By Emily Barnes

Spooky puns are devilishly difficult.

Ah, Halloween.  Often seen as another of the seasonal bandwagons for marketers and PRs to hop on and enjoy some easy hits from a campaign tenuously linked to their client. But what is Halloween if it’s not fun? By nature, it’s the season of high jinks; to be silly and creative, which is in itself, a place where great campaigns are born.

We’re going to run through a few of our favourite spooky PR and marketing stunts and campaigns, which include some examples which demonstrate that clients with a serious brand message can still cleverly use the silliness of Halloween to keep their brand front-of-mind.

1. Tesco’s ‘Spookermarket’

Delivering on the supermarket’s recent promise to inject humour into it’s marketing, Tesco’s seasonal video content for Halloween last year garnered a social media buzz and an impressive 2.4m views to date as well as praise in trade and consumer press alike.

Delivered with BBH London, the campaign saw hidden cameras capture unsuspecting Tesco shoppers being scared by various terrifying props and actors, including severed hands in freezers and heads amongst toilet rolls. The video also prompted viewers to watch four additional videos which included a pumpkin carving tutorial and tutorial for creating a (fake) severed head in a jar. Delightfully gross.

According to Campaign, the launch day saw 805 conversation hits, of which 97% were positive; proving that even the simplest execution of the beloved hidden camera prank can create a very shareable piece of content with wide appeal, going a long way to show brand personality.

2. DigitasLBi’s ‘Internet of Pumpkins’

To demonstrate the very scary data security risks when connecting to public Wi-Fi, DigitasLBi created a pumpkin which acted as a free Wi-Fi hotspot using modified Wi-Fi penetration testing equipment, which is commonly used by criminals. Oooh er.

Users who connected to the network received a ‘trick-or-treat’ message, and whilst some received a sweet treat, others received a trick in the form of a digital crack on their screen, representing the risk of damage from hackers. Each was followed with some friendly advice on how to use Wi-Fi safely and without gruesome consequences.

This is a nice way to instigate discussion on key messages and brand awareness, by utilising a fun surprise-and-delight-tactic to deliver a serious key message.

3. Volvo’s LifePaint Spooky Safety Initiative

(Main picture)

Volvo used its spray-on glow-in-dark substance for cyclist safety, LifePaint, to launch an initiative to keep trick-or-treating kids in London safe in the dark.

Launched with Grey London, ‘Be Scary, Be Safe’ encouraged parents to pick up a can of the reflective spray from their local dealership and download a set of free skeleton stencils online, spray it on to their spooky sprog and feel safe in the knowledge that their child was visible in the dark of the night.

This is an innovative approach to a season saturated with pranks and scare tactics, which reinforces brand purpose and values by providing something genuinely useful for parents and fun for kids. Win win.

4. REI’s Zombie Survival Kit

zombie
Click to learn how to survive the zombie apocalypse

 

Outdoor clothing manufacturer, REI recognised the power of the shareable viral image with its 2013 campaign which saw the company put together an infographic detailing the 13 essentials for surviving a Zombie outbreak, all of which could be bought directly from their online store.

Even better, employees in one of their stores also held a class on how to battle the enemy should a zombie attack happen, also covering basic survival skills to avoid death by the undead.

This was a great way to achieve a relatively quick-win by playing on the novelty of horror whilst shoehorning in product links seamlessly. The in-store event added the bizarre to what is seen by some as the mundane, which gave it broader appeal and buzz.

So, brands or companies with an array of brand purpose can look to Halloween to successfully embrace a season of otherworldly imagination as a vehicle to create awareness in a particularly engaging and memorable way.