Category Archives: Marketing

What makes award winning B2B Marketers: csuitepodcast show 37

At the end of 2016, I attended the 12th B2BMarketing Awards, with Audere Communications proudly sponsoring the ‘Best use of content marketing’ category.

L-R: Russell Goldsmith, Gary Muddyman, Cate Dominian, James Erskine

L-R: Russell Goldsmith, Gary Muddyman, Cate Dominian, James Erskine

Following on from that partnership, two of the winners from the night, Catherine Howard, UK and Ireland Marketing Director for Atos, an international Digital Services business with annual revenues of around 12 billion Euro, and Renaye Edwards, Marketing Account Director at the B2B marketing agency Digital Radish, joined me and B2B Marketing’s Editor-in-chief, Joel Harrison, in the studios of markettiers, to record Show 36 of the csuitepodcast where we talked about their award work and discussed why they think they walked away with the coveted trophies in their particular categories.

L-R: Joel Harrison, Catherine Howard, Russell Goldsmith, Renaye Edwards

L-R: Joel Harrison, Catherine Howard, Russell Goldsmith, Renaye Edwards

As was the case for both my guests, this was actually the second year they had won an award at Joel’s event and for Catherine, whilst her team at Atos won Team of the year for 2016, the previous year, she personally won B2B Marketer of the year after spending the first 12-18 months after arriving at the business transforming the marketing function.  This was achieved by doing one-to-one reviews with different stakeholders across the business as well as team members, which resulting in needing to change the perception of the team.  Catherine explained that at the time, the [marketing] team were seen as very reactive and not visible, and so she set about changing that within the organisation to being a more proactive, more approachable and more professional team.  By setting a clear direction, strategy and aligning the team to the business objectives of the organisation, she was able to transform the business.  She also felt the real turning point, around five or six months into the role, was presenting to her executive board to show what marketing was really about, what her team were there to do and how they were re-aligning to the business, and then securing budget for the campaigns and activities that they wanted to do.  Catherine’s vision for her team now is to be known externally as pioneers, which she says makes them braver in some of the marketing that they are trying, but they continue to be focussed on return on investment (ROI) on everything that they do.  However, she was also keen to mention that from a Global perspective, they lead a centre of excellence on a number of different initiatives across an end-to-end perspective of the sales cycle, from client and market insight at the top end of the sales funnel, through to demand generation programmes supporting pipeline and closure of deals, to finally client advocacy.

It was fair to say that for Renaye, the size of her team and available budget to work with were at the other end of the scale to Catherine’s, which is why it was so good to have both guests on the show sharing their stories.  Renaye’s agency won in the B2B Marketing Limited Budget category for the second year running, in this instance for a campaign for conveyancing firm ‘When You Move’, which Digital Radish worked for from initial concept through to launch.  Renaye explained how the integrated campaign, localised by region, aimed to challenge the norm of conveyancing, which she said is known to be slow, with poor communications with the house buyer and estate agent, which leads to a frustrating process, with the estate agents often having to spend a lot of time chasing the conveyancers on behalf of the buyer. As part of the campaign theme, Digital Radish therefore created a concept of ‘lost time’, calculating how much time an Estate Agent would save on a daily basis by involving more technology in the process, and then, to make it more meaningful, showed what could then be done with that time saved.  A key part of the activity was becoming a disruptor to the industry through the development of an app that gives buyers, sellers and the estate agency the ability to track the process of the move.  In terms of KPIs, what was key for Digital Radish’s client was that they booked 100 meetings from the campaign, getting a response from 71% of their top tier 1 campaign targets.

When it comes to the key ingredients that make up a winning team or campaign, Catherine, Renaye and Joel highlighted the following:

  1. Relationship building – Catherine explained that she put’s in a massive investment as a team to talk with each other but also to work with their business counterparts too.  She added that you can’t ever beat a face to face conversation with someone, in particular, in the relationship between Marketing and Sales, so that there is no divide between the two.  This also goes for how they worked together in the team itself, where they changed a number of ways that they worked together.  For example, they now have a monthly team meeting that takes place that, even as the head of marketing, Catherine makes a point of not chairing, and instead leaves that role to a different team member each month.  They also go off site to learn from other organisations, be that agencies, competitors or clients, taking time to work together on different programmes and projects and talking through them as a team.  She believes that its having that time together that makes a massive difference in how your team actually works.
  2. Putting creativity at the forefront – This was key for Renaye and she added that you have to foster creativity and so encourages her team to get out of the office to places like the British Museum that is next to her company’s office. [This linked a lot to what was discussed in Show 36 on the topic of Creativity in Business – worth a listen!]
  3. Working together as partners – Catherine said that she sees her agencies, of which there are five or six, as partners and that she views them as an extension of her marketing team.  She therefore has a lot of individuals from her agencies that sit on site and work as part of the marketing team, including being involved in client and sales meetings.
  4. Chemistry – Joel added that actually liking the people you work with is really important, because if you don’t, those partner meetings that Catherine referred to, can be really long, and the individuals within the agencies are unlikely to want to go the extra mile for you either.

When it comes to measuring the success of their campaigns, Catherine said there are a few different ways they achieve it.  Firstly, everything they do has to show an ROI in some shape or form and from a financial perspective, the three main areas they focus on are around:

  1. Demand Generation – real qualified opportunities.
  2. Supported Pipeline – engaging with existing deals
  3. Conversion from unqualified to qualified pipeline – when Catherine starting looking at the metrics at the beginning of 2016, only 8% of what marketing was generating was converting to qualified pipeline with a solution team assigned from it having been through a bid review, but by getting her team to own that pipeline, that number has risen to 37%.

However, what’s also key for Catherine are the qualitative metrics, including end-client feedback, which comes through anecdotal feedback and client surveys as well as internal surveys with business stakeholders too.

Joel added that from his judges’ perspective, what they are also always looking for in award winning entries is how they are aligned to the business objectives or have helped to move the business forward.

The next B2B Marketing Awards will take place in November 2017 and it’s now open for entries.

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B2B Demand Generation – csuitepodcast Show 27

Show 27 of the csuitepodcast was on the topic of B2B Demand Generation

I was joined in markettiers’ studios by Katy Howell, CEO of independent social digital consultancy, Immediate Future, and Joel Harrison, Editor-in-chief or B2B Marketing, plus Carlos Hidalgo, CEO of B2B demand generation firm Annuitas, and Joe Pulizzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute, joined me on the line from the US.

Joe, Carlos and Katy had all presented at Joel’s B2B Marketing Summit in June, and so I asked them each in turn to talk about their sessions.

Joe was first up and he talked on the topic of ‘A Proven, Strategic Model for Successful B2B Content Marketing’, which he explained was about how to build an audience that knows, likes and trusts a company before they even want to buy the product or services that it offers.  Joel said that B2B Enterprises are creating more B2B content than we have ever had before but rather than adding to the clutter, they need to better consider the audience they are trying to reach and what value they can add, outside of the products and services they offer.  His viewpoint is therefore not to just always focus on creating leads, but first of all to build an audience of subscribers who want to get your information, and then drive opportunities and leads.  Be believes that too many B2B companies are in it for the short term and that you will be more successful if you see it as a long term process.

In Carlos’ presentation at the conference, he highlighted some of the findings from the latest Annuitas Enterprise B2B Demand Generation Study, within which it stated that less than 3% of B2B marketing executives said they were highly successful in accomplishing their demand generation goals.  He therefore agrees with Joe and added that whilst there are a lot of content producers, do we have true content marketers/demand generation marketers?

Carlos highlighted the fact that in B2B, we have consensus buying, with up to five individuals who are part of a buying committee [see The Consensus Sale], each with their own bias.  People can access any type of information on the company and product, including down to an individual sales person.  He also made the point that buyers are so interconnected, plus we can do peer to peer networking without having to meet each other via LinkedIn in Twitter, yet what we see all the time are marketing organisations that continue to bifurcate, as we have email teams, web teams, event teams and sales marketing teams, yet very rarely to we see a marketing organisation that is aligned to a buying process.  To move in that direction, i.e. change management, and to do it well, especially at a cultural level, Carlos believes you are looking at a two to three year initiative.  However, what he finds is that a lot of executives don’t have that staying power or patience and so it resorts to the quick fix.

For Katy, one key part of the Demand Gen journey that most brands don’t even consider is Social Media although for her, it’s about Paid Social and targeting, the latter being something she doesn’t believe B2B brands are good enough at.  Without taking anything away from the creative, she feels that inevitably, we can get so fixated on the creativity and the content that we forget about the distribution, yet that science bit – the data – is essential, as this helps you to be in the right place at the right time for your customers.

We continued our discussion highlighting some favourite case studies of each of the guests and Katy kicked it off talking about a small six week campaign Immediate Future had carried out for Thomson Reuters on the Commodities Market.  Katy explained that their aim was to reach those traders who are involved in commodities only, so they had to work out which channels and platforms to find them.  However, more important was briefing Reuters on the content Immediate Future needed them to create to reach those individuals, which they call ‘shattering for social’, i.e., making as much content as possible in a variety of formats from videos to infographics to [editorial] copy, testing as much as they possibly could, optimising quickly.   The result was increasing demand gen for that segment by 1178%.

Joe unfortunately couldn’t share the client name of his B2B manufacturing case study, but he described how the company was creating content for 16 different channels without seeing much success. They therefore concentrated on creating relevant content on one main channel, which was their blog, and two secondary ones, focussing on email subscribership as their main KPI.  Email is something that Joe still believes is important to creating success for B2B companies because his concern at leverage followers and fans on social platforms is that you don’t control them, it’s Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter who control them and who can change the algorithm at any point that is required to reach them, whereas you do have control over your email mailing list – you just have to break through all the clutter.  According to Joe, the big catastrophe in B2B marketing is that most B2B email newsletters are terrible, something that Joel thinks is a huge opportunity for so many people.

They key learning from Joe’s case study in his opinion is that the company that he was involved with is actually creating less content than it was before, but that they are more focussed.  He believes that sometimes you have to simplify and go small and work where you can be the leading expert in something, instead of just throwing massive amounts of content out there.

The case study that Carlos shared was for PR Newswire, who had previously been going to market with a very product centric approach.  Carlos said they had to take a buyer centric view and that it was about the alignment of, what Annuitas calls ‘people, process, content and then technology’ along with Data, and after putting that in place, they saw a 22% increase in engaged leads, a 7% increase in qualified leads and a 7% increase in closed sales, driven by marketing.

[Read Annuitas’ full PR Newswire Case Study]

If you want to read more from my guests then try out the following:

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Understanding and measuring influence: Interview with H+K Strategies & Brandwatch – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast Part 6 of 9

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This interview starts at 25.21

For the final part of this second Cannes Lions csuitepodcast, I moved to the Haymarket Hive to chat to H+K Strategies’ Director of Content, Vikki Chowney and Ben Hackett of Brandwatch, who were there launching Sherlock+, the latest version of the partnership between their two companies.

As Vikki explained, Sherlock+ is a series of customised dashboards across all sectors, covering 45 core topics.  The platform allows them to apply data driven network analysis on top a list of the people who H+K believe to be the most important in those topics areas – a list that starts with who the team at H+K already know, based on their sector experience, which Vikki believes is a good gauge for a PR agency.  This enables them to then look at an expanded community of influence rather than just an individual one, to see what content they share, how they talk to each other and what hash tags they use, all in real time, providing a constantly updated view of who are the most important people.

Given Sherlock+ was only being launched at Cannes, Vikki explained how a previous iteration of the platform had helped Visa find out more about the people working in banks who were making the decisions on whether to work with Visa or not, how they make those decisions, who are they influenced by and what content they like.  This helped Visa find new people that they might want to invite to an event, do some media activity with or simply have a meeting with and get them involved in some of the work they do from a corporate perspective.

Naturally, with my Conversis hat on, I asked Vikki how they are going to roll the platform out in other territories.  She told me that whilst they are starting with monitoring in just English, they are aiming to allow local offices to create their own language versions of it.  For me, this is crucial to its success if monitoring global campaigns.  Conversis already works with clients translating discussions around products on social platforms such as NetBase, as the vast majority of people in each territory write and search in their own language.  Google Trends actually has a great tool showing the most popular searches by language in some of the world’s largest cities.  For example, in Berlin, 89% of Google searches are in German, 95% in Madrid are in Spanish and 93% in Paris are in French – I guess the phrase “No Shit Sherlock” is quite appropriate at this point!  But it is something many companies don’t take account of when planning their global web content and SEO strategy and is very relevant when searching on social discussions about brands.  You certainly can’t rely on tools like Google Translate to get correct translations, let alone understand sentiment, especially when trying to understand the new language that social media has created with shortened words, hashtags and txt speak!

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Cannes Lions csuitepodcast: Part 2 of 9 Lions Health Awards & Virtual Reality

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For this part of the show (from 13min 31s), I was joined by two judges of the Lions Health Awards, Zuleika Burnett, Executive Director for Creative and Innovation at Havas Life Medicom and Martin Hafley, Creative Director at DDB Remedy London, together with a past Bronze winner, Khalid Latiff, Associate Creative Director at Publicis Life Brands Resolute (PLBR), whose company also picked up a Silver and Bronze this year too.

We talked through quite a number of fantastic award winning campaigns and from what both Zuleika and Martin were saying, having spent time with their fellow judges locked in a room going through all the entries, there was plenty to be inspired by this year within Health & Wellness sector from their peers who are clearly at the top of their game creatively.

Winning at Cannes certainly has some glamour to it as Khalid explained and without doubt elevates the agency.  Last year, PLBR won a Bronze for their ‘This is Stroke’ campaign, a 360-degree film, shot from the viewpoint of somebody actually having a stroke, but not just highlighting what that individual would be going through, but also the people around them.

Khalid explained that PLBR produced that film two years ago, and since then, technology has moved on and has become so sophisticated and elegant, something he said you could see across all the work being show at Cannes this year.  However, he believes that you have to be careful to ensure the technology is used to create a vision and not to outweigh the idea, as the idea should always lead.  Martin agreed that it’s about finding the appropriate use for the technology and this his agency’s ideas are based on insight first – technology is then used to amplify them.

In the little time I got to explore at Cannes outside of doing my podcast interviews, I’d have to agree with Khalid in that 360 films and Virtual Reality were certainly being shown all over the Festival.  For example, I was very privileged to get a lunch invite to the Hotel Martinez from Simon Sadie, Global Account Director at Mediacom, where they had a whole programme of presentations of their own running.  However, whilst there I got to try out PlayStation’s VR headset that they were demoing in Mediacom’s presentation area.  It was an incredible experience where I got play on a Football Coaching game, improving my heading skills!

Khalid also mentioned the OZO camera that Nokia were showcasing and so as soon as I had finished chatting with my three guests, I headed down to Nokia’s Cabana to check it out for myself.  The film I watched in the VR headset was incredible – I felt truly immersed in the experience.

Bringing the talk of technology back to the topic of healthcare, Zuleika explained that what we are seeing a lot of is product development and innovation becoming a new way to market for certain companies and brands.  She said that they are using a product development idea to create a buzz or raise awareness around a particular healthcare issue or topic.

I asked the Martin and Zuleika to pick out a couple of highlights from all the campaigns they had judged and Martin focused on one for Anchor Milk, a campaign by Fonterra Brands and Colenso BBDO, that they had awarded a Gold to.

Anchor – X-Ray Casts from Colenso BBDO on Vimeo.

The idea behind the campaign was based around the fact that, in New Zealand, 59 kids a day break an arm.  Therefore, Anchor created an x-ray cast, which worked by enabling the kids to upload their x-ray via a touchpoint when they were in ‘Accident and Emergency’ room, so that, the following day, they would receive a transfer of the x-ray of their broken bone in the post, that they could then heat up and stick onto the cast on their arm.  (What kid wouldn’t want that?!)  However, on the transfer was also a barcode, which enabled the kids to then go to the supermarket and get free Anchor Calci+ milk whilst their arm was healing.  Just brilliant!

Zuleika threw in ‘Colour for the Colour Blind’, a partnership between Velspar paint and EnChroma, maker of colour blindness-correcting glasses, which she explained amplified the issue of colour-blindness to bring the issue to the masses by creating an incredible film showing the experience that colour blind people have and the reactions when they saw colours for the first time.

Zuleika and Martin also talked about their own company award wins too.

For Zuleika’s Havas Life Medicom, two of her colleagues were shortlisted in the Young Lions Health Award (30yrs and under) for a response to a brief helping UNICEF raise awareness about the importance of children’s first years of life for their social, emotional and cognitive development.  Their idea was called ‘Mini Band’, with the aim of  creating a platform for Care Givers in low income communities to find out how to create their own musical instruments, discover activities involving music art and creativity and download a child friendly playlist, plus find local drop off points to donate musical instruments to be given to local community centres.

As for Martin, DDB Remedy won a Silver and Two bronze awards for an integrated campaign for Excedrin®, an OTC migraine treatment in the US, helping to address the issue that people often respond to someone with a migraine by just saying that it’s nothing more than a headache and not serious!   DDB built a simulated VR experience and mobile app using insight from migraine sufferers so that they could personalise their migraine and share it with friends and family to gain their empathy.

If you are interested in getting involved in this series podcasts, whether as a guest or as a sponsor, please do get in touch using the contact form on the show website.

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Virtual Wake Up Call – Genning up on Virtual Reality Video

Earlier this week I attended PR360 and have come away truly inspired thanks to the team from Hotwire who were in the networking area showing off Virtual Reality technology.  They had a VR headset on their stand, and were giving delegates the opportunity to try it out by watching the Clouds Over Sidra film that was produced last year for the United Nations.

I grabbed the opportunity to try out the technology whilst John Brown, Hotwire’s Director, Head of Engagement talked me through it.

It was the first time I’d ever experienced VR and all I can say is ‘wow’!  It really is hard to describe what it’s like, but if you watch Mike Butcher’s reactions in the video of him trying it out whilst interviewing the producer of the film, Socrates Kakoulides, for Techcrunch, you’ll see how easy it is to get lost in the VR world and wrapped up in the emotion of that film in particular. [Download VRSE‘s app to view the film.]

Seeing this film and chatting to Emma Hazan, Hotwire’s Deputy UK MD (and previous guest on show 4 of my csuitepodcast series) has really inspired me to gen up on this area of video.  Embarrassingly, I don’t even refer to VR in the ‘Using Video in Social Media’ workshop I regularly run for the PRCA and other clients – this will now change by the time I host my next session!

I feel I have a bit of catching up to do on this topic, but have been truly inspired by what I’ve seen.

Emma talked to me about how VR is perfect for the travel industry – imagine being able to walk around your hotel, look at the bar area, the pool, and check out your room before you book.  We then chatted about other industries that could benefit, and of course, whilst agreeing that the Porn industry would no doubt lead the way, how about the Property market, especially high end sales for overseas investors.  No need to visit the £1m+ apartments, just look around with your VR headset and then send your deposit – deal done!

This is my new favourite topic and so if anyone has some good case studies they want to share with me to include in my future workshops, please do get in touch.

Social Media in Agriculture – latest c-suite podcast – show 16

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Last Monday, I kicked off 2016’s podcasts with a show looking at the importance of Social Media to the Agricultural industry.

I recorded the show at the studios of markettiers alongside Caroline Schmitt, Global Head of Customer Marketing & Digital at ADAMA Agricultural Solutions and Emma Craigie, Head of Media at The Ad Plain (who was instrumental in putting the guest panel together and whose clients include Monsanto) with Andrew Ward MBE, Farmer on Glebe Farm, one of only 23 Flagship Farms of McDonald’s in Europe, and founder of Forage Aid joining us on the line from his farm in Lincolnshire.  Also featuring was Simon Haley, a Rural Business Advisor at SRH Agribusiness who I had interviewed on Skype the week before.

Themes we discussed included:

  1. How industry suppliers engage with Farmers and the wider Ag community
  2. How farmers use twitter to develop communities amongst themselves to support each other
  3. Various social channels and how they are used in different territories
  4. Responding to negative comments and engaging with the wider public
  5. Phone and internet connectivity in rural areas
  6. Future of Agriculture and challenges faced by the farming community

We started by discussing how ADAMA is working with The Ad Plain to develop its Social Media Strategy, something they were relatively new to.  The organisation went through a rebrand in 2014 and is keen to use Social to fit with its values of establishing a dialogue with the farming ecosystem, in particular the farmers themselves, which is key given the company doesn’t sell directly to them but instead through distribution, so it’s important for them to create a feedback loop and listen to what is really going on and how they can help beyond just selling product.

Caroline and Emma explained that ADAMA uses a number of different social channels to reach the farming community and that engagement levels vary across channels depending on the territory.  LinkedIn is important because, as Caroline reminded us, farms are of course businesses.  She said that Facebook works well in Latin America (they have over 22,500 likes on their ADAMA Brazil Facebook page and almost 15,000 followers on the ADAMA Brazil LinkedIn page) and Twitter of course is important, but that they have bespoke channels for a number of regions, although this is still in development.  Emma added that the ADAMA Global account regularly sees engagement rates of 8% on Twitter, particularly on posts around technology and where they celebrate farmers and in the UK, where the team have been posting around specific events, they have seen engagement levels rise to as much as 9% to 15%.  ADAMA has also started to use YouTube to tell real life stories of farmers from around the world.

Andrew talked about how Social plays an important part in his day to day work on the farm itself and how the farming community has developed on twitter to support each other, discussing the how it was used to launch Forage Aid, a charity that supports farmers whose livestock has been affected by an extreme weather event by providing forage and/or bedding to those in need.

In my pre-recorded Skype interview, Simon Haley talked about three twitter feeds that he co-founded or set up himself:

  1. @AgrichatUK, established in 2011, which has over 18,800 followers, and provides a platform for farmers to engage with each other. The channel has a specific discussion every Thursday from 8-9.30pm, and all previous chats have been archived on a website  Simon believes that the community has also gained credibility by having organisations such as DEFRA and the NFU take part as guests too.  Emma has also used the channel for ADAMA and other clients of hers and feels it’s a great way for them to keep in touch with the community and talk directly to the farmers and indeed, Andrew also regularly takes part in the chats and said that they are a great way of sharing information and learning from each other.
  2. @FarmersoftheUK, set up in January 2104 and now at over 17,900 followers, where a different farmer is featured every week and takes over the tweeting of the channel.
  3. @FarmsOfTheWorld, similar concept to @FarmersoftheUK but taking the concept to a global stage, with now over 2,300 followers

Emma mentioned two other important initiatives that the farming community use:

We also discussed how the industry responds to negative comments and criticism, particularly on social media, with Emma explaining how ‘Agvocates’ are defending the industry, reacting to comments, pointing to one example of how they provided explanations of how farming is helping farmland birds and certain species.  However, she also talked about some of the more proactive initiatives that help educate the wider public, such as Open Farm Sunday, where Farmers are encouraged to open their farms so that the public can come and see what’s happening in them, and that last year, there was a 40% increase in visits to farms.  She also highlighted the fact that BBC’s Countryfile gets over 7.3m viewers, and in fact, on one weekend last year, even beat X Factor in the ratings!

One topic that proved quite sensitive for Andrew in particular was that of connectivity in rural areas and he was quite passionate and critical of the phone companies and the lack of coverage provided by them where it’s required for his work.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have time before the podcast to line up any guests from the telecoms industry to respond, but Dan Bowsher, who head up Social Comms at Vodafone UK did, via twitter, provide me a link to numerous articles on Vodafone’s blog on the subject of rural connectivity, the work being done in that space and challenges faced by operators.

Finally, we finished off the chat talking about how Emma and Caroline see things progressing from a corporate perspective in terms of using social as an educational platform for the wider audiences and public in general.  I was particular impressed with a video that ADAMA had produced that looks into the issues we face with growing populations and constraints on resources to grow more food – did you know that to feed the world for the next 40 years, farmers must produce as much food as has been produced on the entire earth for the last 10,000 years!

Caroline referred to a post by Bill Gates that he had actually just posted the previous week, on ‘Why the future is bright for the World’s poorest farmers’, which was brining knowledge about farming and the challenges farmers face on a daily basis around the world to a broader audience and the technology involved in helping them.

If you are interested in getting involved in this series, whether as a guest or as a sponsor, please do get in touch with me directly.  You can also keep the conversation going on twitter around these podcasts using #csuitepodcast.

A podcast on podcasting – csuitepodcast show 13 – #youtunes

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Last week I was back in the studios of markettiers4dc to record a podcast all about podcasting. It was my thirteenth show in the series that I produce for the CIPR’s Social Media Panel, so would number 13 prove to be unlucky?  Well, listen right up until the final minute to find out!

I was joined by three fellow podcasters: Neville Hobson, who, after over 800 shows and 10 years of podcasting, had just recorded his final Hobson & Holtz report the week before, a podcast that is a key part of the FIR Network that he launched with Shel Holtz.

My other guests in the studio were Tom Ollerton, Marketing and Innovation Director at We Are Social, and Alastair Cole, Chief Innovation Officer at Partners Andrews Aldridge, who together, produce the Innovation Ramble, a podcast that only launched a few months ago but that has had the backing of The Drum, and is one that I am a big fan of.

The aim of this episode was to investigate how brands and organisations could use podcasting as part of their communications mix, be that sponsoring existing content or creating their own.

I have to say, this was one of my favourite episodes to date, although perhaps that was because it was on a topic that I am heavily involved in!

There were a number of take outs from the show and tips that were provided.

Firstly, I agree with Tom’s view that podcasting is a long form format, something you can listen to on a walk or the commute, although Neville stressed the fact that you can, of course, listen to podcasts whilst doing other things, unlike video or the written word.  In that respect, it’s no different to radio, which as the latest RAJAR figures will show, is listened to more than ever in the UK.

The link to radio is something we also covered in that podcasting would appear to be far more popular in the US than in the UK, which, in Neville’s opinion, is because the UK has excellent radio programming, but that’s not the case in the US, which drove the popularity of podcasting there as people looked for alternative audio content to listen to.

With regards to the question of how brands can get involved in podcasting, Neville believes it all comes down to what the goals are.  For example, is it simply to generate brand exposure or perhaps be seen as a subject matter expert? However, one of the issues that may arise, is that many brand owners may have unrealistic expectations due to the huge exposure that Mailchimp gained from sponsoring the incredibly successful ‘Serial’, which has arguably created a resurgence in podcasting.  In the show, I referred to an article that I had read in VanityFair by Sarah Ellison, where she wrote that the co-creator of Serial, Julie Snyder, hoped for about 300,000 downloads when they launched and as the CPM for the sponsor slots were sold to Mailchimp before they knew how valuable they would be, they believe they may have lost out a huge number in terms of unrealised revenue as the podcast has since been downloaded over 97million times.

Tom was quick to point out though that Serial is an anomaly and was a year’s work with some of the top radio people putting it together, and he felt that brands are missing a trick if all they are looking for is a ‘killer’ CPM.  He thinks the opportunity for brands is to innovate with the format, rather than stick their advert at the beginning, middle or end of the format.  He suggests brands should concentrate on creating their own content, particularly given it is relatively cheap to do and therefore recommends finding an opportunity, producing a pilot, and if no one downloads it, to pivot, iterate, change and do it again.  Tom said that you can roll out ten different podcasts on ten different subjects, look at the data and see what is connecting with people.

Neville added to this in that he believes what it comes down to is having compelling content, telling a phenomenal story and ensuring there is something different about you to other podcasts.  For him, podcasting is not about mainstream media type numbers, but instead, it’s about the small niche audiences that are interested in a specific topic.  Neville therefore thinks that brands would be more satisfied if they thought like that about the medium rather than thinking about ‘mega’ numbers.

Alastair agreed and said that the right way to go is for brands to be looking to ‘scratch their own itch’, i.e., find something that they are genuinely passionate about.

We covered off a number of ways to help promote podcasts, which included:

  • Ensure you are on iTunes
  • Host your podcasts on your own site or social community where you can drive listeners to and encourage further engagement and discussion
  • Ask listeners to rate and review you on iTunes, which will help your positioning in the iTunes charts
  • Encourage guests (if you have them) to promote the fact they were on the show to their own email databases
  • Share your content across social media
  • Use enterprise sharing tools such as GaggleAMP

Within the show, I also featured a short interview with my CIPRSM Panel colleague, Rachel Miller of All Things IC, who also produces a podcast, her one focussing on Internal Communications.

Rachel’s five key tips for organisations looking to produce content for internal communications purposes were to:

  1. Create your own content, that doesn’t have to be a big ‘polished’ production
  2. Make it for employees by employees
  3. Encourage your employees to get involved by using their own devices
  4. Have real conversations
  5. Experiment with frequency and see what the appetite is for the content

Finally, some other podcasts we mentioned that are worth checking out, if nothing else, just to hear how others do it and how varied podcast content can be, included:

If you are interested in getting involved in this series, whether as a guest or as a sponsor, please do get in touch with me directly.  You can also keep the conversation going on twitter around these podcasts using #ciprcsuite.

The Influence of Social Talent (and the Minogue Sisters) – latest CIPR c-suite podcast

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Last week I recorded the 12th show in my podcast series that I produce for the CIPR’s Social Media Panel, with the topic this time being the influence of Social Talent.

YouTuber, Hannah Witton kicked off the show discussing how she launched her own channel, which started as a hobby during University and now, working with Triple A Media, has become her job.  She’s created a bit of a niche for herself by discussing sex and relationships on her channel, although was quick to say that she doesn’t want to ‘box herself in’ as she does a lot of other ‘stuff’ too.   However, it was due to the nature of her content that Durex recently approached her via Multi Channel Network (MCN) Channel Flip, to run a campaign for them.

If you haven’t seen the video, take a look below – it’s an excellent example of how a brand can work with a YouTuber:

The key to remember in this campaign is that, as well as ensuring everything was cleared legally, whilst Durex had certain key points that, as Hannah described, they wanted her to hit, she still had full editorial control.  This was a huge part of our discussion during the show, in terms of understanding the way these types of brand partnerships work.  For example, James Erskine, Strategy Director at The Big Shot, cited a great quote from another YouTuber, Jim Chapman, at a recent Drum conference, where Jim had said, ‘we’re not actors’ and explained that what The Big Shot say to their clients is that they will not have approval, but they will have veto, explaining the subtle distinction between ‘taking stuff out if it is inaccurate or legally wrong’, but not being able to insist on putting stuff in.

Hannah believes the reason brand partnerships work, like her one with Durex, is because when it comes to vlogging, as a YouTuber, she has a personal relationship with her audience, which, as long as that is kept authentic and transparent, her audience actually become really supportive in her being sponsored.  She explained that her subscribers can see that making YouTube videos is something she loves doing, are equally happy that it’s something she gets to do as her full time job and that they are clever enough to know that the way she does that is through working with brands.  However, with that particular Durex campaign, there was also a competition and a discount code, meaning her audience benefit too.

Interestingly, in terms of keeping a balance, James Hancock of Triple A Media said that for every sponsored YouTuber video we see, there may well be 10 that haven’t worked out, which could be because the Social Talent or the Talent Management have rejected it because it’s not right for that specific YouTuber.

There were also loads of really good insights into launching your own brand’s channel throughout the show from my fellow CIPRSM colleague Dom Burch, who is Senior Director for Marketing Innovation and New Revenue at Walmart in the UK.  Dom talked in a lot of detail and shared key learnings about how, with the help of Gleam Futures, they launched Asda’s UK channel ‘Mum’s Eye View’, which has grown to have over 168,000 subscribers, reaching over 8m views since launching in March last year.  Dom explained that effectively, they ‘rent’ the Social Talent’s audience, drawing a percentage of their audience from their own channels over to Mum’s Eye View when they appear there.  However, he is insistent that the YouTuber should never make a video for Mum’s Eye View that they would not be happy to post on their own channel.  He also explained how he measures ROI, saying that the amount he invests is worth every penny in reach alone.  He compared spending the budget on pay-per-view via pre-role on YouTube, where he could easily spend 10p to get one view on YouTube and the engagement is tiny.  He uses YouTube ‘thumbs up’ and comments as a way of measuring engagement as success, seeing tremendous results from the content created by the YouTubers on Mum’s Eye View, particularly as he hasn’t used media spend to drive people to the content.

A recommended way to discover which Social Talent to work with is via a new service launched by The Big Shot called Social Circle, which, as James explained, tiers talent in terms of size of audience (so not just the top YouTubers with the huge following) and places them across a number of different verticals.  The site is aiming to be a one stop shop in terms of allowing brands and agencies to brief multiple talents on their campaigns.

For any brand looking to enter this space of working with Social Talent on YouTube for the first time, there were a number of important tips throughout the podcast, which included:

  • Do your due diligence and watch the YouTuber’s channel and understand their content so that you get to know them, which will help you pick the right Social Talent to work with
  • Get to know what your target audience are watching – there are loads of niche channels – it’s not all make up and beauty!
  • Let go of control and accept that, whilst you will have a brief, this is the YouTuber’s content
  • Ask the Talent, Talent Management and/or MCN for a breakdown of the audience reached
  • Approach the vlogger or their agent with an idea but respect the media, which in this case is the vlogger themselves, and build a relationship with them
  • Be honest and transparent as a brand
  • Ensure you are aware of ASA guidelines
  • Remember it’s not just about YouTube – there are multiple platforms to consider that Social Talent use to reach your target audience

All the above aside, the biggest debate for me to have come out of this whole discussion was for, as Dom described, the older listeners to my podcasts, and whether you are in Team Kylie & Neighbours (Dom’s vote) or Team Dannii & Home & Away (my vote) – feel free to let me know your choice below!

Oh, and of course, please do share any other comments you might have on working with Social Talent.  You can also keep the conversation going on twitter around these podcasts using #ciprcsuite.

Finally, if you are interested in getting involved in this series, please do get in touch with directly.

Oh when the Saints go tweeting in – the latest csuite podcast

Whilst last month’s csuite podcast show 7 was on the topic of fan engagement in Sport, I encourage you to listen to the interview whatever sector you work in, as I believe the ideas and concepts I discussed with Antony Marcou, CEO of Sports Revolution and PRMoment’s Ben Smith are relevant to everyone in PR.

Naturally I really enjoyed this show as we got to talk football, but before you non footie fans moan, I don’t mean we were discussing what’s better when it comes to 4-4-2 or 4-5-1.  Instead, Antony gave us some really interesting insight into a number of areas of Sports marketing including:

  • how the PR aspect of maximising a brand’s sponsorship through social media has a huge impact at the negotiation stage of the deal
  • the benefits of the award winning project that he worked on, where installing high density Wi-Fi into Celtic Park solved the connectivity problem of trying to get a signal in a ground with over 60,000 people, changing the way fans experience their visit to the game, as well as the impact it could have on the bottom line for the club
  • ownership of new technologies and platforms as they launch and the role of the clubs and federations in the process, i.e. to police or participate

Having Ben back on the show though was great from a PR perspective as he brought the discussion back in terms of the impact social media in sport is having on regional media.  He used his personal experience of how he used to go to the Daily Echo’s website to read about Southampton FC, but now gets better content directly from the club’s own website and social channels such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter feeds.  This then lead us on to a discussion about ‘unofficial’ reporting, using examples of fan based podcasts like the one both Antony and I listen too – The Spurs Show, which I appeared as a guest on recently, and what it means to the clubs.

Other topics we covered included how players can have more influence across social media than the clubs they play for when you compare the numbers of followers they have, which again is just as relevant outside of sport when you compare it to the case of key executives at major businesses.

We also touched on campaign examples from the worlds of Basketball, Rugby, Sailing, Motor GP, F1, Golf and Cycling – in many cases, sports that have to work harder to engage with fans as they don’t have the money that flows in The Barclays Premier League, or are not the easiest to watch at the venues, where the TV experience is better from a viewing perspective.  Many of the examples we discussed are arguably doing a better job at engaging with their audiences through social media and mobile apps with real time data updates or certainly have the potential to, using the stats generated from wearable or on-board tech that can be shared through social.

I produce this series on behalf of the CIPR’s Social Media Panel and we’re now looking for sponsors of our own to cover the costs of production and help us bring more interviews to you, so if you are interested, please use this form, or twitter using #cirpcsuite.  Our shows are currently averaging over 400 plays each, and growing, and we’re aiming to bring you some great guests in the future, the next one lined up being Colin Byrne, CEO of Weber Shandwick, who will be discussing the Social CEO.

You can also help us climb the itunes charts by subscribing to the feed, and please keep the conversation going on twitter using #ciprcsuite


Why Disneyland Paris needs a sprinkle of pixie dust

Having recenlty returned from a Christmas family trip to Disneyland Paris, it was no surprise to read that the theme park had been reported to have received a €1 billion bail out a few months ago.

Don’t get me wrong, we had a great few days away and there is, without doubt, a magical feeling you get when you walk through the entrance, which is still the case for my 17 and 14 year old too.  However, the park looks tired and clearly shows a lack of investment and it’s therefore no suprise to read that it’s been losing money for years.

I can’t pretend to know how to run a theme park, nor do I have any idea of the cost of building rides and maintaining them, but here are my ten very simple observations as to where that huge investment could be spent to help restore my faith in the Magic Kingdom.

  1. It’s time for Michael Jackson to Beat It

In Discoveryland you will find what’s described as ‘A fantastic 3D film relating the adventures of Captain EO, alias Michael Jackson, featuring a rhythm-packed musical soundtrack and a whole host of dazzling special effects’

This film was made in 1986.   At the time, it was the most expensive film ever produced on a per-minute basis, averaging out at $1.76 million per minute and starred the biggest pop sensation directed by the guy that brought us Star Wars.  It didn’t get any better.  But what does that mean to kids of today? Michael Jackson sadly passed away over five years ago now and I understand the reasons that this attraction was brought back to the park as a tribute to him, but it’s time to move it on.  The film couldn’t look more dated and the ‘dazzling special effects’ look so basic compared to what we’ve come to expect with films such as Avatar and Gravity its almost embarrassing to watch.

  1. Did they not wanna build a snowman?

Wandering around the park are of course the famous five of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto but you’ll also spot the likes of Chip & Dale and … Mr Smee.  Where are the new heroes like Olaf, the snowman who stole the show in Frozen?  Disney need to stop living in the past.  The choice of characters you can meet still seems to be based on the ‘trying to live your childhood through your kids’ theory.

  1. Time to update the rides, Savvy?

I get that Pirates of the Caribbean was a ride before it was a blockbuster film, but would most kids going to the park know that?  So when you get to the ride, it makes no sense to me and must surely be huge disappointment to many not to see any reference to Captain Jack Sparrow.  Time to have a facelift.

  1. The not so Fastpass®

‘You can save time with Fastpass’, except that when you read your small print, ‘you may only have one Fastpass ticket at a time’ and despite Disney Hotel guests being able to enter the parks early, the Fastpass machines don’t open until 10am.  So choose wisely which one you want, because within minutes you are already only able to get into that ride say about an hour later.  By the time you have then used your Fastpass, the next one you try to use isn’t available until about 2-3pm, after which you’ll be lucky to get another one.  The system simply doesn’t work

  1. #nohashtagorwifi

Disneyland Paris has had over 14.2m visits in 2014, and almost every one of those must have been taking photos just as we were. So with the amount of pictures that were no doubt being uploaded to social media, the park could be trending online pretty much every day if they simply offered free wifi throughout it, which is not currently available, and perhaps ran competitions encouraging you to tag your photos with a hashtag where the best photos won Disney related prizes.

  1. Figaro Figaro Figaro

Far be it from me to tell Disney how to sell product, but I do find it odd that you come off a ride, say in Fantasyland, such as Pinocchio, and in the store you can buy a Lilo and Stitch toy.  I may have a vested interest in this one as my favourite Disney character is Figaro, Mister Geppeto’s cat.  I know, an odd choice out of all the characters there have ever been. But my point is, would there not be more chance of selling more product if, when you finished the ride you could perhaps buy a bigger selection of toys from that particular film?  After all, there are stores all over the two parks and in the Disney Village area where you can buy all the other stuff.   FYI, there was no Figaro on sale, and surprisingly, neither could we find a cuddly Olaf.

  1. Early Starts, but not for all the workers

Guests of the Disney Hotels benefit from being allowed into the park earlier than the general public, which is great, if all the rides were open.  But they are not.  For example, we made a bee-line for the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster in Walt Disney Studios, but that didn’t open until 10am, so instead made the long walk back to the main park to go on Space Mountain, except that ride had ‘technical problems’ and was therefore closed at the time.  Unlucky I guess, so instead we went to the Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, but by 9.30am, it was already at a 30min queue, and of course you couldn’t use a FastPass at it was too early!  Open all the rides and make it a true benefit to the guests to get up early.

  1. These are not the rides you are looking for

Disney paid over $4bn for LucasFilm, so I get that it wants to see an ROI out of Star Wars.  But still having the original Star Tours simulator, which like the Captain EO film, is almost 30 years old, is just simply not worth queuing for, when your time can be better spent on amazing new and original rides like Ratatouille, which opened earlied this year.  Star Wars also seems an odd choice to show on the screens in the Videopolis area which, despite having a stage, had no live show on it.  Instead, across the screens they were showing clips from the animated series Star Wars Rebels.  This seemed strange, especially at Christmas time.  Surely kids would prefer to see the songs of Frozen playing whilst they are having their lunch, or something from Mickey’s Christmas Carol.  I don’t have the stats, and haven’t done the research, but I can’t believe too many kids under 10 would get excited by Star Wars Rebels whilst at Disney.

  1. Interactive Queuing

We were lucky in that the longest queue we had was 45mins, but the timing of many queues were shown as 70 minutes or more.  So how hard can it be to make that time pass a little faster by giving something for you to do whilst standing in the freezing December cold.  The impressive ‘Crush’s Coaster’ ride did get it right by offering a local wifi link enabling you to download a game onto your smartphone, which certainly helps.  So why can’t they do something similar on all the rides, or why not have screens above the queues showing scenes from the films, or the characters walking along the queue giving the kids a chance to take a selfie with Snow White, for example.  How difficult could that last one be?

  1. Disney on-demand

And finally, when you do crash out in your room, why not offer the chance to watch a Disney movie of your choice on your TV.  I’ve never understood why, in this age of Netflix, which does indeed have Disney films on it menu, why the Disney Hotels don’t offer an on-demand service of all the films available to show.


So there you have it.  My 10 simple marketing tips (and I had plenty more) for the people at Disneyland Paris on where to start spending their billion Euros.

In summary, as I said, we had a great time away, but perhaps Disney need to take a leaf out of their own song that has driven just about everyone mad in 2014 and that I can’t get out of my head since returning from my trip:

“the past is in the past! Let it go, let it go.”