Category Archives: Social Media

Influencer Marketing in the Fashion Industry – csuitepodcast interview with Levi’s

Show 41 of the csuitepodcast was recorded at PRWeek’s 2017 PR360 and the second of my three guests was the Europe and UK PR Director of Levi’s, Morven Mackinnon, who had just taken part in a panel discussion on influencer marketing. (Interview starts at 20min)

Russ-and-Morven-cutMorven has held her position as PR Director for around six years, and she explained how the nature of how we do PR has changed quite significantly, specifically on how social media influencers have become a more important part of the overall mix over the past few years, and how using these influencers takes a different mind and skill set to that of using traditional media.

Morven talked about how important it is to get the balance between platforms and experience.  She said that whilst Levi’s may be using as many channels as possible, it is necessary to understand how they all link, as this affects the way in which products are marketed and how brands keep the support of their customers.  Looking further into social media marketing, she explained that using online influencers can offer a share of voice on a channel that perhaps you may not have had otherwise.  Therefore, when Levi’s are selecting social media influencers to work with, Morven stated that while obviously the size of their reach is important for getting the brand’s message out, there are other aspects that are important too. Naturaly, from the fashion industry point of view, visual channels such as Instagram and YouTube will feature heavily. Morven also mentioned Snapchat as a new visual platform, and whilst she feels its relevance is being questioned since the launch of Instagram stories, she feels it does still cater for a particular audience.

Morven also said that podcasts are becoming more popular in the fashion world as a form or marketing. However, she argues that the world of influencers is becoming ever more crowded and at some point they will need to find a way to differentiate themselves from everyone.

There are many things that go into choosing the right influencer to collaborate with, which Morven said is a challenge for the brand, but ultimately the audience must feel that the relationship that the brand and the influencer have is an authentic one. Factors include the number of followers, but also who is following them; social engagement levels in the form of likes or comments; and the fact that, as she previously mentioned, the fashion industry is a very visual market.  This led her to say that the aesthetics of an influencer’s profile is an extremely important aspect in the process of picking the right influencer. Morven also said that she also looks at what other brands an influencer is working with as that gives her the chance to see whether the influencer would also be a good fit for Levi’s.

It is also important to make sure the influencers that are chosen are genuine about wanting to be part of Levi’s and so they are regularly invited to events, such as those at their VIP gifting suites in Central London and LA, and encouraged to pick out products in order for them to understand the brand values.  This enables Levi’s so see if there is a genuine connection with them.  The key is that Levi’s are looking for long term relationships and do not want influencers who see the opportunity as, what Morven described as a short term pay cheque.

Whilst the world of marketing and PR is changing and influencer marketing is now the focus of what Morven is doing, she believes that traditional media is still important and critical in the mix as it gives credibility in the fashion industry. However, she said social media can reach a different and often younger audience.

Morven said that Levi’s was fortunate to have some great campaigns with some really good influencers. For example, they partnered with Chiara Ferragini (below) of The Blonde Salad, an Italian YouTuber and Instagrammer, to set up a capsule product collection that was sold in selective and exclusive retailers across Europe.


Levi’s took Chiara out to their Innovation Lab in San Francisco to create the designs, and so this collaborative collection allowed for Chiara’s followers to feel both part Levi’s community and Chiara’s.

The collection sold out everywhere almost instantly, which as Morven mentions, is a clear way of seeing how much influence such YouTubers have and how this can benefit brands.

Finally, Morven said that the world of influencers is becoming increasingly crowded and almost every influencer now has an agent. She therefore believes that while it is important to use social influencers, there aren’t enough ‘marketing dollars’ to finance everyone with an Instagram account and so it is important for the influencers to be able to differentiate themselves, potentially diversifying across different channels and standing out enough to keep their relationship with the brands going. She added that it is just as important for brands to keep on top of the changing processes too and therefore suggests that brands need to work out new ways to keep influencers wanting to work with them, asking “how can we offer unique experiences to influencers that will make them genuinely want to post about the brand, outside of campaigns”.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the website, Soundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Strategic Internal Communications interview with Virgin Trains: csuitepodcast show 35 pt1


with Virgin Trains’ Drew McMillan (left)

The first two parts of Show 35 of the csuitepodcast were recorded at PR Week’s Strategic Internal Communications event in London, which had a theme of creating a more agile, digital and customer focus culture in the business.

My first interview, with Drew McMillan, Head of Internal Communications and Innovation at Virgin Trains, followed his keynote address at the conference about how to create an amazing place to work by borrowing techniques more often used for customer insight.

Drew’s gut instinct was that whilst many consumer brands quite rightly spend millions understanding their customers, they spend way less than 10% of that amount understanding their people, yet so many business use the mantra of their people being their most valuable asset!

He explained that Virgin is a customer led brand that is big in the consumer space, and that the company invests accordingly in understanding its customers.  However, he felt that historically, the organisation hadn’t invested near as much effort and energy in understanding its people and that, like most employers, had previously thought that an annual survey (that often takes a long time to do anything about the responses), perhaps with some additional activities ‘around the edges’, was all that was required.

Drew believes that today’s employees expect to be listened to more often and their input to be acted upon much more quickly.  He therefore wanted to look at a fundamentally different way of applying customer insight to an internal audience and so adapted the company’s consumer facing tool, ‘The Awesometer’, to create an internal Pulse dashboard that has sub components looking at Trust, Empowerment and Engagement.  This dashboard shows an aggregated sense of how Virgin Trains’ people are feeling on a four weekly basis, i.e. how awesome the company is.

Drew’s Pulse dashboard works alongside other Internal Communications tools.  He explained that the company is in the middle of transferring to Office365, although had already implemented Yammer, which gives him rich analytics on sentiment within the business.  In fact, Virgin Trains has been independently audited as one of the most engaged Yammer users in Europe (with 2800 active users) and in the top 12 Yammer Networks worldwide, with a daily Yammer Engagement level of 68% Measure of Active Engagement (MAE), which Drew confirmed is very high.

Virgin also combines this with more traditional one-to-one research, working with Ipsos Loyalty to speak with colleagues in their homes in a very frank and private way about working at Virgin Trains and how the company can improve as a business.  Drew feels the importance of doing these interviews in the home is that people are in a completely different psychological place and will therefore talk differently to how they might do so in a typical open focus group environment.

All these various tools and research methods are part of Virgin’s ACE (Amazing Colleague Experience) program – born out of their ICE program (Incredible Customer Experience), which helped define the seven stages of their customers’ journey with them, from thinking of travelling, through to arriving at their destination. Therefore ACE takes the same methodology by breaking their people’s daily lives into a number of stages, from preparing to come to work in the morning through to getting home at night.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on Soundcloud, itunes and TuneIn.  If you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

The show also now has a Facebook page and Twitter feed so please do follow and get involved in the conversation.

Age Agnostic Content: Cannes Lions csuitepodcast Part 7 of 9

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To kick off the third of my podcasts from Cannes Lions, I was joined in ICCO’s House of PR by Karen Strauss, Partner, Chief Strategy & Creativity Officer at Ketchum, Gabriel Araujo, Creative Director at Ketchum and Adam Singolda of content discovery platform Taboola.

The topic of our chat was Age Agnostic Content.

Karen started by referring to a story that Ad Age ran in November 2015 saying that 2016 would be the year for Age Agnostic Marketing.  She interpreted this to mean that we will finally take advantage of the power of the Internet to identify people by shared interests and abandon the practice of writing creative briefs aimed at people by their age.  However, Karen still sees briefs targeted by demographics rather than psychographics, hence why she had put together a panel for Cannes to address when age does matter and when it should be ignored in favour of marketing to passions.

In their session at the event, Adam said that smart marketing goes beyond age and into value and passion and in our interview he added that the notion of demographic and what marketers are looking for is completely changing and evolving.  He believes that people are so overwhelmed with information and so as a marketer, you need to start with what is it that you are trying to address for those people so that whatever you create may be valuable to them.

Karen now pushes back when she gets briefs that talk about targeting age groups.  She argues the case for using data analytics to discover what the relevant and shared passions are, so that she can better understand who the client is trying to reach, as this will help understand what content needs to be created to make the right connection.  She doesn’t believe you will connect with people by reminding them how young or old they are!

Gabriel described a great example of a campaign for a brand that is challenging the Age issue.  He talked through a project that Ketchum produced for Pfizer in Brazil, where their brief was originally aimed at millennials about ageing.

Pfizer Age Shamelessly FINAL (Creative Data) from Gabriel Araujo on Vimeo.

Gabriel explained that their view was that the target audience on the brief wouldn’t care too much about the issue at hand, so they had to think of a way that would provoke them and get everyone to pay attention.  Ketchum therefore responded by filming young and old people answering the same questions about their lifestyle, the results of which showed a new reality.  Ketchum found that younger people are lazy, staying home, watching Netflix, don’t go out with friends and are not having sex!  With old people it was the opposite. They are active, playing sports, travelling, having sex and falling in love again.

The results of the campaign were fantastic across social media in Brazil.

I compared the campaign to the big winner at last year’s Cannes Lions, the #LikeAGirl campaign, from Always, which I still use as case study example in my Using Video in Social Media Workshop

Both videos are simply shot and rather than relying on visual effects, they work because the story telling is so good, which Gabriel agreed with.

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.

You can also keep the conversation going on twitter around these podcasts using #csuitepodcast.

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!

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.

You can also keep the conversation going on twitter around these podcasts using #csuitepodcast.

Inspiring Content Creators: Interview with Prince Ea & Fleishman Hillard: Cannes Lions csuitepodcast Part 5 of 9

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Starts at 8.34

I’m not going to lie; this was the best interview that I recorded at Cannes LionsPrince Ea is one of the humblest and most inspiring people I’ve interviewed so far in this podcast serie – below is a sample of his work.

It was a pleasure spending 15mins listening to him and finding out about his journey in becoming a Spoken Word Artist to fronting campaigns for brands such as Chevrolet.

Joining Prince Ea were Sean DallasKid, Partner for Content and Creative at Fleishman Hillard San Francisco and his colleague Miker Stovall who leads the creative team in their Dallas office.  All three of my guests had just finished presenting in ICCO’s House of PR on the topic ‘Brands as Activists: Shaking Up The World’, which Sean explained was about how brands have to be truly authentic to resonate with their audiences and that partnering with like-minded artists and content creators is one of the best ways to provide the trust that is needed to achieve it.

Prince Ea can be found across pretty much all social channels including Twitter and Instagram, but if you want to see him in action, visit his Facebook Page where he has over 3.6m likes or on YouTube where his videos have amassed over 66m views. Oprah, who he told me kissed him on the cheek only a few days before, used the words “Powerful Message, Visionary Filmmaker” when describing him.

You can’t help but want to listen when Prince talks.  Whilst he tries to inspire his audience with his work, his said that his own inspiration comes from people who embody love.  He explained that we live in a world where everything is very material, where everything is resisting love, and so he believes that people who have the courage to become love and to speak love is beautiful.  He used to be a fan of rappers like Jay Z and Eminem who he felt had amazing punchlines.  However, when he started reading ancient texts and scriptures by Buddha as well as the Gita, he soon realised their ‘punchlines’ were even more powerful and so he is also inspired by wisdom and truth.  Innovation and seeing people do things that have never been done before also inspires him.

Prince now gets approached by lots of brands and agencies to collaborate, but they would have to have the same authenticity and integrity as his own brand for him to consider working together.  The most important thing for him is synchronicity and alignment with the message and in fact in a lot of cases, it’s content that he would have produced even if a brand didn’t get behind it.  This also means that the feedback he gets from his followers is very positive.

The example that Miker showed in his presentation of where he has worked with Prince Ea was for Fleishman’s client Chevrolet in a campaign called #FuelYourHustle, as they were looking to partner with an artist who could inspire others to follow their passions, be successful and focus on what matters the most to them.

Working with Social Influencers can also work in a B2B environment too as Sean explained when he talked through a campaign he had produced for his technology client Avaya, which was all about Business Lingo.  In this instance, they collaborated with YouTube content creators Tripp and Tyler to produce a really clever and funny video.

What’s key in each of these examples, as indeed was discussed when I interviewed UK YouTuber Hannah Witton in Show 12 of the csuitepodcast on the topic of the Influence of Social Talent, is to allow the artists the freedom to create the content themselves.  However, as Sean explained, it takes trust with the client and artists for that to work.  As quoted by Simon Sinek in his popular Ted Talk (below), Sean said that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it” and so that’s the power of working with content creators in that they are not [playing] a role but are themselves, creating content that is authentic to them and people want to buy into that authenticity because they care. According to Sean, that is the new reality.

As for the future, Prince Ea wants to see more individualised approaches to technology and to content creators.  He believes that it’s easy for technology to become a distraction. He questions whether the technology that we’re creating is truly progressing us forward as a species as he wants content creators and app developers to instil positive habits into people as opposed to addictive habits that make money off of people.  He therefore hopes that the altruistic platforms develop and spread in the years to come.

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.

You can also keep the conversation going on twitter around these podcasts using #csuitepodcast.

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.

Social Media in Financial Services – latest c-suite podcast

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It felt a bit like the X Factor this month given how many journey references my guests made, but these were stories I was really interested in hearing about as we discussed the development and impact of social and digital within the finance sector.

Last Friday, I was joined in the studios of markettiers by guests 41, 42 and 43 of the c-suite podcast:

This was show 15 of the series that I produce for the CIPR’s Social Media Panel and themes we discussed included:

  1. Working within the parameters of the FCA
  2. Cross over between Communications and Customer Services
  3. Channels of communication
  4. Financial Education and ‘Blended Learning’
  5. Internal Communications
  6. Managing messages on social that transcend borders
  7. Measuring ROI of campaign activity
  8. Integrating apps into financial services

The ‘journeys’ we took included:

Journey #1 – Nick explained that VISA wasn’t regulated by the FCA until very recently and are now regulated by the Bank of England, the FCA, the Payment Systems Regulator and a European regulator too.   He said that there is a lot of fear around regulation and it can be seen as quite a barrier if you come in from outside the industry when it comes to social communications, which are real time and free, where you pivot and do things in an agile manner.  However, he believes that if you are a good communicator, then you know that the fundamental thing about the company you are working for is reputation.  Regulation therefore gives you a lot of natural checks, which should help you, for example, tweet in a manner that’s responsible and hopefully lines up with the compliance regime that’s out there.  This means lots of double checks are in place.  Similarly, Sharon said that from the Bank’s perspective, they have to think about all the other jurisdictions in which they are present in and not just the FCA, so communications does involve having a lot of legal and compliance sign off.  Therefore, for Standard Chartered, it’s more about getting the processes right.  She feels that this does mean that her industry may not be as responsive as others and can’s see them having a ‘superbowl’ moment – whilst we didn’t mention it in the show, I assume she was referring to something like the brilliant Oreo response to the blackout during the quarter of Super Bowl XLVII (below)

Keith added that the other law they govern themselves under is that of common sense!

Journey #2 – Keith explained that when it comes to social at Zurich, it about the members of his social team making the right friends internally and having the right conversations so that the first time their legal team see something, isn’t when they see it potentially on their twitter feed, for example.

Journey #3 – Nick said that VISA are very passionate about equipping young people to thrive in the digital economy [see Nick’s post on this subject] where cash is disappearing.  He believes that, working with VISA’s partners, enabling organisations like Young Enterprise to go into classrooms, is important as they have a duty to provide financial education. However, the real challenge is to create a model that provides benefits outside of that environment.  Keith added to this as he said that from an insurance perspective, through their Endsleigh brand, Zurich try and take students away from the comfort blanket of mum and dad and their insurance, when they first leave home and go off to university, and help them understand the different risks and show them the value of insurance.

Journey #4 – Sticking with the education theme, Keith also talked about how he has to educate 7000 employees at Zurich, giving them the confidence, tools, techniques and mind-set to understand how to use Social media professionally and share Zurich’s content across their own personal communities – something that has been a regular theme in this podcast series, but discussed in depth in Show 11.

Journey #5 – When discussing the topic of the fact that social transcends borders, and how to manage messages on social platforms taking this into account, Sharon explained that Standard Chartered started off having everything done at a local level, meaning that there wasn’t a consistency, moved to having everything produced at the centre, and now have more of a blended model, learning along the way of what works in particular markets.

Journey #6 – Talking about VISA Europe’s ‘Future of Retail Report’, which was released the previous week, Nick said that four or five years ago, it would be difficult to get people to engage about payments, but what we’re seeing now is an experience revolution for the customer, where the payments stage is dropping out of the journey as it becomes frictionless, so instead of having to get a card out, you are using apps on your phone, for example, or technologies like Apple Pay.

Journey #7 – Nick believes that social will go the same way as digital, i.e. from being a challenger to being transformational and gave Go Henry, as a great example of how a pre-paid card and apps have come together to provide financial education to children.

Journey #8 – Nick’s final tip was to take advantage of Twitter’s translation tool and so he recommended following a bank or insurer in another country, and see how they talk about it, give you some insight, and might just help you go on a journey too, which was an appropriate way to finish off the show.

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.

Social Media in Public Services – latest c-suite podcast

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The Northern Lasses were out in force for the latest c-suite podcast, when I was joined in the studios of markettiers4dc by:

And via ISDN by:

This was show 14 of the series that I produce for the CIPR’s Social Media Panel and the topic of discussion this time was social media’s role in Public Services and the ‘Influence for Impact’ report that the CIPRLPS Group had just launched.

There were a number of key themes from the report and aspects of social media’s impact on Public Services communications that we discussed including:

  1. Digital Transformation
  2. Budget Cuts
  3. Reputation Management
  4. Evaluation
  5. Training

The consistent message throughout though, was that whilst the corporate communications team had traditionally run all mass communications, as Bridget explained, that can’t continue when it comes to social media tools as, in her team’s case, they don’t have the resource to do so, especially in the face of budget cuts.  Therefore, whilst they are using social channels to be a part of the conversation as well as listening to what is being said, she sees her team’s role as becoming more strategic in terms of advising and influencing others throughout the organisation of what channels to use and how to share information through them.

Amanda had a similar experience, saying that they have had to train over 500 Police Officers and staff on how to use twitter to a very local level.  When it comes to influencing others within the organisation, she said that you have to make sure that senior people are prepared to accept some of the risks, particularly if you are empowering people to use social media on the front line, and accept that there will be times that things don’t work out, but as long as it’s something you can deal with and mitigate as best you can, then it shouldn’t lead to someone being disciplined.

Where things get difficult, however, are in live situations, for example, if an incident happens, it will be on social media before any traditional local media have even been in contact with the emergency services.

Amanda’s team are therefore constantly monitoring social channels, but this also adds to their communications role as this means they are taking on operational responsibility, finding information and intelligence on social media, which will help support the intelligence teams.  This is where I found it particularly interesting, when Amanda started explaining ‘predictive policing’ using Social Media, where she explained that studies have shown that you can look at social media postings and overlay them with hotspot areas for crime and particular crime types, and that, whilst this again, is a more operational element, it is important for her in how she can build audience and look at what that audience is telling them.  For her, this will help demonstrate her team’s value to the organisation in helping to prevent and detect crime.

This does beg the question though, in how far we are from Minority Report?


Perhaps one for another podcast …

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.

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.