Ensuring a delivery focused approach to PR and marketing

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We are delighted to announce that we have created a new role, appointing Carys Geer as Client Services Director.

The role of client services director is crucial to our business, as evidenced by our recent smooth switch to whole team remote working. Carys joined brookscomm in 2018 as Project Leader and has key industry experience plus a commitment to exceptional service provisions for our clients.

We caught up with Carys to find out more about the role, what it means to her and how it will benefit brookscomm’s clients.

What does this new role mean for brookscomm? 

Marketing and communications as a practice is continually evolving, changing how we consume and share news with partners, customers, prospects and our peers. As an integrated agency, brookscomm has continued to thrive over the last 25 years by staying agile, anticipating and adapting its services to what its clients need. The Client Services Director role is central to the team, exploring ideas to improve the agency’s future delivery and ensuring outputs are aligned to our clients’ strategic goals. This will enable us to develop our service in a dynamic and forward-thinking way. This is critical when rolling out changes in a business to ensure consistency for both the team and clients.

What does the position mean to you?

In my career to date, I’ve experienced a few different agency environments. Finding the balance between successful delivery to clients, advancing the agency from a commercial perspective and investing in a growing team is notoriously difficult. What’s exciting to me is that this role is an opportunity to oversee and maintain this careful balance at brookscomm, working across all facets of the business. The increased focus on business leadership and development is something that really interests me and provides a great progression for my career path. It’s really rewarding to help shape the agency, develop the PR and marketing experts of tomorrow and deliver services that not just meet client objectives, but also wow our clients.

What prompted the introduction of this new role?

The different elements of this role have always existed at brookscomm sitting within different remits in the agency over the years. The creation of this new role reflects our continued commitment to an integrated approach to delivery at brookscomm. We have various specialists across our service areas within the team and so this role oversees the combined expertise, bringing it all together to provide a seamless, valuable service for our clients. Our integrated service, combining various marketing and PR activities, is adding real value to clients’ businesses and we anticipate this area of the business growing considerably, very much supported by the introduction of this role.

Has COVID-19 impacted how this role was designed to look?

Like the rest of the world, we couldn’t have anticipated the significant changes brought on by the coronavirus crisis. And while we’re extremely fortunate that we can continue working and servicing our clients, how we do this looks different to how it did a few months ago. The same is the case for the client services role, however the fundamentals of the position remain the same. Having a client services lead has been critical in transitioning the team to work from home, ensuring that delivery to clients is impacted as little as possible, and ensuring we can run systems and processes virtually for the agency as normal.

What should prospective clients look for when choosing their communications service supplier?

A company should never underestimate the value of a great marketing and PR agency. We’ve found in recent years that companies get more from in an integrated approach to PR and marketing rather than the disciplines operating in isolation, which helps to streamline activities, get better results and measure outcomes more effectively.

The right agency will be so much more than a group of people delivering good results; they will be consultants with great business acumen, partners that have your best interests at heart and will treat your business as if it was their own. That’s always been our approach at brookscomm, which means our clients get so much more from us than what is agreed at the outset of the campaign or contract. It’s no wonder that so many of our client and media contacts have been with us for decades.

Follow brookscomm on Twitter (@PRexpertsUK) or LinkedIn to stay up to date and find out more about our integrated service offering here.

 

How to look after yourself during challenging times

While some of us may stay physically well through self-isolation and social distancing during this unprecedented period, a potential side effect of these practices is a negative impact on our own mental health.

New research from the Mental Health Foundation has revealed that more than 60% of adults had felt anxious or worried as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic – and that was before the UK went into lockdown. Although not everyone will be affected in the same way, this situation is new to most of us and people may find themselves struggling in ways they haven’t before.

With that in mind, we wanted to share some advice that we’ve gathered from various sources around how to look after ourselves during the coming weeks. We hope that this might be useful for you, or to share with others.

  1. Keep in a routine

Structure in your day can help you practice good boundaries for working at home to ensure you have time for rest and relaxation. Professor of Public Health Linda Bauld explained on BBC Debate Night earlier this month that this can include things such as waking up to an alarm like a normal working day, getting ready, checking in with friends or family, or taking a morning walk.

  1. Speak to people each day

Make the most of video calls, FaceTime, chat apps or a traditional phone call to socially engage with friends and family virtually. The same goes for checking in with and working with colleagues when we’re based at home. While we may not be able to meet them physically, the social interaction can boost our mood and keep us connected to the outside world.

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  1. Get some exercise and fresh air

Staying active is a great way to refresh the mind, distract ourselves momentarily from a difficult situation and release endorphins to keep us feeling positive. It’s also a “classic anxiety reduction strategy” according to Dr Ken Duckworth, medical director of National Alliance on Mental Illness.

  1. Monitor your media intake

It’s very easy with a lot going on and so many news sources to stay constantly connected to the news, however many are finding that negativity in the news is causing anxiety or distress. The World Health Organisation recommends that we seek updates and guidance at specific times of the day and avoid listening to or following rumours that might make us feel uncomfortable.

  1. Eat a balanced diet to boost your immune system

When we’re all at home we may be led to feel bored and reach for foods or substances that can bring comfort, however in excess these may make you feel worse. By monitoring our intake and being aware of its impact, we can then alter it if we feel necessary. Try to have a balanced lifestyle even when we are limited to what we can do.

  1. Take regular breaks

We’re generally used to getting up and making a drink, attending meetings or heading out for a break during the day. At home there’s less things to break up our working pattern and screen time, so make an effort to have regular breaks to give your mind (and your eyes!) a rest.

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  1. Practice positive thinking

There’s a lot around us that can bring us down at the moment. It may sound simple but focusing on positivity –  whether that’s reflecting on things you’re grateful for each day or intentionally thinking about something that’s made you happy recently – helps us to channel our thoughts so that we remember things to stay happy about.

If you feel you need additional support, we recommend you seek further advice or help. If you’re concerned about symptoms that you or people you know are experiencing, visit the NHS website for more details on Coronavirus, or to access resources to support your mental health and wellbeing.

Other charities such as Mind and Time To Change also have a wealth of resources for those experiencing mental health problems or looking to support a struggling friend or family member.

Stay safe – look after yourselves and your community!

The brookscomm team

Choosing the right communications partner for 2020

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As we settle into a new decade, most organisations will be reviewing their communications activities and anticipating how they will contribute to their overall business strategy over the coming years.  And despite the current economic climate still looking somewhat uncertain, it’s encouraging to hear that 61% of marketing leaders are expecting budget growth throughout 2020, with 86% even predicting that the political and economic environment over the next two years will have a positive effect on business performance.

However, with this budget growth and optimism comes a responsibility: how do you utilise your marketing spend to get the best return and crucially, how do you find the right partner to help you achieve your goals?

A tailored approach

Look for a communications partner that is flexible and adaptable to your needs, so that you are getting the most out of the relationship to add measurable value to your business. This enables a seamless partnership with your own team and resource so that a communications agency can simply be an extension of your existing operations.

Unique insight

The adage is true that many hands make light work but working with a communications partner isn’t just about having extra pairs of hands. The right agency will also add value with innovative ideas, an external point of view and expertise to ensure you’re making the most out of your existing marketing and communications activity. They will listen intently and ask relevant questions, challenging you with concepts and new solutions that you might not otherwise have thought of. 

Commercially focused and industry qualified

Ask a potential partner to demonstrate how they have added value for their clients. Do they have client case studies and testimonials that showcase previous successes?  Discover how they measure the impact of their communications activities, how they present this information and how often they review activities with their clients. It’s imperative that your communications partner is commercially astute and understands that its function is to help meet your business strategy. The CIPR and CIM are champions of best-practice cost-effective communication strategies, so find out if the practitioners in your communications agency are qualified and active members of these institutes.

Powerful relationships

Building strong relationships with your partner ensures that all stakeholders are aligned with clear objectives, measurable outcomes and a comprehensive understanding of messaging. The better your relationship with your communications agency, the more value the team can add as a business partner. Find an agency team with great business acumen and one that has your best interests at heart.

By getting the right communications agency in place and all fully committing to achieving the same goals, the partnership could be one that continues to add value for decades to come. To find out how brookscomm could become your trusted communications partner, please get in touch.

Christmas TV ads: what are the magic ingredients needed to win the top spot?

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By Mwamba Malama, PR and Digital Account Executive 

Every year the never-ending debate on whether the Christmas season begins in December or November causes a stir. But our favourite brands and retailers are set on making the decision for us by releasing their new Christmas adverts from early November to get us in the festive spirit.

With all the effort and big budgets marketing departments put into their creative campaigns, what is the ultimate recipe for a successful Christmas ad?

A spoonful of synergy

Brands are increasingly optimising multiple platforms to deliver their new Christmas messaging to audiences, and this year is no exception. Incorporating different media such as TV, print and online as part of a strong marketing strategy ensures that the ads have a wider reach and impact.

Marks&Spencer – Go Jumpers

M&S has broken the mould this year from the standard warm and fuzzy Christmassy ad with an energetic dance ad. Dancers shoulder roll to the soundtrack of House of Pain’s Jump Around. With an undeniably good pun, the retailer also partnered with Spotify to create the ultimate throwback playlist and developed the Metro’s first ever video embedded wrap for selected London commuters. And if that wasn’t enough, a flash mob recreated the infectious dance at London stations which sparked online conversation Traditionally, the target market of M&S has been perceived as an older generation, so this modern campaign appears to be a step change from that to entice a younger audience.

Sainsbury’s – Nicholas the Sweep

Sainsbury’s uses age old tropes such as the Dickensian fairy tale and a falsely accused orphan, Nicholas, to pull at heart strings and to commemorate 150 years of service. Like M&S, the supermarket giant invested in a wrap of the Metro designed as an old newspaper that reported on the escapades outlined in its TV advert. The appearance of orange satsumas in the black and white scenes is a smart highlight of the retailer’s brand image and a nice tie in with the festive season. The company has utilised multiple channels to grab consumer attention and no doubt sales of easy peelers will be up this festive season.

A pinch of community

A common theme appearing across many adverts this year is a strong sense of community and the importance of unity during the merry season. This is a theme that is always well received at this time of year and is bound to win hearts and minds all over the country (take a look at our previous blog to see how the Christmas ads tug at our heart strings!).

John Lewis and Waitrose – Excitable Edgar

John Lewis, the godfather of Christmas adverts, joined forces with Waitrose this year to create a two and half minute cinematic experience around Edgar the Dragon. An emphasis on acceptance and inclusion is beautifully depicted in this short film, as the little girl’s flame breathing friend is excluded and eventually welcomed back by the community. The advert has been received remarkably well with #ExcitableEdgar trending for days on Twitter after its launch, achieving over 45k Twitter retweets and eight million YouTube views gained online – not to mention the Excitable Edgar merchandise that’s selling out in stores. Once again, it appears John Lewis is the front runner in best Christmas ads.

A dash of originality

IKEA – Silence the critics

A Christmas ad with no sign of snow, Santa or sleigh bells ringing? Unheard of! We can’t look at this year’s Christmas ads without mentioning IKEA. The home retailer has creatively disrupted the status quo in its very first Christmas ad. The Swedish store enlisted UK grime artist D Double E as the voice of inanimate objects that convince homeowners to redecorate for the holidays. The unexpected arrival of the ad and inclusion of D Double E stimulated conversation online which resulted in #IKEA trending nationally. The retailer is hosting in-store events to help customers be ‘home ready’ for guests over the festive period as part of the campaign.  This is a great example of how originality can help set a brand apart, get people talking and create something memorable for its audience.

Brands continue to compete for the top spot with their Christmas ads each year and while they choose their own flavour, these core ingredients still pop up. Whatever your favourite is, it’s clear a true feast of Christmas ads has been served for 2019.

Which one has been your favourite and why? Tweet us on @PRexpertsUK to tell us or leave a comment below!

Identifying the right communications practices for your business

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A communications strategy isn’t something that any business would doubt is important, but the reality of developing it is a lot easier said than done when there is a wealth of tools and practices at a company’s disposal, with their own benefits and risks attached.

This month’s issue of the Law Support Network’s Briefing Magazine features some invaluable insights from Peter Rogers, Director of Risk at Bevan Brittan, as part of the feature entitled ‘Brain Training’.

While focused on the legal sector, the piece gives a great analysis of the challenges faced by many businesses when choosing the most appropriate internal and external communications tools, due to the wealth of them on offer. Rogers also offers interesting anecdotes on the evolution of information transfer – from a telex machine that occasionally spurted into action to a more recent scenario where emojis were used to instruct a lawyer!

Overall, the piece encourages businesses to maintain a view of evolving trends, ensuring enough assessments and measures are implemented by your risk, communications, HR and IT teams to appropriately mitigate potential issues across your workforce ahead of time.

This evolution of communications channels is something we know all too well working within the PR and marketing industry. Gone are the days when our focus was placed squarely on traditional PR – we now maintain relationships with our friends in the press, while also building a reach with other, less-traditional influencers across a wide variety of outlets and channels.

This is proven to be a more realistic and time-efficient approach to communications and opens a huge opportunity for our clients, but also requires that we offer clear counsel to help manage the potential risks associated with spreading your message too broadly.

Much like Rogers’ own recommendations in the Briefing article, we work with clients to determine the most appropriate methods of sharing information, with key considerations including:

  • Which of your target audiences do you hope to reach with this information?
  • What communications channels do you plan to use and why? How do these fit with your targets?
  • Is this information time-sensitive?
  • Has the information been approved by all stakeholders, both internal and third-party?
  • How will you manage any follow-up, especially relating to enquiries or feedback? Have you considered the impact upon your internal team and put plans in place to manage this?

Rogers also makes recommendations for implementing best practice within your organisation, including carrying out a review of how staff currently disseminate information internally and their experiences with this. Here are some additional thoughts from us on implementing communications best practice:

  • Consider running internal workshops, to inform and promote communication policies and practice.
  • Implement guidelines to cover the use of tools which may increase informality or indiscretion, e.g. social media or messaging apps.
  • Ensure that your workforce understands potential communications risks and are well-versed on the importance of protecting both your business IP and corporate reputation with appropriate, responsible activity.
  • Raise awareness of any relevant legal implications – especially where something might be considered as innocent or informal by your employees.

If you would like to discuss this in more detail, or learn how brookscomm might help your business to implement similar communications practices, please do get in touch.