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The Man Who Ignored Technology & Saved The World

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Image credit: rt.com

Technology systems are an integral part of modern business life, providing us with constant, useful data, however data needs proper analysis and interpretation to be reliable and useable. The best results are achieved with a combination of the effective analysis of good data, human intervention and intuition to instil a reality check in order to arrive at accurate conclusions.

In 1983 the Cold War was at its peak and tensions were running high between the Soviet Union and the USA. Only a few weeks previously the Soviets had shot down a Korean passenger jet, killing all 269 aboard, including many Americans. The Russians were wary of US President Reagan’s “Star Wars” system and feared a pre-emptive American strike.

On 29th September Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov of the Soviet army reported for his shift at the Soviet nuclear early warning centre. This was to be an extraordinary night.  For a few minutes Stanislav Petrov was to hold the fate of the world in his hands and his calm and intuitive interpretation of data was to avert a nuclear catastrophe.

System Reports Missile Attack on Russia

Just after midnight, the early warning system reported the Americans had launched a missile attack on Russia. All the systems bar one pointed to an American attack. Petrov had an instinct that it was a false detection, partly as he had not received visual confirmation.

He decided to wait before confirmation, and he reported a false alarm to his superiors instead of alerting command headquarters to an attack, which would doubtless have set in motion a retaliatory nuclear strike. Petrov retained his composure as alarms blared and lights flashed with increasing warnings of an attack, trusting his instinct that the warnings were false.

Fatal Warning Down to Technical Glitch

This was a dereliction of duty and breach of regulations by Petrov, the logical and safe thing for him to have done was to have passed on the responsibility and reported the attack up the chain. He later said that he feared that “as I was the first source of this information the danger was that as soon as I made a decision that this rocket is real, the rest of the chain of command could have been hypnotised by my conclusions. It’s like the cockerel crowing, the first cockerel in the village crows and the others all follow.”

After an agonising wait of ten minutes, relief came as the over-the-horizon radar systems confirmed that the alarm was false. Bizarrely, the false detection had been created by a rare alignment of sunlight that had reflected via the Earth into the satellite lenses.

Intuition Saves The Day, Not Technology

Computers can misinterpret information and report in error. That’s why all systems need a Petrov to analyse and say “hang on a minute”. It’s the kind of fine nuance of thought uniquely available to the human brain. Petrov had the intuition built up through knowledge and experience to question the information he was receiving. If a computer had been responsible for pressing the button there would have been dire consequences.

Petrov’s dilemma applies to the search for effective opinion leaders in the technology, pharmaceutical and other industries. A web search/algorithm can trawl for and arrange publicly available data, but can it spot through informed intuition whether alarms and flashing lights are real or fake? For that you need the skill of a team which not only understands how to programme the computer, but also how to interpret the social nuances of the world and its interconnecting relationships.

And as for the man who arguably saved the world? Petrov’s superiors treated him with the suspicion accorded a soldier who disobeys orders, he was reprimanded and took early retirement from the army soon after that fateful September night.

In today’s data-driven world it is important to question and discuss the information provided, with creativity, data and intuition proving the winning mix.

Petrov has since passed away, but his legacy lives on.

At brookscomm we have over 20 years of PR & marketing expertise and a proven track record of providing an integrated, measurable PR and Digital marketing strategy. We can help you boost your business. Email hello@brookscomm.com or call us on 01483 537 890. 

Twitter @PRexpertsUK  Linkedin: brookscomm  Facebook:brookscomm Website: www.brookscomm.com

 

 

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Intern Life At brookscomm!

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Ever wondered what life is like at brookscomm? Our latest PR and Digital Marketing intern Calum Ridgewell reveals all…

My time at brookscomm

As I’m a politics undergraduate, I am frequently asked “So, do you want to be an MP then?”. Whilst I absolutely love studying politics, a career in that field is not my calling!

However, it has influenced my preferred career path. Politics weaves its way into many disciplines, the world of Marketing and PR being one of them. After learning how imperative aspects such as branding, marketing and public relations are to political parties, I became intrigued in the workings, and found myself researching Marketing and PR career options.

Having established a keen interest in Marketing and PR, I decided the next step was to secure some real-life exposure, and the best way to do this was through a summer internship. My research led me to brookscomm, an integrated PR and digital marketing agency. After exploring what brookscomm has to offer and their work in action I quickly realised that this company was a leader in Surrey in the field of Marketing and PR, and this was where I wanted to kick-start my career.

After a great phone call with the Head of Operations Jo McKenzie, I was invited in to the brookscomm offices, to discuss my aims and what I could gain from the role. I was given a fantastic overview of the busy workings of brookscomm by Head of Marketing Michael Bull and Senior Marketing and PR Account Executive Nirvana Wright, and I walked away full of excitement to start my summer internship!

First Day at brookscomm

From the first day, I was made to feel incredibly welcome by all the team, and the friendly, productive atmosphere of the brookscomm office was a pleasure to work in. Even after the first few hours of being at brookscomm I felt like I had learned a lot, which was a great sign!

I thoroughly enjoyed all daily activities, finding each task rewarding and insightful. Nirvana taught me a great deal about social media management and creative content creation, and after being given some top tips I found myself creating engaging blogs, tweets and Facebook posts for clients! Additionally, Nirvana showed me the ropes on sourcing and pitching to journalists using a media database.

Putting into practise PR, Digital Marketing & Social Media

Senior PR Account Manager Alison Scarrott talked me through composing and sending effective press releases to journalists, which was very interesting and an area of PR I was keen on learning more about and Ali certainly taught me a lot!

Michael, a marketing expert, gave me a fantastic insight into digital marketing, learning about SEO, Facebook targeting ads and how to use e-mail marketing tools. Michael was more than happy to answer my (many) questions, and the exposure I gained has given me a solid grounding in digital marketing.

My other daily activities included searching for press coverage of clients, sourcing new business leads and opportunities through LinkedIn, as well as working around the areas of Marketing and PR Alison, Nirvana and Michael had taught me.

I enjoyed all the tasks I was set by the team and was made to feel I was genuinely contributing towards the business, which is very rewarding!

brookscomm Culture and Ethos

brookscomm is a fantastic place to gain valuable experience in Marketing and PR, and I am very grateful to the team for giving me the chance to broaden my skillset, learn valuable aspects of the Marketing and PR discipline and develop a stronger work ethic. The organisation of brookscomm was flawless, and the effort and care they dedicate to their clients was truly inspiring.

Following the internship, I feel I am ready for the Marketing and PR industry after graduation, brookscomm has given me a firm foundation and deeper understanding of the discipline. One day in the future when I am a successful Marketing and PR Director (can’t fault my ambition!), I will look back at my time at brookscomm as a key stepping stone.

We absolutely loved having Calum as our intern!

At brookscomm we have over 20 years of PR & marketing expertise and a proven track record of providing an integrated, measurable PR and Digital marketing strategy. We can help you boost your business. Email hello@brookscomm.com or call us on 01483 537 890. 

Twitter @PRexpertsUK  Linkedin: brookscomm  Facebook:brookscomm Website: www.brookscomm.com

 

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GDPR: The Implications for PR & marketing professionals

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GDPR & the implications for PR & marketing professionals

Are you ready? Are you scared or fully prepared? The GDPR deadline may seem like a long way off, officially coming into effect from May 2018 for Europe. However, there is no time like the present to ensure you are fully versed with the legalities, implications and best practise to avoid brand damaging fines for breaching GDPR rules.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will replace the current Data Protection Act 1998, setting an even higher standard of consent protocols and data regulation. It’s sole purpose is to ensure that data and personal information is protected and not misused or passed on to other organisations without consent. Although such data is currently  freely available and accessible (on contact sections of websites for instance), these new measures prioritise individual’s privacy, the methods in which information is gathered, used stored and destroyed, with the ‘right to be forgotten‘ principle.

New opportunities and challenges arise for SMEs

GDPR isn’t just about data protection. Ensuring that customer data is a priority will create more opportunities for PR and marketing professionals to strengthen the relationships with customers, by engaging them with value-driven, insightful content which informs, educates and amuses. Being honest and transparent in digital communications will be essential going forwards.

The strategy behind generating prospecting lists for sales and marketing efforts will need to change as a result of GDPR. It will be harder and more expensive to promote your business to new, prospective customers if you are a start-up or SME, especially if you have a limited advertising budget. It will put larger corporations, who can afford to increase their ad spend and use different advertising tactics at an advantage. Yet, expensive ad campaigns targeting the masses could potentially be wasteful if the adverts are not relevant to customers wants and needs. Also, consumers may inadvertently pay more because of GDPR, as company’s look to increase prices to cover the cost of greater ad spend.

The Drum reports that the fine for breaching GDPR alone would force 17% of UK companies out of business. Therefore, taking a proactive approach and ensuring your organisation is GDPR compliant will mitigate the risk of being fined.

Personalisation & data

A brand needs data-rich insight to fulfill a personalised ad experience to a consumer or to offer content and services that provide value and are useful. Without this data, a company’s lack of customer insight and tailoring of the wrong types of content could frustrate customers and weaken the connection. Keeping customers in the conversation always and providing valuable, personalised insights & updates will overcome this issue, encouraging  customers to become brand advocates.

While it is imperative to be planning towards next May’s GDPR deadline, it’s worth knowing that the regulations are yet to be finalised. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) are currently seeking clarification on a few aspects and are requesting amendments.

There is a plethora of information available, we advise the best place to seek specific information and to avoid confusion is to visit the official Data Commissioners Office website.

 

 

At brookscomm we have over 20 years of PR & marketing expertise and a proven track record of providing an integrated, measurable PR and Digital marketing strategy. We can help you boost your business. Email michael@brookscomm.com or call us on 01483 537 890. 

Follow us: Twitter @PRexpertsUK  Linkedin: brookscomm  Facebook:brookscomm Website: www.brookscomm.com

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Ok Google, is the future really Voice Search?

Ok Google, is the future really Voice search-

Technology is always evolving and the latest innovation, ‘Voice Search’ is gathering momentum, with the big players being Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, Ok Google and Apple’s Siri at the forefront. Ever asked Siri or Alexa what the weather is like? That’s voice search. Instead of typing and searching for a keyword or phrase, you can simply ask out loud where the nearest bar or coffee shop is. Utilising natural language processing, a computer science concerned with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, these artificial assistants can listen and respond to search queries almost like a real human.

Voice Search is one of the biggest SEO trends

Used by many consumers already, Voice Search is set to be one of the biggest SEO trends for 2017 and thus comes with many opportunities, as well as challenges to overcome. Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced during his Google I/O keynote that 1/5 searches made with Google Android App is a Voice Search.

How will this affect PR and digital marketing professionals?

Not only will clients want to be discoverable on a standardised search but also in a Voice Search. It will no longer be viable to just focus on short tail keywords, but with the nature of the conversational queries asked using a Voice Search, it will become imperative to monitor and maximise long tail keywords and phrases too. Furthermore, with the bulk of Voice Search queries based on proximity of a company or product, it’s essential to ensure your business location base is optimised.

However, despite how advanced artificial assistants are, they are still a long way off being perfect. The main issue is the mismatch between what is being asked and what the AI captures, often ‘hearing’ incorrectly, producing misspelt words and thus irrelevant search results.

Voice Search is here to stay

That said, Voice Search is only going to improve, so here are our main pointers for being agile and embracing AI into your digital marketing and PR strategy:

  • Longer, conversational style queries including natural language and question phrases are used more.
  • Location optimised results are paramount.
  • Voice Search queries amount to higher intent, as buyers are nearer the ‘decision, purchase’ stage.

Voice Search isn’t the future. It’s happening right now, isn’t that right Siri?

At brookscomm we have over 20 years of PR & marketing expertise and a proven track record of providing an integrated, measurable PR and Digital marketing strategy. We can help you boost your business. Email michael@brookscomm.com or call us on 01483 537 890. 

Follow us: Twitter @PRexpertsUK   Linkedin: brookscomm  Facebook:brookscomm Website: www.brookscomm.com

 

 

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How PR can be measured

PR misconception

Unlike Marketing or Advertising, which have clear, measurable ‘tick-box’ outputs and results, PR is considered by many as ‘fluffy’. A common misconception is that it’s difficult to quantify and thus measure.

Often, people measure the financial equivalent cost of Advertising vs the earned media achieved. However, with the convergence of PR, Marketing and Advertising, there are a multitude of ways to measure the impact of PR.

It’s important to establish your key performance indicators, what tactics and tools you want to implement and the goals you want to achieve. Do you want to be considered as a thought leader or have your brand mentioned in the top ten UK technology oriented magazines and websites?

Demonstrating the success of positive earned media and return on investment can be achieved when you quantify the following:

Press clippings:

Track the number of times your press content is used in your target media to gauge success. However, it shouldn’t just be a numbers game. Try and focus your efforts on ensuring the targeted media outlets are read by your target audience.

Media Impressions:

It is importance to measure reach and brand exposure. A good media database can easily and effectively measure readership and website traffic unique views per month (UVM), which are independently verified. However, you should not take these statistics purely on face value.

Take the time to delve deeper into the engagement rates of online influencers. With the increasing use of bloggers and services such as Instagress, anyone, for a small fee, can easily and quickly ‘buy’ followers. Using these tactics to cheat algorithms and artificially increase followers is very misleading, undermining the influence of others who have built their following organically. Does the influencer have an engaged audience? Are followers actively discussing, sharing and buying the products or services the influencers are promoting?

Content:

Read all the press coverage achieved, as it will provide a clear overview of the positive, negative or neutral sentiment of the brand or product. Obviously, the more positive the coverage is, the more successful the PR efforts. If there are spelling mistakes or inaccuracies, don’t be afraid to contact a journalist or influencer to have the content rectified, to ensure it’s not ambiguous.

Click-Throughs:

Calculate the number of click-throughs gained from social media and blog posts. Monitor the website traffic to landing pages and general acquisition through Google Analytics, and delve into spikes in sales and whether they correlate to coverage or scheduled competitions. This will provide great insights and show return on investment. If you have high conversion rates and you know the coverage has increased sales, then the PR efforts have been worthwhile.

Social Media:

There are many social listening tools available which offer in-depth analysis on conversations involving your brand or product. Regardless of your budget, you should at the very least be monitoring brand and product mentions, general conversations, your brand advocates and influencers.

The value in PR is that you have a third party, trusted endorsement, which holds much more weight than a salesy, expensive advert. The reach achieved using PR can go above and beyond traditional marketing channels. However, an integrated combination of all three aspects of PR, Digital Marketing and Advertising will achieve optimum results.

At brookscomm we have over 20 years of PR & marketing expertise and a proven track record of providing an integrated, measurable PR and Digital marketing strategy. We can help you boost your business. Email michael@brookscomm.com or call us on 01483 537 890. 

Follow us: Twitter @PRexpertsUK   Linkedin: brookscomm  Facebook: brookscomm Website: www.brookscomm.com