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!

How sellers can make a success of Amazon Prime Day

Amazon Prime Day 2019

The 15th and 16th July sees the return of Amazon Prime Day, which last year proved to be the biggest shopping event in history with more than 100 million items purchased worldwide.

With Amazon Prime membership continuing to see double-digit growth, Amazon expects to sell even more products this year.  

The event is a huge opportunity for any companies currently selling on Amazon. Traffic to Amazon increases exponentially over the two days, with Amazon Prime and regular Amazon customers all searching for great deals.

As a seller, how can you make the most out of Amazon Prime Day?

Here are our top tips:

Check your listing title includes a generic product description

Prime Day customers are experienced buyers and know that not all the products they want will be in Prime Day Deals. Buyers often fill up their shopping carts with a variety of deal and non-deal items throughout the event.

With this in mind, making sure your product is as visible as possible in searches needs to be your first priority (visibility within Prime Day deals comes later). Make sure you include a generic product description of what your product is within the title. Even if people haven’t heard of your brand, they will know what type of product they are looking for!

Use the bullet points to sell

The five bullet points are arguably the most important feature of an Amazon listing. Make the most of them by telling your customers the benefits they’ll get from the key attributes of the product.

And remember: simply listing product features is not enough. You need to sell the product. This is why Amazon places the customer buy-box next to the bullet points – more often than not, it’s the bullet points that close the deal.

Participate in Amazon Prime Day Lightning Deals

The concept of Amazon Prime Day is to offer Amazon Prime customers hundreds of exclusive discount deals on popular, quality products. To be able to do so, your product(s) need to have a certain number of positive reviews and a three-star rating or higher. You must also reduce the price of the item by at least 40%.

If you meet the criteria, you can then choose the quantity of stock you want to sell and submit the deal in advance of Prime Day to Amazon. Amazon then reviews the deal and decides when to schedule it during the sales event.

Increase keyword bid strategy throughout Prime Day promotion

If you already use Amazon’s display and brand keyword advertising tools in seller central, make sure you allocate extra budget for the two-day duration to ensure your products are promoted above organic search results.

You’ll reap the benefits of a low advertising cost of sale (ACOS) as customer intention will be to buy, not browse, during Prime Day.

Use vendor powered money-off coupons to attract Prime and non-Prime customers

Regular Amazon and Prime Day customers use the wish list to keep track of products they’ll be looking to buy at discount during Prime Day. As an alternative to Prime Day deals, sellers can make their products more attractive during the sale by buy adding a money off coupon onto the listing. A glance at the wish list will display the discount on offer to the customer.

Couponed listings stand out in search results making them a great way for non-Prime day customers to take advantage of discounted products. As a seller, you are in control of offering a % discount or a flat £5, £10, £20 etc off the list price, making this a very useful sales strategy.

Utilise Enhanced Brand Content to improve the buyer experience

Registering your brand with Amazon unlocks a range of Amazon Marketing Service tools. One of these is the ability to publish your own customised content in your listing.

If you’ve ever scrolled down an Amazon listing and seen polished, detailed, aspirational imagery of a product with detailed text, you’re looking at Enhanced Brand Content. Expanded marketing reinforces the sales messages outlined in the bullet points further up on your listing. You can build and publish your own content in Amazon seller central.

Use online channels to drive sales

Amazon’s massive marketing campaign for Prime Day has a ripple effect that stimulates online shopping in general. For the first time this year, eBay is running hugely discounted deals during Amazon Prime Day.

Other online retailers are joining in too, so make sure you don’t miss out by driving demand to Amazon and eBay during the promotions using your social media channels.

Alternatively, if you sell directly to consumers, prepare and promote your own website sales event during Amazon Prime Day.

Want to find out more? Get in touch!
If you have any questions about Amazon Prime Day or how to make Amazon an effective channel for your business, please check out our Amazon Marketing services or get in touch. We’ve helped several brands launch and establish themselves on Amazon in Europe. Call us on 01483 537 890 or email hello@brookscomm.com

The Benefits of a Placement with a PR & Digital Marketing Agency

Looking for a career in PR & Digital Marketing? Our current Junior PR and Marketing Expert Aaron Jackson discusses how a placement with brookscomm has benefited him.

A foot on the career ladder

Often, when I tell people that I’m studying a degree in Media Studies with Film Studies, questions are raised about the employability that accompanies this type of qualification. The connotations with subjects associated with ‘the arts’ are that opportunities following graduation are few and far between thanks to the extremely competitive nature of the industry.

While it may be true that the bright lights of Hollywood are reserved for that select few, studying media equips you with a broad range of skills that can be applied to a number of professional disciplines.

I was introduced to brookscomm through the online recruitment portal that University of Surrey has in place to help students secure a placement in fulfilment of a ‘sandwich’ course (3 years study, 1-year work placement).

The role brookscomm offered was that of a Junior PR and Marketing Executive. A handful of the modules that I had studied covered areas of marketing directly, but PR was more or less uncharted territory from an academic perspective. However, having dabbled in music journalism for the last couple of years, I had been working with PR agencies to some degree.

What attracted me particularly to the role that brookscomm were advertising was the opportunity to dip my toe into not one, but two areas of knowledge that I had a prior interest in. The marketing element would allow me to break away from a lecture theatre and put theory into practice. The PR element would afford me invaluable insight into a world that I had to thank for affording me so many fantastic opportunities as a music journalist.

Moreover, I recognised the role as a rare chance to take another step on the career ladder. As I mentioned, I was already recognising how competitive the media industry is – particularly for students fresh out of university with very little experience.

Research “show(s) that almost two thirds (69%) of hiring employers believe experience is the most important asset when recruiting with 72% of employers also admitting that too much emphasis is placed on qualifications and not enough on experience”.

Now, with nearly a year of experience as an industry professional at brookscomm, I feel well equipped to finish my degree and have a go at that ‘real life’ thing that my parents kept going on about…

The importance of integrated approach

One of the most crucial lessons from this placement that I will take away with me is how important it is for companies to manage their communications with an integrated approach.

In an industry that moves as fast as this one, it’s not enough to focus attention on PR or marketing. The average consumer won’t be thinking about a brand in terms of PR, marketing or social media – they will recognise a brand and their message as one whole entity.

The different areas that contribute to a company’s communication strategy will naturally overlap and cross over into one another to produce the message received by the customer. In light of this, communication professionals should be observing a brand’s messaging strategy through the same lens as a consumer would.

In practice, this involves being flexible and adopting a skillset that spans across the likes of social media, PR, traditional marketing and digital marketing. It has been a massive learning curve to become familiar with all of these variables and, as is often the case, it has taken a bit of time to comfortably work with this mindset.

However, the induction process at brookscomm ensured that, from the start of my placement, I was given a wealth of knowledge and resources with which I could get to grips with this industry.

Within the space of a week, I was contributing to crucial work in the office and was already beginning to feel like an important member of the team. At the point of writing this, I can confidently say that brookscomm has helped me reach a professional standard that has allowed me to work in a way that is integral to the team’s day to day success.

Now is your time

At brookscomm, I have learned things that books could have never taught me. If you’re keen to learn what it takes to work in a professional environment and further progress yourself towards being a top candidate for your dream job in the media industry, then look no further than a work placement.

Our MD Mandy Brooks says: “The placements we offer bring young energy into the office, which is a great way to share experience, generate new ideas and keep the business fresh and exciting.  With the original founders, myself and Chaz, still an integral part of the company, we have established a wide and diverse, knowledgeable, productive results-based team. Each team member is hugely valued and in turn adds particular value to brookscomm.”

At brookscomm we have over 20 years of PR & marketing expertise and a proven track record of providing an integrated communications 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

Lush quits social media: smart or a stunt?

On Monday, the popular British cosmetics brand Lush announced on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram that they would be “switching up social”. The brand will be shutting down its LushUK accounts as well as Lush Kitchen, Lush Times, Lush Life, Soapbox and Gorilla. This dramatic shift comes from the brand being “tired of fighting with algorithms” and that it does “not want to pay to appear in your newsfeed.”

Lush concluded its announcement by stating “This isn’t the end, it’s just the start of something new. #LushCommunity – see you there.”

It remains to be seen what impact this will have on the brand’s digital presence. Could this announcement simply be a headline grabbing tactic, or does it speak into the future power of influencer and community marketing over corporate messaging?

Controversial marketing

Lush hasn’t been a stranger to causing a stir with publicity tactics that push boundaries and provoke conflicting reactions in the past.

The particularly divisive “Live Demonstration” from 2012, where a performance artiste was subjected to animal laboratory tests in the shop window of Lush’s Regent Street branch, was a provocative move. Most would agree that the overall message of the campaign was positive, however, this graphic approach to the issue certainly ruffled a few feathers and had a memorable impact. Much like this move away from social media, it certainly goes against the grain.

Maintaining online influence

The term “#LushCommunity” appears to hint towards a new way for Lush customers to engage with one another and the brand itself. Through which platform is unclear, but maybe that’s the point – that the community isn’t confined by a platform, or indeed by role.

Lush has collaborated a lot with online influencers in the past and in distancing itself from social media in one sense, it’s likely the brand will put more time, money and effort into working with lifestyle influencers and online ambassadors to keep the brand alive online.

The brand has already been successful in this arena, largely via reciprocated content. There are large numbers of videos on YouTube of popular beauty, fashion and even family vloggers testing Lush products. Some of the most successful videos are Lush factory tours which have come about as a result of Lush inviting influencers to come down to its factory for a tour. The success of these videos may be a sign of content yet to come for the brand.

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Redefining community

The future of Lush’s communications strategy is unclear, other than the fact that it appears the brand is moving its engagement with consumers into a ‘community’, which will likely include vloggers and influential online ambassadors.

What is clear, however, is that Lush is on the front foot when it comes to making bold decisions in its marketing and communications strategy. This decision has already given them a lot of exposure, but it’s hard to tell whether this short-term win will translate into a long-term gamechanger. The bottom line is that Lush’s attempt to reshape the structure of online communications is relatively uncharted territory and worth keeping a close eye on.

#LushCommunity – see you…where?

Aaron Jackson – PR & Marketing Executive

At brookscomm we have over 20 years of PR & marketing expertise and a proven track record of providing an integrated communications 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