How companies innovated to thrive during lockdown

Who would have thought that the year 2020 would have seen such a dramatic introduction to the new decade? Empty supermarket shelves and people scrambling for the last bottle of hand sanitiser were scenes that became all too familiar.

Adjusting to the new norm, web-based technology has been the saving grace that has kept people connected. During a time when physical contact has been limited and social gatherings prohibited, social media and video conferencing apps have been the solutions to help everyone stay connected.

Businesses and brands have also had to think of creative approaches to engage with their customers and provide high-quality services in new ways when they cannot meet or engage customers, prospects, or stakeholders as normal. It’s no surprise that for both personal and professional usage, Zoom has become a lifeline.  Last December the video conferencing platform had 10m users and by March 2020 this grew exponentially to 200m.

Zoom has become an important tool for our work at brookscomm to maintain both internal and external communication. We’ve been onboarding new clients, running workshops and providing digital PR and digital marketing training via Zoom, as well as the usual progress meetings with our clients.

With lockdown measures now beginning to ease, we would like to share with you some of our favourite ways that brands have innovated to keep their business thriving during lockdown:

Brightening lockdown days

Daydreaming of a spring break or summer holiday that never happened due to the pandemic was common for most people. Holiday rentals website Airbnb offered free downloadable images of its stunning spaces and idyllic location to soothe the pain of being stuck indoors. Burger King also played its role in encouraging people to stay at home by making its delivery app into a social distancing device that tracked a user’s location using the geolocation function. With their consent, users that stayed at home were rewarded with prizes such as snacks and vouchers for free combos.

Home workout boss

It is safe to say Joe Wicks is the king of home workouts now. Eager to encourage school children to exercise, the body coach was scheduled for a nationwide school tour before the pandemic hit and decided to switch to daily workout routines on YouTube. Over 13 weeks, Joe Wicks amassed over 70 million views and smashed the world record for largest workout live-stream. With all gyms closed across the country, local gyms offered online classes as an alternative to get people active.

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Fitness trainer innovates with huddle camera

Online PT sessions that either need two instructors or include a lot of different activities may be tricky to show on an ordinary webcam, which hindered many fitness trainers looking to deliver classes via video call. We’ve seen Surrey-based personal training company Marek’s Fitness overcome this by using an innovative wide-angle digital camera from AVer Europe for his fitness classes so that he and his partner could showcase a range of movements to a full class without having to squeeze into the shot. The camera allowed the class experience to be as close to the real thing as possible for Marek’s Fitness customers, and as a result, the company’s business has thrived during lockdown.

Immersive virtual reality

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With the global pandemic disrupting the summer mosh pits, most festivals and outdoor gatherings have been cancelled or postponed till next year. It was, therefore, a welcome surprise for fans to see that Wireless festival was not only going ahead virtually as Wireless Connect but also in collaboration with virtual reality platform MelodyVR to make the experience more interactive. Wireless streamed the ticketed festival on Facebook Live YouTube and made performances available in 360​° immersive virtual reality on smartphones and VR headsets.

The return of football

After a long hiatus, sports are finally back on screen. The Premier League returned mid-June but with empty stadiums due to government safety guidelines, the industry had to find a solution to regain excitement, atmosphere, and energy. Sky Sports partnered with EA Sports FIFA to add artificial crowd noise to the match broadcasts, which is controlled by a virtual audio director who can alter the intensity of roars, claps, and chants with one tap of a finger. The show – or in this case the game – must go on, and this innovative approach has brought the beautiful game back to life.

A new way of life

Agility and flexibility have been the name of the game for businesses worldwide, who have been making quick changes in these unprecedented times for the good of society and their customers. Technology has continued to connect us, helping us to maintain the human connection which is fundamental to our daily lives. It has fostered personal and business communities behind screens.

Before the pandemic, it was common to hear about the negative effects technology may have on individuals and people were encouraged to limit their time on social media. While many of us would agree that moderation is key, it’s clear that with creative thinking, agility and flexibility, brands have been able to use technology to maintain relationships with consumers and thrive during these unprecedented times.

 

Audience Psychology: Content Messaging Development and Emotional Connection

Messaging and audience insights are an essential step in building your communications strategy.

The ability to understand your target personas, whether these be customers, partners, industry authorities or other audiences, along with their goals and challenges – and how your business value proposition answers these – is critical. The more that you can keep this approach at the heart of your content, the more likely you will be to successfully resonate and engage with your targets and, ultimately, achieve your objectives while building authentic brand confidence.

However, as sustainability and environmental considerations continue to dominate the news agenda, there is an increasing pressure for businesses to demonstrate their values and ethics beyond pure product or service positioning, acknowledging and responding to the broader concerns of their target audiences.

Big brands taking notice of consumer values

This morning’s news includes an announcement from Unilever, stating that they are committing to reduce their use of new plastic by half. The BBC article states that the firm currently produces 700,000 tonnes of new plastic every year and they have cited this commitment as a direct response to the concerns of their customers in the Millennial and Gen Z age brackets, as well as securing the company’s market relevance ‘for years to come’. This story follows similar announcements from other large FMCG corporations, including Coca-Cola and Nestle, highlighting the importance of considering your company values in alignment with your audience interests.

Audience insights and persona development are pivotal elements of our strategic communications work with clients. We work to produce content, messaging and supporting outreach across a range of marketing, PR, social and digital touchpoints, to ensure that the results achieve client objectives and remain customer-centric.

So, as you review your communications activities, consider your audiences:

  • Who are they?
  • What are their priorities?
  • How does our business offer clear benefits which answer their challenges?
  • How do we best demonstrate this?

Corporate Social Responsibility

Then consider your CSR strategy and how this may add to your value proposition. What matters to your audience personally and how does your business meet this, to benefit society beyond pure sales? Does this differentiate you from your competitors and are you able to use this to influence your industry?

Demonstrating your positive connection and commitment to these additional values will ensure that you further engage your targets and increase their ongoing trust in your brand, which can only serve to further enhance the authenticity of your business proposition. If you’d like to discuss how brookscomm can help you to adopt this approach and align it with your communications strategy, please do contact us.

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

 

Fake News & Alternative Facts

Fake News & Alternative Facts- Can PR Survive in a Post Trusth World-

The world of communications is continuously evolving. With the internet and social media, anybody and everybody can voice their opinion, establish themselves as content creators and distribute articles. Buzzfeed has been criticised for reporting unsubstantiated and unverified reports, raising doubts about the ethics of the publication.

Everyone is a content creator

With platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, anyone can write and share stories riddled with uncorroborated facts and hearsay. By the very nature of social media fake news can easily become viral, potentially having severe consequences. Fake news articles can be written and presented in such a way that it is hard to distinguish fact from fiction.

Distrust of the media

Fake news causes problems when news outlets distribute it without verifying the original source. Understandably, publications don’t want to be perceived as not distributing relevant information in a timely fashion. This can cause a distrust of the media.

Fake news has been around for as long as communication between people. The growth of newspapers and television gave power to the media and the ability to share information. However, with this came a realisation that there was a responsibility to corroborate stories if you wanted to be taken seriously as a reputable news outlet. This did not guarantee an unbiased report, but it did provide an element of discipline and time spent checking information. The change brought by the growth of social media is the instant mass sharing of an enormous amount of information, true or false.

Traditional news outlets have difficult decisions to make – do they share a story, or do they take time to corroborate it, thus potentially missing the opportunity?

News travels globally without validation. Fake news shares our screens with verified stories. So, how do you ensure what you are reading and sharing is real? How do you maintain a good reputation in a world where people can easily share untruths about your business?

How to avoid Fake News in your business:

  • Reputation is ‘hard won and easily lost’. Create your business narrative and be authentic. The more you share your real story with genuine updates, the more you will mitigate any negative effect on your reputation from fake news about you.
  • Concentrate on quality. Be timely but check your sources and share information after consideration.
  • When reading news, keep an open mind and look for different sources yourself. Think, how reputable is this source? Is this a source I’ve looked at previously? How reliable is it?
  • Remember – there has always and will always be fake news – it’s up to us to research, to be authentic and to enable factual communication.

At brookscomm we have over 20 years of PR & marketing expertise and a proven track record of success. We can help boost your business, call us on 01483 537 890 or email michael@brookscomm.com

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

The Changing Landscape of PR & the Demand for Digital

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No More Stuffing Envelopes!

PR isn’t what it used to be. Traditional PR and its methods are still relevant, print is still in high demand, along with favorable reviews and recommendations proving to be incredibly influential. However, with increasing Social Media channels, The Independent moving to digital only, Vogue focusing on their digital magazine presence, and the rise of online influencers, the need for additional digital services is ever growing.

Utlising traditional PR methods has many benefits. Content published by reputable journalists is deemed timely, relevant, newsworthy and perceived as a trusted third party endorsement, therefore making it more credible, compared to Advertising. Explore our in-depth comparison here.

PR in the beginning:

Alison Scarrott, Senior PR/Media relations manager reflects on the changes….

alison “When I joined the world of publishing and marketing back in the 1980’s, reaching the media was fairly straight forward. You either advertised, or issued a press release. A press release would be printed out on headed paper and posted out to the magazine.  This process was extremely time consuming and expensive! Many hours were spent stuffing envelopes.

Advertising was also a popular means to get a message out to the market place. Advertisements were designed by hand by a creative artist, and colour separations with a proof on high quality photographic paper were produced. This was one of the few options available to companies to ensure a message reached a target audience. It also had a lengthy production process.”

Press material is now written and distributed electronically, at a click of a button, improving efficiency and enabling material to be supplied instantly to any journalist request. It has also become a 24-hour job, with a good PR agent able to respond at any time of day or night to a journalist request.

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New Team Members, New methods

PR in today’s market is no longer viewed as one entity. What is now being required by busy professionals encompasses aspects of PR, marketing, advertising, content creation and SEO. In a survey carried out by brookscomm last summer, clients rated a more measurable, strategic and results driven service, which aligns with their objectives, as a priority.

Joining the company last year Micheal Bull, Head of Digital comments,

michael-bull“PR and marketing professionals are seeing the benefits of providing an integrated service, and how digital tactics can be used to further amplify the reach and influence of existing content. Digital also provides much greater insight into which PR and marketing activities are achieving the best results.

When working on behalf of clients, it is an essential element of the service we provide, especially taking into account how much digital content is out there. Having a clear strategy combined with key performance indicators (KPI’s) built into a project timeline delivers the best results, which keeps everyone happy! It’s also really important to keep abreast of the latest digital PR and Marketing technologies and best practice. The landscape evolves quickly, especially when it comes to SEO and Keyword strategies, but, being a qualified member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing is particularly valuable”.

The reach achieved from a good piece of press coverage in a magazine can be greatly amplified through the implementation of a well thought out digital strategy. To achieve optimal exposure a multitude of avenue streams and tactics need to be implemented, from Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Blogging…. The list goes on!

At brookscomm, we offer our clients an integrated PR and marketing service, such as writing press releases and media relations, combined with additional services such as social media management, paid search and SEO.

Find out how an integrated PR and digital marketing strategy can complement your brand, raise its profile and achieve your goals, providing return on investment. Call us on 01483 537890 or, alternatively, email michael@brookscomm.com 

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