The Think Tank wins global brief from Asendia

AsendiaAsendia, the La Poste and Swiss Post joint venture which launched in 2012, has awarded The Think Tank the brief to plan and execute a series of campaigns for 2014, which include creative, production, digital outreach, and public and media relations.

Based around Asendia’s brand theme ‘The world is your address’, we will roll out campaigns targeting customers and potential customers of the company’s cross-border delivery solutions. The campaigns will be delivered in a number of countries around the world and will feature multiple language elements.

For 2014, work will kick off with a campaign directed at how Asendia can enable the growing opportunities for eCommerce business across borders. This will be followed by a focus on the company’s new global offering, a comprehensive range of international mailing and shipping solutions for business, direct marketing, internet retailing and publishing.

Campaign elements will comprise owned, earned and paid for media, with a focus on an integrated approach. Elements of the campaigns will also focus on employee communications.

The brief was won in a competitive three-way pitch at the end of 2013, with the first campaign due to go live in April 2014. A pilot project for internal communications was completed in December.

Asendia Head of Communication, Domenico Pereira said: “We selected The Think Tank because they combined a creative approach with a holistic view of our brief; we felt that they understood our challenges and would work effectively with the in-house team we have in place in Berne and Paris.”

The account will be led by our Directors Liam Bateman, Samantha Dawe and Shaun Madle.

B2B social media in 2014

Social MediaB2B Marketing has unveiled a new study and infographic detailing the social media landscape in 2014.

The infographic reveals the social media behaviour of B2B companies and which best social networks are best for communicating the organisations’ messages.

LinkedIn and Twitter are the most popular platforms for B2B organisations, citing them as the best channels to boost brand awareness.

Other statistics, such as key challenges for B2B companies and what type of content performs the best, are also included in the infographic.

Take a look at the infographic here or download a summary of the report.

Top tips for writing a good call to action

A good call to action can make or break any form of marketing communication.

Whether you want to drive enquiries or encourage downloads of your latest Whitepaper, a good call to action can make all the difference in helping you propel customers or readers to where you want them to go online.

Here are a few top tips for writing a call to action that makes its mark:

1. Use clear and concise language – this will give readers a fast and obvious understanding of what your call to action is for.

2. Consider placement and position. A call to action on a website will often be located towards the top of the page – this is because it will have a high level of exposure here. However, where you place your call to action can still depend on the type of webpage you are building, so it’s important to look around at other websites targeting the same audience to see what works well.

3. Making your call to action feel more personal can significantly affect its success. It is critical to understand the audience you want to engage with: you can do this by first researching terms that resonate and the best tone to use. 

To find out more about writing a great call to action, take a look at B2B Marketing‘s article about common mistakes to avoid here.

Top tips for writing a good call to action

A good call to action can make or break any form of marketing communication. A good call to action will be able to propel customers or readers to just the conclusion you want, be that driving up leads or just to simply download your latest Whitepaper. Here are a few top tips for writing great call to actions:

The first tip would be the usage of very clear and concise language – this will be readers a fast and obvious understanding of what they are clicking onto.

Another essential tip to consider is the placement of your call to action. This will depend upon factors like the goals of your page and the complexity of its information. For example, lead generation or ecommerce are generally displayed at the top of a page, but the important thing is to research and ensure you have a thorough understanding of the goals you want to achieve from your call to action.

The right level of personalisation can significantly affect the success of your call to action. The critical thing is to understand your audience and appreciate the level of personalisation that resonates with them.

To find out more about writing great call to actions take a look at B2B Marketing‘s look at common mistakes made in call to actions here.

How B2B marketers can make the most of Twitter

Advertising Age has published some handy pointers for B2B marketers, helping them to make the most of a brand new Twitter service.

Twitter now allows marketers and advertisers to target individual users based on their email addresses, opening up a new realm of interacting with potential customers.

Twitter has written a blog on the new service, explaining how to create tailored audiences from existing customer relationship management systems.

Advertising Age offers several pieces of advice for using the tailored audience function, including ‘ride event hashtags’ and ‘use in-stream promoted accounts’. Telling readers to ‘offer something worthwhile’, the article also explains the importance of understanding the kind of content a potential audience is interested in.

Read Advertising Age’s advice here and tell us what you think of its top tips.

B2B Marketing Awards 2013 a great success

B2B Marketing AwardsThursday night was yet another amazing B2B Marketing Awards night that seems t have been enjoyed by all.

This year’s theme was based around classic rock and pop with graphics, music and the actual event all using classic and recognisable styles to present the award nominees.

The Think Tank team ran the event on behalf of Silver Bullet Publishing (publishers of B2B Marketing Magazine) for the 6th year with compare Josh Widdicombe, and created the entire theme includng web site, posters, invites, awards graphics and introductory video.

Many thanks to the whole team who put in a great effort and a lot of time to make this a very successful event.

Find out more and see all the winners here.

(Picture: Some of the The Think Tank Team)

Content marketing on the rise!

New statistics, published by Brightcove, have shown that a massive 93% of B2B marketers in the US are now using content marketing.

These statistics won’t come as a huge surprise to experienced B2B marketers who will have seen a new plethora of social channels open in the last decade that make social engagement easier than ever.

These statistics demonstrate that B2B marketers are using content to proliferate social engagement and grow larger followings, central to this marketing philosophy is relevant and interesting content that gets people talking!

The research also shows that marketers who utilise content do so predominantly for three main aims; firstly to increase brand awareness, secondly to generate leads, and lastly to maximise customer acquisition.

So it would seem that content is becoming an ever more critical component of contemporary B2B marketing strategy.

You can see more of this research on the B2B Marketing website here.

No such thing as bad publicity?

Bad Press
This post was written by The Think Tank’s PR Director Samantha Dawe as part of our on-going sponsorship of B2B Marketing’s PR knowledge bank.

I was asked this question again recently, is there any such thing as bad publicity?

We once worked with a client who was very outspoken; this client knew what he wanted to achieve and went out to make it happen, which was appealing. But opening up about some surprising behaviour, in a newspaper interview, backfired. Some who knew him chuckled when they read it, but most people including some suppliers and employees thought differently, it felt unprofessional.

Being quoted out of context is one thing, which can also be made immediately clear with a response, but a gaffe tends to stay with you, particularly with the long-tail effect in social media channels.

It’s a tightrope to be walked carefully. Think about what the presenters of the BBC TV programme ‘Top Gear’ get away with, how much is this part of the irreverent, ‘laddish’ tone of the programme itself? When does what they say become unacceptable?

A hard part of managing reputation is making the judgement of what is acceptable or not.

Many organisations are wise to have a code of conduct and draw the lines between public and private spheres. But no matter how much you prepare, something will go wrong at some point.

It is essential when someone has strayed off message that the brand or organisation portrays a clear, consistent message. Make sure all your spokespeople are kept fully informed and know what position you are taking.

Feeling emotional

Corcodyl advertThis post was written by The Think Tank’s PR Director Samantha Dawe as part of our on-going sponsorship of B2B Marketing’s PR knowledge bank.

Watching TV the other night I saw that ad for mouthwash Corsodyl again. If you’ve not seen it a model looking in the mirror starts bleeding from her eye. She then spits a mouthful of bloody toothpaste into the sink and we are told that this can be an early sign of gum disease. Mouthwash can help alleviate this.

It is an unpleasant subject and on first watch the ad can seem quite shocking. It’s effective I think, but reminded me of a conversation I had had about the use by charities of overly depressing stats and photos of people and animals suffering.

More successful comms campaigns for charities tend to be ‘emotionally positive’ – about the differences your donation can make to ameliorating a situation. If you make people feel bad, you get their attention, but they may not contribute as they feel it’s likley that a little amount won’t make a difference.

In B2B communications we often focus on features and benefits, we tend much more towards the emotionally postitive route – what difference a product or service can make to how a business runs efficiently or a project is completed effectively.

But what if you are dealing with a Health & Safety in the workplace issue perhaps – you need to grab people’s attention? I’ve seen some gruesome pictures for these too, but one of the best industry campaigns I have seen on this theme uses a powerful strapline along the lines of “because even one accident is too many”. Even one accident matters, you can make a difference therefore… simple, but effective? Has anyone else come across something similar?

Social Media in Construction

Social Media in constructionsocial media in constructionSocial Media has touched all our lives, both personal and professional.

Historically segments of the construction sector have been early adopters of online technology and the same is the case with Social Media.

Architects and designers were one of the earliest proponents of the internet and have continued to be, adopting social channels to talk about and display their work. However other market segments have been slower to adopt Social Media as a communication channel and for some of these it is not surprising. After all, it is only recently that contractors and builders have had reasonable access to the internet on-site through smart phones.

The primary channels being used by the construction sector in a professional capacity are LinkedIn and Twitter. Other channels are being used by specific segments, such as Pinterest by designers, however LinkedIn and Twitter are providing the sector with tools for engagement and communication that are accessible and generally meet the needs of the user.

LinkedIn in being used primarily by office and sales based professionals within the sector whereas Twitter is being used more widely by individuals and business across the industry.

So, if you’re thinking of joining the conversation or have just started to engage on social media then here are a few hints and tips to help get it right:

1. Inform, don’t sell
Social channels are designed to create dialogue between individuals and thus those using them do not appreciate being sold to. When starting a conversation be informative and educational rather than specifically selling a product or service. If your audience can gain knowledge from the content you provide and find it interesting then they will be more likely to engage with you and build a relationship.

2. Strike the right balance
Be careful not to fall into the trap of communicating your every waking moment across social channels. If you are using Social Media for business then be business-like and professional, whilst also being informal. Striking the right balance between being engaging and professional is key to developing an online audience.

3. Keep it regular
Social Media requires commitment. If you want it to be a success you need to put the time in. Making sure that you communicate regularly and monitor those that engage with you is essential to building an online audience and community. If you don’t have the time to keep it going then stay well clear.

4. Part of a community
The strength of Social Media is that it allows you to communicate with people that you may otherwise never meet. It provides you with a voice in the sector and engaging in LinkedIn groups will allow you to start conversations with other industry professionals, put your viewpoint forward and get their feedback. It is a great tool for learning and networking.

Social Media can be a great business asset but you must be committed to it and set the right tone to make it work for you. If you are serious about using it to improve your business or career in the construction sector then get it right from the outset.

Moving into Russia

Russian MagazineThis post was written by The Think Tank’s PR Director Samantha Dawe as part of our on-going sponsorship of B2B Marketing’s PR knowledge bank.

Having supported a client’s PR campaign in Russia from London for a while, we are now extending the support to work alongside a partner agency in the country. We will manage the agency on behalf of the client to ensure consistency through the PR programme.

It’s been interesting to see how the various agencies we have been approaching have responded. With a Russian speaker on our team we can converse easily, but assessing the empathy the agency has with what we need to achieve is still down to how the people at the agency actually respond.

One team has been keen and efficient, another contact rather evasive as to how they actually might work with us, and another supremely confident in their ability but only want to work on a project basis.

PR is very much a people business, and I anticipate several more conversations are needed to come up with a truly workable solution. Will keep you posted.

Is social media working?

Social MediaThis post was written by The Think Tank’s PR Director Samantha Dawe as part of our ongoing sponsorship of B2B Marketing’s PR Knowledge Bank.

The PR industry magazine PR Week cites Bruce Daisley, UK sales director of Twitter, as commenting at the recent Adobe summit that too many brands are using social media campaigns because they are cool rather than as a marketing platform with clear objectives. Hear, hear Bruce.

It reports that Daisley said too many campaigns have been rushed through in a bid to increase fans and followers.

In the same issue (3rd May 2013), PR Week reports the Twitter has signed its biggest advertising deal to date with Starcom MediaVest, who’s clients include P&G, Microsoft and Coca-Cola. As well as access to data and new products, they will potentially receive “preferred advertising slots”.

If you listened to WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell being interviewed a few weeks ago on ‘social media’ he was definitely in the “Twitter is more for PR” camp…

What are your views?

How to write a press release that gets attention

How to write a press release This ‘How To Guide’ has been written by The Think Tank’s PR Director Samatha Dawe as part of our on-going sponsorship of B2B Marketing’s PR Knowledge Bank.

There have been many tips offered for writing press releases. The key factor is to write a release that gets the main points of your news across clearly and gains the reader’s interest (whether a journalist, blogger or investor etc). This is simple but sometimes hard to do when you may be loaded with information that you think could be relevant.

It’s wise to write down the core news elements when you start to prepare your draft. There is nothing to stop you following this release up with a subsequent release, if you have more news or a progress report to give.And a word of warning: don’t make claims that you can’t back up. You may think this makes the release more attention-grabbing but if you can’t back up a claim with facts and figures, don’t put it in. A good journalist will check the facts. Your competitors may read it and counter your claims too.One of the best pieces of advice for preparing a release I was given was by a journalist, who referred to Kipling’s Six Honest Men. At the time I had to look that up, so to save you doing so here is the appropriate reference:
“I keep six honest serving men (they taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When,and How and Where and Who.”

First paragraph
The Kipling reference relates to the fact that you need to contain all of the elements of the story within the first paragraph of your release. That’s because of time pressures. The rest of the release might not get read, but if you have the elements of the story in the opening paragraph this is what will hook the reader. You can work through the six honest men as a check. Don’t forget to put the date when you are issuing the news, and if the story is time sensitive, and the time too, in this first paragraph or just above it.

Who are you writing the release for? Make your releases relevant; you may need to prepare two versions of the same news release for example if you are sending one out to the trade press and one out to the local press. What the journalists will engage with is different in terms of the content and what their publications will be looking for in terms of news, even though the core story itself will remain the same.

Language and clarity
Use language that is straightforward and business-like. Don’t waffle. You can leave further explanations and references to technical information for the ‘Notes to editors’ (see below). As a rule of thumb, abbreviations should be spelled out in full the first time you use them, even if you think that everyone knows what the letters stand for eg: Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). After writing out it out in full the first time, you can use the abbreviation thereafter. Use standard measures consistently – don’t mix them in different references: the box measured 50cms high and one inch deep. If this is what you have been given, go and find the correct measurements in imperial and metric of all dimensions.

Subsequent paragraphs expand the story and a quote is usually included (not necessary if you are targeting the traditional broadcast media though). Adding in a quote from a company spokesperson or an agreed third party adds interest and can help bring a story to life. You can also use more conversational language in the quote otherwise it can feel wooden. If one of your staff has won an award for example, have a quote from them too. Killer quotes are passionate: “We have won this award through the efforts made by all of our staff here at Widgets Ltd over the past 12 months. We couldn’t have made this sort of progress without this sustained effort”. Rather than predictable: “We are very pleased that Widgets Ltd has received this award.”

Notes to editors
This is a really useful convention to be aware of. Editor’s notes appear at the end of the release and should be written under a separate heading ‘Notes to editors’. This is the place where you can put in more detailed background information, appropriate web addresses; expand on sources of data etc. It shows you can back up what you are talking about with more context. Depending on how the journalist writes their story this information may or may not be included. Put in a short background paragraph on your organisation here too and the website address.

Final check
Take time to proof read your release before you send it out. It is often worth getting a colleague to give it a proof too as they will often see things that you haven’t because you wrote the copy. Don’t rely on spell checks; we’ve all had that occasion when the spell checker has changed the original, misspelling word into something quite different.

Being an award winner

B2B Awards 2012This post was written by The Think Tank’s PR Director Samantha Dawe, as part of our on-going sponsorship of the B2B Marketing Knowledge Bank.

Just been having a chat with a good contact on a key industry magazine for the architect and design sector, and the subject of that magazine’s annual awards came up…

Now I know how passionate B2B Marketing magazine is about its very own annual awards…and rightly so, but it made me reflect on why we enter and why we encourage clients to enter industry awards.

We have worked with one of our clients for almost a decade. Certainly for the past four years have prepared entries with them for a European-wide series of awards that are seen as particularly prestigious. This year they won one. They are over the moon, and so are we. The press release about this Award is going to be issued globally by the various communications teams.

Entering, being shortlisted and hopefully winning awards can help achieve press coverage certainly.

But winning an industry award can also boost staff morale, attract new business, impress potential investors, gain prestige and recognition from peers and respect from customers, and raise awareness of a new product or service.

It’s worth considering an entry for a local business award for these reasons too – usually in the UK organized on a county by county basis. A local platform for celebrating the very best business successes, they will not only cover how well your business is doing, but aspects like customer service, environmental awareness and staff training and development.

For staff to see their organization recognized within their immediate community and can be really motivating.

It’s also a great way to stand back a bit and assess what you’ve been focusing on and to celebrate any innovations and efforts that are making a real difference to how you do business, or in the services and products you provide.

Of course much depends on the time and resource you have to devote to preparing entries. So set a realistic, tangible goal, for example, entering at least two different Award schemes this year. And if you don’t win the first time, don’t give up… next time you might be that winner.

How To Manage your brand online

Manage your brand onlineBrand reputation is the collective experience of those who work for or deal with an organisation or company; it’s not just about customer service. By Samantha Dawe, Director at The Think Tank

The value of your company and products’ reputation should not be underestimated. Reputation should be treated as an asset. Reputation is everyone’s responsibility. A good reputation buys you the benefit of the doubt when things go wrong.

The toughest lesson is to learn that sometimes it’s not what has happened that is the issue – it’s what people think has happened. Perception is everything.

What is an issue that can affect an organisation’s reputation?
“A condition or event, internal or external to the organisation, that if it continues will have a significant effect on the functioning or performance of the organisation or on its future interests”.

Potential issues

  • Staff dispute
  • Shortage of stock
  • Supplier goes out of business
  • Negative comments published online
  • Computer virus
  • Change in working hours for staff
  • Health and Safety

Sign up to relevant Google alerts around your organisation’s name. If appropriate use other software available that will help you monitor mentions online. Be prepared to respond to comments if needed but you must be straightforward about who you are and never let emotional language influence what you are saying.

Do you know who your organisation’s stakeholders are? If not, find out. Stakeholder groups can include employees, clients/customers, opinion formers such as trade associations and professional bodies, your local community, investors in your organisation and key media who will act as commentators on what you are doing.

Don’t wait until there is a problem to engage with people; be proactive wherever you can. This also means getting together with colleagues in other departments to share and help identify potential causes for concern, even if an issue does not actually materialise.

You can gather information to help identify and manage risks via:

  • Staff surveys
  • Industrial relations
  • Customers’ feedback
  • Product development teams
  • Suppliers
  • HR and Legal teams
  • Health and Safety audits

Be prepared
Think about developing a crisis plan – you may need to get in expert external help. At least have a record of people/agencies that can help you if needed.

What threats can you anticipate? What do you know based on past experience? Do you know how to handle journalists, or who is the nominated person in your organisation that looks after this? This all goes back to having regular dialogue with your colleagues in other departments too – not just when the problem has happened.

Five core tips to get you started:

1. How much access during work time do your employees have to engage with social media and company data?
Blocking access to the internet or certain sites is often seen as the domain of the IT manager, but in today’s workplace this goes beyond merely the computer at your desk.In our networked environment people can access content and store information and data via their phone, tablet or laptop at any time of day. Therefore the rules are changing and your organisation needs to adapt.Expert Jamie Claret ( suggests for starters you need think about:Good antivirus softwareSimple blocking systemsAdvanced blocking and monitoringPreventing sensitive data leaving your businessThe impact data leakage and wasted time during work hours versus empowering staff with access to these sources.

2. Does your organisation have a clear social media policy?
Social media encompasses a broad range of online activities, all of which can have a marked impact on the credibility, perceptions and awareness of an organisation. Outside the workplace rights to privacy and free speech can protect online activity conducted in someone’s personal social network with that person’s personal email address. However, the inevitable connections that can and are made with someone’s workplace can blur the boundaries. What is your organisation’s policy on this?

3. Have these policies been communicated to all staff?
Are they part of your induction programme?Your policy and procedures need to be communicated – don’t just rely on a document that sits in the drawer. Building this into your employee induction programme or at a team update meeting brings this to the forefront of people’s minds.Are your employees aware of the potential negative impact that online comments can have? Where social media interaction is not used exclusively for business, it is important to provide reasonable guidelines on online behaviour if any reference is made to the workplace. Furthermore you may need to draw attention to matters regarding confidentiality as they relate to your organisation or business, and how this can also cover photos or images posted online for example.

4. Are you aware of how other stakeholders might be looking at your organisation through social media?
Media management is likely to rest with either an external agency or your in-house communications team, or for smaller enterprises with a nominated employee or manager. The press have increasingly turned to social media channels not only regarding breaking news, but also to uncover more intimate details about an organisation.This can also be true of any stakeholders. And content posted online is hard to have removed… therefore you need to be as aware of what is being said about the organisation online, as others will be. Do you have any mechanisms in place to facilitate this?

5. Are you ready to act if something potentially negative happens?
You need to have a contingency plan; whether it’s customers commenting on a faulty product or poor service, or a disgruntled employee out to stir up some reactions or actually carrying out some form of deception. How will you react? Who needs to be aware of a problem as and when it occurs and importantly who should be tasked with sorting it out? Do you have an issues management team and plan? Does this plan map onto the online world?

Whitepaper – PR in a changing media landscape

whitepaperAs part of The Think Tank’s sponsorship of B2B Marketing’s Knowledge Bank PR Channel, our PR Director Samantha Dawe has produced a Whitepaper titled ‘PR in a changing media landscape’.

The whitepaper looks at the need for a new mindset in a changing media world. Many commentators have spoken about the basic model for media and marketing being broken. While media fragmentation is seen as a challenge, an expanding range of media options is also an opportunity.

The whitepaper is free to download either from the B2B Marketing web site or by clicking the link below:

PR in a changing media landscape.pdf (254 kb)

How to survive a press interview

InterviewThis piece has been written by Samantha Dawe, The Think Tank’s PR Director.

Working with the press can be a great way to get stories about your products and your organisation across. But before you leap in for a chat take a few minutes to think through what you are going to say.

Using the press effectively to get your point across is a skill. In most cases, you only get one go at this in an interview, so you need to get it right first time when you are speaking to journalists directly.Whether you’re speaking at a planned face-to-face interview, a quick chat catch up at an industry event or a short briefing over the telephone, you will be in the spotlight. Here’s a short memory-refresher on the dos and don’ts of dealing with a press interview.

Prepare, prepare, prepare
Wherever possible build in time to do some preparation before you meet the journalist. Read the publication they are writing for. Ideally find out what the journalist wants to cover in advance so you can be ready with the right sort of information for them. If you don’t know this in advance, ask them when you meet or speak to check. This will also give you time to collect your thoughts. Have you had some media training? It’s worth it if you are in any type of marketing role.

Know your facts and figures
Remember you can talk to a journalist about any information that has already been announced, and bringing in other examples as context can often help illustrate a point. Again, have facts and figures to hand (be prepared wherever possible) so you can refer to them.

Be succinct
Try to speak in short sentences and repeat key points that convey your view. This helps to minimise the risk of being quoted inaccurately. Resist the temptation to go on and on about your favourite theme unless this is the only subject to be covered in the interview.

Raise points that you feel may be of interest
The journalist may have done some preparation but you are also able to raise points on a subject too. Make sure they that are relevant to the journalist’s train of thought; showing them you are trying to give them as much information as you can is usually perceived as helpful as long as you don’t go overboard.

Be interesting
Bring in how you see the industry or your sector developing, if appropriate. This sort of insight also shows that you and your company are continuing to keep track and responding to change. Don’t speculate though unless you are happy to see your speculations in print.

Don’t talk about areas you don’t know about
Don’t make forecasts about products, markets or sales, unless the information has been agreed beforehand and you can produce the data to back it up. If you don’t know much about a subject, say so. And wherever possible get someone in your company to speak to the journalist who is an expert.

Don’t gossip
And don’t be derogatory about the competition; it’s unprofessional. Just give factual information to the journalist, and let them make their own comparisons. Talking too much about the competition actually helps to sell it, so you may want to avoid that.

Don’t be evasive
If you don’t know something (see point 1 above) or you feel you need to get more information in front of you, say you will find out for the journalist and get back to them; check the deadline they are working on. This can also be used to ‘buy some time’ while you formulate an appropriate response to a tricky question. But if you promise further information, make sure it is followed up, even if it is to say that you need more time.

Use colourful phrases with care
Avoid the use of particularly colourful phrases unless you are absolutely sure you want them used. Otherwise, they may appear out of context or as headlines. A sub-editor may well select the juiciest quote from a journalist’s copy just for this purpose: “Widget Ltd’s Marketing Director Paul Smith says that they are murdering the competition”. Enough said.

Don’t go “Off-the record” unless you are really, really confident
This can be a dangerous trap – you are giving information ‘off-the-record’ for a journalist’s guidance, they should not publish it under any circumstances.

You have to tell the journalist the information is ‘off-the-record’ before you give them the information. The phrase should not be used retrospectively.

You should then say when the information you are discussing is ‘back on the record’ that means they can write up what you are saying.

A general rule of thumb is not using ‘off-the-record’ at all. In exceptional circumstances with a journalist that can really be trusted and you know – for example a trade press journalist you are in regular touch with and you know writes in a fair and informed way, and above all will respect this convention, you might be OK. But why chance it?

A Director I knew went ‘off the record’ with a journalist to say that he expected the privately-owned company he worked for would be floated in the next six months. It was a great story and appeared in print. You can imagine the fall out that happened when it was published.

This piece was written as part of The Think Tank’s sponsorship of the PR Section of B2B Marketing’s Knowledge Bank, and forms part of a series of guides, blog posts, case studies and a white papers.

The state of B2B social media

InfographicB2B Marketing has produced an infographic on The State of B2B Social Media 2013, built from the data included in their 2013 B2B Marketing Social Media Benchmarking Report.

From the infographic we can see that Twitter is the most popular platform for B2B businesses, however there looks to be an increase in the prevalence of Google+ in the B2B market.

We also see that a lot of companies don’t calculate the ROI from social media.

Click on the image to see the full Infographic, or click here.

Small business owners not focusing on marketing.

Pitney BowesstationaryIn a recent survey by Pitney Bowes it was discovered that the majority of small business, from a sample of 500, did not have a marketing plan in place, with only 20% saying they did, whilst 35% admitted to dealing with marketing on an ad-hoc basis.

The study went on to find that SME’s lose focus and prioritise low level tasks over marketing, including buying the stationary, cleaning and office repairs coming before marketing.

Whilst multitasking is important, it would appear that many are concentrating too much on the day-to-day running and not looking at the bigger picture. Always difficult when you are running a small business.

Those that are marketing tend to favour print ads, whilst email marketing is still strong.

Read their full report here.

Superbrands of 2013

SuperbrandsRolexappleGoogleBritish AirwaysSuperbrands UK has announced their annual league tables for brands in the UK.

The league tables are based upon many different factors from sector reports to blogs to public nominations, and are narrowed down to a preliminary shortlist of 1700.

Through ratings given by judges and then a public vote this number is whittled down to 500 ‘Superbrands’. These are then seeded in order of ratings, which results in the main 
B2C (business to customer) table and a B2B (business to business) table.

All those involved in the voting process are asked to bear in mind the following definition: ‘A Superbrand has established the finest reputation in its field. It offers customers significant emotional and/or tangible advantages over its competitors, which customers want and recognise.’

The judging panel gives each brand a rating from 1-10, but members are not allowed to vote on brands they work with, competitor brands or those they are unfamiliar with, and the lowest scoring brands are removed from the shortlist.

In addition, the voters are asked to judge brands against the following three factors: quality, reliability and distinction.

The league tables show that Google, Apple and British Airways are highly rated as both B2C and B2B brands; making the top 10 of both tables. Apple lost out to Rolex for the top spot in the consumer table, but was able to snatch it in the business table. The full tables are below, and you can read the full results here.

The B2C Superbrands are
1. Rolex
2. Apple
3. Microsoft
4. British Airways
5. Coca-Cola
6. Google
7. Hilton
8. Heathrow Airport
9. Kellogg’s
10. Mercedes-Benz
11. BMW
12. Heinz
13. BBC
14. Facebook
15. Lego
16. Disney
17. Marks & Spencer
18. BP
19. Dulux
20. Nescafé

Whilst the B2B Superbrands are:
1. Apple
2. British Airways
3. Google
4. Visa
5. Virgin Atlantic
6. IBM
7. Shell
8. Microsoft
9. London Stock Exchange Group
10. Mastercard
11. BP
12: BT
13. Bosch
14. Samsung
15. FedEx
16. Rolls-Royce Group
17. Royal Mail
18. PayPal
19. GlaxoSmithKline
20. DHL


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