A press meeting with Russian journalists

Formica Russian press briefingPR Account Manager Jana Pavelkova flew to Moscow last week to help facilitate and attend a special press briefing organised with our partner agency in Russia and client Formica Group.

The importance of meeting up with journalists face to face is still key in this world of email and online communication. It offers an opportunity to explore areas of mutual interest, and is critically important in some countries like Russia where press briefings are seen as a requisite for being perceived as a serious player in the market.

We have been supporting media relations with the Russian press for Formica Group over a number of years now, and the opportunity to get together was an important step in highlighting Formica Group’s activities at a local level.

Formica Group’s key representatives in Russia presented an overview of product ranges, surfacing trends and how Formica® laminate is being used and specified in buildings.

Jana says: “We invited the journalists to get involved and ask questions throughout the presentation, which led to some very interesting discussions such as the differences between country specific design trends, sustainability vs greenwash, as well as the latest advances in laminate manufacture and the material’s progression since 1913.

“The face to face meeting with journalists also helped to establish Formica Group’s presence on the Russian market and presented the company as an expert in their field.”

Helping spread the word for Tackle, the prostate cancer patients’ charity

Tackle press coverageThe Think Tank has been working with prostate cancer patients’ charity Tackle providing some core PR support since the start of the year. In the past weeks this has specifically involved a critical announcement regarding the availability of a new drug for cancer patients.

The goal was to put forward Tackle’s viewpoint on the availability of this treatment which offers a vital lifeline to thousands of men facing ‘death sentences’ due to the very limited options for treatment if chemotherapy has failed.

PR Senior Account Executive Kate Stewart said: “It was critical that Tackle was seen to be involved in the news debate, and we issued a statement saying the charity was giving a cautious welcome to the turn-around by NICE* on the availability of this new drug Enzalutamide.”

“The statement was issued under embargo and we followed up with as many of the key press writing on this subject as possible, and who we have been in dialogue over past months, offering spokespeople from Tackle for comment.”

The PR initiative paid off and Tackle received online coverage on several high profile websites, including The Mirror, ITV, The Daily Telegraph, Nursing Times, The Courier, Daily Mail, and the Huffington Post!

An article also appeared in print in The Daily Telegraph.

*National Institute for Health & Care Excellence

Interactive illustrations that play with perception

Putting Finger illustrationPrint media can’t be interactive – or can it? Two designers play with this assumption in a new exhibition called ‘Putting Finger’.

Masahiko Sato and Tatsuya Saito have produced a series of illustrations that encourage interaction through ‘gaps’ in the pictures.

By placing your finger in a particular place, the images appear completed, casting shadows from ‘light sources’ or ‘holding’ scissors.

The designers, who are exhibiting their work in Osaka’s DDD gallery until late April, intended people to reconnect with their physical surroundings by interacting with the illustrations.

Take a look at some of the ingenious illustrations here, and tell us if you would interact with them.

Content Smorgasbord: is your content snackable?

Oracle Marketing Cloud has released a new infographic, detailing some top tips to make your content ‘snackable’.

‘Content Smorgasbord’ describes snackable material as ideas that are made easily accessible and understood by presenting them in innovative ways.

It also reveals our average attention span and how a message can be tailored to best effect by using videos, infographics and other interesting ways of displaying information.

Along with some key facts, the infographic suggests a range of applications and programs that can help make your facts and figures digestible and memorable, such as Vine and Instagram.

Take a look at the whole infographic here and tell us what you think of snackable content.

Lipton teams up with the Muppets to ‘be more tea’

Unilever has launched a new global campaign for the Lipton tea brand by releasing an advert featuring the Muppets.

The advert follows Kermit the frog through New York City, who, despite being surrounded by chaotic Animals, remains relaxed and unflappable – even saving Miss Piggy from an army of fans.

According to Unilever, ‘be more tea’ encourages viewers to be more playful, thoughtful and appreciative of their surroundings, with Kermit embodying this chilled ethos.

Watch the extended advert below and find out more about the campaign here.

What makes brands attractive to young people?

The most recent Youth 100 report reveals young people’s favourite brands and companies, and what makes them attractive.

The research discovered that there are three key attributes that young people (classed as aged 18 – 24) rate: convenience, fun and moneysaving.

Brands that are ‘good’ at or combine any of these factors tended to score highly – having a strong social media presence also helped.

Google and Skype were rated highly as brands that made life easier, while fashion brand H&M did well thanks to its perceived value for money. Several ‘fun’ brands appear at the top of the 100, including YouTube and Ben & Jerry’s, but website BuzzFeed (known for its fun factor and social media) was a surprise omission.

The research, which was conducted by Voxburner in collaboration with Thinkhouse and The Student Room, polled more than 2500 young people on 250 brands.

Take a look at Marketing Week’s infographic and summary of the report here and tell us what you think of the results.

Spectacular pictures of an erupting volcano

Chilean photographer Francisco Negroni has braved nature to take stunning pictures of an erupting volcano – which was so powerful, it could be seen from space.

The volcano in Chile’s Puyehue-Cordón Caulle chain erupted in 2011, affecting neighbouring countries and even disrupting air travel over Australasia.

Negroni managed to get within one kilometre from the volcano’s centre and spent a night photographing it.

Many of Negroni’s pictures depict volcanic lightning, or a ‘dirty thunderstorm’, which is a weather phenomenon believed to occur when volcanic rock, ash and ice collide in the air, which produces static charges and triggers lightning.

The Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcanic complex is just part of Chile’s 3000 volcanoes, which is the world’s second largest collection after Indonesia.

Take a look at Negroni’s photographs here.

Frozen in a bubble

Photographer Angela Kelly has teamed up with her son to conduct a novel experiment – taking pictures of bubbles as they froze in mid-air.

They blew their homemade bubble mix (corn syrup, washing up liquid and water) outside their home in wintry Washington, capturing the bubbles’ crystallisation on Angela’s DSLR camera.

While smaller bubbles froze instantly and dropped to the ground or shattered, the larger ones hung suspended in the air with patches of ice forming within them. They also found that the bubbles could deflate, and if there was sunlight, they would only partially freeze. Frosted surfaces, such as their car and patio table, helped to create the intricate crystals.

You can see more of the beautiful pictures here and tell us if you will give this a try.

Google releases Zeitgeist 2013

Google has released its yearly ‘Zeitgeist’, which reveals what we searched for online in 2013.

Prince George, Peter Capaldi and Nigella Lawson, who were at the centre of big announcements last year, proved to be very popular online. The ‘How to…?’ searches reveal a diverse range of requests, such as ‘how to make pancakes’, ‘how to write a CV’ and ‘how to draw manga’.

Most of the top 10 searched movies were box office hits, including ‘Man of Steel’, ‘Skyfall’ and ‘Life of Pi’, while the soap operas ruled the television searches. Rome topped travel searches and 2012’s Gangnam Style scored surprisingly high in the music list.

As well as presenting the individual lists, Google Zeitgeist 2013 allows users to explore the top 100 search trends and what trended where throughout the year.

Take a look at all the trends here and let us know which ones you searched for throughout 2013.

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)

Budweiser lets you make friends with a clink

Buddy CupBuddy CupIt’s an age old tradition across the globe, you say “cheers” (or regional equivalent) then ‘clink’ glasses, an almost universal symbol.

Now American beer brand Budweiser in Brazil wants to make this social act, even more social, with their Buddy Cups.

The smart cups detect the contact between them and adds the other person as a friend on Facebook, this is done via a chip in the bottom of the cup and a code which you scan with your smart phone to activate it.

The cups are reportedly going to be used for events and concerts, but how far afield no one is sure.

Watch a video about the new cup below.

The impact on brand of social media mistakes

The Think Tank has recently been taking part in a series of seminars, talking about issues surrounding the use of social media in the workplace and the impact that it can have upon brand and reputation.

These have been very well attended and judging by two recent Twitter abuses in the United States it is becoming a very important factor for businesses, both internally and externally.

Last week a disgruntled employee at a company called Stub Hub sent out a tweet riddled with profanity, which the company subsequently had to apologise for and issue a withdrawal. We have added an image of this below but it does use quite strong language – you are warned!

Another business, Kitchen Aid, mistakenly retweeted an offensive joke about President Obama’s grandmother – possibly as a result of social media automation. Again, this is below but the content may be deemed as offensive.

These types of social media interaction may be mistakes or they may be on purpose but the problem is the same; Social Media poses new challenges to business as to how they and their employees interact online and the increasing possibility of damage to brand and reputation.

If you would like to discuss any of these topics and how they could impact upon your business then please get in touch.

Twitter profanityTwitter apology

Bad Taste Tweet
Twitter retraction

Responding to customer complaints on Twitter

Sainsbury's twitterTaking the engagement of their customers on Twitter very seriously, the Sainsbury’s PR team this week posted an interesting response to a complaint by U.K. blogger October Jones.

He complained that the chicken sandwich that he had bought “tastes like it was beaten to death by Hulk Hogan.”

The response? - “Really sorry it wasn’t up to scratch. We will replace Mr. Hogan with Ultimate Warrior on our production line immediately.”

Another Sainsbury’s account replied by providing a phone number for Jones to call and said the company sincerely regrets that “you had to wrestle your way through the sandwich.”

These are great responses but are they really appropriate when dealing with customer complaints? Made us smile though.

Earned, owned and paid for

Media FragmentationThe Think Tank PR team has been discussing ‘Earned’, ‘Owned’ and ‘Paid for’ media.  This came about as we saw a quote in PR Week from Freud Communications’ chairman, Matthew Freud, saying that: “The basic model for media and marketing is broken”.  

While media fragmentation has long been talked about we thought it was interesting that it is the interactive marketing space which is helping use define new universes.  

Although full definitions may vary, the basic premise is that ‘Owned’ media is the channel you control such as your website, or partially-owned, your company Facebook page or Twitter account.  

‘Earned’ media covers press coverage, however the term has evolved to cover the word-of-mouth that is being created through social media channels.  

‘Paid for’ media does what is says on the tin, and covers advertising in its many formats online and in print, and extends into paid search for example.  

Categorising your media in this way helps to identify the roles they can play in delivering your communications; understanding their benefits and challenges can be a critical next step, and of course that they work best working together.  

But of course the real test is what you say, not just how you are delivering your message, and increasingly how you are then listening, engaging and responding is key in this new ‘networked’ age.

Facebook highlights factors that increase ad performance

FacebookIn an attempt to boost its ad revenue and improve the quality of advertising, Facebook’s measurement team is making public its research on the types of ads that work best on its platform.  

After talking with marketers, Facebook identified six elements of ad creative that impaceted upon recall and purchase consideration including two visual elements of focal point and noticeability and four that looked at messaging and a range of things, from whether it’s easy to see the brand to whether the ad is succinct and to the point.  

They then asked 109 marketers to rate around 400 ads on each of the six elements. All were from the Facebook premium-engagement format, which appear on the right column of a Facebook page and is restricted by image size and copy length.   All of the ads chosen were brand or product ads rather than direct response.  

The results for recall highlighted three factors that were particularly important: Images needed to have an obvious focal point, the brand had to be clear and the ad needed to fit with the brand’s personality.   

Not rocket science but at least an indicator of best practice winning out.  

Failing focal-points were fairly common, due to the lack of space for images, however this was increased by brands which opted for small product images on cluttered backgrounds. This got in the way of consumers recalling brands – therefore simplicity is best.  

The ads should also be clear about the brand they’re promoting, which may sound obvious but many brands were obscured in the ads or missing associated brand colours.  

When looking at purchase consideration the main aspect was whether the ad rewarded the viewer. Very important in encouraging interaction.  

“Ads that were rewarding tended to be pretty clear — there wasn’t an overload of information,” said Mr. Bruich, who conducted the study with measurement researcher Adrienne Polich. “But [the] rewarding ads also seemed to connect. The information seemed meaningful.”  

The importance of offering a reward was the single-biggest creative predictor of an ad’s success, which apparently surprised the Facebook team.  

The full study will be presented in the US next month however those that believe that bright colours or crazy fonts would create noticeability will be sorely disappointed as the survey found that this was not predictive of either recall or purchase consideration.  

So it’s goodbye to psychedelic Facebook ads and hello to minimalism.

Goldman Sachs ridiculed across social channels

This was a bad publicity week for Goldman Sachs following the publishing of a letter from a disgruntled employee.   

The content of this letter hit the news worldwide and soon became a social media talking point, at which point it took on a life of its own. From comic blog entries like this one called ‘Oscar the Grouch Resigns’ (from Sesame Street fame) to a plethora of entries across Pinterest.  

This is a classic case of how just one employee can quickly damage the reputation of a business and how social media spreads the message at an exponential rate.   Whether the employee was right or wrong is not for us to judge however it does demonstrate why businesses should have crisis planning in place to quickly limit the potential damage of such an action. Social Media adds to the potential risk and businesses should be actively monitoring channels to ensure that they are aware of what is being said about them by customers, employees and the general public. A forewarned business is a prepared business.  

It is frightening just how quickly the reputation of a business can be damaged through the posting of video content on social channels – remember the safety demonstration that turned out not to be so safe!

It is difficult to tell just how much this will damage the reputation of Goldman Sachs however in the short term it wiped $2bn off their market value – not a good day at the bank!



Sensory marketing that grows on you

Last week TTT met CURB, the natural media company that helps brands create innovative and award winning media.

CURB uses attention-grabbing media such as chalk advertising or bespoke interactive productions where the individual acts as an instrument for creating the experience or message – pedal to charge your phone or dance to make the music louder!   CURB also uses natural media which they tailor to their clients’ briefs – to promote the movie Contagion they worked with a world renowned microbiologist to create an enormous Petri dish inoculated with mould, penicillin and Pantone-matched live bacteria. Over the span of a few days these grew into the movie title ‘Contagion’ (and yes, it went viral).

During the Multisensory Media demonstration TTT’s meeting room was filled with the scent of grass from the AC Milan’s San Siro football pitch. Unfortunately for CURB there were no football fans in the meeting to appreciate this particular experience; nevertheless we were amazed at how particular they can be with creating scents and sounds. We found out that specific scents can be used to change an emotion as well as perception of time and environments.

CURB has also developed a technique to package the scents in a way that is sustainable and fun. We enjoyed the experience of small customizable pouches that released a lovely scent with just one squeeze – some of the scents included the smell of chocolate truffles or red roses (a note to all men – do not use as a substitute for a gift).

CURB uses entirely natural or sustainable materials that are recycled after they’ve been used. If that is not possible, the materials are upcycled; for example a huge poster of Michael Jackson’s album next to Heathrow airport was made out of plastic that was later upcycled to mobile phone cases and various other goods.

To find out more about their fun and innovative approach to Out-Of-Home media, PR and experiential marketing, visit www.curbmedia.com



Research says that 80% of US brands respond to online customer feedback

In a recent article in Corporate Comms a survey by software comapny ‘Get Satisfaction‘ measured houw US brands monitor online converstaions and feedback.

Nearly 90 per cent of US brands say that they monitor online conversations and feedback while 80 per cent also respond to feedback. More than three quarters of those polled also distribute customer feedback internally and nearly two thirds thought that listening and engaging on social media has raised brand awareness.

The article also highlights that more than two fifths cited availability of budget as the greatest internal challenge to listening and engagement, while more than a third said the same about their difficulty in managing programmes across multiple platforms.

‘Almost a fifth cited privacy issues as the greatest challenge, while 30 per cent said the same about availability of talent. The top five departments that create strategies to listen to consumers are, in order, the social media team, marketing or public relations, web-interactive marketing, product marketing and marketing operations.

Half of businesses say that listening to their customers on social media is not a core function of their business. Just six per cent of companies said that listening and digital engagement initiatives are integral to their organisation,’ the article says.

It seems that brands in the US are taking social media engagement seriously. It would be interesting to carry out similar research in the UK.

Article by Emily Nicholls for Corp Comms Magazine.


Social media explained

Found this in one of the blogs we follow and it made us smile. By Douglas Wray.



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