Cohesive Communications Internship

My 5-week internship took place at a PR and marketing agency called Cohesive Communications, who specialise in B2B tech upstarts from around the globe.

I helped out on a number of accounts, from cloud data management vendor Rubrik to IT security solutions provider Barracuda Networks.

My responsibilities included:
– Attending weekly Monday morning catch-ups.
– Attending account meetings, discussing strategies.
– Analysing and tracking client media coverage.
– Informing team of any cyber security breaking news.

Tasks

– Media Relations: I successfully pitched to a number of tech journalists, securing interviews at VM World Europe & Barracuda’s Partner Event in London.
– Completing write ups to enter client into various award programmes.
– Social media research and analytics. Used Buzzsumo to monitor tech based content and influencers.
– I documented the Bike To Work scheme that the company took part in and edited a Vlog style video ready for social media.
– Helped compile a tweet social calendar in the build up to a client event.
– Wrote a blog on the company website about my experiences.

Successful at:

  • Pitching to journalists was enjoyable once I had got to grips with the process.

I didn’t have great amount of confidence from my previous placement so being able to overcome this was a bit positive for me.

From a media relations point of view, I felt I build up particular relationships with certain journalists. Zac Emmanuel from Computer Weekly was a recent graduate so felt like we were on similar levels. It was great persuading the journalists to book in for an interview and tick them off the media list. As I’m sure many people know, it is hard getting a journalist to answer the phone let alone have a conversation with them.

Struggled with:

  • I think because I enjoyed the placement so much, there wasn’t a great deal I personally felt I struggled at – I was always keen to get my teeth stuck into something.

In the first few weeks I was still getting used to things so that was likely to be my most vulnerable patch.

We had a team meeting about content and ways of developing the website. Another intern was there and she was a lot better at brain storming. I didn’t understand the tasks so my points were a bit vague. Looking back on it, it probably would’ve been more progressive to think of loads of ideas and explain how they were relevant. Create more of a discussion.

Other than that I thought it was a fantastic placement and I learn a lot!

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Summer Work Placement 

After a very unproductive summer last year, I decided it was time to get as much experience as possible this time around.

This meant that I could enrich my CV with some new positions and contribute towards the key elements of the Work Experience module starting in third year (September 2018). 

My first placement that I have stated this week, is at the Soil Association. The NGO is based in Bristol city centre. They are a charity that focus on sustainability via a number of key themes, from farming to supporting children’s meals at school. 

Working at Waitrose has helped my understanding of the way the Soil Assocation functions. Particularly through the food side of things, since Waitrose sponsor the organisation. The John Lewis partnership have also formed their organic brand (Duchy) through the soil association, certifying many products to ensure they meet the correct standards. 

My second placement commencing in August is a PR company based in Chepstow that specialise in technology, in particular tech start ups.

This will give me a good scope in terms of industry. Two very different specialities from sustainability to technology communications. 

The Idiot Proof Guide To Snapchat 

Since the progression of ‘web 2.0’,  we have seen vast developments and changes in applications and various social media tools.

Two of the biggest and most prevalent social media applications are Snapchat and Instagram.

Snapchat

Since originally launching in 2011 as ‘Pictaboo’, the application began with a measily 127 users and after a year of the founders arguing over equity, the application was later renamed to ‘Snapchat’ in 2011. By the summer of 2012, Snapchat had finally found it’s calling with an exuberant 100,000 users – the app quickly spreading throughout cyberspace.

How does it work?

Snapchat’s intended usage was for participants to send ‘snaps’ from user to user, with a timed feature. This meant the user could select for the image or video to be seen for up to 10 seconds. Therefore, the content was unsalvageable and could only be seen on a one time basis.

However, the catch 22 was screenshots. The opposing user could screen shot a certain image or video to save the content permanently. As the app has continued to evolve, the opposing user is now notified if their content has been screen shot or viewed by followers.

The app enabled the user to send characterised text or other keyboard features such as emojis and other phone symbols.

Snapchat Stories

One of Snapchat’s unique selling points (USP) was the Snapchat story. This gives you the control to create your own story of events, using both pictures and video. It works like a running thread of content which lasts up to 24 hours from the posting date and time.

As an account holder, you are also able to save the story to your mobile phone and keep as a permanent copy. Which enables you to keep the content after the 24 hour time out has been exceeded.

Geofilters – otherwise known as Location filters

Another USP for Snapchat is the interactive filters which can be used on various smart phones. This makes any content produced in this manner Snapchat exclusive, which is easily recgonisable among other social media.

 

dog

 

These filters were initially introduced for humourous purposes and to help friends interact with each other in a comical and entertaining manor.

The filters worked via face recognition, transforming an individuals face, such as superimposing an animal’s face with an animated tongue integrated (see image). One of the many exciting filters added to the system.

 

 

 

 

 

The team at Snapchat have thought of even more ways to encourage cash flow into the company. According to TechCrunch Snapchat has 2 types of filter; the community Geofilter  and the sponsored filter. This can come at a cost if you choose to go down the marketing route.

Community filters are free but cannot include logos or any marketing content. For example, an ideal design for a community filter is the name of the town or city or popular location in the world. This is triggered via the location features enabled on smartphones to identify the exact location of an individual.  img_0437

The sponsored Geofilters enables big brands to cover large distances with marketable content which of course involves money- a clever tactic from Snapchat. The image below explores the marketing many companies used for Black Friday.

The minimum range parameters for these filters to be accessed is from 5000 square feet to an astonishing 5,000,000. There is also a minimum time frame of 30 minutes to a maximum of around 4 weeks. You can design your own filter here by directing yourself through to the Snapchat website or click here for more details.

snapchat-sponsored-geofilter-1-1img3-copy

So how much does it cost?

Considering how much flexibility the application gives you from a marketing perspective, the price is quite reasonable. I did a small grid reference around my house in Bristol and found it would cost roughly £16.00 to have the filter active for 1 hour. It was a basic PNG image with small icons inside it.

 

img2img1

On the opposite end of the spectrum, it would cost around £3000.00 to have the filter active till the end of the month (21 days) which seems a lot more expensive in the grand scheme of things.

How does this complement PR?

This is an absolute godsend for PR professionals, particularly for campaigns and promoting an up and coming event.

The Sponsored Geofilter would be extremely effective for a PR stunt or campaign. It would enable the public to engage with the event interactively and share the information on other media. This would work particularly well if a hashtag took off and as a result, began trending on Twitter and Instagram. Running the filter for just 1 hour (£16) seems like a feasible alternative to promoting your event.

The idea you can save stories gives you the accessibility in reposting to other social media  such as Facebook, Twitter and other popular platforms. The large advancement means you can create a social media loop whereby the user is directed around each of your social media channels.

If it is a PR campaign you can encourage consumers to ‘add us on Snapchat to see more behind the scences of the campaign and what else we are up to’. A fantastic way to consistently put out content for customers to view back to back. It should also encourage users to follow you on your other platforms, increasing awareness of your campaign.

It is obvious that Snapchat is a great tool for eager PR people but with the constant shift of activity in the digital age, Snapchat’s reign could soon come to an end. According to Owen Williams (2017), since Instagram coincidentely acquired their own ‘story feature’, more people are returning to Instagram to do the same thing they originally became obsessed with on Snapchat. Either way, both platforms give plenty of food for thought among practitioners in the public relations world.

This again reinforces how PR is adapting to the digital age, through the various advancements which are happening on a monthly basis. New applications and social media tools are always being launched and integrated with current successful media. This shows the versatility of PR and how it can be easily moulded to majority of new resources and materials in the ‘digisphere’.

Word count: 1030.

References

Crook, J (2016) Tech Crunch. Available from: [https://techcrunch.com/gallery/a-brief-history-of-snapchat/slide/15/]

Williams, O (2017) LinkedIn. Available from: [https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-im-leaving-snapchat-so-all-your-friends-owen-williams-1?trk=v-feed&lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_search_srp_content%3B%2Fyk7XfR6Ucmms7UXwBsVwg%3D%3D].

How to enhance your PR strategy in the digital age

Social media and digital applications are always changing.  Familiarising yourself with these new digital platforms could help you take advantage during a social media campaign. Here are a few useful hints and tips to develop your brand and potential engagement with clients in the future.

Real time marketing

This is a technique that is being used more and more on Facebook and other forms of popular social media. It can be used in a variety of different ways and often run through advertisements on a page.

  • Identifying your location and advertising things in your area.
  • Selling products or services from websites you have recently visited.
  • Event/social media marketing. For example, internet sensation Salt Bae and his cooking technique that went viral.

Visual content

It might seem obvious but visual generated content is more appealing and will attract people to your website or Facebook page. Nobody wants to see a page full of hard coded text and no visual content to keep the reader engaged. With Google Analytics, you are able to pin point how long a user stays on your page for.

A man by the name of Jakob Nielsen came up with a theory on Eye tracking, shortly named the F-pattern. He discovered that often the user’s eye scanned in an F pattern when engaging with content. This means that you must ensure text is not bulked together in one paragraph. Companies like the BBC tend to do this very well, where the text is nicely organised and the most important information is at the start of the article. Keeping the reader engaged and successfully informed.

Do YouTube well

YouTube can be a great way of generating cash when you get enough views on your selected videos. You are able to adjust your settings to monetise your videos and therefore get paid by YouTube when your content reaches a specific stage. This is not only good because of the financial incentive, it is a great way to increase interest in your latest campaign or business idea. Therefore boosting engagement in your page as well as awareness of your brand.

On the other hand, people are likely to engage with video content better than static photographs. Since some of the most viewed videos on YouTube are of cats and animals. People are more interested in this content rather than someone trying to advertise their brand. This is why if you combat both areas it may lead to success for your company or PR stunt.

 

Pay attention to Analytics

Our favourite search engine Google, offers a variety of different analytical software for free of charge. These enable you to monitor your content and consider how high your organisation sits on the Google rankings.

You can observe how long customers spend on your website and monitor the amount of click throughs to certain pages. This can be hugely beneficial for pin pointing improvement in your work.

There are other paid for pieces of software such as Sprout Social, which can help improve content engagement to your website.

 

Word count: 505 words

How A London Business Made £30k

Since the Christmas break I have taken the opportunity to do some work with my friend in London for a couple of weeks.

Based in Stoke Newington, London , the family run business named Coban, has been around for 25 years. Coban first started predominantly in photography, specilasing in weddings, where both video and photography elements are championed.

Looking more into the future, Coban has decided to branch off from photography into other areas of the market.

The newly launched website.

Yalcin Coban, had a passion for homeware and wanted to bring a product to the market that was unique and solved problems that he faced in the kitchen and at home.

He launched his campaign on kickstarter which is one of the most popular websites for crowdfunding and helping an individual fund a project. He set out by attempting to generate £9500.00 and successfully achieved this by raising an astonishing £33,580!

Check out the newly designed website.
Using the perks of Kickstarter, he issued many prizes and gifts which gave the audience more of an incentive to fund him.

This goes to show the power of crowdfunding and how it can make people’s goals a reality.

Younger brother Mahmut Coban decided he wanted to branch out the business even further. He set out by introducing his own clothing brand, specialising in British made products, mostly leather accessories initially. Having an keen interest in motorbikes, he also developed a unique skill in building bikes from scratch using spare parts found on other bikes. This is another service which he offers in the store and advertised online.

Check out the website here.

Unfortunately the Kickstarter campaign failed to make the £15,000 target, because of the campaign being launched before it was ready. Considering this bad start, Life In Paradigm has done well as a brand, with its inclusion in the ASOS online marketplace.

The store in Stoke Newington has been transformed into an actual retail store rather than just a wedding studio. Selling other British made products with a aim to produce more of their own branded clothing.
 

 

 

PR campaigns II: The Battle of the Christmas ads

A few blog posts ago, I talked about the power of social media campaigns fuelled by public relations. In this particular example I discussed my employer John Lewis – and their successful role as a company to create engaging Christmas adverts for the general public.

With this in mind, it costs companies like John Lewis millions of pounds every year to fund such campaigns. Especially with other competitors following in the partnership’s footsteps – it is important to keep up with the demand for more successful media.

The 2016 John Lewis Christmas advert: #BusterTheDog

There have been many mixed reviews of this advert with people wanting more of a ‘tear jerker’ like the previous year, ” Man on the moon” This advert cost the company an astonishing £7 million.

From a marketing perspective it is interesting to note how impressive the John Lewis campaign is. As discussed previously, the 2014 campaign with #MontyThePenguin – was so successful that the Monty The Penguin merchandise completely sold out in John Lewis nationwide. It appears that they have decided to follow this motive and introduce Buster the boxer and other animals that featured in the ad. A great way of making even more money around the Christmas period.

This recurring theme of the dog Buster is a key theme implemented by John Lewis. Both as a marketing perspective and how the hashtag #BusterTheBoxer can thrive in social media. Showing the power of social media for public relations and organisations. Even other companies have used this advert to their own advantage – to gain attention from the public eye.

sportsdirectThe marketing department of Sports Direct have been very clever by using a play on words from the newly released John Lewis advert. ‘price Buster’ in reference to Buster the dog. This adds a sense of humour and also that marketing edge from other companies stocking trampolines and products alike.

It is quite interesting to monitor other competitors such as Aldi with the build up to the festive season. Previous years they opted to ‘take the mick’ out of the infamous John Lewis ad by defining a sheer comparison of price between the two companies. With a key aim to encourage customers to walk away from the partnership’s high price range. However, this year Aldi has decided to up their game by introducing a new advert of their own:

PR campaigns

No matter what size a company or organisation is, PR strategies are seriously important – whether it’s promoting new products or campaigns or purely to raise awareness and public interest.

The business sector is full of PR stunts – making news out of effectively nothing.

With the build up to Christmas, there is one company that always dominate the annual unveiling of Christmas adverts. This is of course John Lewis. Each year, millions of pounds are invested into creating these iconic Christmas ads, aiming to entice as many shoppers into the department store as possible. Also to show the company is keen to fully immerse itself in the Christmas spirit.

Back in 2014, PR week’s Ian Griggs discussed the campaign costing John Lewis a whopping £7 million. With the fluctuating value of the pound and recent effects of Brexit – perhaps John Lewis may cut costs in this area. However, every year there are constant competitors in rival supermarkets/department stores such as M & S, Asda, Sainsbury’s & Aldi.

This 2014 edition involving ‘ Monty The Penguin’ was extremely successful. In both viewers and fetching massive sales in the Monty The Penguin soft toy that fully sold out in stores across the UK. Who thought people would go so crazy about a stuffed soft toy?

It is quite interesting to observe the evolution of the John Lewis Christmas advert – from it’s first airing in 2007 till the present day. Why don’t you Pick your favourite? Personally I don’t think you can pick the 2014 edition. I think it is very clever the way it is ‘just a dream’ at the end of the trailer. Also a clever marketing strategy to get people so into the advert that they want to by the exact same penguin for their kids or even themselves!

There has been mass amounts of anticipation on Twitter for this years much awaited reveal, courtesy of the Dailly Mirror. This just goes to show how strong the PR team at John Lewis is. They’ve pretty much trade marked the Christmas advert in the festive season, with people already discussing what artist or music will be accompanying the trailer. Others believe there may be a tribute to the legend David Bowie who sadly passed away this year.