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How will businesses respond to the recent Facebook changes?



On Thursday it was revealed that Facebook will be changing its algorithms once again, so users will begin to see more posts on their news feed from family and friends, rather than posts from brands and publishers. The CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, explained he’s bringing in the change to make sure “the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent.” So what does this mean for PR professionals who use Facebook as a key mechanism when working with clients?

If used correctly, social media can be an extremely influential PR tool, and Facebook has been growing in popularity for businesses who want to capture consumer interest during ‘down time’, i.e. the hours we’re not in work and are instead, switching off and pursuing our personal interests.

It’s been acknowledged by Mark Zuckerberg that “the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down," meaning there will be even less opportunity to consume content from businesses and publishers. As such, businesses that once used Facebook as their sole tool to engage with the public will now have to begin using a variety of other channels to connect with their target audience. A ‘one size fits all’ mentality is not the correct approach to take;  channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+ and more will have to be utilised better in order to gain similar levels of traction once offered by Facebook. That said, not all consumers use every channel available, so it’s important to analyse where your specific target audience consumes its content.

Only time will tell whether this is a huge gamble by Facebook. By making this decision, it will have dramatically decreased its support from publishers and business, which may leave investors to question their involvement with the organisation.

Or, will it prove to be a smart move? When the changes come into place, companies may reveal that it hasn’t affected them as much as expected, or find it’s forced them to seek alternative methods of promotion which yield better results.

Ultimately, it’s essential for businesses to keep up to date on how changes like this could affect how they reach their customers and therefore, the nature of their entire company.

If you need help or guidance with your social media and online PR support, find out what we can do for you here: http://www.refreshpr.co.uk/page/88/Social-Media.htm. Alternatively, contact us on 0161 871 1188.

 

Tagged with: Facebook, PR, PR campaign essential, Public Relations, Social Media

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Social media – the dos and don’ts



Social Media is constantly developing and expanding, and it can be a tricky one to get right. The temptation to use it as a platform to promote your products and service can often lead to a lacklustre feed with minimal engagement. Here, we’re going to look at the golden rules of social media and how you can use it to maximise your business.

Sharing is caring

Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook et al are designed to share information. Whether it is quick snippets limited to 280 characters (we’re still not onboard with the character increase), or thought leadership articles hosted on LinkedIn, there are no limits to the content that can be shared to your following. It is important however that each piece of content shared is valuable to your audience. Throwing out product plug after product plug, however interesting you find it, will turn your followers off and create a stagnant account. Share industry news, relevant national news items, social trends and information your following will find valuable.

Engage

Twitter describes itself as ‘sparking a global conversation’, with conversation being the most important word here. There is no point in executing a social media campaign if you aren’t going to engage. Reply to tweets, express your opinion, ask open ended questions, even set up a poll; it is paramount you use social media to engage with your potential customers. Creating a relationship with potential customers is the first step to generating a sale, and this first connection can be made without leaving the comfort of your office.

Hashtags

You can’t expect people to stumble across your profile without promoting yourself. Whilst links directing people from your website will work at engaging current customers, using hashtags could generate new business. Whether it’s #Lipstick, #PlasticPlumbing or #StudentAccommodation, anyone using these search terms will be presented with your content, helping you widen your audience and build your following.

Tone of voice

From our experience, people think the social media platform dictates the tone of voice, meaning LinkedIn is full of formal jargon whilst a Twitter feed is littered with colloquialisms and GIFs. This leads to a confused company ethos and a disjointed tone of voice. The best way to determine how and what you write is by looking at your audience and adjusting accordingly. If you’re targeting potential investors, then Kim K memes are probably not best placed, across the board. Likewise, if you’re looking to engage with football fans or families, then a more colloquial term is more appropriate.

Images

A picture’s worth a thousand words has never been truer than on social media. Timelines are a very busy place and you need to use any tool possible to grab a user’s attention. Images achieve a higher engagement rate than plain text on social media and so are a vital tool to adopt. Whether it’s a photo to support and article, an infographic or a video, where appropriate use an image to see your content interactions increase. Moreover, Facebook rewards this content and so you will see your posts appearing above others, further increasing engagement.

Social media can be tricky to navigate, and with rules and trends changing so quickly it can be difficult to keep up. Investing a couple of hours a week in your social media offering will see you reap the benefits. If time isn’t an option, hiring an agency to provide expert guidance on your social media output will see you hit your key business objectives.

For more information on how Refresh PR can help your social media efforts, call: 0161 871 1188.

Tagged with: Facebook, PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign essential, Social Media, Twitter

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User generated content: the end of journalism?



Over the last two weeks, news sites across the world have been filled with imagery and videos from those caught up in one of the worst storms on record. While Hurricane Irma has ripped apart several Caribbean islands and is now taking over the Florida coastline, those of us on the other side of the world have felt closer to the eye of the storm than any other before it, thanks to the real-life recordings taken from the scene. The people capturing the material aren’t journalists; they’re residents, families, or those locked up with friends. This type of footage is called ‘user generated content’ (UGC), and while it now forms part of most newsreels we watch during hourly bulletins, once upon a time it was the dread of journalists across the globe.

With the birth of smartphones came the ability for mere mortals to capture their own side of every tale, and it started to unsettle journalists who had spent their lives learning the trade, and earning their position as the story teller. Suddenly, we began to question whether newspapers told the whole story, as more and more the general public were sharing footage that gave a different angle.

Having worked as a journalist, I understand the fear that UGC makes people question how hard it really is to become qualified for the role. Local newspapers are closing every week (the first newspaper I worked at, incidentally, closed down two weeks ago very suddenly – though this was down to ****-poor management, not UGC), but all things considered, if it wasn’t for UGC, we wouldn’t have anywhere near as close an understanding of the devastation Irma has caused in the US and Caribbean. The majority of journalists working for corporations with hefty life insurance policies aren’t venturing overseas through fear of injury or death, so it’s over to those living in the situation to tell us how it really is.

We rely on UGC now as standard practice to bring news and campaigns to life – our Window with a View/Home with a View competition with MyGlazing.com relies inherently on the public submitting images and is crucial to its success – however, one thing troubles me: our capacity, as media consumers, to understand the difference between fake and real news. There’s a propensity amongst us to assume everything we see is true – but even with UGC that’s not the case. There are a multitude of videos and images, reportedly of the devastation Hurricane Irma has caused, doing the rounds, with many being completely false. The lengths people go to now to have their material featured online/in the news is becoming more and more absurd, and with the ability to ‘go viral’ (often for all the wrong reasons), are we taking UGC too much at face value rather than questioning its authenticity?

There is a place for UGC, I have no doubt about it, and I am a firm believer that using it gives us a better idea of what’s going on in the world; it takes us nearer to the action, making us feel closer to its subjects, encouraging us to put ourselves in other’s shoes, because someone just like us is narrating. But journalists and those working in PR still have a huge responsibility to ensure the material that does make it into the mainstream media is accurate, factual and a fair representation. If we can work together in such a way, our news shows will be some of the strongest in the world.

 

 

Tagged with: Facebook, PR, PR campaign essential, PR event, Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter

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A Facebook Diagnosis



 

It’s no secret that advertisers are tapping into most areas of our digital lives. Viewing a product once can leave us bombarded with targeted ads through social media channels. However, with the recent news that Facebook has been monitoring teenagers’ every tap, click and post to gain insight into their emotional state, has this gone too far?

By keeping tabs on our online searches on Facebook, the social media channel is able to make assumptions on how we are feeling and share this information with advertisers.

Leaked documents show the social media giant telling advertisers it can identify teens feeling 'insecure' and 'worthless' following extensive research it carried out on the platform.

In turn, this allows advertisers to then push the appropriate ads to the appropriate audience, whether it is self-help, confidence building, therapy or counselling – there are a host of companies just waiting to reap the financial reward of a teen’s misery.

This could be seen as a preventative measure, offering help to those who may not be willing to speak up and ask for it, however I don’t believe this is Facebook’s decision to make.

I personally see it as another form of intrusion on our lives which many of us don’t even know is happening. If someone has chosen not to speak up about their emotional state, it’s likely because they are not ready to talk. And if they haven’t discussed it with friends or family, what gives Facebook the right to facelessly intervene?

Offering teens in emotional turmoil an imbalance of messages through advertising will likely do more harm than good, offering a diagnosis for a problem that may amount to nothing. It may also pressure teens into taking unnecessary preventative measures, while making silence a feasible option by taking power away from parents and guardians. After all, not all problems can be solved by simply clicking a button.

The solution here, I believe, is to let teens understand the facts surrounding online searching, asking platforms like Facebook to be more transparent with how it uses your online activity to target ads and influence the content it shows you. If we all understood that these adverts are a direct result of our searches, they would have less effect on us and could prevent teens being overwhelmed.

It’s Facebook’s responsibility to ensure people are protected when using its social media platform, therefore it should ensure vulnerable teens are not bombarded with confusing messages – simply for financial gain for a company already worth $435 billion dollars.

 

 

 

Tagged with: Facebook, Marketing, Social Media

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Refresh PR Runs Social Media Bootcamp Alongside Industry Experts



This month Refresh PR enlisted the help of our industry collaborators and friends of the agency to put on a social media bootcamp for the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).

Alongside Jaw Digital and Bearded Fellows, we discussed all things social media including utilising Facebook for business, how to create video content and maximising micro-influencers for a brand.

The attendees, including marketing managers and students from across the north, joined us at Manchester Metropolitan University to build their very own digital communications plan, based on the information provided by the panel of experts.

Julaine, founder and marketing director of JAW Digital, kick started the day covering off Facebook and working with the attendees to explore the back-end of the social media platform – showing them practical ways to boost their pages’ capabilities and reach.

This was then followed with Refresh PR’s head of consumer, Caroline and consumer account manager, Christy, talking about one of 2017’s hottest marketing trends – micro-influencers. Currently a relatively untapped approach for many marketeers, it is one that has proven very powerful to brands which are early adopters of the method.

Case studies (good and bad) were shared, as were top tips on legislation and evaluation, to give attendees an insight into how to use these influencers, effectively and ethically.

Finally, Bearded Fellows’ MD, Joe, finished off the day talking about the strategy behind using video to engage with customers. With figures showing that 80% of the world’s internet traffic will be video by 2019, now is the time for marketeers to start planning this into their communications strategy.

Joe took the group through Bearded Fellows’ strategic approach, with the emphasis on design, empathy and play and again shared case studies that had real impact.

Despite the three very different topics, there were a number of take-outs that resonated throughout including: know your audience and how they behave online; don’t create content for the sake of content; and constantly evaluate, learn and adapt. Social media is an ever-evolving platform and therefore the communications strategy has to mirror this – don’t be afraid to try new things.

If you’d like to talk more about your social media strategy, get in touch with the team at Refresh via hello@refreshpr.co.uk

 

 

Tagged with: CIM, Collaboration, Facebook, Social Media

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Refresh captures the best view in Britain



 

September saw our ‘Window with a View’ campaign with the Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF) come to an exciting conclusion – and with phenomenal results.

Having launched its consumer advice site MyGlazing.com in September 2015, the GGF came to us in December looking for ways to raise awareness of the new brand. Its aim was to drive 100,000 consumers to the website by October 2016.

Understanding that visual and interactive campaigns are leading the way in the press and on social media, we devised the ‘Window with a View’; a competition to find the country’s most stunning view through a window.

Since January, we’ve been reaching out to the nation’s tourism attractions, hotels, bars and restaurants – anywhere open to the general public – via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, in the press and even over the phone, encouraging people enter a snap of their best window view to the competition.

We received 150 nominations – including entries from the Houses of Parliament, Titanic Belfast, St Paul’s Cathedral, Blackpool Tower and Blackpool Tower – and the competition made the news in every corner of the UK, on TV, in print and – crucially – online. Web coverage was key throughout the campaign, providing opportunity to link back to the MyGlazing.com site, taking us ever closer to that 100,000 visitors target.

Following an intense judging day, two stages of public voting and an anxious wait to find out which attraction would take the national crown, the Museum of Liverpool was announced as the first ever winner of the Window with a View competition live on BBC Radio Merseyside’s breakfast show at the end of September.

The following week, we were over the moon to hear the news that the 100,000 visitors target had not only been achieved, but exceeded. It just goes to show a well-thought out strategy with a dedicated team behind it can result in great things.

Plans are already in place to launch Year Two in 2017, so watch this space!

 

Tagged with: Built Environment, Construction, Facebook, Home Interest, Lifestyle, Marketing, PR, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Social Media

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Why video is vital for PR professionals



 

As the digital work carried out by PR professionals evolves, it’s no longer a case of simply using it to bolster our ‘traditional’ press office activity and campaigns. More and more, PR professionals are asking whether social media should be the crux of how we reach our audience.

 

Last week I attended the #PRCADigital event, where the statistics and insights shared came as no surprise. Increasingly clients’ budgets for digital activity is spent on boosting SEO, paid social media activity and creating video based content - with 62 per cent citing this as the main area of spending.

 

Like many of our clients, we recognise the importance of video based content and this creates a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with other creative businesses, echoing what we discussed in a recent blog post.

 

Video content has well and truly hit the mainstream. Facebook’s Live function is growing in popularity, highlighting the importance of such content to audiences by allowing users to live-stream videos, a maximum of 30 minute long, directly from their smartphones.

 

Other social networks are also making a big push on video with Twitter recently announcing it will be launching an app for live-streaming video on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Microsoft's Xbox One. This move again highlights how important it is to harness this type of content and create truly integrated campaigns.

 

As well as these developments by social networks, figures show people spend three times longer watching live video compared to a video that's pre-recorded, which is an important insight for content creators. It shows that it’s the creativity and message that users are responding to and therefore not every video has to be at a Hollywood level of production.

 

Everyone has the capability to create videos and with the quality of camera phones reaching new heights, consumers, brands and PR professionals can get filming!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: , CIPR , Digital, Facebook, Facebook Live, Networking Event, PR, PRCA, Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter, Video

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Putting a price on silence



You could be fooled into thinking that money really can buy you anything these days – including silence. Just ask Ryan Giggs, who in 2011 spent £150,000 on a super PR aencies Manchesterinjunction after his affair with “Miss Wales”. Unfortunately for Giggs, Liberal Democrat MP, John Hemming, used his parliamentary privilege to ‘out’ the footballer just a few months after the injunction was granted. Hardly money well spent…

 

More recently, a well-known - but still unnamed - British celebrity was scandalised for their extramarital affair. The individual in question was granted a ‘super-injunction’ for an undisclosed sum after judges decided lifting the ban would have ‘devastating consequences’ for the celebrity’s family. Despite being named in the Scottish press, American press, and on social media, the name has yet to be disclosed in England and Wales.

 

Is it fair that money can buy you silence? Are such rulings impeding freedom of speech, and is judicial secrecy being overused?

 

Admittedly these super-injunctions do often protect innocent bystanders such as family and children. Caught up in a mess created by someone else, innocent parties shouldn’t suffer the consequences of a family member’s poor judgement.

 

Yet with increasing pressure on the law to overturn rulings and rising anger from the media around freedom of speech, speculators have suggested it is only a matter of time before super-injunctions are outlawed.

 

From Jeremy Clarkson to Andrew Marr and the countless others who had enough money to spare themselves embarrassment, there could be many more skeletons in the closet. Watch this space…

  

 

 

 

Tagged with: Facebook, Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Social Media, Super injunction, Twitter

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Are you being served on social media?



New statistics state that a third of us Brits will complain about bad service or our dissatisfaction with a brand via social media. I have to admit that I too have done this (the company I was complaining about shall remain nameless).

Increasingly, businesses have to use social media as a direct customer enquiry line: an enquiry line which is instant and more visible than any phone call or email.

Consumers have to simply take to Twitter or Facebook to vent their frustrations, avoiding the traditional ‘press one for support’ and ‘please hold’ of customer helplines. Using social media puts complaints firmly in the public domain.  

Therefore it’s imperative to get customer service on social media right. Not only can the whole world see a customer complaint or query, they can also see any mistakes in handling the enquiry and can even chip in with their own opinion. BT Sport was inundated with tweets about customers being unable to log in on mobiles and tablets to watch the debut match from the new sports channel. Such was the attention on social media, the complaints even caught the eye of the media. By Sunday morning, news pieces, such as this article from the Sunday Mirror, were commenting on the technical glitch and the football fans’ anger.   

Social media is quick and likewise, so should be the response to any complaint on it. Showing speedy, effective customer service online makes the complainant happy but also serves as a fantastic advert to the professionalism of a business. It also allows brands to take control, halt any escalation of conversations and put things right quickly.

Alongside providing great customer service, there’s another incentive to effectively use social media. Seventy per cent of consumers who have had a complaint dealt with on social media go on to purchase from the brand again, as research announced by Business Reporter shows.

So what’s the easiest way of handling complaints on social media?

Many brands have opted for specific accounts for handling customer enquiries. Sainsbury’s has @sainsburys for recipes, competitions and customer support and @SainsburysPR for company news and releases. Using this practice keeps the excellent news that a brand wants to shout to the world away from customers querying home delivery times or the availability of their favourite ready meal.

If this all sounds rather gloomy, then fear not, social media customer enquiries can be positive. Many consumers will tweet brands to ask about products they love or to simply say how much they enjoyed their experience.

I regularly tweet restaurants and bars if I’ve had a good time there, and it’s really satisfying when I receive a tweet back in thanks, or even in jest (thanks Betty’s in York, Teacup in Manchester and Patisserie Valerie!). Getting live positive feedback from customers is great for staff morale and is fabulous free marketing for a brand.

Social media also offers an insight into the mind of customers, an insight which can be used to plan strategies, competitions, new products and more.

The Drum recently offered some more top tips for using social media as a customer enquiry channel.

One thing everyone agrees on: no brand should ignore social media and the power it has to persuade new or repeat custom. A bad experience or even worse, no experience via social media, could lose a customer for life.

To talk about what your business could gain from social media, why not give Refresh PR a call?

Tagged with: customer service, Facebook, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations North West, Social Media, Twitter

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Social media in the spotlight - and top tips from Refresh PR



It’s a big week for social media.  Just two days ago Twitter’s Tony Wang was forced to issue an apology over vile tweets sent by its users, and tonight Channel 4’s Dispatches ‘Celebs, Brands and Fake Fans’ will add even more fuel to the fire. 

 

The Dispatches team describes tonight’s hour long programme as an undercover investigation into the real vs the not-so-real ‘in the brave new online world’.  It will go on to expose ‘new tricks used by marketeers’ to promote brands, such as the purchase of likes, follows, connections and views in order to boost awareness.

 

While buying likes isn’t a new concept to anyone close to the industry, most PRs will have a strong opinion on the issue.  What’s unclear is why this should be given air time now, when this strategy has been used by some in the marketing world for years?  Perhaps due to articles rumbling in the Indian press recently? But on the other hand, if highlighting it can enable more brand managers, MDs and marketing directors (hopefully) to get to grips with what’s really important about social media, let’s bring it to the table.

 

Social media isn’t going to go away, after all, to a whole generation this is the norm.  It will only evolve and change, faster than communication channels have ever changed before.  So to brand owners, the issue is now about how (not if) a brand chooses to use social media, and the true value it brings as a result.

 

Social media as a PR tool

 

As a PR consultant, I’m firmly (and naturally) in the camp which says that social media sits under the PR umbrella, not with the marketing/advertising/sales function.  It’s not about buying ‘likes’ or a hard sell – it never has been.   

 

Rather, social media is another tool in our kit which helps brands to engage with customers.  It works as part of a PR campaign and can help to boost awareness, reinforce (or change) perception and get closer to customers.  It also provides real value, delivering instant insight that’s never previously been available in this format, on a channel that’s more open and honest than ever before.

 

So, social media is about engagement.  Simple.  It is about creating a brand personality through the production of relevant content that the target audience wants to follow, then using it in a way which involves the audience in order to gain credibility and grow.  It’s also a key tool for customer service.  It’s why well-trained, hard-working social media community managers are employed to watch, manage, update and react.   The more a brand engages with its audience, the more responsive the audience will be.  Trust is earned, personality communicated, and ultimately brand loyalty sought.  Sophie Barton, PR and social media manager for Ann Summers, writes all about building a relationship and creating engagement within the social community in today’s The Drum – it’s worth a read.

 

Regardless of the reasons for setting up a social media account, long gone (and short lived at that) are the days when brands crudely determined the success of a campaign solely on the number of ‘likes’ or ‘views’ gained.  Our clients certainly work with us to set out a strategy for engagement, determine how the success of it will be measured, and then we get on with it.  And getting on with it often means a lot of hard work; fans and followers worth having don’t appear over night, they have to be attracted to a brand on social media to deem it worthy of a ‘like’ or ‘follow’. 

 

And quite right too. 

 

So, while to many of us in the industry this is certainly not a ‘new world’ as Dispatches claims, it will be interesting to see how the British public receives the programme.  I’ll await the Sky News press preview at 11.30pm – after I’ve already read 2.5 hours’ worth of Tweets and Facebook posts full of opinion and comment on the programme.

 

Try the below tips to help your brand really engage credibly with your audience

 

1.      Choose the right channel for your brand.  It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach – different channels can help to achieve different results

2.      Know your target audience – and know why

a.      Know why you are targeting these people.  Why is social media a better way to reach the audience than another communication channel such as magazines, newspapers or radio?  Make sure you are using social media for the right reasons

b.      Analyse who you want to target – then ensure the community manager (and anyone else with access to the account) has this in mind ahead of every update post

c.      Review your audience regularly – who is following, has it changed, does it consist of more or less of your target audience than before?

d.      Apply common sense – if your target is a new mum, posts during a baby’s mid-morning kip would be better than posts at meal times.  If your target is a teenager, posts before or after-school will gain more engagement

3.      Think about what you want your audience to do when they read a post:

a.      Talk back to you?

b.      Go to your website?

c.      Walk to a shop and purchase a product in-store?

d.      Simply know you’re there to listen if required?

e.      Share your news?

f.       Think more positively about your brand?

All of the above influence what you will post, how you post it and how you measure the response.

4.      Keep it simple.  Use clear messaging and easy-to-read updates

5.      Offer something – and this doesn’t need to be a prize.  It could be knowledge or breaking news

6.      Don’t post too frequently – consider what’s acceptable to your audience and respect that

 

For more information about social media and using it as part of a PR strategy, contact Refresh PR on 0161 871 1188, or even better, talk to us @RefreshPR.  For more measurement information visit Social Media Examiner.

 

Tagged with: Channel 4, Dispatches, Facebook, Manchester, North West , opinion, PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, PR North West, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Social Media, Social Media Manchester, Twitter

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IS WI-FI ON THE MENU?



“How will you cope?”

That was the main question I was asked when I announced to the rest of the Refresh PR team that I wouldn’t be taking my mobile phone on holiday. In fact, that was the question most of my friends asked me too.

Despite the fact that I am always found within millimetres of my iPhone when I’m at home, for the past five years I have left my phone turned off and in the UK when travelling abroad.

I do this for a number of reasons:

1.       Surprisingly, it is nice to have a break from: texting, whatsapping, imessaging, tweeting, facebooking and instagramming – after all I do this all day every day, so why would I want to do it on holiday?

2.       I find that I actually enjoy myself more by not having my phone glued to my hand and I’m not worried about losing it, damaging it or having it stolen

3.       As an aside, I think  people will like me more for it, as it saves me from boring my contacts to death with holiday photos and updates

4.       Crucially, it means that I don’t run up extremely high phone bills and roaming charges too

However, this year for the first time, I realised how much we really have come to depend on the smartphone.

To begin, it didn’t occur to me to take a watch on holiday in order to be able to tell the time as I always rely on my laptop or mobile to do that for me. As a result, I spent most of the week living life in the dark ages, trying to use the position of the sun as some kind of guide.

I also realised how much I rely on social media and apps to provide me with the latest news. It wasn’t until Monday lunchtime that I found out that Andy Murray had become the first British man to win Wimbledon in over 77 years. How did I find out? By reading the front page of The Sun of course!

Now, as you can imagine the friends that I went on holiday with most definitely did not leave their phones at home and were glued to them throughout the week. Rachel phoned home on a number of occasions in order to speak to her dog! Meanwhile Natalie and Nikki were busy uploading photos to Facebook and Twitter.

In fact, such was their need to go on Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp, we could only eat at restaurants that had free Wi-Fi! Their desperate need to connect to the internet meant that they asked for the Wi-Fi code before even looking at the menu.

All I can say is that I am quite relieved that Kate Middleton didn’t go into labour during the past seven days, as I would have been a bit disappointed if I had missed that.

Tagged with: Andy Murray, Facebook, Holiday, Instagram, iPhone, Kate Middleton, Leisure, Manchester, PR, PR Agency Manchester, Public Relations, Refresh PR, Smartphone, Social Media, The Sun, Twitter, Whatsapp, Wimbledon

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Tweets turn up the heat on mainstream media



For as long as I’ve been on Twitter (and it’s been a while), I have wanted to write a blog about the site’s hypnotic pull on people’s curiosity.

The foundation of its success stems from the short, sharp bites of news that are easily consumed (or disregarded) by followers. Although very frustrating at times, the 140 character curse, as some people refer to it, is in fact a blessing in disguise.

What Twitter seems to have grasped that Facebook hasn’t, is if you give someone a limited amount of space, they’ll get straight to the point. Granted, it won’t always be thrilling, and you may have to sift through posts about your friend’s lunch choices, but in general the premise does work. The ‘what I’m doing now’ notion seems to have lost its way on Facebook recently. In my opinion, the share button has become an invitation to pollute newsfeeds with endless amounts of friendship quotes and animal abuse awareness – neither of which I enjoy over lunch to be honest. I’m pretty sure Facebook wanted it to mimic the RT function that Twitter has successfully established, but it’s fast becoming an annoying burden to a lot of users.

Facebook’s spiral from ‘social’ to ‘spam’ has left the door open for Twitter to capitalise on the hordes of news hungry folk searching for the latest on current affairs, celebrity gossip and global trends.

If you’re a regular user of Twitter you’ll know the fastest way to access any breaking news is to check your newsfeed – not a credible, mainstream news website. The reason for this? There are many factors, not least the journalists’ ability to tweet live from ‘the scene’ and on the go. There’s no waiting around for the online team to upload it to the web, and it’s a great tool for brand awareness of course.

If you were critical, you’d think the bigwigs at the mainstream news channels would be twitchy about reporters and journos speaking directly to the public without edits, but in fact it’s a sure-fire way of gaining exclusivity and staying ahead of the competition. Not only that, working in the industry myself, it seems the mechanic of Twitter has restored the old school investigative journalistic values that have been lost in recent years due to budget restrictions.

A great example of this is Manchester’s local newspaper, the Manchester Evening News. Always a credible source for breaking news, the M.E.N was quick to spring into action when the city centre was rocked by a bomb scare in February this year. As Refresh PR is based in Piccadilly Gardens (one street away from the suspicious package), it was vital that we kept up-to-date with the changing developments. The paper’s journalists, who were at the scene, fast became the number one source for local businesses, residents and the wider media. Our decision to evacuate the building came directly from the advice of one particular M.E.N journalist on Twitter – powerful stuff, eh?

Whether you buy into the hype or not, one thing is for sure - Twitter is gaining pace and seems to be ahead of Facebook in predicting what its audience wants next. It should be an interesting year ahead for the social site, as Facebook announces plans to integrate the hashtag into its user interface. Only time will tell how that’ll work out, but no one likes a copycat, Zuckerberg!  

Want to hear more of my musings? Follow me @GemmaC_PR.

 

Tagged with: , Facebook, Manchester, North West , PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Social Media, Twitter

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Refresh PR launches video as part of campaign for client OTONE Audio



Our client, speakers brand OTONE AUDIO, has been exhibiting at the Gadget Show Live 2013 this week. We have worked with them to create a cheeky film asking the show’s gadget loving crowd how it likes to relax and let loose... We got some pretty funny responses! Check out the video here:

Tagged with: , Birmingham, Facebook, Home Interest, Leisure, Manchester, NEC. Gadget Show Live, Otone Audio, PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Retail, Social Media, Twitter, YouYube

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Go go Gadget Show Live 2013



Apologies for the bad Inspector Gadget pun.

Here at Refresh we are looking forward to our trip to the Gadget Show Live 2013 next week, taking place at Birmingham’s NEC.

We’ll be heading down to the show with our client Otone who’ll be launching its new, powerful soundbar and two spaceship-style speaker docks (come and check them out, and you’ll know what we mean!).

As well as the cool new products, Otone will be showing off its full range of existing speakers to technology enthusiasts, professionals and journalists at the show.

One guest we’re especially excited to meet is Youtube sensation and gadget enthusiast Mr Thai Box, who’ll be popping along to check out Otone’s new products so he can feature them in his video blog.

Be aware, our film crew will be working their way around the NEC looking for volunteers for a video project (don’t worry we won’t be asking you to sing. We’re not searching for the next Rebecca Black. One is enough!).

Also the Otone ‘big o’ (cheeky) will be at the stand with our promo girls. Guests who pose with the O are automatically entered into our exclusive Otone competitions for free products and more!

And of course we’ll be keeping an eye out for celebrity guests. Along with The Gadget Show’s presenters (see picture of Jason Bradbury on stand), last year’s special surprise guest was 50 Cent (someone we’d definitely let take us to the candy shop).

There’ll be updates, sneak peeks and competition winner announcements from Otone throughout the event so pay attention to their Twitter and Facebook pages.

The Gadget Show Live starts on the 2nd April. If you’re going make sure to say hi, we’ve giveaways and freebies on offer all week.

Check out Otone's site for more information on their products and The Gadget Show Live:  www.otoneaudio.co.uk

Tagged with: Birmingham NEC, Facebook, Jason Bradbury, Lifestyle, North West , PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Social Media, The Gadget Show, Twitter

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Facebook starts work on using Twitter style hashtags



Until now, the hashtag has mostly been the preserve of Twitter, however a report in the Wall Street Journal says Facebook is working on adding hashtag use to the site. Posts by users would be grouped by hashtag into personalised newspapers.

 

For example, if tonight we’re all talking about the Rovers Return burning down (will Sunita burn!?), then Facebook would create a special update listing everyone’s posts together.

 

However, it wouldn’t be just your friends who’d see your posts. In a drive to make Facebook more and more public, the entire network of users would appear on a hashtag post unless you changed your privacy settings.

 

It began its move towards more public facing content when it added the subscribe option to each member’s page. This option allowed people to follow selected posts without being friends with them. Celebrities including Victoria Beckham and Jessica Alba were quick to pick up on this feature.

 

Facebook and Twitter are already fierce rivals, and Facebook hopes to increase its lead by adding this element to the site, although it will be quite a while until this feature is added.

 

Personally, I’m not thrilled by the idea – isn’t Facebook about sharing things with family and friends?

 

In other hashtag news, Will.I.Am has released his latest single, a duet with Justin Bieber called #thatpower. Our opinion: #epicfail

Tagged with: Coronation Street, Facebook, hashtags, Jessica Alba, Justin Bieber, Manchester, North West , PR Agency Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Social Media, Twitter, Victoria Beckham, Will.I.Am

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Instagram's New Work-Around Makes It More Twitter-Friendly



Remember when Instagram used to let its users easily find their Twitter friends and mention their handles in their photos?

 

That was until Twitter began cracking down on which third-party apps and clients it would allow to use its application programming interface (API). Of course it wasn’t long before photo-sharing giant Instagram, owned by Facebook (Twitter’s social media rival) was left out in the cold.

 

These changes meant that new Instagram users could no longer add all their Twitter followers with one button. It also made sharing a photo to Twitter and "@mentioning" someone whose Twitter username was different from their Instagram username cumbersome.

 

However on October 19, Instagram announced that it had made changes that ‘will make sharing to Twitter more seamless’ on its blog.

 

But how will this work? Well:

If the @mentioned user has connected Instagram to Twitter:

 

  • The user’s Instagram username will appear in the photo caption.
  • The user’s Twitter username will appear in the tweet.

If the @mentioned user has not connected Instagram to Twitter:

 

  • The user’s Instagram username will appear in the photo caption.
  • The @ sign will be removed from the username when shared to Twitter.

What does this mean for those of us who work in PR? Well, for one, it shows that Instagram isn't content being an insular, photo-network smartphone app—it wants its users to integrate with Twitter as much as possible. This is also good news for brands and users that want to spread their Instagram photos far and wide.

Moving forward, it's safe to assume that Facebook's integration with Instagram will be more seamless, considering Facebook is its owner.

 

However, there will probably be a few more scuffles between Instagram and Twitter, as the photo network tries to further tap into Twitter's user-base.

 

 

Tagged with: , API, Facebook, Instagram, PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Refresh PR, Social Media, Twitter

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The Facebook Generation



In the week where Facebook gained its one billionth user and subsequently cemented both itself and creator Mark Zuckerberg in the history books, I was creating a new profile of my own as a Junior Account Executive at Refresh PR.

Having graduated from the University of Salford in July of this year, I had spent the last few months tirelessly applying for jobs and seeking working experience opportunities in what is a highly competitive market, thanks to the recession and the rise in youth unemployment.

Many people are beginning to question whether a university education is worthwhile following the recent hike in tuition fees and given that only a handful of my friends have gone on to find full time work in their chosen sector after completing university, who could blame them?  However for anyone who needs reminding of the importance of a university education they need look no further than Facebook itself for inspiration.

In the 2010 film The Social Network, a movie adaptation of the ‘Facebook Story’, we discover that the foundations of Facebook were created whilst Zuckerberg was studying at Harvard University.

The link between Zuckerberg’s success and a university education isn’t merely coincidental. Well, at least I don’t think so.

University gives you the opportunity to further your knowledge and gain a greater understanding about what really interests you. It gives you the foundations to be able to pursue a career in something that you grow to feel passionate about. Nevertheless it is important to point out that graduating from university does not automatically give you the right to a job or success.

Instead , rather more importantly, it is the friendships that we form and the connections that we make that ultimately influence our futures, especially for those who choose to study any of the creative industries.

If I were to give any advice to someone looking to break into Public Relations (in fact this is advice that works for most industries) I would firstly recommend studying a degree that encourages you to take a placement year where you can gain valuable experience from working within the industry.

However if, like me, you weren’t informed to make that decision I would urge you to make the most of every opportunity. When your lecturers tell you that work experience and making ‘contacts’ is important, they aren’t lying.  Whether that be taking advantage of networking events, promoting yourself via social media or creating a good reputation for yourself as a result of a work experience placement, it is all about using your initiative and being confident in your own abilities to make those opportunities really count.

As much as I would like to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, who was a billionaire by the age of twenty-three I must add, the reality is that being successful on that scale only happens for a handful of us...

It does of course depend on what you qualify as being a success. Twelve months ago I would have jumped at the chance to work for a PR Agency that has been shortlisted for CIPR North West’s Outstanding Small Consultancy 2012 and look what happened!

Cue Facebook status update.

Why not check out Refresh PR on Facebook here:http://www.facebook.com/RefreshPR

Tagged with: CIPR , Facebook, Graduates, Manchester, North West , PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Social Media, The Social Network, University, University of Salford, Work Experience, Youth Unemployment

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Horns at the ready, fingers steady – it’s the end of an era as legend Chris Moyles exits Radio One



Chris Moyles: Officially my saviour!

 

Its 2004, I’ve been in my first ‘real’ job for four years and struggling to get out of bed in the mornings.  Then Chris Moyles arrives on my airwaves.

 

I do remember breakfasts with Zoe Ball and Sara Cox…vaguely.  I will remember The Chris Moyles Show forever. 

 

I like Chris Moyles because he has an opinion about everything, and everyone has an opinion about him.  Whether good or bad, he polarises the nation.  I like that.  He’s not afraid to say what he thinks, even if it’s not the popular opinion of the day.  When Refresh PR was established we said we’d stay true to our roots, commit to clients long-term and also be honest with our clients – whether this was the popular thing to do or not.  These values are important to us all, and perhaps that’s why I enjoy the breakfast show so much.  He is definitely honest, northern and frankly, I find him funny. 

 

I’m not a mornings person, I never will be.  But waking up from a deep sleep to hear Moyles ranting about a lack of pay (I remember cringing at that one), how he needs to go back to bed, his traumas with his trainer at the gym or the footie result the night before really does help me crawl out of my pit.  He gets excited when he meets celebs – he’s just like the rest of us!  And he dares to see how far he can push them.

 

But it’s how he’s evolved the show over the past eight+ years that’s amazing.  Eight years in the same job is impressive, particularly in the job he’s in.  Truth be told, The Chris Moyles Show has seen me through four jobs, and while they have all shaped my career massively, that’s four jobs that I’ve had while he’s got up week in, week out pre-6am to deliver my morning entertainment.

 

When he’s off on holiday I find myself resenting his need for a break while watching BBC Breakfast then listening to the iPod on the way to work.  So this Sunday night will mark a milestone in my life as I move my tuning dial on the radio over to Mike and Chelsea on Manchester’s Key 103, which could be a big benefactor of the BBC’s decision to get rid of Moyles here in Manchester.  After all, where are eight million listeners who love the chat show-style broadcast meant to move their allegiance to?  Chris Evans?!?  Or will they stick with Nick Grimshaw, who’s been given the remit of attracting a younger audience to the show (aka the online generation with playlists on Spotify and iTunes that they particularly like to listen to…?).  Ideas below please, what will you be listening to?

 

No more McFly Day, no more parodies, no more cheesy songs, no more Monday Night Pub Quiz, no more golden hour and I’m not sure Christmas 2012 will be the same without the annual fix of Dominic the Donkey. Perhaps the only good things is that I may be able to judge the time of the morning from on-time news bulletins from now on – and maybe make my early train.

 

If I had to pick one moment, my outstanding memory is the radio marathon show for Comic Relief.  An absolute epic, raising well over £2m for charity and producing some must see red button TV.   I’m sure that even after 52 hours he didn’t want to get off air.  And that’s what will make Friday’s show tough.  Fearne Cotton will have the onerous task of shutting him off our airwaves indefinitely.  Good, some may say.  For me, I need him (in fact the TEAM) back on air.  I’m following on twitter @chrismoylesshow (he cleverly kept his own feed when the BBC started to push @BBCR1), liking on Facebook, and I’m waiting with baited breath for some announcement…

 

I’m sure he’ll be great in Jesus Christ Superstar, but Chris & Co need to get back to doing what they are brilliant at: entertaining a waking nation.  Whatever station, I don’t care.  Please!!  

 

Tagged with: Celebrity, Comic Relief, Facebook, Manchester, PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Radio campaign, Twitter

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Facebook Timeline for brands - the countdown is on!



Facebook currently boasts more than 800 million active users and almost 3.5 million brand pages - pretty impressive hey! Today Facebook revealed several updates regarding Facebook Timeline. Now, unless you have been walking round with your eyes shut and your fingers in your ears for the last couple of months, it has been pretty hard to avoid the discussions about Facebook Timeline.

Most of us will be familiar with Timeline on our own profiles but what will the change mean for brands? Timeline for brands offers new options for self-expression. Brands have the opportunity to showcase stunning photographs and videos and really grab attention - the saying ‘A picture paints a thousand words’ rings true.

 

Timeline for brands offers new options for self- expression, check out the pages below - a ‘how they might look’ from mashable:

Mashable and Facebook Brands image

The main profile picture across the top (cover photo) can bring a distinctive edge to a page and can be changed whenever you so wish. Timeline also allows a brand to feature a story for up to a week at the top of the page by ‘pinning’ it to the page. Administrators can access a log detailing page activity which includes tools to easily highlight, hide or delete posts and change the date of posts.

 

Timeline enables brands to have more meaningful interactions with social audiences which is key. For example Nike, and its Nike+ technology, gives an insight into when people are running and where they are running. Nike can then share running courses with fans in their home town/city or even recommend places nearby for a recharge post-run.

 

It’s now more important than ever before to seed relevant newsworthy content to fans, after all the whole point of Facebook for brands is to encourage customers to engage, share content and interact with a brand, isn’t it? Only time will tell what it really means for brands, we’ll be sure to keep a close eye on all the developments!

 

Check out some brands that are already up and running with the new Timeline, our recommendations are Manchester City, Red Bull, Louis Vuitton and Radio 1.

 

I personally love the new lay out, it’s more creative – it reminds me of a blog-style layout - plus it’s interesting and for brands on Facebook I think it is opening up a completely new and creative way of engaging with fans.

 

Sources; Mashable, Forbes .com

Tagged with: F-Commerce, Facebook, Manchester, North West , PR, Public Relations

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Refresh PR at Marketing Week Live - Day 2



It’s the post you’ve all been waiting for – the second instalment from Refresh PR’s trip to Marketing Week Live. Here are the highlights from Day 2:

The biggest opportunities in online marketing have been identified as:

·         Mobile platforms – the popularity of accessing web pages via smart phones continues to snowball, so make sure your website works on screens of all sizes or better yet, develop a mobile version of your site  

·         Cloud hosting – enables companies to expand and contract their storage quickly and easily, to accommodate a surge in web traffic as a result of an offer or sale, for example

·         Using social media to create new products and help make business decisions – your fans and followers should already be a captive audience, so use them as a focus group

·         Putting customers at the centre of campaigns - as we saw from our blog about Day 1, this can generate some really engaging, unique content

·         Near field comms integration – touch technology like that advertised by Barclaycard is expected to be scaled up to adverts, so rather than scanning a QR code, people simply need to hold their phones next to an advert for it come to life on their phones or take them directly to the relevant page on a website

·         Learning from social gaming – and boy is there a lot to be learned! Social games allow audiences huge levels of control over their product, enabling them to sculpt it into something they want to play and share. It’s time to let go…

 

And the biggest challenges we’re facing are:

·         Regulation changes on cookies at EU level – this will have a massive impact on affiliate sites as this is how they measure results. It also means that as consumers, it’ll impact on retailers’ knowledge of our buying decisions

·         Managing data and security – customers increasingly need reassuring about this as previously impenetrable organisations such as Sony continue to fall foul of hackers

·         Facebook acting as a gatekeeper for your content – while we’re big fans of Facebook and what it can do for businesses, it’s becoming more and more commonplace for this social behemoth to insist on businesses doing things it’s way. In a similar way to Google affecting how websites are being built and subsequently optimised, Facebook is essentially controlling how businesses can and can’t communicate with their customers, and this is only set to escalate

·         Thinking like a customer – all too often, companies think like companies when they undertake social media activity, rather than thinking like their customers. This simple change in mindset will help determine what info customers would like to receive, how often, via which medium, in which tone of voice etc

We hope you found this post useful. If you have any questions or would like more information on PR and social media campaigns, contact info@refreshpr.co.uk or call 0161 212 1695 for a chat.

Tagged with: F-Commerce, Facebook, Marketing, PR, Public Relations, social games, social gaming

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Facebook - how much is too much?



The Chris Moyles Show Facebook page broke yesterday. And when I say broke, I mean spammed fans’ news feeds with 400 updates in one afternoon. Not cool.

Unsurprisingly, many people stopped ‘liking’ the page to try and clear their news feeds to make room for their friends’ status updates, which saw the page’s fans drop alarmingly. This got us thinking, when it comes to Facebook for business, how much do fans really want to be interacted with? As long as the content’s great – that is new, relevant, interesting – does frequency actually matter?

Research by experts such as Dan Zarella tells us that yes, it does. According to Zarella, posting once every other day should be enough to keep fans engaged without annoying them. And engagement is what it’s all about. Given that Facebook’s default news feed setting is ‘Top News’ and most people don’t change this to ‘Most Recent,’ it’s crucial that fans are commenting on or liking a company’s posts if you want these to appear in fans’ news feeds, so keep them short, and ask questions.

With other social media experts recommending three posts a day, though, how do you know who to believe? The best advice we can give is to know your audience. Your brand may have a small but highly engaged Facebook following, who are happy to interact with you daily, or even a few times a day. Others may be interested, but less engaged, and will want to hear your news and views more sporadically. Unfortunately there are no quick fixes to getting to know your audience and what’s right for them, but we can guarantee they’ll appreciate being asked how often they want to hear from you. As long as you listen to them…

The Chris Moyles team redeemed themselves pretty well this morning, in the end. I was quite shocked to hear them shamelessly begging the fans that had deserted them yesterday to come back, but they rewarded them for doing so in a clever way. Those who ‘re-liked’ the page this morning got to hear their names in the place of ‘Barbara Streisand’ in a Chris Moyles parody of Duck Sauce’s dance track of the same name. It worked a treat – the ‘likes’ were rocketing as people clamoured to get their names read out on the radio. Great PR move, and a valuable lesson learned!

 

Tagged with: Facebook, PR

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Skype / video chat on Facebook – coming soon!



The Refresh PR team loves Facebook for so many different reasons, none more so than because it’s constantly changing, evolving and a company that can truly say it’s innovating.  Today Facebook announced three major changes which will begin rolling out immediately to everyone's accounts.

 

The changes are based on a sound grounding too. Since it was developed, social networking has been about connecting people together and this will continue – Facebook knows that its users will grow and grow (it’s now up to 750 MILLION users).  In addition, it doesn’t see the value of measuring the number of users either, in fact what is instead important is the number of people who are interacting on Facebook, and how they interact.

 

Facebook knows we like to share things.  Four billion things are shared on Facebook every day.  We are now sharing twice as much information on Facebook as we did this time last year.....so if Facebook provides us with new ways to share things, will we share even more?  Of course we will!!

 

So what’s new?

 

GROUP CHAT:  Half of all Facebook users are a member of a Group, whether it’s a Group planning someone’s birthday, or something bigger.  The average number of people in a Group is seven – people like Groups as it makes it easy to organise an event or chat to close friends privately.

 

To make it easy to communicate with several different people at the same time, rather than having to start a Group, we are now going to be able to do this through chat.  On the chat tab, with one click, we will all be able to select several people to add to a conversation and message them all instantly – at the moment we can only chat to one person at a time.  Everyone selected will see the chat thread instantly and those offline will receive a summary of the conversation when they log in.  This begins rolling out today so watch out for it soon.

 

NEW DESIGN FOR CHAT: Chat is one of the most loved features on Facebook with billions of messages being sent each day.  The new design will take into account browser size and show all friends - together with the ones who are chatted to most often (so not just those online) - making it quicker to strike up a conversation.  The new design will also have space for more features which will be announced in the near future.

 

VIDEO CALLING:  The most exciting development (in our opinion)!  Facebook has teamed up with Skype and video calling will now be possible on Facebook.  Think about the implications for this:

1.       You’re already connected to your friends – you don’t need to find out their Skype username

2.       You’re already on Facebook so in just one click you can call a friend

3.       You don’t need to log out of Facebook or go elsewhere to contact a friend...they’ve got you hooked!

4.       It connects immediately

5.       It’s easy, simple and almost anyone can use it, from teens to silver surfers

This is a massive development.  Users will be able get to video calling via any of their friends' profile pages or via a button on the chat tab.  The plug-in needed takes 20 seconds to download...so no big software downloads are necessary.  It’s not available on mobile devices yet, but watch this space.

 

Skype already sees 300 million minutes of video calls per month and this will take it into the billions.  Quickly.  Skype says it’s ready and is already thinking about new products that it can bring to market on Facebook.

 

The changes won’t happen overnight, but what Facebook does know is that it will help us to share even more information over the social network than ever before, helping it to grow as the ‘social eco system’ it aims to be.  And there are many more apps and partnerships to come.  So it seems we’ll be sharing at least twice as much information this time next year again, if not more. 

 

If you’re on Skype will you switch and just use Facebook from now on?  If you see the changes, let us know what you think. 

 

 

Tagged with: F-Commerce, Facebook, Marketing, PR, Public Relations

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Refresh PR at Marketing Week Live 2011



Marketing Week Live is taking place at Olympia today (29th July) and tomorrow.  Refresh PR has been at the conference, paying paRefresh PR at Marketing Week Liverticular attention to the online marketing show, and picked up some gems that we thought we’d share with you.

 

Unexpectedly, a lot of the talk today has been about social media, with audiences during these talks packed in – in fact it was standing room only at some.   It’s a popular subject and people want to be bang up to date with the latest knowledge.  The main messages coming out have been no surprise,but they are still worth thinking about:

 

 

1. It’s important to be clear on the purpose of the social media activity: why are you doing it, who are you targeting and what do you want it to achieve?   How does the social media activity integrate with the other marketing activity being undertaken by your organisation?

 

2. Don’t be scared of interacting with your community online, and don’t limit them.  Share your brand with them and give them the ability to help develop and shape your brand.  This will increase buy in, as seen with The Lynx Fallen Angels adverts which aired earlier this year, fronted by Kelly Brook (see

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnvjqjG7ezU).  Lynx sent a brief to creatives and gave them the chance to shape how the campaign would look.  The company found that, amongst others, a graffiti artist come back with some fantastic designs that wouldn't otherwise have been used.  A skateboarder who had always wanted to do something different replied to the brief too, showing off his engraved skateboard.  Usually he would not have had the chance to show off his skill or contribute, but this gave him a chance to do so.  With this extra input, Lynx was able to built a campaign beyond anything they would have done themselves.  Lynx kept a record of this work through photos and videos (see the skateboards here: http://www.lynxeffect.com/uk/home/blog/2011/03/02/the-lynx-excite-fallen-angel-skateboard-decks-have-arrived/), which helped bring the Lynx audience closer to the brand, making them feel involved and at the same time generating more buzz around the brand - oh, and more online content too.

 Refresh PR visited Marketing Week Live 2011

3. Remember, you can't force people say good things about your brand, but when they do you can give them something back in return.  A good example here is GiftGaff (http://giffgaff.com/), which rewards existing customers with great discounts if they recommend the company to new customers.  A lot of the company’s new customers are coming through this word of mouth online recommendation, so much so it’s considered a top sales stream.

 

4. Social media activity can be the responsibility of many different people and departments within a company, from the marketing and PR teams to customer services.  Everyone who has a touchpoint with social media must be briefed on the company’s policy, etiquette, limitations and guidelines/best practice.  Without training and being aware of a company’s stance, how will they understand the full implication of what could be, for them, an innocent tweet about an off-day in the office?   Don’t assume everyone knows what you know.

 

5. A ‘crisis’ or a negative comment about your brand can’t always be managed in the way it traditionally has been.  It’s virtually impossible to control and ring fence a story due to the speed it travels around a global audience.  Companies must give more thought to managing social media. Who monitors it over the weekends and in the evenings, what do they do if a negative comment does appear and how can it be an opportunity to turn things around?  Companies must have a plan in place before they start to grow on any social channel.    In addition, at what point do the alarm bells start to ring – how many RTs or @replies will be considered tolerable before a brand acts on comments to ensure they don’t escalate – and how will a company handle such an event?  Having parameters in place helps everyone involved understand and manage the situation a lot better.

 

6. Measurement of social media is a hotly debated issue, although no one had a firm solution at today’s show.  How does a company measure social media success and the ROI from a campaign?  When a marketing manager walks into the board room to report on monthly marketing spend, how do they justify work on a twitter feed to the board?  Sentiment monitoring and engagement has been around for a while now - but when a board wants to hear the effect on the bottom line, how can this be made tangible?   Not all companies know what success looks like before they start a social media campaign.

 Refresh PR at Marketing Week Live 2011

7. Lastly, we picked up some tips on how to keep an online conversation going:

a.       Allow conversations to continue and flow – don’t cut comments off

b.       Engage different communities across different channels - speak with everyone, even if they wouldn’t be considered your traditional target audience, and spread yourself across these audiences too

c.       Ensure all channels are working together, for example on the BBC Magazine Facebook page fans can sign up to the BBC newsletter.  This works well so fans don’t navigate away from the page

d.       Trust your consumers – give them the opportunity to talk about your brand and be honest.  They are a good sounding board and all feedback is useful – if it is negative, use this to make improvements and show them that you have listened

e.       Make a lot of small bets – the team behind the Lynx Fallen Angels campaign started off with one big campaign idea and some smaller ones.  It turned out that some of the smaller (and cheaper!) ideas were the ones that had the most success.  It’s okay to hedge your bets and watch how things roll out

 

Zoe will be at Marketing Week Live tomorrow so watch out for another report with tips from Day 2.  Contact info@refreshpr.co.uk or call 0161 212 1695 for more information about social media campaigns.

 

 

Tagged with: Facebook, Networking Event, PR, Public Relations

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Royal Wedding fever hits Refresh PR



Ok, I’ll admit it: I’ve caught the Royal Wedding bug. Big time.

I honestly didn’t think I’d get swept along in the national excitement in the lead up to the big day, but whether it’s because we get an extra holiday, because Kate Middleton is a becoming the epitome of a style icon before our eyes, or because all the Royal Wedding merchandise flooding the high street and online stores is so wonderfully kitsch, I can’t seem to get enough of it.

 

I also have a lot to thank the Royal Wedding for; Refresh PR’s clients are thriving as a result of the event that’s captured hearts the world over. Online retailer www.find-me-a-gift.co.uk has seen sales soar as people prepare for post-War style street parties with streams of bunting, flags, commemorative kitchen and homewares, and even some rather fetching Kate and Wills masks (modelled here by my good self and the lovely Laura):

 

The national papers have really got into the swing of things, adorning their pages with fabulously patriotic merchandise. www.find-me-a-gift.co.uk’s Royal Family Celebrity Masks have gone down particularly well with journalists at Grazia, the Daily Mirror and The Sun, and we’re hoping the This Morning sofa will soon be sporting a Union Jack cushion. And with The Royal Collection launching a Royal Wedding app – “the only app one needs” apparently – even our phones aren’t safe from infectious Royal Wedding excitement.

Another of Refresh PR’s clients, Photolink Creative Group, has also been able to make the most of the ever-burgeoning popularity of our future princess, producing video tutorials for its high fashion hair salon client, Regis, on how to get Kate Middleton hair. And what self-respecting young lady wouldn’t want Kate Middleton hair?

http://www.haveagreathairday.co.uk/2011/04/kate-middleton-hair-royal-wedding/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUcoWpkcXJE&feature=player_embedded

So, how will you be spending the day on 29th April? Are you avoiding the Royal Wedding at all costs, or street partying with the best of them? From a PR point of view, the Refresh PR team is really looking forward to the BBC’s clever take on covering the ceremony – they’re going to be filming at Grazia’s offices to capture the live reaction of a newsroom and its journalists as the day unfolds. I for one can’t wait!

Tagged with: bunting, Celebrity, Daily Mirror, Facebook, Gifts, Grazia, Kate Middleton, merchandise, patriotic, PR, Prince William, Royal Wedding, The Sun

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Embracing social without becoming completely anti-social?



I’ve had a few reasons to go home to my parent’s house recently and every time I reach the driveway, I reach for my BlackBerry with dread before walking to the door.  Without fail, within 30 minutes I’m guaranteed to get asked “Will you please put that phone down?”

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being rude, just diligently checking Facebook, twitter and the blog – and those of our clients too.  Okay, it’s a little anti-social, but at a recent networking event I was faced with a statement of fact from the speaker: In a few years the ‘phone’ function of our phones will become incidental and we will realise the ambitions of those who have been banging the drum for social media for decades.  The speaker was right – the phone will quickly become one small part of a beloved handheld device that offers us so much potential and access to the world. 

 

Trying to explain this to the folks is another matter entirely – even Facebook has (fortunately, some would say!) evaded their home entirely.  Yet currently around 40 per cent of mobiles in the UK are smartphones – I’m not on my own here.   I think it’s a shame that they are missing out on something that is gathering pace at incredible speed. Gowalla, Foursquare and Facebook Locations could provide them with some amazing instant voucher deals for their favourite local restaurants soon – and Groupon and Chiconomise would be fantastic for offers for them.  And introducing them to these sites via the computer in their office just isn’t the same, in the world of instant information it doesn’t work like this!

 

Rant over, it’s actually my old fave Facebook that is really interesting me at the moment – this week www.Asos.com will launch its first store inside Facebook, allowing customers to buy its entire range from within the social network – so it’s a matter of months before this development in shopping becomes the norm.  Farmville and other social gaming apps continue to grow, creating direct revenue via Facebook credits which could reach over $1 billion in the next year.  Who knows the potential, even in the next six months, for this social network with over 600 million users worldwide? ‘F-Commerce’ – I love this term, although I’m not sure my bank balance is about to.

 

And with the advent of the tablet, from the IPad 2 which should launch later this year to other android-based devices, manufacturers are continuing to push the boundaries of life as we know it.  Predictions show that well over 50 million tablets will be sold by 2015.

 

The challenge in my work life is to keep ahead of developments, to apply these to work with clients and Refresh PR and make sure we capitalise on the exciting developments coming in the next few years.  The challenge in my home life is to help my parents become part of this phenomenon – mum’s already spending hours at a time on her DS since new games championed by the lovely Mr & Mrs Redknapp arrived under the tree this Christmas.  So, teaching them (and myself too it would seem) to become social while not becoming completely anti-social in the process will be an interesting one.    

 

It’s going to be a busy year!

 

 

 

Tagged with: F-Commerce, Facebook, Foursquare , Groupon, North West , PR, Public Relations, Silver Surfers

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Everyone’s talking about it...and that’s Corrie, not EastEnders



As Coronation Street pulls in massive viewing figures (14.6m for the ‘tram crash’ episode) and reports in the media suggest advertisers are paying more than £100k per advertisement during the live episode due to screen tonight (9th December) Refresh PR has been looking at the 50th Birthday celebrations and, quite frankly, admiring the PR effort that’s gone in to providing the nation with news stories that have spanned six months and are still not tiring.

 

The sheer volume of news stories generated by the Coronation Street press team is staggering – it’s been difficult to open a newspaper, supplement or glossy over the past few months without seeing news of a story line, a feature or an interview with a star of the Street. The news angles have been well thought out and placed with target audiences and readerships in mind, and the fact that the press team has been able to bring old faves like Betty Driver and Julie Goodyear out of retirement to support the media effort speaks volumes for the team atmosphere at ITV.

 

It brought a smile to my face when I heard Chelsea on Key 103’s breakfast show speaking non-stop about the 50th birthday and to see the Manchester Evening News produce a special edition of the Weatherfield Gazette shows what can be done when a PR team works carefully with the local media as well as with national journalists.  It’s fantastic that our local media in Manchester are supporting a national institution! 

 

Combined with ‘crash’ news reports on ITV Granada, a Facebook game (Corrie Nation - think Farmville but less annoying) and constant trending on twitter this week, the PR has well and truly embraced all forms of media.  It’s a great campaign with tremendous attention to detail which has kept many media contacts happy and ensured the soap has got everyone talking – none more so than the Refresh PR team!  Well done everyone!

 

Tagged with: Coronation Street, Facebook, PR, Public Relations

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Refresh PR takes the panic out of Manic Monday for www.Find-Me-A-Gift.co.uk



Those of you working in the retail and gift industries will know that today, Monday 29th November, is ‘Manic Monday’ – the day when the great British public  all log on to do their Christmas shopping online, with sales peaking at a staggering £22.4 million per hour. One of Refresh PR’s clients, online gift retailer www.find-me-a-gift.co.uk is definitely experiencing the mania today, with unprecedented demand on its newly-revamped website, particularly for its Paper Jamz interactive electronic instruments, http://www.find-me-a-gift.co.uk/music-toys-paper-jamz-toy-guitar.html, and its cult Slankets (blankets with sleeves) http://www.find-me-a-gift.co.uk/zebra-slankets-fleece-blanket-with-sleeves-zebra-print-slankets.html. The find-me-a-gift team is busy processing over 400 orders an hour from its Leamington Spa HQ, and it really is all hands on deck as this will equate to around 10,000 orders in a single day.

Keen to maximise every opportunity for our clients, we were straight on the phones this morning, pitching the company’s MD in as a spokesperson for radio stations and newspapers running stories on Manic Monday. We’ve even come to the rescue on Twitter and Facebook, recommending thoughtful Christmas presents for the company’s fans and followers struggling to buy for fussy friends and family. It’s all going down a treat so far – the client has completed live interviews on BBC Radio (click here to listen – it’s at 2 hours 12 minutes in: http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/p00c9m8z/) and comment pieces for the biggest newspapers in its region. Knowing that we’ve got the PR covered has definitely allowed www.find-me-a-gift.co.uk to concentrate on the most important thing about Manic Monday: delivering on all those orders and watching the Christmas takings soar!

Tagged with: Facebook, Gifts, PR, Public Relations, Retail