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It’s all just politics



With a youth turnout of up to 72 per cent in last week’s election, head of consumer, Caroline Gibson explores what it was that engaged these millennials

 

 

At the age of 30 I can just about, at a push, squeeze myself into the millennial category – a demographic marketers and politicians alike are desperate to engage with.

 

As millennials, we rarely have brand loyalty, as there are so many to choose from and we often don’t respond to advertising messages – again, because we are bombarded with them. But when a brand does cut through and connect with us, then we can be really powerful.

 

We’re powerful because we share every aspect of our lives, we’re not afraid to tell our friends, followers and anyone else willing to listen what we’re doing, where we’re doing it and how great our life choices are. Social media is part and parcel of our day-to-day lives, nothing goes undocumented, which means when a millennial is loyal to your brand we are instantly a very powerful advocate.

 

With so much early confusion over the results of this week’s election, one outcome is clear. Today’s youth are re-engaged with politics. With 72 per cent of 18 – 24 year olds making their way to polls yesterday, we’ve seen a shift from previous elections, where roughly 40 per cent made their voice heard.

 

So what is it that caused this shift? Is it that news is so much more accessible to young people now – gaining access to an endless source of articles and manifestos at the touch of a button? With many newspapers having their own political agenda, the voting public, including millennials, no longer just have these as their source of information. Even social media helps to shape a person’s political alliances, as more and more people are expressing their views on the various channels.

 

Or is it lessons learnt from Brexit – where younger people were more likely to vote remain, but had the result go against them? When the results were announced a huge amount of coverage was given to the age demographic voting split. This example of not having our voice heard, could have spurred millennials to fight even harder for what they believe in this time around.

 

Or could it be that we simply care more today about the country we live in? With so much negativity in the press and the world around us – from political uncertainty and job shortages to terrorism and global warming – there has never before been a time when all of this is so front of mind, due to the endless sources of information. This information gives us a better understanding of the world we live in and how politics impacts this, meaning everyone, including millennials are naturally more engaged.

 

Or perhaps it’s just the millions of fantastic political memes floating around the internet – who knows? But what I do know is that we, as a generation, need to keep it up and have our voices heard, regardless of who we’re voting for.

Well done millennials – we did good!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: Manchester, opinion, Politics, Public Relations, voting

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Marketing Status: It’s Complicated



 

 

Marketing, like any industry, is constantly changing and evolving. As new technologies and trends emerge and consumers’ expectations change, marketing professionals are constantly looking for innovative and creative ways to engage with the target market.

But recently, it seems that these professionals may be overthinking things, when they could be keeping it very simple.

Take for example Dove’s recent body shape bottles. Are these needed? Are they wanted? Are they a waste of NPD time and marketing spend? The majority of people online seem to think the latter.

I personally don’t want to have to pick a bottle of moisturiser based on what body shape I am. I want to get something that works and is effective – regardless of whether I am pear, apple or any other fruit.

In my opinion it seems that in trying so hard to convey a message and support real women, Dove has gone too far.  Online feedback to the new packaging is that it’s tried to be too clever and has ultimately overcomplicated things.

However, in recent weeks we have also seen a brilliant example of marketing at its simplest, and ultimately finest.  Designer, Dave Blackhurst, was asked to create a club poster for a local pub – which he did in the most basic and cost-effective, but genius of ways.

Blackhurst simply printed the Whatsapp conversation between himself and the pub’s owner, discussing the design request. It contained all the relevant information, presented in a way the target audience recognises and most importantly, it stood out. So much so the poster went viral –lazy.

As PR and marketing professionals it’s key that we explore ways to utilise any new technology and trends without losing sight of how our target audience consumes its media. We need to evolve while keeping it simple.  

 

Tagged with: Marketing, opinion, Public Relations

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Scrutinising the Autumn Statement



Against the backdrop of Brexit, today’s Autumn Statement was much anticipated. Ahead of its announcement, the predicted impact of the EU Referendum result, “JAMs” - those “just about managing”- and infrastructure were all hot topics.

So, what did Philip Hammond actually cover and were there any surprises?

As expected, there were no grand giveaways, but a clearer picture of the nation’s economic future was painted. With borrowing up, growth down and a £122bn black hole caused by Brexit, the Chancellor’s statement focused on the long-term future of the UK, its economic interests and, crucially in a post-referendum world, how the Government plans to keep Britain as the “number one destination for business”.

Alongside its renewed pledges to cut corporation tax, productivity and infrastructure were cornerstones of the Chancellor’s statement. To illustrate the need to invest, Hammond used the analogy that “it takes a German worker four days to produce what we make in five; which means, in turn, that too many British workers work longer hours for lower pay than their counterparts.”

With more than £1bn ringfenced for digital infrastructure and the Government also offering business rate relief on new fibre infrastructure from April 2017, small businesses and those in rural locations will benefit, making them more competitive in an increasingly globalised market.

While the £1.1bn extra investment in local transport networks is a positive step, it actually only represents 0.08% of GDP and still leaves us lagging behind other developed nations when it comes to spending on infrastructure. If an industrial strategy is to be delivered successfully, it needs significantly more financial investment and a focus on how we address the skills shortage in the built environment sector.

One of the most important announcements came in relation to the Northern Powerhouse, so much so that it was trending on Twitter throughout the statement announcement.

£1.8bn will come from the Local Growth Fund to English regions, giving businesses outside of the capital a financial boost. The North has been allocated £556m, with the aim to improve productivity and infrastructure to support the Northern Powerhouse strategy. While the investment is positive and fits into the long-term strategy to reduce the gap between London and northern cities, it’s important to note that infrastructure investment remains low as a percentage of GDP.

There was good news for the construction industry, with a pledge to invest a further £1.4bn to deliver 40,000 additional affordable homes and a £2.3bn Housing Infrastructure Fund, which aims to unlock land over the coming years. With more and more people struggling to get on to the housing ladder, this has been welcomed by many, while also giving a boost to businesses operating in the housing sector.

So, what is the verdict overall?

For business, there are some real positives, particularly from an investment and innovation point of view. Boosting productivity and improving infrastructure could help to protect the UK’s long-term growth ambitions and, crucially, raise the standard of living for millions.

However, at the same time, the skills shortage in the construction sector remains and needs addressing urgently, while pressure on public services could ultimately undo any of proactive, business-centric policies. With two thirds of NHS trusts reporting deficits, the Government cannot ignore the failing health of our health service for much longer.

It will take time to see the results from this latest round of announcements, particularly those around infrastructure, but one thing is for sure, there will be some bumps in the road to economic recovery.

 

Tagged with: Autumn Statement, Brexit, Built Environment, Construction, Housebuilding, Infrastructure, opinion, Politics, Productivity

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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