Archives For PR

We’ve been in the business of anthropomorphising Brands for a while now. We talk about expressing the ‘Brand personality’. We ensure our Brand has values. We get very serious about this stuff, we call them ‘core values’. We spend a lot of time asking people to engage with our Brand. We help facilitate relationships with our Brand. But then we get jealous and appoint ourselves Brand Guardians. In short, we’ve been treating Brands as people and making their wellbeing our professional responsibility,

Shouldn’t we stop for a moment and ask our Brands if they’re happy?

I got to thinking about the mental health of Brands while attending a talk by UK psychologist Oliver James, who appeared at the Singapore Writers Festival* earlier this week.

James used his ‘meet the author’ talk to discuss what it might take (assuming it’s remotely possible in the first place) for an individual, family or even a society to be genuinely happy. By way of background, James coined the phrase Affluenza, wrote the parenting guide “How Not to F*** Them Up”, and is now advocating ‘Lovebombing’ – giving your child complete control (and emotional support) for 48 hours as a way of re-setting their emotional thermostat. As a speaker, he’s an acquired taste, but his insights were eminently applicable and grounded in fairly deep science.

brands, mental health, happiness

Not happy.

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While discussing childhood, parenting, materialism and the impending collapse of the economic system, he also offered some insight into the ‘dark triad’ of CEOs and other business leaders. Reassuringly, your boss is composed of equal parts psychopathy, narcissism and machiavellianism (and I imagine a lot of heads are nodding out there while reading along).

After dissecting all the things that make everyone so miserable (parents, work, materialism, Tony Blair), James summed up by offering a really useful and interesting checklist of the traits of mentally healthy people.

Here’s Oliver James’ recipe for happiness:

1. Living in the present

2.  Two-way communication (knowing when to listen and when to assert your voice)

3. Insight (understanding how your childhood affects your adulthood) and empathy (understanding how you are perceived by and affect others)

4. Playfulness (child-like wonder and enthusiasm)

5. Vivacity and vitality (these are not the same as hyperactivity)

6. Authenticity (which, importantly, is not the same as sincerity)

So if we roll with the metaphor of Brand-as-personality for a moment, we could probably take this recipe and use it help us nurture ‘mentally healthy’ or happy Brands. That is, Brands that people want to engage with and form a relationship with.

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brands, people, personality

We demand that almost everything has to have personality.

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The 6 things happy, mentally healthy Brands do:

(with apologies to Oliver James)

1. They live in the here and now: forget globally-centralised, 3-year brand strategies, happy brands live where you do and react to the same environment and times that you and I are living in.

In practice: agencies that are run more like newsrooms, global strategy with local input and real-time marketing.

2. They listen as often as they speak: set and forget broadcast models show brands have a ‘tin ear’. Listening for insights, alert for trends and reactive to change, Happy Brands also know when to assert their voice and have the self-confidence to make their opinions and presence felt.

In practice: social listening, empowered staff and a well-defined scope of expertise that your Brand can offer as a ‘gift of knowledge’.

3. They understand their heritage and their sphere of influence: Nike and athletics, Volvo and safety, IBM and technology. Happy Brands don’t deny they were shaped by their childhood, and they use that to their advantage. Constant, fashion-driven re-invention displays a lack of maturity. In practical terms: operating within a Brand’s wheelhouse and realising when a scenario is not appropriate for them to be present (Kenneth Cole, we’re looking at you). These narcissistic brands believe they are  always the main character in their own story.

In practice: take the time to understand your Brand’s original raison d’être and then update that for the here and now.

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skywhale, playful, happiness.

When playful things happen on a grand scale.

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4. They embrace play as a valid form of expression: Healthy, happy brands have a lot in common with human kids – they regard creative play as their ‘work’. Google’s ever-changing, often playful homepage is a perfect example. Taking yourself too seriously demonstrates a lack of self-awareness in humans and Brands, limiting themselves to only themselves as atopic, often behave the same way.

In practice: loosen up on the ROI metric-a-thon and provide a way for your fans to use your Brand to express something they enjoy. If you are accused of ‘just playing around’ – you may well be doin’ it right.

5. They show vivacity and vitality: Being unafraid to display bursts of unbridled enthusiasm (red bull let a guy fall from space) and also passion is a very appealing trait. When this passion is a passion shared with the audience, the Brand starts to feel like it is part of a tribe – it believes in the same things as we do. Instead, many Brands see themselves as the tribe, which we can only join via purchase.

In practice: create brand experiences and service that contribute in a useful, meaningful and helpful way. Re-consider the hyperactive ‘content factory’ approach that is merely evidence of industry.

6. They value (and practice) authenticity: When Oliver James explained that this was not the same as sincerity he illustrated his point with the example of Tony Blair, who was sincere in his admission that he knew Iraq did not have WMDs when he authorised military action. James believes Blair used his sincerity (“I sincerely believed it was the right thing to do”) as way of apologising for his lack of authenticity (“I knew I didn’t have the proof I needed, so I made it up”).

The practical corollary for bands here is in the field of PR and crisis management, where authenticity is going to be seen as more forgivable for a Brand than manufactured or self-serving sincerity.

The challenge now is for agencies to adapt their structure and their Operating Systems to be more ‘parental’ and less managerial. A happy brand is one that people want to hang out with and that has to be agencies’ number one objective, right kids?

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About the Author: Barrie Seppings blogs about making things better – for clients, brands, agencies and humans. He is currently Regional Creative Director at Ogilvy Singapore and he likes boards surf, skate and snow. Follow him on the Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, or add him on Google+

About the images: all photographs used with the permission of Martin Ollman Photography. Contact Martin directly for rights and commissions.

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* I really have to take a moment to declare that I found the Singapore Writer’s Festival, on the whole, to be a pretty frustrating experience. It’s not a brand I’m ready to have a relationship with.

Using social listening and direct communications to profile individuals and identify opportunities.

This one is a bit tricky, but if you can execute it, your sales peeps will love you forever. Essentially, this exercise starts after an individual has registered and is an attempt to profile, segment and quantify their potential in some way so the selling conversation can start the moment they walk in the door. There are 2 ways to go about this: proactive and reactive.

Let’s talk about the second one first. Reactive profiling is just like stalking, only you can do it from the safety of your own desk, without the possibility of getting arrested. Take the information that an attendee has provided on their registration form and then add to it all the information you can find, freely and publicly available, on the internet. You may discover more about that person’s current role from their LinkedIn profile. You might learn which other competing events they have recently attended from their twitter account. Their opinions of brands and products (including yours) might be flowing freely in an online forum, or on the comments thread of a series of articles or reviews on a trade site.

Play detective, and you can learn a lot about someone’s experiences and opinions regarding your brand. Incidentally, this kind of work can still be given to the intern, provided they’re whip-smart and willing to learn.

b2b, events, social, profiling

It can be time-consuming, but you can create quite detailed individual profiles from publicly-accessible information.

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Proactive profiling has the same intent, except you ask the attendee in advance to share this information with you – probably at the point of registration. Some will, some won’t. But you can improve your strike rate by constructing a compelling value proposition for the individual – a benefit or an offer or an advantage that can only be accessed by sharing their social profiles.

Ultimately, the point of profiling is to analyse the data to do some scoring and segmentation, so you can identify your best prospects as they walk in the door (real or virtual) of your event. Work with your sales team to build a simple scoring mechanism – allocate points based on job title, previous roles, experience with competitors, opinions expressed and so on. Edit the info into easy-to-read one-sheeters and present a face-book (as its name suggests, it includes pictures) of top prospects back to the sales leads who will be working the event. This is probably the best example of the ‘digital lift’ you can give a live event, by taking intelligence gathered online and applying it to your (offline) live event.

This is the fifth instalment of the series: 10 ways to leverage digital for better B2B events. We recently ran an audit of the various tactics, strategies and recommendations we’ve developed @ Ogilvy for using digital to improve the live event experience (for the audience) and performance (for the marketer) – this advice is a summary of what we found to be true and useful.

< Previously in this series: #4 How to make shareable pre-event content    

> Up next in this series: #6 How to encourage referrals 

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About the Author: Barrie Seppings blogs about making things better – for clients, brands, agencies and humans. He is currently Regional Creative Director at Ogilvy Singapore and he likes boards surf, skate and snow. Follow him on the Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, or add him on Google+

About the images: all photographs used with the permission of Martin Ollman Photography. Contact Martin directly for rights and commissions.

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Generating and distributing pre-event promos and ‘warm-up’ content.

Okay, this is where you start to blur the line between what is content and what is promotion. Which can be fun, because you can start to think less like a marketer and more like a network television exec putting a big game to air. What previews and ‘sneak peeks’ can I release? Can I get some pre-game commentary? Some predictions? Can I do review of the season, or run a stats package on the main players?

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b2b, events, audience, social, content

Your audience is easily distracted – use ‘teaser’ content to build anticipation

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Events generally come together over time, so why not consider releasing details as they are confirmed – such as speakers, notable attendees, sponsors, partners and exhibitors. In classic Direct Marketing language, these all present opportunities to get in touch with your prospects with some ‘new news’, maintaining awareness and building relevance.

If you’ve already got some interest from your influencers, consider including them as talent, offering them a chance to give their views and opinions on the upcoming event.

Again, think bite-sized. A couple of lines. A 60-word summary. A provocative question. An image, or a small photo gallery. Lots of links. And a video or two if that’s within your means.

This is the fourth installment of the series: 10 ways to leverage digital for better B2B eventsWe recently ran an audit of the various tactics, strategies and recommendations we’ve developed @ Ogilvy for using digital to improve the live event experience (for the audience) and performance (for the marketer) – this advice is a summary of what we found to be true and useful.

< Previously in this series: #3 How to re-boot the EPK for ‘social’   

> Up next in this series: #5 How to profile & segment attendees 

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About the Author: Barrie Seppings blogs about making things better – for clients, brands, agencies and humans. He is currently Regional Creative Director at Ogilvy Singapore and he likes boards surf, skate and snow. Follow him on the Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, or add him on Google+

About the images: all photographs used with the permission of Martin Ollman Photography. Contact Martin directly for rights and commissions.

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Just like influencers and outreach, the Electronic Press Kit is a PR-based concept that needs to be tweaked a little for social media.

Where traditional Press Kits were designed to be published, the guiding principle for socially-adept Press Kits is ‘designed to be shared’. So think about how to break the information down into shareable chunks, suitable for popular social media platforms that your influencers may be using. Microblogging services such as Weibo and Twitter require, as their names suggest, micro pieces of content: sometimes as short as 140 characters. Vine and Instagram’s video service are built on clips as short as 6 seconds duration.

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b2b, events, digital, press kit

Whatever your content, format-wise it has to be ready to go.

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So think bite-sized. A couple of lines. A 60-word summary.
A provocative question. An image, or a small photo gallery. And links, lots of links.

Speaking of links, a useful addition to the Kit is a custom shortened URL that can mask and re-direct much longer URLs. Services like bit.ly and tinyURL not only condense and customise longer links, they also provide some fairly robust tracking and reporting, so you can see where your traffic is coming from and going to.

This is the third installment of the series: 10 ways to leverage digital for better B2B eventsWe recently ran an audit of the various tactics, strategies and recommendations we’ve developed @ Ogilvy for using digital to improve the live event experience (for the audience) and performance (for the marketer) – this advice is a summary of what we found to be true and useful.

< Previously in this series: #2 How to identify influencers & manage outreach         

> Up next in this series: #4: How to create shareable pre-event content  

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About the Author: Barrie Seppings blogs about making things better – for clients, brands, agencies and humans. He is currently Regional Creative Director at Ogilvy Singapore and he likes boards surf, skate and snow. Follow him on the Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, or add him on Google+

About the images: all photographs used with the permission of Martin Ollman Photography. Contact Martin directly for rights and commissions.

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