13 September 2012
Having worked in several different sectors of PR I think I'm
justified in saying I've paid my dues. From dancing with a rapping
cow all day in a field, to nights in the office late enough to
justify ordering breakfast… I've been there; written the pitch. But
working on more taxing campaigns just makes it all the
sweeter when such great projects comes along. Cue Cisco's BIG Awards.
When we began work on the British Innovation Gateway
(BIG) campaign - Cisco's legacy piece as the Official Network
Infrastructure Supporter of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic
Games - we were clear on one point: we wanted to use Cisco's
position as an industry leader to inspire, discover and nurture
tech talent in the UK.
We live in a time of extraordinary technological advancement and
outstanding innovation. But there have been grumbles about how few
of the big ticket ideas come from the UK compared to our American
pals across the pond. We're a clever bunch, and Britain's
technology legacy is rich - the phone, the television, the WORLD
WIDE WEB - but there seems to be a limit sometimes to the level we
push ourselves to achieve. Tweetdeck, yes; Twitter, no. So what do
we do to bridge this gap?
We set out to find the unsung heroes of the UK tech scene by
launching a five year awards programme which tied into the wider
BIG campaign. The Cisco team was clear on one point when we began
planning the Cisco BIG Awards: a cash prize alone was not enough.
Feedback from SMEs over the years indicated that money is all well
and good, but without expert advice, mentoring and resources it
will only carry you so far. So Cisco lined up some tremendous
partners to help make the Cisco BIG Awards as beneficial to the
winner as possible - Bird & Bird, DNX and even us here at
Octopus will join Cisco to deliver legal, PR, digital and industry
mentoring, in addition to the cash prize.
The level of entry - as clichéd as it may sound - was
exceptional. This was compounded by Dragons' Den style
presentations by the six finalists last night at Cisco House. There
were some real 'oh I wish I'd thought of that' moments and the
judging panel - which included our very own Octopus MD, Jon Lonsdale - had a hard
task it must be said, but in the end three really stood out.
The winner in particular is AMAZING. Snap Fashion allows
users to search for clothing items via a visual search engine -
simply take a photograph of something you've seen or an item you
own and the app will scan more than 110 UK fashion retailers to
find a match. Impressive stuff. Runners up included Digital Shadows, a
clever cyber protection tool, and Six3, a very slick video
It's been a pleasure to work on this campaign and to meet all
the entrants - and we're excited to start working with Snap Fashion
very soon! With more projects like this, with more corporate buy in
and support, I'm sure the UK will be back on top of the tech map in
cisco, Technology, Innovation, London 2012, Olympics, Cisco BIG awards, SME, start-ups, Paralympics, Britain, UK, mentoring, fashion, Dragons' Den | 3 comments
19 June 2012
Here at Octopus we always encourage people to make sure
they have a healthy life / work balance and get to embrace their
hobbies and passions outside of the office.
Chris Owen, a
Senior Account Director at Octopus, has worked with Bletchley Park,
the home of the codebreakers in the Second World War, for a few
years now and has won industry awards for his work with them. He is
also a keen writer and was commissioned by Wired to write a feature
as part of the magazine's focus on Alan Turing around the legendary
mathematician's 100th birthday this week (Turing played
an integral role in the codebreaking at Bletchley Park).
Chris's piece is below - and there's another to follow later
Social networks, 24-hour news, consumer journalism and the
ability to share everything with everyone (and anything with
anyone), has created an insatiable desire for gossip and scandal.
Throughout the Leveson enquiry we've witnessed countless hidden
secrets unearthed and pored over by lawyers, media and the public.
In short, nothing is really secret any more. Alas, it wasn't always
During the Second World War, the manor at Bletchley Park -- once
a paragon of British architectural eccentricity (to put it kindly)
-- was home to not only the greatest collective secret in the
history of warfare, but the greatest example of secrecy being used
as an undefeatable weapon.
Bletchley Park was home to the code breakers, although "home"
belies the fact that throughout the war only one person remained a
permanent tenant. The thousands (at its peak it is estimated that
over 10,000 people worked at the Park) who travelled in and out
each day stayed nearby at billets in the various towns and
villages, or commuted in from the Oxbridge university towns which
provided many of the great minds which underpinned the
, Wired.co.uk | Leave comment
10 February 2012
Interactive team swung by Octopus comms HQ yesterday afternoon
for a Q&A session about how top tech PR agencies can work
better with their publications. The CBS Interactive roster includes
the likes of Silicon.com, ZDnet.co.uk and CNET.co.uk, so with all
these publications being relevant to a host of Octopus clients,
there was plenty to discuss…
This provided a great opportunity to learn first-hand what makes
these publications tick and Tony Hallett, the group publisher, gave
his top three tips for PRs looking to pitch to CBS Interactive
1. Pitching on a
Friday afternoon is ok!
Tony explained how readers still consume content on weekends!
There seems to be an urban myth in place at some PR agencies that
you should avoid pitching on Friday afternoons but there is a
growing trend amongst online publications to push out news beyond
the traditional Monday-Friday, 9-5 timescale. PRs shouldn't be
afraid to pick up the phone at 4pm on Friday afternoon as this is
the time journalists will be looking for weekend story leads and
2. Get to know their
Every PR has been there before - you spend five minutes pitching a
story to the journalist, only for them to say "I'll pass it onto my
colleague who covers that area." Save yourself the time (and
embarrassment) by spending a few minutes checking up on the kind of
areas they are writing about. It will get the pitch off to a good
start if you are talking to the correct journalist!
3. Show passion for
the clients you are representing:
Your enthusiasm will really come across when speaking to the
journalist on the phone. Journalists receive lots of calls/emails
each day from PRs so invest a little bit of time in your pitch and
think about why it is relevant to the journalist and why the story
will resonate with their audience. It will help your pitch stand
out from the crowd and the journalist will appreciate that you've
put some intelligence behind it instead of taking the easy option
and selling-in a generic press release.
PR, , tips, ZDNet, Silicon.com, CNet UK | Leave comment
When I finished my PR degree five years ago and stumbled
dazed and confused into my first agency role, I found AVE
(Advertising Value Equivalent) an odd concept.
After three years spent studying the theoretical side of PR and
debating its value as a management tool, I was surprised to find
that measurement was the responsibility of an account assistant
(me) with a ruler and some highlighter pens. It seemed too easy and
too amateurish to form the basis of reporting on the success of
such professional and complex campaigns - and it seems I'm not the
only one who thought so.
PR Week announced that its industry awards will no longer accept
AVEs as a method of measurement. The trade magazine explains
that this move "reflects the growing industry consensus that AVEs
are outdated and insufficient". Last year, the International
Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC)
conducted a five-month review of AVEs with the intention of finding
a replacement measurement tool. Prior to this, in July 2009 the
Central Office of Information (soon to become the Government
Communication Centre) undertook a project to create a set of
mandatory core standards for PR evaluation, signalling a move away
from using AVE in the public sector.
AVE measures the value of coverage generated by a PR campaign
simply by calculating the value of the column inches it achieves.
Some agencies then multiply that by three, an "accepted industry
standard" representing the increased integrity of editorial
coverage versus advertising. It's popular because it's
straightforward to work out and explain, and also because it looks
good! However, much of the controversy around the method stems from
one fatal flaw - PR is not advertising, so how can it be measured
in the same way? On top of this, it places no value on tone or
relevance, and is increasingly extraneous now that such a large
proportion of PR coverage appears online.
The problem of course is that to do away with AVE, we need to be
able to replace it. Entrants to the PR Week awards will almost
certainly look to measurements like reach, opportunities to see
(OTS) and frequency to demonstrate the success of their campaigns,
alongside qualitative measures such as favourability. Indeed these
are the tools recommended by the COI's Standardisation
of PR Evaluation Metric report.
However, the bottom line is that none of these measurement tools
do quite the same job as AVE - namely, providing a monetary value
which can be used to demonstrate return on investment. For many
clients, this is the measurement that matters, particularly if
their own management have only a top-line understanding of PR.
Until an equally simplistic measurement tool is developed, PRs have
little choice but to soldier on with AVE regardless of its many
How do you think PR value should be measured? Have you found a
suitable alternative to AVE yet?
Image courtesy of Matsuyuki's
photostream on Flickr
5050391853_483b7e81ca matsuyuki | 3 comments
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