23 May 2013
With Wimbledon just around the corner (bring on the
champers, strawberries and close-ups of Nadal in his
little white shorts!), it was interesting to read today about
the tennis championship's new social media strategy (in partnership
with digital agency SimplyZesty) which this year
includes Twitter's 'Magic Mirror'.
First used at the
Oscars earlier this year, the Mirror will give tennis fans (and
fellow Nadal pervs like me) the chance to see photos from behind
the scenes of the All England Lawn Tennis Club. The Mirror
will be placed where only players can access it and, once the photo
has been taken, the images will automatically be posted on
Wimbledon's official Twitter account (@Wimbledon), accompanied by the hashtags
#TwitterMirror and #Wimbledon.
It's very cool to see such a traditional event embracing
technology - and particularly social media - in this way. My
only concern is how I'm going to get any work done during Wimbledon
fortnight…live streaming on my PC, big screens showing the key
matches in the @OctopusComms office
and now photos of the world's best players on Twitter!
Perhaps I'd better book the fortnight off?!
| Leave comment
Amid the huge media attention this week around Microsoft's major
launch of its XBox One, (and Sony's hints at the imminent
PS4), an announcement from Twitter appears to have gone rather
under the radar, despite it being a massively important move for
consumers in social media spaces.
The announcement was Twitter launching its Lead Generation Cards, a functionality that
could see it truly own the customer for brands online and off.
The Cards will act as single-click ways for consumers to
register an interest in a product, special offer or service either
pre, during, or post launch and is a great example of thinking
backward from the consumer experience to app functionality.
Instead of coming up with a solution which works best for the
brands, Twitter has created a simple process which works best for
the punter, (and for businesses alike - it is so simple it could be
translated to the b2b space easily).
Lead Generation Cards also demonstrate the importance of
synchronising different portals and steps in the lead-gen world;
tweets with special offers or sign-up options will have an
expandable button the user can click on, and then register an
interest for, with Twitter taking care of all personal (email,
name) details by using those registered to the account.
If you compare this to trying to convert Facebook 'likes',
(themselves not necessarily a confirmed interest in buying a
product), into a direct sales lead, it's incredibly simple for both
the brand and the consumer.
The Cards could - and no doubt will - take off, and provide a
great route for brands to turn engagement into sales online, a true
It also demonstrates how Twitter might finally have worked out
how to monetise its popularity - and may even see it extend its
phenomenal reach further, by signing up consumers keen to get
bespoke promotions from brands rather than engagement, Twitter's
current basis. A cunning development indeed.
, Twitter | Leave comment
21 May 2013
In the world of PR where we live and breathe the spoken and
written word, I seem to spend a lot of time looking at pictures,
usually in a powerpoint document. Hours, no, YEARS of my life have
been spent putting together campaign proposals and review documents
and while the pictures vary from happy, engaged looking workers
through to wind turbines, some stay the same.
The hallowed signs of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are now a
must-have on any integrated project but the truth is, they cause
something of an issue for me. What's the point in spending ages
finding the perfect, colourful, vibrant and powerful images for
your presentation when your social media section can only be
described as, well, a little blue?
Actually, make that a lot of blue. When you think about it, the
vast majority of internet and technology brand logos are blue -
facebook, Intel, Wordpress, LinkedIn, Twitter, Outlook, Window's
Explorer, HP, Samsung, Dell, Paypal, the list goes on and on.
But what does this mean?
Going by gender stereotypes, is the internet a man?
Is the use of blue meant to trick us into thinking we are
staring at a calm, serene ocean rather than a million or more
pixels on a screen?
Could it be that boy band Blue had a more lasting effect than
any of us ever believed possible?
It seems that blue is the colour of progress, innovation, trust,
communication and sharing, clarity and efficiency which says two
things to me:
1) We should expect to see a whole
lot more blue branding as web-based companies continue to burst
onto our screens
2) The internet surely cannot be a
Only kidding! For a more eloquent account of why the web
is blue, take a look at this rather marvellous interactive infographic called
the Coolness of Blue in Web Design and if you are a
brand, ask yourself this: what does your blue say about you?
| 1 comment
17 May 2013
Two Octopedes discuss recent news stories, and how twitter
impacted their respective reach…
Carolann: Stars Wars fans across the country will, I'm
sure, be very excited that the latest edition of the sci-fi fantasy
series is to be filmed right here in Britain.
I can't say I've ever got that in to it (although I did enjoy
Guy 'Blue Harvest' parody), but what got my
interest was the fact that this
news was announced by Chancellor George Osborne… on Twitter.
Even more interestingly, he posted the news at 9.50pm on a
Friday night, which must have played havoc with the TV news teams
getting ready to air 10 minutes later! What I think it shows though
is the shift in where we get our news from.
More and more people are getting their news updates from social
media sites like Twitter and Facebook simply because the
rapid nature of them means that events can be reported on as they
For instance, I first heard about the death of Margaret Thatcher
on Twitter and then continued to hear about every Tom, Dick and
Harry's opinion on it through the same channel so that I didn't
need to read any articles or see any news coverage to know what
everyone was saying on the subject.
Of course, that doesn't mean there isn't still value in
traditional journalism but as we move to an increasingly digital,
social world I wonder how this will change in the future?
Alvin: Meanwhile, last week, official news
reached twitter of Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement as the manager of
Manchester United football club, after 26 years at the
Within just eight minutes Man Utd's press office tweet of "Sir
Alex Ferguson retires
#thankyousiralex" became the No 1 global trend, receiving
100,000 mentions within one hour. When I read this figure for the
first time, I thought that my eyesight had worsened (even more)
According to data collected by Twitter,
Margaret Thatcher's death saw a million tweets in the following
four hours. Sir Alex broke that, easily. Within the first hour of
the initial tweet going live, the announcement reached heights of
an astonishing 1.4m interactions, maths might not be my strong
point but even I can work that out to be almost 400 tweets per
Even as an Arsenal fan, I appreciate the career that Sir Alex
Ferguson has forged, and I am in no way surprised at the sheer
volume of people that interacted with this recent news. Thatcher
and Ferguson are both icons for various reasons, but I believe more
noise was made about Sir Alex's retirement due to the younger
generation's presence on social media.
Thought that was impressive?
The announcement of the choice of
Jorge Mario Bergoglio to be the new pope earlier this year
received substantially more mentions than Thatcher and Ferguson
combined! Over 7m tweets were written which, in the words of Charles Arthur,
"that while football may be a religion for many, it still has a
little way to catch up with the officially recognised ones, at
least on social media."
OBVIOUSLY, the majority of people realise the positives of using
social media, for business and social use, I merely wanted to
educate the few out there who sit on the fence, to the
insurmountable reach of Twitter.
, ferguson | Leave comment
David Beckham's retirement from football has
featured in the main headlines of every newspaper and news bulletin
you'll have seen or heard since yesterday afternoon.
But the one that really stood out for me was the front page of
The Sun newspaper - this is the sort of advertising and brand
association that companies would pay a fortune for, and it poses
the question as to whether Becks (the brewers) is celebrating the best
free publicity of all time or whether this was a carefully
engineered brand partnership?
| Leave comment
10 May 2013
An interesting story caught my eye last week concerning British
heavy metal legends Iron
Maiden. I have something of a soft spot for 'the Irons', they
were the first band I ever went to see, it was Wolverhampton Civic Hall
and I was 14 - and whilst my taste in music may have mellowed a
little since then, I still keep a passing eye on what the old boys
are up to. This story however, didn't concern their last touring
schedule, album release, or even their music at all. It was in fact
to do with beer. Iron Maiden announced that it has sold out of
pre-orders of its first ever beer "Trooper" and
Cheshire-based family brewer Robinsons is now brewing three batches
a day for the first time in its 175-year history to meet demand.
The Sun, over a quarter of a million pints have been pre-sold
in the UK alone ahead of the May 9 release and over 100 countries
have applied to stock the cask ale.
This immediately struck me as genius! In an industry where your
core commodity is increasingly worth less - in this instance
albums, singles and other traditional music sales - it makes
perfect business sense to diversify into other products which your
current customer - i.e. Iron Maiden fans - will be interested in
buying. Iron Maiden has nothing to do with the alcoholic drinks
business but it only took a little creative marketing thinking to
diversify the brand into this new product area. Marketing 101! (and
great PR too).
So this got me thinking, with nearly 40 years in the music
business and a brand that is currently stronger than ever, what
other business and marketing lessons can we learn from Iron
1. Timing is everything
In 1990 Iron Maiden had their first and only UK number one
single, the BBC-banned song 'Bring Your
Daughter… to the Slaughter'. The band - aptly - released the
single alongside Cliff
Richard's 'Saviour's Day' for the 1990 Christmas No. 1, but due
to not being officially released until the week after Christmas it
knocked The Peter Pan of Pop off the number one slot in the
following week and went straight to No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart
on 5th January 1991.
In a world before X Factor had Christmas number one sown up in
November, everyone wanted to be
Christmas number one , so all the big bands and artists would
go head-to-head for the honour, nobody in their right mind released
a single in the week after Christmas. Therefore statistically this
was the easiest week in the year to secure number one with the
lowest number of sales - so that's what Iron Maiden did.
Lesson: Anticipate when you can make the biggest impact and
identify a period when you can galvanise your customer base to
2. Multi-task to cut costs
This top tip could also have been 'no job is beneath management'
or 'continuous investment pays dividends'.
In the 1990s lead singer Bruce
Dickinson trained to become a commercial airline pilot flying
Boeing 757s for UK charter airline
Astraeus. Since 2008 Dickinson has been the band's official
pilot for overseas tours. In a band that prides itself on running
cost-effective, lean tours, this is just one example of
'management' taking control and multi-tasking to cut costs.
How many UK MDs could cite such innovative examples of where
they have managed to reduce costs on their bottom line?
3. Your best talent could be anywhere - even in the
Of the current Iron Maiden line-up two-thirds have left the band
only to subsequently re-join at a later date. The line-up is
considered to be the strongest ever and key to the band's
resurgence in recent years.
So consider this, when a good member of staff leaves and heads
off to pastures new, do you leave on good terms and let them know
the door is always open for a return; or cut them off, never to be
given a further thought?
If it's the latter, then you might have lost a star employee not
just once… but twice.
4. Don't be afraid to test new markets
Costa Rica, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela and
India are not traditional countries that rock bands tour in. But in
the last 10 years Iron Maiden has been to all of them.
The message here is that if you want to grow, then you
have to keep finding a new audience, new customers and new markets
for your service or product. And if you're a little bit niche, then
you might just have to push the boundaries just a little bit
5. Relentlessly give your customers what they
Finally, if you have a loyal customer, never take them for
granted and continuously work at giving them a consistent product
that aligns with the core values they originally fell in love
Since 1975 Iron Maiden has played over 2000 live shows and
studio albums (plus a further 18 live and compilation albums) .
That's approaching one release per year for 38 years. Not many
software companies could attest to such work rate and
* Stats and references are taken from Wikipedia and from my
own encyclopaedic and mostly useless knowledge of classic rock
, marketing | Leave comment
09 May 2013
Working in the technology industry, we all like to feel that
we're pretty well clued-up on the latest trends and on the
predictions for future trends. Indeed, if all you do is check out
the Gartner / IDC / Forrester predictions at the start of each year
then you'll have a pretty well-informed idea of what's going to be
big in tech in the next 3-5 years.
With this in mind we've all probably had a moment when something
which started out as a long-term bet in an analyst report, suddenly
became common knowledge or parlance in everyday life. For example,
'cloud' used to be the preserve of just the IT and B2B tech mags
and conversations between CIO - then suddenly Apple launched iCloud
and now it's bandied around in mainstream advertising campaigns for
just about every major IT vendor you possibly think.
Or what about social media - once just the domain of tech-savvy,
switched-on individuals, suddenly your Mum wants to be your friend
on Facebook, your Dad's LinkingIn with you and Twitter is awash
with Z-list celebs being paid £££s for tweeting how much they love
certain brands of shampoo...
These are the moments when tech goes mainstream.
I had a similar moment last week with 3D printing.
3D printing is one of those technologies that just seems too
incredible to be true, a science fiction pipe dream that could
never be reality. Yet little by little over the last 5-10 years
we've seen incredible advancement in the technology, increased
sophistication in what can be achieved and - perhaps most
importantly - massive reduction in the cost the equipment. Then
before you know it… Raj and Howard from the Big Bang Theory (yes I
watch the Big Bang theory, let's just accept it and move on) are
printing 3D miniature action figures.
Then, as if featuring on a prime time TV show wasn't enough to
prove that 3D printing technology has gone mainstream, the news
that 3D printing has been used to print a working gun certainly did
the trick! BBC,
Guardian and 250+ other news sites have covered the story in
the last 48 hours. And that leads me to the ultimate golden rule of
whether tech has gone mainstream… Coverage in the Daily Mail -
Texas anarchist group fires world's first 3-D printed gun made
entirely from plastic that can pass through airport metal
It's now just a matter of time until your Mum starts printing
doilies and your Dad starts knocking up 3D garden gnomes in his
3D printing | 1 comment
07 May 2013
I've just read an interesting
article on the Guardian's website which really made me think
about the way we talk to people. The article focuses on the 'nudge
unit', aka cabinet office's behavioural insights team, which was
set up in 2010 in order to come up with suggestions about how to
effectively run the country better. For example, by bringing
psychology into the tax office, the nudge unit managed to find
solutions that make people more responsive to their tax returns.
My favourite example listed in the article is about how they
managed to crack the issue of the government's persistent failure
to persuade people to insulate their lofts. Apparently, for years
the government was offering people financial help to insulate their
lofts and failing. The nudge unit realised that it wasn't the money
that held people back; it was clutter in their lofts. So a trial
scheme was introduced where people were offered not subsidised
insulation, but subsidised loft clearance on the condition that
they got the space insulated afterwards. The scheme was more
costly, but people loved it, and uptake rates tripled.
Another fantastic example of how simple changes in the way we
communicate with people make huge differences was mentioned in the
interview with Professor Robert Cialdini, founder of the
organisation Influence and Work. When speaking to customers,
receptionists in an American restaurant were instructed to change
'Thank you for calling, please call if you have to cancel or change
your reservation' to 'Will you please call if you have to change or
cancel'. This simple change meant that amount of no-shows dropped
from 30% to 10%. Apparently, people prefer to follow the
commitments that they have made especially if they made them
01 May 2013
So, the challenge: how do you demonstrate what your company does
on the atomic level every single day, without getting too tied up
in the boring detail? If you're IBM, the answer is that you create the world's
first stop-frame animation using single atoms to create your
Let me repeat that in case it wasn't clear. IBM has created a
video by manipulating SINGLE ATOMS... as in… ATOMS.
Aside from being an incredible feat of engineering and science,
it's also a phenomenally visual PR stunt to demonstrate the
29 April 2013
I was having a little browse in a book shop in Reading on
Saturday and I noticed a book called
Life in Five Seconds: Over 200 Stories for Those With No Time
to Waste. The book described itself as 'being
about all of life (from famous people, historic moments and iconic
places to little everyday things like pizza) but with the useless
and boring parts stripped away'.
I have to say I was a little sceptical when I laid my eyes on
pages full of pictograms rather than short blocks of text but was
still drawn to the images. I soon realised that I was actually
really enjoying coming up with my own plot for important historic
The pictograms in the book are witty and provocative and I can
definitely see bringing it to a few dinner parties. I mean, who
wouldn't love a Pictionary session with a twist? I wonder if there
is a room for it in my work too.
How would my boss react if I prepared the next slide deck for a
new campaign idea in pictograms?
One thing that I did realise though is that it's worth giving
things a go even when I'm sceptical about them at first. There are
some really cool ways to engage with people - watch this space for
my next company meeting slide!
PR, , pictograms | Leave comment
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