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Content Collective: We’re Here And We’re Ready To Play

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Over the last few years, content has been having a bit of a moment. Everyone everywhere has been clamoring about how ‘content is king’ and how ‘branded journalism’ is the way forward.

And they’re right, it is. No brand can hope to survive the bear-pit of our modern social-media driven marketplace without spot-on, targeted, well-produced content.

The only problem with declaring that content is our future is that you might forget it’s also been our past. Yes, it’s just been living under different names, and in different places, but it’s still been living by the same rules.

Because at its essence, content is simply words or images that tell a story and give a message – be that branded content on social media, or traditional editorial content filling newspapers, magazines, TV. What the story or image is will vary, how it’s portrayed will vary, the motive behind why it’s produced will vary. But the end product is more or less the same: something solid and valid that people engage with.

The clichéd examples of great branded content are clichéd for a reason. Red Bull’s space freefall, Lego’s blockbuster movie, Net-a-Porter’s glossy magazine; stripped back to basics, it’s all just good stuff you really want to look at.

Of course, we’re not saying anything in branded content is basic. Far from it. Highly complex analytics and metrics are its lifeblood, sustaining it before, during and after its creation.

But what we are saying is that as the no one outside the creation process needs to know this.

Think of it like Roger Federer, the ultimate, world-beating sportsman who plays each stroke with such simplicity you forget the gut-wrenching struggle behind it.

Basically, this is how content needs to be – great and simple, but free from the labored process that enables it to be so great and simple.

To flog the odd, Wimbledon-themed horse a little bit more (don’t worry, it’s nearly done), we, FH UK ContentWorks, are getting ready for ‘content match point’. We’ve played all the other sets – working for years in every key area of content development; we’re equipped with the best rackets and balls – building expert, specialized processes of content production; and now we just have to score the winning point – creating cogent content the consumer loves as much as the client behind it.

This UK ContentWorks team is obviously only one small part of a much larger vision. In January, FleishmanHillard unveiled the ContentWorks network, a first–of-its-kind global content marketing offering customized to fit the unique communications needs of organizations while ensuring they stay true to their brands. In the words of John Estafanous, global lead of FleishmanHillard’s digital and social media practice, ContentWorks is where “seasoned account teams, content studio heads, creative directors and content officers execute and implement in rhythm with each client’s global news cycle.”

So we know we’re just one little part of a big and brilliant FH jigsaw, but we’re excited to make sure our ‘piece’ fits as perfectly as it can.

Over the last few months, our content capability has been building, growing and merging into one cohesive offering, where an extensive team of dedicated editors, copywriters, videographers and producers can now carry a client through every stage of the content lifecycle; analytics-based research, insightful strategy, process-led planning, editorial guidelines and management, and then, of course, content creation, the moment where we finally serve* up that ‘good stuff people really want to look at’.

(*Sorry).

Nel Staveley, Content Editor, Creative Strategy

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‘Give our Dad a Bone’. It’s That Simple

The Give our Dad a Bone campaign had no grand strategy, no planning meetings, timelines, deep insight or client brief, just one overriding – and life-saving – key message: join the bone marrow register. Sometimes it is that simple.

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And perhaps that’s why it has resonated far and wide. A campaign that started from the heart, it stands out for its simplicity, honesty and a single-minded objective.

After discovering that there was no one on UK registers who matched the tissue type of their father Rob Ireland, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma, his three daughters took to social media in the hope of tracking down a match. Launching their appeal across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, the Ireland family now has 40,000 followers from around the world. More importantly, their campaign has led to action.

While it’s far from the first time social media has been harnessed to find a donor, the sisters’ campaign has increased awareness of donating bone marrow and stem cells. It has also provided a welcome boost for charities such as Anthony Nolan, which saw 2,221 people register as a donor in the week the campaign launched, compared with just 998 the previous week.

An impressive campaign in terms of column inches and social media engagement, Team Ireland has achieved a result likely to satisfy even the most ambitious client. And yet their success is simply down to being genuine, single minded and communicating from the heart.
Team Ireland is a brilliant example of how a real-life and truly authentic story can inspire engagement and, ultimately, action. Now let’s get signed up..

If you’re between 16 and 30 and in good health, you can sign up to the Anthony Nolan register. If you are aged between 17 and 66 you can register with Delete Blood Cancer UK.

Christine Lydon, Account Director, Healthcare

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TechMunch: Google, Save Us From Email Fails!

Listening to the cries of embarrassed office-workers everywhere, Google this week introduced the ‘undo sent mail’ function to its Gmail service – allowing senders to recall an email before it arrived in the inbox of the (un)intended recipient. The function can be switched on in Gmail’s settings, with a cancellation period of 10, 20 or 30 seconds, after which the email is sent. You’ll have to act fast, but at least you have a window of opportunity to avoid the embarrassment or potential disaster brought on by sending an inappropriate email.

The feature had actually been available in Gmail’s experimental Labs settings for about 6 years already, but has only this week been added to the company’s inbox mobile email app. Given the huge number of internet searches for ‘how to unsend an email’, this feature should come as a huge relief for those who’ve had the unenviable experience of breaking into a panicked sweat after sending an email to the wrong person, or with an embarrassing typo. Some people even see email as career-threatening, given its speed and lack of face-to-face contact. The Telegraph recently reported a case of an office worker who was fired for sending emails in BLOCK CAPITALS, widely regarded to be poor email etiquette.

In some cases though, errant email mistakes can provide some excellent comic relief. One colleague once referred to themselves as ‘Señor Account Executive’ instead of ‘Senior’ – an interesting Spanish twist on their title. Another, in her first couple months at a new job, once accidentally sent a birthday present wish list to her boss instead of boyfriend, who answered ‘Thanks – good to know’.

Sending out the huge volume of emails that most of us do these days – on average around 121 each day – it’s no wonder mistakes are made. Some of these mistakes can even be a risk to our businesses. A survey by The Creative Group found that 78% of marketing professionals admitted to having mistakenly forwarded a “sensitive” message to the wrong person or company and neglected to mention it to their manager.

A swift search online also throws up a dozen examples of accidental email fails that are utterly cringe worthy.

Oxford University made the terrible mistake of sending a list of its worst performing pupils to the entire year of students. The email revealed the names and results of almost 50 undergraduates who got a 2:2 grade or below in pre-Christmas exams – the very definition of the word, awkward.

Last November, Australia held the G20 Leaders’ Summit had their own email error when it emerged that a staff member at Australia’s Department of Immigration had mistakenly sent the personal information of all the leaders attending the summit – including passport numbers, dates of birth and visa numbers –  to the Local Organising Committee of the Asian Cup international football tournament. We’re all for freedom of information but this might be going a bit too far.

These unfortunate examples and others like them may be avoided in the future thanks to Gmail’s latest setting. Remember, the undo send function won’t help if you wake up the next day horrified that you sent that drunken email to your boss/ex/whole company, but if you’re checking over a sent email only to find an annoying subject typo, you might be luck.

So, to all us who use Gmail, turn the undo send function on. Right now.

Laura Gregoire, Account Executive, Technology Team

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Writing A Pitch In Six Minutes – FH Training In Amsterdam

I’ve just come back from an incredible external training session with international presentation training company BodyTalk, focusing on Powerful Pitching. It covered everything from presentation skills and body language to using storytelling structures to make our content sing.

The course was hosted in the FleishmanHillard Amsterdam office and saw fellow consultants from Dubai, Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels, Riyadh and London attend.  This is us after the two-day course celebrating our new found gesture skills – can you spot the BBC presenter hands?

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It was an intense, awe inspiring course – so what did we learn?

  1. Storytelling structure – you CAN write a pitch in under six minutes. With a simple structure which outlines your credibility to advise, the challenge, the promise/benefit, how you plan to do what you propose and an action for the client to takeaway, it’s possible to deliver a powerful and compelling pitch.
  2. Create feelings with everything you say – presenting should leave the person listening with a feeling. Be it excitement, inspiration, fear or determination, every part of your structure should evoke a different emotion alongside it. You can then take the listener on a journey resulting in them becoming a part of it.
  3. Objection handling – with any presentation, there are often questions – and we learnt how you should drill down under the question to learn more. Empathise with the questioner – don’t just shut them down, ask them to clarify with more questions (they should talk, not you). And once you’ve reached an understanding, offer a proposal and check they are happy with that solution. Do that, and you should be able to walk out with the whole room’s buy-in.

Oh, and not forgetting that people remember things in threes. Which I hope means you’ll remember these great tips for presenting in future, and signpost your information in a similar way the next time you deliver some counsel.

Rachel Bowden, Account Director, Brand Marketing

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The Great Hedge Fund Identity Crisis

Contributed by Matt Thomas

The hedge fund industry has undergone a quite impressive transition in recent years. Once the preserve of wealthy individuals, institutional capital now accounts for roughly three in every four dollars managed by the industry – a figure exceeding $2 trillion[i].

This apparent shift in investor demographic has had far-reaching implications. Demands for transparency, whether during the initial due diligence process or as an ongoing feature of being an investor in the fund, have meant that firms have had to invest significantly across all facets of their business in order to attract desirable mandates from institutional clients.

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Insight-Driven Content Marketing

“Insight-driven content marketing”. Buzzwords have rarely been so crammed into a single sentence in the history of marketing.

Yet, this was the title of the keynote I gave earlier this month at ICEEfest (the Interactive Central & Eastern Europe Festival), and it is a matter of some serious import for marketers.

As I told attendees in Bucharest, the question of how to produce good or even great content marketing programmes is one our entire industry is struggling with at present. It is one I have struggled with for most of my career, a consistent theme bridging client side to PR and media agencies alike.

My role these days entails working across our network of 80+ offices, supporting my team in coordinating across markets and working with various levels of familiarity with research, analytics, social or digital. The planning process inevitably comes down to a question of head vs. gut: are you going to take advantage of the nearly limitless data and information available to the modern-day marketer, or fall into the trap of ‘gut thinking’?

At FleishmanHillard, we believe that powerful ideas are generated from a deep understanding of the audience, the universe they live in and the challenges they face. In 2016, with 69% of marketers creating more content than ever before – and audiences becoming less patient and more technically skilled at tuning out poor marketing – starting with insight has never been more important.

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But gut thinking is deeply entrenched across our industry. Thus, as with any bad habit, the first step in breaking the cycle is putting in place processes that support insight-led thinking.

We use COMPASS planning as a formal model to support planning, activation and optimisation based in data. The process keeps data at the heart of our planning, activation and assessment of success.

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We build programmes that are Social@Scale. From strategy blueprints and architecture through to editorial guidelines and metrics that matter, we are considerate of the infrastructure and management of content marketing in the social age – because it’s critical to achieving scale and measurable results.

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Lastly, we optimise to improve content. We measure against a consistent model, clearly define success and set up intelligent tracking before launch. It’s no small ask but it means we can understand which content our audiences find interesting; which content they share with their networks (and possibly why); and which content drives down-funnel activity.

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The upside of all that effort? Our teams are able to produce intelligent content that builds trust and authority with your audience. And once audiences know we are providing the timely, relevant and useful content they need – they are more likely to read the next piece we put out.

(Hopefully with fewer buzzwords.)

Allison Adams, Associate Director, Research & Analytics Lead EMEA, Creative Strategy

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Friday TechMunch: Is Apple Pay The Credit Card Killer?

Contributed by Ben Fletcher

Niamh recently discussed in her TechMunch blog about how consumers are becoming ever more demanding. As a nation we’re constantly on the lookout for slicker, simpler and more immediate services that work and we won’t hesitate to take our loyalty elsewhere if we find it.

For the payments industry, this desire for improvement couldn’t be more clear.

Apple made an announcement last week that will alter the UK payments landscape forever. As you may have heard, Apple Pay is officially coming to the UK after its successful launch in the US during 2014.

This is promising news for iPhone users as it could mean the end of credit and debit cards altogether.

So what is Apple Pay?

Apple Pay is a service that essentially turns your mobile phone into an electronic wallet. Users of the new iPhone 6 or Apple Watch will now be able to make payments in any participating shop via that device, and without the need for a bank card.

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How does it work?

It’s the same technology used to make a contactless payment using a card. Whether you’re aware of it or not, contactless chips, or to go by the official name: “Near Field Communication” (NFC), have been installed in all Apple Watches and iPhone 6 handsets.

In July, Apple will activate these NFC chips allowing thousands of phones in the UK to make mobile payments. People wishing to use this new system will need to upload their card details into their device. From there forward, mobile payments can be made in the same way as contactless cards.

In its simplest form, this will mean that in-store payments can be made by waving an iPhone 6 or Apple Watch next to a contactless terminal.

Is Apple Pay the future?

Given that is hasn’t launched in the UK yet, it’s a little too soon to tell. However, it does look promising.

The service was introduced in the US last year, and although slow to take off, it seems to be doing quite well. The UK is in an even stronger position for mass adoption as we’re already using contactless bank cards, something that the US have fallen behind on.

With contactless payments already available and growing in popularity in the UK, our retail industry already has the compatible infrastructure in place for mass adoption to take place.

However, for Apple Pay to become the “future of payments”, they’d have to beat off the competition – which is fierce to say the least. Even at the dawn of this new financial innovation, Apple isn’t the only high profile player in the mobile payments ring – Google and Android recently unveiled their own competing services: Google Wallet and Android Pay.

As these additional services further tie consumers to a particular platform and device, the race is on for the tech giants to promote and prove the trustworthiness of their version of the payment solution.

Is it all good news?

As with any innovation, new and unknown territory comes with many questions and concerns.

The number one issue is, of course, security. People are understandably concerned that a stolen iPhone or Apple Watch could mean a stolen wallet and subsequently a rapidly diminishing bank balance. To address these concerns, Apple has put numerous security measures in place to avoid potential fraud, such as additional passcodes and limiting users to one payment at each vendor per day.

Apple Pay will also have a strict £20 contactless payment limit per purchase, similar to the contactless philosophy behind the contactless cards in use in the UK. Although many are divided on whether we should be responsible for increasing or lowering that limit, this rule has eliminated the possibility of traditional wallets becoming entirely obsolete, as larger payments will still need an old fashioned credit or debit cards.

The verdict

Apple Pay has a bright future ahead. Tim Cook stated in January that 2015 would be “the year of Apple Pay”, and with the strength infrastructure in the UK, this could well be true – at least for this side of the pond anyway.

However, as for the speculation of Apple Pay being the “future of money”, it’s evident that we’re some way off being able to rid ourselves of a traditional wallet altogether. What is more likely is that mobile payments will become an additional option for customers, rather than an outright winner.

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Welcome to our New Office!

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We’re just about to finish our second week here at our new office at Bankside 2 and we thought it would be a great opportunity to show off the new place a bit. Please enjoy the following pictures and if you’d like to see more from us we’ve got an Instagram account you can follow where we post behind the scenes photos of our agency. You can also find us on Twitter where you can keep up to date with our blog posts, workings and whereabouts.

So without further ado, here’s our office!

The External Arty Shot

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Our Lovely New Reception

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Second Arty Shot Looking Upwards In  Reception

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Sixth Floor (Now With Added MD)

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TrueIQ 

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The Calm Before The Storm

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Our Informal Meeting Area (With Easy Access To Coffee Machine)

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Meeting Room Inspiration

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More Meeting Room Inspiration

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Finally, The View From Our Terrace

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Seeing Savage Beauty – The Alexander McQueen Retrospective

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Venturing to the West London museum strip can sometimes be a chore or a trip that you make when friends from outside London are visiting. However, journeying to West London to immerse yourself in Haute Couture at its finest with a flock of creative people is a different experience, completely.

We headed to the V&A to explore the vast body of work created by the late Alexander McQueen (or Lee McQueen, for those in the know). The exhibition has taken over a substantial part of the gallery and is the first and largest retrospective of McQueen’s work to be presented in Europe.

Upon entry, we were plunged into darkness which then revealed an almost bionic headshot of McQueen himself, which immediately set the tone for what we were about to witness.

To begin with I wondered how this exhibition could bolster our creativity, but as I followed the darkened tunnel into the first exhibition space, I soon realised when I read ‘There is no way back for me now. I’m going to take you on journeys you’ve never dreamed were possible’ on the wall opposite, that McQueen’s work was the certainly close to the epitome of creativity.

The event is sponsored by Swarovski, who nurtured McQueen during his time at Central St Martins and became a lifelong partner of the brand – a lucrative partnership indeed.

It was interesting to see how McQueen cleverly connected history, art, sex, wildlife, race and religion into his work. The product of this combination results in dresses made from black swan feathers, a steel crown of thorns and red, embellished, tartan gilets which are a nod to his Scottish heritage.

The curation of the exhibition was on point and no expense was spared with production. The retrospective showed the versatility of his work and each room was crafted to reflect the different collections; for example, floor to ceiling worn mirrors and glass tanks were used to amplify and contextualise the intricate components of his pieces.

One stand out feature of the event was the integration of virtual reality and fashion, which is interesting to note as fashion brands and houses are now using VR to engage audiences (see Ted Baker). McQueen used VR to bring his work to life in a glass prism that displayed a ghostly female figure in a stunning floating dress and created the illusion of being underwater, which lent itself well to the construction of the garment and the notion of being immersed in McQueen’s dreamlike world.

The exhibition embraced the complex yet versatile world of fashion and the different mediums which can be used to heighten visual impact. For me, this was an eye-opening experience that demonstrates how one product or subject can be contextualised to gain recognition and build reputation. Much like the careful construction of award winning PR activity.

Christina Peach, Account Executive, Brand Marketing Team

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Why physical activity should not just start at 16

They’re out. Figures from Sport England’s latest Active People Survey have been released in the last week – and if you delve deeper than the headlines, they don’t make for fantastic reading.

During the period from April 2014 to March 2015, 15.49 million people aged 16 years of over (35.5%) played sport for at least 30 minutes at ‘moderate intensity’ at least once a week. Whilst it represented an increase of 1.4 million compared with 2005/06, it is also a decrease of 222,000 compared with October 2014.

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