@Bytenight needs you #ThamesValley

At a time when most people are thinking about their summer holiday and relaxing on an exotic beach I am thinking about sleeping rough in Reading on a potentially cold and wet October night. Why would I be doing this? Well because I am a supporter of the fantastic charity event Byte Night that supports Action for Children. I’m not alone. In fact I will be joined by the some of the UK’s biggest companies including SAS, HP, RBS, Dell, Citrix, EY and KPMG. But we need more.

Action for Children uses the funds raised by Byte Night to tackle the root causes of youth homelessness by providing advice, budgeting skills, counselling, education and training programmes, as well as vital accommodation to hundreds of young people who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness. Last year the team raised over £1million in one night and the plan is to improve upon this in 2014.

But…..the Thames Valley team is slightly behind its target for sleepers and realising that most people will be on holiday in August, and September is traditionally too late to get people interested, we need teams and sleepers to sign up and commit to taking part in this wonderful event now!

If you would like to know more about the event, hear about the work it does or simply to sign up, you can do either by visiting the website below or by dropping me a line and I will be delighted to help.

To register a sleeper team for Byte Night 2014 visit bytenight.org.uk. The sleep-outs will take place on Friday 3 October in Reading, Birmingham, Belfast, Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, London and Manchester.

Find out more about Action for Children at actionforchildren.org.uk

Timekeeping tips to reach the top

Time pressures

I was sat on the exercise bike at the gym (honestly, I do go sometimes) and instead of pushing myself to feel the burn I was being a bit lazy and reading the June issue of GQ.

One of the articles really caught my eye. It was by Paul Henderson who had interviewed five eminent psychologists who revealed their office strategies to help you win the race to the top. I have always been facinated by science of ‘why’ so thoroughly recomend reading this short but interesting article.

At the bottom of the piece it listed some timekeeping tips for those that work in an office and I thought they all made sense and have decided to share them on my blog. What do you think? Common sense or a load of bollocks?

Best time for a meeting: 10am
You are at your most alert at 10am. So don’t take your mornings for granted and get an early start

Best time for a job interview: 10:30 on a Tuesday
It’s early in both time and day of the week. It’s also a slot that won’t get affected by lunchtime, going-home time or the weekend.

Best time to ask for a pay rise: 2:10pm
We take more risks when our glucose levels are high. So catch your boss after lunch. Later in the day he will conserve energy by taking less risky decisions.

Worst time for a meeting: 4:02pm
Attendees to not give their best later in the afternoon when they are likely to be tired and looking forward to going home.

PR Week 2014 Shortlist – my experience as a judge

Proud of PR industry

This week PR Week announced their shortlist for the 2014 awards, which I am delighted to say Berkeley PR has been listed in the best technology category. The previous week I had been involved in judging the awards (not the one we were shortlisted in though!!).

What an experience. About a month ago I was presented with about 44 award entries to read and score across three categories.

At this first stage I was surprised by how many people had either not read the brief or sent an entry that wasn’t particularly inspiring. With so many entries to read I defined my own score system that was based around each of the elements mentioned. My biggest recommendation to anyone entering would be to review the criteria and break down each point highlighted. If your entry can’t be brilliant on every point – don’t bother entering.

How entries were laid out was also important to me. With so many to read through I wanted to get to the story quickly and to clearly see where the company had answered the brief. Having to refer to a variety of other documents became time consuming and with so much paperwork there was always the risk it could be over looked. Making it easy on the eye and easy to read meant I was also happier to read the document than if it looked like it was going to be a slog. Not too much graphic design but more than just a sheet of text was appealing.

My scores were then aggregated with those of my fellow judges and we then spent the day reviewing the shortlist to debate and score again. This again was an interesting process as each member of my panel came from a different section of the market and had different perspectives. In one case, I hadn’t scored a campaign particularly highly but upon debating with my fellow judges and discussing the merits of the campaign against the industry pressures for the entry I could review it with different eyes and scored it much higher because I could see that in its space it was braver and more innovative than I had first perceived.

On the judging day I was unsure of where the building was until I spotted a couple of beard and no sock brigade and followed them to a room signposted PR Week Judges! After a chat and a coffee I realised that I was going to be fortunate to have a category where we could meet the shortlisted parties and this was truly inspiration stuff. The PR industry gets a hard time in the press and from other outsiders but spending a day listening to the wonderful work and meeting some of the smartest brains in our industry was inspirational stuff and made me proud to work for a PR agency.

The awards are the showcase for our industry and as a judge we were all looking for evidence of outcome, creativity, relation to objective and cost effectiveness. In particular I was looking for ambassadors for our industry. I wanted people and agencies to win that would make others proud to say they worked in PR and I feel confident that we achieved this.

Roll on 14 October at Grosvenor House. It should be a superb night and fingers crossed the Berkeley PR team get to pick up their richly deserved gong.

Berkeley PR storms up PR Week Top 150 league table

PR Week Top 150

PR Week has launched the PR Week 150 league table which celebrates the top 150 PR consultancies in the UK. Last year my agency, Berkeley PR, recorded a high place of 80 which we were all really proud of. This year we rocked in at 68! That is a whopping 12 places we have jumped. This now means that Berkeley PR is (according to PR Week) the ninth most successful agency outside of London and we stand at number 32 in the league table of independent agencies. I’m delighted with this.

To put the results in context, PR Week reported:

the average growth in fee income of the agencies in PRWeek’s Top 150 PR Consultancies table has dropped to eight per cent from 11.5 per cent last year.

But it is the mid-sized agencies that have been hit the hardest: ten of the 11 consultancies showing a double-digit decline in income are sitting between £1m and £3.5m in total fees. Agencies in the corporate, public affairs and healthcare sectors saw the biggest increases in income as a set. But the consumer sector was far tougher, with respected agencies such as Frank PR (down 21 per cent), The Red Consultancy (down seven per cent) and Splendid (down 10 per cent) all significantly down on last year.

In this climate, I’m proud to shout to anyone that will listen, that Berkeley PR’s fee income grew by 28% on what had already been a record previous year!

Why has this happened? A number of reasons. Clients and employees have embraced our storytelling approach to communications. We have a stable team that provides both clients and the agency with continuity, which in turn delivers great results. We have hired a mix of brilliant new faces and promoted from within to ensure we have the best people doing the best job.

The other main reason is unity and clarity. The team are all focused on the goal of delivering fantastic work we can be proud of and growing our agency into something even more special. No distractions. This is all we live and breathe.

Congratulations to all my colleagues. I’m proud of you all.

 

Is video just a vanity project?

Video

Not at all. Anyone who has seen the new Berkeley PR website will see we have included some video on the home page. I love it. Videos ability to enforce a variety of messages visually and without forcing it down someone’s throat is very powerful. For example, in our video we have shown that the Berkeley PR family operate in San Francisco, New York, London, Singapore and Shanghai. I think it also shows that we can produce superb quality video ourselves and demonstrates we understand  great visual design  – without saying any of that. If a picture can tell a thousand stories – how many can video tell?

Cisco predicts that by 2017 video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic. That is massive. Coupled with stats that suggest video drives engagement by up to 300% it is clear that businesses need to consider how they can effectively use this platform to best effect. Simply putting a video on Vimeo or YouTube isn’t enough. In fact it is the same as running any sort of campaign in isolation. The best way to maximise results is always to integrate the content with all parts of the marketing mix.

For other interesting stats on video, check out this cool infographic by the Infographic Design Team. I think the market is warming up to video and this could explode in the next few years. Are you ready?

Free tool for estimating the value of a blog

Free

Blogger outreach is part and parcel of any awareness campaign but explaining to a client why they need to take time to speak to certain bloggers can be tricky at times as traffic details are often private. My colleague introduced me to this really cool free tool.

SiteWorthTraffic is designed to estimate value, daily pageviews, daily visitors and daily revenue of a website. It allows you to quickly calculate the website worth and worldwide ranking of any website. You can view detailed website traffic statistics, including Alexa statistics, last shared links on Facebook social network, country where is located the web server, IP address, monthly earning and yearly earnings.

Another point I like about it is that it does not require any registration and is completely free for everyone.

How the FT used Twitter ads with great success

I read and watched this case study the other day and wanted to share a link as it resonated with me. The Financial Times wanted to target in real time those interested in what was happening at the World Economic Forum in Davos and chose to use Twitter Ads to get its message out. The campaign, which centred on editorial video content, was focused on getting across the FT’s

Key to the campaign’s success, according to Watts, was the precise targeting that’s possible with Twitter Ads. This allowed the FT to deliver highly relevant content to encourage people “to click-through, watch it and ultimately share it”.

Simple but then the best ideas generally are.