Tricks of the trade

Lights, Webcam, Action: Perfecting the WFH Video Call

· Tricks of the trade ·

At Keep Left, our rule is if you’re not filling your conference calls with superhero puppers to break the internet, then you’re falling behind.

That said, we understand the conference call struggle during These Unprecedented Times™. Inviting clients into our living rooms, kitchens, or that one corner of our bedrooms that could pass as either, can feel as strange as inviting your LinkedIn followers to view your private Instagram. 

We’ve slowly adapted and are, most times, even able to pick up a video call without changing locations. But you may have heard that something is coming — it’s called ‘the new normal’ and it’s going to feature a lot more Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams. 

Instead of booking the dreaded 7am-7pm Melbourne-Sydney return flight, many of us will continue to show face via video calls, even once the pandemic is over. And these calls are going to feature much more of our personal space. 

Recently, the Keep left team has learned a lot about the art of showing our best selves on webcam, and since we’re planning to do it for a while we’ve decided to share our findings. Treat the below as your cheat sheet for adding the right doses of professionalism and personality into your next client WIP.  

Fix your Tech (please) 

1. Internet Speed

It’s an obvious one, but how many times have you heard ‘sorry, can you repeat that’ after the wifi flubbed three seconds of your prezzo? Your connection will have a significant impact on the effectiveness of your conversation, so make sure you’re at least plugged into your modem via an ethernet cable. Or fork out for an NBN connection. Clients and team members will more than appreciate the smoother ride. Plus, your accountant should be able to offset the expense. 

2. Audio

Feedback loops are great for performance reviews but not so much for audio. To ensure you don’t sound like you’re shouting quarterly insights into a cave, use headphones (preferably wired) with an in-built microphone. If that’s not an option, lower the volume on your computer when speaking and use the magical mute button when not. But really, just use the headphones. We know you have them, otherwise how are you listening to all those true crime podcasts? Pro tip: try taking your call in a carpeted room that won’t reverberate sound.

3. Video

If you’re wondering why your creative department looks angelic on team WIPs, it’s probably because they smuggled home the camera equipment. That, and they understand lighting. If you want that cherubic glow, try facing a window or similar light source. If all else fails, open up a blank Word doc and pump up your screen brightness. The white pixels will act like the light reflector your videographer nabbed, and even out the shroud of shadows on your brow.

zoom call bookshelf

Mise en Scene

1. Environment

Yes, everyone is distracted by the paintings on your wall. Choose the backdrop for your video calls based on how it looks, not whether it’s where you usually work. Minimalism is nice, but no one really lives against a white wall. Try to position yourself with a few objects of visual interest around you, rather than slightly behind. Children are a wild card here. How long have they been staring at the tele, and will their show end in the middle of your call? Only Moana knows… 

2. Furniture

During your calls, your clients will become very acquainted with your taste in furniture. A simple bookshelf is a great option here, but beware — you will be judged. The New York Times has pontificated on what bookshelves reveal about famous people’s lives, and the Sydney Morning Herald has detailed the shelving shown by some of our high profile personalities. You might not be featured on the Bookcase Credibility Twitter account, but you should still shuffle your literature to cater for discerning eyes. 

3. Personal Presentation

A great part of video calls is how casual it feels to be on camera in your own home, but consider the difference between carefree and careless. Stay engaged and look directly at your webcam when possible so your audience feels like you’re making eye contact. Dress appropriately; pants are optional, but it’s all about making people believe you’re suited from head to toe — even if all that’s under the desk is Uggs and a fan heater. 

Of course, if you’re struggling with the above criteria, you can always spice up your meeting with a creative background.

Add value or stay home: How marketing teams can approach Coronavirus

· Strategy, Trends, Tricks of the trade · , ,

The speed with which Coronavirus has turned our world upside down has been dizzying. Some of us are still in the depths of denial, while others are coming to terms with the forced reality of social distancing and lockdowns. And while Information from China indicates that some form of normality may return after just three months, it’s clear that financial recovery from this crisis will take much longer.  

According to some reports, Australian consumers are coping relatively well (toilet paper and a flagrant disregard for social distancing rules aside), with GlobalWebIndex indicating that Australians on the whole remain relatively positive. But a survey by Omnipoll a week later argued that we’re also feeling helpless, scared and isolated. In reality, it depends who you ask and when you ask them. What we can be sure of, however, is that consumers will be racing through a vast range of emotions as they adapt to this new realityand brands need to keep pace. 

Business sectors that have been able to pivot quickly from offline to online and keep their customers connected, informed or entertained are the ones keeping their heads above water. With social media usage increasing as people spend more time alone at homeprioritising and adding value via your online channels now is non-negotiable 

But be warned. Consumers are being bombarded with messages from brands desperate to appear concerned, informed or empatheticBefore adding your brand voice to the melee, make sure it’s for the right reasons, as brands that are seen to be self-serving won’t do well.  

Add value, bring empowerment and provide comfort  

In times of uncertainty, people are looking for a sense of control – it’s why everyone panic bought loo roll. Sothink about how your brand can help customers regain that sense of empowerment. Brands that are also able to authentically add value now, and sustain it through the crisis, will come out the other side with loyal customers. 

Last week, UK fitness trainer Joe Wicks announced that he was launching ‘P.E. with Joe’, a livestreamed fitness class for kids in lockdown. The idea came after his planned tour of schools was cancelled. He achieved a perfect pivot from offline to online, with the first broadcast already amassing over 5 million views – many of whom are parents joining their kids and discovering just how unfit they really are – far greater than the original 10,000 kids he would have reached on tour. 

In one week, Wicks was elevated from the status of just another fitness influencer into a darling of the Nation because his classes add value. As Wicks says, “If this takes just a bit of pressure off parents, makes kids a little fitter and happier and gives them some structure to their day, then I’ve achieved what I set out to do”. Based on consumer feedback, he’s also landed on a fantastic way for kids and parents to connect in a crisis. 

Where can your brand add value or enhance comfort? What can you do that actively alleviates the pressure, boredom or challenges of combining living and working at home? How can you help make lockdown a more pleasant (or at least tolerable) experience?  

Adapt to new formats

To maintain connection with consumers over the coming months, consider what productsservices or content you can deliver direct into the homeThen, broaden your channel mix. We know engagement with podcasts, social media and livestreams is increasing. There’s also been a slight increase in usergenerated content, which may become more exaggerated as boredom kicks in. How can you adapt your marketing plan to suit these formatsCan you create new digital touchpoints for your audiences now that physical touchpoints are no longer there? 

Give a little

Before you jump in with service offerings at a price, it’s important to establish your objectives for any COVID-related activity. According to the GlobalWebIndex study54% of Australians believe brands should be offering free services during the outbreak. If your objective is to come out the other side with a loyal following, think carefully about what you charge for. 

Babbel has made its language learning app free for three months to students in the USA following a successful trial in Italy, and Cirque Du Soleil has launched a digital hub offering free livestreams, VR experiences and tutorials from performersJoe Wicks’ classes are free, and last week Nike joined the plethora of fitness and wellness brands offering free app access during the crisis.  

And it’s not just B2C businesses that can add value. Messaging provider MessageMedia just launched a free assistance package to help struggling Australian cafes and restaurants switch to an SMS-based ‘text in’ operating model for orders, which could help keep some businesses afloat through the crisis.

Taking into account that somewhere between 15-20% of free trials generally convert to paid customers, you could set yourself up for a positive recovery by foregoing short term revenue in favour of building brand affinity. 

Plan for the recovery

Finally, don’t wait until recovery starts to begin work on your post-Coronavirus strategy. To recover quickly, brands need to be ready to hit the ground running when the lockdowns are lifted. There will be opportunities to help customers re-establish social connections and start a new version of their life.  

You don’t want to be the one playing catch up when that time comes. Marketers always long for more time to focus on strategy and planning, so take this as permission to get started. 

And in the meantime, if you can’t truly add value right nowStay Home. 

Content Marketing in the time of Coronavirus

· Content Marketing, Digital and Experience, Trends, Tricks of the trade

With the latest Coronavirus update, Australia and the world at large is entering a period of extreme uncertainty. Government regulations, socialisation restrictions and economic forecasts we have not seen in our lifetime are impacting every industry, with many businesses going into damage control to reduce the potential impact over the coming months.  

As Australia moves towards a lockdown, social media platforms and online publications will be our biggest connections with our community – and Facebook is already reporting higher than usual uptake as social isolation is on the rise across the globe. This presents an opportunity for brands to ‘stay in the game’ and continue engaging their audiences online, but there’s a fine line between keeping morale up and capitalising on a global pandemic.  

While this situation is highly unprecedented and we’re all wading through these uncharted waters together, we have developed some guiding principles to help our clients (and ourselves) engage with audiences during this time.   

Don’t stick your head in the sand

Unless you’re in an industry that is called out directly by the government regulations or pose a high risk to the public, it may not be necessary to send out daily updates on the situation or your response. It is however important to acknowledge the current climate and how you can continue to support your audiences during the pandemic. This can be as simple as an eDM, LinkedIn or social media post letting your customers or stakeholders know how your business is reacting and the measures you’re putting in place to support your staff. It’s also important to alert them if any of your services may be affected in this time and how you’re working to maintain them in the coming year. 

Be respectful with your ads

It has never been more important to ‘read the room’ when planning your content and review the tone and content of your ads. Is it relevant to the current climate? Is it empathic to your audience’s situation? Run a careful eye over your copy for any seemingly playful phrases that could be misinterpretedThe public are looking for good news stories, but overly joyful visuals can be a bit jarring in the current climate. Promoting your coronavirus update itself can also rub your audience the wrong way so consider whether it is truly urgent before you amplify. Review everything three times before posting, just to be safe.  

Prepare to pivot

From the arts sector to sports, we’ve seen some of our biggest industries crumble in the past weeks. How you’re able to adapt is a strong sign of stability and resilience, so contingency planning should be a part of every conversation. Sure, nobody wants to plan for the worst, but by considering these options you just may develop a solution that could be even better for your business. From live streamed events to delivery services, this could be an opportunity for your business to evolve in ways you never expected. 

Shake up your strategy

While you’re pivoting your offering, make sure your strategy is agile so you can respond to the needs of your brand in this time. Customer-focussed and real-world conversions might need to be replaced with brand awareness strategies. Or focus on educational content that answers some of your audience’s biggest questions in isolation. All businesses are preparing for impact, particularly those in service-based industries, so building a strong brand foundation and stating in front of mind now can help support your business in the second half of the year. 

Don’t be a digital drain

The most important thing right now is that you’re being supportive: to your customers, your suppliers and your employees. We’re all going to get incredibly fatigued by any mention of COVID-19 this year, so even if you’re sharing content that feels relevant to these times, it may be best if you just leave the obvious thing unsaid and keep the COVID out of your captions. As much as possible, allude to the situation without spelling it out. For example, when you talk about spending more time at home, the public will understand the background without needing to be reminded about the virus. 

It can be difficult to feel positive when we’re faced with uncertainty about our futures and fistfights over toilet paper, but as content marketers we have an amazing capacity to support our online communities in this time, as long as the tone and strategy is right. For brands, consumers will want to be entertained, educated and inspired in the coming months, giving us plenty of opportunities to connect with them. After all, there’s only so much Netflix each person can binge. 

Alone, together: Pivoting to virtual events in the middle of a pandemic

· Digital and Experience, Tricks of the trade · ,

For industries across Australia, it’s increasingly hard to escape the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) – especially if your operations rely on face-to-face interactions. From Bluesfest and the Grand Prixto AGMs and conferences, events of all sizes are being cancelled and postponed, leaving many businesses questioning how they will go on.  

Even the “Doing business under Coronavirus roundtable was cancelled last week – a harsh bit of irony for your enjoyment

But adaptation – especially in times of crisis – is in our DNA, and we must go on nonetheless. There will be jobs lost and businesses that fallbut we must band together to make the most of the hyper-connected world that has arisen over the past decadeAnd going virtual is a viable solution for the foreseeable future.  

Live streaming is, without doubt, a plan B

Nothing will ever beat the human connection felt in a bustling crowd, or the ease of learning and negotiating in-person. But as is the case with all survival, staying in the game requires creative evolution  

Thankfully, recent technological advancements have seen a massive swing towards live streamingBusinesses can already bring offline audiences together via a range of digital medium– from multi-camera broadcasts, 3D tours and webinars, to video-conferences on Microsoft Teams and casual chats on Instagram Live.  

In fact, you can curate a highquality livestreamed event for as little as $3k – a far cry from the thousands spent on a physical one. 

Starbucks just hosted its first online shareholder meeting. Entire music festivals are happening on-screen. Conferences around the world are taking place in virtual environments this year. Even funerals are going online. 

Just this week at Keep Left, we turned what was supposed to be a two-day event for a client into a live-streamed interactive webinar. The face-to-face training was scheduled to happen in Brisbane but pivoted to a digital broadcast from our Melbourne studio. 

With travel bans and increasing restrictions on gatheringthis kind of quick evolution is inevitable. 

But there are many tiers to virtual events

While social media may be immediate and intuitive, there’s a huge difference in quality and control between streaming live on Facebook and from a professional studio.  

As with all video content, a webcam or phone camera just can’t beat the quality and professionalism of broadcast cameras with a curated backdrop and expert focus-pulling.  

We’re in control of the lighting, we can switch angles and cut to supplementary footage, and we can capture high-quality content for other platforms as we go. And we can host the stream on an owned platform, so that we’re not relying on social media usage as a prerequisite for engagement.  

While both tiers can be experienced anywhere in the world via a strong, private internet connection, you can’t monetise social media. Being able to gate and ticket your virtual events is imperative if this alternative is going to work for businesses in the long run.  

Virtual events are not without benefit

By going online this week, our client actually increased viewership and engagement, reaching trainees in more states than originally intended thanks to the ease of digital access. Here are some other efficiencies we found:  

Extending the content’s shelf life  

Filming the program live meant that we could capture collateral content on set, to create a bank of resources that will be rolled out via a strategic content marketing campaign.

Smart analytics

Because we’re working digitally, whave access to quantitative reports on attendance, visitor traffic patterns and engagement levels that can be used as key learnings for future activities. 

Increased interactivity

Holding polls, surveys and group messaging capabilities throughout the virtual event encouraged the exchange of ideas among attendees

Cost efficiencies

We had decreased venue overheads, zero licensing and catering fees, and a significantly lower carbon footprint. Sustainability, in times like these, becomes even more paramount as we reflect on the impact of our travel and operations around the world.  

At Keep Left, our creative and digital specialists have spent the past few weeks pivoting our AV, tech and social engagement experience to this new life online.  

As devastated as we are for society and the economy, it’s time for us and our clients to do what we do best – innovate, take time to push our capabilities forward, and lean in to the forced acceleration of technology that will inevitably come from this.   

Three reasons we ‘like’ the removal of social media likes

· Content Marketing, Trends, Tricks of the trade

When Instagram announced the removal of likes on the platform, we mourned the easy access we had to an influencer’s top line engagement metrics; concerned about what it would mean for social media and influencer marketing.

Three months on, Facebook has now decided to trial the removal of likes in Australia. This is a bold decision for the social media giant who made the ‘thumbs up’ a globally recognised symbol of online popularity and approval.

When Facebook announced the major platform change on Monday, the social media giant cited similar motivations that led Instagram to remove the like count. Mia Farlick, the ANZ Director of Policy at Facebook said, ‘the test aimed to help people focus less on likes and more on telling a story’. From this, we can conclude that it’s a way of harnessing the social elements of the platform and shifting away from the popularity contest that negatively affected the mental health of many Australians.

Three months on, we also believe this change has also benefitted the world of social media and influencer marketing.

Here are 3 reasons why we should be celebrating the removal of likes:

We can measure what matters

While likes are a great way to measure how engaged your audience is with your content, it has been known to overshadow more important metrics, like driving traffic to a website. Now that this ‘vanity’ metric is hidden, it gives us the opportunity to explore other measurement options that are likely more important for a client’s bottom line.

It could lead to more authentic content from influencers

The removal of likes allows influencers to experiment with new types of creative that break away from highly curated feeds and ‘polished’ content. This could be beneficial for brand collaborations by making their endorsements carry more weight due to the influencers not being so dependent on the validation of likes.

It could create more genuine communities

By removing the like count, we can use social media platforms to create more conversation. This means encouraging comments and creating a space where a consumer’s opinions are valued. Perhaps this change will entice consumers to write a comment or send a DM instead of hitting the like button, creating genuine consumer-brand relationships.

What’s next?

At this stage, we don’t know if the removal of likes will become the platform’s standard operating procedure. But we’re hoping this change is here to stay.

Could the follower count be next to go?

Putting a spin on data: media relations in the digital age

· Trends, Tricks of the trade

Australia’s lagging broadband speed aside, the amount of data we produce daily is astronomical. And it’s only set to increase. By 2020, there will be 40 times more bytes of data than there are stars in the universe.

This data economy has paved the way for whole new industries – tech giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook wouldn’t be where they are today if not for their complex algorithms which analyse trillions of data points on billions of people every day.

For traditional industries like media, understanding data has become a matter of survival. The changing ways we consume media has put a strain on traditional news outlets, which have seen major contraction.

But in true Darwinist fashion – data savvy media are thriving.

Australia’s most visited online news outlets (the likes of your News.com.au and Daily Mail) have seen readership surge through the adoption of a churn and burn publishing model, which feeds data on article clicks, shares and search performance straight back into editorial planning.

Successful online publications are agile, reactive and (thanks to data) understand their readers implicitly. As a result, their stories consistently climb to the top of our news feeds.

Media has evolved, it’s time we did too

Public relations professionals have traditionally relied less on data and more on experience to inform strategy, at least compared to their counterparts in other marketing disciplines.

You could argue that an industry built on relationships doesn’t have the same need to digitise its practices – but to really claim a deep understanding of today’s media, we need to start looking at the news cycle with the same analytical lens.

When applied to PR, data is an amazing tool. You can use data to predict news cycles and trends, discover the topics and content formats that track higher for social engagement, and even pinpoint the best day of the week or time of the day to go out with your story.

On top of ideation, data can help identify the publications and journalists that have the highest share of voice on a given topic, allowing us to better tailor the news we share with them, and ultimately get our clients’ word in front of the right audiences.

With journalists increasingly measured by clicks, shares and search performance, data allows us to unearth new insights and story hooks to turn a good story into a great one.

You don’t have to be a data scientist to get started

A tool you can get going with right away is Google Trends, an effort born from Google’s News Initiative to help journalists thrive in a digital context.

With 5 billion searches made on the internet every day, search data is a powerful tool for gauging public sentiment on current affairs and breaking news, which can be used to inform a direction of thinking, or even generate a story in itself.

Following mass bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef, we uncovered a spike in public concern which provided a timely hook to the work our client, Greening Australia is doing to improve water quality in the region. News.com.au’s environment editor even worked the search trend into her coverage.

More recently, we worked with NT News on a story revealing Territorians made more searches on average around access to legal medicinal cannabis. The insights were coupled with survey data and commentary from Australian medicinal cannabis company Althea, allowing our client to add expert context to the data.

Digging for a story? Proprietary data is a goldmine

Most brands, consumer facing or not, are collectors of data. While their data might not seem like much on face value, when analysed correctly it could be just the type of information that journalists are hungry for.

For those unequipped to analyse spreadsheets or databases, there are others who will do the hard yards for you; Data Journalists are a new breed of journalist, exploring the vast amount of digital information being made available and finding digestible ways of presenting it.

We not long ago partnered with Fairfax Data Journalist Craig Butt to create traffic-led stories using Traffic Analytics tools from HERE Technologies, a global provider of mapping services and location data intelligence technology.

Thanks to a strong local appetite for traffic and congestion stories, the result was a series of in-depth articles rolled out across Fairfax’s mastheads utilising HERE’s powerful data and featuring commentary from HERE’s traffic and location technology experts. The data was brought to life through interactives displaying how traffic congestion impacts commuting, which are used in breaking traffic stories to this day.

The Fairfax team are so proud of this collaboration that they have twice put forward the joint project for Australian journalism awards.

And there’s no reason this approach can’t work with other industries. Any data that creates debate, sparks a conversation with audiences or illustrates the problem your brand is solving has the potential to increase awareness through column inches.

Just like we’re seeing with the media industry, the growing ubiquity of data has the power to transform public relations for the better – if we as communicators are willing to learn and adapt.

RIP listicles: Resurrecting quality content in the wake of Buzzfeed’s fall

· Content Marketing, Trends, Tricks of the trade

For almost a decade now, eight big red letters have ruled our news feeds. But has the virality behind BuzzFeed’s infamous startup success story seen its peak?

Last week, the $2.4 billion company announced it was cutting 15% of their workforce in their biggest reshuffle to date. Eleven out of those 200 roles are currently held by Australian employees. Financial performance lies at the core of this crash, with an impending defamation lawsuit also on the cards.

While we remain hopeful that the digital outlet will find its feet, we must ask ourselves: where would our media landscape be without mass listicles, click-bait quizzes and meme-driven blog posts?

And, should we have to live without them, how can we mould our content strategies to suit the incoming status quo – now and over the next few years?

Other free digital outlets are showing similar cause for concern, with Conde Nast rumoured to be putting up paywalls on all their US titles, and free online news sites taking knocks in all corners.

In the wake of these changes, brands need to be able to bring understanding of their audiences in-house and avoid simply imitating trending media formats – in other words, learn to stand on their own two feet. Here, a renewed focus on what the people want, and how best to give it to them, is imperative.

A few things we learnt from the red giant

BuzzFeed’s growth story is a real crash course in digital disruption, altering their offerings and constantly improving their content for search optimisation and mass engagement. They played into the waiting thumbs of young audiences around the world. What do the people want? Cat GIFs. What are the people going to get? You guessed it. Cat GIFs.

At some level, they helped to invent a new media landscape: the biggest-scale digital model for revenue production they could come up with. And then they kept evolving.

They branched out to feed the outliers, with more sophisticated platforms like the Pulitzer Prize-nominated BuzzFeed News. They saturated the social media space – when Facebook became all about the video, they did too, and very effectively at that. And they partnered with brands to create bespoke native advertising, providing an “authentic” means of talking to millennials when brands didn’t know how to.

Their agility has been remarkable, hinged on a dedication to understanding their audiences’ interests. But with so many shifts in consumer perception, brands can’t just outsource their audiences to the big players.

Know your audience, and how best to speak to them

These days, in a world of increasing automation, algorithms and fake news, consumers are craving the one thing that we won’t likely lose in a hurry: genuine humanity. Authentic stories told by real people that really connect and provide value to the reader are the way forward in a market where consumer trust is hard-won and cut-through is nigh on impossible.

According to Danone CEO Emmanuel Faber, millennial influence is a key driver of this shift: “They want committed brands with authentic products. Natural, simpler, more local and if possible small, as small as you can.”

In fact, a study showed that big brands in the US were losing $22bn market share over only five years owing to the audience’s favour of small companies. And VICE’s new youth survey The Big Shrink surveyed 3,700 16-38 year-olds, finding that avoiding stereotypes and hero-ing credibility and authenticity is the only way forward for media in the 21st century.

So, yes. The “Which Melancholy Vegetable Matches your Personality?”quiz will always be great for a mindless scroll on the morning tram commute (I’m a ‘downcast cabbage’ if anyone is interested). But in a world now over-saturated with this kind of viral celeb-centred content, and fraught with global disaster, readers are beginning to want to know more about real stories and real value closer to home.

Blended, owned content strategies are the future

The news of BuzzFeed’s potential diminishment in the market signals a need for organisations to build blended content strategies, where their owned assets (such as a website, content hub or, god forbid, a database) live at the centre of their publishing priorities.

This is firstly because we clearly can’t rely on the digital media gods (Vice, Vox, Refinery and more) to provide their services in perpetuity, or rely on the fact that their model will be relevant in perpetuity. They are as prone to market weakness as anyone is, and shouldn’t be leant on in place of internal innovation.

But it’s also because a healthy mix of owned and quality earned media will prove more sustainable in the long run, and paint a more holistic view of your brand from the outset. By tapping into your own amplification and distribution channels, you can engage your (well-defined) audiences on a more intimate level amongst their daily highs and lows to truly create resonance and connection – rather than relying on a third party or superficial templated posts.

Owning and creating your own brand of storytelling with authentic, engaging and actually interesting content that caters to the right audiences, is a sure way to weather the digital storm.

Change is inevitable, but real stories last forever.

Article originally published on Mumbrella,

5 food photography tips with our studio manager

· Trends, Tricks of the trade

We know a thing or two about food at Keep Left – just check out our Instagram stories for proof!

To celebrate our new kitchen and photography studio being open for business, we sat down with our Studio Manager, Natasha Pavlou to find out her top five tips for creating the perfect foodie photo.

Planning is key

As with any creative project – planning and preparation is key to getting the result you want.

Natasha recommends visualising what you want the final image to look like and working backwards from there.

“When we are doing a shoot we always plan out the shot list and break down the suggested styling and background elements.

Think about the dish itself – if you’re baking a layered cake and want to photograph it from a 45 degree angle, a cake stand may be the way to go. Or perhaps you’re baking cookies then placing them on a cooling rack. In this case, it may be better to shoot from above to add some texture and layers to the shot.”

Find great light

Lighting can be tricky in food shoots.

“Making food look delicious on camera can be a lot trickier than you think. Sometimes blending a natural light source from a window works with some additional fill light to bring any highlights or shadows into the shot. When using natural light – we usually use something to diffuse and soften the light so it’s not too direct on the subject.”

Get some work-in-progress shots

It can be easy to focus on getting the final plated-up food shot, but you miss out on some great opportunities for content along the way.

“If your photographer can set up the lighting early and then take the camera off to be able to capture some work-in-progress shots then why not! Make sure you capture some shots during the preparation and cooking process. It’s a great way to capture the story of your dish and highlight the freshness of your ingredients.”

Emphasise the natural beauty of the food

Think about what makes a dish delicious and then serve it in a way that flaunts that.

“There is nothing better than the crispy, golden skin on a roast turkey – so photograph the whole bird to highlight the crunchy skin, rather than slicing it up. If you’re photographing sausage rolls, capture the texture of the puff pastry to make your audience’s mouth water.”

Craft your story

The job of a food stylist and photographer isn’t just to make the food look delicious. It’s to bring it to life and to tell a story.

“Work your shot for the audience it is intended for. Are your audience into more home cooked food? If so, then you might be in a more homely setting with some plates on the side with some serving elements and a chair in the background with some natural light coming in.

Or does your audience prefer fine dining? If so, then you might create a perfect place setting and shoot the image from above to show the intricate details of the meal.”

Need the perfect space to shoot your next campaign or recipe book?

Contact Natasha for more details about our kitchen studio.

A tent in the woods at Kathmandu's hidden retreat

Experiential marketing: bringing brands to life

· Trends, Tricks of the trade

Over the past six months, the Keep Left team has brought more than 20 events and experiences to life, from topping out ceremonies for our property clients and hydrating guests with FIJI Water at Melbourne’s Diner en Blanc, to entertaining the public at park cinemas and playing host to happy campers at Kathmandu’s Hidden Retreat.

A tent in the woods at Kathmandu's hidden retreat

Experiential marketing is a great way to bring a brand to life, and with 65% of consumers stating that events help them to better understand a brand’s products or services, the benefits are clear.

Interested in finding out more? Check out our Head of Consumer Engagement Johanna Murray’s compelling case in B&T  for why brands should harness the power of experiential marketing.

Facebook and third-party data: what you need to know

· Tricks of the trade

You might have seen Facebook’s recent announcement about the sweeping changes they’re making to protect users’ privacy on their platform.

The move has come in response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where a British-based data analytics firm harvested data from more than 50 million Facebook profiles without permission. On the back of this, Facebook confirmed it will be removing access to all third-party data (Partner Categories) from Targeting and Measurement Partnerships.

This decision will impact Keep Left’s paid social clients, so we want to share an overview of what will be affected and when, and what we can expect to see happen over the coming months.Facebook removes access to third-party data

What is third party data?

At present, there are three kinds of data marketers can access on Facebook:

  1. First party data – data that businesses collect about their own customers or audience (e.g. from your database)
  2. Second party data – data that is collected from social platforms themselves (e.g. from your Facebook profile and search behaviour)
  3. Third party data – data collected by data providers or aggregators (e.g. from Experian, Quantium and Acxiom)

These data sets can be used individually or together to allow marketers to better reach specific audiences on social media, such as people living in a particular location or those with certain interests or behaviours.

What does Facebook’s decision mean?

Removing access to third party data means that it may become more difficult for brands to reach people in as targeted a way, and marketers will have to rely on first and second party data.  Given Facebook can change the rules at any point, our recommendation is that brands prioritise building out their first party data which they own and can leverage.

Facebook changes to third-party data changes targeted paid socialWhen will the decision come into effect?

Campaigns using categories built on data from EU countries will be unavailable from 25 May 2018. For those using categories built on data from outside the EU, Partner Categories will be unavailable from 1 October 2018.  To minimise disruption, Facebook have outlined a timeline for marketers to update their campaign targeting:

So, what happens now?

We expect an update from Facebook in the coming weeks with more information about the decision and other measures they are planning on taking to protect people’s information. In the meantime, Keep Left will be working closely with our paid social clients in preparation for when the changes come into effect, and are liaising with our third party data partners to see if there are other ways we can continue to work together.

If you are a Keep Left client and have any questions or concerns about how the decision to remove access to third-party data providers will affect you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Lizzie Waley, Paid Social & Performance Manager at Keep Left