Tricks of the trade

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

Building brand trust with explainer videos

· Tricks of the trade · , ,

Education and entertainment join forces

There comes a time in every business when you need to educate your customers about something that’s important to you. It could be a new product or service, a project you’re involved in, a position you’re taking a stance on, or even your organisation in general. Presenting this information in an easily digestible yet engaging way is where most businesses start to struggle.

Finding a concise way to communicate your value (and your values) is a powerful business asset, which is the main reason that most companies spend months, or even years, refining their elevator pitch. So how can you effectively communicate this information to potential customers?

The first thing to understand is customers are time-poor – they’re looking for succinct information about who you are, what you do and why they should be shopping with you. While your first instinct might be to kit out your website with a series of lengthy paragraphs detailing the intricacies of your offering, the reality is you need to communicate fast to keep potential customers on your page with a good mix of written and visual content.

Successfully educating your consumers means capturing their attention and helping them to understand your proposition, while keeping them engaged so they don’t click away. This is where explainer videos come in.

An explainer video uses storytelling to convey your message clearly and concisely, with the use of stimulating animation to hold their attention. Their short format and animated imagery can help to illustrate core messages effectively, with a greater level of information retention compared to text alone.

Take the video we made for the Australian Driverless Vehicles Initiative (ADVI). To unpack the mystifying topic of driverless cars and how Australia can position itself as a key player in the field, we created a visual story of ADVI and its reason for being: the progression of autonomous vehicle technology at an international level and the developments needed on Australian soil to help us stay at the forefront of this global movement. All this in under two minutes.

After watching the video, viewers are aware of the pace of progression in the field, the benefits of the technology and the eventual goals of ADVI, ultimately inspiring them to place their trust in the organisation.

Simply put, if consumers don’t understand your offering, they’ll find it difficult to develop trust in your brand. Excelling by nailing your messaging and demonstrating best practise communication tactics like explainer videos will establish your place as an industry leader, strengthening your reputation and ideally building brand equity.

Whether you’re a veteran of the trade or just finding your legs, effective storytelling is essential to communicate your value proposition to consumers. A great explainer video will make the perfect pitch, every time.

5 things every NFP needs to think about...

· Tricks of the trade · , ,

This article by Caroline Catterall originally appeared on Pro Bono Australia.

According to JBWere’s Cause Report (2016), there are more than 56,894 NFP organisations in Australia. That’s one NFP for every 422 individuals with around 10 new charities being established every business day.  Each is vying for attention and in most cases, the disposable income of businesses and consumers.  So how do you cut through in a cluttered market? Here are five reasons NFP’s need to think about content marketing.

1. PR may not be your silver bullet

A lot of NFPs turn to PR as their first port-of-call for raising awareness and ‘getting their story out there,’ and for good reason.  PR is comparatively inexpensive when compared to other forms of marketing, and can be an incredibly effective way of building empathy and an emotional connection with your audience.  The truth is when PR works, it works well.  The impact a well-positioned, on-message piece of editorial can deliver is second to none.  But what happens when you run out of news, want to deliver a more commercial message, or want complete control over the timing and delivery of your message?

2. You’ve hit the point of diminishing returns

Some NFPs will reach a point in their communications lifecycle where they hit the point of diminishing returns with PR. The first headline published about the brand was powerful and exciting, it brought the NFP to the surface of consumers’ awareness and created substantial value for the organisation. As you continue to flex the PR muscle however, the results can start to become less substantial. This can happen for a number of reasons. While it’s sometimes possible to ‘refresh’ a PR program and come up with new angles the media is more interested in, an NFP’s objectives might not always line up with the media’s agenda and this can throw your message off-track.  That’s why we advocate a combined earned and owned strategy, that combines PR with brand publishing and content marketing, to allow NFP clients to be more in control of their communications.

NFPs need content marketing - source

3. Keep two-hands on the wheel

A well-balanced ratio to keep in mind is 40/60.  For an emerging NFP that needs to sustain its profile but must also think and act commercially, we recommend 40% of the total budget be dedicated to earned media, and the remaining 60% to content creation and marketing.  Owned content can be used, reused, dressed up, broken into bite size pieces and circulated year-round. Through our work with Red Nose (formerly SIDS & Kids), we developed a suite of owned content assets that turned into an award-winning campaign. The content was pushed out via a public relations campaign, hosted on their website, used in eDMs, leveraged extensively across their social channels and broadcast for a number of months as a community service announcement.

4. It is a ‘must-have’ in your budget

Content is no longer a nice addition if you happen to have extra budget, it’s a highly consumed information source. Russell Sparkman of FusionSpark Media says that “non-profits have to make budgeting for content a priority when creating their budgets; the reality of the world we live in today is that content for advancing non-profit goals is as essential as oxygen is to breathing. It can’t be an afterthought or a task relegated to the when-we-can-afford-it shelf.”  According to Forbes, global Internet traffic from videos will make up 80% of all Internet traffic by 2019 and four times as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product or offering than read about it.

5. Be your own biggest advocate

But of course, there’s no point serving up your own content if it’s not going to hit the intended audience or get a reach that justifies the cost of producing it.  That’s why brands need to become their own publishers and start to look at their digital assets – namely their core website and any microsites – as vehicles to drive traffic, and social media platforms as the way to rally and recruit an audience, alongside SEO and search marketing.  Your social channels have the potential to reach prospective donors and advocate in the same way a media headline does.  Even better, combine the two with SEO and you might just find that silver bullet you were looking for.

Find out more about our work with not-for-profits across Australia, including St John AmbulanceRed Nose and Wesley Mission Victoria, or get in contact to see how we could work with your brand.

Is all publicity good publicity?

· Tricks of the trade · , ,

Brand management in a crisis.

If your brand has ever had a difficult run-in with the media, it’s hard to take an organisation seriously when they claim “there is no such thing as bad publicity”. Particularly when dealt with the wrong way, an organisation can receive terrible publicity that can have a detrimental impact on the brand and business.

The good, the bad and the ugly.

In the age of social media, bad news travels fast. A brand’s first response will always be the one people remember, and if this comes from a place of frazzled urgency, you can find yourself in strife. United Airlines received more bad publicity than it could have bargained for this year, but it was the initial justification for its actions that truly disgruntled the public.

On April 9th 2017, a passenger was forcibly dragged from an overbooked United Airlines flight after refusing to forfeit his seat for a staff member, losing his front teeth and becoming bloodied in the scuffle. This letter to United staff was released on the day of the incident:

“This situation was unfortunately compounded when one of the passengers we politely asked to deplane refused and it became necessary to contact Chicago Aviation Security Officers to help,” United CEO Oscar Munoz wrote. “Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this. While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right.”

It only took a day for the second letter to be released which refuted the actions taken and provided the deepest apologies to the passenger that was forcibly removed from the plane. Unfortunately, this was too little too late – the damage had been done.

bad publicity for united airlines makes headlines

A diamond in the rough.

It’s important to remember that it is possible to come back from condemnation. In late 2015, Airbnb came under fire with bad publicity when research revealing customers with “distinctively African-American names are 16% less likely to be accepted relative to identical guests with distinctively White names.” That data was only compounded by reports on social media from travellers who experienced that discrimination first-hand, as well as a lawsuit over such actions.

Acting as the true hero the brand seeks to portray, its CEO released this letter which took a profound stance on the issue:

Bias and discrimination have no place on Airbnb, and we have zero tolerance for them. Unfortunately, we have been slow to address these problems, and for this I am sorry. I take responsibility for any pain or frustration this has caused members of our community. We will not only make this right; we will work to set an example that other companies can follow.

And indeed it has. This branded indiscretion has resulted in Airbnb taking a stand against not only racial discrimination, but becoming a vocal advocate for marriage equality also.

Airbnb turning bad publicity into advocacy

Sorry shouldn’t be the hardest word.

To be clear, brands will always be vulnerable to bad publicity, but mastering your rise from the ashes could be what saves your name (and your neck). As Airbnb so humbly showed, admitting to your mistakes and apologising is a good start if there are no legal implications.

So, what can you do to prevent hordes of villagers chasing you with pitchforks?

Test potential scenarios and put your plan in writing. Pick your spokespeople, your channels and your approach, and review your plan regularly to ensure it’s up to date. This may seem menial, but when your team is in shock about the meteor coming their way, you’ll be glad to have something that was prepared on a calmer, sunnier day. Acknowledge the situation, apologise to the effected parties, state your values and outline your plan of attack moving forward.

Bad publicity doesn’t have to have the last word. Who knows, you may just come out better for it in the end.

Find out more about our work with consumer brands and corporate clients across Australia, or get in contact to see how we could work with your brand.

Embracing industry change

· Tricks of the trade · , ,

Top tips for the Retail Industry.

No matter what industry you work in, it’s likely you’re witnessing the impact that advances in technology have on your workplace, whether it’s on the way you work, the tools you work with, or the way you interact with your customers.

With each year that passes, businesses around the globe see their trajectories alter and even change course as they battle to keep up with the rapid development of technology and altering customer expectations. What was once the newest ‘must-have’ innovation becomes the expected standard, and something new takes its place.

The retail industry is no stranger to this pattern. With over a decade of experience in providing PR support to the retail and FMCG industries, our agency has seen first-hand how retail is being revolutionised by advances in tech and innovation. Today, consumers’ expectations of service are greater than ever.

Whether you’re comfortable with change or not, it’s an inevitable part of doing business. It keeps things fresh, but it’s also how you continue to learn, grow and ultimately, how you remain successful.

Top tips for the retail industry

Here are my top three reasons for why those in the retail industry should embrace change.

It challenges the status quo:

One of our core values as an agency is to push boundaries. Don’t be afraid to ask the question ‘why?’. That one word could lead to new ideas that may change the way you do business and measure your success, as well as impact your bottom line.

The rising trend of ‘retailtainment’ is case in point. Australian retailer General Pants has introduced interactive kiosks to their stores, giving consumers the chance to browse staff picks, add to the instore music playlist or even ask shoppers nationally for their opinions on pieces of clothing in real-time. Retailtainment takes into consideration the fact that shoppers are looking for more than something to spend their money on: they’re looking for an experience, and the experience you provide will be what sets you apart from your competitors.

This notion isn’t just limited to retail; the FMCG industry is a playground for those looking for innovative ways to refresh the customer experience. For example, we worked with Anchor Milk on a project which challenged the notion that ‘milk is milk’. By demonstrating how Anchor Milk’s product is made and educating consumers about why they should care about how their milk is made, consumers weren’t just buying the brand, they were experiencing it.

It forces you to adapt and remain relevant:

The truth is your business may be plodding along just fine with the same-old marketing strategy that keeps it afloat year on year. But with the retail landscape being disrupted by digital and technology at such a rapid rate, you need to adapt to change or risk stagnating and becoming irrelevant.

Omni-channel marketing is now the standard. Consumers expect retailers to have a digital presence and those who don’t are likely to lose customers to the convenience of their competitor’s offering. Over March, Melbourne’s fashion scene witnessed “Shop the Runway” at the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF), where consumers could instantly purchase the items they had just seen on the runway through VAMFF’s website and social channels. And the FMCG industry isn’t missing out on the action either. Fast-food company Dominos has integrated an ordering system into its Facebook page to reach consumers on the platform where they’re spending most of their time.

It brings opportunity:

The atmosphere of change can reinvigorate your staff and your business strategy if you’re up for the challenge. Be open to new technologies that can change the way you operate.

Today we have the incredible ability to take a close look at the digital footprint of our consumers. We have answers to the questions we always wanted to know about who our customers are, where they are and how they shop. With such a vast amount of data at our fingertips, there’s no excuse not to tailor your offering to suit their needs.

By that, I don’t mean personalising a mass marketing email with their name, but exploring how new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence can propel your business ahead of your competition. For example, you could use AI to automate key areas of your work, such as restocking, enabling you to consider factors such as the weather, purchase rates and consumer behaviour when predicting your stock needs. Powerful stuff!

Remember, everything changes. But change is exciting: when we change, we adapt and move forward. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how the retail industry grows and adapts to meet the new challenges 2017 presents.

Find out more about our work with consumer brands and corporate clients across Australia, or get in contact to see how we could work with your brand.

Tech & Comms at Talk55

· Tricks of the trade · , ,

Keep Left’s Tim Lele, Account Director for the corporate and tech PR teams, presented at IABC Victoria’s Talk55 event this week. Here are some of the key insights he presented on how the CIO can be a comms leader’s best asset.

Talk55 event banner - tech talk

Back to the future

Look at any daily newspaper today, and you will see that technology underpins many of our most important stories. It impacts every business, government or not for profit in some way. This can be seen in the national debates over Australia’s energy future. Old coal fired power plants are out – and Tesla’s new high-tech battery farms are in. In the business pages, almost every article is about Aussie innovation, start-ups and disruption.

We have a fascination with the future and that’s why I believe technology stories are so powerful in the comms landscape. Rather than looking back at what has happened, tech gives us an opportunity to provide a vision for a better tomorrow and puts brands front and centre. This is why communicators need to be in tune with the CIO and technologists in their organisations. But unfortunately, not enough comms people engage with the tech boffins in their business, allowing incredible media opportunities to pass them by as a result.

Talking the tech talk

As comms people, our aim is to eliminate all acronyms and technical jargon. CIOs, CTOs, and IT people on the other hand are often the most engrossed in the language of tech. They’re used to speaking in jargon that can be bamboozle comms pros and is altogether too complex for customers, media and stakeholders.

As with any complex topic, it’s important to ask “how would you explain this to a seven-year-old?” The key from our side is to understand just enough of this jargon that it can be translated into messages that media, consumers and stakeholders will understand.  Not only for the sake of proactive media, but also because some of the biggest issues and crisis risks for a business today can come from technology in the form of data breaches or major outages. This is when you need clear and simple language; and where the power of a well-trained spokesperson comes in.

DIY Thought Leader

Finding a tech spokesperson that media will love can be a difficult task. They need to know their company, offering and industry back to front; have a strong and informed opinion on current issues; and, most importantly, be able to communicate complexity in a simple way.

If you don’t have a person that meets these criteria, then you need to create one. Even if they are nowhere near media ready, find someone with passion in their voice about technology and the difference it can make for the industry and consumers. Media training can always be taught, but that initial spark is the thing that will make their insights electric.

As a takeaway, I have three pieces of advice for you:

Firstly, embrace technology as a story telling opportunity. Whether you like it or not technology is impacting every organisation – so take advantage of it.

Secondly, educate yourself as best you can in the language of technology.

And finally, if you can’t put your hand on heart say that you know who the CIO and technical experts are in your organisation, then find out. With a little bit of coaching, you might develop a new thought leader or reliable spokesperson in times of crisis.

Find out more about our work with corporate and technology clients or get in contact to see what we can do for your business.

10 Tips for a Killer Media Performance

· Tricks of the trade · , , ,

Speaking to the media can be a daunting experience. Preparation is key and we take a very specific approach to getting our clients media-ready at Keep Left.  As no one likes ‘bad talent,’ we thought we’d share our top tips for a killer media performance.  What else have you found works?

  1. An interview it not a normal conversation: You wouldn’t repeat yourself in a normal conversation.  It’s okay to repeat yourself in an interview.
  2. In fact, repetition is good: Know your top 3 key messages and make sure you get these in early, as an interview can go very fast once it’s started.
  3. Practise your elevator pitch: The broadest questions are often the hardest to answer but on the positive, it gives you the opportunity to communicate your elevator pitch, so it’s worth practising.
  4. Remember your audience: Know the audience the journalist is reporting for and tailor your responses accordingly.
  5. Put yourself in the shoes of a journalist: A journalist is looking for a story that will inform, educate and entertain their audience.
  6. Find a bridge: The trick to a successful interview is to find a bridge between what you want to say (company message) and what the journalist wants to hear (the angle / what’s in the public interest).
  7. It’s okay to not know the answer: If you don’t know, just say so and we can circle back with the journalist after the interview.
  8. Stand up for phone interviews: This expends the diaphragm and allows for better projection.  Especially important for radio interviews.
  9. Bridging statements: If you get cornered with a question you don’t want to answer, use bridging statement to navigate your way out i.e.:  “That’s an interesting question, but what I’m here to talk to you about today is…” or “I see your point, however the interesting thing here really is…”
  10. Feel free to ask the journalist questions too: We’re all consumers at the end of the day, so feel free to ask a few questions back.

Tech Pitch – Influencer Marketing

· Campaigns, Tricks of the trade · , , , , ,

The power of a good Instagram or Facebook post – that hits the right audience, with the right message, at the right time – can be transformative for brands and campaigns as part of an integrated public relations campaign.  As part of our Tech Series, we’re shining the light on influencer marketing platform Hypetap this month, which we’ve been trialling with a few clients.  They also just got a nice mention in The Age’s small business section.  Meet Detch and Nik from Hypetap.

How franchise brands can get more value from social media

· Tricks of the trade

In 2015, it’s no longer about whether or not your brand has a social media presence; it’s about whether you are making the most of that presence to grow your business.

There’s a staggering 13 million active Facebook users in Australia, LinkedIn has more than 5 million while 2.8 million Tweet. Businesses continue to make up an increasing number of these profiles.

The reality is, even if you don’t have a Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn profile, your customers, competitors and peers are likely already talking about you there – both the good and the bad. It’s simply a matter of whether you are prepared to join those conversations and influence your stakeholders, or else lose the engagement opportunity all together.

So how can you get more value from social media and take your franchise to the next level? Here’s my top four tips:

1.       Develop a clear strategy

It seems obvious, but you need to think about social media the way you would any other professional marketing or communications tool. Too many businesses simply decide to set up a Facebook page and share a few updates and images and then get frustrated when the likes don’t come flooding in.

A social media strategy needs to map your target audiences, research what social media platforms your market is active in, and develop an effective social media content plan through which to engage with them.

2.       Create content plans

Next you need to decide the content pillars that will make up the majority of your posts and map them out over a month or week to develop a content schedule. Whether its images of healthy food, the latest economic figures or social events taking place in the local area, you need to think about the topics and themes that reflect your brand and resonate most with your target audience.

Keep Left client Endota Spa is a great example of knowing your audience and sharing original content their clients want to engage with. A scroll through the beautiful images on their Facebook and Instagram profiles and you can’t help but feel relaxed – you can almost smell the lavender oil.

3.       Professional development and networking

Social media shouldn’t only be about your brand’s presence. As a leader, your personal social media engagement can be a great advertisement for your company, while providing new networking and learning opportunities.

Our client the Franchise Council of Australia (FCA) manage a LinkedIn discussion group, which is a good place to start. With more than 400 members from a wide cross section of the Australian franchising community including franchisors, franchisees consultants and industry experts, the group is a fantastic forum for open discussion about everything franchising. Having some of the industry’s leading minds available to answer questions and share their thoughts is valuable resource.

4.       Franchise recruitment

While your brand persona on social media can help attract potential franchisees, LinkedIn is a platform where you can actively target new recruits.

A LinkedIn company Page should be the digital shopfront of your brand. It is where you can share company updates and career opportunities and gather powerful testimonials from customers and employees.

Surprisingly, very few Australian franchise brands are utilising LinkedIn company pages to their full potential. Aussie home loans and Smartline Personal Mortgage Advisers are two best practice examples.

In addition to their keyword rich and regularly updated company home page, each has a ‘Careers’ tab which includes YouTube videos showing what it is like to work for the company. They highlight referrals from franchisees and employees and advertise franchise opportunities and other corporate positions that are available.

One of the great things about social media is that it’s a true leveler. No matter how big or small your franchise is, every brand has the ability to create a strong digital presence. So take a fresh look at your social media presence and how you could be getting more value from your engagement with customers, suppliers and potential franchisees.

Tim Lele is an Account Manager at Keep Left.