Friday, 20 December 2013

Social Media: The Moments That Made 2013

525,949 minutes: that all it takes to make a year, and with 4,000 tweets per second that makes 2,102,400,000 (that’s two billion, 102 million, four hundred thousand) opportunities to create controversy, spread joy, share frustration and even change the world. And that’s just on Twitter; try to imagine all the other social networks and how many posts these are clocking up each second. It’s enough to make your mind boggle, and to make your Internet Explorer crash.

2013 has been quite the year for many of these social networks, and they’ve been cemented even more as the number one source for news for many people. They’ve also extended their offering to brands looking to market themselves in fresh ways. So, to celebrate another successful social year, here’s a list of the top five biggest moments of 2013!

5. Andy Murray Wins Wimbledon

Seems so long ago doesn’t it? But it was just 5 months ago that Andy Murray became the first Brit to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry. Twitter and Facebook both burst to life with congratulatory messages - as well as the obligatory memes that captured Murray’s emotions during the match…

It seemed the Sport’s Personality of the Year judges were impressed though, as he also walked away with this title. Oddly enough though, this resulted in a bizarre tweet from main sponsors, Adidas:

A back handed compliment or a dig at his critics? It’s not quite clear…

4. The Boston Marathon Bombings

An example of how quickly news travels in the age of social media was seen this year after the Boston bombings, where before the mainstream channels had begun reporting the incident, locals at the scene were updating their family and friends via Facebook timelines. A quarter of Americans also received their news on the matter through social networks. However, the bombings also reminded us that social media is taking a steep learning curve when it comes to reliable information sharing: early posts reporting the bombers had been arrested proved to be untrue, and images of a potential suspect where wrongly identified as a missing student, resulting in an apology from Reddit.

3. ‘Selfie’

Little did Instagram user JenLee know what she was doing when she posted what seems to be a typical picture of herself on Instagram back in 2011, but from this post the #selfie was born!

Fast-forward to 2013 and ‘selfie’ is the word of the year and every celebrity worth their fee on Big Brother is taking them, as well as the rest of us. I’d rather not see the behind of Kim Kardashian or a semi-naked Rhianna again, so instead I’ve chosen Barack Obama to illustrate how ‘selfies’ really are taking over the world:

Mind you, Michelle Obama doesn’t look too pleased about it…

2. The Death of Cory Monteith

The untimely death of Glee star Cory Monteith sparked an emotional tribute from girlfriend Lea Michelle, which went on to be the most popular tweet of 2013, with over 408,000 retweets across 133 countries. The young star’s passing resonated with millions and shows how social media is now used to communicate more than just everyday chat.

And finally, the number one most impactful moment of 2013 was…

1.       Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus created a whole host of social media storms over 2013: the pop princess chopped off her hair and shared it on Instagram, caused controversy at the VMAs and hit 300,000 Twitter mentions per second (the most in 2013), and bared all on a wrecking ball which smashed over 419,000,000 views on YouTube in the process. Miley Cyrus truly has mastered the art of using social media as a PR tool and defined herself as the image of rebellion. Good twerk, I mean, work, Miley. I just wish she would put that tongue away.

So, that’s my take on social media 2013 but the list is far from extensive - what do you think I’ve missed?

Friday, 6 December 2013

Will Amazon Drones Deliver?

Earlier this week, it was reported that online retailer, Amazon, was testing a prototype system that could revolutionise home delivery – packages transported by drones! It seems that the internet giant is developing a fleet of autonomous ‘octocopters’ in the US, designed to fly from its warehouses and literally drop customers’ orders on their lawns, using GPS tracking to find the right address. Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos says that he wants to use the new technology to replace couriers and slash despatch times to just 30 minutes in urban areas.

 Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nope, it’s just another Amazon delivery

It is unclear, as yet, whether this is a genuine innovation by Amazon, or simply an ingenious PR stunt. But, in an interview on American TV network CBS, Bezos appears completely serious about the octocopters’ viability, stating: “I know this looks like science fiction. It is not.”

I’m not sure if this delivery system, exciting as it is, will ever come to pass, although if they had been in service during the heady days of ‘Pottermania’, they would certainly have made my wait for my copy of the latest Harry Potter novel a little bit easier! But even if they don’t, the story, plastered as it is across the printed and online press, serves to reinforce Amazon’s brand image as a company committed to delivering customers’ orders as quickly and conveniently as possible.

However, if they do take off (geddit!?), then the octocopters will enable Amazon to take back its deliveries from the couriers it has to outsource to, and in doing so, take charge of its own customer care reputation. This is something Amazon has only limited control over at the moment, dependent as it is on the service quality and performance of these companies. The retailer can switch suppliers in response to customer feedback, but this tactic can only go so far towards preventing negative experiences in the future.

There are a number of hurdles Amazon will have to clear before it is allowed to get the blades spinning on its new service. The company will need approval from aviation authorities for the countries in which it wishes to introduce them, and will have to overcome the current public perception of drones as instruments of war rather than consumerism. If Amazon succeeds, though, I have no doubt the machines will deliver on their promise of a burnished brand image in the eyes of the general public.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Sorry, I #SpentItOnMyself – a brass neck turns heads

Admit it, we’ve all ooo-ed and aaaaw-ed at the various Christmas adverts to grace our TV screens in recent weeks. Bear and hare. The dad who’s home for Christmas. Ant and Dec.

Aaaw indeed.

But the Christmas advert that’s really caught my eye is from those crazy cads at Harvey Nichols who went completely against the grain with their marketing ploy for Christmas 2013.

The advert starts so well, with loveable family members excitingly opening presents, before they discover the gift within. Toothpicks. A sink plug. Paperclips. All essentials that you just don’t think about at this typically generous, giving time of year.

“They’re from Harvey Nichols, Gran – I don’t think anybody’s ever got you anything from Harvey Nichols before,” says the grandson after presenting his dear old nan with a packet of paperclips.


The ‘Sorry, I Spent It On Myself’ campaign has been received in two ways – outrage and laughter.

With the tag line – 'Tis the season to be self-indulgent! This Christmas, a little something for them means a bigger something for you’ – it was bound to turn heads.

“But that’s not the true meaning of Christmas!” I hear you cry.

But think of it this way, how many pointless presents have you bought in recent years, just to tick a box? For example, I need something for my friend’s friend. Errrrmmm… novelty socks, done!

If you’re planning to buy presents for people because you feel like you have to, it’s actually a false economy as the feeling’s probably mutual. And that present will probably never be worn or used.

So why not get a pack of toothpicks?

But back to the matter in hand, I admire Harvey Nichols’ brave stance on Christmas. The type of customer is clear – if you’re going into a Harvey Nichols store, you’re probably either splurging on yourself or you’re a very generous gift-giver. Or you’re pretty wealthy. Or all three.

The fact that Harvey Nichols has hit the nail firmly on the head is a stroke of genius. If you want to buy yourself a pair of Valentino shoes and splash out almost £600 on them, the chances are that there won’t be much left for Christmas presents.

Enter the Harvey Nichols ‘Sorry, I spent it on myself’ range of gifts!

These novelty presents are sold out across the Harvey Nichols’ website as people have obviously seen the ad, laughed, and thought “I must get me one of those” – and so the brave marketing plan has worked.

But, of course, if you’ve got a couple of hundred pounds sitting there doing nothing and you want some of the more expensive items in the advert, the website allows you to ‘shop the video’ taking the customer experience one step further. Genius.

Throughout all of this, the chain is not afraid to poke fun at itself, releasing the following quote:

“At this time of year it can be all too easy to get caught up in the spirit of giving. We hope that our new ‘Sorry, I Spent It On Myself’ gift collection will provide our customers with low-cost gifting options for others that will allow them to spoil themselves that little bit more this Christmas,” said Julia Bowe, Group Press & Marketing Director of Harvey Nichols.

It can be difficult to take risks with PR campaigns but Harvey Nichols has shown what is possible with a deep breath and a ‘let’s just go for it’ attitude.

Harvey Nicks – I salute you!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Apprentices 'stand up' at The Comedy Store

Tuesday 19th November saw me hot footing it over to The Comedy Store for the UK Public Sector Communications Awards – two milky coffees and a quick schmooze later, we headed to our seats and eagerly awaited the announcement of the hashtag for the event.

‘#pscawards’ was all we needed to hear - the smartphones emerged instantly and the free WiFi took an immediate beating.

Being the social media sponge that I am, I was really keen to hear what the guest speakers had to say.

First up was Paul Willis, weighing in on the best ways to be productive in modern PR/communications and sharing his opinions of the possible downfalls of online listening as a method of communication.

From a social media standpoint it’s hard not to see online listening as a relevant tool seeing as it’s a constant springboard into wider conversation, but it was really interesting to look at it from a different angle.

The second speaker was Amanda Coleman of Greater Manchester Police (GMP), discussing the ins and outs of GMP’s recent social media overhaul including the difficulties they faced in the beginning.

She explained how Police officers are programmed to tell, not to listen: “We wanted to be a trusted voice… we would be that point of contact and deal with what was taking place.”

However, perhaps the most inspiring of Amanda’s words were those with which she rounded off her time on stage: “To innovate, you have to take risks.”

Thirdly we heard from Andy Green, beginning his speech by telling us that we’re “museums whose job it is to be as compelling as possible.”

He commented on how we need two-way communication in order to be successful in PR and we need to respect the complexity that has arisen from recent changes: “Every bit of PR is now integrated, we can’t control but what we can do is influence.”

Andy’s approach to the language of PR was really interesting and he encouraged us all to be creative and not to fear the abnormal.

The final speaker we were lucky enough to hear from was a member of the NHS Blood and Transplant communications team, who shared with us their campaign to encourage blood donations - a rather dry subject that they have to communicate repeatedly: “It’s about finding new ways to communicate the same message.”

A particularly useful aspect of this speech was the advice for when you feel as though a campaign is going wrong (I may not be a seasoned social media professional but I’m no stranger to the sinking feeling when your best laid plans aren’t doing what they should!): “When you look back it will look fantastically organised, campaigns never feel like they’re running smoothly at the time… you have to be flexible.”

Now, all of this was exciting, insightful, inspiring… but there was of course a cherry on top of the awards cake.

Following in the footsteps of these excellent guest speakers, it was The Juice Academy’s turn on stage. Joined by Carly, Liam and myself, Sandy took to the stage to introduce the apprenticeship before handing over to us so that we could proudly fly the flag.

We perched on our stools in front of a professional audience and answered questions on all things social media, proving that our age does anything but hold us back in the workplace. 

The feedback we received was incredible and it was great to hear the compliments flooding in - it’s easy to feel a little bit lost when you’re a teenager in an industry led by adults.

The event organiser, Rowan Jamieson, was among those who shared their praise (not that I’m showing off): “The Juice Academy apprentices were absolutely fantastic and there’s been some great feedback on Twitter. I hope they found the day useful and enjoyable!”

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Next stop: Retweet junction!

People of Manchester, the day has finally arrived – the Metrolink service now has its own dedicated Twitter feed.

Given the tricky week encountered by the service so far (a wave of predicted frost and ice brought trams to a standstill on Tuesday) this is a very brave step, as it opens the floodgates for commuters to say what they really think, knowing they’ll get a response.

Metrolink last came under fire in the summer when the service failed while The Ashes were in town, prompting the author of satire website, News Manc, to write a heavily sarcastic open letter to Transport for Greater Manchester in response to its apology.

Said letter went viral, appearing on various national newspaper websites and being frantically shared across online platforms in a ‘we know exactly how you feel’ act of solidarity from fellow commuters and Mancunians in general.

One of the points raised in the letter was the fact that social media is a two-way communication tool. The Transport for Greater Manchester Twitter feed was being inundated with complaints from commuters, most of which went unanswered.

Which begged the question, why have a Twitter presence at all?

Now Metrolink has its own dedicated feed, commuters can be guaranteed a response from the control room and this morning, that duty fell on the shoulders of Maxine:

Maxine (and the social media team) is acting on behalf of Metrolink director, Peter Cushing, who has previously had to face the press when the service has failed on numerous occasions.

He has even hosted Twitter Q&As for disgruntled commuters to clear the air, which I feel has helped improve the overall image of the service with a digital audience.

I’d say the Twitter service is a step in the right direction for Metrolink. Commuters stuck at platforms these days do not just do the oh-so-British tutting and sighing when their transport doesn’t arrive – they head straight online and rant.

Having a facility to acknowledge said rant is essential. Sometimes, customers just need to know they’re being listened to, even if the response isn’t the one they necessarily want to hear:

It remains to be seen how the Metrolink Twitter feed is received across the city as this is its first full day in operation, but from the look of it, Maxine is doing a sterling job of answering queries and directing customers to the relevant people so far.

Long may this continue, especially as the snow starts to sweep in… 

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Texting Gloves and Other Top Tweeky* Christmas Gifts

It’s beginning to look a lot like… Christmas shopping hysteria has set in. Only two weeks into November and the majority of the Tangerine team is discussing when to hit the shops and how to tackle the throngs of Christmas market tourists. Our digital strategies are sorted; it’s the seasonal shopping strategy that’s worrying us.

So, what do you do if you find that your secret Santa is the office social media bod? Panic not. As unusual and difficult as these creatures are, getting a gift for one of them doesn’t have to be. You see, I’ve done the hard-work and selflessly sourced the best presents for any Facebook fan or LinkedIn lover, so you don’t have to. (Note: If you’d like to thank me, any of the below items would be happily received…)

The Twitter Fail Whale Necklace

No-one wants to see the Twitter fail whale, unless it’s around your neck in gold! This stylish and cute accessory is perfect for the social media lover who is fashion conscious. It is also *cough* my favourite of these items *cough*.

The Friend Cup

Being a social media expert can sometimes be a lonely job. When you’re knee deep in tweets, code and photo editing, making actual conversation with your friends can be a daily struggle. But no more! Give the gift of the Friend Cup and your social media buddy can have their whole circle of friends right there with their coffee.

The Social Media Citation Pad

As you will have learnt from my earlier blog about offences towards Facebook, one thing that makes social media folk sad inside is the abuse of networks by those not quite familiar with the etiquette of the online world. This pad helps to spread the message about appropriate content in an easy-to-use tick-box fashion, plus the receiver is guaranteed to be both relieved and grateful for the intervention!

Etre Fivepoint Gloves

As the name suggests, these beauties allow for touchscreen use, through your gloves. So simple, so genius, and certain to make all your cold-handed friends envious. Just remind anyone you purchase these for to not get too excited with screen tapping and end up letting the phone slide through the low friction fibres and on to the cold, hard floor below.

Are you a social media geek? What would you love for Christmas?

Bonfire of the Vanities

By Michael Wood, Senior B2B Copywriter, Tangerine PR @Fresh_from_Mike

Edenbridge clearly believes that Hopkins may have bitten off more than she can chew this year

Apparently, in place of the traditional Guy, the Edenbridge Bonfire Society in Kent elected to burn a rather more exotic effigy for this year’s Bonfire Night festivities – of ex-Apprentice contestant and Twitterstorm-monger, Katie Hopkins. Clutching a broomstick, with the slogan “Speak before you think” emblazoned across its chest and attempting to put an oversized foot in its mouth, the 40 ft. likeness was unceremoniously tossed onto the village’s bonfire to atone for the sins of the original.

Known for her controversial views on everything from children’s names, to the lovability of ginger babies, Hopkins has hit headlines a number of times this year. While these opinions have garnered hundreds of unflattering column inches, they have drawn thousands of people to her Twitter profile (68,448 at the last count). And now her antics have caught the eye of the Edenbridge Bonfire Society, a group notorious for burning effigies of celebrities embroiled in scandal, including disgraced cyclist, Lance Armstrong and ‘Sachsgate’ culprits, Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand. Event organisers cited Hopkins’s ‘outrageousness’ – or rather, her ability to provoke outrage – when justifying their choice of victim.

While being (symbolically, at least) set fire to seems a rather dubious honour, I feel this is in fact proof of the press power of Brand Hopkins. Whatever you feel about Hopkins’s views (what’s wrong with ginger babies!?), she has clearly struck a chord with thousands of people across the UK, drawn to her either because they actually agree with what she says, or simply because they enjoy the spectacle. She is not selling any product other than herself, but by sharing her shocking opinions, she has created and cultivated a reputation as a commentator on current affairs, generating coverage and an online profile that has earned her a lucrative column in the Sun newspaper.

Hopkins, of course, isn’t the first to discover the power of controversy in promoting a brand. The airline Ryanair is infamous for provoking outrage by suggesting that it intends to charge passengers for using its aeroplane toilets or even breathing inflight. Meanwhile, the boss of clothes brand Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F) has been accused of elitism after stating that he would not like to see his products worn by plus-size consumers.

Having an opinion, particularly an outrageous one, really can grab media attention, whether you’re an individual or a company. Newspapers love reporting them, and consumers lap them up, which is precisely why so many brands make a point of expressing them. By suggesting that customers should expect to be charged for bizarre optional extras, Ryanair can reinforce its image as a budget airline, while the uproar surrounding the comments of A&F’s CEO has strengthened its exclusive, ‘cool’ reputation.

A similar strategy is clearly behind Hopkins’s efforts to further her own career. Already remembered as an opinionated person from her time on the Apprentice, she has made use of her existing Twitter following to disseminate increasingly wild views until it has reached the attention of the papers, attracting new followers, and establishing her as a relevant ‘thought leader’.

Although an extreme example, Hopkins demonstrates that having an opinion will help get a brand noticed. Brands should be careful, however, not to alienate or anger too many people, as they may lose their pull, with obvious repercussions for sales. For brands courting controversy, it’s important above all to remember to “think before they speak”. 

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

YouTube Thrilled the Video Star

So first video killed the radio star and now it seems YouTube has thrilled the video stars – after this weekend’s first ever YouTube Awards.

Hosted by Jason Schwartzman and Reggie Watts (no, I am not young enough or cool enough to know who they are either), the awards did attract high profile stars such as Lady Gaga and Eminem, who saw himself win ‘Artist of The Year’.

The star studded guest list is testament to the importance of these new awards and a demonstration of how the ‘Generation C’ is consuming music.

Back in my day (yeah, I went there), we would wait patiently by the radio or VCR to record our favourite songs, carefully trying not to sneak the start of an advert in there. But now, people have an endless library of music videos at their fingertips.
Winners of the awards were chosen by taking into account YouTube views, likes and comments as well as subscription figures for different artists, with some videos being watched more than 200 million times!

With the likes of Justin Bieber being spotted on YouTube it really demonstrates the power of this social media platform – for good and evil, depending on your views of the pint sized pop stars. But no one can deny it has changed the way we consume music.

A recent Nielsen survey showed 64 per cent of American adolescents said they listened to music on YouTube, compared with 56% who listened to radio! But it does beg the question – what comes next? 

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Social Media, Storytelling and Sustainability

This month I headed down to the big smoke to discover how social media can be used to improve companies’ telling of their sustainability stories. Huge alliteration issues aside, sustainable story-telling is often very hard for businesses to do effectively.

When it goes wrong, it can be very damaging for the brand image, as well as team confidence – why bother trying to show your sustainable virtues, when it seems such a hassle?

It was these issues that The Guardian’s, ‘Harnessing Social Media for Story Telling in Sustainability’ seminar aimed to tackle. The panel of industry experts, including Julia Monro (social media manager for Marks & Spencer), Rachel Depree (stakeholder engagement manager at BskyB), Katie Doble-Birch (interim global digital engagement director at Barclaycard) and Vicky Gillies, (marketing manager, Cloud Computing, IBM), took us through their companies’ approaches to sustainability and how social media has helped to realise their respective goals. The session was very insightful and showed how even larger companies face the same difficulties as smaller companies when it comes to social media. On a positive note though, we also learnt about their successes and advice when it comes to sustainable story-telling – here are the top three tips:

(Note: Rules of the seminar stated we couldn’t repeat stories with named companies, so I’ll leave it to you to guess…)

Create relevant content:
The most basic rule of social media management. It’s not surprising that the panel reiterated that producing timely, informative and/or humorous content is key to any campaign’s success, and that goes for sustainability too. Using adverts to promote one companies’ work with the WWF (the World Wildlife Fund, not the World Wrestling Federation) was highly successful as the content was humorous and related to the TV programme that was showing. As the same time, the use of a relevant hashtag drove audiences to connect with the brand on Twitter.

Speak to your audience:
Constantly broadcasting content is a waste of time for both you and your audience. If you want to use social media to tell your sustainable story, you must open a two-way dialogue and your customers will expect you to respond to their questions and feelings. A good example of this was about the highly famous pig-shaped sweets that are now available in vegetarian varieties – this wouldn’t have happened without the feedback received on social media. Now, this is obviously not a sustainability topic as such, but the principle remains the same: if you are available on social media, you must be prepared to accept feedback and take action.

Don’t Greenwash:
Or ‘Scarecrow wash’, as some are calling it after American company Chipotle’s sustainability advert backfired somewhat. The issue was that rather than showcasing the company’s credible supply chain and approach to farming, it made the rest of the world seem like one fast-food nightmare and left everyone who watched it feeling depressed, rather than impressed. It then emerged the company’s supply chains weren’t as pure as had been made out, which created distrust. The lesson here is to be honest with your audience; sustainability is a journey and there will always be work to do. If you’re open they will reward you with their trust.

I hope these tips help you to share your sustainable story on social media, let us know how you get on!

Monday, 4 November 2013

Wonga: the Movie – will it win the critics over?

Anticipation is reaching breaking point today as one of 2013’s biggest blockbusters is premiering. No, it’s not Gravity, Thor or even Jackass: Bad Grandpa. It’s 12 Portraits – a half hour documentary showcasing 12 different Wonga customers and their experiences with the payday lending firm.

These customers include a range of people, like a biker who needed fuel at 2am and a man who borrowed to pay for his girlfriend’s 21st birthday party.

This film comes after widespread criticism of Wonga and the payday lending industry in general. Everyone seems to have something to say about the firm and its 5853% APR, from business minister Jo Swinson to the Archbishop of Canterbury and footballer Papis Cisse.

Despite all this, Wonga remains wildly successful.

It recently posted profits of an astounding £1 million every single week and apparently one million shoppers plan to use the payday lender to fund Christmas.

Wonga is insistent, too, that its customers are very happy with the service it provides, and that these satisfied voices are woefully underrepresented in the media and public opinion. A quick look at their ‘OpenWonga’ website, which collects feedback from customers, reveals comments like this one:

I swear I would be lost if I didn't have a WONGA account!!! I am on a 2 day business trip and left my purse at home :( logging into wonga and a few mins later I have just enough money to last until I get home!!!! Thanks WONGA!!! Xx

Clearly some people like Wonga so much, they’re happy to leave them kisses.

So, this film appears to be an attempt by the firm to show that it is not a ‘shark’, as it is often portrayed by newspapers. It is a responsible lender that simply gives customers what they want – quick cash with minimum fuss.

Wonga maintains that many of its customers are not struggling or desperate, they just want an alternative to banks.

And it’s true that Wonga has left conventional lenders in the dust when it comes to lending at any time of day, for any length of time. It sees its high interest rates as a ‘premium’ to pay for such a convenience – like taking a taxi.

In this film, I’m predicting we’ll see well-to-do young people who get into a bit of a temporary scrape, borrow only as much as they need and pay it back early. No biggie.

However, I’m really not sure that it will convince any of Wonga’s critics to change their minds on the subject. There are still horror stories of the £100 loan that turns into much more, rolling over every month and quickly escalating beyond control.  

As for Wonga’s customers, I get the feeling that they would borrow from the payday lender anyway – film or no film. 

They will continue to use quick fixes until conventional lenders catch up, or until more is done to educate people about the alternatives to payday loans (for example going to your local credit union or asking for an advance on your wages from your employer).

Oh, and they’ll also need some geriatric puppets to make their message a bit friendlier:

Lost in Translation?

What every language graduate aspires to have on his or her bookshelf

According to a recent report by Education Guardian, the number of universities offering modern languages courses in the UK has fallen from 93 in 1998 to just 56 in 2014, a drop of almost 40 per cent, due to a fall in take up among school leavers. Despite this, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) believes that poor linguistic skills among the working population are holding back our economic recovery, acting as “a tax on UK trade” and leaving our major brands unable to communicate with key international audiences.

As a foreign language graduate myself, ça m’inquiète! In a globalised world and in an economy that is increasingly reliant on trade with the EU and the ascendant BRICs economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China, why do so few school leavers consider languages worthy of further study? Why are the career benefits of learning a foreign tongue not being successfully promoted to our nation’s young people?
Speaking another language is not simply about being able to order a beer or ask where the train station is when you are on holiday, it offers you a whole new world to explore. It opens up new cultures, viewpoints and a different way of thinking to you that I wouldn’t trade for the world. And, most importantly, multilingualism makes it easier to do business with potential customers in new markets, a skill that should be indispensable for an outward-looking UK PLC.

Now, as more and more British companies enter new international markets, they will have to communicate the benefits of their products or services to new customers with little or no prior knowledge of their brand. While many British businesses achieve this every day with customers in the UK, the same tactics will not necessarily work in different countries. A new communications strategy for establishing their brand in new territory, tailored for that specific media landscape and market, must be developed.

Team members, or a partner communications agency, based either in the UK or the target country, with knowledge and experience of the local language and culture, should be integral in this process, as they will understand the cultural and linguistic faux pas that must be avoided to develop a marketing programme in line with the brand’s key messaging. On a more practical level, multilingual professionals, and PR agencies, are best placed to research the media landscape and to talk with journalists in their langue maternelle, helping to build the kind of strong relationships that secure positive coverage.

However, if there is a shrinking pool of multilingual people of working age, how can businesses build a rapport with journalists in overseas markets? Google Translate and other online translation tools, while they have improved in leaps and bounds over the past few years, cannot offer the nuance and subtlety needed to develop trust with the media. The reliance of my monoglot friends on such tools has left them red faced on holiday before now, believe me.

The international economic landscape is changing, and we cannot rely on the current exalted status of English as the global lingua franca to keep UK PLC in the game. It is more crucial than ever that businesses recruit employees, or engage partner agencies, adept at communicating in multiple languages to ensure that their brand messaging is conveyed accurately and effectively, and with a strategy appropriate for the target market. Businesses, and the nation as a whole, need to invest in modern languages education now, and work harder to promote the career benefits to young people, to help protect our economic interests in the years to come.

Friday, 1 November 2013

What Is Google Hummingbird? [INFOGRAPHIC]

By Jess Matthewman, Junior Digital Strategist @JessMatthewman 

Google’s latest update is upon us, but what does it all mean? Here’s a handy infographic summary to fill you in:

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Tangerine PRos at work experience

I had the luxury of doing work experience at Tangerine PR for two weeks  recently and I’m happy to say it has been the best work experience I’ve had to date.

Immediately, things were looking good when I first sat at my desk and there was a jar of chocolates in front of me. Unfortunately they weren’t just for my morning stomach rumbles; the point of the jar was to share the chocolates and exchange them for interesting facts about fellow Tangerine’s – such a good ice breaker and a great way to get to know people. Who’d have thought there would be cheerleaders and Les Mis singers in the office?

One thing that has really impressed me is the way everyone has been so willing to let me get involved and help me out. It can be hard being a work experience person because you are there to learn, but you don’t want to use up peoples’ valuable time in the process. Everyone here has been great at taking time out of their working day to give me feedback and answer any questions I may have.  

The thing I like about PR is the variety. In a single day you might be meeting clients, writing press releases, tweeting, or planning an exciting event.  From where I was sitting it looked like no day was the same and this is very appealing to me as a graduate trying to find out what career I want to pursue.

The favourite part of my work experience was doing some event planning and getting to grips with press releases.  Event planning is rewarding because you can see everything coming together and it brought out the happy organisational side of me. Press releases, I found, are more difficult than first thought. Getting the right tone of voice is essential, as well as making sure all the key information is there in the right way. I learnt a lot about how to go about writing a press release and why they are so important.

Finally, I would say the best thing about working here has been the ‘vibe’. It is the thing you can’t quite put your finger on but you just feel you’re in a warm and friendly environment. It might be the people, it might be the décor, or it might be the table in the kitchen overflowing with baked goods and chocolate – who knows. It’s probably a combination of all three.

Thanks everyone – it has been a really useful experience and I will never see a press release in the same way again! 

#Caketober – Tangerines know how to raise dough!

Thursday 24th October… Wayne Rooney’s birthday, the anniversary of the final Concorde flight and United Nations Day.

But, even more exciting than this, it was also the day #Caketober took over Tangerine Towers.

Thanks to generous donations from colleagues, clients and friends of the agency, we raised an amazing £775 (and still rising) for Forever Manchester – the charity for people with a passion for Manchester.

But of course, in return for said donations, we had the tricky task of eating cake. All day.

We added some spice to the recipe for our day though, and it was wooden spoons at dawn for a day of sugar-fuelled competition.

With certificates up for grabs for Best Flavour, Best Presentation and Ultimate WOW Factor, the Tangerines most certainly had their game faces on.

Even if they said they weren’t competitive.

A plethora of cakes, biscuits and chocolates arrived in the break out area to be looked at, sniffed and eaten – the judging panel had a hard job to do, but someone had to do it.

Key 103’s Paul Lockitt and The Business Desk’s Joanne Birtwistle joined forces with our very own Sandy, Sarah and Mary to put the treats to the test.

With comments such as “look at the crumb on that”, “it’s slightly dark around the edges”, “oh, the fork goes right through that” and “moist” flying around the boardroom, they took their roles very seriously.

Taking everything into account, they chose three worthy winners:

Best Presentation: Jo Dudley’s Cookie Monster Muffins...

Best Flavour: Caroline Gibson’s Raspberry and White Chocolate Cookies...

Ultimate WOW Factor: Becci Fahey’s Tangerine Cake Pops...

We also had vintage homemade pinnies on sale and raffle prizes on display to raise extra funds. Here’s our apprentice, Dan, sampling the wares and taking one for the team:

To raise EVEN more, we also had a jar packed full of Freddos on display for Cadbury fans to guess just how many were inside:

The lucky winner was Caroline (a double winner on the day, if you will) who walked away with 69 whole Freddos, all to herself.

We’re now all eyeing up said jar and offering our services to ‘help’ her finish them.

A huge thank you to everyone who came to Tangerine Towers for a day of “it’s for charity, so I’ll take one of everything” – your money will make a big difference!

Monday, 28 October 2013

Heading in the Right Direction

Throughout secondary school, and then on through sixth form or college, young people are encouraged to try their very best with the aim of going to university. But is this the best option for everyone?

Going to university can lead to exciting opportunities allowing people to study in subjects they are passionate about while leading a fun life and opening up many doors for future job prospects.

However, pursuing an apprenticeship is an alternative path that can give people the same opportunity, enabling people to study for well respected qualifications whilst also earning and applying their skills into a professional role.

The general perception of apprenticeships is that they cater only for people interested in construction or beauty, but the range of availability has drastically increased over the years. Apprenticeships now offer roles within new and professional businesses for a wider range of skills, including social media.

Choosing between university or apprenticeship is not a question of ‘plan A or plan B’, but simply about what is right for the individual.

While many 18 year olds across the country were packing up their belongings ready to head to university, I was one of the many who instead chose the apprenticeship path, and I’m very glad I did.

While the idea of moving onto higher education for three years and coming out with £27,000 worth of debt doesn’t faze many people, to me it made no sense. In 2012, half of new university graduates didn’t have a full time job and with the UK job market getting progressively worse, I found the best option for me was to get my foot on the career ladder as early as possible.

The Juice Academy, the UK’s first communications industry-led apprenticeship scheme from Tangerine PR, made finding a placement painless and enjoyable! The bootcamp day was both fun and productive, giving me an opportunity to stand out, helping reach the position I’m in now, one of the Tangerine team.

More and more teenagers are discovering the benefits apprenticeships bring and the impact on their career. I’m already a convert after seeing the great way it helped me gain the chance to experience work in a professional role in a very well respected company.

Where do you stand on the ‘university or apprenticeship’ debate?

Monday, 21 October 2013

Tesco has the food waste problem in the bag

Fair play to Tesco. After the horrendous horse meat scandal comes the food waste issue, which the company is tackling head on.

Today’s papers have been littered with the fact that the supermarket chain threw away almost 30,000 tonnes of food in the first six months of the year.

A bold statement to come out and make, but also a potential stroke of genius.

Tesco has used its own research and industry-wide figures to estimate that 68% of salad sold in bags across the UK food industry was wasted – 35% of which was thrown out by customers.

Yes, salad isn’t the most exciting food stuff and I bet the percentages wouldn’t be as high for less perishable goods, like chocolate for example. And other yummy stuff.

But still, our mate Tesco is doing its bit to reduce the amount of food thrown away by its own staff and its customers, by introducing measures to reduce wastage, including developing promotions for smaller bags of salad.

Matt Simister, Tesco's commercial director of group food, said there was “no quick-fix single solution” to tackling food waste.

“Families are wasting an estimated £700 a year and we want to help them keep that money in their pockets, rather than throwing it in the bin,” he said.

“We're playing our part too and making changes to our processes and in store.

“Ending multi-buy promotions on large packs of bagged salads is one way we can help, but this is just the start and we'll be reviewing what else we can do.”

This has sparked the long-running debate about multi-buys and whether they actually save you money or just fill up your bin quicker.

As someone in the process of buying her first house ( I can’t help feeling like we could all shop smarter - and not just with smaller bags of salad.

It’s been said millions of times, but I will be doing my food shopping with a list of things I actually NEED and trying not to go on the rampage with a grumbling tummy, throwing all kinds of multipacks into my trolley (and opening them before even making it to the till).

I’m glad Tesco is taking some of the burden on its shoulders and is looking out for the consumer more than its profits on this occasion, instead of pushing prices and promotions onto us.

Then again, maybe we just need the willpower to say NO to buying big bags of salad. Oh, what a chore that would be…