5 mistakes that well-known brands made in marketing campaigns

Marketing is a delicate beast at times.

Campaigns can be sprawling and extensive, yet also interconnected and with short-term goals. Whether or not you are operating in an agile way, finding the right balance of so many facets – such as messaging, tone of voice, visuals and audiences – requires lots of thought. And the more high-profile the campaign, the bigger the necessity to get this right.

Naturally, with so many moving parts it’s possible to lose sight of the overall picture, and sometimes this makes campaigns noticeable for the wrong reasons. Of course, we all make mistakes. That’s why the following is a collection of examples from well-known brands, from which we can all learn from (and hopefully avoid making the same mistakes).

EA’s knuckleduster giveaway for the Godfather II

When Electronic Arts (EA) announced they were releasing a video game based on the 1974 film of the same name, no doubt people were excited to delve into the world of the Corleone family once again.

And with such a hot property on their hands, EA were determined to give it maximum brand exposure. But in the notoriously competitive world of video-game marketing, relying on the property itself was never going to be enough. Something distinctive was needed. So, in April 2009, EA decided to dispatch brass knuckles (a weapon synonymous with crime syndicates similar to those in the game) to journalists, alongside advanced copies of the game.

Despite EA being based in California where owning brass knuckles are illegal, they shipped them to other states where they are also illegal. In their defence, EA tried to recall them, but the damage was done, and this marketing ploy entered the headlines in earnest.

Knuckledusters in wrapping

As featured in Engadget

  • Takeaway: Be careful when including something risky and attention-seeking in a campaign. Distinguishing yourself from the competition with a distinct tactic can work well, but ensure you have carefully considered how your audience will react to it and what message it sends out – particularly if what you are planning could be controversial. Forming a focus group with colleagues can provide valuable external insight and new perspectives into your campaign. Creating a storyboard in the planning stages can also help visualise and map out your messaging, thus making any potential pitfalls easier to spot.

Jawbone’s ‘Re: Your Dad’ Father’s Day email campaign

Email campaigns are a cornerstone of marketing, relaying content and messaging directly to a potential customer and hooking them into a lead funnel.

However, one of the major challenges with an email campaign is finding the right subject line to maximise open rates. Jawbone, a wearable tech company, decided that for a promotion around Father’s Day in 2016, they would use a subject line of ‘Re: Your Dad’. Seemingly innocuous at first, and with the personal touch we marketers should always aim to provide. But then consider this email was going to thousands of subscribers – with some statistically likely to have either experienced bereavement or estrangement from their father. After the email went out, many described the impact of receiving the email:

Email response from jawbone

A response to the email campaign on Twitter

  • Takeaway: Have at least 2 rounds of proof-reading and quality assessment on email campaigns. The original writer will benefit from a second pair of eyes, helping to pick up spelling errors, broken links, and (in the case of Jawbone) messaging that can be taken out of context / misconstrued. While making an email personable can greatly benefit its success, be careful not to become overly personal. Also by using ‘Re:’ when it’s not a reply to a conversation, recipients are more likely to be annoyed than convert.

Kendall Jenner, protesters, police and Pepsi

Big brands usually come with big name endorsements. In 2017 Pepsi were no different in hiring a celebrity model and professional Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, to appear in their advert. Pepsi’s aim was to ‘project a message of unity, peace and understanding’ by showing a group of protesters and police coming together over a can of their soft drink. This was at a time where protesters from Black Lives Matter were clashing with police. The advert showed Kendall Jenner emerging from the protesters and handing a policeman a can of Pepsi. In trying to make a comment on the current situation, the drinks company experienced a sizeable backlash, with the ad criticised for appearing to trivialise the Black Lives Matter protests. Pepsi later released this statement:

“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are removing the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position”

  • Takeaway: Whilst staying topical can give your campaign traction, be 100% sure about the current topics you choose to become involved in. And if you do choose to get involved, ensure what you are saying does not give off the wrong message. Employing an agile working methodology to ensure continuous feedback can be a great shield against this, by allowing ongoing evaluation of the messaging, direction and context of the campaign with the ability to shift any of these at pace.

Burger King and some important details about its plant-based burger

Vegan food, and culture, is on the rise and companies are clamouring to get involved. The ethical and environmental message that comes with an association with veganism is branding gold. Take Greggs for example. A bakery with a former association with a less-than-healthy lifestyle flipped its brand image on its head when it released its much-lauded vegan sausage roll. The celebrated marketing campaign played a significant part in that, playing off the product in the same way as an Apple iPhone or iMac.

Keen to join the wave created by Greggs, Burger King also released a meat-free product. The marketing was significant and very visible, and the product was marketed as ‘0% beef’ and ‘made from plants’. However, the product’s description also stated it was flame-grilled in the same broiler used for beef and chicken. By coming into contact with meat, the burger couldn’t be considered vegan or vegetarian. As a result, Burger King were accused on social media of being ‘misleading’ in their marketing:

Vegan complaint against Burger King

Twitter users were quick to point out the hidden reality of Burger King’s new product

  • Takeaway: While the campaign did not specifically say the product was vegan or vegetarian, it was described as meat-free and did use very similar messaging to those advertising a vegan product. The key thing here is to be clear in your messaging and be upfront with what your product is about. Don’t hide key details away and be sure the positioning of your marketing reflects the reality.

Dove asks customers to ‘choose their body shape’ on a bottle

Dove first launched its Self-Esteem project back in 2004, and has been synonymous with ‘body positive’ messaging. But even they have been prone to marketing slip-ups.

After a run of very successful ‘Real Beauty’ marketing campaigns promoting the acceptance of all body types, Dove launched the ‘Real Beauty Bottles’. The marketing declared that ‘beauty comes in all shapes and sizes’, and so the bottles of body-wash were designed to roughly correlate to a body type.

These included hourglass, pear-shaped, tall, thin, and teardrop. While this was meant to promote multiple body types, many consumers felt Dove was encouraging them to either choose their own body type or even aspire to a certain ‘bottle’. Dove subsequently released this statement:

Dove statement to body shape campaign

Statement from Dove

  • Takeaway: With longer-term campaigns, it’s easy to lose sight of the original message. Over time, messaging can become convoluted, especially if you’re bringing new ideas into the process. Always be mindful of what you are saying, and who you are targeting, at all points during your campaign. The creation of a storyboard and messaging log in the planning stages of the campaign allows you to refer back to the original and overarching message. Also, involving key stakeholders to review stages of the campaign can help keep the whole direction on track, and spot any potentially harmful deviations.
Sian Heaphy5 mistakes that well-known brands made in marketing campaigns
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Building communications

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Why comms needs to be factored into your business transformation plans, right from the start

There can be few large businesses around the UK and beyond that have not already been through, or are currently going through large scale business transformation programmes. But how many have developed their transformation plans with communications factored in from the start? And how many add it as an afterthought when they are already some way down the line, having realised that change can’t happen without employee engagement? Communication is critical to any form of organisational change. Embedding clear processes around how and when you should communicate from the start will help get your transformation off to a flying start. 

There are two key areas where effective comms can make a real difference to the success of a transformation programme. The obvious one is when it comes to communicating out to the rest of the business and getting employees to change behaviours. But comms can also help in bringing together cross-functional teams and getting them working more effectively towards the same goal. 

Engaging your employees 

Communication plays a vital role when it comes to engaging employees around a large-scale business change. If you fail to communicate your goals and how you plan to achieve them, how can you expect employees to support and adopt the changes you are implementing? Many a digital transformation program has been viewed as unsuccessful because employees have failed to fully adopt new tools and technology or processes. 

So how do you engage employees? Firstly, it is vital that you understand your internal audiences. In a large organisation there will be different types of employees with their own challenges and requirements, so you will need to tailor your communications to different employees. There isn’t always a one size fits all solution.  

Avoid over reliance on email and make use of existing business collaboration tools. You should always make sure you are communicating via different channels to ensure that your message has reached everyone in your organisation. 

Two-way communication is crucial when it comes to engaging employees. Give your employees the opportunity to ask questions and to share their thoughts and feedback where possible. Face-to-face communication is always the best way to engage.

Louise Fisk, Communications and Marketing Director at BAE Systems suggests,

When that’s not possible you need to think about how you can use tools like video conferencing to bring people into the room.

Helping cross-functional teams work effectively 

During large scale business transformation, it is often the case that teams which don’t usually work together, will have to come together and form cross-functional teams. Open and transparent communication between both leadership and team members is crucial here.  

Hannah Bamberger, IT Communications Lead at Boston Consulting Group comments,

Where teams are cross-functional and often working remotely, it’s important to have transparent communications from the beginning to avoid any misunderstanding which may arise from not being able to see each other face-to-face each day and ask questions.

Matt Perry, Director at Transition15 suggests that,

Cross-functional team communications need to be built into the ways of working from the start. The mechanisms for regular communication should be agreed by the team so that they feel they are owning this process, rather than being told how they should do something.

It’s also important that leadership are clear in their goals and communicate them to their teams from the start so that they unite to achieve the same goal. A lack of communication coupled with an unwillingness to come together to work as a cross-functional team, can happen when leadership hasn’t communicated well around what is needed, and what the goals are from the beginning.

Hannah Bamberger comments, 

You often end up with the wrong thing being delivered or half way through a big transformation programme you realise it isn’t going in the direction it should be. At that point it’s much harder to recommunicate and get people to change direction.

There’s a high likelihood that change will fail if you do not communicate from the start. Employees need to feel part of the change as its happening and you will need to support people through the change curve, which can take time. If you get this right, then any future change is likely to run more smoothly and be successful. 

If communicating around change sounds like something you are currently struggling with, get in touch to arrange an employee engagement workshop, or a planning session for how to support cross-functional teams in working together more effectively. 

Sian HeaphyBuilding communications
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Data…Data everywhere. What’s the right way to approach your reporting?

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Digital marketers are experiencing an “issue” at the moment. We have a substantial amount of data to analyse and use to our benefit. Definitely not a bad problem to have, as you would much rather have too much data than not enough.

Taking Google Analytics as an example, GA has a staggering 150 default metrics, which can be viewed through over 100 various dimensions. That is just the default settings, and does not include any advanced views, filters or implementations you may well want to setup.

Looking at social media, Facebook analytics exports a whopping seven spreadsheets with over ten columns of data, while Twitter analytics exports include up to forty columns of data.

That’s a lot of data to sift through! This can make it exceptionally difficult to choose one, or even a few, KPIs to really focus on.

You would think having access to such a wide range of data would make our marketing strategies easier, and this is generally true for larger companies who are able to outsource their data analysis to data science experts. These companies have indeed prospered, but the smaller businesses tend to struggle with where to start with this seemingly insurmountable mound of data.

In smaller businesses, resources tend to be much tighter and the luxury of spare time is sparse. The result of this is that employees don’t tend to digest the data, explore trends and ask questions. Instead, employees get into a routine of running the same reports over and over on a monthly basis, while not gaining much insight into what value the data at hand provides.

This is more common than not among small businesses, but there are steps and mindset changes one can take on to streamline your data reporting, to allow you more time to be inquisitive and find the value needed for your marketing strategies.

Marketing analytics is not rocket science, so don’t treat it as such.

Take A/B testing, also known as split-run testing, for example. It’s been around for what feels like decades now!

Have some ideas on how to improve your email? Go ahead and test it using various test buckets. Looks like our audience prefer our teal button more than our yellow button, great! How about our landing pages? Can we AB test our hero banner? Sure, why not. Let’s nail down what our audience responds best to.

Does A/B testing really represent how your customers respond generally, or just in that current moment they received your content? It’s difficult to tell and is why A/B testing can be so frustrating at times.

The results of the tests can often be inconclusive. Sometimes your test sample is too small to have a statistical weight behind it to make these difficult decisions. Other times, there are factors which are out of your control, that might influence your results, like a website loading speed issue.

The point here, is that A/B testing, or any other form of testing, may not yield the results for what works best from a marketing perspective. Having a controlled environment, like any scientific test, is paramount to obtaining an accurate depiction of your results. However, in Digital Marketing, controlled environments are few and far between.

These methods should not be discarded by any means, but we also need to be cautious when implementing them, because again, marketing is anything but a controlled environment.

Some metrics matter, others don’t.

Now back to those ridiculously large social media analytic reports. Here’s the honest truth: I rarely use even 50% of those metrics. Why?

Well, to begin with, it’s important you know what you are gaining value from when looking at these reports. Many metrics are just slight variations of themselves, or sometimes have very convoluted definitions as to what those metrics are. If they are too similar, or too vague I omit them from my report.

The fear of missing out is the real crux of the issue here. FOMO again.

Reporting on every metric available, due to fear of missing out on something, isn’t the best strategy, because it clouds the real valuable metrics. If a metric isn’t valuable, don’t use it, as it’s only going to make it more difficult for you to spot relevant trends in your data.

Just keep in mind that platforms like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, although they provide you with endless amounts of data to sift through, only you and your business can know what’s really important.

It’s about the ingredients, not the meal.

Before you start cooking up an analytics report, think about the value you are hoping to find in the data. Play devil’s advocate and ask yourself what results you would expect to see if your initial conclusions were wrong.

In doing this, you’ll be much better suited to finding patterns and trends you may not have spotted with your initial conclusion-based approach.

Stop searching for the right answers, and look for the right questions

Question yourself, your approach and your data regularly. If you feel you’re eventually questioning everything, don’t be overwhelmed. You’re doing it right.

The world is changing constantly, along with the platforms we use and HOW we use them. Your perceived concept of the “right answers” may be true one day, and wrong the next.

Keep adapting and be open to change.

If there’s one lesson I’ve learned working with digital marketing data, it’s that you have to be a perpetual sceptic. Of the metrics, of your reporting, of yourself.

Sian HeaphyData…Data everywhere. What’s the right way to approach your reporting?
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Smoothing the change curve

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Benjamin Franklin said nothing is certain but death and taxes, but if he were alive today, then he would probably include “change” on his list. At home and work, our lives are being transformed primarily through technology; the Internet of Things, new phone upgrades, smart electric meters, hackers, phishing, the cloud, artificial intelligence…

Is it any wonder that with all this change, people are fatigued? Is it a surprise that employees don’t understand the business need for change, they worry about their job security or just feel overwhelmed? Technology is inarguably driving such a rapid pace of change and such potentially transformative outcomes in all industries, that it is essential employees understand the benefits to the business and to them personally, and are engaged with the change journey.

Any change programme must lead employees through the change curve and explain why the change is taking place, create alignment across the business and make the most of the crucial part that employees play in any transformation. In other words, communication is vital. It can make the difference between success the first time, or a costly and underwhelming outcome that undermines the credibility of your leadership, your team and the change programme.

Time and again, in our work with clients, we see four stages in any change or transformation programme: status quo, disruption, exploration and rebuilding. They correspond with common emotions: shock and denial, frustration and depression, acceptance and finally, with commitment, the change becomes normalised. Expert communications can help to smooth the proverbial rollercoaster ride.

Every organisation has its status quo, a legacy system that everyone understands, but that badly needs upgrading. There are undoubtedly potential opportunities for many organisations to embrace the digital revolution or fully integrate disparate parts of the business. Early communication and honesty are imperative at this stage to bring employees on board from the start, calm unnecessary fears and, most importantly explain why the change needs to happen. Employees need to catch up with the leaders, who have been preparing for this change for much longer and are much further along the curve than they are, potentially creating a disconnect that will only grow the longer it goes unaddressed. This stage is also an excellent point to identify those who are excited about the change or early adopters to ask them to be project or change ambassadors in the next stages.

The disruption stage marks the point that everyone knows change is coming, the implementation plan is in progress and employees could feel vulnerable, frustrated and potentially distant from the new direction of the business. Throughout this phase, it is more important than ever to have a clear message and defined next steps. Maintain regular communications, even if it’s just to confirm when there will be an update. Start a training programme and have two-way feedback channels. People must feel a part of the change.

Once the software or structure is in place or the new way of working is in its final stages, there is the opportunity to embed the new normal into the workforce. The communications plan must help employees accept the change through demonstrating the benefits that were just theoretical before. Utilising ambassadors to model behaviours and provide peer-to-peer support, sharing successes, as well as addressing any feedback, should also form part of any comms plan.

Finally, the change becomes business as usual and accepted. There will be some on-going support needed, including any upgrades if it is an IT system, and continuous improvement, as well as onboarding new employees into the company’s culture. For some time afterwards, when planning new projects, it is essential to bear in mind that everyone just went through a significant change and it could affect employees’ appetite for more.

Of course, the scenario described here is the ideal. Things can, and do, go wrong from a technical or business perspective. However, with proper communication, and working with an experienced change communication specialist from the start, it is easier to engage employees and keep them engaged, smoothing the way to a successful endpoint and the next stage in the business’ evolution.

For more information on how change communication experts can help your business, contact Emma Sinden.

Sian HeaphySmoothing the change curve
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8 Tips for Creating (Lots of) Great Content

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We’ve all been there, you hit the publish button in the morning and then spend the rest of the day waiting for likes, shares, leads and further accolades to come rolling in….and nothing.

Content is the cornerstone of any successful marketing campaign or program and it’s the fundamental way to educate your audience on your product or service.

However, creating noteworthy, memorable content can be daunting, even for the most experienced pro. 94% of B2B marketers say they use content in their marketing, do you know how many believe it’s effective? 42%…

Thankfully, we’ve got 8 easy tips anybody can use to create great, engaging and exciting content.

An editorial position will help to shape your name, tone of voice, visual identity and choice of content.

Over time, your audience will come to recognise your editorial position, and come to anticipate content with a certain approach or attitude, making it easier to trial new forms of content.  As competitors in your industry start to create quality content, it becomes harder to stand-out and stay present in your audiences’ head for a period of time. So it’s important that your editorial positioning is driven by the distinctive quality of your brand and a category or a specific genre.

When it comes to any form of content or copywriting, defining a tone of voice should be the first step in the process. But where do you start? First, it’s important to understand the difference between your channel tone and your overall voice. Still with me? Think of the example of singing – you only have one singing voice, but you can sing in a variety of different tones to deliver a different sound. Content creation is no different to this, your copy tone helps you define how you want your voice to be heard on each individual channel or platform.

While your content should have a cohesive and targeted message, it should also be adapted to its medium. Twitter is character-limited, for example, so the message you provide must be shorter and more concise. However, it can still carry the same type of message and information as your content used elsewhere. Keep your message consistent, and adapt as needed.

The successful implementation of any content strategy, or individual written piece, depends upon a crucial (and often overlooked) group of people – your content team. In the past, this team would either consist of a single person, or rigidly consist of account managers and creative copywriters. However, in order to create strategic and valuable content, you need a strategic and valuable team.

There are as many ways to structure a content team as there are teams themselves, so you need to build one that suits your business needs, whether that be a one-man show or a team of 20. But before you start hiring your ideal combination of strategists, writers, editors and coordinators, you first need to consider the possibilities you already have within your company, what they can share and how to engage them as part of your team.

Possibly the most adept framework for how you should think about your approach to content is the PESO (paid, earned, shared, owned) model, developed and championed by author and PR industry leader Gini Dietrich.

The method serves as a means of segmenting all the marketing channels at your disposal into discrete groups, looking if there are opportunities to integrate additional channels or sources into new or existing programs, highlighting any opportunities to re-purpose content you may already have. By re-purposing content, or freshening it up, you give yourself the opportunity to expand something that may have been a single idea, into a several new pieces, each tailored to a different audience.

There’s also no reason, if it’s of a high quality, that you shouldn’t take inspiration from your competitors and their content. It’s often hard to consistently come up with appealing articles or topics, and you can often find yourself repeating pieces – but not re-purposing them. Of course, it’s unwise to simply visit your competitor’s blog and start copying their strategy from the ground up. Instead, use their content strategy merely as inspiration or direction for your own. Find a way to put new twists on topics they’ve already covered, and think about what topics they haven’t covered.

Creating a publishing content can be time consuming and stressful work, so you need to be able to keep organised and be on top of every step in the process. The simplest way of doing this – create a content diary or plan. When you have a visible schedule you can commit to, the content process becomes a lot less daunting.

Creating a plan, calendar or diary allows you to keep track of everything you’re doing, and makes all the necessary information easily available to stakeholders.

It’s easy to get lost in detail when you’re in the heads-down process of content creation, so having a larger visioning session to create the calendar plus taking regular peeks at the calendar once it’s made can help bring your work into context.  And by planning your content in advance, you can prep and organise around any key dates that could influence your content. An effective diary or plan will also help with keeping your audience engaged by preventing your content from stagnating, or getting overly repetitive and random.

There’s no better way to drive sales leads and expand your brand visibility than by producing thoughtful original content. Yet as more and more companies start to hop on the content marketing bandwagon, it’s getting harder than ever to ensure that your brand stands out.

Producing reactive marketing content is a great way to ensure that your company’s thought leadership is generating interest. The idea itself is relatively simple: by capitalising on a newsworthy event, your content instantly becomes more clickable. There are a few drawbacks to an over-reliance on reactive marketing content – namely, the relevance of your posts inevitably withering with time – but, if used correctly, reactive content can achieve staggering results for your brand, chiefly in the following areas:

  • It helps your brand stay relevant
  • It helps you connect with customers
  • It extends the longevity of your other content

Is your content often delivered late?  Do you have trouble getting it signed-off? If so, then it sounds like you could benefit from defining a content workflow; a set of tasks that determine how content is requested, sourced, reviewed, approved and delivered. Trying to get by without such a process will lead to you running the risk of projects getting stuck and people being unsure or unaware of their responsibilities and the amount of time that it may take to complete a task.

A defined content workflow tells people in all roles where the content is in the process when their turn comes, and it clarifies what they must do to deliver what’s needed when it’s needed. The workflow will also help the project manager recognise bottlenecks so that he or she can take measures to keep content moving toward production and ensure that sign-off matches required deadlines.

If you don’t know your audience and what they want, then no form of marketing (content included) is going to work for you. Take the time to listen to your audience (perhaps building personas) and what they’re telling you based on how they interact/ engage with your content. This kind of information is a goldmine, and who wouldn’t want to dig into a goldmine when they find one.

This kind of analysis is key to any content strategy, it allows you to discover gaps, identify new opportunities, adapt to the needs and desires of your market and discover if your content is truly addressing those needs.

Even if you follow all these tips, it’s still crucial to remember that content marketing isn’t a short-term investment. One you get it right, it will really pay-off, you just need to be willing to put the time and effort into it.

If you’d like any more advice about creating content, the type that will build revenue and drive relationships, then simply contact a member of the Bright team and we can get started an approach that works for you and your audience.

Sian Heaphy8 Tips for Creating (Lots of) Great Content
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Assemble your Communication to succeed

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Primary school assemblies used to be a forum where you were seen, but not heard; where you were told what you needed to know according to the doctrines of whomever was hosting the assembly.

Primary school methodology

Primary school assemblies today are demonstrations of what has been learnt, they are demonstrations of how enjoyable learning and discovering are and they also demonstrate that some lessons have not been learnt fully – perhaps mistaking continents for countries. But it’s from mistakes we learn.

Today’s primary school assembly is a far better model than that which we children of Thatcher grew up with. I write this guest column enthused by what my youngest and her peers have learnt, I write this knowing what my child has been studying for the last six weeks (despite asking every day – the standard response is “stuff”), but now I know. More than that I know she enjoyed it, does understand it and that as a result her understanding of science, history, geography, mathematics and most importantly communications has been successful and enjoyable.

Assembling and communication

Assembling and communicating as a community is vital not only to a primary school on the North Downs, but also to the modern CIO and CTO. This term’s theme incorporated as I state above science, history, geography, mathematics as well as English and the arts. Any technology project in a business covers all the core subject matters of the business term – profit and loss; order and deliver; payroll, human resources, recruitment, supply chain, marketing; research and development and many more. Many of the UK’s leading CIOs have made it clear to me that there are no such things as technology projects, only business projects.

So with technology and in particular technology change touching all the departments and all the staff, regular assembly and communications are essential. Over the last nine years of daily dealing with CIOs and CTOs face to face I have seen how those that employ communications have succeeded in delivering major change in organisations. No matter the vertical market, communicating and discussing the change ensure it succeeds, whether you lead technology in an airline, NHS trust, automotive giant, retailer, charity or government body.

Methodology and delivery

We humans have developed a plethora of ways to communicate and thanks to technology continue to develop new ways to communicate. All methods are right, it is the context of your organisation and its culture that matters. Whether it is sitting in the staff canteen, having a major innovation event, using social media, bookmarking Friday afternoon as a chance for anyone in the business to visit your team and share cake, coffee or perhaps even a stronger beverage. All of these methods work.

For a transformation project to work; for a business to be able to continually adapt to the needs of its customers technology leaders must continually engage in communications. Effective communications takes time and effort. A continual slew of lists telling people the best things, the worries etc will eventually lead to the channel losing impact. For communications to be successful it must reflect the community it seeks to communicate with.

Good communications cannot exist alone – delivery is critical too. If an organisation is diverse in its services and markets or geographically dispersed then the methods from the world of marketing are essential to ensure the message lands on every desk and device in an engaging manner that triggers a response.

Sian HeaphyAssemble your Communication to succeed
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Why Effective Communication Is Vital In Any Change Programme

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In today’s fast moving world, where the latest trends in technology are transforming everyday lives for both consumers and businesses, many forward-thinking organisations are already fully on-board with implementing digital transformation programmes aimed at encouraging more collaborative and digital ways of working.

However, some of these organisations will have invested significantly in new technology, such as business collaboration tools or video enabled conferencing, but found that adoption levels can be lower than anticipated. That is why many organisations are discovering that working with communications specialists can help ensure that the change is properly communicated to their employees. If people understand why the change is being introduced and how it will benefit them in the long run, the rate of adoption can improve.

Change in traditional organisations

But what about more traditional organisations which are slower to see the value in digital transformation and are more apprehensive towards change generally? Of course, traditional organisations are going to be slower to adopt this type of change programme. Some may be about to embark on a smaller digital project, or could be in the early stages of considering what an enterprise wide digital transformation programme might look like for them.

If the organisation has a strong concern around the privacy and security of its data, it can make the pace of change even slower. Many social collaboration tools such as Yammer and Chatter are cloud-based and have been deemed by some to be vulnerable to hackers. However, there are solutions that can be hosted on-premises which can allay some of these concerns.

Change doesn’t have to be digital

Others may be looking to make changes to their organisation that aren’t necessarily digital. Of course, change doesn’t always have to be digital – it can be related to a change in company strategy, relocation, company restructure or even (in the worst case) redundancy.

Communicating any type of change effectively is important, particularly in situations such as the above. If the majority of a workforce fails to embrace a strategic business change it could potentially have a damaging impact on the organisation’s profitability. It is crucial that you engage your workforce and ensure everyone is working towards the same goals and communication is the key to this.

The same rules apply

Communications should always play a key role in any large-scale change programme. Firstly, it is vital that you understand the mindset of the audience you are communicating to. In a large organisation you will need to tailor your communications to different employees as there isn’t always a one size fits all solution. Give your employees the opportunity to ask questions and to share their thoughts and feedback where possible. When communicating to your employees it is important to demonstrate that you have listened to them i.e. ‘you said x so we did y’.

As in our day-to-day lives, in today’s business environment it is likely that different people have a preference for using different channels. Some may like to communicate face-to-face rather than over email, others may prefer to avoid email and make use of business collaboration tools. In an ideal (albeit time consuming) scenario, you should make sure you are communicating via different channels to ensure that your message has reached everyone in your organisation.

Talk to the experts

Whether it is a digital transformation programme, or a change of strategy which your organisation is embarking on, working with communications experts can add real value in helping to shape your change communications. An effective communications strategy can mean the difference between an employee making a positive decision to adopt that change, adopt it half-heartedly or in some cases reject it entirely.

Sian HeaphyWhy Effective Communication Is Vital In Any Change Programme
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The Personality Of Our Team

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Hi. My name is Sebastian, and I’m an ISTJ.

If I worked at American greetings card company, Hallmark, I might actually have to stand up and introduce myself like this at the start of meetings.

ISTJ is my personality type. It has been decided by the massively popular Myers Briggs Type Indicator (or MBTI) personality test, developed using the work of psychiatrist Carl Jung. It’s the same test taken by more than 2.5 million people every year and used by 89 of the Fortune 100 companies.

The ISTJ profile (1 of 16 different profiles) puts me in a box with around 13% of the rest of the population, based upon my responses to some questions that have characterised me as highly observant, assertive and reliable. From this, even someone that I’ve never spoken to before could make quick judgements about me – from the way I’d act when presented with a new challenge at work – to the ways that I choose my friends. Scary, right?

What I haven’t told you, is that I’m a massive advocate of the MBTI. Whilst I’m understandably pretty happy about being put in the same box as George Washington, Ben Harrison and our Queen – I also see a lot of myself in descriptions of my personality type.

I’m very aware that that a lot of people think the MBTI is complete nonsense. Many are quick to label the personality test as unreliable and inconsistent – in arguments not all that different to those against the science of psychology itself. And so, many people believe that businesses should abandon the MBTI. I, on the other hand, fully believe that the MBTI can be really useful tool in the workplace. Here’s why:

1. It encourages self-reflection

Whether or not the MBTI possesses scientific consistency (which isn’t the question here), it is an invaluable tool for self-reflection.

I recently encouraged my colleagues to complete the personality test. Although they didn’t all wholly agree with their profiling, within each one of them it prompted the self-assessment of their characteristics.

Perhaps this is because the MBTI is rather broad. Even in our horoscopes (for which I test you to find even one peer reviewed study showing their accuracy) – we can usually find a general sentence that applies to us. Either way – what it promotes is a starting point for discussing and understanding not only ourselves, but how we all vary in our personalities. This helps makes us more aware of everyone around us.

2. It’s a motivator

A number of academics believe that one of the reasons the MBTI has hung around for so long in the corporate world, is that all outcomes are positive.

The test wasn’t created to hold one personality type above another – but to celebrate our differences in strengths. To do this, the MBTI focuses on the key assets of each personality type. It doesn’t make the test weak, but hugely motivating.

The MBTI helps to draw strengths that we may have ignored and taken for granted. These strengths may help build confidence in certain situations or help us to decide upon career routes.

And hey, even if all it does is give you more adjectives for your CV… well, that’s something.

3. It helps us to understand team dynamics

The MBTI is a really useful tool in understanding group, or team dynamics.

To explain this, I actually encouraged my entire team to take the test (in the name of research, and a just little bit of intrigue).

What I found out was the following:

If our team were to be given a characteristic, it would be that of the ESFJ (the popular kids). This is derived by counting the number of team members with each preference. Without getting into the nitty gritty of exactly what this means to our team – let’s have a look at why it’s important to understand.  *You can read more about the strengths and weaknesses of your team in The Character of Organizations by William Bridges (2000).

Common sense denotes an equal split of personality types across a team, for it to be balanced and effective. The smaller the team, the less personality types, and less likely it is that someone will have the same personality type to you (if we discount the fact that companies tend to hire similar types of people).

The MBTI draws out team strengths and weaknesses, allowing teams to maximise the natural advantages that result from similarities and differences within the team.

Team similarity has been shown to affect both team process (how well they work together) and outcomes (how well they perform). Our team similarity index is 44 (out of 100), which means over half of the team has a different communication preference.

Whatever your thoughts about the accuracy or consistency of the MBTI, at the time of taking the test – assuming that participants answer honestly – responses are a reflection of how one person perceives themselves and the way they might react in certain situations. This has got to hold at least some value – even to the biggest sceptic.

If 56% of a team is different, there’s going to be more potential for miscommunication and misalignment. Understanding this is important when it comes to communicating and working effectively with other people.

What it all stems down to is the simple realisation that we’re all different.

We all communicate and interpret information in a different way. Yes, I know you know that. It sounds so simple, but we’ve all been in positions before where we’ve forgotten this fact and wondered how on earth the other person doesn’t understand our point of view.

Effective communication within business teams (and social situations alike) requires the understanding of other people.

Understanding that we all different in personality type is one step to doing this.

And the MBTI is just one method of doing that.

Sian HeaphyThe Personality Of Our Team
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Getting Your Team On-Board With Digital Change

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When you think of internal comms, what immediately springs to mind? Perhaps a monthly company newsletter announcing new hires, leavers, births or Sally in HR getting married. Or that repetitive monthly email reminding you to cast your vote for ’employee of the month’. Not particularly exciting or inspiring. However for today’s businesses, internal comms is fast becoming a cucial tool. Especially when it comes to communicating and managing digital change within a business.

I’m sure ‘digital disruption’ must be the most over-used business phrase of the last two years but there is no denying that digital transformation is now taking root in even the most conservative of organisations. Digital transformation, whether it’s implementing a specific new technology solution or an entire organisation wide digital strategy, needs to be communicated to employees. And, crucially it needs to be adopted by them to ensure that your programme isn’t one big expensive failure. Enter internal comms.

From Partner to Graduate and everyone in between

First and foremost, any internal comms strategy needs to have a pretty good understanding of who it needs to communicate to. In most large organisations the employee audience can be pretty diverse. From Senior Management or Partner level, who may have been with the company for most of their careers, to young graduate trainees fresh out of Uni.

There may also be specific job roles within an organisation that will be particularly affected by the change. Tailoring your communications and messaging to highlight the key benefits of the new solution or strategy to certain employee groups is crucial. Understanding where you are most likely to come up against resistance to change and ensuring that they feel involved in the process from early on can really help overcome any grumbling. A little extra hand holding goes a long way.

Channels and Champions

Of course you’re going to need to explain why you are making the change and inform employees what actions they need to take as part of this. Inevitably, for most organisations, email will play its part. However, the snag being that we’re all guilty of ignoring emails that don’t need our immediate attention and then forgetting to look at them again, so don’t rely too heavily on this. Consider other channels such as impactful short videos, micro-sites to host more detailed information, desk drops and office launches to grab peoples’ attention and get them engaged and listening. That way when emails with important information do come through, they’re less likely to ‘file’ them in the trash folder.

Having said that, the most effective vehicle for communication are your employees. Find your champions, people on the ground who are engaged and enthusiastic, get them to act as ambassadors for the change. Despite all the different channels at our disposal today, word of mouth is still the most effective form of advertising.

Internal vs External

It is one thing to recognise the value of internal comms, but another to ensure it is carried out effectively. Many organisations may not have an internal comms function. If they do, it may be one person in the marketing department and it’s pretty unlikely that they have a good understanding of what it means to successfully implement technological change within a business.

For organisations looking to implement digital change, internal comms can be a real blocker. So, in many cases they are looking outside of their organisations to external communications experts, who approach an internal comms project in the same way they would an external comms or marketing campaign. In fact, both your internal and external comms strategy and objectives should closely align to be truly effective.

Ultimately the success of any digital transformation programme comes down to whether employees embrace and adopt that change. Businesses must go beyond engaging with their employees, to compel them to change their working behaviours. Effective internal comms is the key to effecting that change.

Sian HeaphyGetting Your Team On-Board With Digital Change
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The Social Intern

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I’ve been interning at Bright Innovation for the past 8 weeks. Having turned up on my first day half expecting to unpack boxes from the office move, I’ve found myself playing a much more important role with an ever-changing and expanding task list, including helping with the social media accounts of three Bright Innovation clients.

If you haven’t heard, there’s a school of thought that interns can’t (or shouldn’t) be trusted with social media. Many arguments exist as over-generalised attacks towards graduates that are young and therefore also immature, irresponsible and self-centred (I’m looking at you Inc.com).

However, a number of arguments are, of course, grounded in wisdom. As 83% of marketers believe that social media is important to their business, and nearly 60% of them spend six hours or more using social media each week, it is understandable to have reservations about allowing a fresh-faced intern to act as the face of the company.

Argument 1: Interns lack professional marketing experience

Although interns may be able to honestly say “I’m always using [insert favourite social media platform]!”, using social media in a business context requires more than aimlessly scrolling and ‘liking’ to cure boredom on packed morning tubes and posting your most attractive holiday photos. It requires a more thought–through approach. Social media strategy needs to occur in line with overall marketing strategy and retain a consistent tone – in line with your company’s message.

I wasn’t completely uncomfortable in the world of professional social media before joining Bright Innovation. However, the brief for managing the social accounts of my previous employer consisted of following the latest in celebrity, fashion and beauty trends – any deeper insight was anything that I picked up on myself.

Creating social content within Bright Innovation has been more of a mentoring experience. Where I’ve been allowed to discover what does and doesn’t work for myself, I’ve also been guided and taught some of the most important practices about posting on social media – such as the importance of directing readers back to your website, building audience, creating a balance between own and third-party content on a range of platforms and, importantly, peak times for maximum views.

Argument 2: Interns don’t understand your business (or businesses)

When trying to create and maintain a social voice, it is important that any person behind the account understands not only the audience, but the impression and tone that the business wishes to make. The introduction of a new face to the mix, intern or otherwise, may present challenges.

Whilst the majority of interns are new to the working world and still uncomfortable wearing grown-up clothes, we haven’t (at least in my case) managed to escape the interview process. The knowledge an intern holds about your company may not be particularly in depth, but is easily broadened, if they are keen to learn. And what is an internship, if not learning role.

Working for a consultancy such as Bright Innovation, this learning process is made more difficult: I have to understand multiple client companies. To begin, I was given client websites, a number of focus words, and challenged to find engaging content.

Although a steep and not necessarily fast-paced learning curve, I feel I’m really starting to understand the fundamental differences between the clients that I work with – to the extent that I’ll be scrolling through my phone at home and have to email myself an article that could work for so-and-so. This may not have been as easily learnt or keenly remembered without being given the opportunity to work on social media accounts; perhaps because like 50% of young people nowadays, I learn by doing.

Argument 3: Interns aren’t fully invested in your business

The supporters of this argument warn about the risks of interns – young people working jobs they’re not sure they want, to make their expensive degrees feel worthwhile. An intern may not join with a ready-developed passion for marketing, and they may be transient, but that’s not to say they don’t care about your company. At Bright Innovation, I’ve been made to feel like a valuable part of the team, whether helping with social or otherwise.

Learn more about why social media – specifically LinkedIn – which should be a key part of every B2B marketing strategy.

Sian HeaphyThe Social Intern
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