Monthly Archives: December 2013

Vello builds European Profile with Liberty Comms

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Liberty Comms, the specialist technology communications consultancy, announced today that it has won a brief to support open networking company, Vello Systems, with its expansion across Europe.

 

 

 

The agency will provide integrated communications support to drive recognition for the company with a view to expanding share of voice around its software defined application platform.

 

With its business critical networking, open flow and SDN specialism, Vello works closely with its customer base to address the need for high availability and performance of critical applications, simplified operations and reduced costs in running a data centre.

 

Liberty will work with Vello with immediate effect to focus on building brand presence, with activities designed to officially launch the company to the market and demonstrate Vello’s expertise in software-defined architecture.

 

Jeff Paine, VP marketing, Vello, said, “Software-defined networks (SDN) has become quite a buzzword in recent years but the challenge many companies face is that most SDN solutions have no awareness or control  of the underlying network. Vello addresses this shortcoming, making it a business critical investment for many companies; a message we feel is very important to bring to the market.”

 

Dee Gibbs, managing director and founder, Liberty Communications, said, “The importance of the Vello offering to modern enterprise is undeniable. With so much change to enterprise technology in recent years, fine-tuning the message and being targeted with that approach has become increasingly important. Liberty’s heritage sits firmly in telecoms technology and we will use that experience to help Vello position itself as a key player in the network space, in order to drive business success in the long term.”

Tw-oops! I did it again!

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Do you remember the days when company interactions with customers would be sent in uniform templates?

 

 

They were robotic and carefully calculated; it was almost as though they were worried about showing any signs of personality. But as social media networks have increased in popularity, companies have finally realised the importance of taking a more relaxed approach when it comes to engaging with customers.

 

We recently heard about the entertaining Twitter conversation between Tesco, Yorkshire Tea, Cadburys and Jaffa Cakes. It was deemed ‘the best Twitter conversation ever’ by Buzzfeed – this is a great example of brands working together to create a successful social media interaction. Unfortunately some brands’ tweets can go horribly wrong. We’ve all heard about at least one disastrous Twitter conversation between a customer and a brand that has led to controversy. Before the company can retract the comment, it’s already spread far and wide across the internet, appeared on our Facebook homepage, Twitter feeds and is set to be turned into a humorous meme, YouTube clip and, worst of all, appear on Buzzfeed’s lists! A PR agency’s worst nightmare, right?

 

We all remember earlier this year when a ‘very young and inexperienced’ journalist from the Evening Standard tweeted a picture of the embargoed Budget 2013 front page before George Osborne had even addressed the details with members of Parliament. Of course, the paper apologised for the mistake, immediately suspended the junior journalist and swiftly moved on from this mishap; tips that every PR guru would advise.

 

But nowadays it seems as though brands are actually devising their own controversial Twitter catastrophes in order to hit the headlines. In the case of Burger King, the fast food chain’s Twitter account was hacked, the account name was changed to McDonalds and tweets began to promote their rival burger provider. By the time Burger King had control of their account again they had gained 30,000 new followers and people started to question whether this was actually a tactical ploy to gain followers? If so it certainly worked!

 

However, this isn’t a campaign we would advise for every brand. It takes a lot of confidence to pull this off and when I think of Twitter stunts and confidence I can’t help but think of Kanye West’s recent Twitter outburst about Jimmy Kimmel. Then we have O2’s cheeky tweets to its followers when the network had gone down. Both campaigns were mild enough not to damage their reputation but close enough to have us all talking and cause controversy, subsequently receiving coverage across the globe.

But we do need to ask, how effective are these social media “blunders”? We all love gossiping about the latest Twitter wars and controversies, sure it results in brand exposure, but I fear it will get to a point where we, as consumers, are fed up of engaging with a brand that is constantly controlling its brand image with childish twitter mistakes.

 

We’re now living in a world where we are bombarded with clever marketing gimmickry. Maybe we just want a brand to be real with us. Is that really too much to ask?

Giving the Gift of Experience

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At our Liberty Academy day for graduates looking to make a start in PR and marketing earlier this year, I was struck by the horror stories being told about how difficult life fresh out of university really is.

 

 

I was lucky enough to leave university debt-free (yes, it really was that long ago) with no real fears about not finding a job – a paid one. Sadly, higher education (and the enormous accompanying debt that now seems unavoidable) isn’t enough to guarantee you that privilege any more. It may not even be enough to get you an interview. According to research conducted by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), one fifth of university leavers are unemployed or in low-paid, menial jobs six months (and more) after leaving.

 

I don’t think it will be news to any graduates out there by now that work experience and internships are a key differentiator in today’s competitive marketplace. Liberty is fairly inundated with requests for anything from a day in the office to a full year’s placement – and we do our best to accommodate as many as we can, including offering payment. It might not be a full salary but it more than covers the costs of travelling to and from the office and buying lunch every day (assuming you’re not eating at Gordon Ramsey’s, that is.)

 

Of course, we’re not entirely beneficent in our approach. Some of our best candidates are found through the internship programme so for us it’s an effective recruitment tool. It also makes us feel good about ourselves – a little bit of ‘giving back’ in a fairly selfish world! So, for all the graduates out there looking for a bit of a break, here are a few tips to get you on the road to that vital internship – and maybe even a job at the end of it.

 

  • Don’t limit your options. You don’t know whether or not you’re going to like a particular sector or industry until you try it. I would never have called the fact that I work in technology having studied history and politics – but I had the opportunity to try it and I loved it.
  • Network. Contact anyone you know – friends, family, tutors, someone you met at a party once – who might either work in an area you’d like to get into or know someone who does and ask if they’ll meet you for a chat or introduce you to someone who can help. If that’s not an option, attend grad networking groups or join industry groups on LinkedIn.
  • If you can avoid it, don’t use recruitment agents. Sorry to all the lovely and very helpful recruiters out there, but while times are tough, companies will avoid paying recruitment fees if they can. If someone comes to them independently with the same qualifications or experience as someone who comes through a recruiter, the former candidate will get the job.
  • Read industry news. Contact the companies that stand out to you or are doing particularly well.
  • Do your research. You might be desperate to get a job, any job, but try and think about the company you’re approaching. Two of the first questions I ask people when they call asking about internships or junior roles are ‘Why Liberty?’ and ‘Why technology?’ – many don’t even realise we’re an agency that specialises in tech.
  • Be targeted. Pick up the phone and find out who the right person to speak to or email is. Don’t just send the same blanket email to a list of companies you found in PR Week. It’s obvious. Try and pick out a few key points about why the company or the sector they worked in appealed to you.
  • That said, do play the numbers game. You might have to email 50 or more companies to even get one response. But do it right.
  • Stand out. Catch someone’s attention with an amazing cover letter or quirky phone style and you’re far more likely to be remembered down the line even if there’s no opportunity available at the time.
  • If you do get the opportunity to intern, work hard to prove yourself but don’t feel you have to stay until 9pm every day (or later). Prospective employers will admire the intern who gets the job done efficiently – it’s not about how many hours you clock up at your desk.
  • Make sure you are learning. Of course you will end up with some of the less interesting aspects of office life, but make sure you’re asking questions about what you’re doing so that you’re clear on how it contributes to the bigger picture and ask for more opportunities. Once you’ve edited that press list, sit in on a client call or meeting, take part in a brainstorm. It doesn’t matter if you don’t or can’t contribute – just take it all in and then write down what you did so that when it comes to your next interview, you can confidently talk about what you have learned.