Monthly Archives: November 2012

The holidays are coming. Didn’t you get the memo?

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It’s that time of year – the Christmas lights are shining on Oxford Street and the nights are drawing in.

 

Hat – £2. Scarf – £3. A white Christmas – priceless.

 

As we all know, it isn’t just Christmas TV programmes and films which help build seasonal hype. Big name brands and retail chains across the nation are obviously very well aware of the fact that ‘‘tis the season to eat, drink and be merry’ and, as such, go to town on their Christmas campaigns; each one trying to produce a little more sparkle and pizazz than the year before in order to capture the nation’s (and the media’s) hearts and minds.

 

A recent phenomenon has seen consumers becoming increasingly excited about the latest seasonal advertisements from big British names, encouraging brands to go to the extent of producing teaser adverts for their Christmas campaigns and granting networks premiere showings of their festive offerings.

 

There are of course certain rules which brands should adhere to when producing the most important creative peak of their calendar year. In order for the advert to convey the right message and achieve the desired reaction, it is essential to ensure it is in keeping with the company’s brand equity and that you know who your main audience is, and what they will find memorable.

 

The big question remains, however – what elevates your advert from being a good Christmas ad to a great Christmas ad?

 

There are obviously a large number of ways to respond to this question and, often, luck and good timing play a huge part in securing your festive success, neither of which you can control. There are however a few golden rules to follow if you wish to stand out from the Christmas-jumpered crowd.

 

Take this year’s talk of the town; the new John Lewis ‘love-struck snowmen’ advert, which follows on from the success of last year’s ad. The clever thing about John Lewis’ ads is that, whilst they are all original, they all have recognisable features which the viewer can instantly identify with the franchise. They each have great covers of famous songs which become instant hits, similar colour themes, a short silent film style and an epic feel – with minimal mentions of the brand itself.

 

And what about Coca-Cola’s worldwide festive advert – so popular and recognisable it almost transcends the brand. The advert stays almost exactly the same every year, with the main change this year being the integration of social media. The bright lights and that jingle are synonymous with the festive season, marking the start of the holiday season on a global scale and guaranteeing Coca-Cola success year after year.

 

Another point worth noting is that your seasonal advert needs to have global appeal – with Christmas being a Christian holiday it is important that your ad is relevant to the cornucopia of other religions and cultures ensuring that you don’t limit your target audience. There isn’t a single reference to Christmas in either of the aforementioned adverts so that, no matter where your advert is broadcast, everybody is able to enjoy the ad and feel the festive cheer.

 

Every brand wants a slice of the Christmas advertising cake each year and each approaches their campaign differently. We can, however, draw the conclusion that the success of the festive advert depends on the brand really knowing what their consumers want and giving them just that – plus a little something extra.

 

The holidays are coming…

Liberty scoops Media Employer of the year award

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Last night at the W Hotel saw Liberty Comms, the specialist technology communications consultancy collect the coveted title of Pathfinders Media Employer of the year.

 
The Pathfinders Media Employer of the year is the UK’s only annual award that recognises the ability of media companies to inspire and develop their staff. The award is independently judged and identifies and rewards those companies which invest in their people and ensures the media and marcoms industries continue to attract the best and brightest candidates from across the UK and around the globe.

 
This year’s Media Employer of the Year judging panel consisted of judges from 2011 winner of Media Employer of the Year, Firefish; Cohn & Wolfe; Journey HR, and IIP assessor & owner of Media Network, Bruce Macrae.

 
Liberty was recognised for its impressive approach to people strategy, as well as its comprehensive methodical approach for recruitment, inductions, appraisals and mentoring – all of which echoed the values of the agency. It also stood out for its approach to celebrating success at all stages of employee’s career, and for promoting a culture which fosters creativity and encourages new ideas throughout all levels of the company.

 
Managing Director and Founder of Liberty, Dee Gibbs was at the ceremony to collect the award and tweeted immediately after the success: “Media Employer of the Year Award! We are so proud. Well done team!”

 
She went on to say; “it’s a huge accolade for us to join such a select group of past winners – Firefish, Addiction Worldwide, Agency Republic and Blue Rubicon to name but four – especially seeing as we were by far and away the smallest agency shortlisted this year.
“It just goes to show that good things come in small packages and that our company ethos of employing and fostering talented comms and media people works, and is being recognised by the industry as a whole.

 
“With plans to open a New York office in 2013, this award should stand us in good stead with recruitment and enable us to continue to attract as high a calibre of individual in the States that we do in the UK – it will also make a welcome addition to our creative showcase in the office!”

Our winning ways!

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Last night saw us reach a really significant milestone in our history. We are delighted to have won the 14th annual Media Employer of the Year Award at the W Hotel in London.

 

 

The awards, which recognise and celebrate the innovative talent attraction and retention initiatives from organisations within the media sector, was judged by an independent panel who included Martyn Hill, Business Development Manager of Firefish and 2011 winner of Media Employer of the Year; Katherine Varian, Head of HR at Cohn & Wolfe; Bruce Macrae, IIP assessor & owner of Media Network; and Aliya Vigor-Robertson, Managing Partner at Journey HR.

 

Suffice to say the competition was significant with big names such as Publicis and Total Media all very worthy shortlisted candidates. We gained a significant amount from the whole process (with fantastic support from the team at Pathfinders throughout) but to hear our name called out as the winner was incredible!

 

For us, it means a tremendous amount. As an agency we are embarking on a significant chapter in the agency’s growth and to know our employee strategy and approach to staff can support this growth is important. It also marks an important personal achievement for our MD, Dee Gibbs who has grown the agency over the last 16 years to what it is today.

 

As we look to 2013 our top 5 tips for helping other companies in the same position are as follows:

 

  • Work as a team – you may have brilliant products and fantastic clients, but unless your people are working together as an effective team, your company is unlikely to fulfill its potential.
  • Put a people strategy in place which matches your culture and ethos – Getting the most out of staff is of course a matter of leadership, but in all except the smallest companies it also essential to have a people or workforce strategy in place. Key to our strategy has been understanding the requirements of our organisation as we have grown. That means listening to what our employees and clients say and reflecting the feedback in the support, policies and procedures we have put in place. Equally important is recognising how efficiently our team has been working. You can’t do things alone so having a team that is behind you and working towards the same goals is critical
  • Drive performance – Creating a motivated, loyal and efficient team has been the bedrock to our growth. You need to incentivise and encourage staff though fair and competitive benefits (regularly bench marked), pro-active approaches to training, robust appraisal systems and of course the magic word, thank you. Remembering to take the time to say thank you for a good job well done goes a long way!
  • Recruitment – as with the retention and motivation of existing staff, finding the best people as you grow does come down to competitive salaries, company benefits and opportunities for advancement. But it’s also worth remembering that the way your business presents itself is important. If you wish to attract self-starting, entrepreneurial and creative members of staff, that’s the image that your company should present. Also, don’t forget to get out and about. We live in a small world – knowing people opens doors!
  • Have fun! Work becomes so much more engaging if you not only enjoy the work but also the people who work with you. Take the time to get to know your team and don’t forget the socials – let your hair down and enjoy yourself – especially as the Christmas party time approaches!

Liberty joins the GSMA in promoting its Connected Women event

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Liberty Comms Managing Director and Founder Dee Gibbs will be one of the guests and speakers attending the GSMA’s inaugural Connected Women event in Brussels on the 27th and 28th of November.

 

 
Hosted by the GSMA Director General and Member of the Board, Anne Bouverot, and supported by Liberty Comms, the Connected Women event will be dedicated to supporting the growth of influential women in and around the mobile industry.

 
The event will see some of the industry’s most successful individuals championing the initiative to attract more female talent to the mobile sector, and communicate the challenges, rewards, best practices, pitfalls and pinnacles of what is one of the world’s fastest moving industries.

 
“The aim of the event is to ignite global interest and create momentum in order to increase the number of women working in and with mobile. It is great to see a body such as the GSMA that is so well recognised and respected globally committing to an event like Connected Women, and the promotion of women in the mobile industry.

 
“From a personal perspective it’s great to be involved in an event like this from the outset; and from a professional perspective through our on-going association with the GSMA, Liberty is proud to be sponsoring what we hope will become an increasingly popular annual event,” said Gibbs.

 
Connected Women 2012 will take place on the 27th and 28th of November at L’Arsenal, Brussels, and will include key note speeches from Lori Gonnu, CEO, Boldair Consulting International, Gabi Zedlmayer, Vice President Sustainability & Social Innovation, HP, Tina Southall, Group Diversity Director, Vodafone and Ann Mei Chang, Senior Advisor for Women & Technology, US Department of State to name but four.

New survey proves social media plays a key role in delivering great customer service

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There’s no doubt that social media has (and is still) changing the way consumers interact with brands.

 

Social media key to customer service?

 

From a customer service perspective it has never been more important for brands to recognise this and put strategies in place to ensure they are quickly and accurately responding to customer requests. According to a recent survey from NM Incite, nearly half of social media users have sought customer service via social channels, with 71% of those who did so (and had a positive experience) stating they would recommend the brand or company publicly, compared with just 19% of those who got no response.

 
It’s clear that people engaging with social media channels expect a quick response from the company they are engaging with. It’s clear too that if they are happy with the response that they will endorse the organisation to their networks. There’s a lot of potential reward in having a good social media strategy in place – if you would like more info on how we can help you do this we’d love to chat to you!

Liberty announces launch of New York Office

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Liberty Communications, the specialist technology communications consultancy, today announced its plans to open a New York office in early 2013 with a number of retained and project based clients.

 

Liberty meets Liberty NYC

 

This will represent the first of two planned offices to open in the United States and sets a precedent for the company’s ambitious growth plans.

 

Dee Gibbs, Managing Director and Founder of Liberty Communications, said: “Liberty has built a successful business in the European market for our North American-based clients and we are increasingly being asked to provide support in their local market under the Liberty brand. New York is the first city in which we will deploy a Liberty-owned venture, but this is just the start.”

 

To ensure success in North America, Liberty is currently recruiting for a US-based team who will help use their personal networks to grow the North American business. The selected candidate will join the current leadership team including Nick Lane, Alexis Dalrymple, Elena Davidson and Matt Wood in developing long term business development plans and ensuring that all clients benefit from the company’s integrated marketing, PR and digital service strategy approach.

 

“Too many firms rely too heavily on sending UK-based staff out to build North American business, but that approach means local knowledge of the market and the technology landscape just doesn’t exist. Many of our clients want local support from Liberty because they believe in its creativity, passion and unique approach to dedicated client services. These approaches lie at the very core of Liberty’s modus operandi, and will continue to sit at the heart of the business, no matter where our offices are located.

 

“By opening and staffing a New York office with local specialists we will be coupling regional expertise and known how with our distinctive Liberty way, and the next six months represents an enormously exciting period of opportunities for Liberty,” added Gibbs.

Fun House voted Liberty’s favourite kids TV show – Pat Sharp invited to Liquid Lunch

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A survey across all Liberty staff has revealed that the agency’s favourite children’s TV show of all time is Fun House.

Will Pat Sharp come?

 

The wacky kids programme ran on C-ITV from the late 1980s to the late 1990s, hosted by Pat Sharp and twins Melanie and Martina Grant.

 
To pay homage to this heavyweight of kids TV programmes, Liberty takes great delight in inviting host Pat Sharp as Special Guest to its Liquid Lunch celebration in central London on Nov 21st.

 
Pat Sharp, nurturing his pet mullet, rose to fame in the mid-80s by not only presenting Fun House, but as Video Jockey (VJ) for Sky presenting the Coca-Cola Eurochart Top 50 and Nescafe UK Top 50. More recently, Sharp has appeared on Come Dine With Me and in 2011 was a contestant on the eleventh series of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! Presently, Pat (to his friends) is the Weekend Breakfast presenter on Smooth Radio.

 
Liberty is delighted to announce that Pat Sharp could be the Guest of Honour at its Liquid Lunch next week.

 
And to complete your journey down memory lane, here is a list of Fun House obstacles, courtesy of Wikipedia.

 

 

  • Wild slide – A very steep and fast tube slide
  • Sneaky slip ‘n’ slide – Another tube slide opposite the wild slide but less steep and fast.
  • Skelter Belter – A helter-skelter like slide which leads to the bottom ball pool of the Fun House
  • The flying fox – A zip line which went from one end of the fun house to the other
  • The ball run – A long ball pit at the back of the fun house
  • Firemans pole – A long pole similar to a firemans pole to slide down from the top of the fun house to the bottom.
  • Crawl tube – A big plastic tube to crawl through. (Renamed the Tumbling Tube)
  • Balloon Tunnel – A tunnel filled with balloons
  • Monster Maze – An area at the front of the fun house filled with monsters
  • The bob sleigh – A bob sleigh which goes down a large slide from the top of the fun house which leads to the sneaky slip ‘n’ slide.
  • The danger net – A net bridge which leads too the wild slide.
  • Hole in the wall – A wall with holes in, the tag hides behind one of the holes
  • Angular triangular – A box with two triangle-shaped spinning shelves inside
  • The turning twister – A box, oppose to Angular Triangular, with spinning circles
  • Magic curtain – A foam rubber curtain which you could walk through
  • Target the trash cans – 3 rubbish bins filled with rubbish, the tag is hidden inside one of them.
  • Beat the bully – A giant head of a bully with giant teeth, you have to punch his teeth to get the tag.
  • The tall tower – Very large tower with a ladder to climb up
  • Snakes in a box – A box filled with springy snakes.
  • The A frame – A climbing frame in the shape of a capital A
  • The sunken well – 4 long narrow tubes with ropes inside, the tag is attached to one of them
  • The climbing net – A net to climb up (Renamed the Net Ladder in earlier versions)
  • The big leap – A big firemans pole
  • The giant steps – A giant staircase
  • Gong crazy! – A large box with a polystyrene gong at the front, smash it open to get the tag.
  • The big drop – A zip-line seat built to carry the player from the top of the Fun House to the bottom ball pool

Dee Gibbs, Liberty Comms – Taking the 10,000-year view

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In a recent interview with Metro, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said that he is taking the 10,000-year view.

 

Among other amazing extra-curricular activities such as a privately funded space exploration company, he has just spent $42m building a clock inside a Texan mountain that aims to run for 10,000 years. Not only that, it emits daily chimes created by Brian Eno. Very cool.

 

One of the fantastic things about technology PR is that there are lots of people like Jeff Bezos, revolutionaries who have made huge amounts of money developing new ways of doing things and who are only just getting into their stride.

 

But the passion is not just about space rockets and giant clocks. Bill and Melinda Gates, through their foundation, are using technology to change millions of lives, for example with a toilet that uses no water. This is technology at its very best.

 

Read full article here

Ticker tape parades and Twitter

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This week has been a momentous one for global politics.

 

The quintessential American celebration

 

It would be easy to be consumed by the bright lights, tickertape and digital barrage that was the US election, but we should also be mindful of the political events unfolding in the East as much those in West.

 

The 2012 US presidential election will go down in history for a number of reasons: Washington will remain Blue for another term; the US electorate re-elected its first black President; the political world finally embraced the digital, and social media came of age.”Four more years” was the tweet used by President Obama to announce his victory to the world and it soon became the most retweeted tweet in history – the figure currently stands at just over 800,000!

 
Throughout the campaign, both candidates invested heavily in co-ordinated social networking campaigns. This approach climaxed on results night with the Democrat using email and Twitter to announce his victory to supporters – even before the President had made his speech and other world leaders, such as David Cameron, took to the service to offer their congratulations.

 
To the East and movements in Beijing’s politburo were just as intriguing if not starkly different from Tuesday’s White House result.

 
Yesterday Chinese President Hu Jintao opened the Communist Party congress beginning a once-in-a-decade power transfer with a stark warning.
Addressing more than 2,000 delegates, President Hu said that “China faced unprecedented opportunities and challenges”, and the nation “must aim higher and work harder and continue to pursue development in a scientific way, promote social harmony and improve the people’s lives.”

 
Despite President Hu’s message around a new age of social harmony, China is still very much at odds with this and many other civil liberties.

 
Take the continued censorship and monitoring of the Internet and certain terms: for example, type Tiananmen Square into a Chinese search engine and it will return no hits – the new generation of China are at risk of literally having its history erased; surely simply putting a line through a country’s history – no matter how undesirable it may be to a regime – is not the way to promote a better future?

 
The US and China wield huge influence over the rest of the World, and both have much to offer. If China wants to truly promote social harmony over the next 10 years it should look to engage and empower its citizens by removing its prohibitive Internet censorship; and it could do a lot worse than take a leaf out of President Obama’s book when it comes to engaging the public through social media and digital channels.

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon….it’s a classic

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Working in PR we spend a lot of time coming up with great ideas that help tell our clients’ story.

 

What’s your bacon number?

 

Sometimes they are fun and sometimes they are serious. Occasionally we managed to blend the two.  Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is a meme that virtually every PR in tech-land has tried to use over the last ten years or so but I have never seen anyone do it, or at least enough for me to notice.

This is despite the rise of the internet, the connected home, online collaboration, social networks et al. To put it in to context, I think I first suggested/brainstormed using Kevin in about 1999/2000 having been emailed a link on which I spent many happy an hour trying to get a Bacon Score of more than six.

 

One of the reasons I like the Six Degrees is that it brings to life the idea that we are all connected or only a few steps away from anyone else on the planet (if you’re on Facebook apparently it’s only 3.74). I believe treated properly this idea can be used with business and consumers alike. It doesn’t take much imagination to see how this could be used to illustrate a business message.

 

Which is why I am pleased to see this idea being given a prime-time television slot spearheading EE’s new advertising. Hat tip to the team over there and I am sure we will see this idea percolate down to the B2B level.  Watch and enjoy:

 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Degrees_of_Kevin_Bacon

 

It just goes to show that there is no such thing as an old idea* as long as you implement it well and it is relevant.

 

* you’ll  probably never hear me suggest a treasure hunt though

QuickPlay chooses Liberty to help grow European presence

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QuickPlay Media Inc., the leading provider of cloud-based managed solutions for distribution of premium video to IP-connected devices, today announced that it has hired Liberty Communications, a specialist technology marketing and PR consultancy.

 

 

 

 

Liberty will be working to raise awareness of QuickPlay across Western Europe and promote the company’s managed service offerings and value proposition among large European service providers, mobile operators, and content providers.

 

Following a competitive pitch, Liberty has been tasked with providing ongoing PR support including media and analyst relations as well as driving interest in QuickPlay Media’s end to end managed service solutions across key industry verticals. QuickPlay’s cloud based OpenVideo platform provides companies the most scalable and secure way to deliver engaging multiscreen entertainment experiences. The platform currently manages more than 1.5 million content assets across more than 3,000 content providers, delivering video to all major device platforms.

Nikki Gore, VP of marketing, Quickplay Media, said “Europe is an increasingly important market for QuickPlay so choosing an agency with proven European credentials as well as experience working with challenger brands was crucial. During our first nine months working with Liberty, we have already seen some real traction and had the opportunity to share our story with the wider influencer spectrum. Now, with a busy year ahead and an increased focus on growth, we look forward to building on the solid foundations we have now got in place.”

 

Dee Gibbs, managing director, Liberty Communications, said “The communications industry is all about reputation and the fact that QuickPlay chose Liberty based on our previous work with industry leaders is the ultimate validation of this. As our business continues to develop, we are working with more and more organisations who sit outside of the traditional telecoms space so having the opportunity to build on our mobile broadcast credentials is one we relish.”

Show-Show-Show, Mobile World Congress comes but once a year

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Is there really any difference between Christmas and the Mobile World Congress?

 

All aboard the Liberty MWC Briefing Express

 

Both happen once a year, come round quicker than you think, involve an immense amount of preparation for a short period of time, intense daytime activity, the consumption of copious amounts of alcohol, and of course spending precious time with loved ones. OK, the analogy falls on weakened ground at this last point (well for the majority, for the minority, you know who you are), but the comparison has been made.

 

The fact remains that the Mobile World Congress is only 114 days away. Seems like a long time? Well, it feels like only yesterday since the London Olympics finished. That was 80 days ago.
Business preparations for MWC 2013 started as MWC 2012 closed its doors. But it’s always a different tale when it comes to media planning. MWC media briefings should never be an afterthought, but as a PR agency, you would expect us to say that. Planning for media briefings, regardless of whether you will have news at the event or not (get those research projects kicked-off now), should already underway, primarily because there are greater considerations to be accounted for at MWC 2013. Not least because MWC has moved home, from the old Fira to a new Fira that is 50% bigger.
From a media perspective, that could potentially spell “briefing mayhem”. As an ex-journalist that has been attending the event since 1998, I can tell you exactly what that means: Missed briefings; and plenty of them. The layout has changed, companies are no longer where they once were, and the distance between one briefing and the next is unknown. Journalists will have no bearings of the venue, and therefore location for briefings.
For PRs, it will mean a lot of “I’m sure they’re on their way”, or “I’ll just give them a call to see where they are”, to disgruntled and increasingly frustrated clients. Sounds harsh, but it will happen, just as it did when the-then 3GSM event moved from Cannes to its previous home in Barcelona.
No doubt all good PR agencies will have introduced a series of measures to ensure missed media briefings are minimised and that the media enter MWC 2013 with a good degree of familiarity already. A great PR agency will develop an innovative concept that provides a compelling solution to clients and the media, and guarantees a seamless transition to the new Fira.
Based on the previous sentence, you will now not be surprised to hear that we have created exactly that. We call it the Liberty MWC Briefing Express, and it involves a luxury train journey from London-to-Paris-to-Barcelona, with an overnight stop at Perpignan for some fine French refreshment. It combines the necessity of travel with the opportunity to conduct media briefings and develop media relations over a 24-hour period.
From the media’s perspective, it replaces the burden of organising travel and accommodation (we have done that) and provides them with copy and numerous stories before they have even reached Barcelona. For clients, besides ensuring they have conducted multiple briefings prior to the event and started to develop strong relations with their core media, it also means they have more time for client or new business meetings during the Congress when upwards of 70,000 people will traversing the show floor.
One person that won’t be traversing the show floor is Father Christmas, whom will no doubt be chilling in the North Pole after another busy Christmas period. But if there are other comparisons to be drawn from Christmas and MWC, it would not be between Father Christmas and GSMA CEO John Hoffman. That said, I know exactly what I’d do with my iPhone 4 if Hoffman came down my chimney on Christmas Eve. I know there is not an app for that!
Bookings for the Liberty MWC Briefing Express are now being taken. For full information, please call +44 (0) 207 751 4444.