All posts by Jen Hibberd

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Looking back at MWC 2015

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Whether you’re at the coalface of Mobile World Congress goings on as an exhibitor, operator, OEM or vendor, or work more ‘behind the scenes’ as we do as a marketing consultancy, if you work within the telecoms sector you can’t help but recognise the importance of the world’s leading mobile trade show.

 

 

This year’s event shattered all previous records as the GSMA reported that 93,000 visitors from over 200 countries attended in Barcelona.

 

Although we’ve been to MWC many times before, walking into the Fira Gran Via on the first day remains an overwhelming and inspiring experience! The array of colourful exhibition stands and vast flurry of people is a great reminder of just how expansive and diverse the industry is. And as an industry observer and commentator (albeit largely on clients’ behalves) it’s brilliant to see some of the year’s biggest announcements and strategies unfold around you.

 

The unveiling of new flagship smartphones, like the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge with its curved screen and metal case, the latest cutting edge software solutions like WeDo Technologies’ RAID Telecom, the promise of superfast 5Gsmart toothbrushes of the future and IKEA furniture that can charge your gadgets and devices were just some of the standout announcements and common trends showcased this year by more than 2,000 exhibiting companies.

 

As a communications professional, one of the most iconic features of MWC has to be the Mobile World Live platform. Although it may have evolved from more humble beginnings as the print edition of the Show Daily to encompass its own television channel (featuring our very own Tony Poulos on the day 3 highlights panel talking about everything from wearables and “injectables” to the developing telecoms market) and a raft of digital formats, it’s still a thrill to see clients’ news there in print as you grab your copy on the way into the Fira. It was fantastic to see that WeDo Technologies was included in not one, but two editions of the Mobile World Live Show Daily this year – firstly in the day 1 edition, where the RAID Telecom news announcement was included in the ‘News in Brief’ section on page 6and then a more ‘social’ reference to WeDo’s flash parties in the ‘Show in Pictures’ round up in the day 4 edition on page 29.

 

Since being introduced at last year’s event, it was great to see how popular WeDo’s flash parties have become. People (us included) couldn’t get enough of the delicious custard tarts and Port on the WeDo Technologies stand – they even got a special mention in Telecoms.com’s A Week In Wireless MWC round up!

 

MWC is truly an event like no other. It provides an unprecedented platform for networking and making new industry contacts, grants you access to some of the most innovative technologies in the world and through panel discussions and speakerships allows you to hear the thoughts and musings of the most renowned players in the industry.

 

That said, our tired feet (yes, still tired even a week on) are quite glad they don’t have to walk around the Fira again for another year!

 

This blog post was originally published on the WeDo Technologies’ blog.

 

Are you sitting comfortably? The art of brand communications

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Communication is an art. Great communicators have the power to really engage with their audience and captivate their attention, encouraging them to buy into both their brand and their message.

On the other hand, it is not an ability that comes naturally to everyone. To those not naturally skilled at communication, it might look like everything good communicators say is improvised and off the cuff, whereas in reality they’ve probably told the same story a thousand times, know exactly how it sounds, what the typical reactions are and how to tweak it for each audience.

 

Whilst undoubtedly some do have a natural gift, the techniques used by good communicators can be learned. So, whether you’re talking to the press, writing to shareholders, or communicating what your brand’s all about on your website, these ten techniques can help you create your happily ever after business story….

 

Liberty’s Top Ten Tips for Crafting and Presenting a Fantastic Brand Story

  1. First things first, get your messaging right. It’s important to establish how you want the audience to perceive your brand, and make sure that what you’re saying is in line with this.
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  3. Secondly, stand out. Make sure your message is distinctive and that you know why your brand or product beats others on the market, and why your audience should listen to what you’re saying. Journalists, investors, consumers and other stakeholders will have lots of other companies competing for their attention, so what you’re saying needs to be memorable.
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  5. Once you’ve established a message, be consistent with it. Make sure all content and spokespeople are aligned with the company’s messaging to ensure that what you’re saying doesn’t become confused or diluted by conflicting voices.
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  7. When crafting content or preparing for an interview be credible. Provide tangible evidence to support your claims and show they aren’t over-hyped.
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  9. Make sure to talk in simple terms and easily understood concepts. Speak directly to your customers’ needs, and don’t use industry jargon that could get lost.
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  11. Whether writing content or speaking to an audience, make sure that you have a great beginning and an end. No one’s going to remember every element of a story, but the beginning and end should stick with an audience. The start should be attention-grabbing, while the end should leave your listeners with key messages to take away.
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  13. Chronology isn’t important, so you don’t need to start at the beginning, especially as, generally speaking, the interesting bits are unlikely to be the things that happened first. Nor do you need to detail every step of your journey like a historical journey. Instead, give your story an interesting trajectory that builds to the conclusion.
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  15. Give it some personality. It doesn’t matter who you’re talking to or trying to reach, the number one thing to remember is that they are all human beings with their own thoughts, feelings and emotional triggers (no matter how hard they’re trying to hide them). Facts, figures and proof points are important, especially for the left-brain thinkers out there, but they’re not the be all and end all. Emotion has proven to be an effective marketing tool so whatever your company’s area of expertise, relate it to personal experience in some way and create a degree of emotive contact. People buy from people after all, and genuine sentiment goes a long way to belief in you and your brand.
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  17. Show not tell. The old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words is more than the product of folk wisdom. In the age of digital and social media, the importance of imagery and short, snappy messages has sky-rocketed.
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  19. If you’re talking to a live audience, be it at a press conference, speaking at a congress or even a webinar, practice really does make perfect!

 

The Liberty team know how important it is to communicate the right message to the right audience, so whether it’s support with content creation, branding, or knowing how to talk to your target audience, we can help! To talk to someone from the Liberty team about what we can do to sell your brand’s story, please call us on +44(0) 207 751 4444.

 

Making the most out of Mobile World Congress

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Kicking off today in Barcelona, Mobile World Congress (MWC) is the world’s pre-eminent mobile event.

 

 

In 2013 it attracted more than 72,000 visitors from 205 countries and some of the world’s largest and most influential mobile operators, software companies, equipment providers, Internet companies and media and entertainment organisations, as well as government delegations.

 

 

Some of the industry’s biggest news breaks at the show each year, making MWC a must-attend for the media and giving them unparalleled access to everyone from the established well-known brands to exciting new start-ups. More than 3,000 international print, web and broadcast media attended the event in 2013 and still more are expected to attend this year.

 

 

However, even with this number of media in attendance, journalists are still run off their feet (in a good way). Their schedules are often booked weeks in advance with back to back briefings, while they still need to reserve time to cover breaking news. It can be tough then for companies to get their message out there, especially when they’re competing with some of the biggest names in the industry.

 

 

Liberty has been attending the event since its early days in Cannes and is well versed in making sure its clients get ‘heard’ at the event. Here are our top tips for approaching the next four days (and the post-show come down) from a media relations perspective:

 

 

  • Grow relationships – With the fanfare that comes with a large show like MWC, the underlying messages behind news and real promise of new technologies can get lost in the frenzy of press releases, demos and briefings. Use the opportunity to provide media with information that will help them weed through the noise and tell a fair and positive story on your role in the growth of the mobile industry.
  • Lead with innovation – MWC is still the pre-eminent event to showcase what new mobile technology is on the horizon.  It is the opportunity for vendors to package innovative new technology with tangible, longer-term value that will instigate consumer and enterprise IT purchases and model reasonable growth.  Demonstrate the practical application of your technology and address new and pressing challenges for the mobile industry.
  • Position spokespeople as leaders and innovators – A spokesperson can set the tone that media and analysts will grab hold of. Use briefings to not only announce news, but to show innovation, thought leadership and impact with key messages. Highlight experience, partnerships and technology evolution, as well as showing that you have your finger on the pulse of industry themes and can offer relevant comment.
  • Build on the momentum – Track trends that emerge during the show and use the time following MWC to follow up with key media and analysts with your viewpoint.

 

 

And finally, make sure you’ve booked yourself some time off for after the show – you’ll need it!

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.

Educating the educators

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Recently, the Liberty team has been working with two key players in the education technology and e-learning space, IBIS Capital and Edxus Group, on a new event exploring the business of education and acting as a catalyst for the consolidation and investment required in the sector.

 

 

The project has been a great example of one of the things that I most enjoy about working in technology PR – looking beyond the bottom line of a new technology’s earning potential to how it impacts on the real world and can potentially change lives. Along with m-health, education is clearly an area which has the potential to be revolutionised by technology – with benefits for both education providers and the recipients.

 

As IBIS Capital’s industry reports into e-learning have found, despite the fact that the global education market is worth a staggering $4.4 trillion, 20% more than the global IT market, it has been one of the least innovated areas of modern life over the past decade. If market dynamics can be aligned then e-learning and education technology generally looks set to turn this lack of innovation on its head. In return for governmental and education institution investment that falls far short of that required in traditional learning delivery infrastructure (which has skyrocketed in recent times – by 80% since 2000 according to IBIS), e-learning platforms have the power to cost effectively provide a better standard of education.

 

Not only can this help to democratise education, offering access to standardised content whether a student attends the best private institution or a rundown inner city school, but the immersive, interactive platforms that are available will fundamentally change the way that education is delivered. By leveraging virtualisation and gamification, adapting to an individual’s need for visual or numerical content for instance, the potential for improved engagement and therefore results is huge.

 

Combine this with e-learning platforms’ ability to harness big data and smart analytics and you can start to see how content can then be further tailored to the individual’s learning patterns and aptitude. Progress can be tracked down to the individual with less need for exams and less admin for teachers, as well as greater visibility for parents or bosses in the professional learning sector.

 

Of course, we’ve got a long way to go before all schools are able to offer e-curricula, but the trends in the higher education and professional learning sectors towards e-learning are clear and seem to be well received. If government and education institutions can work together to welcome the digital age then hopefully the impact on both results and budgets will be an education in themselves.

 

For more information on IBIS Capital’s industry reports, visit http://www.ibiscapital.co.uk/resources/investment-banking-research.aspx and http://edxusgroup.com/a-european-perspective-on-e-learning-report-ibis-capital/.

 

For information on EdTech Europe, Edxus and IBIS Capital’s recent London event, visit http://edxusgroup.com/category/events/.

Handle with care – the importance of good customer services

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I’ve recently returned from holiday. It was brilliant and, once we were there, we had wonderful service from the people looking after us.

 

 

But the experience leading up to our departure, from the minute we paid our deposit to the moment we left for the airport, was terrible. It really reminded me of something that I take for granted working for Liberty – that good customer service is not a nice-to-have or a luxury, it should be the bedrock of any service industry.

 

I won’t bore you with the details of the seemingly endless list of complaints I have about the owner of the company we booked with, but it’s safe to say that, once she had secured our business, all niceties shot out of the window and she treated us like a problem to be dealt with – to the point where I wasn’t looking forward to going away, which I really resented! We generally had to chase her on responses to our questions, she brought business issues that she was facing to our door as if it was our job to solve them and correspondence was a constant list of things we weren’t allowed to do during our stay that generally ended in a request for more money in order to ‘augment’ our service.  And it’s not like we hadn’t paid enough in the first place… but I’ll stop there because I can feel my rant coming on!

 

Maybe I found this particularly frustrating because I used to work in the travel industry, and because customer service is so central to all our dealings with clients at Liberty, whether they’re prospective, a couple of months into a retainer or have been with us for years. Six years ago when I started working here I remember being educated on ‘the Liberty Way’ of doing things, which centred around proactivity, attention to the client’s needs, maintaining exceptional standards at all levels of account activity and adding the personal touch.

 

I’m happy to say that that ethos is still alive and well today. If anything, it’s even more central to what we do in these times of budget constraints and cutbacks in which we need to stand out from the crowd when it comes to retaining and securing business.  Indeed, I don’t think there are many agencies of our size that have a dedicated client services director who monitors client sentiment and ensures regular six monthly reviews are conducted to ensure client objectives and creativity are maintained.

 

Good client service is the life blood of a business like ours. We want clients to enjoy working with us and to treat us as an extension to their own team. It means that we’re proud to count many clients as repeat customers who choose us when they move from one company to another, or are happy to recommend us to other industry contacts. We’ve also had clients who have chosen to change agency only to come back to us months later because the service they received elsewhere wasn’t up to scratch. Some have even become friends.

 

Maybe we could teach my holiday contact a thing or two – she certainly won’t be getting any repeat business or recommendations out of me!

New Year, New Approach – a fresh look at Mobile World Congress

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In 2012, more than 67,000 visitors from 205 countries attended Mobile World Congress – a new record for the mobile industry’s premier event.

 

MWC Express

 

This year the venue is changing to accommodate in excess of 70,000 attendees, with more than 3,500 international print, online, broadcast media and analysts expected to participate – that’s a valuable audience for anyone in the mobile space and certainly an opportunity not to be missed! But with so many companies vying for space and media inundated from December onwards with pitches and briefing requests, how can you ensure your voice is heard?

 

As a PR agency with its roots in the mobile industry, we’ve been representing our clients at Mobile World Congress for more than twenty years. Indeed, for the last eight years Liberty has also been proud to be the GSMA’s agency of record for media management at the event, looking after the needs of the thousands of international press attending. We know that media are pulled every which way at the event and with pressure to cover the big news as it hits, many are less willing to commit to briefing slots, preferring to keep their diaries open for breaking news. In order to get our clients in front of the media they want to meet, we know that we have to make life for the press on the ground easier and take a fresh approach.

 

Introducing the Liberty MWC Express 2013 – a new way to work with the media

 

As a result, we have created a compelling new strategy to drive press briefings and cement long-term relationships between our clients and their target media. The Liberty MWC Briefing Express combines the necessity of travelling to Barcelona for the Congress with the opportunity to deliver key messages, company updates or news to the media that matter before the noise of MWC truly kicks in. More importantly, it provides Liberty’s clients with the opportunity to brief and develop long-term relationships with some of Europe’s leading technology press.

 

The Express will commence its journey in London, stopover for lunch in Paris, and then move onwards to Perpignan, France, while clients can spend time briefing the media. After an overnight stay in a 5-star Perpignan hotel and a relaxed media dinner, the journey will culminate the following morning when the train departs for Barcelona on the last 2-hour leg of the journey. On arrival in Barcelona, Liberty will provide the media with their press passes and transfer them to their boutique hotel for three nights’ stay for the course of MWC2013.

 

We’ve already secured a number of tier one technology journalists for the journey – contact us today to find out more about who they are and to get a tailored quote to join us on board! Email nlane@libertycomms.com or call +44 207 751 4444.

What a Difference a Year Makes

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365 days from PR to new mum and back again

 

This time last year I had just said goodbye to my clients and colleagues to start a new life as a mum. 52 weeks and more than a few sleepless nights later here I am back in the office trying to catch up on everything that’s happened since I left, but where do I start?

 
Now I like to think that I have been keeping abreast of news and business trends. A positive spin on having a baby who’s keen on 6am starts (or earlier) is that I’ve been able to listen to the entire three hours of Radio 4’s Today programme on a daily basis and at least start the day feeling extremely well informed. But that’s not enough. PR – and PR for the mobile industry at that – is unbelievably fast paced and the landscape has changed dramatically both for my clients and for me as a PR professional.

 
In the year that I’ve been away, for example, the mobile world has seen widespread deployment of LTE networks, with 209 predicted to be commercial by year end by the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA). This move towards 4G, improved 3G coverage and the increasing popularity of Wi-Fi offload has enabled a whole new level of mobile interactivity and content consumption. Supported by huge penetration of ever more sophisticated devices such as the iPhone 5 and the increasing popularity of the tablet, which is expected to generate huge Christmas sales and take off as a leading form factor next year, 2012 really has seen mobile take over from the desktop and laptop. Indeed, the rise of the tablet and the smartphone before it now means we live in a world where users expect to access the same services and experiences, whether browsing, communication, commerce or video, irrespective of the device or their location.

 
Couple this mobile growth with the evolution that has taken place in social media over the past 12 months, and indeed the way in which social network interactions have been impacted by the mobile device, and we are facing a new playing field for communication strategies. Businesses now have more options than ever to reach their target audience and a new set of rules for doing so. Mobile sites and apps are no longer a ‘nice to have’ but an essential part of any communications strategy. Social media, once an add-on to many PR campaigns and run fairly separately, is (or should be) firmly integrated into any comms plan. The growing popularity of newer additions to the social landscape such as Pinterest and Google+ has necessitated a multi-platform and integrated approach rather than a token facebook page or Twitter feed. And as social media interactions have become a mainstream and trusted means of interaction with brands, it seems that in-house communication teams are finally starting to understand the importance of the buy-in and participation of their executives – particularly in B2B communication.

 
So a year on and I find that there’s a lot to learn, re-learn and start putting into practice for clients old and new. This may be a slightly daunting prospect at times but I’m discovering that it’s also a really good thing – forcing me to take a step back and adopt a fresh approach, looking at old problems with new eyes. Maybe everyone should take a year out every now and again?!