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Defining the new

communications agenda
Issue 01 | 2015

Issue 01 | 2015

Its a tired refrain, but the internet


has changed everything. We all
know about the impact of digital
publishing, social media and
associated developments on the
communications industry, and
technology continues to evolve
atan ever-increasing pace.

Traditional media have either responded to the technological


challenge or ceased to exist. Meanwhile, creative and media
agencies have invested vast sums of money to meet the challenge
of change head-on.

And yet, if you analyse what a brand or organisation
needs to deliver marketing success in a digital age, the result is
a long list of PR outputs: the sustained production of informative,
editorially oriented long-form content; the generation of influencer
advocacy; organic search optimisation; the ability to respond
to direct engagement in real time; agile creativity; messaging
suitable for multi-stakeholder audiences; social activation and
online community management; the need to seamlessly embed
complex specialist messaging into a broader business narrative;
internal engagement and the amplification of positive third-party
commentary. The list goes on. In fact, the only things to add to the
modern marketing mix are paid media capabilities and a higher
standard of creative production quality.

In the new communications agenda, *everything* is PR.
We maintain that communications remain the most powerful
weapon in an organisations marketing arsenal. This isnt wishful
thinking; its based on our experience of working with some of
the largest, most dynamic, exciting and complex businesses in
the world. Todays communications directors and their teams
need to be as adept at social media strategy as at media relations,
as comfortable maintaining an always-on website as managing
employee engagement, as au fait with brand publishing as with
issues management. Because in the new communications agenda,
*everything* is PR.

If thats the case, what does it mean for communications
directors? In this publication we explain the new communications
agenda and make the case for the communications director
to direct all the other marketing disciplines, to be the nucleus
aroundwhich all other functions rotate. Indeed, we believe the
CMO of tomorrow wont come from an ad or media background,
butfrom communications.

In order to do this effectively, what are the necessary
capabilities and attributes? Which skill gaps need to be filled
andnew alliances forged? While the fundamentals of our
disciplineremain true and more relevant than ever, PR and
communications professionals must expand the scope of their
ambition and influence to exert more control over all marketing
activity. In the pages that follow we analyse the requirements for
success in the new communications agenda, outline the attributes
that communications directors need to possess, and share insights
from MSLGROUP consultants around the world about how to focus
on what matters most.

ARE YOU
READY
FOR
WHATS
NEXT?

James Warren,
Head of Digital, UK and EMEA

matters

Reputation. An analysis of
reputation from EMEA President,
Anders Kempe. Derived from
MSLGROUPs upcoming global
study of over 25,000 people,
theinsights demonstrate the
importance of fulfilling corporate
promises in an ethical way.

Contents

12

Brand publishing. Disintermediation,


social engagement and good old
search have combined to create
anenvironment where businesses
can narrate stories and publish
their own content. Kinda Jackson,
Headof Digital and Content, gets
you started.

16

Now you see it, now you dont.


Paid amplification is now firmly part
of the necessary communications
skillset. And SEO has become
less of a dark art and more of an
organic PR output. But very few
communications functions have
successfully integrated paid media
and SEO expertise into their day-today activity. Lucy Cording, Digital
Associate Director, shines alight on
how communications has to come
toterms with paying for it.

Data, data everywhere. Head of


Planning, Dominic Payling, and
LeadConsumer Digital Consultant,
Sara Beirne, share how to interpret
data to gain real insight.

Issue 01 | 2015

20

Putting your website centre stage.


Brand and business websites
have become the stage on which
your communications must
perform. And the demands are
high across a broad spectrum
of criteria: technology, content,
visibility, userexperience and
design. DigitalConsultant, Dean
Parker talksthrough the necessary
steps to put your website at the
heart of ahigh-impact digital
communications ecosystem.

26

Game changers. How can


communications professionals stay
on top of the latest developments
in technology to stay ahead of the
game? Head of Technology, James
Klymowsky, outlines some of the
most exciting developments you
need to know about, now.

32

Empowering the reputation


makers or breakers. Effective
communications must start from the
inside, out. Jason Frank, Global CoDirector of the Employee Practice,
outlines the role communications
should play in engaging millennial
employees and ensuring they make,
rather than break, your reputation.
3

36

Creativity will amplify. A cerebral,


beard-scratchy communications
strategy is all well and good, but
if it looks poor and fails to engage,
all that genius goes to waste.
MSLGROUP in the UKs Lead
Creative Director Al Baird, explains
how to use creativity effectively in
your communications.

matters

The reputation of a corporation


is its licence to operate. It has a
decisive impact on the success of
the organisation and is generally
regarded as one of its most
important assets.
But how important is a brand
oran organisations reputation
toconsumers today? Next month,
MSLGROUP will launch our
findings from a new global study
which asks the general public
what they think about corporate
reputation. Here Anders Kempe,
EMEA President at MSLGROUP,
gives his take on what matters
most when it comes to building
andmaintaining a reputation.

Reputation
4

matters

A significant part of a
companys reputation
isa matter of instinct,
based on how relatable
that company feels.

Why carry out this survey into reputation now?


At MSLGROUP, we believe there is clearly a need
for a much deeper understanding of the multifaceted
elements that contribute to corporate reputation than
currently exists today. I think there needs to be a
move beyond simple rankings, or analyses of drivers
of reputation alone, to a more holistic look at how a
company must act to build a strong reputation that
canfacilitate success over time. It is only by doing
thisthat our industry can create deeper knowledge
andmore effective tools for our clients to better
understand how they can influence their reputation.
Why does this survey focus on the views
ofthegeneral public?
We are particularly interested in how the general
public view corporations. Both as consumers and as
citizens, the public has a substantial and increasingly
important impact on how other audiences evaluate
organisations. We also canvassed people from around
the world in order to get a more comprehensive
understanding of attitudes. We live in an always on
and on-demand world, where different audiences are
constantly connected to each other and therefore able
toinfluenceeach other.

receive a significantly greater reputation score (60%


higher) versus those with neutral sentiment. Clearly a
more qualitative approach to brand awareness, building
positive associations that are easily accessible in the
minds of stakeholders is therefore key to a strong
reputation. An organisation needs to engage with
its stakeholders to build these associations with the
organisation in the minds of its audiences. And the
more closely this Mind Space is linked to a companys
products and services, the better.

What headline findings can you share


fromthereport?
Among many new findings, the study will confirm
along-held assumption: that actions speak louder than
words. As the graph opposite shows, the factor with the
largest impact on an organisations reputation is simply
how well it delivers its products and services, and if they
are delivered in an ethical manner (you can of course
follow rules and legislation, yet still fail in the court of
public opinion). In short, the study confirms that being
perceived as a company that consistently delivers
high-quality products and services in an ethicalway
is what matters most when it comes to building and
maintaining a reputation.

Which communications strategies are most


effective in building reputation?
The findings underline that a more qualitative approach
to brand awareness is key to establishing a robust
reputation. And authenticity and engaging storytelling
are undoubtedly at the heart of any suchapproach.
What are the implications of these findings
forcorporate communications?
Although we found that reputation is shaped most
by intuitive, gut-felt pieces, this does not mean that
reputations can be quickly built. Instead, it means
thatwe have to think in advance; always think about
how you will communicate the news when making
business decisions.

If actions speak louder than words, is


communication relatively unimportant
inbuildingcorporate reputations?
No, on the contrary, communication has a very
significant role that should not be underestimated.
Underlining our commitment to a more holistic view
of corporate reputation, in the study we analysed how
people retrieve the information that they then use
to form an opinion about a company. We found that
this is largely an intuitive process, and that abstract
knowledge about a company is not enough to engender
a strong reputation in the publics mind. A significant
part of a companys reputation is a matter of instinct,
based on how relatable that company feels. We refer
to this as the Mind Space the company occupies.
Companies with overwhelmingly positive associations

What else should we look out for in the survey?


The study is an important attempt to dissect corporate
reputation, examine its component parts and take a
holistic view of how they impact on reputation at both
a global and industry level. Were excited about the
findings and look forward to sharing the in-depth
details soon.

Issue 01 | 2015

Understanding Public Perception


Research Methodology

The Impact of Different Dimensions


onReputation
Actions speak louder than words as products
and services are the strongest driver of corporate
reputation among the general public.

26,467

Financial
Performance

Qualified respondents from across the


world were surveyed.

Relationship

2,500

Corporate
Behaviour
Products
and services

Minimum number of interviews


per country.

.000

.100

.200

.300

.400

.500

Overall correlation to final reputation score

To request a copy of the MSLGROUPs Reputation Research please contact victoria.sugg@mslgroup.com

.600

matters

Data,
Data,

Are you deluged with data?


Dominic Payling, Head of
Planning, and Sara Beirne,
Lead Consumer Digital
Consultant, reveal their
strategies for how to get a
grip on the information that
can make the difference
between your campaigns
failure or success

Issue 01 | 2015

Everywhere.

Get to grips with data-driven insight


Big data, small data, smart data data has been the
buzzword of the communications industry throughout
these turbulent teens and for good reason. The deluge
of available data in recent years has enormous potential
for businesses, but has arrived at an unprecedented
speed and volume. It can seem daunting to bring data
into your communications and business strategies but
the benefits will make it all worthwhile.
Use existing data wisely do you really
understand your consumers?
Your organisation gathers an incredible amount of
useful data from a variety of sources, including your
website traffic, social media fans and followers, and
customer feedback. But, interestingly, much of this
valuable insight remains locked up within the sales
anddirect marketing department.
While sales and marketing teams usually jump
at the chance to access insights about consumers,
communications and PR teams rarely embrace this
data in the same way. One reason for this apparently
counterproductive approach is historical. Before the
digital revolution, we could only access consumer
information through our organisations media
gatekeepers, who also labelled and categorised
ouraudiences.
However, in 2015, things are very different.
Itstime to step up and see what data is available and
what it can do for you. It could mean the difference
between your next campaign being a triumph or a flop.
Avoid assumptions and offer solutions
It may seem obvious to say that the right insight
is key,and yet many companies still regularly find
themselves in the middle of a Twitter storm when
their latest campaign misses the mark. Dont make
assumptions, and dont base your campaign on illinformed or outdated stereotypes. Assume only women
buy household products? The growing number of stayat-home millennial dads would tell you otherwise.
9

As so much data is now available and consumers


are often willing to share it, they wont put up with
mistakes. They expect increasingly personalised
customer service, brands that understand their needs
and campaigns that really speak to them. Who are
yourconsumers? What human insight will resonate
with them and what problem can your product help
them solve?
Use data to inform your campaign management
Data isnt just a way to help you evaluate your
campaign, its also a key tool to help you react
efficiently to what you learn while the campaign
islive.Here are a few questions to consider. How
areconsumers reacting to your campaign? Are you
getting more engagement on certain platforms? If
so, should you transfer paid support to the weaker
platforms? Which content formats are getting more
traction than others? Does your video have a dramatic
drop-off rate at a particular point? Could you replace
it with a shorter edited version to ensure viewers dont
miss the call to action? Are you getting poor feedback
via social media on a piece of content? Is there any
wayyou can change it?
Be data hungry, not data greedy
Consumers, particularly the younger generation,
areincreasingly willing to share their data with
companies in exchange for personalisation and other
rewards. However, as they become more open with
you,they expect the same in return. Dont be caught
out. Ensure you carry out due diligence in the way
youboth collect and use peoples data. Data is a hot
topic for consumers and savvy shoppers will not be
impressed with unsolicited targeted texts ordaily
emails that are hard to opt out of.
Personal data is about understanding your
audience and building a lasting relationship. Onceyou
lose that trust, its lost forever.

matters

Good data-wrangling
resources

Social listening and web analytics


There are so many social media monitoring and
listening tools out there that allow you to assess
what is being said about your brands, competitors,
or a certain topic, individual or product. Most offer
multiple functions and cover a number of countries
make sure you try before you buy. Make the most
of free tools but remember that for quality data
andadditional functionality, you will have to pay.

Google Analytics
A free web analytics
service offered by Google
that tracks and reports
website traffic and is
themost widely used
webanalytics service
onthe internet.

Brandwatch
Enterprise-level social
media analytics and
workflow platform.
Extremely powerful
andcustomisable.

Synthesio
Helps companies listen,
analyse and engage with
consumer conversations
across social and
mainstream media within
one platform across
over 50 languages and
200countries.

Hootsuite
Social media management
system for brands whose
user interface takes the
form of a dashboard, and
supports social network
integrations for Twitter,
Facebook, LinkedIn,
Google+, Foursquare,
MySpace, WordPress,
TrendSpottr and Mixi.
Great for multi-platform
campaign management.

Here are some tips on getting


hold of the data you need.
If you dont have useful
internal data, why not?
With direct access to your
consumers, from CRM to direct
feedback requests, it is now
possible to gather insights
directly from the horses mouth.
Whats more, consumers
expect you to. Over 40% of US
millennials can identify the data
that brands are using to track
their behaviours and expect a
personalised shopping experience
as a result. Also, 54% of this
group are willing to provide more
personal data if it means more
relevant offerings.

Sysomos
Social media listening
and analytics covering
conversations, themes
and sentiment analysis
and identifying key
influencers. Fairly decent
on language coverage
compared to competitors.

Deep Crawl
Website crawling tool
tohelp you identify
andmonitor all aspects
of a brands website that
could be affecting its
SEOperformance.

Think about what


otherdatais out there
Including consumer trends and
audience behaviours. Consumer
behaviour can change with
terrifying speed as many oncefamous, now-forgotten brands
could testify. Make sure youre up
to pace with the latest thinking.
Make the most of
internallyavailable data
What can your online sales
teams tell you about consumers
behaviour? Are you using your
social media community activity
beyond evaluating campaigns?

Make the most of


mediagatekeepers
Just as brands have increasing
access to data, so too do the
media. Ensure you are accessing
the real insight you need through
your media partnership or
competition.

10

Issue 01 | 2015
Mintel
Global market research
firm delivering regular
trends, B2B and consumer
insights, reports and
intelligence.

Google Search Trends


Key to understanding
online user behaviour,
popular content and
what your consumers
aresearching for.

Global Web Index


Market researcher
dedicated to digital
consumer behaviour.
Particularly good for
global consumer profiling
and platform insight.

Lissted
Through human
knowledge/experience
and the power of
technology, the company
finds and monitors
thousands of influencers
online using real-world
authority.

Trends and insights


Old school meets new school. Most marketing
research providers have upped their game
recently to provide excellent online tools
for research and future gazing across a
number ofsectors. From tech advances,
consumer habits,business and industry
trends to globalmarket stability and emerging
consumergroups, start your campaign
planningwith real human insight.

Euromonitor
Business intelligence
research delivering
dataon industries,
countries, companies
andconsumers.
Google Alerts
Content change detection
and notification service
that sends emails to the
user when it finds new
results such as web
pages, newspaper articles
or blogs that match the
userssearch term.

Influencer mapping,
trackingandmanagement
Many tools will try to sell you the dream
of beingable to map, track and manage
influencers with a single platform. In reality,
influencers still work within complex platforms,
relationships and histories. Nonetheless, some
good tools canstill help brands and agencies
manage andmeasure multiple and complex
influencerprogrammes.

Traackr
Influencer analytics suite
designed to help brands
understand their audience
in an effort to support
successful influencer
marketing strategies.

Dynamic Signal
An employee advocacy
platform for marketers
that curates approved
branded content to be
distributed and tracked
through employees own
social channels.
Campaign management
Harness data during your campaign
not just at the end of it. There are a
number of great tools which are free
for small-scale management but cost
once you get to a certain number
ofprofiles or campaigns.

Google Analytics
A free web analytics
service offered by Google
that tracks and reports
website traffic and is the
most widely used web
analytics service on the
internet.

Tweetdeck
Social media dashboard
application for managing
Twitter accounts. Like
other Twitter applications
it interfaces with the
Twitter API to allow users
to send and receive tweets
and view profiles.

Google AdWords
A system Google has
developed to assist
brands in marketing their
products/services in the
Google Search Engine
and its affiliate sites, via
the use of a placed text
ad that appears when
people search for phrases
related to the brands
offering, appearing as
asponsoredlink.

11

matters

Trying to define brand publishing is


almost as difficult as answering the
question, What is marketing? There
is no definitive answer as its scalable,
moveable and constantly evolving;
theres no one size fits all solution.
But there are some key elements every
company can adopt in order to begin
their journey on the brand publishing
super highway.
So, lets start with the basics. Brand
publishing is when organisations engage
their prospects and clients with entertaining
or informative content that is usually
editorial in style.

The content can be anything from
videos, blogs and longer articles to social
media feeds, infographics, quizzes and
podcasts. Just like a traditional magazine,
itblends a mix of information that keeps the
reader engaged with the crucial difference
that it encourages instant online interaction
and feedback too.

SABMiller
has created a corporate
website fronted by warm,
authentic human stories.

Curing the content headache


There is a clear shift towards brand
publishing, as we discovered in our
recent MSLGROUP survey Curing the
content headache. We found that 94% of
respondents consider brand publishing an
effective way to engage with their audience
and 91% of companies are producing more
content now than they did last year.

So companies are investing more,
producing more and actively putting
what can be broadly described as
content marketing at the heart of their
communications strategies. However, the
report also sheds an interesting light on
the challenges faced by communications
professionals in large organisations as they
evolve towards more digital and content-led
communications methods.

The research demonstrated how
hard it is to find, curate and publish good
content both inside and outside of large
organisations. And very few companies
have the right organisational structure or
the knowledge to promote, measure or use
content effectively, even if they have it.

14

An insiders tips for success


Here at MSLGROUP weve had plenty of
experience of how to make brand publishing
a success, including lessons weve learned
through a few hard knocks along the way.
So here are a few of the tips we share with
our clients.
Dont underestimate the challenge
Yes, there can be quick wins, but effective
brand publishing involves meaningful
change to the way people, processes,
technology and creativity work together.
Have a clear and measurable objective
Determine the business challenge. If its
about driving sales, raising awareness
or changing perceptions, then tailor your
stories so they are fit for that purpose.
Stories need a reason to exist in the
digitalspace.
Start and keep listening
Always keep your ear to the ground;
listening gives you valuable insight into your
audience to allow you to construct stories
that will resonate. So know who youare
targeting. Understand whos engaging with
you, where. And be conscious that someone
who is engaging with you today may decide
tomorrow that they no longer care.
Be strategic
Brands need a reason to publish. Stay true
to your brand, be distinctive, and tell simple
stories that resonate and inspire. This will
ensure you produce relevant content that
people will actually care about.
Create content that travels
Make sure your content can bend, flex and
flip into a multitude of forms for different
channels so you can maximise its potential.
Whats the point of spending hard-won
budget on a piece of content that only a
fewpeople see? Think multi-channel.
There is a whole digital ecosystem out
there that wants content. Think about the
spaces you own first as this is your base,
the place consumers will seek you out first.
Then think about paid and earned content,
and use them all. Of course, quality is
paramount. Your content will live forever
and youre competing with everything and
everyone, their high-jumping dachshund
and their grumpy cat. Make your content
insightful and you can make people laugh,
cry and throw buckets of ice-cold water
overthemselves.

Issue 01 | 2015

Sainsburys
demonstrated they live
their values every day
with a series of authentic
and fun short films
featuring employees.

Always
The now ubiquitous
Like a Girl campaign
epitomises what can
be achieved with great
branded content.

Amplify
Content needs to have authority for people
to be even remotely interested, so give it
a boost and get it above the parapet to be
visible to audiences. Its noisy out there!
Paidmedia is an important element of
getting your content seen by the right
people. Also consider who your influencers
are. There are a host of people who will
want to share and possibly tell your stories
in their own way. Seek them out.

Brand publishing
provides you with
the opportunity to
control and craft
your own narrative,
bringing clarity and
purpose to your
communications
Stephanie Smith
Chief Editorial Officer
MSLGROUP North America

Organise for success


Take tips from traditional publishers.
Howwould a real-life publisher plan,
sourceand schedule their magazine?
Getthe right team in place to mine insights,
write editorial, tell stories visually and bring
content to life in apowerful, creative way.

When you do it right, brand
publishing gives you a better opportunity
than ever before to influence the right
peoplein the right way and in the right
place. A press release is a flat, one-way
pieceof content. But brand publishing
can help you reach a multitude of different
audience groups, bringing your story to
life, generating valuable interactions and
ensuring your audience engages more with
your brand.

15

Key aspects of brand publishing:


Telling the brands story across
thedigital ecosystem
Establishing a brands
personality& tone of voice
Using online media and content
to create a holistic approach
tocommunications
Building & engaging with
communities and influencers
Boosting brand visibility online

With Google releasing


variations of their algorithm
almost every week, the
search playing field
has become increasingly
complex for publishers
who want to drive more
purchasing decisions.
Lucy Cording, Digital
Associate Director,
guides you through the
pitfalls and opportunities
ofsearchtoday.

matters

SO,
WHATS
CHANGED?

In the last two years, brands have


faced the growing need to fully
understand how their customers
andaudiences can not only find,
butalso engage with and share,
theircontent, products and stories.

Search has changed, and it will continue to change


astechnology gets smarter and consumers become
more intelligent in the way they display, look for and
find the things they want. Whether people want to
find ablogger review of their favourite beauty product,
annual business performance stats or details of a
job vacancy, a search engine such as Google is no
longer the only place they look. So, brand owners and
publishers need to be able to manage their content
andmessages effectively across all of their owned,
paidand earned channels.
Think beyond the website
Firstly, its not enough simply to consider search
inthecontext of how a website performs in Google.
Although the website remains an important element
of the communications ecosystem, it needs to work
alongside other channels. The visibility (and ranking)
ofa LinkedIn company page, blog, sponsored post or
press release are just as important.

Googles Knowledge
Graph is the manifestation
of semantic search, i.e. the
aggregation and display
of relevant information
pertinent to the current
users query. Knowledge
Graphs now appear in
approx 25% of search
results and are reported
tohave coincided with
a21% decrease in traffic
for Wikipedia

Content must be engaging


Search, whether paid or organic, has always been driven
by messages, but increased penalties for spammed or
low-quality content as well as the need for authoritative
sources leads to a fundamental requirement for a
communications strategy with interactive, channelagnostic, visually engaging content at its heart.
Audience behaviour is driving change
The major influences behind the majority of Google
algorithm and product changes are driven by end
users.Interactions on social media result in the
needforbrand content and messages to have social
currency. The rising use of mobile devices means
brandedcontent needs to be responsive. And the
increasednumber of questions being asked online
andthe trend of conversational search has led to
Googlerolling out Knowledge Graphs to display
searchresults more effectively. All these trends
meanastep change for communications.

Narendra Nag
Asia Practice Leader, Digital and Social
MSLGROUP India

18

Issue 01 | 2015

Top Tips for SEO

Six opportunities for


paidactivity

01
Native Display

03
LinkedIn Advertising

05
Shopping Ads

Understand your audience


Do on-going research to map your audiences
search journeys. Ask yourself the following
questions. What are they looking for? Which
keywords do they use? Where do they get their
information from? What else are they seeing?
Knowing what to optimise for and what content
tocreate will aid creativity and ensure efficiencies.
Use Googles Search Volume tool and Google
Trends aswell as listening tools to help with
quantitative and qualitative analysis.

02
Promoted Tweets

Consider tactics to amplify content


Boost visibility through a number of targeted
tactics. Benefit from relevant curation of content
by sourcing from the wider web and hosting on an
owned platform or channel. Use a paid-for content
syndication supplier to amplify content on relevant
external, high-profile business and news publication
sites. And identify suitable internal stakeholders
and external influencers (or eAdvocates) to amplify
content items.

04
Digital Advertorials

06
Behavioural
& Retargeting

Native display
This is the type of online
advertising that matches the
form, function and topic of the
content with the platform on
which it appears. So it means,
for example, working with
a content recommendation
platform such as Outbrain to
present a piece of video content
next to a related article on the
same subject.

Promoted tweets
Support a live product launch
or an event in real time with
Twitters promoted tweets.
Target relevant Twitter users
by details not only provided in
their @ bio, but also by insights
into who they follow and what
they engage with.

LinkedIn advertising
Extend the use of the LinkedIn
platform beyond recruitment
ads and recruiter licences.
Leverage sponsored posts
and InMails for wider content
amplification. Target by
geography, experience and
seniority.

Digital advertorials
The co-existence of a
piece of editorial and an
advertisement lends itself
well to the current world
of content marketing. This
approach combines the
reach of advertising with the
engagement of editorial copy.

Shopping ads
For those supporting an
eCommerce function, whether
through Googles Channel
Intelligence product or Twitters
Buy button, shopping ads
need consideration. They
respond to growing consumer
demand (and confidence) by
removing the number of clicks
to purchase, using an engaging
visual approach.

Behavioural &
retargeting offer
And dont forget search
engine marketing. Googles
behavioural and retargeting
offer remains an important
player in the mix of any
paid activity. Challenge ad
performance and test ad copy,
creative and destination to
maximise results.

Channel
Agnostic
content is
contagious,
versatile
and can
beadopted
across
multiple
platforms.

Remember your housekeeping


On-page and technical optimisation is still
required and historical Google ranking signals
stillcontribute to visibility. Use keyword research
tometa tag copy and assets, run user experience
and performance audits on your channels, and
validate your calls to action.
Keep on top of Google changes
Stay abreast of Google algorithm updates to
notonly better understand how your content
can be displayed, but also to avoid unnecessary
penalisation. In a year Google can release between
500 and 600 updates. 2014 alone saw major releases
for: Pigeon (location-based results); Authorship
(removal of); Hummingbird (conversational search);
In The News and Knowledge Graphs (display of
results) as well as on-going updates for Penguin
and Panda (quality and links). Follow sites such
asMoz.com to keep up with important changes.
Optimise for social
The role of social media optimisation is ever
prevalent, so its key to think and act like a
publisher. Consider how your editorial and visual
assets can and will travel. Understand the role of
linkable, likeable, shareable content (your contents
social currency) and plan your communications
with this in mind.
Track and measure
Before embarking on any search or paid activity,
remember to record current performance (so that
you have your benchmark) and to challenge your
objectives to set yourself achievable goals. Be
realistic in terms of content performance (ranking,
visibility and reach) and factor in potential future
ranking signal fluctuations such as competitor or
Google changes. Leverage learnings gained from
paid activity and keep colleagues informed to avoid
performance scrutiny. (Learn how to use Google
Incognito to track real-time performance.)

matters

PUT YOUR
WEBSITE
CENTRE
STAGE
20

Issue 01 | 2015

Brand and business websites


have become the stage on which
your communications must
perform. Digital Consultant
Dean Parker talks through
how to put your website at the
heart of a high-impact digital
communications ecosystem.
Whichever way you look at it, your
website is the most powerful weapon in
your communications arsenal. Its the
communications environment with most
reach and most potential impact that you
control, entirely.

Your website is the digital
manifestation of your brand, the place where
you can explain what you do, how you do it
and why, without being diluted or disrupted
by external factors. Its a home for all the
fascinating stories your organisation has to
tell and an informative destination for anyone
questioning your role in their world. Its the
perfect platform to create and sustain an
emotional connection with your audiences.

21

matters

The benefits of a
high-performing website

Sites we rate

A high-performing website can help you


deliver value to your organisation across
awide range of communications areas.

SABMiller
A best-in-class responsive corporate website
that uses its homepage as a hub for a
steady-stream of high quality, authentic and
emotional stories that bring the personality of
their business and world of beer to life acting
as a springboard to more liquid and linked
content and conversations in the social sphere.
Beyond the storytelling approach, the new site
also makes it incredibly straightforward for
investors, journalists, NGOs, governments,
partners and job seekers to find the information
they are looking for.

Improve your reputation


The corporate website is the first place
mostkey stakeholders will go to find
out more about the business journey
and ultimate destination. As such it
delivers huge strategic value as a clearly
navigable source of information. Tone of
voice and design impact can also work
wonders in terms of shifting perceptions
and demonstrating intent. Our corporate
websitedevelopment for NATS resulted in
an increase in positive sentiment towards
the organisation from 4% to 27%.

Roche
A beautifully simple site that strikes the perfect
balance between form and function. It excels
across all parameters but is particularly
noteworthy for the way it uses modest layouts
filled with great writing, photography, video
and infographics to tell powerful stories
about their business and its role in the world.
It has also been designed in such a way
that it facilitates quick and easy navigation
throughout always encouraging seamless
user journeys through the site.

Articulate your role in the world


Corporate websites are particularly effective
as storytelling hubs, where you can shine a
light on the points that bring your corporate
ambitions to life. These stories are powerful
articulations of how your business operates,
your values, staff, philosophy and your role
in the audiences world. As an example,
our work with SABMiller has resulted in
a +619% increase in views to the most
popular stories versus their previous site.

Build relationships and increase visibility
The corporate website is no longer an
online brochure those days are long
gone but very few organisations use
their sites effectively to build and maintain
relationships with key stakeholder
audiences. Providing opportunities to
interact with your business via your website
ensures that critical relationships are either
established or strengthened. The site must
be designed as the central asset within an
inter-related ecosystem of other appropriate
channels. For example, SABMillers use of
web content on and off-site has seen a 77%
increase in referrals to the business from
LinkedIn. Through effective use of digital
content via social channels, our work with
EY has seen an increase in engagement
with content (compared to previous posts)
of 400%.

GE
A stunning and distinctive site that performs
well across all parameters but particularly
stands out in the design and visibility
categories making the most of some
wonderful assets to tell stories that bring their
core proposition to life including video, social
feeds, photography and interactive features.
The site also does a good job of serving the
needs of job seekers and journalists.

Catalyse better internal integration


Building an effective, best-in-class
website requires the entire organisation
to collaborate, in order to effectively and
optimally represent the entirety of your
business. We have developed tools,
techniques and protocols that are designed
to ensure all necessary elements of your
organisation contribute to the creation of
the site. This integration helps many other
internal initiatives, not least employee
engagement around site launch.
22

Issue 01 | 2015

Siemens
A more traditional corporate website that
does a fantastic job of meeting the functional
needs of traditional corporate website
audiences (investors, journalists and job
seekers), but where video also plays a star
role in bringing their corporate narrative
to life. Interactive features like 360-degree
virtual tours create engaging experiences
andsocial media is well integrated with the
site and its content.
Coca-Cola Company
An all guns blazing online magazine called
Journey dominates this site and does a
fantastic job of immersing different audiences,
including consumers, into the world of CocaCola using a constant stream of interesting
stories and user-generated content related to
their business initiatives, history, innovation,
brands and jobs. This is all supported by
aclear promotion strategy and powerful
useof supporting social channels.

23

matters

Gaining control of your


sites performance
Its extremely important to have a website
that works hard on your behalf. Yet very
few communications departments assign
sufficient commitment to excellence in website
performance. Often, an organisations web
presence is tightly controlled, with limitations
and restrictions on what can and cannot be done.
Also, sites are often administered by someone
from a technical rather than communications
background, whos more interested in site
stability than catching an audiences attention.
So how do you assume the necessary
degree of control over this critical
communications vehicle? You
need to understand the five core
elements of successful site creation
that form the basis of MSLGROUPs
Benchmarkdotcom website diagnostic
tool: user experience, design, content,
technology and visibility (promotion).
As custodian of your organisations
reputation and relationships, its your
job to ensure the website operates
at the top of its game against each
ofthese criteria.

Technology
Coding standards: how well has the site
been developed?
Performance standards: how optimal
isthe site performance, how secure is
itand how resilient?

How does your website rate?


Lets take each of these areas in turn.
Askyourself how your website matches up.

User experience
How easy/intuitive is the navigation?
How good is the functionality and how
interactive is the site?
How easy is it to search and filter the site?
How responsive is the site across different
devices?

Design
Does the design have a distinctive style?
Does the design enhance the content
andthe way people can use it?
How good is the overall quality of visual
assets (typography, colour, photography,
video, graphics)?

24

Content
How good is the overall quality of
messaging?
How well does the site serve the specific
informational needs of: customers,
investors, NGOs, the media and
jobseekers?

Visibility (promotion)
Is there evidence of an SEO keyword
strategy?
Is there evidence of a sitemap, metadata
and schema mark-up to improve search
indexing and display?
Is social sharing available?
Is there evidence of paid promotion?
How well do the owned social channels
support the brand narrative and
identifiable campaigns?

Issue 01 | 2015

Your website needs to sit at the heart


of an inter-connected, always on and
always relevant digital ecosystem,
each part working towards a common
communications goal
Stephie Agresta
Global Director of Social Media and Digital
MSLGROUP North America

Common mistakes
Here are some of the most
common mistakes we
come across when were
evaluating websites.

The top five most


common mistakes
1. Not understanding
both sides of the coin
2. G
 etting the balance
wrong
3. P
 rioritising looks
overfunction
4. L
 eaving the editorial
process to chance
5. N
 ot bothering
withguidelines

1. Not understanding both sides of the


coin Right now, its more vital than ever
to cater for the functional and informational
demands of website audiences as well as
the softer side of influence and creating
relationships through storytelling.
2. Getting the balance wrong Theres
a danger of either ignoring conventions,
especially in relation to navigation, that can
cause anxiety with many audiences, or not
being innovative enough and creating a
bland site that doesnt excite the viewer.
3. Prioritising looks over function Some
of the problems we encounter are related to
designers or users not working alongside
other experts and creating a site that looks
beautiful but doesnt perform very well from
a technical or promotional perspective.
4. Leaving the editorial process to
chance One of the biggest headaches
for corporate communications directors is
finding a steady stream of story ideas for
content from different parts of the business
and managing it properly. The answer is
setting up a cross-functional editorial team
to manage the process.
5. Not bothering with guidelines Many
sites suffer when different teams go off and
create their own online presence without
following best practice guidelines relating
to design, content or user experience. This
creates a disjointed or ineffective experience.

25

And finally
Optimally, your website should be a
beautifully designed and engineered
publishing platform, capable of showcasing
the very best of your organisation,
presenting your people, products and
perspectives in an engaging, compelling
and impactful way, delivered with
a consistent tone of voice. It must
be adaptable, so it addresses your
communications priorities as they change
over time, and it must work on different
devices and deliver information efficiently
todiverse stakeholder audiences.

In todays hyper-connected world, its
particularly important to remember that no
website operates in isolation. Your site must
co-exist within an ecosystem of other paid,
owned and earned platforms and channels,
acting as the nucleus around which all other
digital communications activity rotates: the
ultimate destination for anyone seeking a
better understanding of what you do.

matters

What are the most exciting and potentially


game-changingdevelopmentsyou need to
knowabout tech right now? MSLGROUPs
HeadofTechnology, James Klymowsky,
picksthetop trends currently shaking
upthedigital world.

26

Issue 01 | 2015

The reality of augmented


andviral.
In early 2013 we funded a wildly popular
Kickstarter project called OculusRift.
Its a virtual reality platform that
provides 3D stereo vision, allowing
its users to be immersed in a virtual
world. Ayear later we read that Palmer
Lucky, a community college student and
creator of Oculus, had done a deal with
Facebook for $2bn without even having
a commercialproduct.
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality
(AR) are exciting really exciting. With
Oculus and Googles Magic Leap receiving
eye-popping pre-launch evaluations and
new AR products like Technical Illusions
castAR and Microsofts Hololens coming
to market, we believe 20152016 is going
tosee AR and VR headsets new markets
and disrupt existingones.

VR and AR headsets both have 3D
stereo vision in common, but their core
technology is different and so is their
application. Whilst VR, like the Oculus Rift,
provides a closed immersive experience,
AR headsets augment the users real world
with high-fidelity overlays. VR is great for
gaming and 3D films. It can also be used
to provide experiential marketing solutions.
We have already used it to provide
interactive 3D walkthrough of a new
student accommodation complex. While AR
can be used in similar applications, it could
also have the potential to play the same role
as our mobile devices. This implies that
ARs market can extend itself into the same
types of applications from productivity
apps, gaming and augmented commerce
toadvertising and messaging.

The VR and AR industry is predicted
to hit $150 billion dollars by 2020, so
our advice is to start thinking how you
can leverage these technologies for your
business. Thousands of start-ups already
are whether theyre using them to
enhance existing content, generate state-ofthe art experiences or extend market reach.

27

matters

The adoption of marketing


automation and personalisation.

Focus on what your


audience is really
engaging with using
marketing automation.

Last year you may have launched a brand


new responsive website. But while youve
won the internal battle to set up a team
to create great content for your site, you
still face the challenge of connecting
your audiences with that content. Good
information architecture, user experience
and content hierarchy will get you a long
way, but you should be thinking about
how to leverage similar technology used
by Amazon or Google to directly market
or re-target products and get the most
relevant information to your users.
This is where marketing automation
and personalisation comes into its own.
Historically used in the e-commerce sector
to provide dynamic recommendations and
improve customer conversion rates. There
are new tools, some directly built into your
CMS, that enable you to understand your
audiences interests based on the content
they consume and to directly influence
their user journey. Ultimately, the goal is
toimprove user engagement across all your
channels and optimise the content created
for your site.

We all use powerful analytical
services such as Google Analytics to
track our users, their frequency and
source. These metrics are often limited to
aggregated data sets rather than presenting

28

and predicting individual user behaviour,


or repeat and group (persona) behaviours.
(Googles Universal Analytics is, however,
showing promising progress towards
achieving this goal.)

Tools such as Idio, KissMetrics,
Sitecore DMS and Sitefinity DMP provide
real-time intelligence on content, channel
engagement and users. They do this by
creating dynamic profiles of users and the
type of content they are interested in, even
using machine learning algorithms to
predict which content types your business
should focus on and where to place them
in your site or social ecosystem. These
platforms commonly integrate with CRM
tools and campaign management systems
so you can distribute and collect all the
data you need for your support, sales or
engagement pipelines. If youre not already
doing so, you may want to have a closer
look at marketing automation tools in order
to gain efficiencies, reduce costs in your
content creation strategy and focus on
whatreally engages your audiences.

Issue 01 | 2015

The relevance of
programaticmedia buying.

Programmatic buying
means that advertisers no
longer have to purchase
display ad-space for a set
amount of money over a
set period of time.

If you are already dealing with online


advertising such as Google AdWords or
work in the digital realm you will probably
have heard of terms such as RTB (real-time
buying), programmatic or DSP (demandside platforms). They are all related to
programmatic media buying which, in its
simplest terms, is the use of technology
and user profiling to automate the buying
process of advertising space online.

The Internet Advertising Bureau


identifies (for the time being) two types
of programmatic buying forms: real-time
bidding and programmatic direct buying.
Real-time bidding is where the ad owner bids
on advertising space using an ad-exchange.
The ad-exchange has a vast collection of
websites with available ad-space and when
a user visits a page on one of those sites,
his or her profile is passed on, along with
the page information. The ad-space is then
auctioned off to the highest bidder in a
matter of milliseconds, i.e. real time. Each
ad-space made available on every load is
known as an impression and this is what
you purchase on the ad-exchange. The cost
is determined by demand, the popularity
ofthe site and relevance.

Demand-side platforms are used to
assist in the decision making and buying
process of impressions. They automate
the purchasing and remove the need for
negotiating and time-consuming manual
adplacement processes.

29

Programmatic direct buying is very


similar to the real-time bidding process.
However, here the space is guaranteed adspace rather than auctioned. The process is
inherently automated and secures ads based
on a number of different parameters such as
relevance, profile and target website.

Programmatic buying means that
advertisers no longer have to purchase
display ad-space for a set amount of money
over a set period of time, or use an agency
to research space and go on price-discovery
missions. Instead ads can be specifically
targeted to relevant people across a wide
range of sites, and budgets can be managed
in real time.

Automated media buying has
reached $1.6 billion in revenue during
2014 and is projected to take 34% of all
display advertising revenue by 2017. If you
havent used programmatic buying before,
its important to research the different DS
platforms and the breadth they provide in
terms of exchanges. Programmatic may not
completely replace manual media buying,
but if you apply similar due diligence
to quality (programmatic doesnt push
remnant inventory but you should be
vigilant), creativity and most importantly
select the right programmatic partner, you
should quickly see better conversion rates
and a better ROI.

matters

Everything is a computer
Building the internet of you.

2014 saw the Internet of Things (IoT)


become a reality. Thousands of startups and many larger tech corporates
like Samsung, Philips and Google have
already brought to market devices that
disrupt everything from retail, healthcare
and transport to consumer electronics.
IoT is a paradigm shift. No longer is a
computer limited to that thing on your desk
used to write a document, send an email
or browse the web. Instead, everything
around you is now a computer: a network
of connected embedded devices, sensors
and software that integrate into your
everyday life, autonomously performing
tasks we would have had to manually
perform. Whether its a fit-band, light bulb,
thermostat, Smart Pot, smart TV, water
bottle, fridge, dishwasher, shoes, glasses
or even a self-tightening belt, many of them
will be internet-connected and therefore
capable of collecting vast amounts of data
about you! And as you are at the centre
of these devices rather than a discrete
application or thing, it reverses the process
of technology. Rather than deciding to take
out your phone and launch an app to find
what you want, the technology understands
the context youare in and provides you with
the service or data you need leading to
the internet of you.

30

Issue 01 | 2015

2014 saw 500 million


NFC-enabled devices
soldand in 4 years
timemore than 26
billiondevices will be
connected to each other.

According to Gartner, in about four


years more than 26 billion devices will
be connected to each other. Devices that
are too small to make an easy internet
connection commonly bridge this boundary
by using Near Field Communication (NFC)
technology. 2014 saw 500 million NFCenabled devices and the trend to embed
NFC is growing so fast we will literally
see everything with an NFC tag providing
contextual information with just a simple tap.
The Internet of Things gives
marketers the opportunity to create
applications designed to work with IoT
devices, leveraging data or providing an
added-value service. The big data IoT
provides already allows companies to
understand their consumers better and
provide a more valuable, personalised
experience and service. Marketers will
have to engineer new approaches that can
leverage this intelligence and these tools,
while remaining sensitive towards users
privacy. However, used in the right way,
the IoT will inevitably be a vital part of the
marketers toolkit.

To find out more about


emerging technology trends in
communications, request a bespoke
bootcamp session by emailing
victoria.sugg@mslgroup.com
31

matters

Empowering
TheReputation
Makers
OrBreakers

Tapping into the true power of


employees in your communications.
Business success is increasingly
builtfrom the inside out. Jason Frank,
Global Co-Director of the Employee
Practice, provides guidance on
how communicators can harness
thepowerofemployees.

Issue 01 | 2015

2
With that in mind, here are our
topfive tips for turning employees
into reputation makers.

Just as free, ubiquitous technology has


put the consumer more in charge and
undermined the traditional gatekeepers
of information and influence, it is having
similar democratising and empowering
effects for employees.
Employees are becoming the ultimate
reputation makers or breakers in a world
where every organisation sells experiences
rather than products and where the truth is
more accessible and shareable than ever
particularly by those on the inside.

Remember the foundation is


engagement and you have a
bigroletoplay in shaping it
Employees simply dont become
reputationmakers unless they reach a
certain threshold of engagement. In
simpleterms engagement is the propensity
of an employee to strive beyond their job
specification to help their employer succeed.
Its about discretionary contribution
rather than old-fashioned concepts such
as satisfaction and loyalty. The body of
research demonstrating the link between
employee engagement and business
performance is growing and increasingly
irrefutable. The most definitive summary
ofevidence showing this link can be found
in David MacLeods Engaging for Success
report for the UK Government.
So what makes an employee
engaged? In truth its a subtle, shifting
algorithm of line management, leadership,
culture, working environment, pay and
career prospects. And depending on which
survey you look at, anywhere from 50%
75% of employees are actively disengaged.
Of course, many of the factors above
will always be beyond the remit of the
communicator even if you have specific
responsibility for this audience. However,
itis critical that you recognise and embrace
the defining role you and your team have
to play in shaping culture, relationships,
employee perception and ultimately
behaviour.

33

Get inside the millennial mind why


alot of employee communications
can be counterproductive, and how
toavoidthis trap
The majority of the workforce is now from
the much-maligned millennial generation
(Gen Y) born from anywhere between
1980 and 1984 depending on what you read.
By 2020 this cohort will constitute 75% of
the global workforce. In the last 18 months
weve conducted two major global surveys
into millennial attitudes to business and
the workplace (Millennial Compass with
Ashridge Business School and The Future
of Business Citizenship with Research
Now). The studies have thrown up some
fascinating nuances and confirm what other
studies on the subject have demonstrated.
To cut a long story short, the
emotional contract between employee and
employer has changed beyond recognition.
Employers are primarily seen as enablers
who can help an individual to get further,
faster and make a bigger impact on the
world. Institutional loyalty is now highly
conditional loyalty. Above all, millennials
want to develop, to progress and to see
thecorresponding rewards and recognition
faster and more frequently than ever
before. We summarise this attitude as Up,
On or Out the minute they stop moving
onor up theyre potentially out. As the
oldsaying goes, you need to recruit your
people every day.
Above all, there are two vital
implications that communicators must
understand here. The first is that
communications with employees have to
answer the question Whats in it for me?
Most employees dont get out of bed to make
corporate visions and strategies happen, not
unless they can see the resulting personal
and professional benefits for them. Make
those benefits more explicit, link the vision
to the specific value for the employee, tell
them why they should care, and ultimately
how they will go further by embracing that
new initiative, vision or strategy. Otherwise
its more self-serving corporate noise that
demonstrates you dont get them and that
you dont have their interests at heart.
The second critical point is that
Gen Y employees expect an enormous
amount from their leaders and managers
(As can be found in our Millennial
Compass research). They want managers
to be sources of information and expertise,
coaches, mentors and even friends. To make
your communications work, accept the
importance of leaders and managers and
make sure your cascades really work or
there will be an uncomfortable disconnect
between leadership, management and
employee.

matters

Embrace the role of employees at


the heart of the shift to content-led
communications and conversations
As if there werent already a big enough
imperative to move employees up your
priority list, another seismic shift is
increasingly putting the employee at the
heart of communications. This is the
move to more direct conversations with
stakeholders through a blurring spectrum
of paid, owned and earned channels. The
vast majority of organisations we work
with, from behemoths like SABMiller and
Standard Chartered to smaller professional
services organisations, are all trying to
find ways to meet the demand for a greater
flow of insightful stories and opinions.
Employees hold the key to this and
disengaged employees are not going to
be providers of great stories and opinions.
Disgruntled employees now have a public
stage to creatively vent.
In order to succeed in todays disintermediated world, organisations must
actively engage employees in finding,
telling, writing, filming, publishing and
sharing their stories and opinions, or those
of the brand/organisation. Our research
demonstrates that people believe what other
people say much more than what brands
or corporations say. Only 15% of people
trust messages from companies compared
to 90% who trust recommendations from
people they know. Again the foundation
stone is a certain threshold level of
engagement, but above all else its about
creating a process and culture that permits,
educates, enables, rewards and recognises
the principle of creating and sharing content
with the outside world. And going back to
our observations on millennials, that means
you need to explain whats in it for them
how they can build their own brands,
networks and market value.

The debate on social


advocacy is over. Employees
are digitally connected
to 10x more people than
brands their messages
have greater reach, greater
speed, and greater influence
than official channels
Brian Burgess
Global Co-Director Employee Practice
MSLGROUP North America

34

Issue 01 | 2015

Make advocacy simple


Weve already talked about the fact that
people believe other people more than
brands and companies. Research also
shows that people are much likely to engage
with and pass on this peer-to-peer content.
In fact, brand messages can actually be
shared 24 times more frequently when
distributed by employees, versus official
brand channels alone. Opinions, tips and
stories pass quicker and further through
personal networks.
Weve touched on the fact that the
tools and channels for badvocacy are now
free and ubiquitous, but you dont have to
be a zealous rogue ex-employee any more as
reviewing your organisation is becoming a
much more acceptable mainstream practice.
Visit Glassdoor and youll find a league
table of CEOs as voted for by employees.
Itwould be easy to underestimate how this
kind of commentary will increasingly build
or undermine the value of an organisation in
a world where CEO reputation is a primary
driver of market valuation.
We need to make the tools and
channels simple and available if we are to
turn engaged employees into regular, active
advocates. Remember, this activity goes
beyond their day jobs. Software companies
have jumped on the opportunity and
created tools that make it easier for people
to share content that is served up to them
through the social networks of their choice.
The employer is in control, but to give Gen
Y a little more incentive these systems
have built-in gamification elements such
as league tables that quantify peoples
contributions and make sharing content
competitive and fun. Weve seen pretty
spectacular results from implementations
of our own Employee Impact system with
major organisations.

Find out more


Millennial Compass
MSLGROUP in the UK
study in association
with Ashridge Business
School on insights into
what millennials want
from the workplace.
The Future of
Business Citizenship
A roadmap to connecting
business needs and
millennials expectations
in conjunction with
Research Now.

35

Above all, think empowerment


ratherthan simply engagement
Yes, employee engagement is fundamental
to ensuring employees dont become
potential Reputation Breakers. Yes, it
underpins business success and you have
a big role to play in creating an informed,
engaged, inspired and enabled workforce
that willingly gives discretionary effort,
based on shared interests, values and
rewards.
But in order to truly and fully harness
the reputational power of employees to
ensure they are Reputation Makers we
like to think beyond engagement to the
more dynamic concept of empowerment.
Lets assume a certain level of engagement:
what do you do with it? How do you turn it
into positive reputational impact embodied
in continuous participation, contribution,
sharing and advocacy?
The answer to building business and
communications success from the inside out
lies in allowing, educating and empowering
employees to take a growing role in your
communications. And this will only happen
if you take it seriously, make it easy, even
make it fun. You need to make it something
that employees recognise as good for them
and their careers, rather than something
that primarily benefits their employers.

36

Issue 01 | 2015

Whats the role of creativity


in communications?
How do you get attention
ina fast-moving world?
AlBaird, Creative Director,
shares his ideas...

Context
Its official: audiences have a lower attention
span than a goldsh, according to Edward
Boches and the Statistic Brain In 2000, the
average person could concentrate on a task
without being distracted for a full 12 seconds.
By 2013, that number had dropped to eight.
Goldsh are better at concentrating than
weare.
Leadership
It is more important now than ever before.
According to a study by IBM, it is now the
most important leadership quality required
ina CEO for success in business.
Creativity will amplify
So, as communicators, how do you grab
attention and cut through the apathy caused
by overload? You need to disrupt, get creative
and amplify your message by creating
experiences. There are endless possibilities
using digital channels. You just need to nd
the right formula.

37

Creativity is at once
both the lifeblood of
communications and the
sparkle. Rooted in a deep
human insight, brilliant
creative ideas were never
needed more to help clients
voices be heard and their
messages matter

How?
Dont talk do! According to Edward
Boches, actions most de nitely speak louder
than words. Dont take your audiences for
granted. Do your research; understand
their behaviours, their motivations, and
where theygo to get their kicks. Give them
something they love and theyll love you
back. Bring your message to life by giving
people an experience, invite them into
it, seduce them, surprise them, tell them
astoryand get them involved.

Trudi Harris
Chief Communications Officer
MSLGROUP

38

Issue 01 | 2015

The Magic Blend


There are successful formulas the trick
is to take tried and tested principles and
remix them in new and dierent ways.
Gowhere you know your audiences are,
whether thats in the real world or the
digitalworld, and deliver the experience
inan appropriate format (from experiential,
to immersive storytelling, to videos that go
viral, to stunts,to creative technology) to
givethemagreat experience.
Getting the blend just right isnt easy.
Ittakes a lot of work and courage. Sometimes
its worth thinking in a dierent frame of
mind, in a completely dierent place or as
a dierent persona. Here Ive curated a few
classic and current campaigns to inspire:

Conclusion
Share peoples passions, draw them in with
clever techniques and distribute shareable
content through all channels. If you do it
right, you will create a community who will
be happy to have a conversation both with
you and about you. Just make sure you grab
their attention in the rst eight seconds

The Illusionist
The Illusionist uses sleight of hand to
distract and disrupt. British Airways used
juxtaposition and technological trickery
togreat eect.
msl.gp/MagicFlying
The Provocateur
P&Gs Always picking a ght with a clich
and beating it to a pulp.
msl.gp/LikeAgirl
The Rebel With A Cause
Charity Water Is Life raising awareness by
making the self-obsessed First World look
like idiots.
msl.gp/HashtagKiller
The Twist
A favourite of ad men the world over:
thattried and tested technique, the twist.
They flip the story just when you think
youre in on their gag, but you forgive
themfor duping you because its made
youfeel allgooey inside.
msl.gp/TicketToVisitMum
The Stunt
You cant beat a well-rehearsed bit of
mayhem to make people stop and gawp.
msl.gp/PushForDrama
The Anchorman
And now, the news. In real time, via a biscuit
(sorry, cookie).
msl.gp/DailyTwist
The Storyteller
Are you sitting comfortably? Then Ill begin.
As we all know from childhood, you cant
beat a great story brought to life in a rich
andengaging way.
msl.gp/Makers
The Long Player
Sometimes its okay to defy convention and
just do whatever it takes. In this instance,
using the time and space the story warrants.
msl.gp/BlackHawkDown

39

Zoom, Swipe, Press, Tap, Pinch


The ubiquity of touchscreen devices
means the good old-fashioned click
is becoming just that: a thing of the
past. Is your communication content
touch sensitive?
For the cover of this issue we asked
graphic artist Sam Coldy to examine the
gestures that enable digital exploration.
Here we breakdown the dierent marks
that went into the nal artwork.

Tap

Zoom

Press

Drag

Track

Pinch

Rotate

Swipe

matters

Contributors
James Warren
Having started his career at IBM, James
blends strategic consultancy, creative thinking
and digital nous to help clients solve their
communications needs. As Head of Digital he
has overall responsibility for the delivery of truly
integrated content-led digital solutions.
james.warren@mslgroup.com
Sara Beirne
Sara is a strategic planner with 10 years
experience in the communications industry.
Working across global, regional and local
campaigns, she specialises in digital, content,
social media, consumer insights and analysis,
influencer identification and engagement, and
integrated and multi-market creative campaigns.
sara.beirne@mslgroup.com
Dominic Payling
Dominic is MSLGROUPs Director of Planning
and Insight. His obsession is changing behaviours
through the magic and rigour of storytelling
and the most influential techniques available to
communications. He is the editor of the recent
MSLGROUP book On Influence.
dominic.payling@mslgroup.com
Kinda Jackson
Kinda is an ardent content marketer with a
passion for insight-driven creative content, visual
storytelling and video production. In her role
as Head of Content she helps brands build and
manage a digital presence through creative, insightdriven storytelling, contagious content creation,
e-influencer, platform and content strategy.

James Klymowsky
A previous winner of the IPA Young Talent of
the Year Award, James has 10 years experience
designing and developing enterprise digital
solutions. As Technical Director, he leads the
development team at MSLGROUP with a culture
of creative technology that allows them to push
boundaries on behalf of their clients.
james.klymowsky@mslgroup.com
Dean Parker
Dean is passionate about developing creative
solutions that help organisations solve reputation,
behaviour and revenue focused challenges.
He leads MSLGROUPs expertise in digital
strategy and communications and has over
two decades experience in interaction design
and user experience.
dean.parker@mslgroup.com
Anders Kempe
Anders is a keen advocate of an entrepreneurial
spirit in the industry and at MSLGROUP. Anders
has headed up the EMEA region as President since
2007, and has almost 30 years experience in the
industry, with a particular interest in public affairs
and corporate communications.
anders.kempe@mslgroup.com

kinda.jackson@mslgroup.com

Lucy Cording
Lucys raison detre is using digital to reach
and influence audiences. Her wide-ranging
expertise ranges from mapping landscapes and
understanding user journeys to planning and
executing multi-platform campaigns. She is a
leader in search, social engagement, content
strategy and influencer engagement.

Al Baird
Al passionately believes that creativity is
fundamental in influencing audience behaviours
by building communities through emotive
storytelling and interactive experiences. He
is MSLGROUPs Lead Creative Director and
has over two decades experience of delivering
powerful brand and business impact through
creative communications.

Jason Frank
Jason is fascinated by the relationship between
people, performance and reputation, and believes
that brand and company success start from the
inside out. He is Joint CEO of MSLGROUP and
is passionate about building an agency that is
recognised as a go-to both for clients and as
anemployer.

al.baird@mslgroup.com

jason.frank@mslgroup.com

lucy.cording@mslgroup.com

Matthew Shannon
Matthews multidisciplinary approach enables
him to bring brands to life, engage workforces,
and deliver strategic change and business
strategies. In his role as Creative Director at
MSLGROUP, he adds value by creating innovative
solutions and a different perspective for some
of the worlds largest organisations and those
individuals that interact with them.
matthew.shannon@mslgroup.com

44

Front Cover Illustration


Sam Coldy
Photography pages 47
Jamie Long
Illustration pages 2631
Owen Davies
Illustration pages 3235
Enora Thpaut
Design
MSLGROUP in the UK

We are MSLGROUP in the UK.


Were a communications agency with
digital, insight and creativity at its
heart. We help organisations to build
and maintain their reputations and
relationships. As part of the global
MSLGROUP network we have more
than 3,500 colleagues in over 100
offices across 22 countries.
Get in touch:
Victoria Sugg
Business Development Director
victoria.sugg@mslgroup.com
+44 (0)20 3219 8838
mslgroup.co.uk
Keep up to date with our latest
research, events and training by
following us @MSGROUP_UK or
by joining our closed LinkedIn group,
MSLGROUP Sphere of Influence.
MSLGROUP 2015