EMPLOYER BRAND – WHAT’S YOUR STORY?

High angle view of magnet attracting traffic on wooden table

Words by Kari Owers, Managing Director

It’s a war on talent out there, and whilst most businesses focus their effort on winning new customers, the real battle lies in attracting the best employees to help their business grow and be successful. Employer brand strategy takes the principles of marketing communications, but looks through the lens of recruitment and retention of people rather than customers.

At O we are specialists in brand storytelling, a strategy that works particularly well in an age of ‘social sourcing’, where your future hires are checking out your company online long before they decide to change jobs.

Recently our team held an Employer Brand workshop for the Entrepreneurs’ Forum on how to design a magnetic employer brand strategy.

 

So, what’s your story?

The power of social storytelling allows you to open up the doors of your company and let people in, to look around and meet your team, hear about your purpose and values and see what life might be like if they worked for you.

Getting this right requires creativity, and always starts within. We start by asking you to tell us your story, who started the company (and why), what has your journey been, where are you heading and how do your people shape that?

 

Social stories

If we take millennials as a key audience (apparently by 2025 they will make up 75% of the workforce), we need to understand where they find out about your company long before they apply for a job.

68% of millennials will check you out on social media, way before they even reach the carefully crafted job advert on your website or jobs board.

They will be looking for evidence of your purpose, career development opportunities, flexibility and a diverse workforce. Dubbed the ‘giving generation’ they are looking for somewhere they can really make a difference, and your company should evidence that you live and breathe these benefits.

 

Video

With so many opportunities to post content on social media, where do you start? By choosing the format that allows you both to tell a story and get the best ROI for your effort – video.

There’s a lot of inspiration out there – from telling the story of your people through their life story like the Netflix #SheRules campaign, to creating fun videos or initiatives that make you stand out like Brewdog’s puppy parental leave. Video marketing doesn’t need to cost the earth – but should always be creative in the story it tells and reflect your brand well.

 

Look inwards…

Your employees are absolutely your main channel for new recruits so look inwards rather than outwards when considering how you can grow your team – they have valuable peer-to-peer relationships which you can tap into which will help you significantly when it comes to recruitment.

Likewise, everyone is a publisher these days, so how can you harness this and use your employees and their connections to your advantage? Are you giving them a reason to post content about your business? How can you engage them to do this? This begins at the recruitment stage – does this employee even share the same values as you?

Just like any content marketing strategy a customer persona allows you to target the right message in the right place, so consider what ‘brand character’ your ideal employee is – what does this mean in terms of what their values, interests and lifestyle looks like?

Don’t just go by age when targeting messages, values-based personas help you create something they will care about and ideally like and share. You could even go as far as giving them a name, family, interests and imagined career pathway – it really helps you align your brand story with their life and passions.

Strong leadership and a clear direction of travel will ensure they feel they are on a journey with you, as will giving them their ‘share of voice’. Consider which parts of the business different people in your team could lead on independently, so they can help drive some of the journey for you – ideally an area they feel passionate about. A share of voice can be as simple as having a company blog which staff can contribute to, or contributing to your company’s social channels and the content you are putting out there.

 

Culture…

Culture, health and wellbeing are all buzzwords of the moment but they are so relevant in today’s workplace and job market and certainly non-negotiables for graduate job seekers.

Clear and consistent communication is essential; your people are your best advocates so make sure you understand what makes them tick! Spend time with them, listen to them and open yourself up for feedback – however formal or informal they need this to be – but be sure to act.

Giving your people ownership and autonomy will naturally give them a sense of pride in working for you and this can only have a positive impact on your customers, as will staff recognition, because if people are happy and succeeding in their work, why wouldn’t they sing the praises of their employer to the outside world? Here is where having a not-for-profit making purpose can play a key role, as will having a clear CSR strategy, which is increasingly becoming a non-negotiable for people moving into a new role. Are you giving your people something to share and be proud of?

MAKE YOUR MARK THIS BLACK FRIDAY

An informal name for the Friday after Thanksgiving in the USA, Black Friday has become an annual retail celebration of hot deals and widespread media coverage of shoppers fighting over televisions. Originally kicking off as a popular shopping event for Americans, the Black Friday phenomenon has reached us in the UK and we can’t get enough of seeking out the best sales on gadgets and popular brand names.

Both Black Friday and the following Cyber Monday offer retailers a real opportunity to maximise footfall in-store and online by offering customers outrageous discounts. The hype around Black Friday can even start at least a month before the main event, with shoppers seeking out the sales before the date is even here.

Black Friday

Whether you dabble in Black Friday as a customer or not, in the retail industry it is difficult to ignore that this is arguably up there with one of the most important events of the year. Each year it’s a battle of the shops as the likes of e-commerce giant Amazon goes head-to-head with the high street electrical retailers. That being said, it’s not all about the tech. This year Boots are even involved to save shoppers money on exclusive beauty products – a great opportunity for Christmas gift shopping.

But with these huge brands competing for the top spot this year – how can you really stand out from the crowd and do something a bit different? Backed with glittering creative campaigns, you’ll find the global retailers splashed across advertisements and social media posts. So how do you release your inner Amazon and bring the excitement to your products this year?

Whether you’re an independent retailer relying on Shopify, you have your own boutique store or you’re a high street favourite, the O retail communications experts are here to share some top tips for those looking to dazzle this Black Friday.

What’s the offer?

Everyone loves a deal but with so many stores competing for the best percentages off on Black Friday, why not ditch the BOGOF and launch an exclusive limited-edition product for one day only? Record Store Day is a perfect example of this – by intriguing customers with a product they can grab on one occasion only, you’re immediately adding a sense of excitement before shoppers have filled their shopping baskets, physical and virtual.

Make it an experience

We’ve learnt over the past few years that creating an experience for your customers is becoming more crucial than ever – everyone wants to feel something and it’s exciting to be physically part of something. Instead of focusing on the discounts, why not host an event to coincide with Black Friday and give your best customers the VIP treatment?

Consider in-store activities such as cosmetic demos or fashion shows accompanied with goodie bags and Instagrammable spots for social sharing.

Consider your CSR

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is extremely important nowadays and your customers want to see that you care about the same things they do. Consider getting a local charity or initiative involved to have a day where you match the profits made and donate the money to charity or give back in other ways such as work experience for job seekers or the homeless.

It’ll make your brand more relatable and your customers may even want to get involved.

Ditch Black Friday altogether

Love it or hate it, the promotion of Black Friday is unlikely to go away anytime soon. So why not be bold and throw a spanner in the works by doing something quirky on a completely different day?

Consider focusing on another date away from the competition of Black Friday and carve your own special date that’ll get people talking.

If you’re a retailer looking for support with your communications get in touch today for a chat on letstalk@opr.co.uk.

THE TODDLER POUND: HOW TO ATTRACT PRE-SCHOOLER FAMILIES TO YOUR VENUE

October half term is fast approaching which of course means entertaining the kids and spending is top of the agenda.

In a report published by The Independent last year it revealed that parents spend £2,600 a year entertaining their children and with the sheer volume of activities available and the venue options we have nowadays, that isn’t likely to change anytime soon.

So, with this amount being spent on a yearly basis, how do we attract families to spend with us? Especially those with toddlers who need entertaining 24/7 before joining school – how can you ensure that they are spending with you?

When engaging a family audience, school holidays are a primetime for footfall but we shouldn’t forget weekends. With so many people competing in the space to attract a family audience, how can we transform our communications to appeal to their needs rather than our own?

At O we’ve worked with clients in the travel and leisure sectors across the UK to increase footfall, raise brand awareness, promote experiential activities, shout about the best staycations – the list is endless! We know how busy the marketplace is and we’re often working with clients to think outside of the box to create fun campaigns that’ll appeal to families with all budgets.

One particular campaign we have worked on was with the Fun Shack Group, as Fun Shack announced its brand-new play area ‘Toon Town’ to its Benfield site. Aimed at families with children, Toon Town encourages role play and development within little ones.

The new zone includes a green grocer, a café, boutique clothes shop, pizzeria, pet store and even a fire station where children from 1-8 years can immerse themselves in each area, complete with dress ups and props.

We created a video to celebrate the Toon Town launch, recruiting 5 little ones and putting them in real life situations similar to that in Toon Town to highlight the new role play with a little bit of humour.

By partnering up with local businesses in Newcastle city centre such as Scream for Pizza and Byker Community Fire station, our toddler team re-enacted some of their daily routines – cuteness overload!

The video was used to promote a social media competition launching the new zone on Fun Shack’s channels which generated a huge buzz from excited parents.

Together with Fun Shack, we proved that a creative, playful video was the right approach to engage families and drum up interest about the new zone on social channels.

O is a creative communications agency based in Newcastle that works with clients across a range of industries including travel, leisure, hospitality and retail. If you are looking for some inspiration in engaging a family audience, why not drop us an email on letstalk@opr.co.uk.

ALL ABOUT THE GRAM: IT’S TIME TO EMBRACE ‘THE INSTAGRAM MOMENT’

This week we read about a newly launched Selfie Factory pop-up in London that has attracted thousands of social media fans looking for the perfect backdrop to feature on their Instagram and Snapchat selfies.

Built as a series of stylish room sets, a trip to the factory can cost from £9.99 an hour to £19.99 for a whole day, where you’re free to run around and take as many selfies as possible in backdrops from a 1950’s diner, to a bath tub filled with pink balls or a giant teddy bear.

The point is you take along lots of outfits and gather enough selfies to keep your social channels busy for months to come!

You don’t need whole room sets to make the most that “Instagram moment” however it is well worth thinking about creating installations at your venue to encourage social shares.

It doesn’t have to be as extravagant as you may think, it just needs to be something visual that’ll make people reach for their cameras. What would be your ideal backdrop? Would it be a something to make you look like you’re living it up in the Maldives or simply a prop to add something a bit different to your latest Instagram upload.

Whether it’s a bar in the city centre, a high street fashion store or a quiet corner of your visitor attraction, it almost feels like it should be a requirement to create something that’s worthy of the ‘gram. And don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and get a little creative.

Flower walls, giant photo frames, neon lighting, bright wall colours or murals, pop-up creatures or even a love-lock grid – the list is endless when it comes to ideas for incorporating a bit of selfie sparkle into your marketing mix.

Here are just a few recent examples of campaigns we’ve worked on where the “Instagram Moment” is at the heart of things.

  • Intu Metrocentre lovelock wall
  • Flymo Waterloo giant deckchairs
  • Seven Stories Elmer exhibition launch

So next time you’re planning a marketing campaign, a new venue launch or a PR stunt, embrace the ‘gram! You never know who’ll be snapping…

GET CREATIVE: STOP BEING AFRAID OF SILLY IDEAS

Words by Lauren Regan, creative director

We’ve all sat in creative meetings and thought “is my idea the worst idea in history”? Don’t be afraid of that thought – Embrace it!

If you’re facing creative brain freeze and your campaigns are stagnating, forget about “being cool”, lose your inhibitions and let your most ridiculous, big, hairy audacious ideas loose on the world. What’s the worst that can happen?

When you’re a grown up being silly can seem to be just well, silly! By embracing problems with a playfulness, you can take an ok idea and mould it into something which is really going to catch people’s attention.

If you have been in your role a while then chances are that you will revert back to your past experience, which is safe, solid and sensible. It’s also probably boring.

True innovation comes from being brave and accepting that we are going to fail 1000 times before we get it right. But that’s ok. Draw pictures, write daft copy, crumple things up, try them again and find inspiration in all of the silly ideas that have gone wrong before they ever made it off the drawing board. We’re working in a human industry and once we accept that we are fallible and no longer strive for perfection first time, you can open your mind to the idea that anything is possible.

Making mistakes is all part of the creative process. Benjamin Franklin once said “I haven’t failed, I’ve had 10,000 ideas that didn’t work”. Michael Jordan missed over 9000 shots in his career, lost over 300 games and 26 times he has been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. But that’s not why he is remembered – he’s celebrated for the shots that hit their target and he succeeded despite, and because of, the misses. No idea is going to be perfect first time and not every concept is going to make it through the net, but if you don’t put them out there then you will never know which way the game is going to go.

Don’t forget, it’s important to remember why you are being creative in the first place and avoid creativity just for the sake of it. Keep your business goal at the heart of any creative problem solving and your ideas will go from a pretty picture and some nice words, into a campaign capable of having real business impact.

At O we believe in being ‘seriously creative’ – addressing your business problems with imaginative approaches that are different enough to get your customers talking and taking action. Just because your problem is serious, doesn’t mean that it can’t be approached in a creative way; you never know, the silliest ideas might just solve your most serious problem.

BACK TO SCHOOL AND RETAIL: THE PERFECT TIME TO ENGAGE WITH AN AUDIENCE?

It’s that time of year again where every company you have ever heard of is donning an all-caps hashtag on their website. It’s #BacktoSchool time.

For many companies, especially in the retail sector, Back to School time is similar to Christmas. It’s a great time to push sales and increase engagement with customers because, at the end of the day, there will never be a shortage of children needing to get ready for the new academic year. For example, did you know that a survey conducted by marketing intelligence agency Mintel revealed that Brits collectively spent a total of £510 million on school uniforms in 2018?

Although the kids have returned to school this week – there’s still plenty of time to jump on the bandwagon and catch those last-minute shoppers.

Here’s our top four tips for those in the world of retail that are looking to stand out from the crowd this September.

THINK OUTSIDE OF THE BOX

It may seem like a bit of a redundant task – after all, the retail sector created #BacktoSchool but you might be surprised to see that it’s not just clothes manufacturers and stationery suppliers who can take advantage of this time of year.

Whether your brand is mainly targeting children and their parents or you’ve got an audience of young adults heading off to university, there’s plenty that can be done when you think outside of the box.

Experience-led activations instore can be a huge footfall driver and by getting your audience involved, you can even get direct feedback. Why not host a live ‘show and tell’ of some packed lunch recipes for busy mums or get students instore to create their perfect fresher’s survival kit?

MAKE IT RELEVANT

Once you’ve got a good understanding of the audiences you’re targeting in your #BacktoSchool campaign, it’s worth taking an introspective look at the specific products or services you want to push forward.

In theory, almost every brand out there has something that could be tied to the general #BacktoSchool trend, but what differentiates a campaign that resonates with the audience from one that is just a blatant sales pitch is good storytelling.

Appealing to stories about children leaving the nest to move in on their own for the first time at university, or little ones making their way to the first day of school – in other words, appealing to emotionally-charged moments in our lives – is a great way to relate to your customers in meaningful ways, whilst also being able to promote your products or services without seeming out of place.

REACH OUT TO THE APPROPRIATE INFLUENCERS

Many beauty, fashion & lifestyle YouTube influencers have come under public scrutiny in recent years for hopping on the #BacktoSchool wagon. Social media personalities who completed their education a while ago and are seen to recreate the ‘trendy’ school look have been dubbed as artificial and unrepresentative of current school regulations.

Similarly, well-established cosmetics brands have also been publicly called out for inaccurately linking their products to the #BacktoSchool trend, with critics questioning the morality of promoting makeup to schoolgirls.

Whilst influencer marketing is often seen as the golden ticket to massive engagement, not knowing which social media personalities to go to for in your campaign can be a faux-pas that costs millions.

Why not try a family blogger or student that’s currently at university and getting them to try out some products either at home or instore? Sometimes scaling down and looking for hyperlocal influencers with engaged audiences can make the world of difference.

PLAY THE ‘NEW BEGINNINGS’ CARD

If, after you’ve checked all of the above, you’re still unsure as to how you might link your campaign to #BacktoSchool, then there is one last trick you can pull.

September is generally known as a time for ‘new beginnings’ due to its academic ties so why not use this as your narrative? Whether you’re launching a brand-new product or you’ve got the essentials for going back to school nailed, crafting a story around this time of year can be beneficial as a promotional tool but also for getting an audience onboard that may be ready for a change in path.

O Communications is a creative communications agency based in Newcastle. If you’re looking for some strategic advice on creating a campaign that’ll get people talking, drop us an email on letstalk@opr.co.uk.

ARE CATS THE PURRFECT ADDITION TO YOUR MARKETING CAMPAIGN?

Author: Sammy Sadler

Cats are a bit marmite aren’t they? Nobody ever really admits to sitting on the fence about felines – you either love them or hate them. I sit firmly in the cat lover camp and nothing brings me more joy than illustrating my tweets with hilarious cat GIFs and it turns out that I’m not alone. So, in the spirit of International Cat Day, let’s have a look at why cats could be your marketing kryptonite.

Over the years there has been conflicting research on whether or not cats have taken over the internet, with some sources claiming that cat videos make up about 30 percent of all internet traffic, a stat which was disregarded in New York Museum exhibition ‘How Cats Took Over The Internet’. Regardless of that and the question of whether people search for dogs or cats more (it’s dogs by the way) many of us can’t help but think that the internet was made for cat content.

Grumpy Cat, BaneCat, Lil Bub, the list is endless when it comes to naming the comical felines that we have fallen in love with and in turn are racking up millions of YouTube views. The recently passed Grumpy Cat’s net worth has even been cited as $100 million although her owner claimed this not to be true.

via GIPHY

But it’s not just the ‘famous felines’ that get all of the attention. Lolcat became an internet sensation of memes and we have a plethora of images, GIFs and videos at our fingertips to binge on cat-related content. But why should that make a difference to your marketing?

Even though these loveable kitties may not be necessarily marketing anything, their ability to make people laugh triggers one of the most important marketing tools out there – the power of the giggle.

Paddy Power is a perfect example of this. Although it isn’t posting cats everywhere, the brand uses humour in a way that will specifically appeal to its audience and as a result it has easily become one of the most recognised brands in the UK.

People love to laugh so why do we take marketing so seriously all of the time? The need for serious messaging will always be there but can we not have a bit of fun every now and again? You may not be opting to choose a sassy Persian cat to head up your brand anytime in the near future, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still opt for something that’ll make your audience chuckle or coo.

And it’s not just what makes you chuckle, there are so many ways you can harness what the experts call ‘emotive marketing’:

Controversial or not controversial? That is the question

Controversy has been known to have great results in the past but it’s not always something that you should opt for. You need to be a brand that has a challenger attitude and is unafraid of criticism, and debate – and even then, you should always stay on the right side of what is tasteful.

Who finds it funny? You or your audience?

We’ve spoken a lot about considering who your audience is, especially when it comes down to your communications strategy. Just because you find something hilarious or cute, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the audience of your brand will think the same. Analysing what your social followers already engage with will give you a big indication of what they like and don’t like – go with that.

Keeping it consistent

Tying in with the controversial tip, any content should be appropriate to everything else you are putting out there. Throwing in a curveball every now and again doesn’t hurt but if you go off piste radically you could damage your brand’s story irreversibly.

Don’t try too hard 


Do be brave and take yourself and your brand out of the comfort zone a little bit – but nobody likes a try-hard. Make sure you are being topical and witty when you choose that next funny GIF, otherwise you’ll lose respect – a bit like telling a cheesy joke at a party!

STORYTELLING? IT’S NOT CHILD’S PLAY!

Words by Lauren Regan

Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books, lies nestled in the heart of Newcastle’s busting Ouseburn Valley, a stone’s throw from the city’s vibrant quayside. The mission is simple, to bring the joy of children’s books to families across the world through innovative exhibitions, events and activities.

Seven Stories holds a special place in my heart. I spent seven years of my career working as part of their marketing department and it is the role that I get asked about the most. What was it is like to talk about children’s books all day? And I always have the same answer. It was bloody hard!

To put it simply, we brought children’s books to life.

I was surrounded by storytellers every day. Brilliant authors waltzed through the doors and entertained rooms full of excited families with their daring tales. It was apparent that the best storytellers weren’t the novelists, they didn’t use the most, the biggest or the fanciest words, in fact the complete opposite. The best storytellers were the picture book writers. The authors of the books which have very few words but every word has been toiled over and carries meaning. They repeat their message over and over – any parent will be able to quote Julia Donaldson’s “Oh wait, oh no…It’s a Gruffalo!” – these messages are memorable and the audience will be shouting them well after they forget what the story is actually about.

Storytelling is in my blood but it’s also in yours. Our entire civilisation started with people sitting down and telling stories to each other around a fire; where the best berries were, how to catch a mammoth, have you heard that a guy two hills over has found out the rubbing two sticks together can make this cool thing called fire? None of us would be here today without the power of stories. Studies have shown that effective storytelling will actually affect the listener or reader’s brain. Our brains light up when we hear stories, so much more than when we are fed factual content, and not only that, we remember them. People re-tell stories that make them feel something, whether that’s at the bus stop, around the dinner table or on social media – powerful stories get people talking.

Did you know that every story ever written is simply an iteration of one of seven plots? Rags to riches, the quest, voyage and return, comedy, tragedy, rebirth, and the most interesting from a brand storytelling perspective, overcoming the monster. For effective brand storytelling you need to find each of your customer’s monsters, slay it and become the hero by helping them over come it. Your service or product exists for a reason, if it didn’t benefit your consumers, you simply wouldn’t exist. By understanding your customers’ pain points you show that you understand them and their world and have a relevant place in their lives, much more than a brand who is simply broadcasting their own agenda.

Your overarching brand message should be clear and concise and it should be simple enough for a child to understand and repeat. No, scrap that. Write your brand stories as if you are trying to explain it to your drunk friend in a loud bar. You have to shout over everyone else’s noise, they keep wandering off and getting distracted and all you want is for them to listen and remember the one simple thing you are trying to tell them.

The world is one, big noisy bar and while your customers probably aren’t drunk all of the time, you’re competing with global distractions coming at them from every angle. What is the one thing that you want them to remember about your brand when they wake up in the morning, with a fuzzy head, hungover from the marketing messages that bombard them every day?

Everyone has stories to tell and I am constantly surprised by the amount of businesses who think that they don’t have anything you say. At O we often question each other to search for the ‘so what?’. Whether you’re launching a new piece of baby-tech, unveiling a new family-friendly venue or introducing a new product; unpicking the real-world reasons behind your story allows your customer and stakeholders to become part of the narrative and gives them a hook to re-tell the story to their peers.

Stories help us to make friends, and ultimately, isn’t that what it’s all about?

The importance of provoking an emotional response

You can tell the tension is slowly building up as the instrumental piano in the background intensifies, becoming louder. Next shot, two men sit at a bar enjoying two bottles of beer that appear hardly relevant to the whole setting, as the camera focuses on the younger man’s face. And then he drops the bomb: “I wanted to actually ask you to legally adopt me.”

We are sure that most people who have made it 2:25 minutes in to Budweiser’s Father’s Day campaign video know exactly what moment we’re referencing above, because it is the precise moment when you burst into tears, at which point what follows in the remaining minute or so isn’t even relevant anymore.

In just a clever sequence of shots, the ad makes a point to 1) show what is being advertised, 2) what greater social cause is being endorsed and 3) ideally, it will make you cry. It is at exactly minute 2:17, next to a conveniently but not inauthentically placed bottle of Budweiser, that the younger man unfolds the legal documents for his adoption, and by all accounts that is everything you need to remember.

Recent years have been flooded by advertisements that follow the same pattern – a quiet beginning, intensifying instrumental background scores, emotional punchlines. This is hardly a coincidence, as neuroscientists have long championed that emotions leave longer-lasting impacts in your memory than rational facts. In fact, this is so much so that a study by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising found that advertisements with purely emotional content generated twice as much profit as ads based solely on product-related facts.

It turns out, then, that an advert’s ability to lure in viewers by means of storytelling has a far greater influence on customers’ decision to purchase a product than the advert showcasing the benefits of said product. In the context of an over-saturated mass market, it is no longer sufficient to create a brilliant product; brands have become more and more aware that in order to win customer’s trust, they must first appeal to their basic human principles.

Gillette’s Father’s Day advert was a great example of how storytelling has come to be the driving force behind remarkable campaigns that almost seem to be selling audiences a lifestyle rather than a product. The advert, on the surface, shows a young transgender man shaving for the first time under his father’s supervision – not that big of a deal, right? Wrong. Not only is the advert making a bold statement about what manhood has come to mean in the 21st century, but it also plays on a deeply embedded cultural myth of the father mentoring his son into becoming a ‘real’ man, which is why the ad has currently gained over 10K shares on Facebook, and thousands of reactions across all social media platforms. Not to mention, the ad checks all the boxes for emotional social cause sob-stories, but it does so in such a genuine manner that we can overlook the melancholic violin in the background.

Documentary cinematographer Ken Burns once said that “all storytelling is manipulation” and as proven by recent campaigns, it appears brands are nowhere close to jumping off the emotional advertising wagon. In a fast-paced world where no product is irreplaceable, companies must make an effort greater than ever before to get to know their audiences, understand the causes they stand by and the narratives they associate with themselves in order to ensure their products – and brand – are relevant on the market.

O’S MONDAY MUSINGS: RECHARGE AND FEEL INSPIRED

It may sound counter-intuitive, but taking time to relax and invest your spare time into soul-fulfilling hobbies is actually the best trick to improving your productivity at the work place. A study conducted by Harvard in the mid-2000s revealed that, across the sample of American corporations included in the research, those companies whose employees reported higher rates in stress and sleep deprivation lost just over $63.2 billion a year in productivity. We take our time off very seriously here at O and we would encourage you to also find ways to recharge and feel inspired. Hopefully, this list will serve as a starting point:

Apps

Otter.ai: Otter Voice Notes – Face-to-face interactions with our clients play a huge part of our day to day tasks, but sometimes putting everything that has been discussed in a meeting on paper can feel like an overwhelming task. Chatting makes ping-ponging ideas back and forth so much easier than through emails or Slack messages, which makes transcribing an absolute nightmare. Fortunately, we found an app that almost does the job for us. Otter is a speech-to-text app designed to save us all some time and take the weight of pressing play, pause and rewind endlessly while transcribing important audio material. A quick disclaimer is worth noting – as much as the developers have worked on the app’s speech recognition algorithm, some accents may be harder to process than others, so it’s worth proof checking the documents before sending them off.

Tagomatic – We work very closely with social media here at O and we’re always keeping up to date with what is trending online these days. However, finding the best hashtags is no easy job but thankfully there’s an app that has our backs. TagOMatic essentially works as an endless collection of hashtags which you can browse through to see not only which ones fit your posts best, but also what other related topics are doing much better than the hashtags you would normally use.

Articles

Digital Doesn’t Have To Be Disruptive – A long, but very insightful piece on the myths and false expectations businesses sometimes hold against digitalisation. Although by no means a new phenomenon, Furr and Shipilov argue going digital has long been perceived as a disruptive business decision, leading to the word slowly becoming stripped of meaning and casing confusion among executive boards.

Indra Nooyi and the Vanishing Female C.E.O – This article makes a really good point about the state of the contemporary female CEO following former PepsiCo chief Indra Nooyi. Kolhatkar’s comments about the dwindling numbers of US female chief executives in recent months despite “more women than men are now earning college degrees, and about as many women as men go into business careers.”

From empowerment to performance: Why brands need to shift the narrative around women’s sport – With the FIFA Women’s World Cup having recently ended, there’s no better time to talk about the gender bias woven into many of the official communications recently released by sponsoring brands. In this piece, Rogers makes a great point about the dichotomy between male and female-centred advertising, claiming that for so long narratives around women’s sports have focused on empowering them to pursue traditionally masculine career paths, instead of valuing the top-tier physical ability and skill World Cup female footballers possess.

Podcasts

The Habitat – Did you know that at the top of a remote Hawaiian mountain there is a planet Mars simulator called The Habitat? If you’re a science fan but have a soft spot for Big Brother-y type plotlines, this podcast is perfect for you. Gilmet’s The Habitat tells the story of six scientists and engineers selected by NASA to live on fake Mars for a year, in hopes of generating more concrete insights into what challenges future astronauts will face on their trip to the red planet. Structured as a mix between daily diaries sent in by the fake-Mars crew and contemplative bits produced by podcast host Lynn Levy, The Habitat presents itself more as a fascinating social experiment than a scientific endeavour. As relationships flourish and tensions arise, the classic reality-show plotline slowly transforms into a surprising investigation into the intricacies of human interaction and the importance of space research.

Uncover: Escaping NXIVM – If you’ve been keeping up with the news, then surely you’ve heard Keith Raniere has been found guilty of all charges against him in the world-renowned case against NXIVM. Despite the publicity, the media coverage on the details of the six-week trial has been rather scarce, leaving many confused as to what the controversy was all about. Uncover’s first season provides a brilliantly written analysis into Raniere’s NXIVM, a rapidly-growing sex cult marketed as a self-help community. Perhaps what makes this story even more gripping is the candid relationship that unravels between host Josh Bloch and ex-NXIVM member Sarah Edmondson as she unravels the secrets of a group she’s been involved with for more than a decade.

Song Exploder – This is the perfect podcast for a curious mind with a soft spot for behind-the-scenes insights and a massive passion for music. The concept is pretty straightforward: the host, Hrishikesh Hirway, invites musicians on the show and asks them to dissect the process of making one of their songs. Although the podcast is now considered old school due to having premiered in 2014, the episodes never get old, making it a great listen for your commute or the soundtrack to mindless tasks that need to be done.

Shows

Stranger Things: Season 3 – If you aren’t caught up with the previous two series of Stranger Things, then you might want to reserve a weekend or so for binge watching  the previous seventeen episodes and become fluent in the show’s jargon, as it will make understanding the freshly-released seasons so much easier to follow. Now, without dropping too many spoilers, we can only say this: the third season is set a few months after the cast comes to the conclusion that the Upside Down is posing much greater threats to the world than they might have thought. As the Hawkins crew starts venturing into adolescence and young adulthood, relationships blossom and feuds burst out, all the while human world is faced with enemies old and new.

Killing Eve: Season 2 – We have mentioned Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s work in a previous Monday Musings, and we can’t help that we love her work so much. After a seductively addictive first season in 2018, the critically acclaimed BBC One show returned to the screens in April this year with a whole new set of challenges for both MI5 agent Eve Polastri and her designated assassin, Villanelle. Scoring a roaring 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, the second season plays a fascinating twist on the hyper-masculine detective/spy genre and reveals a more profound interpretation of the film noir, the tension between Villanelle and Eve building up as a commentary on the power of modern femininity.