GLEE AND GRAND DESIGNS LIVE – GARDEN AND HOME TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2018

We have been on the road at GLEE, the UK’s most popular and best-attended garden and outdoor living trade show for the retail industry, and Grand Designs Live where we discovered the latest innovations, unearthed some of next year’s biggest gardening and home trends previewed exciting unseen products.

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So what will be seeing on the homes and garden landscape in 2018?

Light it up

Buzzword of the day: solar lighting and more of it. Getting the garden wired is expensive and time-consuming, so expect more and more of the market opting for solar energy power to light up their gardens. Perfect for the environmentally-conscious among us, it’s cheap, safe and radiates a low, relaxing level of lighting. The Solar Centre one of the UK’s leading eco brands was exhibiting at GLEE, displaying a huge host of innovative products including lantern, fairy lights and solar spot lights for your everyday garden through to a DIY enchanted wedding setting.

Embrace ‘gluggavedur’

Our obsession with the Danish concept ‘hygge’ is dying down, and there’s a new trend for us to embrace in 2018.

Perfect for the British weather, Icelandic concept ‘gluggavedur’ means ‘window-weather’ and denotes the sort of weather that’s best enjoyed from inside, behind a window. Echoing the premise of the well-loved concept ‘hygge’, this new trend encourages Brits to enjoy simple home comforts, inspiring us to curl up by the fire with a mug of hot chocolate and watch the rainy scene outside.

Industrial Chic

The industrial trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Bricks in the home and cement textures on floors and walls are moving out of the kitchen into every room in the house with companies like Relentless Interiors offering concrete finishes for walls, floors & furniture.

Tech-sture

Colour palettes that draw from innovations in tech are already making waves in Silicon Valley and Austin – think pixelated oranges, digital blues and greens, and high-definition yellow. These palettes are modern and playful and are great for punctuate any room. Tech geniuses are all about the future, so it’s no wonder their style is so on trend.

Convenience gardening

The UK is becoming a nation of tech savvy consumers with millions of homes now using robotic mowers to take on the garden. The Flymo 1200 R robotic mower and McCulloch ROB R600 and R1000 mowers operate in a similar way to robotic vacuum cleaners, making their way around the garden 24 hours a day, trimming the tips of the grass to let micro clippings form mulch to feed the lawn. Without human intervention, they return to their docking station to charge, then off they go again around the garden working within their boundary wires for a consistently perfect lawn. Robotic mowers are quiet, theft-proof and emit no fumes but the most popular feature is of course that you never have to mow the lawn again.

And finally…

Indoors and out, it’s all about ‘Instagrammable’

Making your garden Instagram worthy was on the tip of most people’s tongues at GLEE. The unicorn trend is hugely popular in the beauty and fashion world and this colourful trend is crossing over into the garden with playful accessories and planting. It was all about flamingos at Grand Designs Live with everything from plant pots to soft furnishings rocking these colourful birds. The demand for all that glitters, shimmers and glows doesn’t look like it is going to slow down in 2018 – look out for colours including mango, fuchsia pink and purple sprinkled with sparkling magic dust. If it looks good enough to eat, it goes.

Brands like Firemizer, an eco-friendly fuel saving gadget, even offers to make your log burner more Instagram friendly by spreading the flames evenly and creating a picture perfect fire every time.

It seems that even the most dedicated DIY-ers are looking for simple solutions to get the best results with a short cut. Experiences are more important than the purchase – it must look good (for the ultimate social media feed), feel good (to spend time in and enjoy) or do good (limit effects on the environment around us).

We’ll be watching out for how these trends develop in 2018.

O represents a wide range of homes and gardens clients across PR, blogger relations, social media and digital content – to find out more contact us at letstalk@opr.co.uk

SOCIAL MEDIA RECORDS SMASHED AT BRITISH MASTERS

The O team was excited to be the regional agency behind one of this year’s biggest sporting events in the region as the British Masters arrived at Close House in September.

British golfing stars to join Lee Westwood at this year's British Masters

The event achieved over 22m social media impressions – the highest ever for the British Masters – with almost 70,000 spectators attending the tournament and £472,552 raised for the official charity Graham Wylie Foundation.

Our social media team were there throughout the event to capture the excitement running campaigns across Instagram and Facebook whilst our media team worked with the European Tour to ensure a consistent stream of breaking player announcements, local partnerships and PR stunt activity kept our regional media abreast with event news. Working with the regional press, O secured their support throughout the North East and Northumberland and as a result, media coverage was widespread in all key publications, online and broadcast.

A number of successful campaigns saw British Masters’ takeovers on Metro Radio, adverts placed on Classic FM and Smooth Radio, and full page print promotions appear in the likes of The Journal, The Chronicle, Sunday Sun and further afield in a variety of Cumbria-based titles.

The noise around the event created over 8 million page views on EuropeanTour.com and three times the Sky Sports Golf viewers for the Presidents Cup Sunday coverage.

To watch all the behind the scenes action from our OSoSocial team click here

10 Social Media Statistics You Need To Know Before 2018

Social media is perpetually living in the fast lane. New statistics are brought out frequently regarding usage across the world. This is partly due to business reasons (publicly traded companies need to divulge this info to the stock market for example). It can also be released so that agencies and brands can then make important informed decisions regarding their own marketing efforts.

 

With this in mind here are the most important stats you will need to know before the New Year from across the social media industry.

  1. Facebook currently has over 2bn users worldwide as of June 2017. (Source: Facebook). This represents a 17% rise year on year. Basically this means Facebook is too big to ignore. 5 new profiles are created somewhere in the world every second!
  1. 96% of users who discuss brands on social media do not follow those brands’ pages (source: Brandwatch). As a result brands need to go beyond their own channels to gain insight into brand loyalty and perception. It also means there are lots of conversations happening about your brand already, you just have to go and find them…
  1. Video is still King! As well a hugely engaged with digital content type, social video content just keeps on growing. On Facebook over 8bn video views occur every day (source: TechCrunch). It is even more on Snapchat where 10bn video views happen (source: Bloomberg).
  1. 85% of all Instagram users in the UK are younger than 45 yrs old. (Source: NapoleonCat). With 17m users in total in the UK, 56% are female. If that encompasses your audience, its time to up your ‘gram game.
  1. More than 60m businesses currently have a Facebook page (Source: SproutSocial). That means, clever and relevant content is more important than ever if you want to make real connections on Facebook. It also explains why an ‘always on’ Facebook advertising strategy is worth investing in to keep your brand front of mind.

     

  1. Everyone on Facebook is no more than 3.5 Degrees of Separation apart on average (source: Facebook). Understanding this is key to brands wanting to increase their organic reach. Creating content worth sharing is therefore important as if friends and family share the content it can go viral.
  1. More than 20k photos are shared on Snapchat every second (source: OmnicoreAgency). It would also take you 10 years to view all of the photos that have been published on the platform within the previous hour. The audience may not be as big as Facebook but they are very active!
  1. 87% of Pinterest users have purchased a product after browsing on the platform (source: Omnicore Agency). This is a staggering statistic, if you’re an ecommerce business then Pinterest could do a lot of the hard work for you.
  1. There are over 10m active jobs on LinkedIn currently (source: LinkedIn). Even though Facebook are making moves to challenge the job marketing sector, right now, if you are looking to hire someone over social there is only one place to be.
  1. Snapchat is the number 1 network for teenagers (source: Piper Jaffray). However, it is worth noting that Instagram comes in second followed by Facebook.

 

The constantly shifting landscape of social media means these numbers are likely to change as 2018 progresses.

We’re excited to see how rumoured new products and companies attempt to enter the market in the coming months. To stay up to date, sign up to our weekly O So Social newsletter.

TOP SOCIAL TRENDS THAT WILL TRAVEL INTO 2018

As the summer season draws to a close, we return to work and the nights draw in – thoughts of 2018 holidays start to enter our minds.

Our Instagram feeds begin to change from snaps of sandy beaches to pumpkin spice Starbucks lattes and colourful autumn leaves.

But 2018 holiday planning starts early so the time for inspiration starts now.

Our social media team look back at the big travel trends that took off in 2017 that will keep cruising well into next year…

Photo of a young woman with a backpack, wandering around in nature and relaxing

LOCAVVELLERS – wanting to be part of the local area is a growing trend, especially among millennial travellers who increasingly want life-enhancing experiences on holiday over a beach and book. From staying in locals’ own homes (see 3. IRL holidays) to doing volunteer work, or meeting local artisans and tucking in at backstreet eateries on the locals know about. Discovery is the biggest souvenir for this audience.

Happy backpacker traveller stay in high quality hotel

LUXE-PACKING – more and more Instagram feeds are filling up with business class flights to a backpacking tour, or budget airline travel to a luxurious 7 star-resort. The days of luxury and budget being for two separate types of traveller have gone and people are displaying split-personality holiday choices.

Young woman using smart phone on vacations, travel concept

DIGITAL RETOX – despite the evidence showing a digital detox is good for you, it seems the annual vacation is not the time people are ditching their iPhones – quite the opposite. Gone are the days when people said “I’m not taking my phone on holiday OR ‘I won’t be posting any pictures to my Facebook until I return from holiday” – people are now choosing to document each day, if not hour, on their Stories.

To receive our full eBook of the top 10 travel trends heading into 2018, please email letstalk@opr.co.uk with the subject TRAVEL EBOOK.

O PR ACCOUNT MANAGER TAKING A HIKE

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In December 2016 I found myself with two weeks of free time between leaving my former role and becoming part of the O PR family. During this time I was lucky enough to volunteer with the incredible fundraising team at Marie Curie Hospice in Newcastle upon Tyne where I found their team working hard to promote a charity trek to Costa Rica in January 2018. Coming from a travel marketing background I was tasked with helping the Marie Curie team to promote the event in the North East, encouraging everyone from intrepid explorers to coach potatoes to climb seven volcanoes in seven days to help raise funds to provide a better life for people and their families living with a terminal illness. Easy right?

Coming from the North East, knowing family and friends who have been affected by cancer, I have always been aware that the hospice was an incredible organisation but I had not fully appreciated the passion, time and love that goes into making the hospice a place of peace, and a celebration of life. After two days surrounded by the boundless enthusiasm of the fundraising team and hearing stories of how Marie Curie nurses truly touch people’s lives when they are needed most, I had to get involved.

So, from the 20 – 28 January 2018 I will be hiking the volcanoes of Costa Rica to help them continue their invaluable work. This challenge will be physically tough but completely worth it to contribute a small about towards their aim to provide a better life for people and their families living with a terminal illness.

Last year their dedicated doctors and nurses cared for more than 600 patients at a cost of £4.6 MILLION. That’s incredible. It costs over £6000 to keep the hospice running for just one day and my aim is to raise just half that by the 3rd November 2017.

From car boot sales, baking and beauty days through to a frankly hilarious tea party for dogs, my brilliantly supportive family, friends and colleagues have smiled and nodded politely as I spouted endless nonsense at them over the past year, before digging deep and helping me every step of the way.

Everyone knows the people of the North East have the biggest hearts and so far they helped to raise over £1,500 which is enough to pay for a portable oxygen system that will relieve distressing symptoms wherever the patient happens to be, so they aren’t confined to bed.

A donation of just £20 will pay for a Marie Curie nurse to care for someone with a terminal illness for an hour. £130 pays for someone with a terminal illness to attend the day therapy unit at the hospice and £400 pays for someone to stay in a Marie Curie Hospice for 24 hours, so that they can receive the hands-on care they need in their final days.

All the money raised through fundraising over the next year will go directly to the hospice – travel, accommodation etc will be covered at my expense. Though if you have any spare mosquito repellent, I won’t say no…

It’s really easy to get involved and pledge your support, simply text LARI58 £5 to 70070 or visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/regan-ingram

Lava you, Lauren Regan-Ingram

Account Manager

The Future Of Co-Branding on Instagram

Up until recently, the way influencers and celebrities revealed their content on Instagram had been sponsored by a brand was by using the hashtags #ad or #sponsored within the post copy.

More often than not, the sponsored hashtags were buried within other hashtags at the bottom of the post.

This could be seen as an attempt to mislead followers into thinking the post is an organic and authentic post from the influencer which is something the Advertising Standard Authority discourage.

Aside from the legal implications of misleading followers, the content strategy from both the influencer’s point of view and Instagram as a channel, needs to remain authentic. We’ve all scrolled through Instagram and spotted a co-branded post which feels totally alien to the influencer’s personal brand. It can lead to disengagement with the influencer and the platform itself if every other post appears to be a covert advertisement.

Co-branded activity isn’t new and is something consumers are used to in all other forms of advertising (print, TV etc.) so it was only a matter of time before Instagram took on a more sophisticated way of harnessing co-branded content.

In comparison, Facebook’s existing ability to tag in brands into posts has meant when influencers and celebrities co-create content they are able to be more transparent with their partnerships:

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Now, Instagram is bringing this simple element to its platform by allowing influencers to tag in sponsored brands in their posts.

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This tagging feature is now being rolled out on Instagram after testing with select partners since June.

Although this is seemingly just a small tweak, it will no doubt diminish any transparency issues encouraging more collaborations and engaging co-branded content.

 

 

GCSE Results Day 2017: The Advice We Would Give Our Former Selves

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It’s that time again!

GCSE day is upon us and here in the O office we’ve been reminiscing about those nervous butterflies we felt before marching up to school to open that big envelope.

We’re all unanimous in that no matter what results we got, we’re pretty happy with how life is turning out but it’s very easy to feel like that on reflection.

We asked the O team from the MD to our Social Media Manager what advice they would give their former selves if they could go back to that fateful day…

Holly Peacock-Goodwin, Digital Content Director at O PR

Even when you did better than expected, there are still lessons to learn…

“Woah! If you can pass maths with a good grade there clearly isn’t a challenge you can’t handle – but look at your best grades, it’s clear you excel at the things you’re interested in and you have never felt like crying in those lessons. This is your first career lesson. Choose projects and jobs that spark something in you/don’t make you cry and you’ll always do well”.

Ben Howson, Social Media Manager at O PR

Before receiving your results…

“There’s no need to worry if you don’t get the results you want. Richard Branson didn’t get any GCSEs and he still did pretty well. GCSEs are simply a stepping stone to the next stage and don’t define you!”

Alex Maybury, Senior Account Manager at O PR

On staying calm…

“As you pull your results out of the envelope don’t panic if you spot an F by gender, that’s not an actual grade! Take a deep breath and read your results properly before jumping the gun.”

Rebecca Connolly, PR and Social Account Executive at O PR

On revision time…

“Start revising a week before you think you should… cramming in revision last minute is stressful and not fun AT all, and giving yourself a little extra time will pay off. There’s nothing worse than panicking as you queue up wishing you’d spent those extra few days!

And when you’re waiting to go into the exam hall, don’t compare notes with your friends because inevitably you’ll always think they know more than you.”

Laura Ivory PR Account Executive at O PR

On giving yourself a break…

“Don’t stress and panic so much during you exams. When you open the envelope you’ll see you had nothing to worry about and you’d wish you’d relaxed a bit more. Plus, note to self, the stress you feel now has got nothing on your A-Levels and a University degree J … good luck!”

Sally Crossley, PR Account Manager at O PR

On thinking things through…

“Don’t worry, sit down and look at all the options available to you and choose what feels right! There are so many fantastic opportunities for you to progress to the next stage in your life.”

Kayleigh Hepburn, PR Account Manager at O PR

On the first experience of pressure…

“I remember results day being one of the first times I’d really felt pressure as a youngster, and that can be hard to deal with without experience of having conquered the feeling before. So looking back, I’d tell myself to simply relax and trust that the hard work you put in was already more than good enough, no matter the outcome.”

Kari Owers, Managing Director and Owner of O PR

On enjoying today…

“Enjoy today with your friends and families, you have worked hard and whatever the results you should take today to relax and feel proud you have got to this point.

If they aren’t the results you hope for, remember you have your whole life ahead of you with many more opportunities to keep learning and improving yourself. I’m still learning new things today – I wish I’d known that at sixteen!”

And another top tip…

“Get some work experience as early as possible, as an employer this is the thing I look for on CVs as well as your education – from skills learned by volunteering at clubs to a day or week spent at a workplace, a part-time job or work for a charity. It will really help you put your education and skills into context and drive you forward to the right education or career path for you.”

 

Good luck to everyone picking up their GCSE results today!

What Solar Eclipse? How Taylor Swift Won At Social Media Without Posting Anything

Forget the solar eclipse, the buzz on our social feeds has been all about Taylor Swift. But it’s not about her latest #selfie or shocking celebrity clap-back that’s made headlines.

Instead of posting a piece of new content the singer’s social presence completely wiped itself clean seemingly overnight. On August 18th (which conveniently coincided with a solar eclipse in the USA 2 days later) all of the existing messages, tweets, posts, etc from every social channel owned by the singer were wiped from existence. Even her website was replaced by a “Blank Space”.

Taylor Swift fans immediately went into meltdown trying to decipher what the meaning was. Some fans commented wondering whether it was in response to her recent court case and wanting to “Shake it Off”. More likely, it is an upcoming album launch.

Since then the first posts on the singer’s social channels after the blackout have now gone live and feature ominous teaser snake videos.

A post shared by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

Whilst not everyone here at O is a big-time a Swiftie fan it certainly got us thinking about how you would even go about deleting everything from your social platforms. This isn’t like when Ed Sheeran or Kanye West decided to delete their channels, as the accounts are still very much intact. Taylor Swift had close to 1k tweets on her Twitter channel before the social blackout. That would take a while to wash away especially without someone from her audience noticing what was happening.

Of course, it is highly plausible that members of Taylor’s team were hired to delete or archive the posts en masse however that would be a huge undertaking. If we extrapolate that it takes about 3 seconds give to delete one tweet that would be an equivalent of 50 minutes of solid deleting just on Twitter.

There are apps available that enable you users to delete activity in bulk. It is therefore quite possible that this would have been the easier way to manage this mass clear out quickly and quietly. Apps like Clear or Xpire are designed to search through your previous social activity and delete posts that may be embarrassing. This could then be extended to delete all tweets and photos so it wouldn’t be too much a stretch to see this happen.

The true nature of Taylor Swift’s sudden change will probably become apparent as more of this story develops and, while the genius of the PR buzz this has generated is undoubted, it does raise a few interesting points. So much of our lives exist on social media for the world to see, it may be worthwhile every so often to curate our own online personas. We are very careful to see how we look in real life so why would we not be as careful online? Companies now look at social profiles when hiring so maybe more of us could do with wiping our more embarrassing posts out of existence. Some of today’s politicians could definitely do with taking more care over what they have say in online.

Of course Taylor Swift could have just been hacked…it does seem unlikely though.

THE RISE OF THE HYPERLOCAL INFLUENCER IN MARKETING

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Micro-influencers are the latest buzzword in marketing, and their rise is all down to the higher levels of engagement they get from their followers.

We recently surveyed our UK network of hyperlocal influencers, those living in towns and cities across the UK, and found they tend to stay loyal to their local patch but also are keen to work with big brands and can be better value for money for marketers.

The survey discovered 63% of influencers said they loved working with local brands and companies, yet 100% stated they felt bigger brands should be working with regional bloggers more.

Showcasing their local influence for multi-site operators, UK regional bloggers are generally only prepared to travel between five to 10 miles of their home to eat out (46%), with 40% travelling less than five miles to go to the gym.

However when it comes to holidays, the opportunity to attract local bloggers to experience the best the UK has to offer is clear, as most UK regional bloggers are currently travelling abroad. Survey recipients said they normally travel more than four hours by aeroplane on holiday over shorter flights or driving.

So what are you waiting for? Here’s our five top tips to finding and working with hyperlocal influencers in your PR or marketing campaign.

5 top tips to working with hyperlocal influencers

  1. Know exactly what you are looking for

Micro-influencers can be harder to find, so you need a clear idea of the location, lifestyle and general outlook of the influencer you want to represent your brand.

When we came to launching DM’s LITE for Dr. Martens, we looked for hyperlocal influencers with the right ‘attitude’ and people who had a visual aesthetic on and we ended up working with DJs, stylists, BMXers and musicians to generate something unique in terms of content.

  1. Read the comments

The quickest way to check out an influencer’s engagement other than their blog traffic is to read their comments – look out for how they interact and respond to their followers, they should be swift and personal in their replies. Post likes are also a good indicator they have a highly engaged audience.

  1. Set them a challenge

The best influencers have a unique take on life, and on Instagram will have a clear aesthetic and prowess for photography. Don’t dictate how they should post your product or service, give them some freedom to put their own stamp on it to create some really unique and authentic content.

You are choosing an influencer for their personality, and their followers want to see that shine through. By all means give them your handle and hashtag, but don’t write their captions – just make sure they disclaim if it is a sponsored post, but let them do the rest.

  1. Make it personal

Of course you have a brand to promote, but how can you make it more authentic to your influencer? By grouping it with other products or experiences you know they enjoy, personalising it with their initials or making it relevant to something they have posted about recently – as a personal touch always goes a long way.

  1. Small doesn’t always mean free

Although we’d always advocate that good content creators are paid for their involvement, many hyperlocal influencers are prepared to work with a brand in return for gifting or experiences. However when they do charge, they are often less expensive so overall will be providing much better bang for your buck – when coupled with their engagement rates it’s a no brainer for a marketing campaign.

INNOVATION FESTIVAL ANSWERS THE BIG QUESTIONS

We were delighted to work with Northumbrian Water Group on its first ever Innovation Festival last week, which saw some of the world’s leading brains come together to tackle major social and environmental challenges.

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Our crew headed to Newcastle Racecourse event, to look after the visiting national media and bloggers, as well as support the #NWGInnovationFestival team across social media with live feeds and regular festival updates.

Working with our partners Get Film and presenter Kim Inglis, IF TV brought the festival to life online, with Facebook live during the day and a nightly show online at 7pm rounding off each day’s progress.

IFTV daily online shows reported on everything from morning yoga in the Wellness Tent, to following the daily ‘sprints’ where businesses, universities, schools and members of the public looked at a range of issues, including flooding, the environment and social inclusion.

The big questions under consideration during the week were:

  • ‘Rain, Hail or Shine’: How can we reduce flooding? Led by headline sponsor IBM
  • ‘Keep It Flowing’: What do we know about leakage from water pipes and how can we fix it? Led by NWG
  • ‘Preparing for the Future’: How do we upgrade our infrastructure for the 21st Century effectively and affordably? Led by headline sponsor Reece Innovation
  • ‘Tomorrow’s World’: What will living and working look like in 2030? Led by headline sponsor CGI
  • ‘How Green is Your City?’: What can businesses do to improve the environment in the North East? Led by headline sponsor Ordnance Survey
  • ‘21st Century Reach’: How can we optimise a mobile workforce for a complex network business? Led by headline sponsor BT

North East young people were involved too – as future leaders and customers they attended all sprints and launched a national competition to design a teenagers bedroom of the future https://www.futureroom.today/

To find out more about what took place at the NWG Innovation Festival go to www.innovationfestival.org for all the updates from the week.