CHRISTMAS 2018: The adverts we are loving this year

Christmas is an exciting time of year for all of us, with many people kicking off the festivities from as early as 1st December. In the world of marketing, Christmas means that we’re set to get a whole haul of heartwarming, funny and winter wonderland-themed adverts across all platforms and we love waiting to see who will come out on top.

To get us in the festive spirit, and of course an excuse to indulge in Christmas adverts, everyone in the O Office has put their heads together and picked out their favourite advert from this year:

 

“My favourite Christmas ad is the BBC film Wonderland about the mum and her son where time stands still; it’s an emotional pull on the heartstrings for any working mum and makes you remember that spending time with your children is more important than anything as time can’t actually stand still and they grow up very fast – give them presence over presents as they say.” – Kari Owers, managing director

 

“My favourite Christmas Ad is the Sainsbury’s one… cute kids singing in the nativity, feel good stuff and they used the song ‘You only get what you give’ by the New Radicals. They even had some social controversy/engagement with people complaining/defending #plugboy from a health and safety point of view! Plugboy is the best bit IMO.” – Robin Owers, creative director

“I love everything about Sainsbury’s Christmas advert this year. Entitled ‘The Big Night’ and directed by The Great Showman’s Michael Gracey, the ad is about a group of children coming together for their school Christmas Show. I think it captures the cast’s emotions perfectly, including the audience, who are in fact some of the cast’s real-life parents. Marvellous ad.” – Sally Crossley, senior account manager

“Sainsbury’s! It’s cheery, fun, has loads of talented cute kids and has caused ridiculous complaints lol (‘plug boy’ the child who is dressed as a plug socket, apparently it’ll cause children to play with sockets)  ha!” – Rebecca Connolly, senior account executive 

“The Sainsbury’s advert reminds me of Love Actually – a film I watch every Christmas without fail. It’s a heart-warming children’s performance of the classic nineties song, ‘You Get What You Give’ – directed by The Greatest Showman’s Michael Gracey.” – Tegan Denwood, SEO and social media manager

 

 

“It’s caused so much social media hype this year so it’s a popular one but my favourite so far has been Iceland and its advert on removing palm oil from its products. I love how different it is to what Iceland, and everyone else, pushes out at Christmas and that it’s much more about a cause than selling a product. That being said, I LOVE the John Lewis advert as well – I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Elton John.” – Sammy Sadler, B2B account manager

 

 

“Heathrow Airport has brought back much-loved characters Doris and Edward Bair for a third year to continue their teddy bear tale of travels. 2018’s ad sees them attempt to recreate a quintessential British Christmas on holiday in Florida in warmer climes but on hearing from their loved ones and experiencing FOMO, they decide to pack up for more familiar surroundings. Airports at this time of year can be special places as friends and families reunite for the festive period and the adorable relationship the Bairs share gets me everytime!” – Lauren Hedley, account director

“Bringing back all those nostalgic Christmassy feels this year, Heathrow Airport has fashioned a superb emotive festive ad with the use of the lovable Heathrow bears Doris and Edward Bair!” – Cameron Mudie, PR and content executive

 

 

“M&S never fails to sum up what Christmas means to families during the festive season. Securing ambassador Holly Willoughby to front this year’s campaign was a smart move by the retailer; we know her ‘must haves’ have become sell outs over recent weeks and product placement remains at the heart of the ad. This, coupled with a cameo from David Gandy (need I say more?), should tick a lot of boxes for the stores different customers.

As well as the main advert, M&S has released three 20 second edits, all of them featuring must-have products available to buy from the brand, which can be viewed across TV and social giving even further reach for the retailer”. – Fran Ratliff, head of client services

 

 

“It’s great to see that CSR is at the heart of Co-op’s Christmas advertising campaign which it has scaled back this year in favour of donating £19m to community groups. It sets the company aside from its competitors for all of the right reasons as the supermarkets battle to be heard in the run-up to the festivities.” – Kayleigh Hepburn, senior account manager

 

 

 

 

 

GETTING PERSONAL: WHY MORE BRANDS SHOULD THINK LIKE ICELAND

Words: Sammy Sadler, B2B Account Manager

If you’re a social media user, and over 44million of us in the UK are, you will have found it difficult to ignore the noise surrounding Iceland’s Christmas advert this year. After failing to get advertising clearance from Clearcast due to its link with Greenpeace, the advert has racked up support in the hundreds of thousands from social media users backing the supermarket’s stance on removing palm oil from its products.

Featuring the cute Rang-tan causing mayhem in a little girl’s bedroom, the animated advert sparked emotion and told a story in a different way to what we would usually expect from retailers at this time of year. The frozen food giant even took the campaign one step further and created an offline experience in London, where a part-man, part-robotic ape was abandoned on Coin Street in a bid to further highlight the damage caused by palm oil production.

Following the unveiling of the campaign, the issue of deforestation and the dangers it causes for wildlife has been brought into the spotlight. Alongside sparking conversations and raising awareness of the issue, Iceland has received publicity everywhere. It has encouraged the public to make the advert go viral, the engagement between the brand and consumer has been extensive across social media, petitions have been created and a whole host of media coverage has been secured.

All of the above has been achieved without Iceland even attempting to promote its products. By only briefly mentioning its brand at the end through illustrating that the company would be removing palm oil from its own products, Iceland has created something quite unique in comparison to its older adverts featuring Kerry Katona hosting a Christmas bash.

Taking this bold stance to associate itself with the cause through social media as its primary platform, Iceland can safely say that is has taken the crown for the best Christmas advert this year. Whether the supermarket was aware the advert would be banned or not, it doesn’t take away the fact that by assigning itself to an important cause – Iceland has created more conversations that it could have possibly hoped for.

Brands are recognising that purpose is more important nowadays to the consumer. Everyone is pushing to be heard, especially in the busy world of social media, so it couldn’t be a better time to establish what your brand’s purpose actually is. Iceland has done that in such a heartwarming way that it’s difficult to ignore and not admire. For example, Nike’s purpose, or mission statement as they call it, is “to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”

Now, not everyone will feel comfortable to boldly declare themselves as a supporter of something, especially in regards to political preferences. But it doesn’t have to be aligned with a political issue, it just needs to be something that will appeal to the consumer in some way. And there really is something to be said about having a brand voice that is relatable and interesting.

We discuss brand stories a lot at O. We are brand storytellers at our very core and we care about working with businesses to really share the journey and vision for their brand. But having your own opinion can go beyond that initial brand story. As well as telling your audience about your product, you are showing that you and your people are human and that you stand for something outside of your business. And as the old saying goes, “people buy from people.”

Although some were skeptical that the advert had in fact been a clever PR ploy, managing director Richard Walker penned an open letter over the weekend which was published in the Guardian. In the statement, he said:

“Far from being a cynical PR ploy all along, this was a genuine case of serendipity. I think it proved just how engaged and concerned consumers are with this issue and it raised a global debate around the pros and cons of palm oil and deforestation.”

Whether you agree with the campaign or not, it worked and it’ll be one that I suspect will be talked about in years to come.

So, what is it that your brand stands for?

Work Experience Placement: January 2019 (Duration: 9-12 months)

We are looking for a passionate undergraduate student to support our busy client services team on a sandwich year work experience placement. The chosen candidate will have the opportunity to get involved with a wide variety of activities to support their studies within a creative and award-winning team.

You will get involved in a wide range of activities to support the client services team, including:

  • Monitoring of client media coverage
  • Administrative elements of client accounts – including media and social media coverage charts, blogger and media lists, call log updates etc
  • Keeping abreast of industry news and updates
  • Market research for existing client campaigns
  • Assisting the team with managing events / photo shoots and press trips
  • Supporting the team with editorial outreach
  • Participation in internal team creative meetings and training sessions
  • General office admin support, including answering the phone, handling enquiries, greeting visitors and filing etc

WE ARE LOOKING FOR

  • A keen interest and ambition in all aspects of brand communications as well as a solid understanding of PR, digital and social media
  • A knowledge of industry trends and UK media landscape (print and online)
  • A strong teamwork ethic
  • Confident self-starter with a proactive approach
  • Excellent communications skills (both written and verbal)
  • Good writing skills
  • The desire to learn quickly and the ability to maintain a positive attitude
  • Proactivity and initiative
  • Self-assured, tenacious and supportive
  • Strong multi-tasking and prioritising skills
  • Digitally savvy, with a good knowledge of digital and social media
  • Commitment to a full-time placement
  • This post is for an undergraduate student looking for a structured work placement as part of a related degree qualification – applicants should be studying a BA Hons degree level and have an interest in business and marketing.

WHAT WE WILL OFFER YOU

  • The opportunity to develop your PR and Digital skills in practice under the guidance of some of the best in the industry whilst you study
  • The chance to gain first-hand experience in brand communications
  • Ongoing and structured training and support, including the opportunity to join sessions as part of our in-house training school, The Ocademy
  • The opportunity to work alongside a passionate and supportive team

Interested? Drop us a line on opportunities@opr.co.uk – we can’t wait to hear from you!

CASE STUDY: GETTING CREATIVE WITH THE CAIRN GROUP

The end of 2018 is in sight (eek!), so what better way to reflect on a great year than looking back at some of our work with fantastic clients? As the festive season is just around the corner, the best hospitality venues are on everyone’s minds so we thought we’d share a case study of our work with Cairn Group.

As a growing premium hotel and bar operator across the UK, Cairn Group asked O to help promote its brand to the UK city-breaker, business traveller, event planner and night on the town reveller over three years ago and we’ve been working with the group ever since.

Its portfolio of 33 hotels and more than 30 bars and restaurants across the UK, includes unique independent properties as well as well-known brands from Hotel Indigo to DoubleTree by Hilton.

With extensive experience in both the hospitality and industries, we knew exactly what the Cairn Group needed in order to staple itself as a luxury destination to eat, stay and play.

As well as running a strategic PR calendar to promote the group’s properties and venues, we tap into regional and national events and seasonal content, and work with influential media and bloggers to coordinate reviews to share with their engaged social media community.

Our Digital Content team also creates engaging articles for The Cairn Collection blog to showcase the group’s 11 signature hotels in landmark UK locations. From ‘how to arrange a stand-out conference’ to ‘top UK Christmas cities to visit’ or ‘how to capture the perfect photo at your wedding venue’ we ensure the blog is suitable for the group’s target audience.

We also regularly find exciting and innovative ways to shine a spotlight on new menu launches and the arrival of speciality products, as well as considering seasonal offerings to dazzle visitors.

Throughout 2018 so far, we have generated pieces across both national and regional media coverage with a reach of over 100 million opportunities to see. Since starting our work with Cairn Group, the operator has enjoyed exposure in the likes of The Guardian, The Sun, The Evening Standard, The Scotsman and Chronicle Live.

Commenting on our work with Cairn Group, director Naveen Handa said: “O Communications has played an integral role in the growth of our brands, supporting with creative content, regional and national media coverage, event support and media monitoring in line with the needs of the group.

“We have seen a significant increase in web traffic, sales leads and footfall into each of our venues as a result, which comes down to a positive working relationship with our account managers, who are pro-active and an absolute pleasure to work with!”

O Communications is a creative communications agency based in Newcastle. To see more of our case studies, head over to the work section of our website.

COULD GOING BACK TO THE BASICS IMPROVE OUR FUTURE MARKETING STRATEGIES?

By Sammy Sadler, Marketing Manager

The Festival of Marketing was back again for another year earlier this month with its two-day marketing extravaganza, bringing a whole host of industry leaders and famous faces including Louis Theroux, Gabby Logan and Eamonn Holmes to share their views and knowledge.

Alongside the celebs, some of the most prominent global brands also arrived in London to discuss all things marketing, from AI and data to branding and successful communication strategies.

But it was Richard Ingram, Europe’s global brand director of Asahi, that stole the show for me as he delved into Peroni’s latest strategy of ‘doing more with less.’ Ashai Breweries, which is based in Tokyo, acquired Peroni for almost £2bn in 2016 and has a whole host of other beverages under in its portfolio from popular Japanese brands to Grolsch and Meantime Brewing.

Speaking at the event, Ingram said:

“the only game in town right now is, what does your brand stand for? And how well does the content experience that sits around it, deliver?”

One of the things that the whole team at O are passionate about is brand storytelling. We recently picked out some of our favourite brand storytellers and looked at how their ability to tell a great story has enabled them to become a favourite in their industry. And although the world of marketing shifts constantly, the ability to tell a great brand story behind your product or service will always be an important factor.

But why is it really so important to look at brand storytelling now and why does Peroni’s simple approach appear to be so revolutionary?

Well the very fact that large brands are actually starting to look at their brand more closely is a huge step in audience engagement and trust in itself. We’ve all seen the increased worries about how to use influencer marketing correctly, it’s one of the topics that led me to write about making the most out of your influencer campaigns. It’s also difficult to ignore the speed in which technology is increasing and providing us with so many new opportunities regularly, which is fantastic but can also be exhausting trying to keep up with if you aren’t necessarily submersed in the marketing industry day-in-day-out.

However, by getting what your brand stands for nailed at the offset and crafting your content carefully around those ideologies, you can go a long way in creating that initial framework for a robust marketing campaign.

So, with this all said, is it now necessary to strip it back to basics to get that brand story right and build on from there? Do we need to have some form of ‘personality’ for our brand before we throw tens of thousands at influencer marketing or extensive visual advertising? If it can go a long way in building back that audience trust and interaction that is getting lost at the moment with the scare stories of ‘influencer engagement rates’, then surely it is worth it.

It would be great to see Peroni’s approach prompt other brands to look at what they are currently saying, how they are saying it and how exactly it works in line with their target audience. By doing this, we can create communication campaigns across PR, content marketing, influencer relations, social media and visual advertising more creatively and effectively than ever before.

It’s 2018 and one approach doesn’t fit all anymore. So maybe it’s time we all took a step back and get what our brand stands for right, before we focus on anything else.

O is a creative communications agency based in Newcastle upon Tyne with a passion for telling brand stories. For more information on how to get your brand story out there, drop us a line on letstalk@opr.co.uk

GET CREATIVE: STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD WITH YOUR INFLUENCER MARKETING CAMPAIGN

Stand out from the crowd with your influencer marketing campaign.

We’ve spoken a lot about influencer marketing on the O Blog, whether it’s around how to make the most of your influencer marketing campaign or how influencers can boost brands’ Stories. Having worked with social media influencers over the years, we know how effective they are for brand communications and it hasn’t gone unnoticed by everyone else.

Despite issues of transparency with some influencers/celebrities not using appropriate hashtags such as #ad or #spon, this marketing trend continues to grow in popularity and doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.

Due to the increased number of brands using influencers and the number of individuals growing their following to reach influencer status, it’s now pretty common to get lost in a never-ending sea of content. We’re even seeing some influencers promoting things that they don’t particularly like, which often results in a basic photo of a product without any form of creativity or authenticity,

For the final part of our GET CREATIVE series, we’re looking at how you can ensure your influencer marketing campaigns are creating a buzz and how you can stand out from the crowd.

Host an exclusive event

So this isn’t a new one but hosting an exclusive event for influencers can be a great way to build noise around your brand. We discussed how to integrate social media with your event in a previous blog post to ensure that you are organising something that will make everyone want to attend and of course, share across their social media platforms.

Creating a unique experience for influencers is a great way to allow them to engage with your brand, touch, taste and feel your products or understand your brand story by meeting the founders. It allows them to interpret your brand for their followers and share it by being part of it.

Encourage influencer creativity

One of the best reasons to work with an influencer is that they’ll bring their own style to your brand – but nowadays this can get lost. Choose an influencer with bags of creativity and willing to take your product and create something unique – this will create much more conversation than someone simply posting a product shot.

Choose life(style)

Is the influencer already a fan of your brand, or do they lead the lifestyle that ‘fits’ with your customers? Choosing for number of followers is the most common mistake we see – we believe that you should always take time to choose influencers that are right for your brand, and ideally are already fans so you can nurture them into ambassadors and work together for mutual benefit.

Social media takeovers

A great way to engage an audience with your brand is to ask an influencer to take over your social media platforms entirely. This could be posting a weekly blog, uploading some snaps from their daily life or using Instagram Stories to share a day in their life (or yours) – the opportunities are endless. The influencer will bring their own audience along to follow on the Stories as well – creating more opportunities for your brand to be seen.

O Communications is a creative agency in Newcastle. If you need some help with your next influencer marketing campaign – why not drop us a message on letstalk@opr.co.uk.

STRONG BRAND STORYTELLING: GOING BEYOND THE PRODUCT

You’ve probably all heard the saying that “people buy from people” – when we interact with a brand and ultimately become a customer, we want to know that our business is going to someone who we relate to in some way.

You’ll often notice some brands doing considerably better than others in its industry and usually that’s down to its ability to tell a great story and entice the audience to choose them instead. Brands such as Coca Cola, Facebook and Hard Rock didn’t get so popular by just offering a product/service – they all took that and began to build a narrative. They spoke about the history, about what they could offer the audience and why they are so unique in such a creative way that it was, and still is, difficult to ignore.

With the three mentioned above, we now expect a level of excitement from them and regular new stories. With Coca Cola we eagerly await the Christmas advert, with Facebook we get excited over new updates to improve our experience and we actively seek out Hard Rock Cafes across the world to check out new musician memorabilia.

The history of a brand is very much something that an audience can get on board with, whether your brand is 100 years old or 100 days old. Learning about that journey, your values and your commitment to your product/service should all be communicated in a creative way to capture that audience and make it so much more than about something you are selling. Essentially, you are giving your audience an exclusive look at your brand beyond the product.

Nowadays, we have a whole range of tools at our fingertips to tell our brand story. Whether it’s through a strategic PR plan, a creative social media campaign or behind-the-scenes video series, it couldn’t be easier.

Below we’ve included just some of our favourite brand storytellers – why not check them out for some inspiration?

Dr Martens

English footwear brand Dr Martens has a rich history dating back to the 1900s involving great British shoe-makers, the Griggs family, and the invention of an air cushioned sole from injured German Solider, Dr Klaus Maertens. You can read the full story here into how the boot evolved from its invention and ultimately became a huge cultural symbol of working class pride, especially after the boots were worn on stage by The Who guitarist Pete Townshend in 1966.

Since then, Dr Martens has become one of the biggest footwear brands in the world due to its association with big names who are willing to share the Dr Martens story. For Dr Martens, it’s much more than just a brand. A symbol of rebellion, the company have created an image for the brand that goes beyond just a boot.

 

 

 

Fentimans

Botanical brewery Fentimans has crafted a brand story centred around its British roots, from the design on its website to the names of the drinks. Created in 1905 when Thomas Fentiman obtained a recipe for Fentiman’s popular botanically brewed ginger beer, the brand has been delighting fans of its products for over 100 years.

With a signature logo of Thomas’ pet dog Fearless who won the Crufts obedience title in 1933 and 1934, Fentimans continue to make beverages with a strong brand focus on heritage and founder, as well as the natural products that it uses. 

Barbour

English luxury fashion brand Barbour has amassed a huge audience since its inception in 1984 for its quality clothing, which includes the iconic wax cotton jacket. Behind the products, Barbour is very much a people brand which focusses on its leading position as an outdoor fashion provider alongside more personable content.

With a nod to its British heritage throughout its fashion lines, Barbour is easily recognisable and keeps its audience engaged through hashtags and campaigns such as #BarbourWayOfLife.

Barbour has also harnessed man’s best friend and alongside offering just products for dogs, the website boasts a Barbour Dogs section with ‘interviews’ of dogs wearing the products and there’s even an exclusive loyalty scheme.

Miller Homes

UK housebuilder Miller Homes has been building houses for over 80 years and prides itself on its dedication to working in the community and customer service.

The company has embedded itself into local communities across the UK by partnering with charities, schools and events to share its passion for the area and show that it cares about its surroundings.

The firm has launched initiatives on developments so that residents hold regular get-togethers, an incentive scheme aimed at local employers and introduced wildlife campaigns, educational visits, weekend break competitions and charity bake sales to engage its audience.

Miller Homes’ ability to tell stories of not only its work within the community but the stories of its residents and community spirit on the developments, has easily positioned the housebuilder as both trustworthy and dedicated to its customers.

Flymo

Gardening superbrand Flymo has been popular for years now and is easily one of the most recognisable names for lawncare. Far from a ‘one size fits all’ approach, Flymo has a whole range of products to suit different abilities and needs.

Alongside featuring their products online, one thing that Flymo is incredibly good at is offering out expert advice as well as hints and tips, such as ‘how to make leaf mould’ and ‘how to stripe your lawn’. This isn’t just on its website either, the brand often appears across national and trade titles showcasing its products alongside content pieces on improving your gardening.

Flymo has very much built up a brand story beyond just offering tools to make your garden presentable. The brand is educating, informing and entertaining gardeners at home and it has succeeded in securing itself as a firm favourite.

Being involved in the creative world, O has been committed to brand storytelling from the beginning. We wholeheartedly believe that each brand has a story just waiting to be told and we work with our clients to communicate that to the audience.

If you want to discuss how to create a story and excitement beyond your product or service, drop us an email on letstalk@opr.co.uk

 

 

GET CREATIVE: ADD SOME SOCIAL TO YOUR EVENT

Hosting an event can be very exciting but it can also be pretty daunting if you aren’t sure where to start. The venue and catering bit can be the easy part, but how do you really create something unique? For the next part of our GET CREATIVE series, we’re looking at how you can add some social shareability to your next event, making it the must-attend date of the year.

As we’ve moved into 2018, one important thing we’ve learned is that it couldn’t be more important to create experience-led content for your brand. There is a real hunger amongst audiences now, especially millennials, to be given something unique to experience and share.

From stunts such as ‘Jim’s Yard Party’ from Jim Beam at multiple festivals across the summer to get attendees to interact with the brand through games to Adidas’ launch of its new ‘Cold Blooded’ collection with an instore experience on Oxford Street, London, the stakes really are high.

With all of these events going on across the country, it can be even more of a challenge to convince media to attend your event and with the rise in popularity of bloggers and social media influencers to market brands, their time is increasingly more precious as well.

So how exactly do you a host an event for your brand or your client that’ll really have people desperate to be on that VIP list?

Luckily, you don’t have to have the budgets that Jim Beam and Adidas do. You can create something on a much smaller scale with just as much success.

Here is our guide to ensure that your next brand event is the talk of the town.

Planning

Before you start booking those venues or ordering that really awesome audio system, you need to have a full understanding of the objective of your event. Is it for brand awareness or to highlight a specific area of your business? Are you looking to raise money for a cause? Identify this early on and ensure that everyone is on the same page. For us, size isn’t always important – often an intimate event with just a handful of the right people (armed with their iphone and Instagram feed) is enough to get the word out in the right way.

The Content

Start to plan out what interactive elements you want for your event. You could have live competitions and games to win prizes, workshops such as jewellery making or an exclusive cocktail tasting experience. Live music is also a great addition and you could even ask attendees to contribute to a DJ playlist before the evening.

If you’re struggling to think of ideas, have a look at what other people are doing or ask your target attendees what they’d want. A simple survey could narrow down some key ideas so that you’re delivering exactly what will make those people want to come in the first place.

Goodie bags are an absolute must and it’s always a lovely idea to gift attendees with something unique that they can take home. It’s also a great way for them to remember the brand and the event, as well as providing a great tool for social sharing.

Go a little different with your décor and get creating something that’s ‘instagrammable’. Step and repeat boards, on-trend flower walls, pop-up vendors, branded areas and photobooths are all popular at the moment and can drive further conversations.

Above all it has to be authentic, visual and something you’d love to experience yourself. Whistles and bells mean nothing if everyone else has done the same – dare to be different.

After your event

So, you’ve hosted a brilliant event that’s created buzz on social but it doesn’t have to end there. Don’t be afraid to follow-up with your attendees to ask for their feedback and keep the momentum going on social media as long as possible.

If you’ve had a photographer there, make sure you share those photos with lifestyle publications so that those who couldn’t attend, will want to be at the next one.

At O we know how important it is to get your audience involved. So, whether you are launching a new product, opening a new venue/store or simply want to shout about your brand through an event, we can help!

From building a buzz in the run-up to the event through strategic PR and creative social media content, to media and blogger liaising and ensuring your guests have a great time, we can work with your team to put on an event to remember. Get in touch with us on letstalk@opr.co.uk

MODERN PR AND SEO – A MATCH MADE IN DIGITAL HEAVEN

PR and SEO used to be worlds apart, with traditional PR focussing on offline strategy for a long time and SEO covering online website activity, but in recent years, demand for digital PR has risen dramatically and as a result, the two disciplines now work harmoniously.

Google’s priority at the moment is its users and brands are putting a lot of energy into ensuring their websites are safe, user-friendly and understood by search engines. Once your website is performing well from a technical point of view and optimised for people, then the fun starts.

Content Is Still King

Creating content as part of your marketing strategy is really important, although what’s fundamental is that the content is genuinely interesting, useful and answers questions that people are searching for. This is true for both PR and SEO content.

Before creating any content though, wider business goals need to be communicated and understood, then a detailed strategy can be designed to impact on those goals, allowing PR and SEO to work simultaneously. For example, seasonality and themes can be used to build a content plan and PR and SEO activity can be integrated into the plan to support one another, maximising the outcome of each campaign.

In both disciplines, quality content is paramount. For PR, it’s about satisfying the journalist and offering something that stands out and adds value. For SEO, it’s about satisfying the user and ensuring content is optimised for real people.

Link Earning

We like to use the term ‘link earning’ in place of ‘link building’ – it makes more sense when it comes to great content that deserves recognition. The higher the quality of content, whether that is because of its uniqueness or the detail and research behind it, the more links it’s likely to earn. It’s worth noting that content doesn’t have to be in written form – it could be a video, image, or an infographic for example – these are your digital assets.

Of course, links don’t just roll in overnight – there’s some hard work involved in getting content seen by the right people, and this is where PR comes in. Building meaningful relationships with people who work at credible, authoritative publications is key – and supporting them with strong content when they need it will help to create a lasting relationship. PR professionals know a thing or two about getting businesses featured on high quality sites and SEO professionals know that individual outreach is key. Building a targeted list of potential prospects, rather than offering content to anyone, and taking more control over the link equity passed to your website makes link earning much more effective.

Google has moved away from ranking websites based on the volume of links they have. Instead, they are championing quality, user intent and user experience. That’s not to say that links are no longer powerful – in fact, they are still very valuable, and PR activity can work as a catalyst for earning links.

Brand Authority

Brand authority is becoming increasingly important as Google hones in on the actions and opinions of users, and features such as reviews are more visible and important for brands online. Google review partners such as TrustPilot make it easy for customers to share their experiences and gives companies the chance to listen. If you are confident in your product or service, implementing a review system could give your website a boost in online visibility, as well as persuade potential customers to buy from you. Reviews will have to be monitored closely of course, as part of a brand’s reputation management – once a core element of PR, and now seemingly blurred between PR and SEO.

Authority can also be achieved by generating coverage and links from relevant, reputable sources which allows you to position your business as an expert and helps you to gain credibility for your brand.

Ultimately, your PR and SEO activity can and should be working in tandem, and be completely aligned with your wider goals, to give your business the best possible results and to build a brand that lasts.

O Communications is an integrated creative agency in Newcastle. Need some help with your combined PR & SEO strategy but not sure where to start? Drop us an email on letstalk@opr.co.uk 

The travel and tourism companies that are nailing it on social media

Travel photography is arguably one of the most attractive types of photography out there. Whether it’s a luxurious beach on the billboard in the middle of October urging you to book that winter break or a canvas of New York’s skyline in your home décor store – for many people it doesn’t get much better than seeing and visiting stunning places across the world.

And of course, it is images and stories that make us want to visit those destination in the first place. In 2017 alone, 39.2 million overseas visitors came to the UK and spent £24.5 billion and although this figure keeps increasing, with the uncertainty of Brexit on the horizon it couldn’t be more important for the tourism industry to take action now to engage tourists.

With an array of creative assets to wow across advertising campaigns, it’s no wonder that the travel and tourism industry are really nailing it when it comes to their social media platforms.

Whether you’re looking for images, tips, videos and podcasts, reviews or stories, social media can be THE place to find them and this has only strengthened with the rise of the travel influencer.

So if you’re a fan of travel and tourism, who should you be following for that spark of inspiration? Here’s our pick of 5 companies that have got their social media right, from the content they feature to the tone of voice to suit their audience.

  1. Booking.com

One of the most popular sites for planning a trip away, Booking.com excel at social media as well as their holiday packages. With millions of followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the travel website shares gorgeous images to entice you to visit a new destination.

social media - Booking.com

They are also quite good at responding to queries that are left on their posts, even negative ones, and the addition of their Facebook booking chatbot means you can search for your next holiday without leaving the platform.

2.National Trust

Conservation organisation National Trust is the largest membership organisation in the UK and has a whole range of beautiful sites across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

social media - national trust

Across social media they share stunning images submitted from visitors, hints and tips in the form of podcasts and useful information on upcoming events across all of their sites. Often accompanied by witty remarks, their posts usually receive high engagement figures and their weekly #NTChallenge on Instagram is a firm favourite with top followers. For those looking to engage their audience a bit more, they are a great company to keep an eye on.

3. Parkdean Resorts

Packed with competitions and discount offers, holiday park operator Parkdean Resorts are great to follow on Facebook and Twitter if you’re looking for that next family getaway.

social media - parkdean resorts

Combining images and video content across their posts, Parkdean Resorts ensure that their content is interesting and always relevant to their target audience.

Their video content is fantastic, from walkthrough videos of accommodation to exciting promotional videos featuring their range of activities and facilities at the parks.

4. Airbnb

One look at Airbnb’s social media profiles and you’ll be desperate to get on holiday. The platform has the highest combined followers out of the five we have featured on this list, mostly due to rise in popularity of the ‘home away from home’ holiday and the desire to stay in an instagrammable property.

As well as featuring snaps of their most luxurious properties across the world, the online marketplace also shares stories from users, tips for destinations and new experience opportunities available on the platform.

Airbnb are also extremely good at offering quirky and unique prizes to their audience and they recently used a sponsored video on Facebook to promote a competition to win a #NightAt the Great Wall of China. Naturally, the post racked up plenty of interest for those desperate to bag the chance.

social media - Airbnb

5. Visit Kielder

Kielder Water & Forest Park is a popular visitor destination in Northumberland and their social media channels are jam-packed with ideas for days out and updates on what is happening at the park.

social media - Kielder

For fans of animals, the area is home to a wide variety of wildlife including inquisitive red squirrels, otters and foxes, and photos are often shared from those lucky enough to spot them! Make sure you use #wildatkielder to share your finds at the park and get involved in the conversation.

Feeling inspired to improve your social media channels but not sure where to start? As a creative agency, we have plenty of experience in social media management, so why not drop us an email on letstalk@opr.co.uk and we’ll see if we can help!