Adding innovation, subtracting complexity

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Adding innovation, subtracting complexity

All seem to agree with one essential idea: to compete in this new uncertain, changing and tumultuous world scenario, new technologies are becoming essential.

The developments that started in early 2020 with the Covid pandemic showed us the irrefutable truth: those companies that had already started to use remote working models, that had initiated the migration of workloads to the cloud and that had digitized and automated their processes -with the consequent ability to keep things running even if there were no employees in the physical facilities of the organization- were the ones that adapted the fastest and made the best progress towards business continuity.

It sounds easier than it is: many companies, particularly SMEs, feel stifled when it comes to starting an innovation or digital transformation process. Resources are always scarce, and these days they are being stretched to the limit. Is it possible to move forward with an innovation project without overburdening them or spending a large part of the total budget on acquiring and maintaining technological structures?

The answer is yes. Concepts such as cloud and mobility have democratized access to new technologies. Today there is no need to buy expensive hardware that easily becomes obsolete or software licenses that are impossible to acquire. You buy exactly what you need, at prices that can be adjusted to any budget, with a battery of experts behind you who take care of updates, information security and even automatic management to ensure maximum performance at all times. In the same way, the presence of a technology partner in the project frees the company to take care of all those things that are not part of its core business.

But that is not the most important thing: the key is to change the mindset and understand that “innovation” is not necessarily synonymous with “total disruption”, “absolute change of the entire organization” or “big bang of our company”. Innovation can consist of taking a small step: automating a small but highly inefficient process, for example. The virtuous circle will be activated immediately: that same implementation – which may be solved through a very simple app, there are so many free tools out there to help with maximising budgets and human capital. With that gain, the second step is within reach.

Innovation is nothing more than improving something, doing it in a different way from the way it has always been done (even if in that traditional scheme it would have fulfilled its objectives). If a digital transformation project increases complexity or increases the pressure on the organization’s resources, it is probably time to stop the game and rethink it from the beginning. Simplicity is the key to success.

By Justi Vila, FJ Communications

Communications Counsel for U.S. Businesses as The War in Ukraine Continues

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Communications Counsel for U.S. Businesses as The War in Ukraine Continues

It is our duty as communications experts to keep a close eye on world events and how they might influence the way our clients engage with all their audiences, from media to employees and everyone in between. This responsibility becomes particularly essential in times of uncertainty – in the hours and days after 9/11, the pandemic, and now, the unfathomable war in Ukraine.

In the United States—and likely in other countries—we’re seeing reporters pivot to directly cover the war or are covering aspects of the war that touch their typical beats, from technology and energy to healthcare. V2 Communications has been publishing daily round ups of coverage and reporter preferences so our team stays informed on the U.S. media landscape and can customize communications against this backdrop. Our recent guidance includes:

Tread extremely carefully on any activity related to the war – Using the war as a hook for a story idea is dismissive of the severity of the situation and inappropriate. However, there can be outlier circumstances when it is appropriate. When a company or spokesperson has a truly relevant perspective or product/service that meets a pressing need, there may be a home for that story. For example, V2 placed a story for our client Nova Credit that offered a very relevant perspective and service related to the war in the Financial Times.

Pitch with heightened awareness of the current world landscape – Pitching reporters does not have to slow down, however, it’s never been more important to get smart on reporters’ recent stories and areas of interest. Twitter is a good place to start to understand a reporter’s coverage areas. PR people shouldn’t be shy in asking reporters directly what they need in terms of news, expert resources, and story support. But even armed with this insight, PR teams must be sensitive when pitching thought leadership, news, and customer campaigns to make sure it isn’t out of touch for the outlet or specific media contact.

Prepare spokespeople for questions in media interviews – It is always possible for a reporter to ask a spokesperson about Ukraine, such as, if their company has operations or people in the country, if they’re pulling out of doing work in Russia, etc.—no matter the reason for the interview. PR people should prepare all spokespeople to be able to answer this line of questioning and spokespeople should be armed with approved FAQs.

Continue cautiously on social media – Most brands are continuing both organic and paid social. That said, posts should ‘read the room’ – not being overly playful, using emojis cautiously, avoiding paid targeting in those regions, etc. Social teams should make note of any pre-scheduled posts should they need to be taken down at a moment’s notice if the situation intensifies and guidance changes, including any activity planned for after business hours or overnight in U.S. time zones.

Align with the brand’s values and comfort levels – While we as communications consultants help our clients push forward and recommend the best course(s) of action, brands must stand by their own voice and values. Some brands will want to tread more carefully than normal given the sensitivities; others have operations or presence in Russia and/or Ukraine, and thus there may be heightened awareness. Communications strategy is best defined with this global view—including awareness that there are other conflicts and humanitarian issues happening in the world, so this may not be the only or the most important matter to certain audiences.

As with any time of uncertainty, heightened awareness, sensitivity, empathy, and trusting your gut is crucial to navigating the media landscape. Our duty as communications consultants is to be thoughtful and intentional in all we do for our clients—and prepare them for hard interview questions about the war, regardless of what industry or business affiliations it may have. Sometimes it’s the hard times that distinguish good brands from the most admired brands.

By Jean Serra, CEO of V2 Communications

Hybrid events: the new trend inherited from the pandemic

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Hybrid events: the new trend inherited from the pandemic

Until now, digital and virtual solutions had been of little use in the event industry when it came to interactions between attendees, but the global pandemic changed the rules of the game.

If face-to-face meetings have always been perceived as the most powerful way to generate engagement, it’s simply because the entire event ecosystem was first conceived in physical mode and not digital. How can we turn this around and create memorable experiences from a distance? Halfway between the physical and the virtual, event hybridization could well be the answer as hybrid events combine the best of both worlds.

What are the advantages of a hybrid event?

Multiply the audience: this type of event allows you to reach a larger audience by combining on-site participants with virtual participants. This triggers a new relationship with a larger community. The reach of the event is then much more important.

Enrich the storytelling: it’s about staging two event paths in the same event. There is the experience of the participant in the room and the experience of the participant in a remote location, and your storytelling is there to create a synergy between these two experiences.

Benefit from the durability of the content: the implementation of a hybrid event makes it easier to record the event and select highlights to be reused later online to multiply the content according to the targets.

“Hybridization is a responsible and sustainable solution that amplifies messages and engages audiences on a larger scale.”
Caroline Masse, head of the events division at Oxygen, WIN representative in France.

Optimize target satisfaction and engagement: this type of event can benefit from a VIP and small group aspect for face-to-face participants, and engage an online target through the use of interactive features (adapted content, networking, interactivity). The participants’ experience can be fully customized according to their profile.

Gain in Responsibility: hybridization means reducing the number of physical participants and therefore having a positive impact on mobility: less transportation-linked emissions, fewer logistics (catering, etc.), smaller venues, etc.

“It’s an enhanced event experience that requires relevance, creativity and innovation in its format…so that two scenarios, face-to-face and remote, meet subtly.”
Caroline Masse.

Thus, being halfway between the physical and the virtual, the hybridization of an event seems to be the answer to the current constraints of our society. Even if the “phygital” will never replace a physical gathering, it has become a valued and viable alternative.

Employee advocacy – a human to human strategy in communications

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Employee advocacy – a human to human strategy in communications

Nowadays, savvy employers are implementing employee advocacy programs on social media that respond both to the needs of companies, as well as those related to building the personal brands of employees. Based on the example of LinkedIn, the communications platform most frequently used for this purpose, what steps should be taken to implement an effective employee advocacy program that will help to develop the business?

In the era of modern communications channels and ubiquitous information access, the split into business and individual marketing does not make sense anymore, as the same tools, channels or even strategies are used in both cases. The rise of social media has blurred other boundaries as well. Brands competing for online attention have been forced to have a more human face, in the literal meaning of the word. It has long been known that people are more strongly influenced by activity on personal profiles than by the communications conducted on company websites. Based on statistics, the content published on personal profiles has up to eight times greater reach than the same publication on the company page, which should not be so surprising as employees have 10 times larger social networks than company websites[i]. This clearly demonstrates that we prefer to read about the experiences of individuals and specific real-life examples, rather than view messages perfectly prepared by marketing departments. People trust people (their peers, colleagues at work, relatives) much more than brands that have no emotions or experiences, just logos supporting them.

Why LinkedIn and employee advocacy?

LinkedIn is increasingly becoming a place where one is looking for business partners, opinions and information on companies. However, LinkedIn is not only a social medium. As a matter of fact, its social function has only recently made itself known. Until recently, this portal had been regarded in Poland as a place to search for jobs and employees. Meanwhile, LinkedIn focuses on the individual and prioritizes areas related to building a personal brand. More so than company profiles. It is the user, being an expert in a specific field, who is able to reach many people with the given message and encourage other participants to interact.

On the other hand, companies and brands need ambassadors who will support them in building credibility and recognition on social networks, in accomplishing business goals, as well as in promoting the employer’s brand. Employees are the most obvious ambassadors of any company. Building trust in a company or brand by its employees on social networks is one of the shortest definitions of employee advocacy. Why are employees the core of the employer’s brand communications? They know their own company best. They also have the knowledge of the industry, trends, and are true experts on the topics they are dealing with on a daily basis as well.

Bilateral benefits of implementing employee advocacy

The workforce and their contact networks are therefore one of the best communications channels to be used to build trust in the company. By sharing content on their social networks employees are helping to expand the reach and trust in the company and its products on the market. Therefore, the benefits for the company or brand are obvious. The voice of employees on social media leads to a better perception of the company, increases referrals and recommendations, can impact the interest of new potential customers, generate orders and attract new employees. Also for employees, it is an opportunity to build and promote their personal brand, share expert knowledge, expand their reach, establish new business relationships and extend the network of business contacts.

Employee advocacy is not for everyone

However, not every “employee advocacy” programs stand a chance of becoming successful. Before implementing such a program, a company should analyze whether it is ready for it, whether it has in place solid foundations for its launch. Employees should not only share the same values as the company or brand, but also feel that their basic needs are met at their workplace. An adequate organizational culture based on trust and understanding is important. On the other hand, the content they share should be based on real commitment, identification with the company’s culture and communications. However, it often happens that the implementation program fails because employees feel under pressure. They have no support whatsoever, while there is a strong belief within the company that social media are supposed to generate sales. It is worth realizing that even the best employee advocacy program will not work if employees do not share a true conviction regarding what they are doing. So how to launch and run effective employee advocacy activities on LinkedIn? Here are some tips.

Good employee advocacy practices on LinkedIn

Define your goals

Employee advocacy, like any program, requires preparing a good action plan, including defining the goals to be accomplished. Do you want to raise brand awareness? Generate a higher turnover? Support recruitment activities? Or maybe you will have several goals? This should be clearly stated from the outset. The goals may vary for different departments and for different employees. It is important that they are understandable for all those concerned, measurable, achievable and timed.

Organize an information meeting with the workforce

During the introductory meeting with the workforce, explain why it is important and necessary to implement the program at your company. Demonstrate the personal benefits, the values of the program. On the one hand, it will be easier to achieve professional goals – the salesperson is no longer anonymous, the content available on Linkedin builds his/her position as an expert and consultant in the eyes of current and potential customers. The incentives may also include additional elements, such as training on building an expert’s brand online, but also, for example, additional benefits for the most active employees. It is worth linking the program with media activities, taking advantage of the greater recognition and attractiveness of selected experts.

Choose the participants of the program well, define the roles

Remember that there is no need to force all employees to take part in the employee advocacy program. Select a project leader and people who will commit to cooperating in developing relevant content on a regular basis. Encourage regular activity. Employees are much more willing to publish and share the content they are involved in creating. In addition, they are specialists in their fields and valuable content is the basis of any activity on social media. Therefore, make sure they have an impact on the content they will be promoting on their LinkedIn channels.

Provide support for the activities

If you want commitment, you need to provide adequate support for the participants. Help them set up profiles, develop contact networks. Explain what the goal of the activities is and what the expectations are. Make sure that the activities undertaken are clear to everyone. If required, organize adequate training sessions, regular discussions about new ideas, but also, in case of objections or doubts arising during the program’s implementation, be open to feedback. Offer advice on how to be successful. Also, provide support in the form of helping in the preparation or editing of the texts.

Measure performance results and provide feedback

Performance results can be measured with the use of dedicated employee advocacy tools that are plentiful in the marketplace. Such tools are also used for easy content management, checking reach, generating reports. By tracking the reach, engagement, but also conversions or the impact of specific employees on the business goals accomplished, you can draw conclusions from the results achieved and appreciate the relevant results and actions, but also modify your marketing plans. To move forward you need to know where you started.

The employee advocacy program is an investment in development and long term activities instead of temporary measures. Transparency and the introduction of an effective program may, in the long run, affect many areas of the company’s operations, but this will only happen if it turns into an organizational culture, and not just another form of raising sales figures or an opportunity to recruit new employees.

By Dorota Sapija, Omega Communication

[i] source:

How to use newsjacking to get your brand off the ground

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How to use newsjacking to get your brand off the ground

What is newsjacking?

Newsjacking or newsjumping has become an essential part of today’s PR and social media strategies, as it is the preferred communication tool for imposing your expertise in the media or on the web. This technique consists of reacting to a news item to rework it to your advantage and thus gain visibility among the general public or journalists.

3 tips for successful newsjacking

Mark out your area of action

First and foremost, consider setting your brand’s own limits for this type of speaking engagement. Although the principle of newsjacking is to position yourself on news that is not directly related to your company’s business, it is important to define what type of news you can, or cannot, bounce off. Define in advance the target you want to reach to allow you to react quickly. You can write a simple but clear protocol to facilitate the future work of your PR and social media team.

Be responsive

You need to be aware of what’s going on around you in the areas you’ve selected during the tagging process. The PR and social media team must therefore carry out a thorough monitoring/curation of content to be able to react to news as quickly as possible. Be careful not to confuse speed with haste: take the time to brainstorm and anticipate potential crises or bad buzz, don’t jump on a news item that seems attractive without thinking it through. Once the newsjacking is published, you will need to be just as reactive to respond to your audience’s reactions and be able to put your plan into action in case of bad buzz.

Play the humour and creativity card

Revisit the news by opting for a punchy and creative angle to match the atmosphere of social networks. Go for a humorous and light-hearted tone or even puns! This is an excellent way for a brand to set a new tone or simply to increase its sympathy capital. In a period where negative news invades us, consumers are looking for irony and de-dramatization. So, get your best puns ready!

If you want to position your brand on a news item in the media, think about the added value of the press release that you will circulate. Note that journalists are drowned by information and that it is above all necessary to bring a disruptive and innovative vision of your expertise to give you a better chance of marking your interlocutor and of scoring a media coup for your company/brand.

Some examples of newsjacking on social networks

Netflix rallies around the Suez Canal blockade

Netflix compares a scene from Friends to the blocking of the Suez Canal by the “Ever-Given” to remind its community of the good times they had in front of this scene and to highlight one of the series in its catalogue.

Monoprix mocks health measures

Monoprix, well known for its newsjacking, has humorously attacked the government’s decision to force supermarkets to ban so-called “non-essential” products from their shelves.

(If baby bottles aren’t essential, you should have warned us not to make babies during the first lockdown.)

(Those who have ruled that antiperspirants aren’t essential obviously don’t take the bus very often.)

(Kids clothes up to 3 y.o. are essential again. The others are kindly requested to stop growing.)

A dragon with spicy flames by KFC

For the release of Game of Throne season 8 and to promote its Hot & Spicy product, KFC has created a very creative visual in which the fire breathed out by the dragon is chicken pieces.

Scotch repairs Banksy’s work

At an auction held at Sotheby’s London in October 2018, Banksy’s famous “Girl with a Balloon” is sold. Only, at the final hammer blow, an unexpected twist occurs: the work self-destructs before the astonished eyes of its new owner. The event, orchestrated by this artist adept of buzz, is taken up by a good number of brands. Among them, Scotch offers us a simple but very effective newsjacking that suggests that the emblematic work is now repaired, thanks to the Scotch product, of course!

Whether it’s a post on social media or a TV appearance, newsjacking will give your brand a boost. It will allow you to expand your reach, show that you are responsive but also boost your brand equity. With a lot of hard work and a bit of luck, you’ll make an impression!

The perfect partnership – paid and organic social

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The perfect partnership – paid and organic social

Remember Facebook circa 2010? Brands took to the platform and it made a significant impact. Like all things digital, Facebook has evolved since then, in fact the whole social media landscape has. What this means is with the algorithm changes (for Facebook specifically) reach, impact and engagement isn’t what it once was.

Don’t worry though – paid social media is here to save the day.

Or is it?

Let’s be clear: organic social still has a role to play in your digital marketing strategy. It is the ideal platform to tell your brand story, it’s built around community and it’s not necessarily about target driven results.

Tied into community management, something that’s become more of a focus over the last two or three years, is employee advocacy. Your employees can be your strongest advocates and when they take to social media to convey that, it has a positive impact on your brand in terms of amplification of content, visibility, shareability and share of voice.

Organic is also the ideal testing ground for the paid side of things because you can see what content resonates with which audiences and how they engaging with your content. Those learnings, building up a clear profile of your audiences over time, can be applied to your paid strategy.

Why should you use paid social then? It’s not just used to boost organic content. It’s a lot more targeted than that. Those strategies are built around campaigns and specific objectives and typically across B2B are designed to generate an action.

So think about targeted content like eBooks, webinars and whitepapers, leveraging your best content. You can use these to fuel your paid campaigns across platforms, such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. With LinkedIn specifically, there is the opportunity to be really targeted across things like personas, industry, job title, age, geography, company size… the list goes on. You can use it to find and engage with new audiences

The key thing about these types of targeted campaigns is that they can be measured and you can determine your ROI. While paid gets the quick-fire results based on specific campaigns, having organic running concurrently building your brand story and presence provides longevity.

Using both paid and organic together makes sense. And when you’re using social as part of a larger PR and marketing strategy, they pack a powerful punch for reaching those objectives – be it lead generation, brand awareness or expansion.

If you’d like to chat about the opportunity that paid and social media can deliver to your business, please get in touch.

By Ross Walker, Head of Social & Digital, Whiteoaks International

Regional differences, same results

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Regional differences, same results

True story: A young man worked in a global IT company in the late ’90s, which at that time only had a few employees in the Czech Republic. Having had a very successful year, the budget for PR was $250,000. Big money for us. No one at the branch knew what PR was. The young man said to himself: “So if it’s such a nice budget, I’ll set up a PR agency!”

The agency was formed, the global IT company was its first client and more were soon added. The agency has become one of the leading PR agencies specializing in the IT segment. At that time, I also started working for the agency. At Christmas 2004, a young man, the founder of the agency, went to Thailand for Christmas.

Tsunami… More than 230,000 people died… He was one of them…

Together with another colleague, we continued the work of the agency.

In 2007, I travelled to the UK to meet our UK partner, Whiteoaks. I was very nervous. The boy “from the East” had to present for the first time in his life to colleagues “from the West”. In English. At the same time, I was worried that I would make everyone laugh, I thought that we did PR differently.

But I had a smile on my face when I left. I met a lot of great people, I still enjoy meeting many of them to this day. But most importantly, I found out that we have exactly the same experience (with journalists), whether we are from England, France, Poland, Italy, Spain or the USA. That PR is simply a craft.

Since then, all the meetings I’ve had with Whiteoaks have the confirmation that we do PR the same. Sure, there are differences. Especially in the way agencies are organized. Some are large and have fixed rules, others are smaller and work more on the family principle. We are currently a micro agency with lots of experience.

A few days ago, I read a book written by a long-time economic journalist. He dedicated it to “all PR managers”. Chapters like “100 myths about PR, journalists and the media”, “20 scarecrows of every journalist”, “10 things to please journalists” or “30 journalistic and PR stories” reveal the work of PR professionals in great detail and are often not exactly supportive of our field.

Nevertheless, after reading the book, I had a similar feeling as after the first meeting of Whiteoaks: all the mistakes and bad things that the author describes do not concern us. Looks like we’re still doing our job well.

Therefore, I am very happy if I have the opportunity to work on projects with other colleagues from Whiteoaks. I know that I work with professionals and that success always comes. It is always only a matter of time because each (media) market has its specifics.

By Boris Keka, Partner, Move up

Welcome to the era of hybrid events – make the most of it!

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Welcome to the era of hybrid events – make the most of it!

“Hybrid” might just be one of the key defining words of 2021. Hybrid work, hybrid school, shopping that combines online and in-store experience. Not to mention hybrid cars, which continuously grow in popularity. And now we are also entering the era of hybrid events, which are believed to be the perfect combination of what live and virtual events have to offer.

From offline to online – how the event organizers adapted to COVID-19
We all know it, we’ve all been there – the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world drastically, in many ways. In the PR sector, one of the most affected areas of our work has been, without a doubt, organizing events as a part of the communication strategy. Limitations, restrictions and the ever-changing global situation forced many of us to postpone or entirely cancel conferences, workshops and exhibitions – practically overnight. The severity of the situation meant that, if we wanted to keep those events as an important communication channel for our clients, we needed to quickly – and efficiently – adapt to those new conditions. And for the most part, that meant moving our events into the virtual world.

The concept of virtual events is not a new one, but it was never as popular and omnipresent as it is today. A recent report by Grand View Research indicates that the global virtual events market size is estimated to reach USD 504.76 billion by 2028, which amounts to an estimated 24% of annual growth rate[1]. According to another research, by Wild Apricot, the number of organizations planning virtual events doubled in 2020[2]. All of this means that online events have become the norm. Their organizers have learned to make them happen in an effective way that is also attractive for the audience, and the participants have learned to use them to their fullest.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has been here for a year and half now and it’s probably the time to ask ourselves: are those entirely virtual events really here to stay?

From online to hybrid – what the future holds
The answer to the above question would be: not likely. Why? Because people still long for that direct personal contact, now probably even more than before. Yes, virtual events have a whole lot of advantages, but at the same time it is clear that live features will always be an important part of any solid event agenda. The opportunity to acquire new contacts and establish new business relationships is an especially highly valued benefit of the in-person events. Participants point out their need to have direct contact with the speakers – and other attendees – which allows them to discuss important topics, cooperate, compare experiences and establish important new relationships for the future. This is just a part of the feedback that we as Omega Communication received from the participants of events organized for our clients, such as the annual “Automotive” conference by Siemens. While they appreciated the possibility to participate in the event at all in those difficult times, many of them pointed out that they would’ve preferred an in-person meeting if they had a choice.

Taking all that into consideration it seems that the new era of events will have to include “best of both worlds”, i.e. benefits resulting from both the online and the offline format. The industry is already leaning more and more towards what we know as hybrid events, that combine the most valued attributes of the in-person and the virtual experience.

Hybrid events: why they are worth it
A hybrid event basically means organizing your regular live event, with everything you’ve planned for it: the discussion panels, the exhibitions, the lectures and the audience – and adding a virtual side to them. This way, you’re inviting both participants that value the direct personal contact and the ones that prefer the flexibility of the online format. It’s really a win-win situation for everyone. Events that are held both in-person and virtually end up gathering a bigger audience and increasing their reach, which, of course, is important for you as the organizer. But your participants will appreciate this format too – they get to choose which way of participation is more beneficial for them, which makes it easier to organize their schedules and thus, they will be more likely to attend. You are basically giving them a more optimized experience that they can individually adjust to their needs. At the same time, you’re also ensuring that your event is more diverse and inclusive – because you are not limiting it to a specific region, you can invite both speakers and the audience from all over the world. You will also be pleased to find out that the hybrid events are typically less costly than the live, in-person ones, while they maintain – or even enhance – the participants’ experience and engagement. And last, but not least – hybrid events might be well positioned both in content and lead generating process. They can be sensibly integrated into the entire digital strategy of a company.

Go hybrid, but remember the big picture
Are you sold on the idea of organizing a hybrid event? Great! There’s still a few things that are worth remembering. First and foremost, do not forget that an event – no matter the online, offline or hybrid format – is never a goal in itself, nor does it exist in isolation. It is always a part of a bigger picture and should function in a specific business context. Deciding which topics are interesting and sought after on the market and defining who your target audience is, is extremely crucial for your event to be successful. Your audience will come to talk about the topics that they find important and to build relationships with other specialists interested in the area.

Now that we have this basic, but very important aspect covered, let’s talk hybrid events – and how to make them successful. First of all, remember to ensure that your live and online audiences are treated equally – if the in-person participants get to ask questions, so should the virtual ones. Make sure to prepare opportunities well-tailored to the way of participation. Prepare live chat rooms and virtual maps for the online audience and if you’re planning to invite your live participants for an evening dinner or concert – perhaps you can engage the virtual audience in them too. Send them a pre-packaged cocktail set or a meal delivery voucher – anything to make them feel like they’re welcome and not forgotten during your big evening gala. Remember the big picture but also do not forget technical details.

Into the post-pandemic times
The most important takeaway from 2020 is that we can get very creative when we need to. We have our ways to adjust to sudden changes and still make our events happen – and be successful. For the future, it seems like the hybrid formula is the way to go. We can derive a number of unprecedented benefits from it, using the knowledge and experience we have acquired during online events in the pandemic. Is it going to be challenging? Of course! But if we learned anything from 2020 is that we can face any challenge and end up being better than ever before.

By Dorota Sapija, Omega Communication



Is digital transformation right for all companies?

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Is digital transformation right for all companies?

There are plenty of reports, publications and opinions on the process of change that people and organisations go through, highlighting its benefits and bringing to light its challenges. But in general, it is a period with a negative connotation, and perhaps this is because, as human beings, we are “creatures of habit”, who find it difficult to go through these changes and emerge unscathed.

But this last period has taught us – for those who had doubts – that we can spend years building something, and from one day we have to change it. Those companies that see these challenges of change and transformation as attractive are actually thinking out of the box with mostly very positive repercussions.

And while it may seem that the challenge is to define a goal, in reality, the most difficult thing is to decide the “what for”. Why are we going to make this change? Why are we going to digitise this process if it works as it is? Why are we going to invest time, resources and money in this development? Well, the answer should be that we are doing all this to improve the processes and the results achieved.

Until we understand that technology has to be at our service, and not the other way around, we will continue to face these digital transformation processes with fear, slowness and scepticism. Because to change, to think differently, to do these things differently, is simply to fight against years of learned habits.

We have more and more buzzwords that we repeat or blurt out in the middle of explaining a project, and that is meant to make it disruptive. But in the end, disruption is not discursive but factual, and it goes hand in hand with the size of the organisation and its problems. Just ask Robert Crandall, who in the late 1980s decided to remove the olive from the salad served on American Airlines flights, thus saving the company thousands of dollars a year. For some, he was a visionary, for others the man who uncovered the cuts in airline service quality.

Let’s consider for a moment this question inspired by a story told by Theodore Levitt. “What does Black & Decker do? Drills? DIY equipment? Tools? No. They make holes. Drills happen to be the best way to do it, but that may not always be the case. New technology can, for example, produce a laser-driven machine that can do the job better. If Black & Decker had not realised that it was in the hole-making business rather than the drill business, they would have been as vulnerable to competition as the roll film manufacturers were with the new technology of digital cameras.

There is no reason to believe that disruption and digital transformation are only for some organisations. From a shoe shop to an SME that manufactures screws, to a multinational, there are areas for digital improvement in this regard. And that is why they put technology at their service and not the other way around.

By Justi Vila, FJ Communications

Round pegs and square holes

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Round pegs and square holes

As partners of the Whiteoaks International Network almost since the beginning, we have long been advocates of the value behind working with local PR agencies who can offer clients in-depth, on-the-ground knowledge and insight into their individual markets and above all, advice on how to best work with the local media and/or any other platforms for reaching the client’s target audiences effectively. Whilst working with a local agency undoubtedly requires more financial commitment compared with simply using an international newswire service or trying to do PR remotely from client HQ, it also creates much better returns and quality results all round.

That said, having chosen to go down that path, for a relationship with a local agency to really work and provide true value, it must be based on trust and confidence where the agency can operate as providers of consultancy and advice on the best way to achieve results and work with a level of autonomy that allows them to adapt and change global content in the way that they know will get good results. It’s no use engaging an agency at a local level if they are going to be used merely as a press release translation and distribution service, or micro-managed from client HQ to such an extent that they are unable to act and communicate freely and effectively on the client’s behalf.

A few weeks ago we had two almost identical scenarios to deal with which, because they were handled in different ways, generated two very different outcomes. Both were big US Tech clients. Both had written and planned to distribute not 1 but 3 press releases, on the same day, about upgrades and enhancements to their product or service offering globally.

One insisted that we ran with the translated versions of the release we had been sent, with very little option to make any changes to the text, and released them to the local media one after the other over two days, in line with the global announcement schedule. The other client however gave us carte blanche to translate and adapt the three releases as we felt appropriate, release all three, or just two, or amalgamate all three into one single release according to what we thought would work best for our market, and stagger the distribution in line with when it was best to do so. It doesn’t require a genius to figure out which of the two scenarios generated the best results in the end, in terms of quantity and quality of coverage.

So what can a business do to ensure that it is getting the best value for money from a local agency, in terms of supporting them and enabling them to do what they’ve been contracted to do?

  • Listen to their advice: It sounds obvious but it is undoubtedly the most important tip of all as it forms the foundation upon which the entire working relationship with the agency should be built. Nevertheless, it is surprising how often we have had cases where clients have gone against the advice given by the agency, based on years of experience and knowledge of the local market, to push ahead with a communication strategy that might work in their home market or in other regions but would never do so locally for whatever reason. Such situations rarely turn out good for either the client or the agency in the long term.
  • Let them build their own locally relevant content: Word for word translations of global content don’t work locally. Certain terms like ‘Seamless’, ‘Frictionless’, ‘Turnkey’ or ‘Insight’ are often nearly impossible to translate into other languages so paraphrasing is usually required. Quotes from local management work better than those from C-Suite execs that the local media can’t relate to. Local data always trumps global data when creating content about market trends or business outlooks. Giving the agency the creative freedom to create its own versions of press content guarantees that it will hit the mark and score the desired result.
  • Let them liaise closely with the local sales team: Often Marcoms teams at client HQ don’t want local sales teams to be involved in the local communications process. This is a BIG mistake. After all, the end game is to create local brand awareness, generate leads and help local sales sell more so why leave them out of the process? They can be a valuable source of local insight and stories that can resonate really well in the local media. They can help the agency understand the local industry better, assist with the translation of difficult technical terminology, and last but not least advise on which business areas or target audiences are the most important to them strategically so that the agency can focus efforts on supporting that. This isn’t just a “nice to have” – it is critical to the success of a local campaign. Every time a client gives us unfettered access to the local sales team, and the autonomy to work closely with them for the common good, the quality of the results is way beyond those achieved by centrally managed, siloed campaigns.
  • Support them with quality materials: Well written content needs good imagery and other materials such as video, infographics, and so on, to go with it. Making sure the local agency has quick and easy access to such materials without having to spend time requesting or sourcing them means they can concentrate on more productive tasks. It’s amazing how often we get sent press releases to distribute without a single image to accompany them. Or how often we are asked to pitch media briefings with client spokespeople but with no biographies or decent portrait photos to back them up with.

So instead of trying to fit round pegs into square holes by underutilising a local agency’s true value and expecting them to mechanically execute global strategy, businesses are always better off in the long term when they give local agencies the creative license to act in their best interests and leverage local knowledge, contacts and experience to optimum effect.

By Piers Finzel, Managing Director, Finzel Public Relations