Category: Capital Markets

Intern’s Guide: How to Take a Brief

By Ramairo Davis

You’ve made it this far. You’ve weathered sweaty palms, the doubters and the self-doubt. You think you’re getting to grips with things when you get handed your first task and someone needs to brief you. No need to panic – here’s my intern’s guide.

As with whenever chartering unfamiliar territory, it all starts with Intel.

The Intel

Knowing what questions to ask and the sort of answers you want is your symbolic campfire. It protects you from looming dangers, the workplace kind. Get this right and the future should be bright.

Who is the client? Can you send me any background on them? Where do they operate? What information do they want? Which sources are valid?

What is the task? Content? Media list? Pitching? Research? Can you give me examples? What would be perfection? Is there anything else I should know? Knowing what a good standard to go by is will save you time.

Most of the time, the person briefing you has forgotten what it’s like to be an intern. To start from the beginning. And perhaps, will explain things at their level, using unfamiliar jargon. There’s no shame in asking questions. Ask. It’s much worse to sit silently at your desk wondering what on earth they have asked you to do.

Comms people, in general, are already operating at full capacity. Maintaining their attention long enough for you to extract the necessary information is a key element of survival. However, being skilled in negotiating deadlines and timeframes, is another trait all survivalists formerly known as interns will have to master.

The Negotiation

Strap on your cargo boots. Imagine yourself with your very own Rambo headband and get stuck in.

Like wandering bears, hungry for what all you’ve managed to forage; the person briefing will be hungry for your ‘yes’ – use it wisely.

Manage expectations

After you feel your questions have been answered sufficiently and you have gathered the necessary Intel to do the task, ensure the deadline is feasible. Interns are typically briefed on different jobs by multiple people and this person may not have a good picture of what else you have on.

Likely they will need to review it. Have patience with yourself, breathe and accept that you will probably need more time than stated to do the task. And if you’re not sure what to prioritise – ask. No one will expect you to make that call.

Once you agree to a time you are bound to it. It can either be your route to success, or path to failure.

The Correspondence

Maintaining a consistent line of communication between yourself and the person who briefed you is your symbolic ‘shelter’ in this office wilderness. Send a short follow up email summarising the main points of the task.

Deliver a daily email outlining your priorities.

Comms, especially agency work, has been likened to the art of spinning plates. It most certainly is. To poorly quote Uncle Ben from Spiderman, ‘with more responsibility comes more plates’. Making comms professionals a slightly jittery bunch. Help calm their nerves. Proactively keep the team updated with the task’s progress and you will make their lives much easier.


With this survival kit you may grow to love and master this PR wilderness. Whatever is the outcome of the internship, these pointers can help even the shortest-staying intern survive. Exhale.

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Intern’s Guide: How to Write a Blog Post

By Ramairo Davis

Thud. Banging your head on the table. It’s dubbed thought leadership. But why aren’t your thoughts leading? It can’t be as long-winded as a novel yet not as objective as a news article. Scrunch! That’s the third idea in the bin.

You’re not alone!

Forever nudging the copywriters to have a look at my ‘revised’ version and dodging their subsequent stares, I committed myself to master this medium.

Barricaded in my very own Batcave, dimly-lit lamps and two or three empty coffee mugs, I began to crack the Da Vinci Code.

The world’s largest rush hour

Generally, people are very busy, so we want to catch them when they have a few minutes to spare. Whether it is on the train, at lunchtime etc.

If you imagine London’s congestion multiplied by 100,000, it would still fall short of the amount of traffic on the internet. Thus, the internet is the noisiest market known to man. All bloggers are fishermen. And all fishermen need bait.

As the profession suggests, you should be a master of the (inter-)‘net’ and ‘hooks’. And titling is the bloggers’ best weapon.

Frame your titles in ways which let the reader know the value the blog provides, as simply as possible. Jargon? Implied concepts? Don’t! Your audience needs to be ‘spoon-fed’ why your blog is the ‘right’ distraction. Your headtitle needs to lay out exactly what they will get in a clever catchy way. Think about why you bothered to read this blog.

Once you have them ‘hooked’, you need to keep them. Include quirky yet relevant subtitles to segment different sections. Make them bold (it sticks out better when scrolling). It’s a subtle reminder of the value your blog provides. A combination of carefully worded and chosen titles can make all the difference.

Respect the Scroll

Whether it be a click, drag, slide or roll, the ability of web surfers to scroll up and down changes the reading experience fundamentally.

Under gleaming screen light, scrolling transforms human beings into goldfish. Well, just their memory. Their retention span becomes thin and their patience thinner.

People read books but skim blogs. The scroll bar gets through content more quickly than turning pages. And, sadly, online content is consumed in an almost narcotic fashion. We want our fix. Anything that seems too dense loses our interest and won’t survive the scroll bar.

Keep to the point. Use condensed paragraphs and sentences: five lines per paragraph should be the maximum. If you can’t make the point in that way then you need to think again – maybe this isn’t suited to a blog post after all.

Add your own flavour

When someone reads your blog, they devoted some precious seconds in order to read it, so be brave enough to add in your own opinion and flair. The reader chose you for a reason. The reader is hoping you’ll succeed, to prove they didn’t waste their time.

It’s tempting to stay on the fence, in fear of saying something stupid because you’re the newbie. But you still have experiences and opinions. Share them. And someone will doubtless review it before it goes public!


Blogs bank on the unfortunate ‘goldfish’ in us, surfing the net looking for something relevant and entertaining. It’s called the ‘net’ for a reason. Become the best fisherman by tailoring your repertoire with the medium and audience in mind. With these tips, you may be ready to set up shop in the world’s largest rush hour. Just remember to respect the scroll.

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Under the Influence: How much power do social influencers actually have?

By: Shannon Lind

Influencer marketing – predicted to be a US$5-10 billion sector by 2020 – has become a favourable strategy amongst marketers. As the average influencer gets paid US$1,000 per 100,000 followers, it’s certainly a significant investment, but are marketers really getting the bang for their buck?

Contrary to what you might think, influencers aren’t new. A professional footballer can earn over US$100 million in a year when ‘all they do is kick a ball about’. Let’s not forget, for a star like Cristiano Ronaldo, around 40% of this income is made from brand endorsements. Yet, I have never heard criticism for the supposed US$1 million earnings Kylie Jenner makes for simply posting a picture on Instagram.

Word of mouth and word of influencer

Turn the clocks back 15 years, and we see examples of pre-digital age influencers in the form of celebrity endorsements – your favourite magazine would be filled with celeb interviews talking about their ‘favourite’ products, grasping your desire for the newest trends. Separately, word of mouth may have urged you to avoid the local chip shop because your hairdresser’s cousin got food poisoning from there once.

Nowadays, we see a similar approach which leverages the power of social media on a global scale. Many will turn to social influencers for inspiration, opinions and recommendations despite them being complete strangers.

As global connectivity soars, people don’t need to look far for information. With the average person spending 142 minutes on social media per day, we are quick to use these channels to preach or hail our brand experiences.

Influencers possess a lot of power when initiating these conversations. They are well-positioned across social media, seamlessly slipping their content into our feeds; amongst the personal posts of our friends and family. Making themselves seem familiar, amicable and trustworthy. Their opinions are respected and their picture-perfect lifestyles desired.

Will it have the right influence?

After the Fyre Festival scandal, it’s understandable to have doubts about influencer marketing. Of course, since then we have seen a push for responsible influencer marketing practice, with the advertising standards agency (ASA) making it a requirement to be honest about endorsements and paid ads. And it appears that this transparency from influencers makes them more trustworthy and respected with their followers.

With so many in the game, it can be easy to question the authenticity and trust surrounding this method of raising brand awareness. Actually, social influencers – not celebrity influencers – tend to stick to their core values, ensuring the brands that they work with continue to generate content that is of interest to their audience.

If you doubt the power of influence a stranger can have, take notes from the world record egg from which more than 50 million people were convinced to like an image of an egg. Or, the reputed $1.3 billion USD Kylie Jenner cost Snapchat with a single tweet. Showing the sheer scale in which people can genuinely engage with influencers and their opinions.

Is it successful?

Influencer marketing has certainly proven its worth amongst marketers, with 89% agreeing that ROI from influencer marketing is comparable, if not better, than other channels. Over 70% say that the quality of customers and traffic from influencer marketing is better than other marketing sources.

Undeniably, influencers can be a great way of tapping into niche markets and raising brand awareness. With the rise of digital channels, traditional media are less effective and with online advertising being susceptible to ad blockers, influencers have become one of the most direct ways of targeting your audience – whether you work in Finance, Energy or Tech. And, if done strategically, you will certainly get the bang for your buck.

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Are you a polyglot? The benefits of international PR and marketing

Written by Michał Ratyński 

In today’s globalised economy, very few communications professionals only serve domestic clients. Probably, every day you make international calls with clients whose first language isn’t English. You quickly realise that, although your client relations skills are spot-on, there are some nuances that prevent the communications from being as slick as you’d like.

Speaking your client’s language is super beneficial in avoiding misunderstandings. It opens up unprecedented opportunities to learn specific cultural codes which are otherwise often lost in translation. Some basic things, such as ways of addressing people, vary enormously between different languages and often even the closest translation doesn’t do justice to the speaker’s original meaning. An example of a complex system can be found in the Japanese language which is far more formal than English when it comes to hierarchy or what is considered to be good manners.

At Aspectus, we aim to create a multicultural, integrated agency because an international workforce helps expand our horizons. Though English is often the lingua franca for B2B PR and marketing, multilingual teams make our communications easier and help expand the geographies we work in.

We are very proud that roughly 20 per cent of our workforce hail from beyond the UK and US. We have a bunch of Europeans (French, Finnish and Polish), Australians, a South African, an Israeli and a Zimbabwean in our offices. As a Pole I’m one of the international people who recently joined Aspectus. We recognise what our global workforce offers and work hard to support them with visas. And we want to become even more international as we keep growing.

Focus on European markets is another priority for Aspectus as it should be for any B2B communications agency. Regardless of the final outcome of Brexit, we will make sure to keep the closest links with Europe and recruit the best talent, wherever they are from. Why? Because having native speakers really helps to elevate business to foreign media outlets. A good example of successful pitching in a national language was our work for the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) in French-speaking Swiss media. We secured coverage in Le Temps and L’Agefi. Having direct contact with journalists can not only save on translation costs but also helps our agency to understand a wider picture of communications in Europe.

So, what are the advantages of the international people working for a PR and marketing agency? Communications is one of the most dynamic professions, which increasingly needs a global touch. Although the command of foreign language isn’t a necessary requirement for jobs in the sector, there needs to be a wider recognition that recruiting international people can really help boost business and bring the invaluable cultural knowledge to your company.

Are you looking for international PR and marketing support? Check out our services here.

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OpenGamma appoints Aspectus to run its UK communications

London, 14th June 2018Aspectus, the specialist communications agency for the financial services, energy, technology and engineering sectors, has been appointed by OpenGamma, the analytics company dedicated to improving returns for derivatives users through capital efficiency, to deliver its UK communications programme.

Focusing on messaging, media relations, media training and content, Aspectus have been chosen to raise awareness of OpenGamma’s analytics offering and the market challenges it addresses around the cost and complexity created by new regulations. Aspectus was selected because of its experience in the market infrastructure and proven track record of communicating convoluted market issues in succinct and digestible way through the financial media.

Peter Rippon, CEO at OpenGamma said: “For us, an understanding of the industry was essential. The complexity of our business meant we needed an agency with the market experience to match. This coupled with a proactive approach to media relations has helped us to secure the coverage we need to support our business goals. Aspectus hit the ground running as soon as we partnered with them.”

Tim Focas, Capital Markets Lead at Aspectus added: “The regulatory landscape has shifted dramatically over the last few of years, altering the way derivatives trading is done across Europe. This means now is an ideal time to work with firms such as OpenGamma who tackle specific issues that compliance change has brought to the market. It’s fantastic to work with such a dynamic firm, and we’ve already seen some great results.”

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Did no one tell the London Stock Exchange that digital life would be this way?

Written by Tim Focas, Capital Markets Lead at Aspectus

“Oh…my God…” #DavidSchwimmer is the new London Stock Exchange (LSE) CEO! Cue a truck full of Friends related gifs memes and gags this morning.

That’s the weird and wonderful of Twitter for you, but did anyone tell the LSE or Schwimmer’s (no not that one) former employer Goldman Sachs? You could forgive corporate communication departments for going “on a break” this morning. But when it comes to something as surreal as a senior finance chief sharing a name with a famous actor trending what, if anything, should financial institutions do from a comms perspective?

It is always difficult to gauge how people will react, and with something as inoffensive as this, it is hard to imagine shareholders getting too hot under the collar. That said, Twitter has been around long enough now for businesses to know about the sort of bizarre things people latch onto. It is a simple fact of modern day communications life that you have to prepare for all situations. Some comms bod may well be saying “I told you so” as we speak. If so, good on them. The point is not so much that there is a pressing need for the LSE or Goldman to react, more that it should have been on the agenda as part of the official Schwimmer media announcement. Twitter needs to be treated in the same way as a traditional news outlet. Any media strategy includes info on the angles that Financial Times or Financial News reporters are likely to take on any given story. Today, views from @John33 also need to be tracked in order to have full control of your brand.

Twitter serves up a constant stream of updates as unpredictable trends progress. The good news is that the overtly vocal nature of micro blogging means other people, often working in comms, tend to immediately correct these errors. While this is not the case with #DavidSchwimmer, it could well be for future announcements. These days, regardless of their size, financial institutions need to be as obsessed with what’s being said about their brand on social media as Ross was with dinosaurs!

When you ask the wrong #DavidSchwimmer to be new CEO at London Stock Exchange and ask him how he sees the day’s share prices ending…

— LOVE SPORT Radio (@lovesportradio) April 13, 2018

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The future of mobile marketing

Written by Zoe Poxon

A recent survey conducted by Flurry revealed that we spend over 5 hours on mobile devices each day. This tells us that there is a vast and engaged mobile audience out there which we could be tapping into, and it’s one that is growing year on year. Pretty much everyone has a mobile device, and there are plenty of ways to reach the right people.

So, what can you do to keep up with this growth and take full advantage of mobile marketing in 2018? Here are some things to look out for.

Google’s mobile-first indexing

In 2016 Google announced that they’re switching to ‘mobile-first indexing’. This means that Google will start to base its ranking of your website on its mobile version and no longer its desktop version (even if someone searches for you from a desktop).

If we look at some stats on how many mobile searches are made today, it’s not surprising why this shift is happening. Mobile search currently drives more traffic than desktop. And according to official Google statements last year, over 50% of searches are made from a mobile device. We can only expect this to grow in the future.

What does this mean for your business? To ensure that your site ranks as well as it can, make sure that you have a few different versions of your site available in different screen sizes, and that each version is optimised for search. You might even want to consider creating an app as the best way forward.

Voice search

Google previously reported that 20% of mobile queries were voice searches. And by this point we’ve all heard of Amazon Alexa and Google Home, which are perfect examples of how far voice search has come and how fast it’s growing. Other sources show that 40% of adults use voice search once a day, and that voice searches have increased over 35x since 2008.

My point is, voice search is (kind of) the new kid on the block, and in the world of mobile marketing, it’s one to watch. It works by aggregating the best and most popular answers that are being searched for around a particular topic. To ensure that you stand the best chance of showing up in the voice search results, make sure your key content is featured on your main website pages. This makes it easier for Google to scan your website and pick out the most relevant content and answers to a query. If you’re lucky, you might even get featured by Google in a ‘Featured Snippet’ – a search result that appears in a card at the top of the results page, which includes a summary of the answer. It looks something like this:

The summary is extracted programmatically from content on the web page. When Google recognises that a query is asking a question, it finds pages with an answer, and shows the top result as a featured snippet.

If you want to feature as top content, a useful tip is to have quality and credible answers to common ‘what is…’, ‘what if…’ and ‘how to…’ type questions on your mobile site. To understand more about how Google determines ad position and ad ranking, they’ve written an article to tell you everything you need to know.

Fast loading websites

Developing a quick and easy user experience is one of the simplest but most important elements of successful mobile marketing. DoubleClick’s research states that 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take over 3 seconds to load.

Your website alone is a strong marketing tool as it should hold all your key content that will sell your product or service. Don’t let delays in loading time be the reason your audience is turning away.

Mobile advertising

There are many more specific ways to boost your mobile marketing efforts. You could use mobile advertising on websites, in-apps and on social media. Or try adapting your digital content to make sure it looks great on mobile screens (e.g. social media posts may need to be expanded / images may not appear as good as they do on desktop). And let’s not forget the option to advertise within mobile messaging apps. It’s a great way to reach a growing and hyper engaged audience – Facebook Messenger has over 1.3 billion active users, and with LinkedIn Sponsored Content, you can tap into their audience of over 500 million professionals.

Today, people spend more time looking for answers on their mobiles than on their desktops. Whether B2B or B2C, it’s every brands’ responsibility to provide answers to these questions, and to ensure their websites are tailored to provide a streamlined mobile experience.

If you’re looking to boost your mobile marketing, get in touch today to find out how we can help you.

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Aspectus promotes Tim Focas to capital markets lead

LONDON, 21st November 2017Aspectus, the global communications agency serving the financial services, energy and technology sectors, has promoted Tim Focas to head up its capital markets sub-sector.

Tim, who has played a pivotal role servicing the agency’s trading technology clients since joining from Weber Shandwick four years ago, will report into Ellie Jackson who leads the European financial services practice at Aspectus. In his new role, Tim will be responsible for providing strategic communications advice to existing capital markets clients and driving new business opportunities.

“The support shown to me since my arrival has been truly humbling. The agency’s entrepreneurial passion, sector expertise and commitment to its talent are three central reasons behind our continued growth in capital markets,” said Focas. “Our creative, integrated campaigns are engaging target audiences across the space and helping to drive clients’ growth. All that, combined with our results guarantee, means that prospects of all sizes are interested in what we have to offer. With all this in mind, the new role comes with some hugely exciting client and new business opportunities.”

“Tim has been a big contributor to our financial services practice, driving a number of standout campaigns including Big Bang at 30 and the award-winning Lighter Side of Dark Trading that are typical of the agency,” explained Ellie Jackson, Group Director at Aspectus. “These achievements, coupled with his proven new business track record, made him the obvious fit to lead our growing capital markets business.”

Capital markets is just one sub-sector of Aspectus’ financial services practice – which has a range of clients spanning the business, impact investment and personal finance sectors. Aspectus is one of the fastest-growing specialist communications agencies, and has offices in Aberdeen, London, New York, Luzern and a presence in Singapore.

– ENDS –

About Aspectus
Aspectus, the engagement agency, is an international communications agency specialising in financial services, energy, technology and engineering.

In our hands communications transforms the way businesses engage with their markets. Our award-winning approach, creativity and market knowledge builds brands, increases sales, attracts investment and supports business growth.

To find out more, visit:

Media contact
Tim Focas
T (UK): +44 (0) 20 7242 8867

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The rise of influencer marketing

Written by Zoe Poxon

Influencer marketing is all the rage among brands and PR professionals. In a recent study, which elicited responses from marketers across a range of industries, 86% used influencer marketing in 2016, 94% of whom found it effective. It’s a new tactic and there’s still mystery surrounding it. So, what exactly is it – and should you be doing it?

Here’s how it could help your business.

What is influencer marketing?

Influencers are specialists, or celebrities, that have built and retained trust and two-way communication with their followers. Influencer marketing taps into this already established and engaged audience to promote a product or service. Usually, the best campaigns are those where the influencer creates their own unique content to support the brand and its goals.
From health and fitness to stock marketing, social media is swamped with influencers that we try to emulate. And they’re so easy to find – there’s no need to search beyond the standard social media channels. If you need to, they’re probably not worth following.

Is it worth your time?

For this haircare company, one selfie post from Kylie Jenner enabled the brand to reach her 96.7M Instagram followers, generating more than 1.9M engagements:

This comms trick doesn’t just work on the A-list celebrity scales. If you’ve got interesting and relevant content, it’s worth taking the time to find the right influencers to get your story in front of your audience.

Whilst there is some debate over how to measure the success of influencer campaigns, they can have a higher ROI than traditional media campaigns. Take the Budweiser #GiveADamn campaign during the Super Bowl 50. 50 influencer posts across Instagram and Twitter reached 107M people and cost 13x less than Budweiser’s 30 second TV ad (it reached 114M people, at a cost of $5M).

What are the benefits?

There are obvious tangible benefits including follower engagement, driving traffic, and the creation of more authentic content. But let’s not forget that word of mouth recommendations are more important than ever, and social media makes great content essential and relevant.

With the rise of ad blocker usage (and the fast forward button on our TVs), it’s easy to avoid traditional advertising. This, plus the fact that consumers are shifting their attention to digital platforms, makes influencer marketing a very relevant and effective social media strategy.

What does influencer marketing mean for B2B?

It’s unlikely that the Jenners would share our content, but we can relate to other major influencers in our sectors. Martin Lewis has a huge impact in the energy market – all it takes is one mention on This Morning for a company’s sales to rocket. Similarly, a mention from Ashton Kutcher would certainly spark interest in technology. The tech investor has put money into Airbnb, Spotify and Uber, to name a few.

When we generate compelling and engaging content, we might reach out to journalists or thought leaders in our respective sectors to share or put a unique spin on our stories. We might also use Google Hangouts or conduct a poll, which are great ways to gain valuable audience insights. We can then use findings as the basis for creative content, or a broader marketing approach.

How can influencer marketing supercharge your comms?

  1. Influencers are already talking to your target audience – they have done the ground work by creating an audience (follower base) for you
  2. They have built credibility and trust – followers will be genuinely interested in what an influencer has to say
  3. They are everywhere – every industry has influencers, you just need to use the right tools to find them

Traditional PR channels still have high value. But if you’re looking to really amplify your digital comms; engage the influencers that have already won the hearts and minds of the people that would genuinely listen to your message.

To understand how influencers can support your marketing goals, please get in touch.

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