Category: Technology

3 top tips for developing an effective technology event communications plan

By Astor Sonnen, Senior Account Director

Trade shows are a staple of most industries. A chance to network, showcase solutions, sell, buy, and learn, brands often anchor entire marketing and sales campaigns around their appearances at events.  

Driving the most value out of trade shows is dependent on having clear objectives, defined within a strategic event communications plan. You can’t simply turn up and expect success; you need to lay the groundwork.  

While events may differ between industries, there are several key considerations for marketeers when developing marketing and comms plans. So, whether you’re planning on exhibiting at DCD Connect, Capacity Europe, SaaStock, InfoSec Europe or any other event, here are three top tips to keep in mind.  

1: Tell your audience that you’re attending and ‘stand’ out

Raise awareness of your attendance so that your audience can set up meetings at the show, while also boosting your brand by publicising what topics and events you’re active in.

Start activity 6-weeks or so out and use a variety of tactics – such as email marketing, social media and content – to increase the likelihood your audience will engage.

Conversations will also happen organically at the show, but having a stand that sets you apart will help to attract visitors. Some brands develop vibrant signage, while others may have quirks such as demos and freebies.

Ask yourself:

  • How will your target audience know that you’re exhibiting at the event? 
  • What’s the most effective way of reaching your audience? 
  • Do you have something planned that will increase the attractiveness of your stand?  

2: Train your speakers to represent your brand in the right way  

If you have a representative in a panel discussion, make sure they’re fully prepped to add insightful commentary. A true thought leader can explore industry topics, while subtly bridging back to their own messaging, so that attendees gain a better understanding. If panel participants clearly push their own agenda and aren’t in sync with each other, it can be alienating to the audience.  

Ask yourself:  

  • Are your experts fully prepared for a discussion?  
  • Do they require training so that they understand when best to engage in the wider conversation and when to be more direct with your messaging? 

3: If you want media coverage, have something new to say  

Media coverage is another common desired outcome for brands attending events, but this is dependent on having actual news. Attendance in itself is not newsworthy. Be ready to announce something along the lines of new data, offerings, customer relationships or top-level hires so that journalists have a reason to come to your stand.  

However, other brands in attendance will likely be announcing news at the same time for the same reasoning, so make your story strong. And remember, if there’s no news, you can still take the opportunity to chat to journalists on the day to build relationships – with the right preparation. 

Ask yourself: 

  • Do you have something new to talk about? 
  • If yes, to manage expectations, would you expect coverage of the news if you announced it outside of the show?  
  • What are your main goals for attending? If lead generation is a priority, your efforts may be better focused elsewhere. 

There are plenty more top tips we can give you, so if you’ve got an industry event on the horizon and want to know how to make your resources deliver more, get in touch.  

Let’s discuss your event communications plan, as well as your wider technology PR and comms strategy. 

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Why we care more about bad news… and how spokespeople can cut through

By Alex Newlove, Senior Account Manager

It is a common complaint that journalists tend to focus on the ‘bad’ stories that make us despair about the state of the world. Our clients sometimes worry that journalists’ propensity for covering conflict and mishap will lead to quotes being taken out of context and placed in an overwhelmingly negative story.

Who else subscribes to a news service where the refrain below-the-line is often “I will be cancelling my subscription to this alarmist newspaper, I expected better”?

The insinuation behind these complaints is that journalists go out of their way to irritate and alarm us, just for fun. Sometimes, the follow-up statement from commenters will be something like, “why can’t you report on some good news for a change?”.

The answer to this question is clear: editors have better information than ever about what people are reading, given that the vast majority of news is now clicked on, as opposed to leafed through. I would argue that this makes us all culpable for the quality and tone of the news agenda. You clicked on one too many articles about Kim Kardashian’s bum, and you are now living in the mean and superficial world which you helped to mould. Social media has further fueled an environment that rewards only the most extreme, black-and-white opinions.

But while I have just implied that we all have a degree of responsibility for the negative news cycle, we are also born with brains that fire up for drama and disaster; merely flicker for charming stories with a happy ending; and barely register accounts of where things have gone well or adhered to the status quo – in fact this latter group is barely considered news at all.

Excuse me while my undergraduate psychology course rears its ugly head, but this penchant for bad news makes perfect sense from an evolutionary perspective. The ‘negativity bias’ meant our ancestors were vastly more likely to put their attention towards what could be a snake in the grass, over admiring a glorious blue sky. Ignoring potential bad news (the approaching snake) was vastly riskier than not focusing on neutral or good news. Similar mechanisms are at work when we find it easier to recall insults than compliments, and why you remember exactly what you were doing when you heard a plane had crashed into the twin towers. Your brain registered the perceived shocking threat and helpfully filed the ‘lesson’ for later.

This negativity bias poses a challenge for PR people. Our clients often come to us desperately excited about a new project their team has been working energetically on for many months. We are sometimes in the unenviable position of telling them “sorry, no-one cares”. This will be translated to something along the lines of “What an exciting initiative! Unfortunately, due to the busy news agenda we cannot imagine this will get much traction with the media at this time”.

So how can firms capitalise on a grim news agenda, without coming across as overly pessimistic, or getting drawn into a slanging match with competitors?

Contrarian points of view

Restating the status quo does not get you quoted. The journalist wants colour and opinion – what is your or your company’s attitude towards a topic? Can you critique a prevailing idea or theory, or even your own industry, before covering what your firm is doing to change it? (We recommend against criticising specific competitors.)

Use their angle to your advantage

Ask the journalist if they already have an angle in mind. If you feel it is inaccurate or overly-negative, this gives you a chance to come up with a more positive counter-narrative and will help guide your responses throughout the conversation.

Move the story on

The journalist is always trying to write the next chapter on a given topic, so there is little point in extensively rehashing old ground. Give them something fresh to go on and explain how an issue is moving on. “Now the market is shifting, and our clients have started asking us about Y. This means…”

Be fearless: say what you think

A big frustration for journalists is the extent to which senior people in well-paid positions are afraid to venture an opinion, even where it correlates to their company’s messaging. The world is gasping for thoughtful, frank, discussion. Being passionate and showing personality is good.

Aspectus can help your company navigate a turbulent news agenda. Contact us.

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The democratisation of the internet: how Web3.0 can correct the mistakes of Web2.0

By Corrie McBain, Account Executive

As we stand on the precipice of a Web3.0 world, it’s time to look at how the foundations of this new iteration of the internet can improve designs of the past. Much attention has been paid to how Web3.0 will democratise the internet as it allows users to harness the power of blockchain technologies and applications. Moving away from a centralised online framework to one where users can own their content and retain control could transform our online sphere, and indeed the way businesses and consumers interact.

Power to the people

Web3.0 offers the chance to redistribute power from the few tech giants (Google, Meta, and Twitter etc) that monopolised Web2.0 and award it to the users. Let’s look at the reasons behind why this is possible:

1) Web3.0 will likely improve data ownership. Having a few entities that controlled data in Web2.0 meant that companies, most notably Meta, transitioned simply from being social networks into mass distributors of their users’ information. Conversely, the ‘creator economy’ that provides the backbone of Web3.0 has seen the creators leveraging their own data. This way, users can protect and monetise their creations as they please.

2) Financial incentives for online dwellers. Make no mistake, Web2.0 invigorated entrepreneurial ambition across the world through e-commerce, drop-shipping, and many other avenues. This was, however, mostly limited the by strict control of the overlords.

Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs), which are legal structures that have no central governing body, empower members of different blockchain communities to work together on deciding the future of their respective entities. This bottom-up management approach enables a fairer, and more attractive model for investing in and selling commerce within Web3.0’s portfolio.

3) Improving transparency. The fundamental blocks of Web3.0, such as decentralised finance (DeFi) and other blockchain technologies, will be interoperable and powered by smart contracts. Essentially, this means that ledgers will have shared access for all stakeholders. This enables greater transparency of the commerce in question, consequently leading to more investment and less reliance on the big tech intermediaries.

Use cases that are enabling this revolution

DeFi in Web3.0 will involve people owning a digital wallet such as ‘MetaMask’ or ‘Coinbase Wallet’, further entrenching the notion of decentralisation in Web3.0, with people gaining full control of their finances and removing the role of the outside forces who take a cut.

Despite the volatile nature of the crypto market right now, there are plenty of cryptocurrencies that will dominate Web3.0 due their permissionless nature, transparency, and inclusivity. Aside from the frontrunners, Bitcoin and Ethereum, other networks such as Solana appear to be weathering the storm, so much so that it is expanding its portfolio by introducing Web3.0’s first mobile phone. DeFi has its sights on bigger and better things in the age of Web3.0.


NFTs can enable users to provide proof of ownership for content, including but not limited to, AI art, data and gaming. Powering NFTs is incredibly useful, and potentially misunderstood, technology that is unique and inimitable. This technology could liberate content creators from the chains of intermediaries who often exploit their ideas and creations – a dynamic that has been exacerbated in Web2.0 by the Tech giants. For example, Snoop Dogg has a highly successful NFT collection and has shown record labels that music ownership can be better managed using blockchain technology.

A fairer marketing landscape

To understand how Web3.0 fits into a wider, business context, we can look at how these new functions will impact digital marketing. A key issue of digital marketing is being able to personalise ads to hit the target audiences, with 63% of marketers still struggling with personalisation.

Given the shift in data control, Web3.0 would make it even more difficult for marketers to gather and store data. Third party cookies will be a thing of the past in Web3.0, so B2B marketers will need to be more innovative in how they reach their audiences. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for marketers, however. This innovation required will involve embracing new blockchain applications and brands that will enable organisations to become closer to the trends of users, therefore alleviating concerns of losing that personalised touch.

As a result of this change, consumers will receive more valuable and engaging ads. In turn, this could generate better trust between consumers and businesses as the ads are more honest and truer to the users’ preferences. Ultimately, Web3.0 could enable better ROI for advertisers on account of the more precise nature of their campaigns. B2B marketing will, indeed, require a slight makeover if it is to adapt successfully to this new iteration.

Evolving with the times

‘Hype’ is an easy thing to overvalue, especially today. However, if harnessed properly, and if blockchain founders avoid the balance of power sliding in favour of a few bad actors, Web3.0 could reimagine the way the way we use the internet. From better B2B marketing, to increased personal wealth from DeFi, Web3.0 could manifest itself as an inclusive, connected, and prosperous version of our World Wide Web.

If you need support transforming your company’s B2B marketing as we enter Web3, Get in touch with our team. Our blockchain specialists are on hand to help!

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Singapore: Asia’s Silicon Valley

Sanjana Rao, Associate Account Executive, Technology

As the home of some of technology’s greatest advancements and inventions that changed the world, Silicon Valley has become synonymous with innovation. And, whilst numerous cities have tried to replicate both its technological advancements and name, from the Silicon Valley of India (Bangalore), to Silicon Alley (a term coined in the 1990s during the dot-com boom in New York City) and Silicon Valley North (used to describe Ottawa during the 1990s), the term hasn’t quite stuck. Recently, however, Singapore has gained the coveted status of ‘The Silicon Valley of Asia’.

With Southeast Asia’s tech start-ups predicted to be valued at $1 trillion by 2025, Singapore is key to the region’s success. The country’s successful financial sector, government support and compelling policies which attract tech companies, and advanced infrastructure ensures its triumph as the next global technology capital. However, Singapore, much like San Francisco did, seems to be carving its own path within the technology world.

This blog will explore how Singapore is on its way to becoming a global technology hub and giving Silicon Valley a run for its money.

Singapore’s secret to tech success

Singapore’s rapid development in the late 20th century transformed it into a major manufacturing and financial hub. But the continued drive to invent and innovate – which are ingrained in Singapore’s culture – have helped to foster a collaborative environment for both startups and established companies within the technology industry.

Additionally, thanks to its advanced IT infrastructure and intellectual property laws, Singapore offers tech companies an attractive base for development products and solutions. With an increasing number of tech companies, Singapore’s government is promoting tech courses to help close the skills gap and continue the country’s trajectory as the technology capital of Asia.

As a small nation, with a population of just over 5 million, Singapore knows it needs to attract tech talent from across the world as well as upskilling its own citizens. The country’s Tech.Pass is targeted towards tech entrepreneurs and leaders allowing them to come to Singapore to work on trailblazing technology further encouraging the growth of its technology sector.

What’s next for technology in Singapore?

With an extraordinary story of growth, innovation and resilience, it is clear that Singapore has its sights set on becoming a Smart Nation.

As Singapore encourages citizens as well as businesses to implement technology to make lives easier, from investing in robots to help plug the foreign worker gap during the pandemic to finding ways to integrate virtual and augmented reality into everyday life, it is inevitable that the country’s digital transformation will see large continued growth.

As it works towards ensuring a fully digital society, economy and government, the prospect of attracting tech talent will only grow as workers and companies look for seamlessly advanced ecosystems to help their business goals and growth. With a booming technology sector, Singapore is leading the way towards becoming a Smart Nation and, undeniably, has the potential to become the true technology hub of Southeast Asia and perhaps even globally.

If you are keen to branch out and build your technology presence in Singapore, then talk to us at Aspectus where we can expertly guide you through your tech communications from our Singapore PR agency to help quickly boost your next stage of growth. Get in touch here.

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A PR Playbook for B2B Techs Expanding into the US

By Richard Etchison, Senior Account Manager and Content Specialist

A high-growth B2B tech company that has successfully made a mark in Europe and is ready to enter the US market has a mammoth undertaking ahead. The US market differs from Europe for a variety of reasons, and its media landscape works differently. With so many companies and thought leaders vying for space, reporters are typically even more selective in the sources they choose to include and stories they highlight. There are fewer publications to pitch and a more competitive media landscape.

As such, in the US the focus is more on quality of exposure rather than sheer quantity. A comprehensive integrated communications and PR program is a key component of introducing a brand to the US and laying the groundwork for a successful expansion. Here are some best practices and fundamentals we have gleaned from helping B2B tech clients navigate the challenging nuances of the US media market to make the big move across the pond.

Get your message house in order

A big move like an expansion into a foreign country is a good time to revisit your existing messaging framework and make some refinements to reflect the new communications objectives as well as the new geography. The company needs to know who and what it wants to be in the US, and how it is different from the competition.

It’s wise to adapt your current PR messaging house document to the US market, since the US media narratives will look decidedly different. If a company does not yet have a master messaging house, a move to the US is a good excuse to produce one. A messaging house is a master comms bible of sorts in which a company codifies how it communicates with its target audiences. It’s a great starting point for your in-house PR team or B2B PR agency to clearly depict your mission, vision, goals, how you’ll achieve those goals in the US market, differentiating the company in a crowded landscape.

Get PR boots on US ground for local media relations

A European B2B tech firm hoping to make waves in the US needs communication boots on the ground in the states. The PR professionals wearing those boots must be fully plugged into the US mediascape, its customs, its journalists, and trending conversations. A productive partner knows the media landscape inside and out, is meeting with reporters regularly, and can conduct media relations from key geographic areas where the media are.

The company should designate media spokespeople specific for the US market, and they should be dynamic executive leaders based in the US office. One of the first tactics for expanding into the US is to set up some introductory meetings with the media and analysts.

Take an integrated communications approach

For those rising companies that dare take their B2B talents to America, we recommend an integrated communications approach to build engagement with new audiences. We favor a holistic combination of PR, social and web strategy, including foundational SEO work to support differentiating a company in a crowded landscape. Preferably, the B2B has something shiny to attract media attention, since even a well-known UK company’s move into the North American region is not necessarily newsworthy on its own merit. Ideally, the company is also announcing a triple digit multi-million-dollar money raise, a big acquisition, or an iconic new CEO. In either case, the grand entrance should not merely consist of a press release without a fully conceived integrated communications program.

Leverage the American marquee client

Just as important as having an American office address is having a big-name American client success story to tell. While not mandatory to move into the US, the ability to trumpet a major US client is an excellent way to announce your arrival. While a client success narrative may not be enough to win media coverage on its own, naming a known brand client in the announcement will confer more credibility.

Additionally, featuring the client case study in communications and marketing content like the US web page, blog posts, LinkedIn, other social media, and awards will build SEO, attract more eyeballs, and drive leads. If a company is moving into the US market on the back of a new, big-name US client or partner, hitching your cart to their brand name is a great way to announce expansion.

Take the podium and hoist the trophy in the US

Other prongs of a comprehensive integrated communications program are conference speaking and industry awards, particularly important for B2B tech firms to win that implicit third party endorsement and insert your brand voice into industry discussions. The company should enter that dazzling US client case study in US-specific industry award programs.

It should also dip its toes into executive awards, workplace culture, and revenue growth awards to raise the visibility of its brand, attract talent, and win credibility for its product/service, thus elevating it into the higher consideration set for B2B buyers. Executive speaking engagements at relevant sector conferences can begin building thought leadership authority and introduce the executive’s and the company’s brand to American peers.

The differences between the US and European markets go well beyond English spelling divergences between digitization and digitisation. Before making the crossing, a European company must know its sector’s ecosystem and must know the US media landscape within that sector; and it must know how it can best communicate its differentiation and value proposition. But if your B2B tech can make solid expansion announcements as part of a comprehensive integrated communications program shepherded by an agency with US presence, which helps build a steady drumbeat of earned media, content, and engagement, then it can crack the US market.

If your company in considering a move into the US market, give us a shout to explore the possibilities.

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3 reasons why an apprenticeship is the perfect steppingstone for a career in PR and digital marketing

By Emilio Koumis, Apprentice

What to do after you leave school is a question that many students consider. Is university the right decision for them? Or is getting hands on experience in the form of an apprenticeship the way forward? Below are three key benefits of why an apprenticeship could be for you.

1) Hands on experience

Hands on experience in a real-world setting is important in any industry you go in to, and an apprenticeship can provide just that! It is invaluable for understanding the fundamentals of PR and developing the skills necessary to succeed within the sector. You are given the opportunity to work alongside experienced professionals, learning how to craft effective press releases, pitch stories to media outlets and communicate efficiently. Similarly, an apprenticeship in digital marketing would provide you with the chance to learn about SEO, PPC, and social media advertising.

Learning happens when you’re doing. Actively performing these tasks will allow you to get an idea on the things you are confident in and enjoy but more importantly, the things you struggle with as well. Hands on experience allows you to identify the sectors in which you may not be as familiar with and quickly receive help from the professionals around you.

2) Building connections

Secondly, building connections is crucial in the corporate world. Although important in any career, it is particularly key in an industry as competitive as PR and digital marketing. Having a network in the industry will open doors for future job opportunities, as well as providing a sounding board for your ideas and a source of feedback on your work – things that may be difficult to obtain in a university setting. Building these relationships early on can give you a massive head start and a greater window for success in the future.

Most apprenticeships allow you to attend industry events, connecting you with other PR and marketing professionals as well as potential clients – this is another way to expand your network and gain valuable knowledge in the field.

3) Earn while you learn

Unlike a traditional degree, an apprenticeship allows you to earn while you learn. This helps eliminate the financial burden of a student loan, which according to the UK Parliament website, is forecasted to be around £43,400 on average, once students complete their course in 23/24. So instead of completing university at the cost of a £40,000 debt, you could be completing your apprenticeship with extra cash in the bank!

Additionally, many apprenticeship programmes also provide training and support that can help you pass any industry-specific qualifications such as the Chartered institute of Public Relations (CIPR) diploma or the hundreds of digital marketing courses online.

An apprenticeship Is an excellent choice for anyone looking to build a career in PR and digital marketing. It allows you to gain hands on experience, build a professional network and is a cost-effective way to enter the industry. With the right mindset and willingness to learn, an apprenticeship can be the perfect steppingstone to a successful career in PR and digital marketing.

Find out more about the scheme here and our application form.

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Emerging trends for 2023 in the B2B marketing space (insights from the B2B Marketing Expo)

By Emi Ikemoto, digital marketing account manager, and Hebe Hughes, digital marketing account executive.

Industry events can be a great opportunity to network and learn but, during the pandemic, they were significantly impacted, with many organisations opting for virtual equivalents instead – even long after the easing of restrictions. However, the B2B Marketing Expo was held in London and the bustle of energy was undeniable. Speakers from a vast range of companies shared their knowledge and insights into emerging trends for 2023 in the B2B marketing space. We attended, and below are our key learnings from the day.

B2B buying

A trend seen across businesses is that many are engaging with potential customers too late. Approximately 70% of the buying process is not visible to the supplier, i.e. you.

We’re all familiar with the term ‘buying group’, but how familiar are you with buying group blindness? Most B2B buying decisions are made by groups rather than individuals, and research has shown that buying group size increases as the deal size increases, as does the number of interactions required.

So, what is buying group blindness? It refers to the situation where marketers and sales teams qualify leads on an individual basis, rather than looking at a group level. For example, a single user that downloads ten pieces of content will be qualified as a ‘hot’ lead and be pursued heavily.

However, having multiple people from the same business downloading one piece of content each is more valuable than a single, highly interested individual from another company; downloads from multiple people represent interest from a larger group within one business.

The issue is that in many cases, they may be qualified individually rather than as a group. Taking a group-centric view of leads will ensure that interest from a prospective business will be assessed by the aggregate value of individual employees’ behaviour.

Brand marketing: leveraging the human memory and situational cues

Continuing on the topic of buying, it should be noted that approximately 95% of a B2B company’s target audiences are not in a state to buy at any given time. With that being said, when a potential customer is ready to buy, they typically already have a brand in mind when it comes to creating RFPs and only consider 1.7 alternative suppliers on average.

These statistics highlight the importance of building and maintaining strong brand awareness so that when the time comes, your company is at the forefront of your target buying centre’s minds. How? Leverage human memory and situational cues in the marketing strategy.

Memories are highly situational. Research into context and state-dependent memory reveals that memory recall is improved when external cues present at the time of memory formation are recreated. Therefore, linking your brand messaging to buying situations through impactful campaigns will help trigger a potential customer’s memory of your brand when they encounter a similar situation. When customers think about you is equally as important as what customers think about you.

Finally, on memory and brand awareness, recency trumps frequency when it comes to marketing activity. When memory corrodes, sales fall: a study that looked at sales compared against advertising activity revealed that all brands were impacted by memory corrosion as sales declined year-on-year after advertising was stopped; with the rate of decline greater for smaller brands. Another interesting finding was the cases where companies took a year break from advertising and then began activity again; this restarting did not reverse the trend of decline in many cases, highlighting the negative impact of losing momentum.

As tempting as it may be to take a step back from marketing when purse strings tighten, these findings evidence the importance of advertising to sales and growth, and that it can be more costly to try to regain sales after a pause in advertising as memory in your target audience has corroded, rather than to maintain them.

How to win more sales and customers from organic LinkedIn

With over 800 million users, LinkedIn is a key platform to help B2B businesses win more sales and help gain customers. To do this, following a formatted process can help to increase wins on LinkedIn and reach your company’s goals.

The first step is setting objectives, which are crucial to increase sales and build brand awareness; this will help to set you up for the journey ahead. It can be useful to work backwards when setting these objectives, thinking about what you want to achieve and what steps you are going to take to get there! In this step, working out your priorities is essential to help you move forward and achieve your goals.

Having a clear understanding of the tools you are going to use to reach these targets is the next step. Having a functional tool to enable the specific execution of a task; a valuable tool using specific content and connections; and a resourceful tool through relationships, joining groups, events, and associations.

Your personal profile is the equivalent of an online landing page. It needs to showcase your credibility and authority and is the perfect way to represent yourself in the market you are targeting. Through this, you can connect with the people who are valuable to you and who will help to leverage your business. Seek out the people who you want to engage with and do just that!

Reviewing what works and doesn’t work is the final step to make sure you reach your goals on LinkedIn. This evaluation process ensures that what you are doing is correct and allows you to make any necessary changes in order to reach your objectives more successfully.

Value drives value

An important element for every company should be marketing with purpose and following a purpose-led decision strategy by placing organisational purpose at the core of everything they do. Hearing from the advertising team at Microsoft, they put purpose at the centre of the company and see glowing results. This helps to create a shared meaning between the customer and the brand. With purpose comes trust and loyalty.

Research by Microsoft has found that having trust in a product can increase sales by a substantial amount, a drive long term success. For example, there is a potential increase in sales by 4.7x in the financial service sector, highlighting the importance of trust and loyalty. From loyalty comes growth in responsibility, value and inclusion. These are all essential to any company and should be prioritised to help increase sales and create a positive environment for both the employees and the customer.

Want support with putting these insights into action? Get in touch with us to help you elevate your B2B marketing and achieve a successful 2023.

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ESG communications: don’t try and keep up with the Joneses… but do keep an eye on them

By Chris Bowman, Strategy & Content Director 

ESG communications can seem a tangled knot of paradoxes at times. Case in point: ESG can only succeed through standardization and comparability of data, yet at the same time it must be accurate and sincere – and sincerity requires specificity.  

Don’t try and keep up with the Joneses…

Credible ESG initiatives are necessarily highly specific to a company’s unique circumstances. There is no one-size-fits all way to decarbonise, for example – each company will have its own mix of scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions sources and need to cut accordingly. Social and governance contexts are equally idiosyncratic. ESG communications must reflect this specificity, too. 

Therefore, it is a doomed strategy to simply copy the competition. ESG communications can appear new and fraught with pitfalls, and so it can be tempting to wait and see what the other guys are doing and simply copy and paste. You’ll never be a leader that way, you may reason, but equally you’ll never be left behind or risk poking your head above the parapet. However, the reasoning is flawed. If you cleave too closely to competitors’ ESG communications – which are specific to them – the risk is that the same messages and tactics ring hollow and inauthentic in the context of your brand.  

Again: one size does not fit all, and ESG communications should be as bespoke as possible to the individual brand, while respecting common metrics and language. They should incorporate and reflect the company’s overall brand strategy and messaging, speak to the specifics of their ESG initiatives and why the way Company A designed Initiative X respects the unique situation, resources and ambitions of that company. 

…but do keep an eye on them

That said, don’t swing too far the other way. No brand is big and important enough to get away with being utterly introspective and ignoring the wider world.  

In the context of ESG communications, this can be critical. Rightly or wrongly, your ESG efforts will be evaluated against the competition. Investors, customers and other stakeholders must be convinced that you offer an equal or better option than the competition in terms of the ESG factors they care about.  

In simple terms, this can descend to war of numbers. Company A has cut 30% of its emissions versus Company B’s 22%; Company C has a 50/50 board gender ratio while Company D has only 40/60. This is agreeable enough if you’re winning, but simple numbers can hide complex truths.  

If you are in Company B or D’s shoes, you might benefit from telling a more nuanced narrative that adds context to the numbers. Perhaps Company C already had a 45/55 ratio and improvement is slow, whereas D has invested heavily to improve. Perhaps C is in a country where culture and working practices make it easier for women in the workplace versus D’s. Context is critical – which brings us back to specificity.  

But you can’t introduce that narrative if you’re unaware of the framing that is already out there. Has the competition already established the framing? Or is there still white space for your brand to take the initiative?  

You’ll only know if you’re looking at what the competition is doing. So, while you don’t want to try and keep up with the Joneses, you should keep an eye on them. 

Facing ESG communications challenges? Read our whitepaper or contact the team – we can help. 

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Clarity is key: when advertising campaigns go wrong

By Jamee Kirkpatrick, Senior Account Director, Energy and Industrials

As someone who is lives locally to where BrewDog was founded and is still producing beers, I’ve had an eye on their marketing tactics over the years. Agree with them or don’t, but BrewDog has been known to find themselves in the hot seat on more than one occasion.  

Some would argue that their stunts over the years were rarely right (although, I may argue that they got people’s attention, and it helped them become a household brand – whether that’s ‘punk’ or not) but the brewing giant has come under fire again with their latest advertising blunder 

What went wrong for BrewDog?

This time, the issues for BrewDog came following a mailer sent in July 2022 titled ‘Feeling Fruity’ which was advertising its Hazy Jane Guava beer alongside a host of other fruity numbers. What was the issue? BrewDog sent the email with the subject ‘One of your five a day’ 

BrewDog countered the complaints saying that they believed that recipients would understand that alcoholic beverages were not equivalent to portions of fruit or vegetables, emphasising that the subject was not intended to be a factual claim about the beers.  

Understandably, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), who is the independent regulator of advertising across all media, agreed that this was misleading and has upheld the complaint stating: “The ASA acknowledged that the subject heading “One of your five a day” might be interpreted by some consumers as a humorous nod to the fruit flavoured beers featured in the body of the email. However, because the claim referred to well-known government advice on health and wellbeing, we considered that, in general, consumers would not expect advertisers to include such claims unless the advertised product was recognised as meeting the requirements of that advice. Further, the claim appeared in the email’s subject heading, which we considered positioned it as a key element of the ad’s message.” You can read the ruling here 

When advertising goes badly

This isn’t the first time, and it certainly won’t be the last, that advertising has gone wrong.  

The Netflix docuseries ‘Pepsi, Where’s my Jet’ which was released recently revisits the story of John Leonard, who at 20-years-old attempted to win a fighter jet in a Pepsi sweepstake and he set the stage for a David versus Goliath court battle for the history books against the food and drinks company, all because a lack of clarity – or small print – in the ad. I’m sure we all remember Pepsi’s other marketing blunder which included a Kardashian and some very questionable editorial choices. 

Some of the biggest household brands have been getting caught up in controversy centred around poor editorial decisions which have led customers to question the ethics of said companies as well as focus on issues such as sexism, racism and just downright bad taste in ads.  

In just the last few years beauty brands such as Nivea, supermarkets like Coop, retailers such as H&M and notably recently, fashion house, Balenciaga, have found themselves facing backlash or embroiled in not only complaints to the ASA but full on court battles as a result. 

Why is getting your advertising – or messaging – right so important?

Advertising is everywhere. From tv and magazines, to social media and your online search engine, there is no avoiding it and it’s a powerful tool for businesses. Effective advertising makes people remember your name… but so does bad advertising 

If you don’t work in marketing, you might not know how many stages there are in creating the perfect ad, but let’s just say, it goes through a lot of people from concept to delivery, so when that backlash hits, you know that somewhere there are a lot of people with their head in their hands.  

In some instances, you could argue that the message is subjective. Take BrewDog. They thought they were making a joke, but does that make it okay?  

As we’ve seen, the ASA doesn’t think so. Yes, brands need to have room to express themselves or have personality, but even those harmless ‘jokes’ have come back to have some very serious repercussions on brands.  

Small print exists on television or picture ads for a reason. Managing your messaging and hyper-analysing your social media ad copy or your email subject lines requires a level of scrutiny that some brands may not feel is necessary, but when the brand reputation is on the line, how important is that joke, really?  

Getting it right is crucial. As is working with the right people – or agency – to help you challenge your ‘good ideas’. Sometimes, we all need to be tempered and that’s where a specialist communications agency comes in.  

If you’re looking to up your communications or advertising game next year but don’t want to find yourself embroiled in drama, speak to our integrated team today to find out how we can help you grow your brand presence and generate leads through our results-based approach!    

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