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The Do’s and Don’ts of Social Journalism

The way we read the news has changed. The rise of citizen journalism has meant that now anyone with an @ handle can report in real time from breaking news events, spreading the word faster and to a wider audience than any reporter with a humble notepad could dream of doing.

This shift has meant that we’re now hungrier than ever for current content that’s seconds old and instantly accessible. However, this doesn’t mean that anyone on social can capture the attention of the media.

PRs still remain the number one resource for journalists to obtain news, so there’s no reason why social media shouldn’t be used as a method for industry professionals to have a say in what makes the headlines, as well as Joe Bloggs at the local derby game. In as much as journalism has changed with the rise of social channels, so must PR change, and communication between the two.

In a recent webinar by Cision, we learnt that Twitter was the top social media news source for journalists thanks to its professional yet personable nature, with LinkedIn following suit although only really working when sending a direct message to a journalist you’re already connected with.

Facebook, perhaps not surprisingly, wasn’t recommended for pitching to journalists, so there’s no need to hide all the pictures of your night out with the girls just yet.

Along with this information, we’d thought we’d share some of our top tips for pitching to journalists on social media:

Do…
Use dedicated hashtags
such as #PRrequest or #journorequest to increase the exposure of your newsworthy content.

Take time to do research and find out what’s already been said about the subject. No one’s interested in old news.

Contact journalists directly if you know their @ handle. They’re humans too (no, really) so think of them as individuals; the sports writer will be interested in a scoop straight from the big game, but perhaps not the fashion editor.

Pair social pitching with other methods. Whilst social has its place, email is not lost for what can’t be said in 140 characters.

Don’t…
Hard sell. Social media is not, and never will be, a direct sales tool. Create a conversation with those you want to reach to get them engaged.

Become a tweet-bomber. We all know them, those accounts that send the same tweets to numerous profiles in a hope they’ll get some interaction and pick up. Be tactile, not desperate.

Use your personal account, coming from a recognised account, such as one associated with an email you’ve contacted a journalist before, will add authority and authenticity to the content and make follow-up for images and extra content easier.

To find out more about pitching to journalists on social media, drop our PR team an email at PR@interdirect.co.uk.

Will We Buy the Apple Watch or Watch Our Pennies Instead?

Despite years of speculation that the giant is on his way out, Apple remains the world’s most valuable brand in 2015. From the sad passing of innovator Steve Jobs and disappointing reviews of the iPhone 5c, to the insurgence of competitors Samsung and Microsoft into the smartphone arena, there has been much criticism that Apple has lost its edge.


With the release of the long awaited Apple Watch in sight, we got to thinking: “are we bored of the minimalist advertising, simplistic branding and assurance that we need all things Apple in our lives?” This was presumably the view of Brand Finance in 2013, when they clipped Apple’s plus sign and downgraded the brand to AAA rating.


For us, the Apple Watch raises similar questions as the iPod did, back in 2000; who wants this? Who will buy it? What’s so different about this product? The branding alone no longer convinces us. The watch itself looks like a miniature iPhone 6, with sleek curved edges to the screen, and rounded corners. Yes, it’s what we might have expected from Apple, but does it go any further?


The watch doesn’t work without an iPhone 5 or later model as its sidekick, and like all BFFs it has to be within close proximity of its buddy to work. So although this is being hailed as Apple’s next voyage, we can’t help thinking that they are building a new product that is not independent of existing platforms. So we ask again, what’s new?


There are, granted, some new features which tickle our fancy. The screen is pressure sensitive, with hard or soft taps resulting in different commands. The digital crown also provides a scrolling feature. You can set calorie goals, and your Watch will give you a ‘nudge’ when you’ve been inactive too long. Contactless payment is available in the USA, due to arrive in the UK later this year, which is a great gimmick that doubtless thousands will pay for alone.


However, how long can brand loyalty be retained when the products fail to stand out as they used to? For CEO Tim Cook, Apple failing to convince buyers that they need the Watch ahead of its release date is not a sign that the brand is dwindling in its power over consumer desires.


In an interview with Fast Company, Tim talked about the Watch and said “people didn’t realise they had to have an iPod, and they really didn’t realise they had to have the iPhone. And the iPad was totally panned. Honestly, I don’t think anything revolutionary that we have done was predicted to be a hit when released. It was only in retrospect that people could see its value. Maybe this will be received the same way.”


We increasingly expect our gadgets to do more, to help more, to entertain more. Fast Company interviewers Rick Tetzeli and Brent Schlender feel this is going to be Apple’s growing problem – they are “fighting gravity” if they plan to meet these needs with excellence and excitement across the board. Curating 1.5 million apps is without a doubt a serious undertaking, and Apple’s growth will continue to have a practical impact on its flexible, non-bureaucratic, and trendy persona. So the question on our lips is: “are our expectations surpassing the brand’s forward-thinking limitations?”


Ahead of the Watch’s release date of 24 April, “what we don't yet know is whether Apple can convince the world it needs one” says Will Findlater. Despite our reticence and consideration for other brands, it’s highly possible that we are subconsciously hooked. It’s certainly hard to ignore facts: the iPhone 6 set a new world record for quarterly profits at $18 billion. If there’s one brand that can convince us we need something, be it before or after the release date, it’s Apple.


‘Watch’ this space…

Celebrations All Round at MK Business Achievement Awards

Last week, Interdirect was proud to be involved in the second Milton Keynes Business Achivement Awards.

 

The awards, organised by the Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership in association with Interdirect and Evolution Live, were held at the DoubleTree by Hilton, stadium:mk where a sell-out ceremony of more than 580 attendees gathered to celebrate the best of the Milton Keynes business community.

Congratulations to The Bletchley Park Trust who were named Business of the Year, sponsored by The Open University, as well as taking home the Leisure & Entertainment award sponsored by MK Dons/ Arena MK.

Katie Adie, who hosted the evening, announced the other winners of the night as:

g2 Energy - Environmental, sponsored by PJ Care

The Parks Trust
- Community Impact, sponsored by Destination MK

Worldwide Logistics & Distribution
- Logistics & Distribution, sponsored by Howes Percival

Shoosmiths LLP
- Professional Practice, sponsored by Keens Shay Keens

Formula Fast Indoor Karting - New Business, sponsored by MK Council

Giovanni’s Downtown Gelato
- Independent Retailer, sponsored by thecentre:mk

Bletchley Park Trust
- Leisure & Entertainment, sponsored by MK Dons/Arena MK

Bistro Live
- Hospitality, sponsored by MK College

FSG Property Services - Private Business, sponsored by PwC

White Leopard - Design & Creativity, sponsored by Freeths

DR Studios - Innovation & Technology, sponsored by Nifty Lift

Interdirect was involved in the organisation and implementation of the event in creating an innovative website for the awards, being part of the event organisation committee, designing the trophies, managing the social media channels and creating a multi-channel PR strategy for the Awards.

The evening was also held on a certain Mann's birthday, so there were celebrations all round for the agency and winners alike.

To find out more about the awards and see all the photos from the sell-out event, visit www.mkbaa.co.uk or follow @MK_BAA on Twitter.

Day of Reckoning for Mobile-Unfriendly Websites: Google Mobile Search Update

If your ears have been open to SEO intercom in recent weeks, you’ll know that it’s full of chatter about the latest Google algorithm update, due to attack non-mobile-friendly websites in just over five weeks’ time.


“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.”


For the more discerning business, mobile should have been a strong factor in the design and build of websites for the last year or two, however this latest update – which is to have a “significant impact” on SERPs – crystallises the importance of having a site suitable for multiple devices which meets Google’s needs, as well as those of your users. Websites with “mobile friendly” layouts, navigation and functionality will be rewarded with a metaphorical gold star next to their listing, and higher rankings.
 


Desktop and mobile searches balanced each other out in early 2014.


However much it was expected, the update is arguably one of the biggest changes in many years. No amount of SEO will save your site if your ultimate goals aren’t aligned with the habits of today and tomorrow’s search engine users – forget yesterday’s user. And this doesn’t just amount to making sure your content is great, and your copy supports semantic search: web design and build must be done with mobile search in mind.


April 21 will be the day of reckoning for businesses and developers alike, when having invested in responsive sites and mobile device display will pay dividends. For those that haven’t, all is not lost since the mobile algorithm will crawl and index sites on a real-time and page-by-page basis, confirmed Google’s Gary Illyes.


This suggests that sites that have yet to make the leap to a mobile optimised site will not be penalised on a long-term basis for being behind the curve, however moving quickly is essential. In addition, optimising for mobiles does not need to be an instant, site-wide shift: prominent pages can be made mobile friendly to ease the initial blow to SERPs, since these pages will rank individually as mobile-friendly.   


The question for those who have already taken this leap may well be: “how will the divide between mobile sites and responsive sites play out after the rollout?” If you ask us, this will depend on how prepared each site is for the update since both must be treated differently, for example subdomain mobile sites will need canonical tags to the desktop URLs whilst responsive sites will not.


As is obvious, those with mobile sites will be more able to shape their mobile offering by tracking mobile search keywords and user behaviour, however the benefit of this hugely time-consuming task will only be seen in the coming months.


App indexing is certainly nothing new to SEOs, however this step has been largely overlooked since apps were not subject to the same crawlers until now. Deep links will be essential as of April 21 to ensure that your app is showing up to users looking for mobile-specific interfaces – this is, after all, what it is meant for!
Whether SERPs see a tidal wave or a lapping of water on April 21 will give an indication of how prepared and forward-thinking businesses have been in terms of meeting user needs and expectations.


The Mobile-Friendly Test tool from Google can be used to measure how ready your website is for the update. If your site is deemed not mobile-friendly, you can definitely place “finding a mobile-experienced developer” at the top of your To Do list! Did I mention we have 5 of those?

Interdirect Recruits Heather Whittington

Heather Whittington, account manager

Interdirect is pleased to welcome Heather Whittington to our client services team as an account manager.
Heather joins us with a wealth of agency experience, predominantly in digital marketing, having worked at Milton Bayer and BBH to name but a few.

We took five minutes over a cup of tea to get to know Heather a little better…

Born and bred: I was born just outside of Hereford, but have lived all over the place, even Germany! Now I’m based just outside of Towcester.

Favourite food: Can I say everything?! It will be easier to tell you the few things I don’t like – beetroot, liver and broad beans.

Pub-Friday beverage of choice: Red wine or some bubbles.

Name one thing on your bucket list: Go to a worm charming festival (we didn’t ask).

First impressions of ID: Very funky, and where I felt I wanted to be.

What you’ll bring to the team: A vast amount of agency insider-knowledge, having worked with lots of clients from large blue-chip companies to one man bands, both B2C and B2B. I’m also willing to pitch in and help with any project I can, and want to learn more about becoming a full service account manager, picking up tips from PR and offline marketing.

The thing I love the most about my job is: The variety that each client brings to the table.

When I’m not at ID, you’ll find me: In my onesie!

Something you might not know about me: I once met the 1966 World Cup winning football team.

heather.whittington@interdirect.co.uk

 

 

Interdirect Hosts Coal Grill & Bar Re-launch Event

Interdirect hosts Coal re-launch rvent

This week, our PR team organised an exciting re-launch event for Coal Grill & Bar at Xscape Milton Keynes as part of the agency's PR activity for the region's leading entertainment destination.

The restaurant, which opened in 2013, had a makeover to bring a new look and feel to the Coal dining experience with a new cocktail bar, relaxed lounge area, and increased seating capacity in view of the open plan 'theatre-style' kitchen.

Interdirect hosted a red carpet event for Coal at which guests from some of MK's best-known organisations and local media had the chance to sample the menu and take a look at the restaurant's facilities.

Ruby Hawley, marketing manager for Coal Grill & Bar said; "The re-launch event was a chance for us to showcase our restaurant to some long-standing customers as well as those that have never visited us before. We’d like to thank Interdirect for making the event such a success and look forward to similar events in the future.”

To see more photos from the event visit our Facebook page. To find out how we can make your event a success email us at PR@interdirect.co.uk.