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Friday, 17th May 2013 at 8:01am
The value of your company and products’ reputation should not be underestimated. Reputation should be treated as an asset. Reputation is everyone’s responsibility. A good reputation buys you the benefit of the doubt when things go wrong.
The toughest lesson is to learn that sometimes it’s not what has happened that is the issue – it’s what people think has happened. Perception is everything.
What is an issue that can affect an organisation’s reputation?
“A condition or event, internal or external to the organisation, that if it continues will have a significant effect on the functioning or performance of the organisation or on its future interests”.
- Staff dispute
- Shortage of stock
- Supplier goes out of business
- Negative comments published online
- Computer virus
- Change in working hours for staff
- Health and Safety
Sign up to relevant Google alerts around your organisation’s name. If appropriate use other software available that will help you monitor mentions online. Be prepared to respond to comments if needed but you must be straightforward about who you are and never let emotional language influence what you are saying.
Do you know who your organisation’s stakeholders are? If not, find out. Stakeholder groups can include employees, clients/customers, opinion formers such as trade associations and professional bodies, your local community, investors in your organisation and key media who will act as commentators on what you are doing.
Don’t wait until there is a problem to engage with people; be proactive wherever you can. This also means getting together with colleagues in other departments to share and help identify potential causes for concern, even if an issue does not actually materialise.
You can gather information to help identify and manage risks via:
- Staff surveys
- Industrial relations
- Customers’ feedback
- Product development teams
- HR and Legal teams
- Health and Safety audits
Think about developing a crisis plan – you may need to get in expert external help. At least have a record of people/agencies that can help you if needed.
What threats can you anticipate? What do you know based on past experience? Do you know how to handle journalists, or who is the nominated person in your organisation that looks after this? This all goes back to having regular dialogue with your colleagues in other departments too – not just when the problem has happened.
Five core tips to get you started:
1. How much access during work time do your employees have to engage with social media and company data?
Blocking access to the internet or certain sites is often seen as the domain of the IT manager, but in today’s workplace this goes beyond merely the computer at your desk.In our networked environment people can access content and store information and data via their phone, tablet or laptop at any time of day. Therefore the rules are changing and your organisation needs to adapt.Expert Jamie Claret (www.amazingsupport.co.uk) suggests for starters you need think about:Good antivirus softwareSimple blocking systemsAdvanced blocking and monitoringPreventing sensitive data leaving your businessThe impact data leakage and wasted time during work hours versus empowering staff with access to these sources.
2. Does your organisation have a clear social media policy?
Social media encompasses a broad range of online activities, all of which can have a marked impact on the credibility, perceptions and awareness of an organisation. Outside the workplace rights to privacy and free speech can protect online activity conducted in someone’s personal social network with that person’s personal email address. However, the inevitable connections that can and are made with someone’s workplace can blur the boundaries. What is your organisation’s policy on this?
3. Have these policies been communicated to all staff?
Are they part of your induction programme?Your policy and procedures need to be communicated – don’t just rely on a document that sits in the drawer. Building this into your employee induction programme or at a team update meeting brings this to the forefront of people’s minds.Are your employees aware of the potential negative impact that online comments can have? Where social media interaction is not used exclusively for business, it is important to provide reasonable guidelines on online behaviour if any reference is made to the workplace. Furthermore you may need to draw attention to matters regarding confidentiality as they relate to your organisation or business, and how this can also cover photos or images posted online for example.
4. Are you aware of how other stakeholders might be looking at your organisation through social media?
Media management is likely to rest with either an external agency or your in-house communications team, or for smaller enterprises with a nominated employee or manager. The press have increasingly turned to social media channels not only regarding breaking news, but also to uncover more intimate details about an organisation.This can also be true of any stakeholders. And content posted online is hard to have removed… therefore you need to be as aware of what is being said about the organisation online, as others will be. Do you have any mechanisms in place to facilitate this?
5. Are you ready to act if something potentially negative happens?
You need to have a contingency plan; whether it’s customers commenting on a faulty product or poor service, or a disgruntled employee out to stir up some reactions or actually carrying out some form of deception. How will you react? Who needs to be aware of a problem as and when it occurs and importantly who should be tasked with sorting it out? Do you have an issues management team and plan? Does this plan map onto the online world?
Friday, 10th May 2013 at 11:31am
As part of The Think Tank's sponsorship of B2B Marketing's Knowledge Bank PR Channel, our PR Director Samantha Dawe has produced a Whitepaper titled 'PR in a changing media landscape'.
The Whitepaper looks at the need for a new mindset in a changing media world. Many commentators have spoken about the basic model for media and marketing being broken. While media fragmentation is seen as a challenge, an expanding range of media options is also an opportunity.
The Whitepaper is free to download either from the B2B Marketing web site or by clicking the link below:
PR in a changing media landscape.pdf (254 kb)
Thursday, 2nd May 2013 at 10:50am
This piece has been written by Samantha Dawe, The Think Tank's PR Director.
Working with the press can be a great way to get stories about your products and your organisation across. But before you leap in for a chat take a few minutes to think through what you are going to say.
Using the press effectively to get your point across is a skill. In most cases, you only get one go at this in an interview, so you need to get it right first time when you are speaking to journalists directly.Whether you’re speaking at a planned face-to-face interview, a quick chat catch up at an industry event or a short briefing over the telephone, you will be in the spotlight. Here’s a short memory-refresher on the dos and don’ts of dealing with a press interview.
Prepare, prepare, prepare
Wherever possible build in time to do some preparation before you meet the journalist. Read the publication they are writing for. Ideally find out what the journalist wants to cover in advance so you can be ready with the right sort of information for them. If you don’t know this in advance, ask them when you meet or speak to check. This will also give you time to collect your thoughts. Have you had some media training? It’s worth it if you are in any type of marketing role.
Know your facts and figures
Remember you can talk to a journalist about any information that has already been announced, and bringing in other examples as context can often help illustrate a point. Again, have facts and figures to hand (be prepared wherever possible) so you can refer to them.
Try to speak in short sentences and repeat key points that convey your view. This helps to minimise the risk of being quoted inaccurately. Resist the temptation to go on and on about your favourite theme unless this is the only subject to be covered in the interview.
Raise points that you feel may be of interest
The journalist may have done some preparation but you are also able to raise points on a subject too. Make sure they that are relevant to the journalist’s train of thought; showing them you are trying to give them as much information as you can is usually perceived as helpful as long as you don’t go overboard.
Bring in how you see the industry or your sector developing, if appropriate. This sort of insight also shows that you and your company are continuing to keep track and responding to change. Don’t speculate though unless you are happy to see your speculations in print.
Don’t talk about areas you don’t know about
Don’t make forecasts about products, markets or sales, unless the information has been agreed beforehand and you can produce the data to back it up. If you don’t know much about a subject, say so. And wherever possible get someone in your company to speak to the journalist who is an expert.
And don’t be derogatory about the competition; it’s unprofessional. Just give factual information to the journalist, and let them make their own comparisons. Talking too much about the competition actually helps to sell it, so you may want to avoid that.
Don’t be evasive
If you don’t know something (see point 1 above) or you feel you need to get more information in front of you, say you will find out for the journalist and get back to them; check the deadline they are working on. This can also be used to ‘buy some time’ while you formulate an appropriate response to a tricky question. But if you promise further information, make sure it is followed up, even if it is to say that you need more time.
Use colourful phrases with care
Avoid the use of particularly colourful phrases unless you are absolutely sure you want them used. Otherwise, they may appear out of context or as headlines. A sub-editor may well select the juiciest quote from a journalist’s copy just for this purpose: “Widget Ltd’s Marketing Director Paul Smith says that they are murdering the competition”. Enough said.
Don’t go “Off-the record” unless you are really, really confident
This can be a dangerous trap – you are giving information ‘off-the-record’ for a journalist’s guidance, they should not publish it under any circumstances.
You have to tell the journalist the information is ‘off-the-record’ before you give them the information. The phrase should not be used retrospectively.
You should then say when the information you are discussing is ‘back on the record’ that means they can write up what you are saying.
A general rule of thumb is not using ‘off-the-record’ at all. In exceptional circumstances with a journalist that can really be trusted and you know – for example a trade press journalist you are in regular touch with and you know writes in a fair and informed way, and above all will respect this convention, you might be OK. But why chance it?
A Director I knew went ‘off the record’ with a journalist to say that he expected the privately-owned company he worked for would be floated in the next six months. It was a great story and appeared in print. You can imagine the fall out that happened when it was published.
This piece was written as part of The Think Tank's sponsorship of the PR Section of B2B Marketing's Knowledge Bank, and forms part of a series of guides, blog posts, case studies and a white papers.
Tuesday, 23rd April 2013 at 9:28am
B2B Marketing has produced an infographic on The State of B2B Social Media 2013, built from the data included in their 2013 B2B Marketing Social Media Benchmarking Report.
From the infographic we can see that Twitter is the most popular platform for B2B businesses, however there seems to be an increase in the prevalence of Google+ in the B2B market.
We also see that a lot of companies don't calculate the ROI from social media.
Click on the image to see the full Infographic, or click here.
Wednesday, 6th March 2013 at 12:23pm
In a recent survey by Pitney Bowes it was discovered that the majority of small businesses, from a sample of 500, did not have a marketing plan in place, with only 20% saying they did, whilst 35% admitted to dealing with marketing on an ad-hoc basis.
The study went on to find that SME's lose focus and prioritise low level tasks over marketing, including buying the stationary, cleaning and office repairs coming before marketing.
Whilst multitasking is important, it would appear that many are concentrating too much on the day-to-day running and not looking at the bigger picture. Always difficult when you are running a small business.
Read their full report here.
Wednesday, 27th February 2013 at 4:22pm
Superbrands UK has announced their annual league tables for brands in the UK.
The league tables are based upon many different factors from sector reports to blogs to public nominations, and are narrowed down to a preliminary shortlist of 1700.
Through ratings given by judges and then a public vote this number is whittled down to 500 'Superbrands'. These are then seeded in order of ratings, which results in the main
B2C (business to customer) table and a B2B (business to business) table.
All those involved in the voting process are asked to bear in mind the following definition: ‘A Superbrand has established the finest reputation in its field. It offers customers significant emotional and/or tangible advantages over its competitors, which customers want and recognise.’
The judging panel gives each brand a rating from 1-10, but members are not allowed to vote on brands they work with, competitor brands or those they are unfamiliar with, and the lowest scoring brands are removed from the shortlist.
In addition, the voters are asked to judge brands against the following three factors: quality, reliability and distinction.
The league tables show that Google, Apple and British Airways are highly rated as both B2C and B2B brands; all making it into the top 10 of both tables. Apple lost out to Rolex for the top spot in the consumer table, but was able to snatch first place the business table. The full tables are below, and you can read the full results here.
The B2C Superbrands are
4. British Airways
8. Heathrow Airport
17. Marks & Spencer
Whilst the B2B Superbrands are:
2. British Airways
5. Virgin Atlantic
9. London Stock Exchange Group
16. Rolls-Royce Group
17. Royal Mail
Thursday, 22nd November 2012 at 9:57am
The Think Tank will be managing the awards tonight for the 5th year and we're looking forward to a successful event with quite a few surprises.
This year we also developed the creative and theme around the awards with a retro 'Airline' feel that will have everyone up in the aisles tonight.
The theme runs right across the event, so if you are coming along tonight get ready to take off but please avoid any bumpy landings (at the after-show party).
Good luck to all the shortlisted entrants and have a great night.
From all at
The Think Tank Team.
Saturday, 17th November 2012 at 9:33am
B2B Marketing has issued a new report on Best Practice use of Pinterest.
It looks at one of the fastest growing social media platforms, Pinterest, and examines the potential benefits for B2B companies looking for another marketing channel to target their customers.
This best practice guide looks at the basic principles of using Pinterest, through to creating a content strategy to build up brand loyalty, develop better customer service and gain customers’ trust. They say, 'The platform enables businesses to share visual messages with their audience, which, in turn, develops the brand, drives engagement and can strengthen their thought leadership position.'
Details of the report:
Understand the fundamentals of using Pinterest – the origins of Pinterest and how to leverage it to achieve marketing objectives.
Use Pinterest for brand development – create a brand personality to communicate your brand message responsibly.
Measure audience engagement – look for users repinning your brand regularly and use this information to improve your targeting and branding strategies.
Interact with your customers and prospects – if you notice fans taking an interest in your brand (positive or negative) there are various ways you can strike up a conversation.
The guide covers:
Strategy – integrating Pinterest into your social media and content marketing strategy.
Metrics – measure the effectiveness of your social media activity to build better customer service and advance brand development.
Content and timing – deliver a constant stream of relevant, qualified and valuable content.
You can order the report here for £99.
Monday, 16th July 2012 at 8:25pm
Joel Harrison, Director of Editorial Content, B2B Marketing Magazine, discusses current trends and challenges in European business to business marketing at the International Business Marketing Association Conference.
He spoke about the impact of the European economic crisis on B2B marketing activity, the explosion of East London's tech city and digital entrepreneurship and how European attitudes towards social media have changed and much more.
See his presentation below.
Thursday, 12th July 2012 at 10:58am
Having managed the B2B Marketing Awards event for the past five years, The Think Tank was approached by the organisers, Silver Bullet Publishing, to develop the creative theme for the 2012 awards.
Seeking to engage a wider audience, and increase entry levels from all sectors of the B2B marketing industry, The Think Tank was asked to produce a campaign that would resonate with marketers from both agency and client side and encourage them to engage with the awards at various levels. It was also very important that the theme would work in an integrated manner across a range of marketing channels as well as provide an engaging and fun format for the Awards event itself.
The Think Tank developed several concepts that would answer the brief and the High Flyers campaign was chosen. It is designed to celebrate the outstanding creativity in the B2B Marketing sector and to position the awards as the premier industry event, not only for agencies but also for client-side marketers.
The flexibility provided by the 'retro feel' creative execution allows the campaign to be extended from launch to the event and beyond, offering B2B Marketing the continuity of message they were looking for in 2012.
The Think Tank is continuing to develop an integrated campaign to promote the awards over the coming months and encourage entry and engagement.
With a 20% increase in award entries in 2012 the campaign looks like a success.
For more information about the awards please click here.
Monday, 18th June 2012 at 8:44am
The Think Tank is a leading integrated marketing agency in Clerkenwell, London and we require a knowledgeable Account Manager to work on a variety of Business to Business clients.
This Account Manager position will combine all aspects of marketing, both on and off-line, and the successful applicant will ensure the smooth running of accounts, including client liaison and managing timescales, budgeting and creative output.
A background in a similar B2B marketing agency account management role or digital experience is preferred. Any candidate should be pro-active and self-starting with strong administrative, communication and organisational skills.
The right candidate will manage a range of client accounts and should have the knowledge and experience to support a variety of marketing activities and will be rewarded with a competitive salary.
This is an opportunity to make your mark within an established forward thinking business to business marketing agency that is growing and offering great prospects for development and career enhancement.
To apply for this role please send your CV with a covering letter to Liam Bateman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note: this is not a PR Account Management position.
Saturday, 18th February 2012 at 4:42am
New research has revealed that brand engagement on social networks is not as positive as first thought.
According to B2B Marketing Magazine, 'Although the uptake remains high, users are demanding more, with two in five participants claiming to be ‘getting bored’ with social media.
The survey of 1275 British social media users found that just under half of respondents would not be positive about a product their ‘friends’ have followed and/or ‘liked’, with 43 per cent saying they are unlikely to talk about a brand on social media sites. In addition, just over half of participants revealed that they ‘do mind’ seeing ads on social networks that are based on their profile activities.
Dan Brilot, media consulting director at YouGov, says, “It appears that while social media can be a key tool in the brand marketer’s armoury, in particular to maximise commitment among those already highly engaged with the brand, it has not quite reached the effectiveness necessary to be considered as a truly mass media marketing tool.”
Friday, 30th December 2011 at 4:56am
He comments, 'We’ve got to accept that economic indicators don’t look great, and it’s unlikely to be a boom year for many companies. But that doesn’t mean as marketers we have any excuses to rest on their laurels – far from it in fact; unless they are prepared to roll up our sleeves, take some tough decisions and generally get involved, marketers may find themselves in a spot of bother, as companies constantly re-evaluate their spend and personnel. In other words, to put it more succinctly, in the words of the old cliché: when the going gets tough, the tough get going.'
Joel lists 10 things that a marketer needs to be to succeed in 2012:
1. A polymath – in other words, good at many things. A jack of all trades (and probably a master of a couple of those). That includes so-called ‘traditional’ and digital marketing disciplines.
2. Pragmatic – willing and able to change, responding to changing needs and demands.
3. Engaging – they must be excellent communicators, with anyone and everyone, across the organisation. That includes everyone from the boardroom to the call centre.
4. Technologically adept – analytics, automation and social media monitoring must be your new best friends.
5. Passionate – really believe in what they are doing and why, and in their brand and the organisation that they work for. Lip service won’t do.
6. Convincing – able to sell ideas and concepts, and rally others to their cause.
7. Robust – they must be able to justify and prove their decisions and actions.
8. Collaborative – able to work with other key stakeholders in the organisation, such as sales, IT and finance, where necessary.
9. Dogged and determined – able to keep going in the face of adversity.
10. Inquisitive – interested in new tools, techniques, insights and ideas. Marketing will continue to change, and practitioners must change with it.
To find out more read the full article here
Wednesday, 7th December 2011 at 9:38am
They found some interesting facts and created an infographic to show some of the key results. Twitter was deemed to be the most popular social network among B2B marketers however LinkedIn was found to create the most leads.
See the infographic here to find out more of the interesting results.
social-infographic-pardot.pdf (169 kb)
Tuesday, 29th November 2011 at 9:06am
The B2B Marketing Awards 2011 were a great success last Thursday, 24th November.
For the fifth year The Think Tank managed the awards event on behalf of B2B Marketing Magazine and it all went very well. The theme this year combined a 60's lounge atmosphere with the glitter of Las Vegas, setting the scene for a fun and enjoyable night.
Jack Whitehall took the stage to entertain the audience and present the awards and after a great dinner and 'refreshment' many headed off to the after-show party until the early hours.
Well done to all the winners and a big thanks to all The Think Tank team for running another successful event.
Tuesday, 16th August 2011 at 8:46am
Following a brief from Stanelco Plc, Biome's previous name, we developed a new brand to promote the bioplastics bias of the business, developing a new brand identity, collateral and web site and then promoted the brand and business to a diverse customer base through PR and electronic direct marketing.
Biome has seen great results since its re-launch and this recognition of the strength of the new brand is great for both The Think Tank and Biome.
Fingers crossed for the Awards in November.
For more information about The Think Tank's work on the Biome brand please click here
Thursday, 2nd December 2010 at 9:08am
A great evening was had by all, as demonstrated by the video, especially as The Think Tank received the award for Best Product Launch.
Take a look and enjoy!
Friday, 26th November 2010 at 9:39am
Communicating the benefits of A3 colour printing at a price comparable to other A4 products, the campaign featured visuals demonstrating that you see the bigger picture with an A3 printer. This media neutral idea was used across the marketing material, both on and off line, and then executed by operating companies across the EMEA region to great effect.
This was one of the first campaigns that The Think Tank had developed for OKI Printing Solutions since winning the EMEA creative account in a competitive pitch.
Liam Bateman, Director at The Think Tank, commented, 'This is great news and testament to the hard work of both the OKI EMEA Marketing Team and my team at The Think Tank. Well done to all.'
The Think Tank was also shortlisted in the B2B Marketing Awards 2010 for its promotional work with AkzoNobel in the Most Commercially Successful award category.
See all the winners here