COVID-19 will redefine the way we produce and consume content forever.

So we are devoting our Knowledge section to everything you need to know about the ways our industry is changing. If you have any questions at all, or want us to feature something here, please drop us a line and we'll be happy to help you.

Nick Francis

Nick Francis
Nick is Chairman of Casual Films. He co-founded the company in 2006 following a stint at the BBC. As a director/producer he won lots of awards for his work internationally, including the prestigious IVCA Best Director Gold. Nick spends his (working) time thinking about how to make Casual the best production company our clients could possibly imagine. He is a keen snowboarder, photographer and cyclist. He lives in California with his family and usually doesn’t talk about himself in the third person. Usually.
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Recent Posts

#ThoughtforThursday: Have a Great Independence Day

Posted by Nick Francis
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Whether or not a ‘special relationship’ exists at an international level, it has always been a pleasure as a Brit to work, socialise and, for some of us, live among our American cousins. There is a shared respect which underpins our relationships. As Brits, we admire the energy, positivity and ambition of our US friends. For Americans, there is the history, creativity and worldliness of those from Britain.

Whatever the challenges we face, at a personal level there is still so much to celebrate and be thankful for. As we mark the birth of the US this weekend – a birth achieved through our separation - we hope that companies that straddle our nations like Casual Films can continue to show what we’re capable of when we all work together. And long may that continue. Most of all though, we’d like to wish all Americans a cracking - and safe - weekend!

Topics: About Casual, Culture & Values, Coronavirus Content, Thought for Friday

#ThoughtforThursday: The High Water Mark in the Power of Video?

Posted by Nick Francis
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For a time many of us believed social media would usher in an ‘Age of Transparency’. Now that citizens could report anything that happened in any part of the world, business and government would be held to account. Some people even suggested the death of the PR industry because – as the wisdom went – you can’t spin the truth. That seems to be an age ago now. Few who welcomed this new age foresaw just how subjective a concept that 'Truth' would be.

What has been undeniable over recent weeks is just how powerful an invention the cell phone camera has become. For the whole of time it has been easy for the majority of the population to dismiss, or overlook the reported mistreatment of minorities. Where the Age of Transparency has delivered in spades is in the reportage of the violent police response to protests in response to police violence. The shocking images, shared instantly are undeniable and cannot be ignored.

Whatever you settle on as the protest symbol of the 20th century, the phone camera has a rightful claim to be the symbol for the 21st. Effective video has always had the power to magnify the experience of the individual to reflect the story of the many. Video’s potency has never been greater. As deep fakes reduce the trustworthiness of the medium in the near future we will look back on this summer of protest as the high water mark for the power of the tool that we as filmmakers treasure so deeply.

Topics: About Casual, Culture & Values, Coronavirus Content, Thought for Friday

#ThoughtforThursday: Time to learn

Posted by Nick Francis
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One of the hardest things to talk about as a white person is racism and the ways in which we have benefitted from society's systemic bias against people of color. The past days have been challenging - forcing us all to confront truths that we have previously shied away from. It has been heartening to see the groundswell of support for reform sweeping our world.

We are learning more by the day. One key point is the idea that the system is so endemically biased that - as people who have been exceptionally privileged in life – if we are not taking specific action to counteract that bias, then we are guilty of racism through our inaction. This is an extremely challenging idea. We like to think of ourselves as decent, conscientious, equitable people, of course. In fact, perversely, the more decent you think you are the more challenging this principle becomes.

We have always been proud of the work we have done at Casual, particularly with our Academy. But we need to acknowledge that this is not enough; that there is far, far more that we can and must do. We have a number of ideas - from educating ourselves and targeted recruitment, to giving our custom to minority owned businesses - and we are working on the specifics. We will share our full plan next week. For now though, we are working to be better and are keen to hear your thoughts - if you want to get in touch.

Topics: About Casual, Culture & Values, Coronavirus Content, Thought for Friday

Post-Corona Content: 4. Create Great Videos for your Audience

Posted by Nick Francis
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OK - so you have reviewed and are clear on what you want your content to achieve and who exactly your audience are. You also understand the value in using your business' purpose as a cornerstone for all the content that you share. You're well on your way to creating a content strategy that will get things kick started post-Corona.

This time we share all the different ways that you can use video to communicate with your audience. The simple answer is that there are loads of ways. Here we share a number of different films from our back catalogue to get you inspired to get back out again.


Quality vs quantity

As an established brand, online visitors will expect you to have a decent, video-led web presence. Don’t fall into the trap of just creating and sharing any old material because the space is there. There was a stage where the prevailing wisdom seemed to be that these platforms were effectively a content void, which needed to be filled with whatever might be available. This has led to some significant household-name businesses sharing very- poor-quality material online – which is badly filmed, badly thought out, too long, too banal and too badly organised. This colours what visitors think of your business, harming your standing.

To minimise this risk, you should focus on quality over quantity. Not necessarily high production quality, but at least high concept quality. Technological advancement has put quality production in the hands of your staff – just make sure they put time and thought into using it. Efficiently curated videos, ideally on your own website or hosted on YouTube, can take a big step towards fulfilling the potential that video holds for your brand.

 

Defining your channel brand or tone

All content has a style or tone. Think about how the different traditional broadcasters have their own tone or brand. Just as the tone of Fox News differs from the BBC, so should you establish your own channel’s tone. To begin with, I would recommend that your content’s tone conforms to your broader brand. Over time, you may find that it can start to diverge. This is understandable – and may be desirable – but it should be a function of you gaining the trust of the audience and then pushing it incrementally. First and foremost, the content you share must feel authentic to the audience.

Evening Standard Independent - Baileys

Once you have decided what the brand is going to be, it is worth setting down some brand guidelines to keep you on track over time. This can vary from the technical (e.g. what resolutions you should film in) and the aesthetic (e.g. colour schemes) to the tone of voice (e.g. how you should talk).

Once you have a guide of all the things the channel should do or say, it’s worth making a list of all the things that it shouldn’t. Now test it. Does what you are saying sound right? Does it sound authentically like your brand? You might want to share your thoughts with a few people, particularly some members of the target audience.

Remember that the brand is a living thing, so it may well evolve over time. Keep in mind that whatever you share has to feel authentic to the audience. Nothing will end in painful shame faster than your brand doing the marketing equivalent of ‘dad dancing’. If you can find a message that really resonates with your audience, they can and will amplify it many times over. You should look for content that presents this opportunity. Unfortunately, if you get it wrong, it can work against you in exactly the opposite way.

 


TRUE: A simple way to think about creating content of value for your audience.

In terms of thinking about your content, a simple guide to this is that the audience are looking for something that is TRUE; that is, timely, relevant, useful or entertaining. The better you understand your audience, the more effective the content that you create for them will be.

Let’s look at what is meant by each of those terms:

Timely

Timing is key to effective content. Think about how successful Oreo was with its ‘You Can Dunk in the Dark’ tweet, when the lights went out during the 2013 Super Bowl. It was picked up by the 23 million Twitter users who were watching the game and ended up being regarded as the ad of the evening – a title that many companies had spent millions of dollars for a shot at, and failed. It goes without saying that what is timely for one viewer is annoyingly late for another – the correct advice 30 seconds after you have made a decision is annoying.

oreo

Oreo - Inspired Tweeting...

Relevant

As we touched on previously, the content has to be relevant to the audience. This almost goes without saying – we all constantly filter the information that assails us every waking moment. Because of this, your audience are keenly aware of what does and doesn’t apply to them. Think about what is going to be relevant for your viewers – this might now be directly obvious. For example, if you’re trying to market an apprentice scheme to school leavers, they may be interested in advice on renting a home for the first time. This information is obviously not so interesting to those looking to move job as an experienced hire. This underlines the importance of understanding your audience and what is relevant to them.

A word of warning here, according to research by LinkedIn, 44% of their respondents said they would consider ending a relationship with a brand because of irrelevant promotions. An additional 22% said that they would ‘definitely defect’ from that brand.  Knowing your audience and making content that is relevant to them is essential.

Useful

One step on from being relevant is content that is actually useful. Providing how-tos, instructions, discounts and tie-ins with other products that they may be using are all ways of being useful to your audience. Once again, what is useful to your viewers might not be immediately obvious – look at the previous example. Home-renting advice is also useful to the target audience. These different types of value do not exist in isolation – each piece of content can be a combination of one or more things.

Entertaining

We all need a little entertainment from time to time. If you can get it right, this is a great way of drawing in your audience and winning them over. Tread carefully with this though – you have to make sure that whatever you share ties in with your brand. You need to earn the trust of the audience before making drastic departures in tone of voice.

The content you produce doesn’t need to be all of those things at the same time – any one or two will work, as long as it/they provide enough value in that given area. The more entertaining and relevant your work content is, for example, the more the chance there is that it will be watched, shared and loved.

Different ways of skinning a cat

Google defines the different ways of engaging your audience with your content slightly differently:

  • »  Inspire the audience with emotional and relatable stories
  • »  Educate the audience with useful information
  • »  Entertain the audience by surprising them, making them laugh or sharing spectacular content

There is no right or wrong way of looking at these; they are just a different way of looking at the same underlying principles. I hope that seeing them from a slightly different angle will help you to understand them and use them.


Using your Business Values and Purpose to Inform Your Content

[Read the post here]

It can be a little baffling to think about all the different types of content you might want to make. A useful way to start is by looking at your business’s values and purpose. All the content that you create (no matter how disparate the actual subject matter) should be in some way a physical manifestation of your purpose and brand values. For example, Red Bull’s purpose is to give wings to people and their ideas. This is manifested in the nature of the types of people, sports and events that it features on its channel.

If you can follow this rule, your content will be far more cohesive in its nature and will do a more effective job of building your brand equity. Whatever your corporate purpose, your channel gives you an unrivalled opportunity to make something that is, by its nature, intangible into something tangible.

“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

– Oscar Wilde

 


Keeping it Real: Allianz #CarStories - Case study

Allianz insurance wanted to promote the fact that, by providing car insurance, it facilitates all the family time that gets spent in cars. It was an interesting insight on what could be seen as a fairly dry, but essential, product. Initially, it asked its advertising agency to create a commercial to promote this message. It set to work, spending an eye-watering budget on expensive crews, actors, locations, lighting and equipment.

 

 

Where it really went wrong was in using actors to play the family. Despite the fact that they did a decent job, the viewer can immediately identify that the film feels contrived and bogus. It doesn’t chime with our own gut sense of how a family interacts. Allianz ended up pulling the commercial after a week.

As part of the online activation, Casual worked with Allianz’s below- the-line agency to create something a little more heartfelt. The films focus on a series of real families driving in their car and talking about different subjects, from the safari park to when the parents brought the new baby home for the first time. The families were interviewed in depth by a producer beforehand, to judge their appropriateness and the potential subjects they could feature.

Allianz - #CarStories

Having chosen the right families, the team then removed as much of the production crew and equipment from the cars as was feasible. The goal here was to allow the families to be as normal and genuine in their interactions as possible. To do this, they used a ‘fixed rig’ of cameras in the car to record the family from a number of angles. The production team travelled in the car behind, recording sound and feeding the family discussion topics.

The resulting 14 45-second videos were featured on the company’s Facebook page, where the heartfelt interactions and kids’ funny statements made them a massive it. Their short length and poignant content made them particularly touching. On YouTube, the videos got an 87% view- completion rate – which is practically unheard of – this is so high that Google got in touch with us to ask us how we had managed it.

The only answer was that, having chosen the ‘right’ families, we removed as much of the artifice as possible and let the family interactions speak for themselves. It’s amazing what you can get when you set the cameras up and have the confidence to just let real life happen.


What can video be used for?

One of the major challenges we had when we started Casual was that video can be used for such a wide range of things. Before we realised the importance of focus, we would answer the question, “So, what can you make films about?” with the pretty useless, “Almost anything”. Over time, we learned to be a bit more specific, and, in the last 10 years, we have made films that bring the whole of the employee lifestyle to life, from initial awareness, through recruitment, and on to ongoing engagement, and learning and development. We’ve even made films that retain and build a network of alumni for those who’ve moved on. We’ve made product promotions, adverts, discount films, branded content and conference openers. Some of these with actors and others with online influencers, with helicopters, drones and bodycams.

Casual has made over 8,000 different films for almost everything a company could want a film for. It’s really important to understand that film or moving images can enhance any message you might have to share. Video is a great way of weaving emotion into selected facts. This increases their impact, memorability and the chance that people will act on them. Let’s look at some of the ways that video has been used by corporate communicators. We use the following classifications at Casual to separate all the different things that our clients have used our work for in the past. This is not exhaustive, but it does give a picture of the breadth of uses. Some of these are quite similar – or even overlap – and rely on similar attributes of video for their effectiveness.

 

Boost sales

Greater Anglia Railways - Spring Campaign

“Shoppers who view video are 1.81X more likely to purchase than non-viewers.”

– Adobe, 2015

The most common films made by companies, which we see in our day-to- day lives, are those designed to sell things. From the dawn of TV, advertisers have been promoting their wares, using every trick in the filmmaker’s book to introduce, promote and explain their products. Films that are able to do this remain the kings of corporate films. From the time in the 1940s and 1950s in which advertisers were able to show that there is a direct line of correlation between the amount spent and sales increases; the budgets for these short films have grown, in some cases to become eye-watering. The annual colosseum of televisual advertising – the US Super Bowl – boasts vast audiences, and hence has a cost of around US$2 million for a 30-second advertising spot. Each year, companies compete to outdo one another and be recognised as having the best commercials of the night.

At the other end of the spectrum, the prevalence of regional TV and now the spread of the Internet have made this type of marketing accessible to any business that wants to use it. There are a wide range of approaches available, from the relatively indirect to the focused sales activation described previously.

 

Encourage donations/funding

Breakthrough Breast Cancer - Chantel

The emotive power of video makes it an excellent tool for pulling on the audience’s heart strings, and getting them to part with their money or time. I’m sure you are aware of the way that charities have used videos since the 1980s. These can also extend to Kickstarter and crowdfunding campaigns. Video’s ability to simplify a message into a really compelling minute or so makes it excellent for this.

 

Introduce a business

ElectrifAi

As with encouraging funding, the ability to compress time and turn a ‘who we are’ PowerPoint presentation into a punchy 60-second promotion with music and branded graphics/colours makes video a useful tool to clarify exactly what your business does. The majority of websites that we have audited – over 1,000 thus far – are not using video on their homepage. They rely on the visitor being able to grasp what the business does in the few brief seconds before they click elsewhere. It is a truism that people/ businesses tend to market to themselves. As such, there is always far too much assumed knowledge, which makes websites impenetrable.

A video is a great way of capturing attention and explaining, in an accessible format, what the visitor should be looking for. This is why having a video on your homepage can improve click- through rates by up to 80%. This type of video can also be used in presentations, pitches, reception areas and for new joiners/potential recruits – anywhere you might want people to quickly understand, through compelling media, who you are and what you do.

 

Promote a product or service through explanation

FactSet - Portware

“4x as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it.”

– Animoto, 2015

Explaining succinctly what a product or service is or does is another effective use of video. Once again, most businesses communicating anything assume too much background knowledge. In this instance, video can break down exactly what the product is and does, and build trust and understanding in an accessible package. This may be through an animation, which is effective when used to illustrate complex messaging, because of the ability to ‘show and tell’ at the same time as using accessible metaphors.

Another effective way to promote a service is through interview-led videos with experts, clients or users. These increase the audience’s trust in the product by borrowing from the featured subject’s standing: their expertise or experience. Interview-led films or ‘talking heads’ are useful because they are pretty much the cheapest videos to produce, and we find human faces innately intriguing .

 

Get people excited

The moving nature of video makes it a great tool for exciting an audience about something. Admittedly, this could be an extension of promoting a product or service. However, it is distinct in that the method is less based on relaying information and explaining, and more focused on generating a positive emotion in the audience. One way of looking at it might be to say that explainer films engage the logical left side of the brain, while a film to get people excited targets the feeling, creative right side. These usually employ a stirring script and a voiceover with powerful music to do this. Both of these types of film, explainer and exciter, aim for the same outcome, though – getting the audience more engaged.

 

Increase brand awareness / tell a story

 

 

Adobe - Making It

In reality, all the video content that companies share has the effect of building (or, unfortunately, sometimes damaging) their brand. Some videos are made specifically for this purpose, though. They may aim to align the business with a cause that matters to their target audience, or reflect on someone or something that they’re interested in. It may extend to them wanting to share a story related to the company – the history or something that has inspired them.

 

Attract the best candidates

Video is an excellent way to illustrate relatively intangible things, such as a company’s culture. Most people looking for a role at a new company will research what the job is about, beyond what is included in the job description. Video is a great way of sharing some of the things that make your company special.

 

Rolls-Royce - Germany

 

In the hyper-competitive job market, more and more companies are having to compete with the likes of Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google) for top technological talent. Simply put, all businesses are now technological businesses, so they have to recruit some of the brightest technological talent who would initially think about going to one of the aforementioned ‘Big Six’. This is particularly challenging given the absurdly deep pockets those companies have to hire staff.

The one area that other businesses can compete in is through an engaging, motivating and, crucially, well-communicated culture. Video can be invaluable in helping to build that culture, through communicating what the concept of the brand means. This is where video can be invaluable – it allows you to communicate with your potential (and current) staff on an emotional level. One point to note is that, in the age of resources such as Glassdoor (which allows employees to rate employers for all to see), it is important that the offer and reality align.

Recruitment videos are split into two categories: employer/employee value-proposition brand films and profile/day-in-the-life films. These then come in a variety of different subsections, covering all the different techniques that will be discussed. Videos to promote and clarify a company’s diversity and inclusion policies should be included here too.

 

Train your colleagues

IBM - Reputational Risks

Another type of internal communication that uses video is learning and development. The zero cost of distribution, and the ability to make changes and amendments to videos on an ongoing basis makes them useful for sharing information and training across a large organisation. Animation works well for information, and interactive video is good for training, because it allows viewers to choose responses and outcomes. The functionality of interactive video also allows for scorekeeping and sharing, which is a useful way of injecting a little competition into the learning process. Beyond that, simply being able to show videos and then have people discuss them helps to increase the effectiveness of the learning.

 

Change behaviour

The external equivalent of internal training, making films to inform and change behaviour, is nearly as old as film itself; for example, the public information films that were used to keep the population up to speed in the first half of the 20th century. The modern equivalents are usually produced by governments or charities.

 

Start a discussion/conversation

Action_Sustainability_Responsibilitiy_ (1)

Action Sustainability - Responsibility

Video removes any unnecessary information and pauses. This condenses the amount of time it takes to share different viewpoints in an argument, which makes it useful for setting up a discussion. Such videos are usually played at the beginning of an online/offline discussion, or to change to another subject.

 

Record an event

Avery Dennison - Plasticity Event

The quality of an event film is, understandably, usually tied to the quality of the event itself. It is a useful way of encapsulating what happened, what was discussed or featured, and who was there. With some appropriate music and a dynamic edit, the video becomes a useful tool for promoting forthcoming events too.

 

But not everything – emotion vs information

All this having been said, there are some things that video is not great at. Emotion and information exist in a balance in all films. Too much focus on emotion – with practically no information – and the film can feel superficial and lacking in substance (think of most fashion ads). Too much information and not enough emotion, and the film will be dry, difficult to follow and impenetrable (some corporate reports embody this pitfall).

They should be like yin and yang. In every informative film you should have a bit of emotion, and in every emotive film you should have a bit of information (even if that is a basic narrative structure). Because of this, if you have lots and lots of information to get across, video might not be the best way to do it. You will probably find it more effective to create a PDF document, use video to outline a few salient points and promote reading the PDF through a shorter, more engaging film.


Making the sale

Psychologists understand that we make the decision to act emotionally, but then we back up this decision logically. For example, in making the decision to buy a new car, an individual might choose a certain model because she likes the way it looks, the colour and how sitting in it makes her feel, but would then rationalise this decision through the great fuel economy, financing and crash-safety rating. Because of this, it’s important that the content you produce plays to both sides of your audience’s reasons for taking action. This is why really effective marketing campaigns combine two distinct angles: emotion-driving brand building and logically appealing sales activation. Let’s look at these two in a little more depth.


Brand building

“Video advertising, both on and offline, is the most effective brand-building form.”

– IPA Media in Focus Report

Brand building focuses on creating a positive emotional connection with the brand. These are the associations and beliefs that make the customer more likely to buy from one brand over another. This requires repeated exposure to consistent messaging, slowly building a compelling image of what that brand represents, produces and stands for. While this takes time to achieve, the effects are deep seated in the audience and lead to the best long-term effects.

The consistent nature of brand building has the additional benefit of creating followers among people who might not be in the market for the brand’s product at the time of exposure. This is important because the audience are not looking to purchase for the majority of the time. Video’s emotive power makes it an extremely valuable tool because it is so much more memorable.

Accidental Icon - GoDaddy

Creating raving fans/evangelists

Brand building also gives you the opportunity to build your customers into advocates for your brand. Each interaction they have with you will make them feel either more or less positive about you. Your product, delivery and customer service all play into this, but so does your content strategy. With everyone now having the power to communicate at their fingertips, you should be looking to build each of your customers to the point where they will do your marketing for you.

This is the most effective form of marketing available – the challenge is that it’s hard to do at scale. On the one hand, this may be writing positive reviews, defending what you do in chat rooms or simply recommending your product to their friends. This may also be by retweeting a video you have created, because it resonates so strongly with them, or reediting and sharing some content that you created for that purpose. Whatever it is, you must build their brand loyalty and then make it as easy as possible for them to do this for you. The process from sceptics, through customers and into advocates is shown below:

NicBook_Diagrams_v04_CD-12

Raving fans love your brand so much that they practically can’t stop going on about it. This is your goal for as many of your audience/customers as possible.

Sales activation

Sales activation is targeted at those who are likely to buy in the very near future. This aims to encourage the buyer into making a purchase and aims to make the purchase as frictionless as possible. These include discounts, vouchers, special offers, unique experiences, seasonal sales and are far more targeted to the individual than the broader nature of brand-building content. The more bought into your brand your audience are, the more effective this type of content will be. This is a great opportunity to further strengthen your follower base by offering them favourable terms if they are a subscriber to your channel.

Sothebys House Guest - Teaser

Sales-activation messages take advantage of the positive brand associations that you have built up in other areas and with your other communications. The effects of sales-activation approaches cause a short- term spike in purchasing intent, which drops off rapidly. Because of this, the two approaches are best used hand in hand, with the IPA’s 2017 Media in Focus report recommending a 60:40 split of brand building to activation as the optimum ratio.


If you're producing video it's important to get the length right for each social platform. We have done the research so you don't have to. You can download our white paper right here.

If you have a project that you would like to discuss, our international team of Exec Producers are ready to help make it a success. Drop them a note here and one of them will give you a call back.

Topics: Being a better commissioner, Content Strategy, Coronavirus Content

The death of George Floyd

Posted by Nick Francis
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Casual Films has always been a place that supports the progression of equality, decency, and openness. It's important that we address the events happening in our cities in the US & UK.

What happened to George Floyd, and the countless Black lives before his, is wrong. Senselessly, maddeningly and utterly wrong. The system which presides over these injustices has to change. We can all play a role in this.

Casual stands in solidarity with the fight against racism and oppression in all its forms.

We don’t have the answers or the right words to say but we want to add our voice and not stay silent. We are encouraging our employees to take time off to volunteer and assist with positive and constructive action. We are keen to continue to produce work that benefits the cause of inclusivity, peace, and dignity for all human beings. Please get in touch with anything we can lend our filmmaking abilities to.

This page has great resources on how we can all get better informed, take action, and get involved. Click here to view.

Topics: News, About Casual

Post-Corona Content Framework: 3. Using purpose to define your content

Posted by Nick Francis
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In the last couple of posts, we have looked at the importance of being clear about what you want your content to achieve and who exactly your audience are. This time we look at how you can use your business purpose as the cornerstone for the content that you share. This is particularly important as the world wakes back up from the imposed slumber of the last few months and starts to reassess what this whole life and work thing is about anyway. The Corona Crisis has been referred to as the ‘great accelerator’ of trends that were underway anyway. The growing importance of what businesses stand for - their core purpose - will be included in this.


purpose

ˈpərpəs/

noun

“A person, object or organisation’s reason for being.”

For organisations, these are aspirational by their nature, grounded in humanity and go beyond the profit motive. A business’s purpose is often referred to as its ‘North Star’ – an unattainable, guiding light, against which all activities are measured. It provides clarity for all the decision-making in the business, from the significantly strategic to the day-to-day tactical.

“Purpose is a long-term, forward-looking intention to accomplish aims that are both meaningful to the self and of consequence to the world beyond.”

– Bill Damon, Director, Stanford Center on Adolescence

Purpose has come to be referred to as the ‘Why?’ for a business, as outlined by Simon Sinek in his excellent book Start with the Why. It should clearly articulate the stance of the business, allowing everyone who comes into contact with it to identify whether it aligns with their own value structure and aspirations. As this alignment grows, it graduates to a state that stakeholders are able to describe as ‘belonging’. This desire to belong to a tribe answers a base yearning within us all. Many of the most successful businesses of our time – Zappos, Ben and Jerry’s, and Apple – have grown through the successful propagation of a tribal belonging among their staff and customers. This is only possible through a powerfully articulated, clear purpose.

This success has led to purpose becoming en vogue for much of the business world. It’s no longer enough to exist to ‘maximise shareholder value’. In the post-2007 world, purpose- and cause-driven business is more important than ever.

 

The Purpose of Purpose in the Content of your Content

The fact that your purpose resonates with your audience makes it a valuable resource when looking for content to broadcast or campaigns to run. This doesn’t mean that all the content you create should suddenly be about charities or that it should be about ‘do-gooding’. It also doesn’t mean that all your content needs to be about your corporate purpose. It means that all the content that you create should have a tangential relevance to your ‘Why?’ as a business. This will provide an underlying coherence to your content at the same time as reinforcing your brand identity. It’s a step towards your purpose being about actions, rather than just words.

While purpose is extremely valuable to corporate communicators, it must be ingrained in your way of doing business. It isn’t enough to simply talk about it: it must become part of your DNA. Your customers and employees will thank you for it, as will your shareholders in due course, so everyone ends up happy.

 

Purpose and the next generation

Purpose has become particularly important given the evolutions in employment patterns in the current century. Speak to most employers, and they will complain that today’s youthful workforce has become less loyal and flightier, but the facts don’t entirely bear this out.*


*According to LinkedIn, millennials – those born between 1982 and 2000 (and among the 500 million who use the platform) – change job four times on average in their first ten years in the workplace. There is disagreement over whether this represents a significant departure from previous generations. A US Bureau of Labor Statistics study of the baby-boomer generation found that they had held an average of 11.7 jobs between the ages of 18 and 48. This is certainly more than the baby boomers’ grandparents would have had at the turn of the 20th century.


What has happened, without question, is a shift in what the workforce want from a job. Millennials have seen their contemporaries overturn convention and earn billions as the creators of global technology brands. From Greta Thunberg or Ed Sheeran to Justin Bieber to Malala Yousafzai, they have seen how a compelling story can pluck anyone from obscurity and plaster them across the global stage. They mainline videos that show them what is happening in the world – their world – and how they can and must play a role in shaping it. ‘Shape the world’ is what they plan to do.

Young people who changed the world

Young people naturally find it easier to pick up new things (which is just as well). This has meant that they have been disproportionately empowered by the current Technological Revolution. This is upending traditional power structures. They know they have this power, and want to know what the brands they interact with – as their suppliers, employers and broadcasters – will do for them. Young people no longer live to work, they work to live. Work is something that the modern employee does as a part of their life. They expect to live the life of their choosing, which means that all employment is viewed through a ‘What’s in it for me?’ prism. Each job has to be a stepping stone or stamp to their career passport, enhancing their skills and experience to enable the next leap onwards. Millennials have never known a world not negatively affected by human impact.

Climate change, the ‘plastification’ of the oceans, mass extinction and social inequality all play on their minds. They want the businesses that they have a relationship with to be part of the solution to these problems. This explains why business purpose is so specifically important to them, particularly when choosing an employer.

They believe that business can be a genuine force for good in the world. Of the 7,900 young people surveyed as part of the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2017, 76% view ‘business’ positively and believe that it has a positive influence on society. This rose to 89% among those considered to be ‘hyperconnected millennials’; i.e. those identified as being highly digitally connected compared to the average in their own countries. Nine out of ten of the most influential millennials believe that business has a positive influence on society. As the guardians of big business, you should seize this opportunity and build on it.

 

Why should this matter to you?

This matters because the millennials are becoming the most powerful generation in history. They are the largest generation (92 million in the US), surpassing the baby boomers (77 million US), and are entering the workplace and their prime earning/spending years. By 2025 they will make up 75% of the global workforce. They already control US$2.7 trillion in annual expenditure. In the West, over time, they will inherit the wealth of their baby-boomer parents, much of which has been protected and built by final-salary pensions and significant real-estate-asset inflation. They are the future of business and our planet.

Young people want purpose, belonging and ownership of the brands they interact with – your brand. They want to take part. They have grown up surrounded by social media and technology in the post-9/11 world. Having a purpose to work towards makes them more-engaged employees, more-loyal customers and more-active advocates for your brand. They want you to be part of the solution, and they want you to be the enabler.

For employees, the ability to take part in charitable causes at work leads to an increase in loyalty. Deloittes’ aforementioned survey found that of the 54% of millennials who were provided with the opportunity to contribute to good causes or charities, 35% stayed in their job for 5 years or more (vs 24% without the opportunity). They were also more positive about the role of business in the world and more optimistic about the social situation generally.

It’s not just employee engagement that makes this a good area for your business to get involved in. There’s also the direct-profit motive. Around 89% of millennial consumers have said there is a strong likelihood they would buy from companies that support solutions to particular social issues, and 91% said that this fact would increase their trust in the business.11 This would explain why market-research firm Nielsen identified that, in the financial year 2015, sales of consumer goods from brands with a demonstrated commitment to sustainability grew more than 4% globally, while those without grew less than 1%.


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Business steps up

“We cannot close our eyes to the challenges the world faces. Business must make an explicit positive contribution to addressing them. Business has to change.”

– Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever

The last few years have seen a concerning increase in the amount of political division in the Western world. Much of this has been driven by people who put their personal political advancement ahead of the harmony of their people. As a reaction to this, we’re already starting to see visionary businesses take more-inclusive political stances. Gone are the days when all business sat on the sidelines, unwilling to take a stand for fear of alienating potential customers. Take a stand and your audience know where they stand – it gives them the opportunity to belong.

At the Super Bowl - the colosseum of advertising - a number of the commercials had a political, pro-inclusivity sentiment to them. There have been significant responses to many of the current administration's policies. These range from the condemnation of his ‘Muslim ban’ to consternation at his decision to withdraw the US from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, which drew heated statements from the CEOs of many of the Fortune 500 companies.

 

UK-based, certified, purpose-driven businesses (B-Corps) grew 28 times faster than the national average in the financial year 2018.

 

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

– French National Convention, 1793 via Spiderman, 1953

Business is the most powerful man-made force in the modern world. It affects every home and influences every government. It has been the engine for financial advancement that has reduced inequality globally and reduced the number of people living in extreme poverty (by the current metric of those living on less than US$1.90/day) by 74.1% in 25 years, according to the World Bank. It improves and enables lives, imbuing them with purpose and meaning on a global scale. We couldn’t have advanced beyond the Middle Ages without it. This power is greater than it has ever been. Big business has won big on the back of global shifts in power – now it has to give back.

 

Long-termism pays

“Economic performance is not the only responsibility of a business… without responsibility, power degenerates into non-performance. So the demand for socially responsible organizations will not go away; rather, it will widen.”

– Peter Drucker

The great global recession of 2008 has led to the very nature of capitalism being questioned. In the public consciousness, much of the blame for the crisis fell at the feet of bankers, lenders and businesspeople focusing too much on short-term returns and not enough on long-term resilience. The disenchantment with the current environment has even extended to the nature of business and capitalism being questioned. In order to continue to function with the public’s assent, business needs to take steps (and be seen to take steps) to address their long-term impact, and win back the trust that has waned in recent years.

 

W170203_KIRKLAND_FIRMSFOCUSED_v1-873x1024

 

As McKinsey shows in its Corporate Horizon index, taking a long-term approach leads to better performance across five key factors, including earnings, job creation, market capitalisation and profit. It tracked 615 large and middle-capitalisation (mid-cap) US publicly listed companies from 2001 to 2015, based on patterns of growth, investment, earnings quality and earnings management. This then allowed it to assess each company’s relative performance based on its behaviour.

McKinsey found that, between 2001 and 2014, the revenue of long-termist firms grew on average by 47% more than the revenue of the other firms in its study. The economic profit of these long-termist firms grew 81% more on average. These companies also added 12,000 more jobs in the 15 years to 2015. McKinsey found that the potential value unlocked by companies taking a longer-term approach was worth more than US$1 trillion in forgone US gross domestic product (GDP) over the decade to 2015.

There are still challenges – 87% of executives and directors say that demonstrating strong financial performance in 2 years or less is their most pressing priority. That said, the extent to which this movement has become a mainstream way of thinking is reflected on by BlackRock chairman, Larry Fink:

“Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose. To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate.

“Companies must ask themselves: What role do we play in the community? How are we managing our impact on the environment? Are we working to create a diverse workforce? Are we adapting to technological change? […] Today, our clients – who are your company’s owners – are asking you to demonstrate the leadership and clarity that will drive not only their own investment returns, but also the prosperity and security of their fellow citizens.”  

With a global population of over 9 billion people expected by the year 2050, in order to survive, business must be driving the solution to the challenges that it will bring. A failure to do this will lead to a lack of any future market in which to sell your goods and services. This isn’t a ‘tree hugging’ environmentalist plea, this is a reality we must all grasp.

By 2050, there will be no such thing as ‘sustainable’ business; there will be only business.


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Actions Matter More than Words

“[Cause marketing] is no longer a competitive differentiator unless it is also accompanied by a genuine effort on the part of companies to demonstrate how their efforts were making a real impact on achieving results.”

– Cone Communications

 

Cone Communications has been running an annual study on the efficacy of cause-related marketing. It found that this is no longer a differentiator, unless it’s also accompanied by a genuine effort by the companies to demonstrate they are achieving an actual impact. Unfortunately, this shows it’s not enough to simply talk about the great projects that you’re putting money into. Audiences are far more likely to talk about what a brand did than what they said. This means that, in order to make taking a more conscientious approach work for you, you actually need to get your hands dirty. You must ‘live your purpose’. It should shine through in everything that you do. Failure to do this leads to a perceived lack of authenticity in the eyes of your stakeholders, which, thanks to social media, will do disproportionate damage to your brand.

It’s also important to get intimately involved in the causes that you wish to benefit in order to avoid the charge of ‘jumping on the bandwagon’, as Pepsi found with their Kendall Jenner protestors spot…


Pepsi Kendall Jenner

Getting it Wrong - Pepsi and Kendall Jenner

Whatever cause you decide to get involved in, it’s essential that your brand has an authentic attachment to the cause. This cannot just be lip service. It’s also extremely important that you understand the nuances of the issue and don’t trivialise it through superficial understanding. Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner commercial shows her giving cans of Pepsi to police officers, seemingly with a view to reducing tensions at a Black Lives Matter protest. The idea that Jenner, who is white, could turn up and solve the situation with a can of soda was seen as extremely insulting and out of touch. Social media did the rest, culminating in the 18-year-old model sharing a video with her crying and begging the forgiveness of the masses.

It might be tempting to move away from cause-related marketing as a result. The key point here is that if you’re going to take this route, which you should, you need to get involved at the root, make a difference and then tell that story. It is not acceptable to simply say, from a disconnected position, that you ‘believe’ in good causes. It is necessary to actually become involved in them, to understand them and to benefit them – to use your considerable might to work towards a solution, no matter how small the step you enable might be.


greenwash

/ˈɡriːnwɒʃ/

noun

“Disinformation disseminated by an organisation so as to present an environmentally responsible public image.”

Greenwashing is marketing that intentionally overemphasises the green credentials of a business activity, while downplaying the actual negative impact. As a term, it was first used by Jay Westervelt in an essay criticising the hotel industry for their habit of leaving cards in their bathrooms asking their guests to reduce the amount of washing that is done by not leaving their towels on the floor, from where they would have to be washed. Westervelt showed that, far from being motivated by the environment, the hoteliers were in fact motivated by the reduced costs it would incur, thereby increasing their profits.

It isn’t a new thing though, in 1969 alone, public utilities spent more than US$300 million on advertising their green credentials – more than eight times what they spent on the anti-pollution research they were touting in those ads.

Rope bridge

Greenwashing became more elaborate through the 1970s and 1980s, to the extent that in 1990, on Earth Day 20, one-quarter of all goods launched in the US were marketed as being, recyclable, ozone friendly and compostable. In 1985, Chevron launched their People Do series, which was aimed at those who were societally conscious and hostile to the company. The ads featured bears, eagles and animals, and underlined how hard the company’s people were working to protect wildlife during their work. These ran for 15 years and became a textbook case of how successful greenwashing can be, leading to a 10% jump in sales and a 22% jump among the hostile audience target group.

Greenwashing in the current ‘post-truth’ age is alive and well. The bottled-water industry, for example, leans heavily on imagery of the natural world in its marketing, and trumpets the reduction in plastic used in its bottles, while its products continue to have a severely negative ecological impact. Only 31% of plastic bottles consumed in the US are recycled. With so much demand for ‘green’ products (72% of millennials will pay more for environmentally sustainable products), it’s not surprising that businesses are keen to stress their credentials.


In Summary: 

In this blog, we’ve looked at the value of purpose to content producers. Taking steps to fix the world can be useful beyond leaving the planet in a reasonable state for our children. It can make your content far more effective, consistent and valuable.

There are three main points you need to consider:

  1. Having a clearly defined and communicated business purpose is like having a North Star for the business.

It’s a significant asset for a number of reasons. These include better staff retention, better audience engagement and a more loyal customer base. People care about purpose. This makes it a great area to look to for things to broadcast about. If you anchor all of the content that you produce in your purpose, you’ll ensure that there is consistency of message.

Your content doesn’t need to be all about your purpose directly, but you should be able to draw a direct line between it and the videos you make.

  1. “With great power comes great responsibility”

Business is the most powerful man-made force in the world. This world faces a number of significant challenges. Business has benefitted greatly from globalisation, and it has played its role in bringing about climate change. Now is the time to stand up and be a part of the solution. It may help the world avoid a cataclysm. It makes excellent business sense and gives the opportunity for a lot of excellent content. Your audience are less cynical than you think about business being part of the solution. You must grasp this opportunity and rebuild their trust.

  1. Actions matter more than words

Content has to be created around genuine initiatives. You must ‘walk the walk’ before you ‘talk the talk’. You must ‘live your purpose’. Failure to do this will lead to significant brand damage online. Don’t be guilty of greenwashing.


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Topics: Being a better commissioner, Content Strategy, Coronavirus Content

#ThoughtforThursday: The Flames of Innovation

Posted by Nick Francis
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Globally businesses spend billions on consultants to help them to become more agile and innovative. The tidal wave of the current crisis has forced business to innovate more in less time than it has arguably ever has. Breweries making hand sanitiser, restaurants as wine shops, vacuum cleaner manufacturers have pivoted to producing ventilators in a matter of days. The growing flexible working movement has exploded - whole companies working from home, using new platforms to stay aligned, workers judged by output rather than presenteeism.

This is the ‘great acceleration’, driven by the crisis. Casual has accelerated some of our own developments too. We have been innovating in our own way since we started making films with a laptop and a camcorder nearly 15 years ago. Over the last couple of months, we have launched our Say it in Sixty platform, our Ariel Inspa video library and our digital freelancer network. All with the aim of making production more accessible and efficient. We had been developing these in the background but the crisis inspired us to ‘get them out.’

Life is not going back to ‘normal’ anytime soon – if ever. The big question for the whole business world – from corner shop to global Goliath - is how do we keep the flame of ingenuity burning, when the fires of Covid have been quenched?

Topics: About Casual, Culture & Values, Coronavirus Content, Thought for Friday

#ThoughtforThursday: The Kaleidescope of Humanity

Posted by Nick Francis
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As many of you will know, Casual Films started out in a 1987 Mini on the road from London to Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia. That trip taught us a lot – that a 2005 MacBook isn’t a match for HD footage, that much of the world are amazing at mending old cars and that people everywhere are generally surprisingly generous, decent and kind.

It also showed us how we are all just a part of the continuum of humanity. We picked our way through 18 countries, passing within miles of the Chinese border, ending up due north of Jakarta in Indonesia. As we drove, the UK became France became Belgium, became Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia. We experienced a whole kaleidoscope of ways of life. Each country and culture similar to the one before but becoming significantly more different as we travelled.

One of the shortcomings of the way that air travel works is that it skips out so much of the world as it changes beneath you. We are picked up and plonked somewhere else so that differences seem so much more pronounced. It's easy to focus on those differences. Now that a third of the human population, 2.6 billion people, are locked down (more than were on the planet during World War II), sharing a common if individually different experience, it’s a reminder of just how similar we all are.

Topics: About Casual, Culture & Values, Coronavirus Content, Thought for Friday

Post-Corona Content Framework – 2. Understand who your audience is

Posted by Nick Francis
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Last time, we looked at the importance of knowing what you need to achieve with the content that you are sharing. Step two of the content framework is reviewing exactly who the audience for your content is.

Making content specifically for your target audience is so important that Nick almost called his book – ‘it’s all about the audience’ – 'The New Fire' is admittedly a little more dynamic. It is very easy to think that you are doing this but far too many communicators produce communications that tailor to themselves, to their own needs, interests and motivations. Take the time to understand exactly who they are, demographically and psychographically.

What do we mean by that?

Demographics

Demographics cover a range of facts that illustrate who the audience member is. There are huge amounts of data available online, which is one of the main reasons that the major social networks and e-commerce sites have been able to make such vast amounts of money.

Data is hugely valuable, and yet most web users are happy to give theirs away in return for the ‘free’ usage of the service – an online map for example. This huge amount of data means that these companies can charge large amounts for marketing, because the information they have means that marketing messages can be extremely targeted.

Examples of demographic information:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Income
  • Occupation
  • Education
  • Marital status
  • Religion
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Generation

Geographics

Geographics are similar to demographics in that they are also facts. You can just spread your net to include a smaller or wider grouping of them. Do be aware that you may find that these are impacted by visits by bots Geographics include the following:

  • House
  • Street
  • Village
  • Town
  • City
  • Region
  • Nation
  • Continent
  • Hemisphere
  • Global

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The problem with Demographics, an example...

The major issue is that information is just data. It doesn’t tell you enough about the underlying motivations of the target persona. This can lead to challenges. For example, we may be looking to target this person:

  • Male
  • Over 60 years old
  • High net worth
  • Divorced
  • Has children
  • Drives expensive cars
  • Lives in a large house
  • Has pets

Prince of Wales-1The Prince of Wales

Ozzy Prince of DarknessThe Prince of Darkness

This unlikely pairing both fall into the aforementioned data pool.* Because of this, it is useful to consider other factors that are more instructive of the type of content they may engage with.

* Thanks to Richard Purvis from Crunch Simply Digital for this example.

Psychographics

psychographics

sʌɪkə(ʊ)ˈɡrafɪks

plural noun

“The study and classification of people according to their attitudes, aspirations and other psychological criteria, especially in market research.”

Where demographics are a collection of objective data, psychographics are subjective information. This makes them extremely useful for marketers, because they allows us to understand the audience’s motivations. Once we understand these, we can start to communicate with them in a way that will engage and drive them to action.

Psychographics are also known as IAO variables: interests, activities and opinions. I find it more helpful to think of them in this way, as it makes it easier to think about, and the word ‘psychographics’ sounds pretty much like jargon. IAO information is, by its nature, fuzzier than the solid, black- and-white facts of demographics. In reality, it is far more useful.

On top of interests, activities and opinions, psychographic information includes personality, values and lifestyle. These give us a far clearer way of thinking about what will engage the audience member. As we can see here:

Guy-400x267

Demographic view:

  • Male
  • Mid-thirties
  • Lives in Brooklyn, NY
  • Married
  • Born in the UK

Psychographic view:

  • Plays guitar in a band
  • Likes travel, festivals & gigs
  • Loves fish and chips
  • Subscribes to Rolling Stone
  • Follows Radiohead on Instagram

By looking at the demographic information, we can see just how valuable the additional psychographic information is to someone looking to create content for this man. The demographic information could point us towards anyone from a banker working on Wall Street to a youth-group worker or a dustman – this makes targeting them challenging. You could take out a billboard in Manhattan, for example, but that’s not exactly cost-effective/efficient.

The psychographic information, on the other hand, allows us to understand exactly how to communicate on a level that will engage him. For example, we could share trailers for a video series on a road trip to a festival in South Africa. You could enhance the offer with a competition to win tickets and travel to the same festival next year. We are only able to offer this because we understand what makes our target audience tick.

Once you know what the audience likes/wants/needs to watch, then you can look at what you do as a company and see what you can create and share for them. There is naturally a fine balance to creating the content that people want to watch and plugging your company/products.

The content that you produce should lie at the intersection between what will be of value to your identified audience and your purpose as a business.

Creating target-audience personas

A target-audience persona is a fictional person who exhibits the characteristics of your target audience.
This helps you to think more clearly about them.

This is where the whole audience-targeting process gets creative. Rather than thinking about target-audience groupings as an amorphous mass of people – which is where it’s easy to go wrong (targeting millennials is an archetypal example of this*) – it helps to create a stereotype individual.

* Although it is often put forwards as a target grouping, a millennial is anyone born between 1982 and 2000. This is far too broad a category to engage effectively, certainly with a single output. You need to be far more specific by adding in more criteria with which to differentiate them.

AudiencesOr, better still – to reflect the wider group – five stereotyped individuals. Each character should be (as much as possible) a living, breathing character with a backstory. This will help you think about the different ways that you can engage them.

Start by giving them a memorable name, for example:

  • Tracy the Techie
  • Simon the Scientist
  • Grace the Graduate
  • Tim the Trainee

This helps to kickstart your creative thinking for the next stage.

Paint a picture of their character by asking questions about them and the things they do. This is best done with a few members of the team, so you can bounce suggestions off each other.

Questions might include the following:

  • Where do they live?
  • Where do they get their news?
  • What do they do at the weekend?
  • What music do they listen to?
  • What blogs do they read?
  • What are their hopes/dreams/goals?
  • What’s the first thing they think about in the morning?

 

Pain point

Pain points

One of the most important things to know about any audience is what their ‘pain points’ are. These are their concerns or fears: the things that keep them up at night. The main reason for their high value to us, as communicators, is that the fear of loss is a far greater motivator for action than the promise of gain. People obviously have a very wide range of these, from the minor (e.g. finding a parking space) to the existential fear of illness and death. As you can tell from this last – maybe crass – example, you want to be very careful how you use these. You want your content to assist, not fear monger among your audience. You should know their fears, so that you can know how to remedy or soften them.

Pain-point questions might include these:

  • What keeps them up at night?
  • What are they worried about at work?
  • What is the hardest thing they have to deal with day to day?
  • What is their greatest fear/insecurity?
  • What annoys them about something that they do regularly?

For example, a new parent will be very interested in content that helps them live the life they led before they had their baby.

 

Gathering data

Once you have a clear idea of the questions that you want to answer, you should fill in as many of them as possible that you know. You may already have much of the information you need. Try to build up as much of a picture of the different personas as possible. There are a few different ways that you can gather the data you need to do this:

  • Share a survey with existing customers
  • Interview clients
  • Use social media tracking/monitoring tools; e.g. Facebook Dashboard
  • Research websites/forums/blogs
  • Evaluate your website / use Google Analytics
  • Look at Quora/Reddit

Bear in mind that some of the online data may be generated by bots. Because of this, you need to make a sharp assessment as to how much you can trust. Be thorough, and discount information that is false. If you are unsure, look at ways that you know are secure – interviews, blogs from known sources, and focus groups.

Sharing content for your target group

Once you have clear personas agreed, you can start to think about the type of content that they will respond to. This should feed into your briefing document.

You should also think about where that content should be distributed to get the best engagement from your target group. One of the great things about sharing content online is that it allows you to target your audience with remarkable accuracy. It also allows you to see how the audience grouping responds to different types of content, which, in turn, allows you to tailor the message/content to get the best response. This could be as simple as changing the title or thumbnail image, right through to full reshoots/re-edits.


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Topics: Being a better commissioner, Content Strategy, Coronavirus Content

#ThoughtforThursday: Make it easy on yourself

Posted by Nick Francis
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“Everyone's got a plan till they get punched in the face”

- ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson

Life has been getting faster and faster over the last few years. There's been a continual pressure to optimise almost everything we do. Cooking became '30-minute meals', became '15-minute meals', workouts at your desk, books condensed to read on a tube journey. We were always on, always striving, always trying to improve. Living your best life - the best life possible - was the name of the game.

Punches to the face don’t come much more dislocating – or protracted – than being forced home for months on end. Driven into the Groundhog Day cycle of ‘what day is it? - what week is it?!' repetitiveness. 'Optimisation' has become almost impossible, squeezed by the monotony of space and time.

Yes, this could be a time to learn a new language, or bake, or do any of the million things that you have been planning to do forever. But then, we’ve all been punched in the face, fairly hard. That's not something to optimise, it's something to survive. Give yourself a break, read a book, look after the kids, go for a walk - give yourself a break - because living your best life right now could just be avoiding hitting the mat.

The Walker Brothers - Make it Easy on Yourself

Topics: About Casual, Culture & Values, Coronavirus Content, Thought for Friday

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