Guest Post

Over a week ago, hundreds of men uploaded photos of themselves with the hashtag #itsokaytotalk on Facebook and Twitter. They were participating in a social media awareness initiative for mental health, encouraging men to break down the stigma of not being able to talk about the matter freely among friends.

According to the search on Facebook Australia, over 1000 pages/groups actively engaged with the hashtag (not including individuals who posted from personal accounts).There were 5434 posts on Instagram as of the 27th of August with the hashtag (excluding private accounts).

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Awareness around this topic spread very quickly in a short space of time, attracting mainstream media to cover the conversation. Example below:

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Inspiring campaigns that have caught our attention

#itsokaytotalk isn’t the first campaign that has caught my attention, and, for the most part, awareness campaigns like this are perceived as inspiring.

We’ve seen a few over the last couple of years: The Bucket Challenge, the no-makeup selfie, not to mention the Australia’s annual #ruok day.

But are these campaigns effective? Or are they just an opportunity to post photos, laugh or attract likes?

To me, it depends on two things:
1. What they are trying to achieve
2. Is what they are trying to achieve meaningful

Social media activism often attracts cynics who argue that small changes on social media do not really suggest support for a cause. But if the purpose of a campaign is awareness, a selfie or a changed profile picture on mass media can be viewed and shared amongst millions of people internationally, ultimately achieving a campaign’s goal.

Social psychologist, Melanie Tannenbaum once noted the best way to convince people to care about something is to show them what other people actually do.

They don’t always go to plan

The No Make up selfie of 2014, an initiative pushed by Cancer Research UK, prospered when women saw their friends post an all natural selfie, with a donation link attached.

The initiative, started when Laura Lipmann, uploaded a photo of herself without make up, led many to follow suit. It was simple – affirmation and self-confidence to encourage cancer research, and by uploading a photo and showing support, friends and family of those individuals were inclined to also show support.

But despite the millions donated as a result of the campaign, the #nomakeupselfie received large criticism. Many were accused of missing the point when women were recognised as brave for just taking a selfie without makeup.

Perhaps the reason for this was that the content promoting the cause, was perceived as vain and a means of getting ‘likes’.

The Bucket Challenge also went viral in 2014, drawing over 60,000 supporters. The campaign involved pouring a bucket of cold ice over your head and summoning friends to take up the challenge.

As a result, more learnt about Amyotrophic Lateral Scleorisis, the progressive neurogenerative disease at the forefront of the campaign. But in this campaign, awareness was the goal and because the challenge was light-hearted and comical, individuals were willing to participate, and audiences were enthused to watch the attempts of family and friends.

Brad Hesse, former chief of the Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch at the National Cancer Institute in the US, said that campaigns are successful when they are tailored to the values and resources available to audiences.

In the case of #itsokaytotalk, the campaign focused on mental health, a strong value for many. Mental health, particularly for men, is rarely addressed. This initiative’s aim was to encourage discussion and awareness that would help reduce the suicide statistics in men. By using an internationally recognised symbol for ‘okay,’ men all over the world were able to begin breaking down the stigma, some even offering personal anecdotes to their selfie post.

Where does this leave us?

Awareness can get people talking about change and change behavior, but it is the way an awareness campaign is approached that is key. Social has an innate power in its ability to project opinions and ideas about society, understanding the audience, and know what you are trying to achieve will help drive your campaign.

After all, if you want to get people talking what better way than to start a hash-tag on the one form of media that reaches audiences across the globe.

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Zoe Samios is a journalism student and freelance writer based in Sydney, Australia. Her experience has taken her overseas, exploring new cultures and the international media landscape. She loves writing about all things media and marketing, particularly in her current role as intern at Mumbrella. Follow Zoe on Twitter @zoesam93

Does your PR background help when it comes to content marketing?

This is a question I asked myself when I took a job within a content marketing agency, just over 5 months ago. I now feel like I know the answer and therefore decided  to share my thoughts.

Content marketing is the talk of the town, the cherry on the cake or some may say the future of Marketing. I read an article recently that was all about what we could expect from content marketing in 2016 and one of the main points covered the rise of thought leadership. I asked myself  the question – Well is this new? PR professionals have been ghost writing on behalf of clients for a very long time or media training authoritative figures looking to voice their opinion.

Although PR is usually poking out of the ‘traditional’ marketing bin, it also plays an invaluable role when it comes to content marketing. Why? well take this as an example: you have produced an Infographic that ticks all the boxes of the client brief. Great work! It’s now probably going to be uploaded to a page on a website hidden within the main website and nobody will find it, (apart from the google bots of course).

PR people remind content teams to focus on the public. What stories are the most interesting? How are current events shaping our industry, and where can we get involved to tie in with trends? By working collaboratively, PR brains can bring fresh insights, creative angles, and a greater perspective of the public into content marketing production. A PR’s goal is to share a story that is so compelling that members of the media eagerly want to publish the story on their front page. If content marketers crafted equally powerful stories for owned media channels, consumers would eat it up.The distribution vehicles may vary, but the results are the same – good stories that engage your targeted audiences.

Brands are now realising they can also be publishers themselves, so this means they produce news- worthy or thought provoking articles that gain attention. Who are the best people to make this work? Those with a PR brain tend to be able to come up with creative and unique ideas that are sure to gain attention, or know exactly how to work with influencers so that the content spreads further.

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From my own understanding, content marketers are obviously good at thinking about the end goal and taking people through a ‘marketing funnel’ and PR professionals are the ones who can see the ‘bigger picture’ and possibly reach ‘blue sky’ ideas without thinking about the dollar value.

As Jo Swan from Chocolate PR in the UK recently pointed out “Some marketeers, who are largely data and ad centred, believe that PR can take too much effort to generate ‘earned’ media, so better to just pay for exposure instead (Some content marketers prefer to create content, then pay for it to get featured via advertising, but here you lose what content marketing is supposed to be about and the credibility that could be gained through PR).

With figures showing that 66%* of UK marketeers see producing engaging content as their top challenge, PR and content marketing may have just established their relationship.

The website AWOL is a great example of a brand using their own online publication to speak to an audience. Qantas, decided they needed something that would provide thought-provoking and engaging content to appeal to Millennials.

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Westpac have caught on and started doing the same. With the Cusp

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What I am trying to say here, is, if you work in PR or if you work in content marketing, don’t rub the two off against each other because in my opinion, they support each other and the collaboration should be embraced.

All examples are from Australia but please feel free to share your examples with me in the comments below.

 

 

 

You will hear the term Influencer being used over and over again if you work in PR and Marketing. As a reminder, “influencers are Individuals who have the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of their (real or perceived) authority, knowledge, position, or relationship.”

What really makes you an Influencer?

1. So you have 76,000 followers on twitter and you definitely think you have what it takes to influence others. How many of your followers are actually real? Do they care about what you are talking about? Really? Ask yourself this question before bigging yourself up to others. We are all obsessed with pretty pictures and online numbers but when it comes down to it, what does this really mean?.

2. Do you talk about things for the sake of generating attention or are you actually passionate about what you preach. I think we are all guilty of writing about a ‘trending topic’ because we know it will get us more hits on the website, rather than highlighting something we truly believe in. You can still hold influence within a community if you only have 500 followers on twitter or a small following on your facebook fan page. If people are passionate about what you say and do, they will listen and be influenced by you.

3.Seeing the results is the real deal. If you have published an article or a video on behalf of a brand and people have interacted with it or shown some kind of interest, you are responsible for having an effect on behaviour and influencing others. However, if you try this again a few weeks later and nobody engages with you, then i’m afraid the influencer badge has to be passed on.

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4. Is your ego bigger than the moon? This is something I come across quite often and I don’t mind saying it. Some people are influencers and they really do play on it. Showing off like a kid who has got the candy just isn’t cool. People are probably happier to do business with someone who is more likeable + a lesser following! Real influencers know they are lucky to be in a position of authority and respect others.

5. Do you speak to a blogger because an organisation has told you to and then once the deal is done, you never go back? I think a real influencer maintains strong relationships with those who they are genuinely interested in. It becomes more about a long relationships than a quick win.

I really respect those who are doing it the right way but this is just my opinion. Any thoughts?

 

Happy New Year to everyone as we enter 2014

This year will be completely different to the rest and I am pretty excited about it. I have decided to bite the bullet, save the pennies and get used to living out of a rucksack as I travel around Sri Lanka, Thailand and Malaysia before settling in Australia. My highlight of 2013 (except for Glastonbury and the legendary Rolling Stones) was winning the opportunity to travel to Mumbai and take part in Social Media Week 2013. It really did open my eyes, as I experienced a completely different culture and met some truly amazing people. Toby Daniels, co-founder & ceo of crowdcentric and Social Media Week, gave a talk on “The Future of Now” which will be the global theme for Social Media Week 2014.

Toby described this as an open forum-concept, for people to share ideas on how to better integrate technology, to increase productivity in their lives, while, at the same time retaining their humanity. For instance, he suggested that people in digital should try and achieve a balance between work and life, making  sure we have some time out and actually engage with people and not just technology. I agree!

WP_20130927_11_20_30_Pro (2) [Toby Daniels giving a presentation on ‘The Future of Now’ at Social Media Week in Mumbai 2013]

It is very easy to rely on the world of Social Media to keep us connected rather than getting out there and being social. This pretty much inspired me to follow my dream and travel, build my confidence and hopefully meet more interesting people who I can learn from.

I set off at the end of January and you will still find me blogging and tweeting, just not on a regular basis.

I wish you all a happy and healthy 2014

I was invited to take part in this year’s Money Supermarket’s Retail Royalty Challenge and I thought it would be a great idea to get involved and support a charity close to my heart, Kirkwoord Hospice. I must start by pointing out that I haven’t been sponsored or endorsed in anyway for the following activity.

The Rules

  • 1.MoneySupermarket transfer £30 into your PayPal account
    2.You need to shop for suitable items on this budget and purchase as much as possible, meaning that haggling and friendly begging may come into play.
    3.Write a blog post including  pictures of what you bought and explain how the challenge went
  • 4. Send the url of your blog back to Money Supermarket by July 26 2013

Reason For My Chosen Charity

Quite a few years ago my grandma fell very ill with cancer and over time she was unable to look after herself, so she was admitted to Kirkwood Hospice for the last few months of her life. My grandma, Marjorie Hodkinson, sadly died in 2006 due to the cancer but she had nothing but praise for the carers at Kirkwood Hospice and always told us how relaxed and peaceful she felt. This was obviously comforting for my family who were coming to terms with her illness at the time.

About Kirkwood Hospice

Kirkwood Hospice opened on the 18th of March 1987 and is an independent hospice based in Huddersfield. They provide specialist care to adults in Kirklees with advanced, progressive illnesses at any time from diagnosis to the end of life. This is a self funded charity and all care and support for patients and family is free of charge.

Kirkwood Hospice: Staff Base

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Refurbishment

Due to growth and expansion, Kirkwood Hospice started to appeal for funds so that they could upgrade their rooms and facilites for all patients. They needed £3m in total and were requesting the funds throughout the year of 2012. You can view more informaton by visiting www.capitalappeal.org.

Starting The Challenge

I had various email conversations with the lovely Emily, a fundraiser at the organisation, who told me that Kirkwood Hospice would really appreciate some kind of display unit or mannequin heads they could display wigs on for their support and therapy patients. She also told me that toys, activity books and anything else for the family room would be appreciated.

The Shopping Begins

As I predicted, the best place to look for mannequin heads was ebay and after contacting a couple of stores, I managed to secure a really good deal with mannequinsdirect who kindly sold me 2 polystyrene display heads for the price of one. They didn’t charge me for delivery and they arrived a couple of days later.

2x display heads = £7

Heads

Toys

As I have been a very busy lady recenlty, I decided to stick to online shopping and look for some really good activity books and puzzles for the children. Asda Direct seemed to have the best offering and a lot of the items had been reduced in the sale. You can see what I managed to bag below and I must say I was very happy with how many items I could purchase for the remainder of the £30.

photo-1 (2)4 photo (2) 3 The total of these items = £22.47 and thanks to Asda’s click and collect service; I was able to avoid delivery charges. Shortly after placing the order I was told the wooden clock puzzle was out of stock so I had to exchange this for a similar item at a price of £4.50, but still within the budget!

Kirkwood Hospice will be moving their patients back to the newly refurbished unit shortly and I can’t wait to meet Emily and hand over the items in a couple of weeks. I will make sure I write a follow up post with pictures for all to see!

Thanks again Money Supermarket for letting me take part in this challenge!

The Twitterati, Jo Whiley, Mick Jagger and everybody else may have quietened down about Glasto 2013 after Andy Murray’s Wimbledon victory put England’s second favourite (wink and a nudge) summer event into sharper focus.  However there is a very good reason I’m piping up now, I’ve finally recovered!

How I Got There

I travelled by coach and expected it to be a bit of a nightmare but the journey was rather amusing as the driver looked and acted like Peter Kay. I also got chatting to a really nice group of people which made the time pass. Coach travel is also ‘green’ which makes you feel like you have done something good before you drink your own body weight in alcohol for four days. I avoided three hours of queuing too, bonus!

The Music I Enjoyed

The Rolling Stones were a big hit and it was amazing to finally see the rock and roll legends in action! Mick Jagger has still got the moves and the charming charisma, plus they had us all dancing in the fields like it was 1972! I would also have to say Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds is one act that sticks in my mind, even though I’m not a huge fan he is defiantly an interesting character and very entertaining. He was so loud he nearly blew the PA system.

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Time For Relaxation

If you need time out from the music and the craziness of thousands of people rushing to the next stage,  a stroll around the Green Fields is the perfect solution. There are various exhibitions and campaigns taking place for charities like Greenpeace which are very interactive and often encourage your envolvement. You can also treat yourself to an organic full english breakfast followed by a relaxing massage in the healing fields.

The Camping

This had to be the most pleasant experience whilst camping at a festival but I must admit, following advice from a boy who has travelled the world and camped at various festivals did help (I hate to admit it). As long as you have a spacious tent, a comfy air bed and plenty of wet wipes then there is nothing to worry about. I was also lucky enough to sleep in this amazing tent with lots of space, thanks to Outdoorkit and their kindness.  The tent was fairly easy to put up and it felt very stable once we had pegged it into the ground firmly.  The porch area was spacious and perfect for sitting in during the rainy day on Thursday.

 photo (2)A view over Glastonbury from our camping spot

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You can find all of their Vango tents online here

The Food I Tasted

The food at Glastonbury is definitely worth sampling as you can get your hands on various types of cuisine raging from an Indian Thali in the Green Fields to your standard British chips ‘wi toppings’. There is plenty of choice so you can choose something different every day and evening of your stay. The other good thing is, Glastonbury allows you to take food and drinks into the festival which can save you a few pounds.

And the verdict is, I will be going again next year!

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