All communications professionals can all agree on one thing – a marketing campaign needs to provoke an emotional response.
With the growth of digital channels, we have never consumed as much written content as we do now.
Well written content can resonate with your audience and communicate messages well. But if you don’t get it right, you can switch off your readers.
Earlier in the year, some of the DTW team – spurred on by director Lorna McAteer-Bingham, undertook a fitness challenge to support mental health awareness. This was also a great opportunity for a bit of friendly rivalry and competition amongst colleagues!
With more and more of us connecting virtually using Zoom, Teams and other online systems, DTW Director Lorna McAteer-Bingham takes a look at some of the simple steps you can take to help make your online meeting a success.
One of the biggest changes to businesses as a result of Covid-19 has been the increase in online meetings. At DTW we have used online meeting software such as Skype, Teams and Zoom for many years to keep in touch with clients who are often spread across the globe. But, with lockdown resulting in a shift to home working we have found these tools have become just as crucial for internal communication.
With more time being spent conducting meetings virtually, we wanted to share our top tips for success.
Think about your environment
One of the biggest challenges of working from home is adapting to work full-time in an environment away from the office. Added to this, in many cases we’re now sharing our workspaces with partners, children and pets – all of which can be an unwanted distraction when taking part in a meeting.
If you’re lucky enough to have a space you can set up a home office in, try to avoid strong sources of natural light behind you and anything that might generate unwanted background noise. If you’re in a particularly dark area you could invest in a simple ring light that attaches to your laptop to give things a boost.
Where sharing your space with other family members, try to plan your day in advance to allow for some peace and quiet around the time of your meeting. Equally, don’t be afraid to acknowledge that you might be subject to the odd unexpected interruption. After all, many of us are in the same position. Where sound is a challenge, consider headphones or a headset; the ones that come with many mobile phones have a microphone built in.
Test the technology
There’s nothing worse than joining an online meeting only to spend the first 20 minutes dealing with technical issues, with participants sorting out connectivity, audio or video challenges. Whilst this is sometimes unavoidable, it’s worth planning in some time in advance of a meeting to carry out a test run. This is especially important if you’re using a system for the first time as it may require you to install additional software and restart your computer.
Test out functions like screen sharing, get your documents ready in advance and don’t be the one everyone is watching struggling to get to grips with technology.
Set a clear agenda – and use the technology to help you stick to it
Knowing what you want to achieve from a meeting and setting a clear agenda is key to success – online or otherwise.
Where you are working on a long term project with a client, consider creating a standing agenda for meetings which covers off key points from the project plan. You can assign each section of the agenda to a specified team member to take responsibility for driving forward.
Be very clear in what you are saying
What you’re sharing on screen is as important – if not more so – than what you say. It keeps people focused and provides a record that you and others can go back to.
Working remotely takes away some of the non-verbal cues we all give off in meetings, so be really clear and explicit with people as to what you need them to do.
It comes back to good planning – but the online virtual delivery is a little different.
Follow up with actions
Make sure your meetings result in action. Appointing one of the team to do this at the start is critical. We always circulate a Contact Report after a meeting which captures key decisions, actions and deadlines.
They provide an extremely useful record of progress and prevent important aspects of a job getting sidelined or missed!
And, as with any meeting, getting the fundamentals right is only one part of it. Giving time and space for everyone involved to give their input and listening to their views can be key. It’s also worth bearing in mind that those taking part may have different learning styles and approaches to communicating, so it’s important to reflect on this and adapt your approach accordingly.
Thanks for reading.
It’s not just the TV and film industry that has been impacted by lockdown putting a pause on filming. Capturing content for corporate and social media has also been put on hold. Whilst there’s light at the end of the tunnel in terms of being able to resume filming, DTW Director Pete Whelan looks at some of the ways you can keep your content fresh in the meantime.
The world changed overnight when the lockdown was announced. In terms of communications, one of the biggest areas of impact was filming. We just had to stop overnight.
Even as we start to emerge from lockdown, challenges around filming aren’t going to disappear completely. We will need to take account of things like social distancing in everything we do.
As lockdown eases we’re making plans for filming over the summer months, but in the meantime, we haven’t stopped ‘doing stuff’. Here are just a few ways you can keep creating fresh content for your channels:
Mine the archives
If you’ve got old film on file, repost things which have worked well for you in the past. Don’t over-churn content and remember that videos you have posted previously may have a shorter shelf-life now than they did when they were fresh.
If you still have access to your raw files and footage for film content you created, consider creating new cuts from it. You can update things like graphics, colour grade and music to give this old content a fresh feel.
Don’t be afraid to self-shoot
Lockdown has resulted in is audiences being much more receptive to content being created in a “user-generated” style. Don’t be afraid to have a go at filming your own videos using a smartphone. It won’t be Academy award-winning production values, but sometimes speed is more important.
By investing in a couple of simple tools such as a tripod, microphone and it’s possible to capture a range of shots which you can turn into useable content for your channels.
You can edit this yourself using smartphone apps like Adobe Premier Rush, or have it edited professionally (as we have done for a number of our clients) to add extra polish to the end product.
Switch to animation
Animation and motion graphics can work just as well as film – sometimes even better. It also has the advantage of being an approach that can be delivered entirely remotely.
Since the start of lockdown, we’ve produced a range of animations for our clients, many of which were originally planned as film projects.
Animation also has the advantage of being flexible and easy to update. This will be increasingly important as we move beyond lockdown and into the world of living with Covid-19.
Pause and re-evaluate
Of course, in addition to the above, you can also use the pause in filming to take stock and put plans in place for the future.
The content plans and strategies you had in place prior to lockdown might need to be reviewed and updated. If that’s the case you can take a look at our recent post on this very topic.
We’re already planning for our filming schedule starting up again in July – all with appropriate social distancing and disinfection protocols in place – and we’re very much looking forward to getting back out and hitting record on some great content for our clients!
Developing an effective crisis communications strategy
With today’s 24-hour news cycle, it’s now even more important to be on the ball when responding to a crisis. It’s therefore important that you have an effective crisis communications strategy.
With this in mind, I headed to Newcastle for a CIPR training session last week.
The workshop saw comms professionals from across the North East tackle a hypothetical crisis. Using listening skills, concise writing and a whole lot of empathy, we can make a huge difference.
Here are the five key points I took away from the session when thinking about developing an effective crisis communications strategy:
1. You already know what your crisis could be, so why not prepare the response?
While ‘crisis’ suggests ‘unexpected’, good comms pros will be able to predict what their crises may be.
If you work in the food industry, your greatest fear could be a customer suffering an allergic reaction to one of your products.
If you work for an international airline, the worst-case scenario is obviously a fatal incident involving passengers and aircrew.
A crisis will never develop in the way you thought, so you can never completely prepare. Yet, you can consider the risks, your immediate responses and your tone of voice.
Having a strategy for how you respond will enable you to get the wheels in motion when the time comes.
Practice makes perfect – so by running through a variety of scenarios, it will help should you face a real-life crisis.
2. Don’t hide something that you know to be true
While most of us know that denial is a sure way to double (or triple!) the size of a crisis, too many organisations still instinctively want to try and hide something for as long as possible.
This should never be accepted as the route out of a crisis.
As communication professionals, we need to know everything from the outset – warts and all. We can only advise and protect an organisation if we know the true extent and scale of the issue.
Be honest from the start as lies and deceit will only come back to bite you.
3. Only comment on the facts
Social media is a hive of gossip and misinformation at the best of times, but when a crisis breaks, the rumour mill goes into overdrive.
Fires can become explosions, illnesses can become pandemics and arguments can become full-blown wars.
Remember, if it’s your crisis, people will be looking at you for the true facts of the situation. Take ownership and take control. If you don’t know if something is true, then don’t mention it.
4. Make sure your statements and actions are consistent
You’ve got your statement written. It’s as good as it can be; proactive and reassuring. Make sure it’s on your website and social media channels, all your messaging is consistent and your senior team is well briefed.
Don’t run the risk of your CEO going off-piste by playing things down or diminishing the issue altogether in an interview or on social media.
It’s vital that all messages are consistent and reflect what you are actually doing. Actions speak louder than words!
5. If apologising is the right thing to do, then do it
Many companies and organisations are wary of issuing an apology. But sometimes, saying sorry is the only thing to do.
If the crisis is a result of a genuine mistake, make sure that your response includes an apology.
Regret, reassurance and response to a crisis can protect your organisation from further animosity. We all make mistakes so let’s be brave and hold our hands up. It can win you respect and friends in the long-run.
Above all else, just make sure you communicate with your audiences on a regular basis.
In the era of instant responses, they expect it.
Thank you to CIPR North East and Newcastle University Lecturer in Public Relations, Ramona Slusarczyk, for hosting the event. If you are responsible for managing public communications within your organisation and would like to discuss your crisis communications strategy in further detail, we would love to hear from you.
The team at North East public relations and digital marketing agency DTW is expanding with the addition of three new members of staff to kick-off 2020.
Anthony Doyle, Rebecca Dew and Richard Johnston have all joined the team here at DTW. Based in the Tees Valley, DTW has over 30 years of experience specialising in public relations and digital marketing campaigns.
This expansion comes on the back of a series of successes in securing new clients. There has also been significant growth throughout existing projects across the UK and further afield. We are currently working for organisations like the Law Society of England and Wales, the Financial Conduct Authority and multi-national tolling and mobility solutions provider emovis. We are also proud to be working with several well known local organisations. These include Road Safety GB North East, Middlesbrough & Stockton Mind and Middlesbrough Council.
Anthony joins the team as a Senior Strategist specialising in digital marketing, data analysis, SEO and website development. Anthony is a Teesside native who has worked around the world on a diverse range of projects. He brings a combination of strategic, technical and development expertise to DTW. Anthony will be leading on the development of the DTW’s growing digital offering to clients.
He has 20 years’ experience of working in digital marketing, having led enterprise marketing teams for major multi-national organisations. These include companies such as Frog Education and QS Unisolution, in the software and education sectors.
Rebecca joins us as a Public Relations and Digital Engagement Specialist. Rebecca will be providing media relations, copywriting and social media content services to clients. She has a National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) in Multimedia Journalism and a BA (Hons) in English Language and Linguistics from York St John University.
Richard joins us as the lead creative in our growing film and digital content team. Richard previously worked at the prestigious Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity in Canada. He is responsible for all aspects of filming – from storyboarding and planning, to working behind the camera and editing. Richard graduated in 2016 with a BA (Hons) First Class in Film and Television Production from Teesside University.
Strengthening our hugely talented team
Chris Taylor, Managing Director of DTW, said: “Our vision is very simple. It is about creating meaningful campaigns that are world-class, make a difference and help our clients succeed. I’m delighted to welcome Anthony, Rebecca and Richard because they will strengthen our hugely talented team. They are already making a difference to the work we are delivering for our clients.”
He added: “We’ve started 2020 with a bang. It’s important for us to invest in quality staff to ensure that we can continue to meet the growing demand from different sectors of the economy.”
DTW is ranked by PR Week as one of the top ten public sector specialist PR agencies in the UK. With these latest additions to the team, we now employ 15 people based in Guisborough, North East England. DTW is an expert digital marketing agency and public relations consultancy alongside film, social media, animation and design.
If you are interested in hearing more about how DTW can help your organisation succeed, get in touch with our team today.
The team at North East marketing agency DTW is backing local independent traders this Christmas with a touching seasonal short film encouraging people to #ShopLocal.
People have welcomed the #ShopLocal film on social media, which features a range of small retailers and businesses in Guisborough, highlighting the huge difference local customers make to small retailers in our towns and villages.
The short festive film was produced by Guisborough-based DTW’s film and digital content specialists Richard Johnston and Katie Mitchell as part of an online advent calendar the agency produced in the run up to Christmas.
They decided to go out into Guisborough to speak to businesses about why people should shop local, filming some of the town’s business owners, showing the vital contribution they make to the town’s economy.
Richard, who lives in Guisborough, said: “I’m incredibly proud of Guisborough and feel passionate about the people and businesses who make this town what it is.
“We have so many quirky shops and cafes here and I wanted to showcase the difference small independent retailers and businesses make to the town.
“They work incredibly hard all year to make a living and offer unique goods and a personal service that cannot be matched by bigger chains and superstores.
“We met so many amazing people while filming. I hope this encourages people to shop local, not just at Christmas, but throughout the year.”
Katie said she hoped the film captured the atmosphere of the high street and the genuine difference small businesses make.
“Shopping local is personal, you get to know the business owner and they get to know you,” said Katie.
“Money spent in local shops stays in the local community, it supports local jobs and local families. At DTW, we shop in Guisborough all the time. Not only is it handy, but we have a great mix of shops and services. We wouldn’t want to lose them.
“If we want to keep vibrant local high streets, we all must do our bit and hopefully this video captures that.”
The film, which has been provided to local retailers and released on social media, is picking up attention from across the region, particularly among the community in Guisborough.
DTW Managing Director Chris Taylor said: “We produce films for clients all year, but this was a great opportunity to do something for independent retailers in Guisborough, and across the region, who we feel passionately about and who provide a fabulous service throughout the year.
“At a time when people are shopping more and more online and visiting huge superstores, at DTW we appreciate what independent businesses offer and the difference they make to the local economy.
“It’s nice to give something back, and I’d like to thank Richard and Katie for a great little film. We hope it helps make a difference for a few local retailers this Christmas.”
DTW is a marketing, communications and public relations agency that works for clients including the Law Society, emovis, the Financial Conduct Authority, RSGB NE, Middlesbrough & Stockton Mind, and others across the UK and around the world by providing expert marketing and public relations consultancy alongside film, social media, animation and design.
For more information, call 01287 610404.
There is always excitement at DTW when the office Christmas lights switch on and we trade our usual playlist for something a little more festive. So, what better way to celebrate the season than to create a Christmas video celebrating our fabulous local high street.
Those who have visited DTW will know we are lucky enough to be based on the beautiful Guisborough high street, adorned with many quirky cafes and independent retailers. Inspired by this, we decided to pop into a few shops with our cameras and find out why it’s so important to shop local this Christmas.
When it comes to shopping local, we learnt that:
- Local businesses are unique and will provide unique gifts
- Shopping local is personal, you get to know the business owner and they get to know you
- Money spent in local shops stays in the local community, it supports local jobs and local families
It was great to talk to other businesses local to us, getting to know the shop owners and building further connections. However, my favourite part of the project was definitely window shopping during the film days and picking out the Christmas music when we returned to the office and began the edit!
We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and remember to check out the unique gifts your local, independent retailers have to offer you.
It’s common knowledge that we love a good bridge here at DTW Towers.
So, we’re delighted that Sunderland’s Northern Spire bridge has been nominated in the Institution of Civil Engineers’ (ICE) international People’s Choice Award.
The People’s Choice Award is decided by public votes, so it’s time to get involved and cast your vote today. Voting closes on September 27.
The awards celebrate the best civil engineering projects of the year from across the globe that have made a positive impact for their local communities.
Northern Spire is competing against a range of impressive projects, including the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the Shed cultural centre in New York City, the Colwyn Bay Waterfront in Wales, and a children’s surgery facility in Leeds.
We know we are biased, but we believe Northern Spire, which has dominated the Sunderland skyline since opening in August of last year, has what it takes to win.
Having provided communications and PR support to Sunderland City Council on this magnificent new bridge for three years, we appreciate the planning, effort and dedication that went into bringing this impressive structure to life by a team of more than 2,000 people.
Not only does Northern Spire look good, but innovative engineering methods were used to construct it, from building the deck in two sections on the riverbank and launching them out across the River Wear, to fabricating the massive 105m A-frame centerpiece in Belgium and sailing it to site.
We were privileged to work with such a team of skilled, experienced people on such a great project right here in the north east. We should all feel extremely proud of Northern Spire.
You can read and watch more about our wider infrastructure work here.