We’ve had a great start to 2021 at DTW having started work with some important new clients in the membership bodies sector on a range of exciting projects.
DTW has been ranked as the leading public sector PR agency in the north east and Yorkshire and amongst the top 15 public sector specialists in the UK by leading industry publication PR Week.
The success comes in PR Week’s 2021 iteration of its annual listing of leading agencies across different sectors. The company was also listed in the top 50 UK agencies outside of London for 2021.
With the new BBC Director General, Tim Davie, taking up his post this week, at the top of his extensive to-do list is the task of restoring trust in the corporation and re-establishing the notion of impartial reporting.
We’re offering 20% off our filming packages for a limited time this summer.
There’s limited availability and it’s first come first served. You have to book by the end of July to get the discount.
Wondering how film and video can help you engage your audience and deliver your key messages? We’ll be holding an Instagram chat with DTW’s film production team where you can get answers to all of your questions.
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!
It’s not been a good week for Government communicators and public relations professionals in the UK. Our MD Chris Taylor takes issue with anonymous briefings about spin doctors, the plans to massively cut UK Government comms activity and the challenges ahead.
Very occasionally we see an advert or campaign that stops us in our tracks: something that resonates, speaks our language, and makes us sit up and listen.
Surprisingly, it doesn’t happen as often as it should – especially when the aim is behaviour change.
Maybe that’s because there’s so much noise out there: we have become partially deaf and blind to the millions of messages we see every day.
Perhaps, many are bland, exactly the same as what’s gone before. Or, perhaps, they are not actually speaking our language at all.
Hats off then to City of York Council, which has knocked the ball out of the park with its anti-litter campaign.
Bold, brave and brilliant, it talks directly to the litter louts, uses a language they recognise, and ultimately shames them into changing their behaviour.
Hitting the right buttons
This campaign does everything a good campaign should. It:
- Identifies its audience ✅
- Understands how they think ✅
- Speaks their language ✅
- Uses clear messaging ✅
- Tells people what to do ✅
- Results in a change of behaviour ✅
Most people want to do the right thing and want to be seen as a good person. We want to fit in.
Nobody wants to be classed as the village idiot, or a ‘tosser’, as in this case. It’s just not cool.
And nobody wants to be the butt of the joke. And with this campaign, litter louts are certainly that.
It will have a far greater impact than simply asking people to put their litter in the bin.
Dare to be different
Direct, head-turning campaigns, such as this, are more common in Australia and New Zealand, especially around road safety and public health. But in the UK, we have been too risk averse to adopt them, perhaps fearing a public outcry from a minority.
It’s refreshing to see a local authority – normally the epitome of straight and proper – talk in our language, confront the offenders, and use humour to get their message across.
Big round of applause to the City of York Council teams that created this campaign, and then gave it the go ahead. 👏🏼
We hope to see more of it!
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 has been a crazy ten weeks or so. Chris Taylor, DTW Managing Director, gives his take on life running an agency in lockdown.
Firstly, my heart goes out to everyone who has suffered or lost someone they care about to Covid-19 (or anything else) over recent months.
Secondly, I’m sure most people would join me in paying tribute to the amazing work done by NHS, social care and other frontline key workers. You’ve been awesome. Thank you.
Moving into the DTW world, we closed our office on Friday 13 March. Since then the team has been working remotely – some in spare rooms, at kitchen tables and even in motorhomes on the drive.
In all honesty, we thought we’d be away for a few weeks rather than several months. But it feels like lots has changed since 13 March.
A massive thank you to our team, our clients and our partners for everything you have done to work with us over the last ten weeks. We wouldn’t be where we are today without you.
Here’s a few takeaways from agency life in lockdown.
Content is still king
Everything has been urgent and important. Almost every piece of content or campaign that was planned back in January/February now feels like it’s from a different age or another planet.
Marketing and communications activity has often been leading the way as organisations re-adjusted to the world changing around them. Digital channels became even more important and we all had to learn a whole new Covid-19 language and apply it quickly.
The engagement levels for the campaign work we’ve been doing with fresh, relevant and appropriate content have increased. Turnaround times have been remarkable. People have responded to the challenge.
Talk to people. Even better, listen to them
Staff, clients, partners. Listen and understand their challenges and work with them. Video chats may not be perfect but with technology being updated constantly, they are becoming more and more effective. We’re making huge use of them. Keep your camera on for small group discussions. Eye contact is important.
Remember that people of all ages have faced very different personal choices and challenges over the past two months. From a leadership perspective, keep in touch so you understand what the problems are before you try to provide solutions.
Whether it’s with colleagues, your family, your local community, or across your professional network. Communication, honesty and quick and clear decision-making are all important.
We shared our 12-week emergency plan with the team on 26 March. It was critical in showing the way forward and keeping us focused. We’re working on the plan for the next 12 months now we’ve had a chance to take stock and work out what the ‘new normal’ might look like.
Events, dear boy, events….
I don’t often quote Lenin, and certainly not in combination with Macmillan, but 101 years ago he said “There are decades where nothing happens, and then there are weeks where decades happen.” We’ve just been through some of them.
The pace of events and change has been phenomenal. Just from a DTW perspective, we’ve been commissioned for major new projects, some clients have increased marketing investment – recognising that it’s a good time to get noticed if others are scaling back, and others have cut their investment while they work on their own emergency plans.
Whatever your plan is or was, you have to be nimble, flexible or agile (insert your own buzzword here). But stick to your principles and values and make sure your actions reflect your words.
We’ve furloughed a couple of members of staff who couldn’t work due to much lower demand for certain services.
The human impact for many people has of course been much more profound. You can’t forget that.
Be prepared for next time
Updating our business continuity plan over the years was never a task any of us looked forward to with much relish, but I’m glad we invested time and money in doing it. Covid-19 has pushed through major organisational changes around the world that would have taken years otherwise.
Similarly, any business needs some cash reserves. Your rainy day fund (note the irony of the best British spring weather ever) is there for a reason. This has been it.
Covid-19 has challenged us like never before but this preparation and planning meant our emergency 12-week plan was implemented almost immediately. Now we truly understand the importance of business continuity and expecting the unexpected. Preparation is key.
Look after yourself
You can’t take care of others if you’re silently drowning. Much more qualified people than me have given much better advice about the importance of looking after yourself. They’re all correct. The CIPR’s mental health resources are a great place to start if you’re looking for support.
Looking back, my stress level first peaked early on the morning of 12 March when reading about hospitals in Italy being overwhelmed, as I lay in bed with a cold. I was back there a couple of times that first fortnight in particular. Support from the team, friends and family and going on a daily bike ride with my amazing kids kept me sane.
So, what happens next?
In one way, nothing has changed. We carry on providing an important and valuable service for our clients, and I’ve never been prouder of the work our team delivers.
In every other way, almost everything has changed. We’re not all going back to the office any time soon. Working from home is working fine.
More importantly right now, it’s the best way we can contribute to keeping everybody as safe and well as we can and preventing a second wave.
Thanks for reading. Stay safe everyone. See you all on the other side.