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Cut! What to do if you can’t film….

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!

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#teamDTW Latest News Social Media

Top tips for managing social media in a Covid-19 world

Covid-19 has changed the way businesses and organisations position and market themselves. DTW Strategist Hannah Cheetham takes time to draw breath and consider how organisations need to re-focus social media in a Covid-19 world.

The social media world was turned upside down by Covid-19. The landscape changed overnight and content that was appropriate suddenly became redundant and out of date.

When Covid-19 began to emerge as an issue in the UK during February and March, we reacted quickly for our clients to review plans and strategies. In many cases this meant quickly pivoting to remove or replace content and tailor messaging.

For clients like the Law Society, we re-planned the list of topics we were covering for our weekly Twitter chat, SolicitorChat, and developed new graphics focussed on Covid-19. For others, such as Road Safety GB North East, we updated our content schedule to focus messaging on the increased number of pedestrians and cyclists using the roads.

As we look ahead to the next 12-18 months it’s important to move beyond the react and pivot stage. Plans need to be made for the “new normal” where social and digital media will play an increasingly important role in communications.

If you’re wondering where to start with dealing with all of this, here are our top five tips for getting your digital and social strategy right in the new post-lockdown world:

1. Be clear on your goals

Before you start out, it’s critical you know what you’re setting out to achieve. Targets, goals and KPIs that you have set previously may no longer be relevant or may require revising. Depending on what your approach to digital and social has been over the last 10 weeks, take a look at the data and analytics you have available to help inform this process.

2. Know your audience

When was the last time you took the pulse of your audience’s online activity? Covid-19 has changed the way that people use and interact with their peers and brands online and what you knew in January could have changed massively now. Tools such as Sprout Social’s listening platform (paid) and Answer the Public (offers free and paid options) are great for getting snapshots of online behaviours which you can feed into your plans.

3. Be timely and be relevant

This was always important but is even more so now. Consider things like greater use of long form content such as featured articles and blogs which provide your audience with a more detailed insight into the topics you’re communicating than you might have done in the past. We’re all spending more time online now and as a result are more likely to engage with this detailed content.

4. Stop, evaluate and listen

Things are changing constantly, so consider breaking your campaign or activity into phased bursts with pauses built in to review what is working (and what isn’t). This allows you to tweak and amend your approach to take into account what’s generating the best results and any changes in the wider world which may have an impact on your work.

5. Don’t be afraid to be bold

We’ve already seen a number of big brands successfully change their approach to social and digital as a result of Covid-19. If the data and insights back up the idea of ripping up your carefully thought out plans from earlier in the year and setting out in a new direction, don’t be afraid to do this!

What’s certain, in addition to the above, is that things will continue to change and develop as we adapt to new ways of living and working – and I think that digital and social media will be right at the centre of this.

Thanks for reading.

Hannah

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#teamDTW Latest News

DTW – how to get in touch during the coronavirus lockdown

We hope you’re all well and staying safe. Please read the information below on how to contact #teamDTW during this time.

Our team are working and we’re here to help our clients. But we know it’s not business as normal for anyone.

Obviously, in light of the ongoing coronavirus situation, DTW is adopting a more agile way of working to ensure our clients get the same great service until things change and we are all able to move around again.

All of our team members are working remotely. We’re fully set up to work from home and lots of us have done this on a regular basis in recent years.

If you want to get in touch with a member of the team but don’t have their contact details please email office@dtw.co.uk and we will pick up your message and come back to you right away.

Stay safe everyone. See you on the other side.

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#teamDTW Latest News Video

Planning for the future – how to make film work for you on a long-term project

Filming – that’s easy these days – you just get the iPhone out and start recording, no need to plan anything. Not true…..

Whilst it’s tempting to think that capturing a long-term project on film is a case of just getting on with it, taking that approach could result in you running into headaches and problems as you get further down the line.

Having worked on a number of long-term filming projects for our clients, I thought it would be useful to share some of the key considerations we think about on day one.

Plan ahead

Planning is the key to any successful project, and this is especially true of film. Think about not only what you want to produce now, but also what you might want to produce in future and why it’s needed. Ensure that you factor your future content requirements into things like the questions you ask in interviews, the illustrative footage you capture and the points in time that you decide to film things.

When working with clients like the Law Society, we regularly capture a range of content in interviews that we can go back and reuse/repurpose for many months (or even years in some cases).

Law Society | Brand Campaign 2019 | Conveyancing | Red Kite Law and Anne

Law Society | Brand Campaign 2019 | Spotify Advert 2019

Having a robust structure in place so you can easily dip into your archive of footage to quickly access a specific series of shots or an interview on a particular topic will be a huge save on time and resources, especially in the case of large projects where you might have hours and hours of interview content on file.

This doesn’t have to be laborious – for some projects, it’s simply a case of setting up and organising your footage by date so that you can cross-reference with a document outlining who/what was filmed on a particular day. In other cases, it might involve taking advantage of advances in technology such as AI-based tools which can transcribe interviews and even recognise objects and context in illustrative footage to give you a searchable archive of your material.

This also extends to having a plan in place to backup and archive your content securely so that, in the case of the unthinkable happening and a hard drive failing, you’ve always got another copy of the files saved somewhere safely.

For our work on the Northern Spire project we took the approach of organising all of our footage into a series of projects based around the key milestones of the bridge’s construction, and then further organised by date, time and camera/footage type (as we were using a mix of ground-based and drone cameras). This meant that when it came to editing the Story of the Project video to wrap up and summarise the entire construction of the bridge from start to finish, we could quickly and efficiently find the specific interview quote or stunning drone shot we needed.

NORTHERN SPIRE | HOW THE BRIDGE CAME TO LIFE

Don’t forget about your audience

Often, the temptation when you have a mountain of fantastic content at your fingertips is to dive in and mine it for all its worth, producing and releasing tens or in some cases hundreds of outputs in one hit – it’s something we have all been guilty of at one time or another in the past.

The key question to remember – and this goes back to my first point about planning – is what you want to communicate to your audience and what action you want them to take as a result of that. Based on that, you map out what your content strategy is and how many outputs you need. This might involve producing the same 60 second video for use across multiple platforms or could take a bespoke approach with specific edits produced on a platform by platform basis.

You might just need one really good piece of film to make an impact – don’t over complicate the process or lose sight of the messaging and purpose by switching focus on too many different outputs.

For our work with the Solicitors Regulation Authority on their campaign to launch their new Clickable Logo, we produced specific pieces of animated content for each of the channels we were using as part of the campaign based on a single core narrative – you can see some examples of these below.

SRA | REGULATION CHANGE CAMPAIGN | MIDROLL

SRA | REGULATION CHANGE CAMPAIGN | INSTAGRAM STORY

Of course, each individual project will have its own quirks and idiosyncrasies which is why working with a supplier who is used to planning ahead and spotting issues before they become a problem is so important. If you want to find out more about how DTW can help you plan and deliver your next film project, whether it be long or short term, drop me an email at pete@dtw.co.uk.

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#teamDTW Latest News

#ShopLocal film encouraging people to support the high street is a hit this Christmas

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.

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#teamDTW Latest News

Shop local this Christmas

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.

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Vote for Northern Spire

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.

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Emma and Ellie scoop DTW Public Relations Student of the Year award at Teesside University

We’ve been doing our bit to recognise talented communicators of the future this month. We’ve sponsored the Public Relations prize at Teesside University’s annual Journalism Awards.

The joint winners of the Public Relations Student of the Year prize – Emma Morton and Ellie Dalton – will each spend a week on work experience at DTW over the next year to give them an insight into working life at a public relations and communications agency in 2019.

It was a pleasure to be invited to the awards evening at the Uni’s Love it Lounge and present Emma and Ellie with their prize. We’re looking forward to seeing them over the next few months and welcoming them to #teamDTW.

It’s important organisations in our industry are involved with initiatives like this. It gives students a chance to shine and learn and helps keep us businesses on our toes as well. In our experience, the ideas, creativity and passion that young graduates bring when working with us is a huge asset to DTW.

And we should know, we’re proud to say we have six Teesside graduates as part of our team. They are specialists in everything from animation and video to marketing strategy, and we’re regularly in and out of the University to chat to students and lecturers about various industry issues and opportunities.

Emma Morton (left) and Ellie Dalton (right) with their certificates and DTW Director Lorna McAteer-Bingham

Huge congrats to Emma and Ellie!!

Thanks for reading.

Lorna

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2019 PR Week ranking success for DTW

We’re proud to say that DTW has again been ranked in the top ten specialist public sector public relations agencies in the UK by leading industry publication PR Week.

We have retained our position of 8th in the 2019 league table, which was published in May 2019. It means we’ve been in the top 10 for the past five years now.

As an agency that is highly skilled and experienced in working with the public sector over a long period of time, this continues to be important recognition for the work we deliver. The public sector – in the UK and elsewhere – has changed phenomenally, but the principles of good communications and PR remain the same.

Getting the basics right

Firstly, you have to understand the communications objectives, make sure you know who your audience is and do the insight and research work. Importantly, this makes sure you understand how your audience feels about the issue you are engaging with them on.

Then it is all about clear, authentic and honest communications – whether you are seeking to generate behaviour change, inform people about new initiatives or seek the views of residents and stakeholders on a new proposal.

Once you have those elements clear, you can think about the tactics, channels and creative themes you need to use for maximum impact.

This approach is relevant for so much more than public sector bodies, and the private sector increasingly needs to adopt it where it is delivering public services.

With the majority of our work focusing on that for membership organisations and private sector led infrastructure and construction developments, our skills and knowledge of the public sector market are proving valuable to our private sector clients.

So if you’ve got a challenging project coming up that you think would benefit from our public sector approach, we’d love you to get in touch.

Thanks for reading

Chris

 

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Latest News Social Media

Is social media advocacy the solution to reduced organic reach for brands?

How does having your own private social media army sound? Interesting…then please read on.

When it comes to posting content as a brand on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn it’s becoming increasing difficult to reach your audience if you just rely on organic (i.e. you don’t pay to promote it) content.

There is a rapidly diminishing return in terms of the natural organic performance of content – this can mean reach as low as 2% of your page’s audience – as networks push to make themselves more relevant to users and simultaneously try to grow revenue through advertising.

So, aside from reviewing the approach and tone of the content you’re posting or going cap in hand and asking for a bigger budget for promoted content on social media, what are the options?

Social advocacy

As I see it, the biggest opportunity for anyone delivering social media in 2019 has to be around harnessing the power of your employees as social media advocates who can utilise their personal social media channels to amplify your organisation’s messages and activity.

Advocacy grows the potential audience for your content beyond your owned channels to the networks of your employees and creates a more personal link between your messages and the audience – think of it as having your own private army of micro-influencers.

And you’ll be getting one over on those pesky algorithms. The platforms are much more likely to favour content that has been posted by an individual rather than an organisation.

Naturally, there are risks to taking this approach – you are delegating some control of your brand away from the carefully controlled confines of the marketing/communications team and in the hands of your employees, but with careful planning and oversight the risks to this can be negated.

For example, in our work with the Solicitors Regulation Authority, we have helped to train over 100  advocates on how they can effectively use their presence on social media (across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) to amplify the SRA’s messages in a time and place that suits them whilst at the same time enhancing their own presences on social media – a true win-win situation.

Training and resources

In conjunction with training, putting in place a system to centralise and track advocates not only ensures that sharing content is a simple and straightforward process, but also means you can track and reward the advocates who are doing the most to share content. There are a whole range of these platforms out there including Smarp (which we use in our work with the SRA) and Bambu which we have access to as part of our membership of Sprout Social’s Agency Partner programme.

We’re currently working on a whitepaper which will provide a much more detailed insight into how we see social media advocacy developing over the coming months, but in the meantime here are our three top recommendations for setting up an advocacy programme:

  1. Plan ahead – make sure what you want to achieve from launching an advocacy programme is aligned with your organisation’s overall objectives
  2. Support your advocates – consider ways you can train your advocates around effective use of social media, provide context and give them the confidence to take ownership of their work in the programme.
  3. Put a structure in place to systemise the programme – this includes thinking about how you will disseminate the content you want to be shared, track the effectiveness of the programme and recognise/reward success.

If you want to register to receive a copy of our whitepaper when it’s published later in the spring or find out how you could make an advocacy programme work for your organisation get in touch with me – pete@dtw.co.uk or Jess – jess@dtw.co.uk – and we’d be happy to chat things through with you over a cup of coffee.

Thanks for reading,

Pete.