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.
#TeamDTW is proud to welcome two new appointments this month as we get 2021 off to a flying start.
Lauren Old brings seven years’ experience in the communications and marketing sector and joins us as a public relations, engagement and public affairs strategist, while Tim Parker is bringing his artistic flair as an animation and illustration creative.
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 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.
This morning I joined the first in a series of new ‘Coming out of Covid webinars’, all focused on the impact of Covid-19 on the infrastructure and construction sector.
Today’s topic was a nice easy one to start with…..“With the easing of the lockdown, what is the new normal for construction?”
Hosted by Infrastructure Intelligence (it’s worth signing up to their twice weekly newsletter if you don’t already) it was a really thought-provoking and interesting session.
We heard from Georgia Hughes from Arcadis, Hannah Vickers, Chief Executive of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering, Matt Blackwell from Costain and Mark Coates from Bentley Systems. They each talked about how their organisations are changing for the future.
My key takeaways were:
- The new normal will be very different to the old normal. The changes made in the last ten weeks that will last for ten years and more. Look forwards, not backwards. Embrace digital technology, kids occasionally joining in on Teams calls and expect the unexpected.
- What we build for the future is going to change, as well as how we build it. As a result of Covid-19, local community business hubs, business tourism and bike lanes for rural communities are all going to be in demand moving forward. Processes and finances are being turned on their head as well.
- Take staff and clients with you on the journey – communication is critical. Keep it simple, keep it regular and listen to what people say. Adopting new technology is great, but it’s the people behind it that are going to make our future a success.
Oh, and the technology worked a treat. Well done to Andy Walker and the Infrastructure Intelligence team – looking forward to the next one.
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!
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we will pick up your message and come back to you right away.
Stay safe everyone. See you on the other side.
It’s time for a guest speaker! We were really pleased to welcome Emma Morton – joint winner of Teesside University’s Public Relations Student of the Year 2019 – to DTW for a week.
Emma was with us for a week’s work experience and became a real part of the team during her time at DTW. But don’t take it from us – you can watch and listen to Emma talking about her week with DTW in her own words.
We’re going to be sponsoring the Public Relations Student of the Year prize again in 2020. 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 businesses like us on our toes. In our experience, the ideas, creativity, and passion that work experience students and 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 with students and lecturers about various industry issues and opportunities.
As for Emma, we think she’s a star in the making – one we’ll be keeping an eye on.
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.
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 email@example.com.