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NOTE TO SELF: BE MORE INTERESTING

It shouldn’t be news that it’s important to be interesting. Surely we all know that? But it’s something many brands are still struggling with. In the past, the big dogs held everyone’s attention – the big news outlets, the big brands, the big financial institutions, the big record labels. Whatever they produced, we consumed.

Then content production exploded. It’s not just that more brands started creating, but everybody did. YouTuber pedestrians launching music careers, NFT bros influencing the financial market from their bedrooms, TikTok creators impacting political tides.

It’s busy out there. Established brands know this, but a lot of them are slow to really do anything about it.

Before, brands often traded on legacy. “We’re XXX”, a company might say. “We’ve got clout. We’ve got a right to a voice in this market. We’re the big dogs.”  

But if there’s a theme of this decade, it’s a rejection of that idea. More than ever before, people pride themselves on being independent. With so many competing sources of information, people are going their own way, choosing who they subscribe to – metaphorically and literally.

Trust in brands is decreasing. According to Salesforce, even by 2020 only 50% of Millennials said they trust companies. That figure dropped to 42% for Gen Z. Just 61% of Millennials said that companies generally come off as authentic, dropping to 53% of Gen Z’ers. 

Be interesting

This brings me back to my first point. It’s not enough to just keep publishing. It’s not enough to keep stamping your feet and saying, “why doesn’t anyone want to read my whitepaper about how great all my products are?”

People don’t care. They’re watching videos of bulldogs skateboarding.

If you want people to care, if you want them to take time out of their busy day to engage with your content, you have to be more interesting. Catch my eye, tell me a story and don’t bang on about yourself in the first two seconds. And try to talk to me like a person, not like Alexa reading a spec sheet.

This isn’t exactly a new idea. A lot of marketers will have a shrine to Red Bull. What does Red Bull do? It’s an F1 team. It sponsors athletes to do mad stunts that millions of people watch on YouTube. Oh, and it does drinks. It’s often cited as the first brand to start putting engagement before product.

About 15 years on, it’s not the only one doing it. It’s everywhere in B2C and being interesting is even taking over the B2B space.

Historically people have often drawn lines between what will work for B2C and what will work for B2B, but we’re all people. And whether I’m scrolling through LinkedIn or Instagram, I’m still the same person.

Mailchimp recently partnered with VICE Video to make a documentary about small businesses coping with the global pandemic. SAP and Adobe made online hubs collating news, research and insights that might be useful to the people they sell to – no mention of their own products.  

The bottom line is that people don’t really want your advice. They want to make up their own mind. 87% of B2B buyers now want to self-serve part or all of their buying journey[1]. 57% make their purchasing decision without ever talking with a vendor representative.

What brands need to focus on is generating interest in the first place.  With any content you create, ask yourself – would I read this in my spare time?

From owned to earned

For a lot of marketing people out there, this is obvious. The issue is a wider culture internally. While marketers are at the forefront of industry change and can see what’s working, internal stakeholders and product people often can’t see the wood for the trees. As the sole purpose of their work is to champion the product they put their time into developing, it simply doesn’t make sense to stop putting it first.

So it’s tough to be a marketer. And it’s tough to be the person telling your colleagues that what they have to say isn’t interesting enough, or that they need to stop talking about the speeds and feeds they’ve been perfecting.

And here we start to see how PR and marketing have started to converge. For PR people, this conversation is as old as time.

“No, the journalist will not publish a 200-word description of your product’s features.”

“Why not?”

“Because people don’t find it interesting.”

So why is it in our marketing content? Sometimes marketers come under such pressure to sell that they’re forced to skip the wooing process at all. It’s the equivalent of coming up to a stranger at a party and monologuing your CV and interests, then repeatedly requesting their phone number. 

Yes, marketing typically still happens in owned channels, but there’s a lot to learn from PR in terms of what it takes to earn attention. In short: cut the hard sell and focus less on churning out content and more about whether anyone would want to read it.

[1] https://www.trustradius.com/vendor-blog/b2b-buying-disconnect-2021

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LIVE YOUR BEST PR LIFE

I was recently asked how people can get the most out of their PR career. It is such a personal question. For some, money is everything. For others, it’s about promotion, recognition and progression. And that’s before you even talk about the work itself. Whatever your motivations, satisfaction comes down to being happy. Find that thing – and do it on repeat. 

PR is a brilliant career. It offers a really special blend of challenge, reward and satisfaction. So much focus today is – and rightly so – given to breaking into the industry. About talent, diversity and opportunity. But it is also vital that people have the confidence to build and own their careers as they progress within PR. That is a vital principle of life at Nelson Bostock; and why we pride ourselves on our brilliant people and unique culture.

My advice is to be brave and curious. Never stand still. Try and learn something new every day. Work with new people. Get involved in projects that sound interesting and might stretch you in different ways.

That might lead you to find the one thing that makes you jump out of bed in the morning. It could be working with a global brand on global campaigns; working on bleeding-edge innovation; losing yourself in the crazy and dynamic start up world; or dedicating yourself to a vital challenge facing the world like sustainability.

The key to happiness is to know yourself. Then, find a company that helps you to explore your potential. Never underestimate the importance of your team and environment. If they value you, they will listen and support your ambitions. Only then will you live your best PR life!

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NB Poetry: Thoughts on loneliness

A collection of poems about loneliness, and resources to help, organised by the Winning Minds Matter team for Mental Health Awareness Week ’22.

For the past four years, the Mental Health Foundation has chosen a theme for Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) – past years’ have been body image, kindness and nature. The human experience is infinite and getting more complex by the day, so it’s nice to have something to focus on and connect with.

This year, the theme is loneliness. Whether in ourselves, our friends, our Princess Dianas or our pets – or even our encounters with strangers – we all know how it can be.

Enter our poetry collection: a series of words, thoughts and feelings from Nelson Bostockers, inspired by MHAW’s theme for 2022. Thank you to everyone who contributed, and to the Mental Health Foundation for orchestrating such an important national event. Not only did we raise awareness and spark much-needed conversations, but we also got to hear some beautiful poetry written by people we work with every day.

It was very hard to choose, but here’s a small selection that we think is lovely:

Loneliness can strike
When I’m all by myself or
In a busy place
Fiona Rush

Sometimes, it’s fine, sometimes you’ll shine
But we can’t be our best all of the time,
It’s OK to be mad, and sometimes sad,
Just remember it’s never that bad.
Little by little you learn to grow,
Like the spring after the snow,
As summer shines, most of the time,
Just remember you’ll be fine.
Stand up tall, even if you feel small,
And if you’re staring at your phone, give someone a call,
Time after time we forgive and forget,
Never believe your future is set.
You are only human it’s how we were made,
But time to time we head into the shade,
Your happiness is paramount,
So when you can make every moment count.
Ash Scott

Does it sound like a buzzing current, a loose cable
Harmonising with you every day?
Or a tube train, wailing along a route
You so often commute?
The daily score of bots, create storms of online chatter
Rumbles on like your mind doesn’t matter.
But if you’re feeling alone
Pick up the phone
Friends in green bubbles
They know what to do when you’re in trouble.
Blur the lines between lonely
And the loved ones you see
Because balance is necessary
It’s alright to be sad,
That’s how you’ll know when you’re happy.
Rowley Sadler

Thanks everyone. For the Mental Health Foundation’s recommended resources and helplines for dealing with loneliness, and anything else on your mind, please visit this page.

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Game-on for MSI!

Here’s some good news. Nelson Bostock has started to work with leading computer hardware manufacturer and gaming laptop specialist, MSI.

In recent years, MSI has established itself as one of the world’s top laptop brands. It is known for industry leading innovation and its bold ambition to create the perfect gaming laptop. The integrated brief will deliver a mix of media relations, content marketing, community management, influencer relations and events.

The goal is to continue to develop MSI’s reputation in the UK – strengthening its leadership in gaming, and broadening its reach into creative, business and performance segments.

Jeff Kuo, General Manager, MSI Notebook Division, says, “Nelson Bostock understands our products and our aspirations, and we’re excited to achieve some outstanding results together.”

The appointment will utilise 30+ years’ of consumer tech experience, and our use of human understanding to better connect with key audiences. Now let’s start playing er… I mean… get to work.

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Meet Elaura – our latest Winning Mind

Elaura Lacey scooped this month’s Winning Mind award. We find out what’s the best piece of advice she was given and how she can totally rock the dance floor.

Why did you pick a career in PR and Communications?

I love being creative and getting to use my writing skills, so a career in PR was the perfect fit for me! I really enjoy having the opportunity to work with exciting clients, meet journalists, and think of fun and interesting ways to land coverage or execute a campaign – there’s so much to learn and great people to learn it all from!

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?

Don’t bite off more than you can chew – as a junior, it’s easy to put your hand up for everything but it’s important to think about what’s realistic to achieve and not to overload yourself with work. This sentiment doesn’t work in the context of a client lunch though – in that case, tuck in!

Tell us a bit more about your interests – how would you spend an ideal Saturday afternoon? 

If the previous answer doesn’t make it clear, I’m a big foodie and love exploring so my ideal Saturday afternoon would be spent looking around different London markets and trying as many different dishes my tummy will allow.

And what are your hobbies?

I’ll say right now reading – I’ve got my book challenge set at one a month and it’s probably the first new year’s resolution that’s stuck past February. My theme so far is feminist literature, having read Little Women and Pride and Prejudice but there was an interval with James Acaster’s Classic Scrapes – not as high-brow but darn funny.

What’s one thing that people should know about you?

I have two little black cats at home named Winnie and Binx after the cinematic masterpiece that is Hocus Pocus.

What’s one thing that would surprise people about you?

For six years, I competed nationally and internationally as a ballroom and Latin dancer.   

What makes you a Winning Mind?

I’m very proactive on my accounts and think creatively about new ways to land announcements and look for new opportunities to further coverage. Back in November, I won Winning Minds for successfully hijacking a relevant news moment and landing additional coverage for Twilio in two tier 1* retail titles.

Any advice for future Winning Minds contenders?

Winning Minds is about going the extra mile and being a credit to your team, so giving your 100% and being there to support those around you will put you in a good chance to win!

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Meet Nicole – this month’s Winning Minds

This month’s Winning Minds Award went to Nicole Louis. Nicole tells us more about her passions (Tottenham) and how to talk to yourself as you’d talk to your best friend.

Why did you pick a career in PR and Communications?

I’d never considered a career in PR – or what it entailed – until I was 22. I knew I wanted to do something creative where I could write and a colleague at the time suggested PR. It was a perfect match.

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?

Talk to yourself as you’d talk to your best friend. It’s so easy to give yourself a hard time when you make a mistake or if something goes wrong. But if your friend made a mistake, you wouldn’t tell them that they’re stupid and it’s the end of the world. So why do we so often do that to ourselves?

Tell us a bit more about your interests – how would you spend an ideal Saturday afternoon? 

I love going to a new place and trying out all the good food and drink spots. That’s always the best part about visiting somewhere new.

And what are your hobbies?

Pretending to be Britney at karaoke, practicando mi español, watching Spurs.

What’s one thing that people should know about you?

I can’t keep a plant alive, but I can make your press office thrive.

What’s one thing that would surprise people about you?

I did a course with the Academy of Cheese in lockdown and it’s probably up there as one of the best things I’ve ever done.

What makes you a Winning Mind?

It’s a great feeling when you deliver an idea or piece of work that hits a client’s objective for a campaign. I want to be proud of the work that I do and to know that it made a difference.

Any advice for future Winning Minds contenders?

It’s easy to get sucked into your to do list. But sometimes carving out 30 mins to just think about your client, a problem they’re facing, or what’s coming up, can lead you to your next big idea.