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Meet Liam – our latest Winning Mind

Having joined us a little over a month ago, Liam has only gone and scooped Nelson Bostock’s Winning Mind award for October. What an impressive start? Liam tells us how he swapped journalism for Comms and how Flaming Hot Monster Munch are life 😋.

Why did you pick a career in PR and Communications?

Writing and storytelling is something I’ve always enjoyed as you can be involved with every touchpoint of the creative process. As for PR & comms, coming from a journalism background and after my time at a start-up that worked closely with their PR team, I wanted to understand the other side of the coin!

Why did you pick a career in PR and Communications?

Consistency beats everything. Turning up every day with the right mindset of doing the best that you can – nothing can beat it.

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

My ideal Saturday afternoon would probably consist of exploring different areas (and pubs) around London but right now it’s all about watching the World Cup!

And what are your hobbies? 

My main interests are around music. Whether that’s attending live events or trawling through playlists and discovering new artists to share with whoever’s interested.

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

Big fan of Flaming Hot Monster Munch.

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

I once wanted to go into acting, the highlight being part of Derby Theatre’s production of Kes.

What makes you a Winning Mind?

It was a surprise to win if I’m honest! But having the willingness to get stuck into tasks and help wherever possible is important.

Any advice for future Winning Minds contenders?

Everyone does an incredible job to go above and beyond for both clients and teammates. Always keep an eye out on where you can contribute ideas as the company will always support creativity.

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D&I Book Club

It was great to meet with the D&I Book Club and discuss ‘The Vanishing Half’ by Brit Bennet.

With Black History Month being a big focus for D&I Group in October, the NBU and Fever D&I Book Club 📚 got together last week to have some big brain chats about our recent read. 

This book is incredibly thought-provoking, and we shared our thoughts over themes of race, heritage, privilege and identity raised in the book over some snacks and a bit of vino 🍷

Book Club has rated this 4 out of 5 ⭐– definitely would recommend! 

As part of our Ways of Working, everyone in NBU has the opportunity to join working groups aligned with their values and interests!

Stay tuned for more from D&I Book Club ⭐

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Meet Georgia – our latest Winning Mind

Georgia is our latest winner of the Winning Mind Award! Our monthly award of who goes above and beyond.

Newly promoted, dramatic, non- coffee drinking, Georgia has some wise words for us all…

Why did you pick a career in PR and Communications?

Having spent four years studying English at university I always knew I wanted to go into something communications based. Following a short stint in journalism, I was itching to spend less time opposite a word document! PR gives me the freedom to write content, work on events and go out and meet people, all of which I love to do.

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

It’s PR, not ER.

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

I’ve just moved to London, so I’m currently spending a lot of Saturday afternoon’s exploring my borough… Constantly on the hunt for new lunch spots and cosy pubs.

And what are your hobbies?

Beyond socialising (if that counts as a hobby), I absolutely love to read. I’m that person on the tube getting in everyone’s way with my head in a book. I’m a keen member of our NB book club which is organised by the D&I committee and have discovered loads of great reads through it!

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

I used to be intensely involved in amateur dramatics from around the ages of 8 to 18. Possibly explains some things about my personality…

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

I’ve managed to reach the age of 25 without ever trying coffee. Proud of it.

What makes you a Winning Mind?

You’d have to ask my nominator, but apparently my content drafting! I love getting my teeth into a new piece of writing, and am really lucky to get to learn about all kinds of new tech in the process.

Any advice for future Winning Minds contenders?

Keep on keeping on. There are always new opportunities to shine at NB, and our diverse skill set is what makes us such a dynamic agency. Whatever your strengths, if you don’t like to shout about your great work someone else will always do it for you.

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NB x Groundwork Volunteering

This October, NB took a break from driving PR and social for the hottest tech brands to step outside and give back to the local community. 

The team travelled to Wormwood Scrubs to support the charity organisation Groundworks and improve the habitats of the many animals living in the open space while being able to reconnect with colleagues and boost our mental well-being in the open air. This day out was part of NB’s wider ‘Lifetime Programme’, focusing on improving physical and mental well-being for all our staff as a priority through a range of benefits and activities across the year. 

Wormwood Scrubs is home to birds, squirrels and our newly beloved choice of animal (which we’ve learned a lot about recently) – the common lizard. 

Sadly, the lizards were in hiding for both days as we scythed, chopped and raked a significant amount of scrub from the grassy area – enabling the meadow to thrive! 

In one day alone NB’s first team cut and collected around 3500 sq metres! Both teams smashed the day, but we heard group two led the way – not that we’re competitive or anything!

Senior Content Manager Katy Ryder said: “It was great to spend the day volunteering in west London’s Wormwood Scrubs with Groundwork and an expert ecologist. Wormwood Scrubs’ tagline is ‘more wild than tame’ and I feel fortunate to have played a tiny part in protecting London’s wild side with this brilliant bunch!”

All our work was done to encourage more wildflower cover that provides food and habitat for pollinators including butterflies and safeguard the habitats of smaller animals. Wormwood Scrubs is one of the few lizard breeding populations this close to central London!

Beth Anderson, Account Manager at Nelson Bostock, added: ”I have found that Nelson Bostock understands the importance of looking at different ways to boost team togetherness and mental health within the workplace, and volunteering with Groundworks was a perfect example of this. Being put into a completely different environment in the outdoors, with all your teammates and working together to contribute towards a positive impact on a local community was an amazingly rewarding feeling and really helped to boost my mental wellbeing!”

Massive thanks and kudos to the team at Groundwork for arranging such a rewarding experience, we’ll be back soon. 

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Meet the Bostockers: Lorraine

In recognition of this year’s Black History Month, we wanted to highlight The 10,000 Black Interns Foundation and how they have helped NBU connect with talent. Since 2022, 10,000 Black Intern’s purpose is to transform prospects for young Black people in the UK by securing students and graduates with paid internships across an array of sectors.

NBU’s Lorraine Fordjour accepted an internship with us via the programme this summer and we’re excited that she has since joined us permanently as an Account Assistant to continue her career in PR with us ✨

Read what she has to say about the experience:

What advice would you give to a young person/woman of colour early in their career?

Go for it even if you don’t feel qualified. Despite what society might lead you to believe, do not let your skin colour be a barrier. Believe in your power, strength, and ability to accomplish anything you set your mind to.

What have you done to celebrate Black History Month?

Hmm I can’t say that I’ve done anything specific this month as I celebrate blackness every day haha. But I did watch The Woman King twice this month, I’m even planning to watch it again this week. 10/10, everyone should watch it!!

How do you think the 10,000 Black Interns Programme and Nelson Bostock have helped with developing your professional career?

The programme undoubtedly put me in a position that I didn’t think I could be in. I found it challenging to get a job in the media after graduation since I lacked the essential experience. Additionally, the fact that I had never done an internship and had not participated in a placement year did not help. My future seemed brighter after getting this internship and being hired as an account assistant shortly after the programme has made it possible for me to establish my professional career. Although the journey has not been an easy one, I am thankful and hopeful. I’m really excited to learn and ready to grow at Nelson Bostock!

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Understanding the Nation: What does the cost of living crisis mean for tech brands?

As nearly every household in the UK scrutinises spending in the face of rising inflation and increasing cost of borrowing, within recent history there has never been a greater need for support, advice and tools to see us through – what will be – a prolonged reality. 

Overall, the cost of living is growing at its fastest rate in almost 40 years. According to the Office for National Statistics, UK inflation stood at 9.9% in August and the Bank of England expects ‘inflation to stay at or a little above 10% for a few months.’

Walnut Unlimited’s Understanding the Nation, survey of 2000+ UK adults explored the relationship between new technologies and personal finances (carried out between 30th June – 11th July 2022.)

Interestingly, the research found that 30% of UK households use technology more due to their household’s financial situation. 

However, before brands consider capitalising on this, it’s essential that they stop to consider whether their actions are delivering genuine value. Because if the veneer is paper thin, people will see straight through it.

A Reach survey found that 60% of consumers are expecting brands to help them through the cost of living crisis with spending habits changing across the country in order to save money. 

Some brands are, brilliantly, getting it right; driving true value for customers through their communications. So who are they?

Which brands are doing their part in the cost of living crisis? 

Channel 4

Perhaps the most innovative campaign to help support the general public with the cost of living crisis comes from Channel 4. 

In a unique collaboration, the free-to-air broadcaster placed a bespoke ad break featuring seven UK brands, all of which provide offers or services to help viewers save money. The ad break ran during Steph’s Packed Lunch and Gogglebox on Friday 7th October.

Those brands that supported Channel 4’s campaign include:

  • Boots
  • Co-Op
  • Giffgaff
  • GoCompare
  • Lidl
  • Nationwide Building Society 
  • Vodafone

After a brief introduction from the broadcaster explaining the special ad break, each brand listed above aired its own advertisement aiming to help people and families during the current climate. 

The timing of the ads is worth highlighting; designed to maximize reach among families with young children, who might be feeling the pinch more than others. 

Virgin Media

Telecommunications giant Virgin Media announced it is cutting the price of its essential broadband package in response to the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

The plan is priced at £12.50 pm for 15Mbps speed and is aimed at supporting those on Universal Credit. The firm also introduced a plus plan, priced at £20 pm for 50Mbps fibre broadband. Both plans have no fixed-term contracts or activation fees. 

Chief operating officer Jeff Dodds confirmed recently that Virgin Media has called upon the government to cut VAT on social tariffs, which would reduce the price to £10.93 for 15 Mbps and £17.50 for 50 Mbps respectively.

In addition to the above, the broadband provider is actively working to implement automated checks for customers to help confirm their eligibility for social tariffs with the firm to minimise time spent when reviewing applications with the view of expanding its social tariff schemes to people receiving pension credit and other benefits. 

Where Virgin Media is leading, other telcos are following, with Vodafone announcing just this week that its Essentials Broadband will be reduced by 20%, to just £12 per month. 

Iceland Food Club

Ok, so this isn’t a tech brand but it is a sublime example of a communications campaign that is truly helping people. 

Supermarket chain Iceland launched a ‘shop now pay later’ initiative to support customers struggling with food shops, in partnership with non-profit lender Fair for You. 

The Iceland Food Club provides short-term microloans between £25 to £75, acting as an interest-free loan and a safer alternative to mainstream lenders. The scheme is repaid at a rate of £10 per week.

Following an initial trial in Yorkshire and North Wales, the supermarket reported that 92% of members reduced or stopped their reliance on food banks. This acts as just one part of their ‘Doing it Right, Right Now’ campaign. 

The scheme is now available nationally and anyone can apply, with a preloaded card given to those who are successful, that can be used both in-store and online. 

What can we learn from this about how brands can better position themselves as a company that truly cares?

It’s easy for any brand to push out a press release or publish an advertisement acknowledging the current environment but brands must convince consumers with clear actions of goodwill. It’s so easy to be another drop in the sea of blue.

As we move further into the unknown, many people will no longer be on the lookout simply for good value or bargains, they will be seeking genuine help. 

Truly understanding the need, tailoring your messaging and reshaping your strategies to give consistent support will be vital in achieving brand goodwill. 

As Faric Yakob summarised succinctly for WARC: “Corporate actions speak louder than advertising when so many will be forced to choose between heat and food this winter.”

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How to ‘sell’ on LinkedIn

Whether you love or loathe the platform, there’s no denying that LinkedIn has clout. Outside of TikTok, LinkedIn has the highest organic engagement of all platforms, averaging 3.1%. By comparison, Hootsuite says that Facebook’s average organic engagement rate is just 0.07%. (The average organic TikTok engagement rate averages at 18%)

Furthermore, 70% of users say LinkedIn is the most trusted social media platform. Research shows that investors look to LinkedIn as a trusted information source about companies and c-suite executive profiles to hear their opinions directly from the horse’s mouth.

In real terms

What’s unique about the LinkedIn algorithm, and where the secret to success lies, is that it values people. Everyone knows the phrase “people buy from people” and not brands. The LinkedIn algorithm directly promotes this idea by promoting three things:

  • Relationships – is this person a 1st, 2nd or 3rd-degree connection with me?
  • Relevance – have I previously engaged with content like this?
  • Engagement – is this getting lots of likes and comments? This is a spam prevention tool. If something is popular, it thinks other people are going to like it as well.

Worth knowing: Likes are ‘soft’ engagement, seen as passive use, whereas comments are ‘hard’ engagement, a mark that something is genuinely resonating with people.

The average B2B company on LinkedIn has around 100,000 followers. However, when you look at the actual personal profiles of its c-suite executives, the follower figure triples or quadruples. The same goes for sales teams, product teams, and dev teams.

If you combine these accrued follower counts with strong organic engagement rates and the power of existing relationships and network building, you’re opening yourself up to valuable business opportunities.

84% of c-suite executives use social media to support a purchasing decision. If they see your teams talking about something relevant to them, they’re far more likely to convert from prospect to client.

Likewise, 51% of sales professionals who use LinkedIn for social selling are 51% more likely to exceed their sales quota than those who don’t.

So you want to be a LinkedIn influencer?

It’s best to start with a strategy. Pick three objectives that align with your comms strategy, and then consider how they ladder back to and support your business objectives. Some examples:

  • I want to grow my audience in X sector
  • I want to amplify our work in X
  • I’d like to increase engagement on X content

Think about your content pillars:

  • Human interactions: remember, people want to hear your genuine opinion about something. A great example is the CEO of energy company Greg Jackson, whose Twitter channel is a masterclass in actual human-to-human interactions on social media.
  • Thought Leadership: this isn’t something you can buy, it’s something you work towards. Thought Leadership means you’re comfortable in supplying the most valuable insights to your customer’s biggest challenges, in the formats your audience consumes, consistently. Microsoft EVP Jean-Phillipe Courtois’s work to promote “Positive Leadership” is a great example of this.
  • And finally, sharing: if you want to amplify something by sharing it, try to avoid being a “great to see” person. You need to express real opinions and add value. People who follow you want to hear from the real you, so be surprising, be bold, have broad appeal and personalise i.e. make it about the audience, not your product or company.

And finally, consider investing in better content.

  • Videos are great and don’t have immense production value to impact. It can be a simple vlog taken on an iPhone. Keep it short and snappy.
  • Live streaming is great, but make sure you keep it consistent. Don’t broadcast one day and go quiet for six months.
  • Still images and photographs should be branded to ensure brand recognition that transfers into other channels.

Start today

Spruce up your profile and consider how you can get into the habit of sharing content. Start with sharing once a month and then build it up from there.

Spend 5 minutes daily looking at your feed and industry groups to see if there are any posts you can engage with – comment/like/share with your thoughts.

Monthly think about new people you’ve met/worked with and add them as connections with a personal message. Post a longer-form article every other month.

And finally, bi-annually, review your profile, and add any new key skills you have gained and new work or content you have created.

Give it a go. We’re people who buy from people – whatever industry you’re in. LinkedIn might just be the platform to help you foster those connections.

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Meet the Bostockers: Linn

Meet Linn Nyrvik who joined last month. Linn joins the Social Media team and loves nothing more than technology (which is handy), London town and strong coffee. She’s going to fit in really well.

Tell us about yourself.

I’m a small-town girl from Sweden who moved to the city of my dreams 3 years ago (Though, I’ve lived abroad for a decade, but that’s for another time). Safe to say that London has been nothing short of amazing experiences. Professionally, I have a background in journalism and social media from the Nordics, the UK and China. Most recent, I worked with in-house social media in a small management consulting firm. I’m now taking my first step into the agency world, which is super exciting!

I’m joining the social media-team in NBU as a senior social account manager and work with clients Canon UK and EMEA, WWT, Dynabook, MSI, Vestel and Toshiba. It’s going very well so far and the clients are a pleasure to work with.

Which aspect of your job are you most passionate about?

I’m passionate about b2b and tech social media marketing, because it’s a very fast phased and fast changing market which I appreciate, and it allows for new ways of being creative and innovative. Additionally, I’m very much a people person, and passionate about developing strong relationships with peers and clients.

Any rituals that spark your best work?

During the lockdown, I developed a quite long and energy inducing morning routine to start my day off in the right way. This includes dancing to old tunes, cold showers, quick runs in a park, strong coffees, and visualisation/manifestation meditations. The days where my mornings start off the right way are most often the days I deliver my best work.

What is it about tech that you love?

As a millennial, I have really seen how tech has fundamentally changed the world – how we interact with each other, the global economics, almost every industry etc. Tech is fascinating as it’s forever evolving into something more complex and better. It keeps you on your toes 😊. Working with tech is a no brainer for me – who doesn’t want to be part of forming the future world we live in?!

How to spend the 25th hour of your day?

Outdoors (no matter the weather) and socialising with friends. Staying up a bit too late and have an hour extra sleep in the morning.

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Meet Esther – our latest Winning Mind

Esther scooped this month’s Winning Mind Award. We find out how her career could have been so different 🕵️‍♀️ but now she works at Nelson Bostock and carries tote bags 🤣.

Why did you pick a career in PR and Communications?

I fell into PR by chance, but it’s turned out to be a great match for me! I love being creative, writing, and meeting new people, and it’s a career which requires an interest in all of those things – so I’m really glad I said ‘why not?’ and decided to apply for Nelson Bostock nearly three years ago.

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

Always carry a tote bag with you in case you need to do an emergency shop. (From me to me – and now you!)

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

It’s cheesy, but my ideal Saturday would simply be making memories with my loved ones. Catching up with friends, exploring new places, eating good food… it’s not hard to see why London appeals to me.

And what are your hobbies?

I love all things arts, culture and entertainment – particularly theatre and music, whether it’s taking part when I can or being in the audience. I actually performed at the Edinburgh Fringe for the second year running this year!

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

Don’t try to talk to me while I’m cooking for a group or I’ll cry.

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

I once applied for a job at MI5 (and got to the third stage!). Can’t believe they didn’t want me in the end really.

What makes you a Winning Mind?

Perseverance in this case! It can be a skill to know not to give up on a good idea first time round and to find ways to breathe new life into something.

Any advice for future Winning Minds contenders?

Great ideas can come from anywhere and a fresh point of view can do a world of good. Also, set aside time to really think about the work you’re doing rather than robotically ticking things off your list – our unique perspectives and ideas are our most valuable tool.

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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