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Sector: PR and Media Relations

What makes great thought leadership?

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Everyone wants to be a thought leader. Yet today, the term is too often used by people or companies who are sharing middle-of-the-road corporate perspectives. Thought leadership has been devalued.

This a business risk for companies in the attention economy. In a world of high-quality content, audiences can and will ignore those who fail to captivate them. Put simply, that leads to missed opportunities and will, over the long-term, hit the bottom line.

There are significant competitive advantages for companies that can produce great thought leadership – more engaged customers, better informed stakeholders and greater sense of purpose among employees to name just three.

It is rare to find a good business that doesn’t have a mission. This means great thought leadership should be achievable for every company – something they strive for, seeking and defining the big concepts that set them apart.

So, what does great thought leadership look like? It is more art than science, but there are some golden rules that hold true.

Unique perspectives

The clue is in the name – – this is about leading the way, not following others. The viewpoint or argument you are conveying must be different to those being articulated by others.

Finding a unique perspective is not easy. There are very few people in the world who can sit down to a blank page and create a new idea in an hour. Great thought leadership involves making a time commitment to think and hone original points of view.

Sustainable authenticity

Great thought leadership needs to be true to author – whether that be a brand or a person. As Simon Sinek argued in his 2011 bestselling book, leaders must start with why.

Why have you chosen this topic? Why are you the right person or organisation to make this argument? Why does the idea matter? These are the questions great thought leaders ask themselves.

Compelling insights

Everyone has an opinion. But why should your audience believe you? With great thought leadership, you need to show your audience why your perspective is undeniably true.

This means having proof points that add weight to your argument. As with developing a unique perspective, this often takes time – delving deep into your organisation to find key data points and examples, or by commissioning credible research that shines new light on an issue.

Laser focus

Thought leadership rarely involves a single article or piece of content. When that’s the case, for example when running a multi-channel long-term campaign, it can be easy to lose focus and see your unique perspective snowball into a multitude of unoriginal ones.

You must have clarity in your guiding thought – know what that is and don’t stray from it.

Real solutions

Thought leadership must be purposeful. The goal should never be to simply publish an article, a video or social media post – it’s about leading change. Once your audience has given you their time by engaging with your ideas, you must provide them with a solution or next step.

Great thought leadership starts at the beginning by knowing what you want to achieve. The solutions you are offering to your audience should be at the heart of your thought leadership.

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As the world recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic there is an opportunity for businesses to act as a force for good and be part of building a society that is more prosperous and inclusive.

Now is the moment for business to be communicating their big ideas and demonstrating they are leaders, not followers. That their mission matters and will shape the world for the better.

Great thought leadership is about creating advantage. Creating advantage for society, for your audience and for your business all at the same time. Seize that opportunity.

 

By Jack Storry, Associate Director Grayling London.

 

Grayling launches FIVE GUYS in Austria

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Slightly delayed by lockdown restrictions, Austria’s first FIVE GUYS restaurant finally opened its doors in Vienna on 25 January 2021. In addition to the set-up and management of FIVE GUYS’ local Instagram channel, Grayling Austria accompanied the launch with creative media relations work, including a Covid-proof event for selected media representatives and influencers. Furthermore, the full-service agency will continue to provide strategic communications support for the Austrian branch of the world-famous restaurant chain.

FIVE GUYS’ legendary burgers, hot dogs, fries and milkshakes were eagerly awaited in Austria. The restaurant that opened in the centre of Vienna on 25 January is the 20th FIVE GUYS restaurant in Europe. Founded in 1986 in Arlington, Virginia, the restaurant chain brings handmade food prepared with fresh ingredients and American flair to Austria. And while only available for takeaway and delivery for the time being, FIVE GUYS provides a welcome change to the home menu in times of lockdown.

For the market launch, FIVE GUYS relied on the expertise of Grayling Austria, and it will continue to do so for ongoing awareness building. The Vienna-based communications agency developed a customised communications and social media marketing programme. The Grayling client team around Managing Director Nicole Hall and Associate Director Julia Sommer is responsible for the overall communication concept and implementation.

“As an international communications agency with a compatible mindset and top English skills, our choice fell on Grayling. The team convinced us with its local expertise, strong network in Austria as well as deep know-how in social media marketing and media relations. Our market entry in Austria was a great success and we are looking forward to sitting down with the Grayling team to share a burger as soon as the pandemic allows it”, said Joel Bearden, Senior Director, International & Marketing at FIVE GUYS.

“We know the legendary FIVE GUYS burgers from the time when we could all still travel the world carefree. All the more reason for us to be excited about the opportunity to present this ‘love brand’ in Austria and to accompany it on its expansion journey. The account does not only let us reminisce, it is further confirmation of our expertise in launching international brands on the local market”, said Grayling CEO Sigrid Krupica.

Grayling nets full service European brief for plant-based seafood brand Good Catch®

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Grayling has been appointed to work with American plant-based seafood brand Good Catch as its first European-wide agency partner, following a competitive pitch. With a remit spanning emerging markets across Europe, including the UK, Netherlands, Germany, France and Spain, Grayling will deliver consumer and trade campaigns to increase brand awareness and advocacy across the region.

Ahead of what is set to be a defining year for sustainability and climate action, Grayling will be working with the Good Catch team on a strategy to win the approval of flexitarian consumers in Europe, where nearly a quarter of the population are already actively reducing their meat intake. Its European network, coordinated by Grayling’s London consumer team, will also support the brand’s distribution expansion in both retail and food service.

Already an award-winning favourite in the US and Canada, Good Catch has significant backing from celebrities and investors. Founded by plant-based chef brothers Chad and Derek Sarno, the brand has attracted celebrity investors including Paris Hilton, actor Woody Harrelson, and pop star Lance Bass. With experts predicting that the European plant-based market will be worth €7.5 billion by 2025, the expansion is perfectly timed to meet the needs of over 2.6 million plant-based eaters in the region – a figure which has doubled in just four years.

Grayling UK’s consumer practice has extensive retail, food and foodservice experience. Recent wins include Cathedral City cheese and Country Life butter, as well as delivering campaigns across Europe for household brands such as M&S, Red Bull, Open Table, Nestlé and Oppo ice cream. The account will also benefit from Grayling’s heritage in deploying global hub models to allow for multi-market execution at scale for clients such as dating app Badoo, Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Amadeus.

Sarah Scholefield, Global CEO, Grayling said:
“We are thrilled to be working with Good Catch as its first European-wide agency partner. Our extensive European network and experience in the food sector means we are well placed to support Good Catch at this exciting time, as it extends its footprint internationally. Prioritising health, wellness and the world around us has never been as critical as it is today, so we are delighted to be part of the Good Catch journey.”

Scott Simons, Snr. Vice President Marketing & Communications at Good Catch Foods said:
“The Grayling team offer what we needed; a strong focus and expertise on the European market specifically and a demonstrated desire to deeply understand our category. We’re enthusiastic about our European expansion and very happy to be partnering with Grayling.”

Joey Jones joins Grayling as Senior Counsel, Corporate Affairs

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We are delighted to announce that Grayling have strengthened our corporate offer with the appointment of Joey Jones to the position of Senior Counsel.

Joey served as Deputy Political Editor at Sky News throughout the period of the coalition government before joining the then Home Secretary Theresa May as her spokesman through the EU referendum and the subsequent Conservative leadership campaign. He is a sought-after commentator on politics and media issues.

Joey joins a growing bench of corporate affairs practitioners at Grayling and he will span across corporate communications and public affairs, devising and executing fully integrated and multi-channel communications campaigns for Grayling’s expanding roster of marquee clients across the UK and Europe.

“We are delighted to welcome Joey Jones to Grayling. It has never been more important for clients to be able to turn to expert, authoritative communications advisors, and Joey Jones’ appointment underlines our commitment to delivering at the most senior level. His career has taken him to the highest level of communications, journalism and politics and he is another heavyweight appointment to a fantastic team of consultants.” Says Richard Jukes, Global Chairman of Grayling.

Joey Jones says “Grayling is evolving at pace. I am excited to be joining a team that demonstrates vision and ambition, delivering at every level for its clients. The client roster is first class and growing fast, while Grayling’s UK and European network is unrivalled. I look forward to playing my part in helping to build its Corporate Affairs offer further and to steer the agency to new heights ”.

Virtual Media: 5 tips for organising an online press conference

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In many countries, press conferences remain a very effective tool for sharing particularly important company news with media and the public. But during a global pandemic, when physical meet-ups are not possible, how can we best deliver a virtual press conference?

Grayling in Slovakia recently organised a virtual press conference for a client within the financial sector, to announce the launch of a new cashless payment programme for the self-employed and SMBs (small and mid-sized businesses). The press conference was a great success. Besides local client representatives and programme partners, it was also attended by representatives from the government and from across the banking sector. It was also very well received by the invited journalists.

How did we do it? Here are our 5 tips for organising a virtual press conference:

1. Are you ready?

Detailed planning is, of course, extremely important when organising any event, especially when the format is new. Not only is it essential to have a clear idea of the goals of the press conference, you will also need a detailed timetable for preparations, a clear division of responsibilities, a detailed scenario for the press conference and to understand all of the procedures before and after the event.

To get started, it is helpful to answer a few questions that apply to any press conference:

Which media do you want to invite to the press conference; when do you need to send out the invitations; who will be sending them and what format will you use?

  • When will the press conference take place?
  • How many speakers will attend the press conference?
  • What will be the flow of the press conference?
  • What is your back-up plan in case of technical difficulties?

2. Online platform

When deciding to organise a virtual press conference, you need to choose a suitable online platform. Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Skype are just some of the many options available. The most suitable platform for you can be selected based on several criteria:

Which platform is most in line with the company’s image and which best suits the type of press conference you are organising? And does the platform run seamlessly on every common operating system?

  • How many participants do you expect at the press conference?
  • Will the speaker(s) need to share a (PowerPoint) presentation or video?
  • Will participants be able to actively engage and ask questions during the event?
  • Will there be any international participants?

Prior to attending a virtual event, the participants need to receive a link and instructions on how to connect to the press conference. You can either send it together with the invitation or after they confirm their attendance. You should provide participants with several connection options, which usually include a direct link via the streaming portal or over the phone. It is also a good idea to provide details for a contact person who the participants can contact in case of technical problems or further questions.

3. Fail to prepare; prepare to fail

A day or two prior to the press conference, test the connection to the event, the channels of admission for participants, audio and video quality and the technical capabilities of the given streaming platform. Making time to run a rehearsal with the organisers and speakers is strongly recommended. It can help you spot any errors which you can solve prior to the live event itself.

4. Organisers in the shadows

Just because a press conference takes place online doesn’t mean that you need less manpower to ensure a successful event. Although the size of the organising team will depend to some extent on the number of participants, you are likely to need someone to be responsible for technical support, you might need a presenter, you will need a person managing the virtual room in which the conference takes place, etc.

5. “Could you repeat that, please?” The press materials you provide after the conference matter

During the conference, the Internet connection may be weak, can be interrupted for some participants, or they may be distracted by a ringing telephone, pet or child. Afterwards, you should therefore send a press release to the participants in the usual way. If possible, you should consider providing participants with a video or audio recording of the press conference as well. Journalists or other participants really appreciate that.

Also, as always, you need to make clear after a virtual press event who the journalists can contact in case of further questions or if they want to stay in touch with any of the participants. This is an important factor which influences the quality of media outputs after the press conference. Remember to allocate time for this as well.

“Preparing a virtual press conference was a great experience and we gained yet another skill in our team,” says Martina Kolláriková, Senior PR Consultant at Grayling Slovakia. “When organising such an event, you have to think about several things at once and, at the same time, you have to think very differently compared to the traditional form. No matter how great your client is and how strong your relationship is with them, the human factor will always cause delays and unexpected twists. Keep that in mind.”

What is easier in the virtual format?

  • You do not have to think about securing a venue in advance which has to fulfil specific parameters and you don’t need to worry about drinks and snacks. There is no need to start planning the press conference as far in advance and you can be more flexible when setting the date for the event.
  • Venue costs do not consume your budget.
  • You save your time, as well as the time of speakers and journalists, because they do not need to travel anywhere. If they want to, they can attend the conference from their own bed.
  • And of course, you do not need to worry about COVID-19 safety restrictions.

What are the challenges?

  • You are constantly worrying whether everything will work – will the Internet connection crash at the most inconvenient time? Hopefully the press conference won’t be full of phrases like “Hello!”, “Can you hear me?”, “Are you there?”, “I can’t hear you!” etc.
  • You worry that journalists will quietly leave in the middle of the press conference.
  • Rehearsal is absolutely essential. For technical reasons, for organisational reasons and due to the absence of body language. So rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!
  • After the formal presentation, there are no informal discussions in smaller groups or 1-on-1 meetings. The lack of this is palpable.
  • The small details really matter. It is necessary to ensure that all speakers are connected at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the event. Journalists will join gradually, and in order for them not to “enter” any sooner than planned, you need to have their admission to the virtual press conference under control. When they are admitted, you should at least confirm that they are in the right place, so they are not “sitting” there in silence. These little things are even more important for virtual press events than the traditional format.

If you would like to know more about hosting a virtual press conference or are interested in what our Bratislava office can offer in terms of communications support, please contact Martina Kollarikova at martina.kollarikova@grayling.com.

COVID-19: Is misinformation the more deadly virus?

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This year started off as a tale of two halves; while England continues to be firmly in the grip of Lockdown 3.0, positive updates about the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out have helped boost spirits across the nation.

We now know the UK government plans to offer a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to every adult by September, at a rate of 140 jabs per minute. But while we have among the highest vaccination rates per head of population in the world – and 80 per cent of Brits willing to take the vaccine, the second highest country behind Thailand – there are other important factors that could impact the success or otherwise of our COVID-19 recovery.

Misinformation among some communities around the safety and efficacy of vaccines – often a result of historical unethical practices and wider discrimination – puts vaccine take-up at risk. Recent research among Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) suggests that almost three quarters (72%) of black people are unlikely to have the vaccine. Whether it’s believing that the vaccine contains pork or is non-halal, or that it causes infertility, there are many myths that will need to be debunked to reassure these communities and encourage greater take-up.

This isn’t just a COVID-19 issue – blood donation schemes have consistently faced shortages from BAME and mixed heritage communities, leading to an injection of Government funding to enable grassroots community engagement to encourage donations.

This hesitancy towards vaccines could have dire consequences for those communities already hit hard by the pandemic. With black people almost twice at risk of death from COVID-19 than white people, more must be done to protect all groups at risk.

Communications undoubtedly has an essential role to play in addressing these challenges. Working with influential voices or community or religious leaders who already have the ear of their communities is recognised as an effective way to build trust. This is especially important when ensuring strong take-up from frontline workers from BAME communities. Just as PPE was and remains vital to protect our healthcare workforce from contracting the virus, the vaccine provides a similarly vital tool in our armoury.

Translating public health materials into different languages is not enough on its own. Messaging needs to take into account cultural nuances, and communities need to be able to find it and have trust in it; whether that’s in their local newspaper, on the radio, through digital channels or at their local community or religious centre. BBC Asian Network has done this particularly well, with their COVID-19 advice videos presented by South Asian journalists and health professionals to help disseminate information achieving millions of views.

While the UK faces its own challenges, tackling misinformation and vaccine scepticism is a global responsibility in the fight against COVID-19. As an example, our client Speak Up Africa, a Senegal-based advocacy tank, is paving the way on the continent with their new initiative that aims to amplify credible African scientist voices in the media, provide factual commentary on public health issues, and champion African-led research and development.

As we look to the coming months, we must learn the lessons from the pandemic and use smart communications and engagement techniques to help tackle these inequalities. It’s a matter of life and death.

By Lauren Garnet, Account Director in Grayling’s UK Healthcare team

TikTok among Grayling’s clients

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TikTok, a leading destination for short-form mobile video, has chosen Grayling Poland as the company’s PR agency. Grayling will be responsible for the platform’s entry and ongoing communication on the Polish market.

Grayling will coordinate TikTok communication activities in Poland, including media relations, B2B communication, building TikTok’s brand awareness and profile among key stakeholders and supporting marketing campaigns. Cooperation between TikTok and Grayling started in December. The account is managed by Anna Popłonkowska, Director, Corporate PR Practice.

“We are happy that TikTok has chosen us to be its partner on the Polish market and have a chance to work along with the TikTok international team on building the brand. It’s exciting to support such a young, fresh and ambitious brand” – says Klara Banaszewska, General Manager at Grayling Poland.

 

About TikTok
TikTok is the leading destination for short-form mobile video. The company has global offices including Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Dubai, Singapore, Jakarta, Seoul, and Tokyo. TikTok’s mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy.

Clouds gather for another year of growth in 2021: How can SaaS providers stand out?

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2020 demonstrated that business continuity relies heavily on cloud solutions. Many organisations had to pivot quickly to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions, such as Zoom, Slack or Microsoft Teams to continue to function, and analyst group Gartner predicts a big couple of years ahead for cloud application services growth. The challenge for SaaS providers now is how to stand out and be heard in a noisy marketplace. We’ve explored four critical factors to consider, below.

A typical challenge for every technology business is to prove to customers and investors that its products can deliver business value. After a year when many organisations have gone either fully or partially virtual, SaaS has come into its own. SaaS companies are not quite pushing at an open door, but they are finding a market that is far more receptive to new ways of working.

A solid communications strategy is therefore going to be critical to generating awareness, and informing and persuading audiences throughout what will be an entirely virtual sales and training process.

How can SaaS vendors stand out in 2021?

  • Get your messaging right

As I highlighted last year, brands need to ‘read the room’ during the pandemic and communicate with empathy, understanding the challenges that their target audiences are experiencing. Unlike much of last year, there is light at the end of the tunnel. This means that messaging may need to adapt for a world that will – at some point this year – emerge from a year of significant disruption. The key thing is to highlight how your product or service will not just enable businesses to operate more efficiently in a remote environment now but also into the medium and long-term too.

  • Get creative – and be authentic

Brands always need to be creative to stand out, but during the pandemic we have seen creativity take a different course – often homespun and within the context of the current situation. Your customers will want to see the real you and the faces behind the brand before they invest their time and money in your product or service. Are your brand heroes and experts front and centre of your campaigns? If not, can they be?

A great example of getting creative around a topic in the context of the pandemic was a campaign Grayling devised and ran for Lloyds Bank in 2020 to highlight the important subject of fraud. We looked at users’ social media profiles to see what potentially compromising information they had put out about themselves and got a barber to slip those personal details into casual conversation during a haircut. The responses from the unsuspecting customers who had just turned up for a haircut were priceless, but it did draw attention to a serious issue. SaaS PR teams should be adopting the same approach: find a critical topic that the company’s solution addresses, explore a human-interest angle to get people to take notice, and execute in a content-rich, newsworthy way.

  • Prioritise customer care

Many brands are still getting used to operating cloud-based tech. Not only will the sales process be virtual, but so will customer care. Chatbots can only get you so far and – with word-of-mouth marketing so important to winning new business – personal and attentive customer service is more important than ever and can help you stand out.

Interactive online conferences and webinars are plentiful, so it is key to innovate, stand out and add value with any webinar or online conference that you run.

  • Demonstrate a higher purpose

One of the big themes around communications even before the pandemic was around brand purpose and corporate social responsibility (CSR). How are you making a difference beyond your day-to-day and how can that be tied back to your product or service? A great example of this in action is Scottish brewer BrewDog, which has dedicated resource to creating hand sanitiser and offered its empty pubs for vaccination stations.

It is going to be very hard to predict how 2021 will pan out, especially the first half of the year. What is clear is that SaaS is going to continue to feature heavily in organisations’ day-to-day as they look at ways to operate more efficiently and productively.

If you need help with your messaging, positioning or with raising your organisation’s profile during 2021, do please get in touch: liz.alexander@grayling.com

 

 

Grayling creates a hair-raising social experiment to protect people against fraud

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It’s not every day that a trip to the barbers can help protect you against fraud; but that’s exactly what we did in a recent stunt and creative campaign for Lloyds Bank.

In the first half of 2020, there were over 1.4 million cases of fraud, totalling £582 million of financial losses. Despite this, more than eight out of 10 Brits (81%) say they could spot a scam, with men in particular being most confident.

This confidence however, is misplaced, with only 1 in 10 being aware of the most common scams or understanding how social media data is being increasingly used for financial fraud.

Lloyds Bank is committed to fighting fraud. Working with their experts, we designed a campaign to help people protect themselves, by making them think twice about what they share on social media.

Step inside Johnny’s Chop Shop – an iconic barbershop in central London and home to our fraud awareness stunt.

Our barbers scanned the public social media profiles of each unassuming customer, to find out as much as they could about them.

The last place they went on holiday? Check. Marital status? Check. Mum’s name? Check. Armed with this information, along with the scissors and shampoo, our barbers started to drop these anecdotes into conversation, while customers were in the chair. And we filmed the results.

A mix of surprise, shock, nervous laughter and suspicion, as our barbers revealed more and more personal details about their new customers. And if we could find all this out, so could a fraudster, couldn’t they?

This high-impact stunt got everyone talking about online fraud and social media – with 40+ pieces of media coverage, reaching a quarter of all Brits. We further amplified the campaign through a partnership with LadBible, with 300,000 followers taking an Instagram quiz about the latest techniques scammers are using.

And the result? 75% of people who saw the campaign said they will think twice about what they post on social media in future. This increased to 79% of men – a real result.

Want to find out more about this campaign or how we can help you? Contact sophie.young@grayling.com.