Managing change in manufacturing

The Technical Marketing & PR team recently attended an expert panel discussion covering change management in manufacturing, hosted by Darwin Gray. Joined by an audience steeped in experience within the manufacturing sector, the panel evoked constructive discourse around how businesses can capitalise on new opportunities in a rapidly changing industry.

Change is inherent in manufacturing – whether it’s the effect of new legislation on supply chain management, or a generational shift in working patterns. It is, as the old saying goes, inevitable. As the discussion progressed, it became apparent that change is not something to be feared so much as seen as an opportunity to excel.

So, how can manufacturing businesses start managing change?

 

Plan for change

Too often, specialist consultants and industry experts are brought in to oversee change management projects during times of crisis. The first thing that the panel was keen to raise was that things don’t need to be heading south for change management to kick in – in fact, it’s much better to take a proactive approach.

There’s always a lot going on in manufacturing, and keeping your ear to the ground can go a long way to making sure you are ready for any changes that will affect your sector. Failing to plan is planning to fail – there’s a lot of clichés we could lean on here, but it’s safe to say that those who plan are most likely to prosper.

 

Encourage a ‘change mindset’

Change management does not have to mean an overhaul of business procedures. By creating a culture that supports growth and change, manufacturing businesses will be able to change gradually and ensure that they are working effectively and prepared for the future.

It’s important to be open to change. This might sound simple, but it’s crucial to recognise that change is happening every day – it’s normal, and we must accept it in order to make the most of new opportunities. By embracing a change mindset, manufacturing businesses can be flexible and take any developments in-stride.

 

Communicate and collaborate

One of the messages that the panel was keen to impress was that there is a wealth of support available to manufacturing businesses. By surrounding yourself with experts in your field, you can ensure that you have access to all the knowledge you might need to progress.

It’s worth being prudent with anyone who you introduce to your business, but the panel agreed that being trusting and finding the right partners can be invaluable. Whether it is involvement in government schemes or engaging more closely with local professionals, there is a huge ecosystem around the manufacturing industry which can be tapped into.

 

While there is a question around recognising the need for change, it seems more sensible that manufacturing businesses take a proactive approach to change management. With a strong team and a willing attitude to change, you can prepare your brand for the future and ensure that you’re evolving day by day.

For advice on how marketing and PR support can help you manage and effectively communicate changes in your business, contact the Technical Marketing & PR team.

Post GDPR: Marketing in a regulated world

Post-GDPR: Marketing in a regulated world

Just over a year ago, businesses all over the country were staring down the barrel of the incoming GDPR regulations, wondering how the marketing landscape would change. GDPR seemed set to shake the business world, and it was a clarion call for marketers to review their strategies.

Ultimately, whilst GDPR did change the way we look at data, it didn’t completely change the world. Keen-eyed marketing professionals have recognised opportunities in the post-GDPR landscape, so here are a few insights on how you can reap the rewards for your brand.

 

Consider changing your marketing focus

Email marketing had been growing in popularity in the years leading up to GDPR, and it certainly still has a place. Although contacts lists will be looking a little shorter in the wake of new legislation, email marketing has not been killed off completely.

That said, it may be worth integrating – or perhaps reintegrating – traditional direct marketing activities into your strategy. Direct marketing falls outside of GDPR regulations, meaning you can send marketing material to potential customers.

Direct marketing often requires a little more leg-work than email marketing, but it can pay dividends. To make the most of your efforts, put a framework in place for following up with those you reached out to. Telemarketing can be effective, in this instance – even if a recipient is interested, they might not take the time to pick up the phone. In this way, you can build rapport with a potential customer over the phone whilst having a head start over a completely ‘cold’ call.

 

Reinvigorating your marketing strategy

Be it direct, by email or otherwise, any individual marketing activity is just a piece in a larger puzzle. In this post-GDPR world, it’s worth taking some time to review all aspects of your marketing strategy and see how other areas can make up for any shortfalls.

You might want to consider:

  1. Events: are you putting your brand out there at industry events? Not only can this increase brand awareness and perform a lead generation function, but face-to-face networking is often the most effective way of building a relationship with a potential client. If people can talk to you and learn about your brand that way, they are more likely to remember and pick up the phone.
  2. Social media: your social media platforms are an invaluable tool for sharing brand news, products, and engaging with industry news. Managing your social media profiles shows both existing and potential customers that the brand is switched-on, interested, and present within the industry.
  3. Public Relations: building positive relationships with journalists in your field can ensure that your business news hits the headlines in a timely and effective fashion. Once you have established a good relationship with the press, you will have a platform for sharing success stories and more, thus raising brand awareness.

 

Perhaps the most important exercise in the wake of GDPR is to re-consider who your target audience really is, re-focus your strategy to approach them, and re-imagine how you are putting your brand out there in a wider sense.

If you’re looking for guidance on marketing or PR activity for your business, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Technical Marketing & PR team to see how we can help.

 

*Data & Marketing Association

Bright horizons for Education Technology through 2020

Education technology, or EdTech, is becoming increasingly embedded in every level of our education system. The growing EdTech revolution can be seen in classrooms and lecture theatres around the world, but the British government is proving to be among the most proactive in supporting its development and implementation.

The Department for Education recently published its strategy report for education providers and the EdTech industry, paving the way for unprecedented progress through 2019 and 2020. Given that we work with some of the world’s leading EdTech brands, we’ve spent the time digesting the (rather lengthy) report, so that we can bring you the three major takeaways…


Developing the infrastructure to support EdTech implementation and use

We live in an increasingly connected world. That said, some schools and colleges suffer from poor internet connectivity which hampers their ability to use EdTech seamlessly in the classroom. Despite a top-level government initiative to achieve nationwide full-fibre connectivity by 2033, the Department for Education have pledged funding to help hundreds of the most affected schools to reach this within the next two years.

The Department for Education has also identified cloud-based systems as a key resource for increased security, cheaper running costs, ease of work-sharing and remote access.


Providing educators with the skills and confidence to use EdTech resources

Some of the largest barriers to the adoption of digital technologies are teacher confidence, willingness and adequate training. The Department for Education is setting up a network of ‘demonstrator’ institutions to show good practice and online training courses to build skills and confidence in educators.


Promoting innovation and investment into the EdTech industry

The Department for Education has published a set of ten challenge objectives which it hopes the industry will solve by 2021, for example: ‘“Improve parental engagement and communication, whilst cutting related teacher workload by up to five hours per term.”

There will be innovation competitions related to these challenges to promote product development where solutions are lacking. These involve potential investment and access for EdTech producers to pilot programs and tester institutions for their products.

 

A positive landscape for Education Technology

The enthusiasm of the Department for Education towards EdTech combined with the innovation on display from producers and education institutions alike point to a brilliant few years of growth for Education Technology. Effective support is being put in place for educators, providers, SME’s and customers in such a way that educational outcomes and business are set to benefit.

The education technology space promises to be hugely exciting through 2020, and institutions looking to innovate their classrooms will have no shortage of options at their disposal. If you’ve got a spare half hour, you can read the full report here, and if you’d like to pick our brains on how best to approach PR and marketing in the EdTech space, drop us a line.

Advice: Finding the Right Partner

There are many reasons businesses may be looking to work with a marketing & PR agency, whether it be for projects, additional resource or to fulfil a year-round function. We know the process can be long and time-consuming, and it isn’t a necessarily a bad thing, as it’s crucial that you find an agency that works well for your business, so you can reap the benefits. We spoke to some of our clients about how they went about working with us and the best advice they would give to businesses currently in the process.

 

 

  • Your objectives

First and foremost, you need to think about exactly what you want from an agency and what role you would like them to play. Only when you know what you’re looking for can you begin to invite agencies to submit proposals. This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to add elements on, it just means you need to be able to communicate your core intentions. You should also agree a budget spend in principle for the agency to work with.

 

  • The significance of specialisms

For our clients, specialisms are one of the most important points they raised. If only it was as simple as any agency being the perfect fit for any business. There are an array of business types out there, and there are also many different types of agency. If your business is in the manufacturing sector, find an agency with manufacturing experience. If your business in the technology sector, find an agency with technology experience. If your business is retail, then find an agency with retail experience. For something that is quite logical you’d be surprised how many businesses sometimes overlook the link. If an agency has proven experience in your sector, the chances are they already understand the principles of how your business works and have existing relationships with the trade media in your sector.

 

  • Team work really does make the dream work

Your agency should be an extension of your own team and work in sync. Ask to meet the team, visit each other’s offices if time allows. It’s important to get a feel for what the relationship might be like, it’s a bit of a dating game, you need to find that spark and be excited about working with one another.

 

  • The nitty gritty stuff

Request a portfolio and have conversations about the types of work the agency has been involved in for other clients. Find an agency that is focused on producing quality output and campaigns. Client testimonials are also useful to help you evaluate the work of an agency.

 

If you’re on the lookout for an agency for the first time, or thinking of reviewing your current partnership, we hope these tips from professionals who have been there, done that, and got the right t-shirt will help you out.

Writing a Winner – How to Craft an Award-Winning Entry

No matter what business you have or how big it is, you can enter a business award. There are a large variety of awards, stemming from local to national, industry based, or product based, and it provides an incredible opportunity to get yourselves recognised in your industry. It is a great PR opportunity for your company, which can provide free marketing, increased credibility and help to attract new customers. Having drafted many award-winning entries for our clients we wanted to share our ‘must-do’, tried and tested formula with you.

Read Entry Criteria

It may sound simple but ensure you read the entry criteria. It is important to make sure that what you are offering is relevant to what the category is requesting.

Time is NOT of the Essence

Give yourself plenty of time on the award entry, this is a fantastic opportunity for your business to be recognised and your team to be rewarded for its hard work. Entries can take much longer than you think, so start early!

Best Feature Forward

Put forward your best and most relevant feature for the category your entering. It is vital to ensure that you believe what you are proposing is going to win this category, so make sure it’s the right product or service.

Stick to the Facts

It is important to include supporting evidence to validate why you feel that you should win this award, and more so to prove to the judges that you deserve it. Statistics or customer testimonials and case studies can provide confirmation of the work you have done and help persuade the judges.

Proof Read

Ensure you read and re-read your entry, make sure you are happy with it and feel proud of the product or service you are offering. Stick to the word count, say everything you need to say without being too complex and use supporting evidence!

Hopefully, with these tips you’ll craft your award-winning entry and your business will get the help it needs to achieve the recognition you deserve. Good luck!

Sharing a Passion for Our City

We love Cardiff, and when we found out that a local charitable organisation needed help to create a video promoting the city to its members worldwide we were more than happy to help out.

Cardiff Round Table is a group set up to encourage fun and friendship, in addition to raising money for charity. One of their biggest events you’ve probably heard of or even possibly been to, is Sparks in the Park Cardiff. The annual firework display is extremely popular, and members of Cardiff Round Table put in a tremendous amount of effort to organise the event and raise a lot of money.

Round Table groups exist all over the world and every year meet up in a different city to celebrate the achievements of Round Table. In 2019, the International Union of Clubs (IUC) event will be hosted by Cardiff, so Cardiff Round Table needed a video that would give ‘Tablers’ from far and wide a brief insight into what our beautiful city has to offer.

We came up with this video which was presented at IUC in Roubaix, France, in June. It was a privilege to be able to help the guys!

If anyone is interested in knowing more about Cardiff Round Table, the social and networking aspect, or the fantastic charity work they do, get in touch here.

 

Syncro Secures Virtual Marketing Manager Service

Technical Marketing & PR has been retained to provide virtual marketing manager services to Syncro after successfully supporting the business at the Nursing and Dementia Care Expo in April 2018.

The Cardiff-based marketing and PR agency project managed Syncro’s whole stand presence and communications around the expo, including manufacturer liaison and literature production. Steve Long, Managing Director of Syncro, was impressed with Technical Marketing & PR’s delivery, highlighting the ease of integration into Syncro’s team and their ideas for the expo.

“Technical Marketing & PR have done an excellent job at putting the stand together. Due to their support, I have been relieved from all pressure regarding the expo, which has allowed me to focus on my daily business tasks.”

Louise Matthews, Director of Technical Marketing & PR, concludes: “We are proud of the success that we achieved for Syncro at the Nursing and Dementia Expo, and are looking forward to supporting them moving forward on a more proactive basis. It’s been a real pleasure to watch the business grow from a start-up to the success it is today. We’re proud to be able to help them in the next stage of the journey.”

Syncro is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of fire and security solutions, with Technical Marketing & PR working with them on a project basis since the business launched in 2014.

Pitching to Your Media

The relationship between the media and PR teams is one that is somewhat interdependent. The media need PR practitioners and PR practitioners need the media. With increasing pressure placed on journalists to increase their content output whilst resources are being squeezed, journalists are relying on press releases and stories to come to them like never before. Yes, this is likely to work in the favour of PR and marketing teams in the process of pitching stories, but it’s by no means grounds to be complacent about your media relationships. If anything, you need to strengthen your position in an industry where journalists’ mailboxes are being bombarded with content. That said, it’s also important that you act responsibly and professionally in your dealings with the media.

Pitching to your media is all about developing strong relationships and is a key part of any successful PR strategy. Here are some of our best tips for pitching to your target press:

  • Do your research

Before sending a press release, ensure that your content is relevant for a specific publication by checking what stories/ topics they cover. Make sure you have specific media lists and that these are regularly checked and updated. It’s far too easy to find a media contacts list online and ping them all a press release. This can be potentially damaging as you risk agitating journalists if you’re sending them irrelevant content. Your decision to target publications needs to be smart and calculated.

 

  • Find out the journalist’s preferences

Every journalist is unique and has preferred methods of communication. Some journalists like to discuss potential stories over the phone, others prefer content to be pitched to them via email. It’s a good idea to try and call the press desk in the first instance for a quick chat, if you have no success getting through, then drop them an email. Don’t be afraid to ask your journalist how they’d like to communicate, it will show them you’re being considerate and will allow you to interface more effectively.

 

  • Be concise

Don’t babble on. Make sure you know exactly what you want to pitch before you contact the journalist. Whether it be by phone or email, keep it short and concise. Journalists have very busy schedules and will lose interest quickly if you don’t get straight to the point. Get all the key details in – the who, what, when, where, and why. Don’t be afraid to explain to the journalist why you think it would make a great story. If you’re passionate about it, then it will seem like a far more attractive pitch.

 

  • Don’t be too persistent

Send your press release once. If you don’t get a response, then it doesn’t mean the publication isn’t going to run with it. If you really want to see if they’ve picked it up, add a read receipt, or if this isn’t successful then give them a quick call and ask if they’d like any further details or offer an interview. Alternatively, you could call the publication in the first instance, very briefly pitch the story and ask who the best person to send it to would be.

 

  • Meet the deadlines

Remember that journalists often have print deadlines to meet, these cannot be changed to wait for your content, so make sure you meet the deadline, or even better send the content ahead of the deadline. If you’re late sending your piece and don’t fulfil your end of the deal, the journalist will lose confidence in you and will be less likely to return to you for content in the future.

 

  • Keep the journalist updated

Keep the journalist updated with any developments to ensure that they know you’re proactively working with them. If they contact you, then you need to respond as soon as possible. If you leave them hanging, they may think you’re no longer interested and give the space to someone else.

 

  • Think proactively

Have the relevant content prepared so you’re ready to provide the journalist with whatever they need, quickly and efficiently. Often journalists will require a strong image, so have this ready to send or even better send it with the press release. If you can provide your journalist with a fully packaged piece, then they will be far more likely to pick it up.

 

  • Safeguard your relationships

Work to develop your relationships with publications on a general basis but also the journalists on an individual level. To have a named contact makes your job far easier as you’ll have a captive audience. Equally don’t abuse the relationship and make sure you’re working professionally with each other’s goals and objectives in mind.

 

If you can do all of these things then you’ll be far more successful in pitching to your media, which should result in more high-quality coverage. Find out more in our Guide to Strong Media Relations here.

 

 

Are you GDPR ready?

What is GDPR?

GDPR is the new General Data Protection Regulation which will come into force from 25th May 2018. It will replace the current Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC. The new regulation intends to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals in the European Union.

 

But what about Brexit?

Even though the UK is set to leave the European Union, the government has fully committed to GDPR. From a global perspective Europe is leading the way with GDPR and although data protection is constantly developing, the rest of the world is likely to follow over time. And if nothing else, all you would have to do is store one EU citizen’s data on your system and you would have to be compliant with GDPR anyway. Any company not compliant with GDPR would face significant difficulty in trading with the EU.

So, what does GDPR actually involve?

Valid Consent: There will be stricter rules surrounding consent to use people’s data. Obtaining consent for processing personal data must be clear and seek an affirmative response or opt in system.

Transparency: People will have a right to see what information you hold about them. You must be able to tell any one person at any time how their data is being used.

The Right to Correction: Individuals will have the right to rectify any information that is incorrect.

The Right to Erasure: In some cases, people will have the right to have their data completely erased.

Data Portability: People will be able to request their data is moved from one service provider to another.

The Right to Object to Automated Processing: Individuals will have a right to object to certain types of automated processing.

 

How will GDPR impact PR & Marketing?

GDPR will impact all areas of businesses, it’s not just an issue for compliance teams. GDPR will arguably change the way in which marketing departments operate. In marketing we work with a lot of data, particularly when it comes mailing or analytics. Communications data such as name, email, phone number and address, all fall under the GDPR remit.

With GDPR in place, marketers will only be able to mail people who have opted in to receive messages. The sign-up process must include information to subscribers about the brand that is collecting consent, and outline information on the purposes of collecting their personal data. Records need to be kept of the given consent.

But what about people like journalists who make their contact details readily available? Although you are unlikely to face consequences for mailing journalists you must not be complacent. Only send journalists relevant content and do not abuse the access you have to their information.

There is no allowance for data collected without consent prior to GDPR. Many companies will want to work with marketing and PR firms to make themselves visible in new campaigns to retool and build brand awareness to encourage new opt ins.

You might think that there is going to be a mad rush to collect new data, but this is where ‘privacy by design’ comes in to play. Privacy by design is about being responsible users of information and only collecting the minimum amount of data required to conduct business operations. The data must also not be stored for any longer than is necessary.

Working with other organisations

In an increasingly globalised world of information sharing and collaboration, businesses often work with other partners or services to outsource areas of work. The original data owner is responsible for ensuring there is a procedure in place to confirm the data is used appropriately. There needs to be a formal control in order so that the information is only used for the purpose agreed. This could take the form of a contract or formal assessment of data security and privacy. It’s all about showing that you have effective regulation and control processes in place.

 

“GDPR won’t impact small businesses like mine”

GDPR will impact all businesses. Rightly so, larger businesses and corporations will have a lot more work to do to make sure they are GDPR compliant, as they often have large databases that feed in to one another. It will become mandatory for large businesses processing high volumes of data to appoint a Data Protection Officer. But small businesses also need to be able to prove they are compliant, even if it’s in the form of a 1-page document. You need to have some sort of document you could show a compliance officer to demonstrate you are GDPR ready. Any business you work with inside the EU, where sharing data is involved will be required to assess you to some extent in terms of GDPR. So, it’s worth getting it right.

 

What are your obligations?

Accountability: Demonstrate compliance by maintaining accurate data processing records.

Data Transfer: You are only allowed to transfer data if the appropriate safeguards are in place.

Data Security: All data must be kept secure and protected.

Data Breaches: Data breaches must be reported within 72hours.

Data Protection Officers: DPO’s will be mandatory in organisations processing large volumes of data.

Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA): DPIA will be mandatory if you’re processing activity results in a high risk to any person’s data rights.

 

What will happen if you don’t comply?

Regulators are super serious about data protection and responsibility this time around. Regulators in the UK have begun a serious recruitment drive, so companies will certainly be subject to checks. Data Protection Authorities and the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) will be able to flag companies that are not compliant and carry out an assessment. Consumers and individuals will also gain power from this perspective as they will be able to make complaints about any organisation they feel is using their data irresponsibly. Hefty fines will be placed on businesses who are not compliant with GDPR.

 

What next?

There is certainly a lot of information to take in surrounding GDPR and it is important to do your research and make sure your business is compliant. The emphasis is on being responsible data users and being able to demonstrate how you comply rather than defending yourself if you don’t. GDPR is a great opportunity for businesses and organisations to get into shape and promote how you control data use in a professional manner.

 

Benefits of GDPR

Enhance customer trust

Improve brand image and reputation

Strengthen data governance

Tighten information security

Increase competitive edge

 

It’s important to do your research and get the correct protocols in place. The ICO website is a great place for more information on GDPR. Check it out here.

Online Content: ‘The Perfect Mix’

In celebration of ‘Pancake Day’ we thought we’d give you a sweet treat to indulge on. We all know if you get the pancake mix wrong, they can end up being a disaster. Online content works in exactly the same way, you need to start with the right ingredients to come up with something that will appeal to your audience. So, here’s what we believe to be ‘The Perfect Mix’:

 

  • Start with a captivating title 

The chances are the first thing your reader will see is the title. You need to make sure that you grab their attention by telling them what the content is about, but equally don’t give away the punchline. It needs to be a teaser that pulls them in and drives traffic to your page or website.

  • Keep paragraphs short

Smart phones and tablets are now the most popular devices to view content on, so make sure you consider this when you’re writing. Short and concise paragraphs mean that when viewed on a mobile device the content won’t appear too ‘heavy’ and the reader is more likely to remain engaged. A few sentences per paragraph are generally ample.

 

  • Add a strong image

People are far more likely to remember content if paired with a strong image, they’re also more likely to click on it. People love visuals and are programmed to better remember information if associated with images. If your content includes lots of data, why not use an infographic?

 

  • Avoid using industry jargon

While you may be proud to know a wealth of industry jargon in your sector, it can be hard to decipher and off-putting to your audience. Say what you have to say in the simplest way possible in plain English, it’s far easier for your audience to digest.

  • Break content up into sizeable chunks

When writing, break up your content into small sections that you can later extract and use on social media. This is an easy way to make sure you have strong bits of content that you can push through your social media channels and direct traffic back to the original content piece.

 

  • Consider using video

Popularity of video content is on the rise and represents an increasing amount of internet traffic. All you need to do is take a look at your social media feeds to see that video content is everywhere, it’s easy for people to view and make sense of, even on the move. Because of subtitles, most videos don’t even rely on sound. The best videos are visual, short and concise and generally last less than a minute. You don’t even need a camera, the quality of the video recorded on your smart phone or tablet is sufficient for online use and there are apps available to help you to edit your video content so that it looks professional.

 

  • Make your content relevant

When sharing content on social media look out for opportunities to capitalise on your output. Tailor your content towards international days or celebrations that are likely to trend on social media, it will likely increase the amount of traffic to your post. Whether you coincide your content with general or industry specific days/ events, targeted and planned output tends to be more successful.

 

  • Add hyperlinks

Think about your content and whether it relates to anything in your wider content portfolio. If so, add some hyperlinks linking through to the content. The chances are, if people have made it as far as reading the body of your content they will also be interested in other content you’ve shared. Hyperlinks are an easy way to direct and increase traffic to different areas of your website or social media platforms.

So, there you have it, the perfect mix for online content. If your business needs support or advice on online content, then get in touch. We are more than happy to offer up some of our time for a free consultation.