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Facebook Says Conversations Are Now More Important Than Reactions

By Uncategorised No Comments

Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement about the upcoming changes to Facebook’s newsfeed has a lot of us talking. Coincidently, that’s exactly the desired outcome that he wants for the platform. These latest updates will place higher value on comments and sharing, so any content with an empty comments stream will reach less people. Ultimately, he believes these changes will ensure “the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent.”

He says that Facebook was built to connect family and friends. These types of connections make us happier and that’s important. Yet somehow, we’ve ended up in a place where there’s more brand and publisher content than personal content. To fix this, the ranking system in Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm will be adjusted.

How it is now?
Rankings place high value on clicks and reactions, placing content that attracts a lot of these types of engagement higher up in our newsfeeds. Sponsoring this type of content almost certainly earns you a place in people’s newsfeeds based on the type of targeting you employed and any engagement will increase reach.

How will it be after the changes?
More value will be placed on content that people share with friends, as well as content that they comment on. Sponsoring will not necessarily guarantee you a place in your audience’s newsfeed any more, unless a certain amount of active engagement is garnered first.

Why? Because Facebook wants us to talk to each other more, click on website links less and actively engage with content. According to Zuckerberg, watching a video or clicking like is considered passive engagement, commenting and sharing is considered active engagement.

This move is back-tracking from previous strategies, in the past 12 months Facebook has pushed video content and supported publishers, relaxing restrictions on sponsoring content. At this point, it’s clear that the platform had lost much of its original purpose. Users are sharing less of their personal stories, and even if they do, they will often get buried under sponsored content. These proposed changes will reverse this effect, bringing us closer to how the platform used to operate a few years ago.

What does that mean for a brand’s PR and social strategy? It means that content posted on social channels needs to focus on things that are sharable and start conversations. Any content that purely drives to websites will most likely suffer a sharp decline in reach. Content that typically drives a lot of reactions (likes, loves, laughs, etc.) will probably suffer the same. Videos may also suffer if they do not generate any “active” engagement.

At this point, before the changes kick in, current evergreen social strategies need revising, especially if it is sponsored content. These new changes will make it much trickier to reach people unless share-ability and conversation are at the core of the content. However, it’s important to remember that, at this point, we have no true understanding of how these changes will manifest. Each brand page will be affected differently and whilst content calendars should be revised, it’s a matter of adjustment, not abandonment.

The Brand Launch

By Uncategorised


The brand launch: while it’s not rocket science, even the minds at NASA – you know, the guys who sold a nation on ‘The Moon’ – will tell you that there’s an art to telling a story that people connect with. Of course, not every brand has the benefit of captaining one of mankind’s greatest achievements, but with some careful planning and consideration, any story worth hearing can find its audience.

When we were given the task to launch Alternative Meat Co’s range of plant-based meat alternatives to market, one approach might have been to lob their brand story aimlessly into the sky and hope it would take off. We decided against this. Instead, we opted to create a campaign that would get people fired up and create a bit of controversy, and ultimately drive consumers in-store to purchase the product.

The premise of the campaign was to ignite a conversation with two tinder sparks:
1. Meat alternatives are inferior in taste
2. Eating meat makes you more Australian

Based on these insights, we rolled out a two-part integrated campaign that used well-known Aussie comedian and vegetarian Dave Hughes to kickstart the conversation. Phase one of the campaign saw a disguised ‘Hughesy’ serving kebabs to unknowing customers, grilling them on what they thought of the taste, before revealing the kebab was made with a plant-based substitute. Video of the Kebab prank divided an impassioned audience on social and traditional media and was viewed more than a million times.

Phase two successfully newsjacked the launch of Meat & Livestock Australia’s (MLA) annual ‘Eat Lamb on Australia Day’ campaign. With Hughsey again at the helm, our video parodying MLA ads hit on a hot topic and was distributed to a selection of key media outlets.

Having reshaped the narrative, we worked with popular millennial publisher Junkee Media to create a native content video depicting ‘What Australia Day looks like without meat’, which positioned the brand as an Australia Day meat alternative. The video attracted more than 80,000 views and 750 engagements.

While the campaign didn’t put man on the moon or cultivate a nation of would-be astronauts, it did successfully generate significant amounts of coverage and conversation across traditional and social media, with a total combined reach exceeding 90 million. The result of this being a tangible increase in brand awareness and, perhaps more importantly, consumer action – sales figures quadrupled in the week following phase one of the campaign and almost tripled in the week following phase two.

We also picked up a shiny award for Launch Campaign of the Year at Mumbrella’s CommsCon.

Winner, winner, (faux) chicken dinner.

Is the PR degree going way of the dinosaurs?

Should PR degrees go the way of dinosaurs?

By Food for thought

Is the PR degree going way of the dinosaurs?

Is the PR degree going extinct? When I embarked on my university journey in 2016, I chose to study public relations because I thought it sounded cool. Apart from the information collected by skimming through university brochures, I wasn’t exactly sure about the content of a PR degree and its worth to the market. 

This choice was especially challenging considering some of the latest publications on the industry. Companies such as IBM have challenged assumptions that college degrees are necessary assets for successful careers.

From a personal perspective, I have encountered many people asking me why I was studying PR at all. During an interview for an internship position in a Public Relations company, the director questioned the worth of having a PR degree and told me that he got into PR ‘by accident’, working his way through. I discovered later that he had a degree in archeology.

So what is the relevance of a public relations degree today? For me, it comes down to three things; competitive edge for job seekers, market respect and attracting a certain kind of person.

The PR industry is growing at an average of seven per cent annually, and its ranks have swollen to nearly five professionals to every single journalist, a ratio that has more than doubled over the past decade. While journalism is facing difficult times – Fairfax Media management’s recent announcement to cut a quarter of all editorial jobs comes to mind. As the industry is growing, the job market is becoming increasingly competitive with more professionals on the look-out for qualified students.

One of the arguments made after the recent 457 visa changes suppressing ‘PR Manager’ title from the skilled visa list was the surplus of qualified Australian students. In the future, it will therefore be nearly impossible to climb to the top of the PR professional ladder without the appropriate qualifications.

From a market perspective, hiring PR students is a testament to the value of the profession. Regardless of the growing relevance of Public Relations as a profession, the industry is not always labelled as fully mature because no consensus has been reached on how best to evaluate a PR campaign’s contribution to results. Hiring PR professionals who don’t have a degree could potentially contribute to the wider market questioning the profession’s value and legitimacy.

Finally, students that study PR are worth much more than their qualification. Most people drawn to PR possess skills beyond writing and research such as creative thinking, strategic development, the ability to communicate, open-mindedness and curiosity making them attractive on the job market. Gina Ramson-Williams, group talent director, Europe, at Weber Shandwick explained that she looks above all for inquisitive minds and drive when she hires PR graduates.

I was struck by the importance of creativity in the profession. A career in PR offers countless opportunities to be creative, not only in terms of writing but also in coming up with new ways to promote businesses and approaching new clients. PR is a profession which constantly calls for fresh ideas and lateral thinking so having those skills can be crucial to bring career success.

Having studied PR and had on the job training, my one concern is that educators work closely with PR operators on a regular basis to ensure the skillsets taught in PR degrees are always updated and kept relevant. PR continues to change so quickly, that a rounded practical education across social, digital, creative and strategy is essential.

Although some doubts prevail upon the future direction of PR in a fast-changing media environment, one thing is certain; PR degrees will not meet the same fate as the T-rex. Just like the PR market itself, the degree will adapt, evolve and flourish – rather than die out.

‘Like a ship emerging from the fog’

By Poem news

The dictionary definition of ‘emerging’ is to… ‘come forth into view or notice, as from concealment or obscurity – like a ship emerging from the fog.’ 14 months ago Poem wasn’t concealed or obscured; it just didn’t exist. Today we’re sailing hard like we’ve been in business for the last five years, working with the likes of Google, Expedia, Cartoon Network and The Cancer Council. And amazingly, through all this hard work, we’ve been noticed. A couple of weeks ago we sat at the Mumbrella Awards with all our peers as finalists for Emerging Agency Of The Year, against The Special  Group and Emotive; two highly successful Australian agencies that we hugely admire. What a privilege and reward for what’s already been the best year of our careers. Our friends at Special took home the final honours, but that didn’t stop us from celebrating like we’d won, because we still felt like we had.

Can agencies have a role in their staff’s personal development?

By Poem news

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated completing Poem’s 1st year of business by taking the whole team skydiving. Is that weird? It’s definitely not normal, but we figured we had to do something epic to match what’s been an epic year. We were all up in that plane together. We jumped out one after the other. We shared that stomach churning anticipation followed by the exhilaration of landing and the three day high that follows. It was truly the best thing that I’ve done at work with colleagues and for some, it was a real personal challenge and life changing experience. What is strange though for me, is that it’s led to a whole lot of thoughts in my head about what a work place’s role in its staffs’ lives should be and where to draw the boundary.

My first media world job was in London fifteen years ago at Freud Communications.  I was there for over five years predominantly because I had great mates there, I knew the work was forward thinking and the place inspired me. We worked hard, played hard and Matthew Freud, the owner did some kick ass motivational talks. I wouldn’t say it helped grow me as a person, but it was a key stage of my life and gave me a good work ethic. Since then I’ve worked for a total of four other companies until deciding to start Poem, however they’ve all been steps up on the career ladder as opposed to life changing periods.

I wonder whether there is actually a role for companies to have in staff’s personal growth rather than just career. Can we be more than just a wage, fair working environment and career progression? Can we inspire and encourage staff to be more and develop as people? I don’t know.  Maybe not as we grow bigger.  But right know I feel like we have an opportunity to do something amazing. I’m not saying it’s about extreme sports at a once a year party.  But since we’re starting from scratch, can we build in ways to give staff more trust, flexible time, annual leave without policies. I think my biggest bug bear about climbing the career ladder, has been the policy on a 20 day a year holiday allowance with two weeks maximum to be taken at any one time. It limits you to holidays as opposed to meaningful travel experiences that can’t be had within just two weeks. We want to change that.

Everything is changing (I guess everything always is), however right now because of new technology, commonplace high speed internet and changing demands of a Millennial generation, it feels like we’ve hit a real high step change, which a lot of established agencies are struggling to see over. I’m hoping that agency and career life changes for the better and that we manage to break the restrictive mould that’s existed in offices since the 60s. Being a year old I reckon we’re in a good position to help that change happen.

– Rob

The launch of the world’s first cold pasteurised milk.

By Client news, Poem news
This month we launched Made By Cow, a world first innovation by an Australian company that’s used cold pressure to kill all the bad stuff in untreated milk as opposed to boiling it. It’s totally safe to drink, contains more of milk’s natural goodness and it’s unhomogenised, so there’s a tasty layer of cream on top – just the way it should be.
There was a lot of preparation that went into this campaign. The messaging had to be perfect and how, when and which media we went to in order to break the story was key, as milk surprisingly, is a complex subject full of polarised points of view and passionate opinions.
We decided on ABC News and Fairfax as the two exclusives. They were given access behind the scenes to the farm, the cold pressure technology and interviews with Saxon, the founder and our nutritionist, Lyndi Cohen. These two opinion forming media let the rest of the country know we were onto something serious, so the rest of the country and then the rest of the world’s media also got on board. By the end of the week we been across the whole of Fairfax, News Corp, The Daily Mail, Huffington Post, Mashable, Ch 7 News, Ch 10, ABC TV / radio and online amongst many others.
To help educate people about the process and why cold pressure is so much better than heat pasteurisation, we worked with The Explainers to create a short 1 minute animation made for Facebook and targeted relevant geographical and interest-based audiences.
As a result of this publicity and social content only, Made By Cow sold out within the first three days and is still hard to find in store. Whilst initially being stocked in just Harris Farm Markets and About Life Stores, retailers both here and abroad have been requesting further product every since. The issue now, which is a good issue to have, is keeping up with demand.


Are we storytelling – or just telling tall stories?

By Food for thought

I remember first hearing people talk about ‘storytelling’ a few years ago. I never quite understood it then and I still don’t fully understand the term now. In fact, like many others, I think it’s overused marketing jazz. A story to me, typically has a beginning, a middle and an end.  It’s structured. It depicts an event or series of linked events. I can think of a handful of campaigns that do that; AAMI’s Rhonda and Ketut, the New Zealand Transport Agency’s ‘Mistakes’ Car Crash ad and their ‘Tinnyvision’ Snapchat content series, but there’s not much of it and not many people do it effectively. I don’t know who first coined the term ‘storytelling’, and I’m sure it helped serve a purpose at the time in selling in a campaign, but why do the rest of us still insist on white washing our campaigns with it? I don’t think people have taken the time to question why storytelling might be effective on motivating consumers in the first place.

My belief is that some stories, if told well, can inspire emotions in their listeners. When bards travelled medieval England, telling stories, singing songs and reciting poetry, there was a similar intention, to pass on information and entertain people. People listened because what they said inspired excitement, fear, hope and wonder. All strong emotions. And in fact, it’s emotions, not stories, that influence people. This is what I believe we’ve failed to acknowledge.

Emotions have greater influence on consumers than rational fact.  Mary Agenou, an American poet and author, once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” The same goes for brands. I choose Nike because the brand inspires me to lead a healthier life, not because it makes better sneakers. I choose Apple products because I feel its single-minded ethos reflects on my own work standards, however I’m sure Samsung phones do just the same thing. I believe that what people mean, when they talk about ‘storytelling’, is that their campaign will inspire some emotion in the consumer. However this doesn’t necessarily make it a story.

Psychologists have for many years acknowledged that it’s emotion, not rationale thought, that leads people to chose one brand over another. In 2013, Psychology Today published an article that said, “For consumers, perhaps the most important characteristic of emotions is that they push us towards action.” The thought goes as far back as the 17th century when the French mathematician and philosopher, Pascal said, “The heart has reasons, which reason doesn’t understand.” What we’re really trying to do as marketers, is move people. And this is why there’s been a trend recently towards cause related campaigns that show brands doing something good for society, such as Always’ ‘Like a girl’, or tear jerkers like Samsung’s ‘Hearing hands’. They’re emotional and from a cynical point of view, they’re designed to create emotional connections with the consumer and ultimately sell more product.

When Matt and I launched Poem, just a couple of months ago, we set out with the intention of offering a more human PR offering. To us that means having a human (and therefore more emotional) insight at the core of everything we do.  Whether that be social content, a stunt, launch event, influencer involvement, press office tactic or online video, everything we do has a cultural tension that’s relevant to the interests of the people we’re trying to engage. Brands can’t just make noise anymore. They need to start acting in a more human way in order to gain social currency. They need to be authentic and culturally relevant. Droga 5 ex CEO, Sudeep Gohil put it well at a Google Fire starters event, “Understanding humans is one of the future aspects of planning,” Gohil told the audience. “Being part of culture is more important than any strategy you can come up with because no one turns around and says I love that strategy or I love that ad, instead they talk about things they love which is generally not the stuff we create.”. 

From our previous integrated agency experience and the award winning campaigns we’ve both led, we came to believe that this emphasis on a more human approach is far more effective and cost efficient than shouting at people or telling tall stories about storytelling. It’s also just as relevant to all communications, whether that be paid, owned or earned media channels.

This opinion piece was first featured on Mumbrella. Read the full article and comments here.

Behind the eyes – the story of our logo

By Food for thought

Deciding on a name for an agency is like naming a baby. You create lists. You look at what else is popular because you want to be unique, check the initials don’t spell something funny and see what it rhymes with to try and prevent any playground bullying. As with all great businesses, the name was decided on a cliche by writing down our preferred choice on a napkin in a pub over a couple of beers. The napkin’s since disintegrated but the picture’s up on Insta.

Even our logo design has a story. The dots beneath the M represent eyes, as it’s what we see in people’s eyes that make them human. The font for the logo is the same as the one used on the London Underground logo and having both been brought up and started our careers in London, it felt right. We even use Royal Blue and Royal Red from the Union Jack in some iterations of the logo.

Hello from Poem – it’s been emotional.

By Poem news

After six months of cafe meetings, schooners, accountants, lawyers, bank managers, agency names on beer mats, domain registrations, email servers, web and logo designs, brand positioning, ten rounds of credentials and chats with friends, family and peers throughout, we’ve finally done it. Poem is a thing. And it feels great. The reaction we’ve had from the industry’s been heart warming and genuinely the feeling of coming into work each day is immensely exciting and refreshing. Here’s the first trade media article we had in Mumbrella about the launch.

Special thanks to a few people below who deserve credit for their outstanding work in bringing the Poem website and logo to life:

Jason Ierace for the amazing photography on the website. We’re still waiting to be included within his next fashion and beauty portfolio.
Pimm Van Nunen for our logo
James McIntosh for the quick turn around on a great looking site – he also does great video content if you’re looking

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