The beauty of the hummingbird

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Are you watching Planet Earth? What connection can this possibly have with PR and B2B marketing?

The photography and camera work is so exquisite, people have been asking if it is CGI.  The beauty of the natural world; the iridescent plumage of the hummingbirds; the incredible beak of the sword billed hummingbird; the way it has evolved to occupy a niche and survive – such artistry in nature.

Bathos alert! It reminded me how apposite Google was to call its latest search platform hummingbird. Google  logo of hummingbird search engine platform

You can really understand that the platform is designed to pick out exactly the page or information you are looking for in a jungle of information.  Google defined the name as being chosen because it means ‘precise and fast’.

There are many factors in a Google search, but when Hummingbird was introduced in 2013 it brought in an emphasis on looking at how each word and other factors (such as your location) work together, to try and take into account the meaning of the whole query not just individual word.

And it does this of course with incredible speed and accuracy.

A reminder then, if we need one, of competition and survival of the fittest in business to business marketing.

Search engine optimisation and google ranking is vital for a business to thrive.  Good content is a top three factor used by Google to rank a website. And that is where of course,  a PR agency can help you stay ahead of the competition…

How to…bring simple graphic design in-house

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If you don’t know by now, visual, well-designed, curated content is in. Instagram usage has doubled in the last two years and is well on its way to overtaking Facebook as the most engaged AND popular network.[1] At the same time, both video and infographics have become powerful tools for brands looking to communicate more easily with their readers. Effective communication is undeniably becoming more about visual aspects than ever before.

Agency work is varied; while we at Twelve produce traditional PR, develop media relations, etc., more and more communication relies on visual elements – we also produce newsletters, posters, leaflets, social media adverts etc. Infographics often accompany important research-based press releases as a visual way of communicating the topline news. And with the importance of high quality graphics on the up, clients have high expectations that we need to match.

It makes sense then, that many creative PR agencies are thinking about how they can bring some elements of graphic design in-house. While we do use an external designer and printer for some jobs, sometimes we need to put together a quick, professional-looking creative ourselves.

And while taking a photo at an edgy angle and adding a snazzy filter may be anyone’s game, professional graphic designing is not. Here are some tips to get started on your own in-house design:

Canva

For beginners, free online software Canva is your new best friend. It’s super easy to use, intuitive and really made for creative assignments without the fancy, difficult to use features of a professional graphic design programme.

It has a range of background, font, layout and size options and templates, as well as various images, logos and shapes you can use for free. You can also upload your own images, so brand logos and specific imagery can be easily added to your design.

There are some elements you need to pay for, but here at Twelve we use the free account and it’s more than we need to design social media creatives and other simple visuals, like a blog graphic or an email header. There is also a free infographic template which is really useful for creating a simple infographic if you don’t have time (or budget!) for professional design work.

The eye for design 

Many say that some people just have an eye for design. While it may come more naturally to some, it is something you can learn by looking at or finding similar designs to what you are aiming to create. There are all sorts of resources online that you can use to find inspiration and use as a base for your design, whether you’re making a creative for a Facebook advert or your building a four-page newsletter. As you get more experience and more confident with the process of designing, you will start to trust your own nose more and be more creative.

For practical tips and to learn basic design principles, Canva itself has a really useful blog to help beginners get started: https://designschool.canva.com/

InDesign courses

After becoming more proficient using Canva, you’ll start to notice it can’t do all the things a professional graphic design programme can. This only really becomes a problem with more complicated design jobs, like a newsletter or leaflet for example (Canva is definitely still my go to for social media visuals and smaller jobs). But if you do want to bring these types of more complex graphic design jobs in-house, InDesign is the next step.

InDesign is a paid-for Adobe product, which is used by most professional graphic designers. This means it has a LOT of features so you can get the precision required for complicated graphic design jobs. This being said, if you are thinking of getting InDesign, I would recommend going on a course to get to grips with the programme, rather than trying to navigate it yourself like you can do on Canva. You can get some fantastic results from InDesign, but it is an complex programme to learn to use.

I won’t give a step-by-step guide to using InDesign, as this blog would become VERY long, but to really understand the programme and use it to its full potential, look into booking onto a beginners’ course (probably a 2-day course) and see how you get on.

graphic design in-house

Infographic designed on Canva

Visual PR?

The statistics to the left speak for themselves; visual communication is effective. In order to help brands and products to be heard through the noise across the proliferation of media channels, where visual aspects matter just as much, if not more, than words, design skills are something we need to look to understand as experts in communication, ensuring we keep up with trends and stay ahead of change.

 

 

 

[1] https://www.brandwatch.com/2016/05/37-instagram-stats-2016/

Innovation, digital savvy, sophisticated campaign evaluation

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We’re delighted to celebrate our account manager Jess Friend winning CIPR Young Communicator of the Year Award 2016 in the Anglia, Thames and Chiltern Region.

Here’s the full citation:

“For the judges, Jessica was a standout winner. She is dedicated, passionate and incredibly self-aware. She has a clear desire and commitment to develop her own skill set as well as her team. It’s impressive that, at just 27 years old, Jessica manages three key accounts and oversees 12 in total. Jessica evidenced innovation and digital savvy and has a sophisticated awareness of evaluating her campaigns. Jessica absolutely shows considerable promise as a future leader.”

The Twelve offer

Jess exemplifies what Twelve offers – a responsive, smart service which delivers great results; someone who is passionate about training and keeping ahead of every trend in the PR and marketing industry.

A commitment to training forms one of our Twelve founding principles where every member of staff has their own £1,200 annual training budget. We also have ‘Friday Fixes’ where we address industry or market issues and solutions, and Jess is a keen leader and instigator of these sessions.

Results for clients

But what matters to our clients is how this is translated into action. Here you can see a couple of examples the judges picked up which show how Jess as account manager really makes a difference:

  • 265 media cuttings and over 900 online social media posts per year, providing an international profile and  search optimisation for an international school based in the UK.
  •  A relaunched product website and its first video – with 50% saving on the previous agency’s costs – over 60k impressions and 16K views with 20 per cent watching until the end.

You can read the full case study about Jess and Twelve by clicking this link CIPR Young Communictor of the Year

Or better still, why don’t you test out how good we all are at communication and give us a call?  You could have the industry’s best working for you too!

Call Twelve on 01608 495012