Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Strolling to better health

In today’s busy lifestyles, fitting in an exercise regime can often be more strenuous than the actual exercise! However, according to a survey from Queen’s University in Belfast has found than even a casual stroll at lunchtime can have a really positive effect on your blood pressure and waistlines.

Participants who walked for 30 minutes each lunchtime found an improvement in their waist circumference and blood pressure after just 12 weeks whilst a separate group who did nothing, obviously found no change!

Here at Cirkle, a couple of the girls are in training for the High Wycombe Moonlight Walk so in support we have implemented a schedule of lunchtime walks each week around the scenic Beaconsfield village. The more energetic of us finishing with a stint on the PowerPlate once back at the office! We have all commented on how much we have enjoyed getting away from our desks for half an hour and how we feel pleasantly refreshed when returning to work. Any weight-loss and blood pressure drop is, of course, a welcome bonus but to take that time out is so beneficial, especially on stress levels and moods. I relate it to being at school and having ‘playtimes’, even in adulthood I feel it is just as crucial to step away and refresh the body and mind ready for the afternoon’s challenges!

I would definitely agree with the little but often theory, if faced with a gruelling fitness regime it can be daunting but simply taking a stroll with colleagues at lunchtime, especially in the lovely Summer weather, I think we could all benefit.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

What does your online identity say about you?

We know that identity is key to any successful campaign. Communicating consistent messages, providing clear explanations of services, owning domain names and respecting design guidelines are just some of the ways that brands communicate their unique identity and what benefits they can provide for their target audiences. In PR, we make sure that the brand’s identity is communicated at all levels, ensuring that audiences know just what they are getting, and that they like what they see. PRs are good at managing identity – but are we managing our own? Are you?

Everyone’s heard Facebook horror stories where a drunken picture or a badly thought out comment has lost a person their job, but flying under the radar is only slightly better. Social media is increasingly essential to PR and marketing, and PR professionals should be able to demonstrate their knowledge. Whether it’s a potential client or a potential employer who’s looking for you, if your name comes up in an internet search it’s a great starting point for showing that you know your stuff.

To really use the internet to the full advantage of your clients, you need to involve yourself in every relevant channel. Most people have got the hang of Facebook, and you might have a LinkedIn profile, but if your Twitter usage amounts to a single tweet announcing that you’re “trying out this Twitter thing”, you’re not embracing the media. Personal use is the best way to learn about social media, and who knows, you might learn more than you think. Since I started using Twitter a year ago, I’ve not only learnt how to use it as a tool, but also read hundreds of interesting and relevant tweets and blog posts which have taught me far more than I ever expected. In fact, this very post was inspired by an article by @SJOgborn which I found through Twitter.

If you’re feeling a bit out of your depth, don’t forget that it’s not just aging CEOs who haven’t got the hang of it. In a recent article, outgoing Unilever CMO Simon Clift suggests that PRs aged between 30 and 45 are the “lost generation” when it comes to social media, because they didn’t grow up with the technology, and they don’t have children who can bring it to their attention. Chances are, then, that you’re not alone. The great thing about social media it’s that it’s constantly evolving, so everyone is learning all the time, even if they are a specialist. Get involved, and you’ll be surprised how quickly you pick it up!

Do you think that social media has become an essential PR tool? Is it something that you are interested in, or do you feel like you should be more involved but don’t know where to start?

Friday, 7 May 2010

Facebook takes over the internet

It’s not an original title, but it’s the only one that says what needs to be said. Racing ahead of other social networking sites like Twitter and LinkedIn, and even giving Google a run for its money, Facebook is indeed taking over the internet.

The social networking giant recently announced the launch of Open Graph Protocol , a number of ‘social plugins’ that integrate Facebook activity with sites across the web. Amongst the developments is a ‘Like’ plugin which allows visitors to any site to share content with their friends via Facebook, and a ‘Recommendations’ plugin that suggests interesting content based on the opinions of a visitor’s Facebook friends. In short, the applications allow users to connect with each other at the touch of a button, without actually accessing Facebook.

The plugins mean that visitors to websites will automatically get a personalised experience, with recommendations from people they trust supporting a company’s offering. With personal recommendations accepted as the best way to promote a product or service, this is an extremely valuable tool for marketers, who can now integrate their various online profiles through Facebook and increase the reach of their content. With more than 400 million users, Facebook is perfectly placed to support this integration. It is a hugely well-recognised, trusted brand, and the collaborative nature of the site lends itself exceptionally well to the facilitation of wider content sharing.

Social media specialist Matt Singley [@mattsingley] says on his blog that “Facebook has rolled out something that is so beneficial to every brand and company that has a web presence, [it] now controls the internet.” I’m inclined to agree with him. These developments mean that Facebook is no longer just a social networking site, but a platform for sharing which runs across the whole web.

The vastly increased opportunities for content distribution mean that online coverage will be more important to brands than ever, and interesting, engaging digital content will be capable of driving even greater reach. PR and marketing professionals need to embrace these developments; not only do they present a wealth of opportunity but it seems incredibly likely that in no time at all, they will become an essential web tool for consumers across the board.

What do you think of the Facebook developments? Will you be using them on your own sites, or those of your clients?

Thursday, 6 May 2010

When eating your 5-a-day is just not good enough!

The Daily Mail recently reported that simply eating 5 pieces of fruit and veg a week may not be good enough…. since when was eating any fruit and veg wrong?! Apparently new research showed that people tend to eat the same sort of fruit and vegetables which they know and like rather than broadening their diet with the likes of ‘superfoods’ such as kale and papaya.

We all know that some foods contain higher levels of particular vitamins and nutrients so we should be eating more of them, but in reality broadening our fruit and veg diet can be tougher than you think.

Here at Cirkle, we’re no strangers to encouraging the nation to sample more beneficial fruit and veg through our work with the Blackcurrant Foundation. British blackcurrants are renowned for their amazing health benefits which include protecting against ageing, cardiovascular disease and colds and flu amongst many others. Recent research has also revealed that they may even be beneficial to asthma sufferers. Wherever possible, we demonstrate easy ways to incorporate them into an ordinary diet by using simple recipes and tips and even promote that the same benefits can be gained from pre-made juice forms of the fruit. Eating your varied 5-a-day needn’t be a chore!

The moral of this story is that if you can swap your ‘usual’ fruit and veg for something with more health benefits, then go for it. If not, don’t fret over nutritional values – eating a so-called ‘less worthy’ fruit or veg is hardly going to do you any harm!