Friday, 27 July 2012

Retailers get ahead of the games

The sun is shining, the clock has almost finished its countdown, the athletes are all here and there are just a few hours to go until the 2012 London Olympics officially get underway.

In the last few weeks the trade PR team here at Cirkle have been out, along with our research partners him!, talking to hundreds of convenience retailers inside and outside of London to gauge how they are feeling and acting towards maximising sales for the Olympics and other big in-store events this year.

Confidence is clearly very high:
- 77% of retailers expect to increase their sales through in-store events this year
- nearly three quarters of retailers expect to grow their sales by up to 25%
- the most optimistic one in ten are expecting more than 25% sales growth 

For retailers, the Olympics is easily the most eagerly anticipated in-store event of the year, clearly more so than the Euros or the Jubilee, fuelled largely by leading suppliers like Coca-Cola, Cadbury and P&G also being primary Olympics partners.

Retailers say these suppliers have been particularly proactive, innovative and supportive in helping them get ready with exciting NPD, displays, promotions and heavyweight consumer marketing campaigns.

Given the huge sums of money that are involved in brands securing and promoting official LOCOG partnerships, ensuring perfect in-store execution at the final stage of the product journey, at the point of purchase, is an absolute must - not just a nice to have. And it seems that this has not been lost on the vast majority of retailers we spoke to, who are feeling extremely well prepared and confident.

After all the moaning and worrying, the Pre Games Anxiety as some have called it, there seems to be a genuine sense of excitement building this week among consumers. If this optimism is coupled with a bout of long-anticipated good weather, some medal-winning British performances and best-in-class in-store execution, retailers might yet make up some ground on what has hitherto been a disappointing year.

And in terms of that much-vaunted Olympic word – legacy – perhaps these Games will also leave a lasting impression on convenience retailing in the UK… a blue-print for the future on perfect in-store event execution and supplier/retailer collaboration.

This research was carried out through Cirkle’s intellectual property Retailer Inner Cirkle - the industry’s first and only independent evaluation tool of business to business marketing campaigns. The latest report is out now…. contact @neilbrenson or email for a copy of the report or for more information.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Music suits embrace creativity

A few years ago the music industry was in its deepest doldrums… suing teenagers the inevitable result of labels which hadn’t foreseen the rise of digital and thought they could stem the tide.

Canute-like they watched as it rose ever higher amid their cries that digital would see the end of new bands, the end of innovation, the end of investment and the end of the music industry.

But digital hasn’t killed the radio star any more than video did.

In fact the digital music industry is growing at an unprecedented rate with the IFPI saying major international music services are now in 58 countries, up from 23 in January 2011.

One of the things contributing to this success is smart ideas from a new generation of creative thinkers within the industry. They’re pushing the boundaries of marketing techniques, not just music marketing techniques, finding new ways of bringing music to the masses and telling the story of different bands and artists.

A few of my favourite examples are:

Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters: arguably the most vocal, active (well manipulated?) community of b(r)and-fans ever – and when was the last time a brand didn’t talk about building a community of fans as being some kind of Holy Grail 

Jack White (coolest man alive?) released a track from his latest album using the ‘new distribution method’ of 1000 flexi-discs tied to helium balloons which were released from his Nashville base three weeks before the album release date.

And now this… the Sound Graffiti technique used in NYC by French label Kitsuné. They teamed up with creative media agency CNNCTD+ to give fans the chance to listen to the new album and win copies at stations around the city, locations were revealed online.

Isn’t that cool?

On that note, I’m off to find my welllies, brolly-hat, sunnies and shorts… its Latitude this weekend, sometimes just the music is enough.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Stair-gates On Your Career Ladder?

There is a brilliant article in Marie Claire this month on baby-proofing your career.  As a working mother myself I experience daily the challenge of juggling ‘being a mum’ and a PR professional. 

The article says that many women start to take their foot off the career pedal even when they are just thinking about getting pregnant.  They stop striving for promotion,  inevitably get frustrated and bored, and then have little desire to return to their job post baby.  In fact a recent survey on showed that out of 300 mothers, 71% had taken a step back in their career or stayed at the same level after having a baby.  

Within the feature are small nuggets of sensible advice to avoid this:

• Keep your foot on the gas – you don’t know how long it will take you to conceive
• Get as much experience as possible in your 20s & 30s
• Have a long-term career plan
• Choose your partner carefully – domestic chores & childcare responsibilities should be shared equally

I would add that building a network of childcare support locally is really important.  If, like me you don’t employ a nanny or have family nearby then help from neighbours and friends become essential.  Your child’s nursery can also be an excellent pool of emergency childcare options.

Within the PR industry women dominate at entry level, but the number drops dramatically at board level – and we are better than most sectors!  I have experienced negativity towards part-time working within the PR industry and completely understand the challenges this can bring.  But actually, the survey revealed that a desire for flexible working in full-time jobs is increasing amongst mums.

I am lucky because I work for a progressive company where the CEO and MD are working mothers.  At Cirkle we offer flexible working to men and women with or without children so we can promote good work/life balance.  And we have been rewarded with an increase in productivity and loyalty.
For many giving up work or changing jobs to suit being a parent is the best option for them and their family.  The problem comes when the choice is taken away and the decision not to return to a career is made due to logistical difficulties or working for an inflexible company, and not because it is what they really want. 

I’m passionate about this because I care about equality in the work place and see first-hand the PR talent that can be wasted because people just can’t make parenthood and a career work.  There are other factors, like affordable childcare.  But for me, flexibility for all (so that the dads can do their fair share) in the PR workplace would be a great step towards the bigger issue of inequality in our boardrooms.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Best times to share on Twitter and Facebook?

Useful infographic from Bitly and Raka on the best times to post on Twitter and Facebook.

(via We are Social). Click for the full infographic.