Marc has worked in online and offline media for over a quarter of a century. He's worked in advertising, editorial, production and photographic departments and has extensive experience in digital marketing, with certifications from Facebook, Google and Hubspot
Chit Chat has an exciting announcement and we wanted you to be amongst the first to hear it.
Marc has recently qualified as a drone pilot, and so we can now offer aerial photography and Ultra HD filming to our customers as part of our already comprehensive range of services.
At the weekend, Marc travelled to Berwick to take the final part of his examination and gained his ‘certificate of pilot competency’, and is currently awaiting his permission from the Civil Aviation Authority to operate commercially.
You’ve probably heard a lot about drones recently, and they’re big news. Sales have soared (if you pardon the pun), but it means anyone can walk in off the street and fly one without any knowledge of the law, consideration for neighbours and important safety issues.
Safety is number one
And while it may sound grandiose to be talking about being a ‘pilot’, it’s a very serious business to be up in the sky where safety is an absolute priority. The education received and the tools we use are the very same ones used by pilots of manned civilian and military aircraft.
We have been through rigorous training by ex-RAF pilots to learn about the weather, airspace, health, airmanship, safety and legislation so we can operate a safe, compliant service.
Did you know?
Did you know that it’s illegal to fly a drone over a large crowd, or within 50m of a person? Did you know that the sky is full of restricted areas, danger zones and unseen hazards? Did you also know that is illegal for a company to pay someone for photography and film from a drone operator who doesn’t have permission from the CAA?
Our qualification comes after months of practice, paperwork and testing, and we handle safety, regulations and getting permissions.
And now we’re ready for take-off.
So what can YOU use a drone for? Aerial imagery offers a new dimension to media and marketing campaigns. Stills offer an insight into your business that ordinary pictures can’t capture. Filming from above makes your videos more engaging and interesting.
Your press releases, marketing materials and website can all benefit from head-turning shots from this new angle.
Not only do we have the ability to take pictures at high resolution and film in Ultra HD, but Marc is also an experienced press and PR photographer and the drone offers an extension to what we already do for our customers. We can provide drone footage as part of a promotional video for example.
We already take great pictures. Now we can take great pictures from the air too.
So if you’d like to book a flight with Chit Chat, email firstname.lastname@example.org and rise above your competition.
The PR business is very much the ideas business. Aside from the day-to-day publicity and marketing needs of a business, our clients employ us to come up with ideas for campaigns.
That’s the fun part. And recently we found ourselves ‘down on the farm’ making a video for local butcher Macbeth’s.
Owner Jock Gibson tweets about his haggis hunting escapades every year between Christmas and Burns Night, and we wanted to ramp up the publicity he gets for this and to highlight the quality haggis products he sells in his shop and website.
So we storyboarded and shot a two-minute video on his farm at Edinvale where he ‘famously’ hunts the wee beasties. Jock showed us his hunting ground and carefully explained the habitat and movements of the wild haggis.
So we filmed Jock collecting his tools and heading for the hills, setting and baiting a trap with single malt whisky, then peering through the rushes before wrestling a writhing haggis into submission. He also stalks and shoots a runaway haggis after sighting one in his binoculars.
Of course, this was all tongue-in-cheek, and we wanted to play on the pseudo-seriousness that haggis hunting carries with it.
We knew it would be popular, and were pleasantly surprised when the video reached nearly half a million people in a week.
Having a great reach doesn’t mean it was engaging, so we made sure we published the video to a targeted demographic we knew would be likely to respond, and they did, increasing on-page activity by more than 17,000%. That’s 170 times the page activity the butcher would normally get in a week on Facebook, with more than 4,000 shares. It’s the activity of sharing that causes posts to go viral – combine shareability with reach, pick a channel that has high reach-to-engagement factor such as video, and you have a winning combination.
As an added bonus, the business acquired nearly 500 new ‘fans’ on its page, a metric, we’ll often cite as redundant, but when it representents a 20% increase in one week, it’s worth noting the brand value of a sudden massive jump, and act on it.
Strategically, we staggered publicity to keep the interest going, so as well as social media, we used the company blog, online news sites and print media to keep the interest alive.
What was most interesting was how the demographic really bought into the haggis hunting vibe.
Haggis hunters unite
Many commented with their own tales of haggis hunting, comparing species, techniques and offering advice.
Somebody even posted a diagram of a haggis which showed how a haggis would run around Ben Nevis. And a primary school in Edinburgh posted a picture of a class art project, where the kids had coincidentally created a ‘How to Catch a Haggis’ guide.
Others tagged their friends, remonstrating that they ‘told them the haggis was real’
Orkney haggis hunters chimed in to say they used the exact same techniques but with a local whisky.
Engagement came from all over the world from Tennessee, Texas, Russia, Dubai, Germany and many more far-flung locations.
All done in-house
From a campaign point of view, it has created increased brand awareness for the butcher, increased sales of haggis, and generated traction online and data that can be used in future campaigns.
From a production angle, it’s a service we provided in-house from beginning to end, brainstorming the idea, scripting, filming, editing, advertising, writing the blog and press releases and following up on interviews. That saves time and money for the client and creates a bond between all aspects of the campaign, leaving less room for slack.
Our very own PR guru is at the centre of her own ‘breaking news’ story this week after snapping her Achilles tendon.
For Chit Chat PR & Digital director Claire, who is normally pounding the streets GETTING the stories, the boot is now on the other foot!
And so it will be for about eight weeks since her left leg is now in plaster up to her knee after the incident during a badminton game.
However, not one to miss an opportunity and always thinking PR, Claire had the doctors at A&E make up her stookie in corporate colours.
Claire said: “We specialise in crisis management at Chit Chat PR and this for me is a bit of a headache, however always looking for an opportunity to make the best of a situation, I decided to get my cast done in the Chit Chat colours of blue and orange. I’m always on the lookout for ideas for publicity for our clients, this time, I used our skills for our business.”
Neither was she going to let it get in the way of her workload. Eager to get back on the streets, albeit with a little less pounding, Claire met her diary commitments without batting an eyelid.
She added: “Joking aside, our clients are obviously very important to us, we don’t want to leave them in limb-o, so with a few tweaks to the diary we will make sure our customers are still well looked after.”
Even their head of marketing said it didn’t. She predicted the backlash and said she wasn’t worried. Adding that it’s ‘bold’ and ‘something that looks forward’.
Apparently it is supposed to usher in the digital age.
Ah! That’s it. It’s not Roman numerals at all. It appears to be binary. Yes, 11 in binary equals three in decimal. And an exclamation mark because BBC3 is so rad.
Very clever. But like a joke that needs explaining it’s a bit too obtuse, even for the bright 16–34-year-olds the channel is aimed at. And quite frankly, anyone ushering in a digital age for that age group in 2016 is a tad late.
Very symbolic, but not very friendly unless of course you count in ones and zeros. But then it is supposed to be bold, so let’s just call it ‘The Channel Previously Known As BBC Three’.
At Chit Chat, it’s safe to say that a lot of our work involves social media. But that doesn’t mean our work revolves around it. There are a lot of extremely important things to get right in digital marketing, and ergo a lot of things to get wrong.
But there’s no doubt it has grasped everybody where it matters and you’ll have to have lived under a rock for a considerable time for it not to have touched your life, business or personal, in one way or another, even if you were once one of those conscientious objectors we come across from time to time.
Many people start their social media journey at a group workshop, and these are great places to see the whole gamut of opportunity that it offers. Generally you will learn the fundamentals of how social networks work, sharing, engaging, starting conversations, trending topics and getting people to like you. Brill. They’re often free or relatively cheap.
We don’t do workshops at Chit Chat, we work on a one-to-one basis with clients to develop a content marketing strategy that revolves around the unique selling points of each individual business. We get close to your business models and goals, and then help you create content that your audience responds to. You can’t do that in a workshop.
Most new clients come with pre-conceived ideas about what content marketing is, and what social media can do for them.
Content marketing is not blogging, and digital marketing is not just tweeting and Facebook.
Workshops can be exciting. There’s so much to take in. It’s like a fairground with lots of rides, fun and excitement.
It all feels great, but once you’ve got off the twister and chucked all your balls at the coconuts, it’s time to get back to normality. Your business.
However in the cold light of day, the buzz has gone and your balloon has gone all wrinkly. And quite frankly you still need help to turn engagement into business.
Moving up a gear
Workshops only take you so far, and if the reality leaves you with more questions than answers, it’s time for some one-to-one.
The hype that surrounds social media makes it sound easy. It’s not. It’s a small part of an overall marketing campaign, consisting of value, content and reach, and workshop trainers should be clearer about that, because judging by the people we get through our doors, businesses are focussing far too much on social ‘in a silo’.
We see clients at all levels of ability, some really savvy, but we start with a blank piece of paper, and work out a complete marketing and publicity plan, nearly always using social media, but never exclusively, and often there’s a lot of work to be done before getting to the ‘social’.
We use the piece of paper because it allows us to start at the point that fits the client best. It isn’t totally blank, it has some very poignant questions, and we get you to fill in the blanks. It’s not a test, but it’s amazing how much clarity it brings to expectations and results.
We know that’s what your business needs. And because we charge you for our advice, we make sure you get advice that works.
Looking at the analytics of a client recently, we did a year-on-year comparison with the same period 12 months ago to see how traffic had improved.
Bearing in mind that, rolling back a year, we weren’t known to our client, and in fact, Chit Chat didn’t even exist. Our client had a website which they knew wasn’t performing well.
We’re not talking about a website they’d built themselves, or through an online site builder, this was a professionally designed website with a bill to match.
However, the client wasn’t happy with it. Not least for the fact that it wasn’t generating any enquiries, but there was no clear call-to-action, the pages didn’t hold sufficient information, and you had to visit several pages before finding anything worth reading.
Jumpstarting the website
We weren’t impressed either! When the company engaged us, we set about redesigning their website, but more importantly, we set about generating visibility through search engines, traffic through marketing campaigns and conversions through enquiry forms.
The results were astounding. As you can see from the chart, we have produced more than a ten-fold increase in visits and an eight-fold increase in users.
As you can imagine the client is delighted, but all that traffic is worthless without enquiries, but we’re pleased to add that enquiries are also up from zero a year ago. Given that each enquiry is for a product and service worth between £5000 and £20,000, and potentially more, getting around ten enquiries a month directly through the website has been a great boost for the company.
Looking closer at the data reveals that pages per session is substantially down. As a statistic, this is flagged as a drop against last year’s figures, and marked in red as a result.
Interpreting the numbers
Remember that I said you had to visit several pages to find anything worth reading. Well, we fixed that by writing relevant copy and placing it on appropriate pages. That means you find the information you need quicker. There’s no value in having a higher pages per session statistic if it’s a result of people fishing around to find something. In our mind, the drop in this stat was a positive.
Had there been no enquiries, it would have been impossible to justify the drop as an improvement, but given that enquiries were and are rolling in week-by-week, it is a clear indicator that the process of informing people and calling them to action was working.
More importantly it demonstrates as a whole that websites are the tool that generates the enquiry, but it is equally important to send people to the website that are likely to enquire. We did that by prequalifying traffic through search and social media.
So if you’d like an upturn in traffic that converts, get in touch with us. We can’t guarantee that it will be ten-fold, but if it’s more, we’ll write about you too.
I recently attended the Turing Festival in Edinburgh. It was an eclectic collection of some of the world’s best speakers on digital marketing.
I left with many words of wisdom buzzing around in my head, but one comment that stayed with me were the words of Cyrus Shepard.
‘Sometimes, PR people are better at SEO than SEOs’
Cyrus is director of audience development at Moz, the world’s leading and best known resource for search engine optimisation (SEO) professionals, and he spoke at the festival on ‘optimisation for humans’ and it was a pleasure and an inspiration to hear him speak on stage.
I’d tend to agree with him – we’ve propelled some of our clients to number one rankings just by building them a website using good content. We don’t ‘SEO’ a site as a separate process, it’s just part of what we call our ‘ecosystem’ approach.
Let’s look at Mr Shepard’s words in a little more detail.
As an industry, PR is a lot older than SEO, so if the former are so good at it, why did such a demand develop for SEO?
Well the two haven’t always been so closely interchangeable. In the early days, search engines ranked pages largely based on keywords, and in this ‘stone age’ of the Internet, there was a crude formula of keyword quantity and placement that worked, but back then we didn’t have the luxury of content management systems, and the task would be handled by someone who knew the ‘dark art’ of coding.
Website copy was simply rewritten to multiply the number of keywords in it to have maximum effect, and I use the term ‘rewritten’ very loosely. When a writer talks about rewriting, we usually mean ‘making it better’, and this early SEO often destroyed the meaning of sentences and paid little heed to the rules of language, sentence construction or grammar.
Eloquence was not high on the list of priorities if it stood in the way of a good Alta Vista ranking (yes, we’re talking pre-Google here!).
There also existed a legitimate place where keywords could literally be stuffed into a page to tell the search engines what the page was about. It seems ridiculous now that a page could not rank for its own merit without a label, but to be fair, it was all new to everybody back then.
Google shook up SEO
When Google came along it shook up the search engine world by introducing an algorithm that measured a page’s popularity by the number of links it had to it.
But it wasn’t long before the tricksters learnt to abuse that system too.
I won’t bore you with a history of search engine optimisation – that would be duplicating good content widely available elsewhere – but needless to say it has evolved to a stage where abuse is getting penalised and results are getting more relevant.
It’s changed from being a technical job to a creative one; writers have replaced coders and content is created for users not the search engines.
No longer are words stuffed into a page to make it attractive to search engines, in fact, as I often remark, the more humans try to work out search engines, the more search engines try to mimic human search behaviour.
Which is where Shepard’s next sound bite also rings true for PR.
‘‘The future of SEO is all about the user’
He explained how Google particularly is turning its attention to studying interactions with website content rather than just measuring keywords and backlinks. This is the fundamental way that search engines are changing. To be able to deliver a good set of results, search engines need to know not just that the result is relevant, but that the content is consumable.
If an article isn’t enjoyable, useful or valuable the user will bounce. If it is, the user will interact with it, by either clicking further through into the site or taking some other action.
And this is where PR comes in, because copy written by a writer has always been written for humans. For people to read.
As a PR company, we always write for users, and as a digital company, we also know how people consume copy on the web. That means we can write for a target audience, and then put it front of the people who are searching for it, or better still, create search traffic for your unique content – that’s the power of PR.
SEO and PR ‘blending’
In the film ‘Blended’ the two main characters who despise each other end up on a blind date in a foreign country. The ironic analogy with PR and SEO is as humorous as the film. They just can’t get away from each other, yet find themselves increasingly drawn. A love-hate relationship which would not have survived had they had an opportunity to disperse.
Both industries have a responsibility to meet a business demand, and they are much more aligned now than ever before – good PR companies are recognising the need and value of providing articles that will help their clients online as well as in traditional print media, and SEO companies are now employing journalists and writers , recognising that change has come and their job function has become functional instead of formulaic.
Samuel Scott, who wrote on the Moz blog last last year (2014):
“SEO as an entity unto itself is quickly dying. The more SEO entails, the more the umbrella term becomes useless in any meaningful context. For this reason, it is crucial that digital marketers learn as much as possible about traditional marketing and PR.”
Not all PR companies are fully conversant with search, neither are many SEO companies up to speed with writing, but the trend is turning, and one day SEOs might be better at SEO than PRs. Or they’ll just ‘blend’.
Chit Chat and Canary Dwarf have taken on the deal from Capita who supported the Soccer Sevens for three years.
Local PR and digital expertise
Shaun Moat, Chairman of the Soccer Sevens said: “We are really pleased to be working with Claire and Marc. To have the expertise of a local PR and digital marketing company is really great for the club and will help us make the club bigger and better.
“As Chairman of the club, with the help of vice chairman Kev Skivington we have been working in the background setting up this sponsorship deal. It’s great to have a local company that is already embedded in the community on board. Claire and Marc have already been a huge help and are getting really involved in the club. They are currently helping us to design a new website. It’s great to have them as part of the team.”
Claire added that the decision to take up the sponsorship with the club was a no brainer for her and Marc.
Claire said: “Since launching the business in February we have been looking for an opportunity which will benefit the local community we are situated in, but that will also help promote our own brand – after all that’s the business we are in. The deal with the Forres Area Soccer Sevens ticks both boxes. We are delighted to be working with the team of volunteers who make sure the training and matches go ahead throughout the season week in week out.”
The new session got underway on Sunday and will run every week until October. The club is run purely by volunteers but as Shaun explained they are looking for some new helpers.
“At the moment we need a treasurer and also some people to help with the Development 4s which is about getting children aged four and five just playing football. During the sessions, the children are split into small groups and play three or four drills before ending their hour session with small 4-aside games of football. The volunteers don’t need to have an experience just the desire to help and the commitment.”
Shaun added: “We are halfway through the session now and looking ahead to next year. The challenge we have is to renew or source nine new sponsors. We are currently putting together some appealing sponsorship packages.”
We all saw David Beckham steal the limelight in the Wimbledon Doubles Semi-Final yesterday. He was in the right place at the right time when the bright yellow ball came pinging out of the court and into his personal space.
Without a hair moving out of place he reached out and did what Maradona never could have got away with.. he caught the ball.
You had to see it to believe it, so if you didn’t, here’s the replay.
Don’t drop the ball
‘Don’t drop the ball’ is a phrase we use when impressing on our clients the importance of grabbing an opportunity and making the most of it.
It’s a phrase that comes from ball games where play stops if a player dropped the ball, and although your business is not a game, you definitely don’t want play to stop.
People often think PR is about covering up bad stuff, but it’s equally, in fact more often, about amplifying the good. That’s what we call ‘picking up the ball and running with it’.
It’s a great analogy for business and whether you employ a PR agency or not, it’s good advice to highlight things that improve your reputation, whether it’s helping customers, innovative new ideas, employing staff etc.
Most of our clients employ us on a retainer basis because this is a perfect way for us to be playing ‘keepy-uppy’ on your behalf. Not dropping that ball.
We become part of your team. We look for those opportunities and boy do we run with them.