How to pitch your company to journalists

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When thinking about pitching a story to a journalist there is one thing that you need to keep in mind: their inbox is CRAZY - you think achieving inbox 0 is bad for you? You ain't seen nothing! Don't be the guy that keeps chasing an email.

They are under a lot of pressure AND they are human. As such, they can get upset, annoyed, irritated and overwhelmed. Don't forget that. Think about every sales call you ever had or random email that got your name wrong. Play nice and make them smile!

Always consider if your news is relevant. If it's not and you've done your research - DO NOT PRESS SEND. Now let’s go to the basics of pitching!

Step 1. Do you know this journalist? Yes or no?
If yes, skip to Step 3.

If no, hold up, go to Step 2.

Step 2. Email, email, email!
If you're going to pitch a story, email it first.

Step 3. On a scale of 1-10, how well do you know the journalist?
Anything below a 7 (which we rate as - hung out with beers once) and you can go back to Step 2. Anything above an 8 (we tweet chat a lot) and you can give them a call. If they don't answer got back to step 2.

Email is the preferred way for many journalists to receive pitches. So when you can, stick to email. Our preference is email, Twitter and then text or call. Cold calling is extremely hard, even for the best PR pro's - email means you can send everything they could possibly need for a story, in one go.

Now, how do you structure that email?

  • Snappy subject line - think about the key detail you have, and how you can stand out from the rest of their inbox.
  • Keep the formalities short. Be polite, but don't start sending lots of lines asking them how they are etc. They will skip ahead to your pitch.
  • Bullet points are your friend. Short snappy details that summarise the story, your offer and key facts, make for a winning combination.
  • Establish an embargo or exclusive offer upfront.
  • Make it relatable - if you've done your research, reference why you think they'll find this piece interesting.
  • Make your contact details and any interview offers obvious. 
  • Copy in the press release after your upfront pitch ends.
  • Share a link to an open press kit - pop all your images, logos, bios etc. in here.

What to avoid

  • Overly long emails. The shorter and more concise the better. You don't want them to get bored and give up after the first paragraph. 
  • Attachments. They are evil.
  • Emailing the day before the news goes out. Figure out the best time to contact your key media and try and do it with working days to spare.

What NOT to do

  • Get their name wrong. Seriously!
  • Offering more than one exclusive or accidentally sending them the wrong embargo time! 
  • Do not immediately follow up an email with a phone call. And give them some time to read it! Do not chase the email unless you absolutely have to - give it a day at least.
  • Mention the wrong publication to the wrong journalist - think details! 
  • Be rude. 
  • Do not take offence if they say "not for me", most journalists will happily say why. If they don't, ask them and learn. 
  • DO NOT use Facebook or LinkedIn as channels to pitch them. Twitter is ok - a lot of press use open DMs. 
  • Use attachments - yes, this makes the ‘avoid’ and ‘do not’ lists. 
  • Offer no images. Help make their life easy!

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* This post was originally published in our newsletter The Communications Workshop. Sign up to get more free tips about communications and marketing here!

How to boost relationship with colleagues - especially in a small team

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When working in a small team, you spend a significant amount of time in a close-knit environment, where you all play a substantial role in the quality of your daily work life. The truth is that the state of our relationships with coworkers affects us greatly, in our ability to develop professionally and also in our emotional well-being.

Naturally, it’s in our best interests to form healthy, effective relationships with colleagues, however, this isn’t always a straightforward task. The workplace brings together a mixed bag of people, with different values, experiences, cultures, expectations, age ranges, and personalities –all sources of potential conflict–, so it’s no surprise that disagreements and tensions can arise when dealing with others, especially when working in a small team.

To help you with this we’ve compiled a list of attributes and ways you can boost your relationships with your colleagues.

Communication
Communicate with each other honestly and professionally. Convey your opinions and concerns while listening to each other's points of view. Nobody appreciates a ‘know-it-2all’ attitude. 

Make sure everyone is kept up to date with the latest changes to the business. As it is a small team you don’t want anyone to feel left out of the loop or feel unwanted. Showing initiative is a great thing, but it needs to be used by including others and receiving their support. Remember the art of good communication means listening as much as speaking.

Respect, not fear
Fear and respect follow wherever authority lies. In a small team, the actions of colleagues, particularly those with a leadership position, can result in a work life of anxiousness. Fear breeds anxiety, cynicism, distrust, and intimidation, all of which can be poisonous to any team or organization. These consequences make transparency and honesty nearly impossible, killing any opportunity for communication. If people are too afraid to bring up an issue, there is a clear dysfunction within the organization.

Learn to respect each other. Respect brings greater productivity, loyalty and overall better satisfaction than fear does. It’s reciprocal. If you treat someone respectfully, their opinion of you will improve, too. It is about freedom of expression and the ability to express yourself without fear of reprisal.

Trust
Work to establish a company culture of trust where each team member is viewed as a valued asset. Regularly hold team building activities, encourage group work projects and give praise for efforts and accomplishments. 

Stop gossip and tension before it gets out of control by having a model of open communication. This means sharing news and information and making employees feel like they’re valued and appreciated.

Stay away from micromanagement! It is really a trust issue, it shows a colleague that you do not trust their judgement to get the work done.

When you make a mistake, promptly admit it, and find ways to make amends. When you do not have the answer to questions, or do not know how to approach a project, admit it, you will appear both human and trustworthy.

Acknowledgement
Don’t just only highlight the negatives, highlight the positives! Make sure the team members are credited and given praise when there are achievements. A lack of acknowledgement can leave colleagues feeling ignored, ostracized and/or not feeling like they are an integral part of the company.

Learn to acknowledge and validate the other person's perspective. Once you "see" why others believe what they believe, acknowledge it. Remember: acknowledgement does not always equal agreement. You can accept that people have different opinions from your own and that they may have good reason to hold those opinions.

Empathy
In the workplace, empathy shows a deep respect for co-workers and shows that you care, as opposed to just going by rules and regulations. Empathy is the ability to step into someone else’s shoes, be aware of their feelings and understand their needs. An empathic leadership style can make everyone feel like a team and increase productivity, morale and loyalty. Empathy is a powerful tool in the leadership belt of a well-liked and respected executive.

Have Fun!
Put simply, go out, socialise! Team socialising helps to boost the the morale you have with your coworkers. Try socialising in an environment that isn’t the workspace, to give you a breather and get to know your colleagues in a more relaxed and informal setting and Boost your relationships.

There are many reasons why investing time into building a healthy relationship with colleagues is extremely worthwhile. Good relationships help develop a confident workplace where the environment empowers you to deal comfortably with any potential stressful situations. If you are happier at work, you will be happier outside of work, so the benefits are endless.

BY TOTO OBI, JUNIOR AT CEW COMMUNICATIONS.

How to manage your expectations when dealing with the media

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All great comms, all amazing press coverage, takes time and momentum. For early-stage startups it is important to understand the importance of having realistic expectations when it comes to the media.

When you start talking to journalists, always ask yourself: why would anyone care? If you can't answer that, don't pitch the story. And if you can answer that, is it obvious when you share the story?

The fact that you exist, is not news.  Here are a few tips to get a reality check before contacting the media.

Be realistic
When you think about the sort of press you want to get, figure out the best way for you to measure success internally. 

If you do want a vanity piece - an article that may help your SEO, look great when an investor or potential customer googles you or gives you a lovely publication logo to add to your website - think very carefully about where you want it to be.

Each publication, whether it's TechCrunch, BBC or The Times, will have a very different requirement you'll have to consider when pitching. This is where all that reading and research you've done before comes handy! 

If you want to drive customers - don't set targets based on the volume of coverage you want to get but set targets based on the increase of traffic or downloads you want to see. Measure your Google Analytics. 

Remember to not judge success based only on monthly unique viewers of the website, as viewers do not equal customers. 

When you watch Google Analytics, track just how far those leads go. What is the conversion from article to a customer? That is the rate you want to beat moving forward. It'll also show you where there are problems in your pipeline and you'll need to fix the ones you have control over to make a full conversion.

Going after thought-leadership? Always be writing and/or commenting. You are not a thought-leader until you do.

Whether that's through your own channels or not. Measure your reach - the more you grow your following, the more journalists will consider you. Measure how your own channels grow over time. When you start from 'nothing', it takes a while for you to be considered a 'something'.

When you start figuring out which publications to share stories with, it's a volume game. The more relevant titles you can share that story with, the greater your odds of someone covering you. But it takes time.

If story number one results in one piece of coverage, don't be disheartened. That is a great start, and now you need to find the perfect way to keep the momentum going and find your second story to share.

Keep a running tab of all press mentions, and over time you'll see what sort of stories and which articles work best for you.

Be authentic
Be you. When you start talking to the media, be the best professional version of yourself, that is true to you and your company's brand. People generally respond well to someone who can be honest, have integrity, be real and take accountability.

You only have to see the negative way everyone responds to bad comms teams/people and CEOs of major companies when something goes wrong, to know that common sense is key and the best way forward (Google anything to do with Sean Spicer, Pepsi or United Airlines to understand that....).

If you want to get media attention but want to hide a lot of details....consider NOT getting media attention. It may not be the most helpful marketing channel for doing so!

Remember that journalists are under a lot of pressure. Their inbox is insane. The volume of articles they have to write on a daily basis would make most people have a panic attack. And they have to put up with a lot of things.

The last thing they need is hundreds of startups chasing that email they sent, after the pitch they sent, to see if they're interested in covering you/meeting for coffee/like your app/that funding you had you can't talk about/your pivot etc.

Think about every time you've ever had a sales call or a sales email. How annoying is that?! 

Simple rule - don't be that guy
Be the company that does its research, sends them everything they could possibly need for a story in one email with no attachments, and if you really need to, follow up once.

Don't be upset if they don't get back. Don't get angry if the article isn't the piece of your dreams. You have no say in that. All you can do is be prepared, be helpful, be respectful and think about long-term relationships, not short-term gains.

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* This post was originally published in our newsletter The Communications Workshop. Sign up to get more free tips about communications and marketing here!

The power of understanding your customer

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How much time are you spending understanding your customer?

For early-stage startups, speaking to your customers is critical. One of the big reasons startups fail is because the idea is bad, it's not something a large enough market wants (or no one wants), and a lot of the time this failure comes down to poor research or implementation. 

Spending time with your customers is incredibly valuable at every stage of your business, but at the beginning, it is crucial. Without research, you won't provide the product or service they need and you can wave goodbye to product market fit, let alone conversations with prospective investors or accelerators.

If you don't know your customer, then what the hell have you been doing?! 

Now, if you're smart and have been spending time with your customers, then aside from customer-driven value that will work for your business development and product, the other great gem is customer driven comms! 

Understanding your customers means you need to understand their habits, and one of the habits we all have in common is media consumption. Ask yourself and your team the following questions:

  • Where is your customer spending most of their time online?
  • What apps do they use the most?
  • What's their preferred social network?
  • How many social networks do they use?
  • Which media titles do they read most often and how do they read them?
  • What do they watch on TV?
  • Do they listen to the radio?
  • Are they podcast subscribers?
  • Do they purchase print publications at all?
  • Which influencers do they follow?

Spending time interviewing your customers and asking them questions about their media habits, is a must! 

With comms, we can hypothesise what the average Millennial or Baby-Boomer will use, and create a plan according to assumption. But when you're a small company, if you can investigate and find out more about your customer, then you can invest the time and energy into areas where you have more clarity on the likelihood of success. 

Customer interviews also mean you can test out your product, your key messages, your story and even ideas for news or social campaigns, to see whether it's the sort of thing they'd engage with. 

Find an incentive for your customers to get them involved --vouchers, discounts, profiling, case studies, freebies - get inventive! There's no right answer, but any indication that you're going down a marketing path with a chance of success is a big win for your early strategy. 

Remember: Customer-Driven Value = Customer Driven Comms

So whatever stage of your business, when you're getting feedback, try to think of your comms as well.

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* This post was originally published in our newsletter The Communications Workshop. Sign up to get more free tips about communications and marketing here!

Are we there yet? Evaluating success in early-stage startups

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Success is something we all strive for, but how can we define it on our own terms, especially for early-stage startups? What does early success look like?

There are a few different metrics you can use to determine if your company is growing as you’d hoped and having a sleek PR and Comms strategy can help you get there, as it can assist you in building your brand and raising awareness around it on a larger scale.

This can be beneficial not only from a public relations point of view as the exposure will help you get new partnerships and interest from investors, who find out about new opportunities by following the industry news.

To get started, you should pay attention to your FINANCIAL METRICS:

Burn Rate: This is the negative cash flow of a company. It shows how quickly a startup is spending money. This key metric is essential for determining how much cash the company needs to keep operating and growing.

It’s a great metric to use when trying to increase funds as it signals to existing investors how quickly their teams need to be fundraising and the level of risk the company is facing. It also signals to potential new investors how quickly you need to raise (i.e. you have less leverage if you’re in a rush) and how much cash you’ll need if they fund you.

Gross Margins: Your gross margins measure your operating profitability. Both the level and the trend are important. You should know what kind of gross margin is typical for your industry so you have a sense of where you stack up. Gross margins will tell you how effective your management, sales, and customer teams are at driving the business, what stage of the curve your business is in, what operating levers you can use to drive growth, and how close you are to inflexion points.

Revenue Growth Rate: Measuring revenue alone is not an effective measure for early-stage startups as most early-stage tech startups won’t be making much revenue. But with a revenue growth rate, it measures the month-over-month percentage increase in revenue. It’s one of the most common and important startup metrics as it provides a solid indicator of how quickly your startup is growing.

You should also look carefully at your CUSTOMER METRICS since your customers can be the most important metric to track. Customer happiness, engagement and onboarding are very important to the success of your business.

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): Do you know how much it costs you to attract each customer? That’s what your CAC will show you. It’s a good way to monitor how efficient your sales process and sales team are. If the proportion of spend to impact is not improving over time, you need to make some changes.

Knowing these numbers can tell you a lot about where you are with your value proposition, messaging and conversion pipeline. Seeing potential customers/users not converting will tell you a lot about your business and the needs of your audience. Don’t just listen to your acquired users or customers, listen to those who have told you no, find out why and what you need to improve on. This can be the key to your success!  

Customer Churn Rate: How loyal is your customer base? Your churn rate shows how well you hold onto customers. The absolute value is important, but again, so is the trend. It should descend over time. If it suddenly spikes or plateaus at a high level, you need to figure out why. The numbers will be your guide.

But how does all of this tie-up with your PR and Comms strategy? Well, for one thing analysing these figures is a great way to see if the current strategy you have in place is working, as PR and Comms are the main drivers of strengthening your credibility not only with the media but with the general public too, which can help bring new business to you.

Another metric you should keep your eye on is your social media channels. An increase in followers and/or likes is an important thing to pay attention to. The power lies in the quality of those followers, their relevance to your market, and their willingness to engage and to ultimately buy what you are selling.

Provided you have a good strategy in place, your social following should grow organically over time. For fast growth, consider investing budget into paid social promotion of content. This will boost your reach but comes at a price.

BY TOTO OBI, JUNIOR AT CEW COMMUNICATIONS.

Learn the key hacks for Storytelling

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Storytelling is a key skill, and for early-stage startups, it's vital!

Capturing your audience's attention, whether they're an investor, a future hire or a customer requires you to be able to tell multiple stories, of varying lengths, at any time and in any way! 

Sounds complicated, but, here are some hacks to see what make a good story and test out your own.

READ!
Sounds simple, right?

But really think about what you're reading and start collecting examples of great storytelling.

You can start Google alerts for all your competitors and the key terms associated with what you do. Set them up to be delivered as often as you need them, and start a tracker.

The tracker can note everything from the article title and journalist, to your own short summary of the piece, highlighting the story told.

Think about any stand out learnings from the piece and make a note. What stood out to you

WATCH! 
You may spot a theme here…

Go and watch lots of videos from companies similar, and different, to you. From fun product videos to elevator pitches, get some inspiration and learn what NOT to do, from others. You'll also start to see best practice examples and find a style that suits you.

Do the same again, but specifically look at different lengths of video used on social media, and what makes people engage. A video is the hardest thing to nail, so dedicate some time to thinking about what works for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat etc.

WRITE! 
Got it yet?

Start taking note of any story ideas you have. Have a running document --just brain dump anything you think of, whether it's a headline, slide ideas or the way in which you deliver a pitch in person!

Write down your story. Write down the full version, long-form. Then cut it down to 10 minutes. Then 5. Then 1. Have your different audiences read them --friendly people you know-- and get honest feedback and constructive criticism.

SPEAK!
Start testing your story or pitch to anyone you meet. Make note of what questions they ask, their body language as you speak and again, ask for feedback.

Film yourself doing your pitch or telling your story. Really listen to the delivery and look at your own body language. We often forget how gestures and tone, pausing and volume can play a big part in capturing attention.

Read, watch, write and speak. And the one theme that runs through all of this? Listening.

Listen to stories, and listen to feedback. That in itself is a powerful tool. 

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* This post was originally published in our newsletter The Communications Workshop. Sign up to get more free tips on communications and marketing here!

What to do when you are faced with a PR nightmare

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Facebook was recently the centre of a major PR crisis when the Cambridge Analytica story broke on international media. The revelations about the company’s controversial data security policies were a severe blow to its public image, resulting in the loss of billions of dollars as well as a growing #DeleteFacebook movement.

The company was forced to apologize and ran adverts in several major UK and US newspapers, saying that an investigation was underway.

Even though they differ in magnitude, PR crises are not that uncommon and although we hope you don’t have to deal with a crisis like the one Facebook is managing at the moment, it is important to be prepared in case a serious incident happens at a very short notice.

To help you plan ahead we’ve compiled a list with the main actions you should take when dealing with a PR crisis.

These actions can make the difference between a complete brand meltdown and finding a silver lining in the worst-case scenario to help you successfully conduct media relations in the future.

Understanding the issue: asking the difficult questions, impact and gathering information
What the crisis is and the impact it has on your audience makes a big difference in how you respond. For instance, if there is a data breach and you own the data, you have to let your customers and then the world know. For example, with the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook waited more than two years before it revealed the data harvesting and did not notify the affected users when they first became aware which has now caused public distrust.

When a crisis breaks it is crucial you know the full extent of it. Get all the up-to-date information you have available to fully understand what the situation is and to respond. Gathering information can be difficult during a crisis because a lot can be happening at the same time. Information will be constantly changing and the various interpretations of the situation from the media and the public can cause a lot of confusion. 

Start by getting all the key facts and information from reliable sources. If it's a company issue that hasn't gone public, you need to get ahead of the game and get a response sorted and issued as and when needed.

However, if it's something in the public domain, you need to get information from sources you control and take the conversation offline before making a response. These could include the general media, social media, employees, customers, etc. Having this information allows you to calmly strategise and make smarter decisions. 

If you wrongly assess the situation, the decisions you make can have a detrimental impact on the company. Remember: responding with a lack of knowledge can lead to public scrutiny.

Get organised
If you aren’t organized when times are calm, you will completely lose your mind in a crisis. You'll need to get organised as you’ll be required to juggle different tasks with varying degrees of priority, along with multiple stakeholders and the media.

Make a plan and move forward in the eye of a communications storm. Create a social media plan to keep the public up to date on any information regarding the crisis. You should organise this plan with your team to decide who should lead the response and what stance the company should take.

Also, there should be a mix of internal comms and external comms in a crisis. You need the company to be on message internally to employees so that they stay on message to the wider world - this limits any further leakages or misconstrued information.

Know how to handle criticism
When managing a PR crisis, you will need to know how to handle criticism and inform the parties affected to keep calm and address the issues effectively whilst maintaining a dignified composure and keeping your tone intact. This skill can be a challenge to master but is indispensable, especially when it comes to reputation management.

Be quick!
Speed is key. It is crucial to acknowledge the crisis situation immediately and react within an appropriate time. You may not have all of the details for days or even weeks, but a prompt announcement to the public and the media can minimize speculation and rumour and puts you in control.

Be transparent  
Try to be as transparent as possible! Make sure you are communicating with the public and keeping them up to date. We’ve all seen how lies can destroy or reputably damage companies and organizations. For example, the Oxfam Haiti allegations which exposed the company for its sexual misconduct. This case presents an important lesson in PR, which is to be upfront and take responsibility for what’s happened.

A crisis can be both owned or the result of an impact from an external source. As Facebook is facing their own crisis, other companies that are linked can be affected. For example, if you are using logins from Facebook, Instagram, Google, etc to create user accounts for your site, think about how you and your data can be affected. 

Take a look at your privacy policy, cookie and personal identifiable information use and storage, and terms and conditions of use of your site. You will want to make sure that whatever default options you chose at the start are still relevant, and still align with your company’s values. Make sure the public is aware of the actions you are taking or planning to take.

Always tell the truth, never engage in cover-up, deceit, or unethical behaviour of any kind and remember that bad behaviour will always find its way to the headlines. Again, what you choose to share is critical, but it must always be the truth. You should never assume, make blanket statements, or point the finger of blame. 


BY TOTO OBI, JUNIOR AT CEW COMMUNICATIONS.

How to Prevent and Cope with Burnout

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Burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion that can be caused by a variety of reasons. Comms people are no strangers to this feeling, we’re usually under a lot of pressure, having to manage crises, meet tight deadlines and, sometimes, work around the clock. The media never sleeps, and neither do we…(not quite, but you get the idea).

Common contributing factors include overwhelming job demand, role ambiguity, and a lack of social support that can leave employees feeling ignored, ostracized and/or not feeling like an integral part of the company.

No manager, co-founder, or CEO wants to lose any of their best talent to burnout, and most of the time they don’t even know that their employee is burned out until it is too late.

With this in mind we’ve compiled some useful tips to prevent and recover from a burnout.

1. Exercise

Regular exercise can make you feel refreshed and energised. Even though it may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re burned out, exercise is a powerful antidote to stress. The endorphins released when exercising will trigger positive feelings within the body to help boost your mood, and it’s a great way to clear built up adrenaline (which we get a lovely serving off every time there is a minor panic!)

2. Re-evaluate your priorities

Burnout is an obvious sign that something important in your life is either missing or not going the way you want it to. Take time to think about what matters most to you, go through your hopes, goals, and ambitions. Are you neglecting something or someone that is truly important to you?

A burnout can be an opportunity to rediscover what really makes you happy and slow you down to give you time to rest, reflect, and recover. In this time, set boundaries. Don’t overextend yourself. Learn how to say “no” to requests on your time. If you find this difficult, remind yourself that saying “no” allows you to say “yes” to the things that truly matter to you. Make your priorities known to those around you, so that they can support you and ensure they are helping to manage your time to focus on the good things.

3. Diet

Support your mood and energy levels by having a healthy diet. As they say, “you are what you eat”, so what you put in your body can have a huge impact on your mood and energy levels throughout the day. Minimize sugar, caffeine and refined carbs, you may crave sugary snacks or comfort foods but these high-carbohydrate/sugar foods quickly lead to a crash in you mood and energy.

Eat more Omega-3, fish oil reduces body fat and stimulates the use of fatty acids for the production of energy to give your mood a boost. The best sources are fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines, seaweed, flaxseed, and walnuts.

Avoid nicotine. Smoking when you're feeling stressed may seem calming, but nicotine is a powerful stimulant, leading to higher, not lower, levels of anxiety.

Drink alcohol in moderation. Alcohol temporarily reduces worry, but too much can cause anxiety as it wears off. Hard to avoid when you may need to regularly take part in or run events - our Founders tip “grab a soda and lime and no one needs to know it’s not a gin and tonic”.

4. Explore hobbies and interests

Nourish your creative side, creativity is a powerful antidote to burnout. Try something new, start a fun project, or resume a favourite hobby.  

Encourage yourself to find a hobby that has little or no relation to your profession and pursue it with passion! A hobby that uses an entirely different set of skills can provide your heart and mind with a satisfying break from the weekly work grind and set you on a good path for increased productivity.

5. Socialize or Retreat

Socialising can be beneficial to most people, as it takes you away from the work environment and gives you something else to focus on. Although socialising can seem like an exhausting task when you’re burned out, for most it can be a positive stimulus. However, for those who are introverted or just prefer having time and space to themselves, socialisation can be exhausting, so if this is you, it’s best to retreat and get some isolation in order to recharge your battery. The trick? If it feels like you’re forcing it, it’s a sign you don’t want to do it. Listen to your inner voice and do you.

6. Don’t eat lunch at your desk.

Taking your lunch break in another area or outside, for example, at a break space or a nearby restaurant sets you up to finish the week out strong. You can go alone to get physically and psychologically away from the office, or, if you see a co-worker who is about to hit the wall, taking them out to socialise can be beneficial for both of you.

7. Rest

Take a daily break from technology. Set a time each day when you can completely disconnect from everything. Put away your laptop, turn off your phone, and stop checking email.

Also, make sure that you are getting enough rest.  According to The Sleep Council UK, it is recommended that you give yourself 7-9 hours of sleep a day for sufficient rest.

8. Talk to someone

Start by having a conversation with people you feel comfortable speaking with and can trust. Try talking with your superiors, assuming you are comfortable and trust him or her. If you can’t talk to your superiors, try talking to friends, family, your significant other, or a healthcare professional. Don’t just wing it, you should prepare for this conversation–after all, it’s an important one. There are people who can and want to help you, but you need to reach out. A problem shared is better than one just in your head, talking with people, especially those at work can help in implementing change in your work environment to solve the issues that cause burnout.

9. Time off

If you feel that the effects of a burnout are present or if it seems inevitable, try to take a complete break from work. Go on vacation, use up your holiday allowance days or ask for a temporary leave-of-absence or mental health day—anything to remove yourself from the situation. Use the time away to recharge your batteries and pursue the other burnout recovery steps.

Remember, your health should always come first! Whether physical or mental, always make sure you are taking care of yourself.

If you have any tips that you think are useful for burnout or to let us know what works for you, hit us up on our Twitter!

BY TOTO OBI, JUNIOR AT CEW COMMUNICATIONS.

Social Media: a no-fluff guide

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Like it or loathe it, social media remains a key part of marketing and having a solid understanding of each channel and what content goes where, is crucial to increasing engagement and getting your startup noticed.

Why? Well with over a billion people worldwide using more than one form of social media, your customer is within easy reach...if you can just nail the content.

So let’s start with the basics.

How do you get followers on each channel?
In terms of followers, you might begin with 0, but getting a few followers on your channel isn’t that difficult. Just start following people that interest you. More importantly, start following relevant people that could be interested in you.

If you’re a food startup and you only follow astronauts, you’re reducing the likelihood of users following you back...why would they? (Unless, they REALLY love food porn).

But if you’re following users that are interested in nutrition, diets, fitness and other health-oriented topics, you’re providing a much higher incentive that they will follow back. It’s all about knowing your audience.

Remember, friends, family and your network, while not your target audience, are a great booster in getting some initial followers.

How do you manage creating content?
Save a bit of time each week to ‘think social’ and maybe create a Slack channel or email thread where your team can share ideas. Apply the 70:30 rule. 70% of the time you share content relevant to your target customer, and 30% you sell.

But that content, doesn’t have to be your own. Share articles, gifs, images and borrow content. Find it and schedule it. Get your team involved in finding the content.

How do you schedule it and save some time?
Get Buffer. It’s a really helpful social media management tool you can easily download for free. The biggest asset with Buffer is that you can schedule posts in advance, across channels, saving you a huge amount of time. As a rule of thumb with scheduling posts, if you’re building a company with an international audience, your social shouldn’t be ‘off’, because someone somewhere will be awake.

Experiment with timings and time analytics, which will show when is a good time to post. If you don’t know where to start, just try between 8-9am, lunch 12-1pm, late afternoon 5-6pm, late evening 10-12am and early morning 4-6am.

Now that you’ve got the basics covered, you should think about which type of posts belong to what channel and when you should be posting. Here are a few pointers we’d like to share!

Twitter

  • Type of Post: Twitter posts should be interesting, funny, topical, strange, novel or anything in between. Make sure to add pictures/gifs/videos to your content in order to attract eyes and make your content stand out.
  • When to Post: Aim for 4-6 times a day (at least) and spread posts out to maximise exposure.
  • Tips: Don’t forget to @ users and use relevant hashtags to jump on trends, but don’t use more than three. Putting a full stop before the @ sign (.@) if you want all your followers to see it. Otherwise it won’t be on your main feed.

Facebook

  • Type of Post: Facebook content should be engaging, informative and interesting. More ‘serious’ than on Twitter. This means less GIFs and more articles.
  • When to Post: 1-2 posts a day, and more than four hours apart. While on Twitter you can post frequently throughout the day, posting frequently on Facebook can mess with its algorithms.
  • Tips: Choose pieces about issues that have a direct impact in your industry. This will keep your audience engaged. If using video, grab their attention in the first 5 seconds and use text, sounds aren’t automatic.

Instagram

  • Type of Post: A lot of Instagram content consists of beautiful, artsy photos that are aesthetically easy on the eye. Follow this route. But Instagram Stories enable you to get super creative and talk to your audience. It's only up for 24 hours, so experiment and see what drives engagement!
  • When to Post: As a rough idea, major brands upload 1-2 posts a day.
  • Tips: Ask yourself, is this the kind of content I like to look at? And... what kind of content would my audience like to look at? Also, #s are your best friend. We recommend going for around 12-20. If you’re feeling extra organised draft your #s in advance to save time.

LinkedIn

  • Type of Post: LinkedIn is the most professional channel and should be taken the most seriously. Funny memes may not be as effective here. Instead, use content that is directly useful to your target audience. Avoid being salesy and start producing content that adds credibility to your business.
  • When to Post: On average, 1 post per day.
  • Tips: Additionally, like all other social media channels, use visual aids such as images and videos to attract eyes and increase user engagement.

We hope this is of use and remember to always experiment and trial and test what works best for you. Sign up to new social media apps early on and have a play! 

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* This post was originally published in our newsletter The Communications Workshop. Sign up to get more free tips about communications and marketing here!

The Startup Guide to Creative Thinking: Top Creative Tips

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Want to unlock the creative potential for your business? We’ve compiled a list of the top tips from our event on creative thinking, hosted here in London. We brought together expert creatives and directors of various specialist agencies to discuss how startups could address the issue of thinking creatively amongst their teams.

Over the course of the panel we delved deeper into how you can develop new, more creative ways of thinking, provide a space for non-creatives to open up their minds and share their ideas, and where startups can easily test out concepts and have a chance of winning, against larger brands.

1. Don’t Shy Away from Creativity

Anushka Sharma, our panel host and Founder of Naaut, raised the point that throughout her career she never realised how creative she was and it was only when she became a founder that she started to become aware of her creative potential. Everyone has the potential to be creative, so don’t feel like you are missing out on that natural spark.

2. Think About the Formula

Prisca Moyesa, Founder of Moyesa & Co, suggested that if you  want to develop your creative thinking, watch your favourite movies and look at the formula they go by. Then consider, “how can I create my own formula and style relevant within a business context?”. This is one way to get your creative juices flowing, whilst having an excuse to binge watch your favourite films!

3. Put your True Voice Out There

Charlotte Hamill, Joint Managing Director of Born Social, said that when it comes to your company or personal brand you can and should be bold. She highlighted the need of “injecting a punchier voice...having a stronger opinion and not going in with dry corporate spiel that you think you have to say”. To gain attention, this is likely to be more successful than just following everyone else. Don’t be afraid to be yourself and go for what you want, rather than what you think people will like. “Don’t think necessarily wacky...but ballsy there's room for”.

4. Cultivate A Creative Space

Charlotte also said “good ideas come from everywhere. Create an environment that is open and supportive of ideas...There is no such thing as a bad idea”

She emphasised the importance of making a space for inspiration and creativity. Creative talk is one of the best methods for boosting your businesses creativity and it's important to be original. By cultivating your own space, you can avoid the temptation to copy others.

One of the best way to get your creative process flowing is to “look at bad content”. This will, at the very least, give you an idea of what not to do when brainstorming.

5. People, Collaboration and Culture

When it comes to the creative process, Arjun Singh, Founder of ULTD_INC, said, “thinking in a silo is really frustrating, which is why I think creative teams exist, and why people are put together with different types of people”. Arjun went on to say that collaboration can help stir your creative process.

Prisca also emphasised the importance of collaborating and suggested reaching out to others providing value to your audience and asking for help on social. For example, if you’re a travel startup, and none of your team are travelling, reach out to travel bloggers and ask them to post on your behalf. It’s this type of creative thinking that will help your business grow.

She also highlighted to importance of understanding other cultures: “Immerse yourself in the world - I’m obsessed with different cultures and languages. When I meet someone, I try to understand their culture, language, tones and sounds... You’ll see the world from a different perspective, and it opens up creativity”.

6. Be Bold, Be an Expert

Ryan Murphy, VP Creative Director of VaynerMedia mentioned that creativity is linked to “being authentic, passionate and not being afraid to put your ideas out there...Take risks! You have less to lose and more to win". As a startup you can afford to be bold in the beginning!

He added that “having a deep expertise in some area helps you relate to people who are experts in their area,” underlining the importance of knowledge and empathy in the creative process. He went on to say that his own experience led him to be more compassionate with others. This is a powerful way to stir up the creative process: connecting with people through expertise and compassion.

7. Look for Feedback

Ryan also mentioned that startups should “find conversations that are related to their brand on social media, join them, build a following and look for feedback”. You can then judge which ideas are creative based on people’s reactions and start to shape your own services to what excites and interests them.

For example, he gave an interesting case in which VaynerMedia helped with the marketing of the fast-food company, Sonic Drive-in, where they simply marketed the ice used in their soft drinks, as ‘the best ice’. At first glance, this idea doesn’t seem very exciting or creative, but it garnered huge levels of engagement on social media from people who wanted to share their opinion on the ice, both positive and negative.

This goes to show that even if you don’t think your idea is creative, by simply putting it out there, you will know if other people think it is.

8. Be Different

Charlotte mentioned how the watch brand, Festina, used data to create an interesting, original package. They saw that most watch packaging was very similar and decided to package their watch in water, to showcase its waterproof quality. This is one example of how gathering data from your competitors, can inspire the creative process.

Arjun Singh also spoke of a creative marketing campaign he did with Monese, a company building the world's most inclusive banking service. To coincide with the launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy, he helped launch the world’s first ‘interplanetary banking service’. Users could register their interest, and in the process Monese highlighted its inclusive approach with the first Martian service. They even tweeted Elon Musk to get extra attention and all-in-all, the marketing campaign cost nothing. You don’t need to be like your competitors to succeed, forge your own path and don’t be afraid to think differently.   

9. Use Data for Creative Insight

“Dig into the data, and find those insights,” was another great tip from Arjun. Seemingly un-creative and technical, data is in fact, very important in providing useful insight and validating your creative theories. Don’t neglect customer insight.

Arjun spoke of customers who reported feeling “joyful” when eating Cadbury’s chocolate. This insight, alongside other customer data, led to the famous Gorilla advert, which is widely known within the marketing and advertising industry. Startups can use the same mindset for their own insight.

10. Stay ahead of the pack

Lastly, Ryan pointed out that if you want to think more creatively then you have to stay ahead of the pack.

This means downloading the newest apps relevant to your business and using them. Not only was he referring to new social apps such as Vero, but also using Instagram/Facebook live more, and trying out all the new products that are developed within the current social media networks.

“It’s important to adopt new functionality on platforms - play with them nice and early. Don’t be afraid of the stuff you don’t know how to do yet”, said Ryan.

If you would like a complete re-cap of the event, head to our Facebook page @CEWComms to see the full Facebook Live video.

BY BEN BROWN, ACCOUNT & GROWTH EXECUTIVE AT CEW COMMUNICATIONS.