20 February 2017

HIT Scotland #EmergingTalent Conference

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be able to attend the HIT Scotland Emerging Talent at the lovely Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow. It was a really inspiring day with a host of fantastic speakers. I was ALSO lucky enough to be awarded one of the HIT Scholarships - with a specialism in Social Media. I'll find out more about what it entails in the next couple of weeks and I'm really looking forward to finding our more about it. I already have a lots of experience using social media as a community and marketing tool, but as the landscape is always changing I'd like to learn about all of the latest developments from the experts and learn how to use them in my day to day job at New Lanark - and as the (no official title) marketing / social media / promo person for Lanark Amateur Musical Society which I do in my spare time as well as dancing about on stage. 

Below I'm going to share some of the most inspirational quotes I heard from the speakers during the day...

David Cochrane - HIT Scotland Chief Executive "One thing you can't take away from Scottish tourism is the people"

Fraser Doherty MBE "A good idea doesn't have to reinvent the wheel"

Helen Vass "If you don't ask you don't get"

Rojan Kumar "If you don't try you'll never know"

Bill McFarlane "what we think about, we bring about"

Bruce Walker "Who made the rules and what are they? Why not break them?"

My certificate - yay!

Thanks for reading! I'll br writing another blog once I've completed my Social Media HIT Schoralship so you'll find out what it's all about.


16 January 2017

Getting to grips with Online Video Marketing

At a recent ETAG Conference I heard a very interesting prediction that by 2018, 80% of the world's internet traffic will be video consumption...(I sometimes feel like 2008 was two seconds ago, so it was a shock for me to realise that this prediction is talking about next year!). This prediction is also mirrored in a Cisco study published in 2015 which also states that by 2020 there will be 4.1 Billion global internet users with 26.3 Billion networked devices and connections. That's a LOT of people watching a heck of a LOT of video content - but what will they be watching? The range of video content readily available on the internet is ever expanding, from YouTube vlogger sensations with their own beauty product lines, to streaming of films and box sets at the click of a button. 

For advertisers the potential of video as a content marketing channel is absolutely huge in terms of engaging with your audience and promoting your product or service. This could be through vlogs, product reviews, interviews, webinars, tutorials, animations and good old fashioned trailers or adverts...the list goes on and on. 

There's also been lots of new ways to share video online recently with the likes of Periscope, Facebook LIVE, 360 video, Snapchat and Instagram Stories - to name a few!

In my current role of Marketing and PR Officer at New Lanark World Heritage Site we began dipping our toes in the 'video marketing' world last summer by creating a series of video adverts I suppose you would call them for various areas of our site such as the Visitor Centre, Mill Shop and Health & Fitness Suite. We found they were a fantastic way to convey our marketing messages in an engaging way and show so much more than an image or text ever could. We also found that sharing very short snippets of video on our social media channels (mainly Facebook and Instagram) also performed very well in terms of audience engagement. 

It was very much an in-house operation with us undertaking all of the filming and editing. As there was no cost outlay at the beginning this allowed us to experiment and feel free to be creative without having to worry about having to pay a video editor for just one more change. 

This year we're looking to continue to use video marketing to support our wider marketing campaigns, and also by creating specific videos to support the marketing of our growing programme of events and exhibitions. 

From working on creating and editing the videos I've learned a lot about what works well and what doesn't. As such, I've pulled together a list below of my 20 Top Tips for online video marketing. I'm definitely no expert, and always willing to learn so if you have any more tips or comments please feel free to email me at melissareilly3@gmail.com.

  1. Videos shared on social media for advertising purposes should be 30 seconds max.
  2. Use a simple backing track to keep the video lively (not too loud!)
  3. Every video should have a easily flowing beginning, middle and end. 
  4. People are likely to switch off, so have the essential info at the start. 
  5. When editing use transitions sparingly! (if in doubt stick to a simple dissolve/fade)
  6. Use a tripod for steady pans. 
  7. Perhaps the most obvious - use a good quality camera or phone for capture. 
  8. Natural lighting where possible is best!
  9. When shooting capture a variety of shots (static, pan up down left right, zoom in out)
  10. More is more - take lots of short clips that you can piece together later.
  11. Always capture more than you need at the start and end of a shot then trim down
  12. Incorporate your brand colour schemes and logo (but not right at the start as this will look very corporate - unless that's the style you're going for!)
  13. Upload videos directly to Facebook for a higher organic reach (rather than sharing a YouTube link for example)
  14. Use a relevant video title and searchable keywords in your YouTube video description
  15. Try out Youtube's new Director App to help businesses create better video content
  16. Export your video at the correct (and best possible) quality for your platform
  17. Embed video in your website landing page (or any other relevant page) to increase the time people spend on your website. 
  18. Include a call to action at the end of your video (so dedicated/engaged people who have watched the full thing know what to do next)
  19. Try not to date content too obviously (if possible) as in most cases it should be evergreen content that you can share again and again!

This is an example of one of the first videos I had a go of producing! 

Thanks for reading!

photo credit: Digital Adrian Capturing the fountains via photopin (license)

21 November 2016

My Top 10 learnings from #asvaconf16

Myself and Gordon Morrison from Visit Scotland (plus my glitzy - and very pointy - award)

Two weeks ago I was lucky enough to be able to attend the annual ASVA Conference for a third time at the beautiful Crieff Hydro Hotel. ASVA stands for the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions and its members include all the well known faces of the Scottish tourism industry from Edinburgh Castle to New Lanark World Heritage Site *shameless plug for where I currently work*!

This year's conference was focused on 'Achieving Excellence' and there were some fantastic speakers over the two day event from tourist attractions in the UK, Europe and Canada! I always come away from events like this not with a fistful of dollars (I wish), but with a notebook full of ideas to take forward, inspirational quotes and random scribblings that I have to try and decipher afterwards. 

I had plenty to think about after this year's conference, and have just managed to sort out all of my notes into some cohesive thoughts. I've pulled together a list below of my top 10 takeaways from the conference, and although these were originally focused on the tourism industry there are many ideas or tips that are transferable across many businesses and organisations. 

Oh, I should also mention that at the conference's award ceremony I was chosen as the winner of the Rising Star award which is given to one individual under 30 from an ASVA member organisation who has shown real commitment to their role and made significant change within their organisation. Yahoo! 

Anyways, onto the learnings - here they are...

1. The customer experience is 50% emotional – focus on building the customer experience and not on the ‘thing’ (attraction) (Royal Yacht Britania)

2. Invest in your staff and show them appreciation in a way that appeals to them (this may be 121 time, rewards/gifts or a gesture)

3. Know your customers and create tailored packages and experiences to meet their needs and desires. (The Famous Grouse Experience)

4. Your welcome is extremely important, so use the right staff in the right place.

5. Trip Advisor is big business (Scotland pages had 66 million views in the last 12 months) so be as visible on the platform as possible and reply to comments.

6. You have to keep innovating / changing and developing new ideas to stay ahead of the competition. (The Famous Grouse Experience)

7. Video is a fantastic marketing tool to convey your marketing messages and brand. (Sumerlee Museum of Industrial Heritage)

8. Don’t be afraid to try new ideas! (Nova Scotia Marketing Board)

9. Be as authentic as possible. (Astrid Lingren World)

10. Be valuable to and for the community. If you look after your customers they will look after you! (Royal Yacht Britania)

Did you attend the ASVA conference and have any other key takeaways? Let me know!

Thanks for reading, Melissa

20 June 2016

Increase the reach of your Organic Facebook posts

Many of us Facebook page managers are searching for ways to increase the 'organic' reach of our Facebook posts. By 'organic' I mean posts on Facebook that you don't pay to promote, that are initially shown to people who have liked your page. Over the past couple of years Facebook has become more and more clever about monetising the platform and is now making it incredibly difficult for page's posts to be seen by their fans, without any paid promotion. For example, your page might have 1,000 likes - but it's more than likely that around 10% of these people are actually seeing anything you post. When you pay to promote your Facebook posts this can be to people who like your page, their friends or anyone on Facebook that you select through a range of (very specific!) targeting options. 

That being said, there are a few tricks you can utilise to try and increase your 'organic reach' and how many people see your Facebook posts without getting your wallet out to pay to promote the posts. 

Use Photos and FACEBOOK Videos
Facebook likes it when you use visual content and will give posts that use photographs, or videos in particular a higher organic reach. If you're planning on posting a video then you're much better to upload the video directly to Facebook, rather than sharing a YouTube link. 

Watch your timing
Your posts are most likely to be seen by more of your fans if you share content whilst they are actually online. This will vary by page, but I find it tends to be based around meal times or when people are commuting - breakfast, lunch time, dinner and then around 8pm also seems to be a popular time for my pages. 

Like your own posts
This might sound strange, but Facebook will show content to more people if it already thinks it is valuable and interesting. To kick start this I always 'like' posts from my page and then my personal account. If you work for an organisation you can encourage staff to like your page and actively 'like' content and also share if they're feeling extra nice!

Post links in the comments
Facebook is less likely to show content if it thinks it's overtly 'salesy'. To minimise how much it looks like you're trying to sell something in your posts, I always include any links in the comments - instead of in the actual caption area. 

Ask people to like / comment / share
Another way to increase your reach is to get people engaged with your posts. You can do this by including questions in your post captions, asking people to 'like' the post or 'share' the post - in a light hearted way only! 

Share Instagram images
Something I've discovered recently is that Facebook LOVES when you share Instagram images. Might be something to do with the fact that it purchased the platform in 2012! This is also a great way to share user generated content on your Facebook page, by searching Instagram for people sharing photos of your products, location, shop - you get the picture. 

Thanks for reading. I'd love to hear if you have any tips on how to increase your organic reach!


3 March 2015

10 tips to write a perfect press release!

Hello everyone! My poor blog has been very neglected of late as I've been super busy with lots of different things. Very exciting news - I've started a new job as Marketing and PR Officer with New Lanark World Heritage Site. I'm also in the cast of Lanark Amateur Musical Society's upcoming production of Our House, and have just started a Diploma in Online Marketing course with the Shaw Academy. 

I've been thinking about this blog post for a while as part of my new role is producing press releases for New Lanark. I also dealt with them a lot in my role at Glasgow 2014, not writing them, but being responsible for releasing them on the website/social media in line with embargos. 

I've pulled together some of my top tips for writing press releases, and would love to hear if you've got any more!

1. Make the timing clear - when you send out a press release you have to let the recipients know when they are allowed to share the information. If you're sending out a press release that has to stay under wraps until a certain date it means it's 'under embargo'. Make this clear by stating Under strict embargo until DATE and TIME at the top of your press release .doc and your email. If your press release can be shared immediately put Immediate release: DATE YOU SEND PRESS RELEASE OUT. Bold and red also never hurts to get the message across!

2. Have a good headline - At the start of your press release there should be a good headline that is eye catching, easy to read and makes people want to read more. Try and keep this to about 5-6 words maximum. Also use this headline in your word document title and your email subject line. 

   3. Get to the point in first paragraph - Your first paragraph should summarise what the press release is about and convince them it's newsworthy. The second paragraph should expand the point in more detail. The third paragraph can include supporting quotes. Finally, the fourth paragraph should again summarise the press release, include a closing statement and reference any relevant websites. 

4. Include quotes - Including quotes written in people's voices can add personal colour and life to a press release. Always mark our quotes with speech marks, and include the name and job title/relevance of the person to the press release. 

5. Include hard numbers and facts - these will help to make your story more newsworthy and will also help journalists pull out the most important information for their publication. 

6. Be succinct  - a press release shouldn't be a novel, it should be just enough to convey your news and summarise the key points - if a journalist wants to know more they can contact you (see point below!). Try and stick to one page of A4, or 300-400 words max. 

7. Notes to editor section - include ENDS at the end of your press release copy, and then an underlined title called Notes to editor. This is where you can leave your contact details (name, number and email) and any other information that may be relevant to the editor, but doesn't necessarily fit within the actual press release - such as your website address for more information. 

8. Use images where appropriate - when including images make sure to reduce their file size and attach them to your email after your word document. Make the name of the image a description of what the image is, not something random like DSC13893.jpg as this could lead to captions being mucked up. I also tend to include a copy of the image within the press release word document too so the journalist can see why it's relevant. 

9. Word not PDF - I always send press releases as word documents instead of PDFs as they are simply easier to copy and paste text from. It's also a good idea to include your press release copy in the body of your email as well as attaching it. 

10. Pressing send - you don't want all of your contacts to see who you're sending out press releases to, so send the press release email to yourself and BCC (blind carbon copy) all of your press release mailing list in.  

And we're done! I hope that helped anyone who is perhaps writing a press release for the first time, they are fairly easy to produce once you're into the swing of them but you can't ever get complacent - always check check and triple check spelling, grammar, facts, quotes and people's names. 

If you need any more help or would like to ask me any questions please feel free to tweet me @_Melissa247

Thanks, Melissa. 

17 November 2014

Roundup of this year's Christmas Adverts

In the words of Michael McIntye, "Are you feeling Christmassy yet?" I'm certainly in the mood for a mince pie after looking through some of this year's most popular Christmas ads from the nation's biggest food & gift retailers. 

From penguins to the post office, it's been fascinating looking at how some retailers have went all out down the emotional route to drive shares and others have focused on showcasing the quality and prices of their festive offerings. 

Maybe I'm a big softie, but my two favourite ads are the ones from John Lewis and Sainsbury's that tell a real story. Kudos also goes to Waitrose for their charitable song-download donations, and to Aldi for giving me a serious craving for a smoked salmon voulevant. 

Do you have a favourite from the ads below? Tweet me @_Melissa247 or leave a comment!

The Post Office: "Get Christmas All Wrapped up"
For the first time in around 5 years, the Post Office have released a Christmas advert to encourage more customers to post through their outlets - with the ad highlighting benefits like reduced postage for small parcels and guaranteed Christmas delivery right up until 23rd December. The quirky advert stars a range of celebs including: comedian Robert Webb, singer Pixie Lott, Downton Abbey’s Jim Carter, actress Amanda Holden and chef Gino D’Acampo.

Views by 17.11.14: 2,386
Positives: Not too soppy. Makes brown parcel tape and recorded delivery fun & memorable.
Negatives: Webb's 'Wonka-esque' character appears to have been popping LSD like chocolate coins.  
Hashtag: #AllWrappedUp

Waitrose: "The Gingerbread Stall"
This advert tells the story of a girl who is put in charge of making delicious gingerbread biscuits for her class’s stall at the school Christmas fair. Although not very memorable to begin with, the advert has a few moments that make you smile - like the naughty dog munching a batch of the gingerbread biscuits. In true Christmas spirit, the soundtrack to the advert is a cover of Dolly Parton's 'Try' and was created using voices of members of the public, who took part in Waitrose's Donate Your Voice campaign in October. All profits from the sale of the track are being donated to charity which I think is a lovely touch. You can download it on iTunes and Google Play. 

Views by 17.11.14: 479,422
Positives: Nice range of associated media including Gingerbread recipes, behind the scenes videos and in-store gingerbread icing stations. YUM!
Negatives: Not immediatly as memorable or shareable as other ads until you know the story behind the advert & the charity aspect. 
Hashtag: #DonateYourVoice

Marks and Spencer "Follow the Fairies"
Marks and Spencer have cleverly created the two characters of Magic and Sparkle the fairies in this year's polished Christmas advert. Whilst I don't think the actual advert itself is anything to get too excited about, the 'Magic and Sparkle' concept capitalises on the reputation of M&S being a bit of a "treat" and "special" shopping destination. Another brilliant element of the campaign is the @thetwofairies twitter account which tweets from the perspective of both the fairies, and follows them as they spread kindness throughout the UK meeting people young & old and leaving them special gifts. This appears to have captured the imagination of kids, with lots of mums tweeting their photos & messages for the fairies.

Views by 17.11.14: 3,031,595 (third place!) 
Positives: Great online engagement with the Christmas-dinner-buying target market - mums!
Negatives: The actual TV advert is a little bit long and doesn't show all the amazing engagement with the fairies across the UK. 
Hashtag: #FollowtheFairies

John Lewis 'Monty the Penguin'
John Lewis' advert tells the story of a little boy, Sam, and his best friend Monty the Penguin. "It's a tale of love, friendship and giving someone the gift they've been dreaming of this Christmas." Like last year's Bear & Hare advert, John Lewis are masters at creating characters that make you go 'awww' and Monty is no exception. Admittedly, I did almost cry watching this advert the first time - but I'm not sure if it's made me any more likely to shop in John Lewis - probably because I don't have a child who will implode if they don't get one of the sold-out Monty toys. 

Views by 17.11.14: 15,667,803 (leading the way!)
Positives: Funny & engaging twitter accounts for both penguins Monty & Mabel....they even flirt! 
Negatives: Christmas commercialism gone a bit mad with a plethora of Monty merchandise....penguin cufflinks anyone?
Hashtag: #MontyThePenguin

Sainsbury's 'Christmas is for Sharing'
Quite possibly my favourite of the lot, Sainsbury's advert is a 3 minute long tribute to real events from 100 years ago. Made in partnership with The Royal British Legion, it commemorates the extraordinary events of Christmas Day, 1914, when the guns fell silent and two armies met in no-man’s land, sharing gifts – and even playing football together. The chocolate bar featured in the ad is on sale now at Sainsbury’s. All profits (50p per bar) will go to The Royal British Legion and will benefit armed forces and their families, past and present. A definite tear-jerker, I really love this advert and although it doesn't scream 'buy your christmas shopping at Sainsbury's' it's certainly got people talking about an extremely worthy charity. 

Views by 17.11.14: 9,065,759 (second place!)
Positives: Makes you feel all the feels. Keeps WW1 in our minds during this commemorative year & helps raise money via unique chocolate bar sales. 
Negatives: n/a (maybe I'm biased)
Hashtag: #ChristmasIsForSharing

Debenhams 'Found It!'
Debenhams' advert encourages viewers to "Explore the magic of a Debenhams Christmas as the search begins for your most fabulous festive season yet" Although it shows off a very pretty and festive looking store, I'm struggling to find any real saving grace of the advert as it seems to lack any real emotional story, or actually promote the benefits of shopping at Debenhams compared to other shops this Christmas.

Views by 17.11.14:695,806
Positives: Engaging weekly competition for people who share their #FoundIt selfie with their Debenhams purchase.
Negatives: Advert doesn't stand out at all against it's competitors. It's also confusing as you can't really tell what all the kids are doing running around, and finding the fluffy reindeer at the end is a bit of an anti-climax. 
Hashtag: #FoundIt

Boots #SpecialBecause
This endearing advert from Boots celebrates being together at Christmas, surrounded by the ones you love. It's a nice mix of an emotional story - celebrating the mum at the heart of the family - and successfully showcases the range of special gifts you can pick up at Boots to treat those special to you. 

Views by 17.11.14: 284,342
Positives: Encouraging people to share the love with their #SpecialBecause hashtag pulled together on their website. 
Negatives: Not much, could have a clearer CTA to use the hashtag at the end of the ad. 
Hashtag: #SpecialBecause

Tesco 'Lights On'
Plugs...plugs everywhere! Tesco's Christmas advert shows a range of people getting ready for Christmas, with the help of Tesco of course. This advert doesn't appeal to me too much as it doesn't really convey an emotional story, or highlight any benefits of shopping at Tesco this Christmas. I think their retro 2013 advert was FAR superior!

Views by 17.11.14: 505,377
Positives: Funny characters & relate-able situations (how do lights get tangled EVERY year?)
Negatives: They don't seem to be bothering too much with continuing the adverts engagement, and haven't even tweeted about it in almost a week!
Hashtag: #MakeChristmas

Aldi 'Everyones coming to us this Christmas'
Leaving the tissues behind, Aldi have gone for a light-hearted advert which highlights the trend of Aldi/Lidl's growing popularity and reputation for selling high-quality food at a fraction of the price. Out of all the ads, this is probably the one that's most likely to make you change your mind when deciding where to fork out for the Christmas turkey. Oh and yes, that is Jools Holland at the end! 

Views by 17.11.14: 40,785
Positives: Engaging social media competition where users tell @AldiUK who is joining them for Christmas dinner for a chance to win the food from the advert. 
Negatives: Now I'm hungry....
Hashtag: #AldiChristasAd

Thanks for reading, Melissa x

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way.......*damnit!*

3 November 2014

The show must go on! The BIG list of show promotion tips.

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts I've been involved with musical theatre groups for around 10 years. During this time I've been a cast member, committee member and have helped out backstage. However, one thing stays the same - whenever you're involved with an amateur musical production there is always a huge need for the cast (and everyone else involved) to promote the show, and drive ticket sales. Without the huge budget that many West End productions have, this can sometimes be really tough, and pretty stressful for those at the heart of the organisation. 

That's where this post comes in - it does exactly what it says on the tin. It's a big quick-fire list of ways to promote your amateur theatre production. Most of them are free, and a number of them are fairly simple to implement and can result in a huge boost in awareness (and ticket sales yahoo!)

Here we go...

1. Have your posters designed well and put them up in local, high traffic areas at least one month before the performance. Tip: offer shops A4 or A3 and they're more likely to put one up depending on what they can fit in their window. 

2. Keep the visual style of your posters consistent across any other advertising: social, web, press adverts etc. 

3. Create a Facebook event for your performance and encourage cast members to 'invite' all their friends/family. 

4. Submit your event to any local 'news' sites, a really good one in Lanark is Lanark Life. 

5. Submit for free to WOW247 

6. Add information about your show, images, videos & press releases to your local S1 page - here's S1Lanark.

7. Submit your events to you local 'whatson_____' website, they send out weekly newsletters! Here's Whatsonlanarkshire.

8. Submit details of your event to amdram.co.uk - a site specifically dedicated to all things amateur dramatics!

9. If your group is a member of NODA, make sure you're listed on their website's What's On page.  

10. Write a press release for your performance giving background to the show, key details, a bit of background about your group and any other interesting facts. Send it to local media, bloggers and the websites I mentioned above!

11. If you have budget available consider advertising in your local paper. They will tend to offer discounts if you take multiple ads, so consider placing a series of ads in the run up to the performance. 

12. If the venue of your performance has a website make sure your event has a listing on it. If they can share it on their social media channels - even better!

13. Advertise in other local production's programmes to attract a captive audience who you know should be interested in other shows. 

14. Get social and set up a Facebook & Twitter channel for your group, if you haven't already! As with point 1, keep all your channels branded and change your Facebook cover image to promote the show. 

15. Encourage cast members to change their profile picture to a graphic advertising the show. 

16. Consider paying to increase the reach of your Facebook posts or tweets. On Facebook this can be done for as little as £3!

17. Take over your local high street with a media day! Dress up in costumes from your show to get noticed, hand out flyers and if possible get the soundtrack playing on a boombox or sound system. 

18. Invite local media/bloggers along to your dress rehearsal to photograph & write up a review of the show ahead of 'curtains up'. 

19. Put on your directors hat and create a short promotional video. Capture footage of rehearsals, talk to the cast & production team!

20. Share 'behind the scenes' photos of rehearsals, costumes, set with your social media audience to continually build awareness of the show and give people a little teaser of what to expect. 

21. Encourage people who see your show to leave a review or wall post on your Facebook page, or gather comments via a guest book. You can then share these socially the next day to continue to drive ticket sales throughout show time!

22. Make sure details of your performance are on the homepage of your website!

23. Advertise your event with posters & flyers on tables at any fundraising events your group holds. A good idea is to have a simple 'What's on' A6 flyer that you can easily update & print in black and white for each different fundraiser or gathering. 

Phew, that turned out to be quite a list - and I'm sure I've probably forgotten something. If you can think of anything that's worked for you please comment below!

Thanks for reading, 

PS. Lanark Amateur Musical Society's next production is Our House in March 2015 :) 

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