There’s no such thing as bad publicity…

Successful handling of a data security breach can limit reputational damage as well as financial losses.

Robert Chalk, Managing Director of Chalk + Ward, shares his marketing insights by looking at PR and the nature of influence in today’s digitally obsessed world.

Early in 2016 we were approached by Delica AG, who wanted to launch Café Royal – their market leading coffee brand in Asia, Australia and parts of Europe – here in the UK.

Easy enough, right? Well, not exactly, when you consider how competitive the FMCG marketplace is, particularly given that we were starting with zero brand awareness. Add in a target audience of the UK’s leading supermarket category buyers (who are impossible to engage with) and suddenly you’ve got a mammoth task on your hands.

But strategy is what we do here at Chalk & Ward Advertising, so we put our thinking caps on and devised a plan for how best to penetrate this fiercely competitive market from a standing start. Our strategy was two-fold – firstly, target the trade audience with the aim of getting Café Royal listed on supermarket shelves, then build the consumer awareness once this foundation was in place.

One thing was obvious – we had to make a big impact and make sure the key decision makers knew exactly who Café Royal are, and what they stand for. So, how do you get noticed by the key decision makers? Simple… get them all in one room and serve them your fantastic new product.


That’s exactly why we went to The Grocer, the leading FMCG publication in the UK, securing an exclusive deal to sponsor their prestigious Gold Awards 2016 at the Guildhall in London. We started with a tease campaign, just to get the taste buds going, before ramping up to a heavy multi-media presence at the awards. Pretty good coverage and awareness, but we wanted to make an even bigger splash, which is why we negotiated to have Café Royal coffee served to the hundreds of guests and VIPs during the awards dinner – something unprecedented for The Grocer.

A multi-channel campaign congratulating the winners followed, and suddenly we had established a brand new player in the UK coffee market. The campaign was a huge success, both for us, and more importantly, Café Royal. Instant brand awareness meant new, strong leads, with buyers currently being engaged to discuss highly lucrative supermarket listings.

So, with the first part of our strategy complete, what’s next on the horizon for Café Royal? We’re already building on that momentum by increasing consumer engagement through a variety of social media channels, and we’re finalising the 2017 UK marketing strategy as we speak.

We’ve got our lips sealed when it comes to some of the exciting plans we’ve got, both for the B2B and B2C markets, but you can be sure that you’ll be seeing a lot more of the Café Royal brand in the next year and, as with everything we do here at Chalk & Ward, we’ll be making a big impact.

We recently had a young lady named Ellie join us for agency work experience placement. She was a pleasure to have in the office and impressed all of us with how willing she was to learn about working for a creative agency like Chalk & Ward. We asked her to write a blog about her time here and how she’d found the experience.

By doing my work experience placement at the insightful company that Chalk & Ward is, I gained a whole different perspective of the world that we live in. It allowed me to see the detail of the thought process behind advertising, which I would have never have had access to before; due to this I can now appreciate the relevance of having an online presence, public relations and the importance of creativity in the 21st century.

I am 15 years old and from Budleigh Salterton, and attending work experience for a week is a key aspect to my education. Finding somewhere to go was hard however after a family friend and loyal customer of Chalk & Ward recommended them as a possible placement, I decided to visit their website. The first impression it gave me was that they are a successful advertising company, who mean business.

“Chalk & Ward have steadily become the largest advertising company in the South West”-this is a huge achievement for any company so I decided to apply for a placement with them. From viewing the work displayed on their website it is evident that they have worked with a variety of companies. These range from multi-million pound business such as P&O cruises to local attractions like Buckfast Abbey. Before even coming to Chalk & Ward I could see that they are a creative, unique company, and have been involved in a range of inspiring projects.

Due to how professional the company’s website was, I was very nervous to spend the week with them. However after meeting the team it was soon clear that they are friendly, welcoming people, who care about the company they are working for. Being with the team at Chalk & Ward taught me that there is more to advertising than meets the eye. I was extremely impressed with all of their work and could see that there are meanings, reasons and a lot of thought behind everything they do, making me appreciate the care that is put into each piece of work. By working here I could establish that there are so many different layers to advertising and you are never short of things to do.

This week has been a unique experience that has enabled me to have an insider’s view into the world of advertising. However, not only have Chalk & Ward taught me about advertising and public relations, they have also educated me on what life in the working world is like, which I would have never gotten access to at school. I am very grateful for how they have helped me this week and I am sure that the time I’ve spent with them will be useful in my future career.

We didn’t even try to influence her or anything, we promise. Naturally, we were delighted to see Ellie had some nice things to say about us (we like to think we’re a pretty friendly bunch), but we were even more pleased to see that she found the experience worthwhile. We would wish Ellie good luck, but quite honestly if this week was anything to go by, she won’t be needing it!

Engagement is all you ever hear about in the world of public relations.

Stakeholder engagement. Employee engagement. Customer engagement. It’s the PR buzzword of the moment, but what does it actually mean and more importantly, how can you engage your customers?

It’s quite simple really – to get engaged you need a relationship first. And to do that you need to be honest and authentic. You wouldn’t just walk into a nightclub and shout out random proposals to everyone on the dancefloor would you? No, of course not – so why would you do that with your communications?

It can be hard work to build that relationship. The rise of social media and search marketing means that your customers can drop in and out as they please and find the content they want to see. That’s where the authenticity of your relationship with them comes into play. It’s about empathy; understanding your customer, building trust and opening a two-way dialogue.

Sure, you could jump on every hashtag going and people may flutter their eyelashes and glance in your direction, but it isn’t real and it won’t last. Anyone can pander to the mass market, but it isn’t authentic. And inauthenticity isn’t engaging. You need to differentiate yourself above all of the noise with content not just to get noticed, but to keep people coming back.

There’s a misconception that engagement, by which I mean something as simple as a Like on Facebook or a Retweet on Twitter, will lead to conversion. Engagement is actually part of a far more drawn-out buying process for customers. I see a relevant piece of content and actively engage with it. Maybe it makes me laugh, teaches me something new or reinforces something I already believe. But even if I do share it, I don’t automatically Like the page or buy a product.

No. I actually probably only do that if I see relevant content multiple times. And then when I need to make a purchase, or solve a problem, I already have a relationship with that company. I recognise them in search results – they’re a trusted brand that understands me and the things that interest me. That’s where the value of engagement lies.

Research. Empathy. Understanding. In the world of engagement, insight is king. You need to learn everything you can about your customer base. What are they talking about? Where are they having these conversations? What matters to them? Only when you answer these questions can you tailor your content strategy to appeal to them. Once you do, you’ll have people hanging on your every word, instead of being the person who just shouts at everyone in the bar, confusing volume with substance.

That’s where we come in. Public relations is all about spreading the message. We are communicators; offering insight into the channels that work for your business and finding the stories that matter in your organisation. Cutting through the noise so you can build that relationship and deliver those messages in a way that will, ultimately, impact your bottom line.

It isn’t easy and it doesn’t happen overnight. But then, anything of value rarely does. Remember to open up those channels of communication and to understand your customer base. Don’t just engage for the sake of it – have clear goals and messages that resonate with your audience and keep them wanting more. We’re in this for the long-haul.

Relationships. That’s what engagement is all about. The rest is just a one night stand.

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘fail to prepare, then prepare to fail’ and this couldn’t be more true when dealing with the media. You can have the most detailed communications strategy in the world, but without a genuine understanding of how the media works and what your key message is, it will fail at the first hurdle.

Whether you’re a complete novice or well versed in PR and media relations, knowing your business’ key messages and staying in control during an interview is challenging. As a nation, the British are well-known for playing down their positive attributes for fear of being seen as arrogant, but when it comes to interviews, this unassuming attitude can be misconceived as incompetence or uncertainty – not something you’d like repeated in the news!

Quite often we are unaware of the little turns of phrase that we use, which might give others a bad impression of ourselves. Using terms such as ‘it was a difficult year’, or ‘we’ve only recently started, so are still quite small’, can blur or distract from the positive message you are trying to convey. Media training helps businesses identify what those key messages are and learn the techniques to ensure that what gets printed aligns with what you want your audience to see.

For example, when being interviewed by a journalist, either for print or online, it is important to avoid relaxing into a conversational style. The journalist isn’t there to make friends; they want a story, and being too conversational means a greater risk of being misquoted. That’s not meant to scare you, or give you the impression that all journalists have an ulterior motive, but it’s important in interviews to not be afraid of stopping yourself once you have answered the question.

Answering in a clear and concise manner is far better than a rambling response. Unfortunately, this is a common mistake that we see. The interviewer asks an unassuming question, but a nervous interviewee continues to talk in an attempt to fill the dreaded ‘awkward silence’. Adopting the practice of answering the question directly puts the pressure back on the interviewer and retains control, ensuring they only have the material you want them to have.

Media training isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. A training session is only truly effective when it is highly tailored. It takes in-depth research into our business to understand how you work, who your audience is and how best to approach the messaging.

We use a tailored three-stage approach during our training sessions which covers the following topics:

– Developing your key messages

– Identifying the facts that support your key messages. Remember, a journalist will be looking for you to be an expert in your field, so it’s important that you practice the facts alongside your key message

– Anticipating the difficult questions. For this, we use the tried and tested ‘5 Ws and the H’ process: What, Why, How, Where, When and Who – in that order.

The research we conduct enables us to create numerous real-life practice interview questions, which makes it much more relatable and a more valuable training exercise. The whole aim is to build your confidence so that you are capable of facing the media with enthusiasm in an assured and informative manner.

Speaking to the media may seem daunting, but with the right training a difficult task can easily be transformed into an opportunity for you to let others know what your business is really about.

Scientists are already suggesting that our hands are changing and evolving due to the amount of texting we do and with the number of screens we spend all day staring at, surely our parents threats of ‘square eyes’ from too much screen time could become a reality?

In a typical day, I sit in front of my computer at work, go home and watch some TV, text on my iPhone and read a book on my kindle before bed. Sometimes I do more than one at once. Occasionally (and I’m embarrassed to admit this) I do all three. Take Saturday night for example, I was watching a film on TV and looking through Pinterest on my iPad when I got a text message. Naturally I picked up my phone to read it – that’s 3 screens at once! When I realised what I was doing, shocked at myself, I promptly put my phone down.

But I know I’m not the only one. It is becoming the norm to watch TV while using a mobile or tablet.

When we watch TV and we’ve got a device in our hands, our eyes aren’t glued to the TV screen. If there is a big sports game on for example, people might take to Twitter to share opinions on the match. Or it may be that you’re watching a film wondering ‘where have I seen him before?’ and you promptly do an online search through Google or IMDB which leads you onto other distracting content.

This is known as second or multi-screen search and according to Google, 84% of smartphone and tablet owners use their devices as a second screen while they watch. Surprised? Click on our multi-screen advertising infographic below to see the actual stats around multi-screen advertising:

Aside from looking up people and opinions, second screen search is also a great opportunity for marketers.

John Lewis is a brilliant example of how to capitalise on second screen engagement. Last year’s Monty the Penguin Christmas ad aired at the beginning of November and it quickly amassed a staggering 4,365,105 views on YouTube after just a few days. The launch of the ad followed a build up to the release which included Twitter tag #montythepenguin, teaser trailers and Monty merchandise.

After several years of successful Christmas ads which have almost become as much a tradition as eating turkey on Christmas day (I said almost), John Lewis knows how to work their audience. You can almost guarantee that once the Christmas ad has aired on TV, viewers will search for the ad on YouTube, share it on Facebook, tweet about it and hunt for the merchandise online.

The strategy is so successful for John Lewis that for the first time this year they officially launched the ad on social media first.

Reaching your target audience through second screen search is however still a concept in its early days and advertisers need to think carefully about the strategy behind it.

Director of research at Millward Brown Digital, Joline McGoldrick says: ‘Right now, it’s still more often the case that people are using the second screen to engage in unrelated tasks to fill time during the commercial breaks or when first screen content has lost their interest.’

A brand must be careful not to drive people to another brand and therefore have something compelling to drive the customer in.

According to Google, ‘65% of smartphone users agree that when conducting a search on their smartphones, they look for the most relevant information regardless of the company providing the information.’ People aren’t necessarily loyal to a brand; they tend to just want the right product at the best price.

Think about it, you see Argos advertising a bedroom furniture range which leads you to think ‘actually we do need a new bed.’
You’re already on your iPhone so you Google “beds” and Silentnight is top of the search with Argos way down the page. A few days later and your new Silentnight bed has been delivered, resulting in a loss for Argos (oops…not what they had planned!)


Multi screen data

So a brand should be prepared, particularly if it’s trying to engage customers in second screen searching.  It should be high up on search engines if not top, ensure online content is relevant to its TV advertising and make it as easy to reach as possible – mobile users want things done as pain free as possible.

Welcome to the second screen generation.