Student Blog- Influencers

Today was a really interesting day as I had the chance to take part in a CPD (Continual Personal Development) session organised by Linda and Ellis – as each member of the team is actively involved in the CPD programme by researching and presenting a certain relevant topic to the rest of the team. The topic for this session was online influencers – such as bloggers, vloggers or youtubers – the people who shape the opinions of their followers and the online community. We discussed what makes them influencers to begin with and what they can do for a company, such as creating a new channel which directly reaches the target market segment. Using online influencers is very useful as it online traffic is easy to monitor and receive statistics in regards to it, as well as analysing the reach and effectiveness of an online campaign (especially if said campaign has its own hashtag).

However, as useful as influencers might be one of the most important piece of advice is that before approaching any influencer one should do their research thoroughly and ensure that one deals with the whole process in a professional manner as, after all, they are professionals in what they do and should be treated as such. It is also important to keep in mind that there is a certain degree of risk associated with using influencers as one has no control over the message they deliver since the message they pass on will always be in their words. On the bright side, often an influencer will simply refuse to endorse a product or service if they do not like it rather than giving a negative review. Lastly, the end of the session stressed upon the importance transparency regarding any sponsored campaign and on that of stats when measuring influence (for example, followers can be bought and as such their numbers are not an accurate representation of the influence and popularity of a potential influencer).

Afterwards I had the chance of sitting in on another PR meeting where the focus was the launch of two new beer types and the relaunch of two old ones by the Innes & Gunn Inveralmond Brewery. The schedule for the launch was discussed and perfected while a balance between the actual launch and the fact that the brewery is also celebrating 20 years was discussed to ensure that one does not upstage the other. The event promises to be a spectacular sight and a testament to the proficiency of the Volpa team! And since we were on the topic of influencers earlier in the blog, the launch of Aurora Spirit’s Vodka, Gin, and Akvavit will see many opinion makers there, such as bloggers (connoisseurs in their fields) and acclaimed cocktail makers.

I spent the rest of my working day researching contact details for all Famous Grouse Experience’s wholesalers, four hours later having managed to go through 60 of the over 350 contacts on the list. This task promises to be a time-consuming one but at the same time quite rewarding as it gives this odd sense of accomplishment as one makes one’s way through it slowly but surely filling each row and column, making the spreadsheet look complete and professional. Just roughly 20 more hours of work to go and I should be done, although I am betting on the fact that by the time I get to number 100 I would have gotten the hang of it in such way that optimises the data input – fingers and toes crossed!

Student Blog: Spirits are high

The day started with another PR department meeting and I must say that I found this structure of weekly progress meetings which, although obviously serious and very relevant, have a relaxed and informal air to them (making one feel very comfortable to not only take part in the meeting but also speak their mind or present their project with confidence) to be very efficient. It not only ensures that all projects are on track and are being worked on each week but, also, it creates a sense of community and unity amongst colleagues. Furthermore, it allows for the opportunity of pooling individual resources from each team member for the benefit of each project, which leads to delivering a much more complex and well-rounded end-product than if there would be no interaction between team members.

Our main point of discussion was the launch of Glenturret’s 1987 whisky as the microsite (part of Glenturret’s global website) on which orders can be placed for this limited, vintage malt was going live later today. Susannah spent all day making sure the site was up and running, doing test purchases in order to ensure the site is easy to use by the customers and that the process is straightforward. There were some issues which came up early in the morning but by the time everything was due to go live, her and Tricia had solved them with a series of phone calls and some hands-on work. And while on the topic of alcohol, another project discussed was the upcoming launch of Aurora Spirit’s Vodka, Gin and Akvavit (made by the most northern distillery in the world which is found in Norway) taking place at the Malmaison in Edinburgh.

The second half of the day started with my digital training which I received from Megan, the Digital Marketing Assistant. She showed me all the figures and statistics used to measure online and social media presences, the reach of campaigns or posts, the amount of time people spend looking at a post and other such statistics. The fact that she used examples to explain each particular figure helped me very much to be able to cement the information she was giving me as seeing it displayed in the context of a business showed me their actual purpose. She went over different tools which help you obtain statistics, such as Raven which is a platform that provides social media stats and also supplies a monthly marketing report for each individual business/campaign, or Mail Chimp which allows one to distribute emails or newsletters quickly to a large audience. Two other very useful tools are which shows all mentions across the internet for a particular campaign, page or business, and a tool that enables one to find any relevant shareable content on a given topic. I found the training really interesting and very useful, both in the context of my task to manage the Kingsway Apartments social media accounts, and in the broader context of my future as now I feel much more confident in my ability to use, obtain, and interpret marketing information relating to social media/online stats.

The last part of the working day was dedicated to scheduling more posts for the two social media accounts, finding new relevant stories to share and putting in application my newly acquired knowledge, particularly when it came to finding said relevant stories or interpreting the stats provided by Hootsuite (since you can get stats there and I found it good practice tracking the posts I put up, trying to see what was most popular and then determining how can that be replicated).

Student Blog: The PRfect approach

Today one of my lecturers, Pat Sedakat, came to visit Volpa in order to see if I am doing well on my placement and if there are any issues that either Fraser or myself would like to address. It was a very informative and helpful talk because, after both Fraser and myself answered Pat’s question relating to the placement, she gave me some advice on the poster I must prepare as part of my assessment. She reiterated the programme for the poster presentation day and then stressed upon the importance of certain key points such as making sure there are no spelling mistakes in on the poster (as, apparently, such mistakes where a much more common occurrence than one would expect from university students). Another important piece of advice was making sure I include what I have learned and what new skills I have gained (or what already existing skills I have further developed) because of the placement programme, such as learning how to write a blog or developing my customer relation skills.

Afterwards, I had the opportunity to sit in on another meeting of the PR department to discuss the progress of each individual ongoing project within the department. One of the main topics for discussion was the upcoming LEGOTM Exhibition in Perth, whose launch is on Wednesday (although some of the exhibits won’t be unveiled until Saturday). On this occasion, I have learned that the press will be more willing to cover a story during week days rather than during the weekend, and thus the Wednesday launch allows for a much greater coverage from local and national newspapers.

The last part of my day was spent being introduced to managing social media accounts on behalf of organisations, which is something that the team at Volpa does very well. Fraser showed me how to use a platform called Hootsuite which allows one to simultaneously manage several different social media accounts for various projects. It seems like a very interesting tool and we shall soon see if truly got the hang of it as I was entrusted with the task of managing the Facebook and Twitter accounts for Kingsway Apartments. I must schedule posts which highlight the features of the halls and their unique selling points but also related posts showing an engagement with the local community and an understanding of our target audience – no pressure 🙂 Fraser gave me access to Hootsuite and to the Dropbox files containing the photos and videos taken during the photo shoot from last week and now all that I am left to do is give it my best and hope all goes well.

Student Blog – A day in the office

In the morning Fraser had a look over the cover letters for the three positions I was applying for as part of the first Supplementary List offered by the Saltire Scholarship. Receiving feedback from a professional over my style of writing and ideas was not only extremely useful but it also gave insight in the way someone receiving such a cover letter would perceive it and analyse it. Fraser said they were all really good having only small suggestions over what should be changed in some or what should be impressed upon in others – this helped built my confidence in my writing skills, for it is one thing to believe you might be a good writer and a completely another to actually hear that from someone who’s opinion is sanctioned and relevant.

Afterwards, I had the opportunity to sit in on another meeting of the PR department and to hear about the progress of all upcoming projects which are currently under development. For example, I learned there will be a huge and rather impressive LEGO™ Exhibition at Perth Museum in March and just by hearing the updates on the exhibition and its publicity campaign made me really want to go visit it once it is open to the public. ­Another story had the Balhousie Care Home at its centre, highlighting the new initiative taken by the care home in giving its residents a say in the selection of their carers and the care process itself – a commendable initiative, in my opinion, which takes into account the most important part of a care home, its residents.

One of the most exciting update for me was, however, the March launch by the Famous Grouse of another type of Whisky, distilled in 1987 and which has never been presented to the public before. The announcement was not exciting due to my love of alcohol (rather non-existent to the sore disappointment of my university friends – though I will always appreciate a good quality drink if the occasion or meal calls for it) but because the week previous I was actually involved in a part of the publicity process – without even realising it until now. Volpa was given two bottles of the precious whisky to help promote it and I was entrusted with the task of pouring one of the bottles into 14 smaller bottles to be sent to different bloggers, connoisseurs, and opinion-makers in order to hear their opinion of it. From the smell of it I can definitely attest it is a very good whisky (even with my rudimentary level of whisky knowledge) but I reckon that Gordon’s opinion who seems very well versed in the whisky world and who did not just smell it but took the “angels’ share” of the bottle (not exactly the vapour released by the evaporation process during maturation but rather the last 15 ml I had left over).

Afterwards, Fraser had a couple of meetings he had to attend and he left me with the job of compiling a list of all written Scottish publications and their daily ABC totals (the number of physical copies sold each day by the publication). Volpa uses the figures when delivering coverage reports to their clients in order to give tangible evidence of the approximate number of people reached by a particular advert or article. It was a tedious job but at the same time with each new line or sheet added to my Excel document that sense of satisfaction and pride in yourself that you have when make something from scratch, with your hands came over me. I suppose it is because it was one of the first important/official documents I was writing which will actually help Fraser from now on (not to mention that I was pleasantly surprised of how naturally writing it and coming up with a formal, yet easy to understand format was). I managed to finish the entire list just a few minutes before 5 o’clock which was just in time for Fraser to have a look over it and be pleased with my results – at least I know I can do basic data presentation right.

Student Blog- Feeling like a Professional

Once we got in, Fraser had a look over the rough proposal I came up with for the spring publicity campaign for St Andrew’s Aquarium. After a few gut-wrenching minutes in which everything that could be wrong with the proposal went through my head all at the same time with the speed of a freight-train I was put out of my misery by Fraser’s approval. After he had a look over my first blog entry I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was a very good one and there was no need to make any modifications – which lifted a weight off my shoulders as I have never written a blog before and I was rather scared that I made shambles out of it.

My task for the day was to develop my proposal and present an in-depth analysis of the way the monthly advertising budget could be spent effectively and efficiently, while simultaneously ensuring the most exposure for the Aquarium and its different monthly campaigns. When I first sat down in front of my laptop I felt as if I did not know where to begin but I was raised by an over-competitive mother who always expected the best of me and, in time, this made me expect the best of myself so I made a plan in my mind which seemed rather productive and gave it a go.

Shortly after I immersed myself in the work I had the opportunity to sit on two different meetings within the business, one in which overviews of ongoing publicity projects were presented, allowing everyone to input on each of them and bring in their own expertise or networking connections, allowing for a much better developed end product/service. I found this way of presenting the progress of ongoing projects and the openness with which colleagues opinions are received and truly taken into consideration not only a proof of good (and intelligent) business practice, but also very refreshing and inclusive. The second meeting, held by the design department, presented the new structure of design requests given to the artists for any project. This structured way of submitting a design brief is meant to optimise communication between the design team and the customer or between the customer and the project manager (who, in turn will work closely with the design team in order to ensure that the end product meets and exceeds expectations while remaining in budget). The layout of the new brief is simple and concise with straightforward questions, the answers to which create a clear and well-defined picture of what the client wants.

Once the meetings were over, I returned to my work which began looking rather smart once I started putting all the financial information in neatly organised excel tables and made me feel like a true professional. After extensive searches for prices, optimal places to display adverts, and miscellaneous ways of advertising I managed to provide a very detailed programme for each month and each campaign, together with the associated costs. Fraser was out on a few meetings during the latter part of the day but I had the chance to talk to Gordon, the Head of Creative, about what ideas I have for the posters associated with each of the campaigns. I had a few vague ideas of how I thought the posters could look and they were received very well by Gordon who, upon hearing them, launched in a stream of suggestions to suit them. I enjoyed working with him because I believe it is an amazing thing to be so passionate about your work as Gordon is; every time he would suggest something new you could see his face light up and his entire demeanour change to one full of so much energy.

At the end of the day I received very good and insightful feedback from Fraser (who even throughout the day was always more than happy to help with any questions I had) and I was left with a lovely feeling of self-accomplishment and an eagerness to come back next week!