‘Aldi win every time’… except for this time

This morning the Guardian wrote about Aldi’s slip-up in their recent ‘price-slash’ campaign and it caught my eye. Aldi’s campaign shows a comparison between the price of a basket of goods from the ‘big four’ supermarket, Morrisons,  to a basket of ‘equivalent’ goods from Aldi, saying ‘Aldi win every time’. However, this series of ads has been banned. This comes after Morrisons complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), calling the campaign ‘misleading’.

What caught my eye is the fact that they are indeed misleading and recklessly so. When it comes to the price war between supermarkets all of us know that you have to be very careful with the wording, pricing, and products shown; especially if you’re going to compare yourself with another!

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Aldi’s basket of goods came to an impressive £11.42, whilst Morrison’s basket came to a less appealling £18.19.

At first glance, you might ask yourself…

‘Why would I shop anywhere else?’

However, the eagle eyed folk at Morrisons spotted that Aldi’s basket contained predominately own-branded products in comparison to Morrisons’ basket that was full of branded items.

Aldi’s (very) small print disclaimer informing consumers that Morrisons might sell own-branded products at different prices didn’t cut it with The ASA, with The ASA saying that ‘consumers would expect the products that Aldi selected to be a “fair and representative” selection.’

Aldi UK and Ireland’s Chief Executive, Matthew Barnes, responded by saying ‘the company was “extremely disappointed” with The ASA’s “ambiguous and inconsistent” decision.’

A sloppy error from an otherwise admirable retailer. Perhaps they thought they’d get away with it, but Aldi need to remember that the price war is exactly that and the ‘big four’ won’t accept poor communications.

Photo and quotes from The Guardian

 

My top interview tips for PR grads

Interviews can be scary, especially if you haven’t had practise with many before. I’ve certainly had my fair share of interviews, some fun and some frightening. As a recent graduate fighting my way through the competition to get interviews and eventually a job (fingers crossed) I thought I would try and help some people out with tips I have learnt along the way. I hope that this post will settle the score on some interview myths and give some key tips that I wish I had been told.

From my experience there are three types of interviews that companies like to go for;

  1. Good Cop/Bad Cop,
  2. So laid back you could take a nap and,
  3. You’d think you were on The Apprentice (Complete with that annoying rival candidate)

I must say my preferred interview style is the Good Cop/Bad Cop and I’ll explain why.

The Good Cop/Bad Cop is normally held with two interviewers that go through some questions with you in a formal manner but nothing too strict. One interviewer will constantly smile and nod reassuringly at your responses, whilst the other (probably sprouting horns) grunts or exhales heavily to all answers. The good cop will normally ask you whether the journey to the interview was alright and whether you’re enjoying the weather, whilst the baddy will jump straight in for the kill with ‘so why you?’ My advice for this style of interview is to play their game. Smile and show a fun and friendly side with the Good Cop but you need to be able to switch to suit the Bad Cop. Be serious with your answers and keep eye contact, keeping in mind that they’re probably not trying to catch you out but are looking for a professional person. The first interview myth I want to settle is that you are allowed to enjoy it. This interview style enables you to show off your personality as well as your skills so make the most of it.

I personally have only encountered the second style once and it was… unnerving. I always say it’s better to be overdressed for interviews, however, upon arriving in a suit I was certainly shocked to find an almost beachwear attire in the office. It wasn’t even a Friday so Casual Friday was off the cards. Many digital and creative agencies have adopted a fun and relaxed working environment and normally consider smart casual as suitable attire, but I recommend finding out what they expect before attending any interview. The laid back approach to interviews can make you feel more comfortable but my advice is don’t forget why you’re there. You’re there to make a good impression and to sell your skills. If the conversation is informal and you don’t feel like you’re getting the chance to be serious about the role and your interest in working for them then it’s always good to raise a question about the role to keep the conversation in the right direction. The second myth I want to challenge is that there is such a thing as too nice. A survey by blah revealed that the most desirable personality trait wanted from interviewers was being down-to-earth. It’s good to have a bit of a backbone during interviews especially when discussing your expectations from the role. Interviews are very much about seeing if the company is right for you, not just if you’re right for them.

The final interview approach is possibly the worst. This type of interview is usually a group affair and a very competitive experience. Normally you’re set with a team building exercise (how many cups can you stack before it topples, etc) to show if you’re a team player. Sometimes, if they’re really mean they’ll ask candidates to leave after this first stage (don’t be in the team with the toppling cups) and the final stage will be one on one sessions. My advice for this type of interview is be the biggest show off. You’ll be watched all day during the team sessions and the one to ones so make sure you’re on the ball at all times. This sort of interview is the most frightening as the competition can be off putting but show off your skills and remember that you can only do your best. The final interview myth I believe to be irrelevant these days is that you have every right to ask what the salary is. If the interviewer hasn’t mentioned the contract type or salary bracket then you should have the confidence to ask this. It can be an awkward subject to discuss so I wouldn’t suggest firing it out first thing but if the conversation has gone well and you’re asked if you have any questions then this would be a good time to bring it up.

One final point of advice that may seem like an obvious one, it is to me at least, is that at no point should you be on your phone at an interview. Even if you’re waiting a long time (and you’re nearly onto the next level of Candy Crush). It looks unprofessional and gives the impression that you’re bored.

I hope that this advice is useful and wish all graduates good luck with your interviews.

I would love to hear your interview stories, funny or frightening, so leave a comment and let me know what your top interview tip would be.

Feature image: http://wishtraining.com/helpful-stuff/interview-questions/

Lidl don’t waste any time, especially when it can make great PR

Zayn Maliks shock exit from One Direction caused outcry (and a lot of jokes) on Twitter, however, Lidl seem to have responded with the winning punch line. I often post blogs about creative PR, but I especially appreciate PR teams that handle situations with quick and witty responses. Lidl, upon hearing the news, tweeted a photo of the One Direction Easter Egg for sale in stores with the tweet reading, ‘#Awkward – looks like we’ll just have to knock a 1/5 off too. #AlwaysInOurHeartsZaynMalik #ByeZayn‘  Screen shot 2015-03-26 at 18.27.08

People’s tweets back to Lidl showed their support for the humorous reduction with one person tweeting, ‘Lidl are now offering 1/5th of their one direction Easter egg. That’s some genius marketing right there.’

Lidl Ireland even went on to make a hashtag #lidllaughs and tweet with it a photo of the easter egg with writing ‘*still featuring Zayn’

Screen shot 2015-03-26 at 18.37.12

The funny tactic has brought a lot of awareness to the brand over social media and potentially brought in new customers with one tweet in response saying, ‘This is hilarious, makes me want to shop at Lidl now.’

Screen shot 2015-03-27 at 19.00.18I always think that timing is very important when planning PR and marketing tactics and the can be very effective for gaining awareness. A similar case was in 2013 when Oreo tweeted in response to the Superbowl blackout as shown to the left.

Oreos clever and witty post received 10’000 retweets in the first hour alone and became one of the most rememberable ads from the 2013 Superbowl. It just shows how effective it can be to have a PR team on standby for whenever something happens that can be used as an opportunity.

 
 

Lidl used a similar tactic in response to Sainsbury’s slip up over internal communication:

Screen shot 2015-03-27 at 19.19.30Screen shot 2015-03-27 at 19.18.47

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think?

“Are you lost from your ball pit?” – 3 PR industry health and safety tips

Are you lost from your ball pit?” I was asked this question by a PR professional (I won’t name and shame) after they pointed out how young I am. It didn’t really affect me at the time but it got me thinking about how young PR pros can stand out when entering the industry. Here’s my advice when breaking into the world of working in PR:

found: http://pixgood.com/path-cartoon.html

1. Know what sector you want to work in: Having completed two PR placements in two different sectors last summer I have noticed a considerable difference between how day-to-day PR processes are handled. My first placement, being a creative digital marketing agency, was very laid back and the office was often filled with jokes and banter. In contrast, my second placement, being a corporate and financial consultancy, was more formal and conversations about the news or business scandals were the topic of choice over lunch break. This isn’t to say that one is better than the other, but to highlight the importance of knowing what sector you want to enter as a PR junior as each is suited for different types of people.

plan-guy

2. Plan and plan and plan again: Planning your career path is the easiest way to work out what your PR dream really is. I created one for my Employability and Work Placement unit last year and what I have realised is that nothing is set. Your plan is yours. It can change at anytime to coincide with your ever-changing dreams. I also realised that even though your plan will most likely change as you grow within the PR industry it is still important to write down your career aims. By doing this you can position yourself within a certain sector or even with a specific organisation and you can prepare yourself for working within that environment.

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3. Dress for the job you want: This may sound a bit obvious but looking presentable is so important when making first impression in the industry. You won’t be taken seriously as a PR professional if you turn up to an interview or networking event in jeans and trainers. I recommend finding out what the dress code is before attending as digital agencies are often laid back have a more smart casual dress code compared to corporate where a suit is necessary.

 

If you’re a student trying to break into the industry then I’m sure you’ve already been told to do these things but I hope I can highlight how important they really are.

Key thing to remember: It might be intimidating to begin with but PR juniors are the future of the industry. Shake off negativity, learn from rejections and make your career the one you want it to be. 

Resolution in Communication: 5 steps to effective negotation resolution

I recently attended a police hostage negotiation workshop that shed light on the extreme circumstances that could require effective negotiation. Two representatives from Hampshire Police gave a talk on their experiences with negotiating in dangerous situations with vulnervable people. The main ‘take-away’ from the workshop was the skill to listen.

A 5 step process was given by the representatives to help understand the key factors that make up effective negotiation.

5 step processThe first step is ‘Emotional Intelligence’, which means understanding the circumstances of the situation you are trying to negotiate.
The second step is ‘Intitial contact’. It is important to use warm welcoming open lines to introduce yourself.
The third step is to build raport with the person through ‘Empathy’.
Fourthly, ‘Trust’ needs to be gained through continuation of the third step.
And finally, the fifth step is to effectively ‘persuade to solve the problem’. Through all the steps listening should be the number one skill used.

This five step process contrasts Saner’s key factors of negotiation (2000), which takes a more aggressive approach:
Coercion: using force, or the threat of force to wrestle concessions from an opponent.
Opening strong: starting out with a position that is higher than what you realistically estimate you can achieve.
Salami tactics: prolonging a negotiation to a painstakingly slow pace, only giving a very small concession to the other side when it can no longer be avoided in order to placate the other side for a little while longer.

Do you think these steps are useful?

What other factors are important for resolving conflict through negotiation?

Negotiation in practice:

Heineken set up a challenge where guys had to convince their girlfriends to purchase stadium seats using the power of negotiation. The result is humorous and show how difficult negotiation can be at times. Have a look and find out if they managed to or not:

What do you think of the video?

‘Look at me’… as I look at you: Facial Recognition Billboards

A campaign that launched yesterday in Canary Warf, London used creative billboards to raise awareness of the fight against domestic violence. The campaign was created by London agency WCRS who teamed up with Women’s Aid and Ocean Outdoor to coincide with International Women’s Day this Sunday. 



What’s so amazing about the billboards?

As a way of taking digital advertisements to a new level of creativity facial recognition is being used to recognize when people are paying attention to the ad. As more people look at the billboard, the bruises and cuts displayed on a models face heal faster. The aim of this is to communicate the benefit of not turning a blind eye to the problem and recognising the importance of doing something to stop domestic violence when you can see it happening. . 

Despite the campaign only premiering yesterday the advertisment has already won an Interactive Award in Ocean’s annual Art of Outdoor competition 2014. 

Women’s Aid and Ocean Amplify the Violent Face of Abuse from Ocean Outdoor on Vimeo.

I think this is a great way of using this technology for raising awareness of an important issue, rather than just targeting us with the right products. I often write blog posts about creative campaigns that I think shine within the industry and this is definitely one of them. A conventional billboard would have gained awareness but this digital communication takes it to the next level and will really make people think. 

What do you think?

Story found at adweek.com 

Negotiation in Communication – Good vs. Bad

—Negotiation is an interpersonal decision-making process necessary whenever we cannot achieve our objective single-handily’ (Thompson, 2005). This post compares two case studies of negotiation and analyses how one has managed negotiation effectively and the other ineffectively.

GOOD

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WHO: Scottish Referendum

WHAT: ‘If you don’t know, then you have to vote No’.

WHEN: Thursday 18 September 2014

RESULT: Scotland remains part of the UK because more people voted No. 55.3% voted No and 44.7% voted Yes. It is said that Gordon Browns speech at the “Love Scotland Vote No” rally in Glasgow swayed the votes towards No to independence. Brown spoke of choosing No because of love for Scotland and love for the future and one point that stood out to many was ‘If you don’t know, then you have to say No.’ The majority of campaigns were targeted at the No or Yes camps and little attention was given for the people who were unsure or had unanswered questions and Brown reaching out to these people is said to have been the tipping point in votes towards No. Political speeches are a great way to negotiate and if done effectively they can make a massive difference, proven by this case study.

VS

BAD

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WHO: Apple and Samsung

WHAT: Samsung in patent violations of Apple IPhone trial

WHEN: 2012

RESULT: A California jury ruled that Samsung would have to pay Apple more than $1 billion in damages for patent violations of Apple products, particularly its iPhone. However, the negotiation was not handled well and the cost would be further argued until the judge dropped the charge to $600 million. After this the negotiation had still not been settled and in November 2013, another jury ruled that Samsung would have to pay Apple $290 million of the amount overruled by the judge in the 2012 case. Despite the pay-out finally being settled this didn’t resolve the conflict as a court-ordered mediation between the CEOs of the two companies in 2012 ended in impasse and the disputants continue to fight in courts worldwide.

RECCOMMENDATIONS: In terms of Samsung managing to negotiate the cost of the pay-out down lower, there was still the issue that the original negotiation was unsuccessful resulting in the trial lasting longer than necessary. The cost should have been negotiated at the first trial and agreed to by both parties with a coinciding agreement to end the conflict between the organisations to prevent future court cases.

What do you think of these two examples?

What do you think could have been done better to resolve the Samsung vs. Apple negotiation quicker?

Can you think of any examples of negotiation that stand out for being good or bad?

 

References
THOMPSON, L. 2005. The mind and heart of the negotiator. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson/Prentice Hall.—
HARVARD LAW SCHOOL, 2015. Top Business Negotiations of 2013: Apple versus Samsung [online] [viewd on 24th February 2015] [Available at: http://www.pon.harvard.edu/daily/business-negotiations/top-business-negotiations-of-2013-apple-versus-samsung/%5D
GOV.UK, 2015. Scottish Independence Referendum Archived [online] [viewd on 24th February 2015] [available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/scottish-independence-referendum/about%5D
BROWN, G, 2015. Gordon Brown’s speech at the “Love Scotland Vote No” rally in Glasgow [online] [viewed on 24th February 2015] [available at: http://gordonandsarahbrown.com/2014/09/gordon-browns-speech-at-the-love-scotland-vote-no-rally-in-glasgow/%5D
Photo credits:
http://www.pcworld.com/article/261285/apple_v_samsung_five_experts_five_questions.html
http://gordonandsarahbrown.com/2014/09/gordon-browns-speech-at-the-love-scotland-vote-no-rally-in-glasgow/

Conflict in Communication – Media Misrepresentation

‘Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.’  

This quote is taken from the Code of Conduct for journalists as set out by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), however is this a set rule or simply a guideline that is often over looked?

Christopher-Jefferies-007Bearing this in mind I want to raise the case study of Christopher Jefferies, an innocent man wrongly accused for involvement in Joanna Yeates’ murder. Not only was Jefferies accused of murder but was also vilified by the press through harassment, false accusations, and out-right lies.

Even after Jefferies was released on bail the media continued to publish articles that included ‘‘seriously defamatory” allegations and persuaded the audience to doubt his innocence, with articles using ill-gained quotes such as, ‘weird’, ‘strange’, and ‘peeping tom.’ Journalists and paparazzi camped outside his home and followed him around whenever he would try to leave to the point where Jefferies accused them of harassment chris_jefferies_sun_mirrorand invasion of privacy. Jefferies was later released from bail and the police released a statement that he was no longer a suspect, however the tormenting didn’t end there. Jefferies had been accused of many things within the misleading articles and many of his close friends had been persuaded by the press not to trust him. Jefferies was told about how he could sue the press for their witch-hunt and by taking up a legal battle against 8 newspapers, Jefferies won an undisclosed libel pay-out that is said to be ‘substantial’ and received an official apology from the police and the press industry. In July, the Daily Mirror was fined £50,000 and the Sun £18,000 for contempt of court over their coverage of Jefferies.

What price do you put on a person’s reputation? Jefferies speaking after the ordeal said, ‘It was like having your personality left in ruins.’

How is it fair to make an innocent person feel like this? Especially when it is said that you are innocent until proven guilty…

What do you think?

A two-part TV series was produced that would show the case from start to finish and would highlight the ‘destructive nature’ of the press. I recommend watching the series as I found it very eye-opening. Part 1 and Part 2.

All the quotes and facts were found by researching articles available at: http://www.theguardian.com/uk/christopher-jefferies

CrossCountry Christmas Creativity

Whilst on the train home today I was handed two Santa shaped chocolates and a leaflet reading ‘A Christmas treat from CrossCountry.’ I thought I would write a quick post about this as I believe that the little things really do matter and not just in personal life but with regards to campaigns and building a brand’s reputation. IMG_0319 IMG_0321 The leaflet simply reminds you that booking tickets for the holiday season in advance could save you money and promotes the free App to purchase the tickets via. I thought that this was a simple but affected way of direct marketing for a brand I never before had considered to be creatively communicating with its consumers. CrossCountry’s slogan is ‘going that bit further’ and even though it’s something small I think the festive tactic is definitely proving so. Of course, there are many complaints to be made about the train service within the UK (late again, are we?) but when looking at it as simply a tactic for the brand I think it’s very effective. Well done, CrossCountry and Merry Christmas to you too.

Mind the gap: Consumer perspectives of ‘ethical’ retailers

I was recently tasked with writing a research report for the Ethics, Issues, and Crisis Management unit on my Public Relations and Communication course. I am required to research into an organisation of my choice and identify any ethical issues that this organisation faces and how this affects their brand reputation and stakeholder communication.

Ethics has always been a part of PR that I have been interested in and this report is a great opportunity to practice researching into ethics for a small report before taking on the task of my dissertation, which also focuses on ethics. I chose Gap as the organisation in focus for the report, not to draw out and Gap logohighlight their ethical issues but to demonstrate how some organisations can struggle to repair reputations after widely covered scandals, such as Gap’s sweatshop and child labour scandals. I have recently ended my part time job at Gap to focus completely on my final year studies and during my time with the organisation I worked with the Southampton team on a number of different CSR events, such as an employees uniform recycle scheme where staff donated old pieces of Gap uniform that could be resold at a stand within West Quay, Southampton to raise money for Rose Road, a charity for disabled children and young people. I think that the current ethical responsibilities that Gap are managing aren’t achieving enough awareness for consumer perceptions to change. From this report I hope to emphasise the need for awareness when reputation management efforts are being made and give recommendations on how organisations can effectively communicate their ethical responsibilities.

In order to gain some consumer perspectives about Gap and ethical retailers I have created a short survey. If you would like to get involved and share your views on ethics within retail please go to my survey.