Thursday, 23 December 2010

Help to plan the year ahead

With Christmas and New Year fast-approaching, assessing whether the last twelve months are to be repined or reminisced is important when planning the way forward for the next year.

Making time to take stock of the year’s accomplishments and failures is hugely important; without reflection there’s little to base strategies upon.

We’ve discovered a fantastic tool here at CreativesRus called The Wheel of Life. It’s a simple diagram that allows you to assess how well balanced your life is, from family life and hobbies to career and health.

To find yourself on the wheel, rate yourself in each category, for example if you’re doing fantastically in your career pop yourself further away from the centre, and if you’re neglecting your hobbies, put yourself closer to the centre.

It would be fair to assume that most people’s wheels are somewhat unbalanced. Juggling career and health can be very tricky (unless your line of work happens to be something that doesn’t involve sitting down all day picking at biscuits and guzzling tea). Likewise, balancing career and family may leave you with little time to yourself, and that’s a recipe for burnout.

Your own Wheel of Life has to be balanced, and perhaps looking at it in black and white (or indeed purple and orange) will encourage you to take the necessary steps to achieve the equilibrium essential for living, not just surviving.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Product placement allowed from February

Media regulator Ofcom confirmed yesterday that product placement in UK TV programmes – forecast to be worth £150m - is to be allowed from February 2011.
Paid-for references to brands will be allowed to feature in broadcasts including soaps, films and entertainment shows from 28th February 2011.
Product placement in children’s programmes, news broadcasts, all UK produced current affairs, consumer affairs and religious programmes are still prohibited.
Under the new legislation alcohol, tobacco, baby milk, weapons, medicines, gambling brands, escort agencies and food and drink deemed high in salt, fat or sugar will be banned from product placement.
According to Ofcom’s rules product placement “cannot be created or distorted so that they become vehicles for the purposes of featuring product placement", must be editorially justified and cannot impair broadcasters’ editorial independence.
A ten month-long public consultation was held ahead of the changes to Ofcom’s code.
Ofcom’s rules stipulate that product placement must be made clear to viewers, with a new product placement logo appearing for a minimum of three seconds at the beginning and end of programmes and following advertising breaks.
An audience awareness campaign overseen by Ofcom is to be launched in the New Year on commercial TV stations intending on broadcasting programmes with product placement. The campaign will comprise of short information broadcasts during advert breaks in popular programmes.
Product placement has been a part of American broadcasting for some time now, with many high-profile programmes such as American Idol and Sex and the City adopting the advertising technique, which accounts for 5% of total TV advertising revenue, according to product placement company MirriAd.
In light of the new rules, Ofcom has relaxed its TV sponsorship regulations and paid-for references to brands (radio only), allowing brand logos to appear during credits and using product placement in programmes they are sponsoring.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Five social networking faux pas to avoid

                                          Spam sammich!

Mass messaging friends and not fans is a fast and easy route to surefire deletion. Opening Facebook messages to a sea of spam from ‘friends’ touting their services is frankly just annoying. Often these promotional mail outs are socially, geographically and economically irrelevant and have been sent to every Tom, Dick and Harry in the friends list without a second thought as to whether or not any of these people would be remotely interested. If you’re going to mass message anyone, make sure they’re fans who have taken the time to ‘like’ your page and have a genuine interest in your services.

Control yourself!

Status updates every hour. It happens all the time on every social network – some misguided fool unable to control their compulsion to spread the word about their latest cup of tea. If you’re trying to promote yourself as a serious freelancer, this will say one potentially damaging thing: you have too much time on your hands. That said, spam updating about your business every hour (rather than simple inanities) it is likely a bigger bugbear than your latest cup of tea announcement. Updates should be well constructed and relevant rather than another irritating reminder of your existence. Stop annoying your friends and restrict business updates to business pages.

Don’t believe all digital hype

Advertising campaigns solely conducted through online social media can be restrictive and if not executed with foresight and precision can end in disaster, as furniture retailer Habitat learned the hard way. Despite some protests to the contrary, traditional advertising remains relevant. Although virtual advertising is boundless, it’s also saturated with people like you struggling to be heard, and even if you’re savvy enough to stand out from the herd, continuing to captivate your existing and appeal to a new broader audience . Check out our networking tips.

Stay on topic

If the sole reason you’re using social media is to make money, frequently deviating from your business message is a major no-no.  Unless you’re Stephen Fry or Kanye West, philippic outbursts (indeed on any subject) are likely to turn people off, particularly if the material bears no relevance to your business page or profile. Sticking to subject little and often is key.

Personal space – know the boundaries

Linking your personal profile and your business page can hinder your business reputation. We’ve all heard horror stories about people being sacked, arrested or just plain failing to get past the interview over Facebook content, so why as freelancers would the rules be any different? Keep your page profile colloquial and professional; keep your personal profile completely and utterly private. A transparent Linkedin profile will do you more favours than a Facebook one.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Research shows increase in digital workers choosing to go freelance

Recruiter Magazine reported that On Pointe Marketing, Gabriele Skeleton and Fairly & Associates conducted the research which revealed an increase in the number of people choosing to freelance over the last year.

Last year figures showed most workers were in permenant employement, with a 95 – 5 split, but figures for 2010 showed an increase in freelance workers to 26 percent, with just 69 percent holding permenant contracts and 5 percent out of work altogether.

Over the coming months some 56 percent of those who surveyed said they will be seeking change, compared with 38 percent who said the same thing last year, according to the study. 

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

UK tops European smartphone take-up as mobile communication becomes ‘part of our culture’

Unlimited and value-for-money data packages are fuelling increased online mobile communication, with mobile marketing asserting itself as one of the most effective mediums for reaching consumers.

Communication through mobile devices has become commonplace according to top technology expert Zara Rabinowicz.

"The fact that the UK tops the polls in terms of using mobile technology demonstrates the extent that mobile communication has become integrated into our culture," she added. "The rise of the application market ensures seamless delivery of content to the source."

The physical and online journey of the user can be enhanced through maps and shopping according to Ms Rabinowicz.

Smartphone take-up in the UK is the highest in Europe according to a report from Ofcom released earlier this year. Subscriber numbers rose by 70 percent from January 2009 to January 2010, compared with just 11 percent in Italy, which has the highest overall take-up.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Anti-social networking

You’d be a fool to publicly seek advice on why exactly you need a Twitter account, unless of course you wish to be relentlessly mocked and accused of being an anti-digital, analogue-fascist curmudgeon.

While there’s nothing wrong with flinging your CD’s in the bin after a decade of gathering dust alongside your now retro six-disc CD changer, much can be gained from not retiring all ‘ancient’ mediums.

When I reminisce over two university stints within a decade, I find the first course I attended was a much more interactive, sociable experience. There was no Facebook, MySpace was only just taking off in the US and broadband was a distant dream. Texting was the new talking and cheap mobile deals were finally a reality. The human race appeared to better connected in ‘real life’.

There were over a hundred contacts in my mobile (probably around the same number of people I’m ‘friends’ with on Facebook now), but the difference was I actually met up with these people, we went to gigs, the cinema, for coffee, it was a real life experience. Sure, hundreds (possibly thousands) of texts were exchanged, but the impersonal brevity of text language encouraged real life meetings for the purpose of real life conversations, free of 140 character limits. 

But as the (anti?) social networking age beckoned, real life networking dwindled and I found myself communicating online more and more, and my circle of good friends slowly shrinking. Thinking of all the friends I have on Facebook, there are a few I chat to now and again and fewer still that I ever see in ‘real life’.

That said, I can’t deny the existence and daily use of my Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin accounts. They are an excellent way to communicate with people who you otherwise might lose contact with, or indeed never meet in the first place.

But purely virtual relationships held over social networks are inherently anti-social so making a lasting first impression online is much more difficult than in the ‘real’ world - it’s no surprise that out of all the digital nattering, the Tweetup was born.

The Tweetup is the perfect way to materialise virtual relationships, and strengthen them. As a freelancer or contractor it is particularly important to be able to put a name to a face as the entire premise of freelance relationships is trust.

But don’t restrict real life social activity to Tweetups; fairs and events are becoming increasingly popular with new meetup sites popping up everyday encouraging niche groups to form solely for the purpose of making real life contacts.

So when it comes to making new business contacts, and indeed friends, broaden your social horizons with a few simple moves: join a local freelancers or industry network, get some old school business cards made up and above all, leave your Blackberry at home!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Angry birds to make PC debut in early 2011

The Monday morning skyve will never be quite the same following the announcement that Angry Birds is to make its console – and PC - debut in 2011. 
The official version of the game is reportedly under development for PC, Nintendo DS, Wii, Xbox and PlayStation 3 release in early 2011 as confirmed by the Finnish mobile company Elisa, who were partners with Rovio for the announcement.
The form of distribution for PC is yet to be announced, but regardless of whether its direct download, CD or USB there will doubtless be an army of users itching to ease the Monday morning blues with a PC version in the workplace.
Microsoft had reported that a version of the game was in development for the Windows phone, although Rovio denied that they had committed to creating a Windows version with Microsoft having since removed all references to the game from their site.
Initially designed for iOS, Angry Birds has since been released to WebOS, Symbian and Android, and boasts in excess of 42 million users who have downloaded the game over the various platforms.
And for those of you really can’t wait to launch wingless birds into thieving pigs on a marginally bigger screen, why not track down one of these vintage bad boys to get you through to Spring. 

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Brands using social media must listen to consumer feedback

Industry analyst Ilana Fox has urged brands using social media channels to reach out to consumers taking feedback on board.

Fox noted that social media has changed the relationship dynamic between brands and consumers; she said "We're no longer in a world where a person writes a letter of complaint and it's dealt with behind closed doors”

"The web ensures these gripes affect companies' reputations. Those that manage these situations well understand their social media response in how they're perceived."

According to Fox companies who maintain fluid and meaningful dialogue with customers will be able to gauge better what they want and are likely to be more successful.

Fox purported that conversing with consumers is just good practice, in which sense the communication social media demands is nothing new. Fox also suggested that ignoring feedback - both positive and negative - can cause catastrophic damage to a brand’s image and customer loyalty. 

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Creativity focus for marketers aids industry growth

Markman OTW managing director Mark Batchelor has cited greater creativity as a necessity for advertising professionals hoping to maximise the potential of online channels.

The UK’s creative industries will grow at double the rate of the economy as a whole for at least the next five years, according to the Creative Clusters and Innovation report, released by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts in November.

The report outlined that creative industries grew by 5.2 percent in the decade up to 2007, compared with 2.9 percent in the economy overall.

Agreeing with its emphasis of the necessity of creativity, marketing agencies have welcomed the report, with Batchelor adding that “Anything that tries to capture the actual creative resources situated in the UK and unpacks them has got to be good news really.

“Agencies are being asked to come up with solutions to use these channels, and thre’s the chance that they have to revisit how they do things. That’s definitely positive.”