Rethink ink: how print is disrupting our digital world

by Wardour – Dec 03, 2018

Digital disruptors disrupted

Younger generations are hungry for more content, according to new research carried out by Wardour.

Our survey of 2,001 consumers aged 18+, revealed that those aged under 35 are more likely than the rest of the UK population to be reading more across both print and digital channels than they were 12 months ago.

The Rethink Ink research, carried out for Wardour by Delineate in September 2018, showed that all audiences are reading more across digital channels than a year ago.

But the research also revealed that both the GenZ group (18 to 24) and the group above (aged up to 35), were also reading more of the print channels than people across the rest of the UK age range.

“We were really surprised by the findings,” said Martin MacConnol, CEO of Wardour. “We expected to see that younger generations were moving away from print and towards digital. Instead, many are saying they are engaging with more content in both channels than a year ago.”

A digital and print partnership

There are some areas where the younger generation’s engagement with print is more marked. For instance, while 15% of those who read trade magazines say they are doing so more often today than a year ago, that figure almost doubles to 28% for GenZ. Similarly, across all age ranges only 10% say they are reading more of companies’ print magazines, brochures and reports than they were a year ago. This figure almost doubles to 19% for those aged between 25 and34.

MacConnol said: “The message is pretty clear. As digital moves ahead, it need not necessarily be at the cost of print. Many people in the UK, particularly in younger age ranges, want to have a mix of media.

“The research shows that more in the younger groups want the ‘lean back’ that print offers, combined with the immediacy and ease that is a core part of digital.”

Print is memorable

There is momentum for print across all ages. The research also showed that print messaging is more memorable, and that a significant minority of consumers trust print messaging more than digital. Some 44% of those surveyed agreed that they were more likely to remember something they had read in print rather than on screen (only 12% disagreed). Similarly 25% said they trusted print more (only 6% said they trusted digital more).

The research comes as big digital brands turn to print for headline-grabbing communications. Last year Airbnb launched a new print magazine, airbnbmag, with Hearst. This year Facebook started a print publication called Grow. And for the current festive period, Amazon in the US has distributed a toy catalogue, A Holiday of Play, complete with stickers and QR codes.

Other highlights of the research include:

Our methodology

Fieldwork for Rethink Ink was conducted for Wardour by Delineate’s sister company opinion.life in September 2018.

https://delineate.agency/

https://opinion.life/

The research comprised an online survey among a nationally representative sample of 2,001 adults in the UK, aged 18 and above. The sample had a margin of error of +/-2.2 percentage points at the 95% Confidence level. For ease, all numbers have been rounded to the nearest whole figure.

The media tested in the research covered:

For more information, and to obtain a copy of the report, please contact:

David King

Wardour

D 020 7010 0916

David.king@wardour.co.uk

linkedin.com/in/davidkinguk/

Published Dec 03, 2018

Wardour strikes gold at CorpComms Awards

by Wardour – Nov 30, 2018

Wardour celebrated winning two awards at the CorpComms Awards, held at the end of November.

  • Gold for Brewin Dolphin’s Antenna magazine – Best External Corporate Publication category
  • Highly Commended for Renewi’s Renews magazine – Best Internal Corporate Publication category

The awards, organised by CorpComms Magazine, recognise the strength of the publications we create. They recognise an understanding of the audiences through the content we include, the overall publication design, and the overall return on investment for our clients. Entries are judged on a scoring system by a panel of communications experts drawn from clients and agency.

The CorpComms Awards, which had more entries than ever before, are considered to be one of the premier award programmes in the UK. Our winning entries are proof of exceptional work and creativity, and examples of how print content can create differentiation through editorial and design.

More information about the awards can be found here: Print Content

For further information about our winning projects or our other work, please drop us a line: hello@wardour.co.uk

Published Nov 30, 2018

Our top takeaways from CBI Annual Conference 2018

by Wardour – Nov 20, 2018

As a world-leading business event, it’s always a real honour to attend the CBI Annual Conference. Our friends at Hays, a principle partner of the event, kindly invited us along to hear what challenges and opportunities are on the horizon for businesses.

Here are our key takeaways from this year’s event:

Pragmatism over Brexit

While there were a fair few disagreements on the final outcome of Brexit voiced throughout the day, the overarching discussion felt pragmatic. Director General of the CBI Caroline Fairbairn, discussed conversations she has had with European organisations. She said their message was clear; they want British businesses around their table and to work together. Theresa May received a largely warm reception and the mood in the room seemed to be that business leaders believe she has made progress in the face of uncertainty.

Generation trust?

The first panel session of the day featured Steve Murrells, Chief Executive of the Co-op and Jessi Baker, Chief Executive of Provenance, a tech start-up that helps businesses build trust in their goods and supply chains. They focused on what the next generation of workers are looking for from organisations, predicting that honesty and openness will be increasingly important both internally and externally. They were clear that businesses should be ready to discuss what they do, and how they work, with candour and credibility.

Belonging at work

LinkedIn’s UK Country Manager & VP EMEA, Josh Graff, followed on from this with a discussion on belonging. While most organisations are making great strides in improving diversity and inclusion, he argues that many need to go further. He believes that creating a sense of belonging can improve productivity and satisfaction at work. This can often come down to organisations communicating their message effectively.

Enabled through AI

The afternoon session, opened by Hays CEO Alistair Cox, considered how businesses can help their staff feel enabled by AI, rather than fear its implementation. We’ve covered this previously in the latest Hays Journal and a key consideration is how organisations can communicate the benefits and reassure their people. If this is a challenge you’re facing, we’d love to discuss how we can help.

Ethical and beneficial data capture

Vodafone’s Enterprise Director, Anne Sheehan, and Admiral’s Head of Telematics, Gunnar Peters, discussed their partnership to develop telematics in the car insurance industry. The Admiral Little Black Box, created by the two companies, captures real-time driving data using Vodafone’s network, allowing Admiral to monitor driving behaviour and offer safer drivers (including new ones) better premiums. It’s a compelling argument for safe and ethical data capture that benefits business and consumers alike.

Connected cows

And while we’re well versed in connected cars through our work with Gemalto, a new idea to us was connected cows. Anne also discussed how Vodafone have developed an Internet of Things SIM card that can be inserted into the tail of cattle, alerting farmers when they are calving. This allows them to more safely deliver calves. Talk about milking new technologies…

Published Nov 20, 2018

A winning trio

by Wardour – Jul 04, 2018

It’s been an award-winning week: our work has been acknowledged internationally at the Summit Creative Awards. Three of our projects have been recognised at the US-run awards scheme:

  • Silver for the Gemalto Connected Cars Microsite – Microsite category
  • Bronze for Brewin Dolphin’s Perspective magazine – Book/Journal/Magazine category
  • Finalist for Gemalto’s The Review - Book/Journal/Magazine category

This year there were over 5,000 submissions from 26 countries. With many award programmes being dominated by large agency networks, big budgets and client, the awards are unique in that they are only open to small and medium-size agencies with annual billings less than $30m, allowing a broader selection of creative work to be shown.

Entries are judged on a scoring system by a panel of communications experts drawn from clients, agency and academia. Only 11% of all submissions get any kind of award, a reflection of the rigorous judging criteria – so we’re thrilled with our winning entries. The awards recognise the strength of the concepts we create, the quality of execution and our ability to persuade audiences. We were delighted, also, that our work has been acclaimed across both digital and print – yet more evidence that print has a good life ahead of it, despite the rise of digital.

Over the past 24 years, the Summit Awards has established itself as one of the premier arbiters of creative and marketing excellence. Our winning entries are proof of exceptional work and creativity, and outstanding examples of how print and digital content can create differentiation through editorial and design.

More information about the awards can be found here: https://summitawards.com/summit-creative-awards/sca-about/#

For further information about our winning projects or our other work, please drop us a line: hello@wardour.co.uk

Published Jul 04, 2018

Facebook embraces print

by Martin MacConnol – Jun 25, 2018

When we were trend-spotting at the beginning of the year with clients, one hotspot we identified was the resurgence of print. We believe that while the future is digital, paper is enjoying a resurgence at this time.

So, it’s nice to get a confirmation of our accuracy in trend-spotting from no less an authority than Facebook. Just this month the social media platform has announced the launch of a new glossy magazine, Grow: “a quarterly magazine for thought leaders.” The magazine, which will be available to business leaders in first-class airport lounges, is part of a new thought-leadership marketing programme by Facebook encompassing print, digital, events and podcasts.

For some people, the decision to embrace print by one of the biggest digital companies in the world, a business predicated on the idea of online connectivity, will seem a little strange. Wasn’t Facebook meant to be an agent of print destruction?

But for us at Wardour, the decision is an obvious one, and just another example that shows print has a good life ahead of it (qv AirBnB’s recent launch of its own print magazine).

There are many reasons why Facebook’s decision is a good one. Some boil down to the experience you get from a print publication: so much more calming and immersive than the endless pop-ups and flashing ads of online. 10 years on from the launch of the iPhone, we all find them a little exhausting.

And of course, print is truly portable and ‘always-on’. A print magazine is still on your coffee table or bedside drawer after you have put it down – a living brand reminder. Whereas when you bounce off a digital magazine page the brand experience is over.

But there are bigger issues than this at play. We live in a world of fake news. So often now when we see an extraordinary video online, or a bizarre headline, we question “is it true?”. Our confidence in the honesty of digital content is at an all-time low. It’s so hard to verify what is information and disinformation and so easy for a faker to create a digital lie.

Not so with print. There is something about the effort involved in production, the physical permanence of the medium, which makes it feel implicitly more trustworthy. Add to that the expense. It’s cheap to make a fake online story, and expensive to create a print lie.

At Wardour we’ve always known the virtues of print. Yes, digital has undoubtedly changed what print is about. Because of its cost compared to digital, print publications are now premium products for engaging targeted audiences. The mass-market commodity is now digital.

But digital has not killed off print and while we delight in creating online publications for clients, we also know that print titles will be a key output for many years to come.

So, welcome to the party Facebook: it’s good to see that even a disruptor is prepared to admit it can learn from one of the sectors it is helping to transform.

If you would like to talk to us about your thought-leadership marketing, print magazines, stakeholder or employee communications, please drop us a line: hello@wardour.co.uk

Published Jun 25, 2018

Bright thinking: five ideas for keeping your content fresh

by Wardour – Jun 01, 2018

A 2017 roundtable discussion hosted by Econsultancy found that the toughest test professional content marketers face is maintaining a consistent, interesting and relevant stream of content.

From our experience with clients, we’ve found that the pressure is even higher on individual brands to develop fresh, relevant copy that drives sales and social media engagement while maintaining brand image.

A consistent content marketing strategy begins with careful planning. Here are five ways we have helped our clients to produce a regular and engaging content stream:

1. Stay relevant

Whilst some brands find it beneficial to create content around keywords, this approach can be fleeting since search terms change and evolve constantly. An alternative way to making your content future-ready is to do research into the topics your target audience is interested in hearing about. Use data from events, social media, audience feedback and analytics, to make an informed decision on the type of content that solves problems, answers questions, and provides unique value for everyone visiting your website.

2. Content marketing calendar

Topical and time-sensitive content is important but there are also key dates and times throughout the year around which you can plan content. These might include days as diverse as the World Book Day, Earth hour or annual conferences. Scheduling these in a content calendar allows you to identify possible content gaps in advance and plan accordingly.

3. Content is not just copy

… and its place is not just on a company’s blog section. You should consider truly integrating infographics, videos and animations to make sure you not only grab but also retain your audience’s attention. Everything you produce and distribute – from websites and blogs to your social media output, as well as printed content like newsletters and magazines – has the potential to be part of a bigger campaign that amplifies your message to a wider audience, for longer.

4. Repurpose old content

According to Google’s ex CEO Eric Shmidt, humans now create as much information in two days as we did from the dawn of man until 2003. In an era of content saturation, it’s more important than ever for you to resurface, tweak and repurpose previously produced content. One way you can breathe life into old blog posts, is by either updating them with new information, when applicable, or completely rewriting the article. You could also repurpose written content into an animation or commission a larger piece of research based on that animation you created in the past. Just because you produced a piece of content a while ago, it doesn’t mean that you can’t reuse or repurpose it!

5. Ask your audience

Sounds like simple advice, but often overlooked. Your readers are one of the best sources of ideas that you have at your fingertips. Discover what challenges they have, what issues they are concerned with, and what solutions they are looking for. By providing content that is relevant to their needs, and by showing an interest in delivering content that they want will result in a happy, loyal, audience. And, you are more likely to generate revenue based opportunities.

When you produce engaging content, you boost your customer loyalty, improve SEO scores, establish your brand as an expert and a thought leader, and so much more.

We hope the above tips will help you keep the content you produce fresh but if you are looking for tangible advice, you can drop us a line on hello@wardour.co.uk, or give us a call on 020 7010 0999

Published Jun 01, 2018

Six steps to creating the perfect animation

by Wardour – May 23, 2018

Animations come in all shapes and sizes, from the simple stop-motion flick book in a pad of paper to something on the scale of the hit movie Monsters Inc, in which 5.4 million hairs in the characters’ fur were animated to match their every movement.

In our experience – and we have produced a lot – animations are excellent at making dry or complex subjects interesting and easy to understand. They are also totally engaging, tapping into our childhood fascination with cartoons. We automatically want to watch them, and its been proven that audience recall is much higher when using animation or video than the written word.

To help, here are the steps we take with our clients to create our award-winning animations.

Step 1: Build your brief

Putting the time in to lay the foundations of the project is essential. You will need to answer some key questions before you can brief our team.

Step 2: Write a script

  • What is its purpose? You should be clear about whether your animation is going to be purely informative, or sell a product or service. What should the key messages be, and what do you want your audience to feel and do after watching it?
  • Who is your audience? Do you really understand their demographic and their existing knowledge? If it’s going to feature on a public website the audience is likely to be pretty broad and it will have to be easily understood by everyone.
  • How will it be viewed? You need to decide if it’s going to be on your website, in your social feeds, on a screen at an event or shown during a conference or presentation. An animation on social media, for example, shouldn’t really be more than a minute long.
  • What about the style and tone? What is the appropriate tone for your brand and what kind of imagery do you want to see? Will it be 3D, computer generated or hand-drawn? Do you want to use photography, text only or animation overlaying video?

Once you’ve completed the brief you can either write the script yourself or ask us to do it. Make sure the language is right for your audience and don’t make it too long – 45% of viewers will stop watching after one minute and 60% after two. To avoid unnecessary delays make sure you know who has to approve the script.

Step 3: Create a storyboard

Once the script is approved we can break it down into bite-sized chunks and produce pencil sketches to show how each part of the animation will look.

They are placed within a visual storyboard that shows how the imagery and the script will work together and how the transitions will be made from one idea to the next.

Step 4: Build a visual asset library

Once the storyboard has been agreed we create illustrated assets based on each pencil sketch. These assets could be graphics, photography, videos or even a font. Using them we create a still version of the animation to make sure you are happy with the colours and to get brand approval.

Some assets are more complex than others and may require each part to be created as a separate layer so that they can move independently when they are animated.

It should also be noted that it is essential to get each of these first four stages right before moving onto the actual animating stage. Unlike with written copy, where most of the input from clients comes towards the end of the process, its essential to have the approach and execution approved before animating. Unexpected changes take the project back to square one so it’s worth taking the time at the start to ensure all stakeholders are happy.

Step 5: Create your animation

Finally we bring everything together – the concepts, the script, the transitions and the assets. They are imported into special software which is used to tell each layer of a graphic what to do – move position, scale, rotate, trigger and effect and countless other options to create your animation.

Step 6: Measure the results

It’s important to measure the performance of your animation against the original brief to see what you can learn for your next project. It can help you to decide, for example, whether you should change the tone of voice or make it shorter or longer. And remember, it’s not just about the number of views you get but whether you have met the objectives you set out right at the start.

If you’d like to speak further about using animations in your marketing you can contact us at hello@wardour.co.uk

Published May 23, 2018

Five years of inspiring campaigns

by Wardour – May 17, 2018

Over the past five years, the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) has been leading the charge – identifying the UK’s most dynamic and fastest-growing entrepreneurial businesses with its ‘1000 companies to Inspire Britain’ campaign.

The campaign, which centres around a print publication, was launched by the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, at the market open ceremony of the Stock Exchange. The event, to mark the fifth anniversary of the campaign, brought together influencers, senior political figures and business leaders, and more than 50 CEOs of the businesses themselves.

Wardour has worked with LSEG since the inception of the report in 2013, helping to develop the initial concept, creating the overall look and feel and shaping the report’s narrative. It’s a rewarding collaboration which we are immensely proud of. ‘It was born out of a need to help create traction among businesses of all sizes in a post-recession UK,’ explains Charlotte Tapp, who leads the LSEG project team at Wardour.

The UK’s most dynamic sectors are revealed in the report – and those companies that are driving them. Weighty commentaries from leading business and government figures explain the broader context, and the report’s insight is brought to life through engaging infographics.

Crunching the numbers infographic
Crunching the numbers infographic

The ‘1000 Companies’ initiative has tapped the zeitgeist and grown into an influential publication that not only celebrates the success of companies such as drinks firm BrewDog and Matchesfashion.com, but also includes a website, regional cuts of data about the businesses, and a PR campaign that is run by the LSEG team. Versions have also been launched in Europe and Africa.

The Chancellor was joined at the 2018 launch event by David Warren, the LSEG’s Interim CEO, and Nikhil Rathi, CEO, London Stock Exchange Plc. ‘Small and medium-sized enterprises are the heartbeat of our economy,’ says Rathi. ‘They drive jobs and growth, and underpin the UK’s ability to innovate and export.’

1000 Companies UK Snapshot
1000 Companies UK Snapshot

To see our work for LSEG, please click here.

If you would like to talk to us about your marketing, stakeholder or employee communications, please drop us a line: hello@wardour.co.uk

Published May 17, 2018

Event: how to create a killer content campaign

by Wardour – May 10, 2018

Are you missing opportunities to do more with your content?

Everything you produce and distribute – from websites and blogs to your social media output, as well as printed content like newsletters and magazines – has the potential to be part of a bigger campaign that amplifies your message to a wider audience, for longer.

At our upcoming breakfast seminar on Thursday, 7th June 2018 we will share some of the approaches we’ve developed with clients to ensure they’re getting the most from their content. We’ll take our delegates through the entire campaign journey, from identifying purpose and audience, to planning, delivery and measuring engagement.

Joining us will be Lauren Crawley-Moore, Head of Marketing Campaigns and Events at London Stock Exchange Group. Together with Charlotte Tapp, Senior Account Director at Wardour and Ben Barrett, our Creative Director, she will share how, together, we created an external content campaign that delivered outstanding results.

Delegates will leave this seminar with a step-by-step guide to creating compelling content, effective tips for developing their own campaigns, and simple techniques for improving audience engagement.

If you’d like more information, please get in touch: events@wardour.co.uk

Published May 10, 2018

How to think like an influencer

by Wardour – May 03, 2018

Whether you like it or not, influencers are here to stay. It’s impossible to ignore their impact on increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome to a content marketing campaign – especially digital. But, they are just as important in improving the effectiveness of print-based content.

The stats back this up: last year 84% of marketers revealed they planned to launch a campaign featuring influencers in 2018.

But what makes an influencer?

To work successfully with influencers, in B2B or consumer, in print and in digital, it helps to think like one. Here are a few of our insights:

Influencers make an emotional connection

In a blog focusing on the people our team regard as their greatest influence, one of the most moving contributions came from one of our account directors, Charlotte.

She named her father as her greatest influence, adding:

He has offered me support, consistency and unconditional love; this has allowed me the freedom to express myself and achieve. He taught me to treat others as I wish to be treated. So I share my positivity and happiness with others.

Influencers connect with people on an emotional level, and it is this authenticity that reinforces engagement.

Influencers teach us something

From editor Jules, who was inspired by a former politics teacher who encouraged him to broaden his horizons, to designer Johan, who seeks inspiration from leading graphic designers such as Jessica Walsh and Noma Bar, colleagues also named former teachers and professional role models as great influences on their lives.

Influencers teach us something that will have a memorable impact on our lives, no matter how large or small.

Influencers don’t just talk; they listen too

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is one of the most influential voices in the fight against heart disease. That influence is partly informed by the efforts it makes to listen to the people it serves.

We work with the BHF to create Heart Matters – a quarterly print magazine and online content programme, offering articles, animations, videos and interactive tools. Our brief is to inform, inspire and empower people with heart and circulatory conditions.

Heart Matters content is partly informed by a 50-strong Patient Information Panel, set up by the BHF, to seek feedback on the magazine from its readers.

Influencers understand that their success and reach depends on having a two-way conversation with their followers – and taking their followers’ views on board.

Influencers are all about focus

We’ve all heard about macro-influencers – celebrities, bloggers and vloggers with huge social media followings. But in the world of B2B content marketing, working with micro-influencers can help you spread your message to the right people more effectively. That’s because micro-influencers amass smaller, but more engaged and loyal followers.

Take Gemma Godfrey, CEO of Moola, who City AM named the “UK’s most influential fintech expert”. When we wanted to position two of our clients as having an important contribution to make to the fintech debate, featuring Gemma in their respective magazines was a real coup. By sharing that content with her 55,000 loyal Twitter followers, Gemma helped our clients to reach the right audience quickly.

Influencers understand the importance of a focused message.

Influencers appreciate getting something back

Think not what influencers can do for you, but what you can do for influencers.

Every autumn, we conduct a gatefold cover shoot of influencers from the private equity and venture capital industry for the BVCA Journal, which we produce on behalf of the British Venture Capital and Private Equity Association, one of our longstanding clients. We recently conducted similar shoots for the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment, featuring influencers from the worlds of fintech and finance more generally.

While they result in some stunning covers for our clients, these days are a great opportunity for influencers to meet peers, network and promote themselves and their businesses. Building their network is partly how they achieve and maintain their influencer status, which is why anything you can do to help that process along can only be a good thing.

Spending some time engaging with influencers who align with your brand, following their work and updates and sharing with them content that you know they will be interested in, and find relevant to their audiences, will dramatically increase your chances of them sharing and promoting your brand.

Influencers are generous in sharing their reach with others. Giving them something back in return will always be appreciated.

If you’d like to find out more about how you can use influencers in your marketing, get in touch at hello@wardour.co.uk

Published May 03, 2018

Helping Grosvenor turn waste into a talking point

by Wardour – Apr 19, 2018

It’s not easy being green, but it’s becoming ever more important for businesses in all industries to keep their carbon footprint in check.

And if you’re doing it, it’s a message worth sharing with both your staff and your customers.

Research by Global Tolerance in 2015 found that 42% of the UK’s workforce wishes to work for an organisation that has a positive impact on the world, whilst a more recent study from Unilever found 21% of consumers would actively choose to use brands if they made their sustainability credentials clearer.

As part of our work with diversified property group Grosvenor, we recently spent the day with their recycling partner First Mile, and discussed how they are working together to reduce waste across their estate.

You can watch our video below:

If you’re looking to share your story, we can help. Contact us at hello@wardour.co.uk to find out more or call us on: +44(0)20 7010 0999.

Published Apr 19, 2018

A healthier world

by Wardour – Apr 06, 2018

This Saturday marks World Health Day. The event, held annually by the World Health Organization, is dedicated to raising awareness around global health.

To mark the occasion, we’ve collated some of these pieces which consider how we can better look after ourselves and each other.

Heart work

We produce a range of award-winning content for the British Heart Foundation, including a quarterly printed magazine (Heart Matters), regular online articles, interactive infographics and videos. These all focus on how people can take better care of their heart, be that by making healthier lifestyle choices, or by paying closer attention to warning signs they might not know are there. Here are two recent videos that explore the impact fats can have on our bodies and how oral health can affect your heart.

Social change

In our work for the RSA, we produce a quarterly magazine, the RSA Journal which explores a wide range of issues affecting society. It gives influential thinkers a platform to explore how new approaches to a wide range of subjects could change our world for the better.

Last year, Gus O’Donnell, former cabinet secretary, posited that viewing public policy through the lens of wellbeing would save resources and can make the state more efficient. You can read the piece here.

Business boosts

Last year, a big focus fell on mental health. Celebrities and figureheads alike discussed their own battles with depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses. In our work for the Hays Journal, we spoke with Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at mental health charity Mind. Emma discussed how forward-thinking organisations can better support employees with mental health struggles. See what she had to say here.

A better balance

Writing for the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment earlier this year, we considered how many workers find themselves stuck in a pattern where work dominates their life. To help members of the Institute, we put together six tips they could use to find a better work-life balance. You can find out more here.

Published Apr 06, 2018

How to write a great creative content brief

by Wardour – Mar 28, 2018

Here at Wardour, we’re in no doubt that great briefs help create great work. But we also know it can be difficult to decide what to include. To help, we’ve put together our top tips on what it should contain and why:

Think ahead and plan thoroughly

Whether you’re creating an article, a video or a piece of social media, a good place to start is by asking some key questions:

What is the purpose of the piece? Whether it’s to bring in new leads, show thought leadership or provide your customers with a service, the purpose of the piece will affect the tone and style.

Who is it for? Again, the target audience will affect the tone and style of the piece, but will also the affect level of detail needed.

What platform will it be delivered on? This will determine the length of the piece and what extra information might need to be included. For example an online piece might need links to additional material, while print might require a boxout or timeline.

What questions should be answered? This is where you’ll really hone in on what you’d like the piece to address. What would you like your audience to find out by the time they’ve finished looking at the content?

Who should feature in the piece? Sometimes this may include specific people, other briefs will simply indicate what type of contributors are appropriate. For example, an article aimed at executives will probably need comments from executives. One aimed at novices to a subject might only require comment from people working in the area addressed. You should also use this question to clarify any areas you’d like to avoid in the final piece.

• What data is required? For some pieces, data won’t be necessary. For others it is absolutely vital. Either way, your brief should indicate this in advance.

Choose your measures of success

You should also be in agreement from the beginning what the measures of success are. For some clients it might be that a certain number of clicks through to an article is most important. For others it may be to build sales leads. Some may use it as a platform to give a voice to their own clients. Likely it will be a combination of several things and if this is the case, you should be clear about which areas should be prioritised.

Whatever measures you choose, clarity on what they are from the start for all stakeholders is important. Like the questions listed above, they can affect research, writing style and scheduling. Furthermore, clear measures will allow you to monitor what return on investment you have seen from the content.

Build in flexibility

Sometimes the questions we’d like to answer in a brief turn out to be more difficult to address than expected.

A classic example would be Brexit. As such a big news story, it was only natural that almost all our clients wanted to cover it. However, in the days and weeks following the referendum, many commentators were unable or unwilling to answer questions with any degree of certainty. This meant it was necessary to consider different approaches to articles. ‘What does Brexit mean for your business?’ often became ‘What questions on Brexit does your industry need answered?’.

This allowed us to explore what was important in many industries, without the need for contributors to paint themselves into a corner during an uncertain time.

While we’ll always endeavour to meet every point of a brief, it’s often beneficial to be pragmatic – especially when covering subject matter that’s sensitive or in the early stages. Discussing a ‘plan b’ ensures that the content will still be stimulating and interesting, even if certain questions can’t be answered.

While it’s likely that a brief will change to some extent during the creative process, following these steps will give you a solid foundation to start on. If you’d like to see examples of what briefs have worked well in the past, and the work that followed them, get in touch by giving us a call or dropping us a line on: hello@wardour.co.uk

Published Mar 28, 2018

The write stuff!

by Wardour – Mar 20, 2018

For many journalists, writing a novel is a life-long aspiration that seems just slightly out of reach. But not for Content Director Tim Turner and Editor Sophie Mackenzie (who writes under the pen name Sophie Ranald) who have successfully written eight books between them.

Lured by their deep-rooted passion for fiction, Tim and Sophie have added nearly one million words to their literary portfolios. But just how do they go about it?

What initially inspired you to write a book?

Sophie Mackenzie (SM): Writing a novel was always something that I’d wanted to do but the royal wedding in 2011 inspired my first book. All eyes were on Kate and Pippa Middleton, and I asked myself, what if there were two sisters who were very different in terms of their social ambitions.

Tim Turner (TT): I’d wanted to write a novel since I was a teenager and used to write short stories, which progressed to poetry over time. However, after 10 years, I wanted to challenge myself so I began writing a novel.

How did you decide on the premise/characters?

TT: For me, it was a question of asking ‘what would happen if someone like this did something like that?’ There’s a famous French novel called Le Grand Meaulnes, which translates to The Wanderer in English. After reading the book, I got thinking about what would happen if the descendants of the main characters met in modern-day London. This gave me the inspiration for my first book.

SM: I agree with Tim – the starting point is usually a “what if…?” and the characters come from that. Then, for me, it’s a case of applying the ‘headlight method’, which means you know where you’re going, but exactly how you get there becomes clear as you go along. This made sense to me because that’s how I instinctively write.

What technology do you use to help?

TT: I used to just write in Microsoft Word, but for the novel I’m currently working on, I’m using a program called StoryMill that helps to keep track of characters, scenes and word counts, which is really helpful to monitor progress and keep me focused.

SM: Writing is hard! As Dorothy Parker said, “I hate writing. I love having written.” But using software that allows you to write scenes and move them around really helped me – I work in Scrivener.

What was the biggest learning curve?

SM: As a self-published author, learning how to market my books and getting over my reluctance to market myself was probably the biggest learning curve. My journalistic background meant the research requirements and need for 100% accuracy were second nature, but understanding how to target an audience was a new skill to learn.

TT: I really enjoy working out the detail of any book, but when it came to reviewing my own first novel, I realised that I’d included too many characters, which I thought would be off-putting for readers. I had to go back through my work, remove a few characters and give their actions to more important ones.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

SM: I went to hear crime writer Lee Child give a reading and he spoke about how people often commended him on his precision and detail, which they assumed must be the result of his father or equivalent being in the military. However, Lee explained that he had no direct contact with anyone in the military and that a novel doesn’t need to be accurate, just convincing. That really stuck with me.

TT: Learning to trust your own judgement is an important skill. For my first novel, I asked friends for their opinions and felt obliged to take their comments on board. However, by the time I’d written my second book, I’d learned to say no if I didn’t agree with their comments. After all, it was my book and I knew what I wanted to say. For me, I feel that it’s important to write what you want to write, rather than just what an audience wants to read.

Has working at Wardour helped you to write your books?

SM: Being surrounded by so many ideas and different sources of inspiration every day has helped me progress my books. Being constantly exposed to lots of ideas is a real bonus.

TT: Wardour has benefited me in a different way. I place emphasis on attention to detail during the day, so being able to completely imagine a scenario and make things up within my writing is a contrast to my work and something that I really enjoy.

What happens when a book ends?

TT: In some ways it’s a relief, even though you’ve got to know your characters so well. But hopefully, by the time you’ve finished, you’ve got a great idea for the next book and a whole new set of characters to invent.

SM: I miss my characters once a book is complete. I think about them frequently and often consider how real-life situations would affect them.

Will we see more from you?

SM: I’ve completed the first draft of my sixth novel. It’s the second in a series of four books.

TT: I’ve just finished the first draft of my fourth novel – although I’m not sure on the release date yet.

To find out more, or to buy a book you can find Tim’s here or Sophie’s here!

Published Mar 20, 2018

Under the influence

by Wardour – Mar 15, 2018

Recently, we’ve been thinking and talking a lot about the value of influencers in communications. So this seemed like a good time to ask the members of the Wardour team who they regard as their greatest influence.

We deliberately left the question open so that people could interpret it in whatever way came naturally to them. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many thought immediately of someone who had inspired them professionally. In the design team, Johan Shufiyan named graphic designers Jessica Walsh and Noma Bar (we’ve been lucky enough to interview the latter for the Hays Journal); Ben Barrett namechecked Alan Fletcher, and particularly his seminal book The Art of Looking Sideways; and video editor Sam Evans highlighted Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, the controversial Swedish web-based comedian and video producer, who “started off with nothing and built an audience of 60 million people through hard work, dedication and patience. His work ethic is something that motivates me on a daily basis.”

Alex Weaver’s inspiration was both professional and personal: his grandfather. “Richard J Weaver worked at design company Ogilvy & Mather for 30 years, so I was introduced to creative thinking early on via a library of design books which he had accumulated over the years,” he explains. “These books opened my mind to thinking creatively, while looking through years of his packaging work began my own exploration of photography, art and design.”

Family members are, naturally, a strong influence namechecked by several people. Charlotte Tapp’s heartfelt tribute to her father is worth quoting here: “He has offered me support, consistency and unconditional love; this has allowed me the freedom to express myself and achieve. He taught me to treat others as I wish to be treated. So I share my positivity and happiness with others.”

The other body of people who influence us in our formative years are our teachers, and several colleagues shared fond memories. For example, Jules Gray was inspired by a politics teacher “who encouraged me to read around the subject and become genuinely interested in it, rather than just sticking strictly to the syllabus to pass the exams. He bought me books that he thought I’d find interesting (not even on the subject he taught me), persevered and showed the patience of a saint.”

And Eila Madden has fond memories of John Foscolo, who taught the Postgraduate Diploma in Newspaper Journalism at Cardiff University’s School of Journalism: “Everyone was afraid and in awe of John at the same time. He was fierce in his criticism and we all dreaded seeing his red scrawl all over our copy, but he valued good journalism above all else. Getting the seal of approval from him was a big achievement.”

But influence can come in all sorts of guises. Bethan Rees says she has been influenced by Prince’s boundary-defying life and career, while Middlesbrough fan Stephen Holroyd owes his early enthusiasm for journalism to Bernie Slaven, a clinical striker who played for the club in the early 90s. He explains: “He was a goalscorer extraordinaire and a player about whom I would often write faux news reports while pretending to cover the game for one of the nationals.”

So there you have it; from relatives to rock stars, from teachers and lecturers to artists and writers, we all acknowledge the influencers who have had an effect on the people we are today. And the fascinating thing is that there are doubtless others who have had an influence on us without us even being aware of it.

If you are interested in finding out more about the various ways your brand can benefit from working with influencers, or how to approach influencer marketing in general, drop us a line at: hello@wardour.co.uk

Published Mar 15, 2018

Top 5 content marketing trends you need to focus on this year

by Wardour – Mar 09, 2018

Published Mar 09, 2018

Celebrating International Women’s Day

by Wardour – Mar 08, 2018

We’re lucky enough to talk to many inspiring women all around the world in all of our projects and we’re proud to share their stories.

So to mark the day itself, here are just a few of those that we have interviewed in recent months:

Boosts to security

Since joining the Biometrics Institute in 2002, CEO Isabelle Moeller has grown membership from 10 to over 230 organisations, and made it “the place to go to learn and know about biometrics”. Last October, the Security industry Association recognised Isabelle’s contribution to the sector by naming her one of five winners of the 2017 Women in Biometrics Awards. We recently interviewed Isabelle for Gemalto’s The Review. See our video interview with her here.

Leading light

Stella Cox is one of the leading lights in the Islamic finance world. In February 2017, Islamic Finance Review ranked her number one in a top ten list of Women in Islamic Finance and Banking, and in June 2016 she was awarded a CBE for services to the economy and for championing the development of Islamic finance in the UK. We featured her in the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment’s The Review.

Lifesaving research

Chemotherapy can cause heart failure. For this video, made for the BHF, we met Dr Kerstin Timm, a BHF-funded researcher looking to prevent this terrible side effect, and Philippa, who is living with heart failure after a course of chemotherapy.

Calls for change

Amanda Spielman, Head of Ofsted (or HM Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills to give her full title), was interviewed for a recent issue of The RSA Journal. She discussed how the inspectorate can bring about a strategic shift in schools, ensuring that good grades don’t come at the expense of a real education.

Award-winning

Gemalto’s Aline Gouget was awarded the 2017 Irène Joliot-​​Cur​ie Prize by the French Academies of Science and Technology for her work in advanced cryptography and its industrial application. We interviewed her for /review and she told us about her varied career, which has also encompassed academic research and running a start-up, and her efforts to inspire more women to take up careers in technology.

As a team, we look forward to celebrating women and their achievements throughout the year, not just on International Women’s Day.

Published Mar 08, 2018

Hey Siri, will voice search change content marketing?

by Gareth Francis – Mar 01, 2018

It’s becoming increasingly common to hear: “Alexa, play The Rolling Stones” or “Siri, what’s the weather like tomorrow?” already and by 2020, ComScore predicts half of all internet searches will be made through speech recognition systems.

So how can you make the most of voice search in your content marketing? Here are four tips to get you started.

Question everything

Search engine optimisation of content has been already been affecting headline writing for years, but voice search systems add a new layer of complexity to this.

While finding the perfect pun is still often appropriate for print, it will become more important than ever to consider what people will be searching for using speech and, specifically, what questions they might ask. Expect to see more question and answer articles.

The end of key words?

Where once you would have focused on head key words, you’ll need to include more complete phrasing known as long tail key words.

For example, where once we may have written “content marketing trends”, voice search might change that to “what are the most important content marketing trends this year?”

Be specific

Creating more content relating specifically to each area of your business will be key. Think about it, if you were talking to a friend and needed advice on your pension, you would say “I need advice on my pension” not “I need advice from a financial planner”.

Be conversational

Businesses will also have to revisit their tone of voice, potentially ditching formality. People are talking to their operating systems using the same phrases they would if they were talking to a person. Expect to see a rise in conversational writing styles, particularly as the systems become more advanced and better cater for accents and dialects.

Published Mar 01, 2018

Using audience feedback to create award-winning content marketing

by Rachael Healy – Feb 22, 2018

Identifying reader needs is key in our work with the British Heart Foundation (BHF), where the print and digital content we create could have a direct impact on the health and wellbeing of readers. We do all the obvious analytics work to test whether and how our digital output hits the mark, and combine it with the results of an issue-by-issue survey of the print magazine. This provides great insight, allowing us to see which topics are consistently popular and where we could do more to engage readers.

But the BHF, the nation’s leading heart charity, has gone even further, setting up a group of 50 heart patients who give feedback on Heart Matters and all other patient information materials, including booklets and web pages. For Heart Matters, they not only provide valuable opinions on published pieces, but also work with us to decide what topics and issues to cover in future.

“At the BHF we believe that listening to patients helps us improve our work,” says Sarah Brealey, Heart Matters editor at the BHF. “We set up the Patient Information Panel to give us real patient insight into Heart Matters magazine and the other patient information resources we produce. Because these resources are designed to inform and support patients, it makes complete sense that we learn from patients about how we can make them better.”

We work with the BHF to create Heart Matters – a quarterly print magazine and online content programme, offering articles, animations, videos and interactive tools. Our brief is to inform, inspire and empower people with heart and circulatory conditions, so it’s crucial we ask our audience what they need and listen carefully to their replies.

We get the opportunity to meet the Patient Information Panel in person and share editorial ideas with its members. We discuss whether they would find specific articles, animations or videos interesting, inspirational or empowering.

And once we’ve hit on a popular idea, we can probe around the common questions or misconceptions and address them to ensure our audience gets the most out of an article or animation.

Engaging with our readers is helping us take Heart Matters from strength to strength. In the past 12 months our efforts have been recognised with awards for Best Membership Magazine and Best Microsite from the IOIC, and Best Branded Content Publication at the Corporate Content awards. We’ve also attracted 80,000 (and growing!) views on Heart Matters animations and videos, with above-average viewer retention, and consistently great feedback on quarterly reader surveys.

But we know there’s always room for improvement, so we’ll continue to be influenced by Heart Matters readers in 2018.

To find out more about how you can use audience feedback to improve your content marketing, contact us at: hello@wardour.co.uk

Published Feb 22, 2018

Wardour strikes gold at Corporate Content Awards

by Tim Turner – Feb 14, 2018

Winning two gold awards was the highlight of a successful night for Wardour at the inaugural Corporate Content Awards.

The company’s work with Barclays on digital employee publication My Globe was recognised with the gold award for ‘Best content targeted to the internal audience’. The judges praised My Globe’s “clever and engaging approach, which humanises a challenging industry”.

Meanwhile, Heart Matters, which Wardour produces for the British Heart Foundation (BHF), was named ‘Best branded content publication’. Indeed, the citation calls Heart Matters “the gold standard of branded content publications”, with the judges describing it as “authentic, original, impartial and people-focused”.

Those weren’t the only Wardour wins on the night, though. In total, the company won seven awards, the remainder being:

  • Silver for the Gemalto magazine The Review in ‘Best branded content publication’
  • Silver for the BHF’s Heart Matters in ‘Best use of print’
  • Silver for the Entrepreneur Club app and microsite developed for St. James’s Place in ‘Best use of data’
  • Bronze for Hays Journal in ‘Best branded content publication’
  • Highly Commended for the Gemalto content microsite /review in ‘Best branded content site’

The awards recognise Wardour’s excellence in creative content, corporate storytelling and communications. The Corporate Content Awards benchmark the use of narrative to engage corporate audiences across owned, earned and bought media. Held at the Victory Services Club in central London, the 2018 event welcomed attendees from a variety of organisations and agencies.

Claire Oldfield, Wardour’s Managing Director, said: “We’re delighted to win so many trophies at these inaugural awards, and across a range of disciplines, both in print and online. We describe ourselves as an agency with content at our heart, and we’re immensely proud of the content we create for all our clients. Pleasing them is our priority, but it’s always extremely gratifying when the quality of our work is recognised by industry experts.”

For further information, please contact Teodora Rousseva at teodora.rousseva@wardour.co.uk

Published Feb 14, 2018

Influencing the influencers

by Jules Gray – Feb 09, 2018

Every October, the British Venture Capital Association (BVCA), one of our longstanding clients, gathers the great and the good of the UK venture capital and private equity industry, and some of the country’s top entrepreneurs, for its annual summit.

In the run-up to the BVCA Summit, we dedicate an issue of the BVCA Journal to some of these figures with a special gatefold cover. It includes a photoshoot with around eight industry influencers and a series of interviews.

Unsurprisingly, even with the spectre of the summit looming, attempting to get multiple industry leaders in one room at the same time is usually pretty tricky.

But there is always a way! More often than not it is about coming up with a compelling theme that ensures busy people are keen to have their voice heard. The theme of last year’s photoshoot and interviews was ‘revolutionaries’, with the BVCA keen to promote firms and individuals shaking up the private equity and venture capital industry.

These included Debbie Wosskow, the pioneering entrepreneur and founder of the AllBright venture capital fund, which exclusively backs female entrepreneurs. We persuaded Wosskow to join seven other influencers including Mauro Moretti, founder and managing partner of Three Hills Capital Partners, a development capital firm that backed Byron Burgers, and Anna Hyde, partner and investment manager at early-stage tech fund Bethnal Green Ventures.

Added value

The content package that resulted gave the BVCA an opportunity to showcase some of the industry’s big influencers, as well as previewing a lot of the discussion points for the Summit. Indeed, those attending have helped influence the way deals are structured, start-ups are funded, and entrepreneurs are backed, providing dynamism to one of the UK’s key financial sectors.

For those taking part in the photoshoot, the day is a great opportunity to meet peers, network, and promote themselves and their businesses. On the day, they shared views on the state of the market, and several exchanged business cards. They also seemed to enjoy the chance to get out of the office and have professional photographs taken (one was so pleased with their shots that they asked for copies to show to their wife!).

And for us, the feature provides the opportunity to do something a little different for the Journal and find interesting locations for the shoot. In this case, art director Colin Wilson found a stunning former buckle factory in Seven Sisters, North London, to use, which provided a great backdrop for the main shot.

Find out more about the BVCA here.

Published Feb 09, 2018

The value of influencers

by Gareth Francis – Feb 02, 2018

JK Rowling, Zoella and Donald Trump have one thing in common: they are influencers. Whilst not everyone can achieve the national or international reach of this trio, the power of influencers is increasing across into every area of business.

In the marketing world influencers – particularly those with a niche expertise –are offering a solution for brands that are looking to gain a wider exposure for their messages. They are attractive because they have built up an organic following by displaying their expertise on a subject through their writing, social media posts, videos or podcasts. They deliver the authenticity brands look for.

Whereas audiences are savvy to out-and-out celebrity endorsements, influencers will often have greater sway on the opinions. That’s why you should consider using them as part of your marketing strategy.

Last year we spoke to Gemma Godfrey, CEO of Moola, for the Chartered Institute of Securities & Investment’s The Review. Labelled by City AM as the “UK’s most influential fintech expert”, Gemma is a great advocate for the engagement influencers can offer in the world of finance. As an active social media user, she has amassed a Twitter following of over 55,000.

And, while a large social media following can be a sign of influence, sometimes niche expertise communicated to engaged communities can be just as valuable, offering extremely targeted reach.

These influencers are likely to push your material on social media channels, and while they may have a lower number of followers than a celebrity, their audience will often be more relevant, loyal and trusting of their opinions, and therefore more likely to engage.

Their perceived authenticity will also reflect well on your brand. When an audience sees a trusted influencer in your publication, they are more likely to see the rest of your content as authoritative and interesting.

Over the next few months we’ll be looking at some of the ways influencers can be built into a marketing strategy effectively, from getting a group of influencers to work together on one piece of content, to taking influence from your audience.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the various ways your brand can benefit from working with influencers, drop us a line at: hello@wardour.co.uk

Published Feb 02, 2018

Great debates

by Rosalie Starling – Jan 23, 2018

The Debating Matters Beyond Bars project is a pioneering debating initiative launched by G4S in partnership with the Institute of Ideas, hosted at HM Prison Birmingham.

Based on the Institute of Ideas’ existing schools debating competition, the ground-breaking project saw prisoners of all ages and backgrounds team up to engage in debate on a range of social, political and cultural topics, including role models, space exploration, secular society and privacy online.

Designed to make the prisoners think more broadly about issues affecting the outside world, the project also helps to improve skills vital for future employability – several local employers are invited to watch the event along with friends and family – and boost confidence.

Filming the competition came with many logistical challenges due to the tight schedule and high levels of security, but the final video is a great overview of an admirable and important project, for both G4S and the national prison system.

“Doing anything new in prisons is quite a difficult process,” says Pamela Dow, Chief Reform Officer at Catch 22, former Director of Strategy at the Ministry of Justice and Debating Matters judge, who worked with the Institute of Ideas to launch the project.

“But we have to stop seeing prisons as an ‘other’ public service that taxpayers or voters don’t care about. We should be holding them to the same standards as our schools and our hospitals.

“G4S and HMP Birmingham were the first ones to take the risk to help us hold Debating Matters Beyond Bars – and I can’t think of a more pro-social activity.”

You can watch our video, or find out more about the initiative here.

Published Jan 23, 2018

Five ways to create great infographics

by Rachael Healy – Dec 22, 2017

We recently attended a masterclass on the design form hosted by purveyors of slow journalism Delayed Gratification. The indie mag is well known for its intricate infographics, exploring topics as diverse as UK love songs, the lexicon of politicians, phone hacking and chickens.

Editor Marcus set out the definitive five types of infographic. It got us thinking – we’ve produced so many infographics over the years, we must have some great examples that fit into each category.

1 Illustrative

The Renewi Annual Report offers employees and investors a snapshot of what’s been going on in the business. As a waste management company with a focus on recycling, Renewi was keen to show the ‘waste to product’ cycle – but in a clear, interesting way. Items at each stage of the process are shown as simple illustrations and colour-coded to indicate their place in the cycle.

2 Proportional

We used proportionally sized figures to display data from a survey about women and heart disease for the British Heart Foundation’s Heart Matters microsite. Although heart disease kills a similar number of men and women each year, it’s often perceived as a male problem. We helped debunk this by connecting the data to friendly figures. It’s an interactive infographic, so head to the site to get the most out of it.

3 Map

It’s clear to see that the bulk of private equity and venture capital investment still goes to London companies, thanks to this smart map from the BVCA Journal. The BVCA commissions a lot of research about the venture capital industry – it’s impossible to fit it all into the journal, so we help them display key findings in a visually engaging way.

4 Timeline

Although this timeline for the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment’s The Review magazine deals with a specialist subject matter, any reader could learn more about financial regulators thanks to its clear graphics and colour coding. At a glance, it’s interesting to see that takeovers and mergers regulation has barely changed in 25 years, while a pensions regulator didn’t even exist until 1995!

5 List

This online infographic for Gemalto’s /review microsite shows the journey from airport check-in to boarding your place, using biometric technology. Simple illustrations reveal each step of the process and how it could allow you to skip the queues.

We’d love to hear from you if you are looking to produce an infographic or you’re wondering which style would work best for your audience. Drop us a line at: hello@wardour.co.uk

Published Dec 22, 2017

Future perfect?

by Tim Turner – Dec 12, 2017

If you want to sound impressively futuristic, it helps to have a few acronyms to throw around. Thus, the first speaker at the recent BIMA Breakfast Briefing on ‘The Top Tech Trends That Really Matter For 2018’, Luciana Carvalho Se of REWIND, talked not just about VR (virtual reality) but also AR (augmented reality) and MR (mixed reality) – and Microsoft has apparently lodged a patent for something called DR (direct reality, which is surely just, um, reality). The next presentation, by Guy Armitage of Zealous, was on AI (artificial intelligence), and then Matt Bush of Google UK let the side down by failing to come up with an acronym for voice search.

It gradually became clear that, while VR, AI and voice search are widely regarded as representing the future of marketing – not to mention many other fields – there are issues with all of them. VR causes motion sickness in a significant proportion of users (particularly female ones); AI brings with it a host of ethical issues, from the use of data to the potential for sentient computers to take over the world, as predicted by no less a figure than Stephen Hawking; and, while many people have become accustomed to asking Siri or Alexa to perform tasks in the home, they are more self-conscious about using voice-activated search in public places.

For these reasons, among others, none of these technologies has yet become truly mainstream. Karen Boswell of Adam&EveDDB suggested in her wide-ranging presentation that they will all gain traction in 2018, along with a host of other innovations, from blockchain to 3D printing. But to break out of the ‘coming soon’ bracket, a technology needs a killer app. As Carvalho Se pointed out, the Pokémon Go phenomenon of 2016 threatened to be just that for AR, and a similar game involving Harry Potter, due out next year, could push it over the top.

In the meantime, all agreed that marketers need to stay focused when dealing with new technology. Carvalho Se talked about clients who ask for ‘a VR thing’, while Armitage pointed out that “90% of the time, if someone says it’s AI, it probably isn’t”. For marketers, the key is to define the purpose of the campaign and then use the appropriate medium to tell the story that needs telling – just as it always has been.

At the end of a headspinning hour of talks that covered far more possibilities (both exciting and worrying) than there is space to mention here, this was the main takeaway for me: the technology, however clever, must always be used for a purpose, and not just for its own sake.

Published Dec 12, 2017

Why it pays to mention your brand in your own content

by Eila Madden – Dec 05, 2017

Here at Wardour, we see a range of approaches, from actively minimising brand mentions to being a central voice in the narrative.

Recently, we came across a piece of research from BBC Worldwide’s content marketing arm, StoryWorks, which brings some interesting data to the debate.

A 2016 study found that readers experienced heightened emotional engagement with a piece of content marketing when it was clearly branded.

In particular, when looking at the various emotional responses readers had to the content, levels of rejection were above average when the content carried no branding and below average when the content was clearly branded.

The study found that two-thirds of readers were happy to read the content as long as it was clear which brand it was presented by.

A 2017 update to the study found that when content was clearly branded, there was a 25% uplift in the number of people who understood and could recall the content.

So while some brands may shy away from appearing in their own content for fear that it’s too much of a hard sell and will turn readers off, it seems that readers appreciate a more transparent approach.

There are plenty of ways to ‘own’ your content while retaining its editorial integrity.

1. Put your own experts up for comment

Your people are your USP. Use your subject specialists as expert voices in your own content. Their thoughts and opinions are the unique contribution that you bring to the conversation. Readers won’t be able to get this from anywhere else. One note of warning though – only use them if they have something interesting to say!

2. Invite independent commentators to join the debate

Being a voice in your content is great; being the only voice isn’t. As with a piece of editorial you’d find in an independent title, invite a variety of expert voices to contribute to your content. And don’t be afraid to include opinions that might not chime with your own. Being a facilitator of frank and open debate can only add to your brand integrity and credibility.

3. Show, don’t tell

Telling readers about your expertise is a turn off. Showing readers your expertise in action is infinitely more interesting, and useful, to your audience. Client case studies are a brilliant way of doing this. Everyone loves a good story and if it’s about a peer facing similar challenges to their own, readers are much more likely to take notice. If your clients are happy to talk about the role you played in their success, all the better.

There are plenty of other ways you can build trust amongst your readers. If you’re interested in learning more, get in touch at: clients@wardour.co.uk

Published Dec 05, 2017

Why you should consider using a content marketing agency

by Lucy Buck – Sep 20, 2017

Since joining the account management team six months ago from a large global advisory company, I’ve noticed a few differences in how things are done at Wardour (aside from being able to wear trainers in the office and having access to an increasingly wide range of herbal teas).

There are five reasons why our clients choose us, and keep coming back to us:

1.We are the experts

We’re not just account managers, editors and designers. We’re a team made up of journalists, consultants, marketing strategists, project managers, web developers, video editors, illustrators, authors, animators… the list goes on. Our collective experience means that we are a diverse bunch, each with our own specialism.

2. We have done it before

Although we continuously evolve our approach, the part that stays consistent is our knowledge: we know what works and what doesn’t. And that’s because we’ve done it before. Whether it’s a quarterly newsletter, a website revamp or a social media strategy, we’ve done it for companies just like yours, in industries just like yours, going through challenges (you guessed it) just like yours.

3. We take risks…

…so that you don’t have to. We understand that some clients like to play a little safer than others, but our role as a creative agency is to push you outside of your natural habitat. We may choose a headline that’s slightly off-piste, or an image that takes a bit of getting used to, but you can rest assured – we know what we’re doing.

4. We make it happen

What struck me during my first few weeks at Wardour was the speed at which things are turned around here. We have dedicated client teams – designers who know the brand, editors who know the tone of voice, account managers who know the client – meaning we’re well equipped to deliver quality work in a short space of time.

5. We always put you first

We take pride in working with our clients, not just for our clients. The best client relationships are collaborative; we want our clients to feel as though we are an extension of their in-house team – whether that means being on the end of the phone, giving a gentle nudge so we don’t miss a deadline, or popping in for a coffee to talk through the next quarter’s content.

If you’re interested in working with Wardour or want to find out a little more about what we do, drop us a line at: hello@wardour.co.uk.

Published Sep 20, 2017

What goes into delivering a successful animation?

by Matt Goodenday – Sep 11, 2017

Whilst it is easy to judge the quality of an animation primarily on its creative execution, the process by which it is delivered is just as important.

Here are some of the key stages in delivering an animation…

1) The schedule

It is essential that timings are agreed right from the get go. The nature of an animation means few activities can be done in tandem so it’s important that these are mapped out and that everyone is clear about what the deadlines are.

The script cannot start until the brief is agreed, the animation cannot be produced until the script and storyboard are signed off, and so on and so forth…

2) The creative brief

Perhaps the single, most important stage in the development of an animation (and any creative project for that matter) is the creative brief. This stage ensures that all parties understand what is required and should rule out any potential confusion (avoiding unwanted surprises later on in the project).

The brief should clearly outline what the animation aims to do, the important key messages, what tone of voice it needs to have and what visual guidelines it needs to follow. No work should begin until this is agreed as everything will be based on it!

3) The script and storyboard

In an ideal world, the script would be signed off (whether it be for a voiceover or simply on-screen text), then the storyboard would be created subsequently. However, often time pressures mean that both will need to be created together. The important thing however is that everything is being done within the agreed timeline and any potential impacts to the schedule are communicated.

The storyboard should show the visuals frame by frame and clearly explain how the different elements will move and transition between one another. This needs to be right… If it isn’t, then neither will the finished piece! (Think of it as the blueprint for the animation.) Therefore, it is important that this is agreed before moving on to the next stage.

4) The production

If all of the previous stages have been done correctly, then this will be the easiest part of the project. The animation should be created in a way that follows exactly what’s on the [agreed] storyboard. If time permits then the VO would be recorded before production begins so that the animation can be synced to it (or if lucky enough to be in the perfect scenario described above, record it whilst storyboarding is taking place).

5) The delivery

The things to consider at this stage include: is the final file in the correct format (.MOV vs .MP4)? Is it in the correct size? Last but not least, have all the technical requirements been met?

Going through all of these stages in a robust way, with regular communication and making sure deadlines are met to everyone’s best ability, will mean that everyone gets an animation that they were expecting and that they are happy with.

And, if you happen to be looking for the perfect agency partner for one of your upcoming animation projects, feel free to drop us a line at: hello@wardour.co.uk

Published Sep 11, 2017

What exactly goes into building a website?

by Rosalie Starling – Aug 23, 2017

In a world where digital is king and people spend a large amount of their time online – Ofcom’s Communications Market Report 2016 reckons we spend 25 hours a week plugged in – a decent website is one of the most important investments a company can make. And a bog-standard one just won’t do anymore.

More consumers and businesses are making decisions based on their online experience, meaning appearance, content and usability are more important than ever. A website is an extension of a business and its staff, a chance to highlight values and show off unique offerings. It can help to generate media interest, enhance a brand and open a company up to more local and global business – the list goes on!

Here at Wardour we understand the power of a website – that’s why we put our all into building a site that meets a company’s every need – and this year we’ve been working on some particularly special projects.

First up is one of our longstanding clients Royal London. Last year they asked us if we could create a members hub, promoting the benefits of Royal London membership and housing valuable, stimulating content ranging from insightful articles to videos and animations.

The challenge? As the hub couldn’t sit on the main company site for development reasons, we were tasked with creating a separate microsite that seamlessly blended with the existing one in terms of branding and style, but that still retained its own identity. Challenge accepted.

We spent months working on logistics, planning, content strategy and segmentation, design concepts and development to come up with the perfect solution: an engaging, colourful and user-friendly microsite. Check it out here.

Next in line was Kayrros, an energy sector data provider who came to us earlier this year for help with refining their brand and developing a new company website.

As a recent start-up with a truly unique offering – tracking data along the entire energy supply chain – and input from the biggest names in the industry, they needed a site that would position them as both a disruptor and an authority. Again, another challenge accepted by the team.

The next few weeks were spent on brand consultancy, establishing the company’s offering, content creation and key messaging, researching imagery, conducting photo shoots, and working on design, layout, navigation and development. With so many employees providing input, based in countries around the world, we had to work incredibly quickly, responsively and collaboratively at every stage of the process.

But it all paid off in the end. The result was a sleek, energy-focused design with simple, accessible site navigation that truly lets the messaging speak for itself. Take a look for yourself.

If you’re looking to improve or overhaul your website offering, enhance your brand and make a real impression online, we’d love to help you. Get in touch at: hello@wardour.co.uk.

Published Aug 23, 2017

Video Marketing Is Here To Stay

by Jennifer Flower – Aug 14, 2017

The rise of online video has been stratospheric over the past decade. In fact, Youtube is the second most popular social network in the world. It’s now an accessible and important medium for all content providers, not least of all in marketing where it can be an effective tool to boost brand awareness, lead generation and online engagement.

Video marketing has also rocketed in popularity, with more and more businesses across all sectors reaping its rewards. This trend has advanced quickly and new developments are no doubt set to allow companies to reach new heights with video content.

With the introduction of ‘Live video’ from Facebook last year, brands are now able to reach their target audience instantly. This means companies can be reactive and responsive to news and events affecting the public. This improves the connection and interaction companies are able to build with their audience.

Emotion can be demonstrated more easily through video. This can help improve levels of engagement, and accordingly, they receive a great level of interaction. Furthermore, they are effortlessly shared via social media and can instantly change or re-enforce customers’ perception of a brand. And when it comes to search engine optimization, Google loves video. In fact, ‘you’re 53 times more likely to show up first on Google if you have a video embedded on your website’*, while visitors spend more time on websites too. This shows search engines that a site has good content.

So how can you get the most out of your video content? The most successful videos are entertaining, informative and often inspirational. Many viewers don’t have long attention spans so keep your videos short and to the point. Ask questions. People need to know why they are watching and what they are going to get out of your video.

Give it an exclusive ‘feel’. Videos need to feel personable and the audience wants to feel they are receiving a privileged insight into a certain aspect of your brand, whether it be a behind the scenes look, an interview or a live event.

Next, make the most of the emotive power of video by appealing to your consumers’ needs and make sure your audience can easily share your video on social media.

Finally, be ready for change. As a medium, video marketing is still evolving and developing further. Having an appropriate strategy in place can hugely benefit your business and put you ahead of the competition, but be sure to keep up with trends.

Just in case you need someone to help put your ideas in a form that both employees and potential clients will understand, engage with and find interesting, you can drop us a line at: hello@wardour.co.uk

*Source: https://www.moovly.com/blog/4-great-reasons-you-should-use-video-marketing

Published Aug 14, 2017

Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads

by Stephen Holroyd – Aug 09, 2017

In a world of grazeable, character-limited content, longform journalism has arguably never been more important. Snappy listicles, sharp infographics and eye-catching tweets all have their own, very important place of course, but offering a more considered, thought-provoking (and thought-leading) read – one that embraces the power of storytelling – should be considered as a part of any self-respecting content marketing mix.

Having first launched a longform, multimedia microsite for Gemalto back in Spring 2015 – then focusing on the impressive e-credentials of the tiny Balkan state of Estonia – our second project set out to explore the brave new world of connected cars and autonomous vehicles. Everything from the impact on car ownership and how we get around, to security, parking, payment and even the way cities are built has been put under the lens.

The automotive industry is changing – fast. After a century of slow progression, during which cars had barely evolved from the first Model T, advancements in technology and disruptive new players have shaken things up.

Through extended storytelling, eye-catching imagery and video, this automotive revolution is brought to life in striking digital form.

Projects of this nature don’t happen overnight of course, they have long gestation periods that are often fraught with ups and downs. But that’s precisely when tight project management, close client liaison, teamwork, quick thinking and creativity all come to the fore. Not to mention a passion for the task at hand.

All of these are traits in abundance at Wardour, and the sight of the Road to revolution: from connected cars to new mobility microsite finally emerging from the parking lot and hitting the streets last month is testament to the agility of all our departments: be it editorial, design and production, account management and our expert in-house video and coding teams.

The result is a microsite that draws on rich contributions from across the globe – including video shoots and interviews from as far afield as Gothenburg, Paris, Seattle and Cheltenham (guess who got the Cheltenham gig!)

Logistically, the project has been challenging. Editorially, it has involved myriad contributions, edits, re-edits and yet further edits, and from a design perspective it has tasked us to create an aesthetic and a user experience to equal the extended thinking involved with the subject matter itself.

But by taking the essence of one of the most ancient forms of content marketing – storytelling – we’ve been able to go back to the future.

If you’d like to find out more, or understand how we can help you, drop us a line at hello@wardour.co.uk or call us on: +44(0)20 7010 0999.

Published Aug 09, 2017

A magazine by numbers

by Jack Morgan, Production Manager – Jul 18, 2017

Here at Wardour, we always endeavour to produce our best work on every project. That means that our job doesn’t end with design and copy being signed off.

Quality control is maintained throughout the process, including working closely with our printers to look at publications as they are being produced.

From checking the correct paper is being used, monitoring the finish on the pages, to ensuring it is packaged correctly; we keep a close eye on each step of the printing process.

I recently attended a press pass on behalf of British Heart Foundation, to check on the production of the latest issue of the award-winning Heart Matters.

With over 305,000 copies of the magazine printing each quarter, here are some facts and figures to show exactly what goes in to every issue:

The paper used for Heart Matters weighs 63 tonnes, the equivalent of eight old Routemaster buses

The paper reels used are 870mm wide, and would reach 740km in length if unwound. That would be long enough to reach from London to Geneva

The ink weighs 2.5 tonnes, the same as 2,576 litres of red wine

The wire needed to stitch the spine measures 15,000 metres in length. To put it in perspective, the combined height of Mount Everest and Mount Kilimanjaro is only 14,743 metres

If you are looking to improve the quality of your publication (or in fact considering a change), we’d love to have a chat about the kind of highly relevant content that would work best for your organisation. Drop us a line at: hello@wardour.co.uk

Published Jul 18, 2017

From concept to cover

by Jules Gray – Jul 10, 2017

For one of our longstanding clients, the British Venture Capital Association (BVCA), we produce a quarterly magazine, the BVCA Journal, which goes to all of the association’s members.

On the cover of the latest issue, we featured Digital Catapult, a government-backed accelerator that aims to help transform many of the UK’s new tech start-ups into the next big digital giant. Focusing on two areas – digital manufacturing and the creative industries – Digital Catapult is assisting smaller firms to grow faster, while aiding larger businesses to adopt new technologies more rapidly.

It’s not an easy message to communicate in one, striking image but Art Director Colin Wilson rose to the challenge. We caught up with him to find out how.

What’s unique about this particular client?

One of the great things about working for the BVCA Journal is the covers. The client loves conceptual covers and loves illustration, which is a dream for designers! This cover for the summer issue was a particularly great one to work with.

Talk us through the creative thought process that got you from the ideas brainstorm to the end result.

As always we have a brainstorming session to come up with ideas for the cover. Nick Doyle, Senior Designer at Wardour, and I sat together after reading the copy and worked through many ideas. Some great, some awful! However, we kept coming back to the same concept of the catapult.

What was the most challenging aspect of this brief and why did you decide to go for a literal visual interpretation?

The problem was how could you catapult the British digital economy? How about making up a digital pound symbol, made out of a circuit board, and flying it up in the air?

In steps Joshua Mowll, an illustrator I have worked with for many years. In fact, he used to be my junior when we both did a previous job, although he will probably deny this!

You chose Joshua for the job because of his experience as a CGI illustrator. Tell us about his work and why he was the right person for this commission.

Whilst Josh was great (and still is) at 2D graphics, he decided to branch out into CGI illustration, learning to use software such as V-Ray and Blender to produce some absolutely stunning work. I knew this job would be perfect for him. We sent him a visual Nick and I drew out and he turned the finished illustration round in five days…not just the cover but the spread inside, where the pound sign is flying through the air!

What do you love most about the finished cover?

I knew the illustration was going to look good when I received an email from Josh at 11.27pm saying he was having to draw the circuit board from scratch so he could wrap it around the £ sign.

I love the finished cover, it is a strong illustration that instantly tells you what the piece is about.

We have many more case studies we can share with you in person. If this has caught your interest, please get in touch at hello@wardour.co.uk

Published Jul 10, 2017

How to make your content future-ready

by Emma Fisher, Tim Turner, Teodora Rousseva, Stephen Holroyd, Matt Goodenday – Jul 06, 2017

Understanding how audiences find content in the digital era is a good place to start. Here are six things you need to be doing:

1. Create search results

By now, it should be a truth universally acknowledged that your audience usually navigates your website via Google – simply because it’s easier. There is a point for arguing that in some cases this is beneficial – building brand authority is about allowing your customer to sometimes find the right answer through Google. In a world where the consumer needs answers imminently, the art of creating search results and personalised content that addresses very specific questions is ever more important.

2. Make friends with Siri

Voice is becoming increasingly important in online search – a point strongly emphasised at BIMA’s breakfast briefing earlier this week on the Rise of Automation. Predictions that ‘50% of searches will be voice searches by 2020’ come as no surprise when voice search is, in some cases, easier than manual typing. It’s worth noting, though, that voice assistants won’t always understand you because of nuances in diction, pronunciation, etc. That said, the rise of voice assistants means that search is increasingly becoming a conversation and your website’s content should focus on surfacing the right answers.

3. Get noticed by the machines

Machine learning is already being put to use and only the most engaging content survives. Targeted advertising is not only enabled but encouraged by digital billboard advertising that rotates. Not to mention, more targeted advertising can rotate more often, allowing operators to sell more ads. The advance of technology means that we are already able to read people’s reactions and emotions when they view a particular ad.

4. Get hyper-personal

In a time of too much content spread across too many channels, we need atomised content that is adaptive, structured and specific. Adapted content is detailed, time-specific, platform-specific, hyper tailored and hyper personalised. It’s about creating multiple reusable/repurposable pieces of content from one main piece that can be atomised into multiple outlets and distributed through events, whitepapers, webinars, videos and blogs.

5. Speak with clarity

The content that goes in your website should be split into meaningful terminology. Your company should be able to speak a language that’s logical to all – both internal designers and developers, and external audiences.

6. Make content king

Above all, don’t ever prioritise design over content – the content you create should always have a point.

When it comes to measuring the performance of your content, it’s worth understanding whether your audience is achieving its objectives. The right, multi-purpose content strategy should be designed to save time and money, and offer a better customer experience.

If you are looking for that kind of future-ready content, which pushes your marketing further, aids your brand message and positions your brand as an authority, get in touch at hello@wardour.co.uk

Published Jul 06, 2017

Five ways that brands can be more successful broadcasters

by Matt Goodenday and Eila Madden – Jun 29, 2017

The CMA recently brought three broadcasting experts together to share their top tips. Here are our top five takeaways:

1. Think like a broadcaster

Simon Shelley, Head of Industry News at ITN, urges brands that really want their content to have an impact to “think like broadcasters”. That means producing content with high production values that is completely driven by the story and its characters and tells people about the wider world. “You’re no longer thinking of people as customers; you’re only thinking of them as viewers,” he says. Modern, successful broadcasters also think beyond the viewing figures. “It’s about the conversation that happens beyond the broadcast,” Shelley adds.

2. Broadcasting is not really about being Broad at all

Although we talk about it as broadcasting, a brand will very rarely want to distribute its content to every person on the planet. They will want to target their content to specific audiences and in doing so, we all fall into what Shelley termed as ‘narrowcasting’.

He also highlighted the importance of the three “R’s”. A video needs to be Relevant to its audience in its messaging and content. It needs to Reach the right people (these could be a small number of key decision-makers or a certain demographic group). And finally, the video needs to Resonate with its target audience, which is always going to require far more of a subjective quality.

3. Measuring speed can be more useful than quantity

During Shelley’s talk, we were also introduced to a new metric for evaluating the success of a video… Viral Lift! (Apparently coined by Buzzfeed, but don’t quote us on that).

It is always tempting to look at the total amount of views that a video has received overall to judge its success and although this can be very useful, it may also be useful to look at how many views the video gets in a certain amount of time. Again, it’s important to consider here what the objectives are and depending on the frequency of content published, getting 50,000 views in the first four hours of the video going up could be a better measure of success than getting 200,000 views over a week!

4. Social media is effective but only with the right channels

Most content marketers wouldn’t disagree with you if you said that social media is an important part of any content marketing strategy. The best of them wouldn’t disagree with you either if you said that a brand shouldn’t use every single channel available to it.

Chayyal Syal, Broadcast Journalist for the BBC and blogger, spoke about how every brand should have clearly defined objectives and identify which channels are best suited to achieve them. Is there really much value in an asset management firm being on Instagram? Is a consumer brand going to get much out of posting lots of content on LinkedIn? These are all important questions, and all need to be considered.

5. Look at the smaller parts

A large content programme or campaign will also comprise many different parts that, together, will deliver an experience to the customer (and hopefully a great one!). Some of those parts will get very little engagement (if none at all), others will get some, some will get good engagement and then are those that will really stand out. This might be a video, an animation, an infographic or even just a listicle!

Rob Molloy, Director of Global TV Content and Sales at Guinness World Records, suggested this can then lead to some interesting questions: if that small part was so successful, then does it deserve more share of voice? Can an entire campaign be made from that subject and generate even more engagement? Can it be recreated into different formats and shattered in different ways?

It takes a brave brand to truly think and act like a broadcaster but if you’re going to do it, you may as well do it the way the experts would.

Published Jun 29, 2017

National Writing Day – Our recommendations

by Wardour staff – Jun 21, 2017

Today is National Writing Day, a celebration of creative writing. From books to songs to poems to scripts, it serves as wonderful reminder of the power of the written word. Content is at the heart of everything we do here at Wardour, so we thought we’d share some of the pieces of writing that inspire us.

The Whitsun Weddings by Philip Larkin

Martin MacConnol, Chief Executive says: “Definitely one of the best collections of poetry of the 20st century. Existential angst, love, lust, thwarted ambition, family relationships – Larkin offers us all this and more. Perhaps best of all, he observes everything with a wry eye that makes you continually wonder whether he is being serious, or sending up the neuroses of a generation.”

For fans of: Anything by Alan Bennett

The Rosie Project by Graham Simsion

Richard Payn, Finance Director, says: “The novel centres on genetics professor Don Tillman, who struggles to have a serious relationship with women. With a friend’s help, he devises a questionnaire to assess the suitability of female partners. His plans are set off course when he meets Rosie, who does not fit many of Tillman’s criteria, but becomes a big part of his life. I don’t read very often, but when I got this book I couldn’t put it down and finished it in a weekend. I found it laugh out loud funny and recommend it to anyone.”

For fans of: The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith, The Adrian Mole series by Sue Townsend

Music and Silence by Rose Tremain

Tom Hagues, Assistant Editor says: “Set in Copenhagen, 1629, this story follows an English lutenist employed by King Christian IV of Denmark to play at his court. A very specific plot, I know, but Tremain makes it completely accessible through a gripping narrative supported by exceedingly thorough research. It’s a historical novel by technicality – Music and Silence seems more like a gritty, grown-up fairy tale of a land and time the reader will never experience first hand.”

For fans of: Bring up the Bodies and Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel and The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Consider Phlebas by Iain M Banks

Tim Mustoe, Art Director says: “Part of the Culture series, this is a huge, sprawling, magnificent space opera set in an interstellar anarchist utopian society, which revolves around the Idiran-Culture War. The detail that Banks injects make it seem ever more plausible, and there are some lovely moments of irreverence, notably in the naming of the starships (‘Prosthetic Conscience’, ‘Profit Margin’, ‘Trade Surplus’).”

For fans of: Star Wars

Ironic by Alanis Morissette

Teodora Rousseva, Marketing Manager says: “Come on, admit it. You are humming it! The song is funny, the lyrics - catchy, and I guess the moral of the story is not to take yourself too seriously. Life is short. Give this old school tune a listen, hum along and put your rose–tinted shades on. Parting thought… next time, take that good advice!”

For Fans of: Sarah Knight’s books and The Proclaimers – 500 miles

Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris

Sally Abbotts, Copywriter says: “A collection of humourous narrative essays, mostly based around his own life and the misadventures of his family. He’s been described as ‘an American Oscar Wilde’ – and his witty, hilarious tone makes him my favourite writer. If you like funny, non-fiction, all of his books are well worth a read.”

For fans of: The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

Three Men on the Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome

Tim Turner, Content Director says: “Many people know and love Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat, a classic of Victorian humour that tells the story of a boating holiday on the Thames. But for my money, this follow-up is even funnier. This time, Jerome, George and Harris embark on a cycling tour of Germany, with (as they say) hilarious consequences. ‘Bummel’, by the way, is an adaptation of a German word for a leisurely journey. For some reason, it never caught on in English…”

For fans of: Three Men in a Boat

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Lucy Buck, Senior Account Manager says: “Sue Monk Kidd strikes the perfect balance between heart-warming and heart-breaking in this ‘coming of age’ novel, which follows 14-year-old Lily on a journey to Tiburon, South Carolina, in a desperate search to connect with her deceased mother. In Tiburon, Lily stays with the Boatwright sisters – May, June and August – who make the ‘Black Madonna’ honey sold in the local general store. Bee-keeping is cleverly used as an extended metaphor throughout the book to represent resilience and the power of community, in the face of deep racial injustice. As a reader, you experience Lily’s loss of innocence alongside her, as she’s exposed to social inequality and the truth about her mother…”

For fans of: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

“Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears” – a quote from John Lennon

Matt Williams, Art Director says: “John Lennon, besides song writing, coined some fabulous phrases including “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans,” and, “Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted”. But my favourite has to be “Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears”. Lennon seemed to have a lot of time references in his songs and words and whilst we cannot do anything about getting older, for me if helps to bring a bit of meaning.”

Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth

Jane Douglas, Editor says: “In his acclaimed play Jerusalem, Jez Butterworth wove ancient folklore with a tale of modern life in all its wild, gritty, disturbing and hedonistic contradictions. Inspired by William Blake’s poetry, Butterworth’s play tapped into a fundamental need to belong, for a connection to place.”

For fans of: William Blake and This Is England

The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington

Gareth Francis, Editor: “This book follows the failing fortunes of a wealthy family during the industrialisation of America. Possibly the most infuriating group of characters I have come across in any novel, you just want to grab them by the shoulders and give them a shake! However, the writing style is effortless and completely immersive. When I finished it the first time I was ready to start it again straight away.”

For fans of: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane

Published Jun 21, 2017

Inspiring a nation and beyond

by Tom Hagues – Jun 12, 2017

It’s Wednesday morning, May 10th 2017. The balconies over the foyer at London Stock Exchange Group’s (LSEG) Paternoster Square HQ are lined with hundreds of people waiting for the Market Open ceremony.

It’s a daily tradition, usually marking the admission of companies to the market. This one is different. It celebrates the launch of the annual 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain report. This publication, which we deliver for LSEG, showcases the UK’s thriving and inspiring companies.

As the pips sound each second closer to 8am, some of the Wardour team join representatives of those companies that are highlighted in the report, waiting for the start of market trading. It might happen every day, but the Market Open never ceases to be a special moment.

We’ve worked with LSEG for five years. A global institution, it is a dynamic force in the financial industry both in terms of its standards and its practices. The 1000 Companies to Inspire report is one of the key projects we deliver – and an important one for LSEG.

It underlines LSEG’s support for dynamic businesses by shining a light on the small and medium sized companies that are vital for a healthy, diverse economy. It has been so successful publications have been created from Britain to Europe and Africa, identifying the most dynamic companies across different countries from across a diverse range of sectors.

Companies that make the final cut have to reach some pretty exacting standards. In Britain, data company DueDil compiles the list of companies that fit LSEG’s criteria, one of which is three years of sustained growth. Each year the list is a true snapshot in time – reflecting the sectors and trends that will shape the future of the economy.

Being named in the book is admittance to an exclusive club. Endorsement comes from industry and politics. Expert commentary, picking up on key themes, is mixed with forewords from prominent politicians, which this year includes Prime Minister Theresa May. They sit alongside views and insight from the project’s sponsors; BGF, Cenkos, HSBC and The Telegraph.

Some of the businesses included this year are homeware retailer Oliver Bonas, soft-drink producer Fever-Tree and happy-go-lucky diner-inspired eatery The Breakfast Club.

The 1000 Companies to Inspire publications perfectly sum up the work we like to do at Wardour. They join the past, present and future together. Beyond that, it’s a chance to meet some of the entrepreneurs who are shaping the world in which we live.

Published Jun 12, 2017

A new brand is born

by Martin MacConnol – Mar 24, 2017

Starting a wet Monday morning in March at 7.30am doesn’t sound like much fun. But when that morning is spent watching a brand you helped bring to life go public at the London Stock Exchange, no hour is too early.

The brand in question is Renewi. It’s a European leader in environmental services, created by the merger of Shanks Group plc and Dutch recycling firm Van Gansewinkel. And when the next cut of the FTSE is done later this year, it will be one of the top 250 listed companies in the UK.

In honour of this merger, the management team at Renewi were asked this week to open a day’s trading on the London Exchange; and Renewi asked team Wardour, along with other advisers, to join them.

If you haven’t seen the 8am opening of the markets, you need to understand that the London Stock Exchange knows how to put on a show.

As we stood on the balcony, the new brand was beamed all around the atrium of the exchange’s HQ. Our brand video was projected on huge screens and at the moment when the markets opened, the screens exploded into life before pulling out from a sea of animated data a live feed of the Renewi share price. It was all very Star Wars and, happily, in the moments after opening, the share price went green. Everyone cheered.

Our role in the run-up to that merger was to develop Renewi’s brand identity, complete the brand and image guidelines and create the content assets to engage both internal and external audiences for day one and beyond: in other words, a proper, grown-up, brand and change communications programme.

It’s the sort of work we love, and it plays to our strengths as a comms and marketing agency that knows how to roll out a brand to external and internal audiences alike.

The outputs we created with the client were hugely varied. It began with figuring out how a great new logo and colour palette (created by the client with a Belgian agency) would actually work in real life. And we spent a lot of time early on with the senior client team, including the new CEO and FD, pinning down the key messages for the brand – a vital process which made the roll-out of all the other materials more straightforward: everyone knew inside out what was authentically Renewi.

From animated digital logos to the livery for waste trucks, to investor presentations, to brand videos for external audiences, to animations for colleague screens, to welcome packs, mugs and USB sticks: our team had to conceptualise and deliver them all – while working in total secrecy with the client team, as the new brand was entirely confidential pre-launch.

All in all, it was a hugely satisfying, intense and successful project. You can see some of the assets we created below.

We spent a long time defining the brand visually, working from the branding agency’s concept to create a visual language for the future
We spent a long time defining the brand visually, working from the branding agency’s concept to create a visual language for the future
We produced a large and varied suite of internal comms collateral for the launch – this is the employees’ introductory brochure
We produced a large and varied suite of internal comms collateral for the launch – this is the employees’ introductory brochure
Our digital assets were used extensively during the internal launch proceedings
Our digital assets were used extensively during the internal launch proceedings
Each employee received a pack of goodies on “Day 1”
Each employee received a pack of goodies on “Day 1”
The branded mugs have gone down really well
The branded mugs have gone down really well
It’s unusual for us to be putting logos on trucks
It’s unusual for us to be putting logos on trucks
Ever wondered what 8,000 cupcakes look like?
Ever wondered what 8,000 cupcakes look like?
Going forward, we continue to define and refine the Renewi brand – it’s a living project
Going forward, we continue to define and refine the Renewi brand – it’s a living project

Published Mar 24, 2017

A week in the life of… a Content Director

by Tim Turner – Mar 17, 2017

Monday

The week begins, not in the office, but in a recording studio just around the corner from the BBC. Over the years I’ve developed a sideline in recording voiceovers for videos, and today I’ve been asked to narrate a short animation for the British Heart Foundation on the health benefits of exercise.

The client has come to the session, and hearing the script read aloud helps her to spot a few passages that don’t quite sound right. Between us, we work out changes to the wording and then I record both the old and new versions, to be on the safe side. There’s still time in our allotted hour for the studio engineer to tidy up the audio file before I head to the office. After two days off last week, I’ve got a lot of emails to catch up on.

Tuesday

Another early start, this time at a BIMA Breakfast Briefing. The four speakers provide their perspective on the theme of ‘Incubating Innovation’, and it makes for a fascinating session. The key takeaway, for me, is the need for innovation to be embedded in the culture of a creative agency. As one speaker put it, if you’ve got an innovation team working on their own, you’re never going to produce anything worthwhile.

No one is pretending any of this is easy. In particular, Nadya Powell of Innovation Disorder talks passionately about the need to dismantle many of the traditional assumptions around how companies are organised and staff are managed and rewarded. I leave with my head buzzing with snappy phrases: ‘Build innovation from the inside out’, ‘Define your version of innovation’, and above all, ‘Start by starting’.

Wednesday

A day in the office, and a challenge. Last week, we spent a day at a client’s offices filming video interviews with six of their experts, and my task today is to go through the transcripts and construct three or four videos, each on a different theme, ensuring that all the interviewees are represented equally. It’s like a cross between a logic puzzle and three-dimensional chess, but after a few hours with furrowed brow and highlighter pen, I deliver four workable cutting scripts to the video editor.

Thursday

It’s a busy time of year for video shoots, and this morning I meet the film crew at the Boisdale of Mayfair restaurant, where we’re due to interview proprietor Ranald Macdonald. We spend the morning filming B-roll (the general footage video editors use to add visual interest to talking-head interviews) in the kitchen and the restaurant itself, then set up the cameras and lights and wait for the main man to arrive. And wait. And wait.

It transpires that Ranald’s assistant has put the interview in his diary for Friday by mistake. As it happens, he isn’t too far away and promises to jump in a cab. Even so, we’re nearly an hour late starting the interview and the lunch service is getting ever busier. Fortunately, Ranald is an assured speaker and I get lucid answers to all my questions, with no need for retakes. He heads off to his next appointment and we disassemble the kit in record time to let the restaurant get on with serving food.

Friday

With only one short meeting scheduled, this is a day for catching up with all the many and varied tasks of a Content Director. These include uploading an article to an online content portal, taking in amends on layouts for my own projects, proofing articles for colleagues, checking printer proofs and assorted admin tasks. I manage to get through most (if not all) of my to-do list for the week, before writing out my list for the next week. I’d be lost without a list.

Published Mar 17, 2017

Suite talk

by Sam Evans – Mar 10, 2017

We are proud to say our film shoot schedule has become increasingly busy over the last few years.

When we first began offering filming services to clients ten years ago, we would produce a piece every few months. Now, having consistently produced fantastic video content over the last decade, we are putting out over 200 every year.

Since we started, we’ve filmed healthy cooking demonstrations in kitchens, famous footballers in their homes, giants of finance discussing their industry, and made travel guides for some amazing places.

We’ve gone from offices in London to shoot in Rotterdam and Stockholm among other locations (as well as some less glamorous parts of the world).

And we’ve kept up with the latest trends, transitioning seamlessly from taped footage to fully digital recordings, and more recently producing 360-degree footage and interactive videos.

In accordance with this continuing success, we’ve recently invested in a brand new edit suite. It allows our dedicated video team to work together more closely and communicate more effectively. Through this we can continue to offer the same care to every video, even as the quantity grows.

If you’re interested in producing engaging and professional video content for your brand, get in touch. And if you’d like to see more examples of our work, check out our page here.

Published Mar 10, 2017

Prepare to be spontaneous

by Matt Goodenday – Feb 13, 2017

At Wardour, we love a good breakfast. We also love expanding our knowledge on content marketing trends. And when the two are combined, as they were at the February CMA Digital Breakfast, it’s an invitation we’re unlikely to turn down.

These monthly meet ups are always a great place to hear some fresh ideas and to keep up with industry trends. Here’s some of the things we think should be on your radar….

The demise of paid advertising?

The strength of paid advertising is waning. It’s not to say that the paid route has lost all value, and sometimes it is indeed very effective, but we, as content marketers, know where the true value is. Indeed, examples during events such as the Oscars and the Super Bowl have shown that a successful social media/content campaign can deliver far more engagement and response than the advertising slots that brands have paid a fortune for in the past. Last year, AirBnb showed just how to do this with their #Liveinthemovies campaign.

In this day and age, it is important for brands to have an emotional connection with their audience. Customers want to be seen as a person to be interacted with, not just a number or a click, and that businesses value their thoughts and opinions. Creating content which is personal, memorable, and in many cases helpful, distributed on your own channels is a sure-fire way to create a successful content programme.

Always On or Always There?

Always On is one of those terms that has been thrown about quite a bit in the realm of content marketing. Having a content programme that hits people via all possible channels, at all times has often be seen as the best strategy. However, it seems that this may have developed a negative connotation in that people might feel that content is pushed on them, without much say in the matter.

Instead, content should be Always There, which means developing a strong level of trust with your audience. That trust will result in them coming to you, out of choice, to engage with your content, which is always available in different formats and on different channels for them to view. Of course, a successful programme doesn’t stop there and once that trust is established, it’s vital that the content is continuously optimised and evolved to achieve your goals.

Preparing for the spontaneous

We all know the importance of creating content that’s timely and relevant, and having a calendar of events applicable to your business should be an essential part of any content marketer’s tool box. However, there are events which will have two or more possible outcomes and it’s important for Brands to be reactive, and include ‘What If Marketing’ as part of their approach.

We know, for instance, that Scotland will be playing Wales in the Rugby 6 Nations on 25 February, but the result could go either way (regardless of how confident their respective fans are feeling!). Employing ‘What if Marketing’ means that any brand that has a relevant link to the 6 Nations should have content ready for each eventuality. In other words, they should be preparing to be spontaneous! This means, that you are not only making content timely and relevant, but you’re also making it reactive.

Published Feb 13, 2017

It’s some kind of magic

by Tom Hagues – Feb 03, 2017

Animations are excellent tools for getting information across. In fact, it occurred to me to ask the team to make an animation about our animations, but I thought that was probably too meta and besides, they’ve got more than enough on their plates. The animations that come out of our fifth-floor office in Drury House are excellent (I’d like to note here that I am not saying this under duress, I really believe it), and are not only informative, but also an art form in their own right.

The road that leads from initial idea to the finished product is hilly, sometimes unpaved, and can often present some wonderfully unexpected blind corners with sheer drops, but the outcome is always worth it.

These two-minute, fact-filled pieces of work are the result of our various teams pulling together to create one product. From the editors who write the script, to art directors who make it look perfect, to the animation team who bring the designs to life, between us we create informative, interesting and attractive pieces.

Recently, we produced an animation about Laing O’Rourke’s logistics team, and the end result was a great insight into the day-to-day ferrying of construction materials and the many safety measures implemented so that vulnerable road users are kept safe around the lorries.

Similarly, we’ve learned about mobile Octopus payment system in Hong Kong, as well as the journey that London Underground undertook (with fewer delays than a journey on the District Line, I might add) to deliver its contactless ticketing system. We’ve also created one for the British Heart Foundation about heart valve research, which attracted nearly 6,000 views.

The greatest thing about an animation produced by Wardour is that you’ll always come away enlightened, educated and often entertained. And all we want is a few minutes of your time – I think that’s a fair enough trade.

Published Feb 03, 2017

7 steps to award-winning work

by Eila Madden – Jan 27, 2017

This week, BIMA – the industry body for interactive media and digital content agencies – brought together an impressive line up of eight winners and judges from last year’s BIMA Awards to tease out the common characteristics of award-winning work.

Here are my takeaways from the fascinating debate. I think they’re just as relevant for brands as they are for the agencies that work with them.

1) Start with the problem

Great content and campaign ideas come from focusing on your audience’s problem. Instead of thinking about what the end product is, or that you have to use a particular platform, think about how you can help the person on the receiving end of your content.

2) Find the inspiration in the brief

Create work that has a purpose, and a positive impact. Whether you’re helping Nike help underprivileged kids in the Philippines play their way out of poverty or you’re helping a high street bank educate their customers about cybercrime, find the ‘good’ in the brief and be inspired by it.

3) ‘Less’ is good for innovation

Limited resources, be it time or budget, can help you ditch the nice-to-haves and focus on what’s truly important in a brief. And this can lead to an outstanding product. Some people call this “frugal innovation”.

4) Really know your audience

We all know how important it is to ‘know our audience’ but how many of us really make this happen? Ensure your team reflects the audience you’re creating content for. Better still, work with a panel that you can test your ideas on at every stage of the creative process.

5) Make an emotional connection

When your ideas tap into real, human, emotional insight, you’re onto something. You want your audience to say: “Yes, I recognise that feeling. I’ve had that experience too.”

6) Aim high, and be brave

Aim high, and make it happen. Don’t anticipate the hurdles. Anticipate how you’re going to get over the hurdles.

And finally…

7) Don’t set out to win an award

Don’t be preoccupied with winning awards. Focus on creating work that’s meaningful, and the winning awards entries will write themselves.

Published Jan 27, 2017

Honing a craft

by David Poulton – Jan 20, 2017

I should preface my article with a disclaimer. It’s not very often I have a drink before noon. Perhaps a bucks fizz on Christmas morning, and I had a glass of champagne on the morning of my wedding, accompanied by eggs benedict, but that’s it.

With that in mind, a large gin and tonic at 11.50am at the Sipsmith distillery this week was something of a novelty for me. Our host, Joe, sat me and my three colleagues down at the shiny copper bar and prepared four tall glasses of their London gin with Fevertree tonic and lime, motioning us to take an immediate sip while the bubbles fizzed around the top of the glass.

We duly obliged and within a couple of sips, we were all grinning – maybe down to guilt about the early start, but also because this G&T tasted delicious.

We were visiting the distillery through our longstanding relationship with Fuller’s, for whom we produce their on-trade wholesale catalogue. The famous Griffin brewery is a five-minute walk from the Sipsmith distillery, with both drinks companies successfully tapping into the zeitgeist for locally crafted and artisan tipples.

By the end of our tasting and introduction to the Sipsmith brand, it became clear how tightly knit the British drinks industry is – everyone knows everyone.

Sipsmith was co-founded by a former Fuller’s employee, Sam Galsworthy, and lifelong friend and Diageo man Fairfax Hall. Together they had spotted the exciting trend for craft drinks in the US as well as a gap in the market for crafted, small-batch spirits in the UK. In 2009, they decided to set up on their own and have some fun along the way.

The distillery itself is small – and I mean tiny, in a space just a touch bigger than a London first-time buyer’s flat. Just three copper stills, called Patience, Constance and Prudence, produce the spirits all year round, using British grain and botanicals from around the world. Prudence is the first copper pot to be used in London in 189 years and was ironically named in homage to then-Chancellor Gordon Brown, whose prudent policies during the financial crisis were in stark contrast to the financial gamble taken by Sam and Fairfax to chase their gin-making dreams.

What’s amazing is that after Sipsmith outgrew their original home in Hammersmith, they moved into one of Fuller, Smith and Turner’s old depots, tucked away in a cosy residential street off Chiswick High Road. That old Fuller’s connection continues today – Sipsmith and Fuller’s want to help each other connect with consumers, pursuing the same goals of creating the finest, hand-crafted, premium drinks in the heart of London and getting them into the hands, and glasses, of consumers. What I find most interesting is that we see the variety and ambition from dozens of drinks creators first hand and by getting to know each supplier, we’re best placed to help the likes of Sipsmith and Fuller’s achieve those goals.

We also learnt a lot, including the origin of the phrase ‘Dutch courage’ (Dutch soldiers were given a small bottle of gin to drink before battle) and the history of gin in the UK (from a royal endorsement to a virtual epidemic), as well as the careful processes Sipsmith follow day in, day out, to produce their fantastic spirit. But why the name Sipsmith and the elegant swan branding? It was the first question I had for Joe on our tasting day. He waited to the very end to tell us. I could tell you too, but why not make a visit to Chiswick and uncover the mystery yourself? You’ll find out while having some excellent drinks.

Published Jan 20, 2017

Yammer time

by Lawrence Cohen – Jan 16, 2017

Yammer, Jostle, Bitrix24. They might all sound like metallic combatants from Robot Wars but they are, in fact, social networking platforms used by employers to encourage colleagues to communicate with each other.

In an age of tweets, posts and likes, adapting social media for the corporate environment makes perfect sense, especially when the latest generation of workers have grown up with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. And social networking platforms can prove a great way for staff to share knowledge with each other, whether it’s about a new project, effective ways of working, or giving presentations.

Social networking platforms can also serve as an effective channel for senior management looking to engage front-line staff, while employees might use such platforms to create communities for chatting with like-minded colleagues – they could be for a book club, running group or five-a-side football team.

Yet convincing employees to use social networking platforms can prove difficult. Just because employees use social media outside work doesn’t mean they’ll want to use it inside work. And, done the wrong way, there’s a danger that a workplace social networking platform comes across as the corporate equivalent of a dad dancing at a disco.

Another problem is time. In busy corporate environments, workers might feel that they cannot afford to spend time posting on corporate social networks when they’ve got reports to write, meetings to attend and emails to reply to. Then there are those who have the time and the inclination to chat via such platforms but worry their line manager will see their posts and wonder why they’re not spending that time doing ‘real work’.

Jamming sessions

So how can organisations convince overcome these obstacles to staff uptake of social networking platforms?

Promoting the platforms in a way that excites employees, and reassures them that engaging in such platforms should be integral to their job, is essential if people are to embrace corporate social media.

Another solution is to hold a ‘jam’ – an online conversation that takes place over a handful of days. A growing number of organisations are holding jams, which see staff log on and join conversation streams on everything from company strategy to work-life balance. Members of senior management teams often join these debates, creating an engaging event in which most employees feel comfortable taking part. Jams can be an effective way of finding out what staff think, as well as for generating ideas for business opportunities and improving the way organisations work.

They’re also a great example of organisations learning what works and what doesn’t when it comes to harnessing the power of social media in a corporate environment. As is often the case with communications channels, it’s not what you use but how you use them.

If you’re interested in learning how you can take advantage of new internal communications channels, get in touch with us at info@wardour.co.uk

Published Jan 16, 2017

2016 at Wardour: another great year

by Gareth Francis – Dec 30, 2016

It’s been another great year at Wardour. As well as celebrating our 20th birthday as an agency, we’ve received a plethora of plaudits and awards while working on some fantastic projects with our clients. Here are just a few of our highlights from 2016.

A winning year on the awards circuit

It’s been an award-winning year for us – and our clients. In 2016, we won a succession of trophies for websites and magazines. Find out what we won here.

Building a crowdfunding site

We’re really proud to have built the crowdfunding website for The People’s Trust, a new fund that everyone can access.

How a sizzling sausage infographic got 21k hits

Our ‘Which meat should I eat?’ interactive infographic sent page views through the roof at the British Heart Foundation.

The best of British design brought to life through video

Patrick Grant tells us why he’s using British designers on his menswear label E. Tautz, based on Grosvenor’s Mayfair estate.

Blockchain: an animation to make sense of the complex

Still struggling to understand Blockchain? Check out our animation for EY, which gets down to basics. Now we get it!

Gemalto’s ‘Happy birthday’ cover goes back to the future

To mark the digital security firm’s 10th year, we created a split wraparound cover for its magazine, showing tech then and now.

Stephanie Flanders among star writers for RSA Journal

Former BBC economics editor Stephanie Flanders and television presenter Adrian Chiles talk social inclusion for the RSA.

We’re already looking forward to 2017. There are some fantastic new projects in the pipeline, so watch this space for more details. In the meantime, have a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year.

Published Dec 30, 2016

5 content marketing nuggets for 2016-2017

by Stephen Holroyd – Dec 22, 2016

The Wardour team has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, new ways of thinking and staying ahead of the curve. That’s why we attended a recent CMA Digital Breakfast seminar which took a look at digital developments in content marketing during 2016, as well as some of the trends expected in the year ahead. Here’s a snapshot of some of the things we learnt…

1. Not more – more relevant

In May this year, the number of indexed pages on Google hit 60 trillion. And every 60 seconds, 300 minutes of video is uploaded to YouTube. That’s a lot of content. Ensuring your content gets noticed is absolutely vital, so making your content relevant has never been more important. 44% of consumers would consider ending a brand relationship due to irrelevant content, so it’s not about creating more content, but about creating more relevant content.

2. Shock and awe

‘Content Shock’ is a thing. With so much content out there, it’s vital to give your content the amplification it needs for it to stand out and find its audience. By using data effectively – everything from consumer insights and owned data to social listening – your content can be targeted and will never miss. 85% of brands produce content (arguably more), but only 21% track it successfully. Data offers direction and opportunity. Creativity makes it different, authentic and valuable. And smart amplification creates all-important relevancy.

3. Repurpose, repurpose and repurpose some more

An ‘always on’ strategy means being relevant to more people more of the time. Imagine your content as a turkey. Slicing that turkey into different content formats means getting the most out of it – infographics, videos, listicles, blogs, emails, inmails, GIFs, tweets – you name it. Strangle every last piece of value out of your content.

4. Learn and lend

Look for inspiration from unexpected and often unconsidered sources. Could be your favourite rock band, could be a favourite book. After all, there’s nothing original, just different ways of doing the same thing. As the late great David Bowie once said: “The only art I’ll ever study is stuff I can steal from.”

5. 2017 is all about…

• Building your brand. The most important thing you can focus on in 2017.

• Growing blog subscribers. The blog is the social media rug that ties the room together. It’s the home base, it drives the content pipeline and creates communication. It’s an important part of the content marketing puzzle.

• The hybrid marketer. Someone who can understand and work across all communication disciplines.

• Pushing ideas to a really uncomfortable point.

• Mobile first. Google will be just one of the big boys pushing mobile in 2017.

• Data, integration and consumer first. A focus on real people to tell brand stories.

• Clients working more closely with agencies.

• Amplification and personalisation. Understanding your audience, knowing their objectives and speaking in their language.

• Seeking out new ways to amplify your content. Snapchat, for example.

Slowing down, taking a breath and publishing content when you know the time is right.

Published Dec 22, 2016

Changing the world of investing

by Martin MacConnol – Oct 28, 2016

Despite some of our clients pushing hard, we don’t tend to work for free. But when Daniel Godfrey asked us to build a website to help get The People’s Trust off the ground, we said yes immediately, despite the lack of any fees. We just loved the whole idea of it.

For those who haven’t seen coverage of it in the newspapers, The People’s Trust potentially marks the start of a revolution in investing – it aims to make a better return for everyday investors at the same time as having a positive impact on society.

It’s planning to deliver on these lofty ambitions by focusing on the long term (seven-year investment horizons) and by aligning its investment managers’ interests directly with those of its investors. It will be built on a set of principles which includes not paying bonuses to managers for simply doing their job.

The Trust has a way to go to become a reality. The site we built is a crowdfunding one. Daniel wants to raise the £100,000 necessary for it to progress to a full launch through small individual donations (typically £20): it is after all “The People’s” Trust.

The team at Wardour is willing it to succeed. Over the last 20 years, we have been proud to work with many leading financial services brands, from high street building societies to wealth managers to investment banks.

During that time, we’ve also become aware of how trust in the sector as a whole has steadily ebbed away. Of course, that presents opportunities for a company like Wardour: we help firms build trust through our content. But there can be no doubt that it’s an unhealthy situation.

It’s easy to say all the fault for this lack of trust lies with the institutions themselves: from PPI to Libor, there are too many examples of the ‘house’ fixing the tables in their favour.

But at the same time, we as individuals in society have to accept our role in the problem. Technology has made everything more immediate, and that extends to our expectations for financial returns. This puts pressure on the institutions and individual employees to deliver. A rush to provide a short-term gain creates the potential for anomalous corrupt practices. But in addition, and perhaps more worryingly, it creates a perception that investment is all about making a fast buck. This in turn is bad for society as a whole: the quick returns are not necessarily gained from companies that are plugged into society for the long term.

As well as its core purpose of providing better returns for its investors, The People’s Trust could be the starting point of a wider shift in thinking about investment. You can read a lot more detail on the website. And, more importantly, if you have a spare £20, please do support it. You will be doing something which should be good for us all.

Published Oct 28, 2016

Every picture tells a story

by Emily Peters, Assistant Editor – Sep 27, 2016

If you’d asked me this time last year whether I thought Instagram would continue to be a key social player in 12 months’ time, I would have struggled to give you an answer. That’s not because I wasn’t familiar with the platform - like 53% of 18-29-year-olds, I use it every single day - but because social trends are developing at a remarkable rate.

Today, however, it’s clear that Instagram is a trend that’s here to stay. The platform currently has around 300 million active daily users, and by 2020 this figure is expected to grow by 26.9 million (to put this into context, that’s double the prediction for Twitter).

These might seem like extraordinary statistics for a platform that only came into existence six years ago, but not when you consider the vast array of tools the app now offers. Phrases like ‘boomerang’ and ‘zoom’ now have completely new connotations, and with the advent of Instagram Stories, which launched just last month, Instagrammers can now share targeted visuals as often as they wish, without damaging the carefully curated look of their profile.

As a result, for businesses, Instagram is now another key part of the digital communications package. In the past six months, the number of advertisers growing their business on Instagram has doubled; at the time of writing, this figure stands at 500,000. But it’s not just the growing number of businesses using the channel that demonstrates its significance. In January, an Instagram user survey found that 50% of Instagrammers now follow at least one business, while 60% have learned about a product or service using the platform. And these figures are set to grow.

At Wardour, social has become an increasingly important part of our offering, and it’s something we’re looking to build into more and more of our clients’ campaigns. But with the average Instagram user sailing past about 70% of the posts in their feed, creating clever, eye-catching, on-brand messages that cut through the noise is no simple task.

The best way to get around this, according to Camilla White, who hosted BIMA’s recent Evening Masterclass, is to opt for quality over quantity. It’s an unusual piece of advice to give in a world that encourages us to generate X number of tweets and Facebook posts each day, but it’s a message that resonates with us.

The work that we produce for our clients, whether communicated via print magazines, social channels or websites, is about building trust and generating loyalty. It’s about stopping audiences in their tracks and inspiring them to take action. It’s about communicating a message that resonates long after they’ve put down the magazine, tapped on another app, or minimised their browser.

And it’s quality content that gets us there.

Follow us on Instagram @wardourcomms

Published Sep 27, 2016

A world of creatives needs diverse talent

by Emily Peters, Assistant Editor – Aug 16, 2016

This summer has been significant for diversity in the UK. First, there was the appointment of Sadiq Khan – the first directly elected Muslim mayor of a western capital city. Then, just a few months later, we witnessed Theresa May’s rise to power and the ensuing appointment of a string of female cabinet ministers.

A few days before May’s appointment, I attended a BIMA Breakfast Briefing that highlighted the importance of diversity within creative teams. The case for diversity in the workplace was not something that I felt needed to be made to me, but I soon discovered that it was something I needed reminding of.

Diversity is something that Wardour, like so many businesses, takes very seriously. After all, diversity fosters creativity – and creativity is the bedrock of our agency. But because I’m lucky enough to work with relatively diverse teams on a daily basis, the subject is not something I’d given a great deal of thought to in the context of the wider industry.

The speakers at BIMA’s ‘How to do diversity’ breakfast, however, reminded me that, in an industry that relies so heavily on a daily fusillade of creative genius, we cannot afford to be complacent.

Firstly, as Nadya Powell, Managing Director of Sunshine and Co-founder of The Great British Diversity Experiment, explained, diversity allows authenticity. If you don’t feel you can be your authentic self, your ability to work creatively can be hampered. If, on the other hand, you’re part of a team that incorporates different ages, sexual orientations, ethnicities and genders, you can let your true personality shine.

Problem solving is another important part of the equation. All businesses need problem solvers. It’s a prerequisite for almost every job going. But if your colleagues come from similar backgrounds to you, their solutions won’t be all that different to yours. In contrast, if you work with a group of people from different walks of life, you’ll likely have a wealth of ideas to choose from, and therefore stronger solutions to business problems.

Not only does diversity create more opinions, it also allows these ideas to be taken forward through merit, rather than cultural consensus. When you bring people from different backgrounds together, you also bring the opportunity for debate. You’re not all coming from the same vantage point, and therefore your views on others’ opinions will differ.

Of course, these benefits aren’t limited to our industry. At Wardour, we’re grateful to be able to work with clients from a number of different industries – and innovative teams are integral to each and every one of them. This BIMA session may have been directed at creatives, but its message had a much broader reach, and we can (and should) all take something from it.

Published Aug 16, 2016

5 apps I couldn’t live without

by Gabriella MacConnol, Intern and Emily Peters, Assistant Editor – Aug 09, 2016

Whether it’s the latest Instagram feature or a hark back to the past for a generation of Pokémon lovers, right now it feels as though every week presents a new opportunity for content creators.

But keeping up with new marketing trends is no mean feat, and as technology continues to evolve, it’s only going to get harder. Thankfully, our latest teenage intern was willing to share her insight into the mobile tools captivating the next generation of consumers. Here are her top five apps and her reasons for using them:

1. Snapchat

The app I use most regularly is Snapchat. I use it because it’s a quick and easy way to keep in contact with friends for free over Wi-Fi. It’s especially good for chatting with friends who don’t have an iPhone, when sending free iMessages is not an option. The app also allows you to send captioned photos quickly and easily, so you can share pictures of things as they happen. Sent images can only stay on the recipient’s screen for up to 10 seconds – but if someone does screenshot a photo you have sent, you are notified about it, which isn’t a function that apps such as Instagram have. Snapchat’s filters are also fun to use and are a great way to personalise images.

2. WhatsApp

Although Snapchat is great for sending images and chatting to individuals, when I want to talk to a group of my friends (for instance, if I am trying to arrange a time for us to meet up) I use WhatsApp. This also uses Wi-Fi so it’s free to send messages and images to the group. It’s great, as it saves you sending the same message to lots of people.

3. Camera

As well as using my phone to chat with my friends, I also use the native camera app a lot – especially when I am out for the day or on holiday. I take endless photos of things I’m doing, as they are nice reminders afterwards. The iPhone’s ‘Slo-Mo’ and ‘Pano’ features are particularly fun. When I was younger, I used to have a proper camera to take photos with, but my phone’s camera is now so much better, I just use it instead.

4. Instagram

I also regularly use Instagram to post some of the photos I take. This app is easy to use and a great way to share photos. I also use it to follow company accounts, so I can see when my favourite brands release new products. My favourite is @bathandbodyworks, because its posts are really eye-catching. I use Instagram rather than Facebook because the latter isn’t something that many of my friends use.

5. Games

When I’m not taking photos or checking Instagram, I’m probably playing games on my phone – usually when I’m going on a long journey without Wi-Fi or travelling on the tube. I do tire of games quickly, though, which is probably why I’ve downloaded so many! My favourite is Smash Hit because it’s fast-paced and requires lots of concentration.

Published Aug 09, 2016

Interviewing a GOAT

by Gareth Francis, Editor – Aug 05, 2016

When I was younger, sport was almost all I could think about. I must have played for every single team my school had, and my weekends were filled with watching and playing football.

I can’t say I ever reached a very high level (I think being part of the district champion 4 x 100m relay team was my greatest achievement…) and as I’ve got older it would be fair to say that I’ve been less active.

My interest in sport, however, hasn’t faded. I still try to catch a game or two most weekends during the football season, and almost all international tournaments tend to consume a fair chunk of my attention.

As you can imagine, the Olympics certainly falls into this category, and with the Rio 2016 opening ceremony commencing tonight, I’ll be catching as much of the games as I can.

But what does this have to do with interviewing a GOAT? Well, in the world of sport, being described as one is actually better than it might sound. It stands for ‘Greatest Of All Time’, and as you’d expect, there aren’t many athletes who can stake a claim for the accolade.

Earlier this year, however, I was lucky enough to interview a strong contender for the title, at least in terms of distance running. During his career, Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie won four world championships, two Olympic gold medals and set 27 world records. His achievements span across multiple events and two decades, and include setting his first world record in the 5,000m at 21 years old, along with breaking his own marathon world record at the age of 35, before finally retiring from professional athletics last year, aged 42.

Haile is now one of the biggest investors in Ethiopia, owning car dealerships, cinemas, a gold mine and coffee plantations, as well as several property ventures. It was in this capacity that I interviewed him for a profile in the Chartered Institute for Security and Investment’s membership magazine, The Review.

I remember watching him take the 10,000m gold at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 in dramatic fashion, beating Kenya’s Paul Tergat by 0.09 seconds, a closer finish than the 100m final that year. This determination to succeed has continued into his life in investment and it was a great honour to speak with him.

You can read the full profile here.

Published Aug 05, 2016

Pokémon Go: The future of marketing?

by Gareth Francis, Editor – Aug 02, 2016

In the last few weeks it seems that people have been glued to their phone screens even more than usual. In London it’s hard to walk down a single street without witnessing people tracking tiny characters around virtual maps, or discussing gyms, lures and incense with their friends.

If you haven’t been keeping up with the news, you might be forgiven for thinking there has been some sort of takeover by geographically challenged, incense-burning, fitness fanatic fishermen. In reality, this is simply a result of the release of Pokémon Go. Capturing the hearts of both the young and the nostalgic 20-somethings who enjoyed the original franchise, the game has been a remarkable success story. It has rocketed up the most downloaded mobile game charts and added billions to Nintendo’s market value.

For the uninitiated, the Pokémon world is one filled with hundreds of make-believe monsters, which people (or trainers) can capture, train and battle against others. In its latest incarnation, the game has taken advantage of smart phones and mapping technology to put virtual Pokémon in the real world. Players can find the creatures through the phone app, which when open will alert them to nearby monsters. Using the phone’s camera, the game can make Pokémon appear to be present in the real world. Landmarks on Google Maps have been selected to represent PokéStops, where players can gather in-game goodies, and also gyms, which allow players to train or battle their Pokémon with other users.

It has also presented some fantastic opportunities for savvy marketers. Many businesses have used their own premises or nearby locations as beacons to attract players of the game. Some shops, cafes, bars and restaurants are lucky enough to have been chosen as a gym or PokéStop. For 79p, businesses can buy in-game lures, which when used mean more Pokémon are likely to appear near your location for half an hour. These can be seen by any nearby players, attracting them to your location. Some businesses have advertised when they will be setting these off, allowing users to stop by at the right time. Many will then opt to stay for a drink or a bite. Think about it; for 79p you only need one or two customers to stop by to have profited from it.

Until the initial excitement has died down, it’s hard to know how long love for the game will last. New features are said to be in the pipeline but some have been quick to identify Pokémon Go as a fad rather than fixture. Either way, it has certainly provided some food for thought as far as augmented reality, or AR, is concerned. The technology has been around in some form or another since the ’50s, with varying degrees of success. A few years back it seemed people were not quite ready for Google Glass, yet head-up displays in cars and aircraft are becoming increasingly common. More recently, 360 videos have worked brilliantly, giving people an interactive taste of festivals and sporting events on their phone. At Wardour we’re currently working on some of these ourselves, so watch this space.

Whatever happens next for the game, Pokémon Go has shown that the application of AR can have mass appeal. Just as social media became part of the mainstream, it is likely to form part of your marketing strategy in years to come. For our money, it’s worth exploring it now, if only to begin understanding its capabilities.

Published Aug 02, 2016

Everything you know is wrong

by Tim Turner, Content Director – Jul 22, 2016

The title of July’s CMA Digital Breakfast was ‘Creating unique, impactful and interactive content’, but it might as well have been called ‘everything you know is wrong’. All three presentations highlighted the fact that trying to create hard and fast rules for marketing is like trying to stuff an octopus into a string bag.

Take demographics. Marketers have traditionally targeted campaigns at people based on their age, gender and so on, but as Bizhan Govindji of Ogilvy PR pointed out, these groupings, and the assumptions made about them, can be misleading. For instance, the long-held belief that the core target market for computer games is teenage boys is no longer true, as the huge numbers of young women playing Pokémon Go proves. As for the much-trumpeted Millennial generation, this encompasses a 16-year age range. As Govindji asked rhetorically, how much do any us have in common with someone 16 years older or younger than us?

Then there’s the idea that disruption is key to gaining an audience’s attention in an age where marketing is everywhere. Far better, according to Stephen Wise of Trigger Buzz, to use relevance and topicality to fit into the world where your audience lives, whether that is TV, Facebook, Twitter or another medium.

Another theme that resonated was the misleading assumption that technology creates exciting new opportunities for marketers. It does, of course – but when the technology comes first, the outcome is usually disappointing. Govindji and fellow speaker Peter Kirk of Kirk Direct both talked about the importance of being technology-enabled, not technology-driven. In other words, come up with a creative idea, then decide on the best technological solution to bring it to life.

Ultimately, this session was all about creativity – devising clever campaigns that cut through the lazy assumptions to connect with a target audience. My favourite was a TV campaign for music station Radio X in which four well-known broadcasters were shown running a barber’s shop (puntastically named On Hair). To tie in with Euro 16, the DJs were filmed shooting the breeze about football, and the production company selected 25 snippets of banter that might be applicable to various results. Then, depending on how England (or Wales, or Northern Ireland) had got on, an appropriate clip was aired immediately after the final whistle for maximum topicality.

What I like about this campaign is the amount of thought and planning that went into creating the flexibility to react to events in the real world. It’s a great trick if you can pull it off.

Published Jul 22, 2016

Crisis, what crisis?

by Tim Turner, Content Director – Jun 30, 2016

Internal comms teams could be about to have their moment in the sun. The prospect of a long period of uncertainty, triggered by Brexit, means many unknowns for managers and staff, while boards are about to be tested in ways they can’t predict.

But if crisis and uncertainty are a great test of leadership, the victors will be those leaders who make decisions and communicate clearly, and also act as cheerleaders. And that’s where the internal comms teams come in, advising and shaping messages and then cascading those messages from leadership teams to employees.

Here’s how they will help steer businesses through the stormy waters ahead…

Work out whether your internal communications team has the right capabilities

Whether a team or a one-man show, businesses need to be sure they have the right internal communication skills in place to support senior management through this time. The ability to execute communication quickly and professionally almost goes without saying, but the ability to advise senior managers and make internal communications a factor in decision making requires experience, confidence and an ability to grasp changing and complex situations quickly.

Review the internal communications cycle

You cannot provide staff with immediate reaction to every breaking Brexit story. Establish your own regular internal comms news cycle for addressing Brexit issues facing the business, giving management enough time to analyse the situation and for internal comms to prepare briefings for line managers and higher-level updates to all staff. This may begin as a weekly process while the external news environment remains frenetic.

Get the channels right

Face-to-face communications is often the most effective approach for delivering messages, it inspires confidence and is more conducive to providing a dialogue between staff and management. For many large organisations gathering staff in front of the CEO for a regular update is simply not an option. A one off ‘town hall meeting’ to all staff on location – made available to remote teams – outlining the current situation, and how the organisation will inform staff through the coming months, will help manage expectations as to how and when information on these issues will be communicated.

Following this, internal communications need to get the right mix of regular written communications and face-to-face. A weekly note from senior management delivered either through existing channels or a bespoke platform provides important profile for the leadership. Meanwhile, internal comms should be supporting line managers with appropriate materials, such as an FAQ briefings package to help them reiterate top-level messages and give guidance at an operational level face-to-face.

Don’t let staff lose sight of the strategic narrative

Communicating through a crisis if often a tactical exercise. Ultimately you want those tactics to steer you back to talking about your long-term strategic agenda.

The actions management may take as a consequence of the external environment is where internal communications needs to tell a story of how the organisation can stay or get back on track by presenting clear and achievable goals. Those actions and aims will need to be continually communicated using the range of channels available to reinforce and reiterate.

Don’t forget to celebrate success

When external factors weigh on a business it is easy for staff to feel demoralised and impotent. That’s why it is vitally important that successes – new business, new productivity and great pieces of work or thinking – are praised and valued. It demonstrates that individuals and the business retain some control over the affairs of the business.

Most leaders agree that good internal communications are vital, but often it is a function at the end of the queue for budget and C-suite attention. Usually it takes a crisis to make the case for investing in the way the business speaks to its people. If CEOs are losing sleep over Brexit, knowing that the internal comms is robust enough to keep employees focused and on point through choppy waters it is one less thing to worry about.

Published Jun 30, 2016

6 ways that content shaped the Brexit debate

by Emily Peters, Assistant Editor – Jun 27, 2016

The British referendum on the European Union illustrated one of the golden rules of content marketing: the best campaigns integrate a range of different tools and platforms. From traditional newspaper journalism to quirky social memes, content helped shape the debate and influence the outcome.

Here are the six fundamentals that were key to the campaigns:

1. Emotional connection

Any good communications campaign needs to do more than simply illustrate a point or set out its argument. For an audience to truly buy into its message, they need to connect with it. This is something the Brexit campaign mastered when it really mattered. Their campaign was more about the big picture emotion and less about any detailed information. People bought into the vision of “Independence Day” and inarguably that emotional pull helped clinch the vote.

2. Traditional techniques

Both Voteleave and the UK Government took fairly safe approaches to marketing their campaigns on the digital and print sides. Voteleavetakecontrol.org opted for a stark homepage with a ticking economic clock that displayed the UK’s contributions to the EU in real time. It was a powerful bit of web design, but many found fault with its accuracy…

Meanwhile, the Government threw all it could at the ‘Remain’ campaign, producing a 16-page booklet that landed on millions of doorsteps nationwide. As many argued at the time, this was less an example of genius content marketing and more a case of unconvincing political propaganda. What it did was get the message into people’s homes and to those without access to the digital world.

3. Social verve

Few topics engage (or enrage!) as many people as politics – and few platforms generate as much discussion as social media. #EUref memes started infiltrating our social feeds back in April, and they’ve made a pretty much daily appearance since then. Illustrator Veronica Dearly created her fair share of #Remain memes, including a tongue-in-cheek “Fromage, not Farrage” design, and another entitled: “Which way should I vote if I like Prosecco?”

4. Long-form series

The likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have been awash with propaganda from both campaigns – and sifting through the resulting content has felt like a job in itself. During the final week of the campaign, LinkedIn joined in with its first ever fully integrated marketing and communications campaign in the UK to promote long-form publishing on the platform. #OffTheFence encouraged business leaders to publish their views on whether the UK should stay or go – generating 10,000 posts within the first day or so.

5. User-generated content

Have you ever gone for a drink with someone and decided that the beer mat in front of you warrants more of your attention? J D Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin saw the potential and printed 200,000 mats that argued for a leave vote. The Guardian felt its readers could do better, and asked them to send in their own EU referendum beer mat designs. Our favourite was one that read: “Try not to be influenced by a badly designed beer mat.”

6. Media backing

Ultimately it was the mainstream media that shaped the largest proportion of opinions during the debate. Whether it was the Telegraph’s opinion pieces or the Daily Mail and the Sun’s front pages for pro-Leave, or the Guardian’s comical Patrick Stewart sketch for Remain, the newspapers churned out content that dominated search engines, sparked social media outbursts and generated an unprecedented amount of water-cooler talk.

Readers’ reactions to newspaper coverage also showed that print journalism is far from dead. The giants of Fleet Street – those British newspapers that still have large circulations and influential readership figures – that were openly pro-Brexit undoubtedly played a large part in shaping Friday’s result. The Guardian has since reported that the Mail, Telegraph, Express and Star accounted for four times as many readers and anti-EU stories as their pro-Remain rivals.

It all goes to show, that when it comes to high-profile communications campaigns, you need to be successful at integrating different channels and content strands as well as striking an emotional connection with your audience. But having the media on side can make all the difference!

Published Jun 27, 2016

4 things we’ve learned about tech innovation

by Tim Turner, Content Director – Jun 14, 2016

A while ago I took part in the BIMA Tech Innovation Tour – an enjoyable day spent visiting a variety of technology-focused organisations, mainly based in former factory and warehouse buildings in East London. Here are a few observations I gleaned about the world of tech innovation today:

1) Digital is collaborative

If your image of a coder is someone sitting alone in a darkened room in front of a computer for hours on end, think again. On our visit to Maker’s Academy, we saw a room full of students engaged in ‘pair programming’, which is exactly what it sounds like – two people writing code together, learning from each other.

Maker’s Academy describes itself as an ‘intensive web developer bootcamp’, taking in people with no experience of coding and sending them out into the world 12 weeks later as fully-fledged web developers. There’s clearly a great stress on creativity as well as hard work, and I got the strong impression that these students (not all of them young, incidentally – Academy graduates have included people in their 40s and 50s) are setting themselves up to succeed in the digital future.

2) Analytics are powerful

Our next stop was Unruly, an advertising tech company that distributes and promotes online advertising. Now we know that video is growing fast as a vehicle for content marketing, being a perfect medium to create engagement – here at Wardour, we’re now producing at least one video a week on average.

Unruly’s USP is their use of data. They have data on 2 trillion video views, a proprietary analytics package and algorithms that evaluate content shareability and ensure that videos are targeted at the right audience. In a short visit, we only got a glimpse of the potential, but it was confirmation (not that any was needed) that data is key in the digital age.

3) It’s about talent spotting

After lunch it was off to the Barclays Accelerator. We’ve just written about accelerators in the BVCA Journal, so it was interesting to see one at first hand.

Barclays has teamed up with a venture capital firm, Techstars, to run the accelerator programme, which gives fintech start-ups a chance to finesse their businesses, as well as access to industry experts and potential clients. Those potential clients, inevitably, include Barclays, but we were assured that the bank has no interest in absorbing any start-ups; instead, it will license promising technologies. It was curious to think that, somewhere in that space, someone could be sitting on a concept that will transform the way we handle payments in the years to come.

4) But it’s not all about start-ups

After visiting so many funky offices, all bright colours and exposed brickwork (not to mention the obligatory ping pong table), it was a culture shock to end up at IBM’s concrete and glass 1980s HQ on the South Bank. We were there to learn about Watson, the 104-year-old company’s pioneering artificial intelligence project.

Reassuringly, this doesn’t appear to be about creating machines capable of independent thought, and thus the first step on the road that leads inevitably to a Terminator scenario. The idea behind Watson is to create applications that use natural language processing and machine learning to generate insights from vast amounts of data. In a US hospital, Watson (primed with every medical textbook and academic journal ever published) helps cancer specialists locate the right treatments for patients. More prosaically, a hotel chain is using it to develop a ‘robot concierge’ that can answer any question guests are likely to ask.

So is Watson, backed by IBM’s millions, more likely to succeed than a fintech start-up in the Barclays Accelerator programme? The answer would appear to be, “not necessarily”, which is what makes the tech world so endlessly fascinating. No one knows where the next big thing is coming from.

Published Jun 14, 2016

A very different website

by Matt Goodenday, Account Manager – May 17, 2016

When we first met the Ignition Law team at their offices near Liverpool Street, what we saw was definitely not what we were expecting. Coming out of the lift, we were welcomed by a buzzing social area, which reminded us more of a trendy Shoreditch bar than a corporate meeting place. Modern art hung on exposed brickwork and there was a bar where everyone could help themselves to coffee, fresh juice and beer (if so inclined). All around, young entrepreneurs were chatting about their new start-up ventures. Essentially, we saw all the things we were not expecting to find at a law firm.

What we came to realise was that this environment was a true reflection of Ignition Law’s ethos and vision: a start-up law firm that works with other start-ups. This was the philosophy that would guide our subsequent work with the company.

The reason for meeting was to discuss the next phase in Ignition Law’s development. The team felt that their current website didn’t reflect who they were and so the goal was to break away from the style of a traditional law firm and create something that truly represented them.

The first step was to develop a look and feel. We began by presenting the firm with a range of mood boards that reflected the various creative routes we could take. We then produced a set of webpage designs, which combined the visuals that we all agreed worked best.

The company’s offices provided the perfect backdrop for shooting photography that would complement the website’s new look and feel. It was vital that the personality of the firm, as well as their working environment, really came through. So, one Thursday morning in November, we went along to the firm’s offices and shot a number of photos that did exactly that.

Once the designs were complete, our creative team handed the project over to Wardour’s technical wizards. The site was initially created as modular front-end templates, using the wireframes as a visual guide. Once we were all happy with the functionality and the user experience, the templates were linked to the CMS and all of the imagery and content was incorporated.

We ended up with a simple, informative and visually striking website that embodies Ignition Law’s ethos. It’s a very different digital platform for ‘a very different law firm’.

Click here to take a look at the website.

Published May 17, 2016

It was 20 years ago tomorrow

by Claire Oldfield, Managing Director – Apr 22, 2016

In the same week that the Queen reaches 90 and we mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, there is another auspicious date. On 23 April 1996, Wardour began life. There will be more cause for celebration over the coming months as we mark the day we actually started working (rather than the day the company was incorporated) – but we’ve never knowingly ignored a reason for a party!

It’s a time for celebration and reflection – so what better way of doing both than asking the current team what they were doing 20 years ago. The answers, as you would expect from a marketing and comms agency, are diverse, surprising and funny.

To save people from themselves, we’ve kept the responses (more or less) anonymous:

“I was a newspaper journalist. I was driving a Citroen ZX.”

“I had just moved to London after living in Milan, where I had been modelling. My agent here wanted me to come to London, though when I finally arrived, I felt like a very small fish in a gigantic pond.”

“Learning that champagne was the answer, whatever the question.”

“I was Assistant Editor of Runner’s World magazine, writing articles on training and nutrition and travelling the country to report on – and sometimes compete in – running events. I’ve never been as fit as I was then.”

“I was dancing in my mother’s heels to the Spice Girls.”

“I was at school, getting extremely excited over England’s prospects at Euro 96.”

“I was working as a lifeguard and swimming instructor at local swimming pools. All necessary skills for account management – we do often feel like we’re drowning!”

“It’s a bit misty, but I was probably telling my 16-year-old daughter, ‘You are NOT going out dressed like that!’, and berating number two son for mocking number one son on his need for an asthma pump by running up to him with a bicycle pump and saying ‘Don’t forget your pump, Daniel!’ Or, most likely, embarrassing all three by dancing around the living room to Ooh aah just a little bit by Gina G.”

“I was working in my first job post-university on £7,000 p.a. My dad told me to start earning some money. It was a low-end local job on an industrial estate, and I remember asking my colleague not to smoke in the Portacabin we shared!”

“I would have been at school, unless it was a Friday night, when I’d most likely have been at the Waterworld aqua disco with the boys, trying to pick up girls in our swimwear. Classy!”

“14… hmm… at school… I was in Rome on a music tour!”

“I was designing yoga, wine and sex books for Hamlyn and playing table-football in the attic at work.”

“I can’t actually remember, as I presume I was in nappies at the time.”

“Setting up an agency.”

Published Apr 22, 2016

The views from the 39th floor

by Tim Turner, Content Director – Apr 07, 2016

It’s 6.30am on a frosty morning in January, and Matt (the account manager) and I are wandering the corridors beneath Canary Wharf like lost souls, looking for a secret portal into a magical kingdom. Well, actually it’s the contractor’s entrance to the Citibank building, but it’s as well concealed as any secret portal. We walk past it three times before we finally spot it, enter, collect our contractor’s passes, meet up with the film crew (who’ve come in through the loading bay in a van) and take the goods lift up to the AFME offices on the 39th floor.

We’re here to shoot a brand video for AFME – the Association for Financial Markets in Europe, an organisation that acts as a single voice for Europe’s banks and other financial market participants, advocating on their behalf with regulators and policy-makers. You may not have heard of them – which is precisely why we’re producing this video, which will explain who they are and what they do in five minutes or so.

At 9am, having watched the sun rise, I’m enjoying the view east from the 39th floor, which takes in the O2, City Airport, the Emirates Air Line and, way off in the hazy distance, the Dartford Crossing. The cameras and lights are all set up in the boardroom and we’re just waiting for our first interviewee to arrive.

Today is the culmination of a process that began a couple of months ago, and which has been founded on meticulous planning. It started with a briefing and a follow-up meeting, in the course of which we established exactly what AFME wants to get out of the video and the messages it needs to convey. We used these learnings to put together a detailed storyboard, divided into clear ‘chapters’, and a list of questions for each of the six planned interviews.

Those interviews take place over two days and feature key members of AFME itself, board members who are also senior executives of firms such as BNP Paribas, Lloyds Banking Group and BNY Mellon, and an MEP who has had many dealings with AFME. All are engaging speakers and, crucially, patient when we have to keep stopping as yet another plane lands or takes off from the airport, passing alarmingly close to the building. Despite the interruptions, we get what we need quickly and efficiently.

The planning really pays off when we get to the editing stage. The video editor is able to follow the storyboard very closely, and the only real challenge is cutting the video down to a manageable length, given the amount of good material we’ve got to work with. Once that’s been agreed, it’s just a question of adding the final touches that will make the video truly engaging: footage of Europe’s financial centres that reinforces the key messages, an animation that explains the key points of capital markets union (one of AFME’s main priorities), and music that subtly emphasises the dynamic mood of the film.

Everyone is delighted with the finished film, which you can see here. And I have fond memories of two days spent moving around the Citibank building via the goods lift and service corridors, feeling a bit like Bruce Willis in Die Hard. And the views from the 39th floor really are spectacular.

Published Apr 07, 2016

Long-form is back – and it’s better

by Martin MacConnol, Chief Executive – Mar 30, 2016

We’ve started to note a distinct trend at Wardour. Yes, we live in a world of soundbites, pull-stats and listicles. But that does not mean that long-form content is dead.

Perhaps it’s to do with the audiences we are often asked to engage with. Much of our work is at the ‘heavyweight’ end of the scale – commissioning societal thinkers for the Royal Society of Arts, or interviewing global business leaders for EY. You just can’t get all meaningful insights into a 200-word list.

Our clients are increasingly realising this. We feel a backlash to the marketing industry pressure to cut back and dumb down. Yes, the quick hits of content that now act as brand advertising on Twitter, LinkedIn et al have to exist to hook in audiences during their busy, media-saturated lives. But no, these content ads are not the solution, only the journey to a solution that once again is increasingly focused on something in-depth, well thought-out and meaningfully nuanced.

So we are seeing a renaissance of the long-form art of content creation – but in this post-digital age it’s a renaissance with a key difference to what went before.

Because, of course, long-form is now truly multimedia. Today isn’t just about 1,000 words plus on a page. It’s about a fusion of words, pictures, videos, infographics, audio and more, to tell a story in a variety of different and powerful ways. Each complements the next, building to create something that is more than the sum of its parts.

A great example of long-form reborn is the work we did for our tech client Gemalto in Estonia. Gemalto wanted to show to government leaders in the country that they really appreciated how embedded digital transformation is to the nation – and to remind them that Gemalto’s work has been (and should continue to be) integral to the concept of digital government services in Estonia. And naturally, beyond that, our client wanted other blossoming ‘digital’ nations to see how in step with the vision of digital government they are.

We achieved this through a new kind of story, building a content microsite to take audiences through the story of digital transformation in Estonia with a combination of words, stats, photos, infographics and videos. Each element provides a separate ‘advertising’ soundbite that the world of always-on demands. But in their totality they show a level of understanding of the complex issues that only a proper piece of in-depth journalism can deliver.

The production process was complex, the filming and interviewing in location on cold days in Tallinn stretched the team. But the result has been undeniable success for the client. Forget the Grand Award from iNova for best microsite of 2015. Forget too that nearly 20,000 people have engaged with what can only be regarded as a fairly ‘niche’ topic. Dwell instead on who these people are: key influencers the Gemalto team wanted to reach, including two European Commission policymakers and the Estonian president himself. Now that’s influence a soundbite can’t generate.

Click here to see the result of our always-on microsite for Gemalto.

Published Mar 30, 2016

Uncharted waters

by Ryan Kelly, Head of Digital – Mar 07, 2016

Imagine running a half marathon in the middle of the North Sea. It might sound crazy, but that’s what Simon Messenger did last year.

Since giving up his weekly commute in 2013, Simon has been on mission to run 80 races in 80 different locations around the world. Over the past few months, I’ve been working on a film that documents one of his most outlandish runs yet – the first half marathon on the Principality of Sealand, a self-declared country located seven miles off the east coast of England.

Back in the Second World War, the British had built a number of platforms out in the North Sea armed with guns to target German aircraft. After the war, they were all abandoned, but a man named Roy Bates saw an opportunity in those deserted platforms and turned one into a principality.

I’d wanted to go to Sealand ever since I first heard about it, but I never thought I’d actually get there. But last year I started making short documentary films with a group of friends, and a trip to Sealand suddenly seemed like a real possibility.

Simon got in touch with Roy’s grandson James, to see if he could run a half marathon out there, and we thought it would make the perfect subject for a documentary. James agreed to let us film Simon’s race – but because access to Sealand is weather dependent, we only had a day to capture what we needed and get back to shore.

Just getting out there was a mission in itself. We all piled into a rubber dinghy, and then each of us was winched up to the platform on a bosun’s chair – basically a swing. You’re not strapped in – it’s just some rope and a piece of wood that you’d find in a pub garden – and it takes about 10 minutes to winch you up while you dangle above the ocean. It’s not for the faint-hearted.

We thought we’d have all day, but soon after we got there we were told that if we didn’t finish in the next two hours, we wouldn’t get back to shore for a couple of weeks. It was a cool place, but as it’s the size of a couple of tennis courts, we didn’t fancy being marooned there for days. Thankfully, Simon finished his half marathon before the weather turned nasty, and we all breathed a sigh of relief at the prospect of being back on dry land.

We’ve now completed production and the final cut was recently recognised by the Guardian. Documenting the race was miles away from a typical day in the office, but in many ways, it was content creation that led us there.

You can watch the documentary here.

Published Mar 07, 2016

Wonder walls

by David Donaghy, Art Director – Mar 04, 2016

How do you make employees feel part of a single successful division within Barclays when they’re spread out across 18 sites in two countries? The answer was the Team Advocacy Campaign, a reward and recognition scheme that we helped bring to life by producing 134 pieces of artwork championing the team’s efforts.

A previous campaign we’d helped Barclays produce for Mortgages staff had impressed Bob Cliff, Managing Director of Team Advocacy, who wanted us to create something similar for his team.

We began by running a series of workshops with team members to find out what they do and what makes them tick. We found that, as with most staff, it’s not necessarily money that makes them happy – what they’re looking for is recognition for all their hard work.

From that, we created a campaign that combined storytelling with striking portrait photography, to show how colleagues throughout the UK and India are realising their team’s aim. This goal is to deliver the ‘Right outcome, right way’ for customers, whether it’s by taking ownership of a complaint or going the extra mile to resolve an issue with a bank account.

The campaign involved us shattering content to make the most of team members’ experiences with customers. While the full stories live on Barclays’ intranet, we took quotes and printed them, alongside photos of staff quoted, on wall vinyls and banners that were displayed across Team Advocacy sites on ‘Welcome Walls’. Barclays wanted team members to enter the sites, see their colleagues’ achievements on display and say: “Wow, this is what I’m part of”.

There was also the challenge of creating consistency across the portrait photography – no easy task when you’re commissioning a group of photographers using different light from each other, and photographing people at lots of different heights. We worked with a company called Photoshot that allowed us to photograph team members against a green screen, which we later replaced with a gradient background, creating a really good consistency across the board.

The overall result is a campaign that has proved a hit with Team Advocacy members. We’ve received great feedback from sites, with reports of staff standing next to Welcome Walls for half an hour, admiring the displays and reading their colleagues’ quotes.

And our efforts didn’t end there. We also produced Team Advocacy badges, a welcome ‘flicker booklet’ to inform and inspire colleagues, and a line managers’ pack explaining how the campaign works.

It all added up to a memorable campaign that is helping to make Team Advocacy members feel rightly proud of theirs and their colleagues’ achievements.

Published Mar 04, 2016

A year in awards

by Emily Peters, Assistant Editor – Jan 29, 2016

It’s that time of year again: it’s cold, it’s dark and there are no Christmas parties waiting for us after work to make the commute seem more bearable. But rather than wallow in the so-called ‘January blues’, we decided to take advantage of our rather empty diary and reflect on what we achieved in 2015.

Along with a number of silver and bronze accolades, last year we secured a total of 10 gold awards for both print and digital content. We’ve worked hard on our digital offering over the last few years, building microsites and creating innovative videos and animations in a constant effort to push ourselves to new heights. The launch of our ‘Putting the E in Estonia’ microsite for digital security giant Gemalto represented a defining moment in Wardour history that brought together a whole host of these skills. Highlighting the rise of eGovernment in the former Soviet nation, the project put us at the crest of a new wave of long-form, multimedia, immersive content. In December, the microsite won a gold award at the iNova awards – a testament to our digital team and hopefully a sign of things to come.

Of course, new-fangled projects like this accompanied a wave of – equally significant – continuous digital work. One of our first projects to straddle to world of digital and print was our work with the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment, so we were delighted when the Institute of Internal Communication (IoIC) credited it with the best integrated media award in September.

But 2015 wasn’t all about digital. The two gold gongs we received for Perspective, the quarterly print magazine we produce for investment manager Brewin Dolphin, are a firm reminder that print is still very much one of our guiding principles. It might not offer the razzmatazz of digital, but sometimes you just can’t beat a sleek, coffee-table-adorning publication.

Finally, as much as we’re proud to produce brilliant content for financial services organisations, last year’s accolades are also proof that it’s not our only area of expertise. Perhaps the greatest testament to our team’s ability to turn its hands to anything is the RSA Journal: the quarterly print magazine we create for the Royal Society of Arts. The journal won an award for best print entry at the IoIC awards – along with another for best membership magazine.

Heart Matters, the regular feature-led print magazine we produce for the British Heart Foundation, is another great example. From in-depth features that unearth the emotional impact of heart surgery, to recipes that let you eat well on a budget, it’s packed with brilliant content. Last year, the publication received a gold award at the IoIC awards, and we’re looking to uphold its award-winning reputation this year.

Upon reflection then, it’s safe to say that we had a pretty eventful 2015: the perfect incentive, we think, to strive for an equally productive year ahead.

Published Jan 29, 2016

A game of FTSE

by Lawrence Cohen, Editor – Dec 23, 2015

It’s always nice to be asked to help a client mark a special milestone, but when London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) asked us to produce a booklet celebrating the 20th anniversary of FTSE, they presented us with a tricky challenge: how do you celebrate the birthday of a famous institution while at the same time introducing its newly created indexing company, FTSE Russell?

The answer was Index Insights, a week-long, integrated digital marketing campaign that chronicled FTSE’s rise while explaining how FTSE Russell plans to remain at the forefront of global indexing.

First, we produced an electronic booklet that looked back at the history of FTSE, from the early days of indexing, when calculations of benchmark levels were mainly done manually just once a quarter, right through to today’s world in which FTSE Russell calculates more than 1,800 indexes in real time.

The booklet also featured quotes from clients and business partners reflecting on FTSE’s achievements and congratulating the organisation on its 20th anniversary.

We then took content from the booklet and repurposed it for the rest of the campaign. On the Monday, we ran an introductory blog and video from FTSE Russell CEO Mark Makepeace. And over the next three days we ran a three-part feature that looked at the past, present and future of indexing. The series was complemented by a timeline that showed key milestones in the history of indexing from 1884 to the current day. Then, on the Friday, we published the booklet, along with an animated infographic that showed just how far FTSE has come since its foundation in 1995.

The result was an entertaining and informative digital marketing campaign that not only drew praise from a number of people at FTSE Russell, including the CEO, but attracted more than 1,000 unique views and many happy returns throughout the week.

Published Dec 23, 2015

Why ‘junk food’ content is not the answer

by Emily Peters, Assistant Editor – Dec 03, 2015

LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions Blog recently published an infographic that explains why we’re all hungry for ‘remarkable’ content – and why there’s little appetite for cheap, throwaway material.

I stumbled across it while scrolling through my Twitter timeline, bleary-eyed, on an early-morning commute. I was barely alert enough to take note of the tube stations we were trundling past, but for some reason this tweet stopped my scrolling stupor in its tracks. And with 4.6m other pieces of content fighting for my attention that morning (so the infographic tells me), it needed to.

Once I’d read the tweet and clicked on this link, I thought: “Why did the infographic hold my attention?” Well, it confirmed something I already knew, but also shared new, interesting information. I could identify with the subject, but also felt more informed as a result of my click. The design by cartoonist Hugh MacLeod was clever and visually stimulating, but it also made me laugh. In short, it was a great example of what it preached.

According to the infographic, with 63% of consumers likely to defect from brands whose content is irrelevant to them, ‘junk food content’ (material that has little to do with the brand or customer) can end a consumer-brand relationship before it even begins. Instead, as we’ve always maintained here at Wardour, the way to the humble consumer’s heart is often through an engaging article, listicle, blog, infographic, image or video (the list of content types goes on) that’s relevant to them, catches their attention and leaves them wanting more.

Unlike the flash sales of Black Friday, which temporarily removed the need for brands to build relationships with customers (who needs longevity when you can bag a Nutribullet for half the recommended retail price?), content creation is about connecting with your audience – ultimately, to generate loyalty. While a quick giveaway can be a brilliant way to attract new customers, you’ll need to offer something more substantial if you’re looking to keep hold of them. In other words: the content’s got to be good.

Published Dec 03, 2015

Black Friday and the acceleration of digital

by Martin MacConnol, Chief Executive – Nov 26, 2015

It’s an obvious truth that the world is becoming more digital. What is more interesting from our vantage point at Wardour is that this change is not steady: it is accelerating at a dramatic rate.

Black Friday is tomorrow, but it’s not all chaotic scrums over flat-screen TVs. Experian-IMRG predicts that online spending in the UK will hit £1bn. Not only will that mark a new single-day high, it will also represent a 32% increase on last year’s figure. That is double-digit growth of a very high order.

Of course, Black Friday is but a single day (or a single long weekend if you include the period to Cyber Monday) but it is part of a longer-term trend, not a solitary blip.

We listened to the co-founder of Atom Bank, Anthony Thomson, speaking at the Festival of Marketing earlier this month. He cited some pretty compelling evidence from his long-in-the-tooth rivals to back up his conviction that the rate of digital change is accelerating. Just one was the number of old-school banking customers who have moved to mobile banking apps in the last year.

We see the acceleration of digital in our work too. These days, it’s rare indeed (but never unwelcome!) for us to see a brief for a print magazine, and on the advertising side we’ve reached a tipping point, with many requests for digital-first plans.

All this makes life interesting, but it gives us wakeful nights on behalf of some of our clients too. Some seem to think that because the platforms and channels we use for digital have now been pretty well established (from HTML5 to Facebook), the marketing and comms landscape has become fixed.

The reality is that the landscape isn’t fixed at all. Take a lesson from history. Johannes Gutenberg may have invented the printing press, but he only printed one book: the Bible. The acceleration of print technology came afterwards, as the creatives realised the power they had been given. And thus was the publishing industry born, transforming the world at an exponential rate.

We are at a similar moment now. The creatives are again understanding the power of the new technology at their disposal. As a result, the transition to digital will continue to accelerate. Businesses that snooze at this moment will definitely be the losers.

Published Nov 26, 2015

Why journalists are the best people to work with

by Katie Dolamore, Editor – Nov 20, 2015

We at Wardour pride ourselves on the fact that we’re editorially led – we’re driven to create great content, no matter what subject or platform. Everything we produce benefits from the creative and literary expertise of our team of in-house journalists, but we actually offer much more than that.

A journalist is equipped with a unique set of skills that extends far beyond penning a catchy headline or a punchy quote. When you work with a journalist, you’re working with the best kind of consultant to help you develop effective content solutions. This is because, modesty aside, we are pretty amazing at the following five things:

One: We do our research

A journalist should never enter an interview unprepared, and we’ve honed our research skills down to a fine art. We try our best to understand as much as we can about you, your business and your content before we even speak to you, which means that our conversations will be tailored, targeted and to the point. We don’t want to waste time for either of us, after all. This also means we’re ideally trained to spot new trends and interesting ideas that you could use – who better to keep on top of the news than the people who break it?

Two: We’re organised

It’s a simple one, but it’s also crucial. A journalist’s diary is typically packed, and we thrive in the busiest of environments. After getting used to the hubbub of a hectic newsroom, we’re not easily fazed and will make extra efforts to deliver solutions to you on time and on spec.

Three: We know we don’t know everything

The best tool in a journalist’s toolkit is our ability to ask the right questions, and then really listen to what you have to say. A client relationship, much like an interview, should always be two-way – so we’ll also work hard to respond to what you tell us, so we can ensure we get everything right.

Four: Clarity is our strong suit

Have you ever listened to advice from someone, and realised that you’ve barely understood a word? We hate jargon, so we don’t use it. A good writer knows how to explain something in the simplest possible way, so when we pitch new ideas to you, you should never feel left behind.

Five: We know a good angle

Our job is matching stories to audiences, so we have a lot of experience in crafting copy to suit different readers. We’re quick to work out what will make your target audience tick, and can hone content so it suits their particular needs. That’s not to mention all the knowledge we have of SEO and social media, which will help us make your content stand out exactly where it matters most.

Published Nov 20, 2015

Why an agile sensibility is taking hold at Wardour

by Emily Peters, Assistant Editor – Nov 12, 2015

The speakers at this month’s BIMA Breakfast Briefing discussed why marketers and content creators should consider revising their methodologies and internal structures with a view to becoming more agile.

As an assistant editor at Wardour with no management experience, this concept was new to me. Now that I’m back in the office, however, I’ve come to realise that it’s actually far more familiar than I first thought.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, in the business world, agility denotes ‘a method of project management, used especially for software development, that is characterised by the division of tasks into short phases of work and frequent reassessment and adaptation of plans’. If you consider this alongside the word’s generic definition (‘the ability to move quickly and easily’), agility is something that many journalists, designers and account managers will be as well versed in as their C-suite employers. After all, flexibility, efficiency and being open to new ideas are prerequisites for any professional creative process.

But Wardour’s affiliation with ‘agile’ arguably goes much deeper than this. It’s not just the generic term that describes how we work; several aspects of the ‘agile marketing manifesto’ also underpin a lot of what we do. During the briefing, Jim Bowes, chief executive and co-founder of digital agency Manifesto, spoke about seven values that make up this strategy, but there were four that really spoke to me:

1. Adaptive and iterative campaigns over Big-Bang campaigns

2. Flexible over rigid planning

3. Responding to change over following a plan

4. Many small experiments over a few large bets

Particularly as digital has taken hold, it’s seemed only natural to become as responsive to change as the real-time content that so many of us are now producing. Several of our digital projects spring to mind – as do the collaborative, iterative processes that guaranteed their timely delivery.

While Wardour may not have made a conscious decision to roll out the methodology discussed during BIMA’s breakfast session, our fluid approach to content creation and our digital focus make us strong players in today’s nimble communications stratosphere. Like any agency, we’ll continue to evolve, but this month’s briefing confirmed that we’re moving in the right direction.

Published Nov 12, 2015

Cover(s) of the month

by Daniel Coupe, Art Director – Nov 05, 2015

Working as the design lead on a membership magazine for the British Heart Foundation (BHF) has its challenges, not least because its subject matter is often highly sensitive. But every challenge is a creative opportunity.

This was the case with the November issue of Heart Matters, when our cover story celebrated women who’ve had open heart surgery. The resultant scar is quite a big one, extending up to the neck. Many women describe feeling self-conscious, as though strangers are staring, and consequently want to cover up.

Fortunately, this feeling doesn’t always last. Our cover stars, aged 27 and 61, now feel proud of their scars and wanted to show them off to help others in the same situation. Our challenge was to plan a shoot that would empower these women and celebrate the surgery that saved their lives.

Inspired by the Dove ‘real beauty’ campaign, we suggested a shoot that would show the beauty of each person and the pride with which they wear their scars. After collaborating with our client, this concept evolved into a fashion shoot using clothing from BHF shops, with a focus on looks for the festive season. Neatly, the corresponding feature explains how the BHF uses the money made from the sale of these Christmas looks (and other clothing donated to their BHF shops) to fund life-changing research.

In the end, our photographer Kate Peters produced so many wonderful shots that we decided to do a split-run cover – in true fashion mag style. Together, the two covers illustrate that while open heart surgery affects women of all ages, it doesn’t have to change the way you feel about yourself.

Read about the women featured in our cover story:

Published Nov 05, 2015

Ask the experts

by Tim Turner, Content Director – Oct 30, 2015

There’s an old saying that a journalist is only as good as their contacts book, and that’s certainly true here at Wardour. We have a team of experienced editors, of course, but there are some projects where we need to use expert freelancers. Whether it’s investment banking or construction, IT or human resources, we commission writers who live and breathe their subject.

There are still times when you’re surprised by a freelancer’s achievements, though. We were talking in the office recently about technology writers and I recalled one particular journalist who I hadn’t heard from in a while, a chap called Steve Gold. So I looked him up online – and discovered that he had died in January this year, aged just 59, from complications following heart surgery.

I never met Steve: as with many freelancers, our conversations were conducted by phone and email. He lived in the hills outside Sheffield, and I remember talking to him once in the depths of winter, when his house was cut off by snow and he was worried that power outages might prevent him finishing the article he was writing for me. He always came across as a nice guy; knowledgeable, creative, efficient and helpful – the perfect freelancer.

From his obituary, I learnt that he was much more than that. In a 30-year career as a cybersecurity, communications and technology journalist, he helped to found the world’s first dedicated IT security magazine, freelanced for the national press and lectured on cybercrime. Most notably, in the mid-80s, in a successful attempt to demonstrate the need for greater IT security, he and a fellow journalist hacked BT’s Prestel communications service and accessed Prince Philip’s personal message box. Their action revealed gaps in the law and led to the introduction of the UK’s first computer hacking legislation.

It was a salutary reminder of another adage beloved of journalists: that every individual has a fascinating story to tell. I’m glad I’ve learnt Steve’s story, and I’m only sorry I’ll never get to work with him again.

Published Oct 30, 2015

Why print and digital go hand-in-hand

by Joanna Lewin, Editor – Oct 20, 2015

How do you go about creating a magazine and content hub for an organisation so large that its clients span not only world geographies but also distinct business sectors, with distinct interests? That was the challenge set by the Global Transaction Banking department of one of Europe’s largest financial institutions, Deutsche Bank. And Wardour… well, we grabbed the opportunity with arms and ears wide open.

Some months after our first visit to Deutsche Bank’s impressive City dwellings, two sleek magazines named flow, with segmented content to meet these unique requirements, now adorn the foyers of the bank’s regional HQs and those of their clients around the world. No less than the Corporate Treasurer of global transportation firm Bombardier and Global Head of Process Management at one of the world’s largest investment managers, Northern Trust, stand proudly on their covers.

And that is invaluable. In this age of online, the benefits of the print magazine – an important brand calling card – can be overlooked. The attention-grabbing magazine that casually sits on a client’s coffee table during meetings, or gets inadvertently left behind in a business airport lounge ready for the next reader – a potential client, perhaps – is a subtle but effective reminder of your brand and your expertise. When that calling card is not just style-drenched, but crammed with insightful and original thought leadership from some of financial services’ best thinkers, the package becomes all the more powerful.

It’s now that Deutsche Bank’s online offering – a stream of written content, videos and infographics – becomes so vital. It will breathe continued vibrant life into the flow concept, while the printing presses lie fallow for another few months.

Many have said that print is dead, and that is simply not true. But digital content can help to remind customers that your company is always there, always relevant, always able. That’s why we call our digital programmes ‘always on’, and though it isn’t always easy to create and curate compelling, focused material for a highly technical and niche sector, flow is proof that Wardour is pretty good at it.

Published Oct 20, 2015

A blog about Bob

by Steve Gibbon, Art Director – Oct 16, 2015

This week, we were shortlisted for ‪BSME Business Cover of the Year. For anyone unfamiliar with the story behind our entry, we thought we’d revisit it…‬‬‬‬

Last year’s spring issue of The Review (the quarterly print mag we produce for Gemalto) featured articles about digital security in Brazil, the sharing economy and exclusive interviews with industry experts. Among these was an interview with Bob Metcalfe – the man who invented Ethernet.

Within seconds of getting in touch with Bob, we knew he was up for a photo shoot that would push the boundaries. And as he’s Director of Innovation at the University of Texas at Austin, we weren’t too surprised.

After some discussion, we decided that we wouldn’t shoot Bob on the university campus. He’s an incredibly interesting guy and we wanted his personality to come through, so we opted for a studio setting where we could shoot against a vivid, but simple, backdrop.

We commissioned a great photographer in Texas called Jay B Sauceda. A cut above the rest, he was really excited about pushing portraiture beyond the norm. We discussed several ideas: Bob looking through the coiled Ethernet cable; the cable entering one ear and emerging out of the other… so we briefed Jay to try a range of different things.

The shoot went brilliantly. Bob and Jay enjoyed the freedom we had given them, and this led to the idea that sparked the cover shot: coiling the Ethernet cable into a halo and having Bob wryly glancing upwards.

As with any good cover, the result speaks for itself. It captures the spirit of what Bob lives and breathes: looking at things differently and pushing the boundaries to find new and better ways to ‘do stuff’ and improve lives.

Published Oct 16, 2015

Why content marketing is like a dinner party

by Martin MacConnol, Chief Executive – Oct 12, 2015

According to some Microsoft research, the human attention span has slipped from 12 seconds to eight. This puts us behind goldfish, which can concentrate for a heady nine.

I learned this at the Next Gen media and marketing conference run by Results International last week. The organisers seemed to have taken the goldfish principle to heart, because they took a 6-hour session and filled it with 15 speakers, working at a quick-fire pace. The result was great – no time wasted and a bucket-load of insight from organisations as diverse as Accenture, Facebook and Hearst.

For an agency like Wardour, the insight was heartening. It’s clear content is still seen as the next big thing in the world of marketing and media.

And after so much focus on the technology around marketing, there seems to be a re-emerging realisation that great creativity is vital: creativity to tell stories in a highly personal and compelling way.

Perhaps my favourite bit of insight came from Chris Talago, of Waggener Edstrom, who likened successful permission-based marketing (the heart of a great content programme) to being like a good dinner party guest:

1. The customer is the host. Don’t take over.

2. Always bring a gift (add value).

3. Speak ‘with’, not ‘at’ (you are only an attendee, not the host).

4. Tell great stories, and…

5. Know when to shut up and help others share their stories.

6. Be real, authentic. No one likes a phoney.

7. Adapt to what you hear, react in real time.

My other favourite nugget goes against nearly all the points just listed. It relates to a 1965 marketing letter from the company that became Nike extolling the brilliance of their sports shoes. In the letter, the writer (Nike co-founder Phil Knight) quotes a testimonial saying that only an idiot or the uninformed wouldn’t choose his shoes.

And then the letter closes with the great pay-off line: “You are no longer uninformed”. I’m not sure how that stacks up in the permission-based world of 2015 marketing, but as a piece of chutzpah it’s brilliant.

Published Oct 12, 2015

What six awards say about Wardour today

by Martin MacConnol, Chief Executive – Sep 29, 2015

Sometimes in the world of added-value content marketing you still feel the need to do a bit of tub-thumping. After all, if someone wins Olympic Gold, you don’t drop it to the third paragraph.

And so with some pride we can talk about the five class awards and one gold award we won with our clients at the Institute of Internal Communication event last Friday.

It was a fantastic night for us – not only because a haul of six trophies is something of a personal best, but because the gongs came for five different clients and across an array of different media.

Now in our 20th year of business, I think they offer a great insight into what has changed at Wardour and what has stayed the same as technologies shift and evolve. The awards capture what the agency is all about today.

In no particular order:

  • We love financial services – exemplified by our award for MyGlobe, the employee publication for Barclays.
  • Clients who improve our day-to-day world inspire us. Our passion for the charity sector was demonstrated by the award we won with the British Heart Foundation on their Heart Matters programme.
  • We have a real expertise in all things digital. The best microsite award we picked up for EY cheered us enormously, because creating a fully personalised content portal was a true challenge.
  • We are adept at helping our clients develop print publications into always-on programmes. It was great to see our work with the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment win the best integrated media award.
  • Finally, we started in print back in 1996 and we still love it today. That passion turned into two gongs (one the gold award) for the Journal we create for the Royal Society of Arts.

The euphoria of successful award nights, like autumn colours, soon fades. But it’s good to make the most of that brief moment when they add so much joy to our lives.

Published Sep 29, 2015

4 golden rules of video

by Peggy-Sue Cranney, Digital Producer – Sep 25, 2015

Gone are the days when video content was restricted to YouTube. With Facebook, Twitter, Vine and Instagram all clamouring to host the medium, it’s clear that video is quickly becoming the most engaging form of online content. So, having booked a couple of places at the CMA’s digital breakfast on the evolution of online video, we filled our boots on top tips from four industry experts. Here are our key takeaways:

1. Know your audience

This might sound obvious, but it’s probably the best piece of advice for filmmakers. Like any content, to engage viewers your video needs to be relevant to them. So how do you get inside their heads? Think about where else they might look for video, use social media to learn more about their interests and consider how you can incorporate these into your video.

2. Have your house in order

Videos are collaborative efforts and often require a crew of people with different responsibilities to work together. Before you start filming, it’s important for everyone to be aware of what each individual’s role involves, both pre- and post-production. This is arguably even more crucial on smaller productions, when roles have a tendency to cross over. Good communication from the offset will ensure a production runs smoothly and should stop things getting lost in the mix.

3. Distribution matters

Think carefully about where your video will be hosted, as this can affect your planning and determine how long the video should be. If you want it to reach a variety of people and for it to be shared in different ways, you might want to think about producing a number of different edits. You can still have one concept driving these variations, but different edits will encourage a broader range of people to view your content. Interviews and panel discussions will often benefit from longer edits, but the same footage could be split into smaller, bite-size cuts, to be shared via email and on social feeds.

4. Work to a narrative

Videos don’t always have to document events and interviews. This doesn’t mean that these formats aren’t important or relevant – they are, and sometimes they are the best option for your client – but sometimes a strategy can be explained better and be more engaging if it is told through a story. On these occasions, think about your message and strategy, and consider how these can be rendered visually using a narrative to guide your audience.

Published Sep 25, 2015

5 things I’ve learned about social media audiences

by Katie Dolamore, Editor – Sep 10, 2015

Telling people you’re a social media marketer often provokes one of two responses: one, you’re a professional selfie-snapper; or two, you’re practically Mark Zuckerberg.

The reality is actually far from either, because social media marketing dovetails surprisingly well with most existing marketing strategies. The content you publish here needn’t differ much from what you publish elsewhere – in fact, if it’s massively different, it’s probably off-brand and you should leave it – but the way in which you present it is crucial.

So, after a few years of navigating the social seas, I thought I’d share some of my top tips to help your brand’s social channels stay afloat.

Tip one: Social media is the great leveller

Anybody who’s anybody has a social profile these days, and they can all interact; where else can you talk to your best mate, your celebrity idol and the Prime Minister with equal ease? This has the knock-on effect of making interactions much more balanced, as any sense of hierarchy starts to disappear.

This means that a great tone of voice is essential. Your brand voice should be accessible and approachable anyway, but this is especially true on social media. Don’t be afraid to be friendly and informal – people respond well to people; they don’t respond so well to corporate jargon.

Tip two: People can be judged by their covers

Many imagine the social sphere as an infinite, overcrowded swarm of voices struggling to be heard – it’s scary. This is only partly true; like any other marketer, you just need to work out what makes your target audience tick. Create a user profile: How old are they? What do they like? Where do they go at the weekend?

Once you’ve worked this out, finding them on social media is a lot easier than it is elsewhere, because social profiles can tell you everything. Want to know where economists gather on LinkedIn? Or what feminists search for on Twitter? Put your content in the right place, and the followers will come flocking.

Tip three: People have short attention spans

Social streams are naturally fast-moving, so keep your posts simple. Remember that social users are impulsive, so they’re likely to share your content if they spot it, and if they like it – but asking them to do more than one thing will probably lose their attention. This doesn’t mean you need to keep your content short, but you do need to make it easy to understand at a glance.

You also need to make your content easy to find, so tag it well. Blog platforms like Tumblr will let you tag as many keywords as you like; but be aware that tagging more than twice on Twitter or Facebook starts to look a bit messy, which could put people off.

Tip four: Everyone has an inner bully

I’ve already said that social users are impulsive, and it’s a sad fact that many impulses aren’t entirely friendly. ‘Tact’ is a foreign term on social media; users are often very quick to pick you up on your mistakes and even quicker to tell you when you’re annoying them.

Unfortunately, mistakes do happen, so just be mindful of this when they do. Double check your posts, respond quickly to complaints and apologise – like a human being, not like a corporate robot. If you want a great example of how to deal with a Twitter crisis, look to O2. During a nationwide network failure in the UK, they rose above acerbic barbs from their following and even started to win people back round. When your mum told you not to stoop to the level of bullies, she had a point.

Tip five: People are more emotional than rational

There’s very little science to determine what makes something trend on social media, but more often than not it’ll be something that makes people laugh, cry, or makes them really, really angry. If you think of something related to your brand that your audience will be passionate about, then share it. And, if you can segue a cat video into your post, you’re winning.

In short, social users are a tricky breed, but they’re also relatively predictable. Social channels work so well for marketers because they let you use the great content you already have to interact with your audience on an even more personal level – as long as you remember to be personable, clear, and persistent, you’ll have a dedicated following in no time.

Published Sep 10, 2015

A shared vision

by Emily Peters, Assistant Editor – Sep 03, 2015

Making something look effortlessly simple is never easy. Particularly when that something needs to support a company in its mission to rectify gender inequality in business – as we discovered when we were asked to transform the 30% Club’s website into a responsive and accessible online platform.

The 30% Club was launched in 2010 with a mission to achieve 30% women on FTSE 100 boards by the end of this year. It has enlisted the help of a team of senior business leaders, male and female, who act as advocates for gender balance at all levels of business.

We began work on the campaign’s website relaunch in January, having successfully helped the client create Women for Media UK, a directory that connects journalists to female leaders in the business, finance, government and not-for-profit sectors. Having jumped at the chance to help journalists increase female visibility within the media and beyond, we were delighted to be invited to work with the 30% Club on another project.

But while we couldn’t wait to start on this new digital job, the redesign was not without its challenges. The 30% Club is not-for-profit, so we needed to create something that surpassed the client’s expectations without exceeding its budget. Thankfully, we came to an agreement with Bloomberg (one of the 30% Club’s main supporters): its team would design the website if we built it. Collaboration made perfect sense to us. What better way to share the 30% Club’s collaborative, concerted, business-led efforts than by embracing the very same values? So we set to work.

Collaborating with the New York-headquartered company required strong project management and ongoing communication – despite the five-hour time difference. Having regular conversations with our clients, showing them design work and talking them through the website’s various functionality options also helped to ensure that all parties were on the same page throughout the process.

The result is a slick, user-friendly and visually appealing website that ticks all the boxes. In the process, we’ve also fostered some great working relationships. There’s a lot to be said for collaboration…

Published Sep 03, 2015

5 lessons from pop culture for content creators

by Emily Peters, Editorial Assistant – Aug 12, 2015

If there’s been one watercooler moment that’s dominated the office recently, it’s been the return of the Great British Bake Off (GBBO).

From GBBO-inspired bingo to a boom in home baking, it seems GBBO is developing into something of a cultural phenomenon. But why does the show hold such universal appeal (aside from the fact that it’s largely about cake)?

It’s a question that DigitasLBi’s Chris Clarke unpicked in his article for Campaign magazine last week, and one that got us thinking about the lessons that content creators could take from other cultural phenomena. If GBBO has so much to offer, what about the nation’s favourite seaside dish or the hottest contemporary fantasy TV series?

Here are five helpful tips that apply to content and pop culture alike:

1. Regularity breeds results. Google rewards businesses for publishing fresh, compelling and relevant content. Generally speaking, this means the more frequently you post, the higher you’ll rank in Google’s search engine. The Beatles knew the value of regular record creation, producing around 200 songs throughout their 10-year lifespan. They may be hailed as some of the best British songwriters that ever lived, but the sheer volume of content they produced no doubt kept their fans at fever pitch.

2. You’re lost without a strong concept. That being said, regular content only generates hits if it’s well written, convincing and rooted in a powerful concept. Sir David Attenborough is the master of this – his venerable Life series continues to wow audiences despite barely changing its format from when it was first broadcast in 1979. It’s proof that if an idea is good enough, everything else will follow suit.

3. Controversy can be a good thing. Content doesn’t have to please everyone, but it needs to get people talking. A case in point is the age-old British spread that some of us love, but others hate: Marmite. The ‘I Love/I Hate Marmite’ campaign is an example of a brand identity built around the very thing that should have halved its customer base. Despite efforts to appeal to a broader audience this summer with the release of a lighter limited-edition spread, the Marmite variant comes in two illustrated Summer of Love and Summer of Hate jars – showing the value of embracing controversy.

4. Great design brings content to life. Ask any Game of Thrones fan to explain why they love the show and they’re bound to mention its epic visuals. In the same way that stunning cinematography separates the TV spin-off from George R. R. Martin’s hair-raising books, strong design is often what separates digital content from its print equivalent. With the best journalistic will in the world, online content will only entice if it’s designed well – in terms of both user experience and aesthetics.

5. Know when to keep it simple. Charles Dickens referred to a fish shop or “fried fish warehouse” in Oliver Twist in 1839, and fish ‘n’ chips soon became a national craze. But why is it heralded one of the nation’s favourite dishes more than 175 years later? The answer: it’s about as far from pretentious as you can get and it hits the spot every time. The same can be said for content, whether it’s the design for an annual report or the headline for a piece of online copy. Sometimes, simplicity speaks volumes.

Published Aug 12, 2015

6 digital content marketing tips that will blow your mind

by Molly Bennett, Head of Editorial – Jul 31, 2015

If the headline of this piece seems a bit hackneyed and sub-Buzzfeed, that’s because it is. But it’s also a tongue-in-cheek example of the way in which content has changed as more of what we consume goes mobile.

The digital headline writer’s toolkit includes listicles (like this piece), increasingly ridiculous hyperbole (“The hardest SpongeBob quiz you’ll ever take”) and the ‘curiosity gap’ (“You won’t believe what happens next”), some or all of which are deployed with great (or middling) skill to get you to click. (To learn more, check out this fascinating episode of the Allusionist podcast, in which host Helen Zaltzman talks to Buzzfeed’s Tom Phillips about the art of the irresistible headline.)

But it’s not just headlines that have evolved. The way in which we, as content providers, think about content overall has shifted as we, as consumers, move from print to desktop to mobile and tablets.

At the most recent CMA Digital Breakfast, we got tips from practitioners in the mobile and social media spaces about how to optimise content – and the sites on which that content sits – for today’s mobile reader. Here are six of them.

1. Responsive, responsive, responsive. Users want a consistent experience and the same content whether they’re reading on a laptop or their mobile phone. This means responsively designed sites are really the only game in town. As a bonus, they tend to score higher in Google’s search rankings.

2. Headlines should contain enough information to stand on their own. Responsively designed websites often drop the standfirst as they switch to mobile mode, meaning you can’t rely on the information in that standfirst to help lure in readers. The Mail Online gets a lot of stick for its ludicrously long and detailed headlines, but it’s a deliberate choice aimed at its readers, who it knows often just skim through the site.

3. Content should drive digital design. Web designers take note: content, tailored to key users, should come first and determine the wireframe, rather than the other way around.

4. Online content doesn’t have to be short. The ‘rule’ that web articles should be no more than 500 words is nonsense. One of Buzzfeed’s most-read articles is this 6,000-word essay about buying a house in Detroit.

5. But it does have to be structured and designed properly. Lengthy, in-depth and immersive content needs to be compelling and ‘sticky’, even on mobile. In terms of design, that means avoiding hard horizontal breaks, such as ads or images, that stop people scrolling down. Always have something ‘peeping up’ to indicate more is to come.

6. Take this stuff seriously. It’s easy to dismiss sites that use clickbait headlines and other devices as silly or lightweight, but in reality, they put a lot of time and effort into optimising their content to make sure it’s read. And isn’t that what we all want?

Published Jul 31, 2015

If you want to solve the world’s problems, call a creative

by Tim Mustoe, Art Director – Jul 23, 2015

Forget typefaces, colours, animations or metaphors; being creative is about solving problems. Often, the way to do that is to simplify, to boil down a complex set of thoughts or messages to their essence, so that we can explain them to an audience with limited experience of the subject matter.

Whether you’re a writer, editor, illustrator, animator or designer, the first task is to understand not only the problem or challenge at hand, but also as much of the background as possible. The second is to interpret and analyse, deliberately putting yourself in a position of ignorance while having all the facts. If you can explain the complex to your unknowing self, whether in words, pictures or graphics, then you have succeeded in simplifying it.

It requires inward examination, discipline and honesty. Just because you understand what’s on the screen doesn’t mean an uninitiated audience will, and if you lose your audience, all that mental toil and interpretative graft will have gone to waste.

A great example of simplifying the complex can be found in corporate reporting. We currently produce three annual reports for three very different companies, each with a unique story to tell, and with varying levels of complexity. The annual report is often the first introduction a potential investor has to a company, so the story needs to be told in a way that is easy to grasp, often without an in-depth knowledge of accounting rules, reporting practices and industry trends.

Corporate business models, strategies and operations are rarely straightforward, yet the time-poor reader needs to understand the basics of the business in minutes, so that they can decide whether or not to dig further using other sources.

This year, we took a two-pronged approach for one of our clients. We commissioned an experienced business journalist to convey specific corporate strategy messages, and designed infographics to explain complex divisional business models. The result is a brochure-like report with real, useful, measurable information, presented clearly and with style. At its most basic level, it’s an example of words and pictures working together to create something that’s worth more than the sum of its individual parts.

Which is what we’re good at, after all.

Published Jul 23, 2015

Back to our roots

by Chris Erasmus, Editor – Jun 16, 2015

Content marketing or customer publishing? Branded editorial or sponsored insights? Why is it that so many of the names for client work seem a million miles from the newsroom? Who knows, but, as the industry matures, there are signs that things are changing.

Many agency editorial teams, including ours, are stocked with staff who cut their teeth in news. These people are skilled in both finding stories and being poised to make sense of those that appear out of nowhere. When faced with many layers of client signoff and rigorously planned publishing dates, these skills can seem redundant. Well, not anymore. Commercial content is now playing to the strengths of editorial teams such as ours.

With increasingly savvy audiences able to spot promoted stories a mile off, we’re all having to work better, and harder, to bring branded content into its next iteration. Bizarrely, that means working more like a newsroom than ever before.

The driving force behind this is ‘realtime’ – building communication and relationships as the news occurs. How could your financial client advise on a crashing oil price? What insight might your recruitment client offer on state pension changes? What does your supermarket client make of the latest London restaurant opening?

Realtime content is about joining (and even leading) the conversation as it happens. Social media is your best friend here, but it’s worth focusing on the most engaging way to publish in realtime: video.

Don’t be fooled into thinking video content is only for the young consumer market. Way back in 2010, Forbes Insights and Google asked more than 300 C-level and senior executives at large US companies about their appetite for video marketing. The results were remarkable: 75% of executives watched work-related videos at least weekly and 54% of senior executives shared work-related videos with colleagues at least once a week.

We’ve had over half a decade of video content working as news, proving itself to be relevant, useful, shareable and in demand. Now, we are helping our clients plan specific videos into their content plans. Reactive or responsive video is the next logical step.

But how, you may ask, do you build a nimble video newsroom in an agency focused on planned and predicted work?

That’s the question that the CMA’s recent Digital Breakfast on Realtime Content Marketing posed to Simon Baker, ITN Productions’ Head of Branded Content. The answer, he said, was trust.

As the first of three panellists, Simon explained how the producer’s bespoke creative hub created and corralled commercial, broadcast and digital content from across its network. ITN knows what best practice looks like in video news – it’s been producing it for decades – and it’s now using that experience and infrastructure to create programmatic marketing and client campaigns and plan for reactive and responsive approaches to stories on tried-and-tested channels. But it could produce none of that commercial content unless its clients gave it the rein to make those calls.

Realtime publishing relies on trust. If the client can give you a clear and defined remit and trust you to represent them within that, you can publish at high speed and high volume. And if you trust your writer to deliver and your editor to guide, you can publish the right stories at the right time, and reap the rewards.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds a lot like a newsroom to me.

The three rules of realtime

Whether you’re publishing through ITN, Vine or Youtube, the rules of video are clear.

Do your research. What does your client do with video? What is their social strategy, tone of voice and level of output? Is your audience hungry for video? What are they already consuming? Get your preparation done before a story emerges and the publishing process will be a great deal smoother.

Think like a newsroom, even if you aren’t built like one. Agree your planned calendar, your general news ‘agenda’ and the level of editorial control needed to sign off stories as they come in. Give your writers a patch and let them loose once a story emerges.

Know your formats and your capabilities. As a story comes in, think whether it should be published socially, via video or in longer copy forms. Repurposing content later on will simply leave you behind the conversation.

Published Jun 16, 2015

The cup that doesn’t cheer

by Tim Turner, Content Director – Jun 03, 2015

Directly opposite the Wardour office there is a Peabody Estate (Victorian council flats, essentially) that has been shrouded in scaffolding for the past couple of months. At some point during the renovation works a roofer, having finished his milky tea with five sugars, has upended the polystyrene cup and stuck it on one of the finials – the pointy bits of ironwork that decorate the roof.

And it’s driving us mad.

Being located on the fifth floor, we’re probably the only people who can see it, but when you’re sitting facing the windows in Meeting Room 3, the cup is directly in your eyeline. Once it’s been pointed out to you, you can’t not see it, and I’ve actually noticed colleagues wincing when they enter the room and find that the cup is still there.

I’ve been trying to work out why it bothers us so much. Like any company, we have our share of people who suffer from OCD to a greater or lesser extent, but I think it goes deeper than that.

As a marketing and communications agency, we pride ourselves on the creativity that surprises and delights clients. The essential counterpart to that creativity, though, is a rigour and precision that encompasses all our roles. The writers take pride in ensuring they use (and spell) every word correctly, with not so much as a semi-colon out of place. The designers work with templates (invisible to the reader) that ensure that every page, printed or online, is pleasing to the eye. The developers know that, when writing code, a single wrong character can prevent an entire web page from displaying properly. And the account team stand or fall by the accuracy of the quotations, schedules and other documents they produce.

So we are all instinctively offended by any blemish on an otherwise perfect item, be it a typo in a document or a rogue polystyrene cup on a newly restored roof. The problem is, while we can correct a typo, we can’t do anything about the cup.

Worse still, the scaffolding has now come down, and there’s a very real possibility that the cup may be a permanent fixture. I fear we may need counselling…

Published Jun 03, 2015

Dare to drone

by Emily Peters, Editorial Assistant – May 27, 2015

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are finding their way into the mainstream. By 2020, it’s estimated that there will be around 30,000 drones buzzing overhead, and businesses will need to keep a close eye on developments if they want to stay ahead of the curve.

Last week’s BIMA Breakfast Briefing brought together a panel of experts to discuss the benefits (and the dangers) of embracing this emerging tech, and we sent along four Wardourites to learn about the raft of opportunities available to those who dare to drone.

The speakers covered everything from aerial filmmaking to the legalities of using drones for commercial purposes. Back in the office, our team reflected on what they’d learned.

Something everyone agreed on was that flying a drone is not as straightforward as you might think. The rules for operators are confusing, to say the least. In a nutshell, you must request permission from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) if you plan to fly a UAV on a commercial basis, or if you intend to operate a camera-fitted drone in an area beyond your control. But with the CAA struggling to cope with a surge in applications for permits, there are lots of grey areas… As Dean, one of our designers, joked: “If you think you have authorisation to fly a drone, you probably don’t.”

However, as far as we could tell, the drone pros outweigh the cons. Recreationally, there’s lots of fun to be had. From selfie-taking to drag racing, the opportunities for digital diversions are endless. Commercially, there seems even more to be gained. In construction, for example, drones are being used to conduct inspections in areas that are too difficult, expensive or dangerous to access. In the medical world, they could be used to transport life-saving blood donations or to deliver treatment to people with severely infectious, life-threatening illnesses.

The more we thought about it, the more we realised that drones could quite easily be used by most of our clients. Tech-savvy Gemalto will no doubt be keeping abreast of related security issues, while the RSA may be interested in tracking the potential societal implications of UAVs. Laing O’Rourke is already using drone technology to provide aerial footage of its construction sites.

As far as Wardour’s concerned, there’s certainly scope to experiment with aerial cameras on some of our shoots. But perhaps the top takeaway for us is the concept that gave rise to the drone: we should constantly be looking for ways to boldly go where no man has gone before.

Drones are set to take off (sorry, I couldn’t resist) and we’ll be keeping tabs on developments in the coming months. Who knows, maybe our next storyboard for Grosvenor will include some inspiring panoramic bird’s-eye shots… In the meantime, we’ll continue to push boundaries with everything we write, shoot and design – drone-style.

Published May 27, 2015

Brewin Dolphin is named best on the web

by Andrew Strange, Content Director – Apr 30, 2015

We’re delighted to see that one of our clients has been recognised for the quality of its digital communications a year after we helped the firm to launch its new investor website.

Integrated brand and communications company Living Group studied the web presence of FTAdviser’s Top 100 Financial Advisers and the resulting list of the best performers put Brewin in the top position.

The report said: “Brewin Dolphin offers a terrific suite of digital communications that places the user, and the client, at the heart of the experience. From the nav bar (where “About Us” comes last), to the homepage headline, (“How we can make a difference to your money”), to its responsive web design, everything about Brewin’s website is steered by client-centricity.”

Wardour has been working on digital projects with Brewin Dolphin since 2010, and developed the new website, which was launched early last year.

It was a complex project that involved the complete spectrum of creative and technical skills, from editing, bespoke photography and illustration to web development and secure hosting. And we continue to work with the Brewin Dolphin team to develop regular content that is updated weekly and provides important fodder for its social media campaign.

The Living Group report goes on to say: “Brewin’s website design demonstrates a command of digital real-estate that’s all too rare in the FA sector; live social media feeds, thought leadership features, services, quick links and industry awards dovetail perfectly to create a sense of the firm’s strengths that is much stronger than the sum of the individual parts.”

To see the site in all its glory, visit www.brewin.co.uk

Published Apr 30, 2015

5 things I learned about SEO

by Molly Bennett, Head of Editorial – Apr 20, 2015

This month’s CMA Digital Breakfast was all about search engine optimisation, or as it’s usually known, SEO. Just between you and me, most of it went right over my editorial head, delving as it did into terms like ‘301 redirect’, ‘user agent’ and ‘the Dunning-Kruger effect’ (my new favourite – Google it). Luckily, we have a cracking digital team to deal with things like that.

I did take a few things away, however – and any digital knowledge is useful knowledge, given how many of Wardour’s projects are now either partly or wholly online.

Here’s what I learned:

Google is the only game in town. From what the speakers said, it sounds like they spend most of their days frantically rewriting code and honing content to keep up with Google’s frequent algorithm updates. But it’s a worthwhile endeavour: in many users’ minds, what isn’t easily Googlable might as well not exist.

Headlines and standfirsts need to be reasonably literal. While this wasn’t a new concept to me, it was a useful reminder that while more, shall we say, poetic headlines, standfirsts and opening paras work well in print, digital is different. You don’t want to stuff every relevant term into a 10-word headline, but it and other copy elements need to be descriptive and on topic so Google’s algorithm can find your article easily.

Meta tags – the bits of copy that appear in search results – are important. They should be relevant and descriptive, but also interesting or unusual enough to entice browsers to click on your article even if it’s not top of the list.

Mobile matters. From this Tuesday, 21 April, Google’s algorithm will take mobile compatibility into consideration. This means that if your site isn’t responsive, or at least optimised for mobile devices, it will appear lower down the search rankings. Consider yourself warned…

Even Google’s brainiac founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page don’t know how their own algorithm works anymore. That’s because it’s more or less a living system that learns and evolves. Hence why developers are constantly scrambling to monitor and improve their sites – and the content on those sites.

Bonus fact: If you want a good explanation of chaos theory, look no further than Jurassic Park (the book).

Published Apr 20, 2015

Interview insights

by Janice Warman, Content Director – Apr 09, 2015

Here at Wardour we are always looking for great interviewees. That’s why, when I went to a screenwriting masterclass at The Guardian and met Christopher Hampton, who was talking us through scenes of his film, Atonement, I immediately pegged him as a great profile prospect for Brewin Dolphin’s Perspective magazine.

He may be Britain’s most prolific playwright, screenwriter, librettist and translator, but he was more than willing to give up a generous chunk of his writing day for a photoshoot and an interview with us. In fact, the first thing he did was make us a cup of tea.

We caught up with him between trips to Azerbaijan, where he was on set for his latest film adaptation, Ali & Nino, the story of a love affair between a Muslim man and a Christian woman, first published in 1937.

Hampton is the eminence grise behind much of Britain’s best culture. If you were lucky enough to see Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya in 1966, starring Paul Scofield (or indeed in 2012, starring Ken Stott) – that was his translation.

Most famously, his theatrical adaptation of Les Liaisons Dangereuses ran for five years in the West End. The 1988 film, starring Uma Thurman, John Malkovich and Glenn Close, won him an Oscar for best-adapted screenplay. Chances are, if you’ve been to the theatre or the cinema in the last five decades, you would have seen his work.

He’s astonishingly productive and after a 50-year career (he wrote his first play at 18; it was put on at the Royal Court when he was 20 and still an undergraduate at Oxford), he shows no signs of slowing down. He has written, translated or adapted an astonishing 109 plays, screenplays and librettos, yet still writes with a fountain pen in his top-floor flat in Notting Hill, using scissors and Sellotape to finalise his scripts.

Does he have any plans to retire? “No. I seem to be getting busier and busier. I wouldn’t mind slowing down a little bit, but I dread the idea of retirement.”

What’s his advice for those starting out today? “It’s a job you should only do if you really can’t think of anything else to do and you’re really obsessed with doing it. Even then, there isn’t really any advice except to stick to it. Sometimes it can be heartbreaking and sometimes it can be fantastic. If you can’t actually earn enough money from it to make a living, then try and find something you can earn money from, so that you can remain independent as an artist.”

Readers of Perspective can look forward to more insights from this fascinating writer when the new edition is published in May.

For myself, I will treasure the signed copy of his play Appomattox that he gave me. I might even adapt my recently published novel into a screenplay. Well, I can always dream…

Published Apr 09, 2015

Boys cook too

by Andrew Strange, Content Director – Mar 24, 2015

As content becomes more digitally driven, it’s vital that agencies stay on top of social media trends. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from our own use of these platforms, it’s that, amid all the ‘noise’, there are valuable insights that can come from unexpected quarters. And it seems that we’re not the only ones to come to this conclusion.

The history of social media is littered with examples of how ordinary people have taken on big organisations and won. But the people who tackle companies online may not simply be busting for a fight – often they have real insight and companies ignore them at their peril.

Take 13-year-old McKenna Pope from New Jersey, for example. Cooking is increasingly popular with young boys, partly due to the popularity of chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver. But when McKenna tried to buy a child’s Easy Bake oven for her younger brother, she found that all the boxes were pink with pictures of girls on them.

A very disgruntled McKenna launched an online petition that attracted support from 40,000 people. Toy maker Hasbro hurriedly introduced a black and silver version of the oven – it was an obvious insight that their own research had failed to identify because the ovens were selling just fine to girls.

Kraft Foods was guilty of a similar oversight when it launched its new Vegemite and cream cheese blend in Australia. It ran a competition to name the product and settled on iSnack 2.0. While it’s a name that might have gone down well with a technology-focussed US audience, in down-to-earth Australia it hit a sour note.

The name was ditched after three days, following a social media storm in which iSnack 2.0 was branded ‘the worst name ever’ and ‘un-Australian’. It was even suggested that the competition winner should be forced to run down the main street of Sydney “wearing nothing but a generous lathering of old-fashioned Vegemite as retribution for his cultural crime.” The snack was re-named Cheesybite.

What these examples tell us is that, within a social media campaign involving posting, tweeting, managing issues and crisis mitigation, companies would do well to include ‘listening’ as an important plank of their strategies.

Published Mar 24, 2015

Changing media and eternal truths

by Martin MacConnol, Chief Executive – Mar 20, 2015

I spent two days at the Guardian Changing Media Summit this week, and I learned a fair few things.

Some of the learnings – but not as many as I’d hoped – came from the speakers themselves.

That there weren’t more bits of genius from Facebook, Twitter, the BBC et al was less down to the quality of their insights, and more to do with the fact that the media revolution is now confirmed on a trajectory that it’s been on for a few years.

Put simply: if you want to be successful, capitalise on mobile and real-time – and get as up close and personal to your audiences as you can. But we knew that already.

Ironically, when I stopped focusing on the speakers and took a look around the room at my fellow delegates, I felt like I learned more.

Firstly – content really is king. As CEO of a content agency I have said this frequently and loudly. But I experienced it at first hand in the Fuhrer Bunker that was the conference auditorium.

You could tell when people started to think the content of a presentation wasn’t relevant to them – they reached for their mobiles. In some of the panel sessions, which were moderated with varying success, more than half of the audience appeared to be concentrating on their phones rather than the speakers on the podium. It was the conference equivalent of the Britain’s Got Talent buzzer.

That this was a summit that celebrated the power of mobile communications created an irony. A couple of speakers actually said, “it’s fine to look at your mobiles”, but of course it wasn’t. People were only looking at their phones because the content on offer wasn’t engaging enough for them personally.

Secondly, the conference confirmed to me the power of ‘news you can use’. For instance, I was hugely vexed that a session on the digital skills gap became more a panel debate on social issues and immigration policies. I was looking for guidance to help me in the day-to-day management of my agency, not for what I could read in the Society pages of The Guardian.

Conversely, what kept me in the venue to the end of the final day was the hook of the last session – 10 media trends for the next 10 years from Survey Monkey. Listicles, it appears, are killer apps for conferences as well as web content (although in this instance I still didn’t learn anything earth-shattering).

The last thing I learned was distinctly personal. I realised for the first time I now have a real love/hate relationship with the technology in my pocket. I want the ‘treats’ and instant gratification that an email and Twitter feed can bring, but I dislike the power they have over me. I dislike the way they can make me a ruder, more introvert and less focused individual. For some sessions, I actually made myself switch my phone off to stop me from being drawn out of the room.

That’s a change in my relationship with media, and if I am feeling it, I am sure others are too.

Published Mar 20, 2015

Exploring e-Estonia

by Tim Turner, Content Director – Mar 11, 2015

For a London-based agency, we get around quite a bit: this week alone we’ve sent one team to Edinburgh for a big client meeting, while another group are about to leave for Paris.

But recently, an intrepid trio boldly went where no Wardourite had ever been before: Tallinn. Videographer Peggy, art director Dean and photographer Johanna spent an enjoyable – if bone-chillingly cold – three days in the Estonian capital on an assignment for digital security company Gemalto.

We’re constantly fascinated by the latest technology, and Estonia, perhaps more than any other country in the world, has fully embraced the possibilities that digital connectivity offers. Wifi seems to be available everywhere and the coffee shops are full of people tapping away on their laptops, while digital start-ups abound – most famously Skype, which was bought by Microsoft in 2011 for US$8.5 billion. In the recent parliamentary elections, over a third of the votes were cast electronically.

This dedication to all things digital is down to the country’s president Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who rechristened Estonia “e-Estonia” and sees technology as the key to this small country punching above its weight.

Our team were suitably impressed by Tallinn’s combination of ancient and modern. “It’s a beautiful place,” says Peggy, who has just about thawed out after spending three days filming in temperatures of -8°C. “The Old Town is full of wonderful ancient buildings. We arrived on Sunday night and spent some time exploring and getting our bearings, then filmed some vox pop interviews at tech start-ups based in Tallinn’s equivalent of London’s Silicon Roundabout.”

The main purpose of their visit was to film an interview with Anna Piperal, Marketing Manager at the cyber-security firm Guardtime, who also acts as representative and ambassador for the e-Estonia brand. “She was extremely easy to talk to, pleasant and friendly,” says Peggy. “In fact, all the people we met were eager to chat to us, fired up and enthusiastic.”

The footage she filmed, along with Johanna’s photographs and copy written by a local journalist who doubled as the team’s guide, will form the basis of an exciting online project celebrating Estonia’s status as a pioneering digital nation. Watch this space…

Published Mar 11, 2015

Start as you mean to go on

by Claire Oldfield, Managing Director – Mar 09, 2015

Last week, I chaired an event for Virgin Start Up (VSU) – the bit of Virgin that encourages the next generation of entrepreneurs through seed funding and mentoring. It’s been an extraordinarily successful outfit since launching in 2013.

And hundreds turned up for the event in Newcastle, lured by the chance to get business insights from those who have backed entrepreneurs, as well as those who have already taken the plunge into business.

Of course, the big draws were Sir Richard Branson and Stagecoach founder Sir Brian Souter; two of the most successful and interesting entrepreneurs the UK has produced. They were joined by Jimmy Cregan, the founder of Jimmy’s Iced Coffee. He is backed by VSU and is clearly a future business tycoon. He’s charismatic, fun, engaging and – less than five years into business – already successful, with his products stocked in leading supermarkets.

The VSU event was a good reminder that an entrepreneurial spirit, and the passion that goes with it, can win over people and create entirely new brands and market segments. During the 1990s, I was lucky enough to be the Sunday Times’ Small Business Editor. It was a brilliant period when I got to seek out and interview the men and women who were shaping and changing the economy with ideas and products that helped make their own fortunes in the process.

Today, I am still lucky in work – now on the other side of the fence as a partner in an entrepreneurial business where editorial values are high and, through these, we can help shape the communication and marketing vision for brands.

Here – in no particular order of importance – are some of the nuggets of wisdom Branson and Souter delivered to those wanting to be successful entrepreneurs:

  • Keep fit
  • The dynamics of a business are about people
  • It helps if you are a bit crazy…
  • …and a bit obsessive
  • To be a good leader, you have to be a good listener

And I thought it was also worth sharing some of the other pieces of wisdom I gathered from hundreds of interviews with entrepreneurs which I unearthed during research ahead of the VSU event:

  • Do something you love, because it makes you want to get up in the morning
  • Doing something for yourself gives you choices in terms of work-style and lifestyle – at Wardour we choose to work with brands we like and respect…
  • … and we get to choose our colleagues
  • When you don’t want to get out of bed in the morning and rush to work, either your work is done, or it’s time for a change. Either way, it’s time for a change – and that change lies in your own hands.

Published Mar 09, 2015

Power to the pedal

by Chris Erasmus, Editor – Feb 11, 2015

Sometimes, work can drive you up the wall. It’s not often though, that it’s literally the case.

On a frigid Friday morning, Finance Director Richard Payn and I found ourselves in the East End, staring up at the ‘Pringle’, otherwise known as the Lee Valley VeloPark. It is, some say, the fastest cycling track on earth. If you have never been into an Olympic venue, it is a thrilling experience – it’s not often that you get to see a place where records are made and legends are forged. But this day, severely wind-chilled and facing the prospect of looping around the 250m, banked Siberian Pine track (on a fixed-wheel, brakeless racing bike), it’s fair to say that my excitement was tempered.

Client work sometimes demands that you go above and beyond the norm. There is no such thing as standard working hours. No job is too difficult, obscure or obtuse. You want me to dress up as the corporate mascot for a day with some schoolchildren? Sir, I would be delighted.

It’s great, then, when client work offers you the opportunity to do something enviable. Hays, the global recruitment firm, is one of our largest relationships; we have produced award-winning print and digital media together for more than three years. On the Friday in question, Hays treated clients and colleagues to a fantastic day at the velodrome, raising money for the Brain Cancer Trust.

We were Lycra-clad and ready for action. The track peaks at 42 degrees, but from the floor it looks nearer 90. For Richard, a competitive club cyclist, it was an easy ride, though for me, who couldn’t remember the last time I went to Centre Parcs, the same couldn’t be said.

The challenge with track bikes is that you can never stop pedalling: something that was demonstrated beautifully just before my timed lap. The rider crossed the finish line, relaxed and promptly flipped head over heels, exploding his rear tire and concussing himself in the process.

Thankfully Richard and I emerged unscathed, placed first and third in the 250m Wattbike sprint respectively. Richard added another trophy to the Wardour cabinet and I got to ride in an Olympic venue. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.

Published Feb 11, 2015

What makes a client great?

by Martin MacConnol, Chief Executive – Feb 05, 2015

A recent survey by Up to the Light shines a beam on the four types of creative agencies that drive clients up the wall. They are:

  • The ones that inhabit the London Ivory Tower
  • Those staffed by uncommercial prima donnas
  • The agencies that impress at concept stage but then don’t deliver
  • The teams that bombard clients with endless strategy

Rather than be negative, the research got us thinking about the key characteristics of a dream client or client team. After some debate around the studio, we think the following attributes, values and ideas are key:

They value our expertise
A great client values and trusts the agency to deliver. Yes, they keep tight control of a project and have a point of view, but, as the old phrase goes: “You don’t buy a dog and then bark yourself.”

They are collaborative
The best clients trust the agency as an extension of their own team and work with them as colleagues. The less division between agency and client team, the stronger the process and the better the outcome.

They are clear in what they want
When wooliness exists in a brief, it leads to a painful creative process and a finished product that can be suboptimal. Taking the time to get things clear at the start – about what is wanted, whose sign-off is needed, how far the budget can go and what the measures of success are – revolutionises every step that follows. Equally important, it prevents scope creep that is hard for both client and agency to deal with.

They are enthusiastic and supportive
On a big project, there are going to be days when the agency is wading through the treacle of feedback, revisions and sign-offs. At those moments, it’s wonderful when a client remains upbeat and supportive.

They have a GSOH
Agency and client are going to spend a lot of time talking to each other – and something will not go according to plan. When it’s late in the evening and you’re stuck together at an airport because of snow on the runway, the ability to laugh it all off is a great one.

They’re rich!
OK, this is a bit mischievous, but every agency does like a client that knows the value of the work being commissioned and has ready access to a budget to pay for it.

For details on the survey, go to: www.uptothelight.co.uk

Published Feb 05, 2015

The wonder of wearables

by Jane Duru, Editor – Jan 30, 2015

How many steps have you taken today? Did you get the right number of hours of REM required for a good night’s sleep last night? How many calories have you consumed this week?

Unless you’re one of the relatively small numbers of smart watch early adopters or health app addicts, it’s unlikely that you know. But at last week’s BIMA breakfast on wearable technology, held at the Ivy with moreish French pastries and tea on tap, the Wardour team got a glimpse of the spate of new devices that are on their way, and they go far beyond mere ‘life-logging’ devices. As Paul Landau of Fitbug rightly pointed out, once you’ve got over the personal horror of your own vital statistics, these devices offer little long-term incentive to improve to all but the most motivated.

But in the not so distant future, wearable tech will mean something rather different. The ‘Dorothy’ attached to your shoes will call a cab whenever you click your heels together, while your Ringly ringwill buzz when you receive an important email. Foxtel sports channel customers will be able to don vibrating shirts that put them at the heart of the action, while Durex’s Fundawear will enable long-distance couples to experience remotely controlled, ahem, stimulation.

Could ‘wearable content’ be another strand appearing on the horizon? Hearing about Pinterest’s integration with Apple’s new smart watch – the app will send pop-up notifications whenever you’re near one of your pinned places – a colleague pointed out this could be a precursor to the travel guide of the future.

Cultural norms have yet to catch up with technology, though. In the same week as our breakfast pow-wow, Google announced the withdrawal of Glass from sale. The combination of the £1,000 price tag, privacy concerns and the fact that it was rather unattractive seem to have outweighed the potential technological benefits to consumers. But Google has its proof of concept – and doubtless Glass 2.0 will appear at some point with solutions to these problems.

The legislative, cultural and business implications of wearable tech are relevant to many of our clients. Digital security company Gemalto is busy addressing the privacy and data security issues that wearables raise, the RSA will take a keen interest in how we harness these new technologies for social benefit, and our financial services clients are doubtless keeping tabs on innovators in the tech space.

As editors, keeping abreast of what should be on our clients’ radar through industry events like these is great for generating interesting and surprising ideas – the kind that go on to produce compelling content. And when there’s a pastry or three involved, well, you don’t have to ask us twice!

Published Jan 30, 2015

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

by Martin MacConnol, CEO – Jan 30, 2015

Today the number of poppies in the Seas of Red installation will reach its peak. Each one represents a military life lost by Britain and her colonies in World War One.

One of our art directors, David Donaghy, was part of a team that volunteered to help ‘plant’ some of the 888,246 flowers: “I wanted to be involved because I have an avid interest in World War One history, and as a designer I was fascinated by how the poppies were made.

“No two flowers are the same. They are handmade and their natural folding makes each one different. You only really see that when you are laying them out. I became so wrapped up in the task of planting the flowers it wasn’t until I took a step back that I appreciated each poppy is unique, like each life lost.”

To achieve this, ceramic artist Paul Cummins used old-fashioned techniques. Nothing was automated and any machinery involved was hand-powered: Cummins believes the act of physically making something helps it to mean something.

By now more words must have been written about the poppies than the number planted. And that is extraordinary. Cummins has shown how great design can connect a distant generation to the horrors of a century-old war.

Beyond the reminder of tragic sacrifice, for anyone who works in the creative world, the power of his poppies is hugely cheering. By capturing the nation’s imagination on a grand scale he proves the value and power of great design.

This is important in 2014, when the role of creative professions can be downplayed by organisations – viewed just as a commodity like so much photocopy paper, or something to be outsourced to a more cost-effective service centre in a far-flung country.

So thank you, Paul Cummins, for reminding us not only of the horrors of war but in so doing the potency of great creative thinking.

Watch the making of: http://poppies.hrp.org.uk/about-the-installation/#section—video

Published Jan 30, 2015

Exceptional circumstances

by Tim Turner, Content Director – Jan 20, 2015

One of the joys of working on the editorial team is that each project calls on a different combination of journalistic skills. With some briefs, the editor’s role mainly involves copy-editing; with others, they’re also the lead writer and interviewer.

Exceptional, which we produce for EY, is an interview-led print magazine, but here the editor’s job – my job – is heavily weighted towards commissioning. The magazine tells the inspirational stories of entrepreneurs from the EMEIA region – Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa – and each edition includes around 10 feature-length profiles that require the kind of in-depth insight a journalist can’t get from a phone interview. So, when EY decide who they want to feature, my task is to find an experienced local (but English-speaking) journalist to conduct each interview and write it up.

In theory, that shouldn’t be too hard. We’ve worked on numerous international projects over the years, and if I need to find a journalist in Munich, Mumbai or Moscow, I can easily do so. However, entrepreneurs of the calibre we feature tend to have busy and fluid diaries, which means that interview times and locations are liable to change, often at short notice. The latest edition proved particularly testing.

As it happens, Moscow was one of the chosen locations, and that was sorted out easily enough. Belgrade was more of a challenge, but I contacted the FT’s correspondent there, who was happy to take on the job as long it didn’t clash with his appointment to interview the Serbian Prime Minister.

Then there was Khartoum. You may not be surprised to hear that I don’t have a wealth of contacts in the Sudanese capital. Then we learned that the subject was travelling to Dubai and could be interviewed there; much easier.

The hardest interview to arrange was actually in Italy. Looking for someone to do an interview in Trieste, I found a great writer who was happy to travel there from Milan. Then the interview was moved to Milan itself – even better. Then it was moved again, to Rome, on a day when the journalist was unavailable. After taking a deep breath and counting to ten, I went back to my Rolodex and commissioned a writer I know well, and who lives in Rome. To cut a long story short, we ended up with a captivating interview.

Indeed, the reward for all the phone calls and emails involved in the commissioning process was a host of fascinating stories. I’ve learned how the nations of Eastern Europe (which were still hidden behind the Iron Curtain when I was growing up) are now producing hordes of exciting tech start-ups; how much science goes into producing the perfect cup of espresso; how you go about building a modern food company in a vast country like Sudan that has rudimentary infrastructure; how the global phenomenon of microfinance started in a small village in Bangladesh in 1976; and much more besides.

Oh, and in the interests of balance, I should add that one interview involved walking round the corner from the office and along the Strand to meet a theatrical impresario. Occasionally, great stories can be found close to home.

Published Jan 20, 2015

Combined strength

by Andrew Strange, Content Director – Jan 12, 2015

When a website features hundreds of pages for multiple audiences, everything from the design and navigation to the tone of voice have to be considered carefully. And when these pages are drawn from two existing websites, the challenge becomes all the greater.

The Investment Association marked the New Year with the launch of its new website, which features everything from guidance for consumers interested in investing to industry insight for its members.

An important feature is that the Members’ Homepage can be customised to highlight particular subjects and give easy access to that information. This is significant, because those with different job roles may be looking for different things.

Wardour designed the state-of-the-art website to be attractive to consumers, but also to reflect The Investment Association’s important position at the heart of the investment management industry. It has more than 200 member firms that manage more than £5 trillion for clients.

Our role was to bring together the two existing sites (one for consumers and one for the industry) into one attractive website and ensure that visitors could easily find the information they needed. The site also had to work seamlessly across devices, from mobiles and tablets to computers.

We began by auditing the existing two sites, interviewing users and creating an online survey so that we could identify what was already working well and where we could improve.

An issue that immediately emerged among members was that, although the content provided them with an important professional resource, there were so many pages that it was sometimes difficult to find what they needed.

We spent many hours developing a sitemap that ensured that information was structured logically, but due to the volume of pages, a dropdown menu from the top of the screen could not feature everything. We therefore developed a secondary menu to guide users through each section.

Together with the new ability for members to design an attractive homepage that features the topics that are most appropriate to them, this navigation means that every page can be accessed quickly.

We were also aware of the need to help consumers understand investment information that can seem complex and daunting. To overcome this, we developed an easy-to-understand and engaging animation for the homepage.

The Investment Association aims to make investment better for clients, companies and the economy so that everyone prospers. We hope we’ve played a small part in helping to achieve that goal.

Take a look at the site at www.theinvestmentassociation.org

Published Jan 12, 2015

Bowled over

by Charlotte Tapp, Account Director – Dec 11, 2014

Despite playing for my local cricket club one summer, I confess to a limited knowledge of the game and its rules. I knew, however, what an honour it was to be invited as a guest of our clients Royal London to a Team England event at Lord’s. The event was in aid of the Professional Cricketers’ Association’s Benevolent Fund and Royal London was to be announced as their new lead sponsor.

The reception was held in the bubble-shaped media centre; and after a quick photo opportunity with Gilbert, Royal London’s pelican mascot, we headed down to the Long Room for a three-course dinner, a Q&A with members of the 2014/15 England squad and a charity auction.

I had mixed emotions when I heard an England player would be sitting at our table. It was going to be exciting meeting him, but I hoped he’d forgive my ignorance. We couldn’t have been luckier. The youthful James Taylor was more than happy not to talk about cricket and he was, in fact, rather proud of his ‘tash that he was sporting for Movember. Several glasses of wine later, we were following him on Twitter and tweeting about his fundraising ‘tash.

But what can I tell you about the cricket Q&A? That it didn’t matter at all if I didn’t know which Test or skirmish they were talking about. The lively banter and competitive ribbing was more than sufficiently entertaining. ‘KP’ was referred to and although I was waiting for the gossip, they were sufficiently restrained. Shame.

English cricket has won a new convert. It was an entertaining afternoon, empowering to be in the presence of those world-class sportsmen and all in a good cause. I was bowled over. Thank you Royal London.

Published Dec 11, 2014

All grown-up

by Martin MacConnol, CEO – Nov 05, 2014

The team and clients celebrated in some style last night at the London EDITION. Many people were kind enough to say how proud I must be of reaching agency ‘adulthood’.

It set me thinking. Of course I am proud – proud of our work, proud of the incredible brands that put their trust in us, proud of the friendships that now transcend the idea of ‘work’. Who wouldn’t feel proud?

But the thing that cheers me the most is something less immediately visible to the outside world – and that’s pride in the ability of our team to adapt to a world which has seen business change on a scale unprecedented since the industrial revolution.

We started in print back in 1996: two FT journalists and a couple of friends in a Soho loft office. We were people who really didn’t know anything apart from print – and for whom the fax was still cutting-edge technology.

And of course, we still love print today. It will never die and remains a central plank of what we do.

But now it is only one plank. And Wardour would be a very different, less exciting place to work without all the digital planks that adjoin it.

Eighteen years ago, if you’d told me I’d be running an agency in 2014 that would be helping brands such as Heineken, EY, Barclays, the British Heart Foundation and Hays with everything from video, to magazines, to social media, to animations, to the development of personalised web portals, I wouldn’t have believed you.

And we’ve only been able to deliver this awesome array of outputs because the team has kept in step with the changing world around us. They have embraced the forward-thinking, non-luddite world view. For that I am truly thankful, because if we hadn’t, I’d probably be looking for a job elsewhere by now, and I’m starting to suspect I’m unemployable…

So here’s to the next 18 years and the myriad of – as yet unknown – marketing and communications developments that will help keep us fresh and young at heart as we progress through adult life.

Published Nov 05, 2014

Creativity, locks and clocks

by Rebecca Davies-Nash, Editor – Oct 08, 2014

The cover feature, by Adam Lent, director of the RSA’s Action and Research Centre, is about how governments, business and our institutions need to make the most of the technologies and methods that are transforming our economy. He starts in the 1760s, with the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, and draws a path to today’s ‘open innovation’ trend, where everyone is encouraged to bring ideas to the table. It’s a piece that takes in the sweep of history, but it has a very modern message about enabling far more people to have access to a creative life. Our challenge was to render this idea visually.

Published Oct 08, 2014

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