Stuff and ThingsTop 50 UK PR Blogs 2013Top 50 UK PR Blogs 2013

Couchbase appoints Spark Communications for Pan-European six figure brief to drive awareness and support the company’s rapid growth

CouchbaseDigital innovation and customer experience are two of the major industry buzzwords of the day which is why we are particularly excited to win Couchbase, a NoSQL database, as its customers are truly changing the way we all engage with companies by using data in innovative ways. We will be running and managing PR in the UK, France and Germany, with a brief focused on storytelling and content. It is a six figure brief which will see us develop creative campaigns that drive a more business-focused narrative around the database market.

Couchbase delivers NoSQL database technology for businesses focused on digital innovation. Although databases have been around for years, NoSQL is disrupting the market: with many companies turning to Couchbase for a data platform that enables them to develop new applications that better engage consumers and employees. Its customers include LinkedIn, PayPal, Dixons, eBay, General Electric, Marriott, Ryanair and Tesco.

Couchbase chose us after a competitive pitch process, where we put forward a plan based on developing creative content to engage customers and the media alike.

Luke Whitehead, EMEA Marketing Director for Couchbase, had the following to say about working with us: “Although I’ve not worked with Spark before, I’ve admired their work with competitors in previous roles. It was clear to me that the team have the contacts and creativity that takes PR from being something that results in sporadic media coverage to something that has a tangible impact on the business. It was clear that with Spark we’d get a strong team, where everyone from the director on our account to the AE actively contribute to the programme and drive results.”

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Bromium selects Spark Communications for six figure UK PR brief, global PR strategy and content

Bromium_logoWe are seeing a bit of a trend at the moment where more and more US companies are asking us, rather than a US agency, to lead their PR efforts globally.  That’s exactly what has happened with Bromium, who we’ve just added to our list of security clients. It’s a six-figure brief to look after UK PR and develop storylines and campaigns globally.

The security market is red hot at the moment and Bromium is right at the heart of it. The founders have a proven track record having created Xen, the technology that was sold to Citrix for half a billion dollars and that today underpins the world’s leading cloud infrastructures, including Amazon’s cloud services. Bromium’s platform is one of the most unique technologies I’ve seen. It uses something called micro-virtualisation to isolate every task a user ever undertakes on a computer – it means that you don’t have to worry about your PC getting infected by malware from a website or email attachment, nor do you need to worry about ransomware. It’s pretty cool and dare I say disruptive :).

From a comms perspective Bromium is a dream. From day one the team made it clear that they wanted us to lead their PR efforts and utilise the content we develop across the marketing mix. We pitched some pretty creative and even slightly controversial storyline that they are up for driving forward.

Here is what Jennifer Carole, VP of marketing at Bromium had to say:

“There are PR firms and then there is Spark. As soon I landed at Bromium my leadership team and I wanted to bring them on board. It might seem strange for a US software company to have its PR led out of London, but ultimately they think strategically and globally. We are at an exciting juncture – our technology has matured to a point where we can change the dynamics of security forever. But technology alone won’t make us successful, we need clear and powerful communication and that’s what we get from Spark. The team has a unique mix of skills, give clear advice and ultimately I know they will make a difference to our business.”

The team has already started getting some great results – check out this piece on the BBC.

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Coverage Cup round up – bumper edition

Coverage cupIn the wake of Valentine’s Day last week, we’ve been spreading the press coverage love recently. The most darling piece of coverage belongs to Bromium, who were the subject of a fantastic article on the BBC – which drew some great parallels between Bromium and characters of the animated film ‘The Incredibles’. The Times included some admirable coverage of HCL with its ‘Talent Management’ feature making use of HCL’s comments on how data analysis can be utilised by HR departments.

When you get the right gift, it’s too good not to share, and share Spark did this week with Couchbase customer story appearing in diginomica, and research from JDA and Centiro also featuring.

The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) had a sweet week too, releasing the results of a YouGov survey it commissioned, resulting in coverage on Figaro Digital and The Drum – two key marketing publications. Huntsman felt the love too with its comments on UK cyber-attacks being covered by Information Age.

Elsevier had a gift in the form of a charming piece of coverage in Pharmaceutical Technology. The piece takes an in-depth look at Elsevier’s Hive Project, explaining its aims and methods, and featuring some incredibly enthusiastic quotes from participants in the project. The week’s last gushing piece of coverage was for Servion, who secured coverage in European Communications after commenting on EE’s attempts to improve customer service with technology.

This week has definitely produced some coverage worthy of being shouted from the rooftops. A full list of coverage cup nominations can be found below.

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Clearing The Air: Why Japan Is Lifting The Lid On Simpler Language

Clearing The Air: Why Japan Is Lifting The Lid On Simpler Language

In PR, we’re (ideally) taught early on that clarity is everything. In that light, the announcement by Japanese toilet seat manufacturers that they’re standardising control icon, which has been seen in some quarters as an amusing “and finally…” section to the news, takes on a new significance. With the Asian Games, Rugby World Cup and Olympics in quick succession, Japan needs to be prepared for a vast influx of visitors; most of whom will be utterly unfamiliar with the delights of using a toilet with more controls than just a flush. In these circumstances, making using a Roboplop as simple, understandable and universal an experience as possible has clear benefits to the nation, and more importantly to uncomfortable confused visitors.

Of course, this isn’t anything new: it’s not like anyone wanting to play, pause or record a tape, video, DVD or Netflix stream doesn’t know exactly what symbol means what. Standardisation and simplification are critical for increasing understanding, reducing confusion and, in many cases, ensuring safety; all of which hold true in PR. All too frequently, people want to seem clever; often too clever. I’ll hold my hands up to being guilty of this myself, searching for a new way to describe a client’s or our own product or service when there’s a perfectly acceptable, and understandable, term just sitting there. Differentiation is important, especially with so much potential exposure ruled by the whims of Google’s search algorithms. Yet there’s a difference between differentiation and obscurity.

Instead, we need to pick our battles. After all, if I tell people I work in b2b tech PR, they get it (more or less). Suddenly I decide to tell people I’m a “thought leadership clavicle” or another term of my own creation, and I shouldn’t be surprised if I’m met with blank stares. Instead, I can differentiate myself through what I do; how I do it; and who I do it with (and for). Similarly, there are times you do need a completely new term to describe what you do. However, the easier you can make it for your audience to understand, the more they’ll thank you. So ideally base it upon existing, well-understood terms, and have an easy-to-parse explanation waiting in the wings.

Much like the Japanese toilet seat industry, we need to know where we should focus our creativity, and where we should instead concentrate on being as simple and straightforward as possible. This isn’t always the easy option; it no doubt took time and effort to come up with symbols that would allow 7 billion people to have a really good idea of what’s about to happen beneath them. However, the more time and effort we put into keeping things simple, the larger the audience we can reach, and the more we can trust that we’re taking that audience with us.

NEW INSTRUCTIONS: From left – Mrs. Pac-Man; Pac-Man; sonic boom; hadoken; ants at a picnic; ejector seat; beach holiday; privacy window. (Picture credit: JAPAN SANITARY EQUIPMENT INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION)


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The Proof of the Pudding: how Spark won GMC Software

GMCWe’ve just won a new client GMC Software after a trial project. We’ll be running UK PR and supporting the rest of Europe with content, helping the company to move into new markets and target different stakeholders. With more than 1,600 clients worldwide, GMC is leading the charge in ensuring businesses can cope with digitalisation revolutionising both the way organisations communicate with their customers, and customers’ expectations of that experience. While GMC always had a strong presence in the printing industry, we won the account following a three-month trial period focused on the insurance industry: during which we created content including opinion pieces and research projects, used this to engage the insurance and technology press, and ultimately delivered coverage that got GMC noticed by insurers.

GMC’s focus is ensuring businesses can provide a single, consistent customer experience over any channel; whether that is post, phone, email or app. From claiming on motor insurance to checking your bank balance, customers demand the exact same experience whether they’re visiting in person, over post, or using any of the modern communications we take for granted. GMC Software services banking, insurance, healthcare and service providers around the world. Yet with its profile limited to the specialist printing press, key business and technology audiences were unaware of its potential.

Spark’s three-month trial proved we could help GMC elevate its message to a hard to reach vertical sector: we’re now providing full PR support across all its key audiences, with the same success.

But don’t just take our word for it. Magali Germain, senior director of field marketing EMEA at GMC Software, says: “Our main aim was to spread awareness beyond the existing printing press. Spark’s ideas, their energy, and their ability to engage with key press for the insurance audience made the final choice obvious. Since the initial period, Spark has broadened its reach to include financial, technology and marketing audiences and has demonstrated exactly the same levels of creativity, dedication, and success. We are looking forward to them building our influence even further.”

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