Big News

Here we’ll be keeping you up to date with all things Big Cat. Covering everything from new account wins to industry insight, make sure you check back regularly for the latest Big News.

 

The Big Cat design team had the chance to attend Behance Reviews Birmingham, hosted by Bareface.

This is a creative design forum where key speakers talked through their work processes and gave advice aimed at creative people in the industry (whether you were a photographer, illustrator, writer or designer).

In between talking about their processes they also highlighted the significance of doing work you’re passionate about and of human interaction and wellness in design. This is done by simply listening to the consumers’ needs (as well challenging the client brief), undertaking rigorous research as well as experimenting.

The most important thing to note is being prepared to make mistakes and learning from them is all part of the creative process.

After the talks, the events key speakers then provided a rare opportunity for budding creatives to gain insights from an established designer by reviewing their portfolios.

But opportunities like this shouldn’t be so rare…

Not just portfolio reviews, but design meetups in general. There aren’t many consistent events in Birmingham apart from our Digital Marketing Meetup (hosted monthly) and Glug (hosted quarterly). London is seen as the hub of all things design, and so it’s more than likely that you’ll come across events and opportunities there.

This is why it’s important now more than ever to get the ball rolling and to host and attend as many meetups taking place in Birmingham. It is a thriving creative city, and by creating more opportunities for designers to come together will not only help us grow as a community, but as people. We can branch out into other sectors such as Marketing and PR to build our reputation as a booming creative city.

How to host a successful meetup

Attending an event can be quite daunting (as designers aren’t always the most outgoing when it comes to networking opportunities) and hosting one even more so. However, even just a casual get-together over drinks while drawing (which Drink and Draw does excellently) is enough to grow our network. Our Managing Director Anthony Tattum gives us some of his key points in hosting a successful meetup:

1. When planning an event you need to think about three things:

  • Picking the right subject matter
  • Who is going to be speaking?
  • What is the format of the event?

We’re all busy people with commitments before, during and after work so you must choose a subject that is appealing to your attendees. When planning the event theme think:

  • What is in it for the audience?
  • What will they gain?
  • Would I want to go to this?
  • Is this too specialist?

Try to pick a topical subject or attract a speaker that has a strong appeal. If a high profile speaker isn’t possible then try interesting formats such as speed networking, multiple speakers followed by a panel discussion, small group workshops, or growth hacks.

2. Use a free event platform

Free event management and marketing platforms offer a really simple way to get your event off the ground and online

Currently we like Nvite, a free to use (providing the tickets are free) platform that looks beautiful; it can be adapted nicely with branding and makes delegate registration really simple. Some nice images are always good plus speaker photos and biographies help too.

Your event date and location are intuitively incorporated to make it super easy for visitors to navigate the site. Platforms like this, (however good,) are only as good as the content. In addition to what has already been said, ensure that you present your text well: punchy headings, short paragraphs, bullet point lists, and long list full of reasons to attend.

3. Audience

Finding and talking to the right audience is a crucial element of a successful event.

At Big Cat we’ve been organising events for over 20 years and have amassed a great database. If this is to be your first event you are likely to have a limited list of potential delegates. In this case we would suggest looking for partners with an existing database or starting small with the contacts you have already.

An alternative are community platforms like Meetup, which have ready- made special interest groups. Meetup also helps you promote events by subject matter and geographic location. It does however have its limitations: an unpleasant layout, poor community messaging and lots of weirdos – but is a great place to start to build a community and a brand.

This April, we’re delighted to be working with Pasta Di Piazza on their #FlyAFriendHome social competition.

For two weeks, Pasta Di Piazza will be running a competition on Dine Birmingham’s platform to reunite families and friends from across the world.

From Monday 17th April to Sunday 30th April 2017, Pasta Di Piazza will be asking individuals to explain via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram why they want to surprise a loved one by flying a friend home.

One winner, who will be selected by Dine Birmingham, at the end of the two week competition will receive £300 from Pasta Di Piazza towards a return flight for one of their friends or family members, along with a complimentary meal for two at Pasta Di Piazza.

For more information click here, and don’t forget to follow @DineBirmingham on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to be in with a chance of winning!

At Big Cat we have always tried to drive conversation around digital and we believe the region needs a step change in its digital competitiveness. To achieve this, we need a Mayor to lead the charge to bring digital skills and jobs to the West Midlands. Therefore, we were excited to invite former Managing Director of John Lewis and West Midlands Mayoral hopeful, Andy Street to share his vision for creating a world-leading digital economy across the region.

Street is no laggard when it comes to digital. He pioneered a ‘digital first’ retail strategy at John Lewis, being one of the first national multiples to adopt Omni-channel marketing.

So as we are nearing only a few weeks away from deciding which candidate will deliver devolved powers from Westminster, Andy Street shared with over 100 delegates from a range of industries across Birmingham and the wider Midlands, what his digital priorities will be and his mission to prepare for a regional digital revolution.

Street launched the session by saying, “Digital is vital to the continued success of the West Midlands economy because it is the golden thread across all the industries, which will provide jobs in the twenty-first century.”

Throughout the session, Street touched on three key areas of focus which really struck a chord with us here at Big Cat – Talent, Creative Business and Storytelling.

  1. Talent

Birmingham, the youngest city in Europe, is the home of not one, but six universities which provides us with so much fresh, young talent which Street says, we need to focus on, keeping hold of in our city and wider region.

“Attracting, nurturing and retaining the best talent in the city will be an imperative part of the West Midlands vision.”

The creation of a Digital Skills Institute and a new graduate retention programme are included in proposals by the Mayoral candidate. Street spoke about how this will see the support of innovative new approaches to skills training such as digital apprenticeships, digital boot camps and online learning.

  1. Creative Business

Street went on to discuss the growing opportunities for Broadcasting in Birmingham with the BBC, announcing it was part-locating BBC Three at the Mailbox next year, and there are now calls for Channel 4 to relocate here too. Experts in the broadcasting sector think the city has a strong offer and Street explained how he is 100% supporting the bid to bring Channel 4 to the region.

“These leading broadcasters play a major role in driving innovation, investment and the jobs which will attract the best talent across the UK. In addition, they will help with expanding the crop of up-and-coming young talent in the city through apprenticeships and training programmes which will help develop a new generation of content makers and story tellers.”

 

Street stated the importance of lobbying Government to make sure the West Midlands is at the top of the list when any national, cultural or creative organisation, such as Channel 4, is considering relocation.

  1. Storytelling

Street’s further message to us was how imperative it will be for our region to create an eco -system that will attract larger companies and investors. And as part of that, it will become more important than ever before for businesses within our region to start storytelling. “We need to share the great work and successes that we have to promote, as well as the passion and enthusiasm to build excitement and inspiration in Birmingham and beyond,” Street said.

At Big Cat we couldn’t agree more with the value of getting your brand or business heard through content. Your stories are one of the most important things you have. After all, we all remember a well told story!

The breakfast concluded with an engaging Q&A session where Street emphasised his plans to embrace this renaissance by growing the economy in a way which will benefit everybody. By adopting a West Midlands first attitude, promoting the great brands and businesses which will attract talent as well as investment, and supporting innovative new approaches to skills training will all be vital for building the digital talent and skills the region needs to make the digital revolution success for the West Midlands.

The power is in your hands so make sure that you all use your voice and vote on the 4 May, 2017.

 

If there is one concept that is consistently used in public relations and advertising, its the power of storytelling.

We live in a 24/7 digital world where there is an abundance of information.  Consumers can access news and content anytime of day, from anywhere around the globe, but unfortunately we lack enough time to consume it all. However, we all make time for a story that means something to us.  We all know ourselves that when something is meaningful, we will stop and take notice of it. Because a great story hooks us in, makes us think and it gets us to act.

Forbes magazine have claimed storytelling to be the hottest trend in marketing today with a massive 63% of people remembering a story told to them, compared with only 5% of us who will remember stats.

In a digital world filled with tweets and likes what actually touches us, and endures us, are stories. Stories grab us by our imagination, seep into our memories and urge us to share with others.

So how is storytelling used by brands and businesses? Ultimately it’s used to build rational and emotional connections to relevant audiences. It helps to drive conversation, increase engagement with a brand and build loyalty and advocacy which in turn will deliver some form of measurable action.  Major brands such a Dove, Google and Coca Cola have all become industry icons for their ability to capture audience’s imaginations through their storytelling methods.

A compelling narrative will, prompt a personal connection and engage with consumers in ways which evoke emotion and influence.  Stories also have the ability to have a long lasting impression that stay etched in people’s memories and set a brand apart from its’ competitors. Over time this will help with attracting a much bigger audience.

No matter what your business there is an opportunity to tell a story. Brands and organisations can no longer just rely on their offering in order to succeed.  If you’re a coffee shop – you’re not just selling coffee, you’re selling a relationship. So it’s important that brands of all sizes and offerings challenge themselves to release their inner story teller.

The top two things to always keep in mind when telling a story are relevance and audience. While it’s great to create an emotive, funny or compelling story, most importantly, it should be relevant to your brands core values. There must always be a reason for the content, the story and the engagement. As a brand you need to be purposeful.

It’s also about ensuring that you create content which is relatable to your audience. Do your research and fully understand what consumers want, desire and need. The story should always include shared values for customers, organisations and shareholders. The best stories are narrow and specific but fit into a larger narrative that resonates with the audience they’re trying to influence.

It’s not just what the story line is to begin with that’s important. The way we share information and the channels we use are imperative to making your story or content a success. Channels are evolving and the way we seek news and information is changing. Information finds us through the lens of our friends and, articles are being re-packaged into shorter, shareable more mobile formats.  We see far more lists, quizzes, slide shows and videos in our social feeds, recently we are seeing the growth of audio as a popular channel. Being selective about what channels are right for your brand and your audience is crucial to the success of your story.

So the moral of this story is, for businesses to succeed, they have to give customers so much more than just a service or a product. Being a great storyteller through owned and earned channels – blogs, your website, social platforms, advertising or press coverage, it is imperative that you are offering a reason for your audience to connect on an ongoing basis. It will get you noticed and make you stand out from the competition. Stories touch the hearts of consumers and once that connection has been made, it will go a long way in building a loyal customer who is an advocate for your brand.

We can hardly believe that this year marks three years since we began helping Grand Central with the communication planning in preparation for opening its shiny new doors to the general public, positioning the centre as a premium destination to meet with family, friends and colleagues, right in the heart of the city.

Since the eagerly-anticipated launch in 2015, our PR guys have worked closely with the Grand Central Management team to develop an array of strategic PR campaigns, securing regional coverage each month and building up relationships with key influencers across the city. We’ve helped to drive talk-ability surrounding the centre, encouraging footfall and ensuring that customers continue to be engaged by the captivating moments which keep Grand Central at the core of our city.

With each year, comes fresh opportunity to be creative, and deliver Grand Central’s key messaging to its key audience groups, in innovative and inspiring ways. Last year, we celebrated one million shoppers, a 6 month anniversary, Grand Central’s first birthday and a very festive Christmas.

This year, we’ve got a brand new brief and we’re excited to get our Big Cat claws into it. It’s been a great two years so far, working for such a monumental client that delivers and captures the heart of the Birmingham public, and we look forward to delivering even more exciting and creative communications campaigns over the next year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It will come as no surprise to you that competition in the charity sector is fierce. Having a digital presence isn’t enough to attract the attention and build loyalty amongst donors. So in order to stand out from an already crowded market place, you need to ask yourself three things:

  • What constitutes as great content?
  • How do you create it?
  • Most importantly how can you make it work for your charity?

Crafting great content is all about stories that capture the imagination of your audience. In fact in 2016, Forbes said that “storytelling was the year’s hottest marketing trend[i].” Throughout my 15 years of experience, these are my 4 tips for crafting, sharing and measuring great content.

 

Craft unique narrative

A fundamental part of your content strategy is crafting your narrative. This work enables you to carve out your key messages and provide a platform for future communications. Your narrative will provide consistency for your brand, business or charity right across the media and platforms that you engage.

When forming your narrative you should ask yourself what story you are trying to tell, If you are a charity:

  • What do you do?
  • Who for and how do you make a difference?
  • What is the history of your organisation – how and why were you formed?
  • What is your brand vision – what are your aspirations in 5-10 years’ time?
  • What is your USP/ points of difference from your competitors?
  • Finally what do you want to be renowned for?

All of these key components give you a base for your narrative.

 

Structure your social media content using this formula for success:

Be visual- posts with images or videos get more than double the amount of engagement than text only. Photos with close up images of people work best. This is because this composition can covey more emotion for people to respond to.

Make sure that you are timely – whether it’s International Women’s Day, British Pie Week or Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there is always something in the news that you can piggyback your story off. This gives your content much more resonance and reach. Never, never jump on the band wagon late. If you’re going to join in make sure it’s still (or just about to start) trending.

Tailor your content so that it is shareable – most of us don’t have tens of thousands of followers but even if you do, make your content on social media as sharable as possible. As well as following these tips your content should be entertaining, educational or surprising. Depending on the content should probably contain a link or be pretty short form.

Relevancy is a key part in creating content. Any and all content should be relevant to your organisation. Sometimes it can be tentative and they often are the most fun. For example Scandinavian Airlines were right on the money with the Brangelina split[ii]. It’s important to take into account the national news agenda as well as news within your own organisation and explore possible synergies.

Anyone can write content but remarkable content must be entertaining, inspiring, educational or surprising. It must be something people want to read because it enhances their experience as a result of visiting your website or blog.

Map your channels to your audiences

Instagram is great for tapping into current trends and inspiring millennial audiences. You can utilise Facebook to promote events and campaigns to families by tapping into emotions. Or use Twitter as a brand loyalty platform to build advocates amongst service users. Your organisation will have its own key messages, unique mix of audiences and there will be an ideal mix of channels for you to use. The key thing to remember is that social media is another way to have conversations with your audience. Customer service has moved beyond the realm of face to face and now online conversations play a vital role in how you are presented online.

Create a content plan

Work with all teams in your organisation to map out a 12 month content plan. This should be focused around key calendar dates, seasonal pillars and planned campaigns. The themes of the content plan should be identified while you crafted your narrative.

A content plan rich in relevant, timely, visual and shareable content will attract potential customers. If that content makes their life better in some way it will make them want to share it. Make sure your digital channels are the must visit location for everything to do with your sectors specialism.

A content plan should enable you to produce a steady stream of content around themes you own and that your audiences care about. If you’re new to producing content plans and don’t know what your audience wants a good place to start is your competitors. Find all of their online channels. Follow their social media and subscribe to their news and blog feeds. Note down which themes they are covering and measure how much interaction they are getting.

Or if you’ve already got a content plan up and running make sure you understand which types of content gets the most views, shares, likes and comments. Do more of what’s getting the best results and less of the worst. Over time this will optimise your efforts.

But what is the next big thing in content?

It is predicted that in 2017 74% of internet traffic will be video. Online video users doubled in 2016 to 1.5 billion. Already brands are launching their ads on social media prior to the airing on TV just like Centre Parcs [iii] did in 2016.

This “Social video” phenomenon is growing exponentially (in spite of the failure of Twitter’s attempt with Vine) and the likes of Facebook are giving more reach to video than any other app on the platform.

Social videos have it all: they can be entertaining, educational and inspiring. The emotions that can be conveyed can change behaviour and compel action.

Creating videos can be expensive but social videos can be more effective even if they do feel DIY and a bit shaggy. A few ways to save money can include:

  • Repurposing imagery you already have – such as your products, your people and your workspace
  • Use your internal talent – using staff for your videos gives you a unique personality and authenticity
  • Use free editing tools like iMovie or Windows Movie Maker
  • And finally check out this list on adweek [iv]for royalty free music sites

We hope you found these tips useful, if you want some more advice on how we can help you create great content, get in touch with us!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[i] https://www.forbes.com/sites/miketempleman/2016/11/03/content-marketing-trends-what-to-expect-in-2017-and-beyond/#72d46d848bb0

[ii] http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/story-behind-norwegians-brad-single-ad/1410627

[iii] http://www.thedrum.com/news/2016/12/08/center-parcs-will-tease-biggest-campaign-the-year-facebook-it-goes-live-tv-new

[iv] http://www.adweek.com/digital/royalty-free-music/)

After graduating in June of last year, I went through countless applications determined to get my foot in the door in the wondrous world of PR, and I seemed to have really hit the jackpot when in December I got an email back confirming an interview time and date with Big Cat’s PR team!

I joined the pride during their Christmas party, and it was a great welcome! I was made to feel a part of the team from the very beginning, I knew straight away the months to come were going to be filled with lots of fun and more importantly, a lot of learning!

When I joined I had some knowledge of PR but not enough to be certain that it was the career for me. Fast forward to February, and Big Cat has totally changed that! I’ve learnt how to use different research tools, write a press release and sell it in, use google analytics, and confidently use a coffee grinder (a skill I will carry with me for the rest of my life!). As I go out into the real world, I’ll be feeling more confident than I would have done before undertaking this internship.

I honestly could not have asked for a better place to start my journey into the world of work. I’ll most definitely miss working in such a fast paced, fun and hard working environment.

As I bow out of this incredible experience I’ve been asked to give some of my top tips for being a successful intern, so here goes!

  • Be inquisitive, the Big Cat Pride is filled with intelligent creatives that have a wealth of experience and knowledge, take in as much of it as you can!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help, the team have been great mentors to me and answered every question I have ever asked.
  • Above all, have fun! The team are witty, pun masters that really do know how to work and play hard!

The much-anticipated documentary series “Abstract: The Art of Design” will be released on Netflix tomorrow, allowing us to delve into the minds of various innovative creatives to learn how design impacts every aspect of life. “Excited” doesn’t quite cover it at the Big Cat studio, especially after many successful Netflix originals (Stranger Things, anyone?), and so we are really looking forward to this new series.

This season – and we hope that there will be more to come –  will focus on the following artists: Bjarke Ingels (Architect), Christoph Niemann (Illustrator), Es Devlin (Stage Designer), Ilse Crawford (Interior Designer), Paula Scher (Graphic Designer), Platon (Photographer), Ralph Gilles (Automobile Designer) and Tinker Hatfield (Nike Shoe Designer – whom Marv, our Design Director, is particularly hyped for). Sharing such niche insights on a mainstream level gives everyday folk a greater understanding of our industry which can only be a good thing.

Big Cat can’t wait to see how this will all unfold, here’s hoping that today passes quickly!

2016 seems so long ago and boy it was a good year for Big Cat! We’ve recently taken on new clients such as MWW, Aspire and Nasen (just to name a few!) and simply can’t wait to show you the work we’ll be doing for them. In the meantime we’ve highlighted some of the work we’ve produced over the last year for you to get your teeth into…

Dived into the Aspire Channel Swim campaign

We worked with Aspire to promote the Aspire Channel Swim – the whole agency was involved in rebranding and marketing the charity challenge which resulted in the highest amount of fundraising the charity has ever received since the first challenge over 15 years ago! We’re looking forward to working with Aspire Channel Swim to achieve even better results for the 2017 challenge!

Celebrated Grand Central’s first birthday

September 2016 marked one year since the launch of Grand Central – Birmingham’s most talked about shopping centre. To celebrate the first birthday, we rolled out a weekly press office offering shoppers special discounts and giveaways driving them in store. We also inspired audiences through an influencer program enabling us to leverage blogger networks to engage with wider audiences.

Introduced the Alchemist to Birmingham

Big Cat were engaged by The Alchemist to launch the brand for the very first time into the Birmingham market, ensuring we cut through the clutter in an already crowded space. Prior to the launch we needed to create brand awareness, providing the public with a flavour of what was to come. We developed a stunt activation which saw mixologists whipping up cocktail concoctions in a pop up perspex box outside the Bullring Birmingham. With bunsen burners, dry ice, steam and smoke, passers-by were able to get glimpse of what was about to hit the city by storm.

 

Jazzed up Assay Studios’ interior design

The design team supported the renovation of the Assay Studios collaborative workspace (now known as one of the coolest offices in Birmingham) by producing internal/external vinyls, prints and frames plus a custom Matthew Boulton artwork. Photos of our work will be up in our case studies soon so keep your eyes peeled!

Launched three Umbrella campaigns

We have planned and executed three campaigns for Umbrella; one to promote Umbrella Pharmacies, one to raise awareness of sexual health during Fresher’s Weeks for Birmingham universities and the most recent one was a campaign to raise awareness of HIV testing during HIV awareness week. We’re looking forward to working on more Umbrella campaigns this year!

 

All in all, 2016 has been a very good year for us at Big Cat. We’ve gained a few new clients and have retained existing ones, and we can’t wait to see what work we’ll unfold this year. We hope you all have a fantastic start to 2017!

Fresh from her holiday where she spent her days basking in the sunshine with her nose in books, our very own Senior Marketing Account Executive, Keshia Chauhan thought it seemed like the perfect time to write a quick blog on her love of books for National Libraries Day!

National Libraries Day marks a celebration of institutions within towns and cities worldwide – libraries aren’t just about books – they’re about communities.  As much as I love Birmingham’s iconic new library, the old Central Library will forever have a special place in my heart.

For as long as I can remember, books have always been my thing. So much so that that I credit my terrible eye sight to the many evenings of my childhood that I spent reading my beloved DK encyclopaedia under my duvet with a torch when I was supposed to sleeping (wild, I know!)

There’s something about getting stuck into a good read that a Netflix series just can’t replace. One of my favourite smells is that of books. It evokes memories of spending hours in bookshops as a child with my late father, pouring over books before making my careful selections – books that I read over and over again until they became dog-eared and found themselves resigned to my overflowing bookshelf following the next trip to a bookstore.

Every Saturday morning I recall the mad rush to get to Birmingham’s Central Library in time for my IT Club group (yes, IT Club was my idea of fun as a child!) – after a 2 hour class, I escaped to the children’s fiction section with my classmates, excitedly selecting a few books to read throughout the week, handing over my prized library card and watching as the librarian stamped the book’s return date. For me the library was so much more than just a place to get books – it was where I learned. Where I made and met friends. Where I could explore stories and gather new information. Every Saturday morning, I was part of Central Library’s community and I continued to be until its closure 2013.

Whilst we’re fortunate enough here in Birmingham to have had our Central Library replaced, the news of complete closures of more and more libraries across the UK is saddening. Communities are being broken up, from the elderly whose only interaction is with the clerk at the desk, to the single mother whose only chance at being involved in a support group is the baby and rhyming session that takes place once a week.

So you see, libraries are more important than you think. In a world where we are leading ever-busying lifestyles, taking the time to sit in a quiet room with a cup of fresh coffee and a good book feels like the ultimate luxury – one I don’t think I’ll ever tire of and one that I hope to instil in many generations to come.