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RUMOUR MILL HAS IT: PODCAST #2

RUMOUR MILL HAS IT: PODCAST #2

Boredom struck? Feel yourself going crazier each day? Fear not, as the Rumour Mill team is here with the next instalment of its ‘Rumour Has It’ podcast. Recorded remotely due to Covid-19 (so excuse the reduced quality) we chat through what is keeping us entertained and, most importantly sane, during this unprecedented time.

Listen here: https://bit.ly/rumourhasit2

Week #1 of working from home has its ups, and certainly its downs (our raid on the biscuit tin is intense!). But while we adjust to this strange time we are currently calling ‘normality’, our work WhatsApp chat has not slowed down once, as we check-in on each other, get the latest client updates, plus bizz about what we’re doing to keep ourselves sane away from the emails.

WHAT WE’RE READING

The perfect (and at the moment, very necessary) escapism from reality – there really is nothing like good book to get stuck into. Our top favs at the moment are:

  1. Good Friday by Lynda La Plante

A gripping crime fiction that tells the story of newly graduated detective Jane Tennison in 1975, after an IRA bomb hits London.

  1. Good to Great by Jim Collins

An insightful management book that describes how companies transition from being good to great, and how most companies fail to make the transition – perfect for times like now when we all need a little motivation!

  1. Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton

For the romcom lovers out there! This award-winning journalist gives an unflinching account of the bad dates, the heartaches, humiliations, and most importantly, the unbreakable female friendships that helped her get through it all.

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

Where would the world be right now without Netflix and Disney+? The team have well and truly been delving into what’s on offer across both streaming sites, with some of our top suggestions being:

  1. Lost Girls on Netflix

A dark drama about a desperate woman determined to find her missing daughter, who launches a personal investigation that leads police to the unsolved cases of murdered sex workers.

  1. The End of the F***ing World on Netflix

A strangely apt series for this time – this show sees two 17-year-old outsiders embark on a road trip to escape life as they know it. Together, they get caught up on a trail of violent events that grow increasingly more ominous as their quest progresses.

  1. Coco on Disney+

A highly-acclaimed movie that follows aspiring musician Miguel, who despite his family’s ancestral ban on music, enters the Land of the Dead to find his great-great-grandfather, a legendary singer.

WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO

The best way to get your head in the zone. We’ve been listening flat out to BBC Radio 2 and Radio 1 – they’re perfect for a good mix of music as well as broadcasting just the right amount of news updates without being too overwhelming! Podcasts are an obvious choice for us too, there’s nothing better than good earwig to distract you and learn something new! Our usual ones are:

  1. What’s the Tee? by RuPaul and Michelle Visage

From pop culture’s finest to the divas of drag, this weekly comedy podcast spills all the tea on a wide range of topics.

  1. Diary of a CEO by Steven Bartlett

A weekly podcast where entrepreneur Steven Bartlett shares his personal diary, giving you an insight into what life is like behind the scenes alongside special guests.

  1. Happy Place by Fearne Cotton

For those wanting to unwind and embrace their inner ‘zen’, Fearne Cotton chats to incredible people about life, love, loss, and everything in between.

AND OTHER FUN STUFF…

We all need a distraction that doesn’t involve doing house chores, or snacking. We’re loving playing Mario Kart multiplayer with each other, experimenting with new cooking recipes, and boosting our brains with free courses online.

‘Have you done your Joe Wicks today guys?’ is a common question we ask each other too. From his YouTube P.E. classes to his ‘Seven Days of Sweat’ challenges – this will make sure we’re burning off those biscuits!

We’ve also developed a soft spot for the ‘dance of the day’ and ‘song of the day’ challenges on TikTok – they’re a great way to entertain yourself and each other!

We hope you enjoy our latest podcast and we have some more fun episodes planned for the months ahead. Remember to follow government guidelines, look after each other and #stayathome.

FAKE NEWS, FECK OFF

FAKE NEWS, FECK OFF

Today like no other, fake news is not what we need to see and read, yet it is happening daily. Reliable information is more crucial than ever in the midst of this global pandemic. Our news feeds, social media accounts and WhatsApp groups are continually being updated with the latest news, government guidance and some laugh out loud memes, that are giving us all a bit of light relief at this crazy time.

We were all waiting with bated breath for Boris Johnston’s announcement last night. Now that the government is implementing a strict lockdown across the country due to COVID-19, most of us will find ourselves spending a lot more time at home and let’s be honest, on our phones. Most likely, we will be spending more time keeping an eye on latest news updates, scrolling on our mobiles for hours and praying for some good news to come our way soon.

But be on your guard; there are some people out there who are sharing hoaxes and fake news stories about Coronavirus. Yes, they must be very bored, not to mention extremely irresponsible.

Facebook appears to be doing its part to stem the tide of misinformation and fake news. The company has also vowed to ban ads and commercial listings for masks, hand sanitizer, surface disinfecting wipes and COVID-19 testing kits.

WhatsApp is attempting to tackle the issue and has launched a website to help combat misinformation surrounding the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. The Facebook-owned company has partnered with the World Health Organisation and UNICEF to create helpful material. For more information visit: https://www.whatsapp.com/coronavirus/

Twitter will do the same and has vowed to remove tweets that run the risk of causing harm by spreading dangerous misinformation about Covid-19.

Ignore speculation, delete any accounts that are producing blatantly incorrect and disruptive information and only follow reliable sources.

Keep your head space in the right space. And remember, #stayathome!

CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS & COVID-19

CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS & COVID-19

Communication is the cornerstone of every organisation’s success. It’s even more important in times of crisis. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic is having an affect on everyone and there are no signs of the spread slowing down anytime soon.

As the news unfolds daily, we are in unprecedented times that no one could predict. Quite often a crisis communications strategy is on standby in the instances of avoiding a certain situation. No matter how large or small, your business or organisation will not be able to avoid what is going on right now.

It is however key to have a communications plan in place that will assist in you sharing accurate, honest and trustworthy information, both internally and externally.

External Communications

It would be a real luxury to have a communications plan in place for COVID-19, but we did not predict the severity of its impact.  Now is the time to put communications into play – if you already have some form of communications plan in place, great. It is most likely changing daily as the government guidelines are continuously evolving. If you have no comms plan in place, you must!

WHO

Know your tone of voice and team member(s) the messaging should come from. It is important that the messaging is trustworthy and from a reliable member of the team or management.

WHAT

At times like this, communications can feel overwhelming. Ensure all content shared is factual, having following guidance from professional or government guidelines.

WHERE

Depending on the nature of your business or organisation, you may already use a variety of communication outlets. Emails, marketing material and social media will all have their uses. In times like these, social media is of great benefit to generate proactive messaging which is essential during a crisis. Using social media channels allows for content to be updated regularly and accurately. However close media monitoring should be implemented.

Internal Communications

Not only is this a troublesome time for your clients or customers, you most likely will have staff to think about. Do not overlook your employees or avoid communicating with them. This may lead to:

  1. Employees becoming worried and confused
  2. Employees being misinformed
  3. Chaos and negative atmosphere develops within the workplace causing disruption to operations

Management should keep things simple in a time of crisis: Be honest and produce facts.

We have provided valuable crisis communications support over the years. We will never forget when the famous NI tourist attraction, The Gobbins opened, then five months later had to close suddenly Dec 31st…we managed the comms for this as the bells rang in the New Year. Crisis comms at its finest!

Remember, effective crisis communications can define or destroy your business. Having a helping hand can save you precious time, resources and reputation. If you would like to find out more about how Rumour Mill could help, get in touch today at hello@rumourmillcomms.com

NEW APP, LOYALBE, AIMS TO REINVENT LOYALTY REWARDS

NEW APP, LOYALBE, AIMS TO REINVENT LOYALTY REWARDS

At a time when consumer loyalty has never been more central to a retailer’s ongoing success, loyalBe is an app that abandons the needless collection of loyalty cards and replaces it with a seamless, single smartphone application that puts the power of ‘loyalty’ in the hands of shoppers and independent hospitality & retailers alike.

Following a six-figure investment and authorisation by the Financial Conduct Authority, loyalBe is the brainchild of local Belfast man Cormac Quinn who identified and created a frictionless loyalty scheme that doesn’t require consumers to take out their phone at the point of sale to earn rewards, or for retailers to house bulky equipment onsite taking up premium space.

In fact, customers simply link their bank card during registration and earn points whenever they spend in-store. It couldn’t be easier!

With growing sign ups and new businesses coming onboard daily, Cormac is confident that loyalBe is the perfect solution to revolutionise and futureproof the consumer and retailer relationship.

“When I began to research this market, two things were clear. Firstly, loyalty cards have always had an issue with customers not wanting to bulk up their wallets or purses with endless pieces of paper; and secondly for businesses, how can they know who their loyal customers are and how often they’re actually visiting.

“By looking at the benefits of loyalty schemes and also the weaknesses, I felt there was an opportunity to create a technological solution that made it easier for consumers to receive rewards and businesses to connect more seamlessly with shoppers.

“Our loyalBe app works by connecting directly to the customers bank card, rewarding purchases and giving retailers the ability to understand their customers better, and offer a more personalised shopping experience. Given its frictionless nature, we don’t require any equipment or software at till points and customers don’t need to change their behaviour. They simply just pay by card as usual.”

A number of hospitality and retail outlets across Belfast are currently seeing the benefits of loyalBe, helping them create more loyal customers who in turn visit more frequently and spend more per visit than non-loyal ones. They have access to the ‘back office’ dashboard that lets them know their top customers, receive private feedback, engage with customers and much more.

Speaking on the benefits and positive impact loyalBe has been on driving footfall and sales, Paul Glover, owner of Arthur’s Coffee Company says: “We’ve been using loyalBe for a while now and I have to say it’s transformed how we reward our customers.

“Previously we were limited to just a physical paper loyalty card that offered no flexibility in what was rewarded or provided accurate return rate feedback. Now, thanks to loyalBe we’re able to reward the entirety of our customers spend across the range, generating a better response to and from the customer. Beyond that, we’re able to amend, extend and add new deals within the dashboard.

“This is the sort of flexibility that is not commonly available to small businesses and gives us a better chance at competing with bigger companies that have more resources. It all adds up to a very comprehensive system that we use daily, allowing us to remain competitive.

“I’m very happy to see the continued improvements and new features in the system and happily recommend loyalBeto my various contacts within the industry.”

Cormac concludes: “We have ambitious plans for loyalBe and are ecstatic by the positive uptake so far – it is an exciting time. Our aim is to increase the number of active users and businesses using loyalBe significantly and as such are offering any new hospitality and retail businesses who sign up by the end of April 2020 a 100% lifetime discount.

“As a Belfast company, we want to encourage consumers to shop and support local. Our ability to offer this 100% lifetime discount is testament to our desire to help local business maximise the power of loyalty.”

The app can be downloaded from the Apple and Android stores, online via https://getloyalbe.com/ and retailers interested in signing up can register via loyalBe.io

loyalBe is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. Financial Services Registration number is 829479. 

 

IT’S TRUE… ‘RUMOUR HAS IT’ IS OFFICIALLY LIVE!

IT’S TRUE… ‘RUMOUR HAS IT’ IS OFFICIALLY LIVE!

The podcast scene is booming, and as a team we absolutely love listening to them and working out what series we will try next. We talk about them so much, that we have now talked ourselves into doing our very own and are delighted to announce Rumour Has It is here!

We love a good statistic, so did you know, there are 7.1million people in the UK who listen to podcasts? (Ofcom, 2019). That has more than doubled in the past five years.

The ability to listen to something, in high quality, no matter where you are is really attractive and jumping into subjects that you would not necessarily have tuned into is a real bonus. Unlike an audiobook, podcasts are usually conversations between two or more people that will feel natural, yet unpredictable, which we enjoy!

In the office we have the news on the TV every day, but sometimes it can be overwhelming, and we are sick of the word Brexit! So, to change up the mood we will stick on a podcast! Some of our favourites are: The Diary of A CEO with Steven Bartlett; Happy Place with Fearne Cotton; Table Manners with Jessie Ware; Private Message with Sophie Milner and Gemma Talbot; plus Private Parts with Jamie Laing and Francis Boulle.

Rumour Has It has been created as a platform for us to delve into topics that we are passionate about, not just in PR, but in our lives. We have inspiring guests lined up from across all sectors including entertainment, hospitality, PR, media and lots more! If you are a podcast listener already, we would love to be added to your list. If you are new to podcasts, please give it a try, we promise you won’t regret it, and maybe get a good laugh too!

How can I listen to the podcast?

Rumour Has It can be found on Spotify and an episode will be listed bi-weekly. Don’t forget to subscribe so you never miss an episode.

Fancy coming on the podcast?

We love to talk, do you? Get in touch to find out more about being a guest on Rumour Has It.

UNITED WINES LAUNCHES ‘I HEART GIN’

UNITED WINES LAUNCHES ‘I HEART GIN’

United Wines is delighted to announce the launch of i heart Gin into Northern Ireland.

As current distributors of the Freixenet Copestick’s i heart Wine range, United Wines is working to promote this latest addition to the best-selling range. The introduction of i heart Gin also marks a move by Freixenet Copestick’s into spirits for the first time. The launch brings two new gins to the ever-growing spirits market, i heart Gin & i heart Pink Gin, just in time for Mother’s Day and Easter.

Gin is considered to be a favourite spirit to enjoy by the Northern Ireland consumer. Gin sales have increased by 40% in the past 12 months in the UK, according to WSTA, (Wine and spirits trade Association, 2020) proving that the spirit market is in high demand.

The move into spirits is starting with a 40% abv classic juniper gin alongside a 37.5% abv pink gin which is flavoured with strawberry, juniper and herbs.

Emma Haughian, United Wines Brand Manager said: “We are delighted to expand the availability of i heart Gin within key Northern Ireland stores.  We have had great success with the i heart brand previously and to have this latest gin as a brand-new option, we anticipate there will be a real draw for consumers. Gin sales are on the increase here and having two flavours in the range is an added bonus.”

I heart Gin and i heart Pink Gin are available in all participating good independent retailers from 1st March 2020, RRP: £16/17. The launch will be supported with a social media influencer campaign and in store visibility drive.

REVOLUTIONARY FOOD WASTE APP ‘GANDER’ PROVES A SOARING SUCCESS

REVOLUTIONARY FOOD WASTE APP ‘GANDER’ PROVES A SOARING SUCCESS

Gander, a world-first award-winning app created to reduce food waste, has transformed the spending habits of Northern Ireland shoppers with a significant soar in downloads and increased sales of yellow stickered foods since its launch last August.

Earmarking Northern Ireland as the initial launch pad for the app, over 41,000 downloads have taken place in the last four months, placing it in the top 12% of apps nationally. In addition, up to 45% more reduced-price food have sold which means 45% more has been kept from going to waste. These improvements mean that stores on average are selling between 85-100% of their reduced product shown on Gander, with yellow-stickered items selling 40% quicker since the introduction of Gander; and often at higher prices as shoppers are interested in getting the reduction as soon as it appears.

Gander integrates directly with a retailers POS which enables retailers to automatically display to shoppers in real-time all reduced-to-clear food on the shelves within their local store.  Furthermore, Gander does this automatically, meaning nothing changes in store at all and no additional staff training. The app allows the customer ultimate control over what reduced priced goodies they search for, whether it is by location, favourite stores, reduction, food type and even dietary.

Speaking on the success, one of Gander’s founders, Ashley Osborne says: “The traction and growth of Gander has been amazing. We had expected a decent level of interest, but never envisaged the degree of downloads – especially when only trialled in Northern Ireland initially. The level of positive buy-in demonstrated by customers and retailers alike has been phenomenal and testament that Gander’s proposition is a great fit for consumers out there.

“Customer feedback has been incredibly supportive and the interest in high quality reduced food is impressive, now that they can actually see what is available whereas previously you would have to go to the store and hope to find something reduced. Plus, shoppers are feeling empowered thanks to Gander, aiding them to be more sustainable in their shopping choices. This supports the app’s endeavour to decrease and prevent food waste and create a more sustainable environment has also proved highly effective.”

Ashley adds: “All in all this has led to not only a substantial reduction in surplus and waste, but an increase in overall sales of reduced items, with up to an 800% return on investment for a retailer using Gander.”

Gander launched initially by integrating with Henderson Technologies award winning EDGEPos system to display all of the yellow stickered produce from their stores in real time. Gander went live in 310 participating SPAR, EUROSPAR, ViVO and ViVOxtra stores.

Due to the successful launch of Gander, it has attracted a lot of interest from additional retailers, many of whom will be rolling out with Gander in the next few months across UK and ROI.

The Gander app can be downloaded via the Apple or Android app stores

FIRST GLANCE AT AVA’S NEW MULTI-STAGE OUTDOOR FESTIVAL

FIRST GLANCE AT AVA’S NEW MULTI-STAGE OUTDOOR FESTIVAL

After announcing its largest line-up to date with headliners such as Orbital, Denis Sulta, and the long-awaited return of Laurent Garnier and Fatima Yamaha, AVA has revealed a first glance of its new site plans and stages for the now outdoor festival. Set for May 28th-31st, AVA makes its debut at Boucher Road Playing Fields Belfast, along with an opening show and free conference at the MAC with closing events in the city.

In keeping with the ethos of AVA Festival, this year sees an uncompromising approach to the design and creativity, collaborating with the very best of local artists and bringing back some of the most exciting international performers to the city. The festival landscape will have a distinctive set up by merging industrial stage design with visual & electronic art and music across four enclosed intimate experiences.

The AVA Main Stage will maintain the warehouse style for the Festival, by providing a large enclosed headline-ready setting, complete with the iconic AVA lighting and visual show, set to show-case Orbital, Laurent Garnier, Denis Sulta and many more in the best possible light to Belfast.

Returning, will be the infamous Boiler Room and Red Bull Stages, AVA has sourced and will utilise shipping containers, accompanied by lighting installations designed and developed by local creative Oisin O’Brien, who runs Visual Spectrum.

‘Immerse AVA’ is a new edition and a groundbreaking concept from the team supported by Future Screens NI; the scaffolding stage will create a fully immersed ‘drenched’ like experience of light and visuals, incorporating surround sound systems to create a unique experience, that is set to tour beyond the Festival in Belfast.

Festival Director & Founder, Sarah McBriar said: “Working with a blank canvas is exciting, as the opportunities are endless. We have been developing the new site design for some time, incorporating the elements we believe will showcase the artists in the best way and make this year’s AVA experience unique.  The breadth of local and international artists in the line-up is a testament to the successes and growth of previous years. We are proud to bring AVA to one of the best crowds in the world for our sixth year running.”

Beyond the dancefloor, AVA will once again deliver a full programme of art installations and music/art/culture led conferencing at the MAC, chill spaces, local food traders, a new cocktail bar experience and visual art exhibitions, plus much more. Full festival passes can be bought online at £75 as part of a group ticket or £85 as a stand-alone, with a deposit scheme from £25. Tickets to AVA Festival are on sale via https://avafestival.com/festival.

 

ARE YOUR EMPLOYEES ON BRAND?

ARE YOUR EMPLOYEES ON BRAND?

When thinking of influencer marketing, the first thing that comes to mind is often young people attending events, showcasing the latest must-haves or raving about cosmetics and fashion in videos. However, in addition to these advertising faces on Instagram and YouTube, there is another type of influencer that may already be on your payroll and often comes across as much more authentic and credible. A company’s own employee base may be the best possible brand ambassadors on social media channels.

No matter what resources you use or how much money you spend to build your brand externally, a disgruntled employee or one customer’s interaction with an employee who can’t articulate what your company stands for, can lay all that time and money to waste.

There has been a series of instances in recent years were brands have got it totally wrong when they undervalued the power of the employee.

To ensure that brand promises, and identities are clearly communicated through every customer touch point, savvy companies MUST invest in internal communications. Smart hiring, comprehensive training and regular monitoring can help empower and motivate employees to become brand champions, whether they’re on the front lines, in middle management or behind the scenes.

Once employees are onboard, the employee handbook is an ideal place to establish the brand identity and how employees are expected to convey it. If you can distil that brand message down to a couple of sentences that employees can become interested in, grab onto and use in their own words, they will be able to communicate it e­ffectively.

Here are three easy-to-follow tips to ensure you achieve and maintain employee brand loyalty:

  1. Make sure your workplace conveys the same brand messages to staff as it does to customers;
  2. Involve your staff in major brand campaigns as it’s a great way of boosting morale and spreading the word;
  3. How do you know if your staff are living the brand? Basic signs to look out for: do staff recommend your company to others? Do they enjoy wearing company uniforms? Do employees look happy, and go the extra mile?

Take your employees on the journey! If they feel like a valued member of the team and see their ideas listened too or even implemented, then they will want to see the business thrive. The stronger the foundation, the bigger the success.

If you are unsure of how to harness the power of your employees or encourage them to embrace the brand values of the organisation, contact Rumour Mill Creative Communications for advice on 028 90682185 or email samantha@rumourmillcomms.com