Getting the PR and influencer relationship right

By Kerry Simpson, PR Account Director at G&G Digital

Public Relations has undergone a massive shift in the past two years with the digital landscape opening up far more opportunities for brand exposure. Everything and everyone is online, and media (in the traditional sense) are no longer the primary conveyors of information.

Bloggers and influencers have become an important publicity channel for brands to tap into to amplify brand messages and gain credibility and authenticity from third parties. However, the key to successful influencer engagement is finding the right fit for your brand. As we enter 2016, here are a few tips for getting the relationship right with influencers:

Research, research, research
When identifying influencers do your homework. Check their social media accounts to gauge their audience, reach, number of followers, engagement and interests and see what topics they’re talking about. Have they been involved with competing brands or do they engage in any controversial topics that go against your client’s brand and values? Make sure you know the answers before taking things further.

Build relationships
Developing good influencer relationships takes time. The secret is to engage with them via their social media platforms on an on-going basis. Get involved in their conversations, show interest and enthusiasm and get to know them personally. That way, should you approach them to be part of a brand campaign in the future, you’re already half way to securing their involvement.

Have an informal agreement in place
Once you’ve got their buy-in, put everything in writing – no matter how good you think your relationship is. It’s not as formal as a contract but it’s vital to outline specific details of the campaign and establish a clear understanding of what the expectations are – for both sides.

It’s also important to state clearly upfront whether there will be any remuneration or reward for their involvement. Have clear terms in place should the influencer decide to pull out at the last minute or during the campaign (these things happen).

To pay or not to pay – that is the question?
A few years ago, bloggers and online influencers were happy to receive products and services from brands and would often reciprocate with coverage. But as they’ve gained credibility and become increasingly influential, they’ve rightfully realised their worth.

This means simply sending free product and hoping for coverage can actually do more harm than good – especially if your product has absolutely nothing to do with anything the blogger is interested in. Treat bloggers and influencers as creative partners rather than just another channel. Involve them in your thinking – let them add their insights at the conceptual stage to get optimal value from the relationship.

Find some form of reward, trade-exchange or remuneration that works for both the brand and the influencer. Obviously, it goes without saying that celebrity endorsement is a different kettle of fish and if this approach is taken, it almost always involves a monetary compensation and should be budgeted for upfront.

Respect the influencer’s opinions or decisions as you would a journalist. Remember they’re an influencer for a reason and the amplification of your brand message will only have gravitas if it aligns with the voice and personality of the influencer. For example, a sarcastic post might be their way of engaging their audience and will still extend reach – if it fits with your brand.

Don’t forget about them
Once your campaign is over don’t just forget about them, you never know when you might need them again. Relationships have become more important than ever in this digital environment where there is such a lack of personal interaction.

Nurturing your influencer network is key to building long-term partnerships – pick up the phone and chat to them once your campaign is over, ask them what they did and didn’t like, take them for a coffee and continue to chat with them on their social channels. A little bit of care can go a long way.

G&G wins Best Online PR Campaign at New Generation Awards

Ending 2015 on a high note, G&G Digital scooped an Outright Gold Award for the Canderel #SugarFeelingTheCrunch campaign at the recent New Generation Social and Digital Awards.

Desree, Mike & Kathryn

Taking top honours in the Online PR category, #SugarFeelingTheCrunch was a collaboration between G&G Digital and Hammerhead TV. Subverting the concept of a traditional product launch, Canderel eschewed bland press releases and an expected event for a completely integrated online and experiential campaign to launch new Canderel Crunch – a granular sweetener that looks and tastes like sugar.

A real-life Sugar Cube caused havoc during the weeklong launch campaign in a desperate attempt to cling to relevance after the launch of Canderel Crunch. From threatening to sue Canderel for identity theft, to harassing shoppers and coffee shop patrons, the Sugar Cube’s antics were captured in a series of videos directed and produced by Brendan Jack.

The Sugar Cube took his battle for relevance to social media with a dedicated (and desperate) Twitter account (@SugarCubeMan) as well as guerrilla tactics including a LinkedIn profile and job-seeking posts on Gumtree and Careers24.

During his very public sugar highs and lows, Canderel took on the role of a brand doing crisis communications, sending out media blasts with updates and posting statements across social channels. The result? A highly memorable campaign that made the message stick – Canderel Crunch looks and tastes like sugar.

“The creative team really put their hearts into making this campaign the success it was, so it’s wonderful to receive this recognition,” says Michael Gullan, MD and co-founder of G&G Digital.

“The digital space presents so many unexplored opportunities for unconventional PR, and #SugarFeelingTheCrunch truly was a trail-blazing campaign straight out of left field. We’re very proud of the results.”

Sweet results

  • Total PR QPI to date of over 2 million
  • Campaign ROI of 32:1
  • Over 78 000 views of the video content on YouTube and Facebook to date
  • Over 18 300 organic views recorded after campaign spend stopped
  • Organic reach on Twitter of just under 290 000 unique accounts
  • Almost half a million organic impressions served on Twitter

Digital marketing trends for SA in 2016

By Desiree Gullan, Creative Director and Co-founder of G&G Digital

Even though the year’s skidding past at breakneck speed, it’s important to stay in touch with sweeping trends – they might just force you to rethink how to speak to your desired audience. Here are four key trends that will shape the approach to digital marketing in 2016.

1. Eschewing product-focused content

The ‘infomercial’ approach to branded content on social media and digital channels isn’t working for anyone. You cannot claim to be successfully mastering storytelling if your story is: “Our product is the best thing on the planet and is 10% more amazing than everything else. Everyone who bought it lived happily ever after. The end.”

Think about the way Dove went from generic soap ads to transforming their brand narrative through the ‘Real Beauty’ campaign.

To broaden your perspective on branded content, think of your brand as a person – consider what their interests would be and draw your content pillars from that. Compelling storytelling involves removing the product blinkers and looking at the broader context within which your brand exists.

Consider your scope of content as a series of concentric circles. The bigger the circle, the broader the appeal and the greater the potential objective value of the content.


2. Paid content distribution

As content marketing becomes the new normal for brands, the reality is setting in that publishing content and having it discovered online are two very different things.

Even the best content needs to be backed by spend to spark engagement and broaden reach. As a result, in 2016 brands will begin to see content distribution strategy as being just as important as content production itself.

Facebook has emerged unequivocally as the most successful paid content distribution platform for brands and publishers alike. With the right targeting strategy and the right content crafting, Facebook is the most effective way to put your content in front of the right people at the right time. And it doesn’t hurt that a quarter of all global web traffic is currently channelled through the platform.

That said, brands will also be experimenting with new opportunities for native advertising as publishers explore new mutually beneficial models.

3. Engagement analytics and ROI

As brands invest in creating higher quality content, they’ll also demand a higher standard of analytics to prove ROI. Looking beyond vanity metrics such as impressions and reach, brands will want to measure value by deeper metrics such as time spent on site (and specific articles), comments and, all-important, sharability.

In line with this, it will also be increasingly important to analyse the quality of referral traffic driven by paid content distribution platforms. All of these insights must be fed back into the content production and optimisation process in a constant feedback loop to ensure optimal ROI.

4. Influencer relationships and content co-creation

As content takes centre stage, it will become increasingly important for brands wanting to win at content marketing to partner with the professionals. This means working with video production experts when video is required, photographers for amazing imagery and professional writers and journalists for compelling articles.

(Hopefully) gone will be the days of influencer endorsement simply for a once-off fee. Audiences see straight through the one-dimensional ‘endorsements’ and influencers and brands alike lose credibility because of them. Brands will need to be thinking in terms of long-term, mutually beneficial relationships based shared values and the desire to create quality content.

The year ahead in social media in SA

Every year there is one social report that dominates all others in terms of accuracy and insight. The Social Media Landscape for 2015/2016 released by World Wide Worx and Fuseware, is a roadmap to help South African brands navigate the ever-changing social terrain.

The biggest takeaways from this year’s report? If you’re not already investing in quality, original rich media creation, you’d better start – soon. If you have your own brand content hub, you’re already ahead of the curve. Go you. And if you think LinkedIn is a stagnant platform, you are very, very wrong.

Here’s a look at the key stats:

Social Media Landscape2016

Got questions? Want to start a video campaign, like, yesterday? Want to know more about what this all means for your brand? Reach out. We could shoot the breeze about this all day.

Drop the mouse (G&G’s out)


G&G Digital will be shutting down from
15 December 2015 to 6 January 2016.

Don’t freak out – our social team will be keeping
a close eye on your brand’s pages and will be on-call
for anything urgent. For website or technical issues,
your designated client service person is always just a
phone call away.

Have yourself a rocking festive season and
enjoy a well-deserved break.

We look forward to a breakthrough 2016.

Videos, views and vanity metrics – how to really measure success

According to the latest SA Social Media Landscape report, 62% of the top 130 brands on social media locally will be increasing their investment in rich media and video content creation. With increased investment, comes increased scrutiny on exactly how to determine the success of such content.

While views are the most obvious metric, they can also be the most deceptive. As the options for paid video content increase and platforms experiment with auto-play functionality, the waters are becoming increasingly muddied for measuring success.

Spend = Reach (not resonance)
To prove a point about just how superficial video views can be as an indicator of good content, an experiment was conducted by American agency, Solve. Showing how even the most uncreative content can rack up a high number of views when backed by the right spend, they posted a completely blank four-minute video to YouTube. No sound, no witty description, literally no content.

The video was promoted with spend (where the agency would be charged for every viewer who watched beyond 30 seconds of the clip). The result? Over 100 000 views from an investment of just $1400 – meaning they paid 1.4 cents per view (what would generally be considered a very good return). A total of 22% of all viewers also watched the full four-minute clip without skipping, but the video garnered a sum total of zero likes or shares.

What does this mean? Essentially that you can put any content in front of a pretty massive audience if you have a budget – and they’ll probably watch it too. But that won’t mean that they actually liked it, enjoyed it or resonated with it in any way.

False indicators
That’s not to say that views don’t mean anything at all. After all, the most viral YouTube videos of all time did not break viewership records by being backed by millions in ad spend – they spread by organic interaction (the digital equivalent of word-of-mouth).

The point is: views alone can be a false indicator of successful content. When a video has a high number of views but a low number of likes, comments or shares it’s a clear indication of paid viewership.

Real measures of success
So how do you accurately gauge the success of your video content? True value can be gauged by these measurements:

  1. Organic views
    Even amazing content needs to initially be boosted by spend – especially on social platforms such as Facebook, where organic reach has been throttled to zero. But the real test is then whether your video content views continue to rise even when your spend has stopped. Sometimes all it takes is that initial boost to get social word-of-mouth started.
    A share is as close to a holy grail as social interactions get. If your content is being shared, the audience reach will grow exponentially. The endorsement that often comes with the act of sharing is also key to understanding how your content resonated with people.
  3. Comments and feedback
    What is the general sentiment of the feedback you’re receiving on your video content? Did it evoke any strong reactions? Are the reactions in line with or completely against what you had hoped to see?
  4. Conversions
    If you are investing in video content, it is highly recommended to use such content to drive a desired action on the part of the viewer (e.g. ‘Find out more’ or ‘Sign up’). This not only makes the success of the content more measurable, it also ensures the video goes beyond pure entertainment value and actually drives your brand objectives.

Digital is everything, but not everything is digital.

A collection of insights from the IAB Summit 2015 showcasing the leading thinking in the digital space.

The good content test

In the midst of the content marketing rush, great content is becoming increasingly elusive. We can’t all be Red Bull overnight, but while everyone tries to become a content publisher, let’s take a step back and look at what we’re doing.

Whether it’s crafting posts for social platforms, or penning a new blog post, it’s vital to examine the content we create. We have to be brutally honest about whether we’re adding to the sea of sameness or actually creating something worthwhile.

Here are the key questions to ask before hitting the ‘post’ button.

Is it worthwhile?

This is probably both the most important and most difficult question. It boils down to whether or not the piece of content adds value. Of course, value in itself can be subjective. It can range from imparting knowledge to simply making people smile. Whether that value is worthwhile, depends on your objectives.

Relevance and interest are also important here. Weigh up the content’s relevance to your audience and just how interesting it is. Remember, what’s relevant is not always interesting, and what’s interesting is not always relevant. If it’s both relevant and interesting, it’s probably worthwhile.

Is it fresh?

Are you putting out something new or just jumping aboard a trending topic? If you’re going to give a fresh take on something or present existing information in a new way that makes it more useful or helpful to your readers, then go ahead.

If you’re just taking what’s already out there and putting in on your platform, ask yourself if you’re truly doing a great job of content curation and giving your audience a reason to follow you? Or are you just highlighting the fact you don’t have anything original to say?

And if you’re going to just share a link to someone else’s great content (which there is a time and place for) make sure in sharing it you add context and insight for your audience. If you’re just sharing links and saying ‘This is awesome’ or ‘Watch this’ and think you’re rocking content marketing, think again.

Is it the right medium?

Knowing if you’re using the right medium depends entirely on understanding your audience and their content consumption habits. This concerns to both the form of the content and the platform it’s shared on.

A single piece of content might need to be repurposed across platforms to ensure accessibility. For example, a gallery of images on a blog could be used as an album on Facebook, a link on LinkedIn and a series of images on Instagram.

Is it the right tone?

Good content speaks to people. In order to do that, it needs to first and foremost be written in a way a person would actually say it. To craft a post for a platform, consider exactly who you’re speaking to.

This involves creating detailed persona profiles for your audience by platform. Craft your content specifically for the person you’re aiming to speak to. Simply talk to them as you would if you were talking to them in person.

Is it the right topic?

Social media is the water cooler on steroids. If people aren’t talking about it at the water cooler, they won’t want to talk about on a social platform.

Don’t try to force unnatural conversation topics. No one likes the person who starts talking about their stamp collection when everyone else is talking about what they want for lunch. Know your audience and know their interests.

Give some thought to your own brand’s interests too. If you stick to topics you know, you’ll retain your authenticity. And remember, if you’re interested in something, you tend to know a lot about the subject, so you’re more likely to have something valuable to say about it.

The G&G Digital story

Formerly known as Gullan&Gullan Advertising, G&G Digital has officially revealed its new branding. The new look coincides with a move to new premises and marks an exciting new chapter in the agency’s story.

Founded eleven years ago by husband and wife team Michael and Desirée Gullan, what was once a start-up based at Seattle Coffee in Hyde Park, is now one of SA’s fastest growing digital agencies.

Managing Director of G&G Digital, Michael Gullan says, “Sitting at Seattle so many years ago, we flicked through magazines, picked out the brands that resonated with us and started cold-calling them. One of the first brands to take our call was Vespa.”

Vespa SA went on to become the founding client of the agency and remains a core client to this day. “And it’s been one hell of a ride,” says Michael.

The invisible team
The agency was first established as ‘Guerrilla Marketing’ and was focused on using guerrilla tactics to get brands publicity.

“Our intention was to target small to medium sized companies and give them the ability to have an impact substantially above their marketing spend – and that value remains at the core of what we do today as G&G Digital,” explains Michael.

When the Gullans rented their first office space, it consisted of just two offices. Michael and Desirée shared the one office while the other was left empty with a view to later expand.
For nine months the two of them made a point of walking in and greeting their imaginary staff while visualising the team they one day hoped to have. Jump forward to 2015 and G&G Digital now has 25 staff members and counting.

A digital awakening
Guerrilla Marketing grew slowly and steadily. “As we pitched on big multi-national brands we found we were being pigeon holed as an activations agency,” explains Michael. This led to the business being renamed as ‘Gullan&Gullan Advertising’ to better represent it’s full-service positioning.

Gullan&Gullan Advertising then moved into a Cape Dutch style house in Highlands North, Johannesburg. While at 1 Hamlin Street, the business started to pick up more digital and social media clients. “Unilever, in particular, was ahead of the curve in investing in that space,” adds Michael. “Imperial Motors has also really ridden the curve with us as we’ve transformed as an agency.”

Michael and Desirée were increasingly enamoured with the new possibilities the digital medium presented. For Michael, it was the measurability that trumped all else. “On the other hand, Des loved the freedom it gave us to experiment creatively. It also spoke directly to her passion – crafting great content,” he says.

Massive growth spurt
With the decision made to move toward becoming a truly digital agency, the Gullans embarked on a focused business strategy and a concerted effort to find digital-only clients. Over two and a half years, they sought out highly skilled digital professionals, essentially re-staffing to create what would become G&G Digital.

Over that period, the agency increased turnover by over 300%. After the rapid growth it was time for another change. “We needed to find new premises that truly reflected who we are and where we are in our journey,” says Michael.

A new place to call home
G&G Digital has found its new home at Chaplin Corner in Illovo. The double-story office has been completely customised by interior designer, Tom Karpinsky, to create a unique and inspiring workspace.

“We were very clear on the kind of space we wanted to see G&G Digital grow in. It needed to be somewhere that could facilitate our culture of collaboration. And we wanted the look and feel to rival that of even the funkiest agencies out there,” explains Michael.

Ample meeting and breakaway rooms allow team members to get away from their desks and find environments conducive to their unique working styles – whether it’s on a hanging chair above an Astroturf or sunken into an oversized bean-bag.

The social component of the agency is also reflected in the design of the new office, with a canteen forming the heart of the space. “Having an uplifting workspace for our team is an invaluable investment,” says Mike, adding that he hopes clients will also want to ‘linger longer’.

Big dreams
According to Michael, it’s the calibre of work produced by the agency and its team members that have meant it now attracts major clients such as Premier FMCG, Nashua and Bayer Pharmaceuticals.

He says, “Last year was our first year of entering the digital awards circuit and we were already a finalist in the Bookmark Awards. That just speaks to our creative culture and commitment to doing great work. For us, it will always be about human experiences – technology is just the enabler.”

Looking ahead, the vision for G&G Digital is to become the largest independently owned digital agency in SA. “Being independent means we can keep taking chances. Scale will give us the financial wherewithal to employ the best talent and push the boundaries creatively,” explains Michael.

When asked what the key driver of the agency’s growth has been, he doesn’t hesitate to give all the credit to its people: “At the end of the day, our people are our business. It’s not me. It’s not Des. It’s not one single person. It’s all of us.”