Archives for category: Conferences

The main key highlight for me during SAScon 2013 (search, analytics and social media conference) in Manchester was the frequency that the PR and SEO crossover was mentioned during the sessions.

This is not a new discussion, but it’s certainly even more relevant than ever now that Google has just rolled out Penguin 2:0.

Just to quickly re-cap, Google has made a number of changes to its algorithm over the past few years, which has penalised websites with bad content and bought links, for example. Google is trying to create a natural and organic algorithm where good quality websites and content rise to the top of searches.

It’s no surprise that SEO, PR, social media and digital marketing are seeing much more of an overlap in methods and tactics. After all, we are all trying to achieve online visibility and awareness for our clients, and ultimately see sales and conversions due to our hard work.

It was clear during this two-day conference that SEO as an industry is evolving. Many agencies and consultants said they has changed their business proposition from SEO to digital marketing or content strategists, for example.

Two of the key points that I heard being discussed over and over again were: relationships and influence. To create outstanding content with high authority links means using the ol’ PR skills of building relationships and identifying influencers.

These skills may not come naturally to those traditional SEO consultants who are used to communicating by email and not having to build relationships with online editors and bloggers.

However, these are some of the key parts of a PR executives’ job. We are used to planning out content strategies, product launches and mail outs in great detail  and spending time creating the right package to get a journalist’s attention. We are used to picking up the phone to find out who we need to speak to and how we can best work alongside them.

I think that one of the biggest challenges to SEO agencies will be that clients may find it difficult to understand how long it actually takes to create high quality content marketing and blogger outreach programmes and gain fewer, but higher quality inbound links.

Overall, it’s clear that SEO work, content marketing and PR disciplines are overlapping even more than ever. It makes sense to really make the most of any marketing budget and ensure there is a completely integrated campaign, with every person or agency communicating with the other properly for us all to achieve the most out of what we do best.

Read my SAScon 2013 round up part one.

You can follow Carolyn Hughes on Google+ and Twitter.

2013-06-06 13.24.06

This year’s SAScon (search, analytics and social media conference) in Manchester was a booming success – despite the fact I couldn’t stay for the legendary drinking session in the evening.

The majority of attendees were SEO consultants, with lots of digital and content marketing types and a smattering of PRs, meaning there was a healthy mix of discussion throughout the two day event.

Here’s part one of my highlights round up:

Keynote: Google Analytics – Clancy Childs (pictured above)

Clancy Childs, product manager for Google Analytics, explained how the analytics tool is being developed so that brands can track the customer online journey better. With most consumers now using multiple devices to search the internet and purchase goods, it is difficult to build up a picture of their behaviour by tracking page views.

A consumer might start searching products on their mobile device, before picking up the search and making a purchase on their laptop later on. Currently, there is no way to link these two searches to the same person but Universal Analytics will enable a business to give each customer a tracking number and then stitch this into its analytics. Clever stuff indeed.

Another highlight was Clancy revealing his email address to the whole room when logged into his GA account. I might just email him photos of cats every single day forever. Hi Clancy!

2013-06-07 13.42.47

Keynote: Let’s Get Phygital – Jeff Coghlan from Matmi

A keynote speech by Jeff Coghlan of Matmi was yet another highlight. I’ve seen Jeff speak about his work at a couple of TEDx conferences so I knew he was a fascinating speaker.

Entitled Let’s Get Phyigital, the talk refers to the combination of the physical world and digital, which opens up a whole new possibility for engagement on the high street and various business locations.

The Matmi team created a new game for Alton Towers to promote its latest  ride – The Smiler – which fulfilled two objectives. Firstly, it’s a great way of promoting the rollercoaster and demonstrating why it’s so amazing. And secondly, it encourages people to play it in the queue for the ride, with extra levels you can only unlock by photographing parts of the ride in front of you.

Jeff went onto demonstrate ‘phygital’ in the real world with some virtual dancing monkeys, controlled by his movements, using a games console.

The implications for the high street are huge if forward-thinking retailers can utilise digital technology linked to their physical locations. If consumers can use their smartphones to play games from a shop window, try on virtual clothes with augmented reality or purchase products when the shop is closed, it’s most likely they will spend more money with that brand. The possibilities are endless – we just need to see if high street retailers will be forward thinking enough to embrace the technology.

2013-06-06 11.33.54

Making it personal – Barry Adams, Pierce Communications

This session was a real head-scratcher, as it really made me think. I already know Google does personalised search, but not the extent of its ramifications. Personalised search means that that Google knows I live in Manchester and what I regularly search for, but it also knows my viewpoints from past searches, and will go so far as to give my searches a political bias.

Of course, on a day-to-day basis, this is all fairly useful stuff. If I search a restaurant then it’s really quite nice of Google to know that I live in Manchester, UK and not Manchester, New Hampshire.

But if you stop to think about this ‘filter bubble’ – then it’s a little scary. Barry Adams of Pierce Communications and editor of State of Search, had a fantastic rant about the evil forces of Google (sorry, I don’t mean that Google, please don’t penalise my blog) essentially putting blinkers on everyone.

If we only get search results that reflect our own beliefs and experience then how will we ever be challenged? And having our thoughts and beliefs challenged is how we learn and develop as individuals.

It’s one thing if you know it’s happening and deliberately search different viewpoints and newspapers for a rounded view (yep, that’s why I read the Daily Mail online as well as the Guardian, honest). However, the majority of people don’t know that websites or Facebook, for example, do this – so how can they step outside the ‘filter bubble’?

I must also throw in this great quote from Betrand Russell, which Barry quoted: “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.”

I do recommend you read Barry’s slides for this presentation:

Part two round up coming atcha in a day or two…

You can follow Carolyn Hughes on Google+ and Twitter.

TEDx Liverpool

The theme for this year’s TEDx in Liverpool was The Future of Mobile. Although the focus was from the technology and design point of view, my personal interest is from the marketing and PR standpoint.

Taking place at FACT, this was a really well organised and thoroughly interesting event. For those who are not familiar with the name, TED stands for technology, entertainment and design. These conferences in California have become so popular that they lend the name to independently organised events, which are denoted by the ‘x’.

More than 300 people were gathered together because those devices that each and every one of us possesses have untold potential. Mobile technology has developed so quickly. Internet enabled phones have been around for a while, but it was Apple’s revolutionary iPhone touchscreen, launched just four years ago, that was the game-changer.

Smartphone sales have already overtaken that of PCs and there are many countries where large percentages of smartphone owners have never used the internet on a desktop.

Talks were kept short, which kept the whole afternoon fresh and interesting as ideas and new concepts were thrown around. Talks ranged from the futuristic vision that our mobile phones will talk to chips in our bodies monitoring our health, through to Mill’s concept of ‘succailure’. This was his account of which iPhone apps have failed in popularity, and those that were massively popular but still didn’t make any money, which was really interesting.

But what I wanted to think about was how do these changes in communication and internet use affect the PR and digital marketing industry. Many people in the industry are still discussing the most effective ways to do digital PR, develop content marketing strategies and utilise search, as well as the best way to measure the effectiveness of these. Of course, it doesn’t mean these things just disappear overnight – they’re all still valid. So essentially it means that people are consuming information differently when using a mobile device.

In some ways, this could be a positive for the marketing industry because there are increasingly diverse ways to target consumers. Along with desktop web use, there is now mobile and tablet use, which gives us three channels to communicate our messages.

But then again, are we going to be given three times to budget to roll out our communications to these different platforms? Unlikely, so we’ll have to figure out good ways to tailor the marketing to each platform.

One of the points raised at the conference was that Google has a smaller role in internet use for the mobile user. They are much more likely to use social networks to search and learn about new content because the screens are too small to use Google exactly as you would on a laptop or desktop.

Overall, it was useful to find out just how fast mobile is growing and how the market is developing so fast. It’s something we all need to integrate into marketing strategies and understand the needs of the mobile user.

As a freelancer it’s always difficult to shell out a few hundred pounds to attend a conference. So when I found two conferences in November that were affordable I put my name down and paid up quick smart.

TEDx Liverpool is on November 7 and although now sold out, were £15 each. The title of this day conference is A Mobile Future which will explore the rapid innovations in mobile communications.

Obviously as a freelance PR and marketing consultant, this is of interest to me and hopefully it won’t be too techy for me to follow!

Next up on November 24 is the SAScon mini-conference at The Hive  in Manchester. I went to the first SAScon two years ago and it was really well organised and interesting. Tickets were £10 + 90p fee, which is a bargain, but sadly this event is also now sold out.

I’m sure both events will be live tweeted and blogged by many attendees, so if you missed out on buying tickets you’ll be able to follow online.

Carolyn Hughes is a freelance PR and copywriting consultant based in Manchester. 

Recently I went to SAScon, which is a new search marketing and analytics conference in Manchester at Bridgewater Hall. There’s so many search marketing, digital and social media companies in Manchester it’s important to show the world we don’t need to go to London for events like this. It was incredibly successful, apart from the Bridgewater Hall hadn’t anticipated the influx of geeks and their broadband crashed pretty quickly!

There were some great speakers, some even flying in from Europe, and the key note speaker was Bruce Daisley, from You Tube. Considering the video streaming company is only five years old, they have grown in size and influence beyond belief.

He said video is now one third of all traffic, but by 2013 it’s predicted to be 90%. In terms of marketing, video is already massive and is only going to get stronger. However, with more and more content being added, it’s going to be crucial to have quality and be able to stand out from the crowd.

Interestingly, Bruce also said that people are sharing video clips to convey emotion. They might send a friend a funny clip to cheer them up or to say Happy Birthday. I think this was a great insight in terms of PR and marketing.

There was a really useful session on using social media in the corporate world. Some of the more important things to come out of the discussion were:
- Make sure it’s relevant, don’t have a Facebook page for the sake of it.
- Make sure it’s written into the overall marketing strategy to ensure consistency in messages and branding.
- Top manager should understand the social media tools and why they’re being used.
- Look at economies for future. For example, one tweet could make one happy customer but is this economic?
- Some of the panel said they could envisage call centre style ‘Twitter centres’.

You can find full reports on the blog posts I wrote for the SAScon blog.


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