Sip & Share: Tunheim

sip_share_logo_finalLast month my colleague Chuck Tanowitz and I had the opportunity to visit our friends at Tunheim in Minneapolis. We toured their beautiful office, enjoyed appetizers and cocktails, learned more about each agency and discussed industry trends. After our visit, Liz Tunheim Sheets and I reconnected to continue our conversation.

HB Agency: What’s life like at Tunheim?

Liz Tunheim Sheets: Tunheim is a communications consultancy. We have 20 full-time employees with at least that many of what we call ACEs – affiliated consultants and experts – and on any given day some semblance of our employees and ACEs are working in our office. When we renovated in 2013, we aimed to make our space open and modular so our talent can work however helps them be most productive. We also have a very open policy on remote working and continually remind staff that it is about getting work done and not whether they are present at their desk. That probably doesn’t work for everyone, but I think for our team it shows that leadership trusts staff to make good decisions and that not everyone gets work done the same way. I personally think it is a great thing about our culture because it really promotes getting the work done.

Tunheim is a very familial environment. It is a place where people feel empowered, trusted by their colleagues and generally like working and being together. Simple example: We built a large harvest table in our kitchen because our team likes to eat lunch together and we often do potlucks and happy hours here. After people leave, we hear that they miss the Tunheim “family.” It is why our Twitter handle is @TeamTunheim.

Kitchen

We live by and promote a talent philosophy we call “Collective Best.” Led by Kathy Tunheim and her many years of experience as a Honeywell executive, we don’t feel the need to own all our talent, but we want access to the right talent when their expertise is essential to our client needs. This is part of why we joined IPREX. We always want our clients to feel like Tunheim delivered on their needs.

HB: Can you tell me a little more about your role at the agency?

LTS: My role has shifted since I joined Tunheim in 2012. I was brought to Tunheim to lead and build out our digital and social offering. At first that meant I was solely focused on digital and social work, but client needs have shifted and we really believe clients should have an integrated communications approach so our digital and social media work is usually integrated with our other service offerings. Not always, but that is the advice we bring to our clients. Our digital team—three of us—is typically pulled in when there is any digital implication to consider. We do a lot of the work in-house because we have a strong talent bench in the space, but we often partner with other firms or freelancers when additional expertise or skills will amplify our product. Sheets2-533x800

HB: Who is Tunheim’s target client? What kind of organizations do you work with?

LTS: We work with all kinds of clients. We’ve moved away from industry focuses because our value proposition is really more impactful in what the client is facing. The world is changing faster than fast and Tunheim helps its clients rethink. Whether the client is navigating complex change, wanting to take responsibility for being understood by its stakeholders or earn the reputation it deserves, we partner with our clients to bring the insight and strategy they need to make impactful decisions for their business. We know clients make good decisions when they have the right information and so we aim to give critical and honest advice. We still do a lot of execution – content creation, media relations, social media relations, etc. – for our clients, but how projects start has shifted in the last few years.

We work with a lot of corporations and foundations/non-profits. We do also have a large public affairs team and have built a strong specialty navigating the complex intersection of public policy, stakeholders, media and decision-makers, including coalition building.

HB: Talk about your transition from a “traditional communications agency” to a strategic consulting firm. How has your business changed since the transition?

LTS: Tunheim began as a communications consultancy 25 years ago. Our work has shifted over the years based on client needs, but we’ve organically seen the work we’re doing shift back to consulting. Clients come to Tunheim for all kinds of communications help, but when we’re honest about our core capabilities, we know our team has the experience and expertise to help our clients rethink and solve business problems.

With this shift we’ve moved toward more large projects and less retainers. We’ve collapsed our hierarchy and adjusted our roles and responsibilities to create less hierarchy and more autonomy for our team.

We also no longer have managers but rather coaches, which is intended to empower employees to make decisions and increase their ability to think critically.

In 2014 we re-worked our roles and responsibilities to have only two levels for full-time staff: Consultant and senior consultant. There are a few people with additional responsibilities, like Kathy Tunheim (CEO + Principal), Pat Milan (Chief Creative Officer, sometimes called our Chief Destruction Officer) and Lindsay Treichel (Chief Transformation Officer). The level change has taken some getting used to I think but represents a change in how we approach our work. No longer do we see ourselves as an agency to execute client projects, but rather as consultants who help our client rethink and solve problems.

HB: One of your offerings is sports marketing which I don’t think many IPREX partners offer. Can you talk more about that service and what makes it unique?

LTS: We have a long, long history in this space and in a lot of different ways. We’ve worked in a lot of sports from racing to baseball to soccer to stadiums to football – you name it, someone on our team has worked on it. The type of work ranges too from business consulting to publicity to sponsorship activation, to grassroots campaigns for stadium support to what we’re doing a lot of right now which is bid management. Minnesota has a few beautiful, new stadiums, including the new U.S. Bank Stadium, which is currently still under construction. We’ve partnered with the bid committees here to bring the bids to life for the Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four and College Football Championships, mostly led by one of our ACEs who has incredible experience in the space. And we just announced that we’ve been selected by Copper Peak to help the U.S. secure international ski competitions.

HB: Can you tell us a little more about the ACE Program?

LTS: Back to the “collective best” model mentioned above, we enacted ACEs early on so we could have access to the best talent all the time – many times really specialized or experienced talent that we don’t have projects for all the time but who bring a unique point of view to the work we do for clients. We have quite a few ACEs who are highly respected, have their own consulting practices and who are proud to be part of the greater Tunheim team. We also have ACEs who bring our team skills that we need, but they get the flexibility to work on projects outside our walls, too. It is a win-win. Our roster of past ACEs is really impressive and it connects Tunheim to another sphere of talent that we can access for our clients.

HB: In honor of this series, what’s your go-to beverage in the evening as you’re wrapping up the day in the office and mingling with colleagues?

LTS: Definitely wine. We have four seasons here so my go-to choice changes based on our weather, but my current go-to are dry French rosés.

 

Sip & Share: Vehr Communications

sip_share_logo_finalIt’s not everyday that you get to talk to and share a drink with friends and leaders in the communications industry. But each year, the IPREX annual Global Leadership Conference becomes just that opportunity. At this year’s event in London, I met Darcy Little, senior account executive at Vehr Communications. When Nick Vehr, president of the Cincinnati-based agency, was elected IPREX Americas President in May, I knew it was the perfect time to reconnect with Darcy to talk about Vehr, her experience and her thoughts on where the industry is headed.

HB Agency: You worked at a few other places before landing at Vehr. What do you believe sets Vehr apart from other communications agencies? What’s life at Vehr like? 

vehr website r8DL: Before arriving at Vehr, I worked at a couple of other great agencies full of really smart folks. Cincinnati has a lot of bright minds living and working in it! What sets Vehr apart, I think, is that each of us brings our own set of experiences, backgrounds and interests to the table, which, along with our shared commitment to honest and dedicated client service, provides great value to our clients.

“We challenge each other – to make ourselves better and our clients better.”

HB Agency: Vehr was founded in 2007 by Nick Vehr. Can you tell us a little bit about the history of the agency and how it’s grown and evolved?

DL: Vehr Communications’ first office space consisted of a desk in the corner of a room at Nick’s house. It then moved to an office space in downtown Cincinnati to accommodate new team members. As the agency continued to grow, Nick moved the agency to another, bigger space in the same building. We completed an expansion a few months ago and are actually in the process of expanding again – to the entire floor.

The agency’s early days occurred during the recession. A scary time to start a business. But with low overhead, starting small and a laser-focus on hard work, the agency thrived.

Ultimately, Nick has a knack for finding good, smart talent. This has been key to our growth and success.

HB Agency: The Vehr website states, “We think about what’s coming next.” What do you think is coming next?

More ways for companies to generate content. Opportunities are becoming more and more limited for others (i.e. media) to tell their stories for them. There will be many new and creative ways for companies and organizations to tell their stories themselves.

HB Agency: Vehr does a lot of work to promote the city of Cincinnati, not to mention many of its businesses. Was this a concerted effort by the Vehr team? Would you say this sets you apart from other agencies in Cincinnati?

DL: Many agencies in Cincinnati support our city’s businesses, including its iconic brands. Vehr has a lot of roots in Cincinnati, and we want to see it thrive (and it has been!). We love working with Cincinnati-based businesses, but we service other companies around our region and organizations with a national footprint, too.

HB Agency: There have been many recent discussions on the importance of company culture. What’s your take on the relationship between producing good work and an effective company culture?

DL: An effective, healthy and (dare I say?) fun company culture is critical! People like to work with people they like. Fostering a company culture that allows employees to get to know their coworkers and have some fun puts their minds at ease. How can you do effective work with a cloud of drama hanging over your head, or if you’re absolutely bored to tears? Happiness produces good work.

We definitely have fun at Vehr. I’ve been known to hula hoop on occasion (I have two hula hoops at my desk), we have an (award-winning) Vehr softball team and we’re not immune to practical jokes. Not that I would know anything about that.

HB Agency: Can you talk to us about your most valuable communications learning moment?

DL: There have been many! It’s hard to name just one.. and I think, many times, learning and professional growth occur over time—without us even realizing it.

If I had to pick one moment, though, I’d say one of my most valuable learning experiences was at the IPREX Global Leadership Conference in February of this year. It was then that my mind truly opened to the potential of breaking down “silos” and the value of agencies and professionals to be more holistic in their offerings.

“It’s not enough to be a ‘PR pro.’ We need to learn to be creative directors and media planners (in varying degrees) to add more value to our clients and agencies.”

HB: You’re the treasurer of the Cincinnati chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. How does your regular involvement with this organization help or inform your client work at Vehr?

DL: PRSA has been invaluable to my professional growth. Like most professional organizations, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. You can’t put a price on the networking opportunities, and I’ve learned so much from our chapter’s programming events.

Specifically, by serving as treasurer, I’ve learned a lot about budgeting and the “money” behind an organization. I was never one to love math, but serving in this role has challenged me to dive deeply into financials and interpret them. This has helped give me perspective when budgeting for client work and has given me a general understanding of the “math” involved in running an organization or business.

HB Agency: In one of your recent blog posts, you shed light on a Wall Street Journal retrospective about the way newspapers covered Lincoln’s assassination 150 years ago. Clearly a lot has changed, but some elements have persisted. What’s one thing you’ve seen change since you started working in PR? In another 150 years, do you think there will be consistent elements in the way we communicate?

DL: When I began working in PR in 2007, I considered deleting my Facebook account. I wasn’t in college anymore so I wouldn’t need it, right? WRONG. Social media, of course, has changed everything: from the way companies communicate to their audiences, to the way reporters break news. Social media only became more and more relevant to public relations during my eight years working in the business. And it’s not going anywhere—perhaps it’ll take different forms, but it’s here for the long haul. Companies have a greater mandate than ever to be transparent. And the prospect of making a mistake is scarier.

Social media and smartphones have forced us to communicate fast. This won’t change in 150 years, except to say that we’ll probably be communicating faster. The need for immediacy will only get greater and greater.

 

Sip & Share: DH

Lisa Cargill, PR powerhouse and our IPREX partner, shares her proudest professional moment, what makes DH unique, and describes one especially important initiative that she’s worked on getting off the ground in Spokane, Washington (oh, and her favorite beverage of course). 

HB Agency: How long have you been at DH?

LC: This is my thirteenth year! No two days have been the same here. That’s one of the things I love most about my job.

HB: What types of clients do you typically work with?

LC: We have clients in just about every sector, as we are a generalist firm. I especially enjoy working with healthcare clients, public health in particular; so many of my projects are in that space.

HB: Describe DH in 5 words or less.

LC: Talented team ready to help

HB: What makes DH unique?

LC: DH is such an awesome place to work. We’re a team of zealots. The key word in Webster’s definition of the word zealot is “fanatical” – we love what we do and we love our clients. Their goals become ours and we won’t stop until we achieve success. We never compromise and the entrepreneurial mindset our company was founded on 20 years ago is alive and well today.

One of the things that’s funny about our culture is over the years we’ve developed our own language for communicating internally. When we hire someone I always feel for them because it’s like learning a foreign language. Three of my personal favorites:

  • “I’ve got hot snakes” – urgent issues lurking in your email
  • “I’m digging out” – back in the office and buried in to-dos
  • “It’s gonna be a rip snorter” – really crazy day/week/month ahead

In fact, a lot of funny stuff can be overheard at DH. Check it out on Twitter @overheardatDH.

HB: What has been your proudest PR moment at DH?

LC: Earning my Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) is a highlight for sure. It pushed me to grow as a PR practitioner and helped me demonstrate my knowledge, skills and abilities in a formal way. It was an opportunity to prove to myself (and others) what I was capable of in the PR world. I became so passionate about the process that I now chair the local APR program and guide other APR hopefuls through the process.

HB: We’ve heard about your work with Give Real Change. What was the genesis of this campaign and what was (or still is) its impact on the community?

LC: Like so many urban cores across the country, downtown Spokane, WA experiences chronic panhandling. The Give Real Change campaign was born from the Downtown Spokane Partnership (DSP) and City of Spokane’s belief that in the most basic sense, panhandling is a supply and demand issue. Past experience and research here showed nearly all chronic panhandlers have housing and food despite what their signs claim, and they use spare change to fuel alcohol and drug addictions.

In short, we set out to encourage people to stop giving money to panhandlers and instead donate to local organizations making a measurable difference in the community. This would not only wane the supply and thus the demand, but would ensure two important outcomes: panhandlers needing support to overcome addiction or other chronic issues would be forced to seek it at local service providers like House of Charity and others (who are no where near capacity) and the dollars from compassionate community members would be put to good use to make a real difference in the lives of vulnerable people – meeting the givers’ real intent.

HB: What did you and the DH team do to get this campaign off the ground?

LC: These are just some of the tactics used in the campaign strategy:

  • Partnered with Catholic Charities who connected us with former panhandlers who acted as spokespeople and talked about the realities of where the money goes, how much they made on the streets, and the deception that runs rampant
  • Tools for employers to educate employees who work in the downtown core because they’re often the biggest givers
  • Posters at local businesses, eateries and shopping venues to raise general awareness
  • Bill stuffers in City utility bills to reach a broader audience who live near downtown and frequent it for restaurants, shopping and entertainment
  • A CrowdSwell webpage and app to make giving to charities fast and easy

As expected, the campaign was met with some criticism from people who felt the DSP and City were not being compassionate toward people in need and/or were telling people where to donate their hard-earned money. Criticism is never easy, but it’s why I believe your heart has to be in the work you do. We knew the realities and what the research shows so we had no reason to waiver and if anything, it pushed us to spread the word even more.

Our client was very happy with the campaign, but as we all know, behavior change takes time.  Now that the assets are developed, ongoing pushes will be initiated as funding allows. This effort continues to be just one of the ways the DSP and City are improving beautiful downtown Spokane.

HB: Finally, what’s your drink of choice and why?

LC: No frills. No gimmicks. Just plain, iced, black tea. It meets my three criteria: tasty, less sugar than soda, and enough caffeine to help me function. Mmm.

Lisa at DH (1)

DH is a public relations, advertising and branding agency in Spokane, Washington. They build multi-disciplinary programs that communicate complex ideas in simple, compelling ways. At the heart of everything they do is a strategy built on a company’s market, opportunities and where it can move the needle. Their team is grounded in multi-disciplinary work and campaigns. Please visit www.wearedh.com to learn more or connect with DH on Facebook and Twitter.

Measuring PR Performance Against Budget – An IPREX Conversation

sip_share_logo_finalYears ago a public company CEO told me: “I hate PR. I  know we need it, but I never know if it’s worth the money. I don’t know if it’s doing well. I don’t know how much I should pay. Yet I know we have to have it.” I was shocked because I had a deep conviction about the short- and long-term value of good PR. Yet over the years I have met many other business leaders who felt the same way. Sales are easy to measure. PR, not so much.

 

That has shifted with social media and easily-destroyed reputations, and an increasing number of executive teams see PR as a necessary part of building and maintaining a strong reputation while making deposits into the “bank of goodwill,” as one IPREX partner notes below. Yet they still have trouble measuring PR’s value.

 

At the IPREX annual meeting in Berlin, I asked a few of our colleagues from various regions and countries how they measure PR performance against budgets. It turns out, unsurprisingly, that performance metrics vary dramatically according to company, marketing manager and campaign. In a business where the only certainty is what you give — the effort and creativity devoted to building awareness or shifting audience perception — there’s a wide range of ways to look at what you get in return.

 

Michael Fineman, President, Fineman PR, San Francisco
First, it’s critical to benchmark campaign goals at the very beginning and obsessively measure and report on the agency’s progress specific to these goals.

 

Second, there is the intangible element. We all know when our client is doing well. When that’s the case, a campaign or program can fall short of its goals and there can still be a sense of success. This can be enough to keep a relationship healthy and moving forward, and obviously adjusting for better results. Conversely, if a client’s business is struggling or failing, it might make no difference if the agency meets or exceeds program goals — the relationship is at risk.

 

Kathy Tunheim, Principal & CEO, Tunheim, Minneapolis
It’s all about taking responsibility for being understood. That is what we help our clients to do, and we know we need to hold ourselves to the same metrics.  So value is achieved – and measuredas a combination of our level of effort and the difference we made in our clients’ business.  If we spend lots of effort but don’t impact their results, that is low performance.  The goal, of course, is high impact with optimal effort:  Score!! 

 

Casper Jenster, EMEA Director, IPREX, The Netherlands
We often will look at the level of effort and help our client understand what this should have cost with other firms or, based on results, if they bought advertising for that kind of space. They often don’t realize the value of what they get. Also, it’s important to note that level of effort is clear and easy to quantify, but results are not always predictable in our business. Sometimes they can be disappointed, even though there was great effort put into a program.

 

Nick Vehr, President, Vehr Communications, Cincinnati
We measure against expectations and report regularly for most clients. Our goal is to initiate a conversation with each client engagement/project focused on the client objective. When it is increased sales or market share growth, we look at how we influenced leads understanding that we cannot close sales — the client’s sales team must do this. Some of the metrics we use include:
  • Ouputs: the work we do/things we produce (content, plans, posts, white papers, etc.).
  • Outtakes: attitude change in target audiences as a result of outputs generated. This often requires original research for which not all clients are willing to pay.
  • Outcomes: desired target audience action (inquiries, leads, sales, etc., which typically become the client’s responsibility).
John Scheibel, CEO and Mary Scheibel, Founder and Principal, Trefoil Group, Milwaukee, WI
John: “You need to work with the client to find metrics that tie as closely to the client’s income statement as possible. And if you wait until the end of an initiative or campaign to do this, it’s too late.”

 

Mary: It’s important to counsel companies who are transitioning from sales-centric to marketing-centric cultures. When they are just beginning to invest in marketing and public relations, they often invest just enough money to be dissatisfied.”

Helga Tomtschick, Managing Partner, Lang & Tomaschtik Communications, Austria
One of the key metrics is the CEO’s personal satisfaction. The client CEO needs to feel like PR is an insurance policy. Whether there is a crisis or difficulty, whether there is good news or bad, the PR agency is there to help. If the client CEO understands that his marketing team and agency feel responsible  for his or her well-being, then the relationship will be strong.

 

John Williams, CEO, Mason Williams Communications, London
We have an agency mantra – Did It Make Any Difference? (DIMAD). We use this as a measure against all activity. We work really closely with all our clients to understand what results THEY want and, in our case, it is usually sales or influence of one kind or another. All communicators need to understand that a nice big piece of media coverage is great, but if it doesn’t make any difference to the parameters against which the activity is judged by their client the only benefit is to the ego.

 

Andrei Mylroie, Partner, DH, Spokane, WA
One of the things we’ve seen over the past five years is marketing and communications being viewed as a core business strategy for many of our clients. This is a big shift from the past, where it was viewed by many organizations as a more tactical service or department. Along with this shift we’re measuring differently as well. So it’s not just reach, frequency, ad equivalency, etc., but we’re tracking reputation, consumer sentiment and business outcomes in far more holistic ways.

 

Alyn Edwards, Partner, Peak Communications, Vancouver, Canada
Unfortunately scope-creep is part of our industry, and in media relations we are always trying to do more for the same budget. We often have to measure by number of impressions, and while it’s not the only measure, it’s a pretty strong one. For some clients, such as in real estate, the sales effect can be quickly measured.

More importantly, clients need to understand that PR is making deposits in the bank of goodwill. When you make those deposits in the bank of goodwill, which is commonly called your reputation, this will:

  • help sales
  • help recruitment
  • help with instant recall
  • and help dramatically in times of crisis.

We have had clients with significant food recalls, but their decades of deposits in the bank of goodwill have helped them through it. What is the ROI for having a good reputation? It’s unending.

 

Sip & Share: Liquid Ideas

sip_share_logo_finalSurprisingly, catching up with an old friend and speaking with a fellow marketing professional have more things in common than you may think. Themes like storytelling, laughter and creativity are frequent elements but the quintessential through line in these chats is the beverage.

“Let’s grab coffee” or “Want to catch up over a beer?” are open invitations for discussion. No matter the time of day, the location or occasion, friends, colleagues or business partners alike can find a reason to meet up for a chat and a beverage. It’s safe to say that HB embraces this social tradition: from a hand-crafted pour over coffee in the morning to a cold IPA or a glass of red wine in the afternoon, we’re not picky.

The HB team values the global IPREX network and the amazing wealth of knowledge and industry expertise it offers. We’d like to shine the spotlight on some of our fellow IPREX partners and we think there’s no better place to start than with our friends down in Australia at Liquid Ideas!

Liquid Ideas was established in 2000 as a wine-centric PR agency, and quickly established itself as Australia’s leading specialist PR agency for the wine industry. Today, Liquid Ideas is a unique creative communications agency working for all sorts of brands, with offices in Sydney and Melbourne

Jemma LeeLast week we caught up with Jemma Lee, an account director at Liquid Ideas. She just celebrated her fourth anniversary at the agency so she had a ton of great insight to share. Some fast facts: Jemma loves what she does, has done lots of interesting work with her clients (like launched a brewery) and enjoyed her time in Boston at the Global Leaders Conference two years ago where we met.

HB Agency: What’s life like at Liquid Ideas?

Jemma Lee: Life at Liquid Ideas is pretty sweet. We are a team of about 25 and we seem to work well at that size. There’s enough people to talk to but we can still operate as a small, nimble business. We’re located in Alexandria, Sydney which is a stone’s throw from the airport.

Our “normal” week involves an all-agency “work-in-progress” meeting on Tuesday mornings and every other week we take a current affairs quiz. The quiz can be about anything from the media to politics to booze and every topic in between. There’s usually about 35 questions and it keeps us on our toes and pushes us to keep learning.

Sometimes the questions seem irrelevant but Stu (Stuart Gregor, our founder and creative director) is a big believer that knowledge is never irrelevant.

We generally work on client teams of about 3 or 4 people but it’s always with different people so we’re able to collaborate and learn from our colleagues.

In terms of culture – we trialled pet day and that didn’t work. We have EPIC cakes for everyone’s birthday – not the gross kind from the supermarket. We pop bubbles at every opportunity and have done 101 classes on just about everything (last month’s was cheese, next month is Greek wine.) Seriously, nothing is irrelevant.

HB: Liquid Ideas was founded in 2000 by Stuart Gregor as a wine-focused agency. Can you tell us a little more about the agency’s history and how it evolved to work with other consumer and lifestyle brands?

JL: Stu saw a gap in the marketing industry and filled it. He’s probably the best person to speak to the original shift, but I guess it is all really about the lifestyle. You don’t drink wine at home alone – you drink it with friends, at restaurants, with food, at bars, watching sport – so our expertise in wine translated to food and easily into social occasions.

In 2012 we had a big year, which shifted the dial quite a bit for us. We won Singapore Airlines and Kellogg’s – an airline and an FMCG giant. This was a big culture shift and really made other brands stand up and notice our little old wine PR business, Liquid Ideas. Since then, we’ve been working with many different brands, we’re now lucky enough to work with the entire roster of Unilever deodorants: Lynx, Rexona and Dove men!

HB: What types of companies are you currently working with?

JL: We’re lucky to have a great mix of clients at the moment. From Unilever brands like Dove Men, Continental and others, to wine brands like Arras, Hardys and Taylors and other beverage brands such as Carlton Draught, Kopparberg and Four Pillars gin; to travel and retails brands like Singapore Airlines and Aussie Farmers Direct.

HB: The consumer market is heavily saturated, how does your team make your clients stand out?

It is. We take each brief on its merits and think about its audience and their passion points. We have done a lot of brand partnerships really successfully – they allow you to tap into an audience with a credible association.

They’re all different but in the end we always think about the three things you need: interesting content, a purpose and authenticity. It’s the magic trio.

HB: Liquid Ideas’ A-Z services page is impressive! Can you tell me a little more about a few of them? Perhaps Trade Relations and Seeding?

JL: Sure thing! We do a lot of trade relations but it’s most common for our beverage clients. We are a big believer that our job is to influence the influencers and it’s important to note that influencers aren’t always the media or bloggers. The trade are a really important influencer for a brand or company. So we host events for the trade, we do a lot of trade media relations, we present initiatives to our clients which incentivise the trade to get on board with a campaign.

Seeding our products—getting them into the hands of the right people—is something we do a lot of. We partner with other brands and agencies who align with our brands and target the same audiences and give them our product to give to their guests. It is a really cost effective way to increase the visibility of your product.

HB: Because your team specializes in consumer brands, specifically alcohol, do you feel like you have more events to manage?

JL: In general, we do a lot of events! Not just for our beverage clients either but for all clients. In fact, just last month we did an event for Lynx, we launched their new range for 25 style media and bloggers.

We do tend to have a lot of events for our beverage clients because the overall idea is to recreate the environment in which you want it consumed. It is the best way to communicate your brand message!

HB: Because of age restrictions around alcohol, how do you help your clients market to different age groups? Do you ever run into issues managing situations?

JL: We have to be really careful about marketing to younger audiences in everything we do. Whether it be Facebook, Instagram, our language, which events we seed at… we have to make sure our audience demographic is a majority over 25y/o so we uphold responsible marketing practices.

In terms of issues management, we’re constantly focused on how to properly market to minors and we’re hyper-aware of alcohol sponsorships in sport. I’m sure it’s similar in the States, but the Australian government, consumer groups and us too are very conscious of the effect alcohol advertising can have on minors during sporting events and we’re careful to not draw a line between alcohol and sport in the youth’s perspective. It is a big public issue, and one that needs to be managed responsibly in the way we execute our campaigns.

Liquid Ideas Team xmas 2014

 For more information about Liquid Ideas please visit www.liquidideas.com or check them out on Twitter at @LiquidIdeas.