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Brand ambassador or brand agitator?
11/07/2014 01:25 PM

It’s no surprise that 888poker reviewed its relationship with Luis Suarez after his latest, questionable behaviour at this year’s World Cup. Endless memes have graced our screens over the last month, including McDonald’s and Snickers (above) jumping on the bandwagon to make light of the situation. But with so much risk attached to a famous brand ambassador, how can brands tell if the famous face they are about to attach to their name to is going to deliver?

Over the last few years there have been many ambassadors I’m sure brands would like to forget. Tiger Woods’ personal affairs led to him being dropped by AT&T and Accenture, whilst Kate Moss’ drug allegations ended up in H&M dropping the model from its ad campaigns.

In my opinion, there are some that seem the perfect match. Angelina Jolie’s work with the UN over the last ten years has been inspiring and nothing but beneficial to the brand. Earlier this week, the UN
appointed Emma Watson as a Goodwill Ambassador for women’s equality. It’s an exciting and positive move that I think will see more young people interested in the work the UN does and, in the process, skyrocket the actress’ career and popularity.

When it comes to consumer-facing brands such as Coca-Cola or L’Oreal, it’s unlikely the celebrity has any involvement in the product development but choosing an ambassador that fits with the brand’s values is desirable. However, it’s a constant battle between what a brand pays for a celebrity endorsement and the return on investment. If your ambassador’s behaviour – good or bad – increases sales it seems money trumps saving face. 

By Stephanie Rock 
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Who needs a business mentor?
02/06/2014 09:08 AM

Everyone should have a mentor – someone who is not too close to your day to day working situation, with the experience to offer insight and counsel, who can support you with an outsider’s view.  And the higher up the corporate ladder you climb, the more you need a behind-the-scenes business sensei.  But finding the right mentor isn’t straight forward.  Where one mentor can inspire and motivate, another can treat you like a disappointing pupil.  If your mentor is sharing their words of wisdom for the love of doing it – and the occasional cup of coffee – then they obviously have an instinctive urge to teach.  But, dangerously, they might just have an instinctive urge to hear the sound of their own voice.  Opening up about your working issues and ideas is a revealing exercise and unless you trust that your mentor is genuinely motivated to help, a mentor session can feel more like a TV crime drama grilling than a supportive catch up.

My own mentors found me.  Two are ex-clients who I advised on PR, corporate positioning and communications.  Things changed and we all moved jobs but we stayed in touch.  And our informal meetings changed from chit chats into in-depth discussions about business, management, finance and life.  The focus switched from a two way catch up to a focussed assessment of my business and ‘therapy session’ into my working challenges.  I relish the opportunity to run things by them and often do make decisions with a nod to ‘what would my mentors do’. 

I’d say ‘what’s in it for them?’ if I wasn’t also a mentor myself.  I recognise the satisfaction and reward of sharing knowledge and the feel-good factor of helping someone with some of the lessons you’ve learned along the way.

So if you haven’t got a mentor, then keep your eyes open and try to cultivate one.  The perfect mentor doesn’t prescribe the solution to your business challenges, puff you up in a sycophantic way or reprimand you for getting in tricky situations.  They encourage, advise and illuminate opportunities.  They hold a mirror up and help keep the focus clear.  After a good meeting with a mentor you look in the mirror and like what you see.   

By Lucy George
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Please don’t pull me out of my shell, I’m busy
02/06/2014 09:07 AM

Shy, sensitive, serious. These are all words perceived as, generally, negative attributes. But these are also words people associate with introverts. One in three people are introverts and society makes us believe that if you’re anything other than an extrovert you’re made to think something is wrong with you.

I've recently read Quiet by Susan Cain, a book about the power of introverts in a world dominated by extroverts.  It's an insightful read and one that has taught me that the environment we live in is not suited for introverts.

Take our schooling system, for example. From a young age we are taught to work in groups. Now you could argue that this is teaching us to communicate with others and build confidence, but for those introverted children it's incredibly daunting. 

Introverts are typically very intelligent but feel more at ease working individually or in pairs, and are more productive knowing they have a particular role – taking the notes in a group discussion, or feeding back their findings to the class.  In bigger groups there are always kids who have no problem taking charge and contributing ideas but, for those overwhelmed by the pressure to contribute, many introverted kids feel their views are insufficient.

Some people believe that introversion is something we grow out of when we get older, that it’s just a phase or a confidence thing. But the reality is it’s the environment we’re in that makes a difference. Once we can chose our environment, whether that’s our work or home environment, we come into our own.

Steve Wozniak, inventor and co-founder of Apple, was incredibly shy at school and hated small talk. He wasn’t a popular kid at school but was fascinated by engineering and electronics from a very young age. He spent most days working alone, even when he worked at Hewlett Packard, and believes this approach led him to creating the Apple I and Apple II.

“Most inventors and engineers I’ve met are like me – they’re shy and they live in their heads. They’re almost like artists. In fact, the very best of them are artists. And artists work best alone – best outside of corporate environments, best where they can control an invention’s design without a lot of other people designing it for marketing or some other committee. I don’t believe anything really revolutionary has ever been invented by committee...”

Whether you agree with Wozniak’s way of working or not, it’s interesting to note that in the same way school is not adapted for introverts, neither is brainstorming. In the workplace, brainstorming is a widely used creative tool. However, psychological research shows that enforced teamwork – like we experience at school – signals a fear of rejection in people (not just introverts) and discourages potentially valuable contributions.

In fact, brainstorming is guilty of three things; social loafing where people sit back and let the others do the work, production blocking by letting only one person speak at any one time and evaluation apprehension, the fear of looking stupid. Teamwork is, of course, a necessary part of business life but employers shouldn’t underestimate the creativity harvested by those who work individually – especially as a third of employees will be introverts.

So the next time someone calls you shy or quiet, just remember – without introverts the world would be missing the theory of relativity, the Civil Rights movement and Google. 

By Stephanie Rock   
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Wordville is hiring
16/01/2014 11:07 AM

London-based PR agency, Wordville, seeks Account Manager

Imaginative, resourceful, talented PR manager wanted to join small international team that specialises in technology, travel and start-up brands.  With clients that range from beloved automotive brand Cosworth, to Dragon’s Den start-ups, to international NGOs, working for Wordville means you’re as likely to meet an astronaut as an ambassador, an entrepreneur as an engineer.  All our clients share one big goal - to become famous in the circles that count.  If you can help and have experience of delivering sensational PR campaigns then get in touch.  

Our office is relaxed but the pressure is on so enthusiasm is a must.  Exquisite written skills and journalist pitching prowess are essential – as is an insatiable appetite for bringing in new business and helping the company to grow. Wordville’s dog comes to the office so if you’re scared of or allergic to dogs this might not be the job for you.  Good salary based on experience and opportunities galore.  Full job description available on request.  Email info@wordville.net  with the reasons you’re perfect for the job.  We can’t wait to hear from you. 
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