Padua Communications https://www.paduacommunications.com/ PR, Marketing, Content, Events in Hampshire and Surrey Mon, 28 Nov 2022 13:34:27 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.1.1 https://www.paduacommunications.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/cropped-PADUA-RGB-SITE-ICON-600PX-150x150.png Padua Communications https://www.paduacommunications.com/ 32 32 175876912 We’re hiring! Interested in joining the Padua Communications team? https://www.paduacommunications.com/hiring-apprentice/ Mon, 28 Nov 2022 13:03:01 +0000 https://www.paduacommunications.com/?p=32949 It’s exciting times at Padua Communications as we are expanding and looking to take on a digital marketing apprentice at our office in Fordingbridge. We are using Intequal as our…

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It’s exciting times at Padua Communications as we are expanding and looking to take on a digital marketing apprentice at our office in Fordingbridge. We are using Intequal as our training provider and you can find out more about the role on its website.

Nicky Rudd, Managing Director at Padua Communications, says: “We’ve thought long and hard about this role but feel it’s the right time. Since the pandemic, it’s harder for younger people to get into the workplace, so we want to give someone who is passionate about marketing and comms a chance. If you’re interested in joining a small agency with some big clients and a family-orientated culture, we want to hear from you.

Personal Qualities

We know this is a role for someone starting their career so you might not have a lot of previous experience but if you have a passion for or any combination of these skills, we’d be keen to hear from you.

Skills Required

  • Solid interest in PR, social media and marketing disciplines
  • Good listener, creative, proactive thinker
  • Positive mindset
  • Can drive with a UK driving licence
  • Excellent administrative skills
  • Attention to detail and exceptional grammar skills
  • Solution focused
  • Well organised
  • Deadline driven
  • Good time management
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Quick learner with a passion for learning

Reporting directly to the MD, this role is supported by both business owners – we will be offering guidance and support and be on hand to work with you.

Nicky adds: “We are looking for a self-starter who can soak up new ideas and techniques like a sponge. You will have a fantastic enthusiasm for today’s technologies and tools, and be interested in keeping up to date with modern technology, love all things comms-related – digitally, in print, on TV, and beyond.

“We are looking for a creative thinker, who is pro-active with exceptional organisation, diplomacy and time management skills. Most importantly, you will share and respect our values (which are caring, creative, resourceful, trusted, proactive, ethical, positive, and curious) and we are particularly looking for someone who is passionate about sustainability too. You are good with people, be that in person, on the phone, on Zoom or by email.

If you’re not sure if this is for you and want to know more about us, take a look around the website, check out LinkedIn or join our next Link & Learn, our monthly session where we take a topic and doing a bit of networking and learning!

Sound interesting or do you know someone who might fit the bill? If so, please share this link: https://intequal.justapply.co.uk/apprenticeships/4202031/digital_marketing_apprentice_.html

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Padua Communications chosen by Wiltshire Council as experts for free ‘Cost of Doing Business’ webinars   https://www.paduacommunications.com/wiltshire-council-webinars/ Mon, 28 Nov 2022 12:31:52 +0000 https://www.paduacommunications.com/?p=32946 Wiltshire Council is supporting businesses in the county with a series of free online webinars to offer help, support and advice to guide businesses through the current economic challenges. The…

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Wiltshire Council is supporting businesses in the county with a series of free online webinars to offer help, support and advice to guide businesses through the current economic challenges. The first talk in this series is Marketing in Tough Times by Padua Communications, which can now be viewed on demand.

The webinars, which are perfect for both business owners and entrepreneurs, showcase the range of support available across several themes that may be affecting their business during these challenging times. Other videos cover key topics such as cashflow, funding, workplace health and wellbeing, upskilling your team, generating sales leads, and recruitment.
 
Nicky Rudd, MD of Padua Communications, said: “We are thrilled that the FSB and Wiltshire Council reached out to us. Padua Communications was set up in 2009 in the last recession, so we have our own experience to build on as well as all the experience from working with customers across a wide range of industries.

“Sharing our advice with some free tips is something that we, as a business, try and do every month as part of our ESG aims in our Link & Learn sessions too. If you want some help with marketing, PR or comms more generally, please reach out or come and join us in one of our sessions. There is also a wealth of free, accessible material on our resources page.”
 
The Take TEN webinars are hosted by The Enterprise Network (TEN), which was set up by Wiltshire council in 2012 to provide flexible, subsidised, start up and incubation space for small business and entrepreneurs in their formative years. TEN also works with a range of partners to deliver and facilitate funded and paid for programmes to support emerging and established businesses. TEN has partnered with The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) to create this online webinar series.
 
To find out more about the Take TEN series and to watch videos, go to www.theenterprisenetwork.co.uk/support/cost-of-doing-business/
 

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Should you increase your marketing budget in tough times? https://www.paduacommunications.com/increase-marketing-budget-in-tough-times/ Tue, 25 Oct 2022 10:06:58 +0000 https://www.paduacommunications.com/?p=32857 It is a well-worn adage in the marketing world: as soon as times get tough, the marketing budget is the first thing to be cut. This was certainly the case…

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It is a well-worn adage in the marketing world: as soon as times get tough, the marketing budget is the first thing to be cut.

This was certainly the case during the pandemic, when many companies – both with in-house marketing teams and using external agencies – turned the tap off pretty quickly. But here is the thing. In tough times, you need to increase sales even more than during the good times. If you are not spending money on marketing, how will your customers know to buy from you?

In fact, we’d argue that you should at the very least maintain your marketing spend and, in some instances, dial it up to support your business when the economy is not on your side. Because marketing drives long-term results, now is the time to take a close look at your marketing budget for 2023 and how you can get the most value from it.

Keeping an eye on the competition

When other brands cut back, there is more room in the market for your message. A great example of this in the world of big brands is Proctor & Gamble. In 2020, when brands were pulling the plug on marketing, Proctor & Gamble increased its spend. This, alongside the huge gaps in the market created by brands like Coke – which cut back – gave P&G even more power for their dollar than before.

“There’s big upside here,” said Jon Moeller, then the brand’s joint COO/ CFO. “In terms of reminding consumers of the benefits that they’ve experienced with our brands and how they’ve served their and their families’ needs, which is why it’s not time to go off-air.”

If your competitors are pulling back their marketing to save money, there’s a huge opportunity for you to grow into the space, make connections with existing and new customers and take some of that market share.

Think strategically

You should always have a clear marketing strategy that makes the most of your budget. In difficult commercial environments, that’s more important than ever.

Do an in-depth analysis of your current marketing efforts. What’s working and what’s not? Where could you get more value by increasing your spend, and what could you stop paying for that isn’t delivering results? Is there something new you could try without breaking the bank?

Don’t forget that you’ll need strategies that cover retaining existing customers as well as attracting new ones – in tough times, your existing customers should be an easier marketing win because they already have a relationship with you.

Collect data

The more you know, the better you can plan. Build relevant data collection and analysis into your 2023 marketing plan.

This helps you to make tiny continual shifts that improve your marketing’s impact and gives you the basis to show return on investment to the rest of your organisation.

Measure growth

Research by McGraw Hill in the 1980s studied 600 B2B companies and found that those that increased spending on their brand and advertising grew 275% more than those that didn’t. This is your opportunity to demonstrate the growth in demand and sales that marketing can deliver.

It’s also an opportunity to show your organisation the long-term power of marketing and brand building. Often, a sale that occurs today is down to marketing that’s been happening for six months or more. If you step down your marketing at the start of 2023, it could have a negative impact on sales later in the year – a sure stopper for growth.

To round up – here are our top recommendations:

  • Analyse your current marketing budget to see what’s working
  • Keep a close eye on your competitors to see if they are dropping out of your space
  • Put data collection in place to help inform spend and demonstrate results
  • Have clear targets for ROI and growth to demonstrate long-term value
  • Negotiate a budget increase

To find out more about how we can help you make the most of your marketing budget in 2023 – and keep your brand visible in the right places, call us today on 020 3282 7570 or email hello@paduacommunications.com

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A flexible approach to communication for hybrid working https://www.paduacommunications.com/communications-hybrid-working/ Mon, 05 Sep 2022 16:15:43 +0000 https://www.paduacommunications.com/?p=32807 There has been a sea-change in the way we have communicated over the past two years. There have been millions of words written about how we now plan our workplaces…

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There has been a sea-change in the way we have communicated over the past two years. There have been millions of words written about how we now plan our workplaces and how we maintain the best relationships within our teams.

But there hasn’t been that much on ensuring that you build the ability to ‘flex’ into your communications plan. And yet we think that is a critical element. The pandemic might be waning, but it is not over, and at any time a new variant may force us to rethink the way we work yet again.

And it’s not just the pandemic. People are actively looking for a better work-life balance, so the demand for hybrid or remote working has grown significantly, to a point where candidates expect all companies to offer some form of non-office working options.

Add to that the changes that might be coming our way because of climate change, and you can see that there is no such thing as a status quo as far as our working lives are concerned.

How does this impact comms?

Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve been actively working with our clients to make sure they have clear internal comms that reflect their working environments, team dynamics and business strategies.

As part of that work, we’re making sure companies are planning for future change, so that their comms strategy is flexible and supports their HR processes and the wellbeing of their teams.

What does this mean in practice?

Blended communications

Companies should be communicating in lots of different ways: email, video call, face-to-face meetings, team meetings, newsletters, updates. In our experience, this is best done by collaboration between the marketing and HR departments – it delivers a much more holistic view of the organisation and helps to make sure that nothing’s missed.

Some communications need to be one-way – introducing a new policy or process, for example. Others, like feedback sessions or regular personal reviews, are best face-to-face if poss. By putting blended communications in place, organisations can adapt easily to changes in working practices.

Active listening

Part of a good communications strategy is listening. This is particularly important when people are working remotely.

While it’s good to have working flexibility, people still need to feel connected to their teams and their line managers, so regular catch ups where leaders listen to their people, ask questions and take opinions on board will help to build trust.

Increased connection for remote workers

If you need to change the way you work, and that means more people working remotely more often, you need to flex your communications to be in touch more often. Organisations now have video calls set up as a matter of course, and these are a great way to check in with remote workers.

One of our clients hosts a virtual coffee session with their team twice a week – everyone brings a brew and catches up on work and life. Use opportunities like this to help build and maintain relationships that work both remotely and in the office.  

Make this your new normal

The pandemic was certainly an eye-opener for communications professionals and for organisations in general. At the time, companies effectively put crisis communications in place.

But the change in working practices has been so systematic that blended, flexible communication should be the new normal. Now is the time to revisit what you may have set up in a hurry! And review it with what would ideally work longer-term for your organisation.

Collaborating with Padua Communications

If you’d like some help and support in managing your internal communications so that you’re supporting your teams no matter where they are, just book a meeting with us today.

We can tell you more about our Changes and Absolute Beginners programmes and how we can foster brilliant internal comms, working where your marketing and HR meet. We can help define visions and values and make sure that your greatest asset – your people – are on board during good times and challenge. We can work if you’re a newer business (the Absolute Beginners package is for you) or work with more established organisations with our Changes package.

We’ve designed the programmes to have a standalone element and to integrate with your existing systems to help organisations no matter where they are on their growth journey.

Need more info? Give us a ring on 020 3282 7570 or email hello@paduacommuications.com

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New PR strategy, focus on marketing and the target customer helps Lucy’s Farm navigate change https://www.paduacommunications.com/lucys-farm-case-study/ Fri, 24 Jun 2022 14:36:52 +0000 https://www.paduacommunications.com/?p=32747 “When you bring in a fresh pair of eyes, you realise all the different approaches that you might not have thought about before.” So says Lucy Tidbury, owner of art…

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Lucy Tidbury

“When you bring in a fresh pair of eyes, you realise all the different approaches that you might not have thought about before.”

So says Lucy Tidbury, owner of art and giftware shop, Lucy’s Farm. With an established physical shop and customer base, Lucy has been selling her unique brand of animal-based art for eight years. With a sales process that relied heavily on attending shows, when Covid-19 hit, Lucy was forced to adapt and embrace online selling.

Padua Communications was bought onboard to help increase brand awareness, and set about helping to refine the marketing strategy to focus the business’ attention on the key actions that would deliver the best possible outcome in the shortest space of time.

Getting to know the brand

This was the perfect challenge for our Paparazzo service, which is designed for business owners that need help with PR strategy or to brainstorm ideas. We started with a bespoke session, spending time with Lucy to understand her business better, what needed to be achieved and thinking about where the brand would best be featured.

What followed was a mixture of defining the marketing and PR strategy and implementing it, building on what had gone before to help Lucy refine her message and tailor it for different audiences.

Securing PR

Following the session, we drew up a list of target media brands, publications and websites that would align with Lucy’s vision for the business. We then devised a way to gain coverage in as many of them as possible.

Using key calendar dates and piggybacking off the development of new products, we drafted several press releases about Lucy’s Farm, reaching out to the key media we identified in the lifestyle, wholesale gift and Dorset local area sectors to secure coverage for the brand.

After this, we established a reviews programme for the company and identified bloggers that could test and review the products. We also increased the awareness of Lucy herself, securing a double page spread about Lucy in the local Dorset Business Life magazine. There then followed many different feature and competition opportunities that we secured, collaborating with Lucy and her team on logistics and sharing content on social media.

Excellent results

“Padua Communications hugely helped me with the strategy side of my business and focusing my marketing. It helped me think about who my target market is and who I need to aim at. It made me think about what my plans were for the next 12 months, where I was going to focus, how I need to plan my time and my marketing throughout the year, not just on a day-to-day basis like I was doing before,” says Lucy.

“I would highly recommend Padua Communications,” she adds. “It has really opened my eyes to different opportunities. When it is your own business, you can get too involved and start taking on everything. I am not very good at delegating things. I want to keep control of everything. For anyone who is working on their own business or by themselves, having someone like Padua Communications working with you takes the pressure off a bit.

“Working with Padua Communications is just like working with friends. Nicky knows my business so well. She really supports my business and understands what I am trying to do and what I am trying to achieve, which really helps me. I just feel like I could talk about anything really, and they’ll help me as much as they can.

“The rewards that I’ve seen come back to my business, not just through sales, but through brand awareness, has definitely made it worthwhile.”

If you need help with marketing or PR strategy, want to secure some extra coverage for your business or would like to inject some fresh ideas, give Padua Communications a call on 020 3282 7570 or email us on hello@paduacommunications.com.

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Padua Communications’ MD interviewed on Evolve to Succeed podcast https://www.paduacommunications.com/padua-communications-evolve-podcast/ Tue, 09 Nov 2021 16:17:50 +0000 https://www.paduacommunications.com/?p=32292 Earlier this year, Nicky Rudd, Managing Director and Founder of Padua Communications joined Warren Munson, founder of the weekly Evolve to Succeed Podcast. The podcast invites entrepreneurs and business leaders…

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Earlier this year, Nicky Rudd, Managing Director and Founder of Padua Communications joined Warren Munson, founder of the weekly Evolve to Succeed Podcast. The podcast invites entrepreneurs and business leaders in a variety of sectors to explore the link between personal and business success.

Warren was curious about the challenges Nicky faced setting up Padua Communications during a recession, and how she works as a team with her husband and business partner Jason Jenkins and how they manage to separate work and home life.

Nicky’s path into PR and communications started when she was a teacher, looking for her next career move. After a serendipitous conversation with a previous student, she was recommended to speak to his dad who was a high-flyer in the advertising world – this time, the conversation was not at a parents’ evening! He arranged for Nicky to meet the head of PR and shape her CV, which helped her get her foot in the door at a PR agency.

The podcast covers several things including the advantages of volunteering, considerations for anyone looking at their PR and comms strategy and which is better – using in-house marketing or outsourcing to an agency.

Nicky said: “It was a real delight meeting Warren face to face for the podcast and being able to share my journey. I feel very blessed running my own business but I have learnt from some great people along the way. And it is a thrill to work alongside the brilliant team that we have in place.”

For business owners, marketing, PR and comms is a challenging subject, and Nicky shared some of her top tips to consider.

  1. Think about your audience; who are you trying to sell to? Spend some time profiling and thinking about what their pain points are.
  2. Don’t think that marketing must be expensive and new all the time. Your business will evolve and change and there will be fundamentals with core values and offerings. Spend your budget on marketing those, they’ll last longer. You can revamp ‘evergreen marketing assets’, so they offer better value for money.
  3. You don’t need to do both marketing and PR. They offer different solutions and work nicely together but they are different. Market your business all the time. Use PR when you have a great story to tell.

You can listen to the podcast in full above, or at this link.

If you want to talk to us about how we can help your business and help you craft your story and decide what will get you better returns on your spend, give us a call on 0203 282 7570, or email hello@paduacommunications.com

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Padua Communications in the news https://www.paduacommunications.com/padua-communications-in-the-news/ Tue, 09 Nov 2021 11:02:21 +0000 https://www.paduacommunications.com/?p=32290 We care about your business as much as you do. That’s why at the heart of Padua Communications we want to give back and support the small business community where…

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We care about your business as much as you do. That’s why at the heart of Padua Communications we want to give back and support the small business community where we can.

As we left the last national lockdown amid fears of a recession, the Federation of Small Business (known as ‘FSB’) asked Nicky Rudd, Managing Director and Founder of Padua Communications, to feature as part of their ‘First Voice’ series. The series featured interviews with experts sharing their business knowledge.

Padua Communications was founded during a recession, and this opportunity allowed Nicky to chat about how she manages her time, business and recommendations for those starting in business.

Nicky’s advice to anyone just starting or considering starting a business is: “Do it but spend some time on building your brand…Spend time thinking about what you want your business to be over the next 3-5 years. Try and picture where you want your business to be. Don’t be put off by competitors or try and be like everybody else. Find your own voice, story and customer set.”

You can watch the full interview below:


We also joined local businesses in the Hampshire area on #Hampshireday2021, an FSB Hampshire, Dorset and Isle of Wight campaign, celebrating local businesses in the Hampshire area, with over 20 businesses from a variety of sectors, sharing what they love about Hampshire.

Interviewed on Evolve to Succeed podcast

  • Earlier this year, Nicky Rudd, Managing Director and Founder of Padua Communications joined Warren Munson, founder of the weekly Evolve to Succeed Podcast. The podcast invites entrepreneurs and business leaders in a variety of sectors to explore the link between personal and business success. Warren was curious about the challenges Nicky faced setting up Padua Communications.

Nicky’s answer was “I simply love Hampshire because it has the best of all worlds – from the sea, countryside, cities and people. There’s a great network of businesses, a huge talent pool of experience and opportunities for young people – and lots of collaboration with a perfect work vibe, which helps with the work/life balance. It’s a lovely place to live and work and I feel very blessed!”


FREE advice to SMEs

Padua Communications is focused on helping SMEs and hosts a monthly ‘Link & Learn’ event offering free marketing, PR, Communication and PR advice. Each month covers a chosen topic with specialist speakers – Mailchimp for October, Google Ads for November and Planning for 2022 in December.

You can enrol for one, or all, of our Link & Learn events, which offer the opportunity to network with other business owners and ask any marketing questions you may have.

You can also watch our past Link & Learn sessions on YouTube – and if there’s a particular subject you’d like to hear about, please let us know.

If you want to find out how we can help your business, give us a call on 0203 282 7570, or email hello@paduacommunications.com

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Marketing a virtual conference and getting it right https://www.paduacommunications.com/marketing-virtual-conference/ Tue, 06 Jul 2021 10:23:03 +0000 https://www.paduacommunications.com/?p=32122 Conferences have always been a part of the business landscape – an opportunity to showcase, chat to leaders in your field and network with new contacts. It is not unusual…

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Conferences have always been a part of the business landscape – an opportunity to showcase, chat to leaders in your field and network with new contacts.

It is not unusual for businesses to invest hundreds of thousands of pounds running conferences, sometimes even millions, all over the world – creating stands, experiences and marketing materials that provide a slick brand presence. But in 2020, the conference rule book went out of the window and left plenty of businesses with a hole to fill.

Virtual conferences quickly appeared on the scene – but how good are they? And if you’re running one, how can you make sure that you create the same impact as an in-person conference?

Face-to-face and online events are two different things,” says Jan Carlyle, Director of Autumn Live, an events management specialist. “People expect to simply pick up the physical event and carry that experience over into the online world. But we shouldn’t be trying to replicate physical events. We need to be treating online events as unique and adjusting how we approach them.”

So, if you can’t replicate the same experience how do you go about marketing for a virtual conference? A lot of preparation and a lot of new learning will go a long way to making your virtual conference a success.  

Perfecting your digital stand

If you are a sponsor of a conference, or you have signed up to a virtual expo, then you will still have a stand presence, albeit a digital one. In the past, your stand was your opportunity to create an eye-catching and impressive wow-factor. It is not quite so in the digital arena.

Stand space in the digital conference is a tight squeeze, with one-dimensional graphics, sometimes very small graphics that need to somehow say it all. It requires a re-think of how you would normally approach your stand.

Instead of focussing on the big brand detail, this is an opportunity to refine your messaging so that people are intrigued enough to visit your virtual stand. Think about your key value proposition for the people you are hoping to attract and keep it short and snappy. Sometimes, several elements of the stand can be clickable, so ensure you use these to either share more information or collect data.

You will need to invest in good design so that it is clear and visible to people – blurry, pixelated images won’t cut it, nor will badly cropped or squashed images.

Think about your key value proposition for the people you are hoping to attract and keep it short and snappy.

The good news is that there are still opportunities for you to connect one-to-one or in group scenarios when people are visiting your virtual stand. Make sure you have downloadable resources available for them when they visit and links to relevant content (videos, white papers, websites and so on) so that their experience is rich.

Finally, scheduling who is going to man your stand becomes a little easier once you get your head around how it works. Nobody needs to sign up for a whole day anymore, so your staff can be allocated time slots where they can log in and out and then hand over to other people with ease. This can be great for working around your staff’s needs and working patterns, meaning everyone gets included.

No more exhibition feet and you can forget the pedometer. Now, the health issue is ‘fingers on fire’ as your hands feel the burn! Although there are ways of doing calls and video throughout the event, a lot of people are happier typing conversations to really get to know what you have to offer. Doing prep work with links and ready-made answers to frequently asked questions that can be pasted in helps.

Re-think your goodie bags

The demise of in-person conferences doesn’t have to mean doing away with your goodie bags. It simply means having to plan things a little further in advance than you normally would and re-thinking your approach.

Unless you are the event organiser, you won’t have access to the entire delegate list, or even any of the delegate list if people have opted out of sharing their details.

This doesn’t mean that all is lost. On some virtual event platforms like hopin, delegates are also asked at the point of visiting your stand whether or not they want to share their details with you. This gives you a chance to connect with your visitors after they have visited.

Consider how you can give them something digital to show your appreciation for their visit. Meet Cambridge has some great ideas for alternatives to the traditional goodie bag that are sustainable and thoughtful.

Without the data you are used to, you have the opportunity to be much more targeted in your approach. Instead of giving anyone who walks past your stand a goodie bag, you will be gifting to people who showed a genuine interest in what you are offering, which will save you a lot of time and, potentially, money.

Digitise your programme and assets

Buzzabo found that 80% of event marketers said that they were able to reach a much wider audience with virtual events.

This is great news, but once people are in, how do you capitalise on that? The same survey also found that 67% of marketers said it was much harder to keep their attendees engaged at virtual events.

By putting time and effort into a virtual programme, you will generate more interest and engagement.

“Refine the purpose of your programme,” advises Jan. “Not only do you need to refine your own content but you need to understand the attention levels of your audience. People are probably attending the conference while also still at work. They will be checking emails and possibly tuning out for large periods of time. Consider all of this when you are creating your programme.”

Unlike an in-person conference, people won’t be taking whole days out to absorb your content or what you have to offer. Think about how you might create videos that people can access at any point during the day, or host short, frequent opportunities to have one-to-ones or product demos.

The wonderful thing about all of this hard work is that with a virtual conference you can collect more useful data. Data about how many downloads you had of documents, views of your videos, length of time people engaged and so much more. This gives you invaluable insight moving forward. Future conferences you attend or sponsor can be influenced by your most popular content. Not only that, but you are not limited by room size anymore. So if one part of your programme is more popular than others then no one’s disappointed.

The global virtual events market is set to grow almost ten times in the next decade from $78 billion to $774 billion. If you need help navigating this new world, we can help you with your next virtual conference project. Give Nicky a ring on 020 3282 7570 or email us at hello@paduacommunications.com

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Understanding Google’s core web vitals and the page experience https://www.paduacommunications.com/google-core-web-vitals-page-experience/ Tue, 29 Jun 2021 14:11:16 +0000 https://www.paduacommunications.com/?p=32131 The algorithm that Google uses to determine webpages appear in search results is a secret. A whole industry exists that monitors Google’s search results to try to figure out if…

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The algorithm that Google uses to determine webpages appear in search results is a secret. A whole industry exists that monitors Google’s search results to try to figure out if any changes have been made to the algorithm, and if so, what they are.

But occasionally, Google does tell us about specific changes, especially when it wants people that maintain websites to make some changes. That is happening right now with something called core web vitals and the page experience.

Learn about these in the video below, or read the transcript underneath. This talk was given at one of our free, regular Link and Learn events. To get your ticket to our next free event, take a look at our events page to see when the next ones are coming up.

Video transcript

Introduction

I’m Jason. I help run Padua Communications with Nicky.

I used to be a journalist. I did various journalist-y things but probably the most relevant for today is I ran a website called CNET for eight years in the UK. It’s the world’s biggest technology website. And we’ve ended up doing quite a lot of work helping clients with websites, we’ve built some, we help maintain some. And obviously SEO is quite a big part of that. We’ve had to keep abreast of all the latest developments so that we can advise our clients on the best place to spend their time and money. I thought I’d talk about the latest stuff today.

What is the page experience?

Google is always tweaking its algorithm for the way in which it decides which pages appear where in its search results. Several times a month it makes changes and mostly doesn’t say very much about them publicly. Unless the traffic to your site is affected some way (maybe it might go through the roof, or collapse, or maybe you’re a professional SEO person), you probably won’t notice. You don’t really need to.

But sometimes Google makes some changes that it wants people to know about, so that they can make the changes that are needed to their site. And that’s one of the changes I want to talk about today which is all about what Google calls, “the page experience”.

This is essentially how fast a page appears to load from the user’s perspective, and how quickly they can start interacting with that page. It’s been pushed back because of COVID, but the changes to the algorithm are coming in mid-June and will roll through towards the end of August. That’s the plan. They’ll do it in phases to see if there are any unintended consequences from their side. 

The importance of site speed

For many people, Google is the gatekeeper to the internet. If you are on the first page of Google for your goods or services, it means big business normally. If Google is going to reward you for doing certain things, then you’re probably going to do them. For some time, Google has looked at various things such as whether a site is mobile friendly:

  • Does it have any malware or nasty things on there?
  • Is the page delivered over a secure connection?
  • Are there any annoying interstitials?

Interstitials are ads that you used to see: remember when you used to click a link and, instead of going to what you wanted, you got a full page, and you had to watch it before going any further? You don’t see many of those ads anymore. They are still around, but, there are less of them. Most websites now have a half decent mobile version. Most use secure connections.

It is worth saying why page speed is important. There are lots of studies that show that the faster a webpage loads, the more time users spend on it, and the more likely they are to contact you or buy something from you. So for example, the BBC found that it lost 10% of its users for every additional second their site took to load. The retailer Furniture Village managed to reduce the time it took for its site to load by about 20% and it saw a 10% increase in conversion rates on mobiles.

What are LCP, FID and CLS?

So a fast page is a good thing, but what makes a fast page? There are lots of ways you can measure it, but Google has made it easier for you to focus your attention on certain things. By coming up with a set of measurements it calls core web vitals. As with many internet things, this sounds complicated, but it isn’t really. Let’s try some alphabet soup first: there’s LCP, FID and CLS. There we go. That’s explained everything, I think! (Maybe not.)

Now we will try the word salad version. Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay and Cumulative Layout Shift. My job’s done!

If you still scratching your head, which I was when I first came across this, I’ll explain each one of those in turn. Largest Contentful Paint: this is basically how long does it take for the biggest bit of content to appear. That could be text. It could be an image or a video. It’s not how long it takes the entire page to load. It’s just how long does the most important bits of it take to load. Google considers under two and a half seconds to be good, somewhere between two and and a half seconds to four seconds to be needing improvement. Over that is poor. That’s LCP.

FID or First Input Delay. That’s basically how long does it take for the site to react to the first interaction. Does the site do anything when you tap it? If the page looks like it’s loaded but nothing is happening, then that is a frustrating experience. Good here is considered to be under 100 milliseconds (which is essentially immediately), and over 300 milliseconds is poor. That can be quite a tough one to reach.

The last one is probably the most important for users – Cumulative Layout Shift. That basically means: does the page move around while it’s loading? Perhaps the example below has happen to you. When you look at something on your mobile, and you go to click it, and at the last second before your finger gets there, it moves. This is an example of what Google is trying to stop happening.

This is a pretend website, where you’re maybe thinking about buying something you’ve got 14 items, ready to confirm. You’re about to press “No, go back” and an ad or similar loads at the last second, just above where the button is, pushing everything down. In this case it means you click “Yes, place my order” instead of “No, go back.”

As you probably gathered, most of these metrics are focused on mobile devices, where a slow-loading image, or a site that doesn’t do anything when you tap it, or moves around when you tap, is particularly frustrating. If you remember the chart from earlier, Google has taken all the things it has looked at for years and it has added Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay and Cumulative Layout Shift. It takes all of these signals and it feeds into its  overall score for the page experience. There are thought to be about 200 signals that Google uses to determine every single search result. So you probably shouldn’t get too caught up with these things at the expense of, say, great content, but nevertheless, it’s still important to bear in mind.

How to measure site speed

That’s the theory, but how do you know how well a website is doing? There is a tool called the page speed insights tool. You can put any URL at all into the field at the top, press analyse and it will give you a report and a score.

The score for the Guardian on mobile is 39 – not particularly great. If you’re a popular website, you’ll get a load of stuff where it says field data. This is taken by Google looking at Chrome users when they viewed the pages. So actually, although this score isn’t great, there’s quite a lot of green here. So it’s probably not as bad as it looks. And then all the way down here it’s giving you the indications for the different fields we’ve talked about. And then you get a great big list of all the stuff you could do to make your site faster in varying degrees of complication. I thought it worth looking at a couple of others just to show that even the big brands don’t get this right all the time.

This is BBC. They’re only at 60. So there’s still some work that they could do. They seem to have a particular problem with Cumulative Layout Shift. So basically something’s loading in right the last second that changes the way the page is displayed. Even the mighty Amazon is only getting 76. So, there’s still some stuff they can do there.

There is also the Google Search Console, which if you’re not familiar with it, it’s probably the one thing that you should spend some time with, because it’s free. It’s actually a really good tool and it contains loads of information about how Google sees your website. If there are any errors in there or suggestions for coding improvements, they’ll show up. You’ll be able to see how much traffic you’re getting in a simple way so you don’t have to dig through pages and pages of Google analytics.

There’s a new little bit here that says Core Web Vitals. You get a graph like this and it shows you how many URLs need improvement in Google’s opinion. How many are bad? How many are good? Then there is another one called Page Experience. That’s rolls all this stuff together to give you a score.

You look at the core web vitals here, how many URLs you’ve got that failed that in some way and how easy it considers your site to be to use on a mobile. Whether there’s any security problems, which would be the most important thing you’d have to fix if that was a problem. Is it secured? Is it delivered over a secure connection? That’s what HTTPS means.

Making a start fixing site speed

The most practical thing to do is just look for something that you might be able to do yourself pretty easily. The thing that normally falls into that is images. A normal website will have some images that are just too big, or they’re not compressed enough or they’re using an old inefficient file format. Just sorting those out on some key pages like your home page and your main services would be a few hours well spent.

There are different ways you can compress an image. This might be a bit hard to see in any great detail over ,Zoom but this is basically a slide that looks at the same picture delivered in three slightly different ways. One is the original JPEG of the dog and that comes to 824 kilobytes. The one in the middle is using lossy compressions. That means you’re saving it and you’re removing some of the information. So on my screen, this may not come through. The background is a bit blocky and some of the edges of the dog are a little bit jagged. But depending on what size it is and what you’re trying to do with it, that might be fine. You are certainly saving a lot of space. So 76k is a lot less than 824k, so it will load a lot faster.

You can go all the way up to 80% compression, which is even smaller. But again, the picture really starts to break up now. The background has lots and lots of blocky bits on it. It is starting to look less like a dog with hair and more a vague impression of something. But, you know, if it was used very small, that might be absolutely fine.

There’s also another file format. JPEG has been around forever and ever and ever. A newer one is called WebP, which most browsers now support. This slide shows the same picture. On the left is a JPEG version of the picture, which is over three meg, which is enormous for a website really. And on the right is the same picture delivered in the WebP format. It looks exactly the same. The quality is identical, but the file size is more than half. So that’s a huge, huge deal. So images, depending on how comfortable with this sort of thing you are can be something you can do yourself, or at least kind of make a start with.

The other thing you’ll see a lot of will be things called render blocking resources. So this is normally a load of JavaScript code that is being loaded to make the page do something. So maybe it’s  a contact form or Google analytics. What you can do is you can change whereabouts those scripts are loaded. They may still be loaded, but maybe further down the sort of list of things to load.  That can improve your site speed quite significantly. But when you start moving stuff around like that, this, it gets quite complicated and you can accidentally break stuff that isn’t immediately obvious. So I think probably when you get into that, it’s probably easier to just get a professional to do it for you. But if you feel adventurous, then go for it!

Key takeaways

The key takeaway is that all of this is good stuff to do anyway. Even if Google hadn’t brought out this system to mark your homework, webpages should be fast to load. They should be free of nasty malware. You should be able to type a credit card number and an address in there and not have someone steal it. Web pages should do something when you tap them. They shouldn’t move all over the place. So it’s really an excuse to implement best practises for your website.

If you’ve, if you’ve been thinking, “maybe I need to look at my website”, use this as an excuse to make these sorts of changes. Hopefully that all made sense. I was trying to give you a bit of a whistle-stop tour through lots and lots of different things as quickly as possible.

If you have any questions, give us a call on 020 3282 7570 or send the Padua Communications team an email at hello@paduacommunications.com – we are here to help.

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How to write a LinkedIn article for your profile https://www.paduacommunications.com/write-linkedin-article/ Fri, 25 Jun 2021 11:48:53 +0000 https://www.paduacommunications.com/?p=32077 For a lot of people pre-pandemic, LinkedIn was another business platform to dip your toe into. Face-to-face networking still provided plenty of opportunity to connect with people; LinkedIn was a…

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Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

For a lot of people pre-pandemic, LinkedIn was another business platform to dip your toe into. Face-to-face networking still provided plenty of opportunity to connect with people; LinkedIn was a nice-to-have. Fast forward one year and LinkedIn is now a must-have for businesses and leaders everywhere in order to be seen. During the pandemic, LinkedIn has seen a 31% increase in its engagement – record levels for the platform.

If you have never challenged yourself to publish anything of your own on LinkedIn it can be a bit daunting. Will people want to hear what you have to say? What will you even write about? It can feel far more intrusive and personal than face-to-face communication, even a bit intimidating.

We see this a lot at Padua Communications – but the good news is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to start publishing content on LinkedIn. You just need to start.

What will you write about?

You only need to scroll through LinkedIn at the moment to see that people are writing about everything from their personal lives to their business problems.

But it is worth spending some time thinking about how you want your content to align with your business goals and your brand. Posting content for the sake of content can weaken your brand messages – it’s more important to focus on a few key areas that are important and stick to them.

These could be your ethics, your company goals or your customer service manifesto. You’ll find that so many sub-topics come from just a few overarching themes.

How To Write Linkedin Post

All of these areas provide you with valuable talking points to create some content. If you need a bit of a kick-start with how to structure your article, then LinkedIn gives you some valuable starter formats which you can apply to any industry or book one of Padua Communications’ Duo sessions and it will kickstart your activity.

What should you include?

You will need a good title. There are some handy tips here on which title formats work best which should help you. You don’t have to be clever – sometimes just stating the obvious about what your article is about is enough. People don’t have much time to read content, so getting to the point works in your favour.

Images are also important – we are all visual creatures. There are plenty of websites out there where you can get great images to accompany your articles. You can download images from Pixabay with no copyright credit needed. 

It’s also worth considering sub-titles and bullet points to break down your content. Easily digestible formats are invaluable when trying to engage your reader. Big blocks of text get in the way of your content and can be off-putting.

Think about a call to action at the end of your article. It doesn’t always have to be a sales-based call to action. You might want people to contact you for a quote or advice, but you might also want to ask them what they think or for their opinion. Linking your call to action to further information can also be a good way of continuing your reader’s journey with you, so take some time to consider where you would like your reader to go once they have finished reading. These call to action examples will give you some food for thought.

Consider your language

This chart below from OkDork makes it clear why it is in your interests to make your article as easy to read as possible. If content is easy to read, you will get a better response. That doesn’t mean dumbing down. It means having a clear structure, a key message or aim and a good tone of voice.

Easy To Read Graph

Trying to write the same way you might speak to someone is an effective way to make your language more accessible for people. Eliminate jargon, long words and sentences that can make your content confusing to read.

If you want to run it by someone for readability before you publish then you can send a draft of your article for feedback before you publish it. Often, it is a good idea to get someone outside of your industry to read it.

You don’t have to be an expert copywriter to get started creating your own LinkedIn articles, but if you do find yourself in need of a little nudge, then we can help you to write and publish on LinkedIn. Email hello@paduacommunications.com, or have a chat with us on 020 3282 7570 to find out how we can help.

And remember, if you fancy writing but are stuck for ideas, book a Duo session with us. It is a one off 2-hour session, costs £250 ex VAT and it may be just what you need to get your creativity sparking.

How to publish an article on linkedIn

Once you are happy with your content, here are some helpful pointers to walk you through the process of publishing an article on LinkedIn on your personal profile page.

Start the process

When you log into LinkedIn, you will see your feed with posts from all the people and companies that you are following. At the top of your feed, it will ask you to start a post, and just underneath the white box for your post one of the options says, “Write article.” If you click on that button, it will take you through to your article screen where you can get started.

Find a good image

You will need at least one good image to accompany your article and act as its cover or hero image. It can be one of your own images, which gives the reader an authentic feel, or you can head to an image library like Pixabay and download one.

LinkedIn says that the best size for your cover image is 744 x 400 pixels, so make sure your image is the same size (or very similar) before you start uploading it. Once you have got it the right size, it is time to upload it to your article.

Click on the picture of the mountains and sun in the centre of the header and it will take you through to the folders on your computer where you can upload it. Once you have clicked ‘upload’, it will appear as your cover photo. Now you can add a credit or a caption below it by clicking in the small box and typing.

Pop your headline in

Fortunately this step is easy. You can either type your headline in directly or you can copy and paste it from a word or google document. Once you have done that, click out of the box and into the body text box below.

Insert your body text

We find the best way is to copy and paste the whole article into the body text box before you start formatting. It is a lot less time consuming that way.

Once you have it all in, you can start to play around with the format of the article to make it more interesting for your readers.

You will notice that when you click on a section of your text, anywhere, you get a little grey box appear to the left hand side. If you click on it, it will give you options to insert an image, video, slide, link or a snippet. These can be great tools if you want something to stand out in your body text.

If you click on them, it will tell you how to insert them into the body text (images you can upload directly from your computer, but for links, videos or slides you will need the URL link). For a snippet, you simply click on it and then cut and paste the text from the body text that you want to go in there.

There are a few other things you can do to format your article too. At the top of your article, a bar that moves with you up and down called ‘Publishing menu’. To the right of that are some more formatting options. You can highlight text and choose to have it as a header or normal body text. You can make content bold, italic or underlined and play around with the orientation of the text and bullet lists too.

The speech mark button is useful as it allows you to pull out relevant text – it could be an important quote or statistic for the reader. If you highlight the text you want to pull out and then click the speech mark, it will format into a pull-out quote.

Finally, the small chain button will allow you to link your content to a URL that is relevant for the reader – this can be useful if you want to point them towards some more content or send them to your website perhaps. Simply highlight the text you want to link, then hit the chain button where a box pops up and you can insert your link. You can leave the top line of the box empty if your text is already there, otherwise whatever you type in will be inserted into your body text.

Once you have had a play around and you are happy with the layout, don’t forget that you can share a draft of your article with someone if you want them to check it before you publish it. The publishing menu has a “Share draft” option.

Otherwise, when you are ready to go, hit publish on the top right hand side of your screen and you’ve done it!

Don’t forget, that you can share it on a company page too. If you are a LinkedIn page admin, then when the article appears in your timeline feed you can click share from the options below the post, and then select where you share it to from the small drop down menu that appears at the top.

If you’re still not sure about this, give us a call on 020 3282 7570 or send the Padua Communications team an email at hello@paduacommunications.com – we are here to help.

The post How to write a LinkedIn article for your profile appeared first on Padua Communications.

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