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Social media is not just for Christmas…

Social media is not just for Christmas…

As Christmas approaches and the annual list of shiny new toys sets fear into the hearts of parents around the country, I’m reminded of the communications industry’s own shiny and slightly scary new toy: social media.

At Perceptive we guide and advise clients on social media strategy on a daily basis and at times it can be like dealing with an excitable child opening presents on Christmas Day. It’s easy to be overwhelmed and overstimulated by the wealth of exciting new channels on the horizon.  LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat: the list is endless. So where to begin as a business? With the opportunity to connect directly to your customers and suppliers in seconds, cutting through the challenges to the responsiveness of traditional marketing channels, the temptation to tear off the wrapping paper and rush into this exciting new realm can prove too much for some businesses.

Yet when we work with clients on social media, our first message is to go back to the basics of your core business. Like Santa, have a plan – make your list and stick to it or there could be tears before bedtime. Ensure you have a strategy to support any digital activity you engage in just as you would any other business activity. It is vital to understand social media is not a quick fix solution and must be closely aligned with your marketing plan, objectives and audience.  Is your goal to improve your reputation? Increase sales? To be seen as an authority on your industry? Then choose the channels that best fit and plan accordingly.

We also advise many businesses to establish a social media protocol and share this with all employees.  This ensures everyone knows what is expected of them in the online world and what is acceptable in their role as an employee of the company. And of course what’s not. We’ve all heard horror stories of employees gone rogue online and a robust, coherent social media protocol can prove a reputation saver.  Another advantage to establishing a protocol is it can educate and encourage shyer employees to engage online, becoming ambassadors for your business, providing a win/win situation for both employers and staff.

A common mistake is failing to measure the impact of any activity.  It’s easy to get carried away in the thrill of the excitement of this new present under the tree, but if you want to make the most of social media, you need to establish your metrics from the start of any project and evaluate ROI – just as you would any other marketing activity. Is your priority awareness?  Then look at reach, exposure and amplification. Engagement?  Review retweets, comments, replies. Website traffic?   Monitor URLs, clicks and conversions. Sales? Consider paid for social media channels.

Another advantage to social media is it can hold a mirror up to your business and industry, giving your company that competitive edge. It’s never been easier to monitor what’s being said about you and your organisation using tools like Hootsuite, which is both free and easy to use, or Sproutsocial.  Monitoring tools can also be a good way to keep a handle on what your competitors are up to in the marketplace and to keep up to speed on the latest industry trends.

When we work with clients we find many businesses are tempted to pass responsibility for social media management to the elves of the social media world, the so-called ‘digital natives’. Yes, they may be enthused by the online realm and constantly attached to the latest device. Yet, the key word here is management. Social media management can make or break your business and should be handled by experts in the field. If you lack this resource in house, hire it in. You won’t regret it.

It’s clear social media, when aligned with a successful marketing strategy, offers plenty of opportunities for business success. But like a successful Christmas morning, it’s all in the planning and as long as Santa and his elves stick to these simple tips, we should all be able to enjoy continue to enjoy our shiny new toy to great effect.


Julie McLauchlan is Managing Director at Perceptive Communicators. This article first appeared in a print edition of The Scotsman

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 22 December 2017

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 22 December 2017

And so the green benches of the Commons and the polished wooden desks of Holyrood fall silent for the festive holidays.  This week’s final First Minister’s Questions saw the traditional greetings exchanged between the party leaders, albeit with a few teeth gritted behind the smiles.

2017 has been a terse year for Scottish politics and, as Brexit rumbles on, 2018 looks likely to hold more of the same until some sense of direction is established.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has unveiled his frontbench team at Holyrood. The gender-balanced team includes a new role for left-wing MSP Neil Findlay as Brexit spokesman. Leadership rival Anas Sarwar retains his position as health spokesman, while Iain Gray and Jackie Baillie also stay. There is no role for former leader Kezia Dugdale or her deputy Alex Rowley, who has been readmitted to the group following an investigation.

The Scottish government has been looking ahead and has set out a range of potential changes to how MSPs and councillors are elected. A public consultation has been launched on proposals for widespread reform of Scotland’s electoral systems. These include term limits for Holyrood and councils, expanding the voting franchise to all residents and trying out “innovative” electronic voting. According to the consultation document, the Scottish government “plans to trial innovative electronic voting methods”.

Voters will go back to the polls in the Scottish Borders in February after an MSP resigned from her council role.  Including a Holyrood by-election in June this year, this will be the people of Selkirk’s NINTH outing to the polls in less than four years as a Selkirkshire ward by-election will be held on 22 February. South of Scotland Conservative Michelle Ballantyne announced earlier this month that the “time was right” to leave her local authority position.

Our year draws to a close with one of the wittiest Scottish political interviews we’ve seen – Paisley MP Mhairi Black giving her views on getting style tips from Alex Salmond and lots more – Mhairi Black Dec 2017

And finally… This is our last SP Insider for 2017 so on behalf of our political guru Devin, and the wider Perceptive team, may we wish you all the very best for Christmas and the New Year.  We’re sure 2018 will hold plenty of political intrigues to keep us all busy 😊

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk


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Scottish Political Insider – Friday 15 December 2017

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 15 December 2017

Back to Holyrood, and this week’s business was dominated by Derek Mackay’s second Budget statement and various opposition demands prior to yesterday’s big reveal. The details were covered by an SP Insider Special which we circulated within 15 minutes of the Finance Secretary sitting down, and a detailed breakdown of the Scottish Budget is now available via this link: 2018/19 Budget details

Away from the Budget, on the Tory benches, Scottish leader Ruth Davidson confirmed that she would consider standing as an MP, prompting renewed speculation that she could be a future UK Tory leader. Her existing Scottish MPs managed to ire the SNP again by voting down an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill that could have helped safeguard devolution in Scotland. The cross-party amendment would have prevented UK government ministers from using Henry VIII powers to amend the Scotland Act 1998. It was proposed by the Scottish Government and Welsh Government, and backed by SNP, Lib Dem and Labour MPs, but was defeated in the House of Commons by 315 votes to 291 following opposition from the UK government.

On business matters and the last big survey of the year, Scottish private sector output rose last month but is at its weakest pace since March, according to the latest Bank of Scotland monthly report. It suggested there was a “mild” contraction in service sector activity in November while manufacturing output expanded “solidly”. Weak activity growth also coincided with “a softer rise” in new business.

Tis the season to be jolly as MSPs have voted through a pay rise that will take their basic salary to £62,149 next year. The increase – below the current inflation rate of 3% – was confirmed in the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) budget bid for 2018/19. Since 2015, salaries for MSPs have been directly linked to public-sector pay rises in Scotland rather than MPs’ pay.

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk


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Scottish Political Insider Special – Scottish Budget 14th December

Scottish Political Insider Special – Scottish Budget 14th December

Finance Secretary, Derek Mackay MSP, has just delivered the Scottish Government’s budget statement for the financial year 2018/19, setting out plans to invest an additional £400 million in Scotland’s health service, ‘protect public services, lift the public sector pay cap and provide a package of investment in growing the economy and supporting small businesses.’ Derek Mackay said the budget would “invest in our public services and support business to thrive”.
The Draft Budget proposes the introduction of what the SNP call a more progressive income tax policy that will protect low and middle-income taxpayers, resulting in the majority of taxpayers paying less income tax than they do now with those on the highest incomes paying proportionately more.
 
The detailed breakdown of the Scottish Budget is now available via this link: https://beta.gov.scot/budget/
 
In publishing the Draft Budget to parliament, Mr Mackay set out a programme that, in summary, will:
  • Increase spending on the health service by over £400 million – £200 million more than inflation.
  • Provide £120 million – over and above core education funding – direct to head teachers to help ensure all young people can fulfil their potential
  • Lift the one percent public sector pay cap and provide for up to a three per cent pay rise for NHS staff, police, teachers and others earning up to £30,000
  • Invest £243 million towards the expansion of free nursery education and childcare
  • Protect funding for Police and Fire services including retaining VAT refunds in full
  • Deliver a local government finance settlement worth more than £10.5 billion
  • Contribute £756 million towards investment of more than £3 billion by 2021 to deliver 50,000 affordable homes
  • Allocate over £4 billion of funding for infrastructure
  • Deliver £600 million to ensure every home and business will have access to superfast broadband by 2021
  • Deliver the first £70 million of a new £150 million Building Scotland Fund
  • Set aside £340 million for initial capitalisation of the Scottish National Investment Bank
  • Invest nearly £2.4 billion in our colleges, universities, enterprise and skills bodies – including a real terms increase for both college and Higher Education budgets
With no overall majority, the (SNP) Scottish Government will need the support of an opposition party to get their budget passed. The Greens are most likely to strike a deal as they did last year. 
If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

If you enjoyed this issue of Scottish Political Insider, sign-up to receive it directly to your inbox every Friday (link opens in a new tab).

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 8 December 2017

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 8 December 2017

Brexit, Brexit and more Brexit ….

Media reports suggest that backroom talks involving senior politicians from all parties are laying the groundwork to amend the EU Withdrawal Bill in the House of Lords and prevent a so-called Brexit ‘power grab’. Private meetings took place at Westminster this week between senior figures in the House of Lords, the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly in a bid to find common ground on amendments to Clause 11, which sets out how powers returning from the EU in devolved areas will be managed. Both the Scottish and Welsh governments are demanding changes to Clause 11, saying proposals in legislation to hold up to 111 powers at Westminster are a ‘power grab’ and undermine the principles of devolution.

By Tuesday, we heard that the UK Government will change the Brexit bill to address concerns over its impact on devolution, the Scottish Secretary confirmed. The Bill has been at the centre of a row between the UK and Scottish governments over what happens to powers that return from Brussels after Brexit, but David Mundell told the House of Commons that “the Bill will be amended”.

By Wednesday, despite Mr Mundell’s comments, the SNP’s Foreign Affairs and Europe spokesperson has warned that the UK government is edging ever closer towards its Westminster power grab, after the UK government voted down an amendment which would have allowed ministers from devolved administrations to amend EU law which directly applies to them.

Statistics on fuel poverty, energy efficiency, the condition of housing, the Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS) and other key descriptors of the occupied housing stock in Scotland have been released this week by Scotland’s Chief Statistician. This publication provides the first release of information from the Scottish House Condition Survey (SHCS) for the year January to December 2016. Link: housing survey

This week client River Clyde Homes celebrated their ten years anniversary with a reception at the Scottish Parliament.  Devin Scobie joined their senior team at the event where Cabinet Secretary Angela Constance added her welcome and commended RCH as a model housing association. The following evening River Clyde Homes scooped the most creative regeneration award for their work at Broomhill, Port Glasgow at the SURF awards which recognise best practice in community regeneration.

A painting by artist and writer John Byrne will feature on the First Minister’s Christmas card this year. Say It With A Kiss! depicts a couple about to share a kiss under the mistletoe. In line with precedent from previous years, the original artwork will be auctioned next year, with the proceeds going to four charities – Food Train, Sciaf, Scottish Women’s Aid and the Teapot Trust.

And finally… Travelling home this week was former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale who was voted out of the ITV reality programme, I’m a Celebrity (etc) after what critics called ‘a lacklustre performance’.  Ms Dugdale attracted much criticism, mainly from her own party, when she took unauthorised leave of absence to join the TV show two weeks ago.

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 1 December 2017

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 1 December 2017

The Festive month has started once more, but there was precious little festive spirit in the air at Holyrood. Labour’s new Scottish leader Richard Leonard wasted little time in nailing his left of centre colours to the (red) flagpole. The week started with a spirited press conference where he was joined by Jeremy Corbyn as he outlined his visit for a left of centre Scotland, returning Scottish Water to public hands.  The honeymoon lasted barely an hour before the Scottish Government pointed out that it already was. Oops.

Still with Labour and with one former leader in the jungle, another is to join a Scottish Government advisory panel. Wendy Alexander is to be a member of the new Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board which meets for the first time next month. It will have a role to “maximise output” from public sector investment in these areas. Other members include Karen Betts of the Scotch Whisky Association, Steven Heddle of local government body Cosla, and Grahame Smith of the Scottish TUC.

This week’s Brexit ‘Row of the Week’ centred on the release (or not) of sensitive UK government analyses on the potential impact on the Scottish economy.  Scotland’s Brexit Secretary, Michael Russell MSP, renewed his call for the UK government to publish its Brexit analysis in full. An edited version of documents looking at 58 sectors of the economy was given to the Scottish Government on Monday, but it has only been shared on the basis that the information will not be released to the public. A weary Mr Michael Russell has written to his UK counterpart to protest, arguing that people must “know the consequences” of Brexit.

The Scottish Government has announced it will introduce legislation next year to create an Independent National Whistleblowing Officer for NHS Scotland. The position will be the first of its kind in the UK and will take action when staff are not satisfied with an internal investigation. It will come under the auspices of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman. Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “All NHS staff should have the confidence to speak up without fear, and in the knowledge their concerns will be treated seriously and investigated properly. The Independent National Whistleblowing Officer will give staff the ability to access an independent, external body who can review their case and bring it to a clear, final and fair conclusion.”

On local government matters, three Scottish councils are running low on available funds and could use up their cash reserves within three years, the public spending watchdog has said. In a report this week, the Accounts Commission found Moray, Clackmannanshire and North Ayrshire faced running out of spare money for emergencies. Overall, the commission said administrations were facing “a challenging year”. It said the amount of funds pledged by the Scottish government was down by 7.6% in real terms from 2010-2011.

 If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

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