Whats next according to The Next Web 2019

Having just got back from this year’s The Next Web summit in Amsterdam, and having had a chance to decompress, it seemed like a good time to share some of the highlights. The conference itself sees well over 10,000 travel to the city from all over the world to hear from an amazing array of  big names from major businesses including Nike, Wikipedia, Microsoft and various governments. Compared to a lot of run-of-the-mill events, TNW 19 really did stand out. Here are some of the messages that stayed with us after the event. . .

Re-learn to trust your gut

Red Bull considers themselves a media company – they just so happen to sell drinks! As part of this, they do a lot with extreme athletes at adrenaline-fuelled events around the world.

Andrew Gall, Chief Innovation officer from Red Bull, was sharing his experience of filming an extreme athlete who had decided he wanted to ride his bike down a competition grade ski run – as you do! During the run, whilst the athlete was hooked up to a whole range of sensors, the readings showed a massive adrenaline spike for seemingly no reason. A full three seconds later he came off his bike. His biology knew more about what was going on than hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of recording equipment. Andrew went on to talk about how we have all forgotten how to trust our gut, and how important this can be.

Red bull, a global media business, made the controversial decision to move entirely out of traditional media and into digital media in 2018 – this was done on the basis of partial data but primarily on gut instinct. In 2018, group revenue grew by almost a quarter of a billion dollars!

Perhaps we should all remember to trust our gut a little more.

Customers care more about time

Almost every business we work with, and pretty much any business anywhere will recognise the strategic importance of a solid customer experience. But what does this mean in practice?

Robert Viz, Founder of Message Bird shared his thoughts here and, for 2019 and beyond, all the data suggests this is all about time.

In the 20th century, retail was all about having your store in the most convenient location, during the nineties and noughties this became about the best digital experience. Now this is about mobile and apps – global mobile penetration is expected to reach 65% this year with 46% of all e-commerce transactions done via mobile. This trend highlights the importance of saving time, and providing a great customer experience, in order to generate sales.

The importance of customer experience cannot be overstated, and this is growing: 86% of people said they would pay more for better customer experience and, tellingly, customer experience is predicted to overtake price AND product to be the key brand differentiator in 2019/20!

The key takeaway here was very clear – businesses will win by saving their customers time and by making ‘it’ easy.

There’s a fine line between creativity and chaos

Lastly, some interesting takeaways from Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia. Whilst reciting his story of starting the latest single collection of knowledge the world has ever seen, he talked a bit about competing viewpoints.

Wikipedia was initially a team of academics and students, as time progressed, this team mix moved towards mostly developers. Whilst a hugely creative group, some of these developers were very headstrong, considering themselves ‘cyber anarchists’ with very differing views on what Wikipedia should be. Larry shared that “Basically my whole job in the first year was to reign-in all of these differing opinions”.

An interesting insight into the history of, what is now, one of the cornerstones of the internet. And an interesting reminder of the need to straddle the fine line between creativity and chaos to create something great.

PR to help with recruitment

We’re often asked by clients if we can support them with PR to help with recruitment. Attracting the right staff is one of, if not the, most important factors for a successful business, especially at start-up phase. Get this right, and you build a team of smart, engaged passionate people that really drive the business forward, get it wrong and you have in-fighting, squabbles and nothing important gets done.

The challenge is that the best talent, particularly across certain skill sets (developers – I’m talking about you here) are very much in demand across the board and, therefore, it’s an employee market. In order to stand out against your competitors, you need to build your brand to potential employees.

1. Never under-estimate the power of word of mouth

Would you visit a restaurant if your best friend told you they’d got food poisoning whilst visiting? Unlikely. The same is true when it comes to attracting staff. Your team should be your biggest brand ambassadors – spend time making sure they’re happy and engaged and encourage them to share this view. Underestimate this at your peril – even at a relatively small business of 20 staff, if each person has an average of 500 connections, that’s potentially 5 million people that have a mutual contact with one of your employees!

Gone are the days where a competitive salary alone will attract the right talent, even a pool table and drinks fridge won’t cut it – getting your brand positioning right is essential. To this end, considering PR to help with recruitment can make a real difference. To help with this, here are our top tips for any business looking to raise their profile with potential staff.

2. Have a set of cultural values and then actually implement these

This very much relates to my first point. If you want to be seen as a great place to work, start by making sure you are a great place to work. Spend time understanding your core cultural values – what does it mean to be an employee of your business and write these down. Then set about making this a reality.

3. Be known before someone sees the job description

If potential talent already knows who you are, they are more likely to be interested in working for you. This is particularly important if you are looking to compete against larger, more established, businesses in the area. As a small business, the goal should be to be small enough to be a great place to work, whilst also spending time and effort investing in brand so that people actually know who you are. The next couple of points explore some great ways to help ensure that potential talent knows about you before they come across your job description.

4. Curate your digital presence

Take a good look at your company LinkedIn page, and the pages of some of your existing team. Are these aligned and up to date? Is there some interesting content on your corporate page? If not, start by focussing your efforts on this. From here, you can look to identify key individuals within the organisation and put a plan in place to have them producing and sharing content regularly across your key social channels. Content produced for an internal blog can be condensed into bite size chunks and shared over social as breadcrumbs to attract people to your site. This all assumes your site is up-to-scratch and up-to-date which, if not the case, needs immediate focus.

Once this is in place, it’s time to look at relevant content sites to target. Consider local / regional titles and explore what they write about. Content partnerships will really help to get your brand out there. What’s more, building relationships with these titles will help get your company’s comments and latest news placed. If you’re not sure how to start here, consider looking at a PR agency for support.

5. Events now, not event-ually

Get into the habit of checking events listings – simply heading to Eventbrite and filtering by your area is a great place to start. It’s highly likely that there will be a number of relevant events and meetups happening near you. When it comes to looking at PR to help with recruitment, local events are a must.

I’d recommend heading to a number of these to get a feel, as some will be better than others. Once you know which of these are well-attended, particularly by potential employees, focus your efforts to make sure you’re always representing. If you truly are a great place to work, then there will definitely be something you are doing internally that others will want to hear about – so get in touch with event organisers and start exploring speaking slots.

If you really want to get your business out there, consider hosting your own events. This doesn’t have to be a major event – just a small meet up in your office with beers and pizza and some interesting talkers can be great at getting your brand out there.

This article is, of course, a very brief overview of what can be done. That being said, hopefully there is something here that any business, of any size, can implement.

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YOURS . SINCERELY works with a number of businesses to help raise their profile to potential employees. If you’re considering how you can make your business more attractive and looking at PR to help with recruitment then get in touch.