what we’ve been doing, thinking and observing
It’s Valentine’s Day, but for us today is a special and exciting one for a very different reason.
We’re delighted to announce that today marks the beginning of a brand new agency – Threepipe – formed through the merger of Threepipe Communications and Blowfish Digital.
Most of retailers and brands are already sharing the love (and capitalising) on Valentine’s and Mother’s Day and now the time has come to think of dads. With Father’s Day happening on June 16, advertisers across various industries had a unique opportunity to market their products and services.
Even though various surveys show that we each pay roughly double on Mother’s day cards and gift items than we spend on Father’s day (we will typically spend around £14.45 this year), still in 2012 in the US alone, Father’s Day spending reached $12.7 billion. Numbers for 2013 might even be bigger, as more people are spending more than in previous years.
After months of training and mental preparation the day was upon us; Tough Mudder was here. We couldn’t have been luckier with the weather, the sun was shining and the atmosphere was electric. 12 miles and 21 obstacles stood in the way of victory, a well-deserved Tough Mudder headband and a refreshing beverage.
We all had our different way to prepare for the event; some spent the day before eating as much as humanly possible, others decided to relax down the pub. But on the day we were one team, with one goal – every man must cross the finish line.
BT Sport‘s confirmation of its line up of content and pricing is getting a lot of attention recently, with many observers calling this the first serious challenge to Sky’s virtual monopoly over pay-TV sport in the UK.
We have been here before with the likes of ESPN and OnDigital (remember them?) both buying rights to some Premier League football and a few other minor sports, but not being able to make it commercially viable. The difference with BT seems to be that (in addition to having rather deep pockets) it is using sport to drive its broadband penetration and overall offering, rather than trying to directly make a profit from sports subscriptions. This may well change over time but for now it gives BT plenty of flexibility on pricing and means consumers can access some pretty good premium sports content effectively for free, as long as they are happy to switch broadband suppliers. The other key difference is that it is clearly viewing sport as digital content that can sit across numerous platforms, and not simply as a TV channel.
Will this have much of an impact on Sky Sports subscriptions? I doubt it, at least in the short term. Sky still has an abundance of football, cricket, golf and much else that most serious sports fans wouldn’t want to live without. What it may do, though, is start to force down the price of Sky Sports subscriptions (or at least force Sky into coming up with some more innovative pricing strategies), to head off the risk of people choosing BT Sport instead of Sky Sports, rather than as well as. This will depend on how much other juicy content BT can get its hands on over the next few years, and you can get that it will be part of the races for all the major rights from now on.
Having another serious player in the market should be good news for the rights holders, but there may be a paradox here: more competition should increase the value of the major sports’ TV rights, but if BT continues to be very aggressive on its pricing and Sky if forced to follow suit, it will ultimately reduce the returns available and in turn make those rights worth less. Smarter people than me can work that one out, but overall it looks like BT Sport will be good for sport and provide more choice for sports fans, so let’s see if it can make it work.
Our Threepipe namesake, master detective Sherlock Holmes, liked to take his time solving problems – ‘three pipe’s’ worth of time in fact. So when I started writing in shorthand during a meeting and I was asked ‘is shorthand even relevant?’ it encouraged me to take some time out to ponder the question. Unlike Mr Holmes’ method, I made myself a cup of tea and wrote this blog.
Shorthand was first invented so people could write down their own thoughts quickly and discreetly, and make notes of other people’s conversations privately. It was then taken on by secretaries as a means of capturing words with speed, before being adopted by court reporters, primarily because they were not allowed to bring recording devices into court rooms. It is widely known that shorthand is a must for any aspiring journalist (the standard used to be writing 100 words a minute to even be considered for a reporting job), but the same cannot be said for many PR professionals.
We’re a social bunch here at Threepipe, and so a recent invitation to join our Co-Founder Jim for a mystery evening of activity was met with both delight and intrigue. After days of speculation, it soon transpired Jim’s plans were far grander than any of us had dared to anticipate – we were to enjoy/endure (delete as appropriate!) an evening on four wheels at the Roller Disco in Vauxhall. With office bets placed en-route as to who we suspected to be the niftiest Threepipe skater, it was soon time to lace up and get rolling…
A few weeks ago we wrote about our Tough Mudder exploits – eight hardcore Threepipers tackling a 12 mile obstacle course in aid of our chosen charity, the Heart of Kent Hospice.
With our fitness levels nowhere near where they should be, the team decided to take drastic action, and we recently devised a weekly training session held in the local park incorporating sprints, circuits and interval training, using exercises that involved a variety of muscles to get everyone in shape.
Taking time to think strategically, to take a step back and to think about business can often be a rare opportunity. Pressure means we are all thinking about what is immediately ahead of us and how to solve these pressing challenges.
Google’s last wave of algorithm updates has changed SEO forever.
For years, many webmasters and SEO practitioners tried to manipulate Google’s algorithm by using link farms and paid links. In 2011, Google released the Panda update to lower the rank of “poor-quality sites”. A year later, Penguin came along to target websites that were using “black hat SEO” techniques or participating in link schemes.
Interesting news this week that Sports Interactive, the makers of the Football Manager video game, had invited 10 agencies to pitch for its £60,000 six month launch campaign. This was apparently justified because it is difficult to find one agency that can cover the sports, consumer and lifestyle sectors.
They say that the best approach is a hands-on approach – well the execs at Threepipe certainly put that theory to the test in a recent career development exercise, designed to teach us the tips and tricks of pitching for new business.
When you picture a typical PR training session, you visualise half a dozen fresh faces all sitting around a boardroom table, whilst a wise PR fossil tells you exactly how it’s supposed to be done. You take it all on board and go away feeling enlightened – but the real test is how effectively you implement the skills and knowledge you’ve gained into real working scenarios.
It’s National Gardening Week, which has marked the perfect beginning to an exciting campaign launch for one of our clients, leading toy brand Mookie. Mookie, licensee for The Hive Toys has teamed up with bee charity Adopt-a-Hive, in an effort to raise awareness for the rapid decline in bees in the UK.
To highlight this issue facing our flying friends, we have kick-started the campaign by releasing the results of a revealing poll of 2,000 British parents on the topic. To support the campaign, we have also launched on-pack promotional stickers on The Hive branded toys which will offer young bee lovers the chance to win their very own beehive.