Recent posts
In2 Consulting wins at Daman Corporate Health & Wellness Awards 2019
Looking to get your comms in order to start 2020 on a high? Let us help!
Writing for editors – thought leadership content development tips and tricks.
Our Top Five Tips for SEO Success
Can your company respond to a crisis within 15 minutes with a digital-proofed plan?
Influencing the influencer
Content is more king than ever
Five top tips for a successful press trip
Five Tips for Engaging with different audiences
IN2 Consulting bolsters its team with the appointment of communications specialist Laura Perez
In2 reappointed to manage the PR for the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference!
Not your regular desk job!
Once upon happily ever after.....
Launch Alert! Looking for an interactive team building experience, check out In2act Events.
In2 named Best Hospitality PR Agency 2018 in the 2018 UAE Business Awards
The Rise of Specialist Collaborators
Influencer Marketing for Hotels and Restaurants
What a great way to start 2018, we're shortlisted for the PRCA MENA Awards!
The use of games in copywriting
In2 Consulting Appointed to Handle Global Restaurant Forum for 2nd Consecutive Year
In2 Consulting reappointed to manage the PR & Communications for the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC)
In2 in Under the Influence Feature - Hotel News Middle East
The convergence of communications disciplines: The role of PR in digital, or digital in PR?
Our favourite apps to do virtually everything!
The triumph of transparency
17 for 2017: Clutter-busting Content For The New Year
Next Hotel Revolution?
Up, Down and Across
The Outside World
In2 Consulting appointed to manage AHIC Communications.
CitiSpi appoints In2 Consulting
In2 Consulting Partners with Sugar Beauty Lounge
There’s no such thing as internal communications
Communication from the inside out
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05
Nov
In2 Consulting wins at Daman Corporate Health & Wellness Awards 2019

Boutique Dubai-based strategic communications agency In2 Consulting is celebrating after winning the ‘Work-Life Balance’ category in the 2019 Daman Corporate Health Awards for its strategy and efforts in creating a healthy, happy and productive workplace.

In2’s unique agency structure with an all-senior team of communication experts with diverse skills and experiences that works together remotely as part of a virtual agency, the company’s business model recognises the benefits of a modern, flexible and collaborative working environment.

The agency has created an effective company culture based on three main pillars: ‘Results driven’ – collaborating with clients to produce campaigns that support their goals; ‘Passionate communicators’ –  In2’s experienced experts share the same work ethics based on quality and value; and ‘Flexible approach and workplace’ – In2 believes in flexibility with accountability to maximise results and inspired thinking, with each team member encouraged to strike a work-life harmony and pursue their personal interests in an environment based on trust.

Organised by MEED and supported by founding partner, the National Health Insurance Company – the awards received a record number of applications across 15 categories from companies demonstrating the commitments they are following through with and the corporate wellness programmes implemented. Finalists were selected based on the quality and efficacy of their initiatives, including their implementation of employee fitness programmes, promoting extracurricular employee activities, and encouraging support within local and regional communities.  

As Anne Bleeker, Founder and Managing Partner at In Consulting, said: “We are proud to receive industry recognition from MEED for the virtual agency model we set up nine years ago. This is an approach that we take very seriously and we passionately believe that operating a modern and collaborative work environment with a culture of flexibility and accountability stimulates productivity, enhances creativity, fosters wellbeing, attracts the right talent and delivers results. 

“For us at In2, work-life balance is not a programme, it’s part of who we are. It’s our DNA. It shapes every decision we make and defines how we work with our clients, business partners and each other. For example, we welcome projects of any size and scope, but prioritise working with partners that inspire us and reflect our company culture.”

Hamad Al Mehyas, Deputy CEO of Daman, commented, “I extend my congratulations to the participants, finalists and winners of the sixth Daman Corporate Health and Wellness Awards. The high level of participation, we have seen this year, is indicative of increasing corporate commitment to the wellbeing of employees. For employees working in the UAE, maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle is an essential aspect of enhancing their future health."  

“Employees spend a third of their day at work, consequentially impacting their overall health. Our objectives behind these awards are to showcase how this impact can be positive and long-term across all workplaces. Healthier employees are more productive, which ultimately results in better performing businesses; collectively these businesses have the potential to boost the overall economy. We are confident that corporate health initiatives are a catalyst for a seamless win-win-win scenario for the individual, organisation and the economy”, concluded Al Mehyas. 

Sonia Kerrigan, MEED Group Commercial Director, added "These awards are a showcase of UAE best practice. Setting the bar high, our winners are contributing to the ongoing development of the UAE's human capital, helping to attract talent and stand out in a competitive global marketplace. We are honoured to have worked with founding partners Daman for these awards for six consecutive years. We will continue to promote wellness programmes which boost employees' social connections and their ability to work as a team." 

The complete list of winners are published on https://corporatehealthandwellness.meed.com/2019-winners

29
Oct
Looking to get your comms in order to start 2020 on a high? Let us help!

It’s hard to believe that another year is almost over. As we fly through the final two months of the year, and with 2020 coming into view, you may be starting to see a few gaps in your communications approach that needs addressing now, or be feeling the weight of a very long to-do list. Add to the fact that a lot of people and businesses seem to shut down earlier and earlier for the festive season, and the pressure is on to get everything neatly wrapped up so you can head into January with confidence. 

So, with an eye on what your business needs now, what can we do that will have an immediate impact so you can start to see the benefit and move into the New Year knowing that you are on track for success?

First things first, we start by asking – and listening to – what you really need, then we create tailor-made action plans that get to the heart of the problem (or, as we see it, the opportunity). 

For example, do you find that there is a disconnect between your business vision and how your  company is perceived? If so, we can help you bridge that gap by developing a communication strategy that clearly articulates who you are, what you do and what defines you, ensuring you stand out from the crowd. We get to know your company, your team and your customers so we understand your values and goals and what makes you different. This ensures we determine what messages you should be delivering to create the right perception within your organisation and externally, identifying your target audiences across multiple channels.

Are you looking to launch a new website, blog or digital channel, but are unsure what words to use to get the best results? We can design a strategy that will bring your story to life, making your company heard in all the right places. Our experts juggle words to create maximum impact in the markets that matter to you, with no project too big or small. We cover every base, from digital messaging and social media posts to blogs and thought leadership pieces designed to deliver business to your doorstep. Leave it to us to help you craft meaningful messages that tell potential clients who you are and why they need you. Our team of senior writers love to work their word magic and have years of experience writing articles and blogs for a variety of clients across different industries.

Are you ready to respond to a crisis when social media spreads your news like wildfire and journalists are banging down your door for answers? If the thought of this scenario sends you into a panic, In2 can set your business up to handle any difficult situation.  Our team can design a digital-proof communications strategy that will protect your brand in times of trouble and safeguard its long-term reputation. From developing crisis plans to providing media training and table-top crisis simulation exercises that put your protocols to the test, our solutions will support and reassure you. Our experienced journalists and communications professionals will explain how digital and traditional media play out in a crisis and how you can respond to keep your reputation intact.

Get in touch now to find out more about how In2 Consulting can meet your communications needs for this year – and perhaps even inspire a few resolutions for you to take into 2020.

By Lisa Flanagan, Senior Communications Consultant

17
Oct
Writing for editors – thought leadership content development tips and tricks.

As content creation specialists, we regularly write thought leadership articles and opinion editorials on behalf of our clients, which we pitch to relevant magazines. Usually, these articles are developed exclusively for a particular channel or title, and the likelihood of publication agreed with the editor prior to us creating them. 

Assuming this pitch process has been successful, we proceed to develop the content with two customers in mind; our client, in order to communicate key messages, and the editor, to ensure we are giving them content that is fresh, relevant to their readers, and most crucially, ready to publish.

Here are five of the top tips we follow:

  1. Study the title you are writing for and adapt the style of your article to suit the publication’s tone of voice. 
  2. Research your topic and pull in interesting stats or anecdotes to support your angle, just as any good journalist would do as they craft a story.
  3. Be insightful, inspiring and thought-provoking. Have a strong angle and develop the article around this, rather than weaving in client messages that are not relevant.
  4. Make the editor’s life easy. Supply your article on time, or ideally, ahead of deadline; write to an agreed word count; and triple-check your grammar and spelling. Present your copy with standfirsts, sub-heads, and box-outs, so that the editor can send it straight to their designer. 
  5. Supply a choice of high-resolution photos to accompany your article. Often, the space your content is allocated in a magazine is determined by the quality of the images supplied. Maximise this opportunity!

By Louise Charlesworth – Head of Content, In2 Consulting

06
Aug
Our Top Five Tips for SEO Success

SEO is a crucial consideration when implementing a communications strategy and the reason is simple; the higher your rank on results pages, the more clicks and traffic you attract. Here are our tips for SEO success:


1. Copy quality takes priority. Content written purely for SEO purposes is unlikely to resonate with your target audiences. Develop content for users, not search engines;

2. Include keywords in your blog, article or press release, ideally in your headline and lead paragraph, for maximum impact;

3. Write headlines that are not only readable, but sharable. A snappy and topical title engages readers and promotes clicks and shares;

4. Add links to press content to drive web traffic. If the content you link to is useful and interesting, journalists and bloggers will share it with their readers;

5. Don’t be OTT! Avoid keyword stuffing - too many links will be marked as spam.

SEO is an important business driver, but it will never replace high-quality content. Keep your audiences engaged and you’ll reap the rewards – Google not only ranks according key words searched, but also on time spent on a site.

By Laura Perez, General Manager PR, In2 Consulting

31
Jul
Can your company respond to a crisis within 15 minutes with a digital-proofed plan?

In a world that is digitally connected 24/7, it is essential to be ready to react and respond immediately to a crisis. News of a serious crisis or incident can spread in a matter of minutes in today’s online landscape, so acting quickly is imperative.

When a crisis arises, there is a small window of opportunity to not only protect the reputation of your brand but also demonstrate your professionalism, competence, empathy and your ability to problem solve. Incidents and accidents happen, but it is how we react to them that is crucial to maintaining trust.

Today’s digital landscape of social media platforms and instant user-generated content has made reputation management a delicate art. Gone are the days where people waited for the CEO’s press conference to learn what was going on. Now, companies need to be able to respond to a crisis within the first 15 minutes it hits, with the right message and holding statement, even when all facts are not yet available.

Here are few tips to ensure you and your team are prepared to address a crisis during the first minutes you hear about it.

Are your social-centric protocols in place? 

It is not uncommon to find out that some companies’ manuals have not been updated and adapted with social media guidelines and protocols. Today’s crisis plans must include policies and practices to clearly help to navigate an incident online.

Think about the most recent crises hitting companies; where did you hear about them first? Most probably through social media. Traditional media plays an important role, but during the first hours of the incident, companies would need to manage the crisis online, and social-centric protocols must be in place. Your team must use your company’s social channels to define and drive your crisis narrative and communicate early and often.

Take a look at your crisis plan, is it time to revamp your protocols and guidelines?

Twitter doesn’t wait… prepare holding statements in advance.

What are the most frequent or possible incidents taking place in your organisation? What are the worst potential crises? As speed is essential, it is important to include in your manual a series of first response or holding statements ready to go, based on the nature of your business. Anticipate every possible scenario! Social media statements must be ready as well, including the assets or visuals you may use while posting the information on social media.

All the first response statements must be already pre-approved by your CEO and endorsed by your legal team.

Old printed manuals are redundant. Digital versions must be accessible to all members of the crisis team 24/7, from anywhere. They say “crisis happens in the most unexpected moments”, and you must be prepared for them happening during the weekend, while you are on a plane or enjoying a family vacation.

Another critical aspect is your website. Is there a proper process in place in case of a major crisis? In which section will you post press statements? Is a dark site required? What visuals and logos should be used?

Plan. Prepare. Practice. Repeat.

Your crisis plan is ready, but has it been tested? Is every member of your executive and crisis team aware of what is required from them and by when? Is everyone aware of their respective roles and responsibilities? Do you have contingency plans, for example, who will step in if the CEO is unreachable or the social media manager is travelling? Is your CEO trained to provide video statements?

Practice makes perfect, and it’s worth investing time in role play scenarios and testing situations. Planning ahead and anticipating potential crises is key to ensure everyone feels more comfortable in their roles.

Empathy and genuine concern

Digital tools may have changed the way crisis communications is handled, but I believe the principles stay the same.

Honest, genuine and authentic communication remains the best policy. Empathy, concern, care, compassion and putting people first should always be at the core of any crisis.

At In2, we developed tried and tested crisis communications solutions to ensure you are ready to navigate a crisis. From developing or enhancing crisis plans and processes, to providing media training and organising tabletop crisis simulation exercises that put your protocols to test, we have a complete set of tools to support you.

By Laura Perez, General Manager PR, In2 Consulting

30
Jun
Influencing the influencer

As brands increasingly focus on the digital space, it makes sense that we, as PRs, are crossing over into the realm of influencer marketing. When done properly, it can have a huge impact but, all too often, it’s just bolted onto the existing PR strategy, with no proper thought for how to genuinely influence the influencers for the long-term.

The key to success lies in creating symbiotic relationships. We need to be proactive and realistic in understanding where the opportunities lie, and carefully work out who to collaborate with to achieve our objectives. It’s a version of the old ‘who, what, why, where, when’ that we’re all so familiar with…

  1. Why are we doing it. What are we looking to accomplish?
  2. Who do we want to reach? Are influencers even the right way to go?
  3. If so, where does it sit in relation to the wider marketing mix – if you want to reap the benefit, be prepared to put budget behind it. Gone are the days when successful influencers posted for free, most collaborations now have a commercial element.  
  4. Do your research. Identify the right influencers and only work with the ones that fit the brand image and appeal to the target demographics. Take time to look at their profile, their following, and making sure their content and tone of voice will ultimately add value.
  5. Build a connection with them and be transparent. Follow them on social media, engage with them in a genuine way, comment on their posts and repost or share their content.
  6. Personalise your approach. Every influencer is different, there’s no one size fits all.

Once you have engaged with them and they have expressed an interest in collaborating, identify a way to work together that, all going well, offers a win-win for both parties with tangible deliverables that are stretching, yet realistic.

By Lisa Flanagan, Senior Communications Consultant

26
May
Content is more king than ever

The saying content is king may be seen as just another cliché, but in all fairness, this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

In today’s increasingly digitised world, content has become synonymous with marketing; we create and market it in order to sell. With US adults now spending more than 11 hours a day consuming some form of media, ensuring that your content gets the attention of your target audience (let alone gets seen!) is more important than ever.

Whilst the discipline of content strategy went mainstream a few years ago, I’m still surprised as to how often companies drop the strategy part and jump straight into content creation.

‘We need a blog, ‘we need to create a viral social media campaign?’, ‘let’s get some videos out there’ are all too common phrases, and when we hear them, we take the conversation straight back to basics: Content Strategy. At In2 we love content, but not just any. We want to work on content that’s going reach the right audience, says the right thing, and is communicated on the right channel to help you reach your goals.  

Here are five questions we ask before we create content:

  1. Why do you need it? What are your strategic objectives and how is this piece of content going to help you achieve your goals?
  2. Who should be reading it? What’s your target audience and what do you want your audience to do once they’ve consumed the content?
  3. What are you going to say?What are your key messages and how are they relevant to your audience?
  4. Where will this piece of content fit into your overall marketing plan? What other channels are you using and where does this piece fit in?
  5. How are you going to measure success? – what metrics are you going to use to track the ROI on your content?

Content is (still) king, but what if you don’t have anything to say? What if you don’t have that video, blog post or digital platform that would help you achieve your goals?

As Seth Godin says: “It might be that instead of spending more time looking for a louder platform, you could profit from digging in and doing the hard work of figuring out the change you seek to make. If you’re unable to influence one person in a face to face meeting, all the tech in the world isn’t going to help you change a million people.”

By Anne Bleeker, In2 Consulting's Managing Partner

05
May
Five top tips for a successful press trip

Arranging a press trip can be a logistical nightmare of gargantuan proportions, but if you get it right, it is one of the most effective forms of PR you can do for a hospitality client. 

By Cristina Kristensen, Senior Communications Consultant, In2 Consulting

1) Put together a homogenous group of media

When inviting media on a press trip, make sure the invitees have something in common. One senior editor and four influencers on the trip might not make for the most compatible and synergetic group. As writers will be spending several days, activities and meals together having shared experiences, interests or other common references will path the way for effortless conversations at dinner.

2) Preparation is everything, obviously

As the PR rep, you need to be organised beyond organised. Preparation is absolutely imperative to success. Make sure to reach an agreement on the press coverage in advance, create a well-thought-out itinerary and follow up (repeatedly!) on every single detail of the trip including flights, accommodation, activities, visas, etc. At In2 Consulting we ask editors to fill out a tongue-in-cheek “getting to know you” form. This sets a relaxed tone and is the first step to creating rapport with the group, which really is the key to a successful press trip. The form lists personal likes and dislikes, dietary requirements, social media handles, agreed press coverage and editorial focus, allowing your client and other partners involved to prepare personal touches for each participant. Also, please allow me to share a few DON’Ts: don’t schedule a press trip around the 25th of the month when monthly publications have their deadlines and try to limit the press trip to 3-5 days in length as many publications will not be able to have their writers and editors away from the office for longer trips.

3) Make everyone happy

As the PR rep your primary job is to keep your client, partners and editors happy. Manage expectations by sharing information in advance with all parties involved. Give the editors access to fact sheets, image galleries, hashtags and all information necessary for feature writing. Treat everyone involved as VIPs and do not get pompous about your own role. During the press trip, keep everyone informed daily of how things are going (WhatsApp groups are excellent tools) and after the press trip, make sure to collate press coverage and feedback in a detailed report.

4) Keep the itinerary flexible

When developing the itinerary, make sure to schedule several blocks of free time. Why? A jam-packed itinerary stresses and annoys the editors. If they wanted hectic days, they would have stayed in the office. Trust me on this one; you need to allow free time to write, relax and truly experience the product, services and activities your client offers. If necessary, take charge of the itinerary when on location and explain to your client why it’s better to let the editors paddle board, if that’s what they want, rather than trudge through a local market in the sweltering midday sun. And for goodness sake include a spa treatment in the itinerary.

5) Get up close and personal

The success of a press trip depends largely on personal relations. The “chaperoning” PR rep should be sociable and outgoing, omnipresent, proactive and organised. Given that you have actually managed to entice super busy editors to come away from the office, you need to get engaged on a personal level. Even if this means you are singing karaoke until 3 am and then have to be up at dawn to round up everyone for breakfast. If the press trip feels more like a well-deserved break to the media than work, you have succeeded. In my humble experience, a happy editor writes happy articles. 

In conclusion, I have found the most important feedback from editors on press trips to be: “finally an itinerary that actually allows for time to write and relax” and “what a relief to be hanging out with a PR rep who is fun and friendly, making the trip so enjoyable.”

16
Apr
Five Tips for Engaging with different audiences

Engaging with a company’s public can be challenging – from customers, prospective clients and media, to key opinion leaders, investors, and colleagues, each group has its own needs and wants that need to be addressed through communications. Here are our top 5 tips to effectively engage with different audiences:

 

1) Put a name to a face

Too often, companies make their messaging about the brand – not the leaders of the brand.  Whilst this approach works, the public is savvy and they understand that most brands are as good as the people running them. To make a genuine, long-lasting connection with your audiences, let them know who’s at the helm, what their vision is and how they plan on realising it!

2) Don’t wait for things to go south

Be a good scout and be prepared!  Know who your audiences are, how to reach them and what to say – especially in a crisis. This approach means that you are always ready to communicate with your public and mitigate any potential reputational damage that may result from not being prepared.

3) Keep it real

Nobody likes feeling like they are being spun a line.  When communicating with your audiences, remember we have two ears and one mouth, so listen to their concerns, deal with the elephants in the room, and make sure your messaging is genuine.  Corporate messaging that sounds like corporate speak will not result in successful engagement.

4) Choose your channels wisely

If you don’t know how to drive a car, you don’t get behind the wheel.  The same rules apply for social media.  In today’s day and age, traditional media channels are not able to be solely relied on, however social media should only be used if you understand how it works.  If you don’t, there are plenty of communications professionals who do, so talk to some of them!

5) Focus on the bigger picture

In the world of communications, things are not black and white.  The grey is a vast landscape that sits between the two.  Understand your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for each of your audiences, but don’t sweat the small stuff.  Keep an eye on the bigger picture and the real risks to your brand. 

07
Apr
IN2 Consulting bolsters its team with the appointment of communications specialist Laura Perez

PRESS RELEASE

Dubai-based strategic communications agency, In2 Consulting, has further strengthened its all-senior team of communications professionals with the appointment of experienced hospitality industry specialist, Laura Perez.

Laura joins as General Manager PR & Senior Communications Consultant, bringing a wealth of expertise in corporate, internal, external and crisis communications to the boutique firm.Well-versed in storytelling, media relations and social media strategy, she complements In2’s 360-degree approach to business. 

Over the past two decades, Laura has crafted successful Public Relations strategies and campaigns for some of the world’s leading hotel and lifestyle brands, most recently as Global Vice President Communications at Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts and prior to that, in senior roles with The Address Hotels + Resorts, Ritz-Carlton and Hyatt.

“Having worked for major global brands and their corporate partners, I have a clear understanding of what is expected from a Communications and PR agency,” said Laura. “I’m looking forward to helping In2’s clients maximise their exposure to key audiences through enhanced media and digital presence.”

“We are super excited to bring Laura on board. Her wealth of experience in hospitality, combined with her passion for PR and out-of-the-box thinking, will undoubtedly inject fresh creativity and dynamism to our clients’ communication strategies and campaigns,” said Anne Bleeker, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, In2 Consulting. 

10
Dec
In2 reappointed to manage the PR for the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference!

From The Media Network Middle East: Dubai-based communications consultancy, In2 Consulting has been reappointed as the PR partner for the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) 2019 for the third year. The annual conference will be held from April 9-11, 2019 at the AHIC Village, Ras Al Khaimah and aims to bring together hotel investors, developers, financiers and advisors from across the Middle East to share insights on investing in hotels and facilitate connections with industry stakeholders.

In2 Consulting will be responsible for all PR and media relations for the AHIC through strong emphasis on thought leadership in collaboration with speakers, sponsors and partners from the conference.

“As specialists in hospitality PR, we’re proud to be continuing our partnership with AHIC into 2019 and passionately support the key role it plays in highlighting opportunities within the hospitality industry, both regionally and globally,” says Anne Bleeker, Managing Partner, In2 Consulting. “It is particularly exciting for us to be working with partners who are focused on bringing the industry together, not just at the event itself, but throughout the year and we can’t wait to get started on what is set to be another successful and insightful event.” 

http://the-media-network.com/in2-consulting-secures-hospitality-conference/

 

25
Nov
Not your regular desk job!

In2 Consulting unashamedly encourages virtual offices.  In fact, on any given day you’ll find our team of experienced communications professionals in different countries, client offices, cafes, gardens, in the desert or beachside – the list goes on.  

Wherever we are, we are connected by technology that not only makes this possible, but moreover, it makes it effective as it results in a myriad of health benefits and supports a different level of efficiency that a typical office environment simply can’t match.

According to Harvard physician Eva M. Selhub, co-author of Your Brain on Nature, time spent in nature turns off the stress response in your brain, which lowers cortisol levels, along with your heart rate and blood pressure. 

When stress response sensors are off, it means that we can access more of our brain power, which translates to greater creativity, improved productivity and more energy.

For many businesses or employees, this kind of flexibility is not always possible, but if you’re finding your office walls or rows of cubicles stifling, why not try taking your meetings literally outside of the box to promote more creative thinking.

In2 Consulting has been fortunate enough to work with some great companies who not only support our virtual office philosophy, but have introduced their own initiatives to promote more flexibility for desk jobs.  So, we thought we’d list a few of our favourite ideas:

  • Lunch and crunch sessions – researchers at the University of British Columbia found that environments with reasonable background noise, such as cafes and restaurants, offer enough noise distraction to encourage more imaginative thinking, but not enough to result in loss of focus.  Time for lunch.
  • Walk and Talk meetings – researchers at Stanford University found that the act of walking boosts creative inspiration, whether it’s done inside or out. Time to get moving.
  • Boardbench meetings – replace boardrooms meetings with park benches, and encourage participants to look at things from a different perspective.  What a breath of fresh air.
  • BusCycle – grab a cycle, a work buddy and get pedaling.  De-brief and de-stress at the same time.

Working harder is a thing of the past.  In today’s fast-paced world, we need to work smarter and letting go of conventional notions around ‘desk jobs’ is the first step.

What it comes down to is trusting your employees to do their best work and taking advantage of laptops, which were designed with mobility in mind!  

Go for it. You won’t regret it.

15
Oct
Once upon happily ever after.....

For many years, communications and public relations professionals have been labelled as spin doctors, flacks, promoters and publicists, just to name a few.  Ironically, as communicators, we have had the hardest time trying to explain exactly what we do…

However, the rise in usage and popularity of social media has helped family, friends and clients ‘get it’.  And, as the role and therefore definition of a communications and public relations professionals has evolved, so too have our labels.

The newest label in our field is Storyteller.  And we love it, because it sums up exactly what we do.

Although it sounds like a simple concept, there is a bit more to it when it comes to Storytelling because it’s all about shaping, motivating and influencing publics to think and act a certain way.  

You see, anyone can tell a story.  But, is everyone capable of telling a good story that will have the desired effect?

A good storyteller must be technically proficient and know how to structure and sequence content using the appropriate style and tone for the reading public.  Furthermore, the content must be relatable and familiar to readers.

Using a strategic communication process, we get to the core of what it is our clients do and what they stand for.  We then develop narratives that tell that story to our client’s ‘publics’ with the goal of creating an emotional connection between our clients and their customers, prospective customers, media, key opinion leaders, investors, and employees.

Client stories are based on facts and understanding their real point of difference.  Then, we develop a well-thought-out strategy that determines how are where we start communicating their story.  Channel selection is a storyteller’s best weapon. After all, what good is a great story if no one can read, hear about it or relate to it?  

Just like all the past labels for communications and public relations professionals, the term ‘storytelling’ not only runs the risk of being overused, but it is at risk of not being properly understood.

When understood and used properly however, ‘once upon a time’ has the real potential to lead to ‘happily ever after’.

Andy Abey, Senior Communications Consultant

27
Sep
Launch Alert! Looking for an interactive team building experience, check out In2act Events.

In2 Consulting is excited to announce the launch of In2act Interactive Events – a provider of one-of-a-kind teambuilding concepts and experiences for groups of 20 to 1000 participants who are looking to improve their collaboration and communication skills.

Fully customizable, In2Act’s unique offline events are designed to bring people together to support business goals while having fun. Interactive and innovative, the Escape Game and City Explorer treasure hunt teambuilding activities, encourage participants to work with clues and puzzles in order to complete the challenge, and experience the importance of collaboration and communication.

If you’re looking for a great way to share a brand experience, induct new employees, celebrate a company milestone or host a customer event, In2act Interactive Events is just what you’re looking for.  Visit the website and social media pages for more information and get in contact with us to find out more.

05
May
In2 named Best Hospitality PR Agency 2018 in the 2018 UAE Business Awards

We are proud to have been named Best Hospitality PR Agency in the MEA Markets magazine 2018 UAE Business Awards!

Read our article in the awards issue of the magazine via this link:

https://www.mea-markets.com/issues/uae-business-awards-2018/94/

From the press release: Now in its second year, the acclaimed UAE Business Awards aims to celebrate the talent, who have worked tirelessly to provide some of the best products and services in one of the largest and influential business regions in the world.

The awards are an opportunity to honour the enterprises and individuals who make this region constantly bursting with new and exciting business opportunity and one of the globe’s fastest developing markets.

For the full press release please click here

26
Feb
The Rise of Specialist Collaborators

Coming together is a beginning;

keeping together is progress;

working together is success.”

- Henry Ford

Whether you call it a collaborative model, or call it a collective, one thing is certain and that’s that the rise of highly specialised freelancers and boutique agencies, working together on a common project, is becoming increasingly common.

In years gone by, freelancers have shied away from collaborating with other freelancers – for many reasons, but primarily because of the complexities of sharing intellectual property, account management and client servicing.  But times are a changing.

And because communications and public relations is an ever-changing landscape, the most successful practitioners in the field are now embracing the multitude of benefits to be gained from working together with other specialists.

A collective lends itself to pitching for bigger clients and more complex projects.  So, when the collaboration takes place and senior and experienced specialists come together, agility and adaptability are key to success.

Each player in the team brings their own niche set of skills to the table.  As experts in their respective fields, their experience speaks magnitudes for their capabilities and what they each offer other members of the collective.

From a client’s perspective, while the collaborative or boutique agency model presents inherent risks, there is so much more to be gained.

In particular, collectives are typically established by senior professionals who have, over the years, built a strong network of peers and acquaintances in the industry – people who they have worked with, worked alongside, or have come across through mutual contacts.  There is, therefore, a degree of comfort and confidence in their ability to jointly develop and deliver consultancy services and offer agile solutions to clients.

With the rise of communications specialists, an upsurge in social media usage, and prevalence of immediate online coverage, the way in which communicators communicate for their clients has also changed.  Take the examples of immediate online coverage and 24-hour news cycles.  These changes mean that practitioners need to be more proactive than ever before – providing updates for print news and online services.

Furthermore, the trend of style over substance has reversed, with experienced practitioners helping clients to understand the importance of keeping business strategy at the heart of any communications planning.

Above all else, the collective model is a great platform for the incubation of creativity and innovation, while maintaining the fundamentals of public relations and communications, and demonstrating a strong return on investment.

This style of working is more than a mental shift towards collaboration, it’s behavioural and relies on practitioners treating each other as colleagues, rather than competitors. The model itself is not new however, with professional service providers, such as medical and legal professionals, collaborating on cases.

It’s a model that relies on solid and transparent communications to ensure that all members of the team continue to work towards common goals, and that deliverables are understood, assigned and measurable – with an understanding that although they may have independent responsibilities, the outcome will be collectively achieved.

As the realm of communications and public relations morphs and changes, it comes as no surprise that the role of and interaction between practitioners will also change.  But, the rise of specialist collaborators is here to stay, and it’s a change that needs to be embraced and leveraged.

To read the full article on the PRCA MENA website, click here

16
Feb
Influencer Marketing for Hotels and Restaurants

In an increasingly competitive market, having a strong value proposition is not enough. Hotels and restaurants need to be increasingly innovative to distinguish themselves from their competitors. Those that are keeping up with what is happening in the digital space have been instinctively riding the wave of influencer marketing, carving a niche for themselves, boosting brand awareness and, ultimately, revenue.

What is influencer marketing? Essentially, it’s an evolution of what we have always known to be the best form of marketing: word of mouth. If you think about it, many of us have discovered an amazing restaurant, hotel or destination through social media. It’s increasingly common for a tantalising food image or scenic beach shot to inspire us to dine, stay or travel somewhere we would otherwise not have thought to visit. That is the undeniable power of influencer marketing. 

Social influencers are people who have a passion for being in the know and discovering new places. They are committed to sharing their experiences through social media and building a tribe of followers along the way who share their passion, connect with them and trust them. These are people who are adept at telling a story through blogs, vlogs, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and – particularly in this region – Snapchat, and have the power to influence audiences that brands are clamouring to reach.

In just a few years, influencer marketing has become an integral part of marketing plans of the world’s leading brands, and numerous F&B concepts in the region have launched successfully on the back of influencer marketing.On Instagram alone, influencer marketing is already a $1 billion+ industry, with both independents and big brands buying into it as an effective (and relatively low-cost) way to build loyalty and engage new customers, especially among millennials. But only if it is done properly.

The key to success is creating symbiotic relationships. Hotels and restaurants need to be proactive and realistic in understanding where the opportunities lie and carefully work out who to collaborate with to achieve their objectives. 

Firstly, it’s critical to be clear about what you’re looking to accomplish. Do you want awareness, to create a shift in perception, or are you looking to drive bookings or traffic to your own platforms?

Secondly, who are you trying to reach? If you’re promoting a local restaurant and you know the majority of your guests are local residents, then there’s no value is partnering with a regional influencer – regardless of the volume of their following. Instead, it would be far more beneficial to collaborate with a number of local influencers, who may have a lower following,  but can collectively achieve the right ROI because they have better levels of reach and engagement with your core target audience.

Thirdly, consider where influencer marketing sits in relation to your wider marketing mix – if you appreciate the value influencers can bring to your business, then be prepared to put marketing budget behind it. Gone are the days when successful influencers posted for free, most collaborations now have a commercial element.

Something that has worked well for hotels and restaurants in the region is to identify influencers who do not yet have a huge following, but have the potential to, and start working with them early.  In this instance, you are looking to build a long-term relationship over a one-off engagement. Remember, the dynamic nature of social media means that it is continually shifting so someone who has a few thousand followers today could become tomorrow’s Huda Kattan or Taim Al Falasi.

The next step is to do your research and identify the right influencers.  There needs to be a good fit for both parties so only work with influencers that fit your brand image and appeal to your target demographics. Hotels and restaurants receive countless requests for complimentary stays, meals and spa treatments, so don’t automatically say yes to them all. Take the time to look at their profile, their following, and make sure their content and tone of voice fits your brand.

When you have found influencers you want to work with, it’s important to build a connection with them and be transparent. A good start is to follow them on social media, comment on their posts and repost or share their content. Avoid the mistake of treating all influencers the same, there’s no one size fits all so personalise your approach so it’s reflective of their individual style.

Lastly, once you have engaged with them and they have expressed an interest in collaborating, identify a way to work together that, all going well, offers a win-win for both parties. You need to be clear on what success looks like and how you intend to measure the end result. Use this to create tangiable deliverables that are stretching, yet realistic within the agreed timeframe. Whether it’s tracking the level of engagement, an increase in web visits or direct bookings, demonstrating a clear ROI is the only way to know if the approach has been effective and, ultimately, secure long-term buy-in from key stakeholders.

This article was published in the Feb-Mar issue of Hospitality News Middle East

02
Jan
What a great way to start 2018, we're shortlisted for the PRCA MENA Awards!

Happy New Year!

In2 Consulting has been shortlisted in the PRCA MENA Awards 2018, which celebrate the best of the best PR and communications campaigns, teams and individuals across the Middle East and North Africa. 

The team is delighted and proud to be a finalist in the category of B2B Campaign for the communications and PR of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference 2017 (AHIC).

The B2B campaign for AHIC, the annual knowledge and networking forum for the Middle East hotel investment community, was a seven-month communications and PR project that supported AHIC to increase attendance from hotel owners and investors; increase overall paid-for delegate sign-ups; and increase sponsor-sign ups and satisfaction.

To help achieve these goals, the PR strategy centred around strengthening the positioning of the AHIC brand by creating consistent messaging, developing unique content, engaging with the business as well as hospitality press, and leveraging partnerships with key sponsors. 

In2 Consulting Managing Partner Anne Bleeker said: “Planning and delivering the communications and PR campaign for AHIC 2017 was a brilliant experience for us. The project played to our core strengths, focusing on delivering communication goals that help support clear business objectives, and developing and creating unique content for clearly identified target media. We are now excited to be working on the PR strategy and campaign for AHIC 2018, taking place in Ras Al Khaimah from April 17-19.”

The winners of the PRCA MENA Awards 2018 will be announced at a ceremony in Dubai on 21 February, 2018.

Wish us luck!

11
Dec
The use of games in copywriting

Earlier this year we took on a copywriting for social media training for a team of experienced in-house social media managers. The goal was not to teach them how to write, but to enrich and enhance their creative writing, especially for digital and social media. Our philosophy at In2 is to build internal capacity in teams, not to build long term dependencies on agencies and freelancers, so this project was a great fit for us.

When I asked the team what their main challenges were in developing social media content, the overarching response was that they struggled with vocabulary and using different copy to ‘say the same thing’ and to promote or sell the same product in different ways.

As trainers and professional communicators, we know that you can’t increase someone’s vocabulary overnight or change someone’s writing style in a week. It takes time, and more importantly, practice. Lots of it.

When we train, we don’t merely teach or explain how to do something, it’s all about giving learners the information, tools and tips to develop these skills themselves and we guide them in the process.

As Maria Montessori said: “Growth comes from activity, not from intellectual understanding”. And this is so true for writing.

To make the training last beyond the face to face sessions and to make sure the programme delivered the right impact, we focused on providing tools to use in their daily work, either individually or as a team, to continue to enrich their creative writing. Besides useful tools such as Test Your Vocab and Grammarly, we explored the use of games in copywriting.

Games don’t just make learning more fun, they’re also an effective way of stimulating creativity. Our aim was for the training to continue naturally as part of the team’s daily routines without impacting their already busy schedules.

With the games and tools provided, teams can do effective vocab building exercises, engage in productive peer reviews and tackle the common writers block phenomenon.

Here are some of our favorite games to explore:

  1. Practice your storytelling with Rory’s Story Cubes®: https://www.storycubes.com/play
  2. Create a six-word story: http://www.sixwordstories.net
  3. Play Charades (you can play this with chosen vocabulary themes instead of the traditional categories): http://charadespro.com
  4. Host a Big Brand Brainstorm:
    1. Activity 1: Brainstorm a list of 25 words that could be used to describe a chosen brand/product/service you’re working on - be as specific to the values and personality of that brand, product or service as possible
    2. Activity 2: Pick 10 of the words from activity 1 and see if you can come up with useful synonyms, collocations or word play for each of the chosen words
  5. Create your own cross word puzzle: www.puzzlefast.com . Once the puzzle is solved, give teams the task to tell a story using as many of the words in the crossword as possible
  6. Word Scramble: Pick 4-5 words that relate to a brand, project or theme you’re working on, prepare a set of letter tiles for each of the words and mixed them up and get participants to unscramble the words
23
Oct
In2 Consulting Appointed to Handle Global Restaurant Forum for 2nd Consecutive Year

Dubai-based strategic corporate communications consultancy In2 Consulting has been reappointed by Bench Events to oversee PR and communications for the Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF) 2018.

Coming into its 5th year, the Forum, which will be held from March 12-14, 2018 at the Palazzo Versace, Dubai, has become an influential gathering, bringing together investors and restaurant leaders to share best practice, discover the hottest restaurant concepts from around the globe and make new contacts. Following the success of the 2017 PR campaign, In2 Consulting will focus on strengthening GRIF’s position as the foremost facilitator of investment decision-making within the restaurant space.

“Our partnership with In2 Consulting was a great success for GRIF 2017 and we are delighted to be working with them again for next year’s Forum,” says Jennifer Pettinger-Haines, Managing Director – Middle East, Bench Events. “As former hospitality professionals themselves, they have a unique breadth of knowledge and understanding of what really drives the hospitality news agenda in this region.”

Anne Bleeker, Managing Partner, In2 Consulting, adds: “We are extremely pleased to be working with GRIF again for 2018.  This year’s campaign epitomized our shared commitment to the industry and we are looking forward to building on this further with a fantastic roster of content over the coming months.”

17
Oct
In2 Consulting reappointed to manage the PR & Communications for the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC)

We are super excited to be reappointed to manage the PR & Communications for the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC).

The event will be held from April 17-19, 2018 at a purpose-built venue at the Waldorf Astoria in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE. As the event’s appointed PR and media relations agency, In2 Consulting will be responsible for all aspects of communications, with a strong emphasis on thought leadership in collaboration with AHIC’s speakers, sponsors and partners.

“In2 Consulting achieved fantastic results for the 2017 edition of AHIC and really supported the key goals of the event,” says John Emmerson, Director of Events, MEED Events. “Their eye for detail and insightful approach to developing bespoke content made all the difference and will be the cornerstone of our communications over the coming months as AHIC enters a new and exciting era.”

Anne Bleeker, Managing Partner, In2 Consulting adds: “AHIC plays an integral role in highlighting opportunities within the hospitality industry regional and globally and provides a unique platform to drive dialogue around hotel investment, not just at the event itself, but throughout the year. We can’t wait to get started and are looking forward to another successful and insightful event that brings the industry together.”

 

Read the full story on The Media Network here

12
Oct
In2 in Under the Influence Feature - Hotel News Middle East

Source: www.hotelnewsme.com 

Hotel News Middle East speaks to a number of industry experts on how the role of influencers is something that the sector can no longer afford to ignore

Anne Bleeker

Anne Bleeker

There is no doubt that influencer marketing is something that any hotel worth its salt has to pay attention to. Hotels all over the world have already ramped up their budgets to accommodate the rise of the influencers – according to marketing solutions provider Linqia.

Hotel News Middle East spoke to a number of experts from across the region about how the landscape is changing for industry marketing and the importance of targeting the right influencers.

Anne Bleeker, managing partner In2 Consulting, says: “We have definitely seen an increase in hotels looking to work with influencers and bloggers over the past year or so.

“However, they don’t always know what value or ROI they can expect from these engagements, or aren’t sure how to go about approaching influencers to achieve specific objectives for their business.”

The trend, Bleeker says, is showing no signs at all of abating and she expects to see hotels and hospitality businesses including influencer marketing in their 2018 budgets.

“We’re also expecting to see more strategic campaigns and longer-term collaborations going forward,” she says.

Read the full article here.

 

02
Oct
The convergence of communications disciplines: The role of PR in digital, or digital in PR?

The communications industry has changed dramatically over the last decade, and continues to do so at lightning speed. From technology and content to platforms and channels, the way individuals and companies communicate with each other has altered forever. The question is no longer whether we should go digital, that’s a given, but how do we effectively manage the mix of compelling storytelling, clutter-busting content, super-targeted campaigns and supreme creativity that clients now demand?

Originally this task would have been divided between the traditional communications disciplines - PR, marketing, advertising, and digital media. However, the line between them – already paper thin to begin with, is becoming increasingly blurry due to emerging technology and new innovations. Does PR report to marketing or is it the other way around? Do social media operators trump both? And who in an organisation should coordinate it all, especially if different people, departments or agencies currently handle each?

My view is that what we’re seeing is a fundamental shift in how communications is structured, with the core disciplines moving towards a single unified function that will create, coordinate, consider, and control every aspect of strategic communications. And that’s a good thing – none of them are truly successful in isolation, they need to be integrated and seamless, comprehensive in approach, consistent in messaging and coordinated across all potential channels in order to succeed.

And it’s already happening.

The Public Relations and Communications Association in the Middle East and North Africa (PRCA MENA) recently unveiled its first Digital PR and Communications Report - a benchmark for how the PR industry is performing in digital communications. 44% of people surveyed believed that their digital budgets would increase over the next twelve months, with the biggest client expectations being creative ideas (54%) and online media (48%), with only 27% saying they do not currently rely on PR and communications agencies to help them generate original content.

As well as demonstrating that clients are likely to invest more in communications in the near future, it also shows that resources are increasingly being channeled into the ever- growing grey area between disciplines - predominantly the creation of new ideas and original content to bust through an increasingly cluttered digital environment.

What ‘s needed then is a 360-degree approach to strategic communications, one that draws on the very best parts of PR, social media, marketing and advertising, consolidating it all into a new role that’s designed specifically for the challenges ahead – the ultimate communication professional. As to what this new role should be called, considering it’s the birth of a new industry, how about PRAM (PR, Advertising and Media) or PROM specialist (Public Relations and Online Media) or, considering the amount of head-butting usually found between the rival disciplines, PRANG might be even better (PR, Advertising and New Genres).

Whatever we call it, there’s no doubt it will work out better for the client. As well as giving them a one-stop shop of skills to get the job done, they will no longer find themselves lost as to where traditional PR ends and marketing begins, or where social media factors into the whole equation. Best of all they will no longer have to split their budget, time and resources between multiple specialisms, but can instead focus them where it counts – getting their message out.

By Anne Bleeker, Managing Partner In2 Consulting

21
Aug
Our favourite apps to do virtually everything!

When you’re running your own business, in our case a boutique communications consultancy, you don’t always have the luxury of specialising in a single field. In any one-day, you have to be an accountant, sales executive, HR rep and office manager all rolled into one. Ensuring the maximum amount of time is spent working for clients requires good planning, discipline and strong coffee, however over the years we’ve found some brilliant apps that help us work as efficiently and virtually as possible.

Here are a few of our favorite tools, without which we wouldn’t be nearly as nimble.

DropBox for Business

As we often work from different locations, it’s important for us to have cloud-based applications that can be accessed anywhere, at any time. By giving us real-time information and the latest versions of all our files, often large archives of photography and video material, Dropbox allows us to collaborate and share material from wherever we happen to be that day. Working from the same, easy to navigate and access library also avoids unnecessary duplication of work and reduces the number of files we need to email to each other, making optimal use of both available storage space and our own time and resources.

Kashoo

Our mantra from the very beginning was to be a paperless office, however tracking and storing bills, invoices, payments and the overall balance sheet and P&L is critical to any business. Kashoo is a great accounting system, particularly suited to small businesses, that’s easy to use, simple to navigate and being a cloud-based application, means we can access it on the go. It also offers free webinars on a range of different topics, giving you more bang for your buck!

Wunderlist

Accessible from your mobile, tablet, laptop and desktop, Wunderlist helps keep track of all your ongoing tasks, projects and to-do lists, removing the need for more complicated project management software, or clunky excel planning sheets. It’s also sharable, so everyone in the team can remain up to date on the status of important tasks and projects, meaning fewer internal updates and more time spent face to face with clients. I even use it in my personal life, tracking everything from renewal dates for important documents, to travel and packing reminders, even shopping lists.

CisionPoint

As a specialist communication agency in the Middle East, media relations is one of our core disciplines. CisionPoint, a specialist media database, allows us to stay in touch with all our press contacts, see how stories are performing in real time and track upcoming editorial opportunities. As a web-based application, it’s also available to all members of our team, whether they’re in the office or out in the field, giving them access to the very latest contact details, updates and targeted media lists.

Skype

Travelling frequently and with several of our clients based overseas, Skype has become another absolute must-have - not just for international calls, but for the bulk of our internal communications when we’re working from different locations as well. This saves commuting time and telecommunications expenses whilst maintaining that all-important face-to-face meeting. The instant messaging function is brilliant too; when you see a client or colleague is online, you simply ask them a quick question, saving time writing emails for small questions or quick updates. We haven’t subscribed to Skype for Business yet, but we’re looking into it at the moment.  

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06
Aug
The triumph of transparency

Last month, I attended iftar with my PR colleagues and peers and as often happens these days, our conversation turned to the subject of influencers. It’s a trend that crosses the disciplines of PR, marketing and social media and one that continues to incite debate and divide opinion. How do we measure influence? What is it worth? How much does it cost?

I work with luxury hospitality brands keen to partner with influencers and spend significant time researching the right match in depth, but with each influencer, the terms of partnership are different. There’s no standard methodology and therefore, no clear way to manage expectations. Transparency is critical in all aspects of communications and yet, in the world of influencer marketing, it seems to have fallen by the wayside.

Why do some influencers acknowledge partnerships and paid posts, and others fail to distinguish between those that are organic and of their own opinion, and those that are paid? If an influencer is invited to review a hotel or restaurant, should they acknowledge that they are there as a guest, or are they entitled to share their experience as if they were a ‘normal’ customer? Is this their choice, or their host or client’s preference? Which is the right approach?

As a former journalist and editor, a firm believer in the value of publishing with integrity, I’m one-sided on this. In a magazine, there is editorial content and advertising content. The first is based on the research and opinion of the editor and written for their readers; the second is drafted and submitted by a third-party client keen to reach the magazine’s audience. Or, if you prefer, the former is free and the latter is paid for.

Of course, I’m aware of publishing’s increasing commercialism — and in a competitive market, accept this as inevitable — but still, even if a magazine supports a paying client with editorial, I’m confident that in the majority of professional publications, the balance remains.

When it comes to this region’s influencers active on popular social media channels, there is hardly ever a distinction between editorial and advertising.  This is becoming a major issue for the influencers themselves, the clients they are working with, and the consumers that follow them.

I’m a big fan of Instagram and merrily follow a host of travel, fitness and wellness names that many in the hospitality industry will be aware of. However, more than once have I witnessed similar posts from this niche group of influencers, all coincidentally staying at the same hotel.  I find it mildly entertaining when this occurs and think that not only does blame sit on both sides of the partnership, both parties also suffer.

My faith in the opinions of many of these influencers has completely dissipated, rendering them influence-less, and my respect for the hotel brand has also diminished, as how can they be so seemingly oblivious to what seems to me so obviously counter-intuitive?

After lamenting the challenge over kibbeh and ouzi, my colleagues and I were in general agreement that it was high-time that transparency triumphed over the influencer.

The very next day, as if by magic, a solution appeared. On June 14, Instagram launched its “Paid Partnership with” tag on organic posts and stories to help content creators more clearly communicate to their followers when they are working in partnership with a business.

This has benefits for both sides: the influencer is transparent, thereby maintaining authenticity and, hopefully, their influence, while the business is also perceived as open and honest regarding the fans it chooses to work with. Both have access to the insights to see the shared reach and engagement metrics — another critical component of ensuring an influencer marketing strategy has the desired impact.

Official policy and enforcement is yet to come but in the meantime, as one of the industries that has so much to gain from influencer marketing — when done properly — let’s embrace this as a best practice and set the standard for our brands and our partners alike. What a relief it would be to catch up with my PR peers and celebrate the transparency of our trade, rather than having a moan and a gossip? Oh, who am I kidding? Where’s the fun in that?!

Louise Oakley wrote this article for Hotelier Middle East in July 2017.

11
May
17 for 2017: Clutter-busting Content For The New Year

The blurring lines between marketing, PR and social media, which have characterised the communications business over the past 12 months, look set to shape the outlook for 2017. Companies have a larger-than-ever mix of earned, paid and owned media channels at their disposal and our responsibility as communications professionals is to comprehensively advise clients and colleagues which channels suit their campaigns and why.

There may be many great channels to choose from, but it doesn’t mean that they will all work or that they should all be used. This can be challenging to demonstrate when it seems that “everyone else” is perceived to be using certain apps or investing in influencer relations, but decisions must be taken in line with your client or company’s business goals; no-one else’s.

Just as channels have evolved, so too have the tools we use to reach these. Press releases are no longer the primary tool to communicate ‘news’ when you have digital and social channels that rely on less text and more imagery. It also means that genuine influencers in your target market can have more power than the press release. As professionals, we know that the most effective opinion leaders are those with engagement among target audiences for our business’ and that this can mean a reach of 5,000 people is far more powerful than 500,000. However, it’s our duty to educate clients or senior management by taking the time to provide research for them to help make the right decisions.

Ultimately, whichever channels and tools you are using, the success of these will come down to the quality and suitability of your content – just as it always has. Content must be aligned with strategic business objectives and carefully planned to deliver value to the organisation. More importantly, we need to think audience first; our content development and channel selection should be driven by what the target audience needs and wants to know and the channels theyuse to consume news. In 2017, with the abundance of content and the need to cut through the clutter in today’s media space, this is more important than ever before.

By Anne Bleeker, Managing Partner, In2 Consulting

13
Mar
Next Hotel Revolution?

Recently, I’ve had the privilege of assisting the team at Bench Events on developing the programme for the upcoming Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, now in its 13th year. This has meant conversations with more than 100 hotel owners, investors, developers and operators over the past four months, not to mention experts from related professions, such as lawyers, bankers, architects and contractors.

Discussions of market economics, catalysts of change, the sharing economy, global influencers and regional dynamics were a given, but what fascinated me was the desire among these hotel industry professionals to find out what is new among hoteliers and even more importantly, what will be next. As an industry, it seems we are on tenterhooks, desperately awaiting bold new concepts, original ideas and an understanding of how our business and its brands can best diversify for maximum return.

This sentiment reminded me of a column I wrote for this very magazine back in 2011, entitled ‘Who will lead the next hotel revolution’. In this article, which now makes me feel rather old, I asked what would be ‘truly new — a hotel concept no-one has tried’ amid a flurry of pipeline announcements.

That was six years ago. Have we seen a ‘hotel revolution’ since? I’d argue that that answer to this question is ‘no’, although the industry has made significant steps forward. Let’s look at some examples.

The mid-market is finally emerging as a segment with exciting brands that appeal to both investor and customer, buoyed by the demand of the rising middle class. Rove by Emaar Hospitality Group has reportedly been a runaway success, while globally CitizenM is making waves with its traveller-centric approach.

Hotel ‘collections’, from Hilton Worldwide’s Curio to Marriott’s Autograph, offer the perception of an independent hotel with the backing of a global giant, with obvious benefits again to both owner and consumer.

Luxury hotels are offering more personalised services than ever; brands at all levels are focused on developing the easiest booking methods possible; and global and local companies alike are online, social and tech-savvy.

But, who stands out to you, right now, as doing something different? Who has a concept that stands apart, from design to product to service? What brands make an investor willing to part with capital and which would you, as a customer, pay more for than their competitors?

In a market where one of the only ways to compete with OTAs is via loyalty, this ‘brand premium’ is essential. It’s the only way to stop hotel rooms becoming commodities, bought from third-parties and compared only on price. Even more importantly, in what will still likely be challenging macroeconomic circumstances in 2017, brand premium will be sought after by investors more than ever.

Perhaps I’m looking in the wrong place for the next hotel revolution? Maybe it won’t come from the concept creators, brand guys or operators, but from the investors, owners and developers seeking to drive higher returns in the toughest trading environment yet. Or maybe even from a passionate traveller via crowd funding and the power of social media?

Now, where’s my sketchpad?

By Louise Oakley for Hotelier Middle East Magazine, March 2017

18
Dec
Up, Down and Across

Defined as the function within an organization that is responsible for effective communications – the depth and breadth of the scope of the internal communications department varies greatly between organizations and practitioners, with one size fits all being a far cry from the reality of the day-to-day role of an internal communicator.

Understood by many as the function that improves employee engagement, a modern-day practitioner adds far greater value to management.  With capacity to act as a strategic advisor, business development manager, human resources influencer and overall sounding board, intelligent internal communications support is a necessity for any function within an organization that relies on communications to engage, inform and influence their stakeholders.

At the core of the role of internal communications is the ability to effectively strike a balance between supporting an organization in achieving its objectives, while protecting its reputation among internal, and to a large extent external, stakeholders.  And to do this effectively, communicators need to understand the intricacies of organizational decisions and the impact of these decisions up, down and across the organization.

So, in order to develop sound, strategic internal communications strategies, we look at two sides of the coin.  First, we understand what the organization is trying to achieve and their roadmap to achieving it – where possible anticipating roadblocks and looking for opportunities to steer towards a more positive outcome.  Second, we map out the communications response to the organizations strategy, and more specifically identifying audience, message and channel imperatives. 

While seemingly simplistic, this detailed exercise in stakeholder mapping and segmentation offers wonderful insights in to the needs and expectations of our audiences.  Armed with more information about our audience, only then can we commence the art of crafting messaging that is relevant and able to address different audience needs.  And it is only at the point where we truly understand who we are communicating to, and what we need to communicate, that we can determine the best channel to communicate.

Now more than ever, internal communicators have a huge spectrum of channels to rely on for message distribution – ranging from informal, tactical solutions such as word-of-mouth, to more formal, strategic communications such as company-wide webcasts. 

The challenge of course being in an organization’s ability to recognize the importance of internal communication and its power to influence the right response up, down and across the organization.

 

29
Nov
The Outside World

By Andy Abey

When we talk about organizational communication, there are two broad types – internal communication, which is focused on internal audiences, messaging and channels, and external communication, which is the rest of it.

Without simplifying it too much, external communication is focused on the communication that occurs between an organization and its external stakeholders, such as owners and investors, customers and clients, government and authorities, suppliers and consultants, opinion leaders and influencers, media and the broader community.

While many consider this form of communication as marketing and advertising, and in some sectors, business development, the reality is far more complex than that because of the integrated nature of communications.

When communicating with the outside world, communicators need to be proficient in investor relations, public relations, corporate social responsibility, government relations, channel communications, media relations and crisis communications. 

In large organizations, whilst you’d typically find that different communications specialists are performing various roles, this is not necessarily the case in small to medium organizations, where you find one person at the helm, responsible for the whole gamut of organizational communications requirements.

Increasingly however, specialist communications agencies have established themselves to provide sector-specific support to corporations – bolstering the in-house experience and expertise to address business and communications objectives.  It’s a collaboration that proves effective for a multitude of reasons. 

However, as is the case with internal communications, external communication is most effective when corporates have a detailed understanding of their stakeholders and what it is that they need from your organization.  This is why there are so many synergies to be shared between corporate communications teams and agencies.

No matter what your approach is to external communications, one thing is certain… whether your stakeholder needs and expectations demand revenue and profitability, provision of goods and services, public-private partnership arrangements, or leadership and accessibility, well thought-out stakeholder communications makes all the differences to a company’s reputation to the outside world.

07
Nov
In2 Consulting appointed to manage AHIC Communications.

Bench Events and MEED Events have appointed In2 Consulting to manage the PR and Communications for the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) 2017.

Now in its 13th year, AHIC is the leading hospitality industry conference in the Middle East –  renowned for its excellent programme, speakers, sponsors and networking opportunities.

As one of the region’s most experienced boutique PR consultancies, with expertise across the hospitality sector, In2 Consulting is excited to engage with the hotel owners, investors, operators and consultants, and sharing AHIC’s fantastic content programme with key editors.

http://the-media-network.com/in2-to-handle-hospitality-conference/

 

06
Nov
CitiSpi appoints In2 Consulting

CitiSpi appoints In2 Consulting

In2 Consulting has been appointed to represent CitiSpi – Dubai’s first ‘Active Social Engagement Company’.

With a vision to evolve the way people get together and discover the city of Dubai, CitiSpi is a new social platform for Dubai expatriates looking to socialise smarter, via weekly social events, online social platforms and an easy-to-use app that seamlessly presents the best five star-hotel, quality restaurant, luxury leisure and children’s activity promotions in Dubai, as well as exclusive CitiSpi offers.

In2 Consulting is always excited to work with entrepreneurs like Hannah MacDonald, CitiSpi Founder and Chief Spi, and we are looking forward to spreading the word about CitiSpi, which we believe is an essential download for Dubai dwellers looking to make their most of their time in the UAE’s most dynamic city.

 

http://the-media-network.com/in2-consulting-partners-with-citispi/

05
Nov
In2 Consulting Partners with Sugar Beauty Lounge

We have partnered with Sugar Beauty Lounge – a full service beauty salon, offering ladies sweet indulgences for the skin, hair and nails.

In2 will establish Sugar Beauty Lounge’s messaging, distribute promotions and manage their press office.

Sugar Beauty Lounge Managing Partner, Eliane Alpha, said: “In2 Consulting has an excellent track record in the Middle East and we are very excited to work with them and further develop awareness of the Sugar Beauty Lounge brand.”

Anne Bleeker, Managing Partner of In2 Consulting, added: “We are thrilled to be working with Sugar Beauty Lounge and are looking forward to supporting the team with the growth of their business in the UAE.”

http://the-media-network.com/in2-consulting-secures-beauty-account/

27
Jul
There’s no such thing as internal communications

By Anne Bleeker

It amazes me how few organizations see the immense benefit that internal communications and strong employee engagement can bring to the table, and the bottom line. There are far too many organizations out there that still see internal communications as they used to see public relations: as a fluffy, soft-skill, nice to have department that sits anywhere but around the boardroom table.

In my view, there’s no such thing as internal communications: it’s communications from the inside out. Not using your most credible colleagues, your most passionate people and your most active advocates to reach out to your audiences seems ludicrous. It’s a lost opportunity, and a costly one.

Companies spend millions of dollars on sales, marketing and public relations to reach new clients and engage existing ones. The one marketing tool they don’t seem to spend enough on is their own employees, who collectively, may well have the widest marketing reach of all.

Let me paint you a picture. I love eating out; it’s one of my passions in life.  A few weeks ago I visited one of my favorite restaurants in Dubai, my hometown. I had a great meal and great service, but that wasn’t the most memorable part of my dining experience. The waiter, passionate and excited, proudly told me about a new sister restaurant that opened in the city. He eagerly told me about the restaurant’s décor, the menu, food and atmosphere and with such knowledge and fervor, that I decided to book the restaurant the next day for our next evening out. Had the waiter just ‘done his job’ and followed the standard operating procedures of the restaurant, he would have never shared this information with me. Instead, he had the knowledge, affinity and confidence only truly engaged employees have, and as a result he sold me a second 150-dollar meal on the spot. An expensive evening for me, but he generated incremental revenue on the spot. Now that’s adding value.

This waiter is a walking sales person, a marketing mastermind and all he does is infuse his customers with his passion and engagement. How wonderful and cost effective is that? How many employees do you have on your payroll? Exactly.

There’s plenty of research out there that proves that a highly engaged workforce easily adds another ten percent to an organization’s bottom line. You’re hard pressed to find such ROI on any of your other communications channels, so why not use it more?

It’s time for organizations to realize that it’s not just about communicating internally, but about communicating from the inside out. Give your employees the information, empowerment, tools and channels to transform themselves into genuine marketing geniuses. They love what they do – that’s why they work for you – so let them spread the word. Guess what, your communications team has just grown exponentially.

The 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer showed that the credibility of ‘regular employees’ in an organization has seen a dramatic rise of 16% over the last year, representing the highest increase of this stakeholder group since 2004. They are now in the top four of the most trusted sources people go to for credible company information, well above company CEOs who saw the biggest drop since Edelman started the Trust Barometer.

So why not put that credibility to work? Actively engage your employees in the development of your vision or ask them to help drive innovation for the business, and you will be amazed by the outcome. We recently experienced some very powerful results when we worked with an organization that engaged not only their employees but also their customers and partners in shaping the organization’s direction for the next decade.

Employees were asked to give five percent of their time to this project over a given period and we were astonished to find that most of them gave double that. Why? Because they cared. They were given the opportunity to be part of the company’s future and to shape its direction. Work doesn’t really get more inspiring than that. And they did a great job; they came up with amazing insights, perspectives and solutions that will undoubtedly help the organization succeed. Your employees are the ones that work on the frontline, they are in many ways your company’s business card and they speak to your customers, suppliers and other stakeholders all the time. That feedback is priceless and should be used more. Want to improve or innovate? Start with those that are truly in the know: your employees.

I ask you to imagine the amount of time your front line employees are spending with current and potential customers, today and every day. If you start using these moments of truth as marketing moments, you’ll know what I mean about doing more with less. Turn on the internal flame and expect fireworks. Doing more with less has never been so easy.

09
Jun
Communication from the inside out

By Anne Bleeker

Is silence really golden? Certainly not in internal communication. Sadly, many organizations still believe it is best not to tell employees what’s going on or to share important information. But guess what? You communicate whether you like it or not - through formal communications, policies and procedures, systems and the behavior of management. And more importantly, you can communicate through silence. There is no ‘opt out’, so if we are communicating anyway, we may as well think about it and do it well!

It’s surprising that not more organizations see the immense benefit that internal communication and strong employee engagement can bring to the table, and the bottom line. There are far too many organizations out there that still see internal communication as they used to see public relations: as a fluffy, soft-skill, nice to have department that sits anywhere but around the boardroom table.

We see internal communication as communication ‘from the inside out’. Not using your most credible colleagues, your most passionate people and your most active advocates to reach out to your audiences seems ludicrous. It’s a lost opportunity, and a costly one.

According to the UAE Executive Summary of Towers Watson’s 2012 Global Workforce Study, “23% of UAE employees are investing energy to overcome ‘substantial obstacles’ to get their work done, but less than half (49%) feel they have their supervisor’s support in doing so. Only 57% believe they have the necessary tools and resources to achieve exceptional performance and even fewer feel they have access to the training they need to be productive.” What about the other roughly 50% of employees? How are they getting through the day? A scary thought.

Employees want to be informed, and in order to do their jobs well they need to understand how they contribute individually to the overall success of the organization. Communication around strategy therefore needs to be clear, transparent, regular and honest, and that’s exactly what a strong internal communications capacity provides.

Strong internal communication gets everybody ‘on the same page’ so they can work effectively towards common goals; it helps create a workplace that motivates people – and one they don’t want to leave; it enables everybody to do a better job, so you have happier customers and a more successful business.

We group the business benefits of internal communication into five core areas:

  1. Line of Sight: “I know where the company is headed and the part I am expected to play.”
  2. Reputation: “I say good things about my company and am a good ambassador.”
  3. Change Management: “I understand what changes are happening and why, and how I should respond.”
  4. Regulation & Compliance: “I follow all the rules and regulations associated with my role.”
  5. Engagement: “I am motivated to perform well at work.”

And here is how it impacts your bottom line: the Towers Watson 2013–2014 Change and Communication ROI Study Report states that its sixth study shows “a continued strong relationship between superior financial performance and effective communication, and change management. Companies with high effectiveness in change management and communication are three and a half times more likely to significantly outperform their industry peers than firms that are not effective in these areas.”

Internal communication is no longer a ‘nice to have’, but a ‘must-have’. It’s a true business enabler that optimizes the flow of information within the organization and helps improve individual and organizational performance.

Communication matters.

http://the-media-network.com/communications-from-the-inside-out/

" Great infographic on the importance of employee engagement and the need to build a strong community as part of orga… https://t.co/9dHPF1u7M1 "
- 08th May -
Events
09
Dec
In2's Anniversary!
Dubai
23
Oct
Daman Corporate Health & Wellness Awards 2019
Dubai
28
Sep
Aya and Papaya Community Event
Warehouse 451, Mina Area, Abu Dhabi
20
Jun
Business Mastery
Amsterdam
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