Why We’re Ignored By The Manifestos

I sit at my desk in Mexico working for a PR agency based in the Middle East whose client is in China.  My telephone, with its five different numbers (US, Canada, UK and Mexico) sits quietly by my side, and the hum of the wireless routers and boosters, that deliver my powerful international connection, glow to the right of my right desk.  My two rescue dogs snooze under my desk.

I’m a Digital Nomad.  A PR Freelancer.  A Communications Consultant.  I go by many names depending on whether I’m providing strategy development to an international PR agency, or an on-going retainer for a client that needs social media and traditional public relations support (having previously been a Board Director at JCPR Edelman in London, working for yourself forces you to be ambidextrous). 

For far too long, digital nomads have been seen as people travelling on a budget who want to make a few quid along the way.  But that’s no longer the case. For example, in my street in Mexico, there are three of us in our forties all working a nine hour day remotely for clients across the USA, UK and Asia.  My network of colleagues through our brand Help When You Need It live where we want, and we use the time difference to our advantage.  I often get briefed from UK clients at 4pm GMT, and when they wake up the next day, the finished piece of work is in their inbox.

So what does this have to do with the election?  Quite a bit and it has big implications for the future.  The band of freelancers who live remotely is growing at a strong rate, although it has been difficult to put a figure on exactly how many there are roaming the globe.  It is no longer the domain of website designers and software programmers; anyone who uses a computer and a telephone can legitimately become a nomad, and that includes communications and PR professionals.  There are obvious questions around learning, interaction and meetings, but technologies bring people together and in a society where face-to-face contact is gradually becoming obsolete, do we really need to be sitting together for such long periods? I haven’t met 70% of my clients, and yet I have worked on a retainer for them for over two years.  

Listening to LBC Radio and reading the BBC and Flipboard articles, I have yet to hear or see anything about the future of work, and how the different political parties are going to shape the way for not just the future generation, but the existing generation. 

The dilemma is that we don’t have to be anywhere, and this is something that the world, countries and governments don’t seem to have realised.  For example, I pay my taxes in the UK but travel around the world and live mainly in Mexico.  When I recently asked an international tax expert for their advice about where to domicile and tax payments, she admitted that it was the most common question they get asked on a daily basis – and still they don’t have a clue how to advise clients as the ‘powers that be’ haven’t caught up.  There are rules and appealing regimes for the super-rich, but for the humble freelancer or digital nomad carving out a living in a place we want to live; we’re invisible.

This also has implications for PR agencies.  The future is going to change and there will be a need for organisations to harness the BEST talent – rather than the available talent.  A new study by Future Workforce in the US surveyed more than 1,000 hiring managers and found that only one in 10 believed location was important to a new hire's success; nearly two-thirds said they had at least some workers who did a significant portion of their work from a remote location, and about half agreed that they had trouble finding the talent they needed locally. (New York Times April 2017 https://goo.gl/zFFvLL)

I work with many public relations and communication agencies who are initially, and naturally, nervous about the lack of contact with me.  But once we get going on a project, they love the time difference advantage and the fact that I don’t need a lot of briefing; probably because I have more grey hair than most.  Plus, as nomads, we’re cheaper and better value for money.  This offers opportunities for PR agencies to adapt their models, maybe to reflect those similar to the software development sector where agencies present a competent, skilled smaller team to the client, and then effectively utilise a talented group of freelancers to support this team on the day-to-day.

Based on what’s happening now, and what is on the horizon, I am therefore calling on the political parties to consider a very different future that will help the UK to attract ‘virtual’ talent including:

Domicile status – establish a system to support talented ‘nomad’ individuals become UK residents; even though they may not live in the UK.  The workplace is changing rapidly and we potentially have a choice to reside anywhere in the world.

Taxes – Consider a new band of corporation tax for digital nomads – our drain on the UK tax system is minimal.  If corporation tax thresholds increase, you could start to haemorrhage tax revenue from this group of people who potentially can be high tax bracket earners.

Attractiveness – lead the way on the international stage in recognising digital nomads.  The numbers are only going to increase, so invest in a visionary future that embraces this new breed of freelancers in the same way that fintech has been nurtured and is now rooted at the heart of London.

I am currently considering Mexican citizenship as this is currently my home.  I wait out the next few weeks until the 9th June to see what the future holds.


Emma Nicholson is Director of Help When You Need It.  www.hwyni.com. For more information, please email emma.nicholson@izaby.com


Social Media – The Art of Noise
“Why don’t I have thousands of followers?”  a new client recently asked me.

 This is the question that used to keep me up at night; I was obviously doing something wrong because my clients were steadily growing their followings, but they were nowhere near the thousand mark.  Then the fortunes started to change for the client and the dial started to shift. He reported a 40% rise in sales, but they couldn’t understand why.  The only difference was that they had recruited us to manage their social media.  So what had happened?   Basically, their website had started to rank high on Google searches, and the first two to three pages of search information were populated by links to Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Google+ and Pinterest.  Their social media campaign was starting to work and yield fruit.   Then it happened to a second client.  While there are many factors that help a website to rank higher when people are searching for information, there is no doubt that social media is an important contributor, and a vital part of your brand-building strategy.

We all know that the website has been superseded by social media when it comes to finding out up-to-date information about a company or brand.  People want to know more about the brand and its personality.  They also want to see how other people react to the brand or company.  This is why social media has become so powerful as the website can only go so far; it’s the one-sided view created by the brand or company owners. 

So how do you use social media to drive people to your website while ensuring it paints an accurate picture of your company or brand personality? 85% of searches on search engines are now delivered by non-website sources.  For example, you might get a Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest site popping up before you get to a brand’s website that might be buried on the second or third page. 

If 85% is the new truth, then there is no doubt that using social media effectively is no longer an optional extra.  It’s an essential tool in a marketing portfolio.  But what I find frustrating about social media ‘consultants’ or digital agencies is that they like to think that they have mastered the science of social media.  The truth is; they haven’t.  There is no definitive handbook as to what makes a brand successful on social media sites, or what drives demand, or how to create ‘that’ post that is shared a million times.  What we do know is that creating appropriate noise online will not only build your brand, but it will also drive SEO activity and help you to appear in Google searches.  SEO is ‘search engine optimization’ and is basically helping your company or brand name to appear higher in list of results returned by a search engine such as Bing or Google.  However there is so much noise out there that it’s hard to absorb or even cope with the sheer weight of information that is thrown at us.  In addition, the search engine algorithms need to work harder to find the relevant information linked to a search term.  Crafting the right sort of ‘noise’ so that it supports your brand and helps consumers and customers find what they want online is the holy grail.

There are some definite do’s and don’ts associated with creating the right amount of noise across your social media platforms, and I’m going to share some of them here.  By no means are these heavily technical tips based on algorithm performance, software or app recommendations.  Rather these are intended for people who are exploring social media and are curious about whether social media is worth the investment for their brand or company.

One word that you will constantly here is ‘content’.  Content can be anything from a one line sentence about a new promotion that you might be offering, a link to a piece of research, sharing a video, posting an image or a share of another brand or company’s social media content.

(We will look at content, and how to create content that the algorithms will like, at a different time.) 

Don’t….

  • ….Go Mad!  You don’t need to post every ten minutes.  Be considerate of your audience and their own capacity for absorbing information.
  • Stop!  There’s nothing worse than a Facebook or Twitter account that seems to have been left to rot for over two years.  Once you start you can’t really stop, otherwise it will reflect badly on your brand.  It makes you look lazy and disinterested in your customer or consumer base.
  • Be A Bore.  Creative content is vital, so think carefully about your posts in a given week.  Are they informative? Funny?  Interesting? Helpful?  Try to craft a blend of content that will be of interest to your audience.
  • Be Afraid of Promotions – Twitter, Linked In and Facebook promotions allow you to reach a wider audience with one specific post.  Read more about how you can target on their help pages.


Do….

  • Be A Human Brand/Company – your posts are going to be read by other humans; not just by a Google algorithm.  Make the language, content and tone accessible.  This isn’t your website.  This is a chance to be creative and share your views.  Consider a regular a blog on your site where you can broadcast relevant thinking that you can then use to broadcast via social media.
  • Use the Right Tools – amongst the plethora of social media platforms, we find that Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Linked In and Instagram work hard for our clients and drive SEO.  Be mindful that you need to post across them on a consistent basis, so learn how they work as they are all different
  • Avoid Buying Likes/followers – there are companies that can create a following for you, but these are fake likes and followers.  What you want is quality not quantity.  Even with 500 followers, you will be reaching a group of people who are genuinely interested in what you have to say.
  • Target – who do you want to follow or like your page?  Be clear about this and use promotions to drive awareness, get your team/employees to share the page, make sure your website and email signatures have a ‘like’ or ‘follow’ function, and make sure you are encouraging partners or customers to get involved.
  • Link & Engage – make sure you are following your business customers or partners.  You can do this as your company – investigate the Facebook ‘more’ dropdown menu.  Get them to engage by sharing or re-tweeting their information, and use their content in the form of links or shares.  Remember that trade magazines offer fantastic research and content, so regularly share these and make sure you credit the authors.  By linking them in through handles, the @ sign, will help them to see that you are supporting them.


This is a very quick look at how to kick off your social media campaign and avoid pitfalls. 
For more information, please do send us an email emma.nicholson@izaby.com