SUSSEX: SDA17 Winners Announced

THE online achievements of some of the most progressive organisations across Sussex have been honoured at the first annual Digital Awards.

Accolades across 14 categories including “Website”, “Use of Video for Business”, “Mobile App” and “Use of Social Media for Business” were presented to businesses, charities and schools at Pelham House in Lewes, on April 13.

Hosting SDA17 was former BBC broadcaster Robin Bailey who handed Gold, Silver and Bronze prizes to a group of worthy winners.

Special guests included Ana Christie from Sussex Chambers of Commerce, Lee Mansfield of Sussex Business Times and Dan Wallman of Sussex Council of Training Providers, all of whom presented awards.

The Sussex Digital Awards was launched last year solely to showcase online work from across Brighton, East Sussex and West Sussex.

Walking away with the Gold award in the flagship “Website” category was Brighton-based digital agency Boz Boz, who won for their work on behalf of TV presenter Jeremy Paxman.

The Disabilities Trust, an autism charity in Burgess Hill, scooped the top prize in the “Use of Social Media for Business” and East Grinstead agency, Magnify Creative, won “Online Retailer” on behalf of Campania Food and Wine.

Also on stage, claiming Gold in the “Use of Video for Business”, were Midnight Communications for BRITA Vivreau and Advantage Air Systems from Horsham were victorious in “Website: Small Business”.

The top award in “Mobile App” was picked up by Carousel for Curing Perfect, an online graphic novel.

Gold in the “Blog” classification went to full-time digital writer Tom Briggs for “Diary of the Dad” and “Responsive Website” went to 5and3: Integrated Communication Solutions from East Grinstead.

The “Website: Marketing & Creative” Gold went to Brighton branding studio Made By Spoken and “Website: B2B” to 4D Data Centres in West Byfleet.

Also on top of the podium were The Cookshelf by Superlative Design in “Website: Lifestyle & Culture” and Rockinghorse Children’s Charity, from Brighton, in “Website: School, Education or Charity”.

“Website: Tourism & Hospitality” Gold was landed by Brighton’s Pragmatic Agency for their project on behalf of luxury hotel business Condé Nast Johansens.

There was also a special “Spirit of Sussex” award, which is given to one organisation chosen for attracting significantly positive exposure to the county and this was presented to the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the annual motor racing event on the Goodwood Estate which attracts more than 200,000 visitors each year.

They were recognised for their use of digital platforms in promoting the county of Sussex as a destination.


Sussex Digital Awards 2017 – The Winners

 

BLOG
Gold – Diary of the Dad
Silver – Denyse Whillier
Bronze – Muddy Stilettos Sussex

 

MOBILE APP
Gold – Curing Perfect by Carousel
Silver – MyTeamSafe by Hillingar
Bronze – M-Tickets by Brighton & Hove Buses and Metrobus

 

ONLINE RETAILER
Gold – Campania Food and Wine by Magnify Creative
Silver – Cowdray Estates by 247 Creative
Bronze – Vinscovery by Nik Hannay Ltd & Ollie Hyde

 

RESPONSIVE WEBSITE
Gold – 5and3: Integrated Communication Solutions
Silver – Focus Digital Media
Bronze – Turner & Hoskins by Magnify Creative

 

USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA FOR BUSINESS in association with Sussex Business Times
Gold – The Disabilities Trust
Silver – Barfoots by Kitch Media
Bronze – Arundel Castle by Midnight Communications

 

USE OF VIDEO FOR BUSINESS
Gold – BRITA Vivreau by Midnight Communications
Silver – Egg Media
Bronze – IBDrelief

 

WEBSITE in association with Sussex Chamber of Commerce
Gold – Jeremy Paxman by Bozboz
Silver – Internet Matters by Pragmatic
Bronze – 5and3: Integrated Communication Solutions

 

WEBSITE: B2B
Gold – 4D Data Centres
Silver – Infigo Software
Bronze – Ticketmedia by Made By Spoken

 

WEBSITE: LIFESTYLE & CULTURE
Gold – The Cookshelf by Superlative Design
Silver – Woman Alive by CPO
Bronze – SixtySix Productions by ifour

 

WEBSITE: MARKETING & CREATIVE
Gold – Made By Spoken
Silver – Jeremy Paxman by Bozboz
Bronze – 5and3: Integrated Communication Solutions

 

WEBSITE: SCHOOL, EDUCATION OR CHARITY
Gold – Rockinghorse Children’s Charity
Silver – TeamUp Bexhill by Rother Voluntary Action
Bronze – Internet Matters by Pragmatic

 

WEBSITE: SMALL BUSINESS in association with Sussex Council of Training Providers
Gold – Advantage Air Systems
Silver – Brighton Digital Women
Bronze – Matthew Page Photography by Dan Gorham Creative Design

 

WEBSITE: TOURISM & HOSPITALITY
Gold – Condé Nast Johansens by Pragmatic
Silver – Cowdray Estate by 247 Creative
Bronze – Coast B&B by Studio Polpetto

 

SPIRIT OF SUSSEX
Gold – Goodwood Festival of Speed

SUSSEX: Two Weeks Until Inaugural SDAs

The first ever Sussex Digital Awards is just two weeks away.

In a fortnight’s time winners of Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards across 13 categories will be crowned at Pelham House, in Lewes.

Following a huge number of entries into SDA classifications including “Use of Social Media for Business”, “Mobile App” and the flagship “Website”, judges have made their decisions and winners are set to be announced to a sell-out crowd.

On the night finalists will be encouraged to share on social channels as events until using the hashtag #SDA17.

The event is supported by Sussex Chamber of Commerce, Sussex Council of Training Providers and will be covered by the Sussex Business Times.

Former BBC presenter, Robin Bailey, who is hosting the event said: “Preparations are going extremely well for what promises to be a fantastic evening of celebration for some of the most progressive businesses in Sussex.

“Be prepared for plenty of Twitter action and warm up those vocal chords, it’s going to be one big big night.”

The Sussex Digital Awards takes place on April 13, starting with a drinks reception at 7pm.

The event is also supported by Clare Reeves Voiceovers, Noise PR and designsixtyfour.com.

 

SUSSEX: SDA17 Finalists Announced

The finalists of the inaugural Sussex Digital Awards have been announced and tickets for the Presentation Evening are now available.

The remaining contenders in each of the categories are now in with a chance of claiming Gold, Silver and Bronze awards at the SDA dinner ceremony on April 13 at Pelham House, Lewes.

The Sussex Digital Awards was launched in 2016 to celebrate the online achievements of businesses, charities and schools from across Brighton, East Sussex and West Sussex.

It follows successful sister schemes in Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Milton Keynes and Surrey.

Tickets are on sale now and the finalists will compete across 13 categories including “Blog”, “Use of Social Media for Business” and the flagship “Website” classification.

Presenting awards at the Presentation Evening will be SDA Key Supporter Sussex Chamber of Commerce and Sussex Business Times.

The event is also supported by Sussex Council of Training Providers, Clare Reeves Voiceovers and Capricorn Media.

Robin Bailey, Chairman of the independent SDA Judging Panel, believes the night will be an “historic moment” in Sussex’s history.

He said: “Our experience of hosting Digital Awards in six other counties across the south-east tells us to expect a fantastic evening of networking, celebration and best practice sharing.

“We are extremely excited by the quality and quantity of entries received at the SDAs and April 13 will be extremely competitive.

“We urge all people who are serious about using digital platforms to progress their business or organisation to attend this event.

“It’ll be a night to remember.”

The Sussex Digital Awards 2017 Presentation Evening will include an arrival drink, two-course meal and a complimentary third of a bottle of wine person.

The event will be hosted by Mr Bailey, a former BBC presenter, and it will also feature live entertainment.

Tickets are priced at £62.50 + VAT with a special 10% discount on tables for ten. Tickets can be ordered here

The SDAs is the only scheme within the county dedicated to selling the online achievements of businesses, schools and charities.

 


Sussex Digital Awards 2017 – The Finalists

BLOG
Advantage Air Systems
Consortium Business Solutions
Denyse Whillier
Diary of the Dad
Glide Training
jugglingonrollerskates
Muddy Stilettos Sussex

MOBILE APP
Country Eye by Kent Police
Curing Perfect by Carousel
M-Tickets by Brighton & Hove Buses and Metrobus
MyTeamSafe by Hillingar

ONLINE RETAILER
Campania Food and Wine by Magnify Creative
Cowdray Estate by 247 Creative
CPO
Lab TV by Tomango
Protectfully by The Marketing Boutique
The Cookshelf by Superlative Design
Vinscovery by Nik Hannay Ltd & Ollie Hyde

RESPONSIVE WEBSITE
4D Data Centres
5and3: Integrated Communication Solutions
Concept Tag by Tomango
Condé Nast Johansens by Pragmatic
Focus Digital Media
I Am Team GB by Pragmatic
Turner & Hoskins by Magnify Creative

USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA FOR BUSINESS
Arundel Castle by Midnight Communications
Barfoots by Kitch Media
Business East Sussex
Cowdray Park Polo Club by Kitch Media
Plumpton Racecourse
Sofitel London Gatwick by Arora Group
The Disabilities Trust

USE OF VIDEO FOR BUSINESS
Autism Parent Empower by Royalty Three
BRITA Vivreau by Midnight Communications
Egg Media
IBDrelief
Metro Cars by Royalty Three
Play Unified by Midnight Communications
RMV Productions

WEBSITE
5and3: Integrated Communication Solutions
Internet Matters by Pragmatic
Jeremy Paxman by Bozboz
Love Local Jobs
Pier Recruitment by Focus Digital Media
Root 1066 by ifour
Rowland Gorringe Estate Agents by Focus Digital Media

WEBSITE: B2B
4D Data Centres
Alandale Plant and Scaffolding by Siric Communications
Benchmarq
Infigo Software
Lambert Property Consultants by Focus Digital Media
Ticketmedia by Made By Spoken
Xpera by Focus Digital Media

WEBSITE: LIFESTYLE & CULTURE
Curing Perfect by Carousel
Hester Grant Design by Studio Polpetto
IBDrelief
Middle Farm by Design M
SixtySix Productions by ifour
The Cookshelf by Superlative Design
Woman Alive by CPO

WEBSITE: MARKETING & CREATIVE
5and3: Integrated Communication Solutions
Consortium Business Solutions
Focus Digital Media
Jeremy Paxman by Bozboz
Made By Spoken
RMV Productions
Superlative Design

WEBSITE: SCHOOL, EDUCATION OR CHARITY
Carousel
Headway West Sussex by Shake It Up Creative
Internet Matters by Pragmatic
Lapin Logic
Rockinghorse Children’s Charity
St. John’s School and College
TeamUp Bexhill by Rother Voluntary Action

WEBSITE: SMALL BUSINESS
Advantage Air Systems
Brighton Digital Women
Coast B&B by Studio Polpetto
Lapin Logic
Matthew Page Photography by Dan Gorham Creative Design
Middle Farm by Design M
Pentagon Plastics

WEBSITE: TOURISM & HOSPITALITY
Coast B&B by Studio Polpetto
Condé Nast Johansens by Pragmatic
Cowdray Estate by 247 Creative
Dum Dum Donutterie Brighton
Eatonden Manor Farm by Tomango
Root 1066 by ifour

SUSSEX: Entry For First SDAs Closes Soon

Time is running out to enter the first Sussex Digital Awards, which closes on February 10.

The scheme – which exists to celebrate the online achievements of business, charities and schools from across Sussex – is free to enter and it takes less than two minutes to complete a submission.

The SDAs is backed by Sussex Chamber of Commerce and features categories including “Use of Social Media for Business”, “Blog”, “Mobile App” and the flagship “Website” award.

It is open to businesses from every industry sector and design agencies based in West Sussex, East Sussex and Brighton can enter their client’s work, even if the client is based outside Sussex.

Gold, silver and bronze prizes will be awarded at the Presentation Evening, which takes place at Pelham House, Lewes, on April 13, 2017.

To enter visit http://sussexdigitalawards.co.uk/enter

SUSSEX: Entry For First SDA Now Open

Entry for the inaugural Sussex Digital Awards is now open.

The scheme – which was set-up to recognise the online achievements of businesses, charities and schools – is free to enter.

There are 15 categories:

Website
Website: Small Business
Website: B2B
Website: Marketing & Creative
Website: Tourism & Hospitality
Website: Lifestyle & Culture
Website: Sports & Entertainment
Responsive Website
Mobile App
Use of Social Media for Business
Use of Video for Business
Online Retailer
Blog: Entertainment
Blog: Business

The launch of the SDAs follows successful sister schemes in Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Milton Keynes and Surrey.

It welcomes entries from both East Sussex and West Sussex which will compete as one area, known within the Awards as a “county”.

It is open to businesses from any industry and designers can enter work on behalf of clients, even if their client is based outside of the county.

An independent panel of judges from companies including Sky Sports and Eir.com will preside over the entries.

Robin Bailey, Chairman of the SDA Judging Panel, said: “We are tremendously excited to bring the Digital Awards to Sussex, following huge success in many other areas of the south-east of England.

“Winning a Digital Awards have very quickly become a huge accolade and we’re sure that there is gong to be a lot of competition in Sussex, a county which has a reputation for its digital talent.”

“Entry is free and very easy to complete through our website so there really is nothing to lose and everything to gain through getting involved.”

To enter click here

SUSSEX: Sussex Digital Awards Launched

We are immensely pleased to announce the launch of the Digital Awards in Sussex, to celebrate the online achievements of businesses, charities and schools.

The Sussex Digital Awards 2017 will open for entry on on October 3, 2016, following the outstanding success of sister schemes in Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Surrey and Milton Keynes.

It will be free to take part and entry can be made on this website from October 3.

The scheme will combine the counties of East Sussex and West Sussex for the competition.

There will be a range of 15 categories to enter and the esteemed judging panel will include representatives from major organisations such as Sky Sports and telecoms giant Eir.

Businesses from any industry are welcome to enter their digital work and there is a special category for schools and charities.

Digital designers will be permitted to enter their client work, even if their customer is based outside of the borders of East Sussex and West Sussex.

Robin Bailey, Head of the SDA Judging Panel, said: “We are thrilled to be take the immensely successful Digital Awards programme to Sussex, an area which has a huge amount of digital talent.

“For businesses, charities and schools thinking of taking part, I can tell you from my experience of the Digital Awards across the south-east that this is a huge opportunity to gain very valuable recognition for your work.

“There have been a whole range of amazing success stories from the Digital Awards and many household names seeking an award too.

“In the past few years winning a Digital Award has quickly become a much sought-after accolade.”

A range of sponsorship packages are available for businesses wishing to align themselves with the progressive scheme. For more information email [email protected]

The Sussex Digital Awards will culminate in a Presentation Evening in April 2017.

The complete list of categories for the Sussex Digital Awards is:-

Website
Blog: Entertainment
Blog: Business
Use of Social Media for Business
Use of Video for Business
Online Retailer
Mobile App
Responsive Website
Website: School, Education or Charity
Website: B2B
Website: Small Business
Website: Marketing & Creative
Website: Lifestyle & Culture
Website: Tourism & Hospitality
Website: Sports & Entertainment

The closing date for entry is February 10, 2017.



PM Declares Support for Superfast Broadband

The Prime Minister has declared her future support for High Speed Broadband in Parliament today (September 7, 2016).

Teresa May, who came to office in July, gave her backing to the UK-wide rollout of internet connectivity in the first Prime Minister’s Questions since the Summer recess.

Her statement came following a call for continued Government backing for the Superfast Broadband schemes across the country from James Heappey, MP, who supports a rollout in his Somerset constituency.

Mrs May said: “I am very happy to give my Right Honourable Friend that assurance and also to join with him in paying tribute to his Council and the work that they are doing and indeed all those involved in that innovative scheme. High Speed Broadband is an important part of the 21st century infrastructure and we will be doing everything we can to ensure it is there and available for people because that will enable us to develop jobs and grow prosperity in this country”.

The Digital Awards is working with and fully supports Superfast Broadband rollouts in Essex, Surrey and Cambridgeshire through Superfast Essex, Surrey Connects and Connecting Cambridgeshire.

 

 

 

The Voice Behind The Victories

One of the features of this year’s Digital Awards Presentation Evenings, was the voiceover work of clarereevesvoiceovers.com

Clare’s warmly professional dulcet tones announced each of the finalists at the events, which dramatically lifted the production of the ceremony and the spirits of those involved.

As a professional UK voiceover artist and former BBC radio presenter, Clare records a wide range of voice projects including TV and radio commercials, documentary narration, corporate videos, e-learning, museum soundscapes, audio guides, interactive voice response IVR and much more.

These top quality projects have been sent around the world to clients including Trivago, BMW, Deloitte, BBC, National Geographic, Hilary’s Blinds, Abu Dhabi Government and Unilever.

Clare is a BBC trained radio presenter and audio engineer and an actor, passionate communicator and beachcomber.

The DA team caught up with Clare to talk more about her fascinating work and her mission to “bring your words to life”.


Q. Tell us about Clare Reeves and the work you do as a voice over artist (VOA)?

I’m Clare and I’m a Voiceover Artist. The wonderful thing about my work is the wide variety of projects and clients. My work includes voicing TV and Radio Commercials, TV documentary narration, Corporate productions of all kinds – from promotional videos, explainer videos for websites, phone answering systems, event announcements, exhibition stands to elearning! Then some days I work on museum soundscapes and audio guides and jingles for DJs / Podcasters.. I’ve even leant my voice to a dance music track and I’ve got an Art Installation coming up soon!

Q. What type of businesses do you work for?

All sorts, from global brands such as Unilever, BMW, Deloitte and Fox International Channels to UK based businesses, the NHS, charities and startups. I believe every business has a story to tell and a brand they treasure – using a professional voice is the best way to sound as good as you look.. businesses pay so much attention to their logo without sometimes thinking about what voice is on their answering system.. I think that is beginning to change and people are more aware of the power of a pro voice in an increasingly competitive world.

Q. You are one of the region’s leading VOA. How did you get into that industry?

I worked in the BBC for many years both sides of the microphone, as a radio presenter and also as a sound engineer at the BBC World Service. I used to direct the BBC’s TV Channels live on air and I’m a confirmed broadcast technology geek! I’m a total telly addict. I also have a background in acting with some theatre training. All of these things really came together for me after I had my son.. I wanted to build my own career, do something I loved that I could grow over the years. Voiceover isn’t just talking, it’s a hugely complex set of skills that all have to come together at a given moment to create the right thing. Some clients like to direct – others like me to direct myself. It’s about bringing words to life and giving them meaning as you lift them off the page. I train hard with a coach in LA and one in the UK as well. It’s vital to push yourself, to keep on top of current Voiceover trends (yes, there are trends) as it’s a very competitive business.

Q. How has being a VOA changed over the years, in terms of producing recordings and using technology?

Technology is ESSENTIAL for Voiceover Actors. I record most of my work from my own studio, at home, into Adobe Audition on my Mac – I edit and mix in the digital world and send finished files digitally as well. Clients also like to direct me live sometimes over Skype.. it’s all very current. It’s changed hugely since the days of having to go into a studio to be recorded on tape. Also in terms of how I find work and how work finds me.

Q. Tell us how, as a VOA, you use the Internet to connect with the public?

Most of my work finds me via the internet as well, and I use online marketing and social media a great deal too. I’m a little obsessed with Twitter.. it’s great for collecting contacts as well as keeping a profile amongst the public and clients. I endeavour to keep my website up to date with showreels and videos and news of what I’m up to. One aspect of the technology that can be overlooked is how wonderful it is to keep connected. As I say, I work largely on my own – it could be very isolating – but thankfully I have a fantastic network of friends in the business and we chat daily online, share stories and wisdom etc. It’s a bit like being in an office – well, the good bits!

Q. How can using a VOA enhance an event?

Events are exciting, they are an occasion. I think that participants and guests want to feel special at an event. By using a pro Voiceover to make announcements (we call it being “Voice of God” in the VO biz!) I think you are saying “we are serious, we are professional, we respect you and want you to feel special, this matters”. It also means that the brand holding the event looks good.. you don’t notice a great voice necessarily – you notice a great event and how you felt.

Q. If a business wants to use your services, what is the best way of connecting with you?

Pop over to my website clarereevesvoiceovers.com and send me a note via my contact form – I’m always happy to chat through what you think you need, provide a free sample and quote for you. Even if you have never worked with a voiceover before, I make things easy and help you out every step of the way.

A Few Minutes With… iThinkMedia’s David Cable

For the latest edition of ‘A Few Minutes With…’ we decided to speak to the Client Services Manager at our Headline Sponsor, iThinkMedia, one of the country’s leading SEO companies.

Formed in 2008, iThinkMedia are an established search marketing agency providing clients with maximum and targeted visibility on search engines. The firm is based in a unique renovated barn in Hertford, and boasts a glittering client list featuring the likes of Mothercare, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), ebay and Jaeger.

Here’s what David had to say on his experiences with social media and the digital world.

Could you describe your company’s activity on social networks?
We have historically tried to use a number of platforms, however have found that Twitter and LinkedIn are the most effective for what we are trying to achieve from using social media networks. Twitter we use as a platform to share our thoughts and opinions, interesting articles and on occasion gain feedback from others in our field.

LinkedIn is certainly one of the best places to share content (blog posts etc) as get’s in-front of our target audience that are not being distracted by silly cat video’s or questionnaires about what animal you were in a previous life.

Are there elements of your business now that would not have been possible without social media?
Certainly. Just last week I was stuck on a particularly technical issue that we could not work out in the office. Taking to Twitter, I was soon involved in conversations with other agency owners in Seattle, USA. This took minutes, not days! They went above and beyond to help too, having exchanged email addresses meaning our discussions could be more in-depth and sending me some examples of how to resolve my technical issue. Collaboration has now become much easier thanks to all the social platforms available.

How has your relationship with your customers/clients changed with the dawn of digital technology?
No longer is the only form of contact the phone or emails. We follow all of our clients on their respective social networks, as well as their competitors, to see what is happening and if there are any missed opportunities.

Sharing of documentation is now much easier too, with the likes of applications such as Google Drive, Trello, Base Camp and the thousands of other campaign management tools out there. Our clients like it and so do we. It’s easier to manage, you can work on docs collaboratively in real-time and it helps us stay transparent for our clients.

How would you describe the relationship between businesses and digital technology in your local area?
There are some really technically savvy businesses out there who are embracing the technology to improve their services. Most businesses have adopted social media for growing their brand awareness, but some are truly embracing the digital aspects of the technology available.

We’ve seen businesses using re-marketing (sort of like stalking visitors of your site wherever they go online), display marketing and most notably video marketing. With technological advances, producing video has become easier and cheaper, so we are seeing more creative uses of this platform for marketing, especially from some of the finalists like Tommie & Lottie, asset.tv and others. That will be one of the closely contested categories for sure!

Which social media campaigns or accounts have really caught your eye recently?
Nike. They are always the pioneers of new technology and they have recently done a set of videos utilising 360-degree viewing via a YouTube video, promoting their new football boots with Neymar. It’s all about experience marketing with Nike and they are literally the best – they had wonderful campaigns during the World Cup too, with almost instantaneous adverts that related to which player had just scored.

What have you found to be the most positive and negative aspects of using social media for your business?
The reach of social media is amazing. We’ve been able to get our blog posts all over the world thanks to a little self promotion and making sure we are active in Twitter Chats. Our ability to find either like minded industry types or potential new clients from a little bit of digging is becoming something so much more accessible thanks to social media.

Luckily we have not experienced any negativity, but of course are aware that with the ability to set up free accounts, there are businesses out there posting negative reviews on their competitors profiles. Whilst the platforms do their best to stop this activity, there seems to be an element of this in all industries.

What advice would you give to businesses looking to improve their social media activity?
Use the most suitable platform to what you are trying to achieve, rather than trying to utilise all of them. Doing a bit of research to see where your target audience “hang out” is crucial, as this will help you shape your messaging so it’s better received. Certain types of businesses will need to be more image focused to attract new customers, others may have to always use competitions etc, but knowing your target audience is a must if you are to make the most out of social media.

One of the biggest things however is consistency. Not just from how often you post, but also your tone of voice, style of imagery and answering any questions posted to you. Regardless of negative or positive intent from posts to you as a business, you should always respond – there are many companies that can turn negative comments into positive interactions and that all comes from being responsive and trying to help however you can.

For more information about iThinkMedia visit ithinkmedia.co.uk or call 01438 870220.

A Few Minutes With… Mercury Theatre’s Robin Fenwick

For the latest edition of ‘A Few Minutes With…’ we decided to speak to the Director of Communications and Audience Services at Colchester’s Mercury Theatre, Robin Fenwick.

The Mercury Theatre is a theatre based in Colchester, Essex, that’s now become known throughout the UK for offering some very highly regarded productions. As well as producing a lot of their own work under the title of Made in Colchester, they’re also a theatre lucky enough to receive some of the most esteemed touring plays to hit the UK. With their current productions including ‘An Evening With Pam Ayres’, ‘Three Men In A Boat’ and the international smash hit comedy ‘Bouncers’, it would appear the theatre is one busy hub of theatrics.

Here’s what Robin had to say on his experiences with social media and the digital world in which the theatre has become so heavily involved in.

Could you describe your company’s activity on social networks?
We’ve put a lot of effort into growing our social media connections over the last year, including quite a significant spend on boosted and promoted posts in order to grow ahead of the organic ‘curve’. We use social media both as a customer service channel and to add value to the Mercury brand and customer experience. We share behind-the-scenes content, run competitions, respond to questions and reviews and also try and involve our audience in productions with things like prop requests or events and tours.

Are there elements of your company now that would not have been possible without social media?
Social media helps us to deliver on two major strategic priorities – to attract more first-time attenders and increase the proportions of customers who become repeat attenders. Increasing re-attendance is about building a relationship that goes beyond individual shows and growing a connection with the venue and the team here.

How has your relationship with your customers/clients changed with the dawn of social media?
As we’re increasingly less constrained by cost-heavy formats like brochures and newspaper advertising, we can actually share much more content that’s of interest. We’re also receiving more feedback than ever and have put in place new processes to ensure that we’re capturing feedback through all channels and acting on it. A single Facebook comment or a Tripadvisor review can be a ‘light bulb moment’ and have a significant impact on how we work.

Which social media campaigns or accounts have really caught your eye recently?
The LAD Bible – it has over 9m likes on Facebook and although I’m not one of them, their highly shareable (and frequently Not Safe For Work!) content regularly surfaces in my News Feed because of the high level of engagement my friends have with them. While this says a lot about my friends it’s also a testament to The LAD Bible’s understanding of what motivates their audience, and how compelling the power of surprising content can be.

What have you found to be the most positive and negative aspects of using social media for your company?
The answer to both is audience feedback – the nature of live performance is that most of the time, the shows are hits (a lot of effort goes into selecting shows which are right for us) but occasionally there are misses. That’s incredibly valuable because it helps us continually refine the programme in a way that’s helped us grow the audience here and dramatically increase the number of first timers. There’s no doubt however that when a show’s a ‘miss’ it’s challenging to receive the feedback.

What advice would you give to businesses looking to improve their social media activity?
Be bold. Be ambitious. Don’t be afraid to stand out. Link your activity to your organisation’s strategic goals wherever you can. Be open to change and be prepared to be lead by your audience; it’s a democratic space and all participants in it hold some of the ‘power’ together. Ultimately, be authentic and credible. Your audience will know if they are being marketed to or if you’re being fake. Finally, do twice as much listening as talking because you’ll be a better business for it.

For more information on the Mercury Theatre and their latest productions follow them on Twitter @mercurytheatre or call the box office on 01206 573948.