April Fools’ Day

April the first has rolled round once again and with it comes the job of trying to differentiate fact from fiction as we attempt not to fall for the pranksters’ tricks.

The exact history of April Fools’ Day, or All Fools’ Day, is unknown, but there are many theories. It has been suggested that precursors to April Fools’ Day include the Roman festival of Hilaria which was held on 25 March and the Medieval Feast of Fools, held on 28 December. Pranks are still played in Spanish-speaking countries on this date.

In Scotland, April Fools’ Day was called Hunt the Gowk Day – gowk being Scots for a foolish person.

No doubt in offices around the world many pranks have been played this morning already. The April Fools’ jokes haven’t been restricted to places of work. Over the years we’ve had to tread carefully while reading the newspaper or watching TV. Here are just a few:

  • In 1957, BBC got in on the act and broadcast a Swiss farmer harvesting freshly-grown spaghetti. The corporation was later inundated with requests from viewers looking to purchase a spaghetti plant, forcing it to declare it all a hoax in its news bulletins the following day.
  • Blackpool Zoo announced that it was launching a recruitment drive to find giraffe keepers in 2010. The prospective keepers had to be over 6ft 2in tall to even be considered for the role. The Zoo teamed up with GMTV for the stunt and the broadcaster encouraged viewers to visit its website for more information on the job, or sign a petition on heightism.
  • GMTV was involved in another April Fool in 2008. This time it was Yorkshire Water that provided the idea, which actually formed the first stage of its quality water campaign. The firm was to ‘launch’ diet tap water that could be plumbed into consumers’ homes. It provided a freephone number for people to find out more and in the 12 hours following the TV broadcast more than 10,000 had called.

  • Last year, The Guardian unveiled a new way to read the paper. Lois P Farlo reported on a groundbreaking pair of web-connected augmented reality glasses that would beam its journalism directly into the wearer’s field of vision. It all sounds farfetched, but aren’t Google already planning something similar? Read the full Guardian article here.
  • Advertisers get in on the act too. In 2013, BMW cashed in on the royal baby craze that was sweeping the nation by announcing the arrival of its P.R.A.M or Postnatal Royal Auto Mobile. If you were interested in purchasing one you were asked to e-mail Joe King.

BMW P.R.A.M

Today’s crop

What has made the news today? Well, The Sun has reported that Her Majesty is going to drill for oil at Buckingham Palace, while Vegemite is to launch a new energy drink called Vegemite iDRINK 2.1.

If you had a boiled egg for breakfast this morning while watching ITV’s Daybreak don’t rush out to purchase new egg cups. The story of a farmer managing to rear hens that lay square eggs may have been cracking, but in reality it’s half-baked.

The newspapers weren’t afraid to wade into the debate on the Scottish independence referendum today either. The Guardian had an exclusive story that in the event of Scotland gaining independence from the rest of the UK it would switch to driving on the right. It even posted a video on its website to explain the changes and how they would work at the border. While The Daily Telegraph’s Flora Poli revealed the Scottish Government’s plan for the Scottish pound or Salmond Sterling. In place of The Queen each coin would be adorned by Alex Salmond. Perhaps we need more humorous stories like this before 18 September.

Read with care out there today. If you spot articles from Lois P Farlo, Flora Poli or even Paolo Frils, don’t believe everything you read. And remember, if you’re planning an April Fools’ joke make sure you do it by midday or the joke is on you.

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Energy publications

Some of the publications that support the global oil and gas sectorAberdeen is the heart of the European oil and gas industry and there is a wide range of publications that cover this important sector.  With the rise of online media the number of platforms has increased in recent years.  Here are some of the media, both print and online, that many of our clients feature in.

The Press & Journal – Aberdeen’s daily newspaper covers the sector in each daily and has a monthly supplement called Energy.  The paper launched an online news service called Energy Voice.

Roustabout Energy International is a long-standing monthly Aberdeen energy publication.  Over the past 40 years it has charted the development of the industry in the north-east of Scotland, but also features international news.

Platform is another Aberdeen-based monthly magazine publication and its digital version can be read at www.platform-oilandgas.com.

Oilonline.com is the online home for well-established magazines Offshore Engineer and Asian Oil & Gas.

Oilvoice.com is an online news service bringing together news of the global oil and gas industry.  It provides daily and weekly e-newsletters to subscribers’ inboxes and also publishes a digital magazine on its website.

Offshore-technology.com is another online news service dedicated to the global oil and gas industry.  It also produces a digital magazine called Offshore Technology Focus.

Published since 1944 by the International Association of Drilling Contractors, Drilling Contractor magazine covers the global completion and drilling industry, onshore and offshore.

Hart’s E&P is another long-standing energy industry publication.  It informs exploration, drilling and production operations managers, onshore and offshore and in all parts of the world, about the trends and technology they need to do their jobs more efficiently.

There are many other titles and we will add them to this post in the coming days.

Mission Christmas Appeal Takes Off With Bond’s Help

Cash for Kids logoInnes Associates has been supporting Cash for Kids over the past year and yesterday we helped to launch the charity’s annual Christmas present appeal.  Read the full story below or head to www.northsound1.com/mission-christmas or www.northsound1.com/charity/ to find out how you can help.

Mission Christmas Appeal Takes Off With Bond’s Help

Cash for Kids' Mission ChristmasAn annual festive campaign to ensure that underprivileged children living in north-east Scotland receive a present this Christmas has been officially launched by Aberdeen charity Cash for Kids.

The charity’s Mission Christmas appeal encourages members of the public to purchase an extra toy or gift when they are doing their Christmas shopping and donate it unwrapped to the appeal.  Cash for Kids has set up 20 donation points across the north-east in order to make it as easy as possible for people to donate items.

It is estimated that around 10,000 children in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire live in poverty.  Cash for Kids is one of a number of local charities that run an annual Christmas toy appeal in order to provide these children with at least one toy or gift on Christmas day.

Bond Offshore Helicopters is the main sponsor of the appeal.  One of the firm’s pilots and Cash for Kids’ Courage the Cat were on hand to help Santa Claus load the first batch of presents bound for his workshop at the North Pole into one of Bond’s helicopters.  This year’s appeal was kick-started with a donation of 168 quality toys from Aberdeen’s Disney Store.

Last year’s Mission Christmas appeal saw around £160,000 worth of presents generously donated by individuals and businesses in the north-east.  This helped to ensure that 2,966 underprivileged children in the region were guaranteed a Christmas present.  Cash for Kids expects to fulfil a similar number of applications on behalf of children this year.

Mission Christmas appeal lifts off

Bond staff, Santa and Northsound DJs Greigsy and Aylissa launch the appeal

Michelle Herd, charity manager, said: “Christmas is a magical time of the year, but for thousands of children living in poverty in the north-east often it is not, with many not receiving a present.  Cash for Kids’ Mission Christmas appeal aims to ensure that as many children as possible in this situation wake up on Christmas morning to the joy of a new gift.

“Last year we distributed over 10,000 presents to youngsters in the area and we have already received over 1,000 applications on behalf of children.  All gifts and donations are gratefully received, no matter how large or small, and should be unwrapped.

“We are really pleased to have Bond as the main supporter of our appeal this year and their assistance is really appreciated.  The Mission Christmas appeal is a huge logistical task for us and we are indebted to everyone who helps to make it operate successfully.”

North Pole bound

Greigsy, Santa and Aylissa

Luke Farajallah, managing director, Bond Offshore Helicopters, said:  “Cash for Kids is one of the most worthy charities in Aberdeen, and as a locally based business we feel the responsibility to play our part in making Christmas a special time of year for all children.  It is heart-breaking to understand that 10,000 children in the Aberdeenshire area live in poverty, and it is this fact that has inspired us to step up and make a difference.

“We are extremely proud to be the main sponsor of this event, and we would urge local people and businesses to play their part by also making a donation, however small, in the full knowledge that they will be bringing some Christmas magic into the lives of the children who need it most.”

Cash for Kids is Northsound Radio’s listeners’ charity.  It makes grants to individuals, families, children’s groups, organisations and projects throughout the Northsound transmission area.  All money is raised locally and spent locally to benefit local disabled and disadvantaged children and young people under 18.  More information on Cash for Kids can be found at www.northsound1.com/charity, or telephone 01224 337010.

Innes Associates helps to mark some milestones

Innes Associates at 10It seems that 2013 is quite a good year to be celebrating an anniversary in Aberdeen.  This  year Innes Associates celebrates a decade a business and we’re not alone in reaching a significant milestone.

Also celebrating ten years in business are subsea intervention firm Bibby Offshore and Belmont Street eatery Books and Beans.  Others who are blowing out candles on the top of their tenth birthday cakes are the Press & Journal’s monthly Energy supplement and Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce’s Northern Star Business Awards.

This year marks 40 years since the first Offshore Europe exhibition and conference was staged in the city.  Originally held at the University of Aberdeen and called Offshore Scotland, the event has grown into the largest oil and gas production event in the eastern hemisphere.  This year’s event is expected to attract over 1,500 exhibitors and welcome around 50,000 visitors over its four days.

Another Aberdeen business celebrating a major landmark is Roustabout Energy International, one of the leading oil and gas publications in north-east Scotland.  Its first magazine came off the printing press in September 1972 and nearly 41 years later its 500th edition has just been printed.  Thanks to modern technology you don’t have to have a printed copy to be able toread it as its digital version can be read on a desktop, tablet or mobile phone.

Charlie Innes

Charlie Innes, managing director, Innes Associates

It was this combination of advancing technology and significant milestones that led to Innes Associates managing director Charlie Innes putting pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – to look at how technology and the way we communicate has evolved over the past 40 years.  From telex machines to touchscreens and tablets, and how jobs in the oil industry have changed, are all covered.  To read the full article and have a look at the new look Roustabout Energy International has received to mark the 500th issue visit their website.  You might also spot a dashing young Charlie Innes!

Can running benefit your business performance?

The name McLaren has long been associated with speed and never more so than in the Innes Associates’ office of late…

Our very own PR account manager Ian McLaren recently completed a hat trick of 10K runs held in the north-east and at each of these events – The Glenlivet 10K, Run Balmoral and the City of Aberdeen Baker Hughes 10k – he finished in under 45 minutes. (Well done again!)Ian_McLaren_Race

Like many exercise enthusiasts, Ian enjoys running for a variety of reasons. Along with all the well-documented benefits, there is now a growing belief that working out can help a business’s bottom line as well as the employees’ waistlines!

According to Zest magazine you can increase your mental functions by going running as it boosts blood flow to the brain and helps it receive oxygen and nutrients, making you more productive at work. This theory is echoed by greatruntraining.org, which also states that running is positively beneficial to your grey matter. Their website quotes a recent Swedish study, which found a clear link between high levels of aerobic fitness and better results in an IQ test – making running the ideal workout for a brain boost.

Many businesses today also encourage staff to take on physical challenges in order to raise money for worthwhile causes and, indeed, Ian used his trio of races to gather sponsorship for VSA, one of Aberdeen’s major social care charities.

Increased fitness + increased mental agility + increased support for good causes = a very healthy hobby. Time to grab those trainers?

Small businesses warned not to skimp on marketing

Improved marketing could add value for SMEs.

Improved marketing could add value for SMEs.

Recent research carried out by technology services company Pitney Bowes and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) reveals that the SME sector is losing out on up to £11 billion in sales by allowing marketing to slip off the radar. While 77% of companies recognise that marketing is important to the success of their business, a third rate their efforts over the last six months at under five out of ten, with 11 per cent admitting to doing none of the marketing they had planned.  When asked what’s holding them back, SME owners cite time (21 per cent) and money (36 per cent).

At Innes Associates we understand the challenges faced by SMEs and work closely with our clients to develop marketing plans and communication activities that deliver. Keen to chat things through? Simply get in touch to arrange a no obligation consultation.

The full article about the benefits of improved marketing for small and medium-sized companies is available to view here.

Augmented Reality (AR)

It’s been around for a while but we’re hearing more and more about augmented reality or ‘AR’ as it is often abbreviated to.  So what exactly is augmented reality, how does it work and how might it affect the way that you communicate with your customers?  Read on to find out more…

What is augmented reality?

Wikipedia describes augmented reality as ‘a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.’ 

A shorter – and perhaps simpler – description is provided by Oxford dictionaries. It refers to augmented reality as ‘a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.’

Augmented reality is different from virtual reality, where the real world is replaced with a simulated one.

How does it work?

The reasonably new technology of augmented reality blurs the line between what’s real and what’s computer-generated by enhancing what we see, hear, feel and smell.  The basic concept behind AR is to superimpose graphics, audio and other sensory enhancements over a real-world environment in real time.

Perhaps the best way of understanding augmented reality is to experience the technology in action.  You may have already done so without realising it – particularly if you are an IKEA customer.  The Swedish furniture giant’s 2013 catalogue app was the most downloaded branded app of 2012 and featured an augmented reality viewer that allowed readers to use their tablet or smartphone to visualise furniture from its catalogue in 3D, along with related video and digital content.

A recent Business Insider article highlighted some recent clever AR campaigns that achieved what many organisations strive for: They created a positive ‘buzz’ around the brand.  A couple of our favourite examples are highlighted below:

Ford shows off some of the features of its Grand C-Max via an outdoor AR campaign that offers the next best thing to actually test driving the vehicle.

Food processing company, Heinz, uses augmented reality technology from blippar to allow customers to access a virtual cookbook by scanning their Heinz ketchup bottle. All of the different recipes used ketchup as their “secret ingredient”.

How can I use AR to communicate with my audience?

As smartphones and tablets are becoming increasingly sophisticated and their use more prevalent, augmented reality offers organisations another opportunity to bring their brands and products to life for prospective customers.  AR is therefore likely to secure a place in many companies’ advertising budgets in the future. It is estimated that the market for augmented reality in the US will reach $350 million in 2014, compared to $6 million in 2008.

As with many types of technology, there is always the risk that some will use augmented reality incorrectly, or in a ‘gimmicky’ fashion.  When used properly, however, AR has huge potential as part of an organisation’s marketing efforts. By its very nature, it allows individuals to interact with the brand and its products or services.

Augmented reality also offers new opportunities for non-commercial purposes, such as educational or charity campaigns.

Two very different examples below show how a charity has used AR to highlight the serious issue of domestic violence, while National Geographic embraced the technology to introduce members of the public to ancient dinosaurs.

Non-profit domestic abuse campaign

National Geographic’s live augmented reality campaign

If you would like some assistance with your organisation’s communication activities, please get in touch.