Friday, 25 February 2011

The HUB Phase Two Launch!

eskimosoup have been appointed to deliver a second phase of development to The HUB Yorkshire and Humber Working For Mental Health website in order to provide a valuable online resource for employers, employees and practitioners.

The HUB Yorkshire and Humber provides information and dedicated links to resources, and is a communication tool for people to discuss mental health in the workplace. The majority of people will have experience of mental ill health at some stage in their life; this is completely normal and part of what we deal with in everyday life. The HUB helps a range of people understand and manage these issues.

eskimosoup’s Marketing Director John Gilbert launched the 2nd phase at the ‘Sharing Learning, Sharing Excellence’ conference in Mega Centre Sheffield on 17th February to an audience of over 200 people.

We have now begun work on bringing the website to life through regular content updates, social media and showcasing events and the great being done in the field of workplace mental health across the region.

The first phase of the HUB Yorkshire and Humber can be found here:

Monday, 21 February 2011

I volunteer for the Big Society!

David Cameron looked to dismiss scepticism and relaunch his idea of the Big Society with a passionate speech at Somerset House on Monday. Unfortunately for the Prime Minister, his intention to reassert that his flagship project was not a smokescreen for privatisation was somewhat hampered by the news that American firms could take over the running of English libraries. Other private companies were also revealed to be ahead of community and voluntary groups in tendering for public services.

So, it didn't go quite according to plan, but here at the Rewarding Marketing Blog, we don't want to focus on the negatives. Instead, I've decide to embrace the ethos of the Big Society and try to volunteer my services. Rather than sign up with a voluntary organisation and doing the usual thing of helping out in a Charity store or some such, I'm going to look to where I can help utilizing my specialist skills in Social Media.

Obviously, as this is voluntary, I won't be employed by eskimosoup. Therefore, I'll avoid any conflicts of interest by steering clear of our usual target markets, such as the NHS, as well as Charities and Social Enterprises. Ideally, I need somewhere who simply wouldn't have the budget to invest in Social Media. so there's no chance of taking work that we might otherwise be paid for.

It would be great to stay within the Public sector though, to keep relevance with our blog themes. In our home city of Hull, one of the least funded and promoted sectors of our society is the arts. We're not alone in this, with many local councils having this way down their agenda and funding in general is usually very limited. In these times of austerity and cuts, this situation is likely to go from bad to worse.

Hull City Council is not actually obliged to provide anything for arts, but despite this, does offer support through their City Arts Unit and manages the wonderful Ferens Art Gallery in the city centre.

Ferens is the largest gallery in Hull and welcomes tens of thousands of visitor to it's permanent and roving exhibitions. It's long running Open Exhibition has just launched, showcasing hundreds of pieces by local artists for the next three months.

The one thing lacking with Ferens is it's online promotion. There's a basic page on the Council website, a wikipedia entry and little else. Hull has a vibrant artistic community and the gallery is well known and regarded by our population, so at the very least, a well presented facebook page could be of real benefit and should be a success. However, with Council budget cuts and art already being near the bottom of the pile, it's unlikely that this will materialize in the near future.

Unless, of course, I create one for them. I already have an interest in arts in Hull and by volunteering my Social Media skills, I'm confident I could really help promote the gallery. I've arranged a meeting and I'll let you know how I get on.

As well as participating in the Big Society, there's a secondary reason for my volunteering. As discussed in a previous article, I'm a strong advocate for Social Media as possibly the most cost effective form of marketing, making it ideal for the current cash strapped climate. If, as I hope, Ferens will be happy to accept my offer, then the project will demonstrate this, showing what can be done with no cost, other than the time of an experienced marketing professional.

Wish me luck!

Friday, 18 February 2011

Just how difficult is it to volunteer for the Big Society?

There's an article over at the Evening Standard, where the reporter tells of a friends attempts to volunteer. The piece looks to do what we have often done before, claiming that no matter the real world doubts over the Governments sincerity, the concept of the Big Society is something to be strived for. Unfortunately, the friend found themselves unable to volunteer, as the familiar story of cuts  meant her intended Charity had to downsize and could not take her on.

This has been one of the bones of contention in the Big Society. The Coalition Government  wants voluntary and community groups to take on more public services, but at the same time cuts their funding. Like with the NHS and an increasing number of public services, it seems to be a case of do more, with less.

When that is the case, innovation is often part, if not all of the answer.

As we've said in recent articles, there are ways and means, such as using Social Media to deliver more effective Social Marketing for a fraction of the cost of traditional methods. Perhaps an innovative approach to volunteering may also work.

The volunteering scheme cut in the Evening Standard story, was a befriending scheme ran by Age Concern. A hugely valid and useful service, but obviously with costs associated. Alternative ways of keeping the service going are being looked at, so best of luck to them. and yet, where does the cost need to be in this? Certainly admin, but the main backbone of the scheme is man hours and being voluntary, they're free.

That's the sort of schemes that are needed, where as much as possible, the only spend is in man hours. If these were possible, funding and cuts would make no difference. It's a crazy situation when the valuable hours a volunteer offers are turned down because there's no money to put them to use. There's surely another way, so as to not let this precious time go to waste.

In my specialist area of Social Media, and to a certain extent in virtually all online work, there's no capital expenditure in creation and promotion, as there's no actual physical product. The only cost is time. This makes me think that people like me, working in computers, could volunteer their services, regardless of the funding available to the body approached.

Hmmm, I'm going to think about this over the weekend and report back on Monday.

The Arena website launch

eskimosoup have completed the re-design and re-build of Arena’s shiny new website. The new design makes use of modern technologies and highlights Arena’s passion for customer service.

Arena Group is a leading business in photocopiers, managed print services, IT and electronic document management. They provide the hardware, software and service support that organisations need to copy, print, scan, distribute, archive and retrieve their documents. Their aim is always to help reduce costs and make organisations more efficient.

The website includes a fully featured content management system and integrates with their existing customer support tools.

The website has now gone live and can be viewed at

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Remarkable Experiences up for Awards

Hull Comedy Festival and St Stephen’s Shopping Centre have been short listed for the region’s most “Remarkable Experience” at the Real East Yorkshire Tourism Awards.

Since it was formed in 2007, eskimosoup have run Hull Comedy Festival. It has grown to become Hull and East Riding’s largest ticketed festival and in 2010 achieved record-breaking sales at 95% of the target across over 40 shows.

eskimosoup also look after the PR and Events for St Stephens Shopping Centre in Hull and support the management team through their ongoing programme of social investment as well as being the region’s most stylish shopping hot spot.

This makes the vote even harder to choose between our very own side splitting Comedy Festival or one of our amazing local clients? You have the chance to make a difference! (We are not sure how rigorous their system is, though might be worth trying to vote for both???)

Click here to make your vote now.

The winner of this prestigious award will be announced and presented at the Bridlington Spa on March the 24th with an awards ceremony.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

eskimosoup Case Study: NHS Provider Services Website

Here's the sixth in our series of showcases for eskimosoup's work.

Following a successful tender process, eskimosoup were appointed to help City Health Care Partnership launch their new public facing organisation, so that commissioners, GPs and members of the public can understand the range of health services available.

Visit the website here.

NHS City Health Care Partnership

Valentine Vault winner proposes on stage!

Simon Forrester and Tereza Vannucci from Anlaby, Hull had an a truly unforgettable Valentine’s Day when Simon won a £5750 solitaire diamond ring in the Valentine Vault competition presented as a partnership between two eskimosoup clients; Hugh Rice Jewellers and St Stephen’s Shopping Centre.

When Simon opened the safe with the wining combination code, he couldn’t believe his luck. But Simon didn’t hesitate in inviting his long-term partner onto the stage to propose to her with the special ring!

Simon and Tereza have been together for 12 years and have three children. They have wanted to tie the knot for years but the expenses of everyday living have got in the way. Simon said: “I’ve never won anything in my life, so to win such a massive prize is fantastic. It’s even more special now that Tereza has agreed to be my wife. The ring looks absolutely stunning.”

Tereza was over the moon and is already thinking about planning the wedding. Tereza said: “We had planned a weekend away for our birthdays so I went along to St Stephen’s to buy a new outfit. I saw the Valentine Vault and entered the competition. It’s a fantastic story to tell the kids when they’re older about how Mum and Dad got married. I’d anticipated the proposal for quite some time, but I didn’t expect Simon to ask me on stage in St Stephen’s!”

The competition which offered an unprecedented prize in this region attracted more than 3000 entries.

Jim Harris, Centre Manager at St Stephen’s said: “The Valentine Vault competition was a once in a lifetime opportunity to win a £5000 solitaire diamond ring on Valentine’s Day. We’re delighted that Simon and Tereza received the incredible fine diamond solitaire ring from one of the region’s diamond experts. It makes a fabulous engagement ring!”

Mike Rice, Managing Director of Hugh Rice Jewellers said: “This prize really is something special – we selected one of our best diamonds to give away! As the region’s leading jeweller we always want to make Valentine’s Day extra special but it will be totally unforgettable for Simon and Tereza this year”.

eskimosoup will be working with St Stephen’s and Hugh Rice Jewellers on an ongoing basis, though the outcome of this successful campaign is going to take some beating!

Monday, 14 February 2011

What if Cannabis could cure Cancer?

That's certainly a controversial headline and an attention grabber. It's also the title of a new documentary being referred to increasingly in the blogosphere. It's perhaps too early to describe the reaction as 'buzz', but it's getting there. Personally, I haven't seen the film and yet, I'm still writing about it here.

It's not really the film's message that I'm interested in, but rather it's potential to spread and alter opinion, especially if it's a message that goes contrary to the agendas of Government, the Health Service and Business. With the Internet, a catchy title and an intriguing premise can go a long way.  Even if people don't actually watch the the 50 minute documentary, they may still be influenced.

How can the Government counter that?

Look at the current bad press around the NHS Reforms, which in turn lead on to the whole issue of the Big Society. Especially since publication of the Health and Social Care Bill a few weeks ago, there's been an increasing number of articles with a negative outlook on the proposed changes. These can not only be read online, but shared via Social Media platforms, making their reach and potential influence massive.

Again, how can the Government counter that?

In our Social Media workshops which we run, a key subject is dealing with negative comments online. It's of paramount importance for any individual, organisation or company with a reputation to damage, that they monitor what's been said about them online and take appropriate action. Addressing a complaint early, before it's spreads, can prevent untold damage.

An example we often give is that of musician, Dave Caroll and his experience of United Airlines. Dave was unsatisfied with the airlines responses when their baggage handlers broke one of his guitars and decided to write a song on the subject. Publishing it with an accompanying video on Youtube, it quickly spread and became an internet phenomenon, with at the time of writing, close to 10 million views. United Airlines did finally offer satisfactory compensation to Dave, but to a large extent, the damage had already been done. An earlier response would have saved that and it's certainly a lesson in the power of the individual in this digital age.

So what can and should be done? In a word, engagement.

Engagement is a term used a lot nowadays, but not everyone who uses it, really follows through on it's promise. Many may emphasise it's importance and utilise platforms, such as Social Media, where it's enabled, but still push out a message without fully considering or responding to feedback.

Engagement is a two way street, with all parties having to listen. Opinions and views need to be understood, responded to and either acted on or provided with a valid and satisfactory reason why not. This applies across the board, whether in the Private, Public or Third Sector.

That's what has made many Doctors angry with how the Government have gone about the NHS reforms. The engagement strategy of consultations following the proposals in last year's white paper, brought many concerns that seemd to have had  no bearing on the end result of the Bill. Doctors felt they weren't listened to, which must have been particularly annoying for them, as people do usually listen to what they have to say. After all, it's their job to provide expert opinions.

The Prime Minister looked to ease that anger and answer those concerns with his message through But it was a one way message, with no facility to reply, so yet again, lacking true engagement.

Whether it's a controversial message or negative comments, they're there for people to see and spread. The only way to  have an impact on that is to get in early and talk with those involved. Before the Internet, ignoring those voices may have been an option, but now, the Government or anybody else does so at their peril.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Tight Marketing Budget? Social Media could be the Solution.

News comes from Blackburn and Darwen Council that due to budget cuts, they are having to reduce the number of people in their marketing and communications teams. These not only take care of the Council's, but also the local NHS's media and advertising projects. Manchester City Council are in a similar situation and it's a safe bet that others will follow.

Here at eskimosoup, where we specialize in Social and Public Health Marketing, we've heard the same is true of some PCT's. Tight budgets and uncertainty about the future have led to somewhat of a freeze on activities. If, as planned, responsibilities for Public Health moves over to Councils, their smaller teams may struggle even more with the extra work.

All in all, it looks like Social and Public Health Marketing will suffer through this time of change and austerity.

It's often the case with Private firms, especially the smaller ones, that the Marketing budget is the first to feel the pinch when money is tight. People tend to hold on to what they've got and try to weather the storm, rather than speculating to accumulate.

It's obviously different with Social and Public Health Marketing, with the end result not being to make more money. However, as the outcome is generally better population health and the method is preventative, there should be savings in reduced hospital and clinician time with less patients.

But as with Corporate Marketing, television and newspaper adverts, leaflets, posters and the rest, do cost money and the budget for a campaign can be high. Whether Commercial or Public Sector, Marketing should always be measured against targets and outcomes, and justifying a large layout when attaining those outcomes and targets isn't certain, can be difficult.

Which is why, time and time again I find myself extolling the virtues of Social Media. It's reach and influence far outstrips any other marketing method and the costs involved are tiny. Even with huge budgets, it would be a struggle to match what Social Media can do for much less financial investment..

It's the perfect solution to continuing marketing with limited funds and I urge anyone considering abandoning campaigns to consider how they could be run through Social Media. We're here to help, if anyone would like further advice.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

eskimosoup supports Yorkshire's leading IT company

eskimosoup are really pleased to be working with Intrasource part of Intragroup

eskimosoup has developed a direct marketing and telemarketing plan, which includes specific timescales and measurables in order to achieve the goals of the business plan.

Having prepared the plan our team are busy copywriting, designing and printing brochures, training the sales team and putting in place an email campaign and measures to evaluate the crucial return on investment.

Intrasource are a leading (and very friendly) Yorkshire IT company that has serviced the region since 2000, they service over 4000 users across the world and are now working on their next expansion phase. For more information on the services Intrasource can offer you please visit their website

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

eskimosoup client in the spotlight

Today eskimosoup helped one of our key clients; St Stephen’s Shopping Centre, create awareness of their steps towards helping the Hull’s green energy agenda.

As part of an ongoing PR strategy for the city’s leading shopping centre, eskimosoup has developed an ongoing programme of media activity that is helping to show that St Stephen’s is committed to the strength of the region’s environment, economy and social objectives.

Centre Manager Jim Harris said “Since eskimosoup took over as our PR lead St Stephen’s have received a significant increase in positive media coverage and on the events side its clear to us that you really do care about things being right and keen eye for detail. Keep up the good work!”

The latest feature in the Hull and East Riding Mail can be read here.

To keep up-to-date with the latest news and upcoming events from St Stephen’s go to

eskimosoup Case Study: Keep Measles Out of Hull!

Here's the fifth in our series showcasing eskimosoup's work. We were commissioned by NHS Hull to develop and deliver their first Social Media marketing campaign.

The Approach

eskimosoup developed a participative campaign approach, striking visuals and facilitated educational workshops for three primary schools. Working with young children, we developed a range of promotional videos aimed at highlighting the dangers of measles and how parents in Hull can protect their children.

The products were promoted through a campaign of traditional PR and Social Media marketing.

The Outcomes
  • Over 1,000 interactions with the target market.
  • Significant increase in uptake of the MMR vaccine attributed to the campaign.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Should sleep disturbance be higher on the Public Health agenda?

An article over at the Guardian has drawn attention to the high level of sleep disorders suffered by the British population. It goes so far as to call the problem an epidemic, with new research indicating that up to two thirds of the country may have trouble sleeping.  With sleep disturbance affecting mood, concentration, energy levels and many other factors in an individual's well-being, and it being the most reported mental health complaint in the country, it arguably deserves as much, if not more attention on the Public Health agenda, than more high profile issues, such as smoking cessation and obesity.

The research comes from a survey conducted by the Mental Health Foundation, in conjunction with Sleepio, a new organisation devoted to easing the nation's sleeping troubles.  Founded by sleep expert, Professor Colin Espie, Sleepio aims to conduct the largest ever assessment of the UK's sleeping habits, through The Great British Sleep Survey.  In the spirit of the Big Society, the project is being helped by corporate partners like Boots and national newspapers, the Guardian and the Observer.

So far, over  8,000 people have completed the survey. Having such strong partners will no doubt lead to many more following suit, but Social Media could really help too. There are twitter and facebook sharing buttons throughout the associated websites and these will help uptake, with some viral possibility.

However, as high uptake is the main priority, stronger calls to action encouraging people to share , might be an idea. Actually hosting the survey on facebook, as well as it's own website, could also be a real help. It's a general rule that once people are on facebook, they're more likely to stay there than follow external links. The survey is fairly simple, so adapting it to be delivered via a Social Media application wouldn't be too tricky.

There's also another aspect of the overall project that Social Media could help with. The Mental Health Foundation states as one of it's recommendations that;

"Further research into low cost CBT-based interventions for sleep problems, such as self-help books and online courses, should be carried out."

As we highlighted here, research has found that Social Media games, such as farmville and mafiiawars, could be an extremely effective method of delivering CBT.  Not only that, but if sleep disturbance is such a widespread problem, then the reach that Social Media games have (again, discussed by us here) could make them a hugely useful tool in addressing a problem of such scale.

And as I've mentioned before, there's the financial cost. In these times of reform and austerity measures, where most of the responsibility for Public Health is being transferred from the NHS to local Councils, who are already strained by budget cuts, any initiatives have to be cost effective.  Although the research and development of a Social Media game would have a reasonable cost, that for delivery via  Social Media, would be relatively insignificant compared to other ways.

You would be hard pushed to find a cheaper method of making such big difference and in the current climate, that's more important than ever.

Give your loved one a gift with a major WOW factor this Valentine’s Day

St Stephen’s Shopping Centre has teamed up with Hugh Rice Jewellers; Hull’s Premier jewellery retailer, to give you the opportunity to win a diamond solitaire ring worth £5,000 with their Valentine’s Diamond prize draw.

The campaign was devised and is being managed by the eskimosoup marketing and events team to form an effective collaboration between two of our clients.
The event is a highlight of a programme of events, PR and digital marketing for St Stephen’s, and kick starts a new PR strategy for Hugh Rice Jewellers.

The campaign is promoted through radio advertising, banner space, social media, email, web, media stories and with a giant safe in the middle of the High Street at St Stephen’s!

For your chance to win this amazing prize all you have to do is go to
Competition closes at midnight (GMT) on Saturday 12th February 2011. Here’s to hoping you’ll have a Valentine’s Day you will remember forever. Good Luck!

Friday, 4 February 2011

Will Doctors strike to oppose NHS reforms?

Anyone who even keeps a vague grasp of the News knows that health services in England are currently facing major change. The Coalition Government and Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, have recently published the Health and Social Care Bill, which proposes the biggest reorganisation of the NHS since it's birth. Until the bill is passed, many within the sector face an uncertain future, including suppliers such as ourselves. We've covered proposals fairly extensively over the past few months here at the Rewarding Marketing Blog, so there's no need to go through them again now.

But the change is by no means certain yet. The bill has had it's second reading in the House of Commons and is now at the Committee stage, so still has a long way to go before it's passed. Whether that actually happens will no doubt be affected by public opinion and especially by the attitudes of people within the health service itself.  If this is the case, then the growing groundswell of opposition must be starting to worry Lansley and David Cameron.

If an article over at the Independent is to be believed, then there's even the possibility of Doctors striking, which would be a massive, if not fatal blow to the reforms. The Prime Minister's recent message, attempting to allay GP's fears seems to have had little effect. Instead, according to the article;

"The mood among doctors has darkened in the last month since the Government published its response to the consultation on the White Paper in December, which largely dismissed doctors' criticisms, raising doubts over the BMA's "engagement" strategy."

We highlighted the fact that the Government's 'consultations' had made little difference to their intentions and it seems that this has indeed angered many Doctors. Though strike action is far from a certainty, the British Medical Association is calling an emergency meeting to discuss their next step, and the chair of the meeting, Dr Steve Hajioff, isn't ruling out the possibility of such a move.

The main problem that Doctors and many others have with the changes is the idea of competition and a market based system, with some fearing it's the first stages of actually privatising the NHS. Unfortunately for the chances of agreement, this also happens to be the Bill's essential element, without which the rest would fall apart. The Government has said that introducing competition is the main means by which improvements will be made.

Though not there yet, it does seem likely that this key issue could bring both sides to a stale mate. Doctors are so intrinsic to the reforms that they just couldn't happen without them. If they refuse to back down, then that could effectively put an end to Andrew Lansley's plans. Only time will tell.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Electric String website launch

eskimosoup have worked hard to design a small brochure website with flash and content management for a Hull based company called Electric String Ltd.

Electric String Ltd was created by a former yacht electronics design team James Symonds and James Ward. With combined experience of over 20 years in providing solutions for the super yacht and professional audio industries, Electric String Ltd was formed with the aim of delivering the highest quality design, expertise and service to give you the enjoyment that an expertly integrated yacht, home or corporate space gives.

The website has now gone live and can be viewed at We hope you like it as much as we do!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

eskimosoup Case Study: Strength to Change

Here's the fourth in our series showcasing our eskimosoup's work. Today's example was a project commissioned by the Hull Public Health Directorate.

The Challenge

  1. Design and print a published book to be used as a resource internationally so that health organisations can learn from Hull’s pioneering domestic violence service.

  2. Redevelop the Strength to Change website so that it is suitable for a range of visitors.

The Approach

We used a striking design to develop a book that told the story of the development, launch and implementation of the Strength to Change service. The style had to be accessible for multiple reader types including directors and public health professionals at the 152 Primary Care Trusts in England, as well as service users, and the Department of Health.