Regularly injecting a touch of creativity to an ongoing PR campaign is essential, even the best campaigns can become stale. In late 2012, we needed fresh ideas for our client OCF’s ongoing PR campaign [now entering its 6th year] to underpin its new PR plan and to augment a 10–year anniversary campaign.
OCF provides high performance data processing, data management and data storage solutions for UK businesses. It has a strong heritage of building server clusters or ‘supercomputers’ to meet customer-processing needs.
In 2012 the team at Mantis, working with Claire Robson, OCF’s marketing manager, conducted a brainstorm with nine management, sales and engineering staff from OCF. As a new initiative, we hoped it would become the first in an annual brainstorm series with the OCF team.
Prior to meeting, we researched forecasts, developments and predictions from the supercomputing market over the past 10-years. We collated all of the research into a succinct presentation that could be shared with the OCF team. We would use this content to give the brainstorm team a focus for conversation and to ensure the debate stayed on track. It would also mean that we have much greater chance of leaving the session with themes that could be directly linked to OCF’s 10-year anniversary campaign.
Three of our team travelled to OCF’s office in Sheffield. Claire from OCF had already arranged a room off site to ensure we got maximum attention and focus from the attendees.
Exercises that re-focus the group
Mantis structures each brainstorm to suit the goals, the participants, and the type of ideas we need. For OCF, we needed to get the group thinking more laterally and realising the power of individual perspective. We started the session by providing a sheet of paper to attendees and, asked them to draw what they were told, in this case a computer that lives in the jungle, eats pies, hates music, and enjoys chemistry experiments. As well as being an amusing ice-breaker, the results get people inspired by the diversity of interpretation and show that one person’s interpretation of a brief can bear no resemblance to a person with exactly the same amount of knowledge and experience. This levels the discussion and gets people thinking more openly about the ideas of others.
Divided into groups of three and led by a member of our team and Claire from OCF respectively, the groups were asked to review the research [2-years per group] and provide insight into truths / untruths of the research; major developments that year; significant product launches; acquisitions, etc. They were each given a specific list of questions to work through for each year, to help the flow of thought and to ensure we managed to get useful information back.
Breaking off into smaller groups also gave each member of the brainstorm session much more opportunity to generate a more detailed, creative approach. It also helped to bring different perspectives and views to the exercise without the overall session being dominated by a small number of opinions.
Each group presented their insight back to the whole room, which created further opportunity to cross-reference perspectives and views, and extract additional information from those gathered.
Lastly, we asked the collective group to review a Mantis Market Intelligence [MMI] issues curve relating to the supercomputing industry in 2012. The MMI is a client-specific look at the issues that are affecting their business and their influencers. It highlights whether those issues are warm and emerging, current and hot, or cooling off and becoming less exciting to be associated with. It is a graphic representation and analysis. We asked the attendees to collectively share their views and thoughts.
Working up the ideas
Post the brainstorm; Mantis has used OCF’s insight to create eleven themes for use with future media, social media and marketing activities. We prioritised each theme based on OCF’s strategic needs and our understanding of media interest in those themes at that point in time. We made recommendations for specific activities which could come from each theme – blog posts, articles, rapid response comments, etc. Lastly, we worked the themes into our new PR plan and set to work.