DigitalU 2018 eBook – key insights from professionals working in the digital world

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About Digital U 

Enabling A Digital (And Diverse) North

Badger Badger Mushroom Snake

How To Engage The Right Stakeholders In A Digital B2B Buyers World

The Importance Of High Quality Photography And Personal Imagery: First Impressions Online

Enabling Business Growth By Embedding Cybersecurity Foundations With A Collaborative Approach

Communications Strategy Isn’t Voodoo

The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Technology    

About DigitalU

DigitalU was a business event that brought together business owners, social media executives, cyber security top dogs and creatives to meet, present, share and network. The event was held at the Aspire events space in Leeds City centre. It was a day of talks, sharing skills, ideas and stories with an audience of students, business owners and colleagues. The event aimed to support the growing business potential of the north as a ‘northern powerhouse’ by unifying our skills in the digital age.


How did we do it?

So, once the venue and the speakers were established, the next thing to get down to was marketing the event. We created a facebook page for information and regular updates on what would be happening at the event. We linked the facebook page to eventbrite, the host site for the purchase of tickets to the event…Now for the exciting stuff!


Content Content Content!

We created short, fun videos that used keywords to capture the message of the event quickly and effectively. As the event was a conference where various industry professionals would be speaking, we posted regular updates and bios of speakers, so as to attract audiences to the range of industry professionals that would be at the event. We posted images, updates and more to make our event something the public wanted to engage with. We created maximum reach by using keyword hashtags to attract our target audience. If there is not online content for your event, and your page lies dormant until the day of your event, who’s going to know about it? Who’s going to want to come? Content helps to constantly remind your audience that this event is for them, it is your opportunity to convince people your event is a must.


The next step was to refine our target audience, we reached out to universities, posted our content on linkedin and used hashtags on twitter to attract a large but targeted audiences. As the event was educational and focussed on business, we knew that it was both an educational opportunity for students and professionals alike. Thus, we reached out to university institutions and businesses with information on the event. Emails that are beautiful but simple to read and have links to buy tickets and explore social media are one of the best ways to get audiences engaging. Why send a thread of emails with various ‘bits’ of info when all the links, info and images are right there in one email? There is the risk of people not opening your email, but making you emails beautiful and compatible with make audiences more willing to engage with your content.


Once we’d sold enough tickets and the event was ready and underway, we utilised social media channels to live stream, post images, and engage with both people at the event and at home. And that’s it! If you enjoyed our journey of Social Media Marketing for DigitalU, follow our social media channels for more hints and tips, and updates on our next event!


Enabling A Digital (And Diverse) North

By Sarah Tulip, COO, aql 

Sarah Tulip aql COO Leeds












I work for aql, the smart telecoms operator founded by Prof. Adam Beaumont. We do all kinds of things – messaging, voice, data centre services, connectivity, M2M, IoT – but there’s always one goal at the heart of everything: Connecting people to make society better.

That focus drives every decision we make. It’s why we’ve spent a decade investing in the North’s digital infrastructure. It’s why we build partnerships and encourage collaboration between companies, Government and other stakeholders. It’s why we’re so dedicated to community and diversity outreach.

And that goal, with everything it entails, means we play a core role in the digital and technological success of the region.

Because of where we operate in the industry, as a ‘hidden enabler’ and a wholesaler selling to other businesses, people interact with our services every day, across every sector – healthcare, transport, banking, government, entertainment, retail – without ever knowing it. If you’ve streamed video in the North, there’s a good chance you’ve interacted with aql. If you’ve called or texted through the biggest ridesharing or property rental apps in the UK, you’ve used aql’s services.

Adam sometimes describes us as ‘internet plumbers’ and that gets to the heart of our role in the ecosystem. Some people build consumer applications, but we’re interested in the silent tech, the behind-the-scenes stuff on top of which everything runs.

 We’ve built major parts of the internet infrastructure in the North, which means we’re responsible for a lot of the data flowing through the North of England. This includes the Northern internet exchange, IXLeeds, the first fully-independent exchange in the country. This infrastructure makes it possible to run a digital business in the region – creating thousands of jobs, kick-starting a thriving digital sector and driving significant economic growth.

As a ‘city enabler’, we’re building the supporting engineering behind next generation networks. The work we’re doing at the moment will make Leeds one of the UK’s first 5G test cities, and a hub for technologies such as driverless cars and delivery drones. That’s one of the biggest focuses for us as a business right now and it makes this a very exciting next couple of years for everyone who lives and works in Leeds.

Outside and around my day job, my focus is on women in technology and business. I use my platform to speak about the issues we face and to create opportunities for women and girls across the region.

Growing up, it was hard to find role models. My small town wasn’t home to technology companies or big businesses – and even in larger cities, the number of women high up in business was depressingly small. If I couldn’t find a good role model, I wanted to be one, to help make sure the next generation didn’t have that problem.

One of my major focuses is getting girls into tech as early as possible. As an ambassador for Ahead Partnership – an organisation that works with employers and educators to motivate young people around skills, career options and future employment – I hold the annual GirlTech event at aql’s HQ. We host 140 young girls to introduce them to opportunities in tech and encourage them to pursue digital subjects in their GCSEs. This year saw a 95{33d7c0df11491bef0a83a5572f72da1db43863fc7231004dc84653268afd12df} increase in the number considering a career in the sector.

Things don’t change overnight, of course, or even linearly. I sit on aql’s board and, as a woman, that can be a lonely place when you look at the stats: the UK gender pay gap sits at 18{33d7c0df11491bef0a83a5572f72da1db43863fc7231004dc84653268afd12df}; only 7{33d7c0df11491bef0a83a5572f72da1db43863fc7231004dc84653268afd12df} of FTSE 100 CEOs are women; less than 25{33d7c0df11491bef0a83a5572f72da1db43863fc7231004dc84653268afd12df} of executive board positions in the UK are held by women; and the number of women at executive director level decreased in 2017.

We know, though, that diversity at a senior level produces the most successful organisations, which is why we need to keep pushing. My mission is to show girls that tech isn’t a boys’ club any more – there are women doing amazing, inspiring things in our industry, and this next generation can take that to another level. That’s what makes me so hopeful whenever I meet young girls. The spark is clearly there. We just have to ignite it.

Supporting women in the workplace is the right thing to do, obviously – that should go without saying – but it also goes hand-in-hand with aql’s digital infrastructure investments and our efforts to build partnerships and collaboration. It’s another way of connecting people to make society better, of driving innovation and creating opportunities for everyone.

We need both the enabling infrastructure and a representative workforce to drive sustainable, long-term growth in the region. If we get those things right, the North has the potential to be our most important digital hub, and the most dynamic growth engine in the UK economy.

A little more about Sarah

Sarah Tulip is the COO of smart telecoms operator aql. She’s responsible for operations, people and strategy. Before joining aql in 2016, Sarah was managing director of a recruitment consultancy and head of talent acquisition at Ten10, the UK’s largest independent software testing management consultancy, where she built, from scratch, the company’s award-winning graduate programme. A champion of diversity, Sarah is involved with a number of organisations and initiatives to get girls into tech. As an ambassador for Ahead Partnership, she gave the keynote at last month’s GirlTech event to 140 thirteen-year-old girls to encourage them to pursue digital subjects. Sarah is a key voice in the Northern Powerhouse and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, through which she contributes to the formulation of national policy on social inclusion. She plays active leadership roles with Leeds Digital Festival and Leeds International Festival. She sits on the Leeds Digital Board; on Leeds City Council’s committee to address skills gaps and shortages in the city; and works on other citywide council groups around Brexit, retaining talent and developing skills. She was named on Northern Power Women’s Future List in 2017 for her work around diversity in the IT industry and was nominated this year for Business Role Model of the Year at the Women in IT Awards.

Connect with Sarah here:

You can follow aql on Twitter here:


Badger Badger Mushroom Snake…

By Chris Morris, Shoo Social Media

Chris Morris Co-Founder












Hi, I’m Chris, co-owner of Shoo Social Media Ltd and we get small and medium enterprises amazing results from social media marketing while giving marketing managers and business owners the time back in the business to be more productive; doing what they enjoy or are good at!

When I was asked to come up with a presentation for today I  thought back to recent common questions I have been asked. e: How do I get more views? How do I improve my engagement levels on social media? How do I generate more leads for my business? I thought, content, content, content…

Then my mind started thinking wondering and took me back to the many years of using social media from the old ICQ and Yahoo chat to how it has evolve from text, to images to video and beyond. One particular piece of content that stood out was during my 2nd year at University in Lincoln. I was sat there, as you do at Uni, in the library… playing games with my uni flatmates. When, all of a sudden I heard for the first time – badger, badger, badger, mushrooooooom. We turned to each other and laughed at the sheer stupidity of the video and carried on playing games… I mean, doing Uni work. A couple of days later and everyone was talking and singing the song! This was my first real memory of viral content.

When I was sharing this example with the team, everyone started laughing as they were instantly taken back to the video and we started singing and dancing in the office and to be honest, it has been hard to keep a straight face while stood up here.

A more recent example sprung to mind as I was pulling together this presentation; Darren the council worker. Meet Darren. One of the hot topics in recent news was all about how the weather has created lots of potholes around the country and why haven’t councils fixed then. Cheshire council thought they would address this situation and show people how they decide if to fill holes. In steps Darren showing just that.  Darren was snapped and this picture went viral – it was shared and shared and shared some more and even became a meme. They took a virtual beating.

This was unintentional viral content but it went viral because it evoked emotion around a trending topic (potholes) and in turn gave people online the opportunity to make light of the situation.

Another example… Remember the ice bucket challenge? Pouring an ice bucket over your head to show support for the charity, recording the video and nominating people to do the same…? Yes Rachel, I am looking at you. This one worked because it was raising awareness around a charity and sharing a positive message while encouraging people to engage, have fun and share the challenge with their friends; thus tapping into influencer marketing.

As I was thinking of examples, the radio was playing and I heard & started singing along to this… in West Philadelphia born and raised on the playground I spent most of my days…. Know that one? And I could go on and on… think Gangnam Style.

How do we replicate a piece of viral content? Creating compelling content is one of the the hardest challenge marketers face and is something Shoo really focuses on when working with a client.

In order to answer this question, we need to consider the state of play with technology and the evolution of social media; where we have come from and where we are going. This will give us some useful insights when thinking about our content for the rest of 2018 and beyond…

As we have all experienced, technology is moving at a frightening pace – I remember getting my first mobile phone at 16 – remember the old Nokia bricks? My first job out of Uni and the transition from faxing to emails… And now only 10-15 years on we have smart phones that are so advanced it makes you wonder what else is possible left to invent?!? Social media has also evolved over the years from the old text based chatrooms, to growing a following online and very much become all about premium content – after all, you have to stand out from all those noise online. Where is it going? Chatbots have arrived and will be worth considering as part of a social marketing strategy and video is being consumed (viewed) at a phenomenal rate…

How does this help us create viral content?

Well, having the right piece of content in the right place at the right time can spiral and really explode your brand into the marketplace. In an ideal world, you would create that one piece of amazing content that goes viral in a biblical sense. However, in reality having content that stands out from your competitors and creates business opportunities more consistently is perhaps more relevant.

I will now share some tips to give you some tips for going viral with your target audience. We want to make it easy for them to consume, engage and share our content with others.

  • If content brings sufficient value to the reader, it will be shared. To get the most out of content, your job is to focus on positivity and to evoke emotions while offering true value to your target audience.

Think about your audience for a second… what interests them? You can do a simple audit using data of your current content to give you some insight into this. For example, I know that my target audience includes the marketing manager in an SME, running around like a headless chicken, doing everything from PR to Leaflet design to SEO and somewhere, somehow they have to implement a social media marketing and content strategy… They are simply time poor. So to increase my chances of attracting and my content being shared to other marketing managers and business owners; content needs to be centred around time saving.  Add value. Once we have this value added piece of relevant content we need to give it a chance to be shared right?

  • A good place to start is by connecting with influencers who share a similar target audience; bloggers, entrepreneurs, clients and advocates of your business.

If I asked you to think of ten advocates who would share your content right now –  I bet you could create a list… You need to reach out to these people and ask them to amplify your content – this isn’t always easy but can give your content a massive boost beyond your brands reach. A tool to help with this is call Social Toaster. This works by encouraging people to compete on an influencer leader board and they earn points every time they share your content onto different social media platforms. Points win prizes. You decide what they win! It could be something simple like chocolate, a voucher or even some additional support, product or service you offer.

  • Another tip to help amplify your content is write a blog or article that adds value…

But to really make the most of this one piece by having multiple headlines/titles – up to 25 and share it online to give it an extra change of going viral.  You never know which headline is going to grab the attention of your target audience but by doing it this way you can measure which one is working well and rinse and repeat.

  • The type of content you produce can have a massive impact

Having great copy along with fantastic visuals or even better a video or live streaming can drastically improve the likelihood of content being shared.

  • Become the thought leader.

This comes down to know, like and trust – do people know your company, do they like your product or service and do they trust you as an individual and a representative of the business. There is a tool called Klout, with a K, that gives you a benchmark to how influential you are as a brand online. So, start by building authority. Start by creating top-notch content that will attract the attention of influential people in your industry. Better yet, create content and mention the top experts in your industry. Link to them. Promote them as much as you can – eventually, they will take notice of your attention and reciprocate. This is exactly what happened when Rachel received a special mention from Austin Martin.

We all know the power and rewards attached to viral content especially when attracting potential customers. You may fail several times before you succeed. Of course, you can get that kind of traffic without having any of your posts go viral if you have an amazing content marketing strategy. But, if you can nail the kind of content that keeps people coming back, because of the quality and how much of your have thought about adding value, it’s much easier to reach your business goals and objectives.

You’ve got to create content that gets people thinking positively with content stimulating the right emotions in order to go viral. Above all, make your content useful, add value, solve a problem and interesting. The added bonus ingredient is to add a pinch of humour.

Before you know it, you will have created the next badger, badger, badger, mushroom, snake…


A little more about Chris

Shoo Social Media was founded by Chris Morris and Rachel Hatfield. Shoo is a fully bespoke social media company that runs extensive multi-media, multi-platform campaigns on behalf of medium-sized and large organisations. They also provide customised in-house training across all of the main and emerging social media platforms. Shoo Social Media’s clients benefit extensively from Chris’s proven skills in the classroom. Formally a professional teacher in frontline education, Chris offers social media training tailored to the unique needs and individual learning styles of the group. Chris is also responsible for business acquisition and business development at Shoo.

Connect with Chris here

You can follow Shoo Social Media on Twitter here



How To Engage The Right Stakeholders In A Digital B2B Buyers World

By Steve Phillip, Linked2Success


6.8 – remember this number it’s important. According to one of the most in-depth studies of more than 3000 B2B buyers, conducted by the international research firm Gartner and their recently acquired subsidiary CEB (formerly the Corporate Executive Board), 6.8 is the number of stakeholders who will determine whether your sales proposal will be accepted by the company you’re hoping to sell to.

Try and recall the last time an enthusiastic member of your sales team uttered similar words to these; “the deal’s in the bag boss, I just need to phone my contact later this week, after she’s had chance to run our proposal past her CEO and a couple of other people.”

Fast forward to Friday and you ask the same salesperson if he’s received a decision from his prospect? Somewhat crest-fallen, your employee explains; “I called her this morning and she told me that although she loves our proposal-in fact she thinks we’re great and really wants to get us in to work with their business – unfortunately she’s been unable to obtain final sign-off. She’s asked me to keep in touch but wasn’t able to give me a date when a decision is likely”

How many ‘dead-cert’ deals can you recall that simply faded away? Here’s the reality, your salesperson isn’t going to get the call from his prospect, in fact, he probably isn’t going to hear from her ever again. Welcome to the world of the diverse buying group!

You Are Faced With a New Challenge Today – The Diverse Buying Group

Picture now another one of your salespeople who has arranged a meeting with a key prospect account. Her goal is to pitch your company’s latest technology solution.

She arrives for the meeting and is invited to the boardroom. Sitting across the table are 6.8 people (ok, you’ll need to use your imagination for the 0.8th person). Each has a stakeholder interest in how your proposal will impact on their role in the business. 

Your salesperson’s key contact, the sales director, sees the huge benefit your unique technology proposition offers her and her sales team and its potential to help them implement a more efficient sales process and close more sales.

Also sitting around the table however, is the company’s head of IT and he’s concerned that the company already has another new IT integration project due to be launched next month and your proposal is going to significantly add to his workload and cause further disruption to the company’s IT system during that month.

The HR director is also in attendance and she’s heard that your proposal means that an existing team member will no longer be required. In fact, rumours have already begun to circulate around the business and the HR director’s week has been a nightmare, as a steady stream of concerned employees call her all to voice their concerns – she’ not happy either.

The CEO is concerned with a further increase in company expenditure for this fiscal year – “Can this not wait until next year?”

That’s just 4 of the 6.8 stakeholders. What about the MD, the Ops Manager and then there’s that 0.8 chap?!

Each of these stakeholders is listening to your salesperson pitch his proposal, whilst internally considering the following points:

  • Goals – How will this project affect my business objectives?
  • Priorities – This project may benefit the sales director but it’s not vital to my job role.
  • Means – Is this project going to require additional resources from my department?
  • Metrics – how will this project impact on my department’s performance figures?

6.8 stakeholders, each with differing roles and different business plans and objectives and each with a different perspective regarding whether your proposal will benefit them or actually cause them and the company disruption and challenges that right now, they simply could do without.

An increasing number of sales proposals fail to get across the line, according to Gartner/CEB, not because of a lack of ability from suppliers but more often, it’s down to the prospect’s inability for the buying group to reach an agreement.

In the end, such is the level of difficulty for this group of stakeholders to reach a consensus agreement that it’s often easier for them to come to no decision at all, much to the frustration of your key contact and even more disappointingly for you.

Social Selling Expert Steve Phillip

The Answer Must Be To Locate, Connect and Engage With All Relevant Stakeholders?

You’d think the obvious approach would be to use a platform like LinkedIn and ideally their Sales Navigator premium account, to locate these 6.8 stakeholders and share relevant content and thought leadership articles.

Apparently, you’d be wrong to consider that as an approach! Gartner/CEB’s research discovered that by connecting with each relevant stakeholder and then sending them individually targeted thought leadership content, you actually exacerbate the decision-making process within your prospect’s stakeholder group by widening the different perspectives each of them has. In fact, you can end up more deeply entrenching, in their minds, their own specific goals and objectives. As each stakeholder finds they have fewer points they agree on, as far as your proposal is concerned, then the consensus becomes one of ‘let’s do nothing, it’s safer’.

You Must Gain Common Agreement Amongst A Diverse Buying Group

In this more complex world of selling, where building relationships is key to your sales team’s success, you have an incredible tool, in the shape of LinkedIn to help build these relationships at scale, within your prospects’ businesses. 

Consider for a moment the challenge your sales team faces. When it comes to complex B2B purchases, you now understand that one of the primary barriers to a successful sale is likely not to be a lack of ability in your salespeople but more importantly a lack of ability for a diverse group of individuals at your prospect’s business to reach agreement, other than to do nothing.

What do your salespeople need to do then? The answer is; discover the group’s common points of agreement. For all the points buying group members may disagree on, they will actually have a number of key areas they all or most agree upon. The other goal your salespeople must strive for is to identify those individuals in your prospect’s buying group who will be prepared to support and even champion your proposal to the other group members.

This is where tools such as LinkedIn become vitally important. Your salespeople should have well crafted LinkedIn profiles, that clearly articulate the solutions your company provides – they should be connecting and engaging with key stakeholders in your prospects’ businesses by having frequent, quality conversations with each relevant stakeholder.

Your company should have a plan to better understand the personas of your buyers and create useful and relevant insights driven content that helps make a positive difference to each different stakeholder in your prospect’s business.

In the world of the diverse buying group, dealing with a single point of contact when proposing new business is unlikely to achieve the level of success you require. Your salespeople need to be engaging with buyers on the platforms they hang out on and not simply using the sales tools that they feel comfortable with.

To coin and slightly amend an old phrase: ‘If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll soon find yourself a long way behind the game’!

A little more about Steve

Steve Phillip is Managing Director and founder of Linked2Success Limited. Since 2009, he has helped hundreds of professionals around the UK, in Europe and the USA, in companies such as The British Red Cross, Toyota GB, FedEx, The Civil Court Users Association, Deloitte, as well as many small to medium sized businesses, to attract more of the right customers and strengthen their online brand presence, using tools such as LinkedIn and other social media.

He has a reputation for providing no nonsense, practical advice so that you can cut through all the hype surrounding tools such as LinkedIn and social media and use them to generate new career and business opportunities and achieve more success.  

Connect with Steve here

You can follow Steve on Twitter here


The Importance Of High Quality Photography And Personal Imagery: First Impressions Online

By Alan Carmichael, Capricorn Photography

Professional photography helps with social media engagement











Do we need a professional or at the very least a decent headshot for LinkedIn?

Yes, we do. Why, I hear you cry? I will give you three reasons:

The first reason is first impressions, your profile photograph could be the first time someone sees who you are. LinkedIn and other professional networking platform, plus your website and social media all play a part in our business development, our face helps give depth and a personality to our company and brand. Two LinkedIn statistics, i) “profiles on LinkedIn with photographs have a 40{33d7c0df11491bef0a83a5572f72da1db43863fc7231004dc84653268afd12df} higher InMail response”, (Hisaka, 2016), with a professional headshot that percentage can only increase, and ii) “a series of experiments by two Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov reveal that all it takes is a tenth of a second for people to form an impression of a stranger from their face, and that longer exposures don’t significantly alter those impressions.” (Pewelec, 2017).

The second reason is that your face is the logo of your personal brand. Having a decent headshot shows that you have invested in yourself. I think we can both agree it would be inappropriate using a holiday snap of you holding a can of lager wearing next to nothing.

The third reason is a decent or professional headshot can promote trustworthiness, competence and professionalism. If a person is making contact with you for the first time but hasn’t met you yet and is researching you to put a face to a name, how would like them to respond to your photograph? Appropriate attire is a high consideration, dressing in line with your personal and professional brand and profession. If this sounds like marketing rhetoric then consider this, if you are a solicitor, you would you a photograph promoting you and your services of you on a night out with the girls, with fake eyelashes, fake orange tan pulling a duck face, you would be taken seriously; likewise, if you are a landscape gardener, would present yourself in a three-piece pinstripe suit, this is not reflecting your personal and professional brand, plus people will think that it won’t be you do the work that they have asked you to do.

These three points need to be part of your marketing strategy and marketing budget. If you have employees, do they convey the same personal and professional branding as your image does. Is your imagery consistently high across all you client platforms, both internal and client facing?

It’s all about you. 

Professional photography helps you stand out on social media A headshot needs to focus on you. That’s sounds obvious, but you don’t want someone to be picking you out of a group shot, who they think might be you, taken on a phone at a party in poor lighting. Or a daft photo of you because you think it’ll show your funny, approachable & creative side.  

You want people to feel that you are competent.

You want people to see and feel that you are dressed for the part.

You want people to trust that you are who you say you are.

You want people to know that you are a professional and therefore

You want people to feel that their issue is going to be dealt with by a professional.

Professional headshots enhance your personal brand and reflect the business brand

So, next time you’ve going to have a headshot done, here are a few tips, these are fairly obvious so I don’t want to sound like I’m teaching granny to teach suck eggs; however, be careful of backgrounds – keep them plain, remember the focus is on you, wash and brush your hair, depending on your personal brand, have a shave or if you rock the stubble look then keep it, dress in-line with your profession, iron your clothes, wear solid colours or a simple pattern, nothing too busy and if you wish, just a little makeup.

Combine all that together, your first impression in the online arena is you are presenting your personal and professional brand as professional, credible, trustworthy but approachable. People buy people.

A little more about Alan

Alan Carmichael - Capricorn Photography

With a keen eye for detail, Alan breathes excitement and life into his photography by applying his knowledge and experience to developing compositions and strategies that take commercial shoots to the next level. His specialities are capturing people, products and places. By taking the time to understand his clients and foster long-term relationships, Alan ensures that a company’s digital presence and brand are truly reflected in the right light. Professional imagery can help your organisation to convey the right brand values on your website, increase website traffic and encourage client retention.

Connect with Alan here

You can follow Capricorn Photography on Twitter here


Hisaka, A. (2016) 6 of the Most Powerful LinkedIn Stats for Sales Professionals, Available at: (Accessed: 19th March 2018).

Pawelec, G. (2017) The Importance of a Professional Headshot, Available at: (Accessed: 19th March 2018).


Enabling Business Growth By Embedding Cybersecurity Foundations With A Collaborative Approach

By Melanie Oldham, Bob’s Business

Cyber Security Awareness Training

Founder and CEO of Bob’s Business, Melanie Oldham, who has over 10 years of experience within Infosec, spoke at DigitalU about information security and how it is a people problem, with approximately 90{33d7c0df11491bef0a83a5572f72da1db43863fc7231004dc84653268afd12df} of security breaches being caused by human error.

No matter the scenario, teamwork is key. By working together with the people in your organisation you can minimise the risk of a security breach and effectively handle the impact of such an event.

With General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect on 25th May 2018, now more than ever, you need to make sure that your staff have cybersecurity and compliance at the forefront of almost everything they do.

As well as tighter regulations on how you handle personal data, GDPR also presents a number of opportunities for organisations and stakeholders to benefit from compliance, such as:

  • Improved internal processes
  • Increased resilience
  • Assurance for all
  • Reputational confidence
  • Sales & marketing
  • Avoidance of fines
  • Build trust, transparency

In order to avoid the most amount of damage from a security breach, here are 5 tips from Melanie on the best ways to react to a security breach:

React quickly 

Speed is essential in the event of a security breach! The best way to make sure that you’re ahead of the game is to prepare by creating a safe zone for employees so they can plan and rehearse in the event of a security breach.

Don’t wait to go public

Make sure your customers hear of any breaches from you first. In the absence of information and reassurance people tend to overthink. Don’t worry about having all the answers straight away, this is about creating an image of transparency and reliable communication within your company.

Have a crisis communication plan

Having a solid and detailed crisis communication plan in place will let you react quickly to any cyber security situation. Your plan should take into account what you plan to do and what you plan to say in your approach to your employees, customers and the media. The plan should also include any legal obligations that you may have, such as needing to inform the Information Commissioner’s Officer.

Manage the media 

This tip is crucial so that you can control the narrative of the situation. In order to avoid your organisation sending out mixed messages, you should allocate one staff member to be your official spokesperson who handles all inbound communication.

Forging good, strong relationships with key press contacts will give you a direct line of communication with those who you want to get it out to most and this will also prevent other people define your response.

Consistent line of communication

Make sure you’re putting out frequent, clear and informative updates of the situation.

Every one of your responses should be all hands on deck, in order to maintain a positive image in the situation, you should make your intentions clear and come up with solutions rapidly.

Don’t pass the blame in your message, own up to the mistake. Your customers and the media will see right through this and you’ll risk tipping the scales out of your favour.

A little more about Melanie

Cyber Awareness Training

Melanie Oldham is the founder and driving force behind Bob’s Business, an award winning and leading cyber security awareness training and phishing simulations provider. Melanie has racked up over 10 years’ experience in the cyber security sector and has become a recognised and well-respected force within the industry. Bob’s Business delivers awareness campaigns to organisations of all shapes and sizes – from 10 users right up to 70,000 users. Last year, Bob’s Business educated 500,000 users. Melanie is also the founder and chair of the Yorkshire Cyber Security Cluster, a collaborative group that aims to reduce cyber security within the region. Enabling business growth by embedding cyber security foundations using a collaborative approach.

Connect with Melanie here

You can follow Bob’s Business on Twitter here


Communications Strategy Isn’t Voodoo

By Matthew Beattie, Airedale Communications

Communications Strategy is essential for social media marketing success

If sticking pins into crude effigies of your competitors were an effective business approach, everyone would be doing it. Bookshelves would be overflowing with titles such as “The Voodoo Method” or “Juju to Success”. It isn’t and they aren’t – for good reason. It doesn’t work. In contrast, the benefits of a strategic approach to business are widely recognised. This is why, for example, the vast majority of enterprises begin life as a business plan.

So why do many organisations not apply the same strategic approach to their communications?  Emails, press releases and social media can all be powerful marketing tools, but only if they are used effectively. If you fire out communications on a whim, you are essentially attempting to redecorate your home by dropping a stick of dynamite into a tin of paint: there are results, just not necessarily the ones you wanted. Yes, there might be paint on the walls, but there is also a liberal coating on you, the cat, the furniture and the windows (which are now in pieces in the front garden).

A communications strategy brings order and purpose to your company communications. It is a living document that creates a framework for all internal and external communications within your organisation. Detailing objectives, channels and target audiences, it explores how communications resources can best be applied to achieve the broader objectives of the organisation.


A communications strategy should always begin with an objective. This should relate directly to the overall objectives of the organisation. If, for example, your company aims to increase revenue from its existing customers, you might consider using marketing communications to add value to the customer experience and increase brand loyalty. It is worth noting that strategic communication can achieve many things, but it is not a panacea for problems elsewhere in the organisation. If your company is haemorrhaging customers because your customer service is lousy, you will be unlikely to get repeat business until you have resolved the underlying issue. Make sure that your objectives are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.


The next step is to examine the circumstances in which you are operating. Look at your market, your competitors and any political uncertainties that may hinder your organisation in reaching its objectives. As with creating a business plan, there is no substitute for thoroughness. Airedale Communications recommends carrying out both a SWOT analysis (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats) and a PEST analysis (Political Economic Social Technological). Identifying potential threats in advance helps you to determine marketing communications approaches to mitigate them or use them to your advantage.

The context element should answer the following questions:

  • Who are we? What do we stand for? What do we do well? Where are we weak? What message (if any) are we sending out? How is it being received?
  • Who are my competitors? What are they doing well? What are their weaknesses? What is their message? How is it being received?
  • What similarities do we share with our competitors?
  • How do people see us? How do we want to be seen?
  • Are there any political or social developments that may be beneficial / detrimental to our operations?

Target Audience

Now you need to consider your audience. Unless you understand whom you want to reach with your message, it is impossible to know how to reach them effectively. Knowledge of your audience determines not only what you say, but also how you say it and the most appropriate channels to use.

The target audience element of your communications plan should answer the following questions:

Are your audience local, national or international? Are they businesses, consumers, media professionals or policy-makers? Are you reaching out to a new or established audience? Are they male, female, transgender or a mix? What is their average age, income bracket, level of education? What are their values? What are their media habits?

Target message

Once you have determined your target audience – or target audiences – you need to determine the message that you want to convey. If, for example, your organisation is looking to raise the cachet of its brand and increase revenue by charging more for each unit, you might want your messages to be ones that reinforce the quality, durability or desirability of your product. How do you tailor those messages to appeal to your target audiences? Effective communication is all about telling a consistent story, but doing so in a way that resonates with each audience.

Take, for example, a company like Audi. Its motto “Vorsprung durch Technik” translates as “Advancement through technology”. This simple phrase encapsulates the company’s core values of engineering excellence and technological innovation. If Audi wants to market its A1 model to a younger audience, it might emphasise the car’s dynamics, style and technology – perhaps using video clips posted on social media to reach the appropriate audience. If, on the other hand Audi is looking to appeal to middle-aged family buyers with its A4 estate, it might use a television advertising campaign that emphasises the car’s safety, practicality and durability. Audi markets its products to many different audiences, it tells stories in many different ways, yet it remains consistent in its core message.

Some things to consider:

  • What do you want audiences to know, think or do?
  • Why should they care? How does it affect them?
  • Consider the AIDA Model: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action


If you were a manufacturer of training shoes and you were trying to directly encourage young, style-conscious males aged sixteen to twenty-one to buy your product, would it be a good use of your marketing budget to invest in a full-page advertisement in “The Daily Telegraph”? It’s no reflection on the newspaper, but probably not. Likewise, if you sell stair lifts, would it make sense to buy advertising space on a website dedicated to triathlon? Not really.

Once you have determined your audience and message, you need to consider the resources and approaches that are at your disposal and determine the ones that are most appropriate for your message and your target audience. What is your budget? What human resources are available to you? Which approaches and channels offer the biggest bang for your buck?


How do you measure your success? A communications strategy is a living document that should evolve according to your successes and failures. It should be constantly refined and tweaked in a process of continuous improvement. If you have not defined what success or failure looks like, how do you know if your objectives are being met? It is also useful to set yourself milestones so that you can measure your progress. There are many ways of measuring success, including:

  • Increase in website hits
  • Increase in referrals
  • Number of likes/follower/shares on social media
  • Increase in orders


Any organisation – be it a large corporation, a charity or a micro-businesses – will benefit from taking a strategic approach to marketing communications. Creating a communications strategy is not a quick process, especially if you are thorough in your research; however, it is time well invested. A communication strategy gives your marketing communications direction and purpose, and it allows your organisation to maximise the return on its marketing investment.

No time to create your strategy yourself? Let us assist you! Airedale Communications is a full-service communications agency specialising in communications strategy, content creation, editing, localisation and corporate publishing. Contact us today on +44 113 871 5818 and discover how our communications expertise can help your business.

Airedale Communications Limited, Leeds

A little more about Matthew

Matthew Beattie is the creative director of Airedale Communications Limited, a Leeds-based full-service communications agency specialising in content marketing, communications strategy, copywriting, editing and translation. Fluent in German and a native speaker of English, Matthew studied journalism, corporate communications and languages at the Schule für Angewandte Linguistik in Zurich, graduating with a Swiss Diplom HF (equivalent to a UK BA hons). He has more than ten years of experience in journalism, PR, corporate publishing and content creation and has worked with some of the most recognised brands in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, including Siemens, T-Mobile, and The RUAG Group. The Power of the Written Word: Words have power and this is especially true in the digital age. How you write something online is every bit as important as the message itself.

Connect with Matthew here

You can follow Airedale Communications Limited on Twitter here




The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Technology

By Richard Sutcliffe, Calls9

One platform. Endless possibilities.

Calls9 were recently invited to exhibit and speak at the inaugural DigitalU Conference at Aspire, Leeds. Organised by Shoo Social Media and sponsored by Agenci, we, along with industry experts from digital marketing, SEO, social media, cyber security and content creation, explored the biggest topics facing businesses in the digital revolution.

Needless to say, we felt right at home and as a company who help fellow businesses to digitalise and streamline their processes, we relished in the opportunity to talk about how businesses can maximise their digital potential.

The future of technology

We began by looking at the future of technology and how it’s dividing people. 6th August 1991 — the day the internet became publicly available — is when everything changed. The internet has allowed us to advance so quickly that the way we now use technology — in all areas of our lives, not just business — has dramatically changed.

Some are apprehensive by the rapid advancements in technology and the ‘rise of the robots’ (think The Terminator!) but the realisation is that this kind of attitude is holding businesses back from moving forward.

It is expected by 2030 (which isn’t that far away) that the first 3D transplanted organ will have been created, mobile phones will be implanted and the first Artificial Intelligence (AI) will sit on a board of Directors. Even real-life light sabers are being developed at Harvard University!

    (Left) Richard Sutcliffe at DigitalU discussing the future

Using technology in business

We don’t have to wait until 2030 to implement amazing feats of technology into our businesses though. Chatbots — computer programmes designed to simulate conversation with human users — are already being used with great success in recruitment for screening and first interviews.

There’s also voice technology — an extension of chatbots — which allows for quicker interaction and cuts down on time. By simply speaking to a device, you can book annual leave, ask for help within the business and order a Dominos’ pizza for lunch!

We want to emphasise how ‘future technology’ is being used and if you’re not already thinking of ways to digitise your business, you should be. At this point, we introduced Johnny 5 from the 1986 film Short Circuit to our presentation — AI used to be the stuff of science fiction and fantasy but now it is a reality and will undoubtedly transform the way we do business. Gary Hibberd from Agenci even commented that ‘artificial intelligence is now actual intelligence.’

Join the digital revolution

At Calls9, we are great advocates of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and we regularly host and attend events to get everyone involved in the future of digital technology and how it can be used, among other things, to increase productivity.

Some people are concerned technology will destroy human interaction and civilisation but in reality, it brings massive opportunities and endless opportunities. If you would like to unravel your business processes and discuss how technology can drive growth with a simple digital experience, we’d love to hear from you.

Simply call 0113 350 6441 or email

Original blog:

A little more about Richard

Richard helps businesses drive growth and productivity using the latest technology. Having worked all around the globe with every level of business for about every conceivable business process that can be digitised, he now guides Startups, SME’s and Enterprises in designing, developing and launching innovative digital solutions in record time with Calls9. Calls9’s current clients include ViCardio, a start up which uses cutting edge laser technology to monitor blood pressure and Calls9 is one of the key technology partners in this game changing medical device. They also provide services to enterprise customers including Eversheds Sutherland LLP and public sector customers such as Leeds City Council. In 2017 Calls9’s innovative technology platform delivered digital experiences to over 260,000 users. Richard will talk about the future of technology and what the landscape could look like but also how technologies that may seem out of reach for some businesses can be used today.

Connect with Richard here

You can follow Calls9 on Twitter here


A special thank you to all those involved in making DigitalU happen.

If you would like to be involved in the future please contact us here:


01943 430245

Generating leads and getting businesses results through social media marketing and social selling

Our next event is Fashion Fiesta at aql on the 4th October 2018. See you there.


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