Southern PR's blog is a multi-author, multi-purpose playground: you'll find news and thoughts on the latest issues affecting the sectors we work in, feature stories, practical communication and savvy social media tips.


Best photography and videography apps of 2018

We attended a Business Building Block session with Chris Gillman Gable last week to unlock the power of our smartphones. After the session, SPR’s Carlie was inspired to try them out for herself so here’s a summary of the best photography and videography apps 2018.

Smartphone cameras continue to grow more powerful with each update, with many businesses and photographers starting to use their phone as their primary camera. While the built-in camera is quite effective there’s hundreds of third-party apps that can instantly turn your smartphone photography capabilities from zero to hero.

Camera Apps
ProCamera – ($9.99) iOS

If you’re willing to pay for a photography app for your smartphone then this is the app for you. ProCamera turns your phone into a serious photographic tool offering everything you need to shoot stunning high-quality images. ProCamera gives you maximum control before you shoot, unlike most photography apps that only provide after effects and editing. It lets you change settings that are more commonly associated with D-SLRs than with smartphones, such as ISO, shutter speed, and white balance.

VSCO – (free + in-app purchases) iOS & Android

VSCO is a feature-rich all-in-one editing, photo sharing, and camera app. One of the best things about VSCO camera (apart from the price) is how easy and useful it is for both beginners and advanced photographers. The user-friendly and sleek interface allows you to change the shutter speed, manually focus, adjust the white balance and change exposure.

Moment – (free / $4.49 if you want all the features) iOS

This newly revamped app is a personal favourite and at NZ$4.49, forego a daily coffee and get this instead. Moment offers full manual control over exposure, ISO, shutter speed, focus, and white balance via on-screen sliders. You can double-tap the screen to separate focus and exposure and there’s even a dual-stage shutter. You can shoot in RAW mode and select from HEIF, HEVC, TIFF, and JPEG image formats. This is the perfect app for serious iPhone photographers!

 

Third-Party Video Apps
Filmic Pro – ($22) iOS and Android

With claims of being ‘the world’s best video app’, my expectations were high. Safe to say, the stories are true, so if you’re a videographer and you don’t have this app – get it now! With features you’d normally expect in a high-end video camera, Filmic Pro has a user-friendly interface and is packed full of customisable tools. Enjoy full control of image quality, exposure, focus, white balance, zoom speed, frame rates and audio, just to name a few.

ProMovie – (free / $4.49 to remove watermark) iOS

It’s free, it works and it’s easy to use. Step up your videography game with this feature-rich app which gives you manual control over exposure, focus, frame rate, quality and sound. The watermark is annoying but with all free apps there’s always a downside (or remove it for $4.49). Either way, ProMovie is a quality app and worth a download.

Cinema FV-5 – ($6) Android

This one for the Android users. With similar features to Filmic Pro (although not as good) Cinema FV-5 provides you with many professional video settings and full manual control over your Android camera. This includes exposure compensation, ISO control, light metering, manual focus, white balance, zoom, different frame rates and audio monitoring.

8mm Vintage Camera – ($2.99) iOS

Believe it or not, this is an “Oscar-worthy app”! 8mm was used by director Malik Bendjelloul in his Oscar-winning film Searching for Sugar Man. The app brings your iPhone back in time to capture the beauty and magic of old school vintage movies using retro filters, flickering video effects, light leaks, dust, scratches and frame jitters. This easy to use app allows you to add, modify and customise effects in real time shooting mode before easily saving your clips and exporting to your camera roll, email or social media. This is certainly a worthwhile $2.99 purchase.

 

Post Production Photography and Videography
Affinity Photo – NZ$30 (IOS-iPad), NZ$75 (Windows)

The $30 price tag may seem excessive, but have you looked at the price of Photoshop lately? This powerful app is Adobe’s newest (and fiercest) challenger. This award-winning image editing app seriously stacks up against the likes of photoshop with its sleek design, touch-optimised tools and a user-friendly interface. While it’s not a ‘smartphone’ app (only available on tablet or desktop), Affinity Photo was simply too good to leave off this list!

Snapseed – (free) iOS and Android

ATTENTION ALL! This is the ultimate, free image editing tool. Believe it or not, there’s no catches; no annoying ads, locked paid features, watermarks, just easy image editing at the touch of your finger. With 29 editing tools and the option to use set filters or manual mode, you can edit images to your heart’s desire. Do yourself (and your Instagram) a favour and download Snapseed!

iMovie – (free) iOS

This simple video editor will let you import, clip, arrange, add transitions and music and export your video. It’s basic, but for most amateur videographers iMovie will provide all the features you’ll ever need.

LumaFusion ($30) iOS and Andriod

It’s a difficult task to build a video editor app that’s easy to use but offers complexity and depth yet LumaFusion does just that. With multiple video, audio and special effects tracks paired with advanced colour correction abilities, slow-motion and reverse modes, live audio mixing, sophisticated audio editing and effects, editable titles, and many more features – this app is a videographer’s dream!

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Westpac Queenstown Business Awards Top Tips

Sticking your head above the parapet can be a scary moment. People shoot at you.

It’s tempting, in business, to want to stay in your cosy castle, keep your head down, and avoid looking for anyone out there threatening the castle walls.

But then there are those businesses that WANT to stand out. The ones that (metaphorically speaking) raise their hand and say “Hey, we’ve got a great idea.” Or “Hey, we’re proud of our successes.” “We want to share our story.”

They’re the ones that aren’t afraid to try new things. To stand on that parapet, wave the flag and lead the charge.

Playing safe, simply holding your ground, can sometimes be the riskier position. If you don’t stick your head above the parapet, how can you shoot back? People might want to take pot shots at you anyway, sometimes from behind your back.

Which brings us neatly to the 2018 Westpac Queenstown Business Excellence Awards.

Every two years our local Chamber of Commerce invites businesses large or small, new or old, to poke their head above the parapet.

And it’s not as scary as that might seem.

Why enter?

Entering the awards delivers some very real benefits to you and your business – from the self-assessment process and the boost in profile and team morale. You might be chosen as a finalist, maybe even win your category, or you might not.

Even if you don’t make it to the Gala Awards Dinner, going through the process of entering the awards is worth the energy and effort, because it forces you to evaluate your business from an outsiders’ perspective. Three judges are going to assess your business success based on your replies to a number of very specific questions.

Any Queenstown Lakes business can enter the awards, and it’s free to do so.

There are multiple benefits of entering, not least because you have to:

  • Look at past, present and future
  • Focus on business planning
  • Talk about areas where you excel
  • Acknowledge areas where you could do better
  • Recognise areas you’re missing out on and opportunities

Time spent on your business is never a waste of time – whether you win or not.

The process is easy
  • First pick your category/categories
  • Understand the questions
  • Answer the questions (you’d be surprised how many businesses fail to do this properly!)
  • Look at the points weighting for each answer
  • Work our which bit goes where for each answer
  • Employ the language of success
What to expect

The awards questions have been fine-tuned over the years to make the playing field as level as possible for a range of businesses, whether you’re a hole-in-the-wall hospo operation or a large corporate entity.

Usually they go along these lines:

  • Describe your business
  • Talk about management and strategy
  • Describe your four main strengths
  • Outline performance, KPI’s and how this is used in the management of your business
  • A supplementary information page
  • A couple of additional questions if you have entered one of two specific awards
Fiona’s Top Tips

When the structure of the awards entry is so well defined, it’s relatively easy to break down what you should be addressing in your answers.

  • Tell the leadership stories of your business
  • Demonstrate where you’ve led with innovation
  • Show how your people are engaged
  • Aim high and don’t hold back
How SPR helps

Thinking of entering the awards but not too sure where to start?

We’ve been in the communications business for over 24 years and we’ve helped many companies, big and small, break through the competition and come out on top! Our winner and finalist list is long and includes the likes of MAXRaft, Landmark Homes, JUCY, Partners in Grime and Ziptrek Eco Tours just to name a few.

Executing a timely, concise and enticing award entry is half the challenge and we’d love to help you shine. We can help with anything from proof-reading, answering a specific question or writing your entire entry.

We’re the wordsmiths you want on your side – we know business, we know tourism and we know what judges want to see and hear. So, put your head above the parapet and let your business shine.

Southern PR will run our popular series of workshops to help businesses shine the spotlight on their own business practices and put their “best foot forward” with their entry. The workshops will take place on Wednesday August 8 at 4-5pm, Friday August 10 at 8-9am and Wednesday August 15 at 8-9am. Please get in touch to reserve your spot.

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Social Media Strategy: Six Steps to Success

Social media – it’s all-seeing and all-powerful but can be an almighty waste of time and money if you dive in without a plan.

To reap the rewards of social media you need to build a clear strategy outlining goals, audience, competition and content.

We’ve put together an easy six-step social media strategy to get you on your way:

1. Goals

Make SMART goals.

Like any business plan the first step to creating a social media strategy is to establish goals, giving you the ability to measure your success and return on investment.

Pro Tip: Align your social media goals with your overall business and marketing strategy to show some more ‘old school’ execs the true value of social media.

Each of your goals should be:

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Relevant

Time-bound

Example:

Broad business goal: to grow my business.

Social media SMART goal: I will acquire 300 new followers on Instagram within two months by engaging with followers, running a paid Instagram advertising campaign and networking with local businesses. This will enable me to grow my business and increase my revenue.

For your social media strategy start by assessing your business goals and writing a social media SMART goal to align with each one.

2. Who is your audience?

It may seem simple, but do you really know who your audience is and where they’re active online? Is your Facebook audience different to your Instagram audience?

Knowing what your audience wants to see on social media is key to a successful social media strategy. You need to craft content that appeals to your specific audience, so they’ll like, comment on and share your posts.

Most social media platforms offer great (and free – YAY!) analytic tools that show detailed insights about your audience. Familiarise yourself with their age, location and when they’re most active online to create ‘personas’. These personas will help you visualise your audience as real people (rather than numbers) and help you cater to their actual interests, passions and needs.

3. Metrics

It’s time to start gathering data.

Competition

You probably already know who your key competitors are so take the time to assess/stalk (it’s not creepy when it’s for work) their social media channels. Some things to note:

  • What platforms are they using?
  • How often do they post?
  • How are they engaging with their followers?
  • How many followers do they have and how quickly are they growing?
  • What time do they post?

Choose three key competitors and complete a SWOT analysis to help you understand your competitive advantage and how you can ‘outplay’ your competitors online.

Strengths

Weaknesses

Opportunities

Threats

Pro Tip: use competitors as your inspiration, but don’t copy. Chances are they have you listed as a competitor too, so remember you still need to be unique and authentic with your posts!

Conduct a brief social media audit

Perform a social media audit to review what’s working and what needs improvement on your social media channels.

There’s lots of paid social media tools out there to make auditing a breeze, but here’s the basics that everyone can do (set up a spreadsheet to keep all your data in one place):

  • Note your overall statistics including followers, likes, shares, comments, clicks, video views, reach and mentions
  • Look at your top/bottom posts, how do they compare to each other and why do certain posts get more engagement? Compare timing, hashtags, content, platform etc
  • Input audience metrics including gender, age, location and time they’re active
  • Check for consistency, do all your channels have the same consistent tone and content?
  • Compare to industry best standards or key competitors
  • Re-assess your SMART goals and adjust accordingly (if required)

Social listening

If you’re serious about your social media strategy, investing in social listening software can save you time and money. Platforms such as HootSuite, Sprout Social, Zoho Social, Mention, Meltwater etc make social listening a breeze and can help you track trends, monitor competitors and compile data among many other handy tools. Each platform has pros and cons, so do your research before committing to buy.

4. Mission Statement

Build a mission statement for each of your social media platforms. This enables you to take the data collected above and create a short statement that outlines exactly who we are and what we do.

Follow this format:

[Business name’s] [social media platform] is where [audience] finds [content] to [benefit].

Pro Tip: this should be brief, where we went into detail above about audience and content, here we need to rein it in.

Example:

Building company: Bob Builder’s Facebook page is where local Queenstown homeowners find inspiring images and video content to help plan for their new home.

Cafe: Corner Café’s Instagram is where young New Zealand-based foodies and coffee lovers find fun, creative and colourful images that inspire them to visit and encourage ‘regramming’.

Mum blogger: Diana’s Diary Facebook page is where young mums across the world find helpful tips and funny anecdotes to encourage conversation and engagement with each other.

Bank: Frank’s Financial LinkedIn profile is where entrepreneurs and business owners find useful information, advice, insights, resources and inspiration for running and growing their businesses.

5. Content

It’s time to start building your content calendar.

Creating great content is essential but it’s equally important to have a plan in place for when you’ll share content to get the maximum impact. Make a calendar that details:

  • Dates
  • Time you will post
  • Social media channel
  • Content (image, link, video etc)

Make sure your content and calendar reflect the mission statement you’ve assigned to each social profile so that everything you post is working to support your business goals.

Keep your content aligned with your audience, always ask yourself who the content is for, and how they should interact with it.

Pro Tip: As a rule, 80% of your content should be fun, informative or entertaining and only 20% should directly promote your brand.

6. Engage, measure and compare

Hurrah! You have a stellar social media calendar, followers have quadrupled, videos have gone viral and your boss gives you a high five every morning!

This hasn’t happened for you yet? Don’t worry, you probably won’t get your social media strategy 100% right on the first try (this happens with all business plans), simply monitor what works and adjust your strategy accordingly. Continue with your social media auditing, schedule in weekly, monthly or quarterly as desired and re-evaluate your SMART goals.

Sounds like a lot of work? The truth is, building a successful social strategy isn’t a five-minute job, and in today’s online world it’s one of the most effective marketing tools around. Need a hand? Get in touch to find out how we can help create a tailored social media strategy for your business!

 

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How to make Instagram Stories work for your business

Let’s talk Instagram Stories. Most of us watch them, but do you use them for your business?

With over one billion monthly active users*, Instagram’s popularity and growth continues to skyrocket. As savvy business owners, we need to stay ahead of trends and learn to communicate with our audience on their level.

One of Instagram’s most popular tools, their ‘Stories’ feature has over 300 million active users and is basically a free marketing tool. When used correctly, Instagram Stories can be more advantageous than traditional advertising, so here’s how to make them ‘work’ for you.

Instagram Stories vs Instagram Feed

It’s important to acknowledge that your audience wants to see two very different things from your Instagram. Firstly, they want to see an ‘on-brand’, gorgeous, well-thought-out feed.

Secondly, they want to see an ‘insider’s perspective’, something the average person won’t see. Because Instagram Stories only last for 24 hours, businesses can present an unembellished, real-life look at what goes on behind the scenes.

Instagram’s algorithm

Since Instagram updated their algorithm in late 2017, it’s much harder for your brand to be found if you only post to your feed. Stories on the other hand always appear at the top of a follower’s feed and helps your brand remain visible. Popular Stories also appear at the top of the Explore page, and if you’ve tagged a location it appears in location-based Stories automatically compiled by Instagram, helping your profile gain an even wider reach.

What should I put in my Stories?

They’re called Instagram Stories for a reason. If you’re boring, people won’t come back to your feed for more.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Behind the scenes – Show your business has real people with personalities. Give your audience an insider view into your brand, who are you and what you represent.

Use stories to get real-time feedback – Question your followers about a new product or idea using Instagram’s poll feature. This provides you with live feedback and makes your audience feel valued.

Collaborate with other brands – Find likeminded brands and work together on a project, event or giveaway.

Create live tutorials – Use your Stories to give advice, make ‘how-to’ slideshows or answer FAQ’s.

Try an Instagram takeover – Hand over your Instagram account to someone else for a day or two. This could be your CEO or a special guest (think influencers, local photographers etc). This gives a different voice to your account and shows a new and exciting perspective.

Take your e-commerce to the next level – Bring your ‘shop-able’ looks to life using your Stories. With Instagram’s rollout of new Shopping Tags, which enable businesses to link to their website using price and description tags, you should be looking at how to best optimise your e-commerce capabilities.

Story Highlights

Back in December 2017, Instagram released a new ‘Highlights’ feature that has changed the way people interact with the platform. It enables you to select a series of Stories and feature them below the bio section of your profile.

NOTE: THIS IS SIGNIFICANT FOR BUSINESSES!

Instagram Stories Highlights gives you the ability to have unlimited links for an unlimited time in your bio (a clear departure from the 24-hour Stories format we have previously seen). This means you can now direct your followers to any number of external pages like your website, an event, other channels etc, through a simple tap.

The placement of Story Highlights allows you to go beyond the 150 of character limit of your bio to show people what your account is all about and why it’s worth a ‘follow’.

Here’s some ideas on how to use Highlights:

  • Colour coordinate or create branded Highlight cover images – enabling you to stylize your page even further
  • Announce new products or services and keep followers updated with ‘what’s new’
  • Highlight your ‘best of…’ moments
  • Complement your other channels by linking your Highlights to external blogs, website etc
  • Showcase giveaways and collaborations rather than flooding your feed with promotional posts
  • Display recent events, meetings or special occasions
  • Promote user-generated content and encourage your audience to tag and hashtag your brand to be featured
Brands leading the way:

Airbnb’s Interactive Quizzes

Airbnb’s Travel Tuesday series showcases user-generated content from Instagram to provide its followers with inspirational travel ideas. Rather than just posting the pictures, Airbnb transforms each photograph into an interactive quiz. By incorporating user-generated images and polls into their stories, Airbnb increases engagement and creates ways to measure their followers’ interests at the same time.

instagram-stories-airbnb

E! News’ Snappy Stories

E! News keep their followers updated on the latest celebrity drama by sharing news stories directly on Instagram Stories. These ‘short but sweet’ news blasts meet the needs of their target audience, who may not want to read a full article, but always want to be on top of the latest celebrity news.

instagram-stories-enews

NASA’s Behind the Scenes Pass

NASA uses their Instagram Stories to share ‘behind the scenes’ news and information. They provide background stories, additional information, research and visuals that complement their regular Instagram posts, giving their followers a ‘backstage pass’ to the inner workings of NASA.

instagram-stories-nasa

Instagram is constantly evolving and keeping your pulse on new trends and tools is vital to creating a successful social media strategy.

Understand the importance but don’t know where to start? We’ve added an Instagram Stories Workshop to our portfolio, so if you think your business would benefit upskilling in Stories then get in touch today.

 

*Statistic from Social Media Today

 

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