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#BackingTheBlues at RKH

We’re proudly supporting Leicester City by taking part in the #BackingTheBlues campaign on Friday 29th April. Before everything in the office turns blue for the day, we asked Leicester fans from the team to share their memories of supporting Leicester City and feelings at this late stage of the season.

David

My Mum and Dad started supporting City straight after the Second World War, going to matches with my Mum’s Dad.

The first game I went to was the first leg of the 1963/64 League Cup Final. We’d moved to live in Stafford and I saw the game with my Mum and Dad at Stoke City on 15th April 1964. I was 9, Gordon Banks was in goal for Leicester, Stanley Matthews was still a Stoke player but injured for this game, it ended as a 1-1 draw.

Since that game I have seen at least one Leicester game in every season; at times I have been able to follow them home and away, and for most of the last 25 years I’ve been a season ticket holder.

This season is by far and away the best, far beyond what I ever could have hoped for. My more realistic hope was that I might see us win the FA Cup, I’m overwhelmed at the thought that we may end up winning the Premier League.

So many memories over those years, time makes the rubbish fade and picks out some of the highlights:

  • I was one of at least 42,000 on 13 March 1968 for an FA Cup replay against Tommy Docherty’s Rotherham that we won 2-0. There were so many in there that my feet were often off the ground and I saw very little. Dangerous but exciting.
     
  • I was at the Leicester v Shrewsbury FA Cup Quarter Final game at Filbert Street in March 1982, definitely the strangest game I’ve ever seen with Leicester having four goalkeepers, 13 minutes of injury time and winning 5-2, including a goal from a 21 year old Gary Lineker.
     
  • Then in August 1997 I saw Leicester draw 3-3 at home to Arsenal in the Premiership. All the action was in the last few minutes of normal time and seemingly endless injury time. The action even carried on after the final whistle with “ugly scenes” including Steve Walsh and Ian Wright having to be dragged apart.
     
  • The Martin O’Neill years created many memories, Wembley trip with my Dad and Son were special, perhaps the best of these was seeing Steve Claridge’s last minute winner against Crystal Palace in 1996 to take us into the Premier League. 

Sadly my Dad is no longer with us; he wouldn't have believed the run we are on this season. He does have a plaque in the Memorial Garden at the club and his ashes were sprinkled there so we pay him a visit before home games.

Ian

Since a 2-0 win in August 1991 against Plymouth Argyle, innumerable weekends have been spoilt by football. Two league cups aside, early memories of watching Leicester are mostly of tears and upset. Over the years I’ve got used to avoiding “highlights” and regularly pondered why my Dad decided to share this affliction with me almost 25 years ago. 

It’d be easy to recall memories of play-off and league cup finals, but when talking with my Dad or friends, it’s often the awful games that make us smile the most. Cold dark evenings watching a terrible match at an empty ground decided by a deflected goal or unbelievable mistake seem to be a core memory for many Leicester fans. Entertainment has more regularly been found in trivial aspects of the game, the match ball being sponsored by a local takeaway or laughing at the songs being chanted, rather than moments of quality football.

Leicester fans don’t expect to win. We want our team to put up a fight and hoped we could establish ourselves as a Premier League team in time. Last season was dramatic; the events in the summer left many people confused and everyone else worried. Nobody thought this would happen. I’d have happily taken guaranteed fourth from bottom before the season started.

This season has been different. Rather than pretending football doesn’t exist, I want to watch every match, the highlights and then listen to podcasts after. I now get why my Dad introduced Leicester to me. All those awful matches devoid of quality or interest make what’s happening even more special. If things go as many predict now, I suspect it’ll be tears of joy and disbelief at the end of this season.

Jamie

I’m not from Leicester and was never really a rabid football supporter before I got here. I’d been to watch Shrewsbury fairly regularly and half-heartedly supported Everton when I was young to annoy the Liverpool fans that filled my school, but I was more of a fan of football as a whole. 

The first weekend I came to Leicester, I watched us lose to Spurs in the 1999 Worthington Cup final. They won in injury time after having Justin Edinburgh sent off for swinging at Robbie Savage (we’ve all wanted to do it at some point) and with that valiant failure I fell in love. 

I’ve been a season ticket holder (with a few years off for good behaviour) pretty much ever since. 

It’s hard being a Leicester fan. We tend to do things the hard way and this season aside there hasn’t been much joy in recent years. I re-christened the King Power ‘The Theatre of Nightmares’ (rather than the Theatre of Dreams that is Old Trafford), so few times had I left the stadium feeling happy. 

There is this lovely irony to being a Foxes fan though, demonstrated this season when 4-0 up against Swansea and 8 points clear at the top of the Premier League, the fans were singing ‘we are staying up, say we are staying up.’ Whilst not exactly enjoying the pain they put us through, we certainly appreciate it.

The O’Neill years left us and so began the decline ending with the ignominy of being relegated to League One. The thing is, the years spent clawing our way back up from that lowest point have made this high point even sweeter. If you’d have told me at the start of the season that we would be one win away from claiming the world’s biggest football prize, I would have laughed in your face. 

I would have been happy with 17th place this season. After the miracle of last season’s Great Escape a consolidation year would have been perfectly satisfactory. What we’re seeing is beyond my wildest dreams. I can’t believe it’s happening in my lifetime and I’ve been in the stadium to witness it.

So, to pick out some memories:

  • Having to run away from a load of chasing Derby fans at Pride Park because I never know when to keep my mouth shut.

  • Muzzy Izzet’s goal against Grimsby.

  • Lilian Nalis’s wonder goal against Leeds.

  • Being promoted from League One.

  • Leicester’s 5-3 victory over Manchester United.

  • Galloping away with the Championship.

  • The Great Escape last season.

  • Jamie Vardy’s goal against Liverpool this season.

And I’m hoping (hardly believing it while I do) that there is going to be another memory soon - that of Big Wes lifting the Premier League trophy. It gives me butterflies now as I type this. What a time to be a City fan.

A-Z of life at RKH | CPD

C is for CPD in the A-Z of life at RKH, or Continuing Personal Development to give it its full name.

It was a close run thing between coffee (we drink lots of lovely Has Bean coffee every day), code, cat gifs and CPD when deciding for C but our sensible side prevailed this time.

The fast changing nature of marketing means every day is very much the cliched school day. As a naturally inquisitive bunch we’re always sharing the latest news in our areas and discussing new ideas as they come up. We also study for qualifications, attend courses, dial into webinars, read books and much more to develop our skills and knowledge of relevant subjects through more formal training. 

Look past the food photos we share from our staff meetings and you’ll sometimes see someone presenting on the training they’ve taken part in. Getting everyone together to listen to new ideas and then discussing these as an agency allows us to consider how best to integrate new thinking into the varied work we do. 

Learning, discussing ideas and having fun doing this is great but it’s important we share what we know with everyone we work with too. Through training we’re able to offer better advice to our clients on the potential of the latest developments in marketing in relation to their needs.

Making sure all members of the team take part in 24 hours of training each year is a requirement of our IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) membership. This means everyone has the chance to develop skills and gain the knowledge they need to do a fantastic job.

Our commitment to CPD, mixed with the vast quantity of coffee consumed at the agency, ensures our work remains creative, effective and offers great value in a rapidly changing industry.

What do Instagram’s new changes mean for brands?

Instagram was met with widespread criticism this week after it announced changes to users’ news feeds. The new algorithm is set to alter the reverse chronological order most users are used to, to one that shows the most popular posts first.

The move comes after a backlash from Twitter users when news of the company adopting a similar feature reverberated through its digital channels. In response, Twitter listened to its audience and changed the feature to allow people to opt out if they wished. So why are these major tech companies making the switch to a more ‘personalised’ news feed?

In a statement made by Instagram, their research shows that people miss on average 70% of the content in their feeds. They aim to tackle this by organising news feeds to show the moments they believe, “you will care about the most”.

Before the Stock Market

In the early days of Facebook (Instagram’s parent company), brands with company pages could post as much content as they desired and all of it would land right into Facebook users’ feeds. After a while, Facebook didn’t like this. It couldn’t make money from this system. This is why it slowly developed a more ‘personalised’ news feed, displaying popular and sponsored content first. The move forced brands to begin paying to promote their content, and thus, the Facebook money-making machine began to grow. It’s for this reason that Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram in 2012 sent shudders through its online community, as questions began to brew over what the organisation would begin to change.

The shift to a more ‘personalised’ algorithm means that brands will have to reassess their current digital marketing strategies, as organic reach to audiences on this platform will be more difficult than ever. Paying to promote content on Instagram will soon be as common as it is for brands looking to grow their audience on Facebook, as these tech giants aim to exploit the growth in popularity among the younger demographic.

If it ain't broke...

The problem consumers have with this change is that it goes against the real-time nature that makes social media so engaging. This is evident with the rise in popularity of Snapchat, as younger generations connect with it’s live and ephemeral nature of sharing content. It seems as though when social media companies begin to cater all their platforms to paid content, many people will be more open to using new platforms to gain a more real-time experience online. Brands will now face the same problem in building an audience on Instagram as they do on Facebook, as images from accounts with the highest engagement will take priority in users’ news feeds.

How can you keep up with the changes?

  1. Embrace video - As Instagram is flooded with images, a well-produced video that automatically plays on users feeds will help grab their attention and boost engagement.
     
  2. Reassess your social media strategy - If your reliance is currently on Instagram, consider using other channels to link to your Instagram account, as organic reach is beginning to gradually decline on this platform.
     
  3. Prepare to pay - It comes as no surprise that regularly paying to promote content on Instagram will soon become the norm, so it’s important for brands to consider this in their social media budgets.
     
  4. Engage with your followers - As with all social media channels, people engage with accounts who actively engage with theirs. For small brands, taking the time to look through news feeds and engaging with content is a great way to build a valuable audience of followers.

The A-Z of life at RKH | Bees

One of the main things we love to share with visitors to the RKH office is the location of our secret department. With well over 30,000 workers, this branch of the office is especially hard-working and organised. Situated on our roof, in the middle of Leicester city centre and sporting RKH brand colours is our apiary of bees.

So why do we share a residence with 30,000 little workers? It just so happens that our Director, David began looking after bees over a decade ago and is also a member of the Leicestershire Rutland Beekeepers Association. After we moved to our new office and gained extra roof space, he realised this would be an ideal spot for an apiary. Up there, the bees would be free to harvest a mix of crops from around the city, creating a unique tasting honey and also be less susceptible to any harmful substances that farmers spray on their crops. 

So now for some Bee trivia: do you know how bees communicate with each other? The ‘waggle dance’. Now if you’re like us when we first heard of this, you’re probably picturing bees busting funky moves in a 70s disco. Sadly, this isn’t the reality. When bees begin to settle into a new home they send out ‘scouts’ who fly around the area to figure out exactly where they are. These scouts then come back to the hive and communicate this using a unique form of movement known as ‘the waggle dance’.

If you’re interested in staying up-to-date with our fuzzy little friends, watch this space. We’ll be posting more updates as the weather warms up and our little pals start to head out again. Alternatively, come and say hello at our offices - we might even give you our own rendition of the waggle dance.

Out of time

Source: Lockheed Martin

Source: Lockheed Martin

The first thing you notice about the SR-71 is the blackness of it. And then its shape, like a rip on the sky, as if it’s pushing through from another world. It looks fearsome, but it’s really nothing more than a flying camera, albeit one that could photograph your license plate from the edge of space at 2,000 miles per hour. It has no offensive capability because it can outpace and out climb anything that would come after it. So it’s an impressive feat of engineering, and even more impressive that it comes from the late 1960s, this thing that looks like it’s touched down from an entirely different era.

The success of its design is rooted in the purpose for which it was devised (to be the fastest aircraft ever built) and the process by which it came into the world could best be described as obsessive and complicated. Being made almost entirely of titanium to withstand the extreme temperatures of Mach speed, it broke every item of machinery employed to build it, so every piece was made by hand. They had to invent new fuel and lubricants, and build a new runway, all in total secrecy. The pilots (who had to be a precise height and weight) needed to wear space suits. This single-minded pursuit of the design goal necessarily meant pushing the envelope every step of the way and overcoming obstacles that, in this day and age, would simply be project-managed out in the early stages. The result was something fabulous and awe inspiring – even by today’s standards.

Source: Visible.org

Source: Visible.org

In 1967, at about the same time the SR-71 was flying its first missions over North Vietnam, a typeface was released by Dutch designer Wim Crouwel called New Alphabet. Like the Blackbird, it looked like an artefact out of time, at odds with the style of its age. It was conceived as a personal experiment to explore the limitations of the newly-emerging screen technology of the time. Its strictly right-angled structure  (with just a pinch of stress in the corners) was, although industrial in appearance (bringing to mind girders bent into shape), designed to compensate for the lack of curvilinear detail afforded by early cathode ray tube monitors. Ironically, something so futuristic in appearance was designed with fairly primitive technology in mind. Today it wouldn’t look out of place in a type designer’s portfolio, and even when it was used on Joy Division’s Substance in 1988 it looked ahead of its time.

Source: Amazon

Source: Amazon

In the end though, both endeavours had their day. New Alphabet was never meant to be a commercial typeface (Wim himself described it as ‘unreadable’) and the SR-71 was finally retired in 1998. What they both proved is that by pushing the boundaries and looking beyond your immediate horizon, you can produce something truly progressive, exciting and enduring.

The A-Z of life at RKH | Agile

Our digital team are very busy people. As well as being frighteningly intelligent, they’re also a very organised bunch of folks, utilising a number of tools and techniques that help them build high-quality products and services for clients from a range of sectors. To kick off our A-Z of life at RKH, we’ve chosen a critical working method and overused buzzword - Agile.

Agile is the project management methodology adopted by our Digital Account Director, Harshul, which helps our digital team build online services quickly and focuses on defined objectives. Testing occurs throughout a project, so that work can quickly adapt based on the feedback given by both the client and the project manager.

In comparison to Waterfall methods, the Agile approach allows for constant feedback throughout the entire process, instead of when the project is nearing its end. With the Agile approach, the planning, designing and testing phases all happen at the same time. This is most effective when building digital services, as it allows teams to modify or rework what they’re building should any unforeseen or external forces arise.

Our web team usually work over periods of time known as ‘Sprints’, which involve 2-3 weeks of working hard to provide a specific list of deliverables. After feedback and review, this then followed by continuous periods of sprints, which is both valuable and very intense.

It's a hugely beneficial way of working because the team constantly learns and improves what they’re working on, all at the same time. It also provides clients with a clear overview of what can be expected, updates on any ongoing work and providing an indication of what will be finally delivered.

Join us on our social accounts to stay updated on the A-Z of life at RKH and find out how weird and wonderful agency life can be.

5 apps to help you stay productive in 2016

How are those New Year's resolutions going, still sticking to them? Are you feeling more productive? No, neither am I.

It seems so long since Christmas, when my days consisted of eating chocolate, devouring cheese and drinking wine in my monkey dressing gown. I tried to sustain a healthy detox in January. It didn't last long. After all, our RKH 4pm tea time wouldn't be the same without a few caramel digestives.

Whether you’re still trying to stick to an overly complicated diet or just have a task you keep forgetting, everyone wants to be a little more productive.

To stay on track here at RKH, each of us in the office use a variety of apps to help us stick to our deadlines. Here are several tools the RKH team couldn’t live without, to help you stay productive throughout 2016:

1. Codekit

Regarded as a swiss army knife for web developers. Andy Babic uses this Mac-based coding application for its ability to compile all the cutting-edge languages like Less, Stylus, Sass and CoffeeScript. He loves how the ability to perform live browser reloads saves time switching between multiple applications with everything you need in one handy, easy to use program.

2. Evernote

A fantastic note taking tool, Ian uses Evernote for meeting notes, thoughts, ideas and more. As notes are synced across devices and easy to share, it’s easy for Ian to stay organised wherever he is. Ian even trusted Evernote to draft, refine and then finally give his wedding speech using the simple presentation mode!

3. Font Explorer X Pro

Our Designer, Mike uses this tool to manage his vast library of weird and wonderful fonts. Mike’s huge collection of fonts has been tamed thanks to the ability to enable/disable fonts and divide them amongst categories. This app is perfect for designers who want to spend less time searching for the right font.

4. Todoist

Used daily by Will (and now many other members of the team), this application will rid your desk of that plague of sticky notes. With a handy iPhone application to swiftly add new tasks and daily reminders straight to your inbox, you’ll never forget to send that email or pick up milk on your way home.

5. Trello

This web-based project management application keeps all of our advertising & design jobs flowing in and out of the studio. As well as preventing our Project Manager, Pete from going crazy.

What tools do you use to stay productive?

We’d love to hear and if we get 5 more great productivity tools posted as comments or sent to us on Facebook/Twitter, I’ll share a photo of me in my monkey dressing gown.

Copywriting lessons from a Guardian Masterclass

Earlier this month, I attended another Guardian Masterclass course at the newspaper’s London HQ titled: How to write better copy. Simply put, it was excellent. As you walk into the building, there’s an immediate sense of excitement; you’re guided through a maze of busy offices with newspapers scattered across desks, and people discussing the day's news over coffee around a foosball table.

As one of the most popular Guardian courses, it was attended by people from a variety of industries, all looking to learn more about how to use the written word to engage and entertain audiences. It’s safe to say we all finished the day with a set of skills and newfound confidence in our ability to write better copy.

Copywriting is the skill of crafting persuasive messages using clear, concise and engaging language. Working with the PR department and across social media means I not only need to know how to write captivating content for blogs, but also short copy for social media posts. I attended the course to improve my writing skills and learn how to communicate written information more effectively for our clients.

The course covered a number of topics, including writing for B2C vs B2B and understanding the psychology of reading, and provided a whole host of invaluable information for copywriters. What most resonated with me, however, were the following three points:

  1. People respond much better to a single argument, which is constantly restated. Using too many convincing arguments in your copy will make what you’ve written less memorable for the reader.
     
  2. For B2C - Making your writing conversational and using relatable language specific to your target audience makes you sound more confident and informed on what you’re talking about. Varying the length of sentences helps to break up heavy or complicated pieces of information whilst making it a more enjoyable read.
     
  3. More people read today than they ever have in history. Nowadays consumers are not looking for reasons to read, they are looking for reasons not to read. Because of this making your copy engaging within the first 60 words is more crucial than ever.

Whether you’re a blogger looking to write more engaging content, or a digital marketer wanting to learn about the differences of B2C and B2B copy, this course offers you an opportunity to polish up existing skills and learn a range of new ones. It certainly did for me.