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SearchLeeds 2018 - Hannah Smith - Verve Search - What happens when a werewolf bites a goldfish?

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For the past seven years Hannah’s been tasked with coming up with ideas which people will share and journalists will want to write about. The question she’s asked most often is “where do you get your ideas?” In Hannah's SearchLeeds 2018 talk she revealed the genesis of a variety of successful creative campaign ideas, alongside a bunch of things she’s learned about creativity along the way.

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SearchLeeds 2018 - Hannah Smith - Verve Search - What happens when a werewolf bites a goldfish?

  1. 1. @hannah_bo_banna what happens when a werewolf bites a goldfish? @hannah_bo_banna
  2. 2. @hannah_bo_banna hello there!
  3. 3. bad at photos, pretty good at other stuff
  4. 4. @hannah_bo_banna my team’s job is to make things that journalists want to write about & people want to share
  5. 5. @hannah_bo_banna why?
  6. 6. @hannah_bo_banna to gain links, coverage & social shares
  7. 7. @hannah_bo_banna why?
  8. 8. @hannah_bo_banna links from highly authoritative sites, increase the authority of our clients’ sites
  9. 9. @hannah_bo_banna over time this translates into stronger organic rankings
  10. 10. stronger organic rankings = more money (for the vast majority of websites)
  11. 11. @hannah_bo_banna what sort of things do we make?
  12. 12. this was created for Lenstore, the game challenges people to see how fast they can spot the hidden objects
  13. 13. links from over 100 domains
  14. 14. this was created for PartyCasino, we analysed forty years of box office data, to see which actors made the most profitable films
  15. 15. links from over 120 domains
  16. 16. this was created for GoCompare, it reveals the what some famous landmarks *might* have looked like
  17. 17. Arc de Triomphe
  18. 18. Nelly?
  19. 19. links from over 180 domains
  20. 20. @hannah_bo_banna so that’s what I do…
  21. 21. @hannah_bo_banna what happens when a werewolf bites a goldfish? @hannah_bo_banna but what the hell is this talk about?
  22. 22. @hannah_bo_banna there’s a question I’m frequently asked
  23. 23. @hannah_bo_banna where do you get your ideas?
  24. 24. @hannah_bo_banna & it’s a question that I dread answering
  25. 25. this is Neil Gaiman
  26. 26. @hannah_bo_banna he also dreads that question
  27. 27. @hannah_bo_banna here are some of his answers…
  28. 28. @hannah_bo_banna from the idea of the month club
  29. 29. @hannah_bo_banna from a little shop in Bognor Regis
  30. 30. @hannah_bo_banna from a dusty old book in my basement
  31. 31. @hannah_bo_banna people don’t like those answers
  32. 32. @hannah_bo_banna but they don’t like his truthful answer either
  33. 33. @hannah_bo_banna I make them up out of my head
  34. 34. @hannah_bo_banna it’s true, but it doesn’t satisfy anyone
  35. 35. @hannah_bo_banna one day he gave a talk at his daughter’s school
  36. 36. @hannah_bo_banna & a seven-year-old asked him
  37. 37. @hannah_bo_banna where do you get your ideas from?
  38. 38. @hannah_bo_banna he felt he owed her a proper answer
  39. 39. @hannah_bo_banna here’s what he said
  40. 40. @hannah_bo_banna You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time.
  41. 41. @hannah_bo_banna The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we're doing it.
  42. 42. @hannah_bo_banna he went on…
  43. 43. @hannah_bo_banna you get ideas when you ask yourself simple questions
  44. 44. @hannah_bo_banna the most important of the questions is just, what if?
  45. 45. @hannah_bo_banna often ideas come from two things coming together, that haven't come together before
  46. 46. @hannah_bo_banna if a person bitten by a werewolf turns into a werewolf…
  47. 47. @hannah_bo_banna what would happen if a goldfish was bitten by a werewolf?
  48. 48. @hannah_bo_banna what would happen if a chair was bitten by a werewolf?
  49. 49. @hannah_bo_banna you can read the full article here: bit.ly/neil-gaiman-ideas
  50. 50. @hannah_bo_banna right now you’re probably thinking, wtf has this got to do with anything, I don’t write books
  51. 51. @hannah_bo_banna where do I get my ideas?
  52. 52. @hannah_bo_banna the thing is,
  53. 53. @hannah_bo_banna I suspect that isn’t the question you really want the answer to
  54. 54. @hannah_bo_banna I suspect the real question is something like this
  55. 55. @hannah_bo_banna how do you get those links?
  56. 56. @hannah_bo_banna there is no neat answer to that question either
  57. 57. @hannah_bo_banna because the answer lies partially in the idea
  58. 58. @hannah_bo_banna & also what we do afterwards
  59. 59. @hannah_bo_banna right now some of you are undoubtedly thinking
  60. 60. @hannah_bo_banna piss off Hannah
  61. 61. @hannah_bo_banna how do you get those f*cking links?
  62. 62. @hannah_bo_banna I think it’s a question you deserve an answer to
  63. 63. @hannah_bo_banna & I’m going to try to answer it, by talking specifically about 3 pieces we’ve created
  64. 64. @hannah_bo_banna #1
  65. 65. Image goes here…
  66. 66. the client…
  67. 67. @hannah_bo_banna contact lenses are *not* a subject journalists have much cause to write about
  68. 68. @hannah_bo_banna so we needed to think laterally
  69. 69. @hannah_bo_banna stuff to do with vision?
  70. 70. @hannah_bo_banna how people see the world?
  71. 71. @hannah_bo_banna I was starting to research stuff when I remembered something…
  72. 72. a talk Stacey MacNaught gave at LearnInbound
  73. 73. where she shared one of Hana Bednarova’s ideas
  74. 74. @hannah_bo_banna could we do something like this?
  75. 75. @hannah_bo_banna just do a bunch of those puzzles???
  76. 76. @hannah_bo_banna what’s new or different about that?
  77. 77. @hannah_bo_banna we decided to create a timed game & send 2,000 survey respondents through before launch
  78. 78. @hannah_bo_banna we hoped that if we uncovered who performs best at these sorts of puzzles it might help us get coverage
  79. 79. @hannah_bo_banna but it still felt risky…
  80. 80. @hannah_bo_banna were journalists sick of those puzzles?
  81. 81. @hannah_bo_banna were people sick of those puzzles?
  82. 82. @hannah_bo_banna we looked to see if journalists were still covering those puzzles
  83. 83. @hannah_bo_banna January to March 2017: the Sun, Star, Mirror, Daily Mail & more were still regularly publishing those puzzles
  84. 84. & would apparently continue to J
  85. 85. @hannah_bo_banna incidentally, if any of you have a burning desire to know who performs best at these puzzles…
  86. 86. @hannah_bo_banna women perform better than men
  87. 87. @hannah_bo_banna people who exercise regularly perform better than those who don’t
  88. 88. @hannah_bo_banna Londoners are more observant than any other region
  89. 89. @hannah_bo_banna so…
  90. 90. we launched the piece in April 2017 & got coverage every single month, for a full 12 months
  91. 91. @hannah_bo_banna we made a few extra puzzles…
  92. 92. there’s a christmas pud in this image…
  93. 93. & a bunny in here somewhere…
  94. 94. @hannah_bo_banna what did we learn?
  95. 95. @hannah_bo_banna the insight that there was media appetite for these sorts of puzzles was gold
  96. 96. @hannah_bo_banna the survey data did help the piece go further
  97. 97. @hannah_bo_banna & that piece spawned some others…
  98. 98. @hannah_bo_banna ok, let’s move on…
  99. 99. @hannah_bo_banna #2
  100. 100. Image goes here…
  101. 101. the client…
  102. 102. @hannah_bo_banna some people think you can’t get links to a betting & gaming client without paying…
  103. 103. @hannah_bo_banna that’s not been our experience
  104. 104. @hannah_bo_banna provided you give journalists something that allows them to write the stories they want to tell
  105. 105. @hannah_bo_banna so where did we begin?
  106. 106. @hannah_bo_banna we wanted to target entertainment journalists
  107. 107. @hannah_bo_banna most of the articles published are about new releases & gossip
  108. 108. @hannah_bo_banna clearly this wasn’t a place where we could add much to the conversation
  109. 109. @hannah_bo_banna however, we also noted that the money-side of the movie industry was also extensively covered
  110. 110. @hannah_bo_banna & we wondered if we could create something which would be of value to journalists in that space
  111. 111. we’d been aware of this dataset for a while
  112. 112. @hannah_bo_banna but we’d never figured out what to do with it
  113. 113. @hannah_bo_banna what could we do that would be new or different?
  114. 114. @hannah_bo_banna whilst the site was home to a huge amount of historical film analysis, no analysis had been done for actors, directors or film studios
  115. 115. @hannah_bo_banna could we calculate which actors, directors and studios have made the most profitable movies?
  116. 116. @hannah_bo_banna how?
  117. 117. @hannah_bo_banna if we used Box Office Mojo data to create a list of the 100 biggest grossing movies for each year from 1980 to date…
  118. 118. @hannah_bo_banna then cross-referenced this list with IMDb to gather the budget, the actors, directors, & studios associated with those films
  119. 119. @hannah_bo_banna using both datasets, we’d then be able to make ROI calculations
  120. 120. @hannah_bo_banna but what are the risks?
  121. 121. @hannah_bo_banna all data pieces are risky
  122. 122. @hannah_bo_banna until you run the numbers you’ve no idea how compelling the story is going to be
  123. 123. @hannah_bo_banna this isn’t really a new idea, it just uses a new dataset & new methodology
  124. 124. @hannah_bo_banna also, will journalists understand our maths?
  125. 125. @hannah_bo_banna we decided the risks were acceptable & ran with the idea
  126. 126. @hannah_bo_banna so…
  127. 127. @hannah_bo_banna who’s the most profitable actor in Hollywood? Tom Cruise? Brad Pitt? The Rock?
  128. 128. actually, it’s this guy, in the blue vest
  129. 129. @hannah_bo_banna we thought there were a bunch of great stories in the piece
  130. 130. @hannah_bo_banna & yet outreaching the piece proved incredibly tough
  131. 131. @hannah_bo_banna three weeks in, we’d scored a grand total of zero pieces of coverage
  132. 132. but this guy never gives up
  133. 133. @hannah_bo_banna I don’t like rules
  134. 134. @hannah_bo_banna but there’s a maxim I do believe in
  135. 135. @hannah_bo_banna if you’ve sent 100 emails & you’ve got nothing
  136. 136. @hannah_bo_banna what do you know unequivocally?
  137. 137. @hannah_bo_banna your pitch email is sh*t
  138. 138. @hannah_bo_banna so change it
  139. 139. @hannah_bo_banna it may take multiple attempts to get your email right
  140. 140. @hannah_bo_banna remember this?
  141. 141. @hannah_bo_banna will journalists understand our maths?
  142. 142. @hannah_bo_banna they didn’t
  143. 143. wtf does ROI of 6.7/1 mean?
  144. 144. @hannah_bo_banna also
  145. 145. @hannah_bo_banna language is powerful
  146. 146. @hannah_bo_banna ROI is not a term that you regularly see splashed about in headlines
  147. 147. @hannah_bo_banna James reworked the pitch again & again & again
  148. 148. @hannah_bo_banna he used terms like ‘profitable’ & ‘bankable’ not ROI
  149. 149. @hannah_bo_banna he also gave the piece context & contrast
  150. 150. @hannah_bo_banna “I noticed that Emilio Estevez and Brad Pitt ranked top and bottom, respectively, among top-billed actors.”
  151. 151. @hannah_bo_banna “I thought this was interesting because who we think of as Hollywood’s biggest stars, aren’t necessarily the people who are most bankable.”
  152. 152. @hannah_bo_banna it was this angle that generated the first piece of coverage
  153. 153. @hannah_bo_banna f*ck yeah
  154. 154. but this journalist refused to link…
  155. 155. @hannah_bo_banna f*ck
  156. 156. @hannah_bo_banna however, it’s sometimes the case that you only need one piece of top-tier coverage to get things rolling (even if that coverage has no link)
  157. 157. @hannah_bo_banna because even though that journalist refused to link
  158. 158. over 120 other journalists were happy to J
  159. 159. @hannah_bo_banna incidentally, a bunch of coverage came from the Estevez vs Pitt angle
  160. 160. but this guy is relentless
  161. 161. country-specific angles…
  162. 162. genre-specific angles
  163. 163. which women are most bankable?
  164. 164. reactive angles…
  165. 165. @hannah_bo_banna so…
  166. 166. @hannah_bo_banna what did we learn?
  167. 167. @hannah_bo_banna if you create something that’s genuinely valuable for journalists
  168. 168. @hannah_bo_banna particularly if it’s something they don’t have the time or resource to do
  169. 169. @hannah_bo_banna & you work your ass off
  170. 170. @hannah_bo_banna you can get links & coverage even for a betting & gaming client
  171. 171. @hannah_bo_banna also, on a more general note…
  172. 172. @hannah_bo_banna what we were really doing here was finding a ‘winner’
  173. 173. @hannah_bo_banna which can make for a compelling story…
  174. 174. this is the deadliest film of all time
  175. 175. Stanford has bred more unicorn founders than any other institution
  176. 176. @hannah_bo_banna ok, let’s move on…
  177. 177. @hannah_bo_banna Alternate Architecture
  178. 178. Nelly?
  179. 179. @hannah_bo_banna this was actually a replacement campaign
  180. 180. @hannah_bo_banna we had to come up with an idea which we could execute quickly & would get results
  181. 181. @hannah_bo_banna because our client is kinda pissed at us…
  182. 182. this piece was created to support the home insurance product
  183. 183. @hannah_bo_banna there are a bunch of sites devoted to home & interiors (which feels like a fairly legitimate topic)
  184. 184. @hannah_bo_banna but in our experience interior design sites can be hard to secure coverage on
  185. 185. @hannah_bo_banna & it felt like too much of a risk
  186. 186. @hannah_bo_banna we needed an idea with broad appeal
  187. 187. @hannah_bo_banna that still felt like a reasonable fit with the product
  188. 188. we’d previously seen success with this piece…
  189. 189. @hannah_bo_banna it’s about an architectural movement, but we’d also managed to gain coverage across news, travel & lifestyle
  190. 190. @hannah_bo_banna in short, we felt we needed to something a bit like that
  191. 191. here’s where it all started…
  192. 192. @hannah_bo_banna with a little research…
  193. 193. Write smart stuff
  194. 194. @hannah_bo_banna there were more…
  195. 195. @hannah_bo_banna could we do something with this?
  196. 196. @hannah_bo_banna show how these landmarks might have looked?
  197. 197. @hannah_bo_banna we could illustrate them in context…
  198. 198. @hannah_bo_banna what are the risks?
  199. 199. @hannah_bo_banna does this really need to be a piece?
  200. 200. @hannah_bo_banna could journalists write the story without our illustrations?
  201. 201. @hannah_bo_banna we’ve deliberately included landmarks in a variety of countries: UK, France, Australia, US; so there’s plenty of outreach potential… but will the piece lack cohesion as a result?
  202. 202. @hannah_bo_banna are illustrations the best way to execute?
  203. 203. this guy was confident
  204. 204. & there was something about Nelly that I found really compelling…
  205. 205. @hannah_bo_banna “let’s just do it” (me, attempting to do a leadership thing)
  206. 206. links from over 180 domains…
  207. 207. @hannah_bo_banna nevertheless
  208. 208. nice article idea dude, where’d you get it?
  209. 209. f*ck yeah
  210. 210. @hannah_bo_banna what did we learn?
  211. 211. @hannah_bo_banna understanding the media landscape is invaluable
  212. 212. @hannah_bo_banna because breadth of appeal increases your chances of success multiple verticals (news / travel / architecture / lifestyle / culture) multiple countries (UK / US / France / Australia)
  213. 213. @hannah_bo_banna Ok, let’s wrap this thing up…
  214. 214. @hannah_bo_banna how do you get those f*cking links?
  215. 215. @hannah_bo_banna there’s 3 things we do
  216. 216. @hannah_bo_banna #1 we seek to gain a *deep* understanding of the media landscape
  217. 217. @hannah_bo_banna I said this earlier…
  218. 218. @hannah_bo_banna give journalists something that allows them to write the stories they want to tell
  219. 219. @hannah_bo_banna this is a bland and useless bit of advice if you don’t understand the media landscape
  220. 220. @hannah_bo_banna because if you don’t understand the media landscape
  221. 221. @hannah_bo_banna then you don’t know what stories they want to tell
  222. 222. @hannah_bo_banna & believe me, you really need to know
  223. 223. @hannah_bo_banna a clear understanding of the media landscape was key to the success of all of the pieces I’ve talked to you about today
  224. 224. @hannah_bo_banna & every successful piece we’ve ever done
  225. 225. @hannah_bo_banna #2 we pay attention
  226. 226. @hannah_bo_banna an idea can come from anywhere
  227. 227. from other smart people…
  228. 228. thanks @staceycav & @miss_hanaB
  229. 229. from existing data
  230. 230. you may just stumble across something…
  231. 231. @hannah_bo_banna recognise these things as potential ideas
  232. 232. @hannah_bo_banna remember this?
  233. 233. You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we're doing it.
  234. 234. @hannah_bo_banna pay attention to things that might become ideas
  235. 235. @hannah_bo_banna collect them
  236. 236. @hannah_bo_banna nurture them
  237. 237. @hannah_bo_banna validate them
  238. 238. @hannah_bo_banna #3 we work our asses off
  239. 239. @hannah_bo_banna when you don’t know the whole story, it might look easy
  240. 240. @hannah_bo_banna I promise you, it’s not
  241. 241. we launched the piece in April 2017 & got coverage every single month, for a full 12 months
  242. 242. @hannah_bo_banna please don’t think that those results came from anything other than hard work
  243. 243. Image goes here…
  244. 244. @hannah_bo_banna three weeks in, we’d scored a grand total of zero pieces of coverage
  245. 245. we got links from 120 sites because we weren’t prepared to give up
  246. 246. links from over 180 domains… from a piece we had to rush through because we’d previously screwed up
  247. 247. @hannah_bo_banna I’m aware that I still may not have given you the answer you were looking for
  248. 248. @hannah_bo_banna there’s a bunch of mythology surrounding creativity
  249. 249. @hannah_bo_banna & getting those damned links
  250. 250. @hannah_bo_banna but in truth, it comes down to how hard you’re prepared to work
  251. 251. @hannah_bo_banna for what it’s worth
  252. 252. @hannah_bo_banna this comforts me
  253. 253. @hannah_bo_banna because it means that…
  254. 254. @hannah_bo_banna I don’t need to be ‘brilliant’
  255. 255. @hannah_bo_banna I don’t need to be ‘well-connected’
  256. 256. @hannah_bo_banna I don’t need to be ‘lucky’
  257. 257. @hannah_bo_banna all I actually need to do is
  258. 258. @hannah_bo_banna work *really* hard
  259. 259. @hannah_bo_banna & I can do that
  260. 260. @hannah_bo_banna you can too J
  261. 261. good luck out there x
  262. 262. @hannah_bo_banna for those of you still curious…
  263. 263. this is what happens when a werewolf bites a goldfish
  264. 264. @hannah_bo_banna Hannah Smith Head of Creative Verve Search send questions and/or pictures of cats to: hannah@vervesearch.com tweet things @hannah_bo_banna
  265. 265. @hannah_bo_banna Big love to the team at Verve who helped me put this together J Images: goldfish: http://www.boddingtonkoi.com/red-goldfish-5-6-13-15cm.html money: http://fortune.com/2017/01/19/scent-of-money/ neil gaiman: http://www.denofgeek.com/us/books/neil-gaiman/273149/neil-gaiman-announces-new-book-with-chris-riddell stacey: https://www.tecmark.co.uk/stacey-macnaught-learn-inbound-dublin-deck/ breakfast club: https://nypost.com/2014/03/28/whatever-happened-to-the-stars-of-the-breakfast-club/ buzzsumo: http://buzzsumo.com/ danbo - https://www.flickr.com/photos/nomadic_lass/6889892777/in/set-72157629144987013 weregoldfish: https://bearmantooth.deviantart.com/art/Weregoldfish-wolf-697457364 unicorn - http://queenofheartsonthesleeve.tumblr.com/post/58736423727/ok-not-much-but-here-it-is-3 Credits

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