Blog : #stripelife

STRIPE’S GRADUATE PROGRAMME: APPLY NOW!

STRIPE’S GRADUATE PROGRAMME: APPLY NOW!

Are you looking to kick-start your career in communications and bursting with creativity, big ideas and entrepreneurial spirit? Do you want to work in an exciting, innovative and agile communications agency?

We’re looking for smart thinking and enthusiastic people to join our Stars & Stripes graduate programme in Edinburgh. This is your chance to work with some of the UK’s most exciting brands and to be part of Stripe IQ, our immersive training and development programme. It’s also a chance to work collaboratively to see your ideas come to life.

This year the Stars & Stripes graduate programme celebrates its 10th birthday. To honour this, we’re offering two outstanding graduates permanent, paid positions in Stripe’s Edinburgh office. Competition is fierce so be prepared to go all out and prove you have the drive and ambition to kick-start your career and become a valued member of the Stripe team.

Stripe is an integrated creative communications agency delivering brand, social, PR and digital. The Stars & Stripe programme is open to anyone who thinks they have the potential to thrive in those specialisms.

To put yourself forward for the role, email stars@stripecommunications.com with your CV and a cover letter telling us exactly why you’re the right person for this role – please include any relevant experience. You must also respond to one of the following challenges:

  1. Write a short, snappy blog of up to 400 words describing a creative communications campaign that you love and why it works.

OR

  1. Provide a piece of work that shows how you would influence behavioural change. This can be for any organisation or client and can take any format – from an exciting idea or activation to a piece of creative content, GIF, visual of a stunt, design or video. Your response doesn’t necessarily need to be slick but it must demonstrate that you can think cleverly, creatively and strategically. If you have design or digital skills, feel free to show them off.

The closing date for applications is 26 April 2019 at 5pm. The candidates with the strongest submissions will be invited to a selection day at Stripe. Successful applicants will join the Stars and Stripes programme in August 2019.

Stripe: more than red noses

Stripe: more than red noses

Today is Red Nose Day (RND), and a great opportunity to get out there and, in Comic Relief’s own words, “do something funny for money”.   We’re supporting RND at Stripe (not by buying plastic noses but paying to wear red and tell the worst jokes), but what about the rest of the year?  What are we doing as a business and as individuals to play our part and ‘give back’ beyond baking cakes and taking the calorific content of morning tea to epic proportions?

It’s a good question.  Let’s face it, we don’t really need £10 worth of homemade cookies and cakes at 11am, but it’s easy, quick and visible.  It lets us all feel OK that we’ve done our bit for charity.

While fundraising is hugely important, what’s harder is really being committed. What’s harder is standing up for something we believe in, tackling difficult issues, putting ourselves in others’ shoes, taking the path less travelled, thinking and acting differently. And asking your staff to do all that when you’re already a busy agency.

At Stripe, giving back is high on our agenda.  We believe it’s our duty to support the communities we live and work in, to provide opportunity, to inspire, assist, encourage and champion.  It benefits those around us and invigorates our staff, challenges perspectives and encourages fresh thinking year-round.

So, are we walking the walk – you decide?  For the past 12 years, we’ve offered every Stripe a Passion Day to support a cause close to their heart, had a companywide charitable focus for the year and given guest lectures to inform and inspire the next generation of communicators.  We’ve worked free of charge to address the taboo of self-harm, to challenge sexism and outdated mindsets in the communications industry and to raise awareness (and funds) for a specialist Breast Cancer unit.  We’ve slept out in freezing temperatures to support the end of homelessness in Scotland, we’ve improved school playgrounds, cycled across the country, paid every single internship and mentored rising stars.

We’re doing all this not because we have to, but because we want to. So, while we’re absolutely doing something funny for money today, it’s important to us to give back and pay it forward year-round.

The Art of Insta Influence

The Art of Insta Influence

As you place that final blueberry on top of your porridge and the tub of cocoa powder on the counter ‘accidentally’ spills, perfectly framing your best china bowl, you lift your camera – poised and ready to get the perfect shot of your creation. You get a snap that fits your Instagram feed perfectly, a masterpiece that would rival the work of Salvador Dali… well maybe not, but one that will get you a lot of likes!

Thanks to this platform we have all become Instagram artists, it allows us as individuals to become creative directors of our own online brand. Ultimately you can be as creative, commercial, comical or artistic as you like and for the marketing and PR industries, working with influencers is a gamechanger in bringing campaigns to life.

Influencer led campaigns can work with those who have a large number of followers, known as macro influencers, or those with a smaller group of followers, between 3,000 – 10,000, which we classify as micro influencers. Campaigns can incorporate influencers in several ways including personal appearances, content creation, brand ambassador partnerships and influencer gifting.

I’ve pulled together three of our top tips on generating beautiful and effective user-generated content through Instagram influencer gifting, which can perfectly complement your campaign.

Be reactive!

With Instagram Stories now boasting 400 million daily users, keeping an eye on your Instagram feed can prove very helpful when scoping out macro influencers who you think will like your product. A speedy message to the influencer is a must. If someone puts a story up saying their favourite snack is pitta bread, and you happen to have a large box of them in the office, send them a personalised box, like we did with Lucy Mecklenburgh and Tiffany Watson  for our client, The Food Doctor.

It’s not all about numbers

As great as it is to engage macro influencers, sometimes they just aren’t the right fit for the brand. It’s all about doing your research and getting your product into the hands of the right people. Identifying influencers with a smaller following, who will truly love the brand and the message is just as beneficial. By gifting your product to micro influencers, and forming strong relationships with them, you’re likely to generate amazing and authentic content that will deliver meaningful engagements.

Think about the bigger picture

When you think about your mail out, imagine the journey your box will go on. From the agency, to the post office, to the talent agent and beyond. The challenge is getting your product to its final destination in excellent condition and packaged perfectly to entice the influencer to take the Insta worthy image. Pack your mail out how you want it to be opened and remember that little details make a big difference. For example, if you’re sending out a bottle of alcohol, why not include a cocktail recipe card?

And, above all else, don’t forget your compliment slip where you can include your hashtags, social handles and a personal thank you. An influencer who gets countless packages each week is likely to remember a gift that stands out and will be more likely to share it with their followers.

Inspiring Creativity – It’s a dangerous business but someone has to do it.

Inspiring Creativity – It’s a dangerous business but someone has to do it.

‘Creativity essentially scares people…’

This is a quote I used to start a talk I did recently for the Marketing Society Scotland.

The event was titled ‘Inspiring Creativity’ and was the third of the Inspiring Minds programme, designed to explore five key areas of marketing. Of those five areas which include briefing, planning, results and presentations – creativity is the most elusive.

Why? Because the end result of the creative process is what everyone cares about, and no-one really wants to know about the ugly truth behind the journey you take to arrive at that place.

This seems strange, but it’s true.

It’s scary for clients to commit completely to creativity, because it is unchartered territory. It is by definition, non-conformist.

It’s scary – in fact it can be an excruciating prospect – to be the person tasked to think creatively… Especially to order.

The process is so awkward. Luke Sullivan, author of ‘Hey Whipple, Squeeze This’, describes creativity as ‘like washing a pig.’

So why do we do it?

Because it amplifies our message. It allows us to cut through into those uncharted places, it keeps us dynamic and it keeps us alive and even though it is the hardest role of all to fulfil, it’s the most rewarding one.

‘I am not creative’ is a phrase people say all the time. However, in reality this is not true, because if you are alive, you can create. Fear of the unknown and comfort of the usual, are the active restrictions at play here. To be creative you just need to have the confidence to push the boundaries a bit further.

Creativity is the soul of all marketing, branding and communications and we all need to be thinking creatively throughout the whole process. If we don’t, we lose the opportunity to make the biggest impact and make the most difference, to do the best work; and as hard as it can be, make us feel amazing about what we do.

So, how do we inspire ourselves to be less intimidated and be more creative?

First absorb the world around you: look, listen and understand. As George Lois says, ‘Nothing comes from nothing. You must continuously feed the inner beast that sparks and inspires’.

Second, know the formulas.

As part of the creative induction process here at Stripe I have come up with what I call, ‘Five Ingredients to Create’. This is a crib sheet for the creative process and if you are using one or more cribs on this list then you’ve got it in the bag.

# 1 Be Original.

It’s obvious but it’s hard, because originality is abstract. Making something original is taking all the references and facts you see every day and adding that little twist to make it unique.

Picasso once said, ‘Good artists copy. Great artists steal.’

Interestingly, this was a phrase used by Steve Jobs in relation to design at Apple. This was explained later by Apple’s Bud Tribble, “if you take something and make it your own… it’s becomes your design, and that’s the dividing line between copying and stealing. That is part of Apple’s DNA.”

Creativity does not exist in a vacuum; it can do, but it seldom does. Take from the creativity of others, but make it a heist.

# 2 Be Reactive

Listen and jump into the conversation, this way you create immediacy. Instead of drawing in someone’s attention, you can fall purposely into it. Be there and be aware.

# 3 Concept and Craft

Think about concept and think about craft and how they work with each other to make an idea great. Sometimes you need to bring more creativity to the party to add value to an idea. On the other hand if the work is all craft with no concept, idea or strategy, it will lose its relevance or story. Treat the message right. Let it grow.

# 4 Innovation

Know about it. Digital and technology is moving forward around us, like an out of control juggernaut, and we all need to be aware what’s going on. Run beside it if you can’t be in front of it. Be ready to introduce new technology and techniques. Keep things exciting and dynamic. Use innovation. Use it first and be remembered.

# 5 Mistakes are good

Be careful with this one because it’s not the mistakes we make that are good, it’s how we allow them to take us forward that is. You are not being creative if you are not prepared to fail. It is a leap of faith that you have to be inspired enough to take. As daunting a prospect as this may be, this crib is the most important of all.

 

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Why be good when you can be scarily great.

Most exciting job on earth? Experienced community manager sought!

Most exciting job on earth? Experienced community manager sought!

We are looking for an experienced, passionate and ambitious community manager to work closely with one of our exciting clients based in London. With an international audience, the role will involve on and offline activity, content creation, influencer management, proactive and reactive social posting, tackling multiple brands and channels simultaneously and everything that comes with that responsibility.

You will be energetic, outgoing, have a love for all things entertainment and showbiz as well as the ability to work in a fast paced culture, but in an organised way. With a solid understanding of how brands use social channels, how they should operate in the social space and the ability to lead an account from planning, delivery through to reporting and analysis, you’ll deliver innovatively and effectively.

If you are curious and creative, with amazing communication skills and a major love of the Mail Online’s sidebar of shame, send your CV and links to your work to talent@stripecommunications.com.

Location: London
Ideal start date: ASAP

Stripe are seeking a senior creative conceptual designer

Stripe are seeking a senior creative conceptual designer

Are you bursting with ideas, a pixel-perfect perfectionist and have passion for the exact amount of white space? Stripe are on the hunt for a talented and ambitious senior conceptual designer to join our Edinburgh team full or part-time and to deliver across both Edinburgh and London clients.

Stripe is a leading creative and digital communications agency known for being a fast-paced, dynamic and fun place to work. We are award winning both for the work we deliver as well as being a great place to work.

You are the next generation of Stripe, helping take creativity to the next level. You deliver outstanding creative, especially in the digital arena, however your experience will include the ability to develop concepts that go beyond digital tactics and tie into emotive ideas that engage and move the audience.

The role requires social asset creation (static, gifs etc), video editing, photography, creative direction, participation in brainstorms, campaign conception and development, an understanding of print and production and the ability to give and take feedback constructively to achieve the best solution possible.

You are a people person, thrive on being challenged and are keen to make your mark in the creative world and across the business.

Sound good? Then send your CV and portfolio to talent@stripecommunications.com.

Closing date is Sunday 1st July.

How I earned my Stripes

How I earned my Stripes

With the applications for the 2018 Stars & Stripes graduate programme closing later on Friday 4th May, I thought this would be a good time to reflect on my experience of the programme, which kicked off a year ago today when I submitted my own application.

What happened next?

Stripe contacted me the following week to let me know I had successfully reached the interview stage of the process, which would be taking place on Stripe’s canal boat/meeting room… ‘the barge.’ An onslaught of thoughts flew through my mind; what would the competition be like? What would I be asked in the interview? Who would be interviewing me? And most importantly, was I going to get seasick on the barge?!

The interview was tough, there’s no point sugarcoating it. When you are up against fierce competition to work for a shit hot company, what can you expect? After a presentation from the managing director, we were put through our paces in speed dating style interviews and a tough timed writing test. Although challenging, the session was really enjoyable and gave us our first insight into what it was like to be a ‘Stripe’.

After this, I received the amazing news that I had a place on the Stars & Stripes programme and my first day arrived in no time.

Slotting into life at Stripe

Any nerves I had about starting my new role were very quickly quashed when I was welcomed so warmly into the team and given a detailed introduction to the accounts I was going to be working on and the training that we would be receiving.

From day one, development was a huge focus and I joined the Stripe Academy programme. As part of this, we took part in sessions on everything from account management to writing skills and pitching, to evaluation and reporting. All of these helped me feel totally equipped to carry out my work day to day.

What to expect as one of the Stars & Stripes

I was catching up with my university lecturers recently and said to them: “if you’d have asked me this time last year what I would have expected to have done and achieved in just a year, I would never have expected it to have been this much.”

It’s a common belief that on many graduate programmes you play a bit of a background role, not really getting involved in key projects, however, at Stripe this couldn’t be further from the truth. On my first week, I set off to Glasgow to attend a photocall followed by a client meeting at The Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square about the swanky launch party that was taking place later in the year.

Since then, I have written media releases, social copy and procedures, planned parties, launched products, worked on digital ad campaigns, received a promotion… and this is only half of it!

Applications for the Stars & Stripes graduate programme close at 5pm on Friday 4th May. To find out more and how to apply, click here

Make a Date with Data Protection

Make a Date with Data Protection

So what can I say about GDPR? Sadly for the Stripe team the term doesn’t stand for God Damn Public Relations, if it did we’d ace that.

What I’m talking about is the General Data Protection Regulation, not the most exhilarating topic perhaps, but please don’t stop reading, let me explain…

The regulation is a new law that will come into force across the EU (including the UK, we’re still in it for now) this May. The law makes it incumbent for businesses to safeguard all their staff, client and supplier private information; meaning that they have to be a lot more sensible about the personal information that they collect and store.

The UK’s existing data protection law was created back in 1998, the same year Geri left the Spice Girls, Titanic was top of the Box Office and two PhD students from California created a little-known search engine named Google. Needless to say, a lot has changed since then and the law relating to data badly needed updating for a new generation, one that communicates, shops, banks and does business online.

Almost every week the media reports on yet another company that has either fallen prey to hackers or has inadvertently shared customer information with a third party. This dissemination of personal information leads to an array of problems, ranging from nuisance phone calls (“Have you been mis-sold PPI?”) through to fraud and identity theft.

Last month the user database for popular app My Fitness Pal was hacked. I’ve intermittently used the app to chronicle my various failed attempts to shape up. As a result of the hack, I now know that my contact details and (even more terrifyingly) my weight could be in the hands of anyone. And this is small fry compared to other headlines – the patients whose NHS medical records were hacked; or the Grindr users whose HIV status was sold to a third-party marketing firm…Life is getting a little too Black Mirror, and that is exactly why we need GDPR.

Like most professions, in the comms industry we do, by trade, collect some personal data. In preparation for the upcoming law change, we’re implementing new and secure processes for managing data, emails and encouraging our clients to do the same. Our goal is to ensure all the data we keep on file is up-to-date, relevant to our business, and above all, stored safely.

The law sets a new standard for data protection and makes businesses accountable for how they control and process data. It will require changes in mind set and processes, but ultimately, the outcomes are positive; the law will help us ensure our privacy and reclaim a degree of autonomy in the digital age.

Three cheers for data protection.

Who’s leading the way this International Women’s Day?

Who’s leading the way this International Women’s Day?

We are currently at the epicentre of a new feminist movement spearheaded by the #MeToo campaign, and as a result International Women’s Day (IWD) is arguably more significant than ever before.

Given the swell of conversation calling for gender equality, IWD presents the perfect  opportunity for brands to showcase their commitment to the solution by pushing for real societal and business change.

However, not everyone has hit the mark. Here’s Stripe’s breakdown of this year’s best and worst IWD campaigns and whether they really #PressforProgress…

Mattel, Inspirational Barbies

Here’s a great example of a brand identifying an issue and taking positive steps to address it, rather than just paying it lip-service.

When Mattel, maker of Barbie, found 86% of mothers around the globe are worried about the kind of role models their daughters are exposed to, they responded by marking IWD with the release of a new range of dolls celebrating inspirational, historical women. They also released a further 14 dolls in their ‘Shero’ range, including a doll version of UK boxer Nicola Adams.

While there are currently only three dolls in the ‘Inspiring Women’ range: Amelia Earhart, Frida Kahlo and Katherine Johnson, Mattel assures us there will be more coming.

For those of us who can think back to playing with anatomically impossibly shaped dolls and only really being influenced by how it looked, it’s nice to think this generation will be encouraged to think ‘Yes, I can be a successful boxer, mathematician, director, artist’… the list goes on.

Well played, Mattel.

Luxor Crystal, Whisky glass ‘for women’

The Austrian firm, Luxor Crystal, known for making luxury glassware embellished with Swarovski crystals, has designed the Highlander Whisky Glass featuring ‘a new shape especially for women’.

Apparently our hand shapes are so delicate we require special glassware. Please.

The glass design itself is lovely, but the marketing campaign is misguided. Women do not need gender-specific drinking products – this condescension does not endear us to your brand. All Luxor Crystal has done is reinforce the gender stereotype that whisky is a man’s drink. Can’t women just enjoy a dram in whatever glass they choose?

Uber, #DrivenWomen

Uber’s #DrivenWomen campaign film introduces audiences to the brand’s female drivers, in a bid to challenge the oldest gender stereotype out there. The video celebrates the brand’s female drivers by showcasing their voices on how driving makes them feel and how it positively impacts on their lives – helping to actually drive change on the issue (pardon the pun).

We’re often surprised to be met by female drivers, simply because there’s less of them. And the #DrivenWomen campaign answers many of the questions passengers are afraid to ask. Why do they drive? What do they like about it? Is it becoming more common? Do passengers ever challenge their suitability for the job?

The drivers profess the benefits of being in control of their own schedules, and according to a recent global study 74% of female driver-partners cited flexibility as the key reason they drive for Uber.

The campaign has its finger on the pulse of a real issue – visibility – by showing the women behind the wheel. It’s a win for empowerment and equality, exactly what IWD stands for.

Next and Hello! Magazine, Star Mums

Unveiling an all-white, glamorous panel of celebrity mothers to judge Hello! Magazine’s ‘Star Mums’ competition, sponsored by Next, has succeeded in one thing – royally pissing off their target demographic.

The selected line up chosen to dub the publication’s Star Mum has resulted in national backlash for both brands’ ‘‘narrow view of motherhood”. Unfortunately for both Next and Hello!, they’ve managed to offend the people they were trying to empower with a poorly executed and thought-out representation of mothers in British society.

Albeit a misunderstanding, what was meant to be celebration of diverse mothers doing incredible things has gone down like a lead balloon by losing sight of the competition’s purpose.