Author Archives: Siobhan O'Brien Holmes

About Siobhan O'Brien Holmes

Head of Content Siobhan started out as a magazine journalist, writing features and celeb interviews for SHE, Now, Mizz and Prima. Next she worked as Online Editor at Virgin Media, running the website and social channels for Virgin Media Shorts, the UK's largest short film competition.

06.05.2016
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Something for the weekend: Ducks, death and dogs with jobs

Happy sunny Friday, marketing fans! As always (well, sometimes) we’re here to save you, ohhh, at least five minutes by tracking down the best of the week’s online gems so you can click and read and laugh and learn all the live long day. No need to thank us, although we do like Cadbury’s Fingers a lot at the moment if you’re passing Sainsbury’s.

Design

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Writing

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Everything else 

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Have a lovely weekend, ya filthy animals xxx

Author:
Siobhan O'Brien Holmes
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04.05.2016

Come on, come on, let’s work together

I know we haven’t had a chance to tell you how wonderful Pollen was last month, but rest assured it was wonderful. Thank you so much to the 120-odd attendees who dragged themselves to central London on a Tuesday evening to talk to strangers and play bingo. We had an excellent night and met so many lovely people, and we’re already looking forward to the next one.

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Traditionally, networking events have been something I’ve feared and hated with the passion of a thousand suns. I’m not a natural ‘joiner’, and I don’t even like being around all my best friends at once let alone total bloomin’ unknown grown-ups in suits. Steve is fabulous at chatting to strangers and never runs out of things to talk about, so he can’t understand why I hate these situations so much, but I know I’m not alone! Around 50% of the population are introverts, and if anything sends an introvert into a spiral of fear and nausia it’s a networking event. But they can be so useful in terms of meetings new people, finding potential new clients, maybe hunting for a new role, so it’s a real shame that half the UK avoids them like the plague.

Pollen is great for me because it instantly gives me a reason to talk to people, and that’s always been my biggest worry: won’t people think I’m annoying or weird if I just walk right up to them and start talking? Well, no, they won’t, because that’s sort of the point of networking, but it’s easier said than done. If you’re having trouble with the approach, I recommend planning out what you’re going to say to people when you introduce yourself. Tell them a funny fact about yourself, or something weird that happened to you at work today, or just be honest and tell them you’re a little nervous because you find networking a bit awkward. There’s a 50/50 chance that this person feels exactly the same way and will be delighted to chat to somebody on their wavelength, but if you’ve chanced upon an extrovert, relax: they’ll be more than happy to steer the conversation and prod your sales pitch out of you.

There are loads of websites full of networking tips for nervous Normans like us, such as:

But one of the best suggestions I’ve found is contacting / researching people in advance. Go through the guest list, see who you want to meet and read up on them so you’ve got a ready-made icebreaker when you get there. Email them in advance and tell them you’d love to chat on the night. I, for one, fear the unknown in these situations, so having somebody I can seek out and speak to on arrival makes things a little bit easier. Another tip is to get there early. I usually rock up to these things as late as possible so I get minimum face time, but getting there before everybody else and settling in with a drink positions you as the person new arrivals want to talk to. You’ll probably get chatting to the hosts too, because they’ll be standing around waiting for the masses to show up, and you can grill them for some extra insight into who’s coming and what to expect from the event. Plus, you can leave as early as you like because you were the first one there and that always earns brownie points.

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So, if you are the shy and retiring type or you’ve never been to a networking event and think it sounds dreadful, know that I will do my best to make it easier on you if you come to Pollen! Hang out with me until you find somebody better to talk to. I won’t be offended.

I’d love to know what you like or don’t like about networking events and how we could make Pollen even better, especially if you’re an introvert! Leave us a comment and we’ll send you positive vibes.

Author:
Siobhan O'Brien Holmes
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29.04.2016

Sio’s copywriting swipe file #4: Apartment Therapy

Typically, 404 pages fill me with rage and leave me fiddling furiously with the URL until I figure out where some over-worked marketing assistant has forgotten to put a hyphen or backslash. But a nice error message like this one tends to soothe me a tad:

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This one isn’t as much about the copy as it is about the overall concept. It comes courtesy of Apartment Therapy, a ridiculously popular home interiors blog I read sometimes, and the ‘we missed a spot’ idea is cute given the theme. But I really like the consolation links they’ve provided, offering suggestions for finding other lost things, like missing pets and a silent phone. It’s funny, it helps revive old posts (one of them contains a few affiliate links so the extra clicks won’t hurt) and it makes you think they really do feel pretty crap about sending you on a wild goose chase.

Why every brand doesn’t bother crafting a bespoke 404 page I’ll never know. This article gives an interesting little summary of the anatomy of a 404 page, along with some super clever pages like this one from, of course, Virgin Holidays.

And of course if you’re curious, you can go hunting for Bloodybigspider’s 404 page. See you there!

Author:
Siobhan O'Brien Holmes
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21.04.2016

Sio’s copywriting swipe file #3: Irvin funfairs

Oh hi, readers! Please come and take a stroll with me through my copywriting swipe file on this lovely spring day. Don’t worry if you’re up to your ears in your Wednesday workload, because this is the shortest bit of copy in my folder and we’ll be finished in, oh let’s say four minutes.

A few years ago, the nice people of Irvin Leisure Funfairs (perhaps George Irvin himself!) followed me on Twitter, for reasons I can only imagine. Well, I’m glad they did because their bio became the first entry in my swipe file:

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Isn’t it nice? Their opening line really got my attention: ‘London’s best family funfair with five generations of experience’. Way to squeeze your location, target audience and USP into nine words! I think it’s pretty impressive to be able to say you’ve been running funfairs for five generations; I checked their website and the Irvins have actually been in the ‘travelling amusement’ industry since the mid-1800s, so you probably won’t find many families still in the game who have more expertise than these guys. I also love that family angle, as it suggests this isn’t just a business, it’s something they really care about. Can’t you just picture them sitting in their back garden with G&Ts talking tin can alleys and tea cup rides?

If it were up to me, I’d be more specific about Irvin Leisure’s 19th-century beginnings in that bio – something like London’s best family funfair with five generations and 165 years of experience – because you can’t buy heritage like that. I mean, this is just adorable: ‘After a life of travel and adventure he returned to his native county and married a local girl, then opened a dancing booth at travelling fairs, in which he played the fiddle.’ If I’m looking for a family funfair in London, I’m definitely going to opt for the one that started as a fiddler in a Victorian dancing booth. So the moral of the story is SHOUT about your USP and heritage if you’ve got them, not just in long-form web copy but anywhere you can. Your Twitter bio might be the first thing prospects read about you, so tell them why they should keep reading.

Author:
Siobhan O'Brien Holmes
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26.02.2016

Something for the weekend

Hey there! Big, HUGE news this week: Pollen has landed.

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Join us on Tuesday 5th April in The Finery, a lovely pub just off Oxford Street. It’s free entry, and we have an excellent (totally optional) little ice-breaker thing that you will love if I do say so myself. If you work in marketing / comms / PR / design or something sort of similar, come along and say hello!

In other news, after a couple of late nights this week we had a really successful presentation of first idea for a new client (top secret at the moment, would love to tell you but then we’d have to ask you nicely not to tell anybody else and I’m not sure we can trust you).

That’s about it for now. Stay tuned, we’ll have lots of exciting stuff to tell you next week and if we don’t we’ll make some up.

Links from the week:

Happy weekend! xox

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(Awesome BBS doodle courtesy of design intern Taylor Trotman!)

Author:
Siobhan O'Brien Holmes
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