Category Archives: Communication


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.

Siobhan O'Brien Holmes

Who let the blogs out? #1

We read all our favourite marketing blogs so you don’t have to. The best tips, facts and stats from the experts every week:

1. Unbounce – landing page advice

  • Hero images can really let your landing page down. The dominant photo on there should be a ‘credible photo of a solution that encompasses relevance, context, value and emotion to support, educate or persuade your visitor’. So don’t send your hero out there without his cape. [Read more]
  • Message match is important. The messaging, particularly the headline, of your landing page should tie in strongly with the wording of your ad so people are reassured that they’re in the right place. [Read more]
  • Flip through the first lines of a few books for landing page copy inspiration. You should be defining your intentions straight away so readers know what they’re in for. [Read more]
  • Treat your web visitors like wild animals. People are hunting for information on your website like animals forage for food, so make it easy to find and exciting to read. Rawr. [Read more]


2.  Social Media Today – award-winning social media blog

  • Right Relevance is a nice way of sourcing and queuing up interesting tweets that relate to what you do. We usually use Klout for this, but Right Relevance seems to dig out more discerning, carefully targeted content. [Read more]
  • When choosing a service provider for your email marketing, website integration should be an important factor. The sign-up process for new users should be completely automatic, with new subscribers being instantly added to the database without any fiddling around from you. [Read more]
  • After evergreen content? Use the Google Adwords Keyword Planner tool to find popular, low-competition keywords that relate to your USP. [Read more]


3. Copyblogger – content marketing advice

  • You should think of infographics like pillars that reach back in the past to revive old content and reaches forward to create more content. [Read more]
  • To encourage activity on your blog, get a ‘blog buddy’ who will comment on everything you post, and then do the same for them. This is the equivalent of buskers throwing a few quid in their own hat to persuade passers-by to add to the kitty. [Read more]
  • Content marketing can help maintain healthy relationships with your customers. That way, most customers will eventually turn into fans of the brand, and vice versa. [Read more]
  • Despite claims to the contrary, The Lego Movie fails as a piece of content marketing because there was no clear call to action. [Read more]


4. SfEP – The Society for Editors and Proofreaders

  • Use a recent photo of yourself on Twitter or LinkedIn so people recognise you at networking events. [Read more]
  • Treadmill desks can help you concentrate and increase productivity. [Read more]
  • A recent survey by The Chartered Institute of Building found that most people would trust a builder more if they knew they were a member of a professional body. This mindset applies to other industries too. [Read more]

We like to waste spend a lot of time reading marketing blogs, so please give a shout out to your favourites below and help us procrastinate even more.


Something for the bank holiday weekend


Just in case you didn’t know, this Monday is a BANK HOLIDAY! ✨ That obviously calls for a bumper edition of SFTW.

Steve and I will mostly be painting our house and watching Friday Night Lights on Netflix this weekend. How about you?


  • Fancy a drink at this Pantone themed cafe?
  • Start wearing Hattie Stewart’s awesome illustrations all over your body right now
  • Dublin-based Offset creative is finally bringing its conference to London – snap up your tickets for the November event for your chance to hear a talk from Mother London’s head of strategy, amongst others
  • Well done to the US Postal Service for such a nice Instagram account, combing vintage black and white photos with contemporary lifestyle shots, happy postage stories and lots of pictures of letters
  • If you’re a freelancer or start-up hunting for clients, how do you attract the big guns?
  • And speaking of freelancers, this is a nice piece on getting your work seen without being a dick about it
  • Get your tickets to Creative Bloq’s Generate London conference in the posh Grand Connaught Rooms
  • This article on the evolution of magazine covers is really interesting, but it’s pretty sad to see how publications like Cosmopolitan and GQ have resorted to sticking half naked guys and gals on the front
  • I’m planning to write my MA dissertation on the significance of colour and pattern in The Wizard of Oz books, and Steve found me this nice little article about the power of colour in branding for background research
  • This Instagram account is pure stationery porn
  • I remember GeoCities far too well – I had a dreadful, dreadful site when I was about 12 that I very much want to forget – and now some of the worst excuses for websites have been brought back from the dead
  • Steve likes this cool perspective / op art by Rob Lee. A client (Laura at Ruder Finn) recommended him and now we’re just looking for a project we can use him for!

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Everything else

  • Get your favourite old-school computer game soundtrack on vinyl (I’ll take Sonic the Hedgehog and Tetris please)
  • More research for my MA, this time about the history of hair. Did you know that women in the renaissance period used to pluck their hairline to give the illusion of a bigger forehead? I kind of wish I didn’t know that, it makes me feel a bit weird
  • This is so good! Superhero taglines through the ages. I particularly love ‘Wham! Now it’s all on the Cinema Screen in Colour!’ (Batman 1966) and ‘You’ll Believe a Man Can Fly’ (Superman: The Movie 1978)
  • This photo gallery of historic UK postboxes is cute, particularly the 1870s parish box that looks like a little fairy house
  • The Shining is one of my top three movies of all time (along with The Wizard of Oz and Pulp Fiction) and I couldn’t really love Jack Nicholson more if I tried, so this video of him getting pumped up before the big ‘Here’s Johnny’ scene made me happy. It’s also really cool to see scans of Kubrick’s notes in his copy of King’s book, and a snippet of King’s original screenplay. I love Stephen King with all my heart but that looked like one rubbish script, so hurray for Kubrick
  • We all like a good atom bomb right? This Disney book, ‘Our friend the atom’, is full of gorgeous illustrations aiming to promote the bomb to AmericansScreen Shot 2015-08-28 at 13.49.47

That’s all for this week, folks. Have a lovely bank holiday!


Something for the weekend: Austin Flowers, Johnny Cash cream and Moby Dick bookmarks

Goodbye July, hello August, and hello to our lovely new intern Laura. BBS Creative Director is very much outnumbered in the agency these days, with the team now made up of four women vs one Steve. Mwah ha ha ha.

As you trot off into your sunny Saturday, here are some thoroughly fascinating websites and articles we’ve stumbled across in the past five days. Bookmark a few and read them as you skip through the buttercups and ride carousel horses over fences or however it is you spend your weekend if you’re not a Disney character.




  • If there’s one thing that cheers me up on a cloudy day it’s a good shop name pun (fish and chip takeaways are my favourite) so I very much enjoyed this list and the comments below. Nothing will ever beat Jason Donervan though

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Siobhan O'Brien Holmes

Something for the weekend: subject lines, squeeze pages and 1920s aliens

It’s been a typically busy week in BBS towers and we’re rounding off the week with a quieter-than-usual beer o’clock (since Miranda’s off in sunny Scotland) and a #FeelGoodFriday playlist courtesy of Spotify. We’re definitely ready for the weekend and reckon you probably are too, so here are a few lovely links to tide you over ’til Monday in case you miss work too much. Now go have fun in the rain.


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  • I always try to get a couple of cold hard stats from clients when writing copy. It can really add weight to a message and prove your point in a way that words just can’t. This article on how numbers can tell a story is totally spot on.
  • Email subject lines are so important but they’re often an afterthought. Mailchimp put together some basic best practice tips, like avoiding spam triggers (don’t say ‘free’ or ‘help’) and keeping subject lines to around 50 characters.
  • Getting the word out there can be hard for a small business – trust us, we know! So this handy list of ideas for marketing a small biz is really useful, and it was tweeted by Virgin Pioneers who are awesome.
  • Apparently minimal signup pages (AKA squeeze pages) get the most conversions.
  • It’s all about emoji branding these days.

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Reading & writing

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Everything else

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