As you may already have noticed, our Berlin team has shown no signs of slowing down its growth in 2017. We welcome five new fresh faces to the team.
Verena Singmann joins Ballou PR from the communications team of travel search engine KAYAK. Verena studied East Asian Studies in Montreal and International Affairs in Beijing before starting her career in PR. A mother of two girls, Verena is an avid volleyball player and has signed up to run a half marathon next month.
Jörn Dunker joins us as an Account Manager, having worked as a PR consultant for renowned music label Universal. Jorn wrote his university thesis about the Berlin techno music scene and has even performed gigs as a hiphop DJ.
Anne-Christin Iser joins Ballou as an economics graduate, which sparked her interest in the startup world and all things tech. Anne-Christin enjoys yoga, sushi and has dreams of hitchhiking through Europe one day.
Previously at a boutique PR agency, Fabian Wollgast joined Ballou so he could work with visionary founders in technology. He studied journalism and came to us highly recommended by another team member. Outside the office, Fabian supports his football team FC Union, and loves a crime documentary!
Last but not least we welcome Julia Ströhle to the team. Julia has previously handled communications for tech startups like udoq and Misfit by Fossil. She is also a classically trained singer so we very much look forward to her contribution in our team karaoke sessions.
Welcome to the team guys!
Ballou PR France further expands its clients list with Popchef, Secret Escapes, Trip.com and Campanda.
Campanda is a platform based on the ‘sharing economy’ principle: campervan owners can rent out their vehicles to travellers at an affordable price. Campanda has more than 26,000 campervans available in 42 countries.
Secret Escapes is an online travel agency specialising in luxury holidays in France and abroad.
Trip.com, previously GoGoBot, is a trip-planning application which provides users with recommandations based on their interests. Ballou PR will help to launch the app in France.
Popchef, a startup that delivers lunchtime meals to hungry customers, is one of the main operators in the French foodtech sector. Ballou PR look forward to working with Popchef again after they handled the PR around their last fundraising round.
Ballou PR has been appointed to increase the visibility of their new clients in the French media by developing strategic B2C campaigns.
As technology develops, more and more jobs will be replaced by technology. But what will this mean for writers and storytellers?
Cordy Griffiths is head of Ballou’s UK office. This article first appeared on Virgin. You can find the full article here.
In marketing, content has long been king. In today’s connected world, the brands that get ahead are those that create compelling content, be it stories, blogs, Facebook posts or tweets, to be enjoyed by their customers on their platforms of choice. Engagement with target audiences is every brand’s goal and generating compelling copy is key to achieving that aim.
Until recently, brand content was created by copywriters. Teams of trained writers would churn out copy based on their understanding of the brand’s values and voice. Recent advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) mean that computers are increasingly involved in this copywriting process. While computers are not yet ‘intelligent’ enough to generate content from scratch, there are a range of programmes that a copywriter can use to help them optimise their copy as they write. Acrolinx, for example, works as a sidebar that will correct your grammar as you type, suggesting more succinct phraseology, a snappier headline or a clearer narrative. Grammarly does something similar, as does Atomic Reach and a host of other AI startups.
To date, assisting a human writer is the limit of the technology. However, it’s only a matter of time before this relationship between writer and computer switches around, with the copy being generated by the algorithm initially and a human editor adding the finishing touches and doing a final sense-check to that computer-generated text. In time, perhaps the human copywriter will be excluded from the process altogether – though this point is still technically a long way off.
The implications of AI for copywriting, and by extension marketing and PR, are huge though, even as the technology stands today. For brands, the whole process of content creation is becoming more efficient, more affordable and, in theory, more impactful. For copywriters, the rise of AI generated content may well mean their days are numbered.
Beyond the commercial world though, are human writers under threat? Will the great works of fiction of the future be written by computers not people? As long ago as 1993, US computer programmer Scott French wrote a romance novel in the style of his favourite author in conjunction with his Macintosh Ilex computer. The novel was very much a labour of love as French spent years ‘teaching’ his computer the style of the author it was emulating by scanning in extracts from her work. Eventually the computer learned the style sufficiently to be able to find the right tone and draft the novel.
Former Seven Hills Director Nick Taylor has taken up a new role at technology PR specialist Ballou PR as Associate Director. Charlie Simon, previously PR Manager at social media startup Yubl and Senior Consultant at Hanover, has joined as an Account Director.
Nick will work with Ballou’s Managing Director, Cordy Griffiths, to grow the Clerkenwell-based tech agency’s London arm.
Charlie will oversee a number of new business leads and provide strategic advice to Ballou’s existing client roster, particularly focusing on strong corporate narratives.
Nick’s experience includes advising high-growth tech and fintech entrepreneurs as well as CEOs of large listed companies. He has previously managed campaigns for clients including British Business Bank, MarketInvoice and Prodigy Finance. Meanwhile Charlie has had a wealth of corporate experience having advised De Beers, NFL, Tata Steel, UK Broadband and UPS.
Nick and Charlie are the latest in many new hires for the agency across its three offices. Ballou PR’s Paris office has tripled in size over the last year and its Berlin agency team has doubled.
Cordy Griffiths, Managing Director of Ballou PR, commented: “Nick and Charlie are two extremely strong hires bolstering the team’s experience and ensuring we offer the best, most strategic advice to our clients.”
Ballou PR France has expanded its client list by winning B2B briefs for enterprise data and cloud storage solution INFINIDAT and Eureka Certification, which offers certified training on blockchain technology.
INFINIDAT focuses on helping customers to eliminate compromises between cost, capacity, functionality and performance when it comes to their storage, enabling them to focus more on what makes their organisations competitive.
Eureka offers certified courses and training on technologies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum for developers, CIOs and financiers, as blockchain applications become more and more crucial to future businesses.
Ballou has been appointed to develop thought leadership campaigns for both companies, to increase their brand awareness and position them as strategic partners for business and growth in the French market.
2017 is already off to a good start over here at Ballou Germany, as we are welcoming new member Laura Welter to our team. Previously Laura has worked as a PR Consultant for a boutique PR firm specializing in clients from the furniture and smart home industry. As a certified sociologist she worked as an Editorial assistant for Germany’s Federal Ministry for Families, Senior Citizens, Women and Youths and gained extensive knowledge in the voluntary sector working with kids of socially vulnerable families in Tanzania, Africa.
Tanzania is also where she was named Mama Matunda (Lady Fruit), apparently due to her obsession with fresh fruits. When she is not snacking on Mangos or working for BallouPR you can find Laura strolling over fleamarkets with her son or being stretched out on a couch with a psychological crime novel in the one and a moscow mule in the other hand.
Our team is growing! Last month we were delighted to welcome Julia Murray to the Ballou PR team in Germany. Julia is a Berlin-born German who loves travelling, cooking and photography. Before joining the Ballou crew, she was working for Getty Images as well as living on a farm near the Rocky Mountains in Canada which involved withstanding skunk attacks and chasing away foxes.
At Getty Images, Julia worked in contributor relations and informed clients and artists about image licensing and intellectual property rights. Prior to that, she was an editor for Goliath Books and responsible for their in-house PR and marketing. Most recently, Julia gained first-hand startup experience during her time as content manager at EyeEm in Berlin.
Welcome to the team, Julia!
Cédric, Ela and I made a recent visit to San Francisco and Silicon Valley, and we were left with one very strong impression. In the US, the technology community doesn’t whine, it just focuses on getting things done.
This was evident at the StrictlyVC Insiders event, where speakers Zander Lurie (CEO of SurveyMonkey) and Marc Andreessen (partner at a16z) didn’t once complain about competition. Instead, they talked about the opportunities they saw, and were open about mistakes they made and how they struggled to overcome them. This discussion was driven by moderator, Connie Loizos who, crucially, didn’t ask pointless questions.
So we return to Europe with renewed conviction that these pointless discussions must be stopped. The Europe vs. U.S. question is a tired one, and it always inevitably leads to a list of what we’ve got vs. what they’ve got and why we’re behind in Europe, resulting in a defeatist attitude. The question itself is the problem. The European technology ecosystem must stop comparing itself to the U.S., and rather, focus on sharing information that allows us all to be better at what we’re doing. Essentially, more talk about what people are doing effectively and what there is to learn from it, less whining about the competition.
In some cases, this is already happening. Project A’s Portfolio Day was full of useful discussions, including a top-notch talk from co-founder Florian Heinemann, titled “Trends in & Challenges in Digital Marketing.” There was also a presentation on “Cross-Channel B2B, How We Did It”, which focused on what they were doing right and what they’d learned, in a manner that both inspired and helped others.
Furthermore, the U.S. tech community isn’t complaining about issues like gender equality. They are taking action, data-driven action, working hand-in-hand with public institutions to find out what works and what doesn’t – they are not complaining in public forums about the injustices.
In short, we can change the dialogue – that’s what we do. So let’s make sure the content we turn out is driving this change, let’s make sure we’re talking about what can be done, what should be done – sharing our successes and failures. We have a great deal of influence, let’s use it for the good of the ecosystem.
One thing that was clear from the start was that Ballou PR has always been an international agency with a global network across borders and time zones alike. Founded by an American woman in France in 2002, it quickly became an agency with lots of different nationalities and colour shades, ideas and opinions. Today Ballou PR is represented with three offices in the most buzzing tech hubs of Europe. All of the offices maintain a good trialogue, exchanging objectives and planning communication matters ahead for their clients. One aspect to keep the connection between the bureaus lively is our internal exchange program.
As members of the Ballou PR staff, we are able to visit the different offices from time to time and pay the dear colleagues from abroad a visit while working for our own clients. For example, I already flew down to see the London office in September and was visited the French colleagues in Paris’ beautiful 9th Arrondisement last October. That way we can work and discuss client matters right on the spot, while travelling. At the same time we get to know one another and the culture of the respective country and find out about what moves the people in the different offices.
As tech environment is our daily business, we are always equipped with our laptops and therefore it is no problem to stay in touch with our home base and work while being in a different location, country or even time zone. And if worse comes to worse we can rely on our local co-workers as they are always happy to lend their helping hands and offer support.
Our different offices make a great effort to welcome each team in the best way possible and make one’s stay unforgettable. I personally will always remember the nice British pub that we visited after work in London for a pint or two, or the beautiful French restaurants that offered the most delicious food until late into the night. Only challenge is not to gain too much weight throughout the short visit!
Last but certainly not least, we all celebrate Christmas together and meet in a different country every year. This year Portugal is on our bucket list, and we are very excited to spend time together in Lisbon to celebrate the festive season.
It is always nice to welcome colleagues from other offices and hear their story.
We do enjoy a great culture of respect and curiosity, share some good laughs and do a great job together, no matter where we are. As a result of this in 2017 we plan to invest even more in exchange: By launching our educational program we will not only send our teams to our different office locations, but will also make sure that they will receive professional coaching by industry experts while enjoying their time abroad.
We’re pleased to announce that Ballou PR is welcoming another exciting client. Lingumi is a London-based startup and an ambitious player in education technology, looking to revolutionize the way young children learn foreign languages.
Lingumi was founded by Toby Mather, an Oxford graduate in modern languages, and computer scientist Adit Trivedi. Their mission is to enable children all over the world to begin learning English from 2 years old. Their first product, Lingumi Play, was launched in September 2016, and is already an insider’s tip in the German-speaking blogosphere.
“We decided to choose Ballou PR as our partner in communications because of the hands-on mentality of the young team. The team is very experienced in communicating digital topics and provides an excellent network”, said Toby Mather, co-founder and CEO of Lingumi.
The innovative learning programme is based upon scientific research into language acquisition, psycholinguistics, and neurolinguistics. It combines an app with tactile and child-safe Play Cubes that interact with digital activities using Augmented Reality technology, and is designed to be used by parents and children together in order to enhance the children’s learning progress.
Lingumi offers Ballou PR a new and exciting challenge: communicating with a generation that has seen digital change happen in their youth and is now raising the next generation of true digital natives.
We are very pleased to have such an exciting client join our portfolio! Welcome to Ballou PR!