Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Writing guide l Why you should blog

Blogging can be as much for personal enjoyment and fun than it is for a steady income or personal achievement. As an aspiring journalist (kind of), I see the value in online blogging. Some of the best ideas have originated from blogs and it is definitely a great way to deliver a message to an audience; both well targeted and alert. It can create a high level of engagement and provoke responses from all over the globe. Yet it all came from the comfort of your home, office or space.


Different types of blogging


Enjoyment – first and foremost blogging can be about expressing yourself online. It is one of the best places to voice your opinion and receive almost instant feedback. You can create small communities online depending on your likes/dislikes or interests. Blogs can also be combined with your other ‘stamps’ online such as Pinterest, Google+, Flickr, Facebook and Twitter. So within the space of someone reading your blog they can connect to the other sites you express your personality and identity on.

Reviewing – if you are fortunate enough you can be paid to review products online. This can be great publicity for your own blog as well as for the company asking for the review. Usually you will be given the opportunity to try a product and then write a balanced review [though the company will obviously be hoping for a positive review]. If you are headhunted, or you a find a particular company you love, you could be reviewing a number of products; from the latest innovative hair and beauty product to a newly released film or novel.

Guest blogging – guest blogging is the perfect opportunity to gain more exposure as a person and for your website. It creates a larger ‘web’ of your presence online. Perfect. It can also be an exciting way to acquire new readers and build relationships with other bloggers. It is also (here comes the SEO part) great for search engines such as Google and Yahoo. You will also be in a new community online which is great for extending your knowledge and interests (also known as personal development).

Online portfolio – whether you are a student finishing college or university, or perhaps an expert marketing assistant an online portfolio can continue to showcase your writing skills and the ability to adapt for web. It can be a second CV in addition to your electronic (or possibly paper) copy. Being online shows you are in touch with technology and you can also demonstrate to a future employer your range of skills, for instance with photography, InDesign, Photoshop, WordPress, Flickr etc. The list really does go on!

Paid bloggingit is a dream job to be paid for blogging yet that is right, it shouldn’t just be a dream. If you create enough chances (usually to do with your great writing skills) this can soon become a reality. Or alternatively there are full-time jobs working as a ‘blogger’ for a company or within their social media and marketing department. In Journey’s words “don’t stop believing!”

Top five tips for blogging

  1. Find four bloggers that you like and follow them on a regular basis. Take note of the articles they are producing and how they acquire an audience.
  2. Sign up to Google Alerts and find trends which you enjoy writing about. For example you could sign up to the latest film releases and write a weekly film review. It is a great way to find content which will receive hits quickly in a short amount of time. Bear in mind these blog posts may not be evergreen content so always think why you are adding the content to your blog, ask yourself, what is the purpose of this post?
  3. Write in your own style. Individuality really is key and this is sometimes forgotten in the World Wide Web.
  4. Promote your blog posts via all your social media channels. However remember to target these websites differently. Keep your audience in mind. No doubt (and it goes without saying) people using LinkedIn are using the site differently to that on Twitter.
  5. Above all else have fun and enjoy writing whatever your style may be or personal preference. I still hand write notes before I go anywhere near a computer, so don’t be afraid to express yourself the way you want to. Blogging can open up a ‘new world’!


I am available as a guest blogger for your site, so if you like my writing style or think I can do something for you please contact me. If you are a business or company with new products I am available for reviewing. I have previously reviewed products for the health and beauty industry and written critical pub and restaurant reviews for Sussex Food and Drink Guide 2013.

Please leave a message below if you would like to get in contact or if you have any questions/thoughts regarding this blog post (or any others). I appreciate hearing from you.


Comparative analysis of BBC News vs. The Guardian

The internet “has been called the greatest advance in communication…nearly every national magazine…has a Web site” (Foust 2009:1). Online journalism is competitive, and to be successful websites have to be able to meet user’s needs on the Web. The five key elements of online journalism will be analysed: design and layout, SEO (search engine optimization), usability, interaction and content features on the BBC News (2010, a) and The Guardian (2010), referred to as BBC and Guardian, identifying whether user’s needs are being addressed and how, with examples.


“Once users arrive at a page, they can usually figure out what to do there” (Nielsen 2000:164). Design helps a user know where they are and what the website is about. The home page discussed by Nielsen (2000) is often the first page a user sees therefore the use of a prominent logo helps explain a website. “BBC News” and “” are at the top of the page with two navigation bars below (categories). A user quickly establishes both pages are online news websites and with (ten +) categories each site shows extensive depth. The BBC home page features the iconic world logo, reflecting “core values” (Allan 2006) which as a PSB is to inform, educate and entertain. The BBC’s established ‘world image icon’ used in the media (newspapers/television) communicates its journalism content; worldwide and ethos orientated. In contrast, Guardian does not have a representational image but a distracting advertisement banner (content features).The four principles of design are unity, contrast, hierarchy and consistency, Foust (2009). Unity is achieved through a basic design on Guardian and BBC. The top navigation bars are used as users are “comfortable with it” (Foust 2009:107). A recognisable layout means an enjoyable experience for the user and the website subtly appears unified through its simplicity. Foust (2009) suggests that web pages should have the most important information readily available at the top of a page (hierarchy); the two websites use this format. The article picture of the day is featured at the top with news lower down following importance. The most important news at the top means a user does not have to scroll down (usability).

Contrast in BBC and Guardian is shown through the layout of text and colour. The BBC uses red, brown and blue to divide sections of the news on the front page, whilst Guardian focuses on red, blue and grey. The affect of colour contrast is the same for both websites- allowing users to distinguish the different sections and the colours continuously relate to both webpage’s intentions (Foust 2009). On a connotative level, the colours represent patriarchy (UK flag) therefore users assume both websites offer British based/focused journalism.

Hierarchy of articles is established from top to bottom (highest- lowest) with various image sizes. One large image on each homepage, (BBC, snow pictures and Guardian, Wikileak photograph), then a variety of other size images below offers a “visual hierarchy” to users (Wolk 2001:113). A variety of headline sizes and six column sections of news and nesting of frames adds complexity to layout (Robbins 2006). The hierarchy makes users consider newsworthiness of articles (interaction) and consistency of design reassures users that articles are credible.


A website’s success relies on usability, “users experience usability first and pay later” (Nielsen 2000:11). Linking effectively helps usability: structural- pointing to other levels of a site, embedded- offer more information and associative- related pages (Nielsen 2000).

The BBC mainly uses structural and associative links with related pages to other BBC articles and structural links navigate users to different areas on the website. In contrast, Guardian frequently uses embedded links to external websites/data to provide more information (substance). When external links are embedded within BBC articles too many lexis are used as hypertext anchors, “in the journal Antiquity, an international team said“ which opposes the advised amount, 2-4 lexis that are easy to scan (Nielsen 2000). However the BBC can manipulate users by shifting attention away from anchors and keeping users on the BBC website.

Gunter (2003) observes internal links in websites to ‘its’ own news stories (audio/video/text) enhances news operation. The BBC uses internal links “Related stories…Iplayer” to encourage users to remain within the website which can be restricting. However as long as a user is informed about “the rhetoric of departure” and “arrival” when clicking an external link, and can relate to their new context, external links can provide depth and offer users different points of view (Nielsen 2000:66). The Guardian uses external links to give users alternative views, information, and loyalty is created “By setting up layers of information into which you can drill for more detail, sites are adding value for which either people may be prepared to pay or to which they will return” (Webber 1998: 234).

Both websites cater for people with disabilities, with text enlargement, printing options and accessibility “statement” or “help” available at the bottom of all pages and highlighted colours relate to the section a user is viewing (Nielsen 2000: chapter 6).


Users may not see the home page (design). Salwen (2005) discusses people using a search engine when using the web first then unintentionally discovering news through results. To increase SEO, page titles and headlines must be easy to understand and contain simple key lexis, as search engines “merely try to match words” (Foust 2009:93), therefore key lexis should be used in order to feature (highly) in search results.

BBC and Guardian are well established websites so their results frequently feature highly in results, however, headlines still need to be clear, Guardian “PM signals school sports rethink”, BBC “Rethink over school sports cuts”, as otherwise search engine users will not follow the link.

Nielsen’s study (2000:223), on users using the ‘search’ button on websites showed “half of all users are search-dominant” emphasising the importance of the button and results in fulfilling a user’s need. The search button on the Guardian offers searching in three categories: on the Guardian, contributors or Google (external) and refined in five areas with associative links. However, the BBC only offers users BBC areas (internal) to search, with interactive elements being offered, video or Iplayer. The results show page abstracts – between “150 or 200 characters” to ensure users can scan abstracts easily (Nielsen 2000: 233). However the page abstracts on Guardian are paragraphs whereas the BBC uses 2-3 sentences. The search results from the BBC in comparison to Guardian shows users are provided with more accessible amounts of information, manageable page abstracts.


Interactivity on Guardian and BBC allows users to feel a closer proximity between themselves, journalists and the text, the “audience has the ability to enhance journalistic output” (Wardle and Williams, 2010:795). The BBC offers sections “have your say…your pictures…your story” allowing users to become involved with the website or “get in touch” via the telephone. In contrast, Guardian offers blogs where users can ‘freely’ post comments, “” Thurman (2008) discusses that users are allowed to post without pre-moderation (unique quality of Guardian). The lack of moderation does raise issues about objectivity; however the Guardian overcomes this with guidelines for users.

BBC presents a selection (controlled), of user’s images and stories on their website, making users feel valued. The Guardian however encourages feedback and comments from ‘registered’ users which creates proximity (relationship). High interactivity opportunities on a website can increase usage and promotion, whilst “editors understood that secondary benefits existed as user-generated content initiatives could provide a source of stories and content for stories” (Thurman 2008:154). Interactivity is also beneficial for the user- creating a relationship, and to journalists of the website retrieving information/sources.


Writing on the web needs to be easy to scan, with short paragraphs, bulleted lists and as mentioned before using hypertexts (usability) to split up information (Wolk 2001: Nielsen 2000). Nielsen (2000:111) uses “one idea per paragraph rule” with clear titles and plain language headlines. Guardian and BBC use plain language for headlines but Guardian makes more use of bullet points to present facts/information, and on average, uses more hyperlinks. The legibility (font size, background and colour of both mediums) contribute to (Wolk 2001: 91) “chance that a user will stay on a story”. The Guardian and BBC are aesthetically pleasing with use of white space and fonts. Guardian uses clear fonts, sans (‘Commercial’ 2004) and BBC’s font, Gill Sans is highly recognised (BBC, 2010b).

Media offers commentary and mood setting to Guardian and BBC pages. Animation is seen by a user’s peripheral vision on Guardian, (Nielsen 2000), with an advertising banner on the home page informing users that Guardian is linked to marketing and selling whereas the BBC is funded by users (PSB). Guardian pages use a range of audio, video and emotional images whereas BBC use mostly informational/graphic images and sometimes video and audio (Foust 2009:173). The range of images offer personality whilst reflecting the reporting type and content, therefore users feel BBC offers less emotion and uses images to present a factual account. Videos on BBC play automatically unlike Guardian, which also, intentionally, makes a user stay on that web page.

Foust discusses accessibility (2010) in chapter twelve, Guardian and BBC make their websites accessible “users can access information anytime” by providing settings for phones, Ipad and articles can be embedded on other interactive platforms “twitter”.

Overall the two websites make good use of the five key elements. The layouts of both websites are informative with maximum SEO in the content so that search engines can retrieve the articles. The usability and interactivity are used effectively but Guardian uses more external links and involvement focusing on the user-website relationship. The BBC’s involvement is community orientated relating to purpose, PBS.

In conclusion the BBC is the most accessible with its design, SEO and content, however Guardian provides more depth in interactivity and usability. The two websites are two successful journalism websites but from analysis of features, they could both improve different elements to increase traffic.



Allen, S., 2006. Online News. Berkshire: Open University Press.

BBC, 2010a. Available from: [Accessed 1 December 2010]BBC, 2010b. Do typefaces really matter? Available from: [Accessed 3 December 2010]Commercial Type, 2004. Commercial type. Available from: [Accessed 3 December 2010]Foust, H, C., 2009. Online journalism: principles and practices of news for the Web. 2nd ed. Arizona: Holcomb Hathaway, Publishers, Inc.

Guardian, 2010. Available from: [Accessed 1 December 2010]Gunter, B., 2003. News and the Net. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., Publishers.

Nielsen, J., 2000. Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity. USA: New Riders Publishing.

Robbins, N, J., 2006. Web design in a nut shell. 3rd ed. California: O’Reilly Media, Inc,.

Salwen, M, B., 2005. Online News Trends. In: Driscoll, P, D., Salwen, M, B. And Garrison, B. Online News and the Public. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., Publishers, 47-81.

Thurman, N., 2008. New Media & Society. Forums for citizen journalists? Adoption of user generated content initiatives by online news media, 10, 139-157. Available from: [Accessed 1 December 2010]Wardle, C and Williams, A., 2010. Media, Culture & Society. Beyond user-generated content: a production study examining the ways in which UGC is used at the BBC, 32, 781-799. Available from: [Accessed 1 December 2010]Webber, S., 1998. Search engines and news services: Developments on the Internet. Business information Review, 15 (4), 229-237.

Wolk, D, R., 2001. Introduction to Online Journalism. Massachusetts: Allyn & Bacon.

New packaging and marketing plan for Herbal Essences

December 13, 2010 2 comments

Herbal Essences Marketing Plan

1. Summary

1.1. This report was conducted to reevaluate the Herbal Essences range and success in the market today. From questionnaire results it was concluded that there is a need for a redesign of the current Herbal Essences packaging. The Herbal Essences bottle is to be changed to a double ended bottle to allow maximum usage of the contents of either shampoo or conditioner. The bottle shape will be distinctively curved to allow easier grip in the shower or bath. The marketing online will be used to attract a wider target audience of women and a new video advertisement will be produced to promote the packaging’s benefits to the customer and will steer away from the previous focus on the user. The new packaging design will be launched across the entire ranges of Herbal Essences on 25 May 2010 and reviewed six months later on 25 November 2010. This review will access the sales success online and in stores since the launch of the new packaging. Leading up to the launch date there will be advertising for the new improved packaging design across the internet on social networking websites and supermarket websites where Herbal Essences is sold.

2. Terms of Reference

2.1. This is an internal report that has been commissioned by the Managing Director of Herbal Essences, Mr Smith.

2.2. This report is a new packaging idea for the production of Herbal Essences shampoo and conditioner.

2.3. The aim of this report is to provide the Managing Director with a new marketing plan for the improved packaging of Herbal Essences shampoo and conditioner range. New marketing strategy reports are a requirement of the company, to be written quarterly to identify potential development for Herbal Essences.

3. Introduction

3.1. This report is a company policy requirement to be completed every three months to access Herbal Essences’ products and the need for a new product. The target audience for Herbal Essences is women and a questionnaire was conducted (via the internet and post) between 1 January and 18 March 2010 which identified that the current Herbal Essences packaging needs to be redesigned. See Appendix A for questionnaire and results.

4. Methodology

4.1. A questionnaire was conducted to determine what improvements need to be made to meet customer’s needs and wants with the Herbal Essences range. Customers were emailed and posted questionnaires to be completed. Tesco’s, Sainsbury’s and Somerfield stores had questionnaires positioned beside the Herbal Essences range for customers to complete. To ensure feedback was given the chance to win a years supply of Herbal Essences products was the reward to five randomly selected customers. Questions were used to identify how the customer felt about the pricing of Herbal Essences’s products, the availability and locations of where Herbal Essences products could be purchased and the overall communication of the brand.

4.2. A SWOT analysis was conducted to identify the potential of this new adapted packaging design within the internal and external marketing environment. See Appendix B for new design.

4.3. Internal research was conducted into previous promotional online strategies of Herbal Essences and the level of success. Forums discussing Herbal Essences were viewed to gain an understanding into customer’s thoughts and feelings on an informal level. The website was used as a researching website to determine the number of viewings of Herbal Essences advertisements and the public’s thoughts. Women’s magazine websites were randomly selected and researched to determine how competitive companies use current communication on the internet to advertise and promote women’s hair products.

4.4. A PESTEL analysis of the new packaging design for Herbal Essences was conducted.

5. Findings

5.1. After conducting a questionnaire the results showed that the Herbal Essences bottle design needed to be improved. Customers stated that they could not retrieve all of the contents of either the shampoo or the conditioner. The curvy shape was an appropriate shape for the showering environment as it reduced dropping the bottle however it was suggested the curviness should be increased. The packaging product the customer wanted was a beneficial bottle that allowed maximum usage of the shampoo/conditioner contents. This was found to be made possible with a double ended shampoo/conditioner bottle design. The pricing was found to be affordable by the majority of customers and the availability in supermarkets and pharmacies fulfilled people’s routines and lifestyles. It was found that customers felt the product was too focused on the image of a middle-aged woman with connotations of sex and attractiveness. See Appendix A for questionnaire and results.

5.2. The SWOT analysis identified the following:

5.2.1     Strengths

5.2.2     Herbal Essences is a well established hair product company and was launched in the 1970’s. P and G (global manufacturer) of Herbal Essences supply to over 160 countries worldwide which gives the company a significant advantage in the market.

5.2.3      The redesigned packaging is new and innovative and there is not a hair packaged product available with a two ended shampoo/conditioner bottle. This renovated design reflects the ethos of Herbal Essences which is not just about the products content but the experience.

5.2.4     P and G are dedicated to consumer research and quality is always ensured in the products. P and G have worked with well-known brands such as Pampers, Clairol e.t.c

5.2.5     Opportunities

5.2.6     P and G can use direct marketing strategies can be used to attract a wider female audience worldwide through emails, podcasts, webcasts and pop up advertisements.

5.2.7     P and G current products can advertise the new and improved design of Herbal Essences. New products can successfully achieve revenue generation amongst established products.

5.2.8     The expansion of promotion within the developing market of the internet with websites such as MySpace and Facebook. The curvy design of the bottle can be adapted and redesigned in the future offering opportunities for expansion of a broader target audience for Herbal Essences; children and men. The double ended design can be expanded in the future into splitting the bottle into two sections; shampoo and conditioner. It would be an all in one bottle made simple for the user.

5.2.9     The use of a viral advertisement for Herbal Essences on YouTube is a strength as this website is used by the public to watch banned advertisements. This form of online advertising will be powerful as it can reach a global world and creates word of mouth about the brand.

5.2.10  Weaknesses

5.2.11  Competition in the market from other hair companies. There is a need to stand out from other brands be a new innovative product.

5.2.12  The pricing is affected due to the production process being altered. The cost of the product is always threatened by lower costing products such as different brands or supermarket’s own brand of shampoo or conditioner.

5.2.13  The online advertising on the Herbal Essences website is relying on customers dedicated to Herbal Essences and does not seek to attract non-buyers of the brand.


5.2.14  Price competition with supermarket own brands for shampoo and conditioner.

5.3. Internal research conducted found Herbal Essences’ previous online strategies have caused controversy. Online forums have discussed the negative impact of the sexual content and connotations of the television advertisements ( accessed 20 March 2010 and has Herbal Essences advertisements (the most viewed advertisement has 48,756 views) with comments about the negative sexual references of the advertisements. This research proved that the advertisements online and on television failed to attract the target audience of business women living fast lives and students with little money or time. The marketing online was found to be failing to meet the needs of the female target audience.  It was found from the data collected from the questionnaire and research that marketing on social networking sites is needed and wanted; such as MySpace and Facebook. Pages and groups will be set up on Myspace, Facebook and Twitter and will offer all fans or subscribers a free sample to each email address. This promotion will create customer loyalty and will inform the viewer about Herbal Essences and the benefits about the new packaging design.

5.4. It was suggested that the Herbal Essences website should use a new and improved video advertisement to promote the new packaging in an innovative and fun way to attract a broader female audience. To create a wide demographic the advertisement features women of all ages and from different cultures. The target audience is females of all ages.

5.5. A PEST Analysis was conducted for the new packaging design:

5.5.1.   Political

5.5.2.   P and G have established laws in place with the government to regulate the Herbal Essences corporation.

5.5.3.   P and G comply with the country data protection laws.

5.5.4.   P and G participate in the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Accredited Business Program

5.5.5.   Environmental

5.5.6.   To educate consumers Green Peace and Friends of the Earth will be incorporated within the new packaging design. On these websites Herbal Essences’ new packaging will be advertised and this form of synergy will promote both companies.

5.5.7.   The packaging is recyclable. The packaging features icons to promote recycling and saving the environment.

5.5.8.   The production of the packaging uses raw materials to be environmentally friendly. Fair trade is promoted over the Herbal Essences website in regard to the production process of the new packaging.

5.5.9.   Social

5.5.10. The change of packaging is to attract the widest possible women audience, attracting a large demographic from a teenage woman to an elderly woman which is reflected in the advertising.

5.5.11. Culturally, the packaging is aimed to accommodate all types of lifestyles. The double ended bottle makes the task easier and improving the overall ‘washing your hair’ experience The emphasis is on our modern day culture of hair care and having a beauty regime.

5.5.12. The advertisements online (Herbal Essences Website and Social Networking) are used to promote the USP of the packaging as the focus is primarily on the time efficiency of the design and how it benefits the user. To promote the packaging to be used for all the advertisements will feature women of all ages and cultures. This meets the social trend of being equal and universal.

5.5.13. Technological

5.5.14. The manufacturers and the cost of production remain the same as the bottle size is not being altered only the shape and with the feature of a two ended bottle. The Herbal Essences’ ranges prices will not be affected ensuring current buyers of the brand remain faithful.

5.5.15. Economic

5.5.16. The price of the Herbal Essences’ ranges remains the same, so people’s money expenses or allowance on shampoo and conditioner will not be affected.

5.5.17. Legal

5.5.18. Copyright law of the new design of Herbal Essences packaging has been issued.

6. Conclusion

6.1. It has been concluded:

  • There is a need for Herbal Essences’ products to be redesigned. See Appendix B for new design.
  • The new Herbal Essences design needs to be promoted through the online supermarket websites where it can be purchased (Tesco’s, Sainsbury’s, Somerfield e.t.c) as store and brand loyalty is already secured and the revamped line of Herbal Essences needs to be in the limelight of the public. The new packaging will be promoted on the supermarket’s website as new and revamped. See Appendix C.
  • Social networking sites need to promote the advertisement for the new packaging design through banners, pop ups, groups, posters and videos. The new packaging and advertisement is to attract a wider demographic of females.
  • YouTube should be used to upload a viral advertisement as this is a fast way to gain publicity and this form of promotion creates word of mouth about the new packaging for Herbal Essences. See Appendix E for advertisement idea.

7. Recommendations

It is recommended that:

7.1. The new packaging design is used for all the lines of the Herbal Essences range and is to be launched 25 May 2010.

7.2. The packaging design will be on a six month probation period to be able to monitor the sales. Launched on 25 May 2010 and reviewed on 25 November 2010.

7.3. After six months the sales of the new product will be compared to the previous six months before the packaging had been changed. If sales have decreased the new packaging idea will be reconsidered.

7.4. Online promotion on social networking sites, Facebook and MySpace, to gain publicity about the new packaging design. See Appendix C for advertisement ideas.

7.5. A new advertisement video will be uploaded to the Herbal Essences website to appeal to all ages of women. The benefits of a two ended shampoo/conditioner will be the focus of the advertisement. See Appendix D for advertisement.

7.6. A viral advertisement will be uploaded on YouTube to gain publicity quickly, see Appendix E.

Read full report (with appendix) Big Idea Report

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