Prolific North’s The Wrap: Liam Bailey, Director of Maxweb

It’s been an interesting week for virtual reality as vTime has firmly put Liverpool on the map by securing funding for VR platform while The Grand National utilised new technology with the announcement of a screening of a virtual race between past and current contenders.

Director of Maxweb Liam Bailey gives his take on the tech headlines of the last seven days as part of Prolific North‘s ‘The Wrap‘ feature…

The Wrap: Director of Digital Agency Maxweb Liam Bailey

I couldn’t help but notice some common themes making headlines this week, with one hot topic being Virtual Reality.

VR is still a somewhat scary enigma to many (The Matrix springs to mind), but nobody can deny that it is slowly but surely dominating tech news. Can we expect a takeover in the years to come?

Specialist social networking company vTime is putting Liverpool on the map after securing a cool £5.4 million in funding for its VR platform. It is phenomenal to hear that the interactive platform has attracted over a million downloads, which suggests to me that we are seeing the start of a virtual revolution.

Sticking to Merseyside, it seems that The Grand National is also utilising new technology with the screening of a virtual race between champions of old and this year’s top contenders. Is this simply a novel gesture or is it scientifically accurate? It will be interesting to see if it can predict the results of Saturday’s race (after successfully placing Cause Of Causes in 2017) and even more so, if the results of a virtual race will have a stake in the betting odds… watch this space.

One story that particularly struck me was the news that developer roles are experiencing a 16% pay rise following a skills shortage. Developers are certainly in demand at the moment and we have seen this first hand for ourselves. However, I predict that the tide will change, and I expect to see more of the younger generation opting for a digital career, which I hope will result in an increase the number of developers and coders in the job market.

It’s fantastic to see Prolific North getting behind ways to nurture such new talent as part of the University Entrepreneurs Grant business competition. It is also so refreshing to see the variety in each of the shortlisted candidates’ business ideas, which I think completely captures the millennial consumer market. As a fellow entrepreneur, I am excited to see initiatives like this in place and wish all of those competing the very best of luck!

The North seems unstoppable at the moment and the rise of the Northern Powerhouse continues as we see Indian tech giant Tech Mahindra launch its Manchester base. Not only will this business move create new jobs in the sector, it also offers some reassurance in what can be described as an uncertain time for the UK economy – the region remains a force to be reckoned with.

And finally, the Prolific North Awards 2018 has released its highly anticipated shortlist – and we are delighted to have made the list! It is amazing to see so many companies getting involved and it certainly demonstrates the incredible talent amongst us.

From the whole team at Pink Media, we’re wishing Maxweb the best of luck in the upcoming Prolific North Awards 2018!

What I learned… about styling a Big Four Fashion Week show

Andrew Manion, of AJM Hair in Liverpool, shares his need-to-know tips after leading his first Big 4 fashion week show this February…

“I’m certainly no newcomer when it comes to planning and working on fashion shows, but up until this season, I’d always been involved in multi-designer presentations. Such events are usually spread over a number of days, and can feature up to eight shows per day, meaning that it’s logistically impossible to plan a unique hairstyle for every designer’s collection. This type of format requires the skill of being able to create quick and simple looks on models, with no more than two styles per day – when models have to quickly change between runways, there’s often no time to style a whole new look!

Working on a single-designer show for Milan Fashion Week, however, proved a totally different experience. Here are the key things I picked up during what turned out to be a career highlight…

KNOW YOUR BRIEF
When faced with a new project, it’s easy to get carried away and rush to get hands-on straight away. Instead of throwing yourself in at the deep end, it’s always important to take the time to fully understand the brief at hand.

The first step in my involvement at Milan Fashion Week was meeting with the show’s designer, Chanel Joan Elkayam, whom I had worked with previously in 2014. We discussed exactly what our aims were and the practicalities of how we would create the look required for the models. To compliment the outfits, we knew that we wanted the hair styling to have vintage elements and one of our key decisions was that we didn’t want to use hair extensions. By taking time at this early stage to pinpoint what was needed to bring our vision to life, it helped to inform future decisions (such as castings) and made pulling together a consistent look across our 30 models that much easier.

BE ADAPTABLE
Every head of hair is different, and it’s vital to be flexible and ready to face any challenges that may come your way when considering styling options for a diverse line-up of models . For example, when researching and putting together a mood-board for vintage hairstyles, it was obvious that many classic looks were suited to short hair, yet a number of our models’ hair was very long. While this was initially a challenge, we adapted our plans to encompass four styles rather than two, enabling us to create looks that better suited the different hair types and lengths of the girls who would be walking in the show.

COMMUNICATION IS KEY
When working within a large team, communication should be your main consideration. You all want things to run as seamlessly as possible, and keeping in touch regularly with your colleagues ensures that there are no surprises when show day arrives. It also lets each member of the team rest easy in the knowledge that everyone is working towards the same goal. In the twelve weeks running up to the Milan show, the team and I shared over 100 images and ideas.

From there, I carried out over 20 practice styles within the salon and invited Chanel to come and see the looks in person to discuss logistics, alternative possibilities and any issues that had arisen. It’s key that your clients understand your process and the way you work.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
For any big event – whether it be a fashion show or a wedding day – practice makes perfect when it comes to styling. Ahead of the show, I liaised with my hairdressing team at AJM Hair so we could practise and prepare for our landing in Milan. With four different hairstyles to master, we had to look closely at technique. We considered different hair types and textures and experimented with products from our sponsor, Maria Nila Stockholm, who also provided products in the goodie bags for show attendees. By working ahead of time, you can rule out any issues and errors, which is key when you know you’ll be working to a tight schedule.

USE YOUR TIME WISELY
Be realistic about your timeframes and consider any factors that may alter them. You may have the tools to create an elaborate and ornate up-do, but will you really have time on the day to replicate this across 30 models? As Chanel’s show took place in the middle of the Big 4 Fashion Week calendar (covering New York, London, Milan and Paris), many of our models were flying in from all over the world. As a result, we adapted our usual schedule, with fittings taking place well in to the night ahead of the show.

STAY CALM
When the big moment arrives, it’s important to relax, stay calm and really enjoy seeing your work come to life. As with any fashion show, nerves and excitement build up backstage before the models walk the runway. At this point, it had taken twelve months of planning for a team including models, hairdressers, make up artists, nail technicians, backstage dressers, photographers and videographers (to name just a few!) to come together, and we couldn’t wait to see our finished product – make sure you take it all in!

Visit Creative Head to read the article in full and take a look at the magazine’s other education pieces…

Social Media and the ever-changing algorithm

It’s no secret that social media has become a vital tool over the past few years when it comes to marketing your business or simply keeping up with friends and family.

Over the 10 year period from 2005 to 2015, the number of adults using social media rose from just 7% to 69%. Facebook alone has 2.2 billion monthly users, whilst Instagram boasts an impressive 800 million and Twitter follows with 330 million users. It has been estimated that by 2019, there will be 2.77 billion social media users worldwide. With such a large number of the population utilising these platforms on a daily basis, social media is a powerful means for businesses to target and connect with its audiences on a more meaningful and interactive level – no matter their size or industry.

Not only does social media allow you to grow public awareness of your brand, it can also provide valuable information about your existing and potential customers when using relevant campaigns and carefully monitoring the results. Did you know that 71% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand if they have had a positive experience with it on social media? With such high stakes resting on your online image, it’s vital to ensure you present your business in its best light.

We often speak to business owners who tell us that while they try and remain active on social media, they just don’t seem to be seeing the results or engagement they’re looking for – and this is where utilising the social media algorithm comes in to play.

What exactly is the social media algorithm?

The ever-changing algorithms that dominate the online world can make it difficult to get your content seen. In other words, you may notice your business’ posts are being pushed to the bottom of the feed and are rarely placed directly in front of your customers.

The algorithms are a complicated set of equations and formulas which monitor social statistics such as frequency of posts and ongoing engagement, which result in social media content being displayed on a platform’s feed based on relevance to the user as opposed to in chronological order. Facebook, for example, prioritises posts from family and friends which is why you will notice you mostly see this type of content at the top of your Facebook feed. Whilst this makes for a more enjoyable experience as a user, it can create difficulties for businesses in terms of getting their content noticed and can sometimes be disheartening when a company has taken the time to create content that doesn’t make a splash.

How do I use the algorithms to ensure my content gets seen by the right people?

First and foremost, it’s essential to stay up to date with each platform’s algorithms and the type of content they are currently prioritising. These formulas can change regularly and vary from site to site and platform to platform.

For example, whilst Facebook ranks personal content as the most important, it also favours informative, entertaining and authentic posts, which is highly useful information to bear in mind when it comes to planning a well-thought out social media strategy.

User engagement is another factor social media platforms consider when arranging their posts, and the higher the engagement of a post is, the more people it will be shown to. To encourage this, it is important to create original and relevant content that social media users will want to interact with – this can be anything from topical news stories within your industry to behind the scenes videos of your business.

The algorithms can be certainly confusing at the best of times and with ever-changing equations, it can be difficult to keep up.

Want to know more about the formulas at hand or the best platform on which to place your business? Give us a call on 0151 909 2231 and one of our resident social media experts will be happy to help.

Feeling hot, hot, hot…!

When it comes to goings on, Liverpool is a city never short of things to do. From musical events to bingo with a twist, there’s something for everybody to enjoy and recently, our friends at Bond Events Group have added something slightly spicier to the ever-expanding events calendar.

In just a few weeks’ time, the infamous Bombed Out Church (St Luke’s Church) will be feeling ‘hot, hot, hot’ thanks to the arrival of the Chilli Carnival, and aptly put by Liverpool Echo – ‘If you’re hosting a festival that’s going to get hot, it helps if you hold it somewhere without a roof’!

Already, the Pink Media team have had so much fun working with Bond Events Group to shout all about the event, and you may have even spotted us around the city centre with our giant chilli in tow during our photo-shoots. With just over a month to go, we’re busy planning for the two-day spice extravaganza which will showcase a range of chilli-fuelled concoctions courtesy of a number of suppliers that have recently been revealed by the event’s organisers.

From cooking shows to cocktails and even a chilli eating competition, the weekend will be packed with things to do, offering the people of Liverpool the chance to sample dishes from the mild to the top of the Scoville Scale and everything in between.

Keep your eyes peeled for spicy clues and exciting news as we count down to the festival – see you at the Chilli Eating Competition!

Chilli Carnival will take place on Saturday, May 12 and Sunday, May 13 at St Luke’s Church (Bombed Out Church). Tickets are priced at £5 per day or £8 for a weekend pass.

For more information or to purchase tickets visit www.chillicarnival.co.uk