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Author: Natalie Cowen

Natalie Cowen

Natalie Cowen has worked for first direct since July 2007, taking over the role of Head of Brand and Communications in June 2010.  Born in South Africa, Natalie began her career in the world of sports marketing launching Cadbury Schweppes’ sports drink brand Energade, where she supported the sponsorships of the national ruby, cricket and hockey teams, as well as local regional teams and individuals.  

In 2008 she joined Matthew’s & Charter, Ogilvy & Mather, working across diverse industries such as development finance, travel and tourism, premium carpets, and medical and surgical.  After moving to London from South Africa in 2000 she worked for Chime Communications as an account director firstly at advertising agency Roose and Partners and then at Heresy (which subsequently merged with VCCP).  During her time at Heresy, Natalie ran the account for IPC Media’s Connect division – creating advertising campaigns for Now magazine, as well as launching weekly real-life title, Pick Me Up.  She also led the T.G.I. Friday’s account and successfully ran the pitch for Metro.  Natalie made the move up North to be close to family and for a life in the country!

Who should “own” social media within an organisation?

It’s a mark of how far businesses still have to go when a 10 second search trawl brings back literally thousands of articles still agonising over which department should take ownership of social media.

After a (highly unscientific) click through the first few pages of Google, I found about 60% of the results ended up saying it was best aligned with a marketing skill set, around 30% pointed out that really it was customer services that knew most about dealing with individual enquiries.

The remaining 10% put forward a more “enlightened” approach by claiming that social media was so fundamental to the future of business that it had to start with the CEO and work down from there.  


It isn’t Facebook’s fault that so many social ad campaigns fail

Last month, Brian Solis pulled together a list of strategic investment priorities for Facebook to invest in post-IPO.

Interestingly, one glaring omission was a revised model/or strategy for working with advertisers... 


Measuring PR: impact, evaluation and clipping books

If we look at the banking industry today, it’s clear that there are huge challenges for banks in adapting to a changing PR landscape.

As the social internet revolutionises the way we market ourselves, and financial marketers are provided with a whole new paradigm of tools to prove their worth - PR can sometimes seem to be struggling to re-invent itself.


How social media can make CSR more visible

A Reputation Institute 2011 survey found that a company’s CSR programme (in its broadest sense), can be responsible for more than 40% of a company’s reputation, whilst companies with stronger social leadership programs have 55% better internal morale and 43% more efficient business processes. T

his is added to the fact that highly engaged employees have three times the operating margin.


The rise of the social customer

Two weeks ago we presented the findings of a report, commissioned by first direct from social media think-tank ItsOpen, on the future of customer service at the Social Media Leadership Forum in London.

These regular events bring together organisations that have a track record of innovation, success and progressive thinking in engaging with stakeholders through social media.

Customer service, since the beginning of recorded history, has been very simple. It is just about information and the power to control it.


Social media and regulation in banking

Within first direct, there is an understanding that social media is a channel we should be developing and engaging in, so in essence, that ‘internal sell’ is the easy bit.

The hard part however, is overcoming the way people think about regulation and compliance, and having both the confidence and strategy to feel comfortable working within these confines.


Trust, banking and social media

I don’t think I’m being too controversial when I say that, over the last few years, trust in the banking system, banks and bankers (three very different things that have been unhelpfully lumped together by the mainstream media narrative), has taken a battering.

The financial sector as a whole has huge job to do and in my view, social media is going to play a key part in getting it done.

This post will look at two key issues around trust and social media: how to measure it and how to build it.