Innovative visual content

2015 was a year rich in visual marketing, with video content proving to be the most powerful media on social, with the longest lifespan. This year has the potential to provide an even bigger innovative shift and it is predicted that over the next couple of years 80% of all internet traffic will be to videos and visual content.

Videos and visual content can be made to reflect the image of your business whether it’s smart, funny, intellectual, rebellious or romantic. They have personality which people can relate to – and this is gold dust for your brand.

While branded video content is becoming more popular in Cayman, I just love the new hot hybrid kid in town – cinemagraphs – which are yet to hit our shores. A cinemagraph is a still photo with a subtle video element, which loops continuously. It is a relatively new format but is catching on fast, with the likes of the Emmy’s, Facebook, America’s Next Top Model, Lincoln Motors, Chanel and NARS already using cinemagraphs in their email and social media marketing campaigns.

With case studies showing a 60% higher click through rate on cinemagraphs over static photographs, this trend is bound to rapidly gain popularity. It’s exciting to see which Cayman brands will look to use new and innovative tools like this in the coming year.

Cyber security = brand security

Not only are cyber attacks becoming more frequent, they are becoming more persistent, targeted, sophisticated and are having widespread impact. Cyber security breaches not only impact operational processes but also impact bottom line, brand and reputation. Recent high levels hacks have not only brought cyber security to the forefront of industry minds, but to the general public who have developed an Orwellian sense of mistrust in the ability of business to protect their data.

This year we will see the risks relating to cyber security become a top priority for our government, regulators, industry associations and the financial services industry. Businesses that don’t prioritise cyber-security risk damaging their brand and reputation, eroding trust, and ultimately losing their customers.

Businesses of all sizes need to ensure they are fully prepared to deal with these ever-emerging threats. From a communications perspective this means developing a comprehensive crisis communication plan. This may seem obvious, but the ability of a company to respond quickly and accurately during such a crisis signifies sincerity and accountability, and the better the outcomes will be.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Video - many thousand more

I love new technology! Last year Cayman experienced a ‘rise of the drones’ as the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for photography and videography grew exponentially. Following the launch of AirVu in 2014, Cayman’s first licensed UAV operator, we have seen Aerial Innovations and Whirlybird Productions emerge as other competitors in the market. As 360° technology arrived on the scene, Cayman Virtual was quick to launch its website, offering virtual tours of Cayman’s finest landmarks.

If 2015 was the year of the drones then I predict 2016 to be the year of virtual reality content, driven in part by the launch next month of Oculus Rift, arguably the most hyped VR device.

Some of our clients, such as IRG, are already using VR type technology to show properties to potential buyers to help them narrow down their choices before visiting a property in person. I imagine we will see interactive VR content used more in the promotion of our tourism product with its ability to convincingly market a lifestyle.

The lesson here for us marketers though is to remember that it will not be the technology alone that delivers rich, immersive experiences that engage our consumers. We still need strong creative concepts, solid strategy and a clear message to marry with VR to tell better stories for our brands. Stories that excite, inform, inspire, or entertain to build brand loyalty and keep consumers coming back.

Musical chairs anyone?

In one of the biggest stories of 2015, David Legge’s Cayman Compass editorial on corruption in the Cayman Islands sparked debate in the Legislative Assembly – resulting in the government’s advertising embargo on all Pinnacle Media publications. The Cayman Reporter quickly seized the opportunity to go daily, and nabbed Cayman 27’s Tammi Sulliman for Editor, if only for a short time.

The embargo was eventually lifted, but the Cayman Reporter remains daily - for now at least.

Hurleys Entertainment increased its presence with the purchase of Cayman 27 from Logic and radio stations Spin 94.9 and Vibe 98.9 from Paramount Media. The newly re-branded ‘Hurleys Media Group’ now consists of Rooster, Spin, Z99, Vibe and Cayman 27.

Cayman 27 General Manager, April Cummings moved to Radio Cayman as well as launching ‘Cayman Life’ her own community channel. Former Cayman 27 News Director, Ben Meade is currently writing for the fairly under the radar Cayman Weekly as has launched a Saturday morning sports show on Star 92.7 fm.

Tammi Sulliman returned to Cayman 27 as News Director after achieving impressive results at the Reporter. As the year closed we said goodbye to regular Cayman 27 news anchor, Mona Lisa Tatum - and welcomed Pat Kreitlow.

2015 saw the launch of Cayman Parent Magazine by a group of local ‘Mompreneurs’, and Cayman Daily Express, by Compass alumni Stuart Wilson.

Sadly, we said goodbye to Ron Shillingford who for the past 9 years had enthusiastically covered sports for the Cayman Compass.

I wait to see if our media friends will stay in their seats for 2016 and watch new channels like Cayman Weekly and Cayman Life with interest.  Cayman can only benefit from additional, independent and quality media outlets.

Sports in paradise

As the office crew is currently training for Off The Beaten Track, I’ve been thinking about the rise of sports tourism on our tiny island - a fast growing and lucrative marketing opportunity for Cayman brands.

In recent years, Cayman has seen the likes of high profile athletes including Usain Bolt at the Cayman Invitational and Anna Kournikova at the Legends Tennis, along with more sporting events from races such as Mercuryman, Cayman Islands Marathon, Off the Beaten Track and Flowers Sea Swim, to team sports including football’s Cayman Airways Invitational Youth Cup and the NORCECA volleyball competition.

Not only are sporting events and celebrity athletes excellent for our tourism sector and the Cayman Islands brand, but as a sponsor, Cayman businesses can build brand awareness both locally and internationally through extensive media coverage, PR opportunities and by leveraging the social media of such events.

Sports tourism also benefits the community with many of these events being used to raise funds for local charities. Visiting professional athletes and teams provide inspiration for our children, and local athletes at all levels are often able to compete against the elite or benefit from coaching clinics.

Our warm climate, great beaches and ability to skilfully handle events will see existing events go from strength to strength and ensure more exciting events will continue to emerge.

Climate is changing our brand perceptions

An avid diver and outdoorsy gal, I easily warm to brands that share my concern for our beautiful planet. I predict 2016 will see an even stronger focus on the environment and climate change, with many companies investing in the environment as part of their social obligations. Brands that ignore this trend may find themselves out in the cold and fighting off reputational damage.

The Caribbean region is making serious strides towards renewable energy sources. The British Virgin Islands is moving forward with its goal of introducing an energy policy, Antigua is making large strides with its ambitious green energy project with a 3 megawatt solar farm, while Jamaica has taken the latest step towards sustainable energy with a new $89 million, 36.3 megawatt wind farm project. Closer to home, Cayman has recently agreed to a 5 megawatt solar farm in Bodden Town, launching the long anticipated move towards renewable energy, while PWC opens the doors to its new environmentally friendly office building in Camana Bay. Along with Tower’s own client, OTEC, who is currently in discussions to pilot its hydro-thermal energy project.

Last year showed us just how noisy those with a passion for the environment can be with projects such as the proposed George Town cruise berthing facility making headlines. Social media platform, Facebook, proved to be Cayman’s preferred platform for activism with the addition of such tools as petitions.

No matter if your brand is involved in the energy business or not, every organisation has the opportunity to ‘do their bit’ for the environment, whether that is through sponsorship of conferences, collaboration with energy companies, making your office more sustainable or joining the Chamber of Commerce Earth Day Clean Up.

Climate change is ubiquitous and any company that thinks sustainable energy has nothing to do with them, needs to readjust their perceptions, for the sake of their brand.

Tourism flying high

Having started my career in hospitality I always have a keen eye on the tourism sector. 2015 was certainly a busy year. Two of our clients picked up well deserved accolades - Cayman Airways was named ‘Caribbean Airline of the Year’ by Caribbean Journal and Wyndham Reef Resort’s Kel Thompson collected the Stingray Tourism Awards ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’.

The golden shovels hit the ground in the first stage of the expansion project at ORIA and Cayman Airways rolled out its new ramps, a long awaited interim solution to passengers’ increasing frustration with the lack of jetways. The Sister Islands were not been left behind, with Cayman Airways’ new schedule, connecting Cayman Brac to Holquin, Cuba and the introduction of the SAAB 340B+ to their fleet, servicing the Grand Cayman – Cayman Brac route.

Looking to 2016, quality and service remain at the forefront with 5* luxury resort St James Point at Bodden Town in the pipeline and the opening of the Kimpton Seafire Resort & Spa scheduled for November 2016.

I continue to watch Cayman’s tourism product expanding into the Eastern districts with developments at Ironwood, Dart’s acquisition of Barefoot Beach and Health City’s intention to build an on-site hotel. The development of Treasure Island into a Margaritaville branded resort will also enhance and expand Grand Cayman’s offering.

With plans for a second Dart-owned hotel on Seven Mile Beach and rumours of brands such as Hilton and Four Seasons swirling, 2016 looks set to bring even more exciting developments to Cayman’s stay-over tourism industry.