We’re trialling an agile immersion course for all colleagues

Tuesday was the first session of the agile ‘immersion’ course – a free training course, put together and delivered by the team to help colleagues not working in digital experience agile working in a multi-disciplinary team.

The immersive nature of the course helps the team work collaboratively and aims to build on the foundations set by the Digital Skills Masterclasses which are more theory-based.

During the course, the group apply agile techniques and rituals to projects they’ve researched and selected. The course ends with colleagues showcasing their learnings at a show and tell in front of Co-op Digital’s heads of practice.

photograph of 4 colleagues on the course

Co-op Digital colleagues can help

The group is also required to work together outside of the sessions, with additional support provided by Digital colleagues. We’re looking for people across the communities of practice to help out with mentoring. If you have a spare 30 minutes a week for the next 2 weeks, get in touch with me.

Opening up opportunities in Digital

Since being seconded and then permanently employed by Digital last year, I’ve thought a lot about how to open up opportunities for non-Digital colleagues to experience agile ways of working, without taking time out of their day-to day-roles.

My hope is that after experiencing working in this way, colleagues would feel better equipped to:

  • introduce new ways of working to their teams 
  • apply for roles in the Digital team

We’ll listen and observe, then iterate

10 colleagues are enrolled on the trial course, all from our Support Centre in Manchester. We felt it was important to start learning about what works and what doesn’t as quickly as possible so we can make improvements and schedule another course early in 2018.

This time, the course runs 2 evenings a week for 3 weeks which means that it doesn’t interfere with day-to-day roles. Moving forward, the hope is we’ll be able to open it out, have more convenient hours and include colleagues from further afield.

The groups show and tell will be on 7 December at 12pm in Federation. Come along to see what we’ve learnt.

Annette Joseph
Delivery manager

Christmas Blogger Event Wrap-up Video

In the run-up to Christmas last year, we held the Co-op’s first event to engage specifically with bloggers. Over the past year, we’ve built on from that first event, collaborating with the bloggers on campaigns and product reviews – working with them to build long-term relationships and turn them into partners and brand advocates.

The 2nd Christmas blogger event was held a few weeks ago. The invited bloggers took to social media to talk about the event, causing it to trend in Manchester. Watch the video to get behind the scenes…

Blogger Engagement Event – Christmas Showcase

According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers around the world say they trust recommendations above all other forms of advertising. In the digital landscape that ‘word of mouth’ role is often played by online influencers.

The strategy to build a network of influencer advocates has been ongoing over the past year. Now, we have a community of highly engaged influencers, opted-in to help us share stories about our products and brand through their networks. During 2015, the Digital team have worked with this community to promote campaigns across Food, Funeralcare, Estore and Legal Services, ranging from large campaigns to smaller product reviews.

The 2nd annual Christmas blogger event – the highlight of the Co-op’s influencer engagement calendar – was held last Friday. Before our very eyes the restaurant in 1 Angel Square (our support centre) transformed into an elegant Winter Wonderland to host 75 bloggers who braved bad weather and worse traffic to attend.

Caption Setting the scene in the 8th floor restaurant
Caption Setting the scene in the 8th floor restaurant

The format was very different to last year. Our guests were seated in tables of 10 and treated to a 4-course tasting menu featuring Co-op own-brand products and award-winning wines. They were taken behind the scenes to gain exclusive insights from product developers, updates on campaigns, a blogger panel Q&A… all nicely rounded off with cheese and some very special cupcakes.

We engaged with the bloggers on a deeper level because, for us, the events provide a unique opportunity to really connect – to get to know the people behind the blogs and from there, decide how best to work together in 2016 and beyond.

Guests tuck in as the starters are served
Guests tuck in as the starters are served

And the bloggers responded – taking to social media before, during, and after the event, reaching over 200k accounts with close to 400k impressions. Over the next two weeks we’ll follow-up with the attendees and reach out to those who couldn’t make it to increase brand noise over the Christmas period.

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blog - tweets 3

blog - tweets 2

I’m currently working on finalising the strategy for Influencer Engagement for 2016. I can’t yet reveal exactly what’s coming up, but expect to see our relationships with our blogger partners grow and become more intertwined – helping us to stay visible and relevant in the digital landscape.

Personalised cupcakes were a special treat
Personalised cupcakes were a special treat

Influencer Engagement: Progressing from the first date

Hi, I’m Annette, the SEO Manager for our Food division. I started at the Co-op last April and attended the annual ‘Christmas in July’ Press Event. I hadn’t met any of the product developers before, but I was blown away by their passion as they explained how and why each product had been carefully crafted.

And so, a few weeks later, I started on my first outreach campaign – eager to share these fabulous stories and products with the blogosphere. I remember sending out carefully constructed emails to chosen bloggers and… absolutely nothing. I couldn’t understand it, I thought that bloggers would be lining up to work with a brand as established as ours, but it turns out that we had never worked specifically with bloggers before.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, I decided to build a blogger database for the team. I knew that sending out a couple of products just wasn’t going to cut it, We didn’t just want a couple of random guest blog posts or product reviews. We needed a connection – a new way to work with bloggers that would produce advocates and partners – excited to work with us and enthusiastic about our brand… And so the Christmas blogger event was born.

That 1st event was compared to a first date – an exploratory evening for us to find out more about each other.
1. Co-op-Blogger-Event-Paul-Dempsey

We introduced them to our sumptuous food and drink, and they told us what their challenges were. The feedback from the event was very positive – some even said that it was one of the best blogger events of the year. Not bad for a 1st effort!

Blogger Event

We’ve been building on these relationships for a year – sending updates, hosting smaller events, including bloggers in campaigns and sending out occasional products for review. The invitations for this years Christmas event at 1AS on 27th November, went out last week and the response was amazing – RSVPs increased 300% over last year! Not only is this event bigger and better – there is more involvement from across the business than last year with PR, Food Digital Marketing, Food Product Developers, Taste Team and Sodexo in the trenches along with us in SEO and Social – working to bring it all together.

The panel of bloggers – taking questions from the audience at this year’s event will feature-

rsz_blogger_-_louise Louise Hegarty of birdsandlilies.com
Louise is a Parenting and Lifestyle Blogger from Nottingham. She’s been blogging since 2012, and it has a blossoming readership and a large social following. Lou has an honest and open writing style, and is happy to share her experiences of IVF, Parenting and life in general. She has a 3 year old daughter, and loves making lists, talking too fast and eating lots of cheese.

rsz_blogger_-_janeJane Arschavir of HodgePodgeDays.co.uk
Jane Arschavir has been blogging since June 2013. She stumbled into blogging following a life-changing injury and her blog grew from there. Jane writes about a whole range of topics (hence hodge-podge), and her hobbies include getting brain freeze from eating ice pops too quickly, writer’s block and shouting at the television.

 rsz_blogger_-_sianSian Russell from HelpfulMum.com
Siân’s blog has been established for over four years. She writes about parenting, days out, travel, food, product reviews, lifestyle and the Yorkshire Dales. She has presented at BlogCamp events on video editing techniques and YouTube. In July 2014, she graduated as a mature student in Philosophy, Politics and Economics and now manages a Bed & Breakfast in the Dales

We’re so excited! Keep your eyes open for the post-event round-up!

3. Co-op-Blogger-Event-Masterchef
We even had some extra special guests – Masterchef anyone?