Category: Blog

PR CONTINUES TO BE UNDERVALUED AROUND THE BOARDROOM TABLE

PR can often be an outcast and certainly underrepresented around the boardroom table. An unnecessary investment that cuts deep into company budgets. Granted, it can be difficult to measure the true success of a PR campaign but, without developing and maintaining a positive reputation, a company’s image can be put at risk.

The public’s perception has never been so vital to a business’ success and longevity. And as technological advancements continue to merge with our daily lives, the heat of the spotlight is only set to increase even more.

So, what does this mean?

There is very little room for mistakes. Whether it’s a lack of engagement on social media, a refusal to evolve services or an inability to attract new business, garnering a negative perception can often be led to the downfall of any organisation.

But there is hope! This can all be successfully and robustly manged using an effective PR campaign.

The purpose of PR

First of all, companies must determine what they want to achieve from a PR campaign. Versatile by nature, PR campaigns can be as bespoke as needed depending on the specific objectives an organisation intends to meet.

This can be anything from launching a new product, introducing an enhanced service, promoting a special event or the desire to increase the company’s profile and build brand awareness. Gone are the days when a humble press release was the most effective way to communicate with the public. Now a strategic and proactive approach must be implemented in order for a PR campaign to be successful.

Below is a list of things to consider when putting together a public relations plan:

  • Identify target audience
  • Target trade media and journalists that are dedicated to your specialism
  • Engage with target audience through regular social media posts
  • Position yourself as an expert through thought leadership pieces
  • React and comment on topical issues within your field or area
  • Pursue industry-specific award submissions
  • Create more personal and engaging blog posts
  • Pursue interview opportunities with press
  • Create NEWSWORTHY content about your business

Compiling these points into a step-by-step process, which are then scheduled and executed accordingly, will undoubtedly help a company build towards achieving its initial objective.

It is important to remember, however, that the difference between a poor campaign and a successful campaign is the ability to tell a consistent and compelling story.

This is how companies set themselves apart from direct competitors and stay relevant in the public’s perception.

Telling the story

The foundation of a strong PR campaign will be built on a company’s key message. This needs to be constantly seen and reiterated in any content that is produced. The message can be determined by simply asking why? Why is a company rebranding; expanding the workforce; releasing a new product; investing in IT infrastructure; moving offices; and so on.

Although the newsworthy angle will be to focus on what is currently happening within that company, the underlying messaging is often the reason behind it.

For example, a fashion house may announce the launch of a new store opening that will create 25 new jobs. Although this appears to be strong, albeit relatively straight forward news story, the underlying message may be that the store opening is part of a wider expansion strategy to help the fashion house hit the £5m turnover mark in the next 12 months.

For the duration of the PR campaign, the messaging should constantly echo that the fashion house is set to grow to a £5m business. As this is shared via journalists in the press, through social media, in blogs and other available platforms, the public perception will begin to view this fashion house as a growing and ambitious brand.

Communicating the story of the business can often lead to establishing stronger relationships between customers, members of the media and stakeholders, which in turn will help build brand awareness and customer loyalty. Once a brand establishes a strong following and reputation, the longevity of success will significantly increase.

Back to the boardroom

Taking all of this into account, it could be considered foolish for those with their hands on the budgets to deny a business the opportunity to protect and build its reputation.

The truth is that when PR is embraced and used to meet with the wider objectives of a company it can have a profound impact, not only on the brand profile but also the bottom line.

For more information about how Open Communications works with businesses and brands of all sizes please call a member of the team or email info@opencomms.co.uk.

NEW YEAR, IMPROVED ME?

The arrival of a brand-new year often fills us with immense motivation. And so, from the first day of January, most of us embark on a pretty ambitious journey.

Determined to get fitter, healthier, happier, we create resolutions. Often this is done to eliminate bad habits and establish better ones. Some practical, some slightly unrealistic.

Personally, I like the tradition of creating new year’s resolutions. I think wanting to improve yourself is great. Although self-improvement should be an all year-round quest, I can understand how for many people, a new year almost feels like a blank slate.

A fresh start.

This year, I’m partaking in the hype. While I am not planning on making any elaborate changes, I have decided to take the start of 2020 as an opportunity to begin incorporating better practices into my daily life.

Here are a few things I want to do this year:

  • Spend more time with family and friends
  • Cook more
  • Take more pictures
  • Drink less coffee
  • Stay consistent at the gym
  • Sign up for a charity run
  • Not check my work email on weekends…

Though it may seem that New Year’s resolutions are made to be forgotten, fingers crossed I can follow through with mine!

Whatever your resolutions maybe, I hope that 2020 brings everything you’ve hoped for and more!

Happy New Year everyone. 😊

 

PLANNING A PR CAMPAIGN THAT RESONATES WITH MULTIPLE AUDIENCES

Having put budget behind a consumer-focused campaign, it’s natural to want to maximise that investment. Planning a PR campaign that reaches as many of your target audience as possible is a great way to do this, often making for very impressive results!

 

Imagine, for example, that your product is a toy which appeals to 5-7-year olds. Not only would you want to showcase the toy to children in that age group, but it is also important that you target the parent as well. After all, they’re the ones with the spending power.

 

In addition, grandparents are known to be rather generous. Particularly when it comes to Christmas and birthday presents. Therefore, it would be wise to ensure that they are aware of your product too.

 

So, how do you appeal to all three groups, but still remain ‘on-message’ throughout a consumer PR campaign?

 

1. Begin with clear messaging

Outlining your key messages at the very start is invaluable. A robust planning process creates an invaluable guideline for any future decisions on content.

 

A brainstorm is a great way to get ideas flowing. Some vital talking points include:

  • Keywords to describe the product – bright, fun, tactile, soft, unique, adorable, cool
  • How does this toy make people feel – is it a comforting item, does it make a child feel grown up, is it designed to make them laugh, does it bring joy?
  • What is its purpose – is it just for fun, does it have an educational element?

 

You will then need to refine these ideas, selecting the words and phrases that resonate most strongly with the item. With your choices made, these key messages become the starting point for content creation.

 

Though the tone of the content will change dependent upon its intended audience, your key messages will remain consistent. This will ensure that each piece complements one another and, most importantly, becomes part of a unified campaign.

 

2. Utilise different tactics

Once your key messages have been agreed, you can begin to think about the tactics that will be used to increase awareness of your product.

 

This is one of the clear benefits to investing in PR; there are several tactics that can be considered and used, including:

 

  • Press drops

Once you’ve established your media targets and contacts, engage them with a press drop.

 

This could be a simple box containing the product and press release or it could be something more interactive. Creating a drop that is visually appealing will really make your delivery stand out from the many others which are bound to land on the journalist’s desk that day.

 

  • Influencer engagement

Bloggers and influencers are becoming an ever more valuable resource when it comes to spreading the word about new products.

 

Making contact with those who are relevant to your product and target audience can have far-reaching benefits for your campaign.

 

Find out more about how to choose the right influencer for your brand here.

 

  • Competitions

Offer people a chance to win! Better still, engineer the competition so that it spreads the word about your product.

 

Organising a social media giveaway, either on your own social platforms or on those of a relevant and credible partner, is a fantastic way to create noise around your offering.

 

As part of the entry process, ask that your post is liked or shared. Perhaps even incorporate a relevant hashtag to increase awareness of your product or brand. If your toy becomes in demand, you’ll likely spread the message about your item while increasing your brand’s social media following at the same time.

 

One watch-out however is to ensure that you are putting in place the correct governance and that anything that is gifted is mentioned within any post that is shared. If this doesn’t happen, you can end up in some very hot water!

 

  • Events

Dependent on the item, hosting an event which invites people to engage with your item can be a fantastic tactic when it comes to increasing awareness and love for your product.

 

In this case, creating a small area where children are free to come and explore the toy itself, is sure to have them tugging at their parents’ sleeves requesting that your product features on their next Christmas or birthday list!

 

However, a word of warning – events which deliver a quality experience can be a rather expensive commitment and should be costed before any commitment is made.

 

3. Maximise social channels

In this case, taking a single channel approach is unlikely to yield the remarkable results that you are expecting. Nor will churning out the same content across each platform.

Instead, do your research. Carefully look into each platform. Consider the typical age demographic, then craft and distribute your content accordingly.

After all, what appeals to a 7-year-old, may not resonate quite so well with a 60-year-old.

 

4. YouTube

These days, YouTube is a staple in the homes of most school-aged children. As a result, the famous ‘un-boxing’ videos are an effective way of sharing the excitement that comes with the latest ‘must-have’ toys with children and their parents.

 

Summary

There’s no doubt that planning a PR campaign takes a lot of work, which is why it’s most definitely a job best entrusted to the professionals.

Learn a little more about what we do here at Open Comms here. If you’d like to discuss an upcoming campaign, simply give us a call on 01924 862477.

NEW YEAR, NEW PERSPECTIVE AND A BRAND-NEW YOU

It’s a brand-new year and the possibilities are endless. The perfect opportunity to put pen to paper and note down any New Year’s resolutions which will make the next twelve months better than the last.

However, while the arrival of a new decade may be positive for some, it can be infinitely challenging for others.

Whichever scenario describes your 2019, here’s a little positivity to begin 2020 which could, quite possibly, be your best year yet!

Perfection is a myth

There’s no denying that each year presents plenty of reason to celebrate. But, with success comes moments of difficulty, feelings of failure and, perhaps, some memories that we’d really rather forget.

No matter what social media tells us, the ‘perfect’ life rarely exists. There are some moments that are undeniably sad, and it’s these times that can have us questioning what we did wrong?

In the most part, a happy life is merely a matter of perspective. Take the time to cherish the positives and celebrate achievements, however small. Only with the right mindset will positivity be able to prevail.

Don’t be a stranger

Following a period which is traditionally spent surrounded by friends and family, a New Year can be an extremely lonely time for some.

Family fallouts are all too common and, I’m sure, a regret that weighs heavily on people’s hearts. It’s never too late to try and bury the hatchet.

If friends and family are not around, take a positive step to meet others. There are many groups, coffee mornings or sports clubs which can be a fantastic way to establish friendships.

Understand your value

Some people are simply more considerate than others. It’s a hard fact that can be difficult to accept and a source of much upset.

However, moving on from situations that are detrimental to your happiness is important. After all, many of us have come to realise that life really is too short.

Give a little kindness

Kindness costs nothing, so give it freely – not only to others, but also to yourself.

It’s amazing what impact a thoughtful comment, offer of support or small gesture can have on someone else’s life.

New Year, new you

In this time of endless opportunity, relish the chance to be the author of your latest chapter in the whirlwind that is life. Setting realistic expectations while also challenging yourself will give you balance. There is no point in creating an unachievable list of tasks from the get-go.

Split your hopes and dreams into sub-categories and spend a little time each month pushing yourself closer to where you want to be. Taking steps forward is more positive than standing still.

For a few more tips on making 2020 a year of progress, read Open Communications PR Account Executive, Nick Hill’s latest blog here.

THREE KEY TIPS TO START 2020 AS A YEAR OF PROGRESS

2019 is over. Let that sink in.

The older I get the more I find myself asking the same question every time 1st December appears on the calendar. No, it’s not whether I will finally make it to Santa’s nice list but more where has the year gone?

If this sounds familiar, and you find yourself in a constant state of confusion trying to figure out how another 12 months have come and gone in a flash, then I’d recommend taking some time over the Christmas holidays to have a period of deep, self-reflection.

Whether it’s looking at the good and bad both professionally and personally, having a cathartic release at the end of the year can be an extremely powerful tool for moving forward, but only if you are truly honest with yourself.

Celebrate the successes!

If you’ve achieved new client wins, contract extensions, new hires or overall business growth, you must recognise the triumphs that your hard work has delivered. With that being said, it is equally as important to evaluate the failures. I believe that taking stock of these combined experiences allows us to learn, progress and ultimately reach our full potential.

So, before 2020 begins and we think about what we will be thinking when we sit down one year from now scratching our heads as to where another twelve months has gone, I have put together a list of my three top tips to help immerse yourself in the here and now.

  1. Journal writing

Start the new year by dedicating yourself to writing a journal or diary entry. Whether its daily, weekly or even monthly, putting pen to paper can often prompt reflection and force you to remember key experiences and moments that would have otherwise been forgotten.

Not only does this allow you to keep on track of your ongoing activity, meetings and workload, but it also can be used as a prompt to generate new ideas and strategies. Furthermore, it could act as a blueprint, outlining what has and hasn’t worked in the past which can be used to help form new decisions for the future.

  1. Monthly comparisons

Measuring progress can be done in many different forms, depending on what area of the workplace you are looking to assess. Whether it’s an analytical approach, goal oriented or from an economic perspective, comparing and contrasting your progress can indicate which areas need reviewing and which areas you are performing most strongly in.

Identifying what worked, but more importantly what didn’t work, is a practical way of assessing how you’ve either been successful or fallen short in many critical aspects of the workplace.

Becoming aware of your shortcomings, no matter how big or small, will not only help you eliminate the fear of making the same mistakes, but it will also highlight your strengths and how you’ve been able to use these to achieve success.

Once the month is over, repeated the process.

  1. Self-imposed breaks

Whether you are completing long or short  projects, reaching deadlines or simply trying to manage an increasing workload, taking a break in a busy period can often feel detrimental to your work, especially when you feel as if you are performing at a high level.

Realistically, however, you have to ask yourself how long this can be maintained before hitting the proverbial brick wall. Operating at a rapid pace will eventually leave you feeling overwhelmed, unfocused and frustrated, all of which combined will lead to a drop in overall productivity. To avoid such a scenario, we must allow ourselves to step back and take a much-needed break.

Whether its twenty minutes, an hour, a day, week, month or longer; the ability to step back, refocus and revaluate what you are trying to achieve can be such a valuable skill to have. Implementing this practise into the workplace will not only encourage you to stay mindful of your ambitions, but it will also help you understand when you are at full capacity and unable to deliver your desired end goals.

Practise what I preach

The purpose of each of all three tips is to ensure we become self-aware of our strengths and weaknesses, which then allows us to identify and address critical areas of improvement. We strive to be better today than we were yesterday, therefore we must show significant signs of growth year on year.

As we expect to get even busier in 2020 at Open Comms, I will be making sure to implement all three tips as soon as we return in January. Whether its crafting a press release, rolling out a social media campaign or securing media coverage for our growing list of clients, it is critical that I constantly work towards building on the success already achieved and improving the less developed aspects of my skillset.

EVERYONE CAN WRITE, RIGHT?

Everyone can write, right?

Working in PR can be a challenge. There, I’ve said it. Not only has it been the forgotten relative for years when it comes to budget allocation, there is also the fact that people devalue the specialism because ‘everyone can write, right?’.

No longer is the process of putting pen to paper – or words on a page electronically – considered an art. It’s just a thing that is done and because businesses are increasingly told they need to upload content and to share posts, it makes our service a commodity.

At a recent event with the business community in Wakefield, I got chatting to an associate who asked how you make people believe that PR is worth the investment.

PR is more than words on a page

The truth is, PR will deliver but it takes time, effort, experience and the ability to take a step back and to realise it isn’t words on a page. What we produce is compelling content that engages with an audience and resonates.

PR is an incredibly powerful tool when it is used correctly. Good or bad, it can influence thoughts about a brand that could impact on the reputation of that business or individual forever.

People don’t seem to realise that what they share with the media or online reflects their values, what their business stands for and what they hope to achieve in the future. Thanks to search engines and the ability to copy and save, there is no waste paper bin or fish and chip wrapping, this content lasts a lifetime.

Using PR tactics to have a profound impact on business

The beauty of PR and writing quality content is that when it is managed correctly it can have a profound impact on a business and its success. Agencies and in-house specialists were once reliant on the press release, but we now have so many more tactics we can call upon.

The information we need to draft a press release can be used to craft an interesting thought-leadership article for the website, which can then be used to capture sound bites that are shared on social media.

Creating a content schedule means that you can now get the best from every piece of news that you have to share, if you manage the process correctly.

Investing in PR

I’ve lost count of the number of times people have asked me how I coerce our clients into paying for an agency when they could appoint a graduate or get someone in-house. Firstly, we don’t coerce anyone into anything and secondly, if a company wants to invest in the resource needed to deliver a year-round PR campaign then great!

In my experience, when a company does have a dedicated PR or marketing resource, the remit of that person becomes increasingly diverse leaving them to become a Jack of all trades but a master of none.

Unfortunately, PR is still widely misunderstood and that can leave senior managers considering it to be an extension of the admin function, rather than a specialism that could have a significant impact on the organisation and its performance. It goes back to the heading of this blog, the misguided belief that ‘everyone can write, right?’

PR isn’t easy

This is infuriating to PR practitioners that have worked for years to develop their skills and believe in making a difference to the companies that they deliver a service for. Appreciating the time and effort that goes into finding the story, drafting the story, sharing the story and then further elevating that message is not for the faint hearted.

PR isn’t easy. It requires attention to detail, thought, craftsmanship and passion. It takes someone who wants to tell stories in the right way to grasp hold of the information and then shape it in a way that makes it interesting, informative and educational.

I don’t go to work each day looking forward to writing a press release. I go to work feeling excited by what we can achieve when we consider how we will communicate across various platforms for a client and what campaign reach we can secure, which will then support sales.

Back to where we started

Putting pen to paper is a skill that requires thought, attention and experience. Writing compelling copy isn’t easy and it takes time. Identifying a story and pitching it to the right journalist so that it secures coverage can be a challenge. Learning all about topics you have never heard before and writing content that is shared online as a comment piece from a client can be nerve-wracking.

So, going back to where we started, when people do say that ‘everyone can write, right?’, the answer quite simply is no. People can put pen to paper, but it takes a specialist with knowledge and experience to write content that will deliver results.

For more information about the services that we offer, please visit: www.opencomms.co.uk/whatwedo

BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL BRAND

Every day we count our lucky stars knowing that we work with a host of amazing businesses across diverse industries including automotive, recruitment, digital, food manufacturing, architecture and third sector.

Despite our clients operating in such distinct areas, they all have one thing in common; not only do they know how to build a successful brand, they also understand how to maintain that success.

What’s great is that we get to support these organisations and to celebrate their ongoing achievements.

Establishing values

At the start of any brand journey, it’s vital to sit down and think about the bigger picture.

What inspired you to offer your particular product or service? Is there a passion that drives your organisation forward? What issues are important to your business? Which common traits describe your team?

Only with these points addressed can a business truly live, breathe and begin to present a cohesive approach which effectively communicates the brand and its values.

Identifying a brand ‘voice’

Once a company has pinpointed its underlying values, it’s a good time to begin forming a brand voice.

Brainstorming a collection of words which feel ‘right’ is a useful way to start the process. With a bank of vocabulary in place, this can be used as a basis for press releases, website copy and a social media schedule.

Adopting a style of communication which is unique to your business is a great way to add some personality and to give a point of difference which will allow a brand to stand out from the crowd.

A catchy, concise positioning statement

If you could use only one sentence to explain your business, what would it be?

Taking the time to craft a crisp positioning statement which encompasses all that your organisation delivers will help consumers and other businesses to quickly become familiar with the product or service that you offer.

Hierarchy of messaging

With your overarching statement perfected, what other key messages would you like to share about your company?

Perhaps what sets your offering apart is the fact that it is organic, eco-friendly or addresses a problem which has yet to be solved.

Identifying three or four main points will ensure that future communications are prioritised correctly, focusing on the elements which are most important about your product or service.

Authenticity

In today’s world, consumers are savvier than ever. With access to a company’s website, social platforms and any news articles at the touch of a button, it’s important that a brand remains authentic in its approach.

For instance, it’s no good positioning a business as caring about the planet and then using unsustainable materials within the manufacturing process. With social media and on pack guidelines someone will notice, and it could spell a make or break situation for your organisation.

Instead, an honest and open approach which is in line with brand values, is a sure way to build up consumer trust and loyalty.

Right message, right place, right time

In short, it all comes down to communicating key messages to the right people, in the right places and at the right time.

Getting this process correct is imperative if your organisation is to reach its full potential. Here at Open Comms, our guidance has helped a range of leading businesses to build a successful brand.

We’d love to chat about our recommendations for your organisation. With the right support, you could be joining our award-winning clients and celebrating your achievements throughout 2020. For further information, simply give us a call on 01924 862477 or browse our website to learn more.

CAPITAL JINGLE BELL BALL

Usually my weekends revolve around Netflix. This weekend however was different.

I was given the opportunity to attend the UK’s biggest Christmas Party. Capital FM’s Jingle Bell Ball. And wow, what an experience! The long journey down to London was definitely worth it!

The event took place at the O2 and while the arena was massive, there was not one empty seat in sight. It was completely packed. A sold-out event indeed.

Harry Styles, Rita Ora and Liam Payne were just some of the stars that put on one amazing show. I thoroughly enjoyed all performances, but the highlight of my night had to be Stormzy’s set. His energy was infectious and left no one in their seats. Everyone was up and dancing.

I can see why Capital call it the UK’s biggest Christmas Party – it certainly is!

Another favourite moment of mine was when Harry Styles performed What Makes You Beautiful. Although completely unexpected, it was the sweetest surprise. You see, like every other teenage girl in 2011, I was utterly obsessed with One Direction. So, hearing their first ever song after so many years left me regressing and reminiscing over childhood memories.

While it was only brief, it was wonderful.

Granted that performances are a huge part of Capital’s Jingle Bell Ball, it’s not the singers that make the event so incredible. It’s the fact that the show can be enjoyed with the entire family. Unlike other concerts, the Jingle Bell Ball is for everyone. It’s an opportunity to bring family and friends together regardless of age.

Thank you Capital, for arranging such a phenomenal event.

I will absolutely be attending next year.

If you missed the show, not to worry, you can view all the amazing performances here: https://www.capitalfm.com/events/jingle-bell-ball/all-a-z-live-2019/

P.S This is NOT a sponsored post; I just had the best time!!!

‘WORKING’ IN A WINTER WONDERLAND

It’s not quite how the Christmas classic is remembered, however here at Open Comms we are less walking and more working in a Winter Wonderland!

Unique workspaces

Companies up and down the country seem obsessed with trying to come up with the latest innovative ideas to create the most unique workspaces.

Whether it’s a ping pong table, bean bags, themed break-out areas or the brightest and boldest colour schemes; the latest office trends are certainly a far cry from the more traditional desk, chair and computer.

But is designing a weird and wacky office space, which can often be unnecessary and costly, really the best way to create a positive company culture?

Productivity through place

No matter the layout or features, an office is still an office with one main function; a place where we come to work every day.

Also, could it be argued that these ‘unique’ workspaces are a distraction to employees and only likely to get in the way of their daily tasks? Can companies guarantee productivity will improve or at least remain the same?

There has never been such emphasis on the health and wellbeing of the workforce, irrelevant of the company or sector you work in, so it is understandable that these trends will start to top the to-do list for business owners.

With many organisations having undergone such drastic and expensive changes in recent years, it begs the question – are there much simpler ways to create a positive company culture that encourages people to have fun whilst also working?

Deck the halls!

This is something Open Communications does very well!

I walked into the office on Tuesday morning and was starting the day with a smile on my face. Our headquarters in Wakefield had been transformed into a festive winter wonderland.

The impact was immediate as we all embraced the Christmas spirit, gazing at the tinsel, baubles and trees that had brought the office to life and added some festive sparkle and a touch of magic in each room.

With a client list operating across a wide range of industries, daily life at Open Comms can often be fast paced and no two days are the same, so it is fair to say we are a busy bunch. But ever since our office has been immersed by Christmas decorations, there has been a renewed sense of unity and excitement among the team as we are set to finish what has been an extremely productive year.

I really do believe that celebrating occasions such as this can prove to be hugely benefit, not only to individual employees, but also to a company as a whole.

Keeping a good morale among the workplace will mean people enjoy coming to the office every morning and it adds even more anticipation to the Christmas holidays! The happier the employee, the more productive they’ll be.

We will be working hard as ever but enjoying the run up to the Christmas and New Year break surrounded by our decorations and perhaps just a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie or two!

Merry Christmas from all at Open Communications