Tag: Communications

One size doesn’t fit all

When you work in PR you quickly recognise that one size does not fit all when it comes to campaign planning. For a start the audience for every client will differ slightly – you can always use less defined targets such as men, women, geographical location or demographic but being more specific means that we are able to meet with the objectives set by the brands we work with.

What is also important is the medium that we choose to engage with. Not every campaign will rely on all channels and I’ve seen a few frightening examples recently where agencies have mismatched the campaign and the medium. Sometimes it’s best to do one thing really well than lots of things badly.

There is a strange attitude within the industry at the moment with some agencies believing that everything needs to be shared across social media channels and I simply don’t agree. There are some campaigns that sit better on radio, or within printed media – not everything has to feature on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest or YouTube to get results and engagement.

It seems to me that agencies are pitching social media as a sexy alternative to other mediums and rather than tailoring a campaign around a preferred medium, ideas are being shoe-horned to fit social channels.
I think it’s time that we all took a step back and went back to basics.

When we work with brands at Open Communications we look at the following; audience, media consumption, ideas, strongest recommendations. Ok, so it’s not brain surgery but if you use the same process you are likely to get a campaign that is fit for purpose and delivers a return on investment, which at the end of the day is what you pay an agency for!

Don’t dismiss the opportunities on your doorstep

As you would expect of a PR agency, we are often asked to recommend media channels for brands and businesses when developing campaigns, events and stunts.

Although many agencies would quickly recommend national media with larger audiences (and not surprisingly commanding bigger budgets) we always think about the objectives of that particular activity and how the message will be communicated by our chosen medium.

It is always surprising when businesses and agencies dismiss regional media whether for advertising or editorial opportunities. We term these titles heartland, as they are usually located at the heart of a community where a brand or business is based.

Although many companies believe that the CEO or Managing Director of a business will only read leading trade and national titles it’s fair to say that in our experience that isn’t true. Many leading senior executives will read regional media to find out what is going on in their local area.

What is most frustrating about this situation is when people are dismissive of regional titles to then get excited when they feature in them – it’s one way or another!

We have long been an advocate of regional media and the opportunities that print and broadcast media offer; promotions, competitions, editorial, features, advertorials and of course standard advertising.

Next time you are considering a campaign think about the businesses that are based in your local area. Are they large or small? Would you send the MD of a multi-million pound business packing because he was local? Unlikely, so perhaps the same thought process should go to working and engaging with regional titles and channels.

The beauty of PR is that you don’t have to be restrictive so if your preferred agency dismisses regional media ask them why. If they say people don’t read the papers, listen to the radio stations or watch the local news take this simple test – ask people you meet in everyday life what the last paper, radio station or TV news programme they engaged with was. I bet there is at least 6 out of 10 who will mention a regional title, station or programme then you have your answer.

The truth is that people do read, listen to and watch regional media and as a result this makes them a valid medium for engagement with prospects and customers. 

PR stands for Press Release

When you work in PR (public relations) there are some days when you wonder what your job description may look like if you were to write down everything you were asked to do. This is no bad thing you understand, as the huge variety of tasks certainly helps to keep things interesting, while raising a few exciting challenges along the way.

This is perhaps why I find it so frustrating when people tell me that they can ‘do PR’ because they have written a press release or had something printed in a newspaper. The purpose of appointing a PR agency shouldn’t be to just write copy – that’s what copy writers are there for and the clue is in the title.

A PR agency is there to manage a brands reputation, to identify opportunities that will extend the messaging of a campaign to take it to a totally new level, or to come up with creative recommendations that will deliver a stunt that will capture the attention of the media, while also educating consumers about what that particular product or brand has to offer.

There’s also the corporate side of things, when an agency may be appointed to manage a stakeholder or internal communications campaign, ensuring that a message is clear and concise, using the right tone of voice and being disseminated in the right way, to the right audience.

Sponsorship often falls under the remit of a PR agency, along with third party associations and event management. Although you may find that copy is required to support these activities, it isn’t the sum of the process and everything from launching to making sure the brand gets the most from an association – which often includes sampling – can be included along the way.

Really the job of a PR has no defined start or finish, as long as you are managing and supporting the reputation of a brand and business, focusing on how it chooses to communicate and engage with its target audiences, then it kind of falls in to our remit.

As we have said in the past there is no point in trying to be all things to all people and that isn’t what I’m suggesting – there are times when we work with other specialist agencies to deliver integrated briefs and this is when you can take one concept or theme and really push it to make as much noise across as many mediums as possible.

At the moment we are working on so many different things that when Friday comes around I feel like my head is spinning with ideas and variations on the campaigns and proposals that we are working on for clients both in business to business and consumer markets.

PR is creative, expressive, exciting and demanding and writing is just one element of what we do on a daily basis to manage the reputation of the brands and businesses we work with. So next time you hear someone say that they can ‘do PR’ because they can draft a press release, please pass on my advice, they can’t! If you think that PR is all about writing a press release then it’s time to take a long hard look at your future career in the business because it won’t last long.

 

Don’t give up your day job

Recently I was supporting a client with a store launch in Reading. As the journey was around 4 hours it gave me chance to think – which isn’t always a good thing!

Although I don’t like jumping on band wagons I have to admit that the roads were in a pretty appalling state with pot holes on motorways and dual carriageways, as well as the smaller country lanes. Not only did I think it was dangerous to be swerving around these wheel crippling ditches but I also found the sheer number of them quite startling.

Now many of you will tell me to stick to the day job but as someone who thinks about brands, how they communicate and what opportunities are available to do so to a mass market I had a bit of a light bulb moment.

Hold on to your hats ladies and gentleman, here it comes…

As I was not-so merrily driving along I noticed the digital signs which say things like ‘Don’t drive when tired’ or ‘Check your speed’ and that kind of nonsense. I don’t think that many people read these signs and then act on the information – the call to action is to look up and then ignore them completely in my opinion.

So, here’s my idea. Why not offer brands the opportunity to sponsor a message? As an example Costa Coffee could sponsor a sign that reads ‘Take a break, don’t drive when tired’ with their branding across the bottom or perhaps they could be more commercial with seasonal messages such as ‘Don’t forget Mother’s Day, flower shop at the next services’.

Not only would this mean that the signs, which let’s be honest are enough to drive you to despair as they stand, would become more interesting they would also become a real communication tool and the money raised from sponsorship could be put back into the highways so that we could all enjoy and benefit – safer roads.

So, what do you think? Should I just stick to my day job or is there a real idea here that Councils up and down the country could benefit from? Let me know your thoughts.

The benefits of being office based

At Open Communications we always talk about understanding our clients business so that we are able to make realistic and appropriate recommendations to support their PR, social media and corporate communications briefs.

As an agency we always think it is important to take the chance, where possible, to work from our clients offices in order to get a real idea of how they work and what ‘a day in the life of’ that business would really be like.

I had the pleasure of spending such a day with Gent Visick recently. We were asked to look at some copywriting for them and suggested that it would be more efficient in terms of time and effective in relation to approval if I worked from their offices – rather than calling and emailing every few minutes.

The day was a real success and it was certainly a huge help from my side. It can be difficult to write copy when you don’t truly understand a business – but when you are literally surrounded by it and listening to what is going on you get more of an insight and better still a sense of the personality of that company.

This Friday I will once again be working with a client in their offices and will be looking forward to ‘Fat Friday’, which I have been warned is the name given to the only day of the working week when all diets are banned.

It is this insight that you don’t get when you maintain a ‘them’ and ‘us’ relationship with your clients. This is why when we started Open Comms, many moons ago now, we decided to work WITH our clients rather than FOR them.

Not only does this make building relationships easier but it means that we are able to work as a genuine extension of their teams and also that they are able to share even the most confidential of information with us knowing that it will remain just that – confidential.

I wouldn’t change our approach to the way we work with our clients as I believe it is of mutual benefit. What I don’t understand is agencies who clock watch and prefer to give exactly what their clients pay for and nothing else. This might be commercially beneficial in the short term but longer term I still think we’ve got it right. But then I would.