Tag: content

USING CLIENT EVENTS TO SOURCE EXCITING CONTENT

Leeds Business Lunch

As a PR agency there are many ways that we work with clients to source exciting content. No longer do we have to rely on the humble press release, we can create content to be shared online.

We have worked with iSource Group and the Yorkshire Mafia (YM) for more than a decade. Like many of our clients, we have built up a strong relationship over the years and are considered an extension of the team.

In addition to managing a schedule of more traditional PR activity, we offer advice and guidance about exciting content that can be shared across mediums throughout the year. This could be anything from comment pieces and thought-leadership articles to specific feedback from the 23,000 pre-approved members in the Group.

Leeds Business Lunch

It is Leeds Business Lunch (#LBL2019) tomorrow and we are lucky enough to have received our invites. As well as enjoying welcome drinks and a delicious lunch, we will be making it our mission to engage with others so that we can further populate the calendar of activity that we have.

There are so many interesting businesses within the YM community, and it makes our job so much more fulfilling to share their news and views across a range of subjects.

Attracting members from the SME market, we are expecting to meet with some familiar faces but also to extend our network. After all, with a room full of senior executives that have companies across the Leeds City Region, it makes sense.

Collating contacts and sourcing exciting content

As an agency we could sit back, relax and enjoy the proceedings, however that just isn’t our style. We are always looking for ways in which we can add some personality and variation to our clients’ PR schedule.

As ever, the YM has secured an impressive line-up of speakers and we will be looking forward to hearing from Sinead Rocks, Managing Director of Nations and Regions at Channel 4; Eve Roodhouse, Chief Officer, Economic Development at Leeds City Council; and Richard Flint, Former CEO of Sky Betting and Gaming.

There are also several sponsors including Lockyers, who have been an advocate of the YM since its launch, Media Works and Quantuma. Sharing their reasons for getting involved with the Group means that we can showcase the benefits that they receive by association.

A further opportunity to source exciting content with added personality.

Last minute preparations

As is to be expected when you host one of the largest lunchtime events in the annual calendar, last-minute preparations are underway. What’s more, we have it on good authority that pictures of Dior samples that were shared on LinkedIn and Twitter were just some of the items we can expect to find in the goody bags!

As a sell-out event the team have a lot to celebrate but it’s important to remember that these things don’t just happen. The team work hard behind the scenes to make each event bigger and better than the one before.

We can’t wait to take our seats and to meet with the great and good from the business community. As the preferred PR partner for iSource and the YM we will have our pen and paper at the ready to take notes and will be sharing blogs in the following days.

If you are attending tomorrow, then please do come across and say hello. For those that are missing out, there is always next year. I hear the plans are already underway to push the boundaries and to use the event as a platform to showcase the North as the powerhouse it deserves to be.

Watch this space.

TEN REASONS TO INVEST IN PR FOR YOUR BUSINESS

Businesses don’t have the budgets, resource or understanding to warrant an investment in PR. It’s too complicated and difficult to measure. Anyone can cobble together a press release or upload a blog. There are bigger priorities and better ways to spend money.

Really?

Here are ten simple reasons why you really should consider PR and what impact it could have on your organisation.

1. Reputation

Despite many changes to the industry over the years, PR remains the specialism that is used to manage the reputation of a business. Some people feel that this sounds too flaky. Consider driving a car without insurance or riding a motorbike without a helmet. The risks are too high. As your reputation is arguably your biggest asset, it should be a priority.

2. Profile

Just because you know about your business it doesn’t mean others do too. Furthermore, if you are considering infiltrating new markets then you will be starting from scratch. You may have the products, service and reputation however you are still new to this audience. Using PR to build your profile in the right places can be very effective.

3. Employer brand

We hear a lot about skills gaps and a lack of talent. If you want to attract the best people to your business, then you need to share details about what it is like to work for you. Using PR to update a company blog and social media tools, such as LinkedIn and twitter, is a good place to start. Adding personality to your content will allow you to attract the people that are a better fit for your business.

4. Website visitors

Over the years the remit of what constitutes PR has broadened. Content marketing has become a big business. If you want to get the most from your website you should be writing regular articles, blog posts and news items. Content should also include relevant inbound and outbound links to attract prospects. Paying thousands for a website doesn’t mean it will work for you.

5. New business

PR will help you to attract new business. No, the phone won’t start ringing off the hook as soon as you implement some of the tactics, but you will notice a change. People will become more receptive and they will talk about you more. There is no greater marketing platform than word of mouth, so make sure you are doing what you can to encourage the right message is shared. This is one of the reasons why story telling is so important.

6. Crisis

No one wants a crisis to happen, but the simple fact is, they do. If you are unprepared then expect the worst. Trying to fumble through a media storm while the phones are ringing relentlessly, and journalists are on deadline chasing for statements, is nothing short of a nightmare. Don’t leave this to chance, it could lead to lasting and irreparable damage. Having the processes and procedures in place will make all the difference.

7. Competition

So, despite points one to six you still think PR is a waste of time and money. That’s absolutely fine. Leave it to your competitors to share their story, raise their profile, manage their communications and reap the rewards and benefits as a result.

8. Cost effective

PR isn’t cheap but when compared to other specialisms within the marketing mix it is cost effective. Given the importance of the tactics that fall under a PR remit, it is a constant frustration that it is the forgotten relative, but that’s the way it is. Some of the largest brands in the world have relied heavily on PR and it has delivered for them time and time again. Think Virgin and Innocent Drinks. They used PR to establish and build brands that made them millions.

9. Flexibility  

With PR you don’t have to sign up to everything in one go. It’s not a single product off a shelf. You could start with a basic press office and then evolve the plans as you go. In fact, this is the best approach. Not only does this mean you can carefully measure the return on your investment, you can also better understand exactly what is happening and why.

10. Return on investment

There is no point in denying it, measuring the absolute impact of PR can be a challenge because the reasons for purchase will differ for every consumer. What we can be certain of is that having a PR programme in place will allow you to manage your message, engage in the right places, target the correct audiences and take some control of the conversation. Millions of businesses across the world haven’t got it wrong, they invest because they see the value.

Back to where we started

And so, we are back to where we started. The first step is to think very carefully about your business and what you want to achieve now and in years to come. PR may not be a priority but consider what it could do for your organisation.

Nothing will change if you continue the way you are going, and perhaps that should be one of the biggest concerns that you have.

For more information about how we work with our clients at Open Communications please visit the What We Do pages here.

YOU SAY IT BEST WHEN YOU SAY NOTHING AT ALL

It might be a great lyric for a song but when it comes to effectively managing the reputation of a brand saying nothing at all really can do more damage than good.

Don’t let your brand become your best kept secret

There are few feelings that beat getting excited by the achievements of a business, and eleven years on that hasn’t changed for us.

It’s not just about sharing our success as we expand and welcome new members to the team or celebrate our recent relocation back to Wakefield city centre, it’s also the updates we get to write and distribute for our clients too.

Sharing stories, building the profile of a brand, creating copy and content that captures the culture and personality of a business all deliver positive results, but it’s essential that messaging is aligned with behaviour.

Saying one thing and doing another will lead to mistrust and fake news.

Using PR and marketing communications to share the right messages, at the right time and in the right place gives an audience the information they need to make an informed decision. It’s no longer good enough to rely on the products and services that you sell, it’s about the approach you take and reinforcing values.

The conversation is happening without you

When you don’t share any news or insights as a business it doesn’t mean that the conversation isn’t going on without you. The truth is that whether you are engaged or not, people will talk. Social media and online forums give global audiences a platform to share their thoughts every minute of every day – literally.

Monitoring these conversations to make sure the comments made about your brand and business are correct and factual is as important as watching your cashflow. Ignoring references that are made online does not mean they will go away, often it can lead to the opposite.

No one is saying that you have to review every social media channel all of the time but checking what is being said is good practice and will keep you abreast of customer comments and complaints.

Building an employer brand

Some companies believe that informing the market that you have the best talent will lead to them being contacted by competitors. Firstly, someone can only be poached if they want to be and secondly, try harder to keep them.

Create a culture that attracts candidates and makes them want to work for you and to stay longer-term. Reinforcing how good your workforce is and giving employees credit where it is due is no bad thing and creates a positive atmosphere.

As LinkedIn becomes increasingly popular, remember that your employees can and will use this platform to share their success and achievements. Being an employer that embraces this, liking or reposting these comments, will set an example for others.

In the same way that employees share their success and achievements online, it is important that you remember that others will see this too. Attracting talent is just as important as nurturing those that already work for you, so do both.

Keeping tight-lipped

I’ve never been one to conform to the belief that if you keep quiet then you can be confident that your closely guarded secrets will remain a mystery. Let’s be honest, in most industries people move within the sector and with that comes the harsh reality that some things simply won’t remain under wraps forever.

As such, it’s worth identifying those things that really are secret and should remain that way and others that don’t really require a trip to the legal team for an NDA!

Make the most from your story

We live in a society whereby we are constantly inundated with marketing messages and it’s often the case that the only differentiation between brands is the story that sits behind why a business was launched and how it got to where it is today.

Use your story to appeal to a wider audience and to attract the right customers. Some businesses get this wrong, but many get it right and their success, in part, is as a result of their carefully curated content and images that reflect their brand.

Put some time into deciding how you want to come across to others and invest in the resource you need to make it happen. Even if you aren’t sure, the benefit of PR is that you can test and measure, but give it time, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither way a globally recognised brand.

Why PR is about more than ‘fannying around with the press releases’

The Devil Wear’s Prada and Bridget Jones’ Diary didn’t really do a great deal to raise the profile of the PR industry but I have to admit that the stereotype that comes with this job isn’t entirely unwarranted, so I would just like to set the record straight.

Not all PR people giggle in high pitched tones and understand this seasons fashion, we don’t all totter on high heels and we don’t all wear perfume that is too strong and lingers after we have left bright stains of lippy or your cheek – post air kiss ‘darling’.

There are some of us who work in PR because we want to plan campaigns with interesting and exciting brands that ‘nail it’ and attract media attention, which in turn raises the profile of the business and encourages consumers to buy their products and services.

Yes people, this is exactly what floats my boat. Since day one securing good quality coverage has made me go all warm and fuzzy inside. Knowing that a campaign you are working on will be shared nationally and possibly even internationally sets butterflies a-fluttering – it’s what we do and it’s what we love.

PR isn’t just about writing or media relations it’s also about understanding the brands and businesses you work with and that is why every morning we read the papers. We’re not taking time out or having a leisurely start to the day, we’re working. It’s important that we know what’s going on so that we can work with the media agenda and react accordingly, whether that is by statement, comment or by building on a strategy.

We live in a very different world to when I started in PR and in some instances it’s easier – you can find out what is going on using RSS feeds, google alerts, twitter or web searches, you don’t have to run to the shops to buy the nationals – just log on!

Some of the best coverage I have secured has come about as the result of piggybacking on the media agenda, using it to the advantage of the brands and businesses we work with. It’s not difficult but it does take time and also understanding – you have to know what you are looking for.

PR as a specialism has evolved so much over recent years it’s difficult not to get excited by it. Content is one of the most valuable tools available to a brand and that’s what we do – we create content that can be distributed to the media, shared online or used as a policy, comment piece, brochure, blog, website, leaflet… content is valuable, it’s strong and it delivers.

Just some of the services we offer as an agency at Open Communications are as follows:

–          Press office

–          Blogger engagement

–          Content management (social media)

–          Copy writing

–          Campaign planning

–          Communications strategy sessions

–          Crisis management

The list goes on but it gives you the general idea.

It’s all about reputation when you work in PR and that means your own, as well as your clients. It’s important to be personable and approachable – that doesn’t mean air kissing clients at every opportunity, it means working with them and being knowledgeable about their business so that you can give them recommendations they know will deliver results. We are PR experts and it’s our expertise that sets us apart, it’s what our clients pay for.

I am very proud of Open Communications and of the campaigns that we deliver for the many brands we work with. I don’t always agree with the PR industry and the image it portrays but I hope that through this blog, you get a little insight into what it really means to work in PR and that there are some of us who simply want to do a job and do it well.

Now, where did I put that press release!

Content is king – long live the king!

User generated content has become an increasingly appealing option for businesses, not least because they can share their ideas, thoughts and passions at the touch of a button. In addition user generated content is cost effective and accessible – after all it’s your time that you need to invest.

Whether you have a company blog, or prefer to use social media tools to share your thoughts, there is an international audience just waiting to hear what you have to say.

What to consider

The problem with user generated content is that often once the excitement of uploading your musings wear’s off, businesses are left with websites and social tools that are clearly out of date.

What usually happens is that someone takes responsibility for uploading content, even getting the support of the senior team, only to then find that managing the process is constantly on the bottom of their ever increasing ‘to do’ list.

All this then does is reinforce that marketing and communication is not a priority for the business – whereas user generated content should be used to promote and showcase success and the value that a consistent approach can deliver.

How to manage the process more effectively

Many organisations choose a single person to manage all user generated content, which includes the drafting and uploading of all articles, but a better and more effective approach would be to pick one person from each team to submit an article of their choice.

This will then share the workload and empower those who are asked to contribute to do so on a less frequent basis. So, rather than having one person contributing to a company blog each week, you can share the workload by requesting that each team submits a blog once a month.

What you are also likely to find if you share the management of a company blog is that the content becomes more engaging and it gives people who are genuinely passionate about their job the chance to share their thoughts and have them published.

This will still require one person to chase and ensure that people do submit their copy on time however it makes the process far simpler and less demanding.

How to make it engaging

Some businesses can struggle with finding topics that they feel their visitors, followers, connections or fans will be interested in reading however it’s worth remembering that they have already taken a step to engage with you and without updated user generated content all you are doing is metaphorically turning your back on them – now that’s not friendly when you think about it!

To make things easier all you need to do is add the website, blog and social media to your weekly or monthly meetings. Create a calendar of events, activities, dates, products, services and subjects that are relevant to your business – you can then choose any one of these to expand on and share.

As an example you could be a clothing company and in which case you could consider the following; fashion, materials, manufacture, design or retail. There are lots and lots of things that could be covered.

Top tips

In order to get best value from user generated content, we would recommend that you keep it simple. Consider how you can share updates with your audience that will add some value.

Blogs as an example are a great way to share the personality of those within your organisation. Choose people who you know will want to contribute and who will get a real buzz from seeing their copy online – it will make life much easier than trying to drag content from those who would rather not contribute.

Put together a list of words that can be associated with your business and also the topics that are covered in industry magazines. What’s great about user generated content is that it’s your opportunity to have your say – obviously you need to be mindful that anyone can access your thoughts and there is a fine line between opinion and ranting – but it’s a great way to share your thoughts.

If you draft a simple question and answer document that can be updated in no more than 20 minutes you can send this around to the teams within your organisation and simply use this as a team update or ‘five minutes with’ section to the blog. This is really simple and should provide you with interesting and engaging content to share.

Clients and suppliers are a great resource as well. If you are proud of the work that you do with them then ask that they feature as a guest blog, sharing their thoughts and views with your audience.

There is no doubt that time and resource needs to be invested in generating interesting and engaging user content but once you start to see the value, which can be measured by increased web hits or shares, likes and retweets across social tools, it becomes clear that it can add real value to your business, while also raising your profile and positioning you as an expert within your field.

How often to post

There is no hard and fast rule about how often you should post or update user generated content but as a guide we would recommend that you update your blog once a week to start with. This will give you a realistic target and will encourage visitors to come back to your site or to share your comments more often.

Taking little steps to implement a strategy that you can manage internally is a great way to build on your marketing activities and if you really don’t have the time – you could always ask an agency for support.

At Open Communications we work with businesses to develop a strategy that they can manage. We offer full day sessions with up to 6 people from any one organisation able to get involved.

Getting people excited by user generated content is often the first hurdle to cross and making them understand the value and benefit that can be achieved as a result isn’t always easy. Working with a third party can do this quickly and give you the hints and tips you need to build a strategy that will last and deliver a return on investment.

Better still, if you work with a reputable company they should have examples of other businesses they have worked with who have seen the value and are putting steps in place to create interesting, engaging and up to date content that they share.

Are you giving your business the right tweetment?

When we are putting together a PR strategy for a client or discussing how a brand can communicate with its many different audiences, we always consider social media; after all it’s a platform and growing point of reference for consumers of all ages and demographics.

I have never really understood agencies that focus purely on social media, as although I feel it is a mistake to ignore online tools, in my opinion they should form part of a wider strategy. The internet has created new ways of communicating but the process is the same; you need to create a plan that supports a year round campaign and then a series of messaging that allows a company to share its stories, which in turn will raise its profile and understanding of the product and services it offers.

Needless to say PR always sounds far simpler than it actually is but essentially the fundamental purpose has never changed, our main objective is always to manage the reputation of the brands we work with. We want to share stories that lead others to talk about a company. In doing this we generate word of mouth, which is still the most valuable medium for creating credibility, recommendation and in turn sales.

I attended a networking session last night which focused specifically on twitter. In celebration of Leeds Business Week, Leeds Tweet Meet brought together a panel of communications professionals to discuss how to effectively use twitter for the purpose of business.

It was an interesting session but the main theme throughout was to have a plan and keep it simple. What was a very valuable suggestion was to recognise that twitter is now used as a real time resource by the consumer. No longer is twitter all about engagement or two way communication, there is a large audience using it to search for up-to-date news, views, comments and opinions.

For the first time twitter is actually competing with search engines, due to the speed in which information can be shared.

We always advise that clients take the time to review twitter and analyse what competitors are doing before they consider social media channels as a route to market. We believe that it is important to understand how people within a given industry are engaging with their audiences, as this can change significantly from one sector to another. It is also essential that legalities are considered, as there are some instances where information cannot be shared on an ‘open platform’.

What people sometimes forget is that twitter is a global and immediate channel to market. Once a tweet is out there it can be difficult to amend or delete. In order for any social media tool to work as well as it should, a client needs to be comfortable and confident before sharing their stories with the masses and that doesn’t just relate to using the tool but also to the content that a company proposes to share.

Some of the most spectacular #fails have come about as a result of brands jumping in or not taking the time to think before updating a status. Although it takes seconds to put up a post, it can take months to manage the damage that this could cause. We always ask if a person would shout their tweet in a street – if the answer is no, then it may be worth considering if the content is necessary and appropriate.

Although content is more important than ever before, it is worth asking what value your updates will give the recipient. If the content that you share is of no use to those that follow you, then consider how you can change it so that people can join in a conversation with you or use your content to their benefit.

As an example rather than telling people you are taking your dog for a walk, make recommendations on how consumers can get best value from your product or how your service differs from competitors. Twitter is also a great tool for sharing recommendations and testimonials, you can re-tweet positive comments and thank those that make them, which only strengthens those relationships, while sharing your success with a mass audience.

A suggestion from Leeds Tweet Meet was for businesses to develop a social media code of conduct, which in many organisations would provide guidelines for employees about what can and cannot be shared on business specific social media channels.

As a starting point for any business our top ten tips for twitter are as follows:

  1. Decide what your objective is – what do you aim to achieve through twitter
  2. Identify key individuals in the business who will manage the account
  3. Research what others within the market are doing (in particular competitors)
  4. Ask your customers if they would like to engage with you on twitter
  5. Create a code of conduct for employees to follow
  6. Do some scenario planning – what’s the worst that could happen
  7. Put together a simple schedule of tweets; build up a bank of topics / themes to consider
  8. Register an account with a relevant design
  9. Search for people that you would like to follow
  10. Build social media into your communications strategy

Twitter is certainly a good tool for business and has a growing number of followers. For those who ‘have better things to do with their time’ I would question what your customers and more importantly prospects would think.

As an immediate medium twitter can be invaluable to business and gives a brand a voice and personality. As a measure of success all you need to do is search for your favourite brands – the majority of which will now have an active twitter feed.

For those who are still in two minds then speak to a PR agency, they should be able to give you the guidance that you need to build twitter and other social tools into your wider communications strategy.