Tag: personality

A BRAND WITH LITERALLY NO PERSONALITY

LinkedIn has become a platform of choice for me over the last year or so. I like the fact it knows what it wants to be and that it is a work in progress. Having met with some of the team, they acknowledge there is more to be done but that the functionality has been developed to benefit business.

There is no other platform that has taken ownership of becoming an online portfolio of CVs that gives businesses access to a global database of talent like LinkedIn – or certainly not that I have come across.

Company pages on LinkedIn

We manage the Company Pages for some of our clients and make sure to post a selection of news, articles and coverage. We also engage with other brands and businesses to keep the feeds interesting and informative.

As a business that never stops learning, we review other pages to see what companies are doing and what ‘tricks of the trade’ are working. Applying best practice, we can then make recommendations that we know add value.

Making contacts, or not!

This morning when I was reviewing my own LinkedIn feed, I came across an impressive ‘company’ page. It was visual, informative, punchy and had a tone of voice that appealed to me. The page was obviously updated regularly but what stood out as very strange was there was no contact.

I think the page had been set up as a person but should have been a company. So, to be clear, it said ‘Owner of widget business’ but the page was the brand, not the individual.

Inadvertently, I had come across a brand with literally no personality!

There were several reasons I found this odd, not least how had this person not realised that it was a mistake to remain nameless and how were people supposed to make contact?

LinkedIn is about connections and although company pages generate followers, it’s not the same thing.

The power of personality

I’m a big believer that ‘people buy people’ and this has worked in practice for us here at Open Communications. Many of our clients have been with us for years and we have worked with brand managers that come to us when they change company – one of the biggest compliments in our industry and not something we take for granted.

The truth is that personality is one of the very few things that a business has which is truly unique. Of course, companies can try to replicate the tone of voice, messaging and even visuals that a brand uses but it will never be the same.

There are always the values, story and culture that you can never quite replicate. Plus, most brands that try to be something they are not get caught out and it all goes horribly wrong. Authenticity may be a phrase that is overused, but it resonates with audiences.

Keeping it real

The lesson I learnt from this morning’s encounter was that I will make it my mission to ensure that every company director we work with takes full credit for their business on LinkedIn, giving those that want to make an introduction the opportunity to do so.

I will also explain the difference between a personal and company page so that they don’t make any mistakes that could cost them sales.

I can see no reason for having a ‘social’ channel and not being visible as a person. The whole thing really is quite baffling.

As a business that wants to attract customers, this really does need to be addressed and I hope that it is. The page deserves to get the attention that it is attracting but I expect that the leads it could convert are fewer than they should be for this very reason.

The value of values

Open Communications is a straight talking PR agency – we get the job done and most importantly we do it well. We don’t ‘do’ air kissing but we do meet with clients objectives and as a result we have long-term relationships with the brands we work with.

You may read that and think – so what? Why do I care that you are straight talking, or that you do what you say you will, but actually these are very important points for us. You see the paragraph above is an outline of our values.

Some people think that values are like a mission statement – it’s a paragraph that you make up, you put it in a business plan and then never set sight of it again, or at least not until you are asked for it and then you blow the dust off and push it across the desk.

We wanted to be different at Open Comms. We didn’t want wishy, washy statements that use long words that sound like they would be better placed in an academic text book. We wanted our values to mean something to us and therefore to our employees, colleagues, clients and suppliers.

Although I didn’t realise it at the time, values are a great reference point when you need to regroup.

We have been involved in some very exciting scenarios recently and some very nerve-wracking situations and although there can be the temptation to become something that you are not, we have always followed the same approach; what you see is what you get. If you want results then great, if you want air kissing and posh lunches, we aren’t the right agency for you. Bold perhaps and perhaps some may say a little too honest, but true.

It’s this knowledge of who we are and what we can deliver, which gives us the confidence to sit in front of brands and businesses of any size and confidently present our thoughts and ideas. Our values are the foundations which have allowed us to grow the agency and to build our client base, which is now a portfolio of brands that we are extremely proud to work with.

All businesses should consider their values. Ask yourself, what makes you different, what makes you tick and how could this translate into the products and service that you deliver for your customers? A brand with true values immediately has a stronger proposition than a competitor without – take The Body Shop as an example.

It is irrelevant whether you like their products or share their values, the message is simple; they are a brand that places environmental issues at the heart of everything they do. This translates across design, advertising, communication and even the way that the products are displayed in the shops.

Often the worry with brands is that they choose values and these change, but this is ok. A company’s values can change over time as the business evolves, all you need to make sure is that you are comfortable with this being the case and that you are making changes for the right reasons. Again, take the example of Innocent Drinks – who are now in the most part owned by Coca Cola. Does this fit well with the brands values? Six months ago, perhaps not but since Coke has changed its approach and moved towards more ‘healthy’ options the decision starts to make sense. The decision as I see it wasn’t for Innocent to change their values in order to become part of the huge corporate machine that is Coke but more for Coke to learn how to change the positioning of its values and use the experience of Innocent to make this transition in the mind of the consumers – and it’s working.

If you are confident about communicating new values – or an evolution of your current values – to your stakeholders, employees and customers then you can’t go far wrong. The most important point is that you believe – truly believe – in your values and that they are shared by those who matter most to you. Trying to be something you are not is like wearing the wrong sized clothes – we may all try it from time to time but it will never work!

As far as I’m concerned if you have no values, you have no personality and as per my recent blog  this is one of the most significant and ‘valuable’ assets a business has. So if you can’t see the value in your values perhaps you need to look from the outside in – what is the perception that you are giving your customers and are you confident that this is a true representation of your brand and business.

An insight into the team at Open Comms

Right, so we always say that we aren’t your typical PR agency and we also advise that brands consider injecting some personality into their comms – after all it’s the one thing that can’t be replicated by competitors. We therefore felt it would be a good idea to follow our own advice.

We asked our new(ish) recruit Tarina some questions to give you a little insight into what makes her tick. We will update tomorrow with the same questions from Naomi, our most recent team member – so make sure you come back to hear more from the team here at Open.

How would you describe yourself in three words

Ughh, I’ve never been good at answering this question, but going on what I’ve been told by family and friends, I suppose it’d be; mellow, sarcastic and fun-loving

What do you most enjoy about working in PR

So far the best thing about it for me has been the variety of tasks that we all have set each day of the week, we were laughing in the office a couple of days ago about how one minute you’ll be finding a lively venue for a kids event, and the next you could be writing a serious article about Chlamydia. It definitely hasn’t been boring.

What is your favourite book

I personally don’t really like reading, I’ve always preferred to listen to music, and I could sit doing nothing for days if I had music to listen to. I’ve grown up going to gigs and festivals as often as possible, and reading was never “my thing” but just recently I’ve downloaded one of these kindle fandangles and I’m currently reading ‘The Rum Diary’

What did you want to be when you grew up

I have no idea. I have a vague memory of imagining myself getting out of a fancy car with a briefcase and some perfect heels. But I don’t suppose that’s an uncommon dream. At one point I wanted to be an architect, but when I realised maths wasn’t my strong point, that hope went out the window.

The most important goal to me is a promise I made to myself at the age of about 10, to visit every continent at least once before I die. So far I’ve managed about 5%.

…one day.

What do you find most challenging about working in PR

I sometimes find it hard to get through the monotonous parts, the reports and basic bits of research, because I’m constantly eager to get on with the fun bits, but if it wasn’t for the research, the fun parts would pretty much be a massive flop, so you’ve just got to keep yourself motivated with the thoughts of that end product I suppose, and once you get there you’ve totally forgotten about it.

If you could be anything else, what would it be (career wise)

A makeup artist. For the last few years I’ve really loved makeup, I’ve spent hours watching tutorials and playing with new products and I do get told a lot that I’m good at creating looks and suiting styles to different people. Before I started in PR I was aiming towards a professional makeup qualification in the hopes of becoming self employed. I think I’ll still end up doing it at some point in my own time, maybe not to earn any money, just because I enjoy it.

If you had a super power what would it be

I would read peoples minds. I think it’d be possible to do anything if you could read minds (well….except fly……but there’s planes for that), and you’d know who exactly was worth your time.

What is your guilty secret (food / TV programmes)

Jeremy Kyle!  I’m sorry to say I miss it so much now I’m here full time, me and my closest friend Danielle are always getting laughed at because we’ll sit and text eachother about the people on it….while were both watching it, and we’ve applied for tickets to sit in the audience. It’s fairly embarrassing, but hey ho!

What are you most proud of

I was just about to say “the fact I haven’t eaten any chocolate today”, until I realised I’ve just finished off a Boost bar.

Which account would you most like to work on if you could choose

There are so many.

As you’ll probably see in one of my other Blogs, I’d love to work with a charity that provides support and developments for developing countries. I have so many ideas for these types of campaigns and I think it would be amazingly rewarding to see I had contributed to changing peoples lives.

Next up would probably be something along the lines of music events, promotions or venues. I was really hoping to get into events management at one stage in my life, and I love that PR gives the opportunity to attend some of the events that you help put together. Being in a venue with a crowd of other people all feeling good vibes from music is just about the best place in the world, and I’d be ever grateful if I had the chance to introduce people to that.

I’d also love to be a part in some makeup campaigns or promotions. My favourite brand is Urban Decay; I love everything about it and have too many times raided my purse to get my hands on products they make. So I suppose they’d be another dream account.

Every business has ‘the’ secret ingredient

The difference between one brand and another is often down to the simplest of things but in turn this can and has taken a business from being mediocre to massive!

I have been reading lots of articles about brands recently; their campaigns, new advertising creative, plans for the run up to the Christmas period, new seasonal products… and it strikes me that whatever they are launching and whatever new message they are conveying they are all trying to achieve the same objective.

It doesn’t matter which agency you choose to work with, there is little doubt that creativity and relationship is often at the heart of that decision, but the truth is that a brand already has the magic ingredient that is required to encourage a consumer to purchase one product above another.

All an agency really has to do is find that hidden ingredient and bring it to life. They have to develop a campaign that can cross all mediums and reach all touch points – they have to put this gem at the heart of the business, to ensure that it is always a fundamental starting point for any campaign, at any time of the brands life cycle.

This nugget is often the one thing that is overlooked by so many agencies; those that are too busy striving to win the next award to look closely enough at their clients business to really see what is staring them in the face. They truly believe that if they work against this ‘thing’ they can push forward some pretty pictures or quirky concept that will in turn generate greater revenues in a shorter time frame.

What they fail to recognise is that by using the obvious – this thing that is right in front of them – they can build longer term campaigns that will evolve year on year, which in turn will lead to a more successful and profitable business and therefore bigger plans and better budgets for all agencies involved.

It’s often the simplest of things that people miss and this is in everyday life, as well as business. We all strive to own a big house and live a Beckham-esque existence when actually if we were honest, all many of us would like is to be happy with our lot, even if that means a one bedroomed cottage in the Yorkshire Dales (ok that may just be me!).

So what is this one thing, this nugget, the missing piece of the jigsaw – it’s personality. Don’t tut or roll your eyes, think about it. Most successful brands are built upon the personality of the founding member, partnership or team. Their belief in their product and the values that they have attributed to that business (plus the bloody, sweat and tears that often goes into turning an idea into a reality) are what breaths the life into the brand and gives it longevity.

It doesn’t matter what creative campaign, stunt, advertising or PR activity they plan throughout the year, the foundations of that business should always be the same – built on personality, which become the values of that company. The best businesses are those that do this and do it well. Next time you think about a brand, think about the story that goes behind it; where did it come from, who founded it and how did it go from good to great? I bet that in many instances it’s the story, which is based on the personality of the founders or adopters who were able to breath that life into it, that gives you the affinity you have with the business and its products.

Have we all gone a tribunal too far?

 

It was one of those really worrying situations where you’re not sure if you’re watching a comedy, a spoof or a real life documentary. Yes people, on Tuesday evening we sat down to ‘The Call Centre’ and I am SO pleased that we did.

Firstly this is car crash TV at its very best but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be watched and enjoyed – just be warned, if you or your other half work in HR you may need a stiff drink to get you through.

For those of you who have not had the absolute pleasure, The Call Centre is real life business based in Swansea. As the name would suggest, it is a call centre employing hundreds of staff from the local area.

As you would imagine from an office of this size, there are more than your average number of characters – as if this alone wasn’t a recipe for TV documentary success, enter stage left, the owner, ‘uncle’ Nev.

We watched this programme for half an hour still debating if it was in fact real or if it was one of those strange programmes we now get where half of it is made up and half of it is ‘kind of’ realish’. As I never watch programmes that can’t make up their mind what they want to be, I was considering turning over when we ‘Googled’ (because Google is the fountain of all knowledge) and realised, despite our absolute horror and amazement, it is in fact real – every last comedy gold part of it.

So, anyway, here’s the thing. Nev clearly doesn’t go by the book. He tells his staff to shut up, throws things at them and screams ‘GET OUT’ at the top of his voice to those he has just interviewed – better still, they are the poor individuals that got the job! He also engages in conversations that in any normal office environment would be an absolute NO GO!

As an example, one of his staff was feeling particularly down after being dumped (it happens to us all), so Nev says ‘You’ve been a right miserable b*stard for the last month and we all know why’. As if this wasn’t bad enough he then parades this poor girl around the office asking anyone if they want to take her out on a date.

It doesn’t even stop there… he then sets up a speed dating event, yes an arranged function with hundreds of people, just to get this girl a date. He then sends her home with ‘said match’ and makes them bake cakes!

Then we move on to the recently appointed tea lady. Having tried to work in the call centre this young girl realises it’s just not for her but rather than get rid, Nev decides there is a role for her to make tea and coffee for everyone. What was astounding and heart-warming was that this girl takes this job really seriously. It’s apparent if she’s going to be a tea lady she is clearly going to be the best tea lady.

When her delightful co-workers decide to hide her tea bags and teaspoons all hell breaks loose and there are tears, tantrums and warnings – I kid you not, you couldn’t make it up!

What was amazing about this programme was that although there must have been at least 20 scenarios where we turned to each other and said ‘He can’t do that’, ‘You can’t say that’, ‘He is going to end up in a tribunal’, surprisingly I think there’s a lot that we can all learn from Nev.

He has a happy workforce for a start and people who are committed to his business. Ok, they know he’s nuts and openly admit that he is one-of-a-kind but that’s no bad thing. As a result of Nev and his attitude (his team meetings are called a s*it sandwich because you have a sandwich and he gives you s*it) people respect and to some degree appreciate him and his straight forward and no nonsense style.

Move over Sir Alan Sugar, Nev is in town and as far as the Davies’ household goes, he’s leaps and bounds in front of any car crash TV that you can produce and after the most recent series of The Unemployable – sorry I mean Apprentice – I didn’t think I would be saying that.

At the very least you can have some sympathy, empathy and dare I add respect for these people. They are real and perhaps we all need a Nev in our lives to remind us of what ‘being yourself’ can achieve. There are definite lessons I’m taking from Nev and perhaps we need to stop looking for reasons to criticise employers and employees. May be what we need to do instead is get some personality back to the workplace and god forbid have some fun!  

I don’t think we will be throwing things at people in Open any time soon or screaming at the top of our lungs but we just may think more about how we can inject some of Nevs better ideas into the agency.

Anyone for a s*it sandwich?

What impression do you make?

 

We work with lots of local businesses across a range of sectors – not just those who are looking for PR but also suppliers who can provide us with products and services as and when we need them. Where possible we try to work locally as it makes sense to us – why go anywhere else when what you really need is on your doorstep.

And this is how we came across a very good friend and business colleague, Keith Williams. Many of the people reading this blog will already know who Keith is. As a very well networked individual and character, Keith is not shy and imparts his knowledge whenever we meet.

I was therefore intrigued when I received an email from Keith providing the following insights:

“As animals we are programmed to use all our four senses to gain a first impression. This is known to take around 10 seconds. On the telephone you rely on just one sense, hearing, to form an impression so if you take the 10 seconds and divide it by the 4 senses this gives the caller 2.5 seconds to form a favourable impression.

Once the impression has been made, research tells us, it will take a further 7 meetings or conversations before that impression is altered. If you need to form a relationship with a stranger, by telephone, you have 2.5 seconds to establish the basis for a favourable relationship.  If you fail; that contact has been lost to you.”

Now I don’t know about anyone else but I can think of a number of conversations where I have known this to be the case – not just with people I have called but those who have called me. The conversations where I close down usually involve the words ‘synergy’ and ‘can you give me the contact for’.  

So why would I be passing this information on? Well, Keith has a business called the Yes Project and he works with companies of all sizes to build relationships and put processes in place which deliver results. I guess for all intents and purpose this blog is a bit of a plug but with some good theory to back it up.

Keith is currently working with people who want to make a better first impression on the telephone. So, the question is do you believe that your telephone effectiveness is worth more than £35 to you?

 Yes?  Then email Keith at keith@keith-williams.co.uk and arrange to be part of the 60 minute workshop on securing favourable first impressions by telephone.

And if you don’t think it’s worth bothering with, just spend one day considering how many people could have secured your business, or worse how many prospects you could be working with if you took the time to consider what impression you were making EVERY time you used the phone.

The true strength of a brand

It can be difficult to sound anything but flowery when you are trying to explain to companies how important it is to build a brand, inject personality into a business and become recognised for your values.

Getting the packaging right, making sure the design stands out on shelf, ensuring the copy is drafted using the right tone of voice and building brand presence with message retention through a consistent and sustainable PR strategy are all the ‘things’ that take a something and make it a household name.

I saw a great example of how brands have got it right this week when I came across an article in Brand Republic announcing that Selfridges have created a ‘no noise’ campaign, which intends to discourage ‘information overload’.
The idea is that brands are displayed without logos or branding. The more interesting thing about this campaign is that consumers are still aware of what the products are meaning in simple terms that they are doing something very right.

It’s fair to say that not all brands can do this and of course it will work best for FMCG goods but it is an interesting concept all the same. When you get to the point where you can take away your brand and people still know who you are and what you have to offer you know that all of your marketing efforts and budgets are paying off.

Needless to say I wouldn’t recommend this become a permanent move but it’s an interesting test all the same. It would be a great ‘geeky’ game for those who work in marketing – can you guess what each item is without the brand?

Who wants to play?