Tag: writing

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

Putting pen to paper

There have been a number of news articles recently about the launch of campaigns which are encouraging children to write. I remember when I was at school I found it really difficult to read out loud in class but loved to write my own stories down – one teacher claiming it was because I had an over active imagination but I prefer to think of it as my creative spark coming through at an early age!

I think that there should be more campaigns encouraging children to create their own short stories. Chris Evans has recently launched the Radio 2, 500 words competition which is a fantastic concept and with celebrities including Richard Hammond and Jacqueline Wilson involved, it is all the more exciting for those who enter.

I can’t help thinking that it’s a shame that many of these stories will be written on a computer. I have nothing against technology but think there is something extra special about a handwritten story drafted and illustrated by a child. Something you can put up on your fridge or keep in a scrap book forever.

When we were little and the weather was terrible our Mum used to put us on the kitchen table with pens, pencils, paints and coloured paper and tell us to come up with stories that we could then illustrate. More often than not I would sit for hours thinking about the plot and what would happen before carefully decorating my masterpiece with first class imagery (more of a mess but I thought I was the next Tony Heart in those days!).

Since the huge success of JK Rowling with her Harry Potter books and EL James with 50 Shades of Grey there has certainly been a notable increase in the number of adults wanting to turn to literacy and write books. I’m not sure if it’s an age thing and that people get to the point where they want to do something different and writing seems like a viable option or if it’s suddenly seen as the next best thing to a lottery ticket.

Either way I think it’s great that people are using their imaginations to bring their own tales to life on paper and I do wonder whether it matters if your stories are published or just for your own amusement.

I remember once reading about a young girl who had been tragically killed in a car accident. When her mother was clearing out her things she came across a book of poems she didn’t know she had. All of them had been hand written by the young girl. Needless to say the book became a priceless treasure and the poems by all accounts were excellent if not heart wrenching under the circumstances.

I would never say never when it comes to considering writing a book but am very aware of the time and commitment it would take, as well as the skill that would be required to write a novel that people would want to read, which is kind of the point if you want to be a best seller!

Nope, I think I’ll leave it to the professionals for now but I will definitely be tuning in and listening to those written by the children who enter the 500 word competition. I’m sure they will put any ideas that I have had to shame. You never know there may even be the next best seller amongst them.