Author: Fareeha Faheem

WORDS MATTER: PURPOSE-LED COMMUNICATIONS IN 2021

Brands that are continuing to survive the pandemic, are doing so with purpose-led communications. It really is that simple.

A crisis provides clarity, both in life and most definitely in business. It shines a light on what is truly important and ultimately becomes a catalyst for change. Companies that acknowledge, accept, and adapt to this type of seismic shift are those that move forward instead of being left behind.

As a result of Covid-19, and a particularly polarised political climate, 2020 was driven by purpose-led communications campaigns that resonated with changing consumer behaviour and preferences. Suddenly it was less about selling a product and more about catering to the emotional needs of customers.

Lego – #LetsBuildTogether

If you are an avid social media user like myself, then you have probably come across Lego’s #LetsBuildTogether campaign. A fantastic example of purpose-led communications, the campaign was intended to support people rather than sell products as explained by James Gregson, Director and Head of Social Studio at the company. Gregson also reinforced that the brand wanted to “practice action over perfection” while reaching people as quickly as they could.

This agile approach to the crisis supported Lego in garnering huge success across multiple digital platforms. In fact, the brand saw a 14% increase in positive mentions which reflected a surge in demand.

Learnings to apply in 2021

Brands like Lego turned uncertainty into opportunity. As opposed to pushing a sales message, they are adding value to their community and helping to alleviate people’s pain through positive messaging.

Recognising this type of marketing and understanding the vital role of purpose-led communications is crucial for any business wanting to succeed. This is further validated by Deloitte’s 2021 Global Marketing Trends which revealed the following:

  • “Almost four in five people could cite a time a brand responded positively to the pandemic and one in five strongly agreed it led to increased brand loyalty on their part.”
  • “Conversely, more than 25% of those who noticed brands acting in their own self-interest walked away from those brands.”
  • “Furthermore, fifty-eight percent of respondents could recall at least one brand that quickly pivoted to better respond to their needs, and 82% said this led to them doing more business with the brand.”

The reality is that consumers expect more from brands, especially during difficult times. It is not enough to simply sell, sell, sell. People are looking for help from brands through purpose-led communications and in return are willing to reward those that can meet their requirements with sincere advocacy.

If you would like to discuss how the team at Open Comms can help your brand through impactful and purpose driven communications, contact us here, call: 01924 862477 or follow @OpenComms_.

ARE YOU STILL UNDERESTIMATING THE POWER OF PR?

A misconstrued view of the PR industry can often prevent business leaders from recognising the breadth, depth and true effectiveness of communications. As a result, many companies still continue underestimating the power of PR and subsequently miss out on the undeniable value that it brings to a brand and its longevity. 

Though a disruptive year plagued with its own unique challenges, 2020 has taught us all some valuable lessons. The pandemic has reinforced the importance of specialised PR across the globe and has showcased how impactful communications, particularly during times of crisis, can become a lifeline.

Meaningful communications in a post COVID-19 world

As the nation continues to adjust and adapt, brands are acknowledging the changing environment and focusing their efforts on engaging in meaningful dialogue with consumers, rather than centering campaigns around overt selling.

This approach has been fundamental in influencing positive public opinion. Without doing so, companies would have faced the very real risk of losing customers. In fact, a recent report showed that 94 per cent of UK shoppers would walk away from brands if they didn’t agree with their response to COVID-19.

With such high stakes, businesses have started to witness firsthand what impact PR can have and the critical role that communications plays. While advertising campaigns were put on pause during the most part of 2020, many brands instead invested in generating new virus-related content and messaging.

As opposed to being assigned a ‘supporting role’, Public Relations was finally given center stage within marketing strategies.

Using PR to lead the way

Between the pandemic, protests, politics and the US presidential election, 2020 was a year of chaotic headlines and heartbreaking articles. Due to this, an appetite for ‘good news’ grew amongst media channels.

Reporters were constantly searching for up lifting articles to share with their readers. Brands that managed to offer a positive and genuine story, were able to secure media coverage and in turn win the trust of their consumers at a time when it was desperately needed.

Prior to the pandemic (perhaps even now), Public Relations and its significance seemed to have been generally misunderstood.

During my career, I have witnessed a myriad of myths and misconceptions about my professional field. The most absurd being that it is no longer relevant. Last year not only proved this to be completely false, but it has done the opposite and further reinforced the power of PR.

Although the industry at its core is based on traditional principles, it has continued to evolve with the times. PR is so much more than press releases. It is a much broader discipline, encompassing everything from social media to digital marketing and all in between. No longer can it be undervalued or underestimated, it is a toolkit to reach audiences and maximise success. Businesses that don’t recognise that will invariably lose out to competitors that do.

If you would like to experience the benefits of PR first-hand, get in touch with our team here. Alternatively, give us a call on 01924 862477 – we’d love to hear from you!

MAINTAINING MOMENTUM AFTER A BRAND LAUNCH

Launch

The launch of any new or reinvented brand is often accompanied with a unique opportunity to standout in the marketplace. With all eyes on your company, it’s the perfect time to create positive buzz, drive awareness and increase visibility.

Fast forward a few weeks and the interest has faded. The applauses have died down. There’s also less coverage coming through the door. Then, soon after, the realisation hits. Your brand launch is officially old news. History.

Of course, making an initial splash is great. However, your efforts and investments are likely to be wasted if a post-launch plan has not been considered. Think of it this way, in the pursuit of reaching sustainable success for your business, a brand launch is just phase one of many.

TURN MILESTONE INTO MEANINGFUL CONTENT

Once a launch is over and done with, you will be left with plenty of content to review, re-share and re-purpose. The objective here is to use what you already have in a new and different way.

A simple press release for instance can be updated so that it sits on your brands website or perhaps across social channels. There may also be several pieces of coverage that can be promoted across your company’s owned platforms.

These are just a few examples of how a launch milestone can be turned into meaningful content which prolongs the buzz among prospective customers.

TAP INTO THE EXCITMENT INTERNALLY

It’s common to find that the energy and motivation that was once there dissipates among employees after a launch. This usually boils down to one reason: a lack of clear communication internally.

Although frequently overlooked, it is just as crucial to keep employees engaged as it is customers. In fact, I would even argue that it’s more important. A team which is unenthusiastic cannot possibly inject the level of passion required to successfully and consistently drive a brand forward.

In order to prevent this from happening, it’s vital to consistently share the progress a brand makes, its achievements and wins with colleagues. By doing so, you encourage excitement and enthusiasm from within your business.

We often say that the biggest advocates are those that work for you, so factoring them into your plans is certainly worth considering.

CHOOSE PROACTIVE INSTEAD OF REACTIVE

The chance to secure media coverage very rarely comes out of the blue. More times than not, it comes as result of proactively searching for the right requests from relevant media contacts and endlessly pitching to a long list of busy journalists.

While you may have experienced an influx of emails from contacts after your brand launch, trust me it’s temporary. Don’t rely on the assumption that you will stumble upon a perfect opportunity to gain media exposure, as that may never happen. Instead efforts should be focused on proactively exploring every opportunity that could secure quality coverage.

Though a well-executed brand unveiling can lead to impressive sales and fantastic coverage, this will only last for so long without a proper post-launch plan in place.

If you have recently launched a brand or are looking to do so, get in touch with our PR team here. Alternatively, give us a call on 01924 862477 – we’d love to hear from you!

HOW PASSION TRANSLATES INTO SUCCESS

“If you don’t love what you do, you won’t do it with much conviction or passion.” -Mia Hamm

The simple truth about PR, is that it’s not easy. In fact, that’s an understatement. PR is tough. It’s extremely demanding and requires a whole host of skills, in addition to some very specific personality traits. However, this isn’t me complaining. Despite the challenges, I love my job. Like the rest of the Open team, I am passionate about what I do. It’s this passion, which ultimately translates into success for our clients.

While many agencies may claim that they have a sincere desire to help their clients, we live and breathe this. Our enthusiasm and interest goes well beyond the invoice. For us it’s not just about achieving short term objectives and quick wins, we focus on sowing the seeds for continued success too. As a result of this approach, we deliver campaigns which often exceed our clients’ expectations.

INJECTING PASSION INTO EVERY PROJECT

Bringing on a new client or starting a new campaign is always going to be exciting. However, ‘newness’ fades away, whereas passion rarely ever does. So, you can only imagine how important it is for us to inject passion into every project we take on.

As a group of people who genuinely love what they do, we naturally bring excitement and enthusiasm when it comes to the range of brands we work with. This is then reflected in the quality of the campaigns we produce. Simple. If you are not motivated and inspired by what you do, then how can you possibly do the job well?

WHY PASSION SHOULD BE A KEY CONSIDERATION FOR CLIENTS

Building a brand with so much devotion, only to partner up with a business who does not hold the same attitude and approach, simply doesn’t make sense. Especially considering the best brands are built around passion. Therefore, partnering up with a team who radiate the same sense of intensity and dedication is crucial.

Now, some may argue that ‘passion’ is only useful under the right circumstances. For me, this just isn’t true. Passion is dynamic. It can be a vital ingredient for persevering in tricky situations or it can be the driving force behind new thoughts and ideas.

Want to know more about how we deliver successful campaigns with a passion? Contact our team here or alternatively give us a call on 01924 862477, we’d be happy to hear from you.

BEING HONEST WITH CLIENTS AND WHY IT BENEFITS THEIR BUSINESS

As a business we believe that clear communication, combined with trust, forms the basis of any successful client-agency relationship. Like the saying goes, honesty is the best policy.

Being honest and upfront with our clients is and will continue to be very important for us. In fact, it’s the foundation on which our company has been built. This approach enables us to not only foster positive, long-lasting partnerships but also ensures that the client’s best interest is always kept at heart.

INITATING HONEST CONVERSATIONS

Entrusted with managing a client’s PR, it becomes our responsibility as an agency to initiate difficult conversations that shine a light on the hard truths. For example, a client may have unrealistic expectations that cannot be met due to low budget or time constraints. While the easier option would be to just agree with the clients brief and make empty promises, it is simply not the way we work here at Open Comms.

Instead, we would offer advice and alternative recommendations which align with the client’s visions but can also produce tangible results. Although not every client may respond well to honesty, it’s our way of making sure that we deliver the very best outcome possible. After all, the client’s success is ours too!

BENEFITS TO BUSINESS

A lack of honesty in any relationship can have detrimental impacts. Add business and commercial interest into the mix and the stakes just get higher!

Dishonest dialogues between a client and its agency presents obvious implications that can negatively affect organisations. Especially when it comes to PR, where one slight mistake can damage the client’s reputation. It’s due to this, that honesty must be applied in every situation, regardless of how ‘inconvenient’ it may seem sometimes.

Ultimately, by doing so the client gets a clear picture on expectations, timelines, deliverables and most importantly results.

OPEN COMMS

Going back to what I initially said, when we receive a client brief, it’s vital for us to envision the desired results. If we cannot, then we are certainly not afraid to challenge it. As experts in the field, it’s our job to do so, otherwise we are just wasting the clients time and budget, as well as our own.

If you would like to have a chat with our team of PR pro’s about a campaign brief or your business needs and requirements, why not give us a call on 01924 862477, we’d be happy to hear from you!

ARE YOU READY TO SWIPE RIGHT ON PR?

PR

Inciting a love affair with PR can seem daunting, especially if it’s your first. However, don’t give up hope too easy, Public Relations brings to the table what other industries simply can’t!

Whether you are looking for a long-term arrangement or a short fling, PR is the perfect partner to any successful business strategy. It is particularly important for matchmaking brands with the right audiences and building relationships which last.

With that being said, this blog is not about the many benefits that come with PR. It’s about helping you understand if your business is ready to fall in love with it!

Budgets

Extravagant PR stunts are often associated with large multinational brands. This can often mislead people into believing that PR is only for organisations with huge marketing budgets. Well, this is simply not the case. In fact, here at Open Comms we pride ourselves on delivering astonishing results within budget.

Simply put, PR doesn’t have to be complicated or unnecessarily expensive. Particularly, for SME’s who need to ensure every penny goes a long way, PR can be as cost-effective as you need it to be. From distributing a humble press release to doing a modest product drop, there are countless PR tactics which will deliver a strong return on investment.

Advertising

If you are already spending large amounts on advertising, then PR should be an obvious next step. After all, earned publicity (editorial) is trusted more than when it’s paid for. In fact, according to a Nielsen study, PR is 90% more effective than advertising when it comes to influencing consumers. Especially in today’s world of social media, where customers are constantly exposed to adverts, PR offers a more authentic and genuine touch.

Crisis

No one predicted a government-imposed lockdown and curfew. Yet, it still happened. Much like the Coronavirus, a corporate crisis can take place at any given time. Just because it may not have occurred up until now, doesn’t necessarily mean it never will.

While I understand that the future is unpredictable, with the help of PR you can effectively plan for the worst. This means if something was to happen, you are equipped with an efficient crisis management protocol, which can reduce or eradicate any permanent damage to the business.

Digital

Public Relations may have primarily relied on more traditional methods (many, many years ago) but the industry has since evolved. Thanks to digitalisation and the blossoming of social media, PR now encompasses new and varied tactics.

Whether your business is yet to share its story with the world, make its social media debut or gain real value from the content posted on your website, PR can offer support in more ways than you can imagine. Ultimately, the question boils down to where you deem it would be most valuable for your business?

If you would like to have a chat with our team of PR pro’s about your business needs and requirements, why not give us a call on 01924 862477, we’d be happy to hear from you!

PR

HOW BRANDS CAN DETERMINE AN INFLUENCER’S VALUE?

Influencers

For an increasing number of businesses influencers are becoming a tactic of choice. The question however, is how do you determine which are going to drive the most value for your brand?

The world of influencer marketing certainly has its appeal, but it also has its own set of risks. A major one being influencer fraud. This is where fraudulent influencers fake their followers and engagement in order to justify their overpriced fees. For many brands, this is a huge cause for concern. In fact, reports have even labelled influencer fraud as a billion-pound problem.

By recognising what’s at stake, it becomes even more apparent why brands must pick the right influencer for their campaigns. Although I must confess, this is not an easy task. Searching for the ‘perfect’ influencer requires time, effort and a LOT of research. Most importantly, you need to know what to look for!

Fortunately, after delivering many successful influencer campaigns for a variety of clients, we have honed, polished and perfected our skills in this department. So, it’s only right we share some of our insight!

influencers

High quality content does not mean high quality results

Let’s say that you have come across an amazing Instagram account. Instantly, you think that the influencer it belongs to is ideal for your brand. They may well be, however, do not be fooled by high quality content – it proves nothing.

Much like real world scammers, fraud influencers can be very deceiving. Particularly with the content they create and share online. They often present themselves in a way which attracts your attention, but the reality is that they will deliver no real results.

While it is tricky to distinguish an authentic influencer from one who has artificially inflated their social media presence, there are several red flags that you should keep an eye out for:

  1. Unusual follower-to-engagement ratio
  2. AI ‘bots’ commenting and liking their posts
  3. Sudden growth in followers
  4. If they have a blog, check its analytics
  5. Historical brand collaborations

Ultimately, the goal is to avoid partnering up with a fraudulent influencer at all costs. Not only will they be a massive waste of money, but they can also be extremely damaging to your brands reputation. Luckily, by taking the above checklist into consideration, you will be able to detect the fakes!

Going back to what I said at the start, influencer marketing is neither a quick nor simple job. It’s not a piece of activity that can be completed effectively without the required skills, experience and attention to detail. It is exactly for this reason why many of our clients trust us to carry out influencer campaigns on their behalf.

If you are thinking of incorporating influencer collaborations into your brands marketing strategy, then our team of experts will be more than happy to help! You can give us a call on 01924 862477 or contact us here.

 

FINDING THE RIGHT FIT: WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN CHOOSING AN AGENCY

Agency

When deciding on a PR agency, you may find yourself spoilt for choice. However, the reality is that not every agency will be a good fit. More importantly, ending up with the wrong one can often have detrimental impacts on your business.

With such high stakes, it’s vital that companies make the right decision when it comes to outsourcing their PR requirements. While it may seem like a daunting process, here are three steps you can take to ensure that you are teaming up with an agency that is best suited to you and your business.

Performance

Performance - agency

More often than not, PR agencies provide similar services; it’s their performance that sets them apart. Therefore, the first simple step to take is to ask to review previous work and case studies. This will help you to fully understand the agency’s true capabilities and whether they have the capacity to fulfill your requirements.

Take into consideration the following:

  • Have they worked with a similar brand before?
  • Have they taken on projects of a similar size and scale to yours?
  • Do they highlight any return on investment?
  • How do they measure success?
  • What brands have they worked with?
  • Do they have retained clients?
  • How long have they been in business?
  • Have they been recommended?

People

The importance of teamwork in PR

An agency may look perfect on paper, but it’s the people that make all the difference. Let’s say that you were hiring internally. What would be your main concerns? Ultimately, for many businesses it boils down to having employees that are qualified and can be trusted to deliver results. This very approach should be kept when outsourcing.

Early in the process of choosing a preferred PR partner, you must identify how transparent the agency and its people are. This can be done through asking the right questions, such as:

  • How do you report your results?
  • How do you deal with a project / campaign that is not going to plan?
  • How do you communicate with clients?
  • How often do you communicate with clients?
  • What happens if our objectives are not met?
  • What return on investment can you promise?

Purpose

Most agencies are built on a set of values. It’s important to recognise these, as they reveal purpose, and this is fundamental to differentiating one company from another.

Before investing in an agency, you must first understand why they exist? What are their goals and objectives as an organisation? Ultimately, being purpose-driven is a reflection of the company’s ambitions and clear desire for success. The more driven and ambitious an agency is, the more committed they are to delivering results for you!

Finding the right PR agency is not always easy, but is certainly worth all the effort when you get it right. If you’d like to discuss ways that the team at Open Comms can help in managing your brands PR strategy, contact us on info@opencomms.co.uk or call 01924 862477.

HOW VALUES RESONATE WITH CLIENTS

Values reveal purpose, define culture and support vision. Most importantly, they influence performance. Without them, a business is nothing more than an empty shell touting products or services.

When interviewing potential candidates for a job, an employer’s decision often boils down to who would be the ‘best fit’. This isn’t just based on whether a person has the right skill set, it also considers whether they reflect the organisations values.

Similarly, in the world of Public Relations, the way that clients make their choice is no different.

That being said, it shouldn’t come as a surprise why Open Comms is the chosen PR agency for some of the largest brands in the country and has been for years. Alongside an impressive track record of success, what truly makes us a great company to work with are our core values.

Openness and honesty

Suffice it to say, being open is extremely important to us. Not only is it in our name, but it’s in our company DNA too. We don’t do ‘air kissing’ and we surely don’t shy away from voicing our opinion.

We do however use our expertise to make informed decisions when it comes to clients and campaigns. If we have doubts about budgets or briefs, we are completely honest with our feedback.

At the same time, if a project is not going as planned, we aren’t afraid of revisiting the drawing board and tweaking our approach to ensure we deliver the return on investment our clients expect.

Ultimately, it’s this level of transparency that positions us as an agency that can be relied on as a trusted partner to deliver results. It is also why more than 90 per cent of our business comes from client referral.

A will to win

At Open, we exhibit a complete determination to achieving success in all aspects of our business. Particularly, when it comes to the brands we represent. Going back to our clients with no results is simply not an option. Which is why, every member of our team works to win.

However, it would be an understatement to say that we just ‘work’ for our clients. No. We’re committed to them and their goals. So much so, that our founders decided from the outset that they wouldn’t work for competing businesses. Why? Well, purely to make sure that as an agency we could dedicate our focus on meeting with the objectives of one client without any conflict of interest.

Just another one of the reasons why we choose to specialise in clients, rather than sectors. You could say our work ethic is unmatched.

Leading by example

Emma and Lindsey (our founders) have always made it a priority to integrate our company values into everything that we do. For us, they are so much more than just ‘words on a page’. In fact, they are a bedrock on which our everyday decisions are made.

Having worked at Open for well over a year now, I have witnessed first-hand how this approach is fundamental to building successful client relationships. Not only are values a great indication of how a company operates, but they play a significant role in determining workplace culture – a major point to consider when outsourcing.

An organisations culture is key to establishing behaviour among employees, which is what ultimately impacts performance. Being focused on honouring our core values, means that we are also committed to consistently performing for our clients. After all, their wins are our wins too.

If you’d like to discuss ways that the team at Open Comms can help in managing your brands PR strategy, contact us on info@opencomms.co.uk or call 01924 862477.

 

 

THE POWER OF THE HUMBLE PRESS RELEASE

Press Release

There simply isn’t a business or brand out there that cannot benefit from the power of a humble press release.

It goes without saying that the world of Public Relations is constantly evolving. As a result, us PR pros have an ever-expanding tool kit to choose from when implementing client campaigns.

However, despite the many tactics on hand, the traditional press release continues to hold its position as the number one way of securing media coverage. If that’s not an indication of its true potential, then I don’t know what is!

Although a staple of our industry, to the unknowing eye, a press release may seem like an outdated way for brands to communicate with consumers. Especially in the glorious age of social media.

Well, take it from our clients. Those who have featured on the likes of BBC news, ITV and the Daily Mail – this is completely false. In fact, landing news coverage has many more advantages than you may think.

SEO benefits from a Press Release

The primary purpose of a press release is to get your brands message in the pages of media outlets. Often, these publications have websites which rank very high on search engines such as Google.

As you can imagine, having your brands news published on such sites is often extremely beneficial for marketing purposes, but it also helps with SEO.

Following the distribution of a press release, a popular and authoritative site may publish your news. It may also include a link to your website – these are called backlinks. Backlinks are fundamental to SEO. The more backlinks you generate, the more authority Google awards your website. Which is what ultimately improves your ranking on the search engine.

With that being said, generating backlinks is certainly not an easy task. For a brand to be featured on credible media outlets, it’s vital that the press release shared is of value and deemed newsworthy by the journalists who receive it.

Press releases are not owned media. This would mean that you share the copy and it is relayed in exactly the same format. In contrast, content supplied as a release is earned. This gives a journalist the opportunity to use it or the freedom to discard it.

With coverage comes credibility

As Jean-Louis Gassée once said: 

“Advertising is saying you’re good. PR is getting someone else to say you’re good.”

Yes, it’s great that we have access to social media and can shout about how great we are on our own platforms. However true value comes from other people saying the same.

Ultimately, it’s what gives a brand credibility, particularly in an age where consumers make purchase decisions based on reviews and what others are saying about a brand and their experience with it.

Consistent Brand Visibility  

A press release offers a simple way to consistently maintain brand visibility within the media. The launch of a new product, an event, an award or a new recruit, are all examples of newsworthy stories.

To harness the power of a press release, it’s important to first identify opportunities where there is potential to secure news coverage. By doing so you can build a PR program which ensures your brand is given constant exposure all year round.

Reaching a larger audience

With the help of a press release, brands can connect with an ever-widening audience. You see, having your news published on media outlets, whether that’s in print, online or even across social channels often reaches consumers that you otherwise may not. Not only does this mean increased brand visibility and awareness, but it is often a way in which many businesses grow.

If you’d like to discuss ways that the team at Open Comms can help in managing your brands PR strategy, contact us on info@opencomms.co.uk or call 01924 862477.