Author: Katie Coxall

SPINNING PLATES: THE IMPORTANCE OF MULTITASKING IN PR

PR is an incredibly exciting profession to be a part of. Each day is different and there is never time to get bored. With news angles changing by the hour, the industry is relentlessly fast paced. Add to this the fact that we have a portfolio of clients spanning multiple sectors, we must remain constantly alert. All of this while simultaneously managing numerous campaigns and social media platforms. It’s no wonder that working in PR is frequently likened to ‘spinning plates’.

If you feel a little out of breath already, you’re not alone! But, with some careful preparation and a lot of practise, the pace of PR becomes second nature. All while remaining as exhilarating as ever.

Plan, schedule and adapt

Keeping on top of each of these elements requires a lot of planning, so being prepared in this profession is a must. Only by creating robust schedules is it possible to consistently deliver all that is needed for our clients.

That’s not to say that there aren’t unexpected things to deal with too. In fact, much of our work involves little notice and short deadlines. Unfortunately, the news agenda waits for no one. If we want our clients to be on the correct side of it, being responsive and adaptable is vital.

Love to learn and learn to succeed

A love of learning is essential in PR, especially if you work agency side. Not only is it necessary to build on your understanding of the industry, but with each new client there are further opportunities to grow.

Devising social media and content marketing schedules for brands, PR has quickly become the profession responsible for subject matter experts and thought leadership. This means we need to be well versed in topics that we may never previously have imagined.

Being adaptable and willing to learn is a must for anyone wanting a career in PR.

Review, revise and thrive

Just when you think a task has been ticked off your ever-expanding list – think again!

To uphold the highest standards, approval processes are stringent. At Open Comms, regardless of seniority within the company, nothing leaves the building without having been seen by another set of eyes.

Each piece of content is then sent to the client for further approval. While this usually hits the mark, we are always open to revisions. After all, we want everything that we produce to be as close to perfect as possible. That way, our clients receive only the very best from us.

With feedback coming thick and fast, resilience is a really important quality for anyone working in the industry. Each client has their own style, so being able to adapt and respond to the needs of different personalities is certainly a skill worth having.

If you’d like to hear more about our spinning plates and juggling tendencies, or are interested in hearing more about the serious side of Open Comms (although we do find that a little giggle from time to time goes a long way) – visit the ‘what we do‘ page, give us a call on 01924 862477 or contact a member of the team on info@opencomms.co.uk.

REDIRECTING BUDGETS TO PR FOR SUSTAINABLE RESULTS

For many of us, it is human nature to invest in those areas that reap immediate rewards. Depending upon a business’ objectives and the tactics being used, PR isn’t always one of those things. This can lead companies to allocate their budgets elsewhere. However, with a little time, patience and expertise, the benefits achieved through a sustained programme of activity, can elevate an organisation to levels which far outweigh financial spend.

That’s not to say that PR isn’t a specialism with the potential to provide results quickly. Campaigns are a great example of how tangible outcomes can be achieved within a relatively short period of time. However, to deliver sustainable results which benefit the long-term success of a business, PR should be considered an investment for the long-haul.

The true power of PR

Some consider it to be a ‘dark art’, but this is based on outdated perceptions. Actually, put quite simply, public relations does what it says on the tin. It helps a company relate to the public, forming an important interface between an organisation and its customers, employees and stakeholders.

It allows a business to share whatever it needs to say, in a way which is authentic to the organisation. These communications are managed, from start to finish, by specialists who know how to craft a message in a way which will appeal to each unique audience.

The best channels through which to share news are carefully considered, and timed, so that developments are received positively – both by the media, and by the intended audience. Ultimately, PR professionals increase awareness while managing the reputation of a business. This allows brands to reach new levels of love and a position where they can be considered ‘well-known’.

A team that can be relied upon

A good PR agency will become an extension of their client’s teams. A service that can be relied upon during times of uncertainty, and a sounding board for trusted advice and guidance.

Most businesses will endure a crisis at some point during their journey. Depending on the nature of the industry, some will weather a number. However, having a reliable PR team on board, who already know the company and its systems and processes, really can be the difference between a make or break scenario.

The truth is that when a crisis hits, it can often be the first time that a company has considered PR. If you do not have a team in place, it is most certainly a wise move. However, getting to know a brand-new agency, sharing the ins and outs of your business, its culture and the crisis itself can be a time-consuming process. All at a time when moving cautiously but quickly would be the best plan of action. Food for thought which comes that little bit too late for some.

A wise investment

If PR is something that you’ve been considering, chatting this through could be a great way to determine whether it is the right route for your business.

As an agency, we would never take on a client if we didn’t genuinely believe that we were right for you. Our passion and enjoyment comes from securing results, so we firmly believe in being honest and upfront about what we can offer.

For most organisations, PR is a wise investment. In fact, I’d go as far as saying it could, quite possibly, be the best investment your business will ever make.

If you’re interested to learn more, have a glance at our ‘what we do’ page. Read a little more about our team.  Or hear about a few of our clients, past and present, on the ‘work’ page. Or simply give us a call on 01924 862477 – we love to chat!

ALIGNING TONE OF VOICE WITH BRAND PERSONALITY

We all have our own range of quirks which make us unique. These traits mark us as distinctly different to others. And, often, they’re what our family and friends love the most about us. Brands are no different. In order to stand out from the crowd and build up an affinity with consumers, it’s vital that a business is more than just the products that it sells – but a personality in its own right.

An important part of what differentiates each of our personalities is the way that we communicate. This includes the vocabulary that we choose to use. Without being consciously aware of it, we all have a mix of words and phrases which others associate with us. This combination of what we say and how we say it gives us our own, unique tone of voice.

The building blocks of brand personality

Leveraging this concept is one of the most important steps in building a relatable brand personality. After all, while a business can exist without a recognisable brand, it makes life far more difficult than it needs to be.

These days, where there are more businesses, there is increased competition and less consumer loyalty. ‘Deals’ are commonplace, and people switch far more frequently in search of a bargain. Therefore, more often than not, people need an additional reason to choose you over your competitors. This is where personality and tone of voice comes in to play.

If your brand was a person, who would it be?

It can seem more than a little daunting figuring out exactly ‘who’ your brand is. But assigning human characteristics is a great place to start and will really help in the process of figuring out exactly how you’d like to communicate with your customers.

Importantly, remember to remain authentic. The personality behind the brand needs to be an extension of the values of your business. Perhaps you’re a recruitment business with a ‘work hard, play hard’ culture, this should be reflected in what you say and how you say it.

It may be that you’re a toy manufacturer, in which case fun and playful would be top of your list. Maybe, as part of the healthcare sector, your personality is kind and compassionate – this can be showcased in the way that you communicate and the language you use.

Putting it all into words

Once you’ve established what your brand personality is all about, it’s time to put it into words. A favourite past time of ours, as we’re sure you can imagine!

It’s time to think about what you’ll say and how you’ll go about saying it. Mapping out the vocabulary that is, and isn’t, to be used is a must. Remember to adjust tone of voice when needed. As a modern female fashion brand, ‘hun’ might be a frequent greeting but it could just be the thing that pushes a complaining customer to boiling point – so beware!

Similarly, while social media and email marketing is a fantastic place to unleash this newly established personality and tone of voice, tweaks will be needed in other areas. One size doesn’t fit all, and what works in consumer facing communications, won’t necessarily translate so well to a corporate press release, for example.

We love nothing more than to help brands to build and share their personality with their customers, their colleagues and the media. If you’d like to chat to us about the next steps in your brand building journey, and what else you can expect from PR, call a member of the team on 01924 862477 or email us at info@opencomms.co.uk – we’d love to hear from you!

SPECIALISING IN CLIENTS RATHER THAN SECTORS

You’ll often find that PR agencies specialise in a particular sector. At Open Comms we take a slightly different approach. We believe that there’s a bigger picture. So, rather than viewing PR requirements as dictated by industry, we take a more client-focused view. We create bespoke packages that deliver against each brand’s objectives.

But don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that we don’t have the experience to deliver. Sometimes we find the assumption is that agencies that specialise could do a better job but that is not always the case.

When receiving a brief, we treat every client the same; we are honest about whether we can do the very best job or not. After all, delivering fantastic results is what we pride ourselves on, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

The bigger picture

When working with clients from a single sector, it would be quite easy to ‘roll out’ a PR package which works, time and time again. We would deliver excellent results. Our client would be happy. And the objectives would be achieved. All with minimal effort.

…So, what’s not to like about that?

Well, by diversifying our offering and working with clients across multiple sectors, we have to put in some extra ‘elbow grease’ and that keeps our job exciting. Since our launch we’ve made this our mission. We’ve gathered a huge amount of experience over the years along with contacts and extra creative ideas too.

Rather than taking a narrow view of what ‘should be done’, we can help companies to stand out from the crowd. After all, there aren’t many brands with a grand ambition to be exactly the same as their competitors. They want to be unique and make a name for themselves in their own right – and rightly so too!

Keeping one eye on the competition

For those agencies which operate solely within one sector, it stands to reason that they are likely to be representing competing brands. Now, it might just be us, but that’s not something that we’d want to see from a team who is handling everything from our top-secret new products, to reputational crises!

Here at Open Comms we have a strict policy of never working with competing businesses – offering that extra, much needed peace of mind and the assurance that we always have our client’s best interests at heart. No conflicts of interest here!

Putting clients front and centre

Each of our client’s PR packages are tailored to suit them, prioritising the elements which are of particular importance.

For some, we deliver a basic press office function. For others quirky and creative consumer campaigns. In some instances, corporate comms will be top priority. While, for others, trade PR is a particular area of focus. Most commonly, however, our clients choose a mix of tactics, which work together to achieve each brand’s unique objectives.

With a mix of skilled PR professionals, all with a varied range of experiences, we’re lucky enough to be able to match our team members with the clients that they work with. This ensures that we have all of the attributes to take your business to the next level.

Drop us an email at info@opencomms.co.uk or give us a call on 01924 862477. We’d love to have a chat and see how we can help you take your business to the next level.

THE MANY TALENTS THAT MAKE UP AN EFFECTIVE PR AGENCY

As with many industries, when you work in PR you come to expect that people will have some preconceived ideas. Stereotypes have been developed over the years, not helped by characters in popular TV programmes.

Assumptions are made about the ‘type’ of people who work in the profession. In some organisations, this may be a true reflection of the workforce. However, here at Open Comms, we believe that to be truly effective an agency needs diversity, in every sense of the word.

Nurturing Creativity

Bringing together a blend of genders, ages, personalities and experiences allows for a PR business to be more creative. A vital component when creating any strategic plan or campaign.

What’s more, working across a range of industries, this variety of thoughts and approaches is essential when we are constantly looking at new and more innovative ideas for clients.

Using our collective skills means we can offer each organisation a bespoke service that encompasses creative elements tailored especially to them.

The team here loves nothing more than to take an hour out to brainstorm and let our ideas run wild. It’s amazing to see the knowledge, experience and preferences of the team come to life during the campaign planning process.

However, the icing on the cake is when the plan comes together. This is what we enjoy most; sharing excellent results and a job well done for our clients.

Staying on Top of the Latest Trends

Our many differences influence the way that we perceive changes in the wider world. As a team of PR professionals, we naturally take an interest in trends. After all, it is an important part of our job. However, that’s not to say that we don’t all have our antennas tuned to the products, services and brands that appeal to each of us the most.

A resident shopaholic, for example, is more likely to know about the latest designers, prints and fashions; while a budding chef will probably have a keener take on how taste buds and food preferences are changing.

The more tech savvy among us can keep track of the latest social media software and the tools that help our client’s platforms stand out from the crowd. Whereas a more ethically conscious personality may be more in touch with social movements, and the changing sentiment around environmental issues.

Fostering Strong Working Relationships

One size doesn’t fit all, and an agency with a lack of diversity is likely to have a hard time branching out in the PR business.

Our clients come from all backgrounds, with different target markets and product offerings. With a diverse team in place, we can match personalities and expertise with clients – leading to exceptional working relationships.

Not only does this make life easier all round, but it makes for strong bonds and a friendly, personal approach. Ultimately, this helps us work less like an external agency, and more like an extension of each team.

Empathy and Sensitivity

Some personalities are a little more robust, taking a tougher stance on certain issues. While others are gentler, picking up on sensitivities which may pass the average person by. Then we have those in the middle, the ones who strive to see both sides of every scenario.

In a crisis, this blend of personalities is a fantastic asset and one which is very much valued within our business. After all, for most organisations, facing a PR crisis will be one of the most testing times in its history. Without a team who can be trusted to consider all angles, it can quite easily become a very tricky situation to navigate.

However, having built up a long-term relationship with a PR agency that understands a brand and business, a company can be confident that its reputation and future is in safe hands.

Experience and Guidance

Our team members come with a whole host of experiences, which contributes to the unique approach that Open Comms delivers.

Some of us have been working in the industry for more than 20 years, while others are taking their first steps into the world of PR.

We’re particularly proud of our supportive approach, which sees the team learn from one-another. What remains at the forefront is that we all have something different to share, whether starting out or with a career spanning more than two decades.

Whether it’s our resident (former) journalist; the social media savvy among us or our Masters-level linguist, making the time to learn from one another’s experiences is an opportunity not to be overlooked.

Find out a little more about our team here. Alternatively, pick up the phone and give us a call on 01924 862477 – we’d love to chat.

VIRTUAL INFLUENCERS: CREEPY OR CUTTING-EDGE?

With newspaper and magazine sales dwindling year on year, more consumers are taking to the internet for their daily fix of news and views.

Along with online news platforms, blogs have become a popular source of inspiration. As a result, many brands now work with bloggers and influencers. This gives companies the chance to tap into the appeal that these individuals have among their followers and subsequently spread the word about the latest launch.

As the world continues to become increasingly automated, virtual influencers are tipped to be the next top trend. With high-profile brands already utilising these avatar-like personas, could this signal the future of influencer marketing?

Creepy or cutting-edge

I must admit that initially, there was something slightly unsettling about the whole concept. Particularly our desires being manipulated by a fictional character. However, the more I thought about it, this is already closer to the current ‘reality’ than we may have realised.

Reality television continues to provide some of the most successful influencers. Yet, it’s common knowledge that these shows are often scripted. Therefore, the person that we think we’re emulating is a character, constructed by someone else entirely.

Likewise, any online persona is crafted to present a positive impression.

A personal connection

Arguably, we enjoy these platforms due to the more personal angle that they offer. This begs the question: can virtual influencers ever truly resonate with consumers?

The Drum explores this in further detail, asking whether fictional characters have the same ability as humans to forge real connections with an audience.

In my opinion, as consumers become increasingly technologically aware, virtual influencers are likely to be accepted as the next logical step. However, I believe that there will be limitations.

‘Real life’ influencers have the right to share the more personal, sometimes emotional stories and experiences. This is where I believe these constructed personalities may overstep the mark.

Echoing the thoughts shared in the article, I have concerns about virtual influencers delving into very real experiences such as sexual assault. This could be seen to trivialise serious issues, which should not be belittled in the name of marketing.

Do virtual influencers represent the future of influencer marketing?

I believe that virtual influencers have their place and I can see them becoming successful. However, I imagine their sphere of influence being more limited than that of their real-life counterparts.

I look forward to seeing how this one plays out as brands jump on this latest trend. For more tips on how to pick the right influencer for your brand, read Fareeha’s blog here.

PLANNING A PR CAMPAIGN THAT RESONATES WITH MULTIPLE AUDIENCES

Having put budget behind a consumer-focused campaign, it’s natural to want to maximise that investment. Planning a PR campaign that reaches as many of your target audience as possible is a great way to do this, often making for very impressive results!

 

Imagine, for example, that your product is a toy which appeals to 5-7-year olds. Not only would you want to showcase the toy to children in that age group, but it is also important that you target the parent as well. After all, they’re the ones with the spending power.

 

In addition, grandparents are known to be rather generous. Particularly when it comes to Christmas and birthday presents. Therefore, it would be wise to ensure that they are aware of your product too.

 

So, how do you appeal to all three groups, but still remain ‘on-message’ throughout a consumer PR campaign?

 

1. Begin with clear messaging

Outlining your key messages at the very start is invaluable. A robust planning process creates an invaluable guideline for any future decisions on content.

 

A brainstorm is a great way to get ideas flowing. Some vital talking points include:

  • Keywords to describe the product – bright, fun, tactile, soft, unique, adorable, cool
  • How does this toy make people feel – is it a comforting item, does it make a child feel grown up, is it designed to make them laugh, does it bring joy?
  • What is its purpose – is it just for fun, does it have an educational element?

 

You will then need to refine these ideas, selecting the words and phrases that resonate most strongly with the item. With your choices made, these key messages become the starting point for content creation.

 

Though the tone of the content will change dependent upon its intended audience, your key messages will remain consistent. This will ensure that each piece complements one another and, most importantly, becomes part of a unified campaign.

 

2. Utilise different tactics

Once your key messages have been agreed, you can begin to think about the tactics that will be used to increase awareness of your product.

 

This is one of the clear benefits to investing in PR; there are several tactics that can be considered and used, including:

 

  • Press drops

Once you’ve established your media targets and contacts, engage them with a press drop.

 

This could be a simple box containing the product and press release or it could be something more interactive. Creating a drop that is visually appealing will really make your delivery stand out from the many others which are bound to land on the journalist’s desk that day.

 

  • Influencer engagement

Bloggers and influencers are becoming an ever more valuable resource when it comes to spreading the word about new products.

 

Making contact with those who are relevant to your product and target audience can have far-reaching benefits for your campaign.

 

Find out more about how to choose the right influencer for your brand here.

 

  • Competitions

Offer people a chance to win! Better still, engineer the competition so that it spreads the word about your product.

 

Organising a social media giveaway, either on your own social platforms or on those of a relevant and credible partner, is a fantastic way to create noise around your offering.

 

As part of the entry process, ask that your post is liked or shared. Perhaps even incorporate a relevant hashtag to increase awareness of your product or brand. If your toy becomes in demand, you’ll likely spread the message about your item while increasing your brand’s social media following at the same time.

 

One watch-out however is to ensure that you are putting in place the correct governance and that anything that is gifted is mentioned within any post that is shared. If this doesn’t happen, you can end up in some very hot water!

 

  • Events

Dependent on the item, hosting an event which invites people to engage with your item can be a fantastic tactic when it comes to increasing awareness and love for your product.

 

In this case, creating a small area where children are free to come and explore the toy itself, is sure to have them tugging at their parents’ sleeves requesting that your product features on their next Christmas or birthday list!

 

However, a word of warning – events which deliver a quality experience can be a rather expensive commitment and should be costed before any commitment is made.

 

3. Maximise social channels

In this case, taking a single channel approach is unlikely to yield the remarkable results that you are expecting. Nor will churning out the same content across each platform.

Instead, do your research. Carefully look into each platform. Consider the typical age demographic, then craft and distribute your content accordingly.

After all, what appeals to a 7-year-old, may not resonate quite so well with a 60-year-old.

 

4. YouTube

These days, YouTube is a staple in the homes of most school-aged children. As a result, the famous ‘un-boxing’ videos are an effective way of sharing the excitement that comes with the latest ‘must-have’ toys with children and their parents.

 

Summary

There’s no doubt that planning a PR campaign takes a lot of work, which is why it’s most definitely a job best entrusted to the professionals.

Learn a little more about what we do here at Open Comms here. If you’d like to discuss an upcoming campaign, simply give us a call on 01924 862477.

NEW YEAR, NEW PERSPECTIVE AND A BRAND-NEW YOU

It’s a brand-new year and the possibilities are endless. The perfect opportunity to put pen to paper and note down any New Year’s resolutions which will make the next twelve months better than the last.

However, while the arrival of a new decade may be positive for some, it can be infinitely challenging for others.

Whichever scenario describes your 2019, here’s a little positivity to begin 2020 which could, quite possibly, be your best year yet!

Perfection is a myth

There’s no denying that each year presents plenty of reason to celebrate. But, with success comes moments of difficulty, feelings of failure and, perhaps, some memories that we’d really rather forget.

No matter what social media tells us, the ‘perfect’ life rarely exists. There are some moments that are undeniably sad, and it’s these times that can have us questioning what we did wrong?

In the most part, a happy life is merely a matter of perspective. Take the time to cherish the positives and celebrate achievements, however small. Only with the right mindset will positivity be able to prevail.

Don’t be a stranger

Following a period which is traditionally spent surrounded by friends and family, a New Year can be an extremely lonely time for some.

Family fallouts are all too common and, I’m sure, a regret that weighs heavily on people’s hearts. It’s never too late to try and bury the hatchet.

If friends and family are not around, take a positive step to meet others. There are many groups, coffee mornings or sports clubs which can be a fantastic way to establish friendships.

Understand your value

Some people are simply more considerate than others. It’s a hard fact that can be difficult to accept and a source of much upset.

However, moving on from situations that are detrimental to your happiness is important. After all, many of us have come to realise that life really is too short.

Give a little kindness

Kindness costs nothing, so give it freely – not only to others, but also to yourself.

It’s amazing what impact a thoughtful comment, offer of support or small gesture can have on someone else’s life.

New Year, new you

In this time of endless opportunity, relish the chance to be the author of your latest chapter in the whirlwind that is life. Setting realistic expectations while also challenging yourself will give you balance. There is no point in creating an unachievable list of tasks from the get-go.

Split your hopes and dreams into sub-categories and spend a little time each month pushing yourself closer to where you want to be. Taking steps forward is more positive than standing still.

For a few more tips on making 2020 a year of progress, read Open Communications PR Account Executive, Nick Hill’s latest blog here.