Author: Lindsey Davies


Blogging for business

As a writer, I get a real sense of satisfaction from blogging for business. It’s a platform that I can use to share my thoughts and opinions. Like anything, writing is subjective and my passion for it isn’t always shared. For some, blogging for business is exciting – until they get bored.

I remember a time when it was rare for a business to have a blog. A website, absolutely, but there was a lack of understanding about what benefits regular updates could bring to an audience. After all, companies spent months on copy for their websites, so what more was there to say?

Times have changed, and most organisations will have a blog. That said, many forget to put the time and attention into establishing a tone of voice that will resonate with the audiences they want to attract. As a result, they don’t appreciate the value of blogging for business.

In this blog I hope to encourage readers to avoid the boredom of blogging for business by thinking differently and putting some simple processes into place.

Communities not just content

Blogging for business is about building communities. There should be a focus on sharing content that is interesting and insightful. Businesses need to think carefully about what their customers want to read and how they can be made to feel special.

It may be that a company shares the launch of a product on a blog before it is announced anywhere else. Social media channels could be used to tease the news and drive traffic to the website to amplify the message.

Alternatively, other organisations may want to use a blog to provide updates for stakeholders such as share price or investments. The news that is shared doesn’t have to be consumer focused, it could be very much about the business and its bottom line.

The wonderful thing about blogging is that you can share whatever you choose. The content is for you to decide, to draft and to upload. The difference between a good blog and a bad is that one will be written for the audience and the other for the company chairman.

It’s important not to fall into the trap of writing for an internal audience or for niche stakeholder group. There are other ways that you can communicate with these people. Put in place a clear objective for the blog and a target audience and stick to it.

Taking blogging for business seriously

Having a clear understanding of what will be shared on a blog will guide the content strategy. For a blog to be successful it needs to be taken seriously. This means that it needs the support of the board of directors.

It is no use passing a blog to a junior member of the team and leaving them to it. Not only will that person be responsible for writing all of the content, posting it and managing responses, but they will also need to collate the information in the first place.

This will rely on them having access to senior members of the team.

Blogging for business is a marketing tactic. It should be managed and coordinated by the sales and marketing function of an organisation. As a direct method of communicating with customers and prospects, it should be taken seriously.

Setting the tone

Once a company has agreed what information will be shared on a blog; whether that be product launches, category insight, industry comments or simply just news, a tone needs to be agreed.

It isn’t always as simple as to agree an approach and to stick with it. If a blog is to be used as an online magazine for a business, then the way that you draft the content will change. Taking into account articles will come from different sources, it would be unrealistic to assume everyone would speak in the same way.

As such, it makes sense to agree priority messaging, consistency in terms of language and then to add some personality. The last thing you want to do is to lose the story through overcomplicating the copy.

Blogs and the bottom line

Good blogs can attract an audience, capture attention and retain interest. Bad blogs will do the exact opposite. Just like all marketing communications, the opportunities that blogging for business presents to a company should not be underestimated.

With the right amount of time, care, attention and investment a blog could have a direct impact on the bottom line. In fact, entire businesses have been based on blogging and there is now an industry of influencers that are only too aware of the commercial benefits they can bring.

It all goes back to a point I made earlier. Blogging for business has to be taken seriously by the senior management team if it is going to deliver the results you expect.

Setting standards and sticking to them  

The simplest way to ensure that blogging for business delivers a return on investment is to set standards. Putting KPIs in place in relation to visitor traffic, dwell time and bounce rates will give the evidence of whether the content being shared is having the desired impact.

Testing and measuring new features – perhaps a day in the life – will showcase what the audience wants to see. Anything that shows a drop in analytics should be reconsidered or adjusted to make sure it is relevant and resonates.

Sharing not selling

I’ve yet to meet anyone that likes to be sold to. In order to keep the content of a business blog interesting, the focus needs to be on sharing. This could be sharing stories, sharing facts and figures, sharing product information or behind the scenes footage from a factory.

Whatever it happens to be, make sure the posts that are being uploaded have a value to the reader, even if that is purely interest.

Of course, blogging for business is a promotional tool and can be harmlessly used as such. For example, offering coupons or codes for money off. There is no problem with offering prospective customers an incentive, but make sure that it is interspersed with other posts. Blogging for business should always be about more than just another space to sell.

Don’t get bored of blogging for business   

When something is shiny and new it always attracts the most attention. Fast forward a few months and it’s just another piece of furniture in the office. Blogging can be the same. At first everyone wants five minutes of fame and to share their story. Over time this will change. People have less time to allocate and bigger priorities. It’s up to those that manage business blogs to retain interest.

What is great about blogs is that they can change and evolve. They don’t have to stay exactly the same and they can become a space to have fun.

Rather than getting bogged down in the detail, think of a business blog as a newspaper. Put together regular columns and updates from different members of the team. Test and review products or services and provide updates and feedback.

Use blogs for business as a way to add personality that you cannot anywhere else. Once you start to build a community, to interact with people and to attract the attention you want and deserve, you will come to realise the benefits of blogging for business.

Top tips when blogging for business

When starting a blog for business or reviewing the content strategy that you have in place for your online communications, remember to cover the following points:

  1. You are creating communities not just content. Don’t write for you, write for the reader and you will get more engagement and repeat visits.
  2. Make sure you have the support of the senior team before you start. Don’t waste time on something that will become dormant in a matter of months. Put your ideas on the table and get the team excited about the benefits blogging can bring to business.
  3. Take the time to get the tone of voice right for your blog. This doesn’t have to be rigid but sharing consistent messaging and language will stop you from confusing the reader.
  4. Remember that blogs can have a positive impact on the bottom line, but they take time and that means money. Be realistic about what can be achieved and put measures in place.
  5. Set standards that will ensure your content is well written, credible and reflective of the business. Don’t be persuaded to rush a blog or to share content you know is not up to scratch.
  6. The content you post should be about sharing not selling. Don’t fall into the trap of constantly pushing your message to people. Engage and encourage them to join your community.
  7. Don’t get bored of business blogging. Make it exciting, keep it fresh and have some fun. Some of the best content comes from the most surprising of businesses, make sure that you are one of them.

Calling on the professionals

As an agency we work with many clients that have business blogs. As well as managing the press office and social media channels, in many cases we will draft and upload the copy for their blogs too. Every organisation we work with is different, but to provide one example, we have been working alongside the YM to create a series of lockdown stories which have attracted a lot of attention.

Rather than use the blog to sell to others in the business community, the YM has created a space that shares insight, support and camaraderie during some of the most difficult times. It is a great example of best practice when it comes to blogging for business.

If you’d like to discuss ways that the team at Open Comms can help to raise the profile of your brand, manage the reputation of your business and support with your content strategy throughout 2021, contact us on, call: 01924 862477 or follow @OpenComms_.


Prioritising PR during 2021

While it’s fair to suggest that this year hasn’t quite got off to the best start, there are still plenty of reasons why prioritising PR during 2021 could be the best decision you make.

Companies of all sizes have recognised the benefits that PR can bring; not least profile, recognition, an opportunity to become more relatable to your audiences and importantly, an increase to the bottom line.

With a toolkit of tactics at our disposal, we can tailor an approach for each business we work with. There is no one-size-fits-all and that means that every campaign is bespoke.

Setting objectives

Like any cost to a business, you want to be able to measure the return on investment. We appreciate that PR is no different. That’s why we work with brands to set out clear objectives. This means that every action will have an impact.

The idea being that our resource is allocated to the right activities; those that will deliver the greatest value.

For smaller organisations and those that are wanting to scale-up, it is often about raising the profile of a brand to a specific audience or to engage in new and interesting ways. Larger organisations may be even more targeted or have a product launch or campaign in mind.

Whatever the objectives, we will create a programme of activity to deliver the results that you need.

Choosing the right tactics

It’s a myth to suggest that all PR tactics work for all businesses, they don’t. The beauty about PR is that we can choose the right approach and then adapt as the programme of activity evolves over time.

As a brand builds, things will change. The focus for a company doesn’t always stay the same. We can adapt, adopt and deliver depending on what those changing circumstances are. Better still, it doesn’t take months to implement new ways of working, it’s more like a matter of days.

All we need to do is to discuss, plan and action.

Just some of the tactics we use for our clients are:

  • Press office (drafting and distributing press materials to publications online and in print)
  • Drafting content to be shared online
  • Thought leadership articles for media and online
  • Competitions in consumer publications
  • Features in trade media
  • Copy writing for brochures and marketing materials
  • Social media posts
  • Campaign planning and recommendations

The list could go on, but from the above you can see how we can tailor a programme of activity to suit the needs of any business.

Securing headlines

There has been an increasing interest in traditional PR over recent years. Brands still recognise the value in securing headlines for the right reasons. As storytellers this is where our skills are often expected to lie.

Writing good quality copy that is intended for newspapers and magazines is a big part of what we do. Securing earned coverage is where brands can take their share of voice and educate the market about the products and services that they have to offer.

Putting in place a dedicated press office will ensure that a business features regularly in the publications that matter most. It may be regional media, national, trade or consumer. It may even be a mix of them all.

We have been delivering press office to brands of all sizes for more than 12 years and it is still a great way for a business to share its story and to resonate with current and prospective customers.

Reaching audiences online

Although we don’t manage paid for advertising, we do create social schedules and deliver campaigns for our clients online. Whatever the platform (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn) we will develop content that is fit for purpose.

It’s not about sharing one post across all platforms; every social channel is different. We make sure that the posts we create will encourage most engagement and become part of a wider strategy of activity.

Using LinkedIn for talent acquisition, Facebook for community engagement, Instagram for wider outreach and Twitter for amplification, there is always a purpose behind everything we do. Again, it’s about taking a bespoke approach that meets with objectives.

Prioritising PR for 2021

For those companies that want to look forward rather than backwards, those that want to turn plans into action and to make a positive difference to their business, consider how prioritising PR for 2021 could support your ambitions.

PR is an investment but it’s also a specialism that delivers great value. Don’t be left behind while your competitors take the charge. Consumers are still spending, organisations are still growing and there is a lot to celebrate.

If you’d like to discuss ways that the team at Open Comms can help to raise the profile of your brand and manage the reputation of your business throughout 2021, contact us on, call: 01924 862477 or follow @OpenComms_.


Christmas advert from Lidl

Even after the year we have all had, there is still something extra sparkly about Christmas. The tingle in your tummy as you think about the brief moments we will spend in our bubbles and how even with restrictions, we can all make the most of some much-deserved time off.

For those working in marketing, it is also an opportunity to watch the Christmas adverts and to look a little more closely at the brand campaigns that are creeping onto the screens of our multiple devices.

Christmas creative 

Usually the focus remains on TV when it comes to Christmas adverts. Which brands have spent the most money, and what will become ‘the’ advert of the year? There is usually a race to be the first to air and then the debate about the iconic moments that resonate and that we can all share.

For me, there was a very different start to my Christmas brand watch. While reviewing my Twitter feed, I came across a post from Lidl. It was a clear call to action that if you liked the tweet then you would be one of the first to see the advert.

This was a great idea and I’m sure that it took a massive amount of resource and effort on behalf of the PR team at Lidl to respond to all the posts and capture all the data. It was impressive and I wondered how it would work in practice.

A thankless tactic

A few days later, I received an alert to say that I had a direct message from Lidl. True to their promise, awaiting in my inbox was a link to the advert. And this is where Lidl took the fizz right out of my Christmas.

I sat wide-eyed waiting for the creative that would have me welling up and clutching at my heart as little people danced on stage or older people enjoyed time with family and friends. Would it focus on loneliness, good will to all men (and women) or another topic completely?

Well, it goes back to managing expectations. The advert was a blatant promotion of all things Lidl. Not even a veiled attempt, an all out ‘in your face’, ‘have it’ plug for all festive products in store.

Saved by a Christmas jumper  

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a place for this and in some way I commend Lidl for being so forthright but don’t get people’s hopes up when you just want to flog your goods to them.

I was expecting something special, something exciting, something festive. All I got was a reminder of how great Lidl is and what they have instore. Truth be told, it’s only three days since I had been, so I was aware of what was on offer.

As a customer of Lidl, this advert did nothing to build my loyalty to the brand. The Christmas jumper that is now available and another blatant promotion did make me smile though. And perhaps that’s the point. Maybe Lidl have got it right. While brands are spending millions on festive ads that make us all warm and fuzzy inside, all we really need to know is what they have for us to buy.

When a Burger Beats you to the Top Spot  

In a world that is full of marketing messages, I quite like the idea that Christmas adverts look more towards themes and feelings that we can all relate to. Instead of pushing a product, I like to stand in the moment and that’s why my top spot for the Christmas advert of 2020 goes to McDonalds.

Great creative, excellent delivery and a message that mums and dads, aunties and uncles can appreciate and that will leave you wiping a tear and raising a smile.

McDonalds Christmas TV Advert

It’s not that Lidl got it completely wrong for me but that the tactics were overplayed. Getting someone excited on social will have them coming back for more. Not delivering on that promise will leave them wanting more. The two are very different.

I do hope that the next time the brand engages on social channels that the outcome of that campaign meets with expectations. I’m afraid this time around, it wasn’t the case for me.

For further details about Open Comms and how the agency could support your business to reach its ambitions, please email Lindsey at or visit


Open Comms will work with 6B

We are very pleased to announce that Open Comms is now working with 6B, the development agency, to deliver a national campaign.

Providing PR and content management services for the business, we will work alongside the team of digital professionals to raise the profile of the brand across the UK, reinforce its disruptive attitude and support the organisation as it continues to expand its client base.

With ambitious targets to become a £10.2m turnover business, appoint a team of 100 digital experts and open four offices, 6B has its sights firmly set on growth and success.

Director of Open Communications, Lindsey Davies comments: “From our initial conversations we knew that Paul and the team at 6B were exactly the right fit for us. The journey they have been on so far is quite incredible and with their sights firmly set on future success we can’t wait to get cracking on our campaign.

“Following an initial immersion session, it was clear that 6B has a lot to shout about and we will be supporting them to do just that!”

Founding Director of 6B, Paul Brown comments: “The immersion session we had with Open Comms gave us the opportunity to look at where we had come from and what we want to achieve.

“We know that we need to make more noise and to shout about the great work that we produce. It’s not just about websites but also our apps, CRM systems and bespoke products for customers in the public and private sector. It’s time to show people just what we are made of and to take the next step in our journey.”

6B launched in 2013 and has since built up an impressive client portfolio to include brands such as Candy Kittens, ITV, Northern Lights, Franke, Experience Wakefield and Bradford Council. For more information about the agency please visit:

Open Communications launched in 2008 to provide businesses with PR, social media and content management services. It works with clients including HARIBO, the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Opus Trust Communications, Hortor and iSource Group. For further insight into the agency and what we deliver for clients, please visit:


Big brands do work with PR agencies from Yorkshire

It would be fair to assume that big brands won’t work with a small PR agency from Yorkshire, but that isn’t the case. We have worked with some of the largest businesses in the country to deliver campaigns and have achieved some incredible results.

Big isn’t always beautiful

Having worked for big agencies before starting Open Comms, I know that big isn’t always beautiful. What goes on behind the scenes isn’t always what a client would expect. Of course, this could be said for any sized agency, it isn’t exclusive to the big ones. It is however only relevant if the practices that are encouraged challenge the values of the business and its employees.

We have worked alongside many large agencies when working with big brands and some of them are fantastic. In fact, some of the best work we have produced has been as a result of getting our heads together with others. We don’t pretend to have all the answers, working collaboratively can be a massive benefit. What we have found is that it’s less about size and more about experience.

As an agency that is completely transparent, our clients always know what we are working on, what tactics we will use to deliver results and how much a campaign will cost. They will also be aware of any mark-up that we are making.

Big brand or SME our values don’t change and the approach we take remains the same. It’s why we have our clients for years and not months.

Furthermore, working in this way means that we can focus on what matters: results. We don’t need to worry about being caught out or not delivering a return on investment. It also means that we can make sure that budgets stretch and that clients have a genuine insight into the costs associated with a campaign.

Same tactics, different narrative

Most agencies will use a very similar toolkit of tactics when they work with big brands. The truth about what differentiates one business from another is experience and personality.

As an industry that seems to rely on impressive terms for repackaged services, let’s take ‘always on’ or ‘brand to hand’ as just two examples, it’s no surprise that some clients struggle to see the wood from the trees.

The narrative we use changes all of the time. It is led by comment and content that is shared. It doesn’t mean that bigger agencies are any better than smaller ones, just that they are more likely to feature within industry press as ‘thought leaders’.

New phrases are added to the agency dictionary every week. It’s not so much about knowing the lingo’ as stepping back and working out what service they relate to.

It starts and stops with hard work

Any agency that wants to deliver for a big brand, whether they are working on a campaign or as a retained partner, needs to roll up their sleeves. PR isn’t easy. It’s about hard work. Finding the right tactics and dialing them up or down (there’s those buzz words again). This can be time consuming.

Results don’t drop into your lap when you work in PR. There is a lot of test and measure. It’s also important to be aware of any new tactics that are coming into the market. When I started there was no such thing as earned and owned content and social was in its infancy.

Things change and so too must the advice and recommendations that we give to the big brands we work with to make sure we deliver against objectives.

White label or white flag!   

It’s no surprise that agencies tell fibs from time to time. It’s not something we get involved with, but there are numerous agencies that claim to be ‘full service’ yet outsource to other suppliers.

We have been approached on several occasions to be a white label agency. I’ve always thought this strange given the objective of what we do often focuses on building the profile of a brand. How credible would we be with no visibility?

It would be an odd conversation to have with a client, to explain that we hadn’t seen the benefit in promoting our services. It’s would appear to me to be a white flag rather than a white label.

As a PR agency that has built its reputation up over 12 years, we do work with other agencies from Yorkshire and beyond, but as Open Comms. I question the value to any client that pays an agency that has marked-up the services of a partner rather than passing them on direct.

In our time, we have worked with many of the larger agencies in both Leeds and London. We have been involved with inter-agency days, where brands bring their partners together in one room. It’s a good approach and often leads to the strongest campaigns and best collective ideas.

I’d recommend any brand that works with multiple agencies gets value from bringing them all together. After all, why rely on one PR agency from Yorkshire when you could have five different specialisms in the room?

Taking the ‘risk’

It’s to be expected that big brands will attract the attention of larger agencies and visa versa. That said, it’s important that companies take a calculated risk. What harm is there in adding a smaller agency to a pitch line-up to see what they have to offer. Also, extending the geography. We’ve pitched all over the country and with all that has happened this year, there’s never been a better time to put remote working into practice.

Over the years we have had the pleasure of working with some great brands including KP Snacks, POM-BEAR, HARIBO, Calbee and Yushoi. We could go on.

The biggest achievement for me was that in every case these clients saw the value in what we were recommending and the results that we secured. We had an incredible time camping at festivals with POM-BEAR during a summer of activation and launching Yushoi with Louis Smith in London.

We managed the opening of a multi-million-pound, purpose-built factory for Calbee in Wales and welcomed dignitaries from across the region. With KP Snacks we provided insight and recommendations on how to avoid advertising to children. There is certainly never a dull day when you work in PR.

A small PR agency from Yorkshire trusted by big brands

Just because we are a small agency, it didn’t mean that we couldn’t be trusted by these big brands. What it did mean was that the responsibility was on us to be honest. That is something we have always maintained. If we are unable to meet with a client’s objectives, we will let them know.

I’m pleased to report, it’s very rare that we can’t fulfil a brief, and that is why we are looking forward to working with many more big brands in the future. We may be a small agency in Yorkshire, but we are a very capable one!

For further details about Open Comms and how the agency could support your business to reach its ambitions, please email Lindsey at or for more details about the many businesses we work with, please visit


Planned support for business

It was only last week I asked our team to stop focusing on Covid-19 in our blogs. In all honesty, I just felt it was a depressing topic that was being covered enough. And so, here I am, a week on doing the exact opposite!

I am hoping however that what I am about to share will give businesses something positive to focus on during the next four weeks. It may also change the direction that they choose to go in the future. Rather than dwell on the past, we are looking ahead.

Time on your hands

For many businesses, the lockdown will mean that they have time on their hands. As this wasn’t planned or expected, it can be redirected. Rather than reverting to lockdown habits, think about the future. Where do you want to be and how are you doing to get there?

Things aren’t easy and budgets are tight but that doesn’t mean you can’t invest wisely.

Planning your next six to twelve months will give you a road map to follow and some structure during uncertain times.

Take control

For the first time in my lifetime, I can honestly say that no one knows what is around the corner. We can all make predictions. Everyone is suddenly an expert. Truth be told, we just don’t know.

It’s time to take control of the things that we can predict. Create a timeline of what you want to achieve and by when. Don’t dwell on what might be and start to put your energies to what will happen.

Once you have a plan in place it will be easier to work towards achieving those goals. Make it visual and you’re onto a winner.

It’s good to talk

During the first wave of the pandemic, some businesses went off grid and fell silent. This is a really bad idea. It sends out the wrong messages to your marketplace and gives audiences – including your staff – cause for concern.

Rather than going quiet, think about what you have to say. Pull together some ideas. Put some thought into the topics that you want to discuss and start to engage. For once, find the time to make communication a priority.

Remember, the people that you rely on when the doors are open are the same as when they are shut. Your customers need to know that you are there and that they have a supplier to come back to. Furthermore, employees need some confidence that all is not lost.

Keeping a consistent feed of updates will give the reassurance that all audiences need.

Planned support

One of the first things we did when we started Open Comms was to create ‘Open for New’ sessions. These have evolved over the years and are opportunities for businesses of all sizes to get the professional and planned support they need.

Each session is bespoke and is carefully tailored to each organisation. We make sure that the brands we work with get the very best return and that this takes no more than a day.

Up to six members of a company are invited to get around a (virtual) table and look at where they are and where they want to be. We focus on communications and how this can support the strategy of the business.

The discussion evolves to cover positioning statements, key messages, targets, engaging with the media, social media, crisis management and putting the right processes in place. As mentioned, we speak to the client beforehand to find out what their challenges and objectives are.

In our experience, every single session is different and that is what makes them so exciting! People leave them knackered (it takes work!) but energised.

Full steam ahead

It can be difficult to find the time to focus on PR and content marketing when you are ‘head down’ and in the thick of it. That is why we are suggesting to businesses that communication is put firmly on the agenda.

Don’t waste your time with the latest box set, you wouldn’t wander off to watch the TV if the doors were open. Use this window of opportunity to pave the way, get some planned support, and look forward to a stronger start to 2021 and all that it holds in store.

For further details about Open for New sessions, please email Lindsey at and for more details about the agency and the many businesses we work with please visit

Why agencies matter

Why agencies matter

Last week I read an interesting article in the Drum. As part of its Agencies4Growth festival, the publication was looking at why agencies matter. This piece was an interview with Janelle Orozco, Diageo’s chief procurement officer, to find out why the brand values its agency relationships.

The focus was on why businesses would invest in agencies when they could simply appoint the talent they need inhouse. This isn’t a new topic of conversation, nor is it one that has a simple answer. There are arguments for and against.

What was interesting was that Janelle was able to see the benefits to both. In particular, the added value that comes from having the right agencies that can work as an extension of a brand team.

She commented: “The best agencies can be truth tellers, helping you see what you are missing. Brands and companies can benefit from an external perspective to hold up a mirror or shine a light on something that can be missed when you are too close to the problem or too wedded to how things have always been done. Great agencies have a breadth of perspective from working with clients across sectors, and, often, around the world.”

Building strong relationships

It may seem obvious, but building strong relationships is so important when you are working with an agency. It is likely you will be providing them with access to confidential information that could be business critical.

It is crucial that you can share your real thoughts and feelings on some challenging subjects. PR isn’t always straight forward and having honest conversations will result in meaningful outputs. It will also allow the agency to deliver recommendations that have a positive impact.

There are times when agencies and clients disagree. That is fine. Like anything, some topics will be up for discussion. Campaigns will need reviewing and ideas refining. Again, having the relationships in place that allow you to do this productively will deliver stronger results.

When times are hard and relationships are tested, it should become obvious why agencies matter. If not, then there may be some changes that need to be made.

Transparency leads to trust

When we launched in 2008, one of the values of our business was to be transparent with our clients. Nothing has changed. What we have seen over the years is that clients appreciate how we choose to operate.

Hiding costs, increasing budgets and making huge margin on bought in items just isn’t our way. It has never sat comfortably with us, and never will.

Clients know that when they appoint us as their preferred PR partner, they will get honest advice. Furthermore, the ideas and campaigns that we put forward will be realistic. We always work towards meeting with objectives so that our results have a meaningful impact.

We never take our clients for granted and being truthful with them means they can trust us. Working in this way allows our relationships to evolve from third party supplier to trusted confident very quickly. It also provides our clients with the results and experience that gives them evidence of why agencies matter.

Accessing skills

In the piece from the Drum, Janelle comments: “Then, of course, there is the magic of the work agencies co-create alongside marketing teams”.

This really resonated with me, as it is exactly how we approach campaigns for clients. Rather than assume we have all the answers, we pool our resources and ideas. It may be a brainstorm or a briefing session, but we make sure we access all the talent that is available to us.

It is important to remember that clients, just like agency employees, have mixed experiences. This could be from previous roles and may even be agency side. As such, the strongest campaigns are often those that have been shaped by the whole team.

We know that we have the skills as an agency to build and deliver campaigns from scratch, however working collaboratively means our clients get the best of both worlds. We often find that the brand managers we work with want to be involved. As such, working together allows them to do that. It also means we can all share and celebrate success.

Far from de-valuing what an agency can bring to the table, it just means that the campaigns will be influenced by everyone involved.

Added value  

The reason that most businesses invest in agencies is to add value. There should be no dispute that the companies you choose to work with are delivering a return on investment. If they aren’t, then it may be time to review those relationships.

Although we are a PR and content management agency, our clients know that they can come to us with any questions that they have. They also know that we will give them our honest opinion on any subject. It may not be what they want to hear but it goes back to transparency and trust. It also means we are giving them the added value they are looking for.

I remember a meeting we had with a client. We had gone off topic several times and ended up talking about some challenges this client was facing. It had nothing to do with PR, but that was the point. As they left, they turned around and said: “I love our meetings. It’s like a counselling session and a monthly catch up all in one.”

If there was ever a statement that proves why agencies matter, then this has to be it. For us, that’s exactly how it should be. We don’t just meet with objectives or deliver results. We add value where it has greatest impact.

Working with an agency

A critical factor to the way that we work with our clients is exactly that. We work with our clients. We do not work for them. The difference this one small word makes is quite astonishing.

When you start a relationship with the attitude that a supplier works for you, it creates barriers. Changing the way that you look at this will allow you to move from having suppliers to partners. It also helps people to feel valued and that they are part of a wider team. Furthermore, it delivers a stronger return on investment. After all, agencies will work harder for those that value their time and expertise.

In the article from the Drum, Janelle concludes: “In summary, agencies continue to be vital to brands and can be a source of competitive advantage when they fit culturally, commercially and strategically.”

We couldn’t agree more, and when you do find an agency with that fit, it leads to lasting relationships that will benefit your business. It will also give you all the evidence you need to truly understand why agencies matter.

For further details about Open Comms, who we work with and what we do, please visit: or call: 01924 86244.


Open Communications supporting businesses through times of crisis

As a Yorkshire based PR agency that works as an extension of our clients’ teams, we are often required to access confidential information. In particular, when supporting businesses during times of crisis, we need as much detail as possible.

It is only when we have this level of insight that we can provide recommendations that will benefit a business. This might be uncomfortable for brands to share, but it is essential if we are to deliver the service and results that our clients have come to expect.

Don’t hide behind closed doors

Hiding behind closed doors and ‘keeping your head down’ during a crisis might seem like a good idea, but it isn’t. In our experience, there is rarely a benefit to giving a no comment to journalists. In fact, being as transparent and honest as possible is crucial.

That doesn’t mean that you share everything with everyone, just that you manage the process very carefully. Working with experts means that you can navigate the situation and ensure as little damage to your brand as possible.

There may be two sides to every story, however coming across as defensive or aggressive will not give the right impression. If we are honest, this will just lead people to make negative assumptions that could have a lasting impact on a company.

Scenario planning

We always say that a business never expects a crisis, until it has a crisis!

Very few organisations want to think too deeply about what could go wrong. That said, scenario planning can be a great way to test and measure the robustness of the planning and processes you have in place.

Look at the obvious challenges that you could face as an organisation. Think about how you would respond should a journalist call, or a customer share negative feedback across social media. Are you prepared? Do you have the necessary processes in place? If not, you can expect to be caught like a rabbit in headlights.

Hitting the headlines for the right reasons

We are big believers at Open Comms in hitting the headlines for the right reasons. This gives our clients some balance, even when they do have a crisis. It’s never something that we want to see happen, but if we can counter negative press with positive then we are doing our job.

It may be that through good governance and careful planning we can avoid any negative PR at all, however in instances where that isn’t the case, we have the foresight to plan ahead. Having a strong schedule of positive stories means we have more good news in the market than bad.

On the occasions where we simply cannot avoid negative comment, we work hard to counteract this and to give a true opinion of the brands we deliver PR and content management strategies for. This is just one of the reasons that supporting businesses through times of crisis is so important.

Stakeholder relations

As well as the media, it is important to consider how you will communicate about a crisis internally. This means letting any relevant stakeholders and staff know, ideally ahead of them reading it in the newspaper or online.

Being honest and letting people know so that they can ask any questions will reinforce confidence. No one likes to be left in the dark, and so putting in place the infrastructure to share updates with everyone will support staff morale, even when you are sharing bad news.

Most companies have an intranet, noticeboards or regular staff meetings. Make sure that these are used when you are dealing with a crisis. Being consistent and considered is further advice during difficult times.

Being held accountable

Those that are accountable for their mistakes are also most likely to learn from them. It’s not about holding your hands up and admitting liability for everything. It is about taking an honest look at what has happened and why.

Saying sorry may not be the position that most companies want to find themselves in, however it will make a difference to how people see the brand in the short and longer term. It could even be that you could turn a negative into a positive with how a situation is managed.

This is just further evidence of why supporting businesses through crisis is more than just an investment. It could be business critical.

People pay careful attention to the reactions from organisations and their senior managers during hard times. Managing a crisis effectively, sensitively and appropriately could encourage prospective customers or employees to take a closer look at your company.

Working with experts

As an agency, we have years of experience when it comes to supporting businesses through times of crisis. We also know how nerve wracking it can be but that most situations are manageable. Rather than flapping around and panicking, it is important that brands work with the experts.

There is an investment in crisis management, however it will deliver a return like few others. Having the reassurance that the processes in place are robust and sufficient will make any crisis easier to navigate and to manage.

Supporting businesses through crisis is just one of the tactics that we deliver for the brands we work with. For further information about our approach and how we can add value to your business through our full suite of services, please visit: or call a member of the team on tel. 01924 862477.


PR supports brands that are open for business

Despite the challenges that many companies are facing, I’ve been buoyed by the resilience that our clients have shown. If anything, they recognise now more than ever that PR supports brands that are open for business.

It’s the right approach to take. After all, what’s the alternative? It would perhaps be easier to close the doors, ignore the facts and shut off from the world. The reality is that this doesn’t give the right impression to customers or prospects.

A focus on the future

It was enlightening for me to find that the organisations we work alongside are looking to the future. There is a real energy and positivity about what is around the corner. Rather than focus on the negative, we are putting in place plans that will help to achieve business objectives.

We have schedules of good news stories, content ready to be posted, shared and liked and social channels that are frequently updated attracting attention from relevant audiences. It’s great to be so busy and to see how organisations are more aware that PR supports brands that are open for business.

Redirecting budgets   

During hard times it is quite typical for brands to cut marketing spend. It’s almost a default position, but we haven’t found that this time round. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Progressive businesses are redirecting budgets and showing how resilient they can be.

Many companies are recognising that now is the time to shine to stand out from competitors.

Using PR to explain that brands are open for business goes back to the basic principles of what we do. Launching products and services, making sure that people are aware of good news and that they can share it. All tactics that have proven their worth, and those that we still rely on today.

We manage the reputation of brands and businesses. That isn’t something we take lightly. It is however what we do, and we do it well. It’s great to see our clients retaining focus and pushing hard when it matters.

Attracting the right attention  

There have been some great campaigns and initiatives that have been shared by brands in recent months. Marketing teams have been pushed to their limits. Being creative is one thing but resonating during difficult times is another.

It’s important to remain sensitive and to attract the right attention. This doesn’t mean everything needs to be shrouded in negativity, just carefully thought through.

There have been some quirky examples of brands pushing boundaries, while using the right tone. People do still want to laugh, it’s just that they want to laugh with each other, not at each other. That’s where PR can play a real role.

Storytelling adds personality, background and fun. It’s just another way that PR supports brands that are open for business.

New business enquiries

We’ve had some really interesting new business enquiries in recent weeks. As well as showing that we are still very much open for business, this is also a reflection on the wider community. It’s great to hear from companies that have big ambition!

As well as new business calls, we have also heard from those in our network. Although we are unable to share our usual cheeky drink with colleagues and associates, we are maintaining contact and showing our support.

It’s important at times like this that we all remember to come together and to share good news. It doesn’t matter if you work for a big brand or a start-up, the philosophy remains the same: PR supports brands that are open for business.

Those companies that take advantage and put the right PR and content strategy in place will also be those that see a positive impact on their bottom line.

For further information about our approach to PR and how we can add value to your business, please visit: or call a member of the team on tel. 01924 862477.


The value of earned media

Within marketing industry media there has been much discussion about the value of earned media. This is the return on investment that companies receive from featuring in editorial coverage.

For as long as I can remember, the focus for a PR professional has been on securing good, quality coverage in relevant publications. This then extended to digital titles and has since moved to third party platforms.

Earned media in its truest sense relates to stories that hold credibility by association. The reason being they have been verified and shared by a journalist. The argument could be that working with influencers does the same. They choose what content to share, but for the purpose of this blog we will keep it simple.

Earned and owned

So, earned content typically features in newspapers and on websites owned by these publications. It may be that the media is digital and doesn’t have a print version, but the same theory applies. Owned content is the copy that is written by a brand and shared online and across social channels.

This is not editorial. It is dictated by a brand for an audience. That doesn’t mean it holds no value. It just means that there is no third-party providing governance over its credibility.

Securing earned media

This is the bread and butter of traditional agencies. Securing earned media is often the key objective of a client that has in place a press office function. It is out job to identify a schedule of stories, to research, draft and distribute to the right media.

Sounds simple. The reality is that the copy needs to be compelling, newsworthy and relevant to the audience. You also need to write for the publication, the audience and the client.

Collating a value to earned media

There have been countless discussions about the measurement of PR. It is a constant battle to determine the impact that regular earned coverage will have on a business. The reality is that people don’t always associate their decision to purchase with the profile of a brand.

We can assume that the more you hear about a brand the more likely you are to purchase a product or service but confirming this is difficult.

From years of working in PR, clients do receive feedback from associates and colleagues who will comment positively on press and broadcast appearances. I’ve yet to come across an organisation that has been disappointed to feature regularly within relevant media.

There are also ways in which measures can be set such as audience reach. Publications have ABC ratings or MOZ scores for websites. This gives an indication of the authority of that title, either by purchase or visits.

Using these metrics gives a clear indication of the value of earned media and what it will deliver for a brand.

The benefits of earned media for business

The simple fact of the matter is that when people read about a business, they learn about it too. There is always a key message within a story. Something the brand wants you to know and to take away. It could be the announcement of a new product or service, appointments to the team or industry insight. Whatever the angle, there is reason for that press release to be shared.

Having a strategic approach to PR means that earned coverage can support the objectives of a business. Stories can be planned and scheduled to ‘hit’ at just the right time. This then gives further value to earned coverage as a business-critical tactic.

Getting best return on investment from PR

PR is about more than earned coverage. Content is everywhere and managing the messaging for a brand has never been more complicated. That said, we are in exciting times and PR has had the chance to stand up and to be counted in recent years.

There are many tactics to creating a PR campaign that will deliver results and we ensure that our clients have access to them all. With a balance of earned, owned and social coverage we are able to make sure the brands we work with are in the right place at the right time.

For further information about our approach to PR and how we can add value to your business, please visit: or call a member of the team on tel. 01924 862477.