Author: Lindsey Davies

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM TODDLERS

What can we learn from toddlers

The concept of what we can learn from toddlers isn’t new, in fact it is well documented. Just one example would be the book written by the founder of Ella’s Kitchen, Paul Lindley: Little Wins, the huge power of thinking like a toddler.

Despite the plethora of information and advice that is out there, I don’t think many of us put these theories into practice. As an adoptive mum to a very active toddler, I was not surprised to hear that my son had been painting with cars at nursery last week.

The children had decided they didn’t want to use paintbrushes. Instead, they found the patterns from the wheels of the toy cars were far more exciting. This got me thinking about the way our son plays.

Thankfully, his nursery embraces his creativity and imagination. He isn’t told what he should do with the toys or what the intention of the manufacturer was. His teachers simply let him adopt and adapt the items he plays with to suit his game.

So, taking a step back, I started to think more about what we can learn from toddlers.

Saying hello and goodbye 

When we go shopping our son will wave from the trolley at everyone we pass and say ‘hello’. He smiles and more often than not people stop what they are doing, look less serious and say ‘hello’ in return.

As well as teaching him that manners cost you nothing, he has learnt that saying hello makes people smile and engage with you. He has also realised that if he says, ‘goodbye everyone, see you later’ and waves as we leave, people laugh. Another positive response that makes him, and them, feel good.

In business, I feel we forget the basics of how to engage positively with people.

We are stressed and have lists of actions to complete. There are not enough hours in the day, and we can’t always plan for whatever challenge we need to address next. The problem however isn’t any of these things. It’s that we pass on our negativity to others through the way we communicate.

We forget that the tone of an email could make or break someone’s day. The language we use on the phone matters. And the way that we ask someone to do a task will impact on the outcome. What some people seem to forget is that being rude doesn’t empower you.

From now on, I am going to remember the value of saying hello and goodbye.

Being honest 

Children are honest. Brutally so sometimes. Although this can create some embarrassing and uncomfortable situations on occasion, toddlers have a point.

When we are honest, we all know what we are working with. There are no secrets or hidden facts. Nothing is going to crop up that will change the path or outcome of our work. Conversely, when people are dishonest, it makes life difficult.

I think if we are all more honest, life will be simpler. Don’t hide costs, sell an idea that is unattainable or say you can do something you cannot. People will always respect you more for being honest.

Getting things wrong and saying sorry 

Toddlers get things wrong, a lot. They are learning how to navigate this crazy world and the challenges that crop up along the way. More importantly, in the case of our son, he now knows when to say sorry.

Unlike adults, toddlers will say sorry without hesitation. They aren’t embarrassed by admitting they have made a mistake and they know that to say sorry is the right thing to do.

As adults, we’ve realised that there is an awkwardness to admitting we’ve messed up. The truth is that this doesn’t detract from the fact that saying sorry is still the right thing do.

In business, it may be that saying sorry becomes an admission of guilt. What we need to decide is whether we want to create a culture of covering our own backsides or learning from mistakes and embracing the honesty and strength of someone that says sorry.

Seeing the best in everything 

Everything is exciting when you are two or three. The simplest of things. Bubbles are a classic example. Our son will run outside and shout ‘wow, wow, wow!’ when we blow bubbles in the garden.

Easily pleased, perhaps. Able to see the best in everything, absolutely.

What toddlers will do is add imagination to the dullest of tasks. They make everything into a game through their ability to think beyond the obvious. We all know that to keep a child happy for minutes you give them a toy. If you want to keep them entertained for hours, let them play with a cardboard box.

I think adults can learn a lot from this. We need to stop obsessing about the toy and start to think how we make our work as exciting as a cardboard box. We need to get back to effortlessly adding the imagination, creativity and storytelling to tasks.

It seems to me that when something is fun, we have been conditioned to forget that it can still be work. There is nothing wrong with loving your job or making a task simpler through adding some imagination or play.

Perhaps if we tried to do this more, we would all be happier, and I suspect our relationships and results would be stronger.

Making friends

As children we make friends with people that resonate with us. Often there are similarities and shared interests. Toddlers may like the same games or songs. They may just enjoy the company of one another. Relationships are uncomplicated.

As adults, we make assumptions. The process of making friends is muddied by experience and expectations.

While it’s important to choose our friends wisely, maybe we should be more open to getting to know people that are less of an obvious fit. Embracing our differences, rather than letting them define us, could give us all greater opportunities to learn.

Within any business network, there are so many people. Every single one has something unique to share. When we think like that, the power of our connections become very real. Making friends in business is just as important as in our personal lives. What’s more, the two can be interchangeable.

Now that we are all allowed back out, I’m going to make more effort to meet with people that wouldn’t typically have been those I would gravitate to.

Taking the time to laugh

Finally, this should be simple, but for adults we seem to forget how to laugh. Again, using our son as an example, he has recently learnt to ‘fake laugh’. He sounds like Woody the Woodpecker and has realised that when he does this people around him will giggle too.

Every single day our son will laugh out loud. He will giggle, fake laugh, belly laugh and chuckle.

When we are at work and in pressured environments, it can be almost impossible to take the time to laugh. The thought makes us cringe. After all, we have too much to do to be taking time to be silly or to do something that doesn’t deliver a return.

Again, if we think slightly differently about this, I think having a laugh is invaluable. When we are happier, we deliver better results. We attract the right people. Everything feels more positive. It may not be the easiest thing to implement, but I’m going to try to laugh more.

It makes me feel good and I think that is worth working towards.

I hope that you enjoyed this blog and that you may even have found something to take away. For more insight from the team at Open Comms, simply visit: Blog · Open Comms · PR agency in Wakefield, West Yorkshire

HOW PR CAN SUPPORT YOUR ACQUISITION STRATEGY

Acquisition strategy

The last year has given many businesses a unique opportunity to stop and think. As companies consider what happens next; where they go from here; how they reshape to take greater market share; how to increase at scale – it seems an increasing number are putting in place an acquisition strategy.

When one company thinks about buying another, the process is often shrouded with legalities, logistics, finance, due diligence and stakeholder meetings. Often, missed entirely from the agenda, is PR.

The following blog will give companies the facts about what PR can do to support your acquisition strategy.

 

Building a positive profile

The first thing a Director of a business will do when they hear about your company is search for the brand online. Creating a positive and up to date profile through earned media coverage online will provide a strong first impression.

Carefully considered blogs and web content will also enhance this and give the reader a better understanding of the experience and talent that you have within the team.

It is possible to make sure that the search results people find are those that you would want. Sharing current and relevant content will help. Not only can you manage the message but also build the reputation your organisation deserves.

 

Sharing success

Good news will attract attention, so make sure that you are sharing your successes with the media and across social media channels. Consider the tone of voice that you would like to use to deliver the message in a way that will resonate.

Think about the message carefully. Does the news showcase growth, progression and future success? Will your online community share and engage with the posts? Do they look visually appealing and interesting? Have you included a call to action or mentioned your plans within a quote?

All of these questions need to be answered if you are to get the best return on investment from your content and attract the right people to your organisation.

 

Talent acquisition and employee retention

LinkedIn is a great tool for attracting talent and retaining employees. Furthermore, it is a ‘shop window’ to the market. Consider the perception that people get when they visit your company page. After all, this is your chance to put the spotlight on your business.

Sharing content on LinkedIn is a further opportunity to ensure that the tone, appearance and general messages are supporting your acquisition strategy. No company wants to be a part of a group that has a negative culture.

Encourage employees to post online and give them a chance to share their thoughts on the company page. Giving staff a voice adds credibility and builds reassurance when it matters most.

 

Attracting the right attention

Leaving PR to chance is always an option but probably not a very good one. When you attract attention to your business you want to make sure that it is positive. Hitting the headlines for the right reasons will encourage people to talk about you.

Giving people a reason to mention your brand and business will create credibility by association. Through avoiding PR or leaving your communications to chance, you are missing a trick. The more positive association you can create, the more enquiries you are likely to get when you start to look for businesses that you may want to acquire.

 

Setting the foundations

The first step of the PR process would be to put in place a detailed schedule of activity. Setting the foundations and having clear objectives to work towards and KPIs to achieve will keep communication on the agenda.

As well as building the reputation of the business generally, you will also make it a more appealing prospect for Directors that are looking for an exit strategy or an opportunity to expand through acquisition.

At the same time, you should consider your internal communications. Keeping staff informed and up to date with plans will also allow them to support you. They should be your biggest advocates so equip them with the information they need to do some of the leg work for you.

 

A proven model

As an agency that has worked with many businesses that have an objective to grow through acquisition, we have a proven model in place. As well as managing the messaging throughout the acquisition process, we also provide support that means each company retains its share of voice and builds its communications over time.

Being clear and having an agreed approach in place means that we can be confident that the tactics we choose will ensure that PR supports our clients as they implement an acquisition strategy and find the perfect company that is the right fit for them.

For more information about how Open Comms could support your business, please visit www.opencomms.co.uk or call: 01924 862477.

CONSUMER PR IS ALIVE AND WELL

Consumer PR is alive and well

Despite the challenges we continue to face, consumer PR is alive and well. It has changed and we have had to adapt, but there are still opportunities for brands to make an impact and to encourage sales.

For many consumer brands, the pandemic has meant that marketing activity, at least in part, has been put on hold. This could have been a sampling campaign, activation or trade event. Anything that relied upon direct engagement with people was impossible.

While this isn’t good news and isn’t what anyone wants to see, it doesn’t mean that these businesses have to grind to a complete halt. It just means that the way we communicate and interact with our customers and prospects needs to evolve.

Consumer PR is alive and well

Although many journalists are working from home, magazines are still being printed and shared online as content is being drafted and uploaded. Shoppers are still looking for recommendations and glossy features are providing ten of the best, must buys and seasonal stock.

For those brands that are not engaging with the media, don’t be surprised when you don’t appear. Having a consistent approach that keeps your products front of mind and relatable will deliver time and again.

Send your products out, encourage trial and give free samples in a safe way. Put your brand in the hands of those that want to write about it. Don’t leave anything to chance. Don’t assume that because you know your company inside and out that everyone else does.

Share your story and add some personality. Give a point of difference and explain what makes you unique and a better alternative to the competition. Find reasons for journalists to include your products and think of them as your biggest ambassadors – after all, that’s exactly what they could become.

The tactics you can use

We often talk about a PR toolkit of tactics that we have access to. It’s one of the best ways to describe how we can adapt our approach depending on the products, services and audiences we are focusing on.

No one size fits all when you work in PR and that is what keeps things interesting.

With consumer clients, we choose the approach that will work best for them based on their objectives. It’s fair to say that we have had to be more mindful of how we work but that doesn’t mean we haven’t made plans and put them into practice.

PR is about creativity and that relies on an ability to change your thinking from time to time. They say that where there is a will there is a way and, in our experience, it’s usually underpinned by hard work and a dedication to deliver results, whatever it takes.

Being aware of the tactics that you can use is just the start. For example, press releases, competitions, product reviews, sampling, partnerships, brand buddies, sponsorship… the list goes on. How you implement all of these needs to be carefully planned.

Having a schedule of activity that you can follow and measure will give you the insight you need to make changes. This will give you an active plan that you can adapt to meet with your needs and deliver the very best return on investment.

There are ways to cut through the competition

The consumer market has always been very competitive but there are ways to cut through. Sending out products that are packaged in a way that is representative of your brand is a good place to start. No one wants to receive a brown box with a product inside and no further theatre or engagement.

If you have a product that you feel is exciting and innovative then make sure what you send out reflects that. Have some fun. Push boundaries. Get people involved and ask for feedback. Be resourceful but remember that whatever you send will make an impression: good or bad.

While you can’t always control what people think, you can use consumer PR to manage the experience that they have with your brand. Make sure that the investment you make is worthwhile and that rather than send a box you give them a glimpse of the care and attention you have for your products.

Build a network of partners

Finding brands that have similar values isn’t always easy. Identifying products that complement what you have to offer and then coming up with an approach that meets the needs of both businesses takes time and work.

Like anything, you get out what you put in.

Start to build a network of partners that you know and trust. Start small and then build up to bigger and bolder campaigns. It may be that you find someone that really resonates, and that collaboration makes sense.

The alternative is that you try and test something and it doesn’t work, but at least you’ve given it a go. Trial and error is the only way you will find out, so it’s worth exploring at the very least.

Be creative and have fun 

Most consumer brands will say that they are fun but behind closed doors they are just like any other company. Working hard to make ends meet and facing daily challenges head-on. This is no bad thing, it’s business.

If you want to be creative and have some fun, then this needs to start with the culture that you nurture from the bottom up. A simple and effective way of getting people together and to think differently is to invite everyone into planning sessions.

It might be that you are launching a new product or thinking about ideas for extending a range. Whatever it happens to be, allocate the time so that more people can get involved and excited. Build a plan that can be shaped, adapted and changed based on the feedback and the experiences of others.

Set aside a budget to secure results

No one wants to spend loads of money, but results require investment. Even the purchase, packaging and sending of products comes with a price tag, so there are few ways to avoid it. Bite the bullet and look at what you want to achieve. Work backwards and decide what’s necessity and what’s nice to have.

Once you have a list then create a plan. Look at the priorities against the objectives and get to work. Having a sound plan to follow will also give you something to measure against. The results will then provide insight into what does and does not work.

Change, adapt and amplify so that you end up with a schedule of activity that delivers results every time. Consumer PR is a process, it requires time, attention, focus and a desire to secure results. It’s not always easy but when you get the orders through the door because your audience knows and understands your brand it will all be worthwhile.

Working with professionals

If after reading this you would rather rely on professionals to manage your consumer PR, then please do contact us. We have worked with many brands over the years including Warburtons, KP Snacks, POM-BEAR and HARIBO. We have the experience, the insight and the creds to deliver a campaign or ongoing consumer press office to meet with your objectives. For further details, please visit: https://www.opencomms.co.uk

HOW BUSINESSES CAN BENEFIT FROM PR DURING A PANDEMIC

Benefits of PR during a pandemic

It feels like the mood has changed in recent weeks. People are no longer enjoying the novelty of working remotely and home schooling is causing chaos. While we all attempt to motivate each other, we look at how businesses can benefit from PR during a pandemic.

Last year was strange for many reasons. Most companies felt that the best approach would be to keep calm and carry on. We couldn’t predict what was coming. Nor could we contemplate still being in lockdown.

Almost a year on and there’s a sense that it is going to take longer than any of us expected. However, we are making progress. The vaccine is being rolled out and there are some positive steps forward. For business, it has been a time of reflection and we have started to see a change in attitude.

Many businesses are recognising that they need to look forward and that they can benefit from PR during a pandemic.

Increase in enquiries

For us, there has been an increase in the number of new business enquiries. It would seem that companies have recognised that to stand still does not support progress, in fact all it does is hamper growth.

Although a scary and challenging time, the pandemic has given many companies an opportunity. Those that have put in place a content strategy to communicate effectively with audiences are starting to see the return.

Those that have had to change direction or completely overhaul the way that they work to create a sustainable business model are using this as a platform to promote a new product, service or approach.

It isn’t all bad news. Some organisations have had the chance to enforce change that was long overdue. As a result, they are in a stronger position than ever before. Those that have used this time to share their news and to update their staff, customers and stakeholders are seeing the benefits.

Building communities

With the pandemic has come an honesty like never before. People are more willing to share their thoughts and feelings, even those that are less positive. Admitting that we have challenges is building stronger communities within our networks.

Companies are using platforms such as LinkedIn to share support and encourage each other to look out for colleagues, as well as friends and family. This has given many businesses the chance to share their values and to showcase to others how they operate when times are tough.

As an employer brand there are few things that are more powerful than posts which show how strong a team can be when they come together to offer support and encouragement to each other.

This is just one of the ways that businesses can benefit from PR during the pandemic. Having a consistent approach that shares regular updates keeps a brand front of mind. It also gives an audience the chance to engage directly, which can inspire further positive comments.

The power of positive news

It would be easy for us all to focus on the negatives, after all, we are surrounded by startling facts and figures every day. Thankfully, many organisations are choosing to focus their attention on the good news that they have to share.

We have many clients that are recruiting, investing and looking towards a positive future. With ambitious targets in place, they are not letting difficult times stop their journey. Quite the opposite, they are pushing ahead and making things happen.

They are seeing first-hand how businesses can benefit from PR during the pandemic. It is this spirit and dedication that is infectious and that makes you realise that all is not lost. Far from it in fact, there are some very exciting times ahead.

Putting PR into practice

When we consider why our clients choose to work with us as a preferred PR partner, it’s all about creating consistent communications across mediums to educate, build profile and manage the reputation of a brand and business.

Sharing stories with the widest possible audience and reiterating the good news that an organisation has to share is just the start.

With access to many different channels, we make sure that our clients are seen in the right place and at the right time. As well as securing coverage in the media, we also update social channels, share blog posts and encourage word of mouth.

Every action has an objective and that means we can deliver a return on investment. Watching brands benefit from the work that we do is what really excites us.

Investing for the future

Whether it is a full content strategy, a PR programme of activity or a campaign that we are working on for a client, each and every brand we engage with is investing in our services to support their future success.

If you are thinking about investing in PR and want to talk to an agency about an approach that will deliver results that meet with your objectives, then give us a call. We don’t believe that PR is a dark art, it is about having the processes in place to make sure our clients get the maximum return on investment from everything we do.

We know that PR can benefit business during a pandemic and that there are ways in which our tactics can be used to give organisations the boost they so desperately need. It’s about consistency.

For more information about how we would help to raise the profile of your brand and manage the reputation of your business throughout 2021, contact us on info@opencomms.co.uk, call: 01924 862477 or follow @OpenComms_.

AVOID THE BOREDOM OF BLOGGING FOR BUSINESS

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 info@opencomms.co.uk, call: 01924 862477 or follow @OpenComms_.

PRIORITISING PR DURING 2021

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 info@opencomms.co.uk, call: 01924 862477 or follow @OpenComms_.

CURIOUS ABOUT CHRISTMAS ADVERTS

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 lindsey.davies@opencomms.co.uk or visit www.opencomms.co.uk.

OPEN COMMS TO SUPPORT 6B WITH NATIONAL PR CAMPAIGN

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: https://6bdigital.com

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: https://www.opencomms.co.uk/what-we-do

BIG BRANDS WON’T WORK WITH A SMALL PR AGENCY FROM YORKSHIRE

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 lindsey.davies@opencomms.co.uk or for more details about the many businesses we work with, please visit www.opencomms.co.uk.

FORCED LOCKDOWN LEADS TO PLANNED SUPPORT

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 lindsey.davies@opencomms.co.uk and for more details about the agency and the many businesses we work with please visit www.opencomms.co.uk.