Author: Louise Harris

THE BENEFITS TO PROVIDING A DETAILED BRIEF

Starting work on a new campaign is an exciting time where we have the opportunity to focus all of our attention on our creative ideas. Starting with the exciting stuff; the in-store activation, influencer marketing and attractive PR drop, we can create the wow factor for consumers and clients alike. While this is all well and good, experience has taught us that we need to take a step back and be certain that our ideas will match that of the client’s brief. It is far too easy to get caught up in the fun and miss the finer details.

This is exactly why there are huge benefits to providing a detailed brief if you want to get the most from your PR resource.

Deliver measurable results

Providing a detailed brief is worth the time and effort as is it allows an agency to show what they have delivered at the end of a campaign. Showing clients that we have delivered what they wanted also means we are able to demonstrate the return on investment they have achieved through commissioning our services. .

When we work with clients we make sure to set very specific objectives so that we can measure our success throughout a campaign. It doesn’t always go to plan, but with metrics in place and regular meetings we can change our tactics to meet with the needs of the brand.

Managing expectations is a big part of what we do and as an honest and ‘open’ agency, we make sure to be as transparent as possible. This builds relationships and confidence. Our clients know they can trust us to do a good job and to do it well.

Ensure everyone is on the same page

When working with clients the importance of a detailed brief is something that can be easily overlooked in the early stages of a campaign. The problems start when an agency is asked to provide feedback and it is inconsistent with the client’s expectations.

Having an in-depth discussion at the very start about what a brand hopes to achieve from PR will dispel any myths and set good foundations.

While an agency may want to deliver something risky or creative, we find its always best to look back at objectives and make sure that the tactics will deliver.

It’s not about dampening creativity but more about building trust and securing results through sticking to a brief!

Refined messaging

Only a detailed brief from a client will allow an agency to refine any messaging and potentially the chosen tone of voice.

Taking the time to understand brand values, beliefs and aspirations for a campaign helps a PR agency to evolve the approach and targets. Alongside this, discussing what has and hasn’t worked in the past can help establish the best way to proceed with a new campaign.

Although messaging can be changed part-way through a PR programme, it isn’t best practice and we would always advise that having clear guidance from the outset will work far better. After all, there is no point in wasting time, effort and money through bad planning.

Summary

Providing a detailed brief gives agencies and clients a focus. It allows everyone involved to achieve what was first discussed and to manage realistic expectations. One of the best feelings is to showcase results that meet with the objectives of a brand and business when a campaign comes to an end. This is just one of the things that makes PR such a rewarding career!

If you’d like to discuss ways that the team at Open Comms can with your next campaign, contact us on info@opencomms.co.uk or call 01924 862477.

STARTING WITH THE BASICS: A FOCUS ON PR

It is no secret that PR practitioners have many tried and tested tactics up their sleeves. Knowing which to use for a certain client and when to execute them in a campaign is a true skill that can take years to master.

The fundamentals of successfully managing a PR account are often the same, whether the client is a small start-up business or a multinational FMCG. The details however need to be fine-tuned accordingly.

That is where starting with the basics can really deliver. As an agency with years of experience, we make sure that we remember the simple things to achieving the results our clients expect and deserve.

Set clear targets

Having a client set a clear brief will make it easier for you to deliver results. With clear objectives in place, you will have more chance to focus your efforts on a certain tactic such as social media, getting coverage in national titles or making changes to their website.

It is important to remember that your time needs to be spent wisely and you should avoid ‘nice to haves’ if this is not a priority. Having a measurable target to work towards will also help you showcase your work and the results you have achieved at the end of a campaign.

Create great content

This is sometimes easier said than done but creating quality content will deliver results. Having a great press release or an engaging influencer drop can give a campaign the push you need.

Having a relevant story means you can confidently send out a press release knowing you will receive a good amount of coverage. Equally, sending out an attractive and engaging press drop is more likely to be shared on social than something less visually appealing.

Again, it is about thinking more about what the audience will want and what will resonate with them.

Know your contacts

Over time, established PR professionals build relationships with journalists. Being aware of which writers are likely to cover a story can help to streamline efforts and make it more likely that content will be used.

Having strong relationships with journalists means they are more likely to answer your email quickly or point you in the direction of another contact if necessary.

Make the best use of social media outlets

Creating content for a client’s social media channels is becoming a bigger part of our briefs. Creating quality copy that is relevant to the brand and its audience can be time consuming, but when done right can produce fantastic results.

When creating posts for social media channels it’s important to consider the best outlet to suit your client. If their target market use Instagram, then why spend time making content for Twitter? It is about identifying the best use of resource to deliver the strongest return on investment.

Summary

Thorough planning and research should never be underestimated in all aspects of managing a clients account. Carefully considered actions alongside making the best use of contacts, using social media to your advantage and creating good quality content that aligns with your clients’ brief is a good place to start.

Using these tactics along with many others allows PR teams to deliver the results that clients expect. If you would like to know more about Open Comms and the services we offer, why not give us a call on 01924 862477 or contact us here.

THOUGHTS TO TAKE OUT OF LOCKDOWN

Its fair to say that 2020 has not been the year I imagined. When I started working from home in March, I never would have expected that this would still be the case come August!

For many people, having to stay at home has forced new lifestyle choices, and for many of us to take up new hobbies. As the UK moves back to normal, I’ve taken time to reflect on what I would like change post-lockdown.

Spend more time outdoors

At the start of lockdown, we were blessed with gorgeous weather and I made the most of pottering in the garden and walking in the local parks. I found this to be a great way to switch off after a day of working from home.

It may be a walk round the block, or simply getting some fresh air in the garden, but spending time outdoors can be therapeutic and is something I plan do more of after lockdown.

Busy does not equal success

From speaking to friends and my colleagues, I’ve looked at my own lifestyle. Most professionals fall into the trap of unconsciously thinking busy equals success.

In fact, being busy 100 per cent of the time leaves most people feeling burnt out. Taking time off to rest, recoup and do what you love allows your mind to reset and means you can tackle your day to day with a positive mindset.

Implementing a free evening every week and making sure I have a weekend with no plans every now and then is something I intend to take forward.

Importance of family

Over the past few years, I have given less time to my family. It wasn’t a conscious decision, more because I’ve been ‘busy’. Lockdown has made me consider the importance of spending quality time with loved ones as they have been the same people I have missed most.

While Zoom and Facetime calls have allowed us to keep in touch, quality time with our loved ones is invaluable.

Foreign travel is a must for me!

Foreign travel is something I have truly missed this year. For me, there is nothing like experiencing the sights, tastes and culture of a new country. This fills up my cup like nothing else and is something I can’t wait to pick back up as soon as we can. I’m sure having a year away from the foreign lands I long for will make me appreciate a trip out of the UK even more.

Although the year so far was not what I had planned, it has been an invaluable time for me to reconsider my priorities and will certainly be one to remember. I can’t wait to continue with the rest of the year. I will be stepping into August with a fresh mindset and a newfound knowledge that will get me through lockdown and into the future.

DESPITE MANY CHANGES PR REMAINS A VALUABLE TOOL FOR BUSINESS

Over the past few months and throughout the worst of the Coronavirus Pandemic businesses large and small have been faced with numerous changes and we have supported new and existing clients in several different ways.

More so than ever before, competition between businesses is high and the fight for survival is real. I believe that more companies will recognise the value of PR and understand how beneficial it can be as we move through unchartered territory. Having a good communications strategy to support your future might be the key to succeeding in an ever-changing climate.

Coming out of lockdown, one thing is clear, and that is the need for effective engagement with audiences to secure sales.

Reach a wider audience

As businesses have negotiated the changes caused by the pandemic, the need to appeal to a wider and increasingly varied target audience has grown. Consumer attitudes and trends have changed and using PR helps businesses to market themselves across multiple channels.

The need to reach a new audience or demographic coming out of lockdown is where PR could really help a business, and even extend the opportunities it has.

Social Media as an important tool

I am sure we are all aware by now that our internet and social media usage has skyrocketed during lockdown. While this may reduce a little as we move back to ‘normal’, social media should not be underestimated as a marketing tool. In fact, the benefits of using social media for business are ever increasing.

Social media management and content creation are often a key component of our work with clients. PR professionals have the expertise to support growth in this key area and create compelling content that attracts attention and engagement.

While the need for traditional media remains, it is worth being aware of other ways to communicate with customers and how PR professionals can support in this area.

Reactive to opportunities

PR practitioners have contacts across multiple media and are always on the look out for new opportunities that might be beneficial for clients.

Working with an agency gives businesses access to opportunities they might never have considered. Reactive opportunities can be anything from getting a quote from an expert to offing a product as a prize for a competition on the radio. Both get the name of the business or product out there effectively and raise its profile.

The more reactive opportunities that a business can benefit from, the more chance there is of relationships being built with the media. This means that journalists will come to the brand in the future.

Helpful in advertising activities

While it was concluded that PR is almost 90 per cent more effective than advertising it can be very useful when used in conjunction with other tactics during a wider campaign.

While many still believe advertising is enough on its own, the trust built by PR is invaluable to businesses of all sizes. And, it goes without saying, consumers prioritise trust and brand experience over anything else.

While PR professionals will have to make changes in line with the ‘new normal’, the need for brands to invest in communications will be as great as ever.

If you would like to know more about Open Comms and the services we offer, why not give us a call on 01924 862477 or contact us here.

PLANNING FOR CRISIS

The dreaded word ‘crisis’ crops up more than you might think in PR. After just one year working in the industry, I’ve watched a few crises unfold. In fact, most businesses will experience one at some point, and I’ve learnt that being prepared is key.

While challenges often strike when least expected, the Open Comms team are confident in handling any problems our clients face. With a solid plan in place, and knowledge of the relevant industries we work in, we are prepared and ready to support businesses of all sizes.

Crisis can certainly give us a buzz and spice up our day! Not that we want them every day, but successfully managing a crisis can be very satisfying, although we would rather avoid them.

Keep Calm and Consider Your Actions

On discovering an impending crisis, my first point of action would be to keep calm and look at the crisis from a different perspective. Overreacting may make a potential issue worse. It’s worth considering a few options and understand the right time to intervene.

For example, an unflattering tweet could be damaging to a brands reputation, but if we were to block the account or hide the comment it is likely it will provoke the consumer into further shaming the brand.

Hiding comments after a crisis has calmed down is another option. It is sometimes best to see how the situation develops before acting. There is also a chance it might settle down on its own before things turn nasty.

Be Aware

Being aware of whats happening in the world is so important when it comes to anticipating what has the potential to damage a brands reputation. While we cannot predict the future, topical issues such as climate change, conversations around single use plastics and Covid 19 are just a few examples of things we keep our eyes on day to day.

It is important to be aware of the issues and understand how they could be connected to brands or accounts we are working with. This helps us recognise when a crisis might strike before it happens and allows us to steer clients away from throwing themselves into the fire.

Know When to Act Fast

Acting fast is important. Particularly when monitoring social media accounts. A simple complaint can escalate if not handled promptly. Its important to regularly monitor brands social media accounts, watching out for any complaints that might come through and managing them quickly and efficiently.

Misreading a tone of voice or simply not responding to a query can quickly turn into a crisis. We have to remember that brands are always visible online and that is further reason to be ready to respond.

Move On

Its worth knowing that PR crisis happen every day to many brands and businesses. With so much happening on social media, and consumers continually inundated with new content, it is unlikely that a well-handled crisis will have a long-term effect on business.

As bad as a crisis may seem at the time, many brands have overcome huge problems day to day. Being aware of what caused the issue in the first place and learning from mistakes is the most valuable thing to take away.

Having an experienced team on hand is, without a doubt, the best way to handle a PR crisis before it happens.

If you would like to know more about Open Comms and the services we offer, why not give us a call on 01924 862477 or contact us here.

 

MAKING EXCITING PLANS THAT GIVE US ALL SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO

Over the past few months, I’m sure I’m not alone in having ALL my plans cancelled. Holiday’s, birthday parties, festivals, all cancelled as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This has left me feeling low and lacking motivation. Usually, I like to have things booked in advance and love to see everything written down in my diary; I simply like to have things to look forward to and see my month planned out on paper.

Having something to look forward to, be it a coffee with a friend, a holiday or simply starting a new series on Netflix can brighten up the gloomiest of days.

Planning in PR

Planning ahead is also important at work, particularly in a PR role when being organised is crucial. We often plan campaigns months in advance, not only does this help us manage client accounts effectively, it helps us to see if we have the capacity to take on new projects. While this process can feel tedious at the time there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a campaign executed effortlessly after months of organisation.

Planning for a sense of purpose

I like to plan ahead as I find it makes me work much more efficiently and I’m more purposeful with my actions if I know exactly what I’m hoping to achieve. Having a solid plan in place provides a timeline of where I should be and when. It allows me to tick off things I have completed and provides a sense of fulfilment.

Plans Change

When you begin to execute a plan, it can quickly change and develop into something very different. When this happens, which it will, all the hard work shouldn’t be seen as a waste, its part of the process and overcoming obstacles helps us learn so we can plan better in the future.

Planning for an Objective

Without a solid plan in place the objective of a campaign or project can become skewed. Having a carefully considered schedule to refer back to provides a constant reminder of the end goal and prevents the objective getting lost in the development stage. In PR, the importance of meeting the objective is of great significance and why a detailed client brief is so important. Read more on this here.

For me, having plans in place in all aspects of my life helps provide a sense of purpose and gives me something to look forward to. I feel more satisfied and purposeful in my actions and find my mental health suffers when nothing is in my diary.

The benefits of planning are not to be underestimated!

For further information on how we can help you make plans for your business, please contact Open Communications on tel. 01924 862477.

RECOGNISING THE IMPORTANCE OF FACE TO FACE COMMUNICATION

One lesson I’ve learnt from lockdown is the importance of face to face communication. Not only has this been something I’ve missed from my personal life, it’s something I’ve missed from a professional perspective too.

With ever increasing opportunities for virtual engagement it’s easy to see how we could move away from face to face meetings for good. As we move towards our new normal, it’s got me thinking if there really is a need to travel long distances for meetings and spend every day in the office.

While many have suggested the traditional office formalities are near extinct, I’ve begun to appreciate the need for personal interactions and believe they are invaluable in the PR world.

Colleague relationships

In the first few weeks of lockdown, I found myself missing the office banter and the endless rounds of tea delivered to my desk. Now, I find myself longing for a team meeting where we can get together in person and discuss our actions without a sound delay or speaking over others.

In PR our working relationships are important and there is nothing like getting together to brainstorm ideas for a campaign. We work best when we can bounce off each other and share our creativity. It also means we can suggest the wildest stunts and feed our imaginations.

We can see the excitement in our colleagues faces and make our intentions are clear. People have to be in a room together to really get the best ideas flowing. This is something that simply can’t be recreated on Microsoft Teams. It’s getting us through lockdown, but I miss the sense of community the weekly office meeting brings.

Client Relationships

At Open Comms we have continued to maintain regular contact with our clients and have been very much business as usual throughout the pandemic, but meeting with our clients face to face has been missed.

We believe taking the time to get to know our clients means we understand their values and allows us to develop stronger business relationships and deliver the desired results. It isn’t always about work; it is about chatting and learning more about the personalities behind the brands we work for.

Seeing someone in person allows you to get to know them quicker and better. It is a way to find out about shared interests and to become more than just a third-party supplier. We always say that we are an extension of our clients’ teams and that is very true. It remains the case in the virtual world, but it isn’t the same.

Emotion

When communicating virtually, the ability to read body language and facial expressions are lost and any emotion is removed. Without these cues we raise the risk of misinterpreting the tone of an email or call.

While other businesses may thrive from a move to virtual communication, I think the value of face to face communication in the PR sector will last for many more years to come.

And as we finally start to see the lockdown restrictions eased, I absolutely can’t wait to reconnect with family, friends, colleagues and clients alike.

If you would like to know more about Open Comms and the services we offer, why not give us a call on 01924 862477 or contact us here.

HOW SOCIAL MEDIA CAN BE USED FOR ALL THE RIGHT REASONS

Whether we like it or not, social media is already a big part of our lives both personal and in a business capacity. And, if you’re anything like me, you spend longer than you care to admit scrolling through the latest content on Instagram.

But, as something that’s often spoken of as a bad apple, social media can be incredibly useful. Here are some of the reasons why companies should take advantage of these platforms and increase their business presence online.

Social media is a platform that can be used to reach thousands of people

With regular posts that use hashtags and competitions that offer relevant prizes, you can engage directly with your audience.

Taking this approach, you will soon create a community of like-minded people. This then means that the posts you share have the potential to reach thousands of prospective customers.

Consistency is key here and frequent posts are a sure way to increase following over time. It is important to remember that this won’t happen overnight. However, with perseverance will come results.

Create a Brand Persona

If you review the social feeds of a few of your favourite brands, you can bet they are carefully curated to appeal to a specific demographic. They will also portray that business in a certain light by using a particular tone of voice.

Using social media gives you the opportunity to show off the personality behind your brand. This can be done through organic posts, adverts, endorsed content, images of your product and also when replying to consumers questions.

Easy way to communicate

Being active on social media gives potential customers the opportunity to reach out and ask questions they might not want to approach through email or on the phone.

These platforms are the perfect medium for asking these questions and are often used as a more informal way of communicating with a business.

Keep your eye on other Brands

Being active on social media allows you to keep a watchful eye on other brands. This may even be competitors.

It is common for brands to follow competitors and is a great research tool. It may even provide inspiration or lessons of how to avoid a crisis. Learning from others is fine however copying posts or plagiarising content isn’t. It can be a fine line so is one to remain cautious of.

Crisis Management

Often, by keeping a close watch on social activity and comments, you can stop a crisis in its tracks. Taking hold before it has had chance to have an impact on your business could be invaluable.

Unfortunately, social media is often the first-place consumers go to broadcast a complaint or opinion. In some instances, this will show your brand in a negative light.

Responding to such comments gives you the opportunity to deal with any problems quickly and efficiently. It also shows other followers you take negative feedback seriously and are keen to resolve any issues.

Managing complaints professionally and with the right tone and approach could turn a negative into a positive. It is just a case of knowing how to communicate with customers online.

Using PR to enhance online presence

It may sound simple but growing a social media presence can take serious perseverance and trial and error.

As a PR agency we have seen the demand for social media management grow over the years. Access to digital communications, and the expectation from customers that brands have an online profile, has made this a key part of our clients’ briefs.

To find out how we can support as you increase your social media following and online profile in the right way, why not give us a call on 01924 862477 or contact us here.

HASHTAGS WITH PURPOSE #ClapForOurCarers

Throughout lockdown, something that’s helped to keep me going is the weekly #ClapForOurCarers. It’s a moment where the spirt of the community is truly demonstrated.

Each week the campaign seems to have intensified as people come to their doorsteps, gardens and balconies to thank our truly incredible key workers who risk their lives each day to help others.

It’s also the only time of the week we see our neighbours and it gives us a good excuse to have a chat with someone outside of our household. All at a safe distance of at least two meters of course!

It’s a way we’ve come together without being together and it’s also a campaign we’ve watched grow from a PR perspective.

Saying it without words

Started by a mum of two with no connection to the government or the NHS, the weekly clap is now a televised event.

The simple human custom – the round of applause – is something everyone across the nation can get involved with as a gesture that expresses their thanks.

As well as becoming a weekly occasion, it’s an opportunity for us to collectively show that we care and to share our respect for the many and not the few.

It’s fair to say, given the momentum this has gained, the campaign has captured the mood of the nation both hearts and minds.

Celebrity support

The campaign has seen politicians, celebrities and big-name brands join in. They have all given their support to the UK’s healthcare professionals by taking to the streets for the applause or backing the cause online.

Undoubtedly this has encouraged others to show their appreciation and reinforces how the virus has affected the wider community.

More than applause

#ClapForOurCarers is not the only way to show appreciation for the NHS. The website also has downloadable posters, T-Shirts and family activity packs, which are a lovely way for children to be involved.

Alongside the #ClapForOurCarers campaign, NHS charities organised the #OneMillionClaps campaign asking people to donate to the cause. They originally set out to raise £5m but quickly exceeded the target.

The simplicity and humble purpose of this campaign is what has made the weekly clap so welcome at such a difficult time. Helping some of our clients get involved with the efforts has been a great feeling and something I am proud to have been involved with.

HOW TO BEAT THE WINTER BLUES

As we get ready for shorter daylight hours in the run up to the winter months, it’s no wonder so many of us feel down as the weather turns colder. I certainly feel a difference in my energy levels as the evenings get darker and my summer holiday feels like a distant memory. There are a few things I’ve found help keep on top of any negative feelings.

Get Outside

Try to get outside while it’s bright. This is particularly hard if you work the 9-5 but I’ve found a 20-minute lunch time stroll clears my head and gives my eyes a much-needed break from the screen. With the amount of rain we get in the UK, I make it a priority to get some fresh air on crisp, sunny autumn days.

Book a holiday

I’m a big fan of a winter city break. I find the winter season a little less busy in European cities and it’s easier to pack in the sightseeing when it’s not boiling hot. Planning a trip for the summer ahead is another way to get out of the seasonal slump. It’s always nice to have something to look forward to.

Enjoy the run up to winter

Take time to enjoy the things you wouldn’t do over the summer months. As we tend to spend more time indoors over this period, I like to schedule in some self-care. Set aside an hour for a hot bath with a few candles. This really helps me to unwind and warms me up on a chilly day.

Food

I love hearty, warming food and there is nothing better than a bit of overindulgence in the run up to the festive season! Although, it’s worth remembering that too much can leave you feeling sluggish and is hard to shake off when the summer months arrive again.

While I don’t feel like eating salad as the seasons draw in, I always try to eat enough fruit and veg to keep my energy levels up.

Move your body

Making time to work out is tough at any time of the year but even harder over the colder months, especially when all we want to do is curl up on the couch in front of a good box set. I’ve found exercise is so important for my overall well being and something that helps keep my mental health in check.

Create a Focus

In the Open office there is an extra buzz in the air as we prepare for Halloween and Christmas campaigns. Focusing on these exciting celebrations gives us reason to celebrate the changing seasons rather than resent them.

I’ve struggled with the winter blues in the past, but these tried and tested methods work well if you can’t jet off somewhere warm this winter.