Category: Blog

THE VALUE OF VIDEO CONTENT

Although it’s been around for some time, 2020 is the year that video content needs to form a key part of any marketing strategy. Over the last decade, the use of online videos has transitioned from a luxurious, expensive asset to an affordable and vital tool. As well as attracting attention, it can be used to promote brands, companies, products and even individuals.

The statistics  

Recent research has shown that 85 per cent of businesses use video as a marketing resource, and more importantly, 88 per cent of those have reported that this style of content provides a positive return on investment.

With these figures expected to rise in the coming years, it is imperative that companies don’t ignore these facts.

The main purpose of creating content is to get it in front of the biggest and most relevant audience possible. When it comes to delivering successful PR and marketing campaigns, the written word it still extremely effective but can be complemented with digital assets.

The return of this combined approach can be measured through media coverage and broadcast secured from a carefully crafted press release with accompanying footage. This can then be uploaded to social media channels, resulting in a huge audience reach.

Digesting content daily  

The content we digest on a daily basis can often be found on social media. Brands and businesses must therefore understand that creating engaging and bespoke content for these various platforms is becoming the most efficient way to get in front of relevant viewers.

With such a diverse client base, at Open Comms we have tried and tested varying approaches and have insight into what content is best to share across multiple platforms. As just one example, we have experienced significant and consistent success on LinkedIn for a number of brands.

With the ability to access a global business community, LinkedIn is becoming the prominent platform to use when it comes to acquiring commercial leads. This has been further supported by recent statistics that show four out of five members on the platform are in charge of making business decisions.

The growth of LinkedIn in recent years has also resulted in a marketplace that is increasingly popular for businesses that want to communicate. As the number of users rise, so does the amount of content being published and shared. Therefore, companies must be willing to invest in processes that differentiate themselves from their competitors. At Open Comms we believe bespoke and dynamic video content could be one way to achieve this.

The best thing of all is that video can be used to promote any aspect of a business, product or brand. But as you want to target key decision makers, it is important to take a strategic approach as to what sort of content you are hoping to promote. We have listed below key instances when video content could be used;

  • Showcase company services
  • Provide case studies of how services have enhanced customer experiences
  • Showcase new products and demonstrate how it is used
  • News updates and company announcements
  • Tips and advice to address specific target audience
  • Deliver senior team introductions to add personality to biogs

As public relations specialists, we combine our social media expertise and marketing prowess to transform our clients’ initial ideas into visually dynamic marketing materials. We also work with specialist partners to ensure the content we create and manage is of the very best quality. After all, it’s only what our clients would expect.

Using our skills with those of specialist and trusted partners means that we can extend our offering and manage all communications for our clients. 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.

SPINNING PLATES: THE IMPORTANCE OF MULTITASKING IN PR

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

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

Plan, schedule and adapt

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

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

Love to learn and learn to succeed

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

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

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

Review, revise and thrive

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

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

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

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

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

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.

 

USING PR TO LAUNCH A NEW PRODUCT

If your brand is ready to launch a new product, PR should be a part of your plans. Simple.

Product launches are often obvious opportunities for brands to secure good, quality coverage. So, it’s crucial to manage announcements correctly. You’ve worked hard and now you want to shout it from rooftops. Trust me, we get it.

Here at Open Comms, we have mastered the art of pushing new products onto customer radars through PR. It’s what we’ve been doing for over a decade.

  1. The importance of ‘Media Relations’ when using PR to launch a product

Media Relations is a critical function of PR. In particular when launching a new product to market.

As an experienced team of PR professionals, we collectively liaise with hundreds of journalists and key industry contacts on a daily basis. It simply comes with the job. Over time these interactions with the media become strong relationships. This is ultimately what our clients benefit most from. Here’s how:

  • Journalists are more receptive if they know you

Journalists are busy people, and it’s certainly reflected in their inboxes. The likelihood of them seeing a pitch, let alone replying to one, is slim to none. That is unless they know the sender and have worked with them in the past.

This is exactly why building and nurturing a mutually beneficial relationship with journalists is so important. Ultimately, the journalist should view a PR professional as a useful source of knowledge not a waste of time.

  • Tight deadlines can mean more exposure to last-minute opportunities

Journalists, reporters and the media in general work on extremely tight deadlines. This usually means that they will reach out to PR pro’s that they have a working relationship with.

Having an established rapport with key contacts in the media, be it print, online, broadcast or social media ensures that our clients’ new products and or services are always put forward for exclusive opportunities. These are not always available to others.

  • Bespoke approach when pitching to different media

When pitching to media it’s imperative that you understand what type of content appeals to them most.

When it comes to launches, consumer writers for example are predominantly interested in the product. Whereas journalists from national newspapers want more detail and possibly even a comment from the brand.

Knowing this information makes all the difference. However, this can only be achieved when you have extensive knowledge of the contact you are targeting.

  1. How influencer marketing can support PR with product launches

Influencer marketing is a powerful tool so much so that the industry is on track to be worth up to $15 billion by 2022.

With a community of devoted followers at their disposal, influencers are a great way to launch a new product. Recent research even suggests some consumers trust influencers more than friends. Here’s why:

  • Influencers are deemed trustworthy by their followers

People are more likely to believe in a product when someone who they trust endorses it.

  • Influencers create authentic content

Influencers often personalise the content which they share. This is so that it’s relevant to their unique style and resonates with their followers, which traditional advertising cannot do.

  • Influencers are usually considered experts in their field

Influencers usually have a status of expertise in a specific area. Meaning if a brand is promoted by them, it instantly gains a sense of credibility.

  1. How competitions and giveaways accompany PR when launching a new product

Competitions and giveaways are an effective way to reach a large number of people in a short amount of time. Particularly when using PR to launch a new product. They can either be placed with media titles and or influencers, print and or online.

In addition to gaining exposure among relevant audiences, competitions and giveaways can often incentivise people to follow or interact with a brand and its product. Essentially, when it comes to launching a new product, this is a great tool to drive awareness, spark up a conservation and create a buzz.

Using PR to launch a new product just makes sense. There is certainly no point in spending huge amounts of time and resources in developing a new product and then under-investing in its launch. That would make no commercial or common sense at all.

If your brand is ready to shout about a new product launch, we’re here to help. Why not give us a call on 01924 862477 or find out more about the services we offer here.

THE REAL VALUE OF EARNED MEDIA

Earned media

When we ask what the real value of earned media is, we first need to clarify what it is. Keeping it simple, earned media is press coverage. This can be in the paper, on the radio or TV. It can be in print or online. Fundamentally, it is content that has been shared by a brand and used by a journalist.

This process is nothing new. In fact, it is often referred to as traditional PR. At Open Comms it is one of the tactics we use as part of the press office function we deliver for clients. We collate all necessary information, find an angle, draft a story and distribute.

Sounds simple but there’s a little more to it than that.  

Interestingly, over recent years, the value of earned content has been a topic for much discussion. There are many benefits to securing coverage and brands are recognising the positive impact this has on business.

Earned media is Editorial

It is important to make it clear, earned media is not advertising.

Earned media is editorial and that means that there is no cost to the journalist or brand to use the article you have supplied. When it comes to advertising a brand will pay for space. With earned media, it is up to the journalist to choose whether to use what has been supplied or not.

As such, with earned media, there is no guarantee of coverage.

Creating Credibility

With coverage comes a perceived credibility. The papers, outlets and platforms that we target are all of a quality that our clients would expect. We don’t send content to anyone and everyone. It’s about being more specific and finding the outlets that an audience will access.

Given that a journalist has to verify the copy and choose to use it, this adds further governance and value to the results.

Real Influence

I was reading 2019 Global Comms Report: ‘the Path to Progress’ by PRWeek and Cision. Within the findings was that 60 per cent of respondents to a survey globally felt that journalists have the most powerful voice of any influencer.

That’s big figures and big news for brands.

When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Much of the information we form our opinions on is first shared by the media. This gives huge power and responsibility to news outlets. It also means that the headlines shared are capturing the attention of the readers and viewers every day.

There is no doubt that the media is a tool to be respected but also accessed. In turn, it isn’t difficult to see the real value in earned media.

Capitalising on Audience Reach

Although the circulations of newspapers may be declining that doesn’t necessarily mean they hold less value. Almost all titles will have a digital version and just like print, they share earned content too.

In fact, when a story is shared in print and online, the reach can be particularly impressive. In some instances, it can reach millions of readers.

Conversely, when you want to communicate with a niche audience, it’s better to speak to a thousand relevant readers than a million that are disengaged. In this instance, we would target a specialist trade media.

The opportunity being that earned media gives you the choice to engage with the most relevant outlets for your audiences.

Harnessing the Value of Earned Media

Many PR’s, ourselves included, would say that earned media is our bread and butter. That isn’t to underestimate its worth. As mentioned above, the results can have a massive impact on the performance of a business.

Just some of the benefits to earned media are as follows:

  • Raising the profile of a business
  • Launching a product
  • Securing share of voice where it matters most
  • Positioning a person or business as an industry expert
  • Gaining credibility as subject matter experts
  • Managing communications throughout a crisis

These are just a handful of the benefits to having a plan in place that will allow you to secure earned media coverage.

Gaining Access to Earned Media

In order to access earned media, and the benefits it will deliver, the first thing to do is to recognise the value in PR. It is, after all, the specialism that is most responsible for earned media. As such, a business should either hire an expert inhouse or work with an agency.

What you need is a plan which outlines the stories that you have to share. They must be relevant and right for each publication. Far too often, journalists will receive content that isn’t relevant or that has no news angle. Not only does this make their job harder, but ours too!

PR has a bad reputation for sharing irrelevant content that has one purpose; to promote a business. While this is often an objective, there as to be a real reason someone wants to read what a client has to say.

Go back to the beginning and question the relevance of each story you have to share. It’s then a case of identifying your target media, drafting the content, securing a good quality picture and distributing.  

As is often the case with PR, it all sounds very straight forward. The challenge comes when you realise there are thousands of brands doing the same. The quality of your content has to compete and secure space, which is often limited.

Calling on the Professionals

With decades of experience between us, we manage earned media for all of our clients. There isn’t a single brand we work with where this isn’t an objective. It is what we do.

If you would like to speak to us about how we would approach this for your business, please do give us a call.

REDIRECTING BUDGETS TO PR FOR SUSTAINABLE RESULTS

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

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

The true power of PR

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

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

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

A team that can be relied upon

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

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

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

A wise investment

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

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

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

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

THE VALUE OF PR AMID OUR ‘NEW NORMAL’

As the country is cautiously moving out of lockdown, the familiar sounds and sights of life before Covid-19 are beginning to return. But as the economy starts to reopen and recover, we must all be vigilant and willing to accept how our ‘new normal’ will reshape society.

The biggest changes will arguably be felt within the business community as many people are now transitioning back to the workplace, albeit a modified version. I suspect, however, that our ‘new normal’ won’t just see alterations in where we work but also in the way we work as well.

Working differently

Fortunately, the Open Comms team quickly adapted a remote working policy in the early stages of the Coronavirus outbreak. In a lot of ways, it has been business as usual.

But managing public relations for a diverse client mix amid a global pandemic doesn’t come without its challenges!

With that being said, I believe that PR will be among the industries that will experience the most adjustments as we move towards our ‘new normal’. Communicating in the relevant and right way must now be put at the top of the agenda.

We are all navigating through a tense time and the margin for error has never been as small. Businesses must adapt and evolve, as must society.

Positive messaging

The Covid-19 crisis has brought the economy to its knees. Unemployment rates are continuing to rise, and the looming threat of a nationwide recession shows no signs of easing. We cannot escape the negativity that has stifled our lives, but once we are out the other side, the lessons we have learned must be remembered as we move forward.

As a PR professional, my experience through this crisis has reaffirmed just how powerful and engaging positive messaging can be. As our client base operates in a range of different sectors, we implemented a bespoke communications plan to navigate each client through the challenges and obstacles they were faced with.

Whether it was implemented through social media, press releases, blog posts or feature-led pieces, we understood that the most efficient way to support each client’s own objectives was through strategic messaging and tone. Our role was to ensure their key stakeholders, employees, customers and partners were frequently updated and were never left with notions of doubt or concern.

Proactive PR

Marketing and PR strategies had to be completely changed when Covid-19 hit our shores. In a very short space of time, a lot had disrupted the marketplace. As the magnitude of the situation become clearer, we all had to react. But the rate of change often proved too difficult for businesses to respond to accordingly.

Upon recognising this, we at Open Comms realised that the most effective PR and marketing campaigns we could provide for our clients had to be proactive. We put our clients in control. Rather than waiting for a story, we set out to create one, which not only helped showcase the services our clients offer but how they can best be utilised during this current climate.

Whether this be regarding specialist funding support, critical communications services or digital and technological innovations, we identified topical trends, tailored specific copy and targeted appropriate media contacts. Again, through this bespoke and strategic approach we were able to maximise the output of content we created.

As we begin to learn what our ‘new normal’ is within the PR industry, the Open Comms team will ensure that taking a proactive approach remains a core element of our services.

As we have throughout this pandemic, we will continue to make certain our clients and the services we offer remain uncompromised during this transitional period. PR has never been such a valuable asset for businesses to use, and the benefits can be transformational.

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 BRAND MESSAGING ACCESSIBLE

Making brand messaging accessible

Open Communications is a PR agency based in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. Working with a range of businesses across a variety of sectors, it is our job to make their brand messaging accessible. This in turn ensures that we secure the results they deserve.

Every brief is different and therefore every approach requires our undivided attention.

The basic principles of PR are to increase the profile of a business and manage its reputation. Easier said than done. We work with a toolkit of tactics to deliver against the objectives that we are set.

Fundamentally, we make sure that our clients’ messaging is accessible to their audiences so they can secure sales and growth.

Where and when

When we receive a brief, we breakdown the objectives so that we can see where we need to communicate and when. This requires us to look at all of the different options that are available to us. This means we can make brand messaging as accessible as possible.

As mentioned, one-size-does-not-fit-all. That is why we handle each client exclusively. We don’t work with brands in competing sectors, so it isn’t as if we have models that can be rolled out. That being said, we do have nearly twelve years of proven results to call upon.

If we are to get the best return on investment for our clients, we need to think about where their audiences are accessing information. This could be a combination of outlets and news sources.

Online or in print

In a world where we are bombarded with content, it would no longer make sense to assume that any audience relies on one medium. Most people find that they have preferred sources and then those that are supplementary.

Some people like to read a newspaper while others rely on radio, TV or social media. This gives them the updates on what is going on in the world where it suits them best.

It is up to us to create a PR strategy that will allow our clients to share their messages across a range of outlets.

Achieving reach

The reason that we consider multiple communications channels is that this gives us the chance to reach the largest audience possible. This doesn’t mean that we expect every client to be mass market. It just means that we can share content and repurpose it so that it can be seen numerous times.

This gives as many people as possible the chance to read it . It also means those that see it have more opportunity to digest it. Furthermore, when a message is shared consistently, it allows a brand to educate an audience about their products and services.

Being specific

Although the purpose is to reach the largest audience, they still have to be relevant and right. In some cases, choosing a niche outlet with thousands of readers, visitors or followers will be far more useful than an outlet with millions.

The rationale behind this is that to communicate with those that resonate will have a stronger impact. So, the likelihood of a piece of content leading to an action is far more likely.

PR is used to share stories about a brand or business that give consumers the information they need to make informed decisions. Choosing the right combination of relevant outlets will enhance results and return on investment.

Complementary channels

Being specific about the audience, message and channel may be the perfect combination but ensuring these are complementary is also a factor. There is no point in targeting consumer media but then sharing the same messaging on business to business or trade channels.

The point is to make sure that the messages shared are done so in the right way. This requires thought about language and tone of voice. Although you may be sharing the same message, it will be done so differently across consumer and business to business mediums.

PR is like a complicated jigsaw or puzzle. Getting all of the elements right can be a struggle but once you get there the results will follow.

Frequency and consistency

Making messaging accessible isn’t as simple as people may first think. There are a number of elements to take into account. In addition to those shared above, the frequency and consistency of the communications needs to be agreed.

There is a fine balance between providing opportunity for the audience to see and share a message and creating brand fatigue. A PR strategy should take this into account; providing a clear timeline for when and where to communicate in order to reach the relevant audience is a good starting point.

For further help with how you can ensure your brand messages are accessible, call Open Communications on tel. 01924 862477 or email info@opencomms.co.uk

WHAT IS A CONTENT STRATEGY?

Creating a content strategy

As with many phrases that are industry specific, people often ask us what is a content strategy? The simple answer is that it is a plan which supports what information you will share, where and with whom.

There is a misconception that marketing and communication for a business is easy. You simply talk to the right people, at the right time and in the right place. Ok. In principle that is correct. In practice it takes a great deal more thought, time and effort than that.

Audience mapping

The first challenge is to define your audience groups. This can be more difficult than it initially appears. The reality being that once you are honest about who your customers are, the rest will follow.

Knowing who is purchasing your product or service is key. This doesn’t mean that this will be your audience forever. It is possible to have a captive audience, preferred target and aspirational community.

This is where PR can be really beneficial.

You see, nothing is fixed. The idea that you put together a plan and that it never changes would be absurd to anyone working in the specialism. Much of what we do is about test and measure. Even when you get the results you are looking for the strategy will need tweaking to make sure the plan evolves alongside the business.

Getting the messaging right

The next step in preparing a content strategy is getting the message right. Consistency is really important if what you want your communications to resonate with your audience. Keep it simple. Don’t overcomplicate what you are trying to say to sound intelligent.

This is one of the most common pitfalls with companies that want to engage with their prospects. The belief is that using big words and jargon-laden phrases will impress. The truth is that people don’t have the time to digest what you are trying to say.

Getting straight to the point and showcasing expertise in the examples you share will work far better than writing like you have swallowed a thesaurus.

Choosing the medium

We have more opportunity to communicate than ever before. As well as printed marketing materials and company websites, we also have newspapers, broadcast (TV and radio) and social media channels.

The trick is to identify what mediums your audience(s) will be most likely to access on a regular basis.

Putting your message in the right place is what makes PR so powerful. It allows you to speak directly to those that you hope will buy your product.

Going back to mapping, think very carefully about where to put your energies. Businesses can find PR overwhelming because there is so much to do. Breaking this down into bite-sized chunks and being honest about where your customers access information will make life simpler.

Timings  

Timing is critical when it comes to getting the best results from PR. If you have a product that you sell directly to consumers, then you may want to consider how soon you can make announcements about new products.

With some of the clients we work with, we are planning more than six months in advance. It seems inconceivable but in February we are planning for Halloween and Christmas. This is because consumer publications work so far in advance.

With business to business, it’s essential that you keep abreast of the wider media agenda. Even local events that are taking place could command space within a newspaper that may otherwise have been allocated to your story.

Think about what is happening, key dates throughout the year and the local and wider media agenda. Identify the times that would give you the best opportunities to share your message with the right people.

Don’t choose those that will be most popular. All you will do is make your job harder than it needs to be. Think about your angle, the news you want to share and then draft the content for that specific medium with your audience in mind.

Pulling the plan together

Once you have covered the above, it’s time to pull it all together. This is where you start to see a content strategy unfold.

There is no need to purchase expensive software or to find impressive charts. Use an excel document with relevant columns; audience, message, medium and timings throughout the year.

Once you have populated your spreadsheet, you can identify any gaps. This will give you the chance to think carefully about what you want to do in this space. It may be that greater thought needs to be given to this or that it is a longer-term objective.

The devil is in the detail

Content strategies will evolve quickly. You will see what your audience is most receptive to and you can do more of that. Equally, you will see what they choose to ignore, and the time spent on this can be redirected accordingly.

Make sure to review your content strategy regularly, then you know you have a document you can work from that will deliver results.

Alternatively, call an agency and get the professional help and support that you need. PR may not be a dark art, but it is an essential and business critical tool for those that want to succeed and expand.

USING LINKEDIN TO BENEFIT BUSINESS

Using LinkedIn to benefit business

I have been a fan of LinkedIn for some time now and use it to benefit our business. I like that it is for business and that this target audience has remained consistent. There is no ambiguity or trying to be all things to all people, it is a platform to communicate with professionals. 

It’s fair to say that the functionality hasn’t always been the best. Some of the updates have been infuriating at best and damn right irritating at worst. However, it has remained a space to share, discuss and debate.

As a business owner, I find LinkedIn is a community of people that I can trust. Given that you have to accept a request to connect, I can take ownership of those I want to converse with. As each person has a profile with a biog, I can have further confidence they are the right contacts for me.

Using LinkedIn to benefit business

I was once in a meeting with a client and suggested they update their LinkedIn profile. They were a little hesitant at first, but after explaining that they could connect with people they wanted to reach more easily, they agreed.

After a few updates, an appropriate picture and some keywords we were done. It took around half an hour. Before the end of the meeting, the client had six new contacts and a meeting in the diary.

LinkedIn isn’t difficult to use. It takes time and that is where most people lose interest. They don’t see the value in spending hours scrolling through content or uploading posts.

The truth is, you don’t have to.

Set aside half an hour each day to review the content your contacts have shared and when it’s appropriate to do so, share your own updates. It may be a link to an article you found interesting or some good news about your business.

Keeping it simple

As with most social platforms, keeping it simple will give others the time to read and digest your updates. It’s then up to them whether they then share, like or scroll on from that post.

Adding imagery will always attract more interest, so a good picture is certainly worthwhile.

We often come across companies that don’t feel they have the right content to share on LinkedIn. In this instance, I always suggest looking at the personalities in the business. There are often characters that have a story to share in an organisation, but too often they remain behind closed doors.

LinkedIn is a perfect platform to provide an insight into those that keep the operation going; whether it be the cleaner, driver, machine operator, finance director or MD. Everyone has something to offer.

Shared interests  

One of the easiest ways to find people with shared interests is to look in groups. These are sub-communities that have been set up. You can scroll through and find those that are most relevant.

In my case, it is often those specific to PR or to communications. I am also involved with the Yorkshire Mafia too. A group that was set up by a client some years ago and now has more than 23,000 members.

With groups you know that the people you are engaging with, and the topics they are likely to discuss, will be of interest. If they aren’t, simply leave the group and find another that you feel is better equipped with content that you can read and share.

Creating credible copy

One of the functions of LinkedIn is the ability to share articles from a personal account. As a writer, I find this really valuable. For me, this is an opportunity to share my knowledge and experience. It gives people the confidence to know that I have delivered results for my clients and I know what I’m talking about.

The beauty of articles is also that you can see how many people have engaged with that piece of content. This then allows you to extend your audience reach. If someone shares an article or tags another contact into it, then it will be seen by their contacts too.

I once wrote an article about being a business in Wakefield. It took me around half an hour to write and reached hundreds of people. It also gave my connections an insight into the reasons we chose the city as the location for our company and by association, any local companies were reminded we were there.

Attracting talent

Company pages on LinkedIn are a great way to attract talent. This is one of the reasons that recruiters spend so much money with the platform. It is a great way to identify those that are at the top of their game.

Professionals that use LinkedIn well are also those that will attract attention from companies. As a business, we use LinkedIn to identify potential candidates for roles that we have. It makes sense. Irrelevant of how long you have been in the industry, keeping your online CV up to date is essential.

When I worked for other agencies, I was approached on numerous occasions thanks to my LinkedIn profile. Now it’s more about extending my community online, but the same theory applies. Keeping my experience and content up to date means people know more about me before sending an invite to connect.

Don’t be dismissive

Creating a LinkedIn profile is just the start. Keeping it up to date is what matters most. Don’t create an account for it to become dormant. It will do you more harm than good.

Set aside some time that is dedicated to your communications. It’s easier said than done I know, but it is important. Friday afternoons are often an opportunity for people to review their online profile and to share an update.

However, or whenever you choose to review and update the important point is that you do it. No excuses and no assumption that it doesn’t really matter. Communications are business critical. This is a chance to showcase your skills and experience to the world. That isn’t something to be dismissive about.

Relevance

Remember, LinkedIn is for business. There are the odd occasions that this line is blurred, however best practice is to keep personal off this platform.

To make updates more manageable, have LinkedIn at the back of your mind. As well as sharing links to news updates, think differently about the stories you hear in the office. If it is relevant and appropriate, then spend five minutes putting together a short post to share with a picture.

You will be surprised at the engagement you get from office-based posts. These are often the updates that receive most likes or shares. The reason being that they provide an insight behind closed doors and they add personality.

People are intrigued by business. They probably know what products you sell, and they could go to the website for further info’, but who is involved is a different matter. Some of our clients do this very well and have huge success from sharing short stories from staff.

Test and measure

As I said at the start of this post, I am a huge advocate of LinkedIn. I always recommend to my clients that they update their profile and that they use company pages where it is appropriate and will add value.

If you are hesitant, then test and measure. The benefits of social channels are that they are cost effective. There is no cash investment required to set up a basic LinkedIn page – professional or company.

As such, it is worth setting up a profile and seeing who you can connect with. I think you might be pleasantly surprised.