Tag: brands

HOW IGNORING PR CAN BE DAMAGING TO YOUR BUSINESS

PR can have a transformational impact on businesses of any size, yet there remains an outdated and unfounded stigma around the value and results that it can deliver.

It goes without saying that communication is critical in the current marketplace. The success of any organisation largely depends on how it engages with its target audience, whether its towards the customer, client, employee or stakeholder.

This is exactly what PR professionals do!

As an agency, we form trusted partnerships with our clients to deliver strategic communications that meet with business objectives. This could be sharing key messages with the masses or more specific and targeted campaigns.

The one consistent factor is that our results speak for themselves.

In a nutshell, we increase brand awareness, help launch new services and products to market, enhance company or individual reputations to help them to become more commercially viable. When combined, the delivery of our services ultimately helps clients to achieve business goals.

Without a robust PR and marketing strategy, businesses are at risk of putting themselves at a disadvantage within the marketplace and losing all visibility with current and prospective customers.

In order to elaborate further, I’ve chosen just three outputs from PR that businesses will find hard to achieve unless they invest in professional services.

Media coverage

Sitting at the heart of PR is securing media coverage. Communications professionals form and develop lasting relationships with a vast number of contacts and journalists. Despite how specific or niche a market may be, members of press, publications and influencers can be targeted to help generate positive publicity for a particular business.

As there is an abundance of ways to digest news, both in print and digital, PR professionals will use their experience and expertise to approach the media with a story that is newsworthy and relevant. The idea being that it is then featured in regional, national or trade publications.

Once media coverage has been secured, it can then be leveraged to increase brand awareness, create a positive public perception and act as a useful platform to promote the launch of new products and services.

Without any investment in PR, businesses are likely to lose this opportunity and as a result fail to be recognised as a legitimate competitor within a specific marketplace.

Social media activity

Social media channels have now established themselves as the digital high street for many businesses. Now more than ever, a greater amount of attention needs to be given to these platforms as they are arguably the first place that target audiences will visit.

In other words, social media channels must give off a good first impression!

Whether it is Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn, businesses need to use each channel to serve a purpose, whether this is showcasing new services or products, promoting brand identity or sharing critical company announcements. They need to act as a reliable and relevant communication resource.

This can be achieved by building the credibility of all platforms, which need to garner a strong following from relevant and influential businesspeople, members of the media, industry counterparts or new and existing clients.

As followers increase, so will the levels of engagement with different posts. This is especially useful when sharing media coverage as it can help significantly increase the amount of people who read about the positive news a company has to share. Thus, increasing brand awareness.

By investing in PR, businesses can ensure that each channel is managed by a team of specialists who understand what type of content should be posted and when. This will enable social media platforms to be used as useful tools to help businesses build towards achieving wider growth ambitions.

Crisis management

Although crisis scenarios are thankfully rare for most, businesses must ensure they have the capability to deal with a problem if one were to ever arise. Whether this be a corporate, public, or internal issue or incident, how this is handled can be make or break for businesses.

Reputation is everything within the marketplace, and once this is destroyed, recovery can be almost impossible!

The most effective way to combat these types of situations is having an experienced crisis management team in place. This forms a big part of the PR toolkit. Communications professionals can explore and identify potential situations that could cause irreversible harm to a brand or business. This is combatted by the implementation of proactive PR strategy.

Despite how prepared the team may be, crisis’ can also occur with no warning at all. This is exactly why it is critical to have a capable team ready to tackle and resolve these issues with minimal collateral damage.

Navigating through these sensitive situations without profession PR support could spell disaster for a business. Damage to brand reputation will have a devastating impact that can never be fixed. The question perhaps therefore is not can you afford PR, but can your business survive and thrive without it?

Investing in public relations is critical to the success of any organisation, now is the time to take action and let PR do the talking.

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.

BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL BRAND

Every day we count our lucky stars knowing that we work with a host of amazing businesses across diverse industries including automotive, recruitment, digital, food manufacturing, architecture and third sector.

Despite our clients operating in such distinct areas, they all have one thing in common; not only do they know how to build a successful brand, they also understand how to maintain that success.

What’s great is that we get to support these organisations and to celebrate their ongoing achievements.

Establishing values

At the start of any brand journey, it’s vital to sit down and think about the bigger picture.

What inspired you to offer your particular product or service? Is there a passion that drives your organisation forward? What issues are important to your business? Which common traits describe your team?

Only with these points addressed can a business truly live, breathe and begin to present a cohesive approach which effectively communicates the brand and its values.

Identifying a brand ‘voice’

Once a company has pinpointed its underlying values, it’s a good time to begin forming a brand voice.

Brainstorming a collection of words which feel ‘right’ is a useful way to start the process. With a bank of vocabulary in place, this can be used as a basis for press releases, website copy and a social media schedule.

Adopting a style of communication which is unique to your business is a great way to add some personality and to give a point of difference which will allow a brand to stand out from the crowd.

A catchy, concise positioning statement

If you could use only one sentence to explain your business, what would it be?

Taking the time to craft a crisp positioning statement which encompasses all that your organisation delivers will help consumers and other businesses to quickly become familiar with the product or service that you offer.

Hierarchy of messaging

With your overarching statement perfected, what other key messages would you like to share about your company?

Perhaps what sets your offering apart is the fact that it is organic, eco-friendly or addresses a problem which has yet to be solved.

Identifying three or four main points will ensure that future communications are prioritised correctly, focusing on the elements which are most important about your product or service.

Authenticity

In today’s world, consumers are savvier than ever. With access to a company’s website, social platforms and any news articles at the touch of a button, it’s important that a brand remains authentic in its approach.

For instance, it’s no good positioning a business as caring about the planet and then using unsustainable materials within the manufacturing process. With social media and on pack guidelines someone will notice, and it could spell a make or break situation for your organisation.

Instead, an honest and open approach which is in line with brand values, is a sure way to build up consumer trust and loyalty.

Right message, right place, right time

In short, it all comes down to communicating key messages to the right people, in the right places and at the right time.

Getting this process correct is imperative if your organisation is to reach its full potential. Here at Open Comms, our guidance has helped a range of leading businesses to build a successful brand.

We’d love to chat about our recommendations for your organisation. With the right support, you could be joining our award-winning clients and celebrating your achievements throughout 2020. For further information, simply give us a call on 01924 862477 or browse our website to learn more.

HOW TO PICK THE RIGHT INFLUENCER FOR YOUR BRAND

It is common knowledge that leveraging influencers can help drive brand awareness and reach a wider audience. But the process of selecting the ‘right’ influencer is not an easy task.

Amongst the clutter and noise on social media, it is becoming increasing difficult to recognise credible influencers who can truly add value to a business. And while influencer marketing can be a great strategy to strengthen a brands online presence, when done incorrectly it can also have detrimental effects.

So, before diving into the lucrative world of #sponsored posts, here is a 3-step guide that can help ease the process.

 

1 – Recognise the different types of influencers available

The internet is home to a plethora of social media superstars. Before agreeing to work with any of them, take the time to understand the different types of influencers available.

Typically, influencers are categorised based on the number of followers they have.

Mega-influencers: 1M+ Followers

Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Selena Gomez, are all examples of mega-influencers. They are established celebrities who can help your brand gain recognition on a global scale. Of course, they demand a hefty fee, with some charging upwards of £800,000 per sponsored post.

Macro-influencers: 100K – 1M Followers

Usually macro-influencers are those that gained recognition through the internet itself. Such as vloggers and bloggers who rose to fame by building a follower base over time. Similar to mega-influencers, they can be very expensive to work with. But for businesses with a substantial marketing budget this is an effective way to increase brand awareness to a mass market FAST.

Micro-influencers: 1K – 100K Followers

A micro-influencer as opposed to others has a significantly lower number of followers. Typically, they focus on a specific niche and so are more suited for brands that want to target a certain type of customer. Unlike the other two, micro-influencers charge considerably less and maintain an extremely loyal fan base.

Nano-influencers: Less than 1K Followers

They are comparable to a start-up business. This type of influencer tends to have very little to no experience of working with brands. Despite having a small audience, nano-influencers attract a high engagement rate as they are most relatable for consumers. More often than not, they will accept products in return for social media coverage.

 

2 – Check for fake followers

As influencers battle for the social media spotlight, some can be tempted into buying fake followers. This black hat tactic can instantly grow an influencers audience from a few to thousands.

This is a huge problem on Instagram, where advertisement is becoming more and more important. Users can even buy interactions such as likes and comments from fake profiles to give a false impression of high engagement.

Collaborating with influencers whose followers and engagement is not genuine is not only a waste of time but can essentially be detrimental to a brands integrity. Fortunately, there are several online tools and programs available for detecting fakes.

 

3 – Identify any risks and red flags

Followers and engagement play a significant part when identifying the most appropriate influencers for a campaign. But, what’s equally important is reviewing the influencers social media channels to check for any red flags.

In today’s media landscape, nothing is ever private, especially on the internet! This is especially true for influencers who are constantly under the social media microscope. From inappropriate personal thoughts to controversial opinions and pictures, everything is visible.

So, before approaching an influencer, it is absolutely vital to make sure that ALL of their social media channels are thoroughly reviewed, and any risks are immediately identified.

Ultimately, influencers have the power to make or break a brands reputation. Finding the right person is less about who’s trending or has the highest number of followers and more about finding someone who represents your brands personality and values.

 

Influencers are certified social media butterflies and experts in creating engaging content who can help bridge the gap between a brand and its target customers. Working with them is an effective method to drive awareness.

If you are thinking of switching from traditional advertising to influencer collaborations remember to do the leg work and to make the choices that will deliver the value you are expecting.

 

YOU SAY IT BEST WHEN YOU SAY NOTHING AT ALL

It might be a great lyric for a song but when it comes to effectively managing the reputation of a brand saying nothing at all really can do more damage than good.

Don’t let your brand become your best kept secret

There are few feelings that beat getting excited by the achievements of a business, and eleven years on that hasn’t changed for us.

It’s not just about sharing our success as we expand and welcome new members to the team or celebrate our recent relocation back to Wakefield city centre, it’s also the updates we get to write and distribute for our clients too.

Sharing stories, building the profile of a brand, creating copy and content that captures the culture and personality of a business all deliver positive results, but it’s essential that messaging is aligned with behaviour.

Saying one thing and doing another will lead to mistrust and fake news.

Using PR and marketing communications to share the right messages, at the right time and in the right place gives an audience the information they need to make an informed decision. It’s no longer good enough to rely on the products and services that you sell, it’s about the approach you take and reinforcing values.

The conversation is happening without you

When you don’t share any news or insights as a business it doesn’t mean that the conversation isn’t going on without you. The truth is that whether you are engaged or not, people will talk. Social media and online forums give global audiences a platform to share their thoughts every minute of every day – literally.

Monitoring these conversations to make sure the comments made about your brand and business are correct and factual is as important as watching your cashflow. Ignoring references that are made online does not mean they will go away, often it can lead to the opposite.

No one is saying that you have to review every social media channel all of the time but checking what is being said is good practice and will keep you abreast of customer comments and complaints.

Building an employer brand

Some companies believe that informing the market that you have the best talent will lead to them being contacted by competitors. Firstly, someone can only be poached if they want to be and secondly, try harder to keep them.

Create a culture that attracts candidates and makes them want to work for you and to stay longer-term. Reinforcing how good your workforce is and giving employees credit where it is due is no bad thing and creates a positive atmosphere.

As LinkedIn becomes increasingly popular, remember that your employees can and will use this platform to share their success and achievements. Being an employer that embraces this, liking or reposting these comments, will set an example for others.

In the same way that employees share their success and achievements online, it is important that you remember that others will see this too. Attracting talent is just as important as nurturing those that already work for you, so do both.

Keeping tight-lipped

I’ve never been one to conform to the belief that if you keep quiet then you can be confident that your closely guarded secrets will remain a mystery. Let’s be honest, in most industries people move within the sector and with that comes the harsh reality that some things simply won’t remain under wraps forever.

As such, it’s worth identifying those things that really are secret and should remain that way and others that don’t really require a trip to the legal team for an NDA!

Make the most from your story

We live in a society whereby we are constantly inundated with marketing messages and it’s often the case that the only differentiation between brands is the story that sits behind why a business was launched and how it got to where it is today.

Use your story to appeal to a wider audience and to attract the right customers. Some businesses get this wrong, but many get it right and their success, in part, is as a result of their carefully curated content and images that reflect their brand.

Put some time into deciding how you want to come across to others and invest in the resource you need to make it happen. Even if you aren’t sure, the benefit of PR is that you can test and measure, but give it time, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither way a globally recognised brand.

WHY SUCH THE LONG FACE…

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I was really pleased to wake up earlier in the week to some light-hearted news; the announcement that Ken Cheng was named winner of the 10th Annual Dave’s Joke of the Fringe competition with his one-liner about a pound coin.

For those who missed it: “I’m not a fan of the new pound coin, but then again, I hate all change.”

It wasn’t so much the joke in isolation that made my day, in fact, I think others in the list were arguably more deserved, it was just refreshing to have something less depressing to focus on than has been the case of late.

As someone who works with the media, the first thing I do is put the television on when I wake up to catch the national BBC news. I then wait for the regional updates before hopping in the car whereby I listen to BBC Radio 2. Once I get to my desk, I start with the online bulletins that I receive through email and then it’s onto the papers.

By this time, as you imagine, I often feel the need for a strong coffee before I can even think about embarking on the to do list.

Knock, knock…

Of course, PR isn’t really this depressing, we are very fortunate to work on some amazing campaigns and with some fantastic brands. Interestingly, the briefs that we receive often ask that we focus on the experience that a consumer will receive as the result of engaging with a brand or an activation.

I’m somewhat embarrassed to say that I have never been to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival but I would love to go along. The reports have been amazing and I honestly think that as a professional working in the creative sector, it would do me good.

I think we all need to step away from our day to day lives sometime and to let our imaginations run wild. All too often we get stuck behind a desk or embroiled in process and what we really should be doing is sitting back and thinking like children with no barriers or limitations.

There’s no doubt then that many agencies focus on humour. The one thing that makes people feel good is a real giggle. There is no better feeling than laughing so hard you can’t stop and you don’t know why.

Personally, I love a good knock, knock joke from a young relative, not least because more often than not it takes three attempts and we’ve heard it all before!  

Now, for a brand to achieve this feeling would be something short of a miracle, but when humour is done well there is no doubt that it captures the imagination and it engages people in a way that is becoming increasingly challenging for brands. 

Why did the chicken cross the road…

The stumbling block is typically the same time and time again, agencies try too hard. Rather than keeping it simple, like the one-liners used at the Fringe, creatives come up with concepts that are too convoluted and dare I say it, clever.

What’s so wrong with a simple ‘Why did the chicken cross the road’ gag? Ok, perhaps we need to try a little bit harder.

But, we also need to remember that people don’t have time to stop, think, digest and laugh, it just isn’t going to happen. It has to be quick and as close to spontaneous as is possible. See what I mean about the challenge? Then of course there is the fact that humour is very subjective; something that one person openly guffaws at may have someone else cringing.

Take some of the jokes that are listed; there are without doubt a few that any responsible agency (please notice I didn’t say boring!) would never, ever go near. There is a very real line and although some brands push the boundaries, even they would be hard pressed to think these would be appropriate.

And so, I think there are lessons that we can all learn from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, not least to take a step back, keep it simple and have a laugh. After all, it’s said to be the best medicine and with the ‘summer weather’ this year, I think we’re all in need of a bit of that.

If you want lasting love, don’t fake it!

It’s been a difficult month for journalists and PR’s alike as the news agenda was indefensibly challenged as the sharing of fake news hit the headlines.  

Far be it that this was a one-off incident that could be swept under the carpet with the abrupt resignation of a non-descript recruit from some back office, this was serious. It was creating conversation and debate, and of any profession that should recognise the significance of that, it’s PR.

PR has long had a reputation for manipulating, ‘spinning’ and even inventing news stories in order to secure coverage and encourage positive responses from consumers, so we have to question what has changed and why are people so concerned?

The truth is that people want to trust the news sources that they have long believed to be credible. They want to know that a journalist – or PR – has done their research and has pulled together a balanced article that will allow them to form their own opinions based on fact – not fiction.

The struggle is that we live in a culture whereby people want breaking news. Invariably with this mistakes will happen – but fake news isn’t just about mistakes, it is absolutely about the sharing of content that the journalist, PR or brand knows is false.

It’s lying and often in a bid to manipulate a given response which may have further implications to a wider campaign.

What I have found most troubling is that the term ‘fake news’ is now widely used, referenced and understood. This is really worrying. When we work with clients the first rule is don’t lie, which is swiftly followed by the second and third; don’t suggest that we lie and don’t manipulate the truth.

If you can’t find an angle to a story then the likelihood is that you don’t have one to share.

People are undoubtedly going to become increasingly cynical of news and you can’t really blame them. They are going to question what they should believe and with such an array of sources to collate information from – positive, negative, neutral and all that is in between – it does become mind boggling. 

What we as an industry have to do is to continue to champion good practice. Spin is not a positive term as far as I’m concerned and I have an ongoing joke with a client who uses the insinuation purely to wind me up!

If PR is to be considered a specialism and the profession I certainly believe it to be, then it is our job to showcase why that is the case. We manage the reputations of brands and businesses, so we must be able to change the perception of an industry that without too much trouble is going to get pulled into the gutter.

There are agencies that will do anything for coverage – let’s be honest, we all know that’s the case – but we need to take a stand and to work harder to create good quality stories that people will read and feel informed, enlightened and engaged by.

All we can do is take the facts that our clients give us, but that’s another thing. Work with brands that you trust. It’s just as important that we can be sure of the facts that we are then sharing with a journalist, as it is that the journalist takes that story and prints it or posts it online to thousands of readers with the knowledge it was sent in good faith.

Choosing where you share news is of course another thing. If a PR is going to work with publications or sites that have been consistently discredited, then you can’t expect that they will share the content that you have given them without adding their own inflection to the piece. 

We are surrounded by content at every turn; from our TV or radios when we get up, to newspapers and our phones or iPads and that’s even before we get to work. What we should do as individuals is to remember that despite some misguided beliefs, not everything you read in the news is the truth.

Most brands are aspiring for the holy grail of results – brand loyalty and you simply will not get that if you lie. It’s a pretty simple concept really, if you want lasting love, don’t fake it!

Once upon a time, not too long ago…

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We love a good story here at Open Comms, there’s nothing like adding a bit of imagination to something that might appear at first to be bland and boring but end up being super exciting! As a gaggle of girls that write for a living, National Storytelling Week is always a hot topic in the office. 

After much discussion we decided we couldn’t let this annual occasion pass us by without at least trying to add our own little contribution – however insignificant. At Open Comms we like to get involved, so I thought we would share a short story…

Once upon a time, not so long ago, there were two friends. After years and years and years of working in big grey office blocks for other people, they decided that they wanted to do things differently and to turn the wacky world of PR on its head!

No more air kissing, no more lunches, no more fizzy pop – more exciting campaign ideas, working with clients rather than for them, getting excited by results, sharing success, getting the job done and doing it well… Oh, and most importantly, being open and honest.

Could it ever work? It was a new approach, people were used to doing things the same old way. It was a risk.

Talking to the exciting businesses based in Yorkshire it appeared that there were some companies that wanted to try out this new way of working. They didn’t really like the lunches or the regular increase in fees that they weren’t expecting. Who knew? 

Both ladies liked to write stories and to come up with super exciting and creative ways of sharing news, and so they launched Open Communications.

With just two small desks, two phone lines and a jar of coffee, they started to ring companies that had similar values and within no time at all they were working with some fantastic brands and businesses.

Fast forward just a few years, and then a few more, and with lots and lots of amazing results and too many fun-filled campaigns to fit into one short story, the two ladies are now five and they all enjoy the same things – working with great brands and businesses in Yorkshire.

The ladies are massive champions of the Wakefield district and they still like to do things exactly the same way they did way back when. They like to be honest and open, to be straight talking and to create relationships that last a long time – after all, no one likes falling out!

And so, the story is far from over. Open Comms continues to come up with campaigns that include anything from a giant Halloween door to a family picnic activation zone or the launch of a business that produces the most rail tickets in the country to a car headlamp that is the whitest on the market.

Every day is a new adventure at Open and that is what makes it so exciting. So, if you’re looking for an agency that doesn’t take itself too seriously and you want to be a part of the next chapter in this ongoing story, then give us a shout. The kettle is always on and when you work with Open its always story time.   

Never underestimate real talent

I’m somewhat ashamed to say that following the London Olympics in 2012 I was relieved to turn my TV back to my normal viewing and didn’t give a second thought to the Paralympics. It wasn’t that I didn’t care as such, or that I didn’t think the talents of these athletes needed support, it was just that it didn’t really register with me.

This year, however, is a totally different situation and much of it, I believe, is down to The Last Leg and Claire Balding. I make no secret of the fact that I love The Last Leg, it is one of few programmes that can effectively debate really serious global issues with humour, and Claire Blading is a great example of a presenter that manages to be both professional and personable while having an edge.

I also commend Claire for providing some continuity as she chose to go from presenting the Olympic Games to the Paralympic Games despite the channel change – I’m sure a pay cheque was involved along the way, but it has given further credibility to the coverage none-the-less.

Thanks to the way in which Channel 4 have taken the Paralympics, added some personality and made it a ‘must watch’, for the first time that I can remember people are discussing how many medals we have won and sharing details of the athletes that are competing each day.

Jonny Vegas may not have been an obvious choice where athletics and elite sportsmen and women are concerned but he’s added a comedy to the Games that otherwise wouldn’t have been there. Nominated to get the crowds going, he has shown his stomach painted as a Union Jack, handed out shower caps and screamed with delight throughout each event.

What better way to champion our Paralympic athletes than by celebrating in the only way he knows how – with real gusto! Like a true Brit on tour, he’s had people chanting, singing and dancing and it hasn’t always been in support of England with him cheering on Jamaica despite them turning in a less than medal winning performance.

And perhaps that’s part of the appeal. The Paralympic Games aren’t taking themselves too seriously. It’s not that the athletes don’t deserve the commendation or the support they have received – quite the opposite in fact – but what has become apparent is that these sportsmen and women have personalities and they are ‘real people’ beyond their chosen events.

Like any athletes they have dedicated their lives to training, they are elite, they are the best, they are of a gold winning standard but they are also husbands, wives, sons, daughters, dads, mothers and friends.

I would like to think that what Channel 4 have successfully done is two-fold; they have raised the profile of the Paralympic Games to a mass market, allowing people to feel involved and showcasing how inclusive it can be – something that I feel has previously been notable in its absence – and they have created opportunities for these athletes to secure sponsorship from brands, an essential consideration for their future careers.

For once, I can see Paralympic athletes being just as appealing to brands as Olympians and rightly so. If you work hard to become the best and you dedicate your life to taking part in a tournament that will see you represent your country you deserve something back.

So, which brands will be the first to take to the podium and to give something back to these amazing individuals? Who knows, we might even have a sports personality of the year within the Paralympic Team GB. Let’s be honest, much stranger things have happened.

We’re still specialists without specialising

We are very fortunate to work with a real variety of organisations. As an agency we made a decision before launching that we would never work with two businesses in a competing sector, the reasons to us were obvious; the client paying you the highest fee would get the best opportunities and irrelevant of confidentiality agreements, sometimes ‘just knowing’ too much is uncomfortable.

This has brought about its problems of course, not least being asked to work for two of the UK’s largest brands in their respective categories only to have to turn around and decline the opportunities as we were already working with competing brands. Still, great problem to have!

Building on this, in recent years we have had a number of approaches from prospective clients asking if we ‘specialise’ in a given sector. We have been privileged to work with a wide range of businesses and each time we take on an account we research their sector to provide us with the greatest understanding possible.

Take the Coalfields Regeneration Trust as an example, or Nigel Tooby photography, I hadn’t worked with a charity that focuses on coalfields communities before and despite coincidentally living in a former mining village, wasn’t aware of the work the organisation was involved with. Similarly I am not a contemporary art enthusiast so had no background about Nigel or his exhibitions.

We still work with both clients and secure results every month for them. The fact that we didn’t specialise in their particular market hasn’t in anyway had a negative effect on our activity, in fact the truth is that we are specialists in them – not their sectors per se.

And that is what I think is important.

Of course you need to have some understanding of the markets that you are working in but what is absolutely essential when you support a brand as a communications expert is to know them inside and out.

Sharing their messaging and values is what we are tasked to do in order to support and build their reputation and that is why we always reiterate that we work as an extension of our clients teams, without this approach it would be impossible.

Like most agencies we surround ourselves with market news that is relevant to our clients, subscribing to RSS feeds, google alerts, trade magazines and media monitoring tools to ensure we are up to date with any changes in policy or breaking announcements.

Some agencies argue that to be sector specific means that you can draft copy which is more technical, using terminology that is relevant to the industry but as communications experts it is our job to learn that. It is no different to adapting to a house style or pitching to a new publication – you do your research and get on with it.

Having worked in the PR sector for years, there is no doubt that we use previous experiences to our advantage but my argument is always the same – we specialise in PR and we specialise in our clients, which therefore makes us specialists, whatever sector you work in.

So the next time someone asks me if we specialise, I will be giving them a very simple answer, yes!

An audience that is seen but not heard

It’s always surprising to find that when it comes to strategic communication businesses completely discard an audience that should be made up of its most loyal followers; it’s employees.

It is very rare that we receive a PR brief which makes specific reference to internal communications, unless it includes a newsletter or the updating of an intranet service. So, why is it that brands which invest thousands of pounds into managing their most precious asset – their reputation – don’t consider their biggest advocates as a key audience?

Well, it’s simple really. Employees are, in some businesses at least, seen and not heard. In times where offices are busier, customers want more and time is ever of the essence, it is fair to suggest that the easiest audience to ‘ignore’ or push to one side would be those who are closest.

It’s like anything, when you have a task to do that is for your own brand or business you leave it until ‘later’ but later, like tomorrow, never seems to come.

We work with companies of all sizes to explain the importance of internal communications, and to explain why investing in this audience should become part of an organisations wider business strategy if they want to really succeed. Employees make a business, and they add to the personality of a brand, which is the one thing that competitors cannot replicate.

When you think about some brands and the experience that you have had, it won’t be the owner of that company that has given you that impression – good or bad – but the person that you deal with when you come into contact with that business. In most instances, when you think about leading global brands you will have no idea what the owner even looks like; what you are likely refer to is people you know who work for that company, or the attitude of the person who last called you from that particular business.

The simple truth is if you don’t invest in your team, whether they are customer facing or not, you can’t expect them to then share the positive values of your business with others.  What will they be saying when they are down the pub with their mates or updating their latest Facebook post? What are they tweeting about and if it references your business, is it likely to be positive? It’s certainly worth considering in an age of ‘sharing’ content and expressing opinion.

Employees are an essential asset to any business, not just bums on seats. Perhaps it’s time that we all took a step back, considered those who should matter most and enthused them to want to share the good things about the company that they have chosen to work for.

Putting together an internal communications campaign, which educates and engages your staff, could give you the best return on investment of any marketing activity you have planned for 2014.