Tag: Business

WHY PR BELONGS AROUND THE BOARDROOM TABLE

PR deserves a place around the boardroom table

When I first started my career, it was almost unheard of that PR would be represented around the boardroom table. Over the years I’m pleased that in the most part this has been addressed. In this blog, we explore why PR belongs around the boardroom table.

Reputation is the most important asset a company has at its disposal. It can be used to the advantage of an organisation or ignored to the detriment of that brand. The choice lies firmly with the business.

PR is the specialism that ties firmly into the management of that asset.

Establish

When a company launches, it is now common practice for a business to invest in PR. It may be for a one-off project or for a more sustained period. The latter will always deliver stronger results, but it isn’t always possible for every organisation to recognise this from the outset.

The idea behind establishing a brand is to communicate with an audience that will become receptive to its message. How a company chooses to do this is up to them. The approach can be different every time, but the objective remains the same; to educate prospective customers about a product or service.

When we think about how important this one piece of work is, we start to appreciate why these decisions need to be made by senior managers. We are relying on a team of experts to communicate effectively with the chosen audience and in turn evoke a response.

Customers are essential for business. You wouldn’t leave that level of responsibility with just anyone. There is a huge emphasis on trust. As such, the person leading this team needs a seat around the boardroom table.

Maintain

Once a brand has been established, it needs to be maintained. We cannot expect that communicating once with an audience will ever be good enough. In a world where there are marketing messages surrounding us all, we need to gain cut through.

Consistency is fundamental at this stage of the process. Having a clear plan that will give a brand the opportunity to share updates, news and further launches will keep an audience interested. As well as attracting new prospective customers, it’s also about building affinity and resonance with those that have purchased.

The journey with PR never ends. It may take slightly different directions however the idea is to take your customers with you. Brands that create real loyalty are those that do this the best. They are also the ones that recognise the value of PR and its role around the boardroom table.

Build

Brand building comes in many forms. It could be about retaining a fresh image and using current language in all communications. In this example, we are referring to PR and the use of a sustainable plan to build a brand over time.

Having a schedule of activity will allow any company to test an idea, measure the results and review. The beauty of PR is that it evolves over time. Any plan can change at the drop of a hat, so flexibility and being agile is key.

The hardest brands to work with are those that don’t really understand PR or what it is used for. It’s those that consider it to be a ‘nice to have’. Anything that is a nice to have is never going to be a priority and PR should be.

For businesses of all sizes, to manage your communications should be an objective. As well as using media relations and content to educate an audience, PR can also be used during a crisis. This is when companies see the immediate value. It shouldn’t come to that.

Establishing, maintaining and building a reputation 

Establishing, maintaining and building a reputation are all skills that will allow a business to become a success it deserves to be. Having the person or team responsible for that around the boardroom table makes perfect sense.

PR should be considered as important as finance. A company would never function without some knowledge of where the budgets are going. The same can be said for communications. If you are unaware of who is saying what about your business and to whom, perhaps you only have yourself to blame.

Give PR the place it deserves in your business and see how it benefits your bottom line.

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!

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.

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.

WHAT A BRAND CAN EXPECT FROM PR

What a brand can expect from PR

The most common question we get asked, is what a brand can expect from PR? It isn’t quite that simple to answer, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some obvious returns. As long as the brief is specific, the objective clear and the budgets available, then you should expect results.

PR isn’t simply about drafting copy and getting it in the paper. It is one tactic, yet not the sum of the whole. When you invest in a PR practitioner or an agency you should set specific objectives. You need to be absolutely clear about what you want to achieve.

Far too often, a company will say that they need PR with no explanation as to why? Knowing what you want as an outcome gives those working on a project or year-round strategy some focus and direction.

Consistent message

PR allows you to share a consistent message, with multiple audiences, across a range of platforms. Depending on how your targets are most likely to find information, a PR will ensure your products feature in that space.

It may be drafting regular press releases that are shared with the media. It may be uploading content to a blog. Sharing engaging updates across social media channels. Providing access to a monthly podcast. Whatever the tactic that is chosen, the focus should always be on sharing a consistent message.

As well as becoming synonymous with a brand, it will mean that this information can be used to educate your audience. They will better understand your products and over time, your business too.

Tone of voice

Deciding on a tone of voice can be a challenge for brands. It can be difficult for someone to think about their business as they would a person. What would it sound like? If you met your product in the pub, what language would it use? How would it choose to interact with others?

Some will think this is a silly ‘game’ and not worth the effort. The reality is that when you see the results from brands that have got it right, it suddenly becomes very worthwhile.

Thinking about the words that you would and would not use. The technical terms and jargon. The approach of being friendly or factual. Considering how a business will come across should not be underestimated.

The best part about getting the tone right, is that once it is there, it will become second nature. It will also appeal to an audience that can resonate with your message. This is incredibly powerful.

Recognition

Again, this is just one tactic, however awards can bring great credibility. They are also an opportunity to celebrate and to claim the recognition you deserve. Too often, companies think of awards as ‘blowing their own trumpet.

In contrast, they are an opportunity for team building and extending thanks to colleagues. I have never in my career had a client be disappointed at winning an award. Not winning, of course. The truth being that if you don’t enter the outcome is only going one way!

The trick is to find the awards that will raise your profile in the right places. They should be delivered by reputable organisations and come with some credibility. Many of these awards have been running for years and are hosted by media companies. They have a phased process of entry, shortlist and event. These are the types of awards we consider for our clients.

If you get a call from an organisation to say you have won something, yet you didn’t enter, think long and hard before you accept. Chances are you will have to pay, and I would question whether the outcome is worth the investment.

Personality

PR gives a business the chance to add some personality. Again, this can be overlooked. People don’t want to buy from faceless brands. They want to better understand those behind the business and what makes them tick.

Adding a back story is always a good idea. It allows an audience to feel that they are more than a purchaser. Overtime, the objective should be to build a community of like-minded followers. Once this is the case, you then have a captive audience to engage with.

It isn’t about sell, sell, sell. Adding some personality to an organisation is a great way to detract from this. We were responsible for some personal posts for Myers Group and they really got to the heart of the business.

The stories that each individual had to share – including the MD’s – were honest and funny! A great combination when this content was shared on the website and across social posts. Not only did they attract attention, but also encouraged engagement.

An audience

Without an audience there will be no sales. Without sales, there is no business!

Identifying targets can be tricky. It isn’t always as simple as to suggest one size that fits all. This is why a mapping exercise will help.

Once you do have your audiences, you can start to communicate with them using PR in a way that will be most receptive.

This is where the beauty of PR really does come out in all its glory. Like many marketing disciplines, PR uses an element of trial and error. This is why we have a toolkit of tactics to choose from. It’s a blessing rather than a curse.

The way we work is to put in place a strategy that will evolve over time. What we ask of our clients is that they are willing to be flexible and to attempt new things. Even those that may make them feel a little uncomfortable. We wouldn’t make recommendations if we didn’t feel they would work.

Results

If you are working with the right practitioner or agency, then you will start to see results. The profile of your business will increase. People will start to chat to you about the latest news they have read. Business associates will comment, like and share your content. Associates will start to follow your social media channels. You will have the chance to celebrate awards with colleagues.

What a brand can expect from PR, depends entirely on its objectives. The greatest benefit being that PR can be so many different things, to so many different people. There is however one thing for certain, a return on investment should be a given!

SPECIALISING IN CLIENTS RATHER THAN SECTORS

You’ll often find that PR agencies specialise in a particular sector. At Open Comms we take a slightly different approach. We believe that there’s a bigger picture. So, rather than viewing PR requirements as dictated by industry, we take a more client-focused view. We create bespoke packages that deliver against each brand’s objectives.

But don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that we don’t have the experience to deliver. Sometimes we find the assumption is that agencies that specialise could do a better job but that is not always the case.

When receiving a brief, we treat every client the same; we are honest about whether we can do the very best job or not. After all, delivering fantastic results is what we pride ourselves on, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

The bigger picture

When working with clients from a single sector, it would be quite easy to ‘roll out’ a PR package which works, time and time again. We would deliver excellent results. Our client would be happy. And the objectives would be achieved. All with minimal effort.

…So, what’s not to like about that?

Well, by diversifying our offering and working with clients across multiple sectors, we have to put in some extra ‘elbow grease’ and that keeps our job exciting. Since our launch we’ve made this our mission. We’ve gathered a huge amount of experience over the years along with contacts and extra creative ideas too.

Rather than taking a narrow view of what ‘should be done’, we can help companies to stand out from the crowd. After all, there aren’t many brands with a grand ambition to be exactly the same as their competitors. They want to be unique and make a name for themselves in their own right – and rightly so too!

Keeping one eye on the competition

For those agencies which operate solely within one sector, it stands to reason that they are likely to be representing competing brands. Now, it might just be us, but that’s not something that we’d want to see from a team who is handling everything from our top-secret new products, to reputational crises!

Here at Open Comms we have a strict policy of never working with competing businesses – offering that extra, much needed peace of mind and the assurance that we always have our client’s best interests at heart. No conflicts of interest here!

Putting clients front and centre

Each of our client’s PR packages are tailored to suit them, prioritising the elements which are of particular importance.

For some, we deliver a basic press office function. For others quirky and creative consumer campaigns. In some instances, corporate comms will be top priority. While, for others, trade PR is a particular area of focus. Most commonly, however, our clients choose a mix of tactics, which work together to achieve each brand’s unique objectives.

With a mix of skilled PR professionals, all with a varied range of experiences, we’re lucky enough to be able to match our team members with the clients that they work with. This ensures that we have all of the attributes to take your business to the next level.

Drop us an email at info@opencomms.co.uk or give us a call on 01924 862477. We’d love to have a chat and see how we can help you take your business to the next level.

THE MANY TALENTS THAT MAKE UP AN EFFECTIVE PR AGENCY

As with many industries, when you work in PR you come to expect that people will have some preconceived ideas. Stereotypes have been developed over the years, not helped by characters in popular TV programmes.

Assumptions are made about the ‘type’ of people who work in the profession. In some organisations, this may be a true reflection of the workforce. However, here at Open Comms, we believe that to be truly effective an agency needs diversity, in every sense of the word.

Nurturing Creativity

Bringing together a blend of genders, ages, personalities and experiences allows for a PR business to be more creative. A vital component when creating any strategic plan or campaign.

What’s more, working across a range of industries, this variety of thoughts and approaches is essential when we are constantly looking at new and more innovative ideas for clients.

Using our collective skills means we can offer each organisation a bespoke service that encompasses creative elements tailored especially to them.

The team here loves nothing more than to take an hour out to brainstorm and let our ideas run wild. It’s amazing to see the knowledge, experience and preferences of the team come to life during the campaign planning process.

However, the icing on the cake is when the plan comes together. This is what we enjoy most; sharing excellent results and a job well done for our clients.

Staying on Top of the Latest Trends

Our many differences influence the way that we perceive changes in the wider world. As a team of PR professionals, we naturally take an interest in trends. After all, it is an important part of our job. However, that’s not to say that we don’t all have our antennas tuned to the products, services and brands that appeal to each of us the most.

A resident shopaholic, for example, is more likely to know about the latest designers, prints and fashions; while a budding chef will probably have a keener take on how taste buds and food preferences are changing.

The more tech savvy among us can keep track of the latest social media software and the tools that help our client’s platforms stand out from the crowd. Whereas a more ethically conscious personality may be more in touch with social movements, and the changing sentiment around environmental issues.

Fostering Strong Working Relationships

One size doesn’t fit all, and an agency with a lack of diversity is likely to have a hard time branching out in the PR business.

Our clients come from all backgrounds, with different target markets and product offerings. With a diverse team in place, we can match personalities and expertise with clients – leading to exceptional working relationships.

Not only does this make life easier all round, but it makes for strong bonds and a friendly, personal approach. Ultimately, this helps us work less like an external agency, and more like an extension of each team.

Empathy and Sensitivity

Some personalities are a little more robust, taking a tougher stance on certain issues. While others are gentler, picking up on sensitivities which may pass the average person by. Then we have those in the middle, the ones who strive to see both sides of every scenario.

In a crisis, this blend of personalities is a fantastic asset and one which is very much valued within our business. After all, for most organisations, facing a PR crisis will be one of the most testing times in its history. Without a team who can be trusted to consider all angles, it can quite easily become a very tricky situation to navigate.

However, having built up a long-term relationship with a PR agency that understands a brand and business, a company can be confident that its reputation and future is in safe hands.

Experience and Guidance

Our team members come with a whole host of experiences, which contributes to the unique approach that Open Comms delivers.

Some of us have been working in the industry for more than 20 years, while others are taking their first steps into the world of PR.

We’re particularly proud of our supportive approach, which sees the team learn from one-another. What remains at the forefront is that we all have something different to share, whether starting out or with a career spanning more than two decades.

Whether it’s our resident (former) journalist; the social media savvy among us or our Masters-level linguist, making the time to learn from one another’s experiences is an opportunity not to be overlooked.

Find out a little more about our team here. Alternatively, pick up the phone and give us a call on 01924 862477 – we’d love to chat.

EVERYONE CAN WRITE, RIGHT?

Everyone can write, right?

Working in PR can be a challenge. There, I’ve said it. Not only has it been the forgotten relative for years when it comes to budget allocation, there is also the fact that people devalue the specialism because ‘everyone can write, right?’.

No longer is the process of putting pen to paper – or words on a page electronically – considered an art. It’s just a thing that is done and because businesses are increasingly told they need to upload content and to share posts, it makes our service a commodity.

At a recent event with the business community in Wakefield, I got chatting to an associate who asked how you make people believe that PR is worth the investment.

PR is more than words on a page

The truth is, PR will deliver but it takes time, effort, experience and the ability to take a step back and to realise it isn’t words on a page. What we produce is compelling content that engages with an audience and resonates.

PR is an incredibly powerful tool when it is used correctly. Good or bad, it can influence thoughts about a brand that could impact on the reputation of that business or individual forever.

People don’t seem to realise that what they share with the media or online reflects their values, what their business stands for and what they hope to achieve in the future. Thanks to search engines and the ability to copy and save, there is no waste paper bin or fish and chip wrapping, this content lasts a lifetime.

Using PR tactics to have a profound impact on business

The beauty of PR and writing quality content is that when it is managed correctly it can have a profound impact on a business and its success. Agencies and in-house specialists were once reliant on the press release, but we now have so many more tactics we can call upon.

The information we need to draft a press release can be used to craft an interesting thought-leadership article for the website, which can then be used to capture sound bites that are shared on social media.

Creating a content schedule means that you can now get the best from every piece of news that you have to share, if you manage the process correctly.

Investing in PR

I’ve lost count of the number of times people have asked me how I coerce our clients into paying for an agency when they could appoint a graduate or get someone in-house. Firstly, we don’t coerce anyone into anything and secondly, if a company wants to invest in the resource needed to deliver a year-round PR campaign then great!

In my experience, when a company does have a dedicated PR or marketing resource, the remit of that person becomes increasingly diverse leaving them to become a Jack of all trades but a master of none.

Unfortunately, PR is still widely misunderstood and that can leave senior managers considering it to be an extension of the admin function, rather than a specialism that could have a significant impact on the organisation and its performance. It goes back to the heading of this blog, the misguided belief that ‘everyone can write, right?’

PR isn’t easy

This is infuriating to PR practitioners that have worked for years to develop their skills and believe in making a difference to the companies that they deliver a service for. Appreciating the time and effort that goes into finding the story, drafting the story, sharing the story and then further elevating that message is not for the faint hearted.

PR isn’t easy. It requires attention to detail, thought, craftsmanship and passion. It takes someone who wants to tell stories in the right way to grasp hold of the information and then shape it in a way that makes it interesting, informative and educational.

I don’t go to work each day looking forward to writing a press release. I go to work feeling excited by what we can achieve when we consider how we will communicate across various platforms for a client and what campaign reach we can secure, which will then support sales.

Back to where we started

Putting pen to paper is a skill that requires thought, attention and experience. Writing compelling copy isn’t easy and it takes time. Identifying a story and pitching it to the right journalist so that it secures coverage can be a challenge. Learning all about topics you have never heard before and writing content that is shared online as a comment piece from a client can be nerve-wracking.

So, going back to where we started, when people do say that ‘everyone can write, right?’, the answer quite simply is no. People can put pen to paper, but it takes a specialist with knowledge and experience to write content that will deliver results.

For more information about the services that we offer, please visit: www.opencomms.co.uk/whatwedo