Tag: campaign

UNDERSTANDING THE BENEFITS OF OUTSOURCING PR

Senior management may like it or not, but in order to realise their business’ full growth potential they will have to invest time and money in a robust and strategic communications plan.

Whether it’s raising a company’s profile, increasing brand awareness or protecting an organisation’s reputation, implementing a public relations strategy can be an extremely effective method of generating a significant boost in both revenue and profits.

The challenge, however, is to either keep PR services in-house or pay for an external agency to handle this process.

Although each option will require investment, the focus shouldn’t be put on the most cost-effective approach but rather the one that will deliver the strongest ROI. Looking at the long-term, outsourcing PR and marketing services can be much more advantageous than handling this approach internally.

First and foremost, working with PR agencies gives business leaders full access to an entire team of communication specialists and their varied skill set. No matter how complex the brief may be, agency professionals can each take a key area of focus to deliver a full-service programme of activity.

Once executed successfully, an external service provider can often become strategic partners to the businesses they work with, offering valuable market insight, guidance with future campaigns and expert advice to key decision makers and stakeholders.

Ultimately, PR agencies need to be seen as an extended team of the companies they work with, and not for.

Below are my top three benefits from working with an external PR agency

Team of experts: No matter the marketing or communication requirements, PR agencies will have a team of specialists at an organisations disposal to tackle any issue, often at the same price of hiring just one new employee. Specialisms include copywriting, social media management, digital marketing, press release writing, crisis management, plus many more.

Media relations: PR agencies have developed a vast network of media contacts in many different industries. So no matter what market a business operates in, specific members of press, publications and influencers can be targeted to help generate positive publicity.

Creative outlet: Creativity sits at the heart of PR agencies, whose teams are brimming with unique and imaginative concepts that will create buzz and excitement like never before. Businesses can capitalise whenever they are commenting on current trends, looking to disrupt certain sectors, enter new markets or simply trying to get in front of a wider audience.

Investing in PR should never be seen as ‘a nice to have’ but rather a key catalyst to obtaining further growth.

For more information about how Open Communications works with businesses and brands of all sizes please call a member of the team.

ADDING AWARDS TO A COMMUNICATION STRATEGY

It’s hard to miss the glitz and glamour of the ongoing movie award season. Every broadcaster, radio station, magazine and social media platform is trying to ride the wave of the public’s unwavering interest in the rich and famous.

But despite these celebrities seemingly living a life we mere mortals can only dream of; it’s still surprising to see how much pride and joy they feel when receiving an award. More importantly, the viewer will register and remember who the winners are.

A movie or television show is much more appealing to the viewer if it has already been dubbed as ‘award-winning’. This forms an expectation that it is of a high quality. The same rules apply in the business world.

Winning awards adds credibility

As we live in such a connected and digitalised society, businesses can be subject to a thorough background search by practically any potential customer or client. Hence why it’s crucial for businesses to pursue opportunities to be awarded. Any type of special recognition will significantly help when differentiating themselves from competitors.

As such, awards must become a priority. Pursuing awards often falls under a company’s communication strategy, which will be implemented by their in-house marketing team or external PR agency.

Raising a company’s profile

PR agencies are brought in to raise a company’s profile, increase their brand awareness and secure as much media coverage as possible. As award submissions can require a lot of work, which has the potential to garner zero results, there is a risk of letting them fall off the agenda.

To prevent this from happening, the company and PR agency must be aligned in understanding the benefits of winning awards and where it fits within a communications strategy.

Below are three key tips to integrate award submissions into a long-term PR campaign;

Securing Earned media coverage

  • Shortlisted companies in for each awards category will be featured multiple times in the media as part of the build up to the event
  • Media coverage will continue for those that are announced overall winners
  • Awards are a useful way of securing organically generated coverage
  • Promotes companies within industry and wider business community
  • Builds brand awareness and increases overall profile
  • Increases visibility among competitors and industry leaders
  • Can be used as a way to introduce the company to prospects and customers

Social media

  • Promoting an award shortlisting or win on social media platforms to notify existing followers about the newly gained credentials will almost certainly attract attention and engagement
  • Can be used to attract new followers, which could be converted to new customers
  • Allows the company to add more personality to posts on social media i.e. celebratory gifs
  • Enables a company to engage directly with followers, thanking them for the support
  • Reshare media coverage of the shortlisting and win, adding in the awards # to engage with other nominees and attendees

Website/blog copy

  • Feature copy of shortlisting and win in the news section of website is a good way of increasing visibility with new and existing customers or clients
  • Repurpose copy for a blog post
  • Enhances a company’s reputation within its specific industry and distinguishes them from the competition
  • Validates services or products a company offers
  • Use links to blog and news section in social media post to draw traffic to website

Having a positive impact from awards

Winning awards can not only impact new business, but it can also have a positive effect on employees, senior team members and the company as a whole. They must not be overlooked. A robust communications strategy must place emphasis on award submissions, and if they are done right, the long-term impact can be extremely beneficial.

For more information about how Open Communications works with businesses and brands of all sizes please call a member of the team.

MY FIRST PR CAMPAIGN

First PR Campaign

September marked a memorable milestone in my career; I was given the opportunity to work on my very first PR campaign.

Entrusted with the responsibility of bringing a client’s vision to life was undoubtedly a daunting one, however seeing my plans put into action was a truly rewarding experience. My contribution to the campaign not only improved my knowledge on how the process works but also public relations overall.

Here is what I learnt –

Research is the unsung hero of PR

Press releases, content writing and social media maybe pillars of Public Relations, but it is research that lays the foundation for everything we do.

From initial planning stages to execution, every effective PR campaign must have research at the forefront of all decision making. Overlooking the importance of it can lead to unwanted repercussions and essentially damage a brands reputation.

In contrast, when done correctly, research provides countless benefits. It is not only a vital tool for targeting the right audiences, influencers and journalists, research also helps to prepare for all eventualities that may or may not occur.

Every decision in PR is accompanied with better and worse options. Research is what helps to determine which approach is most appropriate.

Ideas are always welcome

Regardless of how big or small a campaign may be, new and creative ideas are always appreciated.

Although expressing ideas as a PR newbie was slightly intimidating, I soon recognised that the team at Open Comms encouraged original thoughts and valued all suggestions. The philosophy here is that no idea is a bad idea.

PR requires out of the box thinking and notions that gain attraction. Ideas can be expanded, reduced and inspire other ideas. So, simply because a suggestion may see farfetched or perhaps not big enough, are not reasons as to why it should not be expressed.

Expect the unexpected and prepare for the worst

While no one wants to fixate on all the things that could go wrong, an effective campaign is one that evaluates all negative possibilities and is equipped to respond accordingly.

Operating in an especially unpredictable world, it is essential to prepare for the what ifs. Without correct preparation and planning in place, a campaign cannot cope or adapt to challenging situations. Whereas covering every outcome (with a HEAP of creativity) has the potential to minimise any negative impact on a client.

I have always known that a client’s reputation is the number one priority in PR but now I also understand that for this to be true, risk management and robust scenario planning are key.

This Girl Can – and the campaign does

I sweat, I pant, I run - I don't look good but it makes me feel great.

I sweat, I pant, I run – I don’t look good but it makes me feel great.

Keeping it simple

I’ve followed the Sport England, This Girl Can, campaign since it launched and have been impressed by its simplicity from the start. The first thing they did right was to recognise that branding has a place but not all over everything.

Living in a world where we are constantly targeted by marketing messages people have become increasingly cynical, and when something is overtly branded we know to be aware that we are being ‘sold at’.

Unfortunately, this can be a difficult lesson to learn and many companies feel that they are missing a trick if they don’t have their brand on show, all of the time. The truth is that more often than not, less is more.

Don’t ask too much

Consumers have never been more intrinsically linked to the tricks of the trade and they are aware of the power that they have to influence a brand by advocacy or to crucify it through controversy.

Social media is a fantastic communication tool, we have never been able to share messages so quickly or with such a vast audience, but with it comes some pitfalls too.

The hurdles often become apparent when agencies try to be too clever. They expect too much from the consumer and in a culture where we click to purchase or swipe to like there is simply no way that the volume of people required to impress a client will engage.

What This Girl Can have done is simply ask that people share their image – if they want to. And that is the point. They aren’t suggesting you will get anything in return, they aren’t selling anything to you, per se, but they are changing behaviour and asking that if you want to you can get involved.

Keeping it real

There’s absolutely nothing new in creating campaigns that focus on real people. It’s been done before and it will be done again, it’s a good idea and it works. However, with this campaign, it takes keeping it real to a whole new level.

The idea that people would share their pictures when they know they don’t look their best and in many instances far from it would never be an objective that you would choose when developing a marketing campaign, but it’s worked.

There is something almost akin to a ‘sisterhood’ which has gained momentum through this campaign and what has made it stand out for me is that it hasn’t felt forced. It’s been very organic in the way it has picked up pace.

The tone of voice and messages have been perfect too. It hasn’t, like many sports-related campaigns, being about pushing yourself to the limit, setting goals or even encouraging you to try the latest exercise or equipment – it has been about being you; doing what you do; being proud of your efforts and knowing that if you don’t want to, you don’t have to. It makes it hard for you not to endorse it.

Being all things to all people

Many brands want to target a mass market, it’s a numbers game. They want to communicate with everyone and to use one message to do that. If you work in marketing you will know that getting this right is like finding a goose that lays golden eggs – it’s rare!

Not only does mass market require mass budgets (and admittedly you could argue £8m is a pretty good start) but it also needs to be so effective that everyone sees it, gets it, acts on it and shares it. This Girl Can does exactly that. It cleverly features a variety of women that most people can relate to. Some people may say that it ticks boxes – and perhaps that is true – but it’s worked.

The most recent TV advert has extended the audience from 14 – 40 to 14 – 60 year olds. Very few agencies would ever take a brief that suggested you target 14-60 year old women, cross demographic and geography, with a single campaign.

Keeping momentum

The typical problem with sports-related marketing is keeping the momentum. Something may work but once it’s done you can’t really repeat it without it becoming… well, repetitive, which in turn makes it boring.

The scheduling and roll out of This Girl Can has captured attention time and time again. The subtle shift in focus from advertising to activism was inspired. The process was so simple; use advertising and PR (along with an £8m budget) to capture the hearts and minds of women throughout the country, ask them to join in, give them the tools to get involved, create a community, leave them to it. Clearly, I’ve over simplified that, but it’s not far from what’s happened.

Don’t over commercialise

This goes back to selling at people. It’s not only consumers that don’t like this approach, when something is too commercial it makes it almost impossible to share with the media. That’s what advertising is for.

All you have to do is search the news pages online to see just how much coverage has been achieved with This Girl Can across national, regional and broadcast media along with more blogs than I care to mention – this one included!

Any agency would be popping corks if they could do the same and replicate these results every time they worked with a client – we’d also be retiring and moving to the Bahamas.

The tools

I mention above about giving people the tools to get involved and the This Girl Can app is so simple it takes around a minute to create your own poster, which you can then conveniently share across all of your social channels. Et voila you’re part of the community and before you know it you’re sharing their message and endorsing the brand.

It’s very, very rare that I get sucked into any marketing tactics but I’ve got to hold my hands up – I’m in. I have my own poster and I’m secretly quite proud of the fact that I can share it. I feel like I’m doing my bit. I’m part of a community of women who are content with getting active in their own way, at their own pace and in their own time.

What makes this message even more compelling is that it speaks to me; I can genuinely agree and associate directly with the philosophy of this campaign. I’ve just start to run (jog would probably be more fitting) and although I’m never going to be any kind of athlete, nor do I want to be, I’m enjoying it because I’m doing it my way.

My only suggestion and something that I found quite frustrating is that the headlines you can use are all formatted – so although there are a few to choose from they aren’t ‘yours’. I would have liked to have been given the option to add my own, but that’s just me.

Campaign of the decade

Working in marketing can be and often is tough. PR is just one facet of this but you have so many people to keep happy and it’s a balancing act. We often associate it to spinning plates. Not everything always goes as you want it to. It can be about test and measure.

When the consumer says no, and people simply refuse to engage with a campaign, we have to review the tactics we’ve used and take a long hard look at what went wrong. In doing this it also gives us the opportunity to review other brand activities – those that we feel have got it right.

Like many people in our industry, I call upon a few campaigns that over the years have got it right and I can say without any hesitation that This Girl Can will be going to the top of that list. I genuinely believe that it is the best campaign we have seen in the last decade and coming from someone who is typically difficult to please that’s saying something.

This campaign can and it has!

Celebrating success before it all kicked off!

As a non-executive board director for the Theatre Royal in Wakefield, I was really privileged to support the organisation when they were shortlisted in the community category of the Yorkshire Business Excellence Awards.

The celebration took place in Leeds on 30 October with a range of companies large and small coming together to share their achievements and successes. What was most impressive – and I am biased – was that guests were serenaded by the Theatre’s Performance Academy as they entered the champagne reception.

It was a glitzy affair with initial pre-dinner address from Work and Pensions Secretary, Ian Duncan Smith followed by a delicious four course meal. It was then time to announce the winners and you could feel the tension as heart rates hit new heights.

It was the fourth announcement of the evening and we were all sat wide eyed waiting for the final decision to be shared… and the winner is *insert drum roll*, ‘the Theatre Royal Wakefield’. Acknowledged in particular for striving to operate a best in class destination that gives access to the arts and entertainment despite significant cuts, it was unanimous.

I genuinely believe that the Theatre Royal has a great deal to offer the local community and that people should take the time to visit and to experience the amazing programme of performances that take place in this historic gem of a building.

The venue is celebrating an amazing 120 years and I often wonder what stories it would tell if only it were possible to do so but at least one thing is for sure, the Yorkshire Post Business Excellence Award would be one of them! Please click here for more details of the winners from the night and video coverage supplied by the Yorkshire Post.

Moving on to the next day (no rest for the wicked!), it was a crisp Friday morning and by contrast you couldn’t get much different. Wrapped up warm I headed up to Scotland with the Coalfields Regeneration Trust for a weekend of football.

As previously shared, we have supported Game On, an initiative which brings young people together from some of the most disadvantaged coalfield communities throughout the country to play football. The programme goes beyond the simple principles of sport and engages young people to learn about interaction with third party organisations and peers, as well as teamwork and social skills.

Having cheered on all of the teams during the Inter-regional Finals in Derby as they fought hard for their places in the Home International Tournament, it was time for Wigan A and B to do their country proud.

Thankfully the weather was mild and there were even a few breaks in the clouds as the sun attempted to shine. The winning players from Scotland, Wales and England all took to the pitch and after an official opening to a marching band of pipers, it was kick off.

DSC_1001

There is no doubt that each team gave it their all, with some amazing tackles, defending and goals and then it was down to just two; England and Wales. The match was like-for-like and finished with a goalless draw so it was penalties and sudden death.

I’m not a huge fan of football but I have to admit that after watching the lads put their all into the games I was routing for them to win – it even got so bad that I did some cheering and even added my very own unique take on a team talk *cringe*.

Over the course of just 2 days we had got to know the team a little better and there were some real characters in the group who certainly helped to raise a few smiles with their quips and ‘humour’.

11.04.14 Game On National Home Final

No sooner had the whistle blown than it was over – Wales had won the Tournament on penalties. Needless to say there were some glum faces from the England lads but they did us proud and that’s all that anyone can ask for.

What was most impressive was their manners, general attitude to the game and most importantly their passion for the sport and the wider team. You would never guess that these young lads were from coalfield communities and I’m not absolutely sure that they would feel it necessary to tell you but what they probably don’t realise is that if nothing else their determination and sheer grit could be considered a lasting legacy from times gone by.

DSC_1043

And so I’m on to another week and although there won’t be any glitz and glamour or pitch side banter and penalty shoot outs this week, there are certainly proposals to be planned, news to be drafted, events to be arranged and announcements to be managed that will keep me busy – after all, there’s never a dull moment when you work in PR.

One size doesn’t fit all

When you work in PR you quickly recognise that one size does not fit all when it comes to campaign planning. For a start the audience for every client will differ slightly – you can always use less defined targets such as men, women, geographical location or demographic but being more specific means that we are able to meet with the objectives set by the brands we work with.

What is also important is the medium that we choose to engage with. Not every campaign will rely on all channels and I’ve seen a few frightening examples recently where agencies have mismatched the campaign and the medium. Sometimes it’s best to do one thing really well than lots of things badly.

There is a strange attitude within the industry at the moment with some agencies believing that everything needs to be shared across social media channels and I simply don’t agree. There are some campaigns that sit better on radio, or within printed media – not everything has to feature on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest or YouTube to get results and engagement.

It seems to me that agencies are pitching social media as a sexy alternative to other mediums and rather than tailoring a campaign around a preferred medium, ideas are being shoe-horned to fit social channels.
I think it’s time that we all took a step back and went back to basics.

When we work with brands at Open Communications we look at the following; audience, media consumption, ideas, strongest recommendations. Ok, so it’s not brain surgery but if you use the same process you are likely to get a campaign that is fit for purpose and delivers a return on investment, which at the end of the day is what you pay an agency for!

PR stands for Press Release

When you work in PR (public relations) there are some days when you wonder what your job description may look like if you were to write down everything you were asked to do. This is no bad thing you understand, as the huge variety of tasks certainly helps to keep things interesting, while raising a few exciting challenges along the way.

This is perhaps why I find it so frustrating when people tell me that they can ‘do PR’ because they have written a press release or had something printed in a newspaper. The purpose of appointing a PR agency shouldn’t be to just write copy – that’s what copy writers are there for and the clue is in the title.

A PR agency is there to manage a brands reputation, to identify opportunities that will extend the messaging of a campaign to take it to a totally new level, or to come up with creative recommendations that will deliver a stunt that will capture the attention of the media, while also educating consumers about what that particular product or brand has to offer.

There’s also the corporate side of things, when an agency may be appointed to manage a stakeholder or internal communications campaign, ensuring that a message is clear and concise, using the right tone of voice and being disseminated in the right way, to the right audience.

Sponsorship often falls under the remit of a PR agency, along with third party associations and event management. Although you may find that copy is required to support these activities, it isn’t the sum of the process and everything from launching to making sure the brand gets the most from an association – which often includes sampling – can be included along the way.

Really the job of a PR has no defined start or finish, as long as you are managing and supporting the reputation of a brand and business, focusing on how it chooses to communicate and engage with its target audiences, then it kind of falls in to our remit.

As we have said in the past there is no point in trying to be all things to all people and that isn’t what I’m suggesting – there are times when we work with other specialist agencies to deliver integrated briefs and this is when you can take one concept or theme and really push it to make as much noise across as many mediums as possible.

At the moment we are working on so many different things that when Friday comes around I feel like my head is spinning with ideas and variations on the campaigns and proposals that we are working on for clients both in business to business and consumer markets.

PR is creative, expressive, exciting and demanding and writing is just one element of what we do on a daily basis to manage the reputation of the brands and businesses we work with. So next time you hear someone say that they can ‘do PR’ because they can draft a press release, please pass on my advice, they can’t! If you think that PR is all about writing a press release then it’s time to take a long hard look at your future career in the business because it won’t last long.

 

Just your average week – or not!

I’ve been a little quiet on our blogging front over the past week so apologies – I’m sure you have all been sat waiting eagerly for my next update *wink, wink*

So anyway, I do have my excuses for not posting which start with a two day trip to the largest food show in the country. As a PR agency we don’t just sit at our desks writing press releases our relationships and role, thankfully, go way beyond this.

The International Food Exhibition (IFE) takes place every two years and we went along with a client to listen to speakers talk about topics such as how the snacking market is changing, the increase in health claims and changes to legislation within food packaging. We also wanted to take the time to find out what new trends and innovations were hitting the shelves and which brands were shouting loudest – plus, more importantly, how they were doing it.

The show was fantastic. There were two halls full of stands with many of them offering samples – you can’t go wrong!

It wasn’t until Tuesday evening that I realised just how much information I had gathered when I was trying to get my bags – and samples – back on the train. So it was back to good old Wakefield before dashing home, getting changed and setting off to the Wakefield Council business celebration dinner.

The event was held at Space, which is a venue I hadn’t been to before. We all sat down to a super dinner and inspirational speech from Richard Noble, who holds the land speed world record and is working hard to create a car that will go 1,000 mph. Now that’s some going!

The talk was really interesting and it was a great opportunity to chat with colleagues from the District and meet with some new faces over a glass of wine or three.

Wednesday came along and we were exhibiting at the Wakefield Business Conference. As a Wakefield based PR agency we are always keen to get out and about. The city has a great deal to offer and as the preferred PR partner for the event we wanted to show our faces and also meet new contacts.

The day went very quickly and for those who came along we hope you picked up some of our – now famous – mints. Remember people we offer a ‘fresh’ approach to PR – do you see what we did there?

Anyway Thursday came around but felt strangely like it should be Monday and it was catch-up day. Emails, paperwork, campaign planning, new business proposals all to be written in the day. Then an internal (at the pub if I’m honest) meeting after work and back home.

And so we are here today. A meeting this morning and new business session this afternoon all pieced together with copy writing for a consumer competition, recommendations for campaign engagement with clients, social media updates, suggested social media strategies for the next six months and back to traditional press copy with several comment pieces to be drafted before close of play – oh and a blog!

Phew. So, you see, not such an average week in the office but then that’s what makes working in PR so challenging and rewarding.

I’m pleased to say that the week is yet to be over – after all it’s only 4pm and we don’t do part time at Open Comms – so we’re going to a final event in celebration of Wakefield Business Week tonight.

The event is aptly named Beer and a Burger and we are all going along to share in the success of the city and to raise a glass to business. It’s always fun to meet with the great and good of the city and to couple this with beer and burger is inspired.

After that I will be heading home and don’t mind admitting after all that I think I’ll hit the sofa and sleep for a week!  Night all.