Tag: Communications

THE VALUE OF PR AMID OUR ‘NEW NORMAL’

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

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

Working differently

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

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

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

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

Positive messaging

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

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

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

Proactive PR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

RECOGNISING THE IMPORTANCE OF FACE TO FACE COMMUNICATION

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

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

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

Colleague relationships

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

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

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

Client Relationships

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

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

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

Emotion

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

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

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

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

CREATING CAMPAIGNS THAT DELIVER RESULTS

Creating campaigns that deliver results

When it comes to creating campaigns that deliver results, there is no shortcut.

An effective PR campaign demands a substantial amount of preparation, hard work and complete commitment to achieve objectives. All of which are simply the basics.

It’s only when these basics are met, that a brand can reap the benefits of a truly successful campaign. However, getting to this stage is not easy. Here are the essentials steps you must take:

  1. Review the brief

Before diving into the planning stages, it is vital to first extensively review the campaign brief you have been given.

Ask yourself; is it doable? Is the time limit a restraint? Can you work with the budget provided? Does it have clear objectives?

If you find yourself answering any of these questions with a no, it’s time to be honest and open with the client. Having an upfront conversation about these issues will allow you to agree on realistic solutions that are in fact achievable.

  1. Don’t rush planning

An easy mistake to make is rushing the planning stages. DON’T.

PR in its entirety is about attention to detail and that goes for campaigns too. Giving yourself and your team enough time to plan and carry out any research is vital to the success of a campaign.

In your planning stage you must consider the following; what’s the purpose of the campaign? Who are the audience? How will you reach them? What strategy will work best? Which PR tactics will you be using?

Remember to also plan for the worst-case scenarios. A well-equipped PR team is always prepared for a crisis, regardless of how unlikely it may be. Like they say, better to be safe than sorry.

  1. Begin implementation cautiously

The same way a campaign can receive positive recognition in minutes, it can also receive disastrous feedback.

The only way to tackle this is by being extremely cautious during the implementation stage.

Regardless of how you have chosen to go live with a campaign, whether that be distributing a press release or publishing new content across social media channels, be extra vigilant with regards to the response you receive. It is often a good indication of how well the rest of your campaign will go.

If you do run into any trouble, don’t be afraid to revisit and tweak your approach so that it tackles any issues at hand. It’s much better to have fixed something early on in the process, than let it spoil the entire campaign.

  1. Conduct a thorough evaluation

One of the most critical steps when creating campaigns, is to provide a thorough evaluation.

Not only is it a valuable way to learn how well a campaign has been received, it also plays an instrumental role in defining the next steps for a brand. Should they continue with the approach that was taken? Or would they benefit from a new creative, message or medium?

It is also important to take pride in an evaluation. It’s your opportunity to show off the incredible results you’ve worked so hard for. Be concise, be clear and be sure to present it in a way which your client understands.

Ultimately, when creating campaigns, the reputation of a brand is left under the care of its PR team. So, you can see why it’s imperative that these steps are followed to ensure no damage is done.

If you’d like to discuss an upcoming campaign, please contact the team here or simply give us a call on 01924 862477 – we’d love to hear from you.

 

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A PR AGENCY

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A PR AGENCY

The world of communications never stands still. To keep up, PR agencies are constantly having to evolve. This also includes extending the services and tactics that are available to clients of all sizes.  

Here at Open Comms, we work tirelessly to ensure that we continue to meet with the growing needs of our clients, whatever sector they work in. Our offerings encompass everything from traditional PR to digital content and more.

If you’re considering investing in Public Relations, here’s what you can expect from a PR agency that provides a full toolkit of tactics to deliver results and meet with objectives.

Social Media

PR’s natural ability to tell stories and build relationships goes hand in hand with social media. Which is why you will often find the two interlinked.

At Open Comms, you will be given extensive support with your brands online profile and audience engagement; whether that be through management, monitoring or strategic campaigns.

Management

Social media management refers to the process of managing a brand’s social platforms. This typically includes creating relevant and engaging content with the target audience in mind.

Not only can you expect us to craft tailored content for your social media platforms, but we will also publish this content on your behalf and monitor the levels of engagement it achieves.

A thriving social media presence is critical for the success of any business. This is why we will regularly analyse all social activity to ensure that our approach is working. If it isn’t, we will never shy away from suggesting different strategies.

Monitoring

Currently, we support a number of clients with the monitoring of their social media channels; Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram being the most commonly used.

Social media monitoring involves proactively keeping an eye on your social media platforms to check what others are saying about your brand.

This can often include, replying to customer enquiries, engaging with positive comments or dealing with customer complaints. All of which are taken care of by your chosen PR team.

Campaigns

An effective way to get noticed online is through carefully planned and timed social media campaigns.

An alternative to traditional marketing, campaigns on social media can help to build brand awareness, reach a wider audience, increase website traffic and ultimately drive sales.

We have extensive experience of creating seasonal campaigns. These can include everything from drafting content and carefully curated copy through to arranging brand led competitions and everything in between.

So, you can count on us to deliver activity that meets with results and objectives.

Influencer Marketing

 It goes without saying that influencers and their large followings are being leveraged on a global scale, with the influencer industry predicted to be worth $15 billion by 2022.

And, rightly so.

Influencer marketing has proven to be impactful. It helps brands build credibility and long-lasting trust with relevant audiences.

As an agency, we have supported several clients with influencer campaigns. This is why you can expect a large database of contacts that align with your business objectives and brand values when you work with us.

Market Research

 A fundamental part of PR is conducting market research. It allows a business to keep up to date on the latest trends and is also vital for finding out what competitors are doing.

To ensure that our clients are always informed about news that is relevant to their industry, we can share weekly market reviews. In addition, we also provide ideas and recommendations to capitalise on latest trends, so that our clients’ brand never miss an opportunity.

Not only is market research a vital part of any PR strategy, but it can also provide valuable insight when making important business decisions.

Traditional

Although times have changed, traditional PR is just as important as ever.

Press releases, print editorial, copywriting, media relations and crisis management are all essential components of Public Relations.

As an agency, we have offered traditional PR services for more than 11 years, so let’s just say, we consider it our bread and butter.

Our approach to PR is simple. We recognise that different tactics reach different audiences. This is why we listen to your objectives and design a tailored PR strategy to align with your business goals. Whether that be through traditional PR, digital PR or a combination of both.

Aside from professionalism and expertise, you should be able to expect a level of honesty and openness from your PR agency. Ultimately, an agency should work as an extension of your own team and that’s exactly how we do things here at Open Comms.

If you are looking to collaborate with a PR agency, why not give us a call on 01924 862477 or contact us here.

 

LEVERAGING BRAND PERSONALITY ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Social Media

Brands and businesses often misjudge social media and the way it should be utilised. In the midst of polishing and refining a picture perfect online presence, brands can sometimes lose sight of what makes them different.

Every brand has its own story waiting to be shared online.

Social media simply acts as the medium which assists with a brands storytelling process and through this helps express its unique personality. This is not as simple as plastering a logo or copying and pasting the same 30 character long bio across all social channels.

Consumers nowadays crave authentic interaction and exciting content. Which is why injecting personality into every aspect of a brands social media presence is so important.

It’s what makes you and your content stand out.

Establishing a brand personality online can seem daunting at first, especially if social media is an entirely new territory for your business, so here’s a few tips to help get you started-

Focus on the brand, not the product –

Websites are for selling products. Social media is where you tell people about who you are, what you do and how you came about. Consumers want to know more about the brands they buy from and social media is the easiest way to share this information.

Bespoke interactions –

Avoid sounding scripted or generic and take a more personalised approach when engaging with people. This is a simple, yet effective way to take ownership of how your brand is perceived online.

Explore trending topics –

Social media is constantly evolving and trends change at the speed of light. Some of which you may not even know about. This is where google alerts come in very handy. Set up google alerts of key words that are relevant to your brand, so that you never miss an opportunity to reap the benefits of a trending topic!

Develop a social media handbook –

A social media handbook plays a vital role in sustaining a brands online presence, but unfortunately is often overlooked. Essentially, a social media handbook should outline your brands personality traits. It might also include a list of words or phrases that your brand should use or maybe topics that your brand should ‘watch out’ for. Either way, this handbook should act as a bible for you or your team to follow and will help to create relevant content for social media that is consistent with your brand and its personality.

Gone are the days when a product was enough to attract consumers. Now, brand personality is the driving force behind capturing the attention of audiences. For more tips on how to tell your brands story, read Lindsey’s blog here.

If you are wanting to explore social media or PR further, please do give us a call or email.

 

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.

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.

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.

SOCIAL MEDIA SHOULD NOT EXCUSE RUDENESS

adults-casual-cellphone

Billions of pounds have been spent to allow people to converse and communicate freely with each other, to share ideas and challenge concepts, to share thoughts and to learn, to create hope, generate support and nurture a space where everyone can have a voice.

What an incredibly positive and powerful movement.

Well yes, in theory, however in practice the irony is that it has become a growing beast and is being used for anything other than what it was intended*.

Hiding behind a screen

Social media is now a default position that gives anyone the ‘right’ to hide behind a screen and moan, bitch, shame, stir nastiness and share hatred. It is used to reach the masses with fake news and boastful claims and make others feel inferior at best and suicidal at worst.

Many will argue that this isn’t the case and that there is a lot of good that has come from social media tools. In part, I agree, but when reading the papers over recent weeks the truth is there in black and white.

Two recent headlines from the i newspaper as an example: “Depression and social media risk doubled in girls” and “Black Mirror star quits social media”.

The first refers to a study, which has found that teenage girls are twice as likely to shows signs of depression linked to social media than boys. The University College London has looked at the association between social and depression and the results are far from surprising.

The second headline quotes an actor, Will Poulter, who says: “In light of my recent experience I am choosing to take a step back, of sorts, from Twitter. I accept all criticisms and it’s been a delight to learn that so many of you enjoyed what many people worked very hard to produce. As we all know there is a balance to be struck in our engagements with social media.” He has been referred to as ugly by ‘trolls’ on the platform.

Let’s just take a step back.

Two articles which announce that young people are commonly experiencing signs of depression due to their use (and the misuse by their peers) of social media and a successful actor who can no longer watch in silence as he is torn to pieces by people who have no greater right to comment on this person’s appearance as he does on theirs.

When did this become ok? When was this headline hitting news? And, most importantly, when are we going to start to encourage the use of social media platforms for what they were intended – not to rant and rave in order to have a knowingly negative impact, but to share positive news and to become a platform to communicate for the right reasons.

Bringing it back to business

It would be unfair to ignore the fact that social media channels including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have provided brands with a platform to promote their products to a global audience and that increasingly intelligent algorithms allow for more specific targeting than has ever been possible.

The questions is the same however, at what cost?

Irrelevant of the budget, thought, creativity and man-hours that go into social campaigns it would appear that increasingly they are coming under the same scrutiny as any social engagement with people feeling that their negative and nasty comments should be shared and somewhat bizarrely responded to.

What many people that work outside of marketing may not appreciate is that it still takes people to respond to social media posts and they, like those complaining or sharing their ‘constructive thoughts’, have feelings.

I have seen some appalling examples of people who think that because they are hidden behind a computer screen can make the most terrible comments and expect a response within minutes.

Firstly, no brand – whatever the size – has a legal obligation to get back to a consumer because they feel they are worthy of that engagement. Secondly, if you are that kind of person, think about how you phrase a complaint and then consider how you would respond given the chance.

I have said this before and I will say it again, if you are posting to a social media channel for whatever reason, if you wouldn’t walk into the street and make those comments out loud then think twice and even three times before posting them.

You do not have the right to be rude

Social media does not give anyone the right to be rude.

For those who go on thinking its ok and that to be outwardly aggressive to the people on the other side of that Twitter, Instagram feed or Facebook account, I urge you to think about how you will feel when your child, partner, friend or family member comes home in tears from school, college or work.

Remember, if your behaviour is reflective of a bully – even when targeted at a brand – you are no better than the people that are directing the same hate filled bilge to your loved ones.  

Ends

*We know that there was a commercial rationale for all of these platforms and they were not based on a philanthropic endeavour to allow freedom of speech or communication across the globe. But for the purpose of this blog, let’s just assume that was the case.