Tag: media relations

THE VALUE OF TRADE MEDIA

No matter the brand or business, when measuring the success of a public relations campaign, several metrics can be used as part of the evaluation. Although a PR brief can differ from one client to the next, they all arguably have the same ambition to secure as much media coverage as possible.

Making the morning headlines is one of the most effective ways to reach the largest possible audience. It provides brands and businesses with the platform to build a positive reputation, which can have a transformative impact to their overall success.

However, in order to maximise the potential benefits that media coverage can deliver, a strategic approach must be taken. Whether organisations are featured in print, online, on the radio or TV, it is not always the quantity that produces the most value, but the quality of the coverage.

This is what makes trade media opportunities so critical. Although the mainstream press will certainly have a much larger audience, targeting trade publications can potentially be more impactful and resonate with readers on a more meaningful level.

What is trade media?

Trade media titles feature content that revolves around a particular industry or profession. Their main function is to communicate information that can be influential and resourceful to those working within that marketplace.

Therefore, unlike mainstream media publications, the tone of voice and detail you find in this content can be as technical, specific, and detailed as necessary. With the freedom to cover such a wide range of topics relating to the industry in question, trade media titles offer readers an informative insight that cannot be found elsewhere.

Whether it is an interview with a leading business person, company news update, an opinion-led feature, new research or the launch of new products and services, each article will comprise the detail that is relative to the readers.

Furthermore, what makes this content all the more valuable is that the readers will have one shared interest; the industry they work in and are associated with.  This allows organisations that submit content to both communicate with their intended target audience and to build credibility by association.

Value of trade media coverage

Although securing coverage in the trade media may not reach the biggest audience, it can act as an extremely effective asset when a brand is trying to establish themselves as a serious player within the market.

These publications must be leveraged when individuals, senior teams and entire businesses want to become recognised as industry leaders and experts. Once a company’s products, services and capabilities have been regularly covered, this business will become synonymous with the industry.

As a result, a brand’s awareness will rise, a business’ reputation will grow, and its share of the market will begin to increase. Combining all these factors will ultimately help organisations of any size to attract new business and achieve their wider growth ambitions.

This is exactly why investing in a robust and bespoke public relations strategy can have wider benefits than many businesses first assume. It’s not just about hitting the headlines for the right reasons, but more about attract interest where it will have most impact.

If you would like to know more about Open Comms and how we can help secure you coverage in trade media publications, why not give us a call on 01924 862477 or please visit www.opencomms.co.uk.

HOW IGNORING PR CAN BE DAMAGING TO YOUR BUSINESS

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

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

This is exactly what PR professionals do!

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

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

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

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

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

Media coverage

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

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

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

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

Social media activity

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crisis management

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOW THE ROLE OF RELATIONSHIPS CAN ‘MAKE OR BREAK’ PR PROGRESS

Success in PR is largely dependent on the ability to forge and maintain lasting relationships. But as an industry that is constantly evolving, so too is the way we communicate. With that in mind, putting in place the tactics needed to deliver consistent and reliable communications with those that matter most has never been more important.

Understanding the way we communicate with our clients, the press and our fellow employees can often be a challenging prospect. But as the working day for any PR professional can be incredibly varied, we must be able to meet the differing expectations of our many audiences.

Here at Open Comms’, our diverse client base requires that each member of the team must continually develop an efficient understanding of multiple sectors and specific fields. We are able to obtain this knowledge through the close relationships we have forged and the effective way we communicate with our clients, but also each other as well.

Clients

Whether it’s digital or charitable, public sector or professional services, the Open Comms team have developed the ability to seamlessly transfer from one to the other without any disruption to our work or comprising our services.

This is only achievable by working as an extension of our clients’ teams so that we have access to all of the information and detail we require.

Using this as a foundation, the Open Comms team takes a collaborative approach when executing a PR and marketing strategy. From conceptualisation to delivery, we offer transparency and openness throughout the entire process.

By cultivating this trust and respect, we retain relationships that span many years and often result in us being recommended by those we work with.

Media

Relationships with clients may be considered as the most important, but they are by no means the only ones we must nurture on a daily basis. A vital aspect of any PR professional’s role is media relations.

As journalists are inundated with dozens upon dozens of requests on a daily basis, their capacity to answer each one is almost impossible. So, establishing lasting relationships with members of the press is critical to the success of our press coverage. It is important that we, as PR professionals, contact journalists with something that will ultimately benefit them and their publication.

To understand the widespread benefits of having trusted contacts in the media, I’ve listed some top tips about what you must consider prior to approaching them.

  • Research what the journalists have historically covered in the past
  • Understand who their readers are and what is topical to them
  • Identify why you have ‘newsworthy’ content for them
  • Highlight why their readers will be interested
  • Be bespoke in your interactions, and try to avoid sending generic communications

We would like to think that through our relationships we have become an asset to the journalists we work with. We are often told that we are a trusted source of news and information.

Colleagues

Last but not least, the relationship between colleagues is paramount in the continuity of services a PR agency offers its clients. We at Open Comms pride ourselves on being an agile and receptive workforce who are able to trust one another when it comes to delivering for the brands we support.

Each employee at Open Comms brings their own individual skillset to the table. Not only does this ensure we are able to deliver on all client briefs, no matter how complex, but our collaborative way of working enables each of us to learn and develop new skills.

We are able to work as cohesive unit because of the trust we have developed through the relationships we have established. Much like we are with clients, the Open Comms team operate through regular communications and ensure that the team, no matter what position, has a clear understanding of each employee’s specific workload.

If you’d like to find out about the service we offer, then please contact the team here or simply give us a call on 01924 862477.

HELP JOURNALISTS HELP YOU! A STRUCTURED GUIDE TO FORMATTING PRESS RELEASES

At Open Communications we thrive on delivering result for our clients. The impact of the PR and content marketing campaigns we produce for different brands and businesses can be measured in many ways, but none more so effectively than securing press coverage.

This is the bread and butter of PR!

There is no better way of enhancing an organisations reputation than going straight to the media. And the modest press release still remains an essential tool to make this happen!

The process behind the press release

Although press releases may appear to be straightforward documents, creating a finished article can require a lot of time and work, whether it’s producing a snappy headline; writing the perfect quote for a CEO or seeking final approval from all parties involved. It’s not as easy as it looks.

But once this is all complete, the exciting part begins.

There is no better feeling in PR than sending out a press release to the media, waiting in anticipation to see your hard work shared across multiple news outlets. Conversely, there is no worse feeling than when it doesn’t get any coverage at all.

Creating compelling content   

As journalists are inundated with dozens of press releases every day, you must give them a reason to open your email and then actually read the content inside.

Before you begin writing the press release, you must identify what the most ‘newsworthy’ angle is. This will help you form the headline and introduction to the story and, most importantly, it is what will help the journalist when deciding whether to publish the article or not.

In order to create a news ‘hook’, you need to determine why people would want to read the press release in the first place and then try to make it relevant to as many people as possible. It’s important to remember that you are not just trying to appeal to journalists, but to those who read the publication that they work for.

Newsworthy or not newsworthy that is the question

If a client was completing a significant investment into their business, we’d identify what would appeal to people and encourage them to take time out of their day to click on the article whilst also fulfilling the client’s brief.

Although it may seem obvious to lead with the value of an investment, the impact that this will have on the business may also create an appealing angle and so should not be dismissed.

Hitting the headlines

For instance, a business will want to have a press release written regarding a six-figure investment programme over a 12-month period. Instead of going with a generic investment-led press release, it is worth digging a bit deeper to ask further questions; what are they investing in? How much will the investment be? Will this lead to new job creation?

After initially starting with a story focusing on ‘business announces major investment’, the finished article will have a more enhanced angle, such as ‘x number of IT jobs created following £200,000 investment’.

When a journalist is sent the final email, they will know the story is about job creation in a growing sector following a £200,000 investment. These three aspects will have greater appeal to more media titles than before.

The regional media will be interested in covering it due to the impact the new jobs will have on the local economy; trade media will be attracted to the IT element of the story and the business media will also be pulled in the direction of the investment.

So, not only is more detail revealed about the story just in the headline, but the number of media publications interesting in publishing it will have significantly increased. Ultimately, the final piece should leave you with a newsworthy article that meets with the objectives of all concerned; agency, client and journalist.

Final thoughts

When you manage a press office for a client you can be working on multiple releases at any given time. It’s not just about the content, but as mentioned above, it’s the audience too. Writing with the reader in mind will make all the difference.

A simple tip would be to remember the basics; who, what, when, where and why? If you answer these questions within your first two paragraphs, you should be providing all the information that a journalist needs.

Putting the headline in the subject of the email and making the angle clear will signpost the journalist to exactly what you have to offer. And finally, whenever possible, send an image! The less correspondence a journalist needs to have with you the better your chances are of securing coverage.

CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT HOW OPEN COMMUNICATIONS APPROACHES MEDIA RELATIONS

MEDIA RELATIONS: WHEN PRESS AND PR PROFESSIONALS COLLIDE

Now that I have completed six months of agency life, I feel fairly confident in saying that I am much more settled into my PR role following a rather steep learning curve. The transition from journalism to PR is without a doubt a challenging one to undertake!

The varied nature of working in PR can be extremely rewarding, exciting and educational, but consequently it is also a demanding job that constantly pushes me on a daily basis. It may be no surprise, however, that the biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is learning how to navigate the delicate intricacies of media relations.

With the emergence of ‘Fake News’, the instant ability to share information across social media and a gradual decrease in the number of working journalist, it could be argued that the art of ‘selling’ a press release or news story to the media is no longer a necessity. However, as someone who has experienced this process from both sides of the tracks, I can’t emphasise enough that it can still be extremely valuable.

Like many industries across the globe, journalism has been forced to evolve and adapt due to the ongoing digital transformation. As a result, however, a lot less journalists are working but a lot more content is being created. So, journalists are busy to say the least. I still vividly remember the dreaded feeling of opening up my inbox on a morning to discover that 300+ emails have found their way inside, and only to scour my way through to discover that less than half are of any relevance at all. It is just time wasted.

On the other side of the conversation, I’ve also experienced the hard work that goes into the process of getting a press release across to the journalist. As a PR professional, I write the copy, send over to the client and wait for feedback, make further amendments, get final approval and then find a photograph. But once again, this could all be time wasted if I just send across an email, hoping that the journalist will choose to open it amid all the unwanted spam they receive throughout the day!

The easiest remedy to for this painful process consists of two very simple steps.

First of all, never send a press release early in the morning; journalists are far too preoccupied with checking stock market listings; checking any overnight breaking news announcements; collating stories they covered the day prior and sending out the daily email newsletter to their list of loyal subscribers.

This is a critical time for a journalist, and unfortunately, if the press release being sent across doesn’t solve Brexit, then it isn’t going to get a look in. Following this is their time to annihilate the inbox, where journalists will be red faced and at risk of suffering with a repetitive finger injury from clicking delete repeatedly.

So, I always try to send a press release either late in the morning or early afternoon, as this can often be their calmest part of the day.

Secondly, which I believe is the single-most important element of this entire process, is picking up the phone and speaking with a journalist either before or after the press release is sent over.

Despite what journalists may say, I always found this extremely useful as it immediately directed me to an email/press release which I may have otherwise missed. Additionally, this also gives the journalist to ask any specific questions about the story, which could prove to be crucial to getting it published.

If nothing else, speaking on the phone at least gives you chance to develop relationships with members of the press for any future opportunities which may arise. As well as promoting your clients as reliable contacts for the media, you should also work to establish your agency as a reputable and reliable source. So pick up the phone!!!

The significance of saying sorry

head in sandImage source: http://www.quotemaster.org/head+in+the+sand

It’s very rare that you will meet a business owner or entrepreneur that says that life is easy. More likely they will be denouncing their irritation at having people presume that they come into the office at 10am, leave at 4pm, take boozy lunchbreaks and reap all of the benefits.

That is very rarely the case, and in our experience is somewhat far from the truth.

So when a businessman or woman who has a list of jobs to do as long as their arm comes into work one morning to be faced with a crisis, what should they do? More often than not PANIC and look around for someone who has some idea of the processes that they should already have in place

This is a fair assumption of smaller to medium sized businesses, but in the recent case of United Airlines it would be fair to expect that this globally recognised brand would have known better when faced with a very challenging and controversial situation involving a passenger.

Social media, as is typically the case, gave a global audience all of the information they felt that they needed – backed up by reports from local and national media – to make their own deliberations and come to their own conclusions. Needless to say, a resounding majority of them were far from positive, with one man calling BBC Radio 2 to confirm he had cancelled a flight and would never use the airline again.

The brand was in a really difficult position. Do they go against the authorities and their ‘heavy handed’ removal of the passenger or do they hold their hands up and make it clear that this will not be tolerated and that it was not endorsed by their brand or business, reiterating that a full investigation will follow?

Neither it would appear. Instead, a statement was hurriedly issued that didn’t really say a great deal of anything. This was followed by 24-48 hours of criticism from the world’s media before the Chief Executive decided it was time to do a piece to camera and to apologise and to share a relatively detailed and apologetic update.

Unfortunately, this was too little, too late for many and the time it took to conclude that this should have been the approach all along meant that there was a certain lack of sincerity to the piece.

Needless to say, losing a billion dollars from your share price overnight is going to make you feel sorry for yourself but what about your passengers, who along with your crew, should be your first priority?

As an agency that handles crisis for some of the leading brands in the country, we appreciate how significant the passing of time is in a challenging situation. It is absolutely essential that any situation considered a priority becomes an IMMEDIATE priority.

That doesn’t mean if you work in manufacturing that you pull the plugs on all machines and sit on your hands. It means that senior management should cancel ALL meetings however important and come together to discuss the issues and to carefully and quickly plan the next steps.

Brands must be prepared, irrelevant of their size. This means having a team in place that knows that if something happens they will be required. It’s simply not good enough to issue a statement to say that your managing director is on holiday and unable to comment. Unfortunately, having a business means that people expect that you are available any time of the day or night and if it is impossible for that to be the case then who is responsible in your absence.

These are all of the things that should be decided and the processes that should be agreed and in place before anything happens, not during the first major disaster a brand is faced with.

We see it all too often. When we mention crisis to a prospective client the answer is invariably the same: “There is very little that can happen and we don’t foresee anything in the future”. Well, of course, you don’t – otherwise you would be walking around expecting the worst – BUT that doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen.

Scenario planning is a great way to get people involved and to make them appreciate the need and urgency of a crisis. Bringing people together to role play is another way that a crisis can feel more real without you having to go through the processes in ‘real life’ for the first time.

Saying sorry can be difficult for a brand, particularly when there are often many factors and variables that are rarely shared in full with the media but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have a duty of care to your customers and those who may choose to use your products or services in the future.

Here’s a really simple five step guide to dealing with a crisis*:

  1. Bring the senior management team together (and ideally a representative from your appointed PR agency)
  2. Share the facts – ALL OF THEM. This is absolutely essential so that everyone knows what you are dealing with and the possible fall-out as a result.
  3. Draft a response for the media including a holding statement. Depending on the nature of the crisis starting with an apology is often a good idea.
  4. Handle all media calls and schedule interviews throughout the day – these should be managed as the situation unfolds, not afterwards. This is likely to be your only chance to respond to media requests. At this point you will also need to identify a spokesperson.
  5. Evaluate. Review the processes you have in place, learn lessons and make crisis a priority for the future. However crisis-proof you feel your business, life has a challenging way of proving us otherwise.

*Every crisis is different and have a PR agency in place that has experience of working across a number of sectors will give you the advice you need to tweak these five tips to ensure that you are approaching any given situation with the sensitivity and professionalism it deserves.

What is PR?

We get asked this question all of the time and the answer is relatively simple; PR is the principle of managing the reputation of a brand or business through the implementation of an effective communications strategy, whether that be online, in print or broadcast.

The very nature of PR means that this top line explanation is woolly at best. It doesn’t really tell you much about what it is that we do – it’s just a sentence that you might find in a book. I’m not a huge fan of jargon or textbook speak so to give you a peek into the life of a PR agency here’s a round-up of what I have been getting up to this week.

An early start on Monday with an email from our international client asking for an update on activity completed. It’s not impossible to work with clients from abroad when you manage a PR agency (even when they are at the other side of the world), as ‘new’ technologies allow you to speak face-to-face making it simpler to communicate as and when required. Unfortunately you can’t change time zones and therefore you have to be awake pretty early to pick up these calls but a little planning solves any potential problems.

The week’s planned activity then starts with the launch of the Bondholder, the Diamond Scheme, an initiative supported by public and private sector organisations in Wakefield, which are hoping to generate a fund that will be used to implement a marketing and communications campaign that will promote the district to local, regional and national audiences.

As we are a trade as well as consumer PR agency, it was then on to some feature writing for a client working within the print sector. They have invested in machinery and therefore we are putting some press materials together that will be sent to trade journalists. Raising the clients profile in trade media means that they are able to shout about their successes and let customers and prospective employees know that they are still a major player within their market.

It’s then down to some social media planning. Like many agencies we manage the social media platforms for some of our clients and this means updating schedules, creating new and exciting ideas and being as creative as we can be with imagery. As imagery is a big driver of social engagement it’s no longer just about the words so we get our heads together and come up with some quirky recipe ideas that will support this particular client during a key seasonal activity we have planned.

Updating the social feeds on twitter and Facebook is a daily task for us and so we manage these accounts, check to make sure all responses have been sent and that the feeds are updated. If necessary we will like, share, retweet or favourite comments and take down any posts which are inappropriate and offensive – thankfully we don’t get too much of this.

We then have a visitor to the office, following the recommendation of another client at Open Communications we have a new business meeting. We are always very humbled (and of course chuffed to bits!) when our clients  recommend us to their contacts. We chat for a good hour and explain how PR works and how it could add value to this particular business. As one size does not fit all in PR some thought has to go in to the audience, media and messaging. We agree to put a proposal together, which will give the contact all of the detail that they need, before we arrange a follow up meeting.

Now, on to something completely different.

We have a full schedule of activity for Pom-Bear, the potato based snack brand, this year and as the consumer PR agency are working hard to make sure the business gets best value from the recommendations we have made in relation to events and sponsorships.

As the brand has just launched a new Zoo themed snack we are touring the country to sample more than 50,000 bags at Wildlife Centres and animal attractions including Dudley Zoo, Marwell Park and Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm.

Lots of planning has gone into each event and we have a programme of activities which run back-to-back. As the lead on this account it’s up to me to manage each event and ensure that everything is running as it should be. As an agency that takes huge pride it the clients that we work with, we prefer to be at the events that we plan. There is nothing worse than leaving things to chance and that simply isn’t the way that we work at Open Communications.

So, it’s off to Dudley. The weather has held off and our gazebo, banners, flags and signs are attracting the crowds in the hundreds. Pom-Bear is on great form and has the children dancing, singing and of course sampling his snacks.

As the events on Wednesday and Thursday are during the morning to early afternoon this means that I have chance to catch up on emails and draft some more copy for a series of clients before starting some research on a project we are looking in to.

Regular calls to the office mean that I don’t miss the team too much, although I’m sure they would prefer that I only call if there’s an emergency – I must work on that!

Media relations is the focus for now. We are managing a press event and launch in a couple of weeks so we need to know how many journalists to expect. I will be calling each to find out if they are available and updating the team accordingly. This is a business based story so means that regional, national, print and broadcast journalists are all invited – it’s a big list!

It will then be a follow up on the recent launch of a new product, which should have consumer journalists munching on some tasty samples from Penn State, the classic American snack brand. I will follow up and find out what they think before updating the team and sending further samples to those that have ‘got lost in the post’.

It will then be on to the next Pom-Bear event, which takes place from 6pm – 10.30pm. It’s more Pom-Bear fun, with competitions, dancing, games and more tasty samples.  Unlike some jobs it’s unlikely when you work in PR that you will have a 9am – 5pm role and I’m no different.

On Saturday it’s off to Gillwell Park for a Beaver Scouts Fun Day. It should be a great event and with more than 6,000 eager young members of the Scouting Association in attendance I’m expecting it’s going to be a busy one.  As sponsor of the Adventure Activity Badge for the Scouts, Pom-Bear will make an appearance and will also host a special trail with prizes to be won.

It’s a varied life when you work in PR and that’s why I enjoy my job so much. Whether we are managing the launch of a business, drafting copy for emailers and website, managing the trade and consumer PR activity for leading brands or engaging with journalists and bloggers no two days are ever the same.

I’m very fortunate to have a supportive (and calming) business partner at Open Comms and for those of you who know Emma you will understand what I mean. Someone once said to me that PR was like spinning plates and at the time I didn’t know what they mean. More than 10 years later I couldn’t agree more but when there are two of you working together it makes life so much easier.

Obviously at Open Communications we also have the wider (and growing) team to call upon and this again means that we have the capacity to manage the PR for leading household brands and smaller local businesses – variety is after all the spice of life.

PR is certainly not for the light-hearted but for those of you who didn’t know what it involves I hope you now have some idea of what it is that we do. Now, I’m off to get some work done – there’s no rest for the wicked you know!

What a day!


Today was one of those days that really get your blood churning – they make you feel alive, they spark your passion and they remind you of why you chose the career that you are in – today was the Buy Yorkshire Conference!

As the preferred PR partner for the event, we work for several months behind the scenes to draft press releases, engage with the media and draft stories for inclusion in the dedicated supplement, which was handed out during the event.

On the day however is where it gets really exciting. We had two rooms full of exhibitors, a hotel packed with high profile speakers and more than 4,000 delegates coming through the doors, the Financial Times, the Business Desk, The Yorkshire Post, Yorkshire Business Insider, BBC News Channel and Look North and the Times – now if that isn’t enough to make you wide eyed when you work in PR then I don’t know what is.

We spent all day running around, arranging interviews, making sure speakers and journalists came together, convincing local businesses to comment on national TV (in some cases live) and managing an exciting and challenging press event.

I’m still buzzing from the atmosphere. It was a truly fantastic two day event and everyone I have spoken to felt the same. Whatever company or sector the delegates and exhibitors worked in they were all amazed with the organisation and the unnerved attitude and professionalism of the Buy Yorkshire team.

Hats off guys – keeping it simple, you nailed it!

At Open Communications we are proud to support the Buy Yorkshire Conference and to be a part of something that is quite frankly epic. A massive #WIN from us. We are already looking forward to next year.

Finally, PR takes it seat at the boardroom table

I’ve just finished reading an excellent article in Management Today magazine. The piece focuses on the changing face of PR – and I don’t mean one shade of designer lipstick to another – no, finally it would appear that the industry is getting the recognition that it deserves and is taking a seat around the boardroom table.

Having worked in the PR industry for more than a decade and with a BA (Hons) degree in the specialism, I have long been an advocate of the merits of PR when it is practiced correctly and professionally.

As I see it there are problems with the PR industry in the same way that there are problems with any other; you have the good and you have the bad and it can be difficult to decide which is which. One will wine and dine you in fancy restaurants, while the other tells you the harsh truth and what to do about it – far less appealing than a good lunch but undoubtedly more beneficial in the long run.

The truth of the matter is that PR has always been about reputation – that has never changed and be it online or in print, what is said in the street or down the pub, it all goes back to the same thing; if you don’t know what people are saying about you, there is nothing you can do about it.

Businesses are thankfully coming around to the understanding that during any situation, good or bad, the first point of call is to make sure that you are communicating effectively with your audiences. In order to do this an organisation requires an advisor, a specialist, someone to rely on with their plans, aspirations and concerns.

The piece in Management Today very much focuses on the changes to PR based on the use of social media but I think there is more to it than that.

Tim Bell comments: “If you want to live in a transparent world then someone has to give the information about you. If you don’t want someone else to, you have to do it yourself. That’s what PR people do.”

Sure, social media and a desire by the consumer to share their thoughts and opinions with the world – plus having the ability to do so quickly and easily across a multitude of platforms – has meant that PR professionals have more to do but that is simply good practice and the evolution of an industry which spans hundreds of years.

The real change I think has come in a shift of mind set. People working in PR have thankfully taken a long, hard look at the industry and realised that as a discipline we were losing out. We weren’t taken seriously in our tottering high heels and we needed to toughen up and take our seat around the boardroom table.

Those who were serious about a career started to showcase their skills in the situations that deliver harsh recognition; a crisis without a communications professional who is experienced, able and capable of dealing with it can bring a business literally crashing to its knees.

In Management Today Jeremy Hazlehurst comments:

“PR the profession has changed beyond recognition in the past decade. Although media relations activities have burgeoned, involving the paper press, online publications, television and bloggers, it is only a small part of the job now. Press offices have been swallowed up by communications departments that deal with investor relations, analysts, shareholders, regulators and government. All are the guardians of the most precious and difficult to measure of assets – corporate reputation.”

I’ve never been ‘typically PR’ and have always felt that the discipline should be considered a necessity as opposed as a nice to have, not just because I work in the industry but because I see every day the benefits that it delivers, which are often measured less by coverage and more by ‘real life’ results and the situations which are in some cases avoided.

It’s no secret that I almost left the PR industry altogether before launching Open Communications with my business partner Emma because of the way in which some agencies work. I didn’t want to go to lunch or out to parties, I didn’t want to charge by the hour working on campaigns I knew were over-priced and wouldn’t deliver and I didn’t want to feel like I was doing the clients I was working with a disservice by not going that extra mile.

What I did want was to work with journalists so that my clients would hit the headlines, I wanted to use communication to generate business, really get to the heart of the companies I was working for and be a part of their success. I wanted to advise them in the best way possible and explain in no uncertain terms that as a direct result of my actions their business was stronger and that was down to reputation, which was driven by PR and communications.

Thankfully I can now do all of these things. I have always been a champion of ‘real PR’ but I am pleased that others are now recognising the merits to working with agencies and practitioners.

Cynical or otherwise when you look at the organisations that have failed over recent years in many instances arguably the banks have been at fault but it is also interesting to note that many of them were lacking in direction, their customers and prospects weren’t aware of exactly what they offered and this was down to poor communication. As a result they weren’t selling and in turn ceased to exist.

I hope that this new attitude to PR continues and that businesses recognise the value of the services that practitioners and agencies offer.  The truth of the matter is that PR should be at the heart of any business model and in order to get it right you need to rely on a professional.