Tag: media

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.

THE POWER OF THE PROFILE: MEDIA INTERVIEWS

Media relations is a really important and strategic component of any press office. Whether this is online, in print, on the radio or TV, securing press coverage is an effective and efficient way of enhancing the reputation of an organisation.

Although there is nothing more rewarding than seeing clients hit the headlines for the right reasons, the full potential of securing coverage is only reached when it serves a purpose, has meaning and creates a lasting impact.

As well as generating a positive public perception, the overall aim of media coverage is to enable organisations to communicate key messages to their intended target audience. To ensure this objective is met, put the people behind the business into the spotlight and let them do the talking!

Media interviews and profile opportunities must be explored. The value of this type of press coverage can not only be beneficial to the careers of individual employees, but it can also be leveraged to help reach wider business goals.

Saying something of value

When it comes to approaching members of the press, it needs to be made clear why their readers, listeners or viewers will want to hear what someone has to say. This can be anything from providing insight on topical issues impacting a specific sector or region, commenting on current market trends, or announcing the launch of a new service/product within an organisation.

The most important aspect to remember is to define why this person is relevant to the audience of that publication or broadcaster.

Add personality to the brand or business

The public can now put a face to the name. Taking part in interviews provides the perfect platform for organisations to become more authentic and relatable by showcasing the personality of their employee(s).

The media audience will then have a more familiar and authentic attachment with the organisation, which will help strengthen their bond.

This combination not only helps retain existing customers and attract new business, but it ultimately enhances the organisation’s reputation.

Become an expert

Interviews offer participants the chance to demonstrate their credibility and experience by providing insightful advice, commentary and guidance wherever possible. As a result, the marketplace will begin to recognise these individuals as experts whilst also boosting the reputation of their organisation.

Before long, journalists will appreciate the credibility of these interviewees and call upon them as useful resources of information when covering other trends or topical issues within their fields.

In addition to raising the profile of the organisation, being an established industry expert will help bring in new business opportunities and add long lasting commercial value to any organisation.

As experts that have worked with multi-national brands and ambitious start-ups to secure coverage that has had a lasting impact, if you would like to speak to us about how media interviews could work for you and your brand, please do give us a call on tel. 01924 862477.

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.

HOW SOCIAL MEDIA CAN BE USED FOR ALL THE RIGHT REASONS

Whether we like it or not, social media is already a big part of our lives both personal and in a business capacity. And, if you’re anything like me, you spend longer than you care to admit scrolling through the latest content on Instagram.

But, as something that’s often spoken of as a bad apple, social media can be incredibly useful. Here are some of the reasons why companies should take advantage of these platforms and increase their business presence online.

Social media is a platform that can be used to reach thousands of people

With regular posts that use hashtags and competitions that offer relevant prizes, you can engage directly with your audience.

Taking this approach, you will soon create a community of like-minded people. This then means that the posts you share have the potential to reach thousands of prospective customers.

Consistency is key here and frequent posts are a sure way to increase following over time. It is important to remember that this won’t happen overnight. However, with perseverance will come results.

Create a Brand Persona

If you review the social feeds of a few of your favourite brands, you can bet they are carefully curated to appeal to a specific demographic. They will also portray that business in a certain light by using a particular tone of voice.

Using social media gives you the opportunity to show off the personality behind your brand. This can be done through organic posts, adverts, endorsed content, images of your product and also when replying to consumers questions.

Easy way to communicate

Being active on social media gives potential customers the opportunity to reach out and ask questions they might not want to approach through email or on the phone.

These platforms are the perfect medium for asking these questions and are often used as a more informal way of communicating with a business.

Keep your eye on other Brands

Being active on social media allows you to keep a watchful eye on other brands. This may even be competitors.

It is common for brands to follow competitors and is a great research tool. It may even provide inspiration or lessons of how to avoid a crisis. Learning from others is fine however copying posts or plagiarising content isn’t. It can be a fine line so is one to remain cautious of.

Crisis Management

Often, by keeping a close watch on social activity and comments, you can stop a crisis in its tracks. Taking hold before it has had chance to have an impact on your business could be invaluable.

Unfortunately, social media is often the first-place consumers go to broadcast a complaint or opinion. In some instances, this will show your brand in a negative light.

Responding to such comments gives you the opportunity to deal with any problems quickly and efficiently. It also shows other followers you take negative feedback seriously and are keen to resolve any issues.

Managing complaints professionally and with the right tone and approach could turn a negative into a positive. It is just a case of knowing how to communicate with customers online.

Using PR to enhance online presence

It may sound simple but growing a social media presence can take serious perseverance and trial and error.

As a PR agency we have seen the demand for social media management grow over the years. Access to digital communications, and the expectation from customers that brands have an online profile, has made this a key part of our clients’ briefs.

To find out how we can support as you increase your social media following and online profile in the right way, why not give us a call on 01924 862477 or contact us here.

THE POWER OF PR: WHY REPURPOSING CONTENT MATTERS

The PR industry is constantly evolving, and as a result, agencies are having to adopt numerous tactics when implementing campaigns on behalf of clients.

There is an ever-increasing tool kit to choose from when raising a company’s profile, increasing brand awareness or enhancing an individual’s reputation. Some of the approaches that are frequently adopted include social media campaigns, influencer marketing strategies and sponsored or paid for digital media.

With all these methods to choose from, you could be forgiven for thinking more traditional skills had been set aside. However, this is not the case.

Extending audience reach through compelling content

At Open Comms we feel there should always remain a focus on coherent and informative pieces of content. Whether this be in the form of a press release, comment piece or a blog post. Compelling copy will deliver results for brands that want to communicate effectively with audiences.

As PR professionals, we know that securing frequent press coverage in the right media and using this across relevant channels remains a key objective for many of our clients. This approach allows organisations to build brand presence, communicate with chosen targets and enhance the bottom line.

Ultimately, the channels that are now available to PR professionals allow us to maximise the success of any single piece of content.

Press releases

Although there are many alternatives to the way we now digest news, the most efficient process of securing media coverage remains through the distribution of press releases. For content to be featured in the press it must have widespread appeal, not only to the journalist but also the reader.

At Open Comms we know how vital it is that we understand who the press release is being written for. We can then ensure the angle applies to the specific target audience; whether it’s regional, national or sector specific.

We understand that copy needs to contain a newsworthy or interesting angle in order for it to be read, digested and shared. This then makes this content as strong as it can be before being repurposed and used across multiple platforms.

Blog/news section

Once a press release has secured media coverage, the content can then be updated to feature on a company’s blog page or news section. This serves several key purposes:

  • Anyone visiting a website, including prospective customers, will have access to information about what is happening at an organisation at a given point in time.
  • Keeping visitors updated and informed will increase the number of times they access the website.
  • Frequently updating a blog or news section can significantly enhance a company’s ranking on Google and other search engines.

The reality is that the more frequently interesting and informative content is uploaded, the more likely it becomes that specific search terms will be associated with a company’s URL. This gives the pages greater authority, which improves page rank and as a result, generates even more organic traffic and prospects.

LinkedIn

At the same time as uploading content onto a blog page or news section, it can also be repurposed so that it can be shared across social media platforms.

It goes without saying that social media has become an online search tool of choice when people source information. In recent years, LinkedIn has invested heavily and is increasingly becoming the ‘go to’ platform for business-related activity.

As such, posting an update on a company LinkedIn page allows that business to engage with its followers. It can also extend this reach to those that are connected with its employees if they choose to share or like a post from their personal account.

Not only will this help increase a company’s presence on the platform, but when using hashtags or links to associated articles, it also informs professionals within a specific sector of this newsworthy content.

As a result, a company’s LinkedIn page can become a reliable source of relevant and topical content for existing clients and potentially new business prospects.

Summary

In summary, there are a number of ways that a business can use content to enhance their PR activity. Content is a great place to start. Thinking more strategically about how each article, press release, comment or feature will be used can make a real difference to results.

Start by thinking about the angle. Make it relevant and right for the audience. This can be used to shape a press release for media. Once coverage is achieved it can be amended and posted as a blog. The blog can then be repurposed for LinkedIn and shared across social channels.

Using this tried and tested method will help any business to create compelling copy that reaches the widest audience possible without getting tied up in knots in the process.

The value of producing well created pieces of content should never be overlooked and here at Open Communications, we take great pride in harnessing the power of the written word. Please find out more here or pick up the phone and give us a call on 01924 862477.

UTILISING PR PROPERLY AMID THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS

As the UK embarks on another spell of lockdown, we are now seeing signs of progress in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic. Although the future has never been more uncertain, these unprecedented times have guaranteed that the drastic changes to our daily lives will be ongoing for the foreseeable future.

The strict, but necessary, guidelines implemented by the Government in early March have caused widespread disruption; not just to our personal lives, but also to our professional lives as well. As society has been forced to adjust and adapt in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, the country has experienced a seismic economic shift that will be felt for many more months, if not years.

There has never been such a time where critical information has played a pivotal role. Customers, clients, business partners and employees alike must all be made aware of any changes that could have a significant impact on their lives.

Like so many other sectors, the PR industry has been forced to change rapidly to navigate through this ongoing pandemic. With that being said, it is at times of crisis that we realise just how valuable and critical communications can be.

As such, we believe that the implementation of a robust communications strategy can significantly help companies during this unprecedented period. We have listed our three top tips of delivering impactful PR amid the Coronavirus pandemic.

1. Take the opportunity to approach press and media outlets

During the nationwide lockdown, more eyes than ever will be searching for news and updates online. In response to this increase in online traffic, publications will be in need of as much content as possible to keep their readers engaged and interested.

Brands must take advantage of this opportunity by being proactive and calling on press contracts to find out just what sort of content is desired at this time. This will then enable them to tailor copy to the specific requests of each journalist and hopefully increase their chances of securing media coverage.

2. Don’t hide away from Covid-19

The ongoing pandemic has changed the way consumers shop, employees work and how services are delivered. Ignoring these changes could have a detrimental effect on companies and the relationship they have with clients and customers.

Communicating openly and honestly can be an effective way of creating trust and forming stronger relationships with the relevant people. A brand or company seen at the forefront of this crisis, whether its posting daily updates on websites, social media or in the press, can instill a sense of reliability and responsibility within the marketplace.

With that being said, businesses must recognise the difference between selling and informing. Communicating critical information isn’t an excuse to try to sell a product, so don’t fall in the trap of using it as a promotion tool. This will be received negatively and cause further damage to a brand.

3. Customer and client engagement

As life has taken a somewhat slower pace for some over recent months, it has provided these companies with an opportunity to reflect and reevaluate the way they operate. Part of this reflection could be focused on collating data regarding the experience customers and clients have when using a company’s services.

Crucially, this will help organisations to better understand how the current situation is impacting on their target markets whilst also providing them with a further opportunity to engage with their customer base.
An effective way to collate this information could be by using social media tools; whether it’s creating polls for followers to engage with or by posting questions for which the answer could be determined by retweeting or liking.

This will enable companies to communicate consistently on their own platforms, while also helping to garner more followers and potentially new business.

Although we don’t know when normalcy will return, we do know that we must remain resilient and willing to evolve to accommodate the current climate. Despite these challenging times, businesses need to keep an optimistic approach whilst continuing to deliver for their clients and customers.

Recognising the value of positive communications will not only support businesses throughout this pandemic, but organisations in all sectors across the wider economy.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA VS TRADITIONAL MEDIA: WHAT’S THE STORY?

Social-Media-Marketing-vs-Traditional-Marketing

It’s used by everyone from busy-bodies to businesses, politicians to pet pooches and, as the Guardian recently reported, even GCHQ has gotten in on the act.

The question remains, what is it that makes social media so different to the traditional channels we were once used to, and how can effective management of online communications platforms and apps positively impact upon a company’s bottom line?

For many organisations social media is an essential medium through which to communicate messages, form the level of personality which sets a brand apart from its competitors and provides a way in which relationships are built, and subsequently maintained, with consumers.

Whilst there is, undoubtedly, some crossover between the benefits that social media and traditional channels offer, using a combination of the two approaches will ensure that a brand’s message reaches the widest audience in the most fitting manner.

Round 1: sharing news

In today’s busy world we are surrounded by marketing messages at every turn. Whether it’s a text on a mobile phone, a red light whilst driving or an advertising billboard, each method communicates a message, but in a distinctly different way.

In the same way that these mediums differ, so too does the sharing of news from traditional and social media.

Here are two theoretical examples:

  1. Pet Pooch Apparel secures lucrative contract with leading retailer (alongside an image of the company’s directors outside the business’ headquarters)

vs

  1. It’s been a woofing good day here at Pet Pooch Apparel; with one wag of a fluffy tail we’ve made it rain ‘puppy style’ (insert picture of puppy in raincoat)

Example 1 is the type of headline that you’d see on a typical business news platform. Short, snappy and to the point. This message takes a professional tone, which is in-keeping with the readership of such a site. This type of media coverage raises the profile of a business and its achievements; building credibility by association as a result of appearing on a well-known business platform.

On the other hand, example 2 could feature on ‘Pet Pooch Apparel’s’ social media channels and, as such, takes a far more colloquial tone which communicates the personality of the brand. Featured alongside a link, which allows the reader to go directly to a page that features the product, this version of the same news is likely to attract a different reader and, therefore, should be posted in a way that will appeal to them.

Whilst the focus of a business story is primarily building the credibility of a business, the objective of social media channels is to build a relationship with the people who actually buy the products.

Whilst being on the radar of every large organisation within the region has its benefits, most companies will have competitors just around the corner and this makes the importance of creating a brand which appeals to buyers increasingly important.

The truth is that having a strong brand, personality and tone of voice is often the one thing that sets a business apart during a customer’s decision-making process.

In these examples it’s clear to see how each version of news has a distinct purpose. By shifting the focus of the story from a purely business mindset, to a form more likely to be considered engaging to the everyday social media user, the reach of the story can be broadened to appeal to a much wider audience.

Round 2: engaging with the customer

In what I’d envisage to be a fun and trendy business like ‘Pet Pooch Apparel’, magazines and consumer-focused publications are likely to be a part of any PR strategy.

Achieving coverage in this type of media would be the best way to raise the profile of the business amongst potential customers, whilst building the familiarity and trust necessary to achieve repeat sales and encourage loyalty.

However, though companies can submit a press release which is full of personality and is reflective of the brand’s values, this messaging is often significantly diluted when it finally finds its way into a publication.

As a result, relying entirely on media coverage from magazines to communicate with your customers and build your brand is a steady process which does not happen overnight. Instead, through a long-term strategy which targets the relevant magazines at the most appropriate times it will deliver results.

Yet, combine this approach with a stream of interesting, insightful blogs and quirky social media posts, and the whole process becomes much less sporadic and a lot more likely to yield quicker results.

Increasing the comments, likes and excitement surrounding your latest post, is a sure-fire way to gain fans and, with new followers, comes a wider audience with which to share your new products, services and offers.

On the other hand, we must consider that with a busy social media channel comes a certain amount of maintenance. With the ‘always on’ appeal of online apps, comes the potential for a large number of comments which shoppers increasingly expect will be replied to. This gives additional opportunity to stay ‘on brand’ by responding in a light-hearted manner but also takes a great deal of time and effort.

For example:

Question – Which accessories would you recommend for a Yorkshire terrier?

Possible response – Trendy or traditional, we’re sure that your terrier would appreciate this tweed flat cap! With his Yorkshire roots, we know he’ll feel right at home. Don’t forget to let us know what he thinks 😉

Round 3: the thrill of the chase

There’s no denying that coverage in the newspaper, a magazine or on a prestigious online platform feels infinitely more rewarding than simply posting on a company blog or social media channel.

Moreover, the uncertainty that accompanies the process of pitching a story to a publication and then waiting to see whether it appears, enhances the feeling of excitement when you do secure that much awaited coverage.

Once you’ve secured a story that even your mum would be proud of, you’ll most likely want to shout it from the rooftops! Well, once again, this is where social comes in and can be used as a platform to maximise your message and audience reach.

Round 4: consistency is key

It’s not always possible to rely on editorial coverage, for example your story may get bumped by a huge national crisis, and that is why a business should use its own channels to post the message to its audience and upload the news that they have to share.

Though it won’t happen overnight, regular posts and insights, consistent messaging and well managed, interesting content is the key to increasing brand awareness and, if your social media channels become a hit with customers, the chances are that your products will too.

In summary, working in PR and content marketing it is clear that both traditional media and social channels are complementary and can be used to create brand trust and loyalty for a business. If you’d like advice on how to maximise your own social media channels, would like assistance creating original content, or would like to speak to us regarding a PR strategy, please contact a member of our team on 01924 862477.

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.

Open drives business forward with Ring appointment

Ring Head Office

We are really pleased to announce that we are driving the business forward *pun intended* with our appointment as preferred PR partner for Ring, the leading lighting and vehicle accessories specialist to the aftermarket.

Following a competitive pitch, we secured the account to deliver year-round support for the business with the remit covering corporate, consumer and trade PR. In addition, we will work with the team at Ring to develop strategic campaigns to reinforce the profile of the company’s growing product portfolio.

Director of Open Comms, Lindsey Davies said: “The brief from Ring was something we quickly got to grips with. Having met the team, we recognised that they needed an agency that would be an extension to their team. Not only did we address the brief but also provided some creative recommendations that would push the boundaries beyond the more traditional approach taken by many in the market. Securing this account gives us a great start to the year.”

Marketing Manager for Ring, Henry Bisson said: “It was apparent from the first meeting that we were going to get along with Open and that was really important to us. The automotive sector can be more complex than people recognise and it can take some time to get used to the nuances involved but the agency is already making an impression and journalists we have worked with for years are accepting them as our PR division.”

We are really looking forward to getting to grips with a business that sits outside of the sectors that we already support including FMCG, food and drink, third sector, manufacturing and retail. We launched in 2008 and you can find us in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

 

When 4-inches IS more than big enough!

There has been a bit of a ‘wobble’ within the media over recent days, with the findings of a report from the Women and Equalities Committee and the Petitions Committee announcing that women are regularly told to abide by discriminatory dress codes for work.  

This all follows a previous story about a young woman who was employed as a temp at a large professional services firm. On arriving at the job, she was told to change her smart black flats for 2-4 inch heels.

Ms Thorpe refused and was asked to leave the company unpaid. She subsequently launched a petition (they didn’t see that coming!) which encouraged over 150,000 signatures and achieved national headlines throughout the country in both print and across broadcast.

There are a few things I want to make clear here before we start:

1.       It is not ok to ask people to unbutton their shirts – ever

2.       It is not ok to ask people to wear shorter skirts – again, ever!

3.       If you have a dress code you must make it common knowledge before offering someone a position – it is not right to dismiss them afterwards

I have heard stories of PR agencies making people unbutton shirts before pitches and have seen pictures whereby teams (all women coincidentally) have been made to wear tight skirts and shirts in ‘corporate colours’, which by the way looked ridiculous!

The problem lies in the fact that these examples are extreme.

The issue here goes far beyond 4-inch heels or the press coverage that this story has generated. As is often the case, the truth behind the problem is dictated by the decisions that we make and the industries we choose to work in.

A doctor as an example has to wear scrubs. I’m sure that they don’t feel attractive in them and many would prefer to work in jeans and a t-shirt or perhaps even a dress and flats but that isn’t possible because it is permitted that they follow the rules of their employment for hygiene reasons.

You could – and I’m guessing you will – argue that an office is not a fair comparison and I agree BUT when you work in a professional environment there are certain expectations about dress code.

I would never put in place a dress code at Open Comms, it would go against everything we believe in, but I do expect that everyone in the team is a true representation of our brand and business – which isn’t ripped jeans and a t-shirt.

We don’t all dress in suits every day and on occasion we will come in wearing trousers and a top. There is absolutely no ‘rule’ in terms of footwear but again I wouldn’t expect anyone to turn up in trainers or wellington boots – the team use their judgement and know that they are representing Open when they are at work.

Within a half-page piece in the i newspaper, it said that the report findings had found “They heard repeatedly from women who said their feet would bleed and that they were in so much pain they were unable to walk properly or lead a normal life.”

Now, come on. I don’t know anyone at all that this has EVER happened to. I wear heels most days and I don’t suffer from feet that bleed or pain when I walk because I wear shoes that fit me properly, and I really don’t believe a 2-inch heel for most people would cause too many problems.  

I think the main point of the piece, which is eluded to but not spelt out, is that people want to wear what they choose – they don’t want to conform. I don’t agree at all with the extreme cases that are shared across the papers and to unbutton shirts and roll up skirts turns my stomach but there has to be some degree of making better judgements when you decide where to work.

As many of the jobs that are referenced are within the professional services you would expect that these people do in fact have choices and it is the responsibility of the employer to share any dress code during the recruitment process. It is then up to the candidate to decide if they abide by that or not.

We need to be really careful in these instances that we don’t get caught up in believing that looking smart and making an effort is to be criticised. I enjoy wearing dresses and heels to work, I like to feel smart and professional. When I wear jeans I’m usually at home and my mindset is completely different.

For me, putting on a dress, skirt or trouser suit takes me from Lin to Lindsey from Open Comms. I don’t think I’m alone in this thought and I hope that some common sense prevails over the coming weeks because quite frankly I don’t want to have to wear flats for fear of being demonised for choosing to wear 4-inch heels to work.

The extreme cases need to be dealt with but one size does not fit all. The impact that this report has on certain industries could be very damaging – and not for those wearing the heels!