Tag: pr agency

TAKING A PROACTIVE APPROACH TO WORK IN LOCKDOWN

In recent months, the public have made a collaborative effort to get life back to some sense of normal. As lockdown restrictions began to ease, employees returned to the workplace, children were back in school and the economy was embarking on a long road to recovery.

This progress, however, is now at risk of coming to an abrupt halt. Although businesses across all sectors have worked tirelessly to become safe and secure, this global pandemic is once again on the rise and stricter social measures are set to be reintroduced.

Although this may be a daunting prospect for many, we must try to remind ourselves of the positive developments that have been made both in our personal and professional lives.

Among the many changes society has experienced, the biggest adjustments were most prevalent in the way we work. New technologies were embraced at a rapid rate, working practices were completely modified and entire industries underwent their own digital revolution.

Yes, the prospect of another lockdown is unwelcome, but businesses across the country are now equipped to deal with this scenario and must take with them the lessons they have learnt from the past nine months.

Communication and connectivity

The sudden shift to remote working caused widespread disruption across the marketplace. Offices became completely barren as vast numbers of employees began to work for their own homes. Although having a flexible workforce isn’t a new concept, it has never been practiced on such a wide scale and, for the most part, on a permanent basis.

A trial by fire for many, clients, customers, employees, and key stakeholders had to quickly evolve their traditional working methods if they were to ensure productivity and business continuity remained intact.

Those that were successful will have undoubtedly implemented new and innovative technologies into their business processes. This has proven to be most effective in the way we now communicate.

With physical interactions strictly prohibited, the Open Comms team for example have utilised video calling as a safe and secure alternative. Although the preference for many will always be to engage face-to-face, the enhancement of video capabilities has provided many benefits to our team. As with many workforces across the country, it has ultimately helped us to remain open for business.

With a flexible working approach, employers have been able to allocate more time to catch up with their team and other office members, whether this is through Teams, Skype or other video conference platforms.

Unexpectedly, without the usual rat race rush and time spent in a particular office, the use of technology has also enabled employees to become better connected to colleagues from different areas of the business. Not only does this create a more connected and inclusive culture, but it also promotes synergy across the company as a whole.

More importantly, many businesses have harnessed video conferencing to deliver a digital customer experience when conducting consumer to business interactions. As the behaviors of potential consumers continue to change, those hardest hit by this global pandemic must resume using video technology as a means of engaging with their customer base and selling products or services.

Mental and physical wellbeing

As we are now many months into the Coronavirus crisis, the traditional eight-hour working day is being slowly replaced with a more flexible model. Although adjustment periods can often be difficult, adapting to living amid a global pandemic has the potential to magnify all our concerns and anxieties.

When the spread of this virus initially took hold, the uncertainty that came with it undoubtedly had an adverse impact to many people’s mental states and being housebound for multiple months was also detrimental to our physical fitness.

However, we quickly learnt to take advantage of lockdown by using the extra time to enjoy life away from the office. Whether this was developing new hobbies, exercising more frequently or spending some much-needed time with our families. We must continue to make concerted efforts to stay proactive despite the threat of Covid continuing to impact our lives.

That being said, it is important to remember that no one person’s mental health will be the same, and therefore can change on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. When someone may be struggling, another could be thriving. Therefore, whether it’s business or in our personal lives, we must also be wary of the people we work and live with as further social restrictions come into play.

Although this has obviously been a difficult year, we must continue to adapt what we have learned over the past several months to improve our daily and future lives. Once this has passed, the legacy of this pandemic should see our working and personal lives be vastly improved.

Why agencies matter

Why agencies matter

Last week I read an interesting article in the Drum. As part of its Agencies4Growth festival, the publication was looking at why agencies matter. This piece was an interview with Janelle Orozco, Diageo’s chief procurement officer, to find out why the brand values its agency relationships.

The focus was on why businesses would invest in agencies when they could simply appoint the talent they need inhouse. This isn’t a new topic of conversation, nor is it one that has a simple answer. There are arguments for and against.

What was interesting was that Janelle was able to see the benefits to both. In particular, the added value that comes from having the right agencies that can work as an extension of a brand team.

She commented: “The best agencies can be truth tellers, helping you see what you are missing. Brands and companies can benefit from an external perspective to hold up a mirror or shine a light on something that can be missed when you are too close to the problem or too wedded to how things have always been done. Great agencies have a breadth of perspective from working with clients across sectors, and, often, around the world.”

Building strong relationships

It may seem obvious, but building strong relationships is so important when you are working with an agency. It is likely you will be providing them with access to confidential information that could be business critical.

It is crucial that you can share your real thoughts and feelings on some challenging subjects. PR isn’t always straight forward and having honest conversations will result in meaningful outputs. It will also allow the agency to deliver recommendations that have a positive impact.

There are times when agencies and clients disagree. That is fine. Like anything, some topics will be up for discussion. Campaigns will need reviewing and ideas refining. Again, having the relationships in place that allow you to do this productively will deliver stronger results.

When times are hard and relationships are tested, it should become obvious why agencies matter. If not, then there may be some changes that need to be made.

Transparency leads to trust

When we launched in 2008, one of the values of our business was to be transparent with our clients. Nothing has changed. What we have seen over the years is that clients appreciate how we choose to operate.

Hiding costs, increasing budgets and making huge margin on bought in items just isn’t our way. It has never sat comfortably with us, and never will.

Clients know that when they appoint us as their preferred PR partner, they will get honest advice. Furthermore, the ideas and campaigns that we put forward will be realistic. We always work towards meeting with objectives so that our results have a meaningful impact.

We never take our clients for granted and being truthful with them means they can trust us. Working in this way allows our relationships to evolve from third party supplier to trusted confident very quickly. It also provides our clients with the results and experience that gives them evidence of why agencies matter.

Accessing skills

In the piece from the Drum, Janelle comments: “Then, of course, there is the magic of the work agencies co-create alongside marketing teams”.

This really resonated with me, as it is exactly how we approach campaigns for clients. Rather than assume we have all the answers, we pool our resources and ideas. It may be a brainstorm or a briefing session, but we make sure we access all the talent that is available to us.

It is important to remember that clients, just like agency employees, have mixed experiences. This could be from previous roles and may even be agency side. As such, the strongest campaigns are often those that have been shaped by the whole team.

We know that we have the skills as an agency to build and deliver campaigns from scratch, however working collaboratively means our clients get the best of both worlds. We often find that the brand managers we work with want to be involved. As such, working together allows them to do that. It also means we can all share and celebrate success.

Far from de-valuing what an agency can bring to the table, it just means that the campaigns will be influenced by everyone involved.

Added value  

The reason that most businesses invest in agencies is to add value. There should be no dispute that the companies you choose to work with are delivering a return on investment. If they aren’t, then it may be time to review those relationships.

Although we are a PR and content management agency, our clients know that they can come to us with any questions that they have. They also know that we will give them our honest opinion on any subject. It may not be what they want to hear but it goes back to transparency and trust. It also means we are giving them the added value they are looking for.

I remember a meeting we had with a client. We had gone off topic several times and ended up talking about some challenges this client was facing. It had nothing to do with PR, but that was the point. As they left, they turned around and said: “I love our meetings. It’s like a counselling session and a monthly catch up all in one.”

If there was ever a statement that proves why agencies matter, then this has to be it. For us, that’s exactly how it should be. We don’t just meet with objectives or deliver results. We add value where it has greatest impact.

Working with an agency

A critical factor to the way that we work with our clients is exactly that. We work with our clients. We do not work for them. The difference this one small word makes is quite astonishing.

When you start a relationship with the attitude that a supplier works for you, it creates barriers. Changing the way that you look at this will allow you to move from having suppliers to partners. It also helps people to feel valued and that they are part of a wider team. Furthermore, it delivers a stronger return on investment. After all, agencies will work harder for those that value their time and expertise.

In the article from the Drum, Janelle concludes: “In summary, agencies continue to be vital to brands and can be a source of competitive advantage when they fit culturally, commercially and strategically.”

We couldn’t agree more, and when you do find an agency with that fit, it leads to lasting relationships that will benefit your business. It will also give you all the evidence you need to truly understand why agencies matter.

For further details about Open Comms, who we work with and what we do, please visit: www.opencomms.co.uk or call: 01924 86244.

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 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.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY OPEN COMMUNICATIONS

Open Communications

It’s with such a sense of achievement that we say ‘Happy Birthday Open Communications’. To think that it was over a decade ago we launched the business is hugely rewarding but also scary in equal measure.

Some days it feels like a lifetime ago and then others it could have been yesterday. So much has happened in the last 12 years. We have grown, both as an organisation and as individuals. It has been a rollercoaster but one that I would get on and ride all over again.

There have been a few things that have helped us along the way. Knowing that times are tough for others, I thought it may be useful to recap and to pass on what I have learnt.

Network has to equal net gain

When we launched, like many small start-ups, we went along to every networking event available. This was the right thing to do. What we should have realised, perhaps sooner than we did, was that some just aren’t the right fit.

There doesn’t have to be a specific reason, it might just be the format. For us, we found those that did work, and we realised that when you want to help each other you get a better return all round. In our experience being forced to attend or to pass on referrals was counterproductive.

Thankfully, the business community we are now a part of is hugely supportive. We have a close group that we can rely on and that suits us. In order to attract new opportunities, we let our results do the talking.

Location, location, location

We were criticised when we started for choosing to be based in Wakefield. A lot has changed over the years and this was one of the best decisions we made. The District may not have been a vibrant hotspot at the time, but it is becoming increasingly popular now.

Not only has there been huge investment in Wakefield over the years, it has also attracted some globally recognised brands and ambitious entrepreneurs.

Rather than become a small fish in a large pond, we felt that we could grow with Wakefield and that is exactly what has happened. In 2008 we had a box room at the bottom of the city. Today, we have a three-storey office in the heart of the legal and financial centre.

Thinking about location is so important. It gives us a point of difference and it has allowed us to make our mark for all the right reasons.

Building a reputation

As a business that manages the reputation for others, it goes without saying that we focus on our own too. This has always been imperative for us. We practice what we preach, and we make sure that clients have a lasting and positive impression, however long we work with them.

Only a week ago I took a call from a former client asking if I had time for a chat.  The answer is always yes, and they explained they may be looking for PR services. I thanked them for thinking of us and the response was, “Why would I consider anyone else?”.

We never take feedback like this for granted. Quite the opposite. We make sure that we say thank you and that we treat people as we would like to be treated. It’s the little things that go a long way. For client’s to come back to us time and again is a real compliment. It’s also just one reason why we are here today saying Happy Birthday Open Communications.

Don’t look back in anger

A great song and a great lesson to learn. As a business owner it is incredibly difficult not to take things personally. After all, everything is personal when the company is founded on your own values. That said, I have learnt over the years to try not to take things to heart.

It’s not easy and I still struggle, however I know that in some instances it’s best not to sweat the small stuff.

Everyone makes mistakes, it’s what makes us human, the important thing is learning from them. I’ve lost count of the number of nights I have lost sleep over something trivial. A former colleague once said, “It’s PR not ER” and I think they were right.

It’s not about how much you care; it’s caring for the right reasons.

Celebrate success

As an organisation, we find this really hard and it’s something we are working on. As a business we have so much to be proud of and to celebrate yet we get caught up in lists and tasks, prioritising everything over ourselves.

It is important for companies to celebrate success, however small. We know this and we will be making more of an effort. We do raise a glass at key moments throughout the year, however we need to be better at doing so more often.

Sometimes giving yourself a pat on the back is the hardest thing you can do. It’s far easier to beat yourself up. The real challenge is recognising that no one will thank you for giving yourself a kicking. Having a more positive mindset can be passed to others and that is a lasting impression that will make a lasting difference.

Never stop learning

PR is an evolving industry. It never stops and neither do we. Learning new skills keeps us all interested and gives us so much to think about when we plan every campaign for our clients.

Whatever sector our clients work in, the tactics we have access to are changing. This means we can share new ways of working that could deliver stronger results. We are honest and open with the brands we manage, and many of them are willing to try new things. We could just keep our approach exactly the same, but where is the fun in that?

What never fails to amaze me, is that more than two decades on and I’m still as excited by PR and what the industry has to offer as I ever was. I think once I stop getting butterflies in my tummy, it’s time to call it a day.

Thankfully the flutter is still there!

Be thankful

Having a business is difficult. There are no two ways about it. Times can be really hard and it can be stressful. In contrast, things can be great and you grin from ear-to-ear. The reality is that there is no consistency. That’s why it’s like a rollercoaster ride.   

Being thankful for what you have is really important. It’s so easy to let things get on top of you. Taking a moment to stop and to look at how far you have come will make a big difference. For me, having a business with one of my closest friends – and still being friends – is an achievement in itself. It is so easy to fall out, however we recognise our skills and both see the value in each other. We don’t always agree, but we don’t have to. I’m thankful the values that matter are those that we share.

A huge pitfall for companies is to spend too much time watching competitors. The truth is, if your clients want to work with someone else, they will. I would rather spend the time focusing on my business and making the changes I need to keep my clients happy than obsessing about what others are doing.

Happy Birthday Open Communications

And so, with that, I want to take this opportunity to say, Happy Birthday Open Communications. It’s been an adventure and the journey is far from over. We have some exciting plans and we look forward to what the next decade has to offer.

For all of our colleagues, clients, friends and family – thank you. Without you all we wouldn’t be what we are today. We hope you will join us in raising and glass. Cheers!

If you would like to speak to us about your PR needs or how we could add value to your business, please call a member of the team. 

THE RETURN TO THE OFFICE: AN OPEN COMMS SAGA

As the first week of September gets underway, it marks the return to the office for the Open Comms team. Situated in the heart of Wakefield city centre, our head office is surrounded by numerous businesses that are, like us, taking the first steps into an environment they have missed for the best part of five months.

After working from home for so long, I can honestly say that the hustle and bustle of the morning commute is very welcome. This change in routine has been needed and interacting with my colleagues in person has never been so valued. Yes, we have put strict Covid guidelines in place, but we are certainly back to business for the most part.

With that said, the Open Comms team did implement and execute a successful working from home strategy. Despite this year’s widespread disruption, our work remained uncompromised and our client list grew.

Although transitioning into remote working did have challenges, we were able to adapt and evolved our business processes. We realise that we have been fortunate. And although virtual client meetings may be here to stay for the foreseeable future, I can honestly say that returning to the office has given me a sense of normality I have longed for.

Despite only just returning, the benefits of working at Open Comms HQ are already obvious.

Routine

When I look back at my own lockdown experience, the one aspect that I felt I significantly lacked and missed was a routine. Whilst I initially intended on maintaining some sort of constructive regime, this was quickly abandoned.

The allure of extra sleep and the ease of staying in become all too hard to fight. This was in addition to the separation between my home and life becoming somewhat blurred.

I quickly realised that I was someone who didn’t just like a structured day, but also thrived off it. So, it comes as no surprise that I can already recognise improvements in my daily routine, especially when I sit at my desk to begin the day.

Don’t get me wrong, during the lockdown period I evolved my skillset, adopted more efficient working practices and became a more well-rounded PR professional. But, as I transfer these traits into a constructive and purposeful office space, they are amplified and enhanced.

This is because I arrive at the office to work and leave the office to go home. The distinction is clear. As a result, I personally feel that my productivity has already improved, and my focus is much sharper.

The true value of the evening commute has also been fully realised. This time, which I obviously didn’t have in lockdown, is now one of the most important parts of my day. It gives me the chance to reflect on the day just gone, plan for tomorrow and ultimately switch off before arriving home.

Creative space

One of the most enjoyable aspects of working in PR is the opportunity to have a creative outlet. Whether this applies to securing coverage in the media, increasing brand awareness, promoting a new product or growing a company’s profile, we need to create engaging content for our clients.

I must admit that there were times I often stared at the four walls of my bedroom office, which I say loosely, in search of some creative inspiration. But my home décor isn’t the most ideal surroundings for when I needed to create some striking social media posts or compelling copy for marketing material.

I firmly believe that your environment has a significant impact on your productivity. This is unquestionably the case when I work in the Open Comms office.

With spacious and comfortable workstations, ability to work from multiple rooms and access to critical resources, I tend to deliver improved results, perform more efficiently, and increase my levels of productivity.

Collaboration and communication

As an expert communicator, it may be obvious that communication plays a pivotal role within my daily duties. However, this aspect of my profession was arguably the most impacted by the pandemic.

Not only was it apparent that robust communications played a crucial role in the lockdown period, it also became clear that this was also the most challenging to achieve.

Shifting to remote working put daily correspondence at risk. The Open Comms team had to adapt new technology to not only maintain communications with our clients, but also each other as well.

Whether it was transferring team-wide meetings to video conferences, scheduling private Teams chats to discuss key projects or just wanting to have a catch up over the phone, communicating with one another was not as simple as it may sound!

The benefits of discussing ongoing PR Campaigns and client projects in person not only quickens the entire process, but it also helps establish a much more cohesive working environment. We at Open Comms pride ourselves on being strong collaborators and this is much more effective when we can communicate clearly and much more frequently with on another.

Now we have returned, there is a sense of enthusiasm and buzz among the team that reassures me we will pick up like we never left!

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.

THE BENEFITS TO PROVIDING A DETAILED BRIEF

Starting work on a new campaign is an exciting time where we have the opportunity to focus all of our attention on our creative ideas. Starting with the exciting stuff; the in-store activation, influencer marketing and attractive PR drop, we can create the wow factor for consumers and clients alike. While this is all well and good, experience has taught us that we need to take a step back and be certain that our ideas will match that of the client’s brief. It is far too easy to get caught up in the fun and miss the finer details.

This is exactly why there are huge benefits to providing a detailed brief if you want to get the most from your PR resource.

Deliver measurable results

Providing a detailed brief is worth the time and effort as is it allows an agency to show what they have delivered at the end of a campaign. Showing clients that we have delivered what they wanted also means we are able to demonstrate the return on investment they have achieved through commissioning our services. .

When we work with clients we make sure to set very specific objectives so that we can measure our success throughout a campaign. It doesn’t always go to plan, but with metrics in place and regular meetings we can change our tactics to meet with the needs of the brand.

Managing expectations is a big part of what we do and as an honest and ‘open’ agency, we make sure to be as transparent as possible. This builds relationships and confidence. Our clients know they can trust us to do a good job and to do it well.

Ensure everyone is on the same page

When working with clients the importance of a detailed brief is something that can be easily overlooked in the early stages of a campaign. The problems start when an agency is asked to provide feedback and it is inconsistent with the client’s expectations.

Having an in-depth discussion at the very start about what a brand hopes to achieve from PR will dispel any myths and set good foundations.

While an agency may want to deliver something risky or creative, we find its always best to look back at objectives and make sure that the tactics will deliver.

It’s not about dampening creativity but more about building trust and securing results through sticking to a brief!

Refined messaging

Only a detailed brief from a client will allow an agency to refine any messaging and potentially the chosen tone of voice.

Taking the time to understand brand values, beliefs and aspirations for a campaign helps a PR agency to evolve the approach and targets. Alongside this, discussing what has and hasn’t worked in the past can help establish the best way to proceed with a new campaign.

Although messaging can be changed part-way through a PR programme, it isn’t best practice and we would always advise that having clear guidance from the outset will work far better. After all, there is no point in wasting time, effort and money through bad planning.

Summary

Providing a detailed brief gives agencies and clients a focus. It allows everyone involved to achieve what was first discussed and to manage realistic expectations. One of the best feelings is to showcase results that meet with the objectives of a brand and business when a campaign comes to an end. This is just one of the things that makes PR such a rewarding career!

If you’d like to discuss ways that the team at Open Comms can with your next campaign, contact us on info@opencomms.co.uk or call 01924 862477.

FINDING THE RIGHT FIT: WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN CHOOSING AN AGENCY

Agency

When deciding on a PR agency, you may find yourself spoilt for choice. However, the reality is that not every agency will be a good fit. More importantly, ending up with the wrong one can often have detrimental impacts on your business.

With such high stakes, it’s vital that companies make the right decision when it comes to outsourcing their PR requirements. While it may seem like a daunting process, here are three steps you can take to ensure that you are teaming up with an agency that is best suited to you and your business.

Performance

Performance - agency

More often than not, PR agencies provide similar services; it’s their performance that sets them apart. Therefore, the first simple step to take is to ask to review previous work and case studies. This will help you to fully understand the agency’s true capabilities and whether they have the capacity to fulfill your requirements.

Take into consideration the following:

  • Have they worked with a similar brand before?
  • Have they taken on projects of a similar size and scale to yours?
  • Do they highlight any return on investment?
  • How do they measure success?
  • What brands have they worked with?
  • Do they have retained clients?
  • How long have they been in business?
  • Have they been recommended?

People

The importance of teamwork in PR

An agency may look perfect on paper, but it’s the people that make all the difference. Let’s say that you were hiring internally. What would be your main concerns? Ultimately, for many businesses it boils down to having employees that are qualified and can be trusted to deliver results. This very approach should be kept when outsourcing.

Early in the process of choosing a preferred PR partner, you must identify how transparent the agency and its people are. This can be done through asking the right questions, such as:

  • How do you report your results?
  • How do you deal with a project / campaign that is not going to plan?
  • How do you communicate with clients?
  • How often do you communicate with clients?
  • What happens if our objectives are not met?
  • What return on investment can you promise?

Purpose

Most agencies are built on a set of values. It’s important to recognise these, as they reveal purpose, and this is fundamental to differentiating one company from another.

Before investing in an agency, you must first understand why they exist? What are their goals and objectives as an organisation? Ultimately, being purpose-driven is a reflection of the company’s ambitions and clear desire for success. The more driven and ambitious an agency is, the more committed they are to delivering results for you!

Finding the right PR agency is not always easy, but is certainly worth all the effort when you get it right. If you’d like to discuss ways that the team at Open Comms can help in managing your brands PR strategy, contact us on info@opencomms.co.uk or call 01924 862477.

HOW VALUES RESONATE WITH CLIENTS

Values reveal purpose, define culture and support vision. Most importantly, they influence performance. Without them, a business is nothing more than an empty shell touting products or services.

When interviewing potential candidates for a job, an employer’s decision often boils down to who would be the ‘best fit’. This isn’t just based on whether a person has the right skill set, it also considers whether they reflect the organisations values.

Similarly, in the world of Public Relations, the way that clients make their choice is no different.

That being said, it shouldn’t come as a surprise why Open Comms is the chosen PR agency for some of the largest brands in the country and has been for years. Alongside an impressive track record of success, what truly makes us a great company to work with are our core values.

Openness and honesty

Suffice it to say, being open is extremely important to us. Not only is it in our name, but it’s in our company DNA too. We don’t do ‘air kissing’ and we surely don’t shy away from voicing our opinion.

We do however use our expertise to make informed decisions when it comes to clients and campaigns. If we have doubts about budgets or briefs, we are completely honest with our feedback.

At the same time, if a project is not going as planned, we aren’t afraid of revisiting the drawing board and tweaking our approach to ensure we deliver the return on investment our clients expect.

Ultimately, it’s this level of transparency that positions us as an agency that can be relied on as a trusted partner to deliver results. It is also why more than 90 per cent of our business comes from client referral.

A will to win

At Open, we exhibit a complete determination to achieving success in all aspects of our business. Particularly, when it comes to the brands we represent. Going back to our clients with no results is simply not an option. Which is why, every member of our team works to win.

However, it would be an understatement to say that we just ‘work’ for our clients. No. We’re committed to them and their goals. So much so, that our founders decided from the outset that they wouldn’t work for competing businesses. Why? Well, purely to make sure that as an agency we could dedicate our focus on meeting with the objectives of one client without any conflict of interest.

Just another one of the reasons why we choose to specialise in clients, rather than sectors. You could say our work ethic is unmatched.

Leading by example

Emma and Lindsey (our founders) have always made it a priority to integrate our company values into everything that we do. For us, they are so much more than just ‘words on a page’. In fact, they are a bedrock on which our everyday decisions are made.

Having worked at Open for well over a year now, I have witnessed first-hand how this approach is fundamental to building successful client relationships. Not only are values a great indication of how a company operates, but they play a significant role in determining workplace culture – a major point to consider when outsourcing.

An organisations culture is key to establishing behaviour among employees, which is what ultimately impacts performance. Being focused on honouring our core values, means that we are also committed to consistently performing for our clients. After all, their wins are our wins too.

If you’d like to discuss ways that the team at Open Comms can help in managing your brands PR strategy, contact us on info@opencomms.co.uk or call 01924 862477.

 

 

SOCIAL MEDIA: SHARE WITH CARE

For many of us, social media is as engrained within our lives as that all-important morning cup of tea. As such, it can be easy to overlook the importance of sharing with care. However, in today’s world, attitudes and approaches are changing at an ever-increasing pace. None of us knows what the future holds, which is why a responsible approach to what we detail online is vital.

This attitude shouldn’t just apply to brand channels, but personal ones too. Contrary to popular belief, the two personas are not entirely exclusive. What is shared via an individual’s own accounts can reflect negatively upon a business, and vice versa.

So, before diving head-first into sensitive territory, here are a few considerations which might just help you to avoid a social media crisis in the making:

Think ahead

Maybe it was a flippant reference to politics or a barely considered comment about environmental issues, the news cycle of late has shown that past opinions can quite quickly have significant repercussions.

While we must all still be able to share our feelings, carefully contemplating how and where this takes place can never be taken too seriously.

Trust us – your future self will thank you for it!

Consider context

Interpretation is always impacted by context. And naturally, over time, this will change. With social media and other online channels potentially hosting content for an indefinite period, it is important to think about how this could influence the way that a message is perceived.

After all, our thoughts and circumstances at age 20 are highly unlikely to reflect those at age 40. But the chances are that somewhere, those posts are saved and accessible to someone.

Behaving responsibly now, could save some incredibly uncomfortable consequences many years down the line.

Aim for accuracy

Fake news is common knowledge, but that doesn’t always mean it’s easy to spot.

Everyone, news outlets included, has an agenda. Remaining vigilant to this is essential if individuals and brands are to maintain a respectable presence online.

If you are sharing or commenting on an article or situation, make sure that you gain insight from more than one reputable source. This way, you are more likely to project an informed picture of a circumstance or event rather than a rash response you may live to regret.

‘If in doubt, leave it out’

A favourite saying of ours and one that has, to this day, never failed us.

Instinct is often surprisingly accurate. If it feels uncomfortable or risky, it is usually a sign that something is best avoided.

If the urge is still there, at the very least, ensure that you gain some reputable advice. The option to delete a comment, no matter how much you regret it, does not take away the fact that it was made in the first place.

What’s more, these days, technology allows for comments to by captured and stored by other users. This means that remarks can still be shared, long after they appear to have been removed.

Accept responsibility

If all else fails, know when to say sorry. If there’s one thing people hate more than someone who’s made a mistake, it’s a person who refuses to accept accountability for their actions.

But, if you’ve reached this stage, learn from past mistakes and seek reputable advice first. The very last thing that you need is a badly worded apology which doesn’t address the issue correctly. This can quite easily take the situation from bad to worse.

At Open Comms we maintain and monitor client social channels day in day out. So we like to think that we know a thing or two about presenting a positive picture for brands and businesses.

Whether it’s a company Twitter page, LinkedIn profile or Instagram feed, we can take the stress out of social media.

To speak to us about your business’ social channels, contact a member of the team on 01924 862477. Alternatively, email info@opencomms.co.uk.