Tag: PR strategy

PR CONTINUES TO BE UNDERVALUED AROUND THE BOARDROOM TABLE

PR can often be an outcast and certainly underrepresented around the boardroom table. An unnecessary investment that cuts deep into company budgets. Granted, it can be difficult to measure the true success of a PR campaign but, without developing and maintaining a positive reputation, a company’s image can be put at risk.

The public’s perception has never been so vital to a business’ success and longevity. And as technological advancements continue to merge with our daily lives, the heat of the spotlight is only set to increase even more.

So, what does this mean?

There is very little room for mistakes. Whether it’s a lack of engagement on social media, a refusal to evolve services or an inability to attract new business, garnering a negative perception can often be led to the downfall of any organisation.

But there is hope! This can all be successfully and robustly manged using an effective PR campaign.

The purpose of PR

First of all, companies must determine what they want to achieve from a PR campaign. Versatile by nature, PR campaigns can be as bespoke as needed depending on the specific objectives an organisation intends to meet.

This can be anything from launching a new product, introducing an enhanced service, promoting a special event or the desire to increase the company’s profile and build brand awareness. Gone are the days when a humble press release was the most effective way to communicate with the public. Now a strategic and proactive approach must be implemented in order for a PR campaign to be successful.

Below is a list of things to consider when putting together a public relations plan:

  • Identify target audience
  • Target trade media and journalists that are dedicated to your specialism
  • Engage with target audience through regular social media posts
  • Position yourself as an expert through thought leadership pieces
  • React and comment on topical issues within your field or area
  • Pursue industry-specific award submissions
  • Create more personal and engaging blog posts
  • Pursue interview opportunities with press
  • Create NEWSWORTHY content about your business

Compiling these points into a step-by-step process, which are then scheduled and executed accordingly, will undoubtedly help a company build towards achieving its initial objective.

It is important to remember, however, that the difference between a poor campaign and a successful campaign is the ability to tell a consistent and compelling story.

This is how companies set themselves apart from direct competitors and stay relevant in the public’s perception.

Telling the story

The foundation of a strong PR campaign will be built on a company’s key message. This needs to be constantly seen and reiterated in any content that is produced. The message can be determined by simply asking why? Why is a company rebranding; expanding the workforce; releasing a new product; investing in IT infrastructure; moving offices; and so on.

Although the newsworthy angle will be to focus on what is currently happening within that company, the underlying messaging is often the reason behind it.

For example, a fashion house may announce the launch of a new store opening that will create 25 new jobs. Although this appears to be strong, albeit relatively straight forward news story, the underlying message may be that the store opening is part of a wider expansion strategy to help the fashion house hit the £5m turnover mark in the next 12 months.

For the duration of the PR campaign, the messaging should constantly echo that the fashion house is set to grow to a £5m business. As this is shared via journalists in the press, through social media, in blogs and other available platforms, the public perception will begin to view this fashion house as a growing and ambitious brand.

Communicating the story of the business can often lead to establishing stronger relationships between customers, members of the media and stakeholders, which in turn will help build brand awareness and customer loyalty. Once a brand establishes a strong following and reputation, the longevity of success will significantly increase.

Back to the boardroom

Taking all of this into account, it could be considered foolish for those with their hands on the budgets to deny a business the opportunity to protect and build its reputation.

The truth is that when PR is embraced and used to meet with the wider objectives of a company it can have a profound impact, not only on the brand profile but also the bottom line.

For more information about how Open Communications works with businesses and brands of all sizes please call a member of the team or email info@opencomms.co.uk.

PR stands for Press Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A proud Northerner

There have been a number of comment pieces recently requesting that brands and businesses consider suppliers outside of London. I wasn’t aware that there was a need to put out this call to action but apparently some companies feel that in order to get the best you have to go down South.

You won’t be surprised to hear that I’m not a believer of this philosophy, not because I’m from the North and proud of it but because I fail to see how geography can make you the best at what you do. I can only presume that you get to Kings Cross and by some miracle become a guru in your given sector.

It’s laughable that businesses still feel the need to ‘fake’ an office in London in some bizarre effort to 1. Look bigger than they are and 2. Attract bigger business.  Would it not be more productive and indicative of long term relationships to be honest?

With transport links being what they are today you can get to London, should you wish to, from Wakefield in around 2 hours. Knowing a number of people who live and work in London they find it difficult to cross the city in this time.

Not only do I know that there is an immense amount of talent in the North but also that we have leading organisations based here and also the events to support business and encourage growth.

Take for example two events that are coming up in the next couple of months – and I do have to take this opportunity to confess that Open Communications manage the PR for both – Wakefield Business Week and the Buy Yorkshire Conference.

Wakefield Business Week is a celebration of the success of the district. The week-long showcase is an open source event, which means that it is fully inclusive and allows for any business, group or individual to get involved and promote an event they are hosting from 18 – 22 March.

Right in the middle of the week is Wakefield Business Conference which will bring together more than 500 delegates, 50 exhibitors and a selection of headline speakers who will come together to network, connect and share their experiences. What a great way to meet potential suppliers and clients.

Then there is the Buy Yorkshire Conference, the largest business to business event in the North. This event, formerly the Yorkshire Mafia Conference, is off the scale. Attracting a massive 3,500 delegates, 170 exhibitors and a list of speakers that you simply couldn’t pay to see it is a must for any serious business.

We will be exhibiting at both of these conferences and I am looking forward to both. Not because we may generate business as a result, although that is obviously part of the reason we will be there, but to meet with new faces and contacts.

I am looking forward to introducing people to Open Communications and explaining that there is such a thing as a straight talking PR agency that cares more about results than air kissing! I want people to understand that you don’t have to go to London to find a PR agency that you can trust and most importantly that we are part of a vibrant and growing business community.

Business is still booming in the North and companies that only work with those who are based in the South are quite honestly missing out.

 

It’s all in the timing

Social media, content marketing, engagement, push, viral, digital… need I go on? These are all words that are used frequently in the world of marketing, PR and communications and they all lead back to one thing – attracting attention and sharing a message.

What I’ve noticed is that brands who have got it right, in my opinion, are those that are able to turn things around quickly. Take Bodyform as a classic, or Specsavers as another, then there’s Richard Branson and his stunt announcing the BA couldn’t get it up and Paddy Power’s ambush of the Ryder Cup.

The way that these brands have been in a position to turn around their campaigns so quickly, never mind come up with them in the first place, is fantastic. Not only are they creative and quirky they capture attention and get their message across. At the end of the day, most brands use PR and marketing in the first instance to raise the profile of their business and in these cases they do exactly that.

The problem of course is that it is often impossible to get approval to turn something around in such limited timescales however the more that brands become aware of the benefits to ‘almost real time’ engagement the better.

It seems to me that the future is all about the timing and that means reacting within hours as opposed to days. Let’s hope that more brands see the benefit in putting PR at the top of their list of priorities because this is simply the best way to shout about your brand which subsequently puts your products in front of the consumer.

HORSE BLUNDER IS A ‘DEAD CERT’ FOR FARM SHOPS

As expected the story about horse meat being found in products that are specified as beef continues to run and run… sorry!

Having already commented on our blog about the need for food products to be more clearly labelled, it also got me thinking about who could benefit from the blunder. As ever when a PR crisis hits the press there are winners and losers and without a doubt Findus are currently taking the brunt – mainly due to the way they have chosen to manage a crisis, which relied on effective, honestly and timely communication with customers, stakeholders and the media.

Yet another shining example of why brands should have communication at the heart of everything they do and a PR team around the boardroom table.

Anyway, I digress.

As a former Yorkshire Dales Lass and someone who is an eager supporter of farm shops, I think this situation is a dead cert for those who are willing to use it to their advantage.  I can just picture it now, a big billboard sized poster with the strap line ‘Our horses are here for riding only’ or ‘A farm shop where beef is beef and proud of it’ with a cow looking proudly at the camera.

There are so many quirky and cost effective things you could do with this situation to reinforce the commitment by farm shops to provide fresh produce to customers. This is a real opportunity for those who want to shout about the need to buy fresh and to buy British.

I wonder who will take the bull by the horns and be first past the post with a campaign that will take a negative and use it to their advantage. I’ll have a side bet that it won’t be long before we see one of the local farm shops in the West Yorkshire area putting a few well-placed puns out there.

Has anyone seen any great examples of smaller brands and businesses using this ‘cash cow’ (or should that be horse?) to their advantage? I can’t wait to see them.

The true strength of a brand

It can be difficult to sound anything but flowery when you are trying to explain to companies how important it is to build a brand, inject personality into a business and become recognised for your values.

Getting the packaging right, making sure the design stands out on shelf, ensuring the copy is drafted using the right tone of voice and building brand presence with message retention through a consistent and sustainable PR strategy are all the ‘things’ that take a something and make it a household name.

I saw a great example of how brands have got it right this week when I came across an article in Brand Republic announcing that Selfridges have created a ‘no noise’ campaign, which intends to discourage ‘information overload’.
The idea is that brands are displayed without logos or branding. The more interesting thing about this campaign is that consumers are still aware of what the products are meaning in simple terms that they are doing something very right.

It’s fair to say that not all brands can do this and of course it will work best for FMCG goods but it is an interesting concept all the same. When you get to the point where you can take away your brand and people still know who you are and what you have to offer you know that all of your marketing efforts and budgets are paying off.

Needless to say I wouldn’t recommend this become a permanent move but it’s an interesting test all the same. It would be a great ‘geeky’ game for those who work in marketing – can you guess what each item is without the brand?

Who wants to play?

SNOW WAY!

Well, well, well… we didn’t see that one coming, it’s only bloomin snowing!

While the country grinds to a standstill and the gritters are out in force, businesses are already worrying about what impact it will have on their performance, sales and month end figures and we’re only at 2 inches.

Although I completely appreciate that some companies and particularly small enterprises are unable to run when the weather turns the roads into an ice rink, there are others who should take the chance to use this to their advantage.

We are very fortunate to work in an industry where most of the action happens online or over the phone. We can write press releases, speak with the media, engage with bloggers and plan PR and marketing strategies from the comfort of our homes and we don’t even have to step outside of our front door.

And so…

Those companies, who are able to make it to work, will know that ‘snow days’ often mean clients aren’t around, people are trying their best to log in or work remotely but it rarely happens like it would on a normal working day.

This is a great chance for these businesses to use the time to their advantage. Take a step back and think about all the things you never get around to. Your clients are happy – let’s be honest they are probably sledging with the kids! – so grab a pen and a piece of paper and discuss all the things that you want to do to make this year your best year ever.

The phones will be quiet so take the 2 hours you would answering calls and dealing with queries and use them to plan your marketing efforts, or sales tactics. Regroup as a business and find out what is working and what could work harder. Find out what ideas people have and how these can impact positively on your performance.

I’m a great believer in using your time to your own advantage when you get the chance, so do it. Get the kettle on (and the heaters), break open that second box of chocolates or biscuits and take some time out. Sometimes the time you think is a waste is actually the most productive.