Tag: pr

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.

PR SUPPORTS BRANDS THAT ARE OPEN FOR BUSINESS

PR supports brands that are open for business

Despite the challenges that many companies are facing, I’ve been buoyed by the resilience that our clients have shown. If anything, they recognise now more than ever that PR supports brands that are open for business.

It’s the right approach to take. After all, what’s the alternative? It would perhaps be easier to close the doors, ignore the facts and shut off from the world. The reality is that this doesn’t give the right impression to customers or prospects.

A focus on the future

It was enlightening for me to find that the organisations we work alongside are looking to the future. There is a real energy and positivity about what is around the corner. Rather than focus on the negative, we are putting in place plans that will help to achieve business objectives.

We have schedules of good news stories, content ready to be posted, shared and liked and social channels that are frequently updated attracting attention from relevant audiences. It’s great to be so busy and to see how organisations are more aware that PR supports brands that are open for business.

Redirecting budgets   

During hard times it is quite typical for brands to cut marketing spend. It’s almost a default position, but we haven’t found that this time round. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Progressive businesses are redirecting budgets and showing how resilient they can be.

Many companies are recognising that now is the time to shine to stand out from competitors.

Using PR to explain that brands are open for business goes back to the basic principles of what we do. Launching products and services, making sure that people are aware of good news and that they can share it. All tactics that have proven their worth, and those that we still rely on today.

We manage the reputation of brands and businesses. That isn’t something we take lightly. It is however what we do, and we do it well. It’s great to see our clients retaining focus and pushing hard when it matters.

Attracting the right attention  

There have been some great campaigns and initiatives that have been shared by brands in recent months. Marketing teams have been pushed to their limits. Being creative is one thing but resonating during difficult times is another.

It’s important to remain sensitive and to attract the right attention. This doesn’t mean everything needs to be shrouded in negativity, just carefully thought through.

There have been some quirky examples of brands pushing boundaries, while using the right tone. People do still want to laugh, it’s just that they want to laugh with each other, not at each other. That’s where PR can play a real role.

Storytelling adds personality, background and fun. It’s just another way that PR supports brands that are open for business.

New business enquiries

We’ve had some really interesting new business enquiries in recent weeks. As well as showing that we are still very much open for business, this is also a reflection on the wider community. It’s great to hear from companies that have big ambition!

As well as new business calls, we have also heard from those in our network. Although we are unable to share our usual cheeky drink with colleagues and associates, we are maintaining contact and showing our support.

It’s important at times like this that we all remember to come together and to share good news. It doesn’t matter if you work for a big brand or a start-up, the philosophy remains the same: PR supports brands that are open for business.

Those companies that take advantage and put the right PR and content strategy in place will also be those that see a positive impact on their bottom line.

For further information about our approach to PR and how we can add value to your business, please visit: www.opencomms.co.uk or call a member of the team on tel. 01924 862477.

THE VALUE OF EARNED MEDIA AND WHAT IT MEANS TO BUSINESS

The value of earned media

Within marketing industry media there has been much discussion about the value of earned media. This is the return on investment that companies receive from featuring in editorial coverage.

For as long as I can remember, the focus for a PR professional has been on securing good, quality coverage in relevant publications. This then extended to digital titles and has since moved to third party platforms.

Earned media in its truest sense relates to stories that hold credibility by association. The reason being they have been verified and shared by a journalist. The argument could be that working with influencers does the same. They choose what content to share, but for the purpose of this blog we will keep it simple.

Earned and owned

So, earned content typically features in newspapers and on websites owned by these publications. It may be that the media is digital and doesn’t have a print version, but the same theory applies. Owned content is the copy that is written by a brand and shared online and across social channels.

This is not editorial. It is dictated by a brand for an audience. That doesn’t mean it holds no value. It just means that there is no third-party providing governance over its credibility.

Securing earned media

This is the bread and butter of traditional agencies. Securing earned media is often the key objective of a client that has in place a press office function. It is out job to identify a schedule of stories, to research, draft and distribute to the right media.

Sounds simple. The reality is that the copy needs to be compelling, newsworthy and relevant to the audience. You also need to write for the publication, the audience and the client.

Collating a value to earned media

There have been countless discussions about the measurement of PR. It is a constant battle to determine the impact that regular earned coverage will have on a business. The reality is that people don’t always associate their decision to purchase with the profile of a brand.

We can assume that the more you hear about a brand the more likely you are to purchase a product or service but confirming this is difficult.

From years of working in PR, clients do receive feedback from associates and colleagues who will comment positively on press and broadcast appearances. I’ve yet to come across an organisation that has been disappointed to feature regularly within relevant media.

There are also ways in which measures can be set such as audience reach. Publications have ABC ratings or MOZ scores for websites. This gives an indication of the authority of that title, either by purchase or visits.

Using these metrics gives a clear indication of the value of earned media and what it will deliver for a brand.

The benefits of earned media for business

The simple fact of the matter is that when people read about a business, they learn about it too. There is always a key message within a story. Something the brand wants you to know and to take away. It could be the announcement of a new product or service, appointments to the team or industry insight. Whatever the angle, there is reason for that press release to be shared.

Having a strategic approach to PR means that earned coverage can support the objectives of a business. Stories can be planned and scheduled to ‘hit’ at just the right time. This then gives further value to earned coverage as a business-critical tactic.

Getting best return on investment from PR

PR is about more than earned coverage. Content is everywhere and managing the messaging for a brand has never been more complicated. That said, we are in exciting times and PR has had the chance to stand up and to be counted in recent years.

There are many tactics to creating a PR campaign that will deliver results and we ensure that our clients have access to them all. With a balance of earned, owned and social coverage we are able to make sure the brands we work with are in the right place at the right time.

For further information about our approach to PR and how we can add value to your business, please visit: www.opencomms.co.uk or call a member of the team 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.

USING THE SEASONS TO INSPIRE CREATIVITY

Using the seasons to inspire creativity

It doesn’t feel quite right somehow; the fact that we are waking up to Autumn. Speaking to friends and family over recent weeks, it is apparent many of us are not ready for this change of season. But what if we were to flip our attitude, and rather than focus on the negative, use the seasons to inspire creativity.

Rather than worry about dark mornings, early evenings and colder weather, let’s think about crisp, bright days that let us clear our heads and focus our thoughts.

Getting out and about

It’s not always possible to get up from your desk and to go for a walk. We are all busy and trying to keep those plates spinning in the air. I have always found it difficult to detach and to believe that to be more productive I should step away from the office.

It has taken me years to put the theory into practice. I now realise that rather than staring at a blank screen, if I step away from my desk and get some fresh air, it can reset my mind. I have also found that using the seasons to inspire creativity has had a positive impact on my work.

Taking influence from nature

Each season brings with it different colours, scents and scenes. A landscape can change dramatically throughout the year. Taking influence from this, we can use all the sights, sounds and settings to inspire ideas.

Just taking the time to stop, to sit and to take in your surroundings can completely redirect your attention. If you are stuck with one idea that you know isn’t quite right, this approach can be transformational.

It doesn’t have to be through the working day. I know lots of people who start or end the day with a brisk walk. Often, they will explain that it allows them to get set for the week ahead or to download from the day.

However you prefer to work, using the seasons to inspire creativity can deliver positives for our mental health as well as our results.

Easter in Autumn

When you work in PR, what is going on outside your window is unlikely to resonate with the plans you are putting in place. Particularly with consumer campaigns, many brands are working six months in advance.

The media also work well ahead of schedule. This means that if a PR wants to secure copy in the right magazines, at the most appropriate time, they need to have copy and images drafted and ready.

Although it sounds like a simple thing to do, getting your head around Easter in Autumn isn’t always easy. At Open Comms we do all we can to get into that zone. We use lots of different tools and triggers to stimulate our thinking and to take us to that place.

Using the seasons to inspire creativity, we share our experiences, thoughts and plans for that time of the year. Listening to the habits of other households can be really enlightening and can trigger some great ideas that resonate with audiences and add value for brands.

Mapping the seasons

There is one thing that is certain; the seasons will come around every year. We have spring, summer, autumn and winter. The weather may be changeable but the fact that these times of year will come up is a given.

Knowing this, it is prudent for brands to be in control and to get their campaigns planned well in advance. It’s not to say that things won’t change but having some outline ideas is a good start.

FMCG brands are those that are most likely to have seasonal launches. This makes planning each time of year even more important.

As a PR agency that works within the FMCG market, it is not unheard of for us to be discussing summer in winter and Valentine’s Day well ahead of Bonfire Night. It might be confusing, but it makes sense to be prepared and to use the seasons to encourage creativity.

Working from a year-round schedule of activity can really help with this. Just looking at what is coming up in six months can be a real wake up call. Time stands still for no one, so taking the time to plan can have a positive impact on results.

Recreating scents, sights and scenes

When we are sharing our creative thoughts as an agency, we will work hard to set the scene. This means thinking very carefully about what experience and feeling each season brings. Harnessing the excitement from each time of year means that our campaigns are more compelling and relevant to the audience.

Using the seasons to encourage creativity means that we can go to that place and get excited about what this year might bring.

There are the obvious times of year; Christmas and Easter for example, but it is just as important that we put the time and effort into other times of year too. For some clients Valentine’s Day or Halloween could be the focus. Whatever the time of year, hopping to that moment in time is essential to get ideas that will have impact.

Creating a space that is themed is a good way to get people to think about that time of year. Surrounding the team with visuals is always a good starting point. These prompts will focus attention and ensure that the recommendations are relevant and right.

Consumer experience

Each season brings with it a different consumer experience. As such, it is important that as an agency we consider what will resonate with each audience. It may not always be the most obvious things, but those that give a person a feeling or trigger a memory.

Finding the experiences that are important to the audience, while also relevant to a brand, will deliver results. Working with companies that want to appeal to families as an example may mean that we create a campaign that harnesses the feeling of time together.

It could be Christmas Eve and festive movies, Halloween and trick or treating or Valentine’s Day and making cards for Mum or Dad. Whatever the season, we will bring together our shared experience to build campaigns that appeal to the widest and most relevant audience for the brand.

Using the seasons to encourage creativity

Going back to the start of this blog, I want people to think about how using the seasons to encourage creativity can lead to positive results. Far too often we look outside and moan about the weather. We are quick to focus on the negative rather than what is good about this time of year.

Take today, it’s cold. Autumn is well and truly in full swing. It’s also one of my favourite times of year because we start to make delicious stews and comfort foods. We sit around the fire and enjoy a glass of wine. We snuggle up and shut the curtains, making our homes warm and cozy.

It would be easier to think about the fact that Christmas is just around the corner and I haven’t done any shopping yet. That the mornings are dark and cold and the nights are gloomy and wet. That we are fast approaching the end of another year where not a single resolution was met!

None of these thoughts are going to give me the inspiration or encouragement to put forward my best ideas for clients, so I’ve changed my attitude. I am going to think about the good things and make sure that moving forward I am using the seasons to my advantage.

REALISING THE FULL POTENTIAL OF BECOMING A THOUGHT LEADER

Delivering a successful PR strategy will help organisations to generate and maintain a positive perception among the public. However, a lot of moving parts are required for PR to make a meaningful and lasting impact.

Whether this includes social media posts, press coverage, new website content or email marketing campaigns, each communication needs to share a common purpose and include the same consistent messaging.

Regardless of the industry or size of the company, the most effective way to engage with any target audience is to be as authentic as possible. Be relatable and real so the public takes notice. To do this, leverage the experience and expertise of the senior executive team by transforming them into thought leaders.

Objective

The benefits of establishing thought leaders can be wide ranging. In essence, they will play a significant role in helping to create trust, form strong relationships with existing and new customers, whilst also gaining the confidence of employees and key stakeholders.

When it comes to showcasing the expert insight and industry knowledge from a team, those chosen as thought leaders must have something of value to say on topical issues that are affecting their specific sector. This should also be relevant to the wider marketplace.

Not only does this build credibility for an organisation as a whole, but it also provides further opportunities to influence the public by putting a spotlight on the people behind the brand. Pulling back the curtain will help the target audience to feel more attached and familiar with the business.

Content creation

Once a relevant topic has been identified, the next stage will be to determine the best way to communicate the thought leader’s opinion to be digested by the biggest number of people as possible.

This can be delivered through a number of different approaches, but it is all about creating engaging and interesting content that is relevant and resonates with the intended audience.

Blogs

Writing blogs is a useful and unrestrictive way of sharing a thought leader’s views in an accessible and frequent way. The versatility of blogs means that they can either be complex and analytical pieces or lighter reads that encourage discussions and dialogue among the readers.

Depending on the topic chosen, it may be that the content written could have an angle that would be of interest to an online trade publication or regional newspaper. The media often have blogs that will publish and share articles from third parties, including companies that have thoughts to share.

It is important that any content submitted to a trade or regional publication is exclusive. Once it has been uploaded and shared it can then be repurposed to feature on a company blog but it is always best practice to offer it to a publication first.

In order to ensure a blog will reach as wide an audience as possible, it must be shared across all social media channels. Not only will this help engage with a company’s followers, but it will also drive traffic back to the website and may even lead to new business enquiries.

Media commentary

Be an ally to the media. Journalists are constantly looking to strengthen their stories with expert and credible opinions, so thought leaders must be willing to be provide commentary. Even if the topic can be somewhat controversial.

Contributing to media publications not only gives thought leaders the platform to demonstrate their expertise and provide insightful advice, but it also opens up the opportunity to be profiled in the press.

Once a thought leader is an established media commentator, they will be seen within the industry as a useful resource of information and, in turn, increase the awareness of themselves and the company they work for.

Social media

Although social media has already been mentioned regarding blogs, there are so many advantages to using these platforms.

Whether it is Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, thought leaders must utilise all channels to showcase their expertise and experience to the biggest audience possible.

By connecting with high profile people within the industry, members of the media, company profiles or other influential businesspeople, thought leaders will start to build a strong social following.

As followers increase, engaging content must be shared frequently. This can take the form of posting topical commentary, sharing articles of interest related to a specific sector or directly addressing other people to ignite debates and dialogues.

Social networking is a major catalyst in transforming a business executive into a thought leader.

If you need help in developing your brand and want to become a thought leader within your field, then our team of experts will be more than happy to help! You can give us a call on 01924 862477 or contact us here.

WHY SUPPORTING COMPETITORS ISN’T AS CRAZY AS YOU THINK

Supporting competitors may not be as crazy as you think

In my experience, the PR industry has always been very competitive. During my time in agency, I have certainly faced my fair share of challenges. Far from letting this deter me, these situations just encouraged me to want to do the best job I could. Fast forward nearly 20 years and as a business owner, one of the greatest lessons I’ve learnt is that supporting competitors isn’t as crazy as you think.

Making friends

In all the agencies I worked at I was lucky enough to make friends. These people aren’t always those that I would tell my deepest and darkest secrets to, but they are colleagues that I value for their professional input.

Over the years, Emma and I weren’t the only people that chose to go it alone. Along the way many of my former team-mates have launched their own businesses. Despite being in direct competition, I quickly realised that supporting competitors isn’t as crazy as you think. In fact, it has very real benefits.

I have seen people who have taken the opposite approach and it never works.

In contrast, we have celebrated the success of others, passed on our best wishes and offered advice when asked. As a result, when these individuals or agencies have received a brief they cannot fulfil, we are often on the list of businesses they feel comfortable passing the information on to.

Influencing people

PR is very much about influence. This goes beyond client activity and can extend into the industry at large. Despite being vast, people in PR talk, a lot!

If, as a professional, you want that ‘chat’ to be positive, then you need to manage that. Providing the right context by behaving correctly is a good start.

I remember coming out of a pitch years ago and we were aware of a competitor that was also involved in the process. Several weeks later I received an email. It was from the same contact saying that they hoped if they didn’t win that we did.

This was a great lesson for me. I realised that in that one simple message I had a renewed respect for this person. They had taken the time to reach out and in doing so had given me greater confidence in our reputation amongst peers. It was further evidence that supporting competitors really does have its benefits.

Attracting the right attention

It is very difficult to hide in PR. Working with colleagues, journalists and brands everyday means that we communicate with a varied network of contacts. Each one of these people will make an assumption about us.

That can be an uncomfortable thought to process, but it doesn’t have to be.

If you want to attract the right attention, treat people the way you want to be treated. Let’s be honest, we all have bad days but managing them gets easier over time.

Recognising when our behaviour is impacting on others is a skill. It’s not easy to master and I’m still working on it, however I know that I have changed for the better over the years.

Taking this back to competitors, I had a meeting with a former colleague recently who has just launched as a freelance. The comment she made on leaving after coffee was that I hadn’t changed at all.

Far from being the case, I realised that what she meant as that I was still honest and willing to give my time to others. The truth is that in the ten years I hadn’t seen her I had changed a lot. I had just focused on addressing the things that held me back.

What I took from this exchange was that this person values my opinion and that means a great deal. Meeting for a coffee and sharing my experiences, warts and all, has helped her out. It was a win, win and further evidence of why supporting competitors isn’t as crazy as you think.

Living your values

We talk about values a lot at Open Comms. They are an important part of the business and the foundations from which we started nearly 12 years ago. A lot has changed in that time, not least the way the industry behaves.

When we started out, we made it clear we would be straight-talking. What you see is what you get, and we work hard for our clients. Delivering results was our focus and doing it the right way was the approach.

It worked and at a time when this was a relatively new concept.

Soon after our competitors started to use the same language. They do say that the biggest compliment is for people to copy or follow what you are doing. Whether this was the case or not, we were doing something right and it put us ahead of the curve.

What it also allowed us to do was to find other agencies that had the same values. Knowing that we were aligned in our approach meant we could confidently work with others. It also meant that we could extend our network and learn from other professionals.

Getting over yourself 

What I really love about Open Comms is that we don’t have a massive ego. We have achieved a great deal, but we don’t go around bragging or needlessly inflating our success. I have worked for agencies where the opposite would be closer to the truth.

When you work for big brands, it is often expected that you will work with other agencies. They may specialise in something different, but you will come together to share ideas. These are often referred to as inter-agency sessions.

We have been in many of these situations and in the most part they work really well. That is because we have learnt that in order to get the best out of groups like this you need to get over yourself. What I mean is that we aren’t scared to learn.

Competitors or otherwise, the people around the table have ideas, suggestions, knowledge and experience that we need. Without it, we wouldn’t be doing our best work for our clients. Coming together encourages thought, creativity, difference of opinion and discussion. In an industry where things change every single day, this can only be a good thing and we really do embrace it.

Leaving a lasting legacy

When we started Open Comms, we wanted to earn a living. It was really that simple. It was about delivering PR in the right way to make a difference for the brands we worked with. What we hadn’t expect was that 12 years on, we would have expanded and would represent some of the largest organisations in the country.

As an agency that generates 90 per cent of its new business through referral, we know that our reputation is one of our biggest assets. Although much of this comes from clients, I am sure that there is also a benefit to knowing other industry professionals.

Open Comms was never a carbon copy. It was unique from the day we launched. Over the years we have learnt a huge amount and if there is one lesson that I will continue to put into practice it is that supporting competitors isn’t as crazy as you think.

In fact, post lockdown, I am going to make contact with a number of former colleagues for no other reason than to have a coffee and a chat. Hopefully, others will do the same and we can create a community of professionals that inspire, encourage and share.

There’s nothing wrong with healthy competition, as long as it’s done in the right way.

A BLOG ABOUT BLOGGING: DELIVERING VALUE-LED CONTENT

When asked if blogging is essential to a PR campaign, the simple answer is yes. But that is only relevant when a brand truly appreciates the full potential of owned content.

By nature, the blog is a versatile tool. A brand or business can leverage owned content and its limitless possibilities, not least addressing so many topics. For a company to experience the benefits that this content can deliver, a strategic and purposeful approach must be taken.

And so, that is why we have shared a blog about blogging!

Identity

First and foremost, blogs are arguably the most read and updated asset on a website. They can and should encapsulate everything about a brand or business. This should cover who they are, what they do and how they get it done.

This content will act as a shop window on the high street. When visitors read these posts, they should be enticed and interested. The idea is that they want to know and see more.

Whether this is about employee wellbeing, new product or service launches, case studies or thought leadership pieces, the humble blog can be leveraged to communicate a specific or topical issue. This is a really useful tool when trying to build more robust communications with existing customers, whilst also trying to approach new business prospects.

In reality, the chosen subjects can be used in anyway the author wishes. As expert communicators, we believe that this opportunity and versatility provides brands and businesses with the opportunity to establish and enhance their identity.

Purpose

Unfortunately, creating content can be overlooked and undervalued by businesses. This is mainly because so much content is being pushed out, but perhaps for the wrong reasons.

Blogs in particular are often used as mundane devices. They become a box ticking exercise, instead of serving a meaningful purpose.

Owned content should form part of a wider communications strategy. Each one should have a clear, defined objective that is geared towards supporting a wider business goal. They need to deliver value.

For instance, an effective way to communicate critical information to vertical markets can be done through a blog post. To do this, the post must focus on something relevant and topical to those particular industries.

Any potential reader should be given a reason to click the link, and then be informed or engaged whilst digesting the content.

Whether a company is looking to attract new talent and expand its workforce or launch new products and services, implementing value-led content through a blog can support with this.

This same approach also applies when creating thought leadership articles. To be positioned as leading experts, brands and businesses must demonstrate their own capability and credibility within their field. This is when a blog entry can help showcase an individual’s specialisms by offering commentary on a topical issue or providing expert advice and insight.

Audience

Yes, creating blogs does provide further avenues for businesses and brands to promote themselves. However, this will only be beneficial if blogs are read by new and larger audiences.

The more people reading a blog, the more traffic a website generates. This then results in a potentially higher conversion rate of new businesses. To get the most out of the blogs, businesses and brands must leverage their social media channels.

Once a blog has been uploaded to a website, put the content to work! Create an ongoing schedule of social activity that sees a blog shared incrementally on LinkedIn and Twitter.

With an aim of generating as much engagement as possible, we would advise each post has an alluring statement along with a visual and corresponding link directing back to the website.

As the frequency of blogs rises, so too will the number of social posts. As the followers of a business become accustomed to receiving blog updates through social media, a brand can expect its audience to increase.

Once a brand creates a community, they have an active and engaged audience to communicate with. This is a really valuable asset for businesses of all sizes.

Summary

In time, if content of value is continually delivered through blogs, it can become a very meaningful resource. This is exactly what the purpose of a blog should be. It informs, educates and advises, whilst helping attract and engage with wider audiences.

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.

STARTING WITH THE BASICS: A FOCUS ON PR

It is no secret that PR practitioners have many tried and tested tactics up their sleeves. Knowing which to use for a certain client and when to execute them in a campaign is a true skill that can take years to master.

The fundamentals of successfully managing a PR account are often the same, whether the client is a small start-up business or a multinational FMCG. The details however need to be fine-tuned accordingly.

That is where starting with the basics can really deliver. As an agency with years of experience, we make sure that we remember the simple things to achieving the results our clients expect and deserve.

Set clear targets

Having a client set a clear brief will make it easier for you to deliver results. With clear objectives in place, you will have more chance to focus your efforts on a certain tactic such as social media, getting coverage in national titles or making changes to their website.

It is important to remember that your time needs to be spent wisely and you should avoid ‘nice to haves’ if this is not a priority. Having a measurable target to work towards will also help you showcase your work and the results you have achieved at the end of a campaign.

Create great content

This is sometimes easier said than done but creating quality content will deliver results. Having a great press release or an engaging influencer drop can give a campaign the push you need.

Having a relevant story means you can confidently send out a press release knowing you will receive a good amount of coverage. Equally, sending out an attractive and engaging press drop is more likely to be shared on social than something less visually appealing.

Again, it is about thinking more about what the audience will want and what will resonate with them.

Know your contacts

Over time, established PR professionals build relationships with journalists. Being aware of which writers are likely to cover a story can help to streamline efforts and make it more likely that content will be used.

Having strong relationships with journalists means they are more likely to answer your email quickly or point you in the direction of another contact if necessary.

Make the best use of social media outlets

Creating content for a client’s social media channels is becoming a bigger part of our briefs. Creating quality copy that is relevant to the brand and its audience can be time consuming, but when done right can produce fantastic results.

When creating posts for social media channels it’s important to consider the best outlet to suit your client. If their target market use Instagram, then why spend time making content for Twitter? It is about identifying the best use of resource to deliver the strongest return on investment.

Summary

Thorough planning and research should never be underestimated in all aspects of managing a clients account. Carefully considered actions alongside making the best use of contacts, using social media to your advantage and creating good quality content that aligns with your clients’ brief is a good place to start.

Using these tactics along with many others allows PR teams to deliver the results that clients expect. If you would like to know more about Open Comms and the services we offer, why not give us a call on 01924 862477 or contact us here.

HOW PR FITS WITHIN THE PESO MODEL

How does PR fit into the PESO model

Many agencies will use the term PESO when describing the toolkit of tactics they use. This is similar in principle to the four P’s. Rather than product, price, promotion and place, PESO is paid, earned, social and owned. In this blog we want to look at how PR fits within the PESO model.

Far from being more jargon to add to a dictionary full of anacronyms, this breakdown is actually a great starting point for brands when planning campaigns.

Taking each tactic at a time and considering it in detail will give businesses the opportunity to look at where their priorities lie. Aligning this with objectives will give the foundations to a strategic plan that can be put into practice.

As a PR agency we are able to deliver everything within the PESO model. That said, there are certain tactics that rely more on our expertise than others. In the following chapters we will explain when PR can provide best value and return.

Paid for space 

Paid for coverage is advertising. This is typically not a tactic used by PR agencies. Although we do book advertising space for our clients and make recommendations about placements in general, it is not our specialism.

Media buying agencies are better placed to make recommendations and to provide the best costs. Paid for advertising is a push marketing principle. It is pushed to the audience and shares a carefully curated message that has been designed and delivered by the brand.

The most significant difference between paid for and editorial is that a third party has to agree to use the content you share. When there is no commercial transaction involved there is no guarantee.

Earned media coverage

For PR practitioners this is our bread and butter. Earned media is editorial coverage. It is both credible and delivers great value for brands. Securing consistent space within the right media will impact positively on any business.

It isn’t quite as simple as it sounds to secure coverage. Not only does a PR need to identify a story, they also need to curate that copy and make it compelling. Furthermore, they have to think about the reader, journalist and brand before distributing.

As mentioned, there is no guarantee with earned media. This is where third party, independent and unbiased verification comes into play. Given that a journalist has the authority to run a story or not, it is the job of the PR to make sure a story is relevant. The headline should be eye catching and the copy should have a strong news angle.

There are many tactics that PR’s use but providing good quality copy should always remain top of the list.

Social media 

Since sharing content online has become part of our daily routines, it has also become an obvious platform for brands to engage with audiences. Understanding each platform and its primary uses and targets is essential.

This is where PR comes in.

As an agency we manage messages, tone of voice, frequency of posts and monitoring of responses. Again, this takes time. It is not a simple case of logging on and posting a comment each day. Although this is possible, it will not deliver the results that a business would expect.

Social media has given everyone a voice and an opinion. Understanding that people have the right to express that and to manage responses carefully so as not to offend is crucial.

Although there are elements of paid within social media, it is used mostly by individuals who want to become part of a community. They want to engage with others that have similar interests. Sharing relevant content in the right places can be invaluable exposure for brands. In the same breath, infiltrating where you are not wanted will deliver the exact opposite.  

Owned content 

Blogs are common practice in today’s world. They haven’t been around forever, and the truth is that many sit dormant. This sends the wrong message to clients and prospective customers.

Owned content is the copy that you will share across a website or social channels. It belongs to a business and has been written with purpose. It may be to share the launch of a new product, to provide an update about a company or to simply impart knowledge and expertise.

Whatever the reason, as this sits within editorial, it fits within the job description of a PR professional.

Well curated copy that is credible and compelling will attract visitors to a site. It will also provide an opportunity to position individuals as thought leaders about a subject.

Forgetting to assign the time and commitment to owned content is a mistake. Brands don’t always see the value in sharing this insight as a business, but those that do will reap the rewards. Creating communities is the strongest response from owned content. This requires that regular and relevant copy is drafted and shared.

Having a balance of earned and owned content will give any company the profile that they deserve and a genuine return on investment.

Summary

On reflection, when we look at the PESO model, we can see that of the four topics just one would typically sit outside of the PR function. This is paid for advertising.

Using PESO as a tool to plan will give any organisation a good platform from which to create a strategy that meets with objectives. If you would like to work with a team that can deliver and will support you with this process, then please call a member of the team from Open Comms.