Tag: pr

MORE THAN A PR AGENCY – AN EXTENSION TO YOUR TEAM

When executed properly, PR can be transformative for businesses and will deliver long-term value to brands. But with so many tactics making up a successful communications strategy, knowing where to start can be overwhelming.

To guarantee that your business experiences the full benefits from PR and achieves the return on investment that is expected, call in the professionals.

Here at Open Communications, we have a diverse client base. Every company we work with requires something different. We understand that no-one-size-fits-all, which is why our team of specialists create a bespoke approach that aligns to each organisation and their objectives.

We become trusted communication partners to our clients by fully immersing ourselves into their businesses. This is why we believe a collaborative and transparent approach is essential. From understanding the financial and operational goals to developing detailed insight into their industry and who they employ, we become an asset and an extension of their teams.

The benefits to finding an agency that you can trust to bring recommendations to the table and focus on continuous added value should not be underestimated.

Skills and strength of a PR team

First and foremost, when working with a PR agency your business gets the specialist and collective skillset of an entire team. Dedicated to creating a communications plan that fulfils a specific brief, PR professionals have the experience, knowledge and creativity to work together to bring to life your brand in coherent, consistent and engaging communications.

Whether this is through traditional or digital PR channels, social media platforms or owned content, each PR campaign is purposely structured to attract the attention of industry counterparts, the wider marketplace and the general public.

With numerous tactics to choose from, PR agencies can create a positive public perception for clients. After all, managing the reputation of a brand and business is what it is all about. PR teams can call upon a variety of skills and strengths to identify the most relevant approach, which will maximise outputs and ensure that the message resonates with customers and prospects.

Key connections

As well as delivering a full suite of PR services, a key attribute of working with a PR agency is tapping into who they know. We are constantly networking and creating new contacts. Whether that’s members of the media, industry and social media influencers or government insiders and key policy makers, our contacts are a resource for our clients.

As important as it is to create insightful and engaging content, it is even more important to ensure the right people actually see it. By nurturing and developing these critical relationships, especially those in the press, we can call upon specific contacts to help deliver a brand’s message or publish a news update to ensure it reaches the target audience.

This is especially useful when it comes to securing media coverage. PR agencies will not only identify and create relevant content around any newsworthy announcement, but we also complete the distribution phase to the relevant journalists. The more press that covers a story, the wider the audience is reached.

Having these relationships in place and the confidence from our contacts to know that what we are sharing is relevant and right just enhances that further.

Stronger results at a lower cost

There will always be a debate about whether to invest in PR in-house or outsource to an agency. Often, this decision comes down to cost. As a business owner, you want to get the most for your money.

In many cases, it can be more costly to have one person lead your PR strategy in-house than it is to acquire the experience and expertise of a team of communications specialists, often with decades worth of industry insight.

Contracting an agency can provide piece of mind and for our clients at least, they know that their PR needs are being handled without the need for constant input. This gives them more time to concentrate on what matters most to them: growing their business and the bottom line.

If you’d like to speak to our team about what we deliver and how we approach PR on behalf of our clients, then please visit: https://www.opencomms.co.uk.

WHY PR FIRMS ARE TRUSTED TO MANAGE INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS

The changes that workplaces have had to experience in the last twelve months have been significant to say the least. With employees across the UK been forced to adapt to new technologies, trading their office desk for the dining table, it has certainly been an unsettling time for many.

Amid the ongoing challenges we have all experienced throughout this global pandemic, the benefits of consistently engaging with employees has never been more evident. It has become a necessity for businesses large and small to better understand the critical role that a robust internal communications strategy plays.

As the economy begins to reopen, it is anticipated that flexible and remote working will become a more conventional workplace practice. As such, with teams potentially operating from different locations, implementing a refined employee engagement strategy must become a priority.

Whilst workstreams can be carefully monitored online and outputs reviewed, keeping employees informed and engaged is just as important to ensure they feel valued and important. As well as supporting a positive culture, this could also positively impact on productivity.

The challenge, however, is putting in place an approach that can be adopted by different departments, varying roles and responsibilities.

CALLING ON THE PROFESSIONALS

For some it will be obvious, but for others, calling in the experts by outsourcing all internal communication requirements may seem strange.

However, when we think about it more literally, the same strategies and tactics used by PR professionals to form a positive public perception of a business can be transferred to achieve the same outcome internally.

Forming part of a wider PR strategy, the purpose of internal communications is to reflect the core values, long-term goals and workplace culture at a company. As with external PR activity, sharing a consistent message across multiple channels will ensure the message resonates with the audience; in this case employees throughout the business.

Once a business decides to communicate with their workforce in the same way they do with clients, prospects and stakeholders, employee engagement and satisfaction will improve.

CELEBRATING SUCCESS

Regardless of the size of an organisation, its departments and the skillsets of the teams, all employees are responsible for the success of a business.

This is why celebrating and showcasing any milestones that individuals, teams or the wider workforce achieve should form the foundations to an internal communications plan.

Keeping employees informed and updated, whether that’s highlighting promotions; new appointments, new client wins or reaching financial targets, all of these will help those working for a company to feel more valued and committed to the wider business objectives.

CHOICE OF CHANNEL

To reach the intended target audience, which in this case is employees, the way the information is shared is just as critical as the content that is created.

Although social media is widely used for PR campaigns and within communications strategies, the choice of channel will always be a critical factor when it comes to measuring success and engagement.

The same can be said for internal communications. In this instance, LinkedIn would be the most obvious platform to choose when encouraging and supporting engagement with employees.

As a way of communicating directly with team members and the wider business community, it can be used to build positive associations drive insightful responses and reiterate the benefits of working within that company.

MAKE SURE EXTERNAL COMMS MIRROR INTERNAL AND VISA VERSA

News and blog sections on a company website should be frequently updated. This is often where employees will go to get updates about a company outside of the internal channels that they have access to.

Ensuring that the content that is shared internally is consistent with what is shared to the wider public will instill trust. Sharing more detailed, insightful and informative content about business activities on a website means employees can remain informed about any corporate updates or projections for the future that may not sit comfortably as an update to all staff.

Using the right channels at the right time and in the right order will be the making or breaking of an internal communications strategy. It is important to give this the time, thought and resource it deserves. Whether you want to share complex and analytical insight or lighter and briefer updates, each piece of content can be leveraged to help communicate critical messages to employees whilst encouraging open discussions within the workplace.

Whether it’s good or bad, the objective of internal communications is to ensure employees are given updates and announcements from the business directly, rather than from outside sources. Managing internal communications and placing as much focus, attention and value on it as you would your engagement with other audiences will deliver greater value. After all, an informed, aware and engaged team are more likely to become committed, productive and positive.

HOW BUSINESSES CAN BENEFIT FROM PR DURING A PANDEMIC

Benefits of PR during a pandemic

It feels like the mood has changed in recent weeks. People are no longer enjoying the novelty of working remotely and home schooling is causing chaos. While we all attempt to motivate each other, we look at how businesses can benefit from PR during a pandemic.

Last year was strange for many reasons. Most companies felt that the best approach would be to keep calm and carry on. We couldn’t predict what was coming. Nor could we contemplate still being in lockdown.

Almost a year on and there’s a sense that it is going to take longer than any of us expected. However, we are making progress. The vaccine is being rolled out and there are some positive steps forward. For business, it has been a time of reflection and we have started to see a change in attitude.

Many businesses are recognising that they need to look forward and that they can benefit from PR during a pandemic.

Increase in enquiries

For us, there has been an increase in the number of new business enquiries. It would seem that companies have recognised that to stand still does not support progress, in fact all it does is hamper growth.

Although a scary and challenging time, the pandemic has given many companies an opportunity. Those that have put in place a content strategy to communicate effectively with audiences are starting to see the return.

Those that have had to change direction or completely overhaul the way that they work to create a sustainable business model are using this as a platform to promote a new product, service or approach.

It isn’t all bad news. Some organisations have had the chance to enforce change that was long overdue. As a result, they are in a stronger position than ever before. Those that have used this time to share their news and to update their staff, customers and stakeholders are seeing the benefits.

Building communities

With the pandemic has come an honesty like never before. People are more willing to share their thoughts and feelings, even those that are less positive. Admitting that we have challenges is building stronger communities within our networks.

Companies are using platforms such as LinkedIn to share support and encourage each other to look out for colleagues, as well as friends and family. This has given many businesses the chance to share their values and to showcase to others how they operate when times are tough.

As an employer brand there are few things that are more powerful than posts which show how strong a team can be when they come together to offer support and encouragement to each other.

This is just one of the ways that businesses can benefit from PR during the pandemic. Having a consistent approach that shares regular updates keeps a brand front of mind. It also gives an audience the chance to engage directly, which can inspire further positive comments.

The power of positive news

It would be easy for us all to focus on the negatives, after all, we are surrounded by startling facts and figures every day. Thankfully, many organisations are choosing to focus their attention on the good news that they have to share.

We have many clients that are recruiting, investing and looking towards a positive future. With ambitious targets in place, they are not letting difficult times stop their journey. Quite the opposite, they are pushing ahead and making things happen.

They are seeing first-hand how businesses can benefit from PR during the pandemic. It is this spirit and dedication that is infectious and that makes you realise that all is not lost. Far from it in fact, there are some very exciting times ahead.

Putting PR into practice

When we consider why our clients choose to work with us as a preferred PR partner, it’s all about creating consistent communications across mediums to educate, build profile and manage the reputation of a brand and business.

Sharing stories with the widest possible audience and reiterating the good news that an organisation has to share is just the start.

With access to many different channels, we make sure that our clients are seen in the right place and at the right time. As well as securing coverage in the media, we also update social channels, share blog posts and encourage word of mouth.

Every action has an objective and that means we can deliver a return on investment. Watching brands benefit from the work that we do is what really excites us.

Investing for the future

Whether it is a full content strategy, a PR programme of activity or a campaign that we are working on for a client, each and every brand we engage with is investing in our services to support their future success.

If you are thinking about investing in PR and want to talk to an agency about an approach that will deliver results that meet with your objectives, then give us a call. We don’t believe that PR is a dark art, it is about having the processes in place to make sure our clients get the maximum return on investment from everything we do.

We know that PR can benefit business during a pandemic and that there are ways in which our tactics can be used to give organisations the boost they so desperately need. It’s about consistency.

For more information about how we would help to raise the profile of your brand and manage the reputation of your business throughout 2021, contact us on info@opencomms.co.uk, call: 01924 862477 or follow @OpenComms_.

AVOID THE BOREDOM OF BLOGGING FOR BUSINESS

Blogging for business

As a writer, I get a real sense of satisfaction from blogging for business. It’s a platform that I can use to share my thoughts and opinions. Like anything, writing is subjective and my passion for it isn’t always shared. For some, blogging for business is exciting – until they get bored.

I remember a time when it was rare for a business to have a blog. A website, absolutely, but there was a lack of understanding about what benefits regular updates could bring to an audience. After all, companies spent months on copy for their websites, so what more was there to say?

Times have changed, and most organisations will have a blog. That said, many forget to put the time and attention into establishing a tone of voice that will resonate with the audiences they want to attract. As a result, they don’t appreciate the value of blogging for business.

In this blog I hope to encourage readers to avoid the boredom of blogging for business by thinking differently and putting some simple processes into place.

Communities not just content

Blogging for business is about building communities. There should be a focus on sharing content that is interesting and insightful. Businesses need to think carefully about what their customers want to read and how they can be made to feel special.

It may be that a company shares the launch of a product on a blog before it is announced anywhere else. Social media channels could be used to tease the news and drive traffic to the website to amplify the message.

Alternatively, other organisations may want to use a blog to provide updates for stakeholders such as share price or investments. The news that is shared doesn’t have to be consumer focused, it could be very much about the business and its bottom line.

The wonderful thing about blogging is that you can share whatever you choose. The content is for you to decide, to draft and to upload. The difference between a good blog and a bad is that one will be written for the audience and the other for the company chairman.

It’s important not to fall into the trap of writing for an internal audience or for niche stakeholder group. There are other ways that you can communicate with these people. Put in place a clear objective for the blog and a target audience and stick to it.

Taking blogging for business seriously

Having a clear understanding of what will be shared on a blog will guide the content strategy. For a blog to be successful it needs to be taken seriously. This means that it needs the support of the board of directors.

It is no use passing a blog to a junior member of the team and leaving them to it. Not only will that person be responsible for writing all of the content, posting it and managing responses, but they will also need to collate the information in the first place.

This will rely on them having access to senior members of the team.

Blogging for business is a marketing tactic. It should be managed and coordinated by the sales and marketing function of an organisation. As a direct method of communicating with customers and prospects, it should be taken seriously.

Setting the tone

Once a company has agreed what information will be shared on a blog; whether that be product launches, category insight, industry comments or simply just news, a tone needs to be agreed.

It isn’t always as simple as to agree an approach and to stick with it. If a blog is to be used as an online magazine for a business, then the way that you draft the content will change. Taking into account articles will come from different sources, it would be unrealistic to assume everyone would speak in the same way.

As such, it makes sense to agree priority messaging, consistency in terms of language and then to add some personality. The last thing you want to do is to lose the story through overcomplicating the copy.

Blogs and the bottom line

Good blogs can attract an audience, capture attention and retain interest. Bad blogs will do the exact opposite. Just like all marketing communications, the opportunities that blogging for business presents to a company should not be underestimated.

With the right amount of time, care, attention and investment a blog could have a direct impact on the bottom line. In fact, entire businesses have been based on blogging and there is now an industry of influencers that are only too aware of the commercial benefits they can bring.

It all goes back to a point I made earlier. Blogging for business has to be taken seriously by the senior management team if it is going to deliver the results you expect.

Setting standards and sticking to them  

The simplest way to ensure that blogging for business delivers a return on investment is to set standards. Putting KPIs in place in relation to visitor traffic, dwell time and bounce rates will give the evidence of whether the content being shared is having the desired impact.

Testing and measuring new features – perhaps a day in the life – will showcase what the audience wants to see. Anything that shows a drop in analytics should be reconsidered or adjusted to make sure it is relevant and resonates.

Sharing not selling

I’ve yet to meet anyone that likes to be sold to. In order to keep the content of a business blog interesting, the focus needs to be on sharing. This could be sharing stories, sharing facts and figures, sharing product information or behind the scenes footage from a factory.

Whatever it happens to be, make sure the posts that are being uploaded have a value to the reader, even if that is purely interest.

Of course, blogging for business is a promotional tool and can be harmlessly used as such. For example, offering coupons or codes for money off. There is no problem with offering prospective customers an incentive, but make sure that it is interspersed with other posts. Blogging for business should always be about more than just another space to sell.

Don’t get bored of blogging for business   

When something is shiny and new it always attracts the most attention. Fast forward a few months and it’s just another piece of furniture in the office. Blogging can be the same. At first everyone wants five minutes of fame and to share their story. Over time this will change. People have less time to allocate and bigger priorities. It’s up to those that manage business blogs to retain interest.

What is great about blogs is that they can change and evolve. They don’t have to stay exactly the same and they can become a space to have fun.

Rather than getting bogged down in the detail, think of a business blog as a newspaper. Put together regular columns and updates from different members of the team. Test and review products or services and provide updates and feedback.

Use blogs for business as a way to add personality that you cannot anywhere else. Once you start to build a community, to interact with people and to attract the attention you want and deserve, you will come to realise the benefits of blogging for business.

Top tips when blogging for business

When starting a blog for business or reviewing the content strategy that you have in place for your online communications, remember to cover the following points:

  1. You are creating communities not just content. Don’t write for you, write for the reader and you will get more engagement and repeat visits.
  2. Make sure you have the support of the senior team before you start. Don’t waste time on something that will become dormant in a matter of months. Put your ideas on the table and get the team excited about the benefits blogging can bring to business.
  3. Take the time to get the tone of voice right for your blog. This doesn’t have to be rigid but sharing consistent messaging and language will stop you from confusing the reader.
  4. Remember that blogs can have a positive impact on the bottom line, but they take time and that means money. Be realistic about what can be achieved and put measures in place.
  5. Set standards that will ensure your content is well written, credible and reflective of the business. Don’t be persuaded to rush a blog or to share content you know is not up to scratch.
  6. The content you post should be about sharing not selling. Don’t fall into the trap of constantly pushing your message to people. Engage and encourage them to join your community.
  7. Don’t get bored of business blogging. Make it exciting, keep it fresh and have some fun. Some of the best content comes from the most surprising of businesses, make sure that you are one of them.

Calling on the professionals

As an agency we work with many clients that have business blogs. As well as managing the press office and social media channels, in many cases we will draft and upload the copy for their blogs too. Every organisation we work with is different, but to provide one example, we have been working alongside the YM to create a series of lockdown stories which have attracted a lot of attention.

Rather than use the blog to sell to others in the business community, the YM has created a space that shares insight, support and camaraderie during some of the most difficult times. It is a great example of best practice when it comes to blogging for business.

If you’d like to discuss ways that the team at Open Comms can help to raise the profile of your brand, manage the reputation of your business and support with your content strategy throughout 2021, contact us on info@opencomms.co.uk, call: 01924 862477 or follow @OpenComms_.

PRIORITISING PR DURING 2021

Prioritising PR during 2021

While it’s fair to suggest that this year hasn’t quite got off to the best start, there are still plenty of reasons why prioritising PR during 2021 could be the best decision you make.

Companies of all sizes have recognised the benefits that PR can bring; not least profile, recognition, an opportunity to become more relatable to your audiences and importantly, an increase to the bottom line.

With a toolkit of tactics at our disposal, we can tailor an approach for each business we work with. There is no one-size-fits-all and that means that every campaign is bespoke.

Setting objectives

Like any cost to a business, you want to be able to measure the return on investment. We appreciate that PR is no different. That’s why we work with brands to set out clear objectives. This means that every action will have an impact.

The idea being that our resource is allocated to the right activities; those that will deliver the greatest value.

For smaller organisations and those that are wanting to scale-up, it is often about raising the profile of a brand to a specific audience or to engage in new and interesting ways. Larger organisations may be even more targeted or have a product launch or campaign in mind.

Whatever the objectives, we will create a programme of activity to deliver the results that you need.

Choosing the right tactics

It’s a myth to suggest that all PR tactics work for all businesses, they don’t. The beauty about PR is that we can choose the right approach and then adapt as the programme of activity evolves over time.

As a brand builds, things will change. The focus for a company doesn’t always stay the same. We can adapt, adopt and deliver depending on what those changing circumstances are. Better still, it doesn’t take months to implement new ways of working, it’s more like a matter of days.

All we need to do is to discuss, plan and action.

Just some of the tactics we use for our clients are:

  • Press office (drafting and distributing press materials to publications online and in print)
  • Drafting content to be shared online
  • Thought leadership articles for media and online
  • Competitions in consumer publications
  • Features in trade media
  • Copy writing for brochures and marketing materials
  • Social media posts
  • Campaign planning and recommendations

The list could go on, but from the above you can see how we can tailor a programme of activity to suit the needs of any business.

Securing headlines

There has been an increasing interest in traditional PR over recent years. Brands still recognise the value in securing headlines for the right reasons. As storytellers this is where our skills are often expected to lie.

Writing good quality copy that is intended for newspapers and magazines is a big part of what we do. Securing earned coverage is where brands can take their share of voice and educate the market about the products and services that they have to offer.

Putting in place a dedicated press office will ensure that a business features regularly in the publications that matter most. It may be regional media, national, trade or consumer. It may even be a mix of them all.

We have been delivering press office to brands of all sizes for more than 12 years and it is still a great way for a business to share its story and to resonate with current and prospective customers.

Reaching audiences online

Although we don’t manage paid for advertising, we do create social schedules and deliver campaigns for our clients online. Whatever the platform (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn) we will develop content that is fit for purpose.

It’s not about sharing one post across all platforms; every social channel is different. We make sure that the posts we create will encourage most engagement and become part of a wider strategy of activity.

Using LinkedIn for talent acquisition, Facebook for community engagement, Instagram for wider outreach and Twitter for amplification, there is always a purpose behind everything we do. Again, it’s about taking a bespoke approach that meets with objectives.

Prioritising PR for 2021

For those companies that want to look forward rather than backwards, those that want to turn plans into action and to make a positive difference to their business, consider how prioritising PR for 2021 could support your ambitions.

PR is an investment but it’s also a specialism that delivers great value. Don’t be left behind while your competitors take the charge. Consumers are still spending, organisations are still growing and there is a lot to celebrate.

If you’d like to discuss ways that the team at Open Comms can help to raise the profile of your brand and manage the reputation of your business throughout 2021, contact us on info@opencomms.co.uk, call: 01924 862477 or follow @OpenComms_.

OPEN COMMS TO SUPPORT 6B WITH NATIONAL PR CAMPAIGN

Open Comms will work with 6B

We are very pleased to announce that Open Comms is now working with 6B, the development agency, to deliver a national campaign.

Providing PR and content management services for the business, we will work alongside the team of digital professionals to raise the profile of the brand across the UK, reinforce its disruptive attitude and support the organisation as it continues to expand its client base.

With ambitious targets to become a £10.2m turnover business, appoint a team of 100 digital experts and open four offices, 6B has its sights firmly set on growth and success.

Director of Open Communications, Lindsey Davies comments: “From our initial conversations we knew that Paul and the team at 6B were exactly the right fit for us. The journey they have been on so far is quite incredible and with their sights firmly set on future success we can’t wait to get cracking on our campaign.

“Following an initial immersion session, it was clear that 6B has a lot to shout about and we will be supporting them to do just that!”

Founding Director of 6B, Paul Brown comments: “The immersion session we had with Open Comms gave us the opportunity to look at where we had come from and what we want to achieve.

“We know that we need to make more noise and to shout about the great work that we produce. It’s not just about websites but also our apps, CRM systems and bespoke products for customers in the public and private sector. It’s time to show people just what we are made of and to take the next step in our journey.”

6B launched in 2013 and has since built up an impressive client portfolio to include brands such as Candy Kittens, ITV, Northern Lights, Franke, Experience Wakefield and Bradford Council. For more information about the agency please visit: https://6bdigital.com

Open Communications launched in 2008 to provide businesses with PR, social media and content management services. It works with clients including HARIBO, the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Opus Trust Communications, Hortor and iSource Group. For further insight into the agency and what we deliver for clients, please visit: https://www.opencomms.co.uk/what-we-do

THE VALUE OF TRADE MEDIA

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

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

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

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

What is trade media?

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

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

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

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

Value of trade media coverage

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

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

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

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

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

FORCED LOCKDOWN LEADS TO PLANNED SUPPORT

Planned support for business

It was only last week I asked our team to stop focusing on Covid-19 in our blogs. In all honesty, I just felt it was a depressing topic that was being covered enough. And so, here I am, a week on doing the exact opposite!

I am hoping however that what I am about to share will give businesses something positive to focus on during the next four weeks. It may also change the direction that they choose to go in the future. Rather than dwell on the past, we are looking ahead.

Time on your hands

For many businesses, the lockdown will mean that they have time on their hands. As this wasn’t planned or expected, it can be redirected. Rather than reverting to lockdown habits, think about the future. Where do you want to be and how are you doing to get there?

Things aren’t easy and budgets are tight but that doesn’t mean you can’t invest wisely.

Planning your next six to twelve months will give you a road map to follow and some structure during uncertain times.

Take control

For the first time in my lifetime, I can honestly say that no one knows what is around the corner. We can all make predictions. Everyone is suddenly an expert. Truth be told, we just don’t know.

It’s time to take control of the things that we can predict. Create a timeline of what you want to achieve and by when. Don’t dwell on what might be and start to put your energies to what will happen.

Once you have a plan in place it will be easier to work towards achieving those goals. Make it visual and you’re onto a winner.

It’s good to talk

During the first wave of the pandemic, some businesses went off grid and fell silent. This is a really bad idea. It sends out the wrong messages to your marketplace and gives audiences – including your staff – cause for concern.

Rather than going quiet, think about what you have to say. Pull together some ideas. Put some thought into the topics that you want to discuss and start to engage. For once, find the time to make communication a priority.

Remember, the people that you rely on when the doors are open are the same as when they are shut. Your customers need to know that you are there and that they have a supplier to come back to. Furthermore, employees need some confidence that all is not lost.

Keeping a consistent feed of updates will give the reassurance that all audiences need.

Planned support

One of the first things we did when we started Open Comms was to create ‘Open for New’ sessions. These have evolved over the years and are opportunities for businesses of all sizes to get the professional and planned support they need.

Each session is bespoke and is carefully tailored to each organisation. We make sure that the brands we work with get the very best return and that this takes no more than a day.

Up to six members of a company are invited to get around a (virtual) table and look at where they are and where they want to be. We focus on communications and how this can support the strategy of the business.

The discussion evolves to cover positioning statements, key messages, targets, engaging with the media, social media, crisis management and putting the right processes in place. As mentioned, we speak to the client beforehand to find out what their challenges and objectives are.

In our experience, every single session is different and that is what makes them so exciting! People leave them knackered (it takes work!) but energised.

Full steam ahead

It can be difficult to find the time to focus on PR and content marketing when you are ‘head down’ and in the thick of it. That is why we are suggesting to businesses that communication is put firmly on the agenda.

Don’t waste your time with the latest box set, you wouldn’t wander off to watch the TV if the doors were open. Use this window of opportunity to pave the way, get some planned support, and look forward to a stronger start to 2021 and all that it holds in store.

For further details about Open for New sessions, please email Lindsey at lindsey.davies@opencomms.co.uk and for more details about the agency and the many businesses we work with please visit www.opencomms.co.uk.

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.