Tag: pr

COUNTING THE COST OF PR VERSUS THE VALUE IT DELIVERS

Counting the cost of PR

During my career I have often thought about how businesses count the cost of PR without really understanding its value.

While browsing my social media channels last week, I came across a post that had been shared far and wide. It really resonated with me, and those I am connected with too. It reads:

“If I do a job in 30 minutes, it’s because I spent 10 years learning how to do that in 30 minutes. You owe me for the years, not the minutes.”

Having worked in the PR industry for more than 20 years, I appreciate the sentiment behind the words. For me, my training started when I was at college. I then did a four-year degree before securing my first full time position.

So, in total, my academic training was at least six years. That said, you never stop learning in PR, so it would be fair to suggest it is actually upwards of two decades.

PR is an investment

As a professional, it can be a challenge to explain to people that PR is an investment. Of course, any business will consider the cost, but they should also appreciate the value.

PR is about managing the reputation of a brand and business. Arguably, the biggest asset of any company. Without a reputation you have nothing. Putting the right amount of time, effort and budget behind it is essential.

Getting the balance right will ensure that companies get the results they are looking for.

Return on investment

Every organisation wants a return on investment. Having launched Open Communications more than 11 years ago, I understand this whole-heartedly. PR should be no different. Ensuring you choose an agency that is transparent, honest and open is half the battle.

Despite having the endorsement of some of the largest brands in the world, PR is still an unknown for some. In the most part, business owners know that they need it, but they can’t always see the true value.

This leaves PR as a forgotten relative. It becomes a ‘nice to have’ rather than the business-critical specialism it is.

In order to get best value from PR you need to provide a detailed brief. This gives clarity to the agency and gives you the chance to think carefully about the objectives you would like to achieve. These can then become KPIs to measure against.

Being honest about budgets

Providing a budget is really important.

Some people worry that providing a budget means an agency will charge that fee. Perhaps that will be the case, but they will also provide a rationale for the cost. It will allow them to provide realistic recommendations to meet with objectives.

Having no indication of the investment a business is willing to make just wastes time. It leaves an agency second guessing and that rarely works out well. It may mean the costs are too high or that the ideas are too safe. Either way, if a budget is given then everyone knows what they are working with.

We’ve always been very honest with our clients. We go above and beyond, treating our clients’ money as if it was our own. This is a value that has become reflective of Open Comms and synonymous with our approach.

This is one of the main reasons our clients’ work with us for years. They know what to expect and that they never need to challenge our honesty and transparency.

It’s about the years and not the hours

Going back to the main point. When working with an agency it really is about the years and not the hours. The hours are what you pay for. But the experience of a team is where the value lies.

At Open Comms we have a team of experts that have worked with some of the largest brands in the country. We have earnt our stripes and we love what we do. The assumption that PR is easy and that anyone can do it is misguided. The reality is very different.

It may be right that anyone can put pen to paper, however that isn’t PR. The education, training, skills, tactics and constantly evolving landscape means PR professionals are just that. Professionals. They have worked hard and have invested in their careers to be the best they can be.

Trust is integral to success

When you rely on an agency, you are trusting them with your brand. That’s a big commitment. We don’t take it lightly and that is one of the reasons our job is so exciting. Thankfully our clients have very similar traits. They trust us and believe in what we do.

This means we can work as an extension of their teams and to give them advice. Real advice. Honest advice. Uncomfortable advice. Not what they want to hear, but the right advice based on our experience and knowledge.

PR isn’t just about writing press releases or posting compelling content. It is about reputation and managing a brand. It is about avoiding crisis. It is about navigating through hard times and celebrating good.

The beauty of PR is that it doesn’t stand still. There is no one size fits all. Every single client we work with has different objectives. They are specific to their business and require a range of tactics. This keeps us on our toes and is just one of the many reasons we do what we do.

What to consider when choosing an agency

It’s really quite simple.

  1. The first thing to think about when choosing an agency is what you want to achieve. Create a clear brief that shares your objectives and budget.
  2. Next, find an agency that you feel would be a good fit with your business. PR is very much about relationships. You will be sharing information that is sensitive and confidential so you must have an affinity with the people you are working with.
  3. It’s not about them and us. It’s about working as a team to deliver results that meet with the objectives. Treating your agency as you would you colleagues will allow you to get the best from them.
  4. Remember, you are paying for experience. It’s about the years not the hours. Trust your agency to deliver. If you have any doubt, it’s probably time to review the suppliers you are working with.

Getting the balance

The balance between budget and return can be tricky but it’s not impossible. Be honest, be open and set expectations from the outset.

Once these are in place you will start to see the value of PR. When you are celebrating results, you will realise PR really is an investment and not a cost.

THE POWER OF PR: WHY REPURPOSING CONTENT MATTERS

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

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

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

Extending audience reach through compelling content

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

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

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

Press releases

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

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

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

Blog/news section

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

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

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

LinkedIn

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

THE MANY TALENTS THAT MAKE UP AN EFFECTIVE PR AGENCY

As with many industries, when you work in PR you come to expect that people will have some preconceived ideas. Stereotypes have been developed over the years, not helped by characters in popular TV programmes.

Assumptions are made about the ‘type’ of people who work in the profession. In some organisations, this may be a true reflection of the workforce. However, here at Open Comms, we believe that to be truly effective an agency needs diversity, in every sense of the word.

Nurturing Creativity

Bringing together a blend of genders, ages, personalities and experiences allows for a PR business to be more creative. A vital component when creating any strategic plan or campaign.

What’s more, working across a range of industries, this variety of thoughts and approaches is essential when we are constantly looking at new and more innovative ideas for clients.

Using our collective skills means we can offer each organisation a bespoke service that encompasses creative elements tailored especially to them.

The team here loves nothing more than to take an hour out to brainstorm and let our ideas run wild. It’s amazing to see the knowledge, experience and preferences of the team come to life during the campaign planning process.

However, the icing on the cake is when the plan comes together. This is what we enjoy most; sharing excellent results and a job well done for our clients.

Staying on Top of the Latest Trends

Our many differences influence the way that we perceive changes in the wider world. As a team of PR professionals, we naturally take an interest in trends. After all, it is an important part of our job. However, that’s not to say that we don’t all have our antennas tuned to the products, services and brands that appeal to each of us the most.

A resident shopaholic, for example, is more likely to know about the latest designers, prints and fashions; while a budding chef will probably have a keener take on how taste buds and food preferences are changing.

The more tech savvy among us can keep track of the latest social media software and the tools that help our client’s platforms stand out from the crowd. Whereas a more ethically conscious personality may be more in touch with social movements, and the changing sentiment around environmental issues.

Fostering Strong Working Relationships

One size doesn’t fit all, and an agency with a lack of diversity is likely to have a hard time branching out in the PR business.

Our clients come from all backgrounds, with different target markets and product offerings. With a diverse team in place, we can match personalities and expertise with clients – leading to exceptional working relationships.

Not only does this make life easier all round, but it makes for strong bonds and a friendly, personal approach. Ultimately, this helps us work less like an external agency, and more like an extension of each team.

Empathy and Sensitivity

Some personalities are a little more robust, taking a tougher stance on certain issues. While others are gentler, picking up on sensitivities which may pass the average person by. Then we have those in the middle, the ones who strive to see both sides of every scenario.

In a crisis, this blend of personalities is a fantastic asset and one which is very much valued within our business. After all, for most organisations, facing a PR crisis will be one of the most testing times in its history. Without a team who can be trusted to consider all angles, it can quite easily become a very tricky situation to navigate.

However, having built up a long-term relationship with a PR agency that understands a brand and business, a company can be confident that its reputation and future is in safe hands.

Experience and Guidance

Our team members come with a whole host of experiences, which contributes to the unique approach that Open Comms delivers.

Some of us have been working in the industry for more than 20 years, while others are taking their first steps into the world of PR.

We’re particularly proud of our supportive approach, which sees the team learn from one-another. What remains at the forefront is that we all have something different to share, whether starting out or with a career spanning more than two decades.

Whether it’s our resident (former) journalist; the social media savvy among us or our Masters-level linguist, making the time to learn from one another’s experiences is an opportunity not to be overlooked.

Find out a little more about our team here. Alternatively, pick up the phone and give us a call on 01924 862477 – we’d love to chat.

UTILISING PR PROPERLY AMID THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS

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

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

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

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

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

1. Take the opportunity to approach press and media outlets

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

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

2. Don’t hide away from Covid-19

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

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

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

3. Customer and client engagement

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

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

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

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

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

 

SHARE YOUR STORY: BUILD YOUR BRAND

PR is about telling stories and building brands

Brand loyalty is not what it used to be. People don’t typically have the same affinity with a company they once did. Perhaps because we now purchase for convenience rather than experience. We access our shopping online or from conglomerates. We have absolutely no idea who served us from one day to the next. That is assuming you didn’t use self checkout.

Times have changed and so have expectations. Consumers want quick, easy and accessible. They want price checks and free returns policies. It’s no longer about relationship building or shared values, it’s about simplicity and functionality.

But what if things were to change?

What’s your story?

Storytelling is an underestimated skill.

Sharing content that is useful, insightful and meaningful has changed the landscape for brands, giving them an opportunity to create a point of difference. In a bid to stand out from the crowd, manufacturers and retailers need to let people know why they should choose one product over another.

This isn’t just about why a business started in the first place, it goes beyond that. In order to give a true impression of a company and what it stands for, an organisation needs to decide what themes will resonate with its audience(s).

It may be the values of a business, the sustainable approach it takes, its corporate social responsibility or the skill, time, effort and experience that goes into making the final product. It may be tone of voice and an honesty that is not typical within a given market or all of the above.

Whatever it happens to be, making a plan for posting content and giving consumers the opportunity to learn more about a company will equip them with the information they need to make more informed choices.

Content that matters

There is a belief that posting a blog every now and then will do the trick and sharing copy across social channels will have people flicking on the kettle and grabbing a cup of tea ready to sit down for a good read.

The truth is that people are just as busy as you are.

It is therefore necessary for brands to consider this and to condense copy so that it can be shared in a way that will appeal to the widest overall audience. It is fine to draft a blog, but break the copy up and then provide a revised version which will share the main points across social channels. If people want to read more they can. Working in this way gives them the choice.

Organisations should map out what the audience needs, wants and what they will enjoy. It may be industry specific topics, thought leadership articles, advice and guidance or something more light-hearted, such as a weekly update from the workforce.

Identifying what is most likely to work will save time and also keep people coming back for more. There is no point in sharing the same content over and over. This is a chance to mix things up and to give a brief glimpse behind closed doors.

Content that changes behaviours

Marketing and PR can be a reoccurring point on agendas which never gets the attention it deserves.

What business owners may fail to realise is that well written copy that is shared regularly can change behaviours. That means that people could switch from purchasing one brand to another based on access to information and strategic storytelling.

Some brands do this very well and use the opportunity to share updates as a way of reiterating the importance of every purchaser to them. Not only does this start to build a community of like minded people, it also gives those involved the confidence they have made the right decision.

When you think about it, would you rather purchase from a faceless, transactional business that will seemingly never give you a second thought or from a brand with personality that thanks you for your custom and directs you to useful content that you can access at your leisure.

Forcing the point

It is absolutely imperative that whatever the size of the business, those responsible for drafting copy understand the difference between selling and sharing. There is a fine line between commercial marketing and editorial PR, which can seem like a mountain to climb when you are faced with a blank sheet and a blog post to draft.

When curating content, it is a good to set out a plan. What is the purpose of the copy, what is the point and why will people read and share it? Without the answers to each of these questions, you may find you are wasting your time.

Forcing a point may come across as a sales pitch, which can do more damage than good. The purpose is rather to educate, inform and give people the detail and background they need to make an informed choice about your product and business.

That is why establishing a tone of voice will give you an edge and will make drafting copy far simpler. It will mean that you are able to inject personality and to build this over time. It doesn’t have to remain exactly the same, it can evolve and those that do become loyal follows will become a part of that journey.

Starting small, thinking big

Drafting content and sharing stories should be a part of any businesses planning and strategy if they want to build a strong and resilient brand.

Rather than make this ‘another thing to do’, the best way to implement change is to start small and think big. One suggestion would be to draft a blog a month, which is supported by social media updates across the most appropriate channels to redirect the audience to that post.

There can then be plans to increase this as the audience increases and customers become more accustomed to the sharing of regular content. Setting clear measures of success should be all the encouragement a business needs to continue. After all, if the right approach is taken, the results will follow.

THE POWER OF STORYTELLING FROM ‘MY STREET’

The power of storytelling

I have a guilty pleasure; I really like to watch documentaries while I make dinner. It’s my time to do two things that I enjoy; learning from storytelling and creating homemade meals for my family.

This isn’t a new thing. It was always my Sunday afternoon treat. Since lockdown I’ve started to watch programmes on my iPad while prepping, chopping, baking, boiling and roasting. It is a way for me to destress and unwind while also learning about others.

I am interested in different communities, cultures and lifestyles. The way people choose to live their lives intrigues me and I genuinely believe we can all learn from others: good or bad.

Looking differently at My Street

While perusing the choices, I came across an old programme called My Street. The concept was simple but inspired. A lady had lived on a street for many years and realised she didn’t know her neighbours.

Not usual now-a-days, and something that I feel we can probably all relate to in one way or another.

She set about knocking on doors and asking each family to share their stories about love, life and loss on film. The outcome was an insight into a street that was made up of so many different characters that had one thing in common: their postcode.

Learning from storytelling

This got me thinking.

There is little doubt that one of the reasons I enjoy documentaries so much is that I write stories for a living. Admittedly, the releases and features I draft are often about business, but this doesn’t mean they are devoid of personality.

We always say that passion is infectious, and personality is the one thing that a company has that cannot be replicated. You may be selling the same product as another business but what makes your organisation unique is you. This is where the power of storytelling comes into its own.

I then realised that during lockdown we have started to talk to our neighbours more. We’ve always nodded a polite hello but now we stand in our gardens and we chat. We live on a cul-de-sac in a former mining village and are all very different.

Since lockdown a group of us have come together and during our morning, afternoon and evening chats (which conform to the obligatory social distancing) we have learnt about ‘My Street’. It wasn’t forced it just happened and has made me realise how important it is to add personality to content if you want to really engage with an audience.

Behind closed doors

People like stories. They like to know what happens behind closed doors and to hear about the love, life and loss of others. This doesn’t mean every business needs to share their inner most workings with everyone. In fact, I can’t think of a single client that would happily disclose all their best kept secrets. What it does put into perspective is the need to add interesting facts into the case studies, press releases, blogs and social content.

If you want to harness the power of storytelling you need to think differently.

Adding some honesty to copy and write in the first person to change a piece of content from informative to truly engaging. Creating reactions and changing behaviours is one of the benefits of PR and writing in this way will achieve those objectives.

Going back to My Street

Although I have worked in PR for more than 20 years, I never assume to know everything.

Life is about lessons and I like to learn from others. I try to take the positives from situations and just one of those will be that My Street has reminded me that the true story is the person behind the headline.

Remembering this and using it as a tool going forward, I’m going to put this into practice and make it my mission to find out more about the people behind the stories that we share. But before that, I am going to continue to enjoy the chats that we are having with neighbours and to learning more about what goes on behind closed doors on My Street.

SHARING THE SECRETS BEHIND PR

Sharing the secrets about PR

The truth is that when it comes to sharing the secrets behind PR, there aren’t any.

Before I go on, let me make it clear, those working in the profession are specialists and they spend years training but there is no need for a scholarship at Hogwarts.

As an industry, PR suffers from a reputation crisis. Many businesses have been let down by false promises, hidden costs and wasted budgets. They have been offered the earth and when that doesn’t materialise they are left with a document full of excuses.

Unfortunately, this has put many companies off, and rightly so, but the good news is that this doesn’t have to be the case. 

Starting at the beginning

All businesses can benefit from PR. This isn’t a statement, it’s a fact.

Whatever the industry or product, there can be a clear rationale made for engaging with staff, customers and / or suppliers. Furthermore, it is really important that companies share their values, approach and where possible, the reason for their existence.

If people are to part with their hard earned money, they want to better understand where their purchases come from. This isn’t necessarily about food miles, but more about the philosophy of an organisation and what it stands for.

Setting a strategy

Clearly, not every business is the same, and the objectives for putting a communications strategy in place will be different. This is one of the benefits of PR; it can be shaped around any organisation whether business to business, business to consumer or third sector.

The other thing to consider is who will be involved in developing the strategy and delivering it. There needs to be clear ownership and input. PR isn’t something that will just happen, it needs to be managed and driven.

A seat around the boardroom table

PR needs to take a seat around the boardroom table. There is no point in making the investment – of time or resource – if putting a strategy into practice is not going to be taken seriously. If PR remains a nice to have then it simply won’t work.

Finding those within the business that have a natural affinity or passion for communication will take some of the pressure off. Giving these individuals additional responsibility and set performance indicators to work towards will keep PR on the agenda.

Discussing the tactics that have worked and those that haven’t with the senior management team will reinforce the importance of PR and what it can deliver.

Sharing the excitement

As a business function, when PR works well, it is difficult for people not to notice. It may be coverage in a newspaper, on the radio or even TV. It could be a newsletter, a blog, social media posts or an internal communication programme.

Whatever the objective, getting excited by the results that can be achieved through PR is fundamental to its success. A further benefit is that once one element of the plan is working, it can evolve and additional actions can be added.

Not enough time in the day

It’s easy to default to this assumption. There just simply isn’t enough time in the day to do everything that is required and PR isn’t a priority.

Well, it should be.

How a company communicates will influence the behaviour of its customers. There are few other specialisms that can make this kind of impact. PR is just as important as the quality of a product or service, which should ensure that it remains on the agenda.

When organisations recognise the real value of PR it can be transformative and that is why setting aside the time is so important.

Relying on the specialists

For those that really don’t have the time and cannot find any available resource within the business, the alternative is to turn to the specialists.

As a Wakefield based PR agency we work with businesses of all sizes. As well as delivering a year-round PR, communications and content strategy for our clients, we also deliver training. This gives smaller organisations the tactics, tools and techniques they need to put the theory into practice.

For those that want to explore PR, content marketing and social media further, please do give us a call or email.

 

CITY CATHEDRAL TO BE ENGULFED IN FIERY GLOW AT NIGHT OF FIRE & LIGHT

Although the brisk remnants of a cold and dull winter are still lurking in the open air, Wakefield is set to turn up the temperature as we welcome in the start of Spring.

As one of the most culturally diverse cities in the UK, the Wakefield district is home to an array of world-renowned attractions. With the likes of the leading international centre for modern and contemporary art, Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP); the award-winning art museum, The Hepworth Wakefield, and the National Coal Mining Museum for England, Wakefield certainly punches above its weight when it comes to things to see and do.

But arguably the most underrated and overlooked cultural offering, which sits in the heart of the city centre, is Wakefield Cathedral.

Although the residents of Wakefield may have become immune to the historic building’s towering and picturesque presence, the public’s interest in the cathedral will certainly be reignited during a two-night event at the end of this month.

Wakefield BID in association with Wakefield Cultural Consortium, the collective of cultural venues and business organisations from across the district, are set to launch a ‘Night of Fire & Light’ as Wakefield Cathedral is transformed into an illuminated cityscape.

Delivered by award-winning outdoor arts organisation, Walk the Plank, on Thursday 26 and Friday 27 March from 7pm – 9.30pm, the Night of Fire & Light will enable families to wander through a series of specially commissioned art installations and sculptures, which will cast a fiery glow around the grade-I listed building and its gardens.

Following flame-lit pathways adorned with intricately carved flower boxes and flame-filled floral chimneys, the event will put the spotlight firmly on the city’s cathedral, which will also be lit as a magnificent backdrop to the event.

Visitors will be able to experience Wakefield Cathedral in a completely new and exciting way! For further details about Night of Fire & Light visit www.experiencewakefield.co.uk/fire-light.

I for one, can’t wait!

UNDERSTANDING THE BENEFITS OF OUTSOURCING PR

Senior management may like it or not, but in order to realise their business’ full growth potential they will have to invest time and money in a robust and strategic communications plan.

Whether it’s raising a company’s profile, increasing brand awareness or protecting an organisation’s reputation, implementing a public relations strategy can be an extremely effective method of generating a significant boost in both revenue and profits.

The challenge, however, is to either keep PR services in-house or pay for an external agency to handle this process.

Although each option will require investment, the focus shouldn’t be put on the most cost-effective approach but rather the one that will deliver the strongest ROI. Looking at the long-term, outsourcing PR and marketing services can be much more advantageous than handling this approach internally.

First and foremost, working with PR agencies gives business leaders full access to an entire team of communication specialists and their varied skill set. No matter how complex the brief may be, agency professionals can each take a key area of focus to deliver a full-service programme of activity.

Once executed successfully, an external service provider can often become strategic partners to the businesses they work with, offering valuable market insight, guidance with future campaigns and expert advice to key decision makers and stakeholders.

Ultimately, PR agencies need to be seen as an extended team of the companies they work with, and not for.

Below are my top three benefits from working with an external PR agency

Team of experts: No matter the marketing or communication requirements, PR agencies will have a team of specialists at an organisations disposal to tackle any issue, often at the same price of hiring just one new employee. Specialisms include copywriting, social media management, digital marketing, press release writing, crisis management, plus many more.

Media relations: PR agencies have developed a vast network of media contacts in many different industries. So no matter what market a business operates in, specific members of press, publications and influencers can be targeted to help generate positive publicity.

Creative outlet: Creativity sits at the heart of PR agencies, whose teams are brimming with unique and imaginative concepts that will create buzz and excitement like never before. Businesses can capitalise whenever they are commenting on current trends, looking to disrupt certain sectors, enter new markets or simply trying to get in front of a wider audience.

Investing in PR should never be seen as ‘a nice to have’ but rather a key catalyst to obtaining further growth.

For more information about how Open Communications works with businesses and brands of all sizes please call a member of the team.

TRANSITIONING FROM JOURNALISM TO PR, ONE YEAR ON…

This time last year, I was preparing to leave my career in journalism behind.

A necessary change

After four and a half years in the industry, I finally made the decision to switch to public relations. But, as my former colleagues often taunted and teased me about turning to the ‘dark side’, I can safely say that the transition has been an extremely illuminating experience.

During my tenure as a business journalist, I was on the receiving end of the hard work of many PR professionals. Whether it was receiving press releases, organising interviews, collecting client comments or the often-tedious task of sourcing high resolution images, collaborating with PR agencies makes the lives of journalists a hell of a lot easier.

Although I’m sure many in the profession may be quick to disagree, or squirm at this admission, it is the truth!

Yes, journalism is a competitive, demanding and high-pressured job, but it can also be extremely exciting and rewarding. The thrill of being the first to break a story, working towards an impending deadline, meeting high-profile individuals, being privy to many major announcements and simply not knowing what the next day may bring were just a few of the things I thought I’d miss about being a journalist.

When my decision came to light, I found myself on the receiving end of the vitriolic questions journalists often pose to their target. But the majority of my contemporaries would simply want to know ‘why?’

Leaving a legacy

In recent years the rollercoaster ride of being a journalist turned into more of a repetitive slog where the twists and turns were becoming less frequent and lacked the thrill they once provided. In a world of economic uncertainty and squabbling politicians, the same doom and gloom headlines dominated the news in a never-ending cycle.

‘What legacy is this?’ I often asked myself. The realisation finally came that it was my time to stop and get off the rollercoaster. Another force pulling me to the ‘dark side’ was the positive experiences I had during my frequent encounters with PR professionals from a plethora of different agencies. I was always intrigued about the variety of clients just one PR agency could work with and the diverse ways in which they strategically operate to reach a certain outcome.

Collaborating with multiple businesses; learning about different sectors; promoting beneficial initiatives; marketing the latest products or just simply learning and refining new skills are a number of aspects which made PR much more appealing to me than journalism. My days of finishing one story then going on to the next were over.

My PR journey begins

Not long after joining Open Communications, I was introduced to what it really meant to be an agency that delivered PR, social media and content marketing strategies for brands and businesses across a range of sectors.

The concept that public relations industry revolved around writing press releases and making phone calls all day was quickly eradicated. My reality check was quick. PR professionals are multifaceted, motivated individuals who need to prioritise their own time, strategically plan out each day and week and expect the unexpected.

The biggest eye-opener for me was initially monitoring the scale of the day-to-day tasks the team carries out and how they all form part of a results-driven process which is applied to every single client.

Gone are the days where I’d be churning story after story for newsletter after newsletter, hoping and waiting for the monotony to end. My daily activities now comprise a range of tasks I didn’t have the means to complete just one year ago.

With no two days ever the same, I can be writing copy for a clients’ new website; laying out a comms strategy to enter new markets or creating promotional content one day, to researching the latest innovative features in a specific field or carrying out a social media campaign across multiple platforms the next.

It is also worth mentioning that the good old-fashioned press release still plays an important part but it’s certainly not the sum of the piece!  This is the sort of legacy I want to leave, and I cannot wait to see where my PR career continues to take me.