Tag: pr

WHAT I LOVE MOST ABOUT WORKING IN PR

What I love most about working in PR

Since earlier this year, I have had a lot of time to think about what I love most about working in PR. I’m not entering a mid-life crisis, although I am quickly approaching 40. My husband and I have adopted a baby.

This life-changing moment in our lives has given us both the chance to look back, as well as forward. During these last few months, I’ve been reassessing my priorities. Although family have always come first, I really appreciate the importance of work to me now too.

I thought it might be useful to share more about what I love most after more than two decades in the industry.

 

Variety

The first thing I love about PR is that no two days are ever the same. I’m not the kind of person that manages well with monotony or jobs that come with rigorous and defined process. What I enjoy is the variety of clients, objectives and tactics that we get to work with every day.

It could be a campaign to launch a new snack or a crisis that has the potential to bring a business to its knees. PR is a specialism with many benefits and that means we need to be on our toes. It’s not a job that you can plan for and know what’s going to happen each day.

There is always a list of things that you know will need completing, but there’s also the unexpected tasks that invariably impact on our working week too.

We have the pleasure of managing accounts for a huge array of clients and that supports variety. They all need something different and that makes PR really exciting.

 

Challenge

I wouldn’t say that PR is for the faint-hearted. It never stops. Never sleeps. Cannot be ignored. Putting you head in the sand when you work in PR is not an option.

Managing the press office for a number of clients is a challenge in itself. After all, how many people can say they are trusted with a brands reputation? It is arguably the biggest asset an organisation has.

Add campaigns, crisis, marketing materials and social media posts to the mix and you have a complex balance to manage every week. An old director of mine once said PR is like spinning plates, and I agree. Making sure they don’t fall certainly keeps the blood pumping.

 

Meeting people

It helps to be sociable when you work in PR. It isn’t a prerequisite; however, it does make life easier.

With colleagues, clients and journalists to work with, you need to be able to get on with others. That’s even before you consider influencers, partners, suppliers and brand buddies.

The positive to this is that you get to meet some really interesting people. As well as famous celebrities, I’ve met individuals that have had a profound impact on my life. Those that have taught me life lessons I will never forget. In addition, I’ve made some life-long friends.

I don’t think that is something that you should discard or take for granted. A career in PR will create experiences like few others and that’s another reason I love it.

 

A sense of achievement

In my opinion, it’s time to look for a new job when you stop getting excited by the results you can achieve in PR. Securing coverage, attracting an audience, featuring on broadcast, creating campaigns that get people talking. It’s all part of the mix.

I love that feeling of butterflies when you know something has gone well and you get the chance to share your achievements with clients and colleagues.

It’s not about showing off. It is about being proud of what you have achieved and knowing that you’ve done a good job. There are few better feelings.

 

Shared success

At Open Comms we have clients that have trusted us for years. As such, we have shared in their success. The reward that comes from this can be quite overwhelming. Whether it’s a charity that has changed beyond recognition or a brand that launched and is now a multi-million-pound business. Each client we work with gets our full attention.

Knowing that your efforts and hard graft has delivered for a business is genuinely fulfilling. PR is a specialism that can change opinion. It can influence decision. Grab attention. Provide a brand with purpose.

All of these things make it an incredibly powerful tool and that is a further example of what I love most about working in PR.

HOW THE ROLE OF RELATIONSHIPS CAN ‘MAKE OR BREAK’ PR PROGRESS

Success in PR is largely dependent on the ability to forge and maintain lasting relationships. But as an industry that is constantly evolving, so too is the way we communicate. With that in mind, putting in place the tactics needed to deliver consistent and reliable communications with those that matter most has never been more important.

Understanding the way we communicate with our clients, the press and our fellow employees can often be a challenging prospect. But as the working day for any PR professional can be incredibly varied, we must be able to meet the differing expectations of our many audiences.

Here at Open Comms’, our diverse client base requires that each member of the team must continually develop an efficient understanding of multiple sectors and specific fields. We are able to obtain this knowledge through the close relationships we have forged and the effective way we communicate with our clients, but also each other as well.

Clients

Whether it’s digital or charitable, public sector or professional services, the Open Comms team have developed the ability to seamlessly transfer from one to the other without any disruption to our work or comprising our services.

This is only achievable by working as an extension of our clients’ teams so that we have access to all of the information and detail we require.

Using this as a foundation, the Open Comms team takes a collaborative approach when executing a PR and marketing strategy. From conceptualisation to delivery, we offer transparency and openness throughout the entire process.

By cultivating this trust and respect, we retain relationships that span many years and often result in us being recommended by those we work with.

Media

Relationships with clients may be considered as the most important, but they are by no means the only ones we must nurture on a daily basis. A vital aspect of any PR professional’s role is media relations.

As journalists are inundated with dozens upon dozens of requests on a daily basis, their capacity to answer each one is almost impossible. So, establishing lasting relationships with members of the press is critical to the success of our press coverage. It is important that we, as PR professionals, contact journalists with something that will ultimately benefit them and their publication.

To understand the widespread benefits of having trusted contacts in the media, I’ve listed some top tips about what you must consider prior to approaching them.

  • Research what the journalists have historically covered in the past
  • Understand who their readers are and what is topical to them
  • Identify why you have ‘newsworthy’ content for them
  • Highlight why their readers will be interested
  • Be bespoke in your interactions, and try to avoid sending generic communications

We would like to think that through our relationships we have become an asset to the journalists we work with. We are often told that we are a trusted source of news and information.

Colleagues

Last but not least, the relationship between colleagues is paramount in the continuity of services a PR agency offers its clients. We at Open Comms pride ourselves on being an agile and receptive workforce who are able to trust one another when it comes to delivering for the brands we support.

Each employee at Open Comms brings their own individual skillset to the table. Not only does this ensure we are able to deliver on all client briefs, no matter how complex, but our collaborative way of working enables each of us to learn and develop new skills.

We are able to work as cohesive unit because of the trust we have developed through the relationships we have established. Much like we are with clients, the Open Comms team operate through regular communications and ensure that the team, no matter what position, has a clear understanding of each employee’s specific workload.

If you’d like to find out about the service we offer, then please contact the team here or simply give us a call on 01924 862477.

WHAT KIND OF BUSINESSES BENEFIT FROM PR?

What businesses benefit from PR

When we ask the question ‘what kind of businesses benefit from PR?’, we are making certain assumptions that organisations fit neatly into boxes.

It is presumed that those most likely to benefit will sell products direct to consumers or have huge budgets to invest. The good news is that neither of these are strictly true.

Companies or all sizes and sectors can benefit from PR. They could be business to consumer, business to business or third sector. The trick is to make sure that the strategy behind the schedule of activity and tactics chosen will deliver against objectives.

Setting objectives

We’ve said it before, and we will say it again; businesses must set clear objectives if they are to secure the return on investment they expect from PR. Without targets in place, agencies have nothing to compare results against. There is no benchmark of good or bad, success or failure.

Any organisation that is going to spend the time and money required to implement an effective PR strategy should start with what they want to achieve. Irrelevant of sector or target audience, there needs to be some clarity when it comes to what constitutes an outcome to be celebrated.

Sector specific

It is true that some sectors have embraced PR with open arms, seeing the benefits that it delivers. Take FMCG (fast moving consumer goods). Many brands within this marketplace will implement a PR strategy from launch. They will also benefit from the results that this delivers long beyond.

The argument is that these businesses have a captive audience and often a mass market to communicate with. Perhaps this is the case, however they have also recognised the benefits that can be achieved through PR. This is the first step to setting strong foundations for any brand.

In contrast, consider manufacturing. This is huge and varied industry. Whatever the company is making, in my experience too many businesses are missing out by believing that PR will add no value.

Far too frequently, I hear people say that their audience wouldn’t be interested or that their products are too niche.

This is where PR is underestimated. As a specialism that is used to communicate, it can also be used to target many different audiences. This may be internal colleagues, stakeholders, investors, board members or future talent.

Remembering to communicate effectively with those that matter to a business most should never be over-looked.

When it doesn’t work

We work across a range of sectors from retail to print, confectionery to third sector. We have always said that if we couldn’t deliver for a business, we would let them know. There is no point in taking on a brief that isn’t going to work. Worst still, taking someone’s money knowing you will deliver no results.

In eleven years, I can count on one hand the number of times we have had to have this conversation. It isn’t because PR wouldn’t work, but because the approach or tactics the client wanted to use didn’t fit with our recommendations.

There are so many different tactics you can choose when you work in PR. As well as being a blessing this can be a challenge. It is our job to use those that will deliver a consistent return but there are occasions when a brand will want to do things their way.

All we can do is offer honest advice and that’s what we do.

Getting the tactics right

With a toolkit of tactics, we are in a very fortunate position to be able to curate a campaign that is specific to each client. There is no one-size-fits-all in PR. We have to think long and hard about what we can do to make the brands we work with stand out from the crowd.

Thanks to experience, we are able to do this. We work with our clients to make sure they get the very best value – and consistent results – from the campaigns and year-round programmes we deliver.

It may be a press office, which ensures these brands are featured regularly in the news. It could be shared content that reiterates expertise and builds trust. It might be social media posts that engage with a specific audience and build a community. Or, all of the above and more!

Relying on experts will make life easier and results quicker. There is always an element of test and measure with PR. Knowing you can change approach at any time limits risk, which is a further benefit to PR.

Making the most of what you have

PR is one of the most cost-effective marketing tools there is. That isn’t to say it is ‘cheap’ or easy. The truth is that it takes time, and time is money. However, when you get it right the results will have a positive impact on your business and its bottom line.

Building profile, securing coverage, increasing online presence, managing a crisis, preparing for a product launch, consistently communicating with customers – these all fit under the umbrella of PR.

As a business, when I look at where we will invest, I consider the impact that product or service will deliver. Should other companies do the same when it comes to PR, I am sure that many more brands would be benefitting. Whatever sector, I am confident that most organisations would benefit from PR.

It is a specialism that should be taken as seriously as finance. PR is still about managing the reputation of a brand and business. Arguably, the most valuable asset of any organisation. If ever there was a more significant reason to consider PR, this has to be it.

For further information about how we work with businesses of all sizes to deliver against their objectives please contact Open Communications on tel. 01924 862477.

RECOGNISING THE IMPORTANCE OF FACE TO FACE COMMUNICATION

One lesson I’ve learnt from lockdown is the importance of face to face communication. Not only has this been something I’ve missed from my personal life, it’s something I’ve missed from a professional perspective too.

With ever increasing opportunities for virtual engagement it’s easy to see how we could move away from face to face meetings for good. As we move towards our new normal, it’s got me thinking if there really is a need to travel long distances for meetings and spend every day in the office.

While many have suggested the traditional office formalities are near extinct, I’ve begun to appreciate the need for personal interactions and believe they are invaluable in the PR world.

Colleague relationships

In the first few weeks of lockdown, I found myself missing the office banter and the endless rounds of tea delivered to my desk. Now, I find myself longing for a team meeting where we can get together in person and discuss our actions without a sound delay or speaking over others.

In PR our working relationships are important and there is nothing like getting together to brainstorm ideas for a campaign. We work best when we can bounce off each other and share our creativity. It also means we can suggest the wildest stunts and feed our imaginations.

We can see the excitement in our colleagues faces and make our intentions are clear. People have to be in a room together to really get the best ideas flowing. This is something that simply can’t be recreated on Microsoft Teams. It’s getting us through lockdown, but I miss the sense of community the weekly office meeting brings.

Client Relationships

At Open Comms we have continued to maintain regular contact with our clients and have been very much business as usual throughout the pandemic, but meeting with our clients face to face has been missed.

We believe taking the time to get to know our clients means we understand their values and allows us to develop stronger business relationships and deliver the desired results. It isn’t always about work; it is about chatting and learning more about the personalities behind the brands we work for.

Seeing someone in person allows you to get to know them quicker and better. It is a way to find out about shared interests and to become more than just a third-party supplier. We always say that we are an extension of our clients’ teams and that is very true. It remains the case in the virtual world, but it isn’t the same.

Emotion

When communicating virtually, the ability to read body language and facial expressions are lost and any emotion is removed. Without these cues we raise the risk of misinterpreting the tone of an email or call.

While other businesses may thrive from a move to virtual communication, I think the value of face to face communication in the PR sector will last for many more years to come.

And as we finally start to see the lockdown restrictions eased, I absolutely can’t wait to reconnect with family, friends, colleagues and clients alike.

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.

WHAT A BRAND CAN EXPECT FROM PR

What a brand can expect from PR

The most common question we get asked, is what a brand can expect from PR? It isn’t quite that simple to answer, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some obvious returns. As long as the brief is specific, the objective clear and the budgets available, then you should expect results.

PR isn’t simply about drafting copy and getting it in the paper. It is one tactic, yet not the sum of the whole. When you invest in a PR practitioner or an agency you should set specific objectives. You need to be absolutely clear about what you want to achieve.

Far too often, a company will say that they need PR with no explanation as to why? Knowing what you want as an outcome gives those working on a project or year-round strategy some focus and direction.

Consistent message

PR allows you to share a consistent message, with multiple audiences, across a range of platforms. Depending on how your targets are most likely to find information, a PR will ensure your products feature in that space.

It may be drafting regular press releases that are shared with the media. It may be uploading content to a blog. Sharing engaging updates across social media channels. Providing access to a monthly podcast. Whatever the tactic that is chosen, the focus should always be on sharing a consistent message.

As well as becoming synonymous with a brand, it will mean that this information can be used to educate your audience. They will better understand your products and over time, your business too.

Tone of voice

Deciding on a tone of voice can be a challenge for brands. It can be difficult for someone to think about their business as they would a person. What would it sound like? If you met your product in the pub, what language would it use? How would it choose to interact with others?

Some will think this is a silly ‘game’ and not worth the effort. The reality is that when you see the results from brands that have got it right, it suddenly becomes very worthwhile.

Thinking about the words that you would and would not use. The technical terms and jargon. The approach of being friendly or factual. Considering how a business will come across should not be underestimated.

The best part about getting the tone right, is that once it is there, it will become second nature. It will also appeal to an audience that can resonate with your message. This is incredibly powerful.

Recognition

Again, this is just one tactic, however awards can bring great credibility. They are also an opportunity to celebrate and to claim the recognition you deserve. Too often, companies think of awards as ‘blowing their own trumpet.

In contrast, they are an opportunity for team building and extending thanks to colleagues. I have never in my career had a client be disappointed at winning an award. Not winning, of course. The truth being that if you don’t enter the outcome is only going one way!

The trick is to find the awards that will raise your profile in the right places. They should be delivered by reputable organisations and come with some credibility. Many of these awards have been running for years and are hosted by media companies. They have a phased process of entry, shortlist and event. These are the types of awards we consider for our clients.

If you get a call from an organisation to say you have won something, yet you didn’t enter, think long and hard before you accept. Chances are you will have to pay, and I would question whether the outcome is worth the investment.

Personality

PR gives a business the chance to add some personality. Again, this can be overlooked. People don’t want to buy from faceless brands. They want to better understand those behind the business and what makes them tick.

Adding a back story is always a good idea. It allows an audience to feel that they are more than a purchaser. Overtime, the objective should be to build a community of like-minded followers. Once this is the case, you then have a captive audience to engage with.

It isn’t about sell, sell, sell. Adding some personality to an organisation is a great way to detract from this. We were responsible for some personal posts for Myers Group and they really got to the heart of the business.

The stories that each individual had to share – including the MD’s – were honest and funny! A great combination when this content was shared on the website and across social posts. Not only did they attract attention, but also encouraged engagement.

An audience

Without an audience there will be no sales. Without sales, there is no business!

Identifying targets can be tricky. It isn’t always as simple as to suggest one size that fits all. This is why a mapping exercise will help.

Once you do have your audiences, you can start to communicate with them using PR in a way that will be most receptive.

This is where the beauty of PR really does come out in all its glory. Like many marketing disciplines, PR uses an element of trial and error. This is why we have a toolkit of tactics to choose from. It’s a blessing rather than a curse.

The way we work is to put in place a strategy that will evolve over time. What we ask of our clients is that they are willing to be flexible and to attempt new things. Even those that may make them feel a little uncomfortable. We wouldn’t make recommendations if we didn’t feel they would work.

Results

If you are working with the right practitioner or agency, then you will start to see results. The profile of your business will increase. People will start to chat to you about the latest news they have read. Business associates will comment, like and share your content. Associates will start to follow your social media channels. You will have the chance to celebrate awards with colleagues.

What a brand can expect from PR, depends entirely on its objectives. The greatest benefit being that PR can be so many different things, to so many different people. There is however one thing for certain, a return on investment should be a given!

SPECIALISING IN CLIENTS RATHER THAN SECTORS

You’ll often find that PR agencies specialise in a particular sector. At Open Comms we take a slightly different approach. We believe that there’s a bigger picture. So, rather than viewing PR requirements as dictated by industry, we take a more client-focused view. We create bespoke packages that deliver against each brand’s objectives.

But don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that we don’t have the experience to deliver. Sometimes we find the assumption is that agencies that specialise could do a better job but that is not always the case.

When receiving a brief, we treat every client the same; we are honest about whether we can do the very best job or not. After all, delivering fantastic results is what we pride ourselves on, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

The bigger picture

When working with clients from a single sector, it would be quite easy to ‘roll out’ a PR package which works, time and time again. We would deliver excellent results. Our client would be happy. And the objectives would be achieved. All with minimal effort.

…So, what’s not to like about that?

Well, by diversifying our offering and working with clients across multiple sectors, we have to put in some extra ‘elbow grease’ and that keeps our job exciting. Since our launch we’ve made this our mission. We’ve gathered a huge amount of experience over the years along with contacts and extra creative ideas too.

Rather than taking a narrow view of what ‘should be done’, we can help companies to stand out from the crowd. After all, there aren’t many brands with a grand ambition to be exactly the same as their competitors. They want to be unique and make a name for themselves in their own right – and rightly so too!

Keeping one eye on the competition

For those agencies which operate solely within one sector, it stands to reason that they are likely to be representing competing brands. Now, it might just be us, but that’s not something that we’d want to see from a team who is handling everything from our top-secret new products, to reputational crises!

Here at Open Comms we have a strict policy of never working with competing businesses – offering that extra, much needed peace of mind and the assurance that we always have our client’s best interests at heart. No conflicts of interest here!

Putting clients front and centre

Each of our client’s PR packages are tailored to suit them, prioritising the elements which are of particular importance.

For some, we deliver a basic press office function. For others quirky and creative consumer campaigns. In some instances, corporate comms will be top priority. While, for others, trade PR is a particular area of focus. Most commonly, however, our clients choose a mix of tactics, which work together to achieve each brand’s unique objectives.

With a mix of skilled PR professionals, all with a varied range of experiences, we’re lucky enough to be able to match our team members with the clients that they work with. This ensures that we have all of the attributes to take your business to the next level.

Drop us an email at info@opencomms.co.uk or give us a call on 01924 862477. We’d love to have a chat and see how we can help you take your business to the next level.

WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO WORK IN PR?

Why would you want to work in PR

It’s a fair question. PR is challenging. You never get chance to switch off. As part of the day job, you must manage multiple relationships. It’s about working to other people’s deadlines. There is a constant feeling of being accountable for your own actions, and sometimes those of others. So, why would you want to work in PR?

We work in an industry that is constantly changing and that makes it exciting and unpredictable. It also means that we need to keep abreast of any new tactics that could benefit our clients. This puts us in a position where we are constantly learning.

For those that like to push themselves, PR is a perfect career path. It isn’t for the faint-hearted. Unless you have worked in the industry, it’s somewhat of an enigma. The assumption is you write copy and send it to a journalist, but the reality couldn’t be more different.

The traits of a PR professional

Becoming an exceptional PR professional takes time and experience. I don’t believe you can ever stop learning and so, as a practitioner and business owner, I make it my mission to read, listen and digest.

Working in PR for more than two decades has changed me. I have had to adapt my style, consider my approach and ‘give my head a shake’ on many an occasion. Although I was as eager as the next graduate when I started my career, I can now see I was naïve and inexperienced.

I now appreciate that taking a step back, however urgent a deadline, will almost always benefit the outcome. Attention to detail is essential and sloppiness unforgiveable. Having the ability to communicate with a person as they prefer is a skill. Listening is as important as sharing your thoughts.

When we look for PR professionals to join Open Comms we don’t have a carbon copy that we replicate. There is no one size here. We know that to provide our clients with the best results, we need a team that has a variety of personalities and experiences.

The common denominator for us is that people work hard and that they have shared values; to do a job and to do it well.

Where the PR industry is heading

The future is an interesting path. It’s not one that we can predict with any certainty. This year of all others has shown us that. We hear a lot that digital communications will continue to dominate our lives and that this will be how consumers access information.

The way that I see it, rather than predict how an industry will change, we focus too much on a single medium. When we look at the reality, PR is more about the message, it’s content and timings. The medium is the vehicle, the PR is whatever it is you need to deliver.

The future for PR, as I predict it, will continue to focus more on the story, whatever the medium.

Storytelling is becoming increasingly important as people want to learn about the personalities behind the brands they purchase from. Being better equipped to make informed choices is an expectation, not an exception.

With the more mindful shopper comes the need to share. The challenge arrives when businesses are expected to put pen to paper. Messages need to be concise,  copy compelling and sharing consistent. The tone needs to be reflective of the brand and the approach honest. Furthermore, at every step, the communication that is being shared needs to resonate with the audience.

It’s not always as simple as it seems.

Appreciating the complexities

PR isn’t a game. It isn’t ‘fannying around with press releases’ or drinking fizz at events. Nor is it freebies, new outfits, fast cars and lunches. And, it isn’t easy.

The landscape changes every day; mediums change, trends change, tactics that will work for clients change. Every. Single. Day.

Our specialism is one that fits within the wider marketing mix. It is a skill and requires professionals to deliver if they want to achieve results for clients. Anyone coming into the industry thinking it will be an easy ride is in for a rude awakening.

Working across sectors and with business to business, business to consumer and third sector organisations keeps us busy. At Open Comms we appreciate that every single brief, from every single client, is different.

This means we have to deliver our very best all of the time. We can’t take one model and apply it to the next company. It doesn’t work like that.

The benefits are that we get to create year-round plans and campaigns that have real impact. We work to objectives and then share the results. This means we can share in the success of each brand we work with.

That feeling is invaluable.

Consistent, compelling content will deliver results

There is so much more to PR than meets the eye. We cover so many different skills from event planning to activation, creative development to crisis management. No two days are ever the same.

The one consistent in our industry comes back to copy. If we want to deliver results for our clients’ we need to use copy to meet with objectives. Creating consistent, compelling content that can be shared across platforms needs to be our bread and butter. The thing that we deliver better than all others.

The message should build, the creative support and the overall outcome be excellent results.

Storytelling, finding angles and articulating the message in the right way, using the right medium, at the right time is PR.

It is exciting, quick-paced and fun.

Getting to the heart of a story and sharing it with passion and enthusiasm is a skill. Seeing copy in print, whether online or in print, is a real achievement. Watching campaigns gain momentum is exciting. Sharing this journey and the subsequent success it brings to business is what makes our industry so appealing and a great career option.

Trying it out for size

When I started my training in PR, we were told to find some experience.

We would be expected to give up ‘our time’ to gain experience from agencies. Not only did it give us the opportunity to put the theory to practice, we could see PR in action. This was a real turning point for me and made me realise this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

For others starting out, my advice would be to do the same. Be eager, aware, assertive, willing to approach businesses, to ask for experience and be willing to work. If you have what it takes, I can guarantee that PR will be a career that keeps on giving.

For anyone interested in learning more please do call a member of the team at Open Comms.

LEAVING LOCKDOWN A BETTER PR PROFESSIONAL

As we are continuing to adapt to new ways of living and working amid the Coronavirus crisis, dare I say that there finally appears to be a slight glimmer of light at the end of a turbulent and challenging tunnel.

Normal has and is continuing to change. Our lives will be impacted by this pandemic for many months to come. And, despite the overwhelming feeling that we are navigating through these unprecedented times together, I cannot help but think that our own experiences will be vastly different.

We are at the brink of a nationwide recession, unemployment rates are rising and most tragically, people are still losing their lives and loved ones to Covid-19. I’m sure I can speak for the majority of people when I say there have been some extremely dark days during this lockdown period.

Yet, despite being drenched in this daily wave of negativity, I must look within my own situation and be at least thankful that many key elements of my daily life have remained intact, especially when it comes to work.

Positivity in the workplace

Like many sectors across the UK, the PR industry hasn’t eluded the damaging impact of the Coronavirus. Here at Open Comms, however, we are fortunate enough that the entire team have managed to keep a sense of business as usual throughout this global crisis.

This transition has certainly not been without its challenges. Similar to many companies across the country, we have all been working remotely. Our processes have had to be modified but we have largely ensured that the services we deliver have remained uncompromised.

This is why I feel fortunate, but it’s not the only reason. When I look back at my own lockdown experience, I recognise that through necessity I have gained valuable new skills, adopted more efficient working practices and my PR skillset is continuously improving.

Learning to adapt

It was inevitable that as the marketplace was impacted by this widespread disruption. Many businesses would have to, rather quickly, change their strategies going forward and for the foreseeable future. This was no different with our clients, and we had to therefore taken both a proactive and a reactive approach.

This was most evident on our clients’ social media channels. To reflect the current climate, we had to completely revise the messaging and tone of a program of activity we had previously collated. In order to avoid any inactivity on these platforms, the new content had to be turned around quickly and then shared across multiple platforms immediately.

Another client reacted to the Covid-19 crisis by amending a critical support service, so it is available to those who need it most at this time. Prior to the launch of this new scheme we took a proactive approach by specifically targeting media titles that have already shown an appetite for sharing this content around the subject.

Upon contacting members of the media, we also repurposed the press release to highlight each specific region in order to secure as much coverage as possible. Following this update, the story was covered throughout the UK, including every region this service is available in.

True value of regular communications

It is at times of crisis that positive communications play such a vital role. At times, PR may not be seen as a ‘must have’ by many, but I believe it is now evident just how valuable it can be. The success of a company can often be attributed to its reputation, and nobody understands how better to grow this then communication experts.

Aside from the successes we have achieved on behalf of our clients in lockdown, one of the biggest triumphs I’ve seen is how the Open Comms team has regularly and robustly continued to communicate, not just with clients, but also with each other. Shifting to remote working can be an arduous adjustment and can put daily correspondence at risk.

Whether it’s transferring our usual team meetings to morning video conferences, scheduling in private calls to further discuss work projects or simply putting on the kettle and having that much needed catch-up, tasks such as these give me that sense of normality, we all long for.

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.

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.