Tag: public relations

What is PR?

We get asked this question all of the time and the answer is relatively simple; PR is the principle of managing the reputation of a brand or business through the implementation of an effective communications strategy, whether that be online, in print or broadcast.

The very nature of PR means that this top line explanation is woolly at best. It doesn’t really tell you much about what it is that we do – it’s just a sentence that you might find in a book. I’m not a huge fan of jargon or textbook speak so to give you a peek into the life of a PR agency here’s a round-up of what I have been getting up to this week.

An early start on Monday with an email from our international client asking for an update on activity completed. It’s not impossible to work with clients from abroad when you manage a PR agency (even when they are at the other side of the world), as ‘new’ technologies allow you to speak face-to-face making it simpler to communicate as and when required. Unfortunately you can’t change time zones and therefore you have to be awake pretty early to pick up these calls but a little planning solves any potential problems.

The week’s planned activity then starts with the launch of the Bondholder, the Diamond Scheme, an initiative supported by public and private sector organisations in Wakefield, which are hoping to generate a fund that will be used to implement a marketing and communications campaign that will promote the district to local, regional and national audiences.

As we are a trade as well as consumer PR agency, it was then on to some feature writing for a client working within the print sector. They have invested in machinery and therefore we are putting some press materials together that will be sent to trade journalists. Raising the clients profile in trade media means that they are able to shout about their successes and let customers and prospective employees know that they are still a major player within their market.

It’s then down to some social media planning. Like many agencies we manage the social media platforms for some of our clients and this means updating schedules, creating new and exciting ideas and being as creative as we can be with imagery. As imagery is a big driver of social engagement it’s no longer just about the words so we get our heads together and come up with some quirky recipe ideas that will support this particular client during a key seasonal activity we have planned.

Updating the social feeds on twitter and Facebook is a daily task for us and so we manage these accounts, check to make sure all responses have been sent and that the feeds are updated. If necessary we will like, share, retweet or favourite comments and take down any posts which are inappropriate and offensive – thankfully we don’t get too much of this.

We then have a visitor to the office, following the recommendation of another client at Open Communications we have a new business meeting. We are always very humbled (and of course chuffed to bits!) when our clients  recommend us to their contacts. We chat for a good hour and explain how PR works and how it could add value to this particular business. As one size does not fit all in PR some thought has to go in to the audience, media and messaging. We agree to put a proposal together, which will give the contact all of the detail that they need, before we arrange a follow up meeting.

Now, on to something completely different.

We have a full schedule of activity for Pom-Bear, the potato based snack brand, this year and as the consumer PR agency are working hard to make sure the business gets best value from the recommendations we have made in relation to events and sponsorships.

As the brand has just launched a new Zoo themed snack we are touring the country to sample more than 50,000 bags at Wildlife Centres and animal attractions including Dudley Zoo, Marwell Park and Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm.

Lots of planning has gone into each event and we have a programme of activities which run back-to-back. As the lead on this account it’s up to me to manage each event and ensure that everything is running as it should be. As an agency that takes huge pride it the clients that we work with, we prefer to be at the events that we plan. There is nothing worse than leaving things to chance and that simply isn’t the way that we work at Open Communications.

So, it’s off to Dudley. The weather has held off and our gazebo, banners, flags and signs are attracting the crowds in the hundreds. Pom-Bear is on great form and has the children dancing, singing and of course sampling his snacks.

As the events on Wednesday and Thursday are during the morning to early afternoon this means that I have chance to catch up on emails and draft some more copy for a series of clients before starting some research on a project we are looking in to.

Regular calls to the office mean that I don’t miss the team too much, although I’m sure they would prefer that I only call if there’s an emergency – I must work on that!

Media relations is the focus for now. We are managing a press event and launch in a couple of weeks so we need to know how many journalists to expect. I will be calling each to find out if they are available and updating the team accordingly. This is a business based story so means that regional, national, print and broadcast journalists are all invited – it’s a big list!

It will then be a follow up on the recent launch of a new product, which should have consumer journalists munching on some tasty samples from Penn State, the classic American snack brand. I will follow up and find out what they think before updating the team and sending further samples to those that have ‘got lost in the post’.

It will then be on to the next Pom-Bear event, which takes place from 6pm – 10.30pm. It’s more Pom-Bear fun, with competitions, dancing, games and more tasty samples.  Unlike some jobs it’s unlikely when you work in PR that you will have a 9am – 5pm role and I’m no different.

On Saturday it’s off to Gillwell Park for a Beaver Scouts Fun Day. It should be a great event and with more than 6,000 eager young members of the Scouting Association in attendance I’m expecting it’s going to be a busy one.  As sponsor of the Adventure Activity Badge for the Scouts, Pom-Bear will make an appearance and will also host a special trail with prizes to be won.

It’s a varied life when you work in PR and that’s why I enjoy my job so much. Whether we are managing the launch of a business, drafting copy for emailers and website, managing the trade and consumer PR activity for leading brands or engaging with journalists and bloggers no two days are ever the same.

I’m very fortunate to have a supportive (and calming) business partner at Open Comms and for those of you who know Emma you will understand what I mean. Someone once said to me that PR was like spinning plates and at the time I didn’t know what they mean. More than 10 years later I couldn’t agree more but when there are two of you working together it makes life so much easier.

Obviously at Open Communications we also have the wider (and growing) team to call upon and this again means that we have the capacity to manage the PR for leading household brands and smaller local businesses – variety is after all the spice of life.

PR is certainly not for the light-hearted but for those of you who didn’t know what it involves I hope you now have some idea of what it is that we do. Now, I’m off to get some work done – there’s no rest for the wicked you know!

Don’t dismiss the opportunities on your doorstep

As you would expect of a PR agency, we are often asked to recommend media channels for brands and businesses when developing campaigns, events and stunts.

Although many agencies would quickly recommend national media with larger audiences (and not surprisingly commanding bigger budgets) we always think about the objectives of that particular activity and how the message will be communicated by our chosen medium.

It is always surprising when businesses and agencies dismiss regional media whether for advertising or editorial opportunities. We term these titles heartland, as they are usually located at the heart of a community where a brand or business is based.

Although many companies believe that the CEO or Managing Director of a business will only read leading trade and national titles it’s fair to say that in our experience that isn’t true. Many leading senior executives will read regional media to find out what is going on in their local area.

What is most frustrating about this situation is when people are dismissive of regional titles to then get excited when they feature in them – it’s one way or another!

We have long been an advocate of regional media and the opportunities that print and broadcast media offer; promotions, competitions, editorial, features, advertorials and of course standard advertising.

Next time you are considering a campaign think about the businesses that are based in your local area. Are they large or small? Would you send the MD of a multi-million pound business packing because he was local? Unlikely, so perhaps the same thought process should go to working and engaging with regional titles and channels.

The beauty of PR is that you don’t have to be restrictive so if your preferred agency dismisses regional media ask them why. If they say people don’t read the papers, listen to the radio stations or watch the local news take this simple test – ask people you meet in everyday life what the last paper, radio station or TV news programme they engaged with was. I bet there is at least 6 out of 10 who will mention a regional title, station or programme then you have your answer.

The truth is that people do read, listen to and watch regional media and as a result this makes them a valid medium for engagement with prospects and customers. 

What impression do you make?

 

We work with lots of local businesses across a range of sectors – not just those who are looking for PR but also suppliers who can provide us with products and services as and when we need them. Where possible we try to work locally as it makes sense to us – why go anywhere else when what you really need is on your doorstep.

And this is how we came across a very good friend and business colleague, Keith Williams. Many of the people reading this blog will already know who Keith is. As a very well networked individual and character, Keith is not shy and imparts his knowledge whenever we meet.

I was therefore intrigued when I received an email from Keith providing the following insights:

“As animals we are programmed to use all our four senses to gain a first impression. This is known to take around 10 seconds. On the telephone you rely on just one sense, hearing, to form an impression so if you take the 10 seconds and divide it by the 4 senses this gives the caller 2.5 seconds to form a favourable impression.

Once the impression has been made, research tells us, it will take a further 7 meetings or conversations before that impression is altered. If you need to form a relationship with a stranger, by telephone, you have 2.5 seconds to establish the basis for a favourable relationship.  If you fail; that contact has been lost to you.”

Now I don’t know about anyone else but I can think of a number of conversations where I have known this to be the case – not just with people I have called but those who have called me. The conversations where I close down usually involve the words ‘synergy’ and ‘can you give me the contact for’.  

So why would I be passing this information on? Well, Keith has a business called the Yes Project and he works with companies of all sizes to build relationships and put processes in place which deliver results. I guess for all intents and purpose this blog is a bit of a plug but with some good theory to back it up.

Keith is currently working with people who want to make a better first impression on the telephone. So, the question is do you believe that your telephone effectiveness is worth more than £35 to you?

 Yes?  Then email Keith at keith@keith-williams.co.uk and arrange to be part of the 60 minute workshop on securing favourable first impressions by telephone.

And if you don’t think it’s worth bothering with, just spend one day considering how many people could have secured your business, or worse how many prospects you could be working with if you took the time to consider what impression you were making EVERY time you used the phone.

Want a new challenge or know someone who does?

It’s exciting times here at Open Comms – we are on the look-out for some fresh new talent to join our expanding team.

As an agency that manages the communications and PR for a range of household names, as well as local companies and thriving new businesses, this opportunity will be an exciting challenge for someone who wants to become a part of a hardworking but friendly agency.

At Open Comms we don’t do ‘air kissing’ and we are not your typical agency so if that’s what you’re looking for you have probably come to the wrong place. If you do however have what it takes to be creative, while being able to put ideas into practice and to turn campaigns into results then we want to hear from you.

PR administrator

We need some help with the day to day running and management of the office but this role will go beyond ‘receptionist’. We expect that people who join our team will want to progress and become the best at what they do – this role will give someone the chance to learn the ropes and get stuck in, working in a very busy press office.

PR Account Executive

You don’t have to have a background in PR but some written experience would be a bonus.  This role is suited to someone who would like to take their first step into PR or for a recent / upcoming graduate. You need to have a genuine passion for PR and want to get your hands dirty – there’s no room for shrinking violets here! If you think you are more than just your average candidate then let us know.

Please send your CV – or better still something more exciting – to Lindsey or Emma at lindsey.davies@opencomms.co.uk or emma.lupton@opencomms.co.uk with an explanation of why you feel you are right for the position and what specifically you can bring to our team.

We look forward to hearing from you.