Tag: social media

MEASURING THE IMPACT AND VALUE OF PR

PR is driven by helping brands and businesses create a positive perception among the public. Although there is no definitive metric to measure the success of a pr campaign, the overarching aim is to not only reach the largest audience possible but convert this interest into new business opportunities.

As a PR professional, I’m well aware of the long-term results and transformative impact that PR can have on businesses large and small. But as we are living in an increasingly data-driven world, there is a growing demand to see the immediate impact of PR and how this can be evaluated as a positive return on investment.

Therefore, the ability to demonstrate the value and effectiveness of PR has never been so important.

With a plethora of data analytical tools to use at our disposal, the way PR professionals evaluate the results of their work has gone through an evolution in recent years. But due to the multi-faceted nature of public relations campaigns, this is far from a black and white process.

As one PR brief and completely differ from the next, it is important that any metric or data pertaining to the impact of a campaign is given concise context and aligned with the business’ wider goals. This is where the true value of PR can be measured against a return on investment.

Here at Open Comms, we work with a wide-ranging client base that operate in very different industries. As such, we ensure that our results are given context, backed up by evidence and correspond with our clients’ wider objectives.

From my own insight and experience, I will share two critical methods that can reflect the success of a PR campaign.

Media coverage:

Whether it’s national, regional or trade press, obtaining media coverage is arguably the most effective way to garner the most attention of a business or brand. As news can now be accessed instantly by any person holding a smart phone, computer or any similar device, securing media coverage can potentially reach audiences across the globe.

Once a business has hit the headlines, it provides them with the credibility and legitimacy to build a positive reputation. This can then be leveraged as a platform to engage with the public and ultimately help businesses promote themselves within the marketplace.

UNDERSTANDING THE VALUE OF DIGITAL MEDIA

The true impact of securing media coverage, however, can only be realised if it is consistent. Once a business is regularly featured in newspapers, online publications, or even broadcast and radio, it will be viewed as a trusted and reliable source.

Once this has been established, media coverage must be utilised as an effective marketing tool to impact on consumer behaviour and attract new business opportunities.

So, put simply: the more media coverage secured, the bigger the audience is reached.

Social media:

There is no denying that the role of social media within the marketplace is critical. The influence of platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, has completely transformed how businesses are marketed.

With social media holding so much significance to the overall success of a business, a social media strategy now forms a critical part of any PR campaign.

Each channel provides existing and new customers the opportunity to directly engage with brands and businesses anywhere at any time. That being said, it also gives businesses direct access to communicate with their customer base as well.

THE POWER OF PERSONALISING SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS 

Transforming these exchanges turn into positive experiences, however, is solely reliant on the content being shared. Whether it’s promoting a new product, service, announcing a company update or commenting on a topical trend, the content must capture and maintain the user’s attention.

Aside from monitoring an increase in followers and engagement, much more data can be extracted and analysed to showcase the value of social media. As part of the PR campaign, we can determine the peak time of visitors to the platforms, where they are located and what pieces of content are garnering the most attention.

Compiling this information is critical to forming a complete picture of how social media channels can be best used to support the wider ambitious of a business or brand. Once these platforms are being used in a purposeful and strategic way, tangible results will be generated and clearly show the value to the return on investment.

PRIORITISING PR DURING 2021

Prioritising PR during 2021

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

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

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

Setting objectives

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

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

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

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

Choosing the right tactics

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

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

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

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

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

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

Securing headlines

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

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

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

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

Reaching audiences online

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

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

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

Prioritising PR for 2021

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

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

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

HOW IGNORING PR CAN BE DAMAGING TO YOUR BUSINESS

PR can have a transformational impact on businesses of any size, yet there remains an outdated and unfounded stigma around the value and results that it can deliver.

It goes without saying that communication is critical in the current marketplace. The success of any organisation largely depends on how it engages with its target audience, whether its towards the customer, client, employee or stakeholder.

This is exactly what PR professionals do!

As an agency, we form trusted partnerships with our clients to deliver strategic communications that meet with business objectives. This could be sharing key messages with the masses or more specific and targeted campaigns.

The one consistent factor is that our results speak for themselves.

In a nutshell, we increase brand awareness, help launch new services and products to market, enhance company or individual reputations to help them to become more commercially viable. When combined, the delivery of our services ultimately helps clients to achieve business goals.

Without a robust PR and marketing strategy, businesses are at risk of putting themselves at a disadvantage within the marketplace and losing all visibility with current and prospective customers.

In order to elaborate further, I’ve chosen just three outputs from PR that businesses will find hard to achieve unless they invest in professional services.

Media coverage

Sitting at the heart of PR is securing media coverage. Communications professionals form and develop lasting relationships with a vast number of contacts and journalists. Despite how specific or niche a market may be, members of press, publications and influencers can be targeted to help generate positive publicity for a particular business.

As there is an abundance of ways to digest news, both in print and digital, PR professionals will use their experience and expertise to approach the media with a story that is newsworthy and relevant. The idea being that it is then featured in regional, national or trade publications.

Once media coverage has been secured, it can then be leveraged to increase brand awareness, create a positive public perception and act as a useful platform to promote the launch of new products and services.

Without any investment in PR, businesses are likely to lose this opportunity and as a result fail to be recognised as a legitimate competitor within a specific marketplace.

Social media activity

Social media channels have now established themselves as the digital high street for many businesses. Now more than ever, a greater amount of attention needs to be given to these platforms as they are arguably the first place that target audiences will visit.

In other words, social media channels must give off a good first impression!

Whether it is Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn, businesses need to use each channel to serve a purpose, whether this is showcasing new services or products, promoting brand identity or sharing critical company announcements. They need to act as a reliable and relevant communication resource.

This can be achieved by building the credibility of all platforms, which need to garner a strong following from relevant and influential businesspeople, members of the media, industry counterparts or new and existing clients.

As followers increase, so will the levels of engagement with different posts. This is especially useful when sharing media coverage as it can help significantly increase the amount of people who read about the positive news a company has to share. Thus, increasing brand awareness.

By investing in PR, businesses can ensure that each channel is managed by a team of specialists who understand what type of content should be posted and when. This will enable social media platforms to be used as useful tools to help businesses build towards achieving wider growth ambitions.

Crisis management

Although crisis scenarios are thankfully rare for most, businesses must ensure they have the capability to deal with a problem if one were to ever arise. Whether this be a corporate, public, or internal issue or incident, how this is handled can be make or break for businesses.

Reputation is everything within the marketplace, and once this is destroyed, recovery can be almost impossible!

The most effective way to combat these types of situations is having an experienced crisis management team in place. This forms a big part of the PR toolkit. Communications professionals can explore and identify potential situations that could cause irreversible harm to a brand or business. This is combatted by the implementation of proactive PR strategy.

Despite how prepared the team may be, crisis’ can also occur with no warning at all. This is exactly why it is critical to have a capable team ready to tackle and resolve these issues with minimal collateral damage.

Navigating through these sensitive situations without profession PR support could spell disaster for a business. Damage to brand reputation will have a devastating impact that can never be fixed. The question perhaps therefore is not can you afford PR, but can your business survive and thrive without it?

Investing in public relations is critical to the success of any organisation, now is the time to take action and let PR do the talking.

If you would like to know more about Open Comms and the services we offer, why not give us a call on 01924 862477 or contact us here.

SOCIAL MEDIA: SHARE WITH CARE

For many of us, social media is as engrained within our lives as that all-important morning cup of tea. As such, it can be easy to overlook the importance of sharing with care. However, in today’s world, attitudes and approaches are changing at an ever-increasing pace. None of us knows what the future holds, which is why a responsible approach to what we detail online is vital.

This attitude shouldn’t just apply to brand channels, but personal ones too. Contrary to popular belief, the two personas are not entirely exclusive. What is shared via an individual’s own accounts can reflect negatively upon a business, and vice versa.

So, before diving head-first into sensitive territory, here are a few considerations which might just help you to avoid a social media crisis in the making:

Think ahead

Maybe it was a flippant reference to politics or a barely considered comment about environmental issues, the news cycle of late has shown that past opinions can quite quickly have significant repercussions.

While we must all still be able to share our feelings, carefully contemplating how and where this takes place can never be taken too seriously.

Trust us – your future self will thank you for it!

Consider context

Interpretation is always impacted by context. And naturally, over time, this will change. With social media and other online channels potentially hosting content for an indefinite period, it is important to think about how this could influence the way that a message is perceived.

After all, our thoughts and circumstances at age 20 are highly unlikely to reflect those at age 40. But the chances are that somewhere, those posts are saved and accessible to someone.

Behaving responsibly now, could save some incredibly uncomfortable consequences many years down the line.

Aim for accuracy

Fake news is common knowledge, but that doesn’t always mean it’s easy to spot.

Everyone, news outlets included, has an agenda. Remaining vigilant to this is essential if individuals and brands are to maintain a respectable presence online.

If you are sharing or commenting on an article or situation, make sure that you gain insight from more than one reputable source. This way, you are more likely to project an informed picture of a circumstance or event rather than a rash response you may live to regret.

‘If in doubt, leave it out’

A favourite saying of ours and one that has, to this day, never failed us.

Instinct is often surprisingly accurate. If it feels uncomfortable or risky, it is usually a sign that something is best avoided.

If the urge is still there, at the very least, ensure that you gain some reputable advice. The option to delete a comment, no matter how much you regret it, does not take away the fact that it was made in the first place.

What’s more, these days, technology allows for comments to by captured and stored by other users. This means that remarks can still be shared, long after they appear to have been removed.

Accept responsibility

If all else fails, know when to say sorry. If there’s one thing people hate more than someone who’s made a mistake, it’s a person who refuses to accept accountability for their actions.

But, if you’ve reached this stage, learn from past mistakes and seek reputable advice first. The very last thing that you need is a badly worded apology which doesn’t address the issue correctly. This can quite easily take the situation from bad to worse.

At Open Comms we maintain and monitor client social channels day in day out. So we like to think that we know a thing or two about presenting a positive picture for brands and businesses.

Whether it’s a company Twitter page, LinkedIn profile or Instagram feed, we can take the stress out of social media.

To speak to us about your business’ social channels, contact a member of the team on 01924 862477. Alternatively, email info@opencomms.co.uk.

PLANNING FOR CRISIS

The dreaded word ‘crisis’ crops up more than you might think in PR. After just one year working in the industry, I’ve watched a few crises unfold. In fact, most businesses will experience one at some point, and I’ve learnt that being prepared is key.

While challenges often strike when least expected, the Open Comms team are confident in handling any problems our clients face. With a solid plan in place, and knowledge of the relevant industries we work in, we are prepared and ready to support businesses of all sizes.

Crisis can certainly give us a buzz and spice up our day! Not that we want them every day, but successfully managing a crisis can be very satisfying, although we would rather avoid them.

Keep Calm and Consider Your Actions

On discovering an impending crisis, my first point of action would be to keep calm and look at the crisis from a different perspective. Overreacting may make a potential issue worse. It’s worth considering a few options and understand the right time to intervene.

For example, an unflattering tweet could be damaging to a brands reputation, but if we were to block the account or hide the comment it is likely it will provoke the consumer into further shaming the brand.

Hiding comments after a crisis has calmed down is another option. It is sometimes best to see how the situation develops before acting. There is also a chance it might settle down on its own before things turn nasty.

Be Aware

Being aware of whats happening in the world is so important when it comes to anticipating what has the potential to damage a brands reputation. While we cannot predict the future, topical issues such as climate change, conversations around single use plastics and Covid 19 are just a few examples of things we keep our eyes on day to day.

It is important to be aware of the issues and understand how they could be connected to brands or accounts we are working with. This helps us recognise when a crisis might strike before it happens and allows us to steer clients away from throwing themselves into the fire.

Know When to Act Fast

Acting fast is important. Particularly when monitoring social media accounts. A simple complaint can escalate if not handled promptly. Its important to regularly monitor brands social media accounts, watching out for any complaints that might come through and managing them quickly and efficiently.

Misreading a tone of voice or simply not responding to a query can quickly turn into a crisis. We have to remember that brands are always visible online and that is further reason to be ready to respond.

Move On

Its worth knowing that PR crisis happen every day to many brands and businesses. With so much happening on social media, and consumers continually inundated with new content, it is unlikely that a well-handled crisis will have a long-term effect on business.

As bad as a crisis may seem at the time, many brands have overcome huge problems day to day. Being aware of what caused the issue in the first place and learning from mistakes is the most valuable thing to take away.

Having an experienced team on hand is, without a doubt, the best way to handle a PR crisis before it happens.

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.

 

LEVERAGING BRAND PERSONALITY ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Social Media

Brands and businesses often misjudge social media and the way it should be utilised. In the midst of polishing and refining a picture perfect online presence, brands can sometimes lose sight of what makes them different.

Every brand has its own story waiting to be shared online.

Social media simply acts as the medium which assists with a brands storytelling process and through this helps express its unique personality. This is not as simple as plastering a logo or copying and pasting the same 30 character long bio across all social channels.

Consumers nowadays crave authentic interaction and exciting content. Which is why injecting personality into every aspect of a brands social media presence is so important.

It’s what makes you and your content stand out.

Establishing a brand personality online can seem daunting at first, especially if social media is an entirely new territory for your business, so here’s a few tips to help get you started-

Focus on the brand, not the product –

Websites are for selling products. Social media is where you tell people about who you are, what you do and how you came about. Consumers want to know more about the brands they buy from and social media is the easiest way to share this information.

Bespoke interactions –

Avoid sounding scripted or generic and take a more personalised approach when engaging with people. This is a simple, yet effective way to take ownership of how your brand is perceived online.

Explore trending topics –

Social media is constantly evolving and trends change at the speed of light. Some of which you may not even know about. This is where google alerts come in very handy. Set up google alerts of key words that are relevant to your brand, so that you never miss an opportunity to reap the benefits of a trending topic!

Develop a social media handbook –

A social media handbook plays a vital role in sustaining a brands online presence, but unfortunately is often overlooked. Essentially, a social media handbook should outline your brands personality traits. It might also include a list of words or phrases that your brand should use or maybe topics that your brand should ‘watch out’ for. Either way, this handbook should act as a bible for you or your team to follow and will help to create relevant content for social media that is consistent with your brand and its personality.

Gone are the days when a product was enough to attract consumers. Now, brand personality is the driving force behind capturing the attention of audiences. For more tips on how to tell your brands story, read Lindsey’s blog here.

If you are wanting to explore social media or PR further, please do give us a call or email.

 

AVOIDING LONG-TERM DAMAGE DURING A CRISIS

Avoiding long-term damage during a crisis

It’s fair to say that for most of us the novelty of working from home has worn off. There are serious decisions to be made that will impact on the lives of those around us. Uncertainty is causing anxiety and sleepless nights are becoming the norm. That is why we all need to focus on avoiding long-term damage during a crisis.

Business owners could be forgiven for finding these times the most stressful of their careers. Although most companies are facing the same challenges, the difference is how they are handled.

Stop, think, act

The best organisations are those that call upon the varied skills and quirks of colleagues. This means there are a range of personalities within a business to contend with. While during normal times this doesn’t cause too much of a problem, when times are tough these differences will be magnified.

Encouraging everyone within the team to stop, think and then act is just one approach that can dilute potential fallout. The last thing any company needs is for someone to make a rash decision that will have long-term implications.

Calling upon those with the most relevant expertise to lead is likely to deliver a more positive outcome. Carrying on with business as usual simply won’t work.

Communicating clearly

It is important that any company recognises the value in communicating clearly with its audiences. Not only does this gives customers, suppliers and staff the confidence they need, but it also reflects positively on the brand.

Taking the time to think carefully about what is being said and to whom is a good starting point. It is then about delivering these messages consistently and across the relevant channels.

As these are unprecedented times, audiences don’t expect that companies have all the answers. They do however want honesty and transparency. Authenticity is a word that is overused in PR but brands that can communicate in this way will almost certainly be most resilient.

Finding the silver lining

As contracts are cancelled, budgets are cut and staff are furloughed there seems to be no silver lining to this dark cloud.

During a crisis it is often best to say as little as possible and to stick to the facts, however there has never been a situation like this. Most businesses are facing the same challenges at the same time.

Rather than focusing entirely on the negative, use this as an opportunity. Share the values of a business and show what organisations are doing to support others. CSR (corporate social responsibility) is very much front of mind at present, so ensuring that this is communicated is essential.

It may be that employees are standing outside each Thursday and clapping at 8pm. A company could have turned its signage blue in support of the NHS, carers and frontline workers. People may be putting together care packages or supporting neighbours. Whatever a business is doing, it may be of benefit to let others know.

Using social media for the right reasons

In recent years, social media has commonly featured in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. It may be trolling, shaming or shared content that was intended to be private. Whatever the situation, social media channels have had their fair share of negative publicity.

That was, until now.

It’s been really enlightening to see social media channels including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn used for the right reasons. With light-hearted videos shared by companies and posts offering support, it has been a welcome relief.

Companies can use these examples as best practice and look at ways that they could do the same. As long as these posts are done for the right reasons, they will add personality to a brand and engage with audiences when it matters most.

Calling upon a network

When organisations are faced with a crisis it is often exclusive. This means that they are left to handle the approach, process and consequences alone.

In this instance, everyone is in the same boat. This therefore gives businesses the chance to call upon their networks for help and support. There is no shame in asking for advice and the same can be said for offering it.

Having a company can be isolating and lonely. At times like this it is essential that we all come together and do our best for the benefit of the wider business community. We can then do our best to avoid long-term damage during a crisis.

A focus on the future

While times are tough, we all need to remain focused on the future. There is light at the end of the tunnel, we just need to get there. It is going to take resilience, solidarity, effort, positivity and mindfulness.

These are all strengths we need to call upon and we will.

In the meantime, we need to communicate consistently, remember our values and try our hardest. Before long, we will get to a point where we can celebrate all that we have achieved when faced with unprecedented adversity.

Summary

Finding ways to be more progressive and to put in place an approach that works best for a business can be a challenge. We would urge any company of any size to consider the following:

  • Stop, think and act
  • Communicate clearly
  • Try to find a silver lining
  • Use social media for the right reasons
  • Call upon your network
  • Focus on the future

We hope that this will provide a starting point and a check list for organisations to work from. No company wants this, however having plans in place can support the present while also pathing the way for a brighter future. Hopefully then we can all work towards avoiding long-term damage during a crisis. For access to information and support about your PR, marketing content and social media please call a member of the team.

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.