PR, perfecting the balancing act

PR really is a delicate operation; picture a tightrope walker balancing precariously above the sawdust and you’ll have a better understanding. Striking the right balance between keeping your clients happy and giving your press contacts what they need isn’t the easiest of jobs. But honestly, it’s all in the approach. That’s why it’s critical for a PR company to: continuously work on its relationships, becoming both an extension of its client’s marketing team as well as building a reputation with journalists as a reliable source of information; pitch a story in the right way to the press, based on what each particular publication’s audience wants to read; provide consistently good, strong content; not be driven purely to make up monthly target numbers – this way, the media knows that they’ll never receive a piece of puffery, written just for the sake of it; and be honest and remain steadfast when it comes to training up spokespeople or disagreeing over a weak story angle. Part-journalist, part-brand advocate, THIS is a PR force to be reckoned...

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I am a writer. Who am I?

It’s tricky. Explaining to people what I do. When I answer “writer” their eyes often glaze over and an “oh wow” escapes their mouths, and I can almost see their romantic visions of me sitting in billowing wind composing the next great novel. This delusion becomes ever more apparent in doctors’ rooms when you are handed a form and just about have an anxiety attack when faced with one all too short line to fill in your occupation: Writer… Yes, I add the ellipsis, as the word just seems too short to capture the reality of what it is that writers for PR agencies actually do.   Here’s the reality. We spend a lot, and I mean A LOT of time fine tuning messages. There is no wind billowing as we sit day after day hunched over our beloved laptops ignoring articles stating that sitting will shorten our lifespan and that eight hours of sleep are ideal, which we always tend to come across during our research.   There are always deadlines. It is the nature of the job. But I believe we owe it to our clients and their products, as much as to ourselves, to take precious care of every piece. Successful writers therefore have the skill to look at every press release, column, corporate brochure and more, from a strategic, content and language point of view. An effective writer knows what will add value, what will entice and what will offend.   Everything we write is deliberate. It has been added to, edited, rewritten and polished. It is well-researched and viewed from our target audience point of view. There is no ego involved, as it is not about us. We are chameleon writers who become the voice and the tone of a vast array of products and clients. One day you might write about surge protectors, the next day about make-up. We might work for “us” as an agency, but we do in fact stand wordlessly behind our clients, listening and planning, all the time thinking until the words that are spot-on tumble out of us.   We therefore sit in the wings much of the time, and could perhaps even be seen as ghost writers, sometimes friendly, sometimes grumpy, as we passionately put together the perfect and most powerful nucleus of the piece.   Our role is to do this. To add great value to the content through research and words that tickle interest without distracting a diverse set of audiences through various channels, from publications to social media.   Yes! We are writers. We love grammar and laugh hysterically when memes on the subject of language, puns or the like cross our desk. But,...

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Everyone loves a stickler for good grammar (or not)

Let’s face it, we all know one…one of those people who loves to point out grammatical errors in newspapers, on billboards, and on your social media posts <waves hand>. Jokes aside though, have you ever considered the impact that poor grammar might have on your reputation, both as a company and as an individual? Regardless of where you’re from or what language you might speak, the very basis of communication is grammar. Unfortunately though, the “txtspk” epidemic in particular, as well as the fact that many people are more likely to be found watching TV rather than reading a book, is causing the gradual erosion of the well-spoken word. Why then should people be reminded of the importance of upholding strict grammatical standards? It’s simple, the better your grammar, the clearer and less open to misinterpretation your message. For an individual, this could make or break that job application. Within the business world, where fast, effective communication can give you the edge over competitors, it is critical. Good grammar makes good business sense at the end of the day. Will grammar rules always remain as they are today? It’s hard to guess; with the pace at which the digital world is changing the way in which we communicate, it’s not far-fetched to say that this will happen at some stage. Until then though, it’s safer to learn the correct use of apostrophes, and the rules around the Oxford...

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PR beyond the stunt

Of course, it’s fantastic – fantastical even – watching Australian motorbike stunt rider, Robbie Maddison successfully jump 29 metres up onto the Arc de Triomphe in front of Paris Las Vegas before descending a 24 metre drop off the monument to return safely to ground level. Red Bull paid the Aussie $2m to do this stunt. After he finished, he said that he wouldn’t do it again for $10m. For those of you who have never held their breath for the full one minute and 31 seconds, here it is again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLejkyXbJlc You could, in fact, be forgiven for forgetting that Red Bull sells more than five billion cans of soft drink a year. For every logo you see on a can of energy drink, there must be another five plastered on screaming Formula One cars, upside-down motorcycles, stunt planes and skateboards. Red Bull has almost single-handedly created the energy drink market we know today, piggybacking on the rise of extreme sports to get its brand out there … and delivering some truly memorable marketing stunts along the way. Obviously, PR can work wonders for those who seek publicity for publicity’s sake. But actually, that is the easy part of public relations. The real value of PR is using it to solve a “real-life” marketing situation for a real brand, product, service or organisation. PR can work for any and every industry. Basically, any organisation or individual with a message to deliver, or a goal to achieve, can benefit. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a creative of unusual product to gain publicity, you just need a creative idea that: is newsworthy; and meets the marketing message. Creative PR, with proper execution, can work wonders. Every product or service, no matter how seemingly mundane, contains a PR “hook” or angle if you think creatively. Top tip: make a graph of your sales per week. If it is smooth and your sales are consistent then your marketing is probably steady and continual. But, if the sales curve has peaks and troughs, you may need to increase the frequency of marketing communication to smooth out the bumps. PR is a good resource to have in your arsenal, as it can help you to get your message out on a continual basis, and eliminate those slumps....

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10 surprising social media statistics that will make you rethink your social strategy

1. Not just for teenagers: The fastest growing demographic on Twitter is the 55 – 64 year age bracket. This demographic has grown 79% since 2012. The 45-54 year age bracket is the fastest growing demographic on both Facebook and Google+. For Facebook, this group has jumped 46%. For Google+, 56%. Rethink it: Keep older users in mind when using social media, particularly on these three platforms. Our age makes a difference to our taste and interests, so if you’re focusing on younger users with the content you post, you could be missing an important demographic.   2. 189 million of Facebook users are “mobile only”  Mobile use generates 30% of Facebook’s ad revenue as well. This is a 7% increase from the end of 2012.  Rethink it: It’s worth considering how your content displays on mobile devices and smaller screens before posting it, particularly if your target market could include many mobile users.   3. YouTube reaches more US adults aged 18 – 34 than any cable network Rethink it: If you’ve been putting off adding video to your strategy, now’s the time to give it a go. You could start small with simple five-minute videos explaining what your company does or introducing your team.     4. Every second, two new members join LinkedIn Rethink it: LinkedIn is definitely worth your company’s attention. Making your group or community a great source of information will help you to make the most of the growing userbase.     5. Yet, LinkedIn has a lower % of active users than Pinterest, Google+, Twitter and Facebook Rethink it: This means you’re probably not going to have as good a response with participatory content on LinkedIn, like contests or polls, as you might on Facebook or Twitter. So, work smarter and tailor content for your selected channels.   6. Social media has overtaken porn as the #1 activity on the web Rethink it: Social media carries more weight than ever. It’s clearly not a fad, or a phase. It continues to grow as a habit, and new platforms continue to appear and develop. Putting time and effort into your social media strategy clearly makes sense in light of these stats.   7. 93% of marketers use social media for business Rethink it: If you’re struggling to make your strategy work, or you just want some advice, you don’t have to go it alone. If 93% of marketers are using social media for business, you too can find someone to give you a hand.     8. 25% of smartphone owners aged 18 – 44 say they can’t recall the last time their smartphone wasn’t next to them Rethink it: If 25% of people aged 18–44 can’t remember not having their...

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PR? Who needs it?

Unless you have all the business you will ever want, and are rich beyond your wildest dreams, you need PR (even if you do have all the business you will ever want, and are rich beyond your wildest dreams, you may still need PR to help you manage a crisis, such as a faulty product or staff strike, but that is another topic). Good PR can turn marginal businesses in profitable ones and ordinary people into millionaires. Professionals (such as lawyers and doctors) can promote their practices with public relations. Every product category, from industrial to high tech, has benefited enormously from the power of PR. Even if a business has a massive advertising budget, it doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t use PR as part of its marketing mix.  Many businesses find that that a comparatively modest investment in PR greatly extends the reach of their total promotional programme. It is this (relatively low) cost that makes PR so appealing to both small businesses and large organisations. Small businesses with limited budgets simply cannot compete with the bulging ad budgets of their larger competitors. PR helps to level the playing field – getting the same promotional “bang” for fewer bucks. On the other hand, anyone who works for a large organisation will know that getting more money into your (ever declining) marketing budget is an uphill battle.  You are constantly expected to do more with less. By adding PR into the mix, you can achieve the objectives laid out by management, even if they don’t give you the money that you think you need to do it. In short, the main reasons for using PR are: To grow your business To make more money  To increase sales Who wouldn’t want...

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