Building relationships that stand the test of time, in PR and beyond

Posted by on September 20, 2017 in General | 0 comments

We all know that quite often in today’s world it’s not necessarily what you know, but rather who you know that helps you to forge ahead. As people it’s a fact that we cannot function alone; we need other people all the time. Truth is, there is no real independence for humans. And as PR practitioners, relationships are all the more critical to us, as they are at the very core of what we do, how we do it and how successful it becomes. Great networks with media, colleagues, clients and suppliers don’t just fall from trees and you can’t buy them or find them on LinkedIn. So, to build the best network, especially in this industry (or well anywhere, really), developing meaningful relationships is an absolute must. And here are five obvious – but often-ignored – habits that should be cultivated to help reach this objective : 1. Be giving Ever heard of saying, “give a little more than you can take”? Well, the finest relationships are built on a mutual desire to give value to the other person. When both parties focus more on giving than receiving, it nurtures a genuine bond, one that goes deeper than the value of the exchange. That bond is based on mutual trust that each of you wants what is best for the other. And generosity takes many forms – .it can be as easy as making an introduction, lending an ear, or giving the gift of your expertise. 2. Shhh… and listen Everyone wants to be heard and understood, which is why listening is the foundation of any meaningful relationship. Authentic listening (not just listening to respond!) signals that you’re genuinely interested in the other person and what he or she has to say. Part of being a good listener is developing self-awareness and noticing if you’re truly engaged in the conversation. Important: one of the easiest and fastest ways to be a better listener is to stop interrupting! 3. Be accountable and considerate of others Always acknowledge when you have made a mistake, apologise for it, and learn from it. This is how we grow as humans, especially in relationships. It doesn’t only mend things, but it also makes you more conscious of your behaviour around others as you actively trying not to repeat the same mistakes. 4. Acknowledge accomplishments Part of developing strong friendships is recognising the accomplishments of your friends and peers. Become their biggest fan, especially when they announce big news. Even something as simple as a quick “congratulations” on social media can show others that their accomplishments don’t go unnoticed. Of course, a phone call or in-person is an even better option. 5. Quality over quantity Successful people focus on developing a few key relationships, rather than spreading their time across as many people as possible. Quickly adding more connections might make you feel more productive – and possibly very popular – but the best networks are created through depth, not breadth. Significant, purposeful relationships are built with intention, sincerity, honesty, and generosity over a long time. There are no shortcuts. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to build a network that not only fuels your PR professional success but also adds happiness to your life in...

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Marketing in a post digital landscape

Posted by on May 23, 2017 in General | 0 comments

Marketing today is a very different beast to even five years ago, and the question of what lies in the future for the local marketing space is one that is being constantly mulled over. There’s no doubt though, whether you’re a consumer facing brand or a B2B organisation, small business or enterprise-level firm, you have to incorporate a digital element into your campaigns to stay current and make sure you remain relevant. It’s all about reaching your audience in the way that they want to be reached. Consider Generation Z. As the newest generation enters the workplace, companies have to change strategy from focusing on Millennials, to cater for a new, digitally savvy generation that essentially grew up on social media and is more interested in less traditional forms of communication. Born from 1996 onwards, Generation Zers can be categorised as preferring to consume information in bite-sized chunks, being willing to switch brands for better experiences or opportunities, and having a shorter attention span (six to eight seconds, according to this article). The same source states that the average Generation Z consumer has been exposed to more than 200,000 marketing messages before the age of 15, and continues to say that because of this, “they have naturally learned to quickly decipher through what matters. The key for brands to quickly and effectively connect with Gen Z is to create and curate content that makes them feel comfortable.” So, how do you target a market like Generation Z that has never really experienced a barrier to real-time information and communication? PRWeek makes some excellent suggestions on reaching Generation Z: Target them where they are, they aren’t coming looking for you! Instagram and Snapchat are considered the most rapidly evolving media platforms to reach Generation Z, with 38 percent of this group spending most of their time on the latter, 28 percent on the former. This website also makes some good suggestions on how to engage with Generation Z, stating that not only is relatability key, but 66 percent of Gen Z want their jobs to have an impact on the world, with 88 percent more likely to buy a product that has some sort of social or environmental impact. It also says that honesty, transparency, and authenticity are the three critical traits of which brands should be aware. A study by Sharethrough states that Gen Z, which numbers 69 million people with the spending power of USD43 billion, sees smartphones as its primary go-to devices, using them for 15.4 hours a week. Not only this, but they’re prepared to watch videos on their phones throughout the day (more than 30 minutes of mobile video per day, mostly Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram). 71 percent reported that they use their phones to watch video on a daily basis, with only 52 percent watching TV. The study notes there has also been a 41 percent increase in the use of ad-blocking software in the past 12 months. It’s time for organisations to embrace this new way of thinking, by ensuring that their websites are mobile browser friendly, as well as making use of Google’s mobile search functionality to allow for geo-targeting. And with so many Gen Zers leaving Facebook (Blue Magnet’s State of Social Media in South Africa 2016 says that 13...

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The years of innovative PR

Posted by on September 23, 2016 in General | 0 comments

  September is innovation month in South Africa, and although it isn’t clear whom or what commemorated this month to innovation, it makes for an interesting discussion nonetheless. The only constant tactic in public relations – right from the beginning of the 21st century – has been the dissemination of press releases and motivations. More recently however, we’ve seen a massive shift within the environment, fuelled by the advancement of technology and the changing status of the world economy, which has led to shrinking newsrooms and media working under pressure. The result? PR practitioners have had to change focus, moving away from traditional PR to embrace the digital world. Digital PR is more interactive, engaging and appeals to generation X-ers, allowing them to communication directly with a brand on what they think of it, how they feel about it and what the brand should do to cater to their needs. Let’s call it a much more personal touch. Now that PR is headed to a mostly digital future (for now anyway), it is clear this discipline cannot be siloed and must operate hand in hand with the rest of the marketing mix. This blended communications world demands the best of all three disciplines (PR, marketing and social media) woven together with smart, impactful, and creative strategy, especially in a time where budgets are under immense pressure. Driving innovation in PR and communication should always be top of mind for agencies, whether it is structural, consultative methods, business models, resources management and methods of rendering services. After all, one of the principles of PR is that an organisation must adapt to its environment or it shall...

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Reaching and motivating your key audience

Posted by on October 12, 2015 in General | 0 comments

One of the first questions we are always asked is how far does PR reach? The short answer is that PR can connect you with anyone who browses the Internet, reads a publication, watches TV, or listens to the radio. It could be said that PR has the broadest reach of perhaps any element in the marketing mix.   The PR industry is evolving, driven by new marketing realities. It is a giant that is awakening, stretching its capabilities, taking steps and leaps forward, and assuming its key role in the marketing mix.   In today’s fast paced, e-commerce world, PR has risen to importance. And with this importance comes greater freedom – all of a sudden, the value of creative PR is apparent. Sadly, though, while other marketing genres are forging ahead in inventing new ways to do business, many PR professionals are stuck in a rut. And, let’s face it: Same-old same-old does not get anyone excited, let alone the audience they are trying to reach.   In fairness, some PR executives have grown adverse to risk and creativity, giving the PR firm little room to manoeuvre. But, with a little trust, PR practitioners can do more than just communicate with an audience. They can create an emotional connection and really motivate an audience.   Isn’t that a risk worth taking? Go on, let your PR firm flex their creative muscles and ply their craft to the max. You know you want...

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Public Relations? It’s just sending out press releases right?

Posted by on August 28, 2015 in General | 0 comments

Wrong. Public relations is more than just pitching stories to the media or mailing out press releases. The term “PR” covers a number of related activities, all of which are concerned with communicating specific messages to specific target audiences. Every organisation, no matter how large or small, ultimately depends on its reputation for survival and success. Public Relations is all about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. In today’s competitive market, reputation can be a company’s biggest asset – the thing that makes you stand out from the crowd and gives you a competitive edge. Effective PR can help manage reputation by communicating and building good relationships with all organisation stakeholders. To do this, public relations typically encompasses the following areas: Research: You have to thoroughly understand not only your company but also your customers and potential customers. What do you offer that is unique or special? What are customers looking for? And how well do you fill those needs? Strategic planning: Define each target audience, your marketing objectives for that group, and the messages you must communicate in support of those marketing objectives. Publicity: For most small businesses, the central public relations activity is publicity — getting visibility for your products and company. Community relations: Building local community relationships can be the most important communication activity undertaken by an organisation, yet it is often overlooked. For local businesses and franchises, it is important to get to know your neighbourhood and to get involved with local initiatives. This will in turn help raise awareness of your business and services. Internal relations: Employees are the internal audience. Whilst PR practitioners are not responsible for the day-to-day intercourse between colleagues, we can help an organisation achieve its goals by building understanding and engagement with staff, this in turn can improve loyalty and retention. Investor relations: With the current economic volatility, public perception is more powerful than ever as it can send stock prices soaring or plummeting. Investor relations is the aspect of PR that communicates the company story to stock analysts and other financial professionals. Stakeholder relations: A stakeholder is anyone or any organisation that holds a stake in how well your company performs. A key vendor is a stakeholder; rumours that you are financially shaky may cause them to restrict your credit terms. Other key stakeholders can include top consultants, board members, your bank, suppliers, sales representatives, distributors, and industry gurus. Corporate Social Investment: When a company gives to charity, it wants to help the cause, but it also wants to be recognised for its contribution. PR specialists can help you get maximum publicity and goodwill from the time, effort, and funds you donate. Communications training: In large corporations, PR specialists may spend a lot of time coaching senior executives in dealing with the media and other communications skills. Your agency should also be able to advise executives on a suitable strategy for both day-to-day PR as well as PR crises. In short, PR is the discipline that looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics… Clearly not just sending...

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Happy New Year!

Posted by on January 15, 2015 in Uncategorised | 0 comments

The icomm team would like to wish all of our clients, partners and supporters a wonderful 2015. Here’s to a superb...

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Seasons greetings from icomm!

Posted by on December 9, 2014 in General | 0 comments

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PR, perfecting the balancing act

Posted by on November 24, 2014 in General | 0 comments

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?

Posted by on October 24, 2014 in General | 1 comment

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, for the love or hate of the Oxford comma, we play an important strategic role and bring with us corporate communication experience and vast business understanding, which we expertly weave into the language of every announcement, feature, column, Tweet, product release and more.   So, if it is not too much to ask, could the doctors’ rooms please increase that space following...

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Everyone loves a stickler for good grammar (or not)

Posted by on October 10, 2014 in General | 0 comments

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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