Author Archives: Hannah

Hello again England!

So, it was my 21st Birthday last month (May) and I decided to flee the UK for pretty much the entirety of my birthday month (your 21st really is the best excuse for excessive holidays!) Just thought I’d share some of my holiday pics!

I began in New York visiting family and had the best time ever. Yes, I did the touristy stuff so apologies in advance for the below pictures that you’ve seen a thousand times before:

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I also toured Yale which was amazing – such a beautiful university and they have a FroYo literally just across the road:

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After just over 2 weeks in NYC, I spent my birthday in Venice which is by far the most beautiful city I have ever been to. If you ever find yourself there you must take part in a ‘Secret Venice’ walking tour because you learn so much that you’d never even consider by visiting the typical tourist attractions (which are amazing too)!

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I’m a huge Vivaldi fan so dragging mothership to 3 performances was magic for me – perhaps not for mum who doesn’t tend to stray too far from Jack Johnson or Coldplay. On that note – now that I’ve broken my one picture per post’ rule, I’ll leave you with one last moment from my favourite Paganini performance!

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Why is the triple bottom line so important?

It’s not enough in today’s society for companies to simply act good, they must also be seen to be doing good and acting as an example citizen.

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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a way in which businesses can maintain reputation whilst bettering society. A recent study found that 55% of consumers were willing to pay more for a product or service providing it came from a socially responsible company.  “Corporations now must honor their obligations to all constituents, including their effects on society as a whole. We now hear managers talking about the “triple bottom line.” The bottom line is triple because it now must account for financial, social and environmental performance.” (Coombs and Holladay, 2009, pp.277).

Today it is becoming a necessity for any given organisation to have a social role and to promote good within society. Peach presents this as a metaphor exploring the impact of a business on its environment (After Peach 1987: 191-193). Peach argues that every organisation has basic responsibilities, at a basic level they need to obey laws and pay taxes.

Already many companies will fall at the first hurdle, companies such as Apple, Google, Starbucks and Amazon have all faced damaging tax avoidance scandals. These are the types of businesses that can learn from Peach by making an effort with organizational and societal responsibilities and minimizing the negative effects of environmental pollution in order to work towards a healthy society. I’m not saying every business model out there becomes an advocate for philanthropy, although it is time for many of them to become a more corporate citizen.

I think it’s really interesting that some practitioners are arguing that CSR is not enough anymore… Au reviour CSR, bonjour corporate citizenship!

The basis of this argument is basically due to the fact that CSR focuses on people and seems to exclude environmental responsibilities and ignores the green agenda. Practitioners supporting this claim that there are flaws in CSR and have created a more rounded notion of ‘corporate citizenship.’

The triple line, CSR and corporate citizenship are all vital to the preservation of reputation, companies today are expected to be economic and socially ethical as well as holding an environmental conscience within their practices. 

Was reputation more important before the 21st century?

Ok, trick question… Maintaining reputation is today more important than ever!

According to the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Reputation is “the result of what you do, what you say, and what others say about you.”

In today’s media landscape, issues can arise easily for organisations and sometimes out of the blue. It’s unlikely for any organisation to never have to worry about maintaining reputation or facing issues/crises. Social media is a dominant factor in this. Everybody is aware that the consumer has a voice now, this voice can be deadly to an organisation if the experience of their customers is anything short of a positive one.

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In the current digital era, organisations communicate online. Online platforms are used to generate conversation and allow for a two-way channel of fluid communication. This is mostly great news for businesses, especially the more interactive ones. However, the result of normality of immediacy on social media has meant that issues can crop up quicker and stories can become broadcast because of negative news agendas being grasped.  

So, the result of a more open society with access to an abyss of immediate online interaction has of course made it more important for reputation to be seen as an asset to be invested in. Traditionally, reach was measured in column inches achieved, now it’s measured in clicks, impressions and views. It’s important to remember that our audience is more involved now which is why planning for issues and putting back up strategies into motion is an essential part of maintaining reputation.

For small businesses, a few negative reviews online can really be harmful to your relationship with potential customers. For larger organisations, a Twitter storm can spread like wildfire and before you know it you’ve made the headlines, realising that ‘all publicity’ is in fact not always good publicity.

A PR reading list: my favourite blogs

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I’ve said it many times before… PR is a kaleidoscopic field which is under constant change. Due to this, it’s so important for people with an interest in PR, or working within the industry to stay up-to-date on current trends and issues within the sector from a range of different voices.

Why is reading other people’s work important? I think this question applies particularly to students. It’s important to remember that we can all learn from one another and help each other build new ideas, concepts and theories. Although this may be surprising to some, I firmly believe that student blogs are just as insightful and useful as professional ones. You’re provided with fresh interpretation when you read a blog post that has been written by a student. The interpretation is sometimes that of an experimental one and mistakes can be made, but isn’t all of this is part of the learning process?

Here’s a list of my favourite PR blogs I read regularly and recommend to those of you looking to expand your reading list:

  1. Spin Sucks
  2. PR Daily
  3. PR Week
  4. PRgirlinaprworld
  5. LivelaughlovePR
  6. Behindthespin
  7. PRexamples
  8. Theprgirl
  9. NatsPRscribbles
  10. PRprointraining

The one piece of advice I would give to people contemplating a career in PR is to read as much as you can. Add five blogs to your reading list and have a read through them when you have a few spare minutes. You’ll be surprised just how much content you can get through when you’re waiting for your pasta to boil, sitting on the train or looking after your nightmare siblings.

Blogging: do’s and don’ts

For the most part, the concept of blogging is fairly simple. It’s primarily non-academic writing which means that you’re free to express your thoughts online in a style that can mimic spoken language more so than with essay writing.

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Here’s my list of do’s and don’ts for blogging:

Do set yourself a word limit. I think 400-600 words is acceptable for a blog post. It’s so easy to go off on a tangent when you’re blogging. Tangents are OK – but if you’re writing a post about how much you love dolphins, don’t talk about the sustainability of trains in paragraph 3.

Do keep it visual. We have all heard that “a picture speaks a thousand words”. Images add a level of depth that can’t always be achieved with the written word. Always try to have one visual included.

Do write about things that interest you. You can always tell if someone’s writing because they’ve been badgered by a lecturer to publish something or if they’re doing it because they enjoy the topic. As a reader it’s so much more enjoyable to look at a piece that a blogger has invested time into.

Do post regularly. Even if nobody is reading your blog, it’s a space that future employers could potentially be looking at. If you can take time out of your academic and/or working life to blog about things that interest you, it gives you the opportunity be experimental with your writing and build an online portfolio. One post a week is a good aim but don’t give up completely if you forget to upload content for a few weeks.

Don’t only give one side of an argument. It’s ok to be critical of something, but your readers will need to make up their own minds on a subject and you should keep your writing neutral and  balance it out by providing an opposing point of view.

Don’t use words that you don’t know the meaning of. Just keep in mind that if you don’t know what something means, it’s likely that people reading your work will also be unsure of the word meaning. The greater danger is of course that the vocabulary you’ve mistakenly used isn’t relevant at all – then you’ll just look like a tit.

Strikes; are they harmful to reputation?

I was pulling up to the entrance of Southmead hospital yesterday morning when I noticed a  relatively small group of protestors at the gates. Unbeknown to me at the time, it was the first day of a 48-hour strike held by junior doctors across the UK.

Today, 5,000 procedures and operations in the UK will be canceled due to junior doctors striking in a bid to get their voices heard by the government amongst proposals to change their contracts. And yes, we have to take into account that it’s a government organisation so the usual PR protocol doesn’t necessarily stand here… But it’s still creating an interesting buzz.

The media began by arguably vilifying the situation, now we have more information on their reasons for striking, we realise that perhaps there’s more than meets the eye and we’re hearing the voices of the people it’s directly affecting which is consequently creating masses of online conversation. This isn’t a post on junior doctor strikes, but seeing the small demonstration in Bristol yesterday had me thinking about the severity of striking.

Is striking harmful to an organisation?

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Well, like every different subject relating to this industry my answer is; “it depends”.

Striking has the potential to be harmful for a reputation because it suggests that there’s a dispute within the organisation and forces light onto the internal workings of said organisation. This affects reputation due to the fact that it can be alarming to consumers. Trust can be lost and once it’s lost, it’s extremely difficult to regain.

According to the Quoted Companies Alliance and BDO, the combined reputations of all UK-listed companies was valued at £1.7 trillion in 2015. This figure surprises some because you can’t reach out and touch reputation, it’s easy to talk about but managing reputation is a long and sometimes costly process.

The junior doctor strikes highlight the importance of the fact that any given business or organisation – governmentally funded or not – must plan for issues. The reputation of a business is priceless, you can’t do enough to nurture it. It’s highly unlikely that a strike will turn into a crisis, but it is an issue. As long as you plan and prepare for issues relative to this, you can avoid them and bypass damage to your own reputation.

The best leap year campaigns of 2016

It’s a leap year which means that 2016 will have 366 days instead of 365. Today it’s become another event in the calendar for companies to campaign around. I’ve picked my two favourite leap year campaigns of 2016…

Chevrolet

According to Chevrolet, the 29th of February 2016 is for #DayItForward. Promoting the idea that people across the globe have the opportunity to share “a day of unexpected goodness”.

The motors company has teamed up with celebrities such as Kevin Spacey, Lucy Hale and Eva Longoria who have each shared videos of them spreading kindness in the extra 24 hours that a leap year provides us with. The aim is that people will be inspired to use this hashtag to share their own random acts of kindness with strangers or loved ones.
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Chevrolet have attempted to connect with consumers via human emotion and kindness, and it works. People across the globe taking part in the campaign have uploaded their pictures and videos on social media and the acts of kindness range from buying a stranger coffee to volunteering with wildlife charities.

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Tresemme

Tresemme have launched the #ReverseTheRoutine campaign this leap year revolving around the premise that women shouldn’t have to wait 4 years in order for it to be socially acceptable to propose to their partner.

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They will be choosing 5 women to help propose to their partners (including providing them with a personalised white gold engagement ring). This campaign goes hand-in-hand with the launch of their new range of products ‘Reverse the Routine’ and if you’ve seen their ads you’ll know that the products are intended to be used ‘backwards’ with conditioner being used first to soften hair, and shampooed second to provide volume.

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To enter their campaign and be in with a chance of winning, all you have to do is email the reason you want to propose to your other half this year (in 300 words or less) to reversetheroutine@gmail.com.

 

 

Reputation management = emotional intelligence

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If there’s one trait PR practitioners should have it’s emotional intelligence. This should always be in the back of our minds as it allows us to anticipate public reaction. We become the gatekeepers able to shape a message in order to minimise the probability of crises or public upset taking place.

Whilst some crises can be completely out of the blue, the majority of the time, if you know your public well enough, you can use emotional intelligence to predict what their reaction will be to the message you’re trying to relay. If you can identify potential threats to your company/organisation or campaign before they have the chance to materialise, then you can turn a storm into a drizzle by making sure you are ready to act if something negative occurs and set ’emergency’ strategies into place. 

This is exactly why internal communications is so important. It also highlights the importance of a unified voice within your company should crisis strike. The internet has given the consumer a voice – if this voice is a negative one then it’s all the more crucial for your staff to act as the voice of the company. 

Before social media, the impact the consumer had on any given company was relatively insignificant. The reputation of the company was dependent upon their practices and relationships. Now, with social media, the consumer is the critic. Due to this, transparency is more important than ever and it’s increasingly essential to be upfront with your consumers. If you make a mistake, don’t attempt to cover it up with endless excuses – just say sorry.

Emotional intelligence covers a vast spectrum. The ability to anticipate public reaction goes hand in hand with common sense. Being truthful with your audiences will build a trusting relationship and strengthen reputation; so if you do make a mistake, at least you still have the potential to retain consumer respect.

Cupidon campaigns, Valentine’s Day 2016

Although in Victorian times it was deemed unlucky to receive a Valentine’s card, in the 21st century it’s become the second most celebrated date in the year. According to the Greeting Card Association (GCA) “The total value of single cards sold in the UK in 2014 stood at £1.39 billion with 878.8 million single cards being sold in this period. When compared with 2013, value is up 7.77%.”

It’s also a hugely significant event in the calendar for brands, but how do they campaign for it? Here are my three favourite Valentine’s campaigns for 2016…

Marmite 

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Although I do love it, PR shan’t be my valentine this year (maybe next year).

All jokes aside, Marmite have released a limited edition range of personalised jars just in time for Valentine’s Day whereby people can attach loving messages to give to their valentine. However, it’s not all love and smiles at Marmite as they’ve banned words like “bae” and “baby cakes” from being printed on the product.

The jars are selling for RRP £4.99 and you can buy one here.

House of Fraser

House of Fraser customers have been offered a 10% discount when they shop online this Valentine’s Day. The social media campaign ‘#emojinal’ encourages customers to create a rom-com story just by using emojis. I’m giving them brownie points for creativity, but overall it’s not looking good for HoF as backlash was received after a series of strange over emojinal tweets were released from their Twitter account.

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Tesco

Okay, I love this one. Tesco have released a two minute ad in which psychotherapist Rachel Morris takes on the role of cupid, matchmaking couples by analysing the contents of their shopping baskets! The video exceeded 10 million views on Facebook in the first week with over 35,000 likes and 8,000 shares. Watch the video to see if you love it as much as I do!

 

I hope you all have a lovely Valentine’s Day – for those of you who are Valentineless, fear not… You can celebrate Single’s Awareness Day (SAD) instead!

What is media relations?

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Media Relations focuses on the importance of retaining certain levels of control when it comes to a company’s contact with the media. This includes all the ways in which an organisation interact with the news media such as relationships formed with journalists, responsibilities for social media accounts and monitoring as well as maintaining contacts.

It’s crucial to make sure that those within a company or organisation speak with one unified voice when it comes to key matters – and even more so when it comes to crisis management. It wasn’t until after reading Chapter 3 of John Doorely and Helio Fred Garcia’s ‘Reputation Management’ that I truly understood the importance of centralised media relations. “Different people speak from different perspectives, using different vocabulary, and based on different levels of knowledge about an issue. The result can be confusion, inaccurate communication and repetitional harm.” Consequently, we have to limit the passage of communication with the media to professionals only. If nobody knows what to say in a time of crisis, it can be damaging to the most squeaky clean of reputations because it tends to look suspicious or misleading if a singular organisation has several differing voices instead of one integrated one.

Organisations today need their press offices to function at a rapid pace, noticing and modifying criticisms of their organisation within the media almost instantly after negative coverage has occurred. As a result of this, the key to effective media relations is ultimately to show your story in a light in which you’re providing something unusual and interesting rather than something dry and informative.

As well as all of this, you also have your client to think about. You must make sure that the work you’re doing is measurable. Traditionally this would’ve been physically measuring column inches achieved; today it’s measured in clicks, impressions and views. With most of this measurable work being outsourced to cutting agencies, it’s much more complex in today’s media landscape than it used to be. This only strengthens the fact that everything in media relations must be integrated now.

PR and media relations are both ultimately about timing, I have spoken about this before on my blog in relation to catching the right channels of influence at the right time (you can read that post here). But this is a fundamental ideology that delves deeper than influence. If you can time your story to fit in with other cultural or social events in the world, it can enable your organisation to blossom. This is achievable by designing compelling stories that journalists or bloggers are interested in picking up. As a side note – you need to be prepared for the fact that unfortunately, negative news travels faster than positive news when it comes to news outlets. This is precisely why it’s so fundamental to work an alternative or slightly unusually interesting angle to your clients story.

Whilst there’s a thin line between public relations and media relations, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that everything is becoming integrated. It’s a widespread trend seen across all communications sectors today, one that will surely only continue to grow in both the near and distant future.