Tag Archives: Public Relations

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.

Spin Sucks, but this book doesn’t…

Gini Deitrich (@ginidietrich) Founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich and author of ‘Spin Sucks’ has created this communications guide, which teaches us a valuable lesson in how to earn trust, rather than fall into the trap of manipulating it. In Deitrichs’ own words “this book is written for business leaders who need to better understand how the industry is changing.” ‘Spin Sucks’ educates readers on the motion that by preparing for a marathon, rather than a sprint and working ethically within the guidelines of Google, your organisation can build and maintain a powerful online presence with an immaculate reputation.

'Spin Sucks' by Gini Dietrich

‘Spin Sucks’ by Gini Dietrich

Along with instructing us on what to do, we are also informed on what no to do. The book serves as a warning to those who are perhaps motivated to spin the truth rather than in earning trust with consumers. “Lie or spin the truth, and you will be found out. People will take you to task. Your organisation will suffer from decreased sales, lower stock prices, and a tarnished reputation.” Within the pages of this short book you will find enough examples of bad spin, that even an inkling of temptation to practice ‘black hat’ PR, will soon be diminished. Dietrich’s ‘how to’ style will permit you to identify tools enabling you to communicate ethically with your intended audiences.

What I really loved about reading ‘Spin Sucks’ was that it was educational but also pleasurable! I’m grateful that it was recommended to me since it’s definitely one that anybody starting a career in communications (or even contemplating one) should read. ‘Spin Sucks’ is littered with insightful tricks and helpful tools for business owners and people within the communications industry.

Chapter Two is dedicated to Google. As the reader, we are well in formed of the history of communications. “Technology has allowed us to better understand our aucience.” Dietrich enlightens us on the technical workings of Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithms. The importance of understanding how search engines work is explained in such a way that you don’t have to spend hours reading scholarly articles searching for ways to execute your work to follow “white hat” standards rather than fall into dark arts trap of unethical “black hat” manipulation.

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Perhaps the core message I took from reading this book is that the future for PR is also one that stretches across all communications sectors. We all need take on a “marathon mentality” by creating strong content and being able to change and adapt to new situations and discover and utilise new technologies relative to the time. This isn’t a book of philosophies, we are refreshingly provided with practical advice.

My only criticism of this book is that it’s only 146 pages long. Great for business leaders who need a quick read with snappy advice, but actually I was disappointed when it came to an end. I wanted to read more of this fresh information, so much so that I subscribed to Gini’s blog, also named ‘Spin Sucks.’

You should absolutely join me in subscribing to Spin Sucks and connect with the other 41,000 subscribers. Not only is there regular content uploaded, it’s also so relevant to current issues and the future of marketing and PR. The blog shares the key themes that lay within the book and if you’re worried about being thrown in at the deep end, then you shouldn’t be. Both the book and blog are really useful tools for students studying communications.

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Merging; a result of public relations adapting to the digital media landscape

There’s an undeniable increasing crossover between advertising and public relations agencies. Philipe Michel states “the job of advertising is not to sell, but to create a cultural link between the desires of the entrepreneur and those of the public.” In order to do that, you need practitioners who understand the importance of these relationships and cultural links, not just creative ways in which we can target a chosen demographic with ambient or interruptive advertising. The merging together of several professions will be beneficial as those working in these fields will become multi-skilled just so long as they’re capable and willing to adapt to this exciting hybrid prospect.

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. Alongside this rise of consumer voice, communications teams must work together in order to ensure the consumers involvement in the company is a positive and unified experience so that interest is maintained. Due to this, practitioners have to become all-rounders which I think is an exciting possibility that should be embraced rather than feared. By learning and developing new skills we can better our profession for our clients and ourselves.

From this inevitable merge with communications sectors, we can all work together towards the same goals. Audiences will become the primary priority as we realise that not only can our messages not be controlled anymore, but that the audience themselves actually control the message as a result of technological advancements providing them with the power to become leaders involved with organisation reputation thanks to the Internet. Consequently, markets become powerful conversations where word of mouth is arguably sometimes more powerful than advertising.

Traditionally, creative teams have been associated with using the right side of their brains whilst the more analytical roles have been typically known to use the left. As suggested by Stella Bayles’ ‘Public Relations’ Digital Resolution’ “PR future is equal measure of use between right and left… We have to merge strategy and creativity together.” PR practitioners of the future need both logical and creative interests. After taking the Sommer & Sommer brain test recommended by Stella, I’m happy (and relieved) to see that according to the test, I use both sides equally.

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To take the test yourself, head over to braintest.sommer-sommer.com

Writing this, I found myself asking ‘is the merging of communications teams a direct result of social media?’ Well, yes.  Although we have always had social media, we haven’t always had mass media. Standage states, “social media is not new, it has been around for centuries.” (Standage 2013). The introduction of mass media, along with this new form of social media whereby you can post reviews and opinions online for everyone to see, signifies that social media has evolved from frail physical conversations to concrete statements plastered online. As a direct result of this, the merging of communications teams takes place. As PR practitioners,we have the emotional intelligence allowing us to anticipate public reaction. This is precisely why merging with marketing and advertising teams will be beneficial to everyone. We become the gatekeepers able to shape the message using emotional intelligence throughout the whole creative process which creates a more relatable experience for the intended audience(s).

From the perspective of potential clients (as well as their consumers) the best service wins. Operating together, we are able to offer new prospects that were potentially unreachable in a time where we were working as individual institutions. Many practitioners argue that this will be the downfall of PR. However, if we take light of this inevitable future of PR and communications together, we begin to understand that we can both learn techniques and lessons from each other when it comes to growing and building a coherent industry between once individual sectors.

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Sources:

Standage, T., (2013) Writing on the Wall: Social Media – the first 2,000 years. London: Bloomsbury.

Bayles, S., (2015) Public Relations’ Digital Resolution: A PR pro’s guide to a brighter future and bigger budgets. [Online]. [Accessed 03 November 2015].

Sommer & Sommer Available from: www.braintest.sommer-sommer.com/en [Accessed on 03 January 2016].

 

Public relations adapting to technological advancements within the digital media landscape

2000 was a big moment for those working in PR. The Internet took off, Google arrived, social media went mainstream and the change of consuming and watching habits went from TV to digital and social media. With that, organisations were handed new and exciting ways to reach and communicate with their multiple audiences. However, along with these exciting new channels came consumer power unlike ever before. Organisations could no longer control the whole message that their publics received. A two-way conversational structure emerged between organisation and consumer. Consumers now had the ability to make or break an organisations reputation by publishing reviews. The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) states “Public Relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you.” This highlights the fact that positive online conversation is crucial to a businesses success.

As stated in ‘Public Relations’ Digital Resolution’ by Stella Bayles, Google knows our publics better than anyone. With 3 billion searches each day, Google accounts for up to 90% of web searches in the UK and the US.  Along with that, organisations have naturally evolved to use online platforms to target their chosen demographic. With people becoming more reliant on technology in a society where attention spans are shortening, we should be using the data that Google is providing for free in order to conduct research and make predictions. Due to the rise of social media and the number of people using the internet, as PR practitioners we can use tools such as Google Suggest and Answerthepublic.com to predict what it is that our clients’ audience wants.

Google Suggest is a free tool available for anybody to use. Google collects data from every person using the search engine, meaning that when you type in a word, below you will find a drop-down list of frequently searched terms other people have searched for relating to what you’ve already typed. To give you an example, I tried this by typing in “running” to Google:

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Before I talk about how this is beneficial to us from a PR perspective adapting within the digital media landscape, I want to introduce you to another tool; Answerthepublic.com, this site allows you to type in a word, and instead of simply giving us similar terms searched, it will provide us with questions relating to your original word that people have asked search engines. You can also limit your results geographically which is useful if you’re interested in country specific consumers. Once you’ve entered your keyword, you’re provided with a visualisation of the data. It’ll look something like this:

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As you can see, from using this in PR, we can see exactly what our consumer is looking for. We have the ability to research our audience just by using search engines, saving time and money on focus groups. This enables us to make predictions on their desires meaning we create a more relatable experience for the consumer via this consumer data insight.

Target audiences online are mostly already “market savvy”, making purchases on their terms and usually only using products and/or services that have either already been recommended to them or have high online recommendations. Everything is just a click away; if it’s pitched incorrectly to the consumer they won’t delay to go to another webpage. Agencies will have to converse in unconventional and creative new channels in order to preserve consumer interest.

To adapt to the digital media landscape, PR is going to have to get personal. We will have to work harder to keep human contact between consumer and organization active and coherent. The core roles don’t change, but the way in which we practice and achieve these roles will have to adapt and become creative if we are going to stay active in a world of Trip Advisor word-of-mouth reputation management. Thanks to technology, audiences now have the tools to decide upon what information shared is actually relevant to them, as well as being given the ability to create and share their own information on a service or product.

An alternative but still relevant argument is that the multitude of the media today is precisely why PR is still very relevant and needed in today’s digital media landscape. The expansion of the Internet has become so vast and sometimes unreliable, which has in itself created the need for human contact to remain active and coherent between company and consumer. As Stephen Waddington states, “shedding the shackle of media relations will be critical to the future success of the public relations industry. It is inevitable that as traditional media continues to fragment because of technological change, and consumer behaviour becomes increasingly participatory, that organisations must change how they communicate.” (Earl and Waddington 2012: 202)

To conclude, Public Relations is adapting to the digital media landscape by providing clients consumers with what they want, making predictions of the desires of various publics and identifying consumer habits by experimenting with new online tools. Due to this, there is a more considered methodology set in place as public relations adapts to the current digital media landscape in an honest two-way conversational fashion whereby public opinion is listened to and taken into account. “Clearly, the multi-directional nature of online communications challenges the traditional idea of public relations involving a straightforward distribution of a message to a passive audience.” (Yaxley in Theaker, 2012: pp 423) We should all be looking at the unquestionably changing media landscape as an opportunity, not a restriction when it comes to conveying messages and interacting with consumers.

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Sources:

CIPR (2015) What is PR? Available from: www.cipr.co.uk/content/careers-advice/what-pr [Accessed 19 November 2015].

Bayles, S., (2015) Public Relations’ Digital Resolution: A PR pro’s guide to a brighter future and bigger budgets. [Online]. [Accessed 03 November 2015].

AnswerThePublic Available from: answerthepublic.com [Accessed 01 January 2016].

Waddington, S., Earl, S., (2012) Brand Anarchy. London: Bloomsbury.

Theaker, A., (2012) The Public Relations Handbook. 4th ed. Abingdon: Routledge.

Personal reflection

When I started my degree in Journalism and Public Relations my hope was to accomplish a more defined understanding of what specific sector I wanted to be a part of and what certain job role I wanted to work towards obtaining. However, I’m relieved that the exact opposite has happened. From studying PR I’ve begun to understand that all communications industries work closely together, every single module that I’ve studied, I have thoroughly enjoyed. So, instead of narrowing my search, my studies have actually broadened it, which has given me such an array of options and an open mind as I continue my second year and go on into my third.

Through my studies, I’ve realised that my primary preferred learning style is visual, with verbal as a secondary style. Using graphs, charts and videos when it comes to studying definitely embeds key findings into my head and creating infographics has also been useful to me. I have found myself using verbal learning styles when it comes to academic writing. Making voice recordings of summarised notes ensures that what I will write is firstly, coherent, and secondly, makes sense. *Unpopular opinion alert* I also find that listening to music whilst I’m writing really does help get my ideas onto paper. (Perhaps it’s because I’m a Gemini – we tend to have difficulty sitting still).

Working socially in groups this year has been an eye-opener for me. One of my modules this year was Exploring Creative Advertising Processes and the ideas that we were able to bounce off each other resulted in us coming up with a sound campaign, one that our lecturer felt she “could see working as an actual campaign.” Perhaps I was lucky with my group in that we were all determined to succeed in that module and the topic was one that we all found quite fascinating, nonetheless I would love to do more group work in the future as a result of this.

I’ve learned that you always have to keep an open mind when you’re learning about or working within any form of communication sector as these industries are constantly adapting (or at least they should be) in order to mimic the continual adaptation of human communication.

I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing. The subject I excelled most at in school was English Literature, so I’ve been surprised to find that my biggest challenge has been finding subjects to write about on my blog. In the coming months I will be pushing myself to write more frequently about subjects that force me out of my comfort zone. Don’t be shocked to see a few car crash experiments on here in the not-so-distant future… *kidding*

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My new years resolution for 2016 in relation to my degree and my personal development, is to learn more about Events PR and gain further practical experience in PR. I have arranged a short internship with The Happy Grass Company where I will be managing their social media accounts with the possibility of running a digital media campaign mid-2016 that I have already pitched to them. My hope is that this opportunity will help turn theory into practice as I continue studying this kaleidoscopic filed.

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