International coverage is, arguably, the most important product of business school PR departments. Not only does international recognition build the brand at a much larger scale, coverage can also be used to reach new markets for student recruitment, to promote new courses and to showcase global alumni, amongst many other things.
When we think of influencer marketing and PR, some may wonder what use it really holds outside of promoting charcoal toothpaste or online clothing brands. One assumption we make is that those with the most followers are the most valuable. And, perhaps, they are. Even for business schools, having a shout out from Kylie Jenner, with her 130 million Instagram followers, would surely cause a surge in applications from around the globe. Some may not be candidates that would usually be considered, but we know that Generation Z is especially entrepreneurial and it’s hard to miss the inspiration they may take from someone who, at 21 years old, is the world’s youngest self-made billionaire.
If you are social media savvy, live in North America or are under the age of 25, you may have already heard of the catastrophe that was Fyre Festival. Or if, like me, you have been doing Dry January, you may have discovered it through the documentary Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, which recently aired on Netflix.
Brexit has become hard to escape. It seems that every time you open a newspaper, turn on the radio or check your rear-view mirror, BAM there it is.
It has been an interesting few weeks for Elon Musk. His recent tweet that he had “funding secured” to take Tesla, a $50bn public company, private, sparked a wealth of problems for regulators, investors and his board. Although initially stocks jumped in value, it came to light that the tweet was not approved by anyone else at the company and that funding was not completely secured. This provoked an investigation by US financial regulators into whether the tweet broke trading laws, sending stocks plummeting and costing investors millions. Musk also faced criticism for his choice of listing stock value as ‘$420’ as the number has become synonymous with cannabis use in the US. A flurry of articles appeared questioning his sobriety including allegations from rapper Azealia Banks that he was indeed taking drugs at the time of the tweet. Shortly after, Elon Musk gave an erratic interview to the New York Times during which he said the past year at the company had been “excruciating”. With an almost tangible sense of desperation in his tone and much conjecture that this was merely a damage control tactic, Tesla shares fell more than 8.5% in early trading. Elon Musk is indisputably the face of Tesla and is hugely valuable to the company – so how much damage has he done and could great PR save him? It’s hard to escape the sense that we are complicit in the widely-publicised breakdown of a very talented but hugely overworked man. And this revelation isn’t necessarily out of the blue – Musk was recently widely criticised for tweeting that Vern Unsworth, one of the divers that rescued the Thai schoolboys earlier this year, was a ‘pedo guy’. This was in retaliation to Unsworth’s claims that the miniature submarine Musk intended to save those stranded “had absolutely no chance of working” because the inventor “had no conception of what the cave passage was like”. It appears that the time has come for the company to invest in a respected and well-recognised executive who is capable of growing a business of this size, rather than relying on a visionary who often sleeps on the factory floor. If this were to happen soon, which I believe it should in order to restore public faith in the management of the company, Musk would have to take on a different role, perhaps as a chief operating officer. But could these actions spin the situation on its head? It’s unlikely, due to the impending US Securities and Exchange Commission investigation which could, theoretically, sanction or fine Tesla or even remove Musk from serving on the board. The conundrum the SEC now faces is that if it does not punish Musk, it unleashes a whole new set of dynamics in the public markets. It could normalise – or at least destigmatise – chief executives’ use of social media to move stock. Giving clemency to the ‘special circumstances’ of Musk’s teary confessions that he barely sleeps and is essentially in the whirlwind of a personal breakdown would mean that all public companies should receive the same treatment. Unsurprisingly, Tesla has hired a well-regarded PR agency who will no doubt be advising on the situation in order to mitigate the worst results of the SEC investigation. I will definitely be keeping my eyes on what happens next!
When I walked into work this morning, I could hear giggling before I even opened the door. Kerry, a Senior Account Manager and Funny News Finder, had emailed us all a link to a story about a new robot author. The author was created by the team at Botnik, a community of writers, artists and developers who collaborate with machines to create ‘strange new things’. They had fed all seven Harry Potter novels through their predictive text keyboard and instructed it to compose a chapter from a new Harry Potter story. The result is called Harry Potter and the Portrait of what Looked like a Large Pile of Ash and it’s well worth a read. *Spoiler alert* ‘“Not so handsome now,” thought Harry as he dipped Hermione in hot sauce. The Death Eaters were dead now, and Harry was hungrier than he had ever been.’ Hilarious. But this got me thinking – could robots ever tell us stories? Google certainly thinks so. As we speak, the company is pouring money into a robot journalism project in which computers will write 30,000 stories a month for local media. The project will be run by five human journalists, who will use official open data sources to automate reports about health, crime, employment and other subjects. Despite the overwhelming majority of experts and research suggesting that automated articles would lack the insight needed in subjective topics – for example, imagine the intricacies of a court cases or political matters – it appears that there are numerous companies already operating in this area.
Business and politics have intertwined for thousands of years, to the point where they are almost impossible to unpick. For PRs working within the business sector, it is crucial to have an awareness of current events, particularly at a time when the future of our trade and relationship with the EU hangs in the balance. Capitalism This week, some of Britain’s top business leaders took part in an FT City Network panel, where they decried management greed, corporate tax dodging and investor short-termism as factors rendering the current state of capitalism defective and in need of reform and modernisation. Baroness Shriti Vadera, the former minister who now chairs Santander UK, commented that, “The underlying promise of western capitalist economies — that a rising tide lifts all boats — has been broken.” It was Aristotle who proposed a welfare state to appease the poorer parts of the population, which hugely outnumbered the richest, who were often politicians and businessmen. Over 2,000 years later, a grossly underfunded welfare system and the paradox of economic inflation whilst many face pay caps means that the gap between the rich and poor grows ever-wider. Baroness Vadera has a valid point when she says that ‘a better system’ is needed. Perhaps this is the source of civil discontent that many believe influenced the ‘Leave’ Brexit vote, a rebellion reportedly against underdelivering politicians and untrustworthy business ‘experts’. Brexit
So, what is Industry 4.0 and the future of work? Industry 4.0, or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, began as an initiative for the manufacturing sector, which was suffering from dwindling productivity. The scheme was initially a reaction to the global over-reliance on financial services sectors, which had grown exponentially over the last few decades. Factory of the Future The main technologies that comprise Industry 4.0 include artificial intelligence, big data, the internet of things and robotics. Combined, these technologies will be used within the manufacturing sector to create the ‘Factory of the Future’ . This will be a web of interconnected machines which create pre-programmed products, and upload data about this process without human involvement. For example, drinks factories could harness this technology by microchipping their bottles. The microchip could tell the machines which fluid it needs, which cap will fit and which label must be affixed as it progresses around the factory. Unsurprisingly, these technologies are individually spilling out into other sectors, such as medicine, legal and financial. There are currently huge advances in these areas, with machines helping with diagnosis, information management, research and even surgery in the healthcare sector alone. More meaningful work
The art of writing catchy headlines is the difference between your article, or blog, reaching the eyes of your targeted readers – or disappearing into the ether as they scroll / flick disinterestedly past. Learning how to write a headline is key to both PR and content marketing. Many a well-written article, even those with ground-breaking content, has slipped under the radar because the title didn't entice readers. So, how do you write a headline that gets clicked? Pique an audience’s interest and grab their attention. Headline dos Consider your audience Be bold – or even contrary – as well as authoritative and clear Keep your headlines active, not passive Is the title meaningful and interesting – would you read this article Keep SEO in mind Be shareable Headline don'ts
Why should your employees be sharing your content? What are the benefits to you as a business school, university or business? Your office phone might go to voice mail after 5pm. You might stop answering your emails. But for the majority, prime social media browsing time is just beginning. We browse during our commutes. We browse while we're watching TV. We browse just before we go to bed at night and again when we first wake up in the morning. Alerts come through on our phones the moment we receive a message or we're tagged in a post. Social media is integrated into our lives no matter the hour. Which brings me on to the relationship between content and social media. If you have great content, you want people to engage with it. You want the widest audience you can attract. People use social media as a search engine. Content is suggested to us in our social media feeds. Articles shared via social media can reach a much wider audience than the publication itself might ordinarily attract. Social media has the potential for the right content to go viral. Imagine the power of genuine thought leadership when shared in the right place, at the right time. Why should your employees be sharing your content? What are the benefits to you as a business school, university or business? It's important for employees to share content because: It unifies the business – it shows that everyone is aware of the coverage and is actively endorsing it It contributes to the ‘brand voice’ – which should be seen as a choir instead of a solo It reaches far more people – in fact, sometimes a simple re-tweet or a Facebook post can increase exposure by thousands Understanding the benefits of having your employees share your press coverage and other content you produce is step one. Step two is actually getting the content shared, which can be somewhat challenging. Everyone's busy. Everyone has deadlines to meet. How do you sell them on the benefits?