I’ve previously written on why public relations is an art, rather than a science. However, that doesn’t mean that PR skills training isn’t vital to the professional success of individual practitioners – and the media campaigns they develop and execute. The benefits of professional development As a consultancy which specialises in the recruitment and talent management sectors, we often work with our clients to share stories around the benefits of professional development. Research from Guidant Group, for example, recently found that almost half of businesses (47%) believe that developing staff internally will be their greatest opportunity over the next three years. The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), meanwhile, often shares insight into the impact that CPD has on boosting staff engagement, motivation and productivity.
The disparity between what a business thinks is an interesting PR story, and the information that actually grabs the attention of target publications, is often vast. However, by viewing potential press angles through the eyes of the audience, brands can uncover stories which won’t fail to make headlines. In reality, even the most niche publications are unlikely to have much interest in the fact that you have had an office refurbishment, refreshed your website or invested in a new coffee machine. That is, of course, unless you have a solid angle as to ‘why’ you have made those changes which you can lead on: for example, you have updated your jobs pages to be accessible to disabled candidates to increase applications from this underrepresented group. Otherwise, save those nuggets for building your employer brand though social media. Sitting on a wealth of information
While expertly executed PR programmes, based on carefully constructed plans, are the bedrock of any successful PR campaign, reactive PR and marketing activity can offer brands a fast-track route to getting their voices heard. And this technique was something that Counter Terrorism Policing UK demonstrated perfectly, when it capitalised on the popularity of BBC’s The Bodyguard: the most watched new British drama in more than a decade, with more than 10 million viewers tuning in to the first episode. Demonstrable ROI By creating a social campaign tagged to the hit show - which offered behind the scenes insight and directed viewers to learn more about working in the sector - the comms team successfully tapped into a ready-made audience to gain demonstrable ROI.
Positioning your brand as a thought leader in its field through PR takes not only a superior understanding of the market, but also time and dedication. However, while there is no shortcut to building a solid media profile, generating data through surveying your networks can supercharge a press release by boosting both newsworthiness and the potential to repurpose. Flick through any national newspaper, or scroll through any major newsfeed, and you’ll find that a significant number use statistics as a hook. Thanks to the power of polls, we know that Magnums are the UK’s favourite ice cream, England’s progress in the World Cup increased national pride and two thirds of voters are baffled by Theresa May’s Brexit policy. None of these stories are particularly surprising – but you can guarantee they wouldn’t have made headlines without the figures to back them up.
Entering corporate awards can be a great way to gain exposure, enhance brand perception and validate your market position. However, for each category, there can be only one winner – here’s how you can stand out from the crowd and earn your status as an ‘award winning’ organisation. Choose wisely To be in with a chance of taking home a trophy, you’ll have to invest a hefty chunk of time and resources into collating the information needed. For this reason, taking the decision to enter awards shouldn’t be taken lightly – it has to be worth the effort. Do some research to determine which awards have kudos in your industry and are recognised by your customers – whether that be The Sunday Times’ ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ or the Concrete Society's Awards for Excellence. For example, we’ve recently been shortlisted for the Recruitment International Supplier Awards in the category of Best Marketing & PR – a hyper-niche category from a brand that our clients are familiar with and trust.
As far as PR challenges go, a chicken shop running out of chicken is a pretty major deal. Which perhaps explains the furore which ensued when KFC was forced to close the majority of its 900 restaurants after bringing a new delivery partner on board. The fiasco was covered extensively across the UK mainstream media, with the most influential outlets from the Sun to the Financial Times offering real-time updates on the situation. Social media, meanwhile, went into overdrive, with fans of the chain demanding, among other things, that the government calls an emergency Cobra meeting over the shortage. Unsurprisingly, rival brands were only too quick to ride the wave of publicity. Burger King offered free food for a year to a customer who told ITV News she was forced to visit the burger joint after finding her favourite chicken shop closed, while Iceland took to giving away frozen chicken strips.
Make no mistake, getting any fledgling business off the ground is tough, regardless of the founder’s skills, experience and level of dedication. And despite the huge potential rewards associated with setting up your own company, it’s a sad fact that around half of new start-ups fail in the first five years. The recruitment sector is particularly competitive. According to Companies House data, over 9,000 recruitment consultancies set up shop in the UK during 2017. That’s an average of 818 new agencies being registered every single month. Each of these businesses will need to make important decisions around premises, the software and systems they invest in and the service providers they choose, while ensuring they’re compliant and ready and able to trade as quickly as possible. So it’s unsurprising that marketing and PR often drops off the end of the ‘to do’ list.
In a world where the lines between advertising, marketing and PR are becoming increasingly blurred, it’s little wonder that some business leaders struggle to see where one function ends and another begins. Add in the role played by social media and it’s easy to see why there’s so much confusion.
You’ve identified the ingredients for a perfect story, fired off a killer email pitch or picked up the phone and articulated your client’s experience, expertise and angle. The editor or journalist wants to cover the story Result! But where do you go from here? What are the essential steps when a reporter says 'yes'? Be clear on what the publication needs from you It may sound obvious, but be sure that your expectations are aligned. You may have thought that you were setting up an interview, while the commissioning editor had a 1,500 word, Harvard referenced, by-lined article in mind. Make sure you’re both on the same page.
We’ve all been there. You turn on the TV or open the morning paper only to see a story which is centred around your business sector splashed everywhere. You knew this story was going to hit the headlines months ago – why aren’t you being interviewed along with the other experts? Here are our top tips for becoming an effective media spokesperson: Be visible Becoming a thought leader takes commitment. If a reporter or researcher is looking for insight on GP shortages in rural Essex, for example, the obvious place to begin their search is online. Make a habit of sharing snippets of your expertise and opinions on the news across social media, your own blog and third-party platforms to increase your visibility. We’ve had clients appear on Sky News after TV researchers stumbled across opinionated blog posts. Lay the foundations and the opportunities may just come to you. Be a specialist
On average, employees have 10 times more followers than their company's social media accounts. We recently shared our 10 top tips for social media success. In the post we stressed that encouraging employees to post and share content about your organisation will increase your reach beyond your own channels, while simultaneously building potential leads and brand perception.
Building a brand takes dedication. As well as a great product or service, you need to invest time and resources into spreading your message. There is no quick fix - success relies on a sustained approach. Short-term marketing initiatives are quite frankly, pointless. Of course, there is a place for dedicated campaigns to promote a time sensitive event or initiative, but this should be contextualised within a programme of ongoing communications. You wouldn’t expect to get fit by visiting the gym once – however hard you pushed yourself during your single visit – so why should the results of PR and communications be any different?
I recently blogged on why PR professionals are unlikely to be replaced by robots in the near future. One of the reasons why is the human ability to craft copy to create impact at a time when content can no longer demand attention. Here are my seven top tips to sharpen your PR writing: Get to the point quickly Whether you’re drafting a pitch, press release or article, ensure that your intended message is clear from the outset, or you’ll swiftly lose your audience. Cover all bases PR professionals should always attempt to answer the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’ and ‘why’ in the first sentence or paragraph of every piece they draft in the interest of brevity.
A new report from PwC suggests that robotics and artificial intelligence could affect almost a third of UK jobs by the 2030s. However, while the rise of technology is increasing impacting the way that organisations hire - PR professionals won’t be replaced by robots. A recent blog on PR Daily highlights the four crucial skills that PR professionals will always need (and our blog post last week discusses the skills a PR professional would be unsuccessful without). These are writing, research, project management and presentation.
Few people hold back from airing their opinions on current affairs in person. And let’s face it, 2016 and 2017 have been particularly easy years for making small talk. However, while I’m sure you will have shared your firm thoughts on Brexit, Trump or The Great British Bake Off to anyone within earshot, for the majority, this insight will never be broadcast more widely. However, publicly sharing your viewpoints on relevant news stories online can be a fast-track to building your personal brand and, by association, your company’s corporate identity. You can’t become a thought leader without saying what you think While the majority of business leaders now realise the value of social engagement, the content that many organisations produce is formulaic, dry and uninspiring. Perhaps they are just playing it safe, or lack the confidence to open up about their thoughts and feelings, but while liking and sharing the posts of others is a step in the right direction, there really is no substitute for real thought leadership. Don’t just share a story that is of interest to your networks – if it’s really relevant, the chances are they will already have consumed it from the source. Instead, use your own blog, or a third-party platform, to put some meat on the bones. Speak directly to your audience and use your expertise to outline what it means for them specifically. What if my opinion is controversial?
BlueSky PR’s very own Stephanie King will make her speaking debut at Recruitment Agency Expo North on the 2nd and 3rd of October 2013. Following the huge success of Recruitment Agency Expo in London over the last two years, recruiters now have the chance to network with peers and potential suppliers at a brand new, midlands-based event. Recruitment Agency Expo North will take place on 2nd and 3rd October 2013 in the Pavilion Hall at the NEC, Birmingham. Steph will be talking on the importance of creating, protecting and maintaining your reputation as a recruiter. The lines between content marketing and PR are becoming increasingly blurred – PR is no longer just about the press but about all the communication channels at your disposal. It’s not just about getting content published – it’s about getting it read and shared. Her session will look at how PR and content marketing can shape your brand – and your reputation.
Last week BlueSky PR directors Tracey and Adrian Barrett kindly treated the account executive team to lunch to celebrate our first year with the company. As we reflected on the highs and lows of an incredible twelve months, it dawned on me just much I’ve learned during my time at BlueSky. Although I had practiced many of the necessary practical skills while studying towards a degree in Journalism and Public Relations at Bedfordshire University, there is no substitute for hands-on experience. When I joined the team last year, I had absolutely no knowledge of the recruitment and HR sectors which we operate in. But after an intensive two-week induction programme, I had a great basis to begin work with the company. The in-depth knowledge of the industry which I now possess did not materialise overnight – it slowly developed through research, listening to clients and learning from the rest of the team. I’ve learned that relationships are key to success in the PR industry. Working closely with colleagues, clients and journalists is paramount to productivity. Unless we clearly understand the objectives of the people we are working with, we cannot help them to reach their targets. Communication is the cornerstone of what we do. I have also begun to see the benefits of meticulous organisation. Working hard is not enough, we need to work efficiently and work as a team. Preparation, planning and recording what we do on a day-to-day basis is essential to effective time management. And sharing ideas and working collaboratively ensures that the knowledge each of us has benefits the whole organisation. By carefully orchestrating what we do, we are able offer our clients the best possible service.
Earlier this week my colleague Hannah Jones and I attended a workshop: Social Media Content for Recruitment. The one day course - hosted by Andy Headworth from Sirona Consulting - gave an in-depth analysis on how recruiters should utilise every avenue to effectively build their online brand. Here is a quick snapshot of the topics he discussed throughout the day: Get your ‘home base’ in play first. Whether it be a blog or a careers site, your ‘home base’ is where you are directing the traffic you pick up across other platforms. So make sure it represents your brand effectively - you can lose your audience in a second. Do your homework to get to know your audience. Research what platforms they are likely to use and the relevant industry-specific keywords. You don’t have to post content across every channel. Go where your audience is. Consider your objectives. Do you want to monitor what people are saying? Engage with stakeholders? Reduce recruitment costs? Or develop on-going branding for attraction? Content for social media can be created, collated and aggregated. Fresh content is valuable but it takes time to create. Curated content (where opinion is used to enhance existing material) and aggregated content (where multiple feeds are compiled into one stream) can be just as important. But don’t look in the obvious places. If your audience wants a BBC news feed they can subscribe directly. Look at all your options. Don’t discount less obvious networks like YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and Slideshare – be creative. There are some great examples of companies that are making these networks work for them. For example Marriot Careers makes great use of its Instagram page and American consultancy PediaStaff has over 47,000 followers on its Pinterest page. Monitor social media activity. Take time to evaluate which blogs are working, which tweets are being shared and how traffic is reaching your home base. Activity indicators include subscribers, followers, page views and likes – but hard successes may include an increase in clients and candidates. Don’t forget to share. Remember, you don’t just want to distribute content – you want to push out sharable content. One blog post or article can reach an infinite number of stakeholders if it is shared effectively.
In April we offered tips on writing a press release and, this time, we’re going to look at how Pinterest can add value to your company. Pinterest, which launched in 2012, is now the third most popular social network after Facebook and Twitter, so it’s perhaps not something you should ignore. It doesn’t work in the same way as most other networking platforms as there is no direct communication. However, it is becoming increasingly popular with businesses as a new platform for engagement. So how does it work? Pinterest is an online pinboard where you can ‘pin’ (post) images and videos. These can be uploaded from your computer, you can find them online, or you can re-pin images from other pinboards. When you pin from a website, Pinterest automatically credits the original creator by grabbing the source link, so you don’t need to worry about copyright issues. As well as having an image or video, you can give a description of the pin using up to 500 characters. You can also add a ‘Pin It’ button to your website so that users can take images and put them into Pinterest. When you’re confident with using the platform, you can find out your Pinterest influence to see how many followers you’ve got, how many people have ‘Liked’ your page, and how many repins there have been. You can do this by using apps such as Pinpuff or Pinerly, and it’s a useful tool for measuring ROI. So how could you use it for recruitment?
Why do you use PR? At a&dc we are seen as leaders in the field of behavioural assessment and development, and our clients look to us for the latest thinking and research. In order to really portray ourselves as thought leaders, we feel that PR is absolutely critical. We have been working with BlueSky since September last year, and have come to rely on PR. We are now able to seek out opportunities within industry and national press, both in digital and in print, reaching a much wider audience. Social media is also important for us, and we now have a twitter following of over 500. BlueSky manages our twitter account for us, and it’s a great way of letting people know of any events we have coming up or blogs we’ve written. How do you measure ROI? We measure ROI in different ways. For example, by looking at inbound leads brought in through social media channels and articles, the number of social media followers we have and their interactions, and how many new article opportunities we have each month. Also, we look at SEO reporting on our brand terms because we recognise that digital PR has an impact in this area too.
Launched in 2010, Pinterest is now the third most popular social network worldwide after Facebook and Twitter . Unique users doubled from 2m in January 2012 to 4m in March 2012 and Public Relations is number six in the top ten audience interests. So can this fresh new platform add value to your business? You may wonder if you have the time and resources to manage another social media account but Pinterest seems to have many unique attributes. Unlike other platforms, Pinterest doesn’t allow direct contact which positions it as a ‘buzz-building’ tool rather than a direct networking device. Pinterest’s mission is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting”.