Public Relations Archives - Klaxon

Engaging Journalists through Social Media

I spotted this fantastic inforgraphic from PR Agency Text100 about how to engage with journalists using social media. It’s based on a fairly small sample (72 UK journalists) but it highlights the importance of social media to the modern public relations professional.

Pleasing to see the relevance of blogs in the mix along with wikipedia, but look at google+ only scoring a 37% in terms of relevance. Interesting.

engaging jounralists infographic

What to Include in a Biography

If you are keen on speaking at conferences, it is inevitable that at some point, someone from the conference organising company will ask for your biography. After all, the company needs to be able to see your role at your present company at a glance, as well as view your background, to make sure you are a suitable speaker and a saleable asset for the conference.

It can be an intimidating task to summarise your career in a short concise paragraph, so follow our top tips on creating a digestible and easy-to-read personal synopsis.

Know the difference

It may sound obvious, but as a time-served conference producer who has been sent a lot of CVs, I thought it was best to point this out. A biography is not the same as a CV, which lists your achievements in past jobs for a potential employer. A biography is a short summary of the ‘high points’ of your career in a digestible paragraph (or three), and acts as an introduction to who you are.

Keep it short

In terms of length, here’s the simple rule; if it is too long, people won’t read it. Remember that this is not just about attracting the eye of the conference producer, this information will feature on the event website and possibly be in the conference brochure mailed out to thousands of individuals. It’s the tool that the conference chair will use to introduce you on the day. Give everyone a break and make the thing easy on the eye, no matter how many companies you’ve shone at.

The general rule of thumb is to talk about your current role at your employer, your previous roles there, then summarise the rest of your employment in a sentence. For example: prior to joining x, x had senior marketing roles at x, x and x.

Make it clear

To start your biography, it is a good idea to state exactly what your job role is, and what that entails (e.g xxx is Vice President of xxx, looking after…).

If you want to be really clever, it’s worth then tailoring your next information to the conference and what you’re going to be talking about. For example, if you are an HR executive talking about the importance of developing a learning culture within your organisation, why not state it? E.g: Starting in 2006, Richard Thomas has worked hard to forge a real culture of learning within the organisation and leads on a range of key activities centred around elearning, coaching, knowledge sharing and employee engagement.

Make it readable

Break it up into 2 or 3 short paragraphs. People are much more likely to read it looking like that than a block of text.

Add a photograph

9 times out of 10 you will be asked for your profile photograph to go on the event website, or a print brochure, or some other promotional material. Make it easy on yourself and the conference producer and add this to your biography.

Interesting extras

Spoken at anything else? Been nominated for an award? Been featured in a recent business supplement? Any other interesting info that might attract a conference producer?

A client I was recently looking to place had appeared as a resident expert on a well-known (if rather low-brow) TV programme and was somewhat reticent to mention it. However, if it is something that whets the appetite of the organiser and your potential audience, it’s worth putting down.

Due diligence

Depending on what company you work for, you may want to run your biography past the powers that be. They may want to add in a short, standardised soundbite about the organisation and will need to check that what you’ve written reflects the message that the company wants to put out there.

Keep up online

Lastly, don’t forget that these days, everyone looks at Linkedin as a first port of call when looking to see who you are. Once you’ve built your biographical masterpiece, get it straight online to make sure it reflects exactly what you want to say.

If you have any top tips for how you have created the perfect biography, please share them in the comments below.

Marketing Planning Workshop at TAGTribe’s SME2.0

On Wednesday we delivered a marketing planning workshop at TAGTribe’s SME 2.0 meeting. Working with Phil Szomsor from Citigate Dewe Rogerson we planned the session around Able Power, a London based energy brokerage firm which has spent the last 18 months proving it’s business model and is now looking for growth.

Kudos to Darren Jones from Able Power for opening up his business as a live case study. We hope you get a lot from the exercise.

The idea behind the session was to do something different i.e. not a pure play slide deck presentation, but where the whole TAG community would get something of value. I hope we have achieved this and certainly some of the feedback so far suggests it was a good exercise.

Just in case I need to reiterate the benefits of planning your marketing rather than picking ad-hoc opportunities – aside from avoiding the headless chicken trap – they include:

  • Easier to manage the performance of your marketing
  • Focus on tactics that are driving a return on investment
  • Better control of your budgets, or helping you to set a budget in the first instance
  • Reduce your costs (and increase profits)
  • Maintain sanity!

Anyway, enough of the waffle, here are the slides from the night as many of you requested.

PR 2.0 Seminar

PR 2.0 – is your communication online, on-message? was the title of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ Marketing Communications Group’s latest seminar, held on 26th November 2008.

The perils and opportunities for PR professionals are many – with social media such as Facebook, blogs, video and audio clips but most PR practitioners lay way behind, it emerged.  A show of hands revealed that less than 20% of the audience of PR professionals was up to speed digitally.

The key message from Kevin Murray, Chairman of Bell Pottinger, Matthew McKay, Head of Public Relations for BioMed Central and Tim Rowell, Digital Publisher of the Telegraph Media Group was that the internet has changed fundamentally the way PR people work.  As Kevin Murray put it, he had a ‘Copernicus’ moment when he realised that the world of media had changed.

Matt McKay, a seasoned practitioner in digital media, showed that digital techniques are not difficult to use and are not necessarily that costly – but they require trust.  A blogger is not a journalist but will need to trust you.  Don’t forget, Matt said, that anything you post on a blog or forum will be there forever so be careful.

As to journalists themselves, they are now bombarded with messages both off and online.  Tim Rowell explained that the Telegraph had shifted from analogue to digital since 2006 and is now a totally digital 24/7 news operation.  Its new integrated newsroom is the largest digital space in Europe.  Editors, picture editors, news and feature teams update the website constantly.  Good planning and the knowledge of what the journalists require are essential and the implication for PRs is more opportunity for adding a wide range of material, including video clips – but PRs must act quickly.

All in all, the seminar was a great success and will be followed by further events in 2009, which will be posted on the CIPR’s website.

Guest post written by Marianne Malone and Eugene Bacot from the CIPR’s Marcoms Group Committee.

June Reader Poll Results

The latest reader poll has just come to an end and with some interesting results. I asked my readers the question:

Should PR companies approach bloggers differently to journalists?

And the answer, most definitely yes.

73% of voters agreed that bloggers need to be treated differently. Of the remaining, 18% didn’t know and 9% were happy with traditional methods.

For me this is fairly conclusive: bloggers want to be treated differently, something both PR agents and others who want to influence bloggers should bear in mind.

Ok so for this next month I’m asking:

Which of the following direct sales tactics are most effective:

Email shots
Direct mail
Face to face

Please answer in the poll on the right hand sidebar now.

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What’s The Deal with Blogger PR?

As a blogger and a PR consultant, I’m in an interesting position. I can see how useful it is for companies to have relevant and targeted bloggers writing about their company and products. At the same time as a blogger, it’s really great to receive interesting information from PRs that will help me to write posts that add real value for my readers.

But like David Meerman Scott over at MarcomProfessional I’m a big believer that blogger relations has to be done well to work effectively. Bloggers aren’t like journalists – we are a lot more independent, don’t have set deadlines, write about what ever we like and importantly, we don’t all have a lot of resources.

As a PR professional then, what should you be doing to work effectively with bloggers. Does the standard press release work?

What about as a small business owner, how can you work with bloggers to drive a little traffic to your site, or build a little coverage, interest or awareness of something newsworthy you’ve been doing?

Step 1 – get to know your blogs.

This may seem an obvious point, but it’s strange how many people miss this step. For example, I write about marketing, blogging and web 2.0 stuff mostly, but last year I was approached by a company wanting me to trial a mobile phone and write about it on my blog. First of all, I doubt I’m reaching the right audience and secondly, when are you going to take the phone back, it’s been on my desk for almost 5 months. Had the PR read my blog, they would see that technology reviews are not really my specialism and saved themselves some time and effort. I haven’t even taken the phone out of the box.

On the other hand, a chap from Microsoft sent me some stats about the value of advertising on AdCentre versus Google AdWords which I will be writing about soon. Weloveloval also sent me the results of some research they conducted recently about the value for small businesses of advertising online vs in print. Again, perfect for me and my audience – expect to see that published soon as well.

Step 2 – identify and prioritise

Once you’ve found a handful of blogs writing on your subject area, start to prioritise those which are likely to add the most value to your PR campaign. How do you do that? have a think about:

> PageRank – this is Google’s own score for the importance / relevance of a website. It looks at a number of factors including how many other websites link to the blog – the more of these there are the more likely it will be a valuable blog. The score is available in the Google Tool Bar and goes from 0 to 10 – although there are very few sites on 10.

> Alexa Rank – this is a score that ranks roughly how much traffic websites attract. The lower the Alexa score the more traffic. As an example the BBC has an Alexa Rank of 64 which means it is the 64th most popular website on the (Google comes in at number 38). You can see then that the lower the score the more likely it is the blog gets a lot of traffic. More traffic generally equals more influence.

> Technorati – head to Technorati and search for a blog by name. You will then be able to find a score for the blogs authority – another measure of how many backlinks a blog has, again the higher the score the better.

> Participation – actually head to the site and start to look through the content. Look out for the number and quality of comments the blog receives and how engaged the blogger is with the comments. Consider whether the writing is generally positive or critical and identify if there are adverts on the site other than Google AdWords? Is there a RSS feed published and if so how many people have subscribed?

All of these factors will give you clues as to how popular and influential the blog is.

For some more ideas, head over to Brendan Cooper’s blog and read his excellent post on quick and dirty blog analysis.

Step 3 – participate

Bloggers write to air their opinions, express their feelings and often to make money. The lifeblood of a good blog is the content and the participation it drives with readers.

Once you have identified your top 10 or 20 blogs to work with, start to actually read the content. Add some comments, sign up to the blogs RSS feed, look for flickr streams and twitter feeds from the blogger and start to understand what drives them to write. This will give you a real helping hand for the next step.

Step 4 – engagement

Contact the blogger, have a conversation with them, identify if they are interested in receiving information from you and if so in what format. This doesn’t have to be particularly onerous, a quick email would probably be a good place to start, something like..

Hi Dave / Jessica [insert blogger name],

I just read your post about the use of chocolate for making a good chilli. I had no idea you could use chocolate in such a way.

I’m working with Cadbury’s and would be really interested in hearing some more about your ideas for using chocolate in innovative recipes. Would you be happy to have a chat at some stage? I would really like to keep you up to date with the latest chocolate ingredients we’re making..?

Or something along those lines…

If you are a small business, you might even offer to write a couple of posts for the blog. This is of course a little more than PR, but I for one would be happy to add a couple of guest writers to my blog every now and again.

And there you have it, a really simple explanation of how to manage blog PR / outreach programmes. Remember, the most popular blogs may not always be the easiest to influence. You really should consider reaching out to a mix of blogs, perhaps tiering them based on the factors above. Given that people read blogs in different ways to journals, newspapers or other print materials, you don’t necessarily have to reach out to the biggest blogs to make a difference. TechCrunch would be great, but a handful of other smaller blogs may make an equally impressive impact.

Of course, if you need a more robust programme, have some budget and tougher targets to reach, you could always get in touch with team Klaxon.

Some Simple PR Advice

The Daily Telegraph (a leading British newspaper) recently published a list of the top company PR blunders which makes for quite an entertaining read. Clearly inspired by the recent fiasco at Heathrow’s Terminal 5, the article includes a fantastic example of when a single executive can create havoc through bad publicity.

Formerly head of Ratners, one of the biggest high street jewellers in the UK, Gerald Ratner once famously criticised his own products during a speech at the Institute of Directors. It was picked up by all the major newspapers in the UK who either took his quote out of context, or quoted him as saying all his products were “total crap”. I believe one tabloid’s headline was actually “crapners”! This essentially rocked his business, costing it over £500m (yes roughly $1bn) and of course his job.

I don’t want to copy any of the article’s excellent examples and steel the thunder of a nice bit of writing, so head over the the Telegraph to read the full article. But for a simple bit of very good PR advice, follow the words of an old boss of mine:

if you aren’t happy seeing what you’ve said on the front page of a newspaper, then don’t say it.

Very nice advice too if you ask me.

What is Positioning?

I attended the Growing Your Own Business show at London’s Olympia today. To be honest the exhibition wasn’t great, unless you want to buy into a franchise, which by the way is an excellent route into business if you’re struggling for ideas.

Part of the show included a presentation theatre where I listened to Jeremy Martin talking about his sports drink business ‘For Goodness Shakes’. Having never seen or heard of the product or brand, it was a weak case study, although an entertaining presentation.

However, Jeremy did run a great workshop afterwards all about positioning and I want to share his ideas with you.

First of all, what is positioning? Jeremy defined it as “what your customers think your product is”, later elaborated to “what you want your customers to think your product is”. In other words, how you want to be perceived.

He used the example of Ryan Air and how its position is being like a flying bus rather than an airline. This is designed to make you more comfortable with the low price and minimal service and sets RyanAir’s place in the market place, relative to its competitors – Easyjet, BMI Baby etc.

So what can you take away from this?

Positioning is an essential ingredient of your brand promise. When you define your brand, what it looks like etc, take the step first of thinking what you want your customers to think your product is. (To be even more effective you really should identify what needs your target market has first, then identify your position). This will then help you to set the guidelines for your brand.

The Ryan Air example is good. Jeremy’s own product is positioned as a sports recovery shake, which works with his target audience. I haven’t tried it yet, but I surely will now – thanks for a good workshop Jeremy. (What a good example of the value of PR).

Public Speaking

For many of us, public speaking can be a daunting prospect. This is mainly because we don’t really have to speak to an audience that often, perhaps the occasional wedding, dinner party or company function.

However, speaking at business events can be a fantastic way of marketing your services. You only have to attend a couple of networking events to see that those who are most confident in speaking and presenting their ideas grab the lions share of attention. And those that take the step up to presenting in front of an audience, are frequently those tied up with questions from prospects and partners during conference lunch breaks.

There are lots of reasons why you should consider public speaking for your marketing programmes. Here’s a few to get you started:

1. to develop your profile as an expert,
2. to increase your sales and partner network,
3. to gain FREE publicity in industry press and journals,
4. to reach targeted audiences,
5. to raise awareness of your company and its products / services.

And many more.

But you need to be clear about what you want to achieve before you get started. As with any marketing & PR programme, careful planning at the outset can increase the impact of your campaign. For example, do you want to reach companies that might be potential customers, or would you like to influence the investment community to help raise finance? Both can be achieved with careful planning, good research and a proactive approach to finding opportunities to speak.

Once you’ve started to secure speaking opportunities, you need to ensure you can deliver an effective presentation. For this, there’s no substitute for training and practice and more you do it the better you’ll get. Don’t be put off by nerves the first few times, this really will improve with time. There are lots of resources for speaking tips, just search on Google or visit your local book shop and you’ll find numerous.

If you want help identifying speaking opportunities, then you can engage a speakers bureau to do some of this work for you – although these mainly support celebrities or well known business gurus. If you want help for your business, then either contact me or your PR agency who may be able to help.?