Category Archives: PR agency

Why New PR Agencies Thrive in a Recession

I’ve just been reading in PR Week about the wisdom or otherwise of starting up a PR agency in a recession. Hmmm, I think I’ve come across this theme before, probably in 1991 – or was it 1982?

The story goes something along the lines of: new agency is keen to build a credible client base by offering rock-bottom rates.  The clients they’ve targeted are only too happy to benefit from high calibre PR expertise at recession-busting prices.

This does of course make perfect economic sense.  I would also venture that start-ups bring more to the table than low prices to sustain their initial appeal and keep their more established competitors at bay.

The hunger to prove a point probably gives a new agency a head start with things like client service and innovative problem solving.  Fresh ideas are priceless and if PR creativity is called for, then start-ups will be more likely to tick all the boxes. 

There’s a danger that complacency may set in with typical client-agency relationships.  Some would argue that this is a comfortable environment in which personal chemistry can thrive.  Others might say that no-one wants to rock the boat when all standard PR procedures are being followed.  A new agency, on the other hand, has a blank canvas on which to introduce a raft of new ideas and follow them through with enthusiasm.

For this is the life-blood of any new business.  Enthusiasm will carry all before it when sustained and supported by true expertise and service.  The new agency’s stock will soar when everything is going well.  Needless to say, the initial rock-bottom fees will take on a value-for-money aura that no other agency can hope to shift.

There’s an intrinsic momentum with a new PR agency, a self-perpetuating energy that harnesses business opportunity with a need to succeed.  The fact that they’re operating against a backdrop of economic recession lends the whole process its own unique frisson.

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Press Releases: Four Simple Ways to Make Sure Yours Stand Out

By Nicholas Beeson, Marketing Associate, Buzzwords Manchester

Editors get hundreds of press releases a week – and most of them bite the dust. Why should this be? It’s obviously important that your release is professionally written. More important, however, is your content. This will be the decider when it comes to whether your release is read and used.

To save you from the agony of rejection, here are four simple ways to make sure your press release stands out from the crowd and that it is actually published:

  • Make sure the subject of your release is relevant to the readership of the publication

Sounds obvious, but many people forget this. The information and story in your release need to be important to the publication’s readership, and not just to your business.

  • Don’t use your press release as a means of free advertising

Editors are wised-up to companies using press releases as free advertising, and can distinguish a genuine press release from ‘advertising in disguise’. Trying to use press releases as a means of free advertising will almost certainly see your release in the bin. Press releases do provide a great means of publicity, but write your publicity to give news or information only.

  • Short and simple is key

Editorial space is limited, meaning your release needs to be short and to the point. Write clear and concise sentences using only the important, relevant information. Avoid jargon, repetition and create lively text that is relevant to the publication’s readership.

  • The release should be able to stand on its own

If you feel a cover letter – or e-mail – is needed to explain why you have sent the press release or why it should be published, then the release isn’t good enough in the first place. Editors should want to publish your press release, so there’s no need to bother with a letter or explanatory e-mail.

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Five Reasons Facebook Groups Are Still Important

By Nicholas Beeson, Marketing Associate, Buzzwords Manchester

Only a few years ago many businesses relied solely on Facebook groups to promote and market to their Facebook audiences. Many businesses have simply overlooked the power of groups since business pages were introduced.

Groups can still work well when you want to take quick action around a current issue, and are still often used to rally people around causes or current events. These are the five reasons why Facebook groups are still important:

  • Getting the message across

Sending messages to group members is very powerful because Group messages are sent directly to members’ inboxes, just like messages from a friend. Facebook pages restrict you from doing this, only allowing page updates!

  • Organising events

Groups are a great way to organise events and they also the give you the capability to message attendees. Group content is also now included in the Facebook Newsfeed, something once exclusive to Pages. This is a major factor in retaining members and driving engagement.

  • Time

Groups can be grown quickly, perfect when time is not on your side. Bulk invites to join a group can be sent to friends, which can also be helpful for viral marketing.

  • Control

Facebook groups provide you with much more control over who can be allowed in and out of your group! Groups can be made exclusive to certain networks; they can be private so they are only visible to members or available to all Facebook members. The control that groups provide can be helpful when creating a subsection of your page.

  • The personal touch

Facebook groups generally create a more personal feeling. They allow for close interaction with the administrator of the group, unlike a more anonymous page. Many find this personal interaction to be a welcome bonus in what can often seem like an impersonal digital age!

 
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The PR Agency – And New Turks on the Block!

The latest edition of PR Week magazine features an article about PR agency structures. On the face of it, that may seem like the most boring topic in the world. For anyone in the agency business, however, it’s endlessly fascinating!

We all know that the media and marketing landscape has changed dramatically in the past few years. It’s interesting to ask how PR agencies have responded in terms of their structure and operational approach. It also begs the question: has there been any NEED to change PR agency business models?

If we’re talking here about the rise and rise of social media, another more apposite question might be: have agency people got to grips with the new social media and digital marketing age?  All the changes in the world that are made to ‘structures’ won’t affect anything if PR agency people are ignorant about the new Turks on the block.

Now, if new structures (or new business models) are devised that accommodate new-age media and marketing, then we may be getting somewhere.  If, on the other hand, there’s some nebulous shifting of deck-chairs along the lines of ad agencies (or even, god forbid, along the lines of responding to client needs!), then a lot of people are surely missing the point. 

Effective responses to change reside in people – not structures.  Flattened corporate hierarchies went a long way in recent decades towards liberating the energies of workforces across many sectors.  The beauty of the agency world – PR, advertising, design, marketing and the rest – is that traditionally they have been small enough to avoid the fug of ‘corporateness’.

By virtue of being ‘small’ (in corporate terms), agencies tend to be flexible, creative and adaptable.  Trying to apply business school organisational theory to agencies runs the risk of destroying the informal structures that made them so effective in the first place.

It will always make sense, of course, to look at how companies of any description are organised.  Getting the most out of people and other resources is the driving force behind business progress.

As far as PR agencies are concerned,  that needn’t involve structural change.  Rather, the issues are about individual mind-sets and effective leadership that will embrace change and run with it – hopefully into the arms of grateful clients. 

Who in the agency world can honestly say they know where social media is taking us?  Some will have a good grasp of the impact social media has already had and the changed context that the digital marketing world has created.  What no-one can foresee is where it’s all heading.

Less than 20 years ago, search engines weren’t on anyone’s radar.  Five years ago or so, the likes of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn were marketing unknowns.  What will happen in the next ten years – and the impact it will have on marketing – is almost impossible to predict. 

Changes made to agency structures now may be obsolete or, even worse, hopelessly inefficient in five or six years time.  The best way to respond to change is to keep things informal and generate a culture of  awareness and responsiveness to the kaleidoscope of  ideas, technology and techniques that are no doubt spooking ‘traditional’ agencies in 2011.

It’s right that people in the PR industry are questioning the status quo.  Change can be a threat if it’s not addressed.  With the appropriate responses, however, it can present new worlds of opportunity.  Age-old arguments about whether PR people should be ‘generalists’ (for which, read: G & T-tainted dilettantes) – or specialists in areas such as social media, web development or video obviously raise questions about how people-skills are organised within agencies.

Yes, we know that these skills go down in the lift every night.  PR is a ‘people business’.  Not surprisingly, though, people don’t respond well to the heavy hand of ‘structural engineering’, particularly when it constrains their creative side. 

Surely, a more productive approach would be to focus on individual development, ‘training’ if you will.  In an age where the rate of change is accelerating beyond belief, constant skills appraisal and injection (not the more complacent-sounding Continuous Professional Development!) should be a bigger priority than changing job titles, departments and command chains.

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How to Optimize your Facebook Page in 3 Simple Steps

Buzzwords' Facebook page

By Nicholas Beeson, Marketing Associate at Buzzwords Manchester

To get the most out of a Facebook page, you need to gain members. In order to do this, some basic SEO skills can be applied. Optimizing your Facebook page will enable it to be found on both Facebook and the World Wide Web!

Believe it or not, Facebook pages are indexed by search engines and can even be viewed by those without a Facebook account. Facebook pages also have the potential to rank highly!

Ranking well on Facebook’s internal search is even more important, as those searching for your brand or business on Facebook know what they want and will be able to find it with ease!

3 simple steps
To begin optimizing your page so it ranks well on both organic and internal searches, follow these 3 simple steps:

1. What are you about?

The “About” box is one of the most undervalued elements of a Facebook page. The “About” box provides you with a platform to add keywords that can tell customers and search engines what your page is about! The box also allows you to add clickable links that can direct customers back to your company’s website or any other related sites.

2. The category you place yourself in is vital

When deciding on the category in which to place your page, be careful. The category affects what you can add to your info, and how much you can add! When completing the info section, use lots of key words and add links to all of your related sites including your company website, blog, LinkedIn and Twitter.

3. Choose an appropriate URL and page name

When choosing the page name, make sure it is related to your organisation and easily visible to those searching for you. Once you have gained 25 ‘likes’, create a unique URL that is memorable and related to your brand!

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PR and the simple art of zapping your competitors

By Nicholas Beeson, Marketing Associate at Buzzwords Manchester

If you thought PR was mainly about providing a bit of background noise while your other marketing activities did the ‘real’ business, think again! More and more companies are realising that PR is a powerful and cost-effective way to achieve a wide range of business aims – and that all-important competitive advantage. Here are just five reasons to go for it:

1. Times are changing – and so is marketing effectiveness
For a variety of reasons, many companies have found that certain ‘old favourite’ marketing tactics have declined in effectiveness over time. Direct mail is a great example of a traditional marketing technique that has declined in recent years. Printing and postage costs continue to rise, yet response rates have dropped. When current marketing tactics are failing, it may be worth adding PR to the equation. PR can generate significant returns and the odds are you’ll see some impressive synergies when used with other marketing communications tools.

2. Get yourself noticed – it’s not before time!
If your competitors are continually getting media attention and leaving you unnoticed, it’s time PR was introduced into the equation! Conducting an ongoing PR programme will increase your company’s chances of featuring in the media, as editors (and potential customers) will now be thinking of you – not just your competitors.

3. PR helps you compete with the ‘big boys’ of marketing
Your competitors may be more established, and have bigger budgets than your company, but PR can level the playing field! With PR in your arsenal, creative thinking can deliver big gains in valuable media coverage.

4. Marketing budgets have been cut
The current economic climate has seen many businesses cut their marketing budgets. With marketing costs increasing annually, a more cost-effective marketing technique needs to be introduced. PR is cost-effective and can achieve equal or better results than paid advertising.

5. You enjoy the media spotlight!
Finally, if you enjoy media attention, put your natural enthusiasm to work. Launch a PR campaign that will generate measurable results for your company and your products!

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Who’s Driving the Social Media Bandwaggon?

The slightly opportunist stance of GolinHarris in announcing its new, flatter agency structure shouldn’t obscure the fact that PR and marketing services are undergoing a major sea-change at the hands of social media and the ongoing online revolution.

Who cares how a PR agency organises itself?  Even its clients shouldn’t be too concerned – providing the end result is a better service.  We can only assume that something along those lines was behind the GH announcement! 

Of course, revolutions spark some big changes.  Some would argue that it’s inevitable PR agencies will wrestle with their own internal response to the rise of social media, and everything else that goes with consumers and clients grabbing the marketing initiative.

Others would say that, ultimately, agencies will have no choice but to respond in the most optimal ways available.  Juggling with staffing structures, departmental responsibilities and individual skillsets is something that any responsible and responsive service sector consultancy will do (or should do) as a matter of course.

In the PR industry, change has never been as dramatic or as sustained as it has been over recent years.  With change comes opportunity, especially for the fleet of foot.  It could be argued that publicly announcing just how ‘fleet’ you really are is a shrewd new-business move calculated to attract clients who may feel they’re on the receiving end of some serious inertia as far as their existing agency is concerned!

Being seen to be pro-active will always contribute to PR success.  Responding to the ways clients and markets can be reached by co-ordinating social and digital media with ‘traditional’ PR skills is a sensible route to take when your competitors may be struggling to understand what is happening in their hitherto stable world.

And yet, making changes in response to market needs by shifting accountability, job labels or responsibilities may be too premature when the full implications of ultra-new media are still throbbing their way through every marketing channel. 

Whilst it’s probably better that even an embryonic response is better than no response to the demands of market complexity in an ever-shrinking global village, there’s a danger that the diversity of recent reaction among some of the bigger PR agencies will, in the end, be self-defeating.

 
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