Category Archives: Uncategorized

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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Muddy Waters plays on Chorlton railway station Manchester 1963!

Now that Metrolink trams have come to Chorlton-cum-Hardy in Manchester, discovering this video of blues legend Muddy Waters performing on the old Chorlton railway station in 1963 (Wilbraham Road for Chorltonville!) is 24-carat nostalgia!

That was the year when Lord Beeching wielded his axe to the British railway network as car ownership began to take off. Little did he know that the whole transport infrastructure would come full circle!

Thanks to Alan Ward at Axis Graphic Design in Chorlton for drawing my attention to this gem!!!

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Buzzwords PR info now on Facebook

There’s more about Mike Beeson and Buzzwords’ PR services on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mike.beeson1

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How to write a press release

Can you teach someone how to write a press release? Or is it like so many aspects of copywriting for PR, a matter of instinct and innate flair?

There’s a new page on Buzzwords’ main website outlining the main points to consider when writing a press release. Much of it is common sense. Anyone tasked with the job of writing press releases will quickly find out what’s required.

Let’s face it: the elements are simple. First, there’s a headline followed by the body copy and then finished off with contact details (and possibly some supplementary information included at the very end of the release under the heading ‘Notes for Editors’).

It’s probably more important to understand what a press release is for, and how the news you want to announce can be best presented to editors. The mechanics of what goes where in a release should be a matter of course for anyone whose work involves sales and marketing!

Top of this list is understanding that news releases are about presenting information in a clear and logical way. They are not advertising pieces which set out to persuade people to buy. In other words, the facts should speak for themselves.

It is also vital to make sure that both editors and the ultimate readers of your release have ways of making contact. For editors, this is so they can ask for more information. For the reader of the published release, they will obviously need to know who to contact for information about how to secure the services or products described in the release.

Again, this is all common sense. Tips about eye-catching headlines, including quotes in the text and summarising your message in the opening paragraphs are obviously useful. Very soon, however, these will become second nature to regular writers of press releases.

(To find out more, visit the relevant page on Buzzwords’ website. You’ll find it by clicking on the ‘Copywriting for PR’ tab on the main navigation bar.)

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PR Packages # 5 – Newsletter, Case Study & Annual Report Copywriting

This composite PR Package has the potential to deliver impressive returns by treating what is essentially the same content in different ways.

Newsletter copywriting often reflects the most obvious news stories in an organisation.  By developing the key parts of this raw material, case studies can be created which, in themselves, offer great versatility for marketing applications ranging from additional website content to mailshots to – annual reports.

Annual report copywriting is all about creating a serious document which should nevertheless reflect what drives any organisation, namely, its people.  Case studies can highlight not only the practical, technical or financial achievements of a company.  They should also include the people whose enthusiasm, commitment and know-how make company success possible in the first place.

The ‘trickle-down effect’ of news management via imaginative copywriting and PR is realised to the full by combining three major marketing disciplines into one PR Package. 

(See Buzzwords’ main website for details: buzzwords.ltd.uk/pr_packages.htm)

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PR Packages #4 – Online PR & Case Study Copywriting

The complementary aspects of Online PR and Case Study Copywriting create their own synergy by covering all the bases when it comes to newsworthy events.

Online PR can exploit the fact that most stories will be published, providing they are written well and formatted correctly.  There is also the added SEO bonus that a well-optimised and eye-catching story could go ‘viral’ and generate a large number of backlinks to your website.

Case Study Copywriting, on the other hand, adopts a more measured and reflective response to disseminating news and information.  What Case Study Copywriting shares with Online PR is that you are managing and crafting your own news in a way that will influence your company’s reputation and help in meeting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

This PR Package – #4 in a range of 5 – should be seen as a strategic marketing option to be used alongside other Buzzwords’ packages for maximum long-term effectiveness.

(See Buzzwords’ main website for details: buzzwords.ltd.uk/pr_packages.htm)

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PR Packages Option # 3 – Newsletter Copywriting & Online PR

The combination of sending out regular newsletters – online or printed – to customers, staff and suppliers, and making sure that even minor news events are hitting the online PR portals and newswires is a powerful formula for achieving ongoing communication with the groups and individuals who matter.

Newsletter copywriting can help to keep those stories flowing and your company’s activities in the public eye.  For online versions, buy in your database if you have to, but don’t forget to harvest e-mail addresses from your website at every opportunity!

Online PR can complement the flow of information with its immediacy and spontaneity as well as its longevity on the web.  And that’s before you take into account the SEO link building potential of Online PR.

As with other options in Buzzwords’ range of PR packages, there is often an overlap of information which can be exploited for seriously effective marketing results.   Online PR and newsletter copywriting are ideal partners to generate the ongoing communication that is essential for progressive organisations of all types and sizes.

(See Buzzwords’ main website for details: buzzwords.ltd.uk/pr_packages.htm)

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