Tag Archives: B2B public relations

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.

Add to Technorati Favorites

Advertisements

Blogging: 4 Simple Steps Towards A Successful Blog…

By Nicholas Beeson – Marketing Associate, Buzzwords Manchester

In the age of social media, blogs should form the backbone of your social media marketing campaigns. The content is also valuable in its own right.

Blogs drive traffic to your website and create valuable links. Despite this, many of us forget what makes a blog successful. As a reminder, here are four SIMPLE – yet effective – tips on how to maintain a successful blog:

  • Develop a strong blogging ‘voice’

The overall style of your blog should reflect your business or brand. It should be designed to meet your overall marketing objectives. Your blog should be written in a tone that is open and credible, conversational and jargon-free. Use the blog as an extension of your website.

  • Blog frequently

For your blog to be successful, you need to add new content often. You should post at regular times to make it easier for your subscribers to follow. As a minimum, you should aim to post three new blog entries a week.

  • Avoid rambling on

Many bloggers don’t realise that the most successful blogs are very narrowly focused on specific issues and are made up of short entries. The title of your blog is also important as it helps optimise each blog post across the web. Blogs are meant to be read quickly. This should be reflected in your writing style.

  • Optimise for ‘The Links Effect’

Make sure you include relevant keywords – and add tags to match! This will help generate back-links to your website and thus help with SEO and search engine rankings. This in turn will generate traffic to provide the sales leads or other enquiries which will ultimately justify your website’s existence.

Add to Technorati Favorites

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!

Add to Technorati Favorites

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!

Add to Technorati Favorites

Marketing 101 – The Digital Marketing Question…

 Written by Nicholas Beeson – Marketing Associate at Buzzwords Manchester

The past 15 years have seen the Internet revolutionise our society. The way we communicate, shop and socialise have all changed – meaning that marketing strategies had to follow suit. Nobody could have imagined the drastic impact the Internet would have upon our lives and marketing practices. Today, there’s a whole generation of consumers who have embraced the Internet, proving early sceptics wrong.

This has led to the development of digital marketing which has been described as the “execution of marketing using electronic media”. With digital marketing becoming ever more important, many companies are ditching traditional offline marketing (or reducing how much they spend on it).

In 2008, Orange announced that they would be investing all their marketing budget in digital by 2012. A company of this size switching to digital underlines the growing importance of the medium. Sarah Messer – Head of Commercial Research and Insight at ITV – was quoted in 2008 as saying:

The same ad content could be more effective online than on TV. In testing, ads on itv.com generated a 40% recall rate compared with 17% on ITV1.”

With digital marketing becoming a predominant part of many companies’ marketing budgets, it is important to gain an understanding, keep “up to date” with new marketing practice and determine how digital marketing is affecting traditional marketing strategy. Because the practice of digital marketing is relatively new, marketers will continue to have conflicting views about the issues surrounding it.

 
Add to Technorati Favorites

Marketing 101 – Websites

Written by Nicholas Beeson, Marketing Associate at Buzzwords Manchester

It is generally accepted that online marketing revolves around having a web presence. Accessibility, communication, credibility, understanding, appearance, availability – these are all vital to successful websites. To maximise their potential, they need to work in conjunction with other online and offline marketing strategies.

Usability and accessibility are key elements for a successful website. They enable a site to be accessed by the widest possible audience and provide consumers with information and functionality they’re comfortable with. Usability is all about how easy it is for a visitor to achieve their objectives when visiting the site.

A website that provides good usability can pay dividends. If a user can accomplish their goals efficiently and effectively, it can increase website traffic, repeat visits and increase sales. The term “accessibility” in relation to the Internet, refers to the process of designing a website that is equally accessible to everyone. An accessible site enables a larger cross-section of the target audience to visit the site, thus increasing visits and sales.

For any website to reach its full potential, consumers have to be able to find the site. The majority of consumers today use search engines to find new websites. 80 percent of Internet users find new websites by typing a query into one of the major search engines. This emphasises the importance of the Internet search engines. As a result, the practice of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has been developed.

SEO is all about making a site attractive to search engine robots by presenting its code and content in such a way that its pages will achieve high rankings in response to keywords typed in to make an online search. Matt Cutts, the head of the quality team at Google was asked in an interview with wired.com “Does search engine optimization work?” – to which he replied:

It does to some degree. Think of it this way: When you put a CV forward, you want it to be as clean as possible. If the CV is sloppy, you’re not going to get an interview for the job. SEO is sort of like tweaking your CV”.

SEO is becoming ever more important, and will continue to do so as long as the Internet continues to grow. In an online study commissioned by Google, it was found SEO could increase brand recall, increase purchase intent and brand affinity.

Add to Technorati Favorites

Marketing 101 – Social Media Marketing

Written by Nicholas Beeson – Marketing Associate at Buzzwords Manchester

Social media has changed the way we interact with our friends, family, customers and colleagues. It has enabled consumers to become opinion leaders, leaving marketers only one option: to listen to their customers’ opinions.

Social media can be explained as, “The sum total of people who create content online, as well as the people who interact with one another.”

Through social media, consumers are now able to add their own opinions and content to sites. This has enabled them to form opinions between one another on social networking sites, blogs and forums. As a result, marketers have developed Social Media Marketing (SMM) which can best be described as;

‘A term used to encompass any online marketing strategy or tactic which uses social media as the medium for its communication. Further use of social media is where the marketer engages in discourse with members of the general public (potential customers) in virtual communities.’

Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are at the forefront of social media sites and, as the world knows, they are growing exponentially. Expert Larry Webster states that social networks are “Member-based communities that enable users to link one another based on common interests and through invites”.

Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all provide users with different experiences. Ultimately, however, they all give users the ability to find and connect with friends, family, colleagues etc. Social networking sites enable marketers to advertise, improve online exposure/reputation and nurture pre-existing brand advocates. Although the security and privacy that these sites provide is often questioned, they continue to grow and influence modern society.

As an example: when a US blogger called Vincent Ferrari felt that he had been insulted by an AOL customer service representative, he decided to take revenge. Ferrari posted the audio recording of the conversation online. As word spread, 300,000 listeners requested downloads of the audio file, the story was picked up by thousands of other bloggers and websites, and eventually made national news. This is a great example of the power blogs have and the true freedom consumers now have to vent their frustrations and offer opinions.

Businesses are also using blogs to add a human connection to a previously bland corporate image. Marketers have realised the importance of blogs as they can create massive exposure and also engage consumers on a personal level. Micro-blogging site, Twitter, gives business the opportunity to put out short 140-character blogs that can be just as effective as conventional blogs in moulding and influencing public opinion.

Add to Technorati Favorites