Hughes PR

Battle of the brands – Top Gear v. BBC

Catherine Bauer writes…

Living in a house with four males as I do, I am keenly aware of the hugely popular and internationally successful British TV motoring program, Top Gear.

It’s a multi-million dollar brand for the BBC and despite my personal lack of interest in cars, over the years I’ve come to enjoy the format and its trio of presenters – James May, Richard Hammond and the just sacked, widely described as “colourful” and often politically incorrect, Jeremy Clarkson.

My family and I sit down regularly to watch the program and we all get something different out of it. That’s why it’s been such a hit – it has very broad appeal.

However, despite the show’s generation of $93 million in revenue for the BBC, its executives have sacked Clarkson, who went too far earlier this month and allegedly had a physical altercation with a program producer over lack of hot food at the end of a long day’s filming.

While the BBC clearly had no option but to act, it surely spells the death of the Top Gear brand? A bitter pill for the BBC – as well as Clarkson and his co-hosts. (No doubt they will cry all the way to the bank.)

The issue raises a variety of important questions and when it comes to PR and brand-reputation management, you can bet the BBC comms staff have being doing loads of overtime together with the legal and executive team.

Will the show go ahead? How can it without a key part of the team? Should the BBC continue with the brand after such a degree of damage? Has the BBC killed one of the geese that laid the golden egg and will any demise of the show lead to even more lucrative offers for the show’s presenters from a rival network?

Clarkson may have elements of the “lovable larrikin”, the slightly eccentric rogue who speaks his mind and won’t be censored.

But at the end of the day, the BBC as an employer and broadcaster had no alternative than to cut him loose, even though the program is a valuable commodity and Clarkson, a valuable star.

And, in my view, it was the right decision. The BBC’s brand – like any brand – relies on the values and culture of the whole organisation including its people, products and behaviours being aligned internally and consistently projected externally.

To condone behaviour which conflicts with that brand position not only undermines all those who work for the BBC but also those who interact with it – not least of all its audience.

It’s a valuable reminder to us all that a brand is much more than a logo – it’s a reputation earned over a long period of time by a set of behaviours which deliver consistent experiences. It is the therefore the responsibility of all leaders to demonstrate and protect their organisational values and imbue their team with them.

Sorry to see the “car crash” Top Gear has become – but in the end, the BBC’s decision is one we at Hughes would endorse.

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Hughes PR

Beyond the findings of market research

This month our guest bloggers are UniSA marketing graduates Sam Lim and Olivia Aitken. Late last year, the pair conducted a research assessment with Hughes PR to ascertain ‘Who holds the balance of power in the current marketing and media landscape?’ Their blog about learnings from the project and the process is below…

Having staff with the skills and experience to conduct effective research is vital to any organisation. It can make or break the direction and strategy pursued by an organisation.

As part of our final year project of UniSA’s Marketing and Communications degree, we were assigned to investigate shifts in dominance of different types of marketing service agencies and the value added by each in managing a brand’s reputation.

During this project, we learned a number of key lessons that were just as valuable as the findings of the research itself.

1. Planning and preparation isn’t everything

Effective research begins with knowing the scale of the issue, the tools within your reach to gather the data, and setting realistic goals. The weekly seminars with Dr. Karen Nelson-Field – our coach and supervisor enabled us to understand this.

We understood the primary and secondary research required, and had a plan to obtain it. We also knew to allow plenty of time to prepare our survey questions. We didn’t understand that things will not always go as planned.

Not procuring the appropriate respondents for face-to-face surveys; errors in the wording and structure of our surveys; and technical issues with our online survey software, were all hiccups that we encountered along the way that prompted a big, fat headache!

The contingencies we continuously developed were even more crucial than our research plan.

The contingencies and opportunities that we seized included:

• Use LinkedIn as a key tool to engage targeted respondents when existing networks are not enough;
• Attend industry events along the way with key clients and other agencies to meet the right individuals to aid in making the research more effective;
• Play by the rules of ethical research, but take advantage of the position that you are in, as a student or inexperienced researcher.

2. Build trust at every stage

Working with the Hughes PR team was close to a breeze. From Tim as the Managing Director to Graphic Designer – Luke, each of the staff had a thorough understanding of what we were trying to achieve and assisted us to reach our goals.

It was important for us to remember that Hughes was our biggest stakeholder, so we had to share our thoughts and ideas with the team and get their input as well, in order to bring about confidence in our work.

3. Trust your data and findings, and pitch your recommendations with conviction

It is easy to doubt the numbers on the survey dashboard and the audio from interview recordings, but the data does not lie.

It was important for us to understand the limitations of the research, but also to have faith in the findings.

We prepared for our research presentation and considered a number of different ways to make the audience more receptive to our findings. We included a group task and a delicious treat for the audience!

I believe the extra effort to involve the Hughes team in our research project up to and including the final presentation was the major reason we were able to learn so much about the industry in such a short space of time. It was also a critical factor in leaving a high quality impression on the team.

And, for those of you wondering how we did on the assignment… we got a High Distinction!

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Hughes PR

The digital festival experience – has it taken the madness out of March?

Belinda Scott writes…

Roll up, roll up! Come and see the mystical and magical city of Adelaide come alive! Watch our borders burst with performers, spectators and proud South Australians or ‘Radelaideans’ as we host a series of events and festivals throughout ‘Frantic February’ and ‘Mad March’.

garden

South Australia’s festival season is jammed packed full of spectacular (and sometimes, not so spectacular) events which every year has me thinking, where on earth do I start?

Many conversations during this time of year quickly turn to which Festival acts are on the agenda based on the reviews we’ve seen and read online. Gone are the days where I would gather my mountain of programs and start exploring the pages to find the essential ‘must sees’ for the festival season. Now I turn to online tweeps, Instagram fans and Facebook friends to get the lowdown.

So why are people turning to digital channels for events?

The age of social media and the advent of smartphones in recent years, means everyone has the power to broadcast their real-time experiences and this is particularly prevalent in the events sector. WOMO (aka word of mouth) is huge online.

The power of word of mouth has always played a fundamental role in business, especially in show business with artists and event organisers engaging close-knit social media communities by tapping into trending hashtags to drive event numbers, hosting exclusive VIP event previews, and driving content through buzzing social media channels.

On the flip side, mobile phones and social media have drastically changed the way audiences interact with artists in the lead up to and at events, and perhaps even more importantly, with fans who aren’t physically present.  I know I’m often guilty of ‘gramming’ my moment-for-moment event experience because let’s face it, if it wasn’t on Instagram, it never happened (jokes).

Every act visiting our city this year, whether small or major, will have a plethora of digital platforms to provide a human face to meet fans expectations and help turn digital conversations into hard dollars, tickets!

Just take a look at the platforms available for the annual Adelaide Fringe  – You can Like Adelaide Fringe on Facebook, Follow @Adelaide_fringe  on Twitter and @adlfringe on Instagram (Don’t forget the hugely popular #ADLFringe), watch videos on YouTube, download the free 2015 Adelaide Fringe app via iTunes, plus get the latest reviews on the Principal Partner Bank SA’s Talk Fringe website. Not to mention the number of platforms for Fringe precincts such as the Royal Croquet Club (#RoyalCroquetClub), Garden of Unearthly Delights (#GOUD15), Gluttony (#Gluttony15), and The Big Slapple at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

Each channel has its own engaged community discussing and sharing their event experiences, providing users with first-hand feedback and direct access to the event organisers and artists.

Businesses are built on word of mouth and like any good event, the better you perform online – the bigger the standing ovation!

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Crisis management, Hughes PR

Act before the crisis hits…

Jamie Hershman writes…

Australian businesses spend millions of dollars every year marketing their products and services, but in comparison, how much is actually spent on “insuring their reputation” with an issues management plan in case of a crisis?

Businesses need to be proactive in taking preventative measures to avoid a crisis, and be prepared in case one strikes. But that’s the hard part. It’s a bit like writing a will or taking out life insurance. Most of us don’t want to think about it.

However, if a crisis does occur, it need not be fatal. Indeed, if handled well, it can actually enhance the reputation of the organisation.

Businesses often can’t avoid an issue or crisis, but they can plan for it.

The best thing an organisation can do is to honestly examine the way it does business – find the actual weaknesses and potential threats in the organisation and the industry. Once the issues are known, scenarios can be developed. E.g. What if our oil refinery leaked oil into the sea? What if our products were sabotaged and a customer died? What if someone was injured or killed on our manufacturing line?

While the specific responses to each scenario will vary, the strategy should hinge on being as open and honest as possible – ensuring accurate information is disseminated regularly and any incorrect information in the marketplace is corrected quickly.

In a crisis there are a lot of bases to cover – and they need to be covered quickly and effectively. Having a plan, and testing it regularly, ensures that everyone knows what the processes are and when to apply them.

Building a positive brand and protecting it is vitally important for the success and longevity of an organisation. It means doing all that’s expected – by customers, shareholders, staff, regulators and the general public – so that, ideally, no issue or crisis arises. Or if it does, then there is a spotless history and reputation on which to draw for the defence and ultimate survival of the business.

Rules for crisis management communications:

1. Plan for a crisis
2. Listen for the ‘warning signs’
3. Don’t hide if a crisis arises
4. Own up to the issue
5. Offer solutions, not excuses
6. Be honest
7. Talk to employees – they are the best asset in a crisis
8. Be upfront with customers
9. Proactively inform the media before they find out from other sources
10. Create an ongoing and open dialogue with all stakeholders throughout the issue

To develop your crisis management plan, or to assist with an emerging crisis contact Hughes PR.

Hughes Public Relations, based in Adelaide, South Australia, is a communications and PR consultancy with proven and extensive experience in publicity and media relations, issues management, crisis management, digital media and social media strategy and implementation, community consultation, event management, media training, publications and strategic problem solving. Find out more.

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Hughes PR

The Intern’s view: experiencing the real thing

Tom Fitzgerald writes….

‘The power to influence action and opinion’- the first lesson of my internship at Hughes PR.

Tom FitzgeraldFor four years I have called The University of Adelaide home. As great as the years of skimming through textbooks, cramming for exams and sleeping through 8:00 am lectures were, I can now see myself moving on to greater and more exciting things.

Hughes PR has given me the fantastic opportunity to experience Public Relations from a perspective tertiary education cannot replicate. I can now safely say regurgitating 500 words on the intricacies of Pavlov’s dog will not help me with life after Uni.

Experiencing active engagement with genuine clients who desire PR and marketing assistance has been phenomenal. It perplexes me that internships are still not deemed compulsory for my university course. I have collaborated with fantastic people and learnt more than I ever imagined.

I happily propelled myself into two weeks of writing, filming, attended new product launch meetings, social media training sessions and general public relations discussions with the team. I also assisted in developing case studies and blogs for organisations, such as the Adelaide Convention Centre.

Each activity reiterated the importance of possessing a vibrant PR and communications strategy. That successful PR could not only be used to add value to our clients businesses, but it also dramatically improves the effectiveness of their communication efforts and enhances their organisation’s reputation.

PR is far more than crisis control – one of my pet peeves is the public perception of PR being the simple management of ‘when things go wrong’. A successful PR strategy must encompass the continuous monitoring and adjusting of public opinion in order to avoid a crisis and ensure optimum operation. PR is a multi-platform tactic in which one must adopt the strengths of social media, print media and promotional material.

I struggle to highlight a stand-alone high-point of my time at Hughes PR – whether it was having coffee with extravagant South Australian billionaires or accidentally procuring a ticket to the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) annual Christmas party for drinks with the Boss, I thoroughly enjoyed it all.

The Hughes PR staff have been extremely welcoming and made me feel like an important part of their team. I am certain the invaluable skills and knowledge I have secured at Hughes PR will assist me well into my future career.

Kieran Hall, Tom Fitzgerald Aaron Richards and Tim Hughes (3)

Hughes PR Senior Consultant Kieran Hall, Tom Fitzgerald, Aaron Richards and Hughes PR Managing Director Tim Hughes at the Gilbert Street Hotel for the PRIA Christmas event.

Hughes Public Relations, based in Adelaide, South Australia, is a communications and PR consultancy with proven and extensive experience in publicity and media relations, issues management, crisis management, digital media and social media strategy and implementation, community consultation, event management, media training, publications and strategic problem solving. Find out more.

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