Hughes PR

Why your rivals attract more media coverage than you

Kieran Hall writes…

You’re reading your morning newspaper or checking the latest news on your smartphone over breakfast and see yet another media story featuring one of your competitors. Argh!

After kicking the cat on your way out the door, you spend the rest of the morning in a grumpy mood wondering how your competitor does it, and why journalists never seem to call you for an interview.

Securing media coverage to promote your organisation is a challenging exercise at the best of times, whether you’re targeting a major metropolitan newspaper or a TV news outlet, but there are tactics that can help. And some organisations are simply better than others at implementing them.

Firstly, do you have anything worthwhile to say? It’s an obvious question, but without anything genuinely newsworthy to say to a journalist, you’re wasting everyone’s time.

Secondly, who are you going to say it to? Sending a news release or story idea to a general admin email address that you found on a website is unlikely to generate a response, so do your research and identify a specific journalist or producer – particularly if they’ve run similar stories in the past – and personalise your pitch accordingly.

Thirdly, are you – or your company’s spokesperson – readily available for an interview or photo? And “readily available” includes right now! Journalists work to tight timeframes, so you need to be prepared to work to their schedules – not yours. The more accessible and helpful you are, the greater your chances of developing stronger relationships with reporters, and in turn, securing greater media coverage.

Also, always keep track of news and current affairs through traditional and social media, especially relating to your industry sector. This will help guide you on the type of stories the media wants – and who’s writing/presenting them – and may also prompt publicity opportunities if you’re ready to jump on relevant news topics of the day.

To that end, timing is important. For example, if the State Government is handing down its annual Budget on the day you’re planning to issue your news release – or if there’s another major breaking news story that every journalist seems to be covering – consider holding off until a quieter news period.

Finally, always be clear what your objectives for publicity are, who your target audience is and what your key messages are. And think in pictures too – a good photo or vision opportunity can often be the difference between whether a story gets a run or not, so be ready to suggest something interesting, quirky or creative when dealing with a journalist.

Ultimately, it takes a sound communications strategy and a consistent approach to maximise your publicity efforts, which will result in journalists contacting you for stories ahead of your rivals.

Hughes PR is a communications and public relations 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 blurred line

Jamie Hershman writes…

If you thought the boundary between advertising, digital and PR agencies was well defined, think again.

In the last few months Hughes has developed three client websites, shot more than 20 videos, created the social media strategy and tactics for two national consumer focused organisations and written, designed and print managed the production of three magazines, an annual report and a share market prospectus – all in-house!

None of these activities would be defined as traditional PR, but with a growing team that is as comfortable with a media release as they are with design and video production, our consultancy is being asked on a daily basis to cross the divide into the traditional advertising and digital agency space.

As a result of our own experience, we commissioned research from the University of South Australia.

In an in-depth analysis of current marketing and communications trends across a range of local industries we discovered the gap between public relations and advertising is closing, with businesses trusting their PR consultancies with the majority of their communication activities – even those that were once traditionally aligned with advertising or digital agencies.

As the digital world has evolved, businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the need for timely, credible, conversational, engaging communication delivery – the type of delivery for which public relations is known.

Key findings from the research included:

  • 50% + of SA businesses manage their communications needs via a combination of internal staff and external consultancies
  • SA marketers see PR as best placed to manage approximately 70% of the marketing mix
  • SA budgets are reflecting this support for PR with the PR spend now commanding 28% of total marketing budgets compared to just 16% five years ago.

How does your organisation manage its marketing and communication and which agencies/consultancies do you utilise to meet your communication objectives?

Hughes PR is a communications and public relations 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

Turning Ifs into Actions

Simon Hatcher writes…

Recently, I was again reminded of the benefits of long-term client relationships when Jobs Statewide won a major new government employment services contract to open 17 new offices in two states over the next few months.

 I first started working with Jobs Statewide in late 2007 when they asked for my help with managing a potential issue. I provided some advice and helped them prepare should the issue arise.

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same.

Luckily, the issue didn’t arise but unbeknown to me this early advice would lead to a now eight year working relationship.

In 2008, I started helping Jobs Statewide and its commercial recruitment and training company Excel to build its profile and engage with the community and other stakeholders more effectively.

Unfortunately, we didn’t know that less than a year later Jobs Statewide would be facing a much bigger issue when the government re-tendered the government employment services contracts under a new system called Jobs Services Australia.

Jobs Statewide lost almost all of its contract and had to reduce its offices from 11 down to two within a couple of months and make a large number of people redundant. This despite being one of the highest performing providers in Australia and helping more than 41,000 people into work.

If you can keep your head when all about you

It was then I learned of the determination and resilience of Jobs Statewide Chief Executive Officer Wendy-Jayne Williams who had built the organisation from the ground up after walking through the door as a job seeker herself.

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you

But make allowance for their doubting too

Rather than hiding in the shadows, we ramped up our communications and went out on the front foot with media and stakeholders, vowing to rebuild and remaining committed to local job seekers, employers and communities.

In her words, it’s about having self-belief.  Belief that if we could build it once then we could build it again.

This approach gained the respect of government and coupled with Jobs Statewide’s ongoing high performance won them a contract extension and a new office just a year later.

I then started working with Jobs Statewide on tender submissions to fund new training programs, employment services and pilot programs to improve government funded employment services systems.

Jobs Statewide won nearly all the funding it applied for along with new contracts to provide disability employment services.

We engaged government by meeting regularly with the Minister and Department and prepared submissions to help refine Jobs Services Australia. All were positively received.

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting

Jobs Statewide bided their time, continued to proactively engage with stakeholders and focussed on maintaining its high performance and developing systems and programs to support job seekers and employers.

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run

 In October last year, the Federal Government released its new employment services tender and again we worked with Jobs Statewide on its submission.

Then after lodging in mid-November, four months of nervous waiting began before last week’s announcement of Jobs Statewide’s big win.

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it

Congratulations to the team at Jobs Statewide for not looking back and turning ‘Ifs into Actions’.

Note: Apologies to British Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling for use of extracts from the poem If.

 

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Hughes PR

Engaging users with persuasive ‘hero image’ design

Luke Howard writes…

Print

We all know the internet is a crowded space with millions of websites, many poorly-designed, competing for the attention of users.

When people visit your website, one of the first things they see is your website’s ‘hero image’. A well-designed and relevant hero image will help your site cut through the Internet clutter and quickly win over the user, so they are compelled to keep scrolling.

Here are a few simple tips and techniques that you can apply to your website’s hero space, and some examples of sites with hero imagery done well.

High Impact
Full scale responsive images have become common place now as internet connections have sped up. Don’t be shy, and use this space to its full potential. This web site by CH Hausmann is a perfect example.

Keep it simple
Yes that old chestnut rings true again. Minimal visual elements and messages in the hero will actually raise the credibility of your brand.
The Seattle Cider Company have used nothing but a branded image, their logo and a tagline.

Great Photography
Whether it’s photography or artwork, it needs to be attractive and relevant to the user and to your brand.

Grain & Mortar have used some great personalised photography to express who they are. As you learn more about their company, you’ll discover something that’s really important to them is working with clients who get them.

Branding
This does not just include your logo. The hero image itself and all the other elements also need to speak to your brand.

The imagery used on the Adelaide Zoo website, particularly the hero images, consistently carry through a branded treatment. Light green is usually very dominant, tying in with the logo, and a spot focus is used.

Text only
These sites buck the trend by only using text in this space while keeping the large responsive image size.

See how bold this technique can be at the New Wave Company website.

Animation
Animation is powerful in telling your story, keeping the user, and helping your site stand out from the crowd.

At this point in time, animation is still a bit of a novelty in hero design. Have a look at how Dog Studio cleverly integrate it into their hero images and throughout their web site.

Bold Headings
In terms of hierarchy, making the heading stand out over your logo, main navigation and background image is a great way to maximum its impact.

Checkout how Rainmaker, a digital marketing advice website have done this.

My Predictions for 2015 web design

I believe fly-out side menus will become popular over 2015. At first you may find them jarring, as most changes to website user interfaces are. However they create a more tailored experience on mobile, not just desktop. See how the RAWNET’s web site looks on desktop and mobile to get a better understanding of this new format.

A few subtle changes to a website hero image can make a huge difference to the level trust users have in your brand and their experience on your site.

If you ever want to have a conversation about smart website design, feel free to get in contact with the digital team at Hughes.

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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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