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Notes

An extraordinary advert I came across in ARN magazine (vol 18 no6 3 Apr 2013 - Australia). Despite the fact it’s a fake gun, does anyone think this is an acceptable advert? Can you imagine any publisher allowing this to run in an American magazine given recent events?

An extraordinary advert I came across in ARN magazine (vol 18 no6 3 Apr 2013 - Australia). Despite the fact it’s a fake gun, does anyone think this is an acceptable advert? Can you imagine any publisher allowing this to run in an American magazine given recent events?

Notes

Corporate Communications, Digital Age – corporate communications content for digital audiences

The sustainable future of a company is heavily dependent on how it is perceived by its stakeholders (customers, consumers, employees, investors, shareholders, community, media, channel partners, etc)

Many aspects of corporate reputation are based on the creation and communication of content, in one form or another. From internal corporate messages and annual reports to digital communications, above or below-the-line and visual branding, it all counts. Most importantly, it has to be consistent – formulated by strategic intent, underpinned by clearly defined objectives and values and communicated to target audiences through the right channels.

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[Image by Fotologic via Flickr]

INTEGRATED COMMUNICATIONS

The basics of strategic corporate communications haven’t really changed with the advent of digital and social media. There are just more opportunities to communicate… more opportunities to reach stakeholders. There are also more opportunities to get it wrong, but that’s another story.

A combination of relevant communication based on defined objectives and goals, underpinned by a consistent message, will help establish and maintain a reputation over time. Communications tools are diverse and include such as newsletters, media releases, advertising, promotional and experiential events, optimised websites (up-to-date, designed for all viewing platforms), strategic social media, blogs, video content, and more. All have to be strategically coordinated over the long-term for best effect and must consistently stick to the core message(s).

LONG LIVE THE KING

2011–2012 was a period where ‘content marketing’ became a buzz topic and demonstrated the need for regular, high quality content ‘publishing’ by brands, businesses and corporations. Content marketing is not really a new thing – have you heard the phrase ‘content is king’? – it’s just been brought to the fore following a couple of updates in Google’s search algorithm over the last couple of years – and the online benefits to be had from a good content marketing strategy.

The decline of print media remains a news story yet the rapid growth of digital media is really what’s important. New and diverse channels appear on what seems a weekly basis yet, as with all communication strategies new and old, it’s not a volume game – it’s about targeting. Online outlets, social platforms and direct digital communication services, along with analytical tools, mean it’s never been easier to get the right message to the right audience – and see results. It also seems like it’s never been harder to filter the noise and get to the core of where the relevant audience is.

WHO, WHERE, WHY

Content for digital corporate communications has to be created, or at least considered, for all stakeholders (though not all stakeholders have to be prioritised equally). The different groups will often require different information and approaches, or ‘voices’.

A key tool used in prioritising different stakeholder groups is a stakeholder map. This is a simple visual reference showing the potential impact of corporate decisions (or projects, etc) on stakeholders against the influence stakeholders have on corporate direction. (Also often based around power versus interest.)

The goal is to visually group stakeholders into four zones – ‘key players’ (need strong buy-in from these stakeholders – fully-engaging them with strategic communication is a high priority), ‘active consultation’ (high level of interest and potential to become key players – should be managed closely, but don’t bore them!), ‘maintain interest’ (keep informed to ensure engaged in a positive light), ‘monitor’ (minimum effort required, but stakeholders all-the-same so bear in mind).

The value of identifying stakeholders and mapping them accurately means the right types of communication can be planned strategically, the right content created and the right levels of engagement maintained.

IN CONTENT WE TRUST

An online audience can turn on a brand or business faster than it takes to tie your shoes. Months, years and decades of reputation can be lost in that time with the speed of online communications.

The golden egg objective for a content marketing strategy is to engender trust in the various audiences. The importance of a corporate communications content strategy can’t, and shouldn’t, be underestimated.

Notes

SPOCK IS WAC! – 10 top attributes for PR account directors

Spock by laverrue (aka Ludovic Bertron) via flickr

[Image by ‘laverrue’ aka Ludovic Bertron via flickr]

My blog is generally about content – this post is about the contents of my trade toolbox.

Here are 10 key attributes I feel are important in a good PR account director (AD). Some of these came up in conversations with other practitioners in recent coffee chats… they got me thinking.

In no particular order, then (other than to score an acronym with SPOCK in it!)…

Safe pair of hands – an AD has to be as independently accountable to agency and client as possible, with minimal oversight from seniors.

Profitability – profit, on its own and in the context of a triple bottom line approach, is critical to both client and agency. An AD needs to turn a profit and account for costs of projects and retainers and consider the sustainability of the business as a whole.

Outlook – it’s vital to be able to maintain a positive outlook in the face of difficult clients and in pressure situations. This is both a good personal attribute and a leadership skill.

Confidence – know how and when to stand firm when a client is trying to take an unadvised direction. An agency or consultant has been hired for its/their advice and experience; back yourself (but know which battles to choose).

Know your trade – ADs, and all PR professionals, need to be prolific consumers of trade news and industry thought leadership. It’s important to maintain a constant drive to learn and be as up-to-date as possible in a fast paced industry.

Instinct – for when things may be a little off-colour (it’s not always obvious). Address issues head-on whether external or internal, don’t play politics, don’t be coy. Everyone gets bent-out-of-shape once in a while and it’s not always logical, so learn how to detect and manage conflict.

Sales experience – ADs usually have a new business remit on their desks so it’s critical to be able to identify and qualify a lead, develop it and close it.

Writer – a minimum requirement in the PR trade is to be a competent writer across many styles and voices, for many channels (blogs, SEO, corporate collateral, media releases, print features, whitepapers, eDMs, and so on…). It’s become even more important in this day of ‘content marketing’ and ‘corporate media’ with brands and businesses effectively becoming corporate media companies or mini-publishers. PR company’s will be required to deliver more and more content and it has to be generated across the team.

Attention to detail – speaks for itself. It’s likely many PR practitioners have learnt the hard way when a typo or other gaffe has been published. I have.

CRM – the ‘C’ can mean a few different things (customer, company, corporate, etc), it’s the relationship management bit that’s important. Internally, PR, marketing, sales – and boardroom, finance and other departments – have to realise dividing walls have come down; there are no more silos. We all need to work for each other for the benefits interdepartmental collaboration can lead to – up-selling, leads, new business opportunities, ideas, growth… Externally, relationships have expanded and grown dramatically with the emergence of social clients and customers. All relevant and identifiable stakeholders have to be mapped out and those relationships considered in strategic ways (power/influence, opportunity/threat, etc).

 

There are, of course, many more attributes that are important for a good account director – what are yours?

Notes

Can PR professionals write anything?

That’s not to say something like a novel, but if one PR professional focuses on a niche, say the financial services sector, can that person switch to writing about a loaf of bread?

If the individual is a writer in the true sense – not just someone that ‘works in PR’ – then the answer is ‘yes’. To me, it’s a minimum requirement for all PR professionals to have the ability to write; to produce high-quality copy and content, no matter the brief, given enough time to do the necessary research.

Most of the writing I have done over the past several years has centred on the marine industry. It’s pretty technical in some cases (you have to know bow roller from stern drive, or sonar from radar, for example) but also comes with a healthy mix of consumer and luxury lifestyle.

My point of view is good copywriters (which PR people ought to be) should be able to meet most briefs regardless of their day-to-day bread-and-butter writing.

There will, of course, be extremes – hardcore science writing, for example, does require some level of scientific knowledge or understanding – but for the most part it’s not rocket science to adapt to a new language and audience (and there’s always a dictionary, thesaurus or Google to help out when needed).

Copy requirements come in all shapes and sizes. With so many different channels to communicate via today, it’s important to be able to turn the keyboard to each task and specific audience. Today’s content often has to multitask across print and digital – website copy, media releases, search engine optimised (SEO) copy, brochures, feature articles, trade/news columns, advertising copy, print and e-newsletters / electronic direct mail (eDMs), technical specs, sales copy, blogging, social media… it goes on.

A lot of print-specific copy will also make it onto digital platforms and has to be written (or edited retrospectively) for both print and online readers. Yet good feature writing for print should be written for its own audience’s journey, not with the online reader in mind.

It’s a lot easier to produce copy about something you’re interested in, of course. If your writing passion is fishing, it’s unlikely you’ll have a taste for mortgages and lending rates (although there will always be exceptions). That said, it is likely, if required, the fishing specialist could do the research and turn out quality, concise copy on financial topics.

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The marine industry revolves around technology in many ways. Even when talking about a luxury vessel, there is almost always some technology used as a differentiator. I’ve written media content for software development kits, hydrodynamic models, GRIBs for tactical software, multi-directional propulsion systems, computer-aided design, consumer electronics, maritime software – the challenge of turning complexity into simplicity is a great one, even more so when the brief includes making it newsworthy.

Does an immersion in marine technology, and the marine industry, mean I’m tied to that set of communications channels, media or language? Would the same apply to a financial services PR practitioner or a technology PR person?

I don’t think so.

Creating compelling copy is simply a matter of research – in the subject, technology, product, audience, media channels, network – and an adherence to the brief.

What do you think?

Notes

Origins

by Jamie Millar

In the beginning…

… there was uncertainty…

In the beginning…

… there was apprehension…

In the beginning…

… there was frankly too much procrastinating!

So here goes…

I’m writing a blog. I have been writing blog, website and lots of other content for clients for a while. Some clients I have advised – nagged, berated – to start a corporate blog.

Then one of them went ahead and started one. Didn’t tell me, just got on with it. Brilliant.

It’s often the case that people never practise what they preach, especially when it comes to their own occupation. Never buy a mechanic’s car, or a builder’s house, they say.

Given the number of PR and media professionals in the world – content creators, you might call them – there are not many that actually do what they say should be done.

So today I decided to get off my metaphorical arse and put finger to keyboard.

I’ve been telling clients there are several reasons to write a blog – it’s about positioning the business, or individuals within the business, as authorities on a particular subject or application within their industry or community; it’s about adding value to a targeted audience; it’s about search engine optimisation (SEO) – creating content regularly to keep Google interested; it’s about generating leads. It’s about building trust.

Are any of these reasons why I’m writing a blog? Tick – all of the above.

I read many blogs and follow quite a few ‘influencers’ and have opinions, but I have been falling short on the ‘going-out-and-getting-involved’ bit – I haven’t been joining the conversation, even though I’ve been trying to start one (albeit for other people).

Notwithstanding the fact that much content on the web has been conversational for a long time, many people fear putting self and opinion on the page; creating a target for criticism. Me too, despite counselling others to do exactly this.

So I gave it some thought, dabbled a little in LinkedIn groups and read a lot. It really comes down to having a point of view and knowing why you have it. Yet, at the same time, being open minded enough to listen to others. In this initial point-of-view and subsequent dialogue exchange, it’s hoped all participants will grow and learn. I don’t know everything there is to know, nor do I ever hope to do so, but I know a few things and have opinions on others. Mostly, I am keen to learn more through dialogue and discussion and feel I should give back as well as take from what’s out there and yet to come.

This blog will mostly be about content. That’s ultimately what I do – create content. (I do lots of other things, but that’s what it comes down to.) It’ll include thoughts on content creation, examples of what I consider good or remarkable content, observations of points of interest, comments on industries and segments I’m involved in, professional and personal areas of interest, and so on. It’ll evolve. But mostly, it’ll be about content.

So there you have it. The first content from jamiespace. Nothing groundbreaking today, but feel free to have your say or leave your thoughts and comments if you want.

Why now? No particular reason. But I went for a run today for the first time in ages, too. Have to start somewhere…