One of the biggest challenges facing PR pros and marketers is how to keep content fresh so that it appeals to the media and target audiences.

Here are some top tips on how to freshen up content:

Plug into Hot Topics: News jumping or news jacking is one of the best ways to keep your content current. Take a look at your key messages and active marketing campaigns as well as topics your subject matter experts are well-versed in and then ask yourself, could you connect it to what’s happening in the world right now? For example, ransomware and cyberattacks continue to be a hot topic as the one-year anniversary of WannaCry recently passed. There’s a renewed news cycle about what companies learned from the WannaCry experience and what can be done to prepare, respond to and increase their security efforts to protect technology assets.

Make a Seasonal Connection: Think creatively about how you can tie your content themes to the current season. People enjoy reading information that’s current and relatable so if you can make a connection to them, and the season or date, you’ll be better able to engage more with your readers. For example, take the recent World Cup 2018 – could there have been an opportunity to connect what you do to it? Mobile carriers could have provided data about how much texting happened during certain matches or a retail company could have shared the number of team kits (jerseys) sold per country.

Share Expertise with an Educational Focus:  All too often content creators turn valuable communication vehicles like blogs and other mediums into a sales promo and miss the opportunity to highlight the value of what their own industry experts can share with their audience. When you approach content creation from the standpoint of helping your audience better understand the value of working with your company, it results in increased credibility and establishes trust.

Sharing useful tips, creating guidebooks and dispensing advice on how to address problems or pain points are incredibly helpful to your audiences and more likely to appeal to the media as they aren’t a blatant sales promotion. Can you turn your latest ebook into a guide to addressing a market need rather than promoting the latest, greatest product in your portfolio? It could then become a valuable tool for your PR team to secure media opportunities for your industry experts to be quoted as credible sources about this topic.

Just like strawberries always taste best when they’re fresh and in-season, your content will resonate and be more effective if people can connect what you’re doing in the marketplace with what is of interest to them both personally and professionally.

We’d welcome the opportunity to help you create fresh, engaging content. Contact us Rahme Mehmet at rmehmet@techcomms.co.uk.

 

 

Perhaps you’re on the fence about whether or not to hire a PR agency partner. You know in theory it’s a good idea, but the amount of budget you need for it is harder to justify when there’s no guarantee it will be an effective complement to your marketing communications program.

Here are four reasons that can take the ‘in theory’ out of the equation and help your organisation build a leadership position in your market.

Boost your reputation. Reputation is everything these days and there is no more effective way to build and manage a positive reputation across all communication channels—print and digital—than with a strategic PR program. The essence of PR is all about supporting a company’s efforts to make a good and lasting impression with the audiences they are trying to communicate with and reach.  In a world where one misstep can cost a brand dearly, securing and maintaining a favourable reputation is priceless.

 

Support sales. There’s a lot of noise out there and more companies competing to garner attention and stand out amongst a sea of sameness. Your sales team needs extra support to find opportunities and to pave an easier path to getting a prospect interested in what you have to offer. PR is an effective tool for getting your company’s name out there in the industry and building a thought leadership position so the next time your sales team approaches a prospect, that prospect may at the very least have heard of you and this gets you one step closer to winning them over as a new customer.

 

Educate the marketplace. We all know you cannot just put a statement on your website or in a social post and expect it to resonate and matter to your audiences. The claims you make about a product or technology need to be rooted in something and PR can help drive this messaging by showcasing how customers are using your offerings to succeed. PR can also be used to secure  opportunities for your experts to share the value of what you do with reporters writing about trends and news features where you can contribute. These placements tend to be more trusted by people and aren’t a sales pitch so they can play a significant role in making your company credible while educating audiences about the value of what you do.

 

Build brand awareness. Yes, advertising and attending industry events are helpful for building brand awareness. But PR can take it to another level and do it cost-effectively. If your PR program is based on thought leadership and credible information sharing, your brand awareness will grow exponentially and you will be a perceived as a leader in your industry. PR is often a more targeted, affordable approach to building up a brand.  

If you’re interested in learning more about how PR can help your company grow and communicate more effectively with your key audiences, we’d love to chat with you. Contact us at rmhemet@techcomms.co.uk.

True: It is summer holiday time. False: No PR work is getting done. It wasn’t always the case, but in a world that is always on 24/7 there isn’t a slow news cycle phenomenon anymore. In fact, there are now more opportunities to share news and garner news placements than ever before. 

This time of year is also valuable for planning. In order to finish the fiscal year strong, work should begin on communication materials to support the big campaigns that will carry you through the fall and winter holiday season. The further in advance you have strategic discussions and coordinate activities the more likely your PR campaigns will be successful.

If things do happen to feel a bit slower, take advantage of this time to re-visit PR ideas that had to be pushed to the back burner because other things took precedent. Running a PR campaign via social channels or hosting a twitter chat feel less time intensive when your to-do list isn’t so long.

And creative PR campaigns are extremely well-received during this time of year. For example, a campaign focused on providing tips to IT departments to avoid “sweating” about IT concerns during the summer and it garnered a lot of placements in their target media outlets and created positive awareness for their brand. The campaign was timely and seasonal and the media was more receptive to the engaging content.

While we definitely support everyone taking a holiday and enjoying the summer season, we can attest to the fact that our team keeps the PR fires burning brightly for our clients all through the summer months. We’d love to get working for you. Contact us on rmehmet@techcomms.co.uk

The benefits and downsides of flexible working has been debated for years. As long-time converts to the joys of managing work routines around life’s priorities, it was pleasing to see a spate of recent research confirming what we at TechComms already know to be the joys of flexi-working.

Timewise’s report, A Talent Imperative, supported by EY Flexible Working, showed that 25% of all full-time workers would prefer to work part time for less wages, if it was not detrimental to their pay per hour or career progression.

Also extolling the virtues of flexi-working, was the Exodus survey carried out by Investors in People, which found, unsurprisingly, that flexibility in employment, such as working remotely, was more important to workers, than having a 3% pay rise. The survey also found that almost half (47%) of employees were intending to find a new job in 2018, a lower figure than last year which saw 59% of respondents actively seeking new employment. Surveys now regularly find that being offered flexible working is a more preferred option to a pay rise nowadays.

More recently, there was a Powwownow report, showing the number of employees who favour flexible working is rising – up to 75% from 70% the previous year. The same survey echoed the Exodus survey results, revealing a third of respondents would prefer flexible working to a pay rise, while a FlexJobs survey of 1,200 parents in the US highlighted that 84% think that work flexibility is the most important that they consider when looking for a new job.

From a personal perspective, there are the obvious benefits from working in the confines of a home office, including peace, quiet and no disruptions from office workers or work telephones ringing making your working time all the more productive. With the proliferation of cloud technology, collaborations tools and faster broadband speeds, it has become even easier to set up a home office or work remotely, from a local coffee shop with WiFi or MiFi for example.

At the same time, many companies, from SMEs to large corporations have implemented the technology and working practices, to enable people to work as effectively from home as they would in the office.  And the benefits speak for themselves.

Not only do technology advancements mean that many roles can be just as effectively and seamlessly conducted whilst working from home or on the go – think checking and responding to work emails while travelling abroad or at an off-site meeting – they also mean that any possible absenteeism is reduced. Many workers nowadays assume that work flexibility is a part of their job and this flexible working cuts out, or at least minimizes, the need to commute thus providing a more effective use of time.

Flexible working also ensures employees (self-employed or otherwise) are better motivated and more productive. Providing remote working as part of a package is a highly regarded plus for an employee looking for greater flexibility.

Let’s not forget there are also downsides for the worker and employer though.  

Unless you are Ernest Hemingway, or any writer who seeks solitary confinement, to get the creative juices flowing, the individual worker has to adapt to a new way of working. Getting used to a new working culture will present teething issues. For someone who has always worked in teams – making the move to working for yourself or away from an environment where you are seeing office colleagues every day, can take some getting used to. A better balance for some employees would be a combination of working remotely alongside set days in an office, to meet with colleagues and friends each week.

So, this cultural shift isn’t for everyone. But when it works, it’s a boon for anyone wanting less-stress and more freedom to manage work-life balance.

For the employee, implementing technology and ensuring it is compliant with security protocols is a headache. There are costs involved. The good news is many online collaboration tools are free, easy to use and so overall costs can be minimised.

For employers, some industries are not cut out for flexible working. Obvious examples are healthcare and retail sectors. Having said that, the tech world has ensured some advances in the healthcare sector, so remote diagnostics can be utilised, thus saving waiting time for patients.

For those industries that have implemented flexible working policies, the difficulty is in keeping track of productivity and the amount of time employees actually spend working. Trust is key. A shift in culture is important for flexible working to be implemented successfully. Alongside the robust IT technology needs to be a supportive culture that trusts employees.

In conclusion, the advantages of flexible working outweigh the downsides. More companies should enable their employees to take advantage of this route.  It will benefit individual employees and experienced freelancers either at SMEs or larger companies. If effectively managed as part of a planned approach, flexible working becomes integral to a modern working culture to keep employees happy, creating highly-efficient and productive working environments.

The increased demand for flexible working will be particularly attractive to millennial workers. The Powwownow research also showed 70 per cent of this group citing flexible working on their wish list, compared to only 47 per cent of over 55s. The businesses that will be most successful in retaining and keeping talent motivated will be those that manage work-life balance using digital tools and are prepared to adapt their working culture for the next generation.

 

No doubt you’ve heard the idea of thought leadership tossed in conversations with your PR team rather frequently. Yes, us PRs really do love to talk thought leadership, but there is a very important reason why we do.

Having a thought leadership platform can truly make the difference between a somewhat successful PR programme and a phenomenally successful one.

Here are three ways to start building a thought leadership programme:

  1. A Point of View (POV) Matters. In a world where most companies’ products make the same claims such as ‘our super great product can help you do things faster and better’; me-too communication tactics are not  enough to cut through the noise and get your target audience interested in your company or its products. But having a point of view about things impacting the industry space you’re in and sharing your insights in an authentic, non-biased way can help you build credibility and prominently position your brand amongst your target audiences to help it stand out. This brand awareness positively influences current customers and can attract the interest of prospects—aka the top of the sales funnel.  

  2. Show Them the Value. With more senior and c-level executives engaged in the buying process for strategic company investments, there’s more emphasis on showing the value you deliver. The best way to do this is to establish your company as a thought leader in the market. This will mean these execs may have heard of you before and are more willing to listen to your reasons for working together. When you can show your customers you understand the industry and the challenges they face as well as how your solution can address their needs, you will find them to be more open and willing to work with your company and invest in your solutions and services.

  3. It Opens the Door to Strong Relationships with Important Influencers. Today’s media are savvy, short on time and more interested in story telling versus reporting the facts in a standard company news releases. To engage them, you have to offer compelling content with a broader perspective. For example, you can’t just say ‘my product is so great, it does xyz the fastest’. Instead try: ‘my product helped save commuters five hours of commuting time per week because the rail companies can now digitally and automatically do this brilliant thing’. That’s much more interesting.

And if you take it one step further and provide this information as a contributed article in a top publication where you can clearly show your company’s expertise in the railroad industry and the monumental impact you’re having on the industry’s digital transformation, then you will find your phone ringing, as you will be deemed as a credible source. Key influencers will call you for expert commentary and quotes and ask for follow up articles. This domino effect can have an extremely positive impact on your brand and sales efforts.

Being the authority on what you do is the essence of thought leadership. The good news is you already have the know-how and expertise in your organisation. Now all you have to do is allow your PRs to tap into these resources and help develop the compelling content to support your thought leadership programme.

 

If you’ve invested in PR agency support, you will want to have a great relationship with your PR team. This can be easier said than done. As the point of contact for the agency team, you may find you are often pulled in many different directions with priorities always changing. So, how do you keep your PR agency relationship on track and working to support your company’s brand awareness and reputation management, all while being a good client?

Assuming the chemistry is there for you and your agency team (and if it isn’t, this needs to be addressed immediately), here are five ways you can keep things running smoothly. 

Make the PR agency part of your team. Don’t treat the agency team as if they are any other vendor relationship. They will need a good deal of attention from you and your team to ensure they meet expectations. If they’re doing their job well, they become your virtual team and  can be relied on to help you launch a new product, roll-out a new marketing campaign and help you with internal and external communication planning. Leaving your agency out of the loop and not readily sharing content that they can use for PR means they won’t have what they need to create successful PR pitches and complete effective media outreach. 

Keep it simple. While you’ve hired your agency for their expertise in PR and marketing communications, remember they have not been hired to be technical product managers. The team will need just enough information about your company inter-workings and product portfolio to go out and tell the world how amazing it all is without being overwhelmed by having to make sense of industry jargon, technical acronyms and product specifications.

Be direct. And we mean direct, 100% total candor all the time. Your agency will need clear, concise, straightforward instructions, and in particular, what you expect the outcome to be. For example, if you want to be in one extremely important publication when your latest product launches, let your agency know that this is the goal and they can make every possible effort to deliver. Sugarcoating bad news when you’re unhappy won’t help your agency. If they aren’t delivery, it’s important to let them know. Tell them and tell them often. Don’t wait until it’s too late for them to do something to fix the issue(s).

Allow your agency to be strategic. If you ever think: it’s too early to tell the agency about a major company news announcement, we assure you it is not. Your agency will have signed a NDA for a reason. They will need to know as far in advance of major news as possible so they can execute a PR plan to get the news to your media targets. There’s more to this than drafting a press release. They will most likely want to be strategic, so let them when it comes to helping make the most of your company’s exciting news.

Trust us. This is the most important thing to being a good client. Have faith in your agency team. They will be seasoned professionals with extensive communications experience and education trained to execute successful PR programmes for their clients. They will work on your behalf and always have your best interests at heart. This trust also needs to extend further inside your organisation. Your agency will need to be able to source compelling PR content from your experts. It’s great to have you on the line when your agency do these calls or in the room when they have meetings, but if your schedule doesn’t allow for it and the agency have to wait too long to get access, you’re missing out on having them secure great placements. Trust your agency to do their job. Because when they get the information they need, they can turn it into a great PR campaign for you and make your experts media stars.

A PR agency’s top priority is to make their client’s job easier and deliver a successful PR program aligned with your business goals. Essentially, they will want to make you look good for choosing them to execute your PR outreach. Your investment in the team can pay enormous dividends if you communicate openly and honestly with each other and truly work as a team.

So, let’s get started. Contact us today.

In a couple of weeks, I will head to sunnier climes in Barcelona to attend the 2018 Mobile World Congress (26 February to 1 March) with two of our clients - Brite:Bill, an Amdocs company and Innovile. MWC is a major industry event for companies in the telecoms space. It’s where exciting new products are launched, industry trends are unveiled and dissected, keynotes from luminaries are legend and networking with the media is at its finest.

While I don’t have any magic shortcuts to securing meetings with the media, I can share the knowledge that it requires perseverance and plenty of planning. For example, my team has been working diligently since late December 2017 to invite media to meet with our clients and have been working closely with them to develop an exciting line-up of product news and insights to share at their stands.

I’m so pleased to be attending with our two clients exhibiting at the event; what they have to offer to operators is truly groundbreaking. 

Brite:Bill, An Amdocs company, is transforming the way service providers present and manage billing communications. They are helping service providers transform traditional cold notifications and demands for payment into customer centric and engaging communications. Brite:Bill customers are now able to present billing information in an easy-to-read, visually appealing, non-technical (no jargon!) way so people can understand their billing statements and actually glean helpful information from their bills (e.g., their service utilisation, other offers they could take advantage of to reduce their monthly charges). Brite:Bill is really turning the billing experience on its head and isn’t it about time?

At MWC, Brite:Bill will be presenting their recently announced new platform for corporate customers, Brite:Bill Corporate version 5.0, a powerful platform for telecom service providers that combines bill presentment and advanced analytics capabilities for enterprise customers on one single platform.  Business customers get the insights they need through tailored analytics and customizable dashboards to easily understand costs and service usage through beautifully rendered, easily understood graphs, tables and alerts. 

Innovile is an innovator of optimised network management solutions. Leading mobile network operators, including Vodafone, Turkcell and ALBtelecom, use Innovile’s flexible and powerful solutions for self-organising networks (SON), performance management and configuration management. Why is this important? Because today’s operators need real-time network intelligence to maximise the capacity of their next-generation networks (prepare for 5G), stay five steps ahead of any potential network issue and boost efficiency so their subscribers have the best network and data performance on the market. And Innovile technology is how they can make that happen.

At MWC, Innovile will be presenting their flexible SON solution. Operators should not need to rely on just one SON scenario; the team can explain how pre-defined scenarios can be developed quicker than you can imagine. They will also share their insights on how to overcome changing operator issues with 5G on the way and the potential of machine learning to enhance decisions.

Check out the full agenda here.  If you’re planning to attend, please let me know @TechComms_

I’d love to catch up and hear your thoughts about the show. You can follow the event on Twitter #MWC2018.

Thank you to my clients for inviting me, my dynamo team for their hard work to prepare for MWC and the gracious analysts and media for agreeing to meet with these two companies at the event.

See you there!

 

 

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