Hughes PR, Public relations, Social media

25 years of Hughes

Tim Hughes writes…

I’ve been doing this for 30 years – 25 years as the head of Hughes, which I established in the store cupboard of a friend’s business in 1992.

In the past five years I’ve seen more change than in the prior 25.

When I started in print journalism, typewriters were common – although they were fast giving way to clunky computers.

When I worked in television, there was always a rush to get things shot as early as possible in the day so that the film could be sent to the processors, then cut, then printed and then aired – a far cry from Snapchat or Instagram.

I saw teletext machines give way to fax machines; fax machines do away with couriers; and the internet and email replace fax machines.  But these were just tools for doing business with our clients more efficiently – not necessarily impacting on our work for clients up until the past decade.

In Australia – and particularly South Australia – we were probably sheltered from change for some time.

Trends have been changing at a much faster rate beyond our borders and shores.  I don’t believe we’ll be as sheltered from change in the five years to 2021.  The rise and rise of digital and social media has seen to that.

And the pace of change will be even greater in the next five years than it has been in the past five years.  For example, the amount of information on the web is expected to increase by 400 per cent in the next four years (Michael Schaeffer, The Content Code).

From my perspective, the past five years have seen the greatest changes to the so-called PR business – and the greatest challenges and opportunities.

Just to give you a bit of background on our consultancy:

We are one of the largest consultancies in SA.

We work for a broad range of clients – largely in the corporate space – and in almost every case, we work at the highest level of that organisation and then deliver down.

If we have a point of difference in the marketplace it is our commitment to being strategic and aligning our work in a measurable way to the business goals of all our clients.

Our clients include Adelaide Airport, Adelaide Convention Centre, BankSA, Calvary Health Care, Flinders Fertility, ENGIE, major property developers and a number of organisations in the defence sector.

Our experience mirrors the experience of the wider PR profession – at least in Australia.

Over time, our consultancy has changed and in recent times, it’s changed even more quickly.

We started as opportunistic publicists, we developed a reputation for managing reputation through our work on issues and crises communication, we became more conscious of the importance of being strategic in delivering outcomes aligned to our clients’ business goals.

Our expertise was harnessed to assist internal communications.

Our interest in “brands” in the broader sense, helped us bring internal and external behaviours and communications together. Because of our experience and network, we became “influencers” and “advocates”.

We responded to changes in the communication environment by embracing social and digital media – and including it in our programs in a strategic manner.  We were one of the first in Adelaide to appoint a consultant dedicated to social media work.

Recognising the influence of video, we established a Digital Video Production capability to deliver web and blog content and electronic news releases to both new and traditional media under-resourced to meet the demands of their audience.

We then expanded our skill set with a graphic design team to support our work in social, digital and video media.  These services now account for 25% of turnover – and they’re growing.

So, you can see how our industry is changing – and the pace is only going to pick up.  It’s going to impact on the whole of the marketing communication sector.  But we believe PR has the most to gain.

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Hughes PR

Five interesting things to do with your Twitter account today

Kate Potter writes…

Are you a Twitter user? We’ve got a few tips and tools for you to try with your Twitter account today. Some of them are useful for your management and analysis of your account, others are just for fun – but all give you a clever insight into your Twitter use and reach.

1. Activate your Twitter analytics.

If you haven’t activated your Twitter analytics, it’s easy to turn on. (And if you manage a Twitter account on behalf of a business or organisation, it’s an important measurement tool.) Visit https://analytics.twitter.com/ to activate it, and you’ll then be able to see how many impressions each of your tweets receive, along with other fantastic data about your account use and reach.

2. Download your Twitter archive.

Want to see what you were tweeting about on this day, five years ago? Interested to see your very first tweet? Visit the Settings area of your Twitter account and click “Request my archive”. Your entire Twitter history will then be available to be downloaded as a .csv file.

3. Check your account stats on Tweetails.

Tweetails will generate a whole lot of interesting stats about how you tweet. Including a word cloud, your most mentioned users and hashtags, graphs, and an estimate of how much time you spend on Twitter, it’s a fun snapshot of your Twitter persona. My word cloud shows me that my most often used words on Twitter are Adelaide, social, media, awesome, wine. Yep, that sounds about right.

4. Clean up your follower list by unfollowing inactive accounts.

You can choose to “unfollow” Twitter accounts that are no longer active by using Twitter management tool ManageFlitter. The service offers a whole lot of other functions as well – such as showing you all the Twitter accounts that you follow that don’t follow you back.

5. Activate a Bio is Changed account.

Bio is Changed allows you to track when people you follow on Twitter change their bio or their profile picture. It gives you an interesting insight into Twitter users’ changing priorities, job titles, and how they want to be perceived by Twitter nation. There’s been times when I’ve found out someone is changing job roles before it’s been announced formally by tracking their movements on Bio is Changed!

Once you’ve explored these tools, there are many, many other Twitter tools out there to help you make sense of your Twitter experience. If you dream it, there’s most likely a tool out there to help you do it. Happy tweeting!

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Digital Media, Facebook, LinkedIn, Social media, Twitter

Including social media as part of your company’s DNA

Icons for the application

Kate Potter writes…

There are many workplaces – especially younger start-ups or tech companies – where social media is seen as a hugely important part of the organisation’s brand. These companies have an organisational culture that ensures social media is at the forefront of every employee’s mind – and desktop!

But what if your organisation sees social media as an afterthought – and you are the lone ranger within the company, flying the social media flag?

All employees don’t have to live and breathe social media the way a marketing or communications manager does, but embedding social media into a company culture is an important step to ensuring that everyone in your organisation at least knows how they can play an important role in your social media presence.

Here’s five suggestions for how you can make the culture change within your company, so before you know it you’ll have Alan from accounts sending you a great idea for a Snapchat campaign.

  1. Ask and you shall receive (specifically!)

Sometimes you can feel like a one-woman-or-man-content-creation-band. You source, hunt, photograph, video and post about company news. But everyone else has their own job to do, so it’s no wonder all of their updates don’t come across your desk.

The key is to proactively email or phone key company stakeholders direct and ask them if they have any ideas for content for your social media channels. But get specific about your questions. Here’s a few ideas to get you started:

  • Are there any company milestones coming up?
  • What’s the latest projects you have been working on?
  • Have you been to any interesting industry events lately?
  • Where do you see our industry going at the moment?
  • Can you let me know the three key learnings you took away from yesterday’s conference?
  • What was the highlight of the lunch seminar you attended?
  1. Remind people in emails, meetings and phone calls that you’re always open to receiving content

Do you have regular work in progress meetings? Put social media content on the agenda. Do you email your colleagues weekly or monthly reports? Make sure you include the fact that you would love to hear from anyone who has news or updates. You may feel like a broken record but you might find some gold (or at least get some minds turning over).

This might not be as effective as tip number one – there’s nothing like getting right in front of an individual – but it still is a worthwhile reminder for all your team.

  1. Encourage everyone to be paparazzi

As soon as someone leaves the office for a corporate event – it could be a conference, a breakfast, a lunch, a presentation, a seminar or the opening of an envelope – remind them before they leave to TAKE PHOTOS!

Not everyone is a photographer but encourage them to snap away with their phone camera anyway – you don’t have to use all of them (or any of them!) but at least you have them – and your colleague is reminded that what they see in their everyday can be great social media content.

  1. Report in metrics that matter to them.

Reach, impressions, click throughs, conversions and engagement rates are exciting to me, but they may not mean a lot to my boss. It’s time to report in a language they understand. This might mean comparing Facebook advertising costs and results to other media advertising, or it might mean setting up goal conversions on your Google Analytics so you can point to the tangible.

Ultimately, you need to be able to either report on the return on investment, or you need to be able to communicate that the return on investment isn’t always black and white. (← Language warning on that link.)

  1. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again

Cultural change within organisations can be a long, slow process. Social media has been around for a decade but there are still people you may work with who don’t even give it a second thought when they consider company communications.

Be the champion within your workplace, and remember that it might take many reminders for change to happen.

And then one day, the social media shy CEO will send you an incredible photo that he “just happened to catch, out in the field” and you can tell him afterwards that it got the highest reach on your Facebook page, ever, in the history of your Facebook page*.

And you’ll know you’ve got through.

*This actually happened to one of my clients – a very satisfying moment.

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Hughes PR

How the public consumes news

Did you know that only 6% of Australians now read newspapers as their primary source of news? Or that social media is now the main source of news for Millennials?

The latest Deloitte Media Consumer Survey (access here) contains some fascinating facts about Australia’s changing media consumption habits, including an ongoing shift towards social media and online newspapers.

The research documents the speedy transition from an era of information scarcity to one of abundance (primarily driven by social media platforms, better and cheaper access to high speed internet as well as higher quality smartphones and tablets) to a media landscape which gives consumers much greater access to news than at any other time in history – via the channels they choose.  A consequence of this high-choice environment has been reduced loyalty to any individual news brand.

At Hughes, we saw this coming and over the past five years have adjusted our focus and broadened our expertise and services to meet our clients’ communication needs in this changed environment.

Today, we continue to differentiate ourselves in the market by providing experienced and strategic communications with a focus on results – but with the benefit of a broader range of in-house services than ever before to ensure we tell our clients’ stories where they’ll be read by those we need to reach.  By backing our strategic experience with services including social media delivery, graphic design, digital video and training (for traditional and social media) we are able to maximise and protect our clients’ brands across all media – consistently and cost effectively without our clients needing to brief and manage multiple agencies.

Check out the infographic below (developed by our graphic design team) and contact us if you’d like to discuss the best way for your organisation to communicate effectively to your target audience in the modern media landscape.

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Digital Media, Facebook, Hughes PR, Marketing

Five ways to increase reach to your Facebook audience

Kate Potter writes…

Here are five things you can do today to make sure your content is communicated as effectively and efficiently as possible on Facebook:

1. Upload your videos natively to Facebook, rather than linking to YouTube or Vimeo.

When you upload your video natively, it starts to autoplay when Facebook users are scrolling down their newsfeeds, catching their attention and drawing them in to watch. No clicks required!

2. When uploading a video to Facebook, add subtitles.

Facebook’s autoplay feature plays video without sound. If a Facebook user doesn’t want to activate the sound of the video, make sure you still get your message across by adding subtitles (closed captions) to the video.

3. Use visuals on every post.

Whether it’s a photograph, a video, a slideshow or an image added to a link preview, make sure there is a visual element to your post. A “status update” with no visual, or a link with no visual preview, will not engage users as effectively. If you can’t find a photograph, use a site like LibreStock to find an image or better yet – engage a photographer to create a library for you!

4. Find out when your users are most active online.

Head to the Insights section of your business page and click “posts” on the left hand side of the page. Here you’ll see what time of day your Facebook audience is active on the site – and when you scroll over each day, it will show you the difference day by day. Schedule your Facebook content to coincide with a time when most of your Facebook audience are active. To schedule content in advance, click the dropdown arrow next to “publish” in the update box and choose “schedule” instead of publish.

5. Optimise your graphics for the Facebook experience, particularly mobile users.

Engage a graphic designer to create Facebook-specific graphics promoting products, events and services. By creating Facebook-specific graphics for your organisation’s Facebook page, you are telling your Facebook audience that you are committed to communicating with them in a format that is optimal to their experience.

Hughes can assist you with Facebook strategy and implementation to ensure you’re communicating effectively. Contact us to find out more.

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Hughes PR

Making the most of your conference sponsorship

Jamie Hershman writes…

Our consulting team has been hungry for knowledge recently, attending a number of conferences.

As well as learning more about digital and social media trends, communication strategies and wider industry and economic futures, they’ve also picked up some tips on how to make the most – or not – of event exhibits or sponsorship!

As a result, we’ve put together a few tips for your next conference sponsorship or exhibition:

Be prepared

When you haven’t exhibited before, it’s easy to get it wrong. Don’t show up on time, only to find out that there are no extension cords and no lighting or seats in your display.

Communicate with the organiser well ahead of the conference to ensure that all the basics will be set up before you arrive, and then make sure you arrive early on the first day to manage the display preparation!

Bring the right people

It’s not just about the physical items needed to put your space together, but having a clear strategy for interacting with your target market.  It should go without saying… but know your audience before you go anywhere, because your strategy will not always be one-size-fits-all.

Make sure you’re sending the right person or people to represent you. Your representatives should always have energy and speak confidently and accurately about your business in a way your target audience will relate to.

Create memories

Whether you’re an industry leader or a start-up, you need to excite attendees. It’s not just about the information you provide, the brochures you hand out or giveaways; it’s about being able to engage and resonate with your audience – in a way that they remember positively, well beyond the event and well ahead of others they’ve met. The most effective way to do this depends on your industry and product, but a simple and effective approach is as easy as ‘show and tell’. Take it a step further and offer trials or personalised experiences. If you’re a technology company, bring something to try out. If you’re a product based company, bring samples. If your services are difficult to explain, show them a video. Telling is great, but showing is even better. 

Continue the conversation

Every conversation needs a plan to follow up that will allow you to build the relationship and ultimately create a new client or positive influencer so make sure you find a way to follow-up – by email, by letter or even better, in person.

While sponsorship and exhibiting is simple on the surface, it’s not to be taken for granted. If you do, you may not create the brand impression you desired, and the conversations and new clients may never eventuate!

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