Hughes PR

The digital playground – when does expressing an opinion become cyberbullying?

Belinda Scott writes…

Firstly, this is not a blog post about a personal stance on the Goodes debate currently dominating TV discussions, talk back radio and social media platforms. As a professional Digital Consultant it’s simply an observation from a bird’s-eye view of some rather heated conversations unfolding online.

Everyone has the right to an opinion whether face-to-face, writing a letter to the editor or sharing a news article on a personal Facebook page. Since the evolution of the internet, we are now able to share images / videos or post a comment on hot topics much more easily, frequently and to a larger audience, joining online communities who share a similar view.

On the flip side, perhaps having a digital playground to passionately vent about issues (often fueled by the media) with other like-minded people enables some people to behave in a manner they would not normally engage with in real life.

The online community has a powerful voice and provides a listening tool into the heart of the community, often forcing the hand of brands to actively respond to their concerns and provide a solution.

We all have those ‘usual suspects’ Facebook friends who pop their head up online whenever an issue unfolds but would they be so vocal in person?

Again, everyone has the right to their opinion but this is a timely reminder that what you share on your personal social media accounts could also be perceived as the opinion of your employer. Most recently, I witnessed a heated conversation between two fans on a business Facebook page with one of the participants threatening to send an email to their employer about their aggressive online behaviour. Suddenly, silence.

Remember, you are communicating on a public platform and what you say can be seen by a lot of people and shared vastly. Sometimes it’s wise to take a pause before posting, the outcome might be different.

Common human decency tells us to be kind to strangers and the same manners should be applied to online discussions. Be respectful and polite.

Posting mean, hurtful and threatening comments is cyberbullying and can have detrimental effects on all parties involved. To find out more about cyberbullying, visit (

Don’t be a poor sport, play nicely.

Does your organisation have a staff social media policy in place? It’s an important tool that can protect your brand, employees and most importantly, the organisation’s reputation in a time of crisis.

Digital Media, Hughes PR, Marketing, Social media, Video

Content marketing – buzz word or required tactic?

Jamie Hershman writes…

With above the line marketing becoming less effective at reaching audiences that have “zoned out”, marketers are now increasingly utilising content marketing to re-engage with their target audiences.

Content marketing is a technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and maintain a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

It is the art of communicating with an intended audience – without selling.

The goal of content marketing is to consistently provide relevant information to the target audience that can change or enhance their behaviour in your favour. It is an ongoing process that is best integrated into an overall marketing strategy.

According to Roper Public Affairs, 80% of business decision-makers prefer to receive company information in a series of articles versus advertisements. Buyers aren’t looking for you to sell to them—they prefer information that answers their questions or fills a void. Buyers are getting information from case studies, company blogs, infographics, industry news, and other content-driven sources.

An organisation that conducts clever content marketing is Lorna Jane (fitness wear for women). The standalone Move Nourish Believe website acts as the brand’s content centre – it presents articles of relevance to their target audience – covering topics like skincare, healthy eating and motivation, as well as videoshealthy recipes and forums. All of this serves to create a conversation and sense of community with its target audience, allowing both the company and the audience to benefit.

The ‘Content Marketing in Australia: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends’ report was released earlier this year by the Content Marketing Institute and ADMA. Some of the major findings included:

  • 96% of marketers use content marketing;
  • 25% of budgets are allocated to content marketing;
  • 61% of Australian marketers plan to increase their content marketing budget over the next 12 months;
  • 57% of companies outsource content creation.

View the full report here.

How does your company’s content marketing program compare?

Which stage is your business at in the above content marketing model developed by the ADMA?

Content marketing may be an often misunderstood buzz word, but as you can see it is becoming a more relevant tactic to marketers in both the digital and physical environment in order to attract, retain and grow their customers.

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.

Hughes PR, Social media

“Tweet” if you love South Australian food and wine!

ImageI’m very excited to say my love of South Australian wine and my love of social media have found a happy match – I’m a social media ambassador for the 2014 Cellar Door Wine Festival!

I’m one of about a dozen social media ambassadors, and it will be our job to help get the word out about the fantastic things the Festival has on offer – South Australian food, beer, cider and of course, wine.

Adelaide Convention Centre is a much valued client of Hughes Public Relations and we’ve loved playing our part in helping to promote the Cellar Door Wine Festival.  The 2014 Festival will be the fourth annual event.  Since 2011, the Festival has gone from strength to strength – winning national awards, increasing its visitor numbers and increasing its visibility in the community.

I was first introduced to the Festival though my role as digital and social media consultant at Hughes PR, and I’ve now attended two Festivals and absolutely loved the experience.

You’ll find me tweeting at @katepotter, sharing what I love about South Australian wine and food.

Meanwhile, head to the Cellar Door Wine Festival website to check out what the Festival has on offer for 2014.

You can also following the Cellar Door Wine Festival on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Cheers to that!

Digital Media, Hughes PR, Media, Public relations

20 years ago today…

Tim Hughes writes…

“It was 20 years ago today …” So go the lyrics to the Beatles song “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.

The Beatles at a press conference

Twenty years on from establishing Hughes Public Relations, there are few practicing public relations professionals who would ever have known those words, let alone remember them. Similarly, they wouldn’t remember type-writers, teletext machines, and our industry’s reliance on couriers to deliver urgent news releases to clients for approval – and to media for coverage.

A lot has changed – for the better.

Over the past 20 years, I have seen the widespread adoption of mobile phones and mobile technologies (I look back and laugh at the brick phone I invested in when I started the consultancy in 1992!); the advent of the internet; the establishment of email as the instant global communication tool; the emergence of digital media including social media, citizen journalism and the delivery of instant, global news to our fingertips 24/7.

New technologies have brought many opportunities to the public relations profession. We have been able to lift our sights geographically and look after our clients’ global needs from one location; we can reach media around the world at the touch of a button; and demand for our services as ‘brand managers’ as a result of the instant transmission of news, the rapid escalation of issues and their exponential global spread has led to our services being more highly valued by business and government.

New technologies have also brought challenges. In 1992, I personally knew most of the journalists I dealt with; our clients’ marketplace lay largely within 20 kilometres of the office; and most just wanted to see themselves in the Adelaide media. Today, we are charged with delivering communication support to clients around the world; reaching audiences  who today don’t read newspapers, listen to radio or watch free to air TV but who instead glean their information and entertainment from the web, through social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and a myriad of special interest blogs and apps on their mobile phones and iPads.

The new global landscape has also placed far heavier responsibilities on the shoulders of professional communicators. Today, we are charged with managing the reputation (and value) of global brands in an unforgiving environment where instantly available information (or mis-information) can have a multi-million dollar positive or negative impact on the value of shares or sales.

Twenty years on, the fundamentals of business communication haven’t changed.

  • Reputation (or brand) is vitally important to organisational success;
  • Honesty (as opposed to “spin”), delivery of the “promise”, and transparency remain fundamental to a positive reputation;
  • Effective communication strategies (tied irrevocably to business strategy) – and their timely delivery – are essential tools in promoting and protecting ‘brands’ in an increasingly crowded, competitive and ‘fickle’ global market.

Today, however, developing and delivering these strategies is far more complex – and that’s where experience counts.

Hughes PR is a communications and public relations consultancy in Adelaide with proven and extensive experience in publicity and media relations, issues management, crisis management, digital and social media, community engagement, event management, media training, publications and strategic problem solving. Find out more.

Hughes PR, Media training, Social media

What Woody Harrelson’s Reddit disaster can teach us about social media

Today I wanted to touch on another “social media gone wrong” story – but this time it highlights personal branding, not company branding (although it could be argued that it ties into both). This social media stuff-up breaks two of the top “rules” in social media – rules which are vital to follow for social media success.

The interaction in question occurred on a website we haven’t discussed before here on the Hughes Public Relations blog, Reddit. I wasn’t quite sure how to describe Reddit, because it is a lot of different things, but Wikipedia has a nice concise description: “Reddit is a social news website where the registered users submit content, in the form of either a link or a text ‘self’ post. Other users then vote the submission ‘up’ or ‘down’, which is used to rank the post and determine its position on the site’s pages and front page.”

Woody Harrelson Rampart memeReddit’s community is passionate, loyal, funny, and they have a lot of “in” jokes.

A unique part of Reddit is “AMA” – which stands for “ask me anything”. People head to AMA to talk about their unique stories – and anyone who has registered with the site can ask a question in the hope that it will be answered by the originator of the post. The posts are varied, anything from people talking about interesting home renovations, talking about their inter-cultural relationships, users answering questions about physical disabilities they have, and everything in between.

In the past, a couple of celebrities have done an AMA. Earlier this week, in fact, actress Ali Larter did an AMA which was well received by the Reddit community.

And then you get celebrities who might have heard that Reddit is a good place to reach a lot of people, people who are likely to belong to the right target audience for their latest project, and so these celebrities decide, unsurprisingly, to use Reddit as a communications channel to promote said project.

There’s a right way and a wrong way to do this. Comedian Louis CK did it the right way. He did an AMA which promoted his new project, but he was open to whatever the Reddit community threw at him. The questions were obviously answered by him, he spent a lot of time on it, and he didn’t shy away from any questions that were upvoted by the community for him to answer.

The wrong way? Actor Woody Harrelson showed us the wrong way to do an AMA. He told people he only had an hour to answer questions, and when someone questioned him on that, he told them “my time is valuable“. From what I can see, he answered a total of 15 questions out of thousands of comments that Redditors were putting to him. Answers were brief and for the most part, referred right back to the new movie he was promoting, Rampart.

You can read about how the full disaster went down on sites like Mediaite and the New York Observer, but for me I just wanted to focus on two very important social media lessons that we can all learn from this example.

Number one is the importance of listening to a community before diving in. You’ve got to learn about how it works, the etiquette, the way people use the platform. You don’t use LinkedIn the same way you use Twitter and you don’t use Twitter the same way you use Facebook. Each community has its own set of rules and ways to communicate. Reddit’s no different. I’ve been reading Reddit for many months now and I’m still working out how the community ticks!

Number two is something people can spot from a mile away – lack of authenticity. If you don’t show the social media community your true self, they’ll soon see right through it. Pretending to be something you’re not will get you nowhere.

These rules aren’t just for people selling a project, a product or an idea – they’re for all users of social media.

If you follow rule number one, you’ll soon see that the Reddit community don’t have any tolerance for inauthentic interactions by people who just want to sell them something. Watch out, you could find yourself created into a meme* before you know it!

*Don’t know what a meme is? A whole world of Internet sub-culture is about to open up to you. Start here.

Hughes PR is a communications and public relations consultancy in Adelaide with proven and extensive experience in publicity and media relations, issues management, crisis management, digital and social media, community engagement, event management, media training, publications and strategic problem solving. Find out more.

Facebook, Hughes PR, LinkedIn, Social media

Beware the perils of Address Book Importing

Are you unwittingly spamming your contacts?

Hayley Burwell writes…

Ever received an odd friend recommendation on Facebook and wondered how and why Facebook thought you knew each other? Or received a LinkedIn invitation to join someone’s professional network even though they work in a completely different industry and you can’t remember when or why you would ever have done business with them?

The chances are that you, or someone you’re connected to, however loosely or however long ago, has fallen victim to a seemingly innocuous technique called Address Book Importing (ABI).

ABI lies behind the majority of social networks’ ‘friend finding’ tools and any other platforms that rely on email correspondence such as competition entry or newsletter pages. If used carefully these tools are often an incredibly useful and time-efficient way of getting your addresses all in one place and creating and boosting online connections.

But, as always, there’s a catch.

I discovered the true power of ABI this weekend in an unfortunate incident that resulted in LinkedIn sending an invitation to everyone I had ever had contact with, however fleetingly, since I first entered the digital world more than ten years ago. These unwitting victims ranged from the just plain odd, like the hippy yoga studio I visited once on a whim, to the professionally inappropriate, like the top personnel at organisations where I used to be just a lowly work experience student, to the toecurlingly embarrassing like an ex-boyfriend….and his mum.

By clicking ‘yes’ to importing and inviting my contacts, I had given LinkedIn permission to delve not only into my current Gmail account but right across all my other online accounts and my desktop in order to send out invitations to every email address it could find, at lightning speed, before I had a chance to review them. 642 in all.

To make it worse, I then discovered that to prevent LinkedIn from spamming these contacts with constant reminders to connect to a virtual stranger, simply bulk deleting these invitations wasn’t enough. Instead I had to click ‘withdraw’ on every single invitation. One by one. (That’s one Sunday evening that I’ll never get back!)

What makes such a situation even trickier is that by allowing social networks access to all of your contacts, you’re also giving them the green light to make connection recommendations for all of those people too. This could be disastrous for those working in fields where broadcasting your professional or personal connections is highly inappropriate, such as journalists with confidential sources, or health professionals and patients, or those working on projects that are yet to be launched publicly.

And finally, there’s the moral and privacy aspect to consider. Why should I have the right to allow a third party website to store someone else’s email address and to start interacting with that person without first getting permission from that individual? In the worst case scenario, is it my fault if that person’s address gets hacked or spammed as a result?

I hope this tale doesn’t detract attention from the wealth of benefits LinkedIn and other similar sites offer because I still consider them to be a fantastic way to network within your industry, to connect with people wherever they are in the world and to discover training and career opportunities that may otherwise have passed you by.

But what I’ve learnt from this experience is that whenever you are asked to upload or import your contacts by any website, no matter how innocent or helpful the request appears, you need to do your homework to understand exactly what you are permitting that site to do with those addresses and over what timeframe. Yes, it’s tedious, but it’s always a good idea to read the organisation’s FAQs and privacy policy first before clicking ‘yes’ to any request that involves personal data.

And if you’re still in any doubt, then the best approach is to make a cup of tea and send your invitations the old fashioned way, one by one.

Hughes PR is a communications and public relations consultancy in Adelaide with proven and extensive experience in publicity and media relations, issues management, crisis management, digital and social media, community engagement, event management, media training, publications and strategic problem solving. Find out more.

Hughes PR, Media, Public relations, Social media

Trials and tribulations in search for a name

Last week we were musing about how choosing a business name has changed in many ways since the rise of digital media. While many years ago you might decide on “AAA Removals” or “Aardvark Consulting” to ensure you were right up the front of the telephone directory, these days a whole new set of rules are in place to make sure you’re visible to your client base.

This article originally appeared in The Advertiser on 6 December 2011.

Trials and tribulations in search for a name

Finding a new company name is getting increasingly complicated with the need for multiple checks through websites and social media.

The search is getting so complex that digital agency Fusion director Gavin Klose says it is virtually impossible to find a short, four-letter name that has a website domain still available.

“Unless you have a really bizarre four-letter acronym it won’t be available,” Mr Klose said.

“Basically, every single name in the dictionary is taken, common names have been either taken or parked by name squatters who will charge you a huge amount to buy the domain name from them.”

Mr Klose, whose business works with companies on branding and names, says clients now need to first discover if a potential name is available by trademark and website domain.

Next, they should ensure the name is easy to find in a Google search or if its spelling is easy for potential customers to find so that they don’t end up inadvertently finding a competitor’s site instead.

“We are working with a web hosting company to find a name at the moment, it’s a very, very saturated marketplace and almost every single name we come up with is gone and not just that, gone to a hosting company,” he said.

“We were lucky that back in ’95 we registered Fusion as a name, if you tried to do that now it would be impossible.”

And once you have a name, Mr Klose suggests you “vigorously defend it” – Fusion has found two businesses to date using its name.

He also suggests incorporating social media links to the company website.

Kate Potter at Hughes PR emphasised choosing a unique name – but ensuring it was spelt like it sounded.

“Think about how it sounds out loud, think about whether it uses numerals or hyphens or full stops,” Ms Potter said. “If you have a radio ad and you have to explain in great detail how someone can find you online then you’ve used up half your spend just explaining your web address rather than communicating your other messages.”

Ms Potter said once a name was secured, its identity could be confused.

Triplezero web design company, for example, chose its name partly because was available.

Since then, the Government has established – explaining emergency calling.

Hughes PR is a communications and public relations consultancy in Adelaide with proven and extensive experience in publicity and media relations, issues management, crisis management, digital and social media, community engagement, event management, media training, publications and strategic problem solving. Find out more.