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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Crisis management, Hughes PR

Act before the crisis hits…

Jamie Hershman writes…

Australian businesses spend millions of dollars every year marketing their products and services, but in comparison, how much is actually spent on “insuring their reputation” with an issues management plan in case of a crisis?

Businesses need to be proactive in taking preventative measures to avoid a crisis, and be prepared in case one strikes. But that’s the hard part. It’s a bit like writing a will or taking out life insurance. Most of us don’t want to think about it.

However, if a crisis does occur, it need not be fatal. Indeed, if handled well, it can actually enhance the reputation of the organisation.

Businesses often can’t avoid an issue or crisis, but they can plan for it.

The best thing an organisation can do is to honestly examine the way it does business – find the actual weaknesses and potential threats in the organisation and the industry. Once the issues are known, scenarios can be developed. E.g. What if our oil refinery leaked oil into the sea? What if our products were sabotaged and a customer died? What if someone was injured or killed on our manufacturing line?

While the specific responses to each scenario will vary, the strategy should hinge on being as open and honest as possible – ensuring accurate information is disseminated regularly and any incorrect information in the marketplace is corrected quickly.

In a crisis there are a lot of bases to cover – and they need to be covered quickly and effectively. Having a plan, and testing it regularly, ensures that everyone knows what the processes are and when to apply them.

Building a positive brand and protecting it is vitally important for the success and longevity of an organisation. It means doing all that’s expected – by customers, shareholders, staff, regulators and the general public – so that, ideally, no issue or crisis arises. Or if it does, then there is a spotless history and reputation on which to draw for the defence and ultimate survival of the business.

Rules for crisis management communications:

1. Plan for a crisis
2. Listen for the ‘warning signs’
3. Don’t hide if a crisis arises
4. Own up to the issue
5. Offer solutions, not excuses
6. Be honest
7. Talk to employees – they are the best asset in a crisis
8. Be upfront with customers
9. Proactively inform the media before they find out from other sources
10. Create an ongoing and open dialogue with all stakeholders throughout the issue

To develop your crisis management plan, or to assist with an emerging crisis contact Hughes PR.

Hughes Public Relations, based in Adelaide, South Australia, is a communications and PR 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

Corporate social responsibility – Does it matter?

Jamie Hershman writes…

Yes – it matters.

How an organisation treats its employees, how it engages with local communities, and how ethical it is can make a big difference in how prospects and clients view that organisation.  It can often play a determining role in conducting business with that organisation or recommending the organisation to others in your network.

The CSR RepTrak® study released by the Reputation Institute suggests that there is a strong business case when it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Seventy-three per cent of consumers across the 15 largest markets in the world were willing to recommend companies that are perceived to be delivering on Corporate Social Responsibility. The problem is that only five per cent of companies are seen as delivering on these promises.

CSR initiatives globally are limited due to poor internal communication processes and external communication practices.

Professor CB Bhattacharya, from the European School of Management and Technology said “unfortunately, corporate responsibility is still equated to philanthropy in many organisations and hence, given short shrift when it comes to strategic formulation and implementation”.

Bruce Rogers from Forbes provided further context – “The problem lies in the lack of strategic integration. The biggest challenge is to integrate CSR practices into the strategy of the company and not treat it as an add-on.  To accomplish this, CSR officers need to have their voice heard, particularly in the C-suite and at the Board level”.

Many companies don’t have a solid communications management and implementation framework to tie their CSR actions to their strategy.  Without this internal communications framework, it can become very difficult to maintain a strong investment in CSR activities.

One company that has its CSR internal practices and external communications tied firmly to its strategy is Google. Google has been successful in building a perception of caring around the world.

“They are seen as a company that treats their people well. It ranks number one in the world in this dimension. The logic is that if you treat your own people well, you are an open, honest, and caring company,” Kasper Ulf Nielsen, executive partner at Reputation Institute said.

Director of Google Giving, Jacquelline Fuller, said Google believed in the power of technology.

“Giving back is a huge part of what motivates us as a company, and as individuals,” she said.

“We invest in social entrepreneurs who are using technology to crack the code on the world’s toughest problems. Last year we invested in tech-based efforts to expand access to clean water, stop wildlife poaching, prevent the horrible practice of human trafficking and reduce poverty worldwide.”

Between 2010 and 2013, Google donated more than $353 million in grants worldwide, and approximately $3 billion in free ads, apps and products.

There is a strong business case for CSR for any organisation, regardless of the size of their budget. It can have a direct impact on business performance. According to the CSR RepTrak® research, for every five points you improve your CSR perception on a 100 point scale, buyer recommendations will increase by nine per cent. This data should make even the biggest CSR sceptic take notice.

In a world where word-of-mouth is fast becoming the number one marketing tool, CSR is a key business driver that organisations should embrace. More effective internal communications practices aligning CSR to overarching corporate strategies, combined with a renewed focus in leveraging these activities, will see a major increase in the positive business outcomes being achieved.

View the 10 companies with the best CSR ranking.

Hughes Public Relations, based in Adelaide, South Australia, is a communications and PR 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, Media, Media training

Do I need media training? Yes, you do!

Jamie Hershman writes…

Media and social media training has proved its value for many organisations across the globe, in refining and delivering key messages to journalists or live audiences and also protecting reputations in the face of corporate issues or crises.

I can recall a PR disaster last year which saw Chip Wilson, Founder and Chairman of yoga wear brand Lululemon Athletica,make international headlines following an interview on the Street Smart program on Bloomberg TV. See the interview here.  Wilson appeared with wife Shannon, who was being interviewed about a 60 second meditation program she was promoting.

Instead of meditation being the story, the trending headlines following his interview were “If your thighs rub together, Lululemon’s pants may not be for you.”

This comment and subsequent futile apologies using social media caused a share price drop and were major contributing factors to Chip Wilson losing his job as Chairman.

Your company spokesperson can ensure this type of scenario doesn’t beset your organisation, by enrolling in a practical media training session.

High quality media training sessions should have a focus on providing context to the modern media environment, while equipping participants with the skills to manage issues and raise awareness of their business through the media. The sessions should provide participants with the ability to conduct tailored television, print and radio interviews to simulate likely scenarios that are faced outside the training room.

If you are still uncertain about the value of media training, don’t be – it may turn out to be the best investment your organisation makes.

Hughes Public Relations, based in Adelaide, South Australia, is a communications and PR 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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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?

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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.

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