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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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 www.triplezero.com.au was available.

Since then, the Government has established www.triplezero.gov.au – 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.

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Digital Media, Hughes PR, Marketing, Social media

To QR or not to QR?

QR Code

QR Code

Kate Potter writes…

QR codes – abbreviated from Quick Response codes – are a type of barcode that started out as an invention for manufacturing tracking, but like any good invention soon found other uses.

These days, QR codes are found in a whole range of places ready to be “read” by you and me – using our smartphones. By downloading a QR code reader application for your iPhone, Blackberry, Android or other smartphone, you can read QR codes and “unlock” their content.

By “reading” a QR code on your phone, the data within the QR code then prompts the phone to take an action – be it go to a website, play a video, share a message on social media websites, draft an SMS message or even receive payments and donations directly through the QR.

You might have seen QR codes on billboards, promotional materials, coffee cups, wine bottles, posters or even as temporary tattoos!

Adelaide Festival 2012 poster uses a QR code

Adelaide Festival 2012 poster uses a QR code in the bottom right hand corner of the design

There’s some debate about the effectiveness of QR codes. Firstly, QR codes are really only accessible to the population that uses smartphones. While this is a legitimate concern, it’s worth considering not only the percentage of the population using smartphones, but the percentage of your target market using smartphones. Statistics vary of course, but earlier this year Telstra predicted that smartphone ownership will reach 60 percent by year-end.

I was surprised recently to hear someone denounce QR codes because they didn’t understand why someone would want to be exposed to more advertising. But what this generalisation dismisses is situations where you really want to find out more information, or engage further with the creator of the communication. Some examples:

  • A poster for a music festival has a QR code, which you can scan to be taken immediately to a timetable of the musical acts
  • A wine bottle has a QR code which you can scan to be taken immediately to tasting notes, vintage report and technical specifications
  • A billboard for a well-known charity campaign allows you to scan a QR code to donate immediately, transferring money to the charity’s PayPal account with their mobile phones

All of the uses of the QR code can also be tracked, allowing you to analyse exactly how successful your communication has been.

So, should QR codes be used for communications and marketing campaigns? I believe they are an effective and easy way to give your target audience more information, but like anything they are not a “one size fits all” solution. I wouldn’t put a QR code on a wine bottle that was intended to be cellared for 10 years – you never know what technology will replace the QR code and it may be a passing trend!

But in an age where people are bombarded by hundreds of messages a day from advertisers and organisations seeking publicity, QR codes can be effective when you’re asking consumers for a call to action (such as recruitment, petitions and competitions). The consumer can take that step on the spot while the idea is still fresh in their mind.

When creating a QR code, make sure you use a tool that allows you to change the destination of the scan such as http://uqr.me/. This will ensure your campaign is flexible.

Give them a try – if you have a smartphone, download a QR reader and next time you see a QR code, scan it to see where it takes you. You may discover some unique and innovative marketing using this technology.

UNICEF appeal using QR code

UNICEF appeal using QR code

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.

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Media, Public relations

The winner takes it all… 4 reasons why you should enter awards

Natalie Ciccocioppo writes…

We’re all more than aware of the glory that comes with winning one of those golden statuettes known as Oscar, but there are many awards programs out there that can provide you (even if you’re not a Hollywood star!) and your business with the ideal platform to have your achievements recognised at a regional, state, national, even international level.

Tim Hughes and other Public Relations Institute of Australia award winners, October 2010. Photo by Julia Angove

No matter what industry sector you work in, whether education, media, mining, health, property, tourism, arts, advertising, food, science, manufacturing, hospitality, retail… you name it, there’s likely to be an awards program which acknowledges success and innovation in your area.

But why should you put yourself, or your business forward for an award?

I can almost hear you grumbling, “but that award submission will take me an eon to write!” If your business has achieved significant things in the last twelve months, it’s worth putting in the time and effort to nominate for awards for several reasons. Read on… 

1. Recognition from your industry peers

“My awards are lovely, I love to show them off.”
Film, stage and television actress Doris Roberts

This is the obvious reason, the kudos.

But awards are about more than the flashy trophy.

In most cases, these awards are judged by a panel of respected experts from your industry. By winning or being shortlisted for an award, your hard work is being recognised by your peers as making a considerable contribution to your industry.

Putting your nomination forward, even if you don’t win, provides the opportunity to showcase your business and increase awareness amongst your industry peers aka the judges.  

You don’t necessarily need to be the largest company to win either, the stories and accomplishments of the ‘unsung heroes’ often catch the judge’s eyes.

2. Evaluation of your business successes and challenges

The actual process of writing an awards submission provides a great opportunity for your business to evaluate itself, recognising both successes and challenges against specific industry criteria.

Businesses owners have said that being involved in this process provides them with a unique opportunity to take a step back and reflect on their operations by ‘putting it down on paper’, celebrating their strengths and acknowledging areas where they can improve and grow.

3. Customer recognition

Awards are a strong endorsement for your business.

Awards play a valuable role in the consumer choice and as such, they can assist your business increase its sales and market share. Awards strengthen the credibility of your brand, assisting you to market your services and products as being of highest quality.

Awards can help businesses attract new customers, particularly if your award win is leveraged effectively across your company’s marketing and PR activities.

Many awards programs will supply a logo to winners which can be used across printed marketing collateral, written communications (eg. email signatures, stationary), internal and external signage, the possibilities to showcase your status as an award-winning business are endless.

And I know this might sound a bit obvious but display your award with pride – preferably where your customers can see it! (Don’t use it is a bookend on the office bookshelf.)

Industry recognised awards can also provide winners with a significant business development tool. Being an award-winning business can assist your organisation’s position against competitors when it comes to securing new client business, applying for grants, and attracting new staff, sponsors and investors, just to name a few.

As those wise philosophers known as ABBA once said, the winner takes it all

4. Publicity and networking opportunities

Winning an award is a good news story for your business – shout it from the rooftops!

You have the potential to attract significant exposure of your company’s award-win through traditional and digital mediums. As well as mainstream media, consider industry-specific publications and social media.

And if you’re nominated, try and head along to the awards presentation evening. As well as making sure you’re there to collect your award in person, there are several other benefits. Often these events have a media presence, providing a publicity opportunity for your awards win. Awards events also provide networking opportunities with key industry figures and other nominees and award winners. Also, consider your attendance as a contribution to staff morale by providing a night out for staff and colleagues to celebrate and thank them for their contribution to your businesses success.

These are just a few of the opportunities available to your business through participation in awards programs. As experienced writers and editors, your PR consultancy can assist you with preparing awards submissions, and if you’re lucky enough to win, ensuring that your award is effectively leveraged across traditional and digital media.

So, don’t be shy, your achievements deserve the opportunity to be recognised!

– Natalie Ciccocioppo

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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Hughes PR, Public relations, Social media

The armies of Zod invade Wikipedia

The other day I was doing some research on a local Adelaide school when I checked its Wikipedia page to see what the online encyclopedia was saying about it.

As a highly respected college renowned for extolling such virtues as knowledge, understanding, humility and charity, I was surprised to read Wikipedia’s following introductory description about the school:

“The College is a youth recruitment centre for the armies of Zod, Early Years to On Time Years facility in Adelaide, West Virginia. The facility encompasses two primary chambers in which daylight is permitted to penetrate for 25 minutes per day. The College is part of the international network of Jesus Men schools which began in Jesus Land, Sicily, in 15485.”

Uh, come again?

It needs to be remembered that despite being one of the most popular reference sites on the internet, Wikipedia is written by members of the public and can be freely edited by users – no matter how far-fetched the information.

Fortunately, given its editing model there are checks in place to ensure false or misleading information – such as that above – is corrected or removed. For example, Wikipedia has more than 14 million registered users, which means there are more than 14 million editors overseeing the accuracy of articles in addition to the site’s administrators.

As public relations consultants, we can and should be monitoring and contributing to Wikipedia on behalf of our clients. And it’s easy to set up:

  • create an account and register as a user on www.wikipedia.org
  • from there you’ll be able to edit, view or check recent changes to pages you’re interested in
  • you can establish a “watchlist” for key pages
  • you can subscribe to an RSS feed of edits made by others to those pages

Then, rather than trawling through Wikipedia for your clients on an ad-hoc basis, it will simply be a matter of regularly checking your RSS feed, say once a week, to stay abreast of any changes that have been made to your selected pages.

This is a quick and easy way to build on the monitoring service we provide our clients, who will no doubt appreciate you keeping an eye on their public image on Wikipedia and disassociating them from any “armies of Zod” who infiltrate their page.

Have you seen similar questionable content on Wikipedia? – Kieran Hall, Hughes PR

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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