0

Why integrating business communications matters in 2018

Customers don’t think of brands in terms of digital marketing, advertising, PR or social media, so it makes sense that you shouldn’t either.  Successfully integrating these communication disciplines makes sure your brand messaging is consistent and effective.

Integrated comms is not easy though. It’s especially hard for smaller organisations where there’s less resource or expertise. At first glance it may seem that it requires four times the effort or budget to get results, but that’s not the case. Here’s how you can make your 2018 business comms strategy more effective:

Align goals

Find out from the senior management what the business objectives are for the year. Then plan how your marketing strategy can help achieve these goals. For instance, if the business wants to grow by 20%, understand if this is likely to happen by upselling, acquisition, market diversification or launching a new product etc. Visualise what business communication activities are most likely to support this desired goal in the year ahead.

Aligning the marketing strategy with business objectives may sound obvious, but its surprising how often the previous year’s marketing strategy gets repeated. Aligning goals brings clarity and focus to the marketing strategy.

Profile the customer 

Build a profile of your ideal customer. Speak with your customer service and sales staff to find out what your customers goals and challenges are and how your product/service solves them. If you’re unsure what challenges your customers face, then create a survey and ask them. Include in the profile demographic information so that you know what media and whose opinions your customers value. Use the customer challenges as topics or themes for your business communications plan for the year ahead.

Build an integrated content map

Customers transition through three phases before buying: awareness, consideration and decision making. Using the customer challenges you have identified, envisage what content you can produce for each phase. For the awareness phase try to come up with ideas for content that are eye-catching, short and informative. For instance, an infographic, tips articles, a short advert or quote. The goal here is to reach your customer and impressive on them that your product/service is a possible solution to their problem.

For the consideration and decision making phases you are looking to convert leads. This is where you can use elements of the marketing mix (price,product, promotion, placement) to communicate what is special and unique about your product/service. This type of content is typically longer to consume, more detailed and authoritative than the first phase, its vital that you provide evidence of the benefits that other customers have found from your brand.  Content formats include case studies, white papers, and survey findings, with special offers, discounts to help turn prospects into customers.

Overlay the 2018 calendar to spot seasonal opportunities and finalise your plan to product content that can be repurposed in terms of length and style for PR, digital, social, and advertising formats. If it can’t be used across the four disciplines, seriously consider the value of the exercise.

Use Automation to improve efficiency

The best integrated marketing strategies utilise automation tools to make sure they are regularly communicating with their stakeholders, not just when they publish fresh content.

Automation isn’t expensive or overly complex. Platforms like mailchimp offer basic automation for free. Consider setting up a series of emails which regularly talk to customers who have opted into your comms over a three-month period. Plot the emails and the content they deliver to mirror the buying lifecycle. Older content could be quickly repurposed and added to email workstreams. Integrating email automation with opt-in leads captured from e-advertising on Facebook or from Gleam competitions can be a highly effective and constant stream of new business.

Automation doesn’t just apply to digital marketing. Set up Google trend and publication alerts to be kept informed on developments in your market. Understanding what and when journalists publish in your sector help you fine tune your PR outputs so that your business communications remain aligned and integrated.

At brookscomm we have over 20 years of PR & marketing expertise and a proven track record of providing an integrated communications strategy. We can help you boost your business, email hello@brookscomm.com or call us on 01483 537 890. 

Twitter @PRexpertsUK  Linkedin: brookscomm  Facebook:brookscomm Website: www.brookscomm.com

 

0

Learn new ways of reaching your customers

In today’s busy workplace people don’t like being “sold to” and resent being bombarded with emails and intrusive phone calls.

Successful businesses are using a new approach to reach new customers. An approach that combines the latest proven PR & Marketing tactics to reach, inform and educate your target audience about how your business solves their challenges.

Find out about the difference between old and new style lead generation tactics with our handy comparison infographic:

comparing-ways-of-reaching-new-customers-infographic

0

Fixmestick virus removal device prize draw!

fixmestick5-min

Did you know that one in three PCs running Windows software are infected with malicious software and that one million new forms of virus and malware are created every week?

Computer malware robs your laptop/PC of its resources, causing it to become slow and unresponsive. Viruses are easily automatically installed on your laptop/PC by downloading free software or opening innocuous looking email attachments. Once malicious software gets into Windows it can be impossible to remove with anti-virus software while Windows is running.

brookscomm client FixMeStick has come up with a solution which tackles and removes viruses and malware, including ransomware.  The FixMeStick plugs into your PC via a USB port and proceeds to scan and remove all forms of malicious software – reaching the infections that anti-virus programs cannot, and removing malware inadvertently downloaded by a user. It uses three main anti-virus engines, automatically stays up-to-date against the latest viruses and doesn’t need any passwords or software installation to do its work.

Win your Fixmestick!

We are giving away a brand new Fixmestick on behalf our client, which can be used on 3 PC’s for 1 year. Worth £59.99, all you need to do to enter this prize draw is, to find us on Twitter, follow @FixMeStick & @PRexpertsUK and re-tweet – Good Luck!

The competition is open between 15th and 21st December, entrants must reside in the UK. We will pick a random winner and notify them via Twitter on 22nd December. The Fixmestick will be posted to them via recorded delivery on 22nd December. For full competition terms and conditions click here.

Read the latest reviews of Fixmestick here and here.

To buy your own Fixmestick click here.

1

Advertising is what you pay for but publicity is what you pray for!

Getting positive media brand coverage was recently rated as a priority business objective by tech PR & Marketing professionals in our survey.

This comes as no surprise as tech businesses can achieve rapid growth when their target customers are made aware of the benefits of their products and services. New consumer technology is desired by trend setters and new technology in the business sector can provide customers with substantial cost and time savings.

So, how does a business go about promoting itself to the media and potential clients? With this and other questions I decided to ask Mandy Brooks, our strategy director, and Alison Scarrot, Media Relations Account Manager at brookscomm:

What’s the difference in practice between PR and advertising? Which do you think is more effective?

Mandy says: ”Advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for.”

img_1264_lr-minThere are many articles and opinions on this but put simply, Advertising is paid media, public relations is earned media.

There are of course many opinions on which is best and in what measure but I like the thinking of Steve Cody of Inc. magazine , also quoted in Forbes, who notes: “Countless studies report that, next to word-of-mouth advice from friends and family, editorial commentary (usually generated by your friendly, behind-the-scenes PR practitioner) carries far more weight than advertising.”

“It’s not difficult to understand why,” Cody says. “Advertising continues to embrace an antiquated, top-down, inside-out way of communicating. It reflects senior management’s view on what a consumer or business-to-business buyer should think is important. PR, on the other hand, depends upon listening to the conversation and understanding the who, what, when, where, why and how of engaging in the discussion. Public relations executives excel in storytelling and, typically, present a perceived problem (i.e. childhood obesity) and their client’s unique solution (i.e. a new type of fitness equipment designed by, and for, pre-teens).”

Alison adds: “In practical terms, PR is content in the form of a story or news article that a media editor deems timely, relevant and newsworthy to the audience. When printed or posted, it is perceived as a trusted third-party endorsement of a brand. Whereas advertising is the method of paying the publication to ensure a brands messaging will be included. Through advertising, brands can control the exact wording and image of their brand and it’s guaranteed exposure.

However, advertising is always perceived as a company endorsing itself and therefore has less credibility than PR.  In our experience a combination of both is very effective and maximises the reach and credibility of the brand but if I had to choose, I would say that PR is more effective as its more sincere and relevant to the reader. And also because people are accustomed to glancing over advertising.

How can the results of media relations be measured?

There are different ways to measure the impact of media relations.

Mandy notes: “We always provide details of the circulation and readership figures for publications plus the demographics of the reader where this information is available. Although we can’t be sure that everyone who looks at a newspaper or website reads in detail, this gives us a good guide to how many people have had your story put in front of them. We work closely on the right messaging with our clients, ensuring that we include information that resonates with the target audiences. We measure how often these messages are included in PR coverage.”

Alison adds: “A good specific example highlighting how our tech PR campaigns measurably and successfully bring in leads is that we work with some specialist tech businesses whose products are featured in trade publications. In the articles we have published there are reference codes for interested parties to quote if they enquire about the products. Our customers have been very happy with the sales from these enquiries. We provide all of our clients with monthly reports on media inclusion, from these they can see a correlation between media coverage and traffic to their websites. We encourage all our clients to ask where leads heard about them. It’s always nice to hear during review meetings that a client has converted a lead that PR coverage has generated for them!

If I was to consider hiring a Tech PR agency how can I tell if it is good?

alisonAlison says: “Domain expertise is vital when it comes to appraising agencies. If the agency doesn’t understand the product or the industry it may struggle. Likewise, if the agency doesn’t have media contacts with relevant publications, it might not be able to get the brand noticed effectively by the publications and the target audiences and potential customers the client is looking to engage.

Clients should look and ask for testimonials and examples of work to gauge the suitability of an agency. Other factors to consider include how long the agency has been in business and its size.

The most important factor to consider is the strength of the relationship with the account manager you’ll be working with. With some larger agencies, it’s possible that the senior person you meet with won’t be working on your account, this can cause misunderstandings and quality issues.”

What changes in trends have you noticed in Media Relations during your career?

Alison says: “When I started my career the Internet didn’t exist! We relied on print and post for correspondence with journalists and clients which although slow, certainly made life simpler in some ways! The advent of digital technologies has vastly widened the range of media publications and the potential reach of our clients’ brand and messages. The old forms of media (print, radio, TV) have diversified which has provided us with further possibilities with digital publications and the opportunity to harness the power of blogging and online reviews to promote products and services.

The variety of media formats available now is amazing and provides so many more opportunities, although with so many options, it can sometimes be a challenge to determine which publications to target. This is where knowing the publications in detail and understanding your client’s products and objectives comes into play.

Digitisation has also had a significant impact when it comes to influencing journalists. An editor recently told me he receives over 2000 PR requests each day. This means we need to produce articles for clients which are clear, concise relevant, attention-grabbing and newsworthy. When you are writing about complex technology this is even more important.

Mandy adds: “I’ve also seen client’s expectations change, especially during the last 5 or so years. Clients need a more strategic service which aligns with their business objectives and provides measurable results.  They like it that we’re able to integrate media relations, PR and digital marketing services. For us this has made the role more strategic and entrepreneurial, more measurable and more enjoyable.

More than ever, we feel that we are a vital part of our clients team, very much focused on achieving business outcomes for each  individual client by utilising a specifically tailored integration of PR, marketing and lead generation services to achieve the best results.”

img_1477_lr

0

Assault by Battery: Can Samsung stop its reputation from going up in flames?

Assault by Battery: Can Samsung stop its reputation from going up in flames?Launched in August 2016, the Galaxy 7 Note is the most expensive phone ever released by Samsung. In recent weeks, a significant number of consumers reported that their devices had burst into flames, prompting Samsung to issue a global recall of the 1 million sold units that it had sold so far.

The cause of the damage is relatively common.  Most portable, rechargeable devices such as smart phones, tablets, laptops and even Tesla cars are powered by lithium-ion batteries. Faults occur when the batteries are charged too quickly or by tiny manufacturing errors, causing a short-circuit which can lead to fire.

This isn’t the first time that a consumer electronics giant has had to issue a global recall due to battery failure. In 2006, Sony, the pioneer of lithium-ion battery technology (they rolled out the first commercially available version in 1991) had to recall over 4 million batteries which were used to power Dell, Apple and Lenovo laptops. The short-term cost of the short circuiting batteries was reported by Sony to its shareholders in 2006 to be $432m.

However, the dent on Sony’s previously untarnished reputation for manufacturing excellence coincided with consecutive, heavy, year-on-year operating losses from its battery division, culminating into a $600m write-off and the eventual sale of the business unit to Apple battery supplier Murata. 

Samsung’s smoke signals

Samsung have acted swiftly to try to save the Galaxy 7 Note, but their hastiness in doing so may have inadvertently sealed the phones fate.  Customers have reported that the same problem is still occurring with the supposedly upgraded replacement models.  The defect has clearly yet to be resolved, and the situation is turning into a PR disaster for Samsung. This week, the South Korean Government launched an official investigation to get to the bottom of the issue.

Industry analysts say investigating why the Note 7 devices caught fire, with more than 100 incidents in the United States alone and costing Samsung $5.3 billion from its operating profit over the next two quarters, is crucial for the world’s largest smart phone maker.

What can they do to save their reputation?

1: Understand the problem

It may seem obvious, but getting to the root of the issue is essential to rebuild the trust in Samsung as a technology innovator. They must ensure that all future smart phone product lines don’t have the same issue as the Galaxy Note 7.

2: Be transparent

The results of the Government investigation should be shared with the public including detailing what went wrong, how they will fix it and what they will do to prevent it from happening again. Mistakes happen, consumers can be forgiving if they are assured that the brand is being honest and up-front with them.

3: Be decisive

Considering Sony’s losses following its battery woes and the recent entry of Google into the premium smart phone market, the right move might be to completely mothball the Galaxy 7 Note.  This would take the ailing product out of the firing line, preventing further embarrassing headlines and draw a line under the fiasco.

4: Remind the market of your success

The Galaxy 7 Note might be a rotten apple, but the rest of the barrel aren’t. Samsung has the largest share of the global smartphone market, which is no small part due to the reliability and build quality of their products. They should make efforts to remind customers of their proven track-record with smartphones. And to further illustrate their credentials, should educate consumers about the reliability of their diverse range of consumer electronic products.

What do you think Samsung should do next about the Galaxy 7 Note?

Is the Galaxy Note series doomed now?

Do you think Samsung’s reputation will be seriously damaged by the Galaxy 7 Note fiasco?

Let us know by leaving a comment in the box below: