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. 

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GDPR: The Implications for PR & marketing professionals

GDPR (1)

GDPR & the implications for PR & marketing professionals

Are you ready? Are you scared or fully prepared? The GDPR deadline may seem like a long way off, officially coming into effect from May 2018 for Europe. However, there is no time like the present to ensure you are fully versed with the legalities, implications and best practise to avoid brand damaging fines for breaching GDPR rules.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will replace the current Data Protection Act 1998, setting an even higher standard of consent protocols and data regulation. It’s sole purpose is to ensure that data and personal information is protected and not misused or passed on to other organisations without consent. Although such data is currently  freely available and accessible (on contact sections of websites for instance), these new measures prioritise individual’s privacy, the methods in which information is gathered, used stored and destroyed, with the ‘right to be forgotten‘ principle.

New opportunities and challenges arise for SMEs

GDPR isn’t just about data protection. Ensuring that customer data is a priority will create more opportunities for PR and marketing professionals to strengthen the relationships with customers, by engaging them with value-driven, insightful content which informs, educates and amuses. Being honest and transparent in digital communications will be essential going forwards.

The strategy behind generating prospecting lists for sales and marketing efforts will need to change as a result of GDPR. It will be harder and more expensive to promote your business to new, prospective customers if you are a start-up or SME, especially if you have a limited advertising budget. It will put larger corporations, who can afford to increase their ad spend and use different advertising tactics at an advantage. Yet, expensive ad campaigns targeting the masses could potentially be wasteful if the adverts are not relevant to customers wants and needs. Also, consumers may inadvertently pay more because of GDPR, as company’s look to increase prices to cover the cost of greater ad spend.

The Drum reports that the fine for breaching GDPR alone would force 17% of UK companies out of business. Therefore, taking a proactive approach and ensuring your organisation is GDPR compliant will mitigate the risk of being fined.

Personalisation & data

A brand needs data-rich insight to fulfill a personalised ad experience to a consumer or to offer content and services that provide value and are useful. Without this data, a company’s lack of customer insight and tailoring of the wrong types of content could frustrate customers and weaken the connection. Keeping customers in the conversation always and providing valuable, personalised insights & updates will overcome this issue, encouraging  customers to become brand advocates.

While it is imperative to be planning towards next May’s GDPR deadline, it’s worth knowing that the regulations are yet to be finalised. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) are currently seeking clarification on a few aspects and are requesting amendments.

There is a plethora of information available, we advise the best place to seek specific information and to avoid confusion is to visit the official Data Commissioners Office website.



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

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How PR can be measured

PR misconception

Unlike Marketing or Advertising, which have clear, measurable ‘tick-box’ outputs and results, PR is considered by many as ‘fluffy’. A common misconception is that it’s difficult to quantify and thus measure.

Often, people measure the financial equivalent cost of Advertising vs the earned media achieved. However, with the convergence of PR, Marketing and Advertising, there are a multitude of ways to measure the impact of PR.

It’s important to establish your key performance indicators, what tactics and tools you want to implement and the goals you want to achieve. Do you want to be considered as a thought leader or have your brand mentioned in the top ten UK technology oriented magazines and websites?

Demonstrating the success of positive earned media and return on investment can be achieved when you quantify the following:

Press clippings:

Track the number of times your press content is used in your target media to gauge success. However, it shouldn’t just be a numbers game. Try and focus your efforts on ensuring the targeted media outlets are read by your target audience.

Media Impressions:

It is importance to measure reach and brand exposure. A good media database can easily and effectively measure readership and website traffic unique views per month (UVM), which are independently verified. However, you should not take these statistics purely on face value.

Take the time to delve deeper into the engagement rates of online influencers. With the increasing use of bloggers and services such as Instagress, anyone, for a small fee, can easily and quickly ‘buy’ followers. Using these tactics to cheat algorithms and artificially increase followers is very misleading, undermining the influence of others who have built their following organically. Does the influencer have an engaged audience? Are followers actively discussing, sharing and buying the products or services the influencers are promoting?


Read all the press coverage achieved, as it will provide a clear overview of the positive, negative or neutral sentiment of the brand or product. Obviously, the more positive the coverage is, the more successful the PR efforts. If there are spelling mistakes or inaccuracies, don’t be afraid to contact a journalist or influencer to have the content rectified, to ensure it’s not ambiguous.


Calculate the number of click-throughs gained from social media and blog posts. Monitor the website traffic to landing pages and general acquisition through Google Analytics, and delve into spikes in sales and whether they correlate to coverage or scheduled competitions. This will provide great insights and show return on investment. If you have high conversion rates and you know the coverage has increased sales, then the PR efforts have been worthwhile.

Social Media:

There are many social listening tools available which offer in-depth analysis on conversations involving your brand or product. Regardless of your budget, you should at the very least be monitoring brand and product mentions, general conversations, your brand advocates and influencers.

The value in PR is that you have a third party, trusted endorsement, which holds much more weight than a salesy, expensive advert. The reach achieved using PR can go above and beyond traditional marketing channels. However, an integrated combination of all three aspects of PR, Digital Marketing and Advertising will achieve optimum results.

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

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Crisis Communications

Traveling in London (1)

Be honest, authentic and appropriate in a crisis

Crisis management has been centre stage recently with the incident of a passenger being forcibly removed by aviation security officers from a United Airlines flight, with the incident filmed on mobiles.

Handling a communications crisis in an age where news travels in seconds is complicated.

The need for truth

Authenticity is key. A brand needs to be clear about its stance, goals and messaging, but what else should be considered when looking to put together a crisis management strategy?

Crisis strategy

Mandy Brooks gives some pointers:

  • Treat your customers well, as Stephen Waddington notes in response to the United Airlines fiasco. Do everything you can to avoid a crisis. Put your customers first. Be honest, authentic and appropriate.
  • Plan and have a clear strategy for dealing with a crisis. Model different scenarios, know who will respond and how. Know who won’t respond. Clarity and guidance are key.
  • There is a need to react and adapt instantly as events evolve. Have intelligence on your stakeholders. Know which are likely to respond with positive comment and monitor these who could be negative.

When dealing with any communications crisis, what sets you apart is how you plan and react to the situation, your crisis management skills and subsequent communication strategy.

A company or spokesperson should be available to comment, communicate often, be transparent, and honest. Mistakes occur but ensuring they are dealt with promptly and efficiently makes the difference.

At brookscomm we have over 20 years of PR & marketing expertise and a proven track record of success in crisis management. We can help you in a crisis or boost your business so call us on 01483 537 890 or email michael@brookscomm.com

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Fake News & Alternative Facts

Fake News & Alternative Facts- Can PR Survive in a Post Trusth World-

The world of communications is continuously evolving. With the internet and social media, anybody and everybody can voice their opinion, establish themselves as content creators and distribute articles. Buzzfeed has been criticised for reporting unsubstantiated and unverified reports, raising doubts about the ethics of the publication.

Everyone is a content creator

With platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, anyone can write and share stories riddled with uncorroborated facts and hearsay. By the very nature of social media fake news can easily become viral, potentially having severe consequences. Fake news articles can be written and presented in such a way that it is hard to distinguish fact from fiction.

Distrust of the media

Fake news causes problems when news outlets distribute it without verifying the original source. Understandably, publications don’t want to be perceived as not distributing relevant information in a timely fashion. This can cause a distrust of the media.

Fake news has been around for as long as communication between people. The growth of newspapers and television gave power to the media and the ability to share information. However, with this came a realisation that there was a responsibility to corroborate stories if you wanted to be taken seriously as a reputable news outlet. This did not guarantee an unbiased report, but it did provide an element of discipline and time spent checking information. The change brought by the growth of social media is the instant mass sharing of an enormous amount of information, true or false.

Traditional news outlets have difficult decisions to make – do they share a story, or do they take time to corroborate it, thus potentially missing the opportunity?

News travels globally without validation. Fake news shares our screens with verified stories. So, how do you ensure what you are reading and sharing is real? How do you maintain a good reputation in a world where people can easily share untruths about your business?

How to avoid Fake News in your business:

  • Reputation is ‘hard won and easily lost’. Create your business narrative and be authentic. The more you share your real story with genuine updates, the more you will mitigate any negative effect on your reputation from fake news about you.
  • Concentrate on quality. Be timely but check your sources and share information after consideration.
  • When reading news, keep an open mind and look for different sources yourself. Think, how reputable is this source? Is this a source I’ve looked at previously? How reliable is it?
  • Remember – there has always and will always be fake news – it’s up to us to research, to be authentic and to enable factual communication.

At brookscomm we have over 20 years of PR & marketing expertise and a proven track record of success. We can help boost your business, call us on 01483 537 890 or email michael@brookscomm.com

Follow us: @PRexpertsUK   Linkedin: brookscomm  Website: www.brookscomm.com