Why you need to integrate PR & Marketing to drive your business forward

The evolution of Marketing and PR, with the advances of technology, means that amazing, measurable, cost effective and successful integrated campaigns are now increasingly possible. Fast scale-up tech businesses, such as Blink, have used combinations of Digital Marketing and PR in cost-effective ways, escalating and accelerating their route to global success.

It helps that Marketing and PR as disciplines are ever more measurable and ever more similar. Marketing and PR, advertising and social media campaigns are moving closer to each other and overlap in how they are planned and delivered.

Growing expertise of remote working, initially enforced by the pandemic, using entirely online systems and processes, and providing more instant measurable results, is now opening lots of doors in terms of how we all work together and integrate.

It makes complete sense for our customers that we integrate these disciplines and provide a seamless, customer focused, story led approach for brand communications. It’s also much more rewarding to become a part of the client team and look at the business growth and brand boost challenges and opportunities from the business point of view. Solving problems and delivering longer term solutions as a trusted partner with a client makes much more sense than providing a few individual bits of marketing and PR outputs. An effective integrated set of marketing and PR strategies provides clients with the most effective parts of the marketing mix at the right time, seamlessly integrated with other elements of marketing and PR. This should be straightforward but is it?

The challenge of integrating PR and marketing

Let’s face it – integrated service delivery involves losing the smooth edges, the boundaries of individual expertise, the boxes in which we know our particular expertise can sit separately from our colleagues. This can feel uncomfortable.

George Bernard Shaw remarked that the UK and USA are two countries divided by the same language. It is similar with Marketing and PR (or strategic communications). The processes of understanding business goals, who we are targeting, whether customers or other stakeholders, where we will find them and what we need to say to resonate with them and then how we measure the effect of our efforts in terms of business success is the same essentially, across these disciplines. The terminology and approach can be different.

Strategic communications, or PR, still has an identity problem. From my years of PR qualification collecting, I know that PR is just one element of strategic communications. From those same years spent with customers, I know that customers reference PR more often than strategic communications and many customers and practitioners alike are hazy about the definition of both!

Added value for clients from integrated services

It’s challenging to get it right but when you truly integrate you foster:

  • The opportunity for SMEs and larger businesses alike to have the best pieces of the most useful marketing and PR elements at any one time with a flexibility to switch as required
  • Greater innovation as a consequence of the collaboration of a multi-disciplined team of experienced communication professionals
  • Better visibility and understanding of how the components of marketing services work together and therefore a better service delivery for the client
  • A more client focused approach with all of the team taking responsibility for working towards delivering shared business goals, enabling the client to get on with running their business
  • Less jargon, duplication and avoidance of disjointed, disorganised outputs

Defining Integrated services

For us this means ….

Tailoring a range of marketing and PR component services to produce a combined, harmonious suite of services with a unity of purpose and unified systems control. This minimises time and cost and maximises results. These integrated services are brookscomm delivered, client delivered, and/or a combination of both.

Some businesses talk about integrated services but, in reality, offer a number of different marketing and PR services being delivered by different specialists working in silos. This can result in duplication of effort, disjointed messaging, delays, lack of clarity, and potentially failure to deliver business success.

To ensure the range of services are truly integrated and aligned to our customer’s business goals, there needs to be a focus on team information sharing and knowledge, underpinned by collaborative, efficient systems and processes. At brookscomm we are committed to team education and awareness plus effective shared, secure online systems and processes so that we provide the most effective tailored set of services in the most cost effective, time-efficient, and focused way possible.

This is not only better for profit but also better for people and the planet. Something we are very committed to. But more on integration and sustainability next time!

Finally, back to the human element, this is all and always will be a work in progress and we keep talking to our customers and to our team, sharing learning, rolling our sleeves up, and working really hard to deliver success and satisfaction for our clients.

You might also be interested in reading:

How baked beans and Weetabix can help your social media strategy

Ensuring a delivery focused approach to PR and marketing

Think BIG with your communications strategy

Beast from the East and agile PR

Ensuring a delivery focused approach to PR and marketing

We are delighted to announce that we have created a new role, appointing Carys Geer as Client Services Director.

The role of client services director is crucial to our business, as evidenced by our recent smooth switch to whole team remote working. Carys joined brookscomm in 2018 as Project Leader and has key industry experience plus a commitment to exceptional service provisions for our clients.

We caught up with Carys to find out more about the role, what it means to her and how it will benefit brookscomm’s clients.

What does this new role mean for brookscomm? 

Marketing and communications as a practice is continually evolving, changing how we consume and share news with partners, customers, prospects and our peers. As an integrated agency, brookscomm has continued to thrive over the last 25 years by staying agile, anticipating and adapting its services to what its clients need. The Client Services Director role is central to the team, exploring ideas to improve the agency’s future delivery and ensuring outputs are aligned to our clients’ strategic goals. This will enable us to develop our service in a dynamic and forward-thinking way. This is critical when rolling out changes in a business to ensure consistency for both the team and clients.

What does the position mean to you?

In my career to date, I’ve experienced a few different agency environments. Finding the balance between successful delivery to clients, advancing the agency from a commercial perspective and investing in a growing team is notoriously difficult. What’s exciting to me is that this role is an opportunity to oversee and maintain this careful balance at brookscomm, working across all facets of the business. The increased focus on business leadership and development is something that really interests me and provides a great progression for my career path. It’s really rewarding to help shape the agency, develop the PR and marketing experts of tomorrow and deliver services that not just meet client objectives, but also wow our clients.

What prompted the introduction of this new role?

The different elements of this role have always existed at brookscomm sitting within different remits in the agency over the years. The creation of this new role reflects our continued commitment to an integrated approach to delivery at brookscomm. We have various specialists across our service areas within the team and so this role oversees the combined expertise, bringing it all together to provide a seamless, valuable service for our clients. Our integrated service, combining various marketing and PR activities, is adding real value to clients’ businesses and we anticipate this area of the business growing considerably, very much supported by the introduction of this role.

Has COVID-19 impacted how this role was designed to look?

Like the rest of the world, we couldn’t have anticipated the significant changes brought on by the coronavirus crisis. And while we’re extremely fortunate that we can continue working and servicing our clients, how we do this looks different to how it did a few months ago. The same is the case for the client services role, however the fundamentals of the position remain the same. Having a client services lead has been critical in transitioning the team to work from home, ensuring that delivery to clients is impacted as little as possible, and ensuring we can run systems and processes virtually for the agency as normal.

What should prospective clients look for when choosing their communications service supplier?

A company should never underestimate the value of a great marketing and PR agency. We’ve found in recent years that companies get more from in an integrated approach to PR and marketing rather than the disciplines operating in isolation, which helps to streamline activities, get better results and measure outcomes more effectively.

The right agency will be so much more than a group of people delivering good results; they will be consultants with great business acumen, partners that have your best interests at heart and will treat your business as if it was their own. That’s always been our approach at brookscomm, which means our clients get so much more from us than what is agreed at the outset of the campaign or contract. It’s no wonder that so many of our client and media contacts have been with us for decades.

Follow brookscomm on Twitter (@PRexpertsUK) or LinkedIn to stay up to date and find out more about our integrated service offering here.

 

Audience Psychology: Content Messaging Development and Emotional Connection

Messaging and audience insights are an essential step in building your communications strategy.

The ability to understand your target personas, whether these be customers, partners, industry authorities or other audiences, along with their goals and challenges – and how your business value proposition answers these – is critical. The more that you can keep this approach at the heart of your content, the more likely you will be to successfully resonate and engage with your targets and, ultimately, achieve your objectives while building authentic brand confidence.

However, as sustainability and environmental considerations continue to dominate the news agenda, there is an increasing pressure for businesses to demonstrate their values and ethics beyond pure product or service positioning, acknowledging and responding to the broader concerns of their target audiences.

Big brands taking notice of consumer values

This morning’s news includes an announcement from Unilever, stating that they are committing to reduce their use of new plastic by half. The BBC article states that the firm currently produces 700,000 tonnes of new plastic every year and they have cited this commitment as a direct response to the concerns of their customers in the Millennial and Gen Z age brackets, as well as securing the company’s market relevance ‘for years to come’. This story follows similar announcements from other large FMCG corporations, including Coca-Cola and Nestle, highlighting the importance of considering your company values in alignment with your audience interests.

Audience insights and persona development are pivotal elements of our strategic communications work with clients. We work to produce content, messaging and supporting outreach across a range of marketing, PR, social and digital touchpoints, to ensure that the results achieve client objectives and remain customer-centric.

So, as you review your communications activities, consider your audiences:

  • Who are they?
  • What are their priorities?
  • How does our business offer clear benefits which answer their challenges?
  • How do we best demonstrate this?

Corporate Social Responsibility

Then consider your CSR strategy and how this may add to your value proposition. What matters to your audience personally and how does your business meet this, to benefit society beyond pure sales? Does this differentiate you from your competitors and are you able to use this to influence your industry?

Demonstrating your positive connection and commitment to these additional values will ensure that you further engage your targets and increase their ongoing trust in your brand, which can only serve to further enhance the authenticity of your business proposition. If you’d like to discuss how brookscomm can help you to adopt this approach and align it with your communications strategy, please do contact us.

Think BIG with your communications strategy

Since its inception, PR has involved managing and enhancing the reputation of an organisation to its target audience via influencers such as key stakeholders, partners, analysts and the media. The overall objective is to raise the organisation’s profile to support the sales and marketing cycle. Though the core principles haven’t changed, the methods of communicating with audiences and stakeholders have dramatically.

When the main way of communicating with the media a few decades ago may have been franking a press release, we’re now in an always-on environment where accessibility to audiences and influencers has transformed the day-to-day role of a PR professional. Despite these considerable developments, many organisations still devise traditional PR campaigns that don’t make the most of integrated communications, new technology and measurement techniques.

Here’s some recommendations from us at brookscomm to ensure that whatever industry you’re in, you’re thinking big with your communications strategy.

1. Be reactive

By developing articles or commentary in response to changes occurring within your market, or in response to national breaking news stories, you don’t have to be reliant on having your own news to secure press coverage. Sometimes these can take the form of thought provoking and quite controversial commentary, which will create a “buzz” within your area of specialism.

Talking about national issues at a regional, trade and national level will help to establish your reputation as an expert in your field. It also provides a level of reassurance to your existing client base, and future clients, as they will see you as an organisation with an opinion that is respected by the press.

2. Spread the word

Social media has a big part to play in an integrated communications strategy. Once your articles have been published, either in the media or on your website, further reach can be achieved via social media platforms. People may not be reading the publication or browsing your website on the day that your content was published, but we can safely assume now that people are regularly checking their own social media and absorbing new content in this format.

What’s more, sites such as Twitter and Facebook have brilliant SEO qualities. This means that if a prospect is googling you, there’s more chance that your name will appear higher in their results as social media sites are pointing to your name or website.

Our Senior PR Account Manager Alison has also been sharing advice with legal firms around making more of your press coverage. Check out our latest article in the Hampshire Law Society magazine, Hampshire Legal.

advertisements-blur-commerce-518543

3. Go bigger

It’s easy when you’ve been serving a specific set of customers to stick with the same communications approach and focus on them as your target audience. While it’s wise to prioritise this audience, messages you’re promoting to those customers could be replicated to another potential market without much extra work.

Whether that’s a different industry or a region, thinking outside of your existing strategy could reap huge dividends. High quality and informative written material is worth its weight in gold, so if you’ve written it, make the most of it!

4. Track your progress

Whenever you’re completing any communications activity, it’s crucial that you measure the success of your efforts. Not only can you learn the most impactful ways to reach your prospects, you can also discover what content resonates the best and what approach is most beneficial for your sales and marketing strategy.

By utilising online tools such as Google Analytics, you can track what content is bringing the most traffic to your website, and what pages on your website are of most interest to your prospects. Analytics are now also embedded in social media platforms so you can track how many people are viewing or engaging with your tweets, and how your LinkedIn likes have increased overtime.

Whatever your communications strategy, make sure you’re maximising every opportunity to raise your profile by developing creative and relevant content, considering new audiences, showcasing your hard work and measuring your success.

Want to find out more? Get in touch! 
If you have any questions about your communications strategy or how we can help you secure media coverage, please check out our strategic communications offering or get in touch. We’ve helped several organisations raise their profile with their target media resulting in increased sales. Call us on 01483 537 890 or email hello@brookscomm.com

action-plan-brainstorming-complex-212286

The Benefits of a Placement with a PR & Digital Marketing Agency

Looking for a career in PR & Digital Marketing? Our current Junior PR and Marketing Expert Aaron Jackson discusses how a placement with brookscomm has benefited him.

A foot on the career ladder

Often, when I tell people that I’m studying a degree in Media Studies with Film Studies, questions are raised about the employability that accompanies this type of qualification. The connotations with subjects associated with ‘the arts’ are that opportunities following graduation are few and far between thanks to the extremely competitive nature of the industry.

While it may be true that the bright lights of Hollywood are reserved for that select few, studying media equips you with a broad range of skills that can be applied to a number of professional disciplines.

I was introduced to brookscomm through the online recruitment portal that University of Surrey has in place to help students secure a placement in fulfilment of a ‘sandwich’ course (3 years study, 1-year work placement).

The role brookscomm offered was that of a Junior PR and Marketing Executive. A handful of the modules that I had studied covered areas of marketing directly, but PR was more or less uncharted territory from an academic perspective. However, having dabbled in music journalism for the last couple of years, I had been working with PR agencies to some degree.

What attracted me particularly to the role that brookscomm were advertising was the opportunity to dip my toe into not one, but two areas of knowledge that I had a prior interest in. The marketing element would allow me to break away from a lecture theatre and put theory into practice. The PR element would afford me invaluable insight into a world that I had to thank for affording me so many fantastic opportunities as a music journalist.

Moreover, I recognised the role as a rare chance to take another step on the career ladder. As I mentioned, I was already recognising how competitive the media industry is – particularly for students fresh out of university with very little experience.

Research “show(s) that almost two thirds (69%) of hiring employers believe experience is the most important asset when recruiting with 72% of employers also admitting that too much emphasis is placed on qualifications and not enough on experience”.

Now, with nearly a year of experience as an industry professional at brookscomm, I feel well equipped to finish my degree and have a go at that ‘real life’ thing that my parents kept going on about…

The importance of integrated approach

One of the most crucial lessons from this placement that I will take away with me is how important it is for companies to manage their communications with an integrated approach.

In an industry that moves as fast as this one, it’s not enough to focus attention on PR or marketing. The average consumer won’t be thinking about a brand in terms of PR, marketing or social media – they will recognise a brand and their message as one whole entity.

The different areas that contribute to a company’s communication strategy will naturally overlap and cross over into one another to produce the message received by the customer. In light of this, communication professionals should be observing a brand’s messaging strategy through the same lens as a consumer would.

In practice, this involves being flexible and adopting a skillset that spans across the likes of social media, PR, traditional marketing and digital marketing. It has been a massive learning curve to become familiar with all of these variables and, as is often the case, it has taken a bit of time to comfortably work with this mindset.

However, the induction process at brookscomm ensured that, from the start of my placement, I was given a wealth of knowledge and resources with which I could get to grips with this industry.

Within the space of a week, I was contributing to crucial work in the office and was already beginning to feel like an important member of the team. At the point of writing this, I can confidently say that brookscomm has helped me reach a professional standard that has allowed me to work in a way that is integral to the team’s day to day success.

Now is your time

At brookscomm, I have learned things that books could have never taught me. If you’re keen to learn what it takes to work in a professional environment and further progress yourself towards being a top candidate for your dream job in the media industry, then look no further than a work placement.

Our MD Mandy Brooks says: “The placements we offer bring young energy into the office, which is a great way to share experience, generate new ideas and keep the business fresh and exciting.  With the original founders, myself and Chaz, still an integral part of the company, we have established a wide and diverse, knowledgeable, productive results-based team. Each team member is hugely valued and in turn adds particular value to brookscomm.”

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