Tips to improve engagement on your video meetings

Once upon a time, a person settled down to a late-night global video meeting, one of hundreds of participants around the world. The attendee lit a desktop candle for ambience. As the presentations wore on into the night, the person played with the candle: testing how close a strip of paper could be held to a flame before catching alight.  

Eventually, one strip burned closer than expected to the attendee’s fingers. Who dropped the burning taper on the desk, thereby lighting a pile of paper. Commotion ensued, featuring lusty profanities, leaping, a jug of water and a sweaty forehead.  

Unfortunately for that attendee, the video camera was on and the mute button was off.  

This is just one example of how losing the engagement of video meeting participants can go badly. While attendees are absolutely responsible to take part in a video meeting as they would in an in-person meeting, there is also an onus on the host to run a meeting in a way that engages participants.   

Across The Recognition Group we’ve worked with a distributed workforce for more than a decade. Here is a list of our favourite etiquette tips to help hosts maximise the effectiveness of video meetings and make sure participant engagement remains high. 

  1. Plan the agenda and share in advance. As the host of a meeting, video or otherwise, its invaluable to send an agenda to the attendees in advance so each person can (i) gather their thoughts on the given topic and (ii) offer feedback to shape the agenda. If possible, share reference files in advance too.  
  1. Invite the right people. With so much communication happening over video meetings, few of us have the luxury of joining a call to hear a bunch of rambling chit-chat. Keep your meeting focused by inviting the people who need to know what is going on, or who are critical to next steps.   
  1. Do the checks. Do the checks you know you should: make sure you have power, a stable internet connection and that the camera and microphone are working. Don’t start computer or equipment reboots or upgrades right before a video meeting. Those upgrades can take way longer than you expect.  
  1. Vanity check. Turn on the screen before anyone arrives to see how you look. This isn’t really vanity, it’s practical. Make sure the background is appropriate, that your face is front lit (without blinding you), that no intense patterns or colour combinations are on-screen and that you look slightly up at the camera. Slightly. Enough to keep your chin parallel to the floor. Not so high you show nasal hair.  
  1. Log in early. Head to the video meeting early, particularly if it’s running on software you don’t use often. A host risks losing engagement before the meeting even starts by arriving ten minutes late because you had to download the software. 
  1. Introductions. With a lot of video meeting participants, not all attendees are visible on the screen. Do a quick round of introductions to make sure everyone knows who is present. Be sensible: if you’re hosting a global call with 200 attendees, summarise the represented teams and don’t take 20 minutes for introductions.  
  1. Plan for small talk. Starting a video meeting with small talk helps participants connect to the space and become present with the other participants on the call. Plan to dedicate time to small talk.  
  1. Recap why you’re there. Focus attendees by revisiting the agenda and reminding folks why they’ve been gathered. Touch on needed outcomes to keep attendees focused on the task at hand.  
  1. Assign jobs. Set clear expectations from the outset on the roles you expect participants to play. Great roles are note-taking, time keeping, facilitating and doing a read-out at the end of the meeting on agreed next steps.  
  1. Quiet meetings. If the meeting goes quiet, ask questions to gauge what participants are thinking. Use creative openers, such as Mary, if money was no object, what are two thoughts you have to improve this project? Don’t be shy to show you’re a host who asks direct questions. No-one wants to look like they’re not paying attention so future engagement will likely improve if you make a habit of asking questions.  
  1. Be engaging. Do you enjoy sitting through a boring presentation or meeting? Right. No-one does. As a host, it boosts engagement when you’re prepared with questions to encourage discussion, use good visuals, do something unexpected (obviously appropriate) or use ice breakers.  
  1. Numbed by slides. Nothing numbs a group into silence more than when a presenter churns through endless slides in a meeting. The rule of thumb in video meetings is to use the least number of slides possible. Challenge yourself.  
  1. 25 and 55minute meetings. Most calendaring products offer pre-defined meeting duration times. Guess what? You don’t have to use them! Research shows 25-minute and 55-minute meetings help hosts double meeting impact in half the time. The secret? Have the right people in the meeting and stay focused.  
  1. Food and beverages. Simple rule: don’t eat during meetings. No-one looks their best wrapping their mouth around food. Whether you have your video on or not, eating in a meeting is noisy, impolite and risks mess. While a mug or glass of your chosen beverage is acceptable, be mindful of swigging anything from a bottle. It’s not a good look. 
  1. Mute button. A soundbite of background noise is usually politely forgiven on the average video meeting, but no-one really wants to hear the rooster crowing, the neighbour’s leaf blower or expletives when you spill your coffee. Mute when you’re not speaking. And, for goodness sake, unmute to speak. We are all well and truly over the sentence You are on mute! 
  1. Pay attention. Once a host has attendees engaged and working, it might be tempting to cruise for a few minutes. Maybe finalise an online shopping order, check the weekend weather, or trim a hang nail. Squash the temptation. Participants notice when someone isn’t present and it’s like throwing a bucket of cold water over their own engagement levels.   
  1. Wrap early. Discussion over, next steps and owners agreed upon? Finish the meeting. Everyone appreciates the gift of time. Hosts who are known for getting things done and finishing early spark engagement from participants who want to do the same.  
  1. Follow up. A video meeting is simply another way to run an in-person meeting. Follow up the meeting with a summary of the key points, agreed actions, owners and timeframes for next steps.  

The Recognition Group have been helping organisations of all sizes, across all industries, improve the effectiveness and engagement of video meetings for over ten years. We do it so often that we created a presentation training package to help. Contact us to find out more about how we can help.  

Is your business ready to be a thought leader?

The world of business learned many lessons in 2020. One of these critical lessons was the importance of having strong leaders to set the tone and guide the business through difficult times. Just as employees look to follow strong leaders within their own businesses, the business community at large looks for thought leaders to provide insights on how to weather challenging situations, overcome business challenges, and achieve growth in a disrupted landscape.  

Establishing your business as a thought leader can position your company as an expert in your field, with potential partners and customers looking to you for ideas and information, as well as product and service advice, as your reputation builds.  

While there are a number of benefits in positioning your business as a thought leader, two key benefits are: 

  1. Increased exposure: being a thought leader increases your potential for publicity and exposure to new audiences. If you’re seen as a leader in your field and industry, journalists are more likely come to you for advice and guidance on major industry changes and innovations. Being quoted and profiled in a variety of media increases the potential number of people you can connect with for business opportunities, too. 
  1. Increased trust and credibility: being quoted with regularity in reputable publications as an industry leader increases your credibility with new audiences. This can lead to greater familiarity and trust within the industry, and increased business opportunities with potential customers and partners.  

Thought leaders can inspire change and genuinely influence industries. They can also help to turn new ideas into reality, and generate more revenue and business opportunities for their organisation and for companies that follow their lead. Not every company has the potential to become a great thought leader in their industry; it requires a number of factors to be in place. So, how do you know if your business is ready to take the plunge and step up? 

Here are a few essential qualities that need to be in place before embarking on a thought leadership strategy: 

  • A genuine expert. It’s people that help companies build their reputation as thought leaders. True experts within your business who have innovative, original thoughts and ideas and knows how to communicate them are key. Importantly, these experts must be willing to stand out from the crowd, to put their head above the metaphorical parapet and defend their position. 
  • A unique perspective. Me-too commentary rarely attracts interest from the media or from your target audience. You need to focus on a new issue that hasn’t been explored, or provide a new way of thinking about a common or emerging issue. Repeating what everyone else has said makes you a follower, not a leader.  
  • Back-up from your team. Thought leadership needs to come from an expert but it also needs to be supported by knowledgeable employees who can provide feedback and input on ideas and content generated to maximise quality.  
  • Communications capabilities. The most innovative ideas in the world go nowhere if you can’t tell people about them. To become established as a thought leader, you need to communicate your ideas in a variety of ways. This can include various owned and earned media opportunities that leverage written, visual, and other types of content to disseminate your ideas.  

If you’re looking to position your company as a thought leader in 2021, The Recognition Group can help. Our team provides guidance on: 

  • what thought leadership is and why it matters 
  • the different types of thought leadership 
  • how to build a thought leadership strategy and execution plan 
  • critical success factors 
  • ways to effectively measure success. 

To get started on your thought leadership journey, contact The Recognition Group, or register for our upcoming event series: https://www.therecognitiongroup.com.au/events  

How to adapt marketing communications to an unpredictable world

Marketing and communications professionals are adept at being adaptable; it comes with the territory of these professions. However, recent events have been challenging to even the most experienced marketing and communications practitioners, who may be finding it tough to keep key messaging and campaign themes aligned with events of the day. 

While current events are challenging, it’s not the first time multiple major events have occurred simultaneously. For example, within a period of two years, Australia’s insurance industry alone had to deal with the collapse of HIH, a royal commission, a nationwide public liability insurance crisis, multiple natural disasters involving bushfires and floods, the SARS virus, and the September 11 and Bali terrorist attacks.  

In situations such as these, how do communications and marketing professionals stay both relevant and sensitive to topics and issues of the day? 

There are five key things to consider when progressing marketing and communications plans in a volatile environment: 

  1. Empathy 

No matter who your target audience is and what role they play in an organisation, remember they are all human and emotionally impacted either directly or indirectly by external events.  

As major events are unfolding, consider how they will impact your own organisation, your clients and potential target audiences on both a professional and personal level.  

This degree of empathy helps marketers and communicators tailor messages that suit the issue and affected audiences. It involves more of an ‘outside-in’ view of the world, rather than a view of how the organisation will communicate its message outwards. In this way, the message helps to solve a problem for target audiences, rather than becoming an ill-timed and ill-pitched product promotion. 

An empathetic approach is particularly important in getting the tone of voice right on social media. Organisations don’t need to comment on major events, and should avoid doing so, unless they can offer some considered advice that will solve a problem for target audiences and be sensitive to the situation. Senior communicators should develop this content rather than junior staff members because social media and websites are the new shopfront for organisations. This is where most people will gain their first impression of a business, so you don’t want it displaying messages that aren’t based on a full understanding of the nuances involved. 

  1. Keep informed, not obsessed, about the news of the day 

With so much happening at one time, marketers and communicators can easily be caught up in the whirlwind of information. 

While it’s important to be informed and on top of current issues, there is a fine line between becoming informed and being obsessed with an issue. Obsession can make it hard to provide a clear and objective view of the situation for your target audiences. 

It’s important to obtain the facts about an issue from a trusted source, such as official channels or non-commercial news providers. While it may be interesting to see different perspectives about an issue on consumer social channels, don’t let this information cloud your judgement or your communications about the issue.  

If you find yourself becoming obsessed, consider limiting your view of issue updates to two to three times per day, unless of course it’s an issue that is unfolding minute-by-minute. Only rely on trusted sources of information. Turn off automatic social news feeds if you find you are becoming emotionally impacted or distracted by an issue. 

  1. Don’t plan too far in advance 

The digital business environment and the rapidly evolving global market have permanently changed planning cycles across all work functions in organisations.  

Developing an annual outline of potential ideas and activities is still relevant, but solid annual marketing and communications plans can easily become obsolete. If you focus on a comprehensive, 12-month marketing or communications plan, you could find yourself needing to redo the plan six months down the track. 

Instead, focus on a three-to-six month plan, with some potential ideas that extend beyond six months but can be easily adapted as market forces change. 

This approach also helps your organisation to become more agile and adaptable, and ensures your messages remain relevant no matter what market conditions are present. 

  1. Know that people still need to hear your message 

While marketers and communicators need to be sensitive to societal issues, equally they must be sensitive to the needs of their audiences. Outside of the issue, the world still turns, and business still needs to be done. This means that there are problems your target audiences need to solve, and they rely on your insight and expertise to do so.  

Thought leadership on key topics that provide valuable insights and advice for your target audiences is still powerful for conveying key messages, without being insensitive to societal issues. 

  1. Be prepared to adjust content and let some ideas go 

As a marketer and communicator, flexibility and adaptability are key. Thinking on your feet can be a great buzz as you adapt to keep pace with market demands. It can be frustrating when you’ve worked hard on a great idea that suddenly has no relevance to what is happening in society.  

When this occurs, consider your idea with a new perspective that is more relevant to the current environment. An entire campaign theme could go out the window but there is always something from that campaign that can be salvaged and reused.  

Ultimately, being an adaptable marketer and communicator in an unpredictable environment is a great opportunity to capitalise on your creativity, innovation and problem-solving skills, while further developing your empathy, which will make you a much stronger and more effective communicator in the long term, even when peace reigns in the outside world. 

Four overlooked reasons to enter B2B industry awards

Here are four important reasons to make time for entering B2B industry awards. 

 1. Employee mojo 

Industry awards are an ideal platform to recognise the efforts of your team. Whatever the awards outcome, letting your team know you value their work enough to showcase it for an industry award is a terrific boost for employee confidence and motivation.  

If the campaign makes the shortlist, earns a nomination or wins a category, the celebration and internal communication processes to share the good news are great ways to nurture employee motivation and raise the profile of marketing across the organisation.  

2. New business  

All existing and prospective customers want to work with the best brands. Industry award nominees and winners are one quick way to potentially find those brands.  

Why? Because industry awards should recognise excellence in a given field. External validation of your successes through industry recognition gives a stamp of credibility to your brand which is a compelling differentiator for new business.  

3. Peer benchmarking 

The process of nominating your campaign for an industry award gives you a court side seat to compare what you’re doing with others in your space. Yes, comparing notes with B2B industry peers means walking a fine line between giving away the techniques that made your campaign a success and sharing enough insight that peers feel comfortable to share in return. It’s worth sharing because the chance to see the best campaigns from brand peers can provide insight to help improve. 

4. Brand awareness 

Being listed for an award will improve awareness of your brand. Nominations and wins are ideal to use in ongoing marketing efforts to endorse your brand’s thought leadership, talented team and marketing credibility among peers.   

A word to the wise  

If you’re notified by an organisation your brand won an award, but you haven’t submitted an entry, be wary of further engagement and don’t go ahead and pay for tickets to attend the awards dinner. Be cautious if you, or your peers and colleagues, have not heard of the award or the awards organisation. New awards come along every year but take care when learning about new programs to make sure you don’t inadvertently end up in a scam or participating in awards which don’t add value to your brand.  

How to create a successful awards submission  

Preparingoutstanding industry awards submissions is a whole other story so here are just three quick tips to help you get started: 

  1. Make a calendar. Quality submissions take time to prepare. Don’t leave it to the last minute. Map out the deadlines for each award so you and your team can fully plan and gather the supporting materials.  
  2. Tell a story. Craft the submission as a story so the judges understand the goals that drove how the campaign formed, and what it achieved.  
  3. Metrics. Nothing rivets attention like hard, quantifiable metrics. Proven results to back up a story are compelling data points to make sure judges take your submission seriously.  

Across The Recognition Group, we’re firm believers in the value of B2B industry awards and have written successful applications for over a decade (although we are awesome at doing them for our clients we don’t generally do them for ourselves!). Contact us to talk about how we cut the complexity of creating submissions or to explore some of the industry awards we’ve helped clients enter.  

How to select the right PR agency for your business

Choosing the right public relations (PR) agency to work with can be a daunting prospect. You want to select an agency that will work with you—and for you—to get the best return on investment for your company. While most PR agencies work to achieve similar outcomes, the way that they operate can differ significantly, and this can affect the success of your campaigns.  

It can be hard to know which agency is right for you until you’re working with the team. By then, however, you may risk wasting time and resources on campaigns that don’t deliver the results you’re looking for. So how can you decide which PR agency is right for your business before it gets to that point?  

There are three key things you should consider before engaging a PR agency: 

1. Understand what you want to achieve: it’s important to start with the end in mind so you can take the right steps from the start. When choosing a PR agency, this means understanding what you want to achieve from your PR strategy. Your primary goal may be to create brand awareness or to improve your company’s reputation, or to increase sales and generate more leads for the company. These goals require a different approach and your chosen agency should be able to demonstrate how they’ll successfully hit those goals for you. If the agency understands your expectations and can propose a strategy that will meet those expectations, then the relationship is likely to be a good fit. 

2. Know who you want to reach: understanding and identifying your target market is critical in developing a PR strategy. While your PR agency can help you determine the best ways to reach your target audience, you need to know who you want to speak to and why. Without knowing who you want to reach, you can confuse your messaging and fall short of the goals you want to achieve. 

3. Have clear messaging: knowing the top three-to-five messages you want your audience to understand is essential. Identifying the most important elements of your business that potential customers should know, including how you can help them solve business challenges or industry pain points, will help you to reach your desired audience. While your PR agency can help you finesse the specific messaging and how to get in front of the right prospects, it’s essential that you can identify what you want potential customers or partners to know about you. 

Once you have these three elements in place, you can start to consider what to look for in the right PR partner. This can include: 

Consultants: when you engage a PR agency, you’re engaging a team of consultants with the expertise and specialist knowledge you need to help your business. Look for an agency that acts as an extension of your team, but isn’t full of ‘yes men’. Your PR agency shouldn’t just take your briefs and execute them. For maximum value, you need a team that will challenge your assumptions, provide strategic counsel, and, sometimes, tell you what you don’t want to hear. This should always be done in the spirit of collaboration and honesty, with the organisation’s goals in mind.  

Understanding: while you want to work with an agency that has experience, it’s important that you look for an agency that has relevant experience. The right agency will understand your industry, challenges, and pain points and, more importantly, how to address them. If you’re a B2B tech company, then a PR agency that usually works with consumer goods and lifestyle products may not help you meet your target audience. 

Values: finding a PR agency that aligns with your values will help ensure you’re cooperating well and working for the same end goal. For example, if your team is available and working 24 hours a day, you may want to find out whether your chosen agency will also make teams available when you need them. Alternatively, if your company supports flexible working and a good work-life balance, engaging the services of an agency that works their employees from 7am to 7pm may not be the right cultural fit. 

The benefits of working with a great PR agency can include increased positive media coverage, growing brand awareness, and rising sales. But choosing the right PR agency can be as tricky and as rife with pitfalls as finding the right romantic partner. Both require careful vetting, a trial period with a focus on outcomes, and a certain X factor that is hard to define but easy to spot.  

For companies choosing a PR firm, the X factor tends to be that extra value that the firm can add, the rapport you can create with the team members, and the cultural fit that makes working together feel seamless as you watch the results come in. If you’re ready to start your PR journey with the right agency, contact The Recognition Group today.  

Why you should continue your marketing activity throughout the holidays

While many businesses see an increased appetite for goods and services in the lead up to Christmas, often marketing managers scale back campaigns in January.

Pausing, or scaling back, campaigns may mean you’re missing out on potential leads. Marketing throughout the holiday period can help you avoid the January slump and set up growth opportunities for the new year. This means you can get a head start that could put you ahead of your competitors in 2021.

If you’re not convinced that running any marketing activity throughout the summer is effective, here are four reasons that may change your mind:

1. Your marketing might switch off, but your audience does not 

While your clients and prospects may be on annual leave over Christmas, and undoubtedly looking forward to a break from Zoom meetings, this doesn’t mean they will switch off entirely. Many of us are in the habit of frequently checking our phones, particularly social media and, during downtime, audiences will likely still interact on digital platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Remaining in-market across the holiday season helps you reach these prospects who have more free time and available headspace than they do throughout the year. This gives them an opportunity to consider your goods and services for when they need them, and can help your business drive sales even throughout the quieter periods.

2. Generate cut-through in a content-fuelled environment 

With fewer competitors advertising throughout the holiday season, reduced competition means that campaigns over this period can deliver stronger cut-through and a better return on investment. For example, last Christmas, the average cost per click (CPC) for campaigns running on LinkedIn dropped 23 per cent.1

A lower CPC is not only more cost-effective for your business, but also guarantees a higher number of prospects will see your content and advertisements for the same amount of marketing spend.

3. Re-engage those who have previously engaged 

If customers have purchased in the past, then it might be timely to re-engage and drive further value. It’s important to check in and determine whether they need further assistance, ascertain if their needs have changed, or determine if there are any more lead opportunities. It also provides a way to keep in touch with new and existing customers and stay top of mind.

4. Protect your share of voice

When businesses pause their marketing campaigns, competitors fill the void. To regain that lost business and exposure is difficult, as your competitors may have already engaged your audiences, giving them no reason to explore further options. By remaining in-market over the holiday period, you can improve your chances of prospects noticing your content and considering your business when they need your services.

If you want to roll into 2021 with full steam, The Recognition Group can help develop your marketing plan and strategy to get you there. Contact us today.

Addressing the need to maintain and improve communication with remote working teams

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, businesses have had no choice but to quickly adapt to broadscale remote working. This has created a seismic shift in the working landscape. Employers and employees alike now know that working from home doesn’t necessarily mean productivity will fall, and many employees are relishing the opportunity to avoid lengthy commutes. There is escalating speculation that the future of work will include far more flexibility in terms of location, with many businesses wondering if they need physical offices at all.    

The ready availability of high-functionality tools such as Zoom, emails, instant messaging, and voice over IP (VoIP) phones means teams can collaborate and communicate effectively. Doing so may just take a little bit more effort and proactive thought than was required in the past.  

It’s critical to consistently communicate with your team to maintain productivity, keep employees mental health in check, avoid the risk of isolation, and foster inclusion and clear lines of responsibility.   

At The Recognition Groupwe’ve had a distributed workforce for many years. Based on our experience, here are some ideas for managing a remote team and keeping your employees connected even when they’re not physically together:   

1. Improve your internal communications 

Moving from in-person to remote teams can change the pace of employee conversations. Your team members have gone from being able to discuss work tasks with colleagues who are sitting within an arm’s reach to having to figure out alternative methods of communication. Often, this means defaulting to emails, which can slow the process down and can make employees uncertain whether their colleagues will read and respond to the email in a timely fashionThis can lead to increased frustration and a decrease in productivity.  

Digital technology such as instant messaging can improve internal communications. Some email client programs also have inbuilt, real-time messaging tools which display who’s available, in a meeting or busy. This lowers the barriers to clear communication with colleagues and upper management. It also streamlines communication efforts by dispersing information faster and, arguably, in a more engaging way.  

2. Communicate regularly and often 

Making it easy for employees to keep up to date with business changes without having to look for them will increase engagement levels and reduce the general sense of uncertainty. Using digital tools such as email, intranets and group chats makes it easier to keep employees informedThis will feed their natural craving for information and prevent potentially damaging rumours from developing. Employees will appreciate the opportunity to understand the health of the business and the role they can play in maintaining that health.  

To improve face-to-face communication, organising fortnightly or monthly staff meetings via online collaboration tools like Zoom or Teams can foster inclusiveness and reduce barriers to developing professional relationships. Meetings can cover business updates, new initiatives, current challenges and more. To make these meetings even more interestingit can be worth considering including employee recognition and open conversations that facilitate new ways of thinking and encourage people to contribute. 

3. Mix up workflows by increasing the rate of continuous engagement  

Remote working shouldn’t kill collaboration. Maintaining teamwork can keep communication active and increase accountability for the delivery of work. Assigning employees to teams will foster better ideas and outcomes plus reduce the mental health impact on individuals who think they need to work solo.  

4. Strengthen the workplace culture

A positive workplace culture will create a healthy and productive working team that feels connected and engagedTo achieve this, it’s helpful to understand different personalities and approaches while also improving bonding across all levels. Managers can foster and influence workplace culture through the way they embrace and encourage employees to share their ideas to improve the business. Positive workplace culture can be tested against whether employees have healthy morale, are eager to work, and are satisfied in their roles. If not, it’s important to address the culture deliberately and strategically to deliver real improvements that touch every employee  

It’s important to note that team drinks and trivia nights don’t set the company culture. Culture comes from the top of the organisation and is reinforced by every action and every communication within the business.   

The COVID-19 disruption is likely to continue for some time yet. It is important for business leaders to pause and reflect on how communication is being managed in the workforce and whether the culture is strong and positive. Where appropriate, you should implement practices to increase levels and channels of communication to foster a harmonious workplace. Working remotely does not mean there’s no way to build a strong culture, celebrate successes and people or build morale. On the contrary; these things are now more important than ever.   

The Recognition Group has extensive experience in developing internal communications programs to help organisations improve their culture and employee engagement. To find out how we can help your business, contact us today.  

Why jargon and buzzwords should not appear in your marketing copy

Relying on jargon or buzzwords when trying to develop effective marketing copy can create a disconnection with your audience. While a few carefully placed industry terms can show your audience that you’re speaking their language, jargon and buzzwords are more likely to turn readers off than attract them. If you’re looking to attract customers who are new to your industry, you need to write copy that’s clear, unambiguous, and compelling.

Using jargon and buzzwords liberally can indicate that the content writer is trying to gloss over a lack of knowledge or that they have nothing new or useful to say about the topic. Industry terms can serve as a useful shortcut to convey meaning but actual jargon gets in the way of effective communications.

Here are four ways to jettison the jargon and increase engagement with your audience:

1. Keep your current and potential customers in mind

Before writing a word, it’s important to stop and think who your target audience is and what they already know. Then you can determine how to create compelling content that resonates with this audience and accurately conveys your brand message. If there are terms only your current customers would know, consider using more common words to explain those concepts when you’re writing for potential customers. If you’re selling complex products or services, then communicating clearly becomes even more important. This means simplifying the language you use and aiming for fewer than 20 words per sentence to facilitate readability.

2. Steer away from acronyms and initialisms

Some industries are awash in acronyms and initialisms and writers can be too quick to assume that readers will know what they mean. For example, SME can equally stand for subject matter expert or small to medium enterprise. The context may make the meaning clear but good writers make sure readers don’t have to rely on context to understand their message. Even if you’re using an acronym or initialism you think is widely known, it always pays to spell it out for your readers. This lets them stay invested in your copy rather than getting distracted by terms they don’t recognise.

3. Test it with different audiences first

If you’re fully immersed in your industry, you may not even realise when you’re using jargon or buzzwords so it can be useful to test your content with various audiences to make sure it’s jargon-free and easy to understand. As part of this process, you should consider the keywords you’ll include in your content to make it easy to find online. This will make it easy for customers to discover your business.

4. Keep it simple

It’s important to communicate your idea or message in the simplest way. Don’t use cliches or tired expressions, or metaphors that unnecessarily disrupt the flow of your content. Find new or more impactful ways to communicate those messages.

If your organisation is facing challenges in developing effective and clear marketing collateral, The Recognition Group offers copywriting services to meet a wide range of audiences. Engaging with a marketing agency can help businesses focus on new revenue streams while we deliver always-on marketing and lead generation programs. 

Recognition PR rebrands and launches new website

September 282020 One of Australia’s largest groups of privately-owned public relations and marketing agencies has rebranded under one name, The Recognition Grou(www.therecognitiongroup.com.au) 

The group is comprised of three separate agencies: Recognition PR (www.recognition.com.au); Outsource (www.outsource.com.au); and Write Away Communication (www.writeaway.com.au). 

The Recognition Group is owned by Liz Marchant and Adam Benson, employs 31 fulltime staff members and supports more than 80 clients in Australia and New Zealand. 

The new brand reinforces how the three agencies integrate to deliver paid, earned and owned programs for clients in the B2B IT, professional services, consumer technology, lifestyle, building and not-for-profit sectors.  

Liz Marchant, CEO, The Recognition Group, said, “The Recognition Group’s agencies are highly specialised, offering deep industry expertise in a variety of vertical markets Our teams work together to create bespoke campaigns that incorporate content development, lead generation, IT channel marketing, media relations, design and digital elements 

Bringing the three agencies under a single brand umbrella positions us more clearly in market as a multi-market, multi-disciplinary agency group, which clients are increasingly expecting.” 

Adam Benson, managing director, Recognition PR and Outsource, said, “Since 1985, The Recognition Group agencies have built capabilities in key areas, from content development to digital marketing and design. These capabilities are no longer nice-to-haves in the industry; they’re absolutely essential to building compelling campaigns that deliver results for clients.   

The synergies that exist among Recognition PR, Outsource, and Write Away Communication mean that clients of The Recognition Group have access to some of Australia’s most strategic senior consultants as well as the resources required to execute campaigns effectively, all in one place.” 

The Recognition Group embraced the distributed workforce model long before COVID-19 made it a necessity. This approach has let the directors source talent from all over the country, building teams based on extraordinary performance rather than geographical location.    

Liz Marchant said, “While COVID-19 has left no business unaffected, it has been gratifying to see The Recognition Group team pull together during this time. After pivoting from a hybrid model of office-based and remote working to completely remote working, the team has continued to provide excellent service and strong outcomes to clients.”  

Simone Esamie, general manager, Write Away Communication, said, “The Recognition Group has built an incredibly tightknit, collegiate culture across the three agencies, which means that team members naturally collaborate with each other, with clients and other stakeholders. The exceptional relationships built over the years with journalists, industry partners and influencers translate into strong and consistent results for our clients.  

Under a unified brand, our agencies continue to develop and provide tailored marketing and communication programs, with the scale and experience of the broader group.” 

-ends-

Using content marketing effectively to create value in times of uncertainty

The ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented health and financial crises that seem to have turned every aspect of life on its head.

Most companies need to find a way to continue operating in the face of adversity. This means ensuring their marketing campaigns continue to add value by hitting target audiences with compelling content.

Business-as-usual in an unusual time

With so many companies moving rapidly to adjust how they operate, now is the time to demonstrate that you are still open for business where possible. This is an opportunity to show your clients and any prospective customers that you can assist them with their needs.

This is an opportunity to create value for clients and prospects now that may lead to more business later. Effective content marketing in this current climate can potentially spark more sales opportunities when the demand returns.

Your customers are likely still grappling with the same challenges they faced before the COVID-19 crisis, as well as crisis-specific issues that you may be able to help them with. Providing content that genuinely helps them deal with these issues is incredibly valuable. It can help develop strong relationships with decision-makers who will then be more likely to come to you when they are ready to buy.

Generate new connections

Operating under these strained circumstances has meant that many organisations have become aware of gaps in their capabilities, technology, operating processes, and more. They’re asking questions they’ve never had to ask before, exploring solutions they’ve never considered before, and trying to get up to speed with concepts they’ve never examined before. This creates an exceptional opportunity to step into the gap with useful, valuable, calm, pragmatic advice that genuinely helps these organisations pivot successfully to a new way of working.

In many cases, these companies may not have been on your marketing radar before. You have a unique opportunity to educate decision-makers at these organisations and develop strong and lasting relationships that will continue to deliver mutual value into the future.

Create a content hub

You should be creating new and highly-targeted content to reach these new audiences. And, don’t underestimate the value of content you’ve created in the past. You should review your content bank for material that can be updated and refreshed, then rereleased to a whole new readership.

Creating and sharing a wealth of new content will likely see more visitors heading towards your website as they look for more information. It’s essential that you don’t confuse readers with a complicated web of stories they need to sift through to find what they need.

Creating a searchable information hub is a great way to collect all your content and updates and present it to clients and prospects in an easily digestible manner. If you’re churning out updates on your response to COVID-19 as well as key product changes for clients, keep these separate. Make sure you house your coronavirus content on a dedicated webpage away from your regular news and updates.

Think ahead

Generating content that is relevant to COVID-19 and peripheral issues isn’t the only opportunity for you to strengthen your marketing program. Now is the time to look at your overall marketing strategies and look long-term to develop high-value content for the road ahead.

For example, this is an ideal time to develop whitepapers and supporting materials for the other side of COVID-19. Think about what your clients will need at the end of this crisis to maximise their business success. Consider what you’ve learned as a business throughout this experience that you can use to provide better service and expertise for your clients.

Use this as a basis to develop high-value content assets, then build campaigns around these to help generate demand. This is a chance to really build on your content marketing foundation and really understand your audience for the future.

Consider media relations

Right now, the news is focused on COVID-19 and related stories. News outlets are hungry for content that satisfies the public’s desire for information. This means they’re looking for stories that offer a different angle, useful advice, or a new perspective.

This could provide an opportunity for your company to act as a thought leader. If you are interested in providing commentary on trending topics, first consider these five key questions:

  1. Is this relevant to my business?
  2. Am I a credible source of information for the audience?
  3. Am I an authority on this topic?
  4. Do I have new information to add to the conversation?
  5. Is it appropriate to provide comment on this issue?

If the answer is yes, then it’s important to develop a media strategy that will get cut through with the relevant journalists. You may need to work with an expert in media relations to ensure you’re targeting the right journalists and putting together a story that will work for them.

What to do next

Content marketing already plays a key role in business and this is especially true in such an unusual time. We don’t yet know when the global pandemic will end, nor when the repercussions will start to recede, and it will take some time for many to come to terms with the changing world.

We all need to adapt and find new ways to engage our customers. Creating content is a powerful way to demonstrate to your clients that you can support them through this situation and will be there to meet them on the other side.

We have managed highly successful content marketing programs for our clients for decades, and we now how to generate strong results. To find out how we can help your business expand or develop a content marketing strategy that will cut through the noise in today’s environment, contact us today.

Home