Media coverage: three ways to get more positive exposure for your business

If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there, does it make a sound? You could ask the same question about brands and products that don’t get enough exposure to potential customers.

Your business could offer groundbreaking or industry-changing products or services but, if no one knows about them, your potential customers won’t get a chance to find out.

Media coverage is important for finding new customers and for creating brand recognition. The right coverage can generate interest from potential investors, attract new talent to your workforce, and help you build a reputation as a thought leader in your industry.

Follow these three steps to get the media coverage you want for your business:

1. Choose your target wisely

Pitching ideas, sending media releases, and calling newsrooms is time consuming. Whether you handle the press relations yourself or hire a PR agency, you don’t want to waste time calling the wrong journalists to pitch your latest story. Pitching to the right targets at the right time means you’re far more likely to get the positive coverage you’re looking for.

Download our ‘media at a glance’ poster for up-to-date contact info for well-regarded IT and business publications.

2. Right information, right time, right story

The media world is changing rapidly. To get consistent, positive media coverage you need to understand what journalists, editors and producers are looking for, then find a way to package your story so it works for them. You should plan every part of the story carefully, from the press release headline to the timing of your pitch. Most of all, make sure your story is actually newsworthy and interesting or no reputable media outlet will cover it.

3. Be prepared

If you have offered an interview or comment from an expert, make sure that person is ready and available; and preferably media-trained to deliver best results. Send photos, links to further research and other assets journalists can use. Do not waste people’s time. A missed deadline might mean your story gets bumped and you sour a budding relationship with a journalist.

Want more information about getting the media coverage you deserve? Attend our free breakfast seminar to find out what makes great content for a story, the most common mistakes companies make when engaging with the media, and how to prepare for a media interview.

How to create attention grabbing content

People continually change their habits, including the way they access information.

More and more, people want to see even complex information at a glance, preferring visual dashboards or videos instead of long written pieces.

Are words a thing of the past?

The earliest forms of social networking were long, in-depth communications like blogs. Social tools like Facebook status updates and micro-blogs like Twitter helped to drive the trend of shorter posts, as did the ever-increasing use of text messaging.

Where words once ruled supreme, today videos and images are more likely to win our attention. On social media platforms, photos and videos are the most shared and ‘liked’ types of media. You only have to look at the booming popularity of sites like YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest to see this trend working its magic.

When considering how to connect with your audience keep these things in mind

Share-ability is key

Infographics are changing the way businesses communicate. They are an essential tool for anyone interested in communicating information in an easy-to-understand and shareable way.

They are a great way to add visual flair to interesting survey or poll data, while also providing useful content to share with online stakeholders across a variety of channels. At Recognition PR we’ve seen infographics work effectively for corporate PR activities, including media relations, as journalists find them easy to read and share.

Show, don’t tell

Video is another important visual communications tool. Videos are great for corporate PR and marketing activities. They are useful for customer testimonials, how to guides, event footage, and the list goes on!

It’s time to take the leap

Many businesses are still a bit reluctant to adopt visual communications. Here are some points to consider if this is something that you haven’t yet optimised for your communications campaigns:

  • map out what you want to communicate
  • identify the method in which you want to communicate i.e video, infographic
  • like any campaign, narrow in on your target market and identify your audience: where are they engaged?
  • engage a professional to create high-quality images, infographics, and videos
  • watch what other companies are doing for inspiration.

For more information on creating engaging content see our post on making your story go viral. If you need help or advice on creating and promoting your content get in touch. Call the Recognition team on +61 2 9252 2266 or email info@recognition.com.au.

Social media hacks: how to protect your company’s reputation

Social media accounts act as the public persona for many organisations. People, including customers and stakeholders, believe what they read on social media. And if someone has taken over your account, they can post all kinds of incorrect or even offensive information. The damage to your brand could be significant.

So it’s vital to protect your social media accounts from being hacked. And, if you are the unfortunate victim of an attack, you need to respond immediately.

Here are some tips on how to protect your company’s reputation:

1. Don’t have an easy password

If your password is easy to remember, there’s a good chance it’s going to be easy for others to figure out too. This includes using the same password for multiple accounts. If one account becomes compromised, hackers can use that password to access every account.

2. Don’t share your social media passwords with every employee

Not everyone in your organisation needs or should have access to your social media passwords. Choose two or three people who will access the account regularly, and trust them with the password and the responsibility of posting on behalf of your organisation.

3. Put a plan in place

If hackers got hold of your passwords and account information to post mocking messages, do you have an immediate plan/communications strategy in place to alert your customers? Quick action may save you endless trouble.

4. Develop a policy

If you haven’t already, develop a social media policy and review with your employees what is and is not appropriate to post online to ensure that you safeguard confidential information. Not every social media problem starts with a hacker; sometimes it’s just a simple employee blunder.

5. Consider risky scenarios

Have a clear idea of how you want to use social media and identify what kind of business information should be shared. Understand where you could expose your organisation to risks and steer well clear of any grey areas.

6. Don’t automatically click on links

Use caution when clicking a link to another page. Just like email, if an offer in a social media post sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

7. Sometimes mistakes are unavoidable

Think how quickly news travels online, especially when it comes to social media. No matter how careful or cautious you are, there are always mistakes. It is important to be careful and considered when you post. And if someone makes a mistake, do whatever you need to in order to rectify it immediately. Don’t simply delete posts, especially if customers have already responded. Instead, acknowledge the mistake and outline what steps your organisation will take to avoid similar mistakes in the future.

8. If you are hacked, take back control immediately

If your social media account is hacked, ask your IT department to regain control of the breached account. In the meantime, post a notification to your brand’s blog, website, and other social platforms. The notification should state that:

  1. your social media account has been compromised;
  2. you are working to fix the situation as fast as possible;
  3. your followers should not click on any posted links until otherwise notified.
    This lets your followers know you are aware of the situation and are taking steps to remedy it.

It’s imperative that everyone on your team who manages or evaluates your brand’s social media accounts knows what to do if your account is hijacked. The plan should be in writing and reviewed with the staff frequently.

Bottom line

Take precautions, be prepared and put a plan in place for how you’ll respond. What’s your communication plan? Who in the organisation will be the spokesperson? Answer these questions now and you can save your brand a whole lot of trouble down the line.

If you would like to learn more about Recognition’s social media training or issues management, contact us at info@recognition.com.au or on 02 9252 2266.

Being productive: do you have a plan or just another forgotten resolution?

We’ve all been there. The end of another day when we only completed a fraction of the items on our to-do list. The ideas we come up with in the shower but forget to write down. We’ve all resolved to be more productive, to find a way to capture those ideas, or to tick off things that have been sitting at the bottom of our to-do lists for far too long.

But there’s a big difference between intending or wanting to do something, and planning to do it.

Start with systematic business planning

Sadly, proper, systematic business planning is a dying art. In many cases, the process is so detached from reality that it’s become a time-wasting exercise. Planning never feels like action. Too often we fear that if we’re not in a constant state of motion we are achieving little. However, without a clear goal and milestones mapping out the journey to get there, being busy adds limited value.

We should all undertake some form of planning at least once a year; identifying goals and strategies to achieve them. Your business plan should be succinct yet effective.

Keep your plan alive

Your plan should be a work in progress that lives throughout the year. Avoid rigid, lengthy, and overcomplicated documents you’ll never read again.

Capture your vision

Take a moment to capture your vision for the year. Keep it to one page. Then list the actions that’ll make it happen, ranking them in order of priority. Keep this to three or four core focus areas with no more than a page on each. Any more activity and you’ll probably overwhelm your inbox.

Prioritise

Select an action that will deliver a quick win and build support from the wider business. Couple it with an action you’re more likely to actually do.

Break down complex actions into discrete, simple steps you can process daily or weekly. These can be as simple as making that phone call or drafting that summary email, for example.

Communicate with your team

Turning goals into reality usually means taking others on a journey. Communicate your vision and its milestones with your team, focusing on the specific actions they can support.

Seek feedback and ideas. Hold regular updates to ensure everyone is aware of how progress is tracking. Ask what they can do to help. The more they feel a part of the process, the more they’ll become invested in a successful outcome.

In our group we naturally encourage clients to evaluate their communications strategy and marketing collateral. Do they still align with your new plan? If not, consider refreshing your communications and public relations strategies.

It’s never too late to renew your focus on what you want to achieve. You just need to get that plan in place.

Six ways to become a trusted advisor

By Adam Benson, director

In the simplest terms, professional services organisations exist to give people advice that will help make their lives better or their businesses more successful. Too many professional services firms fail to understand the importance of building trusting relationships. Without trust, people are likely to ignore or discount the advice provided. Worse, the professional services firm may be unable to give the best possible advice because their client didn’t give them all of the information.

Developing that trusting relationship is a hallmark of a competent and engaged professional services firm. We have all been the recipient of a phone call or in-person visit where the person who says they can improve our lives or our businesses clearly has no idea who we are, what challenges we face or how we operate. They have missed a critical step: building a relationship based on trust. Without it, they can’t help us. Continue reading “Six ways to become a trusted advisor”

Recognition turns 30

30 YearsRecognition turned 30 this year. In human years, that’s still relatively young. In business years, turning 30 means we are one of the most experienced PR firms operating in the technology and corporate services sector.

We’ve come a long way

We were founded in 1985, when Marty McFly first went back to the future. Some of the technology and gadgets companies were spruiking in 1985 felt pretty futuristic back then:

  • car phones and pagers were all the rage with corporate types
  • the compact disc player was beginning to take off
  • Nintendo launched its first gaming system
  • Windows 1.0 was released and the IBM PC was only four years old
  • AM radio started broadcasting in Australia.

In 1985, we sent press releases to journalists via snail mail and, if they wanted a picture to go with the story, we sent them a bromide, or they sent out a photographer. We spent a lot of time on the phone with journalists and clients alike: a personal touch that remains core to our ethos even today in an era of instant electronic communication.

The secret to our longevity

We’ve developed strong skills in leveraging new communication tools like social media to be more efficient and effective. We’ve embraced flexibility and a significant proportion of our team works remotely, seamlessly integrated with colleagues in the office. We also believe that talking to colleagues, journalists, and clients, on the phone or face-to-face, is still the best way to build strong relationships and deliver meaningful results.

30 years ago, our focus was primarily on media and analyst relations. Today, that focus has broadened. As a strategic business partner we take the lead on holistic, integrated marketing campaigns. We understand our clients’ business and marketing challenges and help use all of the communications channels at their disposal to solve them, from social media and advertising to editorials and websites.

It may sound like a cliché, but …

Our ongoing success is based on listening. We listen to what our clients need and we listen to what journalists need from us so they can do their jobs well. The only way to remain relevant over the decades is to constantly listen and learn from every possible opportunity.

Because we keep our fingers on the pulse (sorry; another cliché) we know how to innovate in ways that will actually add value for our clients. In the past two years we’ve added an in-house graphic design and web development service, and media buying capabilities.

Recognition PR remains, at its core, a communications agency. We thrive on the challenge of helping our clients manage their reputations and communicate with key audiences, using all the tools and channels that are available.

The first 30 years passed by in the blink of an eye. We can’t wait to see what the next 30 years brings!

Thought leadership – what you need to know

By Liz Marchant, director

Thought leadership has become a buzz word over the last few years. Reputation and influence are the new business currencies of the 21st century. In a world of easily accessible information and widespread sharing, thought leaders can wield significant influence over a sector and deliver valuable revenue for their companies.

As public relations consultants we’re often asked ‘how can I become a thought leader’? There is no easy answer or magic pill. In reality, many thought leaders are born, not made. That’s not to say that you can’t develop thought leadership. If you are trying to create thought leaders in your business there are several factors you should keep in mind.

It takes time and commitment
Thought leaders are not made overnight. To be a thought leader you must build trust and credibility with your audience. That takes time. This is especially true for thought leaders who work for the lesser-known companies in their sector, who might not attract the assumed credibility and exposure of their better-known counterparts.

Becoming a thought leader requires time commitment. Researching, developing and publishing ideas can be a slow process. Businesses should be realistic about these requirements.

You must have something interesting to say
To some extent, thought leaders must be willing to but themselves on the line. If you’re going to stand out from the crowd and make people listen, the status quo simply won’t cut it. As the name suggests, thought leadership is all about original thought and opinion. You will never become a thought leader by regurgitating other people’s opinions.

That’s not to say you have to have a completely new concept to become a thought leader. You can have a new take on existing information. The most important thing is that whoever is reading your content, feels like they really get something valuable from it. Something that makes them think about the topic in a new way, or re-think their opinions. This is what will keep people coming back to read your blogs, listen to your podcasts or read your whitepapers. This is vital as ultimately it is peers who decide who the thought leaders are.

It’s not for everyone
Thought leadership isn’t easy and it won’t suit everyone. Although a thought leader can be supported and helped to grow, the fundamentals have to be there. The best thought leaders have both original thought and an ability to express themselves and their ideas in an interesting, clear way. If either factor is missing, becoming a thought leader will be an uphill struggle.

For the people who get it right, thought leadership can bring real value to the individual, and their business. It can build credibility, raise both personal and corporate profiles and increase revenue. Done correctly, thought leadership can change the fate of a company. For this reason, it will continue to be a buzz word for some time.

Enough with the mumbo jumbo!

Enough with the mumbo jumboWhat springs to mind when you hear the term ‘plain English’? Do you think ‘straightforward’, ‘basic’ or ‘old-fashioned’?

In the world of PR and marketing it is crucial that the audience, including journalists, get what we write about on behalf of our clients. Lately there has been a lot of criticism about PR writing styles and I would have to agree with most arguments. Journalists don’t care for all the mumbo jumbo technical words; they want to read simple, understandable and interesting content that relates to their readers.

In the corporate world we seem to have forgotten these basic plain English principles. It seems we have forgotten how to write for the general public.

Why has this slipped our minds? Is it because we are going above and beyond to satisfy our clients? I am sure that sometimes the client would also appreciate a break from the overbearing use of complex words.

So I would like to revisit why writing in plain English is mandatory.

Going back to the basics of writing makes professional documents more reader-friendly because:
• it improves professional communication, workplace productivity and access to services and information;
• the less complex and awkwardly-phrased a document is, the easier it is to persuade readers that your ideas are valuable. Simple language makes it clear and suitable for any intended audience;
• writing that is too complex can detract from the importance of the overall information being communicated. Plain English delivers a clear message.

Long ago, I developed a checklist for my team so they wouldn’t bring me anything to proof that was a waste of my time (excuse the bluntness). I encourage them to ask themselves the following questions:
• do you find it hard to read the document? Why do you think that is?
• is it interesting enough?
• does it make sense?
• do you feel like you need to visit dictionary.com every second sentence to understand what’s being said?
• is it news?
• who are the target journalists and have you researched how they write?

Writing in plain English will help with business productivity, as it will allow for more personal client and business relationships and communication.

Keeping your writing straightforward keeps clients, journalists and fellow employees interested and productive. It’s that simple.

 

Media training 101

Media training 101Forget the negatives you hear about media training – without it, it could cost your business.

Having a meltdown on camera is never cool.  It makes great TV for viewers, but it destroys your message. The recent example that springs to mind when lead singer of the Sex Pistols, Johnny Rotten, went on an on air rampage on The Project. While this may suit the image of a rocker, it rarely works well in corporate life.

Same thing goes for any media interview. There is no place for competitor bashing and inappropriate comments. It may feel good to snap at a reporter who asks an annoying question, but at what cost?

It really is important for company spokespeople to learn how the media works. All too often company spokespersons fail to deliver messages that hit the right spot with journalists.

Media training is key if you want to communicate your business messages successfully. Why?  It is very important to deliver the right messages in the right manner for specific media types. This might seem a simple task but it can be a real challenge.  Knowing how to answer in a concise and precise manner and how to give interesting responses are essential to your brand’s image.

Media training helps you to identify with the relevant audience, rather than only focusing on what you want to tell them. At the same time, it will help you get your messages across without going into sales mode.

Anyone who interacts with the media or is planning to do so will benefit from media training. Natural spokespeople do exist, but they are few and far between. Even experienced spokespeople can go blank or off track in a media interview.

There is so much to learn about the media. I recently wrote a piece on why media deadlines are serious. This goes hand in hand with media training. You can read more about it here.

At the end of the day, it is crucially important for a spokesperson to represent their company in the most effective way possible. Media training is a great way to get exposure to how the media interviews work and how they are an important way to get a company’s message across.

There could be major consequences if it’s done wrong.

If you’d like to know more about media training, you may be interested in attending our lunch and learn event to find out more. You can register your interest in attending here.

You can find out more about our full media training programs on our website here.

Back to basics – meeting etiquette

By Liz Marchant, director, Recognition PR

I spend more hours at work in meetings than out. Many people do – it is a fact of corporate life.

I am really going back to basics with this post, but poor meeting behaviour is one of my pet peeves. With so much time being spent in meetings today no-one can afford to waste time.

So what can make or break a meeting?

Meeting preparation

Firstly, what happens before the meeting is critical:

What’s the meeting agenda or purpose? Does everyone involved clearly know what will be required of them? Are you taking the right people to the meeting?

Once everyone knows the purpose, what preparation is required? For example, brainstorms are generally more effective if the team is briefed on the activity and the requirements and come to the meeting with ideas. That way you’ll spend time discussing ideas and developing them, not being briefed and then trying to think of something on the spot to get the conversation started.

How long is required for the meeting? Book the time required rather than a default time. Many calendars default to 30 or 60 minute meetings – not everything requires that kind of time. Be clear how much time needs to be invested.
Personally I have set my default meeting time to 15 minutes. That way I am forced to think about the time required for each meeting.

When thinking about timing, think about the start time of the meeting. If the meeting is out of the office, have you scheduled travel time to make sure your meeting starts on time? What about return travel time too so your meetings don’t end up running into each other?

Once you’ve thought about the meeting preparation the next thing to consider is what is going to happen in the actual meeting. What are the behaviours needed?

In the meeting

First of all, what is your view on mobile devices?

Having your phone on, and worse, in front of you is one of the latest additions to meetings. You might as well say, “Excuse me, but I have someone more important trying to reach me.”

If there is something urgent that means you need your mobile to respond to an email or take a call, advise the meeting organiser and tell the attendees at the start of the meeting.

During the course of a meeting it’s important to concentrate and stay alert. Be an attentive participant. The easiest way to do this is to be an active listener – make eye contact and acknowledge you are listening, take notes and ask questions. This shows everyone that you care.

Don’t get distracted and change focus. Sometimes meetings go for much longer than they need to, this generally happens when people get distracted. A good meeting is one that gets through the key items on the agenda with pace.
Generally giving people a few minutes to get back to their desks is seen as a positive thing.

After the meeting

It’s great to have meetings but it is important to show attendees the outcomes. I’m personally not a huge fan of meeting minutes. I do however think it’s important to remind people of the keys points discussed and show outcomes. To go back to the example of a brainstorm – what were the ideas you came up with? What’s happening with those? It’s a great way to engage people and get them excited about the next meeting.
There’s a lot to think about when it comes to meetings. To make sure the experience is great for everyone involved. When done right – it’s worth it.

 

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