Tag Archives: leadership

Are you ready at the drop of a hat?

4 Feb

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For a Monday morning, I was more prepared than a boy scout. How? I wore my emergency client dress for a potential awards lunch – Sustainable Restaurant Association Awards at the OXO 2 restaurant.

I thought I was going to be filling in for my most senior client, the managing director, but I should have known she’s made of stronger stuff. However, within your events party, you can always expect up to 10% of guests to drop out. So, when you’re thrown into a situation at the last minute that you’re not prepared for, here’s how to make the most of it and shine:

1. Ice, ice baby
Have an icebreaker under your belt and bring it out to everyone you meet.

As I’d only met my client’s leadership team a handful of times (and they won’t remember me even though I email them good news most days i.e. coverage), I used:

“Looks like my boss has finally let me out of the office!”

Corny I know. But I can laugh about it and so can they. It opens up about what I actually do and puts the attention on me for as long as I want it – until I turn the tables back on them.

2. Be honest
I was fortunate enough to be meeting my CEO at the event. I found her amongst the crowds and asked her to introduce me to some key influencers. I could have saved face and attempted to network on my own, but this method was quicker and she really appreciated my honesty and the challenges I was up against.

If this isn’t convincing enough – she set me up to shake celebrity chef Raymond Blanc’s hand. Enough said.

3. Check in
If you’ve been involved in the logistics of the event at any stage, check with your client and the organisers that everything is on track. It’ll show you’re in control and see tasks from beginning to end. It takes just one question and once you’ve been given the green light you can operate for the rest of the day on cruise control.

It goes without saying to make an effort with everyone – especially those on your table. Think of the five golden rules of journalism: who, what, why, when and how? Find out the answers from those closest to you and take the conversation from there.

4. Mission statement
As I was ‘invading’ a sustainability event for food and drink operators, I was understandably the odd one out. If you think your PR aura is sticking out like a sore thumb too, be prepared to summarise what you and your company does in one to two sentences. It succinctly helps the guests understand your role. Who knows – it might lead to a new business opportunity?

5. Find your niche
I was introduced to most people I met as my company’s social media guru. This gave me the flexibility to get my phone out without feeling rude and also handed me a free pass to doodle on my phone when conversations had come to a natural end.

6. Be aware
You can lose all sense of time at events. Don’t be caught out and over do it on the champagne at 11.30am! You do need to have some wits about you in front of your peers and clients.

What are your top tips on surviving
industry events win your clients?

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PRs say they lack creativity

28 Nov

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This week I came across the headline ‘PR scores itself poorly for creativity’ on website PR Moment and had to read more.

The survey by the Holmes Report and training specialist NowGoCreate questioned 650 professionals from 35 countries on how creative they think the industry currently is – the answer is not very much. More than 60% believed the industry was lacking BIG ideas.

The reasons for this included: lack of budgets, clear objectives and an understanding of clients’ businesses.

There’s a correlation here. If you don’t understand your what your client wants then the budgets to deliver BIG campaigns won’t materialise.

Obviously most PRs will find these survey findings insulting. I’ve been lucky enough to work on some great campaigns (Unilever Food Solutions’ ‘Ambu-lunch’ and British Roast Dinner Week) this year and be part of a wider agency that refuses for barriers to come between great projects (Make Decent Coffee skip idea and the first-ever chocolate hotel room). If the idea is there, it’s down to PRs to be brave and pitch it in – brief or no brief.

I agree that more can be done to bring out the creativity of PRs in the workplace – and small additions to brainstorms that I blogged on last week can make this happen. Get people engaged with the brief and set challenges to work together to polish the ideas once agreed.

Let’s go through some of the other reasons PRs felt were imposing on their creativity:

Lack of time
Brainstorming and scoping ideas is an investment – for business and personal development. Get involved and learn how it works.

Difference in opinion about what ‘creativity’ really is
If you’re questioning whether you are creative, you’re probably not.

Leadership don’t view it as important
Don’t expect your business to grow with this attitude.

We’re in a rut
Make an effort to get out – show your clients why they hired you.

How creative do you rate your agency?

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Are all PRs deluded?

17 Sep

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Anthony Hilton from the Evening Standard raises a good point in this week’s PR Week. As paid consults, how far are we advising our clients on good stories, projects and campaigns? Sometimes the best advice is saying no that the clients’ ‘big’ idea.

Clients’ big ideas

Following on from my previous blog on watching your manager’s movements, this time my advice is be cautious of your clients. Yes – they know their business inside out. But, they don’t know PR.

Having worked with a number of clients, in my time I’ve had to put my foot down on a number of occasions to clients telling me everything from responding to news stories with their news after its appeared, to requesting names from a competition press release to be removed.

In this situation, stick to your guns when kindly explaining that you can’t (won’t) put your reputation and journalist relationships on the line on their every whim.

Spreading the good news

Hilton hits the nail on the head when he says that sometimes press releases just aren’t that interesting to journalists, ‘however important they are to the sender.’

I believe I’ve worked on some good campaigns and although the overarching theme is topical, the double digit key messages has put journalists off by wondering, ‘what on earth do they want to achieve?’

To even stand out in journalists’ inboxes, and then compel them to double click and open, a whopper of a subject line is needed. If it can fill the who, what and when, and encourage them to find out how, where and why, then you may have won part of the battle to be the ‘one in a hundred worth reading.’

Get it right first time by talking to the journalists you’re targeting to find out what they want. It can’t hurt and you might find a better, alternative angle from it.

Hilton concludes by wondering if some PR professionals are as deluded as their clients to continue putting out ‘below par’ press releases. Perhaps in this economic climate they are agreeing to every press release to boost their fees; eager to please. But, deluded they are not. If it wasn’t for them, your papers would be packed with much more nonsense than it is now.

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