Are you a fresh grad looking for a PR gig? An agency is the place to be

Can we take a moment to acknowledge just how pressuring it is for a prospective tertiary student to decide on a major that might define their professional career forever? As a tourism student-turned PR practitioner, the transition into the world of public relations comes with a steep learning curve. But it pays off massively if you have an eye for current affairs and an excellent command of one or more languages.

 After a couple of internships later, I realised a whole world lay beyond the familiarity of working for a brand. There was a mystery to these elusive agencies which hardly basked in the spotlight themselves, yet worked laboriously to ensure that their clients shone the brightest.

As a humorous nod to the hit comic series which our agency is affectionately named after, we think that the dynamic between agencies and in-house brands mirrors that of the one shared between mutants and humans in the X-Men universe. Being in an agency is like being a part of the X-Men, there are always more experienced practitioners that you can learn from and when the going gets tough, it truly helps to know that your team understands exactly what you’re going through.

With the exception of crisis prone industries, in-house PR and comms teams tend to be very lean. A small, tight-knit team comprising of a few experienced individuals are usually  responsible for overseeing and managing entire marketing campaigns. Does this sound appealing to you? While you will enjoy the autonomy of being able to call the shots, you might feel weighed down by the sheer size of the responsibilities which lie solely on your shoulders. 

So, how do you ascertain which working environment would be most conducive to your professional and personal growth? If you’re a fresh graduate exploring the possibility of a career in PR and communications, here are some reasons why we think agencies are the best place to work in – especially if you’re still on the fence.

Developing expertise across different verticals

As agencies evolve to stay ahead of the curve, many now offer a wider range of complementary services. From PR and content marketing to digital and social media management, agencies are usually filled with folks who bring diverse skill sets to the table. Depending on the client’s business objectives, people from different teams come together to get the job done. 

For example, Mutant’s portfolio of clients spans across the consumer, lifestyle, technology and corporate verticals. Having the chance to explore a myriad of sectors and industries is ideal for those who are undecided about the industry they eventually want to carve out a career in. Focus first on mastering the fundamentals of the trade, before jumping into a specific field. 

Learning from a team of experienced practitioners

With a shrinking media pool and mercurial audience habits, it takes more than just a seasoned practitioner to be a good mentor. From the undeniable force that is influencer marketing to the rising adoption of messaging apps, good mentorship comes from the ability to guide, while also adapting quickly to the changing times.

In an agency environment, the matrix-style organisational structure which requires you to sit across multiple practices will expose you to a plethora of unique perspectives and ideas. The great thing about working in an agency is that no two days will be the same, due to the nature of the client work involved. 

Character development

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that extensive relationship-building, be it with the media, clients or other stakeholders is a part and parcel of agency life. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be a social butterfly to flourish in a client-facing role – as long as you have the ability to empathise with people and forge sincere, genuine relationships, you will succeed. 

While having to juggle the expectations of multiple parties might seem a tad challenging at the start, you will find yourself easing into it as you spend more time in your role. Sometimes, you will feel like the cards are stacked against you. However, the pain is short-lived, and you will find yourself emerging relatively unscathed, having grown more confident and eloquent. 

We could always spend time wondering if an agency function or in-house PR and comms role would suit us better, but the truth is we’ll never know for sure without experiencing a job firsthand. So if you’re still looking for something to nudge you into taking that leap of faith – take a deep breath, get your résumé in order, and apply away!

Well, what are you waiting for? If you’re on the hunt for a PR gig, you ought to write in to us at : hello@mutant.com.sg

Bigger isn’t always better: Why (Agency) Size Matters

Bigger isn’t always better… at least when it comes to agency size.

In a mature market like Singapore, the PR and comms landscape is constantly evolving. In recent years, we’ve seen more brands turn to boutique agencies instead of opting for the default route of playing with the big boys. 

To industry outsiders, it may seem as though a large agency would be in a better position to support their clients based on size and access to resources. However, the reverse is often true – it’s a classic David and Goliath story. While big names may be perceived to have more manpower and resources, they can often lack the dynamism and agility needed to effectively execute a solid communications plan. 

Mid-sized and boutique agencies, on the other hand, have a number of traits that can give them a competitive edge over their larger counterparts. Their small size allows them to be nimble, adaptive and extra-attentive to the needs of their clients.

So before you reach out to the same ol’ ‘big name’ agency, here’s why going small could suit your needs better: 

More attention

The most common feedback we receive from clients who have switched over from a bigger agency is that their business wasn’t getting enough attention. While this can depend on their definition of “enough”, larger agencies often have hundreds of clients, meaning teams are stretched and when newer business comes on board, that client can get passed along to the ‘B-team’. In a small agency however, there is no B-team! The same group of people you meet at the pitch meeting will be the ones dedicated to handling your project, ensuring that it gets enough love regardless of how far you are in the relationship.

Personalised solutions

We’re operating in an advanced media landscape where to truly be heard, you need to go above and beyond the expectations of your clients. Small agencies often involve even the most senior, experienced team members in the day-to-day operations. One of the first things we do when we get a client brief is to have a brainstorm with the bosses and develop a personalised approach that will actually help to drive your business goals – be it awareness, engagement or even direct leads.

Faster action

The communications industry moves fast, and brands that want to make a splash by riding on key trends need a team that can take prompt action. This is often easier in a smaller agency with a flat management structure and less red tape, leading to quicker turnaround times and approvals, saving countless billable hours.  

Agility & dynamism

Walking hand-in-hand with efficiency is agility, which is in abundance at a smaller agency. At Mutant, for example, rather than having strict teams for lifestyle, corporate or tech clients, we are able to pull together the best team of individuals for that particular client’s needs – and we can do this, because all our Mutants are flexible, adaptable and can handle multiple accounts across all industries.  

Lower agency fees

In general, smaller agencies can charge less because they don’t have the same massive overheads that network agencies do – but keep in mind smaller agencies still need to charge fairly for their time! Good boutiques are priced fairly for a senior team – although this will always end up cheaper than larger agencies – and clients need to evaluate the fees provided against the senior counsel they’re getting.  

Strong culture

A positive workspace directly contributes to better results for clients. As clichéd as it sounds, there’s no denying smaller agencies often foster a better working culture. That doesn’t just mean after-work drinks or fancy perks – we’re talking about a team with a collaborative attitude, mutual trust in each other’s skills and a shared passion to drive results. This is something that we Mutants personally believe in and always try to embody, and it’s the driving force for our success. 

In summary, we get to know your business on a personal level, drive stronger results and are great to work with! While a larger agency might still be the right fit for you, why not reach out and see how we could truly help your business?

If you were convinced by what we had to say about smaller agencies, why not work with one? You know where to find us: hello@mutant.com.sg

Millennial-speak: Let data do the talking

A data-led guide to marketing to millennials

They say we are prone to spending money, careless with personal data, and technology is second nature to us – well, it’s partly true. But it doesn’t mean waving your brand in front of our faces will guarantee you our attention.

Trust me, I’m a millennial and you bet we’re discerning. But I promise you that we are fiercely grounded in authenticity and self-expression. As digital natives (that’s what they call us), our cyber footprints are literally all over the internet.

But remember one thing before marketing to us: Please, get to know us first!

As we (the entitled millennials) are not all the same, you should use insights to tailor kick-ass marketing and PR campaigns to us. Here are 3 sure-fire avenues to get to know us (aka collecting data) and help your brand to zoom in on the ever so critical Gen Y:

Basic Data Analytics

Whether it’s Google Analytics, Facebook or Instagram insights, the basic level of data is easily accessible to all marketers and brands. Studying the data will reveal where online traffic originates, what posts are most popular and, more importantly, will tell you what topics drive the greatest engagement from millennial audiences. So, dive into the data and see where your target audience and millennials connect.

Social Sentiments

Social listening tools like Meltwater can help you track conversations across a variety of online and social media platforms that may not necessarily be owned by you. As the millennial world moves fast, you want to quickly pick up on online conversations and the sentiments surrounding them. Are they positive or negative? Can you use them for trend-jacking?

Third-party Research

Looking at a bigger picture, you want to get research and consultancy firms like Nielsen and Euromonitor involved. With the help of their comprehensive database, you can gain some insights into the millennial pulse.  While the free online samples may not necessarily reveal all that juicy data, they should provide you with an adequate snapshot to point you in the right direction.

Questionnaires

Scalable, easy to conduct and great for getting to know millennials questionnaires can be tailored to suit specific demographics and/or geographics. Considerable effort needs to go into asking the right questions so that collectively the responses will reveal insights that might support your campaign objectives. Using platforms such as Google Forms and SurveyMonkey make it really easy for your business to reach audiences.

Be a Millennial

If you really want to get under our skin (and into our minds), then you should behave like one of us. Get on Reddit, join Facebook and Instagram live events, and watch YouTube videos – don’t forget to read the comments. It’s the most authentic way to connect with us.  I know that millennials have gained quite the reputation for having an inflated sense of entitlement, but once you’re better acquainted with us, you will better understand our needs, concerns and priorities in life.

But just like you too – we agree that personalised treatment never goes out of style. Regardless of the generation, customising your brand’s messaging to your target audience will always be part of the right path.

You want to hear what millennials think about your campaign? Drop us a message at hello@mutant.com.sg.

My company is profitable! Do I still need marketing?

According to a recent report, the success of SMEs is essentially like flipping a coin – there’s an estimated survival rate of 50%. This means that establishing a strong and profitable core business is more crucial than ever before.

Since survival is a major focus for SMEs, investment in other aspects that may not seem to have immediate trackable results on business performance are often highly scrutinised. But even when SMEs manage to survive and find their stride, becoming profitable without the help of marketing, content, public relations or social media, many decide to continue without these things. Why would they need them even if they are profitable? Let’s dive right in.

Marketing

With the view that only large, multinational organisations have dedicated marketing teams, many SMEs outright dismiss the idea of hiring dedicated marketing staff. If SMEs do have a staff member focused on marketing, the scope of that role is usually tied up with additional tasks, such as business development.

Without the attention and focus of a true marketing professional, marketing initiatives usually end up in the form of more traditional activities, such as developing collaterals or organising events, which often do not drive easily trackable business results. A dedicated marketer will be able to identify broader business issues and create solutions to fix them, whether that be an online lead generation, sales team support or employer brand management to help bring in the best talent.

Content

Content is on the radar for many organisations, but often only in the form of a few commissioned articles for the company website. The truth is that content has many more practical uses for a business than most business owners realise. Content can be presented in many ways – think text, infographics and videos – and have the ability to engage potential customers across a wide array of platforms, ranging from the company’s website to social media channels to content-led PR campaigns.  

A singular piece of content, such as a research report, can be reworked into different pieces of satellite content, including infographics, toolkits and short, digestible videos that can be shared on different channels. Lead generation, client relationship management and sales support are all business-focused goals that can leverage content to deliver measurable results.

PR

Crisis management and spin-doctoring are often the first things that come to mind when thinking of public relations, but these functions are usually back of mind when it comes to successful businesses who are focused on growth.

Public relations can do much more than just clean up sticky situations. Good PR will play a key role in stakeholder management, putting the business in the midst of relevant discussions happening in the industry and the media, and positioning key people in the company as thought leaders. Strong PR can boost the visibility and credibility of the business and open new doors for the company in the process.

Social media

If you think that social media is simply a Facebook page for consumer brands to deal with angry posts, think again. Social media can act as a multi-platform ecosystem that can be used to engage with different types of audiences. By using specific targeting, businesses can reach new and relevant customers from literally all around the world.

From customer support and sales to employer branding and community management, every employee can learn to use social media in a way that influences the business, no matter if it’s a B2C and B2B operation. It’s important to establish goals and outline clear roles that each social media platform will play for the business, though; only then can a business truly start to see the benefits of a social media strategy.

Do you want to find out more about what marketing, content, PR and social media can do for your business? Drop us a line at hello@mutant.com.sg

5 PR lessons from brands that did (and didn’t) take a stance in 2017

Perhaps it was the political and social uproar of 2016 that prompted major brands to take a stance on certain issues this year. On the other hand, 2017 also saw big companies stumble by not taking a stance. Looking back at the last year, we picked out a few PR disasters, wins and the lessons they offered to all of us.

1. An UBER year to forget

2017 hasn’t been a great PR year for UBER, to say the least! In February, #DeleteUBER rose to the top of the news as UBER’s CEO Travis Kalanick appeared to be supporting US President Trump’s Muslim travel ban by turning off surge pricing to New York’s JFK airport amidst a taxi driver protest. In November, the tech company came under fire once again, trying to cover up a massive hack and security breach that exposed the data of 57 million users and drivers.

The Lesson: Don’t wait until it’s too late

Usually, when a company of UBER’s size messes up, they genuinely apologise and pledge to do better next time. What they shouldn’t do is to pretend it never happened or ignore the growing crisis entirely. As UBER loves referring to themselves as a tech company, they should have used ‘tech’ tools, such as predicting social sentiments, to measure the looming crisis and react faster and more appropriately.

2. United Airlines clashes with passengers

In April, a stomach-turning incident involving United Airlines made headlines around the world, as a passenger was dragged off the plane to make room for airline staff. The company’s PR team was just as unprepared as the airline staff, as the company got tangled up in insincere statements and claims  that the plane was overbooked.

The delayed and half-hearted response from Oscar Munoz, CEO of United, went immediately viral, as consumers were up in arms over the insincere apology and lack of remorse. United failed to show empathy with its paying customers and came across as uncaring and brutal. Making things worse, it wasn’t the only incident of its kind for United in 2017.

The Lesson: Consumers value transparency

Don’t ever ignore problems, as consumers want your company to be honest. The United Airlines incident underlines the need for crisis comms training, strategy and planning. When your brand makes a mistake, you need to own up to it and publicly apologise.  Remember that the longer your brand remains silent, the more guilty you appear. Tackle PR issues head-on and you will build trust and credibility with your customers.

3. Always, #LikeAGirl

Although Always’ #LikeAGirl campaign launched a few years ago, 2017 saw their most powerful video yet, focusing on the idea of ‘failure’ and how it can be used to fuel motivation and passion for success. Changing the theme every year, the 2017 campaign set out with a positive approach to female empowerment.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_MhsbRiFyI

The Lesson: Promote what you stand for

The brand, Always, is leading the way when it comes to promoting gender equality within our society, and this is clearly  reflected in their campaigns. Always is not only a market leader for feminine products, their campaign’s theme also matches the ethos of their brand image. Raising brand awareness and a strong identity does not always need to solely be about products.

4. The revolutionary Pepsi

If the Kardashians weren’t already laughing material, Kendall Jenner’s involvement in Pepsi’s ‘Live for Now’ campaign surely manifested their value to all of us. Being featured in the Pepsi commercial, Kendall Jenner appears to walk away from a photoshoot to join a passing demonstration in the street. The reason for the demonstration isn’t entirely clear. As the group approaches the police blocking the street, Kendall Jenner seemingly solves the issue by handing a policeman a Pepsi, resulting in the crowd’s euphoric frenzy. Nothing about the campaign resonates – or makes sense.

Pepsi put their product in the centre of social issues while simultaneously trivialising real world issues. Needless to say, this did not go down well with the public. Taking a stand without actually taking one can do more harm than good. Pepsi received backlash for featuring signs stating ‘peace’ and ‘join the conversation’, though they failed to do just that themselves!

A Tweet by Bernice King, Martin Luther King’s daughter, responded in the best possible way:

The Lesson: Don’t trivialise real issues

While most of us are proud to have to right to protest and voice our opinions, there are still many people around the world who have to fight for this basic right. Trivialising real problems and pretending a consumer product can solve (unnamed) conflicts is taking it a step too far. Leaving the post-truth world of 2016 behind us, 2017’s public wants to support companies whose beliefs they can align with.

It’s hard to know who is to blame for Pepsi’s ‘Live for now’ campaign, as everyone involved should have realised this was a major faux-pas waiting to happen. Having had an impartial, outsiders’ viewpoint  could have put a stop to this campaign that was produced in-house. An external agency would have been more sensitive with their execution. Crowd pleasers simply aren’t enough, and more often than not – they can do more harm than good.

5. Heineken taking Worlds Apart

In the wake of the Pepsi campaign flop, Heineken released a video called ‘Worlds Apart: An Experiment #OpenYourWorld’, leveraging the rollercoaster of navigating modern social and political stances with a genuine approach.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wYXw4K0A3g&has_verified=1

The video experiment brought together individuals with opposing views on transgender rights, climate change and feminism. Unaware of each other’s views, they were tasked to build a bar, and after its completion, were shown a video of the other person talking about their views. They were then given a choice: to walk away or discuss their difference over a beer.

The Lesson: Be daring but sincere

The campaign was genuine, using real people taking on real issues. Framing it as an experiment rather than an ad, the campaign offered real value to viewers. Unlike Pepsi, it didn’t pretend to solve (unnamed) issues, Heineken emphasised their strength of bringing people together. Heineken achieved what Pepsi set out to do by being sincere, honest and daring. Bottoms up to Heineken!

Want to discuss a PR campaign for 2018, or want to explore some sweet marketing ideas for your brand? Drop us an email to hello@mutant.com.sg

 

9 Things we learned at the Asia Global Content Forum 2017

“What really decides consumers to buy or not to buy is the content of your advertising, not its form.” What was true for Ogilvy in the 1960s is still relevant today.

Content creators from various industries, including Mutant’s content team, gathered at the Asia Global Content Forum 2017 in Singapore to discuss the challenges in the creation and deployment of content across markets in the region.

Here are a few insights we gleaned during the forum:

1. SEO is still relevant

Although marketers have started to shift their attention from keyword to producing quality content, search engine optimisation is still crucial for content to reach the right audience. Remember that in a world where the destination is everything, we need to know how to get there. Search is a brand’s signpost.

All marketers understand (or should understand) how ‘search’ works and why certain pages rank higher for a particular keyword than others. If keyword stuffing is still your modus operandi, then you need to read more about how content and SEO can work together. 

SEO is still relevant, but it shouldn’t be your main focus. Rather, it should be one part of your content marketing strategy. Marketers can get hung up the ROI gained by SEO, but it’s the wrong question to ask. Focus instead on overall quality content and then how to get it in front of people.

2. Interactive Marketing from Stranger Things

The wildly popular Netflix series Stranger Things might seem at first glance just a sci-fi-inspired show for teens. But the series’ dark, perplexing world has captivated millions of viewers from around the globe  (not least thanks to a healthy dollop of 1980s nostalgia for the adults). The TV drama shows the unknown, and the emotions unleashed by it, appeal to audiences the world over.  

Netflix has taken advantage of this fascination and made their promotions for season 2 interactive with a free mobile game, including trailers and short preview clips. What do we learn from an old-fashioned 2D game about a strange world? We want to be part of it.

Bringing Stranger Things into daily life, Netflix also partnered with Lyft, making car rides strangely entertaining – including a vomited slug, which is something that not many brands would dare try. The promo resulted in increased Lyft requests and a spike in social media mentions.

3. Don’t neglect the notion of play

When it comes to the concept of play it’s hard to not think of LEGO. The brand has been at the forefront of playful marketing for decades. While LEGO is traditionally a toy for kids, the company has managed to get the attention of their parents (and other adults, too), by enabling them to experience and relive the playfulness of their youth.

One such example is the LEGO Kronkiwongi Project. LEOG asked children around the world to build a ‘Kronkiwongi’, not giving any instructions but letting the imagination of kids running wild. The creations were shared with parents on Facebook, resulting in thousands of further submissions and a significant uplift in brand connection to imagination and creativity.

Other reasons why LEGO is a content hero:

  • They engage adults with movies
  • They capitalise on the success of other brands (Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Batman, …)
  • LEGO tells universal stories of good against evil that resonate in every  language
4.  Authenticity is key

With more than 2 million blog posts written daily and more than 1 million photos posted on Facebook every 60 seconds, it’s becoming harder and harder to get your message across. According to HubSpot, 65% of companies state that generating leads and traffic is their top marketing challenge.

Having an authentic message is crucial to catching people’s attention. But it is not all. Marketers also need to find the right channel to amplify their message. So, tailor your brand’s message for each of your marketing channels.

5. Convey value early

When Facebook decided to play videos in the newsfeed automatically, marketers saw a huge opportunity. What seemed like a mere convenience to users is a game-changer for brands. Conveying value early in videos has become crucial for companies to increase their awareness and message association.

Remember that users have an increasingly shorter attention span. So, when creating content, make sure you come straight to the point. No matter the what market in which you operate, offering readers and viewers value is increasingly important. Read more about brand video content.

6. Never be stagnant

Best practices (for writing, SEO, email marketing and more) are great. But if everyone is following best practice then no one is doing anything different. Benchmark other brands’ methods to get a better understanding of what works, but don’t copy them step by step. If you want to succeed – be creative and unique. Don’t be afraid to take risks.

7. Curate to tell a story

User-generated content can be an amazing addition to your marketing efforts. Social media makes it fairly easy for marketers to run campaigns that incentivise audiences to create content for you.

But don’t forget about storytelling. In order to tell your brand’s story, you need to curate user-generated content or risk your brand message becoming a jumble.

8. Localisation is the way to go

It might be obvious to some people, but what works in Australia does not work in Singapore – and vice versa. Each market deserves its own ideas. If you as a marketer can’t operate at market level, you are wasting your money. Spend your effort on interrogating people locally to get a feel for the pulse and speed of things.

While algorithms for natural language translation are becoming more prevalent, they aren’t at the point where niche terminology and industry terms are accurately translated and localised.

9. Market expansion with content

When rolling into a new market content is key. But it’s also a major issue for many companies. Having a well-running content platform in one market and wanting to launch it in a new market is not as easy as it seems.

Want to know where to begin? Read more about how to get your brand heard in a new market.

Need help with developing creative content – drop us a message at hello@mutant.com.sg

Mastering media relations in the digital-only age

The recent news of Today Newspaper and Campaign Asia shutting down their print editions and going fully digital got us all talking about the fate of newsrooms and journalism.

Make no mistake, earned media is still hugely important for brands and that is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. However, the way people consume media has changed drastically and that has far-reaching implications not just for journalism, but also PR and communication teams.

Here are some tips to help you keep up and evolve:

Know your editors and their beats

This is key to ensuring your news is visible to those who need to see it. Understanding the new media landscape from a journalist’s point of view is paramount if you want to participate as a business owner, marketer or PR professional. And there’s multiple ways to do this! Start by reading every online and print publication that matters. Staying  in sync with topics journalists cover will only benefit your campaign. Industry news and hot trends are a must, but knowing what captures the attention of journalists and editors is the key to a successful pitch.

Use social media to connect

As more information goes out on social media, these platforms have become a valuable story resource for the journalists and editors. Social media is a key ingredient to mastering media relations, so use it effectively:

  • Gather intelligence – Want to pitch a story idea to a reporter? Then use social media to learn what makes them tick. Target specific journalists or bloggers and follow them on Twitter, their professional Facebook pages, Instagram or LinkedIn. It will provide you with insights that can help you with your next pitch.
  • Build relationships – Interacting through Tweets or comments can be a gateway to a conversation. Don’t underestimate the impact of a well-placed and thought-through comment.
  • Promote your thought leadership – The more you share your content and thoughts on social media, the higher your chances to appear on the feeds of journalists or editors.
  • Respond to breaking events – Share information that helps putting a related breaking story into context. You will have a good chance of attracting the attention of journalists. While you’re at it, pay attention to trending hashtags.
Use Google analytics for insights

Welcome to the age of data-driven PR. Using Google analytics, there’s an abundance of data insights at your fingertips, ranging from the source of your traffic to how many pages a visitor viewed. You can track visits from published PR materials and the source of leads. You can find out more about what your target audience looks at and where they come from. These insights into the readership of digital news websites add a strategic element to your campaign.

Suggested read: Up your PR game with data

Don’t limit your press releases

While it’s important to announce product announcements or executive changes, press releases can do much more. Use press releases to promote whitepapers, webinars, blogs and much more. Online content is becoming  more diverse in topic and imagery. It’s rare for a publication to be solely print nowadays, so it’s vital to consider content for the website.

A journalist is more likely to run your story if you can provide a few good quality images, a video and an infographic. Online publications rarely use only text. Announcements that are a little different and use alternative media will capture the attention and make your viewing experience as diverse and interesting as possible.

Need to get up to speed with digital media relations? Get in touch with us at hello@mutant.com.sg

 

How to determine marketing priorities as a tech startup

As a tech startup owner, you’re faced with a multitude of challenges and anxieties as you think of ways to grow your business. Budgeting, resourcing, manpower, business development are all high up on the list, but so is marketing, which often doesn’t get the due it deserves. That’s because startups don’t know where to begin and have trouble identifying key priorities. And we get it — with so many options and so much jargon thrown around, it can be a confusing.

Take a step back, breathe and focus on one thing at a time. Here’s a few tips to help you determine your marketing priorities:

Audience group

Get the ball rolling by identifying your target audience. What are you trying to sell and who is it for? Do you have a brand voice in place? If not, focus on concurrently establishing your brand voice.

Whatever your end product or service is, defining your audience group allows you to identify the best marketing and media channels allowing for a more streamlined marketing strategy. For example, if you’re in the business of developing a payroll system, consider channeling your funds towards platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter for your digital marketing, instead of consumer-facing platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.

Budget

Here comes the word that no startup owner wants to hear – budget. As a startup running on a lean budget, every dollar counts, but that doesn’t mean compromising on marketing. Expensive marketing doesn’t necessarily equate to good marketing and vice-versa.  Relying solely on your product attributes sounds idyllic, but more often than not, it isn’t enough.

We’re living in a digital age and this means you should take advantage of online channels and social media – after all, it’s free to use and easy to set up. Also, explore other avenues such as user-generated content, blogs and white-papers instead of spending money on advertising.

Define outcomes

Every marketing campaign has to have clearly defined outcomes and objectives. To do that, you need to identify where your company sits in the growth cycle.  If it’s still early days, brand awareness and data generation should be part of your KPIs. The data you acquire from these efforts will help define future campaigns too.

However, if you’re startup has taken off beyond the brand awareness stage, you should focus on ramping up sales and building a lead gen pipeline, meaning it’s time to reassess your marketing priorities and make necessary shifts.   
For B2B brands this means focusing on content marketing, while consumer-facing startups may consider giveaways and social media flash deals to excite their consumers. User-generated content is a great way to create buzz around your brand — not only is it free, it also considerably improves brand engagement.

Suggested reads:

If you need help getting started with your marketing priorities, drop us a note at hello@mutant.com.sg 

More than words – why PR should embrace data

The world of PR is more than words. As data is becoming increasingly democratised, ‘big data’ buzzwords are flooding into every industry – including PR. While the days of merely managing relationships and clippings are over, data is a highly crucial factor for successful campaigns today. PR professionals are experts in creating original media angles and pitching stories. But data can help to refine and sharpen these angles even further.

Many tech companies find it difficult to justify or see the immediate value of hiring PR. However, the business insights of companies can be the missing piece that helps to showcase thought leadership, gives a new market perspective and makes stories more interesting to the media and their readers.

PR is not product release

Product news releases are a big part of the PR world, but editorial teams have taken a strict stance on not publishing anything too closely-related to product releases. In today’s world, readers are far more discerning about advertising and sponsored content, therefore it’s crucial for media outlets to be objective. This makes it even harder for smaller companies to be heard at all. So, why would companies still hire PR professionals to create and distribute product releases?

A mere product release no longer has much impact in today’s busy media world. Data doesn’t just indicate a number of PR hits – it can actually proof points. Putting things into perspective, data can offer context and new PR angles. Using simple metrics, companies can share their real success stories. No matter if it’s the launch of a new product or industry trends – all of it can easily be quantified with ROI and other gathered data.

Turning data into insights

Collecting data before the conception of the PR campaign can offer key insights, shining a new light on the company’s product release. The successful communication of new products needs not only the accurate description of its benefits but demands a wider business context and key insights from the market. For example, a company offering ICT solutions won’t receive much media coverage with a mere product release. However, paired with a survey insight, such as ‘95% of APAC CIOs are actively seeking help with the digital transformation of their companies’, a product release can become major industry news.

Here are 4 tips to incorporate data into your PR strategy:
  1. Analyse product and market
  2. Interpret data with focus on product-market fit
  3. Align product communication with key market or business insight
  4. Design PR campaign around insights and product

Once you have collated your data from your research, it needs to be interpreted. An analysis is essential in this situation. PR professionals need to be able to slice, dice, and analyse data that drives new insights and interests journalists, whilst ensuring the company is represented in the best possible way.

Need some help to strengthen your PR messages with insightful data? Drop us a message to hello@mutant.com.sg

How young brands can create content

Is your company still at its beginning? Nobody really knows who you are? A content marketing campaign is the way forward. The question, however, is where and what kind of content you should create. Your options include thought leadership articles, industry reports, creative infographics, white papers, press releases, consumer guides and a growing stream of publishing platforms. With an increasing amount of content choices, it’s hard to pick the right one.

If no one has ever heard of you, it’s important to make a good first impression. Creating content for your brand is the best way to trigger and control the impact you want to make. Here are a few questions you need to consider when creating content for your still young and unknown brand:

1. What platform to use?

Social media has seemingly made it easy for brands to reach far and wide, but the truth is that it’s increasingly hard to break through the noise, especially if you don’t have a sufficient following yet. As there are a large variety of platforms to explore, you can’t be everywhere simultaneously. Not even the most established companies are present on all social platforms. The trick is to concentrate your efforts. But where?

If you know your business and customers, you probably have a good idea where you might find the right audience. If you are an e-commerce business trying to reach consumers, you want to be on Facebook and Instagram. But if you are a B2B company, you will have better chances of promoting yourself on LinkedIn and Twitter. When you have decided on a platform, you should explore its various features. Don’t get distracted by toying around on other platforms. Although it’s recommended to have profiles on multiple platforms and repost content there, your primary content creation efforts need to be concentrated on one platform only – at least in the beginning. After conquering one platform, you can attempt to dip your feet elsewhere.

2. What kind of content to create?

Choosing the right platform for your business is just the first step.  Next, you need to think about the type of content you want to produce. No matter the industry, it is ideal to use a variety of content types. That said, content works differently across industries. While no one will pay attention to your white paper if you are in the e-commerce space, everybody will take notice if you are a data analytics company.

Here are a few questions to get you started on finding a content match for your company:

  • What are other companies in your industry doing?
  • What can you do better?
  • What is your expertise that differentiates you?
  • What value is your content adding to users and consumers?
  • What highlights your business best?
3. Where to begin?

Content marketing has become hugely popular, but often brands don’t think through their strategies enough. Before blogging and posting like there is no tomorrow, you need to define what you want to achieve. Most companies want to increase awareness, generate leads, drive conversions, collect emails or achieve similar goals. All of which are reasonable goals, but you need to define a goal that is aligned with your business objectives.

Before creating your very first post, you need to ensure that your website is up-to-date, mobile-optimised, offers a simple way to contact you and depicts your company in the best way possible. Why is this important? Imagine your content goes viral and plenty of traffic and leads come to your website, but your contact form doesn’t work or your website appears clunky on mobile – all of your content efforts go straight out of the window. Therefore, before creating any content, make sure you are ready to receive the traffic and leads it will generate.

4. Can you do it yourself?

One blog post per month is not an effective content marketing strategy. If this is all you have time for, you might as well not do it. You must remember that you are not the only one fighting for consumers’ attention. Once you have assessed your content needs, you need to be dedicated to executing it.  

While some brands begin their content journey with freelancers or in-house, others work with content agencies right from the get-go. It’s not a one size fits all approach. Think about what is most effective for your company. If you are a B2B company, you might want to ask an agency to create content, but handle the direct engagement on Twitter yourself. Take on what you are confident with. If your company and an e-commerce and consumer-facing, content is even more crucial for your traffic, brand awareness, and campaigns. Depending on the size of your business, you might want to consider an in-house content team. If that isn’t possible for you yet, you can hire a content strategist, who can orchestrate the creation of content with agencies or freelancers.

Need help with content creation for your brand? Drop us a note at hello@mutant.com.sg

PR or Branded Content – Which Is Your Best Bet?

While native advertising still retains its appeal under the marketing umbrella today, the journalistic form of branded content has grown to become marketers’ new weapon of choice, as they have greater control over the content published. But is branded content really easier, faster and cheaper than PR?

Given the overlap between both strategies, some may even argue that branded content will eventually come to replace the jobs of public relations pros. When slapped with a budget limit, marketers are often forced to weigh one option over the other. Others are spoilt for choice on the channels to employ for their messages to be heard loud and clear. As a marketer, how do you decide which strategy works best for a business? Here are a few questions you need to consider.

Who are you targeting?

Defining your target audience from the beginning is key to shaping the outcome of your storytelling efforts. This includes having a strong understanding of the media consumption habits of your target audience – where do they “lurk” on- and offline, what type of content do they consume, and how do they react to various types of content?
It is also imperative to be on top of existing regulations and policies pertaining to branded content, especially on social media platforms. Facebook requires the brand to clearly indicate that the content published is branded, while Influencers collaborating with brands are required to explicitly highlight the commercial nature of their content with hashtags such as #sponsored or #SP.

How will your content benefit your audience?

While branded content allows companies to leverage on the reach and engagement of media publications, consumers have become more discerning than ever. This means they can easily tell branded content and advertorials apart from journalistic articles. It also means they will make a conscious effort to avoid such articles.

At the end of the day, if you’re putting your money on branded content, consider how you can craft content that is compelling enough to stir the interest of your audience or share new knowledge with them. A job board’s main purpose, for example, is to have jobseekers come on board, create their profiles and land a career with them. But with so many job boards readily available out there today, job boards have expanded into offering free, targeted career advice for jobseekersWhile career advice does not appear to have an immediate connection with a job board business’ main function, it serves as another avenue to drive brand recall while adding value to a jobseeker’s job search. The next time a jobseeker thinks about job searching, the particular brand whom they’ve interacted with would remain at the top of their minds.

How much time do you have?

Behind every successful PR campaign, is a great number of hours put into preparation. This includes crafting the right brand key messages, identifying the relevant media outlets, drafting press releases and building the company’s press kit. Having ample time to pull the materials together can aid to the overall success of the PR efforts.

But if you really can’t wait at least a month to start seeing some media traction from your PR team, branded content can be a quicker alternative to achieve a similar end goal. Whether it’s partnering up with a media house or collaborating with influencers on a post, a video or a blog post, these factors can all be controlled to suit your needs.

What are your budgets?

Just like advertising, branded content is a reliable way of securing desired placements within your choice of media publications, allowing your messages to get heard. However, it is the quality of that branded content that will make the difference – and producing quality takes time. But while engaging a PR agency for their expertise and contacts across multiple media outlets can cost a lump sum, engaging a well-known influencer for a one-off branded Instagram shoutout, or engaging a publication for a content partnership can likely cost just as much. You also need to consider that one post alone won’t do much, as consistency and continuous engagement will keep a brand in the consciousness of consumers.

Consider your end goal

There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to choosing the marketing channels for your brand. Every channel plays its part in supporting the bigger picture of marketing. At the end of the day, it’s your understanding of your business’s needs, and knowing how to effectively blend various marketing strategies to put forth a cohesive message. That’s what will ultimately drive the best results for your business.

Want to talk more about getting your story out there? Drop us a message to hello@mutant.com.sg 

 

3 PR takeaways from the UK general election

Calling a snap general election ahead of Brexit negotiations caught almost everyone by surprise. With the expectation that Theresa May’s Conservative party would gain a larger majority to prevent any opposition to the Brexit deal, and the Tories being far ahead in any opinion poll, the odds were in her favour. At least they were meant to be. As the dust settles on the UK snap General Election, we can take a step back and consider the top PR takeaways from the crash and successes of the campaigns.

Avoid the U-turns

It goes without saying that May has suffered. One of the biggest PR disasters of her campaign has been the lack of and even loss of trust due to a number of U-turns she made. Here’s a look at all the back-pedalling that went down:

  • Let’s begin with the idea of calling of a snap election, after categorically stating that it would not happen: “There isn’t going to be one. It isn’t going to happen. There is not going to be a general election,”.
  • Then came ‘Dementia Tax’,  the Conservative’s proposal for adult social care.  The party first said that people with less than £100,000 in assets would have to pay for care, but four days later announced a cap on social care costs.

All this backtracking made the party appear weak and wobbly to the British public. Instead of jumping to decisions and then rescinding, much more respect is to be won by taking the time to consider the steps they were taking. Trust is one of the most important factors for your brand. As an intangible asset, it builds loyalty, meaningful relationships, and ultimately profitability. Of course, you can say your business is honest and credible, but consumers won’t buy it unless you walk the talk.

Brand personality – have one

It’s one thing to talk to 200 people, but May’s campaign visits were especially restricted, prompting many to accuse her of hiding. When you’re the face of a party, or a brand for that matter, you cannot become invisible. To relate to your target audience and really reach out to people who so desperately want to hear your voice, you must be front and center. Leaving the public to solely focus on policies and not influence or create interest is one of the biggest PR blunders you can make.

Jeremy Corbyn, on the other hand, engaged  with his supporters through rallies, social media and Live TV debates. This gave him the opportunity to be more visual and active, but also showed that he cared — certainly when compared to an absentee leader. The difference between the two candidates can be seen in their social media followings. Statistics from We Are Social show that the Labour Party increased its following by 61% across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in the six weeks after the election was called. The Conservatives’ following rose by just 6%  in the same period.

No getting away from media training

We don’t know if her PR team shared questions prior to interview, but when asked about the ‘naughtiest thing’ she had ever done, May confessed  to running through fields of wheat. Well, social media had a ‘field day’ and had –admittedly hilarious – fun with this interview leaving #wheatandwobbly trending on Twitter.

Media training can be highly effective in helping you develop the skills to get your message across succinctly and with impact. And when you are an effective spokesperson, the media will return to you for expert commentary. Sometimes journalists can ask questions that are difficult to answer or put you on the spot. Media training can prepare you for challenging questions and any unexpected twists or turns during the interview.

Want to speak more about your PR campaign or media training? Drop a note at hello@mutant.com.sg