How Has PR Evolved Over The Years?

In a fast-paced, content-driven world, audiences are highly discerning and watch  brands’ actions and behaviour with an eagle eye. They sharply observe any and all discrepancies between what brands say and the policies they end up enacting, and are generally much harder to win over as loyal customers. 

With the rise of the digital age, PR has expanded beyond its traditional scope of building goodwill, trust and awareness, and ventured into lead generation and integrated campaigns. 

So what has changed and how should PR professionals be navigating this playing field?

Evolving media landscape

Major newsrooms have undergone several rounds of restructuring in recent years. By shifting the focus from print to digital, most operate on increasingly lean editorial teams. Some publications are folding entirely. For example, Questex Asia shuttered its regional operations, which resulted in the closure of a full suite of key enterprise titles, leaving brands with fewer channels for niche technology stories. Most recently, notable marketing trade publication Mumbrella Asia exited the market after struggling with profitability.

The shrinking media pool means that newsrooms must be extra selective when it comes to shortlisting media pitches – not just because they have to identify a highly curated content fit for readers, but also due to manpower and resource limitations.  

The good news is that readers are adapting to change and are willing to pay for digital subscriptions that are worth the fee. Tech in Asia’s comeback is testament that the implementation of paywalls and subscription models can work – but only if backed by differentiated, quality content, carving out previously under-tapped revenue streams for the digital publication.

Combating fake news

The wide reach of unmoderated channels like social media and messaging apps has brought with them the advent of fake news – articles, videos or posts that masquerade as “news” but are not substantiated by real sources, and are not published by real news sources. 

The good news about fake news is that consumers are increasingly cognizant of misinformation, what it looks like and how it spreads, and are aware of the role they could potentially play in perpetuating it. To assist with media literacy, the Straits Times even has a dedicated column for debunking fake news, which has been especially vital during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Combating fake news is not a fight for the media alone –  it is also the responsibility of PR practitioners to provide the journalists they liaise with with accurate and timely information from brands, and positioning key executives as thought leaders and reliable sources of truth. The onus also lies on PR professionals to counter misinformation proactively and to take a stand against the misrepresentation of facts.

The COVID-19 crisis has seen the proliferation of misinformation tear through frightened consumers and communities — using the right combination of PR and thought leadership during these troubling times is the key to emerging even stronger. Talk to us, we know how:

Embracing digital channels

APAC is one of the world’s most digitally active regions, and people here consume news in diverse ways as a direct consequence of the changing regional and local media landscape.

Digital content enables the easy sharing of media through a variety of channels such as e-newsletters, social media, and groups on messaging platforms. By using these avenues, publications can ensure news reaches their audience quickly and directly. What this means for PR is that brands now have more opportunities to get creative with integrated campaigns, which can amplify the reach of their earned media — publicity gained through sustained publicity efforts — via both paid and owned media channels.

Another popular digital format is the podcast, an audio format that has been steadily gaining momentum due to its packaged formula of convenience and bite-sized content that perfectly complements the busy lives of modern audiences. CNA, Straits Times, Business Times and Tech in Asia are just a few of the media publications that have been quick to leverage this tool to provide their audience with another way to access content.

The appetite for engaging, quality content is bigger than ever, despite smaller newsrooms and tighter editorial teams. This is why PR teams are embracing integrated campaigns that marry traditional public relations with content and digital marketing. If your brand has yet to test the efficacy of content, now is a great time to consider how both content and digital marketing can complement your broader communications strategy to maximise audience outreach efforts. 

Need help pivoting your PR strategy, or simply want to understand the modern PR landscape better? You’ve come to the right place — drop us a note at [email protected]

Myth BUSting: Get My Ad Off That Bus!

You have an ad on a bus – congratulations, that’s great stuff.

How much did it cost? More than $30,000 for three months? And that’s one bus only? Right.

Your brand awareness must be spiking. Oh, you’re not sure?

You must be getting some leads, though?

While I am sure your CEO is happy to see the brand flash past, it can be hard to tell whether your bus ad has actually made an impact. Bus ad starter-packages of around $30,000 is a big sum for small and midsize companies to spend, so you really need to consider how effective bus ads they actually are for your intended outcome, and what you could potentially do with that money instead. 

What does an ad on a bus do for you?

Many marketing departments (not all, though) are afraid to invest their budgets in testing new ways of reaching their target audiences. They are more comfortable with tried-and-tested campaigns that have worked for them in the past rather than branch out into new territories they are uncertain about paying off.

Now, we aren’t slamming transit ads altogether — they’re hugely effective for certain campaigns and brands. In fact, out-of-home advertising is the only offline media category to grow consistently, thanks in part to huge commuter volumes. Our contention is with brands taking a cookie-cutter approach, given the main argument for running ads on buses in Singapore is that it will generate mass awareness for your brand. 

But does it? Sure, you can get in front of people by riding around Singapore — but how impactful is it?

Here’s what you CAN know about your bus ads: What percentage of people from your target audience takes the bus (in general) and how often; which routes are more likely to be seen by a particular audience (i.e. students, tourists, office workers); and an estimation of how many people could potentially see the bus your ad is on.

But here’s what you CAN’T know about them: Your brand awareness lift as a result of your bus ad; how many people looked at your website or social pages after seeing the bus ad; how many people bought your products or requested your services as a result; cost per conversion and return on investment (ROI) or return on ad spend (ROAS).

For large, established brands, these concerns are minimal. But for small and mid-sized businesses looking to reach a wide audience, to generate mass brand awareness and to track their efforts accordingly, it should be an important consideration. 

So what should you do with $30,000 (if you don’t paste it on a bus)?

A quick bus ride would reveal that most people look at their phones both while commuting or at bus stops. While your ads will get in front of a lot of people, it’s hard to say whether there will be an impact on sales. Following the motto ‘a lot helps a lot’ is suitable here – i.e. the more buses carry your ad, the higher the chance your message will be heard. However, this comes at a significant cost. So, why not try to reach people where they are more responsive and can take immediate action?

Example: Let’s assume you are running a big-ticket event in Singapore for which you want to drive awareness and sell about 10,000 tickets at $70 each. 

Alternative #1 – Digital Reach

Opt for a digital advertising campaign that includes brand awareness and lead generation in the same campaign. Start by running video ads on social media or other digital channels. For a budget of $5,000, your ad can reach more 500,000 people in your target audiences.

Your next campaign can be built and optimised based on the results and data you have accumulated so far. If you run another bus ad campaign, you are starting from scratch because there is no data.

Alternative #2 – Digital retargeting 

Run a campaign retargeting people who have liked, interacted or fully watched your brand video. Choose ‘conversion’ (online sales) as your campaign objective to reach people who are more likely to make a purchase.

Find more people who are similar to those that have already bought a ticket. Create a custom audience based on the conversions in phase two, and then create a lookalike audience. This will find people who are very similar to those who made a purchase and who are more likely to purchase as well.

Alternative #3 – PR 

Define your story angles and pitch your event to lifestyle publications and general media. Typically, after impactful event coverage appears, you will be able to register a spike in ticket sales. Using e-ticketing service for your event, you can keep track of how effective the different media coverage is.

Alternative #4 – Influencer campaign

No matter what target audience your event may have, there will be a number of great influencers. Be sure to work closely with your PR team in selecting the right influencers and outlining the rules of the engagement. Just a simple post that talks about your event might not be enough. Links back to your website and ticket giveaways should be a given. Be innovative and use the influencers’ channels in a creative manner. 

What’s the outcome?

If we’re talking about bang for your buck and tangible outcomes – regardless of whether you want to sell tickets, drive awareness for your ecommerce store, or generate leads for your business – a digital campaign will get you quantifiable results for your  investment. 

And while this is a debatable topic and you might argue that out-of-home advertising is creative and ‘in your face’, until you can show us the data to prove your point…

Took the wrong route? It’s time to step off. If you want to talk about how you could spend your marketing budget more efficiently, send us a message to [email protected].

Pivoting Your PR Strategy In A Merger

Mergers and acquisitions are one of the trickier situations for PR folks to navigate. Change is never easy – but you can take control of the narrative. Time is of the essence, and it falls on the communication team to update the messaging, announce the deal and keep tabs on both internal and external sentiments. The key is to ensure trust and credibility in both brands don’t dip – while reassuring customers and other stakeholders that it’s business as usual and that this means better products and services – in the long run. 

If you are in this unique situation – take a deep breathe – and read on. 

Connect the dots 

Communications teams are often the first to the roped in just before the merger is legally inked. The first task is to connect with core team members including key executives and communications colleagues from both brands; choosing channels carefully to avoid any news leaks with strict non-disclosure agreements reinforced. The communications  team should identify if there has already been talks or rumours in the media – carefully mapping out key journalists and titles for the official announcement roll out. Needless to say, any ongoing campaigns or communications should be on pause. 

Map Out Messaging 

As two become one, the core team need to collaborate and map out a fresh narrative for the merger. The new direction needs to be clearly articulated with key messages need to address all potential stakeholder concerns. A press release, speech and holding statements together with extensive FAQs will form the foundation of the roll out plan. All spokespeople should be briefed with a media training session to help them navigate tough questions. 

Team First 

Just before rolling out the communications externally, coordinate with team leads to announce the merger internally. It’s important to check the tone and humanise the message – with sincere platforms such as a town hall with a senior executive, followed by smaller group sessions that would help open up conversations to address any questions. This announcement may bring up insecurities as employees fear a reorganisation – and if larger changes are in the works; change management specialists should be brought in to help. 

Roll Out

On top of sharing a press announcement, the communications team should pick a media outlet or two for key interviews. Here’s where the initial research comes in handy, as the team should pick a credible, neutral source that was not skewed in publishing initial speculations. The spokesperson representing the new merged brand will need to brace for incoming media queries – stick to the fresh messaging and help address any concerns. 

Listen & Reinforce

Once the news is out, the communications team will need to step up monitoring for new sentiments and message pick-up both in news sources as well as social media. This will help them reinforce or tweak the narrative to land better.  This is only the beginning – and it usually takes companies between six months to several years to complete a merger. In the meantime, the team needs to keep a pulse on the sentiments and roll out larger campaigns that will cement the new narrative. 

There’s no one size fits all plan – but these basic blocks would help put a PR plan in place.

We’re here for you – reach out to us by emailing [email protected] 

 

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 [email protected].

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 [email protected]

 

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 [email protected]

Let’s talk branded video content

From online TV or subscription services like Netflix, to free video on platforms such as YouTube and social media, folks in Asia are consuming more video content than ever before. You’ve heard this all before – and while brands now have a robust video strategy in place, creatives are still far from perfect.

Here’s our 5 key takeaways on creating effective online ads for branded video campaigns:

Optimise video for mobile

Mobile is already the primary device for accessing the internet in APAC, yet, brands still choose to produce glossy 30-second TV-type ads that do little to hook mobile users. Because content is consumed differently on mobile devices, brands need to ensure their videos capture attention and emotion from the get-go.

Make a sentimental pitch

Video tech company Unruly’s data shows that sentimental storytelling ads are the best performers for 18-34 year olds, a key audience segment for many brands. The study showed that millennials have a stronger reaction to emotional content like this 2014 campaign for Thai Life Insurance.

 

 

Make it work for sound-off

According to Unruly, 80% of millennials mute a brand’s video ads. To engage this audience, advertisers need to create content for a sound-off experience. Avoid dialogue and use text and graphics to draw consumers in

Tailor video for specific social media

YouTube users hold phones sideways to consume content, while Facebook videos are best viewed upright. Majority of Facebook video is watched without sound, while YouTube is always played with full sound. Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter come with their own peculiarities. Brands that stand out are the ones that are tailoring social media content for each channel and country’s internet speeds.

Think beyond views

When it comes to measuring a video’s success, views aren’t everything. Whether it is to increase awareness, consideration, or influence sales, it is important for advertisers to establish marketing goals for their campaigns, and then come up with a set of KPIs to track and measure campaign success.

 

Let us help you create effective content – drop us a message at [email protected]

 

 

What a legendary Hollywood talent agent can teach you about PR

We’re in the business of shining the spotlight on other businesses. So to do a little research,  I watched a documentary on sixties Hollywood talent agent, Shep Gordon and learned a thing or two about what it takes to make other people famous.

It’s alright if you haven’t heard of him, that’s his job – to make other people famous.

In the documentary Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon you see the talent manager’s chain of life events unravel, and along the way, I picked up tips on about how he successfully managed the world’s most famous personalities at the time. If iPhones existed in the sixties, Jimi Hendrix, Dalai Lama, Janis Joplin and Alice Cooper would be WhatsApping him on the regular.

Here are the qualities that separate a novice from a true PR professional:

Mr Nice Guy wins

Professionals who work in public relations have a clear swagger to them. They have the magical ability to smooth over gaffes as if they were all part of the act. But PR agents don’t need to be overly polished snobs like Samantha from Sex and the City. PR is one of the few jobs where being nice actually gets you everywhere.

Shep’s was the king of normcore style. He was low-key, if not a little Terry Richardson-esque (sorry) in the wardrobe department.  But he was known for his amazingly warm demeanour and was super easy to get along with. This is what matters in PR. Keeping it real gives you an edge.

The sky’s the limit.

Shep had the most out-of-the-box ideas for PR stunts. He invented the concept of ‘celebrity chef’. He was the first to introduce top chefs to the entertainment industry – inviting them to appear on shows and act as ambassadors for cooking products. There are many avenues that go beyond traditional media to achieve brand awareness – he went against the tried and tested method and achieved one of the best strategies to reach out to the crowd.

Take risks – it’s okay in PR!

When getting truly creative, you always have to take a risk – it is a make or break situation that can get people talking. For Shep, any PR was good PR.

The American agent came up with a PR stunt in London, staging a breakdown of a huge truck in Piccadilly Circus, displaying a risqué photograph of a nearly naked Alice Cooper, his modesty preserved by a strategically placed snake. The streets went wild, it literally stopped traffic. Everyone wanted to know who Alice Cooper was.

 Get social (offline)

You need to be a social person to be in PR. You need to be comfortable around people and have confidence. If you’re not a social butterfly, it’s time to practice.

Every chance you get, sign up for gallery openings, networking events, after parties. Being around new people makes you more aware of how to manage different personalities, and make new friends.

Be genuine

You’ve heard it so many times – but you hardly find sincerity and genuine people, especially in the PR industry. We get flak for always wanting something in return – a piece of coverage, or a pitch. Stop this stereotype and try meeting people without a motive – have a genuine interest in the other person and always make sure to ask them about themselves before blabbing about the client you want to promote.

In a Forbes article about him, Shep was quoted, “What’s really important for me is to do compassionate business.” We need some love and compassion – and it can start with PR. It is a tough job, but Shep reminds me about how amazing it can be when done right.

#PR4EVA

For help on making your business shine, get in touch with us at [email protected]

Go small or go home: Why boutique PR agencies are crushing big firms

At the speed of digital trends, do you want a PR agency that’s agile like a fox or sturdy like a buffalo?

Big PR firms have the manpower, resources, and contacts to execute campaigns quickly, but advances in technology means brands need the flexibility to pivot to suit the mood of today’s on-demand audience.

Here are a couple reasons why you should hire a boutique agency over a big firm:

Skilled Staff

More manpower doesn’t mean a higher quality of work. At some larger agencies, smaller accounts may be handed down to junior members or even interns.

At a boutique agency, there is a specialist for everything. By nature, these smaller companies follow lean organisational structures stripped of multiple management levels and stringent systems and constant revision. This makes the team more nimble, enough to weave past unnecessary approval processes that eat up your billable hours.

They’re part of the ‘hacker generation’

Smaller companies tend to have a startup mentality: Fearless, resourceful, unorthodox problem solvers.

They are known to approach barriers from the outside and sometimes, through the backdoor instead of waiting for the higher-ups to approve a solution. On top of that, staff at leaner agencies enjoy taking the unconventional routes that keeps them on track with or sometimes even ahead of the consumers.

They thrive on change

Change is the constant of boutique PR firms, and they are well-equipped to move along with key industry trends and developments. Rather than fearing new technology, smaller agencies race to be the first to use a new platform or tackle a new social media trend.

With fewer people, revisions are also easier for boutique agencies. If an internal structure is holding back results, managers at small agencies will not hesitate to remove or reform them, to power your business and theirs forward.

Skilled Staff

With the internet bubbling over with too much information, brands need more creativity, quicker.

It’s become clear that advertising is no longer just the business of selling your product or services. Instead, it is now all about making their brand a part of the customer’s everyday life. In order to be there with the customer every step of the way, brands need to be able to tailor strategy at the very last minute.

This is typically where the big players have struggled to keep up, given their internal business reglementations put in place to ensure consistent organisational structures.

What I feel is imperative for businesses today, is to steer themselves away from the traditional view of how bigger or more is better. This can be done through re-evaluating business goals and looking further into what the boutiques can bring to their table, helping business owners get the best bang for their buck.

Need more advice on choosing the right agency for your business? Contact us at [email protected]

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6 phases of a PR campaign for pre-launch startups

So, you’ve got a great product or service. You’ve tried and tested your amazing idea and you’re sure it’s going to solve a big problem in people’s lives. All you need to do is get the word out there and before you know it, hoards of people will soon be using it and sharing it with their friends.

Right?

Quite often here at Mutant, we see a pattern of pre-launch startups approaching us for PR, social and content activities a month (or even less) before their big launch. While it’s great our services are being sought out, it’s not ideal for startups – or for a PR campaign – to have such a short lead-in time. It’s something that you should be thinking about months in advance to plan your content, generate interest and kick-start press coverage.

Magazines work two months in advance, so if you’re hoping for print interviews and features, you need to be working to their timings.

These days there are more activities than ever for startups to think about. PR, social media, video content, blogs, marketing, SEO, SEM – the list goes on. This can be really overwhelming for a small team with a limited budget. All these activities will help you in different ways, but applying a small combination of them – or placing a large focus on one or two from the list – will help you go a long way.

For the purpose of this post we’ll focus solely on PR, going through the tasks and stages you should be thinking about before engaging an agency for help to execute.

  1. Writing a press release: What’s your angle?

Finding the right angle for your initial press release is the most important starting point. What do you want to highlight to the media and the public the very first time they hear about your business?

Ideally it’s your USP – your Unique Selling Proposition – which could be anything from innovation around great service, famous founders, game-changing food or venue, the solution to an industry-wide problem, the biggest, fastest, strongest product in its field, etc.

There are so many things you probably want to say, but you only have one shot to grab attention with a catchy angle and main headline. Make sure it really stands out.

  1. Press release tips to keep in mind
  • Make sure your news is timely – it has to be about now. Include dates and timings if applicable in your release.
  • Write all the main points in your first two sentences. Some journalists and bloggers might not read beyond this. Include the What, When, Where, Why and How of your story.
  • Make sure your release includes one or two quotes from key people, such as a company founder or an expert in the field. Make it easy for the press to extract a succinct quote that outlines the purpose of your launch.
  • Add in contact details for further enquiries or interview requests.
  • Put in a link to your press kit at the end.
  1. Putting together a press kit

By using something as simple as Dropbox, put together a folder of all the information the press may need to access about you. This can include biographies of key people, your company profile, high resolution photos, videos (if applicable), FAQs and, of course, your press release.

This way, media have all the information they need to write about you, making it much more probable that they will cover you. No one likes to go back and forth while collating an article.

  1. Pitch the right story to the right journalists

This is the most important step of all. There is no point pitching a tech story to a fashion magazine or a lifestyle angle to a business journalist.

Your business is likely to appeal to different sectors and industries. Alongside your PR agency, this can help you segment what aspects of your company will appeal to different journalists. For example, if you’ve created a lifestyle app that reviews restaurants, you would want to pitch your story to F&B magazines and lifestyle sections of daily newspapers.

But let’s take it one step further. If you’re willing to divulge figures, why not approach tech and business publications to announce your Series A funding? If you’ve got an interesting personal story, why not approach women’s and men’s magazines for a profile interview? If you’re not sure about the best way to do this, an agency can help streamline this process to ensure maximum coverage.

  1. Follow up

Distributing a press release is only half the job. Editors receive hundreds of press releases and are likely to have vaguely skimmed through yours or missed it completely. A follow-up call and email (or multiple) is a must.

Make sure it’s as targeted as possible and that you really understand the publication you’re pitching to. Know their specific sections well – for example, if they have a ‘Day in the life of…’ section and you think your daily schedule would slot perfectly into that, then pitch for that specifically. The more specific you are, the more likely you will get an answer from the journalist.

  1. Track

Make sure you’re tracking coverage, setting up Google alerts and keeping an eye on all listings and stories that come out. This sounds very obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people look back and can’t seem to find the article from two years ago that appeared in the local newspaper. Make sure physical print stories are scanned and saved for future reference.

This is just a tiny guide to get you started. The best way to carry out a full campaign is to engage with a PR company who already has established press contacts and experience. But when you’re pre-Series A or even pre-seed funding and are doing everything on your own savings, this can be difficult to budget.

If you’d like more advice on how to get started with PR, content and social, feel free to get in touch with us at [email protected].