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

Why You Can’t Camouflage a Rotten Company Culture

Infinite snacks, sleep pods and an unrestricted flow of bottled wine on Friday afternoons do not a company culture make.

As nice as it is to boast to your friends about how you have unlimited leave, a never-ending supply of saccharine treats, and virtually no dress code (rather, one that is liberal for the most part), none of these perks really answer the question,. “So, what’s your company culture like?”

There is a general practice of describing company culture in terms of the perks and benefits available. After all, it is the existence (or absence) of these comforts which help people form an impression of what a workplace might be like to work in. And stereotypes help: a workplace where people can absentmindedly munch on snacks while downing carbonated drinks in a hoodie and sweatpants screams liberal and laidback, with virtually no hierarchy. Having to wear formals to work, or any other prescribed outfit, coupled with minimal perks may signal a rigid and stuffy work environment, where micromanagement is the norm.

However, company culture – an integral part of a company’s core identity – is a complex thing to understand and explain. Company culture is an intangible concept, which permeates across all facets of a company – from the way the bosses guide and mentor their subordinates on a daily basis, to the types of corporate partnerships secured.

All the perks and bonuses in the world will not be an adequate camouflage for a company culture that is rotten to its core. A company that doesn’t possess a culture which influences all of its myriad aspects would, simply, collapse. Without a firmly cemented culture, it would not be possible for a company to achieve whatever higher goals it wishes to pursue.

Company culture and organisational behaviour

Claiming that a company has an “open and supportive” company culture means little unless it is put into action. In order to build a concrete culture, firms should draw up actionable, measurable steps in order to achieve it. Culture is an integral part of a corporation’s personality – remove it and you’d be left with a husk of a structure, at best.

Rather than racking their brains trying to put together catchy phrases and quotable slogans, higher executives should set an example for everyone else to follow, and conduct themselves in a way which would act as a gold standard for everyone else to follow. Take Netflix for instance: while their company culture(which is available in the public domain for all to read) has drawn mixed reviews from onlookers, it is unmistakably set in stone, practiced by employees at all levels, and reinforced by senior management.

Company culture and employee satisfaction

A robust company culture sets the blueprints for day-to-day functioning in an office. A healthy company culture will nurture and celebrate all of its talents, provide them with ample opportunities to grow and prove their worth, and harbour a healthy and inclusive working environment for one and to thrive. There is no room for toxic office-related politics and unhealthy workplace rivalries which may end catastrophically for everyone involved.

Being a part of a team would actually mean something, as opposed to company cultures where people treat each other as mere desk-mates. As a result, employees can realise their full potential and be more productive. It creates satisfied and engaged employees who are happy to sing praises about the highly supportive company they have the privilege of working for.

However, cease to take care of the people who work for you, and you will find yourself looking at high levels of burnout, employee turnover and attrition rates, and most crucially, employee dissatisfaction and resentment.

Company culture and external business nature

Piggybacking off of the previous point – if your company’s working “culture” generates more drama than seven seasons of a badly-written soap, you can rest assured they’ll be telling everyone about the thoroughly riveting (code for “harrowing”) time they experienced. And sometimes, disgruntled people don’t just “spill the tea” to their inner circle – if they suffered enough, they will make sure that everyone, from old internship mentors to university professors get to know. So don’t be surprised when people might not want to do business with your company.

Who you choose to do business with, which products you decide to endorse, and which clients you represent – are all an extension of your company culture. Ideally, the businesses you choose to associate your company with should share some of your own corporate culture and values, and represent a stepping stone towards achieving your overall organisational goals. To this end, Mutant follows its own advice – and we have turned down potential clients due to moral misalignments and dodgy tactics.

Work with entities who can reinforce the narrative you choose to create. If you boast of a diverse and inclusive company culture, yet consistently work with people or organisations who are either racist, or support racist ideals, you will just come off as inconsistent or hypocritical.

Mutant’s (awesome) company culture

Here at Mutant, we do have plenty of office perks. I can come to work in an iridescent off-shoulder gown, and no one will bat an eyelid because productivity and capability trumps dress codes. One of our directors bring his dog to the office, so we allow ourselves a little break by taking Instagram stories of Muffin in a hypebeast jacket specially designed for dogs.

The real “perk” however, is Mutant’s wholesome and robust company culture. Given that we’re a mid-sized, tight-knit team, we have ample opportunities to collaborate, and produce great results for all of our clients. While there is a hierarchy in terms of titles, everyone’s ideas are given equal weights, and everyone’s voices are treated as important. Activities such as client brainstorms and kick-off meetings frequently see the younger employees carry their weight, even with senior executives around.

If there is a problem, we work together to solve it. Micromanaging people isn’t a thing here because everyone is trusted with their respective responsibilities – though we are not averse to giving each other a gentle push if work is not done.

Don’t we sound like an awesome place to work? Join the Mutant family by saying ‘hi’ at hello@mutant.com.sg

 

 

 

How to be a Mindful Communicator

When I worked for a government organisation, I was tasked with drafting an internal document that would help outline a new project. After a month, it was a multi-chaptered, highly detailed and cross-indexed behemoth – the kind of document you complain about putting together, but are secretly proud of when you send it “upstairs” for approval.

Unfortunately, “upstairs” was not as in love as I was, and what followed was a week of vague feedback about “alignment” and “strategic integration”. Frustrated and dejected, I eventually went to a more senior colleague who, after a quick read, said “Aiyah! No wonder they said no. Don’t have the buzzwords they wanted!” He then proceeded to give me a list of “key terms” that needed to be added to the document. These phrases did not add much meaning, they did not communicate anything new, and, in some cases, had to be shoehorned in to fit. But you can guess how this story ends: magically, the document was now perfectly aligned and strategically integrated.

Most people laugh at this story because it’s relatable –  everyone in the working world has come up against this type of corporate speak at least once. But to me, it’s both a humorous anecdote and a cautionary tale: because I sometimes catch myself automatically lapsing into buzzwords and corporate speak.

So in 2019, let’s Marie Kondo our habits and aim to be a more mindful communicator.

The importance of mindful communication

In George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, he introduced the idea of “Newspeak” – a totalitarian government’s attempt at stripping language down to its bare essentials to eliminate “undesired thoughts”. Within the novel, Orwell theorised that if people had restricted grammar and limited vocabulary, it would limit freedom of thought.

Though the world hasn’t completely reduced the value of discourse (okay, maybe a little), I’ve seen many instances where people opt for the shorthand of corporate speak instead of taking the time to explain fully what they mean. Though the use of corporate buzzwords can be essential at times, the danger lies in when it comes time to think about new things or to improve on existing models.

To help us break out of the spin cycle and practise mindful communication, I’m sharing a few lessons I’ve learned  over the years and that I, too, am using on the daily.

1. Communicate with intent

There’s a misconception that many people in the PR industry talk for talking’s sake. I believe the opposite is true. Most of my peers are hyper-aware of everything they say, and if it’s a choice between saying nothing or risk saying something that doesn’t have value, they tend to err on the side of caution. Before starting on any type of correspondence, ask yourself if there’s a clear intention behind it. If there really isn’t – and you’d be surprised how often this happens – then not communicating might even be a better choice. If there is a clear intention, though, then let that be your starting point. For example, if your email is to request information from a client, then start your email with that request upfront and gear the rest of the email towards helping your client fulfil that request.

2. Think beyond words

Communication is closely tied to words and language, but it’s about so much more than locution. There are studies that indicate using mind maps helps with the ability to recall that information. This makes practical sense, as the bias toward visuals is probably why YouTube has become the world’s second most used search engine (consider the last time you needed a “how-to” guide).

A mindful communicator should be prepared to explore other means of communication, such as illustrations, videos or charts, in order to make a point. Even with text-heavy documents something as simple as inserting bullet points and tables can be immensely helpful when discussing dense information.

3. More than just buzzwords

Jargon, buzzwords and industry slang can be great in certain situations, but you’ve got to be mindful of how you use these terms.

Take, for example, the phrase “end-to-end solution”. Technically it means a product or service that encompasses an entire process, but this term has become overused (and misused, in some cases) within the tech industry. Not only has it lost its meaning and impact, those outside the tech likely will not fully understand what it means. This happens often with buzzwords (e.g. “sustainability”, “holistic” “360-degree-approach”), and thus the challenge is to find new ways to phrase concepts that are both accurate and succinct.

So, the next time you find yourself slipping into a buzzword fugue state, take a cleansing breath and try to bring a little more awareness and mindfulness into how you communicate – hopefully you’ll find a new way of breaking through an already noisy world.

 

Why Brands Should Consider Being Woke

Of late, brands have woken from their corporate slumber to take stances on socio-political issues. Diversity, racial and gender inequality, LGBT rights are just a few of the issues which companies have been addressing and incorporating into their brand—from marketing campaigns to core business values and beliefs.

Leading this politically aware pack is rebellion’s poster child Nike, which succeeded in raising eyebrows doing what other sports brands wouldn’t dare to do–courting the controversial Colin Kaepernick in its latest ad campaign. Nike is not alone in receiving heat for its marketing campaigns. Citibank became the first Wall Street Bank to restrict firearms sales by its business customers – a move both lauded and criticised by people on either sides of the gun control debate.

Enter purpose-driven brands, the latest entities to dominate today’s saturated, hyper-politicised media landscape. While maintaining an opinion used to be a right enjoyed solely by humans, the companies of the 21st century bear little resemblance to their corporate cousins from the previous century. Today, companies who fight the good fight resemble a sentient humanoid with well-rounded, coherent, and informed views on sensitive socio-political issues.

By right, the phenomenon of corporations being politically aware is not new — there have always been some who considered activism to be as important as their bottom-lines, if not more. In the Eighties, ice-cream company Ben and Jerry’s went against the grain by extending health benefits to same-sex couples–almost unprecedented in a time when homosexuality was deemed unnatural. The Body Shop’s Anita Roddick dedicated her entire life to being a vocal advocate for animal rights and environmental causes also while also managing a multi-million-dollar skincare and beauty business.

When firms assume positions on sensitive issues, they transcend their status as capitalist entities and resemble full-fledged humans. In short, by espousing the views of their consumer base they become just like the person they serve, or hope to serve.

Of course, brands with a global reach are likely to have a customer base diverse in thought and belief. Choosing a side in any hotly-debated political topic means alienating some customers on the socio-political spectrum–but also winning the endorsement of several others.

Down with the Youth

Many young people of today no longer view corporations (or capitalism, for that matter) as a positive force. Social media has made it much easier to document and scrutinise in detail the shortcomings of corporate entities. As millennials are one of the biggest consumers of online content, they have no difficulty in accessing vast amounts of information about the companies they patronise. More and more youngsters are taking time to educate themselves on critical socio-political and economic topics, and expect the same from the entities providing them with goods and services.

There is plenty of research to suggest that more young people resonate strongly with “woke” brands than other generations. Gen-Zs are a force to be reckoned with and command considerable financial influence. As a result, companies must work harder to retain relevance with those aged 16-35–and not just perform lip service in the form of rainbow filters and themed merchandise. Levi’s, American Eagle, and Converse are examples of companies who talk the talk and walk the walk–in addition to selling LGBT merchandise, they work with and donate to several organisations which support marginalised communities. Conversely, several consumers have boycotted fast food chain Chick-Fil-A, which reiterated its stance against gay marriage.

Look Beyond Yourself

The relationships brands share with consumers can no longer simply be transactional. Nowadays, people make informed choices regarding products, taking into account not only their own selves but also the wider ecosystem. For instance, consumers are turning to “ethically/responsibly sourced” or “cruelty-free/vegan” products (clothes, food, make-up) which are not environmentally detrimental. When a company goes out of its way to do good, it usually wins the unwavering support of loyal consumers.

If the corporations they patronise do not share their value system or do not make good on their promises, consumers will simply find another company whose actions resonate with their belief system. Consumers in the 21st century seek affirmation through the products and services they consume, and consider factors such as sustainability, inclusivity, and quality to be an integral part of their purchase and consumption journey. Urban Decay Cosmetics, Fenty Beauty, Patagonia and H&M are companies which put sustainability and inclusivity at the core of their businesses.

Court Quality Employees

The implications of a socially conscious brand extend not only to consumers, but also to employees. More millennials and Gen Z-ers are gravitating towards companies whose political stances and actions echo their own. Employees are likely to be happier and more productive in a socially-conscious firm. As an employer, if attracting the next generation of talented changemakers is a priority, then it’s time to start speaking to them in a language they understand.

Of course, purpose-driven brands are not without their naysayers. People proclaim that by latching themselves onto pressing issues, companies are distracting the gullible from considering their “dark deeds”. Keen observers of pop culture have been quick to point how the patterns of brands suddenly becoming social justice warriors is nothing more than late-stage capitalism — a ploy where companies use emotionally-charged marketing tactics to get tongues wagging, generating traction for themselves. In the case of a sports brand whose hard-hitting rebranding campaign proved to be highly profitable, netizens brought to light its unethical and inhumane business practices in foreign countries.

Picking a side is a risky move, both socially and financially. While established companies can weather consumer boycotts and other controversies, smaller firms struggling to establish themselves might not fare so well–unless they have very clearly defined goals and visions from the get-go.

Brands who wish to embrace a meaningful cause in addition to their business endeavours must be consistent in their efforts. For instance, a brand which champions gender equality while underpaying its female employees is clearly faking its wokeness to exploit the emotions of liberal youth. Its cause of choice must be relevant to the history or culture of the brand–if not, its efforts will appear to be shoehorned in and insincere.

Need help crafting an assertive voice? Talk to us at hello@mutant.com.sg

3 PR Lessons We Can Learn from Bey And Jay

Recently, Beyoncé and Jay-Z dropped their first fully collaborative album, The Carters. Critics and fans alike immediately embraced the tracks and hailed the LP as a celebration of Black art, excellence and legacy.

Over the years, the Carters have managed to exert an ironclad control over their public image despite their humongous stature. The four-pronged strategy of largely staying clear of public squabbles and scandals, carefully curating their social media feeds, rarely giving interviews and not hyping their new projects before they’re released has only deepened the mystery surrounding hip hop’s foremost family. This decision is no accident – the couple is notoriously private and this strategy has infused intrigue into their reputation. Because they are rarely in the public eye, when they do pop up, it seems that the whole world sits up and takes notice of them.

From a business perspective, this type of PR strategy seems impossible to implement. But there are some lessons that can be gleaned – here’s what we can learn from the Carters:

Controlling the Narrative

When rumours of trouble in the couple’s marital paradise broke out in 2013, neither party added fuel to the fire. Unlike other celebrity couples who rush to give a statement when their relationships hit rock bottom, the Carters remained mum on the state of their marriage. They addressed the hearsay when Beyoncé released Lemonade in 2016, an entire album peppered with lyrics and visuals that suggested the possibility of marital strain. The endless speculations that ensued proved to be massively profitable for both Jay-Z and Beyoncé.

While controlling the narrative should be a basic skill for any company’s PR team, in this age of hyperconnectivity and non-stop streaming, firms will find themselves with a very small window of time to prevent crisis situations from becoming communications disasters. Whether it’s appeasing a crowd bent on obtaining answers or addressing unsavoury gossip, it’s imperative to weave a story that sets the tone for all future conversations surrounding the topic at hand. That way, your narrative will drown out all other chatter.

A Well-Oiled Social Media Machine

Both Beyoncé and Jay-Z are known to shun traditional PR paths when announcing new content. For albums Beyoncé and Lemonade, Beyoncé decided to bypass mainstream media outlets and release the albums digitally via an announcement that came from her own account. By doing this, she broke the fourth wall and gave the content directly to her fans via social media. The result? Unprecedented success for both albums. For Lemonade specifically, the release of the album was timed at a juncture when social media was rife with conversations surrounding racial tensions and feminism, and the album’s messages on both topics seemed especially poignant. The couple also demonstrates a deep understanding of curated visuals in today’s social media landscape, as reflected in the multiple music videos of Lemonade and Jay-Z’s 4:44.

It’s no secret that combining social media and highly creative visuals is a winning combination. But to ensure the success of your client’s products upon launch, you must leverage social media to reach your target audience. Follow up with a steady stream of high-quality visual content that’s shareable, accessible and most importantly, relevant.

Authenticity

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a recent Beyoncé or Jay-Z interview. Instead of relying on the media, or even social media, to give fans an inside look at their lives, both Bey and Jay prefer to pour little details of their life into their music. Beyoncé’s mastery of social media is impressive – she occasionally posts rare snapshots from her day-to-day life, puts time and effort into creating a spectacle when announcing milestones and hardly ever adds captions or hashtags, letting the images speak for themselves. As a result, fans interpret and discuss the images, and are left wanting more.

Audiences are smart and can easily discern an inauthentic brand. So cut through the clutter by staying true to your brand’s core values and identity; be honest and daring, let your voice ring true in all your communications and never be afraid to weigh in on issues that are pertinent to your business.

Though you may encounter 99 problems, PR should never be one. A good PR strategy is irreplaceable – so why not invest time and energy in creating a fail-proof communications game plan? Reach out to us if you’re in the dark about how to get started.

Need help crafting the ideal PR strategy? Drop us a message at hello@mutant.com.sg

(Cover photo source: Pinterest)

Tips on using PR to build a brand for small businesses

For most small businesses with limited resources, public relations tend to be overlooked as a viable business strategy.. However, an effective public relations strategy can be incredibly valuable. In many cases, it is a cost effective way of getting your brand out there and building a strong reputation without the expensive cost of traditional advertising.

So, if you run a small business, consider these tips  to get the right kind of attention your brand needs – all without breaking the bank:

Find the right people

Journalists are constantly getting emails with story pitches that don’t often relate to their beat. To cut through the clutter, make sure what you are sending their way is relevant to their publication, and what they cover.

Do your research to find out who you should be targeting, and spend time understanding their publication. Reading what journalists are currently tracking and covering is a good starting point in building a media list. Remember, journalists who are already interested in the space you’re in are more likely to publish what you have to say.

Know what the media needs

Sure, your story is important to you, but is it newsworthy? The key to a well-written press release is not imbuing it with flowery language; it’s nailing down a compelling news angle and getting straight to the point. Journalists are often on the go just like you, so go with a punchy headline to grab the journalist’s attention, and keep it short and sweet.

Strike while the iron is hot

Sometimes, tying your announcement in with a timely moment can help give it an extra boost through that connection. If you’re launching a new product, do a bit of research to find out if there are any upcoming events, occasions or even trending topics that are relevant to your product. Use a recent trending topic that is linked directly to features of your business or business model. For instance, McDonalds struck gold with their nasi lemak-inspired burger by launching it ahead of Singapore’s 50th National Service anniversary. A clever spin on a classic dish, the burger was a massive hit thanks to its local appeal and opportune release date.  Connecting the two can enable you to tap on that trending issue.

Communicate your expertise

Even as a small business owner, you are still an authority in your field. Communicate that expertise by positioning yourself as an expert in the industry, and build yourself up as a thought leader with a story to tell the media. There’s always a story to tell, you’ve just got to find the right angle to communicate it. The key here is to step out of living and breathing your product. Showing thought leadership requires you to go beyond just how amazing your product is. You will have to demonstrate your understanding on the issues faced by your target audience and how you can solve them.

Make it visual

In today’s multiscreen world, people respond well to visuals. If you’re pitching a story involving data and numbers, putting them into one neat infographic can bring your story to life. You will be surprised at how much a good image can enhance your press release or media kit. It is definitely worth the investment to have a professional come in to take pictures of your products and spokespeople.

Getting your brand off the ground when you’re running a lean operation may be a daunting task, but when done right, an effective PR campaign tailored to the needs of your small business can do wonders – even with limited resources.

Need a helping hand on getting your brand and voice out there? Reach out to 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

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

 

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

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 

Google and Facebook are changing the game for PR

It’s hard to imagine doing PR in a world without Google and Facebook. Headlines have to be snappy and featured photos must be ‘thumb-stop worthy’, while the copy needs strategically chosen keywords to rank higher on search. Most importantly, editors are always looking for a new tech PR story to keep their sites timely with engaging content.

Here’s a quick overview of how PR is changing in 2017 – the year Google and Facebook took 20% of global ad revenues:

Competitiveness among publications

The only constant in the world of news has always been change, as websites and magazines are battling for the reader’s attention. Traditional hard news is in decline, while soft news pulls people in with bite-sized content, punchy headlines and provocative images. The difference in 2017 is the algorithm, which now cares about how much time readers spend on a page. The more and the longer readers stay, the higher the page will get ranked on search. As a result, publishers are now looking for meatier content that is still highly engaging.

The upside is that good content is being rewarded more. The downside is that there will be even more content for the reader and the media space becomes even more competitive. We need to create even more and better content, as otherwise, editors will shoot it down faster than a North Korean missile is trying to fly across the Pacific.

PR measurement

For many years now, PR has been moving from a nebulous, immeasurable territory to something that needs to be justified to the management. Gone are the days of archaic metrics like AVE (advertising value equivalent). As publications and journalists are now sharing their stories across traceable social media channels, campaign measurement is no longer estimated by just pickups. Everything can be measured in comments, shares and likes.

Crisis prevention

A scandal or a spokesperson’s misjudgement can spread like wildfire. Just remember how Kellyanne Conway’s ‘alternative facts’ created an outcry around the world. The real-time nature of social media makes a capable PR team a necessity. The only thing better than a curing the crisis is prevention. A brand’s sentiment is subject to many factors outside their business, but good PR is still key to maintaining timely, appropriate and on-brand responses.

The speed of the news

Facebook’s feed is real-time and Google updates take mere seconds. If something catches fire, the whole forest burns. The difference now is that search and social will quickly blow a trending topic. The recent WannaCrypt incidence, for example, was instantly trending, generating four million search results in a few days. Once a topic is hot, everybody wants a piece of it. Jumping into the media cycle, there’s a higher chance content will be searched for and appear in Google’s Trending Topics sections or will trend on Facebook. As news outlets want to break more hot stories, brands have a chance to create tremendous traction.

Following up to maintain engagement, building towards the next campaign and measuring the results are always key. But given the trend towards shorter, softer and more timely stories, PR needs to change with the way the news move. It’s no longer about getting into a mainstream newspaper and giving yourself a pat on the back.

Need help with your PR campaign? Drop us a message at hello@mutant.com.sg