Monday, December 6, 2010

Rolling Stone breaks into Middle East

With the launch of Rolling Stone magazine into the Middle East, the BBC covers the story and adds some interesting overview of the Middle East media landscape...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Killer messaging for public relations

Following an outline written in Overpromise and Overdeliver, by Rick Barrera, NettResults uses the following questions to clearly define our client’s brand promise, and thus the message for the public relations we work on.

A winning overpromise — whether it’s brand-new or a rejuvenated version of a previous promise — isn’t born of a sudden flash of inspiration. If it is to truly differentiate you, it must be built piece by piece. Attention must be paid not only to the intricacies of products and services, manufacturing and marketing, but to all the constituencies that must be on board to achieve a break-through. That means current and potential customers, employees, shareholders, distributors and suppliers. After all, you will have to live with the overpromise for some time; align all TouchPoints with it; arrange the entire organization around it; and overdeliver on it. All stakeholders whose suggestions and support have an impact on your company’s success must be part of the conversation.

To begin the journey to a complete understanding of your existing brand promise, consider the questions that follow:

What is the essence of your business? Why was the company started? What was the founder’s vision? What did he or she plan to do better than anyone else? Are you fulfilling that vision now?
This first line of questioning is a way to get the coordinates, to zero in on the real reason so much of your life is being devoted to making the organization you work for work.

What are your brand’s most important attributes? What do customers think of when they hear your company’s name?
Customers’ attitudes have been influenced by word of mouth, by advertising and public relations, by their feelings toward the store where they bought the product or perhaps by a conversation with customer service personnel.

Why do customers buy your product or service? Why don’t they buy your competitor’s product or service?

Asking customers why they buy from you can help to identify the kinds of people who are best served by your product or service. Chances are, they won’t be the ones that were in mind when the brand promise was created.

Why don’t non-customers buy your product or service? Why do they buy your competitor’s?
Learning that some aspect of an overpromise, or of its supporting products and processes, is driving away a substantial number of potential customers should inspire some serious repair work.

What emotions do customers feel when they buy and use your product?

Pottery Barn’s overpromise is more laden with emotion than most because it sells products for the home, a place that people care about deeply. Pottery Barn’s overpromise acknowledges that furnishing and decorating a home can be stressful by presenting the company as a kind of home decorating mentor.

If your brand was a person, how would you describe him or her? In the same vein, how would you describe each of your competitors?
Think about the market in which you sell and your target customers.

How do your employees perceive your brand?
Nothing is more important to a company’s success than convincing employees to invest more rather than less, because what you are after is their discretionary efforts on behalf of your brand.

Putting It All Together
Here are the questions you really want the answers to:
What is your reputation?
What are you known for?
What one thing about your company most matters to customers?

Then build your overpromise around it.

If you don’t like the answers to these questions, you’ll need to think deeply about what you want to be known for in the future and how your overpromise will articulate that clearly to customers and potential customers. You’ll then be able to tackle the work of realigning each of your TouchPoints to overdeliver on your overpromise.

If you need to work on your message and your brand promise, then call us today.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

25 Essential PR Bloggers You Should Be Reading

Many thanks for our friends at PRweb who have produced an excellent list of the top 25 blogs that PR pros should be reading.

As they say, keeping up with what’s new and interesting in public relations news is important. While a lot of the list are SM heavy, our personal favorite is Journalistics. If you just start following one new blog this month make it Journalistics.

You can view the whole list here.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Get your Mojo on with PR

In Mojo - How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back If You Lose It (by Marshall Goldsmith with Mark Reiter, 2010, ISBN-13: 978-1401323271) the authors explain exactly what Mojo is (and we though it was not definable). Mojo comes from the moment we do something that is purposeful, powerful and positive, and the rest of the world recognizes it. Mojo is about that moment and how we can create it in our lives, maintain it and recapture it when we need it.

They go on to explain, how our professional and personal Mojo is impacted by four key factors and the questions they ask: identity (Who do you think you are?), achievement (What have you done lately?), reputation, (Who do other people think you are — and what have you done lately?) and acceptance (What can you change — and when do you need to just “let it go”?).

And hence the most obvious segue into public relations. Every corporate client we are work with need to look at:
* What is the company?
* What has the company done lately?
* What do other people (customers, fans, voters, staff, competitors etc) think of the company?
* And, ultimately, when reviewing the media around that organization, what do you need to accept and when do you need to call the crisis communications team in.

De facto, Mojo = PR.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

10 Tips on Arabic Culture For Successful Business in the Middle East

For executives who are looking to build business in the Middle East or professionals looking to move their career or job search to the Arab World, this video gives you a simple overview of Arabic Business Culture in 4 minutes.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Media Training 101

Why should you have media training?
What will it take to be a successful spokesperson?

All you need to know about media training in under 2 minutes...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

10 Reasons to Fire the Client

I've wanted to write this article for a long time, but of course didn't want to offend any previous client. Now, thanks to The Bad Pitch Blog, I don't need to. A big thank you to Richard Laermer for listing the ten reasons:

10 - You don't trust them as far as you can throw them!
9 - Everything they demand is in direct contrast to what you know to be right.
8 - Client company is on its way down.
7 - You keep sitting in on meetings with them that are at once pointless and breathless.
6 - You get the creeps when an email from this client crosses your in-box.

5 - You dread their responses to your questions because you know, once again, they aren’t paying attention to you but instead, are following their own agenda.
4 - Getting their bill paid is tougher than the toffee at carnivals.
3 - The client keeps making you think about going into a new profession.

2 - You daydream about working with their competitor(s).

1 - The person paying you is sure that everything they do is fantastic, despite having no notion of what fantastic is. And no vision whatsoever.

Read the full article here.

And if you have more to add, we'd love to hear about them.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Five changes in journalism and what that means to the way smart PR agencies are working

Thanks to our friends at Burrelles Luce for putting the journo insight together. We couldn't agree more... in fact we believe that any good public relations agency worth their salt is changing the way they are working.

1. Long is now shorter. Rand Morrison commented that "Long is shorter than it used to be," at the Bulldog Reporter 2010 Media Relations Summit.

NettResults Takeaway & How Smart PR Agencies are Adapting: Be succinct. Understand your message and be able to share it in a compelling manner with a few key bullet points.

2. Slow is now faster. Stories break on Twitter live as events unfold. Getting a story right is challenged by an increase pressure to get it out.

NettResults Takeaway & How Smart PR Agencies are Adapting: Anticipate journalists' needs and serve as a valuable resource. Maintain an accurate, up-to-date, and comprehensive online newsroom or press center. A quick responses and immediate follow up is essential.

3. There is a need to be more resourceful with resources. Cuts in newsroom operations means that journalists are working longer hours, with heavier workloads and a heightened sense of concern regarding job security.

NettResults Takeaway & How Smart PR Agencies are Adapting: Passing along tips and information that will benefit the journalist (publication and readers), whether or not it is for a specific client, will be appreciated and help to build a strong relationship. Likewise, those who are able to help journalists save time by bringing together multiple resources have a distinct advantage.

4. The brand of a journalist is not always limited to the publication. Many journalists now have Twitter handles, Facebook pages, and personal blogs.

NettResults Takeaway & How Smart PR Agencies are Adapting: There are now numerous opportunities to listen, engage, and build stronger relationships with influential journalists.

5. Competition is more competitive. Social media has also increased the challenge of being the first to break a story or add a new and unique angle.

NettResults Takeaway & How Smart PR Agencies are Adapting: Exclusives are more valuable than ever. When you can't offer an exclusive, consider whether you have a special angle or resource to pitch. What value can you offer the journalist to help him or her provide unique value to readers?

What changes in journalism do you think are shaping killer PR?

Monday, July 12, 2010

How to - crisis communications - watch the video

Interview from last week aired by EO TV (Entrepreneurs' Organization)

Or link here

There is no such thing as bad publicity...

...except your own obituary - according to the Irish author & dramatist Brendan Behan.

It might seem contradictory that any kind of success might follow from scandal: but scandal attracts attention, and this attention (whether gossip or bad press or any other kind) is sometimes the beginning of notoriety and/or other successes. Today, the often-used cynical phrase "no such thing as bad publicity" is indicative of the extent to which "success by scandal" is a part of modern culture.

BP used to be British Petroleum. Then it reinvented itself as Beyond Petroleum, extending the enterprise beyond black gold and becoming a major investor in new energy technologies.

All that counts for little now that the full extent of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe is becoming clear. BP is now the acronym for Bad Publicity.

No doubt, like in many crisis situations, within the first few frightening hours, BP's lawyers and public relations teams presented to BP's board their views on how the company should respond. It's clear that the lawyers won. "Shift the blame onto someone else." And that is indeed what BP did in the immediate aftermath of the story breaking. BP blamed their contractors.

So, the continued interest/disgust in BP, their actions and their disaster-prone crisis communications begs the question, when does bad publicity become detrimental?

The cost so far:
* BP has agreed to create a $20 billion fund to compensate those affected
* An alleged $50 million on a television advertising campaign
* About $1 billion off their brand value according to some studies
* More than $100 billion in market value
* Stock is worth less than half the $60 or so it was selling for on the day of the explosion
* Oh, and who knows what on-the ground cleanup and PR support is costing?

Three years after the cleanup operation has completed its work - what will be the perception of BP?

When will BP (or will it ever) break even from the costs occurred and the missed opportunity cost? We will probably never know.

Maybe there is such a thing as bad publicity or at least a cost for bad publicity.

How do you value bad publicity?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

7 Tips for Tony Hayward to Survive the BP Oil Spill Congressional Hearing

If Tony Hayward, the CEO of BP, and ultimate person responsible for the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf wants to survive the present Congressional panel (heckler disruptions aside), he needs to not only get his message straight, but also get the delivery correct. Just like in any crisis communications situation he needs to work on:

1. Credibility – so that the panel has confidence in the message and believes in him.

2. Appropriate context – for the panel and ultimately the population of the US.

3. Right content – which is appropriate for the population of the US (and no doubt the viewers of the countless other international media following this event).

4. Clarity – so that the message is unequivocal.

5. Continuity – with previous and proposed BP marketing activity.

6. Simplicity – so that the message cannot be misunderstood or misinterpret.

7. Impact – so the media cover the story from BP's angle.

We also know from previous news reports that Mr Hayward is not a night owl (OK, I get he needs to be up early to do business back in Blighty). If I was him, I'd be spending a lot of long evenings anticipating what the panel (and journalist) are likely to ask and prepare my response and messaging in reply. I'd be spending my time exactly how a crisis communications spokes person should be preparing:

Anticipate – Prepare – Rehearse
Anticipate – Prepare – Rehearse
Anticipate – Prepare – Rehearse

While Tony may be one of the most hated people in America (has anyone run him head-to-head with Joran Van der Sloot?) if BP can get their crisis communications right, they could emerge a stronger and more profitable company.

What do you think?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

5 Crisis Communication Keys for Smaller Businesses Learnt from the BP Oil Spill 2010

Yes, there is a lot we can learn from the recent BP Oil Spill and the Crisis Communications they have implemented, but for the small (er) company there are five simple foundations to keep in mind:

1 - crisis happens to businesses big and small - and don't think it'll be a calamity (such as a plane crash) - far less serious events lead to a crisis

2 - a crisis is not always your own doing - sometimes you get there due to activities outside of your company, from third parties or just bad luck

3 - speed is vital in a crisis - if you can't act quickly you create a 'media vacuum' that someone will fill - and it won't be pretty

4 - preparation - knowing what your message will be, who will say it and how it will be delivered, is the key to success. A proactive crisis communication plan and media training are not expensive - you can do it yourself or in today's market, ask a local PR agency to help you out - it'll cost little more than a couple of days of consultancy

5 - practice makes perfect - if you practice, or are experienced in dealing with the media, it will be a lot easier when there is a crisis. Getting media trained before a crisis is a vital investment.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

10 Secrets to Killer Copy

Whether writing for PR or for business the universal truths we use when writing professional PR copy can be applied to emails, letters, business proposals, speeches and pretty much any written word in business.

We all want writing that’s compelling, interesting, and unique. We need writing that’s magnetic. In short – killer copy. Luckily a few simple techniques can make any piece of writing more compelling.

Here are NettResults’ top ten ways to help you write copy that draws the reader closer:

1. Don’t hedge
“Hedging” is when you go out of your way to cover every contingency in an argument. Example: “Nowadays almost all tech-adapt travelers have at least some sort if electronic book reader.” The hedges are “almost all” and “at least some sort.” These may be strictly true, but it’s soft, flabby wording that lacks impact. Instead: “Tech-adapt travelers love electronic book readers.”

2. Repeat a phrase

Repetition establishes structure and rhythm. Repetition taps into the part of our brain that loves rhyme and meter. Repetition pulls the reader into the flow of your writing. Repetition isn’t difficult to use. Repetition is annoying if overused.

3. No passive voice

Passive voice is when you switch the positions of the subject and object of a sentence. For example: “The man hit the computer” is in active voice; passive voice is: “The computer was hit by the man.” Notice how passive voice uses more words without adding information — usually a warning sign of flabby writing.

The wrongness of passive voice isn’t universal, but wouldn’t it have been killer if I had said that passive voice isn’t always wrong?

4. Brevity!

I don’t care how good your writing is, most people won’t read more than a few sentences. Today’s society affiliates with 140 characters. The best policy is to just write less.

5. Use short sentences

Short sentences are easy to read. They’re easy to digest. It’s easier to follow each point of an argument. Sometimes longer sentences — especially if divided up with dashes — are an appropriate tool, especially mixed in with shorter sentences to break things up. If you think short sentences are incompatible with excellent writing, read Stephen King. Or Hemingway.
6. Provoke, don’t solve

If you’re writing a report that is supposed to cover all the bases, this tip doesn’t apply. But if you’re trying to be persuasive, don’t try to handle every objection in one sitting. Your goal is to get the other person to respond: To ask you about a feature of your product, to challenge your assumptions about a competitor. Don’t solve every problem, leaving no stone unturned; leave them wanting more.

7. Eliminate trash adjectives

Most adjectives and adverbs don’t add information; they just take up space and dull your message. Example: “I’m very interested in quickly assessing all suitable software options.” Remove the adjectives and you get the same message, but sharper: “I’m interested in assessing all software.”

8. Be direct

Pardon me, dear reader, but if it wouldn’t be too much of an inconvenience, could I trouble you to do me the favor of applying your obvious considerable facility with the English language to just get to the damn point?

Flowery, respectful and qualified wording is appropriate when you’re asking a waiter to do you a favor without spitting in your food. But it has no place in killer copy.

9. Tell a story

I knew a girl named Sophie who couldn’t figure out why people couldn’t understand the benefits of her software. She had feature and benefit bullet points but they just weren’t sinking in. One day Sophie changed her tactics completely. She wrote up a one-paragraph story about how one of her customers saved $125k by using her software. After that, sales were a lot easier.

10. Write informally

Sure, informal writing isn’t “professional.” And yeah, using phrases like and yeah violates the brevity rule. But it’s usually smart to write like you talk. Being informal helps you come off as a real person.

‘course, it can git to be too durned much, s’don’t go ’round makin’ it hard to just plain understand what in blazes yur talking ’bout.

They say first impressions are most important, and often your written word will be the first impression someone has of you! So take the time and care to make it killer copy.

Do you have any suggestions?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Journalists’ Top Five PR Pet Peeves, and How to Avoid Them

A new white paper out today by Cision has a simple but powerful message for PR professionals.

There are the generic top 5 peeves that all journalists around the globe seem to have:
(1) Sending generic mass email blasts to journalists;
(2) Ignoring what the journalists or outlets actually cover;
(3) Making unnecessary follow-up phone calls;
(4) Pitching identical stories to competing outlets; and
(5) Not taking “no” for an answer.

Getting over these are relatively simple...

1. Keep it personal
Know the person you’re talking to. Research your target contacts in advance and personalize your communication. Never send a mass e-mail with zero familiarity about the recipient. Journalists who take emailed story ideas want proposals tailored to
them personally. Nothing is more impressive than proving you know someone’s history; at the same time, nothing is less impressive than sending out a blanket press release with no introduction.

2. Know what people cover
Nothing annoys a journalist more than receiving a pitch that clearly demonstrates no knowledge of his or her coverage area. Do your homework, offer interesting information that is relevant to the stories that journalist is working on, and you are more likely to be rewarded with a return call.

3. Be helpful – not a pest
Don’t follow up an email with a phone call. With many journalists’ inboxes overflowing with week-old, unread messages, they commonly complain about being “badgered” by multiple phone calls shortly after getting an email. The best rule of thumb is: If you hear back from a reporter, editor or blogger, he or she is interested; if not, move

4. Be transparent about story exclusivity
Don’t pitch an exclusive story idea to multiple competitors. Let a contact know whether you’re proposing an exclusive story or if the story is being shopped around to various contacts. It’s a good way to maintain transparency and spark interest. Journalists are competitive and a story is more likely to get traction if a journalist knows it’s a scoop.

5. Develop a thick skin if your proposal is rejected or ignored
Not every pitch will get used, but journalists often keep valuable PR contacts on file. Remember that developing a relationship with a reporter, editor or blogger is the best way to score coverage, and it usually takes time to develop these relationships and build trust.

So simple, but still ignored every day.

Do we agree at NettResults with the above points? Mostly...

It is all about relationships. There is no doubt about that. But the "don't call after an email or you'll be a pest"? If you have a good relationship with the media, and call a journalist you know well for a number of things (not just to follow up with a 'did you get my email') then the fine line of 'pest' turns into a 'friendly chat' - and who doesn't like a friendly chat?

Of course the alternative is to just do everything on email and never call a journalist. But how does that develop a relationship?

Note to any client - if you walk into your PR agency and it sounds like the Mary Celeste with perhaps only the sound of finger hitting keyboard, you need to check the validity of your agency's media contacts.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

10 steps to creating a winning PR plan

Coordination and specifics throughout are essential for crafting a winning campaign

Creating a public relations plan takes time, knowledge, and understanding of your company’s or client’s needs and wants. Here are some steps to ensure you capture those elements in the plan-creation process and that you create a relevant and useful plan for your company or client.

1. Know your company's or client's current situation. This is essential to knowing where the company stands, where the company is able to go, what the company's market/industry looks like, and what direction the company is headed. It puts things in perspective.

2. Know your resources. This can be a part of the first step, as it is a part of the situational analysis needed to understand where your company or client stands. This can help you better build your tactics and strategies while considering budget, time, and other resource limitations.

3. Know your objectives and goals. Also essential to the PR plan’s success, you must know where the company hopes to go. Like driving with no directions, a PR plan with no goals or objectives is an aimless action with no knowledge of what could come, or even what results are desired. Be sure that the PR plan's goals are in line with the rest of the company's overall objectives, and ensure that they are clear to all involved.

4. Know and define your target audience(s). This means that you've defined your target buyer audiences and target media audiences. Each audience will need a different message and a different approach. Knowing these audiences will help you to frame your strategies and tactics so you can reach them effectively.

5. List messages and strategies you will use to reach your target audiences. These should be in line with your stated goals and objectives; if not, the plan is off to a bad start. Know that your strategies and messages also must relate to one another; otherwise, you need to address the disconnect.

6. Define the tactics you will use to effect the strategies you've listed. If, for example, a strategy is to enhance a company's brand awareness, tactics could include community outreach, social media use, press conferences, etc. You must define your strategy before addressing your tactics and assigning them to a message.

7. Create a timeline for implementation. This needs to be realistic but challenging. Remember that there should be no lapses in the PR plan as press releases are being sent out, events are taking place, or media are being engaged. There needs to be constant reminder to the public that the company is alive and well, which can be done with a continuous flow of information.

8. Delegate obligations and responsibilities to your team or your client's team to ensure all parts of the PR plan are completed. This helps to ensure that all are on board and know their responsibilities and duties. This is crucial to bringing the PR plan to fruition. This step should be done with everyone involved, so no one feels overburdened or left out. This involvement in the plan’s creation gives everyone a feeling of responsibility for its success.

9. Create measurements of results/success. To know if your plan is effective, create measurements and benchmarks for the tactics you implement. This is a place for the PR team to gauge the success of the plan and to see whether the goals were realistic. Creating measurements can also show what could have been done with the expertise and estimations of a PR firm or team.

10. Review the plan after implementation and conclusion of the plan. This is the time when all who helped to create and carry out the plan can share their thoughts on what went well, what didn't, and what can be done differently in the future. This helps ensure that future plans have a chance of being successful. It also encourages group members to work for the company's success by giving everyone a chance to talk and to contribute to the next plan.

The key thing to remember when creating a PR plan is that every plan is going to be unique and different for each company, and even within the same company, they will be different for each plan objective. Do your homework before creating a plan, and be sure that you work closely with the company or client to make the plan a success.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Mind the Gap

I came across this interesting take on the 'information gap' interpreted by Jeff Monday.

When we come across something new that is not explained by our previous knowledge or experiences, an information gap is formed. If you are a communicator, understanding how to use this gap will have great rewards. Next time you have to develop company's messaging think about it!

What do you think?