Top tips for graduates trying to get into PR

image

Leaving university can be frightening; the world you have
grown accustomed to for the last few years no longer exists and you are faced
with the very real task of finding a job in a market where candidates typically
outnumber open positions. If you are a graduate on the search for your first
job and are interested in getting into the world of public relations, here are
our five top tips to help you get your foot in the door:

1. Know what is going on – it is essential in PR to be up to date with trade,
regional and national news particularly in the sector you are hoping to work in.
Demonstrating up to date knowledge on digital and social media trends that are affecting
a client’s industry sector will set you apart from other candidates.

 2. Network
communicating is the pillar of PR so it is essential that you are comfortable
talking to people. Networking at events and online is a key skill that you need
to learn and hone in order to show yourself and the company you are working for
in the best light. Digital networking will enhance your presence in the
industry; joining relevant groups on LinkedIn and getting involved in
discussions will help you make connections with appropriate people.

3. Research
before showing up for an interview make sure you have done your research. Often
you will be asked to discuss a favourite PR campaign or stunt and it is
important you have one picked out so you can explain why you feel it was
successful.

4. Work experience
– getting as much industry experience as possible will work in your favour when
looking for a full time position. During your placements you will have been
given the opportunity to draft press releases, gain an understanding of the
day-to-day running of a  press office and
the organisational skills necessary to be successful in this industry. Any work
experience will be a great learning curve and a fantastic opportunity for you
to polish your skills in researching and writing.

5. Build a portfolio
– having a portfolio is a great way of showcasing what you can do, whether it’s
working on your own or as part of a team. Employers are looking for individuals
who are going to deliver results for their clients. Choose case studies that
are relevant to the sector you want to get into, and successful campaigns you
have been involved in that have achieved a spread of coverage in broadcast,
print and online media, and be prepared to talk about how their success was
measured.  

Recently at Conscious Communications…

Here is a little taste of what we have been up to during the past month…

Marshal Papworth on
Countryfile

We love arranging
great coverage for our clients.  At the
beginning of July, we worked with BBC Countryfile to showcase the great work of
the Marshal Papworth Fund in building knowledge and skills in sustainable
agriculture in developing countries. If you missed the students, look for them
on iPlayer (episode available until the beginning of August) or become a Friend
here.

Cambridge Science
Centre – Cosmic exhibition

This month we have been getting creative with
Cambridge Science Centre to help promote its brand new exhibition, Cosmic,
launching on 23rd July.  To
celebrate the launch of the new exhibition, we have invited press and VIPs to
witness the world’s first attempt to rocket power a punt down the River Cam fuelled
with nothing more than Fitzbillies’ buns – the most potent rocket fuel known to
Cambridge! We have been busy out and about filming each of the rocket tests,
the making of the famous Fitzbillies’ Chelsea Bun, and the reaction of the
general public in Cambridge to this world first! 

Calling all
Professors and Industry – Cambridge University Press needs you!

We have been
working with Cambridge University Press to develop Education Digital – a series
of thought leadership articles aimed at an international audience of teachers,
students and their families. With a focus on key subject areas including STEM
subjects, Psychology, Modern Foreign Languages and History, each article will
aim to strengthen the link between education and potential career paths, while
helping to inspire a love of learning.

If you have something
you would like to contribute or if you want to know a little more, please contact
us on 01223 421 831.

Magna Carta: For the Digital Age

image

Monday 15 June saw the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta, a historic document which formed the foundations of democracy, human rights and the supremacy of law for all subsequent centuries, not just for the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, but across the world. Prime Minister, David Cameron, emphasised the relevance of the document to current society, saying: “it falls to us in this generation to restore the reputation of those rights and their critical underpinning of our legal system. It is our duty to safeguard the legacy, the idea, the momentous achievement.” At a time when Mr Cameron is trying to reform current Human Rights laws in response to ‘modern day’ issues, such as terrorism, at Conscious Communications we find ourselves thinking about human rights in relation to the internet.

March of this year marked the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web. Those of us old enough to have seen the advance of the  World Wide Web from the start will have noticed a marked change in ‘acceptable online behaviour’, which to a large extent has been allowed to flourish, unchecked, thanks to a lack of precedent or relevant laws, making the World Wide Web a difficult place to police.

In recognition of the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, the British Library in conjunction with the World Wide Web Foundation, Southbank Centre and British Council has given the public the opportunity to shape a ‘Magna Carta for the Digital Age’; encouraging young people to consider what their Digital Human Rights should be. This is a pertinent question for our modern society, and an important point for young people – who will not have had the chance to experience life before the digital influence – to ponder. School students across the world were invited to create clauses to be added to the Magna Carta for the Digital Age, before the general public voted on which clauses they thought should be included.

Clauses submitted covered issues including whether connectivity is a human right; the importance of freedom of speech and access to information; whether companies can have too much control over how the internet is run; and whether a right to privacy is important in the digital arena. According to the organisers of the Magna Carta for the Digital Age, “the clauses from students are striking: rather than a call for freedom or openness half of the submissions reveal a marked concern about safety and security online”.

Two of the students’ suggested clauses were:

•  The web we want will not let governments restrict our right to information

•  The web we want will be private and not allow the government to see what we do online

Many of the suggested clauses focus on freedom of information while, in stark contrast, others want to prioritise individuals’ privacy online.  So, how do we proceed when the proposed rights oppose each other? It is bound to be difficult to create an exhaustive list of Digital Human Rights which contains no conflicting clauses, especially when the digital arena and associated behaviours are constantly changing at such an alarming rate.

As with the original Magna Carta we expect the Digital Human Rights to be refined on an ongoing basis.

Well done to the British Library et al for raising awareness of the need for these Digital Human Rights, and for publishing a Magna Carta for the Digital Age – setting the conversation off on the right track and encouraging young people to participate.

The top 10 clauses can be seen below, or click here for more information on the selected clauses.

image

Investors In People Awards 2015

image

As you may have previously read in our blog, we were shortlisted for Best Newcomer at the IIP Awards 2015. We had an amazing night, and it was a real honour to be shortlisted from submissions from 77 countries! Many congratulations to The Boxing Academy for its well deserved win! Here are a few highlights:

image
image
image

Social Media: 15 minutes is all you need!

image

We know that social media isn’t right for all
organisations, and certainly not all channels will be right for you, but it is
possible to manage your social media accounts in just 15 minutes a day so it
doesn’t have to be the arduous task that you dread.

But first for some general pointers…

Dos:

  1. Assess and audit which platforms are best
    suited to your business – does Facebook really offer the right target
    demographic for your business?
  2. Plan your time and resources effectively –
    there are many platforms out there which allow you to schedule your posts (e.g.
    Hootsuite and Tweetdeck) so you don’t have to be creating content every day
    when you log in, just monitoring
  3. Try and block out the same 15 minutes each
    day for social media activity – it’s a good lunchtime distraction!

Don’ts:

  1. Don’t just repeat the same sales message
    across multiple channels
  2. Don’t ignore or delete negative comments –
    they require a response and your followers will respect you for being open and
    transparent
  3. Don’t join a social media channel and leave a
    half completed profile for months on end; your potential customers and business
    partners will come across it and draw conclusions from what they find online

Ready,
set, go!

0-5
minutes

Login to your accounts and check your brand mentions – this
is your opportunity to respond to queries or negative comments.

6-10
minutes

Spend this time scanning your social media feeds and if
appropriate like, favourite, retweet and share posts which you think will be of
interest to your followers.

11-15
minutes

Find some great content to post – whether it is your own
company or product news, news from the industry, or something a bit more
light-hearted like a #FunFactFriday. No need to post it straight away; use a
tool to schedule a few throughout the day.

The future is bright, the future is Instagram

image

Instagram is the fastest growing social media platform year on year. With 300 million monthly active users, the app has moved quickly from the trendy iOS-only app, to a huge social network, now also accessible via Android and the internet.

In the last year, socially-astute companies and brands have stepped up their marketing initiatives on Instagram. Brands that are strategically active on Instagram have instant access to a platform to share personality and be creative and, in turn, immerse themselves in their fans’ daily lives. This growing trend of producing innovative imagery and video content has meant that volume of publications and cleverly crafted campaigns posted on the app has grown significantly. 

Last week Ballantine’s published a new magazine about whisky exclusively on Instagram. The cleverly dubbed ‘Insta-zine’ is titled W and you can find the first issue at @w_issueone. It features a mosaic style grid of images that together make up the front page – users can tap on individual posts leading them to different articles.

Could this be the future for magazine publishing?

image

Brands have toyed with the Instagram grid before; one of our favourite examples was last year’s art-directed campaign by Mazda and JWT Canada. However, the fact that users do not typically view the images in the mosaic grid form seen in the above image, but rather as a feed of stand along images, impacts how visually successful these campaigns really are. 

This month will see the first ever book to be published via the app. Jason Sperling’s new book Look At Me When I’m Talking To You, will publish one illustrated page each day for 160 days, starting on 25 June at @lookatmebook. The idea is to reach people where they are already consuming media on a daily basis, rather than try to force them into a different pattern of behaviour – a key point of the book as well.

image

Sperling said: “The Instagram idea was a reactionary thing. I gave the book to several people to read, and after several weeks, no one, not one person, had started to read it…that led to the ‘a-ha’ insight/connection that these days people are ingesting content in small, mobile chunks. So, why can’t a book be built that way?”

Will you be upping your Instagram game?

How the other half live – offline

image

As connectivity becomes more widespread and increasingly faster, many of us are clamouring to secure mobile phone or tablet tariffs which include endless data bundles. Habitually we find ourselves complaining if we stumble in to an area lacking in 4G, or are forced to use a venue which doesn’t offer high speed Wi-Fi.  68 percent of US adults don’t go an hour without checking their smart phones, while 75 percent of millennials are disconnected for only an hour per day.

In highly connected environments advertisers use connectivity to their advantage: displaying a short video clip or image keeps a viewer’s attention; a URL invites the audience to click for further information; buttons for sharing content are featured to ensure content is shared socially with other audience members. All of this activity is intended to encourage the audience to interact with, become more aware of, or purchase from the advertiser’s brand.

Do any of us ever stop and think about the real cost of each megabyte, outside of our inclusive bundles? Probably not… unless you’ve gone over your data allowance for the month, or you’re travelling abroad, at which point you realise how badly you rely on data day to day, and how difficult life becomes when you’re disconnected or rely solely on Wi-Fi.  

Only ten years ago we were largely unconnected, most of the time. We had mobile phones but they weren’t ‘smart’. Our desktop connections were wired. Facebook wasn’t yet an open system. Now, nearly half of the global population is online, with almost a third on social media.

What is life like for the other half of the population, who remain offline?

As well as the debate about the positive or negative social impact of being so connected, of which there are already many articles written, another difference between online and offline cultures is the influence advertisers hold. Brands and online platforms aren’t having the same impact (especially in the same way) in offline environments, and aren’t making as much money as they would like. They are not able to utilise the same practices which are working so well online.

Some are adapting to the different environments, for example Twitter’s acquisition of ZipDial – a mobile phone marketing start up. The popular South Asian practice of ‘missed calls’ is used by marketers to connect with people who are much less likely to visit a website – due to high costs and limited connectivity. By sharing a unique phone number (as opposed to a URL) on print or TV advertising, the call to action is to call the number but hang up before connecting, meaning the ‘enquiry’ is free of charge. The brand can then send out relevant information at no cost to the enquirer.

What are the barriers to connectivity?

The ‘missed call’ solution doesn’t seem to be sufficient for Mark Zuckerberg. The biggest barrier to online brands reaching people in third world countries may come as a surprise to many; it isn’t a lack of infrastructure which is the main hurdle, instead it is the cost of data. Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has announced he is going to bring free internet connection to countries who are currently offline through the internet.org project, which will pave the way for online brands and online platforms to reach the half of the population who are currently (perhaps blissfully) unaware of the extent of marketing they are potentially about to become subjected to.

We look forward to seeing the extent to which Mark Zuckerberg’s initiative changes global connectivity, and the resulting changes to the way we communicate with each other and are marketed to.

Battle of the Marketing mix hierarchy

image

public relations noun

1.   the practice of creating, promoting, or
maintaining goodwill and a favourable image among the public towards an
institution, public body, etc.

marketing noun

1.   the provision of goods or services to meet
customer or consumer needs

Someone
recently said to us “Justin Bieber has a great PR strategy”.  As communications professionals this really jarred us and not just because we’re not Beliebers: a) based on this we have to question
people’s understanding of what PR is and b) we question how any of the situations
that the pop artist (loosely speaking) has been in are based on a public
relations strategy as we know it. Crisis management is key for celebrities
prone to saying the wrong thing but advising Justin Bieber to apologise for
breaking the law isn’t “PR strategy”; it’s common sense and damage limitation.

It isn’t
just PR which has varying forms of definition; the terms PR, marketing and
social media are all bandied around, with one being mistaken to mean the other,
and more frequently being used in the same sentence to mean the same thing – a
total blurring of lines. This was bound to be the case with the rise of digital
PR (combining traditional online PR with content marketing, social media and
search) and new marketing platforms and social media apps popping up every day.

Of course when
analysing this evolution of the PR and marketing disciplines we must take into
account that it is largely driven by the general public’s changing behaviours.
There is an increasing trend for consumers to use social media to find
information (trusting reviews from friends more than an article in a newspaper)
and, thanks to social media, it is increasingly difficult to control a brand’s
message. But where does social media fit into the marketing mix, is it via paid
channels or earned media?

Prudential Financial CCO Bob DeFillippo, now
retired, once said:
“Reputations
are not built through advertising campaigns”. We need to ensure that
opportunities aren’t missed that can only be obtained through earned media – in
explicit terms we can’t solely rely on paid for platforms to disseminate our
messages.  To reach our target audience
we must use our earned media in combination with our paid for platforms and
owned channels; it is still a fact that customers will believe and trust
something they perceive to be editorial far more than an advertisement.  

At
Conscious Communications we take an holistic approach to the marketing mix
formula; we use market knowledge and audience insight to define the most
effective mix of digital and traditional public relations, social media,
digital and traditional marketing and advertising within each client programme,
for influencing perceptions, behaviour, purchasing and consumption patterns.  As strong communicators we are committed to questioning
and challenging what is happening in our industry and how it affects our
clients in order to deliver the most effective balance of PR and marketing.

Your reputation – why it’s important

There is no
doubt that if your company has a strong reputation, you will attract better
people to work for you, your customers will be more trusting and loyal, and you
will be able to charge more for your products and services.  The bottom line is that reputation equates to
‘value’ in the market and can give your company a tangible edge over the
competition.

We have all
seen in recent years how corporate reputations can be shattered and the
subsequent damage to the underlying business – your company may not be a major
corporation but your reputation is still very precious and you fail to protect
it at your peril.

Your
reputation relies on the perceptions of your customers and other stakeholders,
including suppliers, business partners and employees.  In protecting this reputation it is important
to ensure that the reality of your business continues to match these
perceptions as it grows.  It is also
important to understand that as the world around us changes, the views and
demands of our stakeholders will also evolve, and that what your company offers
needs to change too to meet new demands.
A gap between perceptions and reality will lead to disgruntled
stakeholders and a damaged reputation.  

The best approach to reputation management is,
of course, to ensure there’s nothing negative to say and that no one is saying
it – this can be easier said than done.
A good reputation must be earned and once established needs constant
attention.

What
best to do?  Here are our top tips for
building and managing your reputation
:

1.    
Company
mission and values
:
A strong reputation starts with a clear mission and set of values which the
whole company buys into and lives by.  If
you can demonstrate a set of clearly articulated values and know that your
company’s behaviour mirrors these, then you’re well on the way. The things that
will impact your company’s reputation span right across the organisation, from
the way that you answer your phones to external callers, to your credit control
systems, the look and feel of your office, the way that you treat your suppliers.

2.    
Products and services: Your company’s reputation depends on the
quality and consistency of what you offer your customers.  If this isn’t right, no amount of marketing
spend will make your business grow.

3.    
People: Every single person within your business needs to feel responsible for
protecting its reputation.  To achieve
this, all employees need to understand and feel part of the mission and values,
and of the company’s growth and success. Put a thorough induction plan in place
for new staff and implement a training and internal communications programme to
keep everyone engaged.

4.    
Manage and learn from mistakes: Things can and do go wrong – we are only
human and most of us employ other humans to help us build our businesses.  So it’s important to monitor and predict
where weaknesses may be and have plans in place to deal with them quickly and
effectively.

5.    
Communicate: Building strong relationships with your customers is very
important for lots of reasons, some less obvious than others.  When your reputation is in question, loyal
customers can provide an important ‘balance’ to any negative noise around your
company.  Also, customers who are engaged
with you and your company are more likely to let you know in a ‘helpful way’
when things are not as they would hope; less engaged customers will be more
inclined to shame you using public digital channels.

6.    
Divide personal from professional: Keep personal matters private and well away
from social media to help protect the reputation of your business.  A social media policy will help to guide your
employees and ensure they understand what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour –
it is advisable to include this within your core employment contracts.

7.    
Get social: Your social media strategy should help you to monitor the
views and opinions of your customers, while also instigating and engaging in conversations
with them.  Learn a lesson from the big
brands which are now using social media channels for their front line customer
service – a prompt response to complaints and questions on social media can
turn a potentially damaging situation into a customer service success story.

8.    
Take responsibility: Now more than ever, customers, suppliers and
other stakeholders will expect your business to deliver more than just
profit.  They will be looking for
evidence of how your business is maximising its positive impact on the communities
in which it operates and minimising its negative impact on the
environment.  So, develop a corporate
social responsibility plan and make sure your stakeholders are aware of it.

9.    
Media training: Make sure spokespeople have had relevant
media training and are able to manage media interviews if the company’s
reputation is questioned.  It is vital in
times of crisis that you are not seen to be ‘hiding’ from the issues; you need
to present a concerned, reassuring and professional face for the business.  Stick firmly to the facts and do not try to cover
up truths – your customers deserve your honesty and will respect you for it.

Click here to start building your PR and marketing strategies