Tag Archive for: IgnitePR

Keeping the spark in your client relationships

client-engagement-slider-watirmelon(image: watirmelon.com)

As with any relationship, the one you have with your client will no doubt have its ups and downs. At the start of a working relationship both parties experience the usual emotions – apprehension, anticipation, excitement. Will the agency do a good job now you’ve committed to six months with them? Will the client always be this nice?

At Ignite we’ve had long-standing relationships with many of our clients. We’ve been Poolwerx’s exclusive PR partner for five years and looked after Hire A Hubby’s PR program for more than two years. The average tenure with our clients is three years. So, what is the key to a great working relationship?

Keeping things fresh is an obvious, yet important, factor. If you’ve been working with a company for several years it can be all too easy to settle into a ‘routine’ – and you run the risk of falling out of love with each other.

Mutual respect is also critical to a successful relationship, as is understanding each other’s needs. If you lose sight of the bigger picture you won’t be helping your client achieve their long-term goals – and you might find yourself getting dumped for a newer model.

We’ve listed out our top five tips for keeping the spark in your client relationships below.

1) Call regularly – while email is the preferred choice of communication for many these days, nothing beats the courtesy of a quick phone call once a week. It will remind both of you that there’s a real, live human being on the other end of those correspondences, encouraging a better relationship. We have a service promise of at least three contacts a week.

2) Have a date night – take your clients out for dinner/lunch/coffee when you can. It’s a chance to get out of the corporate environment and for you to both get to know each other a bit better. Many will attest to the benefits of a social outing when it comes to fostering a stronger personal and, ultimately, working relationship with clients.

3) Role play – if you’re feeling disenchanted with your client, put yourself in their shoes for a while. Imagine the workload and consider any pressure points you might know of. Are you aware of any personal issues? Be understanding and be an adult – if the problem doesn’t seem to be going away, talk about it. It’s much better to clear the air than let a relationship run into distress.

4) Show an interest – don’t just ‘do the job’. Flag items of interest you’ve seen in the news or heard through the grapevine that’s relevant to their industry. Not only will this show your commitment to understanding the industry landscape and where your client fits, it’ll show that you’re continuously on the pulse of industry news and issues. This kind of assurance is critical to engaging your clients beyond the regular day-to-day activity.

5) Make them feel special – agency PR people will know all too well the juggling skills required to manage multiple clients. However, the number one rule in client relations is to never, ever make your client feel like they are anything less than your number one priority – regardless of how busy you are.

Why businesses should consider outsourcing PR

When it comes to marketing your business, there are a number of specialist areas that need to be looked at including graphic design, marketing and public relations. Whilst you might be able to do the basics in-house, there is expertise attached to these specialist areas. Here are a few reasons why it’s worth investing in your PR rather than DIY-ing it:

1)      We’ve got years of experience and expertise: chances are we’ve done it all before, we’ve written the press releases, we’ve done the media training, we’ve spoken to the journalists, we’ve pitched the stories – we’re doing the job day in, day out, for a varied client list.

2)      We can bring something new to the table: coming from an outside perspective we can put forward new ideas, different ways of doing things and challenge the way you do things ‘just because’. We’re there to make your business grow so we can grow too.

3)      You can get results without another ‘mouth to feed’: the breadth of our experience means that we are often more cost-effective than it would be to get the person/ people necessary in-house to cover all the tasks we can undertake.

4)      We can react fast: if something needs turning around quickly, if you need more hands on deck, an outsourced company should have the extra resource and capability to turn that around for you.

5)      We can help upskill your team: working closely side-by-side should mean that your in-house team learns more and more about PR and what it can achieve for your business.

Outsourcing is an investment and it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons before taking that step otherwise you may end up resenting the company that is working for you, rather than using them to their maximum potential and allowing them to work with you and integrate with your team.

The best time to get in the PR experts is if you’re running out of ideas, if you don’t want to make a long-term commitment initially and dip your toe in the water, if your in-house marketing team is overworked, if your head office and marketing function is overseas, if you’re a start-up business and focussed on the core business, if you want to inject fresh ideas and new skills.

But if you choose to go down the path of outsourcing you must be very clear about the objectives and how you will measure success, i.e. what the desired outcome is. It’s important for you to meet the team who would be working on your ‘account’ – you should get on with them and they should have the enthusiasm and skills necessary to deliver.

The best PR agency-client relationships are partnerships where the business is open and honest with the PR consultancy – being up front about business objectives, praising good work, working alongside the agency team and keeping them informed of everything happening in your business.

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Five ways to maximize your agency spend

Spending hard-earned money to hire a creative or public relations agency is a big decision for many small business or franchise owners. If you are paying someone else to help you build your business (especially when you might not be paying yourself) you need to make sure you are getting your money’s worth.

Here are five ways to ensure you are getting the most out of your agency spend.

1)      Get your agency to manage the liaisons and marketing collateral with designers. There are some good designers out there but there are also many who will chew up your precious time and consistently fail to deliver. Agencies only use designers they can rely on as their livelihood depends upon it. Agencies are also skilled at handling erratic creative types, so give them the brief, then hand over the responsibility to save time and money. Don’t attempt to do your own logo unless you are a graphic designer.

2)      Let your agency be creative. You hired an agency to help you build your brand, obtain publicity and to generate awareness. Agency staff  know what they are talking about and are results and service orientated. Trust them to do their job to help deliver you the best outcome. If you aren’t going to let them have any creative reign, don’t hire them in the first place.

3)      Attend agency functions and events. If your agency puts on an event to show gratitude for your business make sure you turn up with an open-mind and ample business cards. Agency events, whether social or educational, provide excellent opportunities to network with other results-orientated businesses and can be a great way to expand your network. It can also be a great opportunity to learn something new and enhance your skills.

4)      Be open to new ideas.  What’s the point in hiring people to help you grow your brand if you are going to shut down everything they say? Some of the best ideas have come out of agencies. Listen and give them a chance to prove their worth.

5)      Get your agency to negotiate media buying and advertising for you. As well as having strong relationships with designers, most agencies will also have excellent relationships with advertising representatives. This means they have more power when negotiating deals and know how much they can push ad reps to obtain maximum value.

Wrap up 2010 with thoughtful presents to build your presence

 

Christmas is known as a time of giving and showing goodwill. A fantastic way to show you care about the people you have worked with all year is by sending them a simple Christmas present or a Thank You card. In today’s world of cyberspace it’s rare we send a card or a gift to someone through traditional mail. E-cards, Facebook messages and even Christmas texts are sadly all too common.

Sending traditional ‘snail mail’ presents or cards are often overlooked as relationship builders, yet if  used wisely they can help retain clients and show your suppliers you care. Relationships go a long way in this business and while some will argue a client will never stay just because you sent them a gift, a client that feels valued, knows the agency cares and who has a personal relationship with the team will find it much harder to sever the ties.

Before you send anything you should conduct a little bit of research – notice what your clients or suppliers eat and drink at functions, listen to comments about interests outside the office and pay attention to how they react to criticism or compliments.

Our top presents for suppliers or clients:

Fruit can make a refreshing change

1)      Chocolates (you’ll know their favourites from your preliminary research)

2)      Well packaged alcohol (as above)

3)      Quality gourmet hampers or fruit baskets

4)      Gift vouchers

5)      Flowers (if they aren’t allergic – again find out their favourites before hand)

Stay away from:

1)      Heavily perfumed products

2)      Foul smelling food items such as blue cheese or items with garlic

3)      Anything that could smash or leak in the delivery process

4)      ‘Joke’ presents – any item that could be misconstrued and taken offensively

5)      Cheesy photos of your team

Source: Bad Humour articles

Think class not crass

As for choosing cards, our general rule is to stay away from comedy, flirtatious words or the cards with music or voiceovers inside.

Select cards that look professional but still have an element of style that matches your business personality.

You can also get creative with gifts and provide something memorable and different. We give boxes of cherries to clients because they are not typical and it is something they can share with their team or take home for the family.

Merry Christmas!

Treading the minefield of Xmas office functions: tips on how to party ‘professionally’ this silly season

OK so it’s that time of year again – office parties and business networking events a plenty along with the flow of alcohol. Love them or hate them, corporate Christmas parties are an integrated part of business life and perfect for cementing relationships with your clients and associates, as well as being a chance to source new leads and expand your network. However, before you get into the reindeer outfits and knock back the egg-nog, there are a few (PR) partying rules you should follow. An alcohol-fuelled Christmas party is not a good enough reason to throw your professionalism out the window. So if you are serious about setting the bar and keeping your career alive, follow our top PR partying tips:

1) Drive to the party.This way you won’t be able to get drunk as you will have to drive home. You might also become the knight in shining armour as you will be able to drop off any drunk colleagues (or even clients) if necessary.

2) Eat before hand and at the event (if possible). Even if there is only mini-cocktail sausages or deep fried spring rolls, something is better than nothing. If you are running the event, don’t be a scrooge, supply some food!

3) View the party as a time to secure relationships and potentially network with suppliers or clients. Touch base with all of the key people but try not to hassle the boss or Managing Director too much as their job is to also network with their team.

4) Dress appropriately (no boobs, tank tops or thongs visible – and we are not just referring to footwear here).

5) Keep the business talk to a minimum. There’s nothing worse than someone pushing their products on you when all you want to do is enjoy a vino and have a laugh with your colleagues. Have a few topics on hand to make conversation and keep it light.ie. football scores, latest news that day, fun industry stories

6) Balance the timing – don’t leave too early and don’t be the last person there. You want to make an impression and have fun but at the same time you don’t want to be known as the drunk hanger-on. It’s easy to become known as a drinker and this can affect your professional reputation.

7) Have fun. People are more relaxed at this time of year so it’s ok to have a laugh – just don’t make a joke at someone else’s expense. That’s a definite no-no.

Connecting with your social media community

With the continuing evolution of the social media sphere, we are finding more and more clients are looking towards social media networks to generate leads and raise awareness about their brand.

However, the way most companies are approaching social media is fast and furious.

You can rush things through to catch up with everyone else but if you haven’t thought your approach through properly you won’t get the desired results.

For some this topic might seem a bit ‘101’ Social Media but we continue to come across businesses that don’t really understand how it works and the power it possesses in influencing a brand positively or negatively.

Social media is a real-time medium that has to be approached differently to other mass-advertising channels. Social media networks are more about the ‘soft sell’ rather than the hard sell – no-one likes being sent hundreds of spam emails or receiving unsolicited telemarketing calls – and your social media community is the same. Blatant advertising material on social media channels is unacceptable as most people have joined for a bit of fun. The exception to this is when it is a specific promotion page and people are aware of this when they sign/ join up/follow.

With this in mind, it is important to have clear objectives for why you want your brand or business to engage in social media. Is your target market reached easily via this channel? It’s not good enough just to be ‘on’ it.

Brands can benefit  from building genuine connections with the market on social media but it needs to be consistent with the overall marketing strategy, which includes integrating above and below the line elements. Social  media requires a a long-term commitment but there are a few things you can do to engage fans quickly and easily. Simple things like asking questions or running specific online promotions through applications are two strategies that encourage engagement.

Roger Federer is one of the biggest sports brands in tennis (and sport in general). Part of the reason he continues to remain popular with both sponsors and fans is through his innovative approach to social media. Roger and his team consistently put in efforts to connect with his Facebook & YouTube fans and this has paid off with his number of Facebook fans recently hitting 4, 811, 836. His comments and videos regularly attract feedback in the thousands. I am sure many of you are aware of his recent video for Gillette, which went viral on the internet

The screen capture below is a great example of a recent post he made calling  for fans to ask him any questions they would like answered. Note: this one post attracted 9, 261 comments and 13, 9223 ‘likes’ – one of his less popular ones!

'The Fed' is a social media ace

 You will notice it actually seems like Roger himself is using this page – it is not all marketing material and this is a key element in its success as a fan page.

As a business owner it’s important to start with the end goal in mind so before doing anything consider what you really want to achieve in the social media sphere then act accordingly. Do research, check what competitors are doing and ensure you are familiar with social media tools so you can truly understand how it works and can be applied for your business.

If your business is already engaging in social media, assess how successful it is and  make sure there are consistent efforts to engage and connect with the online community.

Social media is a powerful communication tool but it is not a one size fits all medium.

Creating media magic – the importance of appropriate photographs

One area I have discovered a lot of businesses will overlook is the way their company is visually represented in the print and online media. And I’m not talking about websites, design or logos – I’m referring to photographs.

It never fails to amaze me how much money companies will spend on improving their online presence, or various other aspects of their business, yet quality photographs of staff and products won’t get a second look.

Many regional newspapers, magazines and online sites will only have one or two photographers. These photographers are often freelance photographers (contract) who will only work at the media outlet part-time.

What this means when you are pitching to media is that the chances of a regional/small media outlet setting up a fresh photograph to go with your story, or product, is pretty slim. This doesn’t mean it won’t happen. It just means you are competing with the thousand or so other stories which also need photographs. Editors need to fill space. They also need to meet a quota of stories and have appropriate photographs to go with them.

If you are on a deadline – your photographer is already booked out – and you have a choice between a story with a photo versus a story with no photo the chances are the story with the photo will win out every time.

Of course saying that, the larger media outlets will always want to own copyright and have their own pictures…

If a company does have images for media a lot of the time these images will be old or outdated. You know the ones – the fresh faced CEO who looks about forty but when you meet them in person they are really sixty and look nothing like their official media photograph?

There is nothing the media hates more than a (pr) company sending them pictures to accompany stories which represent their clients -or products – in a falsified manner. Media outlets don’t want old images or ones which look dodgy and outdated. It reflects on the quality of their publication. Media outlets want a variety of quality images which accurately portray whoever or whatever it is they are writing about.

They also don’t want to print the same thing as all of the other media outlets you’ve sent your story to.

It is crucial your brand aligns with images which accurately represent the business products and which fit the overall brand strategy. If you are going to push products, staff and employees of your business in the media its important to make sure they are presented in a way which fits in with the overall marketing strategy of your business. Social media also needs to be addressed in this regard but that is a whole other topic altogether.

Depending on the size of your business and what is being promoted in the media realistically you should be looking at indulging in professional photography shoots at least once a year. If you can’t hire someone it is still easy to update your media images. All it involves is finding an amateur photographer and allocating time and resources to make it happen.

The best part about professional media shoots is that your company will own all of the images afterwards – you can reuse these images in marketing material, or online, as you choose.

Quality photographs are an excellent business tool and will always help to enhance your media coverage.

Claire Kelly – Media Relations Manager, Ignite PR and Marketing