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PR predictions for 2015

 We put together our top predictions for the PR industry for 2015,

1.The rise of the PR, search and social agency

PR agencies are expected to grasp traditional and online media, as well as create communities on social media and manage social channels. Agencies will be expected to have the capabilities to run SEO and PPC campaigns also.

2.The demise of the traditional PR agency

Closely related to no 1. - traditional agencies that focus on media relations still exist, typically having been around for quite a few years, and with owners that are making a nice living from servicing clients that gain enough business from media mentions. However, the integration of additional services, such as SEO and social media management, into the traditional PR offering will become commonplace as more and more clients demand everything under one roof.

3.Creating content has never been more exciting

We are all being bombarded with content and have never been more receptive to receiving it in so many different ways. From videos to infographics, we no longer want to just read about something, instead we want to see the information, engage with it and pass it on. As long as you know who your audience is, and what makes them tick, delivering your message in an exciting way has never been easier.

4.Marketers demand better analysis

PR is often hard to measure, but with so much more of our exposure being online, measurement is getting easier. From social shares to click-throughs and sales generated from a piece of content, a detailed level of analysis is becoming the norm.

5.Speed of response 

With the growth in importance of social media there is an increasing expectation from marketers and journalists for instant responses to issues, so speed of response will remain key in 2015.

6.More journalists jump ship into the PR fold

With more newspapers and magazines turning from print issues into digital publications, an increasing number of journalists now work for more than one publication or are jumping ship to take up positions within PR agencies. We see this trend continuing as more journalists take on the freelancer mantle and put their writing skills to use within the PR fold.

7.The general election

In the UK, the election is going to drown out a lot of other news, but may present PR opportunities.

8.Economy will boost fees

Thanks to the economy now on the mend, there will be more confidence in marketing spend and we predict that 2015 will see many agencies experience a fee income rise.

 9.Competition from pure social agencies

As well as threats from other PR agencies, smaller agencies may get squeezed by competitors in the content marketing and pure social media agency sector if they don’t embrace search and social as well as traditional PR.

10.Continuing boom in smaller specialist agencies

We predict a strong year for specialist PR agencies that focus on one particular sector. Specialist agencies offer clients far more value since they can hit the ground running, without the need for investment time to learn the sector trends they should be focusing on and which media contacts to approach with their clients’ news. 

Which social media sites do SMEs use for business?

A recent infographic from Sage looked at how SMEs use social media and which sites they prefer for business. We were surprised to find that Facebook tops the list, with LinkedIn (perhaps the site most SMEs would use for business) coming second. Twitter was third, followed by Google+.

Interestingly, only seven per cent of SMEs have their own business blog. Surely, with the growth of SEO, businesses should be investing more into their own blogs but, according to this infographic, only seven per cent of the SMEs surveyed have their own – a truly astonishing fact to us!

Another result that surprised us was that 47 per cent of the SMEs still do not use social media at all, while seven per cent have the same social media account for both personal and professional purposes. Despite there being a certain draw to photos of your office and staff, why would stakeholders want personal pics of you – on holiday, with your family or out partying at the weekend? Always keep your business social media accounts professional!

Whether you’re keeping existing customers and potential stakeholders updated with your news and opinions or you’re using social media to attract new customers there is no longer any excuse not to have at least one of the B2B social media accounts. For us, Facebook is more B2C, but LinkedIN, Twitter and Google+ are essential sites for promoting your business and networking purposes. They also give you the opportunity to check out what competitors are doing which, in itself, is useful. How can you position your business as a thought leader if you don’t know what else is going on in the market or with other SMEs?

In addition to our blog, which you already know about since you’re reading this post, we have four other social media accounts that you can follow us on: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.

And let us know if there are any results in this infographic that you’ve been surprised by!

Stories for M2M companies

Last week I supported a client at the Electronics Design Show and in our conversations with journalists the hottest topic they are reporting on is M2M or the Internet of Things.

And this week, I had a client meeting in Germany about smart homes – again another potential story about connected devices.

The opportunity is huge, with Cisco predicting back in 2011, that there will be 50 billion internet connected devices by the year 2020.

The thing is that many electronics firms have been helping clients develop M2M products for years, but haven’t necessarily used this phrase. Here we need to get old school companies to ride on the coat tails of the hype, whether they like terms such as IoT or not.

The opportunity in terms of PR is also huge. There are stories to be told about a range of subjects including data privacy, smart homes, wearables, the electronics considerations when building M2M devices/apps and new business models.

Security scare stories are always of interest. Concerns re privacy as information from one device transfers to another were highlighted by HP when the company recently found that 70% of Internet of Things Devices are vulnerable to attack.

There are also concerns about whether large scale M2M projects will actually work. Take the smart meter programmes across the world where there will be a billion residential smart meters in ten years’ time. In all of the machine to machine (M2M) world, the scale of the smart meter rollout (often now mandated by governments and regulators) is one of the largest. Utilities and the governments pushing this initiative need to save face and put in place early system testing to head off problems.

New business models are also high on the agenda. In the utilities sector for example, how will utilities use smart home devices to roll out new services that will reduce customer churn and differentiate them. With Apple and Google entering the smart home, the competition certainly got more interesting.

It’s definitely an exciting time for M2M and we’re looking forward to helping our clients tell their stories.

How to weather a crisis comms storm

BBC execs take note, here’s our advice on what we'd recommend following Apprentice Ahktar’s sex tape shame

Not only is The Apprentice compulsive viewing, it is also a prime example of the need for a good/pre-existing crisis management plan. This week’s breaking news story around contestant Solomon Akhtar’s alleged sex tape, which was filmed before his appearance on the show, closely follows another contestant - James Hill – being revealed only a few weeks ago as having a criminal conviction.

BBC executives must be a little miffed about this second negative news story impacting the current series, so I've come up with three steps showing what can be done quickly to combat a crisis:

  • Understand what the crisis is and how it’s being reported – for example this story had already appeared as front page news on several tabloids as well as being retweeted and commented on via social media. In fact, the whole story was first divulged via posts (by Solomon’s so-called friends) on Twitter!
  • Create a list of what could happen – for example which media haven’t covered the news yet and can you offer an exclusive comment or interview to encourage the journalists there to put a positive spin on the news?
  • Develop a short, to the point, non-inflammatory message that can be sent out to all media – whether they’ve written about the news or not. Having a comment from you on the situation gives reporters another angle for follow-on coverage but also advises them that you’re aware of the situation and are not taking it lying down. The best crisis comms are having something to say always – even if it’s just a generic holding statement that lets everyone know to expect a more detailed response at a later date.

The key to a good crisis communication plan is to be proactive and, where you are reacting to an unexpected crisis/situation, acting quickly is essential.

Here’s our guide to the three must haves for your crisis plan:

1. Remain calm: even if you’re not entirely sure exactly what’s going on and how the details might unfold, always appear calm and in control when speaking to journalists. Don’t flap as that just makes you look as if you’re not handling the crisis very well. Both the media and your clients will always judge your competence based on how well you perform in the spotlight so try not to look uneasy and, when asked something you can’t answer, simply say “We’re aware of the situation and have already implemented our response plan, which prioritises investigating and dealing with the crisis. As soon as we have any additional information, we’ll provide a statement and post it on our website, and share it via our social media channels."

In our Apprentice example above, the BBC representative for the show should really have commented on the ‘storm’ by now to maintain credibility, but thankfully Sir Alan Sugar’s right hand man, Nick Hewer, has done so – well kind of. He appeared on Loose Women very quickly after the scandal broke - so kudos to whoever shoe-horned him into that guest spot in such a timely manner. He openly discussed the alleged sex tape and even made a joke about the skills which Mr Akhtar had employed to create the footage potentially proving useful in later rounds if advertising tasks come along.

2. Apologise: Apologies show humility – an admirable trait – not weakness so if it seems like your client is defending himself but doesn’t get what he has done wrong, the public – and media – could well turn against him. It is always better, when in the wrong, to own up to that and apologise sincerely. The public are far more likely to forgive someone who has said sorry than they will of he keeps trying to convince them that he’s right when they think he’s in the wrong. Apologising and moving forward, using the crisis as a lesson learned, will soon mean the crisis is forgotten in the public’s eyeSo far Mr Ahktar has confirmed that the sex tape exists but has not yet apologised for it so only time will tell now – if his conquest decides to share her side of the story - if he’s done the right thing staying shtoom.

3. Communicate commitment: let your stakeholders, the public and media know that you are truly committed to resolving the problem. Explain clearly how you’re handling the situation and what you’re going to do in future to stop it reoccurring.

We’re not convinced that this will be the last sensational story to hit the BBC’s latest series of Apprentice or indeed future ones, but we’re tuned in each week to see what happens next.


Mobile accessories are hot right now


Through our work with the UK’s largest online mobile accessories retailer, our PR expertise spans B2B and B2C in the mobile sector.

Alongside our mobile accessories client, we also work for a new mobile accessories distributor that offers a range of unique and innovative gadgets, from portable power banks that help keep your mobile devices charged and music on full power, to handy waterproof Bluetooth speakers that are sure to make your life easier and more connected.

We’ve helped the team raise its portfolio through product reviews with regional and B2B trade publications – including airport retailer magazine, Frontier - plus dedicated online review sites such as Geekanoids and The Digital Lifestyle. Our client appeared at a national trade exhibition and we secured coverage of both its attendance and use of this event as a platform to launch its latest Olixar range  in PC Retail and to attract retailers. That story also appeared in other trade titles including Gifts and Greetings Review and Get Connected magazines.


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