It’s one of the standout events in every PR professional’s calendar, where leading communications specialists from all over Europe gather to “debate the issues that are defining the future of our industry”. Over the course of the two-day conference, we were treated to lectures, panel debates and practical workshops, hosted by key communications leaders from Tesco, Save the Children, Npower, the NHS and many more.
In this blog, we’ll give you a summary of some of our key findings from the two days, including what we learnt about ethics and diversity, how and why to use negativity in a positive manner, proving the worth of PR work and much more.
Understand What Customers Don’t Want
The concept of negative drivers and their prevalence in your PR strategy was explained by Helen Edwards, co-founder of Passion Brands. She explored the idea that brands would do well to spend more time in the negative space, to break down barriers and recognise that addressing the negatives will show a willingness to understand the why.
Helen suggested that we need to take barriers to purchase more seriously. Stating that although we all see negativity through data research, we tend to not go beyond acknowledging this and would rather emphasise the positive feedback instead. She asked people to think clearly about whether they are currently doing enough to address why there is negativity, and what we can do; stating that going through the negative barriers takes us to the joy and delight that marketers often crave.
A Question of Ethics
Ethics and being ethical can be a minefield for in-house marketing departments and agencies alike. Whilst we can all call ourselves ethical, “being ethical is about what you’re not prepared to do”. That was the main topic of conversation for a great panel discussion involving representatives from Oaknorth Bank and Direct Line group among others.
The panel discussed how more customers and potential clients are choosing their agency based on ethical principles. The advice? As an agency, don’t say you’re ethical if you can’t prove it. Your potential customers are looking at your portfolio of current and previous clients and judging for themselves. No business wants to be associated with an agency that works with clients who have a poor reputation.
Luckily, agencies can help themselves too. The panel discussed the need for an agency to be more proactive in asking the question, “Do we want this particular client?” You stand to lose more in the long run by taking on an unethical client, no matter how tempting the short-term financial gains may be.
Influencers and How to Use Them
Influencers are still hugely powerful, but is your business or agency using them properly? Representatives of UKTV, Laurent-Perrier UK and more discussed this topic and others related to influencers in this fascinating roundtable discussion. They say that influencers are divided into two types:
*The Macro Influencer – Followers want their gossip and a piece of their lifestyle
*The Micro Influencer – These influencers are following their passion, they have authority and expertise, and we follow them for what they’re delivering – not to watch what they are doing
Whilst brands – especially major brands – traditionally sway towards a macro influencer, the panel argued the advantages of forging a partnership with a micro influencer. Aligning yourself with a micro influencer, who actually loves your product or service, looks much more authentic as there is brand synergy.
The panel also argued that brands and businesses can guide micro influencers and provide them with images and content to complement their own campaigns. If you’re not looking at micro influencers, maybe it’s time you start!
Collaborate to Succeed
PR consultants often get a bad reputation, especially with journalists. With the number of journalists falling, they are now under extreme pressure to keep delivering and can often feel frustrated when their email inbox is filled with irrelevant content. We listened to a panel of representatives from the likes of Mashable, JOE Media and Situation Publishing, and can now share some valuable takeaways:
- Try and get under the skin of the publications you are targeting and whether it will be relevant to them. Show research and understanding and where possible, build the relationship first.
- Don’t try and pull the wool over the journalist’s eyes. A good column and debate is good, but not a services push masked as an impartial opinion piece.
- Get the client to relax the control where possible. In an ideal world, the client should trust that PR people will tell them when a release or content piece is a waste of time.
- Work with the journalist on the idea creation – they will feel part of it and are more likely to use it, especially if it fits in with their style. Journalists aren’t opposed to branded content, but it needs to work for them.