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Posts from July 2019

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Nailing that pitch



Pitching to journalists is an essential part of media relations. You could have the best idea to exist, but if it’s not packaged and presented effectively, it might never see the light of day, meaning it’s crucial to get it right the first time.

Pitching can also be daunting at times, and if you work in public relations, you’re likely to be familiar with that sinking feeling when your bright ideas go unanswered.

But one should never dwell on this, as when it comes to pitching, a wide array of approaches can be taken with no set ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers, so long as it works! You just have to find what works for you and run with it.

Here, I’ve shared some my own pitching tips and tricks.

Prepare and research

Before anything else, ensure your idea is relevant to the platform you’re pitching it to by giving the publication a good read, listen or watch.

Ask yourself: Is this idea original? Is it right for the audience? Will it spark a discussion?

Next, make sure you pitch to the correct person. Most journalists receive hundreds of pitches every day and the last thing they need is you further clogging-up their inbox with emails that are of no use to them. Find out which journalists are writing similar pieces to what you’re pitching, or simply call the editorial team and ask who the best person would be to send your idea to.

Gorkana is also a great tool for retrieving this information, and a lifesaver for communications professionals across the globe! In addition to providing an overview of the media outlet, circulation figures and all kinds of other useful stuff, publications list their journalists, their roles, contact details and what they like to write about. You can often find the pitch preferences of individual journalists too (e.g. ‘email only’).

There’s also no harm in giving the person you’re pitching to a search on Twitter. A quick scroll down their feed allows you to get a better idea of their personality, interests and views, which can help inform the way you approach them. I also, oddly, seem to find it easier to pitch to journalists if I know what they look like…just me? Thought so.

Timing is also key. Many journalists work unconventional hours, meaning your pitch could be landing in an unmanned inbox without prior research. Again, check the website and the journalists’ Twitter to see if they have been active recently.

Build strong media relationships

Before going any further, I want to stress that the indispensable value of meeting journalists in person should never be overlooked, and should be done wherever possible.

Take them for a coffee and get to know them as a person as well as a journalist, find out their interests, what makes them tick, and express your interest in what they do. Basically, become their best mate. It’s a million times easier to do this in person that it is via email or on the phone, and they’re much less likely to say no when you’re right in front of them!

By allowing them to put a face to your name, you’re also much more likely to receive a response when they see your emails land in their inbox.

If you can’t meet with a journalist for whatever reason, gaining their trust and respect is simple; consistently send them good ideas, bring them to life with quality content, and deliver them on deadline. Trust can also just as easily be lost by doing the opposite of this.

Be concise

As we’re all well aware, journalists are extremely busy people who are often working to tight deadlines, meaning you want to occupy as little of their time as possible whilst still ensuring you get the message across.

A good start is to remove the likes of “How are you?” or “I hope you’re well”. While this may seem like the pleasant thing to do, it can often come across as overly polite, especially if you don’t know one another very well. Just get straight to the nitty gritty by summarising exactly what your story is in the first sentence.

Following this, bullet points can often be effective to summarise your key points, as well as any relevant statics or research to give credibility to your narrative.

Similarly, when pitching over the phone, it’s a good idea to draft a brief script to run off to ensure you nail all of your points with conviction without going off track.

An eye-catching, succinct subject line is also vital. Lead with a clear indicator so the journalist instantly knows what the piece is about, such as ‘TECH NEWS:’ or ‘OPINION:’ for example. This can essentially make or break your pitch, as it can be the difference between the journalist reading on or discarding it all together.

Finally, before hitting send, look back through the email and remove anything that doesn’t say something new.

Final quick-fire tips

·         Unless it’s urgent, always email in the first instance. Research has proven that the majority of reporters prefer email communication, and this gives you something in writing to reference when following-up

·         Don’t give everything away. A pitch should be viewed as tool grab the attention of journalists, as such, invite a reply by offering additional information such as accompanying images, access to research or an interview should they express interest

·         Three is enough. One email, one follow-up email and one phone call is enough. If at this point you’re still unsuccessful, draw a line under it and pitch a new idea

 

 

Tagged with: PR, PR campaign essential, PR Manchester, Public Relations

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Catch 22: Should I consider sponsoring a publication to host my content?



While we are now a decade (or is it two?) into the digital age, it would be fair to say that the media industry is still grappling with how to monetise itself in the online era.

For all this uncertainty around how they make content pay, there remains a reluctance on behalf of digital publishers to place content behind paywall. After all that would go against the ancient scriptures which say, on the internet at least, news should be free. Yet, despite this, the fact remains that digital ad spend alone is not enough to sustain publications.

In an attempt to escape this catch-22 situation publishers are frantically looking for other ways to make their business models economically viable. From awards and trade shows to webinars and networking events they are leaving no stone unturned.

In this quest one such model that is seemingly gaining traction is, for want of a better phrase, a hybrid of editorial and paid for content. For some publications this has meant providing basic content or a certain number of articles a month for free while placing ‘premium’ content behind a paywall.

Others, however, have taken a different approach and have instead turned to ‘sponsored content’ to drive revenue. In this model the publishers run a certain amount of editorial while charging companies to host their content on the website. In some instances, this may be articles and other resources such as whitepapers, in others it may be joining a member scheme that gives your content priority for editorial slots. The upshot though is the same: pay us to put your content in front of our audience.

As a result, we are increasingly being asked by clients if they should consider taking up ‘sponsored content’ options. And as with many things there is no one-size-fits all answer, it really depends on your individual requirements. 

So, should you be considering sponsored content as an option for your PR campaign we’ve pulled together a quick pros and cons guide to help take you through the decision.

The Pros

Guaranteed exposure in key media

Sponsored content guarantees you exposure in key media titles, meaning that your content is being read by the audience it is intended to influence. And, after all, if your content isn’t being seen it isn’t delivering a return for your business.

Added benefits

Sponsored content often comes with other benefits. As an example, both The Drum and Marketing Week will, for a fee, host your long form content, such as whitepapers, on their website. The reality is they would never do this as part of editorial so it is a chance for more of your content to gain exposure for your brand. What’s more, when you take-up this option, you are likely to get favourable treatment from the editorial team.

Can provide more trackable insights/leads

Finally, and this applies more to the long form content reference above as opposed to sponsored articles, you can often obtain more data and insights from sponsored content than editorial. For example, if you pay for a publication to host your whitepaper, they will often place this behind a form fill providing you with a list of potential leads to follow-up with.

The Cons

It’s not seen the same as editorial

The biggest drawback of sponsored content is that it will be clearly marked as paid for – and as such be seen as a notch or two below editorial. With this in mind you have to ask if it is worth paying the money if people are likely to view it in a dimmer light than the editorial – even though that might be harder to earn.

Undermines the value of your content

This leads into the second point: it can undermine the value of your content. And, after you have invested time and resource into producing something of high quality you have to weigh up if you want to take that risk. However, this is where you run into your own catch-22: if you don’t pay the money, there is a chance fewer people will see it anyway, in turn reducing the value it has to offer.

Paying to produce

This is more a point of principle but nonetheless one worth making. The honest fact is that the media has a shrinking amount of editorial resource – and as such they increasingly rely on you to provide quality content to fill the gaps. So, after spending hours crafting a high-quality article, is it really fair that the publication will then charge you to print something that is of value to their readership? It’s certainly one worth pondering.

Uncharted Waters

While, as things currently stand in the media landscape, good PR should be able to achieve many of things that sponsored content does, there is no telling where the path to monetisation may lead publications. As such, if nothing else, as things stand ultimately, at the very least, we’d advise keeping an open mind.

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PR: is it measuring up?



This week on the blog we’re discussing an age-old battle for PR pros: measurement.  

It comes off the back of another study released this month that told us ‘40% of execs don’t think PR delivers good value’. Unfortunately, this isn’t a one off; the study is in a similar vein to many others that have been released over the past few years. Not a good sign for an industry that already faces an ongoing battle for a slice of the marketing budget. 

I’d put my money on the fact that a lot of the confusion around PR’s value comes from the fact that many PR buyers still aren’t actually sure what PR delivers in terms of tangible results. And you can see where this feeling has come from. For years, the value of PR was measured pretty much solely on AVE – literally how much it would cost to place an advert in the space you’ve secured editorial coverage in and then multiplied by three or four, depending on the agency. A bit wishy washy and not exactly an accurate demonstration of your bang for buck.

Thankfully *most* of the industry has come past the stage of reporting back results on the AVE of press coverage and the majority of PR agencies are becoming more switched on when it comes to objective setting and measurement.

To prove value, the most effective PR measurement metrics need to be data-driven. Yes, the more vanity focused metrics, such as opportunities to see, key media infiltration, social engagement or positive sentiment, can still be hugely important, but it’s the harder metrics which make it much easier to show value. Whether that’s digital metrics such as website visitors and conversions, goal completions, or backlinks, or even more tangible, revenue-focused measures such as the generation of qualified leads or enquiries through PR.

Evaluation is something we take seriously at Refresh. In fact, one of the CIPR awards we were shortlisted for a couple of weeks ago was a success largely because of how well we could attribute tangible results of the campaign to the client. For this campaign, we were able to demonstrate to the client the value of every penny of their marketing budget spend, by reporting on a number of data-first metrics; perhaps most notably exactly how many leads were generated directly though the PR (which their sales team could then follow up on). Happy client, happy us. 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign essential, PR Manchester, Public Relations

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Is it okay to post on social media once a week?



We’ve all heard the saying ’quality over quantity’, and it’s a phrase that is undoubtedly accurate in many situations, but does it apply to social media strategies?

To kick start a social media campaign, many would be likely to Google ‘how often should I post on social media?’ and then read through pages of advice forums, blogs and studies, and then stick to what the research has told you. However, prior to this research stage, a good social media campaign firstly thinks about what it wants to achieve, who the campaign should target to achieve the objectives, and which channels are best to achieve this.

Once all of this is decided, it’s important to think about how much time can be dedicated to social media. Many companies have full teams of people focused on social media, which gives an indication of how much time and effort the company can invest into its campaigns! However, if your resource means you can only commit to one social media post a week, don’t set yourself up for failure by pretending you’ll be able to post ten times.

Once you’ve researched, planned and begun to execute your campaign, the hard work doesn’t stop, and the question about the right level of posting for your business might still not be answered. Keeping an eye on social media analytics is the crucial next step in finding the answer. Looking into which of your posts perform well, and at what time, over a sustained period of time gives an invaluable insight into your social media campaign and its audience’s habbits. This can clearly highlight what is and isn’t working, and will help you understand what works well for you, whether that is one post a week or five posts a day.

In an ideal world, analytics would prove that your hard work and planning has paid off and you are doing exactly what you should be. However, this doesn’t mean you are in the clear. Social media algorithms and consumer behaviour is constantly evolving, so what works today is unlikely to still be guaranteed in a year’s time, so analysis is an ongoing adventure!  

For many people and businesses there is a fine line between ‘spamming’ social media channels and posting enough content to keep followers engaged. But there is no right answer! As long as you know your audience and your content is consistent, quality and engaging, then your audience will be excited to see it and will keep the online conversations flowing. For us, the key things to remember are to research, plan, keep an eye on social media analytics and last but not least, don’t be afraid to adapt accordingly.

To learn more about how Refresh PR can help you with your social media strategy, get in touch with us here.

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign essential, Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter

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Paddy Power’s latest PR campaign gets people talking again



Paddy Power is certainly not averse to controversial PR and its latest campaign has once again got plenty of people talking. After announcing a sponsorship deal with the bookmaker, Huddersfield Town FC released images of the club's supposed new kit for the upcoming season featuring the Paddy Power logo splashed across the shirt in a sash-style design.

It didn’t go down well with football fans and sparked outrage across social media with many describing it as the worst kit they’d ever seen. Paddy Power issued a press release saying that it “didn’t want to get into shirt sponsorship just to do the same as everyone else" and Huddersfield even wore the contentious kit for a friendly match against Rochdale.

The sponsorship certainly got people talking before, as many people suspected, Paddy Power eventually confirmed it was in fact a stunt. Huddersfield’s shirt will, in fact, bear no sponsor this season as part of Paddy Power’s ‘#SaveOurShirt’ campaign. The bookmaker released another statement saying “As a sponsor, we know our place, and it’s not on your shirt.”, calling on other sponsors to join the campaign to give something back to the fans.

Was it worth it?

The aim of the stunt was to get people in Paddy Power’s target audience talking about the bookmaker and it certainly achieved that. It was trending on Twitter in the UK when the shirt was first released and again when it was confirmed as a stunt. It also gained a huge amount of coverage, with not just sporting publications, but almost all of the national newspapers running the story, making it a major talking point up and down the country.

The initial stunt gained Paddy Power the desired exposure but the fact it has backed it up with a campaign that will appeal to football fans, one of its main target audiences, is a smart move. Whilst the stunt got people talking, almost all of the publicity was negative, whereas the ‘#SaveOurShirt’ campaign highlights a key issue that many fans are passionate about. This will not only result in even more coverage but also get its target audience back onside, putting the bookmaker front of mind.

The power of PR

Whilst the company’s logo will not feature on the Huddersfield’s shirt this season, Paddy Power has almost certainly gained more media coverage and overall exposure in its target audience from its ‘non sponsorship’ of a team in the Championship than any of the 10 bookmakers sponsoring Premier League teams will get throughout the season. When you consider that shirt sponsorship is considerably more costly in the Premier League than in the second tier, it helps to demonstrate the impact that a well thought out PR campaign can have.

Getting our clients front of mind through clever campaigns targeting their target audiences is exactly what we do at Refresh so it’s great to see Paddy Power pulling off a campaign like this, highlighting the power of PR once again.

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Double recognition for Refresh PR in CIPR Awards



The Refresh PR team is pleased to announce we have received two shortlists in the CIPR North West PRide Awards for Best Business and Corporate Communications Campaign and Best Integrated Campaign of the Year categories. The nominations are for our work with Eurocell and the Heating Installer Awards, respectively.

The CIPR North West PRide Awards celebrate outstanding communications campaigns and recognise PR activity that makes a positive impact on the businesses involved.

Laura Mashiter, our MD, said: “When we were submitting our award entries for both campaigns and looking at the results we had achieved, we knew they were both high quality entries and deserved recognition.

“Our work with Eurocell involved market research, a roundtable, the drafting of a forward-thinking whitepaper and a hard-working press office, and the outcome made a real impact on Eurocell and its business. In six months alone, the whitepaper achieved over 750 downloads and generated significant sales leads for Eurocell, which they are now converting.

“The Heating Installer Awards, which is owned and managed by Refresh PR, has grown each year by mammoth proportions. We now use events, video, social media, press office and get on-the-ground with installers to become THE awards tradespeople want to enter - creating mass brand exposure for our sponsors at the same time.”

The Refresh PR team has over seven decades of PR experience in both the built environment and tech sectors and experienced record growth in 2018/19, with 2019/2020 looking to be even bigger. 


Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment, Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR event, PR Manchester, PRide Awards, Public Relations

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Refresh PR sees a digital future



At Refresh we passionately believe in investing in developing the future workforce and helping talented youngsters acquire skills and experience. And we don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk as we demonstrated with the launch of our grad scheme last October.

Building on this we have now gone one step further by signing up to become a Digital Ambassador as part of Manchester Digital’s Digital Future initiative, a scheme that is asking businesses in the region to help bridge the digital skills gap by signing by passing on their expertise to young people. In this role we will provide advice and introductory training to youngsters across the North West on developing and implementing digital PR campaigns and strategies.

As an agency we are already seeing a growing demand for a more digital approach to PR and marketing and we passionately believe that our knowledge in this area can help young people consider a career in the field and provide them with skills that will generally aide them when they enter the workforce.

The Digital Futures programme aims to encourage more young people across GM to pursue a digital career and support educators to deliver relevant curriculum and careers guidance.

The scheme was launched following the findings of the independent trade body’s 2019 Skills Audit, which revealed that almost a third of digital businesses in the region had turned work away over the past year as a result of not being able to find the right talent to fulfil it.

Businesses already signed up to support the Digital Futures campaign include AutoTrader, On the Beach, Sainsbury’s, The Co-Op, NHS Salford Royal Hospital and Sigma. In total Manchester Digital aims to have 250 GM businesses on board by May 2020, through the GMCA-supported campaign.

We’ll share details on our first Digital Ambassador training session in due course! 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , creatiive agency Manchester, Creative Agency, Manchester, Marketing, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, Public Relations North West, Social Media