Looking for a successful career in PR?
Good news, the Smith & Smith team is expanding and as a result we’re looking for a bright, motivated PR account executive to join us on our journey.
PR isn’t about schmoozing and air kisses, which is why successful candidates will be able to assist our account team by nurturing our high standards in both this field and that of marketing.
We represent firms that operate in a wide variety of industries, supporting them in media relations and engagement, copywriting and crisis management, to name a few.
Successful candidates should possess the following key attributes:
Account handling skills
§ Writing: agendas, contact reports, press releases, technical features and social media outreach.
§ Media liaison: develop a good understanding of UK or foreign media (as appropriate) and including digital media and blogsphere. Research and develop media lists for specific clients/projects. Liaise with selected media and develop contacts.
§ Media monitoring: read relevant and specialist publications (including online / digital) as appropriate and develop an awareness of opportunities and items of general interest.
§ Media evaluation: monitor and track press coverage, present in Smith & Smith PR format, analyse in line with set objectives.
§ Client liaison: establish and maintain professional and effective relationship with client(s).
§ Supplier negotiation: develop relationship with key suppliers and demonstrate ability to achieve optimum outcome for agency/client.
§ Event management: assist in organisation of exhibitions, photo calls and other events.
§ Digital and design management: develop understanding of print, photography and design terminology.
§ Accompany account handlers on client meetings, supplier briefings, photographic shoots, assist at press conferences.
§ Develop an awareness of team working, workload planning and meeting deadlines.
§ Develop good telephone manner: importance of clear message taking and responding to information requests. Manage press ring-rounds e.g. exhibitions and product launches.
§ Provide administrative support to team as required.
§ Develop a good understanding of the role of public relations and the range of techniques available to PR practitioners in the UK and abroad.
§ Develop understanding of client business and industry issues.
§ Ensure compliant with company procedures to generate best practice.
§ Ensure profitable relationship with clients by maintaining service to agreed levels.
§ Juggle workload/work across a number of clients effectively.
§ Demonstrate effective time management.
§ Demonstrate flexibility.
§ Support the company culture and positioning.
§ Proactively seek and suggest solutions to problems.
§ Take joint responsibility for learning and development of self.
§ Build sound and productive relationships internally and externally.
§ Communicate well to a wide range of people and audiences.
If you think you’re up to the challenge, please email your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org
By Benjamin Pfeffer
This week, Britain’s PRs arrived at their desks on Monday to be greeted by news that the Duchess of Cambridge had gone into labour. The deluge of news stories, Tweets and Facebook updates within the first hour at the office will have been greeted with an audible groan by many (depending on whether you had a campaign hinging on the event – she had to start first thing on a Monday, didn’t she?)
The birth of the latest Royal had been marked in PR calendars since the news of Kate’s pregnancy was announced and has been anticipated to be the feel-good news event of the year. Interest in the Royal family has hit new heights in recent years, with the Royal wedding breaking records at the time for live streaming and the event dominating social media traffic for days before and after, so it represents a perfect opportunity to generate some strong coverage. The announcement that Kate had gone into labour kick-started the oftentimes stressful, exhausting birth – of well-prepared PR campaigns around the country.
But there are no newly-minted laws enshrining equality among the reigning in PR - with such a national media event, only the strongest campaigns win out. Here are those that impressed us most:
Courtesy of Asda
Asda cleverly elected to create its PR stunt ahead of the big day, when interest was high but information (and competing stunts) were thinner on the ground. The supermarket chain converted a parking spot at its branch in Llangefni, Anglesey (the Duke and Duchesses ‘local’ store) into a dedicated Royal space, complete with guard.
Yes, even the media got in on the publicising action. Following The Sun’s rather tepid lookalike stunt (later redeemed by rebranding as ‘The Son’), The Guardian led the way with a simple yet ingenious ‘Republican’ button on its website, hiding any Royal baby news for those wanting to seek refuge from the incessant reporting.
The move garnered widespread approval from readers and others online, with the site able to effortlessly carve a space for itself among the deafening media buzz on the day of the announcement. The Guardian positioned itself as the news site to go to, whether you wanted the latest Royal baby news – or not!
Following the announcement, brands were quick to share their congratulations (some a little misguidedly perhaps, and Tumblr ‘Royally Desperate’ was quick to name and shame those with them most tenuous links). Of course, it helps if you have a prominent, prime bit of real estate from which to shout your message, as BT did from the tower in the heart of London.
Courtesy of Niagara Parks/ Facebook
And real estate doesn’t get much more prime than the spectacular Commonwealth tourist destination Niagara Falls, which was illuminated blue in celebration by the park’s operators. Such stunts are simple concepts, but make for an incredibly striking image, and this one ran around the world both on news sites and social media.
And what did we here at Smith & Smith do?
Well, as a PR and inbound marketing agency predominantly working within the B2B sector, most of our clients are technology firms, recruitment agencies and the like, with little interest in selling products or services off the back of the Royal baby’s birth. So we haven’t been caught up in the manic PR rush this week, instead raising our commemorative Wills and Kate mugs and toasting the arrival of the young Prince, and the many interesting PR campaigns born alongside him.
From Triumph to Disaster; the Power of the PR Stunt
As our MD, Nathan Smith, took to the BBC’s airwaves to discuss how Greenpeace protesters scaled The Shard as a way of garnering publicity, we thought we’d take a closer look into the (often rather wacky) world of PR stunts and the value they hold.
For its part, the motivation for this particular stunt by the environmental charity and its six female protesters was loud and clear; to encourage people to sign a petition in support of stopping Shell from drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic.
And their efforts to climb western Europe’s highest building, standing at 308 metres, went viral, sending Twitter into a tailspin and gaining the top ‘most read’ spots on all the major news sites.
This wasn’t some spur of the moment protest, but an extremely well-planned one that was designed to capture as much attention as possible towards the organisation’s cause.
Greenpeace carefully chose the location because it sits in the middle of the oil company's three headquarters and because the building was modelled on a shard of ice.
A spokesman said the climbers were all well-trained and that the challenge was ‘difficult but not dangerous’. Upon reaching the summit they unveiled a banner that read ‘Save the Arctic’.
The demonstrators even streamed the climb live from helmet cameras, with birds-eye views of their ascent being broadcast.
Greenpeace ultimately hopes that this exercise will affect a shift in Shell’s approach to its activity in the North Pole area.
But as Nathan pointed out on BBC World’s Have Your Say programme, for how long will this stunt capture the imagination of the public? It’s all very well having global attention on the day in question and perhaps during several ensuing ones but what can Greenpeace do now to keep up the momentum and continue the dialogue into the long-term?
This remains to be seen in the case of the charity’s latest shock-inducing endeavour and should certainly be interesting to see play out over the coming weeks and months, given its PR team’s inventive approach to date.
Several PR stunts that have caught our eye of late include:
Pic from prexamples.com
Just this week, Philips took advantage of Colgate in a reactive stunt by rapidly launching a tongue-in-cheek campaign to mock its rivals.
It all started when Colgate set up a promotional stall at London Waterloo that ended up being run amok by bargain hunters.
The idea was you could swap any old electric toothbrush for one worth £170, but the stall was closed down by 9.30am due to crowd numbers and the 750 products running out.
Within 24 hours, rival Philips ran an advert in The Times and Evening Standard poking fun at the mishap.
The strapline read: “The best things in life aren’t free” and below this “And worth every penny”.
This quick and witty reaction turned negative attention to Colgate into a positive perception of Philips, a true PR coup.
Pic from prexamples.com
Mr Darcy emerging from the lake in ’that’ scene is famous for attracting the attention of the ladies but a PR company recently took this one step further by using the idea of it to launch a new UKTV channel, Drama TV.
A survey commissioned by the channel saw the scene voted the most iconic TV moment in British drama, so recreating it with a giant version of Darcy was always going to turn heads. They had a 12ft version of him appear from the Serpentine in Hyde Park in a photo-led stunt.
This resulted in endless national print and online coverage, just going to show that big really is better.
Pic from managementoday.co.uk
Virgin founder Richard Branson is synonymous with creating his own company's PR. He is famous for selling flights into space and attempting to fly around the world in hot air balloons but his latest, and perhaps most bizarre endeavour, came when he dressed up as an air hostess in May after losing a Grand Prix bet with AirAsia chief executive Tony Fernandez two years ago.
He might have been forced to wear a red AirAsia uniform to do so but never more did we have the brand name Virgin firmly lodged in our heads. This stunt grabbed people’s attention but the consensus was that a Richard in drag did not the prettiest sight make.
Are there any outlandish or witty stunts that have caught your eye? If so drop us a line as we’d love to hear about them.
By Benjamin Pfeffer
What makes the best type of content? Well, the answer is both incredibly straightforward and simultaneously complicated.
The best content is anything your audience will engage with and share.
It’s that simple. And that difficult. Because there’s no way to truly know what people will appreciate, laugh at, or find valuable. But a pretty safe bet is to latch on to events that hold the public interest and provide content with a unique, entertaining angle. So-called ‘reactive content’ can capture the minds of social media users and raise brand awareness far more effectively than an interruptive advert.
Last weekend, @adidasUK were incredibly quick off the mark, posting a congratulatory Tweet and image within minutes of sponsored tennis player Andy Murray’s historic victory at Wimbledon, which gained over 3,000 retweets in under 24 hours:
This got us thinking of some of the other great reactive Tweets sent by brands over the last year – here are three more we loved.
In February 2013, the self-styled ‘biggest sporting event in town’ started as America (and those interested enough to stay up until 4am here in the UK) sat down to watch the American Football final, Superbowl XLVII. Unfortunately, no-one seemed to have told the electricians that a game was on, as the power to the floodlights cut out mid-game. With half-time adverts during the event infamously costing millions of dollars, @Oreo cheekily grabbed a chance for some great (cheap!) publicity with this speedy response, earning nearly 16,000 retweets:
Proving that the best reactive content can be a simple message or idea that’s well-executed and doesn’t need an in-house team of designers on standby, @NandosUK carved a space for itself following the announcement that Manchester United’s long-standing manager Sir Alex Ferguson was retiring. The tweet playfully referenced the long-running joke that Ferguson was given additional ‘stoppage time’ when his side needed it, and is particularly well-orchestrated in that the chain’s Manchester restaurants really did stay open for a bit of extra time that day!
Perhaps our favourite brand for the speed and cleverness of its content is @Specsavers, whose ‘Should’ve Gone To Specsavers’ tagline must be a dream for creatives ready to jump on prominent misunderstandings. The past year has seen the team produce incredibly quick print ad placements in papers the day after events ably supported by social media interaction, brilliantly blending digital PR and marketing with advertising. Highlights include an ad poking fun at a linesman’s mistake during England’s football game against Ukraine in Euro 2012, one aimed at football player Eden Hazard after he mistakenly kicked a ballboy and, our personal favourite, one after the South Korean flag was accidentally hoisted before a women’s Olympic football match in place of arch-nemesis North Korea’s:
As all of the examples show, large sporting events and moments are the ideal scenario to piggyback - they interest the widest audiences and produce the most chatter on social media. The lessons for those looking to create really compelling content are straightforward; identifying the perfect moment is half of the battle, then be quick and be funny.
Most of all, don’t be afraid to be a little bit daring.
As a journalism undergraduate, I witnessed and participated in endless debates about how the internet would change media consumption. With print publications already in serious, rapid decline, the prospect of completely free news that could be updated 24/7 seemed to sound the final death knell for traditional media. Institutions like the Financial Times experimented with paid-for online content to support their print counterparts, but many others believed the nature of the internet meant articles should be free and accessible to all.
Almost a decade on and print media is still alive and kicking, while online content is firmly here to stay, as a recent report from KPMG proves. David Elms, KPMG's head of media, said: “Although UK consumers have been brought up on a diet of free digital content, attitudes are slowly beginning to change. UK consumers are beginning to acknowledge the perks of paying for the digital content. ”
The KPMG report highlights a decline in the number of hours Britons spend watching TV, reading books and browsing social media sites compared with previous years, but consumers are spending more on eBooks, apps and online games. As a result, KPMG advises media companies to seriously assess their pricing strategies when it comes to charging for online content.
The growing value and evolution of this medium is something we're well aware of as experts in the inbound marketing theory. Nobody wants to be spoon-fed churned out content that has little or no relevance to them. Consumers are increasingly savvy at spotting the content that's worth spending time reading and that which will be sent straight to the recycling bin.
Businesses must recognise this fact and think carefully about formulating a strong content strategy that provides real value to their audience. Viewing digital content as more of a traditional commodity with a tangible value may well be the first step to developing this solid plan. If consumers are willing to pay for something they can access online - whether the price is their money or precious time – providers must recognise their sense of duty to create content that's worth it.
To read more about inbound marketing and how this links with PR, read our blog.
Twitter, in its seemingly endless strive to monetise its platform, this week introduced to the wider world a new Twitter Card designed for lead generation, which it has been trialling with select partners. Cards have become ubiquitous since their introduction, allowing for the embedding of rich content such as pictures, video and Vines into tweets.
Up until this point, advertising on Twitter has been fairly interruptive, with promoted tweets invasively appearing on timelines or as trending topics. True, the system has been refined since its introduction with the type of content you are hit with now tailored according to those you follow and the interests of your followers, but it is still fairly obtrusive to see that little orange arrow denoting an advert in your timeline.
So-called Lead Generation Cards could be the first step towards addressing this problem, possibly making the interactions between brands and fans far more social. According to the developer announcement:
“The Lead Generation Card makes it easy for users to express interest in what your brand offers. Users can easily and securely share their email address with a business without leaving Twitter or having to fill out a cumbersome form. When someone expands your Tweet, they see a description of the offer and a call to action. Their name, @username, and email address are already pre-filled within the Card. The user simply clicks a button to send this information directly (and securely) to you.”
Lead generation and calls to action, do the phrases ring any bells?
That’s right, Twitter seems to be embracing inbound marketing, with it being fully integrated into the experience, as users will be able to spread valuable or noteworthy content and an accompanying call to action amongst themselves. This idea is game-changing in terms of social media and brands marketing themselves. For PR firms, too, this new functionality could become a valuable tool when conducting social media campaigns both in terms of interaction and monitoring results.
It will be fascinating to see how PR agencies welcome inbound marketing and creatively adapt the lead generation approach to the constraints of Twitter. So far, social media has been used primarily to support campaigns by raising awareness or driving traffic to content housed elsewhere rather than lead them, but that could all change if this tool takes off.
Now that the option will be there, it’s up to marketers, advertisers and PR professionals to do what we do best; provide compelling, shareable content.
The Smith & Smith team has attended dozens of tradeshows over the years, the most recent being Optrafair, the biggest event in the UK optical sector’s calendar.
You simply cannot put a price on the value of events such as this. It is these opportunities that afford businesses the chance to conduct vital, face-to-face meetings, find out the latest industry news and network with key contacts.
It is also a great time to catch up with friends and partners and there a number of steps that companies can take to maximise the time they spend there and at similar shows.
When it comes to such events, forward planning is both crucial and a fine art to say the least, one that we have had plenty of experience in perfecting.
To get the most from attending or investing in a stand, you need to have a strategy. Knowing what you would like to accomplish before, during, and afterwards will help to optimise your time there.
Our top tips for attendees include:
- Avoid confusion on the day by pre-registering for a pass and know which stands you need to visit, the items you need to purchase and the product lines you would most like to sell. Time is limited and the worst thing you can do is wander aimlessly around a show.
- An updated show guide will probably be provided when you arrive. Take some time to carefully look through it and revise your plan if necessary. See which suppliers are attending and visit early to book appointments.
- It might sound obvious but make sure your badge is in plain sight while browsing tradeshow booths as this will make it easier for people to offer you relevant advice or help. Request that literature and samples be emailed to you instead of having to carry them around for an entire day.
- Take advantage of specials, discounts and sales so that you are able to source bargains, making the trip truly worth your while.
- Allocate time to see and speak with new suppliers and not just companies with whom you are already doing business so that you can keep abreast of the latest industry happenings.
- Check out the seminar and workshop programme beforehand as there might be some exciting new developments and useful sessions to benefit from.
Our top tips for exhibitors include:
- Know your inventory needs before the show, set appointments with anyone you would really like to meet and only bring the people from your business who can add value; whether it is your best salesperson or most inspired designer.
- Contact the show beforehand to make sure you have made the most of all opportunities to feature in listings, any free editorial or news items on the website. Your PR agency can do this for you.
- Let your contacts and customers know you are going to be there. The best deals could come from a walk-on prospect, not just via appointments.
- Draft a press release about your latest ranges to leave at the press room. This will give journalists who attend ready-made information to include in a round-up of the event. If you have staff available, perhaps even consider making appointments with key magazines if you do not have a PR agency.
- Check freight costs and delivery dates and keep a log of all orders placed so that you do not let any existing or new customers down or worse, miss an opportunity.
- Bring plenty of business cards to hand out to potential leads. Do not be afraid to introduce yourself to as many people as possible and attend seminars and workshops where possible that will help to grow your business.
- After the show, identify if your objectives were met and if the cost of attending had a positive long-term effect for you and your business. Follow up on all leads, no matter how weak.
- Evaluate if you had not attended the tradeshow, what would have been the cost and time to achieve the same amount of business.
- You or your PR agency should follow up on all editorial appointments and opportunities. Make sure you honour promises such as a blog post or feature offering.
If you carefully plan your approach and use your time efficiently, you will be confident in knowing the time you spent at the show, either as an exhibitor or an attendee, was a worthwhile investment.
Inbound marketing, particularly in the hustle and bustle of the consumer arena, can be a tricky business. Creating funny, engaging, shareable content which people will engage with on behalf of a brand is an inexact science, but one medium which has enjoyed more success than most for inbound marketers is short, viral videos.
But no-one can accurately predict what people will like, what they will share and the holy grail, what will go viral. For car manufacturers, perhaps most of all, the need for original content is essential, as they work in one of the most competitive industries out there, with billions spent in marketing and advertising each year. Get it right, as Volkwagen did with its adorable 2011 ‘The Force’ clip, and a relatively inexpensive video with the germ of an idea gains you priceless global exposure; with nearly 60 million shares and international media coverage, this ranks as one of the most successful video content campaigns to date.
To stand out from the crowd, content needs to be, above all, original. And to achieve this, sometimes creators overstep the bounds of good taste. Volkwagen had hit the headlines years earlier for a highly controversial clip marketing the ‘small but tough’ new polo, featuring a suicide bomber. The company denied all knowledge of the ad, and proceeded to sue its creators, but the brand took plenty of damage nonetheless.
This week, a car brand’s inbound marketing content has again been hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons, as Hyundai drew the fierce ire of commentators on social media, blogs and newspapers. The company reportedly released an advert designed to promote the zero emissions of its new model featuring a realistic portrayal of a man trying to kill himself in his garage with exhaust fumes. Following a storm of protests, the ad was almost immediately pulled - but the damage lingers on, as more and more people join the debate. That’s the double-edged sword of viral content; when it takes hold, there’s really no way to stop it.
As our background is in public relations, we’ve been very interested in the way that inbound marketing has once again been viewed as totally separate from PR, and how that no doubt Hyundai’s crisis management team is now working furiously, and largely hopelessly, to douse the flames when had they been consulted initially, the false move may have been averted.
The entire incident serves to illustrate the necessity of having a PR agency or in-house PR team fully briefed when external teams are creating inbound marketing content as public relations, particularly crisis management, is not something which works at its best when brought into play after the fact. Just as often, good PR is about heading off disaster as fighting it.
Better yet, why not make the PR agency, whose job it is to create great content for you anyway, solely responsible for your inbound marketing? We think it’s too elegant a solution to be ignored, which is why we’ve added inbound marketing to our armoury.
What is inbound marketing and what does it have to do with a PR agency in South Manchester? Inbound marketing is about publishing the right content, in the right place at the right time, making marketing relevant and helpful – not interruptive. See any similarities to public relations yet?
There are many facets and tools that PR agencies are skilled at in order to achieve a number of things for your business, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to reputation. Whether that’s managing your reputation in the event of a crisis, raising awareness of your company’s reputation within a specific area or for a product or a service, leveraging your reputation through public affairs – the list can be exhaustive but the results are the same: making sure you have good relations with all of your company’s stakeholders. But Smith & Smith PR has been looking very closely at what has been happening with inbound marketing and working on how we, as a PR agency, can use our skills in content creation and communication to generate leads for clients.
The infographic was designed and recreated by Sally King from SK Graphic Design www.skgraphicdesign.co.uk/. (CC) Gavin Llewellyn.
According to Hubspot, who Smith & Smith PR has chosen to work with as one of their first UK partners, inbound marketing has been the most effective marketing method for doing business online since 2006 – and that was 7 years ago!
It looks at replacing paid-for email lists and paying for ads, (much in the way PR looks at other methods of raising awareness than paying for advertising), with creating quality content to draw people to your company and product in a natural and buyer-led way. Hubspot’s methodology is that “by aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time”.
Here are some compelling stats:
· According to MarketingSherpa, 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance
· Relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails. (Source: Jupiter Research)
· The Annuitas Group found that nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads
· Companies that automate lead management see a 10 per cent or greater increase in revenue in 6-9 months. (Source: Gartner Research)
Inbound marketing is a natural addition to our service offering at Smith & Smith PR. After all, we are all about creating high-quality, relevant content – be that for media relations, internal comms, your company blog or newsletter, or equally, your inbound marketing workflows.
We are excited to be offering this to our clients as a way to make marketing a more powerful business tool and to work alongside PR to generate leads. Inbound marketing isn’t suited to every business, but if you want to know if it will work for you, why not request our inbound marketing assessment and we’ll get you to do some homework.
To find out more about what we are doing with PR and Hubspot, or to take the inbound marketing assessment please give us a call, or email, email@example.com.
I’m a huge believer in the value of public relations; to think otherwise while doing this job would be an exercise in extreme masochism, and that’s just not my thing.
However, the issue of ROI is one that has plagued the PR industry since its inception, and it’s a major obstacle for a marketing manager in justifying PR spend to their boss.
The objective for companies that invest in PR varies from reputation-management to lead-generation, but one thing that most PRs agree on is that advertising value equivalent (AVE) is not an accurate way to measure the success of a campaign.
AVE involves measuring the column inches of editorial then working out how much the company would have paid for that space in advertising. But the question that companies really want to know the answer to is: did this make a difference?
In 2010 many of the public relations industry bodies agreed on seven principles for measuring PR, one of which is that the effect of public relations on business results can and should be measured where possible. While this makes it very clear that measurement can be achieved, unfortunately the principle is not so effusive on how.
The answer, in my humble opinion, is gradually coming to light as the world moves further online, and all that needs to happen is for the entire global public relations industry to completely redefine itself. Okay, perhaps not, but there does need to be a small step further towards marketing.
Here’s the crux of my argument: on the internet, content is king (just ask Google). It’s also the thing that any PR worth their salt excels at producing. The key is making sure that you are writing stuff that your target audience will find, that they value it, and that it speaks to the strengths of your company.
For businesses, this means having a blog integrated into your website, regularly updated with searchable, useful content aimed directly at your potential customers. The next step is for your audience, having read said useful article, to be able to click a button for more substantially relevant stuff in return for giving you, say, their name, email and industry.
Now you have a measurable, justifiable lead that can be nurtured into a new customer. Okay, it’s not traditional PR, it’s not blogger relations and it won’t help your company’s reputation if it gets in a pickle. But it’s a great way to start properly targeting and measuring the effect of the content you’re producing on your business.
It’s called ‘inbound marketing’ and it’s something that we’re already doing at Smith & Smith. We think it’s the future.