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About this blog
The Firefly blog features news, views, buzz and ideas around the PR and communications industry.
Social trends, PR and social media tools, communications strategies, attention grabbing WOM campaigns, entertainment hotspots, running integrated and pan-European campaigns, safeguarding reputations and managing crises are just some of the topics we’re talking about.
I can’t imagine a world when PR people pitched stories without email and the web, but according to our CEO that was the case when she set-up Firefly. Now, in this digital age, we’re likely to catch the interest of journalists and bloggers on Twitter, with some even asking us to only pitch to them this way – you know who you are!
Personally, Twitter would be the only social media channel I would use to pitch (and I do use it in a selective way) but I recently found out that an online marketing agency in the US is suggesting a new medium; LinkedIn ads. So, how does it work? Essentially, PRs write a pitch that is no longer than 75 characters; there really is no room whatsoever for fluff. This text goes into an ad where reporters can click through to see more information. The upsides to this are that:
- You have a clear way of measuring interest
- This is not a disruptive form of pitching
- You learn to hone your pitch to the really important bits
The downside? Unfortunately, for me there are many:
- It costs money
- It makes it harder to tailor pitches
- Slow turnaround
- It’s impersonal
- You’re not part of the process, so can’t add value like you can in a conversation
Most importantly, I would feel – and I’m sure many PRs would agree – like this is a very passive approach. When you’re motivated to get the best results for your clients, sitting back and waiting for a response wouldn’t work for me. However, maybe there is scope to use this approach in tandem with more traditional outreach mediums such as phone and email? It makes sense, but the returns on investment still need to be proven.
As previously written about on the Firefly blog, we have been particularly interested in the branding guidelines for the summer Games.
Well, as the games are now underway we thought we would have a look at how brands have been reacting. It seems that a lot of people want to show their support for Team GB and the Games but, like a middle-aged mother looking after some over-excited toddlers at a birthday party, LOCOG are trying to control the fun; well it’s their party and if your name’s not down, you’re not allowed to display the rings.
However, it seems that as hard as they try, these regulations are backfiring. Data from Experian shows that following the ban of Pepsi clothing at the games, Pepsi.co.uk saw a traffic increase of 53% to their site, while official sponsor Coca-Cola’s corporate site traffic fell by 69%. Official sponsor Adidas.co.uk also saw a 20% drop in visitor numbers this Sunday, while non-sponsor Nike saw a 16% increase in traffic.
We have collected below some of our favourite competitors of the new Olympic sport we are calling LOCOG Dodgeball. If you find any more, please do take a pic and tweet them to us @firefly_comms.
Mens-hire.co.uk has produced this window display featuring some strategic typos and square rings.
Cheeky older brother, Paddy Power has sponsored an egg-and-spoon race in the city of ‘London’ in France reports The Drum, which means that there is nothing the LOCOG police can do about their billboard below. We particularly like the official Olympic venues sign post below this shot. Bravo Paddy Power, bravo.
Everybody’s favourite offy, Oddbins also wants to play ball. Slightly passive aggressively yet hugely amusing, we think we are more tempted to buy this bottle of sparkling rosé than the Official Olympic toothbrush.
Original Penguin UK have also been participating over email, thanks to @dangrech for sending over this email alert featuring their trademark penguin in some active shots decorated with some beautifully placed punctuation.
And as the Games are taking place in Britain, it’s only right that we have a royal entry. Representing the Royals in LOCOG Dodgeball are The Middletons. The family business, Party Pieces is advertising on their website a range of ‘party pieces’ under the tab of ‘Celebrate the Games;’ one ‘party piece’ is an Olympic ring coloured ring toss game. Cheeky – and a step too far? – which according to The Mail Online could result in a £20,000 fine.
The brand police are also active inside the Olympic Park. We heard this week that LOCOG has asked volunteers to empty any non-Olympic sponsor snacks in to a clear plastic bag, which does bring a nice image to mind: people packed in to tents in the Olympic village, carefully decanting their Wotsits into zip lock bags.
Let’s see who the real winners are after the Games.
Middletons The Mail Online
By Stuart Rock, Founder & Editorial Director, Real Business
I have lost count of the number of companies that I have visited since I first started my career in business journalism, more than 25 years ago.
Some companies are destined to be forgettable. They are grey (literally) organisations, with unmemorable products and services. Their buildings are the same. So is their vocabulary. Even the executives are interchangeable. I won’t identify any particular sectors, that would be unfair – but we all know where to find them.
Others are destined to be memorable. They make extraordinary things, or are behind extraordinary achievements. Think of the Eden Project, the Bloodhound Project, Help for Heroes. Others have earned their capacity to stand out, from many years of success. You want to meet and touch these companies because of their track record and demonstrable world-class status. Think Dyson, Rolls-Royce, John Lewis, Sunseeker.
Many companies, of course, can’t fit into the latter two categories. So how not to be in the first, the forgettable? Here are my observations – drawn from experience and memory, rather than structured research.
Be real. Talk about the company – what it does, how it’s doing – in accessible language. Don’t hide the blemishes. A company that is prepared to acknowledge its threats and weaknesses provides a far more rounded and memorable understanding.
Be honest. A business that is not afraid to talk about its financial as well as its business model will always stand out. Do I understand how you make your money?
Be interesting. Explain the marketplace. It doesn’t have to be the CEO who does this – although that really helps – but a company that will interpret “what’s going on out there” rather than just pontificate about its own strengths and opportunities, always gets my attention. I want to know why companies do what they do, not just what they do. Even better are the ones who can tell you with clarity and context. Do I understand your difference?
Be successful. Absolute scale is not what is memorable; it’s the quality and nature of the success.
Lastly, it’s easy to place all this on the shoulders of the CEO. Sometimes that’s dangerous. A really fascinating company can be obscured by a cliché-toting, overbearing CEO. But a CEO who is straightforward and enthusiastic, and who conveys deep knowledge of what makes the company tick, really does play a big part in making a business stand out.
You can follow Stuart on Twitter: @stuart_rock
About Real Business: Established in 1997, Real Business was the UK’s first magazine for entrepreneurs and growing mid-sized and smaller businesses. Today, Stuart and his team run the UK’s most active network of high-growth businesses, spotlighting the achievements and challenges of this vital segment of the economy.
By Beatrice Aidin, award-wining freelance consumer journalist
In a commercial property unit late last summer, I got that jolt in my stomach that means one of two things. Had I fallen in love, I asked myself? No. But nearly as good, I was onto a good potential story.
A few weeks later, the subject (a customized off-site wardrobe operated by an iPad app for the super-rich) became an article in the Financial Times.
What happened on that journey from potential story, to publication in such a prestigious title?
Well, first off I was offered an exclusive. Secondly, competitive analysis demonstrated that the subject matter was one of a kind. Thirdly, the PR had the facts and figures at her finger-tips. And last but by no means least, the PR encouraged me to see the venture and took the time to arrange it. The fact that the PR person was open to just letting me see the offering beyond her description, was the most appealing aspect.
Being a freelance consumer journalist as I am, has lots of advantages. The one that I would highlight the most is being able to take the experience that PRs offer you. For the difference in consumer media in the last decade has become that the experience is ever-more crucial to the reporting. Searching online has its place, but now every 6 year old in the world seems to know how to Google. Journalism now is visceral and has to be from a position of a certain amount of authority (bloggers do their good part too here).
So here is where I think we can all learn – the PR, the client, the journalist, alike. When you are looking for a feature for the consumer press, research via overheard conversations on the bus (put down those headphones!) or walking into stores, to notice what is selling and what is not. Are people shopping? Are they carrying designer shopping bags or high street ones – or nothing at all? Read the business pages. It might not be the time to pitch or ask a journalist to write about a new £50 lipstick. If folks can’t afford it, they won’t read your copy – and as a journalist you don’t want to seem as out of touch as say, yikes, a politician.
And that’s why, for most stories in the consumer media, it is a mixture of the new, the experience, the observation backed up by facts and statistics. It is however most importantly a good trusting relationship between a PR and a journalist, with allowances for what the client wants but also what is achievable, especially during this shaky economic climate.
An advantage to working with a freelance consumer journalist on your coverage is that they can spend more time developing an idea and pitching it. The thing about being freelance is that you can seem to waste a lot of time, but the avenues that have been explored normally get re-routed down to a cul-de-sac for a feature in the future.
One take away is one of my fathers’ maxims: ‘Time spent on reconnaissance is time never wasted’. As a freelance journalist if you can, check it out! If you can see all the ideas and products that your readers don’t have access too, then hopefully you will get that stomach rush of a great story. Either that, or lucky you, you are in love.
You can follow Beatrice on Twitter: @beatriceaidin
You can read her blog: http://the-daily-bea.blogspot.com
Beatrice Aidin is Winner of the Johnson & Johnson National Newspaper Journalist of the Year Award, 2011 and the P &G National Newspaper Beauty Journalist 2011.
By Michael Litman, AdAge Top 20 Most Influential PR Blogger in the UK
You’ve asked the question before: “how do we maximise the potential coverage that our campaigns could get on social media?”
Some think that coverage is automatic, it just happens without any work; and don’t understand the detail oriented approach that is required for success. Here are my thoughts on what you really need to do, to give yourself the best chance of making your campaign famous.
In brief, there are five things you’ll need to consider:
- Forward planning
(1) Forward planning
The awareness and exposure piece for any campaign doesn’t happen over night. It takes weeks, if not months of preparation, teamwork and working towards a structured project plan. When people talk about content going viral, it will more often than not, have had some initial support to start the ball rolling. This could be through myriad ways including Facebook ads, video seeding, sponsored tweets, promotion via company newsletter, strong visibility on the company homepage and so on.
Ensuring that a campaign gets heard is a critical part of the work, but this often gets sidelined, forgotten or not even thought about until it’s too late. It takes time and persistence to get mass-coverage, however good the content. The best execution is tailored; and is made easy for the media in question, by providing assets ready for use on social channels.
You need to be thinking at the start, how you would involve and leverage all the owned properties you have which can help with the exposure of the campaign. Again, this is often something that is either forgotten or left until the last minute, and it too is an important factor for success. However great the campaign, if it is an isolated island on the Internet that no-one knows about, it will continue to be just that. Think about everything that could help you. Do you have a newsletter base, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and other social profiles that you can help signpost to your destination?
I’ve run the online PR and social activations on numerous campaigns in the past, and as a blogger myself, I always try to put myself in the shoes of the person I am reaching out to. I ask myself “Would I write about this? Why? What’s the angle? What’s in it for me?” People write about campaigns and content that says something about themselves. Content is currency. People share things to reinforce a perception of their identity or website. Tap in to this.
It really is infectious when someone reaches out to you with a genuine passion for what they are promoting. Especially for a low interest product or service, I always find it valuable to see what the benefit is of getting in touch with your target is in the first place. Of course it helps if there’s some value to the individual reaching out to, along with their friends. Don’t forget personal motives; harness them for your own benefit.
You can follow Michael on Twitter: @mlitman
Michael Litman is a digital strategist, having worked at agencies including Poke and social media planner at Dare.
In his spare time, he is a columnist for Communicate Magazine and writer for other industry leading websites including Mashable, The Kernel, Adverblog, The Wall and .NET magazine. He has worked on social strategies and campaigns for a diverse range of clients ranging from technology, mobile, consumer, hospitality, automotive, FMCG to public sector. You can find his blog at http://www.litmanlive.co.uk/blog.