A Round Up of the PR Stories You May Have Missed

Although short but sweet (due to the Easter break) there have been some interesting stories this week – I’m sure you’ve been reading about the continued panic over the Heartbleed security breach and Amazon’s 3D phone announcement. However, I’ve highlighted a few PR related stories you may have missed, including the announcement of the finalists of the EMEA SABRE Awards, Google’s struggle with mobile, another high profile social media fail and, controversial to some, Facebook triumphing over Twitter in marketing friendliness.

We had very exciting news in the onechocolate camp this week as the finalists for the prestigious EMEA SABRE Awards were announced and we were delighted to find out that we’ve been shortlisted in the telecommunications category! Our entry, entitled: Amdocs – Unsung Hero Behind Making Telecoms Fit for the Millennial Digital Generation” outlined our work with the company to demonstrate how ‘behind the scenes’ customer experience management systems enable telecom operators to meet the demands of the Millennial generation and address the big data deluge. Congratulations to all the other nominees, and we look forward to the awards ceremony on May 20th!

SABRE

In other, non-onechocolate, news it was announced today that Google’s shares dropped by 5% despite a 19% quarterly profit increase year-on-year to $15.4bn. The reason attributed to this drop is Google’s struggle to keep up with those such as Facebook in adapting to mobile marketing. We’ve previously written about the shift to mobile and the importance of adapting PR strategy to incorporate mobile and it’s clearly important, even for giants like Google, to be adapting to the new generation of ‘always connected’ consumers.

google

Another week, another social media fail. This time it was US Airways who were forced to apologise for an obscene photo which was tweeted from their account, in response to a woman making a complaint. They claimed they had tried to flag the image as indecent but instead managed to attach it to another tweet. US Airways have issued an apology and are investigating the incident.

US AIRWAYS

However the damage was already done for US Airways as the picture, which was left up for over an hour, went viral, being re-tweeted thousands of times. It’s now essential that US Airways handle the controversy in the right manner to turn it around; like O2 did when their network went down last year. They responded to complaints in a manner in-line with their target market and cleverly managed to turn negative feelings towards the brand positive.

Another social media story which caught my eye this week was that, according to research by DMA, Facebook has beaten Twitter as the most ‘marketing friendly’ social media site. The research was compiled by asking 171 UK-based marketers to rate social media platforms in the areas of campaign planning, execution and post-campaign analysis. Facebook came top in all three categories while LinkedIn came second, Twitter third, and YouTube and Google+ were fourth and fifth. However, within the categories, Twitter emerged as the marketer’s preferred platform for its effectiveness in building brand awareness and LinkedIn as the best platform for its user targeting tools. Interestingly, image and video based platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram, Vimeo and Snapchat were only being used by a handful of the marketers and therefore, were not included in the results. However, this is something which is projected to change as marketers increasingly incorporate visual’s into their social media strategy.

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Trainspotting Lessons for Getting Digital PR Running Smoothly

Getting little details wrong is like snatching defeat from the jaws of digital PR victory.

I’m reminded of this by something I see every working morning but have only just worked out.

I travel on the UK’s fastest commuter train every day, zooming from the South Coast of England into London.

Because my Southeastern train shares the same high speed line as the Eurostar Express to France, it goes almost as fast.  So it is a super sophisticated train built by Hitachi and is a direct descendant of the famous bullet trains from Japan.

When I get off at St Pancras, a female train employee is striding in the opposite direction to the passengers pouring  off the train.

She carries a tablet, computer and a little stick. For a long time this stick has fascinated me;  it’s not much longer than a school boy’s ruler and has a lollipop shaped end.

I didn’t work out what she did with it until today. It seems my super tech train is festooned with little cameras that tell the driver all the doors are closed. As we shoot along at 200 kph, these cameras get splattered with bugs and their messy corpses are rubbed off using the lollipop end of the stick.

So what’s my long-winded point?

Well it’s nice analogy for how even the most sophisticated digital PR fails when the basics are neglected. The equivalent of the low tech but super effective stick is, for example, proofing web copy with your eyes and a dictionary rather than spellchecker. Or, not checking for broken links or corrupt files. A lot can be automated in digital PR but your base line for success is so often spending the time to do practical checks like my mysterious station worker.

The only question remaining is why does she carry a tablet? A spot of Amazon shopping or Netflix-ing  to sooth the tedium of wiping squashed flies off CCTV cameras? Perhaps I should ask her.

 

southeastern train

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Poor writing spells disaster for PR agencies

The PR Skills Gap Survey published this week by PRmoment, (fast establishing itself as a fresh and interesting alternative to PR Week), made for a thought-provoking read.

Produced in conjunction with the PRCA, the survey compared the recruitment demands of public relations hirers with the skill sets of public relations candidates.

Two things surprised me. Firstly, the worrying revelation that writing ability currently accounts for one of the biggest skills gaps in our industry. Whilst 85% of PR agencies surveyed said that they rated writing as very important, a whopping 40% admitted that their businesses were lacking in this area.

Given that the creation of high quality content has never been more vital to the success of both B2B and consumer campaigns, and all aspects of multi-channel communications for that matter, this is extraordinary. Writing is at the heart of a PR professional’s skill set, so surely most agencies would consider this a core strength?

Whether communications professionals are tasked with writing copy for a blog, a company update for LinkedIn, a whitepaper or an opinion article, an e-shot, or site copy for a micro-site or an app, clients quite rightly expect that copy and all related marketing messaging to be on brand, incisive, intelligent, and engaging. That it must be ‘well-written’ is taken as read.

In-house teams loathe nothing more than having to spend hours rewriting material produced by their PR agency. A bit of ‘red pen’ action is to be expected – it’s part of the editing and approvals process – but why hire an agency if you have to re-write their content from scratch?  We’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve heard this complaint from clients who approach us with new business briefs.

At onechocolate, writing tests are a key part of our recruitment process. Candidates who fail to meet our required standards of ability don’t get through the door. In order to ensure a high level of professional and personal development, we also offer on-going training through our oneAcademy programme to take our new recruits to the next level.

Our writing is so strong, that a client recently said:

 

“Bloody hell, that reads really well. You are geniuses – I love it. No edits…why ‘gild the lily?’ Thanks so much.”

 

The other thing that struck me about the PR Skills Gap Survey was the inadequate reference to comment about writing ability in relation to digital marketing and the writing skills required for services such as social media community management.

Given that the future of our industry is unquestionably digital, it is alarming that social and digital PR was hardly touched upon in the report.

The majority of the questions were focused around writing skills for ‘traditional’ PR: communications, planning, project management and thought leadership. There were only four questions relating to digital PR out of a total of 13 survey questions.

However, I do agree with Founder of PRmoment, Ben Smith’s review of the findings. He concludes: “Public relations is a market in disruption, it is undergoing huge change. The skills sets required in PR now are radically different to 2 or 3 years ago. On the buy side of PR recruitment it seems many PR teams have an uneven balance of skills required for today’s public relations market. On the sell side, candidates need to look at the skills required and embrace these new areas so that they don’t become PR dinosaurs.”

Power of Words

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What does the Oculus VR Purchase mean for Digital PR?

Another week, another purchase for Facebook. The one that sent the Internet into a frenzy last week was the purchase of Oculus VR for $2bn.

While this move caused concern amongst the gaming community and some of Europe’s leading developers (namely, that Facebook’s involvement could be detrimental to the core gaming experience), many are already beginning to ponder the positive developments in social media this may bring about.

Combining the worlds of social media and virtual reality offers a brand new set of challenges and creative outlets for digital PR.  But it doesn’t start and end with gaming alone. The key message for digital marketers is that this new relationship could soon present a wealth of opportunities for brands  both in and out of the gaming sphere. Mark Zuckerberg himself is quoted as saying:

“Imagine enjoying a court-side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world, consulting with a doctor face-to-face, or going shopping in a virtual store where you can touch and explore the products you’re interested in just by putting on goggles in your own home.”

Being able to offer consumers experiential activity in the digital space of virtual reality is now something marketers, digital PR agencies and brands can actually consider planning for, which is a truly exciting prospect.

This development is the latest milestone in the stratospheric rise of the wearable tech trend. With tech giants such as Microsoft investing $150m in VR headsets, and Sony showing off its latest VR offering at GDC, all signs are pointing to virtual reality becoming a key component in any current or next-gen tech venture.

 

Oculus

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#happybirthdayTwitter

This time eight years ago, five words started off a social media frenzy. Who knew that eight years later, the site, which started with the words ‘Just setting up my twttr’ would have over 15m active registered users and 300bn posts in the UK alone. And its eighth one has been quite the hectic year, with celebrity selfies, a royal baby , an IPO and a lot of trolls.  Not only that, but ‘tweet’ actually made it into the Oxford English Dictionary!

To celebrate its birthday, Twitter is letting its users journey back to their very #firsttweet, which in onechocolate’s case was back in August 2008: “I am right in the middle of something”. Over 3,500 tweets later, it’s safe to say that we, over here at onechocolate communications, are big fans of Twitter. As a digital PR agency, we incorporate social media into everything we do, helping our clients to build their brands on the social media platforms that work for them. And Twitter is definitely among the top players for both B2B and consumer brands.

As Twitter has grown over the last eight years (although its limit of 140 characters has stayed the same), so has B2B companies’ confidence in using it. In fact, according to Forrester’s B2B Social Technographics numbers, 100% of business decision makers are now using social media for work purposes. Twitter is no longer just a platform for celebrities to share what they had for breakfast, it’s a great communications tool for both professionals and brands. It’s also a place for B2B companies to develop their online presence, speak to a wider audience than ever seemed possible, and interact with influential members of their target community.

So as Twitter hits eight – you grew up so fast! – businesses need to be thinking hard about the best strategy for them to effectively position themselves as industry experts, whilst at the same time using the social media site to reach specific business-related goals. It’s no longer a question of should my company be on Twitter but rather if we’re not on it, why not?

Twitter's 8th Birthday

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