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Friday, 17th May 2013 at 8:01am
The value of your company and products’ reputation should not be underestimated. Reputation should be treated as an asset. Reputation is everyone’s responsibility. A good reputation buys you the benefit of the doubt when things go wrong.
The toughest lesson is to learn that sometimes it’s not what has happened that is the issue – it’s what people think has happened. Perception is everything.
What is an issue that can affect an organisation’s reputation?
“A condition or event, internal or external to the organisation, that if it continues will have a significant effect on the functioning or performance of the organisation or on its future interests”.
- Staff dispute
- Shortage of stock
- Supplier goes out of business
- Negative comments published online
- Computer virus
- Change in working hours for staff
- Health and Safety
Sign up to relevant Google alerts around your organisation’s name. If appropriate use other software available that will help you monitor mentions online. Be prepared to respond to comments if needed but you must be straightforward about who you are and never let emotional language influence what you are saying.
Do you know who your organisation’s stakeholders are? If not, find out. Stakeholder groups can include employees, clients/customers, opinion formers such as trade associations and professional bodies, your local community, investors in your organisation and key media who will act as commentators on what you are doing.
Don’t wait until there is a problem to engage with people; be proactive wherever you can. This also means getting together with colleagues in other departments to share and help identify potential causes for concern, even if an issue does not actually materialise.
You can gather information to help identify and manage risks via:
- Staff surveys
- Industrial relations
- Customers’ feedback
- Product development teams
- HR and Legal teams
- Health and Safety audits
Think about developing a crisis plan – you may need to get in expert external help. At least have a record of people/agencies that can help you if needed.
What threats can you anticipate? What do you know based on past experience? Do you know how to handle journalists, or who is the nominated person in your organisation that looks after this? This all goes back to having regular dialogue with your colleagues in other departments too – not just when the problem has happened.
Five core tips to get you started:
1. How much access during work time do your employees have to engage with social media and company data?
Blocking access to the internet or certain sites is often seen as the domain of the IT manager, but in today’s workplace this goes beyond merely the computer at your desk.In our networked environment people can access content and store information and data via their phone, tablet or laptop at any time of day. Therefore the rules are changing and your organisation needs to adapt.Expert Jamie Claret (www.amazingsupport.co.uk) suggests for starters you need think about:Good antivirus softwareSimple blocking systemsAdvanced blocking and monitoringPreventing sensitive data leaving your businessThe impact data leakage and wasted time during work hours versus empowering staff with access to these sources.
2. Does your organisation have a clear social media policy?
Social media encompasses a broad range of online activities, all of which can have a marked impact on the credibility, perceptions and awareness of an organisation. Outside the workplace rights to privacy and free speech can protect online activity conducted in someone’s personal social network with that person’s personal email address. However, the inevitable connections that can and are made with someone’s workplace can blur the boundaries. What is your organisation’s policy on this?
3. Have these policies been communicated to all staff?
Are they part of your induction programme?Your policy and procedures need to be communicated – don’t just rely on a document that sits in the drawer. Building this into your employee induction programme or at a team update meeting brings this to the forefront of people’s minds.Are your employees aware of the potential negative impact that online comments can have? Where social media interaction is not used exclusively for business, it is important to provide reasonable guidelines on online behaviour if any reference is made to the workplace. Furthermore you may need to draw attention to matters regarding confidentiality as they relate to your organisation or business, and how this can also cover photos or images posted online for example.
4. Are you aware of how other stakeholders might be looking at your organisation through social media?
Media management is likely to rest with either an external agency or your in-house communications team, or for smaller enterprises with a nominated employee or manager. The press have increasingly turned to social media channels not only regarding breaking news, but also to uncover more intimate details about an organisation.This can also be true of any stakeholders. And content posted online is hard to have removed… therefore you need to be as aware of what is being said about the organisation online, as others will be. Do you have any mechanisms in place to facilitate this?
5. Are you ready to act if something potentially negative happens?
You need to have a contingency plan; whether it’s customers commenting on a faulty product or poor service, or a disgruntled employee out to stir up some reactions or actually carrying out some form of deception. How will you react? Who needs to be aware of a problem as and when it occurs and importantly who should be tasked with sorting it out? Do you have an issues management team and plan? Does this plan map onto the online world?
Friday, 10th May 2013 at 11:31am
As part of The Think Tank's sponsorship of B2B Marketing's Knowledge Bank PR Channel, our PR Director Samantha Dawe has produced a Whitepaper titled 'PR in a changing media landscape'.
The Whitepaper looks at the need for a new mindset in a changing media world. Many commentators have spoken about the basic model for media and marketing being broken. While media fragmentation is seen as a challenge, an expanding range of media options is also an opportunity.
The Whitepaper is free to download either from the B2B Marketing web site or by clicking the link below:
PR in a changing media landscape.pdf (254 kb)
Monday, 6th May 2013 at 3:52pm
The Think Tank is proud to be the sponsor of the PR channel on the B2B Marketing Knowledge Bank, the UK’s premium resource for B2B marketing advice and best practice.
As part of our sponsorship we will be issuing a range of articles, white papers and web casts over the coming months, focussing on Public, Press and Media Relations.
To kick off this sponsorship we have issued the following ‘How To’ guides, case studies and white papers (click on the titles to view):
HOW TO: Survive a press interview
HOW TO: Manage your brand online
CASE STUDY: Permasense turn to The Think Tank to launch new company in risk-averse sector
Whitepaper: PR in a changing media landscape
We hope that you find these interesting and if you would like to discuss any of them in detail please contact Samantha Dawe, Director of PR, The Think Tank at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 020 7831 2225.
Thursday, 2nd May 2013 at 10:50am
This piece has been written by Samantha Dawe, The Think Tank's PR Director.
Working with the press can be a great way to get stories about your products and your organisation across. But before you leap in for a chat take a few minutes to think through what you are going to say.
Using the press effectively to get your point across is a skill. In most cases, you only get one go at this in an interview, so you need to get it right first time when you are speaking to journalists directly.Whether you’re speaking at a planned face-to-face interview, a quick chat catch up at an industry event or a short briefing over the telephone, you will be in the spotlight. Here’s a short memory-refresher on the dos and don’ts of dealing with a press interview.
Prepare, prepare, prepare
Wherever possible build in time to do some preparation before you meet the journalist. Read the publication they are writing for. Ideally find out what the journalist wants to cover in advance so you can be ready with the right sort of information for them. If you don’t know this in advance, ask them when you meet or speak to check. This will also give you time to collect your thoughts. Have you had some media training? It’s worth it if you are in any type of marketing role.
Know your facts and figures
Remember you can talk to a journalist about any information that has already been announced, and bringing in other examples as context can often help illustrate a point. Again, have facts and figures to hand (be prepared wherever possible) so you can refer to them.
Try to speak in short sentences and repeat key points that convey your view. This helps to minimise the risk of being quoted inaccurately. Resist the temptation to go on and on about your favourite theme unless this is the only subject to be covered in the interview.
Raise points that you feel may be of interest
The journalist may have done some preparation but you are also able to raise points on a subject too. Make sure they that are relevant to the journalist’s train of thought; showing them you are trying to give them as much information as you can is usually perceived as helpful as long as you don’t go overboard.
Bring in how you see the industry or your sector developing, if appropriate. This sort of insight also shows that you and your company are continuing to keep track and responding to change. Don’t speculate though unless you are happy to see your speculations in print.
Don’t talk about areas you don’t know about
Don’t make forecasts about products, markets or sales, unless the information has been agreed beforehand and you can produce the data to back it up. If you don’t know much about a subject, say so. And wherever possible get someone in your company to speak to the journalist who is an expert.
And don’t be derogatory about the competition; it’s unprofessional. Just give factual information to the journalist, and let them make their own comparisons. Talking too much about the competition actually helps to sell it, so you may want to avoid that.
Don’t be evasive
If you don’t know something (see point 1 above) or you feel you need to get more information in front of you, say you will find out for the journalist and get back to them; check the deadline they are working on. This can also be used to ‘buy some time’ while you formulate an appropriate response to a tricky question. But if you promise further information, make sure it is followed up, even if it is to say that you need more time.
Use colourful phrases with care
Avoid the use of particularly colourful phrases unless you are absolutely sure you want them used. Otherwise, they may appear out of context or as headlines. A sub-editor may well select the juiciest quote from a journalist’s copy just for this purpose: “Widget Ltd’s Marketing Director Paul Smith says that they are murdering the competition”. Enough said.
Don’t go “Off-the record” unless you are really, really confident
This can be a dangerous trap – you are giving information ‘off-the-record’ for a journalist’s guidance, they should not publish it under any circumstances.
You have to tell the journalist the information is ‘off-the-record’ before you give them the information. The phrase should not be used retrospectively.
You should then say when the information you are discussing is ‘back on the record’ that means they can write up what you are saying.
A general rule of thumb is not using ‘off-the-record’ at all. In exceptional circumstances with a journalist that can really be trusted and you know – for example a trade press journalist you are in regular touch with and you know writes in a fair and informed way, and above all will respect this convention, you might be OK. But why chance it?
A Director I knew went ‘off the record’ with a journalist to say that he expected the privately-owned company he worked for would be floated in the next six months. It was a great story and appeared in print. You can imagine the fall out that happened when it was published.
This piece was written as part of The Think Tank's sponsorship of the PR Section of B2B Marketing's Knowledge Bank, and forms part of a series of guides, blog posts, case studies and a white papers.
Monday, 4th March 2013 at 10:25am
Buzzfeed has produced an amazing collection of creative promotional items from the past 5 years.
The list includes;
Dumbbell Frisbees by Iams in Australia (2009), a comical and clever way to spread the message "Iams makes your dog strong"
A giant marijuana cigarette to promote the TV series "Weeds" in Sweden (2008). Inside the 'spliff' was a bouquet of hemp plants and a message about the show.
A rubber eraser USB by Alzheimer's New Zealand (2010), building on the association of memory loss with Alzheimer's, the functional eraser was hollowed out for a USB stick and distributed to politicians and organisations to raise awareness.
A special sofa by Nivea in USA (2008), promoting a new product during Miami fashion week. Several of these were installed in various locations
A car with googly eyes by the Federal Ministry of Transport in Germany (2009). A clever campaign to raise awareness of drink-driving, these blood-shot googly eye beetles were driven around alcohol fueled public events.
They are all great examples of creative marketing at its best, taking the basic message of each product and developing a memorable way to promote it.
Friday, 1st March 2013 at 4:56pm
With the growing number of people using Twitter it's no wonder that Gerry Morgan, of US-based blog Marketing Think, produced this great little infographic on how to write the perfect tweet.
The blueprint covers all the basic content - links, hashtags and mentions, in terms of both the ideal placement within a tweet and their uses. Some of the more relevant tips to take away from this could be leaving 20 characters at the end of your tweet for people to comment when they retweet, the importance of formatting, like using headlines or calls to action, and finally passing the "perfect tweet filter".
This a great piece for anyone who uses twitter but the post was targeted at marketers, advertisers and PR professionals, talking about engaging and informing audiences.
So regardless of what you use twitter for, have a read, take some notes and let us know if there is anything you feel he missed.
Read more about the perfect tweet here.
Friday, 18th January 2013 at 10:57am
2013 marks the 100th Anniversary of the iconic Formica® brand, best known for high pressure laminates. The product was developed in USA in 1913 as a replacement for the mineral product 'Mica' and thus was called 'Formica'. Did you know that laminate is made from paper? Many people don't.
The Think Tank has worked with Formica in the UK and across EMEA for the past 10 years providing a range of marketing services including PR and as a part of the 100 years celebrations we have been working to raise the profile of the brand and its history through the media and yesterday saw a great article published in The Guardian Newspaper - both online and in print.
Formica® laminate is an iconic product that is used all around us in our everyday lives and, judging by the fantastic comments posted on the Guardian website, many people have very fond memories of the brand. One of the pictures featured takes us right back to when The Think Tank was based in Soho and used to frequent the Piccadilly Cafe - we remember it well.
The article, titled 'Shiny, happy households: Formica turns 100', is written by Oliver Wainwright and looks at the history of the brand, and how it has developed and been used over the years.
To find out more about the history of this iconic brand click here and read the full article or alternatively click here to see 'Formica: our century-old laminate love affair – in pictures', also published on the Guardian website.
You can also click below to view the article in PDF form.
Shiny, happy households_...pdf
Shiny, happy households_...pdf (957 kb)
Thursday, 10th January 2013 at 12:58pm
As part of this activity we were able to secure them a mention in the Evening Standard Homes and Property supplement as part of an article discussing the 'don't move, improve' trend.
The article featured Ed Miliband and his wife, as they extend their house in Primrose Hill, and quotes Barbour ABI's statisticss that detail the volume of planning applications received across London boroughs.
In the article Adam Valentine, Group Content Director at Barbour ABI, said he expected the upward trend to continue – in 2010 some 55,000 London homeowners applied for permission to extend their homes. “I think that the areas where we are seeing a large volume of home improvements are those where prices are still rising. These are the areas where people will seek to increase the size of their homes,” he said.
Read the full article here.
Miliband's Primrose Hill mansion gets even bigger _ News _ Property news _ Homes & Property.pdf (300 kb)
Friday, 21st December 2012 at 6:42pm
The Think Tank is looking for a Junior PR Account Executive.
Do you have an understanding of media relations and gaining press coverage? Can you offer an organised approach, good telephone and interpersonal skills, the ability to work within a team and meet deadlines? We offer a fun and informal atmosphere but one which is about achieving great results for our clients.
To be successful at the job you will need to be super organised, have an eye for detail, be extremely positive and have a proven interest in business to business PR through your education or experience. An outstanding grasp of English (written and spoken) is an absolute must, as is the ability to multi-task with a smile on your face and produce superb results under high pressure and tight deadlines. Candidates with a second language skill, ideally French, are preferred.
If this is thejob for you then email email@example.com with your CV and a covering letter. Applications will only be accepted with a covering letter. The position is based in Central London.
Sunday, 2nd December 2012 at 5:57pm
This stunt for Red Stripe by ad agency KesselsKramer (along with Stinkdigital director Greg Brunkalla and creative technology consultancy Hirsch&Mann) popped up in a convenience store in East London.
They rigged up loads of products in a corner store to suddenly start dancing and making music whenever a customer picked up a Red Stripe from the fridge.
It's a great bit of fun but knowing these types of stores well the late night crowd may get a bit freaked out!
Friday, 30th November 2012 at 12:00am
The Think Tank has received four awards in the 'BestFor PR Industry Awards'.
The awards have been keenly contested and 'BestFor' describe them as follows:
' PR Agencies across the UK have the opportunity to apply for a BestFor PR ranking. Our independent judging panel rigorously assesses each application and if successful, agencies are awarded a gold, silver or bronze ranking and listed within the relevant ranking table.
Each ranking table on the BestFor PR website enables companies seeking PR agencies to identify, select and contact leading agencies in the applicable sector or region that match their requirements.'
We are thrilled to have received the following awards:
Silver - Consumer Category
Silver - Property and Construction
Bronze - Technology
Bronze - National Category
This is a great credit to our PR team. Well done to all.
Click here to find out more.
Sunday, 21st October 2012 at 8:08am
Yulia Kretova, brand controller for Bodyform said in a statement: "We found Richard's post very amusing and wanted to continue the positive dialogue around periods that this generated. Working with the brand for five years, breaking down the taboo around Bodyform and periods has always been a challenge, and I hope that we have started to address this. Carat has created an original and uniquely personalized response, brilliantly PR-ed by Myriad, allowing Bodyform to quickly engage in consumer conversations in a meaningful way."
A very amusing response to social media interaction.
Monday, 15th October 2012 at 7:29pm
Their hit "We No Speak Americano" reached No. 1 on the charts in 16 countries and remains in the charts in many places even after two and a half years.
They have decided that they need to move on, mainly to their next album. So they've officially declared that the beats "are no longer fresh" in "We No Speak Americano," and they're calling on radio stations, DJs and fans worldwide to remove the song from their playlists and destroy any hard copies of it.
See the press conference below:
Sunday, 7th October 2012 at 3:25pm
There was a great article in the FT’s Inside Business section written by the paper’s media editor, Andrew Edgcliffe-Johnson. Describing how newsrooms have shrunk, he looks at how services such as PR Newswire (owned by UBM plc) are responding and how it sees its future being driven by digital syndication, social media and search engine optimisation.
As we have commented before in our blog, a rethink has started for press releases as multimedia content to help feed the growing number and variety of news outlets online. Edgcliffe-Johnson argues that “search and social media trends suggest corporate content will only grow”.
So not only do we now need to be aware of the fact that the majority of news is ‘broken’ online, but also that how we package up that news into deeper content will increasingly make a difference. This will have an impact not only in how this might be facilitated both client and agency side, but also that the content must be credible and ‘watchable’.
There will be a need of closer integration of advertising, digital marketing, PR and investor relations concludes Edgcliffe-Johnson.
See the article in the FT here (registration required).
Saturday, 29th September 2012 at 8:07am
Kellogg's has opened a pop-up shop in Soho, London, that bridges the gap between social currency and real-life money.
The shop offers you a menu of Special K Cracker Crisps and accepts Tweets as currency to buy them. Combining social media and real-life interaction the promotion not only engages those that tweet to buy a Special K pack, but also creates a buzz across social channels as the word spreads.
The response has apparently been very positive, always a gamble when asking consumers to Tweet about your business, as Waitrose found out recently.
If you missed the shop I'm afraid that it closed on 28th September, but you can find out more about this interesting multi-media experience below.
Sunday, 23rd September 2012 at 4:42pm
In the 2012 Social Journalism Study they asked journalists how they use social media, and how it impacts their work. A summary of the very interesting results can be seen in the infographic below or you can download the full study by clicking here.
It's a must for all PR professionals and marketers.
Monday, 2nd July 2012 at 7:39pm
The UK’s Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), the professional body for public relations practitioners, has announced special guidance for Wikipedia entries.
The guidance for public relations professionals using the site includes a number of recommendations and has gleaned global support in recognition of its potential for building mutual understanding between Wikipedians and public relations practitioners, the CIPR says.
The most significant of these is that public relations professionals should not directly edit Wikipedia pages relating to their organisation or brand but should instead suggest amendments to Wikipedians – the community of regular Wikipedia editors.
The consultation period for the guidance was hosted on Wikimedia UK, and the CIPR advises it will continue to be reviewed and refreshed as the relationship between the Wikipedia and public relations communities continues to progress.
See the best practice guidance here.
Tuesday, 19th June 2012 at 9:26pm
We worked with them throughout the event, set up media interviews and arranged for Scottish Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism, Fergus Ewing, to visit their exhibition stand which FoundOcean shared with BASF Construction Chemicals.
The Minister congratulated both companies on the recent Gwynt Y Môr Offshore Wind Farm Limited contract win and at the same time met with the representatives of RWE, the wind farm owner.
(left to right ) FoundOcean: Keith Miller, Chairman. RWE: Mike Nolan, Gwynt y Môr Procurement Manager and Alastair Gill, RWE npower Renewables. Fergus Ewing, Scottish Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism. BASF: Chris Fletcher, Head of Construction Chemicals - UK & Ireland. FoundOcean: Jim Bell, Managing Director.
Monday, 11th June 2012 at 4:58pm
The Think Tank is pleased to announce that we have been appointed by the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) to raise their voice and profile, extending the Institution’s communications activities through PR, Public Affairs and Social Media activity.
We will be working closely with the CIBSE in-house communications team to create a series of strategies and campaigns to help raise further awareness of the organisation with Government, opinion formers and the media. We will also be looking at the use of social media platforms to create further channels for dialogue.
The overall focus for 2012 is to demonstrate and communicate the organisation's depth and breadth of expertise and knowledge, and how this can help the built environment sector as a whole in the development of energy efficient buildings in a period where the UK's energy policy and usage is coming under even greater scrutiny and creating debate.
The pursuit of engineering excellence is also a core theme.
With a new look CIBSE Conference and Exhibition taking place at Olympia in October 2012, CIBSE’s 2013 prestigious Building Performance awards programme and the CIBSE/ASHRAE Young Engineers Awards, the Think Tank will be working to raise the profile of core events in CIBSE’s calendar.
The Think Tank supports many organisations within the UK and across the EMEA region in raising awareness and developing opportunities to engage with a range of stakeholders.
Thursday, 7th June 2012 at 6:46am
FoundOcean is a leading engineering company which has been providing offshore grouting services for the global energy construction industries for over 45 years. It provides a range of services to the oil & gas and renewable energy sectors including foundation and structural grouting, structural repair and strengthening, as well as pipeline and cable support and protection across the globe.
The Think Tank has been appointed to raise FoundOcean's profile within these sectors through PR support activity in the UK and beyond.
Working closely with the in-house marketing team we have been developing article opportunities and comment pieces across the European energy sector press, engaging with stakeholders, discussing key industry issues and demonstrating that FoundOcean has the expertise and experience to answer the needs of the sector through innovative engineering.
Over the coming months we will be securing opportunities within the core industry titles to raise awareness of FoundOcean's capabilities, and position it at the forefront of sector expertise. We will be focusing our efforts on delivering and securing industry comment, feature articles and case studies around the groundbreaking work that FoundOcean is doing, and supporting the company at exhibitions and events.