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Janey says...

It is the norm that large and small companies are involved in CSR and many have very impressive programmes, but does it mean that the company is genuinely concerned with society and honestly has a regard for the public or is it down to 3 letters….ROI? (Return of Investment)

 

Does honest regard for the Public really make you trust a company?

CSR: It is almost expected from companies to give back to society and take part in CSR, it shows that they have a regard for their stakeholders, but does it mean they will tell the truth and that we trust the company?

‘CSR is a good thing but why you are doing it will count towards whether it is really a good thing.’.Jane Crofts

In my opinion, CSR does not always represent the honesty of a company, as CSR is just something that all Businesses are expected/required to do.

Take Banks for example, they all have established professional CSR programmes involving Education, Charity, Community, Employees, Customers and Environments which naturally presents the image that they do have regard for the Public. Despite this the Public still do not necessarily trust their Bank, especially after the Credit-crunch.

 

Furthermore, do you trust an organisation or is it in the people?

Front line staff: If a customer talks to a Bank’s member of staff on the phone or in

the branch and does not have trust in that employee, this can ultimately destroy the customer’s trust in the Bank altogether, despite their impressive and established CSR programmes.

A Bank or a company may show genuine interest and regard for the Public through CSR programmes, values and mission statements but it does not necessarily mean that their staff will present this in their service. The Bank may have very commendable CSR programmes that give the image of trust and care towards their customers but it all relies on their frontline staff.

 

Genuine Regard for the Public = Trust?

Genuine regard for the Public does not automatically give the customer trust; trust is something that takes time to earn and build up and of course consistent great service.

I think the only way you can prove you have honest regard for the public is if you are trusted and the only way you can be trusted is if you have honest regard for the public and tell the truth!

CSR is something that all businesses are feeling inclined to take part in, it gives your

company a good reputation and it may attract future investors and maintain current ones. For me, CSR is vital and it does give a good image of the company, however, I think it is a mutually beneficial action and if businesses were not benefitting from it in some way then they would not embrace it as much as some do after all, CSR is not a legal requirement, companies volunteer to do it themselves.

 

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Jane says...

For over 25 years I worked in public relations of one form or another although I never had a job with those words in the title. I have been a road safety officer – even a County Road Safety Officer, a Communications Manager, an Assistant Director of Corporate Affairs, Project Director but never a Public Relations Officer. So, what’s the point I am making? Well, PR manifests itself in many ways so don’t limit your job searches, the skills of a PR graduate will take you into arenas you never dreamt of.

 

My career has always been within the public sector so I have always had restrictions on what I could spend and be associated with. But that never stopped me achieving some great results and some major firsts!

 

I spent a very happy time working in road safety and green transport campaigning.

I can remember as a young and naive member of the team in the 1970s being horrified when my boss told me we’re going to run a drink drive campaign called ‘how are you going get home now you’re pissed?’. Now you may think that is mild but remember we are talking about the era when the Sex Pistols said the ‘f – word’ on TV and caused a media frenzy and Mary Whitehouse was a real person not just the name of comedy show. The posters we devised were to go on the inside of the gents toilet doors in the many local pubs in and around Cambridge…I had to deliver them by hand and explain the campaign to all to the landlords, many of whom were personal friends for some reason!!  We made it on to Radio One’s Newsbeat….

 

But I digress, you don’t want my memoirs – edited or otherwise, you want to know how to add value to your degree.

 

Experience of doing is essential but it doesn’t have to be just work experience. A good portfolio of effort is a must – especially an online presence that starts to establish your personal brand as a professional.

 

Website – have a repository for your electronic brand – your online CV if you like. Interesting photos of the professional you, examples of your work and anything you have done for real. Link it to the other outlets for the virtual you.

 

Facebook – maybe you need a fictitious persona for the student antics and something more moderate for your professional life?

 

Twitter – follow and be followed, engage in #CommsChat on Mondays at 8pm – you will make contacts with professionals around the world.

 

Blogging – DO IT!! But don’t be passive it’s back to the follow and be followed rule. Select subjects that interest you in PR and talk about them – how have recent campaigns gone down? How was the latest government policy delivered top the public? What would you have done differently? Do opinion pieces about current affairs – political, crisis management, reputation etc. Guest blog for other people – Birds on the blog, Behind the Spin, EmilyCagle.co.uk, PRCompany.co.uk and of course New PRMinds,

 

Then there’s all the others I haven’t got my head round yet!

 

As to getting work experience, if you can grab it with both hands, but…it’s a cold call I’m afraid.  Use the contacts your tutors have, read PR Week and follow up the interesting characters by name and don’t be seduced by the idea that London is everything. I worked in London for a very short while well into my career when I was asked to support the Department of Health with work around PR capability in the NHS, The Nye Bevan Awards and a major NHS Careers promotion at Tomorrow’s World Live. It was great fun, very educational but by no means the high spot of my career. In a big London agency you may not get the variety of experience you need at the start of your career, in a smaller regional agency you will get thrown in at the deep end and be able to make a real difference with some real work.

 

I believe that long term placements should be paid but if you are only doing a couple of weeks, or a day a week while studying, then fair enough – treat it as a good opportunity and as a really long job interview!!!

 

Remember PR is about relationships so to get that placement or job you need to be out there building relationships; you have to network your socks off. Join the CIPR, get in with one of the regional groups and special interest groups, go to their events if you can – be cheeky and ask for a student freebie to fill places – and ask to visit different organisations you meet there to see what they do and how they do it, you never know what it might lead to.

 

Finally, hang on to this thought…in a recession PR fairs very much better than many of our partner disciplines of advertising and marketing. When the bottom line is suffering your reputation and point of difference becomes all the more important and you need someone to get that message out there cheaply, enter PR!

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NewPRMinds Is Taking Off!!!


Hello and thanks to everyone who has read and commented on our blog.

NewPRMinds is a very new blog which looks to be growing quickly and turning into a little success I am very proud to be a part of.

As a result, the NewPRMinds team (myself and Janey) have decided to push the blog into new directions.

Thus, we are now on Facebook 🙂

Facebook will make it easier for users to communicate with us as well as amongst themselves. By nature, it is a more interactive and personable channel.

We hope that you will join us and “Like” the group so you can talk to us and others about the latest trends in PR & Comms as well as receiving great video and written content, all in one place.

Check us out, just click the NewPRMinds logo below.

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Janey says...

Is any PR better than none whether bad or not? Is there such a thing as bad PR?

I have always been curious to the thinking behind the PR strategy of Michael O’Leary Chief executive of Ryanair. O’Leary seems to be accomplished at rubbing people up the wrong way, his company is surrounded with controversy and O’Leary is frequently in the media for his money making schemes. Are these schemes truth or is O’Leary just trying to get people talking about his company? But with what benefit?

His schemes have included:

–          Charging passengers to use the toilet.

–          Introducing standing during flights.

–          Doubling up the co-Pilot as a hostess too.

–          Charging overweight customers extra.

Clearly, Michael O’Leary knows how to create debate and irritate people. These scandalous schemes are publicised in the media and when O’Leary is asked to comment he generally gives rude and sarcastic remarks, known to say that if you don’t like the service then find a new airline.

Undoubtedly, O’Learly is successful at creating a storm and getting people talking about his company but how will this draw in customers?

Underlying all these scandalous schemes there lays one exiting message:

That Ryanair is a budget airline.  

I guess if you’re not willing to pay more then go elsewhere.

Is O’Leary really using the most effective strategy to communicate his message?

I personally hate flying with Ryanair but yet still continue to do so because of the low fares.

Ryanair’s PR strategy is bizarre and aggravating but it is successful at drumming in the message that Ryanair is a budget airline. Can we therefore still call this bad PR?

Personally, it is the type of PR I would not like to get involved in only because of morals and ethics but I still have a sense of humour and admire the humour behind the strategy as much as it does annoy me!

I am unsure as to whether O’Leary’s morals are in the right place. I do however; commend Ryanair for positioning their brand and setting themselves out of the crowd. They successfully gain publicity and drum out their message!

At least he has a sense of humour!

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Janey says...

The new Web 2.0 brought an opportunity for companies to get online and communicate with the public but also a pressure to do so.

As a result – Some companies do it well while others struggle!

It is difficult online to create interesting content that people will become involved in, trust, listen to and follow. It is separate from advertising your products. Online you are building brand, recognition, relationships and trust with your customers while also providing customer service frequently.

Stephen and I have been having a look at a few companies who visibly grasp Social media online effectively and do it well.

Some companies fail and cause harm to their reputation, others take time to experiment and find their correct position, while others seem to grasp it naturally. One brand who clearly uses it effectively….

Congratulations to….

 

Innocent seem to grasp social media naturally and use it so effectively to brand themselves and re-enforce the personality of their image – quirky, natural, fun and bursting with personality.

 

How do they do this?

Innocent embrace all areas of Social Media:

 Facebook: (Facebook.com/innocentdrinks) where fans can get involved by uploading their own pictures under ‘Photos of Fans’ play the ‘Veg-pot fun jackpot’ or leave a comment. The down side to Facebook is that Innocent must deal with customer service as many people leave feedback comments. This could be potentially harmful and risky but Innocent reply directly, honestly and quickly to comments. Innocent handle the transparency well, they speak to their followers in a natural, personal, down-to-earth, non- jargon way. The page gives the public a reason to visit, is quirky and fun which re-enforces their brand.

Twitter: with 29, 120 followers who they keep updated and remind them about events and campaigns. They tweet in a quirky manner that matches their personality and often post humorous tweets. Again Innocent deal with customer services in an efficient manner.

YouTube: Innocent has a range of videos available to view on YouTube, they upload their adverts and AGM meetings, which offers an insight for the public into the workings of the company that we would not usually get to see or hear. They also have amusing videos uploaded by there staff which prove very entertaining. Again, it gives the public a reason to visit.

Flickr: Innocent update Flickr regularly with pictures of their products and campaigns for example the ‘Big Knit’ where the public knitted miniature hats to be placed on Innocent smoothie bottles and sold with them to raise money for Elderly who struggle to heat their home in winter. The public sent pictures to Innocent of their knitted hats who then placed the pictures on the ‘Big Knit Flickr group’ (and on their blog ‘Best Hat of the Month’ (http://innocentdrinks.typepad.com/thebigknit/hat_of_the_week/index.html)

Blogging: Innocent have a ‘Weekly Thoughts’ blog, where they blog on just about anything, there is a list of about 70 categories! Something for everybody! Each post is short and interesting and worth a look!

In general, Innocent are a very innovative and entertaining company to be following with quirky news updates, pictures and videos to fun competitions to get involved in such as the ‘New Word Competition’ where the public compete to come up with a new word! All of which is done online! Innocent continually give the public a reason to visit their sights and get involved in the action.

Innocent use Social Media effectively as they use a tone that fits in with their brand – natural, talk natural, act natural, no jargon, straight forward, quirky, bright and fun. More importantly it builds on their brand and relationships! And gives the public something entertaining and worthwhile to follow!

Definitely worth a look!

Innocent now have the ‘Wall of Peace’ for the public to get in involved with. Check it our if you want to get involved in the action too! (http://www.innocentdrinks.co.uk/)

Keep an eye out for next weeks blog, the dreaded announcement of who we believe is using Social Media the worst….eeeekkk!!

and…please leave comments below!

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Janey says...

There is a new pressure on businesses to become more visible online and there is no doubt that if a business decides to do so they become more transparent. Outsiders can gain an insight into how that company does business, you are open to direct contact with your customers in a public, open domain that leaves your company open to public criticism.

Stephen used a great example on his blog post. Another example would be Easy Jet who actually practise customer service through Twitter and speak directly to their customers through tweets. Regularly we see Easy Jet apologising for issues that their customer may have had and tell them how to go about solving their problem. Customers like this personal recognition and communication but as a result Easy Jet are dealing with problems in a public way and could put potential customers off.

So why risk it?

Direct contact online is a more personal way of communicating with a customer – honest, direct and public. There is the opportunity to attract new customers and maintain customer satisfaction and loyalty. Is this enough reason to take a risk?

Why do customers like communicating in this way?

Perhaps online, customers’ complaints/ inquiries will be answered more efficiently and being dealt with in a public way is maybe more satisfying to some customers who feel that they have received a poor service – a public viewing could be more influential. Communicating online is easy for people to do; it is easy to read and to take part in and is not time consuming.

When online, businesses cannot half-heartedly take part, they must be fully committed and efficient to their customers. Their business will be open to public criticism, existing issues and downfalls will be obvious to pick up on not only by customers but also by the media and clients.

Is being transparent worth it?

I believe that it pays off to be more direct and personal with your customers. I don’t see why being transparent is something to be worried of….

I guess, if you are practising good, honest business and customer service then why wouldn’t you join up??

…Unless you have something to hide??

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Janey Says...

I want to weigh up both sides of the argument, so that I can make a more informed judgement and shape my opinion.

Why SM might stay around?

– SM is FREE, fast and has no time or location restraints.

– Universities are now teaching their students SM so perhaps, with added knowledge and skills the new generation will bring a boost of SM to PR. After all, the younger generation socialise through SM and will therefore have more acquaintance and understanding into the workings and how to use it effectively.

– Perhaps, a more creative and personal way of brand and personality building and spreading a message. For example ‘Innocent’ use Twitter really effectively to emphasize their personality through quirky ‘tweets’.

– Can tailor your message and chose your channel to target desired audience.

– A fair channel of PR where smaller companies can compete with larger companies.

– Rules and laws in the future would make a more safe and a advantageous environment with less reputation risks.

Why SM might it disappear?

– With 2-way communication and the freedom of speech online anyone can take over your message and the public can communicate directly with a company in an open and public environment.

– Unless rules or laws are introduced to using SM the dangers towards companies could amplify as the number of internet users increases and anyone can use it.

– Newer technology is introduced and replace it.

Some companies do it well, others have tried it, for some it proves too much of a risk and several ignore it. I believe that there is more to come from SM with new PR practitioners and fresh skills in the area.

There is no doubt that SM can be very effective (if used correctly) but it involves a lot of time to monitor and maintain.

SM is just one important element of PR and I believe it will remain so for the foreseeable future but its importance will always vary depending on the company.

I hope that in the future rules and regulations will be introduced so that there is a more controlled, safe and less risky environment for PR practitioners to become involved in.

Your perspective is important to me, we are here to learn from each other so please comment below and let me know your thoughts 🙂

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