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How to be legally compliant on social media

Yesterday morning. the Prohibition team jointly organised a successful breakfast seminar exploring the important issue of legal compliance in social media.

Held in conjunction with leading Intellectual Property law firm, HGF, the central-Leeds seminar was attended by 50 marketing and legal professionals from across the region.

HGF 1Social media undoubtedly provides brands with fantastic opportunities to promote themselves and powerfully engage directly with their customers and stakeholders, as many well-publicised cases show. However, social media can also be a huge trap for those unaware of the potential legal consequences.

The increasingly blurred boundaries between professional and private social media use can pose challenges for organisations, as employees unwittingly go “off message” in their personal social media networks.

These issues were explored in two short, but lively sessions, from Anthony Gold, Partner at HGF, and Chris Norton, Managing Director of Prohibition, as both talked through the challenges, opportunities and risks for brands seeking to expand their use of social media, whilst also discussing some of the key tools for success in this area.

The event was the latest in a series of seminars from Prohibition, exploring all aspects of social media best-practice. Our next events cover online crisis management, and take place at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Ramside Hall in Durham.

More success for Prohibition!

Will Ockenden (L) and Chris Norton (R)Blog Will Ockenden (L) and Chris Norton (R)Blog Rebecca Wharmby (L), Will Ockenden, Vicki Murphy, Blog Adam Worrall, Chris Norton, Emily Moult (R)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After celebrating a record year that has seen us double in size and move to larger office we’re now happy to announce the appointment of our new board director.

Following a number of new high profile business wins, including the UK’s largest wholesaler of floristry supplies and artificial flowers, Country Baskets, and national market leader in sustainable housing, Keepmoat Homes, our team has doubled in size to eight.

This includes the appointment of Will Ockenden as board director. Will previously ran the Sydney office of Leeds-based PR and social media agency, Lucre, and prior to that worked at a senior agency level in Leeds. He will be responsible for developing our professional services and B2B offering.

Will is also set to work on commercialising our self-published online student magazine, Student Wire, which is currently the third-largest magazine of its kind in the UK, with more than 60,000 readers. The magazine forms the core of our growing student and youth marketing division.

Other key hires to our team include Rebecca Wharmby, former PR executive at Disney who joins as account executive and Adam Worrall, a professional journalist, as content manager. This month has also seen us relocate to our new, larger office, based in Chapel Allerton.

Our managing director Chris Norton, said of the growth: “The last 12-months have been extremely eventful; we have achieved real success when it comes to delivering non-traditional PR services such as content marketing, online influencer engagement and social media eCommerce services. As such we have experienced strong growth, and have invested heavily in people and technology to ensure we continue to deliver outstanding work. We won the Best Use of Digital Award in November and we plan to enter several of our campaigns this year too. Working jointly with Will, I’m confident we will continue to grow, and offer something genuinely different in a busy market.”

What online PR campaigns can teach us about measurement and ROI

It’s no secret that the traditional PR measurement model is woefully ill-equipped to deal with today’s integrated online PR campaigns, and new, data-driven methodologies have emerged to effectively tackle social media PR.

However, while traditional agencies may still judge the success of a campaign on ‘equivalent advertising value’ or a nebulous ‘PR value’, an understanding of digital PR gives us the opportunity to measure almost every facet of a campaign, and crucially, start making that all important link to ROI.

Not only that, but social media measurement techniques give us the opportunity to apply a new analysis framework to traditional PR campaigns, in doing helping drive forward the industry as a whole. Online PR

This debate is not unique to PR; in every marketing discipline, there exists a lively hotbed of opinions and views into how to best measure a campaign, and more importantly, how to effectively demonstrate ROI. And rightly so. We also like a good debate here at Prohibition PR, so it’s really music to our ears.


Analytics

A starting point should be a good working understanding of Google analytics. If your team doesn’t know what this is then they’re in the wrong job. Set up goals so that you can track conversations, whether that’s a sale, a sign-up or some other strategic imperative. Each piece of media coverage you generate should contain a link, if it doesn’t then ask yourself is it really benefiting the client? A half page in a national might do wonders for brand awareness (and probably will result in some sales you can never prove to your client) but chances are a blog post with a useful link will drive far more conversions for you and you can then track these.

Conversions to sales

Also get a good understanding of your client’s conversion rates. Based on average conversions and basket size, how much of the traffic you’re directing to the site could be resulting in a sale? What’s the value of this and how does it compare with the investment your client’s made in PR?

Similarly, find out how much your client is investing in online media spend and PPC. Calculate an average CPC and cross reference with the traffic you’re driving their way.  Suddenly you’re in a position when you can attribute a monetary value to your activity. Cost per Click is great but cost per acquisition is even better.

This is only scratching the surface, and we’re not going to reveal all of our techniques here (you have you be a client or a friend to benefit from that). But as an industry we need to be more honest with ourselves, especially when it comes to working with brands that are prominent online – are we getting media coverage for the sake of getting media coverage because it has always been our currency, or are we helping them achieve real business results?

While of course, PR and social media is not usually a direct response mechanism in the way that e-commerce or direct mail is, that’s not to say we can’t still be accountable for the services we deliver. In fact as an industry we should strive for this, for the benefit of our whole industry otherwise we could be left behind the digital and SEO Agencies.

Image credited to Stuart Miles, thanks very much via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Football Flick – Video Seeding Campaign

Over the last couple of years we have been working closely with a number of the best marketing agencies in the country to help them seed their viral campaigns on the web whether that is news, video, apps or even music. It’s the best part of the job and we get to play with some amazing content and stunning videos from all kinds of different sectors and as long as the content is good we are happy to help.

The video we are working on this week comes from our good friends at The Lift Agency and is for a new product called Football Flick Urban. The Football Flick Urban is a three Dimensional multi user football skills trainer, which consists of a front curved ramp, a back ramp and a net in the middle. Each of the three elements of the Football Flick can be used to help train and develop skills used in football.

The video has been created by Lift to generate some real excitement around this useful new soccer training aid. It showcases just what can be done with the unit by players of any ability and what’s more that it can be used anywhere, reinforcing the brand’s strapline… Play Anywhere. It also features the talents of John Farnworth. John is 26 and from Longridge in Lancaster and he holds four Guinness World Records including the most around the worlds in under a minute. In the video, John shows off his skills as a football freestyler and all that the Football Flick Urban has to offer.

Having only been in circulation around 24 hours, the video is already proving to be a big hit. You can see it yourself below:

Prohibition PR Helps Set Up Online Student Magazine – Student Wire

Over the last few months the Prohibition PR team have been working hard to help launch a new online student magazine – Student Wire. The idea was to create a website specifically for students, written by students about being a student!

Our client The Student Store wanted specialist help to create a thriving online community. So we scoped the project out and looked at how we could create something which would help other students out, give advice and provide some great content that was relevant to the audience.

Prior to the launch of the project the team put together a number of focus groups from local universities to bring together thoughts and ideas of what they would like to read.

Emilie Sillett, a second year public relations undergraduate and current intern here at Prohibition HQ was made editor of the magazine due to her rather bubbly personality and passion for creative writing. She was then also asked to help recruit a team of budding journalists and creative writers to help her create a magazine with a difference.

To help increase awareness and garner interest, the magazine was seeded online throughStudent Wire social media and student forums, getting as many people as possible to check it out and create a buzz around the launch of the site. After just four weeks Student Wire is already a huge success and a hit with under graduates from universities all over the UK.

So far it has writers from Leeds Metropolitan University, Liverpool John Moore’s, University of Salford and London Metropolitan providing advice, news and ideas on anything from how to choose your student accommodation through to how to cure a hangover.

Emilie is always looking for interesting features and creative writers so drop her an email if you think you are cut out for the job contact@studentwire.co.uk.

For an idea of some of the topics the team write about at Student Wire, check out some of the favourite posts so far:

1. The Student Halls Lottery by Sarah Raynard

2. Clubbing.. Why bother? by editor, Emilie Sillett

3. Celebrities And Their Surprising, Unrelated Degrees by Amanda Champion

4. And have a look at my own article, Technology That Will Make Life Easier.

And finally, the sponsors of Student Wire – the Student Store – has recently launched a photo competition of ‘the work space from hell’.  Be it your messy student house, your dirty desk or your rotten bedroom we want to see. The winner will be determined by public vote via the Student Wire Facebook page – so be creative as possible and you could be in with a chance £100 shopping voucher and the Adobe Creative Cloud software up for grabs! Apply here.

This was a guest article from Laura Crossley.

Violation of Google’s Guidelines Will Result in Damaged PageRank

Google’s latest announcement has made it official that selling page links and including paid-for placements on your blog can and will damage your PageRank. In the announcement Matt Cutts, Google’s Head of Web Spam stated that ‘selling links (or entire advertorial pages with embedded links) that pass PageRank violates our quality guidelines, and Google does take action on such violations.’ Such action has been taken out recently on the florist giant Interflora for breaking Search Engine Optimisation guidelines by manipulating links to improve its PageRank. Penalisation of Interflora is the latest proof that even the largest brands are not immune to Google’s rules and regulations. Currently as punishment Interflora doesn’t show up on Google for the majority of it’s search terms, a huge disaster for the brand with Mother’s Day fast approaching. The highest Interflora appeared was on page 2 of a Google search, but mainly Interflora was non-existent. The damages to the brand could value at millions worth of pounds. Matt Cutts has also posted on his own personal blog about PageRank penalties and selling links. Replying to the frequently asked question of ‘Why has my PageRank gone down?’ Matt answered ‘the drop in Toolbar PageRank is an indicator of the decrease in our trust of the site.’ Google isn’t against paid advertisements, it actually supports the practise but they are asking for such links to be disclosed to search engines.  Sites should be judged on their content and influence for SEO not their bank account. What does this mean for PR? Whilst it will upset many people, Google’s announcement will help to ensure that online public relations prioritises quality content over simple and easy paid-for placements and links. Therefore Google is helping to ensure that public relations online is practised ethically. Blogging is a way of using your online freedom to express your opinion and interests, add value and engage in discussions. Blogging on your personal blog, on behalf of a company, just because they are paying you an attractive sum, I believe, totally defeats the object of blogging in the first place. Don’t get me wrong advertorials (which have been around for decades in PR) and articles that clearly show they are being sponsored to review a product are still effective ways to position a brand. It’s the articles that have been paid for that include brand names and links to a website that don’t make it totally clear that are misleading. What do you think? This is a guest post from Lara Busch you can follow her on Twitter.

PR Interviews: 7 types of question a journalist might ask and how to deal with them

That old saying ‘forewarned is forearmed’ can be applied to many fields – and most especially to when you’re being interviewed by a journalist.

Journalists are generally pretty skilled at asking questions in such as way that will get their subjects talking – whether they want to or not!

But if you’re forearmed – not just by preparing in advance what you want to say, but also with what the journalist might ask – you’re much more likely to go into the interview feeling more confident, be able to take the control and make the points which are important to you and your organization.

Most questions fall into seven broad categories, and once you can recognize them, you then can work out how to answer them well, in a way that delivers your key messages effectively.

1. Open questions

Any question starting with who, what, where, when, how and why (and not forgetting ‘tell me about’). There’s normally no way you can answer these questions with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

“What does your company do?”

They are often asked at the beginning of an interview, so they give you a great opportunity to take control of an agenda, talk at length and really get your message across.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve asked a question starting ‘tell me about’ working on TV programmes such as Remembrance Sunday, to encourage people to talk about their experiences.

Do beware, though, as they can be used to trap you.

“When will the chief executive resign?”

“Why didn’t you call in expert help when you knew there was a problem?”

2. Closed questions

A closed question is one that can be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. For example:

‘Do you think that your company provides good media training courses?’

Or

Does your company also offer video production as one of its services?’

(the answer to both these is ‘yes’ by the way)

The way to spot these is that they generally invert the pronoun and verb in a sentence, so they might start with ‘Is it …?’, ‘Do you …’, ‘Will you …?’, ‘Have you …?’ or ‘Has your …?’.

When you answer them, it’s generally advisable to expand on what you’re saying and don’t just answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’, particularly in a print interview where your answer might be turned into a quote by the journalist anyway.

Sometimes, however, you will disarm the interviewer by simply saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’, which can be very powerful.

3. Leading questions

These invite you to make judgments about your activities, and are highly likely to be asked if you’re under fire for some reason.

“Your track record running this hospital is hardly one to be proud of is it?”

In these circumstances, it’s probably best to ignore the premise of the question and deal with the issues factually, clearly refuting the points made. So you might list your achievements and describe the measures you have taken to overcome the current difficulties.

4. Incomprehensible questions

Interviewers do sometimes get in a muddle, especially if they know little about the subject of the interview. Don’t judge a journalist too harshly in these circumstances – they may have had only a moment’s notice of the interview and had no time to research. Rather than pointing it out the journalist’s ignorance, take the chance to answer the question you hoped they would ask, and deliver one of your key messages.

5. Multi-element questions

This is sometimes the sign of an inexperienced or over keen interviewer:

“With me now is Barack Obama, the President of the United States. So Mr President, can you tell me how you defeated the Republicans, but it’s all going a bit wrong now isn’t it, are you concerned about how the Democrats will do in this week’s elections, and what does it feel like to be the first black president of the United States?

Just pick the nicest question – ie, the one which will allow you to get your messages out best – and answer that.

6. Hypothetical Questions

The type of thing you may face from an aggressive current affairs journalist.

“Will you resign if the investigation proves that your department approved that shipment of illegal arms?”

To deflect this type of question, simply refuse to be drawn and turn the conversation to a positive point, repeating the statement you have made to other reporters.

7. The Cul-de-sac Question

This is designed to catch you out, no matter what you say.

“Mr Mullins, your organisation is responsible for leaking sensitive medical records. As managing director, you must surely be considering resignation?”

The only thing to do is refute both parts of this question – and stick to your own agenda.

Whatever kind of question you are asked, the most important thing in any media interview is to remember the reason you agreed to it – to promote yourself and your business or organisation. Good preparation – both in anticipating questions and in deciding on and polishing your key messages – will make that task far far easier.

 

We would like to thank to Ann Wright for providing us with this brilliant guest blog, Ann is the co-founder of Rough House which specialise in media training.

The top five Valentines’ PR and social stunts

It’s almost that time of the year again which most of us dread. Red roses and pink love hearts smeared over every shop, no chance of table reservations and a depressing 24-hours for all singletons – its Valentine’s Day. But love it or hate it, it’s a great time for PR stunts and campaigns and here are five of my favourites from recent times:

1. #TweetHeart

These days it seems that social networking is the most popular way to channel our love and emotions and companies have been using this to their full advantage this Valentine’s day. A popular online blog – Not on the High Street – came up with the idea of offering a very unique and personal gift this February 14th. They have created a competition in which contestants must tweet a special message stating why they love their valentine and including the link, #TweetHeart. The top 10 tweets will be turned into a love song, performed and recorded by a band called ‘The Coopers’ and posted online for their partner to see. You can read more about it here.

2. ‘The Twosie’

Asda's twosie as seen on their websiteSupermarket chain Asda did a brilliant job of getting plenty of pre-valentine’s day media coverage, by introducing The Twosie. After a survey on Facebook told them that most couples would be staying in this Valentine’s day (and after the onesie trend still doing so well) George at Asda decided to do the obvious, stick two onesies together, and produce the twosie, before posting it on their website.

A soft fleecy double poncho with bunny design hoods and ears, embroidered faces and ‘Love Bunnies’ print on the back and for just £25, it sold out in record time.

3. Love Advice from Britain’s Oldest Couple

Last year, Britain’s oldest couple took to twitter and dished out love and relationship advice to the public. Lionel and Ellen Buxton, who will be celebrating 77 years of marriage this summer, tweeted on behalf of a wedding video company, called Shoot it Yourself. Although they haven’t tweeted since, their messages can still be seen on their twitter page @lionelandellen.

This resulted in some very interesting tweets, and gained some great coverage from newspapers such as the Daily Mail and the Sun.

4. Flaming Grill Facebook Date

This Valentine’s day, Flaming Grill Pubs are playing match maker. It has launched a campaign in order to increase activity of its Facebook page. Basically, you must join the page and choose a date from your Facebook friends. You are then in with a chance to win a meal for two with a bottle of wine thrown in!

A simple idea which will be no doubt rather popular with the men!

5. A Sex Guarantee

A Scottish clothes retailer named Foul Fashion is offering shoppers a ‘sex guarantee’. It will give its customers a full refund this month if its unusually colourful shirts don’t attract the opposite sex.

It may be slightly sleazy, but is certain to turn heads. The stunt has already been covered by multiple newspapers and PR websites, appeared on This Morning and created a hell of a lot of activity on Twitter.

Have I missed anything? Do you have any favourite PR stunts for Valentine’s Day to share?

This is a guest post from Laura Crossley who will be joining the Prohibition team in a couple of weeks.

Top Tips for getting a job in a Leeds PR Agency

For many, starting a career in Public Relations is not easy. But just how do you go about getting into the industry? Well, there are several interesting aspects to consider:

1) A degree is not always essential. Whilst many go to University and get a degree in PR, communications or English before looking for work, it is not the be all and end all. The Public Relations apprenticeship scheme run in association with the PRCA helps young people gain the necessary experience as well as qualifications

Apprentices are appealing because they receive practical experience and they get to truly know what it is like to work in the industry at a younger age. Unlike many university graduates that will be 21ish by the age of 20 they will have worked in the industry two or three years.

2) Experience is key. Companies/agencies are unlikely to take on a new member if they have not gained some sort of experience in the industry before looking for employment. Whilst some university courses have work placements as part of the course, actually seeking experience independently will help you see what the industry is like. Taking on interns regularly ourselves, we notice a huge difference in how much more developed people are once they have worked in the industry for just a number of months.

As Pressat has previously stated on its website, “it would be a good idea to get some work experience or carry out a placement with a local PR company.” Because PR is such a competitive industry, this will make you stand out from the crowd.

3) Knowledge of the industry is essential. You will not last very long if you are not up to date with what is happening in an ever-changing industry like PR, so it is essential that you read relevant material. Aside from helping you understand your work, it will also give you fresh inspiration and ideas.

As Jon Gloyne, an experienced PR professional, has stated for an article in The Guardian, “It’s essential to keep up to date with industry news and trends, so make sure you read from sites such as PR Week and Campaign.”

4) Network. In order to get started, it is essential to build up your contacts. Being prominent on all social media websites, not just Facebook and Twitter, will help you to increase your standing. Setting up a LinkedIn account, for example, is essential when going into any profession, not just PR.

As has been written on PRmeetsmarketing.com, “Creating a profile on LinkedIn is a must alongside a traditional resume.” It’s not always what you know, but sometimes WHO you know has a major impact on getting a foot on the ladder.

5) PR Yourself. If you stand out, then you are more likely to get somewhere when looking for a job. As PR is all about “Pray for play,” you need to be able to generate interest in yourself in order to prove you have got what it takes to work in the industry.

The best candidates for positions in agencies are those that are able to make themselves stand out and look different and can market themselves effectively. Our MD Chris Norton is currently lecturing at Leeds Metropolitan University on the PR degree and one of his classes is solely dedicated to helping the undergraduates learning how to market themselves and present themselves better to employers. I know he was happy to help with this because we get so many applications ourselves and some are great and some are terrible.

We have discussed the importance of representing yourself effectively before. What are your experiences of finding work in the industry? Is it more difficult than you had imagined?

Do you have any tips you can share for everyone else?

App or crap? Our Pinterest Competition.

We have been busy in the office this week – check out our new shiny social wall courtesy of the inimitable Sally Cossins.App or Crap? #apporcrap

So to celebrate our work and following the kindness of one of our lovely clients Audio Technica, we’re able to offer one of you lucky people the chance to win a fabulous pair of ATH-CKS55 In-Ear Headphones, worth £45! They offer outstanding noise quality and cutting edge bass and even come with a pouch so they don’t get tangled up in your pocket when you are out and about.

We wanted to poke a little fun at the social media marketers world and so all we want you to do to win is come up with an amusing and unique name for your latest imaginary social media channel. We all know they have daft names that mean nothing (FaceTube) so we thought we might as well create a few funny ones ourselves and have some fun with it.

So, imagine you were thinking of inventing the next Facebook, Foursquare, YouTube or Skype, what would you call it and what would it mean?

We have had a think about this and we would call ours BuzzClunge Beta (we have copyrighted this – so be careful using it lol). We are looking for funny and creative ones but if you are stuck for a good idea you can always try a tool like this to generate your app name although I think you can do better than them.

To enter, just for fun, or to be in with a chance of winning, all you have to do is re-pin our pin on the above image on your own Pinterest account, including the name of your new channel in the description box and use the #apporcrap hashtag.

The winner will be selected on Monday 25th March by us and announced here on the Prohibition PR blog. Our decision is final and all that jazz.

Enjoy!!!