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The political PR moves that we can all learn from 

It’s been a hell of a year for PR in politics. Think Putin, Trump, Brexit, Obama, Farage… the list is endless. But what can we learn, both good and bad from the heroes and the tyrants alike?

The Obama effect
This one is simple, yet entirely effective. The level of positive content created to support the Obama comms schedule is nothing short of admirable. It didn’t take long for Obama’s comms team to tease out his charisma – utilising it to create a President with people appeal. The trick here was to present Obama as one of us. Somebody we can all relate to. Somebody who shares our values and indeed our idea of fun. The cute factor was utilised ten fold. Think the Joe, Obama relationship. The way Obama interacted with children… it’s the Kate Middleton, Diana tactic on speed – and it’s a guy too, so you know, additional appeal(?). Scratch the service and consider how this PR dream of a demeanour has perhaps clouded our judgement on actions and policies implemented by Obama, and we begin to truly understand the power of positive PR. The power of utilising an image of strength and solidarity.

The tyrant comparison
So, we have an example of positive PR used to spin a certain message. And this can also be seen in play by those favoured in a lesser light by the larger voices in the democratic world. A good example of this is the recent reveal of the refugee numbers that will be welcomed into the UK being slashed. The distraction PR technique, saw this announcement being buried in the Brexit debate. Unfortunately for Theresa May, this classic PR technique entirely back-fired, leaving her at the scrutiny to humanistic groups, and well just humans actually. The move is a classic, and yet nine times out of ten, it is entirely unreliable and dangerous to a reputation.

The outlandish cheesy puff
Finally we have Trump, Farage and Putin. The face of the right wing politician. The totalitarian with questionable (understatement) ideology. These guys literally play the Trump Card… they utilise the guise of honesty to fuel fanatical beliefs. It’s extremist communications. By utilising the controversial and engaging the historically disengaged, you can provide an outlet for comms with serious impact. In some ways it’s smart, in other ways it’s crass. But it is undoubtedly effective. Reminiscent of sayings such as ‘he who shouts loudest’, or ‘he who dares wins’, this technique is nothing short of balshy. Just like sex sells, so does the controversial.  And whilst many disagree with this tactic, be it Brexit, Russia’s growing influence or Trump’s presidency it works.

So, what can we learn from this? Well it’s difficult. It’s a matter of morality vs. impact. Negative news will always travel faster than positive news, so it’s about striking a balance. It’s where reactive commentary becomes priceless. When there is a negative to be dealt with, it’s essential that you have the finesse and balls to react to it in a way that will engage and inspire others. The best example of this in recent times…? Surely it’s got to be the way Finland reacted to Trump’s inauguration?

Why we can’t rest on our laurels when it comes to PR?

The PR industry, much like the advertising industry, has been challenged no end over recent years. At first the rise of internet, computers and connectivity helped to streamline admin, create new and measurable mechanisms and provide communicators with a more coherent way of working. Think emails, building journo relationships, doubling the number of press outlets via online press.

But, with any change comes challenge. Whilst the day’s of faxing journalists may seem like ancient history, and thankfully something I don’t personally remember (I’m still young I promise), it was the start of the PR revolution, much as it was the start of the consumer revolution. The control of the brand became diluted as the consumer grew its share of voice. And so, now we are presented with a new market, a new landscape whereby brands are at the beck and call of the demanding consumer. The consumer that can and will scrutinise a brands moves – be it their CSR or principles.

And with that comes a need for change. A need to embrace the new and perhaps most importantly the need to integrate. Advertising agencies no longer stand in isolation, and with that neither should PR companies. Whilst the phrase integration has become a little over used, it is essential that we truly get under the skin of what it represents, and how that impacts on our role as communicators.

In short people consume their content in new and different ways. The press release and boozy lunches no longer define what it means to be a PR. In fact, as many of you already appreciate, that never truly represented what communications was all about. Yes it’s important to build and sustain relationships, but this shouldn’t be as a result of a fancy lunch and a lavish Christmas gift. It should be as a result of proven and effective communications that delivers results.

The industry changes at a fast pace, so it’s our responsibility as communicators to maintain a level head when it comes to change. When VR surfaced, who jumped on it and used it effectively? How did they make it work for them? And did you miss the boat? If so, why? This is just one example of how a new trend and technology can pass you by without cause if you fail to engage in it fast enough. It’s not about being a ‘me too’ brand, it’s about being a true innovator, and if you want to deliver comms with real impact, it’s your job as a communicator to embrace change, identify relevant opportunities for your clients, and more often than not take a step into the unknown.

If you’re forever playing catch up, you will forever work with brands that don’t truly appreciate the impact PR and communications can have on its brand. In short, this means you’re forever going to be seen as old hat and out of touch. So, don’t rest on your laurels, look at how you can innovate and really make an impact for your clients. Bespoke communications is about tailoring your skills to best suit your client’s audience – don’t be me too, be the communicator that helps to shape the change.

#HelloNetto – Tasty Pastry Anyone?

As part of our work with Scandinavian supermarket chain, Netto, we were tasked with helping to launch Netto’s new Queen’s Road store in Sheffield – part of the firm’s plan to open 15 stores in 2015.

overviewWe wanted to get locals talking about Netto online, so what better way to do it then by getting potential customers to experience some of the great tasting (and surprisingly good value) produce Netto has to offer.
Our #HelloNetto tasty pastry Twitter take-over did just that. One of Netto’s hero products is the Copenhagener – a delicious almond and poppy seed pastry that is to the Danish what the croissant is to the French. Netto prides itself on its fresh pastries which are only 29-39p each.

selfie stationWe wanted to educate people on these tasty pastries – so for one day only – a week after the new store opened – Sheffield businesses were able to tweet for a treat! Our promo team delivered freshly made Netto pastries to organisations in and around the city in return for a tweet! The branded pastry boxes included a selection of Netto’s fantastically priced pastries along with details of the new store.

Recipients we encouraged to share their team’s thoughts about the pastries with the hashtag #HelloNetto. Throughout the morning, we delivered pastry boxes to more than 60 Sheffield businesses, receiving tweets from the city’s biggest brands and we even received requests for deliveries to Netto’s main competitors such as Asda and Upper Crust.

An in store selfie station complimented the online activity, with customers posing for a #HelloNetto selfie in return for a free pastry.

DixieThe campaign’s hashtag was trending in Sheffield all day with brand mentions and engagement sky rocketing across the board. Netto’s share of voice rose from an average of 1.2% (with Aldi and Lidl) to 21.4% on the day of the campaign. Radio drops offs led to campaign mentions by Capital FM and Heart FM presenters. The stores sales figures were the most successful of all new stores launches this year.

A month in PR and Social…

It’s been a busy few months at Prohibition HQ with some exciting new business wins, a few new starters and some successful PR and social campaigns (which is always a bonus).

Our latest campaign for flower experts, Interflora, saw us celebrate all that our lovely grandparents have to offer ahead of national Grandparents Day on 4th October. The campaign, which focused on our Grandparent’s pearls of wisdom and how the skills of the elderly generation are at risk of dying out forever, resulted in national coverage in Daily Telegraph and Huffington Post as well a range of articles in more than 60 regional titles.

Wall post 4Another of our recent wins is leading woman’s sleepwear brand, Jimmi Jamms. Having previously sold through Boots, the brand is back with a bigger, better, more comfortable range than ever before.  We helped to launch the new Jimmi Jamms online store at the beginning of September and we’re now busy leading on a massive influencer engagement programme.

As November approaches, the team is looking forward to the annual shenanigans at the PRide Awards Yorkshire and Humber. Prohibition is up for Outstanding Small Consultancy of the Year, Best Integrated Campaign and Best Social Media Campaign… whatever the outcome, we’re sure it will be an eventful evening… it usually is!

7 October 2015. Prohibition PR, Leeds.With some other exciting new brands joining the client roster (more of which later), we have continued to invest in recruiting the best talent the region has to offer. Sarah Hinchliffe has joined us following three years at Lenny Agency in Brighouse and we have Hannah Palmer back working with us part time as she finished her degree at Leeds Met following a stint at the Porsche press office.

Our recent breakfast briefing events in Leeds and Durham have focused on getting ROI from social media and have all been packed to the rafters – much to the delight of our MD Chris!

If case you’re interested, our next events are at the Novotel in Nottingham on 11th November and the Novotel in Manchester city centre on 18th November. Drop us an email if you’re interested in coming along team@prohbitionpr.co.uk.

 

Young’s Hire is tailor-made for Prohibition

We’re thrilled to announce that we have increased our client portfolio with the addition of Young’s Hire – the UK’s largest independent formal menswear rental service.

Young’s Hire has appointed our team to bolster its consumer relations strategy and drive footfall to its concessions, of which there are more than 195 across the UK, in stores such as Debenhams, Jeff Banks and Suit Direct.

Slate Tailcoat Bride & GroomThis latest win comes at the end of a hugely successful year for our agency which saw the team grow dramatically, with a move to larger premises in Chapel Allerton, having increased our client portfolio by more than 200%.

Chris Burns, Operations Controller at Young’s Hire, said: “Young’s Hire had a great year in 2014 and we are looking to grow even further in 2015. Young’s has always been a brand that is widely recognized on the high street but we felt we could benefit from some proactive publicity that engaged with our customers.

Offering first-class formalwear and matching accessories, Young’s is the go-to option for high street rentals.

Speaking about the win, our managing director, Chris Norton, said: “We’re extremely proud to announce this huge new account win. Young’s Hire is another fantastic high street brand that offers a quality service and we’re thrilled they have chosen to work with us on growing their profile even further. We’ve already implemented the first stages of our new consumer-focused strategy and are seeing positive results.

“2014 has been an incredible year for the Prohibition team and the fact that another prestigious brand such as Young’s Hire has chosen to work with us is testament to the team’s hard work paying off. Next year is already looking promising for the agency and we’re determined to continue our success, so expect more big announcements in January.”

Top 10 Social Media Disasters

Social Media DisastersBusinesses nowadays are becoming increasingly more consumer savvy and one of the ways to engage with a target market is via social media. However, everyone knows that from time to time people make mistakes, but unfortunately on social media platforms there is no getting away from it. Listed below are some of the biggest social media howlers out there.

 

Hurricane Sandy
American Apparel, Sears, Urban Outfitters and Gap are just a few to mention in accordance with this blunder, which ranks as one of the biggest social media gaffes of all time. Hurricane Sandy was the deadliest storm of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane season, which resulted in 285 fatalities. The companies named above, questionably decided to utilise this natural disaster to their advantage. The brands offered free shipping to those effected and said they should take advantage if they were ‘bored’ while the hurricane was in full swing.

Kenneth Cole
Everything was going swimmingly as global fashion Kenneth Cole launched its new spring collection. That was, however until the brand headed to Twitter to promote its new clothing range. The company sparked enormous controversy when it tweeted “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online”.

NRA American Rifleman
Timing is everything when it comes to social media and I think it’s fair to say that the American Rifleman well and truly miscalculated the timing of this tweet. The American Rifleman is a journal affiliated with the national rifle association. They tweeted a pro gun statement in the midst of a mass shooting.

Celeb Boutique
The clothing company Celeb Boutique jumped on the social media trending bandwagon as they tried to promote a Kim Kardashian endorsed dress. They alluded to the fact that the trending topic of the mass shootings outside a cinema in America was actually due to an item of clothing. Celeb Boutique later apologised for the tweet and claimed they didn’t know about the disaster at the time.

KitchenAid
During the 2012 presidential elections KitchenAid got involved in the political sphere by tweeting Barack Obama directly. Unfortunately the tweet was about his deceased Grandmother. The tweet was by one of the social media team and they later apologised for the incident.

Pigalle Boston
As time progresses, different organisations are becoming increasingly respondent to negative criticism on social media. This is usually resolved by an apology or in some cases a good will gesture. However, that wasn’t the plan of action for Pigalle Boston. When the company received some poor customer feedback via Facebook, the restaurant decided to hurl abuse rather than apologise to the customer. If the use of profanities wasn’t unprofessional then the manner in which they handled the situation definitely was.

T.G.I Friday’s
Another great example of a social media mishap is when T.G.I Friday announced a fake Facebook page. They ensured that when the page had 500,000 followers, free hamburgers would be provided to all its customers. What started as a good promotional activity was soon derailed, as the company deleted the Facebook page and faltered on their promise.

Ketchum PR
Ketchum is among the largest and most geographically diverse agencies in the country, however this didn’t stop a senior member of staff at the agency dropping a real clanger and upsetting a major client thanks to social media.  Senior employee James Andrews tweeted a negative statement about the home town of one of its biggest clients, FedEx in Memphis. Again, like many of the other blunders listed above Mr Andrews was made to apologise and later left the agency.

American Red Cross
In 2011, an American Red Cross employee mistakenly sent a tweet stating how they were ‘getting on the beers’ – hardly something you’d expect to see from a charitable organisation. Whilst there was initial fallout with followers making complaints about the tweet, the situation was rectified by both the company and employee, who diffused the situation with a series of explanatory and light hearted tweets.

Tesco
Tesco is the UK’s leading private sector organisation so it was no surprise that when the horse meat scandal came to light, there was public uproar. People took to the keyboards to vent their frustration at the huge supermarket chain. The social media team then sparked even further outrage when they tweeted at the end of the night, stating they were going to ‘hit the hay’. Tesco later apologised and claimed they didn’t know about the situation before they tweeted.

 

Have we missed any of your favourites off? Let us know what your top social media howlers are in the comments section below.

 

How mobile is paving the way for social media developments

Worldwide mobile phone sales are on fire. Currently, over one billion mobile web users are scrolling through the 1-4G universes, and their massive influence over social networks is becoming increasingly more apparent. If you’re after a good example, look no further than the new Facebook new Messenger app and how hard they’re pushing it on consumers, or how popular the Vine app is among brands for creating simple, snappy video content.

4183229960_edcbb4dd6bSo what does this mean for the PR industry? It means get mobile, quick. Communities online are only going to get more connected via mobile apps such as Snapchat and Jelly, so focusing purely on digital PR that fits computer monitors is no longer the’ be all and end all’, as it’s just no longer enough.

Assessing mobile habits is a good start. Knowing which apps are popular and what makes them so in demand can be done through a quick browse of the Apple App Store or Google Play Store; once you’re aware you can begin applying this to your own strategies on social media, such as what type of content to use for your brand in terms of video, visual, interactive and when to upload it.

It’s also wise to be aware of which apps are useful to use to your advantage for your respective communities, whether they will have a maximum outreach and generate leads and whether it’s worth having a presence on them at all.

Thanks to its global appeal, it’s likely that smartphone use will keep growing in the near future, so keeping an eye out for the latest developments is a must for any PR professional.

Now, go back to checking Facebook on your smartphone.

Photo Credit: 27147 via Compfight cc

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?

It’s official: online marketing is the next big step for British companies

With the news that the majority of digital marketers are forecasting that their budgets will grow significantly this year, it seems that companies are finally understanding how vital it is to have a strategic marketing strategy that works online.

Research in the US, carried out by Best Practices, LLC found in a study of digital marketing firms, at least 72% predicted that their levels of online marketing would increase by a minimum of 10% in the next year. This is a trend that is being mirrored over here in this country, where it was recently announced that companies spent £800 million on online marketing alone last year. Such a large sum is only set to increase, with companies being urged to use social media as a way to market themselves in 2013 but this is nothing new and we have been banging on about it for quite a while.

an article taken from AshdownGroup's websiteWriting on the topic, PRnewswire.com said that “Digital Marketing technologies are transforming the commercial marketplace – challenging companies to develop new marketing skills and employ a broad range of new tools and techniques to engage customers.” As the new technologies are beginning to be used by more and more companies, those who are not yet doing so risk falling behind their rivals.

As a company that understands online marketing, we at Prohibition PR are aware that some companies may struggle to understand how to market themselves effectively.

Eileen Brown, a social media consultant, said that “Whatever you do, do not ignore this sea change. It is now time for your business to evolve and embrace social media – or be left behind to fossilise.”

I thought I would share that quote as I thought maybe she had read our website before she decided on that quote. Ha ha

This view is one that we agree with but social has been around a while now and is therefore not really new anymore. Companies do still need to take the next step by marketing themselves properly online, or else they will fail – it’s as simple as that.

With digital marketing becoming so vital to success for companies, it falls to agencies that specialise in the practice to instruct these corporations on how to maximise their marketing potential online. Essentially though it still comes down to clever ideas that work both online and offline. Clients still want good ideas!

What do you think to the fact that companies are increasing their levels of online marketing? Drop me a comment, all feedback will be much appreciated.

Nokia’s budget smartphone gives the masses access to social media on the move

Nokia’s encouraging sales figures, recently published, have shown how people from all backgrounds are becoming ever-more keen to access social media and interact with others.

The Finnish firm, which has been around for years and has been responsible for some iconic phone developments in years gone by, had been left behind as the new kids on the block, such as Apple, brought out new technologies which they were unable to match. To put it simply they failed to see the smartphone explosion and were left behind which resulted in it losing its majority market share.

Nokia Asha But the news that Nokia’s ‘budget’ Smartphone, the Asha, is outselling the top-of-the-range Lumia by more than two to one, shows how people who previously could not afford to are now able to buy a smartphone. The introduction of more affordable alternatives, such as the Asha, allow more and more people to access a smartphone and therefore access social media at the touch of a button.

Since smartphones first became mainstream in the early 2000s, the number of people accessing social media via mobiles has increased dramatically, and with it the need for affordable phones which can offer access to networks has increased. The number of people who have Smartphone is constantly increasing, and the social media sites know this. Now it seems that the mobile brands do too. Whilst previously some people could not afford the high prices that they have always cost, Nokia seem to have taken advantage of this new market of ‘budget’ phones with it’s new Asha phone which, whilst not as efficient and capable as premium phones, allows an affordable alternative to the masses. Whilst premium phones, such as the iPhone, are out of the price range of many, budget alternatives are accessible for almost everyone.

Whilst other phone companies, such as Apple and ZTE, are also rumoured to be planning the introduction of more basic Smartphone, Nokia has got in early and capitalised, a necessity after the recent successes of other big mobile brands which has left it lagging behind. The company has helped bring social media on mobiles to those who previously may not have been able to afford it and that is great news for us working in the communications industry as it means we have more opportunities to engage with these new people. We only have to take a quick look at our client’s Google analytics to see how mobile devices are being used to view our websites and blogs. The team created a report last week for one of our clients and we noticed that mobile devices had gone from being just 10% of visitors last year to 27% of visitors today. It’s pretty clear tablets and mobile devices are the future of the internet.

Do you think cheap smartphones are a good idea?