Our Twelve drummers are drumming up our annual Christmas challenge

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I predict a RIOT in 2017

A riot will always generate headlines, so should you be challenging your PR agency to incite one? 

Of course you should.  But far from provoking violent political unrest as the title here suggests, what I’m really advocating is the skilled use of Research, Insights, Opinions and Trends.  Yes, sorry to disappoint guys, it’s an acronym.

Getting to the nub of what journalists want is central to good PR.  A recent survey asked PR agency MDs and directors how much time their staff spend on media relations.  The results were interesting – 78 per cent said they spend over half their time, with around a third, 32 per cent, spending three quarters of their time on media relations.

Earlier this year, Twelve made a concerted effort to ask its target journalists what they want from PRs, and without exception it genuinely was research, insights, opinions and trends. A RIOT.  Were we surprised?  Not really, no. It’s what we’ve been doing for years, but it’s always good to confirm we’re doing it right – especially given the focus now on digital communication channels.

So how do you create a riot in PR?

Research done well, can deliver a strong publicity platform.  From day one at Twelve, we have had a qualified market researcher both on board and on the board. Twelve’s research director, Nicky Smith, cut her research teeth working for the Guardian and Observer newspapers, and works with the PR team to deliver credible, interesting and newsworthy data that works hard to the news agenda and beyond.

Our research projects adhere to the Market Research Society’s Code of Conduct and have delivered great coverage for our clients because they’re robust, well thought through surveys.  Our guiding principal is to use research to present an organisation’s expertise and knowledge.  All too often research is presented as a sales puff – a sure-fire way to hack off a hack.

Insights are another popular media relations tool.

Defined as the capacity to gain an accurate and deep understanding of someone or something, insight is, in my view, the bedrock of creativity in PR.  Good PR is inquisitive, observant, well-informed and open-minded and at Twelve there is solid investment in brainstorming to get to the root of an issue.  We dig deep; challenge conventional thinking; think the unthinkable, ask the questions that others shy away from.  We are, if you like, conviction PRs. Insight gives us the means to stand up for our campaigns.  This is important because if insights are right, you’ve got the basis for truly successful media relations.  And if you compromise too far, you lose the story.

Opinions create headlines

Every sector has its known opinion formers – those who say what they think with real conviction and stand by their opinions. You may not always agree with them, but it’s certainly no accident that they get more coverage than most.  Why do journalists keep going back to these people? Because they’re available anywhere, any time and will always have something interesting to say.

Trends on the other hand, can be manufactured and they’re PR heaven. A seasonal example is Hamley’s ‘Most popular toys this Christmas’ list. A trend with that amount of credibility and longevity is PR gold – especially on social media where everyone loves a listicle. (A listicle?  Did I really say that?).

2016 has been a year of turmoil and upset. And I predict that in 2017 the use of research, insights, opinions and trends will come to the fore more than ever as we seek to make sense of Brexit, Trump and whatever this new world of post truths throws at us.

Remember a time not so very long ago when ads had to be legal, decent, honest and truthful? Sadly, events this year have highlighted just how far people are prepared to misinform to get what they want. I predict a backlash (as well as a riot).  The media have a duty to up their game and challenge the information they’re given.  RIOTous PR will play its part in this.

So does your agency have what it takes to incite a RIOT next year? 

Can it deliver credible research, insight, opinion and trends? If not, give us a call and we’ll do a bit of rebel rousing for you.

12 drummers

The PR Show: through the eyes of a fledgling PR

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We sent our intern, Katy Roberts, currently studying PR at Sheffield Hallam Uni, to the PR Show 2013. Finally, (after handing in her dissertation) here’s her take on the trade show’s inaugural run as a fledgling PR professional:  

The first event of its kind for the UK public relations sector, The Public Relations Show was held on the 26th November 2013 at the Business Design Centre in London. The show brought together over 1,000 PR practitioners to share the latest tips and trends currently happening within the industry and was seen as something of a milestone, as an event like this has never taken place before, and yet shows that the PR industry is growing and that the demand for an event such as this is clearly there.

This was particularly exciting for my fellow course-mates and I, because, as fledgling practitioners ourselves, we were excited to have the chance to network with experienced PR professionals and experience the wide range of different areas that the public relations industry has to offer.

The event was hugely popular and the atmosphere was both exciting and slightly overwhelming. Surrounded by various stalls from a range of PR agencies and suppliers, I didn’t really know where to start! The conference was really useful for harnessing my networking skills, chucking me in at the deep end.

Once I’d gotten into the swing of things, I felt a lot more confident. I found myself engaging in conversations with senior PR professionals, and I picked up loads of really useful tips about being a fledgling PR professional, almost ready to go out into the industry. I also learnt about a wide range of different services that the PR industry uses, such as media monitoring and social media management and their importance within the world of PR. I’d heard of some of these, such as Gorkana, but the conference really helped open my eyes to just how broad the PR industry is.

A really great aspect of the PR Show was the wide range of really interesting talks, from a number of leading practitioners and PR agencies about a huge range of different topics. Some of the leading speakers included people such as Alan Aiken, the Executive Director of Communications for the UK government, Peter Bowles, the Creative MD at Dynamo PR and Rob Cartwright, the Global Corporate Practice Director at Ketchum PR.

The talks themselves ranged from “Aligning PR with corporate strategy”, held by Alistair Smith, the managing director of corporate communications for the Barclays group, to “How technology is changing internal communication” held by Malcolm Cotterell and Kate Barnes, Development and Engagement Manager and Employee Engagement Advisor, respectively, at CrossCountry Trains.

Other talks focused on the challenges of healthcare PR, successful creative campaigning on a low budget and quantifying success by monitoring social media measurement, to name but a few. I feel like the talks on creative campaigning on a low budget and on social media management would have been especially useful for a fledgling practitioner like myself just starting out in the industry.

My only wish is that some of these talks were made more accessible for students of the PR industry, maybe by providing a season ticket or concession rate for some talks would have been incredibly useful. There is also far more scope for engaging students, break out sessions or fringe events covering topics such as graduate schemes, professional membership and talks from specific PR areas, would be widely welcomed.

All in all, I really enjoyed the day – it was incredibly interesting and provided me with a useful insight into the industry that I’d not had before. Did you attend the PR Show 2013? What did you think?