How to get your message across, nowadays – building trust.

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People don’t want to hear from ‘experts’ any more.

Trust in leaders of any description – from business, charity, politicians, NHS – has dropped dramatically.

You need to give your staff a voice – all staff not just the management  – if you want your company message to be trusted and believed.

What does that mean and how do you go about building trust?

Our day-to-day experience in PR, measuring what campaigns work best, has been showing us for some time that content from junior staff or public feedback gains the best traction – the most views, shares and positive response.

It seems that only people ‘lower down the ranks’ have any authenticity – people who have nothing to gain by promoting a particular point of view, or equally have nothing to lose by telling it like it is.

Now a survey carried out by FleishmanHillard Fishburn has backed this up.

…“leaders of companies were seen alongside politicians as being amongst the least credible sources of information (7% and 2% respectively).

Conversely, employees ranked alongside family and colleagues (34%) as the most credible sources of information.”

The Authenticity Gap

Here’s what to do to get your message across

Be honest

Identify your messages. What are you trying to say? For example, it might be that ‘your company is a great place to work’ or ‘our products are made from better quality components so will last longer’ or ‘our response times will be better’.

Find the evidence which backs this up. The evidence might take the form of internal sales information, product information and supplier details, or actual happy staff and customers.

Identify natural spokespeople

Look for people who are happy and comfortable to describe their experience, and record them or gather their words.  Transcribe what they say or collate the information,

Use as much visual material as you can

Video content is ideal and it must have subtitles, but a slide show of photos is great; a strong graph, a funny picture. An interesting infograph. Visual communication is the most powerful medium you can employ.

Find the correct channels

Don’t try and reinvent the wheel, but do be creative looking for outlets, think of all your stakeholders and what media they consume at work and play, and then explore how your content would be appropriate and engaging on that channel.

Help people find it

After you’ve been creative in developing content and finding the right channel you then have to be ultra-meticulous in how you reference it. You must have the right links, tags, and meta descriptions attached to your content. Describe your photos, check your URLs and snippets.  It does take time but you need to help google help you.

Use the professionals

When you have to work so hard to get your message across, and when false news or disbelief can cost you so much in lost sales or opportunities, it’s worth investing in people to help you get it right.  They won’t speak for you but they will help your voice be heard.

For an informal chat about how we can help your authentic voice to be heard, drop me an email nicky@twelvepr.co.uk or call me on 01608 495012.

To read the original research about trust click on this report title: “The Authenticity Gap”.

B2B, B2C or consumer PR?

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People often ask me what sort of agency Twelve is,  B2B or consumer?

Does the definition make any difference to the campaigns that are developed and how effective they are?

I just read a really interesting article on this subject which prompted me to write this post.  The article was in the Drum, written by Jeri Smith, chief executive of Communicus.

(Hadn’t heard of them before so checked them out online. What a great statement they have on their web site: “Communicus provides advertisers with insights to strengthen campaign effectiveness and build brands.” That’s what I call walking the talk.)

Anyway to return to the subject – B2B, consumer or B2C.

Campaign objectives

How would you define PR and marketing for education?

– Is a private school, looking to attract new pupils, targeting parents as business prospects or as consumer prospects?

– Does it change when it’s a state school, does that make it all about consumers?

– What about when a school is trying to recruit high quality teachers?  Is that a business transaction?  Does it call for a B2B campaign?

How about universities?

– How would you define their need to raise awareness about their excellent research, to attract more funding, is that a business campaign?

– Does the need to ensure the public hear about the research through national media channels make it a consumer campaign?

– Is supporting student applications during Clearing a business campaign, like recruiting teachers, or a consumer one?

I’ve always thought it a strange dichotomy, the way we treat business people, as if they have two heads.

Two heads good, one head bad

One head we target with a business message, through business channels in a business-like way to get them to discover, say, the technical brilliance and benefits of a new metal coating which will improve their manufacturing processes and reduce costs.

The other head we target with a consumer message to encourage them to try a new shampoo which will make their blond highlights last longer and be less likely to start looking ‘brassy’ over time.

The article in the Drum tackles this subject with science.  You can’t beat some good hard science.

System 1 and System 2

Jeri draws on the work of Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman and his book ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’:

“Kahneman delineates two modes of thinking: “System 1” is instantaneous, driven by instinct and emotion; “System 2” is slower, driven by deliberation and logic. Kahneman hones several decades of research to emphasize how people attribute far too much importance to ‘rational’ human judgements in decision-making. Specifically, he explains that even when we believe we are making decisions based on rational considerations, our System 1 beliefs, biases and intuition drive much of our thinking.”

Maximising impact

This is where it impacts on the definitions between business and consumer campaigns:

“Business people have their own notions about brands. A huge proportion of these ideas are derived from humans’ System 1 belief system. And much of what resides in our System 1 belief system are impressions yielded from our own experiences. When it comes to brands marketing to both consumers and B2B targets, the business target has deep-seated impressions of the brand that affect their decision-making. And where do those come from? In large part, consumer advertising.”

The point is that people never see messages in isolation. The same head sees the consumer advertising, or interesting piece of editorial your PR placed for them to learn about how to maintain their hair colour, as also sees the business campaign.

Jeri concludes: “Kahneman’s insights, so beloved by consumer marketers, apply just as much to B2B: design advertising so that the target remembers the brand in a way that drives a (non-rational) connection to the brand in their System 1 thinking. Rational ad sells don’t work any better among B2B targets than they do among consumer targets.”

PR messages and content

Of course as a PR agency we don’t think about adverts we think about messages and content, but the principal is the same.

Often we use the B2B / consumer / B2C definitions to help us cut out wastage – if you want to reach process engineers, the majority will be reading ‘Process Engineering’.  A few will read Good Housekeeping or GQ but not many.

This argument was often used when I was at The Guardian to clinch an ad sale.  Overall more teachers read the Daily Mail, but a greater proportion of Guardian readers are teachers.  Your advertising spend if you want to reach teachers is therefore more targeted or effective in The Guardian, the argument goes.  But then almost all the people who read the TES are teachers…This is all starting to sound like navel gazing.  Where does it get us?

Influence

Our aim as a PR agency is to help influence in an honest way – to reach people and influence their opinion.  To make them aware of your proposition or qualities and ultimately to convince them to act on that knowledge.  That might be to purchase; apply to a new school; recommend something to others; reward them; fund them; entertain them; campaign for them, vote for them etc.

So to return to the original question, are you B2B, B2C or just consumer? The question should be framed differently.

Are you targeting a business or consumer audience?  This gives us a useful way to identify the most effective channels for reaching our targets.

An effective PR agency

In these terms Twelve is an agency which targets both consumer and trade audiences.

But in terms of emotion and impact, key factors which guide our strategic thinking and planning, we should completely ignore the false divide between business and consumer.

We an agency which helps people to reach and influence other humans.

 

You can read the original article in the Drum at:

http://www.thedrum.com/opinion/2017/04/20/the-1-engagement-problem-why-most-b2b-advertising-fails

 

 

 

 

 

Writing key messages

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A great message can come to you in a flash, or you can work on it for days on end. Here’s some tips to help you with the process of writing key messages.

 

Your key messages can and should change quite often.

Your product or offer might not have changed, but your audience or your market probably has.

It’s especially important to get your messages right now that we’ve entered the era of unreliable reviews and ‘post truth.’

A great way to start is to return to the basic ‘what, why, where, when’ to define your offer.   Then it helps to check your messages against some key factors:

Evidence

What evidence do I have to back up this statement?  This could be market research, product testing, a case study or a client quote.

Target audience

What features or benefits do I need to convey to my different target audiences? What are their concerns or needs that I can meet or help?

Positivity

Am I using positive phrases and actions? A complicated sentence is often perceived as less positive or honest.  Use short sentences with positive convictions.

Understandable

This sounds so obvious as to be silly, but actually you should check –  are you so wrapped up in your product bubble that you’ve adopted marketing speak rather than normal words and sentences?

Writing good, convincing key messages is an art form, like writing a good tweet.  We cite Rob Temple who built his fortune on the twitter feed, followed by the books: “Very British Problems.” 

His tweets look so innocent and funny, like a sudden observation of a moment of awkwardness: but he often takes one whole day to write a tweet.

So if you’ve lost your sense of humour, and are so bogged down writing key messages and PR content that you can’t see the wood for the trees, follow the tips here and take a moment to read this post from the Creative Review about writing protest signs.  I guarantee it will make you smile and refresh your copy writing skills:

“An emergency guide to writing protest signs”