How to manage your brand reputation online

The secret to becoming a world class brand? Going beyond social presence. Technology has enhanced the ability for brands to engage consumers anytime, anywhere –but you can’t just rely on the technology alone. In the fast-paced world of GoPro, Netflix, Spotify and Instagram, let’s not forget Pampers, Oreo, Dove and Charmin. And for good reason.

The success of these legacy brands proves that while creating a kick-ass marketing content strategy is vital, maintaining reputation is just as (if not more) crucial to your brand. So how do you keep up?

Here’s a few tips to get you started:

Monitor what people are saying about you

Blog posts, social media, customer comments, reviews, Tweets need to be on your radar. Every time you find a comment about your brand online, remember others can see it all over the world. However, sifting through all your online data can be time consuming. Tools such as, Google Alerts and MonitorThis, are easy to set up and allow you to filter to get the relevant notifications.

In today’s highly competitive world, tracking and listening to social conversations aren’t enough. Brands need to proactively engage with consumers – this includes responding to both positive and negative feedback and reviews. Nobody wants to do it, but to manage your online presence, you must deal with negative feedback head-on.

The best way to protect your brand image is to work to resolve negative criticism. Not all feedback is bad feedback, distinguishing the harmful from the productive is key. If there is feedback that you can work with – it is often useful to keep your response visible, just make sure you are able to identify the difference between trolls and constructive criticism.  Stumbling across posts or comments that are less favourable means that your target audience can too, which is why removing negative comments from internet trolls on your website or blogs is vital too.

Create amazing content

Anyone can sit down and write a ‘standard’ blog post, but creating ‘amazing’ content — that takes time, dedication, and effort. That’s what Oreo’s Halloween 2015 campaign demonstrated when the brand created a Vine video series spoofing classic horror movies featuring cookies.

Understand your audience

This always has (and always will be) key to maintaining a relationship with your consumer whether it’s online or offline. One brand that gets it is Netflix. The video streaming company leverages its vast amount of data to dig deeper and understand who its social audience is. Whether it’s a famous quote from one of its available titles, or a GIF that summarises how most of us feel about the video streaming site, Netflix continues to create content that its users can relate to.

   

Embrace the weird and run with it 

Whether it’s fun, silly, quirky, factual or awkward – embrace your target audience’s humour and reflect that in your brand’s personality. The big names in branding don’t just use social to market products. They create a community that can come together to share advise, feelings and memories. This is simply learning to nurture your target market. The iconic nappy brand, Pampers, creates a safe online platform for soon-to-be parents to come together as they embark on the adventure together.

Big bang versus thinking small

When toilet roll company, Charmin, were faced with the difficulty of creating excitement around their loo roll, did they succumb to the challenge of coming up with a killer marketing strategy? Nope, they introduced #TweetFromTheSeat campaign, where consumers could participate in the hilarity of Tweeting while…er, doing their business. Ridiculous but effective.

Satisfy customer cravings

Whether it’s a Galaxy chocolate advert or the latest news on upcoming technology trends for 2017, it’s worth tapping into consumer insights. A great way to pique your target market’s interest is to empower users – user generated content makes the brand more approachable. This also allows you to convert their eagerness into a marketing win. Users get the opportunity to share their own story socially.  GoPro not only create great content for social but also amplify user-generated content with zero ad spend. Win, win!

The bottom line is that your online management and reputation is important, now more than ever. Brands need to stay abreast with what is happening with their image online. Once you’ve found your online voice, be mindful of your ongoing image and how you want to be seen to the world. No two brands are the same and neither is their reputation. It is about identifying the right strategy that works for your brand.

If you need help creating your personalised brand strategy, drop us a note at hello@mutant.com.my

5 strategic benefits of PR

Why should I spend money on PR?”

It’s a question many business leaders and entrepreneurs ask when allocating their marketing budgets. And even though it’s possible to drive a business with minimal or no PR spend, it’s unlikely that the brand will ever gain traction in its industry or key markets.

Many businesses regard public relations as an afterthought and the PR machine is only activated when they are hit by a scam or crisis. On the other hand, brands with consistent PR efforts are able to create long-term sustainable accomplishments, and are far more successful in dealing with negative publicity.

What’s more?

  1. PR helps generate leads

A targeted media outreach backed by high-value content assets (data studies, whitepapers, opinion pieces) will gradually convert into a lead generation machine, catching eyeballs of the right investors, talent and prospects. With the right messaging and strategy, PR can increase your credibility as a stable and potentially lucrative investment target while cultivating relationships with key opinion leaders.

  1. It helps to boost your SEO

For any brand, the key to driving visibility and positive impressions relies on being top of mind. And, the importance of SEO becomes even more critical as brands must be present and found online, easily. The more media coverage a brand receives, the more links it receives back to its website. Links from reliable, trustworthy media sources rank high in Google’s algorithm, leading to better search results.

  1. Trust for editorial content is more valuable than ads

PR’s approach to positioning your business in the public light differs greatly from that of advertisements. Media reports suggest that consumers trust third-party editorial content (which is shareable and can be re-purposed), more than any type of advertising or endorsement.

  1. PR builds successful thought leadership

Thought leadership is one of the more strategic approaches to building up the credibility of CEO’s and business leaders. It provides a great opportunity to accomplish critical business objectives, evangelise company culture, support recruiting efforts and gain partnerships and endorsements. A well planned out thought leadership campaign is not just limited to publishing opinion articles but also creates a pipeline of events, conferences, speaking opportunities, and of course social media.

  1. PR enables cross-channel messaging

Creating a digital editorial calendar is critical to keeping your company’s messaging consistent across your key distribution channels. By combining information for your blogs, email marketing and PR efforts, you ensure consistency and one unified message directed to all your content channels.

With the rise of digital and social media, the fight for attention has never been greater. Trust can be difficult to build and reputation has become even harder to protect. PR helps build brand honesty and credibility, and it’s one of the best investments a business can make.

“If I was down to the last dollar of my marketing budget I’d spend it on PR!”
– Bill Gates 

 

If you need any help with your 2017 PR efforts, drop us a note at hello@mutant.com.my.

5 PR tips to get you through the festive season

So, you’ve made it to December. You’re probably wondering where the last 11 months have gone, but hey ho, it’s now time to start looking ahead.

December is a month that is notoriously filled with back-to-back celebrations. From year-end parties to Christmas and New Year gatherings, it’s full on – but it’s also a time where some people (and businesses) slow down as they mentally prepare for the next year.

However, the media doesn’t stop. Newspapers and magazines are still being published, and TV news doesn’t take a holiday either. Journalists are always on the lookout for new stories and ideas – in fact, this slower time of year often means journos are keener than ever to be approached with thoughtful content. It’s basically a prime time to pitch!

Here are some PR tips to help arm you throughout the festive season and keep your business on track well into the New Year:

  1. Pitch, pitch, pitch!

The worst thing you can do is go silent during this month. Instead, keep pitching and stay in touch with key journalists. Research what’s trending and create content pieces or use past ideas and share them with the media. Keep things fun, and where possible make it relevant to the festive season. Even if your story isn’t immediately picked up, the journalists have you on their radar for any future stories, and you can follow up come January with a fresh pitch.

  1. Become a social butterfly

It is the party season after all! So get out there and spread those wings. Meet new people, attend industry events, parties and talks. Chances are you’ll bump into members of the media or like-minded people that may have an interest in your business. Have fun, but keep your PR radar on for any opportunities to spread the good word about your brand!

  1. Keep connected

Yes, your usual media contacts may be away enjoying their holidays but there will be other writers and editors you can connect with. This will also help expand your PR network and database in general. Stay on top of your target publications and check out who’s writing stories that are relevant. If you’re not sure who’s holding the fort while your closest journalist contacts are away on holiday, pick up the phone and find out.

  1. Stay socially active

Whatever your do, don’t forget to remain active on social media. Today’s consumers live and breathe social all year round, and this includes Christmastime. Whether you are manually posting on your company’s chosen platforms or using management and scheduling tools such as Hootsuite, make sure you have a strategy in place – even if you are on holiday. Staying active helps keep your brand top of mind and maintain the traction you’ve built up throughout the year. Download our social media content calendar template to help you map out your social plans across the next month and into the New Year.

  1. Plan ahead

Given December is a quieter month, use this time to plan your PR calendar for the New Year. Map out your communications goals and get prepped for new announcements or launches which you know are happening in 2017. Create plans, make calendars and add in tentative timelines to stay on track with execution, ensuring you start the New Year off with a bang!

So what are you waiting for? If you need advice on how to use the festive period to your advantage, get in touch with us at hello@mutant.com.my.

 

4 things Casey Neistat can teach you about PR

This week CNN announced that it has acquired shortform video app, Beme – the product of a collaboration between ex-Tumblr(er) Matt Hackett and filmmaker Casey Neistat. Never heard of Beme? You’ll be forgiven. Despite a promising kickoff, the video messaging app (akin to Snapchat) never achieved widespread appeal and suffered a ropey adoption curve.

The acquisition (reported to be $25 million USD) represents a logical skip-jump for CNN, who have come along way from their broadcaster roots to become a 24-hour global multi-platform network, and a consistent adopter of new mediums. In an age where anyone with a smartphone can become a news correspondent, it was only a matter of time before a global network like CNN dipped its toes into shortform video.

What seems clear though, is that CNN is really buying Casey Neistat, the filmaker turned vlogger who regularly draws over 20-million views to each of his daily vlogs and, who arguably changed the entire vlog medium by bringing a filmmaker’s lense to a disposable, low-fi format.

Here are four key PR lessons you can learn from Casey Neistat:

1. Be open and real

Neistat leads a successful tech company, yet he talks to his audiences through channels and forms that they understand and can connect with. When Beme started having technical issues, rather than a smoke and mirrors approach to hide his company’s shortfalls, he was open and sincere about the mistakes. As a result, he was able to build greater trust and buy-in from the public and key stakeholders.

2. Trust a influencer’s integrity – it’s what makes them valuable

With nearly 6-million subscribers, Casey inevitably monetises his activities with brand partnerships. However this doesn’t mean Neistat becomes a starry-eyed spineless brand ambassador. Instead he’ll often work closely with brands such as Apple or Canon, only to criticise the products, albeit in a constructive and level-headed way.

Working in PR, we often bang our heads in frustration when a story hasn’t gone quite the way we planned, or didn’t even land at all. But it’s the influencer’s ability to speak honestly about products that separates the role of PR from owned media and is precisely what gives it true value. Brands who understand this will always work with influencers like Neistat, respecting their unswayable integrity, rather than treating them like glorified infomercials.

3. Storytelling is everything

 

casey-neistat-content-strategy

Neistat hammers this home with every video he creates, from ads with Nike, to vacation vlogs in Vietnam, to Beme itself. With a growing emphasis on native and content-based advertising, it seems that many marketers get distracted by the medium over the message. In essence though, nothing has actually changed. Storytelling is and always will be the most crucial element – irrespective of platform, medium or screen.

PR’s value-add is its ability to really understand the audience and convey a story to audiences with unparallelled authenticity and sincerity. Consumers and the media are now more savvy, discerning and BS-resistant than ever before, so make sure your story is compelling, interesting and not just a sales pitch.

4. Know when to zip it

Neistat’s usual topics cover technology, gadgets, filmmaking and storytelling. However, on a few occasions, Neistat has stepped off-piste into commenting on areas outside his usual content, such as the US election. He was met with quite a violent backlash from the YouTube community who didn’t appreciate him stepping off his impartial boosted-board.

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-4-29-19-pm

So what’s the lesson? Make sure you understand where your area of knowledge lies and stick to it. The media may often look for outsiders to comment on subjects outside of a spokesperson’s field, either to offer a fresh perspective or draw them out of their comfort zone. Succumb to the temptation to enter another arena – even slightly – and you risk alienating your brand, diluting your core messaging or, at worst, diving headfirst into a PR disaster.

As a hybrid of consumer, creative agency, tech evangelist and influencer, Casey Neistat has made more impact on the content marketing ecosystem than can fit concisely into this blog, and nothing says this more than CNN’s latest purchase. It’s certainly an exciting time to be in content marketing and PR.

If you need help spreading your brand message, get in touch with us at hello@mutant.com.my

Image source YouTube

The rise of digital: How an online strategy can complement traditional PR

Let’s face it, we’ve moved into the digital age. APAC is now home to more than half of the world’s internet users, where there are currently 1.83 billion Internet users and 1.43 billion social media users. Comparing this with 2014’s figures of 1.2 billion internet users and 9.6 million social media users, that’s a whopping 52.5% and 47.5% growth in each category.

With the shift to digital, comes a lot of change in the way we communicate and absorb information. Consumers are expecting different forms of interactions, which means the way we communicate with our audience should evolve too. Here’s a few things to consider:

1. Establish your online presence

A key component of PR is working with the media. But in today’s context, the media is not restricted to solely print media – it extends to bloggers, social media influencers, e-magazines and more. Firing off press releases to engage only traditional media is simply not enough anymore. These days, people are almost always online. Failing to be where your audience is could harm your business and you’ll get left behind. A digital strategy establishes your online presence, builds brand reputation, and engages your audience with relevant and useful content. This results in increased visibility on search engines and following count on social media platforms.

2. Apply personalised communication

A digital strategy creates two-way communication and brings the audience into the conversation with options to share their opinions and thoughts. It also offers a personal look into your organisation – afterall you are reaching out to real people.

3.  Grab their attention

Attention spans are dropping, and long-form content from print does not work in the digital landscape. Instead, a good digital strategy delivers bite-sized attention-grabbing information to readers, with links to longer content such as formal press releases, blogs, or media coverage.

Traditional PR no doubt still has a place, but a digital strategy can complement those efforts and elevate it further. A smart mixture of both extends the reach of a purely traditional PR approach, and ensures your business stays on top of its game.

If you need help seamlessly executing a comprehensive PR campaign, drop us a note a hello@mutant.com.my

 

What Trump’s victory can teach us about today’s media

His quaff has been compared to everything from salmon nigiri to the silky tassel on the tip of corn on the cob.

His triumph as President Elect has confused everyone from his own supporters to my grandma.

He’s… *sigh*. He needs no introduction.

The US Presidential Election results had us squirming and swivelling in our office chairs all year. Not because of our respective political views, but because we’re in the business of communications. As specialists in the marketing and PR field, we were just cringing about how fast his controversial messages moved with the right format. Sadly, in the days of partisan Facebook groups, memes, and Twitter, false messages can go viral quickly.

What can we learn from this? Is there a silver lining to this mayhem? Whatever your position on Trump’s politics and message, his win says a lot about the type of content that travels. The shorter, the better. The more conviction, the more viral.

We could have written a Mutant blog about what NOT to do according to the 2016 Presidential Election, but we want to keep it light (and we weren’t sure if WordPress could support 5000-page manifestos, TBH.) So, while the first debate taught us how to live tweet, here are some brand messaging lessons we learned from the Trump win:

1. Sound bites make the news

“I’m gonna build a wall.”

“It’s freezing and snowing in New York – we need global warming!”

Sure, it’s a whole lot of crazy, but these words received media coverage – not just because they were outrageous, but because they were short and said with conviction. It’s not uncommon for politicians to drag on about unpopular policies, but people just tune out. In Trump’s case, his short, syndicated quotes travelled fast. In any news event, journalists literally sit through press events waiting to pick up on a soundbite that will draw in viewers or clicks.

Trump was at goldmine for these. The Cheezel-hued President Elect received a ton of free media coverage because his messages were easy to digest by mass media.

Ensure your own (less crazy) company message is short and concise. For example, when telling people what your business believes in, say it with conviction, and make it easy to digest and repeat to others.

2. The general public is THROUGH with jargon

One of the reasons some citizens don’t vote is because politics can be confusing. The dialogue is full of inconsistencies, and it can be hard to follow if you’re not regularly tuning in. Trump wanted to appeal to the general public and the working class, so he avoiding talking too much about policy and spoke to the people about their everyday problems.

You’ll easily be able to see some parallels between politics and business. Both are important for mobilising people; they’re hard to understand unless you’re in the industry, and both topics can be dryer than Donald’s throat during Debate #3. Here is how he explained his stance on illegal immigration:

“I will build a great wall – and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me – and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. Mark my words.”

Ok, ok, it sounds like it came from a children’s story book. Be simple, but still sound smart.

By using soft, simple terminology that anybody can understand, not only will your message be loud and clear, but it will be easier to spread. Start with the need of your audience, before you start to sell your product. If you’re a tech company, for example, talk first about what need you’re appealing to, then talk through the product.

3. Branded content trumps traditional advertisements

Trump became a walking billboard for his campaign. In fact, he has allegedly spent only a fraction of what Hillary had on ads. He is a walking content strategy, so much that the camera follows him, not the other way around.

To maintain this level of consistency, company leaders need to always be preaching their values and conveying them in everything they do. To C-Suite leaders, whether you are writing a blog, speaking at an event, or speaking on television, be consistent and stick to four or five core values. You know you will have succeeded when you people are unable to differentiate you from your brand and values. For some, Trump is a symbol for change; for others he is an unpeeled, boiled sweet potato headed for Office – but his message has been consistent. It’s just his audience that varies.

There you have it. The Donald’s message is what it is, and there’s not a lot we can do but learn from it.

Need help with getting noticed in the media? Write us at hello@mutant.com.my.

 

Image credit: marieclaire.co.uk

 

5 myths about Public Relations

Working in public relations (PR) has it’s fair share of benefits – cool product launches, exclusive parties, and getting to meet some great leaders and innovators – but the profession has been somewhat glamourised by a few Hollywood films.

public-relationsFact: It’s unlikely you will lead a life like Samantha Jones

Don’t get us wrong, life in the PR fast lane can be glitzy, but behind the scenes there’s a lot of hard work, research and pressure for results. Let us bust a few of those common PR myths.

  • MYTH 1: PR is just press releases
    “Why are we paying you so much to just sent out a couple pages to media?”

Reality: PR does not stand for press release. Public relations is about building long-term relationships with the media and the members of the public through a defined strategy and campaign. Anyone can send out one press release – but what you’re paying for is experience, relationships, strategic insight, networks and expert advice and account management to portray yourself and your business or product in exactly the right light. If you’re doing this across multiple countries, it’s even more work. Don’t underestimate how much work goes into getting your name out there.

  • MYTH 2: PR is easy
    “Anyone could do it.”

 

Reality: Yes, well, you could try but you won’t necessarily succeed. Good PR takes time and a lot of research. You need to constantly be in the know about what journalists are writing and which topics certain journalists cover, and how to pitch your story in a way that will capture their attention. If you don’t do this right, you risk embarrassing yourself and your brand, offending a journalist, and losing the game before you even begin. PR is not just parties and fun – there is real work that goes on to get the right coverage with the right results.

  • MYTH 3: Public relations will make me an overnight sensation
    “Following this press release, I’m gonna be a millionaire overnight.”

Reality: While you will definitely see an uptick in sales, sales or website traffic, understand that PR is about long-term engagement. A strong public relations and marketing strategy will undoubtedly help grow your revenue and help make you successful, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Building brand awareness, trust and credibility is a slow and steady burn that needs to be managed well.

  • MYTH 4: Only large public relations companies can do the job
    “They will have the resources and staff to handle my needs”

Reality: Big agencies are obviously good at what they do, but depending on your needs and your brand, a smaller, more nimble agency can become your ideal partner. And it’s not just because it saves you money – it’s a combination of less bureaucracy, being quicker to adapt, and the ability to have more senior managers on your account. Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better.

  • MYTH 5: My business is doing well, so public relations has no value
    “Only bad products and images need PR.”

Reality: PR has more value than you think, even if things are going well. It’s not true that PR is only necessary from a crisis point of view, when things are going wrong, or when you want to change an audience’s perception. That can be part of the role, but more often that not, PR is about letting your customers know about all the great things you’re doing. Customers today are savvy – they know the deal. They turn to the Internet for credible write-ups and reviews of a product or service before they decide to purchase – and this is something your advertising dollars alone can’t buy.

So there you have it! There is a lot more to PR than meets the eye.

If you need help in spreading your brand message, drop us a line at hello@mutant.com.my.

 

Main image source: Pinterest

Brangelina: The PR Breakdown of a Break-Up

The story of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie is one of a carefully constructed image. Since day dot, their public relations machine has been churning out stories to present a snapshot of their performances and their personal lives with the widest public appeal.

This is the same for every celebrity. Charlie Sheen is a Hollywood bad boy; Beyonce is “Queen Bee”; Jennifer Lawrence is the dorky girl next door, and Kim Kardashian (no matter what you think of her) is America’s sex tape celebrity-turned marketing genius.

However, when Brad and Angelina first ‘came out’ to the world, their respective images went from Hollywood’s leading man and woman to homewrecker, cheats and liars. You know the story – Brad was married to Jennifer Aniston, and met Jolie while filming Mr and Mrs Smith. Both denied any romance between them, yet it was a matter of days between Brad and Jen announcing their divorce and Brangelina being snapped on the beach together. Our favourite Friend was painted as the sweet, innocent victim while Angelina was the sexy-but-evil ‘other woman’.

(Brad, as the man in this equation, mostly got off scot-free while the media pitted (lol)  #TeamAng and #TeamJen against each other. But that gender narrative is a whole other blog.)

The point is, there is so much that can be learned about creating, managing and framing your public presence from celebrities – especially now that Brangelina is no more. Yep, Angelina filed for divorce on September 15, citing “irreconcilable differences”.  

So let’s take a stroll through the history of their relationship, and follow the PR powerhouse of Brangelina for a few insights into taking control of your own story.

Control your narrative

As celebrities, people are always going to talk about you. In fact, that’s the point (and the job description.) The only problem is that it can be difficult to manage your own story when everyone is in on it – but it’s a great lesson to the rest of us about front-footing any news where and when you can.

As soon as Brad and Ang were photographed together for the first time, their PR machine was quick to turn things around. It didn’t take long for the stories to change from “Homewrecker Angelina!” to “Angelina Jolie – The New Mother Theresa”. A global humanitarian outreach strategy was the perfect antidote to the backlash the Tomb Raider star was facing, placing both her and Brad in strong positions as they helped with relief efforts and won humanitarian awards.

brad pitt, angelina jolie, brangelina, divorce, public relations

The photo that started it all (Credit: US Weekly)

Beyond this, they were experts at linking their growing, global family to the ‘do-good’ narrative they had going. They were healers, humanitarians, adoptive parents of children from third world countries, and were using their power to heal the world. Even Brad’s image benefitted from the strength of the Jolie narrative. He went from being Jolie’s ‘victim’ (or the main villain, depending on which way it was spun) to a “great dad” and humble sidekick to her global humanitarian efforts.

Their story flipped from sex and scandal to one of family and fundraising. Talk about a 180-degree campaign.

Stronger together: A PR portmanteau

It probably took less than a year for Ang and Brad to shed the negativity and become a brand united. They weren’t individual celebrities anymore – they were Brangelina.

brad pitt, angeline jolie, brangelina, face mash up, public relations

The United States of Brangelina (Source: gesichtermix)

Many other celebrities have tried to ride the same mashed-up name train, and failed. It wasn’t that Brangelina had a better ring to it than Bennifer or TomKat – it was that their joint story was stronger, more believable, and unique. Apart, they probably would have done alright for themselves (okay, who are we kidding, they’re millionaires and on-screen royalty – they would have been fine) but together…. they became unstoppable.

Indeed, any story about Ang also became about Brad, and vice versa. When Angelina announced her double mastectomy via an op-ed in the New York Times, Brad also released a statement to say how “heroic” his wife was, cementing their partnership and joint brand. See? Alone? Okay. Together? Better.  

From a PR perspective, two is so often better than one: An entrepreneur who launches a successful business is a great story, but a ‘philanthropreneur’ who also gives millions to solve the world’s problems is an even better one. If your business has a founder with an interesting story, that’s great, but two founders with incredible backstories is front page material.

Staying on-brand, for better or for worse

Even when things go south, it’s important that a brand’s messaging stays on track and all parties involved aren’t thrown to the wolves. Even though Ang and Brad have split up, the news and announcement of their divorce would have likely been no accident. Just because the main players have split doesn’t mean the game stops being played.

It would have been a calculated decision to ‘leak’ the divorce papers at the same time his new film trailer for Allied dropped. In fact, it works in Angelina’s favour, too, as their joint production company, Plan B, depends on the film doing well. At the same time, she gets to be the public front-footer of the divorce news, as the one who filed the papers in the first place.

Plus, Angelina has her lawyer in her corner being on brand by saying that she filed for divorce “for the health of the family”.

Perfect messaging from a well-oiled PR machine – something everyone can learn from.

Looking for strategic help to create, manage and pitch your brand? Get in touch with us at hello@mutant.com.my 

I’ve launched an entire company on my own, I can do my own PR, right?

The email addresses of the reporters are online, I have friends of friends who can introduce me to some reporters at Channel NewsAsia. I can save some money and do my own PR, right?

Well you could. Then again, you could also buy your own property without an agent and represent yourself in court. The question is then, would that really be the best way forward?

The most important thing about PR is not the media contacts, it’s the narrative. What an agency can provide is a seasoned ear that can counsel you on what exactly are the really juicy stuff that would be interesting to press and then find a way to package it.

You know that saying: “When you are too close to a situation (in this case your business) you can’t see the big picture”? This is exactly that.

If we had donated a dollar to charity for every time a client wanted to release to media the outcome of an “internal meeting” or “upcoming revolutionary product upgrade”, the world would be a better place.

So back to packaging, how do we do it exactly? Here’s the secret. We take a magical blend of the following:

  • Your objective for the PR effort (e.g. get more users to your product, build buzz before an upcoming IPO?)
  • Your key messages (e.g. what makes your business special in the market? Reliability? Cost-effectiveness? Proven R&D?)
  • Your initiative / announcement (e.g. Doubling your headcount in Singapore? Tie-up/partnership with another firm for an initiative? Received a round of funding?)

We will use all this information to provide journalists and influencers with a comprehensive narrative that will articulate your brand in the best way possible.

Without the narrative, you may still get the coverage, but trust us, it won’t have the same impact on the readers. There’s nothing worse than securing a big interview but losing the story because the message was lost. It won’t leave a lasting impression.

Need help kickstarting your next PR campaign? Get in touch with us at hello@mutant.com.my.

Why you need to hire a cross-functional PR and content agency

As PR and content professionals, we’re no longer just writing releases and making calls, we’re producing videos, directing photoshoots, filming vines, writing literature, overseeing design work, and some of us need to breakdance. Okay one of us.

Public relations is one of the fastest moving industries, and that’s mainly due to how much digital has changed the way audiences perceive brands. Likewise, content marketing has been the advertising industry’s hot new potato for the past few years and we have to learn a new skill every quarter.

In order for agencies to keep up with the demands of our clients, we need to be agile and perform roles outside of our departmental silos. At Mutant we have a small team, but we are also flexible ninjas at adapting to new roles. Three of the skill requirements for working with us is 1) flexible 2) digitally savvy 3) parkour.

When hearing pitches from agencies, pay attention to how big their team is. Is it a huge agency where they’re passing clients to juniors down the line? Do you know your main point of contact and content producers? Get to know the roles of each member you’re working with and their skillset.

If you’re not hiring an agency, but want to have a cross functional team, it’s not easy. But it is achievable with some guidelines. It takes a lot of planning, structure, patience, and snacks to get everyone on the same page. Here are some tips on how to build your own cross-functional team.

  • Clearly defined roles: To avoid the “that’s not my job” culture, make sure everyone in the team has a clearly defined job description with expectations of crossover duties. This can avoid any work left incomplete, or tasks ignored. With explicit roles, team members will know exactly what is expected of them, and they’re just not dropping in and out of the conversation and getting involved as they please. I.e. “The content manager is responsible for all video strategy, but contributes 3x weekly social posts.”
  • Set standards: Learning on-the-go is fun, but you can save hours if you spend one day training a newbie on what “done” actually looks like. When everyone has more than one role, there can be some heavy inconsistencies.
  • Creative brainstorms: Getting stuck in your own silo means you’re recycling the same ideas over and over. Once a week, sit down to share some creative ideas across the entire team to see them through (in our case, everyone does PR and content ideas).

This means getting ideas from all departments, because nowadays, data teams could be offering PR teams some killer insight, likewise content professionals might know all the buzzwords that the sales team need to close those deals.

  • Set limits: One of the biggest downfalls of cross-functional teams is work being put on one person. Deadlines for specific deliverables should be set. To set realistic deadlines that get done, don’t overload work on to one person.
  • Be resourceful: We don’t mean re-using post-it notes. Be resourceful with your staff. Not everyone is hired to do the job that they’re meant to do. One benefit of having a cross-functional team is to be able to allocate resources properly. If you see a flailing staff member, give them the option to move onto another project that they might be better at.
  • Have several accountable leaders: With some staff members grinding out the details, it’s hard to see the project as a whole. The trend towards cross-functional teams means we’re losing that old-school hierarchy mentality that inhibits pro-active and creative staff. That being said it’s important to share leadership functions and make sure each project has a different team leader that’s accountable for seeing the project end to end.
  • Training sessions Not everyone will walk into a role knowing how to do multiple jobs. Team training sessions are valuable for staff members to step in if someone is sick or away. A monthly training session on photoshop, content, press releases, pitching to the entire team is essential.

If you can’t change your team or hire staff to be agile, hire an agency that’s able to adapt to new changes in the media landscape.

To find out more about one of the quickest moving teams in the industry write to us at hello@mutant.com.my.

 

What a legendary Hollywood talent agent can teach you about PR

We’re in the business of shining the spotlight on other businesses. So to do a little research,  I watched a documentary on sixties Hollywood talent agent, Shep Gordon and learned a thing or two about what it takes to make other people famous.

It’s alright if you haven’t heard of him, that’s his job – to make other people famous.

In the documentary Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon you see the talent manager’s chain of life events unravel, and along the way, I picked up tips on about how he successfully managed the world’s most famous personalities at the time. If iPhones existed in the sixties, Jimi Hendrix, Dalai Lama, Janis Joplin and Alice Cooper would be WhatsApping him on the regular.

Here are the qualities that separate a novice from a true PR professional:

Mr Nice Guy wins

Professionals who work in public relations have a clear swagger to them. They have the magical ability to smooth over gaffes as if they were all part of the act. But PR agents don’t need to be overly polished snobs like Samantha from Sex and the City. PR is one of the few jobs where being nice actually gets you everywhere.

Shep’s was the king of normcore style. He was low-key, if not a little Terry Richardson-esque (sorry) in the wardrobe department.  But he was known for his amazingly warm demeanour and was super easy to get along with. This is what matters in PR. Keeping it real gives you an edge.

The sky’s the limit.

Shep had the most out-of-the-box ideas for PR stunts. He invented the concept of ‘celebrity chef’. He was the first to introduce top chefs to the entertainment industry – inviting them to appear on shows and act as ambassadors for cooking products. There are many avenues that go beyond traditional media to achieve brand awareness – he went against the tried and tested method and achieved one of the best strategies to reach out to the crowd.

Take risks – it’s okay in PR!

When getting truly creative, you always have to take a risk – it is a make or break situation that can get people talking. For Shep, any PR was good PR.

The American agent came up with a PR stunt in London, staging a breakdown of a huge truck in Piccadilly Circus, displaying a risqué photograph of a nearly naked Alice Cooper, his modesty preserved by a strategically placed snake. The streets went wild, it literally stopped traffic. Everyone wanted to know who Alice Cooper was.

 Get social (offline)

You need to be a social person to be in PR. You need to be comfortable around people and have confidence. If you’re not a social butterfly, it’s time to practice.

Every chance you get, sign up for gallery openings, networking events, after parties. Being around new people makes you more aware of how to manage different personalities, and make new friends.

Be genuine

You’ve heard it so many times – but you hardly find sincerity and genuine people, especially in the PR industry. We get flak for always wanting something in return – a piece of coverage, or a pitch. Stop this stereotype and try meeting people without a motive – have a genuine interest in the other person and always make sure to ask them about themselves before blabbing about the client you want to promote.

In a Forbes article about him, Shep was quoted, “What’s really important for me is to do compassionate business.” We need some love and compassion – and it can start with PR. It is a tough job, but Shep reminds me about how amazing it can be when done right.

#PR4EVA

For help on making your business shine, get in touch with us at hello@mutant.com.my

Go small or go home: Why boutique PR agencies are crushing big firms

At the speed of digital trends, do you want a PR agency that’s agile like a fox or sturdy like a buffalo?

Big PR firms have the manpower, resources, and contacts to execute campaigns quickly, but advances in technology means brands need the flexibility to pivot to suit the mood of today’s on-demand audience.

Here are a couple reasons why you should hire a boutique agency over a big firm:

Skilled Staff

More manpower doesn’t mean a higher quality of work. At some larger agencies, smaller accounts may be handed down to junior members or even interns.

At a boutique agency, there is a specialist for everything. By nature, these smaller companies follow lean organisational structures stripped of multiple management levels and stringent systems and constant revision. This makes the team more nimble, enough to weave past unnecessary approval processes that eat up your billable hours.

They’re part of the ‘hacker generation’

Smaller companies tend to have a startup mentality: Fearless, resourceful, unorthodox problem solvers.

They are known to approach barriers from the outside and sometimes, through the backdoor instead of waiting for the higher-ups to approve a solution. On top of that, staff at leaner agencies enjoy taking the unconventional routes that keeps them on track with or sometimes even ahead of the consumers.

They thrive on change

Change is the constant of boutique PR firms, and they are well-equipped to move along with key industry trends and developments. Rather than fearing new technology, smaller agencies race to be the first to use a new platform or tackle a new social media trend.

With fewer people, revisions are also easier for boutique agencies. If an internal structure is holding back results, managers at small agencies will not hesitate to remove or reform them, to power your business and theirs forward.

Skilled Staff

With the internet bubbling over with too much information, brands need more creativity, quicker.

It’s become clear that advertising is no longer just the business of selling your product or services. Instead, it is now all about making their brand a part of the customer’s everyday life. In order to be there with the customer every step of the way, brands need to be able to tailor strategy at the very last minute.

This is typically where the big players have struggled to keep up, given their internal business reglementations put in place to ensure consistent organisational structures.

What I feel is imperative for businesses today, is to steer themselves away from the traditional view of how bigger or more is better. This can be done through re-evaluating business goals and looking further into what the boutiques can bring to their table, helping business owners get the best bang for their buck.

Need more advice on choosing the right agency for your business? Contact us at hello@mutant.com.my

Contact Us MY

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.