Getting Grounded about PR

You know all this worry and stress we have every day about some bit of technology not being properly understood by its target audience, or a misquote that has got the client up in arms – the ‘etc etc etc’ of daily B2B public relations and brand journalism? Here’s a quick, sure-fire cure. Go and work for a bit with a real-world, real-problem client. Because that’s a guaranteed way for you to both see the wood for the trees… as well as reminding yourself that what you do really does matter. This was all brought home to me by a bit of a situation relating to my current pro bono client, South Wilts Mencap. Note I said ‘current;’ I absolutely would recommend any PR worth their salt to have a charity or small startup or artist or community organisation that you offer your help to, for reasons I think will come clear in a second. (Note I also said ‘pro

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Closing out the PR Vs Corp Comms Love Triangle – Good PR people also ‘protect’ your message

Today I want to finish off the conversation I started with you last time (‘CORPORATE COMMS AND PR: A MATCH MADE IN HELL. IF YOU GET IT RIGHT…’) about the relationship you should be looking for between your in-house corporate communications team and an external PR resource. As I argued – as I really, really believe it – that relationship needs to be one with a certain amount of friction. Why? Well, the two parties should be fulfilling very different roles for you, as the CEO or CMO of a modern IT software and services company. You need your in-house people focused like a laser beam on managing the internal stakeholders, which absolutely without question means your investors. They need to be honing the messaging and product positioning as much as possible. BUT, when it comes to expressing that messaging to the outside world, the temptation is always to hold on to the message a tad too protectively – which

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Corporate Comms and PR: A match made in hell. If you get it right… part 1

So this is a longer blog than usual but I think it’s justified to be so.I’ve even done a part 2 to keep you on your toes I’d like to talk a bit about a subject that we haven’t really had anything on here on GUARDIAN OF YOUR VOICE: the relationship between the in-house, corporate communications team and an external PR service. You might not see any conflict there at all; one’s the client, the other is the contractor, right? Well, that’s what a lot of people think – which is where the trouble begins. Let me explain. In the ‘blue’ corner stands corporate communications. What is their function, what are they tasked to do? To guard the client. Their focus is on internal communications and satisfying internal stakeholders – which by the way never should be taken as meaning just the staff or management, but very, very importantly, investors. These guys are experts at protecting the brand, defending it,

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The Answer has to be Mutual Respect between Agency and Client, Surely?

Hello again! The last few times we talked, I was debating the topic of client boundaries – how to negotiate the issue of client conflict, where you take on a new B2B company that suddenly moves into an area that an existing client is in (or you get approached by a company that likes the work that you’ve done for a rival and wants more of the same magic pixie dust being sprinkled on them, too) (e.g. ‘So, Mr Client: You going to trust me or not?’). As we noted, this isn’t such an issue for bigger agencies, who get round the issue by setting up mini daughter agencies for the new business or who erect ‘Chinese Walls’ internally, banning consultants on the one account discussing things with the guys on the other. More of an issue for smaller agencies like Sarum. This is fine if you are big enough to warrant the expense or disruption. It just isn’t always really

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So, Mr Client: You going to trust me or not?

Last time we spoke I had posed a question that is increasingly an issue for us here at Sarum: is there any way a small, focused agency (like we are) can professionally service multiple clients who end up in the same addressable market? As we noted, big-brand global agencies do this by creating new dedicated sub-agencies that work for the new competing client – the phrase ‘Chinese Walls’ (impermeable barriers between teams) coming up a lot here. But for an agency that is Sarum-sized, and as we’ve said we want to continue being ‘Sarum-sized’ (see ‘IS EVERY POTENTIAL CLIENT A SARUM CUSTOMER? NOT NECESSARILY…’), that’s not always a viable option. So – do I say no to new business? This is what happens in practice. In not just a big agency like the ones we are talking about, the WPPs of the world as it were, but the mid-range ones, they solve the problem by having multiple agents working in

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Is there a way to maximise opportunity, but still be ethical, in B2B PR?

Hello again! Thanks for coming back to my blog. I’ve been busy, as ever, which is great. I can cope with most of what I have to do, which is fantastic – I love this way of making my mark on the world. But now and again my working day throws up a challenge that I have to take off-line to think about – and that’s what I want to debate with you here today. This happened last week; something happened on a call that was sort of awkward and good in equal measure. And I know I need to address it and talk about it. I’ll be interested in hopefully getting opinions around this from you guys, actually – it would be very helpful. The issue: having a conflict of interest with a client; what they deem, or you deem, as such, in other words. Let me explain with an example from another part of industry: big consumer brand

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