CAPABILITY: Many agencies will claim to offer PR services, but that may not be their main area of focus. The websites of design agencies and SEO providers may list PR as an additional service, but if it’s not at the very core of the agency’s business then it may play second fiddle to the rest. And if a PR agency claims to offer social media, but its Twitter feed lacks engaging, original content or, worse, is not regularly used, beware.
SERVICES: Draw up a list of the services required. Depending on your needs, media relations, corporate communications, crisis management, social media and content development might all be on the list. Many agencies provide only some of these. Look for examples of their work in these fields.
SPECIALISATION: Ask the agency about the industries and sectors that it has worked in, and any that it considers an area of specialisation. Sectors aside, what are the broader business and regulatory issues that its clients have faced, and how has it helped clients develop a stance on them? Experience gained handling these issues may be of direct relevance to your organisation.
EXPERIENCE (AGENCY): Look for names of businesses in your core market, or in vertical sectors where you are active, or intend to be active. Find out if any are current clients of the agency and how long they have been working with them. A longterm working relationship with a client suggests that the agency works hard to understand a client business and delivers consistent results.
EXAMPLES OF WORK: Agency activity for clients should be supported by case studies that clearly show how an agency met client objectives. Campaign results should be clearly demonstrable and backed up with metrics. Many can provide an indication of return on investment, although be aware that some will employ Advertising Value Equivalent analysis to establish this ROI, a subject addressed in a previous Passnotes.
EXPERIENCE (INDIVIDUAL): Find out about the team that will be working on the account if they win the business. Did they work on the case studies that the agency provided to establish its experience? How long has the team been together? What other work have they done at the agency, and outside? Is there a broad mix of experience, talent and skills? Are the roles clearly defined? WRITING The stock in trade for PR agencies is the written word, and this remains as true for social media as it does for traditional print media relations. A prospective agency should be able to provide copies of case studies, blog posts, articles and news releases to show that its writing is engaging, persuasive and of a high standard.
MEASUREMENT: Find out how a prospective agency will capture, measure and report campaign achievements. It should be willing and able to incorporate metrics that align PR activity with a client’s broader business objectives. Insist on metrics that capture the agency resources that are being put into account activity, and a system that highlights any activities that are starting to drag behind.
CHARGING: Agencies employ different charging models, so it’s important to understand how these work. Broadly, these break down into two areas. Some agencies charge for their time – by the hour, half‑day or day – and dedicate a specific amount of time to a client account each month. It’s important, therefore, to determine from the outset what will be achieved with that time. And it will be important to control additional requests for agency time to handle unforeseen requirements each month unless an allowance has been made for the extra hours involved. Others charge a retainer, or management fee, typically paid monthly or quarterly. For the client, this provides certainty when it comes to budgeting and usually allows for a closer and more flexible relationship, as the agency should be able to price in a level of support to meet unforeseen client requirements. However, the agency should agree to a specific number and type of activities in return for a retainer, while any disbursements associated with the account should be subject to a cap unless separately agreed on a case-by-case basis.
THE FEEL-GOOD FACTOR: Finally, PR and marketing is very much a ‘people business’, and the wider team needs to get on well. How personable, open and helpful is the agency team? How willing is the agency to make regular meetings and visit the client to discuss story leads and new opportunities? It’s also important to ensure regular access to senior agency executives – ideally, they will be involved in day‑to-day client activity
- Learn more about your audience
- Target the audiences more effectively
- Find and support new customers and affiliates
- Increase web traffic and search ranking
- Get content shared quicker than before
- Utilise advertising and generate new leads
- Provide customer service through social media
- Reposition existing content (press release/case studies) to a new audience
- Gain and influence other thought leaders in the sector
- Spot the trend and new products through competitor handles
At the risk of revisiting what is a well-trodden path, it might be useful to consider what exactly makes a good press release. The following tips are the result of many years of experience, and a seasoned understanding of what the media looks for in the releases it is sent.
1. Consider closely whether the announcement really is news; if it is timely, and if it is of interest
2. Focus on the Who, What, When, Where of the story – but most importantly, Why?
3. Consider that many journalists edit a release from the bottom up, so put the crux of the story first
4. Adopt the correct tone, avoiding ‘ sales speak’ or marketing terms – it’s not a brochure
5. Banish jargon, buzzwords, acronyms and highly technical terms from the text entirely
6. Use correct grammar and punctuation and adopt and maintain the third person throughout
7. Keep the release short and to the point – use 500 words at most. It’s not a feature article
8. Provide interesting quotes that add something to the story. Consider that one is usually enough
9. Ensure the press release is supported by striking images with suitable captions 10. Include a boilerplate and list contact information, background details and any editors’ notes
The case history provides an overview of a customer experience or end user application, demonstrating how a product or service meets the needs of the user in question.
Done well, a case history is a powerful sales tool that can be put to a wide range of PR and marketing purposes. It is highly valued by editors and represents once of the best ways of achieving detailed, in-depth coverage in the trade and business media.
Below are ten tips on what to remember when drafting and orchestrating a case history:
1. Consider the primary audience. Sales channel or end user? If sales, then direct – or dealers and distributors?
2. Highlight any challenges the application presented and explain clearly how these were overcome.
3. Focus on the business benefits that have been achieved, such as efficiencies gained or processes improved.
4. Underline any financial savings made; expressed in monetary terms if possible, or percentages if not.
5. Obtain written approvals from all parties – especially the end user and share target
media lists if requested.
6. Source visually arresting images to accompany the case history, even if these are only library shots.
7. Tie the case history to any regulations that govern the use or specification of the product or service.
8. Include supportive quotes from the end user or the customer wherever possible.
9. Produce a more sales-orientated version of the case history to form the basis of
powerful sales collateral.
10. Consider turning the case history into a brief video – especially if end users are willing to talk.
Algorithm: The technology that a search engine uses to deliver results to a query. Search engines utilise several algorithms to deliver search results.
Backlinks: A backlink is any link received by a web page; directory; or website. These back links bring traffic to a web page. Backlinks are an important element that most search engine algorithms use to measure the popularity of a web page.
Blog: A personal or themed journal published online, consisting of entries (“posts”) displayed in chronological order, typically expressing the interests or expertise of the writer.
Click Through Rate (CTR): The rate (expressed in a percentage) at which users click on an ad. This is calculated by dividing the total number of clicks by the total number of ad impressions. CTR is an important metric for online marketers to measure the performance of an ad campaign.
Directory Indexing: One of the key factors of online directory submissions is the creation of backlinks to a site. By listing a website in the top directories, a website will get the required exposure online. This will then mean that the website will be indexed
Blog: A personal or themed journal published online, consisting of entries (“posts”) displayed in chronological order, typically expressing the interests or expertise of the writer.
Click Through Rate (CTR): The rate (expressed in a percentage) at which users click on an ad. This is calculated by dividing the total number of clicks by the total number of ad impressions. CTR is an important metric for online marketers to measure the performance of an ad campaign. Directory Indexing: One of the key factors of online directory submissions is the creation of backlinks to a site. By listing a website in the top directories, a website will get the required exposure online. This will then mean that the website will be indexed
Directory Indexing: One of the key factors of online directory submissions is the creation of backlinks to a site. By listing a website in the top directories, a website will get the required exposure online. This will then mean that the website will be indexed through search engines and improve rankings.
Keyword Density: Ensuring that content reads naturally and detracts from ‘keyword stuffing’ (when keywords are continually being mentioned). Content that is not dismissed as spam and therefore not a negative effect on SEO.
Link Bait: Editorial content, which is often sensational in nature, posted on a web page and submitted to social media sites in hopes of building inbound links from other sites.
Link Building: The process of getting quality websites to link to your website, in order to improve search engine rankings. Link building techniques can include buying links, reciprocal linking, or entering barter arrangements.Meta Tags: Information placed in the HTML header of a web page, providing information that is not visible to browsers, but can be used in varying degrees by search engines to index a page. Common meta tags used in search engine marketing are
Meta Tags: Information placed in the HTML header of a web page, providing information that is not visible to browsers, but can be used in varying degrees by search engines to index a page. Common meta tags used in search engine marketing are title, description, and keyword tags. On-page/Off-page Optimisation: SEO is divided into two key areas.
On-page/Off-page Optimisation: SEO is divided into two key areas. On-page optimisation which covers improvement to the pages themselves (content, keywords, meta description tags, ALT tags, internal linking, keyword density, and usability). Off-page optimisation is the activity that can be done off the pages of a website to maximise its ranking in search engines (link building, inbound links, AdWord campaigns, and tracking all active keywords).
Organic Links: To help generate backlinks to a website it is important to build up organic links to a site. Search engines register the links as recommendations to a site and the more people you have sharing content, the more you will improve on SEO rankings. Pay Per Click (PPC) or
Cost Per Click (CPC): A performance based advertising model where the advertiser pays a set fee for every click on an ad. The majority of text ads sold by search engines are billed under the PPC model. Search Engine Marketing (SEM): The process of building and marketing a site with the goal of improving its position in search engine results. SEM includes both search engine
Pay Per Click (PPC) or Cost Per Click (CPC): A performance based advertising model where the advertiser pays a set fee for every click on an ad. The majority of text ads sold by search engines are billed under the PPC model.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM): The process of building and marketing a site with the goal of improving its position in search engine results. SEM includes both search engine results. SEM includes both search engine optimisation (SEO) and search advertising, or paid search.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): The process of making a site and its content highly relevant for both search engines and searchers. SEO includes technical tasks to make it easier for search engines to find and index a site for the appropriate keywords, as well as marketing-focused tasks to make a site more appealing to users. Successful search marketing helps a site gain top positioning for relevant words and phrases.
Social Media: A category of sites that is based on user participation and user-generated content. They include social networking sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook or user-generated sites like YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram. Webinar: A virtual web-based seminar. These can take the shape of a panel discussion, lecture, presentation, workshop, or seminar. Webinars are becoming more and more effective and a cost-effective way of sharing knowledge and skills to a wider audience.
Webinar: A virtual web-based seminar. These can take the shape of a panel discussion, lecture, presentation, workshop, or seminar. Webinars are becoming more and more effective and a cost-effective way of sharing knowledge and skills to a wider audience.
IFSEC and FIREX allow exhibitors to meet prospects and customers and provide a great platform to launch products in front of a large audience – expected to be 45,000-strong from more than 150 countries.
Of course, attending an exhibition requires significant investment, organisation, and logistics. It’s vital therefore to maximise your exposure and get the best bang for your buck.
Are you confident that you’ll get the most from your attendance? Have you told enough prospects that you are exhibiting? Are you giving them compelling reasons to visit you? Will you shout louder than – and so stand out from – the rest of the crowd?
With just under two months before doors open, and at the risk of giving your marketing department even more to do, our checklist will help make your exhibition a PR success!
1. Press release
You may have already issued a press release previewing your attendance. If not, you’ll need something that provides journalists and their readers with an overview of what they can expect to see on your stand.
Issue a well-written and newsworthy story to your core media as soon as possible. Many print deadlines will have passed, but online publications will publish right up to, and during, the show.
2. Press pack
This press release will also form the basis of an overview for your press pack, but you might want to include additional product press releases that provide in-depth information about any products being launched at the show.
Also include a company profile if you have one, together with relevant product images.
Don’t overload the pack with brochures or sales collateral. Submit your pack to organisers in good time and it will be made available for attending media.
3. Media interviews
Ask journalists to visit your stand for interviews and product showcases.
Hundreds of exhibitors will vie for attention, so offer them a tempting story. Prepare your staff and anticipate the questions that journalists might pose – especially on contentious issues.
4. Advertising and direct marketing
Direct marketing messages, whether to leads on your own database or to data gathered for the show, can highlight your attendance at the exhibition. Advertising, meanwhile, generates brand awareness.
Well-placed advertising in online media also drives traffic to your website, especially when it carries a tantalising offer or incentive to visit your stand. Do ensure that any website you advertise on can provide accurate and meaningful metrics so you can judge the success of any campaign.
And don’t forget alternatives such as Google AdWords, sponsored tweets, and LinkedIn ads.
5. Social media
Promote your attendance through posts on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
Provide teasers on what visitors can expect to see, promote incentives and post daily reports throughout the show using images and videos. A decent smartphone is perfectly adequate for capturing these if handled well.
Hashtags such as #IFSEC and #FIREX allows you to jump into other conversations around the exhibitions and exposes your posts to a wider audience. Finally, exhibiting provides a great opportunity to increase your social media following, so promote your social media channels on printed materials and exhibition stand visuals.
An incentive scheme can lure prospective customers to your stand.
Often something like an iPad is offered, but this is an opportunity to be imaginative, to identify a hook that will resonate with your audience. For example, footfall can be driven by decent, readily accessible refreshments, workshops and brief technical presentations, giveaways, or by using promotional staff to tour the halls and send visitors to your stand.
7. Data capture
IFSEC or FIREX present a golden opportunity to capture sales leads.
A pre-prepared email that thanks people for visiting your stand can be sent at the end of each day. It may seem obvious, but capture a visitor’s interests and grade them according to the business they might provide.
After the event, supplement your data with any databases exhibition organisers or other sources are willing to share.
8. Speaking opportunities
IFSEC and FIREX speaking opportunities allow you to share your technical expertise, demonstrate your understanding of the marketplace and build the profile of your executives.
Keep any presentations brief and educational. Avoid overtly ‘salesy’ language.
And don’t forget to repurpose presentations as blogs, white papers or social media content after the show.
Consider producing a video that captures your exhibition stand and products. The cost of hiring a professional crew has plummeted in recent years.
Ask valued customers to answer a few questions on camera to produce short but powerful video testimonials for your website or YouTube channel.
If a dedicated crew is beyond your budget, the exhibition organisers sometimes send a camera crew around the halls. It might be possible to get them to stop by your stand.
10. Establishing ROI
We’ve all heard the question – usually from the FD: “What will we gain by exhibiting?”
Without metrics in place, it is indeed difficult to establish the value of attending a show. However, marketing activity immediately after the exhibition should turn stand visitors into warm sales leads.
The successful conversion of leads then allows you to accurately measure your return on investment. Overlaying this data with any media coverage generated, new social media followers and traffic to your website over the exhibition period will, in turn, capture any boost to brand awareness.
Finally, don’t skip the all-important post-exhibition debrief. What worked? What didn’t?
What did you see on other stands that you could adopt, or improve on?
After all, there’s always next year…
This month we will be mailing out our complete Passnote series pack to clients and members of our contact list. The pack contains:-
During 2016, we will be mailing new Passnotes to be added to the pack.
Enjoy and do tweet us @Henley_Group with suggestions for future Passnote subjects.
The hashtag is likely the most popular means of categorising content on social media. It makes your own content discoverable and allows you to find relevant content from other people and businesses.
The hashtag also enables you to connect with and engage other social media users based on a common theme or interest. This remains essential when building new social media communities or campaigns from the ground up.
Knowing how to use hashtags is fundamental to your success on social media. You may use them, but are you using them to their full potential?
Here are a few best practices to help you achieve that success…
Do’s and Don’ts
- Be specific
- Be relevant
- Be observant
- Don’t mention the brand name in all hashtags you create
- Don’t be too long or too clever
- Don’t have more hashtags than words