Do you think you could cope with a career in PR or marketing?

Talk to any PR professional or marketer about a typical day at the office and you’re likely to get the same response: “No two days are ever the same”. While it might sound cliched, it’s one of the things that most attracts graduates to careers in this field.

From my own experience, I’d say that it truly is a great thing if you’re looking for variety in your work life – but it also means that you have to be able to adapt, adjust your train of thought at a moment’s notice and hit the ground running on any number of wide-ranging tasks.

One moment you might be knee-deep in the brief for a customer case study and the next you’ll be sourcing additional information on an unrelated news item for a journalist with a deadline.

You have to be orgainsed and know what really needs to take priority, but you also have to leave yourself enough time in the week to respond to last minute requests and deal with urgent issues. Knowing your deadlines is important but sticking to them is crucial.

It can be exciting and equally stressful but its variety is the thing that ensures its practioners continue to enjoy what they do year after year.

Which of the creative industries produces the best copy?

A big thank you to local agency Ben Locker & Associates for giving me a space on The Copywriting Blog to share my thoughts on which creative industry produces the best writing.

To read the full post, please visit http://www.benlocker.co.uk/blog and look for my name. As always, if you have any comments please feel free to share them. You can contribute via The Copywriting Blog’s comments section or the one below.

Why does the public relations industry still struggle to distinguish and define itself?

When I started writing this blog post, I was entirely convinced that PR needs to distinguish itself from all of the other disciplines that it is so often grouped with (marketing, advertising, media, copywriting…), but along the way I seem to have managed to turn myself around and I now realise that my initial view was a little misguided.

Maybe I’m being too honest and should have hidden the opinion that I held at the start, but I thought it was an unusual occurence and one that was worth recognising since I’m also interested in the online world and how its tools (blogs included) can help us to get a message to market.

It began when I re-tweeted a quote on Twitter that plagued my mind for the rest of the day. The quote came from an Australian article about higher level education in public relations, specifically relating to its identification and status:

“PR faces image problems in selling itself as an independent discipline”

I thought that the quote completely summed up my experience of speaking to some people who work outside of the industry. Rather than seeing it as a speciality in its own right, individuals seem keen to categorise it under a broader heading – which I thought aggrieved me.

When PR professionals try to explain their chosen career to friends and family, common responses include: “So it’s just marketing…” or “Isn’t that advertising that you don’t have to pay for?” While neither of them are that far from the mark, they are both comparative definitions rather than descriptions of the field itself.

Public relations: trying to swim against the marketing tide

For a balanced argument, I began to write about how I think PR works incredibly well in consultation with other disciplines. Specifically I thought about how it can effectively and measurably drive traffic to marketing micro-sites, raise awareness of promotions and play on the popularity of paid advertisements.

This is the point at which I began to realise that my desire for PR to stand on its own was overshadowed by the importance of its collaborative capacity.

As is so often the case, it seems that the PR practioner’s best promotional work is rarely saved to ensure its own success, but on reflection perhaps this is a positive thing and public relations should happily serve at the pleasure of the inimitable marketing director.

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Why is it so important for marketers to Google themselves and their brands?

How often do you Google yourself? Is it something that you’ve ever done? If you manage a brand online (and your personal profile counts for all intents and purposes) it’s something that you should be doing at least once in a while. It might seem vain and like a complete waste of time but I’d argue that it is anything but.

An online reputation is something that precedes you: as a PR professional if you’re pitching for new business or as a marketer if you’re spreading the word about a new product or service. It might seem like it’s impossible to control, but keep a beady eye on the first few pages of Google and you might be able to have more of an impact than you think.

Timely responses are the key. To give you a bad example from my own experience, I Googled myself very recently and not only found what I expected to be there (my Twitter profile, this blog, my LinkedIN profile and my contact details on clients’ press releases), I also discovered that I had been cited as an expert by web design agency Pure Innovations in an article about SEO:

Web design agency Pure Innovation referenced my SEO advice on their own site without my knowledge

The quotes came from a blog I wrote while I was working with digital agency Coast Digital. While it’s not a problem in this instance that they’ve referenced me without my consent (I’d rather they did that than simply pinch my words of wisdom), I would have liked to gain a backlink to the original article for some valuable “link juice” in exchange.

Considering this article was published in October of last year and I knew nothing about it until this week, I was very fortunate that it was a glowing endorsement. Had it been negative, I would have been completely unaware and it might have damaged my reputation a long time before I was able to do anything about it.

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Qwitter – a tool that’s useful for marketing or simply masochistic?

I firmly believe that Twitter can be a valuable part of the marketing mix – if it is integrated properly into your PR programme rather than blindly stumbled upon (not pun intended) and slotted in as an after thought. It’s becoming more and more difficult to justify Twitter-reluctance too, when millions of pounds are being made solely via this channel by the big boys like Sony.

Gaining Twitter followers (real ones, we’re not interested in spambots) can be a challenge in the early days; gaining valuable Twitter followers who actually want to read your tweets, expand your online community and eventually engage with you is an ever bigger battle. But we surely all know this by now..?

The new and interesting bit comes from an article by guardian.co.uk’s Rob Fitzpatrick who has analysed a new online service called Qwitter. It kindly – or unkindly, perhaps – informs you which and how many of your Twitter followers have given up on you each day.

While it might seem a touch masochistic to ask to be informed whenever someone loses interest in what you have to say, for PR professionals and marketers it can be a source of very valuable information, giving you an insight into when your content is hitting the spot (very few Twitter Qwitters) and when the message simply isn’t getting through (a high number of dropouts).

Qwitter.com, new and improved

It all needs to be considered in context, of course. Qwitter can tell you specifically which tweeters have decided to unfollow you which means you can judge whether they should have been receptive to your message or not. I would argue that losing irrelevant followers is actually quite a positive thing as it allows you to narrow your focus and ensure that you are reaching out to the right people, in the right way, rather than wasting valuable time.

In truth, I wouldn’t dedicate too much time to the analysis of this information; I’m sure that it’s a rabbit hole that you could get stuck down for weeks. Instead, give it a cursory glance every now and then just to make sure there’s nothing seriously troubling going on so you can concentrate on honing your message and, ultimately, making more money.

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