Never forget your early PR training

I’ve been creating some training slides over the past few days for a series of “Introduction to PR” sessions that I’ll be running at work. As the presentation has come together, it’s been impossible to ignore the huge influence that my own early PR training has had.

The advice given to me by my Berkeley PR directors in the first stage of my career has obviously stuck – and is as applicable today as it was when I first heard it.

Whilst I’ve added ideas from my own experience and updated sections to include digital PR, the basic thinking behind “What is PR?” and “What makes news?” could almost have been lifted from a 4 year old presentation.

I’m not saying that PR hasn’t moved on at all in the past four years, but when you’re talking about the basics, why re-create the wheel?

Whatever stage of your marketing career you’re in, make sure you listen to as much advice as possible – you’ll be surprised how much stays with you for life.


Businesses walking a fine line with social network exploitation

A former colleague of mine at Berkeley PR wrote a thought-provoking blog post this week about Gap’s logo redesign.

In case you haven’t heard; the fashion retailer recently trialled a new logo that was swiftly slated by social media users. I added a comment beneath the post:

It seems to me that the logo fiasco was actually a PR success for Gap. Whether you believe that “all publicity is good publicity” or not, it certainly got everyone talking about the clothes retailer and its strong, well-liked, established brand.

It also showed the world that this company is listening to its audience via social media. That’s a positive, forward-thinking message to be sharing with the market.

Not a bad result for such a naive branding error!

While my comment demonstrates that it initially seemed like Gap had made an honest mistake, people quickly began to wonder whether it was actually a sly move by the retailer designed to simply grab some headlines. The question on everyone’s lips became: is it a publicity stunt or a terribly misguided re-branding exercise? We may never know. It seems highly unlikely that the Gap team will come clean if it was a sham.

It has left me wondering, though, whether PR “stunts” will continue to succeed as people become savvier about how organisations can manipulate users on social networks. Could these kinds of exploit increasingly backfire, with companies being resented for employing such sly tactics?

It’s certainly food for thought.

Is it a good idea to stay friends with old clients and colleagues?

Yesterday was officially my last day working for Coast Digital. After spending just under a year with the online marketing agency and learning far more than I ever could have imagined about SEO, PPC, analytics, online usability testing, website design and build, I’m now looking forward to returning to work on some offline marketing projects – while retaining a healthy dose of online, too.

It’s always a difficult decision to leave an agency – particularly a small one. Not only do you leave behind the colleagues that you’ve spent days on end with, but it also means saying goodbye to the clients that you’ve worked alongside and who you will have, inevitably, learnt an awful lot from along the way.

I had the pleasure of catching up with some colleagues and friends from my first agency, Berkeley PR, last week and I’m so glad that I took the time to visit them. While many things have remained the same there, it was an absolute delight to hear about the new projects that are now occupying their days, their latest success stories and exciting changes in their personal lives too.

Now that we have Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN and a whole host of other networking tools at our disposal, keeping in touch with old colleagues has never been so easy. I don’t think that anyone should leave an agency on bad terms if it’s at all avoidable. After all, those colleagues and clients will have contributed an immeasuable amount to your professional achievements and development. Whether you choose to stay connected to your managers, your trainees, your suppliers or your clients, each one of those connections has played a huge role in the kind of employee that you are now and may determine the direction that your career takes in the future.

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PR Week – Best of the Tech Blogs

I’d like to say a big thank you to PR Week for featuring my post on the role of women in technology, PR and business in its Best of the Tech Blogs column last week. Considering this blog has only been up and running for a few weeks, I couldn’t believe my luck when an old PR colleague (@Paul_Stallard) spotted my name and directed me to the coverage. You can view the online version here.

I must also say a second quick thank you to another former Berkeley PR colleague, Phil Szomszor, who mentioned this blog over at the red rocket: Welcome to new technology, media and online PR bloggers. Phil’s been blogging about technology, PR and social media for a number of years and his posts are always worth a read.

I’ve wanted to start my own blog for quite some time and, now that I have, I wish I’d done it sooner. The response from old colleagues, friends, online connections and now even PR Week has been brilliant and has confirmed that I really want to put more time and effort into developing this into a site that people will want to visit time and time again.

If you have any recommendations or suggestions, I’d be very happy to hear them.

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