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Seven ways to avoid PR mistakes in 2023

2023 has kicked off with a bang and your PR team will be chomping at the bit to create great content and pitch out new story ideas to get your product or service mentioned in the national and education media.

When batteries are recharged and the creative juices are flowing, you can go off with all guns blazing in the first weeks and months of a new year.

But it’s worth looking at these seven steps to avoid PR pitfalls, get campaigns off to a flying start and achieve the results you want.  

 

1. Make sure your PR delivers on your business goals

Your PR team could be doing a great job crafting messaging that resonates with senior leaders and teachers and getting your product or company name mentioned in the publications, podcasts and blogs they go to for information. The digital skills of your marketing people are crucial for generating imaginative product launches that generate sales leads too.

But blending PR’s ability to build an audience’s trust in your brand with the focused and measurable strengths of marketing can be a powerful combination to help you meet your business goals in 2023.

Read our blog  and find out how you can use PR and marketing to build your reputation, shift opinion towards your brand, and achieve your business goals.

2. Plan, plan, plan

Approaching PR in an ad hoc way with little or no firm plan on what you want it to achieve for your business is a high-risk strategy that is unlikely to get you the results you want.

While an element of flexibility is essential for responding to the changing news agenda and shifting education marketplace, a good PR plan is the linchpin for co-ordinating the efforts of your PR and marketing and ensuring the activity they engage in actually delivers for your business.

The grounding for a successful PR plan comes from asking yourself some tough questions. These are outlined in our blog, along with our top tips for planning a great year for your PR campaigns.

3. Don’t leave keywords to chance

Whether your company supplies software to schools, training for MAT leaders or student record systems to universities, there are some common keywords and phrases the people you want to reach type into search engines when they are looking for solutions to the challenges they face.

Including these keywords in your online content will get your company name higher in the search list and make it easier for people to see how your products and services can help.

But how can you find out which keywords your audiences uses to source information online?

Check out our blog on keyword research and find out which words and phrases you should be using in your online articles and news pieces to reach the right people and put the information they need into their hands.

4. Don’t stifle creativity

When your PR or marketing team has a great idea for a campaign, is there a tendency to step back from activities that are considered to be a bit wild or crazy in favour of what’s been done before?

Make 2023 the year that you consider pushing the boundaries a little more. Even if you end up tweaking the original wild idea, injecting some fresh thinking into your PR could help you stand out from the crowd and take a successful campaign to the next level.

Get some inspiration from our short video and avoid overthinking or stifling the true creativity in your organisation this year.

5. Be ready to manage a PR crisis

No organisation is immune to a PR crisis. If the unthinkable happens – a call from a journalist who has uncovered a major fault in your product, or from a customer who says your products have corrupted their data – you need to be ready.

We have created the Complete Guide To Crisis Management For Brands & Startups in the Education Sector to help you act fast and protect your brand.

6. Get ready for Google Analytics 4

Add 1st July 2023 to your PR calendar as this is the date when Google Analytics 4 will replace the Universal Analytics platform.

But don’t get caught out. You will need to start putting the groundwork in place for the change now as you won’t be able to access your historical data after that date.

Read our blog on what to expect and what you should be doing to get the most from GA4 into and beyond 2023.

7. Don’t miss out on a prestigious award

The new year is a great time to consider entering an education award, such as the TES School Awards or the Bett Awards. An award win – or even a place on the shortlist – can bring added recognition for your brand and demonstrates to prospective customers that your product or service is among the best in class.

Writing an award winning entry can take time, but we’ve done some of the hard work for you here by outlining what you can do to give you the best chances of award success.

 

Read more about the fantastic results we have achieved for our clients and contact us if you’d like our help to deliver PR success for your organisation.

 

Photo by Tara Winstead

Four reasons why you need PR in 2021

Well, what a year 2020 was.

As we enter a third national lockdown with hopes of improvement by the spring, here are four reasons why 2021 is the year to invest in PR.

1. Because technology is a part of our lives like never before

Stuck at home during the pandemic, many of us are spending more of our lives online. We are using our devices for work, socialising, shopping, exercise and entertainment.

This may have changed how your business connects with customers.

You can no longer meet in person with teachers or carry out live demos of your products. So, many business leaders find themselves asking how to connect with their audience in an authentic way.

One way is to meet your audience where they are: online.

Using digital PR and communications, you can connect with current and prospective customers via your online channels.

You can find the right way to reach parents and teachers, whether it’s through online campaigns, virtual events, blogs or video testimonials.

2. To take advantage of a rise in social media and influencer culture 

If your business isn’t engaging effectively with customers on social media, then your business isn’t properly communicating with customers.

In the last year, all social media apps reported an increase in usage.

The likes of YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok, which allow people to create, upload and share videos, have become increasingly popular. Last year, nine in 10 online adults, and almost all older children aged 8 to 15 years, used at least one of these websites and apps, and many watched videos several times a day.

Running integrated campaigns on social media is key to successful business communications.

Choose a theme that relates to your education product, create a key campaign message and be sure to track engagement. Make sure you use the right platform for your campaign and that it’s timely.

Consider partnering with a social media influencer who fits with your brand values and audience. They can help you reach your target audience, build trust, and increase engagement. This could be a blogger, journalist or podcaster. It could be a well-known teacher, edtech expert or education consultant.

Investing in social media will help you connect with current and prospective clients, boost awareness and increase leads.

3. So you can gain your audience’s trust 

Think about what your customers consider When deciding whether to buy your education product or service. Has this changed since the same time last year?

Recognise changes in your customers and their needs. Whether it’s spending power, ways of working, or challenges in education during the pandemic. And allay any fears or concerns.

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, 88% of us rate ‘trust’ as important or critical when it comes to deciding which brands to buy or use. Out of 8,000 people surveyed in 8 countries in October 2020, ‘trust’ was the third most important purchase criteria, with ‘price’ and ‘quality’ only slightly ahead, regardless of gender, nationality, age or income.

Personal experience matters the most when it comes to building trust. If your business can communicate with clients through friends, family, experts and reviews from trusted sources, then you’ve taken a step in the right direction in helping them to trust you and your business offering.

PR activities like product reviews, case studies, video testimonials and influencer campaigns can all help to strengthen trust among your target audience.

4. To help you manage a PR crisis

Last year was crisis, followed by crisis, followed by crisis.

The coronavirus outbreak, civil unrest and economic downturn.

An impeachment trial, a contested presidential election and a wave of international protests leading to a moment of reckoning on racism.

Not to mention natural disasters like wildfires, earthquakes and floods.

If we’ve learnt anything from 2020, it’s to be as prepared as we can be for a crisis. A well-managed crisis can actually win your brand fans rather than lose them, so the third lockdown may be an opportunity to reflect on how you would manage a crisis.

PR crisis planning means having guidelines in place for an emergency or unexpected situation.

How is your company going to react if the lockdown lasts longer than expected? What will your company do if there was a breach of school data? Or if your education software that teachers rely on for online learning has technological issues?

Don’t get caught off guard.

Identify the risks to your education business, rank them in order of seriousness and put a plan in place for each one.

Your crisis plan should outline your response to stakeholders such as customers, employees and the media. It needs to include key messaging for all of your business platforms, including social media. And make sure your spokesperson is media trained.

Check out our ‘cut out and keep’ guide to crisis management here.

Get started

The best time to start planning your PR is now.

Don’t put it off for another day. Who knows what this year has in store!

If you’re ready to start planning your PR for 2021, get in touch today on hello@theinfluencecrowd.co.uk.

Or have a read of our PR planning guide for some more top tips.

 

Photo by SevenStorm JUHASZIMRUS from Pexels

‘Cut out and keep’ guide to crisis management

Nobody likes to dwell on the possibility of it happening, but should a crisis hit, the ability to act fast can make all the difference.

No doubt you’ve read all the books that tell you ‘the key to crisis management is advanced planning’, and yet it’s surprisingly common to find that this particular job never quite made it to the top of your to do list.

It’s a fact of life that every organisation is vulnerable to crises, so should you find yourself in this position, this blog post is for you. Cut out and keep it (or rather cut and paste) so that if the unthinkable occurs and you get a call from a journalist who has uncovered a major fault in your product, or from a customer who says your products have corrupted their data, you have a starting point on how to act.

  1. Get the facts from the horse’s mouth

As a PR person, you need to ensure that whatever you say to the media is true.  Never state that the situation is under control if it isn’t. This means you need to go directly to the team or manager dealing with the problem and get the information straight from them. Do not accept a well-meaning messenger as a go between – the Chinese whisper effect can completely change a story.

  1. Limit the damage

If you can take steps to prevent more damage occurring while the situation unfolds, do so. Stop production, send emails or call customers to alert them to the issue and let them know how they might be affected. It’s also a good idea to review all your marketing, advertising and events that are in the pipeline and put them on hold if need be to avoid provoking any awkwardness or negative reactions.

  1. Decide who needs to be contacted

Work out who the stakeholders are – employees, customers, investors, the press – and who needs to be liaised with in order to communicate with them effectively. For example, are there other partners who need to be involved in a joint statement? Can contact be made so that releases can be co-ordinated and notice given to each other of statements? This approach ensures you are not blindsided by any surprise statements from others involved.

  1. Adopt a holding position

Consider releasing an interim statement until you get the facts straight. ‘We are aware of the situation and are investigating the cause. We’ll be in touch as soon as we have more information,’ is far better to a journalist or customer than complete silence. It shows you are open and willing to talk, so the press are less likely to jump to conclusions.

  1. Draft a response

When drafting a statement, there are two sides to consider:

  • Put yourself in the mind of the victims – what do they want to hear?
  • Put yourself in the mind of your client – what are they able to say?

An effective response will give equal weighting to both these points. But be careful with the wording – any line from a statement could be taken out of context.

  1. Choose the right channels

Decide how to communicate the response and via which channels. If the story has been picked up widely you will need to be communicating to the media directly, plus to customers via your web site, social media channels and even on a one-to-one basis via email and phone when customers contact you directly.

  1. The personal touch

A personal response from a named spokesperson is always best, even for a written statement. If you need a ‘live’ spokesperson, make sure that they are your best and most skilled speaker, and that they have been recently media trained. Also ensure they are fully briefed on the situation so that they can answer questions as fully and honestly as possible.

  1. Don’t play the blame game

Avoid placing the blame fully and explicitly on someone else’s doorstep. Even if others were involved, it looks bad. If appropriate, and legally possible, apologise. That is often all people want to hear; that the company accepts they have made a mistake.

  1. Encourage positive stories

By being open and honest, and giving clear information about the steps you are taking to quickly address the issue, you will find that not every story is relentlessly negative. You can carefully encourage this subtle change of focus by bringing in allies to help, perhaps a happy customer or an association contact. Above all, making sure you do what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it, will reap dividends in the long run.

  1. Review your strategy post-crisis

After the crisis has passed, review your strategy. What worked, what didn’t work, what needs to change should the unthinkable happen again in the future.

If you want this post as a PDF to keep on file, feel free to email us at hello@theinfluencecrowd.co.uk.

Photo by Ian Panelo from Pexels

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