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1)      Similar Concept, Fresh Take

With so many Social Networking Sites (SNS) developing all the time, it’s sometimes hard to keep ahead or even on track of the game. For example, I’ve signed up and tried out countless pages over the past few years of SNS proliferation – some pages I am an avid (or addicted) user of – namely Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and to an extend Google Plus, however, there are many others I tried for a while, then either abandoned or forgot about completely – namely Quora *shudders*.

What I like about Pinterest is the fresh concept it brings to the multitudes of similar SNS sites. For example, the concept of “re-pinning” is more or less exactly the same as the concept of “re-tweeting”, except with a big pretty picture of something you want to share with your followers.   

But why use it…..well that leads me to my next point…..

2)      Visual Imagery Rather Than Text

Emphasis is put on the visual quality and interest of the images posted rather than actual text. Of course there is room for description and image categorisation underneath, but it’s really the image that draws users in and makes them either want to re-pin, click through to the link, read or comment upon the image.

Visual imagery can be a powerful PR tool as it can send messages to audiences in a straightforward but interesting and timely manner. PR professionals are consistently seeking ways to best relate messages to the varying public’s of the organisation or clients they represent (hence the name “Public Relations”). The use of visual communication over written or verbal communication is therefore an interesting concept in today’s digital era when we consider that not all publics are wired to pick up and read a newspaper / news website every day, can be bothered to access the multitude of professional and personal Blogs out there, or even spend time scrolling the thousands of Tweets competing in their newsfeed on an hourly basis.

This, then, leads me onto my next point……

3)      New Communication Channel

Pinterest has the possibility therefore to tap into a whole new audience, whom before for whatever reason may not have been as easily reachable. Now, I am by no means saying that people who don’t read newspapers or blogs, or check their Tweets every hour will automatically be a user of Pinterest, but I am saying that Pinterest has the possibility as a new SNS platform to appeal to a new range of people.

For example, according to recent demographic figures:

68.2% of users are female

Over 50% of users have children

28.1% of users are middle-class

The average age demographic is 25 – 34.  

As a PR, knowing your target audience is one thing, but knowing how to successfully reach them with key messages of interest can be a whole other.

4)      Builds Communities of Common Interest

Given the above demographics then, it is not surprising that some of the most popular categories that users follow include: [Click to link]

Food and Drink

Home Decor

Kids

Pets

Travel & Places

Wedding & Events

Women’s Apparel

This of course can be tailored to the user’s choice and preference i.e. Pinner’s I follow include categories of interest such as Art, Architecture, Cars, Photography, Print and Posters, Travel & Places. This then allows me to connect and re-pin the pins (images) that specifically interest me.

This specific use of categorisation in effect allows users to build communities of common interest which can be commented and shared with their followers – a kind of ripple effect so to speak commonly found in PR practices.

5) Brand Building

This quite naturally then leads me to my fifth and final point regarding how this use of community can be successfully leveraged to build and maintain brand awareness through the creation of brand pages.

The opportunities for successful outreach are vast given the Pinterest demographics and common categories of interest (i.e. as a PR you could represent an interior design company, a travel and tourism organisation, a kids toy manufacturer, a restaurant, an artist etc) – the list is endless. How brands utilise this new platform as a form of two-way communications activity will be interesting to see – but specifically, I am intrigued to see how big brand names such as Apple, Red Bull, McDonalds, Coca-Cola etc, might intend to utilise Pinterest in relation to consumer outreach and brand reputation, i.e. new product launches, events, employees, good Corporate Social Responsibility?

Like many other SNS platforms only time will tell whether Pinterest is a keeper which can be successfully implemented in PR strategies.

For the moment however, I’m totally hooked!!

Connect with me…..

I am always happy to connect with people of similar interests – please come say Hi on Pinterest: abbeymichellepr

 

So, there has been a lot of debate recently on how to define “Public Relations” given the recent decision by the PRSA to find “A Modern Definition of Public Relations”

According to the PRSA, “[Public Relations Defined] is an initiative to modernize the definition of public relations. Through an open and collaborative effort, PRSA and its industry partners are providing a platform for public relations, marketing and communications professionals to add their voice to a new definition of public relations.’

Out of the thousands of submissions of suggested definitions, the PRSA has narrowed it down to three contenders for people to vote on:

1)      Public relations is the management function of researching, communicating and collaborating with publics to build mutually beneficial relationships.

2)      Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.

3)      Public relations is the strategic process of engagement between organizations and publics to achieve mutual understanding and realize goals.

Now forgive me for stating the obvious, but when they suggested a “Modern” definition (aka: relating to the present or recent times as opposed to the remote past), I was expecting some form of modern – “Digital Era-GenerationY-Facebooky- #TweetTweet-ConsumerBrand-Mass-Two-Way-Communication” – type of definition.

Or at least something with a little digital zing to it!

However, instead we got three re-hashed versions of traditional definitions, basically stating the same things that have always been said about PR, aka:

“Public Relations is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics” (CIPR – UK)

“Public Relations is the management function that identifies, establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organisation and the various publics on whom its success or failure depends” (Cutlip et al.)

Etc, etc, etc…..

Now, there is no way that I am going to attempt my own definition of PR in the Digital age, or even traditional PR for that matter, and the simple reason being because PR as an industry is too broad in scope to define or concisely contain into one neatly tied up definition with a little red ribbon on it.

However, it is precisely this immense depth and scope that makes PR fundamentally such a wonderful industry to work in! New trends and “modern” communication possibilities emerge all the time; something which has happened throughout history with hieroglyphics and carrier pigeons etc…. But, specifically in the past century or so with the birth of radio, television, internet and mobile technology, modern communication methods have all coincided with the birth and development of PR as a serious profession.

This, with no shadow of a doubt will continue through these current “modern” times and way into the future, meaning that as technology and communication methods develop, so will PR along with the rest of the Communications industry, meaning any “modern” definition will be defunct in a few years or so anyway. It is therefore due to this constant flux and endless potential that efforts to define PR as one single authoritative definition are futile.

Now, I am by no means saying that the above suggested definitions of PR are bad, because in fact they are very good in their essence of capturing the importance of planning and organisation, engagement of stakeholders, and relationship building in PR activities. However, I am merely stating that if the intention from the outset of the PRSA really was to come up with some NEW SPARKLY MODERN definition of PR, why are we still stuck with three definitions stating exactly the same thing?

So, I beg the question, has anybody got any POSTMODERN DEFINITIONS of PR up their sleeve?  

I just saw this on PR Daily and thought it was not only hilarious, but highly useful and correct.

Social Media can be a tricky thing to explain to non-digital natives, hence why I like this clever idea of explaining the world of Social Media via something that everyone understands – doughnuts!

This simple list demonstrates in a light-hearted way the many different ways social media can be used to share or state the same thing in effect….but from a different angle. This in reality of course could be anything from a media release, a feature, a piece of coverage, an interview, a video – something which an organisation might want to share on several different platforms in order to reach their broadest potential audience.

Other suggestions may include:

Twitter: I’m drinking #Wine

Facebook: I like cheesecake

LinkedIn: My skills include tea and coffee making (a skill of a particular importance for a recent graduate like me!)

Who knew that doughnuts could be so educational ;-)

I just added some information about my experience with the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund – It was a campaign I undertook between February – May 2011 and I thought i’d just share a few facts about it here. If you are interested, would like to read more and see some of the coverage achieved, please visit the “Work” section of this Blog.

Background To The Campaign

In May 2002 The Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund (MKMRF) was set up by Chris Knighton in memory of her husband Mick, who died from the asbestos related cancer, mesothelioma in 2001.

Over the past 10 years MKMRF has raised over £900,000 and has successfully funded three major research projects into mesothelioma.

On the 14th May 2011, MKMRF hosted their sponsored Glitter Ball to celebrate the 9th Anniversary of the Charity’s foundation. The Glitter Ball also commemorated the 10th year since Mick Knighton’s death.

Objective

Successfully raise awareness amongst publics about the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund and the asbestos related cancer, mesothelioma, with the aim of encouraging charitable donations before the May 14th Glitter Ball, 2011.

Strategies

Launch a media relations campaign and successfully gain coverage in at least one major North East publication.

Launch a personal communications strategy with organisations to effectively raise awareness and charitable interest in MKMRF and The Glitter Ball.

Launch a Social Media campaign.

Organise a fundraising event to raise money towards MKMRF’s first £1,000,000.

How This Was Achieved

Press releases to media contacts.

Telephone and email correspondence with past and potential charitable organisations.

Brochure and leaflets produced about MKMRF and The Glitter Ball, and sent via email and post to past and potential charitable organisations.

Online fundraising and awareness materials set up including JustGiving, Facebook and Twitter pages.

Face to face correspondence with potential event fundraising hosts.

What Was Achieved

A front page feature and double page spread on pages 10 and 11 of The Chronicle worth a calculated £25,010.

A four minute coverage feature on BBC Look North.

Four pages of online Chronicle coverage.

Leaflets produced and sent to over 2,000 recipients of the MKMRF newsletter.

PDF brochure designed and circulated to past and potential sponsors.

Facebook and Twitter pages created.

Prize donations collected and auctioned at The Glitter Ball, including restaurant vouchers, Fenwicks vouchers, collectable art, skydiving lessons and a weekend holiday stay in York.

A charity Salsa event held on Monday 2nd May.

Over £30,000 raised, surpassing the target on the night of the Glitter Ball by £15,000!

VIDEO REEL:

This is a short photo-reel I created of collated photo’s taken by MKMRF of some of their greatest achievements over the 9 years of existence

I was feeling a little down yesterday for multiple reasons I shan’t be delving into. However, when I went into my sisters room to take refuge I found this delightful coaster on her dressing table, and it cheered me right up…so I though I’d share it :)

“May his JOYFUL SMILE remind us of how much there is to be happy about”

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An integral part to any business, let alone Marketing, PR and Advertising, is to understand the importance of “THE BRAND”.

So firstly, what precisely is a Brand?

The word brand is defined as: a type of product manufactured by a company under a particular name’.

Thus, a brand is seemingly a threefold mash-up consisting of:

a) PRODUCT [s]

b) COMPANY

c) NAME

So if we are to take this as a broad definition, which aspect if any is the most important aspect of a brand?

According to the late Steve Jobs, the most important aspect of any company should be its high quality product. A quote taken from Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs sums this view up nicely:

“[a] company does a great job, innovates and becomes a monopoly or close to it in some field, and then the quality of the product becomes less important. The company starts valuing the great salesman, because they’re the ones who can move the needle on revenues.” Steve Jobs

According to Jobs therefore, a high quality product aimed at pleasing the consumer should always take precedence over company revenues and figures. And of course, when we think of Apple as a brand, we think of its products: I-Pods, I-Pads, I-Phones, Mac’s. It is these high quality products which have helped Apple as company both become and maintain its place as the brand leader of innovation.

In fact Apple has achieved this so monumentally well that products such as the I-Pod have in effect become ‘brands’ in themselves, promoted through their connotation with cool demeanor and conveyance of sleek, postmodern consumer identity.

Taking Microsoft then, one of Apple’s major brand competitors in the field of technological innovation, it is easily perceivable what a long shadow the Apple brand has cast for this once global market leader. This is because whilst Apple strive to keep their products sleek, simple, and in many ways almost sexy in both design, functionality and name, Microsoft have fallen behind by overexerting and overcomplicating the brand, resulting in a messy concoction of products lacking any real direction.

For example, in opposition to Apple’s I-Phone, Microsoft helped deliver the Taiwanese produced Smartphone HTC.

So thats HTC which stand for “High-Tech Computer”

HIGH-TECH COMPUTER!??!

Are Microsoft actually stuck in a 1980’s Sci-Fi movie!?

This is a prime example of where the NAME of a brand comes into play. The HTC product could be awesome for all consumers know in comparison to the I-Phone or any other market competitors, yet both Microsoft as a brand and its branded products hold connotations with geeks and nerds. Simply put, this equals a very stark contrast to the cool simplicity of the Apple brand.

This however is not to say that Microsoft is not awesome in many other ways, but in terms of brand identity, they have fallen behind…….

Another prime example of the impact of a brand name is the famous Coca-Cola Vs. Pepsi war. We all know which tastes better (Pepsi); but we also know which one appeals the most when presented before us on a supermarket shelf (Coca-Cola, obviously)!

This is the bizarre but brilliant power of The Brand.  

But what impact does a COMPANY itself have on the power of the brand? Let’s look at BP for instance – does anything aside from the horrific oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 spring to mind when you think of this company? And from this incident, the BP brand has become a symbol of greed, poor ethics, disastrous PR / CSR and arrogance. But has this halted their profits? No, because BP are in a niche market.

Unfortunately however, not all companies sit within the safety of a niche. If we look at high street fashion outlets for example, we can see how the COMPANY brand can have a direct impact over consumer spending.

Take Marks and Spencer for example – a great brand with good high quality products suitable for all ages. However since the brand over the years has gain such connotations with the elder population, it directly influences consumer decisions to shop there over, let’s say, Topshop!

Now Topshop is interesting – a naff brand name (top-shop!?), selling over-priced and often low quality products.

So why as a brand is it so successful!?

Because, Topshop as a clothing company has connotations with youth, high fashion and the Kate Moss glam lifestyle – something Marks and Spencer will always find hard to compete with no matter how many Twiggy’s, Lizzy Jagger’s, Take That’s and Antonio’s they throw into the mix!

And I for one will hold my hands up and say yes, I’d choose Topshop clothing over M&S any day of the week. And why? Because of the cool brand and cool clothes, obviously…..!?

But what about Primark? A bad name, a bad company and bad products….so why, as a brand, is it so successful? Well, in truth, it is not a successful brand, it is terrible! The company in itself has been successful, especially thanks to the economic downturn and consumer reluctance to spend higher prices for higher quality at stores such as Marks and Spencer.

Popularly known as “Primarni” – the ironic opposite of Armani, I believe the key to Primark’s success is that the company, the name and the products are almost so bad that they are good. Who cares about good branding, good quality and good CSR when the clothes are so cheap, moderately fashionable, and if you are lucky, may last longer than two cycles in the washing machine?  

But Primark as a brand for me at least conjures up images of cheap clothing, child labor and poor CSR . 

The bottom line for any brand it would seem then is this:

If you can’t do it bigger (Coca-Cola), better (Apple), then do it cheaper (Primark)

Working on the house today I have mainly focused on ripping out the top half of the stairs as I want it to be open-plan overlooking the living room area. I have also sanded down the wood panelling on the bottom which is going to look stunning when fully treated!

The underfloor heating and concrete is set to go into the kitchen area this weekend…so fingers crossed there may soon be a proper functioning kitchen to make cups of well earned tea!?

Next task….THE BATHROOM!

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