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Archive For 'June, 2012'

Friday Ramble: Wiki cheats

29 June 2012 at 09:15

Earlier this week, the CIPR launched a best practice guide for PR professionals’ use of Wikipedia. Essentially it recommends that PRs should not edit Wikipedia pages on behalf of their clients.

A lot of PRs have mixed feelings about this guide. After all, it stems from the furore at the end of 2011 surrounding some leading London agencies’ tactics for managing (or rather controlling) clients’ reputations anonymously via Wikipedia. They say no half decent PR agency would resort to such ‘black hat’ tactics on any communications platform. And those that would probably won’t pay any attention to the CIPR’s guide anyway.

But if you read the guide in detail, you will see that the CIPR has worked closely with Wikipedia to make it a valuable tool for PR consultants. It gives clear advice on the correct protocol for updating content and raising concerns. It acknowledges that, since Wikipedia editors are volunteers, it can take time for issues to be resolved – but explains how to escalate matters when a quick resolution is required.

Successful media relations (and I mean that in the broadest sense – covering social and traditional media) has always required good instinct and common sense. But as the media environment continues to grow and change, it is important to understand that the etiquette of media relations is evolving. PR consultants need to be able to work intuitively to manage clients’ reputations in the right way, without compromising their integrity.

The CIPR’s CEO Jane Wilson says:

“This guidance is aimed at helping public relations practitioners reach a better understanding of how to properly engage with one of the most visited sources of information on the internet and clearly lays out the process through which PR people can positively contribute to the encyclopaedia. The main theme of the guidance is quite simple – where there is a clear conflict of interest created by the relationship between the public relations professional and the subject of the Wikipedia entry, such as a client or employer, they should not directly edit it”.

On the whole, the guide is definitely worth a read – take a look and let us know what you think: CIPR Wikipedia Best Practice Guidance.

Over and out.


Tags: PR | WIkipedia | CIPR | social media

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Friday ramble - 3 tips for social media

22 June 2012 at 14:59

Many of our clients tell us ‘we want to do social media’. And for most businesses, a well-handled social media presence is a good thing. But as with traditional PR, it’s important to consider your objectives in the first instance – and then decide which media (social or otherwise) offer the best opportunities to help achieve your goals.

These three tips provide a starting point for any brand considering dipping a toe in the water, or making more of an existing social media presence. But remember – with social media, your reputation needs to be earned, and this takes time and effort. Nurture your online presence, don’t expect to become a millionaire overnight, and enjoy the experience.

1. Find out which social media your audiences are already using

A little preparation goes a long way. Before you jump in at the deep end with a Facebook page, LinkedIn profile and a Twitter account (currently the Big Three social media platforms – but there are many more!) do a spot of lurking. No, you don’t need to hang around on street corners in an anorak, but it is well worth spending a few hours looking around to establish where the online hubs are for your industry.

Have a look at what your competitors are doing, and think about what you might like to emulate – or steer clear of.

Listen and learn – where do your typical customers seem to congregate, and what are they talking about? What could you bring to the conversation?

2. Decide which social media are best for you

As a rule of thumb, LinkedIn is the premium platform for business to business organisations and Facebook tends to be more in-tune with consumer brands. But rules are made to be broken – it is about choosing the best social media for your brand. And that will partly depend on what your customers are like, and your brand’s personality.

It’s a mistake to simply set up profiles everywhere if you don’t really have the time or inclination to keep them updated with interesting content. Think very carefully about your business and communications goals, and how each social media channel can provide a platform to help achieve them. The profiles themselves are not the answer – it’s all about how you use them.  

3. Focus – and take a long-term view

Hands up if you’ve ever gone to look at a clip on YouTube, then finally emerged three hours later?

Social media can be one of the biggest time-wasters out there. And no business can afford to waste time these days!

If you have a well-disciplined social media strategy you will be able to develop and nurture your presence without it becoming a fulltime job. For many small businesses – or those with scant resources – it can be better to choose one or two social media channels and use them well. Otherwise you risk spending all day updating and Tweeting, or at the other end of the scale, having six Twitter accounts that haven’t made a peep for three months.


Here are some examples of businesses in our home county of Gloucestershire using social media well, in our humble opinion:

Winstones Ice Cream, Stroud – a nice, interactive Twitter account ...same goes for Giffords Circus.

Cotswolds Farm Park’s Facebook page makes us want to get down there with the little ones this weekend...and our client Campden BRI is making good use of its LinkedIn presence.


Are there any more that you would like to share with us?

Over and out…


Tags: social media | PR | public relations | PR strategy

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Friday ramble: Why chocolate trounced fashion for us this week…

15 June 2012 at 17:05

This week has been a mass of engagements and events for us here at Trailblazer. On Tuesday we attended the annual open day for one of our clients’ members, titled Campden BRI Day. It’s an opportunity for all of the organisation’s members to come together to network, find out more about the services that Campden BRI offers and listen to a lecture by a person of note.

This year that person of note was Fiona Dawson, President of Mars Chocolate UK *great job alert!*. The title of Fiona’s lecture was ‘A sustainable future’. Through her lecture or ‘conversation’ as she called it, she educated the audience about the struggles that the chocolate industry faces in terms of sustainability, the issues with cocoa crops and the future for cocoa farmers in places such as Cote d’Ivoire. To listen to her lecture, download here.

Listening to Fiona, we felt inspired and actually learnt quite a lot about chocolate manufacture and how the food and drink industry needs to work ever more collaboratively in order to be sustainable in the future. Fiona was informative and engaging, eloquent and to the point. In short, we left the lecture feeling inspired to take action.

Then on Wednesday night I was invited to attend the Cheltenham Science Festival to listen to Vivienne Westwood talk about climate change. Now, this Dame is a legend – that is not to be disputed. The foothold that she has, and continues to have, on the UK – and indeed worldwide - fashion industry is immense. And, from my personal point of view, she just seems to get better with age.

She was hosted by Jonathan Porrit and started talking about her views on climate change – and the world – with gusto and inspiration but 10 minutes in she’d kind of said all she had to say *umm, there’s 50 minutes to go*. It seemed that Vivienne found it difficult to really elaborate or remain on topic when it came to climate change, and especially ‘climate change and the fashion industry’ which is what many of us in the audience believed that the talk would centre on. We waited with bated breath to hear about the brand’s plans for sustainability, how it was seeking to find and use eco cottons, how it was seeking to reduce its carbon footprint. The response, in order was a) Vivienne Westwood doesn’t have time to source eco cottons due to tight deadlines getting collections out. If anyone wants to send them eco cottons then they’ll be considered b) Vivienne Westwood doesn’t know what the brand’s carbon footprint is.

Unfortunately, the feeling in the room – from whispers we heard – was that Vivienne Westwood, although obviously passionate about the environment, had left many people thinking ‘well, if she can’t be bothered from a business point of view, why should we?’ I don’t think this is what she intended the general reaction to be.

I really felt for Vivienne and, from a PR point of view, it didn’t look like she’d been briefed correctly or, sorry to say, even spent time thinking, or being advised, about the clear points she wanted to get across and how she was going to do this while urging people to take action. I actually thought that if I saw any of our clients in this position I would pack up shop and do something different.

We spend so much time researching and selling our clients in for speaking engagements at a host of events and training them for these is a crucial part of the process. What’s the aim of the talk? What key points do you want to get across? How can you engage the audience from the start and keep them with you until the end? What’s the call to action? These are just some of the areas we train on. To be honest, if Vivienne Westwood had this prior to speaking on Wednesday night, it didn’t work. But did she even have the training?

While typing this, I thought to myself ‘what’s that saying about being properly prepared’, so I looked it up. It’s the 7Ps… ‘Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance’. I think, out of the two mentioned above, I know who’s presentation I’ll be advising my clients to learn from in the future.

I’d be interested in hearing anyone else’s thoughts about both talks – either if you were present or listened online. Please do comment below. 

Over and out…





Tags: Campden BRI | speaker opportunities | PR | training

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Friday ramble - Regional PR: who you know and what you know

08 June 2012 at 14:26

Local and regional PR can be a tricky beast. People often assume that generating media coverage in the ‘local rag’ or securing opportunities at local events is easy as pie. Sometimes it is. But to be truly effective, regional campaigns require all the strategic thought and creativity of national activity.

Some say that regional PR is a classic case of ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’. We believe it’s a combination of both.

It’s true that personal relationships are a good thing: from knowing the area’s key journalists and broadcasters to the people who head up local committees or community groups. If you are in touch with the region’s movers and shakers you’re likely to hear about emerging initiatives or events, and have the opportunity to get involved early – even steer the direction that they take.

But it doesn’t begin and end there.

PR is about building and managing reputations amongst relevant audiences. So, from a campaign planning point of view, you need to think carefully about who you are trying to communicate with, where you are likely to find them, what you want to convey and – most importantly – how to go about it.

Sometimes this can be easier said than done! But a combination of local knowledge, contacts and experience go a long way towards developing and implementing campaigns that make the right noise in the right places.

It’s no good churning out press releases to the local newspapers and hoping that they will run your corporate stories week after week. Even if they did, people would soon get bored of reading them.

Instead of always thinking: ‘what do we want to talk about?’, it can be much more beneficial to think: ‘what do people in the region want?’.

This attitude can lay the foundation for an excellent local and regional profile. Here are just two examples of how it might translate into PR initiatives:

1.    Support local schools: for instance, an engineering firm might build relationships with schools by providing opportunities to bring the maths and science curriculum to life in new and exciting ways. The benefits? Well, local media are sure to be interested – there could be scope for broadcast and print coverage, as well as exciting social media potential. Not to mention the corporate social responsibility brownie points. Plus the students could be potential future employees (or even customers!)… investing in young people can make a huge difference to their lives, as well as bringing short and long term benefits to organisations who take the time to do so.

2.    Get involved with regional events: think laterally about local festivals, initiatives or developments that could have synergy with your organisation, and find ways to build on this. If you want to prove that you are a family-focused business, why not donate staff time to help out manning stalls or selling programmes at local fetes and fairs. You’re sure to get positive media coverage, and your team can actively demonstrate your family-friendly credentials just by interacting with people – you’re showing it, rather than simply saying it, which is far more powerful.

The most important thing to remember with local and regional PR is that a good reputation needs to be earned. It can’t be achieved over night, and it needs to be nurtured. Effective reputation management doesn’t need to cost the earth, but it does need to be handled by people who have a finger on the pulse and know the nuances of the region and its people.


Over and out…


Tags: regional pr | local pr | pr agency | pr consultant | media relations | events

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Friday ramble: Lilibet – you’re a real Diamond!

01 June 2012 at 11:55

Our diamond queenSo the Diamond Jubilee bank holiday weekend is finally upon us. For us at Trailblazer PR it’s an action packed weekend of water festivals, street parties, barbecues and music concerts. How about you? What are you up to on this 4 day party weekend?


But whilst we are partying let’s not forget – which can be all too easy – what the point of this weekend is. Yes, yes, some of you reading this will think ‘if only we could forget’ and I appreciate that we all have a different view on the royal family but for me it’s important to take some time out to celebrate the 60 year reign of our Queen. To celebrate her life, her achievements, and how they have affected our country, and personal lives, thus far.


From a PR point of view, and from a personal opinion, I believe that over the past few years the Queen, and her family, have really come into their own. With current public opinion about the royal family being at an all-time high I think that the royals – and their special advisors of course – should give themselves a bit of a pat on the back for a job well done. Long may it continue.


Our diamond queenYes, some may say the ‘good times’ started with the romance and subsequent marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and, to a point, the UK’s renewed love for the royals may have been ignited here but you cannot underestimate that the family as a whole – led by Lilibet – have really taken time to show us more of their lives in these past few years. The public thirst for inside information on all things royal has been there and the royals have willingly fed, to a point, our thirst for information. We like it.


This morning I was touched when watching BBC Breakfast who were promoting the documentary that is on BBC One this evening at 8pm. It’s titled ‘A Jubilee Tribute to the Queen by Prince Charles’ and consists of Prince Charles talking about his mother while showing old film clips of his mother, father, brothers and sisters as they were growing up. The Queen, in her time, has been accused by us, her subjects, of many things – one of them that she was a ‘hands off’ mother. It looks like this documentary shows an altogether different view.


As a working mother (not a head of state, granted!) I can totally relate to how difficult it can be to juggle responsibility and motherhood – we all make mistakes. But it’s our ability to learn from them that allows us to develop as people and flourish and I certainly believe that, over the years, our Queen – and royal family – have done so.


We’ve all had periods in our lives like the Queen’s annus horribilis and it is hard dealing with it as a normal person, never mind as head of state. I think if you really take the time there’s a lot that can be learnt from the way she has conducted herself over her 60 year reign. You’ve just got to ‘want’ to take the time.


Let them eat cakeSo whether it’s for five minutes or longer, raise a glass or cucumber sandwich to our monarch this bank holiday weekend. Because, actually, when you compare her to other heads of state, she’s a real Diamond!


Over and out…

Tags: the queen | queen elizabeth II | royal family | good pr | bank holiday |

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