7 deadly PR sins series: Indulgence

Sin 2: Indulging yourself

It’s a hard one for me to write this one. Mainly because I’m guilty of it myself and, on so many occasions, have to slap my own wrists. What do I mean by indulging yourself?  Allow me to explain…

As a creative writer, I’m prone to long, descriptive sentences reminiscent of the novellas I so loved as a child which are designed to bring to life an idea so vividly that my reader cannot help but be immersed in the beautifully constructed imagery I create though my words. See?

All well and good if you’re writing a romantic novel. The trouble is that when it comes to PR, your message gets lost in the (albeit quite lovely) flowery verbiage.

Here are three tips to help keep you on the straight and narrow:

  • Keep it simple – great PR isn’t about using the biggest, most complex words you can think of. It’s about communicating a story or idea in the clearest way possible. In order to make your writing more accessible, you need to keep it simple. As soon as you overcomplicate things you’re going to lose your readers’ attention.
  • Avoid jargon – unless you’ve been asked to write something very specific for an audience in the know – leave jargon at the door. People these days lead busy lives. They don’t want to read something that looks like a page from a text book. You know yourself that when you read something what matters most is that you can read it easily, quickly and don’t need a degree in a particular field of study to find it useful.
  • Break the rules – sometimes you have to unlearn the basics. Strictly speaking, I know I was always taught not to start a sentence with ‘but’ or ‘and’. But it can give your writing some punch. Short, snappy sentences beat long drawn-out ones every time. You’re competing for attention. Grab it. Start at the end; tell your story out of sync. It can be surprisingly engaging. And that’s just what you want.

I love writing, I can’t help myself. But if, like me, you have a tendency to get carried away, don’t despair. There’s hope!  Before I start writing I remind myself of three things:

  • Who am I writing for (audience)
  • Why am I writing it (goal)
  • What am I trying to say (storyline).

Then I tend to write my sentences regardless. It’s how I work and it’s how the words come spilling out of my head. I swear they almost have a tune as they come out. Once they are down on paper (or rather screen) I can then go back and unpick any waffle.

The skill here is to recognise that you do it and be able to put it right before you release it. It takes a bit of practice but it’s one of the most valuable writing tools you can master. Happy writing!



7 deadly PR sins

Over the next few weeks we’re going to share with you seven of the biggest PR sins. They are often easy to commit, will undoubtedly hinder your PR efforts and, in some cases, can be damaging to your personal image and brand profile. Read on (if you dare) to find out if you’re guilty and what to do if you’ve fallen foul…

Sin 1: Slagging off the competition
Yes, really… that. No matter what industry or sector you operate in, you’re going to have competition. It’s a fact. Even charities have to compete for people’s time and generosity with other, similar organisations. But regardless of your personal feelings, don’t ever do it. Here’s why:
1) It’s just plain tacky. And it makes you look wildly unprofessional. Brand profile is everything in this day and age. Professionalism, ethics, quality and trustworthiness are the cornerstones of any successful brand’s image. If you resort to insults, however subtle you think they may be, they will be recognised in an instant for exactly what they are. Not cool.

2) If you’re willing to publicly pull-down or belittle your competition, what are you saying about your suppliers, affiliates and, heaven forbid, customers, behind closed doors? Nothing? That’s as well may be but you can guarantee it will cross their minds. Do you want that to be the reason that people talk about your brand?

3) It actually makes it look like you’ve got something to worry about. If the only way you can find to promote your business is by making negative or patronising comments about your competitors (or anyone else for that matter) in your own marketing, it can seem like you feel threatened and are attempting to combat another’s success with negativity.
So, if you’ve ever made this faux pas, here’s what to do: don’t ever do it again.

Then, instead of pulling the competition to pieces, do you want to know the most powerful thing you can do? Act like they don’t exist. Focus on your strengths, not their weaknesses. Win by being the best. Get ahead by offering the best products and services. Focus on what you do well and shout it from the rooftops. Build your cornerstones: Professionalism, Ethics, Quality and Trustworthiness.

So the next time you’re writing your PR, your newsletter, your e-shot – whatever it might be. Be careful that you don’t drift into a negative headspace. We’re all better than that.

Festive PR – have you left it too late?

Many franchises have offers and good news stories around the festive season so have you thought about what you might pitch to the media this Christmas? Or have you left it too late?

Different types of media have different deadlines
You’ve probably missed the sleigh when it comes to the national monthly magazines whose December issues would have been published in November and planned since July. But you can still hitch a ride with Rudolph if you want to get into their online portals or your local and regional daily press. So get that magic working and brainstorm some fun ideas.

Get your Captain Hook into a story
One of the best ways to get your company mentioned is by hooking on to an existing story in the media. Imagine the great expert comment you could make as a franchisee or franchisor in the senior care industry linked to the new John Lewis TV ad?

All you need to do is keep an eye out for the stories coming up and contact the journalists who have written them. Do your prep, know your subject, select some facts and figures to support what you are saying and link your business to the subject or solution.

Don’t miss a day
Ever been surprised at the “and finally” stories on the news? Quite often these are fed from those special events such as Ice Cream Week or Hug a Bear Day and it is a PR agency like us who has pitched a fun idea to the programme planners weeks in advance.

Do you know all the special days over Winter that would work for your business? Here are a few to get you started:

•    December is Human Rights Month and 10th December is Human Rights Day
•    3rd December is Make a Gift Day
•    8th December is Pretend to be a Time Traveller Day

And one we can all get involved is Ugly Christmas Jumper Day on 18th December!

Like the idea of festive PR but simply don’t have the time? Ask us about our PR retainers.

P.S. We apologise for the gratuitous festive references and pantomiming around in this blog but it simply has to be done on a cold Winter’s day in Oxford!

Using emotion in PR

o-EMOJI-FACES-facebookAfter catching up with my far-flung friends on Facebook today, it suddenly struck me at how I’ve quickly become used to using emoticons to re-enforce what I am writing. In particular, I’ll use an emoticon to laugh at my own posts to show that I’m joking when the words I use mean that my audience should naturally pick up that it is a joke without the emoticon. This may say more about my ability to tell a joke or that my humour isn’t particularly mainstream. But it did get me thinking about how using emotion in PR has always been important if we want to get a reaction.

Firstly, I wondered how journalists would receive media releases if I used emoticons in them? I’m really not sure?!

Secondly, and most importantly, it reminded me how vital it is to strike an emotional reaction with our stakeholders in our PR campaigns.

Can you honestly say that you do this with every PR campaign for your brand?

Do you even know what would cause an emotional response from your different stakeholders? What works for your consumers doesn’t necessarily work for your prospective franchisees and, in fact, what works for one segment of your customers may not work for another segment.

Does a fear factor headline grab their attention or do they become loyal from being brought into a caring community?

Is it “angry face” or “smiley face”?

We know what works for our clients so why not get in touch 😉

Bad news travel faster

You’d better believe it!  

And these days it’s not just word of mouth you have to worry about. The likes of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook never sleep. Boundaries have been broken down and now anyone can (and will) share their views and experiences with others, be it good, bad or ugly.

We often make the mistake of thinking that we’re smarter than the people we’re selling to. Fall into this trap at your peril. Today’s buyers are savvy and are on the lookout for any hint of negativity or unrest in the network or potential problems with the product or service they’ll be expected to provide.

What is bad news?

Different issues cause concern for different people so ‘bad news’ can mean one of many things. Disgruntled franchisees, dissatisfied customers, poor sales, a stagnant network. None of it is a laughing matter and ALL of it is guaranteed to have a negative impact on your franchise recruitment and growth.

Things go wrong, they’re bound to from time to time. Addressing them quickly and directly is crucial for a positive resolution. Particularly if it’s initiated publicly. The key in this situation is not to panic and not to let emotions rule common sense or good business strategy. Dealt with correctly, even a mistake can be turned into a positive PR effort.

PR = Public Relations, so remember:

Be polite at all times: rudeness will immediately damage your brand and reputation. Be polite, not condescending and try to genuinely relate to the party feeling injured to understand what went wrong and how you can fix it.

Respond with facts: this can’t be stressed enough. Facts and facts only. Not opinion and not an emotional response other than to express an apology for inconvenience. Respond with what you know, not what you assume.

Apologise if you got it wrong: crucial for public image. Know when to say sorry. You’ll be amazed at how this can diffuse a situation.

Small gestures go a long way: be seen to be trying to put the situation right. Money isn’t always the answer. Understanding your customer profile will help you to offer a solution that will be best received.

When managed correctly, these resolutions are just as powerful as your good news and success stories. They clearly demonstrate that as a brand and as a franchisor you are open, honest and, most importantly, care about those that you do business with.

You could be forgiven for wondering how this fits into your franchise recruitment strategy. Well, the bottom line is that it doesn’t matter what you’re spending on print, exhibitions, online listings or eshots in order to entice prospects into your pipeline. If things fall down at due diligence stage then it’s been a waste of money, pure and simple.

Contact us at spark@revpr.co.uk to find out more about managing and utilising PR to rev up your franchise recruitment.

Good news travels fast

But do you know how to harness the most powerful recruitment tool available to you?

Good news and success stories are incredibly useful for franchise recruitment and also to maintain a buoyant consumer market. It’s as close to stating the obvious as we’ll get but being able to take a step back and identify the positives in your network is something that a lot of franchisors tell us that they struggle with.

It’s a simple concept that’s not always easy to execute. In order to progress smoothly and with any real pace or purpose, prospects need to see and hear relevant positive stories at every stage of the recruitment process. Here are a few easy tips to help you to do just that:

Give them a reason to compliment you: believe it or not, a happy by-product of social media is that people are more inclined to offer praise and compliments when they have a great experience. So give them one! Ensure your social media forms part of your PR campaigns, interact with prospects and customers without trying to sell to them. You’ll be amazed what comes out.

Blow your own trumpet: franchisee smashed their sales target? Products won awards? Helped a family achieve their ‘mortgage free’ dream? Shout about it. Press releases and case studies should be used to promote these positive stories at every stage of the process. Being able to identify with an existing franchisee and see themselves emulating that success is one of the most powerful tools of persuasion for converting a prospect.

Make it about them, not you: people will buy because of what your brand can do for them. Not you. It’s great if you’ve had multiple sign ups or beaten your own targets but that shouldn’t be the main focus for your PR. Instead focus on how those that have already bought your franchise have benefitted and how those who haven’t yet, stand to.

Happy customers = happy franchisees: What makes a happy customer? Great products and great service. Your franchisees will undoubtedly be providing both so you need to help them really get ahead by pushing that message out to the rest of the world. Linking consumer PR to franchise recruitment is a trick some franchisors are still missing. Boosting brand awareness amongst target consumers will ultimately lead to more sales for franchisees. And have you met a franchisee with a profitable, growing business who is likely to give negative feedback to anyone at due diligence stage? Didn’t think so.

So what am I saying today? Using PR effectively is about more than just understanding what you need to say; you have to know when to say it too. So, remember to look for those positive stories. And once you have them, feed them into focused PR campaigns that hit prospects in the right place at the right time.

To make the most of the successes happening within your network (or to get help finding them!) contact us for more information at spark@revpr.co.uk