NATIONAL WORK LIFE WEEK

The Publicité Team Share Their Experience and Advice for Establishing a Good Work Life Balance 

National Work Life Week, taking place this week (11th-15th October, 2021), is an annual event aimed at getting us all thinking and talking about work life balance and workplace wellbeing. It can be tough to establish a good equilibrium between our work and home lives, especially with the boundaries blurred by home working, schedule changes or homeschooling. 

Flexible and remote working is on the rise, which is great, but for those just getting started with a new way of working, or a new job, it can be a steep learning curve to avoid working around the clock or having work overstep its boundaries into family life. Many members of the Publicité team have worked remotely or flexibly for a long time, and have set up their own strategies to maintain a good work life balance.  

To celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of flexible working and wellbeing, some members of our team are sharing their experience and advice.

Katrina

What is your experience with flexible working?

I have worked flexibly for many years and find that I can get many other things done in my day, and work when it suits me. I no longer feel restricted by the traditional hours of 9-5. Setting my own schedule allows me to be there for my children at times I might ordinarily need to be in the office. I plan in my diary to take them to swimming classes and other activities and can attend important events, such as dance shows!

Can you share your advice or a strategy you use for establishing a good work life balance? 

Completely switch off when you aren’t doing work. Although you can work from anywhere, if you aren’t at your laptop, at a meeting, or setting aside time to directly tackle a project or problem, put your mind into home mode.

What is your favourite way to relax and unwind after a busy week?

I love to get outside with the horses, or anywhere in nature. Lots of exercise and plenty of fresh air.

Laura

What is your experience with flexible working?

I work from home, and need to work around my children’s needs during the holidays, but I do like a routine so my flexible working is very structured. Flexible working facilitates me spending more time with my children, taking them to their clubs and activities, and being with them during their holidays, which is brilliant. I would never be able to do that in a standard desk job. It can be challenging keeping to my working schedule when I don’t have childcare, but I am generally happy to work in the evening to catch up.

Can you share your advice or a strategy you use for establishing a good work life balance?

I set a plan every week on a Sunday for how the week ahead should look and try to stick to it. I also do something called batching, this is when you batch all your similar jobs in one, i.e. all my house admin in one go, work admin in one go, and often on the same day every week, then I know everything should get done. You need to be realistic, methodical and organised, as well as give yourself some down time.

What is your favourite way to relax and unwind after a busy week?

A film, a book and a long walk!

Emma

What is your experience with flexible working?

With two young children, I really need to be able to work flexibly – whether that’s first thing in the morning before they are up, or on a Sunday afternoon when there’s a bit of peace and quiet and my husband can keep an eye on them. It’s beneficial as I can fit work around family life. It’s working really well for me and, to be honest, it’s rarely challenging unless the children are poorly.

Can you share your advice or a strategy you use for establishing a good work life balance?

Although unexpected things always pop up in PR and I would jump on something urgent where possible, I try to manage my “to do” list in a way that means I can spend time with the children after school and on weekends. I think learning when to say no and when to switch off is really important. This is something I’ve definitely got better at over the years. Managing the client’s expectations, for example, setting dates for when certain pieces of work will be done, certainly helps. The pandemic highlighted the realities of family life, and we all had times when children (or pets!) would pop up on Zoom calls.

What is your favourite way to relax and unwind after a busy week? 

A few glasses of wine and a kitchen disco with the family!

Nicola

What is your experience with flexible working?

I work flexibly from home and work around family commitments. Although I do a lot of early mornings and work long hours, as I finish earlier than I would in a traditional office job to collect my children from school and take them to their various after school activities, I love having this flexibility. It has enabled me to manage my business successfully from home, with relatively few overheads and peace of mind that I am able to juggle work and family. 

The challenges are that I am always at home, so it never feels as though I’m away from work. I get interrupted when everyone is home and it’s hard to have my own space, as I would in an office.

Can you share your advice or a strategy you use for establishing a good work life balance? 

I always make sure that when I am with the children I devote my time and attention to them, and try not to be distracted by work calls or emails. It’s important to me that the time I spend with them is quality time and that we have fun (or do homework!).  

What is your favourite way to relax and unwind after a busy week?

I train at the gym 4 or 5 times a week. Although not relaxing in the traditional sense, it’s my own space and an opportunity for me to work towards my personal goals. I am a bodybuilding competitor and I love the challenge and meeting new people through the sport.

For more information about National Work Life Week 2021, visit: https://workingfamilies.org.uk/nationalworklifeweek/

GETTING THE PITCH ON POINT

Story-First Pitching

When pitching to the media you only have a few lines to grab their attention and prove the worth of your material. A strong story, that is easily communicable, is critical to your pitch. 

Great stories require time and consideration to ensure they meet the key requirements of being relevant, engaging and well-written. Following the three steps below can help you to create and review your pitch, and guarantee it has the best chance of being picked up.

Find a suitable story

You may already have your story in mind, for example; big company news, new product launch, research findings, or hot-take on industry challenges. If you’re finding it hard to work out a good story, it may be that you need to be patient and wait for something to come through… or (more likely) that you need to think creatively and look into different areas of your business for your story. 

Try brainstorming these three kinds of material:

News story 

Any significant company news that has relevance for the wider world or your industry e.g: exciting product launches, significant company expansion, acquisitions, CSR initiatives, award wins.

Opinion 

This could be a reflection, or a new perspective, on recent events in your industry or a national/global story. It needs to be something unique, so check that you’re saying something new and make sure your spokesperson has got the experience or position in the industry to be saying what they are saying.

Awareness/education 

If your company or members of your team have some new research or findings, or specialist experience that would be helpful to others, then draft this out. Sharing knowledge is a brilliant way to build your reputation and promote your work in a less commercial way. 

Before settling definitively on any story, think critically about whether an outsider to your company would be interested in reading your story. Then, examine more closely the audience you want to target and who you will be pitching to.

It is always a good idea to check whether your selected journalist or publication has recently covered the topic you are writing or hoping to speak about. Don’t be ignorant, spend some time looking into their latest pieces and make sure you know their speciality. If they only cover gaming tech, then don’t go to them hoping they will do the hard work of finding someone in their organisation who might be interested in fintech. If they have covered your topic recently, do you have anything unique to add? Also, check they cover the kind of material you want to pitch in. For instance, don’t send a news press release to an academic journal that only covers peer reviewed papers.

If you are particularly interested in working with a certain journalist or publication another way round is to look into the material they are covering and see how you might be able to offer them something additional of use.

It’s important to make a good first impression. However, the same rule goes for the second, third, fourth and every pitch after that. You can’t let the quality of your content slip. It’s a competitive environment and journalists can be quickly turned off and frustrated by weak or irrelevant stories, or mistakes in your pitching. They need to know you can consistently entertain, inform, and educate their readers. 

Craft the story form

The kind of story you want to pitch in, combined with your target journalists/publications, will help lead you to the story form. News will most often take the form of a press release, going to multiple publications, but could also span out into exclusive interviews or articles if the journalist thinks that their readers would like to know more. For opinion or educational pieces press releases can work, particularly for announcing research findings, but more targeted Q&A profiling, long-form articles, short blogs, videos or podcasts may be more suitable.

Don’t include anything that could be construed as advertising or directly promotional. Stay objective!  Make it snappy and whilst you want to make sure your business gets mentioned or attributed somewhere, steer clear from including any promotional material. 

So your story is strong and you’ve settled on your form. Now you have to communicate it well. It goes almost without saying spelling and grammar should be immaculate. However, also think about how you can concisely communicate all that you need, whilst capturing the audience visually or intellectually. Include agreed PR messaging where appropriate.

Pitch it in

Address the journalist directly, personalise your message and keep it concise. Depending on the type of pitch you may not need to have your full piece written, but you need to be confident you can deliver and give them a strong overview through an abstract or outline first. 

Journalists get so many emails a day your pitch will go straight to the ‘trash’ if it doesn’t hit the three essentials: relevant, engaging, well-written. Your email headline is very important and whilst there is no ‘magic formula’ it helps to be clear and direct about what you are pitching. Journalists are well trained in spotting clickbait headers that have no real substance, so think carefully about what the key point of your story is and why they want to open your email to read further. 

Remember, it’s not just about getting your pitch past the journalist. The real goal is to make it go further and have an impact with a wider audience. The strongest stories are those that will be passed on, and get people talking (in a good way) about your material.

GET SET IN SEPTEMBER

Get Set in September

The ‘summer slowdown’ is something many businesses are familiar with. Of course this is dependent on the industry, but it does hold true for PR across most sectors. Throughout August, many phones go straight to answering machines and emails head to the graveyard of holiday backlog. However, this year, it seems the established cycle of business activity has been shaken up. 

Has Covid Counteracted the Summer Slowdown?

We work across a range of industries and have noticed that there has been significant activity right through from June to August. Clients we are working with, and their partners, seem as busy as ever, and the media keen for good quality material. 

So, in our experience it seems like the 2021 summer slowdown did not appear, which could be as a result of several reasons:  

  1. Business activity has been boosted by ‘reopening’ and the relaxation of restrictions in many industries across Europe, the UK and US. Customers and businesses were eager to resume activity, events resumed ‘in person’ and there was a lot of time to make up for – resulting in a lot more PR activity.
  2. Media outlets are hungry for news following a stagnated period at the beginning of this year where we were completely saturated with ‘Covid’ news. Of course, Covid is still hitting the headlines, but a shift to normal activity has been refreshing.
  3. Working from home has become the new normal and our productivity patterns have changed. Media have become accustomed to answering rerouted calls on mobiles or responding/working at out of hours times. 

Take Stock in September

It seems like positive news that there has been so much activity over the summer. However, there are a few pointers that we need to take from this. 

  1. If your business normally experiences a summer slowdown and you utilise this time to get admin in order or take stock with your team then don’t miss this out. Get your communications in order, check the to-do list of tasks that may have slipped and try to schedule in time to manage them in the next few months. 
  2. Stay aware. Keep on top of what is going on in your industry. Taking the time to do a review of trade publications, competitor news and sector news is key as we turn another corner in the Covid-19 timeline. In order to stay ahead you and your PR team should be well armed with a knowledge of recent news, as well as competitor messaging and activity, to make informed PR decisions for the autumn and winter ahead.
  3. Review PR, marketing or sales strategy in September and reflect on the year so far.  End of year reviews are crucial, but before we know it December will be here and pre-empting plans for 2022 will help during these uncertain times. Meet with your PR team following a busy summer to review, refresh and prepare. What has worked in terms of PR? Are there any gaps or opportunities we missed? How can we make improvements? What are the company’s focuses for the end of year/2022? What news or announcements are upcoming? 
  4. Get creative. Once you’ve done your research and made some strategic plans, brainstorm some creative ideas to have on file, ready for a quiet period, or for a big boost to PR.

Maintaining the momentum

The New Year always sneaks quickly up on us before we know it, but with all the upheaval, this year seems to have flown by faster than ever. With the continuing uncertainty, but positive movement for many businesses, the most effective way to maintain this momentum is to plan and prepare for all eventualities. Keep getting your name out there, and use September to refresh and review in readiness for 2022.

CARPE DIEM

PR Strategies to Help Your Small Business Seize the Day

The date is set. As we wait for 19th July, cautiously expectant of some shift to pre-Covid ‘normality’, many businesses are wondering how best to make the most of this time.

Capturing and retaining the attention of your target audience is crucial in these hard, uncertain times, and building that into trust and loyalty is more challenging than ever. Customers love to align themselves with brands that deliver and exceed expectations, but also that share their values. Whether you’ve been operating all throughout the last tumultuous year, or have been opening and closing along with the undulating restrictions, if you haven’t already, now is the moment to be getting your name out there.

We’re sharing some straightforward PR strategies to give your business a boost and help you seize the ‘post-pandemic’ day.

Consolidate your messaging

We’ve all been through a tumultuous period, so take this time to reassess and review what you and your business are about. This is key before you undertake any PR activity, and will benefit your business even if you choose not to go ahead with PR. If you don’t know, and cannot clearly articulate your business messaging, neither will your customers (or target customers). Get together your leadership team and brainstorm. Once you’ve agreed, write down your aims, ethos and business/product offering in a few concise sentences that are memorable, and with the aim of being understood by all.

Share and communicate this messaging internally via your preferred method whether that’s by email, a messaging app, or in a weekly meeting. You need to be assured your staff are ‘on the same page’. Now you are ready to use this messaging in your external PR.

Press releases, articles and content

Press releases take a bit of time and effort to get right, and you need to ensure you are ready to follow up on any opportunities that arise. For small businesses they are a great way to get news, information and your core messages out to your target audience. Local press, trade publications or online media will probably be the key targets here.

What have you been up to? Any good news? Challenges you’ve faced and overcome? Positive customer case studies? Do you have a specialist comment or insight into a current issue?

Any press release should include agreed business messaging (but don’t keep repeating it word for word!) and a strong story. Without PR professionals to help it can be tricky to know and articulate a good story, but getting a couple of close contacts or trusted customers to review your idea and see if they find it engaging is one way to check. Before sending anything out look at it from all perspectives and check it won’t be misconstrued. Have an external business contact or close customer read through to check for errors and ensure your message is clear.

The compelling story is key for your press release and if you don’t have any news or material you want to share, be patient. If you don’t feel you have anything to shout about yet, but know who you want to reach, get your press list ready and keep an eye and ear out for opportunities where you may want to comment.

Speaker platforms

Research or get involved with virtual or in-person events. If you have knowledge, experience or skills you can share, local business or trade events are great places to build your platform and reputation as a thought leader. Enquire at any events you will be attending or groups you are a part of, if there are any suitable speaker opportunities or panel sessions. Make sure to prepare well and tailor your presentation to your audience.

Social media

Amplify the power of your PR by making use of social media platforms. Share your coverage so your customers and contacts can read about what you’ve been up to and post about any events you will be attending or speaking at to increase your audience.

Especially at this critical time, you need your audience to know your name, your product, your service, is the one they want or need. PR can help you to achieve this, but knowing where to start if you haven’t utilised PR before can be tricky. These straightforward PR strategies are a good place to start if you are overwhelmed and we hope will help you turn this moment into an opportunity.

KEEPING IN SYNC

The Importance of a Joined-Up PR Approach

We all know how important it is to keep the different elements of a business ‘in sync’ – from sales to marketing, finance to operations.

Communicating priorities, business aims and responsibilities across different departments helps keep everyone on track and working towards the same goal(s) – in line with a company’s mission.

So why do companies often keep PR on the periphery? And fail to set up effective communication between PR and other departments? Many organisations forget that PR is there to provide added value, particularly in areas that are so important for sales and marketing, such as lead generation, brand awareness and credibility.

Sales and marketing should – and will for many businesses – regularly meet and ensure they have a joined-up approach, in order to support each other as best as possible, and to help achieve respective goals. PR, even as an external resource, is best included in this team. They need input, understanding and feedback in order to deliver the best service.

To get the most from your PR your team, you should ensure that they have a key contact or a line of communication with sales and marketing. Ensuring this happens from the outset will deliver a range of positives for your business, your internal team, and your PR team. Without the opportunity to build a relationship with sales and marketing, your PR manager will be working against the tide, trying to find and request the most up-to-date information, goals and resources (imagery, targets and even news!)

So, what benefits will keeping in sync have for you and your PRO?

Avoiding missed opportunities

More information often equals more opportunities. Whether those are reactive (responding to journalist requests) or proactive (pitching news and ideas), the more material PR teams have to work with, the more opportunities they can often find. This can range from events and speaker placements, to awards, article placements and spokespeople interviews. Sometimes what seems mundane or not newsworthy to your team will strike a PR chord or will be worth filing for future use. Including your PR manager in the loop as much as possible will help them to find and generate many opportunities for your business, as this is where their expertise comes in.

Perfect preparation

If communication lines are open between PR, marketing and sales, it is far easier to prepare. When PR are prepared in advance they can advise you on the best way to utilise any news or materials. They can make an early request for resources, such as imagery and details, they will need to create a press release, which will save a last-minute search for materials.

Passing on news or updates last minute, or through a third party, can make deadlines much tighter, and the life of PR professionals far harder. In order to align with your schedule and plans, the earlier PR hears about it, the better. They can then offer the necessary support and bring any updates, launches or news into the PR plan. Of course, last minute news and reactives are always to be expected and should be expertly dealt with by your PR team, but if it doesn’t have to be rushed, then it shouldn’t be.

A more targeted service

Including your PR manager in monthly or bi-monthly marketing and sales meetings can be beneficial to ensuring you get completely targeted service. If PR know about it, they can work out a strategy to support. This covers everything from trying to reach a new target audience, to boosting website traffic. For example, your PR team can search and aim to find ways to help get your content in front of new audiences through their mediums, or will know to include certain SEO words in blog or press release content they are drafting.

Better returns

Clear, two-way communication and regular input from sales and marketing saves time on the PR account. When information is being fed directly, they can work more efficiently and will not be wasting time chasing for materials or news. The more information they have about sales and marketing goals, the better they can work to contribute to helping achieve those aims.

Happier sales and marketing

External PR service providers aim to support the work of others in your business, as well as their own objectives. Being in sync with sales and marketing benefits all and keeps life simple. Marketing, particularly social media, can often utilise PR materials for their work, giving them an edge and boosting the value of any activity undertaken.