Transcript of #CommsChat on the value of degrees in PR and comms

This week's chat

 

#CommsChat on the value of degrees in PR and comms

This week's chat

This week on #CommsChat, we’re joined by Richard Bailey, public relations educator and editor of online magazine Behind the Spin, to talk about the value of PR and comms degree and whether or not they are necessary for the industry to progress. We’ll look at what PR and comms degrees offer, their approach and how industry bodies can engage with those starting out in the profession in other ways.

The topics are:

  • What do PR/comms degrees offer their participants, and the industry?
  • How can apprenticeships and CPD courses equip participants for the PR/comms industry?
  • Which skills should PR/comms courses, degree and non-degree, teach?
  • Should degrees be theoretical in their approach? Or is PR/comms more like learning a trade?
  • What can professional associations, e.g. PRCA, do to support those who teach degrees? How can they support those without degrees?

Join us! We tweet from @CommsChat and #CommsChat takes place every Monday, from 8-9pm GMT. Anyone can take part in the discussion – simply follow the hashtag here or on Twitter. If you can’t make the chat or would like to revisit it, a transcript will be posted to Storify on Tuesday morning. We’d love to hear your suggestions for future topics – please get in touch with Amy at amy.sandys@communicatemagazine.co.uk or contact us on Twitter with any ideas.

 

Transcript of #CommsChat on purpose, profit and internal motivation

This week's chat

This week on #CommsChat, we were joined by Hubert Grealish, founder and CEO of Gworks Media Works, to talk about how purpose affects profit and the internal motivation of employees. We talked about why companies have a purpose, if purpose is necessary and how it enhances the drive and motivation of company staff. We also chatted about the gig economy and whether a lack of purpose impacts negatively on employee morale and recruitment.

 

Digital dieting: getting the right balance of tech in our lives

This week's chat

Sophie Harding

Mindshare’s futures director, Jeremy Pounder, recently ran a #CommsChat on digital dieting, which I would like to pick up on a bit more. The topic emerged as part of Mindshare’s recent trends report, which was the result of extensive consumer research that revealed people are striving to achieve the right balance of technology in their lives.

There are increasing concerns around issues such as online privacy, bullying/abuse and how technology is exacerbating low self-esteem, reduced attention spans, increased stress levels, and diminishing social skills. However, what people are prepared to do about it is perhaps less dramatic. People are far from downing tools and ditching technology altogether.

Digital detox was nowhere near a realistic proposition for most. Smaller, more gradual, behaviour changes that were initiated by trigger points was the reality – more akin to a digital diet.

As part of our #CommsChat, when asked what you would cut out or restrict, the conversation mostly revolved around social media (nice to see the irony wasn’t lost that we were using social media to talk about this subject!). You felt social media was too curated and did not provide a realistic picture. This totally reflected the view of those we spoke to in our study and people are starting to adjust their social media behaviour as a result. Many say they are feeling the pressure and are taking a break from Facebook and Twitter, or giving them up entirely. We are seeing growth in more private networks such as Snapchat and WhatsApp, although quite rightly you raised concerns that platforms such as Snapchat could worsen FOMO (fear of missing out.)

It was also interesting to hear a few of you mention LinkedIn and how people should be using this platform more appropriately. Thanks to this chat, I am now keeping an eye out diligently for those elusive ‘guns out’ profile pics from my LinkedIn colleagues!

Something #CommsChat also mentioned was an effort to cut down your email or overall device use. This was another behaviour reflected in the results of our study. People are making a conscious effort to reduce their device time, whether it be only buying a certain amount of data, turning off notifications, activating airplane mode or switching off altogether at key periods of time.

So what does this all mean for brands? Will less digital lead to a more personalised comms approach? Not necessarily. Digital is the perfect platform to actually enhance personal communications but this needs to be done in the correct way, by truly putting the individual and their experience at the heart of the communication i.e. talking to them like a human! It was also highlighted that it was essential for the digital experience to integrate with the offline and overall brand experience for personalised communications to be effective.
Realistically brands cannot and should not cut out digital altogether because consumers aren’t. The majority of people are tech friendly with 75% feeling that tech has a positive impact on their lives. They are simply making small behaviour changes in order to get a healthier balance of tech in their daily routine.

Brands need to work with this culture of digital dieting, using more data to understand their audience behaviour and the channels they connect with, when and why. Once this has been determined then the right mix of media and channels can be used to talk to people at the right time, in the right place with digital dieting in mind. Delivering real world experiences is an additional tactic, but again the message needs to be relevant to the individual.

Another good approach is to emphasise and encourage the positive aspects of digital. For example Jeremy highlighted how the rise of voice interactions could help the visually impaired with digital in the future.
So what about the future? We contemplated whether less digital was likely, or even possible in a future climate where we will be ever more reliant on technology. The jury is out, as it is likely we will not view digital in the same way as we do now.

Artificial intelligence (AI) will enable more automation, and Internet of Things (IoT) more connectivity. We will spend less time gazing and tapping at small glass screens. Digital will become so integrated into our lives, perhaps via implants, that it is not something we will really think about in the same way.
While this is all playing out, there is likely to be a further reaction against certain types of technology, while we struggle to make sense of it all, but history has shown that likely we will adapt to make technology work for us as individuals and society.

Sophie Harding is research and insights director at Mindshare

What do you think? Continue the #CommsChat on Twitter.

 

#CommsChat on purpose, profit and internal motivation

This week's chat

This week on #CommsChat, we’re joined by Hubert Grealish, founder and CEO of Gworks Media Works, to talk about how purpose affects profit and the internal motivation of employees. We’ll look at why companies have a purpose, if purpose is necessary and how it enhances the drive and motivation of company staff. We’ll also chat about the gig economy and whether a lack of purpose impacts negatively on employee morale and recruitment.

The topics are:

  • Why do companies have a purpose? Is it necessary?
  • How can internal motivation impact the achievement of company purpose?
  • Does experiencing the ‘gig economy’ impact employee motivation? What’s the effect of this on company purpose?
  • Is ‘purpose’ still a relevant metric, compared to increased focus on reputation?
  • What steps can companies take to ensure recruitment/retention processes reflect company attitudes?

Join us! We tweet from @CommsChat and #CommsChat takes place every Monday, from 8-9pm GMT. Anyone can take part in the discussion – simply follow the hashtag here or on Twitter. If you can’t make the chat or would like to revisit it, a transcript will be posted to Storify on Tuesday morning. We’d love to hear your suggestions for future topics – please get in touch with Amy at amy.sandys@communicatemagazine.co.uk or contact us on Twitter with any ideas.

 

Transcript of #CommsChat on GDPR, journalism and the PR industry

This week's chat

 

The impact of GDPR on the PR industry

This week's chat


Robert Bownes, director of communications at data science and intelligence marketing company, Profusion

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a series of new rules governing marketing data. In particular, the need for ‘explicit consent’ from the recipient of a marketing message, and for this consent to be ‘verifiable’ – i.e. the company doing the marketing must have clear records showing the provenance of the data.

GDPR, which takes full effect in May 2018, covers both B2B and B2C communications and what constitutes a marketing message has room for interpretation. It is also already on the statute books in the UK – so if you’re thinking that Brexit makes it a moot point, you’re sadly mistaken.

If you’re a PR agency or in-house team that relies on unsolicited emails to journalists to secure coverage or interviews, you could have a big problem. By big, I mean a fine for breaching GDPR of 4% of global revenue or €20 million, whichever amount is bigger.

Put it this way, if you contact a journalist for the first time via email with a press release about your new product, the content of that email could constitute ‘marketing’ rather than a ‘service’ or information email.
The journalist could demand to know where you got their contact information from and proof that they consented to receiving marketing material from you. At that point, if you can’t prove that they clearly opted-in to being contacted and provide the history behind how you collected their information, you could be in a pickle.

PR and marketing departments will also need to make all data ‘portable’. Which basically means if someone asks for a copy of all the data you hold on them, you’ll have to provide it. Also, at any point you can request for your data to be destroyed. So if the journalist is particularly prickly (what are the chances?), they could demand you destroy his data and never contact him again. If, in a year or so, a new wide-eyed account executive at your company decided to take the initiative and drop this journalist (that mysteriously doesn’t appear on any media lists) an email you could be in an even bigger pickle.

Now this may all sound doom and gloom. However, like I said, the line between PR and marketing is far from clear. Ultimately, in practice, there could be a lot more wiggle room for PR messages. For many organisations, a record of correspondence with a journalist could also constitute consent to receive further messages. Finally, liability could fall on media database companies. However, while there is ambiguity and risk, many PR companies will do well to invest in data management technology – something they should be doing anyway – to store, manage and harmonise their information on clients and journalists.

Undoubtedly, GDPR represents a bigger challenge for marketers, and will make a lot of traditional marketing methods impractical. This in turn could create more opportunities for PR firms by making it a more straight-forward, risk-free communications channel.

What do you think? Continue the #CommsChat with Robert Bownes on Twitter.

 

#CommsChat on the GDPR and its impact on the PR industry

This week's chat

This week on #CommsChat, we welcome Robert Bownes, director of communications at Profusion, to talk about the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and what it could mean for the journalism and PR industry. We’ll look at what it is, why it was implemented and how GDPR should be approached, as well as the challenges and opportunities GDPR is likely to present.

The topics are:

  • What is GDPR? How might it affect the communications profession?
  • Will banning unsolicited emails to journalists threaten the PR industry?
  • What is the best way for PRs to communicate with journalists in a post-GDPR world?
  • How else can PR professionals prepare for GDPR?
  • Does GDPR represent an opportunity for the PR industry?

Join us! We tweet from @CommsChat and #CommsChat takes place every Monday, from 8-9pm GMT. Anyone can take part in the discussion – simply follow the hashtag here or on Twitter. If you can’t make the chat or would like to revisit it, a transcript will be posted to Storify on Tuesday morning. We’d love to hear your suggestions for future topics – please get in touch with Amy at amy.sandys@communicatemagazine.co.uk or contact us on Twitter with any ideas.

 

Crisis comms, definition and best practice

This week's chat


Ella Minty, reputation management and stakeholder engagement director

This comment piece first appeared on the CIPR’s news site, Influence.

Recently, @CommsChat moderated a very interesting Twitter chat on crisis communications. The questions they asked were rather interesting and, I could argue, not quite typical for such a topic. Usually, when we speak about crisis communication we like to focus on tools, tactics and immediate results – what we seem to sometimes overlook are the strategic components of the crisis, those which go beyond soundbites and public statements.

The first question they asked was related to the definition of crisis communication, not to that of ‘crisis.’ Many answers were provided with regard to the definition of a crisis but the overarching concept of crisis communication did not strongly come through: the communication suite that requires leadership support, timely and verifiable information, public interface and fact-based views.

Without the appropriate support from the organisation’s leadership, there can be no communication of any kind – regardless how much we, the PR/communications practitioners, would argue the need to ‘go public’ if the leadership disagrees with it, there’s nothing we can do.

Equally, to be able to communicate in a crisis we need timely and verifiable information. If the most recent information available is, let’s say, two days old, that can hardly be timely! The key part in a crisis, as the events unfold, is to be able to use the latest data/details you have and present it/them in a verifiable manner to the public(s).

There needs to be someone, at any point in time, you can pick up the phone to and ask: ‘Is this true?’ The last thing we can afford to do in a crisis is assume that what we have been told/given to run with is accurate and correct – trust me, it often isn’t. Don’t let the heat and pressure of the moment cloud your professional judgement – you cannot afford to be dragged into it because you are the sound of reason for many there.

Your public interface needs not be just one individual, nor does he/she need to be the most senior person in the organisation – the best public interface you need to put forward is the most credible one, the one that can provide everyone in that room and everyone watching the news or listening in, with the assurance that he/she is in control, that he/she is fully aware of the implications and that he/she knows what it is all about.

The last thing you need in a crisis is to put forward a CEO/board member who has very little empathy, lacks a strong personality and talks in a ‘wooden language’ – if you do that, you might as well go home and lock yourself in the bedroom. It is not the leadership’s position to advise you, the comms/PR professional, who should be talking to whom, on what and in which case. That is your business and yours alone!

You are the one who must tell the leadership who you would need to have trained as the most suitable spokesperson(s) in a crisis. There will be times when a completely non-media trained technical expert would have much more credibility and media appeal than any other ‘smooth’ spokesperson – that uncertainty or, if you wish, clear lack of training, will work in that spokesperson’s favour because no one will doubt that he/she is not telling the truth or he/she has something to hide and has been trained to spin the truth.

Move away from the fallacy of one spokesperson only and from that of the CEO/chairperson being the most suitable voice for the organisation – nothing further from the truth. A full-blown crisis is not the right time to give your CEO ‘air time’ – that can prove fatal not just for him/her, but for the business too, and for you in terms of your actual competence/knowledge to understand the extremely complex landscape of communicating in a crisis. It may be obvious but, as I said above, the first thing that needs to be done is to get your facts straight and, as much as possible, build a timeline.

Our worst and most dangerous enemy is to assume: that we know what happened, why it happened and what the effect is going to be.

You need to find out, in this exact order, WHAT HAPPENED, WHERE IT HAPPENED (exactly), WHEN IT HAPPENED and WHO WAS INVOLVED/AFFECTED/INJURED/KILLED. Although extremely tempting, never jump at WHY IT HAPPENED – you, and likely not even those on the ground, know exactly the reason why. It’s about cause and effect: you can say that, for instance, a piece of equipment failed and caused the injury of the person (that’s the effect), but you cannot expand on the reason the equipment failed (the cause).

Any assumption publicly made in a crisis will only lead to your having to retract it at a later date and, as such, lose credibility and trust. When faced with a crisis or when you are a crisis-prone organisation, credibility and trust are of utmost importance. These need to be very clear and well captured in the statement you’ll be issuing – a crisis statement is not a press release, nor is it the opportunity for you to speak about your CSR and commitment to planting trees and building community centres!

You’ll have the opportunity to add those on at a later date. Right now, in the heat of it all, you need to show that you’re in control, you know exactly what’s going on and that, first of all, you are the most reliable source of information, not speculation.

What do you think? Continue the #CommsChat with Ella Minty on Twitter.

 

Transcript of #CommsChat on digital dieting

This week's chat