Challenge accepted, Richard!
After PR Place’s challenge on ROI of blogging, I started thinking of all the reasons why I launched my website. And there are some that might help future students to gather the courage they need to start their own blog.
Blogging has definitely helped me to get my name out there. I have made so many valuable connections thanks to my blog. And being recognised while still a newbie in the PR industry feels like a good pat on the shoulder.
My newest blog series #10QuestionsWith allows me to talk to well-established practitioners and authors in the PR industry, and that might not have been possible without my website. I gained a lot of valuable and different lessons from those interviews as everyone has a unique experience.
This may sound weird but blogging actually helps me to manage my time more effectively. Being a final year student and working part-time is difficult and overwhelming sometimes, but scheduling another blog post feels rewarding. I know that I’ve ticked something off my to-do list and suddenly planning becomes easier. And working on my blog doesn’t feel as stressful as my assignments, so that’s a bonus.
Blogging gives you a key selling point during interviews. It is an evidence that you can adopt a different style of writing (not an academic one!), you are up-to-date with hot topics in the industry and you are persistent enough to do something in the long term.
I started my blog while being on placement and it already helped me secure a part-time job. It’s just that one thing that can make you stand out from other candidates.
Being part of something bigger
As Lucy mentioned in her latest post – you become a part of a community. Thanks to Richard, all PR students can join the #PRstudent #bestPRblogs on Twitter and connect to fellow bloggers. That’s how I came across Orlagh, Jessica and Marcel, who have slightly influenced me to start my own blog. Jessica was very supportive when I launched my website and gave me great tips.
This is possibly the best advantage of blogging – meeting amazing people and learning from them.
Below is my entry for this year's PRCA Reginald Watts Prize for Insight. Unfortunately, I wasn't shortlisted, but I would like to share my essay with you.
Already looking forward to next year's topic!
The public relations (PR) and communications industry is constantly evolving, as is the media landscape, today with a bigger focus on digital platforms and social media as communications strategies.
The role of PR as management discipline has been firmly established within the industry for over a century, especially by the CIPR and PRCA’s definitions based on the Bernays’ “management function, which tabulates public attitudes, defines the policies, procedures, and interests of an organisation…” . However, earning the public understanding and acceptance has become more difficult.
Millennials and Generation Z have grown up with digital technology and social media, making their use of it more natural and them more comfortable with the application of emerging technologies. As advancements are made in the artificial intelligence (AI), PR needs to adapt. Technology is already impacting the PR work in many ways and in the near future, some actions such as monitoring for coverage, writing press releases or social media content might become fully automated. For example, Brandwatch finds patterns in social media posts and quickly determines the sentiment, whereas Google Analytics helps us measure the outcomes. And young professionals are more likely to be early adopters of the new digital services, so the PR industry will be disrupted exponentially.
PR is no longer just “sending articles or press releases to newspapers to win favour for a client” . Relationships are still at the core, but the industry has changed from straightforward communication to multi-way conversation. Social media allows organisations to communicate directly to their target audience, a shift in communications that has added another part to the practice. It gives a bigger opportunity for owned media, content that companies are in control of, rather than leaving the task of sharing key messages in the hands of journalists.
Hence, today’s professionals must think more broadly. Firstly, they must have multi-disciplinary skillset as they are now digital communications experts. The PRCA Digital Report 2017 states that 56% of in-house respondents expect their PR agencies to deliver social influencer outreach and 51% expect online reputation management as part of the offered services . Professionals have to be able to mix traditional PR with social media and even advertising. Secondly, more strategic thinking should be required on how these elements solve specific business issues – not just the communications ones. Practitioners must have a greater understanding of business, leadership and digital platforms. The delicate combination of PR with these interactive web tools and social media is the way a company gets its brand messages out in the world now. As a matter of fact, the report reveals that 73% of in-house respondents use social media to increase brand awareness .
In the past, journalists have controlled the story and brand image perceived by the public. PR practitioners have had to build relationships with them to provide content and shape the narrative. While that hasn’t changed much, companies have much more power now over sharing their messages due to blogs and social media. And thanks to those platforms, digital storytelling is more influential than ever, and the PR industry should use that to its advantage. The art of storytelling involves using messages that inspire conversation and engagement among the target audience. It’s one of the most effective ways to communicate and ultimately stimulate the audience’s attitudes and direct them towards your key messages.
Social media has also allowed PR practitioners access to reporters and influencers. There are now more platforms to get your message in front of a targeted writer, beyond the standard email pitch. You can now follow journalists, use relevant hashtags or just send a direct message on Twitter. Essentially, this means that the traditional earned media is no longer the primary way to reach the audience. One tweet can get the brand’s story in front of thousands of customers. As a result, many publications have shifted to a digital-only format. More and more people seek out their daily news from their mobile phones or tablets. Therefore, there is the emergence of whole new sectors of online outlets and blogs. Some bloggers and online influencers have more followers on social media than some top tier publications. The influencers’ importance in the PR and Marketing industry continues to grow, and practitioners cannot avoid that forever. They should take this opportunity and develop relationships with a whole new world of online influencers to help share the right story with the right audience. Because sometimes a single post with a company’s name is way more effective than a feature article on a newspaper .
The rise of digital has introduced brand new outlets, channels and potential strategies for PR professionals to pursue. PR is not about blasting noise and information but creating engaging stories and giving them life through new digital tools. It is about finding innovative ways to connect the client with its target audience. And that’s the magic of digital communications: the combination of great storytelling and multiple channels executed together. PR practitioners need to think much more broadly about communications.
In an age of revolution in digital communications, Public Relations is (should be) a strategic management discipline that builds a positive reputation and public image via engaging storytelling on multiple traditional and digital channels. It establishes a beneficial relationship between an organisation, its publics, the media and online influencers.
 Breakenridge, D. (2009). PR 2.0. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: FT Press.
 PRCA Digital Report 2017
 Kahn, E. (2018). How to work with influencers in 2018. [online] Prweek.com. Available at: https://www.prweek.com/article/1453015/work-influencers-2018
The media industry is evolving and it’s not a surprise that inbound PR has been a hot topic for the past year. Therefore, I decided to attend the Prowly Academy webinar with Iliyana Stareva and learn more about it.
The time of PR being only a “strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organisations and their publics” has passed. The misconception that PR equals media relations still exists, but it needs to change. PR involves so much more now: from crisis management through internal communications to digital communications. More and more campaigns are based on the PESO (Paid, Earned, Shared, Owned) model and practitioners take advantage of the new technologies and social media platforms.
What is Inbound PR and why it might be the future?
Traditional PR is outbound. As Iliyana mentioned in the webinar, it interrupts, and it doesn’t attract. Journalists receive thousands of emails everyday and the chance of opening the one with your press release is minimal. Therefore, companies need something that points the journalists in their direction.
Inbound PR combines the PR’s biggest strength (writing content) and biggest challenge (measuring the results). With inbound, agencies target the journalists indirectly – via blog posts, thought leadership pieces, videos, etc. It’s a content that has been created for a particular audience in mind and it’s pushed on the right channels.
How to do Inbound PR?
As every campaign, you need to set your overarching goal. What are you trying to achieve and how much are you willing to invest in PR? Once you have mapped out your goals, nail your stakeholder personas. Do your research! At the centre of inbound is the target audience. Follow the journalists on social media and find out their interests, how they prefer to be reached and how they engage with brands/agencies. Knowing them inside and out will help you to plan the content they might use and then you can promote it on the relevant channels – website, social media accounts, etc.
In the end, compare the results to the original objectives. Use the data from Google Analytics and social media analytics. Focus on the outcomes, not outputs. Iliyana suggested using the AMEC integrated evaluation framework as a starting point and always have the stakeholders in mind.
With inbound PR you don’t push content to journalists, you pull the journalists in.
 PRSA definition
Close your eyes and think of how creative you are. Give yourself a number from one to ten as one meaning you don’t know what creativity is.
Now that you have evaluated yourself, I can assure you that the number doesn’t matter. The importance is not how much creativity you have, but in a what way you are creative.
Last evening, I attended the PRCA event with Mark Simmonds, founder of Creative Creatures, to learn more about the creative archetypes and the fundamental behaviours critical to the creative process.
As the talk was about creativity, Mark decided to lead an interactive session instead of a boring presentation, and I’m glad he did. Divided into teams, we were given a challenge to help Marks & Spenser make a profit of all waistcoats they have ordered in advance of the World Cup semi-finals. I guess the football fever hasn’t passed yet.
We started by brainstorming ideas on sticky notes and we were presented with the first archetype – The Stimulator. This phase of the creative process is all about fresh thinking and exploring diverse ideas. And seniority doesn’t link to creativity. So, if you have a meeting at work (or at University) invite people with different experiences as they will generate a multitude of initial thoughts. Who knows? You might actually find the Big Idea!
Once we had a dozen of sticky notes with ideas, we had to find interesting connections between them and unearth the big, valuable ideas, which leads to the next type in the process – The Spotter. Being this person in a team is very valuable. You might not have hundreds of initial ideas, but once you go through several “sticky notes” you can spot the potential in one of them.
The third archetype is The Sculptor – the person who can bring the big idea to life by creating tangible solutions and presenting them clearly to the team. Some people have the great skill of turning one thought into a great masterpiece. And in a team, you don’t necessarily have to be the person, who came up with the idea in the first place as long as you can make it happen.
After all teams had written down their big ideas on a piece of paper, we had to go around and vote for the best idea (and no, we couldn’t vote for ourselves unfortunately!). We were in The Selector mode. We had to choose the idea with the most potential considering the commercial impact and the brief. Usually, in an agency or a company, this person would be someone who can make hard decisions and have a view of the big picture.
And finally, the fifth archetype is The Supporter – trying to support the team and facilitate the meeting during the creative process. And this doesn’t mean making tea for the colleagues but keeping the team on track and encouraging them to be as bold and creative as they can be. Because as Edward de Bono said: “Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in different way.”
According to Mark, people can be a mix of few archetypes and a given situation affects which one dominates. It’s essential to remember that we are all creative and we have a different role in our teams. So which archetype are you?
Today marks one year since I started my placement as a PR & Marketing Intern at Red Setter – B2B agency working across the design and creative industry.
In the beginning, I managed the business database and worked alongside the Editorial Director on the marketing and SEO plan of Red Setter. I was glad that my recommendations were well received and appreciated, and since then I have made an impact on the agency. With time, I started managing the agency’s social media accounts and website. I increased the Twitter followers by 26% and LinkedIn followers by 110% so far. (yay!) I achieved this by following relevant people in the industry, writing blog posts and promoting those on social media. In September I was interviewed by a journalist from Response Source about my experience at Red Setter – it was a great way to look back at the past few months and reflect on my internship.
One of my biggest projects so far has been the research and analysis of social media channels. These included the platforms Design Week and Campaign Top 100 agencies as well as interviews with 50 leaders in the industry via a survey (which got us a new client!). The findings were used in our “Guide to Agency Growth through Social Media”. I also presented them to second-year digital communications students as a guest speaker at Bournemouth University.
In January, I was promoted to PR Account Executive and I started working alongside the PR Account Directors on our clients. I am tracking coverage, creating media lists and quarterly reports, building forward features calendars, finding relevant newsjacking/media opportunities and drafting press releases. As we work with clients from all over the world, I gained valuable knowledge about the American, Australian, Italian and Asian media. I’ve been talking to events’ organisers to find speaker opportunities for our clients in the UK and the USA. I have also pitched press releases to the design and marketing media and have secured coverage in The Drum, Creative Boom, Transform, Marketing Communications News and several packaging publications. The overall readership of the coverage was more than five million. I often go to conferences and industry events, representing the agency and then write posts for our website.
Writing blog posts for the agency’s website encouraged me to create my own blog and capture my experience during the internship. Few of my posts have been featured on PR Place and the PRCA website and it was very exciting to be recognised by such respected organisations.
1. Three words to describe your placement search: Preparation for graduate-research (almost three words!)
2. What did you find the most helpful in your placement search: Talking to final-year students, who have already been through this.
3. Three words to describe your placement: Such A Blast!
4. Most interesting part of your placement: Aside from writing press releases and pitching stories to journalists, I really enjoyed going to industry events and meeting not only fellow PR people, but artists, designers and illustrators.
5. Most enjoyable aspect of your placement: Representing the agency at industry events and then writing blog posts about them. I went to Brighton SEO, TEDxBrighton, several Glug and PRCA events.
6. What gave you the most satisfaction during placement year: Securing coverage for our clients in top-tier titles. Seeing that all those hours spent researching publications and drafting press releases paid off – an amazing feeling!
7. Two tips for future placement students: Don’t be afraid to contact agencies, which are not advertising placements (I secured my internship through LinkedIn) and don’t sell yourself short – you probably have more experience than you think.
8. How has your placement helped focus your future plans: I LOVE working with a variety of clients, so I will probably stay in the agency side of PR for now.
I cannot wait to see what will happen in the next three months before I go back to University.
“Having Yana on our team has been brilliant. She has constantly demonstrated enthusiasm to explore new ideas and a desire to learn. PR is ever evolving and having an intern who has embraced all the facets of PR from social media, to pitching, to research and to writing has been great. I think as an agency we’ve learnt a lot from Yana and I hope she’s seen the learnings and value of hands on experience too.”
- Vicky Stoakes, Client Services Director
Hi there! Welcome to my blog about PR and things that I find fascinating.