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Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Announcing bad news – 4 big mistakes companies make

By Liz Coyle-Camp, managing director, E=MC2 Public Relations
What are the most common PR mistakes organisations make when they have to deal with bad news?

 1. They delay in announcing the bad news or try to bury it by issuing a press release late on a Friday night hoping the media have gone home for the weekend. Never delay, the longer you do, the bigger and uglier you’ll become in the news when the story does break.
2. They don’t own up to their mistakes and show genuine sympathy and compassion for those affected because they’re too worried about the legal implications of saying ‘I’m sorry’. Apologising is not necessarily an admission of guilt but an expression of empathy and concern.
When bad news breaks, showing you care can go a long way in building good brand relations with the public and your customers.
3. They blame it on the lawyers because they’ve been advised to say ‘no comment’. ‘No comment speaks volumes which is why legal eagles are not media relations experts. Their job is to keep people out of prison, not out of the press. There is no such thing as no comment so don’t go there!
4. They don’t take immediate action and address the problem or situation. People want to know that you are doing everything in your power to fix the problem or at least alleviate it on day one not day five. Keep them informed about what you are doing throughout the PR crisis.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Facebook’s epic PR fail – how not to handle a crisis

By Liz Coyle-Camp, managing director, E=MC2 Public Relations

Facebook’s sudden fall from grace in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica dirty-tricks data scandal is a lesson in how not to manage a crisis.

The social networking giant’s failure to apologise quickly when the story broke and explain to its 50+million ‘violated’ customers it had messed up is proving to be more disastrous for the company than the data breach. CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s deafening five-day silence spoke volumes. It sent a message that Facebook had willingly allowed a controversial ‘behavioural change’ firm to harvest its customer base, supporting political dirty tricks campaigns that helped win the Trump Presidency and the Brexit vote.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s long absence became a news story in itself and when he did speak up, it was too little too late. Facebook’s customers, duped by a devious app posing as a personality quiz, as well as  advertisers, investors and regulators wanted a heart-felt apology and assurances that this would never happen again. What they heard instead was legalistic corporate-speak - a total disconnect from the company that’s stated mission is “To make the world more open and connected.”

So how should Zuckerberg have handled the crisis? Very simply, he should have been out there apologising, taking ownership of the problem and bravely facing the music when the story broke.  Customers, advertisers and investors wanted to hear words of  ‘remorse’ and  reassurance.  They wanted Facebook’s leader to ‘lead’, not retreat.  

What next?

The damage has been done. Facebook can’t win back the public trust and confidence it had before the scandal broke. Customers have become sceptics. No-one trusts Facebook or Zuckerberg anymore. Overnight, users have become cautious and protective about their data and rightly so. Zuckerberg once said people who willingly hand over their personal data are "dumb f----".

So the fall-out has begun. The hashtag #deletefacebook is trending on Twitter and the number of searches on variations of the term “delete Facebook” which increased 423% in the days after the scandal broke, continue to rise. Stocks are sliding with $60 billion wiped off Facebook’s market value in the past few days as investors fear a fall-out of customers and advertisers from the social network and tougher regulation. Worrying rumours that the mega corporation listens to users' phone calls are in the social conversation. The Federal Trade Commission is now investigating Facebook’s user-data practices and both the UK and European parliaments are baying for Zuckerberg to give evidence… and so the PR nightmare goes on.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Businesses should be optimising their websites for voice search in 2018

The most important innovation you should be making to your website in 2018 is to optimise it for voice search. Last year, one in five online searches were done through voice search which uses spoken-word speech recognition rather than keyword text to search the web. This figure is expected to rise to 50% over the next two years as more people, particularly smart phone users, opt for the faster, more efficient spoken word over typing-in keyword-based text searches. AI (artificial intelligence) personal search assistants like Siri (Apple), Cortana (Microsoft), Alexa (Amazon) and Google Now are growing in use and popularity by the day, and we can expect this trend to continue in 2018. Already in the US, 20 per cent of searches made with the Google android app are voice-based.

How to make your website voice search-friendly

Adapting your search engine optimisation (SEO) for voice searches requires an understanding of search terms your customers and consumers are most likely to use in conversation, their intent and what they are ‘meaning’ to say. For example, voice searches more often follow a question and answer format such as: “OK Google, find me a great Indian restaurant?” AI technology is also focussed on understanding the intent of the user along with the context of their search, accounting for things such as their location and previous searches. This all means that if you want to attract customers, you need to concentrate your efforts on long-tail keywords and full phrases, setting up your website to respond to and answer searchers questions. That said, if you want to get it right, do your own voice searches on your products and services and see what comes up.

Monday, 1 June 2015

How to create a social media strategy for your business

Social media doesn’t work if it’s ad hoc and undirected. Hard selling and spamming won’t work on social media either.  It can however, be hugely powerful in your business marketing if it’s planned and strategic. It will also help you manage your messages in the event of a PR crisis where you need to respond to your customers quickly and effectively.

Here are E=MC2 PR’s top tips on creating a great social media strategy.

  • Identify your customers and the media channels they listen to.
    For example LinkedIn is good for B2B sales and marketing. Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are great for community. A key strategy for these three would be to find active communities that are related to your business or product and interact with them in an interesting way. The idea is to always give something to people because participation in communities is all about giving.

    Don’t forget to engage with good bloggers too who can be great influencers.

  • Target the right people with the right message: one-size fits all messaging doesn’t work. Identify your customer groups, understand them and create a profile for each. Once you know who they are and what they want, you can customise your social messaging for each.

  • Know your goals: be clear on what you want to achieve and stick to one or two measurable and realistic goals which can be achieved within a set time period (e.g. raise awareness, increase sales leads, reward customers).

  • Be clear on how you want your customers / target audience to react and respond: ask yourself ‘What exactly do I want my audience to do?’

  • Look and learn from your competitors: find out what they are doing and learn from their successes and their mistakes.
  • Create a content plan that will engage your audience. This should really be a mix of interesting comment, conversation, video, advice, infographics and blogs that attract attention and interest. Most importantly, keep your content fresh!

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Freddie Starr ate my hamster: how to write a perfect press release

By Felicity Fox, E=MC2 Public Relations

If your press releases aren’t cutting the mustard, here are some tips to help you improve:

Is it news?

Before you even start writing your story, ask yourself is it newsworthy and will people find it interesting?

Use short, attention-grabbing headlines that tell a story

You have about seven seconds to hook your editor so cut to the chase. A good press release should summarise the key points of your subject in the headline and the opening sentence. Keep it concise and cover ‘who?’, ‘what?’, ‘where?’, ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ Keep in mind that editors will cut the story from the bottom up.

Write in the present

You don’t want your story to sound like old news. That includes quoting people in the present so write ‘says Jane Smith’ rather than ‘said’.

Use good ‘search’ words

Press releases can provide significant content to news search engines and can rank well in standard search engines like Google or Yahoo. The importance of using words that people will search the internet for can never be underestimated. With online and the internet becoming more vast and powerful than traditional media, it’s vital that your stories can be found easily.

A great image is worth a 1,000 words

This can be a compelling photograph, computer generated image or an artist’s impression which visually tells your story. As the image is often the first thing that people see, it’s vital that it promotes a good initial impression that complements the information that is given in the text.

Double check your facts and stick to them!

Check your facts, dates, figures and your sources and references. Check your spelling and grammar too and get another professional in your team to proof it for you. The slightest mistake undermines your professionalism, your client’s credibility and the media’s confidence in your story.

Don’t forget your contact details

Make sure you provide your name, phone number and email details at the bottom of the release so journalists can get in touch with you.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

10 reasons why most press releases get binned…

By Liz Coyle-Camp, managing director, E=MC2 Public Relations

As both a PR agency and a publisher, we receive external press releases, many of which go straight into the bin because they don’t pass muster and this is why:

  1. Irrelevance.  One size fits all press releases go in the one-size fits all bin.  Shape your story for the publication you are sending it to – print, online or broadcast. What interests you may not interest your target audience so make sure your story is ‘customer-focused’ which means making it relevant to readers, interesting and helpful.
  2. Spelling and grammatical mistakes.   The fastest way to lose credibility is to send out your press release without spell-checking it for spelling, punctuation and grammatical mistakes and making sure it also makes sense!  Silly things like ‘to’ and ‘too’, ‘it’s’ and ‘its’ used incorrectly are an instant turn-off.
  3. Verbosity. Cut to the chase – you have just a few seconds to grab the editor’s attention. If your story isn’t in plain English in the headline and the first paragraph of your press release, it’s in the bin! Lay-off the acronyms, corporate speak and product jargon too – they will just irritate and alienate your journalist.
  4. Pomposity.  References to I, we, us, or ours don’t belong in a press release unless they are quoted speech. So, if they’re not inside quotation marks, rewrite your sentence. Report the story and don’t taint it with your own subjective spin. Keep your opinions and comments in the quotes – that’s what they are there for.
  5. Puff and fluff.  There is no place for self-serving sales and marketing puff and fluff in a press release. If you want this, buy an advertisement.
  6. Factually incorrect.  Check that your facts are correct and quote your sources. Check your dates too – if you are inviting press to a photocall, make sure the date, time and location of the event is consistent and correct.
  7. No media contact. Make sure you provide your correct phone and email details so the media can reach you.
  8. No boilerplate or website address. This is a short description or an ‘about us’ paragraph about your organisation with your website address so the media know you are for real and can look you up.
  9. Format.  Stick to a press-friendly simple presentation format: 1.5 spacing, Arial or Helvetica sans serif typeface, 11 or 12 point size. Bold your headline, don’t indent and keep your text black.
  10. No images or poor ones. Support your story with a high quality, engaging photo, graphic or artist’s impression which visually tells your story.
If you can avoid these top 10 press release-writing mistakes and follow up your story with a phone call to the journalist (to make sure they have everything they need from you) your story has a very good chance of being used.

Have questions for Liz? Contact her at: E=MC2 Public Relations 01747 871752

Friday, 21 February 2014

The art of hyphenation

by Liz Coyle-Camp

To hyphenate or not to hyphenate? This is the question so many nervous writers deliberate. How can such a little dash cause such a dither and so much angst when all it wants to do is bring a little clarity to your communique?

And where would we be without the humble hyphen? We’d never tell difference between a man-eating snake and a man eating snake with possible fatal consequences!

You can beat the hyphenation blues by remembering this:

Hyphens connect words, prefixes, and suffixes and bring clarity to the meaning of a word.

And following these simple rules….

Hyphenate when:
  • Using a two-word adjective: her decision-making skills, work-related stress 
  • Creating a compound noun: added-value, get-together, an add-on 
  • In prefixes: where a hyphen avoids awkward wording such as anti-inflammatory, re-enter, re-adjust, or a word has different meanings like re-formation and reformation, re-sign and resign 
  • Explaining a word spelling: H-Y-P-H-E-N

When to make a ‘dash’ for it

The hyphen has two similar-looking cousins - the en dash and the em dash. This is what they do…

Em dash (—)
  • Use instead of brackets to indicate a separate thought or additional information: She worked out in the gym — at least that’s what she told me — every day 
En dash (-)
  • Use to indicate values or ranges: 10-15 staff, 2004-2007, May-June 
  • To contrast values or illustrate the relationship between two things 

Happy hyphenating!