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Press releases done right – Part 1

The press release is perhaps the most valuable tool in the industry, having been around for over 100 years. Public relations professionals have been using this tool to provide accurate, first-hand information to the media and public – the method of distribution is probably the only thing that has changed over the years.

 

The definition of a press release is quite broad. But to sum it all up in plain English – a press release is an official statement prepared by an organization which is sent to the media with the to convince them to publish a story based on information on the release.

 

This basic tool has withstood the test of time simply because it allows PR professionals to check a whole lot of boxes using one piece of content:

°Tell the story the way they want to

°Distribute these stories quickly and economically

°Present facts

°Secure media coverage

°And reach a wider audience

Let’s see how it all works.

 

A job well done typically means a press release goes through three stages:

 

  1. Write : The first and possibly the most important stage of a press release because this represents how your news is sent out to the media and eventually to the public.
    °Find the perfect angle that will resonate with people.
    °Make sure your press release is easy to read – do not ambush your readers with tons of technicalities. Try to find a press release template that works for you.
    °Write an attention-grabbing headline with 2 to 5 strong body paragraphs and supporting details.
    °Don’t forget to include contact information.
  2. Distribute : Once a press release is written, the next step is to distribute it. This can be done in different ways.
    °Pitching targeted media : Distribute the press release to targeted journalists along with personalised pitches to encourage them to read and publish your story. This task can be made easier using a media database.
    °Social media and owned media : You can post your press release on your own social media channels and send them out for internal distribution to members within your organisation’s database.
    °Newswire Services : These services distribute press releases to a large and broad spectrum of journalists. Similar to a social media newsfeed, a wire service is a platform where press releases can be posted and found by any journalist looking for a scoop that day.
  3. Post : After the press release is distributed, it is given a permanent place online to allow access to anyone looking for more information in the future. Many organisations have a “Media” or “News” section, where all of these press releases live forever. Companies that don’t have the resources to post to their own website can also post their releases to an external newsroom.

 

Now that we have a good idea about the life of a press release, let’s take a look at the types of press releases on our next blog.

 

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Social media for your business

Mass emails tend to be ignored. It simply lacks the “cool” factor in this social media driven age. But does that mean you should turn to social networking to get your business out there for everybody to see?

 

The answer is no and YES. Facebook is not the best place to share business related content most of the time, Twitter could be a powerful tool if you play your cards right, but LinkedIn is a potential treasure trove for business. This platform exists to connect people and businesses and a well laid-out strategy will generate some high-quality leads, simply because of the professional nature of the platform.

 

LinkedIn as a tool to boost brand image

 

You can use LinkedIn to highlight your thought leadership, keep your followers up-to-speed about the good work you’ve been doing, talk about your company culture and what your employees have been upto and if you have a blog you can feed them directly to your feed. Relevant content should translate to footfall on your website or blog.

 

Your story could be about trends, stats, people, success. LinkedIn’s native video sharing is an effective way to communicate – if you follow a few ground rules on what intrigues people to click and watch a video. A mix of interesting talking points, invigorating visuals and bold, assertive text should do the trick.

 

Some tips to make LinkedIn more productive

 

Share some behind-the-scenes on how you came up with a concept or a product. People are always fascinated by how things are done within an organization. If you have a well-known designer or industry leader, that’s your golden ticket.

 

Talk about your employees and the values they bring to your company. Show-off the hard-work your team puts in during events. You can also showcase new-hires and the hurdles they’ve been through to be a part of your organization. LinkedIn is a great platform to attract the best talent to work in your company.

 

Tease a new product. Product teasers are fascinating, the aura of mystery behind them intrigues people to want to know more about your product and your business.

Native videos on LinkedIn are quite easy to post. But most videos on social media are viewed with the sound turned off. Placing bold, assertive text close to the subject or highlight of the frame is a way to tell your story event with the sound turned off.

 

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Email is king – but what accounts for its reign?

Despite the rise of social media platforms and their multitude of messaging applications, email remains the go-to communications tool for exchanging messages in the business world. This simple, efficient, inexpensive way of sending and receiving text and visuals was credited as the single-most important way to communicate with clients and customers, according to a new study. All the apps of today fail to compare. Yet much remains unknown about how and why email is used and how effective it still is.

 

Somewhat off-message

 

While communication teams crave knowledge about how useful email and other communications channels are, there is a lack of agreement and ideas on what, exactly, we need to know about the sending and receiving of messages. Deciding what metrics should be used and how to even start measuring communications brings up big challenges. Internal measurement of communications in companies remains mysterious. Finding clarity will be of incalculable worth to digital marketers, since persuasive messages need to be received in optimal right way at the right time if they are to be most effective.

 

Don’t forget to write

 

While ROI and SEO rank highly in the minds of businesspeople and the PR firms that help promote them, the lack of attention paid to how information is exchanged in the information age is of growing concern. Marketers who are able to paint a picture of and take advantage of precisely what effective communication is stand to greatly boost potential in years to come. As IT continues speeding up communication and giving us more options on how to communicate, the metrics of effective messaging will be of increasingly great interest to anyone with something to say.

 

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At home on the road, now more than ever

It’s never been easier to take a trip and still feel the comforts of home. According to a recent study, the market for accommodation worldwide is worth over $630 billion, and is estimated to take a flying leap to nearly $900 before 2026. Supporting conditions for the growth are surges among several demographics among leisure and business travellers, as well as the development of varied online platforms for booking places to stay. The online option in particular is a game changer for the industry, and has transformed many individual residences into hotel rooms, dramatically multiplying the number of places available to travellers.

 

Opening up

 

Easing up on formerly tedious visa requirements in countries throughout Africa as well China and India is also significantly contributing to the global trend for more widespread travel accommodation bookings in hotels, B&Bs, paying guest accommodation and other places to stay. Accommodation seekers on the road are most interested in mid-range options for their mix of services and reasonable prices.

 

On the move, all the time

 

The growth of tourism and travel overall, particularly the ease of booking tickets online for travel by air, rail and by road, goes hand in hand with the trend. The over-tourism phenomenon, though, shows that some prudence and guidelines may be needed for sustainable long-term growth in the accommodation sector. Both travellers and locals should not be overwhelmed. Otherwise more major cities and venues will have to corrective measures taken by the city of Amsterdam, which recently asked tourists to consider going elsewhere, and has implemented steps designed to gently slow the flow of people coming to enjoy the popular Dutch city.

 

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The problem with PR crises today

Fake news can be just as damaging as legitimately bad news. Crises are crises – even when they don’t really seem like they should be. A new consumer behaviour study states that over half of its respondents reported that they visit social media sites at least six times a day. And while social media are ideal platforms for digital marketers to cheaply and efficiently spread key messages about clients, they are also awash with fake news that can have a negatively impact.

 

Online, all the time

 

The 2019 Crisis Impact Report: How Consumers React to a Brand Crisis, which summarises the main messages of 2,000 buyers of all kinds of products, details how misinformation remains at scourge in the information age. The proliferation of social media has led to countess reports, blogs and posts on an endless variety of topics. Unfortunately, this means that untrue information about brands can spread with little notice. Professional crisis teams need to be ready to deftly counteract with facts and stories. Keep in mind that no two crises are identical; sometimes you simply have to go with your gut.

 

Do something; do the right thing

 

Consumers expect that their favourite companies will be first to learn of a problem and first to do something about it. Delay is associated with complicity, embarrassment, uncertainty or other unfortunate outcomes. A tactical delay can seem reasonable, yet often leads to deeper problems and smaller profits. Prudence is called for, but so is direct action and a consistent message spread far and wide, so as to limit any negative fallout from unwanted news. That being said, happily though, there’s enough information out there these days that things tend to be forgotten: the report emphasises how stories with negative news decrease by 70 per cent within four months after the bad news breaks. Happily enough, part of a successful strategy for rehabilitation a reputation is thus simply waiting out the clock without acerbating the situation.

 

Key moments for core messages

 

The thing about crises is that they are also windows of opportunity. Reinvention and refocusing on core principles is always a good idea, even in the good times, lest companies become overly complacent when rivals are hungrier.

 

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The Russians are buying online

While Russia’s economic growth only sputtered along in the first half of this year, registering less than 1%, e-commerce in the country shows no signs of stopping. During the same six-month period, online shopping surged by a rate of 26 per cent. Despite sanctions from many Western nations and reluctance by some demographics to give up traditional shopping patterns, market analysts see the growth in e-business as a sign of good things to come.

 

Just in time for winter

 

The stunning growth accounts for over $US11 billion in sales of products and services spent on credit via smartphones and laptops. The longer distances to and simpler selections in brick-and-mortar stores, not to mention epically harsh weather conditions during the long Russian winter, goes far in showing why business trackers and digital marketers are confident that the trend will continue to grow in popularity. News of the convenience is spreading rapidly in small towns and villages across the world’s largest country. The changes to lifestyles are nothing less than revolutionary.

 

Just the beginning

 

The percentage of online sales in Russia is 6 per cent now, indicating just how much room for expansion and opportunity there is for companies who can tap into the market of netizens with rubbles to spend on wonders of all kinds from the wider world. Chinese manufacturers in particular are in prime position to cash in on the trend, for various factors related to long-term convenience, primarily logistics and price. And to think, just a generation ago a significant amount of trading across Russia took place in frenzied, five-minute stops along the Trans-Siberian railroad, with products being hastily lowered from the train to buyers and money handed up to sellers. All across mother Russia, the future is very much now.

 

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The art and craft of email -Part II

As the first half of this two-part blog described, the vast majority of emails go unread. The importance of making your email relevant and readable is thus not to be underestimated. One key tip is – as this should be well understood by now in the era of texting – is to keep to the point. Subjects should ideally be between six and 10 words long. In addition to reduced attention spans, and an IT incursion into all facets of life, most emails are now read on smartphones. The reader of your email may very well be in transit somewhere, navigating the physical world around them, so won’t have a lot of time to commit to reading your message – but also may very well have curiosity as to why you’re contacting them. So email well and be respectful of their mobility and the other worldly pressures.

 

Make your key message key again

 

Necessitating the recipient of your email to scan through several sentences before getting to the main point of your message is unadvisable. Don’t bury your key message. The first sentence your reader sees should almost always express your most important points. That being said, some cultural norms seep into email culture. For example, emails in Latin America often start with a bit of small talk rather before the main idea is expressed. But for the most part, it pays to be precise.

 

To be clear

 

Keep your main ideas clear and keep your words to the point. Brevity matters. In fact, in the era of texting, the subjects of emails can serve as the entire idea, and simply be followed by a message body that’s blank. Just sign off your short subject with “EOM” (End of message) or “NNTR” (No need to reply).

 

Keep positive

 

Another advantage of clear, short sentences and messages is that they prevent misinterpretation. A significant issue these days is that many emails are interpreted more negatively then the sender had in mind, and ambiguous words are taken to reflect ideas or a darker tone that the sender hadn’t intended to convey.

 

So what about emojis?

 

It depends. It helps if you know the receiver. While a smile in real life can work wonders, studies show that smileys are not their e-equivalents, but less effective conveyers of feelings. Worse emojis, may come off as overly informal or even unprofessional. More broadly, email ethics vary across cultures. Moreover, a lot of communication is sent through body language. So when you’re relying on messages sent mostly in just a few words, and mostly on smartphones, keep in mind that clarity is king.

 

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The art and craft of email –Part I

An average of 280 billion emails are sent every day. That’s quite a lot. And, on balance, quite wasteful: nearly 80 per cent of them are never opened or dispatched to the junk box on sight with the help of algorithms. While social media and other communications innovations continue to change the nature of sharing ideas, email remains a key tool of modern business. Marketers who want their emails to be read need to be aware of how to maximize chances that their messages are getting across and have the potential to be acted on.

 

Lying in wait

 

There’s a lot of email entering your inbox that is not overtly a waste of time, and still needs to be sorted through. In fact, of course, it’s often rather relevant to business. One recent estimate is that the typical office employee is bequeathed a nice, round sum of 100 emails every day, and that they have approximately 200 unread emails lurking at any given time in their inbox. That’s a lot of email. So how to get noticed and be seen as merely one more contributor to one more addition to someone’s inbox intake?

 

10am on Tuesday

 

That’s the optimal time for sending an email and having it read and acted upon, according to an extensive analysis of this modern-day, yet somewhat dated communication tool. By midmorning on the second day of the workweek, the last weekend has started to fade from memory and the approaching weekend seems a bit too far off to fully envision. This enhances productivity, the peak of which is 10am on Tuesday, a study shows.

 

Make it personal

 

A short but heartfelt ‘Good seeing you yesterday’ or ‘Thanks for the coffee’ to start things off gives your email a boost of about 17 per cent that it will be read. In an increasingly impersonal world, genuine signs of humanity are welcomed and encouraged. Emails with a polite but meaningful yet non-robotic reference to a shared occasion or common acquaintance will help keep your message from being ignored.

 

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Female and Muslim, travelling and spending

Muslim women – around 63 million, to be precise – spent more than $80 billion while travelling in 2018, according to a study recently released by MasterCard and CrescentRating. The news on this demographic should be a brightly shining indicator to digital marketers of a key sector that many big players in the hospitality industry have largely overlooked so far.

 

Ready for more

 

Seventy per cent of Muslim women travelled with their families. Nearly three out of 10 of the trips taken by Muslim women were solo voyages, reflecting a particularly rapidly growing part of this growing demographic. Two out of every three respondents were under 40 years of age. The primary concern for them is leisure, which 9 of 10 respondents listed as a significant motivation for travel. A sense of exploration, getting re-energised and a focus on family were also key parts of the findings. Over 20 per cent of respondents named religious reasons as a key factor for travel while 11 per cent ranked business as another important reason for travelling.

 

Looking for deals, digitally

 

More than fifty per cent of the women covered in the survey use the Internet and social media sites platforms in particular to find places to stay and eat and ways of getting around. Religious factors that factored into the preferences of the traveler surveyed included access to prayer rooms reserved exclusively for women, as well as single-sex beauty parlors and spas. Halal dining options as well as security are also of a significant concern to female Muslim travellers, who are characterised overall in the report as being willing to pay for the services and preferences they desire, and find them online.

 

Thailand in prime position to profit

 

The report ranks Thailand second for women travellers adhering to Islam among nations that are not members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. The segment remains little understood, which stakeholders looking to capitalise on this emerging demographic would to well to pay closer attention to.

 

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Is your business AI-ready?

A complete AI takeover might seem far away, but it is growing rapidly to play a mainstream role in the future of business. Major global corporations have already adopted AI to strengthen their social media and consumer research. Even Thai companies have added AI to their communication process, using chatbots to keep customers engaged.

 

AI has the ability to observe, interpret and evaluate enormous amounts of data. In this process, it can uncover trends and patterns revealing extensive insights into consumers that can easily overwhelm the human mind. It takes seconds to do what a human mind can take days to comprehend.

 

The last revolution that reshaped the PR industry was the emergence of social media. It’s hard to envisage what AI can do for this industry, nevertheless another revolution is on the cards with a potential for us to do much more in a fraction of the time. Businesses need to be prepared to embrace the future when it knocks on our doors.

 

Learn AI and determine whether it will help your business

 

AI has been around since the 20th century, but there’s still a misguided fear among people that it will take all our jobs and change the world as we know it. This can be traced back to the lack of understanding about AI. Knowing what it can and cannot do will give you a clearer picture. In the case of PR, AI is incapable of completing tasks which require a human input like creating long-form content and making a connection with people. However, it can play a crucial supporting role to agencies by providing consumer insights and monitoring campaign progress. It is important to take time to research AI to harness its power to help your business.

 

Now that you know what AI is about, find out the value it adds to your business. The most important aspect from your business’s point of view is ROI. Test the waters with a pilot project adopting an AI tool that you believe could help your business. Experimentation is essential in this era of new technologies.

 

Making sure your team is AI-aware

 

AI can be complicated sometimes but it symbolizes the zenith of technological advancement, unlocking endless potential for businesses. A new era is just around the corner with AI leading the way and to thrive in this era teams must be prepared to welcome the change mentally and in practice. Training workshops, brainstorming sessions to gauge how AI could add value to the business and hiring tech-savvy employees are some of the things that could help your business make a move towards the future.

 

As the world is one-step closer to validating AI on a much larger scale, it is crucial for businesses of all industries including public relations, to be prepared to enjoy the fruits of a potentially life-changing technological advancement.

 

The Human & Digital Communications Agency

Our award-winning communications team blends human interactions & digital engagement seamlessly to produce results for brands.

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