New year, new job… new me?

19th January 2022 by Natalie Tomlinson

New year… new you, sign up to the gym, detox, dry January, healthier eating, drink more water, go to bed early, get up earlier … welcome to January!

In what seems like the longest month of the year, coupled with dark evenings, grey skies and paying off Christmas, January brings with it a lot of pressure to make a fresh start.

But January isn’t the only time to make a change.

I’m almost four months into my new start, joining the team at Active PR in October 2021. 

I started my career as a local reporter, before moving up the ranks to chief reporter and entertainment editor, but after having my first child I decided to make the move to PR, which were much friendlier hours!

This is only the second time I’ve worked within a PR agency; I’ve always very much been the ‘lone wolf’ of the team.

I ran around the office requesting clients’ details for interview, organised the team’s head shots, wrote newsletters, controlled social media and told everyone to wear a Christmas jumper for a press picture.

Even though I was always very much part of a team, there was only me in my role, and not everyone always appreciated the power of PR.

Working within an agency, with a team of like-minded people, feels like wearing a big hug!  

We think the same, we bounce ideas off each other, there are no silly questions and we all strive for the same goal… a happy client.

So, what changes will I be making this January?

I have a new job, a new home office, and a fabulous set of new colleagues and clients, I think I’ll leave the other Januaryisms until next year!

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When is an apology not an apology? When it’s a non-apology

17th January 2022 by Mary Anderson

Blink and you’d have missed it…  Does anyone actually remember Boris Johnson apologising for the lockdown garden party?

“Mr Speaker, I want to apologise,” he said during Prime Minister’s Question Time.  Listen carefully and you can hear MPs shouting “for what?”.  And sure enough, he didn’t specify. 

This, according to The Spectator, was a non-apology; and they reckon for the Prime Minister, this is a particular skill, or at least one owned by his speech writer.

Having studied his response to being blamed for breaching the rules, the publication has come up with ways in which PR teams can avoid actually making an apology.

They say that a good apology must include six elements; expressing regret, explaining what went wrong, acknowledging responsibility, declaring repentance, offering repair and requesting forgiveness.

But for a truly insincere apology, according to the article, we can make it conditional, ie. I’m sorry if (I upset you).  This is acknowledged as the amateur non-apology. You can improve on this by being unclear what you’re apologising for, ie. sorry if (you were upset). 

This one is my favourite… The Spectator says Boris demonstrated the ‘If I have a fault, it’s that I’m too nice…’ when he said “with hindsight I should have sent everyone back inside.”  Love it!  Now we all think he’s just a nice guy!

Mistakes were made’ is one that’s been used for decades according to the article.  It enables you to distance yourself from the mistake.  ‘Mistakes were made’ (by someone else).

There is another solution, of course.  And that is just to apologise. Make it quick, but make it sincere, promise to resolve the situation and close the discussion down.

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What’s in a name?

13th August 2021 by Kate Logan

As we brainstormed website ideas at a recent team meeting, conversation turned to a whether we would consider a rebrand. And whether we should *dramatic pause* change our name…

It turns out we’re all quite attached to ‘Active’, but it certainly got us thinking – what’s in a name?

For long established companies a name becomes synonymous with reputation. Perhaps one good reason for changing it would be to wipe the slate clean – start with a fresh new direction and build a reputation from scratch.

Rebranding is a huge step – and you have to be confident the benefits of totally transforming your brand outweigh the cost of leaving your old identity behind.

But for a new company starting out – how on earth do you go about choosing a name? Or why not pluck something random out of thin air? Well it’s not quite that simple so whether you’re rebranding or starting out, here are our top tips for choosing a company name.

Make it distinctive

Obvious but tricky, given there are almost six million companies in existence in the UK alone. But a unique name is going to set you apart from the crowd, ensure you can be found more easily online and avoid any potential legal action from similarly named firms. So do your homework.

Make it memorable

And we don’t necessarily mean outlandish. There are many ways a name can be memorable. Whether it’s for pure randomness like ‘Google’ or for something so simple it would be easy to overlook. ‘Apple’, anyone?

Let your brand inform your name

Create a clear identity for your company – do you want to be seen as creative, edgy and daring? Then choose a bold name that strikes that chord. Are you a caring business that works with people? Then opt for a solid, familiar or softer sounding name.

Create an association with your sector

Again pretty obvious, but it could be invaluable to include your business sector in your name. So Peachy Smiles may be memorable, but Peachy Smiles Cosmetics is slightly more informative and, of course, more searchable. 

Ensure there’s a story

Assuming your company becomes successful, a journalist will probably ask you at some point why you chose the name. If there’s a good story you’ll instantly sound more interesting and creative. Just make sure it’s nothing too personal that could come back to haunt you!

Check for double meanings

You can’t always predict which names will pick up negative associations in the future, but you can do your due diligence now so you don’t live to regret it.

Keep it simple

Avoid names that are difficult to pronounce, spell or sound too similar to something else. A less complicated name should ensure it’s future proof too. Go too obscure and what may sound cool and contemporary now may become dated quite quickly.

So, there you have it, Active PR’s top company naming tips. We’ll let you know in another 25 years if we’re still considering a change!

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Does PR need PR?

4th June 2021

Some occupations are easier to explain than others. 

My mum was a nurse – she worked in a hospital, looking after children who were very poorly.

Friends has parents who were shop assistants, teachers, bankers and a variety of other roles that even as a child I at least had an understanding of.

After 10 years of working with Active PR some of my friends and family still aren’t sure exactly what I do.

They understand that I used to be a journalist for a newspaper group, but can’t understand how or why I’m happy that the content I produce is now published with someone else’s name attached to it. 

They perhaps wonder why I spend so much time on social media, particularly during office hours.

It was only after footage of a successful charity event I helped organise was broadcast on YouTube that some older relatives finally seemed to grasp what my job involves. I could show them pre-event local newspaper coverage, social media posts encouraging people to attend and the elements of the event that we’d booked.

It made me think – does PR need PR?

These days, there’s a clearer understanding of marketing but when it comes to paid and earned content the picture is perhaps more blurry.

Yes, some big brands do seemingly achieve mainstream media coverage on the back of a product launch but there’s likely to be a media spend involved on advertising with that title.

It’s the PR pro’s role to conjure up an angle that will capture a journalist’s attention when writing a media release so that the client’s name is printed, published or broadcast. 

When people ask why someone else has taken the credit for my work, I tell them I consider it a compliment that someone else wants to attach their name to something I’ve written.

But it’s not about me, it’s about the client and achieving exposure for their brand.

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A healthy approach to home working

15th April 2021

WORKING from home is being mooted as a means to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, with businesses around the world encouraging staff to stay at home.

Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft, are among the companies who are encouraging workers to telecommute rather than commute. Sony closed offices in London, Paris and Gdynia, Poland, while 8,000 workers at Google HQ in Dublin have been told to stay at home.

 At Active PR we’re regular home workers and take a healthy approach to balancing work and home life. Here are our top tips to making the switch to working from home.

Space

make sure you have a work space that works for you. If working from home is only a temporary measure, setting up your laptop on the kitchen table every morning and packing it away at the end of the day could be a great short-term solution. For a longer term or permanent working environment, create a dedicated work space, even if you don’t have enough room for home office. I use a corner of a room in my home, with a split level adjustable desk to help ensure my screen, keyboard, mouse and notepad are all in a comfortable position.

Time management

working from home isn’t an excuse to skive off, if anything it’s a chance to use your time more efficiently. Start the day as you would if you were going out to work: breakfast, shower, clean clothes. Maintaining your regular working hours can help you stay motivated, but remember to take regular screen, comfort and tea breaks. Plus, you can make better use of the time previously wasted stuck in traffic on the daily commute why not sleep in a bit later, enjoy a pre-work workout or prepare a home-cooked meal.

Reporting

those who don’t work from home, often say they wouldn’t be able to stay motivated. The reality is, if you don’t complete tasks it will be noticed by colleagues and clients. We regularly update the team about our plans for the working week, including when we have meetings or conference calls, and have different reporting tools to keep clients updated about work we’ve carried out on their behalf. Socialise – interacting with others is important for our general wellbeing and even if you are having to self-isolate because of the Coronavirus there are lots of ways to stay in touch with colleagues, clients, friends and family from phone or video calls to WhatsApp groups and social media platforms. One of the few things I miss about working in an office is being able to bounce ideas off, but I know I can call on colleagues when I need help to keep the creative juices flowing. And providing you don’t have to self-isolate, it’s also important that you make time to get outside and see other people.

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Harnessing the power and creativity of influencers

10th March 2021

Influencer marketing is big business. The UK’s biggest companies are using influencer power to reach customers and build their brands.

But is influencer marketing something every brand should be considering?

While it may have more obvious benefits to those in the business of selling a look or a lifestyle, there are other companies who are recognising that influencer marketing can help their brand to reach a larger audience. 

The term ‘influencer’ may mean something different depending on your company’s sector. Those in the online retail sector, particularly fashion and beauty brands, have recognised for a while the value of using celebrity ambassadors on Instagram and other social platforms to promote and endorse their products. 

Other lifestyle brands, including travel, property, leisure and hospitality can also benefit.

First consider what you wish to achieve. Is it direct clicks to your website, brand building within a particular community or even raising awareness in a specific geographical area? Once you’ve decided that you can look at which influencers can help you achieve those goals before drilling down in more detail to discover which people you would like to work with and, most importantly, associate with your brand.

We frequently work with two types of influencer – although generally they are not mutually exclusive.  We will look to work with people with influence – a voice and a prominence – in a particular local area for our clients. This can occasionally be another business owner with a collection of established customers who, provided you’re not in direct competition, they may be happy to ‘introduce’ to your brand.  

This doesn’t always need to be in the form of direct advertising, it’s often more subtle word of mouth recommendations that work best. But uncovering those influencers, introducing them to your brand, providing them with insight and individual benefits, you can quickly strike up a mutually beneficial relationship with one another.

Then there are the online / social influencers – those who have a large following online and on social media – who we can tap into. Targeting someone with a shared interest in your sector means their followers will usually have similar interests. So, if you’re a property company for example, a social influencer who posts or blogs about interior design could be a great fit.

Your own customers can even be influencers themselves. Finding those people who are already talking positively or interacting with your business on social media and working with them to reach their followers is a great way to find authentic brand ambassadors. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to influencer marketing. Be guided by what works for your brand, not what everyone else is doing. Building authentic relationships is always more beneficial for a long-term PR and marketing strategy than paying someone to promote your product just because they have a huge following. It’s quality, not always quantity, which really counts. 

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