Digital pebbles

Clarke Mulder Purdie on PR, media and other random topics

Archive for the ‘B2B’ Category

How can we communicate through the recession?

Posted by Nick on March 2, 2009

At a time when the news agenda is firmly gripped by job losses, bankruptcy and budget deficits how should the modern corporation communications team respond? There is certainly a widespread feeling within the industry that at a time like this corporate communications teams should batten down the hatches and avert risk. No one wants to be responsible for the interview during which the CEO struggled with questions about job losses. This culture often contrasts heavily with pressure from internal business stakeholders who look to the PR team for support at a time when marketing budgets are being reduced. The corporate communications function (especially in the B2B world) is now often the primary channel for a company messages > see this interesting study which found that pressure from inside corporations during the downturn is significant – 64% of in-house respondents said they’ve felt an increase in pressure to perform from their internal clients.

So we’ve established it’s a tricky period with potential for bad news breaking and contrasting internal pressures. But what can be done?
Industry veteran Lord Chadlington makes a salient point in an article on this subject: ‘Silence will result – almost inevitably – in the assumption there is something to hide’ . This is something that every major corporation will recognise. If you close down relationships with journalists that are close followers of the organisation and that expect regular pro-active contact it can tempt them to be more investigative – after all some journalists have strict briefs to watch just a handful of companies. If the story doesn’t originate from the communications function it has the potential to originate from business stakeholders such as non-media trained employees, customers and partners. Perhaps best not to raise suspicion in the first place by opting for silence.

From the same article Simon Lewis, Director Corporate Affairs at Vodafone makes another good point “communicating when times are good is always easier. But there will now be a greater emphasis on providing a perspective”. I took this to reflect the need for a company to be bold, to have a position on the issues surrounding it in order to offer stability to its stakeholder audiences. At a time like this championing a cause or issue can provide a platform to align the brand in a positive light. CSR issues and approaching some of the worlds big challenges can provide a point of communications differentiation during this period. When backed by interesting, unique, content issues-based communications can also deliver a reduced risk interview option for spokespeople who may otherwise have been expected to comment solely on business performance.

The recession poses significant challenges but also offers the opportunity to differentiate through communications. Companies that can take and ‘own’ relevant issues are likely to gain a positive reaction from journalists that I suspect will shortly be suffering from recession fatigue themselves.

Posted in B2B, comms, marketing, PR, recession | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Why innovation matters…

Posted by Will Connolly on March 2, 2009

Innovation is defined by the Oxford dictionary as “1 the action or process of innovating.  2 a new method, idea, or product. ” So what is the process of innovating, and what can we achieve?   Innovation is then, creating new ways of thinking to enable the practice of a new method, or design of a new idea, service or product. 

Whether we are talking about the global economic downturn, scarcities of knowledge and resources in developing countries, or thinking about new ways to learn and educate; innovation is essential in the way we work. 

How can innovation be envisaged?

Methods of creative thinking such as brainstorms, collaborative working, and exposure to new experiences shape our innovative success.  Working in a creative environment, the use of social media and web 2.0 are ways to engage with others both in and out of our physical vicinity.    Working in these ways inspire new thoughts and avenues of discovery.  Web 2.0 and social media are an ever-increasing phenomenon, but what is the point to all these usernames and passwords?  How much social media can we take? Among the young no doubt, social media is a popular topic; people are using websites such as Facebook and MySpace to connect with their peers.  How many professionals today are using these ways of communicating fully to their advantage?  The increase in contact through these channels surely leads to learning new information and inspiring ideas.  Twitter has proved a popular business tool, to communicate with journalists, PRs, and add a personal touch to the way we communicate in business.  This is an example of how we can manipulate the media to our advantage.

Best practices and examples of success

Context is important when thinking about innovation.  What are the social, environmental, political, economic, and media factors that will influence the way we communicate and design?  Can the way we look at and forecast the future also define what we should be doing now?  Knowing what issues of the day affect our businesses and policies will put us in better positions to be successful in the future and aid the evolution of innovation.

Business Week asked futurologists, to describe what they’d like to see arise from the current downturn.  “What are the most important inventions of the next 10 years?”.  The futurologists suggest innovations in energy such as bio-fuels and thermal and kinetic energy generation for electronic devices, smarter applications for mobile devices, medical breakthroughs, such as a cure for cancer, and social media literacy to name a few.

Financial rewards and other results of innovative thinking

Can innovation be measured?  The innovative successes of the BBC iPlayer, iPhone3G, Twitter and Facebook, show how innovative thinking can lead to record breaking corporate transformation.  The network operator O2 sells 1m Apple iPhones in 2009 showing how this innovative product helped initially gain the deal with O2 and subsequently increase its sales.

Are there flaws in innovation?

Some people may be wary about changing traditional practices.  Whilst some ways of working will be productive, innovation of our methods and the way we communicate can result in higher levels of productivity and success. But does success stifle innovation?.  Another interesting topic discussed on Business Week; success identified here as breeding a spotlight on efficiency – which can be an obstruction in creative innovative thought.   Companies and organisations should then have a balance between what is measurable by success and what can be measured by our ideas.  Innovation is more an investment in the long term.

Innovative thinking should be used by all and nurtured into our best practices.  Striving for new and exciting prospects and ideas will lead to richer experiences and the ability of communicate with more people.  Innovation and communication should go hand in hand. 

Posted in B2B, business, clarkemulderpurdie, comms, facebook, PR, socialmedia | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Complimentary workshop

Posted by amandapurdie on October 10, 2008

Clarke Mulder Purdie are offering a complimentary one hour workshop to examine how your company should be communicating about sustainability issues. 

 

In the workshop we will cover

 

  • How your company is currently perceived with regards to sustainability issues?
  • What is the image of your sector in general and your competitors?
  • What are the key sustainability trends and issues?
  • What would be an appropriate way for you to incorporate sustainability themes into your communications?
  • How to avoid being accused of greenwashing?
  • How to get buy-in from your organisation.  

 

Please let me know if you would like to take advantage of this offer.  Amanda Purdie apurdie@cmpcommunications.com, 0207 401 8001

 

 

 

Posted in B2B, business, comms, PR | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Communicating sustainability: what really matters to your customers, and why you should care?

Posted by Helen on October 10, 2008

From Maja Zupan, Associate Director, Clarke Mulder Purdie…

For the past year or so, one could not open the morning paper or log onto a news site without half a dozen headlines jumping off the page announcing newly crafted sustainability policies by this or that organisation. However, after initial praise for the green pioneers, the media became more difficult to please, criticising many a corporate policy as skin deep. This, in turn, has led some organisations to conclude they were better off not doing anything at all.

At a time when the economic downturn is placing new pressures on organisations, and the media appetite for corporate sustainability stories is seemingly waning, are these organisations onto something? Should companies put their sustainability policies on a shelf and get on with business? While tempting, such thinking is fundamentally flawed.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B2B, business, comms, PR | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Get distributed, or get out

Posted by Graham Hayday on January 18, 2008

An old colleague of mine once spoke to an IT vendor who had this recipe for business success: ‘Get big, get niche or get out.’

It is of course a massive cliché, and one we repeated ad infinitum in the office for some reason. But it still rings true in IT, and also in media.

Or at least it used to. These days, you perhaps need to add another ‘get’ to the equation – ‘get distributed’.

Jeff Jarvis (et al) has been going on about this for the internet equivalent of donkeys’ years. Using Google’s business model for inspiration, he insists that media organisations today have to enable their content to be distributed around the web, just as Google-driven ads appear all over the place. Google doesn’t care if you never visit the Google.com homepage; it can still make money.

How many media organisations can say the same of their websites? More and more are moving in this direction, and rightly so. A survey flagged up today by Roy Greenslade on his Media Guardian blog shows why. It reveals some interesting trends about American teenagers’ media consumption.

One of the study’s authors is quoted by Roy as saying:

“We found teens are unlikely to follow serious news online, but that they will click on news stories that appeal to them when they find them on other sites… Teen after teen told researchers that they’ll view news stories ‘if something catches my eye.'”

They may well take that approach into adulthood, so it’s crucial even for B2B sites to optimise their content for a web 2.0 world. I noticed today that the CNET-owned silicon.com now has a branded Facebook page. It may only have two ‘fans’ right now (both CNET employees…) but it is another example of a media brand distributing itself online. (They should have news headlines appearing there perhaps – or at the very least a link to the site! – but I’m sure that sort of thing will come. The Facebook presence of the consumer-focused CNET.co.uk site is much busier).

The report also found that teens are “drawn to news stories if they are presented with stimulating video or pictures, or if the topic is humorous or bizarre”. Maybe we need to add another ‘get’ to the equation then – ‘get multimedia’.

So… ‘Get big, get niche, get distributed, get multimedia or get out’. It’s not quite as catchy as the original, but it works for me.

Posted in B2B, facebook, MSM, socialnetworks | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Should you ghost-write a blog?

Posted by Graham Hayday on October 12, 2007

The short answer to that question is ‘no’. But the long answer is a little more complex.

I was spurred into thinking about the topic again while reading this article earlier in the week.

I’ve long argued that the Guardian’s Comment Is Free isn’t a blog in the true sense of the word. It’s just a place where opinion pieces are published and people can comment on them.

(For fear of blowing my former employers’ trumpet, silicon.com started allowing readers to post comments on every piece of news and opinion content back in the late 90s, if memory serves. We didn’t call it blogging.)

Nevertheless, the Guardian piece does open up the debate about whether a blog (in the Jeff Jarvis sense of the word) should ever be ghost-written.

He would certainly say ‘no’. Most hard-core bloggers would. I therefore got some nasty stares when I suggested otherwise at an event we held recently.

But I think different rules apply when you’re talking about corporate blogging, whether you like it or not.

B2B magazines (and national newspapers for that matter, especially the letters pages) often feature ghost-written submissions, and no one really questions their authenticity, or minds that they may not be written by the person whose name’s attached to them.

So why do bloggers get so precious about this? Who wrote the commandment that reads ‘thou shalt not compose a ghost-written blog?’

I agree that such blogs tend not to be as effective as the ‘pure’ ones, but they still can be highly readable (and to put my PR hat on, can work as part of a company’s communications strategy).

I also admit that they go against the ‘ethics’ of blogging – one reason why blogs have become so popular is dissatisfaction among readers/viewers with mainstream media’s tendency to indulge in deception and to have hidden agendas.

It would be a shame if the world of the blog got dragged into the same murky waters in which the mainstream media find themselves floundering these days. Transparency is one of the blogosphere’s watchwords.

But ghost-written blogs are a reality, and are here to stay. We may as well get used to it.

Posted in B2B, blogging, business, PR, trust | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Of cultural barriers and corporate blogs

Posted by Graham Hayday on October 5, 2007

I was doing some preparation for a web 2.0 presentation the other day, and came across the blog of American airline South West Airlines.

At the time, this post was at the top.

It’s titled, ‘The freedom to luv my job’.

What follows is a tribute to the joys of working for South West, written by someone called Shelley. She’s had three jobs in her time at the company, and has loved (sorry, ‘luved’) every one of them.

To me, the post smacks of everything that’s wrong with some corporate blogs. It looks about as authentic as Pete Burns’ lips.

I simply didn’t believe someone would spontaneously write something like this. She was either coerced into it by someone in HR or PR, or – worse – had the post written for her by someone in PR, I thought.

Her message to the world even contains this gem of a sentence: “Needless to say, I learned a lot during my tenure in Compensation, and I grew to LOVE Excel spreadsheets!”

Surely no one LOVES spreadsheets enough to write the word in capitals? Do they? Not unless they’re desperate for a promotion they don’t.

But when I went back to the post today to get the URL I noticed that there are around 25 comments, all from South West employees, all of which are similarly ‘on message’.

There’s not one criticism of Samantha’s rampant enthusiasm. Many thank her for sharing her inspiring experiences.

Maybe, sitting here as a cynical Englishman, I underestimated cultural difference. After all, America is a country in which a giant Mickey Mouse wishes visitors to Disneyland a “magical day” and no one feels moved to vomit into the nearest paper bag.

What happened at the web 2.0 presentation itself got me musing on the same theme. At the end of the talk this morning, in which I’d criticised poor Samantha, I was asked by our client – which has offices all around the world and, crucially, isn’t headquartered in either the UK or America – about the problems of cultural difference.

If they set up a blog or used a social networking site such as Facebook, would they need to have versions in English, Italian, Spanish, etc? If they agreed to use English as the lingua franca, would that in itself create cultural issues in, say, Latin America?

These are good questions, and I’m not sure I have the answers. What I have learnt is not to underestimate Americans’ propensity to act as unironic cheerleaders for their employer – and that American/UK companies sometimes take the use of English for granted.

Time to get the thinking cap on.

[Update: In light of Brian’s comment, I think I need to stress that I changed my mind about Shelley’s post. That was my point, but maybe I didn’t make it clearly enough. I did come to believe that her comments were genuine, and that there was no arm twisting involved. I was trying to poke fun at myself for being blinded by my ‘European cycnicism’, not Shelley for demsontrating her enthusiasm for the job. I’d say she’s a lucky soul to have a job she loves so much.] 

Posted in B2B, blogging, business, comms, PR, socialmedia | 3 Comments »

Welcome to digital pebbles

Posted by Graham Hayday on September 6, 2007

Welcome to the first post on the Clarke Mulder Purdie blog, Digital Pebbles. In case you don’t know who CMP are, have a look at the ‘about’ blurb and click through to our website. If that’s too much hassle, let’s just say that we’re a corporate communications and B2B PR agency based in London, and we’re very good at what we do (which includes blowing our own trumpet and, indeed, those of our clients. As it were).

This blog will undoubtedly change as it finds its feet, but it’s safe to say that we will use it to keep our clients, contacts and friends (and maybe even the odd journalist – and they’d have to be very odd to subscribe to a PR agency’s blog) abreast of our latest activities. We may also share our thoughts on PR with the wider world.

(Yes, I do know that the last thing the wider world thinks it needs is another blog on communications/marketing, but ours will be worth reading. Honest. As are those in our blogroll).

I’d like to point out at this juncture that the posts will be personal (and will not necessarily reflect the views of the company, its clients, blah blah blah) and most of them will be written by me. So it’s not really a corporate blog. Honest.   

With that ‘covering my backside’ blather out of the way, on with the show. The first thing to announce is that we’re hosting the latest meeting of the Innovation Reading Circle on Monday (10 September. The book under discussion should provoke some heated debate – it’s called Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, by Jared Diamond. You might like to read the book itself. Or, if that’s too much effort, watch a video featuring the author talking about it (warning: it’s 75mins long). Or just read the Guardian’s review of it.

The evening meeting is fully booked, but keep your eyes open for other events we’re involved in here or on our Facebook group.

PS Just in case you were wondering, the title of the blog is supposed to illustrate how PR works in a web 2.0 world (I hate the phrase web 2.0 by the way, but it’s a handy shorthand for social networking, blogging etc so I will continue to use it). It’s hard to make a big splash in these days of media fragmentation, but by dropping a few virtual pebbles in the web 2.0 pond (yes, I know, rubbish metaphor) you can create some significant ripples.

Posted in B2B, comms, PR | Leave a Comment »