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Work Experience diary – James Prescott

We recently welcomed James Prescott to carry out a two-week work experience placement at our Grayling Bristol office.

Here James discusses his experiences and explains how pink tea and a military microwave queue aren’t the only qualities that make up a successful PR team.

James Prescott - Work Experience

Fumbling with the cling-film I had wrapped my teabags in, my mentor, Andree, calmly explained that there was no need to bring my own tea along, the offices had their own! And not just builders’ tea but chamomile, peppermint, green and something everybody simply referred to as ‘pink’, which upon later inspection turned out to be a raspberry based fruit concoction. Friends and family had warned that internships usually consisted of tea making and so I hoped to be well versed in its preparation.

Under normal circumstances I dread the awkward silence that pervades queues of workers scuffling to slam their lunchtime offerings in the microwave. But here conversation dances from business, to pleasure and back again before the gunpowder and honeysuckle teabag has time to infuse. The agency (and industry as a whole) thrives on the spoken and written word and these people are experts in their craft.

Before arrival I was under the impression that a steely exterior, immune to the supposed cold shoulder of the print journalist would have taken their toll. In reality, all and any requests from this intern were enthusiastically catered for with no hint of condescension. All briefs consisted of a meticulously constructed email with supplementary verbal explanation. Similar attention was paid to lessons in the art of press release writing – an intrinsic component of any aspiring PR’s arsenal.

The day of my first pitch to potential papers, the office was alive with the buzz of telephone conversations looking to ‘sell in’. A trembling voice and quivering hands accompanied the first few phone calls. My register oscillated violently after the first subject heckled me for calling the parent group rather than the publication itself; “Well why are you calling ME then!?” he barked before slamming down the phone in violent disregard.

Seeing Facebook and Twitter from an analytical perspective breathed new light into the way I viewed social media (or just ‘social’ as it’s known here). Exporting Facebook data to an excel spreadsheet to fill in a stats presentation for a client underlined, for me, the medium’s monumental importance in the business of getting noticed. Likes, posts, clicks, links and shares are turned into very real profits (and losses!).

Learning extended beyond the aspirational setting of the agency offices on the fourth floor of the Royal London Buildings in Bristol’s centre. Suddenly I was questioning the origin and motive of the story in front of me in the Metro paper on the bus home. Who really wrote this? And what were they actually trying to get across?

Two weeks insight had answered several questions and left me wanting to learn more. It was a pleasure working alongside such accommodating individuals who were keen to see that my tailored experience was worthwhile. It was a true game changer to have the opportunity to experience the business edge of journalism (which Lord Chadlington, founder of Huntsworth PLC, cites as his reasoning for leaving journalism to pursue PR). Sadly, I’m not quite so enthusiastic about having to bring in my own teabags, to my normal day job, again next week

James Prescott – Work Experience

Get the best from bloggers

Account Executive, Andree Latibeaudiere, discusses how successful blogger relationships stem from research and respect 

Blogging

In the past ten years, blogs have evolved from an interesting diversion to a valid media platform, as brands recognise the value of having seemingly independent advocates and supporters. The internet democratised all industries, allowing ‘normal’ people to express opinions and gain followings that rival major news outlets in a vastly more accessible manner. The normality and relatability also went a long way in establishing that all-important trust between the consumers and brand, with all involved parties benefitting from increased exposure in a win-win situation.

However, not all bloggers and brands are created equal with accounts of high profile horror stories from both sides. High profile bloggers aren’t shy about expressing their displeasure with PRs and brands (check out Liberty London Girl’s Twitter feed for evidence) and conversely some companies simply won’t work with some bloggers due to unprofessional behaviour. So what are the secrets to keeping this potentially lucrative relationship sweet? We put together a Blogger Best Practice guide to help you navigate this sometimes tricky territory.

Always:

• Read the blog and research your blogger: establish from the start whether your chosen blogger has an interest in the product or has the right tone and audience for your brand.
• Be clear what you want out of the relationship: being upfront with what you are offering and what you expect in terms of content gives both parties the chance to negotiate terms and timescales.
• Be helpful: if you’re unable to help a blogger, offer alternatives to keep the conversation open. Most bloggers are time poor and appreciate any help you can give them!
• Engage with them: comment on good content (not your own products!) and engage with them on social media, especially if you have a larger following than the blogger.
• Encourage disclosure: always ensure that the blogger discloses the source of your content to avoid the dreaded ‘Astroturfing’.

Sometimes:

• Offer exclusive content
• Build a database of relevant information: some bloggers are quite open on their blogs and will include personal information for consumption. It may be useful to know if a blogger has recently had a child or had bereavement so you can be sensitive when contacting them. This insight may give you the edge over the other companies vying for their attention!
• Offer guest content: this works really well if you have a well-established blog which the blogger can contribute to with links to their blogs and social media accounts.

Never:

• Spam: as mentioned above, most bloggers are time poor and will immediately delete irrelevant or impersonal material. Once you’re on their ‘spam’ list, it’s hard to re-establish this relationship.
• Hassle: most bloggers work on their own and have other jobs so will not appreciate constant pestering for content. Remember that the blogger owes you nothing, unless you have a specific contract or arrangement and even so, will appreciate sympathy and sensitivity regarding their time.
• Address ‘Dear Blogger’ or ‘Hi there’: blogs are personal and will at least have the blogger’s name or preferred alias listed. This approach is lazy and shows that you haven’t done your homework!

Hopefully these tips will help keep this relationship beneficial for all involved. Do you have any top tips for blogger relations? Comment below!

Andree

Andree Latibeaudiere

The ultimate brand endorsement

We recently welcomed Sophie Palmer, a social media and blogger enthusiast, into the Bristol team to undertake work experience with us. With a wealth of digital knowledge we asked her to write a guest post for the blog, and the chosen subject – blogger endorsement.

Blogger relations: how to get it right

In 2009 Zoe Sugg opened her YouTube account and started talking. Reviewing her favourite budget beauty products and showcasing her latest fashion buys, she gained a host of fans with her honest and fun personality. ‘Zoella’, as she is known, now has over six million subscribers on YouTube, a sell-out ‘Zoella’ beauty range and a novel due for release in 2015. Twenty million people a month view her online and with 2.3 million twitter followers, she has almost double the followers of celebrity Saturday night TV presenter Tess Daly; who also boasts a contract as the ‘face’ of L’Oreal.

Blog image

It isn’t surprising that brands have bloggers on their radar. While in the past a celebrity endorsement might have been the norm to push sales, consumers are putting their trust in bloggers they can identify with.

Brands are utilising this shift in trust and using blogger engagement to push online visibility and increase sales, after all fashion bloggers are helping to set and share the trends and their intimate connection with readers is desirable for any brand. Blogger outreach isn’t reserved for the big fashion brands, the diversity of blogs means that all it takes is some careful research to find the right blogger for your brand or project.

Here are our top tips for making the most of blogger collaborations:

  • Research – Don’t choose a blogger purely based on statistics, have a thorough look and keep in mind that the partnership needs to be relevant to both your customers and the blogger’s audience. A partnership with someone with fewer followers will be more effective if they are someone your customer identifies with and if you are a brand their reader is interested in.
  • Ideas – Spend some time creating an idea to present to your chosen blog. Bloggers receive countless emails from brands so make your idea stand out so that the blogger will be excited to work with you.
  • Make the relationship work for both of you – Blogging is time consuming and if you want them to spend their time promoting your brand, offer to promote theirs too. Bloggers don’t always expect payment but a free item and a tweet about them to show your appreciation is a gesture that will go a long way.
  • Personal approach – Building a friendly yet professional relationship with the blogger is important if you want the partnership to be long lasting. Generic emails usually end up in the junk folder and remember bloggers talk, so make sure they’re saying good things about your brand!

Join our team

Exciting times are afoot at Grayling and now is your chance to join one of the most successful PR consultancies in the South West.

We are currently recruiting foJob vacancyr an experienced Account Manager and an entry-level Client Executive to join our dynamic team.

The Account Manager role will suit an experienced consultant interested in working with clients in the business-to-business environment.

The Client Executive position is ideal for a recent graduate, preferably with some work experience in PR, who would relish the opportunity to support clients working in fields such as retail and fashion, transport and engineering.

For more information about either of these roles, please contact Kimberley.Holder@grayling.com

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