Key Advice Blog

Archive for April 2010

Campaigning is advertising.  And advertising is a key part of public relations.It’s all about customer service – and when it goes wrong, it goes very, very wrong. So how do you make it right?

As we saw with Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s awful mic-is-still-on mistake yesterday, which resulted in him insulting a loyal client by calling her a ‘bigot’, silence is golden. The old adage ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’ rings true. But, there are golden PR rules, as Social Small Business points out, that we should all try to measure up to.

These are Social Small Business’s four key questions to test your advertising for customer service PR:

They ask:” Does it:

“Peak the interest of the right customers?

Reflect the organization’s values/mission?

Prompt wanted action?

Reassure existing customers?”

They go on to discuss issues like relationship building. It is obvious this one little word, in this over-heard by the world comment by Mr Brown, has had a huge effect on the client, him, his organisation and it’s future. It’s a big price to pay, but PR errors are costly. It’s what makes organisation’s accountable to their clients.

Try this test on your advertising. It’s a very good measuring tool. And don’t forget – turn your mic off or act as if it is always on. That’s a win-win combo.

From Twitter:

@PaulEastonAssoc Who was Browns PR yesterday? ‘Mic Off’ is a golden rule as soon as they come off-camera. Ask Ron Atkinson. #Brown #Bigot

News  releases have stood the test of time, but it is time they go to the next level and meet  social media standards. The marketplace has quickly embraced social media platforms, now marketing and public relations practitioners need to integrate new media, social media sites and key links into their news releases to meet this new demand.

There is no doubt news releases are still the bedrock of marketing activities. They still work – but they can work even better if online and social media links are integrated. Gone are the days of simply providing a contact name, phone number and email address. Here are three key things to integrate into your next news release, so it can ‘evolve’ as Ian Captstick explains on Media Shift into a social media release.

Tip 1: Integrate Live Web Links

Provide live links to your websites –  link to a page that is directly connected to the topic of your news release.

Provide links to all your social media sites – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. Include your name – as it may differ from your company’s and not be easy to find in searches.

Don’t forget to offer email links to key contacts.

Tip 2: Stand out with visual links

Embed images or graphics, which link through to your website. A picture is worth a thousand words.

Add a Google Map link – so people can see where you are.

Videos or audio (AudioBoo) podcasts embedded bring your SMR to life. Multi-media messages will stand out from the crowd.

Tip 3: Leave lots of Helpful Links

Provide a link to your site’s RSS and E-news subscription pages. Keep them coming back.

Make sure you have an up-to-date media page or site and provide the link. Keep feeding them.

Add a few helpful links to research findings, feedback or news updates on the release’s topic. Keep them informed.

The best way to succeed at social media release writing is by putting it into your marketing strategy, developing a set of guidelines and creating a social media release template.  Then train your staff. Integration is the key – and you can be a market leader by adopting this now.

According to AV Interactive , and many media reports, the need to continue doing business during the volcanic ash air travel crisis ‘erupted’ in a boom of 100% growth for some video conferencing vendors! There’s a message there.

In need of an expert blogger for my Web Design evening class in the UK, I will be bringing in blogger Craig McGinty, of thisfrenchlife.com fame, to inspire the class about blogging. Craig will share insights, from his location in France,  into how to do it, best practices and tips for making a living blogging. We’ll be using Skype.

Video links are green, offer inexpensive alternatives to face-to-face meetings and great flexibility. The growth in webinars – both for learning, sharing information and marketing are proof positive this medium is a great – but under-used resource.

With programs like Jing offering desktop, fingertip options for adding visuals to online conversations or presentations (thanks for that tip Kay Hebbourn), there is no excuse not to follow the video conferencing crowd!

Think of what you can save and earn!

Despite all the promotions of the importance of website content being accessible, usable and understandable, it still rates low in web planning commitment. A study by Next Communications, website teams are still rating design, SEO and development as top priorities (over 50%) and content at the bottom of the web planning chain at 10% importance.

Yet, users continue to report their frustration at not being able to find, understand or use information on websites. So how do we bridge this gap?

First get a clear picture of your audience, readers, site visitors. Who are they? Where are they coming from? How old are they? What is your relationship with them? What do they want?

Then adopt these three top web writing guidelines:

1. Use headlines to help lead your readers through the text. Newspapers are popular for a reason. Ease of finding information is one of them.

2. Write in a concise style to meet the scanning style web readers use, which is different from print readers. People often know what they want before going to a website – so make it easy for them to move through your content to find it.

3. Use language that is understandable by your readers. Avoid lingo, tech terms and abbreviations they may not be familiar with. If you have to use unfamiliar words define them, or pre-empt problems with a FAQ section.

Content is still king. But don’t turn it into a pauper by ignoring tried and tested website content guidelines.

Resources:

Plain Language Websites

Jacob Nielson’s Writing for the Web vs Print

Website Tips

With all the great content management systems built into blog and web platforms, who needs HTML code? We all do. It’s like having an SLR camera. Yes, everyone has gone digital. But, many are going back to digital/manual models for control. That’s what HTML code, that backbone of all sites, is all about – control.

If you never studied it, here are three top sites to help you – or refresh your memory if it’s been a while.

HTML Goodies:This is a detailed, step-by-step guide with more than just HTML. If it’s been a while since you’ve put in a list, an image, or an email link, this is the place to go for a quick refresher.

W3C – Intro to HTML: Dave Raggett’s lesson in using HTML code to build pages is excellent. And as it comes from the ultimate guide to accessible websites, the World Wide Web Consortium on standards, you get two for the price of one.

HTML Code Tutorial: This site breaks using HTML code down into bite-sized pieces. It has tutorials, a forum and a quick list. Very helpful.

A little bit of knowledge, can go a long way.

The second annual, sold out,   Gadget Show Live at Birmingham’s NEC firmly put three tech trends on top, and they are all about tech appeal.

World's smallest mobile phone

sWaP stand shows off world's smallest mobile phone prototype.

Once inside, you were immediately greeted by a huge 3D TV stand and glasses were thrust at you to test it out, giving you a taste of the number one home tech trend . It seems whether we want it not, we’re going to get it. All the big names were there with their 3D TV wares, competing to assault our senses with small glasses which deliver a big effect. So think carefully before purchasing a new TV, 3D home sets are closer than they appear.

The second top trend was for broadband- based entertainment services. The Future Home Technology Trends presenter spoke of TV and Internet ‘crumbling’ and broadband providing all our entertainment and information needs via TV sets.  Minority Report style interactive screens for coffee table access to your email, photos, the Internet, is no longer the stuff of Hollywood magicians. Goodbye to cables and multiple sets and PCs. One stop tech entertainment shops are in vogue.

The third trend is for  tech miniturisation. Whole house integration options for controlling lights, heating, energy and security on one small unit are soon to be a mass market items. Smaller, flatter TVs and e-readers, the world’s smallest mobile phone sitting in the palm of your hand, interactive pens that read, record, write, report and interact with a book or screen were all on display – and some are available now.

So forget the Festo radio controlled,intuitive,  larger-than-life flying penguins overhead, the life-size robots roaming the halls, and big clunky, cable crazed technology waiting for you at home – small, simple and sensory-serving technology is taking over.

And, next year at the show, your current TV could be relegated to the Gadget Hall of Fame.

This week TV’s popular The Gadget Show goes live and invades Birmingham’s NEC, promising to be the Glastonbury of tech shows. Due to popular demand The Gadget Show Live had to add an extra day to accommodate its expected 50,000 visitors. Promising a Game Zone for everyone from the just interested to want to be an international competitor, the Show will assault one’s tech senses.

With the proliferation of digital cameras, the bigger Photographic Masterclass Theatre workshops will no doubt be elbow to elbow. And the Future Home Theatre zone will be able to advise you if Skype on your TV, 3D and a digital projector are the way to go. But, 3D will no doubt be trying to steal the show.

If you are sentimental about technology, a visit to the Gadget Hall of Fame, with sixty years of our favourite technology on display,  will be on your to do list. Remember your first mobile phone? How big, clunky and limited was it? But, don’t get lost in the past, the Future Tech Zone is robot heaven.

And of course, you can see the team, Suzi, Jon, Jason and Ortis perform a live version of their TV show. So from the couch to the live theatre!

The exhibitors list includes everyone from APR Media, to Cancer Research UK, to Disney Interactive Studios. There’s Funky Fishtanks, Live Luggage and Talking Pen. The sat nav companies will be there in force, and one might be needed just to get around the event.

The show is sold out, so if you didn’t get a ticket, sign up to their Twitter or Facebook, and search the blogs to find out what’s happening.


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