When helping others can actually be a bad idea

15 Apr

At Berkeley PR I like to refer to the team as a well oiled machine. Everyone is clear about their role and what they need to do to achieve success. This means when someone is on holiday, is ill or leaves we know exactly how to replace that individual and can manage the situation.

It also ensures that people are doing the appropriate job. In fact nothing makes me angrier than a senior member of the team doing a role that someone in their team should be doing.

It is a waste of experience, ruins overservicing stats and makes people look less productive/more productive than they actually are. Now, don’t get me wrong, leading by example from time to time is very admirable…..just don’t bother all of the time. It makes people question why you were promoted and reduces the level of respect you get from the rest of the team as the lines of distinction between your role and theirs start to blur.

My advice is to always be clear about who should be doing the role and offer them help to do it rather than do it yourself. Or you might simply be shooting yourself in the foot.

How to get that first dream job in PR

14 Apr

Be nice

I am always interviewing people for roles at Berkeley PR. I quite enjoy it as I like meeting new people. As a process I find it interesting to see how different people approach the meeting.

It has introduced me to some very interesting people who although we didn’t have the appropriate role available for them I was genuinely glad to have met them.

Like many others I have my questions that I like to ask and a list of key skills that I believe any candidate should possess. According to some research I read(in :59 seconds by Professor Richard Wiseman) Chad Higgins from the University of Washington and Timothy Judge from the University of Florida believe I am deluding myself with this approach.

Their research of more than a hundred students trying to get their first job found that it was neither work experience nor qualifications that helped them get the job. It was down to whether the candidate appeared to be a pleasant person!

The candidates who had managed to integrate themselves were more likely to be offered a position. A few had spent time chatting about topics that were not relevant to the job, but that interested the candidate and interviewer. The barrage of positivity had paid dividends and convinced the interviewers that such a pleasant and socially skilled applicant would fit well in the workplace, and so should be offered a job.

I think this is important advice. Most people coming for their first job will be ready to discuss their qualifications and experience but far too many people forget that you also have to be likable. At the end of the day, you spend more time with colleagues than loved ones so you want to get along with them!

How to increase your creativity by 45%

11 Apr

My dear wife bought me a potted bamboo plant for my desk after she heard me complaining about how untidy my office was a few weeks ago. I have grown quite fond of it – mainly because I haven’t killed it yet.  Is this simply a sign of my age or is there another reason? Well a quick look on Google and I found the following research findings.

According to a study designed by the Identity Realisation research group at the University of Exeter, office plants can assist in boosting staff well-being by up to 47%. Cool eh. In fact the research showed that allowing staff to make design decisions in a workspace enhanced with office plants can increase well-being by 47%, increase creativity by 45% and increase productivity by 38%.

It might be bollocks, but in a world where percentages can make a massive difference surely a few £15 plants is worth the investment.

Illegal to respond to emails after 6pm – sound good?

10 Apr


Relax – it is after 6pm!

Further to the whitepaper on the new rules of international PR I blogged about earlier this week one of my friends pinged me this interesting article that appeared in The Guardian yesterday.

Apparently new laws in France protect workers from responding to emails after 6pm. It is now illegal for workers in the digital and consultancy sectors to respond to emails after 6pm. In fact, staff will be ordered to switch off their professional phones, and companies must ensure that their employees come under no pressure to look at work-related emails or documents on their tablets or computers.

Can you imagine that?

Also according to the article, trials are taking place in Sweden to reduce work hours to just 30 hours a week (six hours per day). When I read this out just now in the office my colleague asked if she could go home then as she had already done that many hours this week.

How would this impact the PR industry? At Berkeley PR we always try hard to get the life and work balance right but the very nature of our business means that you are going to have to work late from time to time and I find it personally inconceivable that I couldn’t keep an eye on my emails after 6pm. A crisis doesn’t only happen between office hours and that is when a communications consultancy can truly add value.

What do you think of these rules? Are they practical in the PR industry in the UK or have France and Sweden got it right?

Taking responsibility

10 Apr


I was talking to one of my account managers the other day about how an exec was struggling to understand the sense of urgency surrounding a job they were working on. I had a simple response.

“Tell them they have to update the client on the next weekly call themselves.”

Sounds simple but I can tell you that it is extreamly effective. If an individual knows that the agenda will be passed to them in front of a client to talk through, I guarentee they will be well versed and ready, but more importantly, they will ensure the results are good. Part of growing into a role and taking on more responsibility is understanding what comes with it.

I have found this approach to work time and time again.

Try it.

The ideal length of everything when writing

9 Apr

I found this great blog post the other day which is well worth a read if you ever wonder how long what you are writing should be. There is more information and the science behind each length on the original post but here is a quick over view:

  • The ideal length of a tweet is 100 characters
  • The ideal length of a Facebook post is less than 40 characters
  • The ideal length of a Google+ headline is less than 60 characters
  • The ideal length of a headline is 6 words
  • The ideal length of a blog post is 7 minutes, 1,600 words
  • The ideal width of a paragraph is 40-55 characters
  • The ideal length of an email subject line 28-39 characters
  • The ideal length of a presentation is 18 minutes
  • The ideal length of a title tag is 55 characters
  • The ideal length of a domain name is 8 characters

The new rules of international PR

8 Apr

international PR

My agency Berkeley PR has pulled together a whitepaper on the new rules of international PR. Below is a snippet.

For companies undergoing global expansion, the blended global-local news landscape has changed the game for PR. The following guidance will help you find your way:

  1. Embrace the power of story. Everyone, regardless of market, culture, business sector or company size, loves a good story that informs, engages and entertains. The best stories combine the three elements of bad news (the problem), topicality and human interest.
  2. Adapt your story. Understand that tailoring is not the same as re-inventing the wheel in each of your key markets. That is an unnecessary drain on resources and runs the risk of distorting or diluting your key brand messages and story.
  3. Centralise content creation in your lead market, disseminating approved copy out to your local teams for adaptation translation and distribution.
  4. Re-use content at every available opportunity, tailoring it to different media channels and markets – press releases, viewpoints, white papers, rapid response blasts and social media campaigns.
  5. Listen to your local PR teams and trust them to deliver. They will have their ear to the ground on local trends and issues, understand the culture better than anyone and have built the strongest media relationships.
  6. Delegate. Don’t try to manage everything yourself, but make one of your local PR teams the leader. They will manage and co-ordinate local activity and provide a unified plan and reporting dashboard.
  7. Measure everything. Agree with your local teams what success will look like and set clear targets. Ensure that at least 80 per cent of your PR activity is aligned to achieving these targets. Regularly review performance against these targets.

Within the broad currents of the world’s media landscape are the local swirls and eddies of individual markets. To succeed, PR needs to take both of these into account.

To get a free copy of the rest you can download it here.

10 of the best writing tips you will ever see from David Ogilvy

7 Apr

David Ogilvy writing tip

My good friend Barny pointed me in the direction of the writing tips below from David Ogilvy last week (although I’m shocked it wasnt the one above). I think they are inspired and heartily recommend everyone prints them off and reviews them every day before writing anything.
For those that don’t know, David Ogilvy is widely thought of as the original ‘Mad Man’. In fact, in 1962, Time called him “the most sought-after wizard in today’s advertising industry” – so he knew a thing or two about snappy content.
Just swap Ogilvy & Mather for your own company. It is absolutely as relevant today in the digital age as it was when David first wrote it. In particular, I like the line “never use jargon words……they are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.”

The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well.
Woolly minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches.
Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well. Here are 10 hints:
1.    Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.
2.    Write the way you talk. Naturally.
3.    Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
4.    Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.
5.    Never write more than two pages on any subject.
6.    Check your quotations.
7.    Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it.
8.    If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.
9.    Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.
10.    If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.

10 of the most perfect writing tips I have ever seen.

PR makes you happy

4 Apr

It’s official….a survey told me so! Surely no one would ever stage a survey for their own benefit so it must be accurate.

That said, as a PR pro it is normal practice to see articles listing our industry as one of the most stressful or hated so it was quite refreshing to see the Huff Post list 10 jobs that are most likely to make young people happy. I agree with this. It is hard work but I rarely hear of anyone leaving the PR industry for another one altogether.

The part of the article that I liked the most was this:

We also crave acknowledgement for our work. No matter what our roles, every person in the team wants to leave the office with a sense of achievement. And, even if the feedback’s negative, psychologists suggest we’d always rather hear something rather than nothing from our managers.

I am busy refreshing our appraisal process at Berkeley PR alongside our HR manager because I absolutely agree with this. Everyone needs some form of feedback to feel motivated. Am I valued or am I getting things wrong? If you don’t know you can’t fix or do more of it.

Byte Night in the Thames Valley – time to sign up IT companies!

3 Apr

Byte Night Thames Valley
Last night I attended the Thames Valley launch event for 2014’s Byte Night. At Berkeley PR we support this charity by providing PR support as well as putting a team forward to sleep out. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the event, Byte Night provides valuable funding for the charity, Action for Children to tackle youth homelessness by spending a night exposed to the elements.

To put this in context, new government figures show that in the last six months of 2013, over 220 young people in the Thames Valley were registered homeless. Only a fraction of the true number of homeless young people are captured by this statistic as many are not officially recognised by local authorities. It is estimated that 80,000 young people a year experience homelessness in the UK – leaving them vulnerable to violence, mental health problems and addiction.

This year at the launch event we had a young lady who shared her insight into how the charity had helped her. Coming from a home where her mother was an alcoholic, she was asked to leave the family home at the age of 12 because her mother’s new boyfriend didn’t like her. This led to a few years of sleeping on friends sofas and waiting for the park keepers to lock up before jumping the fence and sleeping on a bench. Drink, drugs, abusive relationships and even prison followed before Action for Children stepped in and helped provide her with advice and guidance as to how she could take control of her life and stop the cycle. They didn’t give her money or anything materialistic, they gave her a life advice. How to budget your money so you can pay your rent, how to get into college and how to live a debt free life are a few examples of the type of thing that she was taught alongside simply having someone to talk to.

Fast forward a few years and she was stood in front of us, debt free, managing a household budget and just about to enrole on a college course and is absolutely determined to ensure her children don’t have the start in life that she had. It was really moving stuff.

If your company is interested in getting involved in the 2014 sleep out why not visit the Byte Night website for further information or simply drop me a line and I will do my best to explain how you can get involved. Great cause and a great event. Get involved Thames Valley..


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