Tag Archives: PR

Are you the teaching hospital of the communications world?

18 Apr


Teaching quote

The cold harsh reality of working in the communications business is that people leave. You always wish that they didn’t but they do. The bright lights, a pay rise, a promotion are all things I have heard in the past six months and I’m sure I will hear again in the next.

That said, I am very proud that 95% of people who leave Berkeley PR do so for a dream job, a promotion or for location reasons. Very rarely do they leave because they didn’t feel fulfilled.

I often speak to my team about this. I don’t expect them to stay with us forever (although a staff retention rate of just under 80% suggests we are doing something right) but if they do move, the foundation we will have given them will set their careers up for life. I watch with pride as some of our trainees soar across the communications industry and get a real buzz out seeing their successes when I think back to how they started their careers.

I have been reading a book of David Ogilvy’s unpublished notes, memos and letters. In one memo to his team he refers to the training his agency gives their people. I love it and have replaced Ogilvy & Mather and advertising with Berkeley PR and communications into the same memo. It is something to truely aspire towards…..

Great hospitals do two things: They look after patients, and they teach young doctors.

Berkeley PR does two things: We look after clients, and we teach young communication people.

Berkeley PR is the teaching hospital of the communication world. And, as such, to be respected above all other agencies.

Cheap shoes = bad at PR

17 Apr

Bad shoes

The headline above is bollocks but when I was a trainee PR exec I was told that it was essential that I always wore good shoes.

One of the senior team at my first agency always said: When I meet someone for the first time I always look at their shoes. Scuffed or scruffy shoes show me you don’t care, that you don’t have pride in your appearance and that if you are representing me you are likely to be sloppy.

Might sound harsh but seeing as most first impressions are lasting impressions worth noting. Why start off on the wrong foot (no pun intended).

A simple thank you can get you free PR

16 Apr

Free PR

Over servicing happens in every PR agency. Everyone has a favourite client and everyone has one that they wouldn’t shed a tear over if they lost.

What always amazes me is how often a client forgets to say a simple two words when you secure them a great piece of coverage or opportunity. Thank you. It costs nothing but is also addictive.

PR people crave hearing this. Give it to them once and they will want to hear it again and again. You will fast become their favourite account and the one that they constantly go the extra mile for.

Forget to say it and you will likely get the bare minimum. What’s the point of working extra hours or pushing yourself if the client simply doesn’t appreciate it?

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

Reading Byte Night – what a success!

7 Oct
A sleepy Paul about to bed down

A sleepy Paul about to bed down

On Friday I participated in Byte Night. As a member of the Thames Valley board I have eagerly awaited the day since I first signed up back in March, and it didn’t disappoint.

For those of you who don’t know, Byte Night encourages people to sleep outside for one night in October to raise money to help vulnerable young people to keep their dreams alive. Through Action for Children, Byte Night supports projects across the UK, that offer young people a way out of a life spent on the streets.  It provides them with the space and security to work out what they want from their lives and helps them to get their dreams back on track.  By sleeping out in support of Byte Night, you can help to support the dreams of those in danger of being forgotten, and give them the opportunity to build a better life for themselves.

When team Berkeley PR arrived at Reading Town Hall on Friday night it started to rain which wasn’t the best of starts, but once inside we started chatting to the other 200 plus excited fundraisers and the evening began. Thames Valley co-chairs Sally Hanson and David Lewis did a wonderful job of building excitement and reminding everyone why we were here. The stats that stuck with me as we headed outside was that in the UK 100,000 young people spent a night homeless last year. One in three tried to commit suicide. Horrific.

The national target for Byte Night was to raise £1million and from emails I have seen this morning we are well on our way to breaking that figure for the first time since the event began.

Having bedded down on what turned out to be a mild night after the torrential rain that sleepers endured last year, I’m proud to have been a small part of this event and wanted to publically thank a few people……founder Ken Deeks for inspiring me to join, my fellow board members for helping to make the night such a success and everyone who helped with Berkeley PR’s fundraising efforts. We are just shy of £3k which is an amazing effort.

I also wanted to take the opportunity to say that if you would like to take part in this fantastic event next year, please drop me a line. The more the merrier. I know I will be there again.

Telling a story a second at a time

25 Sep

PR professionals tell stories. It is what we do. I am always looking for new ways to tell a story which is why I love video and social media. I recently blogged about a new app that I found where you can record a second of video a day and it them compiles the clips into a month.

I decided to have a play and created the above clip which shows what a boring git I am but also demonstrates how easy it is to do. I like this app and think it is fun but have also been thinking about how it could be used with communications in mind. For example, could you use the app to tell the story of a new employees first month in a role or the build up to a launch of a new product?


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