the pr shop Cant Get Enough Toms!

the pr shop has started the year well-heeled by winning the TOMS Shoes account (for every purchase you make, TOMS will give a pair of shoes to a child in need).

In keeping with the theme, the pr shop has also employed a new recruit; Tom Frankish, Account Executive. Proudly claiming the mantle of the pr shop’s first ever male employee, Tom is coping brilliantly with an office of women.

Corporate division takes business to another level

For those of you who don’t already know, we have ramped up our corporate PR offering to give corporate clients the chance to experience the company’s creative, straight-up, common sense PR approach.

We’ve always provided corporate PR, but up until now our positioning has very much been around consumer PR – product PR in particular. Clients have always loved our straight-up, no bullshit approach and the fact that we offer a media relations guarantee.  Recently there has been a trend for our clients to ask us to handle more corporate work just because they loved working with us on the consumer side and wanted to maintain the relationship across all aspects of their communication.

Our senior team has solid corporate PR experience so it’s a no-brainer that we would want to tap into that knowledge to benefit our existing clients and also reach out to new clients who wanted to work with us, but previously saw us as a consumer PR agency.”

And our newly invigorated corporate PR division has already notched up a new client – The Laminex Group on a corporate brief to assist with internal communications and media relations on a retainer basis.  The Laminex Group will also use the pr shop to support the launch of My Dream Kitchen, an inspirational kitchen-planning tool for consumers looking to renovate, as well as other PR projects going into 2013.

By Sally Frewin, on behalf of the pr shop

PR – Telling the story behind the brands

In PR we always get asked how we can build great brands, and whether PR can they do this better than traditional marketing or advertising.

There should never be a competition between marketers, advertising agencies and PR people. At the pr shop we work with some great creative agencies, all working towards the common goal of building great brands. But what is PR’s role and why is PR an important part of the marketing mix?

We liken a brand to more than just your company image (and even those fancy squiggles called a logo!). It also includes your customers’ experience and the expectation you set when doing business with your company. In short, a brand is also a promise. Just thinking of brands like Apple, you know it will promise (and deliver) on innovation, or thinking of Volvo, the brand equals safety.

A brand should tell a story and that story will include the good and bad bits, all the history the public is aware of. As PR should be a master storyteller, it has got to be fundamentally aware of how to tell these good news stories and minimise the bad. And needless to say here, when we say storyteller, we mean the ones of the truthful variety!

Public relations is a formidable brand builder because it harnesses the power of third party endorsements in the media. It delivers a tremendous return on investment for brands because the articles and stories generated in the media are credible, as people are more likely to believe what they read in a news story than in an advertisement.

At the pr shop, this media relations is our daily bread and butter. We rely on our relationships with journalists to put our clients’ best foot forward. This isn’t done by chocolate bribery (although this would be easier!), but rather our method of success is working for straight-up companies, whose products we believe in, are nice people (like us!) and who have something worth saying.

PR helps the public understand a business and its products, and allows these companies to tell their story in a thorough and authentic way. As much as PR people are jokingly referenced as “spin doctors”, PR helps a company achieve transparency, which is what society demands in today’s economy. This approach is reflected in the pr shop’s “no bullshit” modus operandi, and our media friends love us for it. In fact, we even treat journalists like smart, intelligent human beings (shock horror!) and simply, this straight up “keeping it real” attitude really does work.

Creating a successful brand doesn’t have to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Targeted PR is cost effective and has been proven to be an effective method of generating excitement and awareness for brands both big and small.

But beware – brands are not set in stone. Instead, brands are constantly evolving. Brands that are strong and healthy can wither and die quickly if the company stuffs up in the eyes of society. It’s important to remember that on a daily basis your company is either building or reducing its brand perception to clients, employees, customers and shareholders.

PR gives you a consistent and regular voice in the media, and you can be sure that when the savvy, expensive marketing falls over due to a dodgy product or an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, then PR will be called in to save the day.

Alysha Dingle, on behalf of the pr shop

An interest in Pinterest

Pinterest: it’s the new social media phenomenon that has had a meteoric rise in popularity since its launch less than a year ago.

For those yet to experience the addictive (at times all-consuming) realm that is Pinterest – here’s a quick 101. Pinterest is a virtual pinboard which lets you organise and share everything cool that you find on the internet. It’s genius, really. The internet is chock-full of images of amazing places, beautiful homes, recipes, art, funny-looking animals and unbelievable videos and sometimes you stumble across something that you don’t want to lose.

Instead of saving the link to a document on your desktop or printing the page out and being left with piles of scrap paper – now, you can Pin it. Pinning an image off a website will transfer that image (and the link to the source website) onto one of your Pinterest Boards. These pinboards can be organised according to your interests – I have one for recipes, one for clothing, one for places I’d like to visit one day and so on and so forth. Or, you can scroll through a live feed of images that other people have Pinned, and Repin them to your own Boards – saving you the hassle of doing the web searching yourself, and often showing you things you never even knew you wanted.

It’s an intriguing kettle of fish, this one – a brilliant concept. It has opened up a world of uninhibited online sharing that (in my mind) far surpasses that of Facebook or Twitter.

The crucial point of difference that Pinterest has over other social media sites is that the sharing is unrestricted. Anyone can see anything that anyone else in the world has Pinned at any time – it’s quite remarkable.

Most interesting is that this all-inclusive news feed provides an easy way to follow global trends (which, by the way, are currently: anything to do with s’mores and cupcakes that look like animals).

But the question on every brand manager’s mind is: what does Pinterest mean for my business?

Pinterest means that any brand images you have that are unique, strange, pretty or lead to something useful can spread like wildfire – it’s the quickest way for things to go viral, and your content leads back to your website, which can greatly increase page visits.  It also gives small companies ‘discoverability’ – you don’t need to be a major brand to be seen, as Pinterest shows people products/brands/styles they wouldn’t usually come across by plugging key words into a search engine (or think to search for at all).

Here are some tips to help make Pinterest work for your brand:

  • Follow, Repin and Like others: if you like their style, they make like yours and follow you back
  • Create boards beyond your products and brands, but related in some way: for instance, if you’re an airline, Pin amazing travel photos; if you’re a health brand, Pin healthy living and fitness messages; a pregnancy brand, Pin other tips useful to pregnant women
  • Add a Pinterest icon to your website
  • Make sure you generate visually appealing content that links back to your website or blog
  • Provide images that lead to a list of useful tips (e.g. how to make your own beer)
  • Don’t go overboard with the same old brand images: you don’t want to alienate other Pinterest users by spamming them with boring content!

I believe that this one’s here to stay: you can only explore Facebook for so long before the select group of people that you are ‘friends’ with run out of things to say or show you. But there’s always something new on Pinterest – the potential for procrastination is huge, but so is the potential for your brand.

It may be time to show an interest in Pinterest!

Find the pr shop on Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/theprshop/

Alisa Keall-Grant, on behalf of the pr shop

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Head over Heels

Over the past few months we have been excited to see PR getting much-deserved airtime in the media.  It’s a growth industry and a very rewarding profession – it is after all, why we love it, and why we do it.  No two days are ever the same and that keeps us on our toes.

Toes that are not, as it turns out, always covered by a pair of sky high red patent leather heels – contrary to popular belief.

As much as we try to ignore it, our industry often faces negative criticism.  Whether it’s from journalists, the general public, competitors or potential clients there isn’t enough understanding of the PR world and the value it can add to a business.

Of the negative coverage that our industry has recently received, some of our PR peers have been quoted as referring to the “best bit” or a “must have” part of the job is – wearing high heels.

Our critics, who already think PR is mysterious, pretentious, about smoke and mirrors and long lunches… now think success is based upon never being without a pair of 6 inch pumps.

The reality of what we do is very very different.  We work hard, increasingly providing publish-ready copy to time-poor journalists, recommending crisis communications plans, leveraging sponsorships, facilitating nationwide interviews, all to get positive results for our clients.

While professional presentation is important in any industry, choice of footwear is the least of our worries, and certainly not part of our PR arsenal.

What we need to “bring it” on a daily basis to ensure our clients receive their 3 x return on investment guarantee is reflected in what we stand for:

Love – for our client’s products and message
Magic – that thinking outside of the box creativity, leaving no stone unturned
Courage – to speak up with our ideas and honest opinions
No Bullshit

Don’t get us wrong – we are chicks and chicks love shoes.  But you know what?  We don’t need stilettos to do a kick ass job.

Janine Russell – on behalf of the pr shop

Land Ahoy!

Travelling to new places can be intimidating even for recreational travellers.  So imagine how complex it must seem to a business that is working to export either from Australia to New Zealand or New Zealand to Australia.  Working within a different culture, business practices, accounting systems and distribution channels can seem overwhelming. And trying to find the right communications company that will “get” you, the brand, and the way messaging needs to be positioned in order to engage the right audience can be a huge challenge.

That’s why being a trans Tasman PR company provides so many additional benefits to those looking to make it big across the ditch.  We have networks and contacts that will assist you in making waves – all handled with our no bullshit, friendly, honest approach together with our return on investment guarantee that makes us so unique and easy to work with.

Cost efficiency can be had by using both offices to handle copy writing and messaging. And having access to both teams can provide a friendly face no matter what port you sail into.

Be a big fish no matter what sea you swim in and reap the rewards of using an agency that doesn’t take advantage of your tourist status.

Pippa Lekner on behalf of the pr shop

 

Fizzy Fits!

We love a David vs Goliath battle here at the pr shop, especially when one of our clients (Sodastream) takes the role of David to champion the environment against the mighty global giant Coca-Cola.

In case you haven’t been following the story; Sodastream has been running a global marketing campaign called ‘The Cage’ whereby giant cages full of plastic bottles and cans are put on display in public places around the world to draw attention to the environmental waste resulting from the packaged soft drinks industry.

The Cage displayed at the airport in Johannesburg, South Africa angered Coca-Cola so much that they fired off a legal letter to SodaStream.  The letter demanded that any used bottles with Coca-Cola branding are the property of Coca-Cola and should therefore be removed. Big mistake. Huge.

SodaStream refused to back down, arguing very publicly, that if Coke does indeed own its garbage, it should be taking responsibility for it and cleaning it up, rather than letting billions of plastic bottles and cans go to landfill.  The media (and the public) backed Sodastream – well who wouldn’t!

Briefed by our client to communicate the Kiwi angle to media about the ‘battle of the bubbles’ we learnt a new marketing term in the process: ‘asymmetrical warfare’.  According to an article in Forbes magazine, this is a marketing tactic that Sodastream deployed strongly to the detriment of Coca-Cola.  We don’t care what you call it – it’s the fact that Sodastream has been declared victorious that counts.

Amanda Politzer on behalf of the pr shop

 

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A window on the PR world

You may be forgiven for thinking that ‘the pr shop’ is just a catchy name for a company that sells PR services.  While this is partly true, our Auckland office is actually located in prime retail space at 239 Symonds Street opposite The French Café, we have a cash register, and most importantly – a shop window.

As visitors to the pr shop will know, our window changes fortnightly and it always has a client-focused theme. This week the theme is Bell for Kids Tea– a teddy bear tea party!

Our in-house window dresser, Janine (J9) Russell, takes great care to lavish our window displays with love and creativity.  She recently designed a 70s retro-style themed window to celebrate Lion Red’s 40th year – think light sabres, Jabba the Hut and floppy discs.  As you might expect, this particular window generated a great deal of male interest.  Other themes have included a party, Baileys, Girl Guide biscuits and St Patrick’s Day for Guinness.

There’s a screen separating our window from the office space – we can see out, but passers by can’t see in.  We enjoy watching people rubber-necking the window and chatting to each other (sometimes at great length) about it.

We love our shop window. It shows the outside world what we are up to and it lets us show our clients a bit of extra love – and just lately they’ve been falling over each other to get us to book them a ‘slot’!  Form an orderly queue please…

So, if you are in the area, why not stop by and take a look? And while you’re there pop in and say hello – we love having visitors!

Amanda Politzer

Great PR or your money back!

Somewhat ironically, PR has always suffered in terms of its own reputation.  Sadly there are many reasons for this, and they’re why Sally and Pippa set up the pr shop in the first place –  to create a business that delivers great PR alongside solid business ethics.

Some PR practitioners will lead you to believe that PR is a ‘dark art’, a mysterious element of the marketing mix that can’t be easily measured and carries no assurances.  While it’s true that good PR always involves a bit of persuasion, it does deliver quantifiable results that can be measured against the initial investment.   So then, then why is it that it doesn’t come with a guarantee – why on earth would anyone expect a company to ‘take a punt’ on PR when there’s no guaranteed return?

It’s like having a tradesman round to give a quote and he starts scratching his chin, sucking air through his teeth and saying “ooh, it’s hard to say” – incredibly frustrating!

The decision-makers are held accountable for their investment in PR, either to the board or a financial controller.  How does it make them look if they’re questioned as to what they’ll get in return and all they can come back with is “er, dunno, that’s the problem with PR, nothing is guaranteed but we’ve been told we should expect some ‘good results’.”

However, if they can go back and say, “Well, if we invest $50,000, of which $30,000 will go on media relations work, we have been told we should expect a minimum of $90,000 worth (probably even more) of great press coverage or we get our money back,” then it makes it far easier for the bean counters to tick the ‘yes’ box.

We stand by our ROI promise.  the pr shop is the only PR agency in New Zealand that offers any kind of guarantee. If we don’t think we can deliver, we won’t take the business – it’s in keeping with our ‘no bullshit’ philosophy.

We post our average ROI on our facebook page on a quarterly basis to give you an idea as to how we are performing for our clients – so why not ‘like‘ us and keep tabs on how we’re doing?

Beer-drinking bride controversy becomes a global phenomenon

Taranaki Beer Drinking Bride
Far and away this week’s hottest media story has been the image of Taranaki’s beer-drinking bride. The story has certainly polarized opinion in our office (our girls love their beer – Lion of course). And the fierce debate has continued unabated all this week as the news has spread to become a global sensation.
Newspapers and websites as far afield as England, Australia, United States, Brazil, China and India have featured the story and one of America’s biggest online news sites, msnbc.com, reported it was receiving 45,000 “clicks” an hour on the photo. But regardless of which side of the fence you fall: “it’s cheap, crass and disgusting” or “it’s 2012, if a woman wants to drink beer out of a bottle while wearing a wedding dress –that’s her prerogative”, it gives us a fascinating insight into how newspapers operate.
It is rare to see a newspaper editor print an article justifying his decision to run a particular story, but that’s what happened. Roy Pilott, Editor of the Taranaki Daily News published anopinion article of his own in which he commented: “I knew that running the shot on the front page would ensure Monday’s edition would get people talking. This shot was a winner on several fronts – it had humour, it was not posed, it was a picture of our people, and it was unique. The selection of pictures is often made not on news value, but on the success the photographer has had in getting a memorable shot. Quite simply, in news there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to selection, but there is accountability. I am happy to stand accused of challenging readers. Journalists face a daily challenge to come up with something different, because doing news by rote is boring.”
And what of the woman concerned – well Katrina Hayman seems to be all enjoying the media attention and has co-operated with a number of interviews and has even posed for photographers drinking beer with her husband in a local bar (thankfully Steinlager Pure this time round).
Looking at the bigger picture (not the one of the beer drinking bride), no one outside of New Zealand (and possibly even many Kiwis themselves) had ever heard of the Taranaki Daily News before – and now it’s an international sensation. We would imagine the editor is feeling quite smug right now and we expect he will treat himself to a few beers tonight.
At the end of the day it’s been a great bit of PR for him and the newspaper!