10 tips for constructing an engaging speech


Giving a speech can be pretty daunting. There’s intense pressure to be confident, project your personality, engage the audience and be coherent all at the same time.

Most of us naturally associate the burden of speeches with being on stage, where nerves take over and stage fright rears its ugly head. It’s easy to forget about actually putting time into preparing the content of your speech.

If you take the time to carefully control the flow, structure and timing, people will understand you better – which is half the job already done.

Here are some helpful tips on how to write and plan the content of your speech, so you can take over the world one microphone at a time.

1. Think about your audience

Know who you are speaking to – are you talking to students at a study hall, media guests at a launch event, or corporate VIPs at a business convention? Being aware of your audience will help set the tone and delivery of your speech.

2. Evaluating, and understanding your topic  

Imagine explaining something you are deeply passionate about to someone, be it food, music, or politics. You have no qualms about waxing lyrical because you are familiar and have extensive knowledge about the subject.

Knowing and understanding the topic of your speech will help ensure you have the confidence to express yourself better and do a phenomenal job at delivering the message. Research the subject of your speech, and know it inside out – your new-found confidence will do the rest.

3. Brainstorm

List as many potential talking points as you can. I like to think of it as ‘word vomit’ – regurgitating as many issues and points about your topic as possible. Take a minute to review that list, and pick out the relevant and important points, and use those to create the base and structure of your speech.

4. Build a structure

Focusing on the important points will help to provide some structure, maximising the delivery of your speech. Your audience will appreciate your your practised pace and flow, which will engage them, preventing them from tuning out and getting bored.

5. Introduction

Grab the audience’s attention from the start – make a joke, share an interesting fact, tell a story or share a personal experience. Get the message across in three points or less to avoid unnecessary droning on before you delve into the details.

6. Body 

Keep it short and simple – less is more. The key is to keep things as succinct as possible, to ensure you don’t ramble on out of nervousness. This is easier said than done, but using the structure as a guide will help focus on the messaging.

Throughout the entirety of your speech, it’s also important to remember to project your voice, talk slower than what feels natural and inflect your tone when appropriate so your voice remains engaging, not dull.  

7. Repetition, repetition, repetition…

Build on your intensity and impact by repeating the important points.

Martin Luther King boldly repeated, “I have a dream”, but if you find that repeating too much of an overkill, try instead to repeat things like brands, names or important points you want your audience to remember.

8. One killer line

Martin Luther King had, “I have a dream”. John F Kennedy had “…ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can for your country.”

Can you come up with your own killer one-liner? Put some thought into a moving or impactful statement that encapsulates your speech. It should pack a punch, making your speech a lot more thoughtful and memorable.

9. Conclusion

There’s no need to stress too much about “ending with a bang”. Try leaving it up to the audience, such as opening up the floor to questions. This is also one of the best ways to discover how effective your speech was and gives you an opportunity to sense the energy of your audience. Do they seem excited and eager to ask more questions? Or are they slumped in their seats, eyes glazed and lifeless?

Either way, there is always something to take away from the end of your speech – use this as a lesson for next time.

10. Never stop practicing!

You can never practice a speech too much – read it aloud alone, practice in front of your friends, record yourself and play it back. This is especially useful if you have a strict time limit, but numerous points you need to get across. Listen to constructive feedback and use it to help you improve.

Main image: Shout out to boss-man Joseph Barratt, who is shown giving a great speech at Mutant Communications’ 3rd birthday party recently. Photo by Soh Poh Soo Donald.

If you’re looking for media training for interviews, broadcast or public speaking, get in touch with Farah at [email protected]  

6 striking similarities between public relations and networking


Having worked in the PR and communications field over the past decade, I’m used to both pitching to journalists as well as formulating the strategy and angle behind a good story.

Recently though, I embarked on something new and completed a two-year, part-time stint helping to run and manage The Athena Network, a networking organisation for female entrepreneurs, It was uncanny how similar the process was to get results from networking and PR, particularly regarding people’s attitudes towards both.

Those with a long-term, positive approach would make great connections or attract press coverage while those who were impatient and took an ad hoc approach would miss out.

Here are the most important similarities:

1. Getting results requires a long-term strategy

People who expect instant results never achieve what they want to. You wouldn’t meet someone at a networking event for the first time and then expect them to give you the huge contract you’ve been waiting for (if this has actually happened to you, let me know so I can eat my words!) The same goes for getting results out of a public relations campaign.

I’ve so often heard attendees at events say, “this isn’t for me; I didn’t meet any customers/clients for my business during this event”. With PR, we hear the same thing – “can you guarantee immediate coverage for my brand?”

Both involve building gradual relationships to develop credibility and trust. When you meet someone once, it doesn’t mean they will recall you when you meet again six months later. But meet them on a regular basis and you’ll be far more likely to be referred for future business. Public relations takes the same approach with media, gradually build profiles from the ground up so clients can be remembered by the press and called on for comment or invited to panel discussions on a regular basis, not just covered for one article and never thought of again.

2. Attention to detail is a must!

With networking, try and have a system that works for you to remember people and all the details surrounding what they do, or the project they’re working on. This helps when trying to establish a firm rapport, which not only opens up the conversation, but shows you’re truly interested in them.

With the press, remember what they’ve covered recently – chances are they won’t want to cover the same content again soon. Remembering these small details sets you apart and sets the stage for the next meeting.  

3. It’s all about the art of storytelling 

In a networking scenario, your introduction about yourself or your company is called an elevator pitch. With the media, it’s referred to as a story angle. Either way, what you do and why you do it is greatly improved through the art of storytelling. Answering a ‘what’ question with a ‘why’ answer is the best way to do this. 

For example, if someone asks what you do, instead of replying with a simple, “I’m an accountant” why not give some more context about your story?

“I work in accounting. I actually have always had a thing for numbers and maths, and found myself helping my parents with their tax returns at 16-years-old. I realised pretty soon after that was my calling, and I set up my own accounting practice five years ago.”

Isn’t that so much more memorable? People won’t usually remember every person’s profession, but they definitely remember a good story.

4. Repetition, repetition, repetition

Establishing yourself as an expert and thought leader both through networking and the media is not a one-step process. As mentioned, a long-term, regular approach goes a long way to build credibility and the catalyst for this repetition.

The more we repeat, the more our message is remembered. This repetition isn’t just about your words and message, its about being repeatedly seen and heard. If a potential client sees you once at an event, they’re unlikely to remember you. But if you happen to meet them at events on a regular basis, you’re more likely to become part of their regular circles. 

The optimal outcome of regular networking is when other people start becoming your advocates. Likewise with the media, the more they see you being covered and hear your message and expertise, the more likely they are to call on you for your respected opinion and contribution.

5. Ask questions… then really listen

If you approach your networking and PR efforts with the ethos that it’s not all about you, you will achieve far greater results. There’s nothing more flattering than when someone is genuinely interested in you and wants to know more about your work. Rather than pushing your own agenda, take time to ask smart, meaningful questions. I know we’re all busy and really want to forge ahead with getting our call-to-action out there, but a good relationship needs to be cultivated genuinely and without false pretenses. Plus, you’ll notice most of the time that once you’ve taken a real interest in someone, that they are equally as likely to show the same curiosity about you and your work.

The key here is to listen. What problems are people facing with their work? Is there anything you can do or a service you can provide to help? But don’t jump in just yet with your pitch! Find a way to integrate your suggestions only after you’ve listened to their whole story. You never know what important detail you might miss. 

With journalists, really listen to what stories they’re looking for and what beats they cover. There is no point in pitching a fashion story to a business journalist (most of the time.) Find out exactly what they want and frame your messaging to their needs.

6. Don’t leave them hanging!

There is no point taking two precious hours out of your day to attend an event if you’re not going to do your homework afterward. Make sure that as soon as you’re back at your desk, you follow up and thank them for the great conversation. This is your time to make suggestions, ask for a follow-up meeting or bring up a new discussion.

The same goes for interviews with the media. If you were invited to speak on the radio, make sure you or your PR representative is following up after by thanking the journalist for their time. Feel free to use this as a chance to suggest future topics or stories which you might be able to contribute on.

Make sure all those business cards you’ve been collecting are actually being used, rather than just lining a shoebox.

If you’d like to discuss the potential for public relations for your business, please contact me at [email protected]

8 tricks to write a viral headline


Before you pen your next blog post, stop what you’re doing and read these writing tips for more clickable and shareable content.

It’s fairly easy to argue that the headline is more important than the article. It’s not always true, of course, but when most people only read about 50% of your content, drawing them in with a strong, attention-grabbing headline is a must.

It’s easy to leave the headline as an afterthought, but it’s what gets you noticed. Amid millions of articles, tips, advice and blog posts out there, you need to stand out and get in front of your audience in an interesting, unique and confronting way.

But the art of the headline is a difficult one to master, and it often takes even experienced writers years to understand how to construct one effectively. To help you in your quest for excellent content, we’ve got a few headline tips to get you started.   

1. Keep the headline to 6 words

Your audience is lazy. They like to have loads of content available to them, but they can’t be bothered actually reading all of it. It’s reason the inverted pyramid exists in news writing, and why a former editor told me to “write as though you are targeting a bunch of fidgeting 12-year-olds, rather than educated adults”.

You want to draw people in as fast as possible, and a succinct headline is the best way to do that. Keeping it to six words isn’t a hard and fast rule (sometimes longer headlines can work in your favour, depending on the content and platform you are writing for) but it’s a decent guideline to make sure you don’t waffle on.

2. Tap into your audience’s insecurities

Don’t feel bad about this – the news media has been doing it for decades. For some reason, the human race responds better to negativity. I’m not sure whether it’s because we like being miserable or because we have a morbid fascination with things that are bad and wrong (or both.) All I know is that it works.

For example, these are taken from a mix of the BBC and CNN’s homepages this morning:

Hiring? Avoid the friend zone
Google doesn’t care about your alma mater
China’s growth set to be slowest since ‘09
The worst place on earth

Negative headlines work best (i.e. get more clicks) when they inform and alert. Think about how you can use words like “no”, “stop”, “can’t” and “without” in your headlines or sub-headlines for added impact.

3. Track keywords

Let’s all take a moment to praise the development of analytics!

With the ability to track and follow the traffic your articles are generating, it’s very easy nowadays to pinpoint (over time) the types of articles and headlines that work well for you, and the ones that don’t.

At a previous job, we worked out pretty quickly that our audience liked to read about money; headlines with the keywords “money”, “salary”, “cash” and “pay” got significantly more clickthroughs.

It highly depends on your audience. If you’re writing for parents and mothers, words like “baby” and “childcare” might be some of your top keywords, while for a restaurant words like “menu” or “food” could be gold.

4. Make sure the headline matches the article

It’s easy to get caught up in writing the most attention-grabbing headline, only to end up with something that is actually misleading and over-inflated.

If you’ve managed to pull someone in to click on your article, don’t send them running and rolling their eyes when they realise they’ve been duped by clickbait. I personally dislike it when an article claims to have 7 unbelievable ways to [insert promise here] – especially when the tips are actually quite believable. Useful? Yes. Unbelievable? No.

The same applies for amazing” and incredible”. Unless it really is amazing, try to be a bit more creative.

5. Use numbers

99 things to do in New Zealand works so much better than Ninety-nine things to do in New Zealand.

Using a number is easier on the eye, and it stands out from the rest of the sentence. As we’ve already established, people are lazy – they want to read the most interesting articles in the most efficient way possible. Numbers and lists will do this for them.

6. Use a trigger word

How to create a viral blog post
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The trigger words are a must for viral content. People read blogs not only to look for information, but to find answers to questions they didn’t even know they needed answers to.

Using the ‘how, what, when where, why’ method indicates immediately to a reader that they are likely to learn something by clicking on your post.

7. To question or not to question?

Struggling to get ahead at work?
Looking for your dream home?
Are you missing this vital ingredient in your PR strategy?

The question headline can be incredibly effective when targeted at the right audience you know are looking for answers. It can sometimes sound a bit advertorial, but the power of the question should not be undermined.

8. Create a formula that works for you

I once read a formula for the perfect headline which went something like:

Number/trigger word + interesting adjective + keyword = PERFECT HEADLINE

So, say you want to write about how to peel an orange (because, why wouldn’t you?) start by thinking about the formula. Instead of “How to peel an orange” you might end up with:

12 effortless ways to peel an orange


How to peel an orange in less than 30 seconds

or (in question form)

Is your orange peeling technique out of date?

It can often add an extra impact to include an assurance or guarantee in your headline. It could be to do with time (hence the “in less than 30 seconds” in this example) or something more substantial like, “How to peel an orange like a professional chef”.

Go forth and be viral! But if you need some help crafting, planning and putting a strategy around your content to drive business leads, feel free to get in touch with Rebecca at [email protected] 

Content marketing checklist

Blogging: The missing weapon from a recruiter’s talent toolbox

A lot of recruiters are quick to be dismissive of blogs. Too often, blogs are viewed as a sort of corporate ‘Dear Diary’, or a place to simply post press releases or in-house news.

But while that may have been what blogging started out as, the power of the written word has moved well beyond this.

By not realising the potential of a strategic content plan, you are doing yourself, your business and potential talent a huge disservice. Why? Let me put it this way:

As a recruiter, you’ve probably tried everything. You’ve posted job ads, and tweaked the wording to get it justright. You’ve updated your LinkedIn profile – both personal and corporate – and invested a lot of time and money into social media strategies to reach talent on Twitter, Facebook and everything else in between. You’ve probably explored recruiting software, re-designed your website and landing pages, put a lot of work into SEO, as well as hired and fired a few recruiters and talent acquisition specialists, all in the pursuit of finding the right people for your business and/or your clients.

It’s a hard game, and the terms aren’t fair. A squeezed labour market makes your job even more difficult, and maybe you feel like you’re running out of options. How do you get the attention of the people you’re trying to reach in a sophisticated way?

This is where blogging can add value. I’m not saying it’s a silver bullet, but it’s an incredibly important aspect of connecting employers with talent. As an inbound marketing tool, blogging is about earning your customers – and their loyalty – by gaining their trust.

So, how do you get started in helping your business blog its way to success?

(You might also want to check out our article on how to write good blog posts!)


Understand your own objectives

With blogging you have to start at the beginning. What are your ultimate goals? What would be the best outcome from your recruitment strategy? If you start blogging without an idea of why you’re blogging, you’ll just end up going off-message and off-brand, and miss the opportunities altogether.

What talent do you want to attract?

As part of this initial goal-posting, you need to consider what kind of talent you’re trying to attract. If you recruit in-house across multiple departments, do you know what each business unit leader is looking for in an ideal candidate? For agencies, do you understand each of your client’s specific talent needs?

Now think from that perfect candidate’s point of view. What are they looking for in a job? What does their dream job look like? What might their career goals be and why would they want to work for you?

Aligning these thoughts should give you dozens of bullet points, which is a fantastic place to start.

Create a content calendar

See all those bullet points you just wrote down? Here’s where they come in handy. Create a calendar of editorial content by expanding on those points.

For example, if you’ve written down that you are looking for Singaporean engineers with international experience, that’s not one blog post idea – it’s 20. You could share insights on the hiring situation for engineers, highlight skills successful engineers develop, discuss how Singapore engineers can use LinkedIn to build their professional network, or how they can use LinkedIn to find a job. The list continues.

The beauty of blogging is that it allows you to cover the same topic and target the same people from multiple different angles, and appeal to the niche interests of your target audience, without getting repetitive.

The calendar aspect helps you decide what the headline will be, when to run it and who will write it.

Get social with it

Simply posting a blog to your company website isn’t enough. While you may have a small audience who go there directly, chances are you’re going to reach talent via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, which amplifies your content to a much larger network.

It’s best to fit this into a strong social media strategy, which will include much more than just re-posting blogs, and it’s an important part of helping to convert blog readers into customers/talent. Be wary of the need for different voices on different platforms – the way you reach people on Twitter is incredibly different to how you reach people on LinkedIn.

Know how to measure success (and use a call to action!)

There’s a reason why we at Mutant encourage at least a six-month engagement for any content campaign – because it takes time to build a voice and a following. Content is not a quick fix, nor should it be. It is a planned, ongoing strategy for genuine engagement with a target audience.

But by measuring its effect over time, you’ll start to see some real results. Using analytics platforms, you can view who is reading your content, where they clicked on it, where they clicked afterwards, where they are based, and much, much more. By including a call to action (i.e. an “Apply Now” button at the bottom of a relevant blog post) you will encourage lead generations and turn sometimes readers into customers.

Blogging is a much more powerful tool than many give it credit for. Over time, providing potential and passive talent with quality content will not only put you at the front of their minds and show them you understand their needs and interests, but it  will help educate them, too.

Get in touch with us at [email protected] if you’re interested in creating compelling, meaningful and targeted content for your business. 


Finding talent: Set your sights on social recruitment

Firstly, if your organisation is relatively new to the social media recruitment game, a warm welcome.

Secondly, what took you so long?

Chances are you’ve been involved in some sort of social recruiting for a while now. As recruiters, business leaders or burgeoning start-ups, you will have been “making connections” all over the place with people whom you deem to be ideal talent for your company. But the problem isn’t about connecting, it’s about connecting with the right people, in the right places and at the right times.

As part of a well-rounded recruitment strategy AND a strong marketing strategy (yes, sometimes the two go hand-in-hand), social media can offer a wealth of tools to help your business find the talent it so desperately needs.

If you’re not sure whether your efforts are on track, read on and ask yourself whether you’re really optimising the true benefits of all things social.

First, decide on your social approach

Social media is a beast, and it can’t be controlled with ad hoc posts, links, images and status updates. If it were as simple as “I think we’ll launch a company LinkedIn page today”, a lot more businesses out there would be successful with their social media game.

The ones who do it well are those who have a plan. They have taken the time to answer questions like, who are we targeting? What’s our ultimate objective? How will we respond to people who engage with us? What will our key messaging be? If you don’t have a business-led purpose behind your social media strategy, you’re not going to get the most out of your efforts or find the talent you’re ultimately hoping to reach.

Where do your future employees hang out?

A social media strategy is about quality, not quantity. Well, it can be about quantity on a carefully selected number of social platforms, but it shouldn’t be about opening an account on every single social space and ramming how wonderful your company is down people’s throats. Do you want to spam people? Because that’s how you spam people.

To avoid diluted messaging and jumping into social sites just because they’re new or popular, you need to understand where you can reach your potential candidates online. Companies searching for executive talent, for example, are going to have a much higher success rate focusing on LinkedIn, while firms looking to fill dozens of service jobs on short notice will have more luck on Twitter and Facebook.

It’s about who you are, not what you do

Your employer brand is everything. Your employee value proposition – what you offer talent (other than money) in exchange for their hard work – is what sells you to candidates. But this doesn’t necessarily need to be spelled out for them. Instead, it should be part of an organic, genuine and carefully-planned strategy which utilises social media to showcase your people.

Don’t tell people on your company Facebook page how awesome you are – show them. Use videos, articles, employee Q&A and more (by the way, this is where content marketing comes in very handy) to exhibit your business as a great place to work.

Use calls to action, fresh content and interesting visuals

If you’re on Twitter, you know how fast it moves. If you’re on Facebook, you know that you stop scrolling once you come to a post you’ve already seen. Social recruiting needs to stay fresh, with interesting and new content to keep people engaged.

Original, value-added material produces better results than anything else. If you have data to share, why not create an infographic? Is that article you want to link to only interesting to you, or does it resonate with targeted talent you’re trying to reach? Why post a boring old job ad when you could write articles about the benefits of working at your company, which ultimately leads them to ‘like’ and ‘follow’ you. This interaction is so much more valuable.

Is your CEO social?

If you work at a big global company, chances are you have a well-known leader who has somewhat of a large online presence. But if your CEO isn’t well-known…well, why not?

Positioning businesses heads as thought leaders is an ongoing strategy as part of a wider content campaign, but it’s one of the best ways to directly engage with talent you want to attract. In fact, it doesn’t even need to be your CEO, and they don’t need to post heavily.

Laszlo Bock, Google’s head of people, is the man who hires and fires at the tech giant (which makes him the ultimate connection for every Google wannabe). He’s an influencer, but he doesn’t post heavily on LinkedIn – in fact, he’s only done 5 posts to date – but he has more than 130,000 followers and his most-read post has been seen more than 2 million times. Why? It’s partly because what he says matters to people and adds value, but also he’s created wonderful dialogue around recruitment, HR and working at Google. He is interesting and genuine, and he shares data, company “secrets” and strong, well-thought out opinions and advice.

Immediate and direct engagement is everything. Think about how you can use your country heads, managing directors and CEOs to help you reach the people you need.

Above all, be authentic

It’s a talent’s marketplace, and when it comes to choosing a job and career path, they have the power. In Asia, low unemployment means a tight labour market, which means if you give potential candidates any reason to believe you’re not as genuine as your competitor, they’ll pick up on it right away and take a job elsewhere.

Even worse? They do take a job with you, only to leave six months later because it wasn’t what they were promised. In whatever social interactions you have with talent via social media, don’t overpromise. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not and, for goodness sake, don’t lie.

An authentic and ‘real’ employer brand voice can speak louder than all the chatter on all the social media platforms put together. A genuine message is where your talent efforts should begin and end.

Need help with social media? Drop a message to [email protected] 

The dos and don’ts of media interviews

When it comes to publicity, as Richard Branson once said: “A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad”.

And it’s true – a good PR story is what every person, professional and business wants. But understanding how that story is crafted and the role the interview plays in the entire PR process is where people lack an incredible amount of knowledge.

The media is your best friend and your worst enemy. Understanding how journalists operate and what editors want is essential to building your story. Members of the media, like you, have their own objectives and – let me absolutely frank here – none of their goals are around helping you build your brand. However, if you’re able to understand what they want and how to position your story in a way that will interest their readers, then you’re light years ahead of most people.

If you are prepared, you can turn the interview into something truly beneficial for yourself and your business.

If you don’t know why your story is newsworthy or how to present this to the media, then perhaps it’s time for you to hire a PR expert. But in the meantime, here are a few tips to broaden your understanding.

  • DO understand what “off the record” actually means

Rule number one: If you have just finished the interview and turn to the journalist and say, “by the way, that stuff I said about XYZ was off the record”, I have some news for you: it was absolutely, 100% NOT off the record. If you have a good relationship with the journalist and you’ve just realised you let something confidential slip, then you might have a chance to retract it, but otherwise… you’ve effed up.

Stating something is off the record is a game of trust; it doesn’t legally require any journalist not to publish something, or absolve you of responsibility around something you said. That being said, most journalists will honour the request if you state beforehand which comments are off the record.

  • DO also understand the importance of exclusivity

Press conferences are great, but sometimes a journalist is looking for something new and exclusive from you when they approach you afterwards for comment.

If a journalist has spent time gathering information about something and then asks you about it – and you answer them – don’t then go and tell every other journalist you know what their fresh story angle is. Honouring the fact the journo has done the hard work is something that goes a long way to build trust in an on-going media relationship.

  • DO your research and come prepared

You should do your research on the publication and the journalist interviewing you. They may not like it, but it’s all part of the game (and they’ve done all the same research on you, of course.) Often, your PR agency or internal communications will do this for you, but if not, just give them a quick Google.

Go into the interview understanding the kind of stories the newspaper or magazine runs, the tone of the articles the journalist writes and their interview style. If you can get an idea of whether the journalist is a total ball buster or a more friendly interviewer, you’ll have a better idea about how to prepare any responses.

  • DO learn how to answer the same question three different ways

Some journalists love to do this thing where they’ll ask the same question a number of different ways to try and get as much information out of you as possible. It’s an effective tactic, and it also lets them know of any holes in your facts.

Unless what you’re being interviewed about is controversial or scandalous, you don’t really need to worry too much about this, but it can’t hurt to practise a few different ways to answer the hard question you know they’re going to ask you.

  • DO keep your emotions in check

A sudden angry outburst or stream of emotion is never a good thing in an interview. Keep it professional – even if it’s difficult. Some journalists will probe knowing full well it is frustrating you, but absolutely nothing good comes from letting them see the steam coming out of your ears.

  • DO have a PR professional on hand

Public relations staff are there to act as support during an interview, so if you need to, use them. However, journalists hate it when an interview subject repeatedly turns to their PR person for direction, so avoid using them as a crutch. Instead, practice your answers ahead of time and work together to have a clear idea of how you will (or won’t) approach certain questions.

  • DON’T turn down an interview with no reason given

If a journalist calls you for an interview and you’re not interested, don’t turn them down without giving them a legitimate reason. Legitimate. If you keep fobbing them off because you “don’t have time”, they won’t buy it, but if you say you can’t speak at the moment because you’re bound by an internal communications policy, then tell them that. And always, always honour their request as soon as you are able to talk.

  • DON’T tell the journalist what kind of questions to ask

There’s nothing a journalist hates more than being told how to do their job. Think about the times when someone might have questioned your credibility or ability to operate – it’s not nice, is it? At the end of the day, it will put the journalist in a bad mood and could sour the relationship. One day, you might want them to ask you certain questions about a new product or a positive business story, and maybe they just won’t.

  • DON’T argue if they change their line of questioning

Journalists are often asked to provide a line of questioning ahead of an interview. Some will do it, others absolutely will not (in Asia, this practice is more common, but in other regions a journalist will scoff if you ask for their questions ahead of time.)

If they have given you questions, be aware these are only a guide. Depending on the flow of the interview, how well you answer questions and the direction the conversation goes, a journalist will almost always change their line of questioning or ask additional ones. Don’t point out that they’re not sticking to the plan – or they’ll stick you the middle finger.

  • DON’T answer with “no comment”

If you can’t or won’t answer a question the journalist really wants an answer to, be prepared for them to source the information from elsewhere.

Where possible, it’s not recommended to respond with “no comment”. It leaves your position vulnerable and the subject matter open to discussion on the basis that they have sought a right of reply from you (for a fair and balanced article) and you’ve simply told them you’re not interested.

If you cannot comment, tell them why. Legal reasons and confidentiality agreements are legitimate answers (provided they’re true) and if you simply don’t know the answer, let them know. Tell them you’ll look into it and get back to them, and then honour that commitment.

  • DON’T lie, spin or ‘tweak’ the truth. Ever.

Lies have a way of being exposed, and your reputation will be hugely damaged if you were found to be fudging information. Not only will the interview have been a complete waste of time, it will make you and your company look dishonest, unprofessional and foolish.

Need help with media interviews? Drop a message to [email protected] 

Ex-Human Resources Editor Rebecca Lewis calls Mutant home

Mutant Communications is absolutely thrilled to welcome Rebecca Lewis as account director of our HR practice! Formerly the editor of Human Resources magazine, Rebecca will spearhead our expanding HR practice, which offers specialised public relations and content marketing services for HR and recruitment clients in Singapore and wider Asia.

Rebecca’s addition is part of our exciting growth strategy focused on expanding our three key practices –human resources; luxury, lifestyle and events; and media and technology.

As a mutant, Rebecca will play a key role in business development – introducing Mutant’s services to leading recruitment firms and HR providers, whilst managing important client relationships and leading accounts. Her strong editorial background and extensive knowledge of Asia’s media landscape gives us a strong edge as a PR and content powerhouse.

Rebecca definitely has street cred – she was editor at Human Resources magazine for three years, where she helmed content creation for the publication’s print and online assets across Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. She is a frequent host of HR conferences, roundtables and events for senior industry professionals, and boosted the magazine’s online reach by more than 300 per cent during her tenure. Rebecca has also served as editor of leading expat publication ANZA magazine and reported for the Herald on Sunday, one of New Zealand’s leading newspapers.

A quick word from Rebecca:

“I’m thrilled to lead the fast-expanding HR practice at Mutant, an agency that differentiates itself with quality content and public relations know-how for specific industries. Mutant is set to grow twice as large in 2015 and we’re poised for solid business expansion.”

Say hello to Rebecca at [email protected] or follow her on LinkedIn for her thoughts on marketing, PR and HR industries.

Top 5 tips for an effective PR campaign

How is it that it’s already September? More than half of the year has passed, and with it, came along bittersweet, monumental events. The World Cup, for instance was a month long, nail biting competition that was full of emotions, surprises and… phenomenal opportunities for PR and marketing firms to get creative with their campaigns.

That Suarez biting saga for instance, triggered F&B creative agencies to jump on the bandwagon, creating viral campaigns out of the situation. Meats Category Director of Mattesson, a UK based processing meat company, candidly made a public offer to Suarez for the job as a meat taster. Similarly, Snickers chocolate bar came up with a tagline, “More satisfying than an Italian”, while a trending hashtag of #bansuarez began to trickle down the interweb’s grapevine.

While it is evident that timeliness and trends add a little “bite” in your campaigns, what really makes you stand out and reach your intended audience?

With that being said, here are a few hot tips to consider.

 1. Get those creative juices flowing

Creativity is the key to success. It is important to effectively exercise creativity in a digital space.  A good PR campaign is thought provoking, and reaches out to your target market without coming across as too try-hard. It easily communicates with people, enforcing a natural response to your brand, allowing people to embrace it rather than having it forced on them.

2. Don’t underestimate the real power of social media

Social media is one of the most cost effective methods, and one that shows no signs of slowing down, especially in Southeast Asia (for tips on how to communicate your brand in this region, read our posthere.)

It is easily one of the best ways to interact with a mass audience across the globe. For instance Calvin Kleinlaunched a campaign, encouraging users to post a ‘selfie’ wearing an item from the brand with the hashtag #mycalvins. The campaign reached around 250 million people, successfully engaging directly with their core demographic.

3. Visually stimulate through video

Video engagement proved to be the highest activity online, especially among Singaporeans, so don’t be shy to get in front of the camera and show the world what you can do. In addition, with the rise of video mobile apps introduced to the market, like the latest Hyperlapse from Instagram, creating a short clip can now be done at the flick of a button, being a lot more accessible and powerful than ever.

The recent viral explosion of the Ice Bucket Challenge across social media has taken the interweb by storm.  As an effort to raise awareness of ALS disease, participants (including many celebrities and influencers) were encouraged to dump a bucket of ice on one’s self, donate to the charity and then nominate others to partake.

4. Bring meaning to your campaign

The ice bucket challenge has definitely gotten its fair share of attention, and naturally, debates have also swelled. Skeptics have argued about the messaging getting lost within frivolity of the act. With this in mind, it is crucial to not have the message be too disparate with the brand’s campaign. On the flipside, an interesting article on Forbes by Matthew Herper defended the movement with some pretty valid points.

Participation and likes may lose its appeal quickly if the messaging is weak. Proving the real worth of a campaign is through meaningful ROI. Bring more value by educating and gaining some insight into your audience.

5. Consumer Trends


Lastly, keeping abreast with the latest trends, from new apps, to the latest publications, and even current affairs, enables you to better understand consumers and the media. This greatly helps in being able to communicate your message across more efficiently landing your brand the recognition it deserves.

Got an announcement to make about your brand? Let the people know through a press release, download our checklist on crafting the perfect media release here.

If you’d like to discuss your public relations approach, get in touch with us at [email protected]
Hy! Berlin Summit 2014 image by Heisenberg Media is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Common myths of Public Relations – and what we really do

Public relations gets a lot of flack. It often stems from a misunderstanding of what is actually required in the role. From hedonistic party animals, to the bane of many journalists’ existence, PR people have been brandished with many negative stereotypes.

I will try to banish the common myths associated with PR by sharing a basic rundown of what actually gets done in the office (besides the daily tipple or two, and hanging out at the VIP section of the club during the weekends).

The Bad Spin

“Without PR, Cinderella was just a drunk princess who lost her shoes at a party.”

The PR spin is often mistaken for deceit, when it really is quite the opposite. We pride ourselves on conducting thorough research and coming up with creative story ideas to help enhance your brand’s credibility. We are honest storytellers with sincere motives and we are keen on sharing with the public what our clients do.

Never say no

Our aim is to run a campaign that meets our clients’ needs, and this leads to the next misconception – that we are pushovers incapable of saying no. Which leads to the accusation of incessant and irrelevant pitching. (For our fellow PR friends and marketers, here are some tips on pitching gracefully to the media).

In actual fact, we first listen to our client’s needs, then consult with them on a suitable media strategy, and establish clear expectations on what we can deliver. We foster confidence and reassure clients that sometimes, the story they want to tell is not going to fly with the media or public. It’s our job to help them craft a message and strategy that will be valuable and of interest to news outlets.

Sticking to the old school

Some traditional PR methods still stand the test of time, but as consumer trends evolve, so does PR. Old PR approaches would include writing a press release and pushing it to media. These days we’re looking at all the channels available to a brand to reach out to their audience.  This means staying on the pulse of changes in marketing, social media, search engine algorithms, inbound marketing and much more – these trends provide fascinating user insights that will complement traditional efforts.


Good PR is more than hardselling stories to journalists or glorifying brands to sway public perception – we are about telling engaging, newsworthy and truthful brand stories across the most suitable platforms. Only then will the media and public start trusting a brand and its products.

13 rules when writing a press release


To find out how Mutant can help with your PR efforts, drop us a line at [email protected].

Disney – Cinderella Castle Mosaic Selective Coloring image by Joe Penniston is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


How to spring clean your website and improve your search ranking

So, you want to come up first on Google?

That’s great! And it’s definitely possible. But first there is a lot of spring cleaning and forward planning that needs to be done.

Old social media pages

Remember that Bebo page? And your Myspace account? So does Google. But if you don’t want to associate with them any more, they need to go.

Let’s call these your social media ghosts. Any old social profiles, any spammy links you might have bulk-purchased back in the day when companies sold you links to boost your SEO, and any rogue URLs. Delete, delete, delete.

Google Webmaster has some great tools to determine the quality of your site and flag any duplicate content – sign yourself up and then use these to do a clean up. Do that now, and don’t come back to this blog post until you’re done.

For a free website audit with Mutant, click here!

Look and feel

Ok! Next step – UPDATE. Just as we update our wardrobe for a new season, we need to update our sites for search (and look and feel – get rid of any nasty 90s WordArt or strobe-like flashy ads while you’re at it).


It sounds technical but it’s really not. Ensure every page is pushed as much as it can – we call this optimisation – to boost your search rankings. You may have seen the fields in the back-end of your website – now’s the time to fill them in. The most important ones to keep in mind:

  • Title:
  • Meta description:
  • H1:
  • ALT Tag:
  • Content

Check the basics first – is your contact information, services page and client list up-to-date? Do you need to take some fresh pics of your team?

Now look at the copy on your pages, and your blog. You might have laid out your top predictions for 2013 – go back and evaluate those predictions. Were you on the mark or not? If your “latest trends” piece was published back in 2007, change the headline to something a little more retrospective, then write a new post bringing you into the new age of 2014.

Internal linking

Then set about creating internal links between your old blogs and the pages on your site. The more of a web you create, the more likely you are to keep readers on your site. So, if we go back to that Latest Trends piece, update your commentary to 2014, compare and link to your 2007 blog, and make sure you also create links throughout your site, perhaps to your Services, Contact, or home page.

You are likely to feel a wave of nostalgia as you read through your old blogs. Use it! This is your chance to use the #throwbackthursday #TBT hashtag on Twitter or Instagram and share it on Google+.

Next steps

Now, that you’ve had your website spring clean, it’s time to LEVERAGE all the tools and connections in your arsenal.

There are actually a lot of free tools out there that have a big impact on your searchability. You should have an updated profile on Google Places, your details should be correct in the Yellow Pages, and you should set yourselves up on business review site Yelp.

Having an active Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Google + account will also boost you up the rankings – again, it goes back to building that rich web in which to trap searches.

You should also leverage existing relationships you have with clients, clubs, chambers of commerce and tradeshows.

Customer stories are excellent “social proof” of your quality. Ask your clients if they can write a testimonial for you to display on your site, and offer to do the same in return for a link. If anyone mentions your brand or displays your logo on their page, encourage them to link to your website, and if you can write something for them – like a guest blog – make sure it links back to your business.

Now you can set about LURING your audience in with exciting content that will entertain and enrich anyone who comes across. Remember, the ultimate goal is to get people to your site, and to keep them there.

Take some time to sit down with your team and map out your audience profile to determine who you are talking to, what they are looking for, and what content you can create that will attract and engage them. Then start blogging!


N.B: A point to note on guest blogging:

Guest blogging should not replicate text on your own blog as you can risk compete for authority, meaning, their site might trump yours in search, and Google might then punish you for “copying” their content. Also make sure the site you are submitting to is authoritative, relevant and trustworthy – you don’t want your guest blogging to be detrimental your brand.

To find out about Mutant Communications’ content marketing packages for businesses, drop us a line at [email protected]

The Golden Circle – Focusing on the ‘Why’ in your communications

Google dethroned tech darling Apple on the 2014 BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brand ranking released days ago. The departure of their charismatic leader, business choke-ups and perceived lack of innovation in recent times likely played a part in Apple’s gradual decline – but few will disagree that Apple is still one of the most important and trend-setting companies in the world.

This news reminded me of a spellbinding TED talk by business guru Simon Sinek and his concept of “The Golden Circle”. While no brand remains at the top forever, Apple is the perfect example of a business that has exceled by functioning differently. Sinek related a simple truth – the most successful brands in the world live by “The Golden Circle”. It’s a simple shift in thinking towards your business approach, but will completely change how your business communicates.


The Golden Circle is divided into three parts – what, how and why. Every business knows ‘what’ they’re selling, some know ‘how’ they do it and their USP, while few think about and communicate the ‘why’, essentially the purpose of their business.

Most businesses communicate outside in. They tell people what they’re selling, how the product works and what’s special about it, but few touch on the core purpose of their business with each product. Here’s Sinek’s revelation – truly visionary brands, like Apple, communicate from the inside out. Every communication opportunity highlights why they’re doing what they do. Apple is about innovation – creating user-friendly products that make people’s lives better. The iPhone, iMac, iPad and all their products are a result of their core purpose. This is what makes people coming back for more. They believe in the company’s vision and transform into loyal brand evangelists.

Just think about the behemoth brands – Nike hasn’t found success merely selling running shoes. ‘Just do it’ is what we can relate to. The sense that it’s time we got started, time we pushed ourselves to our limits, and the innate ability we all have to succeed if we just try. Tech giant Google is so much more than the world’s number one search engine. They want to impact how the world collects and perceives information at every level.

But this isn’t all marketing hogwash, and Sinek delves into the science behind his theory. When brands communicate leading with the ‘why’, they speak directly to the limbic system, the part of the brain that affects behaviour and accounts for our gut feeling. This influences purchasing decisions more than appealing to the rational of our brain, achieved when brands communicate the ‘what’ of products and services to consumers.

Not too long ago, I had a chat with our fearless Mutant chief, Joe Barratt, about why he started Mutant Communications. While I’m sure our team wouldn’t mind a little fame and fortune, Joe spoke about his passion for helping businesses grow, be it startups trying to find their footing or established businesses hoping to grow their presence, and that’s really what forms the basis of Mutant’s work and why we do what we do. How do we do it? We tell great stories that build winning brands. What do we do exactly? We create content and help brands communicate across different outlets and media platforms to get the word out.

So is your company telling a story framed around the ‘why’? Do your customers understand and subscribe to the same beliefs that drive your business? Have you been affecting purchasing decisions with communications that spell the purpose of your business, or have you been repeating the ‘what’, like most other businesses?

There are likely a number of companies out there that sell similar products and provide similar services, a few that define themselves with a USP akin to yours, but not many with visionary business beliefs, and who communicate that well.

Now is a great time to review how you’ve been narrating your brand story and your approach to every communications decision, starting with the ‘why’.

For ideas on how you can communicate the ‘why’ in your business, get in touch with us at [email protected].

Why? image by BuzzFarmers is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Screen capture of Simon Sinek’s TED Talk, How great leaders inspire great action

Hello, Asia! (How to communicate your brand and engage with media)

That feeling of complete helplessness that occurs when you find yourself in a strange land, surrounded by unrecognisable smells, tastes, sounds, faces or landmarks, is culture shock.

Sometimes it comes as a complete surprise – you might be well-travelled in a region, and well-versed in what you do, but still feel completely alien in a certain corner of the world. This is particularly true of Asia, both a melting pot and a large patchwork of countries, cultures and languages.

Watching the news or picking up a paper in a new place can be a big indicator of the shift in culture, language and tradition. It’s no surprise then that despite the regions being very geographically close, news outlets across Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore operate very differently. Whilst you might be well-versed on Asia as a region, you’ll need to understand and manage the complexities of the each specific country or city’s journalists’ motivations and media processes if you want to build a solid foundation for your brand.

In subsequent blog posts, we’ll elaborate how media in the key markets operate. Firstly, here are some journalist traits we’ve noticed are consistent in the region:

  • Deference and face, leading to shyness and reticence to ask questions in public settings
  • Language and cultural barriers (where ‘yes’ can sometimes mean ‘no’)
  • Displays of passiveness and quietness
  • Preference of personal over public contexts
  • Often younger – bright and clever, but without depth of knowledge and experience
  • Everything is captured, socialised and shared

While journalists differ from country to country, media still encompass a core, similar structure across geographical boundaries. Anywhere in the world, media want the freshest, breaking, headline-grabbing news. Journalists have a duty to inform, entertain, and enlighten their audiences – your story should make their job easier. News editors are looking for human interest and relevance. What’s the benefit for my country, and how will this development affect my people? Apart from words, media are also looking for sound-bites and visuals (even in print).

Be it Singapore, Japan, Indonesia or another Asian country, your in-person media engagements as part of public relations should always check the following boxes:

  • Always check for understanding
  • Be doubly accurate with numbers
  • Provide written summaries (spoon feed)
  • Prepare to lead the conversation, but don’t be afraid to stop
  • Prepare for the ‘door stop’
  • Prepare to be recorded and photographed endlessly by a smartphone wielding media

So, what’s your story? Regardless of your business or industry, you need to package a story and message that’s relevant to your audience. How will your announcement impact people? How is it relevant to the market? What solution does this provide to a specific market’s problem? Walk a mile in your future customer’s shoes to fully understand the context of the situation, and then execute a tailored and well-suited plan.

Here is a quick list of tips you can check against before you pitch stories to media:

  • Make sure you know where the journalist is from. For example, Bangkok Post is different from Reuters, and needs to be handled differently
  • Put your audience in the headline
  • Repeat your key point or message
  • Provide a written copy that can be used
  • Get help to prepare in advance – the best don’t leave this to chance

Before you dive into PR campaigns in a new, unfamiliar Asian market, take a moment to understand and appreciate the complexities of the media in your target country or region.

You might also be interested in Mutant’s handy guide for writing press releases. Get in touch to find out how we can help build your brand reputation in Asia and engage with media. Reach us at [email protected].

Hong Kong 2013 image by Singaporean photographer Adrian Seetho