5 lessons in public speaking (as illustrated by famous people)

It’s hard to talk in front of an audience. Your palms sweat, the lights can be too bright, and your brain can abandon you right when you need it the most.

Public speaking is an art form, whether you’re in a boardroom in front of three people or an auditorium in front of 3,000. The language, the tone, the pace, the structure – getting it right is no easy feat, and the best speakers in the world have had years of practice to iron out their mistakes.

If you’ve got to talk in front of people in your working life, the best thing you can do is to keep practicing. The second best thing you can do, is watch and learn from others.

I’ve chosen five (well, actually eight – I had to lump a few together) famous faces to help teach us all a few different aspects about speaking in front of a crowd.

1. Donald Trump: Command the attention of the room

Personally, I find nothing particularly great about Donald Trump. His politics, his ideas, his comments, and yes, his hair – none of it is very appealing. However, when he speaks, I find it hard to tune out.

Listen to him in the clip below. He is enthralling. Don’t pay attention to what he’s saying, but listen to how he is saying it. He delivers his message effortlessly, he commands the attention of the room and he says everything with such conviction. He orders everyone to listen to him when he talks – and that’s the sort of confidence gained via years of public speaking.

The next time you’re addressing a group, remember Trump’s confidence and attempt to exude the same vibe. YOU are on stage. YOU own it. Don’t let anyone tell you to shut up.

2. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Be authentic and sincere

If you don’t know this Nigerian novelist, you should watch the below clip in full. Chances are you were introduced to her after Beyoncé sampled the below TED speech she gave in 2013 in her hit song Flawless, but you didn’t know it. Now you do. You’re welcome.

I have listened to many of Chimamanda’s speeches (she’s in quite high demand these days) mainly because I love her stance on feminism, gender construction and sexuality, but also because she is so easy to listen to. Her voice projects well, but her message projects more. Why? Because she genuinely cares about what she’s talking about. Her whole life has led to the point where she’s in demand globally to talk to others, and the sincerity of her being comes through, whether she’s addressing one person or one hundred.

You don’t need to have a story to be genuine on stage, but you do need to believe in what you’re discussing. Whether you’re talking about big or trivial issues, you will connect with your audience if you are authentic.

Tip: You might have notes prepared, but if something strikes you mid-speech, just say it. It sounds trite, but if it comes from the heart, your audience will pick up on it straight away. Sometimes that’s better than referring to your notes.

3. Steve Jobs: Tell a compelling story

The best way to get your audience’s attention is to engage them in a story. Everyone loves a story.

“Today, I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it – no big deal – just three stories.”

With that first sentence, Jobs sets the scene for everyone in the audience, and they eagerly wait to hear what nuggets of wisdom he’ll come out with. As it happens, his three stories are about why he dropped out of college and “connecting the dots in your future”, love and loss, and – sadly – death.

The stories are littered with anecdotes and honest assessments of his past and present – perfect for an audience of college graduates, really – and they weave together effortlessly. Getting your point across by telling a story is so much more effective than listing your points and just talking at people.

A story builds a narrative, humanises your message, and engages people in something that is ‘real’ – that they can relate to.

4. Lupita Nyong’o (and Roberto Benigni, Winston Churchill, and Martin Luther King Jr.): Choose your words carefully

When giving a speech – in any capacity – the speaker holds the power to change things. Sometimes big things, like people’s opinions and beliefs. When this is the case, it’s extremely important to be vigilant and careful in how you deliver your message.

Language is a beautiful thing, and a good speech can read like poetry. This speech by Lupita has its downfalls (mostly her sniffing, but I think that’s due to be overcoming with emotion, so I can’t really fault her for that), but in it, she says such a beautiful line that has always stuck with me:

“You can’t eat beauty. It doesn’t feed you. What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty inflames the heart and enchants the soul.”

Too cheesy? I’m also quite partial to this speech from Italian actor Roberto Benigni when he won an Oscar for his leading role in Life is Beautiful (also my all-time favourite movie – if you haven’t seen it, watch it!)

The poetry in his speech isn’t in the language of his endearingly broken English, but in his body and mannerisms. He speaks with his whole body and his energy seeps out of him (he even makes Goldie Hawn cry). He is so grateful that he is loved by so many, and even though he sometimes struggles to find the words, you can tell he’s thought a lot about how he would accurately express his gratitude if he won.

And I can’t talk about poetry, emotion and the power of language without giving mention to both Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech, and Winston Churchill’s “We shall fight on the beaches” speech – both of which, in two completely different ways, united people, reassured them and inspired them.

5. Matthew McConaughey: Structure is important

Oscar speeches are usually filled with too much emotion and excitement to be coherent – they babble through a list of people’s names and flub over their words. Which is why it was rather fantastic when Matthew McConaughey won for his role in Dallas Buyer’s Club and jumped up on stage to give what I think is one of the best Oscar speeches ever.

He leads in with the expected thank yous, but quickly goes on to tell a short story about his hero, which is both insightful and entertaining. He has planned what he was going to say – you can tell, because he almost doesn’t say a single “umm” – and has structured it in a way that will keep people’s attention, make them feel, and make them laugh.

Ending with the “alright, alright, alright” was a genius touch (anyone who has seen Dazed and Confused will get it) leaving his speech on the perfect note.

If you’d like to discuss public relations, content marketing and media training for your business, please get in touch with us at [email protected] 

5 lessons my vacation taught me about PR

Before you judge, let me make it clear that this is not an article about working during your vacation.

Mutant Communications enforces a healthy work-life balance and we are always encouraged to enjoy some downtime, whether it’s going out for Friday drinks, or taking a holiday. It reinvigorates the mind, makes you more productive, and chances are you’ll come back with more innovative ideas.

In fact, it took a recent holiday to make me realise how certain aspects of PR bleed into everyday life, and how I should start making the most of every situation.

The opportunities are especially abundant when you are travelling abroad.

This is the perfect time to take advantage of your “vacation mode” self – you are starting out on a clean slate in a foreign country, and you know very few people (or none at all). We are social creatures, and in this situation you naturally let your guard down and become more affable, eager to make friends, and to understand and immerse yourself in a different culture.

Keep the following PR tips in mind for your next holiday, and return fulfilled with valuable lessons and insights that you can apply at work!

1. “Your vibe attracts your tribe”

You are bound to make a few friends and acquaintances during your travels and if you’re at the right place at the right time, chances are you’ll get to meet the right people.

I was fortunate to have connected with some great folks who happen to be in the creative and lifestyle industry – the likes of artists, music producers, a website editor, and even someone in PR for a leading streetwear clothing label.

You get to learn a lot from these conversations with new people and asking the right questions. We ended up adding each other on Facebook, and some even on LinkedIn. This is one of the easiest and most convenient ways to connect with people, to learn from or potentially work with in the future. At the very least, what’s the harm in making new friends?

2. How to make yourself understood

Meeting new people is definitely a confidence booster. When you are engaged in a pleasant conversation, you inherently become more conscious about the flow and sounding coherent (especially if you’re attempting a conversation with someone who doesn’t speak the same language as you!)

One of the most common questions I got was about my profession, which led me to improvise a mental script to better explain what I do, about Mutant, and also about the music label I’m part of – all without droning on.

You learn how to ad-lib, while always improving on presenting yourself and your company in the best possible angle with strangers. It’s great practice for presentation skills, at the most basic level.

3. You can learn stuff from food (yes, really!)

One of the best ways to learn about a culture is to try the local food. There’s no need to splurge at a fancy and expensive restaurant for a good and unforgettable experience. I personally like to trawl the streets to discover a hidden gem  – these places usually have impeccable service, run by friendly people and are typically more affordable.

By doing this, you can learn a few things and get inspired by the interior, atmosphere, meaningful conversations with staff and owners, and of course, the food.

I made a mental note on experiences I could bring back and share with our existing F&B clients, but these lessons easily transcend a specific industry, and can be applied to any professional environment.

Service and a positive attitude can do wonders with both clients and colleagues – it is something very simple, but often forgotten. I like to take myself back to these experiences to remind myself on the importance of harnessing and spreading positive energy.

4. Make a mental note at performances, gigs and festivals

This particular holiday was all about music gigs and festivals, and I definitely took away some valuable event management lessons from them.

At Mutant, we coordinate numerous events – the likes of launches, press conferences and media tasting – so I naturally observe how certain things such as timeliness, efficiency of ticketing, the sound system, and the presence of a good MC can greatly improve an event.

It is also through experience that you learn how to better prepare yourself for an event. For my Dour Festival Survival kit, I packed a vanilla yoghurt, a travel kit skincare set, and body moisturiser – all was deemed useless (except for the vanilla yoghurt). Next time, I’ll bring a pair of tights, windbreaker and gumboots to protect myself from the cold and rain! Lesson learnt.

5. Don’t forget to chill

“A vacation isn’t a luxury. It’s a medical necessity,” said Dr. Leigh Vincur, a spokesperson for the American College of Emergency Physician.

Remember to actually enjoy your break and release stress. Working in PR is a fantastic career, but it’s fair to say that you will reach a point where you need a holiday. You will do everyone in the office (and most importantly, yourself) a favour and return refreshed and more productive.

If you need more tips and advice on PR for F&B and lifestyle and luxury brands, get in touch with us at [email protected].

How to create a newsletter people actually want to read


From beginning to send, you need to know what works for your business when constructing an effective e-newsletter to engage with customers.


We all want the best returns on our marketing activities. Whether you are a small startup or a large corporation, we’re all after effective marketing with the highest ROI.

When coordinating your marketing plan, it’s important to spread your activities across multiple mediums to get your message across to your target audience. As part of this, one of the most important things you can do is maintain regular contact with current and former customers. But rather than forcing phone calls on them, this can be done effectively by employing a more subtle approach through branding and content. Visibility can be so effective – they get to know who you are and stay familiar with your brand.

One of the best ways to do this is by providing an e-newsletter. We receive these in our inboxes every day – but what makes you inclined to open one and not the other? How you curate your newsletters can be the difference between success and failure, so it’s important to get it right from the start.

Newsletters are not only extremely cost-effective but can be a very targeted marketing tool, providing real-time relevant content to a target consumer. Whether you use it as a direct sales tool – such as a retailer having a mid-year sale – or to sustain an ongoing relationship with clients, you need to think clearly about what matters to your audience.

With that being said, here are a few simple tips to get you going:

Design matters – a lot!

A well-designed newsletter speaks volumes. It represents your brand and what you stand for. This is one part most people tend to pay the least attention to, but it’s the most impactful and striking factor for readers, who want to view something that is well thought out, clean and clutter free.

A poorly designed header can make people feel like they are getting unwanted spam, while too much cluttered text can look messy and hard to read. If your design is not suited to your target audience, the chances of them unsubscribing or deleting future newsletters is higher. So put the time into the design and make it work.

Content counts

Plan your content well. Like the design, the content you include matters a lot. It needs to be relevant and valuable to the reader. Whether it’s industry tips, personal experiences or a simple discount code, know your customers and ensure the content resonates with them.

Your newsletters provide an opportunity to send out timely content directly to your consumers, and there are options to segregate your mailing list depending on subscriber interests for a more targeted approach. Don’t forget to include calls-to-action throughout your newsletter – it can be a hyperlink to your website, a landing page or checkout page.

The subject line of your newsletter is also a vital component. This is the first thing that the reader will see when deciding whether to click to open. It needs to be succinct and to the point – pick something that will entice the reader to open your email and avoid using subject lines such as “Newsletter 1” or “Company Newsletter”.

Be consistent

There is nothing more annoying for a consumer than getting a multitude of irrelevant emails. A good way of getting noticed is to be consistent when sending your newsletters – people are more likely to recognise you and are less likely to ignore the mail. Pick the frequency of your send (i.e. daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly) and select a day and time of your send and stick to it!

When starting out, monitor your results and observe when people are more receptive to your newsletter, then alter your send time accordingly. It’s all about trial and error.

Don’t ignore the results

Each time you send out a newsletter, check out the campaign report – who is clicking on what? Did more people unsubscribe on a particular send? What type of content is getting the most clickthroughs to your website? Does it make a difference when you include an image or not? Monitor actions and use that data to your advantage to better your next campaign.

Finally – and I can’t stress this enough – always remember to test your newsletters on multiple devices (send it around the office first!) and never be afraid to ask for a second opinion.

Click below to download Mutant’s e-newsletter tips:

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If you would like to look at ways to incorporate e-newsletters into your marketing and PR strategy, get in touch with me at [email protected] 

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]  

4 ways to target expat consumers on Facebook


Singapore’s expatriate community is a target audience for plenty of businesses, but how can you stand out from the crowd using Facebook as a marketing strategy?

In today’s digital age, social media has infiltrated our lives. How many times a day do you scroll through your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter feed on your phone, tablet or laptop? They’re not only a portal for family and friends to stay connected and in touch, but also tools for businesses to reach key audiences in a cost-effective manner.

While they all have their selling points, Facebook is usually the platform focused on by most new and established businesses to start building a following and a brand voice.

In Singapore, the expat market is full of regular Internet and social media users. As well using it for friends, this target audience also turns to social media to connect with like-minded individuals and familiar folk who are faced with similar challenges whilst living abroad.

When first arriving in a foreign country, people are often oblivious none the wiser about local brands – or international brands based locally – and therefore tend to have limited brand loyalties. Their purchase decisions are generally swayed through recommendations made by friends and colleagues, trial and error via online reviews or research on Facebook pages. This opens up a whole world of opportunities for marketers and business owners to tap into this market, which with regular and consistent efforts will have a snowball effect and the potential to gain many more customers.

This year alone it was estimated that there were 92 million expats using Facebook, which accounts for 7% of the Facebook user base. By using simple targeting techniques based on location, life events (such as a recent move), interests and more, companies can promote directly to the expat consumer in an effective yet non-intrusive manner.

This could include insurance providers offering packages for annual travel or medical insurance targeted at expats, or furniture retailers who want to target their advertising to a wide expat community knowing that many are in need of furniture after moving to a new country.

Here are a few tips to get you started and on the right track:

1. Set up a company Facebook page

This is really the first thing you need to do regardless of your target customer. A Facebook page is now a necessity where many potential clients will check this first before they go to the actual website. Set this up before executing any targeted advertising and populate it with informative posts and images, but also allow the consumer to see a lighter side of your business and staff. You can use this not only a landing page for your targeted marketing but also as a substitute website if you don’t have one in place yet.

It’s highly recommended that you manage this through Facebook for Business, which will allow you to create and manage page and post boosts as well as Facebook advertising, which will be necessary to expand your reach to a targeted audience.

2. Identify your goals – who exactly are you targeting?

You know you want to target the expat market, but who exactly within that definition is your target audience? What age are they? Are they male or female? What kind of industries do they work in? What are their hobbies? Are they into health and fitness for your gym business, need travel insurance as regular jet-setters or are they stay-at-home-mums looking for a variety of activities for themselves and their kids?

Whatever it may be, identify the special interests and needs of your customer base so you can then direct your advert to a highly targeted audience. 

3. Work on your Facebook budget and strategy 

Facebook allows you to have 100% control over your budget, and it’s advisable to not overspend for the first run. Be smart and test the market first. Start small with your spend – try out different times of the day and different relevant keywords to see which may have a better impact on your product.

For example, if you are targeting stay-at-home-mums, it’s fair to assume they will be more active on Facebook during the day when their partners are at work and kids are in school, so perhaps its best to send out more targeted adverts on a weekday, during work and school hours.

The point is to have a strategy in place for what you want to achieve vs the cost. Facebook makes this very simple for you and also provides a very transparent report.

4. Connect and network

There are so many Facebook groups and communities to help and support expatriates. Where possible, become a member to gain some good insights into what other members are talking about and what they need. While many of these groups don’t actually allow companies to directly advertise on the pages, the best way forward is to connect with the members on a personal level, forge sincere friendships and use your services to offer advice to these members when they need it – never push your products or services directly into these groups, as chances are you will be removed.

This targeted market is highly swayed by word of mouth, and Facebook provides an excellent platform to meet people who seek advice and are very open to trying new products and services.

If you would like to explore the possibilities of social media advertising to reach your target audience or have any questions regarding PR, content or digital advertising, get in touch 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]

3 reasons your start-up should consider Instagram


Welcome to 2015, where social media is anything but a passing fad and not integrating your brand into the social experience is a heinous crime.

If you’re already on Facebook and are thinking about how you can further enhance your business presence and take a larger slice of the social pie, it might be time to consider Instagram.

Since launching five years ago, Instagram has quickly climbed the social ladder to become the number one mobile photos and video sharing app. Marketers have quickly identified an opportunity to leverage on its functionalities and have turned it into an important visual marketing tool.

While Instagram isn’t necessary for some companies – after all, it is a photo-based social App that requires engaging content to gain traction – it is worth deciding whether it’s right for your business.

Today, brands and personalities from McDonald’s to Britney Spears are on it, sharing relevant, interesting, engaging and timely photos and content to help enhance their brand in a language and medium consumers (and fans) understand.

If you are still undecided about jumping on the Instagram bandwagon, the following points might get you off the fence and into a world of filters and hashtags.

1. It’s cost-effective and convenient

Starting an account is absolutely free. Put up your 110 x 110 pixels profile picture – such as a brand logo – and fill up your bio section to tell people who you are. Make sure to add in your company website URL! Keep your bio short and sweet, and if anything changes remember to update the information.

Once you are done, you are ready to snap and post away on a mobile device.

2. It’s an excellent employer branding tool

Put aside the mistaken belief that Instagram will only serve a purpose for businesses with visual products. If Instagram can’t help you sell the tangible – your products or service, use it to sell the intangible – your company and culture.

There’s only so much your “About” section can say about your company. With Instagram, you can now show people what’s it like to be in the company before they even join the company.

Never underestimate that one new addition to your growing team or that simple company gathering the other day, for they are all “Instagram-worthy” content. Such tactics will help to dispel any misconception that your company is “dull” or “serious” and contribute to your profile as a fun employer.

This way, you will also more likely to attract the young and creative, whom you will definitely need to propel your business forward.  

3. It’s all about relationship-building and awareness

Beyond interaction with your audience, you can also proactively interact with other brands and companies you know are likely to pay attention to you on Instagram. In this instance, bigger is not better. Think smaller brands and companies that are in a complementary field and are locally-based, making them relevant to you and your audience.

If you are unsure of where to start, think about companies you’ve recently worked or met up with. Follow them, leave them a comment on their page to say hello and if you can afford to, drop them a personalised comment.

Little acts like this will catch the other brands off guard, in a good way that is. For all you know, you’ve already attained the one-way ticket to their nice list, future interactions and opportunities await!

The aforementioned examples are not exhaustive and if you’re in need of some inspiration, you may want to check out Starbucks and Club Vivre’s Instagram accounts.

Social media’s constant will always be changing and as marketers, it is crucial that you adapt swiftly and keep up on top of ensuring client service excellence.

If you want to find out more about effectively using social media platforms to complement your PR and content efforts, reach out 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
What you need to know to write the perfect blog

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Why you should seriously consider content marketing
Where to go for the best content marketing tips

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

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] 

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.

So you want to write a blog post, here’s how you can do it well

So you want to write a blog post?

Step one, tick, you have the will.

You might also have a bit of an idea. “I want to write a blog post about blogging and why you should have a blog.”

Step two, tick, you have an idea.

The next question to ask yourself is why anyone should want to read your blog.

There are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of blog posts about blog posts. Yours will be one of them. We’ve shared tips on keeping a good, optimised blog, but how can you make yours more interesting and valuable than any other?

Through storytelling.

Which brings me to step three, nailing the purpose of the blog post.

The Mutant team writes blog posts on behalf of a number of B2B and B2C clients and we work with them to identify fresh angles to topics we know their target audiences are interested in. The key is to narrow down onwhat your audience is looking for online, and what fresh insights you can give them to assert your authority on the topic.

So, for example, if you were appealing to business bloggers, your post might be about how new blogging tools could boost the searchability of business blogs in 2014.

There you go – you have a topic that is interesting, newsworthy and that will demonstrate your own ability to think ahead and to offer guidance in this very competitive, and constantly evolving digital world.

Before sitting down to type out your post, figure out what you’re going to say. Old school mindmaps still work in the digital age and this is how I recommend you begin.

Step four is to write down the ideas you have around the topic and then organise them into sub-groups of ideas. These subgroups will form your paragraphs.

Number the paragraphs in order of how you want them to flow in the post – there’s your skeleton!

You’re now ready to put pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – and move on to step five, telling a story.

Storytelling is not just the fabric of fairytales. As a blogger, you need to think of yourself as the Aesop of the business world – sharing messages in a way that resonate with readers. Rather than circulating a bullet-pointed to-do list, you want to be drawing parallels with your readers’ everyday life, painting pictures they can relate to.

In order for them to both enjoy reading your piece and walk away feeling like they have learned something, you also want to make sure you build a cohesive argument.

Start with an engaging opening paragraph – or introduction – that develops a rapport with your reader. You might like to start with something controversial “breakfast is not the most important meal of the day”, or with a question “despite what we have been raised to believe, is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?” Sometimes it works to paint a picture – “whether it was grandma serving stewed fruit and porridge on school mornings, or your mother handing you a banana as you rushed out the door, we’ve been lead to believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. However, new research shows that…”

Move through your points seamlessly, as if you were engaging your reader in a conversation, and make sure that every sentence you write contributes to the purpose of the paragraph, and that every paragraph reinforces the purpose of the post.

You’ll want to wrap the post up with a sentence that wraps up your argument and leaves the reader feeling pleased they made it to the bottom. You might also like to add a call-to-action to download more information or a contact (find out how inbound marketing techniques can boost your business here).

The idea of a blog is to both demonstrate your thought leadership and hold your readers’ attention on your website. Pepper your blog with links to other posts or pages on your site, or on other sites. This will not only offer your reader a chance to deepen their understanding of the subject, but also boost your SEO as visitors will be spending more time on your site.

Understanding the function of the blog on your site, as well as the purpose of your sitting down for an hour or more to write it should be clear right from the outset, and right through the post.

If you do it right, you should get to the end and find you sitting nicely between the golden 600-800 word count, and have created something that entertains, informs and boosts your brand’s presence.

I’m at 778 words now. Over and out.

If you’d like to discuss your blogging / content marketing strategy, or if you’d like help crafting riveting blog posts, get in touch with us at [email protected].

Human Writes Performance Installation at UN Geneva image by United States Mission Geneva 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.