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]

How to approach bloggers and establish good relationships

Bloggers of our day have been bestowed with something that even stirs the jealous bones of news teams – loyal, trusting readers. Pictures of newly-adopted kittens, short articles about food, and event reviews filled with selfies and one-too-many canapé pictures – which would be considered taboo for traditional news outlets – live flamboyantly on blogs and entice countless readers.

What we’re seeing today is a shift of consumer preference, and oftentimes trust, in the content they consume. Rather than professionally written news pieces, many are seeking entertaining, picture-filled blog posts drizzled with humour, sarcasm and written in simple English. Consumers look to blogs to form their purchasing decisions and the marketing impact of a persuasive, well written blog post is undeniable.

Many blogs are functioning with structured editorial teams in place, but they still work differently from newsrooms, which is why brands need to do a little homework if they hope to land a spot on popular web logs.

First impressions do count, and it’s important to start off on the right foot when you approach bloggers. But how can brands actually start approaching these digital wordsmiths?

By now, you would have done your research and compiled a comprehensive list of potential bloggers who you feel best represent your brand.

While bloggers in the past might have accepted impersonal notes from PR and marketing executives, they are less appreciative of it today. Make sure you write a personalised note to each blogger, building rapport and clearly stating what your brand offers and how you’d like to partner with them. Keep in mind that they are not obliged to rave about your product or write a story off a generic press release, even if you give them a freebie.

It’s not a ‘numbers game’ anymore, so avoid the automated approach of mass emails to hundreds of people (which will likely end up in the spam folder, and result in your email address getting blocked). Focus instead on building an actual relationship with the relevant bloggers in order for them to understand and trust your product or service. Only then will they become true brand advocates.

While everyone wants the big and famous blogs with a massive following, credible smaller blogs are often easier to approach and work with, and can spur the larger blogs to take notice.

Before reaching out, start following them on social media and reading their blogs to get an idea of how they tick. Better still, become a genuine fan of their blog – start reading, sharing, and commenting on their posts. That way, you’ll understand how your brand can fit in with the blog’s narrative and come up with suitable angles.

Take the relationship from cyberspace to real life after you’ve personally written to the bloggers – nothing beats human interaction. Have a chat about your brand and make sure you highlight anything that could be of interest to their readers. The quality of your product or brand is going to inspire the blogger to write about it, much more than your tenacity or gift-giving.

Bear in mind that the aim is not to receive unpaid advertising – bloggers truthfully share their experiences about products and services. If you want to buy a sponsored spot on their blog, it will be highlighted as such.

Bloggers have real impact and genuine points of view, and genuine interactions will always yield much greater results. So get creative, and get personal! It’s time to hit the blogs.

For more information on how Mutant can help with blogger engagement, get in touch with us at [email protected]


Chase Jarvis and fiercekitty – Photowalk Gnomedex 2009 image by kris krüg is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


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

More bang for your blogging buck: How to keep a good blog

One of the things I love about PR and marketing is how aware we have to be of consumer trends, and I’ve come to realise how differently consumers act in a social-media / technology-led era compared to the past. Engaging the crowd is now a more sophisticated affair and requires being fluent in the language of content marketing, SEO, web analytics and of course, blogging, among others.

There were one million blogs in 2004 and a whopping 152 million in 2013 – that’s one blog being created every half a second, according to a HubSpot webinar on blogging. Blogs are truly a phenomenal force and if well managed, can definitely help build a connection with the audience and generate leads.

Competition is stiff and you’ll need to be smart about your approach to stand out. Develop the habit of staying up-to-date on the blogosphere’s evolving trends to ensure you stay relevant and write interesting blog posts that gel with your ongoing marketing and PR efforts. HubSpot recently shared a few tips on successful blogging, which are bound to boost your blog readership and generate leads.

Long Tail Keywords.

Since the introduction of Google’s Hummingbird search algorithm, searches are now more effective with additional keywords and more context. For instance, Google “coffee shops” and you’ll get more results that you can handle – looking for that good ol’ cuppa joe is not so simple anymore. Being more specific and typing “coffee shop Singapore”, “coffee roasted beans Singapore” or “chill café Singapore” will yield more favourable and useful results.

Instead of specific, singular keywords, the focus has shifted to long tail keywords, phrases that are a combination of keywords to deliver targeted results (think Chinatown chicken rice stall or Tuas chemical factory, for instance) and keep in mind that the longer, more specific keywords are less common, individually, but add up to account for the majority of search-driven traffic.

So start brainstorming long-tail keywords that can help people find your business and include them in your blog posts.

Sharable content.

Your blog content needs to be accessible. People enjoy sharing news through social media – be it Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+ – and news feeds are broadsides of the digital sphere. Social media and content depend on one another, and content that is enjoyable, shareable and insightful – and better still if it’s viral – results in higher visibility as it makes its way around the Internet.

Encourage comments.

The comment box used to be spam bait, but is now regarded as an important tool to help foster relationships and stimulate discussion. If you haven’t already, set up a comment box and get readers involved. Encourage them to voice their thoughts, listen to their suggestions and complaints, and respond diligently. Always remember, it’s a two-way communication.

Guest blogging.

Guest bloggers with wide appeal might seem like a great idea but approach this with caution. Yes, the links can increase your SEO rankings and visibility but only if the blog post is unique. Duplicating posts from your own site could actually drop your own search ranking if Google reads you as having copied from another more popular site.

Topical vs Evergreen content.

Topical posts are trendy, time-sensitive content that include press releases, announcements, and lighthearted photos or memes on social media. While it helps to spike page views, you will need to push content regularly to maintain the numbers.

Evergreen content is relevant today, tomorrow and for a long time to come. This relevance ensures a steady stream of readers who can always refer to the content for insights, regardless of how long the article has been published. Writing tips, advice on changing engine oil in an automobile, or suggestions for a personal savings plan all fall under that category. For a healthy balance, it’s advised that 80% of blog content should be evergreen, and 20% topical.

Content Calendar.

Plan what topics you’re crafting and when you’ll be putting up your blog posts. We find this easiest with a spreadsheet clearly defining the topics, targeted upload date, listing specific owners and deadlines. Ensure that you’re uploading content at least once every week for the next six months.

One voice.

Whether it’s a blog, a Facebook status update, Tweet, or thoughts regarding a news article shared on LinkedIn – make sure you use a common voice that applies across all platforms. The audience will grow to relate to and trust this voice and more importantly, start connecting with you.

All this seems like a long list, but will soon come as second nature with practice. I find it helpful to go through these points as you review your newly written blog posts. You’ll optimise your content by heaps and ensure your brand is associated with quality by every reader and potential lead.

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].

7/52 – ghosts in the night {life on pause} image by PhotKing ♛ is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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


Who are you? Finding your brand voice

You might have your elevator pitch down, and you might have a new strapline to display alongside your logo, but do you and your team really know the personality behind your branding?

Do you know how your brand speaks, who it speaks to and how it reacts in stressful situations?

I’m not talking about the introduction to the brand document you pass to new staff members on their first day of the job and I’m not talking about the logo guidelines drawn up by your communications team. I’m talking about defining the way your brand acts, speaks and reacts every day, be it walking down the street to lunch or through its daily interactions on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Linkedin. The “brand voice” I am talking about extends to phone manner and emails written to customers or clients.

You probably already have a brand voice without labeling it as such, but it’s still a useful exercise to sit down with your team every couple of months and tweak or reinforce who you are, what you are trying to say, and how to get this acrosss on social media.

Set aside an hour and allow space for everyone to go wild, scribbling words and ideas all over whiteboards, rolls of paper, or even walls.

The aim of the exercise is to ensure each member of your team is representing your brand in the best possible light and also to develop much greater efficiencies in your social engagement.

Too many small businesses and organisations waste hours on Facebook or Twitter posts that either don’t reach or don’t resonate with their target audiences. Usually it’s because they’re either on the wrong platform, or they’re sharing the wrong sort of content.

Defining who you are and who you are not will help your team determine which networks you should be on, or perhaps more important which you should not bother with, and what you can be doing to make best use of your time on social media.

The second part of the session encourages your team to develop realistic steps towards achieve the brand’s social media goals. It also asks you to come up with specific, realistic targets, such as an increasing your number of followers or shares per post. Reviewing these targets every few weeks or months will help you determine whether or not you are on track, and allow you to make adjustments to your social media calendar.

Need to find your voice? Drop a message to [email protected] 

Why you need content marketing, and 5 simple ways to kick it off

Consumers today are smarter and more discerning than they used to be. They know what they want, know where to get it, and more often than not, can see right through fancy hard-selling or in-your-face marketing. Instead of blindly reaching out through paid ads or cold calls, arm your marketing arsenal with a trove of informative, interesting content that give your audience something they are looking for.

You’ll find customers react far more favourably to free information than they do to a free balloon or sticker, and by releasing commentary, you establish your brand as a thought leader and trustworthy, industry guru. Those who actively seek out your content are more likely to develop trust in your brand, products and services, and over time become valuable leads, and customers.

Is it top-level executives in sharp-looking suits and expensive ties, spatula-wielding housewives with a penchant for cooking, or geeky high-schoolers who want to lay their hands on the newest tech gadgets? Understand the profile of your target audience in your markets and, more importantly, the common problems they face.


What you create should focus on accomplishing the following – solving the problems faced by your target audience or providing insight into relevant issues and topics. This establishes your brand as a thought leader and problem solver, building trust with your audiences. To maximise your searchability, make sure you weave in terms your audience is likely to be seeking answers to.

Company blogs are one of the best ways to share uninhibited, long-form content and well-written pieces are bound to drive hits and keep people coming back for more. For instance, a recruitment agency developing content for its target audience of job seekers and employers can gear its posts towards solving commonly-faced problems and providing useful information – job seekers might want to know about the hiring landscape, how to fine-tune their CV and tips for job interviews, while employers would be keen to learn about hiring through social media and the best ways to headhunt and attract talent.

Social media is undoubtedly one of the main spheres people share and consume content – the common denominator among excellent content is that they either provide insight or entertain in a manner that’s compelling and engaging. Be it cross-posting your blog post, sharing a relevant industry news article or posting a meme, it needs to be interesting to your followers.

Snippets of company-branded content in the form of tip sheets, infographics and snazzy posters are neat content offers that brands can also share with followers to up their game. Visually appealing, entertaining and oozing of brands’ individuality, these pieces of content can help build brand recognition through insights and advice.


Company blogs can easily be housed on your website, and creating an extra tab on the website menu makes it more likely to gain readers and followers. Harnessing the power of social platforms is a must for businesses, but the key is to only jump on board the most appropriate networks for your needs. Take time to decide which one works best for you.

B2B brands might find LinkedIn to be much more effective than Facebook as it reaches out to the right target audience who are willing to spend time consuming content for professional insights, instead of browsing cat memes. B2C brands such as fashion companies might prefer Instagram to showcase its products on a visual-driven platform


Start with baby steps – create one piece of content per week and share two to three social media updates, dependent on your desired platform. This could be a blog post on an industry trend, a Facebook update with offers for customers and a LinkedIn update with a link to a news article. When you’ve established a consistent content push, you can aim for publishing two to three blog posts a week and daily social media updates. To help boost hits, the best times to post on social media are often during daily commutes and post-lunch.


1) Define your target audience

Map their profiles, problems and goals.

2) Consider the most suitable platforms for your content push

Which social medium works best? Is a company blog the best platform to air your views?

3) Draft up a content calendar for 3 months

List relevant weekly blog post topics, consider interesting angles for social media and populate the calendar with non-time sensitive infographics, memes or news articles, then set aside time for content creation and social media updates, and assign deadlines.

4) See how others do it

Check out your competitors, take notes on what they’re doing well and how they’ve messed up – reference good ideas and make tweaks to your content marketing strategy.

5) Track your results

Don’t let your work go to waste without knowing its business impact. Track daily site visits, find out which sources your leads come from, understand what articles gain the most traction, then tweak your content approach to ensure best results.

To find out how Mutant can help with your content marketing needs, get in touch with us at [email protected]

Why bloggers can deliver the marketing boost you need

It has been close to two decades since the web log’s humble beginnings in 1997. Now, from The Huffington Post’s insightful business advice to Perez Hilton’s latest revelations of celebrity shenanigans, blogs have woven their way on to everyone’s daily reading lists, and are now seen as very effective platforms for influencing consumers, particularly the Millennials.

Bloggers today are viewed as opinion leaders who represent a new era of knowledge and advice, shedding light on what they know best, be it health, fashion, food, politics, or travel. And they entertain while doing so.

So where do bloggers fit into your business equation? As the lines between old and new media become blurred, bloggers have become the virtual advertising billboard of our day and act as gateways to introducing your services and products to a highly-targeted readership.

Some may think that blogging has run its course, but the numbers prove otherwise, and the percentage of readers and consumers of blogs look to be growing even bigger.

According to Ingnite Spot, 77 per cent of Internet users read blogs, while 81 per cent of US consumers trust advice and information from blogs.

One of the reasons for repeated visits to the best blogs lies in the unique voice of blogs – they are interesting, recognisable and they entertain, and the best ones make sure that voice rings true across its content, be it Nike or Barack Obama. These voices are heard by loyal followers who read the content regularly.

A survey revealed that 85 per cent of consumers research and read online reviews for local businesses, and more than 60 per cent of online purchases were made based on a blog post, according to Ignite Spot.

Loyal readers, or followers, which can be in the five or six digit range, develop a high regard for their content and opinion, and will share posts with their own audiences on social platforms. Blogs sometimes even reach full circle and get coverage in traditional media too.

Many blogs set themselves apart from traditional media by providing an ‘insider’s view’ into the story, relaying the experience through a participant’s lens. At a fancy black tie whiskey event, for instance, you might find news journalists stepping back and reporting on the hard facts – product details, visitor turnout, snippets of the CEO’s speech – as is expected of them, but bloggers have free rein to immerse themselves in the experience, writing about the glamourous celebrities, the stinging taste of the single malt whiskey, mouth-watering canapé, drab decoration, you name it. They offer something more personal and opinionated – despite being biased in some instances – that fulfills the need of many readers who wished they were present at the event.

Blogs thrive today, so much that blogging has become a full time job for some – and a lucrative one at that. Just take a look at BryanBoy, a fashion blogger from Philippines who has a Marc Jacobs bag named after him, or Xia Xue, a lifestyle blogger who underwent plastic surgery sponsored by Singapore broadcast company, MediaCorp.

These larger-than-life cyber moguls started on the same footing as many of us.

Despite the obvious success of their writers and owners, the power of blogs is still underestimated, or misunderstood. There are so many to choose from and it can get quite daunting for one who isn’t familiar with the blogosphere. Where do you start? Who is appropriate to represent your brand? How do you connect with them?

Finding a suitable blogger who aligns with your brand is more manageable than it seems, and all it takes is staying abreast of the different social media platforms and blog content, and ultimately establishing relationships with bloggers, some of whom might be influential personalities.

For help on finding the best bloggers for your brand, get in touch with us at [email protected].

Rosie the Blogger. image by Mike Licht is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


Why you need PR and how to be good at it

I love writing down my thoughts and voicing my opinions – and the fact that my company has a blog on which I can do this is great. But every now and then, I come across something that says it all for me.

This piece in Venturebeat is one of those pieces, and answers that burning question I find myself addressing at every networking or drinking or socialising event.

Why on earth is PR beneficial to a business? People will ask this all the time. “I have my stickers, I have my website, I have my fliers, I even have my ad appearing in high-profile magazine. Why do I need PR?”

Or, “why can’t I just write a release and send it out myself?”

Well, when was the last time you opened a spammy email from a stranger talking about a new product, or shared a static ad on Facebook. When was the last time you wore a branded sticker on your lapel to support a brand you didn’t have a personal connection to? Unless the advertiser is running a multimillion dollar campaign employing the world’s top satirical advertising creatives, your stickers are unlikely to contribute anything more to society, than more non-recyclable waste.

Vivek Wadhwa, formerly of Seer Technologies and Relativity Technologies, relays his experiences of PR both with, and without a proactive strategy.

At his first company Seer, the team invested heavily in marketing, but was afraid of the media, extremely protective of their messaging and hesitant when it came to pushing their news. Result = no one had heard of them, despite incredible achievements that blew the big players like Microsoft under the water.

A few years later at Relativity, Vivek took a completely different approach, commenting on things the media were interested in, and responding quickly with honest, headline grabbing answers. The company’s products might not have been the sort of thing to stop press, but they provided a window into their world, and spun the fact that they had a team of Russian ex-military and intelligence programmers into a story about them being a James Bond-esque organisation.

Result = featured on all the major TV networks and achieved more than 1000 articles in major publications, including front page of The Wall Street Journal, and named one of the top 25 “coolest” companies in the world by Fortune magazine.

Here are Vivek’s tips for running a PR campaign, and they are very much in line with the way we work here at Mutant Communications, in building relationships, links and thought leadership across multiple media and audiences.

  • Read dozens of business publications. Understand what topics are newsworthy and which journalist writes about what topic, then offer them your insights.
  • Focus on the needs of the journalist and not yours. No one is interested in your product. If a journalist asks you a question, answer that, and don’t obsess with getting your product covered. Build a relationship over time, and it will likely pay off with your getting the coverage that you are looking for.
  • If you do have something to announce, put it in the context of a “news hook”.  Make your message timely and relevant to what is happening in the industry or the world.
  • Don’t ignore small or regional publications. You may want to be in The Wall Street Journal, but it is not likely to cover you until you have built great credibility. Your best starting point is small, industry-oriented or regional publications. They are a lot easier to approach and will likely be interested in breaking your story.
  • Be available—even when you are busy. Journalists on tight deadlines need sources to quote as fast as they can get them.  The first to respond usually get featured.
  • Be honest. You will find that journalists have excellent “bullshit detectors”. If you mislead them even once, not only will they never write about you in a positive way; they’re likely to tell their associates about their experience.  I confide in journalists all the time.  I have not had even one journalist report on something that I said was off the record or was on background.
  • Be yourself, and express strong opinions. If you’re going to hedge your bets or be diplomatic, your message will drown in caveats.
  • When all else fails, write your own story yourself. The blogosphere has democratized journalism over the past few years, and there are hundreds of blog sites where you can post your opinions. You can even set up your own.

Thanks Vivek, for beautifully summarising the slides I present my potential clients.

Why hire people to do your PR? Because more than anything, they are clever storytellers who know how to get the media and target audiences excited about you. Then, they help you craft your messages to best generate buzz, and ultimately boost your business.

To learn more about how a PR campaign can benefit you, and how to use blogging to your advantage, contact Mutant Communications. Joseph Barratt: [email protected]

Newspaper. image by James Yu is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

How to make your band famous

So you’ve been jamming with your best buds for a while now and you think it’s time people hear the awesome-ness that has been brewing in the studio. What you need (aside from quality music of course) is some PR. Public Relations or PR in short is all about bridging the gap between a consumer(listeners) and producer(YOU).

Here’s how upcoming Singapore bands can benefit from simple do-it-yourself PR tactics that can amplify the rock star in you.

Market research

Before you swim, you would want to know how warm the water is. This is where you study the environment where you’ll be setting foot in. Go to gigs and get to know who plays for which band, which promoter got them there, find out who the kind of people that go to these gigs are, and have a chat with them.

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

Even Rambo did some planning before he single-handedly stormed an army base, trust me. Arguably the most important part for a band, is to get your demos done PROFESSIONALLY. The emphasis on ‘professionally’ is referring to everything that comes with the definition of the word. Source out good producers whose recordings will reflect how amazing you guys truly are. Think about it, as a generic listener, how forgiving will you be towards demos filled with unclear vocals, accompanied by un-tuned strings and drums that may as well be using the rear ends of a rubbish bin.

Secondly, bands often overlook the importance of branding. This refers to how the band portray themselves online and this includes photos, your logo, stickers or anything that requires design work. Here’s a life hack, look for a friend who’s a student of graphic design and chances are, they’ll do it for a free meal because they could do with it in their portfolio anyway. Looking professional will only help others take your music more seriously.

“Bands tend to be more focused on the creative process of making music and often neglect the marketing/PR aspect of it,” Snakeweed studio’s bossman himself, Leonard Soosay told me. With that being said, by no means should you undermine the importance of creating the best music you can, it simply means that after finishing up on a mind blowing song, you are not done. It’s time to think of creative and effective ways for that song to be distributed.

It’s showtime

After countless hours in the studio with your producer, that tireless walk to look for the perfect spot for a new Facebook banner photo and all that chit-chat with promoters and musicians, it’s time to finally share the hard work. This is when your new songs are released and you engage with listeners. Platforms such as Bandcamp ,Soundcloud and Facebook are perfect mediums to engage other musicians and potential fans.

However, according to Roland Lim, producer, mix engineer and owner of Sync Studios ,“depending on online platforms alone can only do so much, you need to meet people, give out a sticker, flier or even your demo amongst other physical promotional tools. Everyone has a Facebook page and gets tonnes of invites to like a page every day so let’s not just do what everyone does and take it up to the next level.” Patience is not running high when people are checking their inbox and they have even less tolerance for notifications from unfamiliar sources.

Done all that? It’s still not quite time to kick back, relax and wait for the organisers of Glastonbury to give you a call begging you to headline their festival. This is the point when the band has to be more proactive than ever in spreading the word. Prepare a press-kit which contains a high-res photo, your logo, the song you have released and most importantly a little write-up about your band and start sending it out to all stakeholders. Stakeholders refers to anyone that can be of help to your band such as the promoters you’ve been talking to, music journalists and any other individuals you feel are influential in the industry.

After action review

If you have done it right, you should have a played a few shows by now and have a reasonable following on social media. With that, it’s good practice to have an after action review. Talk to as many people as possible who have heard your music, study your social media’s traffic and gather as many feedbacks as you can.

After that, sit down with your bandmates and discuss what you believe was done right and what should be improved upon. This doesn’t mean you should switch from playing indie to black metal overnight just because some of the people you spoke to liked it when you guys had that one short heavy guitar riff. It simply serves as a general guideline to how accepted your music is in the environment you’ve been playing in.


it's 11:11

Playing in a band and having your music heard is not as simple as pressing record on a recording software and putting it up online. As Leonard Soosay says, “local bands with good PR and marketing strategies are the ones flying overseas to play shows and are conquering local airwaves”. No matter what your cause, getting your voice heard requires creative tactics and most importantly, hard work. Only when that’s done, should you let your natural talent speak for itself.

Pitching Etiquette – how to approach media

Ah, Public Relations.

It has its perks. Scoring a cool client, brainstorming equally cool  and creative ideas for pitching and marketing angles, meeting colourful personalities (some of them becoming friends), the satisfaction of successful event launches, and ultimately, seeing everything you’ve worked towards slowly forming into tangible results.

But there is a dark side, one that many journalists will attest to – the act of pitching a story for coverage. The frustration is understandable. The incessant hounding, incoherently written press releases, and overfamiliarity, can be off-putting, especially if you’re on a tight deadline.

Let us understand a typical day of a journalist’s job – having to sieve through mountains of emails and pitches for a headline-grabbing story, research, fact checking, interviewing multiple sources, transcribing those interviews, and having to complete at least five to six stories at the end of the week (or day, in some cases).

How do they find their stories if not through contacts, and long, in-depth investigations and breaking news events? Often, it’s because a PR person passed it to them, helped them find the right people to talk to, and ensured they had the right images and interesting angles. Despite what we might say about one another, journalists do use press releases for content, the relationship between media and PR is symbiotic – we need each other to survive in the industry.

I was once the eager beaver obsessed about clinching the cover story. I would follow up (pester) aggressively, and had no qualms about being pushy; not realising that I may come across as insincere and unabashed.

So how do we pitch with grace? There is an art to the delicate craft, which is all about the finer details – picking the right words, and getting the across the right message in the press release, actually knowing your client or brand to be able to convince editors why they’re worth writing about, and giving alternative angles.

According to Social Media Today, and my fellow Mutants, there are a few points to bear in mind for an effective email pitch.

Know your brand, and the journalist or publication you’re pitching to:
Mutant Directors, Joe and Jacqui, used to be journalists from The New Zealand Herald, who affirm that there is nothing more annoying then an “irrelevant” pitch, “Don’t pitch a fashion story to a Food Editor or Foreign Correspondent. Save yourself a bit of time and do a little research to make sure that you are speaking to the right person.”

Keep it Short and Simple:
“Brevity is the soul of wit” – Keep to the point and get your message across clearly with minimum words.

Bullet points:
It can’t get any clearer than succinct, concise, and factual bullet points – a journalist’s dream.

Nabeel, Mutant’s Communications Assistant, says that adopting a friendly tone when speaking with journalists on the phone helps, “Also be clear and stick to key points when explaining the reason of your call.”

This is where ‘relationship building’ comes to play – make it a little special and address them by their names. Writers know when it’s a generic cookie- cutter blast. Make an effort to know them, and make small talk about an article they wrote on this week’s paper.

Jacqui says that it helps if you sincerely get along with the writers. Meet them up for coffee or lunch, “I feel more compelled to read an email from someone whom I’m already familiar with. Don’t bribe, or be too needy – be natural, as you would with a friend.”

According to Hunter PR blog, they loathe the question, “So have you read my email?”, so try an alternative approach when following up – offer new and interesting angles, or try and tempt them with……

Giveaways and Freebies!:
You don’t have to force things down their throat for coverage, there is a more passive and effective way for them to relate with your product or client, and offer their readers a reward. Have them review it; send them samples, run competitions and giveaways for their readers.

Following Up:
Daniel, Mutant’s Content Manager, thinks that following up in a timely and tactful manner will do wonders, “Give it a few days before calling to follow up. Be confident and prepared for whatever questions that may be thrown at you.”

Pace your flow of information:
Going back to the first point, keep your message short and simple – don’t reveal too much and try to whet their appetite. Once they bite the bait, furnish them with more details.

Journalists everywhere will start thanking you for this. (You’re welcome!)

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

Social Media – Threat or Asset?

Social media and breaking news

Social media is becoming or has become a part of everyone’s life – even the aunties and uncles have embraced it, despite their misgivings.

Unfortunately, the aunties and uncles were right, as many do turn the freedom social media brings into a stage for their mischief. In recent months, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of hacked social media accounts – most recently the tweet by ‘AP’ announcing explosions in the White House.

Perhaps motivated by the movie ‘Olympus has Fallen’, the hacker has decided to bring the plot alive in his own ways. He hacked into the twitter account of The Associated Press (AP) and tweeted the above. The impact of the bogus tweet is shocking. The 12 words tweet drove the Dow Jones Index down 145 points and sent the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index reeling, wiping out US$136 billion.

The threat of hackers always exists in the world of Internet. However, there is no ignoring the fact that the fastest, cheapest and often most cost-effective way to achieve global coverage is, for most companies, social media.

Michael Gass, a new business consultant for advertising agencies said ‘Social media is a savior not a nemesis, an asset not a liability, a time saver not a time killer for ad agency new business.’

Hence, practice good working habits, and just make sure you account cannot be hacked.
(1) Limit 3rd party access
(2) Change password early and often
(3) Avoid Malware
(4) Log in and log out with care
(5) Check on your account regularly

We’ve all heard this.

But, if you’re a big shot…

Never before have so many people heard, screen-shot and shared, what you just said.

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