Pitching perfect: 6 tips PR pros should know before picking up the phone

Media pitching takes tact and research. It’s a means to much of what the public sees today, whether it’s a published news story, a successful media event or the general hype surrounding a brand or product.

Securing a media placement can be the best feeling in the world, but here’s what happens along the way that no one will tell you about:

Journalists want to know how you can help them

Not the other way around. When pitching a story make sure you tell the journalist how your product or service can benefit their readers. With multiple editorial deadlines looming above their heads, journalists are no-nonsense individuals.

To make things easier for both of you, avoid engaging in too much small talk when you’re on the phone. Cut to the chase on what you have to offer.

Don’t pitch between 9 and 11am

You’ve got a piece of news you’re so excited about and you just want to pitch it over the phone first thing in the morning. But guess what? The newsrooms are the busiest in the morning, as editors and journalists come together and work hard to gather all the news to be published or broadcasted.

This also means that no one’s going to be available to pick up your call – for a couple of hours at least.

The trick to get around this is to drop a pitch email early enough in the morning, so journalists can pick the story up and bring it into the newsroom. Who knows this could even mean your story gets picked up without much pitching or following up!

Skip the pitch on a Friday

Like you and I, journalists wrap up for their week on Fridays, getting themselves ready to wind down for the weekend. Even if it’s just a pitch email, a seasoned PR pro will know to stay clear of Fridays.

Unless it’s breaking news, the probability of journalists looking into your pitch is almost non-existent. By Monday, your pitch would have been drowned out by hundreds of other fresh pitches for the week.

Pitch at your own risk!

A friend on the inside helps

Cultivating a healthy friendship with a member of the media can help with achieving far greater results in a shorter amount of time – think picking up the phone and sharing a story with a friend.

When you’ve established that relationship, your media friend will be more open about sharing with you the reasons your pitch wasn’t picked up, or even what they’re looking for to supplement their stories.

Do however be mindful that not every journalist is comfortable or open to becoming your best buddy. Respect their boundaries when the time comes and remain professional.

Tailor your pitches like an Armani suit

Before picking up the phone, write down the name of the journalist, their title, their beat, the publication, and your angle.

The secret formula to landing a news story is to never get started without any prior research about whom you’re calling. By research, I mean reading up about the journalist you’re pitching to, learning more about what they write about, and what they’ve just written about.

Grow thicker skin

Rejection can be a tough pill to swallow, but it’s nothing personal. There are a number of reasons why you got turned down: The angle doesn’t fit with the editorial brand or audience, it had already been covered, or there is just no sellable angle.

At the end of the day, this will all mould you into the toughest PR pro who can remain unfazed in face of rejection. Don’t be dejected, pick up the phone and keep dialing.

Need advice on pitching your next big story? CTA desingns (1)-01

Get in touch with us at [email protected] for help with your next pitch!

10 steps to Instagram success for unsexy companies

Can you tell your brand story in nine images? According to eMarketer, Instagram’s global mobile ad revenues are expected to reach $2.81 billion by next year. With 400 million users and growing, visual content via social media is becoming an increasingly important part of a marketing campaign.

Corporate tech giants like IBM, Intel, Salesforce and Cisco are killing it on the photo-sharing app. How? The key isn’t in exotic landscapes, squat workouts, or well-lit bacon burgers – it’s about telling your brand story in a cohesive tone that’s unique to your company.

Here are 10 steps to success on one of the world’s most influential platforms.

1. Start with your core company values.

If you don’t have a tangible product to work around, the sky is still the limit for creativity. Pluck out key points from your brand manifesto. Concepts like ‘delighting customers’, ‘teamwork’, ‘encouraging innovation’ are possible to illustrate in a creative photograph.

2. Profile staff.

If the global success of Humans of New York doesn’t have you convinced, check out some of the creative staff posts from IBM. Your employees are all part of the brand story. Include a short description or anecdote of your staff member’s role in the company. Plus, there are tons of fun ways to take a profile shot for Instagram.


3. Be cohesive.

Have one picture lead to the next. We don’t just mean with colour and lighting, but with the tone of each picture. Have transitions between uploads. For example, if you’re posting about a company outing, have some transitions or pre-event hype: i.e. “T-minus 45 minutes ‘til we pile into the car for the conference!”

4. Show behind the scenes.

Context is a great way to express your brand values. Showing the magic behind what you do with a sneak peak at of your office, lab, or even toilet.

5. Engage with your community.

Instagram didn’t get to 400 million users by just being a photo app. Comments, captions and trending hashtags are chances to engage directly to your audience like a friend. It’s not the place to sell. Use the space below the snap to ask questions and likewise go through other accounts of similar companies. Then tag, comment, hashtag, and of course, double tap.

6. Humble brag about your office space.

Get inspired by accounts like @apartmenttherapy and post pics from the office. Ask users for suggestions on how to improve a space or what colour to paint a wall. Ugly office? Creative #desk spaces get good hits!

7. Show your company culture.

What do your programmers do when they’re not doing sprints? Create FOMO with your staff. Show happy staff in action, whether brainstorming, in a meeting, or just chillin’ on the couch. A strong company culture strengthens a company’s brand. Likewise, your staff are your brand ambassadors, and happy staff are more likely to share their company activity on social media leading to more engagement.


8. Hop on holidays.

Festive holidays and other relevant events are an easy way to be part of a larger dialogue and increases your chance of being noticed. Even posting a custom greeting card, Christmas tree, or candy hearts spelling out your company name connects you to your users.

9. Focus on quality.

Take an extra couple of seconds to step into the right light and do a little set planning before snapping and uploading. Amateur pics are great to ‘keep it real’, but at the end of the day, you’re competing with millions of photos online. Make each one count.

10. Own it.

Popularised by Millennials inspired to ‘work with what they got’, owning it is taking pride in what you have. Businesses today don’t need to look longingly at National Geographic  or Nasty Gal with envy. Say, if you have cloud-based software that’s hard for people to understand, create fun ways to illustrate it. There are plenty of pretty accounts out there, just make yours looks like you (don’t believe me? Just take a look at Sharpie’s account. It’s only a pen, but it’s one of the coolest Instagram pages around.)

Do more (of what makes you happy) #BeHappy #Sharpie   A photo posted by @sharpie on

We hope this helps your company get its Instagram game off the ground. Tweet us @mutantcomms to tell us how you make your unsexy business cool, or get in touch with us at [email protected]

How to create effective visual content

Over the last 12 months, content has become the cool, hip kid on the block.

Comprising of everything from blogs and e-books, through to social media posts and viral videos, marketers can’t get enough of it… and for good reason. It produces results!

But an often overlooked aspect of great content is visual graphics. These branded images, short videos, infographics and more also fall under the content banner, and should be a permanent addition to any content marketing strategy.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and people are more likely to absorb visual content. Particularly with the copious amount of information we are exposed to on a daily basis, it becomes hard to absorb everything, so the simpler and more concise the information, the better for the targeted audience.

Only 10% of people remember what they hear, 20% remember what they read and 80% of people remember what they see. (Source)

This means content teams must ensure they are creatively presenting information with more visual appeal, and coming up with campaigns that lend themselves to pictorial and graphical ideas.

Infographics are one of the more popular pieces of visual content around. They’re not only easy on the eye, but also educate the audience in a simple and effective manner. A good infographic has a consistent and sequential flow of information that is presented in easy to absorb facts. Take a look at some snippets of my favourites below:

storing-food-infographictwitter

 

 

 

 

What makes them so good? They tell a story quickly in an entertaining way, with useful facts to draw from.

Here are a few quick tips to get your visual content in tip top shape.

  • Less is more

The biggest flaw is trying to fit in way too much information; it very quickly stops being effective. The idea of visual content is to be clever with how the information is presented, otherwise you might just as well write an article or blog.

You want your readers to remember what you are presenting to them, and keeping it simple and to the point means they are more likely to absorb and retain the information.

  • Get factual

Decide on a timeline of events or a process for how you want your audience to read the information. Then, pull out only the key facts and present only this through a series of illustrations, graphics or videos.

You might have a ton of data, but only use what’s relevant and easy to comprehend.

  •  Colours and content

Colours matter a lot when it comes to visual content. Ensure your graphics are suited to the type of information you are presenting.

Brighter red, blue and green shades are more likely to stand out and get noticed, but darker colours such as black or navy can be just as effective in representing sophistication or something concerning.

Hopefully now you have a bit more of an understanding about presenting visual content. Try and incorporate these tips into your content marketing strategy, and to help you come up with cool and creative ways to present information to educate and inspire.

If you need help with your visual content please get in touch with me at [email protected]

5 ways to get booed off stage

Pretty much all great orators – the ones who can talk to 10,000 people while giving off that ‘just having a casual chat with my mate on the sofa’ vibe – can do what they do because they have a lot of practice under their belts. Many have also probably had media training.

Public speaking with impact takes practice and planning. All companies worth their salt understand the importance their ambassadors have in representing their brand, and invest in experts like us at Mutant to help develop confident and compelling delivery.

However, we’ve seen plenty of people who have decided to jump in front of an audience without proper training, thinking they know what they’re doing (can anyone say crash and burn?)

Here are five of the most effective but un-obvious ways to completely lose your audience.

1. Inflate that ego, Narcissus.

“I really really want the audience to like me!”

If you want to alienate your audience and make them instantly dislike you, put yourself before them.

Essentially, your approach to public speaking is all wrong if you aren’t considering what your audience is going to get out of your speech or presentation. You should be asking yourself, “what do I want the audience to leave with, and how do I make this as easy for them to understand as possible?

A presentation should be planned, written and practised with the audience in mind. This might include:

– Explaining to the audience why you are there and what you are going to present
– Speak important points slowly and repeat them if necessary – but not to the point of condescension
– Conclude by recapping on salient point.

Just remember your audience likely doesn’t know the content as well as you do, so be nice, personable and make your presentation an enjoyable experience – not something they have to survive through.

2. Have absolutely no idea who you’re talking to

Who are your audience? Are they industry leaders? Experienced professionals? Media? Or fresh-faced young talent with a blank slate and open minds? Let the audience inform your delivery.

If they are experts in your field, feel free to dive deep on the detail, acronyms and jargon. If not, calibrate accordingly. It’s surprising how many people get this wrong.

3. Keep it boring, stale, and loooooooooooooong

Even if you’re speaking to a room of industry heavyweights, don’t make the mistake of trying to show superior intelligence by being verbose. Using impenetrable language and stretching one point into five alienates your audience, turns them off and bores them to death. At worst, you might make them think you have something to hide (I could have used the word obfuscate but then, but I chose not to, precisely for this reason.)

TED speakers aren’t allowed to exceed 18 minutes for their presentations. You have a precious time limit for the audience’s attention, who will probably only leave remembering three of your points. Choose them wisely and give them impact.

4. Leave them wanting…less?

A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.” – Winston Churchill

Thanks for the typically uncouth quote Winston, but you get the point. This massively applies to a presentation where you want to signpost the audience onto something else. It could be to a product, another event or even an interview with your client. Spill all of the beans and they wont have any need to pursue it further.

5. Over rely on scripts and slides

“I’ll read from my script. That way I’ll avoid the risk of saying the wrong thing or forgetting my point.”

No, no, and no. A speech, presentation or interview is about having a conversation. Even if you’re the only one talking on stage, you’re trying to create a dialogue – not a monologue – between yourself and the audience, and the only way to do that is to talk, not read, and be engaging while you do it.

You want people to walk away believing two things:

a) You believe in your stuff
b) You know your stuff

Yes, it’s good to prepare. But to rely on a script equals less engagement and snoring audiences. Your whole tone and body language changes when you read, rather than talk, and it’s highly obvious. Plus, there are the technicalities to be concerned with. What if the projector doesn’t work on the day? What if someone wants to interview you afterwards to clarify or repeat a point? Knowing your key themes and messages will allow you avoid having to re-wind the tape and start over again.

Learn two or three key points you want to convey from each slide and practice making each point off the cuff without crutches. This will make you more natural, relaxed and ultimately more compelling.

Want to learn more about how to better conduct yourself in front of media? Get in touch with us at hello@mutant.com.sg

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The secret to getting people to open your emails

Getting your point across in an email isn’t as easy as you think.

No matter who your customer base is, chances are they receive dozens of emails and newsletters every day, informing them of special deals, new information or other updates to their business that might be of interest. It’s incredibly easy to get lost in the noise.

People are busy, and you have about one second to grab their attention when your newsletter pings in their inbox (check out my previous blog to help you create a newsletter people actually want to read.) That one second comes down to what you choose to put in your subject line. It’s what determines whether they click to open, or click to delete.

After all, what’s the point in sending out the greatest email there ever was, if no one opens it?

I subscribe to pretty much everything, so as you can imagine I’ve got a decent sample of both good and bad newsletters to draw inspiration from. There are a bunch I delete without taking a second look, but what about the ones that I actually do bother to open and actually read?

Here are some examples of effective emails that have landed in my inbox, which compelled me to click.

Zalora

Email Subject: How to look stunningly well dressed for any occasion
Content: Fashion/clothing options for any occasion

Zalora have crafted some amazing emails and really know how to use the power of email marketing to get directly in front of their readers. They have used what is called a “trendy topic” headline and made it catchy and relevant to their subscribers.

AirAsia

Email Subject: HURRY, grab your FREE SEATS now! Only 4 days left!
Content: A selection of destinations across Asia with free flights

Most people know AirAsia, and in this particular email they have really drawn on the “free” aspect to get people’s attention. Their audience are regular travellers looking out for cheaper deals (why else would they subscribe to a budget airline newsletter?) and so the use of the word “free” is an instant attention-grabber. The subject also has created a sense of urgency that encourages readers to click through – a very clever move.

The attraction to open email newsletters is heavily based on what is written in the subject and how much it appeals to a person at that particular time.

Here’s what you should be doing with your email subject line:

Summarise, and leave the reader wanting more: In a very short 40-50 characters (or less), you will need to summarise what your email/newsletter/offer is about. Keep your readers curious and encourage the clickthrough.

Make it urgent: Where possible, make the reader feel they must know the information you are presenting to them NOW. This is more likely to encourage people to take action with fear of feeling left out.

Keep the content relevant: Writing catchy subject lines doesn’t mean succumbing to clickbait. Your readers will get annoyed if your content is not relevant to what is written in the subject. You can be creative and quirky to capture attention, but ensure that your content is related.

Ask yourself why?: Why would (or should) people bother opening your email? Is what you’re saying important and worth opening to investigate further? Just because it matters to you, that doesn’t mean it appeals to others, so do your research.

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

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Content Marketing for HR: Attracting the right talent

Hiring good talent is tough. The recruitment process can be long, expensive and exhaustive, especially in a competitive talent marketplace like Singapore and wider Southeast Asia.

Over the past few years, recruiters have had to become increasingly creative with how they attract and connect with the right talent. Today, we know this goes well beyond well-written job descriptions and Facebook likes – you’ve got to go deeper and think long-term about how you make effective candidate connections.

One of the best ways to do this is with content. Regular, targeted and insightful articles about your company, its core values, your people and the way you operate (for starters!) is an enormously effective means of drawing in potential talent with the right skills, personality and mindsets to match your culture.

Then, you can go deeper. Engage your audience with thought pieces from your senior management; share your opinions on newsworthy topics and relevant industry happenings; provide inspirational stories and videos about employees who have done great things within your organisation, or share your insights around any research or data your business and its various units has released.

Let’s be clear: this is not a short-term strategy. In order to actively promote your company as an attractive place to work, you need to consistently and effectively write and share stories on the platforms and networks where your ideal talent spends their time. From brand awareness to creating a desire to click “apply” for a role you are advertising, content can seriously change the way you recruit if you capture people at the right point of the sales funnel.

Why does it work? It’s simple:

  • Because people who agree with you and what you write about will share your content with like-minded people.
  • Because if they don’t agree with your culture or values presented in your content, you weed them out early on.
  • Because if you are regularly producing interesting content for potential employees to read, you’ll likely see an increase in the quality of candidates you interview.

If you’re brand new to the content marketing game, don’t worry. It’s not something that can (or should) be rushed, and it requires a decent amount of planning and strategic oversight to get it right. In fact, producing poor quality content hastily could actually do more damage in the long run.

If you’re an HR professional or business leader looking to get started with content, consider the following:

Do you have somewhere to host your content?

Your content is yours. Make sure you have a good, easy to find, platform on your company website or careers page to host the dozens of articles you plan on writing. You’d be surprised how many businesses think plonking an article on their ‘news’ page amid other press releases and internal announcements is effective. If you can, make sure these articles, videos and other pieces of content really stand out to anyone who finds their way there, and is easy to navigate.

Do you have a social recruitment strategy attached to your content marketing plan?

Although you need to have a place to host your content on your own site, potential talent isn’t just hanging around on that page waiting for you to post new stories or blogs. You need to ensure what you produce is being shared on platforms they frequent. Content needs to be promoted and boosted in targeted areas to boost exposure and ensure the right people are clicking through to read what you’ve written. Anyone can spend money and advertise a post to get thousands of likes, but if you’re not increasing the chances of the right people applying for a job with you, then what’s the point?

Your current employees can be your biggest advocates

But it’s not as easy as forcing employees to share your company’s articles. There is a deeper element of employee engagement that plays a part here, and any HR professional worth their salt knows they can’t simply dictate their employee base to like and share content – they have to want to do it. And if they do want to do it, it’s quite simply one of the best ways to show that your business really is an awesome place to work.

Your content marketing efforts should strongly tie into your overall employer branding strategy and company culture. After all, how can you write about what an amazing culture your business has if it’s not exactly true?

Content Marketing CTA

If you’d like to discuss how content marketing can help your business attract talent, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

How to communicate like Elon Musk

Elon Musk is the world’s raddest man. Sure, he’s an engineer, investor, genius, innovator, and has an actual car startup. But did you know he’s also really good at email?

Musk’s success comes (in part) from his effective interpersonal skills. He’s a stuttery public speaker, but he can pitch. He’s nothing special in interviews, but is often quoted. Being an effective communicator doesn’t mean being a great talker — that’s why politicians seldom create big changes they promise.

Communicating a vision and being a leader takes tact, it’s about having great interpersonal skills: Listening, having manners, social skills, and really understanding who you’re speaking to.

Here’s three ways you can communicate like Elon:

  1. Cut the acronyms in emails:

In an interview with Henry Blodget, CEO and editor-in-chief of Business Insider, Musk joked: “I do a lot of email – very good at email. That’s my core competency.”

His secret? Avoiding acronyms. The man hates them. I found this excerpt from his book on this Quora thread, “Why is Elon Musk so good at email?”

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 12.56.11 pm

Singapore’s multi-cultural business environment both breeds and suffers from too many acronyms. When staff in a big company are from different parts of a region, they might not want to spell out the whole word, but how many times have you looked up from your desk and hollered, “Hey does anyone know what AFB is!?” Sure you’re saving on word economy, but acronyms are not good for productivity.

Like Musk says in his email: “No one can actually remember all these acronyms and people don’t want to sit there in ignorance. This is particularly tough on new employees.”

So, the next time you’re sending an email out to staff, be clear! It saves everyone time and gets them on the same page.

  1. He cuts the jargon

Musk isn’t an eloquent speaker, but the worst thing than a shaky voice is one that’s full of buzzwords. In this perfect pitch for Tesla he breaks down his problem and solution in a way the audience can understand, not just in a way he understands. The man got people on their feet, over batteries.

https://youtu.be/yKORsrlN-2k

Musk finds a common problem and tells us about a simple solution. It’s classic storytelling. See the full article on how to pitch like him here.

  1. He uses real content to advertise:

Wait but Why is a personal, yet investigative tech blog followed by thousands of people. But at the end of the day, it’s a blog with stick figures on it. Musk called up the writer Tim Urban and asked him to interview him for SpaceX and Tesla. Um what? Check out his post published two days ago on the Huffington Post.

After Urban finished gathering his brains from off the floor, the blogger agreed and met up with Musk to write the multi-part blog series.

Musk is so good at cutting the crap, he doesn’t advertise Tesla. According to Urban, he refuses to advertise for his electric car startup, because “he detests vague spin-doctor phrases like ‘studies say’ and ‘scientists disagree’, and he refuses to advertise for Tesla, something most startup car companies wouldn’t think twice about – because he sees advertising as manipulative and dishonest”.

Bonus lesson:

You don’t have to be a great orator or rocket scientist to communicate your vision. All it takes is thinking about making things clear and simple for your audience. If Elon can make electric cars and space travel easy to understand, you should be able to, too.

The last lesson on how to be more like Musk is a bonus one: Always say what you mean. We’ll leave you with this quote from the part one of the interview with Musk:

“He’s been saying the same things in interviews for a decade, often using the same exact phrasing many years apart. He says what he really means, no matter the situation – one employee close to Musk told me that after a press conference or a business negotiation, once in private he’d ask Musk what his real angle was and what he really thinks. Musk’s response would always be boring: ‘I think exactly what I said’.”

Do you need to better communicate your messaging through effective content? Get in touch with us at [email protected]

Image Credit: Elon Musk, Tesla Factory, Fremont (CA, USA) by Maurizio Pesce. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons

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How to make your Instagram content discoverable

Congratulations! You’ve created an Instagram page for your business. Now what?

Since acquiring Instagram in 2012, Facebook has kept this simple photo-sharing app going from strength to strength.

With developers tirelessly rolling out updates to enhance its existing features, marketers and business owners alike need to ensure they are keeping up with the changes and learning to use the functionalities to their advantage.

Earlier this year, Instagram shifted its focus to its search function, giving users an even more comprehensive experience. This function was later made available on Instagram’s website, making the Instagram’s explore function one of its strongest suits at the moment – excellent news for users seeking out new content!

I’d like to present you with 3 simple, yet frequently overlooked, habits I promise will amplify your content’s visibility on Instagram.

They require little effort and time, and – best of all – there’s no cost attached to help make your content more discoverable (unless, of course, you’re wanting to explore Instagram’s latest developments – advertising – which is taking off around the globe!)

  1. Geotag your content

Geotag: To Include the specific location of your photograph at the moment you upload it.

Essentially, geotagging stores your current location – longitude and latitude – along with your photo, and this data is accessible to Instagram with your permission. You can also choose to add a location to your photo through the “Name this location” option, meaning you can tell people where you are at any time – a restaurant, a shop, an event or a business headquarters.

It’s simple and effective, but most businesses don’t make proper use of this very simple function.

Having your business as a location option allows people who come by your business, whatever it may be, to choose it as a location. This means customers can ‘check in’ at your location, and it allows other used to follow the location link and see other people’s posts related to the same location. This is an incredible effective way to showcase your product or venue and reach new customers. If you’re a shop on a busy street, it can be a great way for tourists to find out about you, for example.

It also gives you the option of regramming (re-posting) the images your customers are sharing to your official business Instagram, if it aligns with your branding and tone. This opens up lines of communication between your business and customers, which is always a positive.

  1. Using hashtags

Another way to enhance discovery on Instagram is to keep up with the #hashtag game.

Please note that I am not encouraging you #to #hashtag #every #little #thing – too many people do this, and it’s a strong indication that they don’t understand the actual usage of hashtags. Too many hashtags will distract your content from its key message and gain invaluable traction.

A good rule of thumb is to stick to one hashtag unique for your business (such as your brand name), along with two to five other hashtags made up of keywords relevant to your content. Not hashtags that will get you as many “likes” on your post as possible. (i.e very generic terms that can be linked to something else entirely.)

Pairing good content with inappropriate hashtags is like putting a snake and a mongoose together – it’s painful to watch, and the mongoose has no chance.

Over time, relevant and appropriate hashtags can create a following of their own, allowing users to search for it and find out more about your business. The more specific you can get with your hashtag, the more targeted your audience will can, which ultimately leads to better engagement.

  1. Following your followers (and non-followers)

If you’re unsure of who to start following, try making use of Instagram’s search function to carry out either a location-based search, or a hashtag search. The search will lead you to images that will help you locate people who have interests similar to yours.

Look through a list of people with interests aligned with your brand’s, or people whose demographics are closest to that of your intended audience. (Their bios and posts would be a good indication of their personalities, to a certain extent.)

If you already have a following, you may want to consider following your followers back. Alternatively, you can go through your competitor’s followers, and identify those you would like to follow.

Following people is almost like an open invitation into their lives, allowing you to find out more about what people are talking about and what they care about. You will also be able to identify social media trends taking place and better craft content around that trend to stay relevant!

If you’d like to speak about your brand’s social media strategy, please feel free to reach out at [email protected].      

Image: Courtesy of @sharpie‘s Instagram page

How to create a newsletter people actually want to read

newsletter

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] 

4 ways to target expat consumers on Facebook

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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]

Chronicles of a public relations intern

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So, you’re a PR intern. Or you want to be one. School’s out, and it’s time to make a quick buck! (I kid, I kid.)

 

Good for you. Like me, you should want to expand your industry knowledge and gain relevant experience in your field of interest before you graduate. It gives you a great step up and puts you in prime position when looking for your first full-time role.

In my case, I saw a tweet (yes, the power of social media!) looking for a PR and content marketing intern, so I emailed the boss, arranged for an interview, and TA-DAH – I scored the internship!

It has been a couple of months and a series of learning experiences working in a growing agency in Singapore. For all you other PR intern wannabes, here are four important highlights of my initial experience.

1. Media Pitching – Stay hopeful and don’t give up

Expectation: I’m going to get so many good hits the first time around. It’s an interesting pitch, with a good press kit and it’s totally gonna be picked up by all mainstream media by morning.

Reality: Oh my goodness, I’m sending so many emails, I better get some good hits. I am spending an awful lot of time on the phone following up. But it’s okay, it’s working. But it’s not as easy as sending out an email!

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Pitching is an art, I’ve learned. Even if your email pitch is on point, you’re going to have to get on the phone and follow up, and then again, and then again…

While my number one tip would be to always bcc (God save the poor soul who forgets this), the other golden rule is to get used to personalising your email pitches. Nobody wants to feel like they are ‘just another journalist’. Make them feel special, address them, and show them you’ve done your research into why this story and this client is of interest to their audience.

It’s tough when you receive a “Thank you for your email, however this is not what we are looking for”, which is really a very polite “Thanks, but no thanks”.

2. Know your client inside-out

Pitching is one thing, but following up and answering questions from journalists as they decide whether or not your client is worth covering is another. What you know about your client off the top of head could be make or break their decision.

This is one reason why you need to personalise your pitches, as mentioned above, and why you should only pitch to relevant media. It’s also a good reminder that you are here not only to help your client, but to make the journalist’s job easier. 

Journalists receive tons of emails a day, and dozens of press releases. Naturally, they will only pick up stories that are relevant to their sectors. They will thank you if you’ve done half their job for them. Score some brownie points along the way. *wink*

3. Build and maintain relationships with journalists

Expectation: Oh man, journalists are scary. I’ve heard so many horror stories about mean journos screaming down the phone. Will they like me? Will they be nice? I’m going to be sooooo awkward.

Reality: Oh. Journalists are actually human. They’ve been incredibly nice when I strike up a conversation. They’re not monsters after all. Phew.

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I went to my first networking event about one week into my internship and was pleasantly surprised at how fun it was. The journalists were cool, and interesting, and I realised just how important that connections are going to become. It’s all about the people – not, ahem, just the drinking – and every person you meet could be a potential client.

Another important practice is remembering your name card (yep, don’t leave that baby behind), and getting into the habit of continuing the party once it’s over. No, that doesn’t mean taking the party back to your place – it means dropping your new acquaintances and the organisers an email when you’re back in the office the next day (not hungover at all.) Say thank you, and that it was nice to meet them. Manners go a long way in this industry.

4. Media monitoring

Expectation: I heard interns have to flip through dozens of newspapers and magazines every single day. How many articles do I have to clip? This is going to be DULL.

Reality: Oh my god, software exists that helps me create media lists and follow up on media placements?! HOORAY. You are now my soul mate and my best friend.

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Because the client is paying for a service to get their company/word/brand out there in the market – and they’re competing with so many other companies to do this – it’s important they can see how their money is being spent.

Overall, the biggest takeaway from my internship to date is that every industry and every job has its challenges. What I’ve experienced may not be what all PR interns experience, but stay open-minded, be proactive to learn, and always be kind.  You have to start from somewhere, even if it’s the bottom.

Get in touch with Jazmyne at [email protected]

3 reasons your start-up should consider Instagram

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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]