Why Brands Should Consider Being Woke

Of late, brands have woken from their corporate slumber to take stances on socio-political issues. Diversity, racial and gender inequality, LGBT rights are just a few of the issues which companies have been addressing and incorporating into their brand—from marketing campaigns to core business values and beliefs.

Leading this politically aware pack is rebellion’s poster child Nike, which succeeded in raising eyebrows doing what other sports brands wouldn’t dare to do–courting the controversial Colin Kaepernick in its latest ad campaign. Nike is not alone in receiving heat for its marketing campaigns. Citibank became the first Wall Street Bank to restrict firearms sales by its business customers – a move both lauded and criticised by people on either sides of the gun control debate.

Enter purpose-driven brands, the latest entities to dominate today’s saturated, hyper-politicised media landscape. While maintaining an opinion used to be a right enjoyed solely by humans, the companies of the 21st century bear little resemblance to their corporate cousins from the previous century. Today, companies who fight the good fight resemble a sentient humanoid with well-rounded, coherent, and informed views on sensitive socio-political issues.

By right, the phenomenon of corporations being politically aware is not new — there have always been some who considered activism to be as important as their bottom-lines, if not more. In the Eighties, ice-cream company Ben and Jerry’s went against the grain by extending health benefits to same-sex couples–almost unprecedented in a time when homosexuality was deemed unnatural. The Body Shop’s Anita Roddick dedicated her entire life to being a vocal advocate for animal rights and environmental causes also while also managing a multi-million-dollar skincare and beauty business.

When firms assume positions on sensitive issues, they transcend their status as capitalist entities and resemble full-fledged humans. In short, by espousing the views of their consumer base they become just like the person they serve, or hope to serve.

Of course, brands with a global reach are likely to have a customer base diverse in thought and belief. Choosing a side in any hotly-debated political topic means alienating some customers on the socio-political spectrum–but also winning the endorsement of several others.

Down with the Youth

Many young people of today no longer view corporations (or capitalism, for that matter) as a positive force. Social media has made it much easier to document and scrutinise in detail the shortcomings of corporate entities. As millennials are one of the biggest consumers of online content, they have no difficulty in accessing vast amounts of information about the companies they patronise. More and more youngsters are taking time to educate themselves on critical socio-political and economic topics, and expect the same from the entities providing them with goods and services.

There is plenty of research to suggest that more young people resonate strongly with “woke” brands than other generations. Gen-Zs are a force to be reckoned with and command considerable financial influence. As a result, companies must work harder to retain relevance with those aged 16-35–and not just perform lip service in the form of rainbow filters and themed merchandise. Levi’s, American Eagle, and Converse are examples of companies who talk the talk and walk the walk–in addition to selling LGBT merchandise, they work with and donate to several organisations which support marginalised communities. Conversely, several consumers have boycotted fast food chain Chick-Fil-A, which reiterated its stance against gay marriage.

Look Beyond Yourself

The relationships brands share with consumers can no longer simply be transactional. Nowadays, people make informed choices regarding products, taking into account not only their own selves but also the wider ecosystem. For instance, consumers are turning to “ethically/responsibly sourced” or “cruelty-free/vegan” products (clothes, food, make-up) which are not environmentally detrimental. When a company goes out of its way to do good, it usually wins the unwavering support of loyal consumers.

If the corporations they patronise do not share their value system or do not make good on their promises, consumers will simply find another company whose actions resonate with their belief system. Consumers in the 21st century seek affirmation through the products and services they consume, and consider factors such as sustainability, inclusivity, and quality to be an integral part of their purchase and consumption journey. Urban Decay Cosmetics, Fenty Beauty, Patagonia and H&M are companies which put sustainability and inclusivity at the core of their businesses.

Court Quality Employees

The implications of a socially conscious brand extend not only to consumers, but also to employees. More millennials and Gen Z-ers are gravitating towards companies whose political stances and actions echo their own. Employees are likely to be happier and more productive in a socially-conscious firm. As an employer, if attracting the next generation of talented changemakers is a priority, then it’s time to start speaking to them in a language they understand.

Of course, purpose-driven brands are not without their naysayers. People proclaim that by latching themselves onto pressing issues, companies are distracting the gullible from considering their “dark deeds”. Keen observers of pop culture have been quick to point how the patterns of brands suddenly becoming social justice warriors is nothing more than late-stage capitalism — a ploy where companies use emotionally-charged marketing tactics to get tongues wagging, generating traction for themselves. In the case of a sports brand whose hard-hitting rebranding campaign proved to be highly profitable, netizens brought to light its unethical and inhumane business practices in foreign countries.

Picking a side is a risky move, both socially and financially. While established companies can weather consumer boycotts and other controversies, smaller firms struggling to establish themselves might not fare so well–unless they have very clearly defined goals and visions from the get-go.

Brands who wish to embrace a meaningful cause in addition to their business endeavours must be consistent in their efforts. For instance, a brand which champions gender equality while underpaying its female employees is clearly faking its wokeness to exploit the emotions of liberal youth. Its cause of choice must be relevant to the history or culture of the brand–if not, its efforts will appear to be shoehorned in and insincere.

Need help crafting an assertive voice? Talk to us at [email protected]

3 PR Lessons We Can Learn from Bey And Jay

Recently, Beyoncé and Jay-Z dropped their first fully collaborative album, The Carters. Critics and fans alike immediately embraced the tracks and hailed the LP as a celebration of Black art, excellence and legacy.

Over the years, the Carters have managed to exert an ironclad control over their public image despite their humongous stature. The four-pronged strategy of largely staying clear of public squabbles and scandals, carefully curating their social media feeds, rarely giving interviews and not hyping their new projects before they’re released has only deepened the mystery surrounding hip hop’s foremost family. This decision is no accident – the couple is notoriously private and this strategy has infused intrigue into their reputation. Because they are rarely in the public eye, when they do pop up, it seems that the whole world sits up and takes notice of them.

From a business perspective, this type of PR strategy seems impossible to implement. But there are some lessons that can be gleaned – here’s what we can learn from the Carters:

Controlling the Narrative

When rumours of trouble in the couple’s marital paradise broke out in 2013, neither party added fuel to the fire. Unlike other celebrity couples who rush to give a statement when their relationships hit rock bottom, the Carters remained mum on the state of their marriage. They addressed the hearsay when Beyoncé released Lemonade in 2016, an entire album peppered with lyrics and visuals that suggested the possibility of marital strain. The endless speculations that ensued proved to be massively profitable for both Jay-Z and Beyoncé.

While controlling the narrative should be a basic skill for any company’s PR team, in this age of hyperconnectivity and non-stop streaming, firms will find themselves with a very small window of time to prevent crisis situations from becoming communications disasters. Whether it’s appeasing a crowd bent on obtaining answers or addressing unsavoury gossip, it’s imperative to weave a story that sets the tone for all future conversations surrounding the topic at hand. That way, your narrative will drown out all other chatter.

A Well-Oiled Social Media Machine

Both Beyoncé and Jay-Z are known to shun traditional PR paths when announcing new content. For albums Beyoncé and Lemonade, Beyoncé decided to bypass mainstream media outlets and release the albums digitally via an announcement that came from her own account. By doing this, she broke the fourth wall and gave the content directly to her fans via social media. The result? Unprecedented success for both albums. For Lemonade specifically, the release of the album was timed at a juncture when social media was rife with conversations surrounding racial tensions and feminism, and the album’s messages on both topics seemed especially poignant. The couple also demonstrates a deep understanding of curated visuals in today’s social media landscape, as reflected in the multiple music videos of Lemonade and Jay-Z’s 4:44.

It’s no secret that combining social media and highly creative visuals is a winning combination. But to ensure the success of your client’s products upon launch, you must leverage social media to reach your target audience. Follow up with a steady stream of high-quality visual content that’s shareable, accessible and most importantly, relevant.

Authenticity

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a recent Beyoncé or Jay-Z interview. Instead of relying on the media, or even social media, to give fans an inside look at their lives, both Bey and Jay prefer to pour little details of their life into their music. Beyoncé’s mastery of social media is impressive – she occasionally posts rare snapshots from her day-to-day life, puts time and effort into creating a spectacle when announcing milestones and hardly ever adds captions or hashtags, letting the images speak for themselves. As a result, fans interpret and discuss the images, and are left wanting more.

Audiences are smart and can easily discern an inauthentic brand. So cut through the clutter by staying true to your brand’s core values and identity; be honest and daring, let your voice ring true in all your communications and never be afraid to weigh in on issues that are pertinent to your business.

Though you may encounter 99 problems, PR should never be one. A good PR strategy is irreplaceable – so why not invest time and energy in creating a fail-proof communications game plan? Reach out to us if you’re in the dark about how to get started.

Need help crafting the ideal PR strategy? Drop us a message at [email protected]

(Cover photo source: Pinterest)

Tips on using PR to build a brand for small businesses

For most small businesses with limited resources, public relations tend to be overlooked as a viable business strategy.. However, an effective public relations strategy can be incredibly valuable. In many cases, it is a cost effective way of getting your brand out there and building a strong reputation without the expensive cost of traditional advertising.

So, if you run a small business, consider these tips  to get the right kind of attention your brand needs – all without breaking the bank:

Find the right people

Journalists are constantly getting emails with story pitches that don’t often relate to their beat. To cut through the clutter, make sure what you are sending their way is relevant to their publication, and what they cover.

Do your research to find out who you should be targeting, and spend time understanding their publication. Reading what journalists are currently tracking and covering is a good starting point in building a media list. Remember, journalists who are already interested in the space you’re in are more likely to publish what you have to say.

Know what the media needs

Sure, your story is important to you, but is it newsworthy? The key to a well-written press release is not imbuing it with flowery language; it’s nailing down a compelling news angle and getting straight to the point. Journalists are often on the go just like you, so go with a punchy headline to grab the journalist’s attention, and keep it short and sweet.

Strike while the iron is hot

Sometimes, tying your announcement in with a timely moment can help give it an extra boost through that connection. If you’re launching a new product, do a bit of research to find out if there are any upcoming events, occasions or even trending topics that are relevant to your product. Use a recent trending topic that is linked directly to features of your business or business model. For instance, McDonalds struck gold with their nasi lemak-inspired burger by launching it ahead of Singapore’s 50th National Service anniversary. A clever spin on a classic dish, the burger was a massive hit thanks to its local appeal and opportune release date.  Connecting the two can enable you to tap on that trending issue.

Communicate your expertise

Even as a small business owner, you are still an authority in your field. Communicate that expertise by positioning yourself as an expert in the industry, and build yourself up as a thought leader with a story to tell the media. There’s always a story to tell, you’ve just got to find the right angle to communicate it. The key here is to step out of living and breathing your product. Showing thought leadership requires you to go beyond just how amazing your product is. You will have to demonstrate your understanding on the issues faced by your target audience and how you can solve them.

Make it visual

In today’s multiscreen world, people respond well to visuals. If you’re pitching a story involving data and numbers, putting them into one neat infographic can bring your story to life. You will be surprised at how much a good image can enhance your press release or media kit. It is definitely worth the investment to have a professional come in to take pictures of your products and spokespeople.

Getting your brand off the ground when you’re running a lean operation may be a daunting task, but when done right, an effective PR campaign tailored to the needs of your small business can do wonders – even with limited resources.

Need a helping hand on getting your brand and voice out there? Reach out to [email protected]

How to get the most out of your relationship with your marketing agency

A client-agency relationship is more than just a business transaction. It takes more than charismatic account management and savvy sales pitches to make the relationship really work. What many agencies and clients miss, is in the on boarding process– from the business objectives to the culture. Here are 5 key points to help you kick-start an awesome partnership with your marketing agency:

Invest some time

Given that you’re trusting this agency with the reputation of your brand, you need to feel confident about the ability and reputation of the team. Plus,  actually getting on well with the people you’re dealing with has a huge impact on your relationship – so don’t be afraid to explore the company culture, values and, of course, technical expertise. Developing authentic, trusted connections with your customers is at the heart of marketing; similarly, you need to feel confident in your relationship with your agency. The best way to do this? Invest some time when it comes to finding out a little bit more about the agency, whether it be heading over for a lengthy chemistry meeting, going out to lunch or arranging a happy hour.

Agree to a communication plan

At the start of any new client relationship, a communication plan should be mutually agreed upon from day one. 

Some tips to consider when agreeing to a clear communication plan:

  • How often and how you’ll catch up, whether it’s in person or over a call
  • Your point of contact – Knowing exactly who your liaison is saves a lot of time and effort when you’re in need of a prompt  response
  • The agreed goals and objectives for your business and what you expect from your agency.
Set measurable key performance indicators (KPIs)

In order to keep up with and evaluate the performance of your campaigns, your agency will need to provide you with specific metrics against which to benchmark success. These should be based on business goals and expectations that were set out at the very beginning of your relationship. Reviewing them thoroughly will allow for greater productivity moving forward, and will also signal when there needs to be a change in strategic direction as well.

Make your meetings count

No matter how often or seldom your meetings occur,  preparation will enable you to get the most value from your meetings with your agency and negate the need for continuous threads of emails or calls outside your regular meetings.

Tips:

  • Agree upon an agenda before each meeting. This will give you the opportunity to include topics that are a priority
  • Have objectives clearly defined before the meeting
  • Ensure all relevant people are present to allow decisions to be made
Make the most of your agency’s expertise

You know your brand and industry the best. Similarly, your agency will know the latest developments and technologies in their industry best. In order to optimise your campaigns, they should be able to anticipate twists and turns, and should have the ability to adapt quickly when things don’t go as first planned or when new opportunities arise.

Your agency should always work according to your agreed plan and scope, but flexibility is crucial to the success of your campaign performance. Not only does this benefit your outcome, but its encourages your trust in them to be able to deliver on outcomes that matter to you.

At the end of the day, your agency contains a wealth of knowledge and expertise, so use it! Explore all the ways you can learn from them;  whether it’s downloading guides, reading their blog or regular newsletter or simply asking questions your agency can help you grow your own skill set.

Want to talk more about how an agency of experts could help your business? Drop us a line at [email protected]

4 PR Takeaways from the Winter Olympics 2018

The frozen mountains of South Korea have seen much action over the last two weeks, as Olympians brave the freezing temperatures and unforgiving landscapes to bring glory to their countries. As the 2018 Winter Olympics draws to a close, here’s a few PR lessons to consider:

Relatability is key

Brands should take a page out of teen virtuoso Chloe Kim’s book- even in the middle of competition, the Olympic gold medalist shamelessly tweeted about her dog, being “hangry” and her eyeliner. Her sincere and heartfelt posts won over netizens, making her one of the most popular athletes in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

While we don’t suggest that your brand blog about everything under the sun, it is necessary to speak the language of consumers. Chloe Kim became everyone’s best friend almost overnight because she came across as a regular teenage girl to her peers despite being an accomplished athlete. Similarly, your brand should engage with your target audience in a way that feels authentic, relatable and honest. Speak the language of your consumers, and encourage two-way dialogue wherever possible.

Switch things up

Historically, figure skating costumes have been always been gendered. This year, Hungary’s Ivett Toth, France’s Maé-Bérénice Méité and Latvia’s Diana Nikitina were amongst the few women skaters who challenged status quo by ditching the usual skirts and dresses in favour of embellished bodysuits. Ivett Toth’s leather-and-AC/DC routine made her an instant internet sensation.

Similarly, the PR industry has undergone massive changes in the past century. Digital disruption and the emergence of a new generation that perpetually lives online presents a new set of challenges to brands. To keep things fresh and interesting, your business must come up with unexplored ways of reaching out to potential consumers. Amp up your communication game by daring to go where your competitors have not ventured before — and, your customers are bound to sit up and take notice of you.

When the spotlight is on you, shine

For two weeks, South Korea had the world’s undivided attention as top political leaders, elite athletes, tourists and journalists congregated in PyeongChang to experience the 2018 Winter Olympics. While South Korea has consistently engaged in a display of “soft power”, courting the international community with entertainment and technology,  the last few years have been focused on their diplomatic squabbles with neighbour North Korea. The success of the Winter Olympics will not only bring long-term economic prosperity to South Korea, but will also give the country a chance to shift its narrative from disgruntled neighbour and producer of K-Pop to an influential player in the international community.

If your business is thrust into the limelight, even unexpectedly- do not shy away from the opportunity to take control of your narrative and create goodwill. Embrace the attention and use it as a springboard to propel your brand to the forefront of your consumers minds’.

Don’t talk unless you have your facts in place

Recovering from a massive “foot-in-the-mouth” moment is much harder in the age of technology and social media and is likely to set you back by a few millions in damage control. American Broadcasting Network NBC is still reeling from their coverage of the Winter Olympics, where a supposed “expert” on Asia made insensitive remarks about the Japanese occupation of Korea. After angry netizens swooped in, NBC was forced to fire the commentator, apologised to the organising committee and read their apology on-air.

The internet has the memory of an elephant and little mistakes can be blown out of proportion. A single gaffe could cost you heavily, which is why it is wiser to subject public statements to several rounds of editing before they are sent out. An embarrassing typo or a glaring factual error could end up as internet fodder, propelling your brand to infamy if you aren’t careful enough.

Want to speak more about your PR campaign or media training? Drop a note at [email protected]

My company is profitable! Do I still need marketing?

According to a recent report, the success of SMEs is essentially like flipping a coin – there’s an estimated survival rate of 50%. This means that establishing a strong and profitable core business is more crucial than ever before.

Since survival is a major focus for SMEs, investment in other aspects that may not seem to have immediate trackable results on business performance are often highly scrutinised. But even when SMEs manage to survive and find their stride, becoming profitable without the help of marketing, content, public relations or social media, many decide to continue without these things. Why would they need them even if they are profitable? Let’s dive right in.

Marketing

With the view that only large, multinational organisations have dedicated marketing teams, many SMEs outright dismiss the idea of hiring dedicated marketing staff. If SMEs do have a staff member focused on marketing, the scope of that role is usually tied up with additional tasks, such as business development.

Without the attention and focus of a true marketing professional, marketing initiatives usually end up in the form of more traditional activities, such as developing collaterals or organising events, which often do not drive easily trackable business results. A dedicated marketer will be able to identify broader business issues and create solutions to fix them, whether that be an online lead generation, sales team support or employer brand management to help bring in the best talent.

Content

Content is on the radar for many organisations, but often only in the form of a few commissioned articles for the company website. The truth is that content has many more practical uses for a business than most business owners realise. Content can be presented in many ways – think text, infographics and videos – and have the ability to engage potential customers across a wide array of platforms, ranging from the company’s website to social media channels to content-led PR campaigns.  

A singular piece of content, such as a research report, can be reworked into different pieces of satellite content, including infographics, toolkits and short, digestible videos that can be shared on different channels. Lead generation, client relationship management and sales support are all business-focused goals that can leverage content to deliver measurable results.

PR

Crisis management and spin-doctoring are often the first things that come to mind when thinking of public relations, but these functions are usually back of mind when it comes to successful businesses who are focused on growth.

Public relations can do much more than just clean up sticky situations. Good PR will play a key role in stakeholder management, putting the business in the midst of relevant discussions happening in the industry and the media, and positioning key people in the company as thought leaders. Strong PR can boost the visibility and credibility of the business and open new doors for the company in the process.

Social media

If you think that social media is simply a Facebook page for consumer brands to deal with angry posts, think again. Social media can act as a multi-platform ecosystem that can be used to engage with different types of audiences. By using specific targeting, businesses can reach new and relevant customers from literally all around the world.

From customer support and sales to employer branding and community management, every employee can learn to use social media in a way that influences the business, no matter if it’s a B2C and B2B operation. It’s important to establish goals and outline clear roles that each social media platform will play for the business, though; only then can a business truly start to see the benefits of a social media strategy.

Do you want to find out more about what marketing, content, PR and social media can do for your business? Drop us a line at [email protected]

Taking PR into the age of AI and automation

When AI, automation, and PR were first mentioned in the same sentence, most people were intrigued but reluctant at the same time. Despite initial hesitation, the application of AI in the PR industry is going to happen and the use cases are quite diverse, ranging from tracking and predicting consumer behaviour to conceptualisation and optimising user experiences.

AI’s growth coincides with a rapidly changing media landscape in Asia. In recent years – digital media has impacted audience attention, while journalists face tighter deadlines, trying to break a story first. With billions of dollars flooding into artificial intelligence and machine learning, both the PR industry and the media can benefit from this development. But how exactly is this dynamic going to change?

Why do we need AI?

While marketers already utilise machine learning, analysing data of customers more efficiently, AI is the next evolutionary stepping stone. But what exactly will AI do for PR? Can AI help to understand a journalist’s beat better? Will it ensure that they publish a certain story?

The short answer is no, but the benefits of AI are not hard to understand, as simple processes can be automated and optimised. Using scripted knowledge and repeated tasks, AI is already solving problems in other industries, including traffic control, manufacturing, and fraud detection.

Complementing – not replacing

The key to answering these questions is not how AI will replace human skills, but rather how it is going to complement and support PR professionals. There is no denying that automation is already important to the PR industry today. Media monitoring, for example, is often perceived as a tiresome but necessary task. The use of automation to track media activity frees up working hours that can be used more efficiently.

Besides effective media monitoring, AI will also support PR professionals with tasks that are traditionally time-consuming. Researching, compiling reports, and building media lists no longer will have to be done manually. The predictive analysis capabilities of AI will offer deeper insights into trends and market movements.

Predicting social sentiments

Using AI technology, PR practitioners have the option to leverage real-time data to make more informed decisions, which is especially useful in the realm of crisis communications. Remember when UBER (and United Airlines) failed to understand the extent of their crisis? The #boycottuber (or #boycottunited) storm became bigger than it needed to be from the brand’s perspective.

Using predictive measuring of social media sentiments, both brands could have reacted more quickly – instead of sitting it out. Unfortunately for UBER, it once again faces consumer backlash for covering up a massive hack and security breach that exposed the data of 57 million users and drivers. Let’s hope the ride sharing app has learnt from its mistake and is better equipped to handle #boycottuber. 

While AI might not offer insights into what a particular journalist thinks, certain algorithms will be able to predict sentiments as well as when interest among consumers might peak, offering an opportunity s to get certain stories published.

Nurturing media relations

One shouldn’t be lured into a false sense of guaranteed coverage and be confuddled by the notion of how AI can help to increase your chances of being featured as an industry thought-leader.

Media relations have always been a crucial part of any seasoned PR practitioner’s arsenal. Having a relationship with media will continue to give you two things:

  1. The ability to pick up your phone and speak to them about a potential story (and the odds of them entertaining your pitch despite their busy schedules).
  2. They will reciprocate and reach out to you if you have proven yourself to be a reliable go-to person that provides the information they need, accurately, and in a timely fashion.

The human interaction will continue to be relevant in PR because AI won’t be able to build bonds with journalists. While AI is becoming more than a resourceful helping hand, the intuition of PR professionals is still needed to make sense of it all.

Need help with your PR strategy? Drop us a message at [email protected]

7 Typography tips to ace your designs

Everyone’s had an idea for a cool design at some point. But turning your idea into reality is an effort. When it comes to creating graphics, it’s a different game. The application of graphic design is versatile and allows you to play around with shapes, images, positioning and typography. It’s a game you can get lost in.

The art of arranging type, aka typography, is not only a crucial part of any design, but also key to getting people interested in your design (and what you have to offer). A bad typography layout affects the readability, causing people to lose interest after reading just a first few lines. With millennials giving you less than 5 seconds to catch their attention, your typography needs to be spot on.

(Source: Harper’s Bazaar Brazil)

Failing to realise your idea visually, doesn’t always mean your idea was no good. Don’t question your ideas, but work on improving your designs. Here are some of the things to take note of when working on your next design project:

1) Choosing the right font (personality)

Are you aware that fonts have distinct moods and personalities? Don’t disregard Arial and Helvetica straight away. Always look at what you want to achieve before picking the font. Choosing the wrong font can convey different feelings and might even screw up your entire design.

For example, working on the design and layout for a fashion magazine, you most likely want to suggest modern, elegant and sophisticated tones – visually. You want to stay away from using Comic Sans or Papyrus fonts for the magazine, as it makes the entire design look unprofessional. The font you select needs to suit the personality of the brand.


(Source: AdWeek)

Never pick fonts just because you are awe of the particular typeface, in fact, you should choose the typefaces that suit your desired outcome.

“With millennials giving you less than 5 seconds to catch their attention, your typography needs to be spot on.”

2) No more than 3!

Never be generous with the use of fonts. Try to stick with one or two fonts for your design. Too many fonts might over-complicate the entire design – distracting the reader from what’s really important.

Remember websites in the 90s?

If you really want to use two to three different fonts in a design layout, avoid using fonts that look similar to each other (e.g. Bodoni and Didot). Visually similar fonts can be quite problematic, as they make your design look too indistinctive. Make it a family affair and use fonts from the same family, as it will give your design a more cohesive look. You might think that only one font looks boring, but ‘less is more’.

Let’s not forget, you can always play with the weights, styles and the width of the font. So, forget about the 90s and don’t use more than three fonts for one and the same design.

3) Do not stretch or squeeze! 

Stretching and squeezing a font is definitely a big no in the world of design. Many people are tempted and love to stretch and squeeze a font just to make it fit a certain space. Stretching and squeezing a font does not only look odd, it also makes your design, brand and you look unprofessional. Instead, try to increase the size of the font to make it fit.

4) Don’t forget to kern it


Kerning refers to adjusting the spacing between letters – and is different from adding gaps by hitting space on your keyboard (don’t even think about it).

(Source: AdWeek)

This is extremely important as it can make your design look a whole lot different. A good and bad design can be easily recognised and differentiated by just looking at the kerning. Hence, always remember to check the kerning before sending your final design to the client or the printer.

Nice smile, but that’s how you shouldn’t kern your design. (Source: Pixie Simms)

Mastering the art of kerning is especially important when it comes to creating your own font from scratch. Check out typemethod and practice your kerning skills until you get the hang of how it works.

5) Wipe out all the widows and orphans

If you don’t know what that means, you definitely need to pay attention now. Not many people will notice and identify the typographical widows and orphans. But if you want to tighten up your graphic designs you better start taking notice.

In the design world, a widow is a word that is left dangling at the end or the bottom of a paragraph, separated from the rest of the paragraph. While an orphan is a short paragraph that appears at the beginning of a column or page. One of the easiest ways to eliminate them is to rewrite or change the line ending. Another alternative is to manually edit the text or bring the text down to the next line.

6) The ‘ideal’ line width

Easily overlooked, a design’s line width is of importance too, playing a crucial role in the readability of the text. Wide columns usually won’t do your design any good, as they break the flow of the reader’s eyes when they jump from one line to the next. On the other hand, a narrow column might annoy your reader. Finding the balance is key to making it easy for the reader’s eyes to get through the article or text. Remember – the reader should be fully taken in by the content and not be distracted by the layout.

Never try to fit in all the words onto one line, as it might screw up the readability of your article. The perfect solution to a balanced line width is to keep it short. About 8 to 10 words or 50 to 60 characters per line is ideal.

7) Create a visual hierarchy

Think of what you want your viewers to look at first – only then you can embark on a design project. Everyone wants to create a design that looks good and captures people’s attention at a glance – so, make sure you don’t distract them with unnecessary stuff. Hierarchy plays an important role in design. It creates a flow, directs your eyes and allows your brain to process it easily. Hierarchy makes it easier for the viewer to distinguish what content comes first.

(Source: Pinterest)

You can learn how to establish a visual hierarchy by reading newspapers and magazines. Alternatively, you can try to play with the size, weight and spacing to achieve a visual hierarchy in your design. The more you practice, the more you will train your eyes.

Want sharp designs? Need to visualise an idea? Drop a message to [email protected] 

How to jump-start social media when no one knows your company

It’s easy to make noise when you are the head of state. Both Lee Hsien Loong and Donald Trump are two (good and bad) examples of how to engage millions of people.

                                                                   

While the impact of social media is undeniable, not every business enjoys the reach of someone in the limelight. Though it’s hard to make noise when no one knows about your company, inaction is infinitely worse.

Before you jump the gun, you have to make a commitment to regularly update your business’ social media accounts. Ideally, appoint someone to be your social media manager, as it’s something you have to consistently work at to see benefits – ranging from direct communication with your customers to reaching people that never heard of your business.

Here’s how to get started:

Where is your audience?


With an array of social media platforms out there, you don’t need to be everywhere. To get your social media presence kickstarted, you’ll need to know where your audience is. If you are a B2B company, you are more likely to start conversations on Twitter or LinkedIn, while an e-commerce can better engage with users on Instagram and Facebook.

If you are unsure about what you should do on your social media channels, check out these do’s and don’ts of social media. This is where you’ll learn about how to reach your target audience and the tangible results you’ll be able to reap from it.

What are your goals?

                                                             

Bear in mind that you’re just starting out – so don’t be unrealistic with your goals. For newcomers like you, it’s recommended that you focus on consistency and growth to really make your social media game work.

For consistency, work on:
– Lock in a set number of days to plan posts and work on your social media presence. A good start will be 3-4 days a week.
– Create new content at least once a week to beef up your content library. This can be a new set of photos, a blog post or a video about your business.

For growth, work on:
Setting a goal for how many followers you want to gain by a certain date. Every business grows differently, so plan accordingly. Having a number to work towards will make things clearer.

If you want to start with a bang, you should consider working with social media influencer – Increasing engagement for your posts. Instead of asking your family and friends to share your posts to get the algorithm working, you might want to do a giveaway to start getting shares and traction.

What’s in your content library?


Gather all of your content into one folder that your team can access. This will be your content pool where you’ll go to find images, old news clippings, videos or anything relating to your business. If you make it a habit to populate this folder, your planning will be easier in the future. A good way to start your content pool is using your website’s content. You can always repurpose and use it for social content. While doing this, you’ll also probably start to visualise what sort of content you’ll want up on your social media channels.

Other content ideas:

  • New product updates to keep people interested
  • Introduce new team members to make your brand more human
  • Insights from conferences to show you are a thought leader
  • Behind the scenes snapshots for a positive image
  • Giveaways and contests to expand your reach
  • Photo albums for the user’s visual pleasure

Which brings us to the next point…

Have you created a social media calendar?

It doesn’t have to be anything too complicated. All you need is a handy excel sheet that keeps track of the content that you’re planning to post, or have already posted. This will also come in handy when you’re brainstorming for new social media ideas. It also makes it easier for everyone to share ideas. A well-kept calendar will also help you to plan your social media campaigns more efficiently.

What conversation are you joining?

Now that you’re sorted, it’s time to be part of all that social media chatter. Have a look at what’s trending by gathering some data and see where your brand can be part of the conversation. Controversial topics aren’t a strict no-no and may sometimes help your brand to stand out. But make sure that your company has actually something to offer or say about the topic. You have to remember that the social media world can be harsh and controversial topics can easily backfire. But in the end – it’s still up to you to decide if it will work for your organisation or not.

Need help with managing your social media campaigns? Drop us a message at [email protected].

 

3 Tips to go from media shy to media savvy

The acronym ‘CEO’ will likely conjure images of fearless leaders in command of their businesses and their people, natural-born spokespeople inspiring those in the business as well as those looking on.

The reality, however, is that many CEOs may often be introverts shying away from external exposure and the prying eyes of the media. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, for example, is not only one of the most powerful leaders in the world, but he’s also amongst the most publicity-shy ones.

Staying out of the spotlight, however, will likely do more harm than good. Research shows that an accessible CEO makes a brand more authentic.

Public relations professionals must do more than just convince their CEOs, they must support their leaders in a way that makes the process as painless as possible as well as ensure their CEO will be the custodian for the organisation’s image and reputation.

To help prepare any business leader, here are our top tips to guide the media-shy through the interview process:

Media Training is key

Critical for any CEO or spokesperson, media training is a programme aimed at creating a strong foundation of interviewing knowledge from structuring responses to question redirection. A good media training programme will allow for the media-shy CEO to get a feel of what it’s like to be in front of a reporter and face difficult unexpected questions in a controlled environment.

Media training is not a magic bullet, practice makes perfect, meaning that training sessions should be carried out on a frequent basis to keep the spokesperson’s confidence up. Further, carrying out frequent impromptu mock interviews covering the latest trending topics as well as difficult probing questions around the business can provide the crucial experience that a media shy CEO must be exposed to before sitting down with media.

Practice, practice, practice!

When the time comes for an interview, preparation is key. Naturally, a comprehensive briefing document covering the topics, questions, key messages, interviewer and media profile is a no-brainer. It is vital to sit down with the CEO prior to the interview to gauge their familiarity with the subject of the interview. Working hand-in-hand to craft a narrative and key messages with additional research would help spokespeople feel at ease.

Preparation for the media shy CEO should extend further, emulating the scenario by adopting the questions, duration and style of the interviewer to give the CEO a better idea of what to expect.

Don’t underestimate media relations

Often the most overlooked aspect, and one usually undertaken solely by the public relations professional, is for the business leader to play a first hand role in building relationships with the media.

Building relationships through no-agenda coffees, get-togethers and networking events will allow the CEO to get used to being around media, and most importantly, dispel the myth that journalists are ‘out to get you’. By building these relationships, when the time comes, the CEO will likely be able to sit down for an interview with someone familiar.  

So there you have it, our top tips on how to prepare your media shy CEO to face the media world and not only be more comfortable, but also be in a position to represent the organisation in a way that will grow its reputation and standing in the business landscape.

Drop us a message at [email protected] to talk to us more about media training.

How to get your brand heard in a new market

Venturing into new markets with your brand may be a daunting task. If it’s done wrongly, you could sink vast amounts of financial capital. Succeeding with a market entry, your brand could acquire new revenue streams and new customers at the same time.  

So, what are the things you need to keep in mind when preparing to enter a new market?

Understand your market
  • Do your research. Never assume that you know what your target audience wants. You need to have the facts and research to back it up. Take a close look at the market and find out what the most pressing needs, issues and desires of your target audience are. It will help you to position yourself as the answer they’re looking for.
  • Where do they get their information from? There’s a plethora of platforms for content consumption – both online and offline. But how will you actually reach them – through blogs, newsletter subscriptions, newspapers or social media? Focusing your efforts on the appropriate channels will ensure that you get the most mileage out of your resources.  
  • Tailor your content. Something that works in China may not necessarily see the same success in Singapore – or vice versa. Localising content helps to shape your messages in a way that your customers can relate to.
Know your competition
  • Make a competitive analysis. Walking into a new market it’s important to identify the factors contributing to the success and failure of existing brands. What has the market leader done so well that elevates them to their current position? Why can’t other brands find their footing? Learn about the methods your competitors use and find out which they are not using.
  • Differentiate your brand. At the same time, there is also great value in making sure your brand stands out. But what are you offering the market that differentiates you from others? Moving into a new market and immediately trying to compete with everyone else in the industry is not a task to be taken lightly. Carve out your own niche and communicate it to your target audience. Operating in a specific niche will reduce the number of direct competitors your brand has to manage.
Have an eye on the market
  • Spot trends. Depending on what industry you are in, markets tend to move fast today. Trends are insightful and a powerful source of information. Keeping up-to-date with the latest trends allows you to understand the current interests and wants of consumers, which will help you to capture the attention of broader audiences.
  • Network the industry. Smart business leaders know to always be on the lookout for emerging trends and be prepared for what comes next, so they won’t be left behind. However, not all trends start online. Get a feel for the industry by attending networking events in your field.
Look for media opportunities
  • Owned media. Build a communication strategy for your brand. Make sure you are consistent in what you say and how you describe your brand. Using your own media channels, such as your company blog, social media or thought-leadership pieces on LinkedIn, are an easy way to spread the word. Just make sure that you are on brand.
  • Earned media. Earned media is often the aim of a brand’s PR and social media efforts, including media coverage, social media posts, reviews, and blog mentions. As the average consumer is bombarded with countless advertisements daily, earned media is one way to stand out from the masses.

The following questions will help you when looking for brand-appropriate earned media opportunities:

  1. Is there something unique about your organisation that might interest local, national, or trade-related news outlets?
  2. Do you have existing customers who are possible brand advocates?
  3. Are they willing to tell the world why they’ve had a fantastic experience with your brand?

Why is earned media so effective? It’s simple – customers trust the opinions and experiences of other customers more than any other source available. The road to success may be a bumpy one, but take these tips into account to smoothen your journey as much as possible.

Trying to break into a new market? Drop a message to [email protected]

 

Mastering media relations in the digital-only age

The recent news of Today Newspaper and Campaign Asia shutting down their print editions and going fully digital got us all talking about the fate of newsrooms and journalism.

Make no mistake, earned media is still hugely important for brands and that is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. However, the way people consume media has changed drastically and that has far-reaching implications not just for journalism, but also PR and communication teams.

Here are some tips to help you keep up and evolve:

Know your editors and their beats

This is key to ensuring your news is visible to those who need to see it. Understanding the new media landscape from a journalist’s point of view is paramount if you want to participate as a business owner, marketer or PR professional. And there’s multiple ways to do this! Start by reading every online and print publication that matters. Staying  in sync with topics journalists cover will only benefit your campaign. Industry news and hot trends are a must, but knowing what captures the attention of journalists and editors is the key to a successful pitch.

Use social media to connect

As more information goes out on social media, these platforms have become a valuable story resource for the journalists and editors. Social media is a key ingredient to mastering media relations, so use it effectively:

  • Gather intelligence – Want to pitch a story idea to a reporter? Then use social media to learn what makes them tick. Target specific journalists or bloggers and follow them on Twitter, their professional Facebook pages, Instagram or LinkedIn. It will provide you with insights that can help you with your next pitch.
  • Build relationships – Interacting through Tweets or comments can be a gateway to a conversation. Don’t underestimate the impact of a well-placed and thought-through comment.
  • Promote your thought leadership – The more you share your content and thoughts on social media, the higher your chances to appear on the feeds of journalists or editors.
  • Respond to breaking events – Share information that helps putting a related breaking story into context. You will have a good chance of attracting the attention of journalists. While you’re at it, pay attention to trending hashtags.
Use Google analytics for insights

Welcome to the age of data-driven PR. Using Google analytics, there’s an abundance of data insights at your fingertips, ranging from the source of your traffic to how many pages a visitor viewed. You can track visits from published PR materials and the source of leads. You can find out more about what your target audience looks at and where they come from. These insights into the readership of digital news websites add a strategic element to your campaign.

Suggested read: Up your PR game with data

Don’t limit your press releases

While it’s important to announce product announcements or executive changes, press releases can do much more. Use press releases to promote whitepapers, webinars, blogs and much more. Online content is becoming  more diverse in topic and imagery. It’s rare for a publication to be solely print nowadays, so it’s vital to consider content for the website.

A journalist is more likely to run your story if you can provide a few good quality images, a video and an infographic. Online publications rarely use only text. Announcements that are a little different and use alternative media will capture the attention and make your viewing experience as diverse and interesting as possible.

Need to get up to speed with digital media relations? Get in touch with us at [email protected]