Posted: 1st February 2021
When we met for the WiRE National “Network Online” Event on Wednesday 20th, I knew that the discussion was going to give everyone food for thought.
Helen Oldfield who is a WiRE Ambassador, South Suffolk WiRE network co-leader and founder of Affinity PR, established in 2008, asked us a question.
If it is true that “people buy from people”, is there any point in doing any PR or marketing? Won’t you just hire your pals, and they hire you?!
It does make you think!
Helens take on this is that “I’ve met hundreds of people in business who are truly delightful and trustworthy humans. And they are skilled/experienced in their professions. Yet I have only ever chosen a handful of them to help me with a business matter and then I’ve stayed a loyal customer for years. Something about the few I chose to buy from went way beyond thinking they are a nice person that I’d get on well with”.
So, what was in that “something” and how do your customers know when you have “it”?
Helen facilitated the discussion around it being about your business reputation. As we are aware no two reputations are the same, your own may fluctuate and evolve over time. On the one hand it’s highly subjective, yet there are tangible ways you can measure and compare one professional or supplier with another. Those attending shared with us some of the characteristics and qualities that are important in their decision-making process.
These can all be tied up nicely with one word – REPUTATION. When we look at reputation, our personal brand, to quote Jeff Bezos, it “is what people say about you when you are not in the room”.
Helen teased in the lead up to the discussion that “Your successful PR campaign may never need a media release”. So before even writing a media release, we can self-check our reputation, improve how we are seen and put ourselves in front of the businesses that we would really like to work with. Here are Helens “PR Quick Wins” by way of a mind map but there was one thing that Helen pointed out needed a little more explanation.
“Be a good human”, is more like “Go beyond being a good human”, it’s not enough to be a good human who does their job well. What matters and has PR impact is going beyond that, to bother to actively engage with your suppliers, employees/co-workers and competitors, thanking them, acknowledging their successes and wins, being a good boss, paying all your wages and bills on time and so on. Then all those people can become your brand ambassadors too and, in the case of other creative agencies (my “competitors”, in the traditional sense) they then watch what I’m doing too, sometimes going on to hire me as their own sub-contractor, to do their national media work or to direct their national PR campaigns.”
We ended on the reminder “To Check Your Privilege”.
“This is about knowing it’s a privilege to have any job or paid work, especially during this COVID-19 economic downturn. Not making assumptions that people are getting by financially. Doing PR and social media content that is appropriate and thoughtful within the context of the wider world we live in.” We could all think of occasions/articles or social media posts that we had read recently that sprung to mind.
Helen recalled one example “A friend who said their employer who sent every staff member a quite beautifully printed postcard via Royal Mail, wishing them well and to stay safe during lockdown, yet totally failed to offer any support or even access to job search information, to those on fixed term contracts that would expire during lockdown. They offered no advance help with CV prep, did not offer to provide good references, did not ask how their job seeking was going, or thank them for their work in any personalised way (standard one-liner from HR with the P60 on their last day). In my opinion I’d rather that employer had saved the cash, send a range of more personalised emails instead of getting those postcards, and had invested in proper one-to-one contact with the 20 or so employees who would soon be out of work.”
Thank you Helen for hosting the session and giving us all some PR Quick Wins.