By Fran Rivett-Carnac
For those of you who missed the launch of our Karma campaign a few months ago, here’s a five second recap:
By Fran Rivett-Carnac
For those of you who missed the launch of our Karma campaign a few months ago, here’s a five second recap:
Welcome to the first issue of STANDbites – our views on the world of communications, and news from our small (but perfectly formed) agency. We decided we wanted to keep our friends and supporters abrest of all the exciting things happening in the agency so we’ve created newsletter that we’ll be issuing every month from now on.
We hope you find something of interest in STANDbites. Now grab a drink and enjoy the read by clicking here.
By Laura Oliphant
This week I broke my duck (if I am using the cricket term correctly…) Well Stand Agency did. In my 20+ years of working in PR I have never won an award. Actually I have never been shortlisted for one.
Now, I’ve worked at some brilliant places, so I can only assume it was our lack of confidence when writing the award entry, rather than the quality of past work that’s to blame. Anyway, all that changed this week when Stand Agency was shortlisted for the PRCA’s Best New Consultancy of the Year 2013.
When the shortlist email arrived in our inbox, you wouldn’t have believed the noise and excitement that took over the office. It was as if all our past pitch wins came in at once! It was well deserved and we were well delighted!
Once we’d put the bubbles in the fridge to chill, and booked our table for the event, the news got me thinking about something else (aside from my Awards dress that is). My belief that ‘winning’ is a mental game.
Whether it’s Andy Murray winning a Grand Slam, Ben Ainslie steering Team USA to the greatest comeback in the America’s Cup history, or me and Awards; as long as you’re match fit, is your belief that you can win the final factor in success? I think it is.
#healthwarning I’m not always proven right and my friends and colleagues would probably say I go too much the other way in believing you can win in every situation… I do, however, feel confidence and self-belief play a huge part in prospects, a client, or potential hire believing you are the agency for them. After all who wants to work with team that isn’t convinced every one of their ideas they put to you is a winning one?
I’m convinced that confidence in your business, your staff and your ideas is as fundamental as a strong client list and a healthy bank balance. Without these things you’re at risk of being influenced too much by those around you, resulting in your agency (or tennis game) ending up looking like every other.
By following your gut instincts and having confidence in your approach, you’re more likely to take risks and create an agency and ‘game plan’ that STANDs out from the rest.
Now, there’s no guarantee we’ll win this Award – it’s a tough category, but to keep with the Andy Murray analogy, we are in a grand slam final and it only takes a few of those to eventually pick up the trophy. Here’s hoping…
In the second instalment of our Q&A’s we’d like to welcome our newest recruit with a quick interrogation.
How and why did you get involved in PR?
My career in PR started with an internet survey. I was studying languages at university and did one of those questionnaires which tell you what you should be in the future. It suggested journalism and PR as possible options so I started looking into it. My first job was an internship in Munich in B2B technology PR and I enjoyed it so much I stayed there for a year and a half. I was hooked on PR.
What keeps you working for Stand Agency?
What I really enjoy about Stand (so far) is that the team actually encourages innovation and new ideas at every turn (and doesn’t just say it does). We’re a small agency so we have the freedom to make it what we want and it’s a really exciting opportunity to create something great.
In another life, what profession other than yours would you have attempted?
I love travelling and eating so my ideal job would to be a restaurant and or travel critic. Who knows, maybe I still will one day…
What do you enjoy doing beyond the walls of Stand Towers?
I’m a real culture geek and one of the things I love about London is all the new exhibitions, shows, restaurants, pop ups etc. That’s not to say I don’t watch some truly trashy TV too, and have a bit of a box set addiction – Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Firefly, Big Bang Theory – you name it, I’ve probably watched all of it.
What pearls of wisdom can you impart to those embarking on a career in PR?
Try everything. PR is a really varied career and you’ll be surprised what you can get into if you try it out. There are so many areas you can specialise in or types of agencies so it’s worth getting a range of experience – it will always come in handy. I meet PR grads who say they want to do crisis comms (because it sounds exciting) but I’ve actually found that sometimes the most unexpected topics (Financial Technology anyone?) can be the most interesting.
Georgina’s S.T.A.N.D quick-fire faves:
Song – I’m a believer – Smash Mouth
Taste – Chocolate (it’s standard but an instant pick-me up)
Animal – Pig (they’re so intelligent and warm hearted)
Noise – Rustling grass in a field (I’m a country girl at heart)
Drink – Champagne
Karma Terms and Conditions:
By Molly Stein Davies
A balmy Tuesday evening last week saw Nikki and me on a mission to find our sea-legs. As a Capricorn –traditionally associated with ‘Earth’ of the four elements – I ought by rights to be a confirmed landlubber. But I do love me a good boat.
Fortunately for me the PRCA had obligingly picked a riverboat as the locale of their (now annual) get-together for PRs. The idea is to amass practicing PR professionals – primarily from Account Executive to Account Director level (although somehow I slipped through the net) – and put them on a vessel complete with champagne, BBQ, networking and music. What’s not to love?
High heels. To begin with: high heels are not to love. I realised this before I’d actually climbed aboard said vessel, when standing precariously on the docking platform which was already swaying side to side. I told myself a fully motive water-vehicle would somehow be more stable than the dock and my choice of footwear would emerge victorious. Four months in PR have certainly refined my ability to put a positive spin on things.
However, having drunk my complimentary glass of welcome-bubbles, and having lost my balance and crashed into people three times (nothing to do with the bubbles – at Stand we know better than to combine work with being three sheets to the wind) the heels came off. And the evening really began…
Ever the urbane and well-connected professional, Ms Nikki Peters already had a number of PR acquaintances aboard whom she promptly introduced me to. In the course of the evening we also did the rounds and struck up conversations with a host of people novel to us both. It really was fantastic for a newbie such as myself to meet fellow PRs from such vastly different sectors and backgrounds – pharma, law, public affairs, financial, consumer. We were a mixed kettle of fish that’s for sure.
As the sun set – quite spectacularly – behind the sights of London Town, I felt really rather serene. Serenity is not something I’ve associated with PR so far it has to be said, but I felt it on that boat. In common with many people, the prospect of networking per se doesn’t fill me with happy anticipation. But on The Emeritus, with that wide selection of employees and represented sectors, I thought to myself that in the long-term PR might really be something I can get on board with.
By Francesca Rivett-Carnac
I went to the PRCA’s Charity Group Summer Drinks the other week, and it really got me thinking. What can big business learn from charities?
What struck me about the speakers from WWF and Shelter was the enormous focus with which they approached their campaigning and PR work. There’s nothing like a tight budget to sharpen the mind, and there are serious lessons to be learned from the charity sector. Even, or perhaps especially, if you’re working for a big business.
If you could only launch one campaign a year, I’m guessing you would think long and hard about what it was, what it said, where it went – and crucially, what it delivered. Right?
Right. But what’s the excuse for not thinking like this all the time?
What I’m talking about here is strategy. There are many businesses and organisations that are very good at generating content in the media without thinking about what it is really achieving. In the absence of a purpose that supports your organisational objectives, coverage just becomes noise.
We’ve all seen it. A piece of research that doesn’t go far enough in linking back to the business or organisation that commissioned it. That fantastic stunt that make us smile when we see it, but a couple of days later we have forgotten who was behind it. The spokesperson on the sofa who is clearly an expert – but at the end of the interview we are none the wiser about the organisation they represent.
Of course, brand visibility is important and name checks play their role. But I can’t help wondering whether, if egos were left at the door, we would see businesses and organisations generating better targeted and more effective coverage.
Supporting every business plan should be a good comms strategy; never the other way round. When budgets are tight we are forced to prioritise, and for organisations getting it right, the result is brilliant coverage that leaves us in no doubt about who they are, or what they are trying to achieve.
By the Stand Agency team
We read, with shock at our admissions, a recent article summing up “how you know you’re getting old” and couldn’t help but laugh. We have now compiled our list of “how you know you work in PR”. For those in the industry, you will probably laugh and nod, for those looking to work in PR….don’t say we didn’t warn you!
So, what do you think? Have we missed any blinders – if so let us know. Working in PR can be a way to lose friends but influence people. And a sure fire way to laugh all day at yourself doing the above.
By Rebecca McLeod
When it comes to social media, are some more equal than others?
There’s nothing new or exciting about observing that we’re all publishers now; that the power of traditional media organisations has been diluted; and that “people-power” can rule on social media.
But what does that mean? Are we all equal in our responsibilities to fair and accurate reporting? Is it fine for any one of us to sound off on any subject that pushes our buttons at any particular time? And are some of us more responsible than others?
This final question, about whether our responsibilities are equal in the online world, has been plaguing me recently. Ever since I read a particularly disturbing blog by Louise Mensch. I won’t replay it here, but if you’re interested you can check out my Twitter timeline for 10th June, and you’ll see the offending blog and my conversation with Mensch about it.
The bigger question it raises for me, is whether Mensch needs to be more responsible when she blogs than someone with just a handful of followers.
Is it ok for someone with a powerful voice to talk about subjects they might just have a passing knowledge of?
Should the influential have to live by the rules of Uncle Ben from Spiderman (oh ok, and Franklin D Roosevelt) who said: ‘With great power, comes great responsibility?’
Are we living in a time when, instead of the “great and the good” having power to express any opinion they want, the little people can express, within reason, what they like. And does this mean the big people have to watch their step?
Is the power dynamic of saying what we think, at least in terms of how free we feel, being turned on its head? After all, anyone can, for want of a better term, “call-out” anyone else on their opinions via social media.
I don’t claim to have all or any of the answers to these questions. I guess for now we all have to live by our own judgements, and hope that’s enough. But the ones that survive the judgement of the social media jungle, however powerful, will be the ones who: listen, engage, respond and evolve.
By the Stand Agency team
As you may know, we are recruiting at Stand Agency (if you are interested in joining us, get in touch!). Interviewing possible candidates caused discussion here about what makes a good impression when looking for someone to join your team? Here are a few thoughts from us for those looking to embark on a career in PR. Please join in and add your tips below.
It’s so important to have lots of interesting things to say about yourself at an interview to show your passion and enthusiasm for PR.
If you are just starting out in your career and lack on-the-job experience, you’ll need to talk about volunteering, work experience, your interest in social and traditional media and your observations on good campaigns, launches etc. Pull out how this has built up your knowledge and skills suited to PR and comms like writing, public speaking or framing a point of view. Never underestimate how good other candidates will be at this kind of stuff. Go in with real examples, fresh opinions and ideas, to show you have really thought about what working in comms and PR would be like.
Cultivate your interest in areas in which you want to work. Staying interested and engaged in your work (and clients) is a recipe for success.
Having a genuine interest in the thing you are promoting helps enormously – clients can tell and journalists can tell. Enthusiasm is contagious. Don’t be closed off to what you can find interesting – it’s amazing how, with an open mind, even an apparently ‘dry’ topic can become fascinating when you start to explore it.
It may sound obvious – but in interviews it’s very easy to tell who really pays attention to the media, and who has spent a hurried few minutes flicking through a newspaper before they came in.
Consume all kinds of media – broadsheets, tabloids, high-brow, low brow, online, broadcast and print. It’s impossible to advise a client or think up a brilliant campaign without having a very clear sense of what will work as a story. You’ll need to know the media so well you instinctively know what will make a good story, and how different publications and journalists will cover it. Diversifying your knowledge into a range of areas has its advantages outside of work too; you will find your pub quiz ability improves immeasurably!
When you go to an interview remember to be as relaxed as you can and let your personality shine through. Show a genuine interest in the agency and person interviewing you. We all look to work with people we like and can get along with, so give examples of you being a team player, and be as open and warm as you can. In a small team like ours (there are 9 of us at the moment), it is important that everyone gels and trusts each other. Interviewers will always be thinking about how you would fit in with their team so be aware your interviewer is interviewing you for personal as well as professional skills!
Now relax. Smile. And sell yourself as you intend to sell in a story.