The Future of PR – #BAPRFUT

Today at Bournemouth University I attended, along with a mix of peers from the Corporate Marketing Communications Framework, a guest lecture on “The Future Of PR”  hosted by :-

  • Richard Fogg – Managing Director, CCGroup PR – Rich is the only BAPR grad we know of who bought the company where he did his placement (Selfie Owner)
  •   Samuel Hall – Corporate Communications Director and Social Strategist at Oracle, the world’s largest software company
  • Tom Cheesewright – Applied Futurist, Book of the Future

Richard and Sam are Bournemouth University BA PR graduates whilst Tom is a Media professional who has worked with both Richard and Sam in his previous roles.

This post is reflective of the guest lecture and is mainly what I drew from what the guest speaks were saying. The lecture itself was on the future of the PR industry and how we, as students, will “fit” in after graduation. It offered advice on the industry and what skills we needed to do well, as well as what to look out for in future,  For more opinions follow the #BAPRFUT tweets on twitter.

Futurism  – Tom Cheesewright

In simple is the task of looking into a company/organisations/industry’s future and predicting what the field will look like in say 15/20 years time from now. This isn’t just based on thin air, it’s based on researching past and current trends whilst also looking ahead and predicting what the future might hold. It’s nothing to do with mind reading, and it will never be entirely right but it helps organisations plan ahead, instead of getting stuck into ruts.

Cheesewright also talked about the industries past and present. Media as a whole used to be dominated by money, as in large parts it still is. However when we talk about dominating the industry, it’s really the control aspect that organisations are interested in.  Organisations could buy media space and influence and credibility was sometimes bought rather than earned. Now with the rise of new technologies and new consumption trends, audiences look for further reassurance from other sources. Therefore one source isn’t always credible on it’s own.

Cheesewright talked of the “approval” system that is in place for bigger media outlets. PR’s knew the process and the approval lines a press release would travel through before even being seeing a page of a paper or magazine. No with the online age and bloggers, vloggers and citizen journalism on the rise a press release can be published immediately with no second thought. On the flip side it could be dismissed without a second glance depending on the platform authors views and opinions.

“Power is hard to get. Power is hard to keep. Power is easy to loose” commented Tom, and he’s absolutely right. Control of content is loose, organisations struggle to control their own content and the issues of ownership are detrimental to a campaigns message

Technology has changed the face of our media economy. It’s no longer one way communication, it’s rather a three or more way conversation, it’s no longer a company talk to a consumer, it’s a company talking to a consumer – the consumer talking back  and others then joining in the conversation. At the end of the day the organisation no longer has control.

Cheesewright ended with saying that the future of PR lays within diversity, which is true in so many forms of the word. PR needs to be diverse in what it delivers, how it adapts to change and who it opens itself too.

Future Talent –  Richard Fogg

We, as students, are always told about what we need to be and what we need to do to succeed in PR and in our future careers, so it was nice to hear a PR professional say that you can’t have everything.

Foggs talk was based on what the future of pr looked like and what he believes practitioners will need in future. Interestingly enough academic perspective was his top thought. Relating back to my placement year I found using academic literature to support ideas was helpful – it gave me a basis as to why I was suggetsing an idea and what it could possibly achieve. Data analysis and emotional creativity were his next elements followed by multimedia content and social dexterity.

They all made perfect sense, as with the changing world we need to be aware of whats going on around us and what popular trends we need to be clued up on. Social is becoming more and more important as the years go by – it’s prominence in everyday life shows organisations the power it can have. Gone are the days of sending out a press release and expecting coverage, PR is PR it needs to stand out and shine from the hundreds of other releases from other organisations. Do something different with it use multimedia assets available and catch the eye of the media and the consumer.

Fogg suggested ways in which we could become more valuable to a company, listed below. Having a commercial side to you made complete sense to me after working at Honda on my placement year. Your campaign must be commercially viable, what ever campaign you create it has to have a purpose whether its building brand presence or aimed at selling X amount of products.

  • Don’t be a purist
  • Get in their heads
  • Be commercial
  • Communicate
  • Continually learn

I think Foggs most powerful words were ” Don’t become obsolete in an increasingly mechanical world”.  Fogg suggested 6 ways in which we could keep current and make ourselves valuable to companies.

  • Network
  • Experiment
  • Optimise
  • Be Different
  • Question – “Think  in questions it sharpens the mind”
  • Follow the future

I took a lot from Foggs talk, it emphasized that we need to work continually and not rest on any laurels. Just as PR changes so do we, and we need to be ready to adapt constantly. He commented on the hierarchical agency structures, comparing them to those of the army, boxing people within their roles and making it a monotonous challenge. Similarly in In-House the routes are often similar and long winded,which often put people off and can detriment to the enjoyment of a job.

The Corporate Context – Samuel Hall 

In Sam’s talk I didn’t take as many notes, not out of disinterest but the opposite . Sam touched upon the corporate side of PR, being a cost center and always have to prove your worth to an organisation.

The battle ground between PR, advertising and marketing is one which is fought daily. Ownership is skewed and unlike before where everything was boxed neatly and everyone had their remit, the specialisms share aspects which many want and others would rather not look after.

Digital is one which crops us quite often – is it marketing or is it PR? Who owns it? Who talks to the people who have questions. It come’s down to the decision of who wants to take care of it – it’s not something they can be left to simmer, it’s a custard that needs careful attention and dedication.

Hall talks of influence about what it is “Its real and it’s about being relevant”. Trying to be an opinion changer using techniques from the 90’s won’t get you anywhere anymore, neither will a lack of modern technologies. Influence is quite rightly real – you need to have something substantial to be able to creative, develop and culture influence.

Another key piece I took from Halls talk was the idea of information but still being a gift. We often forget what we have at our feet and look up to the skies for something else, its a necessity to continually learn and not immediately jump for something we think may be better.

Storytelling cropped up towards the end of Halls speech, it’s power and high credibility with audiences and consumers means its a useful tool for influence. I never really thought about Storytelling as a tool until today – its something you just assume will work but used correctly it can help shape brand image and credibility.

Just as in PR, it will change and so will we, but we need to stick to our roots. The basis of what PR is is in academia and in reality it differs slightly but its a specialism within itself – we can’t become so broad minded that we loose sight of what we are actually doing.

Hall makes a valid point about PR – it’s no longer just media relations, it’s a whole lot more. It’s strategic, it’s reactive and proactive and its adaptive.  More CEO’s want to know about PR and what it does, how we measure it and what the conversation is from the other side. Let’s not loose this interest by becoming out dated.

Summary

The future of PR lies in diversity, change and adapting to the media surroundings. We as future PR’s need to be aware, switched on and ready for what’s to come, we must plan ahead, strategise and predict what future elements will affect our organisation.

Our networks are important, just as our influence is. Our personal network of contacts, friends, colleagues will help us grow into better PR’s, we help shape our brands with our networks and the places our network can takes us maybe be further than we could go alone.

Ownership and knowledge of what we do is important, without understanding – whether that be academic or practical, we cannot grow and develop on skills and therefore the industry cannot.

Cheesewright produced the three C’s; Curate, Create and Communicate, a firm basis on which every PR should look into whether 18 or 81.

As I mentioned above this is what I personally took from the guest lecture, feel free to agree  or disagree with anything I’ve said in the comments below. For more thoughts on the guest lecture follow the #BAPRFUT tweets on twitter,

Dev Mistry

Final Year PR student at Bournemouth University

Well that went fast!

It occurred to me recently that I’m not such a great blogger. Why is that you may ask? Mainly because I like to get really involved in what I’m doing and sometimes I forget about the other social stuff I have going on.

Anyways, I thought it best to do a closing post on my placement year and my experiences. In short I had a BLAST. I genuinely couldn’t have asked for a better year, team and company to have worked with.

It’s easy to say the start of the year was daunting. I didn’t drive, I knew nothing about car, motorcycles and tech and in truth I’d never worked in an office environment before. It was something that took a lot of getting used to, and something I enjoyed very much.

As my role wasn’t as specialist as some of my colleagues, I had a chance to explore all parts of the PR comms elements that my team looked after, as well as learning about the commercial side of the business from other colleagues. It was a tough time trying to learn everything, but I realised that as much as I might have tried , learning everything is impossible.

My favourite part of the year had to be the PR Events that the team organised. It was great to see our communications in practice through the event, and it was equally as good attending the evening get togethers that usually accompanied the event. Goodwood Festival Of Speed was my highlight of my placement. I got to attend the famous Goodwood Ball, see a multitude of F1 and race cars and see the odd celebrity too. It was also one on the times where I really felt in control – I was confident in what I was doing and I was happy. To me that was incredibly important, and made me want to work for Honda after I graduated.

I guess there are parts of placement that everyone doesn’t like. For me I didn’t enjoy monotonous tasks like saving coverage or printing out 30 press packs – just general stuff that wasn’t exciting or cool. I learnt that not everything is exciting and fast paced in PR, but what job is?

I got to travel internationally, attend race weekend for BTCC rounds, project manage our PR presence for our Car Dealer Conference, Project Manage a bi-monthly coverage booklet – which in turn became a national sales aid in Dealerships and I was able to influence CSR and Sponsorship strategy for the company. My written and visual communications skills were developed and improved weekly, as was my knowledge of the industry, both Automotive and PR.

In short I doubt I could write enough about my placement experience. It was great to say the least but it’s also set me up for future. I doubt I’d have been able to “flourish” anywhere else and it’s a worthwhile experience that I’m sure will impress interviewers in future.

My hard work was recognized, and when I needed to buck my ideas  up there was always someone who helped me get back on track. As my role was so varied I felt overloaded sometimes – Sometimes I took too much on and sometimes the workload was just that big. I was extremely happy that the decision to split my role in two was made before recruiting for new placement students. It meant that both of the students would be able to focus on projects without feeling like they had 20 other things to do all the time.

Credit goes directly to the team I worked with who gave me the great opportunity and challenged me to better myself in a professional environment. I thought i’d be making tea for a year but boy oh boy was I wrong!

All that’s left is to say a massive thank you to the team and everyone else who helped along the way. In June 2013 I was scared about the year to come and dubious about whether I could hack it. I Sit here in October 2014, 2 months after finishing my placement) jealous of the two placement students who took over my role.

I’ll miss Honda, but who knows I might be back in future…….

Dev

June update

It’s been nearly two months since I last wrote a post, which is a long time even for me!

Its busy as ever on placement, which is no surprise, and I’m still learning new things every week. It hit me the other day that I feel comfortable in what I do, I don’t feel like the newbie or lost, I know what I need to do and get on with my role. I genuinely feel part of the team and if I need help with anything I know where to go.

That was a revaluation for me, and in truth scared me a bit. It made me realise that I don’t have long left as a student and I won’t have that “freedom” I’ve had for the past 5 or so years. It was a poignant reminder that in a year or so this will be my future, where ever I go after graduating. It’s not that I don’t love what I do, don’t get me wrong it’s bloody amazing, it’s the fact that I’m growing up. Something I wished for when I was younger but now kind of regret.

Placement taught me a lot of thing and not just about work. I feel like I’ve matured, In a good way, and its made me appreciate everything a whole lot more.

Its given me a glimpse of what life will be like post Uni and how things work in the real world. Living away from everyone you know an starting afresh in a new place, it’s hard but I’ve done it. It may not seem like a big achievement but to me it is.

Anyway cringed revelation over.

April saw the appointment of our new Core Charities, which we support internally. I was genuinely surprised to get such a huge response from colleagues about who they wanted to support, one thing I’ve found is that engaging internal stakeholders is harder than it seems. There’s no one singular right way to do it, everyone responds in different ways and generic communications generally get ignored. You have to tailor your communication to your audiences, much like you’d do with external stakeholders.

Anyway, we started building our relationship with one of the charities by visiting them to see how we could maximise the benefits of our partnership. It was a great meeting in which we discussed the different ways we could get involved in each others activities and make a positive difference to the charity’s beneficiaries.

CSR, I’ve found is great way to engage internal stakeholders whilst also engaging external publics. It’s somethings that’s often just ignored or action to check off a tick box in accordance with company policy. Actually if done properly not only does it make a difference for good, but it also can help improve an organisations image and internal attitude. I recently read a case study regarding a company in Greece who, despite being caught in a national economic recession, decided to donate X amount ( X represents a numerical figure of which i cannot remember!) to charity regardless of their profits. Their employees when hearing about this were surprised – but also proud of their employers. In a time when businesses were falling victim to this vicious recession the company offered its own profits to charity. This helped improve employee satisfaction and encourage them to do the same.

Anyway this was just an example and in truth money doesn’t solve everything – but that’s a different post.

I’ve rambled on long enough! Here’s a Selfie from my recent visit to New York to keep you at ease!

Dev

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The Mean Mower – No wonder your shrubs are shrivelling!

Honda (UK)’s Mean Mower (#meanmower) has officially broken the GUINNESS WORLDs title for the Fastest lawnmower, averaging 116.57 mph to break the previous record by almost 30mph. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFo7ztlMlmg

The ‘Mean Machine’ which rose to fame in late july 2013 is more than just your average lawn tractor. Fitted with a 1000cc – 100HP Honda Firestorm engine (That’s a very powerful Motorcycle engine to you and me), the Mean Mower has top speeds of near 130mph.  The project has already prompted both national and internation coverage with the likes of The Metro, Mashable, Daily Mail Online, Evening Standard and many more covering the story.

The idea for Mean Mower was to demonstrate Honda’s spirit of innovation, its motor sport heritage, and that it makes more than just cars. Mean Mower was designed and built in the UK by Honda (UK)’s British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) partner, Team Dynamics. The team re-engineered a Honda HF2620 Lawn Tractor from the ground-up, adding an all-new fabricated chassis, custom-made from 4130 chromoly, to provide a strong, safe but very light platform. A 1000cc engine from a Honda VTR Firestorm was used, along with a bespoke suspension and wheels from an ATV.

Ellie Ostinelli, PR Communications Manager for Honda (UK) comments: “The original brief for Mean Mower was to create the world’s fastest lawnmower – and now it officially is, by some distance! We are all delighted to hold a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title and we’d like to thank everyone who was involved in what has been a challenging yet incredibly exciting project.”

The ability to still cut grass was also a key element of the brief, and the super-fast mower still can, admirably, thanks to two electric motors on the cutter deck, spinning 3mm steel cutting cable at an incredible 4000rpm. The mower can cut grass at around 15mph, more than double the flat-out speed of the original HF2620 from which it is derived.
Every effort was made to retain as much of the look of the original mower as possible. The cutter deck was custom-made in fibre-glass, to reduce weight, while, in a stroke of pure genius, the grass bag provides a happy home for the fuel tank, a high capacity oil cooler and a secondary water cooling radiator.

However, the Mean Machine’s journey isn’t over just yet – “We’ve got some exciting opportunities lined up for the Mower in the next few months. It’s journey has only just started so who knows where it could lead to”.

 

Product Launches

Product launches are just one part of my placement, however they play a huge part in the automotive and automotive PR agency industry.

A press launch is the first time the media and journalists get to see products, in this case our vehicles -whether they be two or four wheeled. As they say first impressions are the ones that stick so its important that the launch suits the product.

So far i’ve been lucky enough to attend three launches. Two for cars and one joint launch for two bike models. It was a great experience and allowed me to meet journalists face to face as opposed to just emailing or talking over the phone. It was a great way to start building relationships and networking but also to help communicate the key points regarding the product.

There’s only so much a press release or brochure can say so it was interesting to see how my colleagues “sold in” the products to our guests face to face. PR, it showed, isn’t just about press releases and reactive communication. It’s about pro actively engaging communication with stakeholders and finding ways that interest not only the stakeholder, in this case journalists, but also their publics too, the journalists readers and audience.

So making connections between the car and its different aspects is really important. We wanted to showcase the class leading boot space as well as its high fuel economy and performance attributes. Therefore we launched the car at a well known racetrack in the UK – alongside it’s racing counterpart and race team, with a roadtrip to and from the hotel where our guess were staying. When the journalists arrived at the race track there was a competition to see how many racing trophies were in the car, followed by a passenger lap in the race car.

 

It sounds complicated but all of these aspects pulled together made an impression on the journalists in attendance. It wasn’t just factual presentations and a quick test drive – it allowed the stakeholder to engage with the product and brand and have the opportunity to experience something special and exciting.Making something ordinary – extraordinary.

Launches I’ve found are also a great place to gather feedback from industry proffessionals and to also chat about any upcoming features or stories that both parties could work together on. Its a great way t communicate ideas without the pressure of sounding like a sales person.ImageImageImage

Overall launches have been really fun, and although hey can be tiring, I’ve learn’t a great deal from them.

A Very Late Hello

Hello Again,

It’s been a while, actually a very long time, since I last posted. Again it’s the usually excuse of being super busy and being too wrapped up in everything to remember to write any of it down.

So this is going to be a very long post, as I’ve always got a lot to say! But I’ll be doing a separate post on product launches and also CSR, so keep a keen eye out for those!

At the start of December I was lucky enough to go on my first Pan-European product launch, for the Civic Tourer, in…ITALY! We took out a couple of journalists to show them the car, go through it’s features and run through specifics for each of their specialist areas. It was certainly and experience, and the views were spectacular. The hotel we were staying at was a stones throw away from The Vatican and we were lucky enough to see them putting the finishing touches to their Christmas tree. I’ll write more about my trip to Rome in the product launches post which will be coming next week!The Vatican

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My Christmas Jumper

The following week I had organised my first Charity Day for the company. In the true Christmas spirit it was Christmas Jumper themed. We held a bake sale and raised over £700 for charity. It was great to raise so much for such good causes and got everyone in the mood just before the Christmas party. It, the Christmas Party, was absoloutely hilarious. Seeing some of my co-workers let their hair down was tremendously funny, and it helped me get to know some people a bit better! Saturday morning wasn’t welcomed by any of us though, but it was a great night!

The time off from work over Christmas was great, you don’t realise how much you need the time off, however it was still hectic! Usually at Uni you get around a month off, this year I got 8! So it was a hurried time seeing everyone from home and catching up with friends. Squeezing in some family time and taking a day or two off just to sleep! Going back to work was just as tough, getting back into old routines and “forcing” myself out of the holiday mode was pretty hard but I managed to do it!

Next on my list was the UK launch of the Civic Tourer, which was held at Rockingham Race Circuit in Northamptonshire. It was great to actually meet journalists that i’d talked to over the phone and via email. It was also great to gauge first hand their reaction to the car and what they thought about it. Sitting in on some road tests was equally as interesting and allowed me to network with some interesting people!

Honda BTCC Civic Tourer 2014

Honda BTCC Civic Tourer 2014

 

I also got a chance to have a passenger lap in our 2014 British Touring Car Championship race car which was terrifyingly exhilarating! I don’t think I’ve ever been more lost for words in my life – something which the team we’re thankful for!

And finally, last week I got a chance to go on a motorcycle launch in Greece Again this was a Pan-European launch and it was great to meet loads of international journalists and bikers. My only downside was that i’d hurt my back an was unable to ride on the bikes, but hopefully this will be changing soon!

Integra and NC750X Launch

Integra and NC750X Launch

Anyway. look out for my next couple of posts coming up in the next few weeks!One will be on the product launches I’ve been lucky enough to attend and the other will be on CSR!

Thanks,

 

Dev

Twitter: @MrDevMistry

Instagram: @DevMistry1993

 

It’s been a while…

It’s been quite a while since I last wrote a post, and this time it’s not because I was too lazy to write one.

In my life I can honestly say that I have never been as busy as I was in the past 3 weeks. With motor shows, car dealer conferences, motorcycle shows and everything else on top, I’ve honestly spent a lot of my spare time sleeping.

Due to varied events and an extremely important motor show in Tokyo the office was empty I’ve the past few weeks, at many points it was just a singular colleague and myself running the press office. It was an experience to say the least and one I’m glad to have worked through successfully – in my opinion.

Taking on not just my supervisors work but also doing parts of my managers job was really tough, balancing two separate jobs with my own was never going to be easy – which I found out first hand. One minute I’d be writing internal Comms and the next I’d be sorting out Journalists with information they needed for a 5pm deadline. It was genuinely hectic.

This was all going on whilst I “project managed” our CSR project around our Car Dealer Conference. It’s all a bit of a blur but I’m recovering quickly with more exciting things ahead.

Our CSR project involved raising money for charity and involving the community in our efforts. This proved an interesting task with obstacles constantly stunting our planning growth but it allowed me to work with an external agency closely, which in turn helped my develop my managerial skills – something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. The night turned out to be a huge success from our CSR side with the company raising over £4000 for charity!

One of my main tasks for the past months has been the creation of a coverage Ebook. This is a compilation of all our coverage received and, with the publishers permission, compiled into an Ebook for internal staff to view all in one place. Compiling articles was the hardest part as going through the normal PR channels wouldn’t have proved successful. What I did find helpful was publishers actively trying to help, which I didn’t expect to happen. It lead me to interact with some specialist journalists as well which is really useful for future networking. The Ebook was premiered at the car dealer conference, and it was great to overhear the positive comments from dealers about my work. The gentlemen next to me was rather impressed that I’d collated and over saw the creation of the Ebook. People don’t expect much of an intern/placement student.

This time allowed me to prove myself not just to my team but people in the industry we work with regularly. Journalists now come to me actively to ask questions instead of waiting for my managers out of office, and I feel comfortable answering their queries. We joked in the office about how I was running the office a few weeks back and it felt true almost. That responsibility was scary but helped me work hard to achieve my goals.

I’ve also started working on events at weekends, which is a great way to continue learning about what the company does and its values. Two recent events have been

Mumsnet: Blogfest and Motor Cycles live

. Both were totally different one focused on engaging bloggers and getting them to release their creativity. The other focused on motorcyclists and their passion for the brand and its products. The latter helped a lot as a lot of the visitors taught me a lot about our bikes and passed on invaluable knowledge.

The team really appreciated my hard work, which I really appreciated in turn. It’s good to get acknowledgement and praise – it’s confidence boosting and helps turn constructive criticism into objectives and goals. I also got a humungous surprise which I’ll reveal next time I write. All I can say is I’m glad University hasn’t ruined my appetite for pizza and pasta!

Dev :) x

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