Gone Fishin’

It’s with great regret that I’m announcing a break from blogging.
It’s been a few weeks since I posted anything and I haven’t been able to find the time with my increased workload.
Unfortunately a third year breakdown is imminent and I’ve had to prioritise. 
Hopefully I’ll be able to post sporadically until graduation, otherwise I’ll see you in June.

#TBT – 2015 Douglas Smith Award

As today is throwback Thursday, I thought I’d indulge in a little reminiscing.

This week the 2016 Douglas Smith Student Award was launched by CIPR International.  Although I’ve already written a post about winning last year’s award, and one on the entry itself, I haven’t really written about what I learned from the award.  So for this week, I thought I would write a brief post with advice to help out anyone considering entering this year:

  1. Trust your instincts – last year I entered as a team with Hannah and Arianne. We decided straight away to enter together and didn’t have any doubts that it wouldn’t work, but if someone wants to work with you and you’d rather go it alone then go for it.
  2. Do your research – we must have spent the equivalent of around 200 hours conducting primary and secondary research for our campaign, and still managed to miss pieces out.  Make sure that solid research forms the base of your tactics.
  3. Remember that this is an international campaign – we were used to planning local level campaigns and thinking strategically on an international level took some getting used to.
  4. Presentation is everything – think carefully about how you want to present your campaign, last year we had a limit of 1500 words which was really hard to stick to.  That’s why we chose a brochure format, so that we could make use of lots of pictures (and make it look pretty).
  5. Pace yourself – April seems like a long time away, but it will roll around faster than you think.  We found it helpful to schedule our meetings into our timetables so that we could keep on top of the extra workload.  This also helped us to set manageable goals and timelines.

So there you have it, my top 5 tips for any students who want to enter for this year. However, I would also issue a friendly warning.  It is a lot of work, so make sure that you have time to do it and aren’t overstretching yourself.  I have a tendency to take on too much and even though I would love to enter this year, I don’t think I would be able to do so without having a breakdown.

That being said it looks excellent in your portfolio and is definitely worthwhile for improving your strategic planning skills.

Good luck!

“Where do babies come from?” OR How to Answer Awkward Questions

As a parent there are many times that you’ll have to answer awkward questions.  This week it’s been “where do babies come from?”  Obviously, it’s a bit inappropriate to spell this out to a three year old, but how do you get a good balance? And how much information do you give away?

After thinking about this for a while I realised that answering these questions from Penny was a lot like fielding questions from a journalist. So, here are my top 5 tips for answering questions that you might not be entirely comfortable with.

1. Tell the truth

Honesty is the best policy, if you lie to a journalist it will definitely come back to bite you when they discover the truth.  Not only will your client’s reputation be damaged, but you’ll also ruin your relationship with the journalist and risk any chance of being featured in their publication in the future.

2. But not the whole truth

Sometimes it’s best not to go into too much detail, as you may end up revealing too much and damaging relationships with your client or the media. Remember that PR is meant to be strategic, so don’t give everything away up front if you’re planning on releasing more information later for greater impact.

3. Put a positive spin on things

If you have to deliver bad news, try and find the positive.  

Penny: “why is Simba’s daddy died?”

Me: “because it was his time to go, but now he gets to go to heaven.”  

Probably not the best example, but to promote your clients in the best way you should follow up doom and gloom with something positive.

4. Refer back to past experiences

To help Penny understand complex theories, such as life and death or where babies come from, it helps to remind her of things we’ve talked about before.  In the same way, reminding journalists of previous good news can provide context for your answers and provide a positive background for the interview.

5. Make it easily understandable

Sometimes you need to break things down to help people to understand them, particularly if you have a client in the technology or science industry that deals with complex theory.  If a journalist understands what you’re talking about then it’ll make for a better story and your key messages are more likely to be retained.

 

Who’d have thought that raising a toddler could teach us so much about PR?  Do you have any top tips for answering awkward questions?

Strategic Planning for Christmas

After months of research and planning, it’s almost time for the implementation of the ‘Christmas Strategy’.

Planning for Christmas with a toddler is like a military operation, it takes careful planning and timing to execute a successful day.  So I thought I’d share with you my list of reasons why planning for Christmas is like planning a Public Relations campaign.

1. Research is key

This includes speaking to other stakeholders (parents), desktop research (flicking through the Argos catalogue) and speaking to your target publics (asking your child what they would like off Santa).  It also consists of assessing your current situation and asking yourself important questions, such as:

How much space do we have in the toy cupboard?

Will Penny actually use this, or just play with the box?

Creating a situational analysis is essential for any parent wanting to get through the holidays in peace.

2. Planning is essential

Organising a timetable is a requirement for Christmas in our house to run smoothly.  Our family is huge and we have to co-ordinate visits to and from parents, grandparents and extended family.  I usually start planning an itinerary after Halloween so that people know where they stand and I have a clear idea of what I need to achieve and by when.

3. Stick to your budget

I often make the mistake of buying on impulse, especially so close to Christmas.  Don’t be drawn in by additional extras.  The reason that campaigns have budgets is to make them realistic and within the organisation’s means.  There is no point splurging extra on presents if you can’t afford the wrapping paper.

4. Crisis management

Your long lost auntie has just turned up on your doorstep, you don’t have a gift for her, what do you do? I tend to keep an emergency stash of generic presents and spare Christmas cards just in case.

Whether it’s a forgotten gift or burnt turkey, always have a contingency plan.

5. Sit back and evaluate your hard work

Now it’s time to relax, sit back and enjoy the event that you helped to create. If anything goes wrong, then you’ll know exactly what to do for next year….

How to De-Stress

This week has been a bit hectic to say the least.  With deadlines looming and the first semester coming to a close, third years are beginning to feel the pressure. So instead of writing a long and rambling post about PR I thought I’d keep it short and sweet with my top tips to de-stress this exam season.

1. Don’t leave everything until the last minute

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Cinderella knows the score
OK, so this one is more of a preventative measure.  If you leave everything until deadline day then you’re just creating more work and stress for yourself.  If you’re prepared and do a little at a time it’s much more manageable and will save you less sleepless nights in the long run.

2. Have a bath

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This isn’t my bath. My bathroom is nowhere near this clean.
Or do whatever works for you.  Schedule some ‘me’ time to relax, have a hot bath, meditate or just chill in front of the TV.  You’ll find that sometimes having a night off can do you the world of good to refocus and regroup.  Just make sure you get the balance right and don’t end up spending ever day relaxing (refer to point one).

3. Have a dance party

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Maybe shut the blinds first…
Put on your favourite song and dance and sing like no one’s watching.  It might seem daft but sometimes letting go and being silly is one of the best things you can do. It gets the blood pumping and takes your mind off things.  If you do it with friends…even better.. (currently jamming to ‘Wannabe by Spice Girls’ with Hannah and Morta).

4. Finding something that works for you

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My fridge looks like this
Whether you need to cover your house in post it notes, write a to do list in your diary, or focus on one task at a time, find a planning method that work for you and stick to it.

And if all else fails…..

5. Have a glass of wine and a deep breath

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This counts as one, right?