A successful fisherman chooses bait based on what fish he’s planning to catch, and goes home with a nice bounteous load. A foolish fisherman chooses bait based on what he likes, and most likely goes home with nothing.
Did you know the press release format dates back to the 1880s? Isn’t it surprising that this major business communication format hasn’t changed despite all the digital communication changes…i.e. Twitter, Facebook, blog?
PR professionals need to take a sales pitch lesson from fishermen and choose the bait and hook that our readers want.
Let’s face it. Readers are selfish – perhaps this is because they’re bombarded by 5,000+ media messages a day. They have the mindset of WIIFM – “What’s in it for me?” If it doesn’t interest them or help them, they don’t read it.
It’s a foolish writer and the height of arrogance to think that a reader is going to read every single word you write.
I had the privilege of attending a writing seminar given by Ann Wylie. It was a great workshop and completely changed my approach to writing. She gave a few helpful tips I want to share:
Think like a reader when you write. What does the reader want to read about? Your client? Not really.
They want to understand how what your client does will impact their life. And they want what they’re reading to be interesting. So, if you’re news release is boring you, it most certainly will bore your reader.
Build a Solid Structure. Forget the news pyramid, and begin with what readers want to hear. Here’s a formula Ann gave us -
Cut Through Clutter. Readers will skip over long paragraphs and words. Keep it simple.
Also remember that the average person reads 200 words/min. In today’s fast paced digital world you only have about 2 minutes at most to tell your story. That means you have 400 words. Good luck.
In closing, two final thoughts regarding reviewing:
And no worries. I know you skimmed this. Hopefully it sold you into this new way of thinking about writing, and maybe, just maybe entertained you.
They say it takes six weeks to settle into something fully, be it an exercise routine, a diet, or in my case, a job. I started as a PR Administrator at Fifth Ring six weeks ago but actually felt settled in after one. Although now in realisation the transition into my role seems easy, I wish my six-week future self had told that to the nervous wreck on the morning of January 4th.
Despite having lived in the oil capital of Europe all of my life and having parents who work in the industry, I worried about my knowledge of oil and gas. My passion is fashion. An internship over the summer allowed me to work for an up-and-coming fashion designer, Liz Black. Day-today work consisted of sourcing stylists and make-up artists, or having six-foot models parade about in their underwear for castings. Why did Fifth Ring want me? Would my colleagues have visions of an Elle Woods character breezing into the office on the first day; a blond bimbo with her pink fluffy pens, easily managing to rattle off the names of 30 shoe designers, but not have a clue about oil platforms? Just like in the film Legally Blonde, I wanted to be taken seriously. I wanted to show I could turn my hand to anything.
I can tell you the difference between a Chelsea boot and a Brogue. But now I know the difference between upstream and downstream. I know that Sarah Burton is creative director at Alexander McQueen, but also that Colin Parker is chief executive at Aberdeen Harbour Board. And although I still enjoy looking at the beautiful models and clothes in i-D and Dazed and Confused, my bedtime reading has shifted to Offshore Engineer and Recharge.
When you think about it, the two industries are not that different. You still have a range of products and services to promote, important people you need to know about, markets to target, and publications that incorporate it all. Having a challenging job is exhilarating and rewarding. The fashion industry is challenging, but so is the oil and gas industry. It’s a steep learning curve, but one I’m really happy to be on.
Still, I’m always going to have a copy of Vogue in my drawer.
With offices in the energy capitals of the world, Fifth Ring is no stranger to internationalisation but we didn’t get there without hard work, determination and help from Scottish Development International (SDI).
As Ian Ord explained at the Glasgow leg of the ‘Grow your business internationally’ conferences, the support of SDI gave Fifth Ring invaluable knowledge of new market places and created business networks which helped to start the Houston branch of the office. SDI support certainly accelerated our growth in Houston and we would have been unlikely to have won PRSA Houston Mid-Sized Agency of the Year in under 3 years without it.’
The Smart Exporter service that SDI offers is a new international trade skills development programme which provides free, high quality export support to Scottish businesses and individuals. The aim of the programme is to improve skills and the export performance of ambitious Scottish companies. Fifth Ring highly recommends using this service and getting in touch with SDI if business success abroad is important to your company.
To find out more about SDI support we suggest you visit one of the upcoming ‘Grow your business internationally’ conferences in Dundee on the 16th of February or Aberdeen on the 22rd of March. For more information visit http://www.quaydigitalscotland.co.uk/sites/events/sbi-conferences/sdiroadshow/
Annette Fernandes, Director at Fifth Ring in Dubai, attended a British Business Group hosted event in early February presented by Ed James, head of MEED Insight. The event evaluated current trends and sought to identify areas of interest within the immediate future for UK energy companies based in Dubai and the Northern Emirates.
The presentation revealed that the sector has largely been unaffected by regional political turmoil with both size and number of large-scale projects having surged in recent years.
Investment within the sector remains strong with nothing to suggest that this will change in the near future. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait continue to lead the way within the GCC and new players like Iraq and Kurdistan are also establishing a significant presence in the region.
All the leading international EPC contractors are active, with Western and Japanese contractors traditionally the market leaders. Clients are mostly blue chip and dominated by NOCs.
Aggressive bidding has seen Korean contractors become the dominant force since 2009 and lump-sum turnkey contracts are the favoured procurement model, with the risk heavily on the contractors. However there is a growing degree of local capability on the subcontractor and supply levels.
The GCC hydrocarbons sector has been through an exceptional period with new contract awards reaching a record high in 2009, but falling back to the recent historical average in 2010; 2011 looked to be performing marginally better than 2010, but fell away in quarter four.
With the exception of 2009 and 2010, Saudi Arabia has been the biggest market for major hydrocarbon awards in the GCC; it has propped up the overall value of awards in the region in 2011, accounting for 57% of all hydrocarbons awards.
Oil and gas production projects have been the largest segment of the hydrocarbons market, followed by processing and petrochemicals. Gas production accounts for $38bn of the overall total. UAE represents 44% of production, 21% of processing, 41% of Transmission 28% of Petrochemicals.
Hydrocarbons projects made up the largest segment of the GCC projects market (by contract value) from 2000 to 2005 when it was superseded by civil construction. After the onset of the financial crisis in 2008, Hydrocarbons again became the biggest sector. Bar 2008, it has been consistently the largest sector or second largest (behind Construction) every year since 2000.
The value of projects due to be awarded between now and end 2012 for the GCC Hydrocarbons sector demonstrates that there will be a steady flow of contracts over the next 11 months. There are 58 projects in the GCC each with a value of over $1bn, due to be awarded between now and the end of 2013 (27 in 2012, 29 in 2013).
Priorities going forward
#PRDefined: 300,000 website hits. 30 trade and business media articles. 50 blog posts (if you’re reading this you’ll now know it’s 51). Thousands of blog comments from respected professionals (even going as far as renowned theorists). 1,000 submitted definitions of public relations, and finally, thousands of tweets.
And we’re still not there, yet.
However, in true public relations style, the campaign has created a storm of its own.
There has been much debate since the initiative launched on 21st November 2011, with many backing the view of Steve Barrett, editor-in-chief of PRWeek’s (US) recent column entitled, ‘Let’s Cut the Crap and Get On with the work’.
Mr. Barrett states, “Let’s quit our inside baseball obsession with defining stuff, cut the crap, stop wasting time, and concentrate on getting on with the work and addressing issues that really matter.”
He argues that the tools, channels and techniques enlisted may have changed over the years, but the meaning of PR has not.
Where many of us can seemingly relate to the argument Steve Barrett makes, on the flip side, it does leave you wondering…
Is it just that we’re too busy ‘getting on with it’ to take the time to truly respect how hard we do work in an industry that’s been around for more than a century?
Gerard F. Corbett, chair and chief executive officer of the PRSA, and the man at the heart of venture, thinks so.
Having recently taken time out to speak to The Drum on his online column, Mr. Corbett says, “Society has a preconceived notion of what PR professionals do – some concepts more targeted than others – but no universal definition exists”, which in his opinion, leads to the fact that “we in PR admittedly have a PR challenge”.
And it appears he’s not wrong. After conducting recent research of my own, I found that the range of opinions and definitions towards PR wavers greatly.
From the more pragmatic view, “It’s much more than pushing releases into the press, it’s about using PR tactics to leverage thought leadership – particularly in B2B. It builds equity in your brand and provides secondary endorsement from media channels”.
To the more negative, “Champagne, high heels and parties”.
While many may laugh, one thing is clear, Mr. Corbett is right when he states, “No one definition is considered the de facto industry definition”.
After analysing nearly 1,000, “Public Relations Defined” is in its final phase, with just three definitions remaining. These are now up for public vote, and the winner will be the new modern definition of public relations in the digital revolution.
Regardless of which side of the fence we find ourselves on, we, as public relations professionals owe it to ourselves and our industry, to cast a vote, because one thing I’m sure we can all agree upon, is that it’s about time the fluency of voice we give our clients is aptly represented by a defined voice of our own.