A brave new world: Lloyd’s List Digital

You really can’t stand in the way of progress. The digital media revolution has resulted in sweeping changes across the media landscape in a relatively short period of time. Nothing could hammer this point home more than the forthcoming closure […]


30 Sep
by Aspectus PR

Lloyds List Digital

You really can’t stand in the way of progress. The digital media revolution has resulted in sweeping changes across the media landscape in a relatively short period of time. Nothing could hammer this point home more than the forthcoming closure of Lloyd’s List’s print edition.

Today’s media industry has a lot to thank Lloyd’s List for. The publication is the world’s oldest newspaper and the 300-year evolution of the press owes much to the early development of this title.

Despite being a very difficult decision from an historical standpoint, it seems a comparatively easy decision from a commercial point of view. Irrespective of the global demand for its content, only 25 customers were requesting the edition in print! As Editor Richard Meade succintly pointed out, readers today access it digitally from any coffee shop in the world, rather than exclusively from a Lloyd’s Coffee House as was the case in the 18th century.

What does that mean for other print media? Time will tell, but we can be certain that the media and PR industry will evolve and thrive whatever the changes.


65th Emmy Awards prove the PR power of the soundbyte

The Emmys are the who’s who of television and a night of glamour, glitz, champagne and caviar. And although the 2013 Emmy Awards may have come and gone, there was an acceptance speech this year that broke the mold. The […]


27 Sep
by Aspectus PR

The Emmys are the who’s who of television and a night of glamour, glitz, champagne and caviar. And although the 2013 Emmy Awards may have come and gone, there was an acceptance speech this year that broke the mold. The following is an in-depth (albeit not dissertation-length) analysis of why every company spokesperson can take a few tips from this said actress:

Merritt Wever – Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series – Nurse Jackie

A+++

It was the acceptance speech heard ‘round the world that gained instant ‘buzz-worthiness’ in all corners of the internet. As the ‘underdog’ on the night, Wever became a PR reps’ dream as she delivered what is surely the shortest Emmy acceptance speech of all time. Beating out industry heavyweights such as Modern Family’s Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara, and Jane Krakowski from 30 Rock; a blatantly shocked and overwhelmed Merritt gave a heartfelt: “Thank you so much!” Then she whispered: “Um… I gotta go… Bye,” before hastily exiting stage right.

Despite its apparent brevity, there are many reasons why this speech was so amazing and helped catapult Merritt’s name into the limelight. For starters, Merritt took the unbeaten path with acceptance speeches. Instead of rattling out a list of producers, directors, writers, fellow actors, friends, family, neighbors down the street (you get the idea…), Merritt gave in to the human emotion of surprise in the best way – avoiding anything along the lines of: “I can’t believe this. I’m shocked. I’m speechless.” Instead, she let her actions do the talking, and the ingenuity of it all was a breath of fresh air from the canned acceptance speeches of Emmys past.

At Aspectus PR, we counsel our clients to give thought-provoking and unique industry commentary to journalists. That way, they are viewed as an unmatchable source for the press. Merritt gave a speech that was unlike any other, and she got noticed for it. Moments after she left the stage, journalists across the world were instantly looking up if it was Merritt with two “t’s” and Wever with or without an “a”.

We also advise our spokespeople to stay concise during interviews. To take a page out of Merritt’s playbook, providing “soundbytes” during the call increases your chance of getting quoted in their story. Why use seventeen sentences to answer a reporter’s question when you can give a snappy and quotable answer in three? Merritt’s speech became a soundbyte that will surely be used in Emmy montages for years to come. And speaking of soundbytes, we can’t help but agree with Emmy host Neil Patrick Harris’ quip afterwards: “Merritt Wever, best speech ever.”

And on that note:


How would social media have influenced the @LehmanBrothers #collapse today?

At risk of sounding like another yawn worthy ‘what has changed five years on from Lehman Brothers’ blog, we thought it would be interesting to explore how the biggest banking collapse in living memory might have played out in today’s world […]


24 Sep
by Aspectus PR

Lehman_BrothersAt risk of sounding like another yawn worthy ‘what has changed five years on from Lehman Brothers’ blog, we thought it would be interesting to explore how the biggest banking collapse in living memory might have played out in today’s world of social media.

Sure, an unnerving lack of internal and external communications may have helped fuel the collapse of the investment bank, but 2008 was a time when hashtags could be misconstrued as the latest smoking craze amongst suburban youths, and an API was more likely to be confused with an exotic derivative. In 2008, it was traditional media that ruled the roost in financial services, well, just about.

This was a period where the minds of the press were racing faster than Dick Fuld on a million dollar speedboat. Journos across the globe waited anxiously, pens poised, for the latest announcement from the US Federal Reserve. And the ‘will they won’t they?’ possibility of a bailout for Lehman seemed to last an eternity as Bernanke, Paulson, Geithner and co. held the financial fate of millions in their hands.

How times have changed. Today, Twitter is a primary source for news before it breaks. Unfortunately however, it is not necessarily the greatest tool for making sense of what is being said.

When it comes to something as complex as the sub-prime mortgage collapse, where even those with a rudimentary knowledge of financial services would be unlikely to know the difference between a CDS and a CDO, information broken by a medium such as Twitter could easily have been misunderstood, or the source misinformed. In the case of Lehman Brothers, would trending topics or messages such as ‘BofA is going to buy Lehman Brothers,’ have changed how investors reacted? Or would a ‘@Bernanke backs Barclays bid for Lehman Brothers’ tweet have prevented already nervous investors from pulling their money sooner? Imagine if the BofA acquisition of Merrill Lynch was rumoured over Twitter ahead of time?

Granted, it is always difficult to predict how markets would react, but in an era where more firms are embracing social media analysis as part of long and short term trading strategies, it is hard to imagine Twitter not having some impact, if not just for the sheer speed of which it communicates information. Twitter serves up a constant stream of updates as situations progress. The good news is that the overtly vocal nature of Twitter means other people, often working in comms, tend to immediately correct these errors, which would have been important in the case of Lehman Brothers.

As many still struggle to fully comprehend the events of 2008, it’s hard to imagine how, from a communications perspective, Twitter would have made life easier for those taking the decisions that changed the world. This is not to say that Twitter is without its benefits. Indeed, more and more firms are finding new ways to accurately separate credible data from the general social noise.

One thing’s for certain, firms in the financial services arena can no longer choose to ignore the influence of Twitter as a part of their communications strategy.


Bridging the skills gap: The need for improved communication within the oil and gas industry

At the conclusion of Offshore Europe, Malcolm Webb, Chief Executive of Oil and Gas UK declared the 2013 conference a resounding success.


19 Sep
by Aspectus PR

Offshore Europe 2013At the conclusion of Offshore Europe, Malcolm Webb, Chief Executive of Oil and Gas UK declared the 2013 conference a resounding success. With a record breaking number of visitors and high profile public figures such as Chancellor George Osborne, Business Secretary Vince Cable and Princess Anne in attendance, it is no surprise that the conference made headlines.

The week’s keynote speakers covered a variety of pressing topics, ranging from decommissioning to the advancement of offshore technology. However, a common thread ran through each: the need for a collaborative approach when tackling key issues within the industry.

Given that time constraints and the finite nature of resources have bred an underlying competitiveness extending beyond market leaders and across the industry, there has been little scope for collaboration in the past.

Nevertheless, it appears attitudes are changing when it comes to addressing the high profile problem of the skills gap that exists within the oil and gas industry, and the idea of cooperation in order to create a pool of talented prospective employees was very much embraced. With the organisation OPITO standing as an existing example of corporate collaboration, through its work to implement skills development initiatives in the oil and gas sector, it’s apparent that putting an end to the growing skills crisis is a shared goal.

The point, at which this growing sense of collaboration ends, is in the active reporting of the issue. Professor John Watson from Robert Gordon University, speaking on behalf of oil and gas skills organisation, OGAS, highlighted the issue of communication. Watson stated that in order to address the skills gap, reliable statistics charting the specific areas of concern, are vital to formulating a solution.

The need for accurate analysis was echoed succinctly by the audience as query after query arose from conference delegates, urging the panel to exhibit unambiguous evidence of this skills gap. From that point onwards, it became strikingly clear that the present skills crisis has been amplified by evident PR failures within both leading organisations and international oil and gas companies. Identification of the issue is substantially present within coverage – it is the next step of audience engagement which is being neglected.

With more than 60,000 in attendance for Offshore Europe, it’s clear that the industry as a whole is keen to work together on this issue. ­­­Nevertheless, these efforts are nullified without accurate and well-defined communication.


The conversion: Getting the most out of a press interview for PR (Part III)

So far we’ve looked at preparing for a press interview (Part I) and hosting a press interview (Part II). However, the post-interview follow-up with the client and the journalist are arguably the most important parts of the interview process if […]


16 Sep
by Aspectus PR

media-interview-follow-up

So far we’ve looked at preparing for a press interview (Part I) and hosting a press interview (Part II). However, the post-interview follow-up with the client and the journalist are arguably the most important parts of the interview process if you are to successfully convert your efforts into quality content and coverage.

With the client, the post-interview process should focus on pinpointing what went well during the conversation and building-out any points of clarification for the journalist. It is also good to discuss areas for improvement. In other words, de-brief the client fully, and let them know how you thought the interview went, identify any new messages or points that seemed to resonate well or that might be used in future campaigns, refresh on media tips that may or may not have been followed to lay the foundation for a smoother conversation next time.

The post-interview process with the journalist should focus on ensuring that they have everything needed to get the story over the line. Send the journalist any necessary supporting images, title confirmations, and remember to offer to quote or fact check. You should also find out what the publication’s timeframe is, so that any additional follow-up items and sharing of coverage is done as quickly as possible.

Quality coverage

As PR professionals, we cannot guarantee our clients that each and every interview will result in coverage. However, with careful planning, clear and timely communication, and a bit of PR savvy applied at each phase of the interview process, it is possible to give both the journalist and the client what they need to ensure the best outcome for all.


Will Twitter float like a feather?

Twitter yesterday confirmed it is planning for an IPO in what has been dubbed ‘the $10bn tweet’: “We’ve confidentially submitted an S-1 to the SEC for a planned IPO. This Tweet does not constitute an offer of any securities for […]


13 Sep
by Aspectus PR

Twitter

Twitter yesterday confirmed it is planning for an IPO in what has been dubbed ‘the $10bn tweet’:

“We’ve confidentially submitted an S-1 to the SEC for a planned IPO. This Tweet does not constitute an offer of any securities for sale.”

While the news hardly comes as a surprise given Twitter’s appointment of Morgan Stanley in May, the valuations being discussed – currently between $10bn and $11.5bn – prove that talk is anything but cheap as far as social media is concerned.

Certainly, there are several cautionary tales to heed for those investors that fancy a flutter, especially given that Twitter’s application to the SEC has been made under rules that allow it to keep its finances secret.

Suffice to say that we remain big fans of Twitter here at Aspectus, as we know it is an invaluable tool for keeping on top of the news, seeing what journalists are talking about, and identifying key influencers in the spaces in which we operate.

Indeed, it could be argued that it is Twitter’s utility that sets it apart from the rest of the social media flock. How far that utility for users will be stretched as it introduces more commercially-led features and advertising remains to be seen, but for now, we will just have to content ourselves with finding out the Twalue of our own twitter accounts.

Tags: IPO, Twitter,

Posted In: Blog, PR & Communications

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Staying on topic: Getting the most out of a press interview for PR (Part II)

In our last post, we wrote about preparing for a press interview and how it provides a prime opportunity to balance the needs of the journalist with the needs of the client. Here, we are going to look more closely […]


11 Sep
by Aspectus PR

media training press interviewIn our last post, we wrote about preparing for a press interview and how it provides a prime opportunity to balance the needs of the journalist with the needs of the client. Here, we are going to look more closely at the role the public relations professional plays during the interview itself.

The primary task when hosting an interview (or a meet and greet) is to make the necessary introductions and get the conversation underway. Ideally, you will then be able to listen quietly and participate only should the need arise. But the crucial skill is knowing when to step in and keep the conversation on course.

One of the most common scenarios actually occurs in the run up to an interview, whereby one of the parties needs to cancel or reschedule at the very last minute. By stepping in quickly, you can help to diffuse any tension and reschedule the interview at a convenient time for both.

Provided both client and journalist do make it to the scheduled interview, you can kick things off by building a framework for the conversation and by reiterating the focus of the discussion to keep it on target. For example, during a first interview or meeting, the client may want to give a brief background on the company and the spokesperson’s role to provide some context, but it makes more sense for the PR professional to suggest this when making the introductions.

With introductions made, it is best to let the journalist ask their questions and drive the flow of the conversation. The PR professional’s job at this point is to listen, take notes on action items (and potential materials for future pitches or content ideas) and only jump in if needed.

So, when should you step in?

Knowing when to interject is somewhat of an art form and comes with experience. However, below are some pointers on when it may be appropriate, and how to redirect the conversation:

  • If the spokesperson references commercially-sensitive information about a client or something the company does not wish to be made public, it is vital for the spokesperson to make it clear from the outset that the answer is ‘off the record.’ You should then reiterate this to the journalist once the client finishes their response.
  • When the interview is veering in a negative direction, or it appears as if the journalist is misinterpreting a point that the spokesperson has made that could appear in print, it can be useful to ask the journalist their thoughts on what is being discussed and ensure nobody is talking at cross purposes.
  • Should the conversation stray off-track or the journalist sound disinterested, redirect the conversation back to the topic at hand, but also look for opportunities to offer something extra to the journalist – exclusive comment or some facts and statistics to strengthen the story, for example.
  • When specific materials are referenced – such as headshots, marketing documents, previous press releases, or statistical data as proof points etc. – confirm that you will provide these following the call.
  • If there is a key point or message the spokesperson wants or needs to get across but has not done so effectively, a subtle way to remind them is to ask a follow-up question or make reference to a prior conversation that points them in the right direction.
  • When the call is running up against a set time constraint and one of the parties involved has a hard stop, you should look to jump in about five minutes before the end of the call to remind everyone they are running close on time and need to start putting together final thoughts.

If the journalist asks whether there is anything else to discuss that hasn’t been covered thus far, this provides a great opportunity for the client to not only recap on their main points, but also to add-in any messaging they were unable to cover within the remit of the questions.

The key however, is to avoid diluting the messaging or confusing the journalist by attempting to cram in too much information. The post-interview follow-up is where all the hard work should be converted into a hard-hitting story for the journalist and quality coverage for the client.


Always be prepared: Getting the most out of a press interview for PR

Public relations is a balancing act. Much like a tightrope walker where there is the pull of the client on one end and the journalist on the other, the art of PR is finding a way to balance the needs […]


06 Sep
by Aspectus PR

Woman walking on tightrope over cityscape, low sectionPublic relations is a balancing act. Much like a tightrope walker where there is the pull of the client on one end and the journalist on the other, the art of PR is finding a way to balance the needs of one against the other. For any public relations professional just starting out, it can take time to learn how to help a journalist get a good story that still leaves an opening for your client to get across a core business message in the process. But, there are best practices to keep in mind pre, during, and post interview to help get the best story possible. Marking the first in a three-part series of posts by Aspectus PR, here we provide advice on how to prepare for a stellar interview (part II will address the interview itself, and part III will discuss how to follow-up):

Always be prepared
Having reached this point in the PR process, you’ve already put together a stellar pitch about your client’s latest news or insights and gotten the journalist interested and excited about the idea. Well done. But now the real work starts. In order to facilitate a productive conversation with the best possible chance of converting to a compelling article for the journalist and good coverage for the client a certain amount of preparation is needed ahead of the interview itself. This means prepping both journalist and client.

The journalist
Preparing the journalist for the interview might include sending over a copy of a supporting press release, sharing company or product information as background, distributing biographies and confirming titles of the spokesperson(s), sending related survey or proprietary data to reinforce the story, providing access to additional sources, and having a clear conversation about potential embargo timings. The latter is to ensure the interview is being scheduled with enough time to respect the embargo and meet the journalist’s deadlines. This level of preparation will help ensure the journalist has everything needed to understand your client’s area of expertise, focus questions appropriately, and save space for the article in respect of the embargo date.

The client
Preparing the client can be an even greater task. While media training for key spokespersons is always encouraged, it can also be helpful to speak with the interviewee a few minutes ahead of the interview to address any last minute questions or voice any concerns, re-iterate any hard stop times or let them know of any changes in process or content.

It also helps to provide a written briefing document to interviewees with information on the journalist, publication, interview focus and core messages to discuss. This short document can serve as a point of reference on the call to ensure that responses to questions are always framed within the context of the publication’s target audience.

Top tips to keep in mind when speaking with the media include:

  • Keep your answers short
  • Remember you’re the expert, and that everything you say is on the record unless you clearly state otherwise
  • Decide on your three key points or messages you want to get across and stick to them

Come talk PR at Offshore Europe 2013

Today, Aspectus PR’s energy team is attending the largest upstream oil and gas event outside North America with the 2013 instalment of Offshore Europe. Taking place at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) in Scotland, the week-long conference will […]


03 Sep
by Aspectus PR

Offshore Europe_Aspectus PR

Today, Aspectus PR’s energy team is attending the largest upstream oil and gas event outside North America with the 2013 instalment of Offshore Europe.

Taking place at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) in Scotland, the week-long conference will provide a platform for more than 1,500 exhibitors to display their latest discoveries and innovations to some 48,000 attendees.

Members of the Aspectus energy team will be dividing their time between the exhibition space and the keynote speeches. However, if you’re heading to the event and are currently planning PR strategy, please do get in touch. We’ve regularly got coverage for our oil and gas clients in The Times, The Telegraph, World Oil, the FT and Oil and Gas Journal.

Even if you are looking to enhance your current efforts or PR is not something you’ve thought about before, we’d be delighted to meet for an informal chat.

Email us or tweet us to meet us…


High frequency trading sparks ongoing opportunities for financial comms

You could be forgiven for thinking otherwise, but the majority of news events have a short lifespan. As witnessed recently, there are notable exceptions. But even the copious amount of media attention given to the late Margaret Thatcher would have […]


21 Aug
by Aspectus PR

aspectus-pr_HFTYou could be forgiven for thinking otherwise, but the majority of news events have a short lifespan. As witnessed recently, there are notable exceptions. But even the copious amount of media attention given to the late Margaret Thatcher would have to go some way to outrun that being afforded to the controversial topic of high frequency trading (HFT).

To the uninitiated, HFT is the use of highly sophisticated technologies and algorithms to trade securities at speeds so fast it makes Usain Bolt look like Eric Pickles doing the 100 meters. Unlike more traditional forms of trading on financial markets, investment positions in HFT are held for as little as a fraction of a second, all in a bid to buy and sell stocks with minimum loss of its original value. Since the now infamous 2010 flash crash, an event that saw the Dow drop 900 points only to recover minutes later, the interest in HFT has grown such that it has been catapulted from the mainstay conversation of monosyllabic quantitative trading geeks in the Square Mile, to the bright lights of Hollywood.

Yes, believe it or not, like the Iron Lady herself, HFT has hit the big screen with Ghost Exchange, a documentary portraying the growing influence of technology on financial markets. So just how has this form of market making risen from minor industry trade news to potential blockbuster of the big screen and more importantly, how can the communications industry take advantage of its star turn?

Well, in the same way that Thatcher was able to divide public opinion, the debate around whether HFT is a good or bad thing for markets is exactly the same. Indeed, its divisive nature provides almost unlimited communications opportunities for market participants in the financial sector. For the PR firms representing them, the key to getting their clients in on this debate, whether they are for or against, is to adopt a communications strategy flexible enough to anticipate what will spark the next debate on HFT.

There are many different topics that link into HFT, from how the practice is regulated to new reports such as the one released by the Government last month, proposing a tax on profits. It is also important to identify an angle that not only drives new interest around HFT, but also the client’s specific service, ensuring they have credibility when they take their story to market.

As long as there is a new report, mini flash crash or regulatory uncertainty, the topic of HFT is unlikely to go away. Those PR agencies with a communications strategy able to react fastest to the latest developments sparking fresh debate will be the ones that successfully land top-tier coverage for clients in the financial sector.

One thing is for certain, regardless of the approach adopted by agencies and their clients, HFT is a topic that is certainly not for turning.