Journalism undergraduate gets first taste of PR

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As cliché as it may sound – my two week placement at Kinetic genuinely has flown by! It feels like only yesterday I was walking around the Jewellery Quarter with Google Maps out on my phone trying to navigate my way to the office, meanwhile my stomach doing somersaults due to a combination of nerves and excitement.

Firstly – it has been an amazingly brilliant two weeks, and for every reason you can think of. Above everything else, you want to be able to feel comfortable and welcomed, and Kinetic staff made me feel part of the team within the first couple of hours. They also know how to make a good cuppa, so that was an added bonus!

Joking aside, it was a brilliant experience and I learnt much more than I expected to in such a short space of time. I had a taste of all different aspects of PR, from writing press releases and drawing up social media calendars all the way down to ringing up local and national newspapers and posting leaflets! There was always work to be done, and constantly have bits and pieces to be getting on with is exactly what you want when you go on placement.

I learnt a lot not only about PR, but as a writer as well. Constant advice and feedback was given to me during my time at Kinetic – something I definitely couldn’t have expected beforehand. Going into my third and final year of studying Print Journalism at Nottingham Trent University, it was extremely helpful to have the opportunity to sit down one-to-one with a member of the team, in my case Lina, and discuss the work I had been doing. It gave me the chance to see what was good and where I could improve, as well as gain stylistic advice from a fellow journalism graduate.

For me there were two main things that made the placement what it was. First of all was the challenge of the work. “Once the mind has been stretched, it rarely returns to its original state.” I might be paraphrasing a little, but I heard these wise words from Angela on a few occasions during my time spent there.

Kinetic has a diverse range of clients that specialise in everything, from modular buildings to garden and horticulture products. Getting your head around the different businesses at first can be a bit tricky, but I actually found it an enjoyable challenge and a good test for me to be writing about something I previously did not know much about.

The second was the chemistry of the Kinetic team. The office always had a friendly and positive vibe to it, even when deadlines were looming. Everyone was approachable throughout the two weeks and a pleasure to be around.

My advice for undergraduates who are also considering working towards a career in PR is to go into your placement with an enthusiastic attitude and a willingness to do whatever work you are set. Some parts may not be the most exciting thing you’ve ever done, but by persevering you will demonstrate the important qualities that employers are looking for. By embracing your placement and being positive you will get the most out of your experience, wherever you choose to go!

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How to manage a TV news report by Rebecca Sloan

We recently managed the production of several news reports for our clients Young Driver (which teaches 11-16 year olds to drive) and Living Fuels (which converts used cooking oil into electricity).

As dab hands at managing media filming and broadcasts, we’ve come up with five tips to managing a broadcast report:

  1. Know your key messages and what you’re trying to achieve – reporters are very busy people.  Often they’re briefed on the story just before they leave to film. It’s important that you’re able to give them the right information quickly and efficiently to make the most of your report.
  2. Identify your best speakers – if you don’t have an official spokesperson, analyse your team and identify the person best placed/most relevant to add content and/or come across with charisma.  Remember – reporters are not looking for a long explanation, they’re looking for a snappy, well-said sound-byte.
  3. Get media training – practice your interview and anticipate questions the reporter is likely to ask.  If you’re unsure of what to do, or if you fear they’ll ask you questions about an uncomfortable topic, get media training.  This will help you prepare the best response for any given situation.
  4. Always have a back-up plan – things very rarely go to plan.  Make sure that there are options available should things go wrong. Be prepared to think on your feet.
  5. Relax and enjoy yourself – make sure you enjoy the experience.  Unless you’re being filmed as part of a fire-fighting exercise, the reporter will be looking to put together the best possible report and will work with you to make sure you get your points across.

To see the latest broadcast coverage for Young Driver and Living Fuels, see the below clips below.

Young Driver on ITV

And to view Living Fuels on the BBC

Building belief in the football brand – by Aimee Postle

Aimee Postle, Account Manager, Kinetic Communications - Birmingham PR consultancy

Aimee Postle

Cameron and Clegg must have been grateful this past week as their Comprehensive Spending Review announcements were overshadowed by something far more important for the UK population – whether Wayne Rooney was, in fact, going to leave Manchester United.

This week has been somewhat of a football focused week – with Pompey on the brink of collapse (again!) and Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson facing a barrage of criticism after just eight league games in charge.  Recent months have seen the cash for votes scandal around the England 2018 bid for the FIFA World Cup while the exit of Martin O’Neill from Aston Villa dominated headlines for a number of days.

So, what is it about ‘the beautiful game’ which captures hearts and minds – and headlines – and what can the business world learn when it comes to managing their own reputations?

Rich or poor, black or white, at home or abroad – anyone can watch or support football.  It is universally understood and transcends linguistic, cultural and geographic barriers.  Clubs such as Manchester United are internationally recognised – with kits and souvenirs being shipped all over the world.  It could be argued that Rooney’s exit – no longer to happen – would have been felt further and wider than the UK spending cuts.

For business, this suggests that universal access can reap high rewards.

However, while universally accessible, football brands also instil a sense of team pride – fans feel a sense of belonging, the right to comment on failures and revel in success.  Anyone who considers themselves a fan feels they have the right to pass public judgement on the actions of the football business.  So, every decision is examined in minute detail.

For business, something which may lead to uncomfortable outcomes.

Finally, this scrutiny runs both ways.  Football clubs get the positive stories and headlines because they provide information and access in the bad times as well.  The media is a fickle friend and journalists will soon stop talking about the good times if they are not given the access during the bad.

For business, a lesson that media coverage does not always go the way you want it to!

Should online news be free? by Rebecca Sloan

Should businesses and individuals be charged to access news content online or forward links to particular stories? Endorsed by the PRCA and CIPR, online news service Meltwater is taking the Newspaper Licensing Authority (NLA) to court over their attempts to regulate online news distribution.

The case has a lot of us in the PR industry wondering about the ethics of it all.

Should people have to pay to access online news content in any of its forms, be it the article or through a link sent from a friend? And who will it benefit?

For some, paying for online news content is a way to ensure quality standards and support newspapers who are struggling to make ends meet through traditional print publishing.

For others, enforced regulation on accessing and linking to content seems to go against the purpose of the internet and new media technologies to make content readily available.

The reading we’ve done suggests that it can actually be more harmful than good to enforce this type of regulation – and not just for those businesses paying for the content, but for the distributors.

Although some publications, largely specialist titles like the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal, have successfully managed to put a subscription structure in place many newspapers such as the New York Times and the Washington Post have tried and failed to do this.

Slate, the online publication run by The Washington Post, commented on the reason why they chose not to charge their readers. Turns out that their own experience of online subscriptions and studies like those conducted by Matthew Gentzkow helped them conclude that enforcing the consumer to pay for content did more harm than good.

Gentzkow’s study, for example, suggests that the online market for advertising has grown so substantially that the revenue it produces generally outweighs the revenue produced by a subscription-based publication. It also suggests that online news content is not a direct threat to print because they’re used as substitutes rather than competitors (i.e. a reader of The Guardian might read the publication online on days when they cannot get the paper).

So what’s the solution? Jeff Jarvis, author of ‘What would Google Do?’ has the right idea. He argues that owning or distributing content no longer holds any value and that news sources should use their trusted and established positions in society to facilitate interactivity and conversation online instead.

After all, web 2.0 is all about interactivity. We’re in an age where content is King. And, as Jeff Jarvis points out, ‘conversation is the Kingdom’. Newspapers should instead be looking at ways to improve their reach online by facilitating conversation.

It makes sense really. Through the increased growth of web-traffic, publications will be able to charge higher rates for corporate advertisements without alienating those who cannot afford to pay for content. Charging people to access and circulate information however will have a chilling effect. And, with an increasing amount of content available online, people will only turn to pirate sites or citizen journalism to get their fix – and this could open up a whole other bucket of worms in itself.

The rise and rise of user generated content (UGC) by Simon Partington

I read an interesting piece of news from the Guardian Media group over the Christmas break, detailing some new roles within the business for an online local news project. Interestingly enough, this was something I was chatting to a friend about over a drink recently, and we both came to the same conclusion – it is inevitable.

The rise and rise of user generated content (UGC) has meant for some time that any old Tom, Dick or Harry can play at being a journalist. Whilst I’m not suggesting that this is a bad way to gather news, it does bring into question the future methods of news gathering for mainstream media.

As we hear of more and more outlets ceasing publication, reducing frequency or cutting staff, you have to wonder whether a decrease in journalists will lead to an increase in the ‘consumer editor’. Having pondered this in the past, I saw a textbook example of crowdsourcing that affirmed my thoughts instantly.

When the latest set of MPs’ expenses forms were released in December, the Guardian turned to its readers to determine the most scandalous claims, of the 458,000 documents published, for further investigation. Through passing this task to its readers, the Guardian effectively handed the editorial decisions across too – it became the public’s choice to determine what made a good story and what didn’t warrant attention.

What this shows is that the future of web, or perhaps a very large part of it, lies with involvement. The Guardian managed to turn 25,439 readers into citizen journalists through the power of web 2.0. The message? If you want influence, get involved!