Why I think Prezi is better than PowerPoint – by Rebecca Sloan

Rebecca Sloan, Kinetic, WIBA

Rebecca Sloan waxes lyrical about Prezi

With my upcoming presentation on how to measure and manage your reputation in the 21st century coming up next Tuesday to WIBA, it seemed about time to start pulling together the presentation slides. 

Having recently discovered Prezi, a relatively new platform which functions as a zooming presentation editor, my upcoming seminar seemed the perfect opportunity to try out the new platform.

With this in mind, we’d like to let you in on this well-kept secret and give you an insight into this tool which will revolutionise the way in which we deliver presentations. Here’s my review of Prezi in comparison to PowerPoint:

Functionality

It will take a few minutes to get used to the new functionality of Prezi.  However, once you’ve learned this, designing a presentation is much easier to do and requires far less fuss to make look interesting.  Kiss goodbye to aligning text with grid lines.  Prezi is all about freedom of expression.

Usability

Unlike PowerPoint, more than one person can edit a Prezi presentation at a time.  You can even track their movements with neat little cartoon people who wander around the screen mimicking the movements of other users.  Great fun and hugely useful if you need to pull together a last-minute group presentation.

Fun 

Where PowerPoint encourages a ‘less is more’ approach, Prezi takes a view that ‘more is better fun’. With the ability to zoom, twirl and dive into words and pictures, Prezi enables presentations to function more as a ‘mind-map’ than as a slideshow.

Overall, we think it’s a great piece of software.  Although serious users will need to pay a small licence fee (approximately £37 a year) to keep their presentations private and under-wraps, it is well worth the price if you’re likely to be running regular presentations. Four out of four stars!

The power of reputation – by Angela Podmore

Recently, Birmingham City University Business School hosted an event on Britain’s Most Admired Companies – annually featured in Management Today.

The study of corporate reputation is led by Prof D Michael Brown and this year’s keynote speaker was Sir Terry Leahy, Tesco CEO since 1997.  He’s grown the turnover to £62.5bn and £3.5bn profit, 48,000 stores and 472,000 staff – in other words a guy who knows a thing or two about getting people facing in the same direction.

Leahy finds reputation, “the most unsettling aspect of management” because you can spend a lifetime hoping to build a reputation and you can lose it in a single day.  He sees most managers as control freaks so “it’s an uncomfortable thought”.

“You can’t buy, own or possess a reputation.  It’s given to you by other people” – with these few words he shows his understanding of reputation.  A reflection of ‘everything you say, everything you do and everything others say about you’ (source:  CIPR).

He explained how far they’d come in that a tobacco company had considered acquiring Tesco in the 1980s but turned down the deal because it “might drag down their reputation”.

Regarding managing reputation, “you can’t set out to manage your reputation.  You just have to ensure you manage your company and ensure you manage a good company.”

He said at the heart of it, a company needs to be built on a clear common purpose of what it exists to do and do it well based on values.

The Tesco vision is to ‘create benefit for customers in order to earn their lifetime loyalty’.  Their values are:  ‘service – no one should try harder for customers than Tesco’ and ‘respect – treat others as we’d like to be treated ourselves’.

Simple!  And that’s why it’s worked so well.

He said you can manage 100 people but you can’t hope to manage hundreds of thousands of people.  You have to ensure they share the sense of common purpose, follow the right strategy, with the right values and we don’t over control the business.

Another great tip he gave any would-be-top-CEO.  “You mustn’t overreact when crisis strikes.  The key is to run with it and come out the other side.  A good company, built on solid foundations will come through the other side.  It’s knowing when to use the sword and the shield.”

He says the power of reputation can be measured in the percentage of ‘intangibles’ of a company’s market capitalisation.  The higher the number, the higher the esteem in which that organisation is held.  So you have Mitchells and Butler at 25%, Sainsbury’s at 30%, Tesco at 60%, M&S at 64%, Severn Trent at 65%, GSK at 83% and Diageo at 86%.  So, measure for measure, Diageo’s reputation is three times more powerful than M&B’s.

Apart from market cap, across all sectors, there are clear links between strong corporate reputation and performance:

·         Quality products

·         Quality marketing/brands

·         Ability to attract, recruit and retain their teams

·         Strong quality management

·         Financial solutions

·         Value as a long-term investment

·         Capacity to innovate

·         Community and environmental responsibility.

But love Leahy for his parting shot:  “reputation is internally managed and externally assessed.”  That’s the best shot in the arm for the owner of an integrated communications consultancy since Bill Gates’ “if I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on PR.”

Social CRM, the way forward? By Simon Partington

The phrase ‘listening to your customers needs’ sounds like such a 1980s business cliché, albeit one that still rings true for any business. Keeping up with what your customers needs are, however, can be a tricky thing to do, especially in the digital world where information, attitudes and demands are carried so quickly via the web.

Historically, tried and tested methods such as surveys, focus groups and product testing panels were a great way of gauging customer sentiment towards your product or service. Unfortunately, these methods are also quite time consuming. Now I’m hesitant to suggest Social Media as a cure for all ills, but listening to what your customers might be saying about your brand on the social web is cheaper, far less time consuming and above all, deadly accurate.

It’s a generally accepted rule, for example, that twitter users should praise in public and rant in private. Look across the twittersphere and you’ll find many instances that break this rule, but in a lot of cases, it holds true. Ergo, if one of your customers is ranting about a bad encounter with your brand on twitter, they must be rather riled in the first place. Consider the information you now possess: you know the name of the customer, with contact details, the nature of their problem, perhaps when and where it occurred, and the perfect medium in which to engage with them, in many cases in near real time. Which other medium would give you this opportunity? To directly interact with your customers and turn brand aggressors into brand advocates on the head of a coin?

With traditional market research techniques, by the time you have found the dissatisfied customer, they’ve already made up their mind about your operation and told, on average, four others about their experience. Although a tweet goes much further than four people, so does your response: there’s nothing I like more than to see the walls broken down between a company and a consumer, and a problem resolved for all too see.
If you haven’t yet ventured on to the social web, what are you waiting for? Take a look at my previous post on social monitoring tools and start listening, you could revolutionise your CRM strategy…

Is PR dead? by Aimee Postle

So, is PR in its traditional perceived form dead? Not a loaded question in the slightest! Three things have got me thinking about this – completing the CIPR Diploma, climbing Snowdon, and starting on the CIM Diploma.

The more reading I did around PR while studying for the Diploma (and the Certificate before it), the more I realised that PR in its strictest perceived form just does not – or should not – exist anymore. PR professionals (and I use that word deliberately) do not just wine and dine journalists or massage egos. Our role is – and should be – so much wider.

The PR profession (again, a deliberate choice of words) has a PR problem. While we may have developed professionally to offer clients so much more than the PR practitioners of the early 1900s with their publicity campaigns – we are not telling people about it. And, when we do, they don’t understand our jargon.

Our trip up Snowdon got us all thinking about what it is we actually do – what benefit do we offer our clients? Our vision, mission and values have been clearly defined for some time (has everyone seen our brand onion?) but how we crystallise that into a service offering that clients actually understand has been a longer process.

We subscribe to the CIPR’s definition of PR – it is about reputation; the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. We feel this covers the holistic nature of the PR profession – defining your cause and then integrating your communications so that your messages and values are consistent across all media and to all audiences.

This is where the CIM Diploma comes into it. The reading I’ve done over the last two months has highlighted just how much we do that extends outside of the traditional realm of PR.

While we do not profess to be HR people or business management consultants, we do know how to use communications to achieve buy-in from all parties – internal and external – and how to use that for competitive advantage (the holy grail as defined by the CIM).

So, open to debate, “we are business communications problem solvers” – succinct and to the point? Or vague and yet more jargon? Does it actually accurately convey what we do? Or is it just another way of hiding behind words while we try to articulate clearly the value that we add?

Video killed the newspaper star? by Rebecca Sloan

Over recent years a growing number of news organisations have been forced to compete online for an increasing percentage of their audience. Many outlets have found that a traditional service is no longer competitive enough to survive in the current market. It comes as many companies like the National Readership Survey and PRmoment have been reporting on the decline in newspaper readership over recent years. Hundreds, if not thousands, of media outlets are being forced to reconsider the way they produce their news.

To combat this, many have started converging into multi-disciplinary units –traditional newspapers, for example, now also host online TV programmes and podcasts. An article by Broadcasting & Cable from 2006 documents the rise of this format in the US – it also correctly wagered that this format will be of real importance from 2009 onwards.

What it means is that there are growing opportunities to get your message out there. Not only that, but to shout in all sorts of formats! Video, for example, has grown in popularity over recent years. A study by Furlong PR found that online video will be the top marketing priority of 2010.

It’s a powerful tool, especially because some PR agencies – like Kinetic – will be able to create their own news coverage for online audiences. It signals, among other things, a whole new world of media possibilities.

The times are changing. We’re proud to say that we’re helping to lead the revolution – are you?

Education and the future of the PR industry: take two by Aimee Postle

Aimee Postle a for webNot sure how many of you will remember back to July this year and my submission date for the CIPR Diploma. Well, results have now come through and, to my relief, I have passed. All the stress was worth it!

I mentioned back then that anyone who wanted a copy of the project – ‘Public Relations Education: A study of the role played by PR-specific education in the recruitment process’ – was welcome to email me for it and the offer still stands (aimee.postle@kineticpr.co.uk).

However, from my perspective, I don’t feel this is a finished project. When I spoke with the qualifications team at the CIPR, there was a recognition that not enough is being done to support PR-specific qualifications or to meet the goal of making PR-specific qualifications desirable in the recruitment process.

Without opening myself up to criticism – I fully support comments from practitioners who suggest that we’ll be a poorer profession if we don’t embrace the experience and knowledge from all walks of life– I do strongly believe that PR-specific education (undertaken while on-the-job rather than necessarily an undergraduate degree) is vital if PR is to become the profession it so desperately wants to be.

I’m finding it quite interesting at the moment. I’ve just started the CIM Professional Diploma and am ¾ of the way through the first module.

When you look at marketing recruitment ads or go for job interviews – something that a number of people on the course are doing – you’ll see that many employers require you to have marketing-specific education and a number specify the CIM courses.

The CIM also claims that 95% of UK employers see CIM qualifications as the qualifications to attain.
Perhaps this is a sign of the maturity of the marketing profession and comparable youth of PR. The CIPR qualifications have only been running for a decade – not long enough to have become established as a must-have. Meanwhile, the CIM qualifications have been established for many years and are recognised by exam bodies and professionals alike.

I think, most importantly, the CIM conducts regular research to show how much more a professionally-qualified marketer will earn in their lifetime.

A 2008 project carried out by the Consultative Committee for Professional Management Organisations (CCPMO) suggested that individuals with professional qualifications and membership could stand to earn an additional £152,000 over the course of their career. Something worth thinking about!

And, back to my project; I suggested that an annual study be conducted among those who’ve passed through PR-specific education to assess the impact on their salaries and job roles – much as The Economist tracks graduates of MBAs every year for at least ten years after they graduate. The CIPR commented that they just didn’t have the resources to do something like this. I’m willing – so, who will sponsor me?!

It is only when the financial and career benefits of PR-specific study are proven that the scepticism of the industry will begin to fall.