Reflecting on almost four years of Kinetic balls – by Aimee Postle

Aimee Postle

Aimee Postle

We spend our lives in PR drilling home the importance of values-based messaging and having the culture and substance to back up your promises. A good thing then that Kinetic has spent the last four years exceeding the promises it made to me!

Back in 2007, as a nervous final year student, I embarked upon my career in PR with a placement at Kinetic. Not only had I never ventured out to the Jewellery Quarter before, I also had very little idea of what PR actually was. Six weeks later and I was hooked – in no small part as a result of Angela and Claire’s passion for delivering results for clients.

Four years on and the journey has been fantastic. A whistlestop tour taking in media relations, culture change projects, online strategies and much more. I’ve been involved in award-winning campaigns for regeneration projects and watched with pride as the team took home the prize for an internal communications campaign which really delivered business results.

After investing in a sat-nav, I’ve been privileged enough to travel all over Warwickshire, Staffordshire, East Anglia and Cornwall as well as getting heavily involved in the Birmingham professional services community.

Even though I gave up maths and science after GCSE, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to grips with reed bed technology and parliamentary announcements. Equally exciting have been campaigns with organic skincare and fashion retailers.

Substance and culture – the two key ingredients for delivering on your promises. With strong values and a team committed to guaranteeing results, Kinetic certainly has those in abundance.

As I wave farewell to the Kinetic team, I wish them all the best of luck in taking that substance and culture forward.

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!

Q: What do Sir Ranulph Fiennes and a bucket of Flash™ have in common? – by Angela Podmore

A:  They’re both compelling and authentic brands.

Angela Podmore, Kinetic Communications

Angela Podmore, Kinetic Communications

Nothing is more uplifting than spending an hour in the company of a person who’s living with all their mind, body, heart and soul all beautifully aligned in courageous pursuit.

Speaking on leadership, challenge and perseverance in the face of adversity, explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes captivated a packed hall 5 (28 October 2010) at Birmingham’s ICC.

Truly the man of our time, he spoke – in a curiously laconic yet bullet-hitting and modest fashion – of his various feats of derring-do:  his package holidays with a 52-strong team from 9 different countries.  His training ground and recruitment consultant of choice – the SAS (where they called him a donkey walloper harking back to his cavalry past).

He’s circumnavigated the globe through the poles without outside support.  He offered us all a simulated arctic experience – put three of your 6ft friends in a bath tub and drag them over dunes for 2,000 miles!

He feels the same fears we’d all feel before setting off on such a feat.  Difference is, he feels the fear and does it anyway (great book by Susan Jeffers).  The author of 18 books, he was signed Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know (what his father-in-law said to ward his daughter from marrying him!).

Compelling leadership

There’s no payroll for the Ranulph’s express.  So his team selection process focuses on motivation.  Motivation is his answer to everything – if it’s ever so slightly dodgy, you’re out.  “You can sack someone  in Antarctica but you can’t get rid of them.  So selection is key.”

I asked him to what he attributes his self-belief.

His answer was surprising, “when I’m near giving up, I hope and pray one of the team will give up first but they never do.  I live in the now and you have to know your own resources.  But I’d say my self-belief stems from what my father and grandfather did.  I think of them watching me and I don’t want to let them down.”

And that links nicely to how another compelling brand – my bucket of flash which also didn’t let me down while scrubbing our 10 year old kitchen floor.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s been mopped every week but we’re talking deep clean here.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes impresses because he’s the real deal in stratospheric motivation, ambition and attainment.  But great brands share that so take heart with Flash.  Used  neat, Flash has made our ceramic tiled floor, shine like a new pin.  A compelling performance from another great brand you can trust to do the job.

Note of thanks to all the organisations who made this inspiring Sir Ranulph Fiennes lecture happen:  Birmingham City Business School in partnership with Institute of Business Consulting and Chartered Management Institute and CiPD.

The Martini Era – by Angela Podmore

Angela Podmore, MD, Kinetic Communications - Birmingham PR Consultancy

Angela Podmore

THE MARTINI ERA

Anyone remember the Martini ads?  At their zenith in the 1970s but repeated in the 1990s (I think), they featured the beautiful people having wonderful times in the world’s most glamorous places and promised pleasure anytime, anyplace, anywhere.

What’s it got to do with today?

Whatever brand you need people to believe in – personal or corporate – it’s open to attack anytime, anyplace, anywhere.  I’ve coined it the ‘Martini era’.  Let’s hope they won’t chase me for copyright infringement – they should consider it a favour.

So how do you control brand reputation in these times?

FOCUS

The answer?  Make sure everyone knows what you stand for.  What’s your common purpose as an organisation?  What makes you stand out?  How do you define ‘your way’ of doing things?  Your culture?

The answers to these questions are the essential essence.  They’re what makes your brand tick.  Bottle that essence and it pulls everything into sharp focus.  We all know how powerful that is.  Ever started a fire with the sun’s rays and a simple magnifying glass?

WHO GETS IT

Size doesn’t matter.  Business start-up and multinational alike understand the need for focus.  But it’s equally interesting who doesn’t get it.

ENTREPRENEURS

Positive Pressure gets it.  They’ve been in business for a few years but knew they didn’t have their ‘elevator sell’ sorted – ie that ten second sell that would make them stand out if they were sharing a lift with a stranger.

They knew what they did – they can measure the difference they make in team performance by building individual wellbeing ( massage, reflexology etc).

Our two hour session energised them because “the vision is so exciting and it’s great to have something that feels so right”.  Hopefully, that clarity will help them with every business decision from now on.

GLOBAL LEADERS

For big business, let’s look at Goodrich:  Fortune 500, global aerospace and defence company.  ‘If there’s an aircraft in the sky, we’re on it’.  They know their essence.  They also know the key is to integrate internal and external communications.

Goodrich ECEPS division – 1,000 people spread over five continents – understands how internal communications is key to keep the essence alive.

For all its investment in a successful Farnborough Show, trade advertising and sponsorships, a disgruntled employee could shake the faith in its reputation with what would appear to them an anodyne, online comment.

So when Niki Court, ECEPS marketing co-ordinator, asked us to come into an internal communications session and challenge them, I knew exactly where she was coming from.  She wanted an ‘agent provocateur’.

(I had the good fortune to work at Saatchis in the 1980s where we were taught to seek opposite opinion.  Criticism is more powerful than harmony in testing creative ideas.)

Niki was leading a continuous improvement workshop and wanted an outsider’s perspective.  We served up an A0 sheet filled with pictures of exemplars to inspire the team to raise their game when communicating internally.

All were highly skilled and experienced communicators around the table.

“Kinetic helped spark interesting conversations,” said Niki.  “The session was very interactive from the start and the conversations carried on long after they’d left.  They inspired us in quite a few ways by using new/different methods of communication.

“Their thoughts on exemplars – what others companies are doing – were also reassuring because they told us that we’re doing a lot right already in terms of internal communications and promoting a values-driven culture.  They helped us put all of what we’re already doing in a clearer context and really raised the energy of the group.”

Organisations like Goodrich have all the channels ‘plumbed in’ – website, intranet, media relations, newsletters etc.  It’s the consistency of their messages that glues them all together.

Today’s top brands are congruent.  That means they look, sound and feel the same anytime, anyplace and anywhere you interact with them.

We are a world away from ‘give me six press cuttings in the local papers.’

We left the era of fluff over substance some time ago.  The Martini era is about transparency, trust and integrity.  Now content is king and conversation is the kingdom.

Confessions of an Intern by Stefan Colligan

Stefan Colligan, Kinetic Communications intern

Stefan Colligan, Kinetic Communications intern

I am entering into my final week as an intern at Kinetic Communications Ltd and must say it has proven to be the perfect introduction to the world of Public Relations.

The Kinetic team prides itself on a trusted formula:

Energy + Commitment = Guaranteed Results.

The team works tirelessly for itself, each other, and most significantly, its clients.  The commitment to upholding the principled mantra was foudroyant from day one; thrust into the team’s Jewellery Quarter office I was given a sense of direction and immersed into an atmosphere where I felt trusted, valued and acknowledged.

Whether it was business research, writing press releases and business blogs, liaising with clients, phoning the media, meeting journalists or taking part in creative idea sessions, the Kinetic team involved me in every aspect of its work and provided a substantial and much appreciated learning experience about the world of business communications.

At the embryonic stage of a career in PR there are a few caveats and lessons that must be carefully considered to make sure you achieve the most out of your work experience:

Be yourself: you are who you are – false pretences will get found out and you’ll regret acting artificially. Over time, your employer will have to trust and rely on the integrity of your character – so it’s imperative, for the benefit of both you and those you work with, to sustain an honest disposition

Be inquisitive: with a zetetic nature you will find that it’s not just the weighty and important bits of information that you digest, but the subtle, pin drops of knowledge that others may be too afraid to find out.  By asking questions I found that those around me were willing to impart their wisdom which, not only helped suppress those unnerving feelings we all get in unfamiliar surroundings, but increased my understanding of the role I needed to play.

Always be accountable for your actions: being committed to the task in hand and concentrating whole heartedly on the job will reap its rewards. Don’t hide and eschew work opportunities – what’s the point of cowering in the corner and hiding from responsibility when you only have a small amount of time to gain much needed, invaluable experience.

And of course, perhaps most importantly of all, wherever your work experience takes you, make sure you know your Earl Grey from your Nescafe Pure Blend.