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!

BP and Chile: building belief in a brand – by Aimee Postle

Aimee Postle

Aimee Postle

So, back in April, an oil rig blew up off the coast of Louisiana.  More than six months later and BP is still feeling the full force of the damage to its reputation, its share price and its ability to move forward with new projects.

In August, 33 miners were trapped deep underground in Chile and were not rescued until two months later.  A month after the rescue and Chile is still basking in the reflected glory of success and world attention.

Two crises, two very different outcomes.  What lessons are there to learn for business?

  • Get out of your BED (blame, excuses, denial) and pick up your OAR (ownership, accountability, responsibility) – where BP tried to blame everyone but themselves, the Chilean government took responsibility for staging a mammoth rescue attempt with the eyes of the world watching.
  • Personality matters – while Tony Haywood at BP was vilified for taking a sailing trip in the middle of the disaster, Chilean billionaire President Sebastian Pinera was available for comment and acted as a charismatic spokesperson for the country as a whole.  US President Obama’s approval rating sank after a slow reaction to the BP disaster while Pinera’s grew.
  • It all comes back to basic identity – while BP workers the world over conveniently forgot who they worked for when it came to socialising with friends, the Chilean people rediscovered their heritage and national identity.  While BP tried to disassociate itself from the crisis, Chile used their situation as a textbook example of turning a crisis into a reputation triumph.  The rescue of these 33 miners has sparked nationalist parties throughout the country with people celebrating and reconnecting to their national identity.

So, next time you get a call in the middle of the night to react to a business crisis… stop and think.  Instead of thinking about how to pass the buck, consider instead how you can own the crisis and influence your reputation positively.

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.

When the teacher learns from the students – by Aimee Postle

Aimee Postle, Kinetic Communications

Aimee Postle

One of the most important things to do as an employer is to support the dreams and aspirations of those looking to break into your career.  That’s why Kinetic Communications offers a number of work experience placements throughout the year (you can read about some of our interns in past blog posts) as well as guest lecturing with universities in the region.

Simon has recently worked with groups at Wolverhampton University on how to get into PR and digital media in the real world.  He’s also been invited to contribute to conferences on Social Media 2.0 at Birmingham City University.  Likewise, Angela has worked with both universities and I’ve spoken with groups at Birmingham City University on a number of occasions.  We’ve also supported the Old Swinford Hospital School Enterprise Day for the last three years and have sponsored a PR prize at Wolverhampton University.  Finally, Simon has just been filmed for Striding Out on getting into a career in PR!

So, where is all this leading…?

It is all very well giving time for free and feeling smug about yourself for ticking the corporate social responsibility box.  But, have you really been listening, engaging and getting the most from the experience?  It is not just the student who is there to learn.

A lot of organisations treat their CSR policy as something to get out of the way, fill the annual report with pretty pictures and make themselves feel good.  But, a policy which has been thought out for the benefit of the team getting involved as well as the recipient is one which will reap greater rewards in the long-term.

That’s what Birmingham Future is trying to achieve in partnership with bvsc and Thrive – ‘become richer work for nothing‘.  The idea behind this campaign is that individuals and organisations can benefit from their CSR activities by developing personal and professional skills as business advisors, mentors, directors or trustees.  Not just about the end recipient but the learning which is done along the journey.

When we work with PR students, universities, work experience candidates – we are not looking for a finished article.  We are not looking for a photo in the local paper.  And, we are not looking for a feeling of smug satisfaction and then moving on.

We want to hear the voices of the people who will be the future generation of PR professionals, we want to listen, engage and learn from them.  And, we want to help their journey into PR become that little bit smoother by providing them with the extent of our experience and knowledge.

Yesterday’s trip to Birmingham City University was a prime example – a two hour session with just under 40 PR, marketing and business students.  I whisked them through a client case study, digital media in the real world and how to get a job in PR.  But, really, it was about listening to their concerns, answering their questions and learning from their approach.  And hopefully I didn’t bore them too much!

The Canadian recruit by Rebecca Sloan

Compressed Crop PicTwo years ago, as a trainee broadcast journalist, I never would have pictured myself working at a communications agency. I’d been pre-programmed to assume any communications work, other than investigative journalism, was from the ‘dark-side’ of the industry. So when a friend told me about a ‘great’ company in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, I approached with caution.

What initially drew me to the company was their sustainability policy: economic – social – environmental. It seems to me that any organisation committed to upholding ethical standards that reflect the ‘bigger picture’ has a good set of values in place. A great business, in my opinion, is about so much more than simply making a quick buck. It’s about investing in people, in all senses of the word.
 
During my first week Kinetic has shown me time and again the lengths to which they’ll go to invest in people. They build strong, honest relationships with clients and jump at the chance to go the extra mile. They’re eager to train their staff, nurturing talent and supporting progression. To them it’s obvious; if you build strong relationships and invest in your beliefs, good things happen.
 
To me, sustainability is about harmony, balance and endurance. It’s only possible through integration; going through the motions works only so long before the glue wears off and the façade falls away. Kinetic’s value system embraces this approach. It may not always be the easy route, but it’s certainly the better, more sustainable practice.
 
I’ve enjoyed my first week here immensely. I’ve learned a lot about how a sustainable communications agency operates, and any lingering reservations about the industry are quickly dissipating. The team are encouraging me to use my broadcasting skills and it feels great being able to bring something new to the table. I’m looking forward to the challenges next week will bring.