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!

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Hello Digital 2010 – Alex Hunter steals the show by Simon Partington

a lightning bolt momentFor those who’ve ever wondered what a lightning bolt moment feels like, I can lay testament to having one at this year’s Hello Digital conference.

It came in the middle of a seminar from Alex Hunter, head of digital at Virgin Global.  He spoke passionately on a subject that rarely gets addressed in such a literal way – social media (check out Alex’s blog here). For those that couldn’t make his session, I’ve put a few of his top line thoughts below.  Brands lacking in self awareness and using social media, read on …

 

  • “The social web isn’t about connecting brands with people, it’s about connecting people with people.”
  • “Why is Steve Jobs so intrinsically linked to Apple in our minds? Because he cares enough about the brand to stick his personal reputation on it.”
  • “Screw consistency (in social media).  If we’re all moving in the same direction, the consistency will come out.”
  • “The brands that are winning (on social media), are the ones keeping it real by being true to what they believe in online.”

These thoughts are interesting, particularly number two.  In the PR industry, we strive to find brand advocates within a business that truly care – not just on the social media front, but across communications in general.  Finding enlightened individuals to speak up on behalf of a business adds more weight to their offering – in short, it’s better to have substance before showmanship.

Cases rarely come as perfect as the likes of Apple or Digg (the online social bookmarking service). In the real world, harnessing the power of a corporate brand through an individual takes guts. It’s something that, if communicated correctly, can give true meaning to a corporate entity.  We’ve all heard the adage that ‘people buy from people’, but in the case of social media, it really rings true.

The second point that opened my eyes was the one about consistency, or the need for a less rigid approach to it.  In PR, we talk a lot about consistency.  An awful lot.  In reality, if we’re having to plumb consistency into a brand before it ventures out into the social world, then in many cases, it will come across as lacking in credibility.  Bad for you. Bad for the client.  Just generally bad.

For communications online to come across as credible, it needs a balanced approach – a loose set of guidelines is fine, but for people to have proper conversations, they need to have a personality.  Just remember Groove Armada’s track from the 90s – ‘if everybody looked the same, we’d get tired of looking at each other’.

It all comes back to the ‘Steve Jobs model’ – throw your weight behind a brand and people might just love you for it.  Fake it, and risk being found out!

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.

Can you trust a PR person as far as you can throw them? by Aimee Postle

According to a recent survey by PRmoment, PR is seen as the least untrustworthy profession by the general public.

Take a while to think about that sentence.

Then take a look at the other professions being measured – bankers, journalists, politicians and estate agents.

With the way that these professions have been pilloried in the last year, you’d hope that PR came out on top!

But, what does this suggest about the PR profession and should the term ‘PR’ die a death while still in its relative youth?

For many people their understanding of PR comes from a celebrity or political context – sensationalist publicity designed to manipulate the truth.

Many would argue that the PR industry does not do a very good job of looking after its own reputation and should do more to distance itself from publicists and spin doctors.

But, what actually is PR?

Met with a recruitment consultant earlier this week who attended a ‘find out about PR’ training workshop. Her perception – based on what the trainer revealed – was that it was all about getting your photo taken next to Lewis Hamilton!

In 1976, academic Rex Harlow analysed 472 separate definitions of PR (in an update for the 1990s, he looked at more than 500) – all with different emphasis. Is there even a right answer?

The question ‘what is PR’ is one that Kinetic is debating at the moment.

Our business model has changed substantially in the last three years as a result of changes in client expectations, the ups and downs of the economy and the growth and development of the Kinetic team.

The big focus is now on ensuring that communications are integrated across all channels – internal and external – and that the messages are consistent with the vision, mission and values of the organisation.

Our question then, is this still PR – often taken to mean press relations? And, if so, how do we alter public perceptions of the profession? Or, has nothing changed – is this the same focus that the industry has had all along – just with a little more clarity?

If I can venture the first comment…

The CIPR definition of PR states that PR is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you.

This holistic approach to PR seems to fit just as well with the new model as with the old – taking into account everything that can affect your organisation’s reputation.

So, that would suggest that – while the tools and techniques may be constantly evolving – we are still in the business of PR.

What Tiger Woods should have known about crisis and issues PR… by Aimee Postle

If you’ve not yet caught up then take a look at the BBC and track back through all of the links – sponsorship deals falling away, mistresses coming out of the woodwork and a fairly bizarre crash outside his house in Florida two weeks ago.

PR and communications professionals from throughout the world have commented on what Tiger – and his PR team – did wrong. In essence, he tried to bury his head in the sand and allowed rumour and gossip to fill the resulting void.

So, lessons for UK businesses…

A crisis situation can come from anywhere – it pays to be aware of the potential risk factors.

In Tiger’s case – it was inevitable that his infidelities would be leaked to the media. High profile celebrities are rewarded handsomely when successful but the flipside is the public scrutiny they come under for any minor indiscretion.

For Mattel in 2007, there was always a risk that they would have to recall products due to factors outside their control – suppliers, materials, etc. But, they couldn’t have known that they would have to go through three recalls in four weeks – 18.2 million toys.

If you are open and honest then you are more likely to be in control.

When you refuse to answer questions or make comment then you leave a void that needs to be filled. A drip feed of rumour and gossip – repeated announcements about Tiger’s latest infidelity – just prolong the story.

What Mattel did right was to take control of the story. CEO Bob Eckert gave live interviews to every media outlet that wanted one. The company apologised for any harm or inconvenience they may have caused and allowed third parties – such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission – to announce that no injuries were known to have been caused by the defects.

Finally, plan for the unexpected.

With many businesses shutting down for the Christmas period and team members going on holiday it is all too easy to think that everything will be fine ticking over. But, what happens if something goes wrong? Do you have a crisis and issues management plan in place for the holiday period? Do you know how to get hold of the people who will need to make decisions and comment?

It constantly amazes us how few companies we work with actually have formal crisis and issues management procedures, how few of them know who to call on and how to get hold of them in an emergency.

When we work with new clients, we like to set the house in order. That means getting contact details for all relevant decision makers and team members (phone, mobile, email) and agreeing on a formal sign-off procedure – for example, who needs to see a statement before it is issued?

And, those are just the basics.

Crisis and issues management planning will be different for every organisation – depending on risk factors, size of the organisation, management style, and so on. However, what all well thought through crisis plans will have in common are regular testing, a simple structure, and someone in control of making it happen.
So, who will be holding the fort for you this Christmas?

Mark-ups – sneaky? You bet by Claire Barker

 

Claire's portraitThere’s been an interesting development in the PR industry. The CIPR Professional Practices Committee has issued new advice on mark-ups. In other words, adding a surcharge to sub-contractors’ invoices, eg for printing, before passing on costs to the client. That industry-standard mark-up has been 17.65% for as long as I can remember.    

Up until now, it’s been perfectly acceptable for consultancies to tell a client that mark-ups would be applied but without revealing exactly how much of the final invoice they represented. 
 
Sneaky? You bet. We’ve always taken the view that mark-ups are more trouble than they’re worth. 
 
The first loser is the subcontractor. Sure, he’s been given the job and has been paid the market-rate, but it’s unlikely the client will use him again because he was he was ever-so-slightly expensive (by about 17%, right?). 
 
The second loser is the client who has had to fork out goodness knows how much more than they needed to. 
 
The third loser is the consultancy. They might be a few quid better off but they’ll be losing out in other ways.   
 
For a start, it hardly builds trust. And we all know the strongest relationships are built on trust. 
 
And talk about nasty surprises. What client wants to see a whopping great fee they hadn’t expected?
 
And thirdly, it can’t half backfire. Any problems with invoices end up being sorted by the consultancy – precious time that could be used more productively elsewhere. 
 
We’ve never covertly marked up services. We know how we’d feel if we were on the receiving end. We’ve always been totally upfront and given clients the option to pay for subcontractors directly or to put it ‘through our books’ for an agreed fee.     
 
So it’s great that the CIPR is saying that greater transparency is now required and that clients should be given the option to pay the subcontractor direct or to negotiate independently with other subcontractors. 
 
The CIPR also says that mark-ups should now form part of a client-consultancy contract and that the calculation should be specified. 
 
Hallelujah for that. Our profession suffers enough from accusations that it’s a black art. This is a welcome step in the right direction.