Learning as you go… The new way forward

I know I’m not alone when I say, this new way forward, for a large majority of us, will see us “winging it” to start with.

The Coronavirus has thrown so many industries into disarray and knowing how to move forward while we wait on details from the Government about funding doesn’t make the process any easier or any of us an expert in what to do!

However, what we do know that with a few simple steps, the process can be a lot easier.

Firstly, take everything one day at a time. The expectations that we are to achieve just as much, if not more than “B-C” (Before Covid-19) isn’t a fair reality.

If you’re fortunate to still have employment, check in with your team, your boss at least once a day, even if it’s via email or text. If you’re feeling anxious, let them know. These are uncertain times we’re facing and if you need support there’s Beyond Blue and Head to Health. 

If you’re running your own business and trying to keep everything afloat, now might be the time to start with lists, we love TRELLO for a good list creation, you can invite others to see what’s due when and create different boards for different components of your business. Remember now is the time to work smarter, not harder!

If you’ve had to close your business, but still want to keep your company front of mind with your customers we have created a series of lists, for download for you to use to hit the ground running, we’ve currently got lists for:

  • General Retail
  • Gardeners
  • Hairdressers
  • Physiotherapists
  • Cleaners
  • Travel Agents
  • Musicians
  • Creatives /Freelancers
  • Podiatrists
  • Early-childhood educators
  • PLUS MORE!

To get your copy of a list that’s applicable to your industry, click here. 

Remember, no one is an expert of how to deal with business during Covid-19, we’re all just doing the best we can. That’s all ANYONE can ask.

If we can be of assistance, in any way, even if it’s just to chat, please contact us. 

How to work from home effectively – from someone who has done it for over 12 years!

 

When I decided to start my own PR agency 12 years ago, the space that was “my office” was a corner of the family dining room with a desk behind a screen for “privacy”.

It was, at the time, sufficient, but I knew it couldn’t be a long term solution. We moved shortly after and I then upgraded the space to a former bar area. (Translation: another corner of a dining room, but slightly larger).

The new space felt more like a “space” and I was determined to make it work and I did, with thanks to my parents. But there were distractions and it wasn’t until I purchased my own place and had a dedicated room to finally close the door on, at the end of the day.

Working from home in whatever space you have can have its challenges beyond the “space” you’ve allocated.

Here I’m sharing my tips, so if you’re required to self-quarantine, you’ll be able to use my experience and lessons for your benefit.

  1. The above anecdote should prove that space is very important. If you have room to dedicate to work, then do this! Even if it is a corner of the dining room with a screen (IKEA has this screen that may do the trick!)
  2. Set up your space appropriately so you’re not slouching over your laptop, make sure the lighting is good and you’re not getting too comfortable, if your only option is working from the lounge. More tips here
  3. Use the time you’d normally commute to read, catch-up on news, exercise (if you’re well enough!) catch up on personal emails. Be productive with this time.
  4. Start at your regular time, just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you should slack off. Show your employer how productive working from home can be!
  5. Dress comfortably but appropriately. I can’t stress this enough on my “at home” days, I still dress my top or bottom half, so if on the odd chance I’m called to a meeting, all I have to do is change into a nice blouse or get out my jeans into a corporate pair of trousers.
  6. If you’re allocated a lunch break (which you should be!) make sure you take it. Do some yoga if that’s your thing, a crossword, again use your time well. Also, don’t become too sedentary, it’s easy to sit and type and get caught in an email vortex and not move for hours on end. Set your alarm to remind you to move (most smart watches do this!)

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7. If you have kids or pets at home you may need to call on some help from family or the dog walker to keep them away for a couple of hours while you get your work done, or if you have to, screen time for the kids can be a good bargaining tool.

8. Check with your employer about any expenses you may incur as a result of working from home (think Internet usage, notebooks, printing etc).

9. Keep in contact with your office colleagues – you may want to have “virtual Friday night drinks” via Skype or FaceTime remember it doesn’t have to be all work and no play.

10. Finally, enjoy working from home, the ability to dive into the cookie jar without judgement, sure the “at home” coffee may not be as good as your local barista, but think of the money you’re saving!

How to prepare for a crisis – UPDATED for Corona Virus

Australia has seen it all this Summer and there’s more on the way! We’ve had everything from Destructive fires, devastating floods, Australia really is the country of extremes and being prepared in a crisis is critical for any business of any size.

In this post, we share our tips so you can take steps NOW so you’re well armed should you face a crisis.

Communication is key even before you start any of our suggestions. Communicate with the office what will be undertaken and that updates will be provided as is necessary.

PLANNING is critical.

You may have to put aside a day to brainstorm and work out who in the office will be responsible for what tasks.

If you’re a solopreneur make a timeline of what steps will be done when. (If you’re in a team this should be included as part of your plan too!)

Think about who will need to be contacted IMMEDIATELY should a crisis or issue occur, then think about the way this will be communicated. You’ll also want to include in your timeline preparation for power-outages (back-up power supply) or damage to equipment and where back-up equipment can be sourced quickly. Think about stock levels what will need to be done with any stock that’s damaged. Think of all eventualities and make sure someone is responsible for an action from start to finish.

You’ll also want to have draft communications to customers, suppliers and staff drafted for a variety of scenarios. Include in this communication copies of out-of-office messages for employees to use, so messaging is consistent across the company. Include in your out-of-office messages how long you expect to be out of action and best contact details for urgent queries.

Finally, but importantly, keep your social media pages updated. You’ll want to have draft posts created for your social accounts too. Again, let your followers know how long you expect to be unavailable and a generic contact address that should be administered by an executive who is able to respond quickly to customers /followers queries.

These are just *some* of the components of being prepared in a crisis or emergency situation.

EDIT: 

In light of the Corona Virus – here are some EXTRA tips;

*Be transparent at all times – let the public know WHEN the next update will be in terms of communications

*Save media releases online for ease of reference for media and general public

*Health of employees and public must be a priority, follow recommendations from local and Federal Governments

*Ensure best contact details for media contact /PR agency are visible on your website

If you’d like Pursuit Communications to assist your business with creating a crisis or emergency plan, contact us today to organise a meeting. 

Thank You – the most important tool in your PR toolkit

‘At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.’ – Maya Angelou

We’re told as children to remember our manners, “Please” and “Thank-You”, yet when as we get older the intent behind them seems to disappear.

Whenever I meet with a Journalist, Editor, supplier, or client (new, potential or exisiting) I always start by saying thank you for your time. Taking time out to meet with anyone should be acknowledged.

It’s the organisation that goes into being prepared for that meeting that should be acknowledged, along with the time out of their day.

I go a step beyond and send thank-you cards to potential clients, to let them know how much I appreciate them taking the time to hear my ideas and consider my PR services for their company.

It’s all about making that person feel valued and appreciated.

Other ways I say “Thank-you”:

  • Letting my media contacts know about stories that they may not be aware of – outside of my scope of works
  • Taking someone out for coffee /lunch
  • Recommending their business to others
  • Shout-outs on social media (including liking their posts or sharing their content)

So for now, I’d like to say thank-you to YOU. For reading this, you could have quite easily clicked somewhere else, decided to read another blog post or news site.

 

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PR lessons from Harry & Meghan

In the Pursuit office, over the water cooler talk for the last 24 hours has predominantly been focused on the news that Harry & Meghan “revealed they intend “to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family, and work to become financially independent”.

It’s HUGE news. What’s even bigger is that it really did come without warning. Sure, some Royal watchers may have expected the pair (and baby Archie) to split their time between Canada and the UK, but a step back? Wow.

Below we share our thoughts and highlight four important PR cornerstones relating to this announcement.

  1. The importance of communication – If nothing else this announcement highlights how very essential communication must be with all associated parties.
  2. Planning – Having a timeline that includes all associated parties is also critical
  3. Keeping your internal organisation as informed as the general public is paramount
  4. Be prepared for a barrage of questions following a major announcement

It’s our opinion that it appears internal communications didn’t occur with this announcement from Harry & Megan. The statement from Buckingham Palace  said: “We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through.” This insinuates that Buckingham Palace were not informed prior to announcement. A huge no-no in anyone’s book.

Being caught off guard (pardon the pun!) is never a good look for any organisation (including the Royal Family).

Taking the time to communicate with all associated parties will ensure when making an announcement that there’s a united front and everyone is aware of who will be saying what and when! It will keep any “fallout” to a minimum as well.

Which leads into the planning of any announcement. Making sure you have a timeline that allows everyone involved enough time to get their messaging correct, approved by those who need to approve it and making sure those managing social media are aware of the announcement, when it will happen so they can tackle any questions from the general public.

As with Harry & Megan, they seem to be running to their own schedule and letting Buckingham Palace clean up the proverbial mess.

When making an announcement, knowing what to say externally is one thing. Knowing what to say to those internally is another.

Internal communications need to be handled differently to external communications, often with care and discretion. Some team members may need to have a “closed door” discussion and others may need to sign a non-disclosure agreement, stating they won’t reveal any details of the discussion until a certain day /date.

The language will differ between the general public and your internal communications as well. You may want to be a little more relaxed with your internal communications (pending the announcement).

Internal discussions can often raise more questions which may not have been considered by those making the announcement. It’s always best to discuss in advance with internal executives and get their input.

Finally, being prepared for questions (both internally and from the public) is so very important. This is where good media training and planning really does prove its worth.

Being able to answer a question succinctly is key. If you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to say so. DO say that you’ll get an answer to the person who queried and make a priority of doing so.

Your social media team should be armed with a series of potential Q&A’s. If they are asked a question and they’re not sure of the answer, the team should have DIRECT access to spokesperson /decision make to provide them with the answer in a succinct amount of time.

Only time will tell how this will play out for the Royal Family. Hopefully with a little preparation the next phase won’t be as catastrophic as the first.

The lessons from 2019

I’m writing this on a Sunday morning leading up to Christmas – thinking about everything this year has taught me. What a teacher of the year 2019 has been for me.

2019 was very much the year of priorities – and the major priority for me this year was my health.

I heard a podcast this year that used the saying “Your health is your wealth” and that really resonated with me.

In case you missed it (or you’re new to the blog) I had a few health issues this year that made me hit the “pause” button on both businesses for a substantial amount of time. (You can read more here)

The benefit of this?

I realised where my priorities needed to lie with both businesses. It was in taking a step back, I was actually taking a step forward. It wasn’t easy, as someone who is happiest when her laptop is open, keys tapping away, radio /music playing softly in the background and the cat is purring away on “her” chair, resting and listening to my body was a huge lesson for me.

But it’s enabled me to make some changes and plans for the next 12 months and I’m excited about that.

The next priority lesson I learned was in relation to my time. While I was resting and recovering knowing that I had to let this process take its time. It was on its own schedule and I had to adhere to it.

I’m now working on building a better “timetable” which allows me to focus equally on both businesses, while also giving myself the much-needed rest my body still needs.

Finally, the priority of people in your life. Notifying my clients immediately what was going on and being completely transparent really did help build stronger relationships with them.

My family supported me, cared for me and got me through what was a rollercoaster of a year and I can’t thank them enough.

My friends – you know who you are – your support, words of encouragement and visits were appreciated beyond belief.

So, here’s to a better year in 2020, using these lessons from 2019 and creating more success for my clients, my business, and most importantly a happy and healthy life.

Branding 101

As part of our PR Intermediate course, we dive into the elements that should comprise of a comprehensive business plan.

We know only too well that budgets can be tight, so how do you start?

In this blog post I share some of the key elements of what should be part of your product inventory (and therefore included in your business plan!)

You start with a style guide and keeping it consistent EVERYWHERE. (Sorry for the caps, but it was needed!) What’s a style guide? Well in simple terms, it’s the fonts you’ll use for your business, the size of your logo… all that sort of “stuff”.

If you’re a physical store, does the feel of your store reflect what you’re sharing on socials?

What about your menus-  if you’re a cafe? Do you have details of your socials on there? You want people to share the word right? A little reminder at the bottom is a must.

How about receipts? Invoices? Flyers? Do they all have best contact details for your business, return policy details (if needed), your logo?

If you’re a service-based business, does the tone of your email reflect the nature of your business? Do you have the luxury to communicate in a relaxed tone? Make sure it’s consistent with your business.

Then there are the logos of your business, the business “theme” colours, the way your logos are to be used and oh-so-much more.

Need help with this? Give us a call, we’re happy to have a coffee (face to face or virtually!) and share some more ideas that will specifically help your business reach its goals.

Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

Instagram Fact V Fiction

One of our offerings at Pursuit is social media management.

We pride ourselves on creating great content, that will engage and drive results for your business.

We also make sure we’re all over what’s fact and fiction when it comes to social media.

Below you’ll find some clarification about some of the myths that have been circulating about Instagram.

  1. Shadowbanning is a real thing…

Nope. FALSE. Instagram has stated, “it doesn’t hide people’s content for posting too many hashtags or taking other actions”. **

 

2. Instagram will “punish” your account if you don’t post at least once a day

What? I’m sorry, how does this even make sense? In Australia alone Instagram has 9,000,000 Monthly Active Australian Users (FB/ Instagram data)*. Trying to monitor all that data alone is a mammoth task.

Instagram is (and always has been) about quality over quantity.  

So think about your style and what your customers will want to engage with, remember you’re posting for THEM, not for yourself.

Suffice to say this one is also FALSE.

 

3. The old “Only 5%, 7%, 10% of my audience will see this post, please comment to ensure more people see this post” post!

Instagram reached out to users via Twitter to clear this one up. They said; “What shows up first in your feed is determined by what posts and accounts you engage with the most, as well as other contributing factors such as the timeliness of posts, how often you use Instagram, how many people you follow, etc.”**

So drops in engagement are due to content not anything behind the scenes.

 

There are dozens if not hundreds more that we could clarify – and new myths popping up every day.

If you’d like some advice regarding social media, give us a call. We’d love to have a chat and share some ideas on how we think this medium could work wonders for your business.

 

Photo by Katka Pavlickova on Unsplash
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Three things you can do before Christmas

It’s little over a month until Christmas Day… You may be thinking, “What else can I do to capitalise on the Christmas rush?”, or you may be thinking – “Eeep, I’ve left it too late, what can I do?”

Never fear… we have three easy to achieve activities for you to get some cut-though before the big day!

ONE: Thank your customers for their patronage this year. If you’re an online store, send a discount code to your email database as a token of gratitude.

Keep your message festive, short, sharp and ensure you include any terms and conditions with your discount code. Now is NOT the time you want to get caught up in any legal matters.

TWO: If you have a bricks and mortar store, have candy canes at reception or at the service counter for your customers. You may also want to reward your customers who visit in December with complimentary services or bonus items.

THREE: Keep in mind people’s budgets. If you’re noticing a lack in sales, don’t panic. Remember there’s always the January sales period, start thinking about what discounts you can offer (now’s a good time to get a head start on stocktake).

If sales are exceeding expectations, why not tell your local press? Get the word out there about what you’ve achieved.

BONUS: Why not offer a percentage of profits to farmers in need or a local charity? You’ll be able to promote your donation once you’ve finalised the total. Think about a cause that’s close to your heart and get started now.