When Is It The Right Time To Hire a PR Firm?

So the brown stuff has officially hit the proverbial fan. The head office is in shambles, people are running through the office corridors, you’re pretty sure that weird smell is something on fire and, on top of everything, the snack cupboard is empty (*gasp*). Everyone is asking themselves how they can save the business when the management team comes up with a brilliant idea: 

“Let’s PR this! Call in the agencies for a pitch.”

Though turning to an agency may seem like a smart move during a crisis, the reality is that turning to PR professionals in the midst of a brown-stuff storm will likely be an extremely expensive solution, all things considered. Unfortunately, a company in the situation described above will likely turn into a case of “too little, too late”. 

But more than that, the question is this: is a crisis really the best time to start looking for a public relations firm for support?

So! When is the right time to hire a PR firm, you ask?

When you don’t need a PR agency

Business is good, revenue and profitability are up, the team is growing. With everything going so smoothly, what would you need a public relations agency for? This is, in fact, the most opportune time to start exploring public relations strategies to bolster the business, set up relationships with media, grow awareness and reputation in the market against competitors, as well as establish lead generation strategies with marketing. Why? When business is good, resources are available in terms of budget and time to build the foundational pillars that can help protect a business during times of reputational or operational crisis. 

When you have a clear business strategy

It is crucial that leadership within the business know precisely where the business needs to go to continue its momentum. With a clear strategy, each function has the ability to work towards a common goal, and, more importantly, work in unison with each other, as well as with an agency.

Even if the company is in a volatile period or undergoing dramatic changes, clear direction and communication from the leadership will help a communications team and the agency understand how best to provide support during tumultuous times. What’s more, engaging an agency during times of clarity will prevent them from being stuck working on last-minute, low-impact tactical projects, or, even worse, on initiatives that have been cancelled or are no longer in line with business priorities.

When the ENTIRE management team is on-board

The CEO may be walking in the right direction, but if the full leadership team isn’t walking in-step, some stumbles are inevitably going to occur. This doesn’t just mean sharing a vision and strategy for the business – it means open and clear lines of communication between department heads and the separate divisions, whether that be finance, marketing, operations or sales. When everyone is walking the same path, an incoming agency will be in a position to immediately hit the ground running with proper on-boarding sessions and the development of the right type of strategy to support the business.

When everything is in place and you’re asking, ‘…what now?’

The revelation that everything is in place for a public relations agency to come in can be an exciting one – but what should you actually look for in an agency? How do you start those conversations? How can you tell if that agency is the right agency? 

Luckily, if you have a clear business strategy that the entire management team has agreed upon and your company is doing well, that means your clear business strategy and direction can be communicated easily to the agency. Indeed, the right agency will be able to demonstrate measurable ROI, whether that be through supporting a brand with reputation development, building up the employer branding or developing lead generation strategies.

And if you don’t have everything in place? Well, the right agency will be the first to tell you so. So when the brown stuff hits the fan, your business will not only have a public relations agency that truly understands and fits into the business, media relationships have been developed, awareness and reputation have grown, allowing you to weather that storm with ease.

If you’re reading this article and think it’s the right time to hire a PR firm, talk to us maybe: hello@mutant.com.my

Get It Right: Following Up With Journalists

It’s a cutthroat business pitching to journalists. If they like what you have to say, you might hear back from them immediately, but if all you receive is radio silence that lasts longer than a day or two… well, sorry. Your pitch probably didn’t make the cut, and you have some damage control to do.

Journalists are busy people – busier than ever these days as newsroom resources are squeezed – and simply don’t have the time to meticulously read every single email. So, what can you do to earn their attention?

Following up after sending a press release or pitch might feel a little awkward sometimes, but too bad! It’s a necessary step to ensuring you land your story, and if you approach your follow-up in the right way, you’ll pique the journalist’s interest:

Be original

The journalist in question might have ignored or deleted your email (don’t take it personally) so it’s important to follow-up with the all the relevant information at hand – including anything that might not have been present in your original pitch. Keep track of the reporter’s recent articles to find out what they are currently writing about, and come up with an original angle based off relevant and recent trends. This will make you stand out, and the journalist is more likely to appreciate the extra effort.

Be familiar with your client 

If you want your pitch to land, you have to understand your client’s business inside and out. The journalist will decide whether they’re worth covering or not, and you’ve got to make them look good by being able to answer all questions (within reason or limitations set by the client) in order to lock down that interview. While the details you share with the journalist will vary depending on the publication, having a solid idea of your client’s business model, revenue (if that’s public information), and top leadership will greatly help you.

Make it personal

One of the biggest reasons pitches get declined is the lack of personalisation and a lazy, sweeping approach that journos can spot a mile away. Journalists receive dozens of emails in a day from businesses who claim to be interesting – but how is your client really interesting to their readers and why should they care? Deliver stories that are new and relevant to their target audience. Understand what that particular journalist covers and is interested in, and consider a new angle that your client might slot nicely into.

Don’t call multiple times

While waiting for a response can be nerve-wracking, resist the urge to call multiple times, spam their inboxes, or hunt them down on social media. An initial follow-up soon after sending a pitch is fine to make sure they’ve received it, but then let some time pass (ideally 2-3 days) before chasing again. Don’t be clingy and desperate – no one likes that.

Find the right time

Journalists like to be pitched to in the morning (between 9am and 11am, or earlier) because that’s the best time for them to decide what they will be working on for the day, and present it to their editors during news meetings. Remember, you’re not the only one under pressure to create a story.

Need help crafting your next pitch? Drop us a line at hello@mutant.com.my!

Myth BUSting: Get My Ad Off That Bus!

You have an ad on a bus – congratulations, that’s great stuff.

How much did it cost? More than $30,000 for three months? And that’s one bus only? Right.

Your brand awareness must be spiking. Oh, you’re not sure?

You must be getting some leads, though?

While I am sure your CEO is happy to see the brand flash past, it can be hard to tell whether your bus ad has actually made an impact. Bus ad starter-packages of around $30,000 is a big sum for small and midsize companies to spend, so you really need to consider how effective bus ads they actually are for your intended outcome, and what you could potentially do with that money instead. 

What does an ad on a bus do for you?

Many marketing departments (not all, though) are afraid to invest their budgets in testing new ways of reaching their target audiences. They are more comfortable with tried-and-tested campaigns that have worked for them in the past rather than branch out into new territories they are uncertain about paying off.

Now, we aren’t slamming transit ads altogether — they’re hugely effective for certain campaigns and brands. In fact, out-of-home advertising is the only offline media category to grow consistently, thanks in part to huge commuter volumes. Our contention is with brands taking a cookie-cutter approach, given the main argument for running ads on buses in Singapore is that it will generate mass awareness for your brand. 

But does it? Sure, you can get in front of people by riding around Singapore — but how impactful is it?

Here’s what you CAN know about your bus ads: What percentage of people from your target audience takes the bus (in general) and how often; which routes are more likely to be seen by a particular audience (i.e. students, tourists, office workers); and an estimation of how many people could potentially see the bus your ad is on.

But here’s what you CAN’T know about them: Your brand awareness lift as a result of your bus ad; how many people looked at your website or social pages after seeing the bus ad; how many people bought your products or requested your services as a result; cost per conversion and return on investment (ROI) or return on ad spend (ROAS).

For large, established brands, these concerns are minimal. But for small and mid-sized businesses looking to reach a wide audience, to generate mass brand awareness and to track their efforts accordingly, it should be an important consideration. 

So what should you do with $30,000 (if you don’t paste it on a bus)?

A quick bus ride would reveal that most people look at their phones both while commuting or at bus stops. While your ads will get in front of a lot of people, it’s hard to say whether there will be an impact on sales. Following the motto ‘a lot helps a lot’ is suitable here – i.e. the more buses carry your ad, the higher the chance your message will be heard. However, this comes at a significant cost. So, why not try to reach people where they are more responsive and can take immediate action?

Example: Let’s assume you are running a big-ticket event in Singapore for which you want to drive awareness and sell about 10,000 tickets at $70 each. 

Alternative #1 – Digital Reach

Opt for a digital advertising campaign that includes brand awareness and lead generation in the same campaign. Start by running video ads on social media or other digital channels. For a budget of $5,000, your ad can reach more 500,000 people in your target audiences.

Your next campaign can be built and optimised based on the results and data you have accumulated so far. If you run another bus ad campaign, you are starting from scratch because there is no data.

Alternative #2 – Digital retargeting 

Run a campaign retargeting people who have liked, interacted or fully watched your brand video. Choose ‘conversion’ (online sales) as your campaign objective to reach people who are more likely to make a purchase.

Find more people who are similar to those that have already bought a ticket. Create a custom audience based on the conversions in phase two, and then create a lookalike audience. This will find people who are very similar to those who made a purchase and who are more likely to purchase as well.

Alternative #3 – PR 

Define your story angles and pitch your event to lifestyle publications and general media. Typically, after impactful event coverage appears, you will be able to register a spike in ticket sales. Using e-ticketing service for your event, you can keep track of how effective the different media coverage is.

Alternative #4 – Influencer campaign

No matter what target audience your event may have, there will be a number of great influencers. Be sure to work closely with your PR team in selecting the right influencers and outlining the rules of the engagement. Just a simple post that talks about your event might not be enough. Links back to your website and ticket giveaways should be a given. Be innovative and use the influencers’ channels in a creative manner. 

What’s the outcome?

If we’re talking about bang for your buck and tangible outcomes – regardless of whether you want to sell tickets, drive awareness for your ecommerce store, or generate leads for your business – a digital campaign will get you quantifiable results for your  investment. 

And while this is a debatable topic and you might argue that out-of-home advertising is creative and ‘in your face’, until you can show us the data to prove your point…

Took the wrong route? It’s time to step off. If you want to talk about how you could spend your marketing budget more efficiently, send us a message to hello@mutant.com.my.

Government and Public Relations: Why You Need It

No matter what business you’re in, government policies and regulations affect your business. That is why every company should have a government relations team that works to understand all government structures that may affect them.

Often times, public relations and government relations teams work hand-in-hand: public relations is essential for building a positive relationship with the public, and these professionals work closely with the media and other stakeholders in order to build a company’s public image. One of these stakeholders should be the government. 

However, many public relations strategies fail to take government relations into account even though the government can potentially play a massively important role in a company’s business. 

In fact, when a company has a good government and public relations strategy, it can possibly allow access to new key opinion leaders (KOLs), media coverage, strategic partnerships and business opportunities. When combined, public and government relations strategies can lead to more established and effective outcomes. It is certainly no small feat! 

But, how does a company accomplish this? We’ll tell you how it’s done.

So what is government relations?

A government relations professional is tasked with analysing policies, finding ways for governments and companies to work together, and developing strategies for providing input on public policies. 

Simply put, government relations is all about education and communication. While your company needs to know about legislation, policies and regulations that affect your business, the government, too, should know about what your company does, what your future plans are, and your company’s point of view.

To do this, you need to know how to navigate the local government system and policies – and it isn’t always easy. To be honest, there’s a possibility that when you try to establish this relationship, you’ll be given the run-around by government groups, or even be ignored. 

However, with a dedicated team to help with government relations, companies can get their foot in the door and then begin working toward partnering with governments and governmental groups to further their business goals. 

It’s all about relationships

For those of you with furrowed brows, we promise government relations is not (always) about fancy lunches, business suits and playing golf! Government relations (and also public relations!) is all about relationships and communication. 

Here are a few steps that companies can take to start building government relations:

Map out stakeholders

Your first step is to identify the key stakeholders. You need to know who the players are, what they do and how they can help with your campaign, project or business objective. It could be a Minister, your local MP (member of parliament), or a specific department head. 

Do your research

From there, it’s time to do your homework and deep-dive into the relevant policies and regulations, media reports and all the nitty-gritty details about the relevant people you need to work with. Know your stuff before you get in touch with officials! 

Make contact

Introduce yourself and your company, and state your business proposal. Do keep in mind that government officials are important for your business, and that you should do everything possible both impress and charm them. In addition to sending your business proposal, consider also inviting them to tour your office or taking them out for lunch. 

Follow up

“But what if they ignore me?” you may ask. Government officials are busy people, and they sometimes do not reply to your emails straight away – especially because your email could be buried under a mound of high-priority action items. 

If you don’t immediately hear back from them, it’s okay. Don’t give up. Continue to follow-up with them, or maybe go visit them at their office in person. If that fails, perhaps you can try another approach, like contacting their personal assistant to arrange a meeting, or pivoting to get in touch with another relevant official instead. 

Timing is also very important. Avoid contacting government officials during busy periods, such as ahead of the national Budget tabling, upcoming party elections or by-elections, or during long stretches of public holidays. By considering when may be the best time to reach out and being vigilant in following-up, you’ll eventually get a response.

Begin building a relationship

Your work doesn’t stop after you make contact with government officials. In fact, that’s where the work begins. The next step – and the hard part – is nurturing and sustaining that relationship. Always keep officials informed of your business progress so you remain top of mind. This can be easily done by  adding them to your newsletters or inviting them to attend your business functions.

Monitor news and issues

Keep an eye out for relevant news or issues involving your project or campaign. Always be on the ball! Cabinet reshuffles and internal management changes, for example, are major changes that can affect your business and campaign. You should also be on the lookout for news of Ministers supporting or condemning certain topics or issues. It’s good to know where officials stand in relation to current affairs and topics, and can help to inform how you approach them and build your relationship with them.

Looking for help building your company’s government relations? Contact us at hello@mutant.com.my, and we’ll get you sorted.

Going Back to Work after Maternity Leave was Easier Than I Thought

I don’t mean that in the literal sense because obviously, I was boobs deep in sleep deprivation, hormonal changes, breastfeeding and every other exhausting by-product of having a newborn. 

But this was my second baby, so I was somewhat prepared. At the very least, I was aware that going back to work meant being pulled into many unexpected directions. I also took heart in the fact that I work for a company that does its very best to cultivate and retain a strong culture of support. Our CEO and Strategic Director have kids and understand what it takes to return to work successfully.

This is vastly different for other new mums. I know friends who returned to work only to find that their organisations don’t want to engage with them, either because they’re too afraid to give new mums work or – more alarmingly – expect them to work like they’re not experiencing the most life-changing event. 

The impact of this is staggering. A report by Ovia Health found that 34% of women did not return to their job after having a child. Another study from the United States found that 43% of female STEM professionals switch fields, transition to part-time work or leave the workforce entirely after having a child. The intangible burden on both stay-at-home mums and working mums are the same though: guilt, boredom, exhaustion and feeling overwhelmed. 

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have the same doubts about returning—but I am incredibly lucky to work in a company that supports staff in finding the perfect balance between being a new parent and working. 

So, what does Mutant do differently? 

Found out my needs

Before I returned to work, senior members of the team checked in to enquire about my specific needs. I needed a private nook to pump—and so a week before my return the company set that up for me. It’s probably NBD for big corporates with dedicated pumping rooms, but we’re a growing business and it matters when the company creates something entirely from scratch for you. 

Progressive return policy

The first time I took maternity leave, I didn’t know what to expect and how I’d manage getting back to work. This time around I knew exactly what to expect, partly because of my first experience, but equally because of Mutant’s progressive return policy. Our Gradual Return Maternity Policy provides new mums with an additional four months’ staggered leave beyond the legally required 3-4 months – with full pay. So, when I returned three months after my son was born, I worked just 10 hours per week in that first month. It would be four full months until I was back up to 40+ hours. 

Flexible working hours

My older son goes to pre-school, which means he brings a ton of germs into our house and routinely gets the entire house sick. This means frequent doctor visits and work-from-home days. Fortunately, Mutant has a thriving flexi-work environment, which I fully maximise on days I need to stay home with the kids. And while it’s true I’ve taken more days off since becoming a mum, it has also made me a better worker. I’m now able to manage my time more efficiently by multi-tasking, getting to the point quickly and powering through my days.

Looking to work in a nurturing and supportive environment? Chat with us at hello@mutant.com.my

Want to Sell More? Focus on the Sizzle, not the Steak

You might have come across two types of advertising – the one that aggressively displays a product and its attributes, and the one that have a story to tell. While there is a time and place for being a braggart, telling a story is how you can emotionally connect with your audience. This is usually a better option than shoving your product down people’s throats.

Elmer Wheeler, arguably the greatest salesman in the world, rightly said, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.”

How do you know when your neighbour is preparing a prime cut of the juiciest meat available? When you can hear the satisfying sound of fat rendering on the grill. People make purchases because they want to feel a certain way, and that’s exactly what this meaty metaphor is about – sell the promise, not the product.

But us (always hungry) Mutants aren’t the only ones who believe in this the power of storytelling. If you’re looking for examples of campaigns that not only resonated, but drove success, here are three of our favourites hat successfully sold the sizzle:

Think Different (1997)

Watch closely, and you will notice that Apple never mentioned the names of their products in any of their ads. The TV commercials featured 17 icons who very much aligned with Steve Jobs’ definition of the “crazy ones”, but never directly talked about a Macintosh. Instead, Apple aimed to target those who identified as non-conformist, radical or free-spirited. Think Different was the winner of a campaign which propelled Apple Inc to technological and cultural greatness.

Unsung Heroes (2014)

Do you remember sobbing countless times to Thai ads, which consistently proved to be tearjerkers? Because we sure do. And we’ve usually always shed tears to what seemed to be a heartbreaking tale, only to be revealed as something completely unexpected. In Unsung Heroes, nearly three minutes are dedicated to portraying an emotional story that compels viewers to delve deep into their lives and themselves what it is they desire the most in life.

Smell Like A Man, Man (2010)

Can you believe this brilliant Old Spice campaign is ten years old already? Here’s the best part – instead of targeting its intended audience (straight men), it speaks to the women in their lives. The ads focused on highlighted the macho vibe associated with the product, but never the actual product itself.

Experts prefer to focus on selling the sizzle because it gives them the opportunity to reach a wider, hungrier audience. While you still have to present them with an actual steak, your audiences will be salivating, ready to tear into anything you serve.

Want to make your brand irresistible? Talk to us at hello@mutant.com.my

3 Ways to Infuse Life into your Content

While creating content may seem like a simple task, consistently keeping your audience hooked is a different ball game. Blog posts and articles are often the first thing which come to mind, we talk about content. While this is true, content exists in other forms such as videos, infographics, e-books or audio. Thanks to social media, short-form video content is all the rage – all you need to do is scroll down Instagram, Facebook or YouTube, and check out the staggering number of views that some videos manage to clinch.

Want to keep your content alive, so audiences always keep coming back for more? Here are three tips:

Re-use, re-purpose, re-cycle

Great advice not only for the environment, but also the content you have generated so far. Most of which is probably timeless, so don’t let it go to waste. Posted a blog on your website two years ago? Give it a fresh lease of life, and repurpose it for a different platform. Trending topics tend to be cyclical – a specific topic you wrote about a year ago could be relevant in the present moment.

For instance, events such as the Oscars, the Super Bowl, and the prominent Fashion Weeks never fail to be a yearly occurrence. If you wrote a listicle about the major looks sported at celebrities at the Golden Globes, or penned an insightful op-ed about fashion and sustainability, why not rehash the content by giving it a fresh new twist and sharing it across your socials?

Reel them in with an irresistible headline

Putting time and effort into creating your content is great, but it’s the headline that will compel people to click on whatever you have put out. Writing a good headline involves balancing the right amount of information to let people know what to expect, yet being mysterious enough to pique their interest. Clickbait is annoying, and will only turn your readers away – be genuine with your headlines, and you will earn the clicks you deserve.

Make it personal

Customers nowadays are all about authenticity. Thanks to the Internet and social media at large, people want to see the “real” you. They want to know your story so they can be invested in it, and hopefully get to know you and talk to you (just like dating).

Give people what they want. Share stories about the team working behind the scenes to help your brand or product come to life. Hop onto Instagram or Facebook Live, or record a “Storytime” video for your YouTube audience. Social media allows for two-way communications, where your customers and fans will tell you what they think of you and your product in real-time.

Let your customers in, so they can see you for who you really are. Tell your brand story with flair, and make it human. Instead of turning it into a hackneyed old sales pitch, show people what you and your brand can do. Your content strategy should leave people hungry for more.

Want to give your content a fresh lease of life? Drop us a message at hello@mutant.com.my

Personal Branding on LinkedIn – Tips For Curating and Creating Compelling Content

When it comes to personal social media, you likely have perfected your preferred combo of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, curating your content and voice so that it’s very you. But what about professional social media? 

When it comes to networking online, LinkedIn is where the bulk of it happens. But setting up and maintaining a professional LinkedIn profile can require a different approach than, say, your personal Instagram. So after you set up your LinkedIn profile and implement the best practices for profile optimisation, the next step is to introduce content, which adds substance to your profile. Yes, people can gauge your capabilities from your past work experience, but what’s the best way to show that  you are still relevant now? To answer this question, people turn to your LinkedIn activity, checking whether you’ve shared any posts or published any articles recently.         Impress your LinkedIn connections. (Source: LinkedIn)

But crafting the perfect LinkedIn post requires a slightly different skill-set than a composing a pithy tweet.  After all, you want to impress your LinkedIn connections with your professional acumen – maybe in addition to your wit. To learn how best to do this, read on for the how-tos of curating and creating compelling content for your LinkedIn profile.

Curate and share third-party content

In order to share great content, you first need to be up to speed on industry news. Make it part of your daily routine to read trade publications and scroll through posts from  subject matter experts and the prominent hashtags on LinkedIn to keep tabs on trending topics. If you’re unsure where to begin, LinkedIn makes it easy for you to find newsletters to follow based on your profile and interests.

 

Tip: Click the “My Network” icon at the top of your LinkedIn home page and scroll down to see newsletters recommended based on your function that you can subscribe to. (Source: LinkedIn)

Navigate to the bottom of the left sidebar on your LinkedIn home page, and click “Discover more” under “Followed Hashtags” to see a list of popular hashtags related to your profile that you can follow. (Source: LinkedIn)

 

To follow more trending hashtags, you can also click the “My Network” icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage and scroll to the bottom. (Source: LinkedIn)

Any time you come across interesting articles or opinions, be it on LinkedIn or otherwise,  take some time to share it on your LinkedIn profile and add your personal thoughts or an insightful remark. That said, never post just for the sake of posting – always ensure that what you are sharing adds value for your audience. Curating and sharing content with careful intention will display your knowledge of current events and trends, improving your followers’ perceptions of your expertise.

If your employer has a LinkedIn page, a quick way to enhance your LinkedIn activity is to share pertinent posts from your company’s page. On the side, this also demonstrates commitment to your job and shows what the business you work for is all about.

Pro tip: include hashtags in your post to help other LinkedIn users discover your content and increase your reach. Similar to other social media channels, hashtags on LinkedIn work to categorise posts, and best practices suggest around three to four hashtags per LinkedIn post. But don’t get too creative: hashtags should be specific to the topic of your post, rather than about your brand alone because people are more likely to search for hashtags related to their work or interests.

Yup, I should definitely go with #WomenInBusiness instead of #OrianaAtWork.
Make use of LinkedIn’s hashtag recommendations that appear as you type in the post creator. (Source: LinkedIn

Publish owned content

Owned content refers to content you generate as opposed to content from third-party sources. It’s smart to offer a mix of content on your LinkedIn page, and complementing your sharing of third-party content with original posts and articles of your own showcases your voice and thoughts. Simple posts are ideal for brief updates and highlights, while articles are preferable for thought leadership and lengthy reflections. Before writing a full article on LinkedIn, gain a preliminary understanding of your audience using LinkedIn’s People Insights tool, which offers an overview of LinkedIn behaviours across industries.

 

Perhaps your LinkedIn habits contributed to this snapshot. (Source: LinkedIn)

In addition to the “Top content topics” results from LinkedIn’s nifty tool, which can serve as a launchpad for article ideas, there are also broad themes across functions and industries that could appeal to your audience. Be a thought leader with substance by including subjects such as innovation, diversity and inclusion, socially responsible initiatives, as well as spotlighting deserving talent and wins in the workplace whenever relevant.

In the midst of delighting and growing your follower base through interesting and varied content, remember to maintain a unified tone of voice across all your LinkedIn posts and articles – because as any branding professional will tell you, the key to a strong brand is consistency. Whether you are friendly and effusive, or professional and succinct, let your personality speak through your writing style.

Lastly, use quality visuals that enhance your message. For LinkedIn articles, include an eye-catching cover image at the top, and intersperse text with images, videos and other rich media to segment the article and improve flow. Avoid publishing dark or low-resolution pictures, or shaky videos with poor audio. For LinkedIn posts, experiment with multiple formats. You can easily add photos and videos to your post, or use one of LinkedIn’s customisable templates to welcome a new teammate or show your appreciation for a colleague.

No one achieves success without the help of others. (Source: LinkedIn)

Give text-only posts a try, too. Contrary to popular belief, they can be effective, especially when your aim is to make a simple statement or ask a question.


When your words have weight. (Source: LinkedIn)

The content that you curate and create on LinkedIn is representative of who you are and what you stand for as a working professional. Be intentional about the topics you share about, write in a consistent tone of voice and maximise the use of LinkedIn’s publishing features to define and develop your personal brand on the platform.

Want to pen your thoughts on LinkedIn but can’t find the right words? We can do that for you! Write to us at hello@mutant.com.my.

Pivoting your PR Strategy in a Merger

Mergers and acquisitions are one of the trickier situations for PR folks to navigate. Change is never easy – but you can take control of the narrative. Time is of the essence, and it falls on the communication team to update the messaging, announce the deal and keep tabs on both internal and external sentiments. The key is to ensure trust and credibility in both brands don’t dip – while reassuring customers and other stakeholders that it’s business as usual and that this means better products and services – in the long run. 

If you are in this unique situation – take a deep breathe – and read on. 

Connect the dots 

Communications teams are often the first to the roped in just before the merger is legally inked. The first task is to connect with core team members including key executives and communications colleagues from both brands; choosing channels carefully to avoid any news leaks with strict non-disclosure agreements reinforced. The communications  team should identify if there has already been talks or rumours in the media – carefully mapping out key journalists and titles for the official announcement roll out. Needless to say, any ongoing campaigns or communications should be on pause. 

Map Out Messaging 

As two become one, the core team need to collaborate and map out a fresh narrative for the merger. The new direction needs to be clearly articulated with key messages need to address all potential stakeholder concerns. A press release, speech and holding statements together with extensive FAQs will form the foundation of the roll out plan. All spokespeople should be briefed with a media training session to help them navigate tough questions. 

Team First 

Just before rolling out the communications externally, coordinate with team leads to announce the merger internally. It’s important to check the tone and humanise the message – with sincere platforms such as a town hall with a senior executive, followed by smaller group sessions that would help open up conversations to address any questions. This announcement may bring up insecurities as employees fear a reorganisation – and if larger changes are in the works; change management specialists should be brought in to help. 

Roll Out

On top of sharing a press announcement, the communications team should pick a media outlet or two for key interviews. Here’s where the initial research comes in handy, as the team should pick a credible, neutral source that was not skewed in publishing initial speculations. The spokesperson representing the new merged brand will need to brace for incoming media queries – stick to the fresh messaging and help address any concerns. 

Listen & Reinforce

Once the news is out, the communications team will need to step up monitoring for new sentiments and message pick-up both in news sources as well as social media. This will help them reinforce or tweak the narrative to land better.  This is only the beginning – and it usually takes companies between six months to several years to complete a merger. In the meantime, the team needs to keep a pulse on the sentiments and roll out larger campaigns that will cement the new narrative. 

There’s no one size fits all plan – but these basic blocks would help put a PR plan in place.

We’re here for you – reach out to us by emailing hello@mutant.com.my. 

 

Why More Brands Should Jump on the Livestreaming Bandwagon

In 2019, Singles Day broke all retail records with sales hitting more than $38 billion in the 24 hour period. In fact, merchants and brands participating in the online retail festival earned as much as 20 billion USD from livestreaming alone, selling furniture, apparel, beauty, and consumer electronics.

Livestreaming’s roots can be traced back to live television shopping shows such as QVC and Home Shopping Network, where people could shop for, well, anything under the sun. The faces of these shows were enthusiastic individuals who hoped to make the audience believe in the brand and product. Decades later, we have influencers, actors and other social media stars doing the same thing – only this time, we get to carry them around in our palms and pockets.

In China, livestreaming has become a source of entertainment, with many brands and influencers using it as a tool to launch and quickly sell their products. On livestreaming platforms such as ShopShops, luxury brands and independent re-sellers alike have found themselves a dedicated audience that is quick to lap up their offerings.

But just because a bunch of brands are jumping on the livestream bandwagon, should you? Here are some compelling reasons:

To woo your Gen-Z audience 

Young audiences want quality content at their fingertips, and they want it now. Tune in to Instagram, Facebook, Twitch, Periscope – any platform which facilitates livestreaming and it’s easy to see why.

The scope for consumer engagement and interaction is unlimited – people can ask questions, make purchases, receive updates on their favourite brands or insider information about exclusive launches, and send the host love and appreciation in the form of react buttons and stickers. What’s more, all of this occurs in real-time on people’s handphones.

Beauty brands favoured by millennials, such as Fenty Beauty, Glossier and Sephora have been innovating with their usage of livestreams, where they regularly invite influencers, makeup artists and celebrities to create looks and conduct tutorials. Rihanna herself has regularly taken to livestreaming to promote and educate consumers about the latest products.

To showcase your brand and start a conversation

Why fork out precious marketing dollars for a promotional video campaign, when you can just as easily and effectively leverage live-streaming at a lower cost, and ensure that you reach a wider audience. With livestreaming, you can kickstart a long-lasting conversation with fans and customers, and build credibility by having professionals display and vouch for the quality of the products.

Announcing new products and offering exclusive packages and deals during a livestream is also an excellent way to gauge demand for it.  However, live-streams should be more than simply getting your product to fly off the shelves. You want to connect with people emotionally so they keep coming back to watch you.

To increase authenticity

There is also something inherently raw and realistic about live-streaming, which comes across as intimate and authentic to fans. While polished video campaigns highlighting new products in detail are undoubtedly appealing, the spontaneous and uninhibited nature of a live-stream draws in people easily.  

There is no scope for editing, deleting or revising parts of the content — all the action unfolds before the viewer’s eyes. Sometimes, live-streams do not even need to be in a professional studio with perfect lighting. Influencers and indie brands will often film a session from the comfort of their homes. This makes viewers feel as though they are being included in the private world of an Internet personality.

As a brand, you would want to make yourself accessible to customers at all times. Why not turn to a tool which will help you reach a wider audience, and lend you the visibility to grow?

Want to make livestreaming a part of your media strategy? Write in to hello@mutant.com.my and we’ll

 

We’ve Got a Problem: How to Communicate During Troublesome Times

Whether it’s your website’s technical malfunction, a customer service issue gone viral or the introduction of an unfriendly government regulation, there will come a time in every company’s life when something goes wrong

And in those moments, your customers, the press and the rest of your industry will be looking at how you respond.

You’ll definitely have a knee-jerk reaction – and in this era of immediacy, it’s all too easy to jump on your favorite social media platform and word vomit your personal position. But this is exactly what you should not do.

That said, immediacy is not a bad thing, especially because of social media, where news spreads around the globe in a matter of minutes. Working quickly to craft a statement or provide a solution will be paramount to success – but that does not mean you should be in such a rush that you sacrifice careful thoughtfulness.

They say when the going gets tough, the tough get going – and where you should get going is straight to your communications team and public relations agency to craft a plan. Here’s what you should keep in mind.

Don’t Panic (or, at least, don’t panic in public)

It’s not that you can’t panic at all – you can (and most likely will) panic. Internally. Not on social media, not in a press release, and absolutely not in front of reporters. When you respond, you’ll want to be calm, collected and measured – not having a meltdown in front of the world.

After you’ve taken a breath and had a glass of water (or something stronger than water, we won’t judge), you should activate your crisis team – executives, your communications department, your PR agency – and put out a holding statement until you have had time to craft a proper response.

Get Your Thoughts Together

Once the initial emotions of shock, anger, or sadness (perhaps all three?) have passed, you’ll need to sit down with your team and investigate what the facts of the incident are and what this means for your business. Go over every possibility, every point – you need to know all of it in order to work through it. Once you’ve considered exactly what this crisis means for your company, then you can begin to determine the company’s stance.

Understand What Your Customers Expect to Hear

But before you put a statement together, you’ll also need to consider what your customers are expecting. Depending on the situation, they may want refunds, a major discount or special code to be used in the future – but what they expect is a genuine apology and assurance that action is being taken so that this does not happen again in the future.

Put yourself in their shoes and think about how you would feel if a business you loved made a mistake or was in a perilous situation similar to what your company is facing.

Find the Middle Ground

With both the business thinking and customer thinking in mind, work to find the middle ground. Consider what sort of solution is the appropriate course of action for your business. Once your positioning and solution have been determined, it’s time to start writing a statement in earnest.

Prepare Your Statement(s) – And Notify the Larger Team

Consider the types of statements you’ll need to confront this crisis and take control of the narrative. This could be a press conference, a press release, posts across social media channels, emails to your customers, app notifications – and it likely will be a mixture of some or even all of these options, depending on the situation. Once you know the channels through which you’re responding, then make sure to draft, edit and polish suitably.

Once these drafts are ready to go, be sure to brief the rest of the company before you blast the statements out. Your people will be dealing with customers or clients (or both!) getting in touch after your statement is out in the world, and they should be prepared for how to respond based on the company’s position.

Keep Monitoring

Once you’ve published your statement, use social and media monitoring tools to keep tabs on how your solutions are sitting with customers, and if they are working the way you hoped. Fingers crossed everything goes smoothly – but if the conversation turns negative, then you should work to address all concerns before attempting to move on from the issue.

Though no business ever wants to have a crisis on its hands, in the event that you walk into the office and find yourself in the middle of one, it’s important to have a plan for what happens in crisis mode. With enough deep breaths, facts and  level-headed thinking, your company can weather this and emerge from it stronger – and even in a way that may win you new customers. It is possible – so long as you don’t panic.

Concerned about stumbling instead of stepping forward? We’re here for you – reach out to us by emailing hello@mutant.com.my. 

 

How Journalism Helped Me Navigate The World Of PR

I was a journalist for six years, until I decided to try something and switch to the “dark side” – public relations. 

I’m relatively new to the world of PR. Now, new worries fill my world – having to quickly draft press releases, organise media launches, and pray that journalists will be interested enough to cover the story. And the more I learned about the public relations industry, the more I realised that there are so many interchangeable skills which overlap between the two fields. 

Here are eight skills which I picked up as a journalist, and have proven to be extremely useful in the public relations world:

BE A STORYTELLER

Content is king – be it in journalism or public relations. If you do not craft a compelling or newsworthy press release, nobody is going to want to pick up the story. Come up with an engaging lead to act as a grip to hook your reader and make them want to read more. 

ALWAYS FACT-CHECK

Always fact-check details such as names, numbers, and dates, when doing your research. This goes for both journalism and PR. You must always present accurate information to the media and the public – after all, what could be worse than having to issue a correction when sending out a press release? 

BE A SOCIAL BUTTERFLY (WELL, SORT OF)

No, you don’t need to host summer soirees and become a social butterfly to network. Simply put yourself out there – attend events and seminars, talk to people and start a conversation. You never know what will come of it – if everything works out, you could have a new client on your hands. It never hurts to be well-connected. 

DEALING WITH DEADLINES

Every journalist, no matter how accomplished they are, hate this word – deadlines. Escaping to the PR world will not rid you of deadlines. In fact, you will be inundated with deadlines, be it for pitches or press releases. Luckily, having spent time as a journalist has polished my deadline-management skills. 

MAKING CALLS

Just like journalists chase for quotes or statements for a story, PR practitioners do the same – in fact, they go a step further and make calls to journalists about press releases or pitches they sent over. It’s two sides of the same coin, really.

ACTIVELY LISTEN 

Carefully listen to interviews so you can quickly grab onto sentences which can be used as a strong lead, or a juicy quote. That’s what I regularly did as a journalist – of course, it doesn’t mean that I switched off during the mundane bits of the interview. I learned to identify talking points which could be used to generate more storylines, or lead to a more robust conversation, but only if the right follow-up questions were asked. 

GET WHAT YOU WANT 

Seasoned journalists know how to masterfully steer an interview in their desired direction, to extract the quote they want for their story. This skill will help any PR practitioner prevent an unnecessary PR crisis.

KNOW WHEN TO LET LOOSE

Disconnecting from work may be hard, but it is beneficial to people in this line of work. Journalists certain know how to have fun and let loose after a hard day in the newsroom. And the team at Mutant does exactly that – we work hard and play hard! That is one of the reasons why we have been awarded the Best Mid-Sized Agency To Work For APAC by Holmes Report (Woohoo!).

Come join the dark side at hello@mutant.com.my!