Dissident Spin Doctor: How can we sell something if we don’t believe in it ourselves?

by Emma King (@EmmainSA) It’s been a relief to start my own business and make a few rules of my own. Joining the first hard-and-fast rule is the second, but equally important one — that I don’t work with any brands or businesses that I don’t fully believe in or like.

The Dissident Spin Doctor: Dear brand manager — vanilla is irrelevant

by Emma King (@EmmainSA) In the compulsion to be cool, to be the popular ones, perhaps the cool kids forgot how to develop a personality. They tried to be everything to anyone, to conform to the appeal of the masses and not to stand out. They became vanilla. I wonder sometimes whether this is true, too, for brands.

The Dissident Spin Doctor: The death of the unitasker

by Emma King (@EmmainSA) I came across an awesome word the other day – ‘Unitasker’. It’s attributed most commonly to Alton Brown, ‘celebrity’ chef and TV personality, who apparently disdainfully coined the term to describe single purpose kitchen utensils that clog up a kitchen and which are only good for one thing. Like a corn kernel remover, or a cake pop maker, or a banana slicer.

Apparently, it can also be used to describe a person – someone who can only do one task at a time (I’m resisting the temptation to insert joke about men and multitasking here). But I’d like to create another way it can be used, in the workplace, to describe someone who clogs up a business and who is only able or willing to do one thing.

I think it’s a pretty dangerous to be a unitasker in this fast moving age. Back in the day, when there were limited channels and disciplines, and ages to work through a brief from a client, we had the luxury of being able to lovingly and single-mindedly focus on our preferred skill of copywriting or design or strategic research.

The Dissident Spin Doctor: 2013 sees PR enter the boardroom

by Emma King (@EmmainSA) I can’t tell you what this year’s big business start-up or new social media phenomenon will be (oh, that I wish I could). But we can look at current trends and begin to plan around what we know will happen, so here are my thoughts on the big things we will see in 2013, and how we can prepare our businesses.

1. PR gets (way) more important Emma King

We’ve said this for a long time, but it’s never been truer. In a time of change, it’s important for businesses to manage their reputation efficiently, build relationships, and communicate clearly about what they are doing and why. Corporates realise that these practices need to be built into their very way of working, rather than trying to stick PR Band-Aids over their fundamental business issues.

It’s heartening therefore to see PR entering the boardroom, as with the recent rise of SABMiller’s ex-corporate affairs chief, Sue Clarke, to European MD. It’s recognition that reputation has a very real impact on the bottom line.

Hand in hand with this comes further collaboration between disciplines. I’ve already spoken about the need for integration, and for PR t to sit within creative planning, rather than stuck on as an afterthought here [link to previous article].

Communications professionals arebecoming increasingly responsible for managing the minute-to-minute face of a brand or business – and they cannot do this within virtual silos. Collaboration of talent and experience, irrespective of job titles or department, is crucial for brands to thrive in our super-connected future.

What does this mean for us? Experienced and heavy weight communications professionals need to be included in planning, and have an impact in the boardroom. Those businesses that strike it off a ‘nice-to-have’ rather than an essential, or, even more worrying, entrust their communications to a lightweight PR manager or junior social media intern, do so at their peril.

The Dissident Spin Doctor: The PR agency of the future sits with creative

by Emma King (@EmmainSA) Much has been said about what the ad agency of the future will look like. We all know that the old ways of creating adverts for each separate media channel, and pontificating for ages about this radio execution or that print layout is outdated. We know that integration of all disciplines – in whatever form – needs to be the primary aim; and we know that digital understanding and execution needs to run through everything.

But what about the PR agency of the future? Communications and engagement has to be more than simply farming out a press release to a bank of media names. PR practitioners need to embrace social media and work with online influencers – however we interpret that meaning. That much is a given.

Today PR agencies must make fundamental changes to the old way of working in order to be relevant. These changes need to happen within the agency structure as well as in the expertise and services that they offer. PR agencies need to move away from the constraints that have been set on them, often driven by client perceptions, that their role is simply about media relations, whether that be traditional or social.

When I started at my latest venture as part of a larger agency group, we had a lot of discussion about how the PR function would work – whether we would have a standalone and separately branded business unit or whether it should fall as a truly integrated part of the agency. We decided on the latter – much like the agency did with the digital function – because we felt that in the future we really needed to work in a way in which everything flowed together, and which was not constrained by the division of business units and billing structures.

Tale of two outages #seacom #blackberry

On 10 October, South Africans wrestled with two major connectivity outages: the SEACOM undersea cable and the BlackBerry Internet Service both went down. But the outages were one thing; how users were treated was another, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK. They provide a case study in both successful and disastrous public relations.

Prism awards up the ante

The Prism awards, awarded to professionals in public relations and communication management, are joining their peers in the larger communication industry by implementing a more robust and accountable judging process. Along with the Loeries (for advertising communication) and the PICA awards (publishing), both already hosting their events in Cape Town, the Prisms will also join the party in the mother city for the first time in its 14 year existence.

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