Tony skinner 00:02
Hi, and welcome to the podcast channel on www.podcastmybusiness.com.au and today we welcome Sharon from www.agent99pr.com. Hi, Sharon, how you doing?
I’m doing well. Thank you. Thanks for having me on.
Tony skinner 00:20
No problem. I was gonna say I missed you by that match. And we must go through that story.
Yes, yeah, it’s amazing the references that I get in relation to our name, which is good. It’s part of the reason that I wanted to call us Agent 99 because it just puts a smile on people’s face and, you know, everyone remembers that 60s Classic and it you know, just gives you a chuckle. And I think, you know, business is also about having a good time and enjoying your every day. And so, Agent 99 the name came about when we thought about, you know, Agent 99 in the series was just such a classic, smart, sassy, you know, fun person and she always made Agent 86 look really, really good. And that is how we like to work with our clients. That’s a really good analogy for making our clients look good. And that is how the name was born for the agency.
Tony skinner 01:22
Fantastic. And for those millennials out there, look up Get Smart on Google. There you go.
Tony skinner 01:30
Yeah, exactly. So okay, look, you know, I think there’s a few things we can cover off here in relation to PR and one of the first things is. we’ve got this, does this crisis with COVID-19 and lockdowns and shutdowns and all these changes and what have you, but PR agencies have always traditionally been dealing with crisis’s anyway, so what would be a good way for a business to deal with the current situation?
That’s a very broad question. I think Ah, sorry. Yeah, no, it’s okay. I mean, broad in that, you know, when when this first happened back in March, we had probably about 12 clients on board. And each one of them had a completely different response, a different reaction, because they were in different industries, and were affected differently. So for example, we were about to launch a game, a kids game that was related to the trolls to movie release. Now, clearly, that was pushed back so we weren’t able to do that launch at all. So there was just some things that got shut down completely, and other things that didn’t, and they were actually just forging ahead. So for example, studio three is one of our clients and they’re a tutoring platform online platform. So they actually just exploded because everyone wasn’t allowed to go to school or to go to uni.
And so they needed that extra support. And so they were absolutely exploding in terms of, of a business. And so you’ve got to complete polar I suppose ends of the of the scale. And so how you handle the crisis really depends on where you are there. But ultimately, you’ve got to always think about who is your customer? Who is that client? And how do you communicate with them? And what is it that they need at that time from your business and might be absolutely nothing at all. If you’re a restaurant, you know, it’s about pivoting to take away if that’s suitable.
How do you communicate that across all of your channels, whether it’s social, whether you’re, you know, a really high end restaurant that often gets reviewed by media, how do you communicate those things. So really, each approach is very different in terms of handling a disaster. But one thing that’s really important for any business is to have contingency plans in place. Now, no one would have planned for COVID. But, you know, I think that sitting down with your team and looking at, you know, one of the worst case scenarios that could happen to our business, and how would we handle that? You know, how would we handle that in terms of our communication with our most important stakeholders, and that could be your employees. It could be your customers and your clients. It could be, you know, your suppliers.
It could be a varied number of stakeholders, but that’s what communication and handling crisis is all about. It’s about communication. And the more you’re prepared for it ahead of time, the better off you are, when it actually happens. And everyone, so it’s not just about the communication piece, but internally, how do you handle that? who handles the media interviews? Do they have a q&a that they can, you know, practice With Do you have a process document? have, you know, if you’ve got a store, do you close it, who closes it? Who, you know, all of those things need to be thought about for every single possible disaster scenario. And that’s the best case that you could possibly have the businesses that were most prepared in terms of, all of this, and in terms of crisis, probably faring the best as well.
Tony skinner 05:27
Yeah, and that’s so true. And I remember right when it’s first started, just tell everyone, Look, don’t panic, keep marketing, just keep marketing, keep out there, keep in front of people, because there is going to be a percentage of businesses that don’t survive. And yes, if people don’t hear from you, they’ll think that you are in that bundle of businesses that haven’t survived.
Exactly, exactly. And I think that it’s just about what’s the appropriate way to market and communicate, you know, and I think that you can’t be tone deaf and pretend that something’s not You have to acknowledge it. And it’s about communicating around that in a in a most sensitive way. And I think one thing that I wasn’t, you know, a real fan of was all of those empty. We’re right there with you. We’re we’re fighting this together and all those. I mean, what does that actually may? You know, I think that that’s just not really it’s just, you know, lip service, I think.
So it’s about taking into account what’s happening around you. But equally, like you said, continuing to market continue to look at where are your customers, and what do they need from you right now, what really makes sense in this environment? And doing that? I mean, when we were dealing with all of our clients and their various environments during the peak of it, or we were pivoting their communications plans completely so we usually promote our clients through the use of media relations and getting this story out into media.
And that didn’t make a lot of sense at that. Because all the headlines were around COVID. So it just it was silly to, you know, pitch stories when it had unless they were a client that could actually add value. So for example, Lloyd edge who was on your show a few weeks ago, he actually was is a property buyer’s agent. Now, it made sense for us to put him out there as an expert to property media to add value to a lot of their articles and to get his expertise out there.
Because he was able to, you know, he’s he’s on the ground, he’s, he’s able to tell you what’s going on in the market live, how do you respond to this? Is it a good time to buy? Is it a good time to sell all those things? So to me, it’s about you know, can you add value to the narrative and if not, probably keep quiet, and then look at other ways to market. So we were doing a lot of things like video interviews with, with people and we’re getting that out through social so it was just like, Looking at Where are my you know, where my customers eyeballs living right now when what do they need? And then we created content to, you know, to cater to that.
Tony skinner 08:13
Yeah, now you fuse some keywords in there which I like in social was one and trolls to or trolls. And that was about a movie but hey, you know, I’m trying to pull everything together these days I mean certainly social media and social media management is a big part in communication for many companies. So we all have to suffer some trolls and when it comes to social media, what are some good tips and tricks to help to manage some, shall we say negative feedback?
I think you know, it’s a really great tool that the social is brought into the for a two way communication directly with your customers. You can really listen To what they’re saying. And you can cater to that. If you’re saying a common theme, then that’s obviously some kind of an issue that you really need to address in your business. But the biggest chip is really getting them off the platform. So you’ll often say, you know, people who are managing social channels, they’ll say something like, thank you so much, Joe Bloggs, for your comments. We really appreciate your feedback.
We’d like to continue that conversation with you so we can get more depth Can you DMS or will dm you? And it’s about just getting them off the platform as soon as possible. So it did, they don’t continue that conversation in public. That’s probably the biggest thing that, you know, that’s sort of the gold standard of getting people off the platform so it doesn’t continue or spark up other conversations with other people seeing this, you know, but overall, it’s about being honest and being thankful. People have taken the time to, you know, and mostly I think people are genuinely frustrated. trolls. Absolutely. There are trolls out there, they’ve got nothing better to do with their time. And that’s a matter of, you know, again, trying to get them off your platform or figuring out the best course of action to deal with them.
But ultimately, people who are genuinely complaining about something, it’s, you know, it’s looking at that in earnest and seeing any common themes and if anything that you could possibly get the best outcomes out of listening to your customers and making those changes.
Tony skinner 10:36
Yeah, it’s true. I had some software that I cancelled the other day. And I got this and this is a bad example of how to do that. I got an email back saying Hi there, we noticed that you tick the box that you cancelled because we kept getting technical difficulties. Can you please help us out and tell us what that was an email about going home? The tone of your email explains to you why I have problems with you because it’s not addressed to me. It’s an auto response. That’s an a cut, cut and paste. And why should I give you information like that back? You should already know what the problem is. Yeah, look, I think, you know, everyone’s feeling their way around it, I think the easier you make it for someone to give you that feedback,
you know, and look, a little sweetness also, incentives. You know, for your trouble, we would like to offer you $50 voucher after the next purchase, or, you know, whatever it might be, there are ways to encourage commentary and feedback from people. And I think, you know, tone is very, very important. And I think just getting that right, and in keeping with your own brand is very important. So, and that’s going to differ for everybody. brands you know, but that’s a it’s a really interesting point that you made.
Tony skinner 12:04
Hmm, yeah. And I mean, let’s face it, the whole world has changed over the last few years, especially the media landscape as well. So even the world of PR, which used to be, you just send out some press releases to journos who’d be too lazy to do anything but run them anyway. To now, well, let’s face I used to do that I used to work in magazines years ago. And I used to get in touch with different people and do different things. And I know how lazy journalists are. Just run it. And now what is less journalists and whatever. So it’s even harder to get the PR message out.
It really is. I mean, just to give you an example, the sunrise producer receives about 1000 emails a day, just to give you an idea. So how do you even achieve cut through and TV still has a huge reach, despite the fact that we’re all very much into our different platforms on on demand, etc, it’s still free to air still has a very huge audience and cut through and reach. And so it’s really important to a lot of our clients. And so how do you stand out? And I think it really comes down to understanding the show or the platform’s audience. And does that story really suit them?
And if so, how do you package it up given all of these changes in the media landscape and you know, so many journalists having to do the job of four people? How do you deliver a story in a way that’s a really interesting to the audience doesn’t carry a lot of commercial messaging, because ultimately, they’re not there to make an ad for you. adds value to their audience. You have something that they can take away and feel like they’re getting some, you know, good tips, tricks, whatever it is that they need to know about.
And you know, and do you have all the assets? Do you have imagery? Do you have videos? Do you have things that they could use, they could just create a package. And you have a really good spokesperson, who is also media trained, and can be that talking head for your brand. So it’s just knowing how to package your story really, really well and present that and that it has become quite a fine art. It’s not and I think a lot of brands make the mistake and they think, Oh, yeah, I’ll just write a few things down, I’ll send that email to that producer should be no problem at all. It’s really not like that. It’s just become more and more and more challenging. And I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years now. And like you said, it was it was back in the day you spray, spray and pray and just send out a release and hope for the best but now you have to be really targeted. You have to understand what it is that they’re looking for. You have to understand how to how to tell a story really well and what needs to go with it to be successful.
Tony skinner 15:00
Yeah, and I think that’s what it comes down to is that, again, that being able to tell the story, which again, is the wonders and beauty of podcasts is simpler and easier to communicate.
Yeah, absolutely. There’s podcasts. You know, there are there are a lot of different channels to get your message across. But the other challenge is that now with all of the different platforms that there’s been such fragmentation of the market to so how do you even capture that target audience? You know, and I think having that consistency and having creativity and a plan in market to always be communicating and always be telling interesting new stories. That’s the only way that’s the key. That creativity piece is so important these days for any brand.
Tony skinner 15:51
Absolutely. Okay, cool. All right. Any other tips and tricks that you would like to share?
Look, I think anyone who wants to do PR I think they need to Look at this story, what makes it really unique? And what makes them stand apart from their competition in the market? What is that USP? You know?
And then what are you trying to achieve? What does success look like? And how are you going to measure that? Is it? Is it hits to your website? Is it in sales? Is it just brand awareness on the whole? And, you know, if you’re going to partner with someone, an agency Look at, their case studies look at what their experience is, in your sector. Have they done good work there? Have they been able to move the dial for clients in your area?
Those things are really important. And also do you have the right chemistry, because with your agency, you’re always going to have that ongoing relationship. And if you’ve got a good agency, you’re speaking to them regularly. You know, you’re having communication a lot. And so they’re an extension of your marketing team. So you need to feel that it’s the right chemistry.
The right rapport and you can see yourself working with them. And always look at what is the, what is the ROI here? How am I able to achieve return on my investment and set those KPIs with your PR team and make sure that everyone’s on the same page, and then re evaluate consistently, you know, every month to two months, look at where you’re at, where are you headed, what’s next? And make sure that you know, you’re achieving that success that you’re looking for.
Tony skinner 17:30
Absolutely, yeah. You got to constantly stay on target. That’s so key for everything business. Hundred percent. Great look. Thanks very much, Sharon. Really appreciate your time. And that’s Sharon from www.agent99pr.com. And thank you for yout time. Thank you so much for having me on the show.
And thank you for your time.