How many webinars have you sat on so far this year? The PR industry has long made use of webinars as a knowledge exchange tool, but there seems to be a constant stream of invitations at the moment (understandable given the situation we find ourselves in as they replace more traditional networking and training events). How then, do you pick which ones to attend?

We look at the time and the day, so they don’t interfere with key media sell-in times for example (although, if we can’t do them ‘live’, many offer recordings afterwards, which is always a bonus), and the description has to be really clear, including who any speakers or moderators are, so that we know the benefit to us and our clients.

Being able to follow conversations via a hashtag is useful too when on the webinar, as it’s a way to network, and many also offer live chat options to connect with other like-minded individuals!

You’ll get a good feel early on if the webinar is offering what it should, and, luckily, most of the ones we have chosen recently to have delivered good stats, knowledge and food for thought. With that in mind, we thought it might be useful to share some key insights from some of the interesting webinars that the team have participated in in the last few weeks.

The need for ‘Connected Brands’….

Are you a ‘connected brand’? Apparently, a brand with meaning can generate 3x the sales growth on an unconnected brand!

So how do you create a connected brand?

- With clearly defined messaging, think about what makes the brand different, distinct and whether it has the power to create emotions?

- Create stand out brand assets that grab attention and are instantly recognisable

- Innovate within the brands values and core proposition – innovation should never dilute the impression customers have of the brand; innovation should build and grow the brand, taking the customer with it

- Commit to a signature experience that connects values and behaviours – think Fever Tree, Harry’s Shave Club

- Sharpen digital encounters with consumers – don’t blend into the category ‘norm’, make your content different

- And always be authentic – don’t appear insincere and jump on cultural moments without thinking about it first – just using a hashtag for the sake of it can be a big mistake…

The Social Dilemma and tips for succeeding

(No this isn’t a review of the recent Netflix docudrama, but it is a round-up of several webinars that explored trust, fragility and fragmentation around social media and tips for succeeding)

- A need for balance across channels (don’t put all your eggs in one basket), brands should try to ensure that no ‘one media’ commands more than 50% of the spend

- Plan in synergy to get the most from your social investment and align your earned and paid media

- Flexibility is important, thus be prepared for disruption, you never know when you may need to relocate channels for reasons outside of your control – for example budget cuts / cultural moments etc.

- Be transparent. Today’s consumers are very savvy! Don’t make statements on your social channels without action…

- Engage with your community.  Don’t always chase the ‘big numbers’, you need a strong foundation to build on

- Use data to plan and drive efficiency. It allows you to craft your message around the platform and deliver the same message in different ways

And finally, being in PR in a global pandemic…

We can and do help brands be ‘connected brands’ and ‘succeed on social’ – it’s what we do, it’s our bread and butter. However, we too have had to adjust and in turn help our clients adapt and react, whilst still achieving the results. It all comes down to three key things…

1. Flexibility – it’s key right now… We recognised this very early on in the Covid-19 crisis and were able to adapt plans and adjust strategies quickly to ensure clients maximised opportunities

2. Insights are invaluable, always, but never more so than now to keep up with changing consumer behaviour. Where we help though, is interpreting these insights for clients and showing how the PR can respond to ensure message delivery, action and response

3. Thinking outside the box – as PRs we are used to strategising, planning, organising and ‘doing’ and ‘thinking outside the box’ is not a new term for us, it’s just a pretty big box we have to think outside of these days! We’ve had to think differently about how to deliver campaigns that still have the reach, impact and offer good value for money and a return on investment

What’s clear, having read many notes from the webinars the team have attended, is that the messages are often the same, they’re just being delivered in a different way. None of this is rocket science but in an uncertain world right now, it’s good to be reminded about being connected, authentic, real, flexible, and engaging. And as marketers, what’s important to us is not what we say or do but what others are saying or seeing about our clients and how we make that happen…

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