Key Messages – The key to business communication

16 Apr

Pete Burdon, Founder and Head Trainer – Media Training NZ

Whether you are presenting to a prospective client, a large crowd or through a media interview, it’s vital you know what key points you want to get across. It’s even more important to know how to get them across so they are remembered and acted on. The mere act of talking to someone is not communication. It only becomes communication when it is understood and remembered.

People only remember a few points from presentations. Think about the last one you went to. What can you remember? That’s why you need to nail down the two or three points you really want that audience to take in. You then use stories and examples to back up your points and make them interesting and memorable.

In media interviews, a reporter will only use two or three points in his or her story. So by focusing on your three-point message, you increase the likelihood that your points make it into the subsequent story. You use sound bites to do that.Image sourced from Thinkstock by Getty ImagesImage sourced from
Thinkstock by Getty Images

The same key-messaging principle applies to ongoing campaigns. A good example is the current argument for and against Charter Schools. Those in favour of them have three basic message points they consistently use in presentations, media interviews and other meetings. These are: ‘These schools are not compulsory’, ‘What has a student got to lose if he is failing in the current system’? and ‘There is research to show they work overseas’. That’s fairly understandable and memorable.

But last time I looked, there were about 20 points used by those against the schools. If these are all used in a presentation, they will all be forgotten. And if they are all used in media interviews, those against are handing power over to the journalist to select which ones to use.

The best idea is for all those against the schools to get together and identify the three most important points and focus on those. This is how successful political campaigns are run. For example, in the last Election, the Greens had a good three-point message as their campaign focus. This was JOBS, RIVERS and KIDS. That’s not to say they didn’t have positions on other issues. But they knew they could never get everything across, so they focused on what was most important to them.

A Tom Sawyer quote is relevant here. He once wrote to a friend and said: “Sorry I’ve written you a long letter, I didn’t have time to write you a short one.”

In other words, sometimes it can be hard to break something down to its core. But that’s vital if you want to get your messages through. Also, if you can’t break them down, how do you know what it is you are trying to communicate?

The skillsets needed to get messages through in media interviews vary considerably from presentations. In a nutshell, they need to be repeated in different ways throughout to maximise the chances of them making it into the subsequent story. There are many other differences between media interviews and presentations that are outside the scope of this blog. But the importance of identifying key messages and knowing how to get them registered in the minds of your audience are vital to both.


Pete will presenting the PRINZ course ‘Presentation and Media Training’ in Christchurch on Thursday, 7 August. Click here for the course overview and to register.


Sociable Royals leave their digital mark

15 Apr

Catherine Arrow FPRINZ FCIPR, Unlocked PR

Whether you’re a flag-waving Royalist or a slightly jaded bystander it is unlikely that you will have escaped the daily media overload of Wills-and-Kate stories that have bloated front pages and dominated news feeds for the last seven days.

It has certainly been a very social visit. For every handshake and hongi there have been hundreds of tweets, carefully curated instagrams and more likes that you can shake a thumb at.

Though steeped in tradition, the Windsors have always been early adopters of new ways to communicate – right from way-back-when and their first Christmas radio broadcasts to today’s tweets. They recognised earlier than most that good communication gets them closer to their people, so have been quick to adopt platforms, channels and networks that suit the story they want to share, rather than the tales produced by mainstream media.

One of the channels currently in use is Storify, which I highlighted for you here a few years ago when it launched. The New Zealand tour has unfolded day-by-day on Storify, with Clarence House sharing the experience with the worldwide cohort of Royal fans.

If you have missed it, Storify allows you to aggregate content associated with a particular topic, hashtag or person, collate the material you want, add your own commentary and then publish. It is a neat way to tell a story but for practitioners it is a particularly valuable tool for monitoring and reporting social content.

Image sourced from Thinkstock by Getty Images

Image sourced from
Thinkstock by Getty Images

During this month’s professional development sessions on social media monitoring we were playing around with Storify and other curation platforms that help practitioners keep a ‘low-cost-no cost’ eye on content that matters to their organisations. These tools can help in the ongoing task of monitoring who is saying what and when as well as doubling as handy trackers before, during and after campaigns and programmes.

Clarence House – along with other global news publishers – uses Storify to collate and then share the content across their network platforms – recording and extending reach at the same time.

It is an interesting channel to observe as it underlines the fact that we are all publishers now – not just providers of news and content. In observing how the publishing platforms are used by others it is worth reflecting on how our organisations can make best use of their role as publisher rather than a simple – and often reactive – provider.

When people talk about social media they tend to associate all activity with the Big Three – Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – but there is a vast realm to explore and the digital landscape has many hidden gems just waiting to be added to your organisation’s communication crown.

As practitioners we need to be constantly reviewing and adapting platforms, assessing their suitability for the task and determining whether or not they are still valid contact points for the communities we serve. And, where necessary, be brave enough to leave traditional approaches behind and break new ground. In doing so, our stories will be readily available to our communities, develop understanding and help to build the relationships needed to maintain a licence to operate.

Catherine Arrow will be leading the PRINZ Social Media Boot Camp on May 8 in Auckland, taking delegates on a digital exploration of the social media landscape and discovering how best practitioners can make use of online opportunities. Secure your place – book now.

Creative in Focus: discover global visual trends in communication

14 Apr

Follow the link below to view another interesting and topical blog from PRINZ sponsor, Getty Images.

‘Creative In Focus’: The photography trendbook looking over the shoulder of the present, to get a glimpse of the new ideas and flavours we expect imagery to grow into over the next year.

Creative in Focus | InFocus
Nadia Barmada, Content Marketing Manager at Getty Images

Engage in professional development – without leaving the office

8 Apr

PRIA webinars – available free to all PRINZ members

Shayna de la Rue, Communications Advisor – CPD, PRINZ

Thanks to PRIA (Public Relations Institute of Australia) PRINZ members (and staff!) have been attending topical and insightful training sessions over the past few months, all from the comfort of our office chairs. PRIA webinars have proven extremely popular so far, with an impressive number of local practitioners tuning in each month – way to show up the Aussies everyone!

If you haven’t had the chance to attend a webinar yet, here’s a brief overview of the topics and discussions I have enjoyed so far:

The great PR and media divideImage

In Friday’s (April 4) webinar, Warren Kirby, CEO of Wieck Australasia Online Newsrooms shared his insight from a survey undertaken by Wieck Australasia, which looked into PR perceptions vs media realities to find out if there’s a difference between what’s required and what’s being provided. Approximately 800 PR practitioners and media professionals completed the survey which presented fascinating results – I highly recommend you take a look at the survey findings.

Being skilled and knowledgeable is not enough

The second webinar (March 14), presented by Anne Gregory, Chair of the Global Alliance and co-author of the recently published book ‘Strategic Public Relations Leadership‘, covered the behaviours and traits of public relations leaders. Anne discussed some interesting topics including: understanding our strategic role – it might not be what you think it is, and being the organisational catalyst.

To receive a 20% discount when purchasing this book online (before 30 April), email Shayna at the PRINZ office for your special discount code.

What will it take to succeed in the PR industry in 2014?

Kicking off the PRIA webinar sessions (February 28), Trevor Young ‘the PR warrior’ discussed his theories on how agencies and practitioners can position themselves to take advantage of continuing changes in the media landscape.

“In a world where there is so much informational noise, not to mention opportunities peeking around every virtual corner, we have to take what we know and channel it into different strategies and tactical pursuits.” Trevor Young.

Check out Trevor’s website featuring blogs, media, podcasts and more.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Secret, Wickr, Vine, WhatsApp… Do you have a cohesive content strategy?

Book your place on the next webinar ‘Cross-platform and Integrated Social Media’ (May 2). This session will cover how leading organisations are leveraging innovative ways to create compelling content, and to publish it effectively across multiple channels.

PRINZ members – Click here to register for this free webinar.

The Female Gaze – a visual ‘Lean In’ from Getty Images

19 Mar

Pam Grossman – Director, Visual Trends, Getty Images

The right image can trigger an emotional response – make us feel differently, transform us.  Pictures have the ability to change not only how things look, but who we are.  “If you can see it, you can be it,” the phrase often goes.  And we’re seeing new images of powerful women and girls all around us, drawing us forward from the threshold of this decidedly female era.

Image: 183220827, Stephen Zeigler / Getty Images

Image: 183220827, Stephen Zeigler / Getty Images

Though the number of women in charge remains in the minority, it’s a number that’s growing steadily and visibly.  Time magazine and New York Times magazine made Hillary Clinton’s presidential run a cover story before she announced it herself.  Angela Merkel remains a constant face and force in the newscycle, and Janet Yellen just got sworn in as the first female head of the US Federal Reserve.

The word “feminist” is being taken back by such varied and vocal women as Rookie’s teen editor-in-chief Tavi Gevinson, best-selling British humorist Caitlin Moran, and of course, she-who-runs-the-world, Ms. Beyonce Knowles.  Elle UK magazine commissioned several ad agencies to help them “rebrand feminism”, and loud and proud feminists Tina Fey & Amy Poehler hosted the Golden Globes for the 2nd time in their 3 year contract, as Bing’s Heroic Women campaign played over commercial breaks.

A public dialog is happening about the way females want to be viewed, and it’s playing out in the commercial sphere as well.  Pantene’s “Labels Against Women” commercial went viral, and succinctly summed up the double standards that women are held to. Retailers like Aerie lingerie and David’s Bridal have embraced the real bodies trend. And the #notbuyingit app was launched just in time to call out sexist Super Bowl ads at the touch of a smartphone button.

We’re also seeing that films and television shows that feature female protagonists are not only inspiring – they’re more profitable.  Content behemoth Netflix recently announced that their primarily female-helmed original show, Orange is the New Black, is their most-watched original series.  These stories overturn antiquated notions that heroines don’t have crossover appeal.

Speaking of profit, we already know that women control $20 trillion in consumer spend globally, and they are the primary users of social media.  The online crafting mecca, Etsy, sold over $1 billion in merchandise last year, and the majority of their sellers – and buyers – are female.  And companies that appeal to female consumers specifically are starting to catch on, and are placing more women at the helm.

Other corporations definitely have a long way to go, though strides are being made there thanks to the likes of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman, and PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooryi.  Mary Bara was recently named Ford’s first female CEO, and was then spotlit by President Obama in his State of the Union address in January.  And Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s ground-breaking book on female empowerment, Lean In, celebrates its one-year publication this March, and has been a fixture on the New York Times bestseller list since its release.

On a related note, we’re proud to partner with Sheryl and her nonprofit, LeanIn.Org, via the Getty Images Lean In Collection.  It’s a jointly-curated library of exclusive Getty Images content that not only reflects the contemporary age we live in, but spurs us on to visualize an even better one.  It’s a space where females are equally celebrated for their life choices and diversity whether they’re students, businesspeople, athletes, aides, mentors, makers, mothers, partners, or none of the above.  Together, we’re aiming to highlight more positive, powerful images of women and girls in hopes that others will do the same in their campaigns and creative projects.

The optics on womanhood are changing for the better, one picture at a time.  We’re building a new world that’s populated by females who are strong and dynamic, vital and valued.

See you there.

Explore the Lean In Collection here.

About the Author

Pam Grossman – Director, Visual Trends, Getty Images

As a head of the global Creative Research team, Pam has unique insight into the meaning, application and impact of imagery – photographs, illustration and film – around the world today.  Using the information derived from researchers around the world and custom-designed forecasting methods, plus the wealth of data generated by, Pam is able to identify – and perhaps even helps to shape – the visual language of tomorrow.  The current and future trends identified in turn supply advertising, marketing and publishing professionals with imagery that will resonate strongly with target audiences and sway purchase decisions.

What makes a great communications leader?

11 Mar

Simone Bell, CEO PRINZ

“One third of it for me is skills, a third is character, and a third is being strategic.”
 Enel/GA Study participant (page 69)

ImagePRINZ members had the privilege of listening to Canadian practitioner and current ‘ambassador at large’ for the Global Alliance, Jean Valin recently. Jean spoke about the Enel/GA study he did with a colleague from the PRSA into a number of large multi-national companies (30,000+ staff), entitled ‘Who has seen the future?’ The study was done for the Global Alliance and supported by Enel. It can be downloaded here.

Jean began by outlining the seven core competencies which are described as ‘virtually universal’ but just a starting point for generating excellence.

They are:

  1. Research, plan, implement and evaluate communications programs and projects.
  2. Apply public relations/communication theories, models and practices. (*note: least supported by study participants)
  3. Apply public relations/communication strategies to business goals and objectives.
  4. Manage issues and crisis communications.
  5. Uphold professional standards and practice ethical behavior.
  6. Demonstrate communication skills (written, oral, presentation, negotiation, etc.).
  7. Effectively manage organizational communication resources (human, financial, technological, etc.)

In his presentation he then talked through each of the companies studied in depth and shared what emerged as attributes of an ideal communicator, in my opinion attributes of a communications leader, which across the five companies differed but emerged as:

  • Adaptable
  • Diplomatic
  • Passionate
  • Self-confident
  • Commitment
  • Professional appearance
  • Principles of an influencer
  • Relationship builder
  • Integrity
  • Credible/trusted
  • Committed to professional development (for them and teams)
  • Committed to being involved

The report also showed a consensus that senior communicators need to understand financial reporting, manage budgets, disclosure policies how the comms budget relates to other budgets and the overall company success.  Each of personal interest to me and an area most of us can upskill in.

Infographic - desired skills 2014Numerous competencies and attributes are listed in the report (pages 68-69), I’d encourage you to study these, ensure you have many of them and if not, work to develop them.

Click the image on the right to view ‘desired skills for prospective staff’ taken from the PRINZ 2012 Trends Survey.

If you have a commitment to professional development and are a PRINZ member, you may like to use your own findings from this study towards your RIVER CPD practicing certificate. If you’re not familiar with the PRINZ RIVER CPD programme, click here to visit our website for more information.

40th PRINZ Awards Facebook Live Chat

10 Mar

Rebecca Foote, Communiations Advisor – Membership at PRINZ.

On Tuesday 4 March 2014, PRINZ hosted a Facebook Live Chat with Chief Judge Anna Radford and the Awards team, Rebecca and Simone.40th PRINZ Awards

Members took the opportunity to ask questions related specifically to their entry. PRINZ also posted some top tips for entry throughout the chat. To view the Live Chat on Facebook, click here. A summary is below.

Top tip 1 – It’s easier to prepare your ‪#‎prinzawards draft offline, using spell check and word count.

Top tip 2 – Entries close at 4pm this year – on Monday 17 March and remember there are no extensions.

Top tip 3 – Use the ‘upload files’ link on your online entry form to upload visuals, logos and images related to your entry. These files will not be judged but may be used for the ‪#‎prinzawards ‘best of’ case studies compilation.

Top tip 4 – Was your ‪#‎prinzawards entry completed by a team? Use the ‘contributors’ link on your online entry form to add team members from your organisation. You will be asked to identify if the team member was the lead on the project or a contributor. Email the PRINZ office to add team members who are not from your organisation.

Top tip 5 – Ensure someone else reads your entry before you submit it – preferably someone who was not involved in the project to cast a fresh eye over it.

Top tip 6 – Remember there is a strict word count limitation on entries, so use each section’s score allocation as a guideline on how much information to provide.

Q: Hey PRINZ, I’m still a bit unsure about the difference between Marketing PR & Marketing Integrated – can you please provide a bit more info about how to decide if the entry fits the Marketing Integrated category?

A: The ‘Marketing Communications – Integrated’ category is for entrants who were responsible for the public relations component of a project, AND at least one other discipline – such as but not limited to, social media, advertising or marketing/experiential.
If the campaign itself was integrated but you only worked on the public relations component it may be best suited to ‘Marketing Communications – PR’ category.

Q: Thinking about the ‘Not for profit’ category: we are using training sessions to improve member compliance. These also enhance relationships and reputation. Does this kind of training count as experiential communication for the awards?

A: When we use the term ‘Experiential’ we are referring to marketing-related comms or product promotion pr. The training scenario you describe here should include in your entry along with the other communication channels used.

Q: Hi there. I’m keen to get further elaboration on what you need in the ‘acknowledgment of other disciplines’ section at the end, and the purpose of this optional question, to help me answer it in the most helpful way for the judges.

A: In this section you will need to state the role of any other communication or related discipline involved. For example, advertising, marketing, direct marketing, digital, experiential, social media etc. You must answer this section and if there were no other disciplines involved you will need to state this. The purpose of this section is to inform the judges of the context and degree of the PR practitioners involvement in the work entered.

Follow up question: The degree of OTHER practitioner’s involvement?

A: You can acknowledge other PR practitioners who contributed to the project by adding them as ‘contributors’ to the project. Please view the instructions on how to do this by clicking the ‘contributors’ link on your online entry. Remember: only contributors who are PRINZ members will be acknowledged on the Award if you are a finalist, highly commended or winner.

Q: We would like to enter an experiential campaign into the special event or project category. Our brief was to drive trial and improve preference scores for two particular products solely through experiential activity. Would this be an appropriate category to enter this in to? Our sole remit was to drive trial and increase preference so did not include traditional PR requirements e.g. media engagement.

A: Based on what you say here this could be entered in Special event/project or possibly Marketing Communications – PR. Are you able to give a brief indication of the type of experiential activity involved so we can be more specific in our advice? Anna

Follow up question:  More specifically this involved encouraging the public to physically trial the products by working with a promotional team in a targeted location.

A: In this case, we think Special Event/Project is best suited.

Q: I am the only member of PRINZ at my organisation, but this was a communications team project. Can I make the entry on the team’s/organisation’s behalf?

A: You will need to be very clear about your role so the judges understand the degree and nature of your contribution. You can add non-members as ‘contributors’ at the time of entry but they will not be recognised as winners. Of course, our advice would be for the team to join PRINZ :)

Q: For the limited budget category, does the budget need to cover the integrated project as a whole, or can it be for the PR specific element – including any PR related fixed/hard costs?

A: It is the judges expectation that the PR component is not disproportionately smaller than the projects other elements. PR, including any giveaways and promotions, should not exceed $10,000.

Follow up question: I take it we do not have to calculate the value of our time (working in-house).

A: The description of the category does state “so that there is a level playing field between in-house practitioners and consultancies, the budget must include hours involved and the financial value (internal employee cost) of those hours.” For in-house where time sheets may not be kept, an indication of hours will be sufficient.

Follow up question: We tend to have significantly smaller budgets in comparison to other campaign elements Despite PR playing a major role from the start. Do we then need to enter these sorts of projects into Integrated Marketing Communications?

A: It is hard to know without the detail, but if a project has a large overall budget, despite your portion being limited (less than $10k) it would likely not be in the ‘spirit’ of the limited budget category. See categories here for more options:

Q: Hi, we have two projects in mind for the Government or Quasi Government Public Relations section, one of which may have only a part-PR component, will this be a problem? Or should any entry be PR-centric?

A:  That won’t be a problem provided that you are clear about PR’s role within the campaign’s wider context. Your entry should focus on the PR portion of the campaign. But do acknowledge the other disciplines where relevant.

Q: If we are a local government organisation, but our project fits both the government/quasi government PR, and the special event or project criteria do you have any recommendations on which category we should enter?

A: A close read of the category descriptors will help you decide the best fit. You could also take a look here for an analysis of categories entered over the past few years:

Thanks everyone for joining this live chat on the ‪#‎prinzawards. Good luck!

For more information on the PRINZ Awards see the Awards section of the PRINZ website.


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