Events that shaped me | West Sussex Health PR Blog

 

I was in my early twenties when I first saw what professionally trying to ‘dodge the bullet’ looked like…

I was attending a meeting of very senior professionals (clients) in London, who following a serious failure in the system, were all in agreement that at the forthcoming public inquiry they would not give any media interviews and would literally stay quiet and disappear out of a side door at the end.

I can still remember not quite believing what I was hearing and willing one person to challenge the decision. You don’t have to be in PR to realise that you have to be accountable for your actions, especially in a position of seniority.

It was left to me, sweaty palms and all, to stand up at one of the largest boardroom tables known to man and explain why they should ditch their plan and instead prepare to do as many interviews as the media asked for.

Avoiding media suicide

After a bit of coughing and shuffling, they reluctantly agreed. I’m still proud of my younger self for that one – it was terrifying at the time, but I knew their plan would be media suicide and more importantly, it was fundamentally wrong not to take responsibility.

They got pretty fair treatment from the media. It was balanced reporting and even though it was critical, they were able to explain their position and comment on the report. They were also able to explain what measures they were introducing to avoid the situation happening again. Without giving a Press Conference they wouldn’t have been able to do that.

It was critically important for anyone affected by the incident, the organisations involved, their community, other stakeholders and tax payers that they were communicating and accessible. It helps to rebuild trust. It shows you appreciate the seriousness of the incident and you care.

Ultimately, we’re all accountable for our actions, or we should be.

The right approach

Not communicating would have been the very worst thing they could have done that day, even though it was difficult to face the media, it was the right thing for them to do.

In the run up the day the inquiry report was published, I made sure they received the right support, help with answering media enquiries, writing statements, arranging interviews for them to take part in, media briefing and training.

I’m pretty easy going but I won’t ever go along with something I feel is the wrong approach just to keep the client happy.  After all no one would thank me if I didn’t take pre-emptive steps to limit any possible negative coverage and to ensure both sides of the situation were reported on.

I learned that about myself three decades ago in a board room in London J

About you

Are you running your own business or important project and feeling overwhelmed by how to manage the communications?

Do you feel frustrated that your key news isn’t reaching your target audience?

Are you stressing that your communications are disjointed and that you’re missing valuable PR opportunities?

Are you worried that your tone and branding aren’t consistent?

Do you spend evenings and weekends trying to do your own promotion and need to reclaim your life?

Do you want your LinkedIn profile to help you to attract your ideal client? Do you want to get leads after people have read your posts, come across your profile or connected with you? Are you short of time or don’t have the expertise – or both? I can help you to reach your ideal clients by making your profile and summary resonate, by connecting and building your following. My LinkedIn development packages start at £250

Whether you need someone to write a Press Release, run your Communications function, deal with media calls, rewrite part of your website or write tailored social media, I can help!

This is Hugo Spowers, client, taking part in an interview after media picked up on the Press Release I wrote and issued.

About me

From monthly PR packages starting at £397 and Blogs costing £250, draft me in as your virtual communications and PR manager, I bring many years of experience and deliver a professional service to just a handful of clients at a time.

I offer:

✅   Professional, proactive and reactive PR and communications support?

✅   Help to raise your profile and content perfectly tailored to your audience?

✅   Valuable media coverage worth 2.5X advertising space?

✅   Increased credibility in your sector?

✅   A higher online profile through effective website, social media and media?

✅   LinkedIn Content to attract your ideal clients

Why me?

I love my job and when we work together I become an invested partner in the success of your organisation.

Since setting up my boutique agency in 2015, I have worked with several leading public and private sector organisations, managing highly-successful campaigns in the healthcare, social care, recruitment, education and sustainable technology sectors.

Drawing on my experience as a PR and Communications Manager and former journalist, I work with companies and organisations of all sizes, fulfilling their communication needs.

I have helped website traffic increase by 250%, gained national newspaper, magazine and television coverage and supported three successful crowdfunding campaigns with PR, raising over £2 million. I have provided Press Office cover, dealt with countless media enquiries, written publications and helped successfully manage negative online comments.

I provide a tailored service to just a handful of clients at a time, ensuring you have the benefit of my many years’ experience in the industry.

Are you in?

Book in for 15 minutes of my time to ask me anything you want about your PR, communication and marketing calendly.com/ckellypr

Still unsure?

Read some of my testimonials:

“Gaining features in relevant and well-regarded publications helps to build trust in our business and therefore encourage new customers to try our products. This was OjO’s first ever PR campaign and Cathy was an extremely reliable and invested partner in our success. Ultimately, we successfully funded our crowdfunding campaign and we believe that getting PR coverage early on in the campaign was a key driver of the success of the campaign.”

Freja Smith, Learn with OjO Marketing Manager

“When we wanted to publicise the launch of our new company, Cathy was my first choice as she’d previously been my global PR manager, was extremely capable and good to work with. Thanks to her experience and skills, we gained some fantastic national coverage within our target industry and were offered a valuable speaking opportunity at a prestigious event.”

Tim Richards, CEO, Future Resume

“Working with Cathy on various communication projects within West Sussex County Council was an absolute pleasure. Her knowledge, professionalism and skills allowed us to create positive key messages and quality items for publication and printed resources. I would recommend her to anyone needing a consummate professional to deliver both strategic and operational projects, effectively communicating with different stakeholder groups throughout.”

Sarah Dimmock, West Sussex County Council

“We engaged Cathy recently to provide extra support to our company whilst staff were on holiday. She was previously employed by us for a couple of years, so we knew we could be assured of a high standard of work complemented by a pleasant, efficient demeanour; she is a pleasure to work with.”

Stephanie Lee, Jonathan Street Public Relations, London

I’ve been working with Cathy for nearly 1.5 years, after she was recommended to me.  She writes and manages all our social media, advising on the best channels and specifically focuses on LinkedIn and writing our Blogs. She is experienced and knowledgeable, especially about using LinkedIn as a marketing tool, which is a big plus.  She also advises how to best use our marketing budget and which activities to focus on. She regularly steps in with an expert perspective on specific projects, such as content for adverts and helping us to overhaul the website – rewriting key pages and advising on the best design. She’s kept up to date with the latest marketing tools, which is good news for her clients. She’s proactive, professional and provides an excellent communications and PR service.  “

Dermot Kennedy, partner, Giltinan & Kennedy LLP

“Cathy helped us to reach new audiences and build SEO backlinks around our Kickstarter campaign. On top of this, she provided invaluable expertise for how to choose the right images and messaging, and emphasised the importance of having research and evidence to back the PR story and help increase our chances of success.”

Freja Smith, Learn with OjO Marketing Manager

“Since starting work with Catherine Kelly PR our media presence has jumped about 10 fold. Cathy is able to advise on how to go about securing the best coverage and has used a variety of channels, resulting in both print and radio coverage. She also set up and established our social media presence which has grown in a short space of time – giving us valuable extra exposure.”

Ian Inglis, Bluebird Care

“I worked with Catherine Kelly PR and was exceptionally impressed. I had attempted to use a couple of other PR services, but the results were disappointing.  During our first three months,  she secured a number of PR opportunities, including several newspaper articles, radio interview, monthly column and a large magazine feature.  Not only this, but she is knowledgeable about social media, blogging and speaking engagements.  She listened carefully at our first meeting and assessed my needs – and then drew up a tailored plan to meet them.  Our budget is fixed, with the opportunity for flexibility where required, so I have peace of mind.  I would not hesitate to recommend Catherine Kelly PR.  She is a delightful person with whom to work and a total professional.”

Miranda Banks, Director, Smartivate and Excel in Exams

“I know the wellbeing team are really pleased with the coverage they are getting and it’s great to see the Health Champions name in the press so much. People can see the good work that is going on.  You have made such a difference to raising the profile.  I only wish we had you on board sooner!”

Karen Dennison, Director, Health Champions Training

“I have found Catherine Kelly’s PR service invaluable. Catherine quickly understood my business requirements; produced a plan to meet them including an agreed price and delivered a high quality product, to budget and within the agreed timeframe. Throughout the process Catherine was great to work with; and I would definitely recommend her work to others looking for a professional, high quality, PR service.”

Nikki Gibbins, Director, Achieving Together

Let’s chat, calendly.com/ckellypr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Events that shaped me | West Sussex Health PR Blog

October’s Hot Five Business Tips

Summer is over and 2019 is just three months away – so buckle up… here’s October’s Hot Five  Business Tips.

Since the start of 2018, I have been working regularly with marketing guru and business mentor Nicola Cairncross and I’d like to share some of the valuable “golden nuggets” from our combined 40+ years in marketing, PR and communications.

1. Do something to move your business forward every day

This is one of the most valuable lessons I have learned since starting my own business. From meeting a business contact, sharing a story in a relevant social media post, networking, working on a new business proposal and regularly updating your website – investing time and money in your business on an ongoing basis is important and it pays off if done properly.

Make sure you are open to the next opportunity.  Keep your shopfront (website and social media) bang up to date and relevant. Take the buying journey that a prospective customer would and check that it is seamless.

Things are always evolving, so investing and moving with the changes is part of the rollercoaster of running your own business.  It never ends!

Don’t let yourself off the hook – if you have a weekly call with your mentor – do what you need to do before the call – be accountable.

2. Build your team

Whether it’s working with other experts or asking a business contact or trusted friend for their input into a new idea, it’s important to feel part of a team and to collaborate.

This year, due to my brilliant former colleague, Lyndall, having new commitments, I have delegated differently. As well as existing contacts, I have worked with several different people who each have very specific experience and skills. Some I discovered via sites like People Per Hour.  In addition, a friend shot my videos and a contact of a contact edited them.

This has resulted in additional expertise to the business and it’s also freed me up to do other things. I’ve given talks to other businesses, started writing a regular magazine column and it’s allowed me to devote more time to finding new business.

Because I have been able to stop focusing solely on the job in hand and to ‘look up’, I have a better grasp of the business landscape and what I need to do next.

3. Step outside your comfort zone

At the start of 2018 I said to myself I would be braver and bolder in my business. So I faced some of my demons and made a series of little videos addressing some of the “business pains” that organisations often face.

Making the videos benefited me and my business in so many ways and it also taught me what I suspected – that helping others to achieve their goals is what gives me the ultimate satisfaction.

I also ventured into the world of Facebook advertising and thanks to my mentor, learnt a whole lot about that. I also worked with a talented web developer who has run several businesses. I have applied some of his vast knowledge, not only to my business, but also to my clients’ organisations.

I’ve come to the conclusion that many of us fear the unknown and that often stops us taking that next step. Don’t let it – just prepare thoroughly.

4. Invest in your business

Early in 2018, when business was quieter, I spent time making the videos, advertising and rewriting and updating my website so it was easier to use and more informative.

It took a lot of time and some money, but ultimately it has paid dividends as my website is my shopfront and it subsequently attracted new clients.

I learnt a lot from the process. I found stepping out of my comfort zone on an almost daily basis and having to learn various Apps from scratch REALLY difficult and it often felt uncomfortable having to admit I knew very little when I was used to knowing what I was doing. But it was ultimately worth it. I adopted new ways of working and new skills that benefited both my own and my clients’ businesses.

If you are time poor, you can delegate these types of tasks – just don’t NOT do them.

5. Build credibility

It’s simple really. You have to be consistently good at whatever you do and then find a way to communicate that – by sharing your expertise with others.

Whether it’s through publicity and editorial pieces, Instagram, Twitter or video using YouTube and forums like TED Talks, raising your business profile and credibility through good public relations can help to increase your reach without paying for advertising space.

Editorial space is deemed to be worth 2.5 times more than paid for space as it carries more weight, authority and credibility, so it’s worth thinking about ways that you can share what you know.

Go where your audience is watching/listening/reading and share your information there. Don’t sell – offer help and advice.

If you’re a person who prefers to watch rather than read – you can watch the short video on Building Credibility.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October’s Hot Five Business Tips

Five Tips For Crisis Communications

Cathy Kelly runs through five key tips to get prepared for a crisis. She also talks practically about how best to look after your team in a crisis situation and how to avoid the mistakes her and her teams made when managing a crisis.

Sign up for my ‘What’s Hot in the World of PR’ newsletter and get free resources including a Crisis Contingency Plan home page.

I’ll be sharing other free resources with you over the coming weeks and months. You can also subscribe to my YouTube channel to keep up to date with the latest resources.

FULL TRANSCRIPT
Today I’m going to be talking to you about how you manage and prepare for a potential communications crisis. So it could be something along the lines of staff redundancies, it could be a major health outbreak, or it could be a security breach. But effectively it’s something where you want to contain and control some of the messages going out. A lot of this you can prepare in advance believe it or not.

I am a former journalist and I’ve also got around 20 years’ experience of working with, and writing for the media on major media campaigns. But I’ve also worked in house with various organisations including hospitals and different health trusts. I’ve dealt with some of these situations myself and there’s nothing like first-hand experience to know what you’re talking about and to learn from your mistakes and we did make some mistakes.

So the first time I had to deal with a crisis it was something which came out of the blue for one of the major London hospitals we worked for at the time. We were literally were glued to the telephones dealing with media inquiries and giving interviews for around 10 hours. During that time we didn’t eat enough, drink enough or even go to the loo enough. So we learnt by the end of it that, that’s really not how you do it. In terms of managing the situation in terms of communication materials that we gave out and shared with the media, we did a good job. But we didn’t do a good job of looking after ourselves.

So one of the key things is to look after your team in a crisis. To make sure that you have people being runners and feeding them, giving them drinks, letting them having toilet breaks. It sounds really basic, but those things are incredibly important.

The second time I had to deal with a crisis I was on my day off, and I had young kids, and I ended up having a little incident room in my kitchen, in my house. So I was dealing with national journalists and dealing with a measles outbreak. But because I had frequently asked questions already written and prepared in case that happened. Because I had holding statements and because I had details of journalists, it didn’t panic me so much because I had everything to hand. I also had details of other directors and I had their contact details.

So what I would say first is to look at your communication channels and to make sure that you have as much in place as you possibly can. You need to look at internal communication channels, because the first people you should be trying to reach are your staff, because they’re going to be having to deal with this with you, and they’re also going to be reacting to it, and potentially reading about it, or watching it on the news. So you need to find a way, or find different ways of reaching different groups of staff in the best possible way. This may be through email, through your intranet, through cascade systems within your organisation, with managers’ briefings. All sorts of things that you may have in place. So tap into those and have things written in advance if you can to actually make things as quick and easy as possible for you, so you’re just slotting in the details specific to your incident.

The other things you need to think about are the external systems that you have in place. So you’re effectively going to be using things like social media, your website, and the media, in terms of issuing holding statements and possibly press releases about the incident, which has taken place. So you need to make sure that you have all these things set up in advance.
Towards the end of the video I’m going to be sharing a free resource with you. It’s a media crisis template plan, so that you can apply to your own organisation. So look at maybe areas, which you should be addressing and things that you need to focus on. To make sure that you’re as ready as you possibly can be. Because by being ready you really take the heat out of an incident, because when it strikes, it strikes without any warning. That sounds very obvious, but you need to make it as least stressful as possible for you, because it will be pretty frantic. You won’t have time to think about other things.

One of the things I wanted to focus on a little bit was what should actually go into your media contingency plan. So this will be all the telephone contact numbers for all the people that may be useful for you in that situation. So it’ll be people like your communications manager and director, the different directors responsible for perhaps different parts of the organisation. Key people that you need to be able to contact in a crisis.

You also need to think about your key media contacts, who are the media that you have on side that you trust, that you can use to your advantage and to brief in these situations. Also media who you need to reach who perhaps you don’t have those relationships with. Have them all in your plan so that everything’s to hand, it’s easy as possible for you, and is quick to reach the people you need to reach with your messages.

You also need to split the incidents into different types of incidents. So for example here we have a critical media inquiry with a camera on site. So someone’s pitched up, they’ve heard about something that’s happened, perhaps it’s a security breach, or a potential bomb alert. They’ve turned up with a TV crew, so you need to be able to react to them very quickly. You need to know what to do when that happens. So for each incident you have a page in your plan. So if that thing happens you pull out the page, and you run through the process. You’re not having to think on the hoof, you’re not having to make it up as you go along. It’s ready, it’s prepared for you. You’re taking the heat out of the incident.

You also can maybe look at things like a riot or a major disturbance. Perhaps you might have a death on your premises or in one of your stores. It may be a fire or a bomb alert, or even damage to property. So you have emergency checklist, and you work through those checklists. By following a particular checklist you are reacting to it in a way, which you feel comfortable and in a timely fashion.

Five Tips to Prepare For Crisis Communications