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Industry Insight with Kelly Edmonds

Posted 21st January 2010

Welcome to the Industry Insights section of B-Hive. Over the next few months we will be interviewing some of Birmingham’s most successful PR, Marketing, Creative and Digital professionals – the B-Hive employers!

Today we’re interviewing Kelly Edmonds, Senior Account Manager at Willoughby Public Relations with a little help from @sarahmess81.

What is the difference between PR and Marketing?

Many people think of PR and Marketing as the same thing but there are some key differences.

Marketing is very client and brand driven and its core desire is to reach certain markets and consumers, through strategies such as direct contact and databases. Public Relations is generally a softer, gentler approach that aims to gradually change perspectives over time. PR is more focused on influencing reputation by understanding and telling the brand and companies stories.

PR deals with the human element and the use of social media as a tool has allowed PR to come into its own. Willoughby PR recently promoted Warwick Castle’s Christmas Campaign by auctioning off the unique opportunity to spend Christmas Day in Warwick Castle. We attracted 20,000 followers on ebay and this in turn attracted both national and international press attention. The use of social media allowed us to do something different and grab people’s attention helping to put Warwick on the map.

Both PR and Marketing hinge on understanding audiences and communicating in the most effective way for the brand and company. @sarahmess81 Question:
What are the strategic and tactical digital communications skills needed to get ahead in PR?

PR can be quite jargon led so in order to get ahead you must first have a sound understanding of PR and digital communication, what they are and what they can do.

Some people assume that digital is separate from the traditional methods of PR such as press releases, and not part of the conventional communication plan. However digital is an extension of an already sound communication program, allowing brands to be positioned in a new, modern way.

Having awareness is important but so is getting involved and practicing what you read. You can start by following PR companies blogs and online campaigns. Think about why they’re using Facebook, who are they trying to reach and what benefit will it have? Nowadays there are plenty of online opportunities to put your theories into practice as part of an ever increasing online social blogger community.

A sound understanding however remains the most important skill to a PR practitioner as we are expected to know the best methods for our clients to reach their target audience. Sometimes clients will assume that they need a Facebook or Twitter account because they are the current buzzwords. It is our job to guide our clients into the era of social media whilst ensuring that this is what they really need and it’s reaching their correct audience.

But remember traditional PR methods haven’t gone away or been substituted by digital communications, only enhanced by them. @sarahmess81 Question:
What is the role of social media in crisis management?

The most important thing to remember about social media is that it is instant. With such a large online community people can leave positive and negative responses to things immediately so you have to learn to be very reactive, especially with the negative comments.

The most important thing is to react quickly. The best way to do this is to have a plan in place to deal with any crisis that may develop. By having approved statements or comments you can immediately release a considered, measured effective response which protects both the brand and the company. It is imperative that you are honest about who you are and how you intend to deal with the situation as if you try to be too forceful you could aggravate the situation, with such a large online audience one bad comment could quickly grow out of proportion.

Some companies have internal practices that they generally adhere to following criticism but with social media these rules have to go out of the window as a quick response is the most important response in crisis management. 

We’re interviewing Emma Gray from Marketing Birmingham next. If you have any questions that you’d like to ask Emma then please direct message them to our B-Hive twitter at

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