Bec Tape is an Account Director at communikate et al, a national integrated marketing communications agency with offices in Adelaide and Brisbane. She has worked agency-side for her entire 18-year PR career and most of that time has been with communikate et al.
communikate does a lot of design work with clients. Is this something clients come to expect from a modern PR firm, or is it a pleasant surprise? We don’t see ourselves as a traditional PR firm – we operate as an integrated marketing communications agency offering PR, marketing communications, digital, stakeholder and community engagement and graphic design.
For as long as I can remember we have been involved in design projects for our clients, and over the past two years, the demand became so great that we brought the capability in-house.
The majority of our work spans marketing communications, so we’re developing the marketing strategy and then implementing it, from designing the brand, to building the website, writing the copy, designing the collateral, managing the media, including social media and digital advertising, facilitating workshops with key stakeholder groups and creating and managing events. Graphic design interplays beautifully with all these services and it means we can ensure the highest level of consistency in our client’s brands.
Do you think PR firms do enough work on their own PR? It’s interesting how the prevailing attitude towards ‘PR for your PR firm’ has changed – and for the better. Like any other business, we can and should promote ourselves, although from a publicity point of view, we concentrate on telling the good stories of our clients because, to be honest, that’s where we feel the focus should be. The other facets of PR such as social media, blogs, seminars, leveraging strategic industry partnerships etc. are all activities we put a lot of energy into. Like anything, there could always be more. Often we’re so busy putting all these things into practice for our clients, we’re left with little time to do it for ourselves!
It’s interesting how the prevailing attitude
towards ‘PR for your PR firm’ has changed
For a few years now, there’s been talk that “the media release is dead”. What’s your experience?
We feel there’s still a place for media releases but we judge it on a case-by-case basis. It depends on the client, their business, the subject you’re seeking media coverage for and the type of media we’re targeting. There are some media outlets who wouldn’t even consider touching it unless it was laid out in a way they could easily run with, whereas at other times, a simple email pitch and phone call does the job just as effectively.
The complexity of the subject and how many media outlets you are targeting also has to come into play. If it’s an announcement that will have an impact on a broader audience and therefore needs to go out to multiple journalists (still targeted, not scattergun), then a media release or alert is often required. Likewise if it’s complex subject matter where there’s no room for error in the detail, you need to spell it out either in a release and/or backgrounder so the data is in writing and leaves no room for error or misinterpretation. Ultimately it’s about assessing each situation and deciding the best approach to generate the results clients are expecting.
What’s one PR tactic you think many organisations overlook?
We find there’s a common trap clients fall into where they go to an agency with a challenge and are recommended singular solutions because that’s what fits with the agency’s particular skill set, rather than looking for the best overall solution to the problem. I also feel there’s still a lack of understanding about the role of digital and therefore it tends not to be as top of mind as it should be for some organisations.
There are some media outlets who wouldn’t even consider touching
it unless it was laid out in a way they could easily run with
Can you tell us about a campaign you’ve enjoyed working on?
What I love about working in an agency is the diversity in the clients and the work we do for them. Over the past 18 years I have been involved in the launch of a new V8 team ahead of Clipsal 500; hosted the MD of McDonald’s Australia for media briefings; conducted media calls for actors and directors ahead of film screenings; put the spotlight on numerous good causes from leukaemia to family carers; advocated for older South Australians; named and rebranded organisations; managed the media and communications for shopping centre fires, workplace accidents and exploding pipelines; gained international media exposure for a leading design practice and helped launch the first iPhone, among many other things.
It’s exciting, complex and diverse. All projects have required different approaches, tools and tactics across our full service offering. Each and every client and campaign has its own unique set of challenges and, of course, learnings. Personally, while I can’t pin point one, I enjoy digging deep to understand the challenge, identify what’s required and proactively drive those actions to realisation. I get a buzz out of our work making a genuine difference to our clients, as well as the collaboration that naturally needs to exist within integrated projects.
How do you keep up with media outlets and opportunities – tell us about your media consumption habits. Despite my work being spread across a range of service areas, not just publicity, it’s super important to remain in touch with what’s happening locally, nationally and even internationally. The media (both news and specialist) provides an important source of information to help us proactively influence our clients with strategic advice and direction. My consumption habits span radio talkback on the way into work to get the news of the day, The Advertiser, Australian and AFR and InDaily. In addition I subscribe to a lot of online news updates from specialist media that relates to my clients as well as the marketing/PR/advertising industry.
From a publicity point of view, media outlets are constantly evolving from changes in reporters, together with new sections, themes or special focuses that can be tapped into for clients. We monitor the media constantly to ensure our clients are aware of any coverage achieved on their behalf or any stories that are of interest to them, ensuring it’s in their inboxes as it happens.
Time for a fun question: what do you think of hot cross buns being available in stores just after Christmas? I’m all for it!