Five things I’ve learnt after five years at Wrights

- Erin Mitchell (originally posted Sep 27 2018)

I recently celebrated an exciting career milestone – five years of working at Wrights.

My work anniversary has given me an opportunity to reflect on my time at Wrights; my achievements, experiences, and the challenges I’ve overcome; and, ultimately what I’ve learnt and can share with others about working in the PR industry.

Honesty is the best policy

If there is one thing that can help you build a solid reputation, it’s being honest. If there’s one thing that can destroy it, it’s being caught in a lie. Credibility in PR is a major asset. Always be transparent to your colleagues, the media and especially your clients. If you do make a mistake - own it. Everyone makes mistakes, and admitting you’re flawed is a way to earn the respect of others and form connections with the people you work with. Telling the truth also means you have nothing to fear or hide from, and helps build respect and longevity, which is invaluable in the PR industry.

Team work makes the dream work

In my role at Wrights, I’ve been fortunate enough to work alongside some great people, and have always found that the best work is produced when we come together as a team. Being in a creative industry, team work fosters a constant flow of creative ideas and opportunities to collaborate. It also helps everyone remain accountable, as you rely on each other to stay motivated, meet deadlines and achieve desired outcomes. And most importantly, you ride the highs and lows together. If something isn’t working, you work together to come up with a solution and celebrate every success as a team success.

Things don’t always go to plan

No matter how prepared you think you are, I’ve discovered that sometimes things are bound to happen that are beyond your control. A spokesperson can pull out, media interviews fall through, announcements are postponed, campaign objectives change, deadlines are missed, a venue falls through and even the weather can put a stop to your plans! The most successful PR people are those who can adapt and be flexible in any situation and remain cool in a crisis.

Relationships are key

If you’re in the PR business, then you’re in the business of relationships. The relationships you build with your team, your clients, your suppliers and your media contacts are critical to your success in the industry. Relationships are built on trust and respect, which takes a high degree of diligence, knowledge and strong communication. It’s about making an effort to understand what people want, and then going above and beyond to deliver it. Not only will it make you a reliable and indispensable resource, but you can also count on your relationships to help you out when you need them most.

Never stop learning

The PR industry is constantly evolving, and as a PR professional it’s part of your job to be aware of what’s happening in the industry and emerging trends in order to stay relevant and provide these skills and insights to your clients. Not only is this beneficial to you as a professional, but also to your workplace. Agency life is competitive and relevancy is key to staying on top of the game. Continue to challenge yourself, to ask questions and embrace constructive criticism, as it will allow you to learn and develop professionally.

Douglas Wright
Gain Credibility by Listening

(Originally posted Apr 1 2019)

Who was it that thought of giving a card to someone you love on February 14? How did champagne become the victory drink of most sporting events? When did BHP become the big Australian and who first said Have It Your Way?

They weren’t all the same person, but they were the same type of person. Someone who knew that a big idea was campaignable; that if it was good enough it would have memorability and longevity; and, all this happened long before social media, but the power of the original concept was strong enough to survive and be amplified by social media.

Wrights understands the value of creative thinking and its contribution to delivering earned media and knows how to come up with big ideas that make memories and move markets.

Ideation is probably the biggest single difference between our 30-year-old innovative firm and those who have come and gone before us. Even today, Wrights stands out with its big ideas and inventive approach to earned media. We have worked with some great clients, great agencies and great technicians to help deliver campaigns that move the needle.

Quite often the differences between two sides in an argument are not as great as they first appear. But it usually takes one side to make the initial approach. This can be daunting and there is no guarantee that the other side will welcome any engagement.

This was the situation faced by Wrights and one of our big energy clients. The ‘other side’ was hard to define. Outwardly, it was all those people opposed to energy. But who is opposed to energy?

The definition of the other side needed to be redefined as ‘those concerned about how energy is harvested or generated’.

The big idea in this case was not to find out how to deal with the other side or what arguments would sway them, but rather to determine who the other side was and what inspired them.

Along with our client, we spoke with journalists, politicians, activists, allies, students and pretty much anyone who wanted to express an opinion on energy. We met face to face, in groups, through correspondence and at town halls. We listened to their opinions, their gripes and sometimes their praise and began to understand what they wanted and what was required in order to be accepted as a responsible player in the energy sector.

This simple big idea - a travelling road show of active listening with no hidden agenda - enabled our client to plan for the future, considering the wishes of the people who would be using their energy.

It became a shared journey and if our client ever ventured off track, people knew they could knock on the door, pick up the phone or send an email and have their view heard and acted upon.

Listening is a big idea not employed by enough people these days. Achieving a respected corporate identity is one of the best ways to be accepted by the communities that impact your business.

Douglas Wright
'Escape the Gaol' at the Old Melbourne Gaol

Wrights was tasked with helping the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) increase visitation to the Old Melbourne Gaol during the busy December/January school holiday period. Targeted towards children and their families, ‘Escape the Gaol’ was introduced exclusively for the holiday period, providing something new and interesting to capture the attention of media and drive domestic attendance.

In order to showcase the Gaol’s unique and experiential offering to attract visitors, Wrights implemented a strategic media relations plan.  

Wrights developed media materials that were distributed to leading news, parenting and lifestyle publications and event listing websites. The media materials focused on the new, limited-edition  ‘Escape the Gaol’ experience and positioned it as the must-do activity for kids to do on the school holidays.

In addition, Wrights coordinated an event to celebrate the launch of ‘Escape the Gaol’ and invited a small selection of mummy bloggers and lifestyle influencers to attend with their children. The children participated in the activity and influencers were encouraged to capture and share content on their social media channels with their followers.

The campaign focused extensively on securing ‘What’s On’ listings with a number of key news, tourism, parenting and lifestyle media. Coverage included pieces in Herald Sun, The Age, City of Melbourne, The Urban List, TimeOut Melbourne, Visit Victoria, Weekend Notes and Star Weekly. Collectively, over 25 pieces of media coverage were secured, reaching an audience of over 7 million.

The ‘Escape the Gaol’ influencer event resulted in 39 social media posts, with 1,980 engagments and an audience reach of over 230,000.

As a result of the PR activity, the NTAV noted a significant increase in visitation to the Gaol for the duration of the campaign, which hit a record high on Friday, 29 December 2017 – three days after ‘Escape the Gaol’ officially launched.  

Douglas Wright
Are you an influencer because you say you are?

Social media remains all the rage with communicators at the moment.  It is effective in some cases, no doubt, but how effective is the question.

Advertising great, David Ogilvy is quoted as saying the advertising business is infested with idiots who try to impress by using pretentious jargon. 

Social media is infested with wannabes who don’t believe in what they are selling.  Many ‘influencers’ will post anything for a price. 

Ogilvy also said one in 100 advertising campaigns were a success.  I would think this number is stretched even further with social media campaigns.  Maybe one in a thousand.

So is it worth trying to sell through influencers? 

Nearly three-quarters of buyers who are connected online use social media for guidance on purchase decisions, some studies suggest. 

Other data is used to claim that 4 in 10 people say they purchased an item online, following support by an influencer. If this is true, it means that social media and influencer marketing are potentially very powerful tools that cannot be ignored.

Some online influencers have traction in informing consumers on how they view brands, at least with some audiences.

In using online influencers and social media, it is important to ensure that the influencer reflects the same values as your brand and that they are in-tune with the people with whom you need to connect.

But most importantly, you have to understand what success looks like.  Is it likes or followers or sales or increased awareness?  If you don’t have meaningful key performance indicators for an influencer campaign, you might as well keep your money in the bank.




Douglas Wright