MF Communication is a Belfast PR & Marketing Communications agency that provides corporate and brand PR and Marketing solutions to clients in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Services range from proactive marketing, PR and stakeholder relations to crisis communications and corporate reputation management.

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The gobal online media distribution company, Vocus, has published its annual report into the State of PR and it makes for interesting reading indeed. As well as busting some of the myths about content marketing and blogging, it does recognise the inexorable move towards embracing digital as a fundamental definition of PR today. Yet what is less clear is how strategic some of the practises out there are. The last line of the report says it all, "PR practitioners will be challenged to cut through the noise with the right mix of strategy, creativity, channels and campaigns."

CIPR has just recently published a great guide to modernising a PR or in-house team. Written by Stephen Waddington, a Chartered PR Practitioner himself with a London-based PR firm it has got to be one of the best publications of its kind to come out of CIPR this year. He proposes four key business principles for a PR operation fit for the 21st Century. These centre around the spheres of Media Relations, Influencer Relations, Community and Social Business. It's a great health check for anyone managing or implementing activities in each of these areas in order to progress their brand or corporate/organisational goals. There are also some very easy, straightforward tips on how to match internal skills and expertise to the changing external communications landscape.

Guinness recently announced it was sponsoring, The PRO12, rugby's premier professional club competition in Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. Guinness are taking over from previous Sponsor Rabo Direct. The new season will see even bigger exposure for the competition, with Sky broadcasting games for the first time. Now, with the addition of one of the leading beer brands in the world as title sponsor, the future looks bright for the league. It is speculated that through this relationship Guinness may be looking to reconnect with audiences who may previously have lost sight of the brand. Engagement therefore will be the key motive for Guinness.

Sponsorship has matured rapidly over recent decades, annual worldwide spending on sponsorships continues to grow, despite the economy only coming out of the recession. This is due in part to such factors as increasing restrictions on advertising, higher advertising costs and generally an increased media coverage of sponsored events in particlar sport.

Sponsorship is defined by 'a sponsor - a brand or firm - providing cash and/or other compensation in exchange for access to an object's commercial potential, for example exposure and association with a cause/event/organisation related to, for example a sport,music or cultural/arts event.  In a digital world, traditional media is no longer the only means by which sponsors gain media exposure. Online and in particular social media channels especially, are becoming increasingly popular and a powerful way of offering engagement between a sponsor and the sponsee's audiences.

This increased media coverage is also one reason that approximately two-thirds of all sponsorship spending is directed at sporting events, leagues, teams, and players. Sponsorship of sporting events and sports personalities is an excellent way of getting a brand noticed. Who here didn't notice our home grown brand 'Moy Park' on the hoardings during the recent FIFA World Cup or Nike's swoosh when another 'home grown brand', Rory McIlroy, raised his latest golfing trophy at the Open Championship.

(The chicken brand was also quick to respond to the Suarez bite...

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