TechBytes with Lorraine Emmett, Managing Director at EC-PR
Tell us about your role and what inspired you to start in this PR industry?
I’m the Managing Director so I’m required to be a bit of a jack of all trades – developing the strategies to ensure our business succeeds. That said, my priority is to keep my team happy, inspired and motivated so that they can do the same for our clients. I particularly love developing a Communication strategy and delivery models both for Emmett & Churchman and for our clients – it enables the subsequent PR delivery to be so much more robust and meaningful.
I came into the PR industry as an arrogant young buck who believed that I could change the world! I worked in Advertising back in the 80s at a time when PR was regarded by many marketers as fluffy and intangible – I saw an opportunity to offer an accountable, effective and evocative proposition with a focus on integrated B2B Communication. I haven’t changed the world (quite yet) but it changed mine. I love what we do and the people with whom I have had the opportunity to engage.
Our niche, as far as we have one, is amongst Engineers, Scientists, and Technologists. These are the people who deliver our quality of life, keep us safe and will eventually save the world – we should really insist they all wear blue capes to work so that everyone can readily identify and applaud them! My clients inspire me every day.
You have led PR and B2B Marketing activities for some of the leading brands. Which campaigns are you most closely connected to and why?
I connect with every campaign. Most of our clients are scale-ups. I have masses of respect for the CEOs we work with who put a little piece of themselves on the line to build something unique and improve the status quo. They do this whilst doing all the other things they need to do to keep their workforce safe, content and productive.
Knowing that if they fail so many lives will be wrecked. Yet, they still go into work every day and push the boundaries towards delivering their vision – these are remarkable people doing extraordinary things and if we can help in some small way, that’s amazingly rewarding and motivating.
It’s no surprise that I want to namecheck our client, Concirrus – we’ve worked together for 15 months and I can only describe it as a ‘perfect storm’ of talent, energy, and vision led by an extraordinary engaging and professional team top to bottom; the result is we’ve been empowered to deliver great results, led by my friend and colleague, Liz Churchman.
How have PR Technologies evolved in the last 5 years?
If I’m honest, I don’t think they have drastically changed over the last five years – if anything they have had to get slicker and focus more on their USPs as competition has increased but that’s to be expected of any industry. The functions of the tech behind media databases and coverage monitoring and reports is fundamentally the same, but the presentation has certainly improved.
We’re also seeing project management tools becoming increasingly important in a bid to better align Marketing and PR activity which is great to see, however, the danger with some of these tools is that they overcomplicate things and if we’re not careful, we’ll be spending more and more of our time on project management.
What does your Marketing and PR Comm tech stack look like? Which tools and apps do you use more often to stay on top of your game?
Our campaigns are bespoke for niche operators and we deliver accordingly. We tend to dip in and out of tech depending on what’s relevant to our clients at the time.
HubSpot, MailChimp, Google Analytics, and LinkedIn provide the backbone for our own Marketing; and right now, we’re loving Cision’s analytics tools such as C3 – particularly for those clients that are looking to benchmark their Share of Voice against their key competitors.
Every media list is tailored so we tend to develop our own database to avoid the ‘spray and pray’ approach. Massive consumer media databases have limited value. We currently use Response Source as part of our reactive media relations strategy having done a six- week side by side comparison with other offerings – we chose it because we found it to be the most specific to our current client portfolio.
We’ve seen how AI and Automation have disrupted every job role, function and organization departments. How do you see AI and ML impacting your functions and effectiveness?
I don’t believe AI and ML will disrupt my function or the nature of PR which is about building relationships and managing brand reputations. Our strategic PR advisory role is about providing a map of how you will get from A to B with the associated opportunities, shortcuts and stakeholders clearly documented.
I do believe AI and ML will play an ever-greater role in providing deeper insights into networks of influencers and simplifying social listening and media monitoring. As in many other industries (including Journalism and Content Marketing), AI and ML will drive the automated content generation, and simplification of repetitive, menial tasks. That said, I believe PR requires creativity, expertise, and human interaction to achieve effective communication around the novel and complex innovations. Evermore sophisticated AI and ML tools will be there to free up our time and allow us to focus on the things that we as humans excel.
Hear it from the pro: How to use customer feedback to build a better PR Strategy? How often do you provide this feedback to your Sales and Marketing teams?
The first thing is to get the customer feedback, too many companies are not getting the customer perspective – to be certain that you are investing your resources effectively, you have to get customer feedback anonymously and regularly, once a year is essential.
A 30-minute Q&A with a sample of 10-20 target personas, will give you absolute clarity about how effectively you are delivering your communication strategy. This is NOT a customer satisfaction survey which traditionally will tell you what you want to hear with little or no actionable insight.
Our campaigns always start with the development of the communication strategy in our Messaging Lab. During this phase, we distill the insight and knowledge which resides in the most experienced personnel in the organization. Once we have a draft strategy, we validate it, anonymously, with trusted customer stakeholders. This feedback loop is both essential and vital – it tells the client where the issues and opportunities really reside, and these are often different from expectations.
Insight 2020 revealed that 28% of marketers have not validated their messaging with customers in the last 12 months, meaning that large swathes of B2B companies are operating, marketing and selling blind.
Any advice to young PR professionals in the tech industry –
To any youngster new to the world of work: to be expert at anything takes practice. To be recognized by your peers for being outstanding takes determination, tenacity, and good fortune. Recognition is not as rewarding as having an impact. Expertise used wisely can be an incredible force for good. Change takes time and good change takes even longer. Patience is an underrated virtue. Be kind.
Specific to young PR Pros – be honest, be diligent and be inquisitive.
One superwoman character/iconic person that you feel most connected to—
I wonder if this question is posed to men as well? I’d love to read about the female superheroes they feel most connected to 😉. As a young girl, there were no superwomen to speak of and we were not taught about the achievements of any women in history – ergo they did not ‘exist’. This may seem strange to young women today as we proactively celebrate the achievements of women.
I think social media has been a major force for good in this regard – it makes it harder and harder to hide the achievements of half the population. As a teen, there were the original Charlies Angels and Wonder Woman – all sylph-like, gymnasts with enormous amounts of hair – with whom I absolutely did not and do not feel connected!
This is an enormously hard question for me to answer. Women traditionally don’t reveal their true selves, they reveal the selves they think will be most accepted by their peer group. This makes it hard for me to align with an iconic woman certainly not of my age group – often a woman’s fame is rooted in either their looks or their notoriety unless of course, they were a singer/entertainer. So, after my mother, I’m going to say Annie Lennox – she is tall with very short blonde hair and I also love to sing. Annie, like my mother, also has incredible community values with which I completely align with.
Tag a person in the industry whose answers you would like to read here:
Caroline Hurst, Marketing Director at Concirrus.
Founder of Emmett & Churchman Ltd and Emmett & Smith Ltd her formative professional years were spent in the Saatchi group working on global consumer advertising brands. Here, she learnt about the principles of persuasive communication from the best practitioners in the world.
Since 1994 Lorraine has specialized in working with complex technical businesses in maritime, defense, cyber and transport. Her focus is on helping technical consultancies and product companies to establish strong brands and equip them to meet and exceed their goals whether through growth, acquisition or fundraising in.
We are a B2B Tech PR Consultancy, designing and delivering smart, outcome-focused campaigns that deliver real results. Whether you need to raise your profile, generate sales leads, manage your reputation or quickstep through a crisis, we have a proven track record in delivery that means we can guarantee results. Perfectly formed, we are a small team of talented communication professionals committed to delivering intelligent PR that drives business success. With over 20 years of continuous experience in B2B Tech PR, we work hard to support the best interests of our clients so their business is made visible, valued and understood.