Openness creates trust and commitment: People are at the heart of every form of public relations. We have to communicate with people, gain their trust, and address their individual information needs.
Our agency from a different angle: Our agency is shaped by the people we work for and the people who work for us. The pace of change is getting ever faster. Communications aren’t necessarily quicker as a result, but they are increasingly evolving in a number of different directions.
In our Trouvaille section you will find interesting snippets of news and information we come across. open up is at the heart of a truly vibrant area around Stauffacher in Zurich, and we have a collection of stories to give you an insight into its special character.
Our annual party has become something of a tradition, allowing us to come together with our clients, friends and partners. You can find the photo galleries under events. Another of our traditions is our Christmas cards and the stories behind them. Click here to find out more about our best wishes.
One of the challenges of our profession is how to get people excited about a story – so that they don’t zap or click their way to the next thing that crosses their senses. What’s the secret? In this video, well-known US writer George Saunders encapsulates it in the example of two people on a date: build a story around a feeling of unpredictability. This creates tension. Spice it up with the sense that opposing forces could collide any time, and you’ll keep your readers hanging on your words.
Just to clarify our terms: a smörgåsbord is a sumptuous Swedish buffet. The term has also been loaned by English to refer to a choice of many different types of something that are on offer. A good example is the Smorgasbord of Content Marketing Metrics: an infographic presenting 40 metrics breaking down content into measurable figures. If that all sounds like too much to you, you might prefer to concentrate on editorial analytics and the Content Performance Indicator.
Media events: routine exercise or an opportunity to impress?
How to doom a media event to failure: choose too large a room, avoid personal exchange and focus on brand messages. Your press officer and open up know how to get it right. 1 Create intimacy. Choose a manageable venue, not too big, and seek personal connections with your audience. 2 Make an effort. Make sure your audience senses your engagement and show them that this event is something very special. 3 Only speak if you have something to say.
Influence or pretence?
They’re young, they’re beautiful, and they stage-manage their lives through the internet: influencers. In the process they often do advertising – some fairly incidentally, others more obviously. Depending on an influencer’s reach, the costs of working with them can run into several thousand francs per article. If you’re about to part with that kind of money, it makes sense to check the credibility, reach and expertise of potential influencers before you take the plunge. LexisNexis has created an easy-to-read infographic (in German) explaining how to go about it.
Emoji – a modern-day Esperanto?
The symbols can replace entire words, signify activities or place what precedes them in a particular context. A smiley with a zipped mouth, for instance, means “keep it to yourself”. Birthday wishes can be accompanied by any combination of four-leaf clover, birthday cake, balloon or gift. But who decides which symbols are added to the “vocabulary”? Frankfurter Allgemeine reports (in German) on the man behind the emoji.
Google, what is the meaning of life?
Seemingly no matter what question we have, the search engine Google can use its highly sophisticated algorithms to work out on which website we can find our answers. What would the ancient Greek philosopher Plato have made of this philosophy? He would most likely have asked in amazement whether this means that mathematicians can now solve all of life’s mysteries, including the question as to its very meaning. An article in the NZZsums up the thoughts of philosopher Rebecca Newberger Goldstein.
Fake news and proper spellings in the new Duden.
The influences brought to bear on a language are as wonderfully diverse as life itself. And it is through this that language continues to change and evolve. In keeping with this, the Duden dictionary – which has the final say on matters relating to the German language – has added some 5,000 words in its latest edition, among them even ‘fake news’, and has tweaked the spellings of one or two others. The German magazine Spiegel has published an overview of the most important changes, and a quiz allowing readers to check their spelling prowess.
Twitter 75 years ago: Telegraphists, radio rooms and copy boys.
A real documentary treasure trove: in September 1942 photographer Marjory Collins visited the offices of the New York Times and captured how a newspaper was put together back then. Editors smoking away, telegraphists engrossed in their work, analogue communications, all amid the industrious hustle and bustle of the newsroom. Wonderful insights into a bygone era.
Think more, regurgitate less
Every year, the Association for the German Language publishes its ‘un-word’ of the year. An insightful article in the NZZ in January proposed that ‘un-word’ itself should perhaps be next on the list, arguing that to remove a word’s right to exist has despotic overtones. But that is not to say that words should not be viewed critically. Euphemisms and loan translations can lay waste to a language, turning the choice of words into a linguistic minefield. It is time to be thinking more, and regurgitating less.
Painting pictures with words – the art of the metaphor
Metaphors bend language to their will: body parts are likened to birds, gatherings of people compared with insects, and feelings expressed through colours. And yet, well chosen metaphors – from eagle-eyed, to swarms of people and rose-tinted glasses – feel entirely natural, painting a picture that fills a linguistic gap. Jane Hirschfield’s artful video features a wealth of metaphors that clearly illustrate how powerful such word pictures can be.
Is brand management via advertising up with the times?
The social networks have turned brand management on its head. Today consumers are no longer just consumers – they are also influencers of products and companies, and multipliers via social media. In the era of the social web, advertising alone no longer has much to do with successful brand management, since practised culture and brand behaviour beat any marketing. In search of the ideal approach – if there is such a thing.
The crux of a claim
What is the essential core of a brand, and what does it stand for? Keywords such as slogan, motto, tagline and vision are often bandied around, not to mention mission. But it is the claim that is supposed to encapsulate the brand promise and communicate it to the world. Together with the logo, the claim is the most important element in creating a brand. It should be short and sweet, and catchy and witty into the bargain. Companies therefore quickly resort to being "strong" or "innovative", concepts that are a long way from being a USP. A few thoughts on the noble art of developing a claim.
Our brains have learned the pleasures of online presence.
According to neuroscientists, likes we receive in social networks make us just as happy as praise we get offline. And this social recognition can be addictive, as the brain quickly gets accustomed to the positive feeling. One click, just one more, and one more – only when our own expectations have been exceeded do the neurons get going.
To counter this yearning for self-portrayal in the digital world, perhaps we should simply give ourselves praise more often in real life.
Putting language as our cultural heritage on trial
A list of grammar dos and don’ts should make communicating easier for people who are not – or are no longer – well versed in a language. After all, language, and its intricacies of rhythm, style and complexity, can be used a means of discrimination and is a privilege enjoyed by the reactionary educated elites. There are good reasons for making complex content accessible to all by using simple expressions. But do we need to dumb down language across the board merely because we are increasingly losing the ability to follow modern-day linguistic culture? A critical view of "simple language" as an artificial construct.
How the Swiss get their news today
Facebook has been connecting people around the world for more than a decade now. But the social network does more than just bring people closer together, it is also increasingly establishing itself as an information portal. For the first time, social media is replacing TV as a source of news for the 18-24 age group, and Facebook is leading the way. This is revealed in the recently published Reuters Digital News Report 2016, which also shows that in Switzerland nearly half of the online users surveyed now consume information via social networks.
Content marketing: passion makes all the difference
Some say it's hype, others say it's the future of PR and advertising. As well as major companies such as Red Bull and Coca-Cola, smaller organisations are now also increasingly turning to content driven by authenticity and emotionality. One example is the "Was uns bewegt" [What moves us] platform on the official South Tyrol travel site, which recently received the inaugural German Content Marketing Award. In this interview, the editors behind the site reveal how they go about finding and presenting suitable content to make sure they stand out from the crowd.
Twitter first – emergency assistance in crisis situations.
Twitter played an important role in crisis communication surrounding the terror attack on Brussels Airport. The first tweet about the explosion appeared just ten minutes after it happened. A mere 20 minutes later, Eurocontrol announced the closure of the airport via Twitter. The airport’s Facebook page immediately began to act as a kind of emergency call centre. A crisis situation demands a rapid response. This analysis shows how Brussels Airport used social media for crisis communication. A number of the lessons learned can be applied to other industries.
Why the aversion to hyphens?
Crimes against the German language are no rarity, and keen observers witness such offences on a daily basis. These range from mere indiscretions to new writing habits that chisel away at the cornerstones of the language. One of the most grievous examples in the latter category is the so-called idiot's space, i.e. the widespread tendency to separate the elements of compound German words. The hyphen has also fallen victim to this. Making the case for one of the fundamental pillars of the German language.
WhatsApp for business? What companies need to know.
If you have a smartphone, the chances are you are among the one billion users of WhatsApp. The messenger service has lately replaced traditional SMS text messages in many cases. Companies are now also beginning to integrate the wide range of opportunities WhatsApp has to offer in their strategies, for example in staff communications or to promote client retention. They need to be careful here, though, since WhatsApp does not provide for any commercial use of the app. So what do companies have to look out for when using WhatsApp? This blog post has the answers.
Pensioners as digital trendsetters
They are active, healthy, and technology savvy. We’re not talking about Generation X, Y or Z here, but instead the erstwhile baby boomers, who have now reached pension age. Demographic change and the rapid pace of digitalisation are blurring the boundaries of what were once clear phases in life, such as education, work and retirement. And this is giving rise to an entirely new definition of the concept of 'old'. The GDI Study “Digital Ageing – unterwegs in die alterslose Gesellschaft” [Digital Ageing – a journey through the ageless society] identifies four types of ageing, each with their own specific facets.
Can computers write?
Are your own creativity and a pen and paper no longer enough to write good copy? People who write for a living now have a whole array of aids at their disposal, with tools and apps to help them in their day-to-day business, and web services, browser plug-ins and computer programs to support them in processing texts and more besides.
So can computers can write or not? The author of this blog tries to find the answer.
There’s life in the old dog yet.
Is it only older people that still read printed newspapers and magazines? Not by a long chalk! And even though there’s no stopping the trend towards online publications, print media are still appreciated, and by the younger generation too. In the pop-up store Print Matters! , six young people all under the age of 30 have been selling the most attractive international magazines all summer long – and they’re doing a roaring trade.
Taking time for yourself, leafing through the pages, immersing yourself in far-off worlds… who knows, magazines and books might even be part of a whole new relaxation technique.
Breathing new life into dead ends
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! On the internet, websites that are not found, broken links and mistyped URLs can leave a bitter taste in the mouth if all you get is the same old standardised error message. That needn’t be the case, because there is no end of options for creating a different 404 page. And if you know how to get the most out of conceiving, designing and wording the message, you can make a good impression and establish a dialogue.
Radio killed the video star?
At the latest since “Serial”, podcasts have been enjoying a resurgence in the US. Is a new form of storytelling developing? Does narrative technique in its purest form even have more power than the audio-visual language of much vaunted videos? “Serial” has been downloaded 68 million times. According to iTunes, no podcast has ever passed the 5 million download mark quicker. A journalist returns to a court case that has already been concluded – can this also make you sit up and listen?
A dying breed?
The media world is in upheaval. Editorial staffs are being merged, newspapers are disappearing, and jobs are being cut. Meanwhile, companies and bloggers are sending out increasing volumes of content via their own communications channels. Large companies are even operating their own newsrooms. On the one hand, these developments are opening up new possibilities for communications. On the other hand, however, compelling figures show an entire profession is dwindling as publishers focus on profitability
An underrated virtue
Be it because of its superficiality or because small talk is regarded as the quintessential sales skill, it’s something people generally turn their nose up at. Unjustly, for it’s an underappreciated art. A friendly, aimless conversation is a game in which the ball can be played back and forth. A game where everyone’s a winner. And there's a new guide with tips on how to hone your skills in artful conversation.
As the nights are drawing in, there’s few better ways of spending the dark and dreary evenings than a game of Scrabble. And if you’re one of those people who likes to bend the rules a bit and make up words of your own, then you’re in good company. Take the 17th century poet John Milton, for example. He’s credited with introducing more than 600 new words to the English language, from “sensuous” and “stunning” to “depravity” and “debauchery”. “Exhilarating” is his, too, as is “extravagance”. What about “silver linings”? – you’ve guessed it, Milton. In fact, when it comes to new wordings, he’s clearly a class apart: after all, he actually invented the word “wording”.
But Milton’s creative spirit lives on beyond the Scrabble board. Another good way of passing the long winter evenings is to delve into the world of neologisms, and the blog The Inky Fool is an ideal place to start your journey of discovery. “Terrific”, in fact, as Milton would have said.
The art of authentic communication.
Being constantly approachable and available, giving empathetic feedback, while at the same time making immediate decisions – all of these are requirements of everyday working life, but scarcely anyone can satisfy them all. Together with the media researcher Bernhard Pörksen, psychologist Friedemann Schulz von Thun has examined how best to deal with these multi-faceted expectations, and what is involved in the art of talking to each other.
What if the subjunctive did not exist?
Does language change reality? Does grammar really have the potential to influence and change whole cultures and their ways of thinking? The subjunctive for instance is a dream machine, which we can use to travel to the future and the past. But how does the life or rather the psyche of a human, feel like if there is no “should, would or could”? And how does the world look like once only one single of the current 8000 active languages is left? These people tell you more.
Does gendering make sense? (in German)
Is there life without the Internet?
When did you last spend a day without the Internet? Technological developments have dramatically changed the way we use media. For young Swisss people under the age of 30, the Internet has become the most important source of information, and getting information on the move is paramount. The IPMZ – Institute of Mass Communication and Media Research at the University of Zurich has been looking into how exactly media usage is changing.
How headlines go viral
Spontaneous viral spreading of content is not something you can plan. But by choosing the right words, you can increase the likelihood of users being interested and talking about it. Headlines are crucial here, as they determine whether the right emotions will be aroused in the reader, spurring them on to read an article or watch a video. Click here to find our why these seven tips can hold the key to your content catching the eye, and increase the chances of it going viral.
Is gamification the new storytelling?
Once upon a time, storytelling was the buzzword in communications. Now it’s been used so much that it’s become more of an empty platitude. A shame, really, because there’s no denying the efficiency of storytelling in an age where we’re inundated with information. But there’s a new term slowly taking hold in the media: gamification. Will it suffer a similar fate? Who can tell. But the fact that people in communications are trying to use playful approaches to put across their messages strikes us as being more than just the beginning of a trend. If you’d like a good insight into what forms gamification can take, and what it has to offer, click here...
The future of digitalisation – in our private and business lives
With Facebook and other social networks, the Internet has become part and parcel of our everyday private lives. But where do things stand as regards the digitalisation of business life and corporate communications? On the PR-Blogger blog you will find an opinion piece on the trends in the online world, and a forecast looking forward. Click here to read the article.
Award-winning avalanche story in the New York Times
In April 2013, the New York Times won no less than four Pulitzer Prizes, for investigative, explanatory and international reporting and for feature writing. The prize in the latter category went to “Snow Fall. The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek”, which tells the harrowing story of a fatal avalanche in Washington in February 2012. The exceptional experience for the reader, created with parallax scrolling, was only made possible with the innovative interplay of copy, multimedia elements, and web design – and is an example of how high-quality journalism can benefit from a paywall.
No time for rage – four fates two years after Fukushima
After the earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011 and the subsequent meltdown at the Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima, NZZ reported from the disaster zone in North-Eastern Japan. Two years later, we revisited the people involved – and found a farmer toughing it out in the restricted area. A successful multimedia 2.0 report.
From the Arctic to the Antarctic
Léonie Suter from Switzerland and Patrick Lewis from Australia are sailing across half the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. The two scientists want to find out what it was like for the great explorers when they stumbled across islands where no one had ever been before. Click here to read the article.