After posting away for several days, I realise that I have not formally introduced myself! My name is Jennifer Boyes and I am originally from the UK. However, I fell in love with this country after spending a couple of Christmases here and emigrated soon after I had gradudated with a 2:1 in American Literature from the University of Kent in Canterbury.

I now work for a New Zealand owned, Auckland based public relations consultancy called Intermediary Communications. We offer a variety of services including healthcare communications, corporate communications, issues and crisis management, consumer relations and corporate social responsibility services.

I am a particular fan of online communications which is part of reason that I started this blog.

I would love to meet people either in the PR industry or interested in PR and would especially like to hear your thoughts on public relations both within New Zealand and further afield.

I look forward to hearing from you!


Being relatively new to the online PR sphere, I am always incredibly impressed when I see a business making a success of it.

This pet insurance company, based in the United States, has caught my eye recently. Type Embrace Pet Insurance into Google and page upon page of relevant search results come back.

The CEO, Laura Bennett, has set up a very attractive, informative and well laid out blog. What's more, she has attracted and interacted with so many happy readers that her company is talked about in dozens of other pet-related blogs.

Laura has managed to further increase her online presence by utilising many of the other wonderful tools available on the World Wide Web. Embrace Pet Insurance has it's own MySpace page, Facebook group and Squidoo 'lens'. Laura has also managed to get her business onto pretty much every online business directory going.

This Internet savvy businesswoman also makes an effort to communicate directly with pet owners browsing the Net, even taking the time to answer questions on Yahoo! Answers.

This is a perfect example of a successful online PR campaign that both Laura and her PR company should be proud of. Her online success is definitely something that we should all aspire to. Furthermore, looking at the positive online reviews of her company it is clear that she deserves the excellent reputation and coverage that she has achieved.


1. Networking: Take time to network with people both inside and outside of work.

2. Keep in Touch: Think about what you could do to keep in touch with your key audiences. Emails, online newsletters, and website updates are all cheap options.

3. Start a Blog: A blog is a great way for you to position your business in the eyes of your industry, your customers and the press.

4. Internal Communications: Review your internal communications. In a small team it is vital that every member is an ambassador for the business and its products and services, so make sure your staff understands and feels good about what the company is doing.

5. No Short-Cuts: See public relations as long term, rather than a quick fix. Developing good relationships with your staff and stakeholders will put you in a better position should anything go wrong in the future.


Every budding entrepreneur understands the need for a strong and consistent advertising and marketing campaign when either launching or maintaining a brand. This is evident in the huge amount of small business ads that can be found in the New Zealand media. However, many small to medium sized businesses seem to give public relations little more than a passing glance. PR is mistakenly perceived as something that should be left to the ‘big boys’ or as a luxury that only larger companies can afford.

Yet a solid public relations campaign is just as vital for small businesses as it is for the corporate giants. A well executed public relations campaign can increase name recognition and familiarity in the community, bolster your organisations credibility, educate people on what you do and how it can benefit them, generate ‘word of mouth’ advertising as well as increase employee motivation and morale. Each of these outcomes is important for the success of a small or new company. It is incredibly difficult to sell a product or a service if nobody has ever heard of you.

Public Relations is not as intangible and as confusing as many people believe and it is certainly not a communications tool reserved for the large, the rich and the successful. On the contrary, PR is just as, if not more, important, for small or start-up companies that need their brand identities laid out and their reputations established. It should be a vital part of every small company’s business plan, right from the start. The results, including increased sales, customer loyalty, brand recognition and awareness of your business and what it does, are more than worth it.

(Find out more about what PR can do for your small or start-up business by reading my article 'PR for Small Businesses: Using PR to Put Your Small or Start-up Company on the Path to Success')


Q: Do you think it's important for SMEs starting out in online marketing to have an Internet marketing strategy?

A: An Internet marketing strategy is absolutely crucial these days. A solid Internet marketing plan can help a company build strength in existing relations, build new relations and allows businesses to market and sell services to a global audience.

Q: Where should SMEs wanting to forge an online presence start?

A: The first thing that business owners, new to online marketing, should do is make sure that they have an effective, well optimised website. Having a website offers a huge number of benefits for small and start-up companies. Having a website means that you can provide information to your customers 24/7, through online newsletters, brochures and news pages. It also offers another point of contact for potential customers and enables you to showcase your products and services worldwide.

Q: Is setting up a company website expensive?

A: It is no longer extortionately expensive to develop an online presence. The average cost of building a website has gone down significantly, meaning that smaller companies can compete against their larger counterparts on a much more even playing field.

Q: What else can SMEs do to make their mark online?

A: In addition to setting up a company website, blogging can also be a fairly inexpensive and effective online tactic. Blogging is, in effect, the keeping of an online journal. It can demand quite a bit of time and effort but keeping a blog can also be a great way of communicating with your customers and potential customers.

Other ways to get your company online include the use of email marketing and listing your company’s details on some of the many free online directories.

Q: What key mistakes do business owners new to online marketing make?

A: One of the main mistakes that business owners make is not keeping their website or blog fresh and updated. It is imperative that these online tools are kept up-to-date so that your customers and regular readers keep coming back.

Also, make sure that any contacts are followed up on immediately. The customer service that you deliver online should be the same level as the service you offer in-store or on the telephone.

Q: Where can SMEs find more information on online marketing?

A: There is a wealth of information out there for people new to online marketing. There are many specialised companies, such as Microsoft, that can help you get started or, if you are on a slightly tighter budget, there are unlimited online marketing articles, blogs and forums available to anyone with an Internet connection. Another great way of learning about online marketing is to look up your competitors and observe what they are doing.
You can also go to http://www.microsoft.com/nz/smallbusiness/default.mspx for a variety of online Internet marketing training modules from Microsoft.


The Intermediary Communications team had their (very!) belated Christmas event on Thursday, 21st February.

Intermediary, along with partner companies, media buying company, MediaR, interactive development company, Blackpepper, advertising agency, Mallville and Waiata, a publishing house, enjoyed a sunny day out on a chartered motor yacht.

If you are organising a summertime event for either clients or employees, I highly recommend taking a boat out from Auckland harbour. The food was divine, the crew members were very friendly and helpful and it provided a welcome opportunity to network with fellow colleagues. It was also an enormous amount of fun and a great way to see some of Auckland's most beautiful scenery.


Since New Zealand first jumped onto the Internet bandwagon back in 1989, use of the World Wide Web has become increasingly commonplace in New Zealand homes and workplaces. In fact, New Zealand has one of the highest rates of Internet access in the world, with almost 4 in 10 households having access to the Internet.

With such a large number of individuals logging in to create, communicate and search for information, businesses, large and small, should be falling over themselves to get online and interact with these potential customers.

The first thing that business owners, new to online marketing, should do is make sure they have an effective, well optimised website. Having a website means that you can provide information to your customers 24/7, through online newsletters, brochures and news pages. It also offers another point of contact for potential customers and enables you to showcase your products and services online to a global market.

It is no longer extortionately expensive to develop an online presence either. The average cost of building a website has gone down significantly, meaning that smaller companies can compete against their larger counterparts on a much more even playing field.
There are a number of pitfalls that business owners starting out in online marketing should watch out for. These include not keeping their website updated and not following up on queries immediately.


The PR consultancy that I work for, along with all of my fellow employees, are members of PRiNZ (Public Relations Institute of New Zealand). PRiNZ members are expected to adhere to a Code of Ethics, a document which asks members to be honest and accurate in all communications. The Code of Ethics also asks members to avoid any conflicts of interest and to embrace the values of advocacy, independence, loyalty and fairness.

Even if a public relations company isn't a member of a public relations organisation, they should stay true to these guidelines. To deviate from them reflects badly on their company, their clients and the industry as a whole.

Yet there is still a significant chunk of the population using the word 'spin doctor' when refering to PR people and, sadly, there are still a number of PR practitioners who deserve this label. Among other things, I have heard stories of certain practitioners blackmailing companies to get a result for their client and I have heard of people spreading malicious rumours about other PR companies and other PR people.

Organisations such as PRiNZ can hold a practitioner to account and freeze their membership but this only works for individuals that are actually members.

So, my question is: What can be done about immoral practitioners that aren't members of a PR organisation?

Should PR be regulated so that any PR practitioner or consultancy that is found to be behaving illegally or unethically can be struck off (as is the case with doctors and lawyers)? This leads on to further questions....If regulation were to take place who would be granted the power to pass judgement on whether or not a PR company/professional was acting in an unacceptable manner?

I still haven't decided what I think would be the best road to go down regarding regulation. If you have the answer then please let me know!


Only 9% of PR practitioners write a blog, post to blogs or write the copy for someone else's blog and 40% of those working in the industry admit to lacking new media knowledge.

A much larger proportion use the Internet to track mentions of their clients with 77% of practitioners using online websites for monitoring and reading news every weekday. However, it is imperative that PR people become much more involved in the use of new media (websites, blogs, wiki's, podcasts, vodcasts and social networking) rather than simply filling the role of passive spectator.

Individuals of all ages, not just those residing in the Generation C bracket, rely on the Internet for everything from shopping to socialising to finding out the latest trends and we need to be interacting with them. We also need to convince our clients that these audiences are worth talking to (a daunting task as 55% of CEOs don't believe new media is relevant to their stakeholders!)

Many other industries are way ahead of us when it comes to using new media. Isn't it about time we pulled our socks up and joined them?


This is a shining example of a blog gone bad. Can anyone explain why the Guardian allowed a young guy, with nothing more to talk about than what appears to be your average gap year, to have his own blog on their site?

You can see the backlash to this kind of blogging underneath poor Max's first post

Let us learn from this blogging disaster. Firstly, do not blog unless you have something interesting to say (especially if you are writing for a large corporation or say....a very prominent newspaper). People do not want to read about your pets, family or gap year.

Also, strive to be transparent as possible. PR professionals, be honest about who you are. Budding young reporters, if you are blogging for a newspaper, and are related to one of the senior writers, let your readers know. The truth has a curious way of coming out in the end and blog readers will be far less scathing if you are open about your identity from the start.
If you are not sure about blogging content and etiquette then talk to somebody who can advise you. The Internet has a very long memory...if you post a blog and it goes down badly with your audiences then your online reputation will remain tarnished for a very long time.


Unless you have been living on the moon recently, you will be aware that America is inching ever closer towards a full blown recession. Climbing unemployment rates, a slumping housing market and high energy prices are all dealing a painful blow to the American economy.
It comes as no great surprise then that talk of an economic slowdown in New Zealand is a red hot topic on our blogs and in our newspapers and is keeping our business owners awake at night.

Undoubtedly, many a Kiwi business owner will already be thinking about how to ride out a recession, if one does indeed reach our shores. It is also highly likely that many a Kiwi business owner will be contemplating putting a big thick red line through their public relations, advertising and marketing budgets...

Unfortunately, this reaction, rather than saving valuable dollars, could prove to be a catastrophic mistake. Many companies have kicked the bucket during past recessions, as a result of shying away from tools such as PR and consequently dropping off the radar of the media, their shareholders, their customers and their potential customers.

Rather than slim-lining communications efforts, isn’t this now the time to start beefing them up? Now, more than at any other time, shouldn't businesses be concentrating on maintaining the trust of their investors and customers by regularly communicating with them and letting them know how the company is dealing with the situation? Harvard Business School professor, John Quelch, certainly believes so. This is what he had to say in a recent article:
'It is well documented that brands that increase advertising (and other marketing tools) during a recession, when competitors are cutting back, can improve market share and return on investment at lower cost than during good economic times. Uncertain consumers need the reassurance of known brands'
Recessions are a natural part of the economic cycle. The markets, the consumers and the products will still be around once the economy has corrected itself. In my opionion, business owners should try not to react by cutting out the tools that could help keep their head above water. My advice to people thinking of slashing their PR budgets is simple- make good friends with a talented PR professional and keep the lines of communication open with key audiences. Maybe then your company will still be in the picture when the storm is over.