Not so long ago, the team here at OJ used to be journalists. We worked on the local daily paper, writing stories on everything from sponsored walks, school nativities and cake sales to murder trials, council scandals and multi-million pound business deals.
No matter what the story involved, whether it was a P1 splash or a few words tucked away on p57 there was always one constant. It involved people.
Our readers were the heartbeat of the paper, they were what made us tick and the content reflected that. The stories were always written with them in mind, giving them an angle they could relate to, to gossip about with their friends and to share with their family.
The most popular stories were always about people a lot of our readers would know. People read about people.
When we left the paper to set up OJPR we were confronted with a very different environment. The business world, and in particular the PR and marketing side of it, revolves around the concept of B2B and B2C. There’s few things I despise more than horrible acronyms and immediately I felt uncomfortable with the entire concept of pigeon holing communications into two types, businesses to business and business to consumer.
To me, that was wrong. And for one very simple reason. People buy from people.
This concept of businesses talking to either their consumers or other businesses is flawed. It’s actually the people who work for a business talking to the people who buy their product or to people from another business.
By adding a human element into your communications surely you can get the message across far more effectively. After all, it’s not a computer or a piece of machinery that reads your email, your tweet or your e-newsletter, it’s a real person.
Our approach from day one has been to focus on writing in a way that appeals to the target audience, make it interesting, make it accessible, make it work.
It has been noticeable that more and more companies have followed this trend in the last couple of years and the traditional language of business marketing is thankfully falling out of favour as firms realise the power of speaking as people, to people.
Nowhere has this been more apparent than on social media, where everyone from huge multi-national organisations to the local corner shop finds themselves on the same platform, speaking directly to their customers, answering queries, promoting offers and getting closer than ever to the people that really matter – the people who buy their products.
Big firms now employ people to work solely on their Facebook or Twitter accounts all day, chatting to customers, dealing with complaints, putting the world to rights, having a laugh. Imagine that 10 years ago, directors would have scoffed at the prospect, but it works and it’s here to stay.
We can’t claim to be pioneers of this but it certainly formed the cornerstone of our principles as a business.
A shudder goes down my spine every time I hear either B2B or B2C. Let’s banish those terms to a bygone age and let’s embrace the new H2H world (ok, it’s another horrible acronym but I won’t tell if you won’t…).
Keep it personal, keep it real.