Questions for Storytellers Series... Bethanie Dennis.
Meet Bethanie Dennis, Senior content and Digital PR manager for Newcastle's SEO& Paid media agency AGY47.
What kind of storyteller are you? Content and Digital PR.
Best part of the job? The best part is the buzz of seeing lots of coverage for clients as a result of the team’s work. When a campaign really takes off it’s so exciting, especially if it’s something new you are trying.
Tell us about a project you have worked on that you are proud of... We recently launched one of those tongue-in-cheek job ads for a ‘wizarding professor’ at a local visitor attraction that was used as a filming location for the Harry Potter films. I hate the term viral, but we did get coverage all over the world, and the campaign received thousands of shares and comments on social too.
A little secret about being a digital PR? Everyone has those campaigns that are a total flop! Don’t let it discourage you, there’s always a chance to stop, take a step back, and alter the campaign. One of our most successful campaigns for one of our newer clients didn’t work the first time. Rather than continuing with a flailing campaign, we paused outreach, found an alternative angle and it was a huge success.
Biggest stereotype you hate about your role? The stereotype I hate is that the job is easy! A lot of people think digital PR is about sitting on bean bags in colourful rooms thinking of crazy ideas. While we don’t have bean bags, we do have fun ideas sessions, but that’s a very small portion of our time. Digital PR and link building is often labelled as the hardest part of SEO and I can vouch for that. There are so many hurdles to get over for a great campaign to work, and sometimes the time investment is huge.
What’s the biggest change your industry faces in the next year? In light of recent tragic events, PR's are going to be thinking twice about the approach of their campaigns. For example I think there will be fewer stories targeting/featuring one person if it is in any way negative. I also think people in our industry will now think twice about the specific publications they go out to. We now prioritise other publications over ‘red tops’ for stories and we ask our clients what publications they would like to be featured in.
News outlet or publication of choice and why? From the ‘top tier’ list, I have a particular affinity to Metro. I think it has a balanced mix of news and features, and the site is a good clean experience for the user. We have a really good relationship with them and they cover a lot of our stories.
What’s your content guilty pleasure? Interpreting data so it’s easier to digest is such a skill, and to put it into a great design is definitely my not-so-guilty pleasure. I love anything visual like a map. They work really well when tied to stats and can be so effective in strengthening a campaign.
Favourite news or social media story in the last 12 months? Campaigns that make me laugh and are related to the brand always stay with me. One that sticks out to me in particular is when Philadelphia brought out the tongue-in-cheek ‘bagel that’ machine. It was a rather sophisticated hole punch that would turn anything edible into a bagel. A pretty daft idea but it worked really well and achieved global coverage.
What brands do you think tell great stories and why? I think Burger King is really great at this. Recently they produced the 50/50 burger - you are randomly given either a plant-based or meat burger when you purchase one. They also released footage of their photo shoots, where they hid a Big Mac behind each of their own burgers in every image. Such a good campaign that proved a point and made people laugh.
What do you want from PR people? What I look for in a PR person is a level of curiosity and mischief. They need to challenge the norm and be a creative person, always thinking of new ideas and trying new things. I often hire different types of people with different interests and experiences. It’s important to have a broad range of people on the team to ensure we have a variety of ideas for campaigns.
What makes a great story? There needs to be a human element to every story even if the story isn’t about humans. The story should tell you who’s affected and why it matters. It should elicit some kind of response or reaction for the reader; they should learn something, feel something or want to take some sort of action after reading.
Top tip for storytellers... Think about how you are making the audience feel, are you trying to make them laugh, shock them, wind them up or make them happy? Does this come across in your story? I always test a story out on a number of different people to see if it’s interesting or not. Usually friends, family or people in the office. You often get interesting views and opinions that you’d never usually think of.
To learn a little more about what Bethanie and her team do at AGY47 head to https://www.agy47.com/.