Specialist Essays: Nikki McReynolds, Spectrum Brands - A foot in both camps

PROs who have worked on the client side help create clever cut-through in competitive sectors.

With market-leading brands across two distinct sectors - beauty and personal care for our Remington portfolio of hair styling, depilation and grooming appliances; and Russell Hobbs in the small domestic appliance market - PR, more than ever, is a key driver in cementing consumer loyalty.

Across both sectors, PR plays a leading role in creating exciting, compelling comms platforms that often lead our marketing initiatives. Our comms need to instantly resonate with, and engage, our target consumers - and translate across our European markets.

We invest a higher-than-average proportion of our marketing budget in PR, so not only does it need to play to our commercial objectives, but it needs robust ROI measurement systems to prove its value and effectiveness, and be accountable in the marketing mix. We have a lot of SKUs, and with the omnipresent need to fight for shelf space, PR plays a vital role in driving retailer devotion to our brands.

In the fast-paced grooming and beauty sectors, we're constantly innovating via a plethora of initiatives. PR needs to be slick and agile, so we need a team that lives and breathes the beauty industry. A huge point of difference for us is that some of our Cirkle agency team are ex-beauty client side, so understand the challenges I face from a client perspective - my time pressures, priorities, speed of response, turnaround of campaign ideas, as well as the process and regulations of bringing new products to market. At a grass-roots level, with beauty editors receiving more than 100 press releases a day and 70 launch invitations a month, we constantly need standout and an inherent understanding of what makes influencers tick. What's more, PR has proved essential in shaping online sentiment, be it through blogger outreach and engagement, identifying online opportunities and showcasing rich content, as well as more micro-level social media innovations.

PR has evolved significantly beyond column inches to be a key traffic and sales driver. We also use it to create added-value third-party collaborations such as our latest partnership, led by a PR initiative with fashion giant ASOS, to halo our hair fashion credentials.

Trend and consumer insights will always be paramount, to inform our communications, and our PR harnesses these in a way that advertising can't, by being topical and timely, whether it's informing our new product development or accessing catwalk trends. Our latest comms platform for our premium range of Allure cooking appliances saw PR creating the 'kitchen theatre' platform, borne out of the trend for 'homedulgence', where kitchen living is replacing lounges. The kitchen becomes the stage, our appliances are the props and dinner party guests the audience. Cirkle's strategic recommendation to combine our Remington and Russell Hobbs brands for our successful 'Suite of Style' press event made budgets work hard to maximise ROI.

At Spectrum, we constantly PR the PR by exploiting credentials/endorsements and award wins through all touchpoints, including on packaging, at point of sale and throughout the integrated marketing mix.

We're hugely proud of our Remington and Russell Hobbs brands. Icons in their heyday, they have encountered stiff competition over the years, and step-changing our PR has been fundamental in driving reappraisal, ensuring our brands continue to be in pole position, with strengthened reputations among consumers and retailers.

Spectrum Brands has retained Cirkle since 2008.

VIEWS IN BRIEF

- Which film title best sums up the spirit of your agency?

Fight Club. My agency puts its head where it hurts to deliver knock-out blows against competitors. It is not afraid to go ten rounds to get the desired results.

- Excluding your own work, what is the most impressive piece of launch PR you have seen over the past year?

Yeo Valley's integrated campaign to launch The Churned rapping farmers boy band with a one-off video ad in an X Factor break. It continues to create huge talkability. The winner will appear in an ad slot during the live final. It's superb, as it relies on PR to generate coverage and word of mouth between the ad slots.

Nikki McReynolds is marketing director at Spectrum Brands.

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