Category Archives: Brand Reputation

Top Tips On How To Avoid A Public Relations Disaster

By Cynthia Mbugua, Second year Media and Communications student at Coventry University

cynthiaIn Public Relations, it is obvious to expect anything to come from it. This can be the good, the bad or the ugly. Any good PR firm has to be prepared to handle any kind of situation that comes along with it. At the same time, it is always good to be able to recognise some of the tips needed to avoid a Public Relations disaster.

1. The number one tip of how to avoid a PR disaster is to recognise that your employees are your social ambassadors. By this you should be able to know that brands, either small or large must face the fact that the people with your closest connection to your organisation are your employees. It is clear that your employees can either be your perfect brand advocates and evangelists, but they can also burn your reputation when they lose control on the social media networks.

2. It is always good to mitigate the risk of employee social media manual which clearly defines how employees should put the company’s messages across. As I said earlier, your employees are the highest percentage of your company’s reputation.

3. Another tip which should be considered is to think before sending off content, for example emails and tweets. Everyone working in the organisation should know that the heat of the moment is definitely not the best time to respond to your clients. During a moment of tension we tend to say things that we do not mean and this can in turn affect any kind of relationship with your clients and potential clients.

4. The issue of security in your organisation should be handled with exceptional confidentiality too. Safeguarding the reputation of your organisation should be everybody’s key responsibility . If your organisation has a clean responsibility then the more chances you are likely to get to work with more clients.

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It’s not who you know, it’s WHAT you know: why thought leadership is important in the digital age

You have probably heard the term thought-leadership before but what exactly does it mean? As marketing increasingly becomes a more social and interactive affair, the term is branded about even more as further online outlets open up, enabling people to share knowledge and information, and position themselves as experts.

leadershipA thought leader is somebody who is adept at sharing knowledge and is always sharing new information about their industry. They are respected for their ideas, their values and for sharing these in the public domain, on social networking, blogs, in the press and on marketing material. Many people look at these thought leaders and are instantly impressed by them, but in truth they are not doing anything you cannot do yourself.

Go on then, how do I become a thought leader?

Anybody in business can be a thought leader. If you are involved in a business you will already have extensive knowledge of your industry that you can share with others. If you are a company director, nobody will have more knowledge of your business than you do so nobody can better highlight the changing trends within your industry. By sharing these trends and some of your own experience, you are already setting yourself up as a thought leader and the more best practice you share, the more of an audience you will build up of respectful peers.

But I don’t want to give away all my trade secrets…

You don’t have to. You should already understand the major issues that your customers face every day, the issues that your business faces and key trends in your industry. Write regular blogs, share tips on social media or consider putting some material together for your key trade press. Comment on these trends, relate to your own experiences and inform people of how best to deal with certain issues. It is no coincidence that a lot of business and trade press have ‘Ask The Expert’ columns which give advice to readers. This is the kind of thing that people in business like to read. They like to keep abreast of changing trends in their industry, read about other people’s ideas and read about solutions to existing industry issues.

When becoming a thought leader, think about timeliness and relevance. When do your customers experience their main issues? For example, financial advisors have key months of the year when their audiences need more expert and advice than others, when competing tax returns or when there is a major change in legislation. If you have a solid business strategy, you should also have a timeline of events developing that you can refer to for thought leadership material.

Thought leadership works best when you engage your audiences and invite them to engage with you. Ask them for their thoughts and ideas and invite them to share in your own thought leadership – this is a great way of making new business contacts!

How best do I do this thought leadership thing then?

Writing original material about your business in time consuming, and it takes effort, energy and creativity – but the rewards are worth this time and effort. Thought leadership enables you to raise your profile, increase your credibility and reputation, reach and engage with new audiences, generate leads, and in crease your own knowledge by inviting other to engage with you.

At Bridge, we regularly help our clients to position themselves as thought leaders. Here are our top four tips for effective thought leadership:

1.       Take a strategic approach – Decide which topics, themes and issues you want to talk about and tie these in with your key company messages. Consider some of the key words that you will be using. Remember, people that search the web for these words may well come across your thought leadership material!

2.       Create a content calendar – Decide how often to blog, share best practice on social media or create press material. Tie this in with key dates for your industry and plan your content around these dates. Try to stick with this calendar as well as you can.

3.       Blog – If you are new to thought leadership then blogging is a great place to start. There are so many free tools and applications available on the internet now that businesses have no excuse not to be blogging.  Try to stick to a regime of one blog a week to ensure you consistently have fresh content for industry peers to read.

4.       Outsource your thought leadership – Not all business leaders have the time or the writing skills needed to create frequent thought leadership material. The easiest way to resolve this is to work with a reputable agency to translate your industry knowledge into interesting and engaging copy. An additional benefit of outsourcing is that an agency will be better positioned to place your thought leadership material into publications. At Bridge, we regularly receive requests from Editors and journalists looking for issues-based content.

 

Remember – every business owner has the potential to become a thought leader; you just need to spend the time and effort sharing relevant information to your audiences. We can help with this and if you want to ask us more details about how we can help you to become a thought leader, please do contact us on 02476520025. In the meantime, we look forward to reading your thought leadership pieces….

Don’t give up the ghost on traditional PR

Print publications have been going through a rapid reincarnation as they turn to digital media. Newsweek magazine is the latest to axe its print edition after 80 years and move to a digital-only format from 2013 onwards. The Guardian is another household name that has recently announced its intention to become totally digital. In addition, social media platforms have completely transformed the way we access news and information.  It seems that the whole PR landscape is changing to digital communications. With this major shift, it is imperative that businesses also incorporate a digital strategy into their PR and marketing.

HOWEVER, this does not mean that traditional PR has died a gruesome death. At Bridge, the digital side of PR is fundamentally supported by the good old fashioned “traditional” approach to PR. In essence, it is all about channelling your message through the right networks and also making the connections directly with your audience. But good PR is more than just channelling your content.  We have always maintained that media relations are central to effective communications, and this is also one of the most traditional approaches to getting your brand known.

As a business, these traditional approaches should not be seen as dead and buried, or ghosts of the past.

What is it good for?

Local Markets – If you want to sell to a local market then traditional PR is great for getting you in your local press and gaining local business credibility.

Sector specific – We have manufacturing and IT companies who rely on the traditional side of our PR services to get them seen in their industry ‘bibles’. By this we mean the trade magazines that go out to their target audiences. For one client in particular we have achieved over £50,000 worth of coverage in just five months in trade magazines, using the format of traditional PR.

At the start of this year 8.12 million adults had never used the internet. So where are they obtaining their news from?  It would be very short-sighted for companies to write off traditional media communication as it offers companies the potential to reach across new markets and audiences. Traditional PR should be crafted into your marketing strategy alongside all the online activity.

Traditional PR is not dead – it is simply re-incarnating.

For a strategic blend of traditional and digital PR, give us a call today on 02476 520025
Or email us: info@bridgepr.co.uk

Telling the stories of young American servicemen

By: Film Producer Gail Downey
From: Whirlwind Productions/Nose Art Films
Twitter: @NoseArtFilms

This is the second of three blogs from our friend Gail Downey, the Director and Producer of Nose Art & Pin-Ups. Following on from her previous blog in which she told us how she got the idea to do the film, she tells us how she set the wheels in motion and the help she received along the way…..

Like so many things the idea to make a film about Nose Art and Pin Ups on the aircraft of World War Two came about by chance. I have made history programmes for the BBC and The History Channel before and while doing some research came across the title “Nose Art & Pin Ups.”

Curious to find out exactly what that was about, I read through the article and discovered it was the artwork on aircraft painted, sometimes by the crew, sometimes by commercial artists like Don Allen, who had been drafted into the United States Army Air Force in WW2.

What I found fascinating was what the images meant to the crews, fighter and bombers, who risked their lives every day in missions in which one in seven of them died. They were all part of the Eighth Air Force or “Mighty Eighth” when the USA joined the war against the Germans in 1942.

The article focused on their Nose Art and offered moving footage of aircraft, which to a film producer, was like gold dust. Here was the artwork on the actual planes in WW2 and provided I paid for the rights, I could use that filmed material.

But where to start on a subject which is so big? That is always the hardest part of making any film. Make the subject too niche and the audience will be too small. Make the subject too broad and you miss the point .

So being a Brit, I decided to tell the story of the American servicemen based here in England in World War Two and concentrate on the Nose Art on their aircraft rather than that of the RAF. For a start there was much more Nose Art on the USAAF aircraft and it was easier to find in terms of actual film footage. So now you see how a producer’s mind works.

What I really wanted to do though was to tell the stories of these young American servicemen, who saw friends killed and captured, some severely wounded and others who, to this day, have memories, which thankfully my generation, will never know.

Finding the servicemen was the first task. I had tried to get the BBC and The History Channel to pay for the film to be made but was told no – it was too niche so I decided to fund it myself (which producers should never do).

Thankfully I found Michael P Faley, an American who loves history and like myself, has huge respect for the pilots and crews and what they went through.

Mike is on the board of directors of the Eighth Air Force Historical Society and with his help found Don Allen, who was a crew chief looking after aircraft of the Fourth Fighter Group based at Debden near Saffron Walden in WW2……….he was and thankfully is, still alive. And so the journey began. More on that next week.

Nose Art and Pin Ups is available from Amazon UK http://amzn.to/Sw2BuW and Ebay UK http://bit.ly/PqFDHd at £15.99 plus p and p.

Please support this project and help keep these veterans’ stories alive.

Gail Downey, Nose Art Films
gail@noseartfilms.co.uk
gail@whirlwindproductions.co.uk

5 tips on how to get the most from your PR agency

Recognising the value in public relations is fundamental to a series of successful campaigns and a significant profile raise. Many companies take a PR agency for granted and expect them to magic stories out of the blue. However, a strong relationship is needed between the client and PR if anything good is ever going to come of the contract.

At Bridge, we like our clients to be aware of the real value of PR, and understand what their responsibilities are – after all it is all about communicating the right messages correctly!

1. Develop a comprehensive PR brief

You wouldn’t jump into a pool without knowing how to swim and where you wanted to get to. Prevent your PR campaign from sinking by having a detailed brief on what your business wants to obtain from it. Also, be honest about your budget! If the financial perimeter is set then the agency will not go overboard on their creative proposal, resulting in the company being let down when they don‘t have the finances to support it. If the seeds are sown correctly with a clear goal ahead, then your business will only reap the rewards of a vibrant PR strategy.

2. Maintain regular contact

PR is not intended for sales leads – that is what your sales team are for, however it is important that your agency are able to liaise with the sales team in order to sync the information that is going out in the public domain. If the sales team are regularly updated with info from the PR side then they can refer to it in their sales patter. Speaking to your PR agency regularly will keep your business at the forefront of the PR teams minds, and that foundation of a relationship will enable them to prosper in the work they carry out for you.

3. Frequent face to face meetings

In our experience the best stuff comes from meeting clients face to face. Although we currently live in a digitally dominated society, human nature can prevail all. Face to face conversations have the ability to develop a corporate personality more than any other medium. We have had recent meetings with clients who are very busy people, and some of the best stories come as we are about to walk out of the door and they say “oh did I tell you we’ve just won a massive contract…”

4. Tell them EVERYTHING

A PR agency can only be as good as the information they are provided with. Keep the PR agency updated with the happenings of your company as they will always be researching newsworthy angles in relation to what is going on in your marketplace. If you keep the PR team in the loop when it comes to news and business developments confidentiality will not be a problem as good agencies will always run content past you for approval first. Remember – they are working as part of your team!

5. Identify your ‘Bibles’

Whilst carrying out research on your PR campaign it is vital that you identify the key publications you want to be appearing in. Most publications provide media packs on who their readership is and what the circulation is. Maybe you are a local business and just want to appear in the local newspapers? Whatever the situation is you need to make the agency aware of this so that they can focus their material to the style and format of that specific publication. This way they will also begin to develop stronger relationships with the editors and reporters to ensure you receive regular coverage with them.

What is PR?

It’s a question that is commonly asked – particularly by businesses owners who think they need PR, but are unsure exactly what it is. Some people think it is a way of winning new business; others think that it’s simply an exercise that gets them in the local paper and others believe that it just enhances their reputation. The real answer? It can do all this and so much more.

Reputation

ImagePublic Relations is all about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. It’s about not only developing a good reputation for your business but managing that reputation once you have built it up – establishing and maintaining goodwill and mutual understanding between a business and its public.

How does it work?

PR comes in many different forms; marketing, social media, public affairs, corporate communications, event management, content marketing public information – all titles which contribute to the umbrella that is Public Relations and all topics that cover a part of what PR is.

It’s about establishing trust between a business and the public, which could be done through many forms. Telling stories to the local, national, global and trade presses will catapult a business in front of a large public base. Being active on social networks and engaging with customers; old, new and potential shows the public that a business cares about the public. By holding regular events or seminars, your business can help educate the public about what it is you do. Through research, feedback, communication and evaluation, a business can enjoy positive PR and subsequent positivity when it comes to sales and customer lists.

PR is a more credible source of promotion than advertising. An editorial in a local magazine, promoting your business is worth far more than the price of an advertisement in exposure and credibility. Adverts are paid-for pages, targeting a specific audience whereas an editorial is placed because you have a good story worth telling – not because you are paying for the pleasure!

Do I need PR?

Yes. PR can only be good for business. Your company need not be the biggest, the most profitable or the most powerful in your industry sector to reach out and build trust with the public. In fact, without this circle of trust, you may never be the best in your sector.

Just as it doesn’t matter how brilliant your services are or how ground-breaking your products are – if nobody knows about them, they aren’t going to buy them. Every inch of your business can be run to perfection but you will make no money of nobody knows who you are – they will continue going to your competitors. With PR, the public will know who you are; they will see for themselves the successes of your business and grow to trust your brand and its services.  If you communicate more effectively with the public than your competitors do, it will be you who the public turns to going forward.

Still not convinced?

Take a look at the question below and if you answer yes to any of them, you need PR!

  • Do I want to grow my business?
  • Do I want to build a foundation of trust with the public?
  • Do I want to be ahead of my competitors?
  • Do I want to move into new markets?
  • Do I want to win new customers while retaining my existing ones at the same time?
  • Do I want to win over my local community
  • Do I want to be recognised as the best in my field of expertise?

To kickstart your PR and marketing, give Bridge PR and Media Services a call today on 024 7652 0025 and we can work out a plan that works for you.

Should you be Pinterested in the next big social network?

Still questioning Quora? Found that Google Plus has turned out to be a negative? Then you are probably uninterested in Pinterest – the very latest in a long line of social networks that experts are citing as the next best thing. However, unlike the others, Pinterest actually has taken off and was one of the fastest networks to reach 10 million users a month. When it comes to sharing content and meeting people with similar interests to yours, Pinterest is perhaps the most useful social network of them all so why should you join in with the buzz?

Firstly, let’s myth bust; Pinterest is not a new social network. It has been around for several years but only recently has found itself blossoming in popularity. Unlike similar hyped up networks like Quora, Pinterest’s early adopters were not typical internet geeks but in fact, average everyday women with mainstream interests, opening up the passageway for a wide ranging audience of users. There is no intimidation factor here; no importance laid upon keeping up with the most influential users. In fact, unlike most social networks it runs at your own pace and can be about anything you want it to be about.

Bridge Pinterest

Your Pinterest boards can be about anything you want - we even have one for Bridgit!

The idea of Pinterest is that you share ideas online by pinning images from the web to virtual pin boards. Users then have the choice to follow a particular pin board or repin something of interest to their own pinboard – much like Twitter’s retweet facility.

Upon first visiting the website, the first thing to note is its appearance and usability. It’s very easy on the eye and very simple to use. Much of the content on the social network is about products; furniture, books, clothes and household items and it can at times seem like a large online shopping store – the female influence coming across heavily. However, leaf through the typical domestic boards, the wish lists and the clutter and there are some very interesting boards. Boards on social media, infographics, images of old newsrooms and even one board looking at hot businesses of the month. It is easy to see why Pinterest is attractive to advertisers – this is a place that they can promote themselves, with links back to their own website without ramming advertisements down a user’s throat.

In terms of content marketing, Pinterest could well become the most useful and important social network of them all. Of course, a lot depends on the user and that is the beauty of Pinterest – it can be about absolutely anything you want so as long as people share interesting content it will always have a purpose. However, unless you are specific, your individual boards may well become lost in translation. Millions of users will be following pinboards about marketing so make yours niche. Title it content marketing, digital marketing or b2b marketing and allow it to stand out from the crowd.

Make sure you are repining interesting content to your own pinboards and sharing it with your own network of followers. As with any social network, following the right people can bring new content to your attention which you can then, in turn share with other creating a chain of content marketing practitioners. 

As a business you need to curate your content properly and organise it into different areas of your business. If you are a retailer, just as you organise shop shelves, you need all your products categorised and displayed together. If IT is your industry, sub categorise the genre into different factions; network systems, new innovations, mobile devices and web devices. The key is to make your content unique, niche and interesting enough for others to repin and share.

Above all else, have fun. Pinterest is unlike any other social networks in that there is no pressure to be seen as an industry leader. It moves along at its own pace and can be personalised to suit your needs. As well as serving as a platform for content marketing, Pinterest can also be your own personal pin board of interests, products you want to look at further and links or diagrams of particular interest.

Pinterest is unfortunate in that it has been tipped for success by the experts and predicted as the hot new social network of 2012. However, unlike fellow victims to this hype like Quora and Google Plus, Pinterest is causing enough of a stir to actually live up to its expectations. The interface is simple, the idea effective and the reasons for using it plentiful. In fact, Pinterest could just be the most (P)interesting thing to happen to content marketing.

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Harness the power of social networking with LinkedIn

There are now over 120 million professionals all over the world using LinkedIn to help grow their business by harnessing the power of online social networking.

Make the LEAP

Originally, LinkedIn was created as a recruitment resource, but has evolved as a major player in business networking and helps businesses in a number of ways…

  • Generating leads
  • Finding suppliers
  • Finding new employees / headhunting
  • Gathering market intelligence
  • Finding answers to questions
  • Staying on track with industry trends
  • Raising awareness of your business, products, services and much more…

 

LinkedIn gives the ability to broaden your networks and connect with people you might never have had the opportunity to link with previously. Since the Internet really took off in the 90s, people have been able to maintain contact with each other far more easily, and it was only a matter of time before people began to make business contacts with the same principle.

Everyone at Bridge has been using LinkedIn for some time now and between us we have acquired a lot of knowledge and expertise about how to get the most from it.

Here are our top tips…

Create a company profile that grabs attention Using the company profile facility means that you have another marketing channel where you can showcase your business and its products and services.  Everyone who connects with you will be able to see what your company offers.  The beauty of business social networking is that it taps into one of the key marketing principles that “people buy from people they know and trust.”

Make your profile 100% complete LinkedIn monitors how complete your profile is on a percentage scale based on work history, education, skills, connections, and recommendations. You should aim to be 100% complete as this optimises all of the functions available.  The aim is to raise the profile of your expertise in your particular industry sector.

Constantly leverage your contacts LinkedIn is very much based around the maxim of ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, and the connections you make are integral to your business development. There is a ‘degree’ gauge built into the site, where you will be shown how many degrees apart you are from any one contact. For example 1st degree means you know them personally whereas 2nd degree is you know someone who knows them and 3rd degree means they’re a friend of a friend… and so on. This is built on the old adage that everyone is connected by six degrees of separation.

Join relevant groups Another important part of LinkedIn is the ‘group’ section. Arguably one of the most powerful aspects of the networking site, groups allow you to engage with like-minded people in discussions relevant to your aims as a business and your sector as a whole. It can also be a mine of information about your industry, and will help you to keep up with the latest trends. It is a good idea to create your own group as this helps to drive traffic to your site and encourages more people to connect with you as the ‘community leader’.

Become a ‘LinkedIn expert’ Exploit the facility of offering expert advice on LinkedIn as this can help build your profile as an expert in your field, and adds an element of reality to the profile, giving connections reassurance about your business. Regularly check the ‘Questions’ section for subjects relating to your field, and when the person who posted the questions brands you as the best answer you gain a badge on your profile. The more badges you gain then the higher your level of expertise.

Get valuable recommendations These add a level of credibility to your profile or company. The more recommendations you have on your profile, the more people are likely to trust it. However, it is important to gain ‘valuable’ recommendations such as clients and customers who have been involved with your company or have used your services of products.

 

If you would like to become completely ‘social media savvy’ in order to boost your business, then Bridge PR & Media Services are running a series of Social Media Workshops which will teach you the principles of social media marketing, how to use the tools and platforms, and how to measure your success.

Make the LEAP into Social Media – 27th September 2011

Measuring Success – 04 October 2011

Making a Blogging Influence – 11 October 2011

LinkedIn for Business Success – 18 October 2011

Twitter for Business Success – 01 November 2011

Facebook for Business Success – 08 November 2011

 

For further inquiries all you need to do it contact Bridge on 024 76 520025 or email info@bridgepr.co.uk

 

Don’t let your reputation be swept under the carpet!

Large firms can spend millions of pounds building their brand, whiles smaller ones might choose to invest a few grand in promoting themselves to their marketplace .It doesn’t matter how good you make yourself look and how you pretty you come across, your companies reputation can be on line in how you conduct your business.

Having worked in the PR industry for over thirty years, we at Bridge PR have developed a keen sense of danger –  eyes in the backs of our heads – as well as the experience of dealing with many ‘reputation management’ situations ie a crisis when a newspaper or magazine publishes a damning and negative article on one of our clients.

Can we see a “bad news” story coming? Sometimes…and sometimes not! But we always take a positive stance. Some years ago, I worked for a multi-national aerospace firm at their Scottish factory. I received a call from the local press to say that one of our employees had committed suicide in our chemical labs. My first instinct was ‘he’s got this all wrong’, I would surely know as the firm’s PR manager. I made enquiries and my first call was to our HR manager. I told him of the phone call I received and his comment was ‘Oh god, they haven’t found out have they?  They surely did! Local newspapers are good at checking out police, fire and ambulance reports and following up on them.

The HR manager hoped it would all go away and be swept under the carpet. He didn’t want anyone to know, whereas I had my duty to try and get the facts right and carry out a damage limitation exercise. It turned out that the employee had ended his life because his wife was having an affair. Having a straight conversation with the newspapers and radio stations about the grief the whole family was going through meant that they downplayed any coverage, In fact only one radio station gave a brief report. It was sad episode, but having a frank discussion and good relationships with the press meant I had achieved an acceptable outcome for the man’s family (saving them from sordid details being published) and for the company.

 I dealt with a number of testing situations at that factory, including a ‘sex change’ employee who called himself Danielle and wanted to use the ladies loos – and a chap who kept a loaded revolver in his locker! 

Businesses put time, effort and money into building their reputation. Sometimes you need to put in the same commitment to protect that reputation. What should you do?

Here are some practical steps to take:-

Be prepared and give straight answers. ‘No comment’ is tantamount to giving the press carte blanche to print what they like.

Check out the facts! Have the press got it wrong, is it an isolated incident i.e.  a one off or have they got things out of context? Again, be prepared to put actions in place to stop it happening again and be upfront with the press on the positive steps you are taking.

– Press statement. It’s one thing to talk to a journalist over the phone. But have they listened correctly to what you have to say?  A safer and additional option is to send them a written statement so the situation is kept in context and your words cannot be misinterpreted.

We are very positive in promoting our client’s good news stories. We take the same positive stance in defending them against criticism.