Category Archives: Communications
By Cynthia Mbugua, Second year Media and Communications student at Coventry University
In 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.
It is quite possible that right at earth’s creation, had Adam been a journalist and Eve a PR Manager, then none of us would exist today. The first two people on earth would also be the last, such is the awkward relationship between PR experts and journalists, according to many stereotypical views. In truth, it’s not like that – it never could be! Our jobs, responsibilities and interests are too similar and we co-exist to help each other out. Without PR people, journalists would spend an awful lot more time sourcing interesting stories and without journalists, PR experts would have nowhere to tell the stories of their clients.
At Bridge, we pride ourselves on good media relations. Just the other day we had a reputable trade publication call us up, asking for more stories from our clients. We build long-lasting, positive relationships with the media for our clients, investing time in getting to know them, understanding what stories they look for to include in their publication, and working with them to secure valuable coverage for our clients. To many, the way to get a journalist on side is to send them food or wine, or take them out to lunch. It’s not (although it is a nice thing to do) so put away those fancy canapés, put the fancy biscuits back in the tin, cancel your ‘informal’ meeting you had booked with your local newspaper and read our top five tips for strong media relations.
1. Understand the publication, its audience and its editorial team
Never mind if a client is telling you they want to be seen in a particular publication, unless you find a story from them that is relevant to that publication, it’s not going to happen – and journalists hate nothing more than being given inappropriate stories. Before pitching a story, read through the publications you are approaching and make sure the content suits their topic area, tone and style. Following up on previous topics covered is always a good way to get a journalist interested in your story as it shows that you are paying an interest in their publication.
2. Engage with journalists away from work
No, we don’t mean invite them out to clubs, get them drunk and make them sign a contract stating that they will publish your client’s story on pain of death. You don’t need to be a stalker to be sociable! Follow journalists on Twitter, connect with them on LinkedIn and respond to the discussions they start. We regularly feed into conversations with journalists on Twitter that they start, just being friendly without pushing any of our stories down their throats. Remember, journalists are human beings too.
3. Don’t harass journalists
So you’ve sent over a press release to a journalist? Don’t call them up a day later and ask them if they have used it. If they are going to use it, they will – bombarding them with phone calls will only put them off the idea. Would you like it if you bought your weekly shopping from the supermarket and they rang you up a day later and asked if your milk was tasty enough? Then they rang the next day and asked about your bread? You wouldn’t – so don’t do it to journalists.
4. Work with journalists strategically
Make sure you give journalists what they want. Trade press often release details of forward features – get yourself a copy and see what topics they are covering throughout the year. Relay it to your client and come up with a suitable story that meets the feature’s needs. Journalists are always looking for stories so make their job easier, and provide for them exactly what they want.
5. Have patience
Not everything you send to a journalist will be published – that’s just life. Sometimes there is no room, or other stories are just more important. That’s no reason to blacklist them and cross them off your Christmas card list – they are doing their job. You never know, it just might make it to the next issue instead. Journalists work to tight deadlines and often have a lot of work to do and a lot of PR agencies to deal with. No matter how many stories you have that are interesting, you have to remember you are just one of many.
Take advantage of our media relations skills and place your PR and marketing efforts in our capable hands. Call us today on 02476520025 and we can maximise your PR coverage through our media friends.
From Denise Taylor, managing director
Last week we were delighted to be part of the launch for the Midlands first creative consortium, of which we are a member. The key message of the launch was one that Bridge has advocated for quite some time now:
When done strategically, marketing can have a positive impact on business development, regardless of industry sector!
The event followed recent reports that 70% of CEOs have lost their trust in marketers carried out by Fournaise Marketing Group. In order for CEOs to really experience benefits Warwickshire Creative Fusion promotes the need to make marketing highly targeted, strategic, consistent, and creative.
We met a diverse range of businesses from throughout the UK at the launch, and they all enjoyed the series of linked seminars bases around nine different disciplines of marketing. They covered all aspects of marketing from conceptualising campaigns to making your product go international. I gave a presentation entitled: “The pen is mightier…” which gave tips on mining businesses for great content.
I was happy to present to a full room of delegates who were interested in learning about mining their businesses for good stories.
Key points from my presentation:
- There has been a seismic shift away from traditional print media to digital media. Sales of UK dailies have plunged by 20% in the past five years, however some trade magazines continue to fare reasonably well in sectors like manufacturing, but they also have a digital presence. This has completely revolutionised the PR industry and has opened up many more channels and opportunities for agencies and companies alike – but – it is a case of finding your way through all the noise and chatter.
- Good PR is about the content that exists in your business, and the content you create to tell your story. A survey of over 1300 marketeers by Outbrain on objectives of content marketing:
- Increase engagement: 52%,
- Increasing traffic to site: 42%
- Raising brand awareness: 35%
- Increased sales: 33%
- Improved SEO: 31%
- When having an online presence it is all about thought leadership and building reputation and credibility. If you can achieve this, then others will start to talk about your brand and products.
- Building campaigns around issues is creative and creates original content that the press will be interested in.A key tip is to create polls and stories and then your can use this information through a variety of channels.
We found that attendees left the event with a number of fresh ideas for their marketing campaigns. Cathryn Goodwin, Creative Engagement Officer at Creative Enterprise, founded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Coventry University said: “I gained some very useful tips about how to tell the story of my organisation, what we do and how we do it, and it was really good to talk to the supportive members of the team about how their skills could help our business and our clients. There was a good mix of people at the launch with a friendly positive vibe. We’re looking forward to dealing with the Fusion members again.”
The overall message from Warwickshire Creative Fusion is that when utilised strategically, the nine key areas of marketing; public relations, video production, design and branding, direct marketing, translation, print, photography, and web development can really deliver an effective return on investment, increase sales, and raise profit margins.
When flicking through the business pages of your chosen daily newspaper, scanning the pages of a business publication in your accountant’s waiting room, or studying an in-depth feature in a trade publication you subscribe to, you don’t often consider the journey of that article before it was printed on to the glossy pages in front of you.
A fundamental part of handling a company’s PR is their ‘Account Management’. We are regularly asked, quite rightly, what this actually entails. Account Management is the umbrella that constitutes for all the hard work that goes into boosting that client’s profile.
These are as follows:
In-depth research is required in order to write a significant and relevant press release that the media are going to want to use. Initially we carry out research into the products and services of our clients, and then we look at what is new/innovative/recent/newsworthy. Alongside this we will research industry trends and requirements from the press. This can be a lengthy process as there is a lot of content out there, and we find a way to hit the mark correctly.
Response to media requests
There is no possible way of determining how much time we will spend on a certain client’s activity. In fact each day in a PR office is quite spontaneous. We receive media requests from journalists sporadically throughout the week, which can consume the time you have originally allocated to another task. This then can lead to additional media coverage enhancing the profile of a client’s business further
Developing relationships with key journalists is the most fundamental factor in gaining coverage for a business. Much time is spent liaising with journalists to get them to recognise your company’s brand and services so that they are aware of whom to call on when they want information in a certain field.
Conceptualisation is integrated into all of our client’s Marketing Communications Strategies. This is the creative process that involves generating ideas for campaigns and stories in sight of raising the profile of a company. This is developed alongside the research element of account management.
Gauging your return on investment for PR activity is a grey area. Without paying extreme amounts for a full press clippings service then it is hard to know exactly every publication your content has been published in. Our team put many processes in place (Google Alerts, monitoring applications, individual searches, media relations) to decipher as much coverage as we can. We then measure this against the advertising charges for that publication/site. PR is arguably more valuable than advertising as it places you as industry leaders and experts in the field. The traditional method is to multiply the advertising value by three in order to work out an effective AVE figure.
Communication & Meetings
We ensure that we maintain regular contact with all of our clients, keeping them updated with activity and other things going on in their industry. We regularly make suggestions on things that they can be doing, i.e. answering questions on LinkedIn as an expert in their field. Every little helps!
We also ensure that we schedule in regular bi-monthly meetings face to face in order to keep everything up-to-date on their contract. Some of the best stories can come out of these meetings without the client noticing there is a story in something that may have happened. If two of our team members attend these meetings then it can take a significant amount of time out of our working calendar.
Many clients will hold events for various occasions. As their partner in PR we like to make sure we have a presence at anything like this. It shows support to our client and also gives us more of an insight into the type of company they are.
Hopefully this blog gives you more of a rounded view of what account management entails with regards to PR. Quite a lot of work, eh?
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
What is the first thing you think of when searching the internet for a company or service? It is something you might not even notice you are doing, so subliminal it has become. And yet it is something that we all do every time without fail – come up with key words or phrases to input into a search engine so that websites can find useful matches.
It’s not just search engines that require key words though. In fact, a successful and strategic marketing campaign also requires a whole host of key words and phrases. Key words can be used to get across your messages and ideals when used consistently throughout marketing. Think of soft drinks, Christmas and children, think of Coca Cola. Think of cars, windows, scratches, think of Autoglass. Think of your products, services and key audience – do people think of your business?
To be successful, keywords need to be implemented from the start of a marketing strategy and consistently spread throughout all activities. From the beginning of your strategic marketing planning, think of all the buzz words that help to describe your business. If you were searching Google for your company, what words would you enter to find yourself? What values are you trying to promote with your business? Put them into words.
What words should I be using?
Think of words that describe your business. If you are a PR and marketing firm, those need to be your keywords. If you work in engineering, engineering is one of your keywords just as dentistry is one for dentists and computing one for IT companies.
Where are you? Are you in Coventry? Then that needs to be a keyword. Offering removal services from Manchester? Then removal services and Manchester need to be in your keywords.
Who do you work for? What audience demographics are you trying to attract? If it’s specialist medical chairs for over 60s then you need to be using words like ‘elderly’ and ‘pensioner’ in your key words. If it’s younger people, use the words ‘teenagers,’ ‘twenty-somethings’ or ‘children.’
That’s the obvious but what about the not-so-obvious? Have a good think. Is there another word that describes one of the existing keywords you have thought of? A good idea is to go through a Thesaurus and find all words similar to those you are including in your keywords. People search for different things. While one person might be looking for accountants, someone else might be looking for financial advisors. It is highly likely that you fit into both titles so make sure your keywords leave no room for error.
Never miss an opportunity
It’s not just a case of sitting down and penning your keywords – you need to use them as much as possible. Consider them in everything you do that helps to market your business. Keywords can be used anywhere in marketing material to get across your products and services to the right audiences.
Begin with the most obvious place – on your website. Your website may have been live for quite some time and gathering a consistent and impressive hit rate but that doesn’t mean it can’t be made even better. Now you have your key words, go back over your website copy and insert them in wherever and whenever appropriate. Even if one of your keywords is a cliché that you don’t want included on your web copy, make sure you still tag it in your META data so it is still present should somebody run a search for it. Done properly, it really does help with your search engine optimisation or SEO, driving your website up the search rankings.
Keep these keywords at the forefront of your mind for any other marketing material you produce. A press release about a new product or service offers a great opportunity to embed some of your key words while a direct marketing letter gives you the chance to be bolder when including these terms. Blogs are written by you and read by industry experts, followers and those interested in your business. What a fantastic opportunity to stamp some of your key words into your prose! What’s more, when writing a blog, unlike a press release – you have the final say over how it is published. Be striking and get your keywords as prominent as you can. Use one in your headline, add a sub-headline and don’t forget to tag the entire post with your key words. Again, keywords in blogs help with your SEO, and don’t forget to tag any images or videos you use with your key words. Be consistent.
Evaluate and monitor
Your keywords aren’t working? Then you need to sit down and think why this is not going to plan. Perhaps your industry is changing and your keywords are not supporting these changes? Maybe your target audience aren’t searching for your key words because your keywords are old fashioned or outdated. Put yourself in the mindset of a potential customer demographic. If you are selling to businesspeople think what kind of terms businesspeople will be using. It is unlikely to be slang words or terms that have been added to the Oxford English Dictionary within the last five years. They are more likely to be searching for the more traditional words that describe your business.
By regularly evaluating your key words and implementing them within your marketing strategy you can be sure that your key messages are being picked up by the right people operating in the right circles. Just as Google regularly reviews and changes its SEO terms, you need to be updating and changing your keywords for maximum effect.
And don’t forget, you can monitor the effectiveness of key words in your industry sector by using a free tool: Google Alerts. This will bring you regular updates and information from across the Internet using the key words you set up. It’s great for keeping an eye on your customers, competitors, and key industry trends as well as what is being said about your business – all because you’ve invested some time in thinking about key words that are important to your business.