Category Archives: "digital media"

Are you ready for your moment in the sun?

I’ve spent the last week cutting the grass in my garden. Yes, it took me a whole week – I don’t even have a large garden. It’s not as simple as pushing a lawnmower up and down – my grass has been neglected since last summer. It’s that long, the rain doesn’t even make it down to the soil– even in a storm! In fact, I was surprised not to find a giant panda hidden in there somewhere, in between the long grass!

I used to laugh at my neighbour when he went out in the winter to cut his grass, trim the hedge and remove the weeds from his garden. I’m not laughing now because while I am tidying up my jungle in the hot weather, he is sitting back in his scenic garden enjoying a drink and soaking up the sun. If I had taken the all-year maintenance approach that he has, I wouldn’t be working so hard on my garden when the sun came out; knowing that by the time I finished everything, winter would be here and I’d have no time to enjoy it!

GardenIt’s the same with PR and marketing – it works best when you do it all year round rather than just when the sun comes out. Like my neighbour going out in the winter to tend to his weeds while I stay inside in the warmth, PR is a constant thing and has limited success when only done once for a short space of time. In this scenario, my neighbour represents a business using PR properly.

My neighbour has spent the year maintaining his garden, which in marketing terms means that for the past 12 months he has been building steady PR collateral and gradually getting his business profile raised among his target audience. Even in the winter when he didn’t want to commit to his garden, he went out and did some work on it. Even when he didn’t have time to spend on PR and other things became more important, he still kept that momentum going. Now the summer has arrived and he is sitting back in his beautiful garden and enjoying a drink in the sunshine. The flowers are blooming and he can clearly see the results of his hard work and effort. His business is having its moment in the sun – it is launching a new product, it’s won an award or is celebrating huge growth. Now he capitalises on the PR momentum he has building up for the past year and starts to experience some really huge benefits. People want to know about his moment in the sun because they have been reading about and thinking about his business all year round

Those that have not been tending to their gardens all year round are like businesses that have no PR collateral. When the winter was here it was easy to sit inside and stay warm and laugh at your neighbour as he braved the cold to cut his grass. When other things became more important than PR you did not raise your business’ profile. Now your moment in the sun has arrived and you are only just starting the work – it’s too late. By the time you have finished your garden, winter will be here and you will not have spent a single day relaxing in your garden or enjoying your hard work. When your business has its moment in the sun and you want to let everyone know you have just won an award or enjoyed a record breaking month, it’s really hard work. Nobody knows who you are because you have not been steadily raising your profile so your story is not as interesting to others as it could have been.

It’s a vicious cycle and just like if you want to enjoy your garden in the summer months, if you want to enjoy your business’ moment in the sun then your PR and marketing has to be constant, even when it doesn’t seem so important – to make sure it works when it is important.

I don’t know what you will be doing this winter but I’ll be joining my neighbour, outside in my woollies, cutting the grass in my garden!

Make 2013 the year to put your business in the spotlight

The first quarter of 2013 has been of the best ever at Bridge after securing five new clients in just four new months. You may have seen in the press news of our biggest ever client win following a successful pitch to independent garage scheme: Trust My Garage. This came amid new contracts with Obsession Salon & Spa, atg airports, BAKER and most recently, logistics company, BDA.

It seems that businesses throughout the UK are starting the year with ambitions of growth and in order to achieve this growth, they are taking a fresh look at their marketing strategy.  Financially, it continues to be a very difficult time to be in business in the UK, but the latest quarterly findings from BDRC Continental’s Business Opinion Omnibus reveal that SMEs continue to remain optimistic about the UK economy, posting a net optimism score of +10% in Q1 2013, more than twice the level seen in the same period last year. This optimism is backed up by the large number of enquiries we have been receiving for our own services so far this year.

business_spotlightThere has never been a more important time for businesses to market their products and services. Competition is fierce and the UK economy is proving tough for traders. By investing in specialist marketing support, you can make sure that your business is always ahead of the game and the first name on the lips of potential customers. Here are our top five reasons why you should be proactively marketing your business, and how great PR can help:

1. If nobody knows you exist, how are you going to win new business?

Whatever line of business you are in, one of the biggest challenges remains the same and is crucial to business success – how do I attract new clients and win new business? You can have the best company in the world, but if nobody knows that you exist how are they going to buy from you? PR is all about raising your profile and getting your business in front of the people that matter most, whether that be fellow businesses or consumers. We employ a mix of traditional and digital PR services to help put your company name in front of your target audiences includingarticles in trade press, local consumer press, social media activity and e-marketing. By developing  a robust marketing strategy and taking the care to understand your business and your audience we can make sure that you are getting seen by potential new customers.

2. Get ahead of the competition

Competition in business has never been more fierce and the battle for business remains difficult to win, whatever industry you operate in. PR and marketing can help. If you keep seeing your competitors’ names everywhere then perhaps it is time you looked into doing some PR and marketing of your own?  Why not put your business in the spotlight and be the one that is always being seen!

3. Win the support of your local community

When it comes to success in business, it helps to have your local community on your side. If you don’t already have the support of your local community or you want to strengthen this support, now is the time to join millions of other business in planning some PR and marketing activity. Utilising local press to tell positive stories about how your business is injecting cash or jobs into a local community can be really useful in winning over your local area.

4. Attract commercial partners or investors

These days, the banks are rarely generous when it comes to lending so an alternative source of funding is commercial sponsorship or investment. If potential investors do not know about your business, however, they certainly won’t be investing any money into it any time soon. Trade press can be a really useful way of reaching out to potential investors and letting them know all about your business by sharing some of your success stories.

5. Move into new markets

You have already saturated your existing markets and are looking to branch out somewhere new. PR and marketing is the answer. By employing a mix of traditional and digital PR, you can help create a name for yourself in markets that you have otherwise been missing out on or that you have not yet explored.  Whether your new market is a geographical one, or in different sectors, we can help by targeting your key messages specifically to these audiences.

It is said that the editorial endorsement of PR is so powerful that a page of PR coverage is worth 3-5 times a page of advertising. We have welcomed five clients so far this year with ambitions to grow, attract new business, saturate markets and get ahead of the competition. Join them and give us a call on 02476520025 to discuss where we can take your business with a successful strategic PR and marketing campaign.

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….

Helping businesses understand the value of strategy at juicy launch event

From Denise Taylor, managing directorDenise presenting

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.

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

Why it’s important to understand your clients in PR….

By: Work placement student Leona Daly
From:
Nottingham Trent University
Studying:
Print Journalism
Age:
20
Inspiration:
Cherry Healey
Twitter:
@LeonaDaly3

After three weeks at Bridge PR & Media Services I have learnt that in order to be successful you have to get to know your clients and understand their specific marketing needs.

I’ve also learnt how to send a press release by contacting a variety of media publications and  interacted with clients in order to ensure the PR they receive is relevant and beneficial to their business. By maintaining a good level of communication with your clients, it allows you to have a range of information which can then generate positive attention from the media.

In addition I have also gained an insight into an avenue not many companies venture into. GrowthAccelerator allows growing businesses to receive funding to achieve and even exceed their goals. Bridge has started work as a training provider to help provide strategic training and support to new and existing clients, and I have been assisting to develop marketing collateral around this.

After initially thinking PR and journalism were worlds apart I can now see the skill-set is actually quite similar. In the end, it’s all about finding the newsworthy stories.  In PR it is about understanding your client well enough to mine the stories from their business. By doing this strategically, you can make the most of media opportunities and get your client’s positive stories heard by the right people, and really increase the impact and reach.

After just three weeks at Bridge I am now even more determined to make this learning curve the start of a new career and complete my degree with the mind-set that PR will definitely be a part of my future.

Why good media relations is more than fine wine and cake…..

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 have been 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 could never 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, what they look for in terms of content for their publications and working with them on coverage. To many, the way to get a journalist on side is to send them food or wine. 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 humans 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 rung 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 in the future. 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.

As well as investing heavily in the time it takes to develop personal relationships with the media, Bridge also invests in press distribution software and systems to ensure our clients’ stories achieve a much greater reach through newswires and social media activity.

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.

How to utilise social media effectively

A brand new report from Digital Marketers E-Consultancy has found that only ten per cent of UK businesses actually monitor their ROI from social media. This is despite the fact that more than three-quarters of respondents to the survey said they are either running an online community or plan to do so in the next 12 months. We have been promoting the value of social media and helping our clients utilise it effectively for the past couple of years but this report reveals that very few UK businesses are still not utilising the medium effectively enough to enjoy company growth Further figures state that 29% of marketers had set up their company’s own social media accounts in the last 12 months while 35% had been using social media for more than a year. Only 23% of businesses asked quoted social media as a part if their online presence. Those unable to monitor their ROI through social media must not be using it accurately so we thought that we would share our top five tips to effectively utilise social media marketing.

1. Plan

What do you hope to get out of your social media activity? Business growth and profit are one thing but which audiences are you looking to reach out to and connect with? Once you have niche audiences in mind, sit down and list as many keywords and phrases as you can that are dedicated to those audiences and your own business. Set up Google Alerts for those terms too – its free and provides valuable information with which you can monitor and measure you social media activity. By setting out with a clear plan in mind, you can execute a social media campaign that will bring the kind of results you want to see.

2. Build communities

From your list of words and phrases, research which ones would be good hashtags for Twitter and use them whenever you tweet about relevant content. Search for these hashtags within Twitter and follow those tweeting similar stories and information to you. Most importantly though, let people know that your business has entered the social media world and show them where to find you. Have follow icons on your home page and include your social media URLs on your business cards and promotional literature. Nobody will join your community of they don’t know it exists.

 3. Broadcast

Get conversations going on Twitter. Ask people their opinions on topics relevant to you and your business. Make sure you only provide valuable content for people to engage with. They don’t care about what you had for breakfast but may want to discuss popular topics in the news with you.

 4. Content

As we have been saying for years, good quality content is the secret to successful social media. Create a blog and blog regularly on topics that matter to you and your audience. Share your blog posts with your social media collectives and encourage them to comment and share within their own circles. When sharing content though, make sure you are consistent. Pay attention to your tone and style and be consistent with this. If you suddenly switch things around, people will just lose interest.

5. Convert

Get in your call to action. Offer a free ebook or catalogue for example or invite them to read your testimonials to get an idea of the kind of successful work you have done in the past. Without an effective call to action, very few people will actually consider your business for a service; many choosing to keep you as a social media associate instead.

To get the most out of your social media activity, give Bridge PR and Media Services a call today on 02476 520 025

Five top tips for Content Marketing

We were delighted to be guest speakers at last week’s Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce event, where we shared our top five tips on content marketing. The attendance figures were impressive with local businesses also benefitting from tips on accountancy from Simpson Financial Services, and how to pitch to local government from Warwickshire County Council. For all those who missed it, here are our five top tips for content marketing…..

1 – Stories are the lifeblood of your business

Without great stories how can you tell people about your business, who you are or what you do?

Stories are in every business. Are you approaching a significant anniversary? Have you launched a new product or won an award for your services? Have any of your staff done something interesting for charity or championed their community in some way? Are your products quirky or unusual? Are there any general business issues that you can piggy back on? All these are stories that, when you find the right angle, people are interested in hearing and sharing. There’s no such thing as a business without stories to tell – you just need to find the right angles for the right audiences.

2 – Love your business strategy

Only when you really understand your business goals and strategy will your marketing follow suit. What is your mission? What is the purpose of your business and where do you see it in a few years time? How are you going to achieve your mission?

Once you have answered all of the above, that is where your marketing plan comes into play. It will help you to achieve your business mission and enable you to set targets for the number of contracts you need to win, the number of new customers you require and which sectors you need to target in order to enjoy growth.

3- Marketing communications planning

There is no substitute for good planning – make it a priority! Make sure you tie your planning in with your business and marketing strategy.

By understanding your target audience, you can plan for long term success. Often your audience will be your target customers but you might also want to target industry thought leaders with your marketing.

Prepare a plan of your monthly marketing activity. How many press releases will you create and send out? How many blogs will you write, and how many hours will you spend on social media?

4 – Content really is King!

These days there is no excuse for not having good content that will help drive traffic to your website or blog, or simply give you an opportunity to interact with your business communities.  It’s always better to generate your own original content about your company, its products and services and tell people the exciting things you are doing.  But you can also curate content to demonstrate your expertise in your industry sector. There are lots of content curation tools on the Internet, but why not try Scoop.it, for example.  Scoop.it allows you to put a few key words into your topic and then brings anything mentioned those keywords into your curation page.  This will generate many interesting stories about your industry which you can then share with your audiences – it really does work!

5 – Do your research

The internet and social platforms are an amazing store of knowledge, information and marketing intelligence for every conceivable industry sector.  Set up Google Alerts on every aspect of your business and industry and subscribe to RSS feeds and blogs so you are notified whenever a conversation is happening that you need to be a part of!

Listening is just as important as informing and sharing knowledge.  Listen to what your communities have to say on social networks and mine them for the gold nuggets that are potential content for you to convert into stories.