Category Archives: “public relations”

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!

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PUBLIC RELATIONS AND NICHE CLIENTS-IS IT A MUTUAL RELATIONSHIP?

By Cynthia Mbugua, media and communications student at Coventry UniversityCynth

 

To many, the description of the words ‘niche audience’ might be unclear. A niche audience can be briefly described as a small number of consumers/users within a specific sector which has a custom need for a product. Public Relations plays a vital role in reaching out to niche audiences.

 

One of the reasons PR is such an integral part of communicating with a niche audience is that it helps to create a relationship between a business and its customer.

 

Public Relations includes services like traditional PR, newsletters, and social media. These channels are in turn very important to the business as they help it to connect directly with its niche markets.

 

  • Traditional PR – Although digital media has changed the face of PR, traditional media such as trade magazines remain important when communicating a message to a niche audiences. For example manufacturers typically still prefer traditional printed magazines to digital news sources so by placing relevant and interesting material in industry magazines, we can help manufacturing companies reach out to potential customers.
  • Social media is integral to tapping into niche markets. Websites like LinkedIn allow for a business to find specific people they want to potentially do business with. For example, our client Pollite manufactures frangible airport masts, and they utilise Linkedin to find electrical contractors for airports across the world.
  • Newsletters–  These are a great way of reaching the exact people you want to target. Strong data lists are crucial here – once you have a highly targeted data list, then a newsletter is the perfect way for marketing your products directly to people likely to do business with you.

 

If you would like to find out more about targeting your niche markets you can get in touch with us on 02476520025 for some professional advice on the best route to take…

 

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.

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.

Top five tips for strong media relations

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.

News Microphone Computer Online PodcastAt 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.

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.

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

The first Bridge in my career

Natalie Hunt, Bridge Account Executive one year on…

“Metaphorically speaking, a career is like a journey of bridges which you have to cross. Some long, some short, and some overwhelmingly high. A year ago I had just stepped foot upon my first real ‘Career Bridge’… at Bridge PR & Media Services.

“You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”

By applying for an internship at Bridge, I was taking a huge risk. At the time of graduating I was getting paid to do some communications work at a company in Manchester. However it didn’t completely fulfil my appetite for creativity. Bridge was enrolling for an intern, and the prospect thrilled me. I knew that if I wanted to get to the other side then I had to be prepared to take a risk, as I wasn’t going to land my dream job in PR if I possessed diddly squat experience in it. So I moved back down to the Midlands and propelled myself into the world of PR – something I had only experienced within a module at University.

Studying a Journalism degree equipped me with the tools I needed to succeed in the world of PR. With my news head firmly screwed on and my research skills fresh from 12 months immersed in my dissertation, I began crafting press releases with relevant and interesting angles.

After a month interning for Bridge, I was offered a permanent position which I snapped up straight away. I already felt part of the team.

Relationships are essential in the world of PR and marketing. Initially I was daunted by networking events in suits, and calling journalists to see if they would be interested in a story. But then I realised, each client, journalist, or prospect I deal with is a person too, and developing a relationship with them, makes the object so much easier to achieve. For example spotting the stories in a business, getting specific requests from journalists, or getting your services noticed comes far easier if there is already some form of a relationship established. And a lot of this can come through social media. You can start generic conversations with the people who you want to notice you! (@natters4 follow me ;))

I think a common misconception of PR is that you just send a press release out to the masses and expect them all to pick it up. Each publication has its own style and identity (something I learnt on work experience for a local newspaper) and it is important that as a PR professional you mould the story to fit their style.

Since working for Bridge, I have learnt far more than just public relations. For example I have learnt about business strategy, marketing, and social media.

Working for Bridge has allowed my business sense to develop into an exciting direction. My client base includes a B2B market and I have had to learn a lot about business processes etc. I have attended many networking events and more recently an economic Chamber conference where I learned a great deal about the business economy, and I’m now even being asked to talk about my experiences at undergraduate seminars in journalism, media and communications. I’m also currently working hard to further develop my business knowledge academically outside of the workplace.

Right now I love coming to work every day to eat up every challenge that I face. Bridge is a stimulating place to work at the moment, and we face some big and exciting Bridges as a company. Watch this space to see what I write in my second year review…”