Category Archives: Social media marketing

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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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….

From Detroit to Miami – all in aid of the veterans

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

This is the final 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 wheels in motion to create her new DVD, she now details the story of her trip across America in search of veterans…..

As mentioned last week, I have been helped in pulling together Nose Art and Pin Ups by Mike Faley, who is on the board of directors of the Eighth Air Force Historical Society. We found Don Allen, crew chief looking after aircraft of the Fourth Fighter Group based at Debden near Saffron Walden in WW and he gave me contact details of around a dozen other veterans.

Because the film was about Nose Art and the stories behind those images, the first question I had to ask the veterans was – did they have Nose Art or Pin Ups on their aircraft?

Thankfully most said yes. This meant I could then go on to ask them to share their stories of life in England and their missions. You must remember of course that these were men in their mid to late eighties and yet when they talked of the past, their friends lost and battles won, they became animated, as though they had gone back in time, so vivid were their memories.

Stories included those from Don Freer, captain of the bombers “Stinky” and “Easy Does It” who spoke of how he had to bail out of the burning aircraft and then watched it explode in flames only minutes later.

Others, like Bob Barnhart, a fighter pilot, told how he had managed to get a picture of his wife painted on his aircraft because it just so happened a portrait artist was on the ground crew.

Once I had their permission to come over and film, my next job was to buy a map of the USA and work out the quickest and cheapest way to get around. When you are self-funding a film you need to make every mile count! So I bought the biggest map I could find, which covered the floor in the sitting room for two weeks – the rule being no-one was allowed to tread on it or move it as it was covered with sticky bits of paper with names, addresses and contact details.

The plan was to interview all the veterans on the East Coast from Detroit to Miami – driving most of the way – but with one internal flight which took us from Washington to Atlanta. What I didn’t count on was just how varied the weather would be – and how border agents in the USA almost stopped the project before it had begun!

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. To continue the story, visit the official Nose Art Films blog here.

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

Bridging the gap between journalism and PR

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

“As a print journalism student almost going into my third year at university you could say I have about 9 months to decide exactly what I want to do with my life. So after I panicked for a few days, I decided as much as I loved journalism I’d always been interested in working in PR. I eventually managed to secure a 3 week placement at Bridge PR & Media Services in Coventry, and decided to see what it was really all about.

After arriving at my placement, in just 24 hours I went from a trainee journalist, to a welcomed member of the team writing press releases and newsletters for some of Bridge’s loyal clients! I initially thought PR was just about managing a company’s reputation but the level of communication which is needed takes a lot of organisation and attention.

I  didn’t realise how important networking sites were in the world of PR. In the last 5 days I have joined the world of Twitter and written more tweets than I thought any human could possibly write!

During the week I’ve also learnt that Facebook and Twitter are also just some of many when it comes to social networking sites. The likes of LinkedIn and Pinterest are also part of the pack! And in order to provide successful marketing, social media is a must have when it comes to PR.

Despite it only being my first week, with the help of Bridge I have realised this is a world I’d be more than happy to work in and I’m looking forward to what the next two weeks at Bridge has in store for me.”

Why you should be using social media before your competitors

Once upon a time the internet was deemed unnecessary, now it’s literally everywhere! So if your business isn’t using social media yet, why don’t you leap ahead of your competitors and make your mark…?

We’ve been working with businesses on social media for quite some time now and if we could have a pound for every time we have heard a company state “Social media isn’t for business, it can’t do anything for us!”, then we’d all be happily retired and tweeting from a beach in Mauritius. Unfortunately, reality works a little differently and we are still definitely all in Coventry. However, we have compiled a list of reasons as to why you need to be ahead of your competitors in the social media marathon.

1. Lead the conversations

If you get in there before your competitors then you can lead the conversational topics around things relevant to your business. For example if you are using Twitter then you can demonstrate your expertise through various hashtags regularly and businesses will begin to recognise you as a leader in your field.

2. You’re seen as forward thinking

Take yourself back to school. There was always a kid who was first to have the new trainers, or listened to a certain band before they were played on the radio. He was always deemed the ‘coolest kid in the school’ because he was setting a trend that others wanted to follow. Similarly, becoming competent with your social media repertoire before competitors will give your business a ‘cool factor’ and place you ahead of others as a forward thinking business.

3. Engage with customers

A massive 61% of UK adults were reported to be using social media in 2011, and this will have increased since then. Regardless of whether they operate personal or business accounts, that is a large sector of the population. You only have to see the huge increase of users each year to understand that it will not be long before it is saturated. Among all these users lie your customers – so why wouldn’t you want to be there too?

4. Be seen for free!

Social media accounts cost nothing to set up, however they have room to include all your branding and company news. It only makes sense to be visible in the social media spectrum.  It’s also one of the most cost effective marketing tools for raising the profile of your brand.

How has it helped some of our clients??

The Good Garage Scheme

Manchetts Garage based in Cambridge and Newmarket was already aware of the Good Garage Scheme but was unsure of the member benefits. The independent garage already had its own Twitter account, from which it regularly tweeted special offers and blog posts.  Upon seeing a number of consistently informative tweets from the Good Garage Scheme, Manchetts sent a direct message over the network to enquire about becoming a member.

Titanic Heritage Trust

The Titanic Heritage Trust has been part of an exhibition in Smethwick this year as part of the centenary to commemorate the sinking of the famous liner. We have been helping them with their social media, and they have had a number of visitors to the exhibition who became aware of it through its Twitter page.

Netmetix

In April one of our clients, which is an IT solutions provider, ran a seminar on cloud computing. This was publicised through Twitter and many of the attendees were able to sign up straight through the link in one of the tweets.

 

How you can get started in social media marketing

Bridge has been asked by Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber to run a FREE half day workshop on 3rd September to be held at the Quality Hotel, just off the A45.  This will give you all you need to get started on social media for your business.  More details coming soon, so keep an eye on this blog and our website.

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.

The King is dead. Long live the King….

ImageEver since as far back as the 17th century newspapers have been the Kings of content; the number one source for news and stories. They have broken some of the biggest stories ever to happen in the UK; the sinking of the Titanic, the death of Hitler, the assassination of JF Kennedy and the first ever landing on the moon to name but a few.

Today, the newspaper is a dying breed – as rare as a bright day in summer.  Ever since Johnstone Press in Derby – one of the biggest newspaper publishers in the country, announced a large drop in advertising revenue, three years ago, publishers across the country have followed suit. Local newspapers have folded like falling dominoes and even a few national titles have been forced to fold. It’s not just in the UK either. Countries like The Netherlands and the US are also experiencing a dramatic decrease in their numbers of local and national newspapers.

It’s not that good stories no longer exist but that people are finding new ways of sharing their stories, more quickly and effectively. The days when newspapers were the kings of content are long gone and instead other forms of media are taking their place; blogs, newswires and social media. Newspapers are no longer the Kings of content – content has become the King of itself.

These days you needn’t wait for a pressing house to finish printing a newspaper for the next day, to read about yesterday’s news. Instead, you can access it 24/7 via the Internet and actually read stories as they break. On a smaller scale, people are publishing their own stories on their websites and sharing their news with niche audiences, without having to go to a third party ‘specialist’ to get their tales published.

Social media has provided the biggest threat to newspapers over recent years. This time last year the world first heard about the death of Osama Bin Laden but it wasn’t from The Daily Mail, The New York Times or The Washington Post. It wasn’t even from Sky or BBC news, who, like other broadcast news stations, have the ability to share stories more quickly than the printed press. Instead, it was via Twitter, where the story broke as it happened, quickly gathering pace through retweets content sharing. Within just a couple of hours there were 500,000 tweets globally about Osama Bin Laden, 796 blog posts and 507 published news articles online, way before any newspaper was able to print the information.

It’s no surprise that newspapers are becoming known as ‘old fashioned.’ However, many that continue to thrive, like our own Coventry weekly’s, do embrace the internet and are publishing a lot more news online, as they use the printed version to publish more community-based news. Many have made the transition to social media effectively and are sharing content with the right people as news happens.

The job of a journalist will always be in demand; fluent writing styles, a knack to reproduce stories in writing and the legal knowledge to avoid any criminality when doing so but so many more ‘ordinary people’ are now taking on that role as bloggers. The internet allows people to post news and comment via their own websites as self-publishers. Such opportunities have created small online communities who share content together, eliminating the prowess and clout that newspapers once held. As a result, content marketing has become the number one way for businesses and people to get noticed and whilst newspapers and the media still play a huge role in this process, it is a role that is slowly switching from print to online and only the big players in content marketing will keep up.

Make sure you keep up with the transition from print to online by asking Bridge PR to boost your brand through their knowledge of content marketing.