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:

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…”

Was Coventry watchmaking responsible for the UK engineering industry?

Had there been no watchmaking in Coventry it is likely that there would have been very little in the way of engineering industries at all.

You may consider the above to be a bold statement, but it can be argued that Coventry did not directly experience the influence of the industrial revolution because there was no nearby source of iron ore, no limestone and the coal was deep and had to sourced via mines rather than obtained by opencast methods. It was not until the development of the railway networks in the 1840’s and 1850’s that many town and cities like Coventry were able to readily obtain bulk supplies of iron and steel for use in manufacturing industries.

In the 1600’s a clockmaking and watchmaking industry grew up in Coventry and the reasons for this happening are unclear but it may have been due in part to it’s central position and it is known that a stagecoach run linked London, Coventry and Liverpool which became the three major centres of watchmaking in the UK. There may also have been a Huguenot influence as Coventry had long been a place where immigrants had settled and a number of surnames of French derivation do crop up in watchmaking families.

Coventry did reach a position that it was known to have made at least 50% of all watches being made in England during the 18th and 19th centuries although it is difficult to accurately quantify these figures because many Coventry watchmakers were making movements and even completed watches which were not marked and were sold into the trade.

In 1861 weaving and watchmaking were both in a deep slump, which was in part due to the American civil war, people were starving and soup kitchens were set up. Many people were leaving the city to emigrate and prominent citizens were deeply concerned that the local pool of skilled labour was being diminished. They therefore set up a company (The Coventry Machinists) to manufacture sewing machines and the watchmakers proved adept at this due to the similarity of the work in making gearwheels and assembling drive trains

A nephew of Singer, who was one of the directors of the Coventry Machinists, visited Paris and bought back with him a French “boneshaker” bicycle. this was a rather crude affair but the potential was recognised by James Starley who was a foreman at the company and he developed the machine to be the forerunner of the modern bicycle. It was not long before former watchmakers found themselves making bicycles; this even included former dial painters being employed to paint the fine lines and designs on the cycle frames. Other cycle manufacturers sprang up in Coventry and at one point it was considered to be the cycle manufacturing centre of Europe. The invention of the internal combustion engine soon led to the development of a motor cycle and then motor car industry and entrepreneurs and inventors followed the by now well-trodden path to Coventry.

The Coventry clock and watch industry did survive the 1861 slump and watchmaking continued until the outbreak of the second world war, when the major manufacturers turned their hands to the production of munitions and other military equipment, which was why Coventry was targeted by bombing raids.

The major manufacturer, Rotherhams and Sons was making parts for the automotive trade after the war but did re-commence the making of a range of clocks which were usually given as presentation pieces and this continued until the 1960’s. So there you have it, without watchmaking in Coventry, we could well have gone without engineering overall!

This blog post was written by Coventry Watch Museum. The Coventry Watch Museum Project consists of a group of people, many of whom were born and bred in Coventry, who are seeking to inform people about the history of watchmaking which was so important to the industrial development of the city. The Project is a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity.

For more information about Coventry Watch Museum click here

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 and Ebay UK 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

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 and Ebay UK at £15.99 plus p and p.

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

Gail Downey, Nose Art Films

Nose Art – actually not a New Age ritual….

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

One of the recent press campaigns we have been involved with here at Bridge is Nose Art and Pin-Ups. Directed and produced by Gail Downey, Nose Art and Pin-Ups is a documentary which follows the stories behind the art and images painted on the noses of aircraft by servicemen from the United States  in World War Two.

Gail has written a series of guest blogs for us. In this, her first, Gail outlines a little more detail about the DVD; the topics it covers and why she was inspired to tell such an interesting story……

For those of you who know what Nose Art is, the idea of making a film about the subject probably requires little explanation. For those who don’t I have had all kinds of questions. Is it piercings? Is it some weird form of artwork you have painted on your face? Is it a New Age ritual?

The answer is no to all of the above. Nose Art is simply the artwork which is painted on aircraft, whether it be during wartime or peace. Think Memphis Belle – the famous aircraft which flew from England in World War Two and made its name, and that of its crew, by becoming the first to survive 25 missions – no mean feat when the chances of survival for servicemen was one in seven. Can you imagine that? One in seven of you didn’t come home? Think about that on the way to work today. As you are sat in a traffic jam the seventh car doesn’t make it. Terrifying thought.

So for crews to have Nose Art and Pin Ups (pictures of girls) painted on their aircraft, it gave them a morale boost, something to “pat” when they got back from missions flying across Europe and into Germany – ten hours and more at a time. I bet the English Channel looked like a piece of heaven as they came home. No wonder the wartime song “White Cliffs of Dover” still resonates with that generation today.

So why make a film about Nose Art and Pin Ups? Well although there have been books written about the subject and pictures on the internet, I wanted to find out what these images actually meant to the crew. Why and how did they chose Our Gal Sal? What and who was Miss Dallas? How did the images actually get put onto the aircraft?

Along the way the crews also told me their amazing stories of friends lost, battles won, capture and escape. These were so fascinating that I had to include them in the DVD and in my next blog, I’ll tell you how I did it.

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

Gail Downey, Nose Art Films

Nose Art and Pin Ups is available from Amazon UK and Ebay UK at £15.99 plus p and p.

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

By: Work placement student Leona Daly
Nottingham Trent University
Print Journalism
Cherry Healey

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.

Bridging the gap between journalism and PR

By: Work placement student Leona Daly
Nottingham Trent University
Print Journalism
Cherry Healey

“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.”