Blog Archives

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….

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

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.

Hop on the Bridgit campaign!

Hello – Bridgit here, taking over the Bridge blog…..

I’m on a quest. Maybe you can help?

I want photos of you on, under or by a bridge.  This could be anything from an actual bridge, to a road sign with the word bridge on it or even a building named after a bridge. The photographs will be published on the Bridge Pinterest profile, on a related pinboard.  If you can involve frogs on bridges too, all the better!  (Please don’t harm any of my frog friends doing this though!)

This is more than just a simple campaign.  The directors of Bridge are committed wildlife conservationists, and we have all jumped on board with this to help develop a campaign that will raise the profile for the conservation of us frogs, as well as just being a fun thing to do.

We want to start the ball rolling first by getting your photos in.  We will then get the visitors to the Pinterest pinboard to vote on which photos they think are the best ones.  The lucky winners will receive various prizes, and we will also be donating money to amphibian conservation projects to help my home stay looking nice.

This campaign is yet another demonstration of Bridge utilising the latest social networks to show clients how effective campaigns can be run online.

To take part in the game, simply email your photograph to me at Bridgit@bridgepr.co.uk or share it with Bridge PR over one of its social networks.

Twitter: @BridgePR/@BridgitBridgePR

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bridgeprmediaservice

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/bridgepr

Alternatively, this pinboard is a community board so to contribute, email john@bridgepr.co.uk with Bridgit’s Bridges in the subject line and your Pinterest username in the email body. You will then be added to the board as a contributor.

5 tips on how to get the most from your PR agency

Recognising the value in public relations is fundamental to a series of successful campaigns and a significant profile raise. Many companies take a PR agency for granted and expect them to magic stories out of the blue. However, a strong relationship is needed between the client and PR if anything good is ever going to come of the contract.

At Bridge, we like our clients to be aware of the real value of PR, and understand what their responsibilities are – after all it is all about communicating the right messages correctly!

1. Develop a comprehensive PR brief

You wouldn’t jump into a pool without knowing how to swim and where you wanted to get to. Prevent your PR campaign from sinking by having a detailed brief on what your business wants to obtain from it. Also, be honest about your budget! If the financial perimeter is set then the agency will not go overboard on their creative proposal, resulting in the company being let down when they don‘t have the finances to support it. If the seeds are sown correctly with a clear goal ahead, then your business will only reap the rewards of a vibrant PR strategy.

2. Maintain regular contact

PR is not intended for sales leads – that is what your sales team are for, however it is important that your agency are able to liaise with the sales team in order to sync the information that is going out in the public domain. If the sales team are regularly updated with info from the PR side then they can refer to it in their sales patter. Speaking to your PR agency regularly will keep your business at the forefront of the PR teams minds, and that foundation of a relationship will enable them to prosper in the work they carry out for you.

3. Frequent face to face meetings

In our experience the best stuff comes from meeting clients face to face. Although we currently live in a digitally dominated society, human nature can prevail all. Face to face conversations have the ability to develop a corporate personality more than any other medium. We have had recent meetings with clients who are very busy people, and some of the best stories come as we are about to walk out of the door and they say “oh did I tell you we’ve just won a massive contract…”

4. Tell them EVERYTHING

A PR agency can only be as good as the information they are provided with. Keep the PR agency updated with the happenings of your company as they will always be researching newsworthy angles in relation to what is going on in your marketplace. If you keep the PR team in the loop when it comes to news and business developments confidentiality will not be a problem as good agencies will always run content past you for approval first. Remember – they are working as part of your team!

5. Identify your ‘Bibles’

Whilst carrying out research on your PR campaign it is vital that you identify the key publications you want to be appearing in. Most publications provide media packs on who their readership is and what the circulation is. Maybe you are a local business and just want to appear in the local newspapers? Whatever the situation is you need to make the agency aware of this so that they can focus their material to the style and format of that specific publication. This way they will also begin to develop stronger relationships with the editors and reporters to ensure you receive regular coverage with them.

A New Year, New Challenges, New Opportunities

BridgitWith 2011 now behind us, we have had time to reflect on what Bridge has achieved in the last 12 months and what we are looking forward to achieving in 2012.

The past year has seen some major changes in our company with the development of new products and services, and the addition of new team members to support our growth. We have also developed  our partnerships with clients and now represent customers across a wide range of industry sectors. 

This has given us a very firm foundation for 2012, and we are very excited about the coming year, especially being a Coventry based agency with all that is about to happen surrounding the 2012 Olympics and Euro 2012.   

New ways of working in PR were very much to the forefront throughout the whole of 2011.  Social media gained in popularity with the majority of our clients and we spent a great deal of time providing training support around this and other marketing communications topics.   The new raft of digital technologies certainly helped us to raise the profile of our clients, a number of whom enjoyed national media exposure.  This was underpinned by having really great stories to tell.  Content is the lifeblood of marketing communications campaigns, and every one of our clients had interesting and topical stories in 2011.

In the summer months, we launched one of our own campaigns based around, Bridgit, a rather engaging red-eyed tree frog, who became the centre-piece for a social media workshop titled “Making the LEAP”.  Bridgit very quickly took on a life of her own after a successful campaign to name her, and we then set about creating her identity as our social media mascot.  You will see a lot more of Bridgit in 2012, so watch out for her.

As we headed towards Autumn, we increased our team again and welcomed our new account executive, Natalie Hunt.   With a breadth of experience across journalism and broadcast media, Natalie is a great addition to our team, and very quickly established herself with a number of our clients as well as building relationships with editors and journalists up and down the country. 

 

Looking Ahead

 It’s going to be great to be in Coventry

It’s particularly exciting to be in Coventry as we head into 2012.  The buzz surrounding  the 2012 Olympic Games is now starting to heat up in earnest, and Coventry will be in the thick of everything with some of the major games being hosted in our City.  In addition, local Company, Imagineer Productions, has created a magnificent spectacle in “Godiva Awakes” which will shine  the spotlight on two of the city’s home grown industries:  Lady Godiva and cycling.  The bicycle was invented in Coventry so what better propulsion to use to take the enormous Godiva puppet on her journey from Coventry to London.  Another Coventry coup is the Olympic torch.  This is yet another Coventry creation that will focus attention on the region, and especially when the Olympic torch relay wends its way through the Midlands on its way to the Olympic Stadium.    In among these major events is an anniversary that also has strong Coventry connections:  the centenary of the maiden voyage and sinking of RMS Titanic in 1912. Bridge client, Titanic Heritage Trust, is hosting a series of events throughout 2012 commemorating this event (hyperlink). 

New ways to boost your business

 As we have mentioned in a previous blog  ‘Boost your Business with “Video PR’, videos are 53 times more likely to generate a first page ranking than traditional SEO techniques, which means more visitors to your website, more calls generated, and ultimately more sales.  Just a short video about your products and/or services that you offer could increase the calls generated to 18%.

Working with our partner, Whirlwind Productions, we are keen to make you aware of the benefits of Video PR and how this can move your company forward, whether it be a short, sharp video release, or a larger budget corporate video.  We will be bring you more information on how you can boost your business through video PR through our own training and workshops, e-shots, and blogs.

 Social Media will continue to grow and develop

 Building on the great successes of 2011, we will be helping more businesses to make the most of social media.  No more can businesses say “Why should we be using social media?”, and finding reasons not to engage with their online audiences.  Instead, we are now hearing “Why would we not use social media, it has so much to offer?”  We predict that the social media revolution will continue to grow, and for some of our clients it will be a case of their social media activity maturing as they reap the rewards of early engagement after spending time building their following and creating and curating great content for their stories. 

Last year was a great year for us and we enjoyed every minute of it.  We are very excited by the prospect of continuing to work with our clients, partners and suppliers. 

 If you haven’t already signed up for our e-newsletters, then please take the time to do so now, and we will keep you up to date on the latest in PR and marketing and how you can use the lifeblood of your business (your stories) to really get noticed in 2012. 

 A Happy New Year. 

Boost your business with “Video PR”

With the New Year just around the corner, businesses need to be looking at their strategies and trends for the forthcoming year. Specifically, which channels to allocate their marketing budgets. 

One of the most exciting marketing channels to watch next year (quite literally and pardoning any puns) is video PR.  All our sources tell us that this is the fastest growing area, with the UK being the third on the list for the highest number of videos watched in 2011, so far.  This equates to a staggering 166 billion videos viewed in the past 12 months with only America and Canada ahead of us in the viewing statistics.

From a consumer’s perspective, video is a much more accessible format in such a congested media.  It gives the story far more impact through both sound and pictures, and has the potential to go viral if the subject matter is entertaining enough or it catches an emerging trend.  When you think about it, are you more likely to switch on your mobile device/TV or travel to the shop to buy a newspaper? Technological advances are the biggest influence on the way society operates. Marketing departments therefore need to stay ahead of the game.

Brands using video as a promotional or point of purchase tool are enjoying significantly higher conversion rates than those using static content, therefore if your business does not currently include video in its strategy this is a strong indication it should be included for 2012.

Video also massively helps your SEO opportunities attracting the attention of search engines, especially when supported by a keyword-rich title and a paragraph about its content.  This needs to be taken very seriously when you consider that Google now owns YouTube,

If you need any further convincing that video PR needs to be part of your business marketing mix for 2012, then here are some of the facts and figures:

  • A total of 1.2 billion people watched 201.4 billion online videos in October 2011 alone.
  • 85% of marketing brand managers currently use online video on websites for promoting products and services.
  • Videos are 53 times more likely to generate a first page ranking than traditional SEO techniques.
  • If a small business adds a video to their website’s business profile:
    • Profile views are increased by 100%
    • Profile clicks are increased by 30%
    • Generated calls are increased by 18%
    • The ecommerce site receives an increase of 55% in its flow of traffic, increase of 30% in the physical site, and incidence of purchases gets an increase of 24%.

What can video PR be used for?

Video can achieve all the usual PR angles and more. Here are a few examples of videos your company may use:

  • VNR (Video News Release) – must be newsworthy and strong to send around television stations
  • Product Launches
  • Video of conferences and events
  • Video for conferences and events
  • Vox pops
  • Client testimonial videos
  • Video tour of your company office
  • Short interviews to introduce personnel
  • “How to” videos to demonstrate your expertise

Where can these videos be seen?

The internet offers many destinations for video to be posted including magazine/news websites, blogs, company websites, micro-blogs, forums and direct emailing. In fact if you have produced a video for your latest release you are more likely to get covered by local and national press due to their current demand of video content. The traffic to newspaper websites is continuing to surge despite a decline in print circulation and editors are embracing video for higher SEO in a media where convergence journalism is an absolute must.

At Bridge we already have magazine and news editors crying out for video content, and we predict this will be a growing trend in 2012. 

How can you market your business with video?

Bridge has a range of video packages to suit every budget and every need, from a straightforward short, sharp video news release to a bigger budget corporate video. 

To find out more, just get in touch.

Coventry communications firm helps SMEs in digital age

A host of new Coventry and Warwickshire SMEs have been finding out how social media can help kick-start their businesses.

 Around 40 start-up businesses from the region attended a presentation from experts at Coventry-based Bridge PR on building their digital presence to help succeed.

 The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber-backed event at the Brooklands Grange Hotel, Holyhead Road, heard from Bridge PR’s commercial director Denise Taylor how social and digital media tools could help build their brand identity and raise their profile.

 “Digital and social media are turning how we access news on its head and companies need to look at how they fit these tools into their overall marketing strategies to create their brand indentities and raise their profile.

 “Bridge PR is one of the forerunners in helping businesses with new media and new media training and delegates at our event heard how they could use social media tools cost-effectively to their best advantage.”

 Gary Lillistone, managing director of Bridge PR, said: “It was surprising to here that a lot of start-ups are already tentatively using these new media marketing tools. Our aim is to help them refine how they use these tools to their advantage to give them a competitive edge in what is still a challenging trading climate.”