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Helping businesses understand the value of strategy at juicy launch event

From Denise Taylor, managing directorDenise presenting

Last week we were delighted to be part of the launch for the Midlands first creative consortium, of which we are a member. The key message of the launch was one that Bridge has advocated for quite some time now:

When done strategically, marketing can have a positive impact on business development, regardless of industry sector!

The event followed recent reports that 70% of CEOs have lost their trust in marketers carried out by Fournaise Marketing Group. In order for CEOs to really experience benefits Warwickshire Creative Fusion promotes the need to make marketing highly targeted, strategic, consistent, and creative.

We met a diverse range of businesses from throughout the UK at the launch, and they all enjoyed the series of linked seminars bases around nine different disciplines of marketing. They covered all aspects of marketing from conceptualising campaigns to making your product go international. I gave a presentation entitled: “The pen is mightier…” which gave tips on mining businesses for great content.

I was happy to present to a full room of delegates who were interested in learning about mining their businesses for good stories.

Key points from my presentation:

  • There has been a seismic shift away from traditional print media to digital media. Sales of UK dailies have plunged by 20% in the past five years, however some trade magazines continue to fare reasonably well in sectors like manufacturing, but they also have a digital presence. This has completely revolutionised the PR industry and has opened up many more channels and opportunities for agencies and companies alike – but – it is a case of finding your way through all the noise and chatter.
  • Good PR is about the content that exists in your business, and the content you create to tell your story. A survey of over 1300 marketeers by Outbrain on objectives of content marketing:
    • Increase engagement: 52%,
    • Increasing traffic to site: 42%
    • Raising brand awareness: 35%
    • Increased sales: 33%
    • Improved SEO: 31%
  • When having an online presence it is all about thought leadership and building reputation and credibility. If you can achieve this, then others will start to talk about your brand and products.
  • Building campaigns around issues is creative and creates original content that the press will be interested in.A key tip is to create polls and stories and then your can use this information through a variety of channels. 

We found that attendees left the event with a number of fresh ideas for their marketing campaigns. Cathryn Goodwin, Creative Engagement Officer at Creative Enterprise, founded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Coventry University said: “I gained some very useful tips about how to tell the story of my organisation, what we do and how we do it, and it was really good to talk to the supportive members of the team about how their skills could help our business and our clients. There was a good mix of people at the launch with a friendly positive vibe. We’re looking forward to dealing with the Fusion members again.”

The overall message from Warwickshire Creative Fusion is that when utilised strategically, the nine key areas of marketing; public relations, video production, design and branding, direct marketing, translation, print, photography, and web development can really deliver an effective return on investment, increase sales, and raise profit margins.

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A picture tells a thousand words – Why good images make good PR

When was the last time you flicked through a newspaper or magazine and stopped to read an article after seeing an interesting image? Not too long ago we bet! Have you considered how dull and uninteresting a publication would be if it was just pages and pages of text with no imagery at all? Very few would read it. Even fewer would remember a piece they read in it.

The truth is good images make good PR. Take the upcoming Olympics as an example. The opening ceremony is set to be a visual extravaganza. All competing nations will put on their own parades, the Olympic Flame will be on view for all to see and there will be a feast of UK culture for spectators to enjoy. How many national newspapers will have picture specials? How many front pages will be adorned with Olympic images?

Your PR story may not be on the grand scale of the Olympics but that doesn’t mean your images shouldn’t be. A strong image can really add life to a story and persuade an Editor to run with it – even if the subject is not all that interesting. If an Editor has two stories of equal strength, then they are more likely to run with the one that has the better image. Not only do images fill space but they also add an extra dimension to news articles, so it is worth getting it right. Here’s what makes a good press image:

  • Make it relevant

If your story is shouting about how great your new product is then including a picture of your Manager smiling and playing golf isn’t going to suffice. Make your image relevant to the story. Particularly if your story is about a new product, you need to show people what the product looks like so they can recognise it next time they want to place an order.

  • Don’t be boring

Images of people sitting at desks in suits are just not interesting. Are you going to stop flicking through a magazine and read a story because there is an image next to it of someone sitting at a desk? Thought not – so why should anybody else?

  • Caption your photos

It all comes down to the ‘w’s. Who, what, when, where, why? If you are taking a picture of a person, then the publication you are approaching needs to know who it is in the image and how they are associated with the story. Images of random, anonymous people are of no use to publications so neither will your story be.

  • Framing

This is particularly key if you are going to take your own images. Make sure everything you include in the image is centred nicely. Make it tight, with the subject of the image almost filling the frame. Photo editors are busy – the last thing they want to be doing is cropping and editing images that have been sent to them externally.

  • No logos

Please, no logos. Nobody likes logos.  Sending a company logo with a press release is lazy and shows that you have not gone to the effort to put together some interesting visuals. Logos are traditionally associated in the press with advertorials – paid for coverage – they have no place in editorial space where your inclusion in a publication depends on the quality of your story.

  • Use the professionals

If you can’t take a decent press picture yourself, then get the professionals to do it for you.   We work with a number of professional press photographers up and down the country, and they have the knack of understanding what a particular newspaper or magazine editor is looking for, whether it’s the shot from a quirky angle, an action shot, or something more abstract.

  • Tagging images increases your visibility

Images very often make it into online media these days, and this gives you the perfect opportunity to tag images with keywords and phrases that describe your business.  These are searchable online and can drive traffic back to your website.  So when you take any image that is going to be used digitally, do take time to think about how you can also increase your search engine optimisation.

These are just some brief points about why good images are so important.  A good picture really can tell a thousand words. Perhaps that’s why Infographics are now so popular, but that’s a story for another blog.