Blog Archives

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

By Cynthia Mbugua, media and communications student at Coventry UniversityCynth

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Why trade shows still have a role to play in successful manufacturing PR

As a company that specialises in traditional industries like manufacturing, we are often being asked by our clients whether or not trade shows are still worth all the time and money you have to put in when committing to exhibit. For a long time trade shows have attracted a lot of stigma for experiencing drops in visitor numbers, asking for too high an investment for a stand booking and for failing to promote themselves. With reports over the last few years that the UK economy has become even more challenging for businesses to operate in, trade show expenses are ones that have been cut from many company budgets.

However, the manufacturing industry is on the rise. Recent Purchasing Manager Index (PMI) figures for the first quarter of 2013 inched down to 50.8 from a downwardly revised 51.2 in December 2012. That was just short of forecasts for a reading of 51.0 but for a second month running was above the 50 level that separates growth from contraction.

We saw for ourselves last year renewed optimism for manufacturing trade shows in the UK after attending both MACH exhibition and the Advanced Engineering Show at the Birmingham NEC. Both reported record numbers of visitors from all over the world and proved that trade shows can still be effective. So what do we tell our clients when they ask us if the large overheads of trade show exhibiting are justified? We tell them that when exhibiting is a part of your overall PR and marketing strategy then it can be a cost that can easily be recovered through new business.

tradeshow

As Farnborough prepares for the Southern Manufacturing show this week and subcontracting manufacturers prepare for Subcon exhibition in June, how many of these exhibiting businesses have visitors already identified as firms they want to find out more about at these exhibitions? How many exhibitors are visitors not already of?

When running well placed PR and marketing around trade show appearances, businesses can let visitors know of their booked stands and encourage people to approach them during the exhibition. Many trade magazines run extensive features around trade shows a couple of months before the show begins and businesses can capitalise on these features by submitting well placed editorial. Of course, nobody wants to read a news story that says a business is exhibiting at a trade show if that is the only information it reveals and Editors will always spike self indulgent stories. Concentrate on why you are exhibiting and shout about these reasons. Are you using the exhibition to launch a brand new product and offer people demonstrations of how this product works? Are you looking to break into a new market and meet with companies that already operate in these circles of industry? There is a story behind every trade show appearance if you look beneath the surface and it is these stories that the press want to receive.

Of course, if you send out regular newsletters from your company and have good data lists then this is an outlet that you can use to simply say ‘visit us at an exhibition.’ You can have all the bias you want for direct marketing material as it does not need to be instantly newsworthy and unbalanced like press material does.

It’s not just a case of press material though. These days, many trade show exhibitions run their own Twitter accounts and have their own discussion groups on Linkedin. By feeding into these with your own company social media you can help raise awareness of your stand that you have booked at a trade show. Social media channels are often the first places people visit when looking for information on a trade show and content from these social media websites are well picked up by leading online search engines.

Enjoyed a successful trade show? Then visit it again in your PR and marketing planning and start telling your stories of trade show success. If you picked up a new contract at a trade show, that is something worth shouting about or even if you received a record high number of visitors to your stand, people should really know about it! It is stories like this that help convey a positive image of your company and the manufacturing industry as a whole.

The next time you book yourself a stand at a leading trade show, consider what PR and marketing you can do to help publicise your appearance there and make sure you are considering trade show appearances in all of your PR planning. After all, its better to let people know beforehand why you are exhibiting so they can make sure they come and see you than get lost in amongst the long list of exhibitors and remain an unknown company.

Bridge PR & Media Services has developed a unique starter PR package aimed at giving companies appearing at trade shows an opportunity to see for themselves how effective PR and marketing can be around a trade show exhibition at an affordable price. For more information on this package, call us on 02476 520 025 today.

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….

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.

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.

What is PR?

It’s a question that is commonly asked – particularly by businesses owners who think they need PR, but are unsure exactly what it is. Some people think it is a way of winning new business; others think that it’s simply an exercise that gets them in the local paper and others believe that it just enhances their reputation. The real answer? It can do all this and so much more.

Reputation

ImagePublic Relations is all about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. It’s about not only developing a good reputation for your business but managing that reputation once you have built it up – establishing and maintaining goodwill and mutual understanding between a business and its public.

How does it work?

PR comes in many different forms; marketing, social media, public affairs, corporate communications, event management, content marketing public information – all titles which contribute to the umbrella that is Public Relations and all topics that cover a part of what PR is.

It’s about establishing trust between a business and the public, which could be done through many forms. Telling stories to the local, national, global and trade presses will catapult a business in front of a large public base. Being active on social networks and engaging with customers; old, new and potential shows the public that a business cares about the public. By holding regular events or seminars, your business can help educate the public about what it is you do. Through research, feedback, communication and evaluation, a business can enjoy positive PR and subsequent positivity when it comes to sales and customer lists.

PR is a more credible source of promotion than advertising. An editorial in a local magazine, promoting your business is worth far more than the price of an advertisement in exposure and credibility. Adverts are paid-for pages, targeting a specific audience whereas an editorial is placed because you have a good story worth telling – not because you are paying for the pleasure!

Do I need PR?

Yes. PR can only be good for business. Your company need not be the biggest, the most profitable or the most powerful in your industry sector to reach out and build trust with the public. In fact, without this circle of trust, you may never be the best in your sector.

Just as it doesn’t matter how brilliant your services are or how ground-breaking your products are – if nobody knows about them, they aren’t going to buy them. Every inch of your business can be run to perfection but you will make no money of nobody knows who you are – they will continue going to your competitors. With PR, the public will know who you are; they will see for themselves the successes of your business and grow to trust your brand and its services.  If you communicate more effectively with the public than your competitors do, it will be you who the public turns to going forward.

Still not convinced?

Take a look at the question below and if you answer yes to any of them, you need PR!

  • Do I want to grow my business?
  • Do I want to build a foundation of trust with the public?
  • Do I want to be ahead of my competitors?
  • Do I want to move into new markets?
  • Do I want to win new customers while retaining my existing ones at the same time?
  • Do I want to win over my local community
  • Do I want to be recognised as the best in my field of expertise?

To kickstart your PR and marketing, give Bridge PR and Media Services a call today on 024 7652 0025 and we can work out a plan that works for you.

Top Content Marketing Tips

Content Marketing: An umbrella term encompassing all marketing formats that involve the creation or sharing of content for the purpose of engaging current and potential customers…..

It sounds simple doesn’t it? But in practice, there are actually few companies out there who can create good content for their different marketing channels.   

Effective content marketing requires a strategic approach followed by detailed planning to produce “stories” that are engaging.  By engaging we mean stories that offer something to the reader through being interesting, informative or entertaining.  If they can be all three, then even better!

Identify your target audience…

Who are you looking to reach out to and connect with? What kinds of things do they want to be reading, watching and hearing? Just as any new retail outlet needs to find the right situation to construct a new store, you need to find the right networks to reach certain people. A DIY store is not going to open up shop right next to another DIY unless it has an impressive USP to attract new customers, just as you shouldn’t be sharing the same old content with the same old people time and time again.

You want people to be receptive to your content so find out what their interests are. Get to know the kinds of topics that excite them and create targeted content aimed at their needs.

Get your marketing strategy right…

You need to know your platforms well. These days, there are more social networks than ever before, and this market is still growing.  So make sure you are using the right network to get a specific message across. For example, if your subject is controversial, you can measure its response much easier through blog comments or Facebook comments than you can through Twitter responses. If you are after short promotions or quick web visits though, it is Twitter that can make an immediate short-term impact.

Develop your key messages…

What is it exactly you are trying to say? Find out what it is that your target audience is searching for on the web and cater your content around that. Much like when adding META tags to web articles to enhance SEO, search Twitter for relevant hashtags and buzz words to add to the content you share.

Do something different…

If you go to a Star Wars convention dressed as Harry Potter, you will attract attention whether you want to or not so why not try some different to enhance your content marketing? We are one of the first PR and marketing companies in the region to introduce video PR into the content marketing plans of our clients and offer a brand new way for consumers to view content. Text and images are all very nice but who wouldn’t rather watch a video of something of interest than read about it? Video is the latest way of communicating your messages with your audiences and is fast becoming one of the most shared content forms in the online world.

Build relationships…

Remember that the key to effective content marketing is not only creating your own content but sharing relevant articles too. Make sure you get to know those in your social networks and take every opportunity to engage with them regularly. We have set about creating an exciting new networking event that was born out of a joke on Twitter, which will see us meet some of our social networking peers and put faces to their names, thus adding a touch of familiarity to our social networking activity.

Evaluate your strategy…

Like with anything, it is important to constantly evaluate your content marketing strategy. Is your content being shared within the right circles? If not, why not? What can you do to make sure that next time you blog or tweet, it is seen by the right people?

Everybody has unique methods of content marketing that works for them, whether scheduling in content or sharing content at specific times. Only through evaluating your marketing communications activity will you find a method that suits you, and one that you can utilise in future.

Do you need some help with your content marketing or are you intrigued about just what our video PR service can offer your business? Get in touch with us today and see how we can help you get the best out of your business.

Want to know more about the networking event we are planning? Stay tuned to our blog and keep a lookout on Twitter for the hashtag #warwickcookieparty and all will be revealed…..