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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…”

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.

Harness the power of social networking with LinkedIn

There are now over 120 million professionals all over the world using LinkedIn to help grow their business by harnessing the power of online social networking.

Make the LEAP

Originally, LinkedIn was created as a recruitment resource, but has evolved as a major player in business networking and helps businesses in a number of ways…

  • Generating leads
  • Finding suppliers
  • Finding new employees / headhunting
  • Gathering market intelligence
  • Finding answers to questions
  • Staying on track with industry trends
  • Raising awareness of your business, products, services and much more…

 

LinkedIn gives the ability to broaden your networks and connect with people you might never have had the opportunity to link with previously. Since the Internet really took off in the 90s, people have been able to maintain contact with each other far more easily, and it was only a matter of time before people began to make business contacts with the same principle.

Everyone at Bridge has been using LinkedIn for some time now and between us we have acquired a lot of knowledge and expertise about how to get the most from it.

Here are our top tips…

Create a company profile that grabs attention Using the company profile facility means that you have another marketing channel where you can showcase your business and its products and services.  Everyone who connects with you will be able to see what your company offers.  The beauty of business social networking is that it taps into one of the key marketing principles that “people buy from people they know and trust.”

Make your profile 100% complete LinkedIn monitors how complete your profile is on a percentage scale based on work history, education, skills, connections, and recommendations. You should aim to be 100% complete as this optimises all of the functions available.  The aim is to raise the profile of your expertise in your particular industry sector.

Constantly leverage your contacts LinkedIn is very much based around the maxim of ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, and the connections you make are integral to your business development. There is a ‘degree’ gauge built into the site, where you will be shown how many degrees apart you are from any one contact. For example 1st degree means you know them personally whereas 2nd degree is you know someone who knows them and 3rd degree means they’re a friend of a friend… and so on. This is built on the old adage that everyone is connected by six degrees of separation.

Join relevant groups Another important part of LinkedIn is the ‘group’ section. Arguably one of the most powerful aspects of the networking site, groups allow you to engage with like-minded people in discussions relevant to your aims as a business and your sector as a whole. It can also be a mine of information about your industry, and will help you to keep up with the latest trends. It is a good idea to create your own group as this helps to drive traffic to your site and encourages more people to connect with you as the ‘community leader’.

Become a ‘LinkedIn expert’ Exploit the facility of offering expert advice on LinkedIn as this can help build your profile as an expert in your field, and adds an element of reality to the profile, giving connections reassurance about your business. Regularly check the ‘Questions’ section for subjects relating to your field, and when the person who posted the questions brands you as the best answer you gain a badge on your profile. The more badges you gain then the higher your level of expertise.

Get valuable recommendations These add a level of credibility to your profile or company. The more recommendations you have on your profile, the more people are likely to trust it. However, it is important to gain ‘valuable’ recommendations such as clients and customers who have been involved with your company or have used your services of products.

 

If you would like to become completely ‘social media savvy’ in order to boost your business, then Bridge PR & Media Services are running a series of Social Media Workshops which will teach you the principles of social media marketing, how to use the tools and platforms, and how to measure your success.

Make the LEAP into Social Media – 27th September 2011

Measuring Success – 04 October 2011

Making a Blogging Influence – 11 October 2011

LinkedIn for Business Success – 18 October 2011

Twitter for Business Success – 01 November 2011

Facebook for Business Success – 08 November 2011

 

For further inquiries all you need to do it contact Bridge on 024 76 520025 or email info@bridgepr.co.uk

 

The electrifying story continues…

image-with-episode-2-electrifying-results1Today is another special day in the life of The Factory. It marks the launch of episode 2 of this light-hearted, but surprisingly funny mini-series that follows the exploits of the hapless and likeable David and Gareth (who you will recognise from a look-alike confident, but inept office manager in Slough, and his side-kick). They are searching for the perfect ERP solution which kicked off with an introductory episode released in February 2009. So successful was the first episode that the follow on video has become a “must view”. In reality, David is a factory boss who is out of touch with modern business systems of today, and he is under pressure to seek out companies who are using ERPs to give their businesses a real edge. His first stop is a company called Astute Electronics, one of the world’s leading suppliers of fully tested and warranted electronic components. So what, you might ask. Electronics can be a dull subject for most of us, and another press release about a business solution might not rock everyone’s boat. This is where The Factory comes into its own. Each episode is so well done and captures the expressions of David’s bemusement in the world of commerce. Here at Bridge we are thoroughly enjoying supporting this viral marketing campaign through online and traditional PR, and we look forward to each episode with bated breath, and much anticipation. You can follow The Factory at http://www.k3scs.com/thefactory. You will have to register to gain access to the full version of each episode, but it’s worth doing. And of course, not forgetting the plug for Bridge – if you want help with your online or print-based PR, then we’re the experts. Just pick up the phone, or email us. 024 7655 3333 / garyl@bridgepr.co.uk