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Are you ready for your moment in the sun?

I’ve spent the last week cutting the grass in my garden. Yes, it took me a whole week – I don’t even have a large garden. It’s not as simple as pushing a lawnmower up and down – my grass has been neglected since last summer. It’s that long, the rain doesn’t even make it down to the soil– even in a storm! In fact, I was surprised not to find a giant panda hidden in there somewhere, in between the long grass!

I used to laugh at my neighbour when he went out in the winter to cut his grass, trim the hedge and remove the weeds from his garden. I’m not laughing now because while I am tidying up my jungle in the hot weather, he is sitting back in his scenic garden enjoying a drink and soaking up the sun. If I had taken the all-year maintenance approach that he has, I wouldn’t be working so hard on my garden when the sun came out; knowing that by the time I finished everything, winter would be here and I’d have no time to enjoy it!

GardenIt’s the same with PR and marketing – it works best when you do it all year round rather than just when the sun comes out. Like my neighbour going out in the winter to tend to his weeds while I stay inside in the warmth, PR is a constant thing and has limited success when only done once for a short space of time. In this scenario, my neighbour represents a business using PR properly.

My neighbour has spent the year maintaining his garden, which in marketing terms means that for the past 12 months he has been building steady PR collateral and gradually getting his business profile raised among his target audience. Even in the winter when he didn’t want to commit to his garden, he went out and did some work on it. Even when he didn’t have time to spend on PR and other things became more important, he still kept that momentum going. Now the summer has arrived and he is sitting back in his beautiful garden and enjoying a drink in the sunshine. The flowers are blooming and he can clearly see the results of his hard work and effort. His business is having its moment in the sun – it is launching a new product, it’s won an award or is celebrating huge growth. Now he capitalises on the PR momentum he has building up for the past year and starts to experience some really huge benefits. People want to know about his moment in the sun because they have been reading about and thinking about his business all year round

Those that have not been tending to their gardens all year round are like businesses that have no PR collateral. When the winter was here it was easy to sit inside and stay warm and laugh at your neighbour as he braved the cold to cut his grass. When other things became more important than PR you did not raise your business’ profile. Now your moment in the sun has arrived and you are only just starting the work – it’s too late. By the time you have finished your garden, winter will be here and you will not have spent a single day relaxing in your garden or enjoying your hard work. When your business has its moment in the sun and you want to let everyone know you have just won an award or enjoyed a record breaking month, it’s really hard work. Nobody knows who you are because you have not been steadily raising your profile so your story is not as interesting to others as it could have been.

It’s a vicious cycle and just like if you want to enjoy your garden in the summer months, if you want to enjoy your business’ moment in the sun then your PR and marketing has to be constant, even when it doesn’t seem so important – to make sure it works when it is important.

I don’t know what you will be doing this winter but I’ll be joining my neighbour, outside in my woollies, cutting the grass in my garden!

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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.

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

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.

Social media and PR – evolution and revolution

Digital and social media are turning how we access our news on its head and I’m often asked is it a PR evolution or revolution.

The simple answer is it’s both. Digital and social media’s interactive nature is having a huge impact on the way news is delivered and in online advertising.

Many newspapers are finding this out the hard way at the moment but many businesses are embracing the digital age as they look to new and cost-effective ways to market themselves.

At a recent presentation I delivered to 38 SMEs on the importance of a digital presence, I was surprised at how many start-ups had already started to use social media as a cost-effective marketing tool.

They are already using the likes of Twitter and Linked In to great effect – something which we at Bridge PR have long been advocates of.

So yes, the revolution has started as SMEs evolve their marketing approaches. By defining their marketing mix, which includes social media, digital PR, traditional PR and search engine optimisation, businesses, however small can make real inroads in creating their brand identity and raising their profile.

Many have made a start and our aim at Bridge PR, as one of the of the forerunners in helping businesses with new media and new media training, is to help them make the most of these new marketing tools which can give them a more competitive edge without breaking the bank.

– ENDS –

Bridge PR Expands into New Offices

At the end of June beginning of July, Bridge PR  moved into new offices as part of our expansion programme, and we’re now just about settled in.  As well as having lots more space to employ more staff, we have also changed our IT and telephone systems, bringing us right into the 21st century with cloud computing.  In brief, all our data is now offsite, and our communications work through VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol).  So far so good, and central and remote access to all our data has proved a real boon for our business. 

Our new address and contact details are:

Bridge PR Limited
Faraday House
Electric Wharf
Coventry
CV1 4JF
Tel: 024 7652 0025