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….

Bridging the gap between journalism and PR

By: Work placement student Leona Daly
From:
Nottingham Trent University
Studying:
Print Journalism
Age:
20
Inspiration:
Cherry Healey
Twitter:
@LeonaDaly3

“As a print journalism student almost going into my third year at university you could say I have about 9 months to decide exactly what I want to do with my life. So after I panicked for a few days, I decided as much as I loved journalism I’d always been interested in working in PR. I eventually managed to secure a 3 week placement at Bridge PR & Media Services in Coventry, and decided to see what it was really all about.

After arriving at my placement, in just 24 hours I went from a trainee journalist, to a welcomed member of the team writing press releases and newsletters for some of Bridge’s loyal clients! I initially thought PR was just about managing a company’s reputation but the level of communication which is needed takes a lot of organisation and attention.

I  didn’t realise how important networking sites were in the world of PR. In the last 5 days I have joined the world of Twitter and written more tweets than I thought any human could possibly write!

During the week I’ve also learnt that Facebook and Twitter are also just some of many when it comes to social networking sites. The likes of LinkedIn and Pinterest are also part of the pack! And in order to provide successful marketing, social media is a must have when it comes to PR.

Despite it only being my first week, with the help of Bridge I have realised this is a world I’d be more than happy to work in and I’m looking forward to what the next two weeks at Bridge has in store for me.”

Bridgit Campaign sees Kermittment from famous ‘Muppets’ frog

Bridgit here, with a quick update on my Bridges campaign…..

As celebrity endorsements go, you can’t get much bigger or better than Kermit the Frog – the latest figure to support my Bridges campaign. A long time friend and supporter of mine, Kermit is in the middle of a worldwide trip but in the midst of it all, he still found time to take some images of himself in front of various bridges. Take a look at the Pinterest page – Kermit is on bridges in Sydney, Amsterdam and London.

Kermit is not the only interesting character to take part in the campaign. Miles Better, the brand new face of the Good Garage Scheme has also got involved. He sent us a picture over Twitter and has been helping support the campaign since.

It was Coventry Society who started the trend.  Once I had jetted off round the world’s bridges and the Bridge directors had ventured out onto their nearest bridge, Coventry Society was the first organisation to add a bridge image to our Pinterest board. Their representative Adam Mottershead sent us an image of himself on a well known Coventry bridge.

We have even got mum’s in on the act. Our Account Executive, Natalie’s mum sent us a posy image of her on a bridge in Tenerife to help us build momentum on our campaign. We now have a total of 16 bridge images on our Pin board and that is only the start. Still to come are images from national ERP providers K3 Syspro who have promised us an image of their marketing team on a bridge near Old Trafford once the weather holds out – and Tamworth’s premier community radio station TCRFM, who will get their presenters out on bridges for our campaign. Expect those images to be added to our board as soon as they are ready.

It’s a whole load of fun but there is a serious side to my Bridge campaign. We are, of course raising money for the charity FrogLife, who very kindly featured our campaign on their latest blog post.  Froglife is a national wildlife charity dedicated to the conservation of the UK’s amphibians and reptiles – frogs, toads, newts, snakes and lizards – and the habitats on which they depend. Naturally, they are helping to keep me and my relatives safe in dangerous times to be a frog. It’s simple – the more bridge pictures that are pinned to our board, the more money gets donated to look after my family and friends.

So, what are you waiting for? If you are already on Pinterest, follow my board and we will invite you to share it and take part in our campaign. If you are not on Pinterest don’t fear, share an image with us over email, Twitter or Facebook and we will Pin it for you! Go, on, hop on the Bridgit campaign!

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.

How to utilise social media effectively

A brand new report from Digital Marketers E-Consultancy has found that only ten per cent of UK businesses actually monitor their ROI from social media. This is despite the fact that more than three-quarters of respondents to the survey said they are either running an online community or plan to do so in the next 12 months. We have been promoting the value of social media and helping our clients utilise it effectively for the past couple of years but this report reveals that very few UK businesses are still not utilising the medium effectively enough to enjoy company growth Further figures state that 29% of marketers had set up their company’s own social media accounts in the last 12 months while 35% had been using social media for more than a year. Only 23% of businesses asked quoted social media as a part if their online presence. Those unable to monitor their ROI through social media must not be using it accurately so we thought that we would share our top five tips to effectively utilise social media marketing.

1. Plan

What do you hope to get out of your social media activity? Business growth and profit are one thing but which audiences are you looking to reach out to and connect with? Once you have niche audiences in mind, sit down and list as many keywords and phrases as you can that are dedicated to those audiences and your own business. Set up Google Alerts for those terms too – its free and provides valuable information with which you can monitor and measure you social media activity. By setting out with a clear plan in mind, you can execute a social media campaign that will bring the kind of results you want to see.

2. Build communities

From your list of words and phrases, research which ones would be good hashtags for Twitter and use them whenever you tweet about relevant content. Search for these hashtags within Twitter and follow those tweeting similar stories and information to you. Most importantly though, let people know that your business has entered the social media world and show them where to find you. Have follow icons on your home page and include your social media URLs on your business cards and promotional literature. Nobody will join your community of they don’t know it exists.

 3. Broadcast

Get conversations going on Twitter. Ask people their opinions on topics relevant to you and your business. Make sure you only provide valuable content for people to engage with. They don’t care about what you had for breakfast but may want to discuss popular topics in the news with you.

 4. Content

As we have been saying for years, good quality content is the secret to successful social media. Create a blog and blog regularly on topics that matter to you and your audience. Share your blog posts with your social media collectives and encourage them to comment and share within their own circles. When sharing content though, make sure you are consistent. Pay attention to your tone and style and be consistent with this. If you suddenly switch things around, people will just lose interest.

5. Convert

Get in your call to action. Offer a free ebook or catalogue for example or invite them to read your testimonials to get an idea of the kind of successful work you have done in the past. Without an effective call to action, very few people will actually consider your business for a service; many choosing to keep you as a social media associate instead.

To get the most out of your social media activity, give Bridge PR and Media Services a call today on 02476 520 025

Five top tips for Content Marketing

We were delighted to be guest speakers at last week’s Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce event, where we shared our top five tips on content marketing. The attendance figures were impressive with local businesses also benefitting from tips on accountancy from Simpson Financial Services, and how to pitch to local government from Warwickshire County Council. For all those who missed it, here are our five top tips for content marketing…..

1 – Stories are the lifeblood of your business

Without great stories how can you tell people about your business, who you are or what you do?

Stories are in every business. Are you approaching a significant anniversary? Have you launched a new product or won an award for your services? Have any of your staff done something interesting for charity or championed their community in some way? Are your products quirky or unusual? Are there any general business issues that you can piggy back on? All these are stories that, when you find the right angle, people are interested in hearing and sharing. There’s no such thing as a business without stories to tell – you just need to find the right angles for the right audiences.

2 – Love your business strategy

Only when you really understand your business goals and strategy will your marketing follow suit. What is your mission? What is the purpose of your business and where do you see it in a few years time? How are you going to achieve your mission?

Once you have answered all of the above, that is where your marketing plan comes into play. It will help you to achieve your business mission and enable you to set targets for the number of contracts you need to win, the number of new customers you require and which sectors you need to target in order to enjoy growth.

3- Marketing communications planning

There is no substitute for good planning – make it a priority! Make sure you tie your planning in with your business and marketing strategy.

By understanding your target audience, you can plan for long term success. Often your audience will be your target customers but you might also want to target industry thought leaders with your marketing.

Prepare a plan of your monthly marketing activity. How many press releases will you create and send out? How many blogs will you write, and how many hours will you spend on social media?

4 – Content really is King!

These days there is no excuse for not having good content that will help drive traffic to your website or blog, or simply give you an opportunity to interact with your business communities.  It’s always better to generate your own original content about your company, its products and services and tell people the exciting things you are doing.  But you can also curate content to demonstrate your expertise in your industry sector. There are lots of content curation tools on the Internet, but why not try Scoop.it, for example.  Scoop.it allows you to put a few key words into your topic and then brings anything mentioned those keywords into your curation page.  This will generate many interesting stories about your industry which you can then share with your audiences – it really does work!

5 – Do your research

The internet and social platforms are an amazing store of knowledge, information and marketing intelligence for every conceivable industry sector.  Set up Google Alerts on every aspect of your business and industry and subscribe to RSS feeds and blogs so you are notified whenever a conversation is happening that you need to be a part of!

Listening is just as important as informing and sharing knowledge.  Listen to what your communities have to say on social networks and mine them for the gold nuggets that are potential content for you to convert into stories.

The King is dead. Long live the King….

ImageEver since as far back as the 17th century newspapers have been the Kings of content; the number one source for news and stories. They have broken some of the biggest stories ever to happen in the UK; the sinking of the Titanic, the death of Hitler, the assassination of JF Kennedy and the first ever landing on the moon to name but a few.

Today, the newspaper is a dying breed – as rare as a bright day in summer.  Ever since Johnstone Press in Derby – one of the biggest newspaper publishers in the country, announced a large drop in advertising revenue, three years ago, publishers across the country have followed suit. Local newspapers have folded like falling dominoes and even a few national titles have been forced to fold. It’s not just in the UK either. Countries like The Netherlands and the US are also experiencing a dramatic decrease in their numbers of local and national newspapers.

It’s not that good stories no longer exist but that people are finding new ways of sharing their stories, more quickly and effectively. The days when newspapers were the kings of content are long gone and instead other forms of media are taking their place; blogs, newswires and social media. Newspapers are no longer the Kings of content – content has become the King of itself.

These days you needn’t wait for a pressing house to finish printing a newspaper for the next day, to read about yesterday’s news. Instead, you can access it 24/7 via the Internet and actually read stories as they break. On a smaller scale, people are publishing their own stories on their websites and sharing their news with niche audiences, without having to go to a third party ‘specialist’ to get their tales published.

Social media has provided the biggest threat to newspapers over recent years. This time last year the world first heard about the death of Osama Bin Laden but it wasn’t from The Daily Mail, The New York Times or The Washington Post. It wasn’t even from Sky or BBC news, who, like other broadcast news stations, have the ability to share stories more quickly than the printed press. Instead, it was via Twitter, where the story broke as it happened, quickly gathering pace through retweets content sharing. Within just a couple of hours there were 500,000 tweets globally about Osama Bin Laden, 796 blog posts and 507 published news articles online, way before any newspaper was able to print the information.

It’s no surprise that newspapers are becoming known as ‘old fashioned.’ However, many that continue to thrive, like our own Coventry weekly’s, do embrace the internet and are publishing a lot more news online, as they use the printed version to publish more community-based news. Many have made the transition to social media effectively and are sharing content with the right people as news happens.

The job of a journalist will always be in demand; fluent writing styles, a knack to reproduce stories in writing and the legal knowledge to avoid any criminality when doing so but so many more ‘ordinary people’ are now taking on that role as bloggers. The internet allows people to post news and comment via their own websites as self-publishers. Such opportunities have created small online communities who share content together, eliminating the prowess and clout that newspapers once held. As a result, content marketing has become the number one way for businesses and people to get noticed and whilst newspapers and the media still play a huge role in this process, it is a role that is slowly switching from print to online and only the big players in content marketing will keep up.

Make sure you keep up with the transition from print to online by asking Bridge PR to boost your brand through their knowledge of content marketing.

What is your social media worth?

We all know that social media is growing at a rapid rate. Facebook values Instagram at $1 billion and according to a recent report by Forbes, LinkedIn is worth $10 billion and Pinterest £7.7 billion. There’s no doubt that social networking is an industry where money can be made but what about those businesses actually using it themselves? Social media is essentially a free marketing resource but it could cost your business hundreds and thousands of pounds if you make just one careless error whilst using it.

Cost of social media

There are stories all over the press daily about people whose tweets or Facebook statuses have landed them in trouble. What about Liam Stacey who recently tweeted racially abusive messages about footballer Fabrice Muamba after he collapsed on a pitch? He received a 56 day jail sentence. Or Jordan Blackshaw who was jailed for four years after creating a Facebook event page for the London riots? That’s not to mention  Paul Chambers who was fined after tweeting a joke about blowing up Robin Hood Airport or Peter Copeland who received a four month suspended jail sentence after posting racially abusive messages on Twitter aimed at Newcastle United fans.

These are all personal instances where carelessness on social networking sites have led to criminal prosecutions, but just as there is a risk using social networking carelessly for personal accounts, the same applies to business. Remember, what is put on the internet stays on the internet. Even long after you have deleted a tweet or Facebook status, it can still be found on the Internet through various sources and remembered. Once something is posted on the web, it stays there in one form, forever.

What should I do?

There is plenty you should do when using social media. Engage with your customers, promote your products (but not constantly – there’s nothing worse than constant self promoters on Twitter!), engage with other businesses and enjoy making new friends – but remember to always think about what you are posting. Who can see it? It is libellous? Could it be taken the wrong way and ultimately should I really publish it?

Social media policy

Introducing a strict social media policy will ensure that members of your business are not sending out tweets that could be interpreted negatively. Set aside and pinpoint the areas of Twitter or Facebook you could eradicate without affecting your business. For example, a celebrity expects abuse on Twitter but that doesn’t mean your business should be seen handing it out. Yes, your team’s star striker may have missed a sitter last night but you don’t want your customers to see you calling them useless over Twitter do you? Keep the personal tweets; sarcastic or otherwise, to your personal account and don’t let them be associated with your business in anyway.

Got your staff tweeting on their own personal accounts? Get them to put a small disclaimer in their biographies stating that their views are their own and not that of the company’s, just to ensure you are disassociated with anything that could potentially spell outrage.

Decide on the kind of people that you should be engaging with and keep it friendly. By following all the local hashtags – #coventrybusiness, #followbigbear and #followcoventry for Coventry – you can meet local business and make new contacts. When someone leaves your business – that is the time to change all your social media passwords to protect against potential hacks. Most importantly though, think before you publish anything online and make 100% sure that nobody can be offended by what you have written.

Keep it fun

We don’t want to ruin your social media activity by throwing in too many rules. After all, social media is and should be a fun and constructive activity, but as soon as carelessness creeps into your social media usage, so too do business risks and compromises. A policy will keep you thinking about your own social media usage and ensure that your personal thoughts never reflect upon your business. Of course, there is room for sarcasm and jokes – social networks would be boring without them but the old rule ‘if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all’ certainly has a big place within social media.

Should you be Pinterested in the next big social network?

Still questioning Quora? Found that Google Plus has turned out to be a negative? Then you are probably uninterested in Pinterest – the very latest in a long line of social networks that experts are citing as the next best thing. However, unlike the others, Pinterest actually has taken off and was one of the fastest networks to reach 10 million users a month. When it comes to sharing content and meeting people with similar interests to yours, Pinterest is perhaps the most useful social network of them all so why should you join in with the buzz?

Firstly, let’s myth bust; Pinterest is not a new social network. It has been around for several years but only recently has found itself blossoming in popularity. Unlike similar hyped up networks like Quora, Pinterest’s early adopters were not typical internet geeks but in fact, average everyday women with mainstream interests, opening up the passageway for a wide ranging audience of users. There is no intimidation factor here; no importance laid upon keeping up with the most influential users. In fact, unlike most social networks it runs at your own pace and can be about anything you want it to be about.

Bridge Pinterest

Your Pinterest boards can be about anything you want - we even have one for Bridgit!

The idea of Pinterest is that you share ideas online by pinning images from the web to virtual pin boards. Users then have the choice to follow a particular pin board or repin something of interest to their own pinboard – much like Twitter’s retweet facility.

Upon first visiting the website, the first thing to note is its appearance and usability. It’s very easy on the eye and very simple to use. Much of the content on the social network is about products; furniture, books, clothes and household items and it can at times seem like a large online shopping store – the female influence coming across heavily. However, leaf through the typical domestic boards, the wish lists and the clutter and there are some very interesting boards. Boards on social media, infographics, images of old newsrooms and even one board looking at hot businesses of the month. It is easy to see why Pinterest is attractive to advertisers – this is a place that they can promote themselves, with links back to their own website without ramming advertisements down a user’s throat.

In terms of content marketing, Pinterest could well become the most useful and important social network of them all. Of course, a lot depends on the user and that is the beauty of Pinterest – it can be about absolutely anything you want so as long as people share interesting content it will always have a purpose. However, unless you are specific, your individual boards may well become lost in translation. Millions of users will be following pinboards about marketing so make yours niche. Title it content marketing, digital marketing or b2b marketing and allow it to stand out from the crowd.

Make sure you are repining interesting content to your own pinboards and sharing it with your own network of followers. As with any social network, following the right people can bring new content to your attention which you can then, in turn share with other creating a chain of content marketing practitioners. 

As a business you need to curate your content properly and organise it into different areas of your business. If you are a retailer, just as you organise shop shelves, you need all your products categorised and displayed together. If IT is your industry, sub categorise the genre into different factions; network systems, new innovations, mobile devices and web devices. The key is to make your content unique, niche and interesting enough for others to repin and share.

Above all else, have fun. Pinterest is unlike any other social networks in that there is no pressure to be seen as an industry leader. It moves along at its own pace and can be personalised to suit your needs. As well as serving as a platform for content marketing, Pinterest can also be your own personal pin board of interests, products you want to look at further and links or diagrams of particular interest.

Pinterest is unfortunate in that it has been tipped for success by the experts and predicted as the hot new social network of 2012. However, unlike fellow victims to this hype like Quora and Google Plus, Pinterest is causing enough of a stir to actually live up to its expectations. The interface is simple, the idea effective and the reasons for using it plentiful. In fact, Pinterest could just be the most (P)interesting thing to happen to content marketing.

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