Focusing on, er, Focus

When you run a business, you know you need to focus on running your business. A lack of focus means that you’re doing everything and achieving nothing, and it’s exactly the same with PR.

Whether you’re working with an agency, or doing it yourself, without a focused plan you run the risk of being a busy fool.

The challenge comes when you’re dealing with multiple products or multiple markets, for example, if your products are suitable for a number of different purposes, or your service suits a number of different industries.

Start by narrowing it down. Which is your biggest selling product or which industry is the most lucrative for you? You might have plans to break into new markets, but it’s worth focusing on areas in which you’re most successful and capitalising on these so that you can be sure that you’re maintaining profile with your existing markets, while considering which other areas to break into.

Once you’ve narrowed down which product or service to focus on, you need to consider which media to approach.

If you have a service which will benefit different industries, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with the amount of trade and business media out there, not to mention digital media and broadcast, so come back to where your biggest or most lucrative market is. If it’s recruitment, research the recruitment press and don’t be distracted by other media. Build an exhaustive list of relevant media and focus your time on contacting and pitching to them one by one.

To make sure you’re not wasting your time, make sure the media you’re targeting are going to actually be interested in what you’re selling. For example, if you’re promoting a product, do they have product pages? If you’re keen to be seen as a thought leader, do they feature columns or opinion pieces?

When you’ve ascertained where the best opportunities are, approach them with your ideas, take their feedback and amend your approach according to their requirements. Don’t forget it’s not the media’s job to promote you or your product; it’s their job to provide their audience with stories and features which will interest them, so see what they tend to run and focus your pitch accordingly.

Whatever you do, don’t get distracted and start going down other routes, you’ll lose your focus and start to get confused about what it is you’re trying to achieve.

Once you’ve made a start, you’ll soon get into your stride, which is another reason to focus, you understand what you’re offering the media and get used to telling your story in a way which will appeal to the media.

As they say, ‘keep it simple stupid’. Whether you’re doing it yourself or working with an agency, don’t throw too many things in the pot at once. A lack of focus leads to a lack of results.

How to Find More Customers With Twitter!

Our guest blog this month is from Kirk Thomason of Big Bounce Digital, who shares some tips on how you can find new customers by using Twitter more effectively.

 

Thanks to public updates, searchable bios and a plethora of third-party tools, you can find customers on Twitter more easily than you can on any other network.

Here are our tips on how to go about it…

#1: Start With a Strong Profile

Before you start looking for potential customers on Twitter, you need to make sure that any potential customers who visit your profile know who you are and what you do.

#2: Search for Potential Customers Using Their Bios

We can identify potential customers by keywords they use to define themselves and by their location.

#3: Get Specific Tweets Delivered to Your Inbox

Do you know your potential customers’ needs or pain points? Do they share them on Twitter? If they do, you can get potential customers, primed to buy, delivered directly to your inbox.

Start by using Twitter search to query a few things you think your potential customers might talk about on Twitter in relation to your products or services.

#4: Segment Potential Customers Into a Twitter List

Twitter lists are a great way to organise potential customers you find on Twitter and monitor your discussions.

#5: Combine Bio and Tweet Searches

The most powerful way to find customers on Twitter is to combine searches for keywords in tweets and keywords in Twitter bios. This allows you to find your ideal potential customers who are looking to make a purchase.

Find out more about how Twitter can drive sales and leads for your business today.

Contact Kirk@BigBounceDigital.co.uk – 07771 39 44 81 for a free consultation on your Twitter account.

The Power of Storytelling

‘Now, what I want is, Facts.’ –Opening line from Hard Times – Charles Dickens

I was listening to the radio yesterday. It was something about the EU referendum. People were arguing about facts. I’m not saying facts are over-rated (especially as this blog relates to some scientific facts) but let’s just take a step back for minute and think about what really motivates people….ourselves and our business audiences.

Let’s think about effective public speaking

Public Speaking, done properly, needs to incorporate true and relevant stories which appeal to your audience’s emotions and help you connect with them, but there’s more than that. Much more.

Storytelling appeals to thought processes and intellect. But don’t just take my word for it. There’s real scientific basis for proving the power of storytelling.

There are seven areas of your brain which are stimulated by stories. These are the parts of the brain that respond to sounds, smells, language processing of the words that are heard, the comprehension of those words, movement, touch and finally colours and shapes.

So when you talk about what you’ve seen, heard, felt or even smelled, your listeners can see, hear feel and smell those things too.

They can walk where you have walked and what could be more effective than that to really convey who you are and what you are really all about?

You give your audience a chance to really get inside your heart and your head. That’s the connection you need.

Stories v Numbers

In terms of facts and figures (and I’m not saying that isn’t important when it comes to the end game of making sales or meeting your business or project objectives) only two areas of your brain are stimulated. Only two.

They’re the part that processes words, and the part that understands those words once they’re processed. So if you stand up and read from a slide about what result your product or business could bring to your audience, you’re only switching on part of their brain and you’re not going anywhere near reaching their heart.

When I try to visualise this in my head, I think about a brain being on a dimmer switch. Facts and figures will only light up isolated parts of your brain. But use a true story that is unique to you and the light can flood right across the brain.

Sometimes when I explain the work we do with our PPC members, the response can be ‘Hmmm….it all sounds a bit touchy feely to me’ but mastering storytelling within public speaking has a scientific basis.

But what’s the outcome from storytelling?

You’ll be more memorable.

You’ll tap into the emotions of your audience. And emotions are easier to recall than a load of facts on a power point slide.

And at the end of the day, most people are motivated by emotions.

Your storytelling can do that. Information about a product or service just won’t go as far.  If you want to motivate an audience to think differently, fell differently and ultimately do something differently, then it’s really time to hone those storytelling skills.

Lighting the bonfire of ideas – THINKB!G

And as well is switching on your audience, storytelling and going through the process of thinking about your own stories can ignite new ideas and thoughts in you. It can fuel your own creativity.

Want to be inspired? Book a ticket for ThinkB!G on 8 June.  Discover the Seven Secrets of Storytelling and use it to grow your business. http://www.thinkbig.london/

 

Press Releases and How to Make the Most of Them

Press releases are a great way to communicate your message to the press, but to get results there are a few guidelines it’s worth considering before putting finger to keyboard…

Is it newsworthy?

The kinds of things that warrant press releases are up coming events, a company anniversary or an award win or a new product or service being launched.

Post event press releases can also work, raising awareness of an event you’ve held and its success could be of interest to the press.

Where are you planning on sending it?

If it’s a local story, there’s no point in sending it to the national press. An event relevant to businesses in Buckinghamshire isn’t going to be relevant to businesses in Cambridgeshire for example, so think about who you’re targeting.

If you’re a shop offering a new service, but you only have one shop in one area it’s unlikely that it’s going to be of interest to the national press. If, on the other hand, you have a product available online which will appeal to a specific demographic such as pet owners, you should build a contact list of all the pet press who might be interested.

Images

The writing should be engaging and tell the story succinctly – and, if written properly – can be used by a journalist as is, but images are really what bring a story to life. If you’ve got a product to launch, use a professional image to show what it looks like. If you’re sending out a press release about an event which has taken place, make sure you get some images of the event and add them to the body of the press release to get the journalists attention. Let’s be honest, how interesting is a story about an event without an image to illustrate it?

What do you do afterwards?

Journalists get hundreds of press releases every day, so it’s quite possible that yours will get lost in the ether…the trick here is persistence. When you’ve sent the press release, call the journalist to check they’ve received it and to see whether they’re interested. Even if you get a flat ‘no’ it gives you a chance to find out what might be of interest to them in the future and if you run them through the story there’s a good chance they’ll ask you to resend the press release.

Quick tips:

Press releases shouldn’t be longer than a page
They should include a high res image
They should contain contact details should the journalist require more information
Make sure the spelling and punctuation is perfect
Make sure the details are correct, times, dates, contact information etc.

Finally…

Writing press releases isn’t rocket science, but they should be seen as part of your wider PR plan.

The A-Z of PR

Ok, we won’t really give you the whole A-Z, otherwise we’ll be here for ever and so will you, so we’re just going to run through some of the things that we do on a day to day basis…

Researching – One of the most important things that we do is research. We research the stories in the news every day to check if there’s anything relevant to our clients or something they should be commenting on – by reacting to news stories we’ve had coverage on BBC radio stations up and down the UK, Newsnight, CNBC, Five Live and Good Morning Britain among others.

We also go through newspapers and magazines to identify pages and features where our clients’ products and services might fit. There’s no point in us pitching a pet product to a travel magazine for example (unless it’s a product suitable for pet travel obviously!).

Writing – Much of our time is spent writing, whether it’s a press release to give information on a client’s product, service or event, a pitch to a journalist, a 2,000 word commissioned article giving our client’s thoughts on issues affecting their industry, a newsletter or a blog, we write articles tailored to fit the audience.

Talking – Yes, we know, PR people love to talk, but it is an essential part of our job. It’s only by speaking to journalists that we can find out if a story is going to be suitable. Sometimes it’s through having a discussion about an idea that may not work, that leads you to an idea that will work. It’s also a way to build mutually beneficial relationships with journalists.

Chasing – Maybe chasing isn’t the right word, maybe ‘reminding’ would be better, but it’s our job to remind both clients and the media. We know that our clients are busy running their businesses or their departments and that getting press releases or text signed off is not the most important thing on their to-do list, so for us to meet our deadlines, it’s important for our clients to meet theirs.

In the same way, sometimes we need to chase journalists to check they’ve received emails or press releases we’ve sent and to see if they are of interest. When journalists receive hundreds of emails every day, it’s easy to get lost, so it’s our job to make sure our client’s information is seen.

Socialising – We do like making new friends, but in this sense, we mean social media. We undertake social media on behalf of our clients, which ties in with the research work we mentioned above. We identify relevant stories to post which will appeal to their followers and engage with their target audience by talking to them, sharing interesting content, answering their queries and posting links to achieved press coverage, blogs and company news.

It would have been great to put all this in a pithy acronym, but there’s only so much you can do with R,W,T,C,S. Any bright ideas, please do let us know!

Sit or Switch?

One of the issues that many boutique* agencies face is being the victims of their own success.

Say for example that you’ve been nervous about taking on a PR agency. You’ve done your research, taken your time and finally hired the agency that you think will be the best fit for you.

So they start work. Things are going really well, you’re getting lots of coverage, getting commissioned articles in your target media, being quoted in articles and journalists are starting to come to your agency to get your comment and opinion on market trends.

But then you think…ok, so this boutique agency has done a great job, this is paying off, we’re being recognised as thought leaders and getting more publicity than the competition. If this is what a small agency can achieve, just think what a big agency can do.

So you decide to switch. You go through the whole pitch process again, but with bigger agencies, proposing bigger budgets and sending in the ‘A-team’ to impress and convince you that they can do the job.

But then things start to change. The regular commissioned articles and the opinion pieces are discontinued because your new agency is changing direction and the articles don’t fit with their plans. The work gets passed down to the B or even C team and half the time you can’t even get hold of the team you met in the pitch and the coverage starts to dry up because there’s no communication between you and your agency.

Of course, we’re generalising and this isn’t always the case but here’s our advice on how to get the best out of your agency, big or boutique!

• Agree targets and outcomes of PR activity, make sure you’re working together to achieve them.
• Have regular meetings or even just phone discussions with your agency – sometimes ideas will come out of informal discussions that  you didn’t even realise your PR team needed to know about.
• If you’re not happy with your agency, tell them! As with your clients and customers, your PR team aren’t mind readers and the only  way you can change how things work is to tell them so that you can resolve the problem.
• Trust them. If you hire an accountant or a lawyer (assuming you’re not already an accountant or lawyer!) you make the assumption  that they know more than you about accounts and law. It’s the same with PR. Ultimately it’s up to you to decide which way to go, but  ask your agency’s advice and give it proper consideration. Even if you want to go a different way, an open discussion can lead to a  compromise which works for everyone.
• Answer their calls, respond to their emails and talk to them! We know that when you’re running a business or a marketing department,  dealing with questions and enquiries from an agency can fall down your list of things to do, but the better the communication  between you, the better the results!

*PR speak for smaller agencies!

Five tips for Successful Networking

As most business people know, networking is vital, not just to connect with potential clients, but to find suppliers and develop a support network with people with whom you can share and find solutions to problems.

For many people though, just the idea of networking can bring them out in a cold sweat…think of it, walking into a room of complete strangers…

The important thing to remember though is that every single person in that room will have stood where you’re standing at some point or other and so know exactly how you feel.

Here are our top tips for effective networking:

    • Look at your options
      Decide who it is you want to meet. Each networking group has a different target audience, so is it people in your industry you want to meet or is there a particular industry you want to break into? If that’s the case, then investigate suitable trade associations. If you just want to meet business people in your local area, check out the local networking groups. Do you want to learn or just to meet new contacts? Find out which events have speakers or mastermind sessions and which are purely focused on introducing members.
    • Try them out
      Go to a few events. You’ll naturally find that you prefer certain kinds of events, whether that’s about the time of day or the kind of people that attend. The only way to work out which ones are for you is to visit them.
    • Go with an open mind
      You might find yourself talking to someone who represents an organisation that you think won’t be relevant to you or your business, but networking isn’t just about you and it’s certainly not about selling. The more your network grows, the more you’re able to connect people you know with one another and your contacts will be able to connect you with people you need to know.
    • Be patient
      Networking is very much like PR, in the sense that the results aren’t instantaneous. It’s unlikely that you’re going to meet your biggest client at your first visit to a networking group, but the more you do it, the better your chances of meeting a great contact.
    • Enjoy it!
      While networking may not be everyone’s cup of tea (or glass of wine depending on the event!), it is a valuable way to get your company name out into the world and demonstrate to people that you are passionate about your business and good at what you do. If anyone can talk about your business it’s you, so make the most of the opportunity. Apart from anything you might even make some new friends!

 

Handling the Media by Ann Wright of Rough House Media

Handling the Media

The phone rings, and there’s a journalist on the other end.

It’s pretty flattering – they want to talk to ME!  But also a bit daunting. After all, you don’t want to say the wrong thing and get stitched up.

First of all, don’t panic.

This is a great opportunity to promote yourself and your organisation, and most journalists are not out to get you. However, do not do the interview immediately.  You need to have time to prepare and consult with your PR department or agency about whether you should go ahead, and what to say if you do. So, say you’re a bit busy but available later on, and promise to call back – or to forward your details to your PR. Before you hang up however, there are some key questions to ask – and even if your policy is to forward all media calls to your PR, these are the questions you find out from them.

1. Who is the interview for?

It could be a local or national newspaper, a trade or specialist journal, a magazine, or a local or national broadcaster, and the tenor of the interview and the potential audience, will depend on this.

2. What is it about?

I know this seems pretty obvious, but if you’re caught on the hop, you might forget to ask. You don’t want to think you’re being interviewed about the charity event you’re organising, and then find it’s about a new product your business is launching.

3. Why do they want to speak to you?

Is the journalist doing a piece specifically about you or your business, so you will be speaking as its representative, are you being interviewed for your expertise in a particular field, or has something gone wrong that you’re being expected to account for? Whichever of these it is, you need to be prepared, think about potential questions and work out what your answers might be.

4. What type of interview does the journalist want?

All the journalist may need is a quick comment to be included as a part the interview, or you could be the main interviewee, in which case the interview might take longer.  And it might be for a news piece or for the feature pages, all of which will affect the type of interview you’ll be expected to give.  You don’t want to be caught on the hop, and sound like you don’t know what you’re talking about, especially if it’s for a longer feature.

5. Who else are they speaking to?

Most important. Are they talking to your rivals? Are you going to be quoted, or simply providing background information for an interview with someone else? Are you being interviewed to provide editorial balance to an argument?  You know the kind of thing: A, who is a dog behaviourist, believes that they should never be trimmed as it causes them trauma, while B, who is a dog grooming expert, says that they should be groomed once a month as longer hair can cause disease and infection.

6. How does the journalist want to conduct the interview and how long will it take?

Is it going to take place over the phone, or in person? Do you need to set aside an hour or just a few minutes? If the journalist is from a TV station and tells you it will take an hour, double this as they’ll need at least that to set up the camera, conduct the interview and film establishing shots.

7. And most important of all, what is the deadline?

This will vary depending on the type of publication, and you don’t want to miss your chance to be quoted.  You can bet your bottom dollar that you’re not the only person the journalist is contacting, and if you don’t come up with an interview and someone else does, it’s them that will get the free promotion, not you.

Of course, once you’ve found all this out, you’ve still got to conduct the interview, and that is where proper preparation will help. Practice and coaching with experienced media trainers will equip you with the tools and techniques that will help you to take charge of an interview and say you want, in the way that you want.

http://www.roughhousemedia.co.uk/

Thought Leadership via Social Media

We once had a potential client tell us that they weren’t on social media because ‘I don’t see the point. Why do you need to tell people that you’re standing in Tesco?’

If that was all that Twitter was used for then perhaps our client might have had a point, but social media for businesses is far, far more than just updating followers on where you’re buying your baked beans. Over the last few years we’ve helped clients build online reputations, launch products, make contact with journalists, find business partners, respond to customer feedback professionally, engage with new customers, gather valuable feedback and drive more traffic to their website – all through social media.

75% of consumers say purchasing decisions are influenced by what they read online, and social media is a key element of that. While most businesses these days accept the necessity of a website and an online presence, few are fully capitalising on how social media can be used to build their brand, spread their key PR messages and distribute content.

So, what can social media do for your PR?

Spread content

Good quality content has always been a key component of any PR campaign but social media has increased this demand dramatically as potential customers crave engaging content to consume, discuss and share online.

A far cry from the staid press releases that used to form the mainstay of a PR campaign 20 years ago, your potential customers want useful, absorbing content. Too savvy to tolerate being forcefully sold at, they want content they enjoy absorbing and information they can use, with your name associated with it to promote your brand.

This is where Thought Leadership PR really comes into play and social media is a great way to get that content to your customer base. Whether you position it through an engrossing blog post which you then tweet, post on facebook and share on LinkedIn, a well produced video or audio message you embed on your website, publish on YouTube or link to on Twitter, or even writing as a guest contributor for any number of high-profile magazine websites who are eager for journalistic quality articles from industry experts, social media is the ideal way to spread your content to a far wider audience than ever before.

Engage directly with customers

Without wanting to get bogged down in buzzwords, people used to talk about B2B and B2C as shorthand for ‘business to business’ interactions and ‘business to consumer’ interactions, but since the take-off of social media there’s a new category – B2P with P being people. Social media is all about engaging with customers as individuals, holding back and forth conversations and interacting directly and proactively with potential or current customers.

In terms of your PR campaign, this is about building your brand and, in some instances, bypassing traditional forms of PR and going directly to your customer. It allows you to communicate your messages directly to your stakeholders and respond appropriately when they want to engage with you in return – you can launch a product or trial an idea, and receive real-time feedback; you can publish some company news and answer any questions stakeholders have immediately; you can demonstrate your credentials as a thought leader in your field and engage in debate or conversation about relevant issues.

Having an active Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc page automatically opens you up to a two-way conversation, so don’t set up more accounts than you can actively monitor and respond to. If you have a social media presence, your customers will expect to be able to interact with you this way and will be frustrated if they don’t get a response. We’ve helped our clients deal appropriately with negative feedback about their service in a constructive and, ultimately, confident way as well as responding graciously – and shouting about it – when the feedback they receive is positive.

Allows you to comment immediately

As industry-related stories break, social media lets you offer your expert, thought leader insight with an immediate impact on your audience. Bypassing the time it takes to write a press release, send it to the journalist and wait for publication, social media gives you immediate access to a platform to make your views known which, in certain circumstances is exactly what your PR needs.

Responding to breaking news lets you demonstrate your expertise and relevance to your audience. Exercise caution to make sure you’re adding value, not just capitalizing on a tragedy, but don’t be afraid to express your views on a topic as long as they correspond with your business’ viewpoint as well. Having an opinion and being willing express it warms customers to you as an authoritative, confident industry expert.
Also, bear in mind that journalists rely heavily on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms to source and research stories so if you are connecting with the right people, you may find your comments mark you out as a potential contributor in wider media.

Far from being a short lived trend, social media is a now a valuable part of the PR landscape and, however daunting it may be to the uninitiated, pretty much every business should consider using it in their public relations campaign.

We come across a lot of business who are intimidated by the fast moving pace of social media and don’t really know where to start with their own social media PR strategy, so if you’d like to talk to us about it contact amie@cerubpr.co.uk to start the conversation!

Did You Know That You’re a Thought Leader?

They say you can’t see the wood for the trees and as a business owner this is probably an accurate way to describe how you work. You become so focused on the bottom line, your product, your service, your customers and your business that you fail to notice one important factor: you have become an expert in your own field.

Whether through modesty or too close a perspective, most business owners don’t see their own knowledge as particularly interesting or insightful and would balk at the idea that they could call themselves a ‘thought leader’ and stand up and confidently voice their opinions.

We help our clients to stand out from the competition by raising their profile and shaping their reputation to become known as thought leaders in their field – authoring articles, offering tips, commenting on current industry trends – yet one of the most challenging parts of our job is convincing our clients that they do actually have something worthwhile to say.

So, if you want to reap the benefits of standing out in a crowded marketplace and generating a connection with your brand as your customers come to recognise you as an authoritative individual or company, put aside your misgivings on how under-qualified as a ‘thought leader’ you think you are and consider the following:

The difference isn’t expertise, it’s delivery

It’s very easy to assume that the industry ‘expert’ used in the article you just read or interviewed on the radio programme you just heard has views that are more important than yours, and that’s exactly what your customers will think as well – assuming that the ‘expert’ in the media is the one who will sell the best product or offer the best service. The truth is that all that separates you and that ‘expert’ is the fact that they have found a way for their voice to be heard and you haven’t.

You’re both professionals in the same industry – the difference is that you just haven’t built a platform for spreading your message yet. Journalists call on experts who have made themselves known to them, or publish articles from experts who have bothered to pitch an interesting idea. There’s no mysterious, magical equation that gives them more right to be in the spotlight than you. The difference is that they offered and you can too.

You know more than you think you do

When you are surrounded by people in the same industry as you who all have a similar knowledge base, speak in similar terms and have a common understanding, it’s very easy to assume that the knowledge you have is commonplace and, therefore, unimportant. It’s only when you start discussing ideas with people outside your industry – drawing out ideas as we do with our clients and viewing things from the knowledge starting point of your average customer – that you realise your views and expertise have value.

Sometimes it helps to take a step back and try to see your knowledge from an outsiders perspective. It’s difficult to do, but you’ll realise you know more than you think you do.

It’s all about the angle

One of the skills PR people have is to find the best angle for a particular story. This is especially true when pitching yourself as a thought leader.
You need to adapt the way you view the information and skills you have. For example, very few people would be interested in an article or blog post entitled ‘My Personal Thoughts on Sales’ but if you were to pitch the same piece as ‘The Top 5 Ways To Increase Your Sales’ you would suddenly find people were interested. Same content, just angled slightly differently.

Likewise, you’re shouldn’t feel that you’re limited to only comment on topics directly relating to your own industry. By thinking more widely you’ll increase the opportunities for you to be seen as an expert in your business by more potential customers. For example a body language expert can comment on a celebrity break-up story, a public speaking trainer can comment on how politicians deliver their message, a pet product manufacturer can comment on how pets behave when they’re scared – all of which are examples of how our clients have widened the reach of their media coverage by appearing in media their customers consume rather than industry-specific titles.

Positioning yourself as a thought leader is one of the most effective ways to stand out among your competitors and build a reputation with your customers and potential customers as a knowledgeable and authoritative human ‘face’ of the business. Customers will come to associate your brand with quality and expertise and your company name will be foremost in their mind thanks to increased media exposure.

The first step is to change your perspective and see things from our view – you absolutely are a thought leader.