Do You Always Have to Rise to the Occasion?

Valentine’s Day, Shrove Tuesday, Easter, Christmas…

And on it goes. No, we’re not just reciting calendar events where we might get presents, but instead, opportunities for press coverage.

Whether you regularly read a newspaper or magazine or not, these annual occasions are embedded in the public consciousness and are just some of the seasonal opportunities you can take advantage of to promote your product or service.

Now, since we’ve just passed Valentine’s Day, we’ll use that as our example.

When publications are planning their February issues, they tend to allocate a big chunk of space to Valentine’s Day. The kinds of stories they run include gift guides or features advising how singletons can find love or how to reignite your relationship. The question is, how can you capitalise on these dates to get your product or service featured?

Start by looking objectively at what it is you have to offer and be honest about whether it’s relevant.

Take for example, a hammer. It’s not a gift that you’d traditionally buy for your partner on Valentine’s Day so the chances are it’s not going to be relevant for gift guides for magazines coming out in February. Now for some PR agencies, the answer is to come up with a cheesy headline like ‘hammer your love home this Valentine’s Day’ (sorry!), but a cheesy headline does not an appropriate story make.

If however, your product is a scented candle, heart shaped chocolates or jewellery, you’re going to be more likely to appeal to journalists writing about romance. In the same way, if you’re a relationship coach, pitching advice on how to keep the magic alive could be of interest.

As we’re always saying, it comes down to doing your research. If you read the papers regularly and read a variety of magazines, start paying attention to trends and what they’re writing about in relation to annual events. Look at what you might have to offer them that’s going to be of interest. Just using the words ‘Valentine’s Day’ or ‘Christmas’ within a headline and hoping they’ll be interested in what your pitching is not the way to go about it.

Creativity is great, but it needs to start from the product or service you want to promote, making sure it’s relevant to the title and the audience and the season, otherwise you’re wasting your time and making no friends in the media.

So, just to recap:

Seasonal opportunities are great, take advantage of them by all means, but if what you want to promote isn’t relevant, move on and find something that works.

Four Reasons Your PR isn’t Working

There could be a number of reasons your PR isn’t having the impact you thought it would and if you think PR is going to magically drive sales, you may need to think again. While PR is an important part of the marketing mix, it needs to work in conjunction with your other sales and marketing activity or you’ll be wasting your time and your money.

For example, you could get a great piece of coverage in The Times or The Telegraph, with all your key messages included, but actually making the sale relies on a number of other things. Here are some thoughts on the things you need to consider before you get started.


If your website isn’t up to scratch, people aren’t going to buy. It sounds so obvious, but too often people rely on how good they think the product or service is, instead of how it’s presented to potential customers. Your website is your shop window so if your site is cluttered or your images aren’t professional, you’ll lose credibility. A well designed and easy to navigate site is essential to encourage people to buy from you and they should feel secure that they are dealing with a professional and reliable company.

Price point:

What’s your price point? If people go onto the site to look at your products is your pricing realistic? You might get a 25% uplift in your site visits, but if people arrive at your site and think the product is too expensive, they aren’t going to buy. Do research into your competition and see how you compare. If your product is more expensive, you need to make sure you justify why it’s worth it.

Customer service:

What’s your customer service like? Are your team pleasant on the phone and do they respond to emails quickly? A bad experience with your sales team will put people off. You can get all the great publicity you want, but if a customer has a bad experience with your team, you’ll lose them completely and you can bet that they’ll tell their friends about it which is the worst possible PR you can get.

Sales lead times:

How long do your customers take to decide to buy your product? If it’s something that you buy for a friend who’s having a baby for example, your customer might find your product but may not buy it until months later when the baby is born. Or if you have an expensive piece of jewellery, it may be that your customer needs to save up to buy it. Take into account that there may be a time lapse between getting the publicity and making the sale.

The Answers:

Before you start any PR activity take the time to examine all these areas. Ask your friends and contacts what they think of your website, product and pricing. You need their honest opinions about these things so that you can adjust your model accordingly and if you do decide to embark on a PR campaign, you need put into place an evaluation system to measure its success. For example, Google analytics can help you keep track of whether press coverage is driving traffic to your site but if your sales remain static, you need to investigate why.
Fundamentally, PR can drive people to your product and service and encourage sales, but unless these elements are all working in alignment, PR won’t be as effective as you need it to be.

It Takes Two to Tango

Some time ago we had a meeting with a potential client.

We did our research into the company, looked at previous press coverage they’d had and the marketing work they’d been doing so far then went in to meet them to find out more about their aims and objectives, where they saw themselves in a year’s time and what they would consider a successful campaign.

Unfortunately, they didn’t want to discuss any of this.

They wanted to know what we were going to do for them.

That was it, no discussion about the company, its structure or how it worked. No discussion of its long term plans and what they were looking for in a PR agency and no interest in answering the questions which would have given us an insight into the business. As it turned out, the structure of the company had changed since the press coverage from the previous year which was apparent after we queried a few things, but they didn’t want to discuss this either, giving us no insight into the company strategy or its values.

The owner of the business was obviously in a rush and had lined up a number of PR agencies to come in that day to talk to him about their PR, but he was in such a hurry, he had no time or inclination to discuss his business in any depth.

It seemed that he wanted a ‘beauty parade’ of PR agencies and he wanted a company to answer his questions and say what he wanted to hear rather than having an open discussion about the company, its challenges and ambitions.

Interviewing agencies in this way means that they might agree with everything you say, they might promise to get you where you think you need to be (and sometimes where a company thinks it needs coverage may not actually benefit them) but they won’t think creatively and won’t challenge you to think about your business and what you need to do to get where you want to be which leads to overpromising and under-delivering.

If you don’t have time to properly discuss your business and go into detail about what you’re looking for, you won’t get the best out of the agencies you’re seeing. They won’t get an insight into your business and won’t be able to see the opportunities that can only be seen from an external perspective. If you’re short of time, work with your team to put together a PR brief – you can find examples online – which will give you the perspective to think about what you need from an agency and what you’re trying to achieve.

As they say, it takes two to tango, and in order to build a successful long-term relationship with a PR agency, you need to be open with them and work together to agree an effective PR strategy. If you find the right agency, they’ll handle the work without needing too much of your time, but to run an effective PR campaign it’s imperative to invest time in talking to prospective agencies sharing the details of your business to get the best out of them.

A Little Story about Perseverance

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

Ok, sorry, got a bit carried away there!

We just want to share with you a story about how, by persevering and being flexible, you can generate press coverage for your company.

A few years ago we were working with a healthcare expert. We identified an opportunity for her in Stella magazine, a magazine supplement within the Sunday Telegraph. The page was called The Knowledge and featured a different expert each week commenting on specific topics. The topics ranged from how to give yourself the perfect manicure right through to how to take the perfect holiday photographs and we were sure that our client would fit perfectly on this page talking about her specialist health subject.

The team at Stella magazine are very difficult to get hold of but we called them numerous times to pitch our client in and were told to send a pitch email in, which we did. Then…nothing. So we’d send another pitch, but nothing. This went on for a while with no result and we were getting a little disheartened because we KNEW that our client would be perfect for this page. Eventually, after about 20 emails, we decided to give it one more go. Our intention is never to stalk or annoy journalists obviously and we had to draw the line somewhere.

But, after the twenty first email, we received a response from the journalist saying that she’d love to feature our client and several weeks later a whole page dedicated to her expertise appeared in the magazine resulting in a huge uplift to her web traffic and hundreds of new subscribers to her newsletter.

Now, the journalist wasn’t ignoring our previous emails and she hadn’t decided that the subject matter wasn’t of interest, she had simply been overwhelmed with emails and missed them. Our perseverance ultimately paid off, gave the journalist a good story to fill the page with and generated a fantastic result for our client.

The lesson? Understand the media outlet you’re pitching to to make sure your story really is relevant to the outlet, hone your pitch so that it’s easy to read, and keep at it. Sending an email and keeping your fingers crossed just isn’t enough.

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 – 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.


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.


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.


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!