Category Archives: local PR

Why New PR Agencies Thrive in a Recession

I’ve just been reading in PR Week about the wisdom or otherwise of starting up a PR agency in a recession. Hmmm, I think I’ve come across this theme before, probably in 1991 – or was it 1982?

The story goes something along the lines of: new agency is keen to build a credible client base by offering rock-bottom rates.  The clients they’ve targeted are only too happy to benefit from high calibre PR expertise at recession-busting prices.

This does of course make perfect economic sense.  I would also venture that start-ups bring more to the table than low prices to sustain their initial appeal and keep their more established competitors at bay.

The hunger to prove a point probably gives a new agency a head start with things like client service and innovative problem solving.  Fresh ideas are priceless and if PR creativity is called for, then start-ups will be more likely to tick all the boxes. 

There’s a danger that complacency may set in with typical client-agency relationships.  Some would argue that this is a comfortable environment in which personal chemistry can thrive.  Others might say that no-one wants to rock the boat when all standard PR procedures are being followed.  A new agency, on the other hand, has a blank canvas on which to introduce a raft of new ideas and follow them through with enthusiasm.

For this is the life-blood of any new business.  Enthusiasm will carry all before it when sustained and supported by true expertise and service.  The new agency’s stock will soar when everything is going well.  Needless to say, the initial rock-bottom fees will take on a value-for-money aura that no other agency can hope to shift.

There’s an intrinsic momentum with a new PR agency, a self-perpetuating energy that harnesses business opportunity with a need to succeed.  The fact that they’re operating against a backdrop of economic recession lends the whole process its own unique frisson.

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Press Releases: Four Simple Ways to Make Sure Yours Stand Out

By Nicholas Beeson, Marketing Associate, Buzzwords Manchester

Editors get hundreds of press releases a week – and most of them bite the dust. Why should this be? It’s obviously important that your release is professionally written. More important, however, is your content. This will be the decider when it comes to whether your release is read and used.

To save you from the agony of rejection, here are four simple ways to make sure your press release stands out from the crowd and that it is actually published:

  • Make sure the subject of your release is relevant to the readership of the publication

Sounds obvious, but many people forget this. The information and story in your release need to be important to the publication’s readership, and not just to your business.

  • Don’t use your press release as a means of free advertising

Editors are wised-up to companies using press releases as free advertising, and can distinguish a genuine press release from ‘advertising in disguise’. Trying to use press releases as a means of free advertising will almost certainly see your release in the bin. Press releases do provide a great means of publicity, but write your publicity to give news or information only.

  • Short and simple is key

Editorial space is limited, meaning your release needs to be short and to the point. Write clear and concise sentences using only the important, relevant information. Avoid jargon, repetition and create lively text that is relevant to the publication’s readership.

  • The release should be able to stand on its own

If you feel a cover letter – or e-mail – is needed to explain why you have sent the press release or why it should be published, then the release isn’t good enough in the first place. Editors should want to publish your press release, so there’s no need to bother with a letter or explanatory e-mail.

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Social Media: Fighting Fire with Fire

By Nicholas Beeson, Marketing Associate, Buzzwords Manchester

In the wake of recent riots, social media has received a bad press. The government claims social media “fuelled” riots and helped orchestrate organised vandalism and looting. Unlike the government, GMP (Greater Manchester Police) have embraced social media as a tool to prosecute, and publicise the prosecutions, of those involved with the recent riots.

GMP also used social media as a live platform during the riots to quash rumours and deter potential rioters. Greater Manchester Police’s early adoption of social media has demonstrated the trust social media can create with publics in times of crisis.

The Internet age has made winning and losing trust more complicated, faster and measurable than ever. This was demonstrated last week by the rioters, who were able to organise and publicise the riots quickly and on a mass scale. The digital revolution has enabled more people to have a voice. Anyone can publish their views and share them instantly.

This ability to publish instantly, combined with increased social networking sites creates a powerful tool that influences the views of people we trust (our friends). Communications has been turned on its head; the public now create the conversations and messages, putting marketers in the back seat.

Throughout the rioting in Manchester last week, GMP were engaging with the public and collecting evidence through the Twitter community by listening to conversations. This strategy can also be applied to business. Listening and engaging with your public through social media is vital, as the right kinds of conversations can inform sceptics and encourage new business. The wrong kinds of conversations can be monitored, evidence can be collected and companies can change.

In the end, building trust through social media is quite simple; it’s all about having more conversations with more people, about the things they care about. Many people (and the government) forget that social media is “social” and listening is at the heart of it.

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‘Copycat Kids’ Trash Manchester Businesses

It would seem that the masked rioters creating mayhem in Manchester yesterday – August 9th – were roaming gangs of teenagers. On several levels, this should give us reason to reflect.

The likelihood is that these ‘copycat kids’ were in it for the kicks. There’s also the buzz they get from taunting the police, and the possibility of grabbing some loot from smashed-in shops.  It’s unlikely that these people are politically motivated, although some may cite economic and social disadvantage as possible driving forces.

How much do we know of the socio-economic makeup of rioters in Manchester and other English cities?  Is it likely they’re organised and operated from behind by some mysterious left-wing Svengalis?  Or was the Tottenham shooting last week a catalyst for the underlying grievances of a growing group of disadvantaged and unemployed under-25s to emerge spontaneously, collectively and violently?

Although reprehensible, it’s only half the story to label all these people (in all these places) as ‘criminals’.  Yes, they’ve committed criminal acts against the homes and businesses of hard-working and innocent people – and should be held to account. 

What we need to look at, however, is whether the so-called rioters are impressionable young people craving some excitement in their otherwise dull and predictable lives?  Or are they immature, vulnerable and naive people following politically motivated ‘leaders’ who know how to whip up a groundswell of anger – exploiting the dispossessed status of so many young English people – by the clever manipulation of social media and smartphone communications?

Heaven forbid, it could just be that some of the rioters have a case!  Maybe the condemnation by the Establishment and the middle-class masses of Baby Boomers has completely missed the point?  Maybe it is they who are responsible for creating a whole generation who’ve been priced out of the housing market, higher education and well-paid middle-class careers that are reserved for a new privately-educated élite?   Or maybe we should round up a posse and drive those pesky bankers out of town?!

The enlightened liberalism that’s been sugared by decades of economic good fortune has blinded today’s older generation to the fact that there’s a huge swathe of humanity on their doorstep – albeit living on the poorer side of town – for whom rioting (or something akin to it) is an attractive, or only, option.  Democracy clearly doesn’t work for people at the bottom of the pile, simply because the rules of the winning Establishment have been drawn up by the winners themselves.

People taking to the streets is nothing new of course.  For the French, it’s been in their DNA since the 1789 Revolution – et vive La France!  Scarcely a year goes by without their students or unions blockading something or other.  In England, we’ve had our moments too.  Think: poll tax; miners’ strike; Iraq war.

In those cases, the protesting was by people who had a stake in English society.  This therefore gave their actions a greater sense of legitimacy.  Peaceful protest has ben recognised as being part of the English way of doing things for centuries.  Protesting turns to rioting only when peaceful means don’t work. 

In the case of many rioters over the past week, it could safely be said that the many economic and social grievances which currently abound in our society have not been addressed.  This, to some people, would lend justification to their actions.  Many would also say that Tory policies have aggravated an already-sensitive situation.

What isn’t yet clear is whether those who were rioting in our cities were mainly opportunists, jumping on a bandwaggon for cheap thrills – or whether there was a political dimension to the acts of at least some of those involved. 

As of 10 August 2011, it looks likely that there were some politically-minded agitators involved, and the rest followed their lead.  Whether they can sustain unrest at a level that will make a political difference is debatable, especially given the Establishment’s track-record of successfully keeping a lid on foment created by undesirable ‘fifth columnists’.

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Five Reasons Facebook Groups Are Still Important

By Nicholas Beeson, Marketing Associate, Buzzwords Manchester

Only a few years ago many businesses relied solely on Facebook groups to promote and market to their Facebook audiences. Many businesses have simply overlooked the power of groups since business pages were introduced.

Groups can still work well when you want to take quick action around a current issue, and are still often used to rally people around causes or current events. These are the five reasons why Facebook groups are still important:

  • Getting the message across

Sending messages to group members is very powerful because Group messages are sent directly to members’ inboxes, just like messages from a friend. Facebook pages restrict you from doing this, only allowing page updates!

  • Organising events

Groups are a great way to organise events and they also the give you the capability to message attendees. Group content is also now included in the Facebook Newsfeed, something once exclusive to Pages. This is a major factor in retaining members and driving engagement.

  • Time

Groups can be grown quickly, perfect when time is not on your side. Bulk invites to join a group can be sent to friends, which can also be helpful for viral marketing.

  • Control

Facebook groups provide you with much more control over who can be allowed in and out of your group! Groups can be made exclusive to certain networks; they can be private so they are only visible to members or available to all Facebook members. The control that groups provide can be helpful when creating a subsection of your page.

  • The personal touch

Facebook groups generally create a more personal feeling. They allow for close interaction with the administrator of the group, unlike a more anonymous page. Many find this personal interaction to be a welcome bonus in what can often seem like an impersonal digital age!

 
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Blogging: 4 Simple Steps Towards A Successful Blog…

By Nicholas Beeson – Marketing Associate, Buzzwords Manchester

In the age of social media, blogs should form the backbone of your social media marketing campaigns. The content is also valuable in its own right.

Blogs drive traffic to your website and create valuable links. Despite this, many of us forget what makes a blog successful. As a reminder, here are four SIMPLE – yet effective – tips on how to maintain a successful blog:

  • Develop a strong blogging ‘voice’

The overall style of your blog should reflect your business or brand. It should be designed to meet your overall marketing objectives. Your blog should be written in a tone that is open and credible, conversational and jargon-free. Use the blog as an extension of your website.

  • Blog frequently

For your blog to be successful, you need to add new content often. You should post at regular times to make it easier for your subscribers to follow. As a minimum, you should aim to post three new blog entries a week.

  • Avoid rambling on

Many bloggers don’t realise that the most successful blogs are very narrowly focused on specific issues and are made up of short entries. The title of your blog is also important as it helps optimise each blog post across the web. Blogs are meant to be read quickly. This should be reflected in your writing style.

  • Optimise for ‘The Links Effect’

Make sure you include relevant keywords – and add tags to match! This will help generate back-links to your website and thus help with SEO and search engine rankings. This in turn will generate traffic to provide the sales leads or other enquiries which will ultimately justify your website’s existence.

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How to Optimize your Facebook Page in 3 Simple Steps

Buzzwords' Facebook page

By Nicholas Beeson, Marketing Associate at Buzzwords Manchester

To get the most out of a Facebook page, you need to gain members. In order to do this, some basic SEO skills can be applied. Optimizing your Facebook page will enable it to be found on both Facebook and the World Wide Web!

Believe it or not, Facebook pages are indexed by search engines and can even be viewed by those without a Facebook account. Facebook pages also have the potential to rank highly!

Ranking well on Facebook’s internal search is even more important, as those searching for your brand or business on Facebook know what they want and will be able to find it with ease!

3 simple steps
To begin optimizing your page so it ranks well on both organic and internal searches, follow these 3 simple steps:

1. What are you about?

The “About” box is one of the most undervalued elements of a Facebook page. The “About” box provides you with a platform to add keywords that can tell customers and search engines what your page is about! The box also allows you to add clickable links that can direct customers back to your company’s website or any other related sites.

2. The category you place yourself in is vital

When deciding on the category in which to place your page, be careful. The category affects what you can add to your info, and how much you can add! When completing the info section, use lots of key words and add links to all of your related sites including your company website, blog, LinkedIn and Twitter.

3. Choose an appropriate URL and page name

When choosing the page name, make sure it is related to your organisation and easily visible to those searching for you. Once you have gained 25 ‘likes’, create a unique URL that is memorable and related to your brand!

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PR and the simple art of zapping your competitors

By Nicholas Beeson, Marketing Associate at Buzzwords Manchester

If you thought PR was mainly about providing a bit of background noise while your other marketing activities did the ‘real’ business, think again! More and more companies are realising that PR is a powerful and cost-effective way to achieve a wide range of business aims – and that all-important competitive advantage. Here are just five reasons to go for it:

1. Times are changing – and so is marketing effectiveness
For a variety of reasons, many companies have found that certain ‘old favourite’ marketing tactics have declined in effectiveness over time. Direct mail is a great example of a traditional marketing technique that has declined in recent years. Printing and postage costs continue to rise, yet response rates have dropped. When current marketing tactics are failing, it may be worth adding PR to the equation. PR can generate significant returns and the odds are you’ll see some impressive synergies when used with other marketing communications tools.

2. Get yourself noticed – it’s not before time!
If your competitors are continually getting media attention and leaving you unnoticed, it’s time PR was introduced into the equation! Conducting an ongoing PR programme will increase your company’s chances of featuring in the media, as editors (and potential customers) will now be thinking of you – not just your competitors.

3. PR helps you compete with the ‘big boys’ of marketing
Your competitors may be more established, and have bigger budgets than your company, but PR can level the playing field! With PR in your arsenal, creative thinking can deliver big gains in valuable media coverage.

4. Marketing budgets have been cut
The current economic climate has seen many businesses cut their marketing budgets. With marketing costs increasing annually, a more cost-effective marketing technique needs to be introduced. PR is cost-effective and can achieve equal or better results than paid advertising.

5. You enjoy the media spotlight!
Finally, if you enjoy media attention, put your natural enthusiasm to work. Launch a PR campaign that will generate measurable results for your company and your products!

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Muddy Waters plays on Chorlton railway station Manchester 1963!

Now that Metrolink trams have come to Chorlton-cum-Hardy in Manchester, discovering this video of blues legend Muddy Waters performing on the old Chorlton railway station in 1963 (Wilbraham Road for Chorltonville!) is 24-carat nostalgia!

That was the year when Lord Beeching wielded his axe to the British railway network as car ownership began to take off. Little did he know that the whole transport infrastructure would come full circle!

Thanks to Alan Ward at Axis Graphic Design in Chorlton for drawing my attention to this gem!!!

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Marketing 101 – The Digital Marketing Question…

 Written by Nicholas Beeson – Marketing Associate at Buzzwords Manchester

The past 15 years have seen the Internet revolutionise our society. The way we communicate, shop and socialise have all changed – meaning that marketing strategies had to follow suit. Nobody could have imagined the drastic impact the Internet would have upon our lives and marketing practices. Today, there’s a whole generation of consumers who have embraced the Internet, proving early sceptics wrong.

This has led to the development of digital marketing which has been described as the “execution of marketing using electronic media”. With digital marketing becoming ever more important, many companies are ditching traditional offline marketing (or reducing how much they spend on it).

In 2008, Orange announced that they would be investing all their marketing budget in digital by 2012. A company of this size switching to digital underlines the growing importance of the medium. Sarah Messer – Head of Commercial Research and Insight at ITV – was quoted in 2008 as saying:

The same ad content could be more effective online than on TV. In testing, ads on itv.com generated a 40% recall rate compared with 17% on ITV1.”

With digital marketing becoming a predominant part of many companies’ marketing budgets, it is important to gain an understanding, keep “up to date” with new marketing practice and determine how digital marketing is affecting traditional marketing strategy. Because the practice of digital marketing is relatively new, marketers will continue to have conflicting views about the issues surrounding it.

 
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Marketing 101 – Websites

Written by Nicholas Beeson, Marketing Associate at Buzzwords Manchester

It is generally accepted that online marketing revolves around having a web presence. Accessibility, communication, credibility, understanding, appearance, availability – these are all vital to successful websites. To maximise their potential, they need to work in conjunction with other online and offline marketing strategies.

Usability and accessibility are key elements for a successful website. They enable a site to be accessed by the widest possible audience and provide consumers with information and functionality they’re comfortable with. Usability is all about how easy it is for a visitor to achieve their objectives when visiting the site.

A website that provides good usability can pay dividends. If a user can accomplish their goals efficiently and effectively, it can increase website traffic, repeat visits and increase sales. The term “accessibility” in relation to the Internet, refers to the process of designing a website that is equally accessible to everyone. An accessible site enables a larger cross-section of the target audience to visit the site, thus increasing visits and sales.

For any website to reach its full potential, consumers have to be able to find the site. The majority of consumers today use search engines to find new websites. 80 percent of Internet users find new websites by typing a query into one of the major search engines. This emphasises the importance of the Internet search engines. As a result, the practice of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has been developed.

SEO is all about making a site attractive to search engine robots by presenting its code and content in such a way that its pages will achieve high rankings in response to keywords typed in to make an online search. Matt Cutts, the head of the quality team at Google was asked in an interview with wired.com “Does search engine optimization work?” – to which he replied:

It does to some degree. Think of it this way: When you put a CV forward, you want it to be as clean as possible. If the CV is sloppy, you’re not going to get an interview for the job. SEO is sort of like tweaking your CV”.

SEO is becoming ever more important, and will continue to do so as long as the Internet continues to grow. In an online study commissioned by Google, it was found SEO could increase brand recall, increase purchase intent and brand affinity.

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Marketing 101 – Social Media Marketing

Written by Nicholas Beeson – Marketing Associate at Buzzwords Manchester

Social media has changed the way we interact with our friends, family, customers and colleagues. It has enabled consumers to become opinion leaders, leaving marketers only one option: to listen to their customers’ opinions.

Social media can be explained as, “The sum total of people who create content online, as well as the people who interact with one another.”

Through social media, consumers are now able to add their own opinions and content to sites. This has enabled them to form opinions between one another on social networking sites, blogs and forums. As a result, marketers have developed Social Media Marketing (SMM) which can best be described as;

‘A term used to encompass any online marketing strategy or tactic which uses social media as the medium for its communication. Further use of social media is where the marketer engages in discourse with members of the general public (potential customers) in virtual communities.’

Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are at the forefront of social media sites and, as the world knows, they are growing exponentially. Expert Larry Webster states that social networks are “Member-based communities that enable users to link one another based on common interests and through invites”.

Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all provide users with different experiences. Ultimately, however, they all give users the ability to find and connect with friends, family, colleagues etc. Social networking sites enable marketers to advertise, improve online exposure/reputation and nurture pre-existing brand advocates. Although the security and privacy that these sites provide is often questioned, they continue to grow and influence modern society.

As an example: when a US blogger called Vincent Ferrari felt that he had been insulted by an AOL customer service representative, he decided to take revenge. Ferrari posted the audio recording of the conversation online. As word spread, 300,000 listeners requested downloads of the audio file, the story was picked up by thousands of other bloggers and websites, and eventually made national news. This is a great example of the power blogs have and the true freedom consumers now have to vent their frustrations and offer opinions.

Businesses are also using blogs to add a human connection to a previously bland corporate image. Marketers have realised the importance of blogs as they can create massive exposure and also engage consumers on a personal level. Micro-blogging site, Twitter, gives business the opportunity to put out short 140-character blogs that can be just as effective as conventional blogs in moulding and influencing public opinion.

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Marketing 101 – E-mail Marketing

 

By Nicholas Beeson, Marketing Associate at Buzzwords Manchester

E-mail has become a part of our everyday communication. It is now one of the most powerful elements of digital marketing, enabling marketers to communicate quickly, efficiently and at low cost. When used correctly and ethically, it is one of the most effective forms of online marketing.

E-mail marketing is like traditional direct mail. It goes without saying that accurate targeting is vital. Digital marketers use CRM to build a database of customers, to build and maintain relationships with consumers through regular e-mails, where they’re offering discounts, vouchers and so on.

CRM is an acronym for “Customer Relationship Management”. It’s a marketing-led approach to building and sustaining long-term business with customers. CRM enables marketers to build a relationship with customers and understand their needs. Customers can be segmented according to their tastes, resulting in e-mail marketing campaigns that are targeted towards customers most likely to respond.

E-mail marketing can also enhance brand loyalty. Regular e-mails that give consumers access to what they want, when and where they want it will clearly keep them interested in the brand.

E-mail communication gives the consumer a sense of being valued which will further enhance brand loyalty. Furthermore, ongoing communication reassures the customer they are using the right brand and helps to develop a relationship between them and the brand. Most importantly, E-mail marketing is low-cost, effective and very efficient.

 
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Marketing 101 – Online PR and Reputation Management

By Nicholas Beeson, Marketing Associate at Buzzwords Manchester

PR is one of the most important elements of the marketing mix. It’s all about building positive relations with your company’s customers through publicity that builds a positive image around the company.

PR is even more important online. On the negative side, rumours and stories about companies can spread like wild-fire, damaging reputations and credibility in double-quick time. On the positive side, customer feedback can be invaluable in gaining an understanding of what the market is really thinking about your company, its products and services.

Internet marketing author and blogger Dave Chaffey gives a good description of Online PR: “Online PR is about maximising favourable mentions of your company, brands, products or web sites on third-party websites which are likely to be visited by your target audience. Online PR can also be used to support viral or word-of-mouth marketing activities in other media.”

Overall, Online PR boils down to two key things: raising the online profile of a business and managing the online reputation of a business.

Although the Internet has allowed companies to monitor and influence online conversations, it can also present them with a new set of problems. In particular, the complete freedom of speech that is possible online has worked against many companies.

The Internet is to a large extent uncontrolled. In principle, anyone can say or show anything. Much of the material that reaches the public no longer passes through traditional gatekeepers such as newspaper editors, radio or television producers. The result is both freedom of speech and distribution of unreliable, unconfirmed and often untrue information. This can be a threat – but also an opportunity – for PR practitioners.

An example of this lawlessness on the Internet was seen with the recent BP oil disaster. The social media site “Twitter”, saw 1 million conversations about BP. Of these conversations, 59% were deemed to be negative towards BP. This absolute freedom of speech can be damaging to companies, which further underlines the importance of Online PR and having a fall-back strategy in place. Communicating with online communities and PR ‘publics’ is vital as it raises the company profile as well as maintaining the reputation of the company or brand.

Social media is of course at the heart of the Online PR frenzy. Blogging and online news releases are other inter-related techniques used by companies to promote themselves online. The Digibuzz blog talks about the importance of online press releases;

In a significant report, titled ‘Search Marketing Benchmark Guide’, MarketingSherpa reported that online press releases, combined with organic search engine optimization, are among the most effective Internet marketing strategies.”

In its aims and effects, Online PR is not hugely different to offline PR. The principles are the same but the channels are different. Nowadays, Online PR and reputation management are a crucial part of any digital marketing plan. Online conversations constantly need to be monitored to pre-empt any negative feedback. Whilst Online PR raises a company’s profile, wherever possible it also needs to be carefully managed to protect the online image and reputation of a company.

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Who’s Driving the Social Media Bandwaggon?

The slightly opportunist stance of GolinHarris in announcing its new, flatter agency structure shouldn’t obscure the fact that PR and marketing services are undergoing a major sea-change at the hands of social media and the ongoing online revolution.

Who cares how a PR agency organises itself?  Even its clients shouldn’t be too concerned – providing the end result is a better service.  We can only assume that something along those lines was behind the GH announcement! 

Of course, revolutions spark some big changes.  Some would argue that it’s inevitable PR agencies will wrestle with their own internal response to the rise of social media, and everything else that goes with consumers and clients grabbing the marketing initiative.

Others would say that, ultimately, agencies will have no choice but to respond in the most optimal ways available.  Juggling with staffing structures, departmental responsibilities and individual skillsets is something that any responsible and responsive service sector consultancy will do (or should do) as a matter of course.

In the PR industry, change has never been as dramatic or as sustained as it has been over recent years.  With change comes opportunity, especially for the fleet of foot.  It could be argued that publicly announcing just how ‘fleet’ you really are is a shrewd new-business move calculated to attract clients who may feel they’re on the receiving end of some serious inertia as far as their existing agency is concerned!

Being seen to be pro-active will always contribute to PR success.  Responding to the ways clients and markets can be reached by co-ordinating social and digital media with ‘traditional’ PR skills is a sensible route to take when your competitors may be struggling to understand what is happening in their hitherto stable world.

And yet, making changes in response to market needs by shifting accountability, job labels or responsibilities may be too premature when the full implications of ultra-new media are still throbbing their way through every marketing channel. 

Whilst it’s probably better that even an embryonic response is better than no response to the demands of market complexity in an ever-shrinking global village, there’s a danger that the diversity of recent reaction among some of the bigger PR agencies will, in the end, be self-defeating.

 
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PR in Manchester – Changes begin with MediaCityUK

(Written by Nicholas Beeson)

The recent relocation of the BBC to Salford’s MediaCityUK has provoked a lot of discussion in the PR world. A recent article featured in PR Week, discusses the impact MediaCity will have upon PR in the northwest.

The construction of MediaCity alone has cost the BBC in excess of 189 million pounds and will see high profile news outlets such as Radio 5 Live and BBC Breakfast relocate to the new Salford headquarters. The move will also see 2,300 BBC staff making the move north, but how will this impact on PR in the region?

To many, the move is seen as symbolic as the BBC try to improve relations with audiences in the north and portray the BBC as representative of the UK as whole (not just London). With all the hype surrounding the construction of MediaCity it would be expected that agencies are getting excited by the pending move.

This proves not to be the case, as Brazen founder Nina Webb says:
“I haven’t re-written my business plan on the back of it.” (referring to MediaCity).

Although the enthusiasm of MediaCity might not be shared by all, there’s no doubt that new PR opportunities will arise from the new BBC North headquarters. Many of the programmes that are being relocated are interviewee-intensive which will of course provide opportunities for agencies with clients based near MediaCity who can comment on news issues.

MediaCity is also being touted as a catalyst for growth in the regional creative industry.  The relocation will enable many agency people to create new relationships with journalists.

In many ways, the BBC’s relocation to MediaCity is great news for Manchester and the northwest. A greater emphasis may be placed on stories coming from the north, although it has to be said that London as the centre of the media universe is not under threat!

The danger with all this is that many people could overestimate the potential impact of MediaCity, and the whole exercise could prove to be a massive white elephant – as Julian Bailey, Head of Media Relations at Morrisons, so neatly puts it:

“As a PR professional based in Bradford,” he says, “I will continue to spend more time in London than Salford”.

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PR and a double-dip recession

I wonder to what extent the media will hasten the self-fulfilling prophecy of a double-dip recession?  All the ingredients are in place.  If world markets, economies and currencies are mixed in just the ‘right’ way, I predict it won’t be long before the so-called commentators are creating a very unpalatable brew.

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Buzzwords embraces Twitter and PR 2.0

Follow Buzzwords’  Twitter updates on

twitter.com/COPYWRITINGBUZZ

(See sidebar for Buzzwords’ latest ‘tweets’ and to visit the site!!!)

 

Social media is coming of age and companies like Buzzwords need to know and see what’s going on in the PR 2.0 world, from both a B2B and consumer marketing perspective.

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A Merry PR Christmas!

It’s been a strange year by any standards.  Everything came to a head in October when we all thought the world was coming to an end! 

It didn’t of course, but PR activity will need to change over the coming months as clients grapple with a new economic landscape.  ‘Free lunches’ have long been out of the window.  What the equivalent is, further down the scale of professional privation, is a question that’s had me scratching my head – but probably goes along the lines of abandoning all that stuff about strategic thinking, reputation management and everything else that distances PR from the (highly successful) Max Clifford school of publicity. 

For 2009, we are where we are: in deep quagmires of a claggy consistency that won’t be helped by pompous pseudo-professionalism.  This is the year(s?) when results are all that matter.  With client budgets trimmed, it’s time for a tactical awakening.

Buzzwords’ response to all this is pretty much as it always has been ie. provide clients with a range of services from which they can pick and choose.  That’s simply because the smaller, B2B clients prefer the more cautious ad hoc approach.  I’m certainly not decrying the turnkey PR services offered by larger agencies.  There’s a lot to be said for the integrated marketing approach – if you can afford it.

This year, increasing numbers of (even the bigger) companies will be looking at ‘bigger bangs for their buck’.  To this end, Buzzwords will continue to offer traditional media relations programmes and online PR services together with specific offerings like article marketing, case study writing, newsletters (of course) – and even the odd annual report thrown in for good measure!

It’s all about flexibility and cost-effectiveness.  In times of dearth, agencies and consultants have to respond with services which will help our clients’ clients respond positively which in turn will help to pay our own rents. 

Here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas –  and, most of all, a prosperous New Year!

Buzzwords PR Manchester now on Facebook

Check out Buzzwords Limited on Facebook! 

 

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New PR Manchester & Cheshire page on Buzzwords’ website

Reflecting Buzzwords’ increasing focus on B2B PR clients based in Manchester, Cheshire and across the North West, you’ll find a new ‘local PR’ page on Buzzwords’ website (see: PR in Manchester & Cheshire on the PR & Media Relations page – there’s a direct link to Buzzwords’ website from the ‘About’ page of this blog).  This is the first of several new PR pages planned for the site which relate to the wide range of B2B PR services Buzzwords has provided over the years.

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PR in Knutsford, Cheshire and Manchester

I’m approached fairly regularly by businesses in Knutsford and elsewhere in Cheshire and Manchester (Buzzwords is based in Knutsford!) who want to use PR to raise their profile.  In many cases, what they mean is ‘marketing services’ – and not PR, which has become an umbrella term for things like advertising,  direct mail and so on. 

That’s fine, of course.  Most PR practitioners handle a wide range of services other than pure public relations – or they ‘know a man who can’.  Exploiting local PR opportunities is one of the most cost-effective forms of publicity there is, so it makes sense to be constantly on the lookout for a juicy PR story. 

Companies with lots of employees have a ready-made source of human-interest stories which will very likely interest the local media.  Businesses with unusual new products, or directors who’ve been winning business or doing other unspeakable things in the far flung corners of the globe… all this makes for good copy. 

No business is without a PR story.  It may sometimes call for a bit more ‘drilling down’ into what’s going on with the company, its people, products and services.  Stories with a ‘local politics’ bias could ring a few bells – wrangling with the local council, for example, or inviting the local MP to do the honours at a special product launch or company anniversary.

Sometimes, of course, stories can be ‘created’ around things like sponsorship deals or charity events.  Local PR has many dimensions.  Whether you’re based in Knutsford, Cheshire or Manchester, it’s simply a question of sitting down and thinking through what opportunities are under your nose.

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PR success for Manchester and Cheshire businesses

The PR scene in Manchester and Cheshire is highly competitive. 

PR agencies trying to secure for their clients those vital column inches or search engine rankings will be constantly trawling established and emerging media for ‘windows of opportunity’.  More than that, they’ll be having joined-up brainstorms to create newsworthy stories that will knock the competition ‘off the front page’!

Of course, this is all good news for the media.  One only has to look at the success of publications such as the Manchester Evening News, Cheshire Life and so on to gauge the vibrancy of the social and business scene.  No doubt their advertising departments flourish on the back of it.

As far as PR goes, it means that a certain level of strategic planning has to be involved.  In particular, for a PR agency’s campaign to succeed, it will need the active involvement of a senior person in the client company.  Without their strategic direction – and someone in authority to push through ‘on-message’ publicity – the PR agency’s job is impossible.

Of course, this isn’t applicable solely to local PR, but the intensity and sensitivities of local market conditions can play a major part in a story’s usability.  On the other hand, the opportunities for local PR to offset negative perceptions of a company’s activities or ‘massage’ local public opinion can be priceless.

The implications and influence of local PR go right to the heart of what public relations is all about, namely, managing corporate reputation.  Corporate social responsibility starts with a local dimension which may seem a million miles away from a company’s need to make profits.  No business exists in a vacuum, however, and every bit of information or news that leaves a company must be considered alongside the impact it will have on the local community, the workforce, suppliers and customers. 

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Local PR for clients in Manchester and Cheshire

Local PR is a strange beast.  And I would guess the media in Cheshire and Manchester are no different from elsewhere in the UK.  Trying to win coverage in the local press (radio or TV) using traditional media relations methods requires a little more creativity than average. 

No point sending an editor a descriptive piece about your client’s range of products or services.  You’ll need real ‘human interest’ stories… you know the sort of thing: employee raises £X million for charity; ‘green’ credentials of X company demonstrated in marathon tree-planting exercise; employees decide to marry after 40 years working together in the factory etc etc. 

The problem is, of course, that these stories don’t come along every day of the week.  So that’s where the PR man’s black art of inventing hooks and angles comes in handy.  With certain clients, however, this can be like getting the proverbial blood from a stone.  A lot of this stems from a reluctance to air one’s dirty linen in public.  Will it make us look stupid /unprofessional/ etc the client asks???  What’s the point of all this anyway, they may say? 

The answer is that local PR stories must be part of a company’s wider PR strategy.  To give an example: sponsoring a Porsche driver who’s racing at a local circuit – especially if the driver happens to work for your company – would fit neatly with an outfit  that wanted to project a young, progressive and (possibly) technically-advanced image.   

In many ways, local PR is more challenging than straightforward media relations where the trade press will publish almost anything providing it’s relevant to that sector or industry.  Likewise with online PR publishers – except online coverage also comes with valuable links back to your website! 

Of course, local PR clients always ask the same question when you first start talking turkey: do you have good connections with local editors?   It may help to a small extent but, in general, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.   In other words, if the story is weak, there’s no point souring a perfectly good working relationship.

Mike Beeson has added a new page on local PR to the ‘PR & media relations’ page of Buzzwords’ website.

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