Category Archives: PR Cheshire

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.

Add to Technorati Favorites

 

Advertisements

PR 101: Four ways to improve your writing

With 2012 well under way – and plans to launch Buzzwords’ new copywriting courses (online and face-to-face) at an advanced stage – what better time could there be to spill a few beans on how to improve your PR writing. Here are four things that may set you thinking:

1. Use short, simple words

Don’t show off! French phrases and rare words might cut it in certain circles, but copywriting is all about communication.  You need to make sure ALL your readers know what you’re talking about without them having to scurry off for a dictionary (or, worse still, abandoning any attempt to read your gems altogether!).

2. Know who you’re writing for

Create a mental picture of who your readers might be.  Think about their age, interests, educational level, social influences and so on.  What will turn them on?  And what might put them off?  These are largely common sense things, but it’s wise to give them a thought before you start blazing away on the keyboard.

3. Research your subject

With business-to-business PR, you’re talking to specialists.  With consumer PR, you’re talking to savvy consumers who will twig right away that you’re not really on their wavelength and therefore not worthy of too much of their time.  Research material is everywhere on the Internet – so use it!.  You don’t need to regurgitate dry facts.  Think around the subject.  Put facts and events in the context of your own particular message.  Be relaxed in your writing by all means; but most of all, make sure you’re credible.

4. Aim high – and keep it that way!

Quality PR writing is all about clarity and energy.  If you can achieve that in everything you write, then your readers will stay with you until the bitter end.  If you’ve read this far, you’ll know what I mean!

Add to Technorati Favorites

The Social Media Explosion!

Add to Technorati Favorites

Should you have a Tumblr account? Or is the number of social media platforms tumbling out of control?

By Nicholas Beeson, Marketing Associate, Buzzwords Limited

Social media has now entered mainstream marketing, and for many companies social media has become the number one online marketing platform. Only last week HSBC announced that they would be putting social media at the heart of their UK business growth strategy, with an ambitious plan to create their “Own version of Facebook”.

Many companies only consider the traditional social media platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter…etc) and overlook new social media platforms, for example, Tumblr.  In case you don’t know, Tumblr is a blogging platform with over 30 million blogs, 10 billion posts and is completely business friendly!  It’s quickly becoming a force in the social media world, as it has taken all the elements of traditional social media platforms to create its own user-friendly platform!

So who should be using Tumblr? If your audience is young Tumblr is perfect, it provides mobile-friendly, visual-orientated content and is especially popular among designers and fashionistas…

If you’re looking for simplicity, Tumblr again is a perfect platform as it can provide you with an instant blog! It is easy to use and anybody can use it. Although not as powerful as WordPress, Tumblr gives a more visual, user- friendly experience!

For designers, publishers and anybody considering using Tumblr it may be worth trying to gauge the nature of the Tumblr audience. The general profile tends to be young, trendy types, but this is a generalisation.  The Tumblr audience is always changing and many businesses now have a Tumblr presence, including Buzzwords.

Add to Technorati Favorites

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.

Add to Technorati Favorites

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.

Add to Technorati Favorites

The PR Agency – And New Turks on the Block!

The latest edition of PR Week magazine features an article about PR agency structures. On the face of it, that may seem like the most boring topic in the world. For anyone in the agency business, however, it’s endlessly fascinating!

We all know that the media and marketing landscape has changed dramatically in the past few years. It’s interesting to ask how PR agencies have responded in terms of their structure and operational approach. It also begs the question: has there been any NEED to change PR agency business models?

If we’re talking here about the rise and rise of social media, another more apposite question might be: have agency people got to grips with the new social media and digital marketing age?  All the changes in the world that are made to ‘structures’ won’t affect anything if PR agency people are ignorant about the new Turks on the block.

Now, if new structures (or new business models) are devised that accommodate new-age media and marketing, then we may be getting somewhere.  If, on the other hand, there’s some nebulous shifting of deck-chairs along the lines of ad agencies (or even, god forbid, along the lines of responding to client needs!), then a lot of people are surely missing the point. 

Effective responses to change reside in people – not structures.  Flattened corporate hierarchies went a long way in recent decades towards liberating the energies of workforces across many sectors.  The beauty of the agency world – PR, advertising, design, marketing and the rest – is that traditionally they have been small enough to avoid the fug of ‘corporateness’.

By virtue of being ‘small’ (in corporate terms), agencies tend to be flexible, creative and adaptable.  Trying to apply business school organisational theory to agencies runs the risk of destroying the informal structures that made them so effective in the first place.

It will always make sense, of course, to look at how companies of any description are organised.  Getting the most out of people and other resources is the driving force behind business progress.

As far as PR agencies are concerned,  that needn’t involve structural change.  Rather, the issues are about individual mind-sets and effective leadership that will embrace change and run with it – hopefully into the arms of grateful clients. 

Who in the agency world can honestly say they know where social media is taking us?  Some will have a good grasp of the impact social media has already had and the changed context that the digital marketing world has created.  What no-one can foresee is where it’s all heading.

Less than 20 years ago, search engines weren’t on anyone’s radar.  Five years ago or so, the likes of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn were marketing unknowns.  What will happen in the next ten years – and the impact it will have on marketing – is almost impossible to predict. 

Changes made to agency structures now may be obsolete or, even worse, hopelessly inefficient in five or six years time.  The best way to respond to change is to keep things informal and generate a culture of  awareness and responsiveness to the kaleidoscope of  ideas, technology and techniques that are no doubt spooking ‘traditional’ agencies in 2011.

It’s right that people in the PR industry are questioning the status quo.  Change can be a threat if it’s not addressed.  With the appropriate responses, however, it can present new worlds of opportunity.  Age-old arguments about whether PR people should be ‘generalists’ (for which, read: G & T-tainted dilettantes) – or specialists in areas such as social media, web development or video obviously raise questions about how people-skills are organised within agencies.

Yes, we know that these skills go down in the lift every night.  PR is a ‘people business’.  Not surprisingly, though, people don’t respond well to the heavy hand of ‘structural engineering’, particularly when it constrains their creative side. 

Surely, a more productive approach would be to focus on individual development, ‘training’ if you will.  In an age where the rate of change is accelerating beyond belief, constant skills appraisal and injection (not the more complacent-sounding Continuous Professional Development!) should be a bigger priority than changing job titles, departments and command chains.

Add to Technorati Favorites