Category Archives: PR Manchester

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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Annual Report Writing – PR for multiple audiences

I’m currently writing an annual report for a national organisation.  The number of elements and audiences to consider when writing an annual report are never-ending.

Not only does the copywriting have to be impartial and authoritative.  You also have to weave in mentions of corporate social responsibility, business risks, the past, the present, the future…

And all of this in a financial context that will tell audiences ranging from journalists to bankers to shareholders what the business is all about, who its people are, what their Key Performance Indicators and objectives are – and how far they’ve accomplished last year’s objectives.

There’s even a new consideration this year because of the introduction of electronic shareholder communications provisions in the Companies Act.  Writing a blog post like this comes as a little light relief after that lot! 


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Social media and B2B PR

Is there a role for social media in the context of B2B PR?  Is PR 2.0 relevant in a hard-nosed B2B world where ‘wanting to be someone’s friend’ sounds, to put it mildly, slightly pathetic?  I read that FaceBook is overtaking MySpace in the social media stakes – but, when it comes to B2B, isn’t the mass market mechanism of social media irrelevant to the targeted world of  industrial marketing, financial PR, pharma etc?  Of course, we’re all consumers and potential customers of some company or other – but is the time-consuming activity of PR 2.0 cost-effective?  It’s difficult to know what the reality of all this actually is.  Few people would stand up and pour scorn on a trend that is highly successful in the mass marketplace.  If there’s any research out there, I’d love to know what the conclusions are!


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Forget about PR – it’s Christmas!

With Christmas just a week away, PR is fading into the background as parties and planning for 2008 take over.  PR Week’s done its Review of 2007 – and a busy year it was too!  There was a time when people complained that Christmas was growing into a holiday too far – that it was stretching into a month off for most people and that the economy would suffer etc etc.  With more and more people working silly hours, Christmas is a good time to re-charge the batteries and get everything in perspective!  Have a relaxing time this Christmas.  Forget about PR and come back in January feeling like a new man (or woman), so to speak.

Blogs as a PR tool

A great addition to your PR armoury is a blog or two, optimized for the cuddliest keywords in your life.  Once you’ve established the blog, all you need to invest is a couple of hours twice a week to keep the momentum going with the search engines and to maintain your blog’s ranking.  

Even better, your blog can be cathartic: that is to say, you can get all those things off your chest that have been bugging you all week.  Far better than having a rant at a supplier or employee, cheaper than getting pissed and much safer than plonking someone on the nose.

From a SEO point of view, it may be beneficial to set up a blog which is linked directly to your website so you get all the SEO spin-offs and the added bonus that traffic is coming direct to your main website and not to your standalone blog which is a few clicks away at best.  http://wordpress.org  is the place to go if you’re interested in integrating a pro blog into your website.   


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Buzzwords’ Online PR Packages

Buzzwords is launching various business-to-business PR packages in 2008 which will give clients based in Manchester and elsewhere in the UK a choice of how to achieve their PR aims in the most cost-effective ways possible.   

With Integrated Marketing thinking always to the fore, the packages will have online PR and media relations at their core.  This can then be overlaid with the other PR and copywriting services available from Buzzwords including link-generating services such as Article PR; online copywriting including  SEO and website copywriting; as well as online marketing services such as managing Pay-Per-Click campaigns and so on.

For details, call Mike Beeson MCIPR, on 01565 654023

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The Role of Article PR

Article PR can play an important part in marketing your website and improving its search engine rankings. So what is Article PR?  Some people call it Article Marketing or even Article Submission.  Whatever you call it, Article PR starts with keyword-optimized articles – and that means you’ll need some sharp SEO copywriting.

Make sure your keywords are in the title of your article as well as in the first paragraph and what’s known as the ‘resource box’ at the end of your article which is basically a couple of lines about the author, the author’s business and the business’ URL.

All you do then is submit the article to the various online article directories in the format they require and in no time at all you’ll have generated some valuable inbound links to your website.  Google loves inbound links and they certainly help in the SEO stakes.  Write regular articles and submit them to the directories with Page Ranks of 5 or more and – hey presto! – success. 

 (More to follow on Article PR.)

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Online PR and why it matters

The online PR phenomenon  starts with your news release – optimized to include your targeted keywords, of course.    It is then sent to online publishers and newswires who will distribute your information to the world. 

The most crucial aspect of all this is the inclusion of your website address in the release.  Not only will this drive visitors to your website and maybe increase the chances of making a sale or new business enquiry.  The release will also be taken up by a range of online publishers of news releases, newsletters and even blogs who are always hungry for useful and informative content.

The main benefit to you as the source of the release will be to create inbound links to your website which the search engines value as ‘votes’ for the popularity of your site and which they reward, eventually, with higher search engine rankings.

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Buzzwords’ PR Services

Buzzwords provides online PR and media relations services on a monthly retainer-fee basis, primarily to small and medium-size companies looking for one-to-one business-to-business PR services. 

Much is written about online PR – but many people don’t have a clue what it is.  That’s hardly surprising because not many people understood offline PR when I was busy selling-in Buzzwords’ press relations PR services to companies in Manchester and north-west England throughout the 1980s and 1990s!

Online PR is pretty amazing in its speed, world-wide range and ability to promote both your website and your company.  Best results come from putting out information on a regular basis – and it stays around the web for ages!  It doesn’t have to be world-shattering news as long as it’s relevant to what you’re all about as a business.  It’s also important that the releases are optimized with your favoured keywords.  That’s because  you’re trying to increase inbound links to your website and improve its search engine ranking. 

Of course, you should also use online newswires to distribute your releases – and of course, you’ll have more success with editors if your release is well-written with newsworthy content.  Amid all this, it’s important to remember that the UK has a huge and vibrant offline media which allow for great targeting of information.  Combining this with online PR can produce impressive results.


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Buzzwords’ PR clients

Buzzwords specialises in business-to-business (B2B) PR services for small to medium-size companies (SMEs).   Online PR can be used successfully for companies across all sectors.  Traditional press relations works better for manufacturing companies or those which have a wide range of products or services which are changing regularly.  Historically, the service worked best for those clients where personal contact was easiest ie. within a hundred miles or so of my Manchester base.  Today, geography is less important and Buzzwords combines online PR and offline PR  to great effect.


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