• SEO v PR v Advertising v The Times – how NOT to win at media relations

    Nov 14 • General business, Other, PR Tips & Tricks, PR tips & tricks, Uncategorized • 62 Views

     
    The battle for hearts, minds and marketing budgets rages. Can’t we all just get along?
     
    The answer of course is YES, if you integrate these specialisms they wield HUGE power for the marketing arsenal.
     
    However, as with all weapons, they are dangerous in some hands.
     
    Especially if you throw social media into the mix….
     
    Can we get a backlink? A question I get asked by an increasing number of clients and understandably so. It is easy to measure and what gets measured, gets managed. 
     
    However, there is a reason why I never make promises about these slippery little links and it is this…it can REALLY RUIN all the hard work of getting them on board with you in the first place.
     
    Check out the Twitter storm that raged last week when an SEO ‘guru’ and folk on his side of the debate kept on at Deidre Hipwell, the Retail and Mergers and Acquisitions Editor of The Times.
     
    Read it, look at the impact short and long term and think about how carefully you need to play this game.

    Hipwell pointed out that a journalist’s role isn’t to market the companies they report about and the aim of a news article is to provide readers with all of the information they require without linking to external sources.

    As the Twitter war raged on, people rightly asked where it all ends because if you do it once, you have to do it for all or face accusations of bias.
     
     
    There is also the concern that links AWAY from the website might jeapordise the commercial model of the media – look at how good Facebook is at keeping you on their platform as you surf about merrily. 
     
    Now, I could argue that if the article needs MORE info, that can be provided by a link to a specific page on the client’s website that ADDS VALUE but don’t start asking for or even demanding hyperlinks just because it suits your marketing objectives.
     
    Good PR and media relations requires a delicate balance and a win/win mentality between the client and the media. That’s why PR experts are the people who should make these pitches to the press. They think Win/Win/Win.
     
    I’m not saying an SEO expert shouldn’t contact them but if they do, they should wear a PR hat when they do it. There’s no point in getting close to a great piece of coverage and doing all that hard work just to scupper by annoying a journalist.
     
    Also, how would you rate your chances of ever getting coverage from her/him again?
     
    My tip is that there is no one size fits all when it comes to media relations and the preferences of journalists. 
     
    Some like a phone call, some hate it. 
    Some encourage a pitch via Twitter, some will find it incredibly rude. 
    Linkedin can be a great place to start for some but not for all.
     

    Bottom line is it is all about horses for courses so be flexible and be strategic. PR is a long-term game, don’t lose goodwill over the loss of a link. 

     
    Happy Headlines
     
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  • Has the Poppy Lost Its Appeal?

    Nov 6 • Other, Politics, Uncategorized • 80 Views

     

    Attention seekers hijacking a symbol to push their own agenda’?

    That was the opinion of Tory MP Johnny Mercer in the Telegraph earlier in October but not about the red poppy, this was about the white poppy.

    Some might argue the same could be said about ‘attention seeking’ for anyone wearing any poppy or badge. The point is to draw attention to a cause.

    I might add, I often wear charity-related pins and will be wearing the red poppy myself.

    ‘Hijacking’ though, that’s another story.

    As with many things, especially with regards to public relations, it comes down to perception and the wider narrative. The more traditional red poppies began being used as a symbol in 1921 to help to remember those who fought in war.

    The flower was chosen because it grows wild in many fields where some of the deadliest battles of World War One took place.

    Mr Mercer is a former soldier and appears to have taken exception to the white poppy, which ‘represents all war casualties, regardless of alliance’.

    They are endorsed and distributed by the Peace Pledge Union (PPU) but according to Mr Mercer they are “attention-seeking rubbish” and he has called for people to “ignore” those wearing them.

    Watching the breakfast news last week I noticed that all of the presenters and guests were wearing their poppies. I tend to watch Sky News in the morning as I prefer it for the business briefings versus the more light-hearted BBC offering. However, on switching over at the time I did have not see one of the BBC presenters wearing one.

    Interesting.

    Was this a calculated move by Sky? Was it a calculated move by the BBC? Perhaps it is a fluke that I looked at this at 8.30am and by 10am I would have seen a few Sky reporters sans poppy or even with a white poppy. Meanwhile by midday the entire crew on the BBC might well have been bedecked in red.

    By the way, on flicking on the news channels right now on November 6th, EVERYONE is wearing a poppy and they are all red.

    I mention this because a few years back, the brilliant Jon Snow over on Channel 4 described the backlash against him and others for not wearing one on air as a wave of ‘poppy facism’ – a highly charged choice of phrasing but an interesting one.

    The PPU sells circa 100,000 white poppies a year and has reported that they may well exceed their record this year. Meanwhile, this year is the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1 and the British Legion expect to sell 40m.

    In the run up to Remembrance Day, I will work on at least 10 stories that picture clients, most of which will be using fresh photography for each story. Will I tell them to wear a poppy? No way.

    Will I worry if they don’t? No, unless they wanted to and forgot it. It is their choice and either wearing one or not wearing one should not be part of the story unless that IS the story.

    I have no doubt that for some, on both sides of the debate, wearing one or not will be the story. However, the fact that we can have the debate at all is what I will focus on.

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  • Linkedin – how NOT to win friends and influence people

    Oct 11 • Uncategorized • 170 Views

     

    At the time of writing, my original post on this issue has received over 7,000 views and over 30 comments so it appears to be resonating with many people.

    What could possibly have vexed me so much and wound up so many others too?

    Well, it was a pitch, over social media. A REALLY bad pitch. 

    TWICE.

    I’d just had two ‘professional’ marketers ask to connect with me on Linkedin with standard intros – lazy. Then, IMMEDIATELY after I connected, they pitched me on Linkedin messenger with a standard copy and paste message. 

     Someone had clearly been on a training course. A bad one at that. So what went wrong?

    • Firstly, the etiquette is poor. I am not a HOT lead to be jumped on just because I accepted a request to connect.
    • Secondly, if you were that good, you wouldn’t pitch me within seconds with a standard message.
    • Thirdly, I now think less of the businesses these two ‘experts’ represent.

    It is so tempting to look at LinkedIn as a source of leads and it can be brilliant but you need to earn the right to pitch your offering before you do. 

    Treat it like you would meeting someone in person. Unless you do it that way too when you network in real life, in which case, good luck.

    Imagine a crowded room at a traditional networking event. You spot a group of people chatting away who you believe you might have things in common with or who you could learn from or help. If you were really good at this, you would have done some background research ahead of the event. 

    Now, you make your way to them, probably balancing a paper plate of dodgy sandwiches in one hand and a cup of coffee with a saucer in the other. 

    Top tip 1 – don’t bother with the saucer and extra teaspoon. 

    Top tip 2 – don’t have food in your hand..or worse still, your mouth. 

    Now, hopefully, you would be LISTENING to the group chat before you barged in, frantically waving your business card and waffling about your Value Proposition. 

    Hopefully. 

     Now you know what the conversation is, you might nod sagely at a few comments and smile at another observation. You will probably have been noticed and eased into the gathering by now. You might be able to add value to the conversation yourself. Go for it. 

    Just don’t pitch. 

    That is how you should look at social media. Treat it like a real party. Don’t just fling virtual business cards across the room. Join in. PS you can connect with me HERE on Linkedin, just a tip, don’t pitch me. YET.

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  • Just say NO – a marketing lesson from the kids of Grange Hill

    Oct 3 • Uncategorized • 269 Views

     
    Despite working in PR, I am not a YES man. 
     
    I’ve said YES to Richard Branson and James Caan as you surely know by now but I’ve also said NO to many more, including Colonel Gaddafi.
     
    OK, the kids from Grange Hill had the serious message of drug abuse to tackle, whilst I was checking my moral compass but at times we are all a little guilty of being too afraid to say no, especially when it comes to new clients or leads.
     
    I had an email this week, out of the blue, asking for PR support. This is not that unusual but the timing was rather last minute and what they wanted isn’t really what we do.
     
    In fact, it isn’t at all what we do. 
     
    They needed help publicising a local glamorous event.
     
    Now, that isn’t the fault of the prospect, they had been advised to get in touch with me by another agency, which was rather nice of them. Thanks.
     
    I knew that we could probably help, IF we had more time but I also knew that we were not the BEST FIT for them even if we did. 
     
    We would have done a good job but not a GREAT one by our standards and that isn’t what I want or what my prospect needed.
     
    Confession
     
    10 years ago, when I first set up Press For Attention PR I would probably have said YES. I would have found a way to find the time and resource to help in any way I could because frankly, I wanted the business. 
     
    Actually, that’s not true. Frankly, I wanted the money.
     
    Not all about the money
     
    Herein lies the difference and why I always refer to Marketing and Sales NOT Sales and Marketing.
     
    Marketing is positioning your offering to the right people. Sales is converting the lead. However, if the lead isn’t a good fit, you need to stop thinking about it as a lead.
     
    You need to be known for your speciality. Your niche. Then you can market accordingly and sell better solutions to that market.
     
    It is always tempting to stray a little but my advice is, just say no kids.
     
    Oh and for the record, here’s what we do BRILLIANTLY – we help experts get known for what they know. 
     
    If that is you, get in touch. For more free PR Tips and Tricks click HERE.
     

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  • How to select the right PR agency for YOU

    Aug 28 • General business, PR Tips & Tricks, PR tips & tricks, Uncategorized • 389 Views

     

    Some fundamental things apply when selecting a PR agency and it is not all about who walks in through the door on pitch day – firstly take a look at yourself.

    Why do you want external support and what do you want to achieve? Will the agency be an extension of your own efforts to date and a part of your wider marketing team, or a gun for hire, starting from scratch?

    What budget do you have and what do you want the PR agency to help you with? Is it going to run the whole campaign or a mini-campaign for a key audience? What are your objectives?

    If the PR campaign is going to deliver results, you need to be a team and you will need to get on. Chemistry and trust are important; you are going to be sharing a lot of information, much of which may be confidential. 

    Before you see a pitch, invite agencies over for a coffee, or do it at their place to get a feel for the working culture.

    So, coffee time, mmm, cosy but don’t get too comfortable, get a feel for the agency. Who will actually be doing the work – the charmer in front of you, or someone mysteriously left back at the office? 

    What relevant experience does the agency have? A great consumer agency may get you tabloid coverage but could struggle with the acquisition deal looming on the horizon. Ask to see testimonials and campaigns for similar clients and budgets.

    With regards the agency, are notes being taken? Are intelligent, probing questions being asked? Anyone can do a bit of Google research the day before a credentials meeting, not everyone can provide intelligent consultancy.

    Cosy credentials meetings over, invite a few back to pitch to your brief. This is essential. Define your objectives – target media, key messages, or just a “wish list” and don’t be afraid to give a ball-park budget. This helps to ensure an appropriate and realistic response. If you aren’t sure, ask for different approaches tailored to different budgets.

    Beware the lurking extras

    Ask the agencies to explain exactly how they work. Are they going to be proactive or sitting back waiting for your call? Are there any other extras lurking in the undergrowth such as evaluation and coverage reports? Compare apples with apples.

    How important will your “account” be? Too desperate – they might be losing accounts, too casual – you may not get the attention you deserve. Also, ask about staff turnover, the industry is in constant flux, will your team be too?

    Finally, once you have recruited, be realistic. PR campaigns often simmer gently for a couple of months. If you can, try to evaluate the campaign at three and six months intervals – your agency should be doing this anyway.

    By then you will both know what works and what doesn’t and will be able to plot a new path together…or not.

    Happy hunting.

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  • Before you pack your holiday suitcase, don’t forget this

    Aug 1 • PR Tips & Tricks, PR tips & tricks, Uncategorized • 131 Views

     

     

    About to issue news before you head away on holiday? STOP!

    Someone once said…”80 % of success is showing up”. 

    OK, he also said “change is death” but if you are guilty of this PR crime, you need to change or your campaign will die. 

    You see, PR is all about timing and right now, you might be about to commit a cardinal PR sin…

    Imagine you’ve just spent the best part of a month planning to announce some news. It could be a new product, a new hire or a company milestone.  

    You’ve drafted and approved the press release and hopefully invested in some photography to really bring the story to life (if not, read this NOW). Now, let’s hope you have either called your key press targets or, if you have a PR agency or consultant on board, they have done it for you. 

    All being well, with a strong story and good images, you should be getting one of three results: 

    • Press love it and publish it ASAP. If so, thank them and start leveraging the valuable content. Tweet it, blog about it. Send an e-shot to your database. 
    • Press like it but will put it on the back-burner for a day/week due to deadlines or another feature that will be boosted by your news hook.
    • Press love it but need some extra info. Perhaps another quote from the MD in light of other breaking news in your sector which chimes nicely with your story. They might want to take their own picture – this does happen. 

    No problem you say…but wait…the MD is away for the summer break. There’s no way we can contact her for a quote as she’s unreachable. A picture is out of the question. 

    You might say these things can’t be helped…but they can. It is all about your timing of the release. Work with the information you have. 

    If the press call you out of the blue for an opinion and your MD is away then that can’t be helped (still try though) but when you are the proactive party, you know the limits and timings. 

    So, whatever you do, next time you have a story to get out…please make sure you can add further comment or play ball with press requests.  

    If you can’t, wait until the timing is better. PR is a long-term game.

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  • Scapegoat 0,Waistcoat ‘WON’ – football’s coming home

    Jul 12 • Celebrity, Inspiration, Other, Sport • 232 Views

     
    Has anyone seen a scapegoat? I’m sure we left it somewhere around here.
     
    There must be someone to blame, to rant against. Even a small burning effigy would do. 
     
    But no, not this time. The man who missed in ’96, the chap with the bag on his head in the Pizza Hut advert will return a hero, boosting waistcoat sales for M&S in the process. 

    Yes, that’s right, Marks and Spencer revealed on the eve of our biggest game for decades that sales of ‘Gareth Southgate style waistcoats’ doubled since the start of the World Cup.

    Searches for waistcoats on the M&S website have increased by over 100 per cent. It even spawned #waistcoatwednesday with M&S cleverly leveraging the opportunity for maximum effect.
     
    No, I didn’t wear one. Sorry.
     
    Now, the fact that ‘Gareth Southgate’ and ‘style’ are even in the same sentence would have seemed ludicrous weeks ago, let alone back in 1996. However, it shows just how far he and his unique brand have come in terms of PR.
     
    He’s rebuilt his career since that penalty nadir slowly but surely. Carefully, making small moves, correct moves, patiently. It has been a wonderfully orchestrated set-piece. 
     
    Sound familiar?
     
    His relationship with the media, for now at least, has been excellent and that is a major part of this story. He has sheltered players, defended players, given genuine insight and not been afraid to admit failure or indeed excitement.
     
    He and the England team have been a breath of fresh air.
     
    We may not have won, we may have fallen at the same stage as Gareth did back in 1996 but this time, there are no harsh words. There is no backlash. 
     
    Our lions have a renewed pride and nobody has paid the penalty.

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  • When it comes to flexible working, great PR is in the bag

    Jul 9 • Other, PR Tips & Tricks, PR tips & tricks, Uncategorized • 135 Views

    Think PR is all glamour? Think again. At approximately 7.30am I was mid-swim after my Monday guilt-assuaging workout when I noticed two strange black bags floating towards me. Small, black bags. My instant reaction was disgust, why wasn’t the pool cleaned first thing?

    Then slowly it dawned on me, they were MY bags.

    Or to be more accurate, my dog’s.

    I think we all know what I mean by that. Mercifully they were empty and had fallen out of my shorts after being stowed there yesterday. I bring this up not to make you bring anything up, (sorry to any queasy folk) but because I’ve just got back from walking said hound and my phone went mid-walk. It was a client and in my line of work this is often urgent.

    I didn’t want to ignore it but I didn’t want to sound distracted either, let along breathless on yet another balmy day in the UK.

    So I went for the honest approach; ‘Morning. I’m not going to lie, I’m in the park with the dog but if I can help you right now I will. I’ll just find a bench.’ Now, my client also LOVES dogs and we spent the next 5 minutes or so chatting about his until we got back to the point in hand.

    Cue the irony music…(no Alanis, cutlery problems are not ironic) my client wanted to talk about flexible working. They are doing some great things around supporting their employees and he wanted to discuss how we might leverage it. We chatted for a good 15 minutes, came up with a plan and now I am back in the office about to work it up for them.

    The dog is asleep on my feet. This didn’t take place in a trendy PR office, replete with ping-pong tables, beer fridges and uni-cycling ‘creatives’. Nor did it take place in their boardroom during the token hour-long meeting most folk seem wedded to.

    It came in the park, at no notice, with a dog in one hand, a phone in the other and of course, some small black bags in my pocket. I have a new angle for my client, they have a great opportunity to position themselves as a forward-thinking firm with a great organisational culture and crucially, Blue got his walkies even though I was ‘busy’.

    Take a look at how flexible your working culture is. If you embrace it, shout about it. It conveys great messages about your brand. If you don’t, consider whether it is holding you back from attracting clients and top talent.

    Take care my flexible friends and happy headlines.

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  • Why your charitable efforts get ignored by the media

    Jun 28 • Charity, General business • 295 Views

    Forever Stars – these guys raised more than £1000 an hour last month

    Businesses are increasingly realising that Corporate Social Responsibility, or ‘CSR’ for short, can be a major asset when it comes to positioning positive public relations for their brand.

    There are various elements they can weave into their marketing mix around sustainability and ethical practice but the classic tactic that is normally the easiest to implement centres around supporting a charity.

    It is laudable and often a cause close to the heart of the business owner or the wider team and can make a major impact, especially on smaller local charities. However, people often ask me why their efforts are ‘ignored’ by the media.

    Let me explain why this might happen.

    I represent two charities, Forever Stars and Groundwork Greater Nottingham. In order to get their message out I do something that may sound somewhat counterintuitive…

    It’s not about YOU

    I don’t talk about them.

    Actually, let me more precise here, I don’t FOCUS on them as the story. It is a tactic I use for many of my professional services clients too.

    The story is rarely about them, it is about who they are advising.

    Consider this with a charity. The story is not about the charity, it is about who they are helping.

    You need to find the human element in your story. Or indeed the animal but you get my drift.

    You are Spielberg NOT Cruise – tell the story

    Far too many charity angles begin with ‘Acme Corp, which is committed to XYZ causes and sustainable business jargon has raised some funds for Laudable Cause’.

    This is well-intentioned BUT it is focusing on the ‘good egg’ factor too much. Instead, it should be ‘Laudable Cause receives funding boost thanks to Acme Corp’.

    Then we tend to hear all about Acme Corp but very little about Laudable Cause. This is where it all falls down. The story needs to focus on the beneficiaries and how their life changes, not tick marketing message and CSR boxes.

    I cannot possibly go into each and every case here but here’s some more hints and tips as to why your charitable efforts may not be making headlines. 

    1. The cause is not local and you are pitching to local media.
    2. The story is too focused on you
    3. The picture is utterly uninspiring
    4. The amount raised is nothing to really write home about, however hard you all worked
    5. You haven’t explained what difference it will make
    6. The charity isn’t quoted or in the photo

    There’s 6 top tips for you but I will leave the 7th to Sam Metcalf, a frequent panelist on my ‘Meet The Journalist’ event I hold each year. You can read more about that here.

    ‘I don’t want to sound like a complete misanthrope, but if you’re a multinational company then sending me a press release saying you’ve raised £200 for charity is, at best, pretty embarrassing – and at worst actively makes me slightly angry for a few seconds. Charity stories seem wildly popular because of the growing importance of CSR, and I get this, but think for a second; is raising £200 going to look good when the photo of you handing the comedy cheque over is taken in front of your new sports car parked outside your swanky offices?’

    Harsh but fair but context is everything.

    I hope that helps.

    If you want to ensure your charitable efforts hit the headlines, give me a bell and I’ll do what I can to point you in the right direction.

    SaveSave

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  • Why the magic bullet theory isn’t just JFK’s problem

    Jun 22 • General business, Inspiration, PR Tips & Tricks, PR tips & tricks • 218 Views

    Peace, love, gun law design concept

    You know the old saying about taking a horse to water?

    Well, it is the same with PR and Marketing. It doesn’t matter how wonderful your branding, goodwill, reputation and market position is if you do not make it EASY for people to engage with you and buy from you.

    PR and Marketing are not magic bullets

    I recently won a new client, a major international business with an office here in Nottingham. Go me!

    It was down to a combination of tactics; articles, social media engagement, authority building, events, my reputation, free downloads and all manner of useful tips and tricks.

    However, there was another key factor that was at play here…

    Now stay with me people because this is GENIUS.

    1. I answered a message on Linkedin and was helpful

    2. I followed up with a PHONE CALL to chat through an issue.

    3. And then, in a move of marketing genius that would make PT Barnum feel woefully inadequate, I went to go and see them.

    That’s right folks, I booked a meeting with them.

    Even better, I only went and turned up. As arranged. On time.

    Now, this may seem all too simple and guess what, it was.

    However, it seems not everyone gets this.

    I know for a fact that two competitors were also in the frame for the work but due to a cunning combination of bureaucracy, faffing about and tripping over their own marketing feet, they managed to fail to engage or to even arrange a meeting…

    How do I know this? Well, my new client told me.

    Someone from one of them is probably reading this right now. Hi there.

    Now, this is not to gloat. This is a warning.

    If expert strategic marketing folk like me and my industry rivals cannot untangle their processes for long enough to say ‘hello, we can help, let’s grab a coffee’ then it might well be happening in your business.

    So take a look at your sales process and check that it works in tandem with your marketing magic bullets. There is little point in creating awareness and demand on one hand if the other hand is firmly wedged under one’s derriere.

    Make it easy for people to buy from you and guess what, they just might.

    PS you can book a call with me to see if I can help you. See what I did there.

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