• There’s a Hole in Your Bucket Dear Liza

    Jan 16 • General business, Other • 128 Views

    OK, so you’re not Liza BUT I’m about to save you a fortune on wasted marketing anyway.

    All you need to do is find the holes in your bucket which sounds simple but after a number of similar different experiences in the last month, maybe it isn’t.

    In the last month I have sourced quotes for a bathroom tiling project along with many other bits and bobs.

    My wife and I scoured Trusted Trader, found some good reviews and asked for quotes. Two different people got back to us. Great marketing.

    However, neither of them showed up.

    What a waste of time, effort and marketing investment.

    They’ve got zero chance of being asked to quote again and if a friend asked me for a recommendation I would tell them to run a mile. They had Facebook pages, not great but they were there.

    We checked them. Again, that effort is totally wasted but they can’t blame their marketing for that.

    Eventually we went old school and I checked the local Post Office window. We were in luck. I dropped a text to the chap and then and he replied immediately, even offering to come over there and then. On a Saturday.

    Talk about impressed.

    We arranged to meet on Monday. He was 10 minutes late which did worry me as he didn’t warn me of this which would have been courteous, never mind sensible for a trader seeking to quote for a job.

    Anyway, he arrived and was very polite and professional. He even gave me ideas on how to save money rather than waste it. There’s a theme here folks.

    We agreed to a schedule just after Christmas which was even more impressive, especially as he said he was starting a corporate job in the new year so wanted to get this done and dusted for us pronto.

    Altogether now…’Oh it’s all gone quiet over there.’

    Then it went a bit quiet.

    Very quiet.

    I chased him to check he was STILL coming over the next day. Silence and then…an excuse about family illness and that no, he couldn’t make it.

    That’s fine. We’ve all been there and it is awful. I asked him for when he could pop over, it was only a day’s work according to him.

    Silence again.

    Well, it turns out he couldn’t make it at all and that he was starting his new job soon so he can’t do it now but he does have a mate who might be able to help.

    If you think I was going to call his mate who ‘might’ be able to help you’d be wrong. I associate his mate with him and his professionalism, or lack thereof.

    These things happen but all he had to do was to tell me proactively. Then I’d have been tempted to call his mate IF he had already set it up for me, which would have made sense.

    ‘Sorry Greg, I can’t but Gary is a specialist and I’ve briefed him. Same cost and he’s available to help you’.

    I didn’t reply.

    I have since gone out to a national outfit who have bigger marketing pockets and better systems. They actually paid NOTHING to get my work other than the investment in their branding over the years.

    What a wasted opportunity for the local tradesman.

    Now, just think to yourself before you invest in an awareness campaign, do you want the leads it might bring? Do you have capacity? Do you have the skills?

    If you can’t, it is no problem at all. You can tweak your marketing message to make sure it fits your skills or hold back on your campaign until you can do the work.

    Just don’t blame your marketing campaign if you don’t convert open goals and don’t pour marketing budgets into leaking buckets.

    Fix the holes first dear Henry.

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  • Tight swimming trunks and goal setting – let’s be brief

    Dec 19 • Uncategorized • 268 Views

     
    I am a member of a well known health club, which, due to its location, tends to include a fair few famous faces – typically footballers and cricketers but also a former undisputed super middle weight boxing champion.
     
    He’s getting very good at tennis and has a volley with real venom.
     
    This is because he’s decided he wants to be good at tennis and he practices. 
     
    A lot.
     
    Now, I was in the gym yesterday doing some ‘on the business’ work, reflecting on the year and working out how I can be just that bit better again next year in my business and personal life.
     
    I do this every quarter, examining current goals and setting new ones, bite-sized markers that help me to my bigger picture. This stuff really doesn’t work that well if you just do it on December 31st after a few too many sherries.
     
    Anyway, this former champion was preparing to go onto court as I was setting my fitness and health goals and these include swimming.
     
    There’s no time like the present I reasoned so I headed off to buy some snazzy new swimming shorts. New gear and gadgets always motivate me.
     
    The problem was, the only shorts available were, well…a little ‘ambitious’ size wise. They were the shorts I should be wearing AFTER I have been swimming for about a month.
     
    Maybe 2 months.
     
    Here was a lovely excuse to not bother with the idea and put off the fitness goal for another day. Start in January, once I’m totally ready, with the correct shorts.
     
    But I didn’t do that. I bought the shorts and went for a swim.
     
    They weren’t THAT bad size wise, a bit of breath holding along the poolside catwalk would see me safely under the water with nobody any the wiser.
     
    They were however pinching a tad and I knew I was pushing it a bit.
     
    But that’s the point with goals. They are very easy to put off, to make too easy, to vaguely promise to start working towards in January once you’ve got everything perfect.
     
    They are also far easier to attain if you have a visual cue, whether that’s a picture on the fridge, a sales brochure of a car or a house or some shorts that make you think twice about ordering pizza this evening.
     
    Or ever again.
     
    So as you reflect on 2018 and plan ahead for 2019, whether your goals are business related such as getting more press coverage (call Greg) or personal such as health and fitness, don’t be afraid if they pinch a bit.
     
    Don’t put them off either. In fact, don’t wait until you get back in January, get a head start now. 
     
    In 2019, think a little bit big bigger, be a little bit bolder. 
     
    There’s a reason they call them ‘stretch goals’ you know.

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  • ‘Cause you’ve got personality, Walk with personality…Talk, with personality.

    Dec 7 • Uncategorized • 173 Views

    Or do you? Are you just a little guilty of playing it too safe in your marketing?

    You know by now I don’t like the John Lewis advert. I also cannot abide most musicals. 

    However, I do LOVE the range of ads out this Christmas that aren’t afraid to be a bit cheeky. To stand out. To show their personality.

    As marketers and business owners we can learn a lot from these campaigns. Granted, it is horses for courses, I wouldn’t expect John Lewis to start parodying merrily, anymore than I’d expect to see Aldi spending mega bucks on something flashy but it does show where a sense of humour can come into play to great effect with your marketing. 

    Even John Lewis themselves have seen the funny side and joined in to show they are are good sports, which is of course is on brand for them.

    I think there is a huge opportunity for smaller businesses to inject a bit more personality into their PR. 

    I primarily work with experts. I help them to show what they know. 

    The problem is, it is all too easy to fall into the trap of playing it too safe with your messaging and your tone. It is absolutely fine if that is your market and your market responds well to this but I can guarantee that it drives editors up the wall when they receive expert comment on a key topic and they all sound the same.

    This means they will probably not get used – it is just noise.

    That may be because they have been filtered through the marketing teams and then onto someone with good intentions of brand value protection but there is a balance to be had between playing it safe and frankly, being boring. The latter rarely make much headway in PR terms if they are competing with bigger brands for the same market with the same message and the same method.

    A sense of humour helps you stand out. Don’t be afraid to try it when appropriate. This is from a man who sent 100 tins of Spam in the mail as part of a GDPR marketing campaign and as Elton said….I’m still standing.

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  • More than a Lidl bit funny

    Nov 21 • Crisis PR, General business, Uncategorized • 268 Views

     
    I’ll admit this right from the start, I don’t really like the John Lewis ad. 
     
    I am clearly soulless.
     
    Actually, it is great, it is warm, it is emotive but it’s just too ‘commercial’ for me, which sounds odd for an advert but it feels too much like a plug for Elton’s farewell tour. 
     
    Although it appears Sainsbury’s knows a thing or two about plugs too.
     
     
    That said, I’ve already been in to buy a very expensive wreath for my front door so it hasn’t damaged my relationship with them.
     
    However, what Lidl did in response with their #EltonJohnLewis parody was so utterly brilliant that it HAS started a relationship with them, from pretty much nowhere on my radar. The brands are poles apart but it just shows what can be done with a bit of fun, creativity and most of all, speed. 
     
    The ‘Lidl bit funny’ parody now ranks just ahead of my favourite social media campaign of the year, just pipping KFC’s ‘We’re sorry’ tweet during the great chicken crisis of February 2018.
     
     
    There’s clearly something in the water this year as all of the big brands are getting in on it, ‘hijacking’ one another’s campaigns and riding on the exposure of their rivals.
     
    It is superbly conceived and must be driving media buyers in marketing teams and agencies mad but you’ve gotta love it.
     
    The question is, will it shift your brand loyalty, even if it is just a one percent rise in your approval or awareness?
     
    After all the fairy dust has settled, that is what will win the day for the marketing teams.
     
     

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  • 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 • 200 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 • 220 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 • 360 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 • 439 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 • 557 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 • 258 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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