• How to select the right PR agency for YOU

    Aug 28 • General business, PR Tips & Tricks, PR tips & tricks, Uncategorized • 631 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 • 331 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 • 404 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 • 290 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 • 505 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.



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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 • 488 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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  • Why I’m still sending people Spam after GDPR deadline

    Jun 8 • Uncategorized • 2339 Views

    Greg Posts Spam


    I’m sure like me, you’ve lost count of the emails begging you to remain on various marketing lists over the last couple of weeks leading up to the dreaded GDPR deadline. It annoyed and inspired me in equal measure which is why I have just bought 100 tins of Spam and will be mailing them shortly. More on that later.

    Quite why they had waited so long to clean their database I do not know, as the vast majority of them seem to have never bothered emailing me before. In and amongst the legal waffle, they seemed to be asking me to stay on their marketing list, despite appearing to offer nothing of any value. It was as if out of the blue someone remembered they had a newsletter facility and a tonne of emails and thought it was worth a shot at getting me to opt-in again. For the numbers.

    Now, this would have been a whole lot more likely to happen if they had been emailing me regularly with valuable content. I might have been a lead then, or even a prospect. They should have been able to segment their list into ‘never opens’ ‘sometimes does’ ‘doesn’t engage’ ‘clicks on loads of stuff’ or similar marketing jargon to that effect but I can only imagine that for the vast majority this didn’t happen. Sadly, I suspect even after the frantic May spring clean it STILL won’t happen.

    What a waste of data. Marketers may well be feeling a tad deflated because their email list has shrunk by almost 50 percent or more but this is madness. There is nothing but vanity and ego in jealously guarding the total number of subscribers and seeing that as your metric for success. It matters not a jot if you are bellowing your message out to a stadium full of people if half of them have their headphones on and aren’t listening and another quarter of them didn’t even know they why they were there in the first place. Remember, when it comes to your marketing, size really doesn’t matter.

    So here’s my next marketing move after GDPR, or #GregDoesPR as I prefer it. As you may recall, I emailed you offering you a recipe for Spam or to opt back into my newsletter or both. You might say it was very ‘tongue in cheek’. Sorry. So I’m now going to go old-school marketing and do some direct mail to help grow my list again with new leads.

    That’s right, I’ve actually bought 100 tins of Spam to mail out to some carefully chosen people I would LOVE to work with but who ARE NOT already on my list.

    Why 100? Well, it easily splits into percentages and I can start managing and measuring the success of this next campaign at a glance. Remember folks,100 is NOT the key number here…Will some of these people laugh at me and not with me? Maybe. Will some think I’m an idiot? Perhaps.

    Will some drop me a line to set up a free PR strategy call? You betcha. Will some of these people end up on my newsletter list? Of course. However, you can bet your life it won’t be me putting them on there and hoping they stay. They will put themselves on there because they like my message, my method and my marketing.

    That or they really like Spam.

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  • PR agency celebrates 10th anniversary with launch of copywriting division

    Apr 11 • Uncategorized • 409 Views

    Press For Attention PR, the Nottingham-based B2B PR specialist, is celebrating a decade of hitting the headlines by launching a new copywriting division, to be led by local expert Martin Rockley.

    Rockley has worked as a copywriter for over 30 years with a varied portfolio of blue chip clients in a wide range of B2B sectors, including HSBC, British Gas, Experian, British Canoeing, Boots and Willmott Dixon.

    Press For Attention PR’s clients include Paragon Interiors, Impero Software, Biocity,  In Phase International, NG Chartered Surveyors, Distinct Recruitment and Bygott Biggs.

    Greg Simpson, the founder of Press For Attention PR, a former business journalist and a published author on PR, commented:

    “Press For Attention PR focuses on thought leadership, essentially showcasing our clients’ expertise and with that comes a whole range of possibilities when it comes to content marketing.

    “I’ve worked with Martin in various roles ever since I came to Nottingham around 15 years ago and I’ve always been impressed by his ability to hit the nail on the head when it comes to copy.

    “I look forward to expanding the agency’s offering over the next 10 years which I’m sure will see PR and marketing support continue to evolve as it has always done.”

    Martin Rockley said: “Having worked with Press For Attention PR for a number of years, it’s really exciting to formalise our relationship with the launch of Press For Copy. This will ensure clients have the best of joined-up PR support and marketing messaging.”


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  • 10 of the best – what a decade in the PR trenches has taught me

    Apr 4 • Uncategorized • 1032 Views

    I celebrated my 10th anniversary of business on April 1st. Yes, the date was intentional, after all, who else would try and start a new agency during the crash of 2008?

    I have learned a lot in the last decade that can make a real difference to your PR campaign. You don’t care that my hair is a little greyer but you might care to take a look at the 10 tips I’ve outlined below.

    They are in no particular order but hopefully you will find them useful to help drive your PR campaign this year.

    1.Think win/win/win. That’s right. There’s 3 sides in every story. Your side, your audience’s side AND the media’s side. Make sure everybody gets something out of it.

    2. Think in pictures. Editorial photography is an investment, not a cost. If the photo you provide looks dull, why would the media use it versus a similar story with a better photo?

    3. So what? What changes? Make sure that whatever it is you are communicating makes a difference to the reader, not just your ego.

    4. Beware coffee table coverage. It might look great on the wall or in reception but does the coverage you get actually drive attention from your target market? The Times isn’t the goal for everyone.

    5. Who needs to know this? Make sure you know your target audience and you know that what you are telling them is interesting, entertaining or informative. Why not all three?

    6. What do they NEED to know. Be clear in the message you are trying to convey. Your audience should be able to tell someone next to them what just happened.

    7. Why are you doing this? Do you have a strategic goal for your PR campaign or did you just think it was ‘about time we did something’? Make sure you are clear on your objectives.

    8. Timing is everything. Don’t plan an elaborate PR campaign launch as you are about to go on holiday or if you cannot cope with demand if it suddenly peaks following coverage.

    9. Think like a journalist as well as a marketer. Get in the heads of your target media and see how you can help them to sell more copies or clicks thanks to your useful content.

    10. Don’t give up. It may take you a while to gain some traction with the media but if you follow the rules above, if you play the game so that everyone wins, it will be worth the effort. So here’s to the next 10 years and whatever new challenges they will bring. Maybe I can help you with some of yours.

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  • Spitting image – why Sky benched Carragher

    Mar 14 • Celebrity, Crisis PR, PR tips & tricks, Sport, Thought leadership • 974 Views

    Spitting image – no option for Sky

    As Jamie Carragher is now painfully aware – ‘Believe in better’ is Sky’s slogan.

    It has served them well, especially with the creation of the best punditry partnership on TV, Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville.

    The former foes, legends for their rival clubs, Liverpool and Manchester United respectively, have forged a fantastic partnership based on solid tactical knowledge, a passion for the game and of course, their relentless rivalry and ribbing of one another.  

    It is classic ‘bants’, a laddish atmosphere that genuinely adds to the spectacle – if you like football anyway.

    Carragher’s behaviour, however provoked he was by the oik driving alongside him, cannot be dismissed so easily. There is something utterly disgusting about spitting. I see it in the street a lot, mainly young men, absentmindedly spitting as they cross the road or just standing around looking vacant, drooling in onto the pavement.

    It is pretty grim at that level but to spit AT someone. Utterly vile.

    Now, I highly doubt Jamie intended to spit at a 14 year old girl. It was a reaction, plain and simple. Disgusting but not a measured assault. However, as a man in the public eye with an employer that is focused on family entertainment, it was always going to be judged to a higher and harsher standard.

    He has actually been superb in terms of his PR crisis management, admitting guilt, being contrite, being proactive in all of these apologies and even pleading on social media for the family to be left alone. He has called it ‘a huge mistake in a moment of madness’ and it truly was.

    He has now paid for it. Sky have just announced he will be suspended until the end of the football season.

    A statement from Sky said: “Following an internal review, Sky has suspended Jamie Carragher for the remainder of the football season.

    “Jamie has taken full responsibility for what has happened and we will ensure he gets the help he needs to guarantee something like this never happens again.

    “Before the start of the next season we will sit down with Jamie to discuss whether he is ready to return to his role.”

    To be fair to Sky, I cannot see what else they could have done.

    If it had been anyone else, a newsreader for example, they would have done the same. The fact that it is one of their best and highest profile pundits means it will hit them hard but with a slogan of ‘Believe in Better’, you have to walk the walk.

    PS – I’ll be interested to see if any bold broadcaster selects him to be on their World Cup team.

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