The PR Guru

January 17, 2012


Filed under: Uncategorized — richardswancott @ 6:15 pm
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Hi everyone,

Tomorrow (Wed) there will be a major online protest against some anti-piracy proposals the US Govt is thinking of bringing in.

All English language content on some pretty big sites like Reddit,, and Wikipedia will be shutdown for the day (here’s a list), between 8am and 8pm Eastern Standard Time – or from 3am to 3pm in the UK. As far as we know Facebook will not be part of the protest, as had been claimed.

The issue is sharing content, and two bills heading for Congress on illegal file-sharing – SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act). They would make it a crime to stream copyrighted content on a website without permission.

Not a bad idea, you might think. But some high profile opponents, like Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, believe it would cripple the internet by making them responsible for policing the content of all the sites they link to.

Some sites, they argue, could be blocked by ISPs for sharing music, movies etc. And others, like Google, could be stopped from linking to sites which share files. They claim this could reduce freedom of expression, and leave the door open for internet censorship.

Personally, I don’t really understand their argument. They say they want to help prevent illegal file-sharing, but I don’t see any other way of preventing it than taking down the sites responsible. And I don’t really see how this restricts freedom of speech. The only thing which is restricting freedom of speech is the strike, isn’t it?

Perhaps someone would care to enlighten me?

There’s some more info here for those of you who want to know more:

Wikipedia Blackout, SOPA and PIPA explained, ABC News

Stop Online Piracy Act, Wikipedia

10 big sites that will blackout tomorrow and four possible false alarms, The Wall

Stopped they must be; on this all depends, Reddit



March 11, 2011

10 Reasons to use PR, #5

Over the past few weeks we’ve discussed various reasons for doing your own PR.

Here they are if you need a recap:
1. Spread your marketing investment
2. Gain third party endorsements
3. Become the industry expert
4. Reach the largest possible audience

To follow on from those, we have handed over our blog to a good friend of ours this week – Peter Brough of Cybernautix, the search engine optimisation specialists.

As well as generating coverage in offline media, namely newspapers, magazines and broadcasting, you can also use press releases to improve your online presence. And one of the major benefits of that is the boost it will give to your performance in the search engine rankings.

So reason #5 is this: GET TO THE TOP OF GOOGLE. Take it away Pete!

If you have ever wondered how websites are found easily at the top of search rankings for words associated with their services or products then here’s your answer: Search Engine Optimisation.

Google and other search engines want the most relevant websites at the top to deliver the best experience to their users. The ranking is decided by a sophisticated calculation and SEO aims to understand this and ‘tunes’ a website to get the strongest, and most relevant, result in the algorithm.

It can be distilled down into three distinct areas, all of which are critical to success.

The first, and most important factor is: keywords. These are the terms people are using to search out your services, and must be carefully researched, because although you might know your message very well, it might not exactly correspond to how most people would look for it. Proper keyword research is essential to any SEO activity.

The second stage is to integrate these keywords into your press release. As you will be sending your release to lots of websites, as well as posting it on your own, using your keywords will help you rank highly on Google et al.

Stage three is showing the search engine that you are an important and recognized website by having links from other websites to yours. This is one of the most overlooked phases, yet it is critical to success.

One very good way of creating back links to your website is by writing press releases and submitting them to online PR distribution sites, such as i-newswire, PR Log and PR Fire. In the press release you can usually include a link, or links, back to your website as a point of reference and to improve your ranking you should use sites that do allow links.

The press release should be written naturally so editors will approve your article. It can be made more effective by using headings, and bold and/or italicized writing to emphasize important points (especially those including your keywords).

This works because part of Google’s algorithm is determining the relevancy of text to a link.

If the text is very relevant to the outgoing link then it will have a higher impact. If the link points to a page on your website that is also optimized for that particular keyword then you have the highest relevancy and have created a strong link that will improve your ranking on that keyword.

If you are writing your own press release , make it as interesting and well-written as possible, because journalists monitor press release distribution sites and will often pick up stories from them. It may also be copied around other PR websites, further circulating your link and helping to drive your website up the rankings naturally.

Thanks Pete! For more information on SEO, visit the Cybernautix website: They can help you research the most popular keywords in your field, and build those all-important back links from other sites. And they are also pretty good at web design!

We have commissioned Cybernautix to do our SEO work over the next few months, so keep an eye open for the Richard Swancott Associates website appearing on page one of Google very soon!

February 3, 2011

10 Reasons to use PR, part one

Filed under: Uncategorized — richardswancott @ 1:08 pm
Tags: , , ,

There’s plenty of confusion about what public relations is and what it can do for a business. Most people seem to assume it’s about some Machiavellian character in the shadows, pulling the strings. Or it’s something a big company, local authority or Government department would do.

For that reason PR has a reputation as just being all about spin. While there is some merit in that argument – the aim of a PR campaign is to portray someone/something in a positive light – there is a difference between looking for the positive and massaging the facts/burying bad news, which the Blair/Brown Government was often guilty of.

The fact is, PR can work for any organisation – it doesn’t have to be one in the public sector, or with a massive budget. There are various reasons for this, which I’ll run through over the next few weeks, but first you have to promise me something.

I want you to promise me you won’t be cynical about PR. If you consider PR to be spin, it will not work for you. Keep an open mind, give it a try, and you will get the results you want. There are countless examples and famous endorsements which prove it.

Google and Facebook, for instance, have become massive international brands without spending a penny on advertising (or at least until very recently, in Google’s case). They concentrated on PR and word of mouth to build their reputation. And Google now has enough cash in the bank to pay off the UK’s budget deficit without blinking!

PR could bring you similar success.

Ok, if that was not reason enough to try it, let’s go into a bit more detail.

Here’s reason number one for using PR to promote your business.


Let me explain. Imagine you wanted to promote your business in five different trade magazines, which you have identified as the publications with the biggest circulations, and the best reputation in your industry.

If you were to advertise in all of them, you would have to pay for each magazine you went into. This could cost thousands of pounds – in trade mags the cost of a full page colour ad is usually between £2000 and £3000. So five adverts would, as a conservative estimate, cost you at least £2500.

PR would allow you to get into all of those magazines for free! The only cost involved would be your time, and a few phone calls. So it would save you over £2400, based on our example, which you could spend on other forms of marketing, plough back into the business, or just leave in your bank account.

Not bad eh?! 🙂

And that’s not the only reason! Come back next week for reason number two.

March 7, 2010

Give your business Oscar fever!

The Oscars are just around the corner. The A-listers will be hitting the red carpet at about 1am tonight (our time), and we’ll all be waiting with baited breath to see who will pick up those golden statuettes.

Who will win Best Film? Will it be the bookies’ favourite Avatar, or The Hurt Locker? Or a dark horse like Inglorious Basterds?

Will James Cameron come out on top for Best Director, or will it be his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow?

Best of luck to Colin Firth, Dame Helen Mirren and Carey Mulligan, who represent our best chances of Oscar glory. And Nick Park, of Aardman Animations, who’s up for his fifth Oscar for A Matter of Loaf and Death.

The conventional wisdom suggests whoever wins will get a boost at the box office. While that may not actually be the case, the winners will certainly benefit from hours and pages of media coverage.

And the same is true when it comes to awards for businesses. It’s a great marketing boost because you are getting that third party endorsement we all crave – and not just from anybody, but from someone in authority.

Not just that, it represents a great opportunity to promote your business as award-winners. Your business will get plenty of media coverage for your win, whether that’s in your local press or trade mags (or sometimes both).

Finally, think of the boost to staff morale from winning, or even being nominated. We all love being told we’re doing a great job, but if that comes from someone in authority it gives us a little spring in our step and makes us that little bit more productive.

All this just from spending a couple of hours on your application! It doesn’t even have to cost you anything!

You should give some serious thought to building awards applications into your marketing plan for 2010.

Here are some suggestions of awards you might like to go for:

British Chamber Awards: £50k up for grabs for the overall winners!Categories include Most Promising New Business, Excellence in Customer Service, and The Green Award. As you would expect, only open to Chamber members. Deadline 25th June.

Sentinel Business Awards: just for businesses in North Staffordshire/South Cheshire (The Sentinel‘s catchment area). Categories include Training Excellence, and Business of the Year. Deadline is usually in November. 

Business in the Community Awards: operated in conjunction with the Financial Times, these concentrate on those who have shown ‘innovation, creativity and a sustained commitment to corporate social responsibility’. Some deadlines have passed for this year, but there are still some opportunities left, if you’re quick.

Lord Stafford Awards: covering the West Midlands, East Midlands and East of England, these reward businesses involved with innovation and technology. Deadline 29th April (East Midlands) and 25th June (West Midlands). East of England deadline tbc. 

Switched-On National Awards: categories include Woman in Business with B*lls, Man on a Mission, and Against All Odds. Deadline 18th June.

And there are hundreds of others around the country, or specific to your industry – all you have to do is Google.

Good luck to everyone up for an Oscar tonight, and for any of you going for your own gong in the next year.

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