The PR Guru

January 4, 2013

WE ARE RECRUITING!

Happy Friday everyone!

Wanted to finish the first week back on a high and announce that we are looking for one or two people to join the team here at Richard Swancott Associates!

We have two positions to fill – Account Executive and Account Manager.

The Account Executive position would suit someone new to the #PR industry, maybe just out of college and looking to get started, while for the Account Manager vacancy we would need someone with at least three years experience, who can handle campaigns and bring in business themselves.

We would be happy to speak to anyone with a passion for #PR, or any kind of #PR and/or #marketing experience, so if that’s you (or you know someone who’s interested in a career in #PR) please give us a shout on info@richardswancottassociates.co.uk.

Look forward to hearing from you!

Have a great weekend people!

#saysomethingpositive

Richard Swancott Associates provides bespoke PR and social media campaigns for businesses of all sizes and descriptions. Through their partners, they also offer search engine optimisation, email marketing, and telemarketing services.

All campaigns come with money-back guarantees, based on our performance. So if you don’t get a good return on your investment, you don’t pay anything!

For further information, contact Richard Swancott Associates on 01782 472035 or info@richardswancottassociates.co.uk.

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August 6, 2012

GRANT FUNDING FOR PR APPRENTICESHIPS

Filed under: Uncategorized — richardswancott @ 3:29 pm
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I learnt more about the new PR apprenticeships at an event in Birmingham this morning.

They are available from September, and will involve at least 12mths training from PRCA PR pros – one day per fortnight – on subjects like effective writing, use of social media, media liaison (ie pitching ideas to journos), and organising events.

The rest of the time the apprentice will be working with an agency, company, charity or public sector organisation, picking up practical skills and experience of working in the industry.

They will come out of it with a nationally-recognised Level 4 qualification, which is the equivalent of the first year of a degree, while the employer has the benefit of a new Account Executive in the office, at a cost of about £2.65 an hour.

If that were not enough, the Government is fully behind apprenticeships and is providing grants to every company which takes on an apprentice. In some cases they will also cover the training costs – particularly if the apprentice is between 16 and 18 years old. Contact Pearson in Practice for more info: 0845 177 1005 or info@prapprenticeships.com.

We are giving this some serious thought and could be adding to the team very soon! Watch this space!

EDIT: the grants are for £1500 and available through the National Apprenticeship Service. Any company with less than 250 employees can apply. More info here: http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk/News-Media/Latest-News/Article135.aspx

July 6, 2012

FIVE WAYS TO FIND A NEWS-WORTHY STORY IN YOUR BUSINESS

Filed under: Uncategorized — richardswancott @ 4:44 pm
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When it comes to PR, what puts a lot of people off is a perceived lack of good stories within their business.

It’s natural to think your everyday activities aren’t news-worthy, because they are exactly that – everyday activities. Why would anyone be interested in them?

That’s why companies tend to outsource PR – it takes another pair of eyes sometimes to point out that what you consider is everyday is actually unique and would interest the media.

Outsourcing doesn’t suit everyone though, so here are a few handy hints on how to uncover that newsworthy angle.

1. Speak to your staff: you would be surprised how many employers don’t know what their workforce is up to! By that we don’t mean what they’re up to at that specific moment! But if they are doing something for charity, for instance, you could get some publicity on the back of it.

2. Check your history: landmarks make good angles too, so if you’re approaching a significant birthday, or a milestone like your one millionth customer, tell your local editor or producer about it. Or have you broken records for production, or turnover?

3. Watch the news: newspapers and broadcasters have to use topical stories, so if there is something going on nationally which you can offer an alternative viewpoint on, let them know. The more controversial the better! Or can you connect your business with forthcoming events? A strong connection with the Olympics, Diamond Jubilee, or World Cup could generate plenty of column inches for you.

4. Know your industry: as if to reinforce the topical point, if there are any changes in legislation coming up which will affect your industry – for better or worse – or the people who use your services, contact the relevant people.

5. Recent successes: it’s time to shout about successes like winning new contracts and awards – but only if you can develop the story to demonstrate how they’ll affect your business. The media will want to know if you will be recruiting on the back of your contract win, for instance.

There are other options too, such as product launches, or collaborations with other companies (particularly if they are competitors of yours – someone people wouldn’t automatically expect you to work with), but the strongest tend to fall into one of those five categories.

And combining two or three of them will give you an even bigger chance of success. So if you won a contract for the Olympics, which allowed you to recruit more staff and smash your turnover record, you have a great – and potentially page-leading – story on your hands.

Hope that helps!

Richard

 

June 28, 2012

OUR NEW SERVICES (PART ONE)

Filed under: Uncategorized — richardswancott @ 5:00 pm
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A few weeks ago I wrote about the need for PR companies to diversify and offer more services or risk being consigned to the scrap-heap.

With that in mind we’ve been working tirelessly to develop our own service portfolio and provide clear returns on our clients’ investments.

Many of them are connected with traditional PR and have been part of our offering already, but we’ve never said anything official about them:

  • Social media: we will set up and maintain profiles on all relevant social networking sites, but we will go much further than that – we guarantee our work will generate at least 300 unique visits to a customer’s site in the three month period of the campaign. It’s all well and good to build a following and engage with them, but if it doesn’t ultimately have an impact on your business, is it really worth it?
  • Search engine optimisation: we will define the best keywords to use in our SEO campaign, based on what people type in on Google when looking for your products/services, and then write and distribute up to 30 articles in three months to improve your search engine performance. We guarantee your site will feature on page five or above for at least one key search phrase by the end of the campaign.

Alongside that we are now offering much more direct marketing services to complement the softer approach of PR:

  • Email marketing: we will design your newsletter/other email promotion and write the content to ensure you get a response from the campaign. We can use your data, or source it for you. The promotions will be sent to up to 20000 email addresses, with a guaranteed click-through rate based on the size of the database.
  • Telemarketing: we will write a winning script, sourcing data (or using your own), and will continue making calls until we have organised 10 quality appointments, and it doesn’t matter how long it takes us – we’ll keep going until we hit that target.

As ever, our guarantees are all money-back guarantees, so if we don’t perform (and get results quickly) you would be fully entitled to ask for your money back. Thankfully we have never had to write a refund cheque in more than eight years of business (*touches any kind of wood he can find in the office*).

Please feel free to contact us if you’d like more information on these, or any of our other services, which include copy-writing and event management.

We’ll be adding more services too, so pop back soon for more news!

 

May 4, 2012

OUR NEXT PR WORKSHOP: PUBLICITY STUNTS

Filed under: Uncategorized — richardswancott @ 11:12 am
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In the latest instalment of our PR Coaching Programme, we will be discussing the phenomenon of the publicity stunt, also known as ambient marketing, guerrilla marketing and PR stunts.

Our speaker is Richard Grisdale, who’ll be presenting on the stunts he organised during his years with various agencies around the world, including Saatchi & Saatchi.

He’ll be talking about stunts like this, which helped to generate media coverage for an independent furniture store:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And others he put together for brands like Wonderbra and British Airways.

The beauty of a PR stunt is it can generate plenty of coverage for a minimal outlay. And it presents your company as edgy and fun – and most importantly different from your competitors.

If you’d like to hear how a stunt could help you, and get plenty of ideas tailored to your business, come along to Lymedale Business Centre, Newcastle-under-Lyme on May 21st (12-2).

Give us a call on 01782 472035/07880 733138, or info@richardswancottassociates.co.uk with any enquiries.

April 30, 2012

PR COMPANIES MUST DIVERSIFY OR DIE!

Filed under: Uncategorized — richardswancott @ 6:37 pm
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I spotted an article in industry mag AdAge earlier on how more PR companies are turning to media buying – basically using their contacts to secure good advertising deals for their clients – to earn a crust, and it struck a chord with me. It also reminded me of a blog I posted a few weeks ago, on the future of PR.

The PR industry is going to look very different in a few years, as the more traditional methods of raising a client’s profile (i.e. newspapers and magazines) are going to be increasingly thin on the ground. In my opinion though, we can still use our contacts and abilities if we focus on the strength of the story.

That’s why a move into media buying, which is what some PR companies in the US are doing, grates with me slightly. They are crossing over to the dark side and jumping into bed with the advertising departments, which creates a conflict – they are not concentrating on the strength of the story, but on the strength of their dollars.

For me, that takes away the whole reason for doing PR in the first place – to create an interesting story and establish credibility for our clients.

We are diversifying too, but in different ways. We are branching into new media, and offering podcasts, videocasts and live webinars to our clients, promoting them as industry experts and putting the story at the heart of the campaign – because if we don’t have an interesting story, no-one will listen!

And we are building on our market research, SEO and social media offerings, focussing on engagement, driving traffic to our clients’ websites, and protecting their reputations.

This is the way forward for PR. Let’s not start sleeping with the enemy.

April 27, 2012

WHY SHOULD A PR COMPANY HAVE ISO:9001?

Filed under: Uncategorized — richardswancott @ 5:17 pm
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It’s important for PR companies – all companies in fact – to differentiate themselves from the competition.

There are various ways they can do that.

They can demonstrate great results, produce client testimonials, and offer different services, which would all be good reasons to choose them over other PR companies. Or they can offer great money-back guarantees and performance-related payments.

We do all of those things, and while that does give our clients confidence that we know what we’re doing, they are all elements we are in control of, and for that reason arguably have a reduced value.

In the majority of cases, it’s us saying how great we are – which all companies should do, of course. But it’s very easy for us to do that, and if we were inclined to – and we’re not, I hasten to add – we could manipulate that to suit our own interests.

That’s why we’ve gone for the ISO9001 accreditation. We’ve worked very closely with Wayne Pearce at Eaglet Business Systems to put systems in place to demonstrate that we do what we say we’re going to do.

We now have systems in place for record-keeping, accounting, and even purchasing our pens!

But more importantly our PR process – the one we use to deliver our guarantees and generate great media coverage for our clients, which is unique to us (as every PR company’s is, because we all have our own ways of doing things), is down on paper and has been audited by an independent body.

And they will be auditing regularly to make sure we are sticking to our processes.

We have no control over what they say. So the lovely new certificate, which has now taken pride of place on our wall, is someone else’s stamp of approval that we stick to our promises.

And, as far as we know, that is something no other UK PR company has.

So there you are, one more thing which makes us different from other PR companies 🙂

April 12, 2012

THE FUTURE OF PR: IS PR DEAD?

In my quieter moments I often think about the future of public relations and PR companies in general. Sad, I know, but true!

Unfortunately PR has got its claws into me now! It’s something I’m very passionate about, and something I want to still be around in 50+ years time.

The industry is facing a number of challenges at the moment, most notably the increasing competition for marketing spend, and the decline of the traditional media. But our biggest challenge is defining the term ‘public relations’ and showing it’s more than just getting your face in the paper.

This is something we’ve struggled with from Day One, something we’ve never really communicated to the public at large. If we don’t get to the bottom of this, PR could be increasingly marginalised in years to come.

PR needs to be more direct, more measurable.

While newspapers, magazines and other traditional media outlets will continue to downsize or disappear, the proliferation of the web and digital marketing will continue and this offers us an opportunity. It will enable us to generate coverage more quickly, in more titles than before, and have a greater impact on traffic to client websites.

As my colleague Dan Winchester says, we need to embrace search engine optimisation: “SEO is increasingly about building media and blog links, and driving social signals. PR companies are well-placed to be doing this. And getting your client to the top of Google could well be more valuable than conventional coverage.”

We must also develop our offering to communicate directly with our clients’ stakeholders, making greater use of social and new media, email and the good old telephone. Podcasting, viral gaming and film are all concepts we have to consider and add into the mix.

Miki Haines-Sanger, from Golden Goose PR, said: “A large part of our role is to rely on our ability to listen and interact with them in the same way that they talk to one another: through social media and networking. 

“Whether they are spending all their time on websites or forums however, or within family or community groups, people will still consume the news via instant news alerts, radio, tv and publications (print or digital) and we can’t forget that the voices that carry the news – whether it’s citizen journalists, columnists or news readers – need to be informed of relevant and non-commercial messages. 

“That is where PR shows its true value.” 

The beauty of PR is it’s subtlety, but that’s also it’s downfall. We must continue to embrace that, while also providing better value for money for our clients.

The only way we can do that is by continuing to evolve and demonstrating the impact of our campaigns more effectively.

I’ll leave the last word to Dave Morgan: “If you think it’s just about getting coverage in newspapers, then yep, maybe PR is dead because newspapers won’t be around forever.

“If you think it’s about enhancing the reputation of your client then nope, it’s probably not dead as long as there’s still some clients who care about their reputation.”

It’s going to be an interesting few years in the world of PR, that’s for sure.

Thanks to Dan, Miki and Dave for their contributions.

December 9, 2011

TEN WAYS PR CAN HELP YOUR BUSINESS

There are many ways you can promote your business. Ideally they would all be part of your marketing mix, but that’s not always possible – there’s only so much money to go round.

So why should you consider PR, instead of advertising, networking, SEO, telesales, direct mail and the myriad of other options?

Here’s a quick run-down of the 10 biggest reasons:

1. You can bring in more enquiries – PR is a proven lead generator, and the longer your campaign, the more likely you are to bring in enquiries.

2. Media coverage has more impact than adverts – people buy newspapers and magazines, visit websites, listen to the radio and watch the telly not for the ads, but for the information they convey. Few people pay attention to the ads for that reason.

3. Reach the biggest possible audience – with each media title you get into, you are adding their audience to the overall total. In Stoke-on-Trent alone, you could reach more than 230000 potential customers by just getting into one local paper (The Sentinel), one magazine (Staffordshire Life) and one radio station (Radio Stoke).

4. Or target a niche market – alternatively, you can filter your list of target media right down, to reach the people most likely to buy your products/services. For example, if your company supplies adhesives, you can narrow the field down to eight target publications in the UK, with a combined readership of under 50000. It’s a much smaller market but, because they are in your industry, are more likely to buy from you.

5. Spread your investment – because you are getting into lots of different media, you are getting a better return on your investment. If you were to advertise in each one, you’d have to pay for each title you went into. An expensive business. With PR, you would get into the same places for a one-off price, if you’re using an agency – or free if you do it yourself.

6. Become the industry expert – if you become known as the local expert on pensions (for example) through radio phone-ins and/or newspaper columns, people will respect your opinion and will probably look you up when they want some help.

7. Extra credibility – we all crave third party endorsements in business, usually in the form of client testimonials. If someone else says you’re great, it carries more weight than if you say it yourself. With PR, that endorsement is coming from a respected, independent media organisation, like your local paper or industry journal.

8. Improve your reputation – you can use PR to give away information, such as advice on new legislation, and become highly-regarded as you are helping people, rather than selling to them.

9. Approach prospects from different angles – if you are using PR as part of a marketing mix, it improves your chances because people will be hearing about you in many different ways. Your name will stick in their mind.

10. Improve your search engine rankings – you can use press releases to reach page one of Google, by refreshing content, and using keywords and backlinks.

Hope that’s cleared things up a bit for you! There are plenty of resources on this blog and our website should you want to have a go yourself.

Here’s a good place to start – it’s our free e-book on writing press releases.

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: www.cybernautix.co.uk 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!

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