Creating membership magic: tactics for Toastmasters

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3pm Friday 11 November, 2016, Dubhlinn D71 Toastmasters Conference

Is your club struggling to build membership? Do you have a hard time getting visitors to come along? Do visitors come to your club, but not become members?

This workshop will give you the tips and tricks you need to attract visitors to your club and convert them to members. Laura Bruce, President of Inverness Toastmasters, will share her story of how her club went from only 7 paid-up members in April 2015, to 27 members just 18 months later.

She will share her ACE Formula ™ — a suite of online and offline tools that she used as VP Membership to attract  and engage visitors, and convert those visitors into Toastmasters. She will also share her expertise as founder of Bruce Public Relations to show how the humble media release can be a powerful tool to raise the profile of your club.

Who will benefit from this workshop?

Any one with a club that is struggling with low member numbers. Any club that attracts visitors but hasn’t been successful in converting them to members. Any club that is facing extinction.

Special relevance to: VPs Membership, VPs PR, Presidents, Area and Division Directors

Come along and learn how to put the ACE Formula ™ to work creating membership magic for  your club!

For more information: http://www.dubhlinn2016.com/laura-bruce

If you would like a copy of the slides, click here. 

Our 10th anniversary wasn’t what I expected

The 10th anniversary of Bruce Public Relations wasn’t quite what I had expected. Principally because it landed smack dab in the middle of one of the most hectic periods we’ve had. There’s “hectic” harassed and stressed, and then there’s “hectic” huge sense of accomplishment and pride. I am delighted to say, this was the latter.tedx-generic-image

First time on stage doing comedy -- what a thrill! Thank you Comedy Bothy and Hootenanny's!

First time on stage doing comedy — what a thrill! Thank you Comedy Bothy and Hootenanny’s!

On 7th October, I made my stand-up comedy debut at Mad Hatters above the famous Hootenanny’s in Inverness, and the following week, on our actual anniversary, I gave my first TEDx talk, at TEDx Inverness at Eden Court. I don’t think I have been that busy since we celebrated the opening of the Welland Canal and christened a new ship for Canada Steamship Lines — on the same day!

I got an incredible kick out of the stand-up comedy, and was thrilled when I was not only rebooked for December, but approached by another venue! And the TEDx talk? Well, that was an incredibly poignant and moving occasion.

What these events and the anniversary have made me realise is that the things that use to seem insurmountable, can soon become quite manageable. But I also realised something else.

I was approached afterwards by two women, both of who had to chase after me as I raced out of Eden Court desperate to get a bite to eat. Each one told me that my talk, “When we procrastinate, we can’t be great”, had made them cry. I was incredibly moved, and humbled.

What a privilege it is, to have that opportunity, to make an impact on a stranger. I’ve since met other people who heard my talk, and have also been touched by their comments.

Which brings me round to say: you never know when you are going to make an impact on someone. You never know when the words you say off-handedly will touch them, so do your best to make that impact a positive one, an encouraging one, a hopeful one.

Is Facebook right for your business? Take 126 seconds and find out

Facebook can be a powerful tool for some businesses, but is yours one of them?

Facebook can be a powerful tool for some businesses, but is yours one of them?

Facebook may all the rage, but is it the best fit for your particular business?

If you’re not sure if you should be using Facebook for business, we can help.

We can take you through a super-quick, 2-minute quiz so you’ll know once and for all if Facebook will truly help you build your business. . . or if you’re wasting your time, and money.

Click here to set up a free assessment. In just a few minutes, you’ll know whether the latest craze is a good investment for your business. . . or if you should be focusing your attention on a different platform. Don’t waste anymore time — contact us now!

3 reasons your business needs a value proposition

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to explain to people what your business does in one sentence?

If you’ve struggled to describe what makes your business unique, then a “value proposition” may be the most important business tool you’ve never heard of.

If even your dog gets bored when you talk about your business, we can help.

If even your dog gets bored when you talk about your business, we can help.

But just because you’re not familiar with it, doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Whether you are considering launching a new enterprise, or if you have an established business, there are many reasons to develop a value proposition.

Here are three quick reasons why your business needs a value proposition.

  1. Your value proposition describes how you create value for your customers. It captures what you offer, and why.
  2. A good value proposition will distinguish you from your competition. It elegantly communicates your USP or “unique selling proposition”.
  3. Whether you provide a product or service, having a strong value proposition is key to winning customers. It helps them to understand why they should buy from you.

In this video, Laura Bruce takes a group through the basics of value proposition design

If you would like to explore how a value proposition will help your business communicate with its audiences, we can help. We offer a half-day value proposition development workshop. At the end of the session, you will leave with a value proposition that captures the value you create for your customers, and explains why they should buy from you.

It may be the best money you’ve ever invested in your business.

Contact Bruce Public Relations in Inverness to schedule a call to discuss. Don’t wait another day, wasting time with marketing copy that doesn’t tell people what problem you solve. Call us now!

The most expensive coffee you’ve had this year?

What's the true cost of this coffee? The answer may surprise you.

What’s the true cost of this coffee? The answer may surprise you.

If you’re like me, you’re constantly on the lookout for tips and tricks to be as productive as possible. We’re eager to find hacks that will help us save time, Apps to automate common tasks — keen to squeeze more out of each minute.

But when was the last time you questioned whether you should be doing that particular task at all? That’s what hit me today, when I was invited by a connection on LinkedIn to meet for coffee.

According to his message, he’s met me a few times already. My reflex is to accept. And normally, I would go ahead and arrange to meet him.

But today, when I received his invitation, my immediate reaction was: “What will this meeting cost me?”

Agreeing to meet him — and with no explicit goal for the meeting — will probably eat up at least an hour and a half. Normally, being sociable and open to the prospect of developing business, I would have accepted his invitation.

But today is different.

Over the past few months, it’s clear I have become more reluctant to accept invitations, and keener to stay at my desk — generating revenue.

This was reinforced by an interview I recently heard with Seth Godin: “I find I have a lot more time since I stopped watching television, and going to meetings.” What an eye-opener that was.

Is it just me, eager to stay put rather than take the opportunity to meet and deepen a recent connection, or are you also jealously guarding your time at your desk?

As a solo practitioner, if I am not generating revenue, nobody else is doing it for me. On days that I have meetings, I rarely get much done in the revenue generation front. And it’s not just the time I spend at the meeting, or the time it takes to travel to and from it.

For me, the biggest cost is the interruption. Getting into the flow of a new project, developing a good idea, outlining a kick-ass seminar or presentation — that is pure gold. To interrupt it to go for a coffee may cost you far more than you anticipate.

So, the next time you’re invited by a business connection to meet for coffee, ask yourself if you’re headed out for the most expensive coffee you’ve had his year.

7 simple tips to ensure your PR is E-L-E-G-A-N-T

Black cocktail dress on mannequin stand.

Choose elegance over fashion and you will always be happy you did.

Coco Chanel famously said, “That which is fashionable becomes unfashionable.” 

When it comes to promoting your business, do you feel like you are always chasing the latest fashion? All that running’s not good for your looks, darling. Choose timeless elegance, instead. It will do as much for your public relations as it will your personal style.  Why? Because while fashions may change, the principles of public relations endure.

Picture this: you’ve been invited to a party or a dinner. You have no idea what to wear. Most women will agree: when in doubt, choose the Little Black Dress. There’s something quietly reassuring about sticking with a classic. And so it is with public relations.

If you are hoping to generate publicity, the acronym ‘ELEGANT’ will guide you through some helpful reminders to ensure that your PR tactics are focussed. Follow these, and you’ll increase your chances of success. If you have news to share and are considering issuing a press release (or “media release”), the list below will help ensure you do the right things to generate the coverage you are hoping for.

Here are my 7 tips to ensure your PR is ELEGANT!

E – E is for “end”. In the words of Dr Steven Covey, “Start with the End in mind.”What is the goal of the publicity you are working to generate? Who to you hope to reach? What do you want them to know? Most of all, what do you hope they will do once they have read your news? Start with the big picture, and then work on the details.

L – L is for “leader”. Be a Leader in your field. Your words will carry far more import if you are perceived as an expert in your field. Remember, you don’t have to be the world authority on something to be an expert. You need only be the most prominent local authority. If you’re not the expert, find someone who is, and quote them in your media release.

E – E is for “evaluate”. Evaluate what will motivate your audience. Before you attempt to persuade, you should consider what your intended audience is likely to respond to. We recently announced a ‘good news’ story about a local business expanding. This type of story is something most business editors will welcome.

G – G is for “good”. What good are you doing? If you can communicate the benefit to potential customers, the local or wider community, this will help to ‘sell in’ your message. Are you creating jobs? Buying materials from local vendors? Training young people? Growing manufacturing capacity? Spell it out and it will sell the story.

A – A is for “articulate”. Articulate the benefits of your product or service. Spell out exactly what makes your product or service superior, unique, or unusual. Ideally, spell out all of these. In other words, if you’ve got it, flaunt it!

N – N is for “news”. What news value do you have? In other words, what makes your message newsworthy? If you don’t — or can’t — articulate this in your media release, you can bet an editor won’t be interested.

T – T is for “timing”. Think about what is going on in the world, including holidays, seasons, or recent news events. Time your media release to coincide with other events. If you can find a hook that ties your story to a bigger news theme, that will improve your chances of getting coverage.

Good luck!

I hope you find this guide useful. If you have news you would like to share with the world, we’d like to help you get the impact you hope for. With more than 20 years in media relations, you can count on us to help you craft a compelling message. Contact Bruce Public Relations on 01463 216226.

5 Reasons you definitely should NOT enter the Highland Business Awards!

Highland Business Awards logo Inverness Chamber of Commerce

Nominations for the Highland Business Awards 2016 are open!

It’s awards nomination season, and Inverness Chamber of Commerce members will have received an email recently advising of the deadline, and the categories.

Here are 5 reasons you should definitely NOT put your business forward for the awards:

  1. You are delighted with your business and its turnover. Attracting more business would simply be a nuisance!
  2. You’re too busy to write an award nomination! Besides, you entered before and you weren’t even shortlisted! What’s the point?!
  3. Your team already knows you love them — why would you want to sing their praises by nominating your business for an award? They might get big heads!
  4. You don’t need any more promotion or publicity for your business. You’ve already gotten lots of coverage, and that led to more work! Stop that now!
  5. You don’t mind missing out on all the fun and excitement at the Awards luncheon. You hate that sort of thing. And frankly, you’d rather eat a sandwich at your desk on Friday, 30th September.

What? None of those apply to you and your business? Well, why didn’t you say so?!

Ballroom, Dromossie Hotel, Inverness 2015 September

Look at all those people talking to each other and enjoying themselves! Who would want to do that?!

Start working on your nomination now! The deadline for entries is the end of July, but that comes around a lot faster than you realise! If you need help with your entry, talk to us. If you are not sure if you should enter, talk to us. And if you really don’t want to leave your office on the day of the awards luncheon, let us know, and we’ll get some pizzas delivered from our favourite pizza joint to you and your team. 😉

Highland Business Women’s Club 2016 Awards, and how we can all be “shining stars”

Shining Star winner 2016 Laura Bruce of Bruce Public Relations, with Highland Business Women’s Club President Isla Cruden

On Friday night at the Highland Business Women’s Club 2016 Awards, I was named winner of the inaugural Shining Star award for Most Inspiring Woman in Business. It was a real honour, and not for the reasons you might expect.

Created by the Club this year, the reason this award means so much to me is because it recognises the kind of businesswoman that typified the finalists in this category, and one that that I would encourage every woman to be: someone who is not simply good in business, but who makes a point of helping others to succeed as well.

I believe we have an obligation to help others, not just in business, but in the communities in which we live. What good is it to be successful, if your success does not help light a path, and pave the way for others to follow?

With organisations like the public speaking club Toastmasters, I have been very gratified, watching as new members I have encouraged to get involved develop their skills, and start to feel more comfortable speaking to groups. With the Highland Business Women’s Club I have encouraged dozens of women to join the Club and hosted nearly as many at meetings. Several of them took my advice, and among the finalists and winners on Friday night were at least a dozen members I encouraged to join. How gratifying!

Finalists in the Highland Business Women's Club 2016 awards -- photo by Alison White Photography

Finalists in the Highland Business Women’s Club 2016 awards — photo by Alison White Photography

I would encourage anyone who is settled into their business, and competent at what they do, to start to look outside. Find ways to have an impact beyond your own business, to have an impact beyond your own bottom line. If you are lucky, like me you will see women who had been hanging back, start to get into the thick of things. You will see people make connections with each other that didn’t exist before you introduced them. But most of all, you will feel a warm glow that you don’t get just from making your clients happy. You will get the satisfaction of knowing that you have made an impact on someone and something completely apart from your commercial activities. Isn’t that what life’s all about?

We can all be “Shining Stars”. So give it a shot. The life you transform may be your own.

Laura Bruce’s top 10 PR tips from two decades in public relations

Bruce Public Relations founder Laura Bruce, on the banks of the River Ness in Inverness

Bruce Public Relations founder Laura Bruce, on the banks of the River Ness in Inverness

To celebrate our 10th anniversary Bruce Public Relations in Inverness is sharing 10 of our “insider tips” to help you boost your organisation’s profile. Remember, if you have really big news to share, speak to a professional about the best ways to get the word out.

In no particular order, here are 10 simple things you can do to ensure your business has an edge when it comes to PR.

  1. Learn to identify what may be newsworthy in your organisation. Are you launching a new service? Introducing a new product to your field? Are you involved in supporting a charity or other cause? All of these things create opportunities to open up dialogue with key audiences. [Hint: it’s not always the media you should be focussed on.}
  2. Identify the most appropriate social media platforms to reach your customers and clients, and establish a presence here. If you aren’t sure which platforms best suit your business, do some homework or speak to a professional for advice.
  3. Keep your website up-to-date. If you haven’t revised your website since it was built, it is probably out of date. Take a good look at it and see what needs freshening up, and make these changes.
  4. If you have news, consider issuing a media release. (If you’re not sure if you need one, contact us.)
  5. Anniversaries and milestones are ideal opportunities to share some news. If you have celebrated your 10th anniversary, or just built your 100th house, let people know.
  6. Share good news with your own team, first. There’s nothing better to build employee relations than treating your staff as “insiders”. Share your news with them, first. They can be great ambassadors for your organisation, and can take pride in your success.
  7. Take photos. You can’t go back in time, so make sure you get them while you can.
  8. Don’t underestimate the power of sharing insights from your industry. People who work outside your field of expertise may be quite interested in your observations. If you are seeing a trend develop, write a blog post for your website, or share your thoughts on LinkedIn.
  9. Make it simple for people to contact your organisation. Whether it’s through your website, by telephone, or over one  or more social platforms, ensure there is a pain-free route to contact you.
  10. Put a company ‘backgrounder’ on your website. It should contain basic information including when the organisation was established, who the principles are, the main products or services you provide, and a link to a contact form for more information. Some organisations do this on their “About” page, while others use a dedicated page for news. Either way, help people who visit your site to get a handle on what you do, and for whom.

Have you found these top 10 tips helpful? If your organisation has decided it’s time to start communicating, contact Bruce Public Relations. We’ll help you identify the most newsworthy information, and then help you communicate it the most appropriate audiences. We’ve been delighting our clients for more than a decade. Isn’t it time you got some PR TLC?

What your posts on LinkedIn say about you

I am reluctant to post this on LinkedIn. Why? Because LinkedIn is the reason I am writing this.

I am grumpy about grammar.

Today, I am grumpy about grammar.

Does anyone know how to spell, or use proper punctuation? I am aghast.

Catching up on LinkedIn after a hectic week, I scanned a number of posts quickly. First to catch my eye:  “Scotland wide competitions available for post graduate students” . I agree, Scotland is wide, but surely Scotland-wide isn’t such a stretch for a public sector employee on 70 grand a year? And ‘post graduate students’? Are these specialists in installing posts? LinkedIn, you really have to up your game.

Next to capture my beleaguered eye, an update from a LinkedIn connection in PR. This man who shall remain nameless, but whose job title is PR specialist mused about the future of the i newspaper, citing its “potential acquisition by the owner’s of the Scotsman”.

It’s bad enough to have to slog through the scenic images with ‘motivational’ quotes superimposed on them, or yet another picture of Richard Branson with that crinkly smile exhorting us all to ‘be part of a team’, or some nonsense. Those, I have just about come to terms with.

But the spelling, punctuation and grammar on the most generic of LinkedIn updates, well, frankly, it’s just not good enough. And when even PR people can’t use an apostrophe properly, well, you just want to cover your face with your hands and hope it will all go away.

"I'm here for the free range eggs. And if you can't hyphenate, then I ain't payin'!"

“I’m here for the free range eggs. And if you can’t hyphenate, I ain’t payin’!”

I am not sure if it is a factor of people composing nearly everything on a keypad the size of a box of matches, or if people simply never learned the rules of grammar. Whatever the cause, I would like it to stop, please. It’s bad enough with the “free range eggs” at Tesco — don’t make me face the failure on LinkedIn too.

RANT OVER. What is my point? My point is, your posts on LinkedIn reflect on you. If you don’t spell correctly, or use proper grammar, this will reflect negatively on you. People may conclude you are a careless accountant, or less than diligent with the tasks or details they entrust to you. Is this what you want?

Likewise, spell well, punctuate well, and your esteem will rise. The choice is yours.

P.S. I would have posted images of the offending posts, but LinkedIn won’t allow my screen capture software ‘Grab’ to collect these offending snippets. I suppose LinkedIn doesn’t want them preserved for posterity. No surprise there, then.