Category Archives: Announcements

Laura Bruce elected to Toastmasters UK and Ireland leadership team

Members of the Toastmasters District 71 Leadership Team 2017-18 are formally inducted at a ceremony in Manchester at the D71 Spring Conference on 13 May. From left, Red Skelton, Patricia O’Reilly, John Cox and Laura Bruce

Founder of Bruce Public Relations, Laura Bruce has been elected to a leading role at Toastmasters International in the UK and Ireland. She was elected PR Manager of District 71 at the organisation’s spring conference in Manchester on Saturday, 13 May. She will spearhead efforts to raise awareness of Toastmasters, which is the world’s largest public speaking and leadership development organization.

Gerry Dunn, Director of Toastmasters in Scotland said, “I am delighted that one of our outstanding Scottish Toastmasters has been chosen to head up Toastmasters International’s PR operation in the UK and Ireland. Demand for Toastmasters’ communication and leadership programmes is growing rapidly, but in many ways it is still a well-kept secret. Laura is the ideal person to get the message out so that more people can enjoy the fantastic benefits that the Toastmasters programmes offer people.”

Laura founded Bruce Public Relations in 2006, and credits the voluntary organisation with strengthening her business. She said,  “With the help of Toastmasters I have become a better speaker and a stronger leader. Since joining, I have also become an ambassador for Toastmasters and encouraged hundreds of people around the world to seek out their local club, and recruited dozens to our club in Inverness. I am delighted our members elected me to this important role.”

Laura has been a member of Toastmasters Inverness since early 2014, and will complete her term as President of Inverness Toastmasters on 30 June. She was the inaugural winner of the Highland Business Women’s “Shining Star” award in 2016, and served as Vice President of Highland Business Women until May 2017.

Since 2014 she has produced and hosted a weekly radio programme, Dessert Highland Discs on North Highland Radio, and she writes a column on communications and networking for Scottish Provincial Press’s Executive magazine.

Toastmasters’ District 71 comprises all of Ireland and all of the UK except London on the south. Bruce is part of a team of four who together will lead District 71. They include District Director Robert Skelton from Cambridgeshire, Program Quality Director Patricia O’Reilly from Dublin, and John Cox, Club Growth Director, from Nottingham. Their one-year term commences 1st July, 2017.

Inverness Toastmasters meets the second and fourth Wednesday evening of each month, and visitors are always welcome. For details visit the club’s Facebook page, or the club website at www.toastmastersinverness.com.

About Toastmasters International

Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organization’s membership exceeds 313,000 in more than 14,650 clubs in 126 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit www.toastmasters.org. Follow @Toastmasters on Twitter.

About Bruce Public Relations Ltd.

Established in 2006, Inverness-based Bruce Public Relations is a boutique PR and marketing firm that helps small- to medium-sized businesses in Scotland and beyond to raise their profile and grow their business.

The pay is awful, but. . .

Members of the board of Highland Business Women at the 2017 awards gala in March

Like many of you who’ve been working for more than a decade or two, I’ve been serving on boards of non-profits and charities for many years. From the Niagara Symphony Association and the Mackenzie Printery, to Highland Business Women and Toastmasters, it’s given me a chance to help an organisation that typically wouldn’t be able to afford to hire me by sharing my expertise on a pro bono basis.

Two years ago I was elected to the committee of Highland Business Women, as the organisation was nearing its twentieth anniversary. Although meetings — which mixed a social element with some professional development — seemed relatively well-attended, many who attended weren’t members, I learned.

Growing membership became my goal, along with raising awareness. I seized the opportunity to invite the women I knew who should be attending meetings, to come along as my guest. I also put my PR skills to work doing media relations, creating content for the website, and helping with the Facebook page. We got coverage in the local papers, people were interested in joining the group, and I even interviewed a few members on my radio show, Dessert Highland Discs!

In April 2016 I was elected Vice President, and already, the change was evident. Membership had grown, and the buzz at meetings was even greater. Working with a great team, we continued to take turns planning and running monthly meetings and occasionally, we hosted two meetings in a month. Attendance continued to grow, and — for the first time — some meetings sold-out, and we had to turn people away.

A year later, having achieved my objectives, I have stepped down from the board. Now with more than 70 members, my objective of growing the membership through a combination of personal outreach, and public relations has been a success. I also feel it’s important to make room for new people to get a role like this. It’s an unparalleled opportunity to develop new skills, particularly leadership skills.

I will continue to act as an ambassador for Highland Business Women, as I turn my attention outward. This weekend, I’m running for election as a director of the UK and Ireland branch of the worldwide organisation Toastmasters International. If I’m successful, it will be a demanding role, but one where I am sure I will be able to make an impact. Toastmasters has been a wonderful addition to my life, helping me to become a much better speaker, and leader, so it’s time to see how I can contribute.

In many ways, the work I did at Highland Business Women was a great microcosm of the work I hope to be doing at Toastmasters in the UK and Ireland.

I encourage anyone looking to stretch themselves to consider what organisation you feel connected to, that you can become more involved in. How can you put your professional expertise to work to benefit your community? The pay is terrible, but you may nevertheless be surprised how much you get out of it.

Finding the “net” in “networking”: reflections on the first BNI Expo

Has it been a week already?

The inaugural BNI Expo took place one week ago, on 9 March, and the response to this new local networking event and exhibition was tremendous.

But first a bit of background. Thirty-four local businesses make up BNI Highland, which is the Inverness-area chapter of BNI. The organisation is a worldwide networking and business referral organisation, and members of BNI Highland meet weekly.

The BNI Expo at Eden Court was an opportunity to showcase our businesses to the wider community, and we each invited our contacts to come along, meet the other BNI members, and find out more about our businesses. I spoke to more than 100 people that day, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. We also used the day to launch our new “Online Profile Builder” and are delighted at the response!

Each week at our Thursday morning breakfast meetings, BNI members each have a 60-second slot to share a bit of information about our business and request a specific referral from the other members. More often than not, someone around the table will be in a position to help make an introduction on our behalf.

I was a founder member of the BNI Highland chapter, and have been the Education Coordinator since we launch all those months ago. In my role, I introduce the weekly education slot, where a member shares a 4-minute presentation on a topic to help others in the room do business better. Sometimes, like today, the assigned member isn’t able to present their slot, so it has been a great boon to my impromptu speaking skills! Recent education topics have included how to make the most of your 60-second slot, what makes a good referral, and how to make the most of your 1-to-1 meetings with other members.

“One-to-ones” [121s] are the core of BNI; these one-hour meetings with another member enable each of us to learn more about our colleague’s business, and the types of referrals they are looking for. We learn to recognise opportunities where a referral would be suitable. And best of all, we get to know each other better.

Beyond the business passed, BNI has been the source of many new friendships for me and for my colleagues in the room.

Today, we got heartfelt thanks from one of our members, who credited the support he received from all of us, for helping him get through a difficult time personally and professionally.

Which was a helpful reminder: the ‘net’ impact of networking isn’t always just evident in the bottom line.

If you’d like more information about BNI, or how Bruce PR can help you to raise the profile of your business, ring me on 01462 216 226 or drop me a line. I’d be happy to chat.

The Online Profile Builder is here! Bruce PR’s innovative digital marketing solution for SMEs

We’re delighted today to unveil details of our new Online Profile Builder. We developed this in response to the digital marketing needs of local businesses — businesses that are too small to have their own PR or marketing person, but too big to ignore the demand for online content.

Our Online Profile Builder is the perfect solution for businesses who want their business promoted but don’t want to do everything themselves. Bruce PR’s Online Profile Builder will solve the problem of having professionally written, high-quality content for your social media channels, and proper news items for traditional news outlets including newspapers — a crucial mix in the Highlands.

To find out more, visit our stand (Stand Number 1!) at the BNI Highlands Expo today at Eden Court. We’ll be able to show you just how our Online Profile Builder can solve your social media and publicity challenges, with one simple package. Click here to book a 5-minute telephone chat to get all the details.

Why we’re the most expensive PR firm in the north of Scotland

I use to say we were the most experienced PR firm in the north of Scotland. But I recently adjusted that. I now describe us as the most expensive PR firm in the north of Scotland.

When we first started up, we use to compete, loosely, on price. But the clients we got typically didn’t appreciate what we could do for them, and often, despite getting them great results [read: excellent media coverage, strategy insights, positioning wins] the next time they had something to announce they’d make us compete all over again.

Those aren’t the clients we want to work with. “Love them what love you” is our ethos now.

There are some things money can buy.

There are some things money can buy.

We are a PR firm, yes, but we are also stupendously creative business advisors, and talented copywriters, with experience and connections far and wide. We can put you in touch with someone halfway across the world you would never otherwise have encountered. We can develop a value proposition that will earn your business hundreds of thousands of pounds. We can craft the story of your business into the compelling tale it should be — something you simply don’t have the time or expertise to do.

We won’t compete on price. But the clients we have the pleasure of serving don’t complain about our fees. They are happy to pay them.

If you’d like to engage in something far more than a public relations exercise, give us a bell.

Creating membership magic: tactics for Toastmasters

toastmasters-logo-color-pngdublin-conference-logo-d71

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.

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.

“The party’s over . . . ” Now what? 3 things to do after you have won an award

Our client Frankie & Lola's softplay in Inverness was named Most Promising New Business. We are delighted for them.

Our client Frankie & Lola’s softplay in Inverness was named Most Promising New Business. We are delighted for them.

Last week’s Highland Business Awards were a punctuation mark in the Highland business calendar. On Friday afternoon, after a motivating speech about tourism and regeneration from Steve Dunlop, Chief Executive of Scottish Canals, twelve companies and one individual went away winners. We were delighted to help our client, Frankie & Lola’s Soft-Play in Inverness, to win the Most Promising New Business award. A number of finalists also have great reason to hold their heads high.

HM_Business_Awards_Logo_2015_200_76_80But now what? With the dust settling on the awards, Bruce PR recommends a few simple tactics to make the most of your new standing.

  1. Put something on your blog about the awards. Mention that you went along and how much you appreciated being named a finalist. Maybe talk about how your team put the application together, or how you found the process. Did you take photos at the event? Here’s a great place to put some photos.
  2. Share the blog story onto your social media platforms. Update your Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram. . . you get the picture. Share those photos, and give your followers and friends an insight into the event, and what it meant to you and your team.
  3. Incorporate your new status into your company’s corporate identity. Were you a finalist? Add “Finalist, Highland Business Awards 2015” to your home page and marketing materials. Don’t be shy. Did you win? Plaster your status and your award category all over your site, your social media, and share the news with your email list. People love good news. Especially your friends and colleagues. Give them something to smile about.

If this kind of stuff doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t worry. The team at Bruce Public Relations in Inverness has been helping our clients to have reasons to celebrate for more than 20 years. We’re pretty good at it, if we do say so ourselves. Get in touch if this is the kind of expertise your organisation would benefit from. We enjoy sharing our expertise, and helping your business grow.