Category Archives: Public Relations

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.

Tylenol recovered. But will United Airlines?

Shock. Horror. Outrage. That has been the reaction of people around the world to the brutal images of airport police dragging a passenger off a United Airlines flight yesterday in the U.S.

I am wondering how a paying customer can be brutalised by a business he has contracted with? In what world is that okay? And in what world, can such brutality be justified by claiming, in essence, the passenger had a ‘bad attitude’? Apparently, standing up for yourself is not simply defiant: it’s against the rules.

We’ve been conditioned to believe that “the authorities” can do pretty much as they please when it comes to issues or situations which are even remotely associated with “security”.

Unfortunately, it appears we’ve inadvertently given carte blanche to corporations working in these industries to abrogate basic human rights, not to mention the rules of civil society.

Did it start with the US’s National Security Agency violating people’s physical bodies during airport body searches? In a few short years, we now feel it’s normal to subject ourselves to invasive and at times degrading levels of interaction at airports under the guise of complying with “security regulations”.

And in January, the UK passed the Snooper’s Charter, which enables the government  — apparently ‘legally’ — to spy on every citizen, without cause. All in the name of “security”.

I’m fed up. I can only hope that United Airlines’ reputation is so badly damaged by this that drastic measures must be taken to rehabilitate it. Tylenol recovered from the tampering scandal, largely because they were not at fault. United’s agents, in this case, airport police, have done irreparable damage. Indeed, a breaking story from The Guardian indicates United’s share price has plummeted, wiping $1bn from its value in hours.

But there may been good to come of this yet.

What I have observed today gives me hope. The shock and  horror of the passengers’ faces as their compatriot was bounced and banged off the plane gives me hope. Ordinary people have not lost their innate sense of what is right. Their horrified reaction says it all.

It’s time we reminded corporations and governments who they are meant to serve.

For more information or to support a challenge of the UK government’s illegal Snooper’s Charter, click here for details from Liberty.

 

 

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.

Join Bruce PR at BNI Highland Expo 9 March 2017

Eden Court building

Do you love networking? Event if you don’t, you won’t want to miss this super event. Join Laura from Bruce Public Relations and her colleagues from BNI Highland for informal networking at BNI Highland’s inaugural Expo on Thursday 9th March from 11am to 7pm at Eden Court in Inverness. The event is invitation-only so please drop us a line if you would like a formal invitation. #BNIExpoHighland

How to boost your business with video

Laura Bruce from Bruce Public Relations speaking to a group at SCVO’s #DigitalMeetup in Inverness 25 January

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you will have noticed that the popularity of video has grown exponentially.

From Facebook to YouTube, we are consuming more video content than ever before. And the business case for video is compelling: according to Hubspot, after watching a video, 64% of users are more likely to buy a product online.

2017: the year of video?

We’ve seen growing interest in video, but I believe 2017 will be the year that video really takes off across a range of social platforms. By taking a few simple steps, any business can capitalise on the potential that video offers to share your message far and wide.

The power of leverage

For small- and medium-sized businesses with small- to medium-sized marketing budgets, video offers a powerful tool to generate leverage in your promotional activity. Equipped with little more than a smartphone, you can create short videos to bring your website and social media channels to life, and reach potentially millions of viewers online.

What should you say?

One of the best uses of video is to help people to understand what you do, and how you do it. A “value proposition” is a tool to help potential customers understand the benefits you provide, the problems you solve, and why they should choose you over your competition. Your value proposition should be a top priority when developing video content, and it’s something we work with clients to develop before doing any marketing or promotional activity. Once you are clear on what makes your business unique, it is much simpler to communicate this and convince potential customers why they should buy from you. [More on this here.]

Educate clients online, and build rapport

Also, consider the questions you typically respond to from clients or customers. For professional services firms like solicitors, accountants and architects, a video can save time responding to queries about your fee structure or services you provide. Perhaps your video could spec out the path of a typical query, and take a potential client through the process so there are no surprises? One of your team could explain how your fees are structured, and which if any services or advice you provide free of charge. A video will save staff time, and also serve to educate your audience. Moreover, by using an actual member of your team, video can build rapport in a way an email will never do.

Use video to accomplish new tasks online

But your video doesn’t have to be about your products or services. I recently worked with a large accounting firm to develop a video to recruit graduates to become trainee accountants. Shared on their website and social media channels, the animated video truly engaged the target audience — outperforming all other recruitment tactics— and generated a talented pool of ideal candidates!

Get something down on paper first

While some people are talented improvisational speakers, don’t put undue pressure on yourself or your team. Start with a script, outlining your key message and some details you want to include. Scripting your video doesn’t have to be complicated, but preparing a script will ensure you communicate what you intend to. And keep it short. Hubspot notes that 5% of people will turn off a video after one minute, but this figure jumps to 60% by two minutes! And ‘word count’ will make it simple to see how much you’ve got before you start filming: between 120 and 140 words will take about one minute to speak.

The crucial ingredient: a call to action

Don’t forget to include a call to action. Make sure to give your viewers one clear action to take — invite them to visit your website, ring your office, download a PDF, or email an enquiry. And make it simple for them to take that next step, by including a link, an email address, or similar.

What are you waiting for? 🙂

Video can positively impact your business in a range of ways – from increasing sales and driving traffic to your website, to educating potential customers about your products or services. The sooner you start using video, the sooner you’ll experience the benefits.

If you want to use video, but are not sure how to start, drop me a line or ring me. I think every business could be using video, and I can help you make the most of it!

Laura Bruce, Bruce Public Relations Ltd. copyright 2017. 

This article is based on my column in the January 2017 issue of Executive Magazine, a monthly publication of Scottish Provincial Press.

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.

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.

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. 

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.