Tag Archives: Bruce PR

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.

Goldfish attention span? No problem! Just get your copy right

According to research published recently in The Telegraph newspaper, human attention span has dropped to only 8 seconds today, from 12 seconds in 2000. Apparently, we have the “smartphone” to blame for our appallingly-short attention span. It seems the humble goldfish — long the butt of jokes about its short attention span, now  — at nine seconds — has us beaten.

Apparently, goldfish now have longer attention spans than humans.

Apparently, goldfish now have longer attention spans than humans.

What does this mean for you? Well, one of the ways this will impact is on your website. You may have a whizz-bang design, but if your copy fails to grab your visitors’ attention — and damn quickly, I might add! —  then they will click off your site. . . and likely onto your competitor’s.

Writing good copy is an art. And like art, it’s not something everyone can do.

Here are my three tips to capturing — and captivating! — visitors who land on your site:

  1. Tell people what you do. Enigmatic business names are the flavour du jour, but they don’t do a lot to help people find you. If you have had the chutzpah to create some unrecognisable name for your company, at least have the decency to follow that name with something to identify the product or service you provide. And don’t make people hunt for it.
  2. Be friendly — avoid jargon. Nothing puts me off than a website full of technical terminology that has no business on a website. If you want customers to come calling, reserve the jargon for your techie meet-ups, and use clear language in the  places your [potential] customers visit.
  3. Know when you are out of your depth. If writing a few clear sentences is not something you are comfortable with, pay someone to do it for you. I mean, you don’t wire your own house, do you? There are reasons to get in a professional, and writing your website is a good example. If you need help, contact a PR firm. This is a place where writing skills tend to be in abundance. You’ll pay a bit, but you’ll likely get a far better result than your DIY approach.

If good copy is something your site is crying out for, or if you simply feel you site’s content is a bit dated, contact Laura at Bruce Public Relations in Inverness. We’ll give you a bit of whizz-bang, without breaking the bank.

Awards: how to reap more than you sow

Are you thinking of entering the 2015 Highlands and Islands Food and Drink Awards? The deadline is Friday 8th May.

The deadline for 2015 applications is 8th May.

The deadline for 2015 applications is 8th May.

Understandably, applying for an award like this takes time, and consideration. However, what you may not realise is that it also offers tremendous opportunities — some of which you probably hadn’t considered.

Accountants Johnston Carmichael are a sponsor of the awards, and this week hosted an information session for #HIFDA2015. In addition to some practical information about the nomination process from host Jillian Sharp, a previous winner was on hand to speak about the impact it has had on her business. What she said was surprising.

FAO27 won the 2014 Food and Drink Business Growth Award. Anne Moseley, from FAO27, described how her company “got far more than expected”. What was unique about Anne was the degree to which she involved her team in the nomination. She prepared the application with a great deal of input from her team. “There was a lot of consultation,” she said. And the impact of that? “The team boost was phenomenal.”

After the nomination was completed, and FAO27 won, there was another surprise: the response from customers. “It was a tremendous win for us, and we got a tremendous reception from our customers.” Winning an award like this gives an organisation a great deal of external validation, well beyond the publicity it generates.

She advised companies thinking of applying to identify where you excel, and to think precisely of how you excel, and why? “You must work from the general, to narrow it down to what makes you different from your competitors,” she advised. “Modesty goes out the window!” she said.

Find your unique selling point, she said. She noted that it has helped FAO27 as a business, in that the HIFDA application process generates what is in essence, a “mini business plan”. “It’s handy when you go to the bank, and elsewhere,” she concluded.

The work you do preparing a solid nomination will stand your business in good stead quite apart from the awards process. The written materials can be used as a case study, as a mini business plan, and also on your website, in advertising, and across your marketing materials.

If you win an award, the publicity will directly benefit your company. However, even if you don’t win, you have done some quality thinking about your business and gotten it down on paper. Further, you have involved your team in the nomination process. It’s a win-win, whatever way you cut it.

If preparing your nomination is about as appealing as preparing your tax return, don’t despair. Bruce PR can take you through the steps, and together we can craft a nomination that you will be proud of. Click here to contact us.

For full details of the Highlands and Islands Food and Drink Awards, please visit the Awards website: www.hifoodanddrinkawards.com. Remember, the closing date is Friday, 8th May 2015. @hifooddrink #HIFDA2015

Are you ‘driving around aimlessly’? 3 tips to focus your social media

taget practise“Public relations without research is like shooting an arrow, then requisitioning a target to install in the field.” — Anthony J. Fulginiti, APR — communication briefings

Last week I made a presentation to the Highland Business Women’s Club. I was invited to talk about my business, but I decided instead to focus on the importance of having clear objectives for your company, before you head off on a PR or social media initiative.

It sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? But it’s the hardest part of the process. So many companies I speak to want to start doing social media, or a blog, or making announcements, but they have not spent time thinking about where it is they want to go as an organisation.

I used a metaphor in my talk, and listening to the guests afterwards, I think it made an impression. “Social media,” I said, “is like the car. Public relations is the map. But your goals — that is the destination.” And I suggested that nobody in the audience should waste their time driving around aimlessly. They needed PR for the map it provides, but without a destination, they could spend hours on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and end up no nearer achieving their objectives.

Sound familiar?

Here are my three tips to ensure you don’t waste time in your social media activities.

  1. Spend time thinking about your business objectives. Get together with your key people. Don’t be afraid to include juniors in the discussion. They often have fresh ideas and a different perspective.
  2. Visualise the outcome you desire. Then write it down. What does it look like, in that place that means “success” for your company. Is it a second office? More staff? More lucrative clients? Be precise, so you will know when you get there. And think big.
  3. Assign the work. Choose someone talented to develop a plan to achieve these goals. If your company is too small to have a staff member devoted to communications, then out-source it to an experienced contractor. Not only will you get just what you need, if you choose well, you will also access a great reservoir of business experience.

If you think you could use some assistance developing your company’s goals, and then crafting a plan to make them happen, get in touch with us. We love this kind of work. We specialise in ideas, and PR is just one way we make things happen for our clients.

Highland Spotlight #PuttYerselintheSpotlight Challenge

Bruce Public Relations and CECE Events had a great time with our friends during our #PuttYerselintheSpotlight Challenge at the Inverness Chamber of Commerce 2014 Highland Spotlight exhibition. Here’s a few of the snaps from our stand.

 

Networking, anniversaries and people: thoughts on the Highland Spotlight Exhibition

Our company marked its 7th anniversary yesterday, and a busy day it was. We exhibited at Highland Spotlight, a trade show organised by Inverness Chamber of Commerce. It was a bustling day at the Drumossie Hotel, filled with more than 60 local companies.

I was reminded of the value of personal connections as I chatted with dozens of visitors and with the other exhibitors as the day progressed. You never can tell with whom you are going to connect.

Bruce PR stand at Highland Spotllight

Our stand at Highland Spotlight was unattended from 11:45am, but this didn’t stop us from making some valuable connections during lunch

I had the good fortune, during my scheduled early lunch in the atrium outside the exhibition space, to be asked by Mairi Macauly of New Start Highland, if she and her colleague could join me at my table.

Mairi and Isobel were able to tell me a lot about New Start Highland. I had already been acquainted with the charity, as a donor and as a customer of their furniture shop on Church Street in Inverness city centre.

Having worked with a number of social enterprises in Northern Ireland as well as in Canada, I find theirs a compelling sector, with innumerable opportunities for touching people’s lives in a profound way. We had an interesting and lively discussion, and in retrospect, it turned out to be a very productive business meeting, in addition to a very pleasant lunch.

And that’s the miracle of connecting with people. You never know who it is you are going to make a connection with, or ultimately, where that connection may lead. But you can be sure of one thing: if you don’t speak to people, the odds are good that you’ll not make those connections.

If there is one bit of advice I could impart, it would be to convince the chronically shy people in this world to do anything they can to get over that shyness. I was a very shy child, and somewhere along the way, my shyness started to fade. Perhaps it was working as a waitress during the summers in university, where my American guests were just so damn friendly and out-going, how could you not respond to them?

Whatever it was, I am grateful for it. Not being handicapped by shyness has done my career the world of good. I encourage anyone who is troubled by their fears of speaking to new people to look into skills to help them to cope more effectively. It will change your career, as well as your personal life, profoundly for the better.