Tag Archives: Highlands

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.

Laura’s Top 10 Tips for Terrific Networking

Networking can be fun. It is also good for business.

Networking can be fun. It is also good for business.

As a natural networker, I sometimes forget that it doesn’t come so easily to everyone. And even natural networkers sometimes forget how to make the most of networking opportunities (see #10 for the one I often forget to do!).

To help you make the most of the time you spend at networking events, I have created my own “Top 10” list. Which of these have you already mastered, and which do you need to work on?

  1. Dress for success. Ensure that what you wear matches the image you wish to project. If you are attending a business function, dress in business attire. A solicitor’s attire will probably be more formal than a graphic designer’s. When in doubt, dress more formally rather than more casually.
  2. Come prepared. Bring more business cards than you think you will need. I always try to wear a jacket with pockets. My strategy is to put a supply of my own cards in the right-hand pocket, and place the cards I receive into the left. Keeps it simple!
  3. Name tag on the right side. This is a great little trick. If you are wearing your name tag on your right side, it makes it simple for someone you meet to glance at your name tag as they are shaking your hand. It’s especially good if someone you have met before has forgotten your name — they can sneak a glance as you shake hello!
  4. Smile. Even if you feel nervous, smile. Remember that while most people don’t like networking, everyone likes a good sport. A smile is a great way to “introduce” yourself to the room as you arrive: even before you have said a word, you have made a good impression.
  5. Adopt an open stance. Position yourself so that people feel they can approach you. If you are speaking to someone, don’t face them directly — it will look like you are having a private conversation. Face the room and be approachable.
  6. Ditch your colleagues. The premise behind networking is to extend your network. You don’t achieve anything by chatting to the people you work with.
  7. Be cheerful. Once you start speaking to someone, keep it light. You may be fuming about something, but a networking event is meant to be light-hearted. Steer clear of controversial subjects, and stick to current affairs and local goings-on.
  8. Don’t say, “So what do you do?” This gives the impression you are only interested in speaking to someone based on their job. Instead, open with something neutral and friendly. “How’s your week going?” is something everybody can answer, and works as a good opening line. It also allows someone to highlight something they feel may be of interest.
  9. Know when to move on. Once you have made contact, don’t cling to the person for the duration of the event. You are both there to make new contacts, so allow them — and yourself — to move on with a polite exit strategy. Extend your hand and shake theirs, saying “Good to meet you.” If you haven’t exchanged cards yet, this is the time to do so. Ask them for their card, and offer them yours. And move on.
  10. Tip number 10 is for “Follow up.” Once you get back to the office, take the stack of cards from your left pocket (you did ask for cards, didn’t you?) and spend a few minutes entering the details into your contact list. Send a short email to say you enjoyed meeting them. You may also want to see if they are on LinkedIn, and if so, send a connection request. If you promised to set up a meeting, now is the time to act on that promise.

There you have it — my handy guide to help you make the most of your networking. Was this list helpful? I’d love to hear. Drop me a line and let me know.

Why awards pay great dividends (even if you don’t win)

Most organisation have no idea of the potential benefits of awards.

Most organisation have no idea of the potential benefits of awards.

Are you thinking of nominating your company for an award, but wondering if the time and effort required will be worth it? Are you a rising star in your industry, but still small potatoes compared to your competitors?

It may be worth spending the time and effort to enter the awards, for reasons you may not anticipate. Here are three compelling reasons to get an entry in, plus one benefit you probably never anticipated.

  1. Profile: Winning an industry award is a great way to get on the radar of potential investors, employees and key influencers. It’s like a big, flashing neon sign has been lit over your company and it can really help to open doors. Having won the award, your organisation has new credentials. Put them everywhere – on your website, social media pages, business cards and all over your marketing materials. People like to work with award-winning companies. Be one.
  2. Publicity: Most awards programmes have an element of publicity attached, which can be particularly beneficial for smaller organisations that don’t yet have much profile. Take advantage of the potential for this by entering awards where you have at least a decent chance of being shortlisted. Most awards schemes publish a list of nominees, so even if you don’t win, being shortlisted will give you some worthwhile exposure.
  3. Focus: The time and effort it takes to create a well-written and well thought-out application for an award benefits you as a business leader. It focuses your mind on where your company has come from, where you are, and what makes you unique. The best awards programmes also ask you where you are headed. If this is something you haven’t thought about recently, completing the entry form can be a timely reminder.

And the unexpected benefit of putting together an entry: Team-building.

One of the biggest rewards – surprisingly – has nothing to do with winning. It’s the potential the process holds, to bond your team members. The key here is to get everyone involved in the nomination process. Make it a truly organisation-wide effort. Let your staff know that you are planning a nomination and that you would like their input. This is the time to ask your team what they think makes your organisation unique. It may be things you never considered – from how you fill orders, to the way you reward employees. There is gold dust out there – you simply need to ask and you will receive.

The best results will come out of a culture where employees already feel a part of your business and feel their contribution is valued. But even if that’s not the case, the awards process opens the door to getting that culture of communication in place.

Good luck!

If you think you could use some assistance articulating what makes your organisation award-worthy, find a talented communications team to work with. If you need some advice on how to select someone, please get in touch.

This article by Laura Bruce of Bruce Public Relations was published in the June 2015 edition of Executive Magazine.

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.

PR in good times and in bad: 5 things you must do in a crisis and why crisis communications is vital for your business

Crisis-CommunicationRecent events we’ve been involved in have been a fresh reminder that PR is not just for announcing good news — it’s crucial when things go wrong. There’s a lot more than just your reputation on the line when things go wrong. The survival of your business may hang in the balance.

Here are five things to keep in mind if you are dealing with a crisis.

1. Communicate with your key audiences

If your company is caught up in a crisis, it’s vital that you stay in touch with your stakeholders. Depending on your business, this may be your funders, your biggest customers, or the people who work for you. It may be all  of the above. But keeping them up to date on developments when a crisis hits shows them that they are important to you, and that you will make the effort to share news with them first — even if the only news you have is that there is no news, yet.

2. Communicate with the media

The media can be a very demanding group when there is a crisis. Often, a company’s desire to respond to a media query can lead managers to comment too broadly on events. If you are not in a position to say anything definitive,  it’s often better to say so, and leave it at that. Keep track of who was in touch, and save that list for later.

3. Meet with your key people, face-to-face

Take time to meet with your management team and get the complete picture of what has happened, and what you can do about it. Face to face meetings are best at this time.

4. Call in specialist PR help

In addition to your management team, you will want to speak to your trusted communications advisors. If you don’t have anyone to help you with communications in a crisis, you may miss out on some simple strategies that will make things much easier. Ask around and get a recommendation if you can. You will  probably want to call in a specialist with experience in crisis communications.

5. When you have something to say, get the word out

It’s also crucial, when you do have something to say, to get the word out. Follow up with the media who were in touch, and let them know your position on events. It’s important to keep the  lines of communication open, but be sure to do it only when you have carefully assessed the situation.

A crisis can make or break a business. Make sure you do everything that is required. When the crisis is over, your company may paradoxically have been strengthened by the storm you have weathered — but only if you have managed it well.

If you need help in a crisis, Bruce Public Relations in Inverness can help — -quickly and effectively. We’ve helped clients in a range of industries to manage crises, and we can help you. Get in touch.

Why it pays to help charities with their PR

Scottish Charity Awards deadline March 26

The deadline for applications is 26 March!

There are only six days until the deadline for applications for the Scottish Charity Awards 2014. If your organisation would like to get involved, click on the link and get your nomination in pronto!

Having worked in PR for two decades, we have worked with literally dozens of charities. It may come as a surprise, but charities can be some of the most creative clients you can have the pleasure to work with. Why? Frequently having with little in the way of financial resources to devote to marketing and PR, charities are often far more willing to take a chance and push the boundaries in their promotion efforts. The results can often be quite outstanding communications initiatives, from inspired outreach activities to attract new supporters, to creating compelling content on social media.

One of the reasons why I believe charities have the capacity for great work is often because they attract talented people who aren’t motivated primarily by financial rewards. The ability to do work that you believe may help to improve the lot of people less well off than yourself — that is a pretty good feeling. And to do it day-in, day-out, rather than as a one-off charity fundraising gig, well, that can be downright inspiring.

So while charities may not be the most lucrative of clients, agencies can often gain as much as they give when agreeing to work with non-profits. Bruce PR is happy to give an hour or two of consulting time to a charity looking for a fresh perspective on their communications. We like working with non-profits, and we particularly like the feeling we get giving something back.

And while  you may not feel ready to apply for a “Cracking Campaign” award for best charity-led campaign, working with a talented PR agency in the weeks and months ahead might just inspire you both to be award-ready in 2015!

If your Highlands and Islands-based charity would like help with its communications, please get in touch by completing our contact form here.

PR for Professional Services: why it’s different marketing the services of solicitors, accountants, architects and engineers

I would never have discovered this Argentinian Tango-Reggae band, if they hadn't been performing on the streets of Buenos Aires

No doubt they would have preferred to stay at home, but then I would never have discovered this Argentinian Tango-Reggae band, Jamaicadeiros, performing on the streets of Buenos Aires — and bought both their CDs!

On Wednesday I attended a networking event organised by the Inverness Chamber of Commerce. This was the second networking lunch I have attended, and I must say, I really enjoy these functions.

The format is simple — a hotel meeting room with several round tables set for lunch. Choose your table and then, after a welcome and introduction by the host — in this instance, Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Stuart Nicol — the formal networking begins. Each person at the table takes a few minutes to introduce themselves and to say a bit about their business. During this time, the first course is served, and then, after the introductions, people chat informally.

Someone in legal services asked me about PR, and said he had just started advertising on radio. I was intrigued to learn that he is using advertising, because many professional services firms prefer not to. Traditionally, firms of solicitors, engineers, architects and accountants have shied away from promoting themselves directly. It has been seen to be a bit brash, and frankly, not their kind of thing. But as competition heats up, and your client base diminishes through attrition, promoting your professional services firm may become a more pressing issue.

While advertising is the obvious choice when people think about getting their company name out there, it’s not the only way to achieve this objective. There are many ways to help raise your company’s profile without taking out an ad in the local paper, or committing to a month of 30-second spots on the radio. One of the most simple and straightforward ways to raise awareness of your business, is to go out and meet people at local business events. You may say, “But I’m an engineer, it’s not my job to network!” and of course, you would be wrong. If it’s not your job, then whose is it?

No one cares more about the survival of your business than you do. Unless you have a monopoly on the service you provide, you should probably consider doing at least one or two things to raise your company’s profile.

Three simple — and crucially, low-key —  things you can do are:

  1. Stay in touch with former clients, using a corporate newsletter to share information about developments in your field — changes in legislation, for example. While you’re at it, you can also use your in-house publication to tell clients past and present about new recruits to your firm, new services you provide, recent contracts you have won, and seasonal information such as filing deadlines or an FAQ about stamp duty. A newsletter can be a very cost-effective way to stay in touch. If you don’t have the expertise in-house, a public relations firm can easily produce this for you. Like media releases, corporate newsletters are our stock-in-trade.
  2. If your industry has an awards scheme, consider how you can take advantage of this. Whilst it takes time to put together a nomination, winning an industry award is a great way to promote your business, and give you an excuse to get in touch with your local media. I can’t recommend it enough.
  3. Attend local business events, and make an effort to speak to people you don’t know. I am a big fan of networking, and you can read my previous blog posts about it here. As a self-admitted “people-person”, I have no fears of speaking to strangers at these events. However, I am in the minority it seems. To get over your reluctance to speak to people you don’t know, try to keep in mind this wonderful saying from Canada: “There are no strangers, only friends we haven’t met yet.”

As you can see, none of the suggestions above requires you to be “too forward”. However each of the tactics I listed will help you to raise your company’s profile with key audiences.

As usual, if you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line using our contact form here, or via Twitter @Bruce_PR.

 

5 simple ways to network more effectively

Networking at an Inverness Chamber of Commerce event, that’s me in the cream jacket on the left.

Like it or not, networking is an important part of your job. Whether you’re an entrepreneur like me, or if you work for a large organisation, getting out and meeting people is important. You should regularly make time for it.

I happen to enjoy networking, but I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Regardless, it’s in your best interest to try to become more comfortable in these kinds of situations.

Here are five simple tips to help you make the most of this opportunity:

  1. Bring business cards. It may seem obvious, but it’s remarkable how many people neglect to ensure they have enough to share around.
  2. Dress your best. It may be superficial, but your appearance says a lot about you and the company you represent. Take the time to make sure you are sending the best message.
  3. Speak to people! The purpose of attending these events is to broaden your social and business networks. Don’t just stand there speaking to people you already know. If you don’t make contact with new people, you may as well have stayed in the office. And remember that many of the people attending the event may also be shy — don’t let this stop you from introducing yourself and asking if they are enjoying themselves.
  4. Remember that people do business with people they know. It sounds simple enough, but you may not have considered it: the more people you know, the more successful your business is likely to be. Networking events are a tremendous opportunity not only to meet new people, but to get reacquainted with people you have met before. A networking event presents the ideal opportunity to develop your relationship with acquaintances.
  5. Follow up! After meeting new people at an event, follow up your initial contact by dropping them a line by email. You could even give them a ring! See if they are on Twitter, and if so, follow them with your business account.

Effective networking is not brain surgery. Like most things that make someone successful, the key is developing a few good habits, and sticking with them.

I must dash now, I want to make sure I look my best for this afternoon’s networking session.

5 ways Bruce Public Relations can help your business. Right now.

Laura Bruce from Bruce Public Relations speaking to a Highland audience about public relations in the age of social media

Laura Bruce from Bruce Public Relations speaking to a Highland audience about public relations in the age of social media

5 reasons to contact Bruce Public Relations:

1. You have just valuable new contract, and want to spread the word.

We would be delighted to get the word out. From announcing a new ship joining the fleet, to the awarding the contract for a multi-million pound hospital, to the opening of a new nursery, Bruce PR has helped clients of all sizes and shapes to share their good news. And we would be delighted to help you share yours.

2. You may soon be on the receiving end of some negative media coverage and you have no idea what to do.

Asking how you came to be in that unfortunate position isn’t going to help much at this point. What you need now is crisis management. And we have expertise in that. With clients in health care, transportation and chemical industries (to name a few), we appreciate that there is a lot that can go wrong. Machines malfunction, people make mistakes. What matters now is what you do about that. If you think this is the kind of help you need, get in touch with us — or another trusted and experienced firm — quickly. The sooner the better. You can thank us later.

3. Your business has grown to a certain point, but you would like to reach the next level.

We can help. In fact, this may be our favourite kind of work. Whilst our stock-in-trade is PR, what we are particularly good at is helping you to see your business with fresh eyes. With nearly twenty years experience helping businesses across dozens of sectors to achieve their objectives, we can often help you to find a new and better way of growing your business.

4. You have heard that this [Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / Insert name of next new channel] thing may be important for your business, but have no idea where to start.

Yes, we can help you with this as well. If social media is something you know you should start doing, we can help you to position your social networking within an overall communications strategy. However, if all you need are a few pointers to set you in the right direction, we can help you with that as well.

5. Your [daughter / nephew / computer technician ] did your company’s website five years ago, but it’s just not what you need today.

From copywriting to press releases to corporate brochures to instruction manuals, writing is something we simply love to do. And if it you would like some help updating your website, creating some fresh material for your blog, or helping create a user-friendly manual for your  product, please get in touch. We would be delighted to help. And if your website needs a makeover, we know some talented designers who can help steer you in the right direction. Together, we can ensure that your website is hitting the right note.

So there you have it. Five ways Bruce Public Relations can help your business. Right now.