Tag Archives: PR

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.

“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.

The PR you do every day (but may not be aware of!)

Networking events can be pleasant, once you are comfortable speaking. Just ask these three!

Networking events can be pleasant, once you are comfortable speaking. Just ask these three!

It’s a mouthful of a title, but bear with me: as a businessperson, every time you open your mouth, you are doing PR for your business. If this has come as a shock, don’t be discouraged.

What I am getting at, is that your business’s “PR” is not just what you formally do with your PR agency or marketing team. PR is far more than just the sum total of media releases you issue, the social media messaging you send, or the media coverage you generate.

As my late mentor Lou Cahill APR famously said, “You’ve got PR whether you like it or not.”

In essence, what Lou was saying is, you and your business have a reputation. The variable he highlighted, is the degree to which you manage it.

And like it or not, every time you open your mouth, you are contributing to the sum total of that reputation. I was struck by this at the BNI meeting in Inverness last week. I am a founder member of BNI Highland; BNI is a worldwide business networking organisation founded by Dr Ivan Misner. Something that I immediately realised is that the group’s format of a 60-second presentation by each member — at every meeting, every week — is something that strikes fear into a number of would-be members.

What I am noticing however, is that after even two or three meetings, some member’s presentation skills are improving. They are becoming more at ease with speaking to the group about their business. Some [read: Hamish Malcolm, Grant] are even making the most of these “mini-pitches” by incorporating humour and using inventive props. Well done to them!

They may not realise it, but each member’s incremental improvements in their weekly pitch, results in an improvement in their business’s PR, because we all go away with an improved image of their firm. Woefully, the converse is equally true: people who mumble their way through a pitch, speak too quietly or never get to the point are not doing their own, or their business’s, reputation any favours.

If the thought of making a 60-second pitch about your business fills you with dread, then Toastmasters is the place to replace your fear with confidence, and get the skills to make sure you communicate effectively. You’ll have the unexpected benefit of making some new friends as well.

But remember, every time you open your mouth, you are contributing to your business’s reputation. You owe it to yourself to do the best you can. If you haven’t got the skills to do the job well, the onus is on you to get them. Your business deserves it. Don’t let it down.

Toastmasters Inverness is hosting a social evening Wednesday 17th June at 7pm at the Glen Mhor Hotel in Inverness. If you are interested in learning more about the group, go along for dinner and to get a feel for what the group offers. Membership in Toastmasters may be the best, most cost-effective investment you can make in your business! Click here to find out more about the dinner Wednesday evening.

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.

Did you know it was Women’s Entrepreneurship Day?

Untitled design (1)I didn’t. I am a woman, and an entrepreneur, but I had no idea about this celebration of women’s enterprise. That is, until my pal Nicky Marr posted on Facebook about being included in a compendium of women entrepreneurs published on the Women’s Enterprise Scotland website here.

According to their website:

WES plays a vital role in the promotion of women’s enterprise, through the media, and across the wider community. We provide spokeswomen, role models and contributors for the broadcast media and the press, for events, conferences, seminars and presentations.

We champion women-led business from every sector across the entire country. We challenge existing perceptions to gain recognition of the economic importance of all women’s enterprise, whether micro business, SME or stock market listed multinational.

We encourage courage, confidence and self-belief that women-led business is a positive, rewarding and achievable option for women everywhere, no matter the scale of their enterprise ambition. And we cheer on those agencies already providing gender specific business development, and cite best practice wherever we find it.

We’re active digitally, and use social media and online platforms to promote women’s enterprise, to share information and learn from each other.

#WESchampions

They sound like a great organisation, but I hadn’t heard about them, either!

And then it struck me: the problem with entrepreneurship — besides the difficulty I have spelling it correctly — is that as an entrepreneur, running a (thankfully!) busy business, I am not on their radar. (I did get in touch with them subsequently, to do just that.)

So, not only did I not know about WES, I also wasn’t aware of the global celebration that is Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. Apparently, it’s a very big deal. Complete with a huge global sponsor (and former client), pwc. Here’s a link to the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day website: http://www.womenseday.org and a hashtag: #WomensEDay.

This whole thing of not being aware of something that is specifically targeted at you brings home the awareness that, when you are busy running your own business *and* haven’t sought public funding to start or perpetuate that business, you simply aren’t going to be on the mailing lists for a lot of things that people in the public sector may be aware of. That is to say, the very people trying to target you, are not aware of you.

I am delighted that Nicky Marr is part of my network. Here's the two of us with her gold medal at a recent networking event in Inverness

I am delighted that Nicky Marr is part of my network. Here’s the two of us with her gold medal at a recent networking event in Inverness

Which brings me to my point: the importance of networking. I never would have heard about Women’s Enterprise Scotland today if I hadn’t been a part of Nicky’s network. Hopefully, having now contacted them, and tweeted about Women’s Enterprise Day, they will know about me. Moreover, my network of Twitter followers and followers of our Bruce PR Facebook page will also become aware of this organisation. Because ultimately, it’s up to every one of us to help our fellow entrepreneurs get a hand up. So after this post is published, I will also put it on LinkedIn, where — ideally —  another group of fellow entrepreneurs will also see it.

Happy Women’s Entrepreneurs Day everyone! And thanks Nicky!

“Marketing tips in the digital age” – Tip #1: give it away

Pen, notebook and laptop: the keys to success

One of the best ways to establish your expertise is to share your insights

There’s an intriguing paradox in this age of digital media. The best way to establish yourself as a professional, is to give away your insights for free.

Confused? Don’t be. All the articles you read on LinkedIn? They are full of advice. “How to establish your personal brand”, “Ten secrets of powerful presentations”, “How to make the most of meetings” — it’s all advice, and most of us are quite keen to review it and incorporate any new information. What we may not realise, however, is that our enthusiasm for this information has created a tremendous demand for content. And the paradox is that by being willing to give away advice, you have the opportunity to establish yourself as an authority in your field.

In the old days of PR, when people read newspapers and listened to the radio, one of the best ways to get exposure was for your client to write an advice column or be a guest on a phone-in show. This format is perfect for people in professions — and in particular, accountants, financial planners, and solicitors. They have the expertise, and typically know their stuff inside-out. “Year-end tax tips”, “Ten ways to reduce inheritance tax”, “What you need to know about Power of Attorney” — these are the sort of topics that have a wide audience in a local newspaper. By authoring the piece, the accountant or solicitor would get some exposure.  With each monthly column, she would establish herself as an authority in her field. When a new piece of legislation came along, who did the local paper turn to for insight? Their own local expert.

Fast-forward to 2014. Has anything changed? Not really. We are all still looking for ways to be successful, to make more money, to save more money, to be more effective in our roles, and to have a bigger impact. Which means there is still a role for advice columns and sharing professional tips and suggestions. The only thing that has changed, is how this advice is dispensed.

Today, you don’t need the regional editor of the local paper to agree to publish your monthly column. You publish it yourself. On your website, on your blog, in your e-newsletter to clients, on LinkedIn — there are now more outlets for your “content” than ever. The only proviso? Your advice must be sound, and ideally, well-written.

And keep in mind — you don’t have to be a professional to have valuable advice. Not everyone is focussed on business. Some people are interested in their gardens. Or their homes. Or baking. Or electronics. If you have a specialism, you can bet there is an audience for your advice.

So whatever your business, if you want to raise your or your company’s profile, start sharing your insights. Before you know it, you may find out you’re an expert in your field.

If you’d like to become better known in your field, contact Bruce Public Relations in Inverness. We have a wealth of expertise in this area, and we would be happy to share it with you.

The £Million Pound Slogan – but what did Tesco pay?

You shop. We drop.

“You shop. We drop.” Tesco’s grocery-delivery slogan has stood the test of time.

“You shop. We drop.”

Developed about ten years ago to promote their then-new grocery home-delivery service, Tesco’s “You shop. We drop” is one of the best slogans of recent years. You see it every time you pass one of their lorries on the motorway, or your neighbours get a delivery. It makes several million impressions each day across the UK.

But: what did it cost them? 

It would be difficult to quantify the value to Tesco of such a powerful and effective slogan. And yet, someone, somewhere, did. Someone in an agency billed Tesco for that brilliant piece of work. But I reckon they didn’t charge near enough what it’s true value was. Which brings us to today’s topic: “value billing”.

Working in PR and marketing, every now and then you or one of your team has a stroke of brilliance: a bit of work, a slogan or a strategy, that is second-to-none.

Unless you’ve agreed otherwise, billing the client for that brilliant piece of work means simply billing them the agreed hourly rate for your services. In certain instances, however, “value-billing” is a much better proposition. Value billing is where the amount billed is based on the value of the service (or information) instead of the number of hours spent.

Saving you thousands: what’s it worth?

Let’s say your accountant gives you some advice that saves you several thousand pounds. You would not mind getting a bill for a few thousand in that instance, even if it only took them a few minutes to pass along the information. You’re paying for the value of the information, not the time it took to generate it.

Value-billing is a practise adopted by some law firms and accounting firms, and the occasional PR or marketing consultancy. It’s described in detail in the book Winning Alternatives to the Billable Hour: Strategies that Work by Mark A. Robertson and James A. Calloway (2008: American Bar Association).

The important thing if you are considering adopting value billing is to be certain that you can deliver the goods. Once you are confident of that, take steps to put an arrangement in place to bill on a value-basis.

I have come up with dozens of slogans for clients and campaigns, some of them still being used more than a dozen years later. Tesco has gotten millions of pounds of value from their “You shop. We drop” slogan, and I hope one day to come up with a cracker like that. Most of all, though, I hope I’m working on a “value-billing” basis when I do!

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.

6 common website errors SMEs make and how to avoid them

How many Joes are there?

If this sign looks fine to you, then keep reading

Most business owners would agree that a website is a must for our business. More than just giving us a presence in Internet searches, our website allows potential customers to learn more about our products and services. It also enables them to get a feel for who we are and what we do. A quality site encourages potential customers to get in touch; a poor site loses them at the first hurdle.

It’s surprising how many SMEs miss out on the basics when it comes to their website.

While large organisations typically have a team of people devoted to ensuring the business’s website is functioning effectively, the majority of small- and medium-sized businesses don’t allocate any resources to their website once it’s up and running. And that can be a costly omission. Whether it’s hard to find or is filled with grammatical or spelling errors, if your website isn’t up to scratch it is sending the wrong message, and whether or not you realise it, your business is paying the price.

Here are my top six website mistakes SMEs make, and how you can avoid them:

  1. Your website copy is full of spelling and grammatical errors.  Losing customers because you are offering “Marketing Tip’s”? Don’t know your “their” from “there”? Poor writing on your site says “We can’t be bothered.” When I see grammatical errors on a site, I always wonder what else they are getting wrong. Ensure the writing on your website is competent. If writing isn’t your thing, ask someone who writes for a living to quality-assure the copy on your site. There are lots of talented PR and marketing people who can tidy up your website content. It won’t cost a fortune, and it help to ensure your site conveys a professional image to visitors.
  2. Your website is hard to find. There is nothing more frustrating that trying to find a business you know exists, but whose website exists somewhere in the ether due to an overly complex URL. My advice: If you can’t get a straightforward domain name, consider changing your business name.
  3. There’s no phone number or email address. There’s no point having a website if you don’t provide easy-to-find contact information. Give people a telephone number or an email address, at the very least. And don’t bury this information. Put it on your homepage. In fact, put it at the top of your homepage, in a large font! If you don’t want to list your email address because you are tired of getting spam, install a contact form. And if you are sick of getting those automated PPI-claims phone calls, you should also be judicious about listing your mobile number.
  4. Your business name doesn’t say what you do. It may seem obvious to you, but to someone new to the community, “Dewey, Cheatham and Howe” does not necessarily scream “firm of solicitors!” or “quantity surveyors!”. There are hundreds of businesses whose business name is the surname of two or three of its principals, or worse, two or three of its long-dead founders. You don’t have to change your business name, but it is helpful to put “Quantity Surveyors”, “Chartered Accountants”, “Architects” or “Solicitors” after your name. Doing this on your website header will help to ensure that your firm comes up in an Internet search. It will also ensure that your site visitors know they have arrived at the right place.
  5. It’s all text and no visuals. Set yourself apart from other similar businesses by using real photos of real people. Even better, include photos of local landmarks on your site. This helps to root your business in the local community, and that is ideal if that is your main trading area. If you haven’t got decent photos, commission some from a local photographer. If you can’t afford to buy-in photography, source some royalty-free professional photographs. Your site visitors will appreciate it.
  6. There is out of date content on your homepage. Did you do a promotion for Christmas? If it’s January and a smiling image of Santa still greeting your visitors, you are sending the wrong message. If you can’t be judicious about updating your homepage, consider hiring in someone to tidy it up for you on a regular basis. Even if you only update it once a quarter, it enables you to say something timely, and your visitors will appreciate it.

I hope you have found that useful. And if you see Joe, please ask him to give us a ring.

Does your website need a bit of tidying up? There is nothing we enjoy more at Bruce Public Relations than a wee bit of editing! (Check our handbags — you’ll find a red marker!) We can edit your website in a jiffy and we promise it won’t cost you a fortune. Get in touch and we will give you an estimate pronto!

New Year’s Resolution: Incorporate Social Media into your organisation’s communications

Social Media icons

Whether it’s Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Pinterest — what matters is that you start

Is using social media one of your organisation’s goals for 2014? If so, read on.

In only a few short years, social media has become a priority for our clients. Gone are the days when your Twitter account was something you did for a bit of fun. Today, Twitter is an important business tool. And it is the same with LinkedIn and Facebook.

Maximising your company’s presence on social media

Many companies find themselves feeling pressurised about using social media. If you feel you are playing catch-up when it comes to social media, take a step back and consider what you hope to achieve. Bruce Public Relations can help you to incorporate social media into your overall communications strategy. What’s that? You haven’t got a communications strategy? Well, we can help you with that as well. It’s what we do.

Understanding the fit between social media and PR

For many companies, the urge to “get on” social media leads to a series of false starts. Somebody created an account, but no one is managing it. Worse, no one has considered how it will fit within your existing corporate communications. There are some important questions to ask, before you get too far along.

Five things you and your colleagues should consider before embarking on social media:

  1. Who will manage our social media accounts?
  2. What is our social media policy?
  3. What do we hope to achieve with social media?
  4. What about traditional PR? Do we still need that?
  5. How much time should we devote to social media?

Get a free social media audit from Bruce PR

Social media can be an important business development tool. To help you develop a social media strategy that suits your company’s objectives, drop us a line. We offer a free social media audit for UK and Ireland-based organisations. This can help you understand where you currently sit vis a vis your competition, and how you can set your organisation apart with some specialist advice.

Please note that our free audits will be conducted beginning in February 2013. If you feel you need assistance more urgently, please get in touch and we can discuss your needs more promptly.