Tag Archives: Scotland

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.

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.

3 reasons your business needs a value proposition

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to explain to people what your business does in one sentence?

If you’ve struggled to describe what makes your business unique, then a “value proposition” may be the most important business tool you’ve never heard of.

If even your dog gets bored when you talk about your business, we can help.

If even your dog gets bored when you talk about your business, we can help.

But just because you’re not familiar with it, doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Whether you are considering launching a new enterprise, or if you have an established business, there are many reasons to develop a value proposition.

Here are three quick reasons why your business needs a value proposition.

  1. Your value proposition describes how you create value for your customers. It captures what you offer, and why.
  2. A good value proposition will distinguish you from your competition. It elegantly communicates your USP or “unique selling proposition”.
  3. Whether you provide a product or service, having a strong value proposition is key to winning customers. It helps them to understand why they should buy from you.

In this video, Laura Bruce takes a group through the basics of value proposition design

If you would like to explore how a value proposition will help your business communicate with its audiences, we can help. We offer a half-day value proposition development workshop. At the end of the session, you will leave with a value proposition that captures the value you create for your customers, and explains why they should buy from you.

It may be the best money you’ve ever invested in your business.

Contact Bruce Public Relations in Inverness to schedule a call to discuss. Don’t wait another day, wasting time with marketing copy that doesn’t tell people what problem you solve. Call us now!

Laura Bruce’s top 10 PR tips from two decades in public relations

Bruce Public Relations founder Laura Bruce, on the banks of the River Ness in Inverness

Bruce Public Relations founder Laura Bruce, on the banks of the River Ness in Inverness

To celebrate our 10th anniversary Bruce Public Relations in Inverness is sharing 10 of our “insider tips” to help you boost your organisation’s profile. Remember, if you have really big news to share, speak to a professional about the best ways to get the word out.

In no particular order, here are 10 simple things you can do to ensure your business has an edge when it comes to PR.

  1. Learn to identify what may be newsworthy in your organisation. Are you launching a new service? Introducing a new product to your field? Are you involved in supporting a charity or other cause? All of these things create opportunities to open up dialogue with key audiences. [Hint: it’s not always the media you should be focussed on.}
  2. Identify the most appropriate social media platforms to reach your customers and clients, and establish a presence here. If you aren’t sure which platforms best suit your business, do some homework or speak to a professional for advice.
  3. Keep your website up-to-date. If you haven’t revised your website since it was built, it is probably out of date. Take a good look at it and see what needs freshening up, and make these changes.
  4. If you have news, consider issuing a media release. (If you’re not sure if you need one, contact us.)
  5. Anniversaries and milestones are ideal opportunities to share some news. If you have celebrated your 10th anniversary, or just built your 100th house, let people know.
  6. Share good news with your own team, first. There’s nothing better to build employee relations than treating your staff as “insiders”. Share your news with them, first. They can be great ambassadors for your organisation, and can take pride in your success.
  7. Take photos. You can’t go back in time, so make sure you get them while you can.
  8. Don’t underestimate the power of sharing insights from your industry. People who work outside your field of expertise may be quite interested in your observations. If you are seeing a trend develop, write a blog post for your website, or share your thoughts on LinkedIn.
  9. Make it simple for people to contact your organisation. Whether it’s through your website, by telephone, or over one  or more social platforms, ensure there is a pain-free route to contact you.
  10. Put a company ‘backgrounder’ on your website. It should contain basic information including when the organisation was established, who the principles are, the main products or services you provide, and a link to a contact form for more information. Some organisations do this on their “About” page, while others use a dedicated page for news. Either way, help people who visit your site to get a handle on what you do, and for whom.

Have you found these top 10 tips helpful? If your organisation has decided it’s time to start communicating, contact Bruce Public Relations. We’ll help you identify the most newsworthy information, and then help you communicate it the most appropriate audiences. We’ve been delighting our clients for more than a decade. Isn’t it time you got some PR TLC?

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.

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.

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.