Tag Archives: strategy

Why we’re the most expensive PR firm in the north of Scotland

I use to say we were the most experienced PR firm in the north of Scotland. But I recently adjusted that. I now describe us as the most expensive PR firm in the north of Scotland.

When we first started up, we use to compete, loosely, on price. But the clients we got typically didn’t appreciate what we could do for them, and often, despite getting them great results [read: excellent media coverage, strategy insights, positioning wins] the next time they had something to announce they’d make us compete all over again.

Those aren’t the clients we want to work with. “Love them what love you” is our ethos now.

There are some things money can buy.

There are some things money can buy.

We are a PR firm, yes, but we are also stupendously creative business advisors, and talented copywriters, with experience and connections far and wide. We can put you in touch with someone halfway across the world you would never otherwise have encountered. We can develop a value proposition that will earn your business hundreds of thousands of pounds. We can craft the story of your business into the compelling tale it should be — something you simply don’t have the time or expertise to do.

We won’t compete on price. But the clients we have the pleasure of serving don’t complain about our fees. They are happy to pay them.

If you’d like to engage in something far more than a public relations exercise, give us a bell.

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?

Why we’re generalists (and why you should be too!)

I just got off the phone. I was speaking to a man with a booming new business, who’s looking to raise the profile of his firm. He asked, “Have you got a package you can offer me?” I told him no, we don’t. I explained that each client’s situation is unique, each looking for a particular outcome or set of outcomes, and so we don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to PR, or anything else.

The prevailing thought for consultants is to find a niche and dig deep. There’s a lot to be said for being an expert in a particular area.

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However, there’s an equally strong argument for having a broad range of skills, and avoiding being pigeon-holed. Let me explain.

With the downturn in the oil industry (which I believe is temporary — but that’s a subject for another day), PR and other firms devoted to serving the oil industry are being hit — and hard. For our colleagues around Aberdeen, it’s been clear for some time that things are on a downward trajectory. Their response to this has been to cast their nets a bit wider, and see if they can find work in other industries. So the first reason to take a generalist approach is because it protects you from the vagaries of one particular industry.

There’s a second reason Bruce Public Relations takes a generalist approach to PR. And it’s not because we aren’t specialists in what we do. It’s more enjoyable to work with a broad range of clients. And the bonus is: we are able to parlay the wisdom we gained from working with a diverse range of clients, to a broad range of client needs. By never having specialised exclusively in health care  — or petroleum — or IT —  or tourism — we have become adept at seeing the common threads in our clients’ situations, and addressing wide-ranging demands with tried and true principles.

So no, we haven’t got an off-the-shelf package to sell you. But if you want a solution that is tailored to fit your business and its particular needs, I am pretty certain we can help.

If that is the kind of thinking that would benefit your business, please get in touch. We help a small number of exceptional businesses to improve their performance. Can we help you? There’s one way to find out: get in touch today.

 

There’s more to successful networking than meets the eye (but not much more!)

A recent networking event hosted by Highland Business Women was hugely popular

A recent networking event hosted by Highland Business Women was hugely popular

During a break at a workshop last autumn, I was introduced to a man who provides a service my business requires and that I had been wondering how I would address. I was delighted to meet him. “Excellent timing!” I said, “Have you got a card?” He confessed he didn’t have any with him, so I gave him mine and he promised to follow up. It’s been three months, and I haven’t heard a peep. Unable to progress the sales process with him, I will look elsewhere. More than simply losing my business, he’s also lost out on accessing my extensive network of contacts.

Tip: if you want to reap the rewards of networking, Pick up the phone and follow up with a new contact

Tip: if you want to reap the rewards of networking, Pick up the phone and follow up with a new contact

How many times have you come away from a networking event loaded down with new business cards . . . but without any plan to do anything with them? You return to your office, and empty your pockets. Maybe you put an elastic band around the newly-collected cards before throwing them in your desk drawer. Perhaps you look up one of two of the people you just met on LinkedIn, maybe even send an email. Either way, I am sure you would agree, your follow-up could be characterised as a bit hit or miss.

When it comes to building an effective network, making a new contact is – literally – just the beginning. It’s what you do with that contact that determines whether the relationship will bear fruit. The problem is, you’ve no way of knowing at this stage, which contacts will lead anywhere.

Two years ago I attended a seminar on being more productive. I didn’t realise it at the time, but a handful of the attendees would become key members of my network. Four have become good friends, and two have become clients.

I didn’t attend the event with a plan. In retrospect, it was sheer luck than enabled me to transform these initial contacts into what are now close working relationships. What I am recommending to you is that you do not leave it to chance. Be purposeful. Do something systematic in the wake of these occasions, something that will ensure that each event becomes a catalyst to enrich and extend your personal network. What I urge you to do, is to follow up.

Not everyone you meet will become a client. Not everyone you encounter will be in a position to give you a job. But everyone you come across has the capacity to be of assistance to you – if they are so inclined.

To make the most of networking, start by shifting your thinking about the duration of the networking event. The conference or course or seminar – it doesn’t end when you leave the room. I propose that you’re not truly finished with it until you have captured the information on the business cards you collected, and done something with it.

Getting a business card and leaving it on your desk is akin to planting a seed, but not watering it. You’ve taken the first step by meeting someone and asking for their card. That effort will be meaningless unless you take the next step.

What I am suggesting is that there’s more to successful networking than meets the eye – but not that much more.

Let’s say you attend an event which lasts an hour and a half. You’ve already invested 90 minutes, not including travel time. I would wager that it will only take another 15 minutes – 30 minutes at the most – to dramatically boost the effectiveness of that initial 90-minute investment.

By spending just 15 minutes on follow-up – less time than it probably took to travel to and from the event – to send an email or a connection request, you have catapulted your initial investment to the next level, and are now in the arena where that investment has the potential to pay dividends. It’s once the follow-up is complete, that you have set the stage for something to develop with a contact you have made. It’s the watering after the planting, that will ensure that this new relationship has the conditions to grow.

As you can see, being an effective and successful networker only requires a marginal additional input of energy. Don’t let yourself down by not closing the circle after your next networking event. Proper follow-up will ensure that you not only extend your network, but that you get the maximum benefit from the time and money you invest in attending business events.

P.S. Next time you go to an event, make sure you bring more cards than you think you will require.

Laura Bruce is the founder of Bruce Public Relations Ltd. A talented networker, she would be happy to help you maximise the benefit of your networking.

“Sex and Social Media”: gender differences & participation in social technology

According to Diana Nyad, women are learning to leverage the power they hold in social media (http://womensvoicesforchange.org/wed-5-13.htm)

Recent research suggests women are learning to leverage the power they hold in social media (image source: Women’s Voices for Change)

Marketers looking to make the most of social media would do well to understand the unique ways in which each gender interacts with each platform. This was the message from David Sim at a recent Highland Social event in Inverness.

Organised by Michelle Russell of Snow Marketing, Highland Social events bring together people working in social media, as well as those looking to learn more about the landscape as they dip a toe into using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo or any of the other social platforms.

Belying its risqué title, Sim’s breakfast talk, “Sex and Social Media”, examined gender differences in the way men and women use social media. It was a salutary message for anyone hoping to make the most of the time they invest into social media — for themselves, and for their clients.

David Sim from Open Brolly, with Jo Adams, left, at Highland Social

David Sim from Open Brolly, with Jo Adams, left, at Highland Social

Sim is a project director and co-founder at OpenBrolly. He designs bespoke web and mobile systems, and project-manages their implementation.

Science, he said, has shown that women have a deeper interest in people and relationships, generally speaking, whereas men are more preoccupied with practicalities and logical deduction. Our respective use of today’s social technology is a prime example of how these differences are manifest.

Men, David said, see business as highly competitive, and can be disappointed when they don’t see an immediate benefit from their “investment” in social media. Women on the other hand, are more interested in forming lasting relationships, and look to social media to share experiences with people. Women are disappointed when companies just talk about themselves. As women are a key audience for many brands, this insight is important for marketers attempting to reach us.

David had some interesting statistics:

  • 16% of adults have a Twitter account; 62% of Twitter users are women.
  • On Facebook, 58% of users are female. Women comment more on Facebook, while men tend to “lurk”. Both men and women have more female friends on Facebook.
  • Pinterest, David described as a “magnet for women”: it has the same number of users as Twitter, but 70% of them are women. Women see it as a form of window shopping.
  • YouTube has a slightly higher percentage of male users, at 54%. However, as 25% of men watch a YouTube video daily, it is a great platform to reach them.
  • Like YouTube, LinkedIn also has an audience of slightly more men than women, with 54% of users being male.

Social media provides us with a great deal — from education, to entertainment, to sharing personal experiences. What social media research tells us is that how you present your content is crucial. Depending on what audience you are after, you may be better off trying to create a dialogue, rather than presenting “Top Tips”.

Hearing David’s insights, it occurred to me that even SMEs and small local businesses should  consider a multi-platform approach to their social media activities to make the most of each sex’s way of interacting with social media.

Who makes the decision about whether to use or even investigate your client’s services or product in the average household? News that women — despite earning 60% less than men, on average — control the majority of discretionary spending, means that reaching them is paramount for your social media activities to be successful.

Understanding what women are interested in is a good first step to creating a dialogue on social media. But it’s only the beginning. The capacity to create good content, coupled with a comprehensive communications strategy, is the formula for long-term success when it comes to social media management.

If you would like some help reaching your audiences — with social media or traditional media — please get in touch.

“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.

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.