Mind your own business

NEWSLINE MEDIA LIMITED

No-one likes other people getting involved in their business, whether professional or personal, but it seems that some just can’t help themselves….and dare I say it, in recent times, Aberdeen’s business community has developed a terrible reputation for spreading unwarranted rumours about competitors.

I get it, it’s a tough market out there but when I hear about a client’s competitor telling people they’ve gone into administration so they can steal contracts or advisors in a local business support organisation telling their clients that someone they’ve engaged is expensive compared to others in the market, it is nothing short of underhand, dirty politics.

We’ve all faced ‘interesting’ times for the past few years, however, I recall at the very start of the downturn one of our most highly respected local businessmen, Sir Ian Wood, called for ‘collaboration’ and encouraged companies to work together for survival.

That word ‘collaboration’ has been misconstrued by some as cut throat, an opportunity to dispose of competitors and a green light to ditch business morals. Well, shame on you.

Having managed my business for ten years, I have never bad mouthed my competitors and never approached my competitors’ clients and this is a moral that I have instilled in every single person that has been in my Frasermedia team over the years. I always think that keeping an eye on your own business and looking ahead is much more profitable than looking over your shoulder at what your competitors are doing. Simply put, mind your own business!

If, like one of our clients, you do find yourself the subject of this dirty Aberdeen politics, there’s nothing like a good bit of PR and a brand awareness boost, which will not only make your nemesis look foolish, it will likely attract new clients more interested in your services than what your competitors are saying.

But don’t shoot from the hip with your PR and don’t try to do it yourself to save money. We’re all trying to make savings but PR is about company reputation and if you value that then you should place value on any PR that you do to promote your brand.

We work with all of our clients on a regular basis ensuring we are rolling out consistent, positive messages and they all have various budgets so it’s not a one size fits all.

So, when I say, ‘mind your own business’, I mean keep an eye on your own ball and don’t get into playing games with your competitors as someone will lose and you risk it being you!

Instead, focus on your own score sheet, focus on raising your profile and continuing to build your own reputation to attract new business. Point scoring is a loser’s game and no-one likes being a loser!

 

Gloves off – win votes against your opposition with the politics of PR

pick me

It took us all by surprise as we were plunged into election countdown, now we’re in the height of vote winning fever before the country goes to the polls and business leaders should sit up and take note of the politics of PR.

As politicians literally scramble to get their campaigns off the ground, it’s a lesson that your business PR campaign should always be ready for action, well prepared, planned and then executed to perfection.

Let’s face it, no-one wants to be a step behind their competitors, everyone wants to be in Theresa May’s position…top of the tree, ahead of the game and surprising your opposition.

As we begin to feel some cautious, positive changes in the North-east market everyone in business will be beginning to tentatively consider improving their brand awareness and you don’t want to be last to the party.

In the run up to the election, every party will be on the charm offensive and, sometimes the defensive, but in business, there’s no need to pose with a baby or throw your competitor under the bus. There’s nothing wrong with taking the gloves off but be sure your campaign to raise your brand is more perfectly manicured than bare knuckled.

Rather than winning votes, any PR campaign should be aimed at securing new clients and like the election campaign, you have to blow your own trumpet to get the results.

When it comes to choosing the best PR person for your business, it’s identical to an election with everyone trying to convince you they’re the best person for the job!

So, how do you separate the facts from the fiction and choose the best spin doctor for your business?

  • Ensure they have vast skills and expertise in their trade and they’re not just doing their own PR job
  • Don’t just listen to their self proclaimed PR puff, ask for evidence of successful client work
  • Media contacts, aka the PR pro black book, is essential for any good communications expert. It’s who you know after all!
  • Ensure they are well informed & up-to-date with industry news & competitors as they will be better placed to generate ideas to raise your profile
  • Make sure they are passionate about what they do and have a genuine interest in building your business. They should want to become part of your team and not just be interested in their fee.
  • They should be asking the right questions about your business goals and KPIs as any PR campaign should be aligned to help you deliver your goals
  • Finally, make sure they have a personality! You have to work closely with this person and share your vision, so you must be able to trust them and get on well with them. You should be in for the long term not the short term.

As a business, you don’t have the deadline of a looming election and, unlike politicians, you shouldn’t just be focussing on raising your profile when you’re trying to beat the competition.

You can’t create a brand profile overnight, it should be an on-going strategic plan in action and if you are always focussed on building your reputation, you will always be that step ahead of your opposition and in a good position to react when you’re vying against them to secure a potential client’s vote of favour.

Don’t be like a politician and bring out your best side every few years, invest in your brand profile and let your qualities shine all the time to help secure on-going business victories and the leaders position in your field.

Want to grow your brand and sales painfully slowly? Perfect, invest peanuts to hire a monkey!

By Pauline Fraser

monkey

How much do you think Richard Branson invests in PR? How much do you think Apple spends on its brand? How much do you think Nike devotes to marketing?

Ok, I hear you, these are all massive brands with enormous budgets but there is one thing for sure, they all started from nothing and I would bet my bottom dollar they were all smart enough to recognise the benefits of trusting experienced professionals to help them grow.

PR should not just increase your profile, it is way more important than that. It develops your brand reputation in the market, it increases interest in your product or service and, ultimately, it grows your sales.

No black art, no voodoo magic, no spin doctors, no confusing graphs and charts promising you the world, it should just support your plans to help grow your sales and increase your customers.

In my time I’ve heard it all – “We’ve got someone that manages our PR for £200 a month”, “We’ve added PR to the receptionist’s role”, “Our web developer is doing our PR and marketing”, “My 14 year old daughter is doing our social media”, “Our IT guy is communications, no?”

At this point, picture the eyes covered monkey emoji… which brings me nicely onto the subject… invest peanuts to hire a monkey.

Take thirty seconds now to think how much your brand is worth? Brand is everything, image is everything and how you portray yourself to the world is the difference between success and failure.

Let me give you three examples;

  • One client worked in a Portakabin with 20 staff when we started working with them in 2013, they’re now in a new £500k headquarters, have increased their staff to 80+ and are listed in The London Stock Exchange 1000 Companies to Inspire.
  • In 2010 we launched a service for another award-winning client and they have seen vast success and growth and have always been committed to regular PR. They recently invested £2.2m rolling out the service across the central belt which increased their customer base from 600 to 7000.
  • We look after a consumer client which launched a store in January 2017 and they now have around 1800 customers per week, more than 6000 Facebook followers and an average of 6K+ views on Facebook lives.

And the best thing about all of those examples… they are all still clients. Why? The results.

So, you’ll never tap into expertise like this for a £200 investment, but if you do invest in expertise you’ll be the one reaping the benefits in your sales.

And that brings me back to the headline… if you want to be frustrated in the growth of your brand, go ahead and hire the cheapest on the market.

But I’ll leave you to ponder this famous quote, “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur”.

The benefits of a PR Pro working in-house

NEWSLINE MEDIA LIMITED

Difficult times calls for new measures

Cutting back on overheads and staff numbers is a common occurrence in the North-east at the moment, with many firms operating at the bare minimum and employees’ skillsets being stretched across a variety of different duties and responsibilities.

What we have witnessed time and time again is the lack of resource in a company’s marketing department when times are tough. We have even witnessed firms asking admin staff, who have no PR or marketing experience, to update their social media pages or manage their PR and marketing activity.

However, if there is one thing you shouldn’t scrimp on in this competitive climate, it’s your marketing budget; how do you expect customers to engage with you if you are not making the effort to communicate with them? And is your company reputation worth so little that you wouldn’t invest in a professional to manage it?

There may not necessarily be a budget to employ a full time marketing or PR manager on an annual salary, yet it is worth exploring other options for the sake of your brand’s reputation and growth.

We have seen a number of our clients looking for more internal support to help with their communications activity. This flexible in-house consultancy basis allows us to essentially become the client’s own internal marketing and PR Pro, providing them with an in-house resource without the large cost in these difficult times.

Whether this is for a few days a month, or a couple of times a week, different clients have different requirements and this is why it has to be a flexible approach, where we can use the time effectively to soak up all the information needed to carry out a campaign or pick up on news stories worth communicating externally to key stakeholders.

The proof is in the pudding  

Early last year, one of our account managers covered maternity leave for a client’s marketing manager a couple of days a week. A logical decision made by the client, who wasn’t looking to employ someone on a fixed term to fill this role. Having managed the PR for this client for some time, our account manager was also already equipped with the background knowledge of the company to carry out the job effectively, which meant less training was required, thus saving the client time and money.

The partnership was mutually beneficial, as the client now had a competent marketer and PR Pro working internally for them, whilst we were learning more and more about the client, resulting in more effective campaign planning.

Benefits from this in-house approach include:

  • Insight – having a PR Pro working for you internally allows them to soak up all the information, business chatter and projects taking place in order to suggest the best marketing/PR approach to take, or which news stories to push out externally – things that may often be missed otherwise.
  • Budget – working in-house allows us to gain a better understanding of the client’s quarter/annual marketing budget, any planned up-coming business developments or projects, and how PR can complement these.
  • Empathy – Gaining an internal perspective enables us to empathise with certain aspects of the client’s/marketing manager’s role, such as any pressures they face internally or with the board, as well as the steps they have to take for the approval process, enabling us to work to deadlines more efficiently.
  • Planning – This inside knowledge helps to plan PR & marketing campaigns better, by knowing the ins and outs of the client’s upcoming projects, who they are in talks with for potential business, the sectors they are focussing on and their overarching strategy for the year ahead.
  • Accurate judgements – Having a bird’s eye view of the long-term strategy allows us to make accurate decisions in terms of using the correct promotional tactics to promote a product/service or enhance the brand. Whether this is using online platforms such as social media to create a targeted approach, or hosting an event to speak to an exclusive audience, we can advise, plan, implement and measure the campaign idea from start to finish.
  • Social media – The planning, creation, management and distribution of social media content is a standard service we offer as a communications agency, however we have come to notice that this works a lot more effectively when the social media manager is operating in the client’s environment. Working internally means that we can talk to various members of staff to pick up on potential stories and take photos of people and things to use as part of a social media content strategy, without missing a beat.

If you would like to find out more about our in-house consultancy services and how we can assist you with your PR and marketing activity, we would love to hear from you!

Just drop us an email at info@frasermedia.co.uk or call 01224 857999 to find out how you can use our expertise to enhance your brand’s reputation and help make you stand out from the crowd.

Oh sh*t, I wasn’t prepared for that!

NEWSLINE MEDIA LIMITED

One of the most talked about videos that rocketed to viral stardom last week was a professor’s live BBC interview being perfectly gate-crashed by his children bursting into the room.

Professor Robert Kelly, an expert on Korean politics, literally became an Internet sensation within hours as the video was shared (and enjoyed) globally across social media channels.

Now, I have no doubt that Prof Kelly is skilled in the old media interview and, like any good interviewee, had spent some time preparing for his live slot, but sometimes those best laid plans can’t cover every eventuality.

However, with his cool and calm exterior and a little bit of a smile thrown in, his reaction to the unrehearsed situation was perfect before returning seamlessly to discussing the more serious issue of the impeachment of South Korea’s president Park Geun-hye.

It was a great demonstration that live interviews, whether on television or radio, do not always go to plan but it absolutely highlighted the importance of preparation.

Having media trained a wide range of leaders from oil and gas professionals to airport staff, bookmakers and even the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, I can assure you there is one key element in media interviews that is crucial across the board. Whatever your industry, whatever your subject and no matter how many times you’ve done it before, preparation is a must.

As a former broadcast journalist, I would have been relieved at Prof Kelly’s relaxed reaction to the impromptu additional guests and as a media professional who manages company reputations, I would have been satisfied that his professionalism won him fans rather than ridicule, hence saving his reputation.

That is a lesson to be learned by any professional facing the media. If you are faced with a difficult situation, or indeed difficult questions, your approach has the potential to either boost or ruin your organisation’s reputation. And reputation is priceless.

During our interactive media training sessions, we put our delegates through their paces, we put them out of their comfort zone and we challenge them to improve their performance, but I can guarantee that every single person who invests in media training leaves feeling much more confident in their abilities to deal with difficult situations.

Be prepared sits at the very top of my recommendation list in media training. The more prepared you are, even if something goes wrong or you are interrupted by impromptu guests, you will very quickly be able to get back on track and focus on delivering your key messages.

An invitation to represent your organisation professionally in the media can be a fantastic PR opportunity but if you are ill prepared it could leave your company’s reputation in tatters.

As they say, it takes years to build a reputation and seconds to destroy it and with today’s fast paced online media world, you really don’t want to become an Internet sensation, like Prof Kelly, but for the wrong reasons! 

Be confident. Be calm. Be trained by Frasermedia.

A business with no signs is a sign of no business

pauline

With activity down in Aberdeen, many businesses are continuing to cut their costs to try to ride the downturn wave, but Frasermedia managing director, Pauline Fraser, says a firm’s marketing or PR budget should actually be the last, not the first to go.

There is no doubt that times are tough in the north-east, with every expenditure under scrutiny, but when it comes to keeping a business going, firms need to stop looking inward and start talking to the outside world. Cutting your PR expenditure or marketing budget is not going to help your business grow, in fact, it is likely to see your turnover decline.

If your competitor is active on social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and has a regular presence in the media, the potential customer may opt for the business which looks like it is in business!

The more you put your business profile and brand building on hold, the more you stop surging forward and developing your brand and your reputation, and most importantly the more you stop communicating with the one element that will ensure your survival … your customers.

In good times, business owners know that PR is not a luxury but a necessity. And that doesn’t change when times are bad. In fact PR becomes more important than ever. Do you want your customers to wonder if you have gone out of business? Pulling the plug on communicating with your customers could see your efforts slip down the drain.

If you have reduced your marketing spend as a reaction to the economic conditions, take some time to think about what impact this will have further down the line. Just ask yourself – if nobody knows about my business, how can I expect them to pick up the phone or visit my website? If your answer is still to drastically reduce communications, be sure to switch the lights off on the way out.

Clever business owners know that an economic downturn is precisely the time to harness the power of PR to raise your profile and your marketing game. While your competitors hunker down and cut promotional budgets, this opens up an opportunity for your brand to jump in and grab valuable customer attention.

Making sure your key messages are promoted in the right market at the right time, is where PR experts earn their keep. It’s not about bragging about how well you are doing – instead good PR focuses on increasing your profile and building a reliable reputation. A proactive PR and marketing plan will find creative ways to showcase your innovative ideas, across a variety of relevant platforms.

How your business is seen has an impact on productivity as well. In a downturn, when staff morale can be low and employees are fearful of losing their jobs, a considered, regular PR presence can boost staff morale and make employees feel proud of where they work.

Surviving a downturn calls for a different way of thinking. A brave and creative business will realise that the benefits of being active and keeping a dialogue going are significant. After all, where will customers go first when things pick up?

If you think hiring a professional is expensive, wait until you hire an amateur…

A fast-paced few days at Frasermedia

kurt

Arriving at a new place can be daunting at the best of times, and arriving for my work experience with Frasermedia was no different. I came down the stairs into the office, and was greeted by everyone. I actually didn’t stay for very long, as I was straight back up the stairs and off to oversee media coverage of the Golden Games at Aberdeen Sports Village.

This was a fantastic way to start my three days of experience, as I was straight in to seeing how the job is done. I met photographers from the Press and Journal, journalists from STV and even the Aberdeen Football Club manager himself, Derek McInnes, outside of Pittodrie Stadium! This really opened my eyes to how much PR could really offer me as a career, and all the different connections and perks this job has.

After coming back to the office, I was in for about 15 minutes before heading off to meet another client. Prior to attending this placement I hadn’t realised how much fieldwork was involved in working in PR, nor how many different and interesting people you could meet on an average day.

The next day I spent in the office, helping to create coverage books for clients, as well as joining in with the rest of the team to brainstorm ideas for a potential client. This was just as interesting as the trips out, if not more so, as they really showed me what PR was all about, and I realised that no matter what I was doing, it was all exciting and varied.

I am aiming for a university degree in public relations and marketing in the next few years, and I feel like this placement has seriously helped me with that goal, as not only do I now have an idea of what I am going into with this line of work, but the experience has really reinforced my determination to get into public relations as a career.

Everyone in the Frasermedia team has been so welcoming and helpful, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in the office. I feel my time with Frasermedia has been really productive, and has been such a useful experience to have had. I have been given the chance to play the role of a public relations consultant, and it has been such a useful experience to have.

Thanks for having me, it’s been a blast!

Kurt Grant