Don’t be put off PR – we’re not all like Bell Pottinger

The world of PR doesn’t have a good reputation at the best of times. Jennifer Saunders’ colourful representation of the industry, through her creation Edina in Ab Fab, showed its – let us be generous – superficial side.

But the Bell Pottinger episode is going a whole stage further. Running a campaign on behalf of a client which spreads racial division is deplorable and if you already had a dim view of PR you are now likely to have had all your worst fears confirmed.

Anyone with little or no experience of PR could be forgiven for being put off for life.

So why go down the PR route?

This blog isn’t an apology for PR. Some practices, while not as extreme as Bell Pottinger’s, are pretty shabby, sometimes tasteless, sometimes crude, and often ineffective.

Actually, this blog is a bit of PR for PR itself. Because in the right hands, a PR campaign can have a fantastic impact on a business, on a charity, or on an organisation in a way that a costly advertising campaign can never have.

Because PR is all about promoting yourself, or your organisation in the best light, getting endorsement from others, without paying for advertising. There’s nothing wrong with advertising, but it’s not enough to rely on it solely. Similarly, PR alone may not be sufficient to raise your profile, enhance your reputation and win more business. You may need to do a bit of both.

Tips for a successful PR strategy

  1. Dovetail what you do with your overall business plan and, most importantly, your marketing and social media strategies
  2. Look at what is going on within the business, what your staff are doing, what your good news stories are and draw up a plan of what news you can send out when and to where
  3. Link press release issues with social media and marketing campaigns – the more places you are seen, the more effective the campaigns will be
  4. Be targeted with your media releases – get yourself seen where your audience is lurking
  5. Measure your success – where were you seen? By how many people? What impact did a particular campaign have? And learn from mistakes. If your campaign fell on deaf ears, work out why

If you want to find out a little bit more about PR, how it can help your business, and why we’re honestly not all like Bell Pottinger please get in touch.

A healthy dose of networking will boost good causes

Word Worker press release:

Businesses are getting together next month for a fundraising lunch which gets to the ‘heart’ of networking.

The event is being staged on July 7, at Bowman House Business Centre, based on the Whitehill industrial estate at Royal Wootton Bassett.

Local businesses are being invited to come along and support the event, in aid of the British Heart Foundation and to raise funds to site a defibrillator at Whitehill.

“We are delighted to host this event with businesses coming together to support a great cause,” said Estate Manager of Bowman House Business Centre, Graeme Stephenson. “Having a defibrillator accessible to the local businesses and residents could be a life saver and the British Heart Foundation is the UK’s leading heart charity, funding research.”

Author and entrepreneur Warren Cass will be guest speaker, sharing practical tips on how businesses can raise their profile and increase their market share.

The event will run from midday to 2pm, and includes a buffet lunch. Tickets are £12 and can be booked here.

Swindon business group’s novel way to boost holiday reading

Word Worker press release:

Swindon business people short of holiday reading can turn to a popular networking group for some handy recommendations.

Because the regulars at Thursday breakfast networking group Swindon Business Village have put their heads together and come up with a reading list comprising recommendations for business-related books as well as a fiction.

From travelogues to business advice, from thrillers to Dr Seuss, all the recommendations have one thing in common – they are good reads, and accessible to all business people, regardless of the sector they work in.

“Gathering these recommendations has been a fun way to get to know members of the Business Village better as well as providing an insight into their passions and fields of expertise,” said Shirley Hensher, of The Change Agent Ltd, who came up with the idea.

“Such a diverse range of titles proves what an interesting and stimulating group the Business Village is.”

Jo Smyth, who runs PR and copywriter consultancy Word Worker, and is administrator for Business Village, added: “Having suggestions for accessible business related books is especially useful – there can be no better recommendation on a particular area than from an expert in that field.”

The full reading list can be found on the Swindon Business Village website a. There are also plans in the pipeline to set up a Swindon Business Village book club.

Business Village meets each Thursday for breakfast and networking at The Campanile Hotel, on the Delta Business Park, Swindon, from 7.30-9am.

The meetings have a mix of presentations, referrals and business problem-solving. The group charges no membership fee, just £10 per visit, and all are welcome. Book here. The group will be taking a break during August – a chance to catch up on some reading!

Give your writing a cooling off period

Some time ago, while shopping with my children, I saw a scarf I liked in a clothes shop. I was convinced it would go with lots of my tops and I very nearly bought it, only something (probably the amount I had already spent) held me back.

Yesterday, I happened to be in the town centre again and as I walked passed the same shop, I remembered the scarf; this time I went in determined to buy it.

But I didn’t. The problem was, when I saw it hanging up I didn’t like it any more. I noticed it had gold threads running through it. I hadn’t spotted them previously and I really don’t like gold, I far prefer silver (white gold is fine, by the way, if anyone reading this needs to know).

Had I impulsively bought the scarf on my first visit, I would have spotted the offending thread only later and would probably never have worn it or would have taken it back.

In a nutshell, the problem was I hadn’t looked at it carefully the first time and I should have done.

It’s a lesson that can apply to writing too. When we commit words to paper (or screen) we know what we want to say and often fail to spot any errors that creep in. Our brains see what they want to see and not what is actually there. But if we give our writing a ‘cooling off period’, i.e. leave it alone for a period of time then go back to it and reread it, our brains will have forgotten exactly what we had wanted to write and we are far more likely to spot errors.

So by setting copy aside for a while, we are more likely to notice where we put ‘form’ instead of ‘from’ or ‘to’ instead of ‘too’.

It may not be very eco-friendly, but printing out the text and reading it from paper also tricks the brain into thinking it is something new and makes us proofread more carefully.

The best solution of all is to ask someone else to proofread your copy for you. They are almost certain to spot errors and help you make corrections. Then you can send off your letter or newsletter, or publish your online article or web copy, secure in the knowledge that it is word perfect.

A bit like the scarf (had it been bought), you’d have it all wrapped up.

To chat about writing, PR, and – of course – proofreading, please get in touch.

Swindon employers invited to quiz pension providers on auto enrolment

Word Worker press release

A panel of pension providers will be in the hot seat next week at a Swindon event aimed at answering queries and concerns about auto-enrolment.

Accountancy firm Regulatory Accounting – a subsidiary of the RFS Group, a leading FT100 regulatory and compliance consultancy – is hosting the event on Wednesday May 3. It is being organised by Swindon AE Support; auto enrolment – also known as workplace pensions – is the government’s compulsory requirement for employers to enrol qualifying staff into a pension scheme.

At the event, which runs from 11am-2.30pm, there will be representative from pension providers, including NEST, Lighthouse Group, The People’s Pension, Smart Pension, Aviva and NOW:Pensions. There will be a chance for employers, potential employers, members of the AE group and pension scheme members to quiz the panel.

Nicki Goddard-Dady, who runs Swindon AE Support, said there were still many employers who had yet to set up a pension scheme, and choose a provider.

“Around 1.3 million to 1.4 million UK employers have automatic enrolment duties to meet, 500,000 of which have now done so,” said Nicki. “This means there are still a lot of employers who need to choose a pension scheme for their company, so by having six providers at our Swindon AE Support meeting, potential employers and any existing employers can come along and ask questions of the provider.

“We are reaching out to small employers so they can make informed decisions about choosing their workplace pension and talk to providers face to face.”

Workplace pension legislation affected larger employers first, but now smaller and micro-employers are being drawn into the system.

In the first three months of 2017 alone, 136,000 small and micro employers complied with their responsibilities under the Pensions Act – an average of one every 57 seconds; around a further 600,000 have responsibilities that begin this year. In total, more than 7.6 million workers have been put into a workplace pension since 2012.

Richard Mathews, of Regulatory Accounting, said the event was a perfect opportunity for those yet to auto enrol to gain an understanding of what the various options are for employers. “Having assisted many businesses with AE over the past couple of years, I appreciate how bewildering this can seem,” he said.

Party for Pat marks fifth anniversary of Gloucester dementia club

Word Worker press release

A Gloucester day club for people with dementia has thrown a party for its longest serving member, Pat Morris, to mark its fifth birthday.

Pat, 82, joined the Kimbrose Club in May 2012 with her husband Ken. They attended almost every weekday until he passed away in 2014, and Pat still comes regularly.

At the party were the Mayor of Gloucester, Coun Neil Hampson, and Pat and Ken’s five children: Clive Morris, Jenny Hill, Kevin Morris, Wendy Morris, and Denise Kemeys. Pat was presented with flowers and the club members all had a tea party.

Pat, who has three grandchildren and two great grandchildren, was brought up in Gloucester and all her children also live in the city.

Her son Kevin said: “Mum loves company and she loves coming here. She calls it the coffee club, and she likes to chat to people. We are very grateful to the staff for all they do.”

Kerry-Ann Lees, manager at the Kimbrose Club said: “Pat and Ken were married for more than 50 years, and our team and Pat’s family supported her when he passed away. Pat is our longest serving member, so we wanted to do something to mark the occasion.”

Coun Hampson, who has recently become a trustee at the Gloucester Charities Trust, which runs the Kimbrose Club, said the issue of dementia was close to his heart.

“I was brought up by my grandmother, and then I supported her when she developed Alzheimer’s disease,” he said. “I was a district nurse, and have worked in the NHS looking at clinical and patient care quality, and it is an area I am passionate about.”

There are spaces available at the Kimbrose Club for people with dementia, whether their condition has been recently diagnosed or is more advanced. Visits can be on a day, half-day or even hour-long basis, one day or several days a week. For more information call Kerry-Ann on 01452 414659.