Twitter: the long and the short of it

Twitter has doubled is character count – and halved the fun

I’m rather disappointed with Twitter. Although not an overly frequent visitor to the Twitter-sphere (at least by some people’s standards,) I did enjoy the challenge of getting my message into 140 characters.

Now Twitter has doubled the character count to 280, all the fun seems to have gone out of it. In this digital age, where we are told people simply scan online text and don’t read it properly, a 140-character Tweet was somewhat fitting.

Now? Well, now a Tweet can be virtually the length of an essay. In fact, it’s somewhat longer than my teenage son’s essays, but that’s another story …

Of course, this is an exaggeration and I haven’t hung up my Twitter account in protest. But there is a lot to be said for being brief in your copy, and writing 140-character Tweets was a great way of honing this skill.

 

Copywriting: keep it short and sweet

 

When I was training in journalism, I recall my tutors saying it took more skill to be a reporter for The Sun than for The Times. Why? Because it is far harder to get all the information a story requires – the who, what, where, when, why and how – into a few paragraphs than it is into the story length of a broadsheet. OK, the Times is no longer a broadsheet, but it was then and it still carries far longer stories than its News UK stablemate.

So when copywriting, keep it short, sweet and simple. George Orwell had six rules of writing, including:

  • Never use a long word where a short one will do
  • If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

Wise words, and ones which we’d all do well to adhere to. Twitter may now allow more characters, but don’t feel obliged to use them!

If you need help with copywriting for websites, blogs, brochures, social media posts – including Tweets – or any other form of business writing, please get in touch with me, Jo Smyth, of Word Worker.

New era for professional services dawns as Swindon firms merge

We’ve handled the public relations for Swindon firms Regulatory Accounting and Hoffman Briggs for some years, so great news when they merged – PR opportunities in abundance.

A new type of enterprise aimed at providing a range of services to businesses and individuals alike is being created through the merger of two established Swindon companies.

Accountancy practice Regulatory Accounting is merging with long-standing law firm Hoffman Briggs to form Optimum Professional Services.

Initially, Optimum will be offering accountancy services – including taxation, accountancy, auditing, business planning, payroll and bookkeeping – plus the specialist area of law championed by Hoffman Briggs, which is conveyancing, wills and probate.

But Richard Mathews, Managing Director of Regulatory Accounting and CEO of Optimum, plans to introduce a wider range of services which will help people in their business and personal life.

“We are really breaking the mould with Optimum and bringing professional services into the 21st Century,” said Richard. “People want ease and convenience, combined with expert advice and help from professionals who talk their language. We’re starting with accountancy and law and plan to bring in other services so people can access a range of support all under the one roof; professional services support which will help them in their business, family and personal life.”

Also on Optimum’s Board will be Hoffman Briggs’ MD Mary Hoffman, who will become Director of Legal Services.

Mary said she was excited at the opportunity offered through Optimum. As well as specialising in conveyancing, wills and probate, there are plans to extend the areas of law covered.

“This is really good news for individuals and businesses in Swindon and the surrounding area,” said Mary. “Optimum is a new type of firm, which is a far cry from the traditional high street practices and we believe it offers a better and more convenient alternative for people.”

Optimum will be based in Regus, Windmill Hill, which is already the headquarters of Hoffman Briggs. All staff from both businesses are transferring to Optimum and there are plans to grow the team as more services are added.

Richard added: “We have informed clients from both businesses about our plans and they have been very positive. Key to the success of Optimum is the quality of the companies – Regulatory Accounting and Hoffman Briggs  – which will form it. The two firms already offer an excellent and highly expert service to clients. Under Optimum it will be the same great team, but now we will have the chance to offer a bigger range of services to help our clients in their business life and in their personal life.”

Carer charity tops fundraising target – then launches new appeal

We love working with the charity Carer Support Wiltshire, and were chuffed with the publicity we achieved for their really successful Time for Carers Appeal.

An appeal to raise £25,000 to give Wiltshire’s thousands of unpaid carers a break has beaten the target.

The Time for Carers Appeal was launched in January by the charity Carer Support Wiltshire, to raise money to help fund a range of activities for carers to give them some respite from their caring role – a little time for themselves.

By the end of the summer, the appeal had exceeded its target by more than £2,000, and the funds are due to be distributed to carers.

Now Carer Support Wiltshire has set its sights on raising another £25,000 by next summer, and has launched the 8 in 10 Appeal – so named following research carried out by the Jo Cox Commission for Loneliness and Carers UK, which showed that eight in ten people caring for loved ones feel lonely and isolated.

Catharine Hurford, Chief Executive for Carer Support Wiltshire, said she was confident the 8 in 10 Appeal would repeat the success of the Time for Carers Appeal.

“We are really grateful to everybody who supported the Time for Carers Appeal. The money raised will make a real difference to carers by helping fund activities that give them a little time to themselves,” she said. “Our new 8 in 10 Appeal has a slightly different focus. This time we want to raise money which will help carers to socialise and get out more into their communities, which will in turn help combat the feelings of loneliness and isolation experienced by so many.”

In Wiltshire, there are more than 47,000 unpaid carers – people who care for parents, partners, children, grandchildren or loved ones. The vast majority say they feel lonely or isolated.

Catharine said: “Loneliness can have a serious impact on health and wellbeing. Unpaid carers put their loneliness down to lack of money to socialise and difficulty in leaving the house due to their caring commitments. They also say they find it hard to talk to friends or work colleagues about caring, which adds to their isolation, so we really need to start a conversation around this.”

For more information about the 8 in 10 Appeal and how to raise money or make a donation visit http://carersinwiltshire.co.uk/ or contact Carer Support Wiltshire free on 0800 181 4118.

Second grant opens doors for older people

We love handling the public relations for Bluebird Care Swindon, who help the older people in their community through these generous grants. 

A second community grant from care at home provider Bluebird Care Swindon is literally a door opener for older people in Wiltshire.

Because £250 grant has been awarded to Cricklade Open Door, which was selected from several organisations which applied. The charity is based in Jenner Hall in Cricklade, and runs a café, lunches and activities for older people.

David Tetlow, of Cricklade Open Door, said the grant would be used to provide much needed activity equipment and other materials for members.

“This generous grant is particularly important at a time when local authorities are cutting back on their support to organisations like ours and we are grateful to Bluebird Care for recognising the important service that we provide to our local community,” said David. “Bluebird Care are dedicated to combating isolation in the community. We fully support their campaign, which aligns with our own philosophy of supporting people that matter to our own community from Cricklade and the wider district.”

This is the second grant Bluebird Care Swindon has given this year, with the aim of supporting organisations which work in the area to help elderly people living in the community. The first was awarded to Eastcott Community Organisation.

Ben Curtis, Bluebird Care Swindon Managing Director, said: “We were delighted to receive several applications from community organisations for our most recent grant. They were all very worthy causes, but in the end we selected Cricklade Open Door because of the excellent work they do in supporting older people in the Cricklade community, in providing activities, support and friendship.”

Bluebird Care Swindon offers a realistic alternative to residential care by allowing people to stay in their own homes with care and support. The support can involve one or more short visits a day, extending to overnight help and live-in care.

 

Expansion and an award on the horizon for 24-7 Staffing

If you’re opening new offices, this is a great topic for a press release. The business media loves to hear about business success stories.

Expansion is underway for independent Wiltshire recruiter 24-7 Staffing, which is relocating two of its branch offices to bigger premises.

The Chippenham-based company is moving both its Salisbury and Bristol offices into larger premises in each of the cities, to give it the space it needs to take on more staff.

And there is more good news for 24-7 Staffing, as it has just been named a finalist in the prestigious IRP industry awards, run by the Institute of Recruitment Professionals. It is in the running for the Best Company to Work for category, for companies with between 20 and 50 staff.

“Our expansion is all going according to plan, which is why we need to move to larger premises in Bristol and Salisbury,” said Managing Director Julian Thompson. “We are actively recruiting for our own team, and our aim is to take on another 36 people to increase the head count in our existing offices, and to staff two new branches which we plan to open in 2019 and 2020.

“The icing on the cake is to be named as finalists in the IRP awards. We are delighted it is for the Best Companies to Work for award, because we put such store by looking after and nurturing the team we have here.”

The IRP Awards finals are being held on December 6. A win would make a hattrick for 24-7 Staffing, which earlier this year won the Wiltshire Business Services to the Community Award and the Chippenham Business Customer Services award.

Julian said 24-7 Staffing’s policy for recruiting its own staff centred around taking on high calibre people, not necessarily from the recruitment industry, and investing in their training.

He said: “We invested heavily in an internal recruitment and training package which gives all our new team members really in-depth training in all aspect of the recruitment industry, as well as our internal systems and processes.”

24-7 Staffing was set up in 2004, initially as an agency placing drivers, using Julian’s extensive industry knowledge. It now has four strong divisions: driving, commercial, industrial and healthcare.

This year alone, 24-7 Staffing has seen 25 per cent financial growth, taken on an average of two new clients a week and has strengthened all four divisions, particularly healthcare. This is now the company’s the fastest growing division.

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

Is it worth venturing down the PR route, in the wake of the Bell Pottinger debacle? We think so.

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.