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Friday, 26 November 2010

Why is photography important for PR?

The short answer is that the media likes stories which come with pictures.

Having an eye-catching image can make the difference between a story being used or spiked.

On some news websites, the format demands that the journalist uses a picture. If you provide an image, your story immediately stands a much better chance of getting coverage.

In general, a story with a picture gets more editorial space and therefore has more impact in newspapers and magazines.

How do you get the high-quality images which send out the right message about your organisation?

 Use a professional photographer with a track record of working with media. Look at examples of their work – can they get the pictures you need?

 Send out the right image. Study your target media for examples of the pictures they prefer.

 Tell the story. If your news is about your company funding playground equipment at a primary school, get some children and the play equipment in the picture. Avoid dull handshake shots or people in suits presenting a cheque.

 Give good brief. Make sure the photographer knows what you’re looking for by providing a detailed brief, including examples of the type of shot required. Anyone involved in organising the shoot should be briefed too – make sure they know exactly what is involved, any special arrangements needed and how long the photoshoot will take.

 Get a caption. Don’t send images to the media without a caption, it drives journalists mad. People need to be fully identified with names and job titles.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Why use Twitter?

Twitter is often referred to as ‘micro-blogging’ as it is used to share views and opinions quickly and concisely.

And there’s no doubt that it’s effective: it currently has 3.7 million UK users, an increasing number of which are businesses.

But why has it become so popular and why should you be using it?

Twitter accounts are useful because they:

• Are excellent for disseminating your news stories quickly – When you log in to Twitter, how many times have you seen a Tweet from someone saying that they’ve seen a celebrity a few minutes before at a station or an airport? The point here is that Twitter is instant. Type in a short message, share it, and everyone following you knows about it immediately. Think of it as like sending a text, but to lots of people.

• Have the potential to reach influential people and groups – Worldwide, it’s estimated that around 106 million people or organisations have Twitter accounts: that gives you a potentially huge audience. Try to follow as many people/organisations as you can, but if you’re a business, be strategic – focus on finding similar businesses, clients, subcontractors or decision-makers who you already work with or are targeting – don’t just follow everyone and anyone.

• Create a sense of community – A crucial thing to remember when using Twitter or any social media tool is that online, people congregate around areas of interest rather than demographics. It’s an excellent place to meet and engage with like-minded individuals or businesses.

• Can be used to comment on issues relevant to your industry – If there’s an issue or topic that’s current in your industry, Twitter is a great place to air your views and also find out what your contemporaries think too. Find something topical, Tweet it and ask your followers for their views – the more regularly you do this, the more likely you are to get a response.

• Are a great way of sharing best practice – If you’ve found a method for doing something successfully that can help others, Twitter is an easy way of sharing it. For example, if you’ve put together a presentation about a particular subject, you can send a link to it out on Twitter so that everyone can see it.

Friday, 15 October 2010

FACT: You are 500 times more likely to read an advertorial than an advert…

Advertorials are back in fashion and for good reasons too. Surveys suggest that people are 500 times more likely to read an advertorial than an advert. That’s because they’re informative and they look and read like a real news or feature story.

Advertorials are paid-for ‘adverts’ which resemble an objectively-written editorial. Magazines, e-zines and newspapers love them because they generate income. Savvy businesses love them because they sell products and services. What’s more, they can be used for a myriad of marketing purposes from magazine features, to web-based ‘information sites’.

81 per cent more orders than adverts

Research by Reader’s Digest revealed that an advertorial which looked like a magazine article generated 81 per cent more orders than the same copy presented in a traditional advert format.

With an advertorial you also have full editorial control over your business messaging. That’s important if you need to clearly communicate the benefits of a new product or service, or, explain a complex or technical concept. Advertorials give you the ability to base the content directly around your key messages without the threat of the messages being diluted or used out of context.

Advertorials educate and build trust among customers and stakeholders

This is why more and more smart businesses are choosing to invest in well-written and targeted advertorials to get their messages out into the public realm.

A typical advertorial will be 600 to 1,200 words with space for photos and contact details – but avoid using logos!

Don’t expect one advertorial to suddenly result in a flood of calls and emails. If you want to convince people to buy into your business then you need to educate them by communicating your messages regularly. This will build the relationship between you and your customers. And, with many national and local newspapers now offering a range of off and online deals and packages, it really is a good time to start giving the advertorial a bit more of your attention.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Five tips on how to improve your search engine rankings

While most of us find websites through search engines like Google, MSN and Yahoo, but very few of us will look beyond the first two pages of search results. That’s why you want to make sure that your site is up at the top.

Five search engine optimisation (SEO) tips for improving your rankings on the internet:

1. Think carefully when selecting your keywords. Before you make your website live, you’ll need to create a list of keywords and phrases about your product or service. For example, if you sell shoes, this would need to be one of your keywords. However, lots of websites will have this as a keyword too, so choose a phrase with two or three key words which are relevant to you.

2. Include plenty of text content. Search engines find it difficult to pick up Flash content, but they love text. Try to use 100 or more words per page on your site, themed around your keywords or phrases.

3. Use your keywords frequently – between three and eight times per 100 words is usually recommended. And don’t forget to include keywords in your headlines or subheadings!

4. Add links to your site. Links help search engines to navigate the pages of your website, so make sure you have plenty littered throughout your site. A good place to start is by creating a home page which includes links through to other pages within your site.

5. Ask other sites to link to you. Try to get your links to your website on sites that are highly ranked by search engines. This is vital – search engines regard links to your site from other pages as a vote. The higher their search engine ranking, the more valid the vote is. Google has an application called PageRank which you can download to help you with this.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Social media is great for business if you have a strategy

Social media is becoming hugely important in business marketing yet few companies understand it, let alone know how to use it effectively. Creating a company page on Facebook, LinkedIn or a channel on YouTube will not help you win friends and influence people if you don’t know which social media platforms your customers use and what they use them for.

Social media is a communications platform which allows you to be highly targeted in your selling messages and reach exactly the right people you want to make friends with - that's if you know how to use it. And in the current climate, it should be an integral part of your marcoms strategy not an ‘after-thought’.

So, if you want your ‘Tweeting’, ‘Facebooking’ and social media activities to work for you, here are a few things to think about:

1. What are your aims and objectives? Who do you want to engage and communicate with and what do you want to say?

2. What social platforms do your customers / prospects use and what online communities do they participate in (e.g. Twitter, LinkedIn and Ecademy business forums are going to be more useful if you are a B2B organisation than Facebook)?

3. Tailor your key messages to the people and businesses you want to reach and tell them something useful and valuable to them.

4. Be social and don’t try to ‘preach’ or ‘hard sell’. This is about building long-term ‘friendships’ with people you want to do business with.

5. Most importantly, communicate consistently, truthfully and regularly with customers and prospects – it’s key to building trust, confidence and a profitable following.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Proposed parking charges in Wiltshire are barking mad

My local authority - Wiltshire Council - is holding a consultation about car parking charges across the county which has got me extremely hot under the collar!

My E=MC2 chums are also pretty angry too because they’ll have to start paying £4.50 a day, £22.50 a week; £90 a month and almost £1,100 a year! Money they could have spent on 4,050 cans of my favourite tripe flavour Pedigree Chum and a couple of juicy lamb bones from Lee Downer the butcher up the street.

Now everyone will leave their cars on the street, block buses, Massey Fergusons and combine harvesters and create huge traffic jams! And who's going to pay £4.50 a day when they can park for nothing on public roads or pay £3 at the Tisbury railway station?

If these ludicrous parking charges are enforced in Tisbury people won’t shop in the village anymore, our high street will die and local employers will be forced to move elsewhere. If the council wants to bring Wiltshire villages to their knees, this is the way to do it.

If you ask me, they’re all a bunch of city slickers who think that chickens come frozen.

If you don’t like the new parking charges and want to comment, go to:

Thursday, 17 June 2010

DISASTER!!! How will you respond?

Imagine this scenario: you’re the managing director of the main contractor building a massive new commercial development in a major city centre. Suddenly, a crane collapses causing carnage on the site below and a number of people are seriously injured. Within minutes, video footage of the crane collapsing is on the internet, reporters from the national media are contacting you for comment. Your company’s reputation is on the line – what are you going to do?

That’s just one example of a public relations crisis situation a construction firm might face, but crises can take many forms. It could be a programme of redundancies attracting negative press attention, allegations of bid-rigging, a vicious blog from a disgruntled employee or an environmental incident.

In the digital age, there’s an even greater risk of unwanted headlines damaging the reputation of your business. Thanks to the advent of social media such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, photos or even a video of a construction site which doesn’t comply with health and safety regulations can be posted on the internet with ease, and immediately, you’ve got a negative story and a reputation problem on your hands.

How will you respond? With a little foresight, preparation and a strategy, you can protect your good name and turn a potential PR crisis into a media opportunity that wins you customers and public support. Here are three points to remember:

1. Preparation is key – If you can step back and make an honest assessment of any potential issues in your organisation and make a plan, you’ll be better prepared when a crisis hits. Assistance from a professional communications firm can establish a framework so you can respond effectively when something does go wrong. A proactive approach is always best: if you have had problems in the past, take the necessary steps to ensure that your professional reputation isn’t compromised in the future.

2. Have a crisis communications strategy in place, and one that also deals with protecting your online reputation – Decide what you need to tell people and who you need to tell before you speak to the media. And, select the right spokesperson for the job. Choose someone who can communicate well and who understands the issues. Media training in advance can help.

3. Get your facts straight – The easiest way to shoot yourself in the foot is tell your side of the story without knowing the facts. Double-check your information with more than one source. Also, remember that journalists work to deadlines and need information quickly. If they don’t get it from you, they’ll get it from someone else!

E=MC2 Public Relations specialises in strategic public relations and reputation management for the construction, architecture, engineering, property and design sectors. Its activities include writing and placing press releases, press office management, crisis communications, media relations and online reputation management.

For further information, contact us on 01747 871752 or visit our website: You can find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Hey, EMI – leave them songs alone!

I was interested to read a few days ago about a court battle between legendary rockers Pink Floyd and the band’s record label of more than 40 years, EMI.

Apparently, the Floyd took legal action after reportedly objecting to the way in which EMI has been selling their music online. To cut a long story short, the judge ruled in favour of David Gilmour and co and said: “Hey, EMI – leave them songs alone.”

As a big music fan – you won’t be surprised to learn that I’m particularly partial to a bit of Bach – I felt heartened to hear of the Floyd’s victory. Well done to them, I say, for standing up for their artistic integrity and refusing to allow their songs to be sold online individually without their permission.

Of course, the Floyd and their contemporaries are all products of a bygone age of music that we’re unlikely to ever see the like of again – and more’s the pity because most of what I hear on the radio these days makes me want to cut my ears off – so I for one was pleased to see them striking a blow for the old guard.

During the aforementioned court case, Pink Floyd’s legal team argued that, under the terms of their contract with EMI, their albums were seamless and should not be split up. They also claimed that they ‘wanted to retain artistic control’ over their material. And I think that’s right. Now I’m not for one moment suggesting that the advent of new technology is a bad thing; on the contrary. I think it’s great that we have iPods and the ability to download songs from wherever we want, but I think the artist has to retain at least some semblance of control. Using Pink Floyd as an example, their seminal album Dark Side of the Moon is more than a collection of songs, it’s an artistic statement. Yes, by all means make it available for download, but in the form that the Floyd wanted people to hear it. Can you imagine that album without ‘Great Gig in the Sky’ or ‘Us and Them’? Those tracks are part of something much bigger which simply wouldn’t be complete if they were missing.

And the record buying public shouldn’t be ignored either. Surely there are still music fans left in the world who like to physically go to a record store on the day an album or single by an artist they like is released and buy it there and then? So what if it costs you a bit more than ordering it on the internet, there’s still something special about having that new piece of plastic in your hands and then getting it home as quickly as you can to listen to it. But maybe that’s just me. Perhaps times have changed so much and the general quality of popular music is now so poor that there simply aren’t any artists worth getting that excited about. I sincerely hope that I’m wrong on that one, but I think it’s a major factor.

Now, we all know that the record business is like every other worldwide industry at the moment – there were even rumours recently that EMI may have to consider selling the iconic Abbey Road studios to ease the group’s financial problems – but that’s irrelevant as far as I’m concerned. Not everyone wants to download singles or albums and those people should be accommodated, alongside those who embrace all of the new ways of accessing music we now have at our disposal.

So come on, music industry, start listening. Music fans come in all forms – it’s your job to give them what they want – what they really, really want …

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Why should I incorporate social media into my business?

Up until a few years ago, the term ‘social media’ was unheard of. Today, it’s inescapable. If you’ve got a Facebook or MySpace page, a Twitter account, or you regularly log on to YouTube to watch videos, you’re taking part in the social media revolution.

The rapid rate at which the use of social media is increasing is astonishing. YouTube is now reportedly the second largest search engine on the internet with 2.6 billion search queries a year – an incredible statistic when you consider that it took radio 38 years to reach 50 million listeners. In short, you can’t ignore it.

There are many reasons why social media is becoming ever more important within the business community. Firstly, it’s an excellent way of reinforcing existing relationships. Many businesses which want to share information can do this easily on Facebook or via Twitter.

It’s also the fastest method of disseminating your information to a wide range of people. Corporate Twitter accounts are a great way of broadcasting company news quickly and concisely. If you post a Tweet, it’s there in the public domain immediately for everyone to see.

Twitter is also excellent for driving people to corporate blogs. By including teasers of your blog entries in your Tweets, you can generate interest and encourage your audience to view your blog in full.

And thanks to YouTube, incorporating video content into your operations can be done with the minimum of fuss. By simply creating a YouTube channel, you can host all of your videos in one place and invite your audience to come in and take a look. It also means you don’t have to slow your website down by using it to host 200 megabyte videos.

But how do you make it work for your business? By following a few simple steps, you can use social media effectively.

Plan ahead – Before you start incorporating social media into your business activities, think about why you’ve chosen to do it and what you want to achieve. Most businesses which are unsuccessful in integrating social media fail because they have no idea what they want to get out of it.

Measure your success – In the past, one of the main criticisms of social media was that it was virtually impossible to measure its success. However, it’s now much easier to do this by seeing how many friends you have on Facebook, how many followers you have on Twitter, or how many views your YouTube video has had. If you’re using social media to try to generate more hits on your website, you can use a programme such as Google Analytics to monitor website traffic.

Know your audience – It’s important to remember that online, people congregate around areas of interest rather than demographics, so ensure you know your audience and give them content and topics that match their interests.

Be different – By all means, look at what other people are doing in terms of social media campaigns but making your Tweets, Facebook page or YouTube videos different is the key to success. For example, if you’ve got a blog, choose an interesting subject to focus on which nobody else is commenting on. Better still, find somebody with an interesting take on a particular situation to write the blog.

Key words – Finally, it’s essential to include as many of your key words as possible in your descriptor on your social media pages as this will improve your search engine position. The more of your key words you can incorporate into your Tweets and Facebook status posts, the better. It’s also important to remember that you need to revisit your key word selection regularly and fine-tune it to ensure that your name stays at the top of popular search results.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Those dirty dogs the NLA…

A big pat on the back to you Meltwater News for finally standing up for us PR underdogs and fighting that unscrupulous and profiteering pack of hounds the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA). It’s about time someone challenged their latest money-grabbing ‘link-tax’ scam to make us all pay for online newspaper content (material which PRs have written and supplied to them in the first place!).

I’m glad you are showing your teeth and taking them to Copyright Tribunal. I’d like to bite those no-good mongrels in the backside myself. The fact is, we should be charging you - NLA - for the privilege of using our copy! Without it you’d be out of business. I think the whole PR industry should help Meltwater win their case by boycotting NLA members. I’d like to see how long they would last without our press releases to fill their pages! Grrrrrrrrrr! You deserve a dose of your own medicine!

So, good on you Meltwater. I hope you win and if you need any PR help, give us a call on +44 (0)1747 871752. CIPR and PRCA take note, you should have done this for us years ago when the NLA was a toothless pup!

Monday, 4 January 2010

Has your advertising budget been cut? Why not use PR instead?

Q: I’ve had to cut my advertising budget due to the current economic climate but still need to promote my business. How can I do this in a cost-effective way?

A: If you’ve ever wondered why some companies are always in the news, it’s because they understand the value of positive public relations and they most probably have a PR professional driving their media relations.

Public relations deals with reputation management and building great relationships with customers, employees and other groups which interact with your business. Good PR drives sales and creates favourable attitudes by getting people excited and thinking positively about your company.

A professional PR company can help you in a number of ways, including for example preparing press releases to communicate your key messages in local or trade publications, producing newsletters or case studies to illustrate examples of your successes or managing your electronic communications such as your company website or email bulletins to clients.

Whether you are a start-up company or an established business, you do need to be revving up your PR and getting your name and messages out there. With more companies fighting for less work, you need to keep communicating with the outside world to win new business, and so that people will think of you first when the economy picks up.

This is what strategic PR does. It keeps you in front of your customers, and it’s the most effective way of boosting your image and your business. If you don’t have the professional expertise in-house, don’t waste time, resources and money trying to do it yourself. Too often, the job of communicating the company’s strategic messages is given to the office receptionist or director’s secretary who will not have the writing skills, journalistic training or media contacts to do an effective job.

PR doesn’t have to be expensive. For one or two days a month, a PR professional can create a cost-effective communications programme that puts you in touch with the people you want to reach. You’ll benefit from their expertise and contacts, and the publicity your company generates will quickly cover your costs.

And this approach definitely has proven benefits. As Microsoft’s Bill Gates famously said: “If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on PR”, and look what he’s achieved!

E=MC2 welcomes enquiries from companies who want to find out more about how low-cost PR can help them raise their profile and win new business.