Artisan Marketing Communications offers clients PR and marketing communications advice, practical support and implementation.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Events to put in your diary

Networking4Business is holding its next event at Sapporo Restaurant in Castlefields on the 8th June at 3pm.

ConnectMedia will be running a networking /seminar at Obsidian Restaurant (near China Town and the Yang Sing) on Wednesday 14th June at 6pm. Craig McGinty, who runs the event, makes it a relaxed occassion. The talk will be on handling difficult people so everyone will be able to benefit by coming down.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

What’s the key to success in PR? Football of course.

With the World Cup upon us I thought is was time to discuss the link between football and PR and journalists. Well take advantage of the hype and contribute to the saturation levels of advertising coverage we are all getting.

He is my attempt to jump on the bandwagon:

It is imperative for the success of any local media campaign to know your football.

I can think of three publications where my knowledge of Liverpool, Aston Villa and Leicester City has been key to building up a relationship with journalists.

I am a Mancunian so I naturally support Manchester City. This works well. We always lose to Liverpool. I can commiserate with Aston Villa fans, as both teams can be desperately bad. And Leicester City? Well, I studied there. There is an association and common ground.

I have even had a conversation with a Man Utd fan that is the editor of reputable business magazine and still left on good terms. But then again he is a Mancunian so I can accept his persuasion, however abhorrent.

Even if you don’t like football you should at least be conversant in football.

Whether you do PR, network or expos it is always good to have a subject that can break the ice and help to build a rapport.

But the rule that always applies is if you don’t have a good product, a story or release, then your friendliness with a journalist will not yield good results in the medium and long-term, even if it works in the short-term.

The best branding, marketing or PR will not work if the product or service is not of a high enough standard.

Terrific product, excellent marketing and having an opinion on who should be the next England manager will work very well though.
And I will be glued to the screen, following England all the way to the quarterfinals.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Big Chip awards

The Big Chip awards took place last night.

Anyone in the Internet industry is likely to have a saw head - perhaps because of Antony Wilson or should I say Tony. H Wilson or just Tony Wilson.

The Geordie sitting next to me was incensed when he referred to his fellow countrymen as "idiot Geordies", which induced a wave of heckles from my neighbour. But anyone that promoted Joy Division must be alright and does not need to make expletives to be cool. But he did.

Tony just be yourself.

Anyway, congratulations to Virtuaffinity for their award and to Code who always sweep the board.

Not a bad event but no more Kraftwerk impersonators please.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Tips to improving your PR

PR is among the most cost effective ways to increase your awareness and sales leads. However, all to often enterprises do not make full use of the opportunities available.
Rob Baker of Artisan gives a few pointers to start improving your PR drive and it’s return.

PR is a long-term activity. All too often companies get some coverage, it doesn’t yield immediate results and they lose interest. You must adopt a sustained, long-term approach for it to be really effective. You are building-up interest and trust in your company and it’s services, it cannot be relied upon to do that in just one go.

Developing relationships with journalists is a long-term activity. A journalist who knows that you deliver interesting, well-written stories is always going to be more open to your latest release than one that seldom hears from you. It is important to cultivate relationships, find out what a particular journalist wants and how they operate. Once you have their confidence, you will be more effective.

PR should not be a stand-alone activity. PR is more effective in combination with other lead generating activity. If you have an exciting new service and want to tell potential customers, you are more likely to achieve the results you want if you employ a number of ways to attract their interest.

Make sure your news is of interest to the journalist and their readership. Just because your company is excited about your new website revamp or office move, it doesn’t mean that anyone else is. Think carefully about what is really newsworthy from the journalists’ point of view before sending your press release.

Make the journalists’ job easier. A journalist does not want to re-write your poorly crafted copy, or phone you to clarify points that should be made clear in the original press release. The harder you make their job the less chance they will publish your release.

Make the subject of the release clear straight away. A journalist will receive literally hundreds of press releases a day. They might have space for one main release and a couple of smaller stories and possibly a column of News in Brief. They only have a few seconds to go through their e-mails and decide what they want to consider for publication. So, if the subject of your press release is less than clear, it is less likely to go any further than the delete button.
Do not neglect the local press. The regional press can be your best outlet for publicity. Local papers often have excellent business pages that capture the attention of the reader as they make their commute home or as they relax in their spare time. They also have a substantial readership. The Manchester Evening News sells 150,000 daily copies, while the Manchester Metro News has 390,000 regular readers.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

PR for small businesses is effective and within your reach

I like technology but I am not adept at using it.

I managed to delete a lot of my archive, so I am going to re-publish some of those articles.

If you have already read them on Networking4Business' newsletter or somewhere else, please excuse me.

I have a couple of really interesting articles to come.

So if you have a few minutes I hope this will be of interest:

PR is often discounted by smaller businesses as a way to generate real interest and leads. Many reasons are cited but none should really stand in your way. The following short article explains why.

Many small to medium enterprises (SMEs) do not consider PR seriously enough as a way to really generate business. The reasons fall into two broad categories. Firstly, can we find a PR supplier that we can afford and will take our business seriously? Secondly, does it really work?

The answer to the first question can pose a lot of problems for a small business venturing into PR for the first time. PR agencies can seem intimidating places to approach if you do not know what to expect. When you are presented with the £600 per day plus tariff, you might wonder what you will get for your hard earned cash. Will you be treated with the same respect and diligence as bigger name clients? After all, you do not want the most junior member of staff to champion your livelihood.

There are ways to find a provider that will be cost effective and work well for you. Ask trusted business associates for recommendations. Go outside the big agencies. Smaller agencies and freelancers will often provide a better service because your fee will be more important to them. And without the overheads of a prestigious office to pay for, you will have a smaller bill without any loss of performance.

The second question concerns PR’s effectiveness. How can you be sure it works? An often-used objection is that with advertising you can be sure your product or service will appear in the paper, with PR you cannot.

Unfortunately, you cannot guarantee PR coverage. But you cannot guarantee your advert will make anyone pick up the phone or that your mail shot will even be opened.

A good PR man - with imagination, tenacity and a good product to promote - should generate excellent results.

What is more, as a form of marketing communications it is hard to better. Potential clients will trust and take notice of a good piece of PR more than they will of direct mail, advertising or tele-marketing. After all, if a well-respected paper or trade magazine says your product is newsworthy, then, in effect they are saying to your target market, your product and services are worthy of their interest and attention.
This does not mean that you should give up other ways to bring in leads. When PR is combined with your other business development work, it adds up to more than the sum of its parts. Networking, referrals and PR can be a highly effective combination in itself. By all means, use advertising but add PR to increase your leads pipeline.

Apologies to Craig McGinty

I would like to offer a full unreserved apology to Craig McGinty of Sale.

I replied to a comment of his with the observation that he should be in PR as a complement. I didn't mean to cause offence and as a journalist of high integrity he has no wish to enter into the career pit we call PR. It could have been worse if I had suggested a career as an accountant.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Reply to Craig's comment on the tower

Craig you have a fair point and should be in PR.

It is not part of the city; it is just an investment opportunity for footballers and a top floor flat for the architect.

I hope the spirit of the Arndale has not been rekindled by this building - one that could have been built in any city. It has no connection with Manchester. It is simply another tower block but in a prestiguous location.

More spin than Muralitharan

The PR done for the Beetham Tower has been loud and proud.

I am sure the clients have got the return for their money from their PR agency. Even the structural problems of the tower have got rewarded with coverage that has done nothing to really damage its reputation in the longer term. In fact, when the story comes out how the architects ingeniously resolved the probelm, the PR agency will double the coverage.

Poor PR management or crafty PR tactics on behalf of the agency. I suspect the latter.

Yet, no amount of PR spin can completely mask for reality for most people. Marketing and PR can only be as good as their product. And the tower is not in keeping with Manchester's traditions and should not be part of its future.

The following letter featured in the North West Enquirer today:

I have read, since you recent launch, a great deal about Beetham Tower.

I have not read any comment that correlates to the comments I heard from fellow Mancunians: the tower is an eye saw and is totally out of character with a city with a unique Victorian architectural heritage.

I am very much in favour of the innovative and creative building that have been built since the bomb, but there is nothing special with this design, except that it can play tunes.

I will, however, be using the Beetham Tower's bar on occasion. It is one place in the city where I will not be able to see this monstrosity.

Please let me know your comments.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Networking becomes big news in Liverpool

The Liverpool Daily Post has an 8 page supplement devoted to networking in Liverpool.

Please note that I am not sure sure if the networking stories are going on the Daily Post's website but it is well worth buying a copy of this Wednesday's edition.

Networking4Business is launching its programme of Liverpool events after the Summer. I will put up the first event when I have further details.

Mark, of Networking4Business, has half a page on his views on networking, so hopefully this is a useful start to help launch his events in Liverpool.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Networking4Business features in NW Enquirer

Networking4Business features in the latest edition of NW Enquirer

The Enquirer's article about business networking in the city shows the importance of networking to many of Manchester's businesses. Simon Wharton of digital media specialists Virtuaffinity states that networking has been crucial to his business and its survival.

Simon's full quote about networking is: "It is our primary tool. I don't think we'd have survived this long without networking. A lot of our business has come through people I've met at Networking4Business."

Look out for more coverage for Mark and Networking4Business in Wednesday's Liverpool Daily Post and the current edition of Business550

Networking in Manchester

Networking4Business is holding a great event at Tiger Tiger in Manchester's Printworks on the 23rd May.

The evening affair will feature speed networking, live music and buffet and licensed bar to keep you refreshed.

Networking4business' events are relaxed and attendees are under no pressure. They are an effective way to meet key contacts.

Contact Mark Greenwood for more info at or call 0161 721 4831

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Support St Ann's Hospice event

St Ann's Hospice is holding an art exhibition to raise money to support its care programme.

The event, at Great John Street Hotel, will take place at 6pm on the 8th June.

So if you are free and would like to help by buying a piece of art or simply having a glass of wine and showing your support they will be glad to see you.

There is a small £5 cost on the door.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Making a return on investment from PR

I usually give out tips for PR but this time I want to talk about return on investment for your PR pound.

I do a lot of work for small businesses and they want to know what they get for their money.

It’s absolutely fair to ask. They have to make business decisions on limited budgets that pay off. But when they get the reply I suspect sound judgement does not always feature in their decision-making.

As long as PR spend generates more money than is invested then surely it is worth pursuing, especially as it can a very high return. After nepotism and recommendation it is the most cost effective way to generate business.

I am generalising. Some businesses use expos best to their advantage others tele-marketing, but on the whole I am happy to argue my point. You have to spend your money in the best way for your enterprise.

However, the cost of PR is highly cost effective. You do not pay papers to get coverage. All you pay for is the PR guy’s time.

Let me demonstrate by contrasting with direct marketing.

Consider how much time, energy and costs go into a direct mail campaign for instance: materials, printers, postage, copy, designers etc. Average return on investment for a direct mail campaign: 1% is a high return, usually about half of that.

PR works on a number of levels for return on investment:

Enhancing brand image: many see mailers as junk, not the best association, getting published has the opposite message
Building awareness: 400,000 read the Manchester Evening News. How many people receive your mailers? Could you afford to send 400,000 mailers?
Supporting other marketing activities: you go networking, the other person has seen you in a recent article, imagine the effect that has in building confidence in you
Inquiries: a good product or service will lead to clients coming to you

It is this last return which I want to mention. One inquiry that leads to a sale for some products or services pays for the PR spend. Any more and it is profit.

Your product sells for £10? Well it is easier to generate inquiries for smaller value products.

If you do not agree do not risk your money on any sales or marketing and see what happens or worse still nothing happens.

Business is about risk and limiting that risk. PR can be done with little risk – or spend if you prefer – but has high potential.

But do it well. I see many people who get in Obscure Area Times or Back and beyond Gazette and think they have done well and miss the real opportunity.

Good PR will, as will good networking, pay dividends but only if you invest.