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

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Not another one: where is YE Magazine?

In the last 18 months Business Connections, Talking Business North Manchester and NW Enquirer have stopped publishing and left the NW Business scene a little poorer.

Has the same happened to YE Magazine? The website is down and you cannot get through on the phone.

I suspect yes.

It is another sad day although new publications are and will take their place, to some extent.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Reuben Singh, PR and fraud

Today's Manchester Evening News is dominated by Reuben Singh - at one time the world's youngest millionaire and a fraud.

Reuben had no business acumen and by all accounts he was a con man. His Miss Attitude chain was sold for £5.

One way he did this was to sue the media to add weight to the illusion of being a business hero. Photo opportunities with Tony Blair and countless interviews.

He even used the mass of positive coverage in the press to convince the Royal Bank of Scotland to give him a rather substantial loan in the region of a million pounds.

One thing Reuben has learnt is that the media can be like fire: a fantastic range of benefits if you use it well, but cross them and you get burnt. In the Manchester Evening News there are nearly 3 pages devoted to unraveling Reuben's business history.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Wythenshawe - can it really be saved by a bit of branding?

How Do recently published an article on the attempts, probably in vain, by Manchester City Council to re-brand Wythenshawe and in so doing attract investment.

Wythenshawe has suffered over the years, which the Council has a little blame in. But the Council has tried to mend the wrongs by investing £130 million in the town centre, not the unfortunate reference to £130 on their tender document.

What was really interesting is the 2 comments left by persons in essence unknown, well I do not know them.

One said, how can I put it politely? You cannot polish muck. The other said if you get the brand right it will attract people to live and work in the place.

I agree with the first comment while acknowledging the need to tell the city and North West that real investment has gone into the area and things might be getting better. Sitting on the fence, no, I think they have valid points. However, this rubbish about getting the brand right strikes me as ridiculous.

Surely, hire a brilliant branding agency and you can do the same with Iraq. Well you can but it will not work. A brand is as strong as the product or service. Making people aware of changes is PR, not branding.

I just do not like this euphemistic use of the word brand. At least they did not comment that Wythenshawe was dynamic and full of bubbly people, then I would have found out who they were and named and shamed them.

The image is of Wythenshawe Hall before the area needed a re-brand.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Manchester's own goal: traffic congestion and traffic wardens

A six thirty evening meeting, set-off one hour before and still late by 20 minutes!

Driving onto town against the rush hour you would think that it would be reasonably quick - a little naive.

However, a fine for parking in a bay and buying a ticket is too much. A very alleged minor infringement on my parking is enough for a £30 fine.

This is blatant theft. Should not traffic wardens be there to stop unthinking motorists blocking traffic and access with their parking?

Manchester City Council is using legal robbery to generate revenue. Apparently 80% of appeals are successful. What does that say?

On another level why using the city centre? If you are on the M60 you are easy to get to in the main.

The Council has little respect amongst many in the business community, its traffic policies do not help. And not amount of PR is going to help them if they steal and do not get things right.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

PR is dead! Long live PR!

Tom Cheesewright, managing director of IO Communications, Manchester's premier technology marketing agency, gives his views on how PR is changing and how we need to take note.

PR is half as valuable as it was twenty years ago. Why?

Twenty years ago, PR used to be something that differentiated companies. Actively managing news coverage and creating positive stories was something done by only a few, forward-looking organisations outside the FTSE 100. Today, PR is commoditised. If you have engaged a PR agency, most of your competitors have one too (or soon will).

Secondly, there are more news and information sources out there than ever before. No longer does everyone rely on their daily newspaper or even the 9 o'clock news for their information supply. Now they refer to tens of TV channels, hundreds of magazines, and thousands of websites and blogs. With so many authorities out there, each one has slightly less impact.

Thirdly, journalists are now less influential than they were. Research from Influencer50 suggests that in the early 90s, journalists accounted for 80pc of the external influencers on a buying decision (based on a survey of businesses buying technology). Today that figure is less than 40pc.

Combine these three factors and you would have to conclude that the value of PR has fallen sharply. Except, of course, it hasn't.

The sharp ones amongst you will have noticed that I am not talking about PR, but simply media relations. PR can and should be so much more than that. The tools we use for reaching out to the media and analysts can be turned to other targets, enabling us to engage with other influencers - the peers, competitors, consultants, bloggers, regulators and more who now reach more directly in to our lives and our businesses.

PR people need to raise their game and recognise the value of some of their skills in the changing business environment. Creating compelling content, for example, that can be re-used and re-merchandised not just to influencers but in creative campaigns across the marketing mix.

Networking and interpersonal skills too are a hallmark of good PR people. When a company buys in professional help from a freelancer or agency, it should be like bringing in extra business development staff who can connect them with interesting potential partners or customers.

PR practitioners need to be aware of the impact of technology and market forces on their business, and adjust accordingly to make best use of the skills and resources they have available.

PR isn't really dead, it is just changing. But any practitioner that can't keep up, may well be facing extinction.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

BBC Manchester Radio feature for health treatment centre

Cenacle Treatment Centre will feature on BBC Manchester Radio on Friday between 9-10 in the morning.

Jeanette Blackwell (pictured), the founder and owner, will be giving an insight into alternative therapies and how she developed her interest in the subject to the point that it became a vocation as well as a business.

It is a light hearted program that will feature two or three guests talking to presenter Heather Stott. Firstly a review of the papers before going on to discuss the guest's experiences.

Thanks to Tom for giving me the introduction. You will have an entry on this site to say thanks.

I have been working with the Cenacle Treatment Centre since the start of the year and they have just signed a new contract so this gets things off to a brilliant start.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Two tickets for comedy night up for grabs

I have 2 tickets to Opus in the Printworks for the comedy night on Friday. If you would like to go please drop me a line or leave your contact details in the comments box and they are yours.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fax better than e-mail for your news story!

I thought I would give Jim Symcox, marketer, an opportunity on my world famous blog. Over to you Jim:

First though let me introduce myself...

My name is Jim Symcox I’m a marketing evangelist, business growth coach and the features editor for the Northwest business newspaper "Good Company." So I understand and use PR myself.

Anyway, so what's the secret? I can almost see you drooling to find out.

Originally I read about it in a course I purchased from an old PR guru (Paul Hartunian). As I bought the course many years ago I'd assumed the Internet had replaced this method of getting publicity.

In actual fact the method itself is very simple.

Paul Krupin, a well known American PR guru, has done the research that shows 80% of US editors prefer to get a one page fax news release to an email.

So the secret is to fax your news release to the appropriate news editors.
Think about the reasons why fax is more popular amongst a large percentage of editors than email:

  • It's actually quicker to scan through a piece of paper than an email
  • You can hand-write in points to look into further directly on the paper
  • You can hand over a fax to another reporter to follow-up
  • It doesn't add to the clutter in your in-box

Now look at the benefits if you use your fax to send editors news:

  • You stand out because fewer faxes are received
  • You can’t be classified as SPAM and removed before you get to an in-box
  • Your release is seen the way you formatted it, rather than how their computer displays it

However, the proof is in the pudding, try it out for yourself and see your results.

I’ve only one caveat – make the release interesting!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A glimpse of the future

Simon Wharton of PushON has kindly given an overview of the Manchester Digital event: Search - what next?

Presentations by Google, Microsoft, University of Manchester and Hitwise among others gave an insight into the rapid changes taking place.

Amongst the things that impressed is image recognition service from Microsoft. If you have a photo of somewhere you cannot identify, then the software can recognise key features by comparing with similar images and it gives you the location and background information.

Simon gives an overview of the talks, although he struggles to get all points down (not a criticism) as the areas covered really demanded more than a day and not an afternoon. Still, let's hope more more of this type of event comes to Manchester.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Measuring PR - a realistic look?

PR is constantly having to justify itself and consequently is under pressure to deliver or rather prove a return. That is how it should be, to some extent, but it can be a difficult ask and the pressure is there to keep clients and to keep marketing money in the PR pot.

I came across one ridiculous claim by an associate of a PR agency that because a client was mentioned in a national that the entire page counted or that is how it seemingly worked. The estimate was the value of the page was over £150,000. However, the venue, which paid the PR money, was only to my perception mentioned in a line; the rest were images but nothing that gave the location away, being too close up. The celebrities used got £150,000 worth of value, if anyone. Did the client buy the PR patter?

Rick from Brazen PR estimates the value of editorial at 3:1 (for newspapers) or 4:1 (for magazines) if I remember rightly. This seems more reasonable.

Of course there is no definitive answer. However, I have been thinking that the value is what the client sees and what advertising value he would swap the PR for could be an accurate measure (although not without flaws).

Let me explain. I achieve coverage worth £10,000 (in a national) if paid for from an advertising budget. The editorial value is calculated at say £50,000.

Would the client accept £50,000 worth of advertising instead of my editorial achieved, after all editorial is more valuable?

How about £40,000 of advertising? Less? £25,000? Yes.

Then, surely the editorial in reality is worth that much as that is how much the client would pay for or swap it for.

Of course this is not perfect, but inflation of perceived value is not either.

Judi Goodwin - writing courses

Judi Goodwin brings her journalistic experience to two writing courses: Writing for the press (October 25th) and Writing PR features and advertorials (November 27th).

I can say from my own experience of one of Judi's courses that whatever your standard you will profit from attending. Judi's teaching style is also quite different: pushing students along quite strictly, but with much empathy.

Both courses will be held at Brazen PR, Great Ancoats Street, Manchester

For more information contact Judi on 01625 439 000 or

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Networking business achieves good profile PR

I have been advised to show a little of what I do on my blog and up till now I have shied away from that.

I think this is a start though.

I do some PR for Mark Greenwood from Networking4Business. Today he featured in the Metro, the free daily that is distributed on commuter routes. Read by 1 million, we managed to get near enough two thirds of a page.

Of course Mark's business is located in the North West and Yorkshire so coverage in London is not going to help Mark. On the other side, Manchester, Leeds where Mark has a base and Sheffield and Liverpool where he is aiming to establish new meetings will make that valuable profile building.