Are you getting the most out of your PR?

October 16, 2013

Much has been said about the last few years of economic difficulty, but as we emerge from the bunker and dust off the cobwebs, what does this mean to businesses wanting to promote themselves?

A lot of change has taken place in the intervening years, both within businesses and the media, and we’ve been reflecting on what this means to organisations wanting to promote themselves as the economy starts to gather pace.

The property market is a key economic barometer and also one of our areas of specialization, so while much of our observation is centred on property the same holds true to most other sectors.

Property coverage

The value of PR

  • Press coverage helps to promote and sell good/photogenic properties
  • Builds awareness of the business
  • Enhances its reputation, especially in regard to its geographic area, field of operation and type of property sold
  • Establishes a dialogue with journalists writing about that area and type of property
  • Helps integrate press and online coverage with other social media channels – especially Twitter and Facebook
  • This consequently aids SEO and reach

What’s happened to the media over the last few years?

  • During the recession, national newspapers scaled back their property pages and supplements as their advertising revenues declined
  • This reduced the amount of editorial space, making it even harder to achieve coverage
  • Consequently, fewer journalists are employed by the principal national newspapers, and many have gone freelance and work from home
  • This has made contacting employed journalists harder
  • Knowing where freelancers are, what they specialise in and how to contact them is also difficult, partly because the newspapers won’t tell you
  • Newspapers, their journalists and freelancers are all online – blogging and on Twitter

The way most agents generally handle PR

  • Local coverage is usually easily achieved and often on the back of paid-for advertising
  • Property particulars are sometimes and randomly sent to certain national publications such as Country Life, but not on a planned or regular basis
  • Consequently few regional agents secure much national coverage

In summary

  • Communication channels have multiplied and splintered
  • The consumer is accessing information via this multitude of sources – so new media cannot be ignored
  • Finding out who is writing about what is more difficult
  • Determining the influence of journalists and bloggers is harder
  • Securing coverage is even more valuable than it was
  • Sharing and seeding coverage is vital to maximise reach and investment

With the increased complexity of reaching and communicating with your audience, it is more important than ever that your PR role is taken seriously and managed professionally.  This either means employing someone in-house with the right skills, or using a PR consultant with the knowledge, press contacts and relevant market sector experience.  With the market showing signs of recovery, now is a good time to review your current arrangements.

We have worked with a range of property businesses over the past 10 years, and helped them all to ‘punch above their weight’ by securing regular national media exposure alongside much larger players with hefty advertising spend.

Our property clients include Richmond Villages which designs, builds and operates premium retirement villages; Monte Nibbio Estates, a small portfolio of properties in Umbria; The Bay, a contemporary development of holiday homes in Cornwall; Butler Sherborn, the Cotswolds property specialist; and EcoSpace, the architect designed and original contemporary garden studios. All have successfully secured coverage through LawsonClarkePR in the likes of The Sunday Times, Daily & Sunday Telegraph, The Times and London Evening Standard.

Some examples of recent media coverage are included here, and others can be viewed at: LawsonClarke PR

We are happy to work on short, one-off projects through to planned, on-going programmes of activity, and operate to sensible budgets that deliver realistic results.

If you would like to increase your national press coverage and think an initial discussion might help, please contact us at : clarke@lawsonclarke.co.uk or call: 01285 658844

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Think about your avatar

April 2, 2013

The whole social media thing evolved at such a phenomenal rate that typically when most people joined the rush to be on Facebook or Twitter they simply scrabbled around and grabbed any old image for their avatar.

Bish, bash, bosh and with little thought to strategy, it was up there for all the world to see where probably it remains to this day.

But whether you’re online as an individual, a company or brand, we’d venture to suggest that the image you choose needs a bit more consideration.

As has been commented on ad nauseam elsewhere, if you’re online you should have a strategy….or at least have given some thought as to why you’re Tweeting, on Facebook or whatever platform you’ve chosen.

For strategy, read: who, what, where, when, and most importantly – why!  Oh yes, and how?

Who do you want to communicate with?

What do you want to talk about?

Where will you be doing it – at home, work, on the move?

When and how often?

Why do you want to?

How – what tools are you going to use – laptop, desk top, iPad, smartphone, TweetDeck, HootSuite?

Which brings us back to the image or avatar.  Your avatar should be – as the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) puts it – a ‘visible manifestation of an abstract concept’.

Some Top Tips

1. As a company or brand, using your logo as it appears in the corporate identity manual seems the obvious answer – but isn’t that just a bit too corporate and obvious?  It also completely misses the point behind social media which is about engaging with your audience and joining them in conversation on the same level, not preaching to them in the authoritative manner of yore.  If you do use a logo, at least come up with a creative interpretation to help communicate the brand’s personality.

2. Your avatar should be an expression of who you are or what your company is about.  It should also be distinctive and instantly recognisable, especially as your online reputation will be associated with the visual icon you select.

3. If you choose to use a head and shoulders shot, make sure it’s clear and recognisable as you or associated in some way to what you’re writing about.  And under any circumstances, do not use a cut out from your best mate’s stag do or hen party!

4. Use the same avatar to link your profile on different channels – this will aid recognition so your friends and followers can easily find you.

Here are a couple of examples worth checking out from Twitter:

Richard Branson gets trotted out as the exemplar of ‘best practice’ for so many aspects of business, and no change here. He is the embodiment of Virgin, so no surprise he chooses an image of himself over the brand logo: @RichardBranson   @RichardBranson
 Mipaa  @MajorGav

@mipaa does use its logo, or at least part of it and creatively.

Blogger @MajorGav employs a distinctive avatar that visually communicates his subject area.

 @ButlerSherborn  @SYMotorUK

Estate agents @ButlerSherborn took the lime leaf from its identity which stands out well from the crowd.

SsangYong @SYMotorUK utilises the badge on the front of one its cars, while the colour combination is both distinctive and memorable.

5. If you’re considering refreshing your avatar or even changing it to reflect a particular initiative, season or campaign, give this careful thought.  Aim for evolution rather than a complete change to retain some identifiable element to aid recognition.  Alternatively, use an evolved image temporarily and return to the master avatar in due course.

6. If you are ever tempted to apply a Twibbon http://twibbon.com/ in support of a particular cause, do make sure you remove it afterwards. It doesn’t look good to still be sporting a Remembrance Day poppy on your avatar weeks after the event!

For more tips on ‘Creating a Better Professional Online Profile’, click here:

http://www.commpro.biz/corporate-social-media-zone/social-media-marketing/twitter-who-10-steps-to-creating-a-better-professional-online-profile/


Good photography for successful PR images

December 5, 2012

At a time when we all have a smartphone, it’s easy to believe that anyone can be a good photographer.

But achieving great photographs that work for your brand and communicate your key messages needs thought and consideration.

In today’s media savvy world, photography is essential both in print and increasingly online.  It used to be important for accompanying press releases or marketing collateral, but now strong images are also needed to attract and engage socially via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest et al.

In this blog we’re going to look at the basic requirements for commissioning photography primarily for print, and a future blog will look at creating ‘Images for the Internet’.

So here are 10 Top Tips to help you achieve successful images.

Know what you want

Only then can you properly brief a photographer to achieve what you’re after.  Have a vision for the images you want to achieve – even source some examples – so you can discuss this with them in advance and they can tell you whether it’s realistic.

Choosing your photographer

Work with a photographer who has the experience you need.  Start by having a good look at his or her folio or website.  Make sure they have the experience you require by subject – people, fashion, still life, sport, automotive, interiors, reportage etc – and see whether they are best suited to working on location or in a studio.  Just because someone did a great job of your sister’s wedding pictures doesn’t qualify them to take action sports shots.

What’s the story?

Remember these two sayings: ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’, and ‘Every picture tells a story’.  This is especially true today.  We are all now ‘time poor’, and with so much information available to us through so many different channels, everyone’s attention span is getting shorter.

Faced with hundreds of different stories, editors often select images they think will look good on the page and then decide on the copy. Help them by providing images that will enhance the look of their publications and websites – and get your story featured!

The Round House Waterside homes are a firm favourite with property journalists, and the rowing boat helps set the scene and tell the story.
Credit: Butler Sherborn

Composition

Remember that the subject or product has to be the hero of the image.  A creative shot may look great, but will people focus on what you want them to see or just an overall impression?

Also choose a background or location that complements the subject and helps communicate the story.

 Korando We needed a commercial background to promote this van version of the Korando 4×4.  While providing an attractive backdrop, the line up of JCBs also added to the story.  This portrait shaped image was designed as a possible front cover. 
Credit: SsangYong

Variety

The more different and varied images you can produce, the more likely an editor is to find a shot they like.  Remember to provide different angles, as well as shots that can be used as cut outs.

Korando - 2 Korando (off rd)-5919
Credit: SsangYong
These two shots were part of a series to illustrate this new off-road vehicle; both have featured widely in the press and online.

Format

When briefing photography for print media it is worth considering the format needed to maximise your opportunities.  Not every shot needs to be landscape (horizontal), and be sure to include some portrait (vertical) formats for possible use as a magazine front cover – editors often struggle to find images that are the right shape.  Remember to allow clear space at the top of the image for the publication’s masthead/title to be printed, as well as at the bottom or the side for cover mentions.  Think about the way the shot could be used.  If it’s for a possible double page spread (DPS) think about where the gutter (space between the columns of text) or spine (central crease) will fall on the image.  You don’t want a person’s face or a company’s badge or logo falling into this area.

Avoid stereotype images

It’s easy to create the same-old clichéd images such as pictures of two businessmen in shiny suits shaking hands as they agree a contract, hand over keys or receive an award.  Try and come up with something a bit different that will grab the editor’s attention and leap off the page.

 Owen Vaughan When Owen Vaughan, head gardener at Richmond Villages Painswick won an RHS Gardening Excellence award, we wanted a shot of him doing what he does best!
Credit: Richmond Villages


Write a brief

This needs to confirm the objectives, the type of images and their purpose.  Confirm the venue – location or studio, any props, models and materials required, as well as the budget.

Attend the shoot

See for yourself what is and isn’t achievable.  By actually looking through the lens and reviewing the images with the photographer as the shoot progresses, you’ll learn about important things such as light, shadow and background.  This will also help ensure you get the pictures you’ll be happy with.

Attention to detail

Keep looking and questioning to see what might be wrong.  For example, if a car is being driven, is the driver wearing a seat belt?  If people are involved, are they smiling, grimacing, wearing sunglasses or light sensitive glasses that darken in bright light?  Avoid these at all cost!  While retouching is always an option, you want to avoid the expense of a re-shoot.

Compiled in association with award winning photographer, Michael Bailie  http://www.michaelbailie.com/

Note:

Another blog in the near future will look at creating ‘Images for the Internet’.

©Copyright 2012