Morgan – a suitable case for treatment

October 18, 2013

What price reputation?

News of the ‘divorce’ between the Morgan Car Company http://www.morgan-motor.co.uk/ and its eponymous former MD and brand champion Charles Morgan, shocked and disappointed the automotive world in equal measure this week.

A bland and largely uninformative statement http://www.morgan-motor.co.uk/mmc/downloads/pressreleases/morgantechupdate2.pdf announcing the departure of Charles, the third generation Morgan to steer the legendary car company, was contrasted by comments from Morgan himself about his intention to overturn the decision, http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/industry/charles-morgan-fight-morgan-motor-company-ousting-mmc-responds-updated and a Twitter profile set up by Morgan employees: https://twitter.com/mogemplyees

As with any separation, the story will be complicated, messy and may never be fully told, or at least not until someone writes their book. While money talks, share ownership has the shout – just watch any episode of Dragons’ Den, and a pound to a penny the bean counters have decided that the business will be commercially better off without Mr Morgan. But in the meantime they’ve left the brand’s reputation at risk.

Accountants don’t much care for PR, reputation, brand value, call it what you will. You can count the volume of parts in the stock room, the number of manufactured units leaving the factory gate and the positive or negative effect that and a few other things have on cash flow. While possibly and begrudgingly accepting that ‘goodwill’ might have an invisible net asset value, it’s an easy one to overlook, and besides: ‘This will soon blow over and everyone will forget what all the fuss was about….’

Or will they?

There are others better placed to talk about the history of Morgan, but surely what its customers like, why they pay handsomely and wait so patiently for their cars to be built, is that everything is so different. Different from the cut and thrust of the modern disposable nature of consumerism, yet nostalgically familiar and yes, old fashioned. Values that also include knowing that members of the family whose name appears on the badge are still running things.

So if the top man is suddenly and unceremoniously removed, what does that say about those who made such a decision, and the future of that badge?

While it might be difficult for an accountant to attribute increased orders in the sales ledger to reputation, it’ll be a lot easier to pin point the moment when sales started to decline.

The Morgan Car Company is about people not spreadsheets. The people who run it, work for it and buy its cars. It needs to talk to its audience and explain what’s going on – and quickly.

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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


IT’S GOOD TO SHARE!

September 11, 2013

LAWSONCLARKE PR APPOINTED TO LAUNCH SILVER SHUTTLE – THE BEST VALUE DOOR-TO-DOOR SERVICE FOR HEATHROW & OTHER LONDON AIRPORTS

Consumer PR agency, LawsonClarke PR has been appointed by Silver Shuttle to launch its new transfer service for London Heathrow and other London airports. The new service is designed for those living in or visiting London and South East England, and offers unbeatable prices with door-to-door convenience through online booking. Image Whether travelling on business, as a couple, small family or group of friends, Silver Shuttle offers great money-saving prices especially on its shared service options where similar journeys are matched together.  With such low prices, transfers to London airports now come within the reach of the most budget-conscious travellers who can benefit from a stress-free service without any of the normal hassles associated with getting to the airport.

The PR campaign will focus on the national and consumer travel media, as well as press, online and social media to reach business travellers, women travelling alone, families, the retired and students.

Silver Shuttle will collect passengers from their office, home or hotel and get them to the airport on time, in comfort and with complete peace of mind.  No more worries about what time to leave, which terminal to go to and lugging heavy luggage around, and there are even ‘Best Price’ and ‘On Time’ guarantees. 

Image

Speaking to Gorkana, Jeremy Clarke, MD of LawsonClarke PR commented: “The Silver Shuttle concept is one of those ‘great ideas’ everyone has had while standing in a long queue waiting for a taxi. If you only knew who was going in roughly the same direction, you could get to your destination more quickly and share the cost. Silver Shuttle solves just this problem for anyone travelling to and from the airport. Currently focused on Heathrow, it will be rolled-out to other airports in due course.”

Online booking at www.silvershuttle.com is quick and easy, and provides one way journeys (to or from the airport) as well as return bookings, with three different levels of service: SuperSaver Shuttle, Saver Shuttle and Standard Shuttle.  Alternatively, you can call +44 (0)330 223 0100.

SuperSaver Shuttle is the best-priced of the three service options, and is suited to those people who can be more flexible with their timings.  Journeys will almost certainly be shared with up to three other bookings, and the journey will take a little longer depending on the route.  Bookings need to be made by 2.00pm on the day before travel, with confirmation of actual pick-up times by SMS text messaging and e-mail by 6.00pm.

Saver Shuttle offers competitive pricing with a 50% possibility of sharing the vehicle with at least one other booking.  Ideal for families of up to four individuals and the more time-conscious travelling on a budget, bookings need to be made by 2.00pm on the day prior to travel.

Standard Shuttle is for individuals or small groups of up to eight passengers travelling direct to the airport (or vice versa) by car or MPV depending on the number travelling.  Savings of approximately 50% can be expected compared with a licensed London Taxi (Hackney carriage), and the deadline for booking is 8.00pm on the day prior to travel.

Image As well as the simplicity and convenience of booking on-line, including a pick-up time calculator, the Silver Shuttle service keeps travellers fully informed by e-mail and text messaging. Check-in luggage is charged separately and minor amendments can be made to the booking up to the booking deadline at no extra cost, after which there is a modest cancellation fee.

“Silver Shuttle has been designed to take the anxiety and hassle out of getting to and from the airport,” says James Stait, one of the founding directors behind the new service.  “Whether it’s about check-in time, which terminal to arrive at or your baggage allowance, there’s always so much to consider, so we ensure the journey to and from the airport is one less thing to worry about.  From clicking on the website to stepping out of the car, travelling with Silver Shuttle is a seamless and pleasant experience with excellent service at the heart of what we do.”

Image The company works with licensed private hire operators and provides reliable and experienced drivers with quality saloon cars or MPVs.  A ‘meet & greet’ service is provided for airport collections, and scheduled airline arrival and landing times are monitored so passengers can be reassured that the driver will be there even if their flight is delayed.

Full information is available on: www.silvershuttle.com


LawsonClarke PR to promote five-property portfolio in Umbria, Italy

June 11, 2013

Monte Nibbio Estates has appointed consumer PR specialists LawsonClarke PR to handle its media relations, and will be announcing the opportunity to purchase one or more properties comprising its rare portfolio of five historic buildings.

The consultancy which specialises in property PR, will be handling communications with the media in the UK and Europe, while also looking to secure international coverage especially in North America, the Middle East, Russia, India and Far East.

 Villa San Benigno  Iconic Umbrian view  Vineyard at Monte Nibbio
Villa San Benigno – ready for occupation Iconic Umbrian view Vineyard at Monte Nibbio
 

The Monte Nibbio portfolio comprises:

  • One completed property with its own vineyard – Villa San Benigno – €1,350,000
  • One ready to be completed property – Monte Nibbio – €3,200,000
  • Three properties available for development from €350,000
  • All five properties – €6,000,000

Surrounded by iconic Umbrian countryside and located close to the historic town of Todi – approximately 30 kms south of Perugia and mid-way between Florence and Rome – the five individual properties offer a wide range of possibilities to the private owner or institutional investor. While the smaller properties are perfect for development into private homes, Monte Nibbio and Villa San Benigno could potentially become a boutique hotel or spa.

Several of the properties have historical provenance, none more so than Monte Nibbio which dates back to medieval Christian times when it offered sanctuary to returning Crusaders in the 13th century, and was a Benedictine convent in the 16th century.

The properties all enjoy wonderful rural locations, deep in hidden valleys, surrounded by olive groves and vineyards, or positioned on a private hilltop with 360° panoramic views and accessed via an ancient country road.

About Monte Nibbio Estates www.montenibbio.com

The portfolio of five properties now for purchase has been assembled over the past 15 years by businessmen and friends, Peter Mullin and Kieran Hedigan.

A successful Irish-American businessman, Peter Mullin is based in Los Angeles with interests that extend to reinsurance and financial services.  He is a highly regarded car collector and over the years has assembled one of the greatest collections of Bugattis which can be viewed at his own museum in California:www.mullinautomotivemuseum.com

Kieran Hedigan first visited Todi in 2000 and has had a home there for over 10 years.  He divides his time between Todi, Qatar and the United Kingdom, and is responsible for the day-to-day management of the properties and their redevelopment.


30 years at LawsonClarke – you get less for murder!

May 2, 2013

“It seems like a lifetime ago,” says Sue Hitchcock who received a letter dated 23rd September 1982 offering her the position of part-time secretary/PA to the managing director of Cirencester based PR consultancy, LawsonClarke PR, her first job after secretarial college.  Sue Hitchcock

“Indeed it has been a lifetime, and as the joke goes, you get less for murder,” adds Sue, who still works in the business as office manager and ‘right hand person’ to the company’s MD, Jeremy Clarke.

“The business has always adopted a flexible approach to employment.  I started working four half days (16 hours a week) – effectively job sharing.  This quickly developed into a full time role, and over the last couple of years, I have chosen to reduce my time so I have longer weekends.

“As with any service based business, the workload is determined by the number of clients you have, the number of staff, and inevitably the economic conditions, but it’s the variety and interest of the work that has kept me in the same role for so long.

“As a hedge against the cyclical nature of the economy and with the increasing cost and bureaucracy attached to employing people, the company adopted a new way of outsourcing to professional and specialist consultants some 20 years ago.  While this was seen quite radical and certainly unusual in the early nineties, it is now a method of working that many PR companies have adopted.

“So while there may not always be that many people in the office, there are colleagues working remotely, and many of these have become good friends over the years.

“We specialise primarily in consumer PR, so I am regularly talking to journalists in the national, consumer and broadcast media.  We worked with Brabantia, the housewares brand for 24 years, and do a lot in property where we have several clients including Monte Nibbio Estates in Italy, and the Cotswolds property specialists Butler Sherborn.  Automotive is also a core market, and we are the press office for the Korean car maker, SsangYong, so there’s always something different when I walk in each morning, and no day is ever the same.”

Said Jeremy Clarke: “At a time when people seem to change jobs quite frequently, it is a remarkable achievement to remain working with the same company for over 30 years. Those who have known us for a long time often ask ‘is Sue still working for you?’ and are truly surprised that she is, speaking more about her than her employer I suspect!

“As I said when we celebrated her 25 years with the company, her dedication, commitment and loyalty are rare qualities, and hugely appreciated,” he added.


How happy are you with your PR?

January 25, 2012

Journalists can be a very critical lot, and have high expectations of the service they receive from PR people.  So we asked 100 consumer journalists what they thought about the service they receive from us. 

“If you attended LawsonClarke’s recent press event, how useful did you find it?”

100%

Very Useful or Useful

0%

Neither Useful nor Unuseful

   
   

 

“How satisfied are you with the quality of the press release writing?” 93.3%Very Satisfied or Satisfied

6.7%Neither Satisfied nor Dissatisfied

 
   

 

“When contacting the LawsonClarke press office, how satisfied are you with the overall service including response and the level of product knowledge?” 90.3%

Very Satisfied or Satisfied

9.7%

Neither Satisfied nor Dissatisfied

 

 Additional positive feedback:

 “I received price info and high-res images almost immediately after requesting, very pleased with the service.” Sainsbury’s Magazine

“I have worked with the Lawson Clarke team for many years and have always received a fast and professional service.” SHE Magazine

“Keep up the good work!” Freelance journalist

“Extremely happy with the professional, efficient and friendly service that Lawson Clarke has always supplied over the years.  Long may it continue.” Freelance journalist

If you’d like to improve your brand’s relationship with the press, improve your reputation or discuss any other aspect of your PR communication, just get in touch with us.