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

Advertisements

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.


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/


We are where we are – deal with it

February 15, 2013

New image 2013

OnStrategy consultancy launched to deliver real world advice

Whether we are on the brink of a triple dip recession or not is irrelevant.

No amount of navel gazing, wishful thinking for how things ‘could have/might have/should have’ been or indeed ‘once used to be’ will make things any different.  We are where we are and it’s not going to change any time soon.

Smaller budgets, reduced resources, greater demands for more from less are the new vernacular of business, sales, marketing and frankly anyone trying to cope financially.  Whether talking about your domestic housekeeping, a Government Department or an organisation’s marketing and PR budget, the language is much the same.

But whatever the current financial landscape there’s still a job to be done.  So could smart thinking be the way forward?

Of course the answer is yes; but where’s this thinking going to come from.  ‘Bright young things’ have bright, young – and largely unproven ideas and suggestions, which was all well and good in the Silicon Valley-esq and Nike ‘Just Do It’ way of the late 1990s and early Noughties, but…

Well exactly: there’s a but.  That was then and this is now.

Maybe the time has come to invest in some real world experience. Experience that will deliver a pragmatic, risk reduced way forward and one that needn’t cost a banker’s bonus especially if you buy it in by the day rather than add it to the payroll.

With this in mind, welcome to OnStrategy – the consultancy solution from LawsonClarke.

And the difference is?

It’s pure consultancy that’s delivered simply

  1. Meet – the first meeting is free
  2. Tell us your problem, discuss openly and honestly
  3. We’ll apply our lifetime experience gleaned from many years of brand engagement to come up with some pragmatic solution options, all to a pre-agreed scope, scale and cost.

What for?

  • Strategic thinking
  • Reputation auditing
  • Review of issues/crisis management
  • ‘What if’ scoping
  • Review of resources, internal and external
  • Recommendation of solutions

Simple.  End of.

If you’re a client business, we promise not to sell you anything else.  If you’re an agency, we’ll happily work alongside you to the best of our combined ability for the good of your client.

Real world advice.  Drawing on our intuition and born out of 40 years brand/marketing/PR management experience, and over 30 years creating and running our own successful business.

Call us.  The initial meeting is free.

Tel:     +44 (0)1285 658844

E-mail: onstrategy@lawsonclarke.co.uk


Why the red bus?

December 18, 2012

 

 LawsonClarke Avatar

LawsonClarke avatar

We frequently get asked why we have a London bus as our Twitter and Facebook avatar.

The answer is quite simple.  We own one, in fact the very one in the photograph – Routemaster RML 2352.

That inevitably results in the next incredulous question: “What on earth do you want a bus for?” to which the answer isn’t nearly so straight forward.

The short answer lies somewhere amongst the following:

 CUV 352C doing what it did best, Marble Arch late 90s

CUV 352C doing what it did best, Marble Arch late ‘90s

  • It’s a design icon and top 10 British design classic
  • An automotive engineering masterpiece
  • A fascinating 50 year time capsule of London life since the ‘Swinging Sixties’
  • Nostalgia – like many others I used to travel home on double deckers after school and commuted on Routemasters when working in London
  • As advertising manager at Peugeot we advertised on them
 Top 10 British Design classic

Top 10 British design classic

  • They make people smile

Admittedly it’s also slightly eccentric but we cope with that!

The long answer is not only longer and involves a number of people to thank – or blame! – but probably only of interest to classic vehicle enthusiasts, so feel free to jump off here!

The story starts on the Guild of Motoring Writers’ diamond jubilee celebration classic car run to Northern Spain in September 2004.  After several days touring – we were in a 1973 Triumph TR6, a celebration dinner was held in the Centro del Vina Villa Lucia Cena in the Rioja region.  After a fair quantity of the wine cellar’s contents had been sampled, the conversation turned to what vehicle we might bring on the next Guild Classic.  On asking the rally planner Steve Brown of European Rallies Ltd (ERL) if we could have a route with a 14ft 6ins height clearance, he picked up the challenge and said “you buy it, I’ll plan it.”

Shortly afterwards, motoring journalist Brian Laban wrote a piece in the Daily Telegraph in which he compared driving a Routemaster with the Volvo VLW Wright Eclipse Gemini – Transport for London’s (TfL) then new generation ‘low-floor’ double-decker, and the now infamous Mercedes Citaro Bendi-Bus at the Millbrook Proving Ground.  In it he commented on how “astonishingly easy” the Routemaster was to drive while also providing details of where you could buy one as TfL was selling off its remaining stock of these iconic buses.  Read his piece here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/2731580/On-the-buses.html

Somewhat bizarrely – it must have been fate! – a few days later I found myself sitting next to Brian on a table hosted by Andrew Didlick, PR director of Peugeot UK at the annual Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) dinner.  Poor man was quizzed ruthlessly, but he patiently answered my questions and confirmed just how easy it was to drive.

 Routemaster Technical Data

Technical detail

Contact was made with Steve Newman of Ensign Bus, the company charged with handling the disposal of buses as each route had its Routemaster fleet de-commissioned and replaced with new vehicles.

Several visits to Ensign at Purfleet, conversations with Steve and online research narrowed the search to our preferred model, an RML.  At 30ft the ‘Routemaster Long’ is 2ft 7ins longer than the standard RM and more pleasing aesthetically than its shorter cousin.  The RML seats 72 people, eight more than the RM and is instantly recognisable from the side by its additional small centre windows on both decks.  We also wanted one powered by either a Scania or Cummins engine, the other option being an Iveco which we had been warned off for various reasons, not least because it didn’t sound like a Routemaster! (The Routemaster fleet was re-engined during the early 1990s as the original AEC units needed replacing).

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Not in great shape

We eventually found RML2352 languishing in a yard packed with old buses.  It was in less than perfect condition, but it appeared as though it wouldn’t take too much TLC to get it roadworthy and apart from a gearbox failure (!) on the day we were due to collect it, took delivery the following week – 18 July 2005. Less than a year later and with the promised height clearance, we took part in the 2006 Guild Classic to Ypres in Belgium.

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Journos and PRs set off for the gala dinner  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Arriving in Calais

Journos and PRs set off for the gala dinner

Fill ‘er up Jean   Claude!

Today RML2352 is as they say in classic bus vernacular ‘in preservation’.  Classed as an historic vehicle, it benefits from being free to tax and is insured complete with roadside breakdown cover for a relatively modest annual premium.  This restricts it to carrying just eight passengers, but can be driven on a car licence!

 Annual MOT test  All aboard for the LawsonClarke Christmas lunch
Annual MOT test      All aboard for the LawsonClarke            Christmas lunch


More information about the Routemaster:
 

The Bus We Loved by Travis Elborough: http://traviselborough.co.uk/books-3/the-bus-we-loved/

Routemaster Association: http://routemaster.org.uk/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Routemaster