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.

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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


SsangYong renews its relationship with LawsonClarke PR

November 4, 2010
Korando on the international press launch in Mallorca

Korando on the international press launch in Mallorca

After a seven-year break, LawsonClarke PR is again managing the UK media relations for SsangYong, the Korean automotive brand.

The consultancy was instrumental in launching the Rexton for the previous importer in 2003, and has recently assisted with the international launch in Mallorca of the brand’s first crossover vehicle, the Korando.

Designed in Europe by Giorgetto Giugiaro and on sale in January, the new Korando represents a major step forward for the brand, and allows SsangYong to expand from its core SUV (sport utility vehicle) model range.

Press release, press pack and images available from: http://www.lawsonclarke.com/releases/press-ssangyong.htm

Corporately, the company is in the final stages of confirming its new global partnership with Mahindra & Mahindra of India; announced in August, this is scheduled to be concluded within the next few weeks.

“These are exciting times for the brand and there will be a lot to talk about,” says Paul Williams, managing director of importer, Koelliker UK Ltd, “and we’re delighted to have teamed-up with LawsonClarke to assist us.”