How did I get here?

When I was growing up, I didn’t dream having a career in PR, if I am honest, I didn’t even know such a thing existed other than in the world of Absolutely Fabulous. When I was small, I had several dreams of what I would be which included:

Becoming a nun (I was about 8) – not because I was particularly religious but because I had a kid crush on Captain von Trapp from The Sound of Music. I don’t think wanting to marry a handsome man is reason to become a nun.

A heart and a lung surgeon (I was 11) – turns out I was ok at science (not great but ok) and biology was my best science but given I couldn’t really deal with any of the dissection stuff I doubt I would have been a success.

A lawyer – Not sure what prompted this desire.

I am sure if I spoke to my mum, she would have a full list of careers I had dreamt of. In the end I decided that I wanted to be a journalist and between the ages of 16 and 18 did quite a bit of work experience on local newspapers before heading to university to study a journalism degree.

I loved journalism until the point that I graduated and got a job as a journalist (well editorial assistant) at which point I realised that it wasn’t for me. I didn’t like the intrusiveness, the fact you were expected to knock on people’s doors at bad times in their lives and I didn’t enjoy the newsroom atmosphere (shouty with a lot of testosterone). After only a year I had a rethink and decided I still wanted to write, and I wanted to speak to people and hear their stories and that led me to the world of PR.

20 years later and I still love it. I love hearing what makes people tick, how they got to where they are, why they need help and helping them share that story. Whether it is working with a charity, getting a small business seen, helping people promote the work they are doing I enjoy it. I still get the same buzz when an event goes well, or I see a client in print or hear them on the radio as I did when I started out. In fact I maybe feel it even more now since I started working for myself and have my own clients, because I really enjoy working with all the businesses, I do PR for.

What do you love about your work?

PR Tips: 1 People don’t buy your product. They buy your story.

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I have been thinking about the most common things that come up when people first speak to me about working with them on a PR campaign.  With that in mind I thought that I would create some short blogs outlining my top PR tips.

When people  get in touch they usually want me to spread the word about their product or service, which is great as that is what I am here to do but quite often  unless the product or service is totally unique it will be hard to get coverage.

All is not lost though, there is always another angle and this is where your story comes into play.  Most people have a story but very often, as it is just part of their life they don’t realise that the story would be of interest to others.

This is why when I first start working with a client I sit down with them and have an in-depth chat not just about their business but their background and how they got to where they are now.

Have a think.  What’s your story?

 

 

 

10 Ways PR can help your business

cropped-33362-beck-call-public-relations-logo.jpgIf you think that PR is just for big businesses think again. PR is a tool that can help all businesses. It’s a cost effective way of spreading the word about all the great things you’re doing, which will help differentiate your company from your competitors.
So, how can PR help your business?
1. It’s cost effective
A press release is a fraction of the cost of an advertisement and can often only be the cost of a call or email to the right person. An example of this is, over the past year I have been working with a client. The PR coverage achieved for them has reached more than 800,000 people and if it had been paid for advertising would have cost nearly £45,000.
2. Raises awareness
PR lets people know that you exist and what you offer. The more people see or hear about your business the more likely it is that you will spring to mind when they require your services.
3. Can improve your reputation
Everybody has an opinion about companies they come into contact with whether it be staff, customers, suppliers or investors. Having somebody work with you on your PR will allow you to manage your reputation.
4. It’s good for your bottom line
PR is less expensive than advertising and the benefits of PR can be much more substantial. One good media placement can lead to a substantial increase in sales and growth, and because many small businesses have a unique story to tell, they are interesting to the media.
5. Build brand values
Every business has messages they want to convey to their customers about their product, the type of business they are and who they are. Public relations is ideal for communicating these and, over time, helping you build a loyal customer base.
6. Gaining credibility
Great PR can give your business credibility. A positive endorsement from a third party in the form of a news story generates much more credibility than an advertisement.
7. Builds online reputation
In a world where more and more news is online, PR can help build your online reputation and improve your SEO. Once the positive press is online, there it will stay, meaning that whenever anybody searches for you they find stories about you. Your business will reap the benefits.
8. Supports other marketing and advertising activities
PR is a great way of supporting your other marketing activities. By integrating all of your marketing you can ensure that consistent messages are being delivered. If you are running an advert this will probably see an increase in people searching for information about your company, so it can help to have some positive informative articles out there
9. Can assist in a crisis
No business wants to be in a crisis but if it does happen PR can help turn it around and ensure that you get the right messages out to the public, staff and your stakeholders.
10. Help you achieve your business goals
Whether your goals are to increase sales or to raise your profile, PR can help you achieve them.
Hopefully you found these tips useful and informative. If you would like further advice or support then please get in touch. Call us 07974 306914 or email sayhello@beckandcallpr.co.uk

What did you say you do?

What do you think I do?
What do you think I do?

A typical scenario for me is I meet somebody and the conversation turns to careers I get asked “What do you do?” I respond “I work in public relations” cue one of two responses:
1. A blank look and swiftly moving on
2. “Oh so you come up with adverts?”
Many people don’t understand what PR people actually do, which is understandable as it is a job where there is no typical day. To explain what it is I do here are a few examples of things that I have done recently.

Social media
Each week I manage the social media for three clients. This includes coming up with status updates, researching relevant content to be used on their chosen social media platforms this might be promoting events on Facebook, sharing relevant news related to their industries or managing Linkedin accounts. I also spend time analysing the stats to make campaigns more effective, what sort of updates are getting the most engagement? At what times are people most likely to see a post? Which updates are most likely to be shared or retweeted?

Blogging
I love writing blogs for clients and currently write for two each week. I come up with the topics, research them and ensure they are written in the voice of the business. This can mean going from writing about cleaning tips to telling people the beauty of holidaying in Devon.

Newsletters
Clients want to get their news and offers out to perspective customers but sometimes don’t have the time or know how, this is where I come in. I’m currently working on the monthly newsletter for a bar/restaurant I work for. I often have to work in advance so although it is only August I have my Christmas head on to make sure that customers know what fun they could have if they booked their Christmas party at this establishment.

Press releases
Lately I have been creating press releases on a variety of topics including an Arctic expedition, an author undertaking some crazy challenges and a charity event. When writing a release I first need to establish what audience the client wishes to target trade, consumer, specialist etc, what the call to action is and what the client wants the outcome to be. I then put it all together into what is (hopefully) an interesting story that will whet the journalists appetite to find out more. This leads me nicely on to what comes after the press release…..

Journalists
I spend much of my time finding the right journalist who will be interested in a client. A lot of what I do is about building relationships and getting the journalist to see my client as the first port of call should they need a comment on a topic related to their field. Journalists can be a PR’s best friend or worst enemy, sometimes they will really get on board with an idea and give more space to a piece of news than I thought, other times they can promise great coverage but if a big story comes in the story can be dropped like a hot potato.

Writing articles
This is different to press releases. Whereas press releases are there to tell the clients story to the journalist who may then wish to do a further interview, send out a photographer and often writer a longer piece. Article writing is putting the feature together for the publication, in their style on behalf of the client I am working for. In the past I have written features for a teen magazine as a 15 year old living with a disability, a thought leadership piece in the guise of chairperson of recruitment company and I am currently working on 1,000 words for a renovation publication on the behalf of an hotelier.

Media events
If you’ve got an event or an activity that you want the media to attend then I’m the person you need. A PR person will source the relevant media and journalist, send them details, invite them, create media packs with all your information in and attend the event to make sure you get to speak to the key people. My most recent press event was for a play that was opening in London, with only four days’ notice I managed to get 20 reviewers from local, national and theatre specific press to attend.

Pitching
Being self-employed means I have to spend much of my time pitching for new business. Pitching can vary some people just want me to produce a breakdown of what I can do along with costs, some want a full presentation and others want a formal interview, whatever the task I spend time researching the client to look at what the most effective way will be to reach their goals.

This is just a small amount of what working in PR means as well as organising events, finding celebrities to front campaigns, promoting my own business and networking. Hopefully having read this the next time somebody says they work in PR you’ll have a better idea of what this means.

If you need help with any of the services outlined above please get in touch at sayhello@beckandcallpr.co.uk or visit my website Beck & Call Public Relations

I’m the boss of me – Becoming self-employed

Self employment

When I launched Beck & Call PR in November 2013 I wasn’t one hundred percent sure what I would encounter, how to go about it and what challenges I would face.  All I did know was that after 14 years working in the PR departments of various organisations I wanted to take the skills I had gained and use them to help SME’s that may be didn’t need full time PR support or couldn’t justify a full-time salary but had great businesses that people needed to hear about.

So with some trepidation, a supportive husband and a handful of contacts from networking Beck and Call PR came to life.  Whilst I was fine with the setting up of bank accounts, registering with the HMRC etc there were a few things that I wish I had known.

Patience really is a virtue

When it comes to work some clients are really organised and will know in advance that they want help with PR for a project giving you time to plan and execute the work in good time.  Others decide just days before that they want help and it is all systems go and then there are those who get in touch, you discuss, put together your proposal, pitch if needs be only to discover that they either a. Are never going to give you a yes or no answer b. The vanish completely or c. Return saying they want to work with you six months later but the whole planning, pitching process needs to start all over again as the project has changed.

Sometimes you’ll feel rich and at others poor

I’m really hopeful that this will be a new business problem rather than an on-going one, cash flow.  Some months it seems like you’ve cracked it, your income for the month is great then the following month projects come to an end, work you’re waiting to start isn’t quite ready and your finances dip.

The same goes for work itself….

Feast or Famine

There have been periods where clients have been few and far between especially at the start, followed by periods where I am working all the hours I can to get projects completed.  What I would say is enjoy it, all of it.  When it’s a famine use the time to do more work on your own business, look for new clients and get out networking.  When it is a feast enjoy it to, you’re doing something you love and getting paid for it.

Some people won’t take your advice

I’d experienced this whilst working in companies but for some reason didn’t expect it when I was self employed, but alas it is so.  Some clients will employ you for your expertise and then choose not to take your advice.  The way I deal with this is to ensure that I explain why I think something won’t work, offer alternatives but ultimately it comes down to what the client wants which unfortunately doesn’t always mean they get as good a result as they could have done.

The work/life balance is worth it.

When I decided to work for myself I had all the usual worries about finances and finding clients but one of my main motivators was I wanted a greater work-life balance.  I was tired of having to travel miles each week, sick of having spent years in various office environments and having to wrangle to get time off to go to the doctors or dentist.  Having to cancel things with friends at the last minute because of work and the lack of flexibility.

Working for myself is hard, my brain is always on the go thinking about how I can improve things, get more work, manage workload but the plus side is I have time to go to the gym everyday, if the only appointment I can get for the dentist is at 11:45am then so be it.  If I want to go and have lunch with a friend and it looks like it will be a three hour lunch that’s fine or if I want to take my niece for her last swimming lesson I can.

Self-employment has given me a greater freedom than I could ever have imagined.  I have to be more organised, if I want to take half a day to do something fun I know that I am going to have to still get the same amount of work done in less time but that’s my choice.

I would say to anybody thinking of embarking on self-employment go for it.  The hours can be long, the team spirit non-existent (I work at home, alone) and the money not always great but it’s most definitely worth it.

 

To find out more about Beck and Call Public Relations visit my website Beck & Call PR

 

 

 

 

 

How to get publicity for your small business

Publicity is a great way of spreading the word about your small business without the expense of using paid for advertising or other marketing tools. The sometimes tricky bit is coming up with an idea to get the media to notice and speak to you
Before you get started it is important to decide what you want the publicity to achieve (more brand awareness, an increase in visits to your website; more sales leads) think up some stories and then send a press release to the relevant radio stations, magazines, websites and newspapers.

To get you started I have come up with a few ideas that can help get you publicity.

1. Introduce something new or improved
Are you the only company selling x,y,z in your area? The media will be interested in this or perhaps you’ve made an improvement to one of your products or services which will benefit your customers or local community.

2. Mark the passage of time
Is your business celebrating 5, 10, 100 years in business? Let people know. Or perhaps it is the anniversary of something related to your industry that you can piggyback off.

3. Win an award
Award winners are a press staple. Most papers you pick up will have a story about a recent award winner. So get applying for awards relating to your industry and if you win don’t rely on the publicity arranged by the award organisers, do your own.

4. Get involved with a charity
Don’t just give your time, do something different, give your time, product, or better still use your staff and resources to do something different that will also raise cash or help a charity. It’s even better if the charity is relevant to your business.

5. Survey your customers
Facts and figures from surveys are popular with the media. Start surveying and spread the word about your findings.

6. Give something away
Newspapers love running competitions. They usually set a value for what the prize needs to be worth but for what is usually a relatively small cost to the business you’ll get space to tell everybody what you do, attract a new audience and also the possibility of some data capture of people who were interested enough in your product to want to enter a competition, these people are potential customers.

7. React to a current story
Give your opinion on something in the news (national or local) that’s relevant to you. Try and add some value to the original story.
There are numerous ways to get free publicity and it is hoped that this list will go some way to getting your started.

If you need help with raising awareness of your company or a chat about the sort of things you can do visit http://www.beckandcallpr.co.uk

 

 

 

Network, network, network

Networking can be daunting, walking into a room full of strangers and been expected to speak about your business and yourself can be something that even the most confident amongst us dread.

I was in the fortunate position that when I started Beck & Call PR at the end of last year, my previous role had expected me to do lots of networking, but it was still scary going it alone, as now I wasn’t going to be excelling the virtues of the organisation I worked for, but my own business and more importantly me, but I overcame that and networking has worked well for me.

Since the launch of Beck and Call four of my clients have been companies that I have met at networking, which isn’t bad going in a few short months.  Here are a few tips I have for successful networking.

 

Don’t flit

If you’re going to network go to as many groups as you like but go regularly.  People buy from people so going to lots of groups once probably won’t result in much business but if people get to know you as a person, somebody they chat to on a regular basis and have learnt to trust they are more likely to think of you if they or somebody else they know needs your service.

Be true to your word

If somebody you have met networking asks you to do some work for them or somebody they know, no matter how big or small tell them what you will be able to do, by when and how much it will cost and then stick to it.  Don’t over promise and don’t under provide.  Your reputation is key to getting work.

Don’t sell

At some networking you might get chance to give a small talk about your business and what you do, at others it will be more informal where you mingle and get to know people.  If it is informal don’t go for the hard sell, chat to people, ask them questions about themselves and what they do and they will do the same in return, which is when you have the opportunity to tell them more about you and what you do.

 

Follow up

After attending a new networking event I always like to follow up, so I will drop an email to people I have met just saying hello.  With some businesses where I feel there is a natural link or where they might be able to help me or me them, I try and set up a meeting, just something informal a coffee and chat to give me the chance to learn more about them and vice versa.  Even if you get no business from these people you can make some good friends and contacts.

 

Finally…..

Be yourself

Remember everybody in the room has been new to networking at some point, so they will understand your nerves but as I have said all along people buy from people so just be yourself and you’ll do well.

 

To find out more about Beck and Call PR visit http://www.beckancallpr.co.uk

 

 

Common PR Myths and Misconceptions

Beck and Call PR logo

 

As you can imagine, having worked in  Public Relations for the past 14 years I have heard people say many things about the industry and the people who work in it.  Here are some of my favourite misconceptions about the wonder world of what we call PR

PR and Advertising are the same

If I had a pound for every time somebody said “I don’t need any help with PR as I already advertise” I would definitely be a lot richer than I am now.  Whilst PR and advertising do inhabit the same ballpark they are not the same.  Put simply with advertising you are paying to tell the world about how great your business or product is, with PR a third party is telling everybody how great you are.

 

PR people twist the truth

This is a common one.  People believing that the job of a PR is to make something bad look good.  Whilst PR can help if you’re in a crisis to make sure you present your business in the best light and get the relevant messages out there, we are not there to lie.  If we lie it defeats the object of what we are trying to do, if we tell the world that a really bad product is great, we’ll soon get found out and the client will soon lose business.

 

It’s super glamorous

Personally I blame 90’s comedy Absolutely Fabulous for this one.  Whilst I love the programme I can only wish that my career had been spent at parties, swigging Bollinger, jet-setting and looking glamorous.  The reality is much of it has been spent having early mornings, late nights, missing out on doing things because I am having to work at client events and spending lots of time in hotels alone.  Luckily I love the work but can promise you that if glamour and being able to enjoy long boozy lunches is what you’re looking for in a career,  PR isn’t for you.

My Business is doing well – I don’t need publicity

This is the one I understand least because Coca-cola, McDonalds, Apple,Virgin and numerous other companies are doing really well and I can guarantee they all have a strong PR team behind them all the time.

Saving PR for bad products or when business isn’t going well is not an ideal strategy.  In an ideal world PR should be a constant on-going resource that you are making use of, I don’t mean sending out a press release every week, I mean managing how the public perceive you on an on-going basis, helping you raise awareness and  assisting you in not only look after your current client base but helping you tap in to that audience that don’t yet even know they want what you’re offering.

We’ve had publicity for A,B,C we’ll be in touch when we do X,Y, Z

This is way too common.  Businesses launch a product or event and want help with the PR of it, they get in the news, get a following and then end all PR saying they have something else coming up in six months and will be in touch then.  In the meantime they may not be doing any PR, marketing or getting people talking about them, so in six months time when it’s time for the next big thing it’s like starting all over again.

Put simply your PR should be consistent and on-going not a hive of activity for short periods and then nothing.  People are saturated with information in the press, on social media etc so you need to be popping up all the time to stay at the forefront of their minds.

PR doesn’t work

Just because your business isn’t in the media every week doesn’t mean PR doesn’t work.  It’s not all about making headlines.  Similar to the previous topic PR is about being consistent it’s like any other area of your business there needs to be a strategy and on-going work to ensure you get the best PR for your business.

Or in some situations it has been in it may not be working as the company isn’t taking the advice of the PR person they have employed.  On more occasions than I care to remember I have advised people and then when the advice hasn’t been taken told it hasn’t worked.  If you’re going to employ a PR person remember you’re employing them for their expertise so make sure you use it.  You know your business and they know theirs.

 

If you’re an SME considering adding PR to your marketing mix take a minute to have a look at our website Beck and Call PR