I'll be talking about how organisations can use Pinterest to boost business at the next Teignmouth and Dawlish Social Media Cafe on 24 February 2015.
The event takes place from 5pm-7.30pm upstairs at the Riviera Cafe Bar, The Den, Teignmouth and admission is completely free.
As well as information on how to harness the power of Pinterest (from me), local traders, businesses and community organisations can get help with all aspects of social media. Experts will be on hand to talk about: GoogleMyBusiness - critical for all shop traders; Twitter; and Facebook.
You can either drop in or come to the whole event.
More information about the Teignmouth and Dawlish Social Media Cafe is available on Facebook and Twitter. You can also keep up to date with information about the event by following #TandDSMCafe
Let me know if you're planning on coming along.
I've just returned from the 25th annual Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) conference at Royal Holloway, Egham. It was truly inspiring and I have come away with lots of new contacts and tonnes of ideas that will help me develop my business.
Often the buzz and invigoration of a conference can be short-lived. So how do you ensure that you maintain the energy and actually implement those new ideas?
1. As soon as you get back, go through the notes you made at the conference and create a wish list of the actions you'd like to take. It's important that this is a wish list and not a to-do list at this stage. Once you've captured all the ideas, you can then begin to prioritise them.
2. Go through the delegate list and make contact with the people you met through your social media networks. Now is also the time to email or phone particular contacts of interest. Reintroduce yourself and remind them of any conversations you had, particularly if there were any actions you needed to take as a result of your chat.
3. Now, go back to your wish list and start breaking down your goals into realistic action points that you can incorporate into your work schedule.
In about a month, you should return to your wish list and your action list (it's important to remind yourself of your original ideas as well as your more concrete plans) so you can re-evaluate where you are and whether any of your priorities have shifted.
What do you do after a conference to help maintain your momentum?
I'm always interested in how Quick Response (QR) codes and Augmented Reality (AR) technology can add value to our daily lives. So I was intrigued by the front cover story of this week's Torquay Herald Express detailing a new service by Newton Abbot monumental stonemasons Williams and Triggs where families can put QR codes onto their loved one's memorial stones to provide information about the deceased.
As someone who has occasionally wandered around a cemetery wondering about the lives of those who are buried there, I think this is a really fascinating initiative. And for those who have lost loved ones, it's a brilliant way of celebrating their lives and providing a lasting legacy.
The QR codes are linked to a page on the QR Memories website where text, photographs and video can be uploaded. Anyone visiting the memorial can then access the information by scanning the QR code with their mobile device.
The initiative was recently featured on the BBC's The One Show.
Have you come across any other innovative uses of QR codes and AR technology?
Cancer Research UK has raised more than £2m this week as a result of the #nomakeupselfie campaign. But what is most surprising is that the activity was not an official, planned event, but something created and carried out purely by its supporters.
No doubt, marketers in charities across the UK will be analysing the campaign to learn important lessons about harnessing social media for fundraising.
Charities have traditionally struggled with converting social media support into hard cash. Yet, the #nomakeupselfie viral has overcome this hurdle with ease.
Much of the success has come from supporters urging each other to donate and the ease with which participants have been able to text their donation. Something Cancer Research UK has promoted via its own social media channels.
Ultimately, the success of this campaign is down to the way Cancer Research UK publicly acknowledged that the campaign grew organically and thanked its supporters. On its Facebook page, it posted:
"You’re all incredible! You’ve now raised over £2 million with your #nomakeupselfie pics – and we’re still counting! Hundreds of thousands of you have been texting BEAT to 70099 which will help beat cancer sooner. Thank you! All your amazing support means we can now fund research that will help save lives. If you want to get involved with our work, visit: http://bit.ly/1h0FIvC
You'll be charged £3 plus one message at your standard network rate. We'll receive at least £2.95 depending on your operator. Full T&Cs can be found here:www.cruk.org/text"
It is shame this message has not been replicated on its website.
Many charities attempt to be cautious and controlling in how their supporters advocate their cause and raise funds, Indeed, this campaign has drawn some criticism about narcissism. However, overall Cancer Research UK has benefitted, particularly financially, from embracing an initiative that has come directly from the heart of its support base. I suspect the charity will see not just a short-term increase in donations, but also a longer term increase in affinity to its cause.
It will be interesting to see how Cancer Research UK harnesses the burgeoning public affection for its brand as it enters its annual Race for Life season.
I think the lesson to be learnt from the #nomakeupselfie viral is that sometimes charities can relax and allow the supporters to take the initiative. Obviously, there are risks involved in allowing supporters to lead the charge, such as mixed messaging and clashes with other campaigns. But, if charities can be brave enough to give their supporters the tools, guidance and freedom to launch their own campaigns, sometimes, it just might pay off.
This week, the Torquay Herald Express allowed the local police force to publish a story direct to its website for the first time.
The Torquay Police Neighbourhood Team, posting under the byline TorquayPolice, issued an appeal to identify a bag thief. Click here to view the story.
With the advent of more local news hubs with free content generated by community contributors, such as The Exeter Daily, and a greater demand for immediate news combined with fewer journalists covering the beat on established media outlets, it is understandable that regional newspapers and news websites are looking for ways to post authoritative content.
However, I think the Herald Express has shot itself in the foot with this move. The main USP the Herald Express has over its user-generated content rivals is that its content is written by trained journalists. This results in a better quality of story that adds value to readers' experiences of the medium.
The story published by TorquayPolice does not appear to have been proofread or sub-edited. Poor quality writing can negatively impact on readers' trust of the content, although this is slightly mitigated by the fact it is written by an authority - in this case the Police - rather than a member of the public or a PR. The writing style is very different to news posted by Herald Express reporters, resulting in an inconsistent reader experience.
In commercial terms, Press Gazette editor Dominic Ponsford points out : "A higher standard of English and journalism attracts a higher standard of advertiser."
The Torquay Herald Express is part of Local World. Last year, Local World chairman David Montgomery said the role of journalists would change so they would become content 'harvesters' and that much of the 'human interface' of local news publishing would disappear.
For PR practitioners, this is likely to make publishing stories on behalf of clients easier, with less risk of press releases being changed. But, for the general public, this is a huge loss. Who is going to dig down deeper to get the 'real' story. Where is the added value? Where is the differentiation? Which outlets should consumers trust? How will this make the reader experience enjoyable? And, for advertisers, why should they spend their money with established local media outlets and not with community news hubs? The money will be spent where the audience is, which might not necessarily be with the established outlets.
As a former journalist, whose first experience of a real news room was at the Herald Express, this move makes me very sad. I accept that the media environment has changed massively in the past decade. But I believe that local media outlets should be positioning themselves as authors of quality, trusted content.
What role do you think local media outlets should play in providing news to the local community?
Sometimes things go wrong. I am currently working with an organisation that is about to deliver some bad news. But I'm definitely a glass-half-full person. And I firmly believe that every cloud has a silver lining and out of every crisis comes opportunity.
Here are my top tips for dealing with a crisis through PR.
1. Preparation is key, particularly when many disasters can unfold rapidly, and usually at quite inconvenient times. Start out by writing a list of worst-case scenarios that could affect your business. Consult widely, as the more ideas you have, the better prepared you will be. It can be helpful to
2. Once you've got your 'risk register', don't head straight for the brandy, but go through it and identify the key stakeholders who would be impacted and what their concerns would be. For example, you may imagine that you have a shop that might be gutted by fire. Your key stakeholders would include your staff, customers, insurers and the media: all with differing information needs.
3. Next, identify how you would resolve each situation and what information you would need to provide each stakeholder group and through which channels. Don't forget your own social media channels as well as the traditional PR routes.
4. It can be helpful to outline a crisis process - so you know who is responsible for doing what and when in the event of a crisis.
5. When informing your different groups, you should:
a) Express regret at what has happened and sympathy with those affected. Even if you can't accept liability due to legal sensitivities, you can still empathise at the situation.
b) Outline concrete resolutions to the issue. Going back to the shop example, you could tell staff and customers that perhaps you have arranged to trade from alternative premises or reassure customers that your online shop is still operational.
c) Be proactive and respond quickly. If no information is forthcoming, the gap will be filled with rumours that can be difficult to dispel. It also shows you are taking charge of the situation and engenders trust in what might be difficult circumstances.
d) keep the lines of communication open. Invite feedback and comments. If those affected can't let you know how they feel, you can bet your bottom dollar they are letting someone else (a possible customer) know instead. In some cases, it may be worth opening a special hotline. And make sure you provide regular updates about how you are dealing with the situation. If you have taken action due to particular concerns raised through feedback, let everyone know.
If you follow these steps, even if disaster does strike, you can minimise the potential damage. And, looking at that silver lining, even generate increased respect and loyalty among your current customers, and maybe even increase your customer base.
Social Media can be a scary concept if you're a small business owner. What is it? Where do you start? What can it do for your business? Is it worth it?
But help is at hand with the growth of local Social Media Cafes.
A social media cafe is an event held in a local cafe or coffee shop where small and medium businesses can meet and find out more about the world of social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Pinterest etc.
Last night was the second Teignmouth and Dawlish Social Media Cafe, held at the Ugly Duckling in Dawlish.
The event was organised by the Mandy Pearce of Seashell Communications and Emma Kay, the Teignmouth and Dawlish Community Interest Company Town Centre Development Manager.
A number of local businesses attended to find out more about how they could set up and use Twitter and Facebook to promote themselves.
The event was based around a basic 'how to get started' workshop, with plenty of time for questions throughout.
As well as learning from a professional, businesses were also happy to share their own experiences and ideas, sharing suggestions about content and the best time to post.
One of the biggest themes of the evening was finding the time to manage social media accounts with the conclusion that quality and relevance count for a lot more than quantity. There was also a lively discussion about the use of humour on social media, where caution was a buzzword.
While social media cafes provide an ideal forum to learn about a vital marketing tool and share best practice, businesses benefit just as much from the opportunity to network.
I will certainly be attending future events and hope to help out - so if there are any burning questions about using social media, let me know and I'll be sure to cover them in my session and in future blog posts.
To find out more about the Teignmouth and Dawlish Social Media Cafe go to:
Sometimes I love my job. Especially when I get to write about amazing products I would buy, which are made by a company I truly believe in.
Today's press release about the launch of three new ring-slings to the Mamaway range ticked all those boxes.
Dad's bond the Mama Ring Sling Way
Nursing and maternity brand Mamaway is introducing three dad-friendly designs to its Ring Sling range
Fathers will now find it easier to bond with their babies with the launch of three dad-friendly designs to the Mamaway Ring Sling range.
The Navy Wash, Army Khaki and Red Ochre Ring Slings complement Mamaway’s stylish striped range of baby carriers, and give dad, or even grandad, a smart babywearing option.
Wearing your baby in a sling can reduce crying, enhance babies’ emotional development and improve parents’ confidence. Men who are nervous about carrying infants safely will be reassured by the simplicity of the Mamaway Ring Sling, which holds baby in an ergonomic position and allows you to see your baby’s face.
Mamaway Ring Slings have no complicated buckles or straps so getting baby in and out of the sling is child’s play and swapping between mum and dad or another caregiver is effortless. The one size fits all style does not just apply to adults, the Mamaway Ring Sling is suitable for newborns right through to toddlers (up to 50kg/110lb) with no additional inserts or fiddly adjustments.
Versatility also extends to the nifty little pocket design, which means the Mamaway Ring Sling can fold down into a small pouch, making it easy to take with you wherever you go.
Fully secure, Mamway Ring Slings use 100% woven nylon rings, which prevent the material from slipping. And made with 100% cotton, the Ring Sling is easy to wash, with no worries about metal rings damaging your washing machine, and kind to babies’ delicate skin.
All Mamaway products are designed and tested by mothers, which means comfort is just as important as function, particularly when it comes to ensuring ease of access for breastfeeding. The Mamaway Ring Sling can be adjusted to enable breastfeeding on the go or you can use it as a discreet cover when out and about. The Ring Sling is also very comfortable to wear as it evenly distributes baby’s weight over your shoulder and across your back.
Customers have already commented on how using the Ring Sling makes their life so much easier, with one even sending in a photograph of grandad carrying baby in a Mamaway Ring Sling.
Mamaway Ring Slings cost £39 and are available at: http://www.mamaway.co.uk/?action=products&cid=29
For further information contact:
Joanna Bowery E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: 07779 991509
High-res images are available.
Notes to editors:
Traditional printed leaflets can often be inaccessible for those with sight impairments or who have English as a second language, such as British Sign Language (BSL) users.
Hard copy marketing materials are particularly useful at conferences and exhibitions. But can be wholly ineffective if key areas of your target audience are unable to read the information.
Augmented reality (AR) technology, which enables a user to access additional content via a reader app on their smartphone or tablet, is a great solution.
AR enables you to create hard copy, written communications, such as leaflets, prospectuses and catalogues, and then add content such as a filmed BSL version or voice over.
Firstly, you need to create the additional content and upload it to the web, either on your website or, if it is a film, on a YouTube channel or similar.
When designing the leaflet, you need to create and embed the AR code. You could even just use a QR code although it is not as pretty.
Once the publication is printed, users need to download the app. There are many free versions available. So far I have used Aurasma and Layar as well as a basic QR code reader. Once the app is downloaded on their device, users just need to hover their phone or tablet over the content and they will automatically be directed to the additional content you have created. This could be anything from a BSL or voiced over version of the leaflet to a filmed example of what you are describing.
This technology is still in its early stages, so it is good practice to include some information explaining what users need to do to access the additional information within the hard copy. You should also include a url of where the additional content is, for those who are unable to access the app. A user may wish to access the content via their computer without using an app.
One of the downsides to AR is that in order to access the information, you need to be in an area with access to the internet, ideally Wifi, although 3G can cope.
However, I'm really excited about the possibilities AR provides to bring previously inaccessible communications to life and help organisations ensure they reach their target markets.
I'm particularly excited that the technology is not just restricted to print. You can use AR to bring all sorts of things to life and there are applications for enabling your buildings to be more accessible by embedding AR codes onto signage and more. But that will be covered in a future blog post...
Media coverage is a great way of raising the profile of your business. As well as being cheaper than paid advertising, consumers trust editorial content a lot more (1). But writing a press release that results in those all important column inches can sometimes seem like a dark art.
It helps to start off with a clear idea of what you want to say and who your target audience is. What would you like them to do as a result of reading about your business? This is called a call to action and is a great starting point when writing your press release and deciding what information to include. It also focuses the mind when deciding on your target publications. Don’t forget, today’s media landscape is hugely varied and your news may be more relevant to trade press than local or national publications. You may also consider outlets such as radio stations ,TV channels or online newswires. Decide what you want to gain as a result of any media coverage with measurable objectives. For example, you might want to generate 30 enquiries about a new product.
Press releases follow a set format. At the top, you need to write: ‘Press Release’. Include your company name, the date and a headline. Then write the story, when it is finished, let the journalist know by writing ‘Ends’. Don’t forget to add your contact details, in case the journalist wants to get in touch for more detail. You can provide further background information underneath in a section called ‘Notes to editors’. This might include general information about your organisation and its services.
Here are five tips to help you ensure your press release results in media coverage:
After your story has appeared, make the most of the exposure. Add cuttings to your website and include links in your social networks and newsletters. If it’s a particularly positive piece endorsing a product or service you offer, add quotes to your testimonials pages.
1 Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report says 58% of consumers trust editorial content such as newspaper articles, while 46% trust ads in newspapers.