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Friday, 31 December 2010

B2B PR Basics to Boost Business

B2B PR advice - clarity and brevity

We see a lot of easy-to-fix issues that prevent B2B businesses reaching their full potential.

1) Clarity and Brevity.

Most B2B business' websites are their main marketing communications tool. Since most major purchases involve a Google search, a high profile site can bring in a lot of new business enquiries, provided it delivers the information that people need and it's easy to contact you from any page. So before wasting time and money on improving your Google rankings, and turning people off when they land on your page,  look at the site iteslf. When people land on your site, can they quickly work out whether you can do them some good?

Most under-performing websites fail to deliver key information for site visitors. Site visitors skim and browse - they don't read. They are looking for the basics first.

  1. Does your site immediately describe what you do and the benefits you bring in c30 words or less? Or do you waste the precious few seconds people spend on a site by making them wait for a flash graphic to download? Even with a skip the intro option, they''ll skip all right - on to to your competitors lurking in their search results list. 
  2. 30 words is around a 15 second- sound-bite, so that's a good nugget of information to aim for the website home page - makes it easy to grasp 
  3. It's also handy for dropping into networking conversations when you are asked what you offer.
  4. It is also about right for a radio interview sound-byte.
  5. But mainly, it's an easy nugget to pass on to others.
  6. If you can do it in even less, that's brilliant, as our earlier post on Bill Joos' workshop explains.

PHPR's is:
Online and off-line PR to attract customers and opportunities to B2B businesses

Short memorable descriptions are much easier to pass on to others, so you maximise your chances of referrals if you get the description right. It's very easy to write 1,000 words, but it takes effort to effectively nail a business in a few words.

You don't have to cover all the bases in one and it's usually meaningless if you try. A company like IBM can sell "solutions" because they are well known and they have a raft of publicity material to underpin such a generalised claim. "Solutions" means anything from saline for contact lenses onwards, so it's not very enlightening. If you don't have an IBM sales and marketing budget to explain generalised claims, why communicate vague, confusing claims? Have you ever recommended someone for their solutions without having a lot of explaining to do? No? Neither have I.

2) Sloppiness

Even if site visitors find enough to keep them going through your site, most people will be put off by poor grammar and spelling. Or odd characters introduced when text is pasted from some word processors into a HTML editor. This is a nuisance as many HTML editors don't offer a grammar check, so the temptation is to cut 'n' paste into the word processor, then back into the HTML editor. I run the checks then paste into a plain notepad (I use the scratchpad in Google's desktop sidebar) before pasting into the website.

Even if you do spell and grammar check your web copy, you still need to proof read the copy for sense as these tools are not infallible. Even then, there's still room for errors but developing a checking habit catches most of them.

3. Claiming Your Digital Territory.

Forget "social" media: these communications tools are serious opportunities to engage with existing and potential customers in real time. How else can you communicate with your rivals' customers in real-time without trailing to conferences, trade shows and networking events?

Make sure that you set up pages on the main social media in your company's name to prevent anyone else using your name on these channels. There's no option to have or .com etc - just the name, so bag yours if you can, even if you don't intend to post more than a link back to your website and a short clear message about the business.

4. Get the Linked-In Habit

You need to know what channels customers and potential customers are using to be able to dip into the debates online. The tools change quickly and the stars of yesterday can be quickly forgotten as better channels gain popularity. However, one channel has stayed steady when it comes to B2B communications and that is Linked-In.

But almost every business person I have met this year has been surprised when I mention that they can join up to 50 groups on Linked-In. Regardless of whether you are a free user or a premium member, no-one can join more. The groups and their forums are the key to expanding a network of contacts. It is easy to get up to 6 million or more connections, all chunked down in a sector-specific and geographically focused way. That should be enough for most people!

Many business owners I've spoken to hadn't done more than put up a brief profile (often without a picture, so no-one can easily tell whether you are the Joe Bloggs they know or not). Plus linking with a few colleagues. Then they say Linked-In doesn't work. ...
If you put in as little effort at networking events (Hello, I'm here but I won't show you my face or speak to you, but I'll tell you very little about me) you would soon be Billy no-mates! So why is it any different online - it's all about people relationships on and off-line.

Time spent on the right forums will soon build your profile and throw up opportunities to chat directly. Once you get to know someone, the online tools accelerate the bit in-between face-to-face communications, and keep you front-of-mind in return for a few minutes effort on a regular basis.

PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK

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Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas from PHPR

Pictures taken in PHPR's garden during the winter of a curiously translucent ice formation on a red twig - used as PHPR's online Xmas card
Picture & design by Penny Haywood Calder
PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK

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Wednesday, 8 December 2010

PHPR Gets 2 Green Business Network Ticks

Picture of the logo showing PHPR's 2 ticks accreditation from the Green Business Partnership
PHPR's 2 ticks accreditation from the Green Business Partnership

Delighted to learn today that we have been awarded two ticks under the Green Business Network's new Green Supplier accreditation scheme (

We learn a lot from being a member of this organisation. Their training helps us build on our "exceptional environmental performance" - the citation PHPR got from the judges as a finalist in last year's VIBES awards (Scotland's top environmental awards for business). It's also a useful network for meeting other like-minded businesses.

We've operated an environmental policy since 1986 and continue to reduce, re-use and recycle regarding our purchases, energy use and travel.

PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK

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Thursday, 2 December 2010

All Marketers Tell Stories

Picture of the book cover for All Marketers Tell Stories
All Marketers Tell Stories
Seth Godin's got a new cover on his seminal book: All Marketers are Liars - with the Liars scored out to read: All Marketers Tell Stories.

So what's with the name change? I really like the fact that someone with Godin's status is happy to say, I got it wrong - especially about a book that is so influential. After all: he says "The ideas in this book have elected a president, grown non-profit causes, created billionaires and fueled movements."

However, I remember the first time I saw the original title. It really stopped me in my tracks. All Marketers Are Liars is a brilliantly provocative title. Would the book have been so successful with the milder title? Possibly, given Godin's great track record in insightful thinking, but this way, he gets the benefit of the booster rocket original title and a new lease of marketing life with the re-naming.

He says "We believe what we want to believe, and once we believe something, it becomes a self-fulfilling truth." And argues that the problem is: "When you are busy telling stories to people who want to hear them, you’ll be tempted to tell stories that just don’t hold up. Lies. Deceptions." and cites people like Joe McCarthy getting away with lying about the “Communist threat” for a while and bottled water being punted as purer than tap in developed countries.

In today's global connectedness, that doesn't work: falsehoods are quickly revealed.

And for all the talk about spin in PR, I think most experienced PR people, used to dealing with astute journalists and editors, have known the dangers of telling a whopper for a very long time (well before the rise of social media). Most PRs would counsel about the potentially damaging consequences. Whether their masters took their advice is another matter.

Hopefully they will with this book which counsels asking the 3 simple (but absolutely vital questions:

“What’s your story?”
“Will the people who need to hear this story believe it?”
“Is it true?”

Mindful of the power of stories and the consequences of straying from that which can be defended, I've certainly asked clients questions like this many times.

For the truth is: PR can't whitewash anything. But it can help limit the damage. By consistently getting the positive stories out there, we build a foundation of goodwill. We encourage organisations to celebrate the good they do and to seek external recognition by gaining kite-marks and awards: honestly won accolades that may well give them the benefit of the doubt if something goes wrong.

And we learn to engage the interest of editors, who are surely some of the toughest audiences on the planet, by telling stories in an interesting way.

Thanks to hundreds of thousands of years sitting around the camp-fires without a pixel in sight, we are all hard-wired by evolution to remember and enjoy a good story.

PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK

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