Tag: local

I have a confession…

 

I’ve never been to the Great Yorkshire Show. Despite growing up in North Yorkshire and now living in West Yorkshire I have just never got around to it. I do really want to go and think it’s important that we make time to support these events but I just didn’t get around to it.

Last year it was a disaster due to the weather but this year it was glorious sunshine, what better way to spend a day than trying out some local ales and home grown foods, while engaging with some of the many businesses who are based in the Yorkshire region.

I am also particularly interesting in the arts and crafts that are showcased at these events. I love going along to the steam gatherings which take place in Masham and Hunton, near where I’m from. Not only are there cake stalls and the usual vegetable growing competitions but also a massive collective of talents including sewing, wood craft and painting.

I’ve always really wanted to be creative when it comes to crafts and have a sewing machine, but I haven’t spent enough time using it to become any good. I do however want to change that and you never know I could be showcasing my own creations in the future – although I won’t hold my breath!

I am going to make it my mission next year to go to the Great Yorkshire Show. I remember when we were at primary and secondary school it would be accepted and expected that people took time off to go along to the event and I still never managed it!

From the website it looks like it was a huge success and with a waiting list of exhibitors there is no doubt that the many companies that were promoting their wares got great value from it. As some of the largest businesses in the country are based in the county we really should make the effort to support events like this and to champion and shout about the beautiful area we live in.

If you were lucky enough to attend then let me know what you thought. I have heard some amazing things about the show and hope that in future years I will find the time to go along and experience it for myself.

Don’t dismiss the opportunities on your doorstep

As you would expect of a PR agency, we are often asked to recommend media channels for brands and businesses when developing campaigns, events and stunts.

Although many agencies would quickly recommend national media with larger audiences (and not surprisingly commanding bigger budgets) we always think about the objectives of that particular activity and how the message will be communicated by our chosen medium.

It is always surprising when businesses and agencies dismiss regional media whether for advertising or editorial opportunities. We term these titles heartland, as they are usually located at the heart of a community where a brand or business is based.

Although many companies believe that the CEO or Managing Director of a business will only read leading trade and national titles it’s fair to say that in our experience that isn’t true. Many leading senior executives will read regional media to find out what is going on in their local area.

What is most frustrating about this situation is when people are dismissive of regional titles to then get excited when they feature in them – it’s one way or another!

We have long been an advocate of regional media and the opportunities that print and broadcast media offer; promotions, competitions, editorial, features, advertorials and of course standard advertising.

Next time you are considering a campaign think about the businesses that are based in your local area. Are they large or small? Would you send the MD of a multi-million pound business packing because he was local? Unlikely, so perhaps the same thought process should go to working and engaging with regional titles and channels.

The beauty of PR is that you don’t have to be restrictive so if your preferred agency dismisses regional media ask them why. If they say people don’t read the papers, listen to the radio stations or watch the local news take this simple test – ask people you meet in everyday life what the last paper, radio station or TV news programme they engaged with was. I bet there is at least 6 out of 10 who will mention a regional title, station or programme then you have your answer.

The truth is that people do read, listen to and watch regional media and as a result this makes them a valid medium for engagement with prospects and customers. 

Don’t give up your day job

Recently I was supporting a client with a store launch in Reading. As the journey was around 4 hours it gave me chance to think – which isn’t always a good thing!

Although I don’t like jumping on band wagons I have to admit that the roads were in a pretty appalling state with pot holes on motorways and dual carriageways, as well as the smaller country lanes. Not only did I think it was dangerous to be swerving around these wheel crippling ditches but I also found the sheer number of them quite startling.

Now many of you will tell me to stick to the day job but as someone who thinks about brands, how they communicate and what opportunities are available to do so to a mass market I had a bit of a light bulb moment.

Hold on to your hats ladies and gentleman, here it comes…

As I was not-so merrily driving along I noticed the digital signs which say things like ‘Don’t drive when tired’ or ‘Check your speed’ and that kind of nonsense. I don’t think that many people read these signs and then act on the information – the call to action is to look up and then ignore them completely in my opinion.

So, here’s my idea. Why not offer brands the opportunity to sponsor a message? As an example Costa Coffee could sponsor a sign that reads ‘Take a break, don’t drive when tired’ with their branding across the bottom or perhaps they could be more commercial with seasonal messages such as ‘Don’t forget Mother’s Day, flower shop at the next services’.

Not only would this mean that the signs, which let’s be honest are enough to drive you to despair as they stand, would become more interesting they would also become a real communication tool and the money raised from sponsorship could be put back into the highways so that we could all enjoy and benefit – safer roads.

So, what do you think? Should I just stick to my day job or is there a real idea here that Councils up and down the country could benefit from? Let me know your thoughts.

Where there’s a Skill Will there’s a way

It’s that time of year again… comfy sofa, glass of wine in hand, fire on, the family sat around wide eyed ready for the evening’s entertainment, wondering if this year ‘they’ will beat the target of last year, watching as people do a host of ridiculous stunts to try and raise just that little bit more for a worthwhile cause, giggles, smiles and then… it gets to 9pm and you find yourself sat, cheque book in one hand, phone in the other explaining to the family that presents are off this Christmas because we all have more than enough and should recognise the fact, our problems are nothing like those of others and for one year we can all just go without – it will do us some good. We then fall collectively (the women mostly) into a sniffling heap, promising the world to be a better person, to love our family more and to appreciate our children and step children even when they do all the things that make our blood boil every morning – yes folks, it’s Children In Need time!

I have to admit that despite my often hard exterior, I am one of those people. I will be sat sniffling in the corner, explaining to my long suffering husband that it’s just not fair and can’t we do a bit more and just live in a smaller house and do without wine – while he tops up my glass.

We both give to charities that are close to us on a regular basis (me Cancer Research UK and my hubby Barnardos) and we aren’t averse to helping out and volunteering when needed, in fact far from it, so I don’t harbour any guilt towards our philanthropic efforts – geez I even gave more than the usual £1 for a poppy this year, deciding that actually folding money would probably do more good.

However I often wonder, like most people, where the money really goes. Does it actually get to the people who matter? After working for a charity I completely understand the need to run these organisations like a business, otherwise they just don’t work, but it would be good to know how much of the donated pound we give, gets to those who matter.

More importantly I have found myself wondering more and more if there are other ways that people can do their bit without having to dig deep – especially when during difficult times every penny counts. Just because people don’t have a huge disposable income it doesn’t mean that they don’t want to help and that they have nothing to offer.

I notice that recent reports on the news have announced that there has been an increase in the number of local organisations offering food parcels to those who need them most, which I think is a great idea. If those who are able can add an item or two to the weekly grocery shop to donate to a food bank then we know that we are doing our bit. It may not change the world but it will give someone a meal for the evening.  What I like all the more is that you know that your donation will help someone locally.

I do think that supermarkets are missing a trick though. Why hasn’t one of the top four created a charity or worked with an existing organisation to simply ask that if people want to donate a tin or a jar of something that they pass it to the customer service counter. Would this be so difficult to administer? It seems like a wasted opportunity. Part of the reason people won’t donate to a food bank is that they won’t have the time to visit, so make it easier for them. You are also communicating with those who can donate at the point of purchase, what could be better?

Supermarkets may ask what they will get out of it but let’s be honest, they could do nothing and have a fantastic PR story that would support the food bank, raise the profile of the retailer and ensure that someone who needs it most is fed and watered.  All good.

And so, now on to business.

Yes, my thoughts about charitable giving didn’t stop at individual giving but also at business. As a member of the Yorkshire Mafia, a local networking group with more than 12,000 approved members, I was aware of a concept called Skill Will. At first I wasn’t so sure what it was all about but the idea is really simple; rather than giving money you give time.

As a small business there are lots of things that we would like to do for charity but the problem is who do you give to, where will your pound make most difference and how can you decide just how much is enough?  Also, unlike large corporate businesses we don’t have the big budgets to donate but what we do have is our skill.

Skill Will asks that businesses and charities come together to spend time providing advice and guidance to those who can benefit from it. Going back to my earlier point, charities have better things to do with their budgets than pay for PR, marketing, finance and legal costs, so if there are organisations who can offer these services for free everyone is happy.

As a business this idea works perfectly for us. We give our time out of hours, so that our commitment doesn’t impact on clients, and away we go. Not only can we offer professional advice but we can know that we are doing something that will add value and help.

So in the spirit of charitable giving and knowing that for today at least charity is at the forefront of people’s minds, can I please ask that all those businesses who feel that they have a skill to offer speak to the Yorkshire Mafia about how they can help? It would be fantastic if we could use this opportunity to make Yorkshire a shining example of how working together can make a genuine and very real difference.

Ok, so that’s my thoughts. Now for one final word and this time it’s advice, get your hankies at the ready folks, Pudsey the bear may look cuddly but he’s going to make you cry!