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Ah-haaa! I cried when I heard the news that Norfolk’s best-loved DJ and Travel Tavern aficionado, Alan Partridge was ‘bouncing back’ to our screens for some one-off specials – Jack-anack-anory!
But before I could break open the Toblerone in celebration I was dismayed to find that in order to follow Alan’s story tonight, I’d have to subscribe to Sky’s Atlantic channel!
After my inevitable sulk and wild accusations of Alan turning his back on the BBC in search of a new satellite audience, I began to see that this was indeed a canny move to sow Alan’s ‘seed’ wider in search of the Partridge-faithful.
Could there be a long-awaited film on the horizon…? Surely not!
Anyway, enough of the scepticism, the fact is Alan’s back after a decade out of the terrestrial TV spotlight. He’s using the media in an extremely savvy way to re-open the doors to his closet fans and raise awareness of Alan Gordon Partridge ahead of his big screen debut. Who’d have thought it, he’ll be signing up to Twitter and Facebook next!!
Let battle commence! And for those in the know, ‘Cook Pass Babtridge’.
Bill Gates once said: “If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.”
That may seem a little extreme but the sentiment really is quite savvy.
In these austere times, many businesses are feeling the financial pinch as reports of quantitive easing and double-dips become the norm. Competition is fierce with only the strongest surviving in an extremely turbulent marketplace.
Unfortunately, all too often marketing and PR budgets are among the first to be cut in a knee-jerk attempt to save money and cut costs.
What is ironic, is that it is exactly these areas that, I think, companies should be investing money and effort into to differentiate their brand and give them the competitive advantage needed to survive in what is becoming an increasingly ‘me too’ market.
Managed properly and integrated, a strategic PR campaign can provide a cost-effective tool that can positively affect businesses when skies are grey. Effectively communicating with your target customers and keeping your firm in the public eye; commenting on the issues that matter, can help you stay ahead in a difficult climate.
PR is an investment that can deliver real benefit to the bottom line so whilst I I would certainly advocate Mr Gates’ philosophy, I probably wouldn’t want to bankrupt myself in the process! But then, who am I to disagree with Bill?
While celebrity endorsements, competitions and abseiling down a building may be perfectly natural in the consumer world, professional services PR is different. We look at the differences and how credibility, trust and reputation are king in the professional services world.
“While some good product placement and a loving endorsement from Peter Andre might be great PR for the latest aftershave or book launch (or maybe not!), Peter’s wise words probably won’t instil much confidence in the ability of a law firm to do its job – a different approach is clearly needed!
“In the professional services sector, credibility, trust and reputation are the core of your proposition and therefore it’s vital your public relations campaign is geared toward protecting and reinforcing this.
“For nearly a decade, Bell Pottinger North has shaped, managed and protected the public perception and wider understanding of law firms, accountancies, architects etc. and not once have we felt the need to drop a senior partner out of a light aircraft with a strategically branded parachute.
“We work with firms of all shapes and sizes to create and implement effective results-driven public relations and wider communications campaigns that are bespoke to our clients needs.
“We do this through a slightly more conservative approach that resonates with and targets the people that our clients want to do business with.
“Through a variety of PR techniques and wider marketing mix disciplines, we effectively position our clients’ brands and differentiate them in an increasingly crowded market. We want to increase your brand’s awareness specifically to help change the buying perception and behaviours of your target audience.
“In today’s media-savvy and media-hungry society, audiences instinctively look beyond advertising. Editorial coverage is far more credible and carries the tacit endorsement of the journalist. This ‘no tricks or gimmicks’ approach reassures clients that the message you are delivering is genuinely true and can provide reassurance in these difficult times.
“Our ‘horses for courses’ approach means that, every day, we are delivering punchy, targeted PR campaigns for our clients that keep them in the public eye, establish trust and help to deliver the credibility factor.
“It’s our job to control the messages that the media receive about our clients and their services in an appropriate way that does not detract from or diminish its strength.”
Benjamin Franklin once said: “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”
That may sound a bit dramatic, but essentially it’s true. Think of BP’s reputation before the ‘Deepwater Horizon’ disaster last year. It wasn’t so much the estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil that were spilt into the Gulf of Mexico that damaged its reputation; it was more BP’s response at the time of the crisis, specifically that of its chief executive.
Bell Pottinger North builds and manages better reputations for its clients and in today’s turbulent economic climate, this has never been more important. Despite the doom and gloom, UK plc is being advised to spend, invest and grow its way out of the economic crisis. In times of uncertainty and prudent spending, a brand’s reputation is key and offers the reassurance for consumers to spend in austere times.
The worrying thing though is that ‘trust’ seems to have been one of the victims of the downturn. Companies and organisations that have continued to invest in their brands, communicate effectively and build on effective credibility base will be best placed to survive and thrive in the future.
In the majority of sectors, credibility, trust and reputation is the core of your proposition. It’s vital then to protect this reputation no matter how squeezed the budget is. That’s exactly where PR can help – a clearly planned and targeted communications campaign will help to develop and protect a company’s reputation, giving its customers the trust they need to carry on spending and ensuring the maximum positive impact on the bottom line.
As Bill Gates once said: “If I was down to my last dollar of my marketing budget, I’d spend it on PR!”
Figures published yesterday by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) on arrears and repossessions got a mixed response by the press.
It’s true that the figure of 46,000 repossessions in 2009 made it the highest figure for 14 years and that over 120 properties were repossessed every day last year – and the papers certainly jumped on that.
However, that’s wasn’t the full picture. The fact is that the situation could have been a lot worse.
Repossessions in the last quarter of 2004 were actually down 13% on the previous quarter, the second quarter in succession. I’m not suggesting that this isn’t a problem or that the figures aren’t too high because it is and they are! The figure was actually 2,000 less than the CML’s revised and scaled-down forecast for 2009 and nearly 30,000 less than their original estimate.
Does this point to the fact that recent government initiatives put in place to help people who can’t pay their mortgages is working? Or, is the fact that interest rates are at an historic low, the key factor meaning that people still have relatively ‘affordable’ mortgage payments? A sceptic could even speculate that falling house prices have pushed the loan to value ratio on the average property so low that it’s just not worth lenders repossessing them until house prices rise.
Who knows what the real reason is, I suppose that the most important thing is to remember that whilst the figures are heading in the right direction, we’re not out of the woods yet!
Our decade or so of spend, spend, spend continues to leave us suffering the inevitable ‘hangover’ of debt. Figures released today by the Insolvency Service show that personal insolvencies have hit a new record in England & Wales with over 35,000 of us being declared insolvent – up nearly 30% on 2008’s figures!
The really worrying part is that nearly half of all those people have pretty much given up and opted for bankruptcy, which isn’t to be taken lightly.
So far, nearly 100,000 people have been declared insolvent in 2009 alone, and analysts are predicting another record-breaking year with figures rising as high as 130,000.
It seems that we’re all broke and facing financial pressures from all angles – unemployment, the housing market, rising bills etc. All this at a time when we are being told that to get the economy moving, we all need to spend!
On the plus side, higher figures mean more people are getting the right help, let’s just hope then that we can all get our debts paid off and get back to the boom times!