Category Archives: ArtisanMC

Manchester marketers networking event

Manchester marketers networking
Manchester marketers networking – a place to swap ideas and make contacts

I always thought there was a gap for a Manchester marketers networking event.

Marketing professionals can be isolated folks.  It has often been the case, more so since marketing depts downsized since the start of the recession.

Yet the need to swap ideas about changes to the profession such as the impact of digital, employing new techniques, finding out how the profession is changing and how to progress your marketing career is more pressing than ever.

So on Thursday 12th December from 6pm there is a new networking event taking place for Manchester marketers.

Creative, social media, digital professionals and those from allied industries are all welcome.

It should be a night of relaxed and productive networking at the Saint James’s Club.

The club is situated at 45 Springfield Gardens Manchester M2 2BG, very near to Rosso.  It is a business institution dating back to 1825 and makes a great venue.

A buffet is provided so you will not have to rush back for tea and there is a bar serving coffee, teas, wines and beers.

The cost is just £10.

I hope you can make it and support this event.

Please contact me on 07957611834 or

I hope to see you there.


More PR agencies in Manchester – but are there too many?

PR agencies in ManchesterA new week, a new PR agency – at least we can say there is no shortage of PR agencies in Manchester to fill the local media pages with news.

I suspect the pattern is being repeated in many other cities as PR professionals turn their skills to working for their own organisations.

It is a welcome development for clients perhaps with new experience being offered from some many PR suppliers.

However, I also suspect that the market cannot maintain so many new PR agencies in Manchester or elsewhere.

The economy is still slumbering along and more to the point PR is changing. 

As pointed out in a recent post PR alone is not what many businesses want or need.  It seems they need a broader range of services: social media, copy writing, marketing as well as those activities that come under “pure” PR.

Manchester although a city, a reasonably big city does not have the wealth of opportunity that London takes for granted although Manchester PR agencies can more than compete with their London rivals. Can it provide the substance for more PR agencies in Manchester for higher end accounts?

If you look at Manchester SMEs, then those same agencies often need to be able to offer a marketing package.

While it is admirable and understandable that so many PR agencies in Manchester seem to be forming, it is interesting to guess the effect on the Manchester PR scene.

Moreover, many of the new agencies in Manchester seem to be focused on B2C rather than B2B, which also asks more questions of the above.

It is not an issue completely confined to PR agencies in Manchester (or other cities), the same could possibly be asked of SEO agencies (in the near to mid-future) and they have generally been enjoying a period of tremendous growth.

But then again we have the issues of Penguin, Panda and Google algorithms there.   

Still, I am not going to predict the future on all but one point: PR is in more flux than it has been since the deregulation of professional services that enabled firms to use advertising in the mid-90s and consequently it is a question of adaptation as well as competition.

Seven years of blogging about PR in Manchester and beyond – the best of 2006-2012

The Artisan blog was the first Manchester PR blog as far as I know.

Certainly I cannot think of another that is still going from 2006.

It has around 650 posts to date and covers a myriad of subjects, especially those relating to Manchester PR agencies, technology and of course PR itself.

It is better written now than it was when I started although I have picked out some of the best from 2006-2012.  (The most interesting 2112-2013 entries can be found here.

Let’s begin:

Sometimes I have found myself explaining or defending PR agencies such as with this thread.

Yes PR agencies can give poor service, but this is not indicative of the industry.  There are bad apples in every profession.

Sometimes I am doing the opposite such as this piece on a Manchester PR agency promoting payment by results.

Many posts are on the industry and the issues raised such as this post that highlights the weaknesses of citizenship journalism at a time when it was being lauded.

Tips pieces feature occasionally and these from myself How to pitch to bloggers and these from specialists are still very useful today: Judi Goodwin’s How to unleash your writing power! and Bill Doherty on negotiation tips.

Good PR case studies such as “Who parked their tank on my lawn?”  also feature occasionally. 

Some are sillier than others such as Dog advertising, which was this blog’s most popular page for ages, that was inspired by Puppy Doms (a Jamie Clouting favourite).

Some brilliant PR stories are global in reach such as this: “Keyboards dirtier than toilets.”  My Israeli cousin in Jerusalem picked up on this!

A few Artisan PR pieces were also featured in the blog such as this piece in The Guardian for a Manchester headhunter

Sometimes human interest stories including this one about Belsen featured.

I hope you have got something out the Artisan blog, feel free to leave comments and keep following.

Manchester PR professionals lead the way for fairtrade practices

PR agencies are leading the crusade against the exploitation of Manchester PR professionals with the adoption of fair trade policies towards public relation employees.

This much downtrodden profession had seen PR executives working unimaginable hours in pursuit of media coverage.

The new campaign will guarantee that Manchester PR professionals at least will not be cooped all day without seeing daylight or being able to tweet or waste precious time on Facebook.

The initiative, which will start on the 1st April, will see press releases stamped with a Fairtrade logo to reassure journalists and all Manchester PR websites will also display the badge.

Whether the fair trade scheme extends to Manchester marketing agencies remains to be seen.

April Fool!

Well it could have been better, but still good link bait.

Did anyone try Google Nose?




Using PR for Search (some ideas from SEO moz video)

SEOmoz has some excellent Whiteboard Friday video classes on SEO and search topics.

This one in particular about using other people’s sites to boost your own business’ search ranking shows how using PR for search can prove to be very effective in combination with SEO.

While Rand Fishkin, the very engaging presenter and CEO of SEOmoz, does not really focus on PR it does show how it can be used effectively with search.  (Some SEO professionals don’t get PR or how it works although I am sure Rand does).

One thing Rand points out is when you get a piece in a magazine or newspaper’s website, or indeed on a blog, link to it.

The PR piece might not rank highly but by linking to it could be pushed up the search rankings.  This in turn gives greater visibility to your coverage.  This is excellent in brand improvement terms.

Content from PR, be it an article, presentation or release can be shared on a host of social media such as Slide Share, Quora or Google+.  All can give additional value to the PR content, something that you probably knew.

Without the PR professional the ability to harnesss other sites would be much harder.  The media outlet site’s would not be cultivated without the PR professional’s input.

There is a battle for control of social media (some say) between PR and search professionals, perhaps it is more about collaboration.

To go to Rand Fishkin’s video on using other people’s sites to boost your own site’s SEO click here

Investment in good PR and marketing brings financial benefits – Robinson’s Brewey should handsomely reap the benefits of its new exhibit


I was at a Blues in Business (for the discerning Manchester City fan) last night when I with the other attendees was given a tour of the new Robinson’s exhibition centre.

You see the whole brewing process.  When fully complete it will take up an hour and half of visitors’ time to explore all the information presented.

It is an impressive effort, and shows off the history and expertise of Robinsons.  It also has a good restaurant and a bar, of course, to sample Robinson’s wares.

It reminds me a little bit of Melbourne, a data centre that was sold recently for a reported £7m.  It invested a considerable amount into making their offices stand out: yes, it had pool tables, but also a football pitch and a Alice In Wonderland type rooms / arrangements.  It was a real vehicle for PR and marketing.  £100,000 was reportedly invested but it must have paid off, what would be seen as a large investment for a firm of its size, in a very short time.

Yes, Robinsons is not the first brewery to have a tour of its facilities, but it has nevertheless recognised that investment will pay dividends with its various audiences.

It is a message PR professionals and marketers try to convey to those who have ambitions for their businesses.  It is a  lesson that needs to be repeated.

The tale of the Sky Prawn – a tale of clever rebranding

What do you do when you have swarms of locusts destroying your crops and your culture does not think of these insects as ingredients as typical good old home cooking?

Yes, that’s right you re-brand the biblical pests as lovable and delicious “sky prawns.”

The Middle East is under attack – something that you think they would be used, pestilence rather than war wise – and the question of how to deal with the protein, iron and zinc rich critters is creating a lot of public debate.

The foodies down under dealt with its problem swarms by a re-brand in 2004.  Doesn’t that sound more appetising?

If it does then this list of recipes could be the thing for you as well as reducing the carbon footprint through cutting down on methane emissions.

Happy re-branding and bon appetite

Why PR retainer models are good for agencies and clients

There is no doubt that PR retainers have been under pressure for some time.

Many marketing budgets across sectors are being analysed, scrutinised and accepted, usually after more thorough questioning than had taken place in the past.  It is not a new development.  It is though a good one for clients and in turn agencies as they have to deliver.  It is something that improves the reputation of the industry.

How many businesses want to “tie” themselves down to a retainer?

Wouldn’t a project model with great flexibility be better?

The answer is I think perhaps yes in the short-term or for a very specific campaign with a set goal that has to be achieved in a short space of time.

If it is a new experience for a business then perhaps it is understandable.

However, there are good reasons why it can be to the advantage of agencies and clients:

  • Retainers give agencies time to learn about the business, its employees and sector in more depth.
  • This helps lead to better results as the experience gained identifies strategies and tactics that work and the agency becomes more effective the longer the relationship progresses.
  • Retainers show a commitment from a client to its PR or marketing supplier, which should pay itself back with additional commitment and results.
  • Retainers help agencies plan, grow and develop, projects make it harder to do so. This means that the offering of the agency is improved and not open to the whims of the ups and downs of work-flow.
  • Retainers help build personal rapport, which is key to good PR.
  • Retainers give the agency a sign of confidence in its decision to hire them.
  • If clients chop and change agencies regularly it is a warning sign to the supplier, it immediately fills them with suspicion.  It is not the best way to start a relationship.

While it is a competitive market for PR suppliers, the same rules still apply regarding retainers.

Yes, clients want to have a wide selection.

Yes, they are more careful about budgets than they have ever been.

Yes, the retainer model does not seem as attractive as it once was.

But it is worth considering if you want your agency to perform to its best abilities.

Racism and the Internet

Winston Churchill once stated that the biggest argument against democracy was a 5 minute talk with the average voter.

You could argue that he had a point when you look at some of the comments on the web, in particular for me YouTube.

It is unacceptable in everyday life, in the UK and many other countries, to be blatantly racist.  A few offensive words can lose you your job, livelihood, and bring social exclusion on the individual.

You only have to think about the ill chosen words in a moment of frustration, off air from Ron Atkinson about a black player to realise that it won’t be tolerated in the media.

In Ron’s case he could mitigate, as some did on his behalf, that he had done more to help black players overcome prejudice than perhaps any other English manager – it counted for very little.

The web is different to controlled media.  (It is worth having a look at the implications of the Royal Charter). Even so I don’t fully understand is this:

The number of ignorant people on the Internet – look at a video about anything Jewish or Israel to find some unreasoned and frankly disgusting sentiments that are often nothing to do with the video.

Try it for other minorities – blacks, Hispanics, Gypsies etc – and you can find the same.

I will not write down any comments, but you can find them just the same quite easily.  I do not need to give examples because they are so ubiquitous.

I think people online can hide behind anonymity and say racist things that could not be possibly aired in their public roles.  It is certainly a factor I believe.

The question is what are YouTube, Google and other online platforms and forums going to do to about it?  What can they do in terms of the vast amount of traffic that would need to be controlled?

Well in the case of white supremacist website Jew Watch, it had a high listing on the SERPs for the term “Jew.”  Even though Google said it abhorred the site it still was very much top 5 on page one for years and despite petitions Google would not budge: “freedom of speech.”

We also have issues across borders, laws and cultures – in South America it is notoriously politically incorrect.  Luis Suarez is viewed as someone who said something blatantly racist in the UK, not so in much of South America.  Turcos (Moslem), Rusos (Jews), Chinos (Chinese), Negro (Black) etc is common currency for many and is not meant to be offensive in the way it is in the US or UK.

I think we have to accept that the Internet is a reflection of its users.  But we don’t have to fully accept that certain behaviours should be tolerated.