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.
Artisan has been featured in Hotel Business magazine this week on the subject of using PR to full effect with the upcoming Jubilee and Olympics.
The following gives an introduction into how hotels and indeed other types of leisure businesses, possibly outside these industries, can use this double whammy to raise their profiles:
2012 will see the United Kingdom host two events that will attract the attention of the world’s media: The Olympics and the Jubilee.
While the Olympics is, with the World Cup, an unrivalled spectacle, the Jubilee offers something that is quite different to anything the rest of the world can offer.
The Jubilee meets the weary truism of marketers, it possesses a unique selling point: The Royal Family. Nowhere else has a royal family that intrigues, interests and commands the following that our Royal Family does.
Both events combined offer a double opportunity for hotels to market themselves to not only the influx of visitors from abroad, but also those that will follow after, inspired by these monumental happenings and are again reminded of a country with a very rich history and culture. And let’s not forget home grown tourists.
But how does a hotel capitalise on this PR wise?
The newspapers will be inundated with connections to both events, some interesting, many fatuous and obscure.
Journalists are well known for sifting through information to get to the best material that they can use, what is discarded (should it be printed) would make paper mountains to rival The Alps in size.
So my first piece of advice, taking it just for now that there has been planning of events and offers and deals possibly based on past experience of what delivers, is to hire a PR professional for working with the traditional press.
If you are interested in local newspapers, lifestyle, travel and other trade magazines, radio and TV, nationals it is prudent to raise a budget and find a brilliant PR.
I would say that wouldn’t I?
Yes I would, for the experience of knowing what makes a story and then pitching it in to the right contacts is a real skill.
Some non-media people can be very good amateur PRs, but do you really know what makes a good story? If you don’t it could be a false economy to do it yourself. You might learn the PR trade, but the time it takes to learn and the mistakes made cost be costly.
Remember a piece in the travel supplement of a national could be worth thousands and can drive considerable traffic – can you really achieve that for your business?
So select a good PR, meet a few based on recommendations from trusted contacts that have experience and ideas. Then ask yourself can you build a working relationship with them? And perhaps most importantly, are they motivated to work with you?
The best PR in the world is a liability if they are not committed to your success.
The PR should prompt you in identifying stories that have interesting angles that will stand out.
To give an idea of the sort of stories that make headlines, Max Clifford Associates ran a story tying Pimlico Plumbers with the London Marathon when employee Pierre Jean “Buster” Martin, ran, or rather walked, in the race at the age of 100 or so he claimed – he could have been 97!
This got national media coverage including some juicy coverage on the BBC News as well as in the international media.
While your hotel might not have someone that ran in the 1948 Olympics on the staff, you never know connections or stories you could come up with. Do your research, with your PR, as you never know. Less ambitious stories can also bring results.
Hoteliers should approach social media, perhaps with professional guidance, and aim to make a mark.
Twitter, yes, blogging, could be good to build a following talking about how you will prepare for the big events, what the hotel is running and how it turns out – in effect your own online newspaper. Also consider embedding videos, which can be used for online search engine purposes as well as illustrative ones.
With all the above you will need time and dedication and discipline to make it work – it is time intensive, so make sure you have the resources in place.
It looks awful and amateurish to start blogging with gusto and then for there to be a cessation of activity. It also looks as though you have given up your activity for The Olympics and Jubliee.
A lesser-known social media channel that should be considered is Foursquare.
Foursquare is an ideal tool because users tell their followers, often pulling through to Twitter and LinkedIn, where they have been and sometimes what they think of the venue.
It is like leaving an online calling card and then letting your friends and contacts where you have visited.
The value of Foursquare is that you can build rewards as part of acknowledging a visit – so if you visit enough times you will gain higher levels of status. So if you gain a more junior status such as mayor you might give away a night at your Jubilee dinner event for instance as a reward.
This is just a starting point for using PR; there are plenty of marketing initiatives you can run as well.
One piece of advice that can be acted upon now is to act now. Summer might seem a long way away but it is not.
To find a PR, to build up a relationship with your supplier and to plan the campaign and deliver it are not things that can be turned around in two weeks.
Well if you are looking to start a career this news will make scant impression on you.
The 1990 recession ended when you had a “proper” job – I still think many people who graduated in the early 90s are still feeling the affects of their bad timing at being born some 20 years earlier. Can do better next time if he applies himself.
The 90s recession ended in about 1997 if truth be told for many people. Bill Clinton, new technology, the Internet easing communication and attracting investment, the start of de-regulation of US banks (which had been put in place by FDR in the 30s that helped create the worst recession since the 30s) all had a role to play.
The fact for many is that careers were missed, and why?, because in the case of the marketing industry there was a reluctance to develop people – give them a chance. Of course some made it nevertheless, but the industry was unwelcoming and expected 21 years experience and candidates to be 20 years old.
I can only hope that the recovery does not exclude vast swathes of able people, but it will.
It is time for business to recognise that talent does not come from doing a marketing degree or experience only. There is a lot to be said for determination, personal characteristics such as being sociable, open to learning.
For professionals that have lost their jobs who are on the other side of the age divide, there is no reason why some businesses should discriminate – it is the person, not the age that counts.
What am I saying: the world is unfair?
It is true.
What I am saying is:
Treat people with respect – there will be too many graduates wanting a career where there are too few openings and some HR departments will enjoy thinking they are of a higher power. It is the personal characteristics that I think make a good marketer, but can you spot these and are they developed when you are a new graduate?
If you want a career in PR or marketing, the chances are you will succeed if you are determined and what might seem a bleak age now will dissolve away in time. Give yourself time and accept support when going through the often bleak process of finding a job.
I think I will tackle how to give yourself a real head start in an entry shortly – keep tuned
He has worked for Saatchi & Saatchi of course, Lowe, BBDO and McCann Erikson in the UK and abroad. Mick ran his own agency in Sydney. His campaign experience includes Vodaphone, Coca Cola, BP and Cathay Pacific. And he is even going to work on a project with me in the new year – an undoubted highlight.
So down to business:
What can PRs learn from advertising professionals?
Too many PR stories, I believe, don’t have the compelling hook.
You only have a second to engage your audience. Sure PR has its moments of brilliance, but we are talking about using a small moment time to hook your readers. Are PRs measuring up? I am not sure they appreciate that the window of opportunity to engage with their audience is so, so small.
Do you remember The Sun’s “Up yours Delores” and “Stick it up your Junta” headlines?
Alright, you might not be a Sun reader, but at least it understands its audience and writes accordingly and reels them in. If you don’t believe me why has it got over four million readers?
So what makes a campaign a success?
Well, you cannot tell if a campaign is going to be a success.
The Cadbury’s gorilla campaign was amazing. The creatives and more so the client were brave to put that forward and make it work. It had a touch of genius.
But ask me why and I cannot tell you.
It comes down to: Is advertising an art or science? It is the perennial debate. I have found intuition can be a powerful way of guiding your efforts and should not be discounted. I do my research thoroughly just to let you know and build my creative work from there.
What I can say is understand the issues, think about the problem and then work harder at the solution.
Social media will badly affect traditional advertising, an accepted wisdom, right?
No, I don’t think so.
Traditional media will not go. Internet devotees are still pushing the myths that the Internet is the only game worth noting and that you hold it in awe at all times.
You know that more people listen to radio than MP3 players or that more people (in the US) are watching TV than they did 5 years ago? Traditional advertising spaces on well patronised spaces are still there in abundance.
It all means the Internet, although attractive for advertising revenue, is still one of a number of options.
The point I want to make though it that with the Internet as well as traditional channels, it is how you engage that is important. What is the point of someone getting to your site and not being engaged?
It used to be get a site up, anything. Then it was get them there. Now it has to be let’s make our online communications so compelling they come back again and again and build a relationship with the brand.
How we need another Bill Hicks. Am I the only person not interested in X Factor, celebrities being humiliated in inhospitable climates or how someone in a soap I have never heard of is doing ballroom dancing? If you are like me listen to Bill Hicks, it will keep you sane.
Graham has been the marketing director for Matchbox Toys (which probably influenced my kindergarten career), and managing director of Dunlop Footwear and Remploy Textiles.
Today Graham uses his vast marketing and management experience to stimulate substantial growth in promising enterprises; his knowledge is also utilised to give business owners exit strategies – selling their businesses with good effect financially.
I started off by asking Graham about the building blocks that get you value, which are essential to growing businesses (especially in relation to marketing).
“Strategic marketing is all important. But it’s not about creating a brochure or marketing material. That’s tactical and not really where the battle to grow is won or lost.
The key is segmentation and positioning.
Let me talk about segmentation first. The market is not homogeneous and to ensure resources and competencies are well targeted it needs to be broken down.
This all seems straightforward, but so many businesses just don’t understand buying behaviour or the routes to market. It takes time, energy, objectiveness, willingness to embrace change and this is often underpinned by market research.
Yet, all too many businesses are too busy fire fighting or working in cruise control to address these issues. In a recession you are even more likely to get found wanting, let alone not make the most of your product or service.
Positioning follows on: analysing and choosing the segments you can compete on in relation to quality offered, competition and margin. Still too many businesses try to be everything to all and end up being of little note to anyone.”
And how does PR fit in to segmentation, positioning and the recession?
“PR can be a very targeted tool that can build up the appropriate reputation in the segment you want to be in. Social media tools are also fine tools to support any PR campaign. So PR is not an add on or nice to have, but central to engaging a strategic marketing plan.
Moreover PR can enable a smaller business to compete with bigger players or dominate a niche.”
Are there any sectors where PR agencies should target?
“Any industry that offers longer-term employment prospects is worth developing knowledge and contacts.
I think advanced technology and in particular bio-medical, chemical and environmental will be of crucial importance to the economy, especially in the North West.
I would also say hotel, leisure and tourism although that might surprise some in the current climate.”
Clients are your most powerful salesmen, does this truism really need to be stated?
It doesn’t matter how much you spend on advertising or a PR agency or branding or how many tweets you post, if the reality and expectation doesn’t match up.
Marketing is only really as strong as the product or service in the end.
I wanted to give an example of how two different experiences have reinforced the marketing effort or made it inconsequential. I suppose I wanted to give credit where it’s due and vent my spleen at the same time to be truthful.
The flight times are changed three times, I’d better check and confirm with Qatar once I arrive advises my travel agent.
Bags go missing on arrival at Delhi, over 2 hours trying to find out where at three in the morning.
Qatar office asks why they are in Bangkok! I have to explain? (Oh I wish I was there now). Do I get any money for toiletries or for the inconvenience, you bet not. It arrives – 36 hours late. I check my latest flight times with staff, a puzzled look, and told that they are of course right.
Going back, arrive at Delhi Airport with 800 Rupees (about £10). Even though the train was 4 hours late my flight doesn’t leave for several hours. I can relax and have a coffee.
I decide to check in early: the flight’s gone. Qatar changed the flight back (without telling me). Luckily sympathetic airport duty officer gets me back to Manchester with Lufthansa. I am not the first to have this problem with Qatar he informs me. If I didn’t have the print out of my flight times then I would have been stuck – my card doesn’t work over here.
I write to Qatar for some satisfaction (it must be two months ago or more): nothing.
I take a swipe at Qatar on Twitter: progress, they follow me. I decide to take another swipe to see if I can start a dialogue: “sorry” would be a start or why are you not happy with our airline? Nothing! What is the point of using Twitter for your marketing if you do not actually act on it?
I have been with the AA for I don’t know: years. I have used them 4 or 5 times in the last couple of years and they have been nothing but polite, friendly, highly skilled and professional. If I hadn’t broken down I would say it is a real pleasure to deal with them.
What’s the key difference: I will tell anyone who is flying to Dubai or onwards not to use Qatar; I would tell anyone looking for a breakdown service to use The AA.
Clients are your most powerful marketing communications, whether it is good or bad, not your marketing spend.
What does planned communications matter at this point, once you have experienced the service yourself?
Manchester PR agency offers communications advice, practical support and implementation.