1. Consider stuntsStunts may be risky but they can be very effective if done in a witty and relevant way, says author and “ideas man” Shed Simove. “The best are those that show you have the skills relevant to what a person wants,” he says. Ling’s Cars founder Ling Valentine put a missile truck on the side of the A1 motorway to promote her firm. “People’s opinions changed from ‘you’re mad’ to ‘that’s clever’,” she says. “When Tony Blair forced me to remove the rocket, I was inundated with messages asking where it had gone, and was interviewed on radio and TV.”
2. Try something differentOn occasion, it’s good to change tack, says Ronnie Bartlett. His family’s 60-year-old root vegetable business, Albert Bartlett, became a sponsor of iconic horse racing festival Cheltenham. He explains: “We’re getting to the male consumer because that can drive demand. Cheltenham is covered all across the world, so it’s huge exposure for us. “There’s a lot of trade involved in the festival over the week; punters get to try our products. Everyone who eats a potato at Cheltenham will eat one of ours.”
3. Personalise and differentiateSimove recommends adding a personal touch to your offering. “Target decision-makers but strike an emotional connection. Don’t do what everyone else will do,” he says. “One time, to win a client, I found out all about the company’s boss, discovered his favourite character in Coronation Street was Mike Baldwin and then got the actor in question to sign a photo with a special message on it.”
4. Hire a PR firm for your businessIt’s an oldie but a goodie. Hiring a good PR firm is one of the easiest ways to increase awareness of your business. Dean Horridge, founder of children’s activity company Fit for Sport, recently hired his first PR company. “We were sending a lot of mixed messages about what we did through some of our initiatives – we wanted clarity on brand awareness across the UK,” he says.
5. Hire a PR firm for youOne of the services Rostrum Communications offers is “personal” PR. Founder Mark Houlding explains why it can be useful: “It can create credibility for the company by giving it a human face and personality, which can add value if you’re competing against larger firms with bigger budgets and brands.”
6. Pick a firm that knows your market“An agency is not going to be able to do a great job of positioning your brand and finding the opportunities and dealing with journalists in a professional manner if it doesn’t know your market,” says Jay O’Connor, former MD of European operations for PR firm Racepoint Group. She also says it’s important to check a potential PR partner’s contacts and references.
7. Be eponymousValentine believes putting herself in the firing line has been the most successful tactic to raise the profile of her business. “Every other company in the car-leasing sector trades as a generic-style firm, such as XYZ Leasing, but I trade as myself. People know who they’re dealing with,” she says. “Sticking my head above the parapet includes putting myself on TV [Valentine turned down funding on Dragons’ Den], representing myself on my webpage and personally taking care of my customers.”
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