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Archive For 'November, 2012'

The Leveson report

30 November 2012 at 11:02

The hotly anticipated Leveson report into press standards was finally released yesterday. It recommends tougher, legislation-backed self-regulation to protect the rights of victims and uphold press standards.

There are reams of media coverage surrounding the report, but we think the best place to go for thorough, thought provoking editorial is The Guardian online.  

The paper’s politics and media correspondents pulled all the stops out with excellent live coverage during yesterday’s developments, charting ongoing reactions to the report.

Live online coverage

In the hours before the report was made public, Andrew Sparrow’s Politics Live blog put it like this:

Millions of words have probably been written about press regulation in recent weeks, and many more are to come (not least here), but few people have summed up the arguments better than Tom Stoppard in one of his early plays, Night and Day. A character called Jacob Milne, an idealist young journalist who is not naive about the grubbier aspects of newspapers, puts the case for a free press better than anyone since John Stuart Mill.

“Some of the best times in my life have been spent sitting in a clapped-out Ford Consul outside a suburban house with a packet of polos and twenty players waiting to grab a crooked landlord or a footballer’s runaway wife who might be good for one front page between oblivion and oblivion. I felt part of a privileged group, inside society and yet outside it, with a licence to scourge it and a duty to defend it, night and day, the street of adventure, the fourth estate. And the thing is - I was dead right. That’s what it was, and I was part of it because it’s indivisible. Junk journalism is the evidence of a society that has got at least one thing right, that there should be nobody with the power to dictate where responsible journalism begins.”

And the counter argument is put equally by another character in this conversation, Ruth Carson.

“I’m with you on the free press. It’s the newspapers I can’t stand.”

Today we will find out whether Lord Justice Leveson is with Jacob or with Ruth - and whether David Cameron agrees.

You can see Andrew Sparrow’s full blog here:


Also well worth a look is the media blog written by Andrew Sparrow’s colleagues Paul Owen, Jemima Kiss and David Batty:


And if you want to get straight to the report itself, you can see it here:


What are your thoughts on the report? Please share them here…


Tags: Leveson report | The Guardian

Posted in Friday Rambles | No Comments

How to hit Google’s front page (or Bing’s or Yahoo!’s…)

16 November 2012 at 12:04

When was the last time you checked out your search engine rankings for keywords or phrases linked to your business?

Many firms treat SEO (search engine optimisation) as a one-off job for their web developer. It’s true that your website’s set-up is important. But SEO doesn’t come to an end once your website goes live – it is just the start of the journey.

Things change quickly in the world of search, and if your site is more than a couple of years old – and hasn’t been regularly updated in that time – the chances are you won’t be performing well in search rankings.

Why are search rankings so important?

Think about the last time you searched for something online. Which links did you click on for more information? The chances are they were on the first page of results – and probably in the top three.

Recent figures indicate that:

#1 ranked sites receive 36.4% of clicks

#2 ranked sites receive 12.5%

#3 ranked sites get just 9.5%

And that’s just for the front page…page 2 only gets around 15% of clicks in total.

Content is everything

If you want to boost your performance with search engines, take a good look at your online content. Establishing a regular stream of interesting, relevant content about areas that interest your target audience is the surest route to search engine success.

That’s why more and more businesses are involving their PR team in their search marketing strategy. After all, content generation is PR’s bread and butter. Taking a joined-up approach to PR and SEO can go a long way towards achieving your search marketing objectives.

We went to a great workshop this week, presented by Chris Lee of Planet Content (hosted by Talking Heads).

Chris’ top ten tips for generating effective content are:

  1. Take a long-term view
  2. Map your audience
  3. Build a content strategy: what do they want, where are they, how will you resource, which channels will you target?
  4. Team up with content creators (designers, video production etc.)
  5. Tell a story
  6. Create a content calendar and style guide
  7. Create a technically and aesthetically superior web experience
  8. How will you seed content? Find the influencers
  9. Curate others’ content
  10. Assess Google Analytics and measure performance: Test and learn


These days, SEO is about more than clicks - it plays a vital role in reputation management. As Chris points out, 'you are who Google says you are'.

So release search from its techy silo and share the responsibility across wider PR and marketing activity. It's the quickest way to rise up the search engine ranks - and stay there.



Tags: Planet Content | Talking Heads | Chris Lee

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How video can boost manufacturing & engineering brands

09 November 2012 at 10:55

Many manufacturing and engineering brands invest in a big-ticket corporate video every few years. It takes pride of place on the website, on exhibition stands and in reception.

That’s all well and good. But we believe that coupling this with a more regular stream of lower-budget video content is a recipe for success.

Lots of trade and industry publications are keen to run interesting videos on their websites these days. And the medium is perfect for thought leadership content. Instead of channelling all of your thought leadership efforts into by-lined articles and speaker opportunities, why not consider a monthly video where subject experts wax lyrical about a topic that is close to their heart? Or ask the CEO to record their thoughts on a red-hot issue affecting your sector.

The most important thing is that you are not overly self-promotional – talk about the issues and you will demonstrate your expertise implicitly. Don’t fall into the trap of talking about your products and services – viewers will switch off!

Thought leadership videos don’t necessarily need to involve a large budget and high-end production. Some of the best examples are quite basic. You just need to make sure the audio is clear and the set-up looks professional, and this can be achieved with a handycam, a tripod, basic lighting and a quick tidy-up.

In addition to thought leadership videos, you might consider video case studies (get your clients to sing your praises!), factory tours, product demonstrations or testing/qualification demonstrations.

If you pitch it right, the content is likely to be of interest to the industry websites that are trusted and respected by your target audiences.

Adding video to your own website and YouTube channel on a regular basis, and optimising it appropriately, can also help pump up your search rankings. Forrester research shows that videos are 53 times more likely than text pages to appear on page one of search results.

So dust off your handycam, plan your content and give it a go!



Tags: YouTube | Forrester | PR

Posted in Friday Rambles | No Comments

3 tips for a vibrant roundtable

02 November 2012 at 10:26

Planning and preparation are everything if your roundtable is to provide a platform for stimulating debate, rather than awkward silence. Here are three tips for success.

Manufacturing and engineering journalists love to receive nuggets of insight from sector leaders. Last week we blogged about the value of opinion-led editorial in industry publications.

However if you really want to enthuse a journalist, you can take this approach a step further. This week we’re talking about the often under-used tactic of industry roundtables.

If there’s one thing journalists love more than an industry leader’s musings, it is the musings of a group of industry leaders. So why not create an environment for industry debate, and invite a journalist along to observe?

You don’t necessarily need to go to any great expense. You just need to take some time to plan a theme and invite a handful of peers (perhaps even competitors) whose opinions you respect and take it from there.

1. If there is a specific publication that you’re really keen to hit, engage the editor upfront and offer them exclusive coverage of the event. Ask what they see as the most topical or thorny issues of the day, and what they would like to get out of the debate. By involving them from an early stage you are more likely to create an event that is relevant and interesting to the publication and its readers. They may also have prior experience of roundtables and be able to hook you up with other important contacts. Which brings us to…

2. Selecting the chair. Much as it is tempting to control the event yourself, appointing a third party chair can be a very wise move. They need to be able to take a neutral view of the proceedings and ideally have some prior experience so they can stimulate discussion and ensure all participants’ voices are heard. A good chair will play an active role in the roundtable, facilitating a natural flow of conversation and eliciting pearls of wisdom from the participants, whilst remaining impartial throughout.

3. Last but not least, don’t expect your participants to simply turn up on the day brimming with insightful comments without any prior direction from you.

Circulating the roundtable theme a few weeks before the event is a must. Are you concerned that one or two participants may dominate the proceedings? Or that there will be a stony silence once the roundtable begins? If so, consider giving everybody a discussion area in advance and ask them to prepare a five minute speech.

This will encourage participants to give the debate some proper thought ahead of the day, so the chances are that discussion will be free-flowing and you won’t need them to rely on their speeches at all. However, they give you something to fall back on if the conversation is slow to warm up or if you need to re-stimulate the conversation or take it in a new direction.


Roundtables can be a powerful way to secure in-depth coverage on the issues that matter to you, and build relationships with influential journalists. Why not give it a go! 


Tags: PR | communications

Posted in Friday Rambles | No Comments

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