Q: P.R. or Content Marketing?
A: When we started, what we did was called P.R. – now much has changed and so have we. Consequently, what we now do comes under the broad heading of Content Marketing – which we achieve using established P.R. techniques. So content marketing defines the why? and P.R. defines the what? and how?
Q: What do you do?
A: We write about client’s products and services then we get it published in printed and online journals.
We submit company profiles and product/service information to directories/portals.
We manage client advertising. We provide an independent marketing perspective – a consultancy role that enables us to fulfil the function of a marketing department if required.
Q: Why a monthly fee and 3 months notice?
A: The essence of success with P.R. is regular long term monthly activity so it is appropriate to charge each month. In such a long term relationship (we have clients who have been with us for 20+ years) it is fair to have a reasonable run down period for both parties. We will seek to have a pipeline of work ahead for about 3 months, so this gives time for that material to be issued.
Q: Why not a yearly contract?
A: It is our view that this can lead to neglect on one or both sides for much of the year with problems being “stored up” for months then furious activity to justify whatever position is required to renew or dump the contract. We would rather have an involved relationship with the possibility of discussion at any time to sort out problems as they arise.
Q: What do we get for our money?
A: Well we are dependant on the good will of 3rd party editors who choose what they print – but we have a 20+ year record of providing interesting material which can be easily used in the media so we are used to seeing substantial coverage for our clients. Information from our clients and independent data confirm that this leads to more web traffic, more e-mail enquiries, more phone enquiries, more RFQs, etc. It is up to you then to complete the sales.
Q: We don’t have anything to talk about – so how does that work?
A: So how come you are still in business? What do you talk about to prospective customers? It is really just a question of understanding what to talk about – I was asked this recently and so I referred to the company leaflet which listed some 30 different main product groups – each consisting of many product lines. Often it is our role to draw out this information.
Q: We don’t have anything new – how does that work?
A: Obviously we like to work with new products and journal readers like to read about them – but it is important to also keep older products alive in people’s minds for a number of reasons:
– it has been estimated that there is a 40% churn of engineers each year so many engineers will not have heard of your products/services.
– In some markets products have an indefinite lifespan but small developments are important – they may have significant performance or cost implications.
– Often a new application comes to light for existing products – it can be very important to let people know about new ways of using things to solve new problems.
Q: Everyone we are interested in already knows us. Why should we spend money on promotion?
A: Great if true – but even Hoover got overtaken. In any event our experience shows that the 80:20 rule applies – in this case it is likely that 80% of your customers are only aware of 20% of your products. P.R. and other promotion helps you to “mine” your existing sales base by improving your relationship with them. Additionally it is unlikely to be actually correct since the churn of engineers/buyers means that many new players are always coming into the market. Additionally many projects are developed by one-off teams put together for a short period then moving on, these people may be brought in from outside your normal target audience.
Q: Why should we keep doing this long term?
A: We have noticed that a company profile – it’s visibility in the market place – fades quite quickly. If you do not maintain promotional activity, then in a matter of months the activity of your competitors will have pushed you to the back pages of the search engines or you will simply fade from the minds and desks of your potential customers. Continuous activity ensures that not only do you come to the attention of new players but that when an existing customer reviews his options then you keep coming at the top of his list. Long term activity also builds a huge database of material which becomes part of your sales collateral so that you can be found easily and extends the breadth of awareness to even minor products.
Q: We can’t spare the time – how do you work around that?
A: Actually it takes very little client time. Initially there is a learning curve for both parties when meetings may be needed but we can generally work from then on simply with a short brief by phone or e-mail. We know what we are doing and get on with it.
Q: How can you write about our products – are you an engineer?
A: No I’m not and if I were then I’d probably “over write” the material. I do have an engineering/science background and have experience working on many technologies over 20 years – from electronic to mechanical – so that if I can understand your product/service then I can explain it to others in a simple and interesting way.
Q: We need to sell – how does this help?
A: It helps by getting already interested people to your door. P.R. encourages customers to come to you so it facilitates the sales process.
Q: This editorial stuff is OK but surely we need something more punchy?
A: Actually “punchy” sales material is really hard to read much of – that is at least one reason why editors weed it out – so that readers will actually read their journals! On the other hand of course if you want to print an advert then you have the option to pay for it. Interestingly experience shows that editorial material generally generates as much interest as ads that have cost a great deal more to publish. The two do different jobs – editorial/P.R. provides information – “punchy” material batters the door down and demands attention.
Q: What is your experience that would enable you to understand our business?
A: I have a degree that covers the sciences, engineering and business management, followed by marketing positions for 10 years in the automotive and electrical industries. I have spent 20+ years writing about electronics, advanced manufacturing processes, visual inspection, adhesives, heating systems, electrical equipment, fasteners, mechanical hardware, exhibitions and many others. In parallel with that I have carried out marketing projects including as Marketing Manager for an electrical client and a number of successful commissioned sales projects in the electronics/electrical industries.
Q: Why should we get ourselves on the net/web?
A: We work with both printed and online media – our clients tell us that they get most of their enquiries from the net.
Q: We tried advertising once and it didn’t work. Why should we try P.R.?
A: Well first P.R. is not advertising – they are very different. Second – doing one ad is like playing roulette by putting all your money on one number one time, then when not winning, claiming that it is not possible to win. Of course promotion is not gambling either so the metaphor sort of runs out here – but perhaps the rifle and shotgun comparison is better. Try shooting a flock of birds with a single rifle shot (like a one off advert) and chances are you will miss – do the same with a shotgun (P.R.) and you not only have a much better chance – but could even hit more than one. Both also need skill to hit anything!
Q: We tried P.R. once and it didn’t work. What’s different about you?
A: Please don’t judge the whole P.R. process by one experience – as in any industry there are good/not so good and people who do/do not get on together. We are different, that’s the point.
Q: So what is the difference between P.R. and Advertising?
A: Basically the P.R. process provides editorial material which journals publish for free. Advertising is where a client pays for a piece of journal space and can more or less say whatever they want – other advertising may involve for example buying yourself up the search listings. P.R. and Advertising go together – without editorial there would not be a readership, without advertising there would not be a journal. Plus there are things that can be said in one that cannot be expressed in the other – so they are synergistic and a good promotional plan will include both. Clients should also remember that without their advertising money the journals could not afford to publish their P.R.
Q: How can we get the best out of what you do?
A: This is usually unspoken and probably unformed – but is actually a question that clients should ask. Briefly – provide as much material as you can and stay in-touch at a senior level so we can continue to understand your products and your business. That way we can put out the quantity and quality of material required. In addition you can enhance the effect of what we do by other related activities e.g. on your website, newsletters, advertising etc.
Q: How will we know that our P.R. is working?
A: Initially we would look for submissions being published online or for pieces appearing in printed journals. These are often notified by the sites or journals themselves. We would also look for back links to traffic on your site and for increased traffic/enquiries generally – we also monitor page rankings for important keywords and search strings.
Q: There can’t be enough journals to make P.R. worthwhile can there?
A: We use a targeted approach using proprietary databases and our own research to ensure that we only include journals where we have good reason to believe they will be interested in a client’s material – nonetheless typically we have listings of 100 to 200 publications for any one client. A wider unsorted listing may well show 300 or more, much of which would be pointless and only irritate the recipients.
Q: What does it cost?
A: That depends on how much and what we end up doing for you – but we believe the general market rate for this kind of work is between £1,000 to £2,000 per month.
Q: How do you create your mailing lists?
A: As a starting point we subscribe to proprietary lists but it has always been important to do our own research and this is increasingly the case since we find many important online publications are not database listed. Consequently our client mailing lists are as comprehensive and relevant as we can make them.
Q: How do you know material goes to the right people?
A: We create a mailing list in light of a sound knowledge of the client’s business and who their customers are likely to be. From there we can select publications with appropriate readership.
Q: How do you handle your distribution?
A: By e-mail with photo attachments. We also submit material directly onto websites.