Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Tea & Tips: Advice from a PR Expert on The Importance of Having a Blog...


With a fresh term at school and business back to a more regular routine, I’d like to introduce a new ‘mini’ series to run each week here on my blog.  A mid week tea break refresher to help share some insider business and marketing tips with the help of a PR expert friend of mine.

Regular blog followers may be aware that I spend some of my time visiting a local PR Agency because they have an in-house photography studio which helps capture lots of my product images (particularly the full range images that I’d find impossible to shoot at home).  As well as being their client, Porcupine PR are frequently a client of mine as I’ve also worked on many graphic design briefs from them over the past year and a bit.  I must confess, I enjoy my visits to their agency as it’s a very familiar environment to me having spent many years working in advertising agencies - and they are a very warm and friendly team... 

One of the main benefits I find of spending time there is having relaxed chats over tea and biscuits about all sorts of business and marketing matters, swapping tips and things we’ve learnt.  Most of the time, I find myself having very some inspiring conversations with the Agency’s Managing Director, Rachel Burks.  So, I had an idea and have asked Rachel if she’d be happy for me to share some of the key tips and advice she’s kindly shared with me in those conversations, here on my blog so that those of you with small home based businesses (like mine) can also benefit from some professional marketing know-how. 

Lucky for me, she said yes and I am delighted to be able to introduce my new ‘Tea & Tips’ series which will be posted here around the middle of the week, for the new few weeks.

First up, Rachel shares some advice about blogging...

Rachel: “Blogging is big business at the moment and having a blog gives you the perfect platform to show your customers the personality behind your brand name. As all sales are based on a personal connection, using social media and blogging are vital tools in any successful PR and marketing campaign.  Having a blog is a great promotional tool as you can reach a huge audience of hundreds, thousands, even millions of people. It is one of the quickest ways to spread the word about your business and once you have an established online presence people will keep coming back.

Potential customers want to know about the people behind the business they’re buying from, what they are like, what they do in their spare time and what they look like. They want to hear behind-the-scenes stories, see photographs of you and your team and generally know just what is going on in your business.  A blog can allow you to reveal this sort of information in an informal way, while still maintaining a professional image.  It is a great way to feature your products and let your readers know more about them, leading to more sales and potential new custom.

Keeping your blog up-to-date is extremely important as people want to find out as much information about you as they can and there is nothing worse than discovering a blog that hasn't been updated in months. People think that you have closed down and this does not generate a positive feeling towards your business. Therefore if you’re unable to maintain it on a weekly basis then it’s always good idea to get an external expert involved rather than risk your company’s reputation.” 

Angie: “Ahh, but if you are a small home based start-up and your budget doesn't stretch that far, then I find it helps if you take some time and try creating a blog plan.  Rather than creating individual posts as and when, make a plan and create a number of posts in one go then schedule them  - there are some great scheduling tools on most blogs that help ensure you have posts ready and lined up ready to automatically post on a given date.  That way, you can be assured that your blog is kept regularly updated, especially during times when you know you will be busy and unable to keep on top of things”.

Rachel: “It is also important to make your blog as unique and interesting for people to read. Use good quality pictures (they are just as important as the words) with your text, link back to your business’ official website so people can discover what you’re all about and use keywords in your blog posts to keep your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) high. Unique and ever changing/updated content is also good for SEO, however it is important not to be too wordy as these days people have small attention spans and little time to read long posts.

The better your SEO, the higher your blog will appear in Google search rankings and the more visitors and future customers will discover your blog.  After social media, blogs are one of the fastest ways you can communicate with your existing and potential customers too.  They allow you to gather vital information through competitions and surveys, which can then be used to tailor products and services.”

Angie: “Used with social media to reach a wider audience, I find it’s not only a great way to go into more depth about a product or project (which a string of hashtags or 140 characters on their own can never do).  Blogging is also a great way to discover exciting new designers, gather inspiration, advice and learn some great tips.”

Thank you Rachel – some sound advice there, especially the tips on SEO.

If you are interested in finding out more about social media, a little while ago posted my findings following some research I did about social media to create a brief guide to each of the top sites (I basically did the hard work so you don’t have to).  You can read those findings here:

Next week, Rachel will be sharing some Tea and Tips with me about how to get your Press Release noticed, I hope you can join us.

Best wishes