Surrey’s latest chartered PR practitioner!

Chartered CIPR PractitionerI was delighted to learn recently that as an accredited practitioner who has kept up my CPD I was able to attend a Chartership day and get Chartered. I recently completed the Masters Level Diplomas in PR and internal communications which gave me confidence to put myself forward for the assessment – but must admit when the preparation work arrived and as the day got nearer, the nerves started to kick in. It is that on the spot aspect of assessment, a bit like a French oral test or a driving test, which is particularly challenging. But nothing ventured I thought….

The day itself was equally interesting and rigorous. Five of us per group in three 90 minute sessions on leadership, strategy and ethics. It definitely wasn’t for the unprepared. We had a case study to review ready for discussion and then the topic was widened to get our opinions and our own examples from Practise. Not everyone passed on the day but there is the opportunity to go back a second time and retry.

Those of us who were successful really felt as though we had achieved something high level. It was great to meet a variety of senior, interesting professionals from all areas of the PR industry and really committed assessors who put us through our paces. I hope to stay in touch and continue the conversation with all of them.

More than that, it felt fantastic that as an industry we have evolved the services that we offer so that we are more accountable and what we do is more measurable – more than ever, we have to prove ourselves and achieve measurable success. We are not perfect of course – there is always more to learn and develop. We need to keep listening to the changing needs of our clients and develop our skills and competencies and share experiences. We are challenged more but the role of a PR Practitioner is more interesting and more rewarding than ever.

Mandy Brooks MCIPR certificateTo all Fellow Practitioners, when you’re ready, definitely get Chartered and to all clients and potential clients looking forward to sharing the benefits with you and to inviting you to our 21 year birthday celebrations soon……..


CBC flying the flag for Great Britain

It’s been announced this week that according to recent figures, we are officially out of the financial crisis. The UK economy has emerged from recession – we’re the last major economy to leave it, but we got there! The recovery may be slow and growth is gradual, but it’s been said that our best prospect remains to be in exports.

“The trajectory for the recovery, particularly in the next six months, is an uncertain one and the best prospects remain an export-driven turnaround.” – Lee Hopley, chief economist at manufacturers organisation EEF.

At a roundtable event this week, I was presented with the opportunity to get involved with launching Chinese companies in the UK. A fantastic prospect for a valuable partnership, but it got me thinking – exporting really is the future for the UK economy. When people think of exporting, often people assume that it’s the selling of products abroad, but what about services?

Like us, I’m sure a lot of other professional or business service companies work internationally – this is another example of exporting which is just as valuable to the UK economy. We’ve worked across the continents over the years at CBC, including US, most of Europe and Scandinavia, Israel, India, Pakistan, several parts of Africa, Australia and now China, and we continue to offer international PR campaign management as one of our services.

We’re flying the flag for the UK, bringing money back to support the economy. Let’s get involved, help UK companies thrive by working internationally, and do our bit to keep the UK out of recession.


A thought from us on the Budget…

Yesterday’s budget from Chancellor George Osborne has got everyone talking…so we thought we’d share a thought from us..

Something that stood out to us was how promising the upgrades in travel sounded, alongside the funding for “superfast” broadband and wi-fi in UK cities.

It’s really encouraging to hear about the investment into the improvements of rail links and that the Budget is looking into the future of aviation later in the year, alongside funding for broadband and wi-fi in 10 UK cities.

We all have fantastic means of communication these days and so much of business is done over the internet or phone in some shape or form. The broadband and wi-fi funding supports this and helps keep Britain green. Equally though, the fact remains that there is still no replacement for face-to-face meetings, which is where this travel investment comes in. Top level customer service and loyalty is vital to drive businesses forward, which requires both face-to-face meetings and online communication.

By this Budget addressing both of these concepts, the future for maintaining strong relationships with customers both at home and abroad looks promising.

In Guildford, we’re situated really well with great rail links and close proximity to airports – international business is thriving here and we can only assume that Osborne looking into the future of aviation will help to build on the business community here.

Advertising vs PR

I’ve seen a lot of new adverts this week, and it’s really got me thinking about the value of advertising as opposed to PR. We live in a world where advertising surrounds us constantly. Whether its banners on the side of the road, adverts on the TV, posters on public transport, pieces in magazines…everyone knows why companies and services advertise: to promote, inform and inspire and, ultimately, sell.

Everyone recognises that advertising costs, too, but companies are prepared to pay because they know its value; publicity leading to an increase in profit. Advertising is a great publicity tool, but the best publicity is continual, rather than one-off adverts with no follow up. With advertising, this can get really quite pricey, and sometimes it’ll be tricky to maintain the publicity.

What about messaging – can you really believe everything you read/see/hear? Some consumers may be sceptical about what they see advertised. I know I can be – largely because I’ve bought stuff based on promises made in adverts, and the products haven’t measured up; the danger of over-promising and under-delivering. Consumers know that wherever the advert is, it’s been paid for, which can minimise the validity and power of the message communicated.

PR offers you a cheaper, more valid and longer lasting solution. Sure, if you’re outsourcing your PR efforts, this does cost. But by a company investing in PR long term, they can build their profile in their sector or community to have more impact, and the value received will far outweigh the costing.
PR can get you places where advertising can’t, especially when your budget isn’t never-ending. When looking for advertising, you could be bidding against some big companies with big budgets, so you’ll have more competition. With PR, if your story is interesting and relevant to the feature, then you’re much more likely to get publicity. Your competition is limited to companies that are relevant, not those that can boast big money.

PR may also secure opportunities for next time, too. Journalists will learn more about you via liaison for the feature, so are more likely to remember you.

Now, don’t get me wrong, advertising is a great tool for publicity and also works well with PR. It gets you noticed and, if done correctly and regularly, can build a profile. But remember, you don’t have to shed out big bucks for publicity – PR is definitely worth looking into for longer lasting, better value and more effective publicity. And you don’t have to choose PR or Advertising – when balanced, they can work really well together!


Top Tips for Effective Presentations

At CBC, we have been asked to present at many New Business Pitches over the years, as well as presenting at Local Seminars – sharing PR Advice as part of Business Forums and also internally through our In House Training Programmes.

Here are some tips, which we have learnt over the years and which we hope will be useful for those of you needing to prepare a Business Presentation this Autumn!

1) Keep your presentation short and to the point. There is nothing worse than seeing eyelids drooping in your audience. And, as we all know, yawning really is contagious 🙂

2) Make sure you know who your audience is so you can gauge the level of the content to them.

3) Use the So what? question as you prepare the content for your presentation.
Ensure that your presentation has a true purpose. Why are your audience there? What have you got to tell them? What will they take away from it?

4) If you are using say PowerPoint, break up your text slides with images – and vary the look of your slides – but don’t overdo it. Too many different fonts can be distracting, as can special effects with sound. Keep it simple to ensure your audience listen to you and aren’t reading, but adding a picture/photo works well.

5) Always do a practice run though your presentation – to a group of colleagues, friends or even family. This will help you cut out any unnecessary detail.

6) Confidence is key…This will come from being genuinely passionate about what you are saying and being well prepared.

7) If you can’t handle questions as you go along – invite your audience to ask questions at the end of the presentation (as a group or individually). Questions from the audience can be hard to manage and could put you on the spot unless you are have the information at your finger tips. If you don’t know the answer to any question, be honest and say so but ensure that you get back to that person with the information at a later date.

8) Ask people at the back of the room if they can hear you.

9) Smile and speak slowly – less is more. Give your audience time to listen and think.

10) Don’t fiddle, fidget or move your hands – all of these can be distracting.

11) Pray that the room is free of noise (drills, banging doors, alarms), not too hot or too cold. Sometimes this is out of your control, make light of it if that is the case.

12) Bring an electronic copy (on USB), charged laptop and hard copy of your presentation with you in case there is a power cut – or equipment is not there that should be.

13) Start by engaging your audience – by getting them to think about the subject in hand – and if appropriate get a couple of comments from your audience to set the scene. This will test their knowledge and start the basis for comparison with what they know and what you are telling them.

14) If you feel confident, add personal anecdotes – but don’t otherwise. If you do… don’t over do it. Some people are much better at telling a good story than others.
Think of the AIDA acronym – Attract them, Interest Them, Create the Desire and then the Action. Think of it as if you are selling an idea and getting buy in from your audience.

15) Have a good first slide – summarising the main points. A good presenter will only need that to jog him/her as to the content he/she needs to be covering.

16) As you go though the content – at intervals, refer back to what your audience may be thinking, and reflect back to them what their needs are.

17) If there are say 5 steps to something – try and elicit from the audience what they might be – again this will engage them into listening to you so that can compare their knowledge with yours.

18) Summarise at the end – And tell your audience what you have told them to reinforce your presentation.

19) Thank your audience and provide them with handouts should that be appropriate.

20) If you say you will email the presentation or provide a link to it, make sure you do.

Hoping that you all had a lovely Summer too!