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Press for attention

In a competitive market, promoting name awareness is something that all businesses should devote some time to. While we do not pretend to be the most frequently quoted company in the financial sector, we do have our fair share of press comment and media coverage.

Over the years, we have utilised a number of methods for promoting the company.

We have been asked to sponsor or partly sponsor a number of events. The earliest one was many years ago when we were invited to become involved in the Miss World contest. In those days, the phrase politically correct was not even thought of but nevertheless we felt that becoming involved in this type of contest would upset a number of our clients.

On another occasion, we agreed to sponsor an up and coming athlete. It was agreed that he would wear a vest with our logo. His particular event was to be televised so we thought this was an ideal way of reaching thousands, if not millions, of viewers. Unfortunately for us, the logo was too big. The organisers of the event refused to allow the vest to be worn and it was changed for a plain white one.

That particular try at sponsorship quite simply did not work. The moral of the story is that if you are asked to sponsor anything, make sure the event is not likely to upset any of your clients, that there are no rules and regulations that will spoil your plans and that you are likely to get a return for your money.

Although we have very few local clients, we have always made a point of getting involved locally with schools and colleges. We have worked closely with the work experience and Young Enterprise schemes, which enable youngsters to gain experience and insight into the business world. It can also produce business from parents who are pleased that a local company has taken the trouble to give its time to help their offspring.

For many years, we have produced surveys that we provide free to the press. We understand these are well received and relied upon. For this reason, if a journalist is writing a piece on the subject matter of one of our surveys, it is likely that we will receive a phone call for information and comment.

We have had a degree of success with radio and television broadcasting. This is particularly difficult to get into. Initially, we continually phoned one of the producers of a high-profile television programme until eventually he asked to see us – I think just to get rid of us.

It turned out that he was moderately impressed with what we were able to offer. This led to a series of slots on primetime television. Since then, we have been involved in broadcasting with a number of television and radio stations. Some of the work is recorded and some is live.

If you intend going down this route, be prepared – what may start off as a recorded programme could possibly end up as live. If there is one thing that sets the adrenaline going, it is being told at the last minute the recording is running late so they are going to broadcast it live. There is no turning back. Just try and forget that umpteen million people are watching or listening to you. If you get it wrong, it will not go unnoticed.

When talking to a journalist, do not be afraid to speak out against products and companies, even if you risk upsetting what had until then been a long-standing and excellent working relationship. If you have a view, express it.

Before even contemplating getting involved with the press or broadcast media, make sure your business is set up in such a way that you are always available and can be interrupted even if you are with, for example, an important client. Be prepared to be phoned at home in the evening or at weekends.

Have the necessary back-up to research any points that a journalist may throw at you. Remember that journalists work to strict deadlines. If they ask you a question, they expect an answer there and then or, at worst, within five or 10 minutes. It is no good saying to a journalist:”I will talk to you tomorrow.” This will be too late.

If this all seems rather daunting – it is. However, investing your time and money in marketing your company will pay dividends in the long term. But if you get wrong, there is no going back.

COLIN JACKSON director,

Baronworth(Investment Services)

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