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The Old Barn opens its doors to small businesses

Blog post   •   Aug 02, 2013 17:14 BST

Workshop diary by Karen Waugh and Guy Bellamy

During June and July we ran two free PR days for small businesses from our new offices. Since the launch of elephant communications, this has been an integral part of our community investment programme.  During each of our free advice days, we meet vibrant small and start-up businesses, their owners passionate about living a dream and full of ideas and determination. Set against this, all too often the people we meet have little idea about how they can use PR to promote their ventures cost- effectively. The very business sector that should be making the most of low-cost promotional tools, perhaps as an alternative to expensive advertising or marketing, seems to use it the least. During our small business advice days, we give our time freely to share some simple PR tips and ideas with small business owners on how they could achieve good results, maximise news appeal and consider how they work available media channels in an integrated fashion.

From recruitment to jewellery, online shopping to music mail order, we met with six businesses over the two days.

Classic Purpose: During a fascinating afternoon with Liz from Colchester Classics, we discussed the music buying habits of classical music fans. What made Liz’s business special was the in-depth knowledge and service experience that her team provide to clients, plus her ability to connect with local arts events. Liz has employed some tactics that might more commonly be employed by national brands in her local market. In addition to an engaging survey, she has secured a regular column in her local paper and this is tying this in with an exciting membership model that gives her business and her PR greater allure. A rethink of social media moved attention away from broadcasting to engaging, listening and community building.

Trunk call: One year since we first met, Cath Adam returned to us for a second PR session. She has evolved a bespoke silver jewellery business that has really taken off.  When Cath decided to leave British Airways after 25 years to begin her journey to become a silver smith, something she had enjoyed previously as a hobby, we understood how hard her first year was going to be. Cath has not looked back though. She has made strong market connections, has re-designed her website and optimized social media opportunities and run competitions on her Cath Adam Facebook page. She has also gained an international commission to decorate a bespoke silver elephant statue for one of Elephant Parade’s future public art expositions.

Our free small business advice days return this autumn. During the nest session, we will also be sharing new elephant research on social and mobile media. With the team now in double figures the whole team will be available for the next small advice day, meaning we can give help to more small businesses in a day.