Daniel KennedyConsidering the sheer number of ways in which people communicate today you could be forgiven for thinking that the power of PR had diminished. But according to Daniel Kennedy of Source Marketing, you’d be wrong.

“Good PR is as valuable today as it’s ever been. Yes, the channels through which the industry communicates may well have altered (who would ever have thought you’d be Tweeting your latest product news?), and the manner in which people digest their news may have morphed from one into a myriad of different ways, but the basic principles are still the same – communicate your story to your target market in a way that will generate interest in your company and its products and services.

Back in 2001 when Source Marketing was formed press releases were still posted out; colour separation charges still meant something; and the telephone was very much the chosen form of client and journalist communication. Twelve years down the line and the envelopes in our Leeds office have all but lost their stickiness; a lot of the people selling colour seps probably have no concept of what the colour separation process was; and e-mail seems to have usurped the spoken word as the primary form of communication.

But despite these changes, the fundamental process of what we do is the same. And while some may question the need for writing press releases, technical articles and case studies it’s clear that in the electrical industry, as with many of the more technical industries, it is this form of communication that still serves the best purpose.

One of the key arguments for this point of view has to be the thriving trade journal sector in the UK. At a time when local and regional newspapers are really feeling the pinch, demand for industry news is such that the electrical industry alone continues to support a significant number of different, and often competing, titles – a feat made all the more astonishing when you consider what the economic turmoil of the last few years has done to marketing budgets.

Proof of the pudding, as we keep on being told, is in the eating, and one of my favourite examples of the power of PR comes from Ellis – the Yorkshire-based cable cleat manufacturer we’ve represented for the last five years.

Richard ShawMD Richard Shaw was in Hong Kong for a new business meeting with Hong Kong Power. To cut a very long story short, he entered the meeting with the intention of securing a not insignificant piece of business by highlighting the importance of properly tested cable cleats in electrical installations. Upon entering the meeting he was confronted by his own face beaming out of a magazine article lying open on the boardroom table – the subject of the article? The importance of properly tested cable cleats in electrical installations.

Looking back at the incident, Richard said: “I’ve always been a big advocate of the benefits of PR and this clearly showed how powerful a tool it can be when used correctly.”

Of course, not every press release and article is going to deliver message recognition in a boardroom on the other side of the world, but there is no escaping the fact that the first thing any potential customer will do before meeting with you or your sales team is do their research on the internet. And while no news always used to equate to good news, these days no news can reflect very badly on your business – especially when a search of your competitor throws up extensive coverage of its products, services and expertise.

And when you consider the content of most trade journals is easily accessible via the web to more or less anyone who cares to look for it, it’s vital that the content of what you say is well presented and well written.

There are a lot of PR agencies out there, ranging from the huge multinationals through to one man bands, and the vast majority of them are more than capable of doing an excellent job for any given client. Therefore choosing the right agency for your business isn’t an easy job, but as with recruiting personnel you need to find someone with the right experience who can work within the constraints of your budget – and the best place to start is the internet.

While researching this article I did a search for cable cleats and was delighted to see that the work we’ve done over the last five years for Ellis has resulted in MD Richard Shaw’s face smiling back at me as the face of cable cleats (Google image search).

We’ll leave the last word to Richard himself: “Source has achieved unprecedented levels of coverage for us in relevant technical journals and the press, and this has played a significant part in building the worldwide reputation of our business to the extent that we are now recognised as the world leader in our field.”

For more information call Daniel Kennedy at Source Marketing on 0113 380 1644 or visit Source Marketing