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Five years of Gem PR & Media

Five years of Gem PR & Media

It's been a long time since I posted, it's been a busy few months. It's also five years since I launched Gem PR & Media from our dining room table in Guernsey. And sure, we have 250 #FiveYears of #LipSmackingService Serious Lip Balms to gift to our friends, family, and clients (let me know if you’d like one and I’ll make sure it happens), but I also wanted to share a few thoughts with you.

It’s been vital to our survival that we love what we do. That’s what it comes down to. If money is more important than doing what you love that’s ok too. But for small business owners, we do it because it’s what we're meant to do. 

Celebrate the good times. Do not dwell on the bad times, they will pass, and you will get through. If you mess up admit it, apologize, and move on. Know that if something isn’t your fault, and you did a good job, you can’t win them all. 

Listen to advice from your peers. Not all advice is good, but in time you will discover those whose advice is invaluable. 

Stay true to yourself. That gut feeling has always been a strong indicator for me. If I feel something is off it usually is. 

Do good. As a business owner, you have the power to leave this place in better shape than when you found it. Give your time wisely and use it for good.  

If you can’t stand up for your industry then help make it be a better one. Lead by example. It’s ok if others follow I genuinely believe that.

Go the extra mile for your clients it will make all the difference. 

Finally, recognize your accomplishments and those that have helped you along the way.

So thank you to everyone that has supported us over the years we appreciate it, we really do! 

Writing award entries

Writing award entries

It’s that time of year when we sit with our clients and recommend a list of awards they should enter some local, some statewide, and others that are national. Our experience and some research mean we are able to identify award opportunities that will not only suit them best, in terms of their business development goals, but we genuinely believe they have a chance of winning.

 
In the past, I’ve talked about the importance of award entries in building brand awareness, but I haven’t talked about how to write an award entry, which I will do now. 

First, you must identify which awards suit you, and your goals, best. If you want to build your brand in the community perhaps you need to look at a volunteer award. If it’s the community you want to relate to you must focus on local opportunities. If you want to demonstrate your capabilities then you’ll want to enter a business award, such as the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce awards, for example. Perhaps you want to gain recognition for something more specific to your industry. If that’s the case you may need to look to an association. We have a number of female clients who have not only excelled as entrepreneurs – there are plenty of award opportunities here too. 

Once you’ve identified the award to enter you need to read over the criteria. Can you fulfill all of the criteria? Will you stand out against others in the same category? If so, you can begin drafting your responses. If you don’t meet the criteria, work out what it is you need to do in order to meet the requirements of the award entry and work towards this over the next year. 

I always start by copying and pasting all of the questions into a word document. Often, these awards are entered online so it’s a good idea to create a draft in case the site crashes. It’s also a great reference point for future entries. 

Make sure you have all the salient details correct, such as contact numbers, email address, names etc. When responding to a question I like to highlight the words that explain what the judges are looking for. That way I can refer back to make sure I’m answering the questions.  
I always try to write award entries in the first person. This demonstrates the relationship between the nominator and the nominee. It is a much stronger entry if the judge believes he or she is reading the words of the person who has nominated the nominee.

 
If you’re entering your business for an award, opposed to an individual, you need to write passionately about your business. As in all good stories, especially if the entry form calls for it, start at the beginning, work through the crux of the business, and talk about your future goals. 
If the entry asks for additional documents, in support of the nomination, choose wisely – don’t send too much that you’ll drown out the reasons for the nomination. 
Proof your responses, errors are frustrating for judges who must read multiple entries and, if you’re entering an award for your business, appear unprofessional. Don’t waffle; get to the point. Have another member of staff review the entry; there may be something you have forgotten, which is crucial. 


Finally, make sure you make yourself available to the judges if there are any further questions.  

Experience speaks volumes in our opinion

Experience speaks volumes in our opinion

Lead by our CEO, who has not one, but two degrees in Journalism, a diploma from the Press Association and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, one of the largest bodies representing public Relations professionals in the world, our team has worked in marketing, PR, and media roles around the world.

Together we have worked on political campaigns, helped bring companies back from the brink, and won numerous awards for our clients. We believe in creating and delivering a strategy tailored to each client and their business’ individual needs.   

So, next time you hear or see that someone ‘does’ PR, social media, or marketing ask what it is exactly that they do. Don’t be shy about asking for examples of their work.

Ask to speak with clients to find out if they had a good experience. Do clients feel they have achieved a return on investment? And, with that in mind, did the consultancy meet the objectives set at the beginning of the campaign?

For the team at Gem PR & Media, it’s about putting into practice the skills we’ve learned, the knowledge we’ve gained and the experience that sets us apart from all others that say they are experts or visionaries in the field.

Internal communications

Internal communications

I would strongly argue that internal communication is just as important, if not more important, than external comms. Your people are your brand. They are the ambassadors for your company. If you want to develop a great reputation and relationship with your stakeholders you must first address the way you communicate with your team. 

There are a number of ways of you can improve your internal comms. One is simply to communicate clearly with your staff. Make sure they understand all policies and procedures. Ensure there is two-way communication – do your staff have someone they can go to at any time to discuss questions they have? Do you keep your staff updated with the latest information about your business, whether that’s the opening of a new branch, the recruitment of additional staff, or a new bonus scheme? How do you keep your staff updated? Do you have regular meetings? By regular meetings, I mean more than once a month. Do you have an internal newsletter or blog where you can share the success of staff members – inside and out of the workplace? Do you recognize when someone you employ reaches a milestone – say their fifth year of employment? Do you have an employee of the month program or an internal awards process? 

If you develop clear communication with your staff when the going is good you’ll have a much easier time when things get tough. If you’re unlucky enough to experience a crisis the first person you should tell is your public relations consultant and the first thing they will tell you is to inform all staff so that everyone is on the same page. In my experience, if you are going through the closure of a division of your business or redundancies an open line of communication with those involved will prevent rumors and upset from the outset. 

If you don’t have an internal comms plan then I highly recommend that you speak with your public relations team about creating and enacting one. Happy staff mean happy clients and a better bottom line. 

Welcome to 2017!

Welcome to 2017!

After the Holidays, as is often the case, many of us are thinking about the year ahead; job satisfaction, work life balance and bottom lines. I know that’s something always at the top of my agenda come each January. It’s months since I sat down with Chris, my husband, and business partner, and we wrote our business plan for the year, but now is the time to put it into action. 

As well as setting budgets and targets for the 12 months ahead I also use this time to reflect on the professional relationships I’ve built over the past year or so and begin to make a list of those I can reach out to for a catch-up, coffee, or glass of wine. This takes time and patience, but if you do it right and with enthusiasm the results can be rather pleasing. What you have to remember is that everyone else, or those on the ball, is doing the same. Many have already set their budgets and targets but may have scope for growth if you can prove your worth. 

Last year I reached out to more than 25 connections I’d made over the previous 12 months, met for coffee, shared a lunch and networked like there was no tomorrow. It paid off. In a matter of months our business here, and in Europe, grew as a result. Hence, we’ll be doing the same this year. I’m not saying you need to be the world’s greatest salesperson because that’s not what it’s about. It’s about offering a service that helps increase that person’s/company’s bottom-line – in the world of public relations anyway. Our goal is to build brand awareness, create a positive relationship between the client and their stakeholders and, ultimately, grow profits. 

If any of this sounds like a good plan to you feel free to get in touch with the team – we’re here to help! 

What a year!

What a year!

Like I’ve said before, it’s important to celebrate the wins in this competitive world of public relations and media. So, now’s the time to recap on the year and celebrate all the good stuff! 

Our business has doubled in size in the past 12 months! We are working with clients in Springfield, IL, St Louis, MO, Guernsey and Jersey (the Channel Islands, Europe). Our portfolio of clients is rich and diverse. We’ve worked on state projects. We have worked with politicians. We are involved in a number of non-profits, civic and networking organizations. We sit, and advise, on several boards. We have opened our US headquarters in Springfield. We have welcomed two new faces to the team and we have launched our free, online, lifestyle magazine – Eighteen21.com

But what is most important is the recognition, awareness and revenue growth we have achieved for our clients. Several have been shortlisted and won awards. Others have appeared in a range of publications from The State Journal-Register to Guernsey’s Chamber of Commerce magazine, Contact, and on TV from Good Day Marketplace Illinois with host Melanie Streeper to Fox 32’s Good Day Chicago with former Springfield native Natalie Bomke. We’ve seen their businesses grow and as a result the need to increase staff numbers and move into large offices or workshops. 

It’s been a great year and we cannot wait to see what 2017 brings.  Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Journalism versus public relations

Journalism versus public relations

I feel like I can talk about this topic honestly and openly because I’ve sat on both sides of the fence. Having trained and worked as a journalist in the UK, Channel Islands, and Australia and as a public relations consultant in Europe and the USA I believe I have a unique perspective on the matter. 

I can tell you now that not all journalists dislike public relations consultants and not all public relations consultants dislike journalists. I think, for those who have crossed over to the ‘dark side,’ we have a different point of view because we’ve experienced the riggers of being a journalist and the frustrations of working in public relations. 

As a news editor, I had, even more, respect for good public relations consultants and companies out there, dare I say it, at times I even relied on them to help fill the paper. I fondly recall, and he knows who he is, exchanging calls with a PR chap (who’s gone on to do great things by the way) about the state of my basket (usually on a Friday at 3pm while I was putting to bed Saturday’s paper, planning Monday’s and worrying about Tuesday’s edition) was it full, room for improvement, or empty. On the other side of the coin I once heard a PR colleague or mine say (following a presentation by an economist) ‘well, if he (the journalist) can write a story so can I,’ I hasten to add that she struggled, mostly because she didn’t have shorthand or a Dictaphone so missed chunks of information. This is what I’m talking about when it comes to respect for the other team. Journalists are trained to extract the salient details of a story, report accurately, and interpret information even a seven-year-old can understand. I loved being a journalist – I love the newspaper industry – it’s where I learned my trade and I put a lot of the success we have now at Gem PR & Media down to the fact I was taught by some of the best journalists I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. When I was news editor (and if you’re a West Wing fan you’ll know what I’m talking about) I had a post-it note on my computer and it read ‘WWJD’ – short for ‘what would X do’ J will remain unnamed. And, for the first year in the job I often got calls from J challenging my editorial decisions and pushing me to look at the newspaper I’d helped produce with fresh eyes – for this, I am truly thankful. One of my best friends crossed over from the dark side to the newspaper world and still, today, I hear her voice giving me advice when it comes to making decisions about my clients because she too understands the relationship between PR and journalism. 

From a PR perspective, I think my best advice is to always go with your gut – if it doesn’t feel right then trust your instincts. It’s also the way you can justify your decisions. Experience counts for a lot. I’ve made some mistakes, the kind that causes sleepless nights, but I’ve always come away thankful for the experience and the knowledge I’ve gained to better serve my clients. 
At the end of the day if you can build great relationships with the media, show respect for their work, and confidently provide good quality content you’ll do ok! 

Election 2016

Election 2016

It’s Election Day 2016 and although I can’t vote in the national election yet, I’ve had a busy morning liaising with various UK media outlets. As a former journalist and UK/Guernsey resident people back home are interested in how the last weeks, days, and hours of this election have played out from someone on the ground.  American elections are local with global implications.  

I’ve been honest about where I stand and my impression of the race so far. I’ve given my thoughts to my old paper, The Guernsey Press, and I’ll be up early tomorrow to do an interview with BBC Radio Guernsey. 

I’ve always enjoyed providing commentary, in a way that’s what I do each week with this blog, so I’m pleased to be asked and to contribute in a small way to raising awareness of the democratic system.  I’ve also been lucky enough to be involved with a few political campaigns since my arrival in the US.  

Whatever happens tomorrow it’ll be an interesting few weeks to follow. Locally, in Springfield, I think little will change for some time – our economy is stable, despite the continued political impasse. Our clients seem pretty confident that their business models are robust enough to weather the storm – and we know ours is! 

PechaKucha!

PechaKucha!

On Thursday evening I took part in Springfield’s 20th volume of PechaKucha 20 x 20. PechaKucha involves a simple presentation format where you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. 

PechaKuchaNightSpringfieldIL.JPG

It was created by two architects in Tokyo in 2003 because architects (according to the organizers) talk too much. The idea is, that if you give someone just 20 slides and 20 seconds to talk about each slide they will be forced to present in a comprehensive, but succinct fashion.

So, I had a go. My topics was, of course, Guernsey. In the US the easiest way to explain Guernsey’s location is ‘a British island, near France’ so that was the title of my presentation. 

 Castle Cornet and a cruise Ship

Castle Cornet and a cruise Ship

I want to say a massive thank you to Guernsey photographer Chris George who supplied us with high resolution images and to my pal Zoe Ash of Visit Guernsey. I talked about our beautiful island, its rich history and the part it plays in the finance world. 

I’m telling you all this because wouldn't it be something to have a PechaKucha night in Guernsey or Jersey? It’s a great opportunity to promote your business or interests in front of a group of people from all walks of life. At Gem PR & Media we’re always looking for PR opportunities for our clients and we aim to lead by example. So, Guernsey, Jersey let us know if you would like more information about PechaKucha. 

 Gemma discussing Guernsey Cows

Gemma discussing Guernsey Cows

Social Media Top Tips

  • Post at five minutes to and five minutes after the hour. This is when people are checking their phones for emails and updates on their way to and from meetings, the office, lunch or home. 
  • If you are having trouble tagging a person or business in a Facebook post use the @ symbol and a capital letter at the beginning of the name. 
  • Use hashtags to increase the profile of your social media activity; especially when you’re mentioning trending topics. 
  • Add videos, photos and links to your posts to increase their visibility.
  • Post regularly, but make sure you’re posting material that is relevant to your target audience. 
  • If you’re pursuing an aggressive campaign post four-to-five times a day on Facebook. 
  • If you want all of your followers to read your tweet make sure you place a character ahead of a @username otherwise the post will go to the @username only. 
  • Make sure you regularly update your profile on Linkedin and make new connections. 
  • Support your fellow followers on Twitter by participating in #FollowFriday/#FF. This will also encourage others to include you in #FFs and attract new followers. 
  • Engage with Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram users; social media is about two-way interaction. 
  • If you receive a complaint on social media deal with it promptly by acknowledging and, if necessary, taking the conversation offline in order to resolve the matter. 

A day in the life of Gem PR & Media

Part of what we do at the consultancy is write for and on behalf of our clients from columns to Q&As and features to news stories. A feature that often crops up amongst the business media is a version of ‘my 9 to 5’ or ‘all in a day’s work’. So, I thought I’d write my version in this week’s blog. 

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at work? 

GemPR&Media.jpg

Well, I start work at 5am so the first thing I do is boil the kettle! While I’m waiting I logon to my computer and open my email, Facebook page and time sheets. More often than not I’ve already checked my emails and social media accounts on my cell, before I get to the computer. Once I’ve got my coffee I proceed with my tasks for the day, making my UK clients a priority, before those in the US reach their desks. 

Suit or casual?

Casual until I liaise with a client on Skype or I have a meeting, then it’s smart. 

Clear desk policy or scattered papers?

To be honest, we try to stay paperless, other than printing documents for clients, we stick to our white board, emails, Skype and the good old phone. My desk normally needs a tidy every so often though as I do have a weakness for post-its! 

Coffee or tea?

Always coffee, but I am trying to drink more water (my health industry clients would be proud)! 

Packed lunch, restaurant or gym? 

I tend to skip lunch because I ordinarily have a late breakfast between 9am and 11am

When are you at your most productive? 

I am definitely a morning person; I get the majority of my work done between 5am and 12noon. I try to arrange meetings on a single day or after 10am or 11am when my UK and Channel Islands clients have finished for the day. 

How many emails do you have in your inbox? 

 I don’t tend to file emails so I literally have 1,000s which have accumulated since day one on August 29 2013! 

What’s the last thing you do before you leave the office? 

I never really leave the office as I work from my laptop and phone often. In fact I think it’s important that my clients know they can get hold of me 365 days a year 24/7, I’d want that if I was entrusting my business’ reputation in someone else's hands.

Me. University. Media.

 Dannie Jones

Dannie Jones

Dannie Jones first interned with Gem PR & Media in Easter 2014 – since then she’s provided support with social media campaigns and copywriting for various titles through our press service. Dannie has just completed her second year at university and is about to start a summer programme in Guernsey with Specsavers’ creative team. She took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to tell us what the last year has been like – while she’s thrown herself into media life (as well as hockey).

My Skype meeting with the new Loughborough Student Union’s Media senate just finished and so the task of writing up the minutes will soon be underway.

The senate consists of 10 members (of which I am one) whom run under the vice president of media. Loughborough students elect the vice presidents and president after a competitive campaigning period. Those elected make up the union executive team. They run our union; unique due to the fact the students actually own the premises.

And where do I fit in? In the academic year of 2014/15 I became the union magazine – Label – head of marketing. My application was spurred on by spending a month at Gem PR & Media. I had enjoyed my first year of university, living up to Loughborough’s sporting reputation and involving myself in the hockey team, but in second year I got stuck in with LSU media also.

Loughborough Student’s Media consists of four sections. LSUTV, LCR, Label and Lens. There are also hall media representatives that proudly showcase their campus living hall. There’s a chance for volunteers, like myself, to receive training with cameras and editing software. We’ve also made visits to the BBC and ITN. More than anything, there are plenty of opportunities; you could run your own radio show, write articles for the magazine, create television scripts or learn to take great photos and videos. 

#BackBoocla

#BackBoocla

We are really excited to be involved in a project, which today sees the launch of a new class booking web application on the world's largest crowdfunding platform!

Boocla is a clever online booking website for anyone who runs classes and courses. If you are an instructor, teacher, trainer or tutor, with Boocla you get a mobile-friendly website, amazing class booking system, free sub-domain, free hosting, and free business cards for under $240 a year.

Oi Labs, the innovation division of award-winning advertising and marketing agency, Oi, has created Boocla - an amazing class booking system for anyone who runs classes and courses. Boocla is ideal for individuals and small businesses around the world; from yoga, personal training, kickboxing to music, karate, cupcake decorating and any other class or course related activity. In order to raise funds to take the project further, and to create as much interest in Boocla as possible, the app is being launched on Kickstarter.

Oi Labs has a target of $25,000 over the next 30 days and Gem PR & Media has been invited to tell the whole world about Boocla!

We’ve been busy writing articles, blogs, press releases, social media content and brainstorming ideas to attract attention to Boocla. If you’re a journalist, media outlet, blogger or vlogger we have everything you need at the touch of a button.

We’ll keep you updated with this exciting campaign, but in the meantime if you want to #BackBoocla visit KICKSTARTER PAGE or www.boocla.com to download user friendly material for your articles, interviews, vlogs or blogs! 

The rapid pace at which Gem PR & Media is growing is down to one thing: contacts.

We work hard to build a strong network of contacts around the globe. It’s not a coincidence that we’ve lived in three continents in 10 years. Training and working as a journalist in Guernsey, the UK, and Australia and now also living in and writing for publications in the US, it’s hard not to build relationships and connections with the public and media.

Gem PR & Media is, and those that represent our company are, a member of several organizations, which allow us to connect with individuals from all walks of life. I am a member of, and have been for years, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, I’m also a Rotarian, a Jaycee, attend weekly BNI meetings and I’m involved in a number of other charitable organizations. Chris and I often volunteer at charity fundraisers in order to give back to the communities in which we operate and strengthen our existing connections.

The other important thing to remember is, once you’ve made a connection, to remain connected. Friends, family and colleagues will tell you that I make a real effort to keep in touch either through letters and cards, emails and texts, Facebook and Twitter or Skype and calls. I work in the media and communications industry so it comes natural to me that I want to be in constant communication with my personal and professional network. What’s also important is that, with having a business spread across two continents, I remain in front of people. I do this through the media: writing articles about the PR and media industry – and Gem PR & Media of course. I’m also active on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Once you build a strong network around you, it’ll only have room to grow. Organic growth is key. Warren Buffet said: ‘It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.’ Isn’t building a network about building a reputation? If you think about it that way you’ll really start to value the network around you and continue to grow it. 

Select a cause that resonates with the people in your organization

I've often told clients that corporate social responsibility (CSR) should be an important part in their public relations strategy. Giving back to the communities in which they operate portrays a sense of belonging, understanding of the needs of their employees and a willingness to provide support through funding or volunteering. What's important is that your CSR activity, is not only part of your PR strategy, but also aligns with your business objectives. What I mean by that is to choose a charity, organization, school or non-profit that can successfully utilize the skills and expertise of you and your employees. 

These days writing a check simply isn't enough. You need to select a cause that resonates with the people in your organization and one that fits the ethos of your business. We have supported Young People Guernsey and the Youth Commission in their public and media relations in Guernsey by gaining YPG exposure in The Guernsey Press and by providing PR strategy advice to the YC. More recently we’ve joined the Junior Chamber of Commerce, Jaycees, in Springfield, IL, USA. This is an international organization, with community links around the world. The Jaycees also provides the US-based directors of Gem PR & Media the opportunity to network with like-minded professionals in the city. We have volunteered at events in Springfield and Peoria. We also manage the Springfield Jaycees social media accounts; a true specialism of our business with a growing number of clients in the US, UK, Guernsey and Jersey. 

We also  support a number of charities through our international press service. We often approach publications with story ideas, which are focussed on organizations that we feel passionate about. Since launching the consultancy, almost two years ago we have negotiated coverage and written articles for The Priaulx Premature Baby Foundation, The Saumarez Park Playground Appeal and the Cochlear Implant Awareness Foundation to name a few.