Why traditional PR skills are still important in our digital age

Why traditional PR skills are still important in our digital age

You cannot help but notice it, the word “Digital” is increasingly becoming a prefix to “PR”, and as the scale and disruptive reach of social media and digital marketing channels grow and grow I am often asked if traditional PR skills are still important?   I think they are - both for internal teams and also for agencies.

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How to bridge the leadership gap

How to bridge the leadership gap

A guest post by Andy Radka of Creative Partners innovation and enterprise ltd.

Which gap exactly?  The gap between knowing what leading is all about, and putting this into practice!  This is the critical space we need to work in to find ways to bridge the ‘knowing – doing gap’ which can plague both individuals and organisations seeking to strengthen their leadership capability.

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Time to fathom the depths

Time to fathom the depths

Is it just me, being one of the last of the baby-boomers?  Am I just out-dated at my age in this age?   Or, is anyone else worried by the lack of depth around the serious and important topics, projects, and themes in our work lives, and indeed in wider society?  Don’t we all need to spend more time to do things properly?

I have just watched on TV the crew of a high-speed RNLI lifeboat slow down to almost a stop to take depth soundings as they enter a narrow and dangerous cove.  Yes, their mission is urgent, but unless they stop to fathom the depth their urgent mission itself is in jeopardy.  This got me thinking: how little time is spent fathoming the depths of complex and challenging business changes before we speed ahead at full throttle.

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Consultants and Culture - 19 July in Hull

Six of the best from Hull’s refurbished Ferens Art Gallery

With the next face-to-face meeting of the Yorkshire Mafia Independent Consultants and Freelancers / Consult Yorkshire taking place in Hull, UK City of Culture 2017, I think it is incumbent on us to plan to take in a bit of culture.  And as we are meeting in the the Ferens Art Gallery, we should take advantage of some of the superb art that will be, both literally and figuratively, on our doorstep.

I came across this Yorkshire Post article that should prove useful, suggesting six art works on display at the Ferens.

And one of my own ...

Personally, I am also planning to take in Elizabeth Thompson's The Return From Inkerman.

All Yorkshire based Independent Consultants and Freelancers welcome - hope to see you there: 09:45 on Wednesday 19 July.

3 reasons you shouldn't visit our monthly networking meetings

3 reasons you shouldn't visit our monthly networking meetings

People often post on Linkedin asking for recommendations for networking groups to attend so they can increase the number of people in their community, and hopefully their chances of finding new clients. But I don’t recommend the monthly networking session that I have attended for over five years and here I’ll explain why I don’t think it’s for everyone…

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Are you ready for 1 April 2017 changes to the VAT Flat Rate Scheme?

Are you ready for 1 April 2017 changes to the VAT Flat Rate Scheme?

For many of us running small and micro-businesses, HMRC’s VAT Flat Rate Scheme (FRS) has provided a helpful, simplified means of calculating and submitting our VAT returns and dues.  For those with modest input costs to our business, there can even been a small tax advantage when using the scheme.  However, this situation is changing from 1 April 2017, with new rules for “limited cost traders” as HMRC seeks to tackle “aggressive abuse” of the FRS.

If you are, or think you might be a limited cost trader, you need to get yourself prepared for the imminent change.

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Bank of England Seminar

On 7th June Consult Yorkshire hosted a fantastic seminar on behalf of the Bank of England. An audience of around 30 SMEs from the Yorkshire area gathered to hear Juliette Healey, the Bank’s Regional Representative for Yorkshire, talk about what was happening in the economy.

 Juliette Healey presenting the Bank's outlook

Juliette Healey presenting the Bank's outlook

Normally numbers, facts and graphs would be a guaranteed way to put an audience to sleep, but in this case it was the exact opposite. The information presented was utterly fascinating and totally relevant to the issues of smaller businesses, and Julliette’s clear and detailed delivery maintained the audience’s rapt attention.

A survey of those attending confirms this - 100% of those attending found the event informative, and 100% found the networking before the event useful. If anything the feeling was that it would have been even better with more time for Q&A. Attendees would clearly like to come to a similar event in the future, with a particular emphasis on information about the Northern Powerhouse, specifics on the Yorkshire & Humberside economy, and sustainability.

 Questions from the audience

Questions from the audience

The event was kindly hosted by St Philips Chambers of 41 Park Square, Leeds, who provided an outstanding venue in the centre of Leeds and a tasty breakfast for everyone who had had to set off early to get there

Google AdWords News

Google recently announced some significant changes to AdWords which are coming this year. It’s time to get ready for them right now.

New Text Ads

Google recently changed where the text ads display on the search page. There used to be three at the top of the page and then ten down the right hand side. The ten down the side disappeared, to be replaced with 3-4 at the top and the rest at the bottom.

The reason for that change is now clear. There wouldn’t have been room at in the right hand column for longer text ads. In addition, the change made the search results more mobile friendly.

Going forward, test ads will have two 30-character titles (up from one 25-character title), one 80-character description (up from two 35-character lines) and a longer display URL.

So it will change from:

To this:

Local Search Ads in Google Maps

Businesses will be able to show their logos on the search screen as points on the map, and will be able to include relevant ads and offers.

 Image Source: Google Blog

Image Source: Google Blog

Responsive Display Ads

More and more searches are being done on mobile (hence the changes to the text ads), and Google has made display ads for mobile fully responsive. No longer will you have to create a whole range of different ad shapes for different places where they might be shown, now you just supply headlines, a description, an image and a URL and Google does the rest.

 Image Source: Google Blog

Image Source: Google Blog

Mobile Device Bidding

Again, because of the importance of mobile, Google has change the bidding defaults. It used to be that you set a bid for desktop devices and varied it for mobile and tablet; now you can set them independently, or can nominate a different default to desktop and vary the others compared to that default.

For more detailed information please visit http://www.insight-bp.co.uk/blog/

Management Recruitment – The five most costly mistakes organisations make

At next month’s Leeds Business Week event I will reveal the five most costly mistakes organisations frequently make when they are looking to recruit at senior management or Director level.  This is based upon his career success as a headhunter stretching back over 25 years working with leading business organisations in the private, public and not for profit sectors.

Come along to make sure that when you next recruit you recruit an exceptional leader helping to make your business exceptional.

How To Increase Your Prices

Leeds Business Week is an extraordinary opportunity to immerse yourself in a wide variety of learning opportunities, and Consult Yorkshire is delighted to be participating again.

One of the things you can discover is how to charge a higher price for your product or service. Let’s face it, every business would like to be able to increase prices and make more profit, but it always seems so hard. When you talk to your customers the first thing they mention is price, and everyone wants a discount, so your prices are always under pressure.

Help is at hand.

It might seem that the only thing your customers worry about is a lower price. In fact, there are a number of psychological factors that customers, whether business or consumer, use to decide whether to pay a particular price. These factors aren’t complicated and they lead to pricing ideas which are easy to implement at little cost, and which can make an immediate difference to your bottom line.

Want to find out more? Then come along on the 14th October and get three new ideas to increase your prices.

Leeds Business Week is back! And so are we!


“Leeds Business week is all about bringing people together across the city and beyond to share best practice, gather together to build better business relationships and benefit from each other’s expertise. We have a strong partnership with Leeds City council and we will be working closely together to develop Leeds Business Week 2015.”
Chairman of Yorkshire Mafia, Geoff Shepherd

As part of this year’s Leeds Business Week programme, Consult Yorkshire is running an advice surgery with a handful of presentations aimed at small business owners and independent consultants/advisors – FOC for 1 day only.

“How to make your business exceptional”
Wednesday 14 October 2015 8.30am – 12.30pm
at Solutions West Yorkshire, 14 King Street,  Leeds, LS1 2HL

If you are seeking support, guidance or simply advice, no matter what your market or experience, our high calibre, Yorkshire-based, independent consultants, managers and interims will be able to help. With 100s of years of experience in just about every market sector and discipline, we enjoy helping everyone from a one-man start-up through to multi-million pound enterprises to maximise their potential.

The 8.30-11.30am session will combine specialist presentations jam-packed with practical tips aimed at small business owners and advisors with 1-2-1 surgeries such as interim management, marketing, PR and social media, training & development and IT/telecoms.

The business surgery will be followed by a Consult Yorkshire networking lunch 11.45am-12.30pm aimed at independent consultants interested in joining our growing network to benefit from collaboration and connection with some of Yorkshire’s finest professionals!

We do hope you can join us.

Speakers announced: How to make your business exceptional

Advice surgery for small business owners and independent consultants

Tip-filled morning session designed to give you ideas and inspiration to take away and implement in your business to start making a difference straight away!

Presentations include:

David Abbott: How to price your platypus

Higher prices mean higher profits. But how do you get a higher price for your product or service? There are a number of psychological factors that influence how customers make decisions, especially with regard to pricing. You will find out how customers decide on a price, learn how this applies to business customers as much as consumers, and then discover three low-cost and easy to implement ways to get a higher price for whatever you do.

“Thoroughly interesting, thought-provoking content with fascinating examples and an engaging pace. Quite simply one of the most useful presentations I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience. Will book again.”Chris Bulmer, Group IT Director, Regatta & Craghoppers

Gail Radka: Understanding and improving your emotional intelligence

Have you heard people talking about Emotional Intelligence, do you know what it is, do you know how to improve your emotional intelligence (EI)? Business Leaders need to be excellent at engaging with their people, their customers and suppliers. EI can help you improve your leadership and relationship building. Gail will help you understand the basics and how you can develop your EI further. There will be  practical take away tips and tools from the session.

“Gail has worked with our organisation over a period of years delivering high quality leadership master classes. Gail has also led an organisational wide piece of work for the Trust helping us to review our organisational values. Gail is professional, knowledgeable and we couldn’t have achieved what we have without her expert input.” Steve Ned, Director of Human Resources at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust

Guy Newton: Management recruitment: The five most costly mistakes organisations make

Guy will reveal the five most costly mistakes organisations frequently make when they are looking to recruit at senior management or Director level.  This is based upon his career success as a headhunter stretching back over 25 years working with leading business organisations in the private, public and not for profit sectors.
More importantly, he will suggest practical steps you can implement on behalf of your organisation to avoid these costly mistakes.

Guy will share his experience so that when you next recruit you will recruit an exceptional leader helping to make your business exceptional.

Helen Kitchen: 3 ways to stand out from the crowd using social media

Are you bored of the whole social media scene? Even worse, is your social media activity boring? Revitalise your approach to tweeting with an injection of creativity from this session to help you develop content which will make you and your business stand out – with immediate results!  Experienced PR consultant Helen Kitchen manages social media activity for organisations in the B2B and B2C sectors and has a wealth of experience of campaigns aimed at raising brand awareness, driving website traffic and positioning businesses at the cutting edge of innovation. Come and find out what she thinks really works when it comes to being exceptional online!

“Helen came to instruct my students, many of whom would be setting up as self-employed for the first time, on the use of social media to promote themselves on line. She’d done some considerable research and the talk was oriented to the very specific needs of our industry. Her talk was clear, concise, easy to follow and pitched exactly right for a group with varying knowledge and experience of the topic.” Debbie Waller, Yorkshire Hypnotherapy
Peter Cowey: Transforming knowledge into money; steps to help make innovation work for your business

Putting an innovation programme in place can recharge your firm’s competitive position and growth potential.  The starting point is to harness your team’s knowhow, then stimulate and transform that knowledge into new revenue.  Peter will take you through practical steps to make innovation work for your business and reach this goal.

Peter leads Resurgent Growth Ltd an innovation services business.  His career has focused upon management and marketing for firms local and global across a range of sectors including; specialty chemicals [uses in textiles, plastics, cleaners & sanitizers], food, drink, and confectionery, coatings [conveyor & drive belts] and logistics. As an intrapreneur he has developed, managed business and created new ventures and with benefit of a recent MBA from Bradford University School of Management offers the combination of strategic insight and vision with the latest thinking and techniques to help your firm identify opportunities, stimulate innovation and translate into resurgent growth.

Six Tips to Grow Your Business By Acquisition

Business growth by acquiring another business is set to become more popular and prevalent as the UK moves (gradually) away from one of the deepest economic recessions in our history. The potential business benefits are obvious to many of us and include new revenue streams, scale efficiencies, stronger market presence and an expansion of your customer / client base.

But beware some common pitfalls and the phrase “look before your leap” should be uppermost in your mind. The Corpex Group offers six suggestions to help you make a successful business acquisition.

1. Establish a robust pre-acquisition strategy
Know your purpose for considering a potential acquisition. You need a well thought out and clear rationale for what can become a time consuming and costly exercise. It is better not to buy than acquire the wrong company. Research potential target organisations and do not limit your target list to those companies that are for sale or “on the market”.

2. Nothing ventured, nothing gained
Do not make assumptions such as “they are too big for us!” or “they would never sell”. Be bold; remember it costs you nothing to approach a business organisation. Approaching is simple – track down the key decision maker, often an owner, the Chairman or the CEO – and drop them a line. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Remember to think beyond your direct competitors – you should seek out and consider complimentary businesses that could potentially add strategic value e.g. moving into new markets, gaining an excellent supply chain or acquiring new people, products or systems.

3. Focus on strategic value rather than your funding budget
Do not start with how much funding you think you can raise and direct your forward moves as a result. Instead, focus on the potential value added to your business by making the acquisition and leave the question of “can we afford it?” (important though it will become), to later. Do not be tempted by “bargain targets” – a wrong acquisition, even at a bargain price, is still a wrong acquisition. When you return to the funding question, do remember there are many ways and methods of funding an acquisition such as balance sheet cash accruals, earn-outs, shares and share options.

4. Invest time and money on due diligence
Due diligence is not the place or time to cut corners or try to save money. Comprehensive due diligence is an absolute must for any business acquisition. It is the only way to assess if what you are proposing to buy is what has been described to you. Let the buyer beware! Consider outsourcing these tasks to specialists e.g. lawyers or an organisation such as The Corpex Group to conduct a structured assessment of the Leadership Team – individually and collectively.

5. Recognise that change will happen
An acquisition can take between 9 and 18 months from conception to completion, and change will happen during this process. Attitudes of key decision makers can, and often do, change – for better or worse. Target companies engaged in acquisition talks often “drift” i.e. profits or customers can decline whilst senior management take their eye off the ball. Key staff or supplier contracts may be lost. Stay closely tuned to such changes and remember you have choices. You can walk away, carry on as planned or revise the purchase price in light of such changes.

6. Establish a realistic post-acquisition strategy
Do understand that as “new owners” you may not be universally welcomed by staff, customers or suppliers involved with the acquired business. Have a realistic plan of action including communication and integration to quickly win the hearts and minds of all concerned. Combat post acquisition tension and uncertainty with honest, clear and realistic communication plans.