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Newsletter June 2014 Newsletter

Free Publicity
Pretty well every business needs publicity. We launched a new business venture recently (our Google Virtual Tours service – see below) and spent ages trying to think how we might attract as much attention as possible. One method we tried was to try and get some free publicity through the local press. Now bearing in mind how much it costs to advertise in the local newspaper, any kind of exposure would be well worthwhile. We studied the local papers to get a feel for what kind of features they ran and noticed that they regularly highlighted local businesses. I think where we scored well was that we wrote our own press release, supplied our own relevant photograph and basically made it as easy as possible for the newspaper concerned.

Our press release was sent ‘on spec’ with no prior contact but our local paper decided to use it. In the end, they ran a half page article complete with photograph. Again, you can imagine what we would have paid for an equivalent advert. And of course it worked well with lots of comments received by the public and this has undoubtedly impacted on the number of enquiries we received.

Of course this is something that can be applied to any business so its worth thinking about and having a go. When you write your press release, there are a few points to consider:

• Have a story to tell. May be you have a new service or a new product or perhaps you’re the first in your area to offer something unique.
• Organise your facts. The first paragraph should contact the who, where, why, when and how of the story.
• Make sure that the story is relevant to the readership of the publication you are aiming at.
• Use quotes -it adds a human touch. If you can quote someone who has used your product or service, it adds credibility too.
• Keep it short and to the point. Once you have written it, re-read it and then re-read it again and again with idea of editing out anything that is not utterly relevant. The result should be short and punchy.

Dogs Welcome?
If you want to increase your bookings, then a very simple way is to accept dogs. In fact accommodation providers who are willing to accept dogs will often see a sizeable increase in bookings – some say as much as 50% more. Want even more bookings? Then accept two dogs! Apparently many holiday cottages will happily take one well behaved dog but very few indeed will accept two. Its a niche market but a worthwhile one. A friend of ours who has two dogs often struggles to find anywhere to holiday at all and we have noticed that bookings where there are two dogs tend to come in much earlier, simply due to the shortage of accommodation.

However if you are going to accept dogs, then its worthwhile doing it with some enthusiasm. Many accommodation providers be-grudgingly accept pets. So why not at least provide dog bowls, a couple of big towels and how about leaving a welcome gift for the dog? Maybe some dog biscuits or treats: the dog will love them but the dog’s owner will think you are just wonderful.

Finally, if you are going to do all of this and go out of your way to make your dogs and their owners welcome, then don’t forget to tell the world about it via your website or social media sites. Better still, try and include a photo of a happy dog on your website- always a huge hit with potential enquirers.

Using photos on Social Media Sites
Most business owners will have some kind of presence on either facebook, Twitter or Linkdin. The whole point of these to is build awareness of your business and to network with other associated businesses. The actually nitty gritty of writing posts for Facebook and Twitter is almost a subject in itself but one thing is absolutely certain: posts that use photographs get way more viewings than those that don’t.

You can instantly create a really strong message about your business, simply by posting the right photographs on your relevant social media page. Apparently our brain can process a photo 60,000 times faster than text. Think about it, if you share a picture, your followers will decide in a split second whether they want to stay on your page and see more. Bob Lisbonne is the CEO of Luminate and the former Vice-Principal of Netscape and he says ‘We’ve now entered a phase in which visual communication is supplanting the written word. Some are calling it the dawn of the imagesphere’.

Around 250,000 photos are uploaded onto Facebook every day and even Twitter (a social media site based on the written word) has now embraced the power of images by allowing you to easily add a photograph or video to your feed.
Don’t forget that anything you post has to be appropriate to your brand image or at least be in tune with the feel of your business. So think carefully about what images might be relevant and interesting to your followers and you’ll undoubtedly reap the benefits.

Google Virtual Tours
As I mentioned above, I have recently started working with Google on their new project, producing Google Virtual Tours for businesses in Northumberland. The interest has been phenomenal and with good reason.

Google Virtual Tours are a new online marketing initiative using the same technology as Google StreetView. It allows customers to take a fully interactive, 360° virtual 'walk-through' of our local participating businesses. This really brings the business to life and allows it to showcase its premises and service in incredible detail. Potential customers can ‘walk’ around and interact and explore the business and really experience what its all about.The Virtual Tour can also be embedded into the businesses Website, Blog and Facebook page with links easily sent via Twitter etc. This also helps to enhance their online presence in Google Search, Google Maps and their Google+ Local Listing. The whole thing really is just superb so please take a look at my website to see how it works and to see a few recent examples. You can find it here: www.insidestoryphotography.co.uk

If this is of interest to you, I’d be delighted explain more so please do not hesitate to contact me at insidestoryphoto@aol.com or phone on 01289 305735.

June 14