New to marketing and need an extra hand? Or maybe you’re just not confident enough yet to do all your marketing yourself? If so, a PR company might be the best way to improve your marketing strategy. We spoke to Richard Lee, owner of Ees Wyke Country House, to learn about his experience of working with a PR firm. We also spoke with Marcus Goodyear from Crimson Edge PR to understand the different services a PR company can provide and what to look for when choosing the right PR firm for your business…
For many hospitality businesses, the ultimate aim is to have every guest book with you directly.
But how do you get there?
Marketing is an essential part of a successful business and it has to be done right.
Yes, you can do it all yourself (which comes with its own peaks and pitfalls) but what if you need a helping hand?
For new business owners or those who aren’t yet confident enough to take charge of their own marketing strategy, there are other options.
One such option is choosing to work with a PR company.
We spoke to Richard Lee, owner of Ees Wyke Country House, a luxury guest house in the Lake District where Beatrix Potter edited Peter Rabbit, to find out about his experience working with a PR company.
We also spoke with Marcus Goodyear, an Account Manager at Crimson Edge PR, a company who are experts in marketing for the food and hospitality industries.
Marcus provides us with valuable insight as to what you can expect when working with PR companies.
What is PR?
PR is essential for any business and can be as creative as you like.
PR simply stands for ‘public relations’, referring to the communication from a business (or person) to their target market.
Marcus Goodyear explains that “good PR and marketing helps to tell a story, stimulating and encouraging conversations” amongst an audience.
He said: “PR and marketing is essential. In a crowded market, it’s crucial to get your story out there and reach a larger customer base.
“We don’t just help to sell [a product or service], we bring joy to brands with brilliant feature ideas and smart strategies, adding real value and meaning to our clients’ businesses.”
Ees Wyke Country House
A popular base for walkers in the Lake District, Ees Wyke Country House appears in various journals, helping to bring in guests.
Richard Lee, owner of Ees Wyke Country House, explained that it was Marcus and the team at Crimson Edge PR that helped to get them placed in these journals.
“PR firms have all the right contacts, so they can help you market your business in different ways,” said Richard.
Surprisingly, Richard started working with Crimson Edge PR after a cold call.
“A member of their team was in the area and she just popped in to see us and we got on really well,” said Richard.
“We spoke the same language and understood what we wanted and were trying to do, so we started working together and it’s been pretty successful.”
It can be quite time consuming to do all your marketing on top of the day-to-day tasks associated with running a business, so a little help from a PR company might be just what you need.
Richard said: “It’s an awful lot of work to try and do it all by yourself.
“If you ask people where they heard about you, they always say the internet. Years ago, that was fine, but now, that can mean anything from Facebook, Instagram, blogs, websites, and all sorts of other things.”
For those of you who are new to marketing, running a new business, or maybe you’re just not confident enough to take on your own marketing, PR companies are an easy way for you to get results.
Richard explained: “Personally, I think a PR company would get better results than doing it on your own. They have the right way of wording things and know what will attract the journalists and potential guests.”
“PR firms have all the right contacts, so they can help you market your business in different ways.”
Self-marketing is worth the time and effort, but PR companies offer experience and knowledge.
Marcus explained: “PR and marketing is second nature to us. We’re acutely aware of what journalists are likely to publish, meaning we save time on fruitless ideas and can identify PR opportunities that a self-marketer might not be aware of.
“We have established relationships with local, national and international journalists and these contacts, combined with our creativity, instinct for a good story and enthusiasm for our clients’ businesses, has provided us with excellent results.”
Undertaking your own marketing may take a lot of work, but it’s also free.
However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest in a partnership with a PR company.
“The cost of working with a PR company will depend on what they do for you,” explained Richard.
“It could be anything between £400 and £800 per month, or more depending on your strategy.”
If you ever decided to work with a PR firm, Marcus explained that you would create a strategy with the help of the PR team.
“We typically create an initial six month plan, concentrating on the areas a client requires us to focus on,” said Marcus.
Marcus also explained that most hospitality businesses who work with them choose a ‘standard plan’ of 1-2 days per month.
“This equates to ten hours of working time, drip-fed throughout the month,” said Marcus.
“For larger businesses that require more focus, we usually recommend a plan that is 4-5 days, again, drip-fed throughout the month.”
Richard Lee explained that for Ees Wyke, the cost is worth it.
“It’s odd because you could stop your PR company from doing anything and you wouldn’t notice the difference at first, but business will gradually slow down,” he said.
“It clearly works, because if you’re busy and you have guests, then they’ve done their job.”
He added: “I’d definitely recommend working with a PR company to other businesses.”
One of the benefits of marketing in this way is that you get a second opinion.
“When you use a PR firm, you get another input and an idea of how other people might do things, so you’re not quite so isolated,” explained Richard.
“It’s a two way street that we check regularly. We send them ideas and they send us ideas, then they post something and it’s done.
“We might say something to them that we don’t think is of any consequence and then suddenly you have a nice Facebook post because they thought of a nice way of marketing your property.”
Richard explained that he is happy with the results he’s been getting and that it’s a great help having someone else take care of his marketing.
“We just don’t have the time to sit around and post things online,” he said, “and I do think we get better results than if we were doing it all by ourselves.”
What are the different services that a PR firm can offer a hospitality business?
So now you have a rough idea of how it works, what can a PR company actually do for you?
Different PR companies will offer different packages and services depending on their strengths and the industries they specialise in.
But for hospitality businesses such as yourselves, Marcus has provided some examples of the services that a PR company could offer you.
“It really depends on what you hope to achieve from your PR and marketing,” explained Marcus, “some clients wish to build their social media profile and increase engagement. Others want to promote specific events or secure features in specific publications.”
So before you jump head first into working with a PR firm, consider what you want you to get out of it.
Here are some of the different services that Marcus explained would be available to you:
“This would entail communicating with different media outlets to organise features and so on,” said Marcus.
Online Social Media Management:
“This would consist of creating a strong presence online and on social media for your business.”
“This means direct interaction with our client’s customers, for example, direct marketing through something like a newsletter.”
“This includes communications within the business to staff members.”
“This isn’t just about dealing with crises as they happen, but constantly managing a client’s profile so that crises do not occur.”
Marcus also explained that they can provide services that are unavailable to those who self-market, which can be quite costly if undertaken singularly.
“For example, we employs a media monitoring service, allowing us to keep track of our client’s PR and marketing footprint and to carefully control their image,” said Marcus.
“We also have access to an international database of journalists, allowing us to cherry-pick publications and journalists that are appropriate for our clients.
“In turn, this helps to create a real targeted and strategic campaign.”
Choosing the right PR company for you
With so many PR firms available, how do you go about finding the right one for you?
Richard explained that the Crimson Edge PR team was right for Ees Wyke because they understood what he wanted and understood the business.
But where do you start?
“They need to understand your business. Ask to see a portfolio of previous work.”
“I think you need to talk to them first and see what work they have been doing,” suggested Richard.
“They need to be at one with the industry, know what the pitfalls are and be able to set the right tone for your property.
“They need to understand your business. For example, we wouldn’t want a hen party here because we’re not that type of establishment, so they know who is best to contact.”
He added: “It’s also really important to ask to see a portfolio of previous work.
“They need to be proactive within the industry, so you should ask to see any work they have done for similar businesses in the hospitality industry.
“Ask to see what sort of Facebook posts they’ve done and stuff like that, because you want to know they are in tune with the businesses that they work with.”
Marcus agreed, explaining that a good PR company must understand their potential client’s business and have a “proven track record within the industry”.
Richard also suggested trying smaller PR companies that are relatively local to you.
“For smaller properties, the larger PR companies will be really expensive,” said Richard, “and it helps to be able to see them face to face occasionally.”
He added: “I also think you need to be able to get on with them, so make sure you meet them first.”
Marcus suggested that if you’re unsure, you could always ask other local businesses if they use a PR company and if so, who.
“A recommendation from someone you know can be really helpful,” said Marcus.
“We actually secure a lot of new businesses simply through word of mouth from satisfied clients.”
He added: “You should always look for a PR company that is brimming with ideas and different angles to promote your business.
“And they should also be able to demonstrate the range of activity they can undertake on their client’s behalf.”
“They should be able to demonstrate a range of activity that they can undertake for you.”
Crimson Edge PR for the Food and Hospitality Industry
“At Crimson Edge PR, we specialise in PR for boutique and high-end hotels, inns and restaurants, along with some prestigious chefs, UK wide.
“However, we don’t like to pigeon- hole ourselves. Some of our more recent, diverse clients have included a chainsaw carver, an agroforestry company, an eco-friendly wellness brand and an estate agency in Edinburgh.” – Marcus Goodyear, Account Manager at CEPR