Good marketers, PR consultants, designers and media buyers are heavily undersold by their job descriptions. They are, in fact, king-makers – well the good ones are – although that might look somewhat immodest on their letterheads.One often has to look beyond the throne to see the source of power and this is certainly true in the corporate arena. Brand and image are among any top company’s most effective weapons in an increasingly competitive and international marketplace. Which is why billions are spent globally on cultivating effective images that chime with the buying public. This image will manifest itself in a number of ways but principally through brand – a logo and a slogan that portrays a company as it would like the wider world to perceive it.
A brand is a distinguishing name or symbol that should identify a product or producer; it is the heart, soul, lungs and guts of your business. But it is only part of the image-making process. That brand has to be optimised across a range of print and digital literature – principally a fast and easy-to-navigate website – and reinforced by all marketing and public relations activity: One hymn sheet.
Our inside track relationships with East of England companies allow Business Weekly not just to assess the best practitioners in this field, but also to understand companies’ attitudes to image.
Marketing, for example, is often the first victim of cutbacks in a downturn – a folly that has sent many a business crashing into a brick wall. It is exactly at such times that good image makers prove their worth. Companies in a competitive world simply cannot afford to lose visibility. Yet so many businesses, even in this digital age, still fail to grasp the importance of getting the right brand and promoting it constantly. One legend should be affixed to the top of every boardroom agenda: What differentiates you from your competitors?
You need to get your brand right through eye-catching marketing and design and then allow PR and marketing experts to leverage that brand through effective communication. It’s not easy and still considerably more companies get it wrong than get it right.
You will only get one shot at most of the business you target so sloppy presentation in terms of literature, logo and branding could prove fatal. Good designers will look at what your company does and how it is perceived in the marketplace, vet your competitors and come up with a distinguished and distinguish-able look that oozes class and gives off an air of invincibility about your company. This will apply to the internet as well as physical promotional material.
PR specialists will communicate your message simply and effectively to relevant media as long as you are specific and focused about who you want to reach and what you expect to achieve if you do reach them. Marketers will look at the entire way your business is run and what its long term aims are. They will advise you on which routes to take to optimise your branding. Which is more effective‚ direct marketing to prospective clients?
A more subliminal approach through print media? Internet marketing?
Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Business Weekly’s new ‘facebook for startups’ – CambridgeElevator.com – have added a new dimension to the mix of web-based marketing.
Our top practitioners are all national quality performers in their field of expertise – companies you can trust your image to. Many of them have a number of strings to their bow, providing a one-stop resource for clients. Our number one – Media Managers – is an exemplar.
1 Media Managers
2 Kiss Communications
3= Mobas & Royston Simpson Creative
4= 2Cs Communications & Ware Anthony Rust
5 Holdsworth Associates
6 Smye Holland Associates
7 Quite Great PR
8= Tribe PR & Four
9= Ultimedia & Silk Pearce
Led by that brilliant and genial tactician Alistair Wayne, Media Managers has leveraged its marketing nous to become one of the most astute media buying agencies in the whole of the UK. Its all-round marcoms skills were acknowledged just before Christmas when Media Managers was officially crowned the top marketing communications agency in East Anglia by the Recommended Agency Register (RAR) annual advertising agency report.
It joined the league table of the UK’s hot 100 for the first time and zoomed straight in at number 21 nationally – the best performance by a local agency. The RAR’s Top 100 Agencies outside the M25 compares measures such as growth, turnover per head of staff and size. Media Managers triumphed from a pool of 749 agencies – ahead of all agencies in the East of England.
Media Managers’ customer base spans all sectors, including Newmarket Racecourses, CEVA Animal Health and English Heritage. Media Managers added a host of new client wins in 2011, including Old English Inns, a key business with the Greene King portfolio.
Kiss Communications, our choice at number two, is another high class act. Economic downturns call for innovation and Kiss has delivered it in spades. The agency has remained vibrant regardless of the economic chaos in the background and has come up with some novel ways of promoting clients. Managing director Simon Fryer is the kind of leader that inspires clients, stimulating them through stasis and coaxing them through to brighter climes. This is adult, joined up marketing at its very best.
Mobas vaults into the rankings for the first time on the back of a very strong 2011. The agency was also highly rated in the RAR Awards. This is a multi-faceted consultancy built to meet client demands for sharp PR and excellent design studded into sound marcoms strategies. Its work for Novotel on creating a seasonal greetings card was exceptional and delivered some timely all-round cheer. Mobas also provides an outstanding service for leading law firm Taylor Vinters.
There aren’t enough positive words in the dictionary to do justice to the work of Royston Simpson Creative, led by Richard Taylor. The clue is in the word ‘Creative.’ When adverts and promotional material for clients arrive at Business Weekly they never fail to draw a gasp of admiration. The wit behind many of the creatives draw a ready chuckle.
As someone once remarked of Napoleon, Richard Taylor’s head is as full of ideas as a warren is of rabbit holes. He has a superb design team around him and together they have slapped an invisible Trade Mark on the word originality. Some of the team’s property design work is fabulous – but built around original concepts and catchy slogans.
Finally, a word or two for two PR agencies whose standards never seem to fall – Holdsworth Associates in Cambridge and Smye Holland Associates in Peterborough.
Smye Holland, run by Mike Holland, picked up its first contract in Russia last October and its outreach has been increasingly global in recent years. The firm celebrates its 25th anniversary this year which I reckon is down to Holland’s verve and strategic nous but which he modestly insists is due more to dogged persistence and boundless perspiration. Founded in 1987 and still going strong is a fantastic achievement and says pretty much all you need to know about a solid performer but one which also has flair.
Holdsworth Associates scooped two industry awards at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations East Anglia awards ceremony in November.
Specialists in science and technology, Holdsworth Associates won gold for media relations and silver for outstanding small consultancy against competition from across the East of England.
One of the campaigns that led to the Outstanding Small Consultancy award was ‘Meerkats and Avatars: Prepare for a Changing World’, a technology press event organised on behalf of St John’s Innovation Centre.
Holdsworth Associates provided PR consultancy to early stage companies and invited national, trade and broadcast journalists to experience demonstrations by these emerging businesses. This secured the media coverage for a host of innovative local companies. Holdsworth Associates’ work for Bourn Hall Clinic was also recognised.
• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Alistair Wayne, Media Managers