PR isn’t just about the media it’s also all about understanding your customer experience. It is an essential element of your business’ success and part of managing reputation.
Having a sound knowledge of what constitutes a customer experience is the key to the longevity of any company.
Most people haven’t got a clue about how even the simplest things they do impact on their overall customer experience.
This is because they perceive the customer experience as a single event rather than an accumulation of hundreds of little occurrences, all of which combine to create the overall experience impression.
It’s the detail that counts. Everything your customer encounters either has a negative, positive or passive effect on the way they perceive your business and many of these incidences won’t even register consciously with them.
These occurrences combine together to give an overall sense or feeling of a positive or negative experience.
Even things that are beyond the control of your business, such as the weather or supplier reliability, have an effect on the customer experience and should therefore be considered for their impact.
For example, if it’s raining cats and dogs and your customer gets soaked just walking from the car park to your front door, you can bet your bottom dollar that this is already having a negative impact on their customer experience, even at a subconscious level.
Businesses can’t control the weather but you can prepare for it by having umbrellas for customers to use.
The key is to observe your customer from the very moment they decide to interact with you and follow their experience right through to the conclusion of business and the fulfilment of aftercare, if you have a business that does this.
At each step, look at how each occurrence influences the customer experience, focusing on those within your control to exert as much positive influence as you can.
Doing a few things right isn’t good enough, you have to pay attention to the details then your word-of-month recommendations will grow and your reputation will be enhanced.
This is part and parcel of the world of PR. Good customer care goes hand-in-hand with promotional activity and the profitability of your business.
I always wanted to be a journalist from a very early age having read a Ladybird book about newspapers.
At the age of seven I started to create my own newspapers for my family about the farm we lived on and all the animals. They were handwritten with my own pencil and felt tip drawings to accompany.
Having a clear idea of one’s career path from an early age meant it was fairly straightforward deciding what to do at school, college, university and eventually picking my National Council for the Training of Journalists course.
It’s funny now to think that I trained on a typewriter not a PC and that I learnt shorthand up to 120 words per minute. It seems a bit old school these days but you can tell a true journalist if they can do shorthand.
My spare time growing up also revolved around journalism. I wrote for publications, created school and college magazines and took on a whole host of projects including radio and TV to help develop my journalistic skills.
I gained lots of different and wonderful experiences with numerous media (including seeing a piece I wrote in the Sunday Sport, a stint on Take a Break magazine and time as a researcher/producer on a TV documentary) and worked for the Guardian Media Group as a senior journalist. Then I drifted away from journalism ever so slightly to work as a Corporate Affairs consultant for Tesco for four years.
My work with them was very much based on the key journalistic skills I had honed in my previous roles.
By having both a journalism background and now an insight into public relations, it seemed like an opportune time to create my own PR firm.
In fact, people had heard about my work already and were calling me to see if I could help them so it seemed like a natural progression.
Porcupine PR was born officially in my spare room in September 1994. In those days email was barely in its infancy.
When I worked for the Guardian Media Group we had an internal electronic mail system but nothing more. People used to joke about the Internet in those days and ask: ‘Is it still going?’ No one thought then that it would have the impact it has had.
People posted hard copies of photos and press/media releases through the Royal Mail and releases also came by fax but everything took a lot longer and the news was less immediate than it is today. People didn’t have mobile phones to film or take photographs of the things happening around them.
Now everything is in real time. The news is being created and uploaded by the minute. As soon as photographs are taken they can be sent to media via email. It has vastly improved the way we communicate with our clients and the media.
It is strange to think that once upon a time I sent a printed out media release and photo off in the post and waited for at least a week before it appeared in a printed publication.
Today we will have issued potentially hundreds of releases and many of them will already be being read by people online.
We also monitor many of our clients’ social media accounts. We are constantly looking for new ways to raise awareness of them and their products.
Despite these new methods, the good old principles of journalism still hold out and everything we do has to inform, educate or entertain.
In fact being overtly commercial is a huge no-no in social media circles and the skills I learnt as a journalist about being economical and concise with your words and accurate with your facts are just as important today as they ever were.
FAMILIES from Somerset are invited this December (2016) to a free candle lit shopping experience with food tastings and festive music at a farm shop in the county.
Rumwell Farm Shop is hosting its annual Rumwell by Candlelight event on Thursday, December 8 from 5pm until 8pm to raise money for two charities.
Anne Mitchell, Joint Owner of the farm shop, which is located on the A38 between Taunton and Wellington, explained: “The shop and cafe will be lit by hundreds of candles during the event, which makes it such a unique, festive experience.
“We are hosting Rumwell by Candlelight this year in aid of Somerset Unit for Radiotherapy Equipment (S.U.R.E) and the Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance. There will be collection buckets throughout the farm shop for people to drop their change into.”
People who attend the event will receive a free mulled wine and mince pie on arrival. The Somerset Hills Ladies choir, Absolute Pitch and HOPE, the S.U.R.E choir will be performing Christmas carols and other songs throughout the evening.
Anne added: “There will also be the chance to try lots of tasty food items made by our staff in our bakery and in our jam kitchen.
“Regional suppliers such as The Lyme Bay Winery, Bramley & Gage, Grown Up Marshmallows and House of Sarunds will be on-site too, offering visitors samples of fruity wines, liqueurs, gin and tonic, marshmallows and fine chocolates. Admission and parking is free.”
S.U.R.E is a registered, independent charity based in Taunton. Its objective is to raise funds to help provide top class cancer diagnosis and treatment at the Cancer Centre known as the Beacon Centre at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton.
The Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance launched in March 2000 and has flown more than 11,000 missions, many of them life-saving.
Its operational costs are more than £2 million a year and the approximate cost per mission is £2,500. With public support it is also able to purchase specialist pieces of equipment that aid its paramedics’ training and help to save lives across the two counties.
Rumwell Farm Shop is an independent, family-run, award-winning business owned by the Mitchell family. It was originally a potato store, when David and Anne Mitchell began selling their potatoes and free range eggs at the gate.
Due to customer demand, the range of products soon increased and the farm shop grew into the place it is today. David and Anne’s sons, James and Jack, are now also involved in the business.
Rumwell Farm Shop has a traditional butchery counter selling free range pork and Aberdeen Angus beef reared just four miles away on the family farm. There is also a delicatessen, bakery, jam kitchen and food hall.
Home grown potatoes are also still available as well as everything from fruit, vegetables and groceries to plants, flowers, gifts and cards.
The Rumwell Cafe, which opened in May 2015, is able to seat approximately 80 people. The food prepared in the cafe kitchen is sourced from the farm shop, the Mitchell family farm and regional suppliers.
Families are welcome to the cafe and there is a menu especially for children. The cafe also serves afternoon teas, carvery on a Sunday and is licensed to sell alcoholic beverages.
The Rumwell by Candlelight event will take place at Rumwell Farm Shop & Cafe on Thursday, December 8 from 5pm until 8pm.
For more information, please call Rumwell Farm Shop, which is located in Rumwell between Taunton and Wellington, on 01823 461599, visit www.rumwellfarmshop.com, follow the company on Twitter at www.twitter.com/rumwellfarmshop or log on to www.facebook.com/Rumwellfarmshop.
TAUNTON Deane’s Mayor helped to declare a shop near Wellington that’s dedicated to all things Christmassy and also raises funds for charity open last Saturday (November 19, 2016).
Vivienne Stock-Williams cut the ribbon at Langford Lakes Christmas Tree Farm, which is based at Middle Hill Farm in Langford Budville, on Saturday, November 19 to officially open the shop.
Reg Hendy, owner of Langford Lakes, explained: “The Mayor very kindly agreed to declare us officially open for the festive season and unveiled our Christmas shop, which is grander than ever for 2016. She assisted Father Christmas with the ribbon cutting.
“Once again this year, we’re hoping to collect as much money as possible for Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW) from the sale of mince pies and teas and coffees, aided by the Wellington Friends Group of CHSW, from our launch event through to our last day of trading before Christmas on December 23. Last year we raised £2,000 for the organisation.”
CHSW is currently the only provider of specialist hospice care for children in the region. It offers much needed support for youngsters with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition and their families at its three hospices: Charlton Farm in North Somerset, Little Bridge House in North Devon and Little Harbour in Cornwall.
“We had a great launch day and would like to thank everyone who popped along as well as the Mayor, who is an ardent supporter of CHSW. The fun started at 9am with the official ribbon-cutting event at 11am. Families got to meet Santa and enjoy the refreshments, while also helping raise invaluable funds for a very worthy charity.”
Langford Lakes Christmas Tree Farm, which is well-known for its home grown, freshly cut Christmas trees, is a family run 40-acre farm that is located close to the nature reserve Langford Heathfield, a mile outside of Langford Budville in Somerset.
It is a family-run farm, owned and run by Reg and his wife Ann and their two sons, Shaun and Nick. The family has been growing and selling Christmas trees for more than 20 years.
“Back in 1993, I took a risk and decided to diversify away from the traditional cash crops of wheat and potatoes, and chose to plant and farm Christmas trees. My next decision was what type of tree to go for. With dozens of potential firs and spruces available, I opted to specialise in the Nordman Fir variety, which was then, relatively rare and slow growing.
“The Nordman Fir provides one huge benefit to its main competition, the Norway Spruce, that is its needle retention. The soft fir needles of the Nordman Fir have even been known to remain green and still attached to the tree into May.”
Since the early days, Reg has planted an increasing number of trees year-on-year and is now cultivating a much larger stock to meet public demand.
“As growers we pride ourselves on offering a quality, fresh product at a very competitive price. We can provide cut trees from three to 30 feet in size and have a superb array of low needle drop Nordman, Fraser Fir and Norway Spruce. We can also supply container grown trees, which have a much higher chance of surviving after Christmas and for future years if kept outdoors and cared for.
“Our Christmas shop is even bigger and better than ever before and we’ve hundreds of tree toppers and thousands of baubles in stock this year. We also stock fresh, handmade Christmas wreaths and all the decorations you could need to give your home some added sparkle this year. Come along this month to get some decorations and see our displays and then pick up your fresh tree in early December.”
Langford Lakes Christmas Tree Farm is open until Friday, December 23, 2016.
For further details about Langford Lakes Christmas Tree Farm, which is based at Middle Hill Farm in Langford Budville near Wellington, please call 01823 400476, visit www.langfordlakes.co.uk, follow the company on Twitter at www.twitter.com/LangfordLakes or log on to www.facebook.com/LangfordLakesChristmasTreeFarm/.