Parker PR

Last Thursday I sat with several people I had not met before, dressed in our best Dinner Jackets and Ball Gowns awaiting the presentation of the Chad Enterprise Awards; the now annual business awards presented by the north Nottinghamshire newspaper. The temperature was minus one outside the marquee but quite toasty inside as the hopes and aspirations of over 100 local business people heated the space.

As a shortlisted business myself and being up against two substantially sized opponents, I was feeling quite chuffed just to be there. As the awards started to be presented the buzz in the room became tangible, businesses of all sizes were being boosted by the recognition they were being given. I've often advised my clients to seek out awards and enter them for precisely this reason; it gives them a chance to realise and evaluate the quality of work they provide and it can give them a considerable marketing edge - being able to refer to your business as "award winning" really can set you apart.

Although the meal as slightly spoilt  by the over-cooked lamb, the presentation of the awards really gave me food for thought. I've been to and managed a fair few awards nights now, most of which have been put on by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and I have to say the CIPR could learn a few PR lessons from this event.

In September I wrote a blog about word of mouth marketing. The core message, to be found here, focussed on the value of actually giving customers something to talk about so they can then refer you to new customers. In the blog I made mention of an example that was generated at a seminar I gave for Business Link East Midlands  to a group of SMEs in Mansfield. I was asked by one delegate, how could her cleaning agency go one step further to make it exemplary in the eyes of customers.

Although I was put on the spot at the time, I suggested that she speak with the delegate sat next to her who was a florist. If she could leave a bunch of flowers on the customers' tables once in a while as a thank you for continued service, and leave a card from the florist at the same time, she would be promoting two businesses at once - the florist could of course then refer the cleaning company - but critically, her customers would be given something to talk about in respect of her services.