Happy New Year to all

Friday 31st December 2010   by Stuart Bickerton

As 2010 draws to a close we’d just like to take the opportunity to wish you all a healthy and prosperous 2011

We’re sure it’s going to be an exciting one – we hope it is for you too

From all at team matm

Public relations is a critical factor in the Northern Ireland water shortage crisis

Thursday 30th December 2010   by Stuart Bickerton

Bad things often have the habit of biting the corporate behind just when you least want or expect them to. Christmas is not a good time to leave 40,000 people without water, as Northern Ireland Water is finding out.

As if the practicalities of mending hundreds of pipe burst during freezing weather is not enough, the company seems to be compounding its problems with poor public relations. Nothing new there then! Only days before, BAA had to make grovelling apologies for poor communication with pretty much everyone over the problems causes by snow and ice at UK airports.

A Northern Ireland MP went on the BBC to say he could understand that very bad weather can cause big problems with water supply. What he could not excuse was the failure by Northern Ireland Water to communicate properly with its customers to explain what was happening, why and how they could get help.

He said information was poor and the website, in particular, was “no better than a kindergarten’s”. What is telling about the website is that there is no trace on it of an apology to customers – or an explanation as to why the problems have occured. There is factual information, such as lists of where people can go to get water out of a bowser, but not much else. It may be we have missed the relevant pages, but that is telling in itself.

There are a number of things, from a PR point of view, that go down well during such a crisis:

  • Sincere and often repeated apologies for the inconvenience caused
  • Visible leadership for customer relations and crisis resolution
  • Provision of information through multiple channels
  • Clear communication of what is being done and why
  • Evidence of support by stakeholders
  • And, not forgetting, effective advice on where to get help

Place your bets now on this being seen as a PR disaster as much as an operational one, when the dust settles and the water starts to flow again.

Northern Ireland Water website

BBC News – No Quick Fix For NI Water Crisis

Belfast Telegraph – Northern Ireland Water To Blame

matm uses advertising, social media, print and video in Shropshire smoking campaign

Thursday 30th December 2010   by Stuart Bickerton

matm has helped devise a major New Year marketing campaign to encourage thousands of smokers in Shropshire to ‘Pledge to Quit’ in 2011.

We’ve been working working with Help2Quit, an NHS stop smoking service.

Help2Quit runs drop-in clinics across Shropshire offering one-to-one support for smokers. It also provides a free workplace service where smoking rates are high. Results show smokers are four times more likely to stop with Help2Quit support.

Key elements of the New Year campaign include bus shelter advertising, a leaflet drop to 40,000 homes, video clips of people explaining why and how they quit and a social media campaign.

Pledge To Quit leaflet designed by matm as part of Help2Quit's 2011 campaign

Stuart Bickerton, Director of the matm marketing, graphic and web design, web development and PR agency at Jackfield near Telford in Shropshire, says: “It’s vital that you use the right methods to reach target groups to generate the best value for money and the greatest impact.

“That’s one reason why social media, such as Facebook, will play a part in the campaign. Video provides excellent social media content and can be packaged differently for a range of purposes. Because we have the expertise to shoot and edit the video ourselves, it’s very cost effective.”

The bus shelter advertising campaign will be focused in the Telford and Wrekin area on busy main roads close to supermarkets. The leaflet mailing will be targeted in other areas of the county where there are high levels of smoking.

The Pledge to Quit message challenges smokers to think about the personal benefits of giving up – and explains the range of help at hand if they want to quit.

Find out more about Help2Quit: 01743 366940, www.Help2QuitShropshire.co.uk, facebook.com/Help2Quit

How to write a winning business award entry – the devil is being creative about the detail

Tuesday 21st December 2010   by Stuart Bickerton

In today’s highly competitive environment, customers are more likely to want to want to do business with an award-winning organisation, says Jamie Doran, PR Executive at matm in Jackfield near Telford, in Shropshire.

We’ve had a number of awards successes for our clients in 2010, so we thought it might be useful to share some ideas on the subject.

Why enter for an award? Well, we all like a winner

  • Look at an award as a expert endorsement of your brand
  • If successful, you will be able to generate some great PR and promotional opportunities
  • Awards success can attract new customers and helps you recruit the best staff – most people want to worth with, or for, a successful organisation
  • You have to be in it to win it! It is easy to overestimate the competition and underestimate your chances

Awards success - matm client Lavendon Group celebrates an international award success in 2010

Preparing your award entry

  • Appoint one (interested and relatively senior) person to manage the award entry process. Entering awards is all about motivating busy colleagues to prepare the right evidence, often against the clock
  • Think also about getting some external help (okay, no surprise there!). Your award entry will benefit greatly from good writing skills and an external perspective. An outside agency can spot strong evidence that you might overlook. Bigger award entries can also take significant time and effort to collate, so help may be required
  • Make sure you understand the criteria and award guidelines – the devil and the opportunity to win is often in the detail. Focus on giving the award judges the precise evidence they ask for and you will probably already be ahead of the game
  • Present your evidence in a way that tells a story. One trick is to think what would interest a specialist or local journalist. Most award organisations are looking for entries that give them PR opportunities. So make it easy to spot the great headlines in yours
  • Make your entry easy and interesting to read. Judges will thank you and reward you accordingly
  • Back each point made with solid supporting evidence
  • Check, check and check again that you have provided the right information – and that your spelling and grammar is correct
  • Try to complete all this at least two weeks before deadline – so you have time for final checks

….and to plan your acceptance speech!

Soccer boss Sepp Blatter proves the benefits of media training

Wednesday 15th December 2010   by Stuart Bickerton

There are some public figures who appear to think they can get away with just about anything under the media spotlight. Take Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA.

When asked, at a press conference yesterday, what gay people should do if they want to go to the 2022 World Cup in Quatar, where homosexuality is currently illegal, his flippant response merely enraged gay rights organisations – and many others besides. You would have thought he would know better.

Mr Blatter may think he has the power and influence to ride out any storm. Time will tell. Certainly, the same cannot be said for almost everyone else.

Which is why most people who have a public profile or position of responsibility should consider receiving media training, says Andy Comber, PR Manager at matm, the marketing, public relations, graphic design, web design and web development agency at the Maws Centre in Jackfield, near Telford in Shropshire.

We’ve just published a brochure outlining matm’s media training services. These include formal media relations training, media crisis training and one-to-one coaching. The brochure can be found on matm’s web home page.

Andy says: “As a journalist I created stories for newspapers and TV that caused the downfall of more than a few public figures. And as a senior PR advisor I have protected just as many as well.

“Some people cause their own demise. However, I’m a firm believer that cock-up is a more powerful force in a media crisis than conspiracy – and many pitfalls are avoidable if you think ahead and know the tricks of the trade.

“And now, with the many opportunities and risks presented by social media, as well as the traditional media, taking the right approach to protecting and enhancing your public reputation is more important than ever before.

“A media gaff can be out and running on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn within seconds and can then be much more difficult to recover. The good thing is, most media howlers are avoidable.”

Graphic design from Shropshire that creates an advertisment really worth noticing

Tuesday 30th November 2010   by Stuart Bickerton

Making a marketing impact in a cluttered and fast-moving world can be a bit of a challenge.

Which got us here at matm thinking, how many adverts are we exposed to every day?

It appears from a huge amount of in-depth research – well okay, about 10 minutes on Google – that the answer is not clear.

In 2007, the New York Times quotes 5,000 (up from 2,000 in 1977). Then again, that is for the USA where they would tattoo an advertisement on the inside of your eyelids if you let them.

Another textbook figure that pops up a lot is 3,000. A blog has even been created solely to explore the phenomenon.

In Australia, one intrepid blogger, Matt Granfield, set out to actually count how many adverts he saw in 24 hours – that IS dedication for you. He got to 91 in the first hour and concluded it wasn’t looking good for the 3,000 figure.

Some experts break the figures down a little. A recent study, again in the USA, found that 34% of all ads targeting children or teens were for sweets and snacks – and that tweens were the most heavily targeted, seeing more than 20 food ads a day.

And at the conservative end of the scale, some put the total number of ads viewed at 300.

Okay. Whatever the case, we get to see a lot of adverts – and more now than we used to.

That’s why it is so important to make your message stand out from the crowd.

We recently helped Douglas Macmillan Hospice in Stoke on Trent do this by designing a promotional money collecting box for them. When every penny generously donated really counts, it’s important to get things right.

So here’s our top tips for designing promotional material:

  • Know what your key message is. It might not be profound – but it always has to get right to the nub of the matter, and fast.
  • Be clear about what and who you are promoting. You have a blink of an eye to achieve a connection and trigger a reaction.
  • Use bold, contrasting colours – which always reflect your brand. Contrasting colours help the whole design stand out.
  • And in that cluttered world mentioned earlier, less is always more. Keep it simple!

We hope that when you see a Douglas Macmillan Hospice collecting box, you’ll put a few coins in. It’s one of the hundreds – or is it thousands? – of ‘adverts’ you will see in a day that is really worth succumbing to.

matm lends graphic design skills to ‘can do’ bid to promote Shropshire heritage area

Monday 29th November 2010   by Stuart Bickerton

Here at matm we were proud to sponsor the recent Ironbridge Christmas Market in Ironbridge, Shropshire. We supported the event by designing the Gorge Year information sheet detailing events across this UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011.

As keen supporters of the Ironbridge Gorge community, we take great interest in the work of Ironbridge Regeneration Partnership. It has been great to see real events taking place in the gorge, so it was not a hard decision to make when asked if we can support the event.

Stuart Bickerton, Director of matm, the marketing, design, web and PR agency based at Jackfield near Telford, Shropshire, said: “The Ironbridge Gorge clearly has a proud history and the work of the Ironbridge Regeneration Partnership captures the mix of heritage and modern business thinking perfectly – it has a ‘Can Do’ spirit that supports enterprise across the area.

“I enjoyed the inaugural Victorian Christmas Market this year – I’m already looking forward to next year’s event. There was a great turn out from local businesses, traders, shoppers and local families.”

With plenty of events planned – it looks like being an industrious year in the Gorge – but given it’s history, what else would you expect!

Here’s a list of just a few of the events coming up during 2011:

Farmers Market – Held every third Saturday of each month,
beginning in March (except November)

Daffodil Ride – Bike ride for all ages and abilities, The Bicycle Hub

Queens Victoria’s Birthday Weekend – 28th to 30th May
Blists Hill Victorian Town

Brass Band FestivalThe Museum of Iron 16th and 17th of July

Coracle Regatta – Dale End Park

PS…Here’s just some of the traders who supported this year’s event.

Bertelin Farmhouse Cheese: www.bertelinfarmhousecheese.co.uk
Little Round Cake Company: www.thelittleroundcakecompany.co.uk
Shropshire Spice Co: www.shropshirespice.co.uk
Sweetooth Liquorice: john@pinches14.wanadoo.co.uk
Absolute Heart: www.absoluteheart.co.uk
Fairlady Fabrics: irmina.krzak@btinternet.com
Derek Houghton Images: www.shropshire-images.com
Jane Murphy Glass: www.jane-murphy.blogspot.com
Kim Rodgers: www.kimrodgers.co.uk

Fonts for web are getting interesting thanks to @font-face, says matm’s design team

Friday 26th November 2010   by Stuart Bickerton

How frustrating is it when your carefully crafted piece of printed material needs ‘translating’ onto the web and your choice of typefaces is dramatically reduced? Well, help is at hand in the form of CSS3 @font-face.

In short, @font-face allows designers to use fonts stored online, reducing the need to rely on the standard web selection that we’ve grown accustomed to, says Lindsay Crayton, Senior Creative at matm marketing, graphic design, web and PR agency at Jackfield near Telford, Shropshire.

Things are looking quite positive with the majority of modern web browsers supporting @font-face. And, yes, Internet Explorer is one of them.

If you’re getting started, Font squirrel could be your saviour. You can parcel up your own font selections and have them converted to the correct file formats. They also have a large selection ready to download to help you get started.

Always check that fonts have the appropriate licensing before use!

We’re not in a position to wave goodbye to Verdana just yet. But, with @font-face, web typography is getting interesting.

Check out the links below for more information on licensing, formats and examples.

10 free fonts for @font-face embedding
@font-face tutorial

Mirror, Signal, Outmanoeuvre – matm client teams up with Audi

Thursday 11th November 2010   by Stuart Bickerton

Which machine is the real star of this picture?

Audi R8 Spyder: 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.6 seconds. Nationwide Platforms scissor lift: 0 to 10 metres (32 feet) in 55 seconds. Put them together and you have one of the most memorable advertisements of 2010.

matm PR client Nationwide Platforms played a key role in bringing to life Audi’s dramatic ‘Mirror, Signal, Outmanoeuvre’ TV ad for its new supercar. Rogue Films, the makers of the advert, hired a mixture of electric scissor lifts and booms for the shoot, which took place at the Excel Centre in London’s Docklands.

We know through experience how important it is to have the correct equipment for video shoots and photoshoots and, the machines pictured above look perfect to support lighting rigs. We thought the image was striking enough to share with you – so come on – which machine is the real star of the picture?

Customise your social media with new Twitter app – is professional web design here to stay?

Monday 8th November 2010   by Stuart Bickerton

matm designer Tom Blockley has come across what appears to be a useful new app while doing a bit of social media browsing – giving the opportunity to share some thoughts on creating distinct personalities through customised Twitter profiles.

customise you twitter profile with themeleon

Will this ever take the place of professional twitter profile design?

The app is called Themeleon and the main advantage is the large range of patterns and colours to choose from. You can customise background pattern colours quickly and there are quite a few patterns to choose from. Tom says:

“The browsing experience is a little limited and I thought that being able to view more at once would improve the system.

The range of colour pallets are a bit garish and similar to other popular social media sites like My Space, with horrible colour combinations. But you can create your own colour pallets, to match your personality.

Themeleon is built by COLOURlovers, it has more than 600,000 background patterns and more than 1 million colour palettes. That’s a lot but it’s fun and incredibly easy to use.”

In a few simple steps you can create some fun and professional profiles.
Step 1 – Login
Step 2 – Edit your Design
Step 3 – Save your theme

Tom, a designer at Shropshire marketing, design, PR and web design agency matm, based at Jackfield, near Telford, says: “Customised Twitter profiles are an extension of the user. The ability to create your own using a web app is a great idea and has good potential.

That said, I don’t think they will ever replace a professionally-designed profile that can be provided by the likes of matm. They will, though raise expectations which I think is a good thing.”

Do you have any cool social media apps or themes? Tell us about them by adding a comment to this post.

An iconic design and a platform for business stardom

Wednesday 27th October 2010   by Stuart Bickerton

An icon is instantly recognisable. Just ask fans of Marilyn Monroe. And designers are creating new ones every day.

Here at Shropshire marketing, design, web and PR agency matm, in Jackfield, Telford, we have just created an icon for Lavendon Access Services, the group which owns the Panther and Nationwide Platforms brands, among others.

It’s designed to illustrate the latest development in the powered access industry – a personnel lift that gives low level access. Think of it as the replacement for the standard ladder, which in many workplaces is no longer considered safe.

These smaller machines are increasingly used in shops, offices, hotels and leisure centres. And now the icon we have created will sit proudly alongside others that depict the powered access industry.

Designer Tom Blockley said: “Designing icons for particular product types can be a very powerful way to depict the machine. Pictures paint a thousand words and this icon will help Lavendon customers identify the machine type quickly and easily.”

The knack is to reduce the design to its simplest form while ensuring the object is instantly recognisable. Tom drew the new icon in industry standard illustration software, so it can be used in any size, from small icon to the size of a building (if required!).

So our icon might not be a sex goddess but it’s still perfectly formed.

Low Level personnel lift icon

Low Level Access Icon

Low Level Access, Boom Lift, Scissor Lift & Truck Mount

How charities may benefit from the comprehensive spending review

Tuesday 26th October 2010   by Stuart Bickerton

With  marketing for hospices and charities a regular conversation here at matm, specialist marketing agency from Shropshire, we have been interested to read Stephen Cook’s thoughts on the influence of the comprehensive spending review will have on the third sector.

He reports that the Chancellor, George Osbourne, has acknowledged that voluntary organisations will be expected to pick up what the trimmed-down public sector will be forced to let go – and has allocated £470m over the next four years to support charities and community organisations. This will be the Big Society in action.

Stephen Cook says: “Although the comprehensive spending review will reduce public spending by 19 per cent over the next four years, it promises a bigger role for the voluntary and community sector.”


As an agency that takes pride in working with third sector organisations on a wide range of projects including marketing, public relations, web design, graphic design and telemarketing – and, let’s be honest, welcomes the income that work generates, we’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

High five! See if Shropshire design agency matm can make YOU happier

Friday 22nd October 2010   by Stuart Bickerton

matm, Telford, Shropshire - High Five Logo design

matm, Telford, Shropshire - graphic device, 5 ways to a happier life

There are simple things we can all do to help give us a healthier and happier life – and matm has developed a brand design to show just what those things are.

matm has been working with NHS Telford and Wrekin’s Health Promotion Team to create High Five – which promotes the five main things we can all do to be more healthy and happy.

The clear and colourful brand design reflects five ways we can all make a difference:

  • Connect
  • Be active
  • Take notice
  • Keep Learning
  • Give

Tom Blockley, one of the graphic designers at Shropshire marketing, design, web and PR firm matm, says: “The brand and logo design process is an enjoyable and creative one. We work very closely with the client, listen carefully to what they require and the campaign objectives.”

High Five will show how you think about and do the small things everyday can help you to feel good about yourself, appreciate what matters to you and get the most out of life.

The Five Ways branding is due to be rolled out across a range of promotional media including print, web, social media and video over the coming weeks and months, helping health promotion professionals to join together all the support services they provide.

Five ways for a healthier, happier life. It’s simple, quick and it works. Try it for a week and see if you notice a difference. . . what have you got to lose?

Oh, and if you want matm to make a difference for you, we’d love to hear from you!

New design for hospice lottery leaflet

Tuesday 19th October 2010   by Stuart Bickerton

Here at matm, we’ve got good of experience of multi-language design, print and web design – and have put that to good use producing a new lottery leaflet for St David’s Hospice in Llandudno, North Wales.

As with many hospice lotteries, St David’s is taking advantage of recent legislation changes which allow charities to introduce a rollover to their weekly prizes. This means that someone could win up to £5,000 with one ticket.

Every Friday, St David’s Hospice calls a lucky winner to tell them the good news – that’s something we like the sound of here at matm, Shropshire marketing, design, PR and web agency, writes designer Tom Blockley. Receiving that call would definitely make my weekend!

You’ll also notice that the leaflet has both English and Welsh language text, together on one version of the leaflet to provide the most cost effective print.

We’re proud to work with such a worthwhile charity as St David’s Hospice and we wish them every success in their new lottery rollover.

Click on the pictures below for a better view.

English text Welsh textWelsh text

Police tweet for transparency, social media comment from shrosphire based matm

Friday 15th October 2010   by Stuart Bickerton

It ended at 5am this morning.  As I write, at noon, there are well over 590 news articles on Google in the last 24 hours alone.

Greater Manchester Police’s entry into the Twittersphere, sirens wailing and blue lights flashing, has grabbed the headlines, says Stuart Bickerton, of Shropshire marketing, graphic design, PR and web agency matm. The police explain why they’ve done it on this video on their website.

It has tweeted every one of its 3205 emergency calls in 24 hours. Though, as it became clear, to describe many of the calls emergencies would be a crime against common sense.

Despite burning through multiple accounts (Twitter blocks excess tweeting to halt spammers) and coping (or should that be reacting angrily?) with spoof twitter accounts, the exercise has been very well received.

It has certainly prompted conversation, comedy and, it appears, renewed respect for police, given what the public throws their way. Here are just some of the calls that have attracted an incredulous reaction and 14,000 followers on Twitter:

GMP call this an exercise in transparency, which is at the forefront of all good communication strategies. The serious subtext of this exercise is looming public sector budget cuts. The people of Greater Manchester now know how much time and money is being wasted on policing – and who is to blame.

It’s been a brave step but with careful planning, the importance of which cannot be overlooked here, Greater Manchester Police has certainly provided an inventive way of saying “look how busy we are “ as well as “look at all the rubbish we deal with.”

If they’d have a popped a press release out saying we’re a bit busy, can you be a bit nice to us please (or words to that effect) I’m not sure we’d have listened – would we?

So, as an exercise to highlight the difficulty of the work the police do, it looks to me like a job well done, an impressive conversation starter. Where it goes from here will be interesting to watch.

PR is changing and is all the better for it I say.

Follow us: @team_matm


Twitter shows Greater Manchester Police’s 3,205 calls BBC NEWS
Police hail 24-hour Twitter move a success INDEPENDENT
Police hail “bobby on the tweet” experiment REUTERS
Cops in online scuffle over fake Twitter posts THINQ
Best of the Greater Manchester Police 24-hour Twitter experiment BEEHIVE CITY

Video for web – it CAN be affordable as well as effective

Thursday 7th October 2010   by Stuart Bickerton

Video is rapidly becoming an essential element of the PR mix, especially for web and mobile media content where it enhances search engine optimisation, SEO, and promotes viral, word of mouth sharing through social media. So whether you are into video blogging – or vlogging as it’s also called – or more conventional video for web, you are in good company.

Our PR manager, Andy Comber, is a former senior television journalist who has years of experience producing and editing broadcast-standard video features. So, in most cases, we can keep video production in-house, saving clients a good deal of money.

At matm, we can now make your high quality blog video, corporate video or promotional video affordable and quick to produce. For example, we’re producing a series of online marketing videos for one client to promote oxygen as a sports and fitness supplement – showing how sportsmen and women benefit from using it.

Triathlete Dan Sims Oxyfit Pt 1 from matm on Vimeo.

Andy says: “The cost of producing video is falling rapidly. For example, in some cases it even makes sense for clients to make the videos themselves and we can advise on how to do that. What always makes the difference is having compelling content that is right for your target audience.”

Now, when matm puts together a conventional PR story for print or web, we can create a video package at the same time. And, in if need be, we can have it edited and ready for use on the same day. Interested? Contact Andy for a chat.

Staffordshire hospice is winner with simple yet creative digital design

Tuesday 5th October 2010   by Stuart Bickerton

When the time is right, all companies and organisations can benefit from refreshing their image. matm recently rebranded Douglas Macmillan Hospice’s fundraising lottery to make it more contemporary and engaging, especially for a younger audience.

The hospice, in Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, wanted the lottery to be less “gimmicky” so people are encouraged to feel they are part of a service doing great work in their community as well as giving themselves a chance to win some cash – which is still important!

A key part of the project was designing a point of sale display to promote the hospice’s new weekly rollover. This was achieved with a calendar-style counter stand which gives the rollover total on the front for customers and prize information on the back for vendors.

Point of sale rollover stand is a winner in Douglas Macmillan lottery rebrand carried out by matm

Other branded items include lottery tickets, a leaflet, gift vouchers and display boards.

Client feedback has been very positive. Donna Adams, Lottery Promotions Development Manager for Douglas Macmillan Hospice, told us: “It is always a pleasure to work with the design team at matm. When we thought about rebranding, we knew it was matm we wanted to work with. Their designers have the creativity and attitude we like.”

Thank you Donna! We’re now working on a similar project for another hospice – and we hope you get the opportunity to buy a ticket. Want to know more? Contact matm Senior Creative Lindsay Crayton

Can paid-for news stories and features be value for money?

Tuesday 5th October 2010   by Stuart Bickerton

As with many public relations agencies, here at matm we receive a good number of offers from publications to place advertorials – often called colour separations or ‘seps’ – on behalf of our clients.

Colour separations are paid-for articles, usually accompanied by a picture (which is where the colour separation term comes from), writes Andy Comber, PR Manager at Shrophire-based marketing, design, web and design agency matm. They became increasingly common in the 1980s when advertising revenue fell sharply – and can also be called editorial reproductions, product insertions or digital profiles in web media.

These offers can be viewed by PR companies and clients alike with some degree of suspicion. Quite rightly, the client doesn’t want to spend money without considering the ROI.

PR professionals like to think they can generate stories that are so compelling that publications will jump at carrying them for no charge. And it doesn’t look good to keep asking clients to dip their hands in their pockets for every Tom, Dick and Harry media opportunity that comes along.

All that said, with the right degree of caution, colour seps can be useful elements of the PR mix.

They are an integral part of the marketing and revenue model for many publications. So paid-for stories may not mean the publication is poor quality or that readers don’t value the content. Also, a colour sep allows the public relations agency and client to exert control over content, image use and page placement in a publication aimed precisely at a desirable target audience.

As an example, matm recently secured for a client a two page feature with multiple pictures in a national building renovation title at a cost of £350. The article generated eight keen sales/information inquiries through the publication’s internal feedback system alone.

So here are some tips when using colour seps as a marketing tactic:

* If there is time, ask to be sent copies of the publication to assess suitability– and check web pages
* Be selective – make sure you are clear about the target audience you want and what is being offered
* Ask yourself if the publication is right for your brand in terms of style and quality
* Ask about readership and reach. Is the publication ABC audited?
* Don’t accept the first price offered – in most cases there is room to haggle
* If there’s no movement on price, negotiate on content, position on page and which page you are being offered, for example the right hand page and the outside edge of the page are favoured positions
* Check the size of any picture offered
* Make sure the article includes a call to action box or strap with contact details
* Be aware that most publications can offer online content as part of the mix
* Require copy and design proof approval
* Think twice about using a publication’s in-house writers. In most cases, they won’t understand your needs
* Don’t pay up front. If a publication doesn’t deliver all it promises, you can withhold payment or negotiate a lower price
* Use targeted advertorials as part of a coordinated marketing communications strategy, also involving web content, e-shots and social media
* Monitor the response. Did the article generate interest or sales inquiries?

Ultimately, the decision should focus on task and objective. Knowing clearly what you want to achieve and targeting marketing and PR spend accordingly should be the key test for whether to pay for publicity or not.

Hospice lotteries can friend-raise and fundraise with social media

Friday 24th September 2010   by Stuart Bickerton

Hospices face the challenge of raising millions of pounds each year to keep their excellent and highly valued services running. So any new ideas for boosting profile, encouraging participation and increasing support are well worth considering.

Last week, Julia Davies, account manager for Shropshire marketing, design, web and PR agency matm, was asked to speak to 67 hospice lotteries, at their annual conference, about social media – and, in particular, facebook and Twitter. Social media is an area of marketing that matm is increasingly asked to help with.

The audience reflected a wide range of experience, from those who are terrified to tweet to those who are avid facebook fans. Most, though, were clearly keen to embrace all options and reap the benefits.

Charity fundraising is increasingly about building longterm relationships and social media offers great tools for finding new friends and supporters and helping to make relationships last.

Some hospices are already finding social media activity is generating rewards, says Julia. One reported: “It has helped us attract new lottery donors, obtain professional photography, recruit volunteers for marshalling events, find people to lend us equipment and generate lots of enthusiasm for our hospice.”

One clear message, says Julia, is that you need the right social media approach – and to give it time to bed in and work. She adds: “Don’t be scared, get started with your social media ‘friend-raising’. You never know where it may take you!”

matm takes a break from marketing to make a splash

Thursday 23rd September 2010   by Stuart Bickerton

After the blood, sweat and tears of pre race practice runs – about 95 minutes of practice to be precise – the team matm rowing boat set off in blades of glory to romp home victorious in our first race against Ramsbury Flyers.

Team matm – monikered as Angry White Pyjamas to reflect their martial arts attire – was slightly less successful against two other teams, including the eventual winners Mostyn’s Maniacs, but a great time was had by all.

So it’s back to the day job of providing great marketing, design, web and public relations support for our clients in Shropshire and beyond for us – now the blisters on our hands have healed.

Thanks go to our designer, Tom Blockley (who also made the hats in the early hours of the morning before), web developer Rich Howells and Mandy Sznober (Rich’s better half) for pulling enthusiastically in the same direction (mostly) and to the good people of Bridgnorth Rowing Club for their help and patience.

Team matm looks surprisingly in sync!

Team matm takes on the opposition - marketing is much easier!

Team matm lays down the power - and catches a crab

Tips from matm for creating an engaging internal newsletter

Thursday 16th September 2010   by Stuart Bickerton

An important tool in any company’s internal communications plan is the company newsletter, says Jamie Doran, PR Executive, at Shropshire-based matm. We recently completed one for a client, so with the thoughts and ideas fresh in team matm’s mind; we thought we’d share some of the key points that make for an effective newsletter…

• It needs to be fun, morale-boosting and conversational, whilst containing concise and useful corporate information. Indeed, everyone wants to read about who won the fantasy football and got married in a hot air balloon, but a newsletter should also inform the reader about new products, people, policies and services.

• Consistency! A newsletter should have a regular layout, format and style – making it quick and easy to read. It should also have a consistent print/publication schedule so staff know when to expect it.

• Make sure there is something for all workplace audiences. This is a tricky one but gone should be the days of dull monologues delivered by the company chairman.

• Provide your newsletter in both digital and hard copy. It is obviously greener to save paper and send out a newsletter digitally. But given spam filled, overloaded email boxes and the fact that some employees don’t have access to a computer anyway, providing a hard copy is necessary. If at all possible, send a personally addressed copy to each employee (as our client does). It makes that person feel more valued.

• Link to other media. Your newsletter can be integrated with other internal communication tools. Once your newsletter is on the company intranet, you can extend features online – further photos and videos can provide extra background to newsletter stories.

• Always remember the internal newsletter, and other internal communications tools, are an important driver of the company brand.

A picture tells many thousands of customers

Friday 10th September 2010   by Stuart Bickerton

As a journalist expected to write great copy, I often went out on particular stories knowing that if I didn’t come back with a photo in my pocket (this was when pictures were made of paper) I would have failed, and miserably, writes Andy Comber, PR manager at Shropshire PR specialist matm. Good photography can turn an okay story into a great one.

One of our recent projects is a good example. RS Miller Roofing in Dudley brought an 18th Century dovecote at Chillington Hall, near Brewood in Staffordshire, back to life in spectacular fashion. It was an impressive project. And the pictures taken for us by photographer Paul Watkins showed it off to the full. He uses a remote controlled helicopter or a telescopic mast to get excellent aerial shots.

Front page splash for RS Miller Roofing

Roofing Magazine gives RS Miller two page spread

We offered the story and pictures to Roofing Magazine, the industry’s No 1 publication and the first reaction was: “What great pictures!” So great, that the image was used on the July/August front page and more in the two page spread inside (and this was not an advertorial). I like to think the copy was great too, but getting the images right can make all the difference.

A small flame creates a burning global issue, viewpoint from a Shropshire PR agency

Wednesday 8th September 2010   by Stuart Bickerton

Many people will view the debate generated about the threat by an American pastor to burn copies of the Quran with decidedly mixed emotions, and that’s putting it mildly, writes matm‘s PR manager Andy Comber. But you’ve got to give The Rev Terry Jones one thing, he has succeeded in creating an extremely intoxicating and ‘sticky’ story, whether he did it by design (is that intelligent?) or not.  The fact that I am bothered to write this blog entry is one more sliver of evidence of that.

It’s worth, then, wondering how an otherwise unknown leader of a tiny, tiny church in a the backwaters of Florida can trigger such global alarm, prompting the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton herself, to condemn him and implore him not to go ahead with his threat and US generals to raise serious concerns that soldiers will now die in revenge attacks.

The mechanism is, I am sure, complex. But in simple terms it is because Terry Jones has created a simple, sticky message. This is a term popularised by Chip and Dan Heath in their book, Made to Stick. I am not going to slavishly follow their model here but make some quick observations about why Terry Jones’s views represent a burning issue (sorry, last one) right now.

  • Firstly, the timing is perfect. The US has just announced the war has ended in Iraq and attention is turning wholly on Afghanstan – a war which began after the 9/11 attack in New York. And The Rev Jones has homed in on that anniversary too. So this is a hot issue in the States at a time when mid-term elections are looming.
  • Secondly it generates a strong, simple, visual image, as all the best stunts do. It’s  no accident that Hitler used the same technique.
  • Thirdly, it is controversial and polarising while remaining relevant to a wide number of individuals and groups. A debate is guaranteed, whether it goes global or not is another matter. The idea of a special Burn the Quran Day also creates a focus, allows people to belong and join in.
  • It is also a cliff hanger – will he or won’t he? The latest news reports say The Rev is still praying to God to ask if he should go ahead with the burning. As newspaper editors might say “this story’s got legs.”
  • It is also a debate fueled by social media. The last time I looked, Twitter analytics showed ‘quran’ and ‘koran’ are spiking in popularity. By my reckoning, together, they account for around 0.08% of all Tweets over the last 24 hours. That’s around 4 million messages. ‘Burn the quran’ was the 31st most popular Google search entry – generating 1.33 million searches.

Word of mouth mechanisms are complex so there will be many other triggers that played a part. There’s no need to advocate distasteful stunts to gain publicity, but there are PR lessons to learn – choose the right time, keep it simple, use strong visuals and create a message that relevant to your audience and generates a debate that people will want to share, whether it be in fun or horror.  Oh, and think twice about giving the story legs by writing about it. Well, I’ve broken that PR rule now haven’t I?

Typefaces are the clothes letters wear – viewpoint from Shropshire based designer

Tuesday 7th September 2010   by Stuart Bickerton

Love them or hate them we come across typefaces everyday, writes matm‘s Senior Creative, Lindsay Crayton. In most cases we follow corporate fonts which our clients have specified but what happens when you’re left to make the decision?

Here are some simple guidelines to get you started:

  • First impressions are important, choose something appropriate! Let’s face it Comic Sans is not as flexible or attractive as you may think.
  • Look for a typeface which has a large “family”. Roman, light, bold, italic, condensed, black, medium to name but a few. The larger the family the more flexibility you will have across a range of materials.
  • Serif or sans serif? Sans serif can be easier to read at smaller sizes and have a more contemporary feel. Serif can be seen as being more traditional, what is the look and feel you are trying to achieve?
  • Are you setting French, Spanish or Russian copy? Does your chosen typeface have all the accents that you need?

If you want to find out more, there are a number of font libraries to browse through such as www.linotype.com and www.fontshop.com.

Finally, back to my clothes reference…dress to impress, select a typeface which is fit for the occasion.

In Support of Severn Hospice

Friday 3rd September 2010   by Stuart Bickerton
matm in Support of Severn Hospice

matm in support of Severn Hospice

Matm‘s Rich Howells, Web Designer, and Tom Blockley, Senior Graphic Designer, will be donning the lycra this weekend in support of Severn Hospice for the yearly 50k bike ride in and around Telford/ Bridgnorth.

Tom has openly admitted to being “very afraid” at the prospect of seeing Rich in cycle shorts, however he feels this will be something he is willing to endure for the ‘greater good’.

We’re proud to support the work of Severn Hospice. If you’d like to join us in supporting this excellent cause please visit their website: Severn Hospice

Unveiling the Toulouse

Thursday 2nd September 2010   by Stuart Bickerton

Another fantastic masterpiece from bath specialist Victoria + Albert.

matm have been working on the new luxury brochure including this fabulous new bath

… more details soon but we thought we show you their new creation just after it’s official launch day.

Visit www.vandabaths.com/uk for further details

Shedding Light on Famous Royal Ceremony

Thursday 26th August 2010   by Stuart Bickerton

Guardsmen march under light directed from Panther powered access platforms - click to view full size

Matm’s lengthy experience of working at a wide range of events ensured we found the best possible photographer to support our client Panther, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of powered access. We knew this event was a bit different, especially when we were dealing directly with Adrian Beckett, the Colour Sergeant of the Band of the Welsh Guards.

It was clear there was a requirement to meet the very highest standards, in terms of technical performance and safety, expected at such a prestigious event. We made sure that our photographer was fully compliant with stringent security requirements and that he could gain access to all the areas needed – we hope you agree that he came back with a stunning shot?

New Price Lists for Victoria + Albert

Tuesday 24th August 2010   by Stuart Bickerton

Victoria & Albert UK price list

Bath Specialist Victoria + Albert has taken delivery of its suite of price lists from Shropshire design agency matm (yes, that’s us).

The price lists detail the company’s range of beautifully-designed volcanic limestone baths, basins and accessories and have been designed for simple, clear referencing.

So whether you speak Italiano, Deutsch, Nederlands, Español, Français, Polski, Ruski or even Australian, Victoria + Albert has a price list for you, and maybe a bath or two.

The skill of the illustrator still has a place at matm

Monday 16th August 2010   by Stuart Bickerton
Wildlife illustrations by Mark Foster

Wildlife Illustrations via Shropshire based design agency matm

Here’s a sneak preview of some images we’re working on for a client presently.

We’ve been commissioned to design a leaflet for a popular country park. We’re working with illustrator Mark Foster to create a number of wildlife illustrations to really bring the brochure to life.

It’s always important to adopt a style appropriate to the subject. We’ll let you see a few more when we have them.

Subtle Illustrations of Shropshire Tile Landmarks

Thursday 5th August 2010   by Neil Dicken

Much Wenlock IllustrationsWhen Much Wenlock Festival were looking for a series of building illustrations for their Tile Trail leaflet – matm produced a number of simple interpretative drawings of famous Shropshire landmarks.

Neil Dicken, Designer commented “There is nothing worse than picking up a leaflet, to find inside a map that has so much information that you really don’t know where to look first. More often than not it is the choice of imagery that makes a map confusing; the contrast of colours, and the varied size and shapes. A simple and effective way to combat such a problem is to use a simple illustrative style that unifies all the different locations.”

Welcome to the Juice

Thursday 29th July 2010   by Eliza Kaniewska

Hello and welcome to The Juice. It’s an insight into our work here at matm.

We will show you what we are doing and, when it’s right to do so, who we work for.

We’ll explain our thinking, how we go about our work, what expertise, knowledge, creativity and values we bring to bear for our clients.

We’ll also share ideas we glean from other experts and thought leaders about marketing, design and PR.

We also aim to tell you about us, as people, as professionals and as a team. How we might work together with you to help your business grow and prosper.

The Juice will also be a place to have some fun. We want it to be refreshing, bright, sharp and to the point and pleasurable all at the same time.

Finally, we want it to be a place to share ideas. So please join in the discussion. We’d love to hear from you.