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.”

FULL ARTICLE HERE

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

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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.