January sees the return of elephant’s free advice days for small businesses. On 18 January Karen Waugh met a number of SMEs and a further PR day has been added for 18 April. elephant’s free advice days to small businesses forms part of its community investment programme, and sits alongside creativity awards with schools and financial support for arts and conservation projects.
With small businesses so important to the economy, elephant commissioned various pieces of research during 2012 to explore the relationship between confidence, growth and communications activity among the SME sector. The findings of research conducted among a national representative sample of 529 SMEs over the year revealed that whilst many maintained a bullish outlook, few made great use of PR and communications in promoting their business.
- 67% of SMEs could think of some form of event or media activity that would help generate interest in their business – with local newspaper and trade press news coverage seen as most useful. Set against this, only 12% of SMEs said they had secured profile in their local newspaper in the last year.
- 27% of SMEs said they planned to invest none
of their profits into marketing and PR for the business.
- Whilst 39% of SMEs had
updated their website in the last 6 months of 2012 to help generate growth,
only 13% had invested time or money in a PR campaign.
- Less than a third felt
they had the ability to write an annual PR plan for their business: less than
half felt confident writing a marketing plan.
Guy Bellamy, Managing Director at elephant commented: “Since launching elephant, the team has been passionate about having a vibrant and authentic community programme. In addition to donating 5% of our profits to good causes, we also set aside time to help others. Over the last 12 months, we have worked with a range of SMEs and aimed to give them some tips on some simple things they could do for themselves to help promote their businesses. We have experienced so much vibrancy and passion within the sector from the people we have met, it seems such a shame that many SMEs are not doing more to promote their brands via the media and other channels. If any sector needs to make full use of low cost PR in this economic climate, it’s the SME sector.”
One business start up that the elephant team met in 2012 was Cath Adam. In the final months of 2012, Cath left the corporate world and decided to fulfill her dream in setting up a bespoke jewellery business. Launching in a recession didn't put her off.Cath said, 'I'd always said one day I would set up my own business in something I adore doing, and last year proved to be the year I did it. Yes, the economic climate is tough but in many ways that can work for a small business if you have the right product and are prepared to do things differently. I met with the elephant team last year who gave me some amazingly effective ideas on how to promote my business. Some of these ideas could be done with immediate effect."
“I'm now getting emails requesting my jewellery to be stocked in boutiques and galleries, rather than, in the beginning it was me approaching them. It's great to get free access to a PR team every now and then. Whenever I come away from them, I not only leave with invaluable advice but a racing mind bulging with new ideas.”And as for the year ahead, Cath added: “This year I plan to get my product and myself 'out there' and with the help of elephant, I now have the confidence and know how to start this.”