Ideas and opinions from the world of PR

November 22, 2018
Small Man Media

Don’t be blue by missing out on Black Friday


In the world of PR and Social PR, its rare that a manufactured moment can become a trending hashtag to get the nation talking. So when a gift-horse like Black Friday comes around, it’s an opportunity not to be missed.


We have been speaking to our clients about the impending marketing snowball that is Black Friday and have been encouraging them to capitalise on the opportunity across all social media platforms.


The history of Black Friday started much earlier than people think. In 1905, Canadian department store Eaton’s began the first Thanksgiving Day parade by bringing Santa on a wagon through the streets of downtown Toronto. In 1913, eight live reindeer pulled Santa’s “sleigh.” By 1916, seven floats representing nursery rhyme characters joined Santa in the parade.  In 1924, the Eaton’s parade inspired Macy’s Department Store to launch its famous Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City.


Macy’s wanted to celebrate its success during the Roaring twenties. The parade boosted shopping for the following day. Retailers had a gentleman’s agreement to wait until then before advertising holiday sales. The rest, as they say, is sales and marketing history.


In 2013 Asda, which is owned by American retail giant Walmart, had a Black Friday sale and offered huge discounts on a range of goods, including TVs and laptops.


The promise of ‘earth-shattering deals’ sparked mayhem as customers wrestled their way to the front of the checkout and actually traded blows over cut-price TVs.


Since then UK retailers around the country have embraced this ready-made consumer marketing and PR initiative and why wouldn’t you?


Why would you not plan and small sales promotion, where you can focus on one product or service?


Why would you not use the trending hashtags when as estimated 35 million consumers will be searching for deals, offers and information.


Why would you miss out on profiling your brand to a captive audience?


You don’t need a massive budget, just a bit of planning and setting some time aside to reach consumers. You still have time!


There is a counter argument that the whole initiative is just too ‘American’ for us stiff-upper-lip Brits, with the essence of Black Friday too brash and crass for some of us to digest. However, with High Street stores experiencing a challenging time right now, why would you not get involved? We think that there is nothing to lose if you pitch it correctly.


Even Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis has a show, blogs and his own social media hashtags all designed to point consumers in the right direction.


What’s stopping you? Get your meme out, add that hashtag to tomorrow’s status and get engaging!


Our top five tips to get involved:

  1. Create a one off sales offer. Keep it simple and focused. Either produce a discount code or %  off one product.
  2. Use free Apps like Canva or PhotoPea to help produce eye grabbing graphics or memes.
  3. Use the hashtags on your social media and make sure to interact in real time with all enquiries or comments.
  4. Add a small budget to your social media update, all only take approx. £20.00 to be really effective! If you have a physical store, why not boost your posts to a geographically targeted area?
  5. Manage your expectations. If you haven’t really thought this through, then it just wont work.
October 1, 2018
Small Man Media

“PR is like Arctic Roll…” Dan celebrates three years with Small Man Media


Sometimes, the stars align and everything falls into place. It seems like that’s what happened when I finished University. The day after my graduation, I started work at Small Man Media. Dewey eyed, ready to impress.


Despite, many desk moves, a few changing faces and many events, press releases and cups of tea later, it seemed more than appropriate to reflect on how it all began – via a lot of football chat and an eighties dessert favourite.


Let’s have our Doctor Who moment and go back in time.


I rang the bell at 6 Waterloo Road in 2015, full of intrepidation. ‘Hello Dan, lovely to meet you. I’m heading off to London for an event soon, but it’s great to meet you.’ Right, thought I, it’s time to make an impression.


One quick interview down and another to go. Build a presentation about what you think PR is and how you’d action it for our client.


Safe to say, I came up with the strangest possible idea. It really was a case of ‘breaking some eggs to make an omlette.’ How that omlette turned out was all down to what happened here!


But looking back, my kooky idea definitely sweetened my pitch up.


‘PR is like an arctic roll.’


Stunned faces. It’s like I’d told Ben and Rachel that I was the messiah. It was more disbelief than amazement. In that moment, I knew I’d bottled it. ‘What on earth is this bequiffed Dudley boy talking about?’


Let me explain… if I can.


A PR agency, like the one whose website you’re reading right now, is the strawberry jam, binding the soft cake to the sweet vanilla ice cream.


The consumer is the ice cream. They’re the sweet centre that everybody wants to get to, sometimes a little bit tougher than the other layers but the best bit nonetheless.


The cake is the client. They keep all this neat little package tied together!

Get it? I think I still do… but I’m sure I can think of better metaphors now. Press releases are like trifle? Web Design is like Crispy Pancakes? Probably not…. and it’s time to stop these strange 1980’s references.


But it worked. I’m still here, still as keen and excitable as still. Still fully of exciting, colourful and sometimes crazy ideas. Still achieving results for clients.


Lucky then that I changed my presentation from ‘Small Man Media is like Paul Scholes!’ (underrated, misunderstood and absolutely world class!)


May 9, 2018
Small Man Media

Everything you need to know about GDPR, from Small Man Media’s IT Services Partner

At Small Man Media, we like to give you advice straight from the experts to keep you and your business ahead of the curve.

With the impending GDPR worrying businesses up and down the country, our expert this week ison is Lee Marsh MCSE, MCPS, MCPSI, MCSEI, MCNPS, MCP is Owner and Managing Director of Mellow Marsh Software and has cut through the jargon to get straight to the point on GDPR!


You have probably heard about the upcoming data protection reforms which will undoubtedly affect your business.

We have been through some key details about GDPR for you and hope you may find this helpful.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is aimed at giving individuals the power to better control who can access and/or process their personal data. There have been many cases of the mis-use of or failure to take adequate steps to protect this data historically, so with the changes now required this should provide better practice all round – and as a controller or processor of data, if you do not conform, there could be serious penalties.

What is “Personal Data”?


GDPR defines “Personal data” as any information relating to a person who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to information such as a name, an identification number, location data, online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that person.

For example, identifiers including IP addresses, cookies and so on will now be regarded as personal data if they can be (or are capable of being) traced back to the person in question. It does not matter if this is information relating to a person at work, or at home, from a GDPR perspective an individual is an individual.


Firms will now have an obligation to report any potential data breaches to the authorities no later than 72 hours after the suspected incident. Notifications will have to include the nature of the situation, including categories and approximate numbers of individuals concerned – and what measures are being put in place to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

Fines and Enforcement


Failure to comply with new legislation can now carry serious repercussions.

Regulators will now have authority to issue penalties equal to the greater of EUR10 million or 2% of the entity’s global gross revenue for violations of record-keeping, security, breach notification, and inadequate preparation.

However, violations of obligations related to legal justification for processing (including consent…), data subject rights, and cross-border data transfers may result in penalties of the greater of €20 million or 4% of the entity’s global gross revenue.



Consent is a basis for legal processing of an individual’s data – in other words, there must be a genuine sound reason for possessing and processing a subject’s data, and that subject must have given explicit permission for the data to be held and processed in this specific way. For marketers in particular there has been much debate about the type of consent that might be required under this new regulation, for example, requiring people to positively ‘opt in’ to marketing requests, not positively ‘opting out’.

According to the Regulation consent means “any freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of his or her wishes by which the data subject, either by a statement or by a clear affirmative action, signifies agreement to personal data relating to them being processed;”

Consent should be demonstrable – in other words organisations need to be able to show clearly how consent was gained and when – for example, positive opting in, and freely given – a controller cannot insist on data that’s not required for the performance of a contract as a pre-requisite for that contract.

Withdrawing consent must always be possible and straight forward.

Legitimate Interests & Direct Marketing


GDPR does allow processing of data for ‘Direct Marketing Purposes’ – a legitimate interest.

Just like consenting, legitimate interest is grounds for an organisation to possess and process data.

The act says that processing is lawful if “processing is necessary for the purposes of the legitimate interests pursued by the controller or by a third party, except where such interests are overridden by the interests or fundamental rights and freedoms of the data subject which require protection of personal data, in particular where the data subject is a child.”

A good example could be sending a mailshot of goods and services that are similar to a subject’s existing purchases from the firm is legitimate without direct consent, however, obtaining a cold database of subject data and ‘profiling’ this to target customers with advertising without explicit consent from the subject (as no grounds for legitimate interest have been established) would not be permissible.

Retention & The Right to be Forgotten


When data is collected about a subject, the subject must be informed why their data is being collected and how long they can reasonably expect it to be retained for.

Should the subject wish to have their data removed and the data is no longer required for the reasons for which it was collected then it must be deleted immediately. Importantly, firms must maintain a register or similar of who they have provided this data to as well, for example, if a subject entered into a contract with a Building Firm, who use subcontractors, the subject’s data will have been passed to the subcontractors for the valid purpose of carrying out the contractual works. If a ‘Right to be Forgotten’ is invoked, then the firm has an obligation to see who the data was provided to, and subsequently contact them to ensure the data has been deleted from their systems as well.

For more information about IT Solutions, GDPR or any technology based issues for you and your business, you can speak to Lee directly on 01902 544 135 or by visiting

April 27, 2018
Small Man Media

Small Man Media – a week in words


Just one glance at the TV or smartphone will do enough to prove that a week is most definitely a long time in politics…


…Scouring those column inches will also prove that a week is a lengthy period in the world of PR too – if your name is Small Man Media, that is!


We were managing two national campaigns within 130 miles of eachother at the same time – one in London and the other in the Second City in Birmingham.


Beginning in the capital, 16 pieces of national press coverage and two more discussions on national radio represented an impressive return from the launch of London Stationery Show at the Design Centre in Islington. Social networking streams were also ruling with stationery news, with #natstatweek trending worldwide on Monday! If you all didn’t know, it is National Stationery Week too, right up until Sunday night, so we have our marker pens and rulers at the ready for any more mentions!


Over at the NEC, Bridgestone’s incredible tyre debris study was brought to life with Highways England, and our PR results did justice to the painstaking work that went into the project. Bridgestone’s field engineers spent 18 months investigating more than 1,000 tyre remains from the hard shoulders of our motorway network, in an attempt to find out the root causes of punctures on our motorways.


While a video we filmed and edited was screened to trade journalists at Highways England’s stand, a press release we wrote was sent out to the nation’s media, along with editorial photos we took in the run-up. Within hours, the Daily Mail, Independent, Express and The Sun had all ran significant online articles, not to mention Commercial Motor, Transport Engineer and the most influential trade journalists that Bridgestone are so keen to be see in.

Ever since that launch, the press coverage has been rolling in like a premium Bridgestone Ecopia tyre and we’ve been thrilled to answer a number of enquiries about the project from further afield.


Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the wheels keep turning in other ways, with some exciting announcements expected shortly. By the time that Royal baby name is announced, we should be in a position to say more!


PS: We’ve got a tenner on Albert!


Have a lovely weekend everyone!

March 12, 2018
Small Man Media

How to make the most of exhibitions – an interview with Retail Expert Henri Davis

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A new year always brings a selection of trade shows – be they stationery, gardens, crafting, food or cars! These shows are the cornerstone of any industry, with business, big or small, aiming to make buyers go ‘wow!’


For Small Man Media, trade show preparations begins in November before Creativeworld, before excitedly heading towards the Spring Fair, the Education Show, the Office Products Show and the London Stationery Show.


To celebrate, we’ve interviewed Henri Davis, renowned retail expert about her experiences of trade shows. Henri has worked in the retail industry for more than 30 years as a retailer, product developer, buyer and now an independent advisor in the stationery, greetings cards and heritage sectors!


As an expert in the industry, what would you say are the three ‘musts’ for an exhibitor?


I’ve been to shows in different guises and have tips for all sectors! As a buyer, don’t go into a show completely blind! The saying ‘Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance’ definitely stands here!


Before heading to the venue, have a shopping list with an idea of the types of products you’re looking for, themes that you want to tap into or seasons you are looking for. Everything you do must have the target customer in mind – just because you like the product, doesn’t mean the shopper coming into your store will!


Know how much you have to spend – ultimately, everything has to come back to your purse strings!




Keep in mind your sales cycles and know when you want to have the products available. This is to ensure that you don’t have everything in at once, which helps your cash flow and means you have new products to refresh your displays arriving every 4-6 weeks to keep your regulars customers interested.


However, things are slightly different from an exhibitor point of view. The show visitor must ALWAYS be at the front of your mind. Imagine coming to a show and seeing all stands looking exactly the same!


Think about how visitors will approach your stand, in terms of both of literal direction and frame of mind. Make sure the areas they see first are immediately eye catching and will make them stop and look at your range.


Your new products must be the ones that are set to shine – don’t make your layout the same as the previous year.


Don’t fill your stands with lots of small images, nobody will get close enough to see what they are and they just won’t be obvious enough. Less is more is definitely a good rule to live by! Anything that you do have on your stand needs to be easy to read and immediately obvious what you are selling.


So, we’ve asked you about the musts – what about the major no-no’s?


My one big ‘no’ from a buyer perspective might sound really obvious but I always like to reiterate it – think before you order. It may sound simple, but people always feel really pressured! Don’t order stock at a show unless you are certain it is what you want and how much you need; if you are not sure take the details away and think it through – you can always order the following day!


For exhibitors, don’t spend all your time on your phone or laptop – those emails can wait! You’ve have paid a lot of money to be there and every person who passes is an opportunity. Plus you never know which buyer is round the next corner – it could be your next order or a great new contact.


Should the focus be on the product details or how the product is used and activated by retailers?


I think it’s got to be a real mixture of both. Product details are key. People want to know how it stacks up against what they currently stock. But it’s important to show the full package.


Can they get retail units? Are there people who they can get involved with to launch in-store demos?


It’s about selling your whole package ultimately!



Are more people implementing technology in their pitches?


From what I see, I would say from a stationery perspective that the answer is no. Stationery is such a tactile product that we use every day that buyers will want to open a notebook (often their own!) to test pens or pencils. They’ll want to feel the paper and write on a notepad. From my view, technology only helps in terms of quick access to a catalogue to show full ranges and pricing details. It can extend the scope of what’s already on your stand.


How important is a coherent feel between product, messaging and stand layout?


Absolutely vital! All should all be consistent with the image that a brand wants to portray and the brand positioning for the period of the show. Ultimately, it this is an exhibitors shop front and should be treated as such.


Is pre-show messaging a vital part of an exhibition?
From experience, it often takes around six contacts with a ‘new’ product or brand before a retailer will truly engage with the idea of working with you!


Therefore, the more you can get your offering on show before an exhibition, the more likely it is a buyer will recognise it!


This messaging doesn’t have to be a week before the show either, there can be a big lead up to it.

Keep banging that drum! If there is an opportunity to get your products included in industry magazines months before a show, then you grab the opportunity. This should be supported by using social media in the week before and during a show.


From a retail buyer point of view, I do think it helps to do some preparation before a show, by tuning into the trade press and keeping abreast of exhibition news. Plan your route and timings – where will you want to spend most of your time and where you will you head if you have some extra time towards the end of your schedule?. Likewise, is there any new product that you want to see that could be a trend over the next five years? Are there any suppliers in your current stock that you could change? Do you want to know who won the awards?


Exhibition organizers are constantly increasing the content of their shows to encourage buyers to attend – this also means they’re harder to take everything in. Make sure you know who is speaking and if there is something you want to listen to!


You’ve been a part of exhibitions with retailers and as an exhibitor. What do you think retailers look for in an exhibition?
New product is the life blood for any successful retailer! As the market gets more competitive, being the first to get new products into your store or online before your competitors is vital.


I always suggest that every stand you head on ask ‘What have you got that is new?’


It is incumbent on an organiser to ensure that the exhibitors accepted to a show are going to be those with innovative products that will make the buyer go ‘wow’ or ‘I hadn’t even thought about that.’


By including new product awards as part of a shows content, organisers can help retailers identify products and suppliers that could be just what they are looking for.


Are the days of a traditional stand and leaflets gone? Is there still a place for a more ‘traditional approach’ in markets that are so saturated?
I think many buyers are still pleased to see stands with leaflets and catalogues!


Buyers are very visual people. The ability to be able to have pictures of products and in-store units to take away with them is vitally important to them.

USB sticks and websites are great but to be able to mark up a catalogue with sticky notes and comments and show your colleagues pictures in a catalogue is easier I always find. Trying to whizz them round a screen on a website is less expensive (both in time and in money!)


For me, I will take a catalogue every time if one is offered!!


Many manufacturers and companies will work with a demonstrator on their stand. What are the three most important things to look for when choosing a demonstrator?


Derwent took artist Jake Spicer to Creativeworld, who was well trainined in all things Inktense
Derwent took artist Jake Spicer to Creativeworld, who was well trainined in all things Inktense

Demonstrators need to be extremely good if they are to be an asset to your business. A poor demonstrator will reflect badly on your product, even if it’s the best product in the world.


The demonstrator must be very familiar with the product, can show how it works proficiently whilst having the ability to be able to answer questions with confidence.


If you don’t need a demonstrator, don’t have one. Your sales team can answers the questions. It’s probably best for an arts company to have on though!


Should every exhibitor look to enter an award at an Exhibition?


If they have an eligible product, absolutely! Why wouldn’t you?!


As many of the selectors are senior buyers, it’s the perfect opportunity to get your product in front of a select group who you’ve been waiting to see for months!


Plus, the fact that your product will be one of a select view increases your chance of it being seen! If the awards entry includes being shown as part of a showcase to all visitors, then even more of a reason to enter I think!


What does an award win add to your exhibition?
An award win (or simply being shortlisted) is hugely valuable as it gives you the perfect excuse to contact existing customers (plus prospective ones) with your great news! It’s also a great way to get your whole range in front of those same people.


Mustard's gorgeous Cactus Pen Pot was nominated for an award at the 2017 London Stationery Show
Mustard’s gorgeous Cactus Pen Pot was nominated for an award at the 2017 London Stationery Show


What is your favourite exhibition to attend?
In honesty, it varies from year to year and depends what I need to achieve in visiting! This might sound like a cliché, but my favourite exhibition is one that delivers great results and therefore is time well spent!


However, on a personal note, it is probably the Stationery Show. I’ve been part of this industry since 1989 and the Stationery Show is just like coming home. I know the exhibitors very well – so as well as doing good business, it is a great opportunity to catch-up with old friends.