23/09/2011

By Louise Findlay-Wilson, Creator of PrPro and Owner of Energy PR

“How do I look?” It’s a question most of us ask of ourselves at least every day as we do a quick check in a mirror before heading out the door to work, that meeting or a party.

Yet, when it comes to our businesses, we don’t seem to take the same care. Why?

During the summer holidays I had the misfortune to visit cafes, restaurants, a small family supermarket, a mobile phone shop and one family attraction, all of which could have done with the business owner seeing their business as the customer sees it. If they had, some would have increased staff levels, others would have sacked or retrained people, systems would have been changed, hygiene stepped up, and ideas generally bucked up! This observation isn’t confined to small independent businesses. I’ve visited Oxford’s BHS with my daughter when she was younger and on the hunt for something in the ‘Tammy Girl’ section and thought if Philip Green had the misfortune to wander into this store he’d have a fit!

Calling In

It’s not just our physical presence that needs a check once in a while. I often suggest clients ring into their businesses through the switchboard rather than rely on speed-dial or mobiles to reach colleagues. That way they can check if switchboard staff answer the phone correctly and with enthusiasm. Do they pronounce the company name correctly? (You’d be amazed how many don’t!) Do they put you through to someone’s voicemail without warning? Do they sound reluctant to take a message? Is your ‘hold music’ good, or an odd fit with your brand?

Twitter etc

Let’s not forget social media. When you look at yourself as a stranger might on twitter how do you look? It’s a really useful exercise to search for yourself once in a while, rather than to simply automatically log in. You get a more meaningful snapshot of your twitter activity than any Klout score will give you. Your twitter profile and pic are probably fine as you no doubt took some care with them when you set your account up, but what does your twitter stream look like? Is it packed with you simply broadcasting stuff that you are determined to ram down peoples’ throats, or are you engaging and interacting with others? Are your tweets an interesting mix or a predictable blast? Are you conveying the personality of your business brand? What about followers and people you are following? Do you look like you’re playing the ‘you follow me and I’ll follow you’ game?

Moving from twitter for a moment, you probably set up your LinkedIn profile years before your twitter profile. How long is it since you refreshed it? Does it succinctly get across your key areas of expertise plus a bit of personality? Is your photo still up to scratch? Is it a strong close-up? Does it still look like you – crucial if you are actually going to meet those useful new contacts you hope to make on LinkedIn!

Lastly, what about when you search for yourself or your business on Google, what comes up? What impression do the results give?

I could go on but you get the gist.

Conclusion

It’s often a rude shock to catch an unexpected reflection of ourselves in a shop window. But in business it is vital to see ourselves as others truly see us, just to check that it’s a fair reflection of what we’re capable of. After all, if it isn't, we CAN do something about it.


Follow Louise on twitter www.twitter.com/louisefw

If you are looking for a PR agency or want to do your own PR, contact Louise Findlay-Wilson on 01993 823011 or one of her businesses.

For training and tools so you can DIY PR visit www.prpro.co.uk

If you are looking for a PR agency visit www.EnergyPR.co.uk


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