I was incredibly honoured to be asked to give guest lectures at the Royal Agricultural University in November, not once, but twice. As a country and equestrian PR and marketing consultant and business coach, my skillset fitted the needs of two of the courses running. I have to say that I genuinely love teaching and working with people (hence the sidestep from straight equestrian PR and marketing to a mix of this and business coaching over a year ago). The one to one equestrian and small business coaching I do helps me with this enormously, but there’s something about being face to face with a room full of people and chattering away to them.
What was the lecture about?
Both of the lectures at the Royal Agricultural University were about PR, marketing and social media. The second one focused more around where I do most of my work, so I’ll focus on this. This lecture, which was a mix of a group lecture and then working with the individual groups, was all about PR, marketing and social media. In essence, how you get the world to know about your product or service. So right up my street. It’s amazing to see how much things have moved on since I started doing this job actually, and speaking to the students really does confirm this. It’s also amazing to look at what additional opportunities are available now, because of how digital and social the world is. But that’s another story.
Not only did we look at some of the amazing stats surrounding the world of social media (and when you start talking about BILLIONS of users of anything, I think that’s pretty incredible to be honest!), but also at how some of the business ideas have a more mainstream angle too. I think that’s a really important point. A lot of my clients are predominately equestrian or country or canine, but so many have a mainstream connection too. If you’re making accessories for dogs, looking slightly outside true canine is a very good plan, because of the sheer number of homes that have dogs. A piece of jewellery, even if designed with equestrians in mind, can have a much more mainstream place in the hearts of people too. And all of this while maintaining the brand’s core values. Just because you could promote what you do in another area doesn’t necessarily mean you should. And sometimes you should, but it’s part of the long term plan.
What happened in the individual groups?
Getting under the skin of businesses really makes me tick as I start to see exactly what’s going on, the USPs and what opportunities are there. This might mean exploring the story behind why a brand or product was created and how we can translate that into column/web page inches/social media campaigns. It could be where a product is sourced. Or its design. Or where the profits go. It could be the ‘scratch’ the product is trying to ‘itch’. What problem is it solving? What thinking is it tapping into? And how can we make sure that, as a business, we are letting people know about this information? You really don’t score any points for keeping products secret (well, not if they’re ready for sale and you actually want to sell them!). I LOVE this side of things. And speaking to the groups was SO interesting. There was a real mix of business ideas coming through and some superb marketing and promotional ideas. As with all clients, I never dictate. I listen to ideas and learn a huge amount (hopefully adding information and ideas to refine and improve!) as well as throw new ideas in the mix, so it was a really exciting session. Lots of brainstorming, lots of ideas, lots of note taking.
So what happens now?
The last class of students I had the pleasure of working with are creating business plans and presentations for a ‘Dragons’ Day’ later this month, as part of their final year’s studies. I’ve been part of this event for, gosh, I think the last four years, and I absolutely love it. I work with two or three other experts in their field and the students have their business plans and ideas critiqued. There’s always a numbers wizard (accountant!) last year’s was Ed Jenner, and I have sat next to Phil Duff (Phil’s quite impressive… not that I tell him that!) on each panel too. Phil is best known for the Ariat brand in the UK, but he has many more strings to his bow. I’m honoured and excited to be part of this year’s panel too. And I’ll make sure I let you know how it goes after the event.
To find out about last year’s Dragons’ Day, you can have a catch up here!