What to be someone’s sponsored rider? Have a look at our top ‘don’ts’ video!

Getting approached about sponsorship is a daily occurrence for many PRs and the companies they work with. We all appreciate that people want support, and that’s fine, what isn’t fine is how some people choose to ask for this help. Well, I say ask…it’s often more of a rude demand made in the wrong way! If you’re looking for some tips when it comes to help to approach companies about sponsorship, have a look at this video about rider sponsorship don’ts. It might just help.

 

 

 

Happy New Year!

It seems like forever since I’ve blogged on my own site…and looking at the date of my last post, that’s very much the case! The truth is that I’ve been so busy working with my clients across various media that my own ‘stuff’ seems to have taken a bit of backseat – and for those snippets of news I want to share, I write on my Facebook page…so if you’d like to hear what’s going on with my lovely bunch of clients, the Rhea Freeman PR Facebook page is your best bet! I’m hoping and planning to do more blogs this year, but as they’re usually more in-depth and ramble on (!), they take a wee bit more time! Hope to see you on the RFPR Facebook page!

I would, however, like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy, healthy and successful 2016. I do think that people put too much focus on the ‘new year, new you’ idea. If you want to change, then just crack on! If you’re looking to improve your business, spread your message, increase your profits, get more people talking about you and what you do, don’t let a silly date stop you or, worse still, put so much pressure on you that you set yourself up for a fall and become completely demoralised! If you want to have a booming business by the end of the year, then don’t wait to start promoting yourself, and don’t set yourself huge goals without thinking how you’re actually going to achieve them. It’s just depressing if you don’t have a vague plan! You don’t need to spend the national debt on ads, you can start small by getting yourself organised on social media, filming yourself or your product and posting these clips, getting a tried and tested in a magazine. Setting little, achievable goals is more do-able, a hell of a lot easier, and forms a great foundation to build a more joined up campaign. So, if this New Year is all about building yourself a better, bigger business, remember that there are very few overnight successes…but there are many perceived overnight success stories that have come from years of hard work!

How to survive a horse trials!

I was planning to write this blog before Badminton Horse Trials but, with a number of clients exhibiting at the event and lots of exciting things to tell the press about, as normal, my blog got knocked down the priority list! That said, this blog, all about how to survive a horse trials, is now written with a fresh appreciation of the kit you really should pack in your bag to ensure you have the best time possible.

Now, just to be clear, although the title may suggest I’m not a fan of horse trials, it couldn’t be further from the truth. I love going to horse trials with Badminton and Blenheim definitely at the top of my list. They’re quite different to each other, so I’m not saying which I like the most…it wouldn’t be fair (!).

Onto the serious matter of how to survive and thrive at a horse trials…here are my top tips.

1. Get organised. In order to arrive at a reasonable time without stressing yourself out, it’s best to get organised at least the day before. This year I took my dog Jam with me, so in addition to tickets, money, maps and more, I also had to remember her breakfast, her two leads, poo bags and waterproofs in case it rained.

2. Maps. Not just for getting there, but for the show itself. I had a number of clients to see at Badminton, so I printed out a map of the tradestands and marked where I needed to go. This may sound a little too organised, but some of these tradestand villages are HUGE, and if there are some stands you really want to see, it’s worth printing out a map, finding the stand numbers and marking on where you want to go. Honest.

If you’re planning to walk the XC course, especially on a non-XC day, consider printing out a map of here too. I didn’t this year, walked a good way…and realised I’d missed most of the XC course. Not a huge problem, but a little annoying!

3. Drinks. Yes, make sure you take a bottle of water with you/be prepared to buy at the show and drink it! It’s very easy to forget to drink when you’re taking in what’s going on and having fun…but the headache you’ll get and general feeling of being less than 100% that follows isn’t ideal. I’m not saying you should only drink water as there are some fab drinks places around the shows, and this year the lovely Hiho Silver offered their customers tea or coffee on the stand in stunning Doris & Co mugs. Very well received by everyone.

4. Food. Yes, you’re going to have to eat! You can tackle this in a few ways: 1) you can stop at a supermarket and take advantage of a meal deal 2) you can pack a lovely picnic of your favourite things 3) you can make the most of the food stands and tents and sample all the delicious food available. I tend to do a mixture of one and three, just because then, when it’s 10.30 and I’m starving and in the middle of something, I can eat the food I have stashed away…ready to enjoy the food tent later.

5. Comfortable boots. It’ll depend on the weather, obviously, but boots are good…and for god’s sake make sure they’re comfortable. If you’re thinking of wearing heels (it’ll be in a field, come on!), flip flops (seriously?!) or anything similar, THROW THAT IDEA AWAY. YOU’VE LOST YOUR MIND. Even on a warm day, you’ll be dealing with long grass (if you walk the XC) and maybe mud/dirt in the shopping village. And you’ll be deal with other people. When someone in their size 12s treads on your foot, you’ll be pleased you’re not wearing beach wear!

6. Ready for all weathers. I was very, very lucky at this year’s Badminton, but it can often be a mixed bag, If it’s warm, put a lightweight waterproof in your bag and, if it’s cold…make sure you coat has waterproof qualities. Or take a brolly…but be aware of taking people’s eyes out as everyone runs for cover in the shopping village.

7. Car parking. I always take a picture of where I leave my car – obviously including some point I can refer to (not just the car). Having temporarily lost a car in a large car park once before it’s pretty important for me!

8. Backpacks. They might not be the most elegant of bags, but a backpack can be worth its weight in gold. As I said, I took a dog this year, and it was very useful being ‘handsfree’…well, from the bag at least. It also means that you’ll stay balanced, as I’ve been unbalanced with bags before, and it really does make everything ache after a while!

 

I’m sure I’ve missed some tips, but these are definitely the top ones that come to mind. Obviously the whole point of going to events is to have a good time…and the tips about should help you do this!

‘What’s the best bit of your job?’

I was lucky enough to be invited to give a talk to a group of students about PR, marketing and social media a couple of weeks ago. It’s always nice to talk to the industry’s future movers and shakers, and despite showing them the new Money Supermarket advert to illustrate a point, I think it all went rather well.

I like my talks or lectures to have an interactive quality, because I always find that I get the most out of events I go to if I can get involved in someway, even if it’s just asking a question. I always want the people I’m chatting away to to get something really useful out of what I’m telling them (even if it is just the link to a crazy advert on the TV), and I feel that giving people the chance to interact and comment is a good way to do this. At the end of my lecture, I asked: ‘Ok, does anyone have any questions about what I’ve been talking about?’. There was silence. I don’t really like silence. ‘Anyone?!’ I said. One person said: ‘well, actually, I have a question about you – what’s the best bit of your job?’. I wasn’t really expecting that as a question, so started the answer with my obligatory ‘ummmmmm’…

There’s a time and a place to think about this, and probably in front of a group of students in a university lecture room isn’t either, but as I was asked, well, I was in the thick of it. The thing is, it’s actually a very difficult question for me to answer. There are LOTS of aspects of the job I enjoy. I love working with likeminded, pro active people. I love looking at new products and ooing and cooing, giving opinions and contributing towards the design. I like the satisfaction of a job well done. I like the buzz I get when I can help people achieve their goals. These are all true…but they’re all a bit expected, aren’t they? I thought a bit more, and do you know what I think the bit I most enjoy is? It’s seeing people that I work with do well. It’s seeing a campaign work well. It’s seeing a great product fly off the shelves. It’s seeing a deserving company get the recognition it should from appreciative emails or even making it through to finalist stage in a prestigious awards…or better still, winning. And the best bit for me is helping them to achieve this. Even in a small way. PR people should help to highlight the best bits of a business…but there has to be a good business there at the start!

I’m lucky in that I work for a number of companies who tick all the boxes above, who make working with them a joy. One of these companies is Trilanco. Trilanco is the UK’s largest animal health and equine wholesaler, and twice winner of the BETA Trade Supplier of the Year Award. Most recently, they’ve made it through finalist stage in two categories of the Red Rose Awards, an awards set up to celebrate Lancashire businesses. Trilanco is modest. It doesn’t thrust its successes in the faces of others…I sometimes think that without me saying ‘we really should tell someone about this’ that they’d keep more things quiet. This isn’t a criticism at all, on the contrary, in my eyes it proves more than ever their worthiness. The team don’t sit there, pat themselves on the back and pop their feet up to enjoy the glow of their latest achievement. They smile and just crack on with further improvements in the quest to be bigger and better than they are. See, that’s something to be proud of, and being part of something like this is the best bit of my job.

Find out more about Trilanco here.

One of the new made-to-order nosebands, the Elastic Grackle.

It’s worth waiting for…made to measure bridlework that’s ‘worth it’!

As you may know, I work with a number of lovely companies who make entirely brilliant products…and the one that I’m going to talk about today is Kate Negus Saddlery. See, Kate Negus Saddlery isn’t a normal saddlery. First of all, it’s entirely British, which is something that’s not common nowadays. Julia (KN’s MD), designs the products in Wiltshire, the leather is tanned in Yorkshire and the beautiful new bridles, breastplates and leather accessories are made in Walsall. At Kate Negus Saddlery you can buy ANY piece on its own. You want a keeper? That’s fine. How about a new clip for your breastplate? Yep…that’s fine too. You name it. The company is known for being very accommodating to all its customers, and the new range of nosebands really pushes this point. See, Julia is excellent at listening to what her customers want and acting on this. But as anyone who’s in business will know, just because one person wants something doesn’t mean that the rest of the population will too. Sadly. What do you do with these people? Well, you do your best to help them is what. One of Kate Negus’s unique selling points is that it can make products to order…so if you’re looking for something a bit random, or you need an ‘odd’ size, Kate Negus is the place to come.

One of the new made-to-order nosebands, the Elastic Grackle.

One of the new made-to-order nosebands, the Elastic Grackle.

We got chatting about made to order products, you know, the type people would have to wait for…would it work? When people need a new item, do they want it as soon as possible and time is the only factor? The answer is actually no. We decided to ask Kate Negus Saddlery’s Facebook fans what they thought – the question was, would they wait three weeks for a made to order item. The answer was an overwhelming yes. And do you know why? It’s the quality. Kate Negus’s leatherwork is beautiful. It’s bespoke because you choose the size and style of all the parts when you order. With correct care, it’ll last years and years and years…and then some. Super cob Marilyn has a beautiful Leather Lined Padded International Flash with Diamante Browband and X-Suregrip Reins and it’s really out of this world. Quality and service are two aspects of the brand that are always emphasised because they’re second to none. But what’s really, really great is that Kate Negus’s loyal fans really get that too. And by ‘get’, I mean understand. They’re happy to wait because they know that what’s coming is worth waiting for. They know that it’s going to fit their horse perfectly. They know that it will get to them in a timely fashion. They know that they can adjust bits and have their new bit of kit exactly how they want it.

In a world where everything is required now if not sooner, it’s lovely and reassuring to know that the horsey lot at least still appreciate quality.

Find out more about Kate Negus Saddlery here.

Help for sponsored riders

A little while ago, I offered a Skype session to help the End of Season Event fundraise for a great cause. The ‘offer’ was an hour’s Skype consultation to help anyone with their PR, marketing, social media, website, blogging, video production… whether they were just starting out in the industry, had an established business they needed help with or were a rider interested in how to be more attractive to sponsors. The lot was won and I’m looking forward to helping the lady who bagged the session…but it got me thinking…is this kind of service something that riders could benefit from?

I’ve written a couple of blogs about sponsorship and sponsored riders, both of which were based on my personal experiences. I stand by everything that I said in these blogs. I truly believe it’s the rider’s job to be attractive to the company…and it annoys and disappoints me each time I receive a Facebook message on a page I admin with the SAME recycled copied and pasted information that has about as much appeal as a gone off tuna sandwich (I don’t like tuna anyway, so gone off tuna is a whole lot worse!). Now, don’t get me wrong, I do work with some good sponsored riders who seem to get it. They have a website, they come to ME with ideas (I love that, it makes me very, very happy), they send me information that I can use on social media for my clients, they respond promptly. The key aspect here is that we work together. I know what my clients want to achieve and I work with a rider to make this happen. The emphasis is on them though. I’ll do my best to keep everything ticking along, but I’m not planning to write up a blog for someone when they should have done it. Why should I? I’ll edit it, I’ll pop in the links, I’ll sort out the images, I’ll do all the work for my client, but I should NOT be creating the content too…that’s the job of the sponsored rider. I work with a number  of different brands and a number of different riders (and have worked with many more!) and feel that presenting yourself correctly, doing what you say and knowing what the company is looking for is not just important, it’s essential. But, how would someone who hasn’t been on this side of the fence know all those things? The chances are they wouldn’t…so what can they do?

The answer is to learn. If you want to drive a car, you go for lessons. If you want sponsorship, you need to learn how it works. Most riders can’t afford a PR to hold their hand at every step of the way, but they can afford something like a Skype consultation to chat about their situation, their USP, people they could target and how they can approach them. Of course, the emphasis is, again, on the rider…but so it should be. Hand holding is fine and, let’s be honest, that’s how we all start in whatever job or hobby we do…it’s almost like the lead rein part before the real fun begins. So, here’s my idea. Would a service that provides riders looking for sponsorship with the info they need to get started be of use? I’ll be honest, I’ve toyed with this idea before, but I was chatting to someone a little while ago who said ‘yes, that’s a great idea and very much needed’, and I’ve been letting the idea…what’s the word…percolate…for a while. So, here’s my offer. If you’re a rider, producer, event, yard or similar looking at how to make yourself and your business more appealing, I’d like to hear from you. I’m thinking about pricing and exactly what a package would involve/need to involve…but your input would be very, very useful…and there might even be a discount in it for you…please drop me an email at rhea@rheafreemanpr.co.uk and let’s get chatting!

How to make your BETA International even better!

We’re fast approaching BETA International 2015, THE equestrian trade event where the good and great of the equestrian world gather to see what’s going on in the trade…and what we can look forward to over the coming months. It takes place at the NEC in February and although there’s often snow (or if not actual snow, the threat of it), it’s a fun, warm, busy event that always leaves me a mixture of exhausted and excited.

Whether you’re going as an exhibitor, a retailer or a member of the trade, you will come away with something, whether it’s an idea, excitement about a new innovation, a new contact, or a list of products that you want to stock. Many retailers use BETA International as the place to place their orders for the coming season as manufacturers use the show to showcase what’s coming up. Many stands also have some cracking show offers to save money. Actually, attending the show is likely to save you a few pounds as instead of travelling all over the country to see suppliers, they’re all under one roof…a few feet away from each other.

I’d call myself a seasoned BETA International attendee. I go each year to support my clients who exhibit, to catch up with magazines, to see what’s coming up in the trade, to network, to catch up with friends and to be inspired. For those who are new to BETA International, whether it’s the first time they’ve attended as a visitor or the first time they’ve taken a stand, I have a few top tips…obviously some of these apply more to stands than visitors and visa versa…

* Footwear – yes, footwear is important. Even if you’re on a stand all day and not marching around the halls, your feet will ache. Actually, everything will ache. Wear comfortable footwear. Honestly. You’ll regret it if you don’t.

* Hydrate – I don’t know what it is about the NEC, but I always end up with a dry throat and feeling a bit ‘urgh’ towards the end of the day. I blame the air con. And the near constant chatting. So make sure you’re armed with a bottle or water at all times. Yes, it’s not terribly ‘PR’ to be drinking water rather than champagne but a) the Ab-Fab champagne swilling persona isn’t true…and if you find a PR that’s partially drunk a 12noon on a Sunday, they probably aren’t the kind of person you want to work with b) water doesn’t make you feel odd (as per alcohol and caffeinated drinks..well, after the sixth one) – it helps enormously and is very easy to come by c) BETA International can be a bit of a marathon as there’s always so much to see and you’ll be walking miles in the day…water is the way forward. Honest.

* Lip salve – lip balm, lip butter, whatever it’s called, take some with you. Again, I think the air con’s to blame, but my lips always dry out…and a bit of lip balm/salve fixes it.

* Plan – get your ticket before BETA International. It’s a trade only show, so consumers can’t attend, but if you fit into one of the categories, you should be OK. You need to register here.

* Take in the fashion show – there really is nothing like it. If you enjoy people dancing around with whips, it’ll be right up your street.

* Take a notepad and somewhere to keep business cards safe – you will be given various business cards from people, and losing them is SOOO annoying. You can get little business card holders, or just take a notepad and staple the business card of the person you’ve been dealing with to the top of your page.

* Bags – there’s no doubt that you’ll collect leaflets and promotional material as you go around…so take a comfortable, easy to carry bag…and be careful about what you take. One year I was given a HUGE paper bag from a company. I ambled off, very pleased about it and what could be inside it and you know what…it was empty. Completely empty. I quickly binned it. It might also pay to sit and sift through your gathered leaflets and brochures a few times during the day to give you the chance to get rid of the stuff you don’t need and reduce everything into one bag. You’ll thank me for this tip when your fingers are not sore and red and you STILL have to walk back to the car. Honest.

* Phone – your phone is a useful asset…although not always in the way you think. Yes, you can make calls on your phone, but, in my opinion, that’s secondary to this. Take a picture of where you’ve parked your car and the car park you’re in. After losing the car for the best part of an hour in the pouring rain a few years ago, I always take a picture of it and the car park sign that’s the closest.

* Have a plan – use the BETA International website (www.beta-int.com) to plan who you want to see before you get there. All the exhibitors are listed, so you can see who you HAVE to see and then make another list of who you’d like to see. I’m 99% sure that there’s a floorplan in ETN’s February issue, which is a HUGE help. Or you can pick up a copy of ETN/BETA International guide when you get there.

* Do you need to make an appointment? Some companies are obsessed with appointments, especially if you want to see a particular person at a company. Drop them an email/call them before BETA International to see how they’re working this year. If you need to book appointments, make sure you don’t book them too close together, give yourself some breathing room in between. This means that if you get stuck into something, you don’t have to run half way through and, if you have time to spare, you can take in some more of the show/refill at the cafe before your next appointment.

* Tell your customers – if you have a stand at BETA International make sure EVERYONE knows. Put it on your website. Put it on your social media platforms. Send out a newsletter about it. Paint a herd of cows to show you’re going (OK, do NOT do the latter if they’re a) not your cows and b) the paint is not suitable for cows). MAKE SURE PEOPLE KNOW.

* Offer an incentive – if you’re at BETA International, offer an incentive for people to come and see you on your stand. It could be a corking show offer, it could be entry into a competition in exchange for a business card, it could be something completely off the wall and interesting, it could be sweets. Whatever you do, do something. Saying ‘we’re here’, isn’t good enough. If you’re launching a new product, tell people.

* Speak to the press – if you’re at BETA International and you have something new and exciting to show the world, why not invite the press to your stand to see it? You could have an open invite or organise a little launch and invite whoever you want.

* Have fun – yes, it might be work, but BETA International can be great fun too. They have a fab demonstration area where you can see real horses showing off new kit. One year, War Horse was walking around the place…and one year there was a man modelling sand into a horse scultpure in one of the aisles (it was amazing actually!). See the BETA International website (www.beta-int.com) to find out what’s going on.

 

My must-see places…

* If you’re a retailer – you HAVE to go to the Trilanco stand (J7.1) as the UK’s leading wholesaler, you’d be mad not to…and they really are the friendliest bunch around.

* For your footwear needs, make sure you visit the Tuffa Footwear stand (N6.4).

* The fashion show – you HAVE to go to the fashion show…even if you can’t stay for the full event, go and see some of it.

* The New Products Gallery – full or interesting new products from established brands and new kids on the block.

It’s 2015! Happy New Year, etc. etc…

Yes, it’s 2015…and my ‘Happy New Year’ post is a bit, well, late…so sorry about that. Rest assured that although late by some 12 days, it’s a heartfelt Happy New Year!

The New Year, I think, is an interesting time. I’m not talking about New Year’s Eve when people seem to seize the opportunity to drink their body weight in alcohol and make a complete fools of themselves, I’m talking about the hopes and ‘resolutions’ that people make for the New Year. I’ve actually given this a lot of thought recently, not just as the clock struck 12 on 31st December, but in the following weeks too. I was chatting to my niece about New Year’s Resolutions at the weekend. She’s 10, but actually speaks quite a bit of sense (not all the time, just in case she’s reading this!). Her resolution was to ‘be more generally awesome’, and I have to say I kind of like that. An all encompassing ‘be a better version of you’ seemed rather good and uncomplicated. I didn’t follow up with the next question, that I’d ask any friend or even client, which is ‘and how are you going to do that then?’. See, that’s the interesting bit of the puzzle, isn’t it. The how. And, another interesting point, what stops us from ‘being more generally awesome’ on any other day of the year? Is it the thought that we can’t, or the thought that we might not, or the memories of previous things that stop us from just kicking on? New Year is a good excuse to have a vision, a plan, not just for ourselves but actually for our businesses too. But so is the start of any other day of the year. It’s a new day as much as the 1st January is a new year, isn’t it?

So, now for the how. How are you going to achieve your resolution. Let’s just take the ‘being more generally awesome’ example…because, let’s be honest, it’s a pretty great resolution to have. How can you be more awesome? How can your business be more awesome? And what does that mean to you? Would being more awesome involve stressing less? Getting more done in day? Having a plan? Being less tied to the desk and more free to enjoy your life? Is it getting the work/life balance fixed? For your business is it getting more people to know about you? Is it having a plan for your social media? Is it going to more events? Is it selling more product? When you’ve narrowed down what you want to achieve, it’s easier to pull out the threads and see how you can achieve this. If you need help, in whatever aspect of your life or business, whether this is PR support or even how to make your iPhone receive emails when you’re out and about or how to manage your stress levels, then crack on and do it. We all need a little help sometimes. It might be that a Youtube tutorial fixes it. It might be that you need to employ the help of an expert or consultant in some field. It might mean that you have to change habits and form new ones…and that takes some doing.

So, here’s to a New Year where we can all be more ‘generally awesome’…