When it comes to seeking investment; it’s no secret that it’s fairly competitive out there; whether you are the Greek government, the US government or a blue-chip company, fighting to get the best deal from investors has never been harder. There is still money there to be borrowed, but if you can’t convince the investors that you are a safe investment then you’ll struggle to get the deal you want.
The Greek government’s borrowing rates are at eye-watering levels (it’s not even worth quoting what they are as they’ll probably be higher by the time you read this) and Ireland, Portugal and even Italy are similarly troubled. The IPO market hasn’t exactly been booming in the last 12 months either but there are still some companies keen to come to market. According to Reuters; the $700 million Groupon floatation “opened the IPO window a crack earlier this month and now companies, including Yelp Inc, Angie’s List and even social-gaming giant Zynga, are climbing through it, too”. So while this may not be the start of a new flood of IPOs it does show that there are investors out there willing to put money into a business when they think it’s got some potential (the Groupon IPO was one of the biggest internet deals for years). In fact one thing the UK banks have been saying in recent months is that they want to lend to businesses but there just aren’t the opportunities for them to do so (this line has obviously come under fire from their critics who claim they are reluctant to take the risks at the moment).
So what can those seeking investment do to improve their chances of success? One answer is to simply stand out. While we don’t teach delegates in training sessions to meet investors dressed as clowns or enter the meeting by abseiling through the window (this last idea does seem to be one that Richard Branson can’t stop himself from doing), we do ask that the people we train do everything they can to stand out from their competition. Rather than gimmicks or stunts this, of course, usually means identifying the basics required (in presentations and Q&As particularly) and then getting these right – the truth is that if you can do this then you will likely already be a step ahead of the competition.
Analysts and fund managers sit through a huge number of company presentations searching for either the golden nugget that will boost their cash or perhaps just the reassurance their investment is safe. Chances are they’ve heard the same lines, in the same corporate jargon a hundred times, so speaking in plain English about the goals, values and strengths of your business is key, as is making sure you grab their interest. Giving them the evidence, illustrations, facts and figures (without drowning them in detail) will not only help to bring your story to life, thus getting it remembered, it will back-up and support your case, and in this environment, anything you can do to ‘bullet-proof’ your messages will make a world of difference.
Particularly in the next 12 months, companies who are in front of potential investors can’t risk winging it. With funding likely to be that bit more difficult to find, it’s going to be more important than ever before to make sure senior teams are prepared and ready to tackle anything a cynical analyst will throw at them – after all, you never know, you might not get a second chance – just ask Papandreou.
Written by Will Edwards – www.bluewoodtraining.com – November 2011
Used correctly and to its full advantage, social media is something to be embraced by a business. 37.4 million UK adults use Facebook regularly, 15.5 million UK adults are on Twitter and 7.9 million of them use LinkedIn. The amount of people that can be reached for a relatively small cost cannot be anything other than good news, and the benefits can be fruitful.
However, with more and more stories hitting the press of social media failings where companies are left a little red faced, businesses are starting to become afraid of social media channels. When FERMA (Federation of European Risk Management Associations ) surveyed executives about their concerns in the digital space, they found that the main fears surrounded potential damage to companies reputations. Michel Dennery, a vice president at FERMA said “Companies have to learn how to live in this new environment where information is available immediately anywhere, where private and professional life is merging, and where the balance of authority is shifting”.
It is easy to see why some businesses may be worried. Stories of social media bloopers are widely publicised but don’t forget the success stories are out there which just don’t make as gripping a headline…. Take the Telegraph and its website’s live Twitter stream for example. One of their correspondents had a row over the news-desks amendment of his story on the Libyan government working with Western governments, which very publicly spilled onto Twitter. Journalist Rob Crilly’s tweets got progressively more irate until he posted a tweet that hit the headlines: “Neville Dean is a ****”. Public disputes between colleagues via Twitter are never good for a large newspaper, but what made this one extra special was that the Telegraph had decided to open up its newsroom by having a live feed from its Twitter account streamed onto its website. Lesson one: don’t make a feature out of something you can’t control.
For lesson two, let’s turn to the company Chapstick. The company posted on Facebook a picture of an advertising campaign featuring an image of a young woman searching for a Chapstick down the side of the sofa with her rear in the air. The image caused offense to some who posted comments about the advert being sexist on the company Facebook page. Instead of responding to the negative feedback, Chapstick panicked and did exactly what they shouldn’t do – deleted the negative comments. This certainly didn’t sooth the already sore lips of its customers and resulted in even more outrage at their opinions being disregarded. Chapstick did then follow up with an online apology but the damage had been done. For more social media nightmares take a look here – but don’t let these put you off!
If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon it can appear daunting and confusing but a business cannot afford to let the opportunity roll by. Social media is here to stay. The best thing is to make sure you are fully prepared. Get to know the social media channel that’s right for you and draft processes and guidelines to help staff use social media and manage a crisis (before it happens!). Don’t forget our Bluewood Training social media course can help….. Drop us an email or tweet for further information.
Written by Megan – www.bluewoodtraining.co.uk – November 2011
With video becoming one of the most favoured forms of online media communication channels, it’s time to dust of that hair brush and get your senior executives practicing in front of the mirror. As the recently published research from Hitwise details, in the UK alone a giant 184 million hours a month are spent watching videos on YouTube. From a business point of view, the chance to reach that large an audience via just one video is too good an opportunity to be missed.
Through using a video clip on your website or externally on a hub like YouTube, you can share your business story more widely. In experimenting with video, companies can make their websites more accessible to the general public, explain complicated concepts and extend the time people spend viewing their site. Video can even be a useful way of breaking up pages of text and keeping the content of a site fresh and personal. Once the presenter is trained to express themselves on camera, making a video is relatively easy to do and can be a cost effective communication method – our sister company Sterling Film Production can help with your video or just some advice on the topic.
As ever, there are plenty of examples from the celebrity world of how not to do online video. Take the personalities who share odd, rambling rants using personal web cams on YouTube – you have to pity their publicist… Charlie Sheen and Ashton Kutcher being prime examples. Recently, Ashton Kutcher decided to use YouTube to share his “truth” after claims of sex scandals hit the press. However, instead of clearing the air, he just inflamed media coverage of his situation by over-sharing with millions of viewers without thinking about his actions or message first. His scruffy appearance and odd musings didn’t help his case at all.
Web video has historically been ruled by the insane, obscene, cute and fame hungry: but don’t let this put you off. Don’t forget the huge audience your business can reach by participating in online video and have a quick look at competitors and peers in your sector for inspiration. See how they share insight, give users interesting content and engage viewers in debate via the comments section. Take a look at Mashable.com writer Zachary Sniderman’s top tips for companies getting into video for further hints and tips.
Presentation training is essential: not only in making videos but to those who may find themselves being filmed dealing with press and on television. Everyone walks into a meeting, press conference or event with a film camera (and dictaphone!) in their pocket via their mobile phone. Make sure your business doesn’t get caught out by ensuring your senior team are confident and “on message”. It is important that those on camera are comfortable about putting across the right message: don’t forget a bad interview or video clip can spread like wildfire thanks to the web. Why not invest in some presentation training with Bluewood today and avoid any bloopers for your business? Drop us an email with any questions about how we can prep you and your team for that all important spotlight.
Written by Megan – www.bluewoodtraining.co.uk – November 2011
With 52 shopping days left until Christmas, the Toy Retailers Association have announced its predictions for the top 12 must-have toys this Christmas, which included the ultimate lightsaber.
This means it’s also time to start thinking about preparing your personal brand for the coming festive season and making sure you take advantage of all the networking opportunities available. Although Christmas is generally a time companies wind down, it also provides the perfect time to get ahead in business. So why not get a networking plan ready along with your list for Santa…..
What do you want for Christmas?