PR Interview with Chris Lewis, Director, Clareville Communications
Chris Lewis, director at Clareville Communications, gives an insight into B2B PR, the agency’s IMEX campaign, and persuading clients to value online and social media.
About the agency
As head of Clareville’s B2B division, can you list some of the agency’s most well-known B2B clients and what sectors they are in?
IMEX – international meetings and venues exhibitions in Germany and USA, The National Franchise Exhibition and British Franchise Exhibition, World of Learning Conference & Exhibition, National Garden Gift Vouchers, Edenred – rewards and employee benefits, giftcards, Motivcom – P&MM, Filmology sales promotions, events, motivation, benefits, internal communications, customer publishing, Senator Pens, The UK Giftcard and Voucher Association and British Promotional Merchandise Association.
What is special about the agency’s approach to PR?
We are totally proactive and results-focused in our approach to client and media relations, which is our speciality. As a result, we concentrate on creating ideas that will generate media coverage.
How do you ensure your clients get the right coverage in the press?
Careful planning and targeting, producing imaginative but relevant copy and selling-in.
What is the agency’s approach to promoting high-profile B2B events?
Finding every possible news angle and exploiting them to gain coverage in all relevant trade sectors, and selling hard to generate national and broadcast coverage just before the event.
Tell us specifically about your account with IMEX America, the soon-to-be-launched trade show. What campaign do you have planned?
It is an extension of a global year-round IMEX campaign that we have been running for nearly ten years, originally for the IMEX in Frankfurt. The focus on North America requires a specific approach and knowledge so we have recruited an experienced local practitioner, set up in an East Coast office.
What is the best coverage you’ve achieved for a client?
We have a good record of gaining coverage for various clients in national and broadcast media. A very good example, the best I can recall now, came in 2009 – interviews on BBC Breakfast TV, The Today Programme and Radio 5 Live (twice!) on the opening morning of The British Franchise Exhibition.
What has been the biggest challenge for the agency?
In the last two years it has been persuading clients to recognise the importance and value of online, digital and social media and its integration with traditional PR and media. Several companies have now embraced this and are working with us on content and engagement.
What can you offer to journalists seeking a story on one of your clients?
Fast, pithy, incisive and relevant answers, provided the client is available.
How do you build and maintain strong relationships with journalists?
Keeping in touch and providing them promptly with well-written relevant news and opinions. Providing good ideas, copy and answers fast, not wasting their time, helps to build credibility that encourages them to keep in contact.
How do you think the PR/journalist dynamic will change in the future?
It is already becoming more remote and impersonal as email has taken over from telephone contact. This favours those who can write well, as journalists are tending to favour written communications. This trend will continue further.
How did you get into PR?
I was a B2B marketing trainee interested in journalism. I met a former regional news editor who owned a PR agency in my home town, Hull. He was recruiting an assistant to write news and features. He took me on as a trainee – 32 years ago! Since then I have worked in-house and in agencies.
How useful do you find social media?
Twitter is the fastest source of news, LinkedIn is good for recruitment and Facebook a great destination.
Do you attend networking events? If so, which are you attending soon?
Occasionally – CIPR and clients’ industry events.
What is the best bit of business advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t dwell too long on recent events, good or bad. Learn quickly from failures and successes; enjoy them, but move on rapidly to whatever is next.
[img|jpg|Chris Lewis, board director]