How PR Can Benefit Your Business
by Ceri-Jane Hackling, Managing Director of Cerub Public Relations
Despite being an accepted marketing tool for decades now, PR is still misunderstood.
Often confused with advertising, people don’t really understand what a PR company does and how PR will benefit their business.
To put it in a nutshell, advertising is when you pay a publication to feature your product or service. PR is when a journalist is made aware of and chooses to feature your product or service in an editorial capacity.
There are obviously benefits to both. Advertising can be guaranteed – if you’re paying for space within a publication you know exactly what you’re getting and when. You also know exactly what’s going to appear since you wrote it!
On the other hand, if you pay £1,000 for a placement in a magazine or newspaper, you will get exactly what you pay for, no more, no less and let’s face it, when was the last time you bought a magazine to read the adverts?
PR on the other hand is a more complicated process, but we believe the benefits far outweigh those of advertising.
If you invest in PR your money will go a lot further. Your PR agency will identify the key titles you need to be seen in, and pitch your product or service to the editorial team in a way that will interest them. We read the media and find out where you need to be seen. Is it the health pages or fashion pages? Is it in the technology section or the homes pages? When we’ve done the research, we contact each of the publications to make them aware of your business, which can result in a lot more coverage. With the right approach, one product can be seen in countless publications rather than on just one page.
In addition, when readers see a product or service reviewed by a journalist, it instantly gives it credibility. People aren’t stupid, they know that when you place an advert they’re going to see the product at its best and it’s the company saying “look at this, this is great!”. When a journalist reviews a product positively however, they have no ulterior motive. They don’t get paid to write about a product in a good light, their job is to give their readers honest informative reviews.
Many companies worry that by approaching journalists with products they will receive negative reviews but most journalists are keen to inform their readers and aren’t out to be controversial.
As well as being a good way to promote products, PR can help position you as an expert in your field. By researching the issues which are affecting your industry, a PR agency can offer to submit comment, articles and contribute to features on your behalf, ghost writing articles which demonstrate your knowledge of the subject. The key to this is understanding the focus of each individual magazine and having interesting and relevant angles on topical subjects.
By understanding the media, a good PR company can ensure regular press coverage for your product or service and help to make you stand out from your competition.
Ceri-Jane Hackling is Managing Director of Cerub Public Relations (www.cerubpr.co.uk). Cerub PR was founded in 2003 to offer no-nonsense PR to ambitious, forward thinking companies. Working with companies across the UK, Cerub PR helps its clients stand out from their competition.
Tax: Advanced Payment Notices (APN) and Follower Notices (FN)
by Jacqui Fleming, partner of inTAX LLP
H M Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) latest tools in the fight against tax avoidance are Advanced Payment Notices (APN) and Follower Notices (FN). As a starting point it is worth remembering that the avoidance of tax through planning or mitigation arrangements is legal but tax evasion is not. At a time when public attitudes have turned against aggressive tax planning it is somewhat ironic that HMRC’s main targets are individuals rather than the large multi-national corporate entities. It is of course the reports in the media concerning Starbucks, Google, Gary Barlow and the like that have sparked the change in public opinion against tax avoidance, with little or no publicity given to those people who contributed their hard earned cash into what they thought were (and could possibly still be) legitimate forms of tax planning. Not much different to an ISA then?
In HMRC’s eyes Tax avoidance comes in the shape of film schemes, Employee Benefit Trusts, Stamp Duty Land Tax arrangements, disguised remuneration schemes and many other forms. Film schemes were introduced by the Government to encourage investment into the UK film industry and it is this legislation which created many investment opportunities for the taxpaying public that has now bitten the Government on its proverbial bottom. So, what has HMRC done to combat what it sees as ‘abuse’ of this legislation which, in some instances, seems to be no more than interpreting the legislation in the spirit it was intended?
APN’s allow HMRC to demand tax it thinks is due BEFORE the judicial system has had the opportunity to decide whether or not it is legally payable. HMRC’s demand becomes a legally enforceable debt with payment due as early as 30 days from the date of issue of the APN. Once paid, HMRC holds the money in the manner of an Escrow, with a promise to repay it if the judicial system finds that HMRC’s view is wrong. The money is only repayable after a final judicial decision has been made. So when would this occur? At the First Tier Tribunal (FTT, the Upper Tier Tribunal (UTT) or the Supreme Court? In most cases, if HMRC loses at the FTT and the UTT, it is likely to be after the Supreme Court. Experience shows that the judicial process can take many years, during which time the cash-flow disadvantage of HMRC holding the money could cause many taxpayers irreparable financial damage. This could even lead to bankruptcy. The miserly rate of interest HMRC is required to pay in these circumstances would not even begin to compensate for having been denied the use of the money in the interim period.
The other new weapon in HMRC’s armoury is the Follower Notice (FN). In cases where HMRC wins its case at court, it can determine that another scheme is the same or fundamentally similar to the one it has won. For example, the Eclipse 35 Film Partnership is currently listed for hearing at the Supreme Court. If HMRC wins this case, it is widely expected to apply the findings to every other Eclipse Film Partnership case on the grounds they are similar and then set about issuing APNs. This is despite the widely held view that there are significant and crucial differences between the various Eclipse schemes.
Jacqui Fleming of inTAX LLP (www.intaxllp.com) has been resolving tax disputes and investigations for many years. Previously a Tax Inspector, she specialises in helping companies, individuals, partners, trusts bring investigations, whether simple checks or complex frauds, to a conclusion as quickly and cost efficiently as possible.
IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: City Professional Networking Event – Friday 7th November 2014
Please be advised that due to the popularity of the venue last month, the City Professionals’ Networking event will be from now on held at the Fable, Holborn Viaduct (please note that we are awaiting confirmation for the December event)
City Professionals’ Networking lunch is a free informal networking event held monthly at The Fable Bar & Restaurant.
If you are a regular attendee of the event, please advise your professional friends and ask them to join us at the next networking event on Friday 7th November 2014
Date: Friday 7th November 2014
Venue: The Fable Bar & Restaurant, 52 Holborn Viaduct, London, EC1A 2FD
Time: 1:00pm to 3:00pm+
We look forward to seeing you all there
Preparing for Finance #1
by Graham Jordan – 7th October 2014
Borrowing money is an accepted requirement of any business. Whether it is for starting up a business venture, buying a particular asset, expanding an operation or merely to assist day-to-day working capital issues, all businesses at some stage will likely need to borrow money.
In the main, most business will initially turn to their bank or an outside lending institution for assistance.
A general requirement of any lender is to understand the proposal being put in front of them and in particular, how the funds lent will ultimately be repaid.
Before you consider presenting a proposal for funding to any lender, consider the following:-
1. What is the financial history of your business operation?
If your business has been trading for more than a year, it is likely that a lender will want to understand how your business has performed financially in the past. Have your end of year accounting information available and use your Accountant/Finance Director/Business Consultant to point out the key elements of your businesses financial performance.
Your financial track record with your lender/bank (i.e. Overdrafts without agreement, Returned items on your account) can also influence how your proposal is received. If you are planning to borrow money at some stage, get off on the right footing by having managed your account well prior to any request.
2. What do you need the money for?
Sounds obvious, but you will be surprised how many people want a borrowing facility ‘just in case’. A ‘just in case’ facility, generally means a Working Capital arrangement (i.e. Overdraft). Understand why you need this (i.e. is it due to you having to buy items before being able to undertake the work or to fund the payment of Creditors before receiving monies owed to you etc?).
3. Over what time frame do you require it?
Understand the time frame in which you expect to have the borrowing repaid. Loan facilities are generally set over a specific period of time. Overdraft/ Working Capital arrangements are much more difficult to calculate. Lenders can become frustrated if you overpromise and under deliver. Preparing a Cash Flow will help you in being able to state and prove your understanding of the borrowing requirement.
4. What will be the impact to your business by borrowing the funds?
Be able to advise any lender what the benefits will be to the business in borrowing the funds (ie allow you to finance a contract that will bring £X’s of profit to the operation. Allow for the purchase of important equipment that will enhance future opportunities , to buy out a competitor – the list is endless).
Be able to show the benefit within the businesses financial projections. Profit and Loss, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow forecasts are really helpful here.
5. How do you intend to repay the borrowing?
It may well be that repayment will come from a continuance of the Businesses existing profits, or that the additional funding will enhance profit performance that in turn will be used to repay the funding.
Again Profit and Loss, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow projections will allow any lender to easily understand the impact that the funding will have on the operation.
6. Are you able or prepared to support the borrowing proposal?
Be prepared for the lender to request some form of security support in return for providing the funds. This may take the form of a Personal Guarantee (have you got the asset background to support this?), a formal charge over your private or commercial premises, maybe a charge over your debtor book or even a charge over the asset that you are purchasing or already hold.
Security support can very much depend on the value and purpose of the funding request.
Key things to consider: Be prepared to be challenged. Having the answers available can only give the lender confidence in your proposal. It shows that within the process you have also challenged yourself to ensure that your request makes sense for your business.
Press Release: James Rosa Associates confirms sponsorship of Will Collier
3rd October 2014
Collier made his senior Harlequins debut in 2011 during the special LV= Cup match against Wasps in Abu Dhabi and has played for the club on more than 50 occasions since.
Will attended Cranleigh School in Surrey where he captained the rugby side, before developing through the Harlequins Academy. During this time, he represented England at Under 16 and 18 level, before helping the England Under 20s to the IRB Junior World Cup final in 2011.
During an impressive 2013/14 season, Collier was named in the England Saxons squad, but missed out on the fixtures against Ireland and Scotland due to injury. The 23 year-old was however named in England’s squad to play the Barbarians at Twickenham in 2014 and was on standby for England’s three Test tour to New Zealand.
Managing Director Julian Donnelly said: “We are delighted to be able to sponsor Will for this season and are grateful for the opportunity to be involved with such a prestigious club. We wish Will and the rest of the team every success for the rest of the season.”
photo courtesy of PPA UK