We know that South Yorkshire businesses have plenty of fantastic work to shout about – but what else can they do to get their message out there? unLTD’s Georgina Kerr spoke to some of the region’s top creative agencies and local authorities to find out more.

 

Jen Beal, CEO, HRM PR & Creative

Tell us about your role and your business – how is marketing involved in your day-to-day work?

As CEO of Sheffield’s longest-established PR and creative agency, I oversee all aspects of the business. As you can imagine, no day is the same! Life at HRM is exciting. From working across multi-platform PR and marketing campaigns for our clients to developing and executing the business strategy to day-to-day operations.

Marketing is engrained into our everyday work, and it is safe to say we live and breathe it. My biggest project has been working on our marketing and branding activities as we get ready to begin our exciting new chapter.

Do you think businesses in SY do enough to promote themselves?

Sheffield is a powerhouse for business – in my opinion, the world doesn’t know that. We’re world leaders in advanced manufacturing, have a longstanding legacy of steel making and are known for our cultural names and events, and yet it can feel like sometimes our northern neighbours take centre stage. We need this to change.

For some reason, we tend to be modest about our achievements. We need to start shouting louder!

What could businesses within the area be doing better to promote themselves?

Marketing and PR can often fall by the wayside in a company’s strategy and can be seen as a luxury. This is not the case. Marketing should be at the forefront of your business plans. You need to be seen, and you need to be heard. If you’re not, then I’m afraid your competitors will be.

There are fantastic PR opportunities for businesses at any stage, size, and industry. PR can be reactive, but most of the time, it is proactive. Each company has their own story to tell and each business has people who want to hear from you. There are so many marketing tactics for you to try – you need to be brave and implement the right ones.

What are the benefits for businesses acing their marketing?

Well, this one is easy. Business generation. It’s as simple as that. You will quickly see a return on investment in your marketing strategy. Whether that be generating backlinks to your website, providing engaging social media posts with clever call to actions or being at the forefront of conversation in the media.

People will start talking about you because you’re talking about you.

What does the SY business community do to market themselves which works well?

Although there is some way to go for South Yorkshire to market itself bigger and better, there have been some great successes for SY businesses recently. The desire to go viral and the emergence of platforms like TikTok have created distractions for many brands – regional, national and international – and it’s starting to show. Thankfully, consumers and business buyers are starting to appreciate the value in authentic brands again, seeing through ‘viral’ campaigns and gimmicks. I’m seeing lots of SY brands producing really consistent and resonant marketing, sticking to brand values and taking a comprehensive and integrated approach to their marketing. This is absolutely the way forward.

Who are your standout SY businesses that are marketing themselves well?

Food, drinks, and hospitality brands make a real statement in the city through their digital presence and shareability. Marmadukes, Domo and Pom Kitchen have all absolutely nailed this. The Mowbray, BHP and Gravitate are also top contenders for consistent and integrated marketing.

What are you doing within your business to reach clients or customers across the region?

We have been at the heart of Sheffield’s business for 25 years this year, making us one of the trusted agencies within the region. We attend networking events, speak at business and industry events, and proactively build our network of connections. We’re also avid users of social media, particularly LinkedIn, allowing us to reach a wider, more targeted audience and showcase our amazing range of services.

How can businesses across South Yorkshire get themselves noticed nationally?

My advice would be to get more strategic and visual with your marketing to ensure your target audience is seeing you. Bold, thought-provoking campaigns will get noticed and be remembered.

With PR, the possibilities are endless. There is always something you can comment on that relates to your industry and gets your name out there. Whether that be an engaging LinkedIn post, blog, or a PR comment distributed to national media titles. Your business is unique to you, and people will love to hear about it.  There are so many PR opportunities for your business that you don’t realise yet!

Jane Whitham, PR director, Altitude

Tell us about your role and your business – how is marketing involved in your day-to-day work?

As a director at Sheffield PR company Altitude, I’m responsible for developing the Altitude brand and ensuring that businesses understand what we do, how we do it and why it’s important. As a forward-thinking PR agency, we help ambitious businesses unlock their potential. There’s no such thing as a normal day in PR, but a typical day involves consultancy for clients, creating social media campaigns, content creation, strategic planning, event support, crisis management and media training.

Do you think businesses in South Yorkshire do enough to promote themselves?

No. Businessesin our region are doing some incredible things – but most are going about their work in an earnest and quiet way. Pride comes from within.

We could, and should, be far more vocal about everything that’s great about South Yorkshire. We need to start talking ourselves up a bit more and levelling up perceptions. As a PR professional, it frustrates me that Manchester and Leeds are so good at amplifying their achievements. We need to shout more both collectively and individually.

What could businesses within the area be doing better to promote themselves?

There are some really quick and easy ways to increase your business profile. Social media is a good way to develop your brand voice and start to engage. I’d urge businesses to take a step back and objectively consider what they do and why they do it. I’ve encountered many incredible businesses over the years doing mind-blowing things – but to them it’s ordinary. By taking a fresh look, you’ll be amazed by the unique points of interest you can find and start to shape into messaging or campaigns.

What are the benefits for businesses acing their marketing?

Good PR and marketing is a game-changer. A strong profile, created and sustained through strategic PR, helps set you apart from competitors and gives you a voice to lead from the front. It adds value to businesses, helps reinforce brand messages, supports a strong employee culture, and can take a brand from zero to hero. Most importantly, good PR and marketing builds familiarity and with familiarity comes trust and understanding.

What does the South Yorkshire business community do to market themselves which works well?

I think the work that the Chambers of Commerce do is really effective, particularly the business awards across the region. They encourage businesses to sense check what they do well and celebrate that excellence. They’re a great vehicle for regional PR and raising your profile.

Who are your standout SY businesses that are marketing themselves well?

Both universities do a great job marketing their institutions, their courses and the city of Sheffield itself. The hoardings as you walk up from the station are really captivating and show that they mean business.

What are you doing within your business to reach clients or customers across the region?

Altitude is a patron of Sheffield Chamber, which gives us an elevated level of membership and lots of networking opportunities. We also contribute content to publications and websites. Recently, we’ve agreed to sponsor a couple of high-profile events in Sheffield, which will help connect us with our intended business audience.

How can businesses across South Yorkshire get themselves noticed nationally?

Good stories that are underpinned by strong data and purposeful comments are the best way to gain PR traction – whether that’s locally, regionally or nationally. It’s much easier to define who you are seeking to influence and be strategic in your approach. A broad-brush approach to PR rarely works.

 

Melanie Jackson, director, Relish Media

Tell us about your role and your business – how is marketing involved in your day-to-day work?

I’m one of the directors at Relish Media and I run the company with Lisa Staniforth. We run a TV advertising agency and are based in Sheffield and operate nationally, bringing brands to air to run ITV, Channel 4 and Sky campaigns. We are ’New to Air’ specialists and have helped many brands create their first TV campaigns which have been handled from start to finish. We have grown from strength to strength over the last three years and this year we are well on track to have quadrupled our turnover into the millions.

Do you think businesses in South Yorkshire do enough to promote themselves? 

Not really. I feel that South Yorkshire folk full stop don’t shout enough about themselves or their businesses – it’s basically in our DNA to be modest but we are really silently smashing it!

What could businesses within the area be doing better to promote themselves?

Pick up the phone and actually talk to each other. The world has gone faceless and with this, I feel the personality of the businesses has gone and what rapport can be built on an email really? Switch it up have a few days of asking for that physical meeting, you’ll be shocked how much busier your pipeline will be.

What are the benefits for businesses acing their marketing? 

We are always learning and if we can hit the sweet spots for ourselves then we can confidently talk the talk about that process rather than just finger in the air.

What does the South Yorkshire business community do to market themselves which works well? 

We are a kind community I feel, much more than other major cutthroat cities, we are really good at recommending other companies for work.

What are you doing within your business to reach clients or customers across the region? 

Getting out there and meeting people, having an uber cool website being built, approaching similar brands to the ones we have previously worked with to be able to prove the success that we have had with them.

How can businesses across South Yorkshire get themselves noticed nationally? 

TV advertising campaigns through us of course – there is no better or trusted environment to advertise within than TV – how often do you see brands bragging “As seen on TV!?”

 

Danny Johnson, commercial partnerships manager at Sheffield Chamber of Commerce

Tell us about your role and your business – how is marketing involved in your day-to-day work?

My remit is to deliver commercial growth for the Chamber and support the Chamber’s work across the city of Sheffield, both economically and socially. Marketing and communications will play a vital role in the execution of our strategy.

Do you think businesses in South Yorkshire do enough to promote themselves?

Simply put, no! Our region has some of the brightest minds in the country delivering ground-breaking products and services. We need to shout loud and proud.

What could businesses within the area be doing better to promote themselves?

Tell all that will listen and those that don’t all about your incredible work. The media, social channels, and friends in the pub. Make as many connections locally as you can and share the news with them frequently.

What are the benefits for businesses acing their marketing?

Brand awareness and growth, leading to increased commercials from new and repeat business. Allow your audience to fully understand your purpose, products and services.

What does theSouth Yorkshire business community do to market themselves which works well?

There has always been a strong Yorkshire appetite for face-to-face events and networking. The folk in this region are a social bunch and always see the long-term benefit of self-promotion and cross-collaboration.

Who are your standout South Yorkshire businesses that are marketing themselves well?

There isn’t a market leader, but a chance to be one! There’s a gap and an opportunity within this region for bold, brave, creative marketing campaigns.

What are you doing within your business to reach clients or customers across the region?

This is something as a team we’re reviewing. Traditional channels such as email marketing, social media, and events are tried and tested, but they aren’t the tactics to employ. We are encouraging ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking to pioneer new routes to market. Watch this space.

How can businesses across South Yorkshire get themselves noticed nationally?

Being from Yorkshire, we pride ourselves on quality with honest customer service. Solid old fashion standards that survive the test of time. Our region has a strong reputation, so take advantage of that and stand out from the crowd.

 

Yvonne Asquith, head of Business Sheffield

The work of our teams at Marketing Sheffield and Business Sheffield- both part of Sheffield City Council- is really relevant here. Marketing Sheffield (the official marketing arm of the city) works with partners to improve the image of the city externally – working on initiatives that encourage more businesses to start up here or existing businesses to expand.

Whilst it’s not practical for us to be promoting every individual business, one of the aims of Business Sheffield is to provide platforms to local businesses enabling them to better promote themselves. We do this through various initiatives such as sponsoring local business awards which give much-needed profile to those shortlisted, marketing support which our business information officers offer to high street retail and hospitality businesses, plus through our series of practical marketing support workshops or bigger initiatives like the Economic Recovery Fund. It’s very much a two-pronged attack – helping businesses market themselves better at the same time as using our marketing campaigns to promote the city as a great place to start up and expand a business.