John Reynolds has been running a franchise of Computer Xplorers in Newport in South Wales for four years.
John tell us about your business and what you do…
My team and I deliver ICT classes to children aged 3-13 in nurseries & primary schools. Classes are cross-curricular and use the ethos of “learning through play”.
What coverage have you had?
Quite a bit of local press coverage when we first started.
We had a Photo and ½ page article in business section of The South Wales Argus introducing CX and explaining what we do. The picture was of my 1st nursery class (Pontymoile Under-Fives).
The article also included references to adult courses starting soon for beginners and a statement that we were recruiting teachers to run the classes. I had a similar article in Primary Times, a magazine circulated to all primary school children/parents in SE Wales. This article was more focused on nursery classes and the types of courses we run, talking about core skills such as numeracy, literacy & problem solving skills. It also mentioned that much of the software we use utilises familiar characters to the children, such as Bob the Builder & Nemo.
It was also picked up by the Pontypool free press and was also included in their web edition. A separate Argus article focused on me as a boxing referee, with a picture of me in refereeing uniform, but luckily the article also included a section on me running CX.
This was then picked up by Radio Wales and they invited me into their studio to do a live interview with Jamie Owen (BBC Wales TV news reader) and Louise Elliott. Last year the Argus ran a ½ page article focused on my adult class, with a picture of me & one of my mature students (86 years old). She had used my classes to learn the basics of using a computer, and then got set up on Facebook and Skype to keep in touch with her son who was serving in Afghanistan.
You’re a franchise, so how much do you leave it up to head office to promote you, and much PR and marketing do you need to do yourself?
Initially most of PR work was done by 3rd party company employed by head office. The company is still available to use and I do so occasionally, but when I do my PR I tend to do most of it myself now.
How much time do you spend on PR and marketing?
Nowhere near enough!! Hard to put a figure on it but PR is something I do when I can fit it in, rather than scheduling a time as I probably should. Something else always seems to crop up that’s more important or urgent!!
I seem to spend my time doing a combination of things – running classes, keeping up with endless amounts of admin/accounts, etc and marketing to new schools/nurseries (writing letters, phoning Head Teachers, arranging and attending sales appointments). I’m also spending a lot of time at the moment approaching companies regarding sponsorship of CX classes.
What activities have you found that work for you?
Emailing the local newspaper has generated a response on occasions, and getting involved in local open days/demonstrations/etc has helped to raise profile (but not necessarily generated sales).
What do you enjoy least about PR?
Finding the time to do it properly
What’s been your highest point so far PR-wise?
Having an article and photos published in a regional education magazine, which was then picked up by the local paper and used again – 2 hits for one piece of work!! This was the nursery article referred to above in Primary Times which was then used by Free Press (printed and online editions). Another highlight was obviously being invited onto the Radio Wales “Jamie & Louise Show” which resulted from the Argus article. Although this was mainly focussed on my boxing refereeing I did manage to get a couple of references to CX in there.
And Your Lowest?
Putting loads of time and effort into a public demonstration for parents and children only for the local paper to turn up, take photos, etc and then not use it at all.
And social networking…do you do this and how useful have you found it? (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, etc)
I have set up accounts for personal and business use, but not really used them properly yet. Again, time is the issue.
What have you learnt about PR?
I need an 8 day week and 26 hour days to fit everything in!!
What advice do you have to give to someone starting to promote themselves?
Get good advice, take notes and then act on the advice.
What did you find helpful about Do Your Own PR ?
It raised my awareness of other PR avenues and opportunities that I wouldn’t have thought of myself.
What are your plans for the business?
Work more consistently in smaller regions and areas to generate more classes and more interest in those communities, rather than spreading myself too thinly over too wide an area.
You can find out more about what John does here