Samantha Lee

PUBLICITY Seekers Managing Director Samantha Lee believes that the North East business community is suffering from one big problem – modesty.

With over 20 years working within the media industry Samantha is well positioned to see just exactly how much the region has grown.

She believes that although the area has had its problems over the years with the decline in certain industries, it has also had massive boost; with engineering, digital, construction, recycling and the process sector being particular strengths within the North East.

The former Mirror journalist said: “One of the biggest things we suffer from in the North East is modesty. Having worked in other areas of the country I can say that we are most guilty of playing down our achievements and under estimating our abilities.

“I am sure it stems from our upbringing, bragging is seen as a bit of a no-no in the North East.

“However modesty isn’t the greatest asset in business, particularly when it comes to telling customers and potential new customers just what you are capable of. We have that crisis of identity – I need to shout about my business without appearing to be big headed as someone might shoot me down.

“But if you don’t let people know about your credentials and capabilities then someone else will. And that company might not necessarily be better or even as good as yours, but if you’re hiding your light under a bushel then that’s where it will stay. Hidden from your potential customers, great staff, even investors and suppliers.

“So the next time you have done something to be proud of then speak up. Be it a contract win, company milestone, new staff appointment, innovation or even better have an opinion on what is going on in your industry and become the expert in your field.”

The North East has plenty to shout about. Teesside University is propelling the digital industry within Teesside with the Boho buildings providing a hub for new exciting businesses to feed off each other and inspire others to take a leap into the world of entrepreneurship.

Then we have the other end of the scale with the likes of the Nifco Group, not only supplying Nissan but exporting to many different countries, taking the North East brand all over the world.

We have the obvious North East giants such as Nissan, Bellway, Sage and Greggs but on the next tier, either supplying these companies in some way or another or assisting the North east economy in their specialist fields are some fantastic leading lights. It is this tier that often has the biggest problem with promoting with their successes.

But it is vital they do.

Samantha added: “When I look at some of the competition from the south and overseas they are not a patch on some of the companies we have here. And people need to bear in mind the statistics.

“If 84% of customers check your website before they buy from you and 93% check external sources online then you better make sure you have your achievements where they can be found. If you’re not sure how to go about this, then speak to a professional PR company.

“I always find going into a new client who might not have used a professional PR service before that people are initially tentative about looking ‘showy’. But reputations and brands need to be built. It’s not necessarily about saying ‘look at us aren’t we great’ it is about reporting on why you are great and what you have been doing. Journalists don’t want bragging stories anyways, they want good news lines.”

Samantha set up Publicity Seekers over 10 years ago following a career as a sports journalist which saw her work for titles such as The Express, Sunday Mail, Evening Gazette in Middlesbrough and the Hartlepool Mail.

Publicity Seekers works predominantly with North East companies, building a strategy of communications based on their business plan and growth goals. It looks at who a company’s stakeholders are – from customers to potential new staff – and then works on getting the right message in the right places. This may be the business press, national trade journals, online websites, newsletters, social media channels, podcasts or TV and radio.

Each retained client gets a weekly update on what has been going on with the media on their behalf, while we have a full review meeting every quarter with a detailed report on what coverage we have achieved, your social media stats and what kind of feedback we have had from your campaigns.

Samantha added: “So in the spirit of this article, here’s what we do best. We know exactly what journalists and broadcasters want, be they traditional, trade or online and we put together stories that they are truly interested in printing. In fact in the past 10 years I can’t think of an article we have put out that hasn’t received coverage.

“We actually get journalists calling us on a daily basis to see what we are working on because they want to feature our stories.

“We also have a fantastic record for getting our clients shortlisted in various awards. To date we have had over 150 shortlisted and I’ve lost count of how many of those we have won.

“While PR may be a bit of an unknown entity to some, just think of this. Do you buy from the company you’ve heard about or one you haven’t?”