Innovation and enterprise blog

The British Library Business & IP Centre can help you start, run and grow your business


This blog is written by members of the Business & IP Centre team and some of our expert partners and discusses business, innovation and enterprise. Read more

28 January 2015

Top tips: Pinterest as a visual bookmark for your business

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Pinterest thought leader Vivienne Neale gives us her top tips to master Pinterest for your business. Vivienne will give a workshop on the same topic on 18 February 2015 in the British Library, Business & IP Centre for which you can register here.

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Using Pinterest for business

The world of social media is a crowded place. Many new social networking sites are popping up and trying to compete with giants like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Deciding which social media tools are right for your business can be a challenge. Thus, it is crucial to learn from experienced practitioners when delving into the social media sphere.

Once you take the plunge it is not enough to have a presence online, you must also stand out to make a worthy return on your time investment. Pinterest is a fast growing social media platform that is used as a visual search engine by businesses and consumers alike for inspiration, research and for shopping. 

Vivienne writes regularly about Pinterest, develops Pinterest strategies for companies in the UK, Europe and the US and beta-tests Pinterest-related products. We had the chance to ask her some key questions about Pinterest in anticipation of her workshop.

Hi Vivienne! Why do you think Pinterest has become so successful when Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can also manage images?

Pinterest is unique. It taps into our scrapbook passions. It allows us to collect ideas in a very easy to manage place, grouping pins into boards and creating a thing of beauty. Pinterest’s main advantage is a direct link to the image source the user can visit. Here lies the strength for marketing!

How can small businesses use Pinterest?

The key to using Pinterest as a business tool is to share images and content your customers love, related to your niche. If you are a florist, you may want to create an account about flowers with boards on wedding ideas styles, garlands, church decorations etc. Pinterest is about aspiration and inspiration - visualising the ideas and concepts behind your brand.

A bed retailer might have pins grouped under heading such as, “10 tips on getting a good night’s sleep”, “Bad Back Fixes” or “Foods to avoid before bedtime”. Use your creativity but ensure your pins are optimised to their full potential. With the introduction of Pinterest’s Smartfeed in 2014 you can enhance your account easily. You can also share content marketing on Pinterest by creating an infographic or a photo collage.

How can you measure the impact of Pinterest on your customers/business?

Analytics software can measure what is happening on your page. Pinterest offers some basic analytics, but there are many other existing software packages that provide more depth of information. For example, Tailwind and Ahalogy are great Pinterest analytic tools. Never underestimate talking to your customers either - ask them if they have been to your Pinterest site, what they thought, what they liked and what they hope to see in the future.

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How can a services company, who does not have a product, use Pinterest?

Services firms can greatly benefit from Pinterest too. For example, an architecture firm can showcase their work and inspiration; a psychologist can create boards with stress busting images and inspirational quotes. Just consider “What would be useful, interesting, entertaining or educational for my customer?”

How much time should a business invest in Pinterest to make it a success?

For many, Pinterest is a joy and can find it difficult to log out! I post 100 pins per week spread over seven days and schedule them using a management tool. It is a time investment but it pays off. If it is in your budget you can pay experts to manage your social media account too.

How can I protect my copyrights and intellectual property (IP) rights on Pinterest?

There have been a couple of cases in the US where brands have made a complaint to Pinterest about the violation of intellectual property, but there have been no prosecutions. If a brand or business does not want its content being pinned then it must insert a line such as: ‘Content on this website is considered to be intellectual property of ********* and cannot be shared, published, printed without authorization’. To find out more about intellectual property you can also attend a Beginner’s guide to intellectual property workshop in the British Library, Business & IP Centre.

What are your top tips on using Pinterest for business?

  • Put a ‘Pin it’ button on your website – making it quick and easy for anyone on your site to pin your images and information
  • Use engaging board titles
  • Use a business account and not a personal account. Verify it and ensure your profile and board details are completed in full
  • Use good quality images, portrait orientation
  • Get familiar with Rich Pins; they include extra information right on the Pin itself
  • Come along to my workshop in the Business & IP Centre to find out more and ask any questions you may have. Register here

23 January 2015

The Power of Partnerships in PR

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There are many different business titles used to describe the coming together of two brands with the ultimate aim of reaching a new audience, improving their service or to create a new PR angle.

When we talk about partnerships we are referring to collaborating with like-minded brands which share a brand ethos and target market in order to reach a wider audience and create news worthy PR angle.  

One of the most common mistakes small and medium sized businesses make is limiting their own potential by thinking too small. Partnering is absolutely key in growing any business. A small business does this by standing on the shoulders of bigger and more established brands for mutual benefit.

If you want to partner with big brands then you have to think like them - and be sure that you can cater to the increased demand that your partnership will likely deliver!

So, what do you have to offer as a small brand? The answer will be personal to you and your business, but it’s certainly not necessary to have deep pockets. Big brands will expect you to demonstrate your capability, so you’ll need tangible indicators of your company’s ability to create results. As we are talking PR, perhaps the most important element of your pitch should be how you intend to promote your partnership and the benefits it will deliver.  

Which brands can you partner with for mutual benefit, and in turn generate press coverage from? Ask yourself the following questions and you’ll emerge with a list of target partnership brands:

  • Which brands share your target market but are not your competitors?
  • Which brands share your company ethos?
  • Which brands are vocal about wanting to cater to your target audience?

In this global market competitive advantage depends not only on what you can do, but of equal importance, who you work with! Partnerships have become a critical part of any successful business strategy.

Lastly, remember that your currency could be a free product, access to your database, and of course the all-important benefit of free positive publicity for the big brand.

Every one loves a story of David partnering with Goliath, and the media will too. It makes the big boys looks good, so think big and get out there and capitalize on all of the partnership opportunities for your brand just waiting to happen!

If you are interested in hearing more watch this video on how to get your ideas to spread with marketing mogul and best selling author Seth Godin for TED Talks.

Jess press shot hair up colour josephJessica Huie, MBE founder of JH Public Relations will host How to generate PR for your business on a limited budget on Thursday 26 February 10.00 – 13.00 at the Business & IP Centre, British Library.






20 January 2015

And the award for Celebrating and Promoting Your Business goes to…

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The much anticipated Hollywood awards season is in full swing with big events taking place, including the infamous Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. But there are many awards that you, and your business, can be included in without heading for the Hollywood hills. But why get involved? Awards are a sure fire way of creating a buzz around your business and enhancing your brand.


Innovating for Growth Project Manager Christina Murphy giving out an award at the British Chambers of Commerce Awards to Sepha Ltd


A challenge for every business is how to distinguish themselves from their competitors, often on limited resources. This means maximising your marketing and PR impact through endorsements, social media and regular referrals. But you should also be considering using awards to boost your business.

Awards are one of the simplest ways of getting great PR and there’s a reason why it’s so effective. It’s endorsement from a judging panel of business ‘experts’ and having the title of ‘award winning’ is confirmation that consumers can trust you.  And that’s a giant leap forward to closing sales and generating leads.

And the nominees are…

Meredith O’Shaughnessy of Meredith Bespoke is winner of Home Based Business of the Year, 2014 and of Event Magazine’s “50 Fab Newcomers”. She believes, “if you operate in a saturated market, such as ours, awards help differentiate you and put a ‘stamp of approval’ on the work that you do.”


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Meredith O’Shaughnessy with colleagues from Meredith Bespoke


Nicola Gammon of Shoot Gardening recently won the People’s Choice awards at the Good Web Guides Awards 2014 and gardening category best website and knows the importance of attracting customers to her website, “if you’re a start-up then customers will be trying to size you up as to whether your company is worthwhile dealing with. When you win an award they'll think to themselves, ‘I should really consider doing business with that company.’” 


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Nicola Gammon with her People’s Choice award


There are many other real benefits that come from winning an award. Meredith has also found that being an award winner is an important part of contributing to company culture. “We like to celebrate successes internally and having external recognition really helps with that. It encourages the whole team.” Another upside is that it’s easier to recruit the right people, as is Nicola’s experience, winning an award shows you have a winning idea and team. People want to work with winners.”

Top tips from our award winners:

  • Invest the time properly to apply for each award. Make sure you pitch your application to the specific judging criteria outlined for each one. Applications can be quite detailed, so make sure you gather all the information you require well in advance so you are not rushed as the deadline approaches. 
  • Try to think what the award is really celebrating and then highlight this aspect in your application. 
  • Have your application reviewed by a copywriter who knows how to sell the benefits of your product or service or at by at least two other people who can correct any mistakes.
  • Have the passion of what you do shine through in the application. It’s not all about dry facts and figures, important that those are in supporting your application.
  • And if you win, make sure to get a photo on award night to circulate on social media and to share with your customers!

Nicola and Meredith’s businesses are two recent award winners that the British Library has been able to help on our Innovating for Growth programme. Other award winner’s we’re proud to have helped are Today’s PA, Living the Dream and Lend Me Your Literacy, read more about them here.

Best SME goes to…

So, where can you find out about awards? There are some well-known awards profiled on our COBRA database here at the Business & IP Centre and listed below are some of the major awards that SMEs enter, including:

Keep an eye out for sector awards. For example, awards for Social Enterprise include:

Other specialist awards include those for young entrepreneurs:

There are dozens more! You could even aspire to the Queen’s Award for Enterprise. The best approach is to search for your particular industry and keep up to date with relevant e-newsletters and trade association news for award announcements. Trade associations love giving out awards and businesses/publications love to sponsor them too. So the selection is many and varied.

Most awards tend to be given out toward the end of the calendar year, so look out for applications opening from late Spring/Summer.

Don’t forget to plan your acceptance speech!

I should’ve added a word of warning at the beginning, once you start entering awards, you may find you can’t stop entering them! Persistence and celebrating success are two great traits key to running your own business. Good luck in carrying both!


Jeremy O’Hare is a Relationship Manager for the British Library’s Innovating for Growth programme. Since joining the British Library in 2005 he has worked with countless businesses, facilitating advice and research as well as providing workshops and information advice for start-ups and established businesses.

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Innovating for Growth is run by the British Library and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund