A word to the wise

You’ve used them. I’ve used them. We’ve all used them. New brands are using more and more of them all the time. Those words that sound all lively and exciting but on closer inspection, should be thrown in the sea. They’re everywhere, with the result that they’ve largely lost their original meaning – and are not to be trusted. A few prime suspects are below. Use them at your peril.

Innovative: Are you sure? Just because something is new, doesn’t make it innovative. Innovative implies a significant departure from established methods, ideas or tech. It requires creative thinking, problem-solving and a  fresh approach to tackling a particular challenge or need.

Revolutionary: Really? A profound and disruptive shift from the status quo? With significant and lasting impacts? Revolutionary is often used to describe products or services that may not truly revolutionise anything.

Unique: Is it though? True uniqueness is rare, but this word is liberally sprinkled over marketing copy across the globe

Cutting edge: Again? Over-use has rendered this phrase tired and lacking impact.

Solutions: Can we just double check? It’s an important and useful word – in maths. In marketing it’s used vaguely, usually  to avoid clearly explaining what kind of problem it solves.

Best: How do you know? Claiming something is the “best” is subjective – and usually unsubstantiated.

Amazing: To everyone? Another over-used adjective, now lacking impact, and often used to describe ordinary things, diminishing its significance.

Synergy: Are you referring to “the interaction of two or more entities to produce a combined effect that’s greater than the sum of their individual effects”? Great! Otherwise, yuck. It’s a corporate buzzword that people throw around without understanding its meaning. Don’t be like them.

July: This month we meet…

This month we focus on the Dee Catchment Partnership. Established in 2003, the partnership unites around 16 organisations – including agencies, landowners and other interest groups – in the shared goal of protecting and improving the River Dee and its tributaries. From planting trees and re-wiggling rivers to tackling invasive species and building sustainable drainage systems in Aberdeen, the partnership’s projects are all grounded in tackling the climate emergency, restoring habitats for nature and supporting sustainable food production. The partnership is managed by freshwater ecologist, Dr Susan Cooksley, of Aberdeen’s Hutton Institute. 


  • Tell us about your PR strategy? 

Restoring natural habitats and boosting our resilience to climate change have never been more important. Our PR efforts aim to get that message out loud and clear, while highlighting the work we’re doing to tackle these challenges. From highlighting the small changes people can make to help nature, to shouting about our large-scale restoration projects, we target regional and national media with our stories. We recently won the Nature and Climate Action Award at the RSPB Nature of Scotland Awards for our restoration of the Beltie burn near Torphins – so we know our work is being recognised. 

  • Why do you invest in PR? 

Being visible in the media is critical for us because we rely on public support and involvement to make a real difference. Everyone has a part to play – from stakeholders and local people to those visiting from further afield, so it’s important we reach both local and national audiences. We’re proud to be one of Scotland’s foremost catchment partnerships with a strong track-record in delivering successful projects, and we want to keep building on our 20-year history towards a more sustainable future for the people and nature of Deeside. 

  • What are the key benefits? What has worked well?  

Our first project with Instinct – highlighting our work adding storm-damaged trees to the restored Beltie burn to create more habitats for wildlife and slow water down during heavy rain – secured excellent coverage across local and national audiences and brought us a lot of attention. It’s great to work with such a friendly and engaged team, who are down to earth and really understand our projects, know our people and how the partnership works. They’re a safe pair of hands. 

  • Where are your efforts currently focused? 

We’re currently working on a press release announcing the results of the Dee Pearl Mussel Survey, a project we undertook in YEAR, funded by NatureScot and the Cairngorms National Park Authority.

In defence of jargon

Pervasive across the globe and often confusing, annoying, obstructive or just downright pointless, jargon gets an understandably bad press. ‘Jargon-free copy’ and ‘cutting the jargon’ are considered something of a holy grail, not just in marketing, but in life itself. But acronym-haters everywhere, let’s take a moment…because the truth is, it ain’t all bad. Like most elements of language, jargon isn’t intrinsically good or bad – it depends entirely on the context. 

Sometimes, jargon is really useful, acting as a shorthand between people who share the same knowledge on a subject, communicating a key idea in just one or two words, instead of requiring a whole sentence. But if it’s used to communicate with people who don’t know or understand the shorthand, it’s at best confusing and at worst alienating, making them feel excluded, ignorant and unwelcome.

So when you’re working on your brand’s voice and thinking through the language you do and don’t want to use, the jargon issue comes down to pretty much the same two things as every other aspect of verbal identity: who are you and who are you talking to? What are you like (and how do you need to speak in order to get people to see that) and what are your audience like (what language will they understand and respond to)?

If you’re a web developer delivering a conference for other web developers, or an investment company engaging with financial planners, or a legal association talking to lawyers, jargon will almost certainly be a hugely positive thing. Your audience will both expect it and want it, and it can be a powerful way to connect with people, create a sense of belonging, demonstrate expertise, and gain trust.

But if, you’re dealing with small business owners who are hiring you precisely because they can’t do what you can, jargon is clearly not your friend. Sector terminology will not make you sound intelligent and competent – it’ll leave your audience confused about what you do and whether or not you can actually help them. And then they’ll swiftly look elsewhere.

Your brand’s language should help you to draw people in, not push them away – and jargon has the power to do both. But when you’re in the thick of things it can be hard to tell when jargon’s ok and when it isn’t – or even what counts as jargon. That’s where we can help. If you can’t see the wood for the jargon-trees, we’d love to offer you a fresh pair of eyes. Call 01330 826500 or email hello@instinctmarketingpr.com. 

May: This month we meet…

This month we focus on the Aboyne Highland Games, which are organised by the Games committee headed up by Secretary, Morag McBeath. Established in 1867, the Games attract thousands of visitors from far and wide to the Aboyne green on the first Sunday of August every year, where an array of spectacles from livestock and fun fairs to pipe bands, athletes and Highland dancers entertain the crowds.  

  • Tell us about your PR and marketing strategy? 

With a focus on local and national media including newspapers, TV, radio and social media platforms, as well as some other niche outlets such as Highland Dancing and Pipe Bands publications, we raise the profile of the Games from around April up until the event in August, to ensure a strong turnout on the day. Last year’s event saw almost 12,000 visitors so we know we’re reaching people! 

  • Why do you invest in PR and marketing? 

While the Games carry huge historic significance and enjoy a large following of faithful supporters comprising locals and some international visitors, we know that a considerable proportion of the footfall each year is there spontaneously – and they’re not a market we can afford to ignore. The more visible we are, particularly in local media, the more we can be at the forefront of people’s minds when they consider how they might want to spend a day or a weekend in Deeside, or Aberdeenshire, or indeed Scotland, depending on where they’ve come from. In addition to highlighting the event itself, our PR and marketing strategy enables us to highlight and celebrate some of the local stories associated with the Games – local dancers, athletes or international connections. 

  • What are the key benefits? What has worked well?  

Instinct Marketing has secured a strong foundation of media coverage over the years thanks to their creative approach and network of connections, and each year we build on the success of the previous year, seeking to maintain the profile of the Highland Games, particularly in the run up to August. Drawing on a mix of topics from local anniversaries and international links to visiting performers, we target a variety of outlets and really try to celebrate the history, heritage and rich traditions of the Games, while telling the story of the event as it is today. 

  • Where are your marketing efforts currently focused? 

We’ve already issued the first press release announcing the date of this year’s Games, and the annual Games dinner, and we’re now into the next phase of publicity, which will highlight the launch of online tickets and registration for events. 

  • Where will you be focusing your marketing efforts in the next few months? 

In the coming months, we’ll be compiling our event programme, and in partnership with Instinct we’ll select any performers and events that warrant specific PR activity. Each September we also make a charitable donation to local charities, announced at a Picnic and Pimms afternoon, giving us another opportunity to highlight the benefit of the Games for the wider community. Instinct will also be liaising regularly with the Press & Journal on our behalf, to ensure the Games feature in all the relevant weekend and events supplements. On the day itself, Instinct often helps with photography and any media liaison. It’s a real team effort – and a huge feeling of satisfaction when we pull it off without a hitch every year! 

Watch your tone

A critical aspect of your brand identity and powerful marketing tool for your business, ‘tone of voice’ is the way your brand speaks to your audience and conveys your personality, values and messages. A clear and consistent tone of voice will help you differentiate yourself from competitors by being memorable, creating an emotional connection with your audience and ultimately helping to build trust and loyalty in your customers. 

Follow these steps to build tone of voice into your marketing strategy: 

  1. Define your brand’s tone of voice: Figure out your brand’s personality, values and target audience, then choose words and language that align with these. For example, a luxury fashion brand might use a sophisticated or indulgent tone of voice, while a casual restaurant might opt for a friendly and conversational sound. 
  1. Be consistent: Once defined, it’s important to use your brand’s tone of voice consistently across all channels, from website copy and social media posts to email marketing and adverts. Consistency helps create a cohesive brand experience and makes it easier for customers to recognise and remember your brand. 
  1. Also be adaptable: While consistency is important, you should adapt your tone of voice for different audiences and contexts. You might use a formal and professional tone when communicating with business partners, but aim for a more casual or chatty stye while interacting with customers on social media. 
  1. Evoke emotions: Tone of voice can be a powerful tool for evoking emotions in your audience. By choosing words that resonate with your target audience, you can create an emotional connection and help them feel a stronger attachment to your brand. If your brand is passionate about sustainability, you might use an uplifting and hopeful tone of voice to encourage people to make environmentally friendly choices. 
  1. Convey personality: Tone of voice should also be used to convey your brand’s personality and values – a brand that’s fun and playful might use a lighthearted and humorous tone of voice – think Innocent Drinks – while a more serious brand might use a more professional, straightforward tone. By aligning your tone of voice with your brand personality, you can help customers understand and connect with your brand on a deeper level. 


Need help nailing your tone of voice? We’d love to help. Get in touch on 01330 826508 or hello@instinctmarketingpr.com  

April: This month we meet…

This month we focus on Home-Start Aberdeen, headed up by Chief Executive, Eleanor McEwan. For over 30 years Home-Start Aberdeen has been helping vulnerable families across the city to prevent family crisis and breakdown, and today provides both practical and emotional support to more than 200 families every year.  

  • Tell us about your PR and marketing strategy? 

Drawing on a team of marketing and social media experts including Instinct Marketing +PR and some of our own staff, we work to raise the profile of our charity, our work and the ever-growing demand for more volunteers. Our staff handle social media while Debbie and her team help us with the PR and marketing side. 

  • Why do you invest in PR and marketing? 

Even as the global pandemic recedes, the impact on vulnerable families continues, and will be felt for many years to come. Many families in Aberdeen and throughout the UK were subjected to unprecedented levels of financial and emotional strain, with those on lower incomes disproportionately affected. This led to a significant increase in demand for our services, and today we’re more resolved than ever in our mission to give support and friendship to families, helping them to create a loving and secure home environment where their children can grow up happy, healthy, confident and able to achieve their full potential.  

Our PR and marketing efforts allow us to highlight both what can be done to help tackle the challenges faced by those most affected by the continued cost of living crisis, as well as the need for more help – we urgently need more volunteers for a range of roles including home support, working in our shop and becoming a trustee on our board. 

  • What are the key benefits? What has worked well? 

We know we can count on Instinct to turn around a high quality press release within tight timescales, often securing immediate results in terms of the resulting media coverage – the team has a wide network of media contacts they draw on to maximise the impact of our news. We’ve recently had some great results with radio, when one of our most dedicated volunteers won a national award for her efforts, which was fantastic. Thanks to Instinct’s PR efforts, we had a great response to our “Cosy up for Christmas” campaign last year, encouraging people to donate new coats, hats, toys and books to the children of the vulnerable families we work with.  The campaign was picked up in all the local papers and we were inundated with donations. 

  • Where are your marketing efforts currently focused? 

2023 marks the tenth anniversary of our charity shop on George Street, so that’s a key promotional message for our charity this year, and we’ll be celebrating the occasion with a number of events at the shop throughout the year. We’re also working to highlight the various funding allocations we’ve been fortunate to receive from a range of both public and private sector organisations, as well as from individual fundraising efforts – we’re very conscious that our work simply couldn’t continue without it. 

  • Where will you be focusing your marketing efforts in the next few months? 

We’ll be continuing to highlight the shop’s ten-year anniversary as well as our campaign to recruit more volunteers and trustees for the board. In the longer term we’re keen to explore plans for the shop’s next decade – could we reach more customers by adding an online shop?  Are there other social enterprise activities we could pursue so we can support more families in need across the city? There’s always lots going on to highlight in our PR and marketing activity – it’s usually a question of prioritizing! 


An introduction to MarTech

In simple terms, MarTech is the shortened word for Marketing Technology. There is an abundance of tools and software marketers can use, and it can be difficult to know which ones are most suitable for your business.  

From email marketing to social media scheduling, marketing tech exists to create, communicate, deliver, measure and automate tasks and ultimately improve the customer experience.  

Here are our top 3 for improving efficiency, design, and customer engagement:

Are you getting the most out of your Canva subscription? It has so many handy tools that make graphic design easy and convenient! And the free version has a plenty of options if you’re curious to explore what Canva has to offer without the expense. 

Here are just a few reasons why we like it so much: 

  • Canva makes cropping images easy.  You can insert a photo onto a template of a laptop, postcard, or anything you can think of – there’s a shape to suit it! 
  • Use the shortcuts Canva to save time! Simply search for a specific element rather than endlessly scrolling for the right one. For example, enter ‘hand drawn + watermelon’ to get specific search results. 
  • When it’s time to download your graphic, you can download templates and designs as PDF files. And if you’d like to link to an external website, you can link a page element. 

Although Hootsuite is known for being a social media management tool, it can do so much more. 

Here are the three features we use the most: 

  • Missing a graphic from your post? Simple. Hootsuite is integrated with Canva so you can design graphics whilst still on the site! 
  • Having your social posts planned, polished, and scheduled is great until the unexpected happens. Hootsuite lets you pause scheduled content with the click of the button.  
  • It’s easy to miss those pesky typos, despite your best proofreading efforts! Grammarly is integrated in Hootsuite and guarantees correctness and clarity, improving your social posts.    

Looking for a fun, intuitive, and straight-forward video editor software? Adobe Premiere Rush may be the way to go if you’re new to video editing and need a convenient tool to use on the go, and here’s why:  

  • It’s interface is easy to get to grips with, even for beginners like us! 


  •  There are a variety of built-in templates, titles and presets to choose from.  


  • On the go? No problem. You can adjust colours, transitions, and add titles from your phone.   

Like the sound of MarTech but unsure how to incorporate it? Let us take it off your to-do list! We’ll take the time to understand your goals and your audiences, and figure out which tools will work best for your business. Get in touch on 01330 826508 or email hello@instinctmarketingpr.com 

March: This month we meet…

This month we focus on Acumen Accountants & Advisors, headed up by Director, Ross Murray. For over 30 years, Acumen has been providing accountancy support to SMEs across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. Now one of the region’s leading financial firms, their 36–strong team serves over 1,200 customers across Scotland and the UK from their office in Aberdeen. 

  • Tell us about your PR and marketing strategy? 

Through a combination of email marketing campaigns, social media and web content, we balance an emphasis on our existing client base with our efforts to reach new clients across Aberdeen and throughout Scotland. Refreshing our website has meant re-thinking our brand’s tone of voice, and the resulting copy is sharper, more concise and hopefully more accessible to our target audiences. 

  • Why do you invest in PR and marketing? 

To maintain a fresh social media presence, keep our website up-to-date, and stay in touch with our existing clients – keeping clients updated on tax compliance and finance regulations is a key part of what we do. Having a PR team on hand is also crucial for being able to quickly share our news – Instinct can turn around a high quality press release within tight timescales and share it in all the right places. Together we can discuss different types of content, topics and story ideas, and prepare blogs and social media posts in advance. 

  • What are the key benefits? What has worked well? 

Round-Up, our quarterly newsletter to clients, has been well received, and is a great way of providing reminders of key dates and helpful finance tips, as well as our latest news and a focus on one of our team each quarter – a suggestion by Instinct to help show the human side of our company. We pride ourselves on being a friendly and approachable team – accountancy can be perceived as a pretty dry subject, so we’re always keen to maximise opportunities to highlight our staff as interesting people as well as expert accountants! Our social media posts have been a key part of this – we held a desk-decorating competition in the run-up to Christmas and shared the fun and creativity across our channels.  

  • Where are your marketing efforts currently focused? 

We are focusing on updating our website and forging a strong presence on social media, by sharing regular updates, articles, staff successes and industry insights. Our blog posts are a priority area, and key to establishing Acumen as a thought leader in our field. 

  • Where will you be focusing your marketing efforts in the next few months? 

Alongside our social media and website, we’ll continue to use email marketing as a way of staying front-of-mind and upselling to existing clients, and potentially reaching new ones as well. Working with Instinct, we’re also hoping to leverage advances in AI technology to generate content such as quiz questions, to help people find out if they’re eligible for lower tax contributions. Updating our website for SEO with regular news posts and the right keywords is another priority, to make it as easy as possible for new clients to find us. And we’ll be getting out and networking in person – face to face interactions are hard to beat when it comes to forging new business partnerships. 

Why your website isn’t working for you

We’ve all been there. Whether starting from scratch or refreshing a tired brand, once our website is ready and live, we sit back, satisfied, pleased with a job well done. That’ll transform the business, we tell ourselves. It’ll be top of the search engine rankings in next to no time. Sales will go through the roof. 

In reality of course, it doesn’t work that way. Aside from all the work you have to do in making sure your potential customers even find your site in the first place, let’s look at a few reasons why the site itself may be letting you down.  

We judge websites using several criteria including copy, design, quality and how easy it is to use. If something is off, we not only won’t take the desired action, we probably won’t return to the site – a whopping 61% of us according to Google. Read on for a few common pitfalls: 

No calls to action 

So someone has found your landing page and read a few lines of the copy. But they won’t stick around without a reason – giving visitors a clear idea of what you want them to do, a Call To Action (CTA), is essential to keep them on your site. So be direct. Tell them to ‘Subscribe Now’ if you want more email newsletter subscribers or ‘Add to Basket’ if you want them to buy something. Place the call at or near the top of the page. Spread CTAs throughout your site – and make it easy for them to contact you, whether that’s a call, email, message or form. 

Confusing navigation 

Don’t let a wacky design ruin your customer’s experience on your website! Visitors expect to be able to find their way around easily so keep your site layout and design simple, and offer a solution to their problems.  

Too much or too little content 

Our online attention spans are short. You only have a few seconds to make a good first impression and convert a visitor into a customer. If the copy doesn’t resonate with them, either in tone or content, they won’t feel like it was aimed at them. Vague details, typos and bad grammar make an even worse impression, so consider investing in a copywriter to keep your visitor focused and engaged, rather than distracted or put off by spelling mistakes and a lack of clarity. 

Describe your product or service as the answer to a common problem faced by your prospects. Reflect your target market’s tone, style, interests, behaviors and be as technical or as laidback in your language as they are. Proofread and edit your work before publishing, or hire someone to do it for you. When content resonates with people, they feel more engaged with the brand and are more likely to want to learn more. 

Not optimised for mobile 

Mobile and tablet browsing account for 54% of the market share of internet traffic in the UK, so a responsive mobile site is critical. If your customers end up accessing a desktop site from a mobile device it’s game over. Make sure your website is optimised for all devices so you don’t lose customers to competitors with more user-friendly sites. 

 Take a long hard look at your website. It needs to stand out from the 200 million active sites online these days. Does it represent your brand in the best possible way? If not, it might benefit from some of our recommended quick fixes. Or it might be time for a website re-design. Either way it’ll need ongoing TLC to keep it current. At Instinct Marketing + PR we have years of experience crafting compelling copy for client websites—and we’ll do the same for you! Contact us today to find out how we can help. 

Debbie Rennie and Diana Muzzall

Instinct launches free marketing workshops

We’re sharing the marketing love this spring with a series of free monthly workshops designed to give small businesses some of the tools to raise their profile and reach new audiences.

“As the number of small businesses and start-ups continues to grow in Scotland, so too does the demand for support with business marketing,” says Instinct’s Managing Director, Debbie Rennie. “But marketing is often poorly understood, seen as excessively time-consuming or even an unnecessary expense – and de-prioritised as a result. With our monthly, lunchtime workshops we aim to de-bunk these ideas, and give business owners some of the skills to increase their visibility, while highlighting the results that can be achieved with a little investment.

“Topics will range from video marketing and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to copywriting and marketing planning, and will be delivered in association with guest speakers from the industry. We’re delighted to be kicking off the workshops with a session on video marketing, hosted by Diana Muzzall, owner of Video Marketing Confidence.”

Diana has been helping small businesses capture attention with engaging video content for over two decades, with a focus on helping clients become more confident on camera. “I’m biased of course, but video marketing really is your best marketing tool – when it’s done well,” she explains. “In this workshop I’ll help people who don’t think they have the time, budget or know-how to recognise and ultimately harness the power of video marketing for the benefit of their business.”

Open to all, the monthly lunchtime workshops will be held in the Banchory Business Centre’s main meeting room at 12pm on Thursday 16th March, Wednesday 19th April and Wednesday 17th May.

A light lunch will be included and sessions are available on a first come first served basis only, so early booking is advised: Register here or contact our team for more information.

“Whether you’re a brand new start-up or have been running your own business for years, there will be something for everyone in these sessions,” continues Debbie. “You’ll pick up new knowledge and skills – and of course the opportunity to network with fellow entrepreneurs.”