The PR Office had the absolute privilege of visiting Manchester, the ‘Capital of The North’, this week to present at The Digital Garage, Google’s latest national digital marketing engagement programme.

Hosted in the beautiful Roman Pantheon inspired Manchester Central Library, the aim of The Digital Garage is to empower local organisations, especially small to medium sized businesses, to boost their digital knowledge by offering them free tools and tutorials. These range from making a website SEO friendly to digital marketing and understanding Google Analytics.

The PR Office senior team members – Laura Moss and Rajmeena Aujla – presented to local businesses on the importance of online reputation management, covering the basics of what a business should be doing to ensure it is ‘tomorrow ready’. They discussed the importance of understanding the art and science of Google Search and how businesses can ensure they have consistent and compelling content which seeks to inform, entertain and engage.

Three insights taken from the session:
•  A large proportion of SMEs lack understanding of the basics of SEO;
• Word of mouth and Twitter are still the most cost effective and useful tactics businesses use when promoting themselves in their early stages; and
• Despite 72% of SME businesses being attacked by cyber-security threats last year, small businesses do not feel they are likely to be affected and are not taking necessary steps to tackle and address cyber security issues for their business. Most of the audience were unaware of the free tools available from the UK Government, including what basic steps they can take to protect their business.

Leaving the Northern Powerhouse, it was clear to see that Manchester is leading the way when it comes to innovation, entrepreneurialism and digitally future proofing business (whatever its size). Business leaders have a responsibility to ensure that all staff have an awareness of the free tools available online to positively raise the visibility of their business and manage its reputation. Google, through its Alerts, Analytics, Insights, and Trends tools is essential to help educate people and a great corporate example of how an online business adds value offline.

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