Posts from October 2017

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PR horror stories

October - the month that the majority of us now associate with Halloween due to its increasing popularity over recent years. It now dominates social media, from makeup tutorials to plumbing horror stories. Anyone and everyone can get involved, and because we didn’t want to feel left out, we compiled a list of some recent PR tales of terror. Be warned, some are very, very frightening…

1. Monarch - Earlier this month, Monarch, the low-cost airline left passengers stranded abroad. “Important! Monarch has stopped operating. Please do not go to the airport.”” read the message sent out by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The way Monarch handled the situation can only be described as horrific. It left employees and holiday makers heartbroken. After 49 years of flying tens of millions of passengers to Europe and beyond, Monarch seemed unable to communicate its situation not only to customers, but staff too. An email was sent to employees by Andrew Swaffield, the CEO, just days before the collapse, telling them to avoid speculation about the airline’s problems, giving many false hope. 

2. Uber - Earlier this month Refresh PR wrote a blog detailing the events surrounding Uber’s fate in London. It was brought to the attention of the public that it had not been conducting thorough background checks on its drivers and hasn’t been reporting criminal offenses directly to the police. Although Uber fought for its right to remain on the streets of London, its licence was denied renewal. Uber received overwhelming support on social media as many members of the public took to Twitter to declare their outrage. However, it goes to show even mass social media support sometimes isn’t enough. The decision led to terrifying PR for the firm. 

3. Dove - The beauty brand often recognised for its empowering campaigns found itself in a sticky situation when it uploaded a three second video on its US Facebook page. The video showed a black woman removing her top to reveal a smiling white woman underneath and was deemed racist by many. Dove received a huge amount of negative press as many were in shock that the company could go against its well established brand values of equality and inclusiveness. 

4. Misguided - The clothing store Misguided, a brand extremely popular with women and teenage girls, got itself into a PR crisis when it decided to put up a neon sign in its Bluewater store in Kent saying: ‘Send me nudes x’. Rachel Gardner, a youth worker, declared her disappointment with the sign, creating a petition for it to be taken down. 9000 people signed the petition, believing the sign promoted a negative culture and was very disrespectful. 

Although some of these PR fails are truly terrifying they did get people talking about the brand, which always begs the question - is any press good press?

Tagged with: PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign essential, PR Manchester, Public Relations

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CMA shortlist success for Refresh PR

For our B2B team, the Construction Marketing Awards are a highlight of the year. For one night, we get to celebrate the hard work put in over the year on our built environment clients, and now that the shortlist for this year's awards has been released, we're thrilled to say 2017 will be no different.

This year, Refresh PR has been shortlisted for 'Best use of Press & Public Relations' for our Window With a View campaign and ‘PR Agency of the Year’. 

Our Window with a View campaign, which we launched on behalf of our client, has been finding the best views across the UK for the last two years. We have generated great pieces of coverage throughout the campaign, whilst achieving results that were aligned with our client’s key business objectives.  

We are also incredibly proud to be shortlisted for ‘PR Agency of the Year’. With more than three decades of experience in built environment PR across our team members, we provide innovative and creative ideas, that drive results, for a range of clients within the construction sector. We're so proud to say this has been recognised by the CMA judges, and can't wait to see if we take any accolades home on the night. 

Congratulations to all those shortlisted!

You can view the full shortlist here:

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment, Manchester, PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Regeneration and Retrofitting in Manchester

Refresh PR specialises in built environment PR. From student accommodation and flooring, to plumbing and glazing, we have more than 30 years combined experience. 

As a Manchester based PR agency, we have witnessed the city’s regeneration over recent years, and it is something that interests us immensely. Yesterday we were lucky enough to attend the UKGBC (UK Green Building Council) Regeneration and Retrofit Task Group Report launch in Manchester, where a panel of industry experts from Clarion Housing Group, SmartKlub, UKGBC, GMCA and DCLG touched on different elements of regeneration in the housing market.

One important element of the talks was regarding the Government’s prioritisation of regenerating some of the most deprived areas in the country in order to improve levels of employment, health, connectivity and fuel poverty, as well as crime and antisocial behaviour levels. Whilst demolition and rebuild may work for some regeneration schemes, it will not be viable, wanted or appropriate for all and so retrofitting can be the best solution.

Some of the benefits of regeneration and retrofit discussed were:

Upskilling the community

Although one problem with retrofit regeneration, particularly in terms of energy efficiency, is the lack of trained workers available, this present the opportunity to upskill people. Often initiated in areas with a higher unemployment rate, the scheme hopes to train members of the community to complete the jobs, leaving a long term legacy. This will not only improve the immediate locality, but leaves long term benefits to the wider community.  

Representation of the community

Rather than tell a community what will be happening to their homes, the scheme works with householders to implement a scheme that will benefit their day-to-day lives. This generates a sense of ownership and encourages pride within the community, meaning the developments are more likely to be maintained and invested in further.

Zero carbon targets

The scheme works towards the government’s carbon targets to reduce emissions by 57% between 1990 and 2030. By installing a range of energy efficient upgrades, such as ground source heat pumps, solar panels and cavity wall insulation, the regeneration will aid in reaching governmental targets.

Whilst retrofitting upgrades into pre-existing properties are important, it is paramount that new developments, currently in construction stage, are designed and built to be zero carbon. Whilst it is difficult to execute, for example ground source heat pumps cannot be zero carbon until the footprint of the electricity grid is improved, implementing this technology at build stage will mean there is a reduced need for expensive retrofit schemes 10 years down the line.

To read the full executive summary, click here

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment, Manchester, North West , PR

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Does ethical PR equal good PR

In this fast moving industry where do we source our ethical guidance?

As marketing professionals it is our role to promote people, brands or companies, to change consumer behaviour – whether that is buying a product or voting for a politician. But with this power comes responsibility, as Bell Pottinger recently found out when it was removed from a leading industry body, following a campaign that the PRCA claimed spread racial hatred.

We also recently read about the TV advertisements which received the most complaints in 2017. One featuring a businessman twerking in high heels, another a kissing scene between a same sex couple and one which shows a mother telling her son about his dead father’s favourite  burger.

Whether you are offended by these ads or not, the point is that there is a regulator which is actively protecting UK consumers from misleading advertising or ones they find inappropriate. Whereas for PR the lines are not as clear-cut. 

For example, the ASA has recently tightened its rules on advertising high fat, salt and sugar foods (HFSS) to children, following the original ruling in 2006, to include social media – a reflection of children’s media viewing habits.

However, this ruling doesn’t include any PR activity. Yes, the PRCA and CIPR have codes of conduct, but these are best practice guidelines which allow you to be part of the industry bodies. There isn’t actual legal implications or restrictions for not following them.

So, it poses the question – where do PR agencies get their ethics from? 

Here at Refresh PR we get our ethics from our people and our clients.

Firstly we only employ the best people across our built environment, food, drink and retail, leisure and lifestyle, and tech teams, professionals who are able to connect the dots between business objectives, current consumer behaviour and future trends to create campaigns that achieve impact for all the right reasons.

Secondly, we will only ever work with brands that we believe in and which are as transparent with us about their operations as we are with them. From low calorie alcohol and botanically based health and beauty to student accommodation and social enterprises, our clients are passionate about their products and providing the best to their customers.

Both of these factors mean that we rarely have to question the ethical impact of the work we’re doing and if we are ever unsure we simply change tack, for something equally as impactful but without any negative connotations.  

Tagged with: creatiive agency Manchester, Creative Agency, Marketing, PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign essential, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Is the whole really greater than the sum of its parts?

Simply put, yes! Whether you believe the rule of seven or not, there is nothing more impactful than a campaign that communicates the same message to its audience across all of its platforms. Whether that’s a social media campaign that complements the print advertising, or a feature in a magazine that backs up the brand messages shared on its latest viral video – consistency is key.

It’s for this reason that we enjoy working with other agencies to create a ‘whole’ campaign that makes an impact and ultimately changes behaviour.

However, with so many creative brains around one table, inter-agency relationships can sometimes be challenging, as everyone champions their own discipline, often fighting for budget. The first step towards a harmonious working relationship is to always remember you’re all working towards the same goal – success for your client.

This means it is essential to know what that goal is right from the start of the campaign, so setting measurable objectives is a must. The objectives should cover the entire campaign, as well as individual goals for each specialism; this means everyone can focus on their own targets while celebrating each other’s success.

To ensure the correct targets have been set it is vital that each agency is open and honest about its own specialisms, what they are able to achieve and how this fits with the client’s objectives. The marketing mix exists because each element offers a different approach and impact – so maximise on these. A conversation early on about roles and responsibilities will lead to a much smoother campaign journey.

Once these roles and objectives are in place there is the opportunity to cut out the client, if required. Remember, your client is busy, they are not there to manage these inter-agency relationships, so take the initiative to set up your own conference calls or meetings – so everyone is up to date on progress, while strengthening the working relationship.

So when it comes to inter-agency relationships and campaigns just remember the four Cs – clarity, consistency, celebrate, communicate. 

Tagged with: Marketing, PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign essential, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Sponsor the Heating Installer Awards - opportunities available

The Heating Installer Awards is back for 2018, and we have numerous sponsorship opportunities available for companies that want to be involved with this award winning campaign!

Established in 2015 to celebrate plumbers and heating installers who provide outstanding levels of service every day, but often go unrecognised, the awards has – for the last two years – shone a spotlight on heating installers who go the extra mile to make the industry special.

The Heating Installer Awards campaign secured recognition at the 2016 Construction Marketing Awards and most recently through the international B2B Marketing Awards, partly due to the benefits and return on investment enjoyed by the sponsors.

The 2017 campaign, which came to a climax at Installer2017 in May, brought about huge benefits for our sponsors:


       Direct marketing and engagement with more than 50,000 plumbing and heating installers

       Targeted social media campaigns to support sponsor events and product launches

       8,000 website visitors viewing sponsor news articles and content

       Brand mentions in broadcast, print and online press material, generating more than 8 million opportunities to see

In the third year of this campaign, we’re adding an extra element to the competition: Apprentice of the Month. Run entirely on social media, sponsoring this monthly recognition of outstanding plumbing and heating apprentices exposes young talent to your brand at the very start of their career.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available for both the Heating Installer Awards and Apprentice of the Month, with prices starting at £5,000 for 10 months of activity.

If you wish to hear more about packages available and how we can use the awards’ presence in the industry to promote your brand, please email or call 0161 871 1188. You can also visit for more information.



Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment

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What is Legitimate Interest, and does it affect you?

The EU General Data Protection Regulation, otherwise known as GDPR, is a hot topic at the moment, with thousands of businesses across the UK currently adapting their data protocol in time for the changes coming into play in May 2018. For built environment organisations, your supply chain, members, installers and retailers are vital for business, so you’re more than likely to be affected by GDPR.


‘But I process data for the greater good!’ we hear you cry. ‘I have to process client data, otherwise how will they know about the company?’ is another common worry.

The legitimate interest clause – which is currently going somewhat under the radar – is providing built environment brands with some security amidst the confusion.


The clause, one of the six lawful grounds for data processing in Article 6.1 of the GDPR, states:

·     [Processing is] necessary for the purposes of legitimate interests pursued by the controller or a third party, except where such interests are overridden by the interests, rights or freedoms of the data subject


There are some examples where legitimate interest may apply – risk assessment, for direct marketing purposes, existing relationships (agency and client, for example) – but for those working in built environment, certain areas are particularly pertinent:


Personalisation is key in many digital marketing campaigns and today, is expected by users. For you, it could be tailoring the web journey to make it easier for installers to buy their previously bought items again. Or providing bespoke incentives to suppliers you want to extend contracts with. However, under the new GDPR rules, personalisation as we know it will be heavily controlled and marketers will need to have evidence that they have permission to target their users with marketing and comms. The legitimate interests clause within GDPR however, means companies can justify using analytics to personalise website content for each user. It is argued providing a better UX is in the user’s best interest, and therefore particular elements of personalisation may not be liable to GDPR.

Web analytics

As an industry that is becoming increasingly digitally-focused, web analytics are pivotal to success in the built environment industry. So good news: you can happily use diagnostic analysis to track visitors, posts, user journey and social media metrics to advise future marketing campaigns without fear of a fine under GDPR. This information must be used for business intelligence. Cookie consent, however, is a different matter so make sure you’re clear on the difference.

Artificial Intelligence

Many elements of the supply chain use artificial intelligence; whether to demonstrate how in-progress developments will look and feel when complete, or to tailor online purchasing systems to make transactions of materials quicker and easier. Certain elements of AI do not fall under GDPR and many companies will not need to change their processes to facilitate this. It’s more a case of what you do with the data after this stage so be clear on what applies to you and what doesn’t.

While legitimate interest can provide some reassurance, it is important that companies understand GDPR, what it is and how to best implement processes to protect your company. If the groundwork isn’t put in before the 25th May 2018, when GDPR comes into effect, the consequences to your business could be catastrophic.

If you want to understand more about GDPR and need our help, get in touch and we’ll explain how it will affect your business from next year.

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment

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International ‘National Day’ Week

With everyday bringing with it a new national or international day – has it gone too far?


This week is National Chocolate Week, National Curry Week and World Egg Day and as delicious as these sound, are they really likely to make you eat more chocolate, curry or eggs (like we need an excuse anyway)?


Which makes me wonder, are we just having these days for the sake of it? An excuse for marketers to create some fancy content linking to it in the hope that the hashtag is trending.


But also this week we had World Mental Health Day (Tuesday 10th), a day that tries to break the taboo around mental health and encourage people to talk about it openly. Unlike its foodie counterparts, this day really does have the potential to, at worse, raise awareness of the issue and, at best, change social behaviour in the long term.


World Mental Health Day saw a flurry of celebrities, journalists and influencers talk openly about mental health issues they’ve experienced in the past and post on their social channels and beyond that it’s OK to not be OK – a powerful message that hopefully resonated with anyone suffering.


The day also saw Kate Middleton’s return to the spotlight for the first time since announcing her pregnancy, at a royal event for the awareness day, demonstrating how centre stage the event was in the social calendar.


So in between the National Talk Like Pirate Day, National Chip Week and British Sandwich Week, there are some events that are making us take notice of the important issues in life (although who doesn’t love a chip butty).


So let’s continue to recognise World Mental Health Day, International Women’s Day, Foster Care Fortnight and all the other national days and weeks that are putting important issues at the forefront.



Tagged with: Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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The future of Uber: will it crash and burn?

It has recently come to light that Uber, the taxi firm, will be fighting a decision made by Transport for London, to strip it of its licence. It was concluded last week that Uber has not been conducting thorough background checks on its drivers and hasn’t been reporting criminal offenses directly to the police.

The Uber chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, said he was sorry for the "mistakes we've made” and has admitted that the company needs to change its ways. However, its license is set to expire on the 30th September. The Mayor of London has acknowledged the apology but with London being the company’s biggest market in the UK, the main question on my mind is, has Uber completely damaged their reputation? Will it be able to overcome this hurdle, or will the brand image be tarnished forever?

What will make or break the firm will be the way in which it reacts and responds to the issues that it faces. It needs to ensure that it is being proactive in making a change in its actions. It must reassure the public that the same mistakes will not be made again as many customers may not feel safe getting into their taxis due to the reported increase in incidents of sexual assault by Uber drivers.

However, using the power of social media, it could be suggested Uber may be able to turn the situation around. It has begun a petition to “Save your Uber in London” and has already received 720K votes, suggesting the firm still has support from the public.

It has focused greatly on social media to appeal to the public, conducting a variety of tweets. It could be argued it is trying to play into the hands of the public by appealing to emotions, as it tweeted that 40,000 drivers risk losing their jobs and livelihood. The public have been engaging with social media to express their opinions about the issue.

It is interesting to question whether or not this situation has brought to light flaws in the company structure or, has it made people realise how crucial Uber is in their day to day lives?

The public response has been mixed, however, a recent article by the Evening Standard has suggested that Londoners are against the TfL decision. An analysis of a variety of social posts found that more than 51,000 online conversations have shown that 64% were against the decision and 25% were in favour.

It has been argued that it will be a major lifestyle change for those who have relied on the service for getting to work and could potentially impact the economy. This makes me question our moral stance: are we willing to put our ethics on the back burner for convenience? Rather than focusing on Londoners’ safety are we focusing on the practicalities?

It is clear that Uber has said all the things that we want to hear and has gained a lot of support from the public, but the next few weeks will be critical for the firm. It must show us that it is changing its ways before it reaches a point of no return. If it does manage to overcome the ruling it may be great PR for the firm as it shows just how much the public love them. And that is the best brand advocacy that money can’t buy.

Tagged with: Lifestyle, PR, Public Relations