Posts from February 2019

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Why long form will always be the winner in the content wars

1,000+ is the magic number for sharable content – that’s according to a report released this week. An in-depth analysis of millions of blog posts published over the course of a year revealed that longer articles generated 56% more social shares on average. This number increased even further when it came to posts of 3,000 words and more, responsible for 77.2% more referring links.


The research landed at the perfect time, as I was already busy drafting a blog on the benefits of longer form content. So, aside from the increased likelihood of social sharing, I wanted to share my thoughts on why I believe this type of content will be crucial to any business or media outlet moving forward.



Longer form content really enables writers to tell a story and build up a narrative around a topic, enabling them to put across more than one point of view in the piece (which I consider to be hugely valuable these days where a lot of the news we consume is restricted to one view point or another). These longer form pieces give us access to so many alternative viewpoints that you wouldn’t necessarily get with a shorter piece.  All of this serves to create increased value for readers.

Two of my favourite articles of the past week have taken me at least 20 minutes to read each, but the fact I’ve invested my time in doing so says to me that I value the content (and therefore who wrote it) much more.



The value of longer form writing has always been clear in my eyes, however, I think it will become increasingly important as our trust in media diminishes, largely due to the rise of fake news. Pieces that have clearly had a lot of effort and research invested in them will automatically gain the trust of reader (and Google – more below) much more than short articles. The ongoing problem of fake news is something that isn’t going away any time soon so long pieces will remain crucial to gain (and keep) consumer trust.


Search engine rankings

Getting traffic to websites is hugely important which is why clickbait and shorter form content, which is quick and easy to push out, tends to dominate the web. And there is absolutely still a place for it, meaning it’s unlikely that it will never go away. However, search engines do rank high quality content better. Google isn’t stupid, and it wants to see content that is authoritative, trustworthy and valued by readers.  


In addition, in depth content keeps those eyes on page for longer and gets bounce rates down, which is crucial for search rankings and media outlets - specifically when it comes to selling advertising.


Builds brand loyalty

As longer form content serves to keep visitors on a site for longer, it also helps to build brand loyalty and continuous discovery. Keeping a reader on a site for longer reinforces why they are there and tends to make them more likely to explore other sections of the site, rather than clicking straight off. Businesses should seriously consider this fact, and use it to inform their online experiences by thinking: how can I use these increased eyes on page to our benefit?


The future of long-form 

Clearly, longer form content delivers great value to readers. However, one of the things we now must consider – specifically when we look at long-form journalism – is how we can ensure its continuation?


Businesses can invest their own budgets in writing great longer form content, but it gets a little trickier when it comes to media outlets. In a world that believes information should be free, who forks out for these brilliant investigative pieces? In my eyes, information should be inclusive and available to all – whether they’re able to pay for it or not. However, I’m more than happy to pay a few quid out of my own pocket each week to help keep great journalism alive. 


If we want to continue to hear the views of many different people – rather than the select viewpoints of those media outlets that dominate much of the ‘free’ news agenda – I truly think this is the right thing to do. So, if you do have a spare few quid a month and really value a certain news outlet or blog, pay to get yourself behind that firewall; the future of great writing depends on it.


One final note: ironic that I haven’t managed to get this blog up to 1,000 words, eh?



Tagged with: creative PR writing, Tech PR Manchester agency, Tech PR. Digital PR

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We're finalists at the PR Moment Awards

With our name being Refresh PR, what's at the heart of our business is no secret! Whilst the agency may have evolved to incorporate other aspects of the marketing mix over the last ten years, PR is still our bread and butter.


That being said, there is nothing we love more than being recognised for our PR campaigns, and that is exactly what happened last Friday! In our first awards shortlist of 2019, we were told that we are a finalist in the PR Moment Awards, in the B2B Campaign of the Year 2019 category for our Heating Installer Awards campaign.


The Heating Installer Awards, which are operated by Refresh PR, celebrates quality heating installers across the UK. Now approaching the entry deadline, the Heating Installer Awards is in its fourth year, and is going from strength to strength. It continues to attract fantastic sponsors, all of whom want to recognise the hardworking tradespeople within the industry.


The PR Moment Awards shortlist is the most recent in a growing list of awards that we have won or been shortlisted for over the past 12 months including CIPR Pride Awards 2018, the Construction Marketing Awards 2018, the City of Manchester Business Awards 2018 and the MPA Inspiration Awards 2018.


This latest award shortlist is just one way to demonstrate the hard work we put in every day. Well done to the team, and to all other businesses that have been shortlisted. You can see the full list here:




Tagged with: Award finalist, PR award entry, PR awards

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Three PR lessons to take from #FyreFestival

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks and haven’t heard about the monumental shambles that was Fyre Festival, put simply, it was the festival that promised the world but never actually happened.


American entrepreneur Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule co-founded the festival to promote a new talent booking app, FYRE. Using their connections to attract some of the world’s biggest social media stars, the duo constructed a huge influencer campaign, selling the festival as ‘Instagram in real life’, with Kendall Jenner receiving $250,000 for a single post.


Having spent thousands of dollars on tickets for an immersive, VIP experience like no other, excited festival-goers arrived at the Fyre site on a private island in the Bahamas to find it looked nothing like the advertisements. Luxurious villas turned out to be glorified tents, catering by celebrity chef Stephen Starr was actually overworked locals handing out dubious cheese sandwiches (more on this later), luggage was thrown out of a shipping container in the dark, Blink 182 were supposed to be headlining but pulled out at the last minute...the list goes on. The dream soon descended into a nightmare, with many left stranded at the airport with no food or water.


Following the Fyre Festival saga, McFarland pleaded guilty to wire-fraud charges and was sentenced to six years in prison, ordered to forfeit $26 million. Here are three things that we can learn from his shortfalls:


Truth will always prevail


McFarland knew well ahead of the festival that it wasn’t going to deliver on a fraction of what was promised, but he still let people come, resulting in a viral disaster.


We must first be honest with ourselves, and second the audiences we communicate with, on what brands and campaigns can deliver. This ultimately comes down to good planning through setting realistic goals and executing the strategy to achieve them.


Never underestimate the power of human interest


Millions of dollars were pumped into the influencer-dominated campaign, yet a single photo of a cheese sandwich tweeted by a hacked-off festival-goer was enough to essentially finish the whole thing off.


This was far more powerful than models posing in bikinis and posting orange squares on Instagram to sell a festival they knew hardly anything about.


Why? Because it was relatable and emotive.


As was the devastating story of Pamela Carter, the caterer who was forced to give $50,000 of her savings to her staff because McFarland failed to pay them. A GoFundMe campaign set up to reimburse her has since raised more than $220,000.


Not all hype is good hype


You can have the best idea, concept or vision to exist, but if you can’t make it a reality, it effectively becomes worthless and potentially very damaging.





Tagged with: crisis management

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Three takeaways from Manchester Digital’s 2019 skills festival

Earlier this week I spent the afternoon at Manchester Digital’s annual skills audit launch – part of its week-long annual skills festival – and I wanted to share some of the key points I took away from the event.


Want some insight into what's on the minds of the North West’s tech businesses? Brexit and brainpower…


Revealing the results of its latest audit at its Manchester Tech Incubator HQ on Monday afternoon, Manchester Digital reported that 37% of firms in the region had suffered a negative business impact from Brexit concerns over the past year. Additionally, growth slowdown was reported amongst tech firms across the North West, with just 54% reporting turnover growth this year compared to 83% in 2014 – much of this attributed to Brexit worries.


Skills also remained a top concern for digital businesses in the region, with almost a third having to turn away work as a result of not being able to find the right talent to fulfil it and 60% having to inflate salaries to compete for staff.


As someone that has been present at the skills audit reveal for the past few years, the skills issue is recurring; something which threatens to hamper the growth of the entire sector. And while there are a number of great initiatives now in place from lots of businesses and universities across the region to change this, the impacts of these efforts still haven’t been felt to their full extent yet. I think it will be another few years until the sector starts reaping the full rewards of these initiatives.


It’s worth mentioning here that we’re working closely with Manchester Digital to help the organisation shout about the work it does in the region, particularly around closing the skills gap. You can read more about Manchester Digital and check out the 2019 skills audit here:


The robots are coming (but with the right prep, we shouldn’t be scared)


One of the most interesting talks of the day for me came from Matthew Gould, Director General from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. One of the topics he covered was the impending convulsion of the labour market as a result of AI advances. Matthew talked about a ‘serious displacement of people’ who are currently in what were previously thought of as ‘rock solid’ jobs.


This is the first time I have properly heard this being seriously acknowledged by someone in Government, which I thought was really refreshing. I agree with Matthew that this is going to be a huge issue and we should adequately prepare for it. Granted, it will be the monotonous, repetitive tasks in immediate danger, many of which have already gone.


To ensure that this doesn’t cause the catastrophe that many sensationalist headlines are currently “predicting”, I believe we now need to think carefully about those roles which are going to be harder to impact and consider how we can go about fostering skills and development in these areas. For me personally, this is where creative roles really come into their own - anything which requires creative thinking which can’t be done by an algorithm. I’m hoping this will lead to a bigger focus on creative and arts roles, something which was also echoed by Matthew, who emphasised the sector’s growth relies on these skills, as well as the more technical STEM ones.


The traditional ‘computer science’ degree taker stereotype is wrong, and corrosive


Sticking with the ever-apparent skills theme, my third key takeaway is something I’ve been discussing with various people for a while - and something Josh Smith from DEMOS made a very clear point of: the whole idea of what a ‘computer scientist’ is, is totally wrong. There are thousands of computer science degrees across various institutions in the UK – so why are we still suffering at the helm of a skills shortage?


Josh talked about the fact that many people have a singular view of what a job in computer science is, saying that the idea that technical skills are for certain types of people is bad. The idea that coders have to have a naturally brilliant technical mind is extremely corrosive. I’d agree that there are certain stereotypes attached to technical roles which are damaging for the talent pipeline. White man sat in a dark room behind a computer drinking red bull spring to mind?


I think the entire sector would benefit greatly from the removal of this stereotype. For me, it’s crucial to enhance the pipeline and get more people from diverse backgrounds to consider a role in the sector. For me, this starts with shouting about the huge breadth of roles available in the tech sector, and the fact that they aren’t only accessible if you have a technical background; whether you have a psychology background that would do you well in a user experience (UX) role, or a creative background which would work well in a game or app design role.


I really believe that in order to solve its talent pipeline issues, the tech sector needs to start pulling more on the talent pools of other sectors, as well as people from more diverse backgrounds - the UK’s fourth industrial revolution depends on it.





Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Tech PR Manchester agency, Tech PR. Digital PR

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The Growth of FinTech in Manchester

FinTech has really taken off recently, particularly in Manchester where a number of startups have emerged. This is perhaps unsurprising given that the city’s two largest industries are tech and financial services, and whilst London may still be the more popular location for companies in the industry, Manchester’s FinTech scene is really starting to boom.


By definition, FinTech is technology designed to improve and automate the delivery and use of financial services and it’s changing the way we bank, invest, insure and pay for things. Manchester has a long history of innovation and productivity and, as a tech enthusiast myself, I’m excited to see how the city can attract more successful FinTech companies to the area.


In order to hear more about the growth of FinTech in the city, I recently attended Manchester Digital’s ‘Fintech: Beyond the Hype’ breakfast event. The event took place at the MSP Tech Incubator, a coworking space located in Manchester Technology Centre. The dedicated hotdesking space offers start up tech companies a place to grow their business at the start of their journey and provided a fitting setting for the event.


After a pastry and a quick bit of networking, I settled down with the rest of the packed-out audience to listen to a panel of experts give their insights. The panel was made up of FinTech startup founders and tech and product practitioners, all with extensive experience and knowledge of the sector. 


The event was chaired by FinTech entrepreneur Conny Dorrestijn, who kicked proceedings off by comparing her home city, Amsterdam with Manchester, noting the similarities between the two cities with their can-do attitudes, canals and famous football teams.


Bringing their practical experience of working in FinTech to the table, the panel offered astute advice for those looking to get into the industry, giving insight on what it takes to start up a successful FinTech company.


One of the key takeaways from the event was the need for FinTech products to solve a genuine customer problem. The panel discussed that many startup companies create a FinTech solution before actually finding a problem to solve. They stressed the importance of involving the customer right at the beginning of the process and working with them to get quantifiable data before writing a single line of code.


The panel also discussed the issue of funding which proves to be a barrier for many FinTech startups. Whilst traditional retail companies buy their stock for X, sell for Y and make a profit, tech startups require huge investment before you can see whether it’s a success or not. The experts argued that although venture capital is important eventually, it’s crucial to get the product to market before investment. They asserted that startup founders should concentrate on being passionate about making a difference and that once they’ve created a solution and put everything on the line for the product, the investment will follow.


When talking about growing the right team, the panel discussed the importance of finding people that both compliment and challenge you. The same can be applied for most industries - at Refresh PR, we have a passionate mix of varying strengths and personalities which complement each other and that’s what makes us such a great team. The experts reflected that this kind of team spirit is key to any successful FinTech business.


A question from an audience member produced a healthy debate on whether a FinTech startup should choose London or Manchester as their base. I may be biased, but having spent time in London, I have to say Manchester is the superior city - it’s more budget-friendly, everything’s accessible and the people are more welcoming. There seems to be much more of a sense of community in Manchester compared to London and the panel discussed that whereas FinTech businesses tend to get drowned out in London, Manchester has a developing eco system which is geared towards helping FinTech startups thrive.


A member of the panel mentioned that he’d been to a similar FinTech event 18 months ago in Manchester which only five people had attended; fast forward a year and a half and this particular event was completely packed out, giving an indication of the recent rise of FinTech in the city. Having led the industrial revolution, Manchester has now reinvented itself as a tech hub as a result of huge growth in the digital sector. As more money and time is invested, I’m excited to see how many global brands will choose to develop their FinTech projects in and around Manchester.







Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , FinTech, Fintech PR, FinTech PR Manchester, Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Should social media be left to the intern?

One of the biggest changes to the world over the last decade has undoubtedly been the rise of social media. It’s influence has been felt across the board, from personal use to B2C, to B2B. Would we still be in touch with school friends without WhatsApp? Would elections have swung different ways if it wasn’t for Facebook? Would the Kardashian’s be famous without Instagram? Would most people even use the # key if it wasn’t for Twitter? Many parts of our lives are now shaped by social media; for many, it’s the first thing we look at in the morning and the last thing we do at night.


As mentioned, the impact of social media is not just on our personal lives, but in business and leisure too: your place of work, your favourite shop, your WiFi provider… everyone is on social media, as it is the most immediate way to interact. Depending on follower numbers, and engagement levels, millions of people have the potential be captured with one simple post.


We can all think of social media fails, and know how quickly they can go viral. No company wants to be in that position, and no employee wants to be responsible for a faux pas. So why do companies all too often leave something with such great potential (both to do both good and bad) to the least senior people in the team?


Is it because interns are usually the youngest, and therefore have grown up with social media and understand it more? This assumption may be correct to an extent, as younger people do spend a lot of time on their phones and therefore have sight of creative campaigns, understand the tone that different companies use (for example the light-hearted tone of the Greggs Twitter account vs the more corporate account of IBM). But let’s not forget, this is the most direct way that companies can interact with their stakeholders, and once you put something out on the internet it’s there to stay.


With this in mind, giving an inexperienced person complete free reign may not be the most fool proof idea, especially when there are company rules and regulations with branding and embargos. In addition, just because social media posts are usually shorter than other pieces of content, they still require thought and understanding of the topic and tone.


Ultimately, social media is great fun, and it should be a place for creativity, however when it comes to company business, no one wants to get it wrong and be turned into a meme. So it’s important to get the balance right! In 2019 social media is likely to be the first place customers go to get an impression of your brand, so make it fun but get it checked!


Here are a couple of examples of why you can’t take your eye off the ball when it comes to social media:


When YouTube mixed up its flag…

You Tube example


















When one of America’s most popular food chains forgot that Alaska is actually part of North America…

Alaska example




























Tagged with: North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Social Media