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Posts from March 2017

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Fool Me Once, Shame On You…



Or not as the case may be if you work in the wonderful world of PR and marketing. This weekend sees the start of April and a major date in the PR calendar – April Fool’s Day! A day where our creative juices can run wild and all those ideas that have been laughed out of brainstorms can finally see the light of day, and hopefully some media coverage.

 

 

Here is a round-up of some of my favourite ever April Fool’s PR stunts:

 

1. Park Inn’s E-scapes – poking fun at our addiction to social media, and the need to show off about our latest holidays with endless selfies and hot-dog legs, Park Inn created E-scapes. E-scapes was ‘launched’ as a service that takes over your social media channels to allude to the fact that you’ve treated yourself to that well-deserved break, without you having to leave the country. All of the smugness, much less cost – a great prank based around real consumer habits.

 

2. Domino’s Edible Box – an added bonus to your take-away! Not only do you get the delicious pizza, but the box is also fully edible. Actually quite upset this isn’t real, because with pizza surely it’s the more the merrier! A simple execution using a photoshopped image, but in reality, this is all an April Fool’s stunt needs to be – it shouldn’t take big budgets!

 

3. Car Bubble Wrap Service – knowing that many of their customers worry about damage to their car on a visit, Longleat Safari Park introduced a car bubble wrap service, for the bargain price of £10. Putting the service to good use, the safari park covered a car in protective bubble wrap for a perfect photo opportunity. This image got picked up by several national newspapers – giving them major exposure.

 

4. Police Cat – if YouTube has taught us anything it is that people love to watch cat videos. Thames Valley Police capitalised on this for a feline-friendly April Fool’s prank, by introducing Police Cats. Justifying the decision to introduce this new animal force, they explained cats have “curiosity which is second to none in the animal kingdom”. Accompanied by a cute video and its own hashtag, this was a purrfect prank (sorry)!

 

5. Tesco’s Bouncing Aisle – who hasn’t been in the situation when the particular bottle of wine or box of chocolates you want is on the top shelf and you’ve struggled to reach it? Just short of 5ft4 it is a situation I have found myself in many a time, but Tesco came to the rescue – nearly. The supermarket brand created bouncing aisles, with Lucy Mecklenburgh being the face of the new prank. I think we’d all agree it would make the big shop more fun if this were true. 

 

Here at Refresh we will all be keeping a close eye on our favourite brands to see if they manage to fool anyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: PR, PR agencies Manchester, Public Relations

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Three things we loved at NRB



 

 

On Tuesday 21 and Wednesday 22 March Refresh PR joined thousands of other passionate foodies from across the North at the annual Northern Restaurant and Bar Show 2017.

 

The NRB brings together industry professionals, food and drink lovers, as well as suppliers from across the North for an action packed two days, with 300 exhibitors, 65 live demonstrations and over 7,500 trade professionals.

 

The event was a highly anticipated one in the industry calendar and here are our top three highlights.

 

1.       The Food Porn Awards

Of course NRB is particularly special to Refresh PR as we joined our client and creator of the Food Porn Awards, STM Photography to announce the Yorkshire and North West winners of this year’s coveted prize.

The announcement took place on the second day of NRB in The Hub. This highly anticipated announcement came after months of trawling the region to find the most mouthwatering and food porn-worthy dishes, all of which were be available to view on the day.

 

Huge congratulations to Black Swan for taking the Yorkshire title and The Gilpin Hotel and Lake House for scooping the North West coveted prize, as well as all the other deserving category winners.

The winners’ announcement also gave us an opportunity to showcase products from another client, SkinnyBrands. All those who attended were treated to Skinny Lager and Cocktails – which went down a storm.

 

2.       Manchester Three Rivers Gin

Due to its geographic origins this is a gin that has been on my radar for some time now and as a gin lover – it’s one I was excited to know more about. So when I heard they would be exhibiting this year, I was delighted.

The Manchester Three River Gin is actually based in Green Quarter, an unusual spot for a boutique gin distillery, but recently I’ve seen this brand pop up behind the bars of several Manchester haunts. And after tasting the drink at NRB and learning more about the brand, I can safely say I will be changing my drink habits and supporting Manchester’s gin economy more often!

 

3.       Getting up close and personal

Northern Restaurant and Bar Show was a hub of activity across the two days and it gave us a fantastic opportunity to network with some of the North’s most prolific food and drink professionals.

Since moving to Manchester seven years ago, there has been an unprecedented number of openings including bars, restaurants and eating concepts. It’s really what I love so much about this city – the amount of variety on our door steps, which leaves us spoilt for choice.

NRB gave me the opportunity to see the faces behind a lot of the establishments I find myself in far too often, meet some of the most successful restauranteurs in the North, as well as introducing me to some new brands I am now keen to try.

 

We’re already excited for next year!

 

 

Tagged with: Food & Drink, Leisure, Lifestyle, Manchester, Marketing, PR

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The warmest element of the heating industry? Its community



Local tradespeople. You know the type – happy to help, provide a great service in the hope you’ll recommend them to a friend, have one-too-many brews but you don’t at all mind because they’re so polite – and chances are, you have a little black book of go-to tradespeople who you know you can trust.

 

But after they leave your property, what is it – do you think – that they get up to? If my time working on the Heating Installer Awards has taught me anything, it’s this: plumbers and heating installers do not switch off. Not fully. They typically spend their evenings on social media, congratulating other installers from the industry, learning new skills and engaging in conversation about the trade.

 

 

When we launched the second year of the Heating Installer Awards in November, it was with the same excitement as its inaugural year. We were inundated with entries for the 2016 awards, and knew it would be the same this time around, as anticipation had been building in the online and offline plumbing and heating communities.

And while the entries we receive are something to behold in themselves, our favourite part of the campaign is when we can announce the ten regional winners.

 

After a tense judging day at the start of the month, we took to Twitter on the morning of 13th March 2017 to let our avid followers know who had made the cut for the next round, according to our panel of experts.

Now, let’s be clear – this stage of the competition – as lovely as it is to inform the winners – also has its downsides. Because we also have to let down the hundreds of other applicants who hoped this would be their year. This is the part that fills us with dread.

 

 

But we needn’t have worried. After announcing the regional winners, the regional losers (for want of a better word) came out in their troves to congratulate the installer who had been selected to represent their region.

And from there, it hasn’t stopped. Each day we’re inundated with positive vibes on our social networks, in our inboxes, and on the Heating Installer Awards website from those who are voting for the national winner.

 

 

Has the cowboy tag, which has long dogged the industry, finally disappeared? Not entirely, but looking at the conversations which take place each day between the industry’s professionals, their manufacturers and suppliers, you’d never know it was an issue.

 

Yes, the warmest element of the heating industry can’t be questioned – it’s its people, community and ambassadors.

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: Heating Installer Awards, PR, Social Media

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National Careers Week 2017



Do you love creative writing and social media? Does the media excite you, and do you thrive off a fast paced environment? Well PR or marketing could be the career path for you.

To celebrate National Careers Week, We interviewed Refresh PR’s HR Director Sarah Mashiter, to find out her top tips on what it takes to nail an interview in the creative sector!

1.       With over 10 years’ experience working across a breadth of senior HR roles, we’re sure you’re aware of a few indicators that show whether someone is passionate about a role. Do you look for anything in particular within the first 15 minutes of meeting someone?

Sometimes all it takes is 15 seconds! The first thing I look for when I meet someone is that they are warm, friendly and are smart in appearance. Great eye contact and a firm handshake are a great start too, as I’m looking for people who can easily build rapport.

 

2.       What would you say are the key skills for a job in public relations?

I like to use what I call the five C’s. First of all, Collaboration is key. It’s very important for us to collaborate internally, but also with other agencies to create successful integrated campaigns. Everyone has different ways of working, so it’s a great skill to be able to work effectively and be supportive of others.

Creativity is also a vital skill, should you decide to work in PR. This is the ability to not only generate new ideas, but to also use them to solve problems and achieve great results.

Be conscientious. This includes being dependable, responsible, organised and always going the extra mile.  

Critical thinking is an important part of working in PR as it allows you to analyse, evaluate and create. The role has evolved and there are now higher expectations with fewer resources. I want people to be able to think analytically and solve problems without the benefit of previous experience.

Be committed to the job, by this I mean living and breathing the media, reading the news 24/7 and staying up to date with changes in the sectors that will have an impact on our clients.  

 

3.       Public relations is a very fast paced industry. Do you have any tips for preparing yourself for a busy working environment?

Work on building your resilience. This will give you the ability to learn and bounce back from your failures, stay positive and manage your emotions.

I’ve worked with Cargyll on a training programme to help leaders improve their resilience. Through this I learnt just how important it is to look after your health and wellbeing, as it relates to how well your brain functions. Did you know the brain is split in to three levels? The 3rd level is the thinking part of the brain concerned with higher functions – decision making, problem solving and goal achieving. But the heart is capable of switching off the 3rd level – so to avoid this, breath steadily and deeply during challenging times, as it will help you to think clearer.

Compartmentalising is something I also use that allows me to create dedicated times in the day to do specific work-related activities. Try grouping similar tasks together to get through tasks easily – it works for me!

 

4.       Research shows that more than 50 per cent of graduates end up in non-graduate jobs. Why do you think this is?

There are simply a lot more graduates and not enough highly skilled jobs. It all comes down to the quality of career guidance at A-Level and GCSE stage. Very few people at that age know what they want to do, so we need to look at how we inform students about their options and the most effective way of achieving their chosen path.  

 

5.       It’s becoming more apparent that students can’t rely solely on a degree to get a job. What would you recommend they do to stand out from the crowd?

Make the most of the summer holidays by getting relevant work experience and going over and above with internships. However, not everyone can take part in an internship, so alternatively I look for experience in a fast paced customer facing environment as it shows that you can work under pressure and can communicate with a variety of people.

Your hobbies and interests are also a great way of standing out from the crowd. Are you the captain of your netball or football team or do you write a blog? This is one way we can see who the natural leaders are and those who like to take responsibility.

Consider your social media presence. Follow the media and engage with them, and avoid posting content that you wouldn’t want brought up in a job interview.

 

6.       Careers Week isn’t only for students, do you think it’s ever too late to change career paths?

Not at all! Many people fall into a career after they leave education, rather than a passion they’ve pursued, so it’s understandable that many people look to change this later in life. I’ve seen many people change their career path due to family commitments, or the fact that they can’t progress further intheir current role, or even their industry.

 

7.       How do you know when someone is ready for a promotion and what do you advise people do if they want one?

I take in to account a combination of factors when considering if someone is ready for a promotion. First of all you have to be a strong performer in your current role in regards to its tasks, responsibilities and the required leadership behaviours and have the desire to want more. I use The CEB Approach to identify high potential employees, this recognises three combined factors, Aspiration, Ability and Engagement.

 

8.       Last but certainly not least, if there isn’t a role available would you advise people applying speculatively and if so, how?

Absolutely! Refresh PR is a growing business that is always looking to meet talented people. When a role becomes available, the people that I have spoken to or met previously will be the first I contact. Simply send an email to iwantajob@refreshpr.co.uk 

 

 

Thanks for your time Sarah.

Keep up to date with our latest work, PR news and opinions over on our Twitter account @RefreshPR.

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: Career Advice, HR, Lifestyle, National Careers Week, North West , PR, PR Agency Manchester

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Ecobuild 2017: Inspiring People, Places and Products



Fresh out of university, I’d be lying if I said I was aspiring towards a career in construction PR. Fast forward the clocks and although construction comms is not 100% of what I do, it’s certainly a sector in which I have built up (see what I did there) solid experience and have a keen interest in. Which brings me to Ecobuild – taking place this week, it has been one of the annual highlights of my working life for a number of years. Usually I’m off to London for the week armed with press materials to carry out a busy schedule of media meetings or events on behalf of one of more clients. Unfortunately, this year I’m unable to attend so instead I’ve been eagerly watching news from the exhibition unfold on social media.

 

Social media and industry news outlets have been awash with announcements from the event, from both exhibitors and visitors, so I’ve not been short of reading material. As well as the usual packed conference and seminar programme, the first two days of Ecobuild have seen the usual burst of product launches from companies across the sector, including from the Hadley Group, which launched a design competition for student architects with a prize worth up to £6,000.

 

Day one also saw the winner of Ecobuild’s Big Innovation Pitch announced. For the third year running, Ecobuild partnered with M&S in a search for commercial engineering solutions and innovations that have potential to make a huge contribution to achieving the retailer's Plan A sustainability objectives.  This year saw two winners for first time ever there - Protomax Plastics and Airedale Air Con – congrats to both!

 

Despite reports from last year claiming the show suffered from a lack of visitors compared with previous years, and many in the industry needing much convincing in order to allocate often large percentages of marketing spend to have a presence in one of the many halls, there is no doubt in my opinion that exhibitions such as Ecobuild provide a companies with the ideal opportunity to deliver compelling brand experiences to a captive, targeted audience.

 

Whether its via meetings with potential partners, live events on-stand, meetings with key media, hosting seminars or stunts etc, as long as activity is planned and executed correctly, exhibitions can provide organisations with the perfect platform to not only share their latest innovations with those who matter the most but also secure top quality business leads and gain valuable industry insight from their peers.

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: Built Environment, Construction, Ecobuild, PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Refreshing Your Library for World Book Day



Refreshing Your Library for World Book Day

 

Here at Refresh we love reading, everything from national newspapers and glossy magazines to trade titles and blogs aplenty. But as today is World Book Day, we have asked our team what their favourite read is and why – check out our recommendations below.

 

Laura Mashiter, MD

 

 

                                                                                                                       

 

Released in 1996, the year I finished my A levels, The Beach by Alex Garland, was the book that everyone was reading. In summary, it’s the story of a young backpacker who travels to Thailand and goes in search of a perfect beach untouched by the modern world.

 

What I most love about the book was that it inspired me to travel. After Uni I took a year out, working on a kiddies camp before doing a ski season in France. During the ski season the film adaption of the book was released; the seasonnaires in Courchevel rushed to the cinema for a one-night-only screening – people sat on the cinema’s floor and in the aisles so they didn’t miss it.

 

I re-read the book, and as a result I spent that summer backpacking around Australia, followed by several trips to Thailand and Vietnam. I like to think the book gave me the inspiration for some of my happiest memories.

 

Maya Powell, account executive

 

                                                                                                                         

 

My favourite book is 1000 Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. It’s a tale of two women growing up in Afghanistan in the early 1960s and the complex society they live in. It not only tells the story of the main characters, but also gives you a bit of a history lesson.

 

The story focuses on Mariam who is the daughter of a poverty stricken woman, and when her mother dies and her rich father denies her, she gets married off at a young age to a much older man. To contrast this, her neighbour Laila an educated, ambitious and beautiful young woman has a great life ahead of her, but tragedy strikes and she becomes the second wife to Mariam’s husband.

 

It made me laugh, cry and get (really) angry, but I would highly recommend it to anyone, especially any feminists out there!

 

 

 Sarah Mashiter, HR director

 

                                                                                                       

 

Upon a friend's recommendation, I was introduced to The Island by Victoria Hislop and instantly became a fan. However, it was her next book, The Return that really struck a chord. 

 

The novel intertwines a story of love and passion for dancing, as well bringing to life a harrowing account of the suffering endured during the Spanish Civil War.

 

But for me personally, it unearths some of the most enchanting qualities, as well as recounting the past atrocities of one of the most beguiling places I have been fortunate enough to live in.  A place where you cannot help but feel its vivid and visceral connection to its past - Granada, Spain. 

 

Caroline Gibson, account director

 

                                                                                             

 

The Five People You Meet in Heaven, by Mitch Albom, may be a relatively short read, but it definitely packs a punch.

 

Following one man’s journey into heaven it explores the idea that you are greeted by five people who will explain the course of your life to you. Some of those who welcome Eddie, the central character, aren’t who’d you expect and that is what makes this book so powerful.  

 

A life affirming read, this book doesn’t touch on religion or beliefs – it simply reminds us that how we behave and the choices we make are important, and your actions are bigger than you’ll ever realise in this lifetime.

 

Erin Heywood, account director 

 

                                                                                                        

 

Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins is probably one of the UK’s favourite books but it's more than a book for me!

 

Yes the story is completely captivating, and the twists and turns and ongoing uncertainty of who to trust is what keeps the reader gripped. However, what makes it a firm favourite for me is Hawkins’ ability to make the read a complete sensory experience.

 

I could almost smell the hangover on Rachel at each turn of the page, when finding out more of her spiralling state. I could feel that gut wrench in her stomach each time she reminisces on Tom’s betrayal.

 

I could imagine those beautiful London homes and their never ending gardens and – having read this book on my honeymoon – was also able to associate with being at home. Were the story not as compelling as it is, Girl on the Train wouldn’t have received the international acclaim it has, but if you’re looking for more than just a tale this could be the one for you.

 

Christy Milmine, account manager

 

                                                                                                     

 

 

I was recommended Until You’re Mine by Samantha Hayes by a friend years ago and have since recommended it to many more. I have always loved a mystery and this had me hooked from the first page! It follows the lives of three completely different women and you instantly form an opinion on each. To me the three characters represented people we have all met at some point in life, and exploring their motives and lifestyles was the key to the huge twist at the end.

 

I have yet to read a book that has gripped me like this, so I would highly recommend!  

 

 

What is your favourite book? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @RefreshPR

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: Lifestyle, World Book Day