Posts from May 2016

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‘Behind the Leather’ - the campaign that made me think twice


I’ve always been a strong believer in animal rights and have been a committed vegetarian for the last three years. That said, I’ll be the first to admit that I occasionally bend my principles for a new pair of leather shoes or that must-have suede jacket, but I’ve always alleviated my guilt by mentally separating the product from its source. Until now, that is.

So you can imagine how I felt after viewing the latest PETA campaign ‘Behind the Leather’ created by Ogilvy & Mather Bangkok. The animal rights organisation is renowned for its use of shock tactics to communicate its message, but this latest campaign makes even those with stomachs of steel squeamish.

In ‘Behind the Leather’ shoppers visit a seemingly normal Bangkok pop-up store, The Leather Work, offering ‘handcrafted luxury’ and displaying rails of exotic leather goods. It’s only after curious customers begin to investigate the products further that they’re presented with the cruel cost of the seemingly beautiful merchandise. Handbags are opened to reveal grotesque pumping hearts, belts are turned around to expose flesh stuck to their undersides and hands covered in a thick coating of blood are pulled out of gloves, leaving both the customers and the viewers jumping back in shock. In a matter of seconds, we are presented with the very real reality that the soft, attractive leather is only half of the story.

The campaign has struck a chord with me because I am one of those shoppers, lured in by luxury and the latest styles. I silence my conscience by telling myself that it doesn’t make much of a difference; the animals were probably going to be killed for their meat anyway and I don’t often buy leather products so once in a while doesn’t matter. The product is so enticing that we forget about where it came from.

While some may not agree with the graphic nature of PETA’s latest campaign, it delivers its objective, forcing us to think ‘Behind the Leather’.

You can view the campaign for yourself here, although, be warned, it isn’t for the faint hearted!


Tagged with: , Behind the Leather, Lifestyle, North West , PETA, PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Dementia care is changing… for the better



When you think of care homes for dementia patients, what springs to mind? You would be forgiven for describing a clinical environment; white walls, pale blue sturdy carpets, easy-clean surfaces and a lack of anything remotely familiar or comforting.

Even a small amount of research into the topic will show dementia patients, perhaps more so than those suffering from other mental health conditions, need to live in environments that remind them of home, which in turn helps to trigger memories, providing comfort and enabling care staff to maintain the patients’ wellbeing with ease.

Last week I attended the Design in Mental Health Event held at the National Conference Centre in Solihull, with our client SpaceZero. The exhibition was filled with companies demonstrating everything from innovative technology to ensure residents are engaged in brain-stimulating activities, to furniture that’s designed in such a clever way that it provides a sense of comfort to residents who’ve had to move to unfamiliar surroundings. It was amazing to see the initiatives being developed to make life easier both for dementia patients and their carers.

During the event, SpaceZero’s healthcare expert Kristina Mann delivered an insightful presentation that demonstrated just how much of an attack on the senses dementia can be. She transformed a basic seminar room into a chaotic, disorientating environment through the use of lighting, sound and visual equipment. It provided just a small indication of how dementia takes over a person’s life.

The presentation delved into SpaceZero’s expertise in the dementia arena; how the use of colour is integral to the safety of patients, how small touches remind those with drastic memory loss of happier times, and how adept signage can reduce challenges such as incontinence levels. As the UK’s first interior architectural practice to produce Stirling Gold–ready designs in BIM Level 2 – a set of robust design standards for care organisations that aspire to provide the best in class for dementia sufferers – there is certainly no better organisation prepared to explain how crucial design is to the long-term wellbeing of dementia sufferers.

Instigating a range of insightful questions from the audience, it was clear Kristina’s presentation had impressed. I, for one, had been captivated.

When dementia is taking up so much of the news agenda (‘Allergy medications increase risk of dementia’; ‘Over 50s are more scared of dementia than cancer’; ‘High blood pressure raises risk of dementia’), and our awareness of the impact it could have on each of our lives is increasing, it’s somewhat comforting to see experts like SpaceZero working relentlessly to ensure that, should it happen to us, the homes we’ll move into cater for our needs, are comfortable, familiar and are – most importantly – safe.




Tagged with: Birmingham, Design in mental health, Dimentia, Kristina Mann, Lifestyle, PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, SpaceZero

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Ban women? In 2016? Seriously?

When I was nine years old I picked up my first golf club and trudged out to the practice ground with a group of 10 boys for my first ever junior golf lesson. My mum, a passionate and very good golfer, drove me there and waited in the pro’s shop for an hour with all her fingers crossed that I’d return with even a tiny amount of the passion that she has for the sport instilled in me – which I did. It was 1986 and I was the only junior girl playing at my golf club.


Week after week, year after year I learned to play, the pinnacle of my short love of the game coming when I was 16 years old and won the club’s annual Ladies Open.


My parents and brother regularly told me that despite my love of hockey, tennis and badminton, my talents lay in golf – it was something I should pursue. So why didn’t I?


It was the late 80s and golf clubs were sexist. There was a clear hierarchy in the club: firstly men, then women, then junior boys, and lastly junior girls. My brother and I would queue up on the first tee on a Sunday afternoon and regularly wait one or two hours while adults came and went, taking priority. Add to this the fact that I’d been brought up by a mother who absolutely believed in equal rights for girls and boys, yet finding myself in an environment which had ‘men only’ lounges in the club house where my younger brother could go but I couldn’t, meant my frustrations grew. The final nail in the coffin was the dress code: as the only teenage girl in the club my lessons were with the boys I went to school with, yet being forced to wear out-of-date, old-fashioned outfits meant I regularly tried to bend the rules, and regularly got told off by the adult male members (who in my opinion should have been concentrating on their own games rather than mine).


What I didn’t appreciate at the time though was the fact that, being a girl, I actually should have been grateful I was allowed on the course at all! Nothing in my education had prepared me for the fact that girls wouldn’t naturally be allowed the same permissions as boys. And is there anyone who can actually believe that, 30 years on, women still aren’t allowed to walk on all courses in the UK?


A lot has changed since the late 80s and the club I played at as a child has been very inclusive for decades now – no areas are out of bounds for either women or men, the dress code is more relaxed which has invited in a whole wave of younger people (and junior girls!) which will ensure the club continues to thrive for decades to come. Like a lot of changes of policy in this life, I put this down to a new generation coming in and leading the club forwards.


So I’m proud, really proud, of the decision by the R&A to refuse to let Muirfield host The Open because it has voted to remain a men only club which continues to ban female members. It’s the only decision that could have been made by the R&A, but at the same time a decision that shouldn’t even have to be made in the first place. How embarrassing for golf, which incidentally this year is hosting the Championships at another Open venue which still excludes women, Royal Troon. 


Muirfield is yet to really comment on the decision, other than to defend its member's voting system. But after enjoying such an illustrious heritage for well over a century, I’ll be enjoying watching the outcome of this antiquated decision, while pondering how in 2016 it’s even possible that this debate is taking place. And if any PR agency steps forward to defend Muirfield, good luck to you (unless of course the decision is reversed) – sometimes the indefensible really is just that: indefensible.



Tagged with: golf, Leisure, Lifestyle, Manchester, Muirfield, North West , PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Inspiring installers floor industry judges


This week, we headed to the Ricoh Arena in Coventry for Installer2016, the UK’s largest plumbing and heating trade show. As well as checking out the latest technologies that the heating and plumbing industry has to offer, we were there for a very important reason: the Heating Installer of the Year Awards (HIOTY).

Way back in October 2015, we were appointed as the PR agency for the awards, working closely with our client, Continental Underfloor, the headline sponsor and company which established the awards. Between then and now, our team has worked tirelessly to bring the awards to fruition, liaising with our nominees, producing engaging content for social and organising the presentation itself. In March, our judges met and selected eight regional winners, who were then put up for an online public vote to decide the winner. To see the culmination of all this hard work at Installer 2016 was a fantastic experience.

Alongside Installer’s compère extraordinaire, MC Dave, Continental Underfloor’s Managing Director Chris Ingram led the presentation. After welcoming our wonderful regional winners on stage, it was time for Chris to announce who had taken the overall title. “So who won?!”, I hear you ask! Drum roll please… the UK’s Heating Installer of the Year is the North West’s very own, Dennis Hollingworth!

The moment it was announced, the crowd erupted into rapturous applause, Dennis’ friends and family chanted his name with glee and I transformed into a fully-fledged member of the paparazzi, snapping as many photos as possible to share with all of our social media followers. Dennis was delighted with his well-deserved win and it was brilliant to be able to celebrate with him, our runner up, Ian Dickson, and all of the regional winners.

As well as looking after the awards themselves, we managed to fit in a bit of star spotting and met this year’s winner of The Apprentice, Joseph Valente. Naturally, we couldn’t resist asking him for a quick photograph but stopped short of asking him for his autograph…

Having bid adieu to the Ricoh Arena and returned to our Mancunian headquarters, we’re now looking forward to working on increasing awareness of our fantastic winners and, of course, planning for HIOTY 2017. Watch this space!


Laura Holden, Joseph Valente & Lauran Mashiter





Tagged with: Continental Underfloor, Heating Installer of the Year Awards, HIOTY, Home Interest, Manchester, Networking Event, North West , PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Refresh PR bolsters senior team with two new appointments

Award-winning Manchester PR agency, Refresh PR, has welcomed two new members to its senior management team following a successful start to 2016.

 Refresh PR senior management team

Emma McCallum and Sarah Mashiter join the city centre agency as associate director and HR and operations director respectively to support the company’s budding client base and spearhead its future growth strategy.


Bringing more than eight years’ experience from her previous role at MC2, Emma has implemented PR and marketing campaigns for some of the UK’s most high profile businesses, including Assura, Business Growth Fund, Secure Trust Bank, HSBC, Ainscough, Crane Hire and Deloitte Real Estate.


Sarah joins the Refresh team with over 10 years’ experience in the client contacting industry working across a breadth of senior HR roles. Having touched upon all aspects of HR strategy, employee relations, resourcing, learning and development, change and leadership management and organisational design throughout her career so far, Sarah will be utilising her experience to improve operational processes, implement stronger training programmes, launch the Refresh Academy and support the wider team with Refresh’s day-to-day operations.  


Laura Mashiter, founder and managing director of Refresh PR, said: “It’s been an exciting start to 2016 for team Refresh with business growth, client and project wins and fresh new talent joining our expanding team.  


“We’re delighted with our new recruits, especially as Emma’s previous experience dovetails perfectly into our future growth plans, which focus on two core sector targets and the wider team’s combined experience within construction and food and drink. Bolstering our team not only allows us to drive forward with future expansion, but enables us to support team development whilst maintaining the values we’ve worked hard to establish over the last seven years.”

Emma and Sarah join existing senior management team members Laura Mashiter, Gemma Killackey and Claire Gamble.


For more information about Refresh PR, visit or call 0161 871 1188. Follow Refresh PR on Twitter - @RefreshPR.







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

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New Instagram logo – love it or loathe it?

Instagram this week revealed a new logo and look. Gone is the retro brown icon which has become recognisable by Instagrammers all over the world since it launched in 2010, replaced by a simpler outline of a Polaroid camera with a pink, purple and orange coloured background.

Commenting on its blog about the change, Instagram said: “The Instagram community has evolved over the past five years from a place to share filtered photos to so much more — a global community of interests sharing more than 80 million photos and videos every day. Our updated look reflects how vibrant and diverse your storytelling has become.”

While the new look may be intended to reflect a new era of Instagram, the reaction from the public has been mixed. From GIFs mocking how simple it looked to create to some, um, interesting descriptions of what the new logo looks like (“As if the camera was murdered, and chalk was drawn around its body. Murdered at sundown”), social media users, journalists and marketing professionals alike have all been quick to voice their opinions online.

On an online poll on The Telegraph, recent stats show 82 per cent of voters prefer the old logo while only 18 per cent prefer the new one. And how did I vote? I voted that I prefer the new one. “WHY?” I hear you cry. “It looks like it’s been designed by an eight-year-old on Microsoft Paint!! #Facepalm”

Listen up people. For brands to be successful and remain relevant to their customers and users, they have to evolve and adapt. And often that means updating its branding to mark this change and new chapter in its development.

Instagram has come a long way since it was first launched. It’s not just used to document photos of dinners and dogs anymore, it’s a powerful tool for individuals, businesses and organisations to communicate their ideas, thoughts, beliefs and creativity. From politicians and celebrities to bloggers and people like you and me, 400 million people all around the world now use the platform.

So let’s not get caught up in how the logo looks – let’s explore new ways of using the platform to communicate, engage and inspire – and of course, post pictures of our meals and cute baby animals.



Tagged with: Instagram, Logo, Manchester, North West , PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Social Media

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With summer now starting to creep through after what feels like a very long winter, it’s time to defrost those flip flops, dust off the sunglasses and start dreaming of long summer days in Manchester’s best beer gardens. So, to ensure you catch every ray, we have put together a list of Manchester’s best summer hot spots.

1.       Dukes 92

This bar-come-restaurant is the perfect location for tanning and relaxing this summer. With one of the largest outside areas the city has to offer, Dukes sits in the picturesque heritage site of Castlefield. Enjoy a drink by the canal, or sample the Strawberry Daiquiri’s served from the slush machines during summer. This venue also boasts a very extensive and very delicious barbeque serving till late during the weekends.

Top tip: Get down early, as this place gets busy from about 11am during the peak summer months!

2.       Screenfields

Summer 2016 welcomes back the return of Spinningfields’ outdoor cinema, Screenfields. Screenfields is positioned in the heart of Spinningfields within the gardens of The Lawn Club. Relax in the Spinningfields sun chairs, whilst enjoying an array of movies on the large screen, with classics such as It’s A Wonderful Life and Pretty Woman. This alfresco cinema is the perfect way to enjoy those long hot summer evenings whilst sipping from the large selection of cocktails on offer at The Lawn Club. During Wimbledon

Screenfields also show all the matches, along with serving strawberries and cream for all those sporting fans!

Top tip: Members of The Lawn Club benefit from free cinema tickets. To join The Lawn Club, simply register on its website and there you have it, free viewing! 

1.       Spinfest

Another Spinningfields-based event, Spinfest is the annual summer festival from Manchester favourite, The Oast House. The stage and outdoor bars are a permanent fixture at The Oast House during the summer months and welcome a host of live musical talent. The festival itself is free to attend and last year welcomed some very up and coming Manchester talent such as the Little Comets. The friendly vibe and jugs of Pimms makes this a city summer hot spot!

Top tip: The indoor bar gets very warm and very busy so ensure you bring cash to make use of the outdoor bar and avoid a lengthy wait.



Tagged with: Dukes 92, Lifestyle, Manchester, North West , PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Screenfields, Spinfest, Summer

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Calling all Consumer Account Managers

Calling all Consumer Account Managers

A new challenge awaits…


At Refresh PR we pride ourselves on our ability to get under the skin of our clients’ businesses.  Giving bold, strategic advice based on robust insight we deliver fresh and inspired ideas with consistent results. Our fast-growing client base ranges from cutting-edge business start-ups to national companies across both public and private sectors.


We’re looking for a confident and articulate person with a passion for PR who will relish the chance to join the team as our consumer account manager working across a range of consumer accounts.


You’ll have already gained valuable agency experience so will be really good at developing and managing creative consumer focussed campaigns and PR plans aligned to clients’ objectives.  You’re great at building relationships; you’re a trusted partner to your clients and you’ve proven experience in managing and coaching teams to ensure they are delivering quality results consistently. From networking to developing and delivering pitches, you have a real passion for business development and will want to bring on board new clients which you’re passionate about. 


More broadly, we’re looking for someone filled with energy and enthusiasm who is proactive, persistent and methodical in their approach with a real eye for detail – you may pride yourself on being a perfectionist! You are considerate and supportive - a real team player with the ability remain calm and considered when faced with new or pressurised situations. You’ll be confident to manage and develop our talented consumer PR team while supporting with recruitment as the team grows.


Working in a fantastic location in the Northern Quarter, we’re a sociable bunch of like-minded people who really enjoy what we do.  We’re proud to be a fun, friendly team offering a more flexible approach to work.  As a fast-growing business, we can offer you the unique opportunity to input in to the direction of this business.  What’s more, we’re focused on helping our people grow and achieve their potential through our mentoring programme – where our team works alongside experienced PR practitioners - and our structured training and development programme.


Interested in applying or finding out more about the role? Send your CV to








Tagged with: , Account Manager, consumer, Manchester, North West , opportunity, PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Jobs, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Vacancy

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My first fortnight with Refresh PR

It’s hard to believe that it’s only been two weeks since I joined the Refresh PR team. I say this because in the last fortnight I’ve experienced so much, and been made to feel so included that it feels like I’ve been here forever.

The first thing that really surprised me on my first day at Refresh was the hefty induction timetable. This wasn’t just a quick run through of the company policy and somebody showing me the toilets. This was a week long timetable including training on everything from Gorkana to magazines and coverage, as well as separate introductions for each individual client and one-on-one time with every member of staff. To say I was full of knowledge by the end of it is an understatement, but I have also never felt more prepared and well equipped to take on any task thrown at me.

Of course the best way to learn is through experience, and goodness, have I experienced! In the past few weeks I’ve worked on some really exciting national campaigns for our clients Care2Save, Arbonne and the Glass and Glazing Federation, as well as selling in stories, writing press releases, and putting together media lists. It’s been enlightening to witness the effective way the Refresh team crafts and implements creative, engaging and most importantly, successful PR campaigns on a daily basis. They say that no two days are ever the same in PR, and at Refresh that is definitely true.

Finally, the best part of being a Refresher is how welcoming and friendly everyone has been. Thanks to multiple lunches (and after work drinks) I’ve been able to get to know everyone on a personal as well as professional level and have been made to feel like a valued member of the team. It’s been so lovely to feel like there is a genuine network of people ready to offer help or support should I ever need it.

I joined Refresh PR looking for an exciting, fast paced, and engaging challenge, and that seems to be exactly what I’ve found.

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