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Posts from June 2016

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Are we losing the human touch?



The headline said: ‘Pepper Drone-I’. I read on.

‘Drones delivering pizza will be amongst the biggest advances of the next 20 years, Brits predict,’ was the opening paragraph. Here we go again, I thought.  

Can I just make one thing clear? I am fully and completely aware of the benefits that technology – and its never ending advancements – brings to our life. When being used for the greater good, such as improving the delivery of healthcare, making supply chains more efficient and building platforms for free speech, believe me, I can’t get enough.

But every morning, when the Refresh PR team gathers to read the newspapers and share the day’s headlines, I’m hearing such ludicrous stories about new uses for technology that I worry we’re starting to rely on it more than we rely on each other – the people we live with, work with, socialise with.

According to The Sun, drones will one day soon be delivering my 14” meat feast with extra mushrooms and garlic sauce to my door. This is something that, apparently, the British public wants. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d find it rather unnerving to open my door and see an emotionless, floating robot holding my pizza rather than the lovely chaps from my local, friendly pizza establishment who deliver my meal with a smile (making me feel slightly less guilty about breaking my wedding diet… again).

Calm down, I hear you say; it’s just a drone delivering pizza. Except it’s not, is it? The list goes on. And on.

Take for example Rolls Royce, a quintessentially British brand that embodies all things traditional, which is currently developing its first driverless car. Complete with in-built sofa and glass canopy (fancy!), the new Rolls Royce 103EX will come complete with an A.I. chauffer called Eleanor. I’m sure she’s lovely, but when exactly did we fall out of love with driving to the extent we wouldn’t actually want to DRIVE one of the world’s most luxurious cars?

 

Did you know the surge in people taking selfies has led to a rise in coastal deaths? Yes, people have become so engrossed by the gadget in their hands they’re risking their safety and in some cases actually losing their lives.

Apparently, there’s a fear amongst workers whose bosses encourage them to use wearable technology that they’re being spied on. My question is why do bosses feel the need to outlay a huge amount of cash on wearable technologies in the first place? How about picking up your work and sitting with your team, getting involved in conversations and helping motivate them? If someone’s not pulling their weight, you’ll know about it sooner than waiting for a monthly data report back from their FitBits.

And there’s more! News broke last week of the first ever ‘social media wedding’. A couple getting married in Nottingham have hired iPhone-carrying photographers to live stream their nuptials to their Facebook and Twitter followers, with updates every 15 minutes until the end of the day. The bride said: 'It's the one day that's all about you and if you have different people talking about it all over the world, on different formats, it makes it that extra special’.

Warning: harsh content coming up. Seriously, why does the opinion of someone on the other side of the world, who’s never met you, knows nothing about you and will forget all about you as soon as they switch off the stream, even matter? Surely the most important thing about your wedding is to share it with the people who you love, and more importantly, who love you.

If things carry on the way they’re going, we’re at serious risk of losing the beauty of the human touch all together. All at once we seem more connected than ever and yet so far removed from the person standing next to us that they might as well be thousands of miles away.

Technology is fantastic; it’s an enabler, it’s increasingly intelligent and it allows us to do some wonderful things. In my line of work, when I’m learning more and more about social media platforms and virtual reality, I’m firmly of the belief it serves a great purpose. So let’s use it to improve our lives, our hobbies, our work, our relationships – not completely replace them. Call me old fashioned, but nothing beats an actual face-to-face conversation, whether it’s with a client, a colleague, a friend or my family. After all, isn’t that what makes us human?

 

 

 

 

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

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Is a picture really worth a thousand words?



The news last week that Twitter is introducing functionality to enable brands to target users by emoji has, according to Campaign, put another nail in the coffin of the written word. Coincidentally, on the same day that this emoji story broke, I attended a creative therapy session that provided interesting insights into the dramatic shift in PR from traditional modes of communication to visual, interactive content; it’s no longer what you tell your audience, but how long you can hold their attention for.

 

This is the smartphone generation after all and we (apparently) have no time to read articles; I’ve got a high score to beat on Angry Birds! Right? As a proud English graduate and believer in the power of language, you may think this prompted some kind of existential crisis for me. In fact, I asked myself, is a picture really worth a thousand words? While it’s true that dwell time has become a viable measure of success for some campaigns, such as Deliveroo’s fun gherkin puzzle, I don’t think we should be mourning the written word quite yet.

 

There are still plenty of occasions where businesses can use words to generate the right results, whether that’s a thought leadership piece to offer expertise and build credibility on a particular topic, or penning an open letter to raise awareness of a social issue or charitable cause. At the same time, campaigns have been known to overstep the mark due to the language they use.

 

Let’s take the EU Referendum campaign and the recent controversy surrounding Nigel Farage and UKIP’s anti-immigration poster as an example. The image shows the suffering of migrants and refugees fleeing violence in their own country, in tandem with the phrase “breaking point” to intentionally stoke fears around immigration. This divisive language is completely at odds with Brendan Cox’s incredibly poignant statement about his late wife, Jo Cox MP. The poster and statement demonstrated in one day how words can either be used to divide or unify.

 

 

In my own life I find words give colour, humour and happiness to the everyday. I’m getting married in September and on our table name stationary we have images that we associate with places that are special to us. Enter stage right, an alpaca from Kent and a lobster from Springfield... Without a short accompanying description on the table stationary, this wouldn’t mean much to anyone other than Tom and I, but words tell stories and invite others into your world in a way that pictures sometimes fail to do alone.

 

I’m of the belief that words are not redundant for brands, campaigns or people, nor do I believe that they are mutually exclusive from images. The acceleration towards video and image-based content is exciting and positive, and can be done without leaving words behind.

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Tagged with: Emoji, Images, Manchester, Marketing, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Twitter, value of words

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Calling all Consumer Senior Account Managers



Calling all Consumer Senior 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 consumer team as our senior account manager and quickly progress to director level with the support of the Refresh Leadership Academy.

 

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 sarah@refreshpr.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: , account director, Jobs, Manchester, opportunities, opportunity, PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, senior account manager, Social Media, vacancies, Vacancy

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Picture perfect: Window with a View judging day



Last week, Erin and I went down to Birmingham to meet our client MyGlazing – the new consumer-facing website from the not-for-profit trade organisation The Glass and Glazing Federation (the GGF) – and a panel of experts from the tourism, architecture, interiors and photography industries for the Window with a View judging day.

If you’ve been following Refresh PR on Twitter, you’ll no doubt have noticed a number of updates on the Window with a View campaign, which aims to find and celebrate the UK’s best windows with views. At Refresh PR we love thinking of creative ideas to meet our clients’ briefs, and we came up with this visual and interactive campaign in order to meet MyGlazing’s objectives of boosting awareness of the new brand, driving people to the website and encouraging people to think about the benefits of modern, energy efficient glazing.

The first stage of the competition saw us encouraging people to enter photos of windows in buildings or attractions that are open to the public which have interesting, beautiful or unusual views. Twitter and Instagram were key channels for us to use in order to encourage people to participate in the competition, and we also liaised directWindow with a view judges ly with hundreds of organisations and business owners to get them on board.

We received over 150 entries from all kinds of buildings and attractions – including libraries, museums, hotels, bars and even derelict cottages. The views and photographs were stunning and we were extremely impressed by the quality and diversity of images we received.

The challenge our judges had last week was to score each entry to create a shortlist of four for each of the 12 geographical areas we’ve split the competition into. The judges (Aaron Andrews, creative director of The Gifted Few; Bernard Donoghue, director at Association of Leading Visitor Attractions; Ståle Eriksen, architectural photographer; James Lee, head of group marketing and communications at the GGF; Katy Tonkinson, partner at Hawkins Brown marked each image on three criteria – the window, the view and the photograph overall. At the end of the day, they also decided on an image to win the Judges’ Special Prize.

We’re delighted with the regional shortlists for the Window with a View campaign – they show the vast variety of wonderful architecture and scenery the UK has to offer, from landscapes to city skylines. Next week, we’ll announce the shortlists and the public will be able to vote for their favourites for each geographical areas. The winner for each region will then be put forward for another round of voting to win the ultimate title of the UK’s best Window with a View. We can’t wait to see the outcome of the first voting stage!

If you’ve been following Refresh PR on social media over the last few weeks, you will have seen us sharing lots of updates on a campaign we’re working on with for our client MyGlazing, the new consumer-facing website from the not-for-profit trade organisation The Glass and Glazing Federation.

The campaign – Window with a View – is a national hunt to find and celebrate the UK’s best windows with views. Nominations opened earlier this year. The window could be in any building or attraction that is open

Tagged with: Hawkins Brown, My Glazing, North West , PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, The Gifted Few, The Glass & Glazing Federation, Window with a View