Posts from August 2013

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Manchester Bierkeller, How Refreshing

The Bierkeller On Thursday evening a few members of Refresh’s food and drink PR team took a trip to the opening of The Printworks’ new bar, The Bierkeller Manchester.

With business for The Bierkeller booming in neighbouring cities Liverpool and Leeds, it was only a matter of time before the chain opened a venue here in Manchester, occupying the former Pure nightclub site in Withy Grove.

On arrival we were met with a complimentary cocktail and left to our own devices to explore the enormous complex, which combines four different bars in one venue.

First stop was the Around the World in 80 Beers Bar where apparently you can get over 100 different beers from over 80 different countries – complete with a live ukulele band!

Having grabbed another free drink at the bar, we went in search of Shooters Sports Bar. Opening just in time for the start of the Premier League Season, the bar has over 20 HDTVs and claims to be the largest sports bar in Manchester.

It was here that we got to sample Rekorderlig cider’s new passionfruit blend, which is delicious but I wouldn’t recommend it if you haven’t got a sweet tooth!

The venue will also be serving a selection of food from across the globe, ranging from Kangaroo Burgers to Quesidillas, with more traditional German dishes available in the Bavarian Bierkeller. Sadly we didn’t get to sample any of the fayre, but I’m sure it would go down nicely with a Stein!

It will be interesting to see how busy The Bierkeller is on its opening weekend, with Live Oompah Band shows on Saturday and Sunday.

Manchester’s food and drink scene is thriving at the moment, with newcomers popping up all over the city. Not that the Refresh PR team is complaining – we love a complimentary Bellini.

For more information about The Bierkeller, visit the website:





Tagged with: , Around the World in 80 Days Bar, beer, cider, Food & Drink, Leeds, Leisure, Lifestyle, Liverpool, Manchester, North West , Oompah Band, PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Pure, Rekorderlig, Shooters Sports Bar, Stein, The Bierkeller, The Printworks

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Does the Co-operative know breast?

We’ve all been there – you walk into your local newsagent to pick up the latest copy of Heat or OK! and as you’re ferreting around for it on the shelf, all of a sudden you find yourself up close and personal with the latest Big Brother evictee’s boobs!

Does it bother me? Not particularly, especially since my job entails flicking through scantily dressed women to find my client’s gadget coverage on a weekly basis! But it seems one particular retail chain has called time on this open book policy…

Last week the Co-operative chain announced it will no longer sell Nuts, Zoo or any other publication that openly portrays ‘lewd pictures’ on its front cover, unless it has been pre-packaged in a ‘modesty bag’. The titles under scrutiny have been given until the 9th September to action this, or it’s curtains for them as far as the Co-op is concerned.

In response to this, Nuts publisher IPC Inspire has announced that it will not use the bags, describing the ultimatum as 'an unreasonable attempt to prevent shoppers from freely browsing a legal magazine that is already displayed according to Home Office guidelines'.

So who, if anyone, is in the right? Well, there’s a valid argument for both sides, which is why this debate seems to have sparked such an interest in the press.

Firstly, it is understandable that the Co-op is taking such a firm line on indecent imagery, given the government’s recent proposals outlining the effects of sexual images on children. Parents shouldn’t have to feel apprehensive about taking their children into their local convenience store to buy a pint of milk, nor should they have to feel embarrassed about the classic awkward questions kids like to dish out in public places!

It also depends on the size of a store and its layout. I quite frequently visit the Co-op store on Market Street in Manchester and the magazine rack (excuse the pun) is rather small and doesn’t really allow for specific title sections, therefore everything is grouped together. This limited space means there’s no ‘top shelf’ and magazines such as Nuts and Zoo are directly in the eye line of any customer who is queuing up to pay.  

But are we all overreacting a bit here? As IPC Inspire rightly states, these magazine formats have been around for years and are as much a part of the corner shop shelf as the ‘get the size 6 look’ messaging that the women’s mags openly promote on a weekly basis. That’s a different issue altogether, but a valid point all the same – magazine front covers are designed to surprise and sometimes alarm you into picking up a copy. Shock tactics are what publications rely on for sales and if we’re policing one section shouldn’t we be looking at them all?

High street chains should also lend consideration to the sheer cost these ‘modesty bags’ will suck from the publishing houses. Not just in terms of materials, but also design and any additional fulfilment requirements.

Personally, the argument to keep what’s on the front cover of these mags doesn’t really affect me, but what I do still value is a print publication. Working in the industry I know how hard publishing houses work to keep consumers going back to the shelf week after week, and I think it’d be a great shame for them to lose retail support – whatever the underlying reason.

Have you got a product you want to get amongst the boobs and banter? Feel free to give me a call to discuss your PR requirements in more detail. You can reach me on 0161 871 1188 or you can follow my musings on twitter: @GemmaC_PR 


Tagged with: Food and Drink PR, IPC Inspire, Manchester, modesty bags, North West , Nuts Magazine, Retail, The Co-operative, Zoo Magazine

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Social media in the spotlight - and top tips from Refresh PR

It’s a big week for social media.  Just two days ago Twitter’s Tony Wang was forced to issue an apology over vile tweets sent by its users, and tonight Channel 4’s Dispatches ‘Celebs, Brands and Fake Fans’ will add even more fuel to the fire. 


The Dispatches team describes tonight’s hour long programme as an undercover investigation into the real vs the not-so-real ‘in the brave new online world’.  It will go on to expose ‘new tricks used by marketeers’ to promote brands, such as the purchase of likes, follows, connections and views in order to boost awareness.


While buying likes isn’t a new concept to anyone close to the industry, most PRs will have a strong opinion on the issue.  What’s unclear is why this should be given air time now, when this strategy has been used by some in the marketing world for years?  Perhaps due to articles rumbling in the Indian press recently? But on the other hand, if highlighting it can enable more brand managers, MDs and marketing directors (hopefully) to get to grips with what’s really important about social media, let’s bring it to the table.


Social media isn’t going to go away, after all, to a whole generation this is the norm.  It will only evolve and change, faster than communication channels have ever changed before.  So to brand owners, the issue is now about how (not if) a brand chooses to use social media, and the true value it brings as a result.


Social media as a PR tool


As a PR consultant, I’m firmly (and naturally) in the camp which says that social media sits under the PR umbrella, not with the marketing/advertising/sales function.  It’s not about buying ‘likes’ or a hard sell – it never has been.   


Rather, social media is another tool in our kit which helps brands to engage with customers.  It works as part of a PR campaign and can help to boost awareness, reinforce (or change) perception and get closer to customers.  It also provides real value, delivering instant insight that’s never previously been available in this format, on a channel that’s more open and honest than ever before.


So, social media is about engagement.  Simple.  It is about creating a brand personality through the production of relevant content that the target audience wants to follow, then using it in a way which involves the audience in order to gain credibility and grow.  It’s also a key tool for customer service.  It’s why well-trained, hard-working social media community managers are employed to watch, manage, update and react.   The more a brand engages with its audience, the more responsive the audience will be.  Trust is earned, personality communicated, and ultimately brand loyalty sought.  Sophie Barton, PR and social media manager for Ann Summers, writes all about building a relationship and creating engagement within the social community in today’s The Drum – it’s worth a read.


Regardless of the reasons for setting up a social media account, long gone (and short lived at that) are the days when brands crudely determined the success of a campaign solely on the number of ‘likes’ or ‘views’ gained.  Our clients certainly work with us to set out a strategy for engagement, determine how the success of it will be measured, and then we get on with it.  And getting on with it often means a lot of hard work; fans and followers worth having don’t appear over night, they have to be attracted to a brand on social media to deem it worthy of a ‘like’ or ‘follow’. 


And quite right too. 


So, while to many of us in the industry this is certainly not a ‘new world’ as Dispatches claims, it will be interesting to see how the British public receives the programme.  I’ll await the Sky News press preview at 11.30pm – after I’ve already read 2.5 hours’ worth of Tweets and Facebook posts full of opinion and comment on the programme.


Try the below tips to help your brand really engage credibly with your audience


1.      Choose the right channel for your brand.  It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach – different channels can help to achieve different results

2.      Know your target audience – and know why

a.      Know why you are targeting these people.  Why is social media a better way to reach the audience than another communication channel such as magazines, newspapers or radio?  Make sure you are using social media for the right reasons

b.      Analyse who you want to target – then ensure the community manager (and anyone else with access to the account) has this in mind ahead of every update post

c.      Review your audience regularly – who is following, has it changed, does it consist of more or less of your target audience than before?

d.      Apply common sense – if your target is a new mum, posts during a baby’s mid-morning kip would be better than posts at meal times.  If your target is a teenager, posts before or after-school will gain more engagement

3.      Think about what you want your audience to do when they read a post:

a.      Talk back to you?

b.      Go to your website?

c.      Walk to a shop and purchase a product in-store?

d.      Simply know you’re there to listen if required?

e.      Share your news?

f.       Think more positively about your brand?

All of the above influence what you will post, how you post it and how you measure the response.

4.      Keep it simple.  Use clear messaging and easy-to-read updates

5.      Offer something – and this doesn’t need to be a prize.  It could be knowledge or breaking news

6.      Don’t post too frequently – consider what’s acceptable to your audience and respect that


For more information about social media and using it as part of a PR strategy, contact Refresh PR on 0161 871 1188, or even better, talk to us @RefreshPR.  For more measurement information visit Social Media Examiner.


Tagged with: Channel 4, Dispatches, Facebook, Manchester, North West , opinion, PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, PR North West, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Social Media, Social Media Manchester, Twitter