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Posts from September 2017

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What is Legitimate Interest, and does it affect you?



The EU General Data Protection Regulation, otherwise known as GDPR is a hot topic at the moment, with thousands of businesses across the UK currently adapting their data protocol in time for the changes coming into play in May 2018. For tech companies, users and consumers are vital for business, so you’re more than likely to be affected by GDPR.

‘But I process data for the greater good!’ we hear you cry. ‘I have to process client data, otherwise how will they know about the company?’ is another common worry.

The legitimate interest clause – which is currently going somewhat under the radar – is providing tech businesses with some security amidst the confusion.

The clause, one of the six lawful grounds for data processing in Article 6.1 of the GDPR states:

[Processing is] necessary for the purposes of legitimate interests pursued by the controller or a third party, except where such interests are overridden by the interests, rights or freedoms of the data subject

There are some examples where legitimate interest may apply – risk assessment, for direct marketing purposes, existing relationships (agency and client, for example) – but for those working in tech, certain areas are particularly pertinent:

Personalisation

Personalisation is key in many digital marketing campaigns and today, is expected by users. However, under the new GDPR rules, personalisation as we know it will be heavily controlled and marketers will need to have evidence that they have permission to target their users with marketing and comms. The legitimate interests clause within GDPR however, means companies can justify using analytics to personalise website content for each user. It is argued providing a better UX is in the user’s best interest, and therefore particular elements of personalisation may not be liable to GDPR.

Web analytics

As a company centred on technology development and innovation, web analytics are pivotal to your business success. So good news, you can happily use diagnostic analysis to track visitors, posts, user journey and social media metrics to advise future marketing campaigns without fear of a fine under GDPR. This information must be used for business intelligence. Cookie consent, however, is a different matter so make sure you’re clear on the difference.

Artificial Intelligence

Many websites use artificial intelligence to provide a quick, improved UX. Netflix provides tailored film choices, dependent on previous viewing history; Siri uses data stored in a device to answer questions, all using AI. Certain elements of AI do not fall under GDPR and many companies will not need to change their processes to facilitate this. It’s more a case of what you do with the data after this stage so be clear on what applies to you and what doesn’t.

While legitimate interest can provide some reassurance, it is important that companies understand GDPR, what it is and how to best implement processes to protect your company. If the groundwork isn’t put in before the 25th May 2018, when GDPR comes into effect, the consequences to your business could be catastrophic.


Tagged with: Data, GDPR, tech

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Understanding GDPR for tech companies




General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation around data privacy and protection was adopted in April 2016 and will be enforced from the 25th May 2018. GDPR gives consumers more control over their personal information and failure to comply can result in very large fines.


For those that work in the world of tech, there are a number of instances where the new GDPR legislation will impact your business strategy significantly:


Opt in?


The ‘soft opt in’ we all regularly experience will no longer be an option. Users will need to provide explicit consent to receive marketing material, whether it’s emails, texts or brochures in the post. You will also need to provide proof that you have consent to contact a consumer, and an auto ticked box will not suffice. By providing content that is valuable, interesting and relevant, you can decrease your ‘unsubscribe list’ and continue to execute successful campaigns.


Cookies


It is also no longer sufficient to display a ‘we use cookies’ pop up window when a user visits your site for the first time. As of May 2018, website will need to provide a route for consent, such as a tick box and email capture, ensuring they have consent to track a user’s cookies. We can see an increase in websites implementing this strategy already, ahead of the deadline, in preparation for the enforcement of GDPR.


Third parties


Third party providers play a pivotal role in digital marketing and it is paramount that you check your suppliers are GDPR compliant. If you use a software or service that breaches GDPR, you may be held accountable for not ensuring the correct processes are in place regarding data you own. We recommend asking any suppliers what steps they are taking ahead of GDPR, and if none are planned, look for a new provider.

 

CRM


Everybody has the ‘right to be forgotten’ and this no longer means writing ‘do not contact’ on your notes. ‘Right to be forgotten’ means just that. You must ensure that any systems you use mean you are able to permanently delete the data of someone who hasn’t consented, with no way to recall it.


By following a few steps, you can ensure your company meets all GDPR regulations:

 

  • Hire a data protection officer to ensure the enforcement of GDPR regulations
  • Review all current data practices and implement changes where necessary

  • Raise internal awareness so all employees understand GDPR and its importance

  • Don’t hold onto unnecessary data and be sure to cleanse all current databases

  • Ensure that data is stored in a format that is portable, and can be sent to an individual upon request

  • Audit all data and ensure consent is explicit


GDPR doesn’t have to cause a revolution within your business. Use this new legislation to streamline systems and ensure good housekeeping, and by following our top tips, you won’t need to worry.




Tagged with: Data Protection, GDPR, GDPR legislation, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester

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Is Silicon Valley nearing its demise?



Thirty-four billionaires live in Silicon Valley. The majority are owners or founders or CEOs of some of the world’s largest and most renowned tech companies. As part of a tech company yourself, it’s likely you’ve envisaged what life is like on the opposite side of the pond, in an area that we imagine to be paved with gold.

But after a few recent news stories, questions are being raised about the part Silicon Valley is playing in lives across the world – and not in a positive way. Could this be the start of its demise?

Two quite significant scandals emerged from the area last week. The first, that credit agency Equifax came asunder to a massive cyber attack that put the data of 143m Americans at risk. Second came the admission from Facebook that it has uncovered advertisements places on its platform by Russian-backed groups interfering with American elections to the tune of at least $100,000. While these stories specifically impact America, other challenges on the tech giants residing in SV have caused us to wonder if allowing these organisations to reach such enormity is actually more damaging than good.

While the argument about #fakenews continues to ramp up, authorities are casting their eye towards platforms like Facebook and Twitter that allow false or staged activity to do the rounds, with many questioning why the platforms don’t block content that’s deliberately misleading and potentially harmful.

And as extremist behaviour continues to plague the globe, the UK Government is putting extra pressure on Silicon Valley giants to prevent unlawful material from appearing online. They say that doing so is fuelling terrorism, and only by intervening will we preserve freedom and liberal values. The Telegraph quoted digital minister Matt Hancock this week, who has urged that encouraging Google and Facebook to intervene in this activity is “an opportunity for Britain to gain a ‘massive advantage’ after Brexit by being the first country to make sure offline principles apply online”.

Part of the reason tech has grown so exponentially is from an assumed (and not at all proven) view that the online world is different to the offline world, different rules exist and it acts instead as a challenger to what is engrained in our society. But think about it – when’s the last time a significant scandal played out that has absolutely no involvement from the internet? (not including health epidemics or natural disasters).

So what part can you play? Whether you run a social media platform, create ecommerce software, process big data or manufacture smart items for the home, it’s a case of questioning whether what you’re doing is for the greater good, definitely doesn’t put people at risk of harm and plays a helpful part in wider society. If you can’t tick all three boxes, tweak what you’re doing. Because the chances are, if you don’t, you’ll have the spotlight shone on you soon enough.

As Mr Hancock so eloquently put it: “We must build an internet… where we cherish freedom yet prevent harm to others.” Silicon Valley, are you listening?

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Taylor is welcomed to the dark side



As all PR agencies know, a rebrand is one of the best ways to refresh a business helping to attract new customers and reminding existing ones that they’re still relevant. 

Taylor Swift launching herself into the role of a villain for her new song could be one of the best rebrands of 2017.

The recent release ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ reveals Taylor’s dark side.

The video shows a transformed Taylor, overcome by the dark side and power, responding to comments and reports made about her in the media.

After playing a zombie, Swift soon takes on a variety of different hard-edged personas, including a bank robber, a female robot squad leader, and a celebrity involved in a paparazzi-caused car crash. It continues with Taylor sat on a throne of snakes, which starts the continuous references to Kim Kardashian and Kanye West – The feud with Kanye West began more than 10 years ago, and whether this is simply one of the best PR stunts of the year or just Taylor’s way of re-engaging the slanging match – the media love – her transformation is making her relevant again after such a long break from the industry.

The old saying is that ‘sex sells’ but Taylor has flipped this on its head and is instead taking the ‘hate sells’ approach. Using the song, and its accompanying video, as a platform to vent her anger at her recent portrayal in the media and high-profile feuds, she has got the world talking.

The release is cleverly thought out and has rebranded Taylor away from the ‘Love Song’ fairy-tale singer we were all introduced to in 2008, to a feisty, no nonsense popstar. As the song finishes Taylor ends with ‘The old Taylor can’t come to the phone now...Why? She’s dead’. I for one cannot wait to hear the rest of the album and see what new Taylor has in store if the old version is actually dead.

Whether the rebrand is genuine or not I don’t think Taylor will really care after finally hitting the UK number one spot, and passing the 100 million-views mark on YouTube in just four days, making it one of the fastest singles in history to do so.






Tagged with: Celebrity, PR Agency Manchester, Public Relations, Social Media

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Three things I loved about Arbonne’s AAC this year!



Arbonne has been a client of Refresh PR’s for almost four years and each year we have the pleasure of attending its annual conference, which is unlike any other annual conference you will ever attend!

Arbonne is a health, wellness and beauty brand; its products are all vegan friendly, botanically based and cruelty free – something that sets them apart in such a busy industry. It’s a client I love working with, given my passion for all things beauty and skincare – so the annual conference is always a highly anticipated event.

It is the company ethos that shines through at this event, an inclusive company that celebrates the success and achievements of its Independent Consultants, whilst being family friendly and incredibly feel-good!

I had been invited along with the Arbonne team to capture the atmosphere on Instagram, creating a live stream of the event, allowing teams from Australia, the US and many other regions to experience it alongside the UK. I was also there to assist the videographer in capturing footage and interviews with some of Arbonne’s key players, in order to create a round up video montage.

This year’s event kicked off in my home town of Glasgow and celebrated Arbonne’s tenth anniversary, so of course this year was always going to be extra special. Here is my run through of the three things I loved most about AAC 2017 – though the list could go on forever!

Red Hot Chilli Pipers

On the Friday morning, Scottish piping band the Red Hot Chilli Pipers took to the stage to kick start the day! The band play a mix of modern music to the Scottish bagpipes, so it was a fitting way to get the crowd going in Glasgow. The atmosphere was electric, after all, dancing to high tempo bagpipe songs at 9:30am on a Friday isn’t the usual start at an event, but it certainly worked and got the 2,500 attendees to their feet.

Recognitions

During the course of the three day event, there was a number of people who are recognised for their achievements over the past year. Every year Independent Consultants are welcomed up on to stage and receive a huge round of applause and a single rose, however this year, of course, it was a Scottish thistle. The atmosphere in the room when the stage fills with promotion recognitions is unbelievable; each and every person shows such encouragement to those on stage and the positivity is felt from wall to wall.

The People

Often at conferences it can be hard to encourage a crowd of people to participate in social media videos, to show genuine enthusiasm and portray the atmosphere felt in the room. At AAC, this wasn’t an issue. The social media content creates itself, as the buzz in the room and the smiles on people’s faces make for an incredibly upbeat event. With people so willing to throw themselves into every part of the event, eager to get the Arbonne message out there, everyone is such a pleasure to work with – it is the people who make the conference what it is! 


Tagged with: Creative Agency, Health & Beauty, Lifestyle, PR Agency Manchester

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How to network and get results



Free drinks, nibbles and the chance to catch up with other professionals; networking is rife amongst PR agencies in Manchester, and they can be fun. However, often, people do not make the most of networking opportunities and let many potential new business leads pass them by. By following our top tips, you’ll be able to get more than a free prosecco out of networking:

Don’t use it as a free team social

We know, networking can seem intimidating and the opportunity to sit in a corner with colleagues can be tempting but you will gain nothing from this. Mingle, get chatting and ‘work the room’. Sometimes you won’t meet anyone, it happens, but every now and then, you’ll strike up a conversation with someone who needs just what your business provides.

Do your research

If there is an Eventbrite page or Facebook group about the event, have a look at who is attending and do your research. Know someone there is launching a new business? Drop it into conversation. Knowing your audience can set you up to make some very valuable contacts.

Be ready

Before you attend, have an elevator pitch ready about where you work, what you do and who you work with. Sell yourself, and the company you work for, but more importantly, make sure you do it all in less than 90 seconds!

Ask questions

When engaging in conversation, don’t be the person stood looking bored and glassy eyed. Asking questions, whether it’s high level industry related issues or just ‘do you attend many networking events?’, show your’re interested and make an impression.

Leave a lasting impression

You’ve introduced yourself, engaged in conversation and even got a few laughs. What now? Make sure you have business cards to hand and don’t be shy to hand them out. We’re not talking about scattering around them around the room, but if you’ve made that connection, give people a way to get in touch with you.

Keep in touch

After the event, use social media to keep the conversation going. Connect on LinkedIn, follow on Twitter, subscribe to their newsletter (a Facebook add admittedly is a step too far). It will help keep you front of mind and give them a way to get in touch with you if ever they need it. But don’t leave it too late before you connect; chances are they will meet a lot of people networking and after four weeks, they’ll probably have forgotten all about you if you haven’t yet been in touch.

Networking can be a great opportunity to make new contacts, learn more about the industry you work in, and potentially get some great new business leads. Just make sure you follow our top tips and don’t overdo the free booze!

 

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

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The importance of gaining work experience



As autumn draws near, university students begin to re-emerge for the beginning of term, but most importantly for the much loved event, Fresher’s week. Scrolling through my snapchat recently I have been bombarded with updates from friends enjoying the celebrations and viewed a national snapchat story containing a mixture of different antics from a variety of universities.

Thinking about university, I began to consider my year’s work placement here at Refresh PR, and the importance of year long work placements for students. I am the first year long student intern at Refresh, however I know that I will gain a lot from this process and leave the company full of knowledge, ready for my final year at university.

One of the main reasons I chose my university course, Business Management at Newcastle, was due to the fact we were able to take a year out to gain vital work experience. Placement years are degree based work experience opportunities that tend to be aimed at undergraduate students.

I’m not going to lie, trying to find and apply for placements was difficult which resulted in many of my peers choosing not to do one. I knew that for my future, I needed to persevere in finding one and eventually I was offered this amazing opportunity at Refresh.

There are numerous benefits to completing work experience, but after my first month at Refresh, here are my top five so far:

It can help you find out if the industry is for you

Without having any experience in a particular industry how do you know if you will be suited to that particular career? I believe students should be encouraged to gain experience in the area of work they wish to pursue so they can make informed choices after university.

Helps you decide on a sector

My time at Refresh will help me better understand if I am more suited to working with the B2B team or the B2C team, and if working for an agency is something that will work for me. Throughout this placement they’ll be highs and lows, which will ultimately shape the sectors I choose to pursue a career in.

Develop skills and put the theory I’ve learnt at university into practice

A placement year can help a student develop essential team work and interpersonal skills. Students are able to apply their skills and knowledge to real business situations.  After spending the last two years in lecture theatres I now have the opportunity to apply everything I’ve learnt to real client situations.

Build confidence

Being put in a situation that is out of your comfort zone can help build confidence. A work placement involves creating relationships with work colleagues and business professionals. It can enable students to make contacts in the sector. After conquering my nervousness around media sell-ins I have already started to build my database of journalists.

Look more attractive to an employer

Although gaining good grades will help with finding a job, more and more employers are searching for experience in the sector rather than just relying on grades. Experience helps you stand out to an employer, as it shows you’re committed to being successful in the industry and not afraid of the hard work this takes.

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR event, PR Manchester, Public Relations

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How to adapt campaigns to fit in with popular culture and trends



We currently live in a world where an endless amount of information is available to us at the tap of a finger. We are bombarded with news, adverts and brand messages constantly, and we have the ability to stay up to date with whatever is going on in the world, at whatever time of the day.

Because of this constant access to information, social trends and crazes are now playing a bigger part in our day-to-day lives than ever before. Therefore, as a creative communications agency we need to be aware of what’s going on around us – planning for the trends and responding quickly to the crazes.


We  know that the media will be guided by these seasonal trends and in the next few months we have two big annual events coming up – Halloween and Christmas. Although Christmas has always been a major calendar date, we are now seeing Halloween growing in popularity.


Last year retailing around the holiday reached more than £472 million. It is now the third biggest calendar event for retailers, growing 3,000 per cent since 2001, and we don’t expect this to slow down anytime soon. In response to this, we're seeing thousands of brands update their stock, strategies and social media campaigns to compete for sales and maximise Halloween’s new found popularity.


While we can plan for calendar events, social crazes aren’t something that we can predict or build into our campaigns ahead of time. But this is one of the reasons why they are so successful. Crazes respond to popular culture, mirror a mood of a nation, or simply surprise people, so they sit up and take notice. Who would have ever thought that pouring freezing cold water over yourself/loved ones would raise hundreds of millions for charity?


If businesses stay ahead of these trend,s and keep a close eye on the crazes, with the help of a PR agency, they can respond and ultimately drive sales. One of the best examples of this is Starbucks. The global coffee giant is known for its special edition Pumpkin Spiced Latte (maximising each year on the Halloween trend), and who can forget this summer’s Unicorn Frappuccino (linking to the hype around the mythical creature), which sold out in stores in just three days?


As a PR agency we are constantly looking for opportunities for our clients to join these nationwide conversations – whether it is something that we can plan into our campaigns, or simply something that we respond to quickly with social engagement and rapid media relations. If you’d like to talk to us about how we can maximise crazes and trends for your business, get in touch at info@refreshpr.co.uk


Tagged with: Creative Agency, Food & Drink, Home Interest, Leisure, Lifestyle, PR Agency Manchester

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Rebecca Wallace discusses what it is like to work in the world of PR



After a flurry of account wins for the consumer team, we’ve added a new account executive to our team. Rebecca Wallace discusses what it’s like to work in our Manchester PR agency.

What is the first thing you do when you get in the office?

Get coffee!

Once I’m nice and caffeinated, I start to read through as many of the day’s newspapers, magazines and online headlines as I can. I then start to pull together a list of the stories that are relevant for all our clients here at Refresh PR. As we’re a creative agency we need to be very reactive towards the news. As a team, we then decide how to respond to these stories for our clients.

What are your three favourite things about working at an agency?

The people - As gimmicky as this sounds, my colleagues are so supportive. Literally no question is stupid, and they always make themselves available to offer advice and help.

Clients - Working with such different clients is so fun! It’s creative and eventful, no two days are ever the same. One minute I can be selling in glitter tips to Glamour magazine, the next I could be talking to top journalists at the Guardian regarding meat cooking tips, or regional press about a competition we’re running.

Future opportunities - There are many different opportunities at Refresh PR, which make me excited to work hard and be a part of them, including: working on new client pitches, managing events and planning press trips.

What got you interested in a PR career?

I graduated university last year with a degree in journalism. After numerous placements in news agencies, and different Manchester PR agencies I was certain it was the industry for me.

I have worked across various agencies in the city who all specialise in different aspects of PR, including consumer, fashion, hospitality and festivals. 

PR is the perfect career for curious minded people who can’t stop talking. So, pretty much, me.

What is your best advice to a PR student or anyone wanting to get into the industry?

Internships are key. It is essential to try as many different opportunities as you can. All the time you spend training is never time wasted, as you are constantly learning, developing key skills and understanding an industry and the opportunities which are available.

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

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User generated content: the end of journalism?



Over the last two weeks, news sites across the world have been filled with imagery and videos from those caught up in one of the worst storms on record. While Hurricane Irma has ripped apart several Caribbean islands and is now taking over the Florida coastline, those of us on the other side of the world have felt closer to the eye of the storm than any other before it, thanks to the real-life recordings taken from the scene. The people capturing the material aren’t journalists; they’re residents, families, or those locked up with friends. This type of footage is called ‘user generated content’ (UGC), and while it now forms part of most newsreels we watch during hourly bulletins, once upon a time it was the dread of journalists across the globe.

With the birth of smartphones came the ability for mere mortals to capture their own side of every tale, and it started to unsettle journalists who had spent their lives learning the trade, and earning their position as the story teller. Suddenly, we began to question whether newspapers told the whole story, as more and more the general public were sharing footage that gave a different angle.

Having worked as a journalist, I understand the fear that UGC makes people question how hard it really is to become qualified for the role. Local newspapers are closing every week (the first newspaper I worked at, incidentally, closed down two weeks ago very suddenly – though this was down to ****-poor management, not UGC), but all things considered, if it wasn’t for UGC, we wouldn’t have anywhere near as close an understanding of the devastation Irma has caused in the US and Caribbean. The majority of journalists working for corporations with hefty life insurance policies aren’t venturing overseas through fear of injury or death, so it’s over to those living in the situation to tell us how it really is.

We rely on UGC now as standard practice to bring news and campaigns to life – our Window with a View/Home with a View competition with MyGlazing.com relies inherently on the public submitting images and is crucial to its success – however, one thing troubles me: our capacity, as media consumers, to understand the difference between fake and real news. There’s a propensity amongst us to assume everything we see is true – but even with UGC that’s not the case. There are a multitude of videos and images, reportedly of the devastation Hurricane Irma has caused, doing the rounds, with many being completely false. The lengths people go to now to have their material featured online/in the news is becoming more and more absurd, and with the ability to ‘go viral’ (often for all the wrong reasons), are we taking UGC too much at face value rather than questioning its authenticity?

There is a place for UGC, I have no doubt about it, and I am a firm believer that using it gives us a better idea of what’s going on in the world; it takes us nearer to the action, making us feel closer to its subjects, encouraging us to put ourselves in other’s shoes, because someone just like us is narrating. But journalists and those working in PR still have a huge responsibility to ensure the material that does make it into the mainstream media is accurate, factual and a fair representation. If we can work together in such a way, our news shows will be some of the strongest in the world.

 

 

Tagged with: Facebook, PR, PR campaign essential, PR event, Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter

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Five tips to perfect a work social in time for Christmas!



When it comes to work socials, it’s important to get them right. A good work social can be valuable bonding time for your team; however a bad one can put staff off attending them in the future.

As a creative agency in Manchester, we have a vibrant team with an array of interests, so it’s not always easy to find one activity to suit everyone.

That being said, we also understand the importance of taking a break from the daily grind and working on building your office relationships. After all, you spend a considerable time of each week with your colleagues, so getting to know them can make a huge difference – you may have more in common that you think!

Here, we offer our top tips on how to plan and execute the perfect work social, regardless of different tastes!

Keep it relaxed

Though many believe organised fun is the best kind of fun, this isn’t always the case. After all, no one wants to give up their evening to be ordered around – even if it may seem fun to you! Let people relax and keep timings flexible so no one feels tied down. You want staff to relax and bond, not feel as though they are networking, so put a ban on talking about work!

Plan activities

Many people can be put off by the prospect of a ‘group activity’ however, these are a really good idea when it comes to crowd control. Activities such as a quiz will get everyone involved, create a competitive atmosphere and encourage teams to work together in a less formal setting. Often, if the social is simply drinks, people will split off and the team won’t spend as much time together. With a quiz, you can also incorporate a number of different rounds to play to people’s strengths - be it movies, music or sport!

Keep it exclusive

Try and keep it to simply the office team. Though inviting people to bring a plus one can be a nice way to create a bigger group, it can leave those without partners feeling a little singled out. It also encourages people to spend more time with their guests than one another, something you should always look to avoid. Remember a staff social is about the staff, so don’t dilute this!

Mix it up

If you are planning group activities, quiz teams or table plans, this offers a great opportunity to mix the teams up. Often it’s beneficial to team people up with others they may not always work directly alongside. This will allow people to strike up conversations with those they may not usually get the chance to talk to and create a better atmosphere in the office moving forward.

Book ahead

If you are planning a staff social, I would also recommend making bookings in advanced. Be it dinner or drinks, try to get a bar or restaurant to reserve you an area. This will ensure you have a plan and prevent nights out turning into turmoil as people decide where to go. Often staff will be willing to try out most places and just need a prompt!

Keep it varied

Not everyone is the same, and you may have members of staff who are unable to, or choose not to drink, so ensure this isn’t the focus of the whole evening! If you have activity on booked, such as cocktail making, ensure there is a non-alcoholic option available. If you are in bar, make sure there is additional entertainment, other than simply the next round of drinks!

 

Tagged with: Lifestyle, Manchester, Networking Event, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR event, PR Manchester, Public Relations

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It’s Roald Dahl Day!



Happy Roald Dahl Day! Here at Refresh PR, we’re reminiscing about our favourite Roald Dahl books and celebrating the life of the much loved children’s author. Some of the team have shared their views on the books that added a sprinkle of magic to their childhood.

Sarah (Director)

Favourite Roald Dahl book - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was my favourite Roald Dahl book as it appealed to me on two very different levels. The story really tapped into my imagination and senses.  I could smell the chocolate river, feel the marshmallow pillows and see the lemonade swimming pools. I desperately wanted to experience this chocolate factory.  Dahl’s ability to capture my vivid imagination made the strong moral message about good behaviour and kindness being rewarded over greed, laziness or ill-manners, even more profound. “

Erin (Account Director)

Favourite Roald Dahl book - George’s Marvellous Medicine

“The syntax Roald Dahl uses throughout George’s Marvellous Medicine is some of his very best – it’s practically poetry. I used to love imagining I was George, cooking up special potions in my kitchen, whether for good or bad. I think my mum probably came across a few random concoctions in the house, actually. Dahl is to blame!”

Christy (Account Manager)

Favourite Roald Dahl book - The Twits

“I have always loved Roald Dahl books and first read The Twits at school. It’s a bit of a twisted comedy, with some really interesting characters, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much!”

Emily (PR Assistant)

Favourite Roald Dahl book - The BFG

“This book will always remind me of my childhood. I immediately fell in love with the loving character that is the BFG, and I always wanted him to be my best friend. Roald Dahl’s ability to transport me to a magical world of dream catching and snozzcumbers was mesmerising.”

Aishleen (Account Manager)

Favourite Roald Dahl book - James and the Giant Peach 

“Roald Dahl had the amazing ability of bringing words on a page to life and truly capturing the imagination of any child, or adult, that picked up his work. There’s no holds barred with Dahl’s work, nothing is off limits and the fact that James and the Giant Peach was banned in numerous countries due to drink and drugs references makes it, in my opinion, legendary.”


Tagged with: creatiive agency Manchester, Lifestyle

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The Monarchy’s changing image



A few weeks ago I stepped foot into the adult world. I began my year long work placement at Refresh PR. Two years of university life definitely did not prepare me for the early morning starts that I was due to face. As I stumbled off the train, trying not to get swept along in the sea of people, I made my way to the office.

As I stepped into the business in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, I was greeted by many smiling faces, making me feel extremely reassured. As the days passed, the words blog, content marketing and SEO were making their way into many discussions and I knew it wouldn’t be long before it would be my turn to put my skills to the test. As if by magic, Kate Middleton kindly decided to fall pregnant as I began to compile ideas I would discuss in my blog.

The Royal Family, arguably the most famous family in the world, are constantly featured in many forms of media. From Prince Harry’s latest escapades to Kate Middleton’s sartorial choices, their presence is so influential, the British public seem to be in awe of them. The monarchy has developed a way to portray themselves in predominantly positive headlines, from hosting pop concerts at the Palace for golden and diamond jubilees, to attending various charity and sporting events.

It got me thinking: what is it that makes them so popular? How have they been able to transform their image from an old fashioned institution to top of the news items on the Daily Mail? Is it their new found ability to connect with the public? Although some may have viewed the release of nude pictures of Prince Harry in Vegas as obscene, it actually showed him as a personality, and one that likes to enjoy himself as much as the next person.

As we remember the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death, the ‘People’s Princess’, it could be argued that her legacy continues through her children and the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton.

Kate Middleton has helped change the perception of the royal family for the younger generation. Her fashion choices have helped to develop a positive spin on the monarchy. The public admire her elegance and high street fashion choices, and takes note of the ways in which she dresses her children. Outfits similar to those that Prince George and Princess Charlotte wear have been circulating high street clothing stores.

The monarchy’s new image is essential to their survival, and one that brands should take note of. It is never too late for a tired brand to have a revival.

If you think your company could do with a PR refresh, call us on 0161 871 1188.

Tagged with: Lifestyle, PR, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Twitter

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Team work makes the dream work



According to John Donne, no man is an island, and this can also be said for marketing activity. It isn’t possible to build a brand based on just one marketing function – there has to be a carefully balanced mix including (but not exclusive to) PR, SEO, PPC, advertising and social media.

But with many agencies focusing their skills on one area of this mix, more brands than ever take a multi-agency approach to meet their business objectives.

At Refresh PR, we work with other agencies across the UK to make sure that we are delivering for our clients – because whatever function you specialise in, it is vital that your approach aligns with everyone else.

Here we share our top tips on making the most of a multi-agency approach.

Work towards the same goal

Set out the marketing objectives from the start of any campaign and make sure that each marketing function is fully aware of their role in achieving this. Ultimately, when working for a brand success only comes when these objectives are achieved. Be open and honest about each function’s strength and what part it can play in the journey towards meeting these objectives, so there can’t be conflict later on.

Share, share, share

The agencies, whatever function they cover, should all be open and honest with each other. From brainstorming sessions to regular reviews, each person working for the brand will have a different view of how to achieve success and a unique insight into what works. Utilise these at every opportunity, because you never know, something that cannot be implemented via PR could spark the next social media campaign.

Remove the client contact

Well, sometimes. Setting

up inter-agency calls or meetings, where the client isn’t involved allows for an open and honest dialogue between the agencies. Whether these are face-to-face or a conference call they are invaluable to the success of a campaign. Communication is really key between the agencies, so creating a regular platform for this will further cement the agencies as an extension of the internal team, rather than outsourced specialists. 

Tagged with: Marketing, PR, Public Relations, Social Media

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Public Relations – Where Are The Ethics?



This week we have seen one of the UK’s biggest PR agencies, Bell Pottinger, expelled from an industry body, The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), following a campaign that was found to stir up racial hatred in South Africa.

While we read on almost a daily basis about advertising campaigns being investigated by the ASA, it is rare that we see PR campaigns under such scrutiny.

For example, the ASA has recently tightened its rules on advertising high fat, salt and sugar foods (HFSS) to children, following the original ruling in 2006, to include social media – a reflection of children’s media viewing habits.

However, this ruling doesn’t include any PR activity – which often seems to be the case. Yes, the PRCA and CIPR have codes of conduct, but these are best practice guidelines which allow you to be part of the industry bodies. There isn’t actual legal implications or restrictions for not following them.

So, it poses the question – where do PR agencies get their ethics from?   

From my experience of working at PR agencies in Manchester and London, it seems to be from the people. I have experienced cases where MDs and CEOs have sat down with their team about new business leads that could have some ethical implication, and asked the question: “are you prepared to work on this account?” If the answer is no, then the new business lead is turned down.

Our aim as PR professionals ultimately is to change consumer behaviour – whether that is encouraging them to buy a product, visit a website or use a service. Therefore we have a responsibility to make sure that behaviour doesn’t negatively impact on their day-to-day lives or the world around them. Furthermore it is even more crucial that we, as professionals aren’t actively encouraging a negative consumer behaviour, such as racial hatred.

Everyone has different ethical standpoints on what they would and wouldn’t work on – and these differences of opinions is what keeps the industry so interesting. However, it is vital that we maximise these differences. When planning a campaign that could be seen as controversial, run it past other people, and not just people who work in PR. Ask your mum, your grandad, your best friend and perhaps even another client from a completely different industry – a simple NDA will means this goes no further – but this exercise could save you some headaches later on.

This reliance on people to ensure an ethical approach is why it is so important to have the best people working for your agency and why everyone should be consulted before any work is carried out.

If you’d like to hear more about Refresh PR’s ethical standpoint, or to discuss a potential campaign, please call 0161 871 1188. 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR campaign essential, PR Manchester, Public Relations

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We’re celebrating #LoveLambWeek



Here at Refresh PR we love all things food. Whether that’s eating it, talking about it, making it, or working with some of our favourite foodie brands – it’s a major part of our lives.

But with Great British Bake Off and The Big Family Cooking Showdown taking over our TVs, like many PR agencies in Manchester, we are now an office full of budding chefs! And thankfully, we have the experts on our side.

To celebrate Love Lamb Week, we asked the team at GourmetMeatClub.co.uk to share their top tips on cooking lamb, and they’re so good we couldn’t keep them to ourselves.

Select the best cut: For a lean cut, opt for a leg of lamb. This cut is best served pink and juicy in the middle yet crisp on the outside. For a slightly fattier cut, opt for a lamb shoulder, which is full of rich, traditional flavours. This cut is perfect for slow roasting, which gives a beautifully tender result

The warm up: Before cooking, allow the lamb to come to room temperature by removing it from the fridge an hour earlier, this will help the meat cook more evenly

Enhance with flavour: To add simple flavour to lamb, start by rubbing the top of the cut with a small amount of salt and pepper. Then make serval small incisions to the meat using a sharp knife and place a small sprig of rosemary and garlic clove into each incision – this will give the lamb a fresh and fragrant flavour as it cooks

The cooking: Always preheat the oven fully before cooking the meat. To guarantee the cooking time is correct, use the following guide:

Ø  Leg (whole, half, boneless) cook at 180C/Gas Mark 4: Pink – 25 minutes per 500g, plus 25 minutes: Well done – 30 minutes per 500g, plus 30 minutes

Ø  Shoulder (whole, half, boneless) cook at 170C/Gas Mark 3: 40 minutes per 500g, plus 40 minutes

Ø  Rack – Seal the meat in a pan then cook at 190C/Gas Mark 5: - Medium – 15 minutes; Well done – 20 minutes

Baste whilst cooking: Whilst cooking remove the lamb from the oven once or twice and drizzle the cooking juices over the top using a spoon or a turkey baster, to ensure the meat stays tender and doesn’t dry out

Knowing when the lamb is cooked: If cooking a slow roasted joint such as a lamb shoulder, you will know the meat is cooked through when the lamb is falling apart. If cooking a lamb cut that can be served pink or well done, use a meat thermometer to gauge the internal temperature – medium should be 60C and well done should be 70C

Allow the lamb to rest: Once cooked, remove the lamb shoulder, rack or leg from the oven and allow it to rest for 20 minutes before carving. This gives the juices chance to settle back into the meat, which will make the meat juicier and easier to carve

Tagged with: Food & Drink, Lifestyle

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Take a bite out of PR this Christmas



Believe it or not, as a creative agency we are already well underway with our Christmas PR strategies for clients. Christmas is a crucial time for food and drink clients, as it can be one of their most profitable times of year. With any Christmas specific food offerings this is an even more important time of the year to increase sales and avoid being left with stock once the season is over; after all, no one really wants a turkey crown in January!

So how can brands ensure food and drink journalists are taking notice of their product this season? The four largest multiples (and many others) have already presented their Christmas offering at shows in July, though this isn’t always possible for all brands, it doesn’t mean you have missed out.

Here, we offer our top PR tips to food and drinks brands that want to be heard through the noise this festive period.

Get out there

Talking to journalists face to face is crucial. Being able to talk someone through your Christmas offering, with the products in front of them, is invaluable. After August events can be tricky as journalist workloads ramp up, so make a meeting convenient for them. Go to their offices and be flexible with timings, if the morning works better for a journalist, then ensure that is when you’re available. This will give you more time to ‘sell’ your products and a less rushed meeting.

Taste is key

As a food and drink brand, telling someone what you offering is delicious will often fall on deaf ears. Make sure you are generous with samples and offer your best products to key journalists. Can you deliver samples to their offices or bring breakfast or lunch to the meeting? If a journalist is able to taste your product and understand the quality themselves, then they are more likely to push this out to their readers.

Be inventive

To be heard over the noise, it’s important to offer something unique and innovative. A simple meat product isn’t always overly exciting, however a modern twist such as Waitrose’s Sloe Gin-Cured Ham, will provide an additional talking point. It’s common for brands to release a limited number of unique products, to raise the brand profile, create a talking point and drive footfall in stores or online. In a market spoilt for choice, ask yourself, what makes you different to your competitors?

Look around

Being aware of what your competitors are offering will give you a competitive edge. What are they offering that you’re not? What can you do to beat the competition? Look at who your competition is talking to, is this an audience you are currently engaged with? Social media is also a great way to stay up to date with your competitors, what’s working for them, what’s getting their customers excited and is this something you could adapt for your own channels?

Help the customer

Christmas is an incredibly busy time of year for people, and can be stressful, especially for those less confident in the kitchen! Helpful advice and top tips are always great to make your customers life a bit easier and also position your brand as a helpful expert. If your customer is searching for tips on cooking a turkey, make sure you can be the one to provide the answers, this way the customer can purchase the product and get the best advice all in the one place!

 

Tagged with: Food & Drink, PR, Public Relations

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RIP PR?



I read an article over the weekend explaining that PR is dead. The discipline Bill Gates would spend his last dollar on is now apparently obsolete. As someone that has invested a lot of time into forging a career in PR, I was inclined to disagree. Granted, PR as we once knew it may be slowly dying a death, but as with all forms of communication, it has adapted and evolved into one of the most valuable assets a brand can have. And here’s how.

Social Media

Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+; there is a social media platform that will complement every business’ objectives. Whether your campaign relies on Instagram-worthy lifestyle shots or LinkedIn articles relaying opinions on legislation, if done correctly, social media can work for your company.

Facebook and Twitter were only made open to the public in 2006 and since then, they have become a communications staple, allowing brands to get their messages out succinctly, accurately and most importantly, whenever they want. Social media allows companies to engage with audiences directly, something traditional print coverage did not allow. Thanks to this, many PR agencies (including Refresh PR) offer social media management as a stand-alone service rather than the supporting platform it was only a few years ago.

Social influencers

The blogger-sphere has come to the forefront in recent years. Once used by hobbyists as a way of sharing information and opinions on a chosen topic, blogging is now a career choice, made by thousands who make a solid earning from it.

The beauty of bloggers and social media influencers is that they can be honest in the content they create, rather than write to the tone of voice of a magazine or paper. The rise of the blogger means fresh content is being generated on a daily basis, with each blogger or influencer targeting a unique demographic and the 21st century PR knows the importance of blogger endorsement. 

PR & SEO

Never have PR and SEO relied so heavily on each other. In a world where the Yellow Pages is deemed archaic and ranking on Google is pivotal to sales, backlinks on high authority sites are key to ensuring the success of a business. PR agencies can work with media outlets to provide quality information to be uploaded online, with a backlink. Working together not only reaps the rewards good PR offers, such as thought leader status, brand recognition and positive sentiment, but also supports SEO work.

Measurement

With this change in output, comes a change in results measurement. The value of AVE is often discussed amongst PRs, with most deeming it dated and inaccurate – and I’d agree. With social media, online coverage and blogger reviews fast becoming the best way to reach a target audience, how can you possibly use the colour ad rate for a magazine to work out if your PR campaign has been a success?

Tangible KPIs are much more valuable, with complete transparency on the results. At Refresh PR we work with clients to find out exactly what they want and need. If you want 100K visitors to your website, our KPIs will be set around that. Using Google Analytics, we can see where your users came from and adjust our PR plans in real time.

Have key objectives for social media? We’ll work our targets around outputs, engagement rates and follower numbers, with each set specifically to match your key business objectives.

That said, we still understand the importance of print coverage; it’s a valuable medium in an ever-changing industry due to readership loyalty. It is however paramount that PR agencies learn to adapt and evolve, ensuring they, and their clients, are not left behind.

If you want to have a chat with Refresh PR, and see how we can work with you to achieve your key business goals, call  0161 871 1188. 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , PR, PR campaign essential, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West