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Paddy Power’s latest PR campaign gets people talking again



Paddy Power is certainly not averse to controversial PR and its latest campaign has once again got plenty of people talking. After announcing a sponsorship deal with the bookmaker, Huddersfield Town FC released images of the club's supposed new kit for the upcoming season featuring the Paddy Power logo splashed across the shirt in a sash-style design.

It didn’t go down well with football fans and sparked outrage across social media with many describing it as the worst kit they’d ever seen. Paddy Power issued a press release saying that it “didn’t want to get into shirt sponsorship just to do the same as everyone else" and Huddersfield even wore the contentious kit for a friendly match against Rochdale.

The sponsorship certainly got people talking before, as many people suspected, Paddy Power eventually confirmed it was in fact a stunt. Huddersfield’s shirt will, in fact, bear no sponsor this season as part of Paddy Power’s ‘#SaveOurShirt’ campaign. The bookmaker released another statement saying “As a sponsor, we know our place, and it’s not on your shirt.”, calling on other sponsors to join the campaign to give something back to the fans.

Was it worth it?

The aim of the stunt was to get people in Paddy Power’s target audience talking about the bookmaker and it certainly achieved that. It was trending on Twitter in the UK when the shirt was first released and again when it was confirmed as a stunt. It also gained a huge amount of coverage, with not just sporting publications, but almost all of the national newspapers running the story, making it a major talking point up and down the country.

The initial stunt gained Paddy Power the desired exposure but the fact it has backed it up with a campaign that will appeal to football fans, one of its main target audiences, is a smart move. Whilst the stunt got people talking, almost all of the publicity was negative, whereas the ‘#SaveOurShirt’ campaign highlights a key issue that many fans are passionate about. This will not only result in even more coverage but also get its target audience back onside, putting the bookmaker front of mind.

The power of PR

Whilst the company’s logo will not feature on the Huddersfield’s shirt this season, Paddy Power has almost certainly gained more media coverage and overall exposure in its target audience from its ‘non sponsorship’ of a team in the Championship than any of the 10 bookmakers sponsoring Premier League teams will get throughout the season. When you consider that shirt sponsorship is considerably more costly in the Premier League than in the second tier, it helps to demonstrate the impact that a well thought out PR campaign can have.

Getting our clients front of mind through clever campaigns targeting their target audiences is exactly what we do at Refresh so it’s great to see Paddy Power pulling off a campaign like this, highlighting the power of PR once again.

Tagged with: Lifestyle, Manchester, Marketing, PR

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Double recognition for Refresh PR in CIPR Awards



The Refresh PR team is pleased to announce we have received two shortlists in the CIPR North West PRide Awards for Best Business and Corporate Communications Campaign and Best Integrated Campaign of the Year categories. The nominations are for our work with Eurocell and the Heating Installer Awards, respectively.

The CIPR North West PRide Awards celebrate outstanding communications campaigns and recognise PR activity that makes a positive impact on the businesses involved.

Laura Mashiter, our MD, said: “When we were submitting our award entries for both campaigns and looking at the results we had achieved, we knew they were both high quality entries and deserved recognition.

“Our work with Eurocell involved market research, a roundtable, the drafting of a forward-thinking whitepaper and a hard-working press office, and the outcome made a real impact on Eurocell and its business. In six months alone, the whitepaper achieved over 750 downloads and generated significant sales leads for Eurocell, which they are now converting.

“The Heating Installer Awards, which is owned and managed by Refresh PR, has grown each year by mammoth proportions. We now use events, video, social media, press office and get on-the-ground with installers to become THE awards tradespeople want to enter - creating mass brand exposure for our sponsors at the same time.”

The Refresh PR team has over seven decades of PR experience in both the built environment and tech sectors and experienced record growth in 2018/19, with 2019/2020 looking to be even bigger. 


Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment, Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR event, PR Manchester, PRide Awards, Public Relations

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Refresh PR sees a digital future



At Refresh we passionately believe in investing in developing the future workforce and helping talented youngsters acquire skills and experience. And we don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk as we demonstrated with the launch of our grad scheme last October.

Building on this we have now gone one step further by signing up to become a Digital Ambassador as part of Manchester Digital’s Digital Future initiative, a scheme that is asking businesses in the region to help bridge the digital skills gap by signing by passing on their expertise to young people. In this role we will provide advice and introductory training to youngsters across the North West on developing and implementing digital PR campaigns and strategies.

As an agency we are already seeing a growing demand for a more digital approach to PR and marketing and we passionately believe that our knowledge in this area can help young people consider a career in the field and provide them with skills that will generally aide them when they enter the workforce.

The Digital Futures programme aims to encourage more young people across GM to pursue a digital career and support educators to deliver relevant curriculum and careers guidance.

The scheme was launched following the findings of the independent trade body’s 2019 Skills Audit, which revealed that almost a third of digital businesses in the region had turned work away over the past year as a result of not being able to find the right talent to fulfil it.

Businesses already signed up to support the Digital Futures campaign include AutoTrader, On the Beach, Sainsbury’s, The Co-Op, NHS Salford Royal Hospital and Sigma. In total Manchester Digital aims to have 250 GM businesses on board by May 2020, through the GMCA-supported campaign.

We’ll share details on our first Digital Ambassador training session in due course! 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , creatiive agency Manchester, Creative Agency, Manchester, Marketing, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, Public Relations North West, Social Media

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Busting the myths around PR



PR has a problem: a PR problem. Seemingly a result of one of those inexplicable quirks of nature that exist, a sector that trades on its ability to communicate effectively and manage reputations struggles to do exactly that for itself.

This is an issue that the sector has talked about for some time now, and seemingly it isn’t getting any better. Research published in PR Week (we’ll get into the detail of that shortly) confirmed the fact only this week, as almost two thirds of people working in the industry admitted they did not know what PR actually is.

There is no denying that this is a frustration – and that is just on this stat alone, which brings flooding back so many conversations with my Mum as to what I ‘actually do’. The research, conducted by Ginger Comms, shone light on a range of myths and misconceptions that people hold about the sector that so many outstanding communications professionals work in, producing excellent work day in day out.

So, in an attempt to rectify this, I’ve gone through the report findings one by one in attempt to dispel the myths once and for all!

Myth #1: 92% believe PR is primarily used to deceive the public

With high profile political press spokespeople – particularly across the pond – currently in the news a lot it is easy to see where this myth has come from. However, for the vast majority of PR work, this simply isn’t the case.

For me and the fantastic people I work with, PR is primarily used to engage target audiences on subjects they are interested in, and influence their behaviour by providing them with quality, informative content that shapes their professional and personal lives. This takes a range of forms, from creating news stories and research-based whitepapers, through to producing web copy that improves website performance in SEO searches and organising events.

The goal of this is of course to influence people, but fundamentally in our line of work, it is far better to be honest. How we can ‘deceive’ people hasn’t been a discussion point in a single one of the meetings I’ve had here at Refresh PR. ‘Deceiving’ generally never really achieves anything in the end – and it is also something that trade bodies take a very dim view of.

Myth #2: 92% believe that PR professionals ‘bend the truth’

Again, this is simply inaccurate. Not once in my career have I been asked to bend the truth – or proposed doing so. Nor do I believe that anybody I have ever worked with has.

Our time is spent finding ways to effectively communicate to audiences in a way that they find engaging and informative. In the main this means working to identify the target audience, gaining an understanding of them and the content they consume, before devising excellent campaigns. This involves a great deal of creativity, knowledge and skill – with no bending of the truth needed.

Myth #3: 22% believe PR generates ‘fake news'

Thanks for this one Donald! But yeah, see myth #1.

Myth #4: 27% believe that public relations is exactly the same as marketing

PR has always been part of the marketing mix and it is probably fair to say that the line between the two is now more blurred than it ever has been before. However, some very important differences exist.

In short, marketing activities are trying to achieve direct revenue, while PR is trying to drive a positive reputation through an effective communication strategy. But what does this mean in practice?

As an example, while marketing can be very direct and promotional, this doesn’t pass the editorial test. As such, PR has to lead conversations and raise the profile of a business or individual by tapping into their broader expertise and adding value to the news agenda of the day.

Myth #5: 64 per cent believe PR professionals have glamourous, easy jobs

A quick straw poll of the office prompted a unanimous response: if only! Working in PR requires a lot of tenacity, skill and hard work – and the vast majority of it is simply not glamorous.

From starting the day with a frantic review of the news, working tirelessly to get hold of journalists and liaising with clients to establish their objectives, through to attending networking events in the evening and responding to breaking news stories at 9am, everyone in the industry is exceptionally hard working.

You need grit, determination and wit to work in PR; thankfully traits that everyone at Refresh PR has in abundance. And on that note, it’s time for Friday ‘drinks at the desk’.

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Is there still a place for press trips in today’s industry?



At Refresh PR, press trips are something that we believe are invaluable as they provide an opportunity to form more personal relationships with the people behind the email address that really influence the audience our clients are targeting.

Yet, despite these positives there is a growing scepticism as to whether they are worth the time and effort they require. Here we have pulled together our top three reasons detailing exactly why we think that the press trip remains as critical as ever.

Relationships

Going the extra mile and adding human interaction into pitching will always pay off. Despite living in a world where the sending an email or a text may seem to suffice, there is nothing better than a face-to-face catch up. This is the same in the media world. Meeting in person puts a face to a name and allows ‘real’ relationships to form.

Press trips provide all parties with the opportunity to form positive relationships, as a PR agency press trips present us with the opportunity to network with the influential people within our clients sectors, and for the press trip attendees they will have a reliable source to turn to when they need content on particular topics.

Cut through

We are in a time where almost every sector will have bloggers and journalists that truly influence the market by telling the world what they think. Making sure that your product or service is on their radar is absolutely the right thing to do.

Journalists can sometimes receive hundreds of press releases every single day, so by making sure your business/your name is memorable to them (which is much easier to do in person than it is via email!) means that you are the one they recognise instantly when your name pops up in their inbox. This ultimately means you’ve increased your chance of getting cut through. This familiarity also means you are likely to be able to pull in favours/be the first port of call when a magazine has a spare bit of space.

Impressing the right people with the right information will always help to provide cut through to the market you are trying to connect with and a write-up from the right person has the potential to create an abundance of opportunities!

Results

Following the press trip our clients will understandably want to see a good return on their investment. We have seen press trips work time and time again, if a client had a good story to tell and a journalist has invested their own time in allowing us to tell that story, then the journalist will inevitably be more interested in relaying it to their readers, listeners or viewers. And as long as that audience is engaged and exactly who our client wanted to target, then it’s a job well done!

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

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Procrastinating? You can now blame the internet



It’s a tale as old as time (or at least as old as 1990); we’ve been warned of the negative impact that the internet has on attention span, memory processes and social interactions. But now, this theory has been backed up by scientists from the University of Manchester, Western Sydney University, Harvard University and Kings College, Oxford University who say that the internet is significantly affecting the brain and potentially, our whole social fabric.

I hold my hands up, the first thing I do in the morning is check Twitter and the last thing I see at night is my Instagram feed but working in PR, surely this is acceptable and can’t have THAT much of an impact? According to the report, I couldn’t be more wrong. The constant stream of prompts the internet so helpfully provides us with means we are now constantly holding a divided attention – which then in turn decreases our capacity for maintaining concentration on a single task. This sentiment has been further brought to our attention in the latest series of Black Mirror, with ‘Smithereen’ looking at our almost dependent relationship with tech and social media.

When you take a step back and look at your working practices, when was the last time you sat down and concentrated solely on one task without an email, Whatsapp notification or Facebook comment taking your attention? In fact, in the 12 minutes it has taken me to write these first three paragraphs, I’ve had seven emails, one push notification from ASOS and a text from Dominoes – hardly conducive to a productive working environment.

The report also looks into the limitless amount of information available at our fingertips and how this affects our ability to retain and value facts and knowledge. Similar to when mobile phones first came out and we mocked that maths non-calculator exams would soon be redundant, it seems that having access to more information than ever means we are losing our ability to retain any information whatsoever.

 All is not lost, however. We have been given ways in which we can minimise the potential adverse effects of ‘high-intensity multi-tasking Internet usage’. Professor Jerome Sarris, Deputy Director and Director of Research at NICM Health Research Institute suggests practicing mindfulness and adopting ‘Internet hygiene’ techniques such as reducing online multitasking, ritualistic ‘checking’ behaviours, and evening online activity, while engaging in more in-person interactions.

If the above touched a nerve with you, read this blog post from our account director, Lucy Moore, on deep work and how shutting off from the internet can help you be more productive: http://www.refreshpr.co.uk/blog/post/05/2019/-Deep-work--and-how-it-can-be-effective-for-PR-professionals

Tagged with: Facebook, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, Social Media

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Isn’t it ironic: Amazon heads to the high street



Over the past decade, the UK high street has increasingly looked set to die, killed by a thousand cuts.  Since the collapse of Woolworths in 2008, 32 major retailers have met the same fate as the former icon of British retail.  

Last year alone led to the loss of an estimated 85,000 retail jobs as 1,000 large and small retailers went out of business. Among those that closed their doors for good were the fallen giants of Toys R Us and Maplin while countless others, including M&S, announced a raft of store closures.

The turmoil on the UK’s high streets has been caused by a number of factors ranging from reduced consumer confidence to ever increasing business rates and rents. Then of course it has been plagued by the rise – and rise – of online behemoths that have offered consumers competitive pricing and value-adds such as next day delivery.

An unlikely hero

Very much leading the assault on the high street has been Amazon, the one stop shop for seemingly everything and the pioneer of the Prime service. So, at the risk of quoting Alanis Morrisette, the sense of irony was not lost on us when Amazon opened it’s first bricks and mortar store, right here on our doorstep in Manchester.

Selling everything from food and drink to electronics, beauty products and homewares, and housing a number of Amazon Lockers for customers to collect their online orders, the store is the first of ten that Amazon plans to open across the UK this year. Part of a year-long pilot aimed at providing 100 small independent retailers their first taste of high street retailing, the store openings have been launched in partnership with the small business support organisation Enterprise Nation.

Explaining the decision to join forces with Amazon, Enterprise Nation highlighted that UK consumers like to be able to shop online and in-store, outlining that it hoped that the new stores would “help small businesses succeed by combining the best elements of online and high street retail”.

A change in fortunes?

This noble ambition certainly gives pause for thought on the idea that the UK high street is in terminal decline and gives some hope that it could yet be revived. After all Amazon hasn’t built its global success by backing losing horses, which would suggest that it’s first tentative steps onto the high street are part of a well-researched initiative aimed at further strengthening the business and meeting a consumer requirement.

If Amazon has got its calculations correct (which let’s face it, it usually does) it could be the start of a great revival for the UK high street. This will particularly true if the innovation of Amazon encourages others on the high street to modernise and innovate their approach to retailing, prompting further signs of life for traditional retailers.

Should this play out the giant of 21st century retailing that bought the high street to its knees could just be the one to help bring it back to life. Now that really would be ironic. 

Tagged with: Amazon, B2B PR agency Manchester , Lifestyle, Manchester, Marketing, North West , PR, PR Manchester

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UK tech on a global stage: 2019 Tech Nation report



This week, I attended Tech Nation’s packed-out Manchester event in which it released the findings of its 2019 Tech Nation report. As a strong advocate for the UK’s tech sector, I always look forward to the release of the report and seeing how UK tech is ranking on a global scale. It’s quite a lengthy document, so to make your life easier, I’ve scanned through and put down everything you need to know in this easy to digest blog – and it turns out the UK really is punching above its weight globally.  

Here are the key points I think are worth reporting on:  

·         £6.3bn was invested into UK tech in 2018 – more than any other European country

·         Manchester digital tech businesses alone collectively have a £4.98bn digital tech turnover

·         The UK ranks fourth in the world - only behind the US, China and India – when it comes to scaleup investment

·         Unsurprisingly, our strongest sector is Fintech – with investment in UK high-growth fintech firms topping £4.5bn between 2015 and 2018

·         Marketing tech, manufacturing tech and AI are also particularly high growth areas for the UK

·         In fact, investment in AI grew almost six-fold from 2014 to 2018

·         The tech meetup density ratio in Manchester is the highest in the UK. This doesn’t surprise me at all - I might be biased by Manchester is the best city in the UK in terms of tech community spirit and collaboration

·         From late 2018 to present day, London scaleup firms grew by over 56% - more than anywhere else globally

·         Manchester is home to five tech ‘unicorns’ – businesses worth over £1bn

·         Over a third of all of Europe and Israel’s 169 unicorn tech companies have been created in the UK

And, one of the more random bits of information to end with: Manchester’s UK tech cluster is twinning with……… you guessed it (or maybe not) – Budapest! Worked out based on the investment the companies based in the locations have received over the past five years. So, there you go.

I’m incredibly proud to work in the UK’s digital tech sector – it’s dynamic, exciting, and has endless opportunities. The latest Tech Nation report proves just that. 

If you fancy reading the full report, here it is: https://technation.io/report2019/

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign essential, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, tech, Tech PR

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A ‘FEIN’ new client for Refresh PR



We’re delighted to announce that we’ve secured a new client – premium power tool manufacturer FEIN – to add to our ever-growing portfolio of clients working within the built environment.  

FEIN has been a world-leading power tool manufacturer for over 150 years, providing professional power tools and special application solutions in the metal, interior and automotive sectors. Having invented the first ever electric hand drill in 1895, FEIN has continued to develop durable power tools for those working in a wide range of industries, including steel construction, machinery production, ship building and repair, plumbing and general building.

Our established built environment PR team has a plethora of experience within the sector, enabling us to deliver considered campaigns for clients on a daily basis. FEIN joins over a dozen other Refresh PR clients within the built environment and building products sector and we’ll be working with the company to raise its brand awareness and ultimately generate business leads through PR strategies and strategic content.

Speaking of the reasoning behind choosing Refresh PR, Channi Revell, marketing manager at FEIN, said: “I felt since the first initial call that we just clicked really well -  I really appreciated how interested and enthusiastic the team has been in the brand and this project and I think Refresh PR is definitely the right team to push this forward. I was also looking for an agency who really understood the technical nature of what we do and Refresh PR demonstrated this well.”

One thing that sets us apart from other PR agencies is our creative campaigns and we were very proud to be shortlisted twice in the B2B Campaign of the Year category at the Prolific North Awards. This recognition for the Future of Homes campaign which we executed for PVC-U window and door manufacturer Eurocell on top of the Refresh PR owned and run Heating Installer Awards helps to demonstrate our prowess for built environment PR campaigns.

We’re passionate about creating successful PR strategies that work for our clients across not only construction but also food & drink and in the tech sector where we have significantly grown our client base following the introduction of several new specialist members of the team.

All of our hard work last year resulted in a record growth year for Refresh PR and we’ve continued to go from strength to strength throughout 2019 so far. We’re looking forward to working with FEIN alongside our existing clients as we help to propel them to future success with innovative campaigns and strategies. 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment, Construction, PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Can delivery replace the microwave meal?’ Certainly not.



Today’s ‘big thought’ in Martin Bryant’s Big Revolution newsletter - which I recommend subscribing to if you haven’t already for daily insight into how technology is changing society - is Can delivery replace the microwave meal?

 

This stems from a statement made by the CEO of tech investor Naspers in an FT article about the rise of food delivery start-ups, and how they’re evolving, which reads: “I’m fairly convinced that 20 years from now, we will mostly not make our own food.”

 

Now, I’m all for embracing technology to reach new and innovative solutions that make our daily lives run more efficiently, and love shouting about exactly this on a daily basis for my clients, but to me, this statement is a tad farfetched.

 

For starters, the thought that in just 20 years, we will eat more food made by others than by ourselves is downright depressing. I know I don’t speak for the minority when I say I love a home cooked meal; the same goes for when I say I’m often disappointed by delivery food.

 

There is a real sense of reward and shared satisfaction in preparing food for others, and sitting around a table to enjoy it together is one of the only remaining constants in society that encourages genuine human interaction.

 

Despite attempts to lure people into thinking they’re getting value for their money by offering mass deals on heavily inflated ‘full’ prices, in most cases, preparing your own food is also much cheaper that ordering it online, and it doesn’t come with a hefty delivery charge.

 

What’s more, it’s significantly better for the environment, with delivery food often unethically-sourced, arriving in separate components, each with its own induvial plastic packaging, not to mention the additional emissions expended to deliver it and the tiny cut of the profits drivers get for doing so.

 

Bryant goes on to discuss how ‘dark kitchens’ - kitchens set up purely to serve delivery orders - are the new big thing, and how they’re a sign that investors believe there’s much more growth to come from the likes of Deliveroo and Uber Eats.

 

Taster has gone one step further, offering 'delivery-only’ food brands for distribution through food delivery companies, and while such businesses have proven time and time again that there is a huge market for quick and convenient food delivery which will undoubtedly continue to grow, it is important to note that the convenience of delivery food comes at a cost.

 

Referring back to the title of this blog and the question posed by Bryant, it might be a fair point to make that microwave meals could see further impact on sales with the rise of delivery food, but to say that this will play a larger role in our lives than food we have prepared ourselves by 2039 is absurd.

 

Though I will hold up my hands and admit I am probably more biased to home cooked food than the typical consumer, the day where the convenience of over-priced, unethical food in a sweaty plastic box takes priority over a home cooked meal will be a very sad one indeed.

 

 

 

Tagged with: Food & Drink, Leisure, Lifestyle, Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign essential, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Heating Installer Awards - The Highlights



Last week saw the result of 12 months of hard work as the team at Refresh PR announced Tony Dumble of Unequaled Heating as the winner of the Heating Installer Awards 2019. The Heating Installer Awards, which is owned and run by Refresh, was established to celebrate the achievements of plumbers and heating installers who deliver top quality work and excellent customer service on a daily basis. As we enter its fifth year, we thought now was the perfect time to reflect on some highlights from the 2018/19 campaign.

National coverage

The campaign this year started with a bang when we got two past winners, Dennis and Shaun, in The Sun talking about their experiences as plumbers. Whether it’s The Sun, The One Show or The Daily Mail, we work hard as a team to get national coverage for the awards and our sponsors.                       

Meeting new people

As we often help installers write their entry, we get to meet hundreds of installers each year and it never fails to give us great insight into the industry. We work hard to develop and maintain close relationships with our installer network and as a result we now work with many of them on campaigns for a number of our construction sector clients.

Our sponsors

Undoubtedly, one of the major highlights each year is working with our sponsors. Working alongside other teams that are as passionate about the industry as we are is always great and helps the awards reach its true potential. We’ve worked so closely with sponsors that they have gone on to become clients of ours and it’s something we definitely pride ourselves on. We also embed ourselves in our sponsors’ businesses, working closely with their marketing and sales teams to try and drive as many entries as possible.

Social media

I’ve never personally met a trade that is as invested in social media as the plumbing and heating community, so we use this as a key channel to build relationships and engage with the industry. Installers don’t just use social media as a tool to sell their services, they also use it as a platform to learn about new products, applications and techniques, as well as support each other through work as a sole trader and meet new people.  For those looking to engage with this audience, it can be difficult to get the tone of voice right; we’ve seen many brands try to use social media as a platform to target installers but content has been too formal and therefore inaffective. Once you get it right, you’ll have access to a community of tradespeople who are very passionate about the industry they work in.

Sponsor events

This year, we arranged for our regional winners to attend a training day (and night out) with our sponsor, Glow-worm. This was a great chance for Glow-worm to show the installers just how great its products and associated services are. It was an incredibly interesting day (and night!) and we cannot wait to see where the Glow-worm Mystery Trip will be this year!

Installer2019

As we’ve done previously, we announced the winner of the Heating Installer Awards 2019 at industry trade show, Installer. We got to meet all of our regional finalists face-to-face again and seeing how much the awards meant to them made 12 months of hard work worth it. Last year’s winner, Shaun Scott, joined us at the announcement to hand over his crown to this year’s winner, Tony Dumble of Unequald Heating. As always, the announcement was watched by a big crowd made up of installers and manufacturers from across the industry. Our sponsors also got the chance to take part in a Q&A, discussing the benefits of entering the awards and the positive impact the scheme has on the industry.

Parties

No exhibition would be complete without some after parties and we definitely took advantage of this at Installer2019. Whether it was winning £1 at the casino with Big Wipes or attending a networking event in a brewery hosted by Wilo, we made every minute count and had a great time!

To get involved in the Heating Installer Awards 2020, drop us an email at hia@refreshpr.co.uk.

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment, PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign essential, PR event, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Social Media

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'Deep work' and how it can be effective for PR professionals



Working for a set amount a time with no distractions from emails, texts, or colleague interactions – seems near on impossible, right? Particularly in agency life which is just about as fast-paced as you can get. Well, that’s what ‘deep work’ asks you to do. And it’s something I’ve bene trialling over the past few weeks – all within a fast-paced agency!

 

So here I wanted to share some of my experiences with it and how I believe other PRs and marketers can use the concept to become a hell of a lot more productive.

 

First, let me quickly outline the concept of deep work. I came across it a few months back listening to one of my favourite work-related podcasts, Eat Sleep Work Repeat – check it out if you’ve not already. Cal Newport, who coined the phrase, defines it as “professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.”

 

You can’t argue with that. However, this basically means avoiding the torrent of tech which is making us busier, yet less productive, than we ever have been! Think switching off your emails, Slacks, text messages and notifications for a set period each day.

 

Of course, there will be some jobs that the concept simply doesn’t work for, but for marketing and PR pros specifically, who spend much of their days pulling together strategic documents, plans to break into new markets, and writing high level pieces, deep work should – and can – be striven for.

 

Both my professional and personal lives have been overhauled as I’ve learnt to discipline myself and implement this, so here are a few tips I can give, based on my experience of trying it out:

  

#1 – Choose your environment carefully – sounds simple, but deep work needs to be done in the place you work best and for a lot of people, that might not necessarily be the office. Whether it’s in a co-working space, your local coffee shop, back bedroom, or your office, you need to be in a place you feel most productive and where you’re likely to have as few distractions possible. Next, set the best conditions in that environment; some people need total silence, whereas others need a little music. I find house music (with no words) does the trick, but I know classical music works for a lot of people, too.

 

#2 - Disconnect – turn your phone, email, Slack, social media – the lot – off. And tell your colleagues that you’re going to be unavailable for the next two or three hours. It might feel weird at first but once you’ve done it a couple of times your colleagues will get used to it and appreciate it as something that falls into your standard working routine.

 

#3 – Go – get that deep work done, and don’t be tempted to check your phone or email even once! My perfect time for deep work tends to be anything from 1 to 3 hours but some people can do it for much longer.

 

#4 – Set an intention – once you’ve done it and figured out if it works for you, set an intention for deep work in the future. You might decide to do it every day, once a week, once a month, or simply when you have a big project on that requires a lot of headspace. I personally try and do at least two hours twice a week – subject to how many meetings I have on that week!

 

Deep work won’t be for everyone, but for me it’s helped to give me clarity, focus and headspace to get big jobs done. It’s not easy for always-on PR pros and marketers – especially those working in an agency – but I reckon most people who try it will benefit enough to make it a regular thing. 

 

If you’ve read this blog and tried out deep work, I’d love for you to share your experiences with me on Twitter @ljmoore. 

 

Tagged with: PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester

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Second awards shortlist of 2019 for Refresh PR



The Refresh PR team has been celebrating this week, not only because it’s a four-day week, but also because we have been shortlisted for both the entries we submitted into this year’s Prolific North Awards. The awards celebrate excellence and recognise and reward outstanding campaigns and exceptional talent in the creative and media industries across the North of England.

 

Both Eurocell’s Future Homes campaign and the Heating Installer Awards campaign have been shortlisted for B2B PR Campaign of the Year 2019, vying against not only each other but also against six other outstanding campaigns led by top PR agencies.

 

The Eurocell Future Homes campaign is a research-based thought-leadership campaign. With over 600 downloads of a whitepaper, 1,400 visits to the campaign landing page and over 30 pieces of coverage in target, highly specialist media, the campaign has met and exceeded its objectives and KPIs.

 

The Heating Installer Awards, which Refresh PR owns, is an award scheme designed to celebrate quality heating installers across the UK. Every year it gets bigger and better and it is something we are incredibly proud of. We’re currently in our fourth year of the awards, and we are at a crucial and exciting time, with this year’s winner set to be announced in early May.

 

Congratulations to all those shortlisted for the Prolific North Awards, we look forward to catching up with you at the awards ceremony on 23rd May!

 

 

Tagged with: Award winning PR agency B2B Construction, B2B PR agency Manchester , Construction, PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign essential, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Refresh PR's tech team is boosted with three new client wins



We can finally announce that we have secured three more tech clients - Digitonic, ELLO Media and Manchester Digital – to add to our growing roster of clients which require the skills of a specialist digital PR agency. 

 

Digitonic, the smart mobile marketing specialist, creates conversational mobile experiences that help businesses acquire and retain customers using its proprietary technology. ELLO Media, powered by The Dining Club Group, is the B2B marketing agency which creates bespoke and tangible loyalty solutions for the UK’s biggest and brightest businesses. Manchester Digital is the independent trade association for digital business in the North West of England.   

 Refresh PR's tech team

Our established tech team has expanded with the introduction of three more members in the past six months. All have arrived at Refresh PR with unique experience in the tech sector, helping us to become perfectly placed to grow our existing client base, service our new clients and become further embedded into the dynamic tech and digital community.

 

Our team works with tech clients across the spectrum including agencies, established tech brands in all sectors, and start-ups. We offer a broad range of PR services but specialise in three core areas: awareness raising of the company, brand and its technology through clever content strategies; business development lead generation strategies; and PR strategies that work hand-in-hand with SEO teams to boost search rankings. 

 

Refresh PR’s MD Laura Mashiter said: “The exciting developments that are taking place in the tech sector, generated by companies based here in Manchester, across the North West and throughout the UK, are consistently reshaping the way in which we live and work. For PR agencies, it’s a fantastic community to be part of, enabling us to deliver new ways of undertaking PR activity to match our clients’ innovations. It’s a really forward-thinking sector that the team really thrives off working in.

 

“Our tech PR offering was established several years ago and we’ve been able to harness the skills we’ve learned, which started with PR backlink building campaigns, to support clients outside of the tech space too. It means that this is an essential element of most client’s strategies now, whether in the built environment, food and drink or retail sectors, helping us to demonstrate clear ROI with our campaigns.”

 

Refresh PR was named the CIPR North West PRide Awards Outstanding Small Agency 2017 and also won the Best Business and Corporate Communications Campaign 2017.

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Tech PR Manchester agency, Tech PR. Digital PR

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Work life balance in the PR sector: It does and should exist



I’m sure everyone who works in PR agencies has read the (sometimes amusing, sometimes relatable) articles which poke fun at the work life balance found in the agency world.

 

So, in an industry that is renowned for its lack of work life balance and a time where the internet means people can arguably never switch off, how does the team at Refresh manage work, relationships, hobbies, downtime and all other parts of life? I’ve pulled together what I believe are the top three things to be mindful of when trying to achieve what you believe to be your optimum work life balance.

 

Stay organised

In PR you are going to be pulled in at least ten different directions every single day. Being organised means that whilst it’s important to be flexible, you are always aware of what needed to be done to begin with and can return to it after being pulled away. It also means you can set realistic goals and expectations, allowing others to plan their time and therefore helping their work life balance too.

 

Be present

Although this may sound simple it can be a tricky skill to master. One of our account directors is a strong advocate for the discipline of yoga which definitely helps with this one! But in the work place this can be small changes such as switching your emails off for an hour to truly get into a piece of work or switching your phone off so no social media notifications can distract you. Being present whilst you are at work means that you’re more likely to get everything done and therefore you can enjoy your time out of work too. To summarise, being present means that you are essentially being more efficient and can therefore be present at home too, rather than continuously merging the two.

 

Take time to (excuse the pun) refresh yourself

At Refresh PR we all love a holiday. A month rarely goes by where someone isn’t jetting off for a week on the slopes, a weekend in an exciting city or some well-deserved tanning time in the sun. But taking a break to reenergise yourself doesn’t always have to be a luxury holiday. As an example, our most recent social to celebrate the end of the 2018/19 financial year took place on a Tuesday night. We went to Total Ninja in Trafford and then for a delicious Nando’s after. Whilst the evening may have caused physical aches and pains for a week, an evening to focus on nothing but succeeding at the next obstacle course and then what to order for tea, left everyone feeling refreshed and raring to go the next morning.

 

Work life balance can be hard to find, especially within PR agencies, but it’s important to help us avoid burnout and to make sure we come into work feeling refreshed!

 

 

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

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Trust and tech should go hand in hand: some thoughts following Cambridge Analytica whistleblower’s keynote at IP Expo



It was standing room only yesterday at Cambridge Analytica whistle-blower, Christopher Wiley’s, opening keynote at Manchester’s IP Expo. With hundreds of us watching through screens in overspill theatres, the attention the scandal is still attracting, over a year on, was apparent.

 

Christopher told the story which many of us know well, but it seemed more powerful hearing it directly from the horse’s mouth. At the centre of the scandal, farming the data of tens of millions of people – many of which without their consent – and then using this data to sway political campaigns and create online echo-chambers is clearly unethical. Yet it’s still happening and will continue to happen if businesses and governments allow it to.  

 

We’ve seen the revolt against tech giants start to pick up pace over the past few months, with the term ‘digital gangsters’ coming up again and again as a descriptor for these companies, so with cyberspace controlled by a small number of tech giants, is it time for tighter regulation of this? Christopher Wylie thought so, with one of his main points being that the internet is probably the only sector that doesn’t have to play by the rules like others do. Aviation firms need to prove that their new aircrafts work, and drug companies have to put each product through clinical trials – but what about tech companies / the internet? No such rules. This, when you consider that the internet is becoming increasingly difficult to manage without, is problematic.

 

That’s not to say that this won’t change in the future. The Cambridge Analytic scandal was a significant milestone in encouraging mass public discussion and debate on ethical standards for internet firms, social media companies, political organisations and politicians. Already we’ve seen calls for greater online protection and the right to privacy, as well as curbs on the spread of disinformation and fake news.

 

However, with China currently testing out a social scoring system, and major train stations and airports now testing biometrics like facial recognition, this wasn’t the first major scandal in information warfare, and it absolutely won’t be the last.

 

Tech giants now need to work even harder to win back that trust that has been eroded away with each scandal they have faced. Trust in tech companies is something I’ve spoken about before; it’s at an all-time low and won’t be easy to win back. To start with, I’d personally like to see:

 - Tech giants being accountable and owning up to mistakes – for real, in a way that doesn’t just feel obligatory

 - Firms using their power to create tech for good – it is being done but we need more of it! Consumers and businesses need to feel inspired and positive by tech and the opportunities it can afford

 - Being more transparent with users and losing the pages long T&Cs that most people HAVE to click anyway to simply use a webpage – instead, explaining these things in a simpler manner

 - Generally, do more to avoid unethical stuff happening – farming data without consent, allowing videos of mass murders to be live streamed on their platforms, enabling the inciting of hatred - full stop!

 

Regaining consumer trust won’t be easy, but with enough effort, could be done. I - as I’m sure anyone operating in the tech sector or with a vague interest in the matter will - will be following closely over the coming years. Technology has the potential to revolutionise how we work, live and play, but it can also be a very scary space.  

 

 

 

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World Book Day: a few of Refresh’s favourite reads




At Refresh reading is something we do every day. From reading the specialist trade media looking for opportunities for our clients through to reading whitepapers, reports and keeping abreast of breaking news, it forms a major part of our job roles.

It turns out it isn’t just something we do for work though, it’s something we’re passionate about and love doing. So, with it being world book day we asked the team for their favourite reads, and, it’s safe to say there’s a lot of variety in the literature we all consume.

Erin

For me it’s Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon. If you think you’re a little bit crazy and don’t know why, this book will do two things: 1. Confirm it. You are a little bit crazy. 2. Convince you that is absolutely okay because EVERYONE is.

This first hand account of English journalist Bryony’s battle with OCD (not repeatedly cleaning cupboards and flicking light switches, but the more extreme levels of OCD) manages to be heart breaking and hilarious in equal measures. Anyone who struggles with mental health will have almost certainly faced similar challenges to Bryony, but she makes that association a really welcoming, safe space where you’re invited to feel more at one with whatever you’re going through.

It’s beautifully written, candid and frank and really resonates with you afterwards.

Lucy

My favourite book is Trainspotting (and pretty much everything else Irvine Welsh writes). My signed copy is my most prized possession!

I love that it’s written in the Scottish dialect, the brilliant character development throughout, and how it gives a really raw portrayal of addiction in the late 1980’s in Scotland. I laughed, I cried, I came close to vomiting multiple times during this book. It’s kept me coming back for more over the years and I’ve read it at least three times.

You can’t go wrong with any of Welsh’s books – once you can get your head around reading the dialogue, they’re all great.

I love how Welsh isn’t afraid to speak up politically and socially, either.  

Ash

My favourite book is The Handmaid’s Tale. I was first introduced to the novel in my English Literature A-Level class and fell in love right away. Set in a dystopian future, the book looks at some key themes that are cropping up in society at the moment such as social apartheid, gender roles and rebellion. The way Atwood wrote The Handmaid’s Tale really submerges you in the story and I became incredibly invested when reading it. Fairly sinister, but The Handmaid’s Tale sparked a love for dystopian literature so when choosing my favourite book, it was a close call between this and Children of Men!

Matt

Picking one favourite book for me is a hard task; there have been so many great ones that I have read over the years. However, as I’m being forced to pick just one, I’d have to say To Kill a Mockingbird. To take the complex issues of racism and discrimination in the deep south and tell a story about it through the eyes of a child is incredibly powerful. I first read this as a teenager and still love it to this today. As I look at how my children see the world I often think that we could all do with thinking a bit more like children from time to time – and To Kill a Mockingbird perfectly encapsulates why.

Jake

My favourite book is Alan Partridge: Nomad. Even just looking at the front cover makes me laugh out loud – a tanned Alan posing pensively in a big white scarf. The book itself is really funny too and since reading it for the first time a few years ago, it’s been my go-to whenever I need a bit of a laugh.

I’ve always loved the I’m Alan Partridge TV series so when the book came out, I knew it was going to be a classic read. The ‘journey journal’ documents Alan’s personal journey as he follows in the footsteps of his father by walking from Norwich to nuclear reactor in Dungeness where Partridge senior once failed to attend a job interview.

Needless to say, Alan always has the last laugh throughout the book and it never fails to make me smile no matter how many times I read it – his hatred of Noel Edmonds (who he refuses to dignify with his full name) gets me every time.  

Ella

Harry Potter is a huge part of my childhood and is one of the reasons that I’m glad I was born in the 90’s. I’ve read all of them time and time again and still enjoy them as much as I did as a child. To this day, watching Harry Potter films or visiting places like The Wizarding World of Harry Potter makes me sad that there are no more books to come. As you can see from my photo, my Harry Potter books have been well loved by me and both my siblings. I think JK Rowling is brilliant and admire her for creating an entire world that swept people from all ages, all countries and all backgrounds off their feet. I’ll definitely be reading the books to my children one day!

Ben

My favourite book is Simple, by Yotam Ottolenghi. This is slightly rogue I know, but I thought I’d share a cookbook for my favourite book. The simple reason for this being that few things on this planet give me more pleasure than cooking for people.

To me, food represents encompassing and wholesome experiences. It’s sharing and socialising with others - from loved ones to complete strangers, it’s triggering the fondest of memories, it’s the foundations of culture, it’s putting a smile people’s faces, it’s an outlet of creative expression and it’s quite often the highlight of my day.

In my humble onion, Yotam Ottolenghi is the king of the culinary world, and ‘Simple’ is his latest masterpiece. It’s packed with explosive and subtle flavor combinations that are all undeniably-Ottoleghi, encouraging big spreads made for sharing. From the delicious food through to the stunning photography and minimal design, Simple is truly a work of art. Give me a shout if you want any of the recipes!

 

 

  

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , PR, World Book Day

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Futurebuild 2019 – what we thought



Although it has gone by a few monikers, the basis of Futurebuild has remained the same over the years – the number one destination to explore and tackle the biggest challenges impacting the built environment. In fact, Futurebuild believes its new identity reaffirms its commitment to championing true innovation and sustainability across the built environment. That’s why every year we try and visit the exhibition to allows to get ahead of the curve when it comes to all things construction.        

Futurebuild 2019 tackles the overarching theme of Time for Action, a topic vague enough to cover a range of topics yet still remain relevant. The key themes displayed throughout the exhibition were centred around sustainability, the housing crisis, off-site construction, the skills shortage and digital transformation - all of which feature highly on the news agenda. With a raft of clients in the construction sector, the above topics feature regularly in editorial content, social media and whitepapers that we draft so it was great to speak with industry experts to determine their viewpoints.

Tech in construction

This year, the exhibition hosted a range of seminars and workshops to delve deeper into key topics within the industry, including ‘Unlocking Construction’s Digital Future – A skills plan for the industry’, looking into CITB’s future plans to help the construction industry adopt more technology in its day-to-day running. It covered everything from app downloads and cloud-based systems to AI, VR and augmented reality and how the industry can realistically adopt these modern methods of working to reduce overheads and increase productivity.

It was great to see that bodies within construction are taking technology more seriously and a very valid point was raised within the workshop directly linking the reluctance to adopt technology and the skills shortage. A comparison was made between construction and the pharma and finance industries; with the latter two apparently willing to embrace modern technology, they are seeing a high number of young people seeking employment whereas the youth don’t seem invested in an industry like construction, that seems too traditional and archaic.

Young people are digital natives and use technology in their every day lives. If they aren’t looking to pursue a career in construction then there is a lack of drive from the industry to adopt the latest method of technology – which is what makes CITB’s £3.3million investment in digital training so important.

Offsite

As well as the drive for tech, it was interesting to see the emphasis that was placed on offsite, with the exhibition having a dedicated section for this method of construction. Deemed as one of the best ways to counteract the housing crisis, most of the ‘show stopping’ offsite stands were ready made rooms and buildings as opposed to the individual components that make a building. The exhibition hall displayed numerous pre-made rooms and buildings, such as Portakabin, and talking to the teams behind these creations, it is clear to see how they can help meet stringent housing targets. One provider can even build a property using five carparking spaces, building upwards, taking away the problem of the lack of land available in our urban areas.

Heritage

For me, some of the most interesting elements of Futurebuild were not the brands and manufacturers that were there, but the messaging they were putting out. As we approach the deadline for Brexit, a lot of companies were adding an emphasis of the heritage of their business, with stand branding emphasising how many years they had been providing solutions for. This was complemented by their constant innovation, reassuring customers, both current and future, that they have the experience to provide real benefits to a building project whilst still always developing and innovating.

Sustainability

There was also a real emphasis on sustainability and being ‘green’ – something most stands had to some degree. The University of Brighton’s full stand was showcasing its building made of reclaimed products including music cassettes as wall cavity insulation, ex-office carpet tiles used as cladding  and 19,800 toothbrushes used for wall cavity. ZEDpower also displayed a ‘Zero Bills Home’, again showing its passivehaus ideology, something that went down very well with delegates.

Whilst the exhibition has undoubtedly decreased in size over the years, halving in size, the quality of conversations, seminars and workshops has remained as insightful and informative as ever. Whether you’re an architect, specifier or just someone with a vested interest in the construction industry, we’d recommend attending Futurebuild and more importantly, engaging in the opportunities available there.   

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment, Construction, Home Interest, PR, Public Relations, Social Media

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North West Business Desk, Women in Business – a talk with Vanda Murray



As Operations Director one of my core job roles is developing and leading the implementation of Refresh’s professional development and training programmes. The great irony of this is that, in taking care of everyone else’s development and networking needs, my own can sometimes be overlooked.

 

This is something I vowed to ensure didn’t continue during 2019 and as such I recently spent an afternoon at the Hilton’s Cloud 23 bar in central Manchester for a talk with Vanda Murray as part of a Women in Business event hosted by the North West Business Desk.

 

With over 20 years of senior management experience across a range of B2B and B2C sectors in the UK, Europe, USA and Asia, Vanda now holds a wide range of non-executive directorships including Manchester Airports Group, Bunzl, Redrow and Fenner. She is also chair of governors at Manchester Metropolitan University.

 

It was fascinating to gain an insight into her experiences as a leader, as well as her views and visions for the future. Here’s what I took away from the talk.

 

Always play to your strengths

Ever since coming across Zenger Folkman’s The Extraordinary Leader over a decade ago, I have been passionate about the philosophy and approach that if you do what you are good at and what you love, you will be happier and fulfil your potential.

 

Here at Refresh, we’ve identified the fundamental competencies to be a competent PR professional and have created the Refresh Academy which equips our people with these core skills.

 

However, we recognise that the difference between being good and being great lies in identifying, building and utilising an individual’s unique strengths. This is why it was a breath of fresh air to hear Vanda highlight the importance of regularly taking a skills audit.

 

By doing so, we identify strengths that can be developed and refined to become specialisms, and also areas that require more work. Each of our team has different strengths across many different areas, which enables us to weave these in with one another in order to create a well-rounded agency that covers all bases of PR.

 

I’ve been with Refresh for three years and over this time have worked hard to achieve what we have today – a highly competent, high performing team full of different personalities playing to their strengths. Through helping people realise their potential and work to the best of their abilities we have created a great place to work.

 

The 4th revolution – be ready for it

It was no surprise that technological disruption and its impact on business remained a focal point throughout Vanda’s talk. Ultimately, every decision we make at Refresh comes back to how technology will impact our business and how we can remain responsive and flexible during a period of rapid change.

 

Vanda cleverly incorporated autonomous vehicles (AVs) into her talk to highlight why being proactive and flexible is so important for businesses of today. With car production forecast to decline by 70% over the next 20 years, AVs will last one million miles, and are expected to reduce fatal accidents by 90%, saving 400,000 lives each decade and $190bn a year in healthcare costs.

 

But as one problem is being solved, a second is being created. A reduction in road traffic fatalities will lead to a reduction in organ donation as vehicle deaths account for roughly 20% of all organ transplants.  But where there are problems, there is opportunity, and in Silicon Valley they are working on technology to 3D print human organs.

 

Vanda stressed that, like Silicon Valley, businesses need to be removing the fear of the future and getting ready to change. In the past week alone Refresh has received five new briefs, and for each one the team has come up with new and innovative ways to approach them, using much more than just traditional PR to deliver results for our clients. These efforts have been rewarded as of late, with our clients saying we are the most creative PR agency they have worked with.

 

By seeing problems as new opportunities to innovate and provide new solutions, businesses and their employees can be acting now to ensure they have the skills required for the future. Teams must be agile, creative and work collaboratively to drive innovation, change and growth.

 

The future of PR

Both listening to Vanda, and reflecting back on the talk since, my mind kept coming back to how everything she said could be taken back and applied to Refresh. This can be seen most clearly in two instances. First and foremost, as businesses become increasingly competitive, they will have to be more creative, bigger and bolder in their approach to stand out from the crowd. As such PR will play an increasingly important role in the marketing mix, bringing brands to life and ensuring they rise above the chitter chatter of the market with a clear voice.

 

Second, and perhaps more importantly, PR is well placed to come through these revolutionary times (in terms of how businesses operate and the technology that we use) ultimately being viewed as even more valuable than it is already. Much of the focus of Vanda’s talk was about the need for businesses to be creative, innovative and collaborative – all skills and attributes that come naturally to PR professionals. If the opportunity is taken PR as a sector will be able to not just shape the marketing and communications of businesses but also take our core skills and help drive forward other areas of the business as strategic consultants.  

 

As I continue to develop the Refresh Learning and Development framework I will be ensuring that these core skills sit at the heart of it, from our Graduate programme up to our Executive Development programme. And in doing so I will be confident that Refresh PR is ready to seize new opportunities and that any Refresh team member is fully prepared to work in a world that will be crying out for their expertise.

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , HR in PR agencies, the future of business, The future of PR

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Why long form will always be the winner in the content wars



1,000+ is the magic number for sharable content – that’s according to a report released this week. An in-depth analysis of millions of blog posts published over the course of a year revealed that longer articles generated 56% more social shares on average. This number increased even further when it came to posts of 3,000 words and more, responsible for 77.2% more referring links.

 

The research landed at the perfect time, as I was already busy drafting a blog on the benefits of longer form content. So, aside from the increased likelihood of social sharing, I wanted to share my thoughts on why I believe this type of content will be crucial to any business or media outlet moving forward.

 

Value

Longer form content really enables writers to tell a story and build up a narrative around a topic, enabling them to put across more than one point of view in the piece (which I consider to be hugely valuable these days where a lot of the news we consume is restricted to one view point or another). These longer form pieces give us access to so many alternative viewpoints that you wouldn’t necessarily get with a shorter piece.  All of this serves to create increased value for readers.

Two of my favourite articles of the past week have taken me at least 20 minutes to read each, but the fact I’ve invested my time in doing so says to me that I value the content (and therefore who wrote it) much more.

 

Trust

The value of longer form writing has always been clear in my eyes, however, I think it will become increasingly important as our trust in media diminishes, largely due to the rise of fake news. Pieces that have clearly had a lot of effort and research invested in them will automatically gain the trust of reader (and Google – more below) much more than short articles. The ongoing problem of fake news is something that isn’t going away any time soon so long pieces will remain crucial to gain (and keep) consumer trust.

 

Search engine rankings

Getting traffic to websites is hugely important which is why clickbait and shorter form content, which is quick and easy to push out, tends to dominate the web. And there is absolutely still a place for it, meaning it’s unlikely that it will never go away. However, search engines do rank high quality content better. Google isn’t stupid, and it wants to see content that is authoritative, trustworthy and valued by readers.  

 

In addition, in depth content keeps those eyes on page for longer and gets bounce rates down, which is crucial for search rankings and media outlets - specifically when it comes to selling advertising.

 

Builds brand loyalty

As longer form content serves to keep visitors on a site for longer, it also helps to build brand loyalty and continuous discovery. Keeping a reader on a site for longer reinforces why they are there and tends to make them more likely to explore other sections of the site, rather than clicking straight off. Businesses should seriously consider this fact, and use it to inform their online experiences by thinking: how can I use these increased eyes on page to our benefit?

 

The future of long-form 

Clearly, longer form content delivers great value to readers. However, one of the things we now must consider – specifically when we look at long-form journalism – is how we can ensure its continuation?

 

Businesses can invest their own budgets in writing great longer form content, but it gets a little trickier when it comes to media outlets. In a world that believes information should be free, who forks out for these brilliant investigative pieces? In my eyes, information should be inclusive and available to all – whether they’re able to pay for it or not. However, I’m more than happy to pay a few quid out of my own pocket each week to help keep great journalism alive. 

 

If we want to continue to hear the views of many different people – rather than the select viewpoints of those media outlets that dominate much of the ‘free’ news agenda – I truly think this is the right thing to do. So, if you do have a spare few quid a month and really value a certain news outlet or blog, pay to get yourself behind that firewall; the future of great writing depends on it.

 

One final note: ironic that I haven’t managed to get this blog up to 1,000 words, eh?

 

 

Tagged with: creative PR writing, Tech PR Manchester agency, Tech PR. Digital PR

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We're finalists at the PR Moment Awards



With our name being Refresh PR, what's at the heart of our business is no secret! Whilst the agency may have evolved to incorporate other aspects of the marketing mix over the last ten years, PR is still our bread and butter.

 

That being said, there is nothing we love more than being recognised for our PR campaigns, and that is exactly what happened last Friday! In our first awards shortlist of 2019, we were told that we are a finalist in the PR Moment Awards, in the B2B Campaign of the Year 2019 category for our Heating Installer Awards campaign.

 

The Heating Installer Awards, which are operated by Refresh PR, celebrates quality heating installers across the UK. Now approaching the entry deadline, the Heating Installer Awards is in its fourth year, and is going from strength to strength. It continues to attract fantastic sponsors, all of whom want to recognise the hardworking tradespeople within the industry.

 

The PR Moment Awards shortlist is the most recent in a growing list of awards that we have won or been shortlisted for over the past 12 months including CIPR Pride Awards 2018, the Construction Marketing Awards 2018, the City of Manchester Business Awards 2018 and the MPA Inspiration Awards 2018.

 

This latest award shortlist is just one way to demonstrate the hard work we put in every day. Well done to the team, and to all other businesses that have been shortlisted. You can see the full list here: https://prmomentawards.com/2019-shortlist-north?_ga=2.47933870.840553178.1549624649-187315265.1549624649

 

 

 

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Three PR lessons to take from #FyreFestival



In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks and haven’t heard about the monumental shambles that was Fyre Festival, put simply, it was the festival that promised the world but never actually happened.

 

American entrepreneur Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule co-founded the festival to promote a new talent booking app, FYRE. Using their connections to attract some of the world’s biggest social media stars, the duo constructed a huge influencer campaign, selling the festival as ‘Instagram in real life’, with Kendall Jenner receiving $250,000 for a single post.

 

Having spent thousands of dollars on tickets for an immersive, VIP experience like no other, excited festival-goers arrived at the Fyre site on a private island in the Bahamas to find it looked nothing like the advertisements. Luxurious villas turned out to be glorified tents, catering by celebrity chef Stephen Starr was actually overworked locals handing out dubious cheese sandwiches (more on this later), luggage was thrown out of a shipping container in the dark, Blink 182 were supposed to be headlining but pulled out at the last minute...the list goes on. The dream soon descended into a nightmare, with many left stranded at the airport with no food or water.

 

Following the Fyre Festival saga, McFarland pleaded guilty to wire-fraud charges and was sentenced to six years in prison, ordered to forfeit $26 million. Here are three things that we can learn from his shortfalls:

 

Truth will always prevail

 

McFarland knew well ahead of the festival that it wasn’t going to deliver on a fraction of what was promised, but he still let people come, resulting in a viral disaster.

 

We must first be honest with ourselves, and second the audiences we communicate with, on what brands and campaigns can deliver. This ultimately comes down to good planning through setting realistic goals and executing the strategy to achieve them.

 

Never underestimate the power of human interest

 

Millions of dollars were pumped into the influencer-dominated campaign, yet a single photo of a cheese sandwich tweeted by a hacked-off festival-goer was enough to essentially finish the whole thing off.

 

This was far more powerful than models posing in bikinis and posting orange squares on Instagram to sell a festival they knew hardly anything about.

 

Why? Because it was relatable and emotive.

 

As was the devastating story of Pamela Carter, the caterer who was forced to give $50,000 of her savings to her staff because McFarland failed to pay them. A GoFundMe campaign set up to reimburse her has since raised more than $220,000.

 

Not all hype is good hype

 

You can have the best idea, concept or vision to exist, but if you can’t make it a reality, it effectively becomes worthless and potentially very damaging.

 

 

 

 

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Three takeaways from Manchester Digital’s 2019 skills festival



Earlier this week I spent the afternoon at Manchester Digital’s annual skills audit launch – part of its week-long annual skills festival – and I wanted to share some of the key points I took away from the event.

 

Want some insight into what's on the minds of the North West’s tech businesses? Brexit and brainpower…

 

Revealing the results of its latest audit at its Manchester Tech Incubator HQ on Monday afternoon, Manchester Digital reported that 37% of firms in the region had suffered a negative business impact from Brexit concerns over the past year. Additionally, growth slowdown was reported amongst tech firms across the North West, with just 54% reporting turnover growth this year compared to 83% in 2014 – much of this attributed to Brexit worries.

 

Skills also remained a top concern for digital businesses in the region, with almost a third having to turn away work as a result of not being able to find the right talent to fulfil it and 60% having to inflate salaries to compete for staff.

 

As someone that has been present at the skills audit reveal for the past few years, the skills issue is recurring; something which threatens to hamper the growth of the entire sector. And while there are a number of great initiatives now in place from lots of businesses and universities across the region to change this, the impacts of these efforts still haven’t been felt to their full extent yet. I think it will be another few years until the sector starts reaping the full rewards of these initiatives.

 

It’s worth mentioning here that we’re working closely with Manchester Digital to help the organisation shout about the work it does in the region, particularly around closing the skills gap. You can read more about Manchester Digital and check out the 2019 skills audit here: https://www.manchesterdigital.com/digital-skills-audit-2019

 

The robots are coming (but with the right prep, we shouldn’t be scared)

 

One of the most interesting talks of the day for me came from Matthew Gould, Director General from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. One of the topics he covered was the impending convulsion of the labour market as a result of AI advances. Matthew talked about a ‘serious displacement of people’ who are currently in what were previously thought of as ‘rock solid’ jobs.

 

This is the first time I have properly heard this being seriously acknowledged by someone in Government, which I thought was really refreshing. I agree with Matthew that this is going to be a huge issue and we should adequately prepare for it. Granted, it will be the monotonous, repetitive tasks in immediate danger, many of which have already gone.

 

To ensure that this doesn’t cause the catastrophe that many sensationalist headlines are currently “predicting”, I believe we now need to think carefully about those roles which are going to be harder to impact and consider how we can go about fostering skills and development in these areas. For me personally, this is where creative roles really come into their own - anything which requires creative thinking which can’t be done by an algorithm. I’m hoping this will lead to a bigger focus on creative and arts roles, something which was also echoed by Matthew, who emphasised the sector’s growth relies on these skills, as well as the more technical STEM ones.

 

The traditional ‘computer science’ degree taker stereotype is wrong, and corrosive

 

Sticking with the ever-apparent skills theme, my third key takeaway is something I’ve been discussing with various people for a while - and something Josh Smith from DEMOS made a very clear point of: the whole idea of what a ‘computer scientist’ is, is totally wrong. There are thousands of computer science degrees across various institutions in the UK – so why are we still suffering at the helm of a skills shortage?

 

Josh talked about the fact that many people have a singular view of what a job in computer science is, saying that the idea that technical skills are for certain types of people is bad. The idea that coders have to have a naturally brilliant technical mind is extremely corrosive. I’d agree that there are certain stereotypes attached to technical roles which are damaging for the talent pipeline. White man sat in a dark room behind a computer drinking red bull spring to mind?

 

I think the entire sector would benefit greatly from the removal of this stereotype. For me, it’s crucial to enhance the pipeline and get more people from diverse backgrounds to consider a role in the sector. For me, this starts with shouting about the huge breadth of roles available in the tech sector, and the fact that they aren’t only accessible if you have a technical background; whether you have a psychology background that would do you well in a user experience (UX) role, or a creative background which would work well in a game or app design role.

 

I really believe that in order to solve its talent pipeline issues, the tech sector needs to start pulling more on the talent pools of other sectors, as well as people from more diverse backgrounds - the UK’s fourth industrial revolution depends on it.

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Tech PR Manchester agency, Tech PR. Digital PR

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The Growth of FinTech in Manchester



FinTech has really taken off recently, particularly in Manchester where a number of startups have emerged. This is perhaps unsurprising given that the city’s two largest industries are tech and financial services, and whilst London may still be the more popular location for companies in the industry, Manchester’s FinTech scene is really starting to boom.

 

By definition, FinTech is technology designed to improve and automate the delivery and use of financial services and it’s changing the way we bank, invest, insure and pay for things. Manchester has a long history of innovation and productivity and, as a tech enthusiast myself, I’m excited to see how the city can attract more successful FinTech companies to the area.

 

In order to hear more about the growth of FinTech in the city, I recently attended Manchester Digital’s ‘Fintech: Beyond the Hype’ breakfast event. The event took place at the MSP Tech Incubator, a coworking space located in Manchester Technology Centre. The dedicated hotdesking space offers start up tech companies a place to grow their business at the start of their journey and provided a fitting setting for the event.

 

After a pastry and a quick bit of networking, I settled down with the rest of the packed-out audience to listen to a panel of experts give their insights. The panel was made up of FinTech startup founders and tech and product practitioners, all with extensive experience and knowledge of the sector. 

 

The event was chaired by FinTech entrepreneur Conny Dorrestijn, who kicked proceedings off by comparing her home city, Amsterdam with Manchester, noting the similarities between the two cities with their can-do attitudes, canals and famous football teams.

 

Bringing their practical experience of working in FinTech to the table, the panel offered astute advice for those looking to get into the industry, giving insight on what it takes to start up a successful FinTech company.

 

One of the key takeaways from the event was the need for FinTech products to solve a genuine customer problem. The panel discussed that many startup companies create a FinTech solution before actually finding a problem to solve. They stressed the importance of involving the customer right at the beginning of the process and working with them to get quantifiable data before writing a single line of code.

 

The panel also discussed the issue of funding which proves to be a barrier for many FinTech startups. Whilst traditional retail companies buy their stock for X, sell for Y and make a profit, tech startups require huge investment before you can see whether it’s a success or not. The experts argued that although venture capital is important eventually, it’s crucial to get the product to market before investment. They asserted that startup founders should concentrate on being passionate about making a difference and that once they’ve created a solution and put everything on the line for the product, the investment will follow.

 

When talking about growing the right team, the panel discussed the importance of finding people that both compliment and challenge you. The same can be applied for most industries - at Refresh PR, we have a passionate mix of varying strengths and personalities which complement each other and that’s what makes us such a great team. The experts reflected that this kind of team spirit is key to any successful FinTech business.

 

A question from an audience member produced a healthy debate on whether a FinTech startup should choose London or Manchester as their base. I may be biased, but having spent time in London, I have to say Manchester is the superior city - it’s more budget-friendly, everything’s accessible and the people are more welcoming. There seems to be much more of a sense of community in Manchester compared to London and the panel discussed that whereas FinTech businesses tend to get drowned out in London, Manchester has a developing eco system which is geared towards helping FinTech startups thrive.

 

A member of the panel mentioned that he’d been to a similar FinTech event 18 months ago in Manchester which only five people had attended; fast forward a year and a half and this particular event was completely packed out, giving an indication of the recent rise of FinTech in the city. Having led the industrial revolution, Manchester has now reinvented itself as a tech hub as a result of huge growth in the digital sector. As more money and time is invested, I’m excited to see how many global brands will choose to develop their FinTech projects in and around Manchester.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , FinTech, Fintech PR, FinTech PR Manchester, Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Should social media be left to the intern?



One of the biggest changes to the world over the last decade has undoubtedly been the rise of social media. It’s influence has been felt across the board, from personal use to B2C, to B2B. Would we still be in touch with school friends without WhatsApp? Would elections have swung different ways if it wasn’t for Facebook? Would the Kardashian’s be famous without Instagram? Would most people even use the # key if it wasn’t for Twitter? Many parts of our lives are now shaped by social media; for many, it’s the first thing we look at in the morning and the last thing we do at night.

 

As mentioned, the impact of social media is not just on our personal lives, but in business and leisure too: your place of work, your favourite shop, your WiFi provider… everyone is on social media, as it is the most immediate way to interact. Depending on follower numbers, and engagement levels, millions of people have the potential be captured with one simple post.

 

We can all think of social media fails, and know how quickly they can go viral. No company wants to be in that position, and no employee wants to be responsible for a faux pas. So why do companies all too often leave something with such great potential (both to do both good and bad) to the least senior people in the team?

 

Is it because interns are usually the youngest, and therefore have grown up with social media and understand it more? This assumption may be correct to an extent, as younger people do spend a lot of time on their phones and therefore have sight of creative campaigns, understand the tone that different companies use (for example the light-hearted tone of the Greggs Twitter account vs the more corporate account of IBM). But let’s not forget, this is the most direct way that companies can interact with their stakeholders, and once you put something out on the internet it’s there to stay.

 

With this in mind, giving an inexperienced person complete free reign may not be the most fool proof idea, especially when there are company rules and regulations with branding and embargos. In addition, just because social media posts are usually shorter than other pieces of content, they still require thought and understanding of the topic and tone.

 

Ultimately, social media is great fun, and it should be a place for creativity, however when it comes to company business, no one wants to get it wrong and be turned into a meme. So it’s important to get the balance right! In 2019 social media is likely to be the first place customers go to get an impression of your brand, so make it fun but get it checked!

 

Here are a couple of examples of why you can’t take your eye off the ball when it comes to social media:

 

When YouTube mixed up its flag…

You Tube example

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When one of America’s most popular food chains forgot that Alaska is actually part of North America…

Alaska example

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Social Media

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The not-so-smart market of smart speakers



“Google, how long will it take me to get to work today?”

 

This request rings out from my living room every, single, morning as my husband asks our personal assistant, Google Home Mini, to do the job he could do perfectly well himself just one month ago.

 

When it came to deciding which smart home assistant we should purchase, there was a lot of deliberation. After all, there are a wealth of options now available to compare. But it was decided, a Google Home Mini would tick all our boxes. And we’re not the only family venturing in to this arena.

 

It’s predicted that 164 million smart speakers will be purchased worldwide in 2019, according to Deloitte. If achieved, this figure will be up 67 per cent on the previous year; so, there’s no denying, uptake is strong. Will 2019 be the year of the smart speaker?

 

Well, seemingly not. Further research from Deloitte shows that even though lots of us are out there purchasing smart speakers, we’re nowhere near making them a part of our daily lives. In fact, smart speakers are our seventh most used device every day, coming behind the likes of smart watches, tablets and even the desktop computer. Why, when it was predicted that smart speakers would become a fundamental part of our connected homes, are they not achieving their envisaged potential, from both a personal and professional perspective?

 

Our preferred smart speaker has so many capabilities, it is almost mind-blowing such technology is possible from a device 10cm in diameter. But the fact is, I don’t have time to figure out all its functions (of which there are hundreds); to release its full potential would require significant investment time from me and my family. I just want it to work quickly, and to make my life easier. I’m not marrying it so therefore I don’t need to know its intricacies. Has overthinking the possibilities of smart speakers in turn, turned us off as consumers?

 

From a business perspective, to achieve voice search-Nirvana and be the business Google and its equivalents recommend when tasked with finding ‘the best garage in Manchester’ or ‘Cardiff’s number one restaurant’, a huge amount of background work is needed. The way voice search works requires another level of expertise entirely to SEO, and by the time we have engineers trained to meet this need, we’ll be on to our next gadget. Either that, or businesses must spend thousands on the relevant search engines, and I’m not sure it’s a good business model to base your success on, when the top uses of smart speakers, Deloitte says, are listening to music, checking the weather and setting alarms.

 

The market saturation of smart speakers is leading to a race to the bottom on price, so while sales and revenue are up, margins are dropping quickly. Not until a manufacturer creates a smart speaker that is by nature intuitive, rather than requiring training, will they be part and parcel of family life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Marketing, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Product Placement, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, smart speakers, Tech PR Manchester agency, Tech PR. Digital PR

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Is social media starting to change?



As years go, 2018 was not a good one for Facebook. The social media giant seemed to lurch from one crisis to another facing down not only the Cambridge Analytica scandal but also the fallout of a security breach that affected 50 million users.

 

And the pain didn’t stop there, as following the introduction of GDPR the company lost a million active users a day in Europe between June and September while failing to gain significant numbers of new users in other territories to offset its losses.  To round out the year from hell for the company, it saw its shares plummet by nearly a quarter over the course of the year.

 

Against this backdrop it perhaps should have come as no surprise to see experiential app ‘One Second Everyday’ overtake Facebook in terms of downloads at the end of 2018. Nonetheless when I saw these figures, I found it interesting to see that the application, which allows users to record one second of video every day, before chronologically editing them together into a single film, was outperforming the Daddy of all social media. 

 

The fall of Goliath?

Firstly, it raises interesting questions around why downloads of Facebook are stagnating. Is it because there has been a number of issues around trust following the recent scandals it has encountered? Has it now reached the point of market saturation after its 11-year romp of dominance? Or is it because the interface is becoming tired, and its user experience less appealing to younger demographics that now tend to gravitate towards other platforms? It probably can’t be attributed to any single one of these factors and is instead the result of a combination of all of them causing the platform to falter.

 

Ultimately the audience of Facebook and their needs have changed – it’s not current for the demographic it was initially aimed at anymore. It’s gaining an older following who want to connect with those they have lost touch with. And those of us who grew up with it almost use it as a habit now rather than anything else.

 

Changing user habits

In contrast to this, One Second Everyday (OSE) has a slick user interface which feels very different from the established social media platforms. OSE is really easy to use and is not being constantly plugged with new ideas (i.e. Marketplace, stories, etc) – it’s clean and the no frills element is appealing.

 

On a personal level, OSE provides a really easy way to capture the best parts of my life, giving me the option to choose whether or not to share it with others. Simultaneously it is enabling me to record, and reminisce about, the great things I’m doing NOW, unlike Facebook which provides me with a reminder of the embarrassing things I did 10 years ago!

 

At a more general level the very premise of OSE, requires users to take an action every single day. This not only increases engagement with the app; it also gives it a purpose that goes beyond aimless scrolling.  

 

As such, the shift towards OSE versus Facebook is likely reflective of a shift in our general use of apps.  It seems to me that we are becoming less inclined to use social media and instead are preferring to use apps that are more wholesome and private, confined to just our friends and family. Against the backdrop of trust issues with Facebook resulting from its data breaches, coupled with the user experience offered by other apps, it’s easy to see the appeal of platforms which are more private.

 

A look to the future

While the current rise of OSE and decline of Facebook is perhaps indicative of a general change in consumer attitudes towards social media, it would be remiss to assume that this will be sustained. After all, it’s important to remember that despite its recent issues Facebook remains the most used social media platform in the world.

 

What’s more there is nothing to say that OSE won’t start to tune in to this new era of vanity social media, where we are showing off how fantastic our lives are. If this is a route it goes down, seeing people use it to self-promote rather than using it for the greater good, in time it could become similar to Facebook. And who knows at that point it could even become an attractive acquisition target for Zuckerberg and co.

 

Regardless of what the future may hold it’s exciting to see new, fresh platforms taking off, challenging existing ones to up their game.

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Social Media, Tech PR Manchester agency, Tech PR. Digital PR

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PR resolutions for 2019



As the year draws to a close, it is customary to reflect on the year that has passed and set goals and plans for the year to come. A key tradition at this time of year is to make resolutions for the year ahead - both personally and professionally. In keeping with this tradition, we asked some of the Refresh team for resolutions for 2019.  

Laura, managing director

1.Don’t panic, stay strong

2019 is going to be a major year of change in our political landscape. As speculation grows about how Britain will leave the EU, companies are currently in no-man’s-land, which makes planning for 2019 and beyond a challenge. For the majority of our clients it’s business as normal, and until we know more, there’s only so much we can all do to hedge our bets. And absolutely, we work with each of our clients to respond to their changing agendas – and we’ll continue to do so as 2019 evolves.

What we do know in times of uncertainty is that businesses which hold their nerve, and look for opportunities to evolve with the changing landscape (however tough it may seem), often come out on top. I will therefore always argue that PR is integral to supporting a business through times of change, so it’s going to be an exciting year for us as we work with existing and new clients to support them through the twists and turns.

2. Get prepared

As an amount of volatility is expected in 2019, a key resolution for businesses should be to get all their ducks in a row as soon as possible. Brief all external agencies quickly, and have them ready and on standby for if/when you need to increase their service levels. If a challenge hits your business and there’s no PR agency support in place, it’s going to be extremely difficult to find agency support at the last-minute. Rushing could ultimately lead to the wrong choice; having an agency you trust and want to hear from (sometimes multiple times each day) is crucial, so not only is this a capability/business match, it’s also about having a good relationship with like-minded account handlers who can understand your requests and action them immediately.  So get prepared but take your time and find the right agency for you.

3. Work out what return on investments truly means for you

For each of our clients, strong ROI means something different. Have a look at your PR metrics and make sure they can stand up to scrutiny from the FD. In 2019 and beyond it’s going to be ever more crucial to demonstrate strong ROI, and the business impact that all elements of the marketing mix are having.

PR must stand up and be counted, so how can it make a tangible difference? If you haven’t already, ask your agency how they propose measuring this. If your FD came in tomorrow and needed to cut budgets, would the PR spend be protected because of the value it’s delivering? Make this a resolution in early 2019 and it’ll make the process of collating 2020’s budgets a lot easier!

Lucy, account director

1. Integrate with clients more closely

As an industry we should be spending more time working out of clients’ offices. In a world where email is king, it can be easy to fall back on this, but getting in front of clients and really integrating in what is going on in their businesses is crucial. The entire Refresh team will be making a bigger effort to hot desk from clients’ offices throughout 2019.

2. It’s time to PR ourselves

As an industry its high time we bigged ourselves up more! We do an amazing job shouting about what our clients are doing but rarely shout about the cool things we’re doing. An agency’s own PR often falls to the bottom of the pile, but expect to hear more from us on this front next year!

3. Continue to upskill

It might seem an obvious one but we must keep learning new skills. Every year, PR becomes even more united with the general marketing and digital mix. The team at Refresh will be looking to further broader their knowledge and not just rest on our laurels – whether that’s dipping our toes in coding or digital marketing, or taking a crash course on influencer marketing.

Matt, senior account manager

1. Keep the basics front of mind

As digital platforms evolve, the media landscape changes and new buzz words like ‘influencer outreach’ bubble to the surface it is easy to get distracted by the latest shiny toys. However, while these new platforms, channels and techniques will play an important role in helping us to reach audiences and drive engagement it’s critical that we don’t forget the fundamentals in the process. Good content, good stories, and good pitching will remain king in PR in 2019 and we’d be wise to ensure these skills and competencies don’t slide at the expense of the next big thing.

2. Become a trusted advisor

All too regularly PR agencies are too easily pressured into actioning something for a client that we would advise delivers little value. However, if we move the perception away from ‘supplier’ to ‘trusted advisor’ we would be better placed to push back on ideas that are unlikely to pay dividends for the overall PR strategy.

3. Pause for thought

PR is a fast paced environment to work in, constantly striving to keep up with the news agenda and ensure no opportunities are missed. However, in 2019 there were one or two mishaps in the PR world which resulted from going ahead with an idea before fully thinking it through. As such it’s critical that we make sure we take time to pause and evaluate ideas before pressing the launch button.

Got your own ideas? Please add them to our list below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, resolutions

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The top tech round-ups of 2018



It’s been a brilliant year for tech, with advances that couldn’t have been imagined in our wildest dreams a few years ago! As you may have been able to tell from some of our latest blog posts, at Refresh PR we love a bit of tech and we’re extremely excited about the future of tech (particularly in our beloved Manchester!).

 

In this blog we’ve pulled together our top tech roundups from the year. If you want the best gadgets, the most interesting stories or the more niche tech, we’ve got a round up for everyone.

 

Engadget

This article focuses on the successes within tech. In a year with many things to complain about, Engadget has found many things worth celebrating. As well as the obvious tech such as phones and laptops, this piece also looks into mini synthesizers, retro emulators and e-readers.

 

TechRadar

TechRadar has pulled together a list for people who expect the best. If only the best is good enough, this is the roundup you need to read. For each category within the round up, there is only product/service, and the article will be continuously updated when something new takes the top spot – so you know you are truly getting the most up-to-date best of the best.

 

Alphr

This roundup describes 2018 as ‘a turbulent one in tech’. The article describes some of the complex news stories that have made headlines over the past year. From Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal to some of the year’s most shocking data hacks, this article has got all the ins and outs.

 

BestProducts

If you are someone that loves to have every bit of tech that’s out there, then this is the one for you. The 100 coolest gadgets of 2018.

 

Popular Mechanics  

And last, but certainly not least, a nod to another one of our passions at Refresh PR, food and drink, with this article on ‘The Best Gifts for the Tech-Loving Foodies in Your Life’. From red wine aerators to coffee mills, there are a few things we wouldn’t mind on this list!

 

The future of tech

What is to come in 2019? We’re already looking forward to seeing 2019’s roundups, and comparing them to the roundup’s in this blog post, because let’s face it every year we sit and think how did we possibly live without the tech that now exists? Stay tuned to our blog for more updates, round ups and insights into the tech industry!

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , tech, Tech PR, Tech round up

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Influencers: Are they still influential?



2018 has undoubtedly been the year of the influencer… whatever industry you are in, from tech to plumbing and from food and drink to construction, there will be people with a huge online following who are now promoting brands and making a living from social media activity. This ‘trend’ of influencers has gained praise and criticism alike, because amongst all of the genuine influencers, you can often find people who have paid for followers in a bid to become ‘Instagram famous’.

 

I recently attended a brilliant and insightful Chartered Institute of Marketing influencer event at Manchester Metropolitan University. The event reaffirmed my belief that the good outweighs the bad when it comes to influencer marketing, and that despite the rise in the number of influencers, they are definitely still a force to be reckoned with.


The making of an influencer

The panel at the event started out by discussing what makes an influencer, for instance can you be an influencer if you have under 1,000 followers? After all some people have more than 1,000 followers that are just their friends. However, after some discussion, a conclusion was reached that in some cases fewer followers can mean a more engaged following. Through being more engaged, the followers often care more about what the influencer has to say, which can be more valuable.

 

By taking this view, this saturated market can definitely be seen as an advantage, as it just means more choice. For different opportunities, companies can target niches and specific sectors, whereas in the past only ‘traditional celebrities’ and large multinational companies with big budgets had the means to do this. Now, whilst celebrities with millions of followers are still most likely to promote bigger brands, micro influencers (people with 10,000-50,000 followers) are more accessible to smaller companies with smaller budgets.

 


The role of social media

Social media has also meant the rise of unlikely influencers, for example 30 years ago I don’t imagine you’d find many builders that could reach tens of thousands of people as easily as they can now via social media communities. This means that influencers are not just useful to obvious brands, there is an influencer for everyone! This view was supported by a number of statistics at the event. For example:

- 81% of marketers that have used influencers have found them to be effective

- 51% of marketers believe that they have a better customer base due to influencer marketing

- Social Media Explorer discovered that 92% of consumers are more likely to trust an individual (influencer) over a brand

 


Trusted voices

One of the final points made at the event was that 92% of consumers say that they trust word of mouth recommendations, and that influencers are basically an extension of this. For me, this really solidified the important role that influencers should play in a marketing strategy. We all listen to recommendations from friends, family, colleagues, and anyone with an opinion that we trust. And ultimately, that is all influencers are, just an extension of every day word of mouth recommendations. It’s nothing new, it’s just the social media tools that are different. And even with the rules of social media that state you must put #ad in any paid for posts, if followers trust and engage with an influencer, this #ad is irrelevant and people will still listen.

 


Importance in PR

So why should this be considered in PR? As reiterated throughout this blog, influencer marketing is going from strength to strength as the world becomes increasingly integrated. From a public relations perspective, this opens doors to a number of opportunities to improve and increase awareness for businesses through relevant influencers. 

 

 

 

Tagged with: Influencers, Lifestyle, PR, Product Placement, Public Relations

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The Tech Ghosts of Future, Past and Present



There’s nothing like the impending festive period to focus the mind on how quickly time flies. We’re just over a week away from calendars flipping into 2019 yet it seems like a mere blink of the eye since 2017 morphed into 2018.


The speed of which time seems to pass us by, is no more profoundly felt than in the world of tech. We all know the famous quote ‘a week’s a long time in politics’, well in tech sometimes it feels like a day is an eternity such is the speed of change.


So, in an attempt to both take time to reflect and to get into the Christmas spirit, I’m going to attempt to take a leaf out of a Charles Dickens book (quite literally) and condense a year in tech down to a night of vivid dreams (well, a blog actually).


The Ghosts of Technologies Past


If there was to be a ghost appearing from technology’s past this year it would undoubtedly be visiting the CEOs of some of our tech giants with a warning about taking users for granted. Both Facebook, with the Cambridge Analytica scandal and security breach that affected 50 million users, and Twitter, with its lax policy on extremist users, were in the limelight for all the wrong reasons in 2018.


And it wasn’t just social media giants that found themselves in stormy waters. Google faced rebellions over its Dragonfly project, which aimed to create a censored engine for the Chinese market and Project Maven, a programme to produce a computer vision system for warfare, prompting several members of staff to resign.


What all of these incidents made clear is that while people may well be heavily bought into - even maybe reliant - on these tech giants, they expect them to follow a certain ethical code and not to just expect them to accept any actions they decide to take. Moving into 2019 it will be interesting to see whether these incidents see a greater moral consideration in future tech developments and projects.


The Ghost of Technologies Present


For all the warnings of the Ghost of the Past, the Ghost of Technologies Present will almost certainly arrive with a more positive message. There is no doubt that tech is booming. In the UK tech is growing nearly three times faster than the overall economy. Globally the sector is seeing more and more star-ups bringing innovative products and solutions to the market. So, all in all it is a positive industry to be in right now.


However, for all that positivity it’s vital that the sector doesn’t get complacent. Some of us are old enough to remember the dot com crash of 18 years ago and there are small signs that, if the sector doesn’t take steps to prevent it, another similar crash could be on the horizon. It might seem unnecessarily gloomy given all the positives but I don’t remember the Ghost of Christmas Present rocking up with a sleigh full of joy inducing gifts!


The Ghost of Technologies Future


The future of tech is exciting – change, evolution, revolutions even, are occurring all the time in this vibrant sector. But let’s face it, in the UK’s 2018 edition trying to make a prediction is just downright foolhardy – I don’t need to spell out the B word right? And let’s not even spell out GE – it might just push Brenda in Bristol over the edge.


Uncertainty aside I’m going to stick my neck on the line here and make one bold prediction that I believe that any Ghost of Technologies Future would deliver. Ahem, are we ready: AI will once again dominate column (or blog) inches in 2019 with the potential it has to deliver. It will once again advance and evolve and we’ll start to see its capabilities harnessed more widely. However, for all the hype it won’t advance to the stage whereby the machines will rise and take all our jobs. That’s a positive outlook isn’t?


Anyway, I hope you all have a very merry Christmas – I best sign off this blog post now, I’ve just received an email from the MD calling me into a meeting about the PR Professional Humanoid Bot 2000……….

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , tech, Tech PR

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Three Months as a Grad at Refresh PR



Entering the daunting world of work

Having finally parted with the safety blanket of education, it was time to go out into the ‘real world’ and find myself a job. And whilst the opportunity to take my life wherever I desired was exciting, I know I speak for a lot of graduates when I say that the prospect of transitioning into the working world was also quite daunting.

 

The pressure to succeed and make the right decision to effectively justify all of my hard work up to this point became overwhelming at times. I was about to embark on what I hoped would be an exciting and fulfilling career, and it was important that my final step into adulthood was the right one.


Application process

Following a CV screening and telephone interview, I was invited to an assessment centre at the Refresh PR office along with five other graduates. The day consisted of multiple group and individual assessments followed by a final interview which allowed me to get a better feel for the company.

 

To me, people are the most valuable asset to any successful business, and upon meeting the team at Refresh, I knew I wanted the job almost straight away. Great people coupled with company values that paralleled my own assured me that I would be a good cultural fit.

 

On the job

Like a lot of media and communications graduates, I never thought my first job would be at an agency like Refresh, but now I can wholeheartedly say that I’m so glad it is.

 

Perhaps what I value most in my new role is the exposure I receive to all aspects of the business on a daily basis. There is a real team vibe in the office and I am able to sit with senior people who have years of industry experience and are always more than happy to lend their time and expertise. My colleagues are passionate about what they do and have a wealth of knowledge in a range of sectors including tech, food and drink, and the built environment.

 

I enjoy the fast-paced and varied agency setting, and though it sounds clichéd, no two days are ever the same. One day I could be implementing a multi-platform social media campaign for one of our clients, the next I could be networking with the heating installer and plumbing community rallying up entries for the famous Heating Installer Awards. I’m already seeing tangible results from the work I’ve been doing for clients which is such a rewarding feeling.

 

I was given responsibility from day one and have a great support system around me, as well as a structured personal and professional training and development programme which covers all aspects of PR to run alongside my day job. This will ensure that by the end of the year-long programme, I will have a well-rounded and refined skillset that will serve as a foundation for the rest of my career.

 

It’s also a really exciting time to have joined Refresh. In the short time I’ve been here, the agency has scooped two prestigious industry awards and seen multiple new business leads come through from companies which are keen to join our rapidly expanding client base. I’m eagerly looking forward to immersing myself in the client journey from the very start of the process in the New Year and (hopefully) creating some award-winning work myself!

 

I wanted to join a company that was innovative, collaborative and made a difference with the work it does, and Refresh PR is all of this and more. Everyone brings something different to the agency, and together we have an amazing opportunity to craft the company’s future and continue to reach new heights. I can confidently say it’s an environment in which I will learn, grow and fulfil my potential with a clear path for career development.

 

Refresh has set the ladder out in front of me, now it’s up to me to climb it.

 

Advice for other grads

-        Match the company’s culture and values with those of your own: This is everything. If this isn’t right, chances are you won’t enjoy the work you do

-        Find your unique selling points: Every man and his dog has a degree these days, so focus on what makes you stand out and shout about it

-        Practice competency-based interview questions: Employers will very often want to see how you can think on the spot and respond to situations

-        Fail to prepare, prepare to fail: Whether this mean prepping for an interview, research for a client meeting, or even planning what you’re going to have for lunch tomorrow, it always pays to be prepared

-        Take a gap year/time to think: This is possibly the best decision I’ve ever made. I got to experience incredible new places, immersing myself in different cultures and gaining valuable new perspectives. My gap year also gave me lots of thinking time to reflect on what specifically I wanted to do with my career (and everything else in my life). Plus, when will you ever get a better opportunity to take time off?

-        Make use of your colleagues and don’t be afraid to ask questions (even if you think it might make you look silly): Your colleagues will have all been in exactly the same position as you in the past, so they’ll know what you’re going through, and they’re there to help! Feed off their knowledge and learn from them

-     Always look forward: View all experiences and mistakes as opportunities to learn; take all feedback on board and use this to be even better in the future

 

 

 

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

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Tech Thrives Outside London



For many of us living outside our nation’s capital, we can be left exasperated by how ‘London- centric’ business and the media can be - especially when there is so much going on outside the M25. However, it’s something that we seemingly can’t avoid and just have to get on with or risk becoming bitter and twisted over the imbalance.

 

Equally, for the frustration at the London-centric attitude that prevails, the rest of the nation is not blind to its weaknesses. After all, if the rest of us are going to compete with the capital city, attention needs to be drawn to shortcomings that may exist to ensure that they are addressed, enabling us to become stronger and stronger.

 

As such, there were mixed emotions recently in the Refresh office when we saw the Guardian run a story under the headline ‘Can Tech Thrive Outside of London?’. On first reading there was a sense of indignation at such a patronising headline: one look at our recent blog posts is enough to tell you that in Manchester alone the tech sector is booming.

 

The city already supports 62,653 digital jobs, creating an output of £2.8 billion per annum.  What’s more, the most recent Tech Nation report revealed that almost 70% of tech investment in 2016 took place outside of London, with £78 million of this invested in Manchester, making it the UK’s second largest tech cluster.

 

However, on further reading, the article was far more balanced than the headline perhaps suggested. Covering a roundtable sponsored by Cisco, the article sought opinions from senior figures from across the UK tech sector on the challenges tech companies face outside of London. 

 

Structural Weaknesses

Speaking at the event, Mike Jackson entrepreneur success director at Tech Nation, told participants that while there are distinct advantages to being based outside the capital (such as a lower cost of living), businesses are still hamstrung by four primary problems. He outlined these ‘structural weaknesses’ outside London as:

1.      Access to capital

2.      Access to growth space for businesses that are growing

3.      Access to second-generation mentorship i.e. experienced people who can help develop younger employees

4.      Wider access to talent such as CTOs, CMOs and CPOs

 

Some of these challenges are not surprising, after all we have explored them in recent blog posts looking at the need for office space and the potential skills gap that is developing in the North. However, the roundtable shed light on some of the issues around the senior staff shortage, further expanding on the skills gap. 

 

Salary drop versus lifestyle boost

For instance, when it comes to the skills gap, one of the problems discussed was people expecting a London salary in Northern cities. Speaking at the roundtable Sarat Pediredla, CEO of Newcastle-based Hedgehog Lab, a tech consultancy, noted that when speaking to senior people based in London there is a “mental block to reducing your wage” despite the fact that a five-figure salary in Newcastle instead of a six figure one in London will “leave you in a comfortable place”.

 

Andy Cooper, co-founder of Draw & Code, a tech studio in Liverpool, said that he felt this message was starting to cut through as tech professionals from London were starting to look for a more affordable lifestyle, including cheaper housing, in the North, saying that he no longer had any issues attracting people to the business. He noted that for those wanting to save to buy a house or start a family the North was an attractive alternative to London.

 

There are strengths – and they need to be played to

In addition to challenges the Northern tech sector faces, the roundtable also highlighted its strengths, including that it is easier to collaborate than in London. Vimla Appadoo, service designer at FutureGov commented that the more “open” northern attitude, and the smaller nature of its towns and cities, gives it a distinct advantage over the capital as “across the north you can know all the startups and all the founders, and what the events are – and you can get involved.”

 

This view was seconded by Ian Finch, Chair of BIMA North West and founder of digital agency Mando, who argued that collaboration has become increasingly important to the tech industry, saying that “you can’t do multiple things well, so the way digital has gone you have to collaborate. The people who’ve been slow to collaborate are dying off.”

 

The future is bright

As a result of the strengths of collaboration and its ability to offer a more affordable lifestyle, the conclusion of the event sponsor, Cisco, was that the future for the Northern tech sector is bright. Speaking at the event, CTO John Johnson said he was positive about the future as “investment in the north now is increasing at pace”, giving a vote of confidence to the tech sector outside of London. Indeed, this tallies with our own experiences of a UK tech scene which is exciting and thriving, and without doubt cities across the North are playing a critical role in its success.

 

 

 

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

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Refresh PR takes top spot at the national Construction Marketing Awards 2018



Refresh PR has won Best use of Press and Public Relations at the national Construction Marketing Awards 2018 for its industry-leading Heating Installer Awards campaign.

 

Refresh PR Construction Award

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

The awards, designed and launched by Refresh PR four years ago, were initially developed to support plumbers and heating installers who were delivering high-quality, professional work to homeowners and commercial companies across the UK but facing increased competition from unqualified workers.

 

Evolving over the past four years, the awards still remain true to their roots while incorporating new elements, including a search for the best apprentices across the UK.

 

Sophie Smith, awards director, commented: “We’ve worked closely with our sponsors over the years, who realise that while the value for heating installers is in the credibility that the awards bring toRefresh PR Construction Marketing Award winner their business, the value for sponsors is in being able to form strong working relationships with these key industry influencers. It is a form of sponsorship that delivers so much more.

 

“We’ve built the campaign in this way to ensure we maximise opportunities for heating installers at every point, whether that’s incentives to enter or prize bundles for regional and national winners that deliver real business benefits for them. At every point possible we’ve kept the campaign digital, with a real focus on creating a supportive community on social media. The challenge now is to continue to evolve to strengthen it again for Year 5!”

 

Beating off competition from five other campaigns, which included Refresh PR’s own PR work for www.myglazing.com, the judges had the following observations: “The campaign had very clear outcomes versus objectives which were surpassed in all cases. Research was undertaken with key audiences and plans made to evolve the awards and introduce new elements. The campaign clearly met its objectives, delivering an annual awards campaign that can grow in future years.”

 

Refresh PR was shortlisted for three other awards on the night including two Best Mid-Budget Campaign awards and national PR Agency of the Year.

 

Laura Mashiter, managing director of Refresh PR, said: “This was a real highlight in Refresh PR’s year. 2018 has been a year of fantastic PR campaigns in the sector produced by some top agencies, making this recognition even more special. Refresh PR's Heating Installer Awards campaign continues to gather momentum thanks to our amazing 2018/19 sponsors, and despite already being part way through Year 4 of our campaign, it's about time the team working on this account took a step back and realised just what they have achieved and how far they have come in a relatively short space of time.

 

“As we go into another year faced with more political uncertainty and Brexit debate, PR campaigns must be able to demonstrate true business benefit in order to secure the support of the Board. Creative campaigns that can cut through the noise to deliver real value will always be in demand, so it’s up to us to continue to push the boundaries and use all the communication channels we have at our disposal – from social media and influencers to broadcast, print and online – to ensure clients’ messages are being heard.

 

With the shortlists and win, Refresh PR cements its place as one of the UK’s leading construction agencies on the national league table.

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment, Construction Marketing Awards, Construction PR, Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign essential, PR Manchester

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Manchester now rivals some of the top cities in the world for tech: why the sector needs to shout about it more



I’ve come out of two events in recent weeks, centred around Manchester’s digital tech sector – Manchester Digital’s ‘digital revolution’ and Insider’s ‘Northern Powerhouse digital and tech conference’ – feeling energised, excited and proud to work in the sector. I genuinely think you’d struggle to find a more exciting place in Europe to be doing business in the tech sector than Manchester.

 

While skills, talent acquisition and retention, the region’s digital ecosystem, and investment were of course high up on the agenda at both events, I wanted to write a few words about something else: marketing and promotion. Attending these events and hearing about the exciting things going on in our city and region, I’m often taken aback at the number of companies that are doing brilliant things in the sector, but forgetting to shout about it.

 

Why it’s important

For companies with their heads in R&D, their latest round of investment, trying to attract and retain staff, or any of the other critical focuses of an innovative tech company, it’s easy to see why promotion often falls to the bottom of the pile.

 

However, prioritising promotion will often lead to benefits in a number of the above areas – whether that’s more investment opportunities through increased awareness in the right places, at the right time, or attracting staff due to prioritising building a great brand on social or sharing regular positive news stories, for example.

 

How tech companies can do more of it  

But, with PR options often feeling like a minefield, how can time-strapped entrepreneurs choose which tactics will benefit them most? Of course, that’s down to the goals and objectives of each individual organisation, but there are number of ways to get you started:

 

Figure out what you need from PR

It’s easy to fall down the route of taking a scatter gun approach to PR, particularly in the early stages. This can, however, leave you time poor, stressed, and unable to realise all of the opportunities afforded to you through it. Start by working out your PR aim by asking yourself why you need PR and how it can feed in to the wider business goals? Cleverly thought out PR campaigns can help you achieve a number of core business objectives - from gearing your business up for investment or sale, to launching a new product or increasing sales – so it’s crucial you identify the business need and mould your PR around it. 

 

Make a name for yourself at events

Events will always be a great way of meeting likeminded people and sharing your story. Securing a speaker or panellist slot is a great way of raising your profile and demonstrating expertise on key topics, themes or issues. You’ll often find that these opportunities don’t start and end with you up on that stage: there are lots of opportunities for cross promotion, whether that’s blogging ahead of the event, being included in post-event press coverage, or tagging onto social media campaigns around it. In terms of the events to target, it’s worth considering getting out of your comfort zone and instead of going to solely tech-focused events, seek out ones in other sectors, where you’re keen to make inroads.

 

Make the most of industry bodies

If you’re member of a trade organisation, such as Manchester Digital, ensure you make the most of your membership. Many of these organisations will offer promotion as part of your membership – whether that’s a profile page on their website, shout outs on social media, allowing you to draft content for their websites and eShots, or even be part of news stories they’re putting out to media. Speak to your contact at any trade body you’re a member of about how you can get involved.  

 

Get out there!

Network, network, network. The more people you meet, the more you’ll be able to spread the word about what you do: simple. While it can be difficult to find time to get out to these events, if you select them wisely, they can bring huge benefits. Consider making the most out of networking sessions by talking to as many people as you can while you’re there, engaging in any social media before or after the event by following event hashtags, for example, or writing up a short LinkedIn or blog post following the event to give your time there more longevity.

 

Leading the way

Manchester and the wider North West are making strides towards becoming one of Europe’s top tech destinations. However, in order to ensure sustained growth, businesses must understand the importance of PR and marketing, whether that’s starting small and testing the waters or employing the help of a specialist PR company to elevate your business to the next level.

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Manchester, Networking Event, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Product Placement, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Tech PR Manchester agency, Tech PR. Digital PR

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The next PR skill shortage will be of our own making



Refresh PR’s HR team recently launched our first ever graduate development programme leading to the appointment of Ben as our Junior Account Executive.

 

A one year personal and professional development scheme, the programme will provide Ben with support from a mentor and full cycle of experience and development to cover every aspect of PR. This includes a programme of learning outside of the day job which is on a par with our internal development programme for current rising executive talent.

 

The scheme itself had over 150 applications within 72 hours of it being advertised and interest was so intense we had to freeze applications sooner than we had originally intended. Not only were we completely taken aback by the sheer volume of applications but also by the high standard of them which made the process highly competitive. 

 

It was incredibly difficult to whittle the 150+ applicants down to an initial shortlist of 25 all of whom were interviewed by phone before a final six were invited to participate in an assessment day. The day, much like the shortlisting process, highlighted just how much raw potential PR talent there is out there for the sector to tap into.

 

However, while this does gives cause for optimism, it should be tempered by the reoccurring theme that cropped out throughout the assessment day: the lack of opportunities grads are being offered when trying to get their break into the PR industry. The overwhelming consensus was that there is a vicious circle whereby every job requires experience. However, without being taken on they are unable to gain that experience unless they take on unpaid internships – which they simply can’t afford to pursue.

 

Given the number of new agencies being formed, and the growth in the sector, it seems almost obvious that recruiting graduates for training within the sector is the right step to take. But after we spoke to applicants they reported that ours was one of the only PR grad schemes they had ever seen advertised.

 

This creates two major issues, the first being that talent is lost. From our experience it is evident that there is lots of interest in PR as a career choice, but without entry level opportunities the talent will undoubtedly turn to other sectors to kick-start their careers. This in turn creates a future skills shortage at mid-management level.

 

In 2008, after the recession hit, PR, along with many other sectors, suffered and as a result stopped recruiting at entry level. This was a temporary fix; it wasn’t an issue at the time, but it has created a skill shortage now, at middle management level: the exact level where people who were recruited in 2008-12 are now sitting. Or in other words, as a result of the drop in entry-level recruitment ten years ago there is now a dire shortage of talented account management level staff available today.

 

Sadly, it seems, we haven’t learned from the enforced choices we had to make as a sector during the recession. Not only are we suffering from the knock-on effects of that time period, but we’re risking recreating the issue for ten years down the line by not recruiting entry-level talent in the here and now. And if we are to avoid another future skills shortage, things needs to change and companies need to offer talented grads opportunities – because if we don’t we’ll only have ourselves to blame.

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , jobs in PR, jobs in PR in Manchester, Manchester, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR skills shortage, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Refresh PR earns silver stripe at North West CIPR PRide Awards 2018



Refresh PR has scooped the Outstanding Small Public Relations Consultancy Silver Award 2018 at the North West CIPR PRide Awards 2018.

 

The awards, judged by a panel of leading industry experts, took place on Wednesday 7th November at the Hilton Deansgate in our hometown of Manchester and celebrated the achievements of outstanding businesses and individuals in public relations across the region.

 

More than 320 PR professionals were in attendance to represent the North West’s flourishing PR community at the UK’s most prestigious nationwide awards scheme in the industry.

 

On the same night, we were also shortlisted for Best Integrated Campaign for our work on The Heating Installer Awards 2018, plus another campaign, TableNow.co.uk’s search for the Professional Eater, was also a finalist and in the running for an award on the night.

 

Laura Mashiter, managing director at Refresh PR, said: “The North West CIPR Pride Awards recognise the very best in public relations from across the region, so winning the Outstanding Small Public Relations Consultancy Silver Award is a testament to our dedication and commitment to delivering tangible results for our clients.

 

“The past year has been one of rapid evolution and growth for Refresh PR, and with the team we currently have in place, I’m genuinely excited to see what another year will bring.”

 

Hayley James Chart.PR, MCIPR, Chair of CIPR North West, commented: “The quality and quantity of top class entries for this year’s PRide Awards was once again very, very high. Everyone who was recognised should feel incredibly proud of their achievements.

 

“All our finalists demonstrated a level of insight and strategic thinking that, as the CIPR turns 70, bodes incredibly well for the future of our profession over the next 70 years.

 

“The PR profession plays a pivotal role in helping organisations and the wider public navigate the pace of change in modern life, and so I was delighted we could take a moment to celebrate all that is great about PR in the North West at the PRide Awards.”

 

If there is one thing to take away from the awards, it’s that PR in the North West is thriving, and we’re thrilled to be amidst the thick of the action. It was a fantastic evening of celebration and a pleasure to share a room with businesses and individuals that help drive the industry we love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, PRide Awards, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Tech and Construction Key to Manchester’s Next Wave of Growth



At Refresh PR two of our passions are the built environment and technology, so there was great excitement in the office last week when a new report identified the tech and construction sectors as key to Manchester’s - our home city - next wave of growth.

 

Published by property consultants Knight Frank, the report flagged that, generally speaking, the more commonly used definitions of tech are not broad enough and don’t take into consideration verticals including energy and environmental services, advanced manufacturing and media, advanced materials, life sciences, and marketing and entertainment. According to the study, this oversight puts the future depth and vitality of the city’s tech sector at risk.

 

For instance, in the five years preceding 2017, IT and telecoms businesses accounted for 144 occupier agreements taking 700,000 sq ft of space in Manchester. However, when broadened to include these five specialist verticals, that number soars to 406 occupancy agreements amounting to 1.4m sq ft of office space.

 

A booming sector needs space to grow

 

As such, while Manchester’s technology sector is already booming (the latest 2018 Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 featured eight Greater Manchester companies) it’s critical that the city’s real estate continues to support the needs of tech businesses. As the sector continues to grow businesses will increasingly demand office space that can flexibily cater for, and support, their needs as they evolve. Occupiers want the opportunity to scale-up and down when necessary and will be prepared to pay a premium for this privilege.

 

Indeed, the 28-page report, Catching the Next Wave: Manchester, Technology and Real Estate, emphasised that office space in the city must be both adaptable and supportive in order for tech to thrive. This way, the city can nurture the development of small, fast-growing companies that are key to attracting the attention of tech titans searching for secondary HQ locations outside the capital.

 

Success attracts success

 

Already, Manchester’s thriving technology sector has begun to attract global behemoths such as Amazon, which recently confirmed that it will take over 90,000 sq ft of space in Hanover House in the Northern Quarter. The new Northern hub will be the tech giant’s first corporate office outside of London in the UK and home to 600 staff specialising in software development, machine learning and research and development.

 

In addition to Amazon, advertising giant WPP, also announced that it is close to finalising a deal to move its entire Manchester workforce to the former Granada Studios development. The move would see 450 communications experts from Code Computerlove, MediaCom, JWT, Wavemaker and possibly Kantar consolidating offices under one roof. While not a ‘traditional tech’ company this is a prime example of a business that falls into the broader definitions of technology outlined in the Knight Frank report.

 

These two recent announcements follow on from technology services giant CGI announcing that it is set to take over 7,000 sq ft of Salford’s former Soapworks as its Northern headquarters. The £400K transformation of the former Colgate Palmolive factory is already home to a cluster of tech corporates including TalkTalk and the government’s national cybercrime operation.

 

Manchester – the second city

 

It is perhaps not surprising that so many tech giants are turning to Manchester as a second home for their UK operations. The most recent Tech Nation report revealed that almost 70% of tech investment in 2016 took place outside of London, with £78 million of this invested in Manchester, making it the UK’s second largest tech cluster with nearly 70,000 employees.

 

Tech companies are without doubt the industrial giants of our age, and Manchester’s real estate market is fast becoming a hotbed to house them. Whilst the current growth is very promising, it is vital that the city continues to build on this momentum by providing diverse, collaborative and adaptable work spaces too keep up with demand.

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign essential, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Tech PR Manchester agency, Tech PR. Digital PR

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Factoring Brexit into PR plans



There’s no escaping the fact that the ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ mantra is cliched. But it’s cliched for a reason: it’s scarily accurate – especially when it comes to business.

 

Whether it’s the development and launch of a new product or service, an acquisition, a recruitment drive, a new round of investment or anything and everything in between the key to success is planning and preparation. After all, if these initiatives aren’t executed precisely they are less likely to deliver organisational goals and potentially leave the business exposed to risk.

 

Anticipating the unexpected

 

Obviously, organisations can’t plan for everything; the nature of business is that it has a habit of occasionally throwing up unexpected ‘surprises’. But even the majority of these are foreseeable (they are usually factored into business plans) and those that aren’t are often catered for with crisis response plans.   

 

This level of preparation is not out of the ordinary; indeed in my experience I’d go as far as saying it is commonplace in business – certainly when it comes to successful ones. Perhaps it’s for this reason that I’m finding it difficult to understand why businesses are being so complacent when it comes to Brexit and factoring it into their PR and comms strategies.  

 

Putting politics to one side

 

In conversations with business the reason for this appears to be that either they don’t want to appear to be panicking, they have no idea of the outcome (none of us do!) so don’t see the point in putting time into creating plans which may be shelved in a few months, or that they don’t want to be seen as coming out in favour of or against the act of leaving the EU. But factoring this into their comms strategies is not a question of scaremongering, talking politics or debating the merits, or drawbacks, of Brexit. Nor is it a case of trying to predict what the final ‘deal’ will look like; it’s simply about having the same pragmatism that already exists across the business; i.e. assessing and planning for all possible outcomes. And you never know, time spent away from the business planning could even throw up some genuine new ideas, Brexit or not!

 

Any form of Brexit that seismically changes how organisations conduct business will undoubtedly require them to make moves to respond to any challenges that arise. For instance, your distribution network might be affected delaying deliveries or an impact to your supply chain may slow production, or you may need a new operational model to continue serving markets outside the UK.

These are all challenges that might not only need to be addressed but will also need the action plan for how they will be tackled communicating to key stakeholders – including customers, investors, employees (etc)  in order to minimalise any impact. And, putting it bluntly, it seems a highly risky approach for any business that is not taking steps to factor these feasible possibilities into their comms strategies.

 

Factoring Brexit into PR and communication plans

 

This should be approached in a similar way to a crisis communication plan (not that I am saying Brexit will be a crisis – remember we’re putting politics to one side here). This means paying consideration to what messages and information you will both want, and need, to communicate– as well as how this will be communicated. How will you reassure all stakeholders that, in the event of the media frenzy that will arise from a ‘no-deal’ scenario, you are responding and taking steps to safeguard the business? The answer, of course, is a well-planned, well executed PR and communications plan.

 

It might be that Brexit is a huge success but I don’t believe that having a contingency plan is a bad decision. It’s simply the politically neutral act of preparing for all outcomes and makes commercial sense. And, in the event of the worst happening, any failure to have prepared for this in your communication plans could only add greater uncertainty, and possible confusion, to what will already be a fraught situation. And as we all know those conditions are rarely conducive to business success.

 

For more information please contact info @ Refreshpr.co.uk or call us on 0161 871 1188.

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Brexit PR plan, Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR event, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Persimmon – A Reminder that Media Training is More than a Nice to Have



When talking to businesses they can sometimes be reluctant to invest in regular media training, after all “it’s just a conversation with a microphone isn’t it?” However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, handling the pressure of journalistic scrutiny, the camera and the microphone while also managing to make it look like ‘just a conversation’ requires a combination of skill and training.

 

Still unconvinced? Then just ask Jeff Fairburn, CEO of Persimmon Homes, who has not only come in for criticism but also become a minor internet celeb, after a media interview went wrong with BBC Look North.

 

If you haven’t already seen it you can see the clip here but as a quick summary Fairburn walked off camera mid-interview after being asked about the £75m bonus he had received from the PLC last year. The interview had been going well as Fairburn discussed Persimmon’s performance but turned sour when the journalist, Spencer Stokes, asked Fairburn about the payment.

 

Caught off-guard Fairburn, stuttered before a PR professional could be heard instructing Fairburn not to answer. As Stokes pressed on with the line of questioning Fairburn stood in silence before walking off to be heard describing the situation as ‘unfortunate’ off-camera.     

 

Neglecting media training 101

In a mere 45 seconds Fairburn provided a crash course in basic media relations errors. He was caught off-guard suggesting a lack of preparation (especially considering the furore over the bonus only 12 months ago which made the question entirely predictable); failed to respond to the change in tact; didn’t regain control of the conversation and let emotion take-over.

 

For good measure Fairburn also criticised the journalist – a definite no-no - for asking a fairly reasonable question of a CEO of a PLC. The end result was presenting a negative image of both himself and the company. This catalogue of errors would all have been coached against in any media training session. 

 

Mistakes happen to the best of us

Of course, when viewing the clip, you may still feel that you simply wouldn’t make those mistakes – and maybe you wouldn’t. But let’s not forget that this is the CEO of a publicly listed company who will be well versed in handling the media – it’s not like he will be inexperienced in handling pressure situations. Yet he still managed to fall foul of a media relations disaster.

 

If that doesn’t convince you that media training and regular Refresh-er sessions are a worthy investment nothing will. And let that be at your own peril. 

 

 

Tagged with: crisis management, Manchester, media interviews, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign essential, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Five Construction Marketing Awards shortlists for 2018 for Refresh PR



It’s safe to say that Refresh knows built environment PR. A team of sector specialists executes considered and strategic campaigns for clients on a daily basis. The UK's Construction Marketing Awards (CMAs) are therefore a key calendar date. As a chance to go head-to-head with other agencies, each shortlist gives the hard-working team at Refresh an opportunity to celebrate a job well done that year.

 

An email from the organisers today informed the delighted team that Refresh had been shortlisted for five national Construction Marketing Awards:  

·        PR Agency of the Year 2018

·        Best use of Press & Public Relations – for the Window with a View for the Glass and Glazing Federation

·        Best use of Press & Public Relations – for the Heating Installer Awards 2018

·        Best Mid-Range Budget (£25k-£50k) - for the Window with a View for the Glass and Glazing Federation

·        Best Mid-Range Budget (£25k-£50k) - for the Heating Installer Awards 2018

 

The Window with a View campaign, which Refresh PR created and implemented on behalf of the Glass and Glazing Federation’s consumer website, MyGlazing.com, searches for the best views across the UK. In 2018 Refresh generated first-class entries, millions of page views from coverage off and online, and moreover a host of results aligned with the client’s key business objectives.

 

Refresh was also able to prove the tangible benefits of being part of The Heating Installer Awards, which in 2018 are sponsored by Danfoss, Geberit, Glow-worm, Polypipe and leading industry magazine, Installer. Each year the awards scheme gets bigger and better, with 2018’s winner having just returned from a trip to Denmark with Danfoss.

 

With almost seven decades of construction PR experience, the team at Refresh is now providing PR campaigns for over a dozen clients within the built environment and building products sector, while heading for an agency-wide record growth year.

 

View the full shortlist here: http://www.cmawards.co.uk/shortlist-announced-for-the-construction-marketing-awards-2018/

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment, Construction, Manchester, North West , PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign essential, PR Manchester

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Refresh PR Graduate Programme 2018




We’re looking for talented Graduates to join our 1-year Graduate Development Programme starting in October 2018. We’re looking for confident and articulate people with a passion for PR who will relish the chance to join the team as graduate PR executive working across a range of B2B and consumer accounts in the built environment, e-commerce, tech and food and drink sectors.

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. We’re looking for people filled with energy and enthusiasm who are proactive, persistent and methodical in their approach with a real eye for detail and may even pride themselves on being a perfectionist! Considerate and supportive; we want real team players with the ability to remain calm and considered when faced with new or pressurised situations.

Our fast-growing client base ranges from cutting-edge business start-ups to national companies across both private and not for profit sectors. As a fast-growing business, we can offer you the unique opportunity to contribute to the direction of the organisation. What’s more, we’re dedicated to helping our graduates grow and achieve their potential through The Refresh Graduate Academy – a programme of structured training and development, created and delivered by experienced PR practitioners and expert trainers. This unrivalled programme of discovery and development provides you with all the key skills that will help you to become a highly effective account executive and future business leader whilst progressing your career with Refresh.

The Refresh DNA

The Refresh DNA is something that people from across our business were involved in developing. Every aspect of it represents how we all need to work together, every day, in order to support our future success and continued growth. The DNA clarifies the skills, knowledge and behaviours that we look for in everyone as they’re critical for delivering the high-quality service that our clients have come to expect:

Focusing on clients – providing outstanding service, developing opportunities to retain and win business

Developing winning teams – supporting our people to achieve their potential and deliver results for the business

Building strong relationships – communicating and influencing to build understanding and collaboration

Seeing the bigger picture – shaping and driving the future of our business

Creating and Improving – continuously improving the way we work to be better every day

Delivering results – thinking commercially and optimising business performance, demonstrating energy, drive and tenacity.

 

More about the programme

The Refresh PR Graduate Programme is a 1-year journey of personal and professional development with support from your own mentor and full cycle of experience and development to cover every aspect of PR.

You will undertake a programme of learning outside of your day job which is on a par with our internal executive development programme for current rising executive talent.

 

What is the selection process?

We will undertake a comprehensive selection process with 3 stages:

CV selection – your CV will be scored against criteria including your qualifications and work experience.

Telephone Interviews – if successful in the 1st stage, you will be invited for a telephone interview that is based on the Refresh DNA.

Assessment Centre – if successful in the 2nd stage, you will be invited to an assessment centre which will include a variety of individual and group activities and interviews.

 

What next?

All you need to do now is decide whether after 3 to 4 years of hard work and sacrifice undertaking your degree you want to dedicate the next year to learn the nuts and bolts of a PR agency and gain an invaluable development experience that will create a solid bedrock for your lifetime career – You do? To apply please send your CV to grads@refreshpr.co.uk by 9am on 4th October 2018.

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Graduate, graduate scheme, Manchester, PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Tech Companies Thriving in Manchester



Last week the 2018 Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 ranking, which lists the UK's fastest-growing tech companies, was published, with businesses from Greater Manchester accounting for nearly a tenth of the list.

 

In total, eight Manchester based companies made the ranking which recognises those UK private technology businesses with the fastest growing sales over the last three years. Those that were included were reflective of the city's diverse, and growing, tech scene with software developers, wi-fi providers and online publishers all being included.

 

The ranking is just the latest sign that Manchester is a place where tech businesses can thrive, providing a viable alternative home to London for the UK tech sector. It follows on from a report last September that found that the city's strong tech scene would drive economic growth prospects comparable to the capital in defiance of a gloomy outlook predicted for the rest of the country.

 

As things stand the city already supports 62,653 digital jobs creating an output of £2.8 billion per annum. This is only going to increase thanks to the city's broad tech infrastructure, leading higher education institutions that drive exceptionally high levels of graduate retention and its strong investor and funding community.

 

Avoiding boom turning to bust

 

While this strong performance and positive outlook for the city's tech scene is encouraging it's critical that it does not become blind to potential threats to its future success. One such risk is a pending shortage of skilled tech professionals, as a recent report found that 91% of UK businesses expect to experience a moderate to severe shortage within the next 12 months.  

 

Conducted by recruitment firm Robert Walters, the report found that the speed of acceleration in technology capability and adoption was likely to cause the skills shortage to get worse as the range of technology skills have also grown in demand. As such 36% of respondents expected to struggle when trying to recruit sufficient junior tech specialists.

 

Clearly this threat is a problem that needs to be solved at a national level with investment in developing the tech skills that businesses are going to be in desperate need of in the coming years. Positive steps have already been taken, with coding now being taught as part of the core curriculum from primary school onwards. However, the full impact of those changes still won't be felt for a number of years - and putting it bluntly businesses - particularly those in the tech sector - can't afford to wait.

 

Promote, engage, attract

 

In the short term, therefore, it is essential that the sector works to promote tech careers to those who are coming toward the end of their compulsory education, encouraging them to consider further education courses that will develop the tech skills that will help alleviate the shortage.

 

Key to this will be engaging with key demographics, to extol the benefits of working in the sector demonstrating how exciting and dynamic the industry can be to work in. This should include highlighting the enhanced career prospects that those with the relevant skills will have as businesses become increasingly digital and tech centric.

 

To achieve this tech businesses should consider a variety of options covering everything from entering into partnerships with schools, colleges and universities through to running competitions such as hackathons and offering scholarships. And of course, a PR and marketing push isn't going to hurt either...….

 

For all the hard work that has gone into making Manchester's tech scene the huge success story it has become nothing should be left off the table to ensure that all that good work isn’t undone. 

 

Tagged with: , B2B PR agency Manchester , Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign essential, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Tech PR. Digital PR

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What does Gen Z mean for the future of HR?



You may think this is a funny topic to be included in a PR blog, but it is actually the topic we explored in our latest roundtable, this time held for our client, Lakeside Hotel & Spa, earlier today. 

Lakeside Hote and Spa

 

To showcase the superior four star hotel as the ideal meeting venue in the North West, we wanted to invite key business professionals from across the region to experience it for themselves, and what better way to do this than with a roundtable?

 

The roundtable, attended by the likes of Nando’s, AO.com, Speedy, RBS and of course, a representative from Lakeside and Refresh PR, explored the topic of Gen Z, and more specifically their entry into the workforce. Chaired by Olive Strachan MBE, the group of leading HR professionals debated this generation’s strengths, challenges, attitude and future in the comfort of Lakeside's Oak Room.

 

Exploring the differences, and similarities, of the generations that have come before them the roundtable questioned how the role of HR can maximise young people coming into the workforce, who are true digital natives.

 

It was agreed that this generation sees social media and technology as a way of life, something that has always been there, meaning they are already on the forefront of future technological advances. The big question then was how, as HR professionals, should this be managed and utilised within organisations, for the benefit of them and their workforce?  

 

The attitude of a Gen Z workforce was also touched upon, with the acceptance that “it wasn’t like that in my day” being said by every generation before us, and more than likely every generation after us. Yes, they are different, but this shouldn’t be feared - it should be celebrated.   Lakeside Hotel meeting venue

 

Gen Z’ers have grown up in a world of instant gratification and the pressure to be perfect on social media; this is mirrored in their attitudes towards work, meaning they are hardworking, hungry to learn, but need the right recognition and encouragement.

 

Overall, it was agreed that a future with Gen Z in the workforce is exciting. They will be able to teach baby boomers, millennials and Gen X, just as much as the older generations will teach them. Mentoring will no longer be one way and communication between the generations is key to allow this continuous learning and development.

 

The debate continued long after the roundtable finished as everyone enjoyed lunch in the hotel’s conservatory overlooking Lake Windermere, proving that there is a lot to be said on this topic, but overall the future’s brightLake District meeting venue.

 

Meanwhile, the hard work of securing comments, features and Q&As on behalf of the delegates starts now for the Gen Yers (and some Gen Xs, yes) at Refresh PR - watch this space!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , future of work, Gen Z, Leisure, Lifestyle, Marketing, Networking Event, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign essential, PR debate, PR event, PR Manchester, PR roundtable, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Are you an Account Manager looking for a new challenge? Get in touch!



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. 

 

We’re looking for a confident and articulate person with a passion for PR who will relish the chance to join the team as an account manager working across a range of B2B and consumer accounts in the home, tech, built environment, e-commerce, lifestyle and food and drink sectors. Our fast-growing client base ranges from cutting-edge business start-ups to national companies across both private and not for profit sectors.

 

You’ll have already gained valuable PR agency experience with at least a year spent working at junior account manager/account manager level so you’ll hit the ground running and will have already proved you’re great at developing and managing PR campaigns aligned to clients’ objectives.  You’re great at building relationships; a trusted partner to your clients and experienced in 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 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 even pride yourself on being a perfectionist! You are considerate and supportive; a real team player with the ability to remain calm and considered when faced with new or pressurised situations.

 

As a fast-growing business, we can offer you the unique opportunity to contribute to the direction of the organisation.  What’s more, we’re dedicated to helping our people grow and achieve their potential through The Refresh Management Academy – a six-month programme of structured training and development, created and delivered by experienced PR practitioners and expert trainers.  This unrivalled programme provides you with all the key skills that will help you to become a highly effective account manager and progress your career with Refresh.

 

Interested in applying or finding out more about the role? Send your CV to iwantajob @ refreshpr.co.uk

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , creatiive agency Manchester, Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR agency jobs Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, pr jobs manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Bee in the City



With just under a month left of Manchester’s Bee in the City, between the team at Refresh PR we’ve been making it our mission to visit them all! Whether it’s in the Northern Quarter, Spinningfields, Media City UK, Heaton Park or any of the other hundreds of locations in Manchester, we’ve been enjoying admiring the Bees, learning about the artists and watching them bring the people of Manchester together.

 

So what is all the buzz about? I have had friends ask me ‘what is the point in the Bees?’ and I must admit at first, I thought they were a nice idea but that was it; they were ‘just a nice idea’. However after walking past them every day for the last couple of weeks, I realise just how wrong I was to underestimate the public art event. It’s impossible to walk through the city not see families enjoying a day out following a trail, locals taking pictures for Instagram or tourists visiting and being totally impressed by what they find! The giant colony of Bees has truly brought a new buzz to the city.

 

The campaign also has a charitable side as people are being encouraged to donate to We Love MCR Charity to help Manchester continue to have a positive impact on its communities. And if all that wasn’t enough, I recently learnt that all of the Bees are also going up for auction on 17th October 2018 to continue to raise money.

 

You’ve got until 23rd September to check them out! Let us know what you think and which your favourites are. Here are Refresh PR's top three Bees (you can see an even bigger selection over on our Instagram @refreshpr):

 

Bee in the City

 

I absolutely love this bright, colourful bee in St Ann’s Square (and at Refresh PR we’re also proud to say that it was created by our agency’s lovely friend @mehaart).

 Bee in the City

Here is our local pretty pick Piccadilly bee!

 

Bee in the City

 

This bee is my personal favourite… you can’t beat a classic! Visit this bee outside Australasia on Deansgate.

 

 

Tagged with: creatiive agency Manchester, Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign essential, PR event, PR Manchester, Public Relations North West

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Reasons to love Manchester…



Just when we thought we couldn’t love Manchester more, today it’s been ranked as the UK’s most liveable city. There are so many reasons we love Manchester, so I thought today’s news was a good time to reflect on some of them. Here is what some of the Refresh PR team said when I asked them why they love our city:

Our managing director, Laura, loves the fact that there’s always something going on – whether that’s the brilliant display of bee sculptures all around the city at the moment, the football matches which draw in tens of thousands each weekend, or the annual events such as Manchester Pride and the City Games. She said: “I’ve met friends for life here – such an eclectic mix of people, nationalities and personalities that there’s something for everyone. There’s always something new – whether that’s a new development, bar, or up and coming area – which keeps it fresh, interesting and a great place for people to visit too.”

Our account executive, Bex, loves working in Manchester as there is always something to do or see, which brings her back here from her hometown at the weekends. She said: “The city is a hive of activity, quite literally now more than ever as it is covered in amazing, diverse bees. I also love to try new bars and restaurants throughout the city - discovering a new brunch spot is always top of my agenda. Brunch is something that Manchester takes very seriously!”

Sarah, our operations director cited the people – their humour, resilience, sense of community, and no-nonsense attitude – as her favourite things about the city. When I asked her what else keeps her here, she told me: “Sport – which other world city boats two world class football teams? Obviously, I have blue-tinted glasses! It doesn’t stop at football though, it’s a brilliant city for hosting events. I’ll never forgot the Commonwealth Games 2002 and bumping into famous sporting stars in town. I watched a live athletics competition with upcoming young talent a couple of weeks ago at the stadium that was a legacy from those games (an amazing facility for local athletes). Away from the sport, the live music scene is brilliant – name a decade since the 60s when we haven’t produced an amazing band!”

Our account manager, Ash, says the best thing about Manchester is the rate at which it’s developing. Not surprising eh, as she takes the lead on many of Refresh’s built environment and property clients: “Looking out of the office window, right now I can see no less than six cranes which truly emphasises how much construction is going on in our city right now. From the Ordsall Chord to ‘Skyscraper Alley’, Manchester, in parts, is unrecognisable if we look back to even just five years ago. What makes Manchester so special though is that despite all of this, we still haven’t lost the feeling of Manchester being ‘home’. Mancs (both native and adopted!) will know what I mean.”

It's another nod to the music and arts from our head of consumer, Caroline, who told me: “nowhere in the world produces music like Manchester – from the Courteeners, to Blossoms, to the Gallagher brothers. Art is also part and parcel of Manchester, with its ability to capture social attitudes – from LS Lowry, right through to modern day art, such as Mancsy who gives away his original prints, and now the bees scattered all around the city.”

More music lovin’ from our senior account exec, Jake, who told me: “I love living in Manchester because it’s got everything you need and we’re spoilt for choice for things to do.

There are loads of brilliant restaurants and bars in Manchester, which is great for me as I love going out socialising. There are so many different options for food and some great bars and clubs, my favourite being Venue, where you’ll find me singing along to indie bangers most Saturday nights! Obviously, Manchester is famous for its music and two of my favourite bands, the Stone Roses and the Courteeners are from here. As a regular gig-goer, I’ve seen some great bands – both well-known and up and coming, in the many fantastic venues across the city.”

And for me personally, aside from all of the above, I believe that the technology sector here is second to none. Heading up Refresh’s tech PR team, I would say that, but in all seriousness, you can’t beat the buzz of the tech community here and all the great digital work that is being delivered daily by businesses large and small. I’ve worked on some amazing comms campaigns and projects over the past few years with some brilliantly talented and creative tech Manchester businesses, and know the city will continue to grow phenomenally in this field.

So there you have it; don’t tell me it doesn’t have something for everybody! Tell us why you love Manchester over on Twitter, and don’t forget to include @RefreshPR

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, Public Relations

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Podcasts you’ve got to listen to…




I'll start this blog with a disclaimer… I love podcasts. The first ever one was released in 2003; fast forward 15 years and there are now over 500,000 of them on Apple Podcasts. What a growth story. Simply by making having a voice accessible to the masses, podcasts are a wonderful thing.

My love of podcasts started on my eight-month trip around Asia last year when I had A LOT of spare time on very slow transport methods to fill. Got to spend 26 hours on a bus from Laos to Vietnam? Download a podcast. Someone snoring in the bunk above you in a hostel? Podcast. Spending two days on a slow boat travelling from Thailand to Laos? Podcast.  

Are you looking for inspiration for your next listen? We’re here to help; here’s what the Refresh PR team said when I asked them which podcasts they love and why…

S Town

From the creators of This American Life (another great podcast), this was probably one of last year’s most talked about podcasts. The eight parter which started as a murder mystery story in a small central American town ended up being something a wholeeeeeeeeee lot different! A lot of twists and turns along the way but with great storytelling throughout, you don’t want to miss this one. Prepare to smile, laugh, be sad, or just downright confused - I was crying on a beach by the end of it. 

Here it is: https://stownpodcast.org/

Reply All

This podcast, centred around all the weird, wonderful and sometimes scary things the internet affords us is a great listen if you don’t have time to dedicate to a longer podcast. A good one for your daily commute, you’ll find everything on here - from how podcast creator, Alex Goldman, played a telephone scammer at his own game (one of my personal favourite episodes), to a woman that can’t remember where she stored her Bitcoin, to an investigation into fake online reviews and why Amazon is sending us crappy goods.  

Check out a full episode list here: https://www.gimletmedia.com/reply-all/all

Eat Sleep Work Repeat

If you’re struggling to find a work life balance or simply happiness or worth in your day to day job, this one is for you. Even those with a seemingly ‘perfect’ job can still have those “what am I doing here?!” moments, right? Listen to this one if you want to learn how to cultivate creativity, an engaged workforce, learn how to switch your emails off in an evening and be fine with that, or even just want some simple mindset shifts that can allow you to enjoy your job that little bit more.

Check it out here: https://eatsleepworkrepeat.fm/

The Totally Football Show

There’s gotta be a sport related one in there somewhere, right? Our senior account exec, Jake, reckons so. Here’s what he said: My favourite podcast is ‘The Totally Football Show’ which, surprisingly, is a football podcast that goes out twice a week during the Premier League season. Thursday’s episode builds up to the weekend’s fixtures, discussing team news and predictions for each game before Monday’s episode takes a look back at the big talking points from the weekend’s matches. The podcast isn’t too serious and is hosted by James Richardson who I find very charismatic and funny. Although it’s light hearted, a panel of sports journalists provide real insight into the world of football on each episode.

I enjoy it because I’m obsessed with football and it gives me stats and facts to talk about with my mates when I’m at the pub. I listen to the podcast on my walk to and from work - Thursday’s gets me in the mood for the weekend’s football and then on Monday I enjoy hearing what the panel have to say about each match and finding out things I might have missed when watching. 

They also did a Totally Football Show World Cup special that went out every single day of the World Cup which was great…I miss the World Cup.

Are you a football freak too? If so, here it is: https://www.thetotallyfootballshow.com/

How’s that for starters? We’ve still got loads more on the list so check back soon for more. I’ve got a feeling that this is going to be a two parter…. 


Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , podcasts, PR, tech, Tech PR

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Welcome to The Lakeside Hotel and Spa



Well-known for hosting business events and conferences, we began working with The Lakeside Hotel and Spa three months ago to promote the hotel to the masses.The Lakeside Hotel and Spa

 

Ashamedly it has taken me three months to get a weekend free to nip up with my family to experience - as a customer rather than in a business context - this gem at the very base of Lake Windermere. Just a 10 minute drive from the M6 Kendal turn off, the hotel is on the shores of the Lake, meaning it’s in a very useful location for anyone coming from the south in particular.

 

Starting by shThe Lakeside Hotel and Spaowing my other half the conference centre (if you or your partner is in PR you’ll understand this), we had a quick tour of the two first-class dining rooms, traditional pub, coffee area, conservatory and spa, and headed out for a walk.

 

The steam train had just pulled into the station next to the hotel. It looked like lots of families were heading on and off the train - so for this reason I'd recommend it as something to do while at Lakeside, although we didn't try it ourselves.

 

Handily, the Lake cruises stop at three points - Ambleside, Bowness and Lakeside - meaning we spent part of our day on a cruise of the Lake, eventually hopping off at Lakeside and enjoying afternoon tea on the hotel’s outdoor terrace.

 

 The Lakeside Hotel and Spa

Inside a wedding service had just taken place in one of the many downstairs rooms in the sprawling hotel, and just a stone’s throw away outside on the Lake a boat was getting ready to take a group out on a private charter. It really enforced what we’re here to do from a PR point of view: make sure the business community and holiday makers/day trippers alike know that whatever you want from your stay at Lakeside, it is probably possible!The Lakeside Hotel and Spa terrace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To find out more visit http://www.lakesidehotel.co.uk/ and for conferences and meeting venues ask for Amy.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: Food & Drink, Home Interest, Leisure, Lifestyle, Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign essential, Public Relations North West, Silver Surfers

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Multiple award success at Refresh PR



The team at Refresh PR is celebrating this week as our hard work has been recognised by leading industry body, The CIPR, in its North West PRide awards.

 

Last year Refresh PR was recognised as the North West’s Outstanding Small Consultancy, something that the team was immensely proud of. This year we've again been shortlisted and are up against some very tough competition to retain our crown. This award really recognises the hard work of the team, the results we achieve for our clients, and our commitment to delivering the highest standard of work. CIPR Awards 2018

 

Our client work has also been recognised in the award nominations for two campaigns up for a trophy. Our work for the Heating Installer Awards, which is now in its third year, has been recognised in the integrated PR category. The campaign, which utilised social media, traditional media, events, email marketing and video, as well as direct and influencer outreach, successfully generated a 33 per cent increase in entries from year two and achieved 401k Twitter impressions.

 

Our work on TableNow.co.uk’s launch campaign and specifically its search for a Professional Eater has also been recognised. The campaign, which called out to foodies across the North West to apply for the role and become TableNow’s official restaurant tester, generated significant traffic to the website, engagement with the brand and coverage across the North West.

 

The winners are announced in November, so it will be fingers crossed until then.

 

The consumer team at Refresh PR has also been shortlisted for an MPA Innovation Award for its work for client Esteem - No Pause, which manufactures clothing for women experiencing the menopause. The campaign, which encourages women to talk about their experiences, incorporated video, media activity, face-to-face engagement and social media work (to name but a few). Another truly integrated campaign!

 

For all of our clients at Refresh PR we strive to deliver effective, measurable campaigns that don’t just use vanity metrics but actually make a difference to the brand. If you want to speak to us about creating award winning campaigns then email info@ RefreshPR.co.uk or call 0161 871 1188.

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Consumer PR Manchester, creatiive agency Manchester

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A day in the life of Refresh PR



This week, one of our lovely clients spent two days with us learning all about PR. Here’s what she had to say about her experience…

A day (or two) in the life of Refresh PR

This week I was lucky enough to gain some experience working with the Refresh PR team. With a predominantly in-house marketing background, I was interested to see how agency work differs; in terms of structuring accounts, their priorities and to see where the marketing and PR disciplines cross over!

About the team

Nestled in the heart of Manchester, the Refresh office is a hive of activity all on its own. Structured into two main teams, Refresh works with companies spanning both B2B and B2C markets. As well as being a really friendly and welcoming team, they really know their stuff and are definitely a well-oiled machine when it comes to all things PR.

Why did I want to gain experience in PR?

I wanted to get a greater understanding about what PR is and what it involves day-to-day. I’m ashamed to say that, for me, the the difference between marketing and PR hasn’t always been clear. After spending some time with the team, I now understand that PR acts as the fundamental mouthpiece of a brand. Working in PR is ultimately a customer facing role, and it can be an extremely rewarding vocation when you are creating content that the target audience enjoys to engage with.

As well as defining PR, I wanted more insight into how an agency works. As a third year university student currently on a 12-month placement, I have only experienced working within a small marketing department, where we each work on our own projects whilst working towards overall goals for the business; such as increasing product sales or growing consumer engagement online, to name just a few.

From just a couple of days in the world of Refresh, I’ve witnessed a whole host of activity behind the scenes: juggling accounts, meeting deadlines, being at the forefront of the news as it lands, all whilst maintaining a relationship with the audience and delivering results for many different clients.

What are some of the things I got to do whilst being here?

Over the two days I got to try my hand at a few key activities with the team:

-          “Creative Club” – a monthly session at Refresh PR which brings the team together to share learnings and encourage creativity. This month’s discussion was on how to consistently create sharp, engaging posts for online audiences.

Social media is a great platform for free and easy communication. However, that’s not all it’s good for. One of the key takeaways from this discussion, for me, is that social media is ultimately about creating an online personality – all whilst sat behind a screen! In the words of Caroline Gibson, Head of Consumer, “people want to talk to people”.

-          Drafting social media content – with our discussion in mind, I had a go at drafting some Twitter content for Refresh’s Apprentice of the Month campaign

This task is harder than it seems. Producing engaging, informative content is a fine art - something that Refresh is a dab hand at - you can tell by just listening to their office banter!

Overall?

Overall I’ve really enjoyed my short stay at Refresh PR, it’s definitely been a worthwhile experience. The team couldn’t have been more welcoming, and thanks to them I can now confidently say that I understand key differences between marketing and PR! Not only that, but I also understand how integral it is to have the two disciplines working together in order to create a truly successful brand image. Agency work is a fast-paced lifestyle that is both exciting and rewarding, and Refresh’s contagious energy is something I look forward to keeping with me – with whatever it is that I decide to do next.

Author: Steph Dewhurst, marketing assistant at Sentinel

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment, Creative Agency, Manchester, Marketing, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Social Media, Twitter, Work Experience

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More recent media gaffes that demonstrate the importance of media training…



Anyone remember the cringey video clip of Sainsbury’s chief executive, Mike Coupe, singing “We’re in the money”, thinking he was off camera ahead of a media interview with ITV around the supermarket giant’s merger with Asda? How could we forget? Last month’s fiasco was just the latest in a string of media gaffes to hit the press.

The internet never sleeps, and with social media use increasing daily, there’s no place to hide for public figures and big businesses. Knowing how to deal with the media is becoming more and more important, which is why we recommend that all of our clients that have regular dealings with the public or media, or work in high risk industries and sectors, invest in media training.

Media training can be uncomfortable and nerve-wracking, it may be the last thing you fancy doing with your day, but it’s always useful. For those considering media training but don’t know what to expect, here are some things to prepare for:  

·     Good media training courses tend to span a full day, so ensure you allocate this time in your calendar in order to make the most of it. Media training should be treated like any other business engagement and be prioritised like one too. Teams should be bought into it and fully understand the value it delivers. And don’t let people chicken out at the last minute – it’s important!


·    Media training classes can be public or private, but we recommend taking a private session so you can fully be yourself and use the day as a team building exercise, too. The number of people permitted to attend sessions is flexible but we find media training works best in groups of two to eight, so everybody within the group receives enough individual attention.


·    Expect a mix of theoretical and practical elements throughout the day. Media training sessions are designed to bring you up to speed on the good, the bad, and the ugly of the media, so expect everything to be covered. Training days usually begin with the theoretical application of media training, giving participants examples of real life blunders and asking what they think was wrong in each scenario, before the practical element begins. The theory side of things will also look at different media channels and why it’s important to have a different communication strategy for each of them.


·    Be prepared to be put through your paces during the practical session. Depending on who you book your media training with, you might actually be in a real-life setting, such as a TV or radio studio. If there isn’t access to this type of equipment, the scene will be staged to feel as real as possible. Expect to have cameras flashing in front of you, microphones being pushed in your face, and questions fired at you, based on made up (but oh so real feeling) crisis situations. This can be daunting but they always say you learn best from being thrown in at the deep end!


If you’re interested in hearing how media training could be beneficial in preparing your business for a difficult situation, or even to just make your team more comfortable speaking to the media on a day-by-day basis, speak to our managing director, Laura Mashiter on laura@refreshpr.co.uk or call 0161 871 1188.  

Tagged with: , Creative Agency, Manchester, Media training

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Have we lost our trust in social media platforms?



After reading an article on The Drum suggesting Snapchat is of no relevance to companies, it got me thinking, how much can brands now rely on social media to help support them in their business activity?

With the shock decision from pub chain JD Wetherspoon to remove itself from all social media channels and the data scandal with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, have businesses and consumers alike lost trust in social media platforms?


Faye Stammers argued in her article for The Drum that Snapchat is now irrelevant and even went as far as to brand it as the ‘Marmite’ of her generation. I can’t help but slightly agree with her. Over the years Snapchat users have experienced a series of changes to the app, and the most recent change, altering the way users can view their friends stories, definitely didn’t go down well with the app’s users. I know for one that the amount of people viewing my Snapchat story has definitely decreased. With the ability to post Instagram stories, is the Snapchat generation beginning to die out? Should brands stop using Snapchat as a way to promote their messaging? Media brands that produce content for Snapchat Discover rely on ads to fund their efforts. If Snapchat users are deleting their accounts or only using the account to chat with friends, rather than viewing Discover content, the app's content business will collapse, and if people stop looking at Discover, ads become less valuable. 


However, the update hasn’t been a complete shambles as for some, it has been a success. According to Faye, The Sun have recently claimed that since the update their news stories had reached a record-breaking 6.7 million unique users.

Another social media platform that hasn’t gained great publicity over recent weeks is Facebook. The recent scandal that came to light over recent weeks may have been the final nudge users needed to turn away from the social media platform, and I’m sure many did turn their backs on Facebook. From personal experience, the amount of time spent on Facebook has significantly decreased over the years. In fact, my first status of the year was about a recent client win for Refresh; I never post Facebook statuses anymore. But could I delete my account?  Definitely not. Facebook has been a part of my lifestyle for many years, and I’m quite frankly too nosey to get rid of it.


Overall, it can’t be disputed that young and old alike are glued to their mobile phones scrolling through some form of social media. Although businesses such as JD Wetherspoon have shut down their social media accounts and Snapchat and Facebook may be becoming less popular, it all boils down to how effectively a company uses its social media platforms.


If you think you need some guidance on how to make the most of your company’s social media platforms, give us a call on – 0161 871 1188. 

Tagged with: PR Agency Manchester, Social Media, Twitter

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Wetherspoons, here’s where you went wrong…




I've seen lots of conversation surrounding Wetherspoon’s recent decision to shut down their social media channels. The popular pub has quit Twitter, Instagram and Facebook with immediate effect, and I can understand why. 

Why do people choose to frequent a Wetherspoons? Is it due to their extensive gin selection? Gourmet dining? Air of luxury? No, it’s convenience, cheap beer and even cheaper food, and there is no amount of tweeting that will change this. Wetherspoons serves an economic purpose, providing a basic night out for those on a budget – I seriously doubt anyone ever saw a picture of someone’s menu choice from curry club and put ‘Wetherspoons’ on their to-do list. 

My biggest concern is the reasoning provided for the termination of its social media account - the ‘addictive nature of social media’. I think there would have been less debate on the topic if Wetherspoons admitted they just couldn’t quite get it right. 

But what would I have done differently? Wetherspoons had the perfect platform to have some fun with their social media. It is doubtful that public perception of the chain pub would change if they injected a bit of ‘sass’ into their social. Take Tesco Mobile for example; rather than daily tweets about deals and offers, which seemed to be the crux of Wetherspoons’ social media strategy, Tesco Mobile has a bit of fun. I can’t stress enough that not everything on social media has to be a sales message. 

There’s a wealth of other brands that have adopted a more colloquial tone of voice and Wetherspoons was perfectly positioned to join them. Light hearted fun, self-depreciating humor and relatable content would not have just saved their social media channels but could have propelled the brand. 

Wetherspoons, if you ever see the error of your ways, give us a call!
 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR campaign essential, Social Media, Twitter, Wetherspoons

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Investment in tech in Manchester is at an all-time high: how the region’s tech businesses can capitalise on this



I seem to have been harping on about the potential of tech up North, and particularly in Manchester, for the past three years or so, ever since I started working heavily with clients in the sector on creative communications campaigns.

It’s been amazing to watch the sector grow at the rapid pace it has over the past few years, so I wasn’t surprised to read this week that tech companies in the North have attracted investment at the fastest rate in Europe over the past five years. The research by Prolific North told us that the region attracted a whopping £482m in investment in 2017, with Manchester named the fourth most popular city to invest in across the whole of Europe. In addition, TechCity’s 2017 Tech Nation report revealed that Manchester’s tech sector is worth £2.9bn to the regional economy, providing 63,000 jobs across the city.

Manchester has always been a city steeped in innovation, from being at the helm of the industrial revolution over 200 years ago, to the birth of the first modern computer, designed and built at the University of Manchester in 1948, right through to the present day, with hundreds of exciting digital businesses operating out of the city.

Born and bred Mancunian companies like Boohoo, Misguided, AO.com, Avecto and Autotrader, sit alongside huge corporate businesses such as Sainsbury’s  –  which moved its digital and tech team up to Manchester in 2016 – and co-working space, WeWork, which recently opened its first UK office outside of London in Manchester. All of these businesses are benefitting from the opportunities offered to them through the region’s dynamic digital sector.

Here at Refresh PR we love tech; we live it and breathe it. We really believe that Manchester is well on its way to becoming a global technology leader, so we want to shout about the brilliant work the tech sector in the region is producing. However, we know it’s often the last thing on the minds of tech entrepreneurs, as they prioritise growing their businesses and working on exciting projects.

We have a wealth of experience in helping tech companies – from digital agencies and app developers, to fintech and eLearning businesses – share exciting news and build their brands in creative ways. So if you’re a tech company that would benefit from some PR and communications we would love to have a chat. We’ll provide the brews and biscuits!

Give our tech account director, Lucy, a call on 0161 871 1188 or email at lucy @refreshpr.co.uk.

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , FinTech, PR, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, tech, Tech PR

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Know an amazing view? Share it with us!



The search is on once again to see which building in the UK can take the monumental crown of the UK’s Best Window with a View 2018!

Following a hugely successful second year of the competition, which we launched together with independent consumer advice website MyGlazing.com, nominations are now open for 2018 and the campaign promises to be bigger than ever before, thanks to a new twist.

This year, the competition is expanding its horizons, accepting entries not just from public buildings, including pubs, theme parks, museums and hotels, but homes and workplaces too. That means three times as many chances to enter!

Each year, after entries close, the best four images from each region are selected by a panel of expert judges and put to a public vote to decide the winner. The 11 regional favourites are then put forward for the national shortlist, to determine the UK’s Best Window with a View.

If you know of a fantastic view in the UK, whether it’s from your home, your office or your favourite getaway, make sure you take a great picture using your camera or smartphone and submit it to the competition via: MyGlazing.com/window-with-a-view.

Entries will close in May, so you still have a few weeks to take part. Don’t miss out, as there are some fantastic prizes on offer!

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment

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Don’t Pause The Talk with Esteem – No Pause



Don’t Pause The Talk is designed to encourage people to talk about this natural aging process and to share their experiences - the good, the bad and the ugly - in order to encourage more conversation around the topic.

Working with Esteem’s founder, Jane Hallam, we held focus groups with women who were happy to discuss how the menopause has impacted their day-to-day lives, everything from the effect it has had on their careers to the damage it can cause to people’s sex lives and relationships. These focus groups were filmed and five videos were created covering a range of topics.

These videos are now living on Esteem’s website and social media channels and since the launch have had thousands of views. Now that people are seeing others talk about their experiences, we are encouraging them to join in the conversation on Esteem’s Facebook page and in wider society.

If you want to learn more about the menopause and the impact it can have, visit www.EsteemManchester.co.uk/DontPauseTheTalk or join in the conversation at www.Facebook.co.uk/EsteemNoPause and watch this space as we take the campaign to the media to encourage even more conversation around the topic.

Tagged with: Campaign, Don't Pause The Talk, Esteem No Pause, Menopause, PR Agency Manchester

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Looking for a career change? We might have the job for you



Do you love trying the latest restaurants? Are you always looking for the next great dining experience? Do you also love a great deal? Then new deals and offers website, TableNow.co.uk, has the job role for you.

As part of its relaunch in the North West, our client TableNow.co.uk is recruiting to fill the ultimate job role: the UK’s first Professional Eater, who will be tasked with trialling restaurants from across the region to review on the site, as well as giving top tips on dining out.

Sound interesting? Apply via the new website - https://blog.tablenow.co.uk/professional-eater - before 8th May and explain why you are the right person for the job.

If you’re not bothered about becoming a Professional Eater, but you’re from the North West and would simply like to know more about the great deals on offer via TableNow.co.uk, you can download the new app and enjoy a three month free trial of the service. When the trial finishes, there is still no sign up fee or monthly subscription; it simply costs £2.50 per person, per booking, providing great savings for both regular and spur of the moment diners.

And for those of you who don’t currently live, work or play in the North West – don’t worry. There are plans to launch TableNow.co.uk UK-wide later this year, so keep your eyes peeled; you’ll be first to know!


Tagged with: Campaign, Professional Eater, TableNow

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Meet The Team



Here at Refresh we know our people are our biggest asset; they are the brains behind our creative ideas and the workforce responsible for our impactful results. So, with this in mind, each month we’re going to delve deeper into the lives and minds of our team members, so you can get to know the Refresh team better. This month it’s our head of consumer, Caroline Gibson.

How did you get into PR?

Unlike a lot of people in the industry I actually did a PR degree, so from the age of 18 I knew I wanted to work in the sector. My mind was made up when I was trying to decide whether to study journalism or business studies and my dad suggested public relations. After a bit of research I knew this was the path I wanted to take and the rest, as they say, is history.

What do you love most about working in PR?

It has to be the people, and I don’t just mean my colleagues, although they’re great too. Working in PR, and an agency like Refresh, I get to meet so many people from different walks of life and different stages of business. From CEOs of major companies to young entrepreneurs striving to get their businesses off the ground, everyone has a different challenge and we get to work with them to achieve their goals and objectives.

What do you think you bring to Refresh PR?

I’d like to think that my main asset to the agency is my creative thinking. I love reading about what other brands are doing and how companies are approaching their own marketing, especially as technology and opportunities develop. This constant research gives me the knowledge to spark new ideas for my own clients. Over my 10 years in the industry I have worked on some big name brands such as Burger King, Wilko, GO Outdoors, Marriott Hotels and Disney’s Club Penguin; these accounts have allowed me to be come up with brave and exciting campaigns and I am now able to apply this thinking and approach to all my clients.

Outside of the office, what do you do for fun?

I am a huge music fan, so you will often find me at the Albert Hall, Academy, Apollo or The Ritz watching gigs. I am a typical Manchester girl and I love the music that has come out of the city; from The Courteeners and Blossoms, to The Stone Roses and Oasis, that is one of the reasons I love living here. The music and the culture that oozes out of the city makes it a very exciting place to live and work.

Finally, where do you see the future of PR?

I started working in PR 10 years ago, and back then social media was barely even considered when planning creative campaigns, whereas now it is front and centre of everything we do. This, to date, has been the biggest change and as people are increasingly spending their lives online, use of social media will be a major part of the future of PR – but the key is taking an intelligent approach. Consumers are more savvy than ever before and as PR professionals we need to be coming up with campaigns that respect this, while still making an impact.

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

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What makes team Refresh happy?



Today is International Day of Happiness, a day which aims to inspire individuals to share happiness with others and create a happier world for all.

So in honour of this, I asked the team at Refresh to tell me a few things which makes them happy.

Our MD Laura, said:

Definitely holidays as they provide quality family time (and sun!)

Seeing people realise their full potential at work

Our head of B2B Erin, said:

Simple pleasures – a cup of tea with my doggy and Coronation Street on the TV

In work, it’s hearing from clients who are impressed with our ideas, who can see our campaigns are working, and brainstorms which get all our creative juices flowing

Our latest team member, account director Lucy, said:

Walking in the countryside, in the freezing cold and then calling into a warm pub to sit in front of the fire, and have a pint and a packet of crisps

The feeling you get when you walk off the plane into a wall of heat in a hot country

Eating and drinking lots of food and wine with my nearest and dearest  

Account executive Rebecca, said:

There’s nothing I love more than going on holiday, discovering new places and trying new food

The older I get, the more I realise how much I value and love spending time with my family, quality family time makes me happy

Festivals – who doesn’t love listening to their favourite band, in a muddy field in the sun, with a drink in their hand?

Account executive Emily, said:

As I’m working at Refresh as part of my placement year at Newcastle University, I am now back living at home with my family, so spending valuable time with my family and my little dog is something that makes me extremely happy

I do also love going back to visit my friends in Newcastle, basically, I’m most happy when spending time with the people I love 

Tagged with: , Happy, International Day of Happiness, PR agencies Manchester

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Refresh’s Heating Installer Awards announces regional winners



For four months we have been accepting entries showcasing the best work of heating installers from across the UK. On Monday this cumulated in the Heating Installer Awards judging day.


A representative from each of the award sponsors, Danfoss, Polypipe, Sentinel, Installer Magazine, Wolseley, Avanti Gas and Vaillant UK met at Vaillant HQ, in Belper. Our expert panel judged each entry on four elements; technicality, professionalism, exceptional service, and happy customers, where hundreds of entries were whittled down to the top nine, ready to go head to head for a public vote. The national winner of the awards will be announced on the main stage at trade show, Installer2018, in May.


The team at Refresh PR prides itself on being able to come up with innovative and creative campaigns that bring a new buzz and fresh talking points into industries that are more traditional in nature.  The Heating Installer Awards is now in its third year, and it keep on getting bigger and better. Through the awards, we have made long lasting relationships with journalist, influencers and key personalities within the industry, all of whom support the awards and the good work it celebrates.


We’re always looking for new and exciting companies we can collaborate with. If you’d like to see how Refresh can inject some creativity into your company, feel free to get in touch. Failing that, make sure you support your region by voting in the Heating Installer Awards by clicking here.

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It’s award season! Make sure you shine



After working solidly for 12 months (and sometimes longer) on campaigns designed to make huge cut through in our sectors, there’s no better recognition for our hard work and creativity than an industry award. And right now, award season is getting into full flow!

Awards for every industry, whether food and drink, PR and marketing, construction or technology, are opening for entries, but if you’re unsure where to get started to make sure you stand out in front of those all-important judges, we’ve pulled together our top tips for ultimate awards success.


Pick the perfect project


No matter which awards campaign you wish to enter, the judges are looking for a standout project which defines everything that’s special about your business and abilities. Before getting started on your entry, look at everything you’ve worked on in the last 12 months. Is there a project or campaign which really made a difference to a client’s bottom line, or made headlines in your industry? If so, that’s probably your best bet! The key is choosing a project which is complete – something you can detail from start to finish, including the great results you achieved.



Gather your evidence


Once you’ve chosen your project or campaign, map it out from inception to completion and highlight the areas that stand out as remarkable. For these sections, gather as many statistics, testimonials, images, videos and extra material which you can use to prove to the judges that your campaign is deserving of the award. Include as much evidence as possible to back-up your work, and the judges will be left with little option other than to give you the prize.


Ask for extra support


Gain input from every team member that contributed something to the project or campaign – whether big or small. Additionally, when informing your client you’re entering their project for an award, ask them politely for a testimonial as to the difference it has made to their business. It’s not enough for them to advocate how hard you worked or your organisation (although this is helpful too!); ask questions about how the campaign impacted their bottom line, or operations, or pipeline. If you can get those golden nuggets of information, you’re in with a fantastic shot at winning.


Supporting material


A lot of award campaigns ask you to submit additional supporting material, usually in the form of a one page document which you can use to show off all the great parts of your campaign that didn’t make it into your written entry (pesky word count!). Enlist the help of a great designer to help ensure you make best use of the space you have available, match the supporting material to your brand and produce something that looks really professional. The judges will be impressed, and you’ll get extra marks.


Triple check


Before submission, go back to the mapping out of the project or campaign you’re entering and make sure you have ticked off everything you wanted to include. If you’re struggling for space, and really want to include that last little bit of information, see if there’s anything you can remove that perhaps has less clout or is just a ‘nice to have’ within the entry. It’s all about priorities.


Deadline


There are no extra marks for submitting an entry on time, and a lot of campaigns do extend their deadline, but you should never take this for granted. Set a schedule to have your award entry finished a week before the original deadline; this will allow you time for final, FINAL tweaks and to run it past other members of your team to ensure everyone thinks it’s as brilliant as it could possibly be. From there, there’s only one thing left to do – submit it!


Good luck during award season. It’s an exciting time, and brings together all the greatest minds within you industry. If you’re looking for a little extra support with your award entry, let us know – we’ve tonnes of experience of writing awards on behalf of clients, and would be more than happy to help you with yours. Call 0161 871 1188 for more information.

 

Tagged with: , awards, awards season, Lifestyle, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester

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Are you a Senior Account Executive looking for a new challenge? Get in touch!



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 private and not for profit 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 a senior account executive working across a range of B2B accounts in the construction, built environment, property, tech and e-commerce sectors.  You’ll have already gained valuable PR agency or in-house experience with at least a year spent working in B2B PR.

 

You will be great at preparing sector specific copy for trade press as well as developing and maintaining great relationships with journalists to secure the best possible coverage for your clients. You’ll work closely with account managers to ensure we are delivering consistently for our clients, yet will be able to use initiative, working independently most of the time.

 

You should be able to think creatively, and be interested in working together with our team to inject disruptive campaigns into the most traditional of industries in order to help our clients get noticed. After all, it is this way of thinking that has seen us secure so many award wins over the years!

 

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 even pride yourself on being a perfectionist! You are considerate and supportive; a real team player with the ability to remain calm and considered when faced with new or pressurised situations.

 

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 contribute to the direction of the organisation.  What’s more, we’re dedicated to helping our people grow and achieve their potential through The Refresh Management Academy – a 6-month programme of structured training and development, created and delivered by experienced PR practitioners and expert trainers. This unrivalled programme provides you with all the key skills that will help you to become a highly effective senior account executive and progress your career with Refresh.

 

Interested in applying or finding out more about the role? Send your CV to iwantajob@refreshpr.co.uk

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment, Construction, Manchester, Marketing, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Why Did the Chicken Cross The Road? To Teach Us About Crisis Management



We all know about the recent KFC ‘Chicken Gate’ news story. Some of us will have experienced the chicken-less disappointment of an empty restaurant first hand, others will have read about it in the media, and some may have seen their social media connections in uproar about the situation.  

 

A chain of chicken shops running out of chicken and having to close restaurants nationwide is a pretty big crisis by all accounts, and will ultimately cost the fast-food chain millions.

 

But what really got people talking is KFC’s reaction to the crisis. The full page ‘FCK’ image placed in a national newspaper was genius. It didn’t make excuses, it didn’t pass blame – the company owned up in a funny, but to the point, tone of voice, and most importantly it apologised.

 

The image caught the attention of celebrities and marketing professionals alike, all praising the response, but the debate in the Refresh PR office is around whether this is an advert or a PR stunt.

 

Many people have called it a masterclass in PR crisis management, however does using paid for media space remove the PR element of the reaction?

 

The crisis reaction will have been designed by an advertising agency, the space in The Metro will have been bought by a media buying agency, so can this be classed as PR?

 

Here at Refresh PR we decided that this is an example of first class crisis communications, not necessarily PR – although that will have played a part.

 

The chicken shop didn’t wait for a nib in a newspaper carrying their quote apologising for the situation, or for a 30 second video of a spokesperson being interviewed outside of a restaurant. They owned the situation they were in by being bold, brave, funny and apologetic.

 

They understood the power of social media to spread the word and that ultimately with the right advert and the right sentiment, their customers would respond in the way they needed them to – by sharing pictures of the advert and most importantly forgiving them. 

 

So hats off to the Colonel and his marketing team – they nailed this situation with the perfect crisis communications response.

 

To learn more about crisis communications why not attend our event on 11th April 2018 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/crisis-communications-would-you-know-what-to-do-tickets-43308180935

 

 

Tagged with: creatiive agency Manchester, Creative Agency, Food & Drink, food and drink PR agency, leisure PR, lifestyle pr, Manchester, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester

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Refresh’s Inspiration



There’s a lot of talented women at Refresh PR. With a combined 50 years’ experience in the industry, it’s safe to say we know our stuff. As a team, we bring out the best in each other, and when working collectively, we generate PR campaigns that achieve great results for our clients.

As an all female agency, we’re always looking to channel girl power, so in honour of International Women’s Day, I asked the team at Refresh to tell me about women who inspire them.

Our head of B2B, Erin, is never one to conform, and her inspiration reflects this perfectly. She said:

“The author and columnist, Caitlin Moran – she’s really socially intelligent, probably due to having a challenging upbringing, but doesn’t apologise for herself, she embraces everything she is and if people don’t like it, well frankly, they can go to hell.

“She inspires other young women to feel the same way, teaching self-acceptance in her books, including ‘How to be a Woman’. Additionally, takes no nonsense from anyone who is a bit of a silly idiot – latest example was her challenge on Piers Morgan after his interview with Trump.

“Her writing has a huge amount of flair, and is so honest – she reinforced my love of writing and reading, because I realised it is okay to write what you want to write, and not conform to what other people think you should be writing.”

We clearly have Caitlin to thank for Erin’s ability to create persuasive arguments and write for our clients with passion.

Our head of consumer PR, Caroline, doesn’t let anything phase her and can generate fantastic results, often in the face of adversity, so her inspirational women, Serena Williams, makes total sense. Caroline said: “She is an absolute sporting legend and has shown that you don’t have to slow down just because she’s a mum. She won the Australian Open while pregnant and returned to the game just four months after giving birth.”

Account executive, Rebecca, is always willing to go out of her way and lend a helping hand and admires Katie Piper’s philanthropy and commitment to help others: “Despite everything she has been through, Katie has helped others to combat their own body issues, giving them a new found confidence. She has turned a horrific situation into a positive by giving strangers the confidence to believe they can achieve their dreams too.”

Following the Manchester attack last May, Ariana Grande’s support for the city has made her an honorary Manc, with Morecambe based account executive Emily, taking that role for Refresh: “After the Manchester bombing last year, the world saw Ariana Grande in a new light. She was no longer just a pop star, but the face of a campaign that united a city. Only in her early twenties, I think we all try and channel her strength and composure.”

Me personally, I derive inspiration from a range of people. From Beyonce to RuPaul; Meryl Streep to Malala Yousafzai, anyone that grabs life by the reins and uses their platform to spread a positive message is an inspiration in my book.

Throughout the week, Refresh PR is honoring International Women’s Day by a series of blogs, so keep an eye out for more posts about inspiring women. 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Celebrity, International Women's Day, Manchester, Marketing, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, Public Relations

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Business Crisis – would you know what to do?



In the eight years since we launched as a business, our clients have experienced all manner of crisis situations. From the most bizarre to the most extreme, we’ve been regularly called upon to support our clients in their time of need, and are now perfectly equipped to advise on internal and external relations during seriously testing times.

 

To help share our knowledge and inform other North West businesses as to the steps you can take to protect your business during a disaster, we’re holding an event dedicated to crisis communications and we’d love you to join us. Tickets are available here.

 

The Refresh PR team will deliver the session, to be held in April, exploring why it’s important to have a crisis procedure in place, what to do and what not to do when a crisis occurs and how to survive the aftermath. We’ll be followed by two speakers, who’ll share real life scenarios that required quick thinking and a calm manner in order to protect their brand’s reputation, manage media messaging and keep stakeholders informed.

 

Rounded off with an hour of networking, Refresh PR’s crisis communications workshop is the perfect event for those looking to put their own crisis strategy in place, and hear from likeminded businesses that have put stringent measures in place to mitigate against the risks of any future predicaments.

 

The event, which costs just £20 (plus the Eventbrite fee) to attend, will be held on 11th April, at Leaf on Manchester’s Portland. We look forward to seeing you there!

 

To find out more about Refresh PR’s crisis communications support, get in touch on info@refreshpr.co.uk.

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , media management, PR Agency Manchester, PR agency UK, PR crisis management agency, Public Relations North West

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Roses are red, violets are blue, which Valentine’s Day campaign would you choose?



How did you spend February 14th? Did you end up having a romantic dinner for two, or crying alone into a tub of Ben and Jerry’s? With the hype surrounding Valentines Day, it can be hard for PR campaigns to stand out from the crowd. Here at Refresh PR certain campaigns didn’t go unnoticed. Here are a few that caught our eye:                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Greggs - Greggs decided to mix things up this Valentine’s Day by becoming the antithesis of its normal self and hosting candlelit dinners for customers. A selection of its branches turned into restaurants, accompanied with dimmed lighting and classical music. Although only available at five of its branches, this story was covered far and wide, proving to be a PR success.

 

Moonpig – Moonpig partnered up with NHS Blood & Transplant to encourage the public to sign up for organ donations. Pun-heavy cards were created to help raise awareness for the cause and 6,400 free cards were given to those on the organ list. Delivering a strong social message as well as creating awareness for the brand, this is a firm favourite at Refresh PR.

 

Uber Eats – For those who remained single this Valentine’s Day, help wasn’t too far away. Renaming the period from the 14th February to 18th February as #BFFWeekend, Uber Eats offered friends the chance to buy one get one free from a number of their restaurants. When the brand undertook research last year, it found the most popular dish ordered on Valentine’s Day was in fact a donner kebab, so this was of course included in the deal.

 

Refresh PR – It would be rude of us not to mention our own Valentine’s Day campaign. Here at Refresh PR we hand delivered heart shaped balloons to local businesses and sent our clients personalised cards. It was our way of spreading a little love to those we work closely with, and resulted in interaction on our social media feeds, as those who received our gifts sent us their own message using the hashtag #LoveRefresh. It goes to prove that even the most simple of ideas go a long way!

 

PR campaigns built around specific times of the year can be a great way to create brand awareness and encourage new business. If you believe your company could benefit from a PR campaign, get in touch with us on 0161 871 1188.

 

 

 

Tagged with: creatiive agency Manchester, Creative Agency, Food & Drink, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester

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Maximising the Media Agenda to Make Brand Impact



Any keen social media user knows by now that there is a national day for everything. As soon as we’ve finished stuffing our faces with Domino’s on National Pizza Day (9th February), we’re kicking back with a cocktail on National Margarita Day (22nd February).

 

Along with the weird, wonderful and quite frankly obscure (National Open an Umbrella Indoors Day – 13th March, in case you were wondering), there are days that genuinely have a big impact on the media agenda. The most obvious of which is Christmas.

 

On the run up to December 25th, you can’t open a newspaper or go online without reading about festive decorations or gifting ideas. So when BuildMyGift.com asked us to support the launch of its new website in November by generating coverage in Christmas gift guides we grabbed the challenge with both hands.

 

We knew that we had to make a big impact-and-fast for BuildMyGift.com and ultimately our coverage had to drive website traffic. To do this we used tactics we knew would secure online coverage with a live link. This included a strategic mix of media outreach, blogger partnerships and top tips and features, working with a leading gifting psychologist.

 

This three month campaign resulted in 89 pieces of Christmas focused coverage in titles including Metro.co.uk, Glamour.co.uk, Express Online and The Scotsman. The team also secured a further four pieces of coverage in the news pushing the brand’s Valentine’s Day offering, including a mention on This Morning.

 

Using Google Analytics we were able to track the success of this coverage, proving that it not only drove website traffic but also generated sales at these key times.

 

For vegan health, beauty and wellness brand, Arbonne, the new year not only marks the start of the ‘New Year, New Me’ craze, but also Veganuary, a campaign that encourages people to go vegan for the month of January.

 

Knowing the impact this has had in previous years across the media and popular culture, and veganism’s overall rise in popularity, Refresh PR’s consumer team worked closely with key target media to secure inclusion in product roundups, in 11 top tier titles throughout January, including Elle, Good Housekeeping and The Daily Telegraph.  

 

To hear more about how we can generate coverage for your brand at the right time, in the right place, contact info@refreshpr.co.uk.

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: creatiive agency Manchester, Creative Agency, PR agencies Manchester, PR campaign essential, Press office, Public Relations North West

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Change and acquisition management – How Refresh PR can help



In the busy world of acquisitions and mergers, it can be easy to deprioritise your outward-facing brand image and messaging, in favour of keeping staff and stakeholders informed of progress – especially if you’re making multiple acquisitions each year.

 

Change can be a major of cause of internal concern, so of course it’s important to pay extra close attention to how it should be handled in your communications plan. But equally as important, is the way in which you manage the messaging around the change, outside of your own four walls. As such, any company going through an acquisition, purchase or merger should work with a PR agency specialising in change management in order to streamline communications across all relevant channels.

 

Here at Refresh PR, we’ve a vast amount of experience in supporting companies through these significant and testing times. In the last month alone, we’ve helped two of our clients with their media liaison and internal communications during the course of acquisitions, to ensure sensitivity, manage staff expectations and retain a positive sentiment around both brands.

 

Whether it’s advising on the strategic messaging, providing support to your internal marketing team or developing a robust media procedure, Refresh PR can co-ordinate all decision makers and stakeholders in order to ensure a stringent process is put in place, which can be replicated for each future acquisition or merger.

 

To hear more about how we can support you through your next large scale business change, contact info@refreshpr.co.uk.

 

 

 

Tagged with: acquisition PR support, B2B PR agency Manchester , Change management PR, creatiive agency Manchester, internal PR, PR agency UK

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Refresh Kick Starts a Campaign to Break Menopause Taboos



In order to normalise the conversation and break the taboo around menopause, Refresh PR is launching the Don’t Pause The Talk campaign for our client, Esteem.

 

Nightwear brand, Esteem, is the solution to night sweats and hot flushes for women going through the menopause. Founder, Jane Hallam, will soon be a key figure in the conversation around the menopause, which up until recently hasn’t been happening at all.

 

With a gradual increase in media attention and a wave of celebrities now coming out to discuss their experiences, Esteem wants to give other women who are suffering from the menopause the confidence to talk about it themselves and share how it has impacted their lives.

 

To kick-start the campaign we worked with our filming partners, Trunk, to capture two focus groups talking openly and honestly about their experience of the menopause – the good, the bad and the ugly.

 

The revelations emerging from these focus groups will form the basis of the campaign, being seeded out via social media to show women it’s OK to talk about the menopause and encourage conversation about this currently sensitive topic.

 

Watch this space for the video footage and join the conversation using #DontPauseTheTalk.

 

To talk about how Refresh PR can give you ownership of industry conversation call, 0161 871 1188.

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , creatiive agency Manchester, Menopause PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR agency UK, Public Relations North West, Video and PR

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Maximising a new product launch



Marketing managers, R&D teams and sales reps work hard to bring new products to market. There’s even more pressure to deliver when products are seasonal and need to be ready to launch ahead of the key buying times, whether this be summer or Christmas (or any time in between). After months of toiling away testing and learning, running focus groups, revising, remoulding, reformulating and testing again, the satisfaction of knowing a product is ready for sale is truly special.

 

So, what’s the new product launch plan?  After all, this has been a key focus for many of the internal teams for months, so all eyes are on the marketing department to make sure it keeps up its end of the bargain and promotes the launch effectively. Have a look at some of the options below.

 

For the frugal

Isn’t it often the case that despite the blood, sweat and tears, when it comes to marketing there’s no additional budget available to launch? While frustrating, it doesn’t have to be a problem.  Firstly, ask your PR agency to build the new product launch into its existing retainer for a start – unless your agency is delivering a specific plan to specific targets (and therefore this falls outside of the existing plan) it shouldn’t be a problem, and the agency will be delighted to be flexible and support the new product launch. Then challenge your agency – what new ideas does it have? This is a major product launch, so you need more than a standard press release. When a strong idea is presented, it often equates to a little more budget being found. Finally, how do they suggest tracking the PR activity and linking it to results – so you can effectively report back your success to the Board?

 

So, you have a little bit more budget? 

Excellent! Ask your PR agency to get creative – this is a must to cut through the volume of noise out there in 2018. Creative doesn’t have to break the bank, but it does have to mean clever thinking. Give your agency a budget - you should have a strong enough relationship with your agency to trust that they will maximise this for you. Without a budget, ideas could be way off and you could end up wasting a lot of time.

 

Whether it’s a B2B or B2C product launch, creativity is essential. If you’re not getting this, try to provide some examples of product launches you like, and have obviously delivered in terms of sales – this may give your agency a guide and may help, particularly if it’s a new relationship.

 

You’ve been told money is no object?

Lucky you! While extremely unlikely, it’s not unknown! Ask your PR agency to lead on an integrated launch plan for you. A good PR agency will have strong links with partners, such as creative, digital and SEO consultants. Some will choose to have this resource as part of the agency already, and others will choose to bring on relevant third parties who are particularly skilled in either the job at hand or in a specific sector. Together, they can formulate an integrated campaign combining key elements that your campaign needs.

 

Again, if you follow key influencers who you feel could represent your product well, tell your agency. Work in partnership with your agency and you’ll get the best results – we aren’t mind readers but we are keen to make a success of everything we do, and will happily adopt a client’s idea, expand, offer more suggestions and make a damn good success of it.

 

As entrepreneurship and innovation continues to be embraced by the UK, and as more and more products are launched each and every day, the competition to grab attention is getting harder and harder. Creativity is essential, but this is only successful if combined with a strong and organised plan which is executed efficiently with enough budget put behind it to buy the time to achieve great things.

 

Our top tips for marketing managers:

-        Plan ahead of time: the more time an agency has, the better it will deliver the campaign. This is even more important if it is a seasonal product which must go to market at a certain time of year, or if the activity needs to support a six month product listing (this is not a lot of time to mobilise and deliver a campaign!)

-        Know your budget and tell your agency: If they advise it’s not enough, it probably isn’t – after all, they only want to succeed and continue to work with you! Be fair with them, and they will work hard for you in return

-        Be proactive with the relationship: share ideas and thoughts as this may spark more ideas at agency end, resulting in some fantastic collaborative work

-        Tell them how you want to be communicated to: not sure what your agency is doing? Chances are the team is working hard for you behind the scenes, but if you don’t know, ask! Ask for weekly updates, a regular call, face-to-face meetings or Facetime. At the same time, make sure this doesn’t eat up most of your budget!

-        Be clear with KPIs: ensure internally you have these signed off, so everyone knows what success looks like

-        Celebrate with them: you get a pat on the back? Give them a quick ‘thank you’ – you’ll be top of the to-do list the next day, I promise

 

 

 

 

 

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What I Love About PR This Valentine’s Day



So this Valentine’s Day, as everyone is getting soppy over flowers and chocolates, I thought I would reflect on what I love most about working in PR. After all, you probably spend more time at work than with your significant other, so you may as well love what you do.

 

After a decade working in PR I have experienced the good, the bad and the ugly of the industry and I have also seen it grow and develop into a marketing force to be reckoned with, something that I know will continue. So here are the top three reasons why I love this job.

 

PR gets results

For a long time measurement has been a dirty word in PR. As we typically form part of a complex marketing mix it has been very difficult to prove that PR has activity driven any form of action – whether that’s a purchase, increased brand awareness, or footfall/web traffic.

 

But now, thanks to the changing face of the media and improved analytics it is easier to see the impact of our activity. Now, more than ever, clients are wanting online coverage and it is easy to see why. Not only does it live on a site forever, but it helps improve a brand’s SEO and for ecommerce offerings, it can drive sales.

 

For example, we were able to track every piece of online coverage we got for our client BuildMyGift.com on the run up to Christmas to see how it performed. Having achieved backlinks on the likes of Glamour.co.uk, Metro.co.uk and WhatEmmaDid.co.uk, we used Google Analytics to track the activity and could prove it drove website traffic and even more importantly, sales.

 

PR is subtle

Now subtle isn’t always good when it comes to marketing, so bear with me on this one. It is very rare that you’d find a brand that wants a subtle approach to marketing; most want to make a big impact and fast. But with consumers now being hit with up to 10,000 marketing messages a day, sometimes too many in-your-face campaigns can become white noise.

 

PR has to be smarter than that. Just the other day a friend send me a travel article about the best places for a girls’ trip, which I read from start to finish, taking in the tips and advice on where the best bars and Instagram moments are.

 

It took a few minutes to realise that this wasn’t just a handy travel guide, but a PR feature for a new dating app, which received a couple of mentions throughout (with a live link of course). Now, if it is taking someone who works in the industry a few minutes to figure this out, then to the untrained eye the app is simply part of this feature recommendation. See, subtle, while aligning a brand with your values – now that’s clever.

 

PR is cost effective

Bill Gates said: “If I was down to my last dollar I would spend it on PR”, and let’s face it, he seems like a pretty smart guy. Bill knows that you don’t have to spend tens of thousands of pounds to make a big impact with PR. There are no big production budgets and you don’t have to spend a penny on buying the media space.

 

It is about putting your audience at the heart of what you do, and understanding where they see messages and what they trust (see point 2 – subtle and clever). Sometimes the most effective piece of PR is one that didn’t cost a thing, other than a person’s time; a person who is creative, strategic, intelligent, forward thinking and adaptable to audience needs. And luckily I am surrounded by those people every day.

 

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The often forgotten element of live event planning



As the Winter Olympics launched over the weekend, eyes all around the world turned to take in the hugely anticipated, extravagant production that is the opening ceremony of every games event.

 

But while we watched in fascination as the South Koreans depicted their heart-warming tribute to the elements, while five young children dressed in the Olympic ring colours charged about the stage with a magnificent polar bear (fake, of course), perhaps a handful of us may have known a massive cyber-attack was taking place against the games’ official website.

 

The Winter Olympics website, as well as TV and internet systems, were affected during the attack which took place just before the beginning of the opening ceremony. Reports say all systems were resolved within 12 hours (eek! That’s a long time), but it leads us to once again look at the priorities event organisers place on ensuring all channels of promotion are supported during what would arguably be the remit of a lifetime.

 

Over and over again, we see websites that are designed, built and marketed as ‘just an extra medium’ within a wider production take a hit. It’s as if because the majority of eyes will be on the TV coverage, and potentially also social media, the website – and its capacity and security – should be given less consideration.

 

But doing so opens you up to the risk of a cyber-attack – whether in the form of a DOS or DDOS or a similar system-crashing virus – that compromises not only the potential of the coverage that’s been prioritized, but the reputation of the Olympic Games as a whole.

 

To classify yourself as a professional in the production of events, the ability of every single channel you’re utilizing must be considered with equal priority. Just like you wouldn’t use a faulty camera to showcase the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics for TV, neither should you go forward with a website that’s vulnerable. You’re waving a red flag to a bull.

 

Personally, I wasn’t aware of the crash until Monday – but the event organisers should have been. In January, Konstantinos Karagiannis, BT’s chief technology officer, described the multiple attempts to bring down the 2012 London Olympics’ online channels as like fighting a ‘cyber onslaught’. Event organisers around the world, take heed - the warning was there.

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , crisis management PR, cyber security PR, event planning, PR agencies Manchester, PR campaign essential, PR event, website security, Winter Olympics

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The Importance of LinkedIn



LinkedIn, if used correctly, can be an incredibly powerful tool, particularly in B2B PR. We implement LinkedIn activity into all of our B2B campaigns, using it as an essential channel to create discussion on hot topics within the industries our clients work in. LinkedIn doesn’t limit us with deadlines, breaking news pushing our story out of the paper or other journalistic agendas. Infact, some of the articles we’ve drafted and uploaded to LinkedIn have created intense conversation and lead to worthwhile professional relationships and new business leads.

With 500 million users around the globe, and 50 per cent of those active every month, we can’t understand why more people don’t take advantage of this free to use platform. At a recent networking event we went to, we discovered that only 2 per cent of users generate meaningful content. Two per cent. With figures like this, it’s easy to have the monopoly of content shared by your sector.

It’s important, however, to consider that personal profiles get three times as many views as company pages. Rather than investing time, energy and money into creating content for a business, or a client’s businesses, page, consider raising the profiles of key spokespeople within your industry. As LinkedIn doesn’t yet allow businesses to upload longform articles, creating content and sharing from your CEO, research and development team member or marketing colleague is a great way to raise the profile of your company.

Let’s take LinkedIn back. Let’s flood timelines with interesting, engaging and valuable content and make it the domain of recruiters and humble braggers no longer. 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Manchester, Networking Event, PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign essential, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Social Media

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The Apprentice of the Month Awards



As the Carillion crisis continues, apprentices are among the many who have been impacted by the downfall of the outsourcing giant. Good news came recently when the Department for Education settled the confusion and confirmed that apprentices will be paid until they find new employers.

 

According to GOV.UK, apprenticeship participation now stands at a record level with nearly all apprentices feeling that they acquire or improve their skills as a direct result of their apprenticeship. At Refresh PR we have recognised the importance of apprenticeships. A new arm of the Refresh PR owned, industry-famous Heating Installer Awards has officially launched, The Apprentice of the Month Awards.

 

The Apprentice of the Month Awards aims to recognise the efforts of apprentices who go above and beyond each and every day. The awards will accept nominations from lecturers, employers, family, friends and apprentices themselves, via a short video entry, submitted on social media.

 

Each month, entries will be collated and a winner will be selected by one of the award sponsors: Sentinel, Vaillant UK, Installer Magazine, Polypipe and Wolseley. The shortlisted entries will then go head to head in a public vote.

 

The Heating Installer Awards is renowned for its great interaction with the installer community, and with levels of engagement higher than ever, it is up to Refresh PR to build up the Apprentice of the Month campaign so it’s as successful as the Heating Installer Awards. We’ll particularly be focusing on the power of social media, with Twitter a key platform for the installer community whether qualified or still in training. Plenty of Twitter activity has been planned over the next few months so watch this space!

 

At Refresh PR we keep up with all the latest social media advancements, implementing changes and improvements to the social media campaigns we run for our clients. If you think your company could benefit from an engaging social media campaign contact us on 01611 871 1188. For more information about the Apprentice of the Month Awards, follow them on Twitter - @AotMAwards or email apprentice@refreshpr.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment, Construction, Heating Installer Awards, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, Public Relations North West

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Bottoms up to Lidl’s New Campaign



We’re only six weeks into 2018 and already I am amazed at how technology continues to shape our lives and what consumers are now expecting from brands in terms of maximising these developments for marketing purposes. 

From VR and AR to wearable tech, brands are constantly looking for ways to connect with consumers and budget supermarket, Lidl is leading the way with its latest campaign.

Winebot, launched last week, allows consumers to engage with the brand using a chatbot on Facebook messenger, to get personalised wine pairings, based on their tastes and food choices.

As well as blanket coverage across titles such as Huffington Post, Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail, the Winebot creates genuine customer engagement; something that brands across the globe are desperate to achieve.

The Winebot helps to position Lidl as experts in the wine retail industry and also shows the brand cares about a customer’s eating and drinking experience, all while adopting new technology – not bad for a supermarket which has previously sat in Aldi’s shadow.

Going alongside its latest TV ad, which shows a customer who’s sceptical about Lidl’s wine offering, the supermarket chain is positioning itself as a market leader in the retail sector.

But the most impressive thing about the Winebot campaign is just how simple it really is, if you’ve got the knowhow and algorithms of course. Supermarkets recommending wines based on what food it complements is nothing new. Brands using your data to personalise its offering, either by eshots or via its website, has been around for years. Lidl has just taken these elements one step further and incorporated chatbot technology.

After I got over the initial “I wish I thought of that” moment, I could appreciate this campaign for all of its elements, but mainly for how Lidl combined the old with the new. Faced with new technology it is easy to go too far and potentially alienate current customers, but this struck the balance perfectly.

So cheers Lidl – pass me the pinot!

 

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It’s raining cats and dogs for the British public



There’s no debating that when we’re chatting with friends, we use colloquialism and regional slang. In day-to-day life, this is the norm; no one speaks the Queen’s English all the time. Our weather reports, however, are soon to follow suit, with terms like ‘it’s brass monkeys’ and ‘chucking it down’ about to become commonplace.

The Met Office has announced it is planning to include regional slang terms in its weather reports after research found millions of Britons do not understand the official terms used.

I’m all for using regional terms in a professional setting where appropriate, and think no one should try and conceal an accent, but is translating this into our weather reports a good idea? The English language is a complex system to navigate, but this is another step in making it obsolete completely.   

Derrick Ryall, Head of Public Weather Service at the Met Office, said: “As the UK’s National Weather Service, we’re always looking to improve the way weather forecasts are communicated, to make them as useful as possible and increase their understanding.

 “Ultimately we hope to use the insights from our research to tap into local dialects and vocabulary to make it easier for people across the UK to understand the forecast and make informed decisions based on it.”

I understand where Ryall is coming from, and agree to a certain extent. People do need to understand weather reports, however with colloquialisms used more and more often in our everyday lives, I can’t help but think that the English language is dying a death.

As a PR person, I’m a particular lover of lexis and a pedant for punctuation, but I can’t help but think that the bigger issue that needs solving here is teaching the British public what the word precipitation means.

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Tangible PR and 2018 - the year it finally becomes the norm



We are now four weeks into 2018 and it’s been a whirlwind already. What is clear is that this year will definitely be one of change all round as technology marches forward, the political landscape evolves, and our very own industry continues to turn everything we know on its head.

 

A few days ago industry title The Drum led with news that advertisers had started to feel the pinch with $10bn worth of media business under review. Is this a lot? Is this the norm? I’m not sure – with the ad budgets of the major brands easily reaching into the millions, perhaps not? But the fact that the media is talking about ‘feeling the pinch’ means we are also talking about it.

 

What is certain in the PR world is that everyone wants more in 2018 – but not necessarily more hours dedicated to their account, rather more certainty that the activity will cut through and deliver a difference. This means measurement is coming to the forefront, finally, and quite right too.  In fact in a recent pitch we spent over half an hour discussing measurement with the prospective client.

 

Article after article debating this issue fills my inbox, to my bemusement. It’s been something that’s been built into Refresh PR’s foundations – we simply don’t propose and run campaigns that can’t show an impact on a business.

 

So, how can PR be measured?

 

It’s not actually as difficult as people make out, for example:

 

Trading online? Then build increased traffic to the website as a key metric. Most of our clients have this as a KPI. We monitor Google Analytics and report back to them on a weekly and monthly basis and are able to demonstrate just how we’ve made a difference.

 

Working with influencers? Measure engagement levels – how many people commented that your brand was great? Give your influencer a sales code to promoted to their network and measure redemption levels

 

Want more people to talk about your brand? Invest a small amount in research to benchmark where you are now, and then again at the end of the campaign. Watch social media and the internet in general carefully to view the increase in brand mentions

 

A good PR strategy

 

Before setting the KPIs, make sure you’re measuring the right thing. Go back to the drawing board and your PR strategy. Who do you want to reach, with what message, by when, and what action do you want them to take? If you are 100% certain of what you want people to do, then focus on this and measure the progress!

 

Analysis is crucial

 

Much like online advertising, thanks to Google Analytics we can measure so much more than ever before, and really understand what our target audiences are doing.  Making sure the PR team is doing this on a weekly basis means that campaigns can be tweaked and readjusted regularly, to ensure the target audiences are consistently being reached, and positively influenced, by the campaign.

 

Which all brings me back to my initial thought when I read the article: $10bn of advertising spend? Put it into PR activity instead!!

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: creative PR agency, digital PR agency, food and drink PR agency, Food and drink PR agency | Creative PR agency | How to measure PR | PR in 2018 | Online PR agency | Digital PR agency, how to measure PR, online PR agency, PR in 2018

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Injecting creativity into B2B PR



Having worked in B2B PR for half a decade, I’ve witnessed my fair share of lacklustre PR campaigns.

For some reason, B2B PR is synonymous with colour seps, dry campaigns and rigid press office, and I’m not sure when this became the norm. There is no need for B2B PR professionals to hang up their creative hats, when in fact, they have the perfect opportunity to inject some creativity into their industries.

Take the Heating Installer Awards for example. Initially created as a way for an underfloor heating provider to communicate to heating installers across the UK, we abandoned a traditional basic press office function, which many would have deemed adequate, and ploughed the budget into a multi channel campaign that lives predominantly on social. This not only created a channel for us to communicate with our target audience directly, but also generated news, conversation amongst those within the industry and allowed us to forge long lasting relationships with key players within plumbing, heating and the built environment.

Refresh PR now owns the Heating Installer Awards and it has gone from strength to strength, recognised as an industry standard for success.

It doesn’t just have to be B2B PR though. Every now and then, a consumer product or service will come along that is really struggling to penetrate the market. Google’s latest venture is a prime example of this.

How many of us can honestly say we are avid users of the Google Art & Culture app that was developed last year? The app allows users to “Meet the people, visit the places and learn about the events that shaped our world. Discover collections curated by experts from the most famous museums. Be moved by stories depicted in thousands of photos, videos, manuscripts and artworks on every type of screen and in virtual reality. Find your favourite artworks, create your own collections and share them with friends”.

Google, however, acknowledged the lack of engagement with the very niche app and by applying some very creative thinking, transformed it into software that would appeal to the masses.

With the new feature, users can take a selfie, upload it, and the app will automatically match it with a work of classical art, finding your doppelganger. It is now the most downloaded app for 2018 so far. Not bad for something not many people knew existed until a few weeks ago.

With the lines between PR and marketing becoming increasingly blurred, it’s time for trade PR people to start causing a stir. Abandon the frustratingly safe press office, aim a bit higher than a colour sep, and show the world that B2B can be creative too!

At Refresh, our consumer and trade teams work in tandem to create creative and hard-hitting campaigns that, most importantly, get results.  

Get in touch if you’d like to hear what we can do for you by calling 0161 871 1188 or by emailing hello@refreshpr.co.uk . 

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PR Debate: Who was Right – The Influencer or the Owner?



Last week we saw The White Moose Café hotel owner hit the headlines for shaming a blogger and social influencer after she asked for a free hotel stay in return for coverage on her website.

 

The owner wrote a damning letter back asking the blogger, Elle Darby, who would pay his staff and bills if all he received for her stay was exposure? He later went on to announce that all bloggers are now banned from his business.

 

The response that The White Moose Café put out was anonymous, but the blogger decided to out herself to respond to the letter, admitting she had been exposed, while still feeling that the hotel owner was acting in a bullying way.

 

The blogger and wider marketing community have since been debating who was in the right and who was in the wrong. Should bloggers and influencers assume they deserve free stays and special treatment? Should businesses be more aware, and appreciative of the exposure and the impact this has on their business? Or is there a better way for small businesses to work with bloggers and influencers entirely?

 

No matter what your opinion on the situation, both parties have received a huge amount of PR and exposure from the story, no doubt increasing both of their social followings and website traffic. This hasn’t gone unrecognised, as the owner of The White Moose Café sent Elle an invoice for the PR coverage she has received off the back of the story going viral – apparently it equates to £4.6m (not bad hey!).

 

My first thought when reading this story, was would the owner of The White Moose Café have responded in the same way if it was a ‘mainstream’ journalist contacting him about a review? Something we’ll never know.

 

At Refresh PR we often work with bloggers and influencers and we know that used in the right way for the right client they are an extremely powerful medium. We have seen blogger coverage drive direct website traffic and sales, not to mention brand awareness and social followings.

 

So, although this isn’t the ‘typical’ way of a blogger and a business working together there is no denying the success of this activity, intentional or unintentional. Both parties have increased their exposure, generated column inches and sparked debate – hands down a successful PR stunt whether they intended it to be or not!

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: Celebrity, creatiive agency Manchester, Creative Agency, PR Agency Manchester, Public Relations North West

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Demand grows for backlink building campaigns



Increasingly, clients – particularly online retailers – are seeking the support of Refresh for digital PR. Delivered successfully, a digital PR campaign will not only increase a company’s ranking on Google, but will increase traffic to a website, reduce bounce rate and ensure there’s real buzz around a company in online media and social channels, which are continually increasing in popularity.

 

The wants of the media change daily. For many journalists working in today’s world, the aim is to keep users on their website or social media channels for as long as possible. By doing so, they prove the value of the content they’re writing to their editors, advertisers and audience in order to achieve cut through in a noisy and ever-changing industry.

 

This has, in turn, impacted the ways businesses think about their PR and marketing. Objectives are now targeted by online visibility scores, social engagements and the success of cross-channel campaigns. In addition, being on page one of Google for a key search term can make a company successful overnight – similarly, being bumped down to page three can also have catastrophic outcomes.

 

Refresh PR has substantial experience in creating digitally-led PR campaigns, targeted specifically with helping to improve a brand’s SEO. This is achieved by using clever techniques to secure coverage on high authority news and social websites which include live links back to a website.

 

By doing do for clients including Kagool, MyGlazing.com, GourmetMeatClub.co.uk, BuildMyGift.com, insureTAXI.com and more, we’ve driven hundreds of thousands of consumers to engage and buy from the brands via their websites, increased domain authority, secured bounce rates of less than 40% and moved our clients up Google rankings for many of their keywords - in some case, moving from page three to page one.

 

Refresh PR’s digital tactics are delivered with a business’ objectives in mind and aim to exceed expectations. If you’re interested in working with Refresh PR to improve your online and digital PR, get in touch today.

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: Lifestyle, PR agencies Manchester, PR backlink campaign, PR campaign essential, Public Relations North West, SEO and PR

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Do you have Britain’s best Window with a View?



The search is once again on to find Britain’s best Window with a View. For the third year, Refresh PR will run the campaign on behalf of MyGlazing.com, the UK’s independent consumer advice website for home improvement and glazing.

 

The campaign, which drives hundreds of thousands of visitors to the MyGlazing.com each year, comprises social media, digital PR, backlink building and traditional media relations activity to generate entries into what is fast becoming a key event in the calendar year.

 

Adding to a very successful two years, for the first time in 2018 views from offices will be eligible to enter the campaign. So if you’re lucky enough to gaze out of your office window each day onto an amazing view, we want to hear from you. We’re also still inviting entries from tourist attractions and other public buildings as usual.


The campaign will launch at the start of February, so get snapping your views now (remember to include the window frame) and save them up ready to upload to www.myglazing.com/wwav

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment, Construction, creatiive agency Manchester, Creative Agency, Public Relations North West

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Polypipe on Twitter



Earlier this month the team behind the Heating Installer Awards 2018 hosted an evening Twitter Q&A with sponsor, Polypipe.  The hour-long burst of activity was aimed at heating installers who want to know more about Polypipe, its services and also have a bit of downtime at the end of the day.

 

The Q&A achieved 281 engagements and 6440 impressions from @HIAwards, with further engagement on the @PolypipeTrade account. High quality interactions were achieved from the installer community throughout the duration of the hour.

 

The hour went seamlessly, with the teams at both ends typing furiously to respond to the questions, and banter, thrown at them.

 

As an added bonus, the awards saw additional entries over the following days, attributed to the increase in awareness and engagement from this activity. More Twitter bursts of activity are planned for the coming weeks, including giveaways – so get following @HIAwards!

 

Twitter campaign construction 

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Construction, Creative Agency, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign essential, Twitter

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Merry Christmas everyone



Christmas for an online retailer is the pinnacle of the year – a chance to boost sales, which also results in the busiest time of the year and generally a well-deserved rest from 23rd December onwards as the final postage date delivers a welcomed respite.

 

Preparations for the Christmas period usually start in March-April time, with campaign ideas discussed and decided upon, then actioned in plenty of time to meet the deadlines of the long-lead magazines, which start work on Christmas in July, followed by the short-lead titles and then online. So when we started a campaign for brand new online retailer, http://www.buildmygift.com in mid-November, you’d be forgiven for thinking we’d got giddy on an early mulled wine or two.

 

However, in just six weeks we were able to plan the Christmas campaign and its key messages, then work with a gift psychologist to obtain a unique story angle while undertaking research to gain additional statistics to support the story, appoint key social influencers to post about the personalised gift hampers, and complete a tough media sell in to achieve coverage, with backlinks, for our new client.

 

A fantastic start to our work with BuildMyGift.com!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: creatiive agency Manchester, Creative Agency, Digital PR, online PR, online retailer PR

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Refresh Academy adds modules for 2018



We work extremely hard to ensure our team is upskilled in the services that our clients require for today’s business environment. During 2017 we were advised by many of our clients that they were seeking additional consultancy services, and not only that, but more campaign-based activity too.

 

Having an effective team which can fulfil the needs of our clients is crucial to the success of the agency, and we’ve worked hard to make sure that each team member has the ability to deliver the high standards that have become synonymous with Refresh.

 

Whilst our team undertakes regular training each month as standard, it’s important for us as an agency to help each person stay one step ahead. New modules added into the Academy for 2018 include:

-        PR to deliver on business objectives

-        Creating creative ideas to cut through the noise

-        Effective PR backlink campaigns

-        GDPR

-        Effective KPI and measurement setting

-        Crisis management

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , creatiive agency Manchester, PR agencies Manchester, PR agency, PR training

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How will businesses respond to the recent Facebook changes?



On Thursday it was revealed that Facebook will be changing its algorithms once again, so users will begin to see more posts on their news feed from family and friends, rather than posts from brands and publishers. The CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, explained he’s bringing in the change to make sure “the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent.” So what does this mean for PR professionals who use Facebook as a key mechanism when working with clients?

If used correctly, social media can be an extremely influential PR tool, and Facebook has been growing in popularity for businesses who want to capture consumer interest during ‘down time’, i.e. the hours we’re not in work and are instead, switching off and pursuing our personal interests.

It’s been acknowledged by Mark Zuckerberg that “the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down," meaning there will be even less opportunity to consume content from businesses and publishers. As such, businesses that once used Facebook as their sole tool to engage with the public will now have to begin using a variety of other channels to connect with their target audience. A ‘one size fits all’ mentality is not the correct approach to take;  channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+ and more will have to be utilised better in order to gain similar levels of traction once offered by Facebook. That said, not all consumers use every channel available, so it’s important to analyse where your specific target audience consumes its content.

Only time will tell whether this is a huge gamble by Facebook. By making this decision, it will have dramatically decreased its support from publishers and business, which may leave investors to question their involvement with the organisation.

Or, will it prove to be a smart move? When the changes come into place, companies may reveal that it hasn’t affected them as much as expected, or find it’s forced them to seek alternative methods of promotion which yield better results.

Ultimately, it’s essential for businesses to keep up to date on how changes like this could affect how they reach their customers and therefore, the nature of their entire company.

If you need help or guidance with your social media and online PR support, find out what we can do for you here: http://www.refreshpr.co.uk/page/88/Social-Media.htm. Alternatively, contact us on 0161 871 1188.

 

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Strong start to 2018 as Refresh PR welcomes four new clients



Manchester-based agency, Refresh PR, has secured four new clients, delivering the agency’s most successful growth period to-date.  The PR agency, which recently celebrated its eighth birthday, has won new clients for its built environment, retail and lifestyle teams.

 

After a competitive five-way pitch, Cheadle based Equity Housing Group, a social housing provider with over 4,500 properties across the country, selected Refresh to manage its PR and deliver crisis communications. The campaign will work to reinforce Equity Housing Group’s established position within the housing sector.

 

When speaking of the win, Erin Heywood, head of B2B at Refresh PR, said: “Refresh PR has extensive experience in both the housing and construction sectors and our expertise in these areas shone throughout the pitch. The social housing market presents some exciting challenges and we look forward to working on Equity Housing Group’s PR and communications.”

 

Helena Banfield, marketing, brand and comms manager at Equity Housing Group, continued: “A number of agencies pitched for Equity Housing Group’s PR contract however we were impressed with the industry knowledge, out of the box thinking and enthusiasm from the team at Refresh PR. There are exciting times ahead for Equity Housing Group and we look forward to welcoming Refresh PR to be a part of that.”

 

Following project work in 2017, Refresh PR has also been appointed by Calla Shoes, a manufacturer of beautiful and stylish footwear for women with bunions, and Esteem – No Pause, a clothing collection designed specifically for women experiencing symptoms associated with the menopause. Calla and Esteem are both part of the successful Entrepreneurial Spark Business Accelerator, the world's largest free people accelerator for start-up and scaleup businesses.  

 

Using its extensive knowledge of the fashion, women’s lifestyle and e-commerce markets, Refresh PR has developed bold strategic consumer campaigns for both Calla and Esteem, utilising a clever mix of content, video, imagery and media relations to reach the brands’ niche audiences effectively.

 

Further cementing Refresh’s expertise in online retailing PR, BuildmyGift.com has also signed to work with Refresh PR. Launched in November 2017, BuildmyGift.com, was created out of a need for better and more personalised gifting options. Refresh PR has already used a hard-working press office and influencer outreach to secure prominent coverage for the ambitious start-up.

 

Caroline Gibson, head of consumer at Refresh PR, said of the wins: “Calla, Esteem and buildmygift.com were all new business launches that required intensive PR campaigns to introduce them to both the media, and the public. Conducting project work in 2017 demonstrated not only Refresh’s ability to provide PR that has clear influence on the profitability of the companies, but also our love for the work that we do. 2018 is an exciting time for Refresh PR and our new clients.”

 

Contact Refresh PR on 0161 871 1188 to find out more about the business.

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , creatiive agency Manchester, Health & Beauty, Leisure, Lifestyle, PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR campaign essential, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Stupidest monkey in the industry



We are less than two weeks into the New Year and fashion giant H&M has already caused a mammoth amount of controversy surrounding its ‘coolest monkey in the jungle’ hoody.

The product, which was modelled on a black child as part of the company’s marketing material, has sparkled a huge amount of backlash on social media and news channels alike, with many calling it ‘disgusting’, ‘inappropriate’ and ‘negligent’, for obvious reasons.

Many of the outraged customers hit back at H&M by heading straight to social media. And as the tweets began to grow, more and more people started to learn about the campaign, including celebrities and MPs. Singer The Weeknd has already cut ties with the company despite having a collaboration with them. The ‘Starboy’ singer took to twitter in a statement saying: “shocked and embarrassed by this photo. I’m deeply offended and will not be working with H&M anymore.”

Fashion brands are a huge part of our lifestyle and culture, and they go to great lengths to grow a loyal following and build relationships with customers. With this in mind it’s hard to understand how H&M didn’t think of the potential consequences surrounding launching a campaign featuring this material. Labelling and discrimination are always hot – but contentious – topics on the global agenda, so it’s bizarre to think H&M, a brand that famously stands for international equality and raising standards across the world, could have had such a poor judgement on the campaign.

H&M has since apologised, has recognised the concern and more importantly has admitted its failure. The jumper in question has been removed from sales and all images have been removed from their website.

I feel all of these are the first steps for H&M to try and build back brand loyalty and trust.  I think recovering trust amongst those who took offence probably requires more action than this, however it shows H&M has recognises an insensitive campaign – albeit a little too late.

 

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

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2018: A century on and another year of big change



While the event that comes to mind first and foremost for many when looking back 100 years to 1918 is the end of WW1, 1918 holds other key milestones – one of which will be celebrated up and down the UK over the coming few weeks: The Representation of the People Act 1918.

 

On 6th February 1918 the act passed electoral reform which would allow many returning soldiers, as well as women, to vote for the very first time. A massive milestone for women, it meant that 8.4 million females (but not all just yet, that’s a few years off!) could have a say in the country’s future.

 

As women, we’ve come a long way over the past 100 years – there are many milestones that I could (and I’m sure people will over the coming weeks) list out. And obviously I’m ultimately grateful to events from 100 years ago as it’s paved the way for many women, like me, to launch and grow successful businesses. However, I don’t want to focus this blog on women on boards, the perceived ‘glass ceiling’ or the gender pay gap though. Instead I want to look at the legacy that 2018 could leave.

 

The pace of change we’ve seen over the past 100 years is accelerating at a speed that would have been unimaginable even in the first decade of this century. Driven largely by technology, but also mass innovation, it’s impossible to compare the work environment of just 20 or even 10 years ago to that of 2018. And it’s simple – today’s businesses have to adapt, and quickly.

 

This year the media environment is going to change massively. In an era when there’s a big debate between freedom of speech and ‘fake news’ (thanks Donald) and the license to post whatever thoughts a person deems relevant on social media (ie in the public domain) with relatively no backlash, change is afoot. As every person is now technically a journalist able to report the news, I hope that the integrity of the more respected news outlets remains, without them bowing to advertising’s income too much. Meanwhile Google, Apple and Amazon continue to invest in original video content to hook people in, create differentiation and start to rival the bigger broadcasters.

 

The political environment is an ever moving beast too. Under President Trump, I’m in a horrific situation of almost feeling entertained by his Twitter account. I’m entertained (but probably in the wrong way), interested (that a President believes that the new era of politics is to dare and double dare another President), embarrassed (that I’ve resorted to following him in the way I occasionally would a Z-list celeb) and shocked. It’s 2018 and he’s already ripping up the rule book…could this be the way that politics is played out from now on? Could it?

 

Business-wise, Brexit continues to cause issues when companies can’t – or won’t – make buying decisions, unfortunately slowing things down. We work with several companies which import from the EU and I’m lucky to be in a position where I can hear their strategies, all of which are very different, but all aimed at buffering their business from the various political scenarios. In this area particularly I’m looking forward to coming out the other side.

 

Closer to home, as Refresh moves into its eighth year, we’ve geared ourselves up to deliver our most successful year to date. We’re lucky that as a company we can remain agile, and make changes happen quickly when needed (and we have). Yet it’s taken nine months of careful planning by a team of four directors here at Refresh to put in place the ‘new look’ Refresh which some clients have already been benefitting from over the past months, and others will be seeing shortly as we begin work on their 2018 campaigns. From a team of highly skilled consultants will come the best work we’ve ever been able to deliver, for big and small businesses alike. For clients, online content will be embedded into everything we do, together with inter-agency working to deliver clever and well thought out integrated campaigns.

 

And for me, I’m in a position where I consider myself more supported than ever by the fantastic team around me, which is a really simple thing to take for granted when you have it, but I’ll never stop being grateful for this, particularly given some past experiences. I focus strongly on making the right decisions which mean I can sleep at night – something that’s stood me in great stead so far and something I continue to pay close attention to.  We’re also here to make money – we want the team to get great bonuses and the pay increases that they deserve and I make no apologies for this, so a key focus is to work with clients which will genuinely grow with us, recognising our contribution to their growing success story. We’ll shortly be announcing four new clients which signed with us recently, allowing us to really kick 2018 off with a bang.  

 

Hot on the heels of being crowned the CIPR North West’s Outstanding Small Agency 2017, coming out of this key period of change has given Refresh a clear vision for 2018 and beyond – and we’re ready to run at 2018! It’s going to be an exciting year ahead; with small milestones of our own to reach - and then celebrate - throughout the year, I’m already looking forward to being part of this legacy!

 

 

 

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The changing face of the BBC



When looking for news that I can rely on to be acutely accurate and up to date, I will hold my hands up and say I’m a BBC kinda gal. Some prefer Sky, other prefer the online version of their favourite newspaper. But for me, the BBC – with its outstanding journalists, familiar tone of voice and truly British identity – is the ‘go to’ place for what’s happening in the world right now.

But of late (perhaps slowly over the last 12 months or so), I’ve noticed its content change quite significantly. And I’ll admit – I was worried.  

We all know the mainstream media has had to alter its reporting style and subjects in order to meet the changing demands of the readers, who are typically more inclined to check social media than pick up a newspaper in order to get their daily dose of current affairs. And when the public is now – apparently – more interested in the latest celebrity gaff caught on camera than what their elected politician is doing to improve living conditions in their local area, it’s understandable – even if not comprehendible – that the majority of news outlets would alter their priorities to suit this.

If you were to click on to the BBC website right now, you’d say: ‘yeah, and the BBC is no different’. Yesterday alone, there were stories on the top jokes from the Golden Globes, a countdown of phrases we have Donald Trump to thank for and a link to a piece on how to get yourself to the gym. Synonymous with the longstanding commitment the BBC has made to explore the hardest-hitting, breaking news from around the world? No, and not what we expect from the stalwart of British reporting.

But do a comparison of these BBC articles and their counterparts elsewhere in the world, and the difference is automatically clear. Rather than egging on the story to take it to its next level, the BBC instead simply reports the fact that such a ridiculous story is news in the first place. Its coverage is almost tongue in cheek, as if it’s questioning why these matters are in fact news in the first place.

While truth and accuracy are constantly in disrepute in the media world, the BBC is standing strong in its ability to deliver the news we need to know, and challenge us on what we THINK we need to know.

And while readership figures continue to drop amongst the newspapers that have dominated our shelves for decades, if, like me, you’re a BBC kinda gal, you’re probably going to stay that way for a very long time.

 

 

Tagged with: BBC, News, PR, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Refresh Reflects: Top Five Fails of 2017



Bloomers, blunders or just massive mess ups, here we see the people, brands and events that have made us cringe in 2017.

  1. Pepsi & Kendal Jenner – the nation reached for their Diet Coke and took to Twitter with their disgust surrounding Pepsi’s 2017 advert, which raised questions about racial insensitivities and trivialising demonstrations. The advert was pulled immediately but it still impacted Pepsi’s sales (oddly for the positive though!)    

  2. Dove – body wash that can turn a woman of colour white – where to start with this advertising fail? For a brand that has worked so hard to convey a body confidence message this was a huge step backwards

  3. Trump – tweeting the wrong Theresa May, the still unexplained covfefe and not forgetting his various questionable political decisions, we could have had a full category for Trump’s personal fails, but we don’t have that much time  

  4. Bake Off Tweet Gate – working in PR we know there is nothing more annoying than someone breaking an embargo, so when it is the star of the show it really is a head in hands moment

  5. United Airlines – for simply not realising that in this modern world, where everyone has a video recorder in their back pocket, the actions of your staff will impact on your brand. The video that surfaced of a passenger being physically dragged off a flight, simply because it was overbooked, impacted the airline’s brand equity, as well as sales

Tagged with: Creative Agency, Lifestyle, PR Agency Manchester

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Refresh Reflects: Top Five Songs of 2017



Luckily for us there are very few arguments over the radio or playlists in this office, but we do find a very eclectic mix playing through the speakers at Refresh HQ.
  1. Slow Hands, Niall Horan – the former One Direction star takes the top spot for Refresh PR. The song must feature on at least 50 per cent of our playlists
  2. Noel Gallagher, Holy Mountain – celebrating our Manc roots, MD Laura picked Noel Gallagher’s latest tune as her song of 2018
  3. New Rules, Dua Lipa – our head of B2B, Erin, brought the girl power with new artist Dua Lipa’s song
  4. Justin Bieber, Despacito – it had to appear somewhere and it was B2B manager, Ash, that voted for this catchy song
  5. Blossoms and Chase & Status, This Moment – again celebrating Manchester music, head of consumer, Caroline, voted for this summer anthem, continuing her love affair with the Stockport band

Tagged with: 2017, Lifestyle, music, North West , PR Agency Manchester, Songs, Top 5

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Refresh Reflects: Top Five Adverts of 2017



There’s nothing we love more than seeing how brands are representing themselves through the power of advertising. Here are our top ads of this year.

  1. Spotify – 2018 Goals – the only print ad campaign that made it on to the list, but Spotify’s clever use of its own data and people’s listening habits made us all laugh and possibly re-evaluate our own music taste (read all about our favourite songs of 2017 here )
  2. Peter Kay for Warburtons – it had everything; the comedy, drama and romance, not to mention the local relevance, nods to Peter’s previous adverts and delicious carbs!
  3. Aldi - Kevin the Carrot – continuing a winning formula with the second year of Kevin the Carrot, this time adding a bit more of a storyline to the little vegetable’s Christmas adventure  
  4. Google Pixel 2 – for unashamedly calling out the flaws of iPhones and highlighting how the Google alternative is far superior, it made it on the list for sheer bravery
  5. AA – iconic song, tick. Cute kid, tick. Clever CGI, tick. Three for three for AA this year!

Tagged with: 2017, Advert, Creative Agency, Lifestyle, PR Agency Manchester, TV

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Food for thought at the Construction Marketing Awards



We spend our working lives advising our clients how to utilise PR to benefit their business, but we have to admit, our own PR often takes a backseat. In agency life, no two days are the same and often a day starts at 9am with a to-do list that doesn’t even get touched due to other priorities that hit the inbox at 9.01am. This makes writing an award entry for ourselves – a task that can easily take a whole day – a challenge.

 

But every so often we try to enter some awards to showcase the campaigns that we deliver and gain a stamp of approval for the value that we add.

 

Award winning Refresh PR

 

This year the agency brought home two awards at the CIPR North West PRide Awards – and we’re still celebrating almost a month on. We have also recently been recognised as finalists for our work by the CIM, the B2B Marketing Awards and, most recently, at the CMAs in London last night.

 

Construction Marketing Awards (CMAs)

 

A sector that we specialise in at Refresh PR is the built environment. Construction PR has always been at the core of our business and over the years we’ve delivered many different campaigns that have won recognition from CIMCIG (that’s the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Construction Interest Group, which runs the CMAs). This year, despite travelling to RIBA in London for a 25 minute interview with the awards judges earlier in the year (potentially my shortest ever stay in London!) unfortunately we didn’t bring home the trophy.

 

We did however have a great night – what other award organisers would put Laura and Ash on a table with…another Laura and Ash? The dance floor was packed right up until the last song too - a fabulous testament to a room full of hard working marketeers letting their hair down just a little at the end of a long year.

 

Construction PR in 2018

 

So this leads us to predict what the coming year may bring. Personally, I’m hoping for a massive increase in the level of creativity in the sector. We’ve made great strides, but there’s still a long way to go. The sector still needs to effectively embrace the ways in which people consume news, so on our Christmas wish list this year we have:

-        More fun on social media – we’d like less cheese and fewer corporate posts, and more to engage those listening across the social channels  

-        Fewer leaflets – it’s shortly going to be 2018 everyone!! There are more effective – and environmentally friendly – ways to speak to your audience

-        More for the apprentices – let’s continue to make this a sector that people are proud to work in, where great work is rewarded with peer endorsements and promotion/referrals, and we may just help to narrow the skills shortage gap

-        Making the most of new channels – let’s see some Snapchat campaigns or Instagram stories, let’s embrace channels that can really reach our audiences…it’s what they’ve been designed for after all

-        A ban on colour seps – there’s no need to pay to get news into a trade title, if the quality of the news is good enough. Any decent PR agency will advise on the angle to take in order to get editorial (aka free) coverage. Colour seps existed when there was no digital printing, and it genuinely cost more to print a page in colour; now it’s purely a money making exercise. Question if a presence in a magazine that demands a colour sep fee is actually effectively reaching your target audience. Consider an editorial partnership with a magazine, utilising its different channels instead

-        Fewer grey suits – we don’t wear them, we don’t even own them, and we don’t think anyone else should have to

 

We’ll be presenting 2018 plans to a lot of our clients over a mulled wine or two in the coming month, and I’m looking forward to showing them all of the above, but most of all how this sector can be exciting, fun, challenging and brilliant to work in.

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment, Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Little Miss… SEO Superstar



The ultimate aim for anyone working in PR is to create and deliver campaigns that can reinvent themselves time after time after time, and never grow old. But in recent years, what’s happening with Google and its algorithms is dictating more and more of our work and to get it right, you have to think outside the traditional realms of ‘PR’.

One recent example came with the news that an addition is being made to the Little Miss and Mr Men book collection. The newest member of the family, Little Miss Inventor, is a polite nod and point of inspiration to young girls who might consider taking up STEM subjects in school.

It’s a clever move to both gain a new audience and re-engage an already loyal following, but also demonstrates the brand’s ability to mould its offering in line with current affairs, trends and an ever-changing audience, making itself always relevant.

You could argue the new character could’ve been anything – Little Miss Botox, Mr Protein Shake, Little Miss Vlogger – and it would’ve received as many headlines and column inches as Little Miss Inventor did. That might be true. But what the news HAS done, is got PR bods wondering to what extent this choice of character was a strategical decision in line with Google search terms?

Was it a coincidence that just a few days after the news broke on Little Miss Inventor, Philip Hammond announced a huge amount of investment into STEM in UK schools? The Chancellor revealed in his Autumn budget that schools are set to receive £600 for every student taking A Level maths, and more resource is to be allocated to technology departments.

Was it just by chance that they created a character in line with one of the most written about subjects in the world right now – the skills gap, and role of women, in STEM industries?

Was it just a fluke that Little Miss Inventor came at the same time as we’re being encouraged to support cottage industries, local suppliers and technological innovation, not just in our professional lives but in our personal lives too?

All of the above makes STEM one of the most searched for Google terms of recent years, and aligning a PR campaign with trends of this type makes for great organic SEO results – something brands the world over are trying to achieve – thanks to Google’s algorithms.

Type STEM into Google today, and what appears on Page 1? We’ll give you a few clues: She’s yellow, with green hair and a pencil behind her ear.  

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , creatiive agency Manchester, PR, SEO

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Please respect the power of PR



In our line of work we’re used to change, sometimes on a minute by minute basis – and change is good. But even by our industry standards, the past few months have been transformational in a number of ways.

 

Being passionate about PR and everything it can deliver for a brand or person, I keep reading dramatic (perhaps clickbait?) headlines declaring that PR is dead. PR will never be dead; it may evolve, morphing with other disciplines and regenerating itself – particularly as technology continues to force change – but PR has been around as long as records have been around, and it’s here to stay.

 

What other discipline could change opinion as quickly as an effective PR campaign can? Simply look at politics now: suddenly it’s cool to be a proud Labour supporter and in a lot of areas of the UK, embarrassing to outwardly express a pro-Tory opinion. And whether you agree or not, rightly or wrongly the Brexit campaign (and the coining of this word alone) was PR demonstrating its strength on a monumental scale.In the world of food and drink, who would have said it would be desirable for the middle class to proudly announce they shop at Aldi five years ago? And to be seen drinking Stella Artois? These brands reinvented themselves thanks to clever PR strategies.

 

PR helps to change opinion, reinforce a message, has the power to change the demographic purchasing a product, manages the message in times of a crisis…I could go on. My point is that PR is powerful. It isn’t dead! The tactics we use to cut through the noise and bring a message to the public’s opinion will continue to evolve quickly – for example this year we’ve done more work with micro influencers and Instagram ambassadors than ever before - but strategically most Company Boards see that PR is critical to a brand. It’s the strategic value that PR brings which shouldn’t be forgotten, or lost, in the debates circulating at the moment. PR is an investment not a cost.

 

And in times of a crisis, when the freedom of social media allows pretty much anyone to write pretty much anything about a company, and enable these comments gather pace second by second, what other tool in the marketing mix would be called upon to attempt to refocus the message and set the record straight? None.

 

 

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

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Refresh PR celebrates being shortlisted for industry awards!



What a year it has been so far at Refresh PR, with new clients, new team members and the CIPR outstanding small agency award win. But it doesn’t stop there, due to the team’s hard work Refresh PR has been nominated for, and won, a range of other industry awards.


Refresh PR’s Heating Installer Awards campaign was nominated for the best SME targeted campaign at The B2B Marketing Awards. The awards recognise the best in global B2B and we were excited to be recognised alongside giant brands including Vodafone, Samsung and Sage.

 

As well as scoping the outstanding small agency award win at the CIPR North West PRide event, we were also shortlisted twice for the corporate and business communications campaign, eventually taking home gold for our work on the 2017 Food Porn Awards.


Last but not least we have also been shortlisted for two CMAs (Construction Marketing Awards). These are for best use of press and public relations for our Window with A View campaign for our client, MyGlazing as well as PR agency of the year. The CMAs recognise marketing campaigns across the built environment industry, a sector we have years of experience in, so one we’re honoured to be recognised in. So watch this space to see if we’re crowned winners again across these industry awards.

 

 

Tagged with: , B2B PR agency Manchester , CIPR North West PRide, CMAs, Lifestyle, MyGlazing, North West , PR Agency Manchester

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How PR can make a difference to new businesses



Since Refresh PR launched eight years ago the team has successfully impacted its clients business, helping to build awareness and drive sales. But the businesses we’ve worked with have all been completely different and all come with various challenges and opportunities.

Recently, Refresh PR has worked with a number of start-up companies and in the process has learnt more about what it takes to help kick-start their business.

From the launch of Skinny Lager less than 12 months ago, which now has listings nationwide, to introducing Calla Shoes to the media, with a piece in the Mail Online increasing website visitors by 300 per cent – we’ve had huge success with these start-up businesses.

With all of our clients, the Refresh team immerses itself into the industry or sector they’re operating in, but with a start-up this is even more crucial. Often working with smaller teams, any insight or observation the team here at Refresh shares could not only make a difference to the PR success, but also the success of the business.

When starting a business it can often be difficult to know where to spend the marketing budget to make the biggest impact and ultimately provide the biggest ROI. So as part of our job as marketing professionals we take the consultancy role very seriously. If the business objectives can be achieved in a more effective way, other than PR, then we won’t be afraid of telling our client just that. Ultimately we want our client to succeed so we can grow with them.

Often with smaller in-house teams, start-ups rely on their agencies to be an extension of their business, even more so than a more established brand. This is one of the best parts about working with a start-up, as you can begin to see the genuine impact the team is having, across the board, not just in the marketing sector.

With a number of new start-ups, the world of PR and marketing is often completely foreign to them, as a number of these entrepreneurs don’t have this type of industry background. Again, this is one of the reasons we love working with start-ups here at Refresh – the education and support we can offer to make a genuine difference to a business.

Talking about the role Refresh PR played in launching the business, Stuart Cordingley of Gourmet Meat Club, said: “We started working with Refresh early on to help improve our SEO and generate brand awareness, ahead of a new website launch. In the six months we have been working with the team they have gone over and above the coverage delivery you’d expect from a PR agency, also acting as consultants across a wide range of marketing and business issues, helping to drive the launch forward.

“They’ve understood the needs of a new business and have become an extension of our internal team here at Gourmet Meat Club.”

If you are starting a new business, or would like to kick-start your current PR activity, then call 0161 871 1188.

 

Tagged with: Food & Drink, Health & Beauty, Leisure, Lifestyle, North West , PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester

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Social media – the dos and don’ts



Social Media is constantly developing and expanding, and it can be a tricky one to get right. The temptation to use it as a platform to promote your products and service can often lead to a lacklustre feed with minimal engagement. Here, we’re going to look at the golden rules of social media and how you can use it to maximise your business.

Sharing is caring

Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook et al are designed to share information. Whether it is quick snippets limited to 280 characters (we’re still not onboard with the character increase), or thought leadership articles hosted on LinkedIn, there are no limits to the content that can be shared to your following. It is important however that each piece of content shared is valuable to your audience. Throwing out product plug after product plug, however interesting you find it, will turn your followers off and create a stagnant account. Share industry news, relevant national news items, social trends and information your following will find valuable.

Engage

Twitter describes itself as ‘sparking a global conversation’, with conversation being the most important word here. There is no point in executing a social media campaign if you aren’t going to engage. Reply to tweets, express your opinion, ask open ended questions, even set up a poll; it is paramount you use social media to engage with your potential customers. Creating a relationship with potential customers is the first step to generating a sale, and this first connection can be made without leaving the comfort of your office.

Hashtags

You can’t expect people to stumble across your profile without promoting yourself. Whilst links directing people from your website will work at engaging current customers, using hashtags could generate new business. Whether it’s #Lipstick, #PlasticPlumbing or #StudentAccommodation, anyone using these search terms will be presented with your content, helping you widen your audience and build your following.

Tone of voice

From our experience, people think the social media platform dictates the tone of voice, meaning LinkedIn is full of formal jargon whilst a Twitter feed is littered with colloquialisms and GIFs. This leads to a confused company ethos and a disjointed tone of voice. The best way to determine how and what you write is by looking at your audience and adjusting accordingly. If you’re targeting potential investors, then Kim K memes are probably not best placed, across the board. Likewise, if you’re looking to engage with football fans or families, then a more colloquial term is more appropriate.

Images

A picture’s worth a thousand words has never been truer than on social media. Timelines are a very busy place and you need to use any tool possible to grab a user’s attention. Images achieve a higher engagement rate than plain text on social media and so are a vital tool to adopt. Whether it’s a photo to support and article, an infographic or a video, where appropriate use an image to see your content interactions increase. Moreover, Facebook rewards this content and so you will see your posts appearing above others, further increasing engagement.

Social media can be tricky to navigate, and with rules and trends changing so quickly it can be difficult to keep up. Investing a couple of hours a week in your social media offering will see you reap the benefits. If time isn’t an option, hiring an agency to provide expert guidance on your social media output will see you hit your key business objectives.

For more information on how Refresh PR can help your social media efforts, call: 0161 871 1188.

Tagged with: Facebook, PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign essential, Social Media, Twitter

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PR horror stories



October - the month that the majority of us now associate with Halloween due to its increasing popularity over recent years. It now dominates social media, from makeup tutorials to plumbing horror stories. Anyone and everyone can get involved, and because we didn’t want to feel left out, we compiled a list of some recent PR tales of terror. Be warned, some are very, very frightening…

1. Monarch - Earlier this month, Monarch, the low-cost airline left passengers stranded abroad. “Important! Monarch has stopped operating. Please do not go to the airport.”” read the message sent out by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The way Monarch handled the situation can only be described as horrific. It left employees and holiday makers heartbroken. After 49 years of flying tens of millions of passengers to Europe and beyond, Monarch seemed unable to communicate its situation not only to customers, but staff too. An email was sent to employees by Andrew Swaffield, the CEO, just days before the collapse, telling them to avoid speculation about the airline’s problems, giving many false hope. 

2. Uber - Earlier this month Refresh PR wrote a blog detailing the events surrounding Uber’s fate in London. It was brought to the attention of the public that it had not been conducting thorough background checks on its drivers and hasn’t been reporting criminal offenses directly to the police. Although Uber fought for its right to remain on the streets of London, its licence was denied renewal. Uber received overwhelming support on social media as many members of the public took to Twitter to declare their outrage. However, it goes to show even mass social media support sometimes isn’t enough. The decision led to terrifying PR for the firm. 

3. Dove - The beauty brand often recognised for its empowering campaigns found itself in a sticky situation when it uploaded a three second video on its US Facebook page. The video showed a black woman removing her top to reveal a smiling white woman underneath and was deemed racist by many. Dove received a huge amount of negative press as many were in shock that the company could go against its well established brand values of equality and inclusiveness. 

4. Misguided - The clothing store Misguided, a brand extremely popular with women and teenage girls, got itself into a PR crisis when it decided to put up a neon sign in its Bluewater store in Kent saying: ‘Send me nudes x’. Rachel Gardner, a youth worker, declared her disappointment with the sign, creating a petition for it to be taken down. 9000 people signed the petition, believing the sign promoted a negative culture and was very disrespectful. 

Although some of these PR fails are truly terrifying they did get people talking about the brand, which always begs the question - is any press good press?

Tagged with: PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign essential, PR Manchester, Public Relations

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CMA shortlist success for Refresh PR



For our B2B team, the Construction Marketing Awards are a highlight of the year. For one night, we get to celebrate the hard work put in over the year on our built environment clients, and now that the shortlist for this year's awards has been released, we're thrilled to say 2017 will be no different.

This year, Refresh PR has been shortlisted for 'Best use of Press & Public Relations' for our Window With a View campaign and ‘PR Agency of the Year’. 

Our Window with a View campaign, which we launched on behalf of our client myglazing.com, has been finding the best views across the UK for the last two years. We have generated great pieces of coverage throughout the campaign, whilst achieving results that were aligned with our client’s key business objectives.  

We are also incredibly proud to be shortlisted for ‘PR Agency of the Year’. With more than three decades of experience in built environment PR across our team members, we provide innovative and creative ideas, that drive results, for a range of clients within the construction sector. We're so proud to say this has been recognised by the CMA judges, and can't wait to see if we take any accolades home on the night. 

Congratulations to all those shortlisted!

You can view the full shortlist here: http://www.cmawards.co.uk/cma-2017-shortlist-announced/

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment, Manchester, PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Regeneration and Retrofitting in Manchester



Refresh PR specialises in built environment PR. From student accommodation and flooring, to plumbing and glazing, we have more than 30 years combined experience. 

As a Manchester based PR agency, we have witnessed the city’s regeneration over recent years, and it is something that interests us immensely. Yesterday we were lucky enough to attend the UKGBC (UK Green Building Council) Regeneration and Retrofit Task Group Report launch in Manchester, where a panel of industry experts from Clarion Housing Group, SmartKlub, UKGBC, GMCA and DCLG touched on different elements of regeneration in the housing market.

One important element of the talks was regarding the Government’s prioritisation of regenerating some of the most deprived areas in the country in order to improve levels of employment, health, connectivity and fuel poverty, as well as crime and antisocial behaviour levels. Whilst demolition and rebuild may work for some regeneration schemes, it will not be viable, wanted or appropriate for all and so retrofitting can be the best solution.

Some of the benefits of regeneration and retrofit discussed were:

Upskilling the community

Although one problem with retrofit regeneration, particularly in terms of energy efficiency, is the lack of trained workers available, this present the opportunity to upskill people. Often initiated in areas with a higher unemployment rate, the scheme hopes to train members of the community to complete the jobs, leaving a long term legacy. This will not only improve the immediate locality, but leaves long term benefits to the wider community.  

Representation of the community

Rather than tell a community what will be happening to their homes, the scheme works with householders to implement a scheme that will benefit their day-to-day lives. This generates a sense of ownership and encourages pride within the community, meaning the developments are more likely to be maintained and invested in further.

Zero carbon targets

The scheme works towards the government’s carbon targets to reduce emissions by 57% between 1990 and 2030. By installing a range of energy efficient upgrades, such as ground source heat pumps, solar panels and cavity wall insulation, the regeneration will aid in reaching governmental targets.

Whilst retrofitting upgrades into pre-existing properties are important, it is paramount that new developments, currently in construction stage, are designed and built to be zero carbon. Whilst it is difficult to execute, for example ground source heat pumps cannot be zero carbon until the footprint of the electricity grid is improved, implementing this technology at build stage will mean there is a reduced need for expensive retrofit schemes 10 years down the line.

To read the full executive summary, click here

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment, Manchester, North West , PR

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Does ethical PR equal good PR



In this fast moving industry where do we source our ethical guidance?

As marketing professionals it is our role to promote people, brands or companies, to change consumer behaviour – whether that is buying a product or voting for a politician. But with this power comes responsibility, as Bell Pottinger recently found out when it was removed from a leading industry body, following a campaign that the PRCA claimed spread racial hatred.

We also recently read about the TV advertisements which received the most complaints in 2017. One featuring a businessman twerking in high heels, another a kissing scene between a same sex couple and one which shows a mother telling her son about his dead father’s favourite  burger.

Whether you are offended by these ads or not, the point is that there is a regulator which is actively protecting UK consumers from misleading advertising or ones they find inappropriate. Whereas for PR the lines are not as clear-cut. 

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. 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? 

Here at Refresh PR we get our ethics from our people and our clients.

Firstly we only employ the best people across our built environment, food, drink and retail, leisure and lifestyle, and tech teams, professionals who are able to connect the dots between business objectives, current consumer behaviour and future trends to create campaigns that achieve impact for all the right reasons.

Secondly, we will only ever work with brands that we believe in and which are as transparent with us about their operations as we are with them. From low calorie alcohol and botanically based health and beauty to student accommodation and social enterprises, our clients are passionate about their products and providing the best to their customers.

Both of these factors mean that we rarely have to question the ethical impact of the work we’re doing and if we are ever unsure we simply change tack, for something equally as impactful but without any negative connotations.  

Tagged with: creatiive agency Manchester, Creative Agency, Marketing, PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign essential, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Teamwork Makes the Dream Work



Is the whole really greater than the sum of its parts?

Simply put, yes! Whether you believe the rule of seven or not, there is nothing more impactful than a campaign that communicates the same message to its audience across all of its platforms. Whether that’s a social media campaign that complements the print advertising, or a feature in a magazine that backs up the brand messages shared on its latest viral video – consistency is key.

It’s for this reason that we enjoy working with other agencies to create a ‘whole’ campaign that makes an impact and ultimately changes behaviour.

However, with so many creative brains around one table, inter-agency relationships can sometimes be challenging, as everyone champions their own discipline, often fighting for budget. The first step towards a harmonious working relationship is to always remember you’re all working towards the same goal – success for your client.

This means it is essential to know what that goal is right from the start of the campaign, so setting measurable objectives is a must. The objectives should cover the entire campaign, as well as individual goals for each specialism; this means everyone can focus on their own targets while celebrating each other’s success.

To ensure the correct targets have been set it is vital that each agency is open and honest about its own specialisms, what they are able to achieve and how this fits with the client’s objectives. The marketing mix exists because each element offers a different approach and impact – so maximise on these. A conversation early on about roles and responsibilities will lead to a much smoother campaign journey.

Once these roles and objectives are in place there is the opportunity to cut out the client, if required. Remember, your client is busy, they are not there to manage these inter-agency relationships, so take the initiative to set up your own conference calls or meetings – so everyone is up to date on progress, while strengthening the working relationship.

So when it comes to inter-agency relationships and campaigns just remember the four Cs – clarity, consistency, celebrate, communicate. 

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

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Sponsor the Heating Installer Awards - opportunities available



The Heating Installer Awards is back for 2018, and we have numerous sponsorship opportunities available for companies that want to be involved with this award winning campaign!

Established in 2015 to celebrate plumbers and heating installers who provide outstanding levels of service every day, but often go unrecognised, the awards has – for the last two years – shone a spotlight on heating installers who go the extra mile to make the industry special.

The Heating Installer Awards campaign secured recognition at the 2016 Construction Marketing Awards and most recently through the international B2B Marketing Awards, partly due to the benefits and return on investment enjoyed by the sponsors.

The 2017 campaign, which came to a climax at Installer2017 in May, brought about huge benefits for our sponsors:

 

       Direct marketing and engagement with more than 50,000 plumbing and heating installers

       Targeted social media campaigns to support sponsor events and product launches

       8,000 website visitors viewing sponsor news articles and content

       Brand mentions in broadcast, print and online press material, generating more than 8 million opportunities to see

In the third year of this campaign, we’re adding an extra element to the competition: Apprentice of the Month. Run entirely on social media, sponsoring this monthly recognition of outstanding plumbing and heating apprentices exposes young talent to your brand at the very start of their career.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available for both the Heating Installer Awards and Apprentice of the Month, with prices starting at £5,000 for 10 months of activity.


If you wish to hear more about packages available and how we can use the awards’ presence in the industry to promote your brand, please email awards@refreshpr.co.uk or call 0161 871 1188. You can also visit www.heatinginstallerawards.co.uk for more information.

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment

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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 built environment organisations, your supply chain, members, installers and retailers 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 built environment brands 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 built environment, certain areas are particularly pertinent:

Personalisation

Personalisation is key in many digital marketing campaigns and today, is expected by users. For you, it could be tailoring the web journey to make it easier for installers to buy their previously bought items again. Or providing bespoke incentives to suppliers you want to extend contracts with. 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 an industry that is becoming increasingly digitally-focused, web analytics are pivotal to success in the built environment industry. 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 elements of the supply chain use artificial intelligence; whether to demonstrate how in-progress developments will look and feel when complete, or to tailor online purchasing systems to make transactions of materials quicker and easier. 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.

If you want to understand more about GDPR and need our help, get in touch and we’ll explain how it will affect your business from next year.

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment

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International ‘National Day’ Week



With everyday bringing with it a new national or international day – has it gone too far?

 

This week is National Chocolate Week, National Curry Week and World Egg Day and as delicious as these sound, are they really likely to make you eat more chocolate, curry or eggs (like we need an excuse anyway)?

 

Which makes me wonder, are we just having these days for the sake of it? An excuse for marketers to create some fancy content linking to it in the hope that the hashtag is trending.

 

But also this week we had World Mental Health Day (Tuesday 10th), a day that tries to break the taboo around mental health and encourage people to talk about it openly. Unlike its foodie counterparts, this day really does have the potential to, at worse, raise awareness of the issue and, at best, change social behaviour in the long term.

 

World Mental Health Day saw a flurry of celebrities, journalists and influencers talk openly about mental health issues they’ve experienced in the past and post on their social channels and beyond that it’s OK to not be OK – a powerful message that hopefully resonated with anyone suffering.

 

The day also saw Kate Middleton’s return to the spotlight for the first time since announcing her pregnancy, at a royal event for the awareness day, demonstrating how centre stage the event was in the social calendar.

 

So in between the National Talk Like Pirate Day, National Chip Week and British Sandwich Week, there are some events that are making us take notice of the important issues in life (although who doesn’t love a chip butty).

 

So let’s continue to recognise World Mental Health Day, International Women’s Day, Foster Care Fortnight and all the other national days and weeks that are putting important issues at the forefront.

 

 

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

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The future of Uber: will it crash and burn?



It has recently come to light that Uber, the taxi firm, will be fighting a decision made by Transport for London, to strip it of its licence. It was concluded last week that Uber has not been conducting thorough background checks on its drivers and hasn’t been reporting criminal offenses directly to the police.

The Uber chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, said he was sorry for the "mistakes we've made” and has admitted that the company needs to change its ways. However, its license is set to expire on the 30th September. The Mayor of London has acknowledged the apology but with London being the company’s biggest market in the UK, the main question on my mind is, has Uber completely damaged their reputation? Will it be able to overcome this hurdle, or will the brand image be tarnished forever?

What will make or break the firm will be the way in which it reacts and responds to the issues that it faces. It needs to ensure that it is being proactive in making a change in its actions. It must reassure the public that the same mistakes will not be made again as many customers may not feel safe getting into their taxis due to the reported increase in incidents of sexual assault by Uber drivers.

However, using the power of social media, it could be suggested Uber may be able to turn the situation around. It has begun a petition to “Save your Uber in London” and has already received 720K votes, suggesting the firm still has support from the public.

It has focused greatly on social media to appeal to the public, conducting a variety of tweets. It could be argued it is trying to play into the hands of the public by appealing to emotions, as it tweeted that 40,000 drivers risk losing their jobs and livelihood. The public have been engaging with social media to express their opinions about the issue.

It is interesting to question whether or not this situation has brought to light flaws in the company structure or, has it made people realise how crucial Uber is in their day to day lives?

The public response has been mixed, however, a recent article by the Evening Standard has suggested that Londoners are against the TfL decision. An analysis of a variety of social posts found that more than 51,000 online conversations have shown that 64% were against the decision and 25% were in favour.

It has been argued that it will be a major lifestyle change for those who have relied on the service for getting to work and could potentially impact the economy. This makes me question our moral stance: are we willing to put our ethics on the back burner for convenience? Rather than focusing on Londoners’ safety are we focusing on the practicalities?

It is clear that Uber has said all the things that we want to hear and has gained a lot of support from the public, but the next few weeks will be critical for the firm. It must show us that it is changing its ways before it reaches a point of no return. If it does manage to overcome the ruling it may be great PR for the firm as it shows just how much the public love them. And that is the best brand advocacy that money can’t buy.

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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 potentiall