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Two more wins for the Refresh PR team at the Construction Marketing Awards



It’s been another successful year for Refresh PR at the Construction Marketing Awards as we walked away with two new additions to our trophy cabinet, including: 

 1. Best campaign under £25k (Uponor)

 2. Best Small Agency

 

Construction PR has always been at the core of our business and our decades of experience has truly allowed us to get under the skin of our clients and become fully immersed in their businesses. We pride ourselves on planning and executing hard-hitting campaigns for our clients that create real results and it was fantastic to have this recognised by the Construction Marketing Awards.

 

Alongside our two wins, Refresh PR was shortlisted for six other awards on the night including:

- Strategic Planning & Management (Uponor)

- Best use of Press & Public Relations (MyGlazing.com)

- Best use of Press & Public Relations (Uponor)

- Best campaign under £50k (MyGlazing.com)

- Best over £50k campaign (Eurocell)

- PR Agency of the Year

 

It’s clear 2019 has been a success but what are our predictions for 2020?

 

Sustainability – we have seen an increase in manufacturers wanting to promote their green credentials as opposed to pushing products, something we believe we’ll see much more of in 2020. With carbon targets and more eco-conscious consumers than ever before, it’s never been more important to consider your impact on the planet.

 

More integration – cross agency activity isn’t a new concept but we’ve noticed it becoming more and more frequent and it’s something we love to do. Rather than be a jack of all trades, agencies are specialising in their chosen discipline and working together to create strong results for their clients.

 

Breaking the mould – in what is a very traditional sector, we’ve seen some truly innovative campaigns at the CMAs and each year, they’re getting increasingly creative. We always create campaigns that cut through the noise and get people talking within the industry which is why we achieved eight shortlists and two wins this year!

 

With the shortlists and wins, Refresh PR cements its place as one of the UK’s leading construction agencies on the national league table and we’d like to take this opportunity to thank our clients for believing in our ideas and allowing us to do the work we love, every day.

 

Want to talk to us about how we can help you and your business? Give us a call on 0161 871 1188 to speak to one of the Refresh PR team.

 

 

 

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

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Anti-aging Gin to viral adverts – our favourite PR campaigns over the last 10 years



During Refresh’s lifetime we’ve seen some memorable and exciting campaigns come from a whole host of sectors. In honour of our 10th birthday, we’re looking back at the ones which have really resonated with us.

 

Deliveroo – the Friends trifle

In May 2018, to celebrate the 14th anniversary of the episode airing, Deliveroo added the famous Rachel Green trifle to its service. The delivery company partnered with pop-up restaurant, Regina Phalange (if you know, you know) to serve one dish and one dish only – The Meat & Sweet Trifle.

 

Containing lady fingers, jam, custard, raspberries, beef sautéed with peas and onions, bananas and whipped cream, the trifle replicated the classic dessert cooked up by Rachel for the gang’s Thanksgiving dinner.

 

But what was the result for Deliveroo? Well, as you can image, the news of the trifle going on sale went far and wide – despite the company only serving up the sweet, meat treat in London. Even though fans were dubious about how the trifle would taste, Deliveroo received a record number of orders. The campaign is a perfect way to represent how a business understands its audience – using a pop culture reference to tap into the audience and get the message of the service out to them.

 

Warner Leisure Hotels – Anti-aGIN

Warner Leisure Hotels’ Anti-aGin was said to include collagen and a variety of antioxidants and skin-healing botanicals which would reduce cellulite and sun damage – perfect for anyone on their holiday.

 

The campaign attracted attention from national print media, radio, and TV leading to the gin selling out online in a mere 24 hours. 

 

It has to be noted that there is no real evidence that the gin actually has any real benefits, but the stunt certainly garnered attention for Warner Leisure Hotels in a fierce and competitive market. It accumulated a massive number of sales in the hotel bars as well. The campaign is a key example of a brand generating buzz from something outside the realms of its core product offering to appeal to a wider audience.

 

Klarna – House of Klarna

After announcing 50,000 new Klarna customers a week are choosing ‘Pay later’ at retailer checkouts, and with over 12 million transactions in the past year alone, Klarna hit the high-street with over 27 of the best retail brands in the UK. For 10 days, Klarna took up residence in the heart of Manchester’s city centre with an immersive and playful retail space for shoppers, transforming the bricks and mortar experience into pure joy.

The “House of Klarna” kicked off with a VIP launch party attended by regional stars, before welcoming the public a day later. The three-storey house transformed into the home of the best of fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands including: ASOS, Oliver Bonas, Topshop, Topman, House of Holland, Missguided, BEAUTY BAY, My Protein and Schuh.


Not only this but the company hosted fashion and lifestyle events, beauty treatments, live DJs and a Klarna Kafé offering free sodas and coffee. It became massive on Instagram soon after opening its doors attracting the attention of its key target audience, millennials. 
The pop-up put Klarna on the map in Manchester, raising its brand awareness and showcasing it as the cool, vibrant company that understands the interests of the people using its services. Who said payments have to be boring?

 

ASB – Auckland Open dog ball boys

For its ASB Classic international tennis tournament in Auckland, New Zealand bank ASB put on a match like no other.

 

It gathered the best ball boys in the world to take part in the game between Venus Williams and Svetlana Kuznetsova, unbeknown to all the attendees, these ball boys were actually canine tennis ball fanatics: Oscar, Ted, and Super Teddy.

 

This charming and light-hearted campaign brought a different approach to the game and shone a light on the bank’s friendly and humorous side.

 

Tate & Lyle – edible hotel

In 2013, sugar company, Tate and Lyle, invited guests to eat through its life-size hotel made entirely of cake and other baked goods.

 

Whether you wanted to eat meringue rugs, fudge windowsills, or cake pillows, guests headed to Soho to dine out on the creation which took 14 artists 2,000 hours, 900 hours of decorating and 600 kilos of sugar to construct.

 

The hotel was built to promote a new range of golden and brown cane sugars from Tate and Lyle and inspire others to get creative in the kitchen. The businesses looked at not what it was but what it could do and sparking the imagination of others.

 

ASOS – Tinder dress

After being trolled on Tinder for wearing an ASOS dress, one girl took to Twitter to vent her frustrations, gaining 101,000 likes and 8000 retweets. Being quick off the mark, ASOS soon turned the girl in question’s picture into the model example on its website. Later, it posted the image on Twitter telling users to “swipe right to see who had the last laugh” sparking 3,500 retweets and 24,300 likes. 

 

Being dubbed a hero and sporting women’s empowerment, ASOS gathered hundreds of pieces of coverage, mentions, and brand engagement off something as simple as changing an image on its website. A small gesture by the company but gaining massive results.

 

Ikea – Classic TV show living-rooms

As part of its new UAE campaign, Real Life Series, Ikea designed the living rooms from The Simpsons, Friends, and Stranger Things, with furniture entirely from Ikea.

 

The rooms were displaced across the Middle East with replications even being shown in its stores. What’s more, Ikea tagged all of the products featured in the designs to ensure those seeing the image could quickly click a purchase – raising sales and streamlining the purchase process.

 

Virgin Holidays – Holiday Spirit

Virgin Holidays partnered with IBM’s Watson – the world’s most intelligent super computer – to analyse the thoughts and feelings of more than 15 million holidaymakers’ social media posts to develop a rum which tasted like a holiday.

 

The spirit sold out in all nine of Virgin’s V-room retail stores bringing in a huge amount of revenue for Virgin and adding another string to the giant’s bow.

 

CALM – male statues

CALM, the charity that works to prevent male suicide, added 84 male-suicide statues to the top of the ITV Tower in 2018. The statues, which featured male mannequins with hoods pulled over their faces, was part of the charity’s Project 81 aiming to raise awareness of the number of men who take their own life each week in the UK.

 

The purpose of the campaign was to stop people in their tracks and bring those suffering alone into the centre spotlight. Following this, CALM partnered with Change.org to set up a petition to put pressure on the government to make a real change and support these men who so desperately needed it.

 

As a result of the campaign, CALM met 80% of user sign up of the previous year in just three days, 36,000 Twitter mentions, and 2.1 billion pieces of earned media. There are also now 256,000 signatures on the petition which was taken to Number 10.

 

John Lewis – not a retail store

There’s no denying it, the John Lewis Christmas advert release date is one of the pinnacle moments of the year, receiving thousands of tweets, mentions, pieces of media coverage, and opinions each year. But, for poor American John Lewis, it’s the day his Twitter feed gets busier than any other day of the year.

 

John spends a lot of his time replying to angry and confused customers who tweet him thinking he’s the retail store and has become a cult icon on the internet. So, seeing John’s dedication to going above and beyond to direct disgruntled tweeters to the right Twitter handle, the retailer gave John his very own Christmas ad. Dubbed ‘not a retail store’ the advert saw John replying to tweets of customers asking questions. Also, as a bonus for his namesake, the internet star receives a Christmas present off the retail giant each year.

 

Not only did the online ad go viral, but it cemented John Lewis’ place in the retail market as a store which cared about each and every person who interacted with it.

 

 

Have any different thoughts on what should have made the grade? Why not tweet us your favourite campaign of the last 10 years at @RefreshPR or comment below. Stay tuned for more blog posts in the lead up to our birthday celebrations. 

 

 

 

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

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What are the top 10 changes in our world over the last 10 years?



The countdown to our 10th Birthday party is well and truly on and to celebrate, we’ve taken a look back to see what’s changed since we first started a decade ago. Here are our top 10 changes over the last 10 years:

 

Climate change is now being taken seriously

Over the past 10 years, the frequency of extreme weather such as hurricanes, earthquakes and floods has continued to increase to the point where it’s now become normality. This, alongside activism from the likes of Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion has helped to turn climate change into one of the biggest talking points of 2019. As a result, most people are now taking climate change much more seriously than in 2009 and it’s even been a key discussion point of the General Election.

 

Smart homes have evolved

At Refresh, two of our biggest passions are tech and construction so we get very excited about smart homes which combine the two sectors. Smart homes have evolved over the last 10 years and they now provide a range of benefits including improved security by alerting people to intruders and ensuring homes aren’t expending unnecessary energy to help people to live in more environmentally friendly ways. With current home automation trends including smart thermostats for underfloor heating and remote video surveillance, we’re excited to see what the future holds for smart homes.  

 

Smartphones have taken over

The iPhone was only a couple of years old in 2009 with more people opting for a BlackBerry as their go-to phone. Fast forward 10 years and whilst blackberries have gone back to being just a fruit, Apple and smartphones, in general, have really taken over with more than three billion people now using one worldwide. Having a personal computer in our pocket gives us constant access to entertainment and information which has changed not only our personal lives but also the way we work.

 

24-7 availability

Whilst the evolution of smartphones has made much of day to day life easier and more convenient, it also means that many of us are now available 24/7. This can, at times, be a positive, particularly in our industry where we’re required to monitor the news agenda as we (in theory) can now react at any time, securing coverage for our clients. However, not being able to switch off with emails, texts and phone calls bombarding constantly bombarding us can have a negative impact on wellbeing and mental health and has blurred the lines between home and work.

 

Social media has evolved

Back in 2009, Facebook had just 150 million users, Bebo was still big and Twitter was only just taking off. Social media has changed significantly since then and now plays a key role in almost all of our client’s marketing and PR strategies. With 330 million users on twitter, 610 million users on LinkedIn and 2.45 billion people now on Facebook, social media offers a fantastic opportunity for companies to reach and connect with a range of existing and potential customers. It’s not always all plain sailing though as anyone can now become a critic so crisis management must be a key part of any social media strategy.  

 

The rise of influencers  

As social media has grown over the last 10 years, bringing people together online, it has paved the way for the rise of influencers who have an often-significant impact on a business’s target audience. Influencers, in the form of bloggers, analysts, industry experts or individuals who are well known and trusted by potential customers, have begun to play a key role in helping companies to spread their messages and provide credibility over the past few years. We’ve seen some great results using influencers for our clients but each influencer must be thoroughly vetted first to ensure they will deliver the required results.

 

More and more content  

Content has always been a crucial part of any marketing and PR plan but as the wants and needs of audiences have changed over the last 10 years, those in marketing and PR have had to adapt. When it comes to content, just drafting press releases is no longer enough and in 2019, we produce a wide range of materials for our clients including blogs, infographics, social media content, case studies, videos and whitepapers, each part being of a clear strategy to achieve a certain goals for the business.

 

Getting to and from meetings

Meeting with our clients is crucial to enable us to catch up, present the results from the month and plan for the month ahead. In 2009, if we were driving to visit a client, we would probably have used an old school map or maybe a TomTom GPS. We now can’t imagine getting to a meeting without the turn-by-turn spoken directions provided by apps such as Google Maps and Waze on our phones. When it comes to getting the train to meetings, however, services seem to be becoming more expensive but often less reliable (we're talking about the service AND the wifi here)!

 

PR has become more measurable

One of the great things about digital PR is that it’s provided us with more data to be able to measure tangible results. Ten years ago in Refresh PR's infancy, we were just starting off with our first link building campaigns for two major ecommerce clients. However with the advent of major Google algorithm updates across the decade (Penguin and Panda being two we particularly enjoyed), this work has become a lot more technical and meaningful, in turn allowing us access to even more robust metrics from which we can absolutely prove our worth. We can now use a variety of outcome measurements such as website traffic, leads, social engagement and search rankings to prove the value of the work we do.

 

Refresh PR went from start-up to a multi-award-winning agency

It’s hard to believe but 10 years ago Refresh PR was just start-up business in our MD Laura’s living room. We’ve spent the past decade building a committed team of PR specialists at our Manchester city centre office with a wide range of experience and expertise across our three core sectors: the built environment, tech and food and drink. We’re now a multi-award-winning agency and we were recently shortlisted for eight National Construction Marketing Awards 2019, capping a hugely successful 10 years – here’s to another decade!   

 

 

 

Tagged with: #RefreshTurns10, B2B PR agency Manchester , Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Another success story for Eurocell’s Future of Homes campaign



To finish off our blog series on this year’s Construction Marketing Awards, we’ve written about our work with Eurocell on the Future of Homes campaign. In this blog we talk through the campaign to help explain why it repeatedly achieves award shortlists.

 

To address the housing shortage and ensure that the housing stock deficit is erased, the UK needs to build 340,000 new homes every year until 2031, and it’s critical that these homes meet the needs and demands of future homeowners.

 

To gain insight into this, we worked with Eurocell to survey 1,000 25-40-year old renters and homeowners to investigate their views on the subject. The findings were then displayed in a digital, downloadable whitepaper hosted on Eurocell’s website, which also incorporated the thoughts of leading architects who participated in a roundtable discussion to analyse the findings.

 

The Future Homes campaign achieved strong media interest in highly specialist titles, positioning Eurocell as a leading authority on a range of key subjects and creating new opportunities to establish relationships with architect practices.

 

We’re really proud of this one and we’re looking forward to seeing if it can claim the title of best Big Budget Campaign at the CMA’s awards ceremony in November.

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment

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The sky is the limit for Refresh PR and Uponor!



Last week we announced that Refresh has been shortlisted for eight Construction Marketing Awards, making 2019 the best in the company’s history in terms of CMA’s!

 

Kicking off our blog this week, we’re looking at Uponor’s ‘The Sky’s the Limit’ campaign which has been shortlisted for three CMA’s this year: Strategic Planning & Management, Best use of Press & Public Relations and Best Low Budget Campaign.

 

In January 2019, Uponor appointed Refresh to accelerate the company’s brand awareness.

 

We started out by holding a strategy development session with the Uponor senior team, then followed it up with further research and creative development in order to create 'The Sky's the Limit' campaign. The campaign utilised independent research among Uponor's target audience to identify key trends and issues in high rise construction in order to create a compelling PR story driven by a piece of 'hero' content on Uponor’s website: 'The Sky's the Limit' whitepaper.

 

Designed to deliver top-level, issues-based and opinion-led content to encourage engagement and debate, the campaign delivered clear results, including backlinks in media coverage, downloads of the whitepaper and direct leads generated through a download of the whitepaper.

 

Both Refresh and Uponor are both thrilled to see the campaign being recognised by the CMA’s by being shortlisted for three different awards and look forward to seeing if they can go the whole way on 28th November!

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment, Construction PR, creatiive agency Manchester, High Rise PR, Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign essential, PR for specifiers and architects, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Window with a View gets shortlisted for Best use of Press & Public Relations and Best Mid-Range Budget Campaign



As you may have seen last week, Refresh PR has been shortlisted for EIGHT Construction Marketing Awards, making 2019 a personal best for the company in terms of CMA’s! Today on our blog we’re going to be delving into the Window with a View campaign we’ve been working on with MyGlazing.com, the consumer arm of the Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF).

 

Refresh has been working with GGF for a number of years, and has worked on the Window with a View competition for the past four years. This year the competition, which invites members of the public to embrace their inner photographer and capture any particularly impressive window and view, involved changes to make it bigger and better than ever.

 

This year the competition moved from being solely held on MyGlazing.com’s website, to involve its social channels at both entering and voting stages. This raised awareness of the organisation on social media, as well as prompting a spike in number of entries for the 2019 competition.

 

In late July a panel of photography, architecture, marketing and glazing professionals met to judge the hundreds of images that the public had submitted, resulting in a winner for each of the 11 regions across the UK. These regional winners, and the competition in general, led to record numbers of pieces of coverage across regional and national titles, which in turn led to an intense few weeks of voting for a national winner on the MyGlazing.com website, Twitter and Instagram pages.

 

In early September 2019, the national competition closed and Arundel Castle was announced as the national winner of the Window with a View 2019 competition, again providing MyGlazing.com with coverage across a number of regional and national titles.

 

Both Refresh and MyGlazing.com are over the moon that the competition and its success has been recognised by being shortlisted twice for the Construction Marketing Awards, for Best use of Press & Public Relations and Best Mid-Range Budget Campaign. We’re all looking forward to the ceremony on 28th November - wish us luck!

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , backlink building, Built Environment, Built Environment PR, Construction, Construction Marketing Awards, Construction PR, North West , online PR, PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR award winner, PR campaign essential, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Eight Construction Marketing Award shortlists for Refresh PR



It’s a very happy Monday at the Refresh PR office. We’re celebrating after being shortlisted for not just one, but two agency gongs at the 2019 Construction Marketing Awards (CMAs) – in the Small Agency of the Year and PR Agency of the Year categories.

 

CMA awards

That’s alongside another SIX nominations for campaigns with our clients Uponor, MyGlazing.com and Eurocell!

Entries are judged on criteria such as consistent high performance, having delivered client satisfaction, met client objectives and demonstrating a strong culture of creativity and originality.

 

Our MD, Laura Mashiter, said: “The CMAs, run by the Chartered Institute of Marketing, showcase the commitment, strategic thinking and creativity that sits behind the UK’s most successful construction marketing and communications campaigns. They’re the gold standard so it feels wonderful to be recognised once again – particularly as we approach our tenth anniversary in business. The night provides a chance to look back on the successes of the past 12 months and give our team (and our fantastic clients) the recognition they deserve for being amongst the hardest-working and PR folk in the business.

 

We can’t wait for the ceremony on 28th November. Watch this space!

 

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 set to be even bigger. 

 

 

 

Tagged with: #CMA19, B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment, Built Environment PR, Construction, Construction awards, Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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3 things we learned from UK Construction Week: day three



And, just like that, it’s over! The third and final day of this year’s UK Construction Week certainly did not disappoint.

Importantly, today was World Mental Health Day. The entire event showed its support for this vital initiative – and not just at the designated wellbeing zone.

Getting materialistic

Materials. They’re at the very core of built environment projects – but ongoing conversations around sustainability mean that it has perhaps never been more important to consider the environmental impact that materials can have. It was encouraging to see the issue being taken seriously in a talk by Natasha Watson, a senior structural engineer who highlighted her belief that you can always find a way to reduce the impact of the materials you use, but that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution.

The session chimed with many other talks this week, that have zoned in on the importance of sector unity in the face of the climate emergency, and the critical role we have to play in tackling it. Watson stated: “we can start solving these issues with collaboration and new ways of thinking.” It’s an important message and one that resonated with the audience.

The future of skills

Talk turned to skills this afternoon, with a panel discussion on the ever-present need for businesses to recruit and retain qualified teams. The skills crisis is, of course, not limited to the construction sector alone, but it’s certainly started to bite a little harder in the past few years. Just this week, Randstad revealed that Brexit has created recruitment slump across the sector this summer, with fewer than half of jobs being filled due to parliamentary uncertainty. It was therefore an apt seminar, which included contributors such as Liz Male of the eponymous consulting firm and Sarah Beale of the CITB.

As promised, the team delivered a whole host of practical ways that businesses can tackle the skills crisis head-on – leaving the audience members (including myself!) feeling inspired to put their tips into action back at the office.

The workplaces of the future

The changing face of the traditional “office” has become a central point for discussion in recent years, specifically for the construction industry. Flexible working and the growing number of entrepreneurial digital businesses (that can operate from anywhere with a WiFi connection) are changing the face of town centres and business districts as we know it. 

Architects, planners and developers must therefore dramatically reassess how to design these spaces; that’s to say, with the agility and flexibility required to meet the needs of our future workforce. Disruptors in this space have come in the form of co-working offices such as WeWork and pop-up marketplace Appear Here – both of which fundamentally change how buildings are used by their occupants.

It’s something that was explored in depth on the Main Stage in a session entitled “Future-proofing town centre and workplace: what buildings do organisations need and want?”

The panel included experts from Google, John Lewis and Grimshaw Architects and it was fascinating to hear from some of the biggest names in the field discussing how the sector can create places and communities that thrive. As we have seen throughout the event, a lot of time and effort is – quite rightly - focused on the tech and digital solutions that will drive innovation in coming years. But it will be equally important to ensure the industry designs for people; after all, what is the point of built environment projects if not to improve the lives of those engaging with them?

Key takeaways

There may be weary feet aplenty heading out of the NEC this evening – but it’s safe to say that everyone has come away with a greater understanding of the key issue at stake across the entire construction sector. We are still sad that we didn’t win the Peaky Blinders gin competition…but we’ll have to live with it.

Here’s our three key learnings from day three of the conference. Bring on 2020!

·         The climate emergency can only be solved if the industry comes together as a whole and develops new ways of tackling it

·         The skills crisis is only what you make it – you need to ensure that HR works harder for your business

·         We must design and build to ensure future communities are not just created – but thrive

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment, Construction

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UK Construction Week 2019 day two: what we learned



Day two dawns at UK Construction Week and there was a huge buzz around the keynote speaker of the day – construction minister Nadhim Zahawi. Much of the discussion yesterday centred around the importance of regulation when it comes to tackling issues such as sustainability and changes to process following the Grenfell disaster, so Zahawi naturally commanded a crowd.

Top of the government’s current agenda is, of course, the housing crisis – something that was discussed in great detail by a panel led by the BBC’s Steph McGovern in “The Housing Crisis will never be solved, unless…”

Pressures from ministers to deliver 300,000 new homes a year is undoubtedly an optimistic target, which is hampered by constraints such as land provision, planning, quality design, energy efficiency expectations, dropping sales prices, skills and workforce shortage and Brexit. It was therefore intriguing to hear from experts on what they feel are the most valuable solutions to the crisis as we head into the 2020s.

Sustainability

Sustainbility: the word on everyone’s lips – including those of George Clarke, who has been a brilliant host of the event so far. He has partaken in many a selfie and is still smiling!

In his session on “Heat pumps, sustainability and MMC” the celebrated architect highlighted how heat pumps and modern methods of construction will be two critically important methods by which the UK can reach – and exceed – its CO2 reduction targets. Alongside a spokesperson from Mitsubishi Electric, he explored the responsibilities of the UK housing supply chain when it comes to addressing the climate change disaster.

What was clear is that robustly considering the environment is more important in construction now than ever, and it’s up to the industry to stand up, be counted and do better every day.

Mental health and wellbeing

This year, there is a real focus on mental health issues within the sector. It’s an incredibly important issue; recent statistics from the ONS show that male construction workers are three times more likely to commit suicide than the average male. The reasons for this are multifaceted but long working hours and concerns around the current instability of the sector and future job security are all said to contribute.

A number of talks are exploring the problem, for example “Enhancing workplace environments for mental wellbeing and neurodiversity” which looks at how construction organisations can recognise those with “neurodiversity” – that’s to say a condition such as autism or ADHD – how it’s often linked to poor mental health and how to make practical changes to accommodate.

The event is also being supported by Every Mind Matters, an NHS and PHE-backed campaign that champions mental wellbeing in the workplace. It’s such an important initiative so it was great to see a busy stand and people getting on board with the message.

Key takeaways

It’s been another day of incredibly insightful sessions (not to mention some of the most creative and engaging merchandise we’ve ever seen on stand. Top marks to Storage on Site and their bright yellow “SOS” tote bags and Quinn BP’s adventures in green screen!)

TL;DR – here are the three top takeaways from day two!

·         To address climate change, the industry must come together and be brave

·         Construction must no longer be a “tough man’s industry” – mental health and wellbeing should be taken as seriously as any other physical ailment

·         The industry cannot alone solve the UK housing crisis – it needs support from a wide range of stakeholders to truly improve lives

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment, Public Relations

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UK Construction Week 2019 day one: what we learned



Day one of the UK’s largest built environment event was – naturally – full of expert insights and important conversations from across the sector. It’s a key date in the calendar for a reason; the event seeks to shine a light on the most vital issues and opportunities faced by the industry – from architects and specifiers to housebuilders, contractors and everyone in between.

This year, the theme is innovation and there is certainly a clear focus on the future. In essence, how can we come together to make the construction industry more profitable, more productive and more sustainable in the coming years? And what can we do about it right now?

Digitise or die

One of the first talks of the day addressed this head-on, with architect George Clarke leading a discussion on the solutions that will transform the way we build, increase profitability, deliver projects faster, safer - all without having to compromise on quality.

Entitled: “Are you being left behind? Capitalising on innovation and disruptive change,” the slot saw Clarke being joined by leaders from forward-thinking organisations such as Big Innovation Centre and Construction Blockchain Consortium. All emphasised the rapid speed at which the sector is evolving and how important it will be for every single business within it to keep pace with the change. 

Although not necessarily a new topic, it was great to see how well the audience engaged with the issues raised and showcased why digital transformation is on everybody’s minds.

As Felipe Manzatucci, director of digitalisation at Skanska UK, highlighted later in the day: “Construction is one of the least productive industries in the UK. If you want to stay in the game, digitise.”

Zoning in

And speaking of innovation, the newly-created Innovative Zone provided an inspirational look at the disruptive businesses that are creating genuine change within construction. As organisers highlight, the aim is to show how innovation can create new value in the industry and stop the short-term, purely cost-driven ‘race to the bottom.’

This came across strongly when visiting stands such as JCB Industrial. It’s a business that has been around for decades but has its sights very much on the future of construction, using technology (such as its new “Hydradig” excavator) to improve efficiency and productivity across the board.

A number of other launches were also on show, such as the debut of Platform Design Programme - a project that encourages innovation in offsite construction for a range of projects, including schools, hospitals and prisons.

Offsite

One launch that garnered a good deal of attention was a unique, curved eco-building with a green roof. Exhibited by manufacturer, Green King, it formed just one small “pod” of an entire building structure – a number of which are already in use residentially, commercially and in public buildings such as schools and visitor centres. The structure is manufactured offsite in modular sections and delivered to site virtually complete.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given that it is often cited as one of the key solutions to the UK housing crisis, offsite was another central talking point of the day. In her talk, Lorraine McMorrow of The McAvoy Group explored about how digital technology is advancing off site construction – speaking at length about the latest digital techniques which radically improve the way we design and produce new buildings. For example, she discussed how BIM, virtual reality, augmented reality and laser scanning is driving offsite construction to the next level. A fascinating insight.

Key takeaways

As the sun sets on Birmingham’s NEC and exhibitors head to the Beer Festival which is kicking off the evening’s festivities, below are just some of the most salient points we have taken on board. Another great day in store tomorrow!

·         Digitise now, or risk being left behind

·         As a priority, organisations much change their mindsets, embrace innovation and attempt to drive disruptive change

·         Offsite will continue to play a vitally important role in future

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Are you a Senior Account Manager or Junior Account Director looking for your next step up? Get in touch!




Working in a fantastic location in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, we’re a strong team proud to do PR a little differently.  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 a junior account director working across a range of B2B and consumer accounts in the built environment, food and drink and tech sectors. Our fast-growing client base ranges from cutting-edge business start-ups to national companies across both private and not for profit sectors.


With a whole new brand launching in October, and a wealth of new business opportunities reaching the agency each month, you'll be busy from day one, while having scope to work as broadly or as specialised as you want in sectors you choose. 


You’ll have already gained valuable PR agency experience with at least two years spent working at senior account manager level so you’ll hit the ground running and will have already proved you’re a strategic consultant capable of devising PR strategies and campaigns that deliver real business results.  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.  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.

 

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 Leadership 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 account director and progress your career with Refresh.

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PR: is it measuring up?



This week on the blog we’re discussing an age-old battle for PR pros: measurement.  

It comes off the back of another study released this month that told us ‘40% of execs don’t think PR delivers good value’. Unfortunately, this isn’t a one off; the study is in a similar vein to many others that have been released over the past few years. Not a good sign for an industry that already faces an ongoing battle for a slice of the marketing budget. 

I’d put my money on the fact that a lot of the confusion around PR’s value comes from the fact that many PR buyers still aren’t actually sure what PR delivers in terms of tangible results. And you can see where this feeling has come from. For years, the value of PR was measured pretty much solely on AVE – literally how much it would cost to place an advert in the space you’ve secured editorial coverage in and then multiplied by three or four, depending on the agency. A bit wishy washy and not exactly an accurate demonstration of your bang for buck.

Thankfully *most* of the industry has come past the stage of reporting back results on the AVE of press coverage and the majority of PR agencies are becoming more switched on when it comes to objective setting and measurement.

To prove value, the most effective PR measurement metrics need to be data-driven. Yes, the more vanity focused metrics, such as opportunities to see, key media infiltration, social engagement or positive sentiment, can still be hugely important, but it’s the harder metrics which make it much easier to show value. Whether that’s digital metrics such as website visitors and conversions, goal completions, or backlinks, or even more tangible, revenue-focused measures such as the generation of qualified leads or enquiries through PR.

Evaluation is something we take seriously at Refresh. In fact, one of the CIPR awards we were shortlisted for a couple of weeks ago was a success largely because of how well we could attribute tangible results of the campaign to the client. For this campaign, we were able to demonstrate to the client the value of every penny of their marketing budget spend, by reporting on a number of data-first metrics; perhaps most notably exactly how many leads were generated directly though the PR (which their sales team could then follow up on). Happy client, happy us. 

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Is it okay to post on social media once a week?



We’ve all heard the saying ’quality over quantity’, and it’s a phrase that is undoubtedly accurate in many situations, but does it apply to social media strategies?

To kick start a social media campaign, many would be likely to Google ‘how often should I post on social media?’ and then read through pages of advice forums, blogs and studies, and then stick to what the research has told you. However, prior to this research stage, a good social media campaign firstly thinks about what it wants to achieve, who the campaign should target to achieve the objectives, and which channels are best to achieve this.

Once all of this is decided, it’s important to think about how much time can be dedicated to social media. Many companies have full teams of people focused on social media, which gives an indication of how much time and effort the company can invest into its campaigns! However, if your resource means you can only commit to one social media post a week, don’t set yourself up for failure by pretending you’ll be able to post ten times.

Once you’ve researched, planned and begun to execute your campaign, the hard work doesn’t stop, and the question about the right level of posting for your business might still not be answered. Keeping an eye on social media analytics is the crucial next step in finding the answer. Looking into which of your posts perform well, and at what time, over a sustained period of time gives an invaluable insight into your social media campaign and its audience’s habbits. This can clearly highlight what is and isn’t working, and will help you understand what works well for you, whether that is one post a week or five posts a day.

In an ideal world, analytics would prove that your hard work and planning has paid off and you are doing exactly what you should be. However, this doesn’t mean you are in the clear. Social media algorithms and consumer behaviour is constantly evolving, so what works today is unlikely to still be guaranteed in a year’s time, so analysis is an ongoing adventure!  

For many people and businesses there is a fine line between ‘spamming’ social media channels and posting enough content to keep followers engaged. But there is no right answer! As long as you know your audience and your content is consistent, quality and engaging, then your audience will be excited to see it and will keep the online conversations flowing. For us, the key things to remember are to research, plan, keep an eye on social media analytics and last but not least, don’t be afraid to adapt accordingly.

To learn more about how Refresh PR can help you with your social media strategy, get in touch with us here.

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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. 


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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! 

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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’.

 

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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!

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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. 

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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/

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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. 

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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.

 

 

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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!

 

 

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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The Heating Installer Awards 2018



After 12 months of hard work, the Heating Installer Awards culminated in the announcement of our national winner at trade show, Installer2018.

Opening in October 2017, we spent five months accepting entries from heating installers across the U.K. before our regional winners were decided. In March, our sponsors, Polypipe, Sentinel, Vaillant, Danfoss, Wolseley, Installer magazine and Avanti Gas, along with last year’s winner, Peter Booth, met to judge the entries and finalise our regional winners. Our nine regional finalists then when head to head in a public vote, where the national winner was decided.

This month, thanks to our media partner, and owner of trade exhibition Installer2018, Installer magazine, the team travelled to Coventry to make the winner’s announcement. For me, the Installer exhibition is the highlight of the year. The Heating Installer Awards is such an intensive campaign that it’s really rewarding to see the final product of all our hard work. Our stand was busy from day one, with installers enquiring how to sign up for next year and people wanting to meet the faces behind the awards.

In the weeks leading up to the announcement, we had the typical exhibitor to-do list: finalise exhibition stand, organise the announcement, plan stand activity, but the work was all worth it when our time to grace the mainstage arrived. We started off with a Q&A with our sponsors, who were unanimous in their opinion that the plumbing and heating industry needs awards like these. From here, we made the winner’s announcement and last year’s winner took to the stage to hand over his metaphorical crown in front of the growing crowds. All of the regional winners deserved their place in the final, but Shaun Scott, from Scotland, was a deserved winner of the coveted title. 

The exhibition and announcement were a great success and has made us even more excited to kick start 2019’s awards.

For more information on the awards, and to get involved, contact us at hia@refreshpr.co.uk

 

 

Tagged with: , B2B PR agency Manchester , Heating Installer Awards, HIA, Manchester, PR Agency Manchester

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Meet the team



Last month we introduced you to our head of consumer and now we had across our office to give you an insight into our B2B team. Here we learn more about our B2B PR account manager, Ash Davies.


How did you get into PR?

I did history at University and had no real idea what I wanted to do, I just knew working in a museum wasn’t for me. I carried out various internships and work experience placements in different sectors and nothing ever felt quite right – that was until I started my PR internship. From the offset, I was going to new biz pitches, client meetings and working on creative campaigns and fell in love with the job. From that moment I knew I needed to work in PR.  

 

What do you love most about working in PR?

After six years of working in PR, the thrill of generating real results for our clients never wears off. I love working with our clients to truly understand their business objectives and implement creative campaigns that help meet these. Working in B2B PR, there is often the misconception that there is no room for creativity; showing clients how their PR can be fun, creative and results driven feels great. I have even written a blog post on this – you can read it here.

 

What do you think you bring to Refresh PR?

A cliché but I’m definitely a people person. I integrate myself into our client’s companies and consequently build long lasting relationships; in fact, I’m good friends and still work in some capacity with past clients from many years ago. These relationships have allowed us to collaborate with some great companies that understand the importance of creativity within PR and appreciate the impact Refresh PR can have on their business.

 

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

In my opinion, Manchester is the best city in the UK for socialising. With so many new restaurants and bars opening on a monthly basis, I’ve made it my personal aim to try them all. I also love to travel, and have just had my annual leave signed off for my drive across Europe this summer!

 

Finally, where do you see the future of PR?

The media landscape is changing and a basic press office function just doesn’t make a big enough impact anymore. Whilst a solid press release and effective pitch used to be enough to get great results, in today’s climate we need more integrated campaigns incorporating events, social, digital PR and SEO, amongst others.  Many traditional B2B PRs will need to get a greater understanding of, and build relationships with, digital outlets. At Refresh, we pride ourselves on coming up with creative campaigns that utilise much more than just a press office. The Heating Installer Awards and our work for MyGlazing.com are great examples of this. Not only are they proven ways of getting better results, they’re more fun to work on!

Tagged with: , B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment, Creative Agency, Lifestyle, Meet the team, North West

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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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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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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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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

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , creatiive agency Manchester, Creative Agency, ideas for PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR agency UK, PR campaign essential, PR for new product launch

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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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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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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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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 

 

 

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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.  

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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/

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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

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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.

 

 

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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.

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The importance of gaining work experience



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Helps you decide on a sector

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

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

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

Build confidence

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

Look more attractive to an employer

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

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Public Relations – Where Are The Ethics?



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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RIP PR?



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

Social Media

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

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

Social influencers

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

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

PR & SEO

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

Measurement

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

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

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

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

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

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Trumping your own social media



As politicians go, the President of the United States (known on Twitter as @POTUS) is probably up there as the most 
famous in the entire world.

Multi-billionaire Donald Trump joined this elusive list when he became the 45th US President back in January 2017. 
However, while he stands out from previous presidents for various reasons (sexual assault allegations, business tycoon, 
unfortunate hair), it is his Twitter account and the ongoing posting of erratic – and often threatening – material that is 
stealing the limelight.

Take 10 minutes to look through Donald’s Twitter feed, and you’ll soon find examples of how not to approach Twitter. 
Yes it’s hard getting your message across in 140 characters, but there’s being direct, and there’s misjudged content – and 
continually falling into the latter’s trap culminates in constant backlash from the general public. And of course, this is on
a global scale, with a large part of said globe absolutely terrified at Trump being in such a position of power – so the wrath 
is pretty severe. 

Here are five times Trump trumped his own social media efforts, and basically showed us he shouldn’t be let loose with a 
Twitter account:

-          Flooding in Texas: the severe flooding across Texas caused by Hurricane Harvey has the world sat open 
mouthed, as highways disappear, roofs become congested with people trying to avoid the water, while sharks and 
alligators begin swimming in land. Messages of support and love have swamped social media, however one particular 
personality was absent for a little too long. President Trump failed to acknowledge what was happening in Texas, or 
address its residents to inform them of aid missions, until many hours after the storm hit. Now, he’s playing catch up, 
scrambling a series of manic messages that tell us he’s finally paying an interest. What the President should’ve learned 
(but probably hasn’t):  when natural disasters hit, be visible; be seen, be heard, be there.

-          Banning transpeople from the military: this summer, Trump hit the headlines again by announcing – via Twitter – 
that he was banning transpeople from joining or being part of the US military. Before you ask, no, the military had not 
okayed this; in fact, they had no idea it was even being considered until the tweet from @POTUS. In retaliation, the 
military released a statement explaining they don’t take orders from tweets, and won’t be enforcing this bizarre and 
fascist suggestion. What the President should’ve learned (but again, probably hasn’t):  being publically fascist will never 
end well. But hate crime aside, if you’re going to make a decision about a major national organisation and broadcast it 
on Twitter, let them know beforehand.

-          Horrendous grammar and spelling: I’m not saying you can forgive rude, racist and irresponsible posts if everything 
is spelt right, but it helps. The President’s tweets are continually filled with spelling and grammar errors, and frankly, it’s 
unacceptable from the world’s most powerful man. One such error was tweeting the letters ‘covfefe’ in place of another 
word – but we have absolutely no idea what that other word should’ve been. Remember when Ed Balls tweeted us all 
saying exactly that: ‘Ed Balls’? Remember how we laughed? The President must’ve thought we were laughing WITH Ed 
Balls, because he recently tweeted simply saying ‘We’. Any idea? No? Me neither. What the President should’ve learned 
(but probably hasn’t – do you sense a theme?):  hire a copy checker (and take them EVERYWHERE with you), or get a 
phone that underlines your errors.

-          Threats against North Korea: social media is not a playground, and shouldn’t be treated that way. However, 
Trump is insistent on airing his dirty laundry with North Korea, and playing its enemies off against each other, on Twitter, 
practically every day. We’re not talking about a bit of insult throwing here – we’re talking nuclear war threats. What the 
President should’ve learned (but probably hasn’t): it’s not okay for the world to see potential global destruction played on 
their Twitter feed. Instead, tell us when you’re meeting together with the leaders of North Korea and China in person to 
resolve the issues and create a harmonious world. Social media, while open and honest, should also remain as positive as 
possible.

-          Tagging strangers in posts: If there’s anything that Trump likes more than his own self-promotion, it’s telling 
the world how amazing his family is. However, when he recently tweeted to share how fantastic his daughter Ivanka is, 
describing her as a ‘woman with real character and class’, he clearly didn’t check he’d used the right tags. Rather than 
include his daughter in the post, he instead got a little-known woman from Brighton with 8k followers caught up in his 
storm. While I bet it’s lovely to receive such praise, it was yet another step in the ‘How not to do social media’ manual 
by Donald J. Trump. What the President should’ve learned (but probably hasn’t):  if you’re dragging other people into 
your social media content, tag the right person. While it’s an easy mistake to make, and didn’t actually cause anyone 
any harm, it just looks stupid. And you, Mr President, don’t need any help with that at the moment.

If you’re scared of emulating Donald Trump on your social media channels, and want the help of a PR agency to ensure 
your social presence remains professional, on brand and is always spelt correctly, give Refresh PR a call. We’ve masses of 
social media experience, particularly in using it as a channel to support wider PR campaigns. And we promise we won’t tag 
the wrong person in your posts – all Trump-esque mistakes are avoided as standard. 



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When personalisation goes wrong...



Personalisation can elevate a marketing campaign; everyone likes to feel a bit special. A favourite of mine was EasyJet’s 20th anniversary campaign. For such an impersonal brand, intent on the stack ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap mentality, they used personalisation incredibly well with fantastic results.

EasyJet looked at all previous customer data and found each customer’s personal EasyJet travel story, for the past 20 years. This allowed them to create emotive, personalised stories shrouded in nostalgia for all customers. Each email told the story of previous flights, holiday destinations and miles travelled, and included suggested next trips.

The campaign was very successful; open rates were over 100% more than average, with 25% higher click-through rates. Social media also went wild for the campaign with a reach of 685,000 and 1.1 million impressions. Moreover, within a few hours, EasyJet had improved it’s positioning within the public, becoming a loved brand with positive sentiment.

Whilst this personalisation campaign was a complete success, not all go down quite so well. Remember what happened with Walkers earlier this year? To mark their competition to win tickets to the Champions League final campaign, Walkers launched a campaign on Twitter, the ‘Walkers Wave’, asking people to respond to a tweet from the Walkers Twitter account with a selfie, using the hashtag #WalkersWave. The user's picture would then appear in a personalised video, featuring Gary Lineker.

It wasn’t long people the public abused the campaign and Gary was seen holding pictures of Fred West and Harold Shipman, not what Walkers had in mind and damaging to the brand.

Earlier this month, The National Lottery experienced a PR fail surrounding their World Athletics Championship campaign, leading to them rapidly deleting tweets.

Users on Twitter were asked to retweet a post from the National Lottery using the hashtag #Represent. The National Lottery would then automatically reply with an image of the British athletics team holding a sign displaying the user’s Twitter handle; so far so good. It didn’t take long however for Twitter users to change their handles to very controversial characters, including the likes of Jimmy Saville. Despite being a total fail, the hijacking achieved more coverage than the campaign itself ever would have. 

When it’s good, it’s very good, however it is difficult to get personalisation right. Where Walkers went wrong was their lack of data. Their campaign depended on interaction with the public, rather than intelligently using already stored data to create a personalised email.

Our client, Kagool, specialises in personalisation, and understands the sensitivities and technicalities surrounding it. If you’re considering a personalisation campaign, we would recommend working with experts, ensuring the execution goes smoothly, and a using a PR agency to come up with creative and interesting content, increasing open rates and results. And if you do run an automated personalisation campaign dependent on public engagement, make sure you have a PR agency on hand to handle the backlash…

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Another shortlist for Refresh PR



Monday morning started off like any other, but as the Refresh PR team sat down for our weekly kick-off meeting, the postman made a special delivery.

In an envelope was a sheet of glitter paper and instructions on how to make an origami mask, alongside a card announcing that our very own campaign, the Heating Installer Awards, had been shortlisted for yet another award – this time, the international B2B Marketing Awards.

As one of the top eight in the ‘Best SME - Targeted Campaign’ category, we’re up against large household names such as Vodafone, Samsung and Saga - something we are very proud of.

For three years, The Heating Installer Awards has been a huge celebration of good news within the plumbing and heating world, and has gained the support of large companies within the industry such as Vaillant, Danfoss and Sentinel. The awards have also been endorsed by big characters such as Charlie Mullins from Pimlico Plumbers. The team at Refresh PR has generated great results with coverage landing in an array of national, regional and trade titles, as well as appearing on BBC Radio and The One Show.

We’re very excited to launch the next year of the awards next month, and in typical Refresh PR fashion, we have a few surprises up our sleeve…

Good luck to all those shortlisted at the B2B Marketing Awards; we’re very excited for the ceremony in November!

If you want to read more about the Heating Installer Awards, visit: http://heatinginstallerawards.co.uk/

 

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Refresh PR shares ‘how to awards’ strategy with CIMCIG



You may have heard of the Heating Installer Awards; it’s the award winning campaign run by Refresh PR. From the One Show to BBC Radio, the public and plumbing industry were invested in the awards and engaged on a record scale throughout the 2016/2017 campaign.

 

Particularly in the construction and building product industry, face-to-face engagement with customers is a pivotal element of business strategy, and one required for successful campaigns. This November, our Head of B2B, Erin, will be in London to share the secrets behind the award-winning Heating Installer Awards, telling a room full of marketing professionals how they can inject the same passion and enthusiasm into their campaigns.

 

The talk takes place on November 8th 2017 at The Building Centre in London. Erin will be sharing her wisdom alongside experts within the industry, including EcoBuild and RIBA. Time is running out to register, so if you want to learn how to maximise your campaigns, booking details can be found here:

 

https://www.cim.co.uk/eventbooking/?crid=84861&ename=How%20to%20run%20a%20memorable%20event

 

If you think your PR strategy could benefit from some high engagement, award-winning campaigns, get in touch to see how Refresh PR can help.

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Are you ready for GDPR?



Companies that process a lot of personal data might know the ins and outs of GDPR, but what exactly is it, and what does it mean for the rest of us?

 

Essentially, the new General Data Protection Regulation gives consumers more control over their personal information. You might think this doesn’t affect you, however if you have a sales contacts database, or simply send e-newsletters to new or existing customers, you need to carry on reading. Here are five simple steps that will keep, you, your company, and your data safe.

 

Take control


With so much to consider when aiming to be a successful business in a competitive market, we suggest nominating a director or consultant within the business to ensure GDPR criteria is met. Make sure this person is invested and understands data management in the built environment. New information and developments are introduced to the industry regularly, so someone in the company needs to stay on top of these and apply them to your business.  

 

Secure your systems

 

Your nominated director should ensure your data is collected and stored correctly. Specifically:
- Controls and procedures must be put in place to ensure the data is kept confidential, is accurate, and available when needed
- Data should be anonymised and/or encrypted
- You must be able to restore the data and systems quickly in the event of an incident
- Regular testing and assessment of the effectiveness of your measures

In today’s day and age, this should all be commonplace anyway, however with the BIM (Building Information Modelling) mandate coming in last year, data has not been front of mind, so use this as a chance to update your systems, and adhere to the law.

 

Check your suppliers

 

You must ensure your suppliers and clients are also compliant. If your suppliers breach legislation, you could be held accountable. This is particularly important from those in the construction and built environment sectors that will potentially use third parties for everything from van hire to recruitment. With so many levels in the supply chain, it will pay to reach out to everyone you work with to ensure they are following the necessary steps.

 

Stay relevant to your audience

 

Currently, it’s easier to press ‘delete email’ than it is to unsubscribe, however, with the ‘unsubscribe’ button about to become more obvious than ever, it’s never been more important to provide interesting, relevant and up to date content for your subscribers. That way, they won’t need to unsubscribe and you save yourself a job.

 

Whether you manufacture plastic piping or deliver a specific service, it’s worthwhile speaking to an agency experienced in construction and the built environment to develop a content strategy to ensure you only send out valuable information, meaning you don’t lose customers at the first hurdle.

 

Stick to protocol

 

If there has been an information breach, you must report it to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) as soon as possible. This is where having a person responsible for the management of data is crucial.

 

The introduction of this regulation won’t be unmanageable and in fact, it makes it the perfect time to update some potentially archaic systems. Focusing on accumulating and processing important, useful, and legally compliant information is a smart move – and if the GDPR provides some incentive for that, then those that work in the build environment industry will be better off for it.

 

If you want to know more, or discuss content strategy, get in touch.

 

 

 

 

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Leicester plumber is winner of Heating Installer Awards 2017



The public vote to decide the national winner of the Heating Installer Awards 2017 has been revealed.

 

Peter Booth, of Loughborough, can officially introduce himself as the UK’s best heating installer (until next year’s awards at least). Taking place at Installer 2017, the award announcement drew in large crowds and huge support from across the industry.

 

With a total rebrand and dedicated press office, the awards have been a roaring success, exceeding all of last year’s results. The number of award entries was up 50 per cent, with more than 2,000 votes cast throughout the campaign - a 33 per cent increase year on year. Throughout the campaign we gained the support of eight sponsors and dozens of industries bodies, including CIPHE and Pimlico Plumbing’s Charlie Mullins.

 

The Heating Installer Awards reached a record number of people, through the use of our B2B PR campaign. Our 2016 winner, Dennis Hollingworth, was on the one show, and we reached over 357,000 people on Twitter alone.

 

We were inundated daily with messages of support and encouragement, both for the regional shortlist and the awards themselves. Over on Facebook, the awards reached 115K people.

 

From our presence at Installer 2017 and ongoing social media activity, we have already had hundreds installers register for the 2017/18 awards. Entries will open in the Autumn and we’re expecting to further exceed last year’s target.

 

If you want to get involved, we’re still looking for sponsors, so call us on 0161 871 1188 for more information.

 

 

 

 

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Being passionate in PR



99 per cent of PR professionals are passionate about what they do. A love for telling a great story, the buzz of media relations and the fast-paced nature of the job is what gets us up in the morning. Sometimes, however, a love for the industry is just not enough.

 

If you work in a PR or creative agency, chances are you will have clients in a range of fields. From glitter to plumbing, we have it all at Refresh PR and that old cliché, no two days are the same, rings very true. In order to do justice to your clients, a love of their industry, as well as your own is imperative.

 

PR’s speak with dozens of journalists in a day, and we need to persuade them that what our client has to say is more valuable than their competitors. Unless you speak about your clients with true passion, you’ll get nowhere. If the news doesn’t excite you, how do you expect a journalist, who’s received 40 similar calls that day, to be enthused? If you love what you do, and love working with your clients, this will come across. 

 

Being fully engrossed in your client’s work will eventually lead to your PR agency being an arm of their company, rather than a supplier-customer relationship. Once this happens, you’ll automatically be kept in the loop regarding company news, be able to contact everyone and anyone when that golden opportunity comes through and be totally honest with them- a valuable but often over overlooked trait in our industry. At Refresh PR, we promote hot desking at our clients’ offices, giving us a chance to see what they do, and how they work day to day. Realistically, can you ever really get a true insight into your clients from just a bi weekly WIP call alone?

 

You’re much more likely to want to learn about an industry or topic that you’re interested in. Whether it’s cosmetics, food and drink or heating installations, find what excites you and you’ll never work a day in your life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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