Posts tagged with "Networking Event"

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Has plant-based peaked? Are we stockpiling for Brexit? What were the big food & drink trends for 2019, and what does 2020 look like?

Last week, I headed to London for CIM and Kantar’s 2019 food and drinks insights event, which brought professionals in the industry together to discuss what’s happened this year in the sector, and what’s coming up in 2020.


As always, the event gave me enough information to write a short book. However, I wanted to share a few key takeaways from the event, grouped into three core themes.  


Going… green


You can’t get away from it, I know. But for good reason. And it looks like that although most working in the sector will know that efforts are being made across the board to become more environmentally friendly, the majority of consumers just aren’t seeing it.


Kantar’s figures showed that only 16% of consumers can name a retailer that’s ‘doing a lot’ to reduce plastic and only 10% can name a brand that’s doing this. A shame, considering that behind the scenes, work is absolutely being done to fight the plastics tide. So why aren’t consumers seeing this? Do they demand too much? Are businesses not shouting loud enough? Or, does the industry simply need better PR? Either way, it needs turning around quickly.


Following the green theme, plant-based eating was a big discussion point.  Growth of plant-based meals is up 23% since 2015 and meat free meals are up 4% in the same period. Maybe surprisingly, it’s not vegans or even vegetarians that are driving this growth, in fact, it’s a lot of people making small decisions, such as eating a few plant-based meals per week, which is leading to this rise in plant-based. Older people and families were noted as key drivers of this shift.


Going… for growth


For any hungry business, growth is always the key driver. But, in an increasingly competitive environment and uncertain political landscape, how can retailers continue to thrive? Kantar offered its advice based on its growth brand footprint.  

  • More presence – adding store space is one of the more obvious drivers of growth, however, is not an option for all retailers. Home Bargains and Co-op were two of the main retailers to jump on this trend in 2019, with the former announcing a jump to 1000 stores and the latter announcing it would open 100 new stores in 2019.
  • More channels – retailers are omni-channel and have been for some time. However, the past year has seen major retailers forging partnerships in order to find new avenues for growth. From Co-op working with Deliveroo to deliver groceries, to M&S partnering with Ocado, retailers are increasingly looking for sales through new channels.
  • New (customer) targets – Iceland’s 2018 palm oil advert was the retailer’s first foray into a new customer base and we’ve seen the same this year from Co-op, which is targeting the student market with the creation of stores within student halls and in new build flats.
  • New needs – reacting to trends and new consumer needs around health, ethics etc., is becoming increasingly important to retailers when it comes to growth. Whether that’s incorporating ‘bring your plastic bottle back’ features into stores, adding more unpacked grocery options, or developing more concept stores a la M&S.



Ok, so this grouping could be classed as cheating, but there were loads more insights that I couldn’t drop into one of the above themes that I thought were too good to miss out on. Here are the last few points of interest:

  • There has been no obvious link between a general drop in consumer confidence and grocery sales 
  • Brexit hasn’t seemed to have an impact on shoppers; however, it has on manufacturers and the supply chain. On that note, Kantar found zero evidence of stockpiling for Brexit – so don’t believe everything the media says!
  • Actual grocery growth numbers for 2019 have been low – however, this was attributed to the particularly high figures witnessed in 2018 as a result of the hot summer we had, meaning ice cream and beer sales were up 
  • For one of the first times in a decade, supermarkets are no longer reliant on discounts to provide value to shoppers, with the trend on the decline over the past three years
  • Loyalty is back on the agenda for supermarkets and one worth keeping an eye on. While we’re not sure what the early uptake of Tesco’s ‘Plus Card’ looks like, it shows a clear shift back towards loyalty

So, there you go. The outlook for the F&D market in under 800 words! If you’re a food manufacturer, supplier, retailer or anything in between, looking to take advantage of the opportunities 2020 holds, get in touch to hear about the recent work we’ve done for businesses in the sector. 


Tagged with: Food & Drink, Networking Event, PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign essential, PR event

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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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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,, 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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Painting the town red with TableNow

Last month Refresh PR supported with the relaunch of’s new website and app, via media coverage in the likes of Lovin’ Manchester, North West Caterer and NW Business Insider, as well as the launch of the Professional Eater campaign.

But to celebrate a successful first month and the thousands of pounds already saved by diners across the North West, Refresh PR arranged and managed a launch party for at Manchester’s 1761.


The guest list was filled with bloggers, influencers, journalists, members and VIPs from across the North West who enjoyed canapés, fizz and a chance to play TableNow’s money grabber – think Crystal Maze!


Bloggers in attendance included What Emma Did, Elsa Eats, Be More Fashionista and Manchester Tart, as well as the team from UniLad.


Social media was buzzing with people sharing pictures of the event across Twitter and Instagram, with a total reach of nearly 100,000, and even more people signing up to the North West’s number one dining club on the evening.


Events are a fantastic way to celebrate milestones, connect with members or customers, as well as building relationships with key influencers and media. Nothing is more powerful than face-to-face engagement, and a glass of fizz always helps too. If you are looking to run an event for your brand then please contact our head of consumer, Caroline on 0161 871 1188. 

Tagged with: , Creative Agency, Food & Drink, Launch event, Lifestyle, Manchester, Networking Event, PR Manchester

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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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How to network and get results

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

Don’t use it as a free team social

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

Do your research

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

Be ready

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

Ask questions

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

Leave a lasting impression

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

Keep in touch

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep it relaxed

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

Plan activities

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

Keep it exclusive

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

Mix it up

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

Book ahead

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

Keep it varied

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


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

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We reveal the results of Refresh 101

Taking advantage of having so many industry experts under one roof, we decided to ask visitors to our stand one burning question – “what would you like to see rid of in the marketing industry”.

Encouraging them to write their bug bears, gripes and grumbles on one of Refresh 101’s balls, they then got to throw it into the ball pit, with the hope of it one day disappearing from the industry.

Here we share our top three findings, do you agree?

1. Communication

Apparently everyone at Prolific North Live works in the communication industry in one way or another yet communication – or lack of - was the most popular submission into Refresh 101. From too many emails and not enough face-to-face to too many conference calls or simply not listening, these were just some of the communication related comments.

For an industry that is meant to make people sit up, listen, talk and engage, it appears to be lacking the basics on a professional level.

At Refresh we have taken this insight seriously and are now making even more effort to pick up the phone or meet up for a coffee, but ultimately stop hiding behind emails – whether that’s with our clients or collaborators.

2. Bullsh*t

Following on from how we are communicating, it seems that what the industry is saying is also grinding on people.

BS Bingo was a hot topic at Refresh 101, with people ranting and raving about buzzwords and overcomplicated jargon. Every industry has its own ‘language’ but it seems marketing may have taken it too far and now, rather than making professionals sound knowledgeable, it has a negative impact.

So off the back of this, here is our pledge to you: “We (Refresh PR) promise never to tell you to deep dive into the essence of a brand, describe a consumer as low hanging fruit or use the latest buzz word to try and impress. We will always keep our language simple.”

3. Briefs and Budgets

Visitors at Prolific North Live also got passionate about briefs and budgets at Refresh 101, or more importantly the lack of!

But, as an industry it seems like something we have come to accept – often doing ourselves a dis-service. Reluctant to challenge a brief, or request more information, as agencies we spend our time trying to interpret what our clients (or potential clients) could mean, rather than brainstorming creative approaches that deliver on the business needs.

Once you’ve uncovered what needs to be achieved, the budget comes into play and more often than not, the two do not align.

Yes budgets are tight and as marketeers we are more conscious than ever before not go into pitches with all singing, all dancing campaigns – we have to be smart with how we spend the money. But in the same breath, we cannot continue to undervalue the creative.

Our value is in our creative thinking and expertise, and to continually give that away for free is damaging our business and the industry.

This is a topic that our MD, Laura and head of consumer, Caroline spoke about at the Prolific North Live and something that everyone agreed needs to be tackled by the industry as a whole.

So do you agree or is there something else you’d like to put into Refresh 101 – let us know on Twitter @RefreshPR #Refresh101

Tagged with: Networking Event, PR, PR agencies Manchester, Prolific North Live

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New office launch sees industry experts debate value of great design

With years of experience leading campaigns in the built environment sector, here at Refresh we know our clients truly value developing new relationships with key decision makers. Having built a large network of contacts, we relish the opportunity to bring together experts in the field who we know will hit it off professionally and to help create new partnerships for our clients.


At the end of 2015, our client Space Zero, a Manchester-based interior design consultancy specialising in education and healthcare, shared the news it would be moving to a brand new office in September 2016 and would be designing the space to create an unrivalled workplace in the city.

Never one to miss an opportunity to showcase our clients’ expertise and innovation, we organised a series of round table events.

Working together with Space Zero, we brought together academics, contractors, architects and consultants on two October mornings to discuss challenges affecting their sector and be treated to a guided tour of the new office from Space Zero’s CEO, Wayne Taylor.

The first event focused on healthcare design with attendees from leading businesses including Pozzoni, Rider Hunt and Interserve discussing the challenges of designing spaces to provide an empathetic and comfortable environment for dementia patients.

The second, focussing on the design of schools across England, saw experts from JM Architects, Wates, Bowmer & Kirkland, the University of Manchester and other industry heavyweights debate the elements of school design most likely to result in positive outcomes for pupils.

While the attendees shared their varying views, different experiences and raised questions about the future of the industry, what was clear from both events is that the sector thrives on collaboration, shared values and a passion for using design to make a difference – whether for employees, students or dementia patients.

Plans are already in place for a third round table to be held very soon. So if you work in the interiors, architecture or construction industries, look out for an invitation heading your way!

Tagged with: Built Environment, Marketing, Networking Event, North West , Roundtable

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Why video is vital for PR professionals


As the digital work carried out by PR professionals evolves, it’s no longer a case of simply using it to bolster our ‘traditional’ press office activity and campaigns. More and more, PR professionals are asking whether social media should be the crux of how we reach our audience.


Last week I attended the #PRCADigital event, where the statistics and insights shared came as no surprise. Increasingly clients’ budgets for digital activity is spent on boosting SEO, paid social media activity and creating video based content - with 62 per cent citing this as the main area of spending.


Like many of our clients, we recognise the importance of video based content and this creates a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with other creative businesses, echoing what we discussed in a recent blog post.


Video content has well and truly hit the mainstream. Facebook’s Live function is growing in popularity, highlighting the importance of such content to audiences by allowing users to live-stream videos, a maximum of 30 minute long, directly from their smartphones.


Other social networks are also making a big push on video with Twitter recently announcing it will be launching an app for live-streaming video on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Microsoft's Xbox One. This move again highlights how important it is to harness this type of content and create truly integrated campaigns.


As well as these developments by social networks, figures show people spend three times longer watching live video compared to a video that's pre-recorded, which is an important insight for content creators. It shows that it’s the creativity and message that users are responding to and therefore not every video has to be at a Hollywood level of production.


Everyone has the capability to create videos and with the quality of camera phones reaching new heights, consumers, brands and PR professionals can get filming!









Tagged with: , CIPR , Digital, Facebook, Facebook Live, Networking Event, PR, PRCA, Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter, Video

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The business benefits of a community spirit

Over the past few weeks Richard Branson’s famous quote has, once again, been doing the rounds on LinkedIn: “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.”


While we should all make every effort to grab the opportunities that are presented to us, in a creative industry like PR, utilising others’ strengths can be a real game changer – why not collaborate to benefit a campaign or project?


Based in the Northern Quarter, Manchester’s creative hub, Refresh PR is fortunate to benefit from an impressive array of talent on our doorstep. Indeed, the wider Greater Manchester region boasts the third highest number of creative businesses in the UK - pretty impressive..


For this very reason, our agency is a firm supporter of business collaboration: if a company can offer expertise that we don’t have, we’ll collaborate to create something special.


As a city we are great at collaborating. Let’s take it up a notch – lets support fellow Manchester businesses, nurture and grow top talent, and keep it in the City.


Manchester has invested £3.5billion building a global hub for creative industries. It’s the home of creative talent. We have numerous great organisations set up for the purpose of encouraging collaboration in the creative sector – the MPA, Creative Pioneers, and numerous collaborative workspaces to nurture those starting out in the city. The opportunities are endless. It’s up to us to jump in and get involved.


So, why are we so passionate about collaboration?


Well, quite simply, embracing a collaborative approach allows us to build a great network of contacts, while working with other fantastic businesses and talented people.


If a campaign needs a certain element that we don’t offer, we find the best partner in their field to work alongside us. Partnership and collaboration, done properly, is hugely effective.


We’re very proud of the companies we work with and the award-winning campaigns we have produced over the years.


In recent weeks we’ve been recognised by several prestigious industry bodies, from CIPR to the national B2B Marketing Awards, for integrated campaigns including the Heating Installer of the Year Awards and the Food Porn Awards. We’re also working on the Window with a View campaign for the Glass and Glazing Federation, bringing together several collaborating agencies.


While Refresh PR has spearheaded the delivery of these projects, the campaigns undoubtedly benefited from the additional clout and expertise of the talented partners we worked alongside.


We want to talk to like-minded businesses, so if you see us out and about or want to pop in for a coffee, our door is always open!


Let’s talk about how we can work together to achieve more.





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

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Inspiring installers floor industry judges


This week, we headed to the Ricoh Arena in Coventry for Installer2016, the UK’s largest plumbing and heating trade show. As well as checking out the latest technologies that the heating and plumbing industry has to offer, we were there for a very important reason: the Heating Installer of the Year Awards (HIOTY).

Way back in October 2015, we were appointed as the PR agency for the awards, working closely with our client, Continental Underfloor, the headline sponsor and company which established the awards. Between then and now, our team has worked tirelessly to bring the awards to fruition, liaising with our nominees, producing engaging content for social and organising the presentation itself. In March, our judges met and selected eight regional winners, who were then put up for an online public vote to decide the winner. To see the culmination of all this hard work at Installer 2016 was a fantastic experience.

Alongside Installer’s compère extraordinaire, MC Dave, Continental Underfloor’s Managing Director Chris Ingram led the presentation. After welcoming our wonderful regional winners on stage, it was time for Chris to announce who had taken the overall title. “So who won?!”, I hear you ask! Drum roll please… the UK’s Heating Installer of the Year is the North West’s very own, Dennis Hollingworth!

The moment it was announced, the crowd erupted into rapturous applause, Dennis’ friends and family chanted his name with glee and I transformed into a fully-fledged member of the paparazzi, snapping as many photos as possible to share with all of our social media followers. Dennis was delighted with his well-deserved win and it was brilliant to be able to celebrate with him, our runner up, Ian Dickson, and all of the regional winners.

As well as looking after the awards themselves, we managed to fit in a bit of star spotting and met this year’s winner of The Apprentice, Joseph Valente. Naturally, we couldn’t resist asking him for a quick photograph but stopped short of asking him for his autograph…

Having bid adieu to the Ricoh Arena and returned to our Mancunian headquarters, we’re now looking forward to working on increasing awareness of our fantastic winners and, of course, planning for HIOTY 2017. Watch this space!


Laura Holden, Joseph Valente & Lauran Mashiter





Tagged with: Continental Underfloor, Heating Installer of the Year Awards, HIOTY, Home Interest, Manchester, Networking Event, North West , PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Budget 2016: A Budget for the next generation – but what about now?

Earlier today I went to North West Business Insider’s Budget Live event at Lancashire Country Cricket Club where a panel of speakers (Tim Potter, chief executive HURST; Nicky Unsworth, chief executive of BJL Group; Vikas Shah, managing director of Swiscot Group; Lawrence Jones, chief executive of UKFast; Dr Kevin Albertson, Reader in Economics at MMU Business School; and John Keyes, partner and head of the Manchester office of Cushman & Wakefield) discussed their thoughts and hopes for this year’s Budget before we all watched the action unfold on screen.


After a lively introduction from George Osborne (which included him quoting the Office for Budget Responsibility that the UK would be “safer, stronger, and more secure” if we stayed in the EU), the chancellor got into the details of cuts and spending.


One of the key phrases Osborne kept repeating was how this was a Budget “for the next generation”. A levy on sugar for the soft drink industry which will be invested into funding for sports in schools, a proposal that pupils study maths up to 18 and the introduction of a lifetime ISA were some of the measures Osborne discussed.


However, in order to achieve his promise that the Government will be running a surplus by 2019/20, he announced that further cuts would have to be made to achieve this. While the idea of “living within our means” was justified by making sure we protect the next generation and ensure they don’t have to pay for our debts, it does beg the question – what about the generation of today?


Some other notable announcements included:

·        Corporation tax is to decrease to 17% by 2020

·        Around 600,000 commercial properties will be removed from business rates, while annual increases to business rates will rise in line with the Retail Price Index rather than the Consumer Price Index

·        Fuel duty will remain frozen for a sixth year running

·        The tax-free personal allowance will increase to £11,500 by April 2017 and the threshold for paying higher rate income tax rate will  move to £45,000

·        The HS3 link between Manchester and Leeds has been given the go ahead, as well as investment to upgrade the M62 to a four-lane motorway and a tunnel road through to Manchester and Sheffield


Once Osborne finished his announcements, the panel at the event discussed their reactions. While there were some pleasant surprises (for example, more support and tax breaks for small businesses) there was uncertainty around what the real impact of the announcements will be for consumers and businesses.


Perhaps more importantly, there was uncertainty around the issues that Osbourne didn’t go into – in particular, healthcare was a sector notably missing from the agenda. And as always, we failed to get in to the nitty gritty detail of exactly how plans and initiatives – such as the Northern Powerhouse – will be achieved…and just how long those transport and infrastructure improvements will take in and around Manchester!


How do you think today’s Budget will affect you and your business? We’d love to hear your thoughts.




Tagged with: Budget 2016, Manchester, Networking Event, North West , North West Business Insider event, NWBI event, PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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A PR team’s guide to August action in Manchester

We are well and truly in the swing of summer and Manchester has already played host to some fantastic events. From Parklife at Heaton Park to Noel Gallagher at the Castlefield Bowl and most recently Manchester International Festival - which saw a selection of internationally renowned artists, performers and musicians entertain at iconic venues across Manchester - there has been something for everyone at Refresh PR HQ to appreciate and enjoy.


Looking into August (I know, how is it August already?), Manchester has plenty more to offer. Take a look at just a few of the events we are looking forward to in Refresh PR’s What’s On Guide for August:


1.      Manchester Jazz Festival (31st July - 9th August) - this is the longest-running music festival in the city. With almost 80 gigs and performances from over 400 artists, this 10 day event celebrates 20 summers of jazz. Albert Square is the heart of the festival, hosting the main performance hub where live music will start at lunchtime and run ‘til late every day. Some of the events are free and some are ticketed but with a festival bar and plenty of food outlets, we will certainly be dropping in!  

2.      NQuiz Frog and Bucket (Sun 9th August) – if quizzing is more your thing, check out the monthly NQuiz.  Tipped as the fastest, funniest and best quiz around, teams go head-to-head through rounds comprising elements of infamous shows including Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Countdown and QI. With the title of NQuiz champions and £50 prize money up for grabs, Refresh PR is up for entering a team – if nothing else it will be a laugh! 

3.    Dig the City (31st July – 6th August) – this seven day summer siesta returns for 2015 and promises to bring a summer garden festival vibe to some of the busiest and most urban streets in Manchester.  As a fan of all things quintessentially British, this series of pop-up picnics, markets, music, gardens and floral installations sounds a delight! Mix this with the chic city atmosphere, street food, treats and discounts from some well-known fashion outlets, it is Manchester’s own version of a classic summer garden festival

4.   Musical Madness – a couple of members of our team unashamedly like a good musical! Manchester Place Theatre will host West Side Story. The all singing, all dancing American story of gang warfare hits the stage from 13th - 15th August.   For those looking for something a little more light-hearted, Duncan James (of boyband Blue) will make an appearance in Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the Manchester Opera House from 20th - 29th August

5.   Opening of Pen and Pencil - ok, so there isn’t an August launch date confirmed for the latest addition to the NQ family, but the team at Refresh PR has been closely monitoring the progress of this new bar. With the promise of brunch, lunch, cocktails and good times, just over the road from the office, we are hoping this exciting new bar and restaurant will open during August. We will keep you updated and review our first official visit very soon!


If none of the above events tickle your fancy maybe the Manchester Food and Drink Festival would be more up your street? Food is always a hot topic of conversation at Refresh PR HQ and the team is already discussing which stalls and attractions to visit during the September event – keep your eyes peeled for our MFDF highlights coming soon!


Are you looking forward to other events during August? If so, share them with the Refresh PR team in the comment box below or tweet us @RefreshPR.




Tagged with: Leisure, Lifestyle, Manchester, Networking Event, PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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A PR team's top tips to hosting a press event

We recently held a press event at the Abel Heywood pub in the Northern Quarter for our client STM Photography, a specialist food photography studio based in Ancoats. The event was held to show the media the art of food photography and the role it plays in today’s thriving restaurant and bar industry. The photography masterclass was teamed with Abel Heywood, which used the event to showcase its delicious summer menu, including cocktails and food boards galore!


This is one of the many events we have worked on at Refresh PR and with each one that goes by we learn something new. For that reason, we wanted to provide you with ten of our top tips for organising a media event:


1.  The guestlist - this is the most important thing to consider when holding a press event. Bear in mind who your client’s target audiences are, what publications they read and order the guestlist in tiers with your priority publications first. Remember to assume a 30 per cent drop out rate, which could even rise in bad weather or traffic - extra invites will save you here

2.  Give notice - journalists are busy people and their diaries get booked up quickly, so ensure to give plenty of notice so they can pencil your event in before being invited to another. Doing this will also give you time to change the date of the event if a majority of your tier one journalists can’t make it

3.  The date with point two in mind, check what else is on that day that the press could potentially be attending - is there a new bar or restaurant opening, or a big concert on? This could come into competition with your event. It’s also important to consider the day of the week and the date that you’re holding it - Fridays may not be the best day as people have finished work for the week, summer holidays could also pose an issue

4.  Keep a record - when planning an event it’s easy to lose sight of who’s accepted and who’s declined, so make sure you’re recording this on a spreadsheet, this will also highlight where your gaps are

5.  Timing is key - when you’re hosting an event creating a timeline of actions before you begin is essential. If one activity falls behind this will have a knock on effect on everything following, which will all build up until the last two days when you’re running round like a headless chicken!

6.  Communication - elements of the event are likely to change, but remain flexible and ensure you communicate changes to everyone involved, this will ensure no one shows up a week ahead of the event if you’ve had to change the date

7.   Roles on the night - assign each of your team members separate roles on the night and make sure you have all bases covered. This will ensure a relaxed atmosphere where everyone knows their responsibilities and will ensure the smooth running of your event

8.  Keep it interactive - the last thing you want is a journalist fast asleep at your event after a long day at work, so make it fun and interactive. Getting people involved in activities is a great way to keep them on their toes, encourages questions and usually provides some humour for the attendees

9.  Food and drink - make sure there’s enough food and drink to replenish guests if it’s an after-work event. Canapés and cocktails are a great way to kick start the evening on arrival so make sure there’s just enough but not too much - you don’t want the night to descend into all-round drunken carnage

10. Relax - we know what you’re thinking - ‘hmmm, right’ - but seriously, when you relax those around you will relax. Even if your head is about to burst, keep a calm face and let on everything’s under control. If you have to, text your colleagues if there’s an issue and sort it out incognito.





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

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Food Photography Masterclass with STM Photography

Manchester’s STM Photography, which specialises in food and drink photography, will be sharing the team’s skills at a food photography masterclass early in the New Year.


The masterclass will be held on 22nd January at STM’s studio in Ancoats, Manchester, and open exclusively to CIM members and those in the The Talk of Manchester network.


Refresh PR will also be playing its part by hosting a 20 minute session on Instagram before guests have a chance to use the app to take their own photos of piping hot, freshly prepared food straight from the STM Photography kitchen.  We’ve ‘cooked up’ a brilliant challenge for everyone, which will test the skills learned at the event.


The event will be of specific interest to those in the food and drink sector, plus those who wish to understand more about photography and Instagram.  To sign up for the free event, register here  We look forward to seeing everyone on the night!



Tagged with: Food & Drink, Manchester, Networking Event, North West , PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Taking the initiative: CIM Manchester presents the latest in innovation for businesses

The latest CIM Manchester event focuses on how innovation can be used in businesses to drive growth and development. By reflecting on real examples where innovation has helped a company flourish, the event is set to evoke discussion and engage business leaders and marketers alike.

Guest speakers will include Dom Rodwell, chief creative officer at Play, Manchester’s design and innovation company, and Claire Gavin, head of innovation at Pets at Home, Britain's largest specialist pet retailer.

The irony we often face when discussing innovation within business is whether the actions of a company are in fact innovative – businesses need to be able to walk-the-walk as well as talk-the-talk. Understanding the expertise behind the processes of introducing innovation into a business is the first step to being able to implement a successful strategy into your own company.

Practically applying innovative ideas to a business can be tricky – but it isn’t limited in scope. Informative guidance about previous successful strategies and access to experts can prompt you to adopt a different way of thinking that is most suitable to your company.

Pets at Home has grabbed innovative thinking by the horns and launched an appeal to product inventors to get their designs on the shelves of the national retailer. Through pursuing alternative measures and communicating with experts outside of the company, Pets at Home has been able to assert itself as a leader of innovation within the industry, and Claire will no doubt have invaluable advice for businesses looking to adapt a similar approach.

With an increasing amount of technological advancements throughout the business and marketing world, it is vital for companies to effectively capitalise on their strengths by utilising the vast range of platforms, both online and offline.

 A stand out example of innovation that got everyone talking in the office was Asda adding real social media posts from customers about the products from the ‘Chosen By You’ own-brand food range to the packaging of the products themselves. The pre-launch utilised a multitude of online platforms – incorporating social media and customer feedback – as well as building trust in the brand by demonstrating customer satisfaction.  

With Manchester as a national hub for business and digital innovation, this event will be a great opportunity to hear from the experts about how to effectively invest in innovation, as well as a chance to network and meet like-minded professionals. We’ll see you there!

'Managing innovation: how to drive business growth' will take place at Manchester Business School on Wednesday 9th October. For further information and to register for tickets, please click here

Tagged with: Business, CIM, CIM Manchester, Innovation, Manchester, Marketing, Networking Event, North West

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Refresh PR attends STYLEetc Spring Party

Refresh PR attends STYLEetc Spring Party


Manchester has long been established as a hub for the creative industries, with music playing a huge part in capturing the vibrancy and true spirit of the city in recent decades. 

With the Hacienda transformed into apartments, Oasis separated by feuding brothers and The Smiths long defunct, it appears that Manchester-born fashion is the next big thing!

With that in mind, the Refresh PR team went along to the STYLEetc Spring Party at Harvey Nichols this week, welcoming the magazine’s new editor Gemma Latham with a glass of champagne, whilst also taking a peek at the latest edition of the free quarterly glossy.

The magazine is a fantastic opportunity for Manchester-based designers and boutiques to get in the spotlight, and I would urge you to pick up a free copy of the magazine or visit the website to check it out for yourself!

In attendance were Manchester Evening News’ Diary Editor Dianne Bourne, stylist Matthew Moxham and TV presenter Michelle Eagleton.

I was a bit surprised that there wasn’t a Coronation Street cast member in sight, nor was there an appearance from Manchester designer Nadine Merabi.

Despite Manchester Fashion Week being postponed for the foreseeable future, it still remains an exciting time for Manchester fashion and it’s great that it is finally starting to gain the recognition it deserves.

If you have a fashion or lifestyle brand that you would like to see grow, why not get in touch with the award winning Refresh PR Team here.


Tagged with: , Celebrity, Coronation Street, Dianne Bourne, Fashion, Food & Drink, Gemma Latham, Harvey Nichols, Lifestyle, Manchester, Manchester Evening News, Manchester Fashion Week, Matthew Moxham, Michelle Eagleton, Nadine Merabi, Networking Event, North West , PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Retail, STYLEetc

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Cheesecake in the City

Last night Refresh PR had the pleasure of attending an event structured around cheesecake. And if there’s anything Refresh PR likes, it’s an event structured around a dessert.


‘Cheesecake in the City’ took place at the Bali Health Lounge in Manchester’s China Town, just a stone’s throw from our office in Piccadilly.


On offer was a massive range of desserts, each one reflecting a different country to fit the international theme of the event. For example, France offered up a crème brulee take on cheesecake while Jamaica’s dish featured spiced potato and coconut.


Surprising favourites among the Refreshers included the Moroccan rosewater cheesecake with spiced plums and the Indian mango and lime creation.


We’re not going to lie, not every combination was for us - using Tofu to create a vegan cheesecake isn’t something we’ll be attempting at home anytime soon. 


The spread was provided by two Manchester-based bakers, Teatime Collective and Manchester Cheesecake Company, both of whom love to try out new flavour combinations. They even created special recipes just for the event (for which we, but probably not our waistlines, are very grateful).


As always, our eyes were bigger than our stomachs, and we ate far too much of the cake on offer. If you’re bored of your average vanilla cheesecake, check out these bakers for something new.


Or, if you’re a company looking to boost awareness of your baked beauties, why not give us a call? We may be interested in a contra deal. J

Tagged with: , Bali Health Lounge, cheesecake, Cheesecake Collective, Food & Drink, Lifestyle, Manchester Cheesecake Company, Networking Event, PR, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Airport City: we’re excited, are you?

Refresh PR has been out and about networking a lot over the past few weeks.  From Women in Business events to the CIM Manchester’s Building Credibility in the Boardroom talk, we’ve been hearing about the amount of optimism out there at the moment in Manchester.


One talk that has got our tongues wagging in the office is a presentation about Manchester’s Airport City, which we watched while at the CIM Construction Industry Group’s Northern Conference. 


In recent years airports have had to diversify to generate income; with an increase in taxes on aviation and fuel prices, plus an increased need for security, the profit per person has been in decline.  So through car parking, retail and accommodation, airports have been able to re-address this balance and build new areas of profit into their business plans. 


Manchester Airport Group (MAG)’s biggest development plan is Airport City in Manchester.  It recognises that airports can be more than places that people use to travel.  That said, Manchester is the third busiest airport in the UK and flies to over 200 destinations (more than Heathrow).


So, what’s Airport City?


More than 80 Airport Cities have been built across the globe in the last 10 years.  Hong Kong, Singapore and Memphis are three examples.  Airport Cities consist of retail malls (which, we’ll be honest, is what really got our attention), conference centres, warehousing and logistics, office space, hotels, advanced manufacturing sites – and basically create areas for people to live, work and play.  Manchester’s Airport City will compete with Amsterdam, Barcelona and Frankfurt.


Airport City will reach out to international companies needing international access quickly.  These include graduates and entrepreneurs as well as those working in sectors such as advanced manufacturing, R&D, pharmaceuticals, professional services, IT, retail and leisure and hotel and conferencing.  The enterprise zone will offer tax breaks. 


·        Location: Land adjacent to Wythenshawe is being developed, which is situated between Jn5 and Jn6 of M56 over 4m sq feet of land.  It will take 15 years to complete and will cost £650m to build, becoming the best connected business destination in the world

·        Transport:  Links will be via train, bus and coach, plus via the Metrolink in 2016 which will go through various stops in Wythenshawe on the way into the city centre

·        Jobs: The airport employs around 19,000 workers, mainly from the local community.  The expansion of Airport City will see more local jobs created for people from Wythenshawe and the surrounding areas


So all in all, a great move to boost Manchester’s economy, create jobs and make us our city an even more desirable destination to visit than ever before – we’ll be up from seventh in no time!  Watch You Tube for more information: and



Tagged with: Built Environment, Construction, Leisure, Manchester, Manchester Airport, Marketing, Networking Event, North West , PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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MediaCity UK – Opportunities Galore

Last week Refresh PR went along to an event organised by the CIM Manchester committee at MediaCity UK. The audience, both CIM members and non-member marketers from the region, went along to listen to Paul Newman’s talk and then take a tour round the awe inspiring site which is set to change the media landscape in Manchester forever.  Sponsored and filmed by WebVM – - the video of the event can be viewed here.


Some quick media facts that we gleaned from Paul’s talk:

·      The BBC currently has 1200 staff on site, which will increase to 2500 by end of move

·      Coronation Street is due to complete a whole new build of its famous cobbles, moving the whole team from its historic Quay Street site in the city centre to the modern MediaCity UK by June 2013

·      Question of Sport was one of the first programmes to be transmitted, and the first Match of the Day came from studio next door last Saturday night.  In December the BBC’s flagship  Sports Personality of the Year will come from MediaCity UK too

·      BBC Breakfast will begin to broadcast from the site next March, and Radio 5 Live and the children’s programmes are already mostly transferred   


Planning permission has been gained for a big screen on the piazza, to entertain the crowds day and night.  The huge screen can even broadcast different content on each side, meaning that any potential programme clashes of next year’s sporting events – from London 2012 and Euro 2012 to Wimbledon – can be avoided, and the big sceen will still cater for all tastes by streaming live content across the site. Of course, there’s also the opportunity for commercial user generated this space!



Student opportunities

What an opportunity for students at The University of Salford!  By January 2012, 1500 students and staff will be occupyingthe site, providing each and every one with access to the best broadcast technology in existence today.  Students will even share the same building as ITV staff. 


And for the people of Manchester?

Businesses have launched in a creative way on the site over the past year, most notably Booths which brought sheep down from Cumbria for a photoshoot – the unusual stunt certainly created news headlines!  The shop is open until 10pm every night to cater for workers and local people in Manchester.


Since the site opened many local people have been to visit and see the site for themselves – everyone is welcome. The Holiday Inn is well occupied during the week and weekends – and the site is going from strength to strength.  And did we mention there are 400 flats for sale on the site, all supplied with up to 100mb broadband at the owner’s fingertips?  Navigation around the site is easy and parking is available at The Lowry Outlet car park – why not go and have a look next time you’re visiting Salford Quays? 


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

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Refresh PR at Marketing Week Live 2011

Marketing Week Live is taking place at Olympia today (29th July) and tomorrow.  Refresh PR has been at the conference, paying paRefresh PR at Marketing Week Liverticular attention to the online marketing show, and picked up some gems that we thought we’d share with you.


Unexpectedly, a lot of the talk today has been about social media, with audiences during these talks packed in – in fact it was standing room only at some.   It’s a popular subject and people want to be bang up to date with the latest knowledge.  The main messages coming out have been no surprise,but they are still worth thinking about:



1. It’s important to be clear on the purpose of the social media activity: why are you doing it, who are you targeting and what do you want it to achieve?   How does the social media activity integrate with the other marketing activity being undertaken by your organisation?


2. Don’t be scared of interacting with your community online, and don’t limit them.  Share your brand with them and give them the ability to help develop and shape your brand.  This will increase buy in, as seen with The Lynx Fallen Angels adverts which aired earlier this year, fronted by Kelly Brook (see  Lynx sent a brief to creatives and gave them the chance to shape how the campaign would look.  The company found that, amongst others, a graffiti artist come back with some fantastic designs that wouldn't otherwise have been used.  A skateboarder who had always wanted to do something different replied to the brief too, showing off his engraved skateboard.  Usually he would not have had the chance to show off his skill or contribute, but this gave him a chance to do so.  With this extra input, Lynx was able to built a campaign beyond anything they would have done themselves.  Lynx kept a record of this work through photos and videos (see the skateboards here:, which helped bring the Lynx audience closer to the brand, making them feel involved and at the same time generating more buzz around the brand - oh, and more online content too.

 Refresh PR visited Marketing Week Live 2011

3. Remember, you can't force people say good things about your brand, but when they do you can give them something back in return.  A good example here is GiftGaff (, which rewards existing customers with great discounts if they recommend the company to new customers.  A lot of the company’s new customers are coming through this word of mouth online recommendation, so much so it’s considered a top sales stream.


4. Social media activity can be the responsibility of many different people and departments within a company, from the marketing and PR teams to customer services.  Everyone who has a touchpoint with social media must be briefed on the company’s policy, etiquette, limitations and guidelines/best practice.  Without training and being aware of a company’s stance, how will they understand the full implication of what could be, for them, an innocent tweet about an off-day in the office?   Don’t assume everyone knows what you know.


5. A ‘crisis’ or a negative comment about your brand can’t always be managed in the way it traditionally has been.  It’s virtually impossible to control and ring fence a story due to the speed it travels around a global audience.  Companies must give more thought to managing social media. Who monitors it over the weekends and in the evenings, what do they do if a negative comment does appear and how can it be an opportunity to turn things around?  Companies must have a plan in place before they start to grow on any social channel.    In addition, at what point do the alarm bells start to ring – how many RTs or @replies will be considered tolerable before a brand acts on comments to ensure they don’t escalate – and how will a company handle such an event?  Having parameters in place helps everyone involved understand and manage the situation a lot better.


6. Measurement of social media is a hotly debated issue, although no one had a firm solution at today’s show.  How does a company measure social media success and the ROI from a campaign?  When a marketing manager walks into the board room to report on monthly marketing spend, how do they justify work on a twitter feed to the board?  Sentiment monitoring and engagement has been around for a while now - but when a board wants to hear the effect on the bottom line, how can this be made tangible?   Not all companies know what success looks like before they start a social media campaign.

 Refresh PR at Marketing Week Live 2011

7. Lastly, we picked up some tips on how to keep an online conversation going:

a.       Allow conversations to continue and flow – don’t cut comments off

b.       Engage different communities across different channels - speak with everyone, even if they wouldn’t be considered your traditional target audience, and spread yourself across these audiences too

c.       Ensure all channels are working together, for example on the BBC Magazine Facebook page fans can sign up to the BBC newsletter.  This works well so fans don’t navigate away from the page

d.       Trust your consumers – give them the opportunity to talk about your brand and be honest.  They are a good sounding board and all feedback is useful – if it is negative, use this to make improvements and show them that you have listened

e.       Make a lot of small bets – the team behind the Lynx Fallen Angels campaign started off with one big campaign idea and some smaller ones.  It turned out that some of the smaller (and cheaper!) ideas were the ones that had the most success.  It’s okay to hedge your bets and watch how things roll out


Zoe will be at Marketing Week Live tomorrow so watch out for another report with tips from Day 2.  Contact or call 0161 212 1695 for more information about social media campaigns.



Tagged with: Facebook, Networking Event, PR, Public Relations

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Manchester Digital Agencies discuss what’s in store for 2011

The Mi Network held a breakfast event at the offices of our client Photolink on Friday (25th Feb).  The Refresh PR Manchester team went along to network with some fellow PRs, meet some new contacts and listen to experts from the North West digital scene, including Craig Johnson from Photolink, Mando Group’s Matt Johnson and Nathalie Gross of Amaze.


With the topic of the event billed as “Strategies for digital survival in 2011,” ‘niche’, ‘collaborate’ and ‘listen’ were the definite buzz words. And, aside from having Vanilla Ice’s ‘Ice Ice Baby’ in our heads for the rest of the day, it was interesting (yet not unexpected) to know that this is the way the experts see 2011 panning out.


Collaboration is the name of the game this year as it’s that predicted clients will want to use several agencies which specialise in niche areas (PR, media buying, social media, digital etc) rather than integrated agencies offering everything under one roof.  While there are pros and cons of each, we have to agree that if clients have time to manage several agencies, it can often deliver a better return on investment.  Get the right mix of agencies in place and creative ideas will flow, while specialists will work on their own areas and provide real expertise.  Measurement and return on investment could be easier and more transparent too.


It was also interesting to hear the take on the BBC’s move to Manchester.  Promoted as a massive boost for the North West, will the BBC take digital and creative talent from the streets of Manchester and move it to Salford Quays, leaving us agencies drained of resources?  Should it be viewed as a threat rather than an opportunity for the North West creative scene? We’re not so sure on both accounts.  What we do agree with is that in three or four years there will be a lot of creative and digital experts out there looking for jobs and this will most definitely be of benefit to Manchester and beyond.  And can we keep people in Manchester?  Of course we can! 


To end this blog post we’ll leave you with Craig Johnson’s thoughts on building relationships and securing new business: “Treat it like going to the gym; do it little and often for best results.”  He’s clearly never seen a record of my gym activity.  It did shame me into spending 30 minutes on the cross trainer this weekend though. Thanks Craig!


Tagged with: Manchester, Networking Event, North West

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Fancy earning £140k a year? Make the move to India and this could be you!

Refresh PR’s Manchester team attended a fantastic event at our client Photolink Creative Group’s studios last week, and we learnt so much that we thought we’d share some of the juiciest morsels with you, in case you’re considering expanding your offering into India. Or if you’re a creative director over here and fancy doubling your income.


Tip 1: Be prepared to get back to basics

When Photolink arrived in India in 2007 to shoot a catalogue for one of the UK’s leading retailers, which became the first home shopping catalogue in India’s history, it needed to transform a 14,000 square foot warehouse in the centre of a slum into a state-of-the-art studio. Undeterred by this colossal challenge, it recruited a team of local men, which had the entire place ready in two days – without the use of ANYTHING electrical. Indian people are hugely resourceful; if they need a ladder, they simply build one out of any wood they can get their hands on, and scaffolding is made out of the remarkably strong, and abundant, bamboo.


Tip 2: Pick up the pace

Everything happens at super speed in India, as illustrated by the rapidity at which the studio mentioned above was constructed. Photolink’s MD, Jayne Riley, who has made over 30 trips to India in the last four years, loves getting caught up in the frenetic whirlwind, and finds the UK creative industry slow by comparison.


Tip 3: Go to parties

Never to decline an invitation – lots of business is done at parties, over dinner, and at sporting events, and Indian people are never happier than when they’re finding out how they can help you and who they can introduce you to, to help you achieve your business goals.


Tip 4: Remember that ‘yes’ doesn’t always mean, well, yes

Indian people are generally very proud and hate losing face by having to tell you that they’re not able to deliver for you. Learn that ‘yes’ has many, many inflections and you’ll be fine!


Tip 5: Give gifts

People love to give gifts in India. It’s a great way to break the ice at a business meeting, and it doesn’t need to be anything grand or expensive – the old adage “it’s the thought that counts” applies in Asia too.


Tip 6: Appeal to the youth market

23 is the average age in India, and the money sits with the youth - meaning that they hold all the power. There are hundreds of shopping malls currently being built all over India in illustration of this, so make sure that whatever your proposition or business model, it will appeal to this influential market. Cheesy Bollywood-style adverts are a thing of the past, and you’ll need to get clever with innuendo if you want to catch this audience’s attention.


Tip 7: Save your pennies

You might be surprised to learn that property in Mumbai is more expensive than in Paris and New York, so start saving now.


Tip 8: Deliver on time

Most of the big advertising agencies already have successful outfits in India, and smaller design shops are also thriving. The secret to their success isn’t that they’re necessarily doing anything spectacular, they’re just delivering on time. The prospect of moving continents becomes even more attractive when you learn that creative directors earn an average of £140,000 a year. Not bad!


Tip 9: Check out the employment regulations

There aren’t currently any employment regulations that would prevent a company from moving talent back and forth between India and the UK to meet demand, but this could well change, so it’s worth keeping abreast of developments in this area.


Tip 10: Put back into the community

To cement a company firmly in the hearts of the Indian people, it’s crucial to give back to the community. Take a leaf out of Photolink’s book and sponsor or fund a cricket team, or find a charity such as Youth Reach in Delhi to work with and deliver something that makes a real difference.



Tagged with: Creative Director, India, Mumbai, Networking Event, PR, Public Relations

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Out and About - Approaching India with a Smile

The Refresh PR Manchester team is really looking forward to this networking event, which is being hosted by the Manchester Publicity Association (MPA) at our client Photolink Creative Group’s swanky studios next Thursday 20th January 2011.  

This is the second instalment of the MPA’s popular ‘World Class Series’ and will see Photolink founder David Walter sharing his tips on how to enter the Indian market, the best way to negotiate, how to deal with corruption, and how to recruit the hottest talent.

This must-attend event is being chaired by North West Business Insider’s Michael Taylor, and although tickets are free they are strictly limited so we’d recommend getting in touch with the MPA’s events team pronto to reserve your space – See you there!

Event details:

Date: Thursday 20th January 2011

Time: 5.30pm for 6.00pm start

Venue: Photolink Creative Group, The Old School House, Thirsk Street, Manchester, M12 6PN

Tagged with: Marketing, Networking Event, North West , Public Relations