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Why in-housing doesn’t need to be a death mark for agencies



As budgets continue to be cut and every penny of marketing spend is scrutinised, in-housing is becoming a serious issue for agencies. Indeed, there have been numerous reports released recently about the proliferation of in-housing marketing functions. Dentsu Aegis’ annual CMO Study revealed that 58% of CMOs intend to bring more digital capabilities in-house within the next three years, while new research from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) told us that 86% of marketing teams are currently - or are planning on - in-housing in the next three years.

The proliferation of in-housing is also something we discussed at length during a roundtable with a number of North West agencies just a few months back. The event saw us discussing Manchester Digital’s 2019 Agency Insights Survey, which revealed that 69% of agencies have lost budget through in-housing over the past year.

And while some agency folks may squirm in their seats reading this, I believe there will always be a place for agencies - it isn’t an ‘either/or’ conversation. However, as in-housing continues to become more commonplace, one thing is certain: agencies will have to work harder and harder to prove value. To help in doing that, here are some of the main points of difference I believe agencies can provide to marketing teams:

1.       Creativity

This will always be top of my list. Indeed, when I speak to clients, a large proportion of them value creativity above anything else when working with an agency.  

Yes, there are a lot of very creative people in in-house roles, but those people are often pulled in every direction, dragged into a lot of meetings and landed with unexpected jobs that, a lot of the time, don’t actually fall into their remit. As a result, creative ideas sessions are often the last thing on an in-house marketer’s mind. So, they rely on us agency folk - who have time allocated in our days and weeks for ideation - to provide creative ideas and execute them well.

And as the threat of automation continues, the ability to inject creativity and a point of difference into campaigns - which can’t be done by a robot - will become an increasingly important way for agencies to stay ahead of the game.

2.        A new perspective

Ever feel like you’re stuck in an echo chamber? It seems like a lot of marketers do. A stat from the DMA survey stuck with me – 37% of respondents cited concerns about creating an ‘echo-chamber’ of ideas by in-housing – as really hitting the nail on the head.

Marketing teams that open themselves up to agencies coming in to their business and providing a new perspective (and challenging the norm if required) will benefit hugely. Those that don’t have their heads in the business day in and day out will be able to take a step back, take an overarching view of the problem, challenge or opportunity, and usually offer a new take on things that might have never crossed the mind of an in-house marketer.  Good partner agencies will also be able to provide support to internal teams and act as a sounding board.

In order for this relationship to work at its best, agencies and marketing teams must work hard on cultivating a transparent and honest relationship from the outset.

3.       Cross-industry thinking

Unless you are an extremely niche agency, it’s highly likely that you and the team around you has a great deal of experience across a range of different sectors. Marketing teams that feel in a rut from operating in the same sector day in and day out can make use of agencies’ cross sector experience and use it to their advantage.

Taking learnings from different sectors is another crucial element to adding new perspective and scoping out new ways of doing things. At Refresh, we operate across three pretty different core sectors – tech, construction and food, drink and retail - and we regularly make use of cross-sector knowledge when developing strategies and campaigns.

4.       Specialist knowledge

As a result of often being pulled in multiple directions, it’s common for in-house marketers to become generalists rather than specialists – something that I think is right, but not without its difficulties. Generalists simply don’t have the time to master every discipline of marketing - whether that’s comms, PR, PPC, SEO, advertising, POS, influencer marketing - well.

This is where agencies come in; there’s an agency out there for everything. While some agencies specialise in multiple marketing functions, I believe the opportunity for agencies here comes from offering a specialism and being great at it. At Refresh, we pride ourselves on doing PR and doing it well. We’re not an SEO agency, we’re not an influencer agency, we’re a PR agency. We’ve made a conscious decision not to jump on trends and instead be the absolute best in our core field.

The agency / in-house relationship can still thrive

As the instances of in-housing become increasingly common, agencies must continue to seek out their clients’ pain points and evolving needs and adapt their service offerings in line with these. At the same time, agencies and client teams must work hard to foster a true partnership approach. It’s the marketing teams that view agencies as partners rather than suppliers that will derive the most value from a relationship.

 

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

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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.

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

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Nailing that pitch



Pitching to journalists is an essential part of media relations. You could have the best idea to exist, but if it’s not packaged and presented effectively, it might never see the light of day, meaning it’s crucial to get it right the first time.

Pitching can also be daunting at times, and if you work in public relations, you’re likely to be familiar with that sinking feeling when your bright ideas go unanswered.

But one should never dwell on this, as when it comes to pitching, a wide array of approaches can be taken with no set ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers, so long as it works! You just have to find what works for you and run with it.

Here, I’ve shared some my own pitching tips and tricks.

Prepare and research

Before anything else, ensure your idea is relevant to the platform you’re pitching it to by giving the publication a good read, listen or watch.

Ask yourself: Is this idea original? Is it right for the audience? Will it spark a discussion?

Next, make sure you pitch to the correct person. Most journalists receive hundreds of pitches every day and the last thing they need is you further clogging-up their inbox with emails that are of no use to them. Find out which journalists are writing similar pieces to what you’re pitching, or simply call the editorial team and ask who the best person would be to send your idea to.

Gorkana is also a great tool for retrieving this information, and a lifesaver for communications professionals across the globe! In addition to providing an overview of the media outlet, circulation figures and all kinds of other useful stuff, publications list their journalists, their roles, contact details and what they like to write about. You can often find the pitch preferences of individual journalists too (e.g. ‘email only’).

There’s also no harm in giving the person you’re pitching to a search on Twitter. A quick scroll down their feed allows you to get a better idea of their personality, interests and views, which can help inform the way you approach them. I also, oddly, seem to find it easier to pitch to journalists if I know what they look like…just me? Thought so.

Timing is also key. Many journalists work unconventional hours, meaning your pitch could be landing in an unmanned inbox without prior research. Again, check the website and the journalists’ Twitter to see if they have been active recently.

Build strong media relationships

Before going any further, I want to stress that the indispensable value of meeting journalists in person should never be overlooked, and should be done wherever possible.

Take them for a coffee and get to know them as a person as well as a journalist, find out their interests, what makes them tick, and express your interest in what they do. Basically, become their best mate. It’s a million times easier to do this in person that it is via email or on the phone, and they’re much less likely to say no when you’re right in front of them!

By allowing them to put a face to your name, you’re also much more likely to receive a response when they see your emails land in their inbox.

If you can’t meet with a journalist for whatever reason, gaining their trust and respect is simple; consistently send them good ideas, bring them to life with quality content, and deliver them on deadline. Trust can also just as easily be lost by doing the opposite of this.

Be concise

As we’re all well aware, journalists are extremely busy people who are often working to tight deadlines, meaning you want to occupy as little of their time as possible whilst still ensuring you get the message across.

A good start is to remove the likes of “How are you?” or “I hope you’re well”. While this may seem like the pleasant thing to do, it can often come across as overly polite, especially if you don’t know one another very well. Just get straight to the nitty gritty by summarising exactly what your story is in the first sentence.

Following this, bullet points can often be effective to summarise your key points, as well as any relevant statics or research to give credibility to your narrative.

Similarly, when pitching over the phone, it’s a good idea to draft a brief script to run off to ensure you nail all of your points with conviction without going off track.

An eye-catching, succinct subject line is also vital. Lead with a clear indicator so the journalist instantly knows what the piece is about, such as ‘TECH NEWS:’ or ‘OPINION:’ for example. This can essentially make or break your pitch, as it can be the difference between the journalist reading on or discarding it all together.

Finally, before hitting send, look back through the email and remove anything that doesn’t say something new.

Final quick-fire tips

·         Unless it’s urgent, always email in the first instance. Research has proven that the majority of reporters prefer email communication, and this gives you something in writing to reference when following-up

·         Don’t give everything away. A pitch should be viewed as tool grab the attention of journalists, as such, invite a reply by offering additional information such as accompanying images, access to research or an interview should they express interest

·         Three is enough. One email, one follow-up email and one phone call is enough. If at this point you’re still unsuccessful, draw a line under it and pitch a new idea

 

 

Tagged with: PR, PR campaign essential, PR Manchester, Public Relations

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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. 

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

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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.

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

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Paddy Power’s latest PR campaign gets people talking again



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

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

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

Was it worth it?

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

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

The power of PR

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

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

Tagged with: Lifestyle, Manchester, Marketing, PR

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Double recognition for Refresh PR in CIPR Awards



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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Refresh PR sees a digital future



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Busting the myths around PR



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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



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

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

Relationships

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

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

Cut through

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

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

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

Results

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

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

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Procrastinating? You can now blame the internet



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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

An unlikely hero

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

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

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

A change in fortunes?

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

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

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

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

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UK tech on a global stage: 2019 Tech Nation report



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A ‘FEIN’ new client for Refresh PR



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Can delivery replace the microwave meal?’ Certainly not.



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

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Heating Installer Awards - The Highlights



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

National coverage

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

Meeting new people

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

Our sponsors

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

Social media

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

Sponsor events

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

Installer2019

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

Parties

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

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

 

 

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

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



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

  

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Second awards shortlist of 2019 for Refresh PR



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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



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

 

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

 Refresh PR's tech team

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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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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Three takeaways from Manchester Digital’s 2019 skills festival



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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The Growth of FinTech in Manchester



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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Should social media be left to the intern?



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

When YouTube mixed up its flag…

You Tube example

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Alaska example

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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The not-so-smart market of smart speakers



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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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Influencers: Are they still influential?



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

 

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


The making of an influencer

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

 

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

 


The role of social media

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

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

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

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

 


Trusted voices

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

 


Importance in PR

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

 

 

 

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

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Three Months as a Grad at Refresh PR



Entering the daunting world of work

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

 

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


Application process

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

 

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

 

On the job

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Advice for other grads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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Tech Thrives Outside London



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Structural Weaknesses

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

1.      Access to capital

2.      Access to growth space for businesses that are growing

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

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

 

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

 

Salary drop versus lifestyle boost

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

 

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

 

There are strengths – and they need to be played to

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

 

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

 

The future is bright

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

 

 

 

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

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



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

 

Refresh PR Construction Award

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

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



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

 

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

 

Why it’s important

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

 

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

 

How tech companies can do more of it  

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

 

Figure out what you need from PR

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

 

Make a name for yourself at events

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

 

Make the most of industry bodies

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

 

Get out there!

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

 

Leading the way

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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



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

 

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

 

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

 

A booming sector needs space to grow

 

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

 

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

 

Success attracts success

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Manchester – the second city

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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Factoring Brexit into PR plans



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

 

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

 

Anticipating the unexpected

 

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

 

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

 

Putting politics to one side

 

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

 

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

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

 

Factoring Brexit into PR and communication plans

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

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



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Neglecting media training 101

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

 

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

 

Mistakes happen to the best of us

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

 

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

 

 

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

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Refresh PR Graduate Programme 2018




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

Working in a fantastic location in the Northern Quarter, we’re a sociable bunch of like-minded people who really enjoy what we do. We’re proud to be a fun, friendly team offering a more flexible approach to work. We’re looking for people filled with energy and enthusiasm who are proactive, persistent and methodical in their approach with a real eye for detail and may even pride themselves on being a perfectionist! Considerate and supportive; we want real team players with the ability to remain calm and considered when faced with new or pressurised situations.

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

The Refresh DNA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

More about the programme

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

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

 

What is the selection process?

We will undertake a comprehensive selection process with 3 stages:

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

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

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

 

What next?

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

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

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Tech Companies Thriving in Manchester



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Avoiding boom turning to bust

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Promote, engage, attract

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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What does Gen Z mean for the future of HR?



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

Lakeside Hote and Spa

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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



Working in a fantastic location in the Northern Quarter, we’re a sociable bunch of like-minded people who really enjoy what we do.  We’re proud to be a fun, friendly team offering a more flexible approach to work. 

 

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

 

You’ll have already gained valuable PR agency experience with at least a year spent working at junior account manager/account manager level so you’ll hit the ground running and will have already proved you’re great at developing and managing PR campaigns aligned to clients’ objectives.  You’re great at building relationships; a trusted partner to your clients and experienced in coaching teams to ensure they are delivering quality results consistently. From networking, to developing and delivering pitches, you have a real passion for business development and will want to bring on board new clients you’re passionate about. 

 

More broadly, we’re looking for someone filled with energy and enthusiasm who is proactive, persistent and methodical in their approach with a real eye for detail – you may even pride yourself on being a perfectionist! You are considerate and supportive; a real team player with the ability to remain calm and considered when faced with new or pressurised situations.

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Bee in the City



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Bee in the City

 

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

 Bee in the City

Here is our local pretty pick Piccadilly bee!

 

Bee in the City

 

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

 

 

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

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Reasons to love Manchester…



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Podcasts you’ve got to listen to…




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

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

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

S Town

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

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

Reply All

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

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

Eat Sleep Work Repeat

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

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

The Totally Football Show

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Welcome to The Lakeside Hotel and Spa



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 The Lakeside Hotel and Spa

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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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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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Meet The Team



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

How did you get into PR?

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

What do you love most about working in PR?

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

What do you think you bring to Refresh PR?

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

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

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

Finally, where do you see the future of PR?

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

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

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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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What I Love About PR This Valentine’s Day



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

 

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

 

PR gets results

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

 

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

 

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

 

PR is subtle

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

 

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

 

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

 

PR is cost effective

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

 

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

 

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The 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. 

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Bottoms up to Lidl’s New Campaign



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So cheers Lidl – pass me the pinot!

 

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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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How will businesses respond to the recent Facebook changes?



On Thursday it was revealed that Facebook will be changing its algorithms once again, so users will begin to see more posts on their news feed from family and friends, rather than posts from brands and publishers. The CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, explained he’s bringing in the change to make sure “the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent.” So what does this mean for PR professionals who use Facebook as a key mechanism when working with clients?

If used correctly, social media can be an extremely influential PR tool, and Facebook has been growing in popularity for businesses who want to capture consumer interest during ‘down time’, i.e. the hours we’re not in work and are instead, switching off and pursuing our personal interests.

It’s been acknowledged by Mark Zuckerberg that “the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down," meaning there will be even less opportunity to consume content from businesses and publishers. As such, businesses that once used Facebook as their sole tool to engage with the public will now have to begin using a variety of other channels to connect with their target audience. A ‘one size fits all’ mentality is not the correct approach to take;  channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+ and more will have to be utilised better in order to gain similar levels of traction once offered by Facebook. That said, not all consumers use every channel available, so it’s important to analyse where your specific target audience consumes its content.

Only time will tell whether this is a huge gamble by Facebook. By making this decision, it will have dramatically decreased its support from publishers and business, which may leave investors to question their involvement with the organisation.

Or, will it prove to be a smart move? When the changes come into place, companies may reveal that it hasn’t affected them as much as expected, or find it’s forced them to seek alternative methods of promotion which yield better results.

Ultimately, it’s essential for businesses to keep up to date on how changes like this could affect how they reach their customers and therefore, the nature of their entire company.

If you need help or guidance with your social media and online PR support, find out what we can do for you here: http://www.refreshpr.co.uk/page/88/Social-Media.htm. Alternatively, contact us on 0161 871 1188.

 

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Strong start to 2018 as Refresh PR welcomes four new clients



Manchester-based agency, Refresh PR, has secured four new clients, delivering the agency’s most successful growth period to-date.  The PR agency, which recently celebrated its eighth birthday, has won new clients for its built environment, retail and lifestyle teams.

 

After a competitive five-way pitch, Cheadle based Equity Housing Group, a social housing provider with over 4,500 properties across the country, selected Refresh to manage its PR and deliver crisis communications. The campaign will work to reinforce Equity Housing Group’s established position within the housing sector.

 

When speaking of the win, Erin Heywood, head of B2B at Refresh PR, said: “Refresh PR has extensive experience in both the housing and construction sectors and our expertise in these areas shone throughout the pitch. The social housing market presents some exciting challenges and we look forward to working on Equity Housing Group’s PR and communications.”

 

Helena Banfield, marketing, brand and comms manager at Equity Housing Group, continued: “A number of agencies pitched for Equity Housing Group’s PR contract however we were impressed with the industry knowledge, out of the box thinking and enthusiasm from the team at Refresh PR. There are exciting times ahead for Equity Housing Group and we look forward to welcoming Refresh PR to be a part of that.”

 

Following project work in 2017, Refresh PR has also been appointed by Calla Shoes, a manufacturer of beautiful and stylish footwear for women with bunions, and Esteem – No Pause, a clothing collection designed specifically for women experiencing symptoms associated with the menopause. Calla and Esteem are both part of the successful Entrepreneurial Spark Business Accelerator, the world's largest free people accelerator for start-up and scaleup businesses.  

 

Using its extensive knowledge of the fashion, women’s lifestyle and e-commerce markets, Refresh PR has developed bold strategic consumer campaigns for both Calla and Esteem, utilising a clever mix of content, video, imagery and media relations to reach the brands’ niche audiences effectively.

 

Further cementing Refresh’s expertise in online retailing PR, BuildmyGift.com has also signed to work with Refresh PR. Launched in November 2017, BuildmyGift.com, was created out of a need for better and more personalised gifting options. Refresh PR has already used a hard-working press office and influencer outreach to secure prominent coverage for the ambitious start-up.

 

Caroline Gibson, head of consumer at Refresh PR, said of the wins: “Calla, Esteem and buildmygift.com were all new business launches that required intensive PR campaigns to introduce them to both the media, and the public. Conducting project work in 2017 demonstrated not only Refresh’s ability to provide PR that has clear influence on the profitability of the companies, but also our love for the work that we do. 2018 is an exciting time for Refresh PR and our new clients.”

 

Contact Refresh PR on 0161 871 1188 to find out more about the business.

 

 

 

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Stupidest monkey in the industry



We are less than two weeks into the New Year and fashion giant H&M has already caused a mammoth amount of controversy surrounding its ‘coolest monkey in the jungle’ hoody.

The product, which was modelled on a black child as part of the company’s marketing material, has sparkled a huge amount of backlash on social media and news channels alike, with many calling it ‘disgusting’, ‘inappropriate’ and ‘negligent’, for obvious reasons.

Many of the outraged customers hit back at H&M by heading straight to social media. And as the tweets began to grow, more and more people started to learn about the campaign, including celebrities and MPs. Singer The Weeknd has already cut ties with the company despite having a collaboration with them. The ‘Starboy’ singer took to twitter in a statement saying: “shocked and embarrassed by this photo. I’m deeply offended and will not be working with H&M anymore.”

Fashion brands are a huge part of our lifestyle and culture, and they go to great lengths to grow a loyal following and build relationships with customers. With this in mind it’s hard to understand how H&M didn’t think of the potential consequences surrounding launching a campaign featuring this material. Labelling and discrimination are always hot – but contentious – topics on the global agenda, so it’s bizarre to think H&M, a brand that famously stands for international equality and raising standards across the world, could have had such a poor judgement on the campaign.

H&M has since apologised, has recognised the concern and more importantly has admitted its failure. The jumper in question has been removed from sales and all images have been removed from their website.

I feel all of these are the first steps for H&M to try and build back brand loyalty and trust.  I think recovering trust amongst those who took offence probably requires more action than this, however it shows H&M has recognises an insensitive campaign – albeit a little too late.

 

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2018: A century on and another year of big change



While the event that comes to mind first and foremost for many when looking back 100 years to 1918 is the end of WW1, 1918 holds other key milestones – one of which will be celebrated up and down the UK over the coming few weeks: The Representation of the People Act 1918.

 

On 6th February 1918 the act passed electoral reform which would allow many returning soldiers, as well as women, to vote for the very first time. A massive milestone for women, it meant that 8.4 million females (but not all just yet, that’s a few years off!) could have a say in the country’s future.

 

As women, we’ve come a long way over the past 100 years – there are many milestones that I could (and I’m sure people will over the coming weeks) list out. And obviously I’m ultimately grateful to events from 100 years ago as it’s paved the way for many women, like me, to launch and grow successful businesses. However, I don’t want to focus this blog on women on boards, the perceived ‘glass ceiling’ or the gender pay gap though. Instead I want to look at the legacy that 2018 could leave.

 

The pace of change we’ve seen over the past 100 years is accelerating at a speed that would have been unimaginable even in the first decade of this century. Driven largely by technology, but also mass innovation, it’s impossible to compare the work environment of just 20 or even 10 years ago to that of 2018. And it’s simple – today’s businesses have to adapt, and quickly.

 

This year the media environment is going to change massively. In an era when there’s a big debate between freedom of speech and ‘fake news’ (thanks Donald) and the license to post whatever thoughts a person deems relevant on social media (ie in the public domain) with relatively no backlash, change is afoot. As every person is now technically a journalist able to report the news, I hope that the integrity of the more respected news outlets remains, without them bowing to advertising’s income too much. Meanwhile Google, Apple and Amazon continue to invest in original video content to hook people in, create differentiation and start to rival the bigger broadcasters.

 

The political environment is an ever moving beast too. Under President Trump, I’m in a horrific situation of almost feeling entertained by his Twitter account. I’m entertained (but probably in the wrong way), interested (that a President believes that the new era of politics is to dare and double dare another President), embarrassed (that I’ve resorted to following him in the way I occasionally would a Z-list celeb) and shocked. It’s 2018 and he’s already ripping up the rule book…could this be the way that politics is played out from now on? Could it?

 

Business-wise, Brexit continues to cause issues when companies can’t – or won’t – make buying decisions, unfortunately slowing things down. We work with several companies which import from the EU and I’m lucky to be in a position where I can hear their strategies, all of which are very different, but all aimed at buffering their business from the various political scenarios. In this area particularly I’m looking forward to coming out the other side.

 

Closer to home, as Refresh moves into its eighth year, we’ve geared ourselves up to deliver our most successful year to date. We’re lucky that as a company we can remain agile, and make changes happen quickly when needed (and we have). Yet it’s taken nine months of careful planning by a team of four directors here at Refresh to put in place the ‘new look’ Refresh which some clients have already been benefitting from over the past months, and others will be seeing shortly as we begin work on their 2018 campaigns. From a team of highly skilled consultants will come the best work we’ve ever been able to deliver, for big and small businesses alike. For clients, online content will be embedded into everything we do, together with inter-agency working to deliver clever and well thought out integrated campaigns.

 

And for me, I’m in a position where I consider myself more supported than ever by the fantastic team around me, which is a really simple thing to take for granted when you have it, but I’ll never stop being grateful for this, particularly given some past experiences. I focus strongly on making the right decisions which mean I can sleep at night – something that’s stood me in great stead so far and something I continue to pay close attention to.  We’re also here to make money – we want the team to get great bonuses and the pay increases that they deserve and I make no apologies for this, so a key focus is to work with clients which will genuinely grow with us, recognising our contribution to their growing success story. We’ll shortly be announcing four new clients which signed with us recently, allowing us to really kick 2018 off with a bang.  

 

Hot on the heels of being crowned the CIPR North West’s Outstanding Small Agency 2017, coming out of this key period of change has given Refresh a clear vision for 2018 and beyond – and we’re ready to run at 2018! It’s going to be an exciting year ahead; with small milestones of our own to reach - and then celebrate - throughout the year, I’m already looking forward to being part of this legacy!

 

 

 

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The changing face of the BBC



When looking for news that I can rely on to be acutely accurate and up to date, I will hold my hands up and say I’m a BBC kinda gal. Some prefer Sky, other prefer the online version of their favourite newspaper. But for me, the BBC – with its outstanding journalists, familiar tone of voice and truly British identity – is the ‘go to’ place for what’s happening in the world right now.

But of late (perhaps slowly over the last 12 months or so), I’ve noticed its content change quite significantly. And I’ll admit – I was worried.  

We all know the mainstream media has had to alter its reporting style and subjects in order to meet the changing demands of the readers, who are typically more inclined to check social media than pick up a newspaper in order to get their daily dose of current affairs. And when the public is now – apparently – more interested in the latest celebrity gaff caught on camera than what their elected politician is doing to improve living conditions in their local area, it’s understandable – even if not comprehendible – that the majority of news outlets would alter their priorities to suit this.

If you were to click on to the BBC website right now, you’d say: ‘yeah, and the BBC is no different’. Yesterday alone, there were stories on the top jokes from the Golden Globes, a countdown of phrases we have Donald Trump to thank for and a link to a piece on how to get yourself to the gym. Synonymous with the longstanding commitment the BBC has made to explore the hardest-hitting, breaking news from around the world? No, and not what we expect from the stalwart of British reporting.

But do a comparison of these BBC articles and their counterparts elsewhere in the world, and the difference is automatically clear. Rather than egging on the story to take it to its next level, the BBC instead simply reports the fact that such a ridiculous story is news in the first place. Its coverage is almost tongue in cheek, as if it’s questioning why these matters are in fact news in the first place.

While truth and accuracy are constantly in disrepute in the media world, the BBC is standing strong in its ability to deliver the news we need to know, and challenge us on what we THINK we need to know.

And while readership figures continue to drop amongst the newspapers that have dominated our shelves for decades, if, like me, you’re a BBC kinda gal, you’re probably going to stay that way for a very long time.

 

 

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Refresh PR: Top Five Celebrities of 2017



What makes someone a celebrity is constantly changing and evolving but below are the ones that got us talking this year.

  1. Gemma Collins – the queen of memes. Whether people are laughing at her or with her is still up for debate, but the internet has elevated her fame in 2017 and no one can really understand why!

  2. Meghan Markle – with her engagement to Prince Harry earlier this month, Meghan has gone from Hollywood superstar to royalty. Her soon to be place as Duchess of Sussex is further demonstrating the evolution of the Royal family

  3. Ariana Grande – her response after the devastating arena attacks made her an Honorary Citizen of Manchester and we’re proud to have her

  4. The Women of Hollywood – for finally standing up to the male centric power that have long ruled the entertainment industry

  5. Holly Willoughby – a new look and a new wardrobe has helped raise Holly from loveable TV presenter to absolute fashion icon (who doesn’t love a rebrand?)

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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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Social media – the dos and don’ts



Social Media is constantly developing and expanding, and it can be a tricky one to get right. The temptation to use it as a platform to promote your products and service can often lead to a lacklustre feed with minimal engagement. Here, we’re going to look at the golden rules of social media and how you can use it to maximise your business.

Sharing is caring

Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook et al are designed to share information. Whether it is quick snippets limited to 280 characters (we’re still not onboard with the character increase), or thought leadership articles hosted on LinkedIn, there are no limits to the content that can be shared to your following. It is important however that each piece of content shared is valuable to your audience. Throwing out product plug after product plug, however interesting you find it, will turn your followers off and create a stagnant account. Share industry news, relevant national news items, social trends and information your following will find valuable.

Engage

Twitter describes itself as ‘sparking a global conversation’, with conversation being the most important word here. There is no point in executing a social media campaign if you aren’t going to engage. Reply to tweets, express your opinion, ask open ended questions, even set up a poll; it is paramount you use social media to engage with your potential customers. Creating a relationship with potential customers is the first step to generating a sale, and this first connection can be made without leaving the comfort of your office.

Hashtags

You can’t expect people to stumble across your profile without promoting yourself. Whilst links directing people from your website will work at engaging current customers, using hashtags could generate new business. Whether it’s #Lipstick, #PlasticPlumbing or #StudentAccommodation, anyone using these search terms will be presented with your content, helping you widen your audience and build your following.

Tone of voice

From our experience, people think the social media platform dictates the tone of voice, meaning LinkedIn is full of formal jargon whilst a Twitter feed is littered with colloquialisms and GIFs. This leads to a confused company ethos and a disjointed tone of voice. The best way to determine how and what you write is by looking at your audience and adjusting accordingly. If you’re targeting potential investors, then Kim K memes are probably not best placed, across the board. Likewise, if you’re looking to engage with football fans or families, then a more colloquial term is more appropriate.

Images

A picture’s worth a thousand words has never been truer than on social media. Timelines are a very busy place and you need to use any tool possible to grab a user’s attention. Images achieve a higher engagement rate than plain text on social media and so are a vital tool to adopt. Whether it’s a photo to support and article, an infographic or a video, where appropriate use an image to see your content interactions increase. Moreover, Facebook rewards this content and so you will see your posts appearing above others, further increasing engagement.

Social media can be tricky to navigate, and with rules and trends changing so quickly it can be difficult to keep up. Investing a couple of hours a week in your social media offering will see you reap the benefits. If time isn’t an option, hiring an agency to provide expert guidance on your social media output will see you hit your key business objectives.

For more information on how Refresh PR can help your social media efforts, call: 0161 871 1188.

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Refresh PR is named Outstanding Small PR Agency 2017 by CIPR



Refresh is officially the North West’s Outstanding Small PR Agency 2017, according to the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.


Crowned at the North West PRide Awards, the long established and most recognised awards in all PR professional’s calendars, Refresh was recognised for the steps that it has taken in the past year to listen to its clients in an ever changing business landscape, and adapt to the new requirements that customers demand from PR.


The best small PR agency in the North West

The CIPR judges said: “Recognising the need to evolve, Refresh PR has achieved great success across its business. From winning an impressive new line-up of clients to implementing sound business processes, the agency has delivered on what it said it would. It's commitment to CPD is evident, particularly its Refresh Academy initiative, while the quality of work is evidenced by the campaign they chose to highlight – a worthy Gold Award winner.”


Copywriting, press office, SEO, Google and more



The evolution at Refresh that the judges refer to is a direct response to understanding the needs and wants of clients, and the daily challenges that they face. From support with SEO, responding to Google Trends and the statistics on Google Analytics through to driving the strategic direction of PR, social media campaigns, managing PR in a crisis situation and organising roundtables – in addition to press office of course! – the role of the PR professional in 2018 is a very different one to years gone by. Clients need versatile agencies which can deliver informed and tangible campaigns driven by sound and unquestionable statistics and research – all backed with a creative that helps them to stand out from the crowd.

 




Best North West Business and Corporate Communications Campaign

 

Refresh PR, based in Manchester, also took home the award for the Best Business and Corporate Communications Campaign for its work in the food, drink and retail sector. The judges commented that: “Among several strong contenders in this category, it was a robust rationale, clear objectives and a well-informed strategy that helped Refresh PR win the award, not to mention tangible, measurable outcomes. Building on their success…the team applied what they learnt, combining it with some smart thinking to bring together current media and social media trends in the world of food.”


If you’d like to hear more about how Refresh PR’s consultants can help you, please get in touch via info@refreshpr.co.uk or 0161 871 1188.


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PR horror stories



October - the month that the majority of us now associate with Halloween due to its increasing popularity over recent years. It now dominates social media, from makeup tutorials to plumbing horror stories. Anyone and everyone can get involved, and because we didn’t want to feel left out, we compiled a list of some recent PR tales of terror. Be warned, some are very, very frightening…

1. Monarch - Earlier this month, Monarch, the low-cost airline left passengers stranded abroad. “Important! Monarch has stopped operating. Please do not go to the airport.”” read the message sent out by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The way Monarch handled the situation can only be described as horrific. It left employees and holiday makers heartbroken. After 49 years of flying tens of millions of passengers to Europe and beyond, Monarch seemed unable to communicate its situation not only to customers, but staff too. An email was sent to employees by Andrew Swaffield, the CEO, just days before the collapse, telling them to avoid speculation about the airline’s problems, giving many false hope. 

2. Uber - Earlier this month Refresh PR wrote a blog detailing the events surrounding Uber’s fate in London. It was brought to the attention of the public that it had not been conducting thorough background checks on its drivers and hasn’t been reporting criminal offenses directly to the police. Although Uber fought for its right to remain on the streets of London, its licence was denied renewal. Uber received overwhelming support on social media as many members of the public took to Twitter to declare their outrage. However, it goes to show even mass social media support sometimes isn’t enough. The decision led to terrifying PR for the firm. 

3. Dove - The beauty brand often recognised for its empowering campaigns found itself in a sticky situation when it uploaded a three second video on its US Facebook page. The video showed a black woman removing her top to reveal a smiling white woman underneath and was deemed racist by many. Dove received a huge amount of negative press as many were in shock that the company could go against its well established brand values of equality and inclusiveness. 

4. Misguided - The clothing store Misguided, a brand extremely popular with women and teenage girls, got itself into a PR crisis when it decided to put up a neon sign in its Bluewater store in Kent saying: ‘Send me nudes x’. Rachel Gardner, a youth worker, declared her disappointment with the sign, creating a petition for it to be taken down. 9000 people signed the petition, believing the sign promoted a negative culture and was very disrespectful. 

Although some of these PR fails are truly terrifying they did get people talking about the brand, which always begs the question - is any press good press?

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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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Does ethical PR equal good PR



In this fast moving industry where do we source our ethical guidance?

As marketing professionals it is our role to promote people, brands or companies, to change consumer behaviour – whether that is buying a product or voting for a politician. But with this power comes responsibility, as Bell Pottinger recently found out when it was removed from a leading industry body, following a campaign that the PRCA claimed spread racial hatred.

We also recently read about the TV advertisements which received the most complaints in 2017. One featuring a businessman twerking in high heels, another a kissing scene between a same sex couple and one which shows a mother telling her son about his dead father’s favourite  burger.

Whether you are offended by these ads or not, the point is that there is a regulator which is actively protecting UK consumers from misleading advertising or ones they find inappropriate. Whereas for PR the lines are not as clear-cut. 

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

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

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

Here at Refresh PR we get our ethics from our people and our clients.

Firstly we only employ the best people across our built environment, food, drink and retail, leisure and lifestyle, and tech teams, professionals who are able to connect the dots between business objectives, current consumer behaviour and future trends to create campaigns that achieve impact for all the right reasons.

Secondly, we will only ever work with brands that we believe in and which are as transparent with us about their operations as we are with them. From low calorie alcohol and botanically based health and beauty to student accommodation and social enterprises, our clients are passionate about their products and providing the best to their customers.

Both of these factors mean that we rarely have to question the ethical impact of the work we’re doing and if we are ever unsure we simply change tack, for something equally as impactful but without any negative connotations.  

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Teamwork Makes the Dream Work



Is the whole really greater than the sum of its parts?

Simply put, yes! Whether you believe the rule of seven or not, there is nothing more impactful than a campaign that communicates the same message to its audience across all of its platforms. Whether that’s a social media campaign that complements the print advertising, or a feature in a magazine that backs up the brand messages shared on its latest viral video – consistency is key.

It’s for this reason that we enjoy working with other agencies to create a ‘whole’ campaign that makes an impact and ultimately changes behaviour.

However, with so many creative brains around one table, inter-agency relationships can sometimes be challenging, as everyone champions their own discipline, often fighting for budget. The first step towards a harmonious working relationship is to always remember you’re all working towards the same goal – success for your client.

This means it is essential to know what that goal is right from the start of the campaign, so setting measurable objectives is a must. The objectives should cover the entire campaign, as well as individual goals for each specialism; this means everyone can focus on their own targets while celebrating each other’s success.

To ensure the correct targets have been set it is vital that each agency is open and honest about its own specialisms, what they are able to achieve and how this fits with the client’s objectives. The marketing mix exists because each element offers a different approach and impact – so maximise on these. A conversation early on about roles and responsibilities will lead to a much smoother campaign journey.

Once these roles and objectives are in place there is the opportunity to cut out the client, if required. Remember, your client is busy, they are not there to manage these inter-agency relationships, so take the initiative to set up your own conference calls or meetings – so everyone is up to date on progress, while strengthening the working relationship.

So when it comes to inter-agency relationships and campaigns just remember the four Cs – clarity, consistency, celebrate, communicate. 

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International ‘National Day’ Week



With everyday bringing with it a new national or international day – has it gone too far?

 

This week is National Chocolate Week, National Curry Week and World Egg Day and as delicious as these sound, are they really likely to make you eat more chocolate, curry or eggs (like we need an excuse anyway)?

 

Which makes me wonder, are we just having these days for the sake of it? An excuse for marketers to create some fancy content linking to it in the hope that the hashtag is trending.

 

But also this week we had World Mental Health Day (Tuesday 10th), a day that tries to break the taboo around mental health and encourage people to talk about it openly. Unlike its foodie counterparts, this day really does have the potential to, at worse, raise awareness of the issue and, at best, change social behaviour in the long term.

 

World Mental Health Day saw a flurry of celebrities, journalists and influencers talk openly about mental health issues they’ve experienced in the past and post on their social channels and beyond that it’s OK to not be OK – a powerful message that hopefully resonated with anyone suffering.

 

The day also saw Kate Middleton’s return to the spotlight for the first time since announcing her pregnancy, at a royal event for the awareness day, demonstrating how centre stage the event was in the social calendar.

 

So in between the National Talk Like Pirate Day, National Chip Week and British Sandwich Week, there are some events that are making us take notice of the important issues in life (although who doesn’t love a chip butty).

 

So let’s continue to recognise World Mental Health Day, International Women’s Day, Foster Care Fortnight and all the other national days and weeks that are putting important issues at the forefront.

 

 

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The future of Uber: will it crash and burn?



It has recently come to light that Uber, the taxi firm, will be fighting a decision made by Transport for London, to strip it of its licence. It was concluded last week that Uber has not been conducting thorough background checks on its drivers and hasn’t been reporting criminal offenses directly to the police.

The Uber chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, said he was sorry for the "mistakes we've made” and has admitted that the company needs to change its ways. However, its license is set to expire on the 30th September. The Mayor of London has acknowledged the apology but with London being the company’s biggest market in the UK, the main question on my mind is, has Uber completely damaged their reputation? Will it be able to overcome this hurdle, or will the brand image be tarnished forever?

What will make or break the firm will be the way in which it reacts and responds to the issues that it faces. It needs to ensure that it is being proactive in making a change in its actions. It must reassure the public that the same mistakes will not be made again as many customers may not feel safe getting into their taxis due to the reported increase in incidents of sexual assault by Uber drivers.

However, using the power of social media, it could be suggested Uber may be able to turn the situation around. It has begun a petition to “Save your Uber in London” and has already received 720K votes, suggesting the firm still has support from the public.

It has focused greatly on social media to appeal to the public, conducting a variety of tweets. It could be argued it is trying to play into the hands of the public by appealing to emotions, as it tweeted that 40,000 drivers risk losing their jobs and livelihood. The public have been engaging with social media to express their opinions about the issue.

It is interesting to question whether or not this situation has brought to light flaws in the company structure or, has it made people realise how crucial Uber is in their day to day lives?

The public response has been mixed, however, a recent article by the Evening Standard has suggested that Londoners are against the TfL decision. An analysis of a variety of social posts found that more than 51,000 online conversations have shown that 64% were against the decision and 25% were in favour.

It has been argued that it will be a major lifestyle change for those who have relied on the service for getting to work and could potentially impact the economy. This makes me question our moral stance: are we willing to put our ethics on the back burner for convenience? Rather than focusing on Londoners’ safety are we focusing on the practicalities?

It is clear that Uber has said all the things that we want to hear and has gained a lot of support from the public, but the next few weeks will be critical for the firm. It must show us that it is changing its ways before it reaches a point of no return. If it does manage to overcome the ruling it may be great PR for the firm as it shows just how much the public love them. And that is the best brand advocacy that money can’t buy.

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Understanding GDPR for tech companies




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


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


Opt in?


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


Cookies


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


Third parties


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

 

CRM


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


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

 

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

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

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

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

  • Audit all data and ensure consent is explicit


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




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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!

 

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



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

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

Get coffee!

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

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

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

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

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

What got you interested in a PR career?

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

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

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

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

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

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User generated content: the end of journalism?



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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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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!

 

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The Monarchy’s changing image



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Team work makes the dream work



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

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

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

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

Work towards the same goal

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

Share, share, share

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

Remove the client contact

Well, sometimes. Setting

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

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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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Take a bite out of PR this Christmas



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

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

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

Get out there

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

Taste is key

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

Be inventive

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

Look around

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

Help the customer

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

 

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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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From fake farms to hepatitis C: how can our supermarkets avoid a naming and shaming dilemma



This week it was widely reported that an unnamed British retailer was found to have sausages on its shelves containing hepatitis C. This follows another recent story, claiming Morrisons, alongside other supermarkets, had previously been stocking produce from ‘fake farms’, and as a result would now only be stocking British products.

With Britain’s largest and most loved retailers continually facing scrutiny, how they can manage a situation when it does flare up? As a PR agency, we understand the importance of communicating in a timely and effective manner when it comes to a crisis.

Though no two crises are the same, brands can keep a few key points front of mind when it comes to how to handle these effectively. So listen up Tesco, Morrisons and the many more to come, these points may come in handy!

1.    Be honest

Don’t add fuel to the fire by not being honest, so we would always recommend coming clean about a situation. Often if you don’t, it can whip up an unnecessary media storm, leading to ongoing speculation and make the brand look evasive. Being straight up about your position shows you have nothing to hide, are addressing the situation and are being transparent with your customers.

2.    Be direct

Release a statement as soon as it is requires, and be clear in what you say. Don’t use industry terminology or complicated language; ensure the statement is something your everyday customer will be able to understand and the media won’t be able to misinterpret.

3.    Pick a spokesperson

When someone delivers a statement to the media, it’s important the person is close enough to the situation to understand its gravitas. Often brands will send marketing or PR professionals to speak due to media training, however if product issue arises – send a product developer, financial – send a senior member of the finance team or staffing, let it be HR. It is however important to ensure anyone speaking on behalf of the company is media trained and confident in the subject matter. Or if in doubt send the MD or CEO to show how seriously the company is taking the incident.

4.    Give solutions

The public will want to know what your brand is doing to rectify the situation at hand. Will it be recalling the product, ending a relationship with a third party supplier or putting a policy in place to prevent the situation occurring again? If so, tell the customer!

5.    Make change happen

If you want to be seen as a trusted brand, it’s important not to make mistakes twice. Learn from them and put strict policies in place to ensure change happens. Revaluate policies and their impact every six months: ultimately have they worked or do they need looking at again? Trust can be rebuilt, but if change doesn’t happen, in a market spoilt for choice, consumers can easily shop elsewhere.

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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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Top tips on how to blag your steak knowledge!



Since adding Gourmet Meat Club to our roaster of food and drink PR clients, we have all become fascinated by the tips, tricks and hacks from its experts. Like most creative agencies in Manchester, we all eat out a lot, so having a few extra nuggets of foodie knowledge to impress others with is always welcome. Here, Gourmet Meat Club shares its top tips on how to really sound like you know your stuff when it comes to all things steak!

 

Food and drink PR

1. When it comes to steak – order medium-rare

Surprisingly nearly 30 per cent of the population choose steak cooked well done when dining out, however, this can kill the flavour and leave the meat tough and dry. Medium-rare is recommended with most cuts and will ensure the meat is still tender and flavourful when it arrives on your plate. However, for thin cuts such as feather blade, rare is recommended to avoid to meat toughening.

 

2. Go for cut, not price

In a recent survey we conducted for GourmetMeatClub.co.uk more than 1 in 10 (11 per cent) Brits choose the second cheapest cut of meat on the menu due to lack of understanding. But try not to get too hung up on price; instead choose a cut you will enjoy. A bavette steak is fast becoming the foodie’s choice, packing a full flavour with all the tenderness of a sirloin, yet this is one of the best value cuts of meat. A feather blade steak is another cut rising in popularity, with restaurants now specialising in it, however this steak is also a great value cut and boasts a sweet flavour.

 

3. Know exactly what your ordering

When choosing between a rump, minute or sirloin, it’s important to actually know the difference in cuts. For instance, a minute steak is small and thin, so perfect for a steak sandwich – not so perfect for an evening meal. Sirloin is a common choice in restaurants and though full of flavour it can be fatty. If you want to stick to a full flavoured cut, try a rump steak, it’s incredibly tender and has very little fat.

 

4. Different sauces for different cuts

Many restaurant goers fall into the same trap; peppercorn sauce. Though peppercorn sauce can be a great option with steak, if you are expanding your horizons then try switching it up for something different. A simple garlic butter can work well with a high quality cut, or for the more adventurous, a Chimichurri is an Argentinian sauce that is perfect with meat.

 

5. Order drinks to complement

A recent survey from GourmetMeatClub.co.uk revealed nearly 40 per cent (37.35 per cent) of the UK opt for red wine with a steak, but do we know what wine complements what cut of meat? The fatter the cut, the bolder the wine should be. For instance a rib-eye steak is typically marbled and so pairs perfectly with a bold Cabernet Sauvignon, where as a fillet, which typically has a lower fat content pairs well with a lighter red wine, such as a Pinot Noir. 

 

So with these handy top tips in mind, maybe it’s time to put them to the test, after all, our survey also revealed that one in five of the UK population opt for steak when trying to impress a date! Let us know how you get on!

 

 

Tagged with: creative agency in Manchester, Food & Drink, Manchester, North West , PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR firms in Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Refresh PR proves a success for start-ups



As an entrepreneur, launching a new business is an incredibly exciting time, but also one that carries overwhelming commitment and often, a lot of stress. It is therefore important for any entrepreneur to be working with companies that are equally excited and invested in the business’ success.

 

For new, often unheard of businesses, PR can play a significant role in raising awareness of a brand to their target market; introducing them to a potentially lucrative audience. Get it right, and it’s a worthwhile investment for the business owner and can help build the foundation for a successful future.

 

In order for PR to be effective for new businesses, the start-up and the agency have to be completely aligned on the business objectives. The start-up businesses have to be clear on what they want to achieve from PR – from listings and sales to brand awareness or improved SEO, while also taking the professionals’ advice on the best approach to achieve these goals and what will most benefit the wider business plan. An open and honest relationship from the start, as well as clear account direction, is required to deliver strong results.

 

Over the past few months, Refresh PR has worked with some impressive start-ups, including SkinnyBrands, the producer of Skinny Lager and Skinny Cocktails, and Calla Shoes, a bespoke shoe designer for women with bunions.

 

With each client, we worked to deliver results quickly and efficiently, understanding the client (and any investors) would need to see return on investment within weeks, not months.

 

For Calla, we carried out a press trip introducing the brand to some of the UK’s largest consumer magazines including Prima, Good Housekeeping, and newspapers including the Daily Express, all of which offer the perfect reader demographic for Calla.

 

Earlier this month Calla was included within the Daily Mail’s round up of brands that were set up by entrepreneurs looking to solve their own health issues. This feature went into the Daily Mail and the MailOnline, a combined reach of nearly 240 million, increasing traffic to the Calla website and resulting in a considerable increase in sales, a phenomenal and potentially pivotal achievement for a start-up brand.

 

For SkinnyBrands, trade press was a huge focus in order to secure listings in the UK’s major multiples, a target the brand quickly achieved. Buyers in Tesco and Morrisons, which now stock the product, expressed that they have been impressed by the brand’s unique product offering, as well as its strategic PR and marketing campaign running parallel to the sales success.

 

Seeing the tangible difference that a piece of coverage can make to sales isn’t always something you encounter every day in PR, but with start-ups, this impact is noticed and hugely appreciated.

 

If you are a start-up and would like to have a conversation on how we could support you, then please give us a call on 0161 871 1188 or email info@refreshpr.co.uk.

 

 

 

Tagged with: creatiive agency Manchester, Good product placement examples, Leisure, Lifestyle, Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR for start-ups, Public Relations North West, Wellbeing

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The great big gaping gender pay canyon



If you haven’t seen pictures of Chris Evans and Gary Lineker splashed all over the front pages, social media, news websites and probably your WhatsApp this week, where the hell have you been hiding?

If you didn’t know, the country is currently in uproar as to the huge fluctuation in wages being paid to male and female stars of the BBC, after the corporation published the figures to the masses.

The numbers show that men who work for the BBC are being paid wages significantly higher than their female counterparts. Evans, Lineker and fellow presenter Graham Norton, the three highest paid males at the Corp, earn an average of £1.6m a year – EACH. In comparison, the three highest paid females – Claudia Winkleman, Alex Jones and Fiona Bruce – earn an average of £400,000 a year each. That’s a great, big, whopping, £1.2m difference in pay.

Back in May 2016, when it was announced the salaries of the BBC’s top earners would eventually be released, information from Companies House was uncovered by national journalists who challenged the BBC on the numbers. They hinted at this most recent outcome, but the BBC refuted it, saying the information was misleading.

But now, 14 months down the line, the prophecy has been proven.

And I’m shocked. Not at the wages (I saw it coming), not that the country is upset (I saw it coming), but that this is even still a THING. Perhaps it’s because I work for a PR agency that would never dream of paying members of staff differently based on their gender. But, regardless, I simply fail to understand how it could ever be justified in any organisation – least of all one paid for by the public.

Yes, a lot of organisations still have a long way to go in getting the pay split right, but the BBC should be the one setting the standard, telling people this draconian practice is unfair and unjustified. Unfortunately, in this instance, it has taken its duty to be a fair representation of the nation a little too seriously.

By the way, if it were the other way round, I’d be saying the exact same thing but in favour of the fellas. Inequality really grates on me, and to find out the shows I’ve been watching, headed up by dynamic male/female duos are rewarding said couples differently, leaves a bitter taste.

Given that just five days ago, the first ever female Doctor Who was announced, I wonder whether the BBC will be heading forward paying Jodie Whittaker less than they did Peter Capaldi, Matt Smith, David Tenant, Christopher Eccleston… 

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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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Glastonbury – The Ultimate PR Win



Last month I left my real life at Manchester PR agency, Refresh, behind to spend five nights sleeping in a tent, while getting up close and personal with thousands of people who hadn’t washed in a few days – that’s right, I went to Glastonbury.

Anyone who hasn’t made the pilgrimage to Worthy Farm may read that opening paragraph and shudder with dread, but those who have experienced the magic of Glastonbury will be nodding along, knowing that those things that would usually fill people with fear are all part of the experience.

Where else can you crawl down a rabbit hole and party with Brad Pitt (apparently he was there, although I didn’t see him), watch films in a fleet of vintage cars, see circus performers at 1am – not to mention the music?

From secret acts and unknown musicians to the Foo Fighters finally headlining the Pyramid Stage, Glastonbury offers something unique – which is why tickets can be harder to get your hands on than Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket.

And each year around October time there are newspaper articles about how the festival has sold out in record time, with countless fans turning to social media to complain if they were unsuccessful or to celebrate their excitement if they were one of the lucky ones.

And as a PR professional I can see why this record speed growth and demand is occurring – the ultimate PR coverage – the BBC!

Due to the BBC’s regulations, the corporation isn’t a PR’s best friend – they have to remain impartial and not to be seen to be advertising brands, yet they give unrivalled coverage to this incredible event each year.

Returning from Glastonbury you are greeted with friends and colleagues who tell you which sets they watched on TV and how they have to go next year. And of course, who wouldn’t be swayed when they see thousands of people singing along to rock anthems or disco classics in a place so unique, you can’t describe it to someone who hasn’t been. Even whispers of “I’ve been to other festivals” have Glastonbury veterans’ eyes rolling – it simply isn’t the same.

The BBC’s coverage captures this perfectly and is therefore the ultimate PR dream – radio, TV, on-demand service, online – a huge achievement for any creative campaign.

If we need to measure this impact, let’s check back in October 2018 and see if tickets take longer than 50 minutes to sell out. Watch this space…

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: BBC, creatiive agency Manchester, Creative Agency, festivals, Lifestyle, PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Social Media, Twitter

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Refresh shortlisted for two Manchester PR Agency Awards



2016 was packed with award shortlists and wins and 2017 is looking to be just as busy. We’re delighted to announce that we’ve been shortlisted for two of the MPA’s Inspiration Awards 2017. Our ‘Food Porn Awards’ campaign for STM Photography has been shortlisted for Best PR Agency Campaign (one of just four shortlisted campaigns), and we’ve also been shortlisted in the Small PR Agency of the Year category.

 

At Refresh, we pride ourselves on providing innovative and creative ideas that help our clients achieve their business objectives, whether they are in the B2B or consumer sectors. Our campaigns have won awards since the inception of Refresh PR and we are very proud that we have been recognised for this once again. The team at Refresh is incredibly passionate about our clients, their campaigns and the PR and communications industry itself, and this is reflected in the results achieved.

 

Celebrating the best agencies and campaigns within the creative, media, publishing and digital industries, the MPA Inspiration Awards champions creatively minded people, which is clear from the agencies shortlisted this year.

 

Good luck to all those shortlisted and we’ll see you at the awards ceremony in October!

 

Meanwhile, view the whole shortlist on the MPA website here http://www.mpa.org.uk/awards/mpa-awards-2017-shortlist 

 

 

 

Tagged with: award winning PR agency, B2B PR Agency, Consumer PR agency, Consumer PR Manchester, creative PR agency, Food & Drink, food and drink PR agency, integrated PR agency, Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Advance your career with the award winning B2B team at Refresh PR



Refresh PR is a Manchester based PR agency located in fantastic space in the Northern Quarter.  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 quickly learn and progress your career.  What’s more, we’re dedicated to helping our people grow and achieve their potential through The Refresh 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 highly effective and progress your career with Refresh PR.

 

We pride ourselves on our no-nonsense approach and our ability to get under the skin of our clients’ businesses.  Giving bold, strategic advice based on robust insight we deliver creative campaigns that drive 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 pride ourselves on our unique approach and are industry recognised by the CMA’s and B2B Marketing Awards for our creative campaigns working with brands such as LG Electronics and Vaillant.

 

Due to a number of new business wins, we’re looking for confident and articulate people with a passion for B2B PR who will relish the chance to join our team at all levels.  You’ll be working on accounts across the construction, built environment, e-commerce, online tech, property and insurance sectors.  You’ll have already gained valuable PR agency or in-house experience with at least a year spent working in B2B PR.

 

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 are considerate and supportive; a real team player with the ability to remain calm and considered when faced with new or pressurised situations. You’ll work closely with the rest of the B2B team to ensure we are delivering consistently for our clients, yet will be able to use initiative, working independently most of the time. 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: , Account Executive, Account Manager, junior account manager, Manchester, manchester jobs, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Jobs, PR Manchester, pr vacancies, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, senior account exectuive, senior account manager

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What does the future hold for the bloggersphere?



 

 

I’m an avid reader of blogs and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m subscribed to one too many YouTube channels, but I think it’s important for PR professionals to do their research (that’s my excuse anyway!).

 

I think bloggers are important to brands that want to reach their audience across various channels and with multiple voices, and one of the most influential and effective voices are those that sound like our own - often coming in the form of bloggers.

 

You may remember the Fashion Week ‘blogger bashing’ from the editors at Vogue last year, and other disgruntled journalists that don’t appreciate the success of the social media stars. But these days the negative comments are coming from within the community – and I don’t think this is helping anyone.

 

In May, Sarah Ashcroft, an Instagram star with a social media reach of more than 1 million, launched a line with Manchester based fashion brand, InTheStyleUK, a fitting collaboration in my opinion.

 

However following an interview with Cosmopolitan to promote the launch, titled ‘How I turned Instagram into a money-making business’ the blogger faced a huge amount of backlash on social media, caused by some of the statements she made including: “My followers are so engaged with me that whatever I wear, they will go and buy it – which makes it such a big money earner.”

 

But isn’t that the point of being an influencer? Influencing actions of the consumer? Of course it could have been worded better, but if bloggers continue to bring other bloggers down about their success, it could have an effect on the success of them all.

 

She also went on to say “If I’m being completely honest, I don’t think there’s any space for more bloggers in the industry – everyone is one these days. It’s ridiculous’. This is where I disagree, I think there is always room for more creatives, because everyone is different. It’s no different to any other industry, whether that be photography, medicine, journalism or PR, there is always going to be competition and as long as you work hard, there will always be the opportunity to make it. 

 

So I say, enough of the negativity, bloggers should uplift each other and bring back the community spirit.

 

 

 

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An interview with our latest recruit



Agency life is exciting, fast paced and very rewarding, if done properly. At Refresh PR, with a mix of consumer and trade accounts, we rely on a wide range of talented PR people to deliver results for our clients, a roster we’re always adding to. Here our latest recruit, PR Account Manager, Aishleen, discusses how she has found her first four weeks at Refresh PR.

 

What made you want to join the team at Refresh PR?

 

Having always been in B2B comms, I’d heard Refresh’s name many times. From amazing campaign ideas (that I wish I’d thought of!) to award wins at the Construction Marketing Awards, B2B Marketing Awards and North West PRide Awards, Refresh is top of its game. It helped that after coming into the office a few times, the team all seemed friendly and welcoming.

 

What has your first few weeks at Refresh PR been like?

 

Manic, but I expected no different! The week I started, one of their year-long campaigns, the Heating Installer Awards, was culminating in an awards presentation which I attended. Despite not doing any of the leg work beforehand, it was very rewarding to see how successful the awards had been. After that, it’s been non-stop. Refresh PR is very results driven, that’s how they’ve managed to secure and retain so many interesting clients and it’s meant that no two days are the same.

 

Best thing about Refresh PR?

 

It’s so cliched but I think I’ve most enjoyed working with the team. They’re a lovely, and very talented bunch, who secure great opportunities for our clients. Despite working on the trade team, we’re very much one agency and have a one agency approach to the work carried out. The clients are a close second though. With such an eclectic mix of sectors, there’s no time to be bored. Our clients trust Refresh PR, and the campaigns we come up with, 100%. That’s how Refresh has been able to implement so many award-winning ideas!

 

And the worst?

 

I’m going to have to say being in the middle of the Northern Quarter, it’s a blessing and a curse. Whilst we can grab cocktails and a pizza after work, sometimes the temptation is too much and I’ve had to abandon my lunch for some tastier options in one of the many restaurants we are surrounded by!

 

Describe Refresh PR in 140 characters

 

An exciting agency with a talented (and hilarious) team, innovative award-winning campaigns and proven results #TheResultsSpeakForThemselves

 

We are currently adding a PR Account Executive to our team. If you like the sound of what Ash had to say about starting at Refresh PR, send your C.V. to iwantajob@refreshpr.co.uk.

 

 

 

 

 

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Are you a Junior Account Executive or an Account Executive looking for a new challenge?



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 an account executive working across a range of accounts.

 

You’ll have already gained some valuable agency experience so will be really good at preparing sector specific copy 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.

 

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 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: , Account Executive, Jobs, junior account executive, PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Jobs, pr jobs manchester, PR Manchester, pr opportunity, pr vacancy, Recruitment, Senior Account Executive

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A perfect mum? No. A perfect PR campaign? Perhaps.



 

One of my closest groups of female friends each have an additional few years on me. So while I’m 27 going on 31, some of them actually ARE 31. And like millions of other 30-something women, they have recently become new mothers (or are preparing to be).

 

It’s been a privilege to watch them morph from their party animal, not-a-care-in-the world selves, into empowered providers to little people who depend on their every whim. To me, they are stronger and more beautiful than they ever have been because of that, and I do my best to tell them often.

 

But they don’t always think that – in fact, I’d say they rarely feel that way. And one new PR campaign from Baby Dove has proven exactly why.

 

Donning the slogan ‘Is there a perfect mum?’ alongside an image of a highly polished young woman cradling her (also perfect – it has no cradle cap or skull bumps) baby, at first glance you’d disregard the campaign as yet another attempt to make new motherhood appear breezy and beautiful. And many have, with the campaign receiving a mixed opinion on social media.

“Where does she get her hair done?” ask some. “How does she find the time?” ask others. “Where is the manic look in her eye?” – one of my favourite questions posed.

 

However, there is more than meets the eye to this campaign. The woman in the picture, Aimee, is actually a graphic made up of artificial intelligence gathered from other new mother advertising and PR campaigns. Aimee is an amalgamation of thousands of images real mums are exposed to in the media, mainly UK women’s lifestyle and parenting magazines. And therefore, Aimee isn’t a real mum.

 

Round of applause to Baby Dove. Yes it takes further research to find out the reality behind the campaign, but its simple posing of the question ‘Is there a perfect mum?’ is enough in itself to start challenging the ideal.

Yes Aimee looks perfect – but you can guarantee that, if she were real, there would be a minimum of 10 times a day where she looks a bag of rags, is exhausted, questions why she made this choice and wonders when it will ever start getting easier. Because THAT (I’m told), is normal. And that is what makes the perfect mum.

 

So if you’re a new mum out there, take a look at this campaign and see it as an opportunity to disregard the flawless women you see In the pregnancy/parent press. They’re even less real than Aimee is – and only YOU know what is perfect for you and your little one.

 

I hope there will be more PR campaigns of a similar ilk coming our way (if one could tell me it’s okay to eat fast food three times a week, that would be grand).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Search For the UK’s Best Window With a View is back!



Following a hugely successful campaign in 2016 (which saw us scoop a Construction Marketing Award in the best mid-range budget campaign!), we are once again launching the Window with a View competition with our client, MyGlazing.com.

 

And this time, the campaign has a twist! As well as hunting down the best view through a window from the UK’s tourist attractions, we’re also looking to see which lucky homeowner has the very best view from their property, with the launch of Home with a View which is supported by Rightmove.

 

Shining a spotlight on the UK’s thriving tourism industry, the Window with a View competition received widespread entries from thousands of people who wanted to share the views which they believed to be the UK’s most stunning. Furthermore, the competition made headlines across the country with a healthy rivalry between the regions emerging early on in the campaign.

 

The best four images from each region were selected by a panel of expert judges and then put to a public vote, with the regional favourites put forward for the national shortlist.

 

Announced in September, the view from the People’s Republic Gallery at the Museum of Liverpool won the inaugural crown of the UK’s Best Window with a View. Those from the North West might have seen or heard coverage of this on several of the local TV and radio stations!

 

The 2017 campaign follows exactly the same process, and also works in the same way for Home with a View. Those who feel their home has a special view deserving of recognition should submit a picture taken from inside their house, with the window frame in view, and enter it soon. This new element of the competition goes to show how important a view can be when a home goes on the market.

 

Entries close on 31st May 2017. A regional shortlist for each category will then be decided by a panel of experts, with a public vote to decide the two national winners which will be announced later this year.

 

For full rules and details about the Window with a View and Home With A View competitions, visit: MyGlazing.com/competitions

 

 

 

 

 

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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

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Fool Me Once, Shame On You…



Or not as the case may be if you work in the wonderful world of PR and marketing. This weekend sees the start of April and a major date in the PR calendar – April Fool’s Day! A day where our creative juices can run wild and all those ideas that have been laughed out of brainstorms can finally see the light of day, and hopefully some media coverage.

 

 

Here is a round-up of some of my favourite ever April Fool’s PR stunts:

 

1. Park Inn’s E-scapes – poking fun at our addiction to social media, and the need to show off about our latest holidays with endless selfies and hot-dog legs, Park Inn created E-scapes. E-scapes was ‘launched’ as a service that takes over your social media channels to allude to the fact that you’ve treated yourself to that well-deserved break, without you having to leave the country. All of the smugness, much less cost – a great prank based around real consumer habits.

 

2. Domino’s Edible Box – an added bonus to your take-away! Not only do you get the delicious pizza, but the box is also fully edible. Actually quite upset this isn’t real, because with pizza surely it’s the more the merrier! A simple execution using a photoshopped image, but in reality, this is all an April Fool’s stunt needs to be – it shouldn’t take big budgets!

 

3. Car Bubble Wrap Service – knowing that many of their customers worry about damage to their car on a visit, Longleat Safari Park introduced a car bubble wrap service, for the bargain price of £10. Putting the service to good use, the safari park covered a car in protective bubble wrap for a perfect photo opportunity. This image got picked up by several national newspapers – giving them major exposure.

 

4. Police Cat – if YouTube has taught us anything it is that people love to watch cat videos. Thames Valley Police capitalised on this for a feline-friendly April Fool’s prank, by introducing Police Cats. Justifying the decision to introduce this new animal force, they explained cats have “curiosity which is second to none in the animal kingdom”. Accompanied by a cute video and its own hashtag, this was a purrfect prank (sorry)!

 

5. Tesco’s Bouncing Aisle – who hasn’t been in the situation when the particular bottle of wine or box of chocolates you want is on the top shelf and you’ve struggled to reach it? Just short of 5ft4 it is a situation I have found myself in many a time, but Tesco came to the rescue – nearly. The supermarket brand created bouncing aisles, with Lucy Mecklenburgh being the face of the new prank. I think we’d all agree it would make the big shop more fun if this were true. 

 

Here at Refresh we will all be keeping a close eye on our favourite brands to see if they manage to fool anyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Three things we loved at NRB



 

 

On Tuesday 21 and Wednesday 22 March Refresh PR joined thousands of other passionate foodies from across the North at the annual Northern Restaurant and Bar Show 2017.

 

The NRB brings together industry professionals, food and drink lovers, as well as suppliers from across the North for an action packed two days, with 300 exhibitors, 65 live demonstrations and over 7,500 trade professionals.

 

The event was a highly anticipated one in the industry calendar and here are our top three highlights.

 

1.       The Food Porn Awards

Of course NRB is particularly special to Refresh PR as we joined our client and creator of the Food Porn Awards, STM Photography to announce the Yorkshire and North West winners of this year’s coveted prize.

The announcement took place on the second day of NRB in The Hub. This highly anticipated announcement came after months of trawling the region to find the most mouthwatering and food porn-worthy dishes, all of which were be available to view on the day.

 

Huge congratulations to Black Swan for taking the Yorkshire title and The Gilpin Hotel and Lake House for scooping the North West coveted prize, as well as all the other deserving category winners.

The winners’ announcement also gave us an opportunity to showcase products from another client, SkinnyBrands. All those who attended were treated to Skinny Lager and Cocktails – which went down a storm.

 

2.       Manchester Three Rivers Gin

Due to its geographic origins this is a gin that has been on my radar for some time now and as a gin lover – it’s one I was excited to know more about. So when I heard they would be exhibiting this year, I was delighted.

The Manchester Three River Gin is actually based in Green Quarter, an unusual spot for a boutique gin distillery, but recently I’ve seen this brand pop up behind the bars of several Manchester haunts. And after tasting the drink at NRB and learning more about the brand, I can safely say I will be changing my drink habits and supporting Manchester’s gin economy more often!

 

3.       Getting up close and personal

Northern Restaurant and Bar Show was a hub of activity across the two days and it gave us a fantastic opportunity to network with some of the North’s most prolific food and drink professionals.

Since moving to Manchester seven years ago, there has been an unprecedented number of openings including bars, restaurants and eating concepts. It’s really what I love so much about this city – the amount of variety on our door steps, which leaves us spoilt for choice.

NRB gave me the opportunity to see the faces behind a lot of the establishments I find myself in far too often, meet some of the most successful restauranteurs in the North, as well as introducing me to some new brands I am now keen to try.

 

We’re already excited for next year!

 

 

Tagged with: Food & Drink, Leisure, Lifestyle, Manchester, Marketing, PR

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The warmest element of the heating industry? Its community



Local tradespeople. You know the type – happy to help, provide a great service in the hope you’ll recommend them to a friend, have one-too-many brews but you don’t at all mind because they’re so polite – and chances are, you have a little black book of go-to tradespeople who you know you can trust.

 

But after they leave your property, what is it – do you think – that they get up to? If my time working on the Heating Installer Awards has taught me anything, it’s this: plumbers and heating installers do not switch off. Not fully. They typically spend their evenings on social media, congratulating other installers from the industry, learning new skills and engaging in conversation about the trade.

 

 

When we launched the second year of the Heating Installer Awards in November, it was with the same excitement as its inaugural year. We were inundated with entries for the 2016 awards, and knew it would be the same this time around, as anticipation had been building in the online and offline plumbing and heating communities.

And while the entries we receive are something to behold in themselves, our favourite part of the campaign is when we can announce the ten regional winners.

 

After a tense judging day at the start of the month, we took to Twitter on the morning of 13th March 2017 to let our avid followers know who had made the cut for the next round, according to our panel of experts.

Now, let’s be clear – this stage of the competition – as lovely as it is to inform the winners – also has its downsides. Because we also have to let down the hundreds of other applicants who hoped this would be their year. This is the part that fills us with dread.

 

 

But we needn’t have worried. After announcing the regional winners, the regional losers (for want of a better word) came out in their troves to congratulate the installer who had been selected to represent their region.

And from there, it hasn’t stopped. Each day we’re inundated with positive vibes on our social networks, in our inboxes, and on the Heating Installer Awards website from those who are voting for the national winner.

 

 

Has the cowboy tag, which has long dogged the industry, finally disappeared? Not entirely, but looking at the conversations which take place each day between the industry’s professionals, their manufacturers and suppliers, you’d never know it was an issue.

 

Yes, the warmest element of the heating industry can’t be questioned – it’s its people, community and ambassadors.

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: Heating Installer Awards, PR, Social Media

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National Careers Week 2017



Do you love creative writing and social media? Does the media excite you, and do you thrive off a fast paced environment? Well PR or marketing could be the career path for you.

To celebrate National Careers Week, We interviewed Refresh PR’s HR Director Sarah Mashiter, to find out her top tips on what it takes to nail an interview in the creative sector!

1.       With over 10 years’ experience working across a breadth of senior HR roles, we’re sure you’re aware of a few indicators that show whether someone is passionate about a role. Do you look for anything in particular within the first 15 minutes of meeting someone?

Sometimes all it takes is 15 seconds! The first thing I look for when I meet someone is that they are warm, friendly and are smart in appearance. Great eye contact and a firm handshake are a great start too, as I’m looking for people who can easily build rapport.

 

2.       What would you say are the key skills for a job in public relations?

I like to use what I call the five C’s. First of all, Collaboration is key. It’s very important for us to collaborate internally, but also with other agencies to create successful integrated campaigns. Everyone has different ways of working, so it’s a great skill to be able to work effectively and be supportive of others.

Creativity is also a vital skill, should you decide to work in PR. This is the ability to not only generate new ideas, but to also use them to solve problems and achieve great results.

Be conscientious. This includes being dependable, responsible, organised and always going the extra mile.  

Critical thinking is an important part of working in PR as it allows you to analyse, evaluate and create. The role has evolved and there are now higher expectations with fewer resources. I want people to be able to think analytically and solve problems without the benefit of previous experience.

Be committed to the job, by this I mean living and breathing the media, reading the news 24/7 and staying up to date with changes in the sectors that will have an impact on our clients.  

 

3.       Public relations is a very fast paced industry. Do you have any tips for preparing yourself for a busy working environment?

Work on building your resilience. This will give you the ability to learn and bounce back from your failures, stay positive and manage your emotions.

I’ve worked with Cargyll on a training programme to help leaders improve their resilience. Through this I learnt just how important it is to look after your health and wellbeing, as it relates to how well your brain functions. Did you know the brain is split in to three levels? The 3rd level is the thinking part of the brain concerned with higher functions – decision making, problem solving and goal achieving. But the heart is capable of switching off the 3rd level – so to avoid this, breath steadily and deeply during challenging times, as it will help you to think clearer.

Compartmentalising is something I also use that allows me to create dedicated times in the day to do specific work-related activities. Try grouping similar tasks together to get through tasks easily – it works for me!

 

4.       Research shows that more than 50 per cent of graduates end up in non-graduate jobs. Why do you think this is?

There are simply a lot more graduates and not enough highly skilled jobs. It all comes down to the quality of career guidance at A-Level and GCSE stage. Very few people at that age know what they want to do, so we need to look at how we inform students about their options and the most effective way of achieving their chosen path.  

 

5.       It’s becoming more apparent that students can’t rely solely on a degree to get a job. What would you recommend they do to stand out from the crowd?

Make the most of the summer holidays by getting relevant work experience and going over and above with internships. However, not everyone can take part in an internship, so alternatively I look for experience in a fast paced customer facing environment as it shows that you can work under pressure and can communicate with a variety of people.

Your hobbies and interests are also a great way of standing out from the crowd. Are you the captain of your netball or football team or do you write a blog? This is one way we can see who the natural leaders are and those who like to take responsibility.

Consider your social media presence. Follow the media and engage with them, and avoid posting content that you wouldn’t want brought up in a job interview.

 

6.       Careers Week isn’t only for students, do you think it’s ever too late to change career paths?

Not at all! Many people fall into a career after they leave education, rather than a passion they’ve pursued, so it’s understandable that many people look to change this later in life. I’ve seen many people change their career path due to family commitments, or the fact that they can’t progress further intheir current role, or even their industry.

 

7.       How do you know when someone is ready for a promotion and what do you advise people do if they want one?

I take in to account a combination of factors when considering if someone is ready for a promotion. First of all you have to be a strong performer in your current role in regards to its tasks, responsibilities and the required leadership behaviours and have the desire to want more. I use The CEB Approach to identify high potential employees, this recognises three combined factors, Aspiration, Ability and Engagement.

 

8.       Last but certainly not least, if there isn’t a role available would you advise people applying speculatively and if so, how?

Absolutely! Refresh PR is a growing business that is always looking to meet talented people. When a role becomes available, the people that I have spoken to or met previously will be the first I contact. Simply send an email to iwantajob@refreshpr.co.uk 

 

 

Thanks for your time Sarah.

Keep up to date with our latest work, PR news and opinions over on our Twitter account @RefreshPR.

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: Career Advice, HR, Lifestyle, National Careers Week, North West , PR, PR Agency Manchester

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Ecobuild 2017: Inspiring People, Places and Products



Fresh out of university, I’d be lying if I said I was aspiring towards a career in construction PR. Fast forward the clocks and although construction comms is not 100% of what I do, it’s certainly a sector in which I have built up (see what I did there) solid experience and have a keen interest in. Which brings me to Ecobuild – taking place this week, it has been one of the annual highlights of my working life for a number of years. Usually I’m off to London for the week armed with press materials to carry out a busy schedule of media meetings or events on behalf of one of more clients. Unfortunately, this year I’m unable to attend so instead I’ve been eagerly watching news from the exhibition unfold on social media.

 

Social media and industry news outlets have been awash with announcements from the event, from both exhibitors and visitors, so I’ve not been short of reading material. As well as the usual packed conference and seminar programme, the first two days of Ecobuild have seen the usual burst of product launches from companies across the sector, including from the Hadley Group, which launched a design competition for student architects with a prize worth up to £6,000.

 

Day one also saw the winner of Ecobuild’s Big Innovation Pitch announced. For the third year running, Ecobuild partnered with M&S in a search for commercial engineering solutions and innovations that have potential to make a huge contribution to achieving the retailer's Plan A sustainability objectives.  This year saw two winners for first time ever there - Protomax Plastics and Airedale Air Con – congrats to both!

 

Despite reports from last year claiming the show suffered from a lack of visitors compared with previous years, and many in the industry needing much convincing in order to allocate often large percentages of marketing spend to have a presence in one of the many halls, there is no doubt in my opinion that exhibitions such as Ecobuild provide a companies with the ideal opportunity to deliver compelling brand experiences to a captive, targeted audience.

 

Whether its via meetings with potential partners, live events on-stand, meetings with key media, hosting seminars or stunts etc, as long as activity is planned and executed correctly, exhibitions can provide organisations with the perfect platform to not only share their latest innovations with those who matter the most but also secure top quality business leads and gain valuable industry insight from their peers.

 

 

 

 

 

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

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Things are heating up at the Food Porn Awards



 

 

Last week, the Refresh team had the best job in PR – managing the Food Porn Awards regional cook-offs. And yes, we got samples!

 

Alongside Shoot the Moon and STM Photography, we witnessed some of the best chefs across the North West, Cumbria and Yorkshire work their magic to create some serious Food Porn.

 

From freakshakes to Michelin star masterpieces, last week proved that Food Porn takes many forms – all a feast for the eyes in their own individual way.

 

Following an incredible 2016, the 2017 campaign launched in September, attracting entries from some of the best pubs, restaurants and cafes. Since then, the team of expert judges have had the tough job of whittling down the finalists to attend this week’s cook-offs.

 

At the four-day event the chefs got to cook up their dishes, before seeing them captured by STM Photography, with a little help from food stylists, making already Food Porn worthy dishes even more tantalising.

 

The next stage will see all of the dishes showcased in all their Food Porn glory for the judges to select their regional and category favourites, which will be announced at the National Restaurant and Bar (NRB) show in March – so watch this space for more updates on the regions tastiest looking treats!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: , Food & Drink, Food Porn Awards, Leisure, Lifestyle, Marketing, PR, PR Agency Manchester, Restaurants

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Looking ahead: Prolific North Live



 

Prolific North Live 2017 will take place at EventCity, Manchester, and Refresh PR will be there!

 

This February, Refresh PR will be exhibiting at Prolific North Live, offering businesses advice on how to maximise their use of PR and social media to help achieve business objectives.

 

The annual media, marketing and creative industries expo, which takes place at EventCity in Manchester on Wednesday 15th and Thursday 16th, will see more than 100 exhibitors and an anticipated 5,000 delegates attend.

 

As well as offering delegates the opportunity to have a one-to-one PR consultation with our team of experts, our managing director, Laura Mashiter, will be leading a talk in the main exhibition hall.

 

The event is free to attend and delegates can attend a range of informative seminars from experts in the creative and media sectors.

 

Book your free place, and come and see us on stand 85! http://live.prolificnorth.co.uk/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: Marketing, North West , PR, Prolific North Live

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Award-winning campaign back for 2017



Having won two awards at the 2016 Construction Marketing Awards – claiming first prize in the Best Use of Press and Public Relations category, and Highly Commended in the Best Mid-Range Campaign category – the campaign is back bigger and better, complete with a rebrand and redesigned website.

 

The Heating Installer Awards work to champion plumbers and heating installers who make it their mission to bring a superior level of credibility and customer service to the industry. It recognises those using innovative skills and technicality to install energy efficient solutions which change the lives of homeowners.

Sponsored by LG , Vaillant UK, Danfoss, Graham The Plumbers’ Merchant, , Pegler Yorkshire , Sentinel and Continental Underfloor, the Heating Installer Awards is open for entries from now until February, when an expert panel of judges will select the best heating installers from 11 regions across the country.

Following the announcement of the regional winners in March, it will be over to the public to decide the UK’s Number One Heating Installer. The winner will be announced at the industry’s leading plumbing and heating show, Installer2017, in May 2017 at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena.

Laura Mashiter, managing director at Refresh PR, said: “The 2016 Heating Installer Awards campaign was a bold move from our agency – we wanted to create something un