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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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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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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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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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UK tech on a global stage: 2019 Tech Nation report



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A ‘FEIN’ new client for Refresh PR



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Can delivery replace the microwave meal?’ Certainly not.



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

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Heating Installer Awards - The Highlights



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

National coverage

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

Meeting new people

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

Our sponsors

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

Social media

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

Sponsor events

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

Installer2019

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

Parties

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

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

 

 

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

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



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

  

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Second awards shortlist of 2019 for Refresh PR



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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



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

 

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

 Refresh PR's tech team

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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



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

 

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

 

Stay organised

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

 

Be present

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

 

Take time to (excuse the pun) refresh yourself

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

 

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

 

 

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

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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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Three Months as a Grad at Refresh PR



Entering the daunting world of work

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

 

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


Application process

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

 

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

 

On the job

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Advice for other grads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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Tech Thrives Outside London



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Structural Weaknesses

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

1.      Access to capital

2.      Access to growth space for businesses that are growing

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

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

 

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

 

Salary drop versus lifestyle boost

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

 

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

 

There are strengths – and they need to be played to

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

 

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

 

The future is bright

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

 

 

 

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

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



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

 

Refresh PR Construction Award

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

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



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

 

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

 

Why it’s important

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

 

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

 

How tech companies can do more of it  

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

 

Figure out what you need from PR

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

 

Make a name for yourself at events

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

 

Make the most of industry bodies

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

 

Get out there!

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

 

Leading the way

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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The next PR skill shortage will be of our own making



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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



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

 

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

 

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

 

A booming sector needs space to grow

 

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

 

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

 

Success attracts success

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Manchester – the second city

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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Factoring Brexit into PR plans



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

 

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

 

Anticipating the unexpected

 

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

 

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

 

Putting politics to one side

 

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

 

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

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

 

Factoring Brexit into PR and communication plans

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

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



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Neglecting media training 101

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

 

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

 

Mistakes happen to the best of us

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

 

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

 

 

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

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Five Construction Marketing Awards shortlists for 2018 for Refresh PR



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

 

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

·        PR Agency of the Year 2018

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

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Refresh PR Graduate Programme 2018




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

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

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

The Refresh DNA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

More about the programme

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

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

 

What is the selection process?

We will undertake a comprehensive selection process with 3 stages:

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

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

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

 

What next?

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

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

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Tech Companies Thriving in Manchester



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Avoiding boom turning to bust

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Promote, engage, attract

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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What does Gen Z mean for the future of HR?



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

Lakeside Hote and Spa

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Bee in the City



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Bee in the City

 

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

 Bee in the City

Here is our local pretty pick Piccadilly bee!

 

Bee in the City

 

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

 

 

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

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Reasons to love Manchester…



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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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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The Heating Installer Awards 2018



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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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Have we lost our trust in social media platforms?



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

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


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


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

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


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


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

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Don’t Pause The Talk with Esteem – No Pause



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

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

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

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

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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.

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It’s award season! Make sure you shine



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

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


Pick the perfect project


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



Gather your evidence


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


Ask for extra support


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


Supporting material


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


Triple check


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


Deadline


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


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

 

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Metrics, measurement and analytics – the importance of evaluation



Over the years PR has gained itself a bad rep for producing ‘fluffy’ results, thanks to the difficulty in evaluating the impact of our campaigns. But now, thanks to improved technology and changes in how we consume the media and engage with brands, all of that is changing.

Here at Refresh PR we are increasingly tasked with proving that our campaigns, and press office activity, have a genuine impact on key business needs. With each client comes a different challenge, and we strive to reach individual objectives, but one thing remains the same throughout – AVE and coverage volume just don’t cut it anymore.

Before work begins for any campaign, we work with our clients to identify the appropriate metrics that will demonstrate success – whether that’s social growth, customer engagement, increased sales or improved website traffic. Knowing this means we can put in place campaigns that deliver.

In the last few months alone, we’ve successfully generated coverage and ran campaigns that directly drove a 300 per cent spike in website traffic for an ecommerce brand, encouraged 100,000 visitors through to a new consumer advice website and generated thousands of pounds worth of sales off the back of daytime TV coverage, to name a few.

We know that our work has had this impact because we constantly monitor and evaluate everything we do, using tools such as Google and Facebook Analytics. So, we can prove PR, if used correctly, can make a difference to a range of business objectives.

If you want to talk to the team at Refresh PR about creating impactful, measurable campaigns, email Hello@RefreshPR.co.uk

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Reactive PR – how acting fast can get results



The media agenda is now faster paced than ever before, and with immediate access at our fingertips we can now consume it at almost the same rate. This means that it is vital for brands to stay on top of what is happening in their industry and what is important in the lives of their target audience.

From what competitors are doing, to wider issues that impact the world we operate in, there is always something to be reacting to, even if it is behind the scenes.

But when the opportunity does arise for a consumer facing response (no matter who your audience is), you have to be quick for maximum impact.

This immediate reaction that is required to drive the desired results, means as PR professionals we have to stay on top of the media and our clients’ wider industries, as you never know when an opportunity may arise.

We’ve recently experienced success with this reactive approach for our client, Calla Shoes, when images circulated showing Victoria Beckham wearing a foot brace, causing rumours to start circulating that she was recovering from a bunion removal operation.

Here at Refresh PR we jumped on this opportunity for Calla Shoes, a range of beautiful shoes designed specifically for women with bunions, providing commentary from founder, Jennifer Bailey. This comment was picked up by the world’s biggest news site, the Mail Online, helping to position Jennifer as a leading bunion expert – all within an hour of the original story going live.

Check out the coverage here.

If you want to see how Refresh can help you respond to the media and wider industry trends call us on 0161 8711 188. 

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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

 

 

 

 

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



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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Refresh’s Inspiration



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Why brands should follow Netflix’s customer first approach



We live in a world where endless technology is at our fingers tips. Gone are the days of dial up internet and the much hyped introduction of Channel Five. We now live in a world where waiting for entertainment just isn’t an option.

Streaming services are making it easier than ever to keep up to date with our favourite shows and films on demand; while digital downloads are allowing us to take them anywhere in the world. Forget VHS, we can now carry all 10 series of Friends in our back pocket. And it is the range of streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, that makes this possible.

As a brand, Netflix has taken the world by storm. With a range of exclusive shows and content, it offers a well-rounded, customer-led service. The account has been continuously working hard to steal our attention away from traditional broadcasters and its 2017 figures show it is succeeding. Figures were reported as being at a record high, with the business being worth a staggering $100bn, with more than 104 million users across the globe.

As an active Netflix user it’s easy to see why viewers are flocking to the service. It has an abundance of exclusive shows which have been created using in-depth customer research. A simple way Netflix reviews its customer research is through ‘recommended’ algorithms. This process is started when new users create an account. They are asked to rate their personal viewing interests and by doing so, Netflix discovers its audience’s viewing preferences. The algorithms show patterns in the viewer’s preferences and viewing history, which are then used to see how they can develop their service, to make it more personal to the user. This audience-first approach is one which works for the service and helps it to provide relevant content that their viewers will love, even if they don’t know it yet.

Netflix has also steered clear of the traditional content delivery model, which usually sees a series released episode by episode, inviting the audience to build up an appetite for the show. Instead, Netflix releases a series all in one go. This allows viewers to binge watch, and become obsessed with their favourite shows. Binge-watching is a new concept; it’s not something we previously had the option to do. By giving us the option, Netflix has actually changed our viewing behaviour, setting the precedent for other providers to follow.

This year Netflix is set to increase its content budget to £5.9bn, which is a major leap from the £1.5bn spent in 2017. By spending so much money on its content, it’s evident Netflix is determined to keep increasing its portfolio of shows. The collected research from the recommended algorithms will all help towards Netflix’s audience-first content approach and will allow the streaming service to continue creating and adding unique material for its viewers.

Due to Netflix’s growing popularity, and other brands now harnessing this customer first approach, consumers are increasingly expecting a personalised service. But to do this brands need to take a leaf out of Netflix’s book and get to know their customers. This doesn’t have to involve fancy algorithms, but it does have to take centre stage of your business, if it doesn’t already. 

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Business Crisis – would you know what to do?



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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



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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

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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. 

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

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The Apprentice of the Month Awards



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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Injecting creativity into B2B PR



Having worked in B2B PR for half a decade, I’ve witnessed my fair share of lacklustre PR campaigns.

For some reason, B2B PR is synonymous with colour seps, dry campaigns and rigid press office, and I’m not sure when this became the norm. There is no need for B2B PR professionals to hang up their creative hats, when in fact, they have the perfect opportunity to inject some creativity into their industries.

Take the Heating Installer Awards for example. Initially created as a way for an underfloor heating provider to communicate to heating installers across the UK, we abandoned a traditional basic press office function, which many would have deemed adequate, and ploughed the budget into a multi channel campaign that lives predominantly on social. This not only created a channel for us to communicate with our target audience directly, but also generated news, conversation amongst those within the industry and allowed us to forge long lasting relationships with key players within plumbing, heating and the built environment.

Refresh PR now owns the Heating Installer Awards and it has gone from strength to strength, recognised as an industry standard for success.

It doesn’t just have to be B2B PR though. Every now and then, a consumer product or service will come along that is really struggling to penetrate the market. Google’s latest venture is a prime example of this.

How many of us can honestly say we are avid users of the Google Art & Culture app that was developed last year? The app allows users to “Meet the people, visit the places and learn about the events that shaped our world. Discover collections curated by experts from the most famous museums. Be moved by stories depicted in thousands of photos, videos, manuscripts and artworks on every type of screen and in virtual reality. Find your favourite artworks, create your own collections and share them with friends”.

Google, however, acknowledged the lack of engagement with the very niche app and by applying some very creative thinking, transformed it into software that would appeal to the masses.

With the new feature, users can take a selfie, upload it, and the app will automatically match it with a work of classical art, finding your doppelganger. It is now the most downloaded app for 2018 so far. Not bad for something not many people knew existed until a few weeks ago.

With the lines between PR and marketing becoming increasingly blurred, it’s time for trade PR people to start causing a stir. Abandon the frustratingly safe press office, aim a bit higher than a colour sep, and show the world that B2B can be creative too!

At Refresh, our consumer and trade teams work in tandem to create creative and hard-hitting campaigns that, most importantly, get results.  

Get in touch if you’d like to hear what we can do for you by calling 0161 871 1188 or by emailing hello@refreshpr.co.uk . 

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

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PR Debate: Who was Right – The Influencer or the Owner?



Last week we saw The White Moose Café hotel owner hit the headlines for shaming a blogger and social influencer after she asked for a free hotel stay in return for coverage on her website.

 

The owner wrote a damning letter back asking the blogger, Elle Darby, who would pay his staff and bills if all he received for her stay was exposure? He later went on to announce that all bloggers are now banned from his business.

 

The response that The White Moose Café put out was anonymous, but the blogger decided to out herself to respond to the letter, admitting she had been exposed, while still feeling that the hotel owner was acting in a bullying way.

 

The blogger and wider marketing community have since been debating who was in the right and who was in the wrong. Should bloggers and influencers assume they deserve free stays and special treatment? Should businesses be more aware, and appreciative of the exposure and the impact this has on their business? Or is there a better way for small businesses to work with bloggers and influencers entirely?

 

No matter what your opinion on the situation, both parties have received a huge amount of PR and exposure from the story, no doubt increasing both of their social followings and website traffic. This hasn’t gone unrecognised, as the owner of The White Moose Café sent Elle an invoice for the PR coverage she has received off the back of the story going viral – apparently it equates to £4.6m (not bad hey!).

 

My first thought when reading this story, was would the owner of The White Moose Café have responded in the same way if it was a ‘mainstream’ journalist contacting him about a review? Something we’ll never know.

 

At Refresh PR we often work with bloggers and influencers and we know that used in the right way for the right client they are an extremely powerful medium. We have seen blogger coverage drive direct website traffic and sales, not to mention brand awareness and social followings.

 

So, although this isn’t the ‘typical’ way of a blogger and a business working together there is no denying the success of this activity, intentional or unintentional. Both parties have increased their exposure, generated column inches and sparked debate – hands down a successful PR stunt whether they intended it to be or not!

 

 

 

 

 

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

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Polypipe on Twitter



Earlier this month the team behind the Heating Installer Awards 2018 hosted an evening Twitter Q&A with sponsor, Polypipe.  The hour-long burst of activity was aimed at heating installers who want to know more about Polypipe, its services and also have a bit of downtime at the end of the day.

 

The Q&A achieved 281 engagements and 6440 impressions from @HIAwards, with further engagement on the @PolypipeTrade account. High quality interactions were achieved from the installer community throughout the duration of the hour.

 

The hour went seamlessly, with the teams at both ends typing furiously to respond to the questions, and banter, thrown at them.

 

As an added bonus, the awards saw additional entries over the following days, attributed to the increase in awareness and engagement from this activity. More Twitter bursts of activity are planned for the coming weeks, including giveaways – so get following @HIAwards!

 

Twitter campaign construction 

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Construction, Creative Agency, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign essential, Twitter

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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!

 

 

 

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

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Refresh Reflects: Refresh PR’s top moments



And finally, we look at our own successes of this year. It was tough to narrow it down to just five but we got there. Here’s to many more memorable moments in 2018.

  1. Winning CIPR’s North West Outstanding Small Agency – in November we scooped the prize for best small agency for our work over the past 12 months. We were hugely honoured to be recognised by our industry body and it is a real testament to the hard work of the team

  2. Introducing a new agency structure – at the start of 2017 we appointed a head of consumer and head of B2B. These two directors oversee the dedicated teams and lead the way in our key sectors; built environment, food and drink, lifestyle and tech

  3. Launching The Refresh Academy – following the appointment of our head of HR in 2016, we launched our internal training scheme this year to ensure our teams are delivering the highest standard of work to our clients

  4. Delivering PR that matters – PR is no longer about generating column inches, it’s about impacting behaviour and we’ve demonstrated that over the past 12 months. From increasing our client’s web traffic by 300 per cent to helping improve local plumbing businesses with our Heating Installer Awards, we know the work we’ve done is helping others succeed

  5. New team members – we all agree what makes Refresh PR what it is, is the people, so it was great to welcome new faces to both our B2B and B2C team as the agency evolved over the year

Tagged with: higlights, Lifestyle, PR Agency Manchester, Top moments

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Refresh Reflects: Top Five Fails of 2017



Bloomers, blunders or just massive mess ups, here we see the people, brands and events that have made us cringe in 2017.

  1. Pepsi & Kendal Jenner – the nation reached for their Diet Coke and took to Twitter with their disgust surrounding Pepsi’s 2017 advert, which raised questions about racial insensitivities and trivialising demonstrations. The advert was pulled immediately but it still impacted Pepsi’s sales (oddly for the positive though!)    

  2. Dove – body wash that can turn a woman of colour white – where to start with this advertising fail? For a brand that has worked so hard to convey a body confidence message this was a huge step backwards

  3. Trump – tweeting the wrong Theresa May, the still unexplained covfefe and not forgetting his various questionable political decisions, we could have had a full category for Trump’s personal fails, but we don’t have that much time  

  4. Bake Off Tweet Gate – working in PR we know there is nothing more annoying than someone breaking an embargo, so when it is the star of the show it really is a head in hands moment

  5. United Airlines – for simply not realising that in this modern world, where everyone has a video recorder in their back pocket, the actions of your staff will impact on your brand. The video that surfaced of a passenger being physically dragged off a flight, simply because it was overbooked, impacted the airline’s brand equity, as well as sales

Tagged with: Creative Agency, Lifestyle, PR Agency Manchester

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Refresh Reflects: Top Five Songs of 2017



Luckily for us there are very few arguments over the radio or playlists in this office, but we do find a very eclectic mix playing through the speakers at Refresh HQ.
  1. Slow Hands, Niall Horan – the former One Direction star takes the top spot for Refresh PR. The song must feature on at least 50 per cent of our playlists
  2. Noel Gallagher, Holy Mountain – celebrating our Manc roots, MD Laura picked Noel Gallagher’s latest tune as her song of 2018
  3. New Rules, Dua Lipa – our head of B2B, Erin, brought the girl power with new artist Dua Lipa’s song
  4. Justin Bieber, Despacito – it had to appear somewhere and it was B2B manager, Ash, that voted for this catchy song
  5. Blossoms and Chase & Status, This Moment – again celebrating Manchester music, head of consumer, Caroline, voted for this summer anthem, continuing her love affair with the Stockport band

Tagged with: 2017, Lifestyle, music, North West , PR Agency Manchester, Songs, Top 5

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Refresh Reflects: Top Five PR campaigns of 2017



We are constantly on the lookout for impactful PR campaigns – whether that’s big budget stunts or small scale reactive media relations. We monitor what makes consumers sit up and take notice. These are our favourite campaigns from brands other than our own.

  1. Hotels.com - ‘sanctuary’ for pool inflatables at a hotel in Majorca. Really fun idea that generated plenty of coverage and even though it’s one step away from what the brand offers, it’s still relevant. Just shows that clever ideas needn’t cost the earth
  2. Disney – Dream Big. A global photography campaign that showcases empowering images of real life women to encourage girls to aspire to be more than just a princess. A brave campaign by the creator of the world’s most iconic fictional princesses
  3. Greggs – Sausage Roll Jesus. Whether the controversy was all part of the plan or not this got people talking and generated a huge amount of coverage – both ideal outcomes for a PR campaign, whether it’s intentional or not
  4. Sky’s Ocean Rescue – a campaign that could make a real difference on a global scale. With lots of famous faces and maximising its connection to Sky News with plenty of coverage, so far this campaign looks like there’s no agenda other than clearing the seas. If successful it may lead to new legislation about plastics too, so has wider environmental impact
  5. Missing Type – going into the third year this campaign still packs a punch for National Blood Week. Removing key letters from iconic road signs, such as Downing Street, and brands such as Waterstones, even the Daily Mirror got involved. Even better, it is still making an impact and helping to drive people to donate blood

Tagged with: , Lifestyle, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign, PR campaign essential, PR Manchester

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Refresh Reflects: Top Five Adverts of 2017



There’s nothing we love more than seeing how brands are representing themselves through the power of advertising. Here are our top ads of this year.

  1. Spotify – 2018 Goals – the only print ad campaign that made it on to the list, but Spotify’s clever use of its own data and people’s listening habits made us all laugh and possibly re-evaluate our own music taste (read all about our favourite songs of 2017 here )
  2. Peter Kay for Warburtons – it had everything; the comedy, drama and romance, not to mention the local relevance, nods to Peter’s previous adverts and delicious carbs!
  3. Aldi - Kevin the Carrot – continuing a winning formula with the second year of Kevin the Carrot, this time adding a bit more of a storyline to the little vegetable’s Christmas adventure  
  4. Google Pixel 2 – for unashamedly calling out the flaws of iPhones and highlighting how the Google alternative is far superior, it made it on the list for sheer bravery
  5. AA – iconic song, tick. Cute kid, tick. Clever CGI, tick. Three for three for AA this year!

Tagged with: 2017, Advert, Creative Agency, Lifestyle, PR Agency Manchester, TV

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Refresh Reflects: Top Five TV Shows of 2017



As Netflix has taken over TV for the first time ever (in the US at least) in terms of viewing figures, the way we are consuming our favourite shows may be changing, but here are the series that got us all talking in the office.

1.Cold Feet – this Manchester based series is still going strong even after 19 years

2.Line of Duty – returning for season four with a star studded cast this crime drama kept everyone talking

3.Blue Planet ll – what better way to spend a Sunday night than listening to the soothing tones of David Attenborough and learning about this amazing planet?

4.Love Island – love it or hate it, this show swept the nation, divided opinion and caused plenty of controversy. Check out the blog we wrote here

5.Dr Foster – in its second series, Suranne Jones kept everyone guessing with this intense drama


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Food for thought at the Construction Marketing Awards



We spend our working lives advising our clients how to utilise PR to benefit their business, but we have to admit, our own PR often takes a backseat. In agency life, no two days are the same and often a day starts at 9am with a to-do list that doesn’t even get touched due to other priorities that hit the inbox at 9.01am. This makes writing an award entry for ourselves – a task that can easily take a whole day – a challenge.

 

But every so often we try to enter some awards to showcase the campaigns that we deliver and gain a stamp of approval for the value that we add.

 

Award winning Refresh PR

 

This year the agency brought home two awards at the CIPR North West PRide Awards – and we’re still celebrating almost a month on. We have also recently been recognised as finalists for our work by the CIM, the B2B Marketing Awards and, most recently, at the CMAs in London last night.

 

Construction Marketing Awards (CMAs)

 

A sector that we specialise in at Refresh PR is the built environment. Construction PR has always been at the core of our business and over the years we’ve delivered many different campaigns that have won recognition from CIMCIG (that’s the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Construction Interest Group, which runs the CMAs). This year, despite travelling to RIBA in London for a 25 minute interview with the awards judges earlier in the year (potentially my shortest ever stay in London!) unfortunately we didn’t bring home the trophy.

 

We did however have a great night – what other award organisers would put Laura and Ash on a table with…another Laura and Ash? The dance floor was packed right up until the last song too - a fabulous testament to a room full of hard working marketeers letting their hair down just a little at the end of a long year.

 

Construction PR in 2018

 

So this leads us to predict what the coming year may bring. Personally, I’m hoping for a massive increase in the level of creativity in the sector. We’ve made great strides, but there’s still a long way to go. The sector still needs to effectively embrace the ways in which people consume news, so on our Christmas wish list this year we have:

-        More fun on social media – we’d like less cheese and fewer corporate posts, and more to engage those listening across the social channels  

-        Fewer leaflets – it’s shortly going to be 2018 everyone!! There are more effective – and environmentally friendly – ways to speak to your audience

-        More for the apprentices – let’s continue to make this a sector that people are proud to work in, where great work is rewarded with peer endorsements and promotion/referrals, and we may just help to narrow the skills shortage gap

-        Making the most of new channels – let’s see some Snapchat campaigns or Instagram stories, let’s embrace channels that can really reach our audiences…it’s what they’ve been designed for after all

-        A ban on colour seps – there’s no need to pay to get news into a trade title, if the quality of the news is good enough. Any decent PR agency will advise on the angle to take in order to get editorial (aka free) coverage. Colour seps existed when there was no digital printing, and it genuinely cost more to print a page in colour; now it’s purely a money making exercise. Question if a presence in a magazine that demands a colour sep fee is actually effectively reaching your target audience. Consider an editorial partnership with a magazine, utilising its different channels instead

-        Fewer grey suits – we don’t wear them, we don’t even own them, and we don’t think anyone else should have to

 

We’ll be presenting 2018 plans to a lot of our clients over a mulled wine or two in the coming month, and I’m looking forward to showing them all of the above, but most of all how this sector can be exciting, fun, challenging and brilliant to work in.

 

 

 

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

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Refresh PR celebrates being shortlisted for industry awards!



What a year it has been so far at Refresh PR, with new clients, new team members and the CIPR outstanding small agency award win. But it doesn’t stop there, due to the team’s hard work Refresh PR has been nominated for, and won, a range of other industry awards.


Refresh PR’s Heating Installer Awards campaign was nominated for the best SME targeted campaign at The B2B Marketing Awards. The awards recognise the best in global B2B and we were excited to be recognised alongside giant brands including Vodafone, Samsung and Sage.

 

As well as scoping the outstanding small agency award win at the CIPR North West PRide event, we were also shortlisted twice for the corporate and business communications campaign, eventually taking home gold for our work on the 2017 Food Porn Awards.


Last but not least we have also been shortlisted for two CMAs (Construction Marketing Awards). These are for best use of press and public relations for our Window with A View campaign for our client, MyGlazing as well as PR agency of the year. The CMAs recognise marketing campaigns across the built environment industry, a sector we have years of experience in, so one we’re honoured to be recognised in. So watch this space to see if we’re crowned winners again across these industry awards.

 

 

Tagged with: , B2B PR agency Manchester , CIPR North West PRide, CMAs, Lifestyle, MyGlazing, North West , PR Agency Manchester

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In a world of endless technology are we losing the personal touch?



We are living in a world where technology is progressing faster than ever before. More texts, instant messages and emails are being sent, as more and more people adopt this as the typical way to communicate with friends, family, colleagues or even complete strangers.

But as we spend more time staring at a computer screen, whether that is at a desk or in the palm of our hands, are we losing that personal connection?

As a communication agency we are constantly looking for the latest technology, channels and forums that we can use to share brand messages, but within all of this we can never forget the power of personal contact.

A huge part of what we do is educating journalists on our client’s brand and their products or services and we know that no matter how many calls we make, or emails we send, face-to-face is the best way of doing this.

Whether that is setting up a Skinny Lager sampling bar at Unilad's Manchester office or taking one of our latest client’s, Esteem, down to London to meet health journalists across national and women’s glossy titles, getting the product into the hands (and mouths) of these influential journalists is invaluable.

Journalists, like everyone else, are bombarded with hundreds, if not thousands of messages every day and as PRs we need to make that cut through and despite the ever evolving world we live in, nothing beats face-to-face.

Face-to-face communication gives you a captive audience, without the modern day distractions and allows people to react and respond, not just to verbal language, but to body language and environment – all of which is crucial for building relationships successfully.

So, what are you waiting for? Step away from the keyboard, put down the iPhone and join us for a coffee!

If you’d like to chat more to the team at Refresh PR we can meet up face-to-face, or if you’d like the team to build these personal relationships on behalf of your brand let us know.

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How PR can make a difference to new businesses



Since Refresh PR launched eight years ago the team has successfully impacted its clients business, helping to build awareness and drive sales. But the businesses we’ve worked with have all been completely different and all come with various challenges and opportunities.

Recently, Refresh PR has worked with a number of start-up companies and in the process has learnt more about what it takes to help kick-start their business.

From the launch of Skinny Lager less than 12 months ago, which now has listings nationwide, to introducing Calla Shoes to the media, with a piece in the Mail Online increasing website visitors by 300 per cent – we’ve had huge success with these start-up businesses.

With all of our clients, the Refresh team immerses itself into the industry or sector they’re operating in, but with a start-up this is even more crucial. Often working with smaller teams, any insight or observation the team here at Refresh shares could not only make a difference to the PR success, but also the success of the business.

When starting a business it can often be difficult to know where to spend the marketing budget to make the biggest impact and ultimately provide the biggest ROI. So as part of our job as marketing professionals we take the consultancy role very seriously. If the business objectives can be achieved in a more effective way, other than PR, then we won’t be afraid of telling our client just that. Ultimately we want our client to succeed so we can grow with them.

Often with smaller in-house teams, start-ups rely on their agencies to be an extension of their business, even more so than a more established brand. This is one of the best parts about working with a start-up, as you can begin to see the genuine impact the team is having, across the board, not just in the marketing sector.

With a number of new start-ups, the world of PR and marketing is often completely foreign to them, as a number of these entrepreneurs don’t have this type of industry background. Again, this is one of the reasons we love working with start-ups here at Refresh – the education and support we can offer to make a genuine difference to a business.

Talking about the role Refresh PR played in launching the business, Stuart Cordingley of Gourmet Meat Club, said: “We started working with Refresh early on to help improve our SEO and generate brand awareness, ahead of a new website launch. In the six months we have been working with the team they have gone over and above the coverage delivery you’d expect from a PR agency, also acting as consultants across a wide range of marketing and business issues, helping to drive the launch forward.

“They’ve understood the needs of a new business and have become an extension of our internal team here at Gourmet Meat Club.”

If you are starting a new business, or would like to kick-start your current PR activity, then call 0161 871 1188.

 

Tagged with: Food & Drink, Health & Beauty, Leisure, Lifestyle, North West , PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester

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The UK’s most stunning view is revealed!



A panoramic view from the iconic Tower Bridge has taken the top prize in the 2017 Window with a View campaign.

An annual competition we run with our client, MyGlazing.com, the 2017 Window with a View campaign reached its dramatic finish with an award ceremony in front of regional and national media earlier this month.

Beating off stiff competition from the likes of The Lighthouse, Glasgow, and Portsmouth’s Emirates Spinnaker Tower, which took second and third spot respectively, Tower Bridge’s Walkways window was announced as the national winner after receiving thousands of votes from the public.

Every year, Window with a View invites the public to submit – and later vote for – the locations across the UK they feel share fantastic views from their windows. At each key stage of the competition, we liaise with the media to secure far-reaching coverage of the competition, focusing on online articles that include a link back to the MyGlazing.com website so we can prove we’ve been integral to the company’s internet traffic.

After an outstanding first year of the competition in 2016, we extended the competition further this year with the addition of Home with a View – an identical campaign that invites families to share the views from their homes; those only they are lucky enough to enjoy. This year’s winner was a beautiful property in Stratford-upon-Avon overlooking a tranquil lake. While also working to drive hordes of traffic to our client’s website, the Window with a View and Home with a View campaigns also work to promote our MyGlazing.com’s key messaging: the importance of modern, energy efficient glazing, the role glass plays in some of the most important parts of our lives and the importance of using a reputable supplier.

The third year of the campaign will launch in 2018. Keep up to date with our newsletters to find out more, and follow MyGlazing.com’s Twitter account (@myglazing) to hear more about its initiatives.

Tagged with: Lifestyle, MyGlazing, North West , PR Agency Manchester, Tower Bridge, Window with a View campaign

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Refresh PR Crowned Outstanding Small Public Relations Consultancy 2017



Earlier this month the Refresh PR team celebrated double success at the CIPR PRide NW Awards, scooping two Gold awards for its work over the past 12 months.

First up, we were recognised in the Corporate and Business Communications Campaign category for our Food Porn Awards campaign. Refresh PR appeared twice in the category, with our Heating Installer Awards also receiving a shortlist place, but it was the “robust rationale, clear objectives and a well-informed strategy” that led to the Food Porn Awards taking the top spot.

Later in the evening, we were celebrating again, as Refresh PR was crowned Outstanding Small Public Relations Consultancy 2017. This award really is testament to the hard work, talent and commitment of the team, and the clients we work with who allow us to deliver award-winning campaigns.

Following on from our shortlist place in 2016, we were thrilled to take the Gold award home in 2017. Judges were impressed with Refresh PR for ‘recognising the need to evolve’, something we have put at the forefront of our work and client campaigns over the past year. We were also praised for our ‘commitment to CPD’ with our Refresh Academy initiative, which focuses on the training and development of our staff.

The whole team has worked extremely hard to continuously build and improve the campaigns we run for our current clients, as well as bringing new clients on board, and we’re excited for the next 12 months to see where the PR evolution takes us.

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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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Is it too late now to say sorry?



Don’t worry this isn’t the Refresh PR team admitting to be secret Justin Bieber fans (we’re more One Direction in this office), this is us looking at the number of brands apologising for causing offence with  their marketing activity.

From Greggs and its sausage roll Jesus [http://www.refreshpr.co.uk/blog/post/11/2017/Flaky-campaign-or-a-roll-of-genius] to Paperchase receiving backlash for its Daily Mail promotion and many more in-between, these all have one thing in common – the apology that comes afterwards.

We are now living in a world that people can give instant feedback on anything they want – adverts, news, celebrities – and they do, in abundance. Because of this increased two way communication brands are able to know within seconds of their latest marketing campaign going live if it is going to have the desired effect.

And for many, this doesn’t always end well.  Just this year alone we have seen big brand names have their advertising approach slated across social media – look at Pepsi (Kendall Jenner), L’Oreal (Munroe Bergdorf), Dove (racist Facebook advert) and McDonalds (children’s grief advert). All household names with multimillion pound marketing budgets, that really should know better.

All of these brands have since come out to apologies about their ill-advised advertising decisions. But is an apology enough? Do they mean it? Does it really make an impact to their bottom line?

In many cases an apology is an absolute must, however sometimes (just sometimes) an apology is wasted. Look at the Protein World’s ‘Beach Body’ campaign, where social media exploded with complaints about the brand putting pressure on women to look a certain way. Protein World’s marketing team didn’t back down to the pressure and never apologised for the campaign, because realistically that campaign was never targeting the men and women who found it offensive.

I respect a brand who stands by their campaign and understands its audience enough not to back down. So sometimes it isn’t too late to say sorry, but it is unnecessary.



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Christmas adverts: why are they so popular?



The much anticipated arrival of the John Lewis advert seemed to divide the nation, and definitely caused a stir on social media. Some viewers fell in love with the friendship between Moz the monster and the little boy, while others were of a different opinion and took to Twitter and other social media platforms to express their disappointment. One member of the public even went so far as to tweet, Worst #johnlewischristmasadvert I've ever seen.”

As we settle down to watch TV on these cold, dark and dismal nights, whatever time it may be, we are now bombarded with a variety of Christmas adverts. From supermarkets to department stores, as soon as November arrives, there is no escaping these overly sentimental ads.

Every year without fail, the adverts receive a huge amount of online recognition. From trending hashtags to articles, we are constantly reminded of the different adverts we should be looking out for. The M&S ad even made national broadcast news, simply due to some poor enunciation (I still believe he wasn’t saying ‘thank you little bear’). It really is amazing how much publicity these adverts receive and how they completely dominate social media for two months of the year.

Some people are now beginning to argue whether or not the huge power that these Christmas adverts have is getting a bit extreme. John Lewis spent £7 million on its latest advert and it seems it is turning into a competition between brands as to how much can be spent each year, with a variety of articles now being written comparing the latest ads and their budgets. One thing is for sure, the PR value achieved outweighs the initial ad spend.

However, it is indisputable that these Christmas adverts show how integral social media can be for a company’s marketing, showing how even the most popular companies rely on social media to be successful. Are you applying the same practice to your business?

If you think your business could use some assistance, get in touch with us on 0161 871 1188.

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The awards you never knew we should’ve won…



Following our incredible double win at the recent CIPR North West awards – where we took home the gong for Best Small Consultancy and Best Corporate and Business Communications campaign – we celebrated as a team and got talking about the more unusual awards we might receive if our peers knew us behind closed doors.

And so began an alternative prize giving – an impromptu celebration of everything we share, day in day out, here at Refresh, and the things we know we do differently. Here’s a rundown of the awards you never knew we should’ve won:

Laura Mashiter – Managing Director

‘The Versatility Award’ – we are experts in being more than the traditional PR agency: we advise clients on SEO, we all watch our clients’ Google Analytics daily, we lead social media campaigns, and we can advise on AdWords. None of this would be deemed a PR person’s remit a couple of years ago. Now, we not only have to be great at the old PR job – creativity, sell ins, copywriting, setting up speaker opps, guiding clients through strategy and key messages, crisis management (and more), but we have a whole new set of skills which mean we’re great for marketing directors and managing directors alike to work with.

Erin Heywood – Account Director

‘The Talking Heads Award’ – like most bunches of young women who spend 9 hours a day, five days a week together, we love to chat, and can often be caught getting way too deep in conversations that people outside our agency would just find weird. But that’s because we’re an in-tune team that gels, and we learn great things out of the most surprising of topics. Plus, the more we chat about our industries and clients, the more likely we are to come up with new ideas, impress our clients and secure coverage with journalists.

Caroline Gibson – Account Director

‘The Chameleon Award’ – we love a challenge, and sometimes the most exciting challenge is taking on something we’ve never done before! From make-up to plumbing, we work across such a variety of areas within our four specialist sectors (construction, tech, lifestyle, food, drink & retail) we think we’re pretty well rounded. But actually, we still get new business leads in areas we’ve never covered before. When we get these through the door (or inbox!), we dedicate time to immersing ourselves in that area, whether it takes days, weeks or month, until we know it like the back of our hand. 

Aishleen Davies – Account Manager

‘The Golden Idea Award’ – Whether it’s plumbing or cosmetics, glazing or meat, Refresh PR comes up with ideas that are not just creative and push boundaries, but also helps clients hit their key business objectives. What’s even more exciting is that Refresh has BIG ideas in the pipeline that will help other businesses grow.

Rebecca Wallace – Account Executive

‘The Itchy Feet Award’ – As an agency, we’re always itching to do more and continually thinking of ways to improve. We let our imaginations run away with us while we create award winning campaigns, but our feet always remain firmly on the ground as we remain forward thinking, and take pride in knowing exactly what our clients need.

Emily Knight – Account Executive

‘The Friendly Faces Award’ – we’re a group of enthusiastic and passionate individuals who love to have a laugh (and get the job done at the same time of course!). We are always happy to help one another and we work well together as a team. The Refresh team is always there to offer a helping hand and friendly face to colleagues and clients alike.

Sound like the agency for you? Get in touch today!

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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.


Tagged with: CIPR , Lifestyle, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR event, PR Manchester

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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/

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

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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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Is Silicon Valley nearing its demise?



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Taylor is welcomed to the dark side



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






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



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

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

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

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

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

Red Hot Chilli Pipers

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

Recognitions

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

The People

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


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



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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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



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

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

Get coffee!

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

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

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

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

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

What got you interested in a PR career?

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

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

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

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

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

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Proud to be in Manchester



As Manchester gears up for a weekend celebrating diversity, and more importantly love, Refresh PR has even more reasons be proud of this great city.

As a creative agency in Manchester, the team has been busy observing how the different brands around the city are planning to celebrate Pride.

A city known for its acceptance and forward thinking ways, we are seeing rainbow flags appearing everywhere, while bars, restaurants and brands are all putting their individual stamp on what is set to be a fantastic event.

From Almost Famous’ Rainbow Burgers and Albert Schloss’ Pride Kronuts to I Love MCR’s rainbow heart t-shirts and our very own Wish Upon a Sparkle’s fabulous pride design with legendary Manchester Drag Queen, Anna Phylactic - brands are going above and beyond to show their support for the LGBT community.

So, in honour of Pride, here are the top three reasons Refresh PR is proud to be based in Manchester:

1.       Manchester’s Music Scene

Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Oasis, The Courteeners, Blossoms, The Smiths, even Take That, the list goes on. Manchester is the home to many a music legend and this flows through our fair city. From the many gig venues across the city, to the buskers on Market Street, it is hard to ignore Manchester’s musical heritage and you would be hard pushed to find a city bursting with more talent and passion.

2.       #ACityUnited

Blue or red (or neither in my case), whether you like football or not, you can’t deny that Manchester boasts some of the best (and most iconic) teams out there. People come from all over the world to visit our football stadiums and watch some of the most talented players in the sport. Even for someone who couldn’t tell you the difference between off-side and an indirect free kick I can still feel smug that if I wanted to watch a match I have two teams to choose from, right on my doorstep.

3.       The People of Manchester

Ultimately it is the people who make this city great. We are big, bustling city yet people still take the time to stop and chat, help other people and make a difference to the community. But as well as all the everyday Mancs out there, there are also some very un-average residents of this city. Alan Turing, Emily Pankhurst and Tony Wilson, to name but a few. With these individuals all hailing from Manchester it is clear to see that this one city has changed the world.

Tweet us @RefreshPR and tell us why you’re proud to live and work in Manchester

 

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Refresh PR shares ‘how to awards’ strategy with CIMCIG



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester

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Are you ready for GDPR?



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

 

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

 

Take control


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

 

Secure your systems

 

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

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

 

Check your suppliers

 

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

 

Stay relevant to your audience

 

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

 

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

 

Stick to protocol

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester

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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!

 

 

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Hat trick for Refresh PR



This morning was very tense at Refresh PR HQ.  As we sat refreshing the CIPR Awards Twitter page, the shortlists for each category were announced and Refresh PR appeared not once, not twice but three times!


The hard work we’ve carried out over the past twelve months for the Heating Installer Awards and Food Porn Awards meant both were shortlisted for the best Corporate and Business Communications Campaign, which had the office jumping for joy.


Recently launched for the third year, the Food Porn Awards was created to find the finest looking food from eateries across the North-West. From restaurants, pubs, bars or pop-up bistros, the Food Porn Awards were open to every chef, cook or caterer across the North of England. With 350 entries, the finalists, selected by a team of experts, went head-to-head at the regional cook-offs with winners announced at the Northern Restaurant & Bar show last March.


The Heating Installer Awards set out to disband stereotypes of cowboy installers and celebrate the good work in the industry. Accepting entries from, and on the behalf of, installers, the winner was announced at trade shower, Installer 2017, in May of this year. The hardworking campaign saw coverage achieved in a range of regional, national, trade, and broadcast media, including BBC Radio and The One Show.


Refresh PR was also nominated for Outstanding Small Public Relations Consultancy, which created a great atmosphere in the office on another wise grey Friday morning.

It’s great to be shortlisted with other agencies in Manchester and the wider area and we look forward to the awards dinner later this year. The awards ceremony will take place on the 2nd November at the Principal in Manchester, we can’t wait!

For more information about Refresh PR, visit www.refreshpr.co.uk or call 0161 871 1188. Follow on Twitter @RefreshPR.

 

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Christmas 2017 - ho, ho, ho-w not to get it wrong!



Whether you’re an online retailer or a property developer, the festive period will effect on your business in some capacity, so careful planning and preparation at this early stage could mean the difference between a positive or negative outcome.

 

Here are our top tips on how to make sure the festive season for your businesses is the icing on the Christmas cake of a fantastic year!

 

1. Remember how Christmas impacts the buying habits of YOUR customers

Whether this is seeing a spike in sales, or a dip while people shy away from big purchases, if you have predicted and planned these buying habits into your budgets, then it won’t come with quite the same sting or stress.

 

For food suppliers, gift retailers and convenience stores, Christmas has always been, and will always be, one of the busiest times of the year. Handled correctly, you will see sales soar, brand awareness increase and potentially secure new or returning customers for the foreseeable future. However, if not planned correctly customers and employees could be left with a sour taste in their mouths, as orders are missed and the pressure is piled on.

 

2. Fight for your Space

Refresh never condones violence. But, brands have to fight hard for space during the noisiest time of the year and this is especially true at Christmas time. We come to expect the major supermarkets and their big budget advert productions, but this doesn’t mean that smaller brands have to lose out. From timely and effective media relations to strong social media campaigns that resonate with your audience – there’s always an opportunity for cut through in this noisy landscape. Don’t be put off by budget restrictions – if time is on your side, then there is always something that can be implemented to meet business objectives.

 

3. Make Life Easier

Whether your business caters to consumers or businesses, Christmas can be one of the most stressful times of the year for a customer. So as a business, take the time to step back and consider how you can make life easier for them. Whether that is sharing top tips on how to cook up your leftovers on an e-shot in early December or ensuring their website won’t crash under high pressure during Boxing Day sales, your business has the opportunity to become a source of advice, ultimately making you a source of useful and relevant knowledge. Providing relevant information to you clients could ultimately become a lifeline for your business when the new GDPR rules come into place (watch out on the Refresh e-shot for more on that…)

 

4. Order in advance

It’s highly likely you use external suppliers to support your business – whether you use a construction team to build your developments, or a manufacturer to fill your physical and online shelves. Remember, they too will encounter all the stresses of Christmas, and are probably putting their plans in place now like you. To ensure you don’t leave your own customers hanging, or are left high and dry with no communication at a time you were expecting it, get in touch with all your suppliers today and find out when you need to place final orders, any anticipated issues with stock and who – if anyone – will be available during emergencies.

 

5. Be available

Christmas time is family time, and everyone expects communication from your business to go quiet during this time. But if you have advertised yourself as a 24/7/365 business, it is essential you remain true to this and have support in place for any major issues that need addressing. Your internal teams will be fighting it out for the best days off during the Christmas period, so let them know now the expectations that will be on them in terms of internal/external contact, social media presence, emergency telephone lines and more. Dropping this on them any later in the year might lead to upset team members, meaning any issues that do happen between January 25th and January 2nd aren’t handled as well as they could be.

 

If you want to talk to the Refresh PR team about making your Christmas a winter wonderland rather than a burnt turkey, call us on 0161 8711 188.

 

 

 

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Leicester plumber is winner of Heating Installer Awards 2017



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR, B2B PR agency Manchester , Heating Installer Awards, Manchester PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign, PR campaign essential

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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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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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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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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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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Calling all Account Managers, a new challenge awaits



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 one of our B2B account managers, working across a range of B2B/corporate accounts in sectors such as construction and professional services.

 

You’ll have already gained valuable agency experience 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, you’re a vibrant team member who works hard but adds to a lively atmosphere. 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. You’ll be confident in managing and developing our talented PR team while also supporting with recruitment as the team continues to grow.

 

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 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: , Account Manager, Jobs, Manchester, opportunity, PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, PRjobs, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Recruitment, Vacancy

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2016 PR trend predictions – where are they now?



At the start of each year industry experts join together to identify the big trends developments in the sector. Like any other industry, it is important for PR and marketing professionals to stay ahead of key trends, utilising the latest technology or consumer insight to create effective campaigns.

 

But now, as 2016 is drawing to a close, we take the opportunity to look back over the past 12 months to see which of this year’s predictions have had a real impact.

 

Using PR Week’s Consumer PR: Predictions for 2016, we take a look to see what became a reality, as well as trends’ impact on the industry and our work.

In the article, M&C Saatchi’s Chris Hides talks about Shopper Marketing and the importance of understanding how customers shop and how campaigns can interlink with these habits. This is one of the key predictions that really stands out, as it further demonstrates how customers are demanding more from brand experiences than ever before. River Island is the perfect example of effective shopper marketing with the launch of its ‘Snap & Share’ Snapchat partnership in August.

 

The campaign took advantage of Snapchat’s growing popularity, especially within River Island’s key target audience, with the view to engaging with shoppers and making their experience more fun.

 

This trend - and specifically the focus on customer engagement - won’t be going anywhere in 2017, particularly with consumers becoming more savvy to advertising. Now it is more important to create an opportunity for two-way conversation in a natural environment, rather than a creating platform to communicate a brand’s messages.

 

Another prediction from Hides is nothing beats a great idea – it may seem an obvious one, but for me it is what makes this industry so exciting. From the resurgence of National Blood Week’s ‘Missing Type’ campaign, to Paddy Power’s ‘Juan Direction’, as PR professionals we have the opportunity to make consumers sit up and take notice.

 

In 2016, Refresh PR’s creative campaigns have been recognised with a number of industry award wins – from the Food Porn Awards to the Window with a View competition – we have been able to use our creativity to come up with campaigns that have a genuine impact on our clients’ business objectives.

 

Going into 2017 there will be more demand for these creative approaches; whether utilising new tools, or reinventing the way we approach traditional methods in a busy and noisy marketing environment, we need to be able to create that cut-through.

 

Stir PR’s Alicia Mellish continues the predictions with her thoughts on evaluation and measurement. With brands still cautious with their budgets and spending, there is more need than ever to provide metrics above and beyond PR value and reach. By working closely with the client from the start to identify genuine business objectives, we have been able to create measurable campaigns that impact consumer behaviour, to deliver the brand’s needs.

 

Earlier this year, our client, The Glass and Glazing Federation, launched a consumer facing website, MyGlazing.com - the PR campaign had one very clear objective; drive traffic. By creating the Window With a View competition, we successfully managed to exceed the target of 100,000 hits to the website, proving that the coverage generated was having a genuine impact on consumers.

 

The challenge of measurement and evaluation is an ongoing one for our industry and something all professionals need to concentrate on. We know nothing beats a good idea, but we need to be able to prove its worth!

Mellish also predicts the ever changing media landscape will continue to develop, largely through the commercialisation of bloggers. Moving away from opinion-led commentary, the biggest bloggers are now businesses, with a team of people growing their brand. Our previous blog  explores the movement towards micro-influencers as mainstream bloggers continue to grow in popularity, which will continue into 2017.

 

The final trend prediction we explore is Hides’ thoughts around talent. In Manchester specifically we have seen a marketing boom, with more agencies opening and services expanding, making it a vibrant and exciting place to work. But, for many this is leading to a skills shortage – meaning there isn’t enough talent to deliver what has been promised. Here at Refresh PR we are tackling this by focusing on in-house, high level training to upskill our talented team. The Refresh Academy offers our staff the chance to learn and grow and develop the skills we need to keep pace with this fast moving industry.

 

The Refresh Academy is still in its first year, so in 2017 we will continue to see it grow and develop. As the industry changes, the training we provide our team will grow with it, to ensure we can deliver high-standard service and offering that clients have come to expect.  

 

So onto 2017, where I am sure we will see even more developments and changes in this exciting sector and watch this space for our PR predictions.

 

 

 

Tagged with: 2017, consumers, Marketing, media, North West , PR, PR Agency Manchester, predictions, Social Media

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Is bigger always better? How micro-influencers are putting authenticity back into marketing



Increasingly, social media influencers who amass millions of followers are becoming the new celebrities, working with media partners, such as Vogue and Vanity Fair, as well as luxury brands, including Range Rover and Mulberry.

However, is bigger always better? As an avid viewer of vloggers such as Zoella (11m YouTube subscribers), Fleur de Force (1m YouTube subscribers) and Patricia Bright (980,000 YouTube subscribers), I’ve found a shift in the style of their content has impacted authenticity.  

The blogosphere has changed from a community of people who reply to every comment, struggle to fit blogging around their ‘normal’ day jobs, and share the best bargains at Primark, to an elite group of full-time blogging superstars, with management teams and professional photographers.

This shift, generated as a result of higher earnings from Google, partnerships with brands and the pressure to be politically correct, means that the majority of content is advertorial in nature and no longer as relatable.

There’s no doubt that the success of social media stars is an incredible achievement - they are no longer just internet-famous. Publishing best-sellers, forging TV careers and taking on Hollywood has become the norm.

But today’s savvy consumers are more aware to when they are being targeted by advertising, helped by the Federal Trade Commission’s recent enforcement of actions, influencers need to take to keep advertising clear and conspicuous. Sponsored posts must be clearly marked with the hashtags #spon or #ad in a visible place, which often causes a negative backlash from audiences.

Research from Markerly also shows that Instagram engagement drops as follower numbers rise. While macro-influencers with one to ten million followers have, on average, an engagement rate of 1.66 per cent, those with a reach between of 1,000 and 10,000 have an increased engagement rate of four per cent. Bloggers with fewer than 1,000 have an even higher engagement rate of eight per cent.     

Looking at the general reach of a blog post is no longer enough to see its true value and the return on investment for a campaign; it’s comments and engagements that really matter.

This is good news for smaller brands that may not have the budget to work with talent-managed bloggers, or the resources to spend the time it takes to build a relationship with them.

As we discussed in a previous blog post, the majority of Instagram’s 200,000 advertisers are small businesses, while Buzzfeed reported this week that brands are taking a new approach to target the everyday shopper, by paying people with as little as ten followers to promote products.

It’s important to consider a brand’s objectives before ruling out collaborations with high profile influencers, as there is no doubt that the impact is still impressive. However recognising the relationship between bloggers and their audiences is a great way to keep the authenticity in marketing.

 

 

Tagged with: Celebrity, Lifestyle, Marketing, PR, PR Agency Manchester, Public Relations North West, Social Media, Vloggers

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Refresh PR builds reputation with wins at Construction Marketing Awards



 

 

Last night, we won three awards at the prestigious Construction Marketing Awards in London, cementing our reputation as construction communication specialists.

 

We scooped two awards for our Heating Installer of the Year Awards campaign, which was awarded the top prize for its use of press and public relations, and also highly commended in the mid-range budget campaign category.

 

Celebrating plumbers and heating installers who have delivered exceptional customer service, the Heating Installer of the Year Awards used a sustained, integrated communications approach, which included trade and regional PR, social media, email marketing, sponsorship and events.

 

Our Window with a View campaign, created in association with the Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF), was named winner in the best mid-range budget category. The campaign captured the imagination of homeowners and businesses alike, successfully driving high levels of traffic to GGF’s newly launched consumer advice website, MyGlazing.com.

 

The CIM’s Construction Marketing Awards celebrates the best talent from across the UK, showcasing the construction industry’s creativity, innovation and effectiveness in marketing.

 

Laura Mashiter, managing director at Refresh PR, said: “Bringing three awards back to the North West is a fantastic achievement. Our team has specialist expertise in the construction sector and for this to be recognised on a national level is testament to our successful and innovative delivery.

 

“The public relations win is particularly special as it’s the second time we’ve been recognised in this category, having also won back in 2013, for our work with Polypipe. With more and more businesses in the construction industry looking for dynamic ways to reach their audiences, these campaigns demonstrate how creativity can be used to capture audiences’ imaginations and help achieve business objectives.”

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: Built Environment, Construction, Construction Marketing Awards, Manchester, Marketing, North West , PR Agency Manchester, Public Relations

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Triple triumph for Refresh PR at industry awards



Refresh PR has scooped three prestigious PR and marketing industry awards, including northern small agency of the year at the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s (CIM) Northern Awards.

The CIM Awards, which are judged by a panel of leading industry experts, including several chartered marketers, were announced at the Crowne Plaza in Newcastle to celebrate outstanding marketing campaigns and talent from across the North of England.

We also took the top prize in the CIM’s best northern region campaign category for our work on the Food Porn Awards. Launched to restaurants across the North West, our team delivered an all-encompassing communications campaign that swept the region and made a genuine business impact for our client, STM Photography.

On the same night, we also picked up silver for the Food Porn Awards in the corporate and business communications campaign category at the North West CIPR PRide Awards, which recognise the leading campaigns and agencies in the region.

Laura Mashiter, managing director at Refresh PR, said: “The CIM Northern Awards celebrate the best marketing talent across the north of England so to take home the award for best agency is testament to our talented team and the results that we deliver for our clients. Winning two awards in one night for our Food Porn Awards campaign cements our agency’s reputation for food and drink communications.”

Diane Earles, network manager for CIM, said: “Congratulations to Refresh PR, which won the Northern Region campaign and Small Agency of the Year categories.”

Paul Say, owner and director at Say-DE Consulting Ltd, who judged the Region Campaign category, said: “It was low cost, but had high impact tactics showing how a small budget can be well utilised with a big idea at the heart of the strategy.”

Charlie Nettle, chair of CIM North East, who judged the small agency category, said: “The strategic focus, implementation of company values and business processes alongside a commitment to training and development suggest this business is mature beyond its years from the perspective of business excellence.”

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B, Chartered Institute of Marketing, Chartered Institute of Public Relations, CIM, CIPR , communications, Food & Drink, Food Porn Awards, Manchester, Marketing, northern, PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, PRide Awards, PRidenw, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Solid foundations? Prefab homes and the housing crisis



Britain’s housing crisis has been building over the past decade. It’s no secret that a lack of affordable housing and the increasing size of deposits required has resulted in rising levels of temporary accommodation, as well as a market where home ownership remains out of reach for millions.

As a prospective first time buyer and reluctant member of “Generation Rent”, considering how to get on to the housing ladder is daunting to say the least. So, naturally, discussions this week about the Government’s plans to build 100,000 modern prefab homes piqued my interest.

First created in the post-war era to bridge the shortage of housing after World War Two, the original prefab homes were hampered by quality issues. Quickly constructed, they offered a lifeline for many displaced families, but were designed to last no more than ten years and thus provided only a short-term fix.

This week’s announcement has been at odds with these long-standing perceptions of so-called “ready-made homes”, repositioning them as a potential long-term solution for the UK’s modern day housing crisis.

So, is the plan built on solid foundations or will it all come tumbling down?

A recent report by the homelessness charity, Shelter, forecasted that the Government will miss its target of one million homes by 2020, with a predicted shortfall of 266,000 and a new solution required. Enter stage right, prefab housing.

This new generation of modern homes takes on a whole new design and manufacturing model. While they are still in a ready-made format – produced in factories and constructed on site – improvements in technology mean that quality is no longer a limitation. Modular design enables designers to work off-site and use new technologies that keep quality, and the end user’s needs, in sight.

Let’s take an example of this approach in action. Property innovator, Urban Splash, has recently unveiled its Manchester-based Irwell Riverside house development, offering prospective buyers autonomy over their living space. Marketing itself with the slogan “offering space not rooms” is very astute; people first decide how many square feet they require and then how to use the space. For example, if a tenant wants their kitchen on the top floor and an open plan environment, this can be easily factored in thanks to the flexible modular design. Urban Splash has won awards for its innovative approach and it appears that the powers that be are taking note.

As well as more control over design decisions and increased flexibility, modern prefabs offer another key advantage for the Government’s house building initiatives: speed. With the manufacturing process generally taking between 12 and 14 days, and then a further ten to 12 days to construct on site, prefab homes offer the kind of turnaround that traditional house building could only dream of.

With 2020 fast approaching and the housing crisis deepening, prefabs could be the solution that the country so desperately needs.