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A week in the life of a self-isolating PR



In the past week, our working lives have had total upheaval. At Refresh, we started fully working from home at the start of this week and it’s safe to say, we’re fully in the swing of things. PR lends itself to remote working. Whether we’re on a press trip, meeting with clients or at an event, we’re never sat behind a desk all day so we’ve already got the infrastructure required to transition quite smoothly into remote working. But, we have had to be much more agile and responsive on behalf of our clients. Carry on reading if you want to see what a week in the life of a self-isolating PR looks like.

Day one

Normally I’d catch up on the latest news on the tram on the way in to work, but this morning I made the most of WFH and did it whilst having a coffee in my garden - much prefer this option. The entire team working from home is still a bit of a novelty so I get ready, check my emails and then we have our daily Zoom catch up. It’s important to maintain a ‘team identity’ when working from home and by the afternoon we’re all fully immersed in work so first thing in the morning makes better sense for us.

I then spend the day on calls with all of my clients talking about how their business objectives might have changed due to Coronavirus, how they’re planning to navigate the next few months and just see how they’re doing. Rather than rigidly stick with the PR plans we’ve already put in place, we look at ways we can maximise their comms campaigns. With online traffic up so much, it’s agreed that digital PR and strong content campaigns will work well for a lot of our clients at the moment. With this in mind, the teams review what work now needs to be done and delegate the work accordingly. This is one of the most important traits of working in PR…being able to pivot!

With new plans in place, it’s time to browse Twitter for any relevant #Journorequests we can jump on and I spend my evening DMing journos. A PR’s day never ends.

Final thought of the day: loo roll.

Day two

As usual (or as usual as can be): wake up, headlines, get ready and Zoom. We have numerous clients than can comment on people working from home so I draft copy and send it over for approval. Once approved, the team gets these issued to the key journalists we have been chatting to on Twitter.
A coverage search sees regional papers have covered a story we issued towards the back end of last week. It seems journalists want positive, non-Corona based people stories which is good to see.

One of our clients wants to commission market research so I spend half an hour on the phone talking to one of our partners about potential questions. We discuss the positives of working from home and the potential of people being less wasteful now. In all honesty, it’s nice to talk to someone about positives that can come from a really rubbish situation. We get the research questions sorted and agree that we both deserve lunch. I decide to take a walk and get some fresh air. It works wonders and between that and my daily ration of a can of Diet Coke, I feel ready to take on the afternoon and spend the next few hours looking at Refresh’s new biz plans.

Day three

I’m slowly starting to descend into the madness of not socialising so first thing this morning I arrange a ‘House Party’ hang out tonight with my friends. Usually they’d involve prosecco and bowls of crisps but this will all be done via the House Party app from the comforts of our own homes – 21st century living!
After our catch up, I plan a three-month content campaign for one of our clients. There’s loads of great content we can be going out with and now is the perfect time to spend planning and pre-drafting this.

Today, I eat lunch with my boyfriend. We haven’t got sick of each other yet but I’m taking every day as it comes. We have two satsumas left and we savour them. Not sure when we’ll be able to get another.

I spend the afternoon looking at Refresh’s social and online content. All of the team agrees blog posts we’ll draft and come up with social ideas – this was when our WFH bingo was created. I also have a half hour catch up with our account director, Lucy, to talk about clients and how the team is getting on WFH. That cheers me up no end and makes me feel a bit more human.

Day four

Usual start to the day and then an important catch up with the Heating Installer Awards team. Refresh owns the awards and we usually announce the annual winners at the trade show, Installer. The show has been postponed so we come up with some new exciting ways we navigate around this and we’re all getting very excited. We schedule a call with the organisers of the show to talk through the plans – we can’t wait to get the ball rolling on this!

This afternoon I use Google Trends to see what the most popular search terms are at the moment. I mean, I could’ve guessed this but sometimes it throws out a good nugget and this time it didn’t disappoint. I jump on it and let the client know we have an opportunity to comment. Unfortunately, sign off isn’t looking likely given the current situation but we agree to keep looking out for items we can comment on, like this.

I realise that I’m running very low on coffee, milk and other essentials. Don’t know how I do it, but I manage to get an Ocado order in. I reward myself with nachos and Netflix.

We have one more day of self-isolation left this working week and I’m more than ready to start the weekend. A self-isolated weekend, but a weekend non-the-less. 

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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COVID-19 - an update from Refresh



We wanted to keep you updated on the measures we’ve put in place to ensure we continue to provide our clients with the best service - while keeping our team fit and healthy at the same time. 

 

Here to support you

 

Refresh is still fully operational and here to help brands and businesses wherever we can. Luckily, we work in a sector where we can do 99.9% of our jobs remotely and in the first week of full isolation, things are going well.

 

We’ve spent much of the past two weeks advising our clients on how best to communicate with customers, clients, stakeholders and the media during this time.

 

We’ve also prioritised being agile with the PR plans we have in place for clients, knowing that not all of these will be able to stay as they are in current circumstances. We’ve always prioritised collaboration, transparency and flexibility at our core, and now more than ever we’re working with clients to ensure the work we’re doing for them is the right thing.

 

If you need help keeping your clients or team informed - whether that’s through social media, blogs, eShots, media relations or internal comms - or want to chat about how you can make the most of your PR and marketing in these times, do let us know.    

 

New ways of working 

 

The safety and wellbeing of the Refresh team is our biggest priority, so we’ve worked hard over the past week to ensure all of them have the tools in place to allow them to work fully remotely.

 

While we’re used to a level of remote working, being completely remote is a new way of working for us – and who knows how long it will last? So, we’re trying to avoid seeing it as a temporary thing, and ensuring our colleagues have all the information and tools to be able to do a great job, safely, for the foreseeable future.

 

We’re also constantly thinking about new ways to run sessions such as workshops and strategy sessions that we’d usually host face to face. It’s probably going to be a while until we can run face to face meetings again, so we’ve got to work towards that ‘new normal’.  It’s definitely keeping our brains going.

 

Communication remains key

 

As PR professionals, communication obviously remains top of our list.

 

A lack of face to face meetings means we’re working even harder to keep our relationships between our team and with our clients flourishing.

 

Internally, we’re having an all agency Zoom call every morning so we can update team members on vital information, share our plans for the day and talk about any pain points or opportunities. We’re also holding creative ideas sessions on Zoom – maybe with a beer if it’s on a Friday afternoon to keep creativity going and morale up!

 

Externally, we’re prioritising regular calls and Zoom chats in line with what our clients need.

 

More practically, our office landline has been diverted to our PR Consultant, Ash, so she’ll be able to direct you to the correct person should you call the office line. Otherwise, use our mobile numbers at the bottom of our email signatures.

 

The future: who knows?

 

I think it’s safe to say that no one knows what the future holds right now. But we’re comfortable in knowing that we have plans and processes in place to deal with all eventualities.  

 

We’ve always said one of the main traits of a great PR professional is resilience and the past few days have definitely put that to the test! We know that the next few weeks, months and even years will be a challenge for most businesses, so if we can help you at all, don’t hesitate to get in touch! 0161 871 1188.

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Covid-19 update, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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The home working survival guide



There’s lots of terms which only a few weeks ago would have been largely unfamiliar but which have now become commonplace. One of these is social distancing, a practise which has rapidly introduced itself into many of our personal and professional lives.

 

This has meant a sharp uptake in people working from home who otherwise would have been in the office or on the road. While remote working has been getting more and more commonplace in recent years, the speed and scale at which it’s now being rolled out is unprecedented! 

 

This raises many practical issues, especially if people aren’t geared up for it. Do people have the equipment they need? Do they have enough space at home? Are the digital and tech processes in place to allow them to access files and communicate? Can teams be creative and reactive when not in the same room? The questions are endless!

 

On top of this, are people mentally prepared for long periods of home working? Is everyone going to be able to cope if they’re used to being around people every day and are now stuck staring at four walls and a laptop for eight hours a day?

 

With all of this in mind, we’ve had a think about some top tips to not only make sure that you get your work done, but that you stay sane while doing it.

 

Spaced out

 

Working hard all day on the sofa, only to then relax in the evening on the sofa can quickly lead to cabin fever. Free up some space at home that is purely for work – or if this isn’t possible, try changing the ambience between day and night, for example by playing different music or radio stations or subtly rearranging the space. 

 

Focus on being focused

 

The office provides a mental point of focus – you’re there to work and so you get on with work. At home there are a million different excuses not to work, with things to clean, tidy, read, watch, etc. that will not help you get through your to-do list. If you’re finding yourself getting distracted, try keeping a list at your side in your workspace of “home” things that you’ll only do in designated breaks or in the evening. 

 

Employees should be seen and heard

 

It’s important to make sure that people are aware of what you’re doing, what you need from them and what they might need from you. Staying on top of communications can be trickier when you can’t pop over to your colleague’s desk or stick your head into their office. Bosses in particular might be worrying about whether deadlines are being met if they’re more disconnected to their teams than usual. Think about scheduling regular online “huddles” to make sure that everyone’s okay and that things are progressing as planned or send out end-of-day email update with a round up of the work you’ve done and a plan for the day ahead.

 

It’s not all doom and gloom

 

The news right now is a pretty steady stream of disheartening information. Make sure you switch off from it at times, or better yet look out for some of the fun online content that’s being put out there which puts a happy face on the current predicament. Some of the ones we like include: a dinosaur touring an empty museum, rewriting classic songs and this working from home bingo card:

Refresh bingo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting tooled up

 

On a more serious note, you might be wondering how on earth you’re actually going to get your work done while stuck at home. Thanks to the recent surge in tech innovations however there should be a solution for any problem. If you’re not sure what digital tools are going to help, check out the following list:

·        Google Docs: It’s free, comes with a variety of different document types and is entirely cloud based (which is particularly useful if you don’t have a dedicated server)

·        Zoom: For only £12 per month for a business account, Zoom is a reliable, user-friendly way to hold video calls and conferences

·        Slack: A secure instant messaging platform that allows you to share files and video calls with colleagues

·        Drawpile: Missing that collaborative brainstorm around a whiteboard or flipchart? Check out Drawpile, which is a real-time collaborative drawing application

 

We hope these ideas and thoughts are useful if you’re struggling with home working issues. If you’ve got any other tips about how you’re managing with it please let us know!

 

 

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

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The future of Fintech



Account Manager, Gemma Trevers, discusses the Fintech sector and her predictions for the future.

I recently attended ProManchester’s Future of Fintech in Greater Manchester event, which looked closely at the opportunities that this market is providing to our city, and the Fintech ecosystem that Manchester currently has. Having previously worked in the Fintech, payments, and banking sectors, for several years it was great to keep up to date with the latest developments.

The Fintech landscape in the UK

But, before we can understand what’s going on in the region, we need to understand the Fintech market in the UK as a whole.

Fintech is the fastest growing sub-section of technology in the UK. Over 1,600 Fintech firms already exist in the UK and generates £6.6bn for the UK economy each year. With 82 per cent of businesses expected to establish a Fintech partnership in the next three to five years, we can expect the sector to grow tenfold.

So, what about Manchester then? Well, Manchester has 108 Fintech related businesses alone, with 63 per cent having at least one b2b proposition. What’s more, the city is the fastest, and most profitable, Fintech region outside of London. So, there’s clear opportunities for the sector in the city.

Predictions for the future

Now I’ve provided a bit of background on the industry, here are my five key predictions for the sector in the next five years:

  • Following Brexit, I believe Fintech will be the glue that holds the UK and EU together; Britain is a nation renowned for its financial service sector. Despite confusion over whether we’ll have the right passporting rights to operate in Europe, businesses from across the globe will still continue to use our best-in-class solutions and set-up shop here in the UK
  • We’re going to see an increase in the number of partnerships between traditional banks and challengers. With traditional institutions being built on legacy systems that aren’t agile and are extremely difficult to adapt, these institutions will have to look at partnering with Fintechs in order to keep up with consumer demand and expectations
  • There’s got to be more funding outside of London: with Manchester’s Fintech scene growing rapidly, investors at all stages have to divert attention away from the capital to support the regions’ fruitful financial institutions up north
  • Consumer data and insights will take the lead when it comes to the customer experience. With consumers wanting a more personalised experience than ever before, it’s going to be those utilising data to tailor their service which will reign supreme
  • Finally, in my opinion there’s going to be more and more instances of hacks and cybersecurity threats not only on the financial sector, but on anyone handling data. With Fintech usually having the latest technology to mitigate these threats, others will turn to these institutions to provide advice and support as cyber-criminals become increasingly advanced 

Find out more

I can’t cover all things Fintech in this post, but to hear more of my insights, or to chat about all things tech, follow me on Twitter at @GTreversPR, or contact the Refresh PR team on 0161 871 1188.

 

 

 

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

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My work experience at Refresh PR with Digital Her



We had sixth form student, Alice, at Refresh PR this week to get some experience in social media and digital comms. This is what she had to say about her placement:

Today my work experience at Refresh comes to a close with my last day here. I’ve had an amazing time that has definitely helped me to see what career I want in the future. Everyone here has been so kind and welcoming; I’ll definitely miss it! During this week I’ve been working my way through a number of tasks. These have included taking over the Refresh social channels, planning Twitter content for a couple of Refresh’s clients as well as completing an audit of the Refresh social media channels. It’s been really interesting to see how social media is used for clients in the business world which has given me real life insight in the sector I’d love to have a career in.
On Monday morning I wasn’t 100% what to expect, I already had my timetable for the week so had an idea of my tasks each day but I was stepping into a world that was completely new to me. Now, at the end of the week, I can safely say it has exceeded all my expectations. The whole experience from commuting into Manchester each day to siting around the table with the rest of the team for a training session has been as much of an exciting part of my week as the jobs I was working through. This week has given me so much knowledge and experience of the type of career I would like in the future that can’t always be learned sat behind a desk at school.

One of my favourite parts of this week has been completing the social media audit. Being able to present my own views on how the Refresh social channels could be improved was really fun and exciting. As part of this I drew upon examples from other brands and PR agencies which gave a wider view of how social media is used by different businesses. This task allowed me to use my existing passion for social media in a way relevant to Refresh. As a result, my experience has now gone beyond using just my personal Instagram and Twitter accounts making it now more relevant to my future (fingers crossed) with social media in the business world.

Obviously, my work experience wouldn’t be possible without everyone here at Refresh but they have made it a truly fantastic time. It was with the help of Manchester digital that my time here was arranged as part of their Digital Her work experience. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and I’m definitely going to keep in touch with everyone at Refresh! 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Digital, PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Social Media, tech, Work Experience

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Let’s change the conversation



I genuinely believe that each and every one of us can change the current course of the UK media. And I believe we need to.

 

Over the past few months, and in the last week alone, there has been an increased focus on what is, and isn’t ‘in the public interest’ and therefore suitable to report. Hand on heart, I think we all know perfectly well what is, and isn’t, essential information and in our interests.

 

Freedom of speech

 

However, we don’t need Government legislation to crack down on what the UK media can and can’t report, in fact you won’t meet a bigger advocate for freedom of speech in the media than me. Instead we need to change our behaviour as consumers of news. We absolutely have the power to click – or not click – on a story. We can choose whether to consume a news item, or whether to move on to another story, or switch off entirely. But as a nation we’re hooked, and the media is feeding our appetite for more as it knows what we want to see and read.

 

But, reflecting over the weekend on an industry I’ve worked in for over 20 years now, it’s hard to believe that this huge shift in consumption, this tidal wave of noise that gets us hooked and on screen for more and more hours per week (according to my weekly usage report), only began in 2007 with the release of a certain touchscreen phone.

 

Since the dawn of the iPhone, the UK’s media has been on a path of exponential evolution. It may have been ready for a change, but it was only with the introduction of the iPhone that it finally had the platform from which to explode – and explode it has. The pace at which we’ve been presented with news, and grown accustomed to digesting an increasing volume of it day, by day, by day, is difficult to grasp.

 

We ran a survey on Twitter this week asking for people to tell us the first social media platform they ever signed up to. Mine was Facebook, in 2007. That’s just 13 years ago. Looking back, I’m absolutely delighted that the previous 29 years of my life aren’t saved on a social media platform for the world to see. Back then I assume I filled my commuter time with reading a book. Maybe. It’s just so hard to remember back to a time without the volume of communication channels – and therefore news – that’s in our faces each minute of the day.

 

So why is there such a volume of ‘non-essential’ news gracing our screens?

 

For anyone not as close to the media (and for those of you who are, please bear with me), here’s a very brief (and definitely not comprehensive) answer to this question.  

 

With new tech came a change in the way we demand – and consume – news. Circulations of printed papers declined, and with it came a decrease in advertising revenue – and therefore profits. To remain in business, news moved online. But to be able to charge advertisers for space online, to balance the books once more, a huge competition began to get eyes on websites. And not just eyes, the time spent on the site is also a critical factor in attracting the cash.

 

Often journalists themselves won’t have full control over what they write and publish. Instead, they are instructed to draft content, which could be based on what Google Trends has been showing is the most searched for content over the past hour, or what Google Analytics says was their most read content of the previous 24 hours. Occasionally it may also be based on content provided by a PR person.

 

So in summary, as a consumer of news, every time you click on a story it encourages that site to provide more of the same content.

 

Changing the agenda

 

So, this is great when it’s a focus on something that will actually affect our lives (and it doesn’t always need to be about serious issues like climate change – I love life hack tips!). But not so great when it involves the hounding of a celeb. And it’s shockingly simple: if a site features a celeb looking downcast and it attracts more clicks than anything else that day, it will incentivise photographers to get more pics of said celeb looking glum the following day. The site knows we’ll click, and the advertisers will come, and the profits will be made.

 

More worryingly on a personal level, thirteen years ago I didn’t have any need for this in my life, but now it seems I do. And it almost seems non-negotiable. Almost.

 

A new dawn, a new day

 

It may not be the new year, in fact it’s 19th February, but today I make a new start. I’m not going to try to pretend I’ll put my phone down and go outside more, but I am going to seriously think before I click. My click, and the time I spend on those news articles of celebs, influences what the news the sites report. If I click more on stories that matter - stories that ARE in the public’s interest, stories with serious investigative reporting behind them - and less on the quick-fire celeb gossip stories that haven’t even been edited effectively (and if everyone else does the same just a little bit more/less), as consumers we’ll change the media agenda ourselves.  

 

I really believe we can. Who’s with me?

 

 

 

 

 

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

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



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

 1. Best campaign under £25k (Uponor)

 2. Best Small Agency

 

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

 

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

- Strategic Planning & Management (Uponor)

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

- Best use of Press & Public Relations (Uponor)

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

- Best over £50k campaign (Eurocell)

- PR Agency of the Year

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

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



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

 

Deliveroo – the Friends trifle

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

 

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

 

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

 

Warner Leisure Hotels – Anti-aGIN

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

 

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

 

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

 

Klarna – House of Klarna

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

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


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

 

ASB – Auckland Open dog ball boys

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

 

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

 

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

 

Tate & Lyle – edible hotel

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

 

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

 

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

 

ASOS – Tinder dress

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

 

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

 

Ikea – Classic TV show living-rooms

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

 

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

 

Virgin Holidays – Holiday Spirit

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

 

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

 

CALM – male statues

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

 

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

 

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

 

John Lewis – not a retail store

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

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



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

 

Climate change is now being taken seriously

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

 

Smart homes have evolved

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

 

Smartphones have taken over

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

 

24-7 availability

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

 

Social media has evolved

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

 

The rise of influencers  

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

 

More and more content  

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

 

Getting to and from meetings

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

 

PR has become more measurable

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

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

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“Manchester, so much to answer for” – 10 reasons we love our city



In the lead up to our 10-year anniversary in December, we’re hosting a series of blogs to get us warmed up for a night to remember. Without further ado, what better way to start than deep-diving into why we love Manchester and what our glorious city has bestowed upon the world. You may even learn some Mancunian lingo along the way.

 

1  We’ve got “mint” regional press

No true Mancunian would ever turn down the latest news from the bible that is the Manchester Evening News (MEN). Established in 1868, the publication has been delivering the forefront of the Mancunian news agenda ever since – with it finding form and growing in popularity across the UK over recent years.

 

Not only do we have the MEN but The Guardian was also first published in our very own Printworks in 1821, following the wake of the Peterloo Massacre. But it’s not just newspapers that established themselves here, the city publishes some of the most influential business and technology magazines such as Business Desk, North West Business Insider, and Prolific North.

 

More recently, even the BBC moved its Children’s, Radio, and Sport’s operations to Manchester’s Media City in 2011. Therefore, there’s no better place for a PR agency to thrive than in the centre of this media hub.  

 

2  Michelin star restaurants and “dead good” bars

This year saw Manchester’s Mana win the city’s first Michelin star in over 40 years, showing you don’t need to visit London in order to experience fine-dining.

 

But, if you’re “gagging for a drink” instead, you’d struggle to find a bar in the city which hasn’t been showered with awards. Whether it’s the Northern hospitality or the delicious drinks (they’re not all Vimto flavoured we promise!), Manchester is the place to wine and dine your clients without the expensive price tag associated with London.

 

3  “Our Kid”, the ‘Manchester Baby’, was born here

That’s right the birthplace of the first modern computer was Manchester. On 21st June 1948, Frederic C. Williams, Tom Kilburn, and Geoff Tootill ran its first programme at the University of Manchester. Since then, Manchester’s digital feet haven’t touched the floor.

 

Our technology industry is thriving, being the single biggest technology hub outside of the Capital and boasting over 62,000 tech jobs. This is something our client, Manchester Digital, has latched on to. The not-for-profit organisation works with the region’s most progressive digital and tech organisations to create the optimum environment for success. It creates a healthy ecosystem; supports the acquisition of talent and upskilling; is committed to innovation across the city; helps businesses in the region collaborate to lead to better outcomes; and profiles Manchester as a great digital destination.

 

4 Our city is “Buzzin”

With a growing population, and an increased need for housing at all levels, our residential sector continues to drive record levels of real estate development, with over 14,400 residential units under construction across 48 developments. Not only this but, more of these units are due to be delivered in the next three years than in the last 10 years combined.

 

Therefore, where’s better for suppliers, constructors, and architects to set up shop? What’s more, as experts in built environment PR, we know what makes these individuals tick and how to access them.

 

5  There’s a “mad fer it” music scene

You can’t help but think of music when you think of Manchester: we birthed The Smiths, Oasis, The Stone Roses, The Courteeners, Joy Division, and a whole host more. We live and breathe music with our live venues and nights out being some of the best in the UK.

 

Therefore, when the work is done and it’s time to relax, Manchester is here to carry you through into the early hours of the morning.

 

6  “Swear down” Manchester was the first industrial city

Manchester has always driven change and pushed industries forward, often in the face of adversity. We pioneered the Industrial Revolution in 1760 setting the country on a course it was never coming back from.

 

From the industrial revolution to the technological revolution, Manchester has cut through the noise to deliver the next generation of evolution pushing the city and its reputation forward – much like Refresh does for its award-winning clients.

 

7 “Top” partnerships

There’s no denying it, we’re good at putting things together. Whether it’s chips and gravy, Morrissey and Marr, or Rolls and Royce, we sure know how to spark a partnership which changes history.

 

Like our city, Refresh builds lasting relationships with its clients set on trust, expertise, guidance, and the delivery of great results – we wouldn’t have made it to 10 years if we didn’t!

 

8   Red or Blue, we’re “sound” at football

As famous as the weather, our football teams really are world-class. If you’re in Manchester, at some time or another, you’ll be asked the ultimate question: “Red or Blue?” – one that’s divided the city for eons. But, no matter which side of the fence you’re on, there’s no denying our city is a hub of collaboration for success – whether it’s on or off the pitch.

 

Therefore, at Refresh we take this ethos with us, it’s through the collaboration of our skilled team and expert clients that we can create campaigns which ignite the food and drink, built environment, and technology sectors.

 

9  “Give yer head a wobble” if you think we’re not international

Manchester is the third most visited city in the UK, bringing in nearly £670m to the economy and 28.38 million passengers using our airport in 2018. With direct routes to Beijing introduced this year, business and tourism from China has boomed. Additionally, new routes to San Francisco were added to Manchester Airport’s growing roster this year, connecting the city directly to tech-booming, Silicon Valley.

 

Therefore, when businesses across the globe are making strategic decisions to partner with the best talent there is, there’s no need for them to hone in on London. Manchester is now more accessible than ever for business all over the world.   

 

10 We think inequality is “angin”

We sparked Votes for Women! Not only this, we have one of the largest LGBT communities in the UK and are championing a diverse population, being home to the third-largest Chinese population in Europe and having over 200 languages spoken in our city every day.

 

With Manchester’s feet firmly grounded in promoting equality, it’s fitting that Manchester Digital’s scheme Digital Her is empowering women and young girls to pursue a career in the tech and digital industries to bridge the gap and show girls that they can be whatever they want to be.  

 

As you can see, we may be biased but there’s good reason for it! We’re proud of this city and wouldn’t want to be sharing our 10th birthday anywhere else.

 

Keep posted for our next blog in this series.

 

 

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

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The sky is the limit for Refresh PR and Uponor!



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Eight Construction Marketing Award shortlists for Refresh PR



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

 

CMA awards

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

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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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Refresh PR sees a digital future



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Busting the myths around PR



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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



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

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

Relationships

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

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

Cut through

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

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

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

Results

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

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UK tech on a global stage: 2019 Tech Nation report



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A ‘FEIN’ new client for Refresh PR



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

 

 

 

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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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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.

 

 

 

 

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The Growth of FinTech in Manchester



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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The not-so-smart market of smart speakers



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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Is social media starting to change?



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

 

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

 

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

 

The fall of Goliath?

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

 

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

 

Changing user habits

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

A look to the future

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Meet The Team



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

How did you get into PR?

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

What do you love most about working in PR?

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

What do you think you bring to Refresh PR?

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

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

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

Finally, where do you see the future of PR?

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

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

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



At Refresh PR we pride ourselves on our ability to get under the skin of our clients’ businesses. Giving bold, strategic advice based on robust insight we deliver fresh and inspired ideas with consistent results. Our fast-growing client base ranges from cutting-edge business start-ups to national companies across both private and not for profit sectors.

 

We’re looking for a confident and articulate person with a passion for PR who will relish the chance to join the team as a senior account executive working across a range of B2B accounts in the construction, built environment, property, tech and e-commerce sectors.  You’ll have already gained valuable PR agency or in-house experience with at least a year spent working in B2B PR.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Working in a fantastic location in the Northern Quarter, we’re a sociable bunch of like-minded people who really enjoy what we do.  We’re proud to be a fun, friendly team offering a more flexible approach to work.  As a fast-growing business, we can offer you the unique opportunity to contribute to the direction of the organisation.  What’s more, we’re dedicated to helping our people grow and achieve their potential through The Refresh Management Academy – a 6-month programme of structured training and development, created and delivered by experienced PR practitioners and expert trainers. This unrivalled programme provides you with all the key skills that will help you to become a highly effective senior account executive and progress your career with Refresh.

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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Faking it: why PR pros must work harder in the fake news era



Fake news: Collins Dictionary’s ‘word of the year’ in 2017 and the current friend/foe of politicians and spin-doctors around the world.

While fake news is by no means a new phenomenon, its proliferation in the US election and the myriad of fake news sites that have popped up over the past 18 months have amplified it hugely.

And although our favourite technology giants Facebook and Google are both taking steps to reduce the spread of fake news and misinformation, the growing group of people it is impacting is a worry. No longer solely an issue facing bickering politicians and super celebrities, fake news is now an issue for more than just the world’s elite.

Businesses and brands are just as at risk, as we’ve seen in recent months. Starbucks fell victim to the trend last summer when it was falsely reported that the coffee chain was giving away free coffee to undocumented American immigrants – something it quickly debunked over Twitter. And more locally to us Mancunians, the city’s tram system had to quickly tell its customers that a poster claiming it was offering free travel across the network on Valentine’s Day was incorrect.

But it’s not just businesses, brands and public figures that are at risk – it’s PR pros too. Working with brands and businesses of all sizes on a daily basis, PRs must ensure our clients are producing valuable content to cut through the rubbish, especially considering dwindling trust in the media and the fact that a number of people now have trouble distinguishing which stories are real and fake. PRs will also have to work harder to protect their clients’ reputations in the era of fake news.

Of course, all good PR pros will provide top quality content to journalists and should therefore already have good relationships with their key contacts. Good PRs will be trusted by these journalists, so the situation will be easier to manage should misinformation be spread about a client. Journalists will also increasingly rely on PRs to provide them with accurate information from the off, as cutbacks make them even more strapped for time and reliant on us to give them factual information the first time, every time.

In addition, PR pros that haven’t already will need to brush up on their social media and crisis comms skills to ensure that any situations that arise in this fake news era can be managed quickly and efficiently.

Here at Refresh PR we’ll be keeping our eye on the situation and ensuring our clients don’t suffer damage because of it. So if you’re a business that thinks they need a bit of help, or could benefit from some crisis communications advice or training, give us a call on 0161 871 1188 or check out our upcoming event here.

Tagged with: Fake news, Lifestyle, PR Manchester, Public Relations North West, Social Media

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Business Crisis – would you know what to do?



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

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Maximising the Media Agenda to Make Brand Impact



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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Refresh Kick Starts a Campaign to Break Menopause Taboos



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

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What I Love About PR This Valentine’s Day



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

 

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

 

PR gets results

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

 

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

 

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

 

PR is subtle

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

 

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

 

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

 

PR is cost effective

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

 

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

 

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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The Importance of LinkedIn



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

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

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

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

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

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The Apprentice of the Month Awards



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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Injecting creativity into B2B PR



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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Demand grows for backlink building campaigns



Increasingly, clients – particularly online retailers – are seeking the support of Refresh for digital PR. Delivered successfully, a digital PR campaign will not only increase a company’s ranking on Google, but will increase traffic to a website, reduce bounce rate and ensure there’s real buzz around a company in online media and social channels, which are continually increasing in popularity.

 

The wants of the media change daily. For many journalists working in today’s world, the aim is to keep users on their website or social media channels for as long as possible. By doing so, they prove the value of the content they’re writing to their editors, advertisers and audience in order to achieve cut through in a noisy and ever-changing industry.

 

This has, in turn, impacted the ways businesses think about their PR and marketing. Objectives are now targeted by online visibility scores, social engagements and the success of cross-channel campaigns. In addition, being on page one of Google for a key search term can make a company successful overnight – similarly, being bumped down to page three can also have catastrophic outcomes.

 

Refresh PR has substantial experience in creating digitally-led PR campaigns, targeted specifically with helping to improve a brand’s SEO. This is achieved by using clever techniques to secure coverage on high authority news and social websites which include live links back to a website.

 

By doing do for clients including Kagool, MyGlazing.com, GourmetMeatClub.co.uk, BuildMyGift.com, insureTAXI.com and more, we’ve driven hundreds of thousands of consumers to engage and buy from the brands via their websites, increased domain authority, secured bounce rates of less than 40% and moved our clients up Google rankings for many of their keywords - in some case, moving from page three to page one.

 

Refresh PR’s digital tactics are delivered with a business’ objectives in mind and aim to exceed expectations. If you’re interested in working with Refresh PR to improve your online and digital PR, get in touch today.

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: Lifestyle, PR agencies Manchester, PR backlink campaign, PR campaign essential, Public Relations North West, SEO and PR

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Do you have Britain’s best Window with a View?



The search is once again on to find Britain’s best Window with a View. For the third year, Refresh PR will run the campaign on behalf of MyGlazing.com, the UK’s independent consumer advice website for home improvement and glazing.

 

The campaign, which drives hundreds of thousands of visitors to the MyGlazing.com each year, comprises social media, digital PR, backlink building and traditional media relations activity to generate entries into what is fast becoming a key event in the calendar year.

 

Adding to a very successful two years, for the first time in 2018 views from offices will be eligible to enter the campaign. So if you’re lucky enough to gaze out of your office window each day onto an amazing view, we want to hear from you. We’re also still inviting entries from tourist attractions and other public buildings as usual.


The campaign will launch at the start of February, so get snapping your views now (remember to include the window frame) and save them up ready to upload to www.myglazing.com/wwav

 

 

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

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Strong start to 2018 as Refresh PR welcomes four new clients



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , creatiive agency Manchester, Health & Beauty, Leisure, Lifestyle, PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR campaign essential, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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2018: A century on and another year of big change



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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The changing face of the BBC



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Tagged with: BBC, News, PR, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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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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Please respect the power of PR



In our line of work we’re used to change, sometimes on a minute by minute basis – and change is good. But even by our industry standards, the past few months have been transformational in a number of ways.

 

Being passionate about PR and everything it can deliver for a brand or person, I keep reading dramatic (perhaps clickbait?) headlines declaring that PR is dead. PR will never be dead; it may evolve, morphing with other disciplines and regenerating itself – particularly as technology continues to force change – but PR has been around as long as records have been around, and it’s here to stay.

 

What other discipline could change opinion as quickly as an effective PR campaign can? Simply look at politics now: suddenly it’s cool to be a proud Labour supporter and in a lot of areas of the UK, embarrassing to outwardly express a pro-Tory opinion. And whether you agree or not, rightly or wrongly the Brexit campaign (and the coining of this word alone) was PR demonstrating its strength on a monumental scale.In the world of food and drink, who would have said it would be desirable for the middle class to proudly announce they shop at Aldi five years ago? And to be seen drinking Stella Artois? These brands reinvented themselves thanks to clever PR strategies.

 

PR helps to change opinion, reinforce a message, has the power to change the demographic purchasing a product, manages the message in times of a crisis…I could go on. My point is that PR is powerful. It isn’t dead! The tactics we use to cut through the noise and bring a message to the public’s opinion will continue to evolve quickly – for example this year we’ve done more work with micro influencers and Instagram ambassadors than ever before - but strategically most Company Boards see that PR is critical to a brand. It’s the strategic value that PR brings which shouldn’t be forgotten, or lost, in the debates circulating at the moment. PR is an investment not a cost.

 

And in times of a crisis, when the freedom of social media allows pretty much anyone to write pretty much anything about a company, and enable these comments gather pace second by second, what other tool in the marketing mix would be called upon to attempt to refocus the message and set the record straight? None.

 

 

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CMA shortlist success for Refresh PR



For our B2B team, the Construction Marketing Awards are a highlight of the year. For one night, we get to celebrate the hard work put in over the year on our built environment clients, and now that the shortlist for this year's awards has been released, we're thrilled to say 2017 will be no different.

This year, Refresh PR has been shortlisted for 'Best use of Press & Public Relations' for our Window With a View campaign and ‘PR Agency of the Year’. 

Our Window with a View campaign, which we launched on behalf of our client myglazing.com, has been finding the best views across the UK for the last two years. We have generated great pieces of coverage throughout the campaign, whilst achieving results that were aligned with our client’s key business objectives.  

We are also incredibly proud to be shortlisted for ‘PR Agency of the Year’. With more than three decades of experience in built environment PR across our team members, we provide innovative and creative ideas, that drive results, for a range of clients within the construction sector. We're so proud to say this has been recognised by the CMA judges, and can't wait to see if we take any accolades home on the night. 

Congratulations to all those shortlisted!

You can view the full shortlist here: http://www.cmawards.co.uk/cma-2017-shortlist-announced/

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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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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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RIP PR?



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

Social Media

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

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

Social influencers

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

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

PR & SEO

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

Measurement

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

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

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

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

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

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How to react in a crisis



Last week saw not one, but two PR disasters that would have been easily alleviated by a considered PR strategy.

 

Firstly, Hope & Glory festival has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. What promised to be the best bands, combined with a decadent Victoriana carnival atmosphere, wicked fun and a heavy dose of outrageous sideshows, turned out to be a disaster.

 

It all started with a tweet from the Happy Mondays’ Rowetta, urging fans not to attend the second day of the festival, as it had been cancelled. This, accompanied with a conflicting statement in the Liverpool Echo advising that the festival was still going ahead, left attendees confused. When the event organisers did tweet, simply stating ‘no festival today’, it was clear it was time to go home.

 

No official statement was given by the festival organisers for more than 24 hours, and when it was released, it provided no answers, only finger pointing, aggravating the situation further.

 

Only a few days later, there was mass confusion surrounding Botswana's Isaac Makwala, who was ruled out of the 200m heats and 400m final at the World Championships in London, despite insisting he was fit.

 

Organisers, the IAAF, declared Makwala had norovirus and he was banned from the race, and the entire stadium. The BBC waited hours for an official statement, without avail, allowing rumours and allegations to circulate.

 

In situations like this, it is of paramount importance that communication to the public and the media are handled by experienced PR professionals. Undoubtedly, PR agencies across Manchester, and in fact the globe, have been discussing how they would have handled the situations, but being the nice and helpful people that we are, we will share our thoughts on how to correctly manage and execute crisis comms. Hope & Glory, IAAF, are you listening?...

 

1.      As soon as an issue arises, take control of the message and make sure it’s clear across all platforms. For Hope & Glory, the first communication should have come from the show’s organisers, not Rowetta. With Twitter allowing attendees to get their side of the story out instantly, it’s important you provide a clear, concise statement that informs the public of the situation. The IAAF failed to inform Makwala of whether he would be able to run, with the public speculating reasons why on Twitter. It is always beneficial for a brand’s public perception to address a problem at the outset, rather than letting the public make their own truth

2.      If you’re going to engage on Twitter, make sure your messaging is correct, and the tone appropriate. Hope & Glory’s attempts at engaging with its visitors were shambolic, aggressive, and defensive, alienating themselves further. To make matters worse, the bio of the account was changed to ‘TWITTER - The place where the truth doesn't matter, bullying is de rigeur and decent people get destroyed’. Apparently, the organiser of Hope & Glory, Lee O’Hanlon, didn’t check social media for the 48 hours surrounding the festival, leaving it to a junior team member, meaning he had no sight of his customers’ feedback, both big PR no-nos.

3.      When a company publicly announces that a formal statement will be released at noon, the company needs to make sure it releases it at noon. Having your audience waiting a further fifteen minutes (on top of the original 24-hour delay) will only aggravate the situation further

4.      Do not pass the blame. Your statement shouldn’t pass the blame onto other parties, rather acknowledge the issue and provide a concise response. If you have previously publicly announced you are in control of an event, denying any responsibility when a problem arises will further anger any stakeholders and will damage your public perception even more

5.      Don’t cry over stolen milk. In the official statement from Hope & Glory, the fact that the organisers’ milk and food were stolen was laboured more than the actual issue, that thousands of people were out of pocket. Trying to garner sympathy from the public because someone stole your pint of milk means nothing when they’ve lost hundreds of pounds. It’s imperative that you understand your stakeholders, and the wider issues

6.      Hire a PR agency experienced in crisis comms. It is worth every penny when serious situations arise. An agency will handle social media, manage the media, produce a holding statement and craft a full statement to be released to the public, meaning you can respond with a controlled strategy that is consistent throughout

 

It’s safe to say that Hope & Glory will go down in history for all the wrong reasons with Makwala’s career almost put on hold due a communication breakdown. Already dire situations were handled appallingly, magnifying the damage already caused. The fact that Makwala was eventually allowed to compete, albeit on his own, highlights the incorrect steps the IAAF took in communicating to the athletes, the media and the public and the following response from the public shows how important having a crisis comms strategy is.

 

If you think your company would benefit from crisis comms, now or in the future, contact us for more information.

 

 

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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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Refresh PR proves a success for start-ups



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: alcohol, B2B PR agency Manchester , Beauty, Built Environment, Construction, cosmetics, creatiive agency Manchester, Creative Agency, drink, Food, glitter, heating installation, Leisure, Lifestyle, Manchester, Marketing, North West , plumbing, PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Product Placement, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Retail, Social Media

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Glastonbury – The Ultimate PR Win



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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Refresh shortlisted for two Manchester PR Agency Awards



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

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



Refresh PR is a Manchester based PR agency located in fantastic space in the Northern Quarter.  We’re proud to be a fun, friendly team offering a more flexible approach to work.  As a fast-growing business, we can offer you the unique opportunity to quickly learn and progress your career.  What’s more, we’re dedicated to helping our people grow and achieve their potential through The Refresh Academy – a 6-month programme of structured training and development, created and delivered by experienced PR practitioners and expert trainers.  This unrivalled programme provides you with all the key skills that will help you to become highly effective and progress your career with Refresh PR.

 

We pride ourselves on our no-nonsense approach and our ability to get under the skin of our clients’ businesses.  Giving bold, strategic advice based on robust insight we deliver creative campaigns that drive consistent results. Our fast-growing client base ranges from cutting-edge business start-ups to national companies across both private and not for profit sectors. We pride ourselves on our unique approach and are industry recognised by the CMA’s and B2B Marketing Awards for our creative campaigns working with brands such as LG Electronics and Vaillant.

 

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

 

More broadly, we’re looking for someone filled with energy and enthusiasm who is proactive, persistent and methodical in their approach with a real eye for detail.  You are considerate and supportive; a real team player with the ability to remain calm and considered when faced with new or pressurised situations. You’ll work closely with the rest of the B2B team to ensure we are delivering consistently for our clients, yet will be able to use initiative, working independently most of the time. 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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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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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Goodbye 2016, hello 2017



 

 

 

Well, what a year that was. Many people will be glad to see the back of 2016 and will be looking forward to the challenges and possibilities of 2017.

 

But for Refresh PR, 2016 has been one of our strongest years yet. From client wins and new appointments to award wins and campaign success, it has been a busy but a hugely rewarding 12 months for the team.

 

We will be working hard to mirror this success in 2017, with a focus on creating the strongest team possible and continuing to deliver award-winning campaigns. Emma McCallum joined us in May 2016 as associate director and Caroline Gibson was appointed shortly after as consumer account director, bringing with them a wealth of experience, which will support our existing clients and spearhead our future growth strategy.

 

2016 also saw Sarah Mashiter join the team as HR and operations director, utilising her experience to improve operational processes, implement stronger training programmes and launch the Refresh Academy to provide the highest level of training to our team. 

 

2016 was an interesting year for the PR industry; with consumer demands and technological advances developing at a faster rate than ever, it is becoming a more challenging, but undoubtedly more exciting industry.  We reflect on 2016’s changes, and our 2017 predictions in previous blogs, but only time will tell what this year holds for the PR industry and Refresh PR – watch this space! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: 2017, Lifestyle, Manchester, New Year, North West , Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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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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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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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: building, Built Environment, Construction, homes, houses, Manchester, Marketing, PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, prefab, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Awards, awards, awards



We’ve had plenty of reasons to celebrate over the last few months, with our campaigns shortlisted for some of the most prestigious marketing and PR awards in the country.

The Northern Marketing Awards took place on the 19th October, and we were delighted to have been shortlisted in three categories; Best Food and Drink Campaign for our work on the Food Porn Awards, Best Property and Construction Campaign for our work on the Heating Installer of the Year Awards and in the Small Agency category alongside some of the finest marketers in the North.

We unfortunately didn’t come away with any trophies, but we’re extremely proud to have battled against some of the biggest brands in the industry, including Rubicon, Pepsi and Britvic.

Looking forward, this month will see the CIM Northern Awards Ceremony where our work on the Food Porn Awards has been shortlisted for Best Northern Region campaign. We are also just one of two agencies shortlisted for Small Northern Agency – testament to our talented team!

Rounding off 2016, December’s Construction Marketing Awards will be particularly exciting with Refresh PR shortlisted in a whopping five categories! Once again, it’s not just our campaigns being recognised for their excellence as we’re also up for Agency of the Year – a nod to our expertise in communications for the built environment. 

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

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Refresh captures the best view in Britain



 

September saw our ‘Window with a View’ campaign with the Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF) come to an exciting conclusion – and with phenomenal results.

Having launched its consumer advice site MyGlazing.com in September 2015, the GGF came to us in December looking for ways to raise awareness of the new brand. Its aim was to drive 100,000 consumers to the website by October 2016.

Understanding that visual and interactive campaigns are leading the way in the press and on social media, we devised the ‘Window with a View’; a competition to find the country’s most stunning view through a window.

Since January, we’ve been reaching out to the nation’s tourism attractions, hotels, bars and restaurants – anywhere open to the general public – via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, in the press and even over the phone, encouraging people enter a snap of their best window view to the competition.

We received 150 nominations – including entries from the Houses of Parliament, Titanic Belfast, St Paul’s Cathedral, Blackpool Tower and Blackpool Tower – and the competition made the news in every corner of the UK, on TV, in print and – crucially – online. Web coverage was key throughout the campaign, providing opportunity to link back to the MyGlazing.com site, taking us ever closer to that 100,000 visitors target.

Following an intense judging day, two stages of public voting and an anxious wait to find out which attraction would take the national crown, the Museum of Liverpool was announced as the first ever winner of the Window with a View competition live on BBC Radio Merseyside’s breakfast show at the end of September.

The following week, we were over the moon to hear the news that the 100,000 visitors target had not only been achieved, but exceeded. It just goes to show a well-thought out strategy with a dedicated team behind it can result in great things.

Plans are already in place to launch Year Two in 2017, so watch this space!

 

Tagged with: Built Environment, Construction, Facebook, Home Interest, Lifestyle, Marketing, PR, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Social Media

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Enter the Food Porn Awards and get a bite of the action!



September saw us launch the 2017 Food Porn Awards with STM Photography. We’re calling on eateries from across the North West, Yorkshire and Cumbria to get snapping their most mouth-watering dishes!

Following a hugely successful 2016 launch, the Food Porn Awards have returned, with a mission to find the most tantalising dishes in the North West, Yorkshire and Cumbria.

Restaurants, bars, pubs and eateries should enter images of their best-looking food in order to win the coveted 2017 award.

The Refresh PR team has been leading press office activity for the campaign, engaging key media and influencers in the target regions to encourage entries, and will be supporting at all four cook-off events in Leeds and Manchester in January.

We have also approached leading industry figures to join our judging panel, which this year includes Maria Bracken, editor of leading industry publication, Eat Out, Professor Stewart Morell from Manchester Metropolitan University, and Maria Whitehead, event director of Taste Cumbria.

The shortlisted dishes will be showcased at the Food Porn Awards exhibition at the Northern Restaurant and Bar Show on 21st and 22nd March 2017, where the ultimate winner will be announced.

Entries have already been pouring in from both sides of the Pennines, with 2017 hopefuls including Neighbourhood in Manchester, Iberica in Leeds and Marco Pierre White’s renowned Marco’s New York Italian in Sheffield. If you know a Food Porn-worthy hidden gem in the North, encourage them to get involved and enter online by Sunday 13th November.

 

 

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

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Refresh PR is on the job with Detail2Recruitment



Our direct marketing campaign for recruitment specialist, Detail2Recruitment, will use content generation to reinforce its expertise in key industries.

 

Creating content that is informative, engaging and highly relevant to their target audience is top of the list for many businesses, but can be a tricky balancing act. Working with recruitment specialist, Detail2Recruitment, our latest direct marketing campaign will produce creative content to cut through the noise in the retail and leisure sectors and highlight the business’ expertise.

 

With offices in Manchester, London, Edinburgh and Dublin, Detail2Recruitment has specialist teams covering the retail, leisure and hospitality and digital sectors. Its expertise has resulted in significant revenue growth and long-term partnerships with household names including Casual Dining Group, Debenhams and Carphone Warehouse.

 

With the recruitment sector booming and a spotlight on how best to provide businesses with engaging materials that resonate, this project enables us to do just that by offering creative content and new insights. The campaign runs until the end of November and we can’t wait to see the results!

 

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

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Refresh PR boosts consumer team with senior appointment



October saw us expand our award-winning team further with the addition of Caroline Gibson, our new consumer account director.

 

Caroline joins from BJL, where she worked with the likes of Marriott, Ronseal and Eurocamp. Caroline will work alongside our senior management team to further grow the agency’s consumer client base, and continue to deliver standout campaigns for clients.

 

Caroline brings with her a wealth of experience, working with leading brands across the hospitality, retail and FMCG sectors, including Burger King, Cravendale, Wilko, GG Hospitality and GO Outdoors.

 

The appointment follows a number of senior hires at Refresh PR in recent months, with Emma McCallum and Sarah Mashiter joining the agency as associate director and HR and operations director earlier this year.

 

Emma McCallum said: “Caroline’s appointment supports continued growth within Refresh PR’s consumer arm over the past six months. She brings with her a huge amount of experience within the hospitality and retail sectors, and will be a real asset to the agency.”

 

 

 

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

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The power of positivity



When a couple of team members from Refresh received an invite to attend a day-long session on Positive Psychology with Graham Keen Partnerships, how could we say no? We always need a bit more positivity in our lives.

 

Graham started the company in 2000.  In this time he has worked with some household names, and has a successful track record.  So, we were looking forward to understanding how he could help us.

 

My main takeaway from the day was to always think in a positive way. In a similar way to how communication works – in that telling people the same message over and over again encourages people to remember it, digest it, acknowledge it, believe it and repeat it – applying the same principle to our internal thoughts by making them all positive means things will become…well, more positive.

 

Obviously there’s a little more to it than that; we attended a one-day course but Graham runs courses of different lengths and with different content to suit the audience – he even talks at company conferences.

 

There is a lot to look forward to and be positive about. PR is changing and evolving at a huge rate, with some massive milestones this year already. In 2016 we’ve seen a British astronaut tweeting from space, engaging a whole new generation in science as a result.  It is also fascinating to watch how it is influencing political campaigns (rightly or wrongly), more so than ever before, from Brexit (coining this term alone was a genius stroke for PR) to the current US election.  

 

Closer to home at Refresh, we’ve delivered changes in the past few months in terms of the way we work and approach client campaigns. The integrated communication campaigns that we’ve built and produced as an agency over the course of 2016 have produced real, tangible business results for our clients – and we’re nominated for lots of industry awards as a result. Strong additions to the senior management team, together with a solid training package for the whole team, are pushing the company forward at a fast pace, and I’m extremely excited to see what the next six months will bring.

 

So, what have I done differently? Graham set us a task to think more positively: we must control how we talk to ourselves as our self-talk creates our beliefs. In all honesty this positivity lasted all of 10 minutes until I hit the Manchester traffic on the way back to the agency. I don’t care how you sugar coat it, every road ‘improvement’ over the past five years has made it worse to get round our city centre! But town planning aside, in terms of dealing with work, it definitely has been worthwhile. Dismissing the unimportant negatives that have a habit of coming into our lives regularly has enabled me to concentrate on the good, and make that even better where I possibly can. Long may it continue.  

 

One piece of advice I would give anyone attending Graham’s course is to sign up for the follow up session and use it as a check in. I didn’t, so instead Graham’s ‘new impetus’ workbook sits on the side of my desk as a gentle reminder.

 

 

 

Tagged with: Lifestyle, Manchester, Marketing, North West , positivity, PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, psychology, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, training

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The business benefits of a community spirit



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

So, why are we so passionate about collaboration?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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Refresh PR shortlisted for three Northern Marketing Awards 2016



We’re delighted to announce that we’ve been shortlisted for three of Prolific North’s Northern Marketing Awards 2016!Northern Marketing Awards Refresh PR

 

Our work for the Food Porn Awards and Heating Installer of the Year Awards has been shortlisted for the Best Food and Drink Campaign and Best Property and Construction Campaign respectively, and we’ve also been shortlisted for the Best Small Agency in the North (up to 30 employees).

 

Over the last seven years, we’ve worked hard to tailor our offering to our clients across the B2B and B2C sectors to ensure they get the most out of their communications and marketing campaigns. By combining strategic marketing insights with creativity, we pride ourselves on developing and implementing powerful, integrated campaigns that help business cut through the noise and be noticed.

 

The team in the office this morning is over the moon to hear about the shortlists – and it really is testament to their hard work, passion and expertise. You can find out more about our Food Porn Awards and Heating Installer of the Year Awards integrated marketing campaigns on our blog, and we’ll let you know how we get on at the awards ceremony in October.   

 

 

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

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Twice is nice for Arbonne at the Pure Beauty Awards



Our skincare, cosmetics and nutrition client, Arbonne has been shortlisted in two categories at the prestigious Pure Beauty Awards 2016. A highlight of the beauty industry’s calendar, the awards celebrate the most innovative products launched in the sector over the last 12 months.  

 

Arbonne’s Prime and Proper Eye Makeup Primer, which helps to prevent eyeshadows from creasing or fading, has been nominated as one of the best new eye products.

Arbonne award Refresh PR

In the Best New Electrical Product category, the recently launched Intelligence Genius Ultra Device secured a coveted place in the line-up. The Genius Ultra offers the ultimate next generation solution to help target signs of ageing, by using a gentle circular movement which smooths products onto the skin for just one minute on each area.

 

Kelly Lloyd-Sanderson, marketing director at Arbonne UK, said “We pride ourselves on the creation of innovative products that are vegan friendly and 100 per cent botanically based. To be recognised in two categories is a wonderful accomplishment and is testament to the hard work of our product development teams who stay ahead of industry trends to create products that our customers really want.”

 

Voting is now open for this year’s Pure Beauty Awards. If you’d like to vote for Arbonne, you can do so here: http://www.hpcimedia.com/pure-beauty-awards/award-categories/.

 

 

 

Tagged with: awards, Beauty PR, Health & Beauty, Home Interest, Leisure, Lifestyle, PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Product Placement, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Shortlist success for B2B Marketing Awards’ tastiest entry



Our work on food and drink campaign, the Food Porn Awards, has been shortlisted for a prestigious B2B Marketing Award! After successfully launching the awards to the North West’s eateries last year, our team of foodies has been rewarded with a nomination in the Best Public Relations Campaign category.

 

The innovative integrated communications campaign saw more than 250 eateries enter, with impressive results for our client, STM Photography.

 

The B2B Marketing Awards is an annual awards event, celebrating outstanding work in the B2B marketing industry. The Food Porn Awards’ nomination comes just a few weeks after it was shortlisted as one of the best creative campaigns at the CIPR PRide Awards 2016, with the winners due to be announced in November.

 

Laura Mashiter, managing director at Refresh PR, said: “Being nominated for such a prestigious industry award is a fantastic achievement for the team and again demonstrates our ability to create powerful campaigns that generate tangible business results. This year, the awards will be bigger and better. As well as expanding to the Yorkshire region, we’re inviting leading food and drink brands to get involved with the campaign and become sponsors. So, if you’d like to get a taste of what we have to offer, get in touch with me or my team.”

 

For more information on becoming a sponsor, email laura.holden at refreshpr.co.uk, or give us a call on 0161 871 1188.

 

Tagged with: B2B Marketing Award, Best Public Relations Campaign, Food & Drink, Food Porn Awards, Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Picture Perfect: Instagram’s latest update to capture businesses’ attention



Instagram has primarily been known for its powerful visuals, beautiful galleries and, let’s face it, funny memes. However, with its latest investment in business tools, small businesses are set to see real results from using the app.

 

According to Instagram around half of its 500 million monthly active users now follow a business on the platform and 60 percent say they have learned about new products this way.

 

Last week, the photo sharing app launched Business Profiles for its 200,000 advertisers, with this group primarily made up of small businesses.

 

So, how will this latest update help businesses target audiences more effectively? One of the main benefits is the insights tool, which takes away the perplexity brands sometimes experience when it comes to measuring the return on investment of uploading an image or video clip.  

 

This insights tool will, much like Facebook, provide reports on user engagement, the demographic of followers and will also allow brands to turn popular posts into adverts with the click of a button. The latter is particularly beneficial for businesses with smaller budgets, enabling them to effectively try before they buy. This ability to see if content is actually working well offers small businesses the opportunity to be more agile in making changes to capture their audience’s attention.

 

As well as this insight led change, Business Profiles will be categorised by industry and a new contact button has been introduced to bring users and businesses closer together. This will also allow users to make a quick decision as to how relevant the profile is to them, meaning that analytics will be much more reliable and accurate.

 

This categorisation by industry signals that Instagram isn’t just for fashion brands showcasing their latest collections; trade and B2B organisations can also benefit. The implementation of Business Profiles could work particularly well in the construction industry. For example, a short video tutorial on how to build or install a product could click through to the product page on the company’s website, providing insights into which content works best and helping to drive sales.

 

American Express is one business taking Instagram by storm. Although it is a financial services company, it has shown that there are still ways to bring brand personality to life. The company’s 130,000 followers get an exclusive insight into the events that Amex has sponsored and can see user-generated content of experiences that have been made easier by using an American Express card.

 

This is a landmark moment for any businesses that have historically been tentative about the platform. I think Instagram is for everyone, whether it is a beauty brand, a food and drink business or in the built environment sector. We all have stories to tell, and images and videos are just another way to do it.

 

No matter what industry you are in, keeping up-to-date with social media developments is crucial and can open new avenues to market. So, what will your profile say about you?

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: American Express, Business, Instagram, Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Social Media

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Ready, Set, Pokemon Go!



Last week saw another social media trend break the internet, and this time it wasn’t Kim Kardashian. It was in fact the latest mobile gaming app set to take the world by storm – introducing… Pokémon Go! With struggling gaming group Nintendo holding a minority share, its launch is being hailed as the brand’s rebirth and it’s no wonder…

By the end of the game’s first weekend in the US, it had already racked up approximately 7.5 million downloads; only two days later this number had more than doubled to 15 million and this was before it even reached the UK. By Thursday of last week though, it had arrived fascinating even the less gaming savvy among us.

The idea behind the game is simple; catch as many Pokémon as you can using a game based on augmented reality. As a result, the concept has really made augmented reality just that: a reality for everyone, as Marketing Week reported recently.

I think this is the unique selling point of this game; it allows us to blur the lines between the Pokémon world and the world we live in. The Pokémon are hidden in the garden, on the street even in offices around the UK - a rather exciting concept. The aim of the game is obvious – ‘you gotta catch em’ all’.

This game has been so popular in the US that it has now overtaken Twitter as the most used app with users spending an average of 33 minutes a day catching Pokémon. Based on the response so far it is likely to do the same in the UK too, particularly as it launched just in time for the school holidays.

Like all social phenomena that appear quickly on our screens, it comes with an army of sceptics. Concerns have been raised asking whether it will lead children into unknown and unsafe areas or result in mobile phone theft as more people go out hunting for Pokémon. Only this week in Manchester, a 15 year old boy was arrested after stealing the phones of two student out playing the game.

However, it’s safe to say that Pokémon Go has started the largest gaming trend in history, and I for one am pretty impressed with the use of augmented reality, bringing to life a popular 90’s kids TV show that has captured the minds of adults and children alike. What’s more, it adds a real sense of hilarity to what was once a mundane walk home from work.

Tagged with: Augmented reality, gaming, Kim Kardashian, Lifestyle, Manchester, Marketing Week, Nintendo, North West , Pokémon Go!, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Radio campaign, Social Media

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Refresh Academy Launches Following HR Investment



At Refresh PR, people are at the heart of what we do. Having great team members on board means we can continue to provide a fantastic service and achieve the best results for our clients, while building a sustainable future for our business.

We’re delivering a wider range of services than ever before. While PR is our bread and butter, we now often integrate this with digital marketing, social media and creative campaigns to help our clients cut through the noise in their industries and generate tangible results. Since the formation of the business in 2009, we’ve prided ourselves on providing our team members with diverse internal and external training opportunities. However, it’s not until now that we have formalised this process into a complete training package to enable us to attract and retain the best PR professionals, in order to achieve real success for clients and deliver our own ambitious growth plans.

At the beginning of 2016, we appointed Sarah Mashiter as HR Director. With more than 10 years’ experience working across a breadth of senior HR roles in the foodservice and client contacting industry, Sarah was the ideal HR leader to put in place a robust Learning and Development (L&D) framework.

Sarah has since launched The Refresh Academy, a key programme within this L&D framework, to provide learning opportunities at every stage of an employee’s development. The offer complements the wider HR programme and comprises five pillars: Induction, The Refresh Academies, Made to Measure – a menu of different options tailored to development plans – and Talent Development Programmes, all underpinned by mentoring.

The Refresh Academy programmes are based on job profile and split into three distinct levels – the Refresh Executive Academy, the Refresh Management Academy and the Refresh Leadership Academy. From client management to leading people, each academy has content built around the key job skills and competencies for that level, to provide our people with all the skills and tools they need to be highly effective in their role.

Sarah said: "When I joined the business, I immediately saw the strong foundations that had been put in place for training and wanted to use the experience I’ve gained over the years to formalise this into a complete package for our people. The Refresh Academy means that from day one, people are supported to achieve their career aspirations – whether someone is a new starter, well-established in their current job or working towards a promotion. These first class development opportunities will not only ensure we deliver an unbeatable level of service for our clients, but enable our team members to learn, excel in their roles and advance their careers."

Tagged with: HR, Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, REFRESH ACADEMY, training

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We Need Your Help To Find The UK’s best ‘Window With a View’!



Refresh PR is half way through a visual, interactive, online campaign for MyGlazing.com, the new consumer facing website from The Glass and Glazing Federation – and now we need your help!

‘Window with a View’ is a national campaign to find and celebrate the very best the UK has to offer in terms of architecture, design and landscapes. It was created to help boost awareness of the new MyGlazing.com website, as well as encourage people to think about the benefits of modern, energy efficient glazing.

During March and April, people were invited to nominate their favourite ‘Window with a View’ from any building or attraction open to the public. As well as media relations, the team at Refresh took to social media to find suitable images and encourage people to enter. At the end of May, a panel of experts from the construction, architecture, interiors, photography and tourism industries came together to whittle the 150 nominated entries down to four for each region.

Now we need your help to determine which shortlisted entries are the best for each region. Regional voting for ‘Window with a View’ is now open and runs until 29th July. Everyone who votes will be entered into a prize draw to win a GoPro kit, and the regional winners will all be put forward for the title of the UK’s Best Window with a View.

So whether you like the images of city skylines, sea fronts, countryside or mountain ranges, vote now to help us find the ultimate winner!

 

 

Tagged with: Leisure, Lifestyle, Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Window with a View

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Refresh PR drives away with insureTAXI brief



Refresh PR has been appointed by the UK’s largest taxi insurance broker, insureTAXI, to create and implement a PR campaign to boost brand awareness and increase the company’s presence online.

 

We will work closely with insureTAXI, part of The County Group, to generate headline grabbing news stories and creative content, targeted at national and regional news sites. Part of this activity will see research commissioned to investigate the working habits, attitudes and opinions of taxi drivers. Our team will also build relationships with educational institutes and local councils as a further way to raise awareness of the insureTAXI brand, and boost online engagement.

 

We have years of experience delivering effective SEO-boosting PR campaigns for clients, and working with such a reputable company in an industry with such diverse topics is a great opportunity for us to produce some really outstanding online content.

 

More and more businesses are approaching us to help them become more visible online. By understanding the media and not only tapping into but creating the news agenda, thereby getting the client in front of new audiences, creating a buzz and driving traffic to their website.

 

We can’t wait to get started – watch this space!

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

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Refresh PR Bolsters Senior Team With Two New Appointments



Refresh PR has welcomed two new members to our senior management team following a successful start to 2016. Emma McCallum and Sarah Mashiter join as associate director and HR and operations director respectively to support our client base and spearhead our future growth strategy. 

Bringing more than eight years’ experience from her previous role at MC2, Emma has implemented PR and marketing campaigns for some of the UK’s most high profile businesses, including Assura, Business Growth Fund, Secure Trust Bank, HSBC, Ainscough, Crane Hire and Deloitte Real Estate.

Sarah joins the Refresh team with over 10 years’ experience in the client contacting industry working across a breadth of senior HR roles. Having touched upon all aspects of HR strategy, employee relations and learning and development to name but a few, Sarah will be utilising her experience to improve operational processes, implement stronger training programmes and launch the Refresh Academy.

Emma and Sarah join existing senior management team members Laura Mashiter, Gemma Killackey and Claire Gamble. Bolstering our team not only allows us to drive forward with future expansion, but enables us to support team development whilst maintaining the values we’ve worked hard to establish over the last seven years.

Tagged with: Manchester, North West , PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, senior management team

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Refresh PR Builds For The Future With Interior Architecture Firm



Refresh PR has been appointed by leading interior architecture and furniture, fittings and equipment (FFE) consultancy SpaceZero to increase brand awareness as part of the business’ ambitious national and international expansion plans.

With specialist knowledge and experience in the education sector, SpaceZero has delivered more than 200 education projects, along with exciting, effective spaces for clients in the healthcare, commercial and leisure sectors.

Our team has been working with SpaceZero to implement a creative and comprehensive communications strategy, to reinforce and enhance its successes in the education sector and to build the brand in other areas, particularly healthcare. We have also been raising the profile of key spokespeople within the firm, organising speaking opportunities at relevant events, such as May’s Design in Mental Health conference.

SpaceZero has a clear vision of where it wants to go, and we are delighted to be on board and working with such a progressive, forward thinking company.

Tagged with: Construction, Manchester, North West , PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, SpaceZero

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London’s Top Grooming Gents Make The Cut For Arbonne’s Latest Launch



When Arbonne tasked us with launching its new vegan friendly RE9 for Men range, the Refresh PR team took a traditional approach to grooming and devised an English Gentleman’s Day concept.

To coincide with St. Georges Day on 23rd April, we invited journalists to join us at Sharps Barbers in London’s Soho for a choice of treatments.

Journalists from the likes of GQ, Men’s Health, the Daily Mail, Runners World and the Gentleman’s Journal were all in attendance. As part of our event co-ordination, we ensured each journalist had an in-depth consultation and introduced them to Dr. Xavier Goodarzian, an Arbonne Independent Consultant for skincare and cosmetics, who explained the benefits of the new product range.

After an exciting day of 16 haircuts, eight traditional straight razor shaves, five beard trims and more than 50 teas and coffees, the team could finally breathe. The event was a huge success; all journalists were delighted with their treatment, the range received positive feedback and we secured coverage in notable publications, including the Gentleman’s Journal and The Huffington Post.

Following such a positive reaction from the UK’s media, we’re looking forward to running more Arbonne product launch events later this year.


Tagged with: Beauty PR, Gentlemans Day, Lifestyle, Manchester, North West , PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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The inaugural Heating Installer of the Year Awards



The team at Refresh PR prides itself on being able to come up with innovative and creative campaigns that bring a new buzz and fresh talking points into industries that are more traditional in nature.  

 

So last year when our client Continental Underfloor tasked us with developing a campaign that would shine a spotlight on the heating industry’s unrecognised champions, it didn’t take long for us to think up the Heating Installer of the Year Awards. Designed to improve the credibility and reputation of tradespeople, and overturn any negative perceptions of the industry, Heating Installer – or HIOTY as it’s become known in the Refresh office – launched officially in November 2015, inviting installers from across the country to enter and shout about the excellent service they deliver.

 

In the months following, we worked relentlessly as an agency to unearth heating installers from every corner of the UK who go above and beyond for their clients as a given, working to fit energy efficient heating systems that are environmentally friendly and reduce customer bills.

 Refresh PR Award

Our official sponsors – Continental Underfloor, Vaillant, Adey, Graham the Plumbers’ Merchant, Daikin and media partner Installer Magazine – supported us along the way, contacting their databases of customers and encouraging them to enter until March, when our panel of expert judges met to choose eight regional winners.

 

It was at this point we realised how big a deal HIOTY was to those who had entered. When we called the eight regional winners to give them the good news, each was thrilled beyond belief. They began making plans as to how they could share the news in their local communities, and we provided advice on how they could use their social media channels to further boost their profile across their region and encourage voting in the national heat.

 

So for six weeks, our installers (and the Refresh team) hammered Twitter and Facebook, while we liaised with our regional press contacts to get their names in the headlines.

 

At the end of April, the online voting system closed and – while no-one knew who it might be – the national winner had been decided.

 

Months of hard work and anticipation culminated on May 11th, when our regional finalists gathered at industry trade show Installer2016, where they would find out the national winner. Refresh PR had worked with Installer2016 organisers to ensure the stage was set for the big reveal, briefed the installers on what to do should they be announced the winner, and had our fingers poised to post the news on the HIOTY social media channels as soon as Chris Ingram, founder of head sponsor Continental Underfloor, announced the winner in front of the packed crowd.

 

And so it was to be that Dennis Hollingworth of Hollingworth Heating Limited, Stockport, took the national crown – and well deserved it was. Dennis took a large majority of the overall vote, being recognised for his sterling service and ability to install complex solutions that made his customers’ homes warmer and more energy efficient.

 

Not only this, but the hard-working team at Refresh PR has been shortlisted for an award the 2016 CIPR PRide Awards too!

 

 

 

 

  

   

 

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

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Refresh PR cooks up a storm with the Food Porn Awards



Refresh PR is definitely a team of foodies, so you can imagine our excitement when, in 2015, STM Photography tasked us with launching the inaugural Food Porn Awards in the North West.

Over a six-month period, we delivered a successful communications strategy that swept the region and encouraged the North West’s best chefs to enter the 2016 competition. Achieving 47 pieces of media coverage and 4,632 unique visitors to the Food Porn Awards’ website, our work helped generate more than 350 quality business leads for STM Photography, with eight new clients signed up to date. The Food Porn Awards not only celebrates the North West’s thriving food and drink scene, but also showcases the value of professional food and drink photography.

Developing relationships with key food influencers, we devised and implemented a successful PR campaign that generated entries from over 250 bars and restaurants, all aiming to be crowned the region’s best. Our judges, which included All About Food’s Robert Gong and Manchester Evening News journalist Emily Heward, had the tough task of shortlisting the entries across four categories: Alternative Eats, Casual Dining, Fine Dining and Boutique Pubs.

January’s hugely anticipated ‘cook-off’ event at Manchester Metropolitan University saw the finalists given just two hours to complete their cooking session, while the team at STM Photography captured their culinary creations on camera. Our judging panel then selected the winners from a shortlist that included Burger and Lobster, The Botanist and Don Giovanni.

And so, following a hard fought competition, the overall winner was announced at March’s NRB Show at Manchester Central. With an attentive audience watching on, Jeff Green of Earle by Simon Rimmer was awarded the title for having the most visually appealing food, the “ultimate WOW factor”.

Refresh has once again been tasked with leading PR for the 2017 Food Porn Awards. We can’t wait to get our teeth into the project and celebrate more mouth-watering meals from across the North!

 

Tagged with: Food & Drink, Lifestyle, Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, PRide Awards, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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