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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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Have we lost our trust in social media platforms?



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

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


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


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

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


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


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

Tagged with: PR Agency Manchester, Social Media, Twitter

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Wetherspoons, here’s where you went wrong…




I've seen lots of conversation surrounding Wetherspoon’s recent decision to shut down their social media channels. The popular pub has quit Twitter, Instagram and Facebook with immediate effect, and I can understand why. 

Why do people choose to frequent a Wetherspoons? Is it due to their extensive gin selection? Gourmet dining? Air of luxury? No, it’s convenience, cheap beer and even cheaper food, and there is no amount of tweeting that will change this. Wetherspoons serves an economic purpose, providing a basic night out for those on a budget – I seriously doubt anyone ever saw a picture of someone’s menu choice from curry club and put ‘Wetherspoons’ on their to-do list. 

My biggest concern is the reasoning provided for the termination of its social media account - the ‘addictive nature of social media’. I think there would have been less debate on the topic if Wetherspoons admitted they just couldn’t quite get it right. 

But what would I have done differently? Wetherspoons had the perfect platform to have some fun with their social media. It is doubtful that public perception of the chain pub would change if they injected a bit of ‘sass’ into their social. Take Tesco Mobile for example; rather than daily tweets about deals and offers, which seemed to be the crux of Wetherspoons’ social media strategy, Tesco Mobile has a bit of fun. I can’t stress enough that not everything on social media has to be a sales message. 

There’s a wealth of other brands that have adopted a more colloquial tone of voice and Wetherspoons was perfectly positioned to join them. Light hearted fun, self-depreciating humor and relatable content would not have just saved their social media channels but could have propelled the brand. 

Wetherspoons, if you ever see the error of your ways, give us a call!
 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR campaign essential, Social Media, Twitter, Wetherspoons

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Polypipe on Twitter



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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Twitter campaign construction 

 

 

 

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

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Stupidest monkey in the industry



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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Tagged with: Lifestyle, PR, PR campaign essential, Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter

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Social media – the dos and don’ts



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

Sharing is caring

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

Engage

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

Hashtags

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

Tone of voice

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

Images

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

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

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

Tagged with: Facebook, PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign essential, Social Media, Twitter

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User generated content: the end of journalism?



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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Tagged with: Facebook, PR, PR campaign essential, PR event, Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter

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The Monarchy’s changing image



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tagged with: Lifestyle, PR, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Twitter

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Trumping your own social media



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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When personalisation goes wrong...



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Celebrity, Creative Agency, Marketing, PR, PR campaign essential, Social Media, Twitter

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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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Why video is vital for PR professionals



 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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Putting a price on silence



You could be fooled into thinking that money really can buy you anything these days – including silence. Just ask Ryan Giggs, who in 2011 spent £150,000 on a super PR aencies Manchesterinjunction after his affair with “Miss Wales”. Unfortunately for Giggs, Liberal Democrat MP, John Hemming, used his parliamentary privilege to ‘out’ the footballer just a few months after the injunction was granted. Hardly money well spent…

 

More recently, a well-known - but still unnamed - British celebrity was scandalised for their extramarital affair. The individual in question was granted a ‘super-injunction’ for an undisclosed sum after judges decided lifting the ban would have ‘devastating consequences’ for the celebrity’s family. Despite being named in the Scottish press, American press, and on social media, the name has yet to be disclosed in England and Wales.

 

Is it fair that money can buy you silence? Are such rulings impeding freedom of speech, and is judicial secrecy being overused?

 

Admittedly these super-injunctions do often protect innocent bystanders such as family and children. Caught up in a mess created by someone else, innocent parties shouldn’t suffer the consequences of a family member’s poor judgement.

 

Yet with increasing pressure on the law to overturn rulings and rising anger from the media around freedom of speech, speculators have suggested it is only a matter of time before super-injunctions are outlawed.

 

From Jeremy Clarkson to Andrew Marr and the countless others who had enough money to spare themselves embarrassment, there could be many more skeletons in the closet. Watch this space…

  

 

 

 

Tagged with: Facebook, Manchester, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Social Media, Super injunction, Twitter

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Is a picture really worth a thousand words?



The news last week that Twitter is introducing functionality to enable brands to target users by emoji has, according to Campaign, put another nail in the coffin of the written word. Coincidentally, on the same day that this emoji story broke, I attended a creative therapy session that provided interesting insights into the dramatic shift in PR from traditional modes of communication to visual, interactive content; it’s no longer what you tell your audience, but how long you can hold their attention for.

 

This is the smartphone generation after all and we (apparently) have no time to read articles; I’ve got a high score to beat on Angry Birds! Right? As a proud English graduate and believer in the power of language, you may think this prompted some kind of existential crisis for me. In fact, I asked myself, is a picture really worth a thousand words? While it’s true that dwell time has become a viable measure of success for some campaigns, such as Deliveroo’s fun gherkin puzzle, I don’t think we should be mourning the written word quite yet.

 

There are still plenty of occasions where businesses can use words to generate the right results, whether that’s a thought leadership piece to offer expertise and build credibility on a particular topic, or penning an open letter to raise awareness of a social issue or charitable cause. At the same time, campaigns have been known to overstep the mark due to the language they use.

 

Let’s take the EU Referendum campaign and the recent controversy surrounding Nigel Farage and UKIP’s anti-immigration poster as an example. The image shows the suffering of migrants and refugees fleeing violence in their own country, in tandem with the phrase “breaking point” to intentionally stoke fears around immigration. This divisive language is completely at odds with Brendan Cox’s incredibly poignant statement about his late wife, Jo Cox MP. The poster and statement demonstrated in one day how words can either be used to divide or unify.

 

 

In my own life I find words give colour, humour and happiness to the everyday. I’m getting married in September and on our table name stationary we have images that we associate with places that are special to us. Enter stage right, an alpaca from Kent and a lobster from Springfield... Without a short accompanying description on the table stationary, this wouldn’t mean much to anyone other than Tom and I, but words tell stories and invite others into your world in a way that pictures sometimes fail to do alone.

 

I’m of the belief that words are not redundant for brands, campaigns or people, nor do I believe that they are mutually exclusive from images. The acceleration towards video and image-based content is exciting and positive, and can be done without leaving words behind.

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Tagged with: Emoji, Images, Manchester, Marketing, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Twitter, value of words

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An Eggcellent Easter at Refresh PR



There really is no better time to exercise your creative juices than ahead of a long Bank Holiday weekend.

 

So this Easter at Refresh we’ve gone old school; we’ve taken everyone back to their younger years by challenging the team to an eEaster egg Refresh PRgg painting competition.

 

Today the team carried their precious eggs to work, trying to avoid their eggstravagant (sorry!) masterpieces from tipping over. Each was lovingly and proudly displayed in our meeting room – and tweeted out too, of course.

 

We never shy away from a bit of friendly competition at Refresh PR, but this Easter, things got serious. Despite everyone’s effort and hard work, there had to be one winner. The eggs were analysed and the votes were cast, and we can proudly announce that the winner of this year’s Refresh PR eggstravaganza is Fliss, with her eggoji’s (see pic).

 

Tell us what you think @refreshpr and #refresheggstravaganza

 

 

 

Tagged with: decoration, Easter, Leisure, Lifestyle, Manchester, North West , PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Twitter

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A porn-worthy experience



Here at Refresh, we’re huge food and drink lovers so it goes without saying that we’ll be knocking on the doors of the Northern Restaurant and Bar Show tomorrow to see what’s on offer. And it’s even more exciting for us this year, as we’re one of the sponsors of The Food Porn Awards™, along with the lovely lot at Hobs and White Noise.

 

Food Porn Awards I hear you say?! Yes, that’s right. So what does this entail?

 

Well, last year, our talented client STM Photography created The Food Porn Awards™ - with our expert PR help, of course. A search was launched to find THE best food from restaurants, pubs, bars and eateries across our region; and let’s face it, us Northerners know how to eat.

 

In a nutshell, chefs were encouraged to enter images of their most mouth-watering dishes in a quest to be hailed with a coveted award for the most porn-worthy food. A cook-off entailed with 16 super-talented finalists presenting their dishes and having them expertly shot by STM Photography. The finished dishes were presented to an esteemed judging panel made up of food development chef Robert Gong, MMU Professor John Swarbrooke, home economist and food stylist Jo Brewer, food journalist Emily Heward, publisher of Bitten Helen Ramsbottom, Shoot the Moon creative director Oliver Zebedee-Howard. And now the time is here for the winner to be revealed at the Northern Restaurant and Bar Show on 15th March at 3.30pm in the Hub.

 

The NRB is the biggest hospitality exhibition in the north of England and will see over 270 exhibitors and 1000s of visitors over the two days. Jam packed to say the least. We’ll be on hand at STM Photography’s stand (C11) where canvases of the dishes from the Food Porn Awards will be on show, so don’t forget to come and say hi.

 

I encourage anyone who is around to come along to witness the beautifully placed food from fresh out of the sea lobsters and juicy ribs to rich, gooey chocolate cake and exquisite photography of these dishes. You’ll leave hungry for sure!

 

Hopefully see you there… and don’t forget to tweet us (@RefreshPR) - perhaps we could even meet for coffee and cake :o)

 

 

 

Tagged with: Food, food porn, Food Porn Awards, Food PR, North West , Northern Restaurant and Bar Show 2016, NRB2016, PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, restaurant PR, Twitter

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Refresh PR whips up a storm in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support



On Friday 25th September we rolled up our sleeves, dug out our whisks and all got baking in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. Refresh PR Manchester

 

With recipes including raspberry brownies, lemon layered sponge cake and cherry and almond cake, we pulled out all the stops to deliver a variety of sweet treats in order to tempt our neighbours into digging deep for charity.

 

We opened our doors from 11am, welcoming neighbours and passers-by with a chance to indulge on a Friday afternoon. As the day came to a close we also went out and about in the Northern Quarter to sell the remaining cakes, ensuring we collected the most we could for charity.  

 

On the day we managed to tempt our favourite Tariff Street haunts into generously parting with their cash, with Tariff and Dale, The Whiskey Jar and newcomer The Pen and Pencil all making a donation in return for cakes. Neighbours such as My Clever Agency, Paul Danson Imagineering and Spacemen helped us raise a grand total of £70.

 

We want to say a huge thank you to all of our generous neighbours who made a donation to Macmillan Cancer Support – with a special thank you to Tariff and Dale, which kindly let us sell cakes to all of its customers, and the team at Paul Danson Imagineering which generously donated in return for a full tray of our remaining cakes.

 

Refresh PR’s Gemma Killackey commented, “As a team we were delighted to have contributed to Macmillan Cancer Support. This is an extremely worthwhile charity which supports not only cancer suffers, but also their families, helping them cope with the illness. The money raised from our cake sale and the infamous coffee mornings which took place up and down the country will go towards ensuring those facing cancer are not alone – this is something we are proud to have been a part of.”

 

This year alone Macmillan Cancer Support has raised nearly £1,000,000 from coffee mornings across the UK.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: , Charity PR, Leisure, Lifestyle, Manchester, North West , PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Social Media, Twitter

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A lot can ‘appen in a week



Heading into the app store can sometimes seem as overwhelming as checking out the shelves of an overstuffed shop; there’s just so much to look at and such a lot of it seems useful! Following extensive research into the most popular apps around (yes, including Candy Crush and the Kim Kardashian game), team Refresh has compiled the seven most useful apps – one for each day of the week, and of course they accompany old faithfuls such as social media, messaging apps and storage!  

 

Monday

An ultra-busy day at work means nipping out for lunch can be tricky, however, you may well be tempted by a post-weekend treat. Step in Deliveroo, which allows users to order from their favourite restaurant and have their ideal meal delivered straight to their desk. With many of Manchester’s most popular eateries already signed up, this is the perfect app for those who fancy a cheeky burger for their Monday midday meal.

 

Tuesday

Stay fully organised throughout the week using Evernote, a productivity app that makes syncing devices, to-do lists and even documents ultra-simple. Ideal for workers on the go, Evernote acts like a digital personal assistant – think of it as Siri meets Stepford Wives.

 

Wednesday

Ever wondered how much (or how little!) activity you actually undertake in the day? Then you need to download Moves. This app tracks how much physical activity you complete in terms of time, actual steps, distance and calories burnt; ideal for those who are working on their fitness, Moves can even be used to set targets and will reward you with personal bests.

 

Thursday

Late night shopping on Thursday may inspire a cheeky post-work trip to buy a weekend outfit. Ensure you’re getting the best possible price for your splurge by downloading Quick Scan Bar Code Scanner before you shop. Simply open the app and photograph a product’s bar code; the app will then show where the item can be bought and will show you which store is offering the best price, leaving you with more spending money in your pocket.

 

Friday

The best music always seems to play on the office radio on Fridays. While this is no bad thing (who isn’t happy when Crazy In Love plays on Kisstory?), what can be annoying is when an absolute tune plays but the name of the track or artist cannot be remembered. Worry not; simply open Shazam and hold your phone in the direction of the music. Shazam will tell you the artist and song name and can even link up to iTunes so you can buy it.

 

Saturday

Taxi to your favourite haunt on a Saturday with Uber, which can be booked and paid for via your smartphone. This app proves especially useful when heading home with, perhaps, a little less cash to hand then you originally planned at the start of the night. It has rescued us on many occasions.

 

Sunday

Find that those Saturday night selfies don’t look quite as fresh upon review on Sunday? Filter to your heart’s content with FaceTune to make sure none of the weekend’s shots are duds. Providing more editing options than Instagram, FaceTune is an ultra-simple way to improve your pictures. Be warned however, the temptation to stray into Mariah Carey levels of airbrushing can be all too tempting; less is often more.

 

We’d love to know what apps are your essentials throughout the week, be they for selfies, storage, social media or singing  – tweet us @RefreshPR or simply comment below.

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: Best apps, Home Interest, Leisure, Lifestyle, Manchester, North West , PR, PR advice, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Social Media, Twitter

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A Manchester PR agency’s guide to holidaying in 2015



To say that we’re an eclectic bunch at Refresh PR really doesn’t cut it. We often find ourselves disagreeing and agreeing on music choices, liking and disliking celebrities and debating over lunch choices. So after having studied article upon article telling us where the place to be is this year, we decided to conduct our own mini social experiment to create the ULTIMATE PR agency holiday guide; so pull out your swim shorts, slap on some sun tan, because we’re going to… urrr, Manchester (and a few other places):

 

Rome: this was a big hitter with the Refresh PR team this year with two people planning a trip in their calendars. We know what you’re thinking, it’s because of the pizza... and yes, it is largely to do with the pizza, but believe it or not, when we’re not busy working away at Refresh Towers we do like to better ourselves with culture. There’s plenty to see and do in Rome, especially if you’re into history; visit the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain and the Sistine Chapel, and if you like your Italian cuisine, one of our team’s recommendations is the Twilight Trastevere Food Tour. One more thing, if you’ve got a selfie stick be sure to take it ..as apparently you’ll be the odd one out if you don’t!

 

Berlin: another double scorer for the team this year; Berlin has so much to offer in terms of history and it’s also a European epicentre for nightlife. The city is host to a number of famous techno nightclubs. Perhaps you fancy the famous Berghain, which opens on Friday and closes on Monday? If so, you may want to research some tips on how to get past the world’s strictest bouncer, Sven - here’s a bit of help from the Telegraph. By day there’s museum upon museum and from the Reichstag to Checkpoint Charlie, there’s plenty to do - just make sure you don’t fall asleep in one after a night clubbing, like one member of our team... To eat in Berlin try Katz Orange and 3 minutes Sur Mer.

 

Amsterdam: this quiet city situated in the heart of Holland…okay I’ll start again...this city situated in the heart of Holland is absolutely perfect for a weekend break. You can get a pretty cheap deal to Amsterdam, and with a flight time of only 45 minutes it’s quicker to get to than some parts of the UK. While you’re in Amsterdam be sure to rent out a bike and cycle along the canal belt, where you can find a whole world of wonders up the side streets; then make your way to the beautiful Vondelpark for an afternoon picnic. For food, try Bazar, for African and Middle-Eastern food served in the setting of a mural-adorned converted church.

 

Madrid: before you head to Madrid, make sure you swot up on your Spanish as English speaking isn’t as common-place as it is in Spanish holiday resorts - trust us on this one! Do you like football? If you do the Real Madrid stadium tour is only 19 euros, a small price to pay to ditch the other half for a day out shopping! Be prepared for late evenings in Madrid as the normal time for dinner is 10pm but you can always make time for an afternoon siesta to compensate. In the evening head to the trendy area Malasaña, where the restaurants and bars are set between modern street art covered walls and the siesta doesn’t stop until the early hours.

 

Budapest: Corey went to Budapest earlier this year and when we say it’s for the history, we really aren’t joking. A big lover of all things historical, Corey swapped Downton Abbey and Poldark for a weekend of persuing the sites of Budapest. A big recommendation from Corey is the Houses of Parliament, but make sure you go when the assembly isn’t in session for the entire tour and be sure to ask for the Lady Gaga lookalike tour guide. When all the historical stuff makes you thirsty, you need to visit at least a handful of the city’s ruin bars. Built in Budapest’s District VII neigbourhood (the old Jewish quarter), these bars are a popular hot spot for locals and tourists.

 

Manchester: so what happens when your holiday’s been and gone? Rather than getting the holiday blues check out what’s on near you over summer. We’re going to see Noel Gallagher on the 11th July at Castlefield Bowl and are more than excited for The Striker with Maxine Peake as part of the Manchester International Festival.

 

Where will you be going, what will you be doing and what will you be eating? We want to know your suggestions so tweet us @refreshpr.

 

Tagged with: Home Interest, Leisure, Lifestyle, Marketing, North West , PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Product Placement, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Twitter

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Instagram Masterclass Success



Last Thursday Refresh PR teamed up with CIM Manchester and The Talk of Manchester to deliver an event for our client, STM Photography.Refresh PR Manchester

Dubbed ‘The Art of Photography and its role within the Marketing Mix’, over 60 marketers from across the city headed over to STM Photography’s food and drink studio on Naval Street in Ancoats to glean insights from the experts.   

With mouth-watering food being served from the kitchen every five minutes, there were plenty of opportunities for delegates to snap away. Several STM Photography team members were on hand to provide tips and pointers, which meant the standard of photography got better anRefresh PR Manchesterd better throughout the evening culminating in a winner being presented with a prize for their efforts.

As the first CIM Manchester event of 2015, it looks set to be an exciting year for the organisation.

Why not visit Instagram and Twitter and search #STMmasterclass to take a look at just some of the photos from the evening.

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged with: Food & Drink, Manchester, Marketing, North West , PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Social Media, Twitter

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Behind the scenes at Refresh PR



Earlier this week the Refresh PR team played an unusual starring role in front of the camera in the agency’s own photoshoot.  Much in need due to the growing team, we employed the skills of expert lensman Gavin, of Gavin Haworth Photography.

 

We made great use of the amazing locations around our home in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, rather than using Gavin's photo studio, and even discovered a new canal-side eatery along the way. 

 

Take a look at some of the behind-the-scenes footage here.  The photoshopped full set of images will be appearing on a Twitter feed near to you soon.

 

Refresh PR photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Refresh PR photography

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Refresh PR photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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New Beginnings



The rain has held off today and this week continues to be a sunny one, as I have finished my first few days as part of the Refresh PR team.
It is certainly true that Refresh is a ‘refreshing’ PR agency to work with. I have already witnessed a very hardworking and professional, yet personable, team in action and I have been welcomed warmly.

I am certainly looking forward over the next few weeks and months to getting involved at the agency, and working with a fantastic set of clients, being set new challenges and learning PR skills from a new perspective.

I have thoroughly enjoyed working the PR and digital industry over the past two years, and I am keen to further my skills at this flourishing agency at the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

To introduce myself as a new Refresher here’s some facts about me:

- Digital PR geek
It’s perhaps sad, but true, I love the digital side of PR – whether it’s Google Analytics, Social Media or using other tools such as Majestic SEO. I have previously worked with a number of digital clients and I find whole industry extremely fascinating, and I look forward to using my digital skills at Refresh!  

- I love music
From Techno to Beyoncé- I am a big music fan. I can play a number of instruments too. I like to keep up with what’s new in the music industry, but I am not afraid to admit I have some guilty pleasures too (Justin Timberlake!) I try and go to festivals and music gigs throughout the year, and most recently I have attended Manchester’s Parklife festival, seen Prince live at the Phones 4 U arena, and been to The Libertines reunited gig at Hyde Park. 

- I like to explore
Whether it’s a new restaurant, venue or holiday destination – I love to explore and widen my horizons.  I am looking forward to exploring Manchester’s North Quarter where the Refresh office is based and seeing what’s going on around the area.

If you would like to find out more, you can follow me on twitter here: @emilylucy

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

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Are you being served on social media?



New statistics state that a third of us Brits will complain about bad service or our dissatisfaction with a brand via social media. I have to admit that I too have done this (the company I was complaining about shall remain nameless).

Increasingly, businesses have to use social media as a direct customer enquiry line: an enquiry line which is instant and more visible than any phone call or email.

Consumers have to simply take to Twitter or Facebook to vent their frustrations, avoiding the traditional ‘press one for support’ and ‘please hold’ of customer helplines. Using social media puts complaints firmly in the public domain.  

Therefore it’s imperative to get customer service on social media right. Not only can the whole world see a customer complaint or query, they can also see any mistakes in handling the enquiry and can even chip in with their own opinion. BT Sport was inundated with tweets about customers being unable to log in on mobiles and tablets to watch the debut match from the new sports channel. Such was the attention on social media, the complaints even caught the eye of the media. By Sunday morning, news pieces, such as this article from the Sunday Mirror, were commenting on the technical glitch and the football fans’ anger.   

Social media is quick and likewise, so should be the response to any complaint on it. Showing speedy, effective customer service online makes the complainant happy but also serves as a fantastic advert to the professionalism of a business. It also allows brands to take control, halt any escalation of conversations and put things right quickly.

Alongside providing great customer service, there’s another incentive to effectively use social media. Seventy per cent of consumers who have had a complaint dealt with on social media go on to purchase from the brand again, as research announced by Business Reporter shows.

So what’s the easiest way of handling complaints on social media?

Many brands have opted for specific accounts for handling customer enquiries. Sainsbury’s has @sainsburys for recipes, competitions and customer support and @SainsburysPR for company news and releases. Using this practice keeps the excellent news that a brand wants to shout to the world away from customers querying home delivery times or the availability of their favourite ready meal.

If this all sounds rather gloomy, then fear not, social media customer enquiries can be positive. Many consumers will tweet brands to ask about products they love or to simply say how much they enjoyed their experience.

I regularly tweet restaurants and bars if I’ve had a good time there, and it’s really satisfying when I receive a tweet back in thanks, or even in jest (thanks Betty’s in York, Teacup in Manchester and Patisserie Valerie!). Getting live positive feedback from customers is great for staff morale and is fabulous free marketing for a brand.

Social media also offers an insight into the mind of customers, an insight which can be used to plan strategies, competitions, new products and more.

The Drum recently offered some more top tips for using social media as a customer enquiry channel.

One thing everyone agrees on: no brand should ignore social media and the power it has to persuade new or repeat custom. A bad experience or even worse, no experience via social media, could lose a customer for life.

To talk about what your business could gain from social media, why not give Refresh PR a call?

Tagged with: customer service, Facebook, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations North West, Social Media, Twitter

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‘Feed Me Better’ v ‘The School Food Plan’



Whether it’s picturing the face of the notoriously evil dinner lady, recognising the musty smell of cabbage from the school dinner hall or simply remembering being excited when cornflake tart and custard came on the menu, we can all recall something that was great, or not so great, about school dinners.

Despite the school menu evolving in recent years to become much healthier, the negative perception of school meals held by parents appears to have stayed the same. The percentage of children eating within the school canteen has fallen from over 70 per cent in the early 1970s to just 43 per cent today, with some schools “lagging behind, serving food that is much too bland, boring and beige,” according to Dimbleby and Vincent’s School Food Plan.

With good nutrition attributed to better performance in the classroom, it is no surprise that campaigns and initiatives, such as the School Food Plan, have been introduced over recent years. However, up until now, none have been successful – including Jamie Oliver’s 2005 Feed Me Better campaign.

Whilst Oliver’s campaign, backed with heavyweight PR support, led to the formation of the Children’s Food Trust, the introduction of basic nutritional standards to school meals and the widespread ban of junk food within the school environment and the shock tactics he employed as part of his campaign, had adverse effects.

Such was the panicked response of parents to Channel 4’s documentary series Jamie’s School Dinners, which recorded an audience of over five million in February 2005, that the uptake of school meals fell to an all-time low of 37 per cent, much to the dismay of school caterers. 

In contrast, Dimbleby and Vincent have taken a more strategic approach to instrumenting change, as outlined in the rather hefty 149 page document that is the School Food Plan.

With the support of the Secretary of State for Education already secured, Dimbleby and Vincent’s challenge is somewhat easier. The government has already agreed to provide funding for specialist organisations to go into 5,000 schools that are struggling with their lunch service and Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has also agreed to create flagship ‘food boroughs’ in the capital.

In addition, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced yesterday that five to seven year olds in England will receive free school meals from September 2014, a move that has been welcomed by schools and parents alike.

However this doesn’t quite meet Dimbelby and Vincent’s original recommendation, as it will not apply to those pupils aged over seven. Acknowledging this recommendation, Nick Clegg stated:

"My ambition is that every primary school pupil should be able to sit down to a hot, healthy lunch with their classmates every day.

"We will start with infant school pupils because teaching healthy habits young, and boosting attainment early, will bring the biggest benefits.”

In order to avoid us having to address the same problem again in another ten years’ time, Dimbleby and Vincent’s solution is to educate today’s children with the skills they need to feed themselves – and, in time, their own families.

When asked to give his opinion on the School Food Plan, Jamie Oliver too felt that educating children would go a long way to improving school food:

“Getting cooking on the curriculum until the age of 14 and encouraging kids to eat school food are big steps, and we really need to get behind school cooks and head teachers to improve school food. I know how much energy and passion has gone into this plan. Now it has to deliver on its promises and make sure no schools are left behind – and that responsibility sits with this Government.”

 

Whilst Dimbleby and Vincent’s School Food Plan appears to have all the answers, my concern is that they will fail to get the support of parents, which they will come to rely on if the Government fails to meet its promise of providing free school meals.

 

Today, social media is one of the most powerful campaign tools available, and it must be utilised by campaigns such as the School Food Plan. Imagine if Jamie’s School Dinners was broadcast on our televisions today. Hashtags such as #JamiesSchoolDinners would be trending on Twitter, angry parents would be tweeting their child’s school and Facebook would be awash with statuses appalled at the contents of a Turkey Twizzler.

 

In August the School Food Plan had just 1,692 followers on Twitter, demonstrating its inability to really engage with the public. Despite yesterday’s free school meals announcement, the account has gained just 229 followers, which is disappointing considering that Twitter has been awash positive comments about the School Food Plan in the past 24 hours.

 

Whilst it is great to see the industry responding and engaging with the issue on social media, those behind the School Food Plan need to identify this as a creative opportunity to build momentum around the campaign.

Tagged with: , Channel 4, Dimbleby and Vincent, Feed Me Better, Food & Drink, Jamie Oliver, Lifestyle, Manchester, Nick Clegg, PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, School Caterers, School Dinners, School Food Plan, Twitter

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Social media in the spotlight - and top tips from Refresh PR



It’s a big week for social media.  Just two days ago Twitter’s Tony Wang was forced to issue an apology over vile tweets sent by its users, and tonight Channel 4’s Dispatches ‘Celebs, Brands and Fake Fans’ will add even more fuel to the fire. 

 

The Dispatches team describes tonight’s hour long programme as an undercover investigation into the real vs the not-so-real ‘in the brave new online world’.  It will go on to expose ‘new tricks used by marketeers’ to promote brands, such as the purchase of likes, follows, connections and views in order to boost awareness.

 

While buying likes isn’t a new concept to anyone close to the industry, most PRs will have a strong opinion on the issue.  What’s unclear is why this should be given air time now, when this strategy has been used by some in the marketing world for years?  Perhaps due to articles rumbling in the Indian press recently? But on the other hand, if highlighting it can enable more brand managers, MDs and marketing directors (hopefully) to get to grips with what’s really important about social media, let’s bring it to the table.

 

Social media isn’t going to go away, after all, to a whole generation this is the norm.  It will only evolve and change, faster than communication channels have ever changed before.  So to brand owners, the issue is now about how (not if) a brand chooses to use social media, and the true value it brings as a result.

 

Social media as a PR tool

 

As a PR consultant, I’m firmly (and naturally) in the camp which says that social media sits under the PR umbrella, not with the marketing/advertising/sales function.  It’s not about buying ‘likes’ or a hard sell – it never has been.   

 

Rather, social media is another tool in our kit which helps brands to engage with customers.  It works as part of a PR campaign and can help to boost awareness, reinforce (or change) perception and get closer to customers.  It also provides real value, delivering instant insight that’s never previously been available in this format, on a channel that’s more open and honest than ever before.

 

So, social media is about engagement.  Simple.  It is about creating a brand personality through the production of relevant content that the target audience wants to follow, then using it in a way which involves the audience in order to gain credibility and grow.  It’s also a key tool for customer service.  It’s why well-trained, hard-working social media community managers are employed to watch, manage, update and react.   The more a brand engages with its audience, the more responsive the audience will be.  Trust is earned, personality communicated, and ultimately brand loyalty sought.  Sophie Barton, PR and social media manager for Ann Summers, writes all about building a relationship and creating engagement within the social community in today’s The Drum – it’s worth a read.

 

Regardless of the reasons for setting up a social media account, long gone (and short lived at that) are the days when brands crudely determined the success of a campaign solely on the number of ‘likes’ or ‘views’ gained.  Our clients certainly work with us to set out a strategy for engagement, determine how the success of it will be measured, and then we get on with it.  And getting on with it often means a lot of hard work; fans and followers worth having don’t appear over night, they have to be attracted to a brand on social media to deem it worthy of a ‘like’ or ‘follow’. 

 

And quite right too. 

 

So, while to many of us in the industry this is certainly not a ‘new world’ as Dispatches claims, it will be interesting to see how the British public receives the programme.  I’ll await the Sky News press preview at 11.30pm – after I’ve already read 2.5 hours’ worth of Tweets and Facebook posts full of opinion and comment on the programme.

 

Try the below tips to help your brand really engage credibly with your audience

 

1.      Choose the right channel for your brand.  It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach – different channels can help to achieve different results

2.      Know your target audience – and know why

a.      Know why you are targeting these people.  Why is social media a better way to reach the audience than another communication channel such as magazines, newspapers or radio?  Make sure you are using social media for the right reasons

b.      Analyse who you want to target – then ensure the community manager (and anyone else with access to the account) has this in mind ahead of every update post

c.      Review your audience regularly – who is following, has it changed, does it consist of more or less of your target audience than before?

d.      Apply common sense – if your target is a new mum, posts during a baby’s mid-morning kip would be better than posts at meal times.  If your target is a teenager, posts before or after-school will gain more engagement

3.      Think about what you want your audience to do when they read a post:

a.      Talk back to you?

b.      Go to your website?

c.      Walk to a shop and purchase a product in-store?

d.      Simply know you’re there to listen if required?

e.      Share your news?

f.       Think more positively about your brand?

All of the above influence what you will post, how you post it and how you measure the response.

4.      Keep it simple.  Use clear messaging and easy-to-read updates

5.      Offer something – and this doesn’t need to be a prize.  It could be knowledge or breaking news

6.      Don’t post too frequently – consider what’s acceptable to your audience and respect that

 

For more information about social media and using it as part of a PR strategy, contact Refresh PR on 0161 871 1188, or even better, talk to us @RefreshPR.  For more measurement information visit Social Media Examiner.

 

Tagged with: Channel 4, Dispatches, Facebook, Manchester, North West , opinion, PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, PR North West, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Social Media, Social Media Manchester, Twitter

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IS WI-FI ON THE MENU?



“How will you cope?”

That was the main question I was asked when I announced to the rest of the Refresh PR team that I wouldn’t be taking my mobile phone on holiday. In fact, that was the question most of my friends asked me too.

Despite the fact that I am always found within millimetres of my iPhone when I’m at home, for the past five years I have left my phone turned off and in the UK when travelling abroad.

I do this for a number of reasons:

1.       Surprisingly, it is nice to have a break from: texting, whatsapping, imessaging, tweeting, facebooking and instagramming – after all I do this all day every day, so why would I want to do it on holiday?

2.       I find that I actually enjoy myself more by not having my phone glued to my hand and I’m not worried about losing it, damaging it or having it stolen

3.       As an aside, I think  people will like me more for it, as it saves me from boring my contacts to death with holiday photos and updates

4.       Crucially, it means that I don’t run up extremely high phone bills and roaming charges too

However, this year for the first time, I realised how much we really have come to depend on the smartphone.

To begin, it didn’t occur to me to take a watch on holiday in order to be able to tell the time as I always rely on my laptop or mobile to do that for me. As a result, I spent most of the week living life in the dark ages, trying to use the position of the sun as some kind of guide.

I also realised how much I rely on social media and apps to provide me with the latest news. It wasn’t until Monday lunchtime that I found out that Andy Murray had become the first British man to win Wimbledon in over 77 years. How did I find out? By reading the front page of The Sun of course!

Now, as you can imagine the friends that I went on holiday with most definitely did not leave their phones at home and were glued to them throughout the week. Rachel phoned home on a number of occasions in order to speak to her dog! Meanwhile Natalie and Nikki were busy uploading photos to Facebook and Twitter.

In fact, such was their need to go on Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp, we could only eat at restaurants that had free Wi-Fi! Their desperate need to connect to the internet meant that they asked for the Wi-Fi code before even looking at the menu.

All I can say is that I am quite relieved that Kate Middleton didn’t go into labour during the past seven days, as I would have been a bit disappointed if I had missed that.

Tagged with: Andy Murray, Facebook, Holiday, Instagram, iPhone, Kate Middleton, Leisure, Manchester, PR, PR Agency Manchester, Public Relations, Refresh PR, Smartphone, Social Media, The Sun, Twitter, Whatsapp, Wimbledon

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Refresh PR runs Twitter Q&A with client Polypipe Home Solutions



Have you a burning question about heating your home? Are you fighting for furniture space with your radiators? Or are your curtains staying cosy while they cover an under-window radiator, while you’re still snuggling into a onesie on the sofa whilst relaxing in the evening?

 

Perhaps you’ve recently received a quote from a plumber and you’d like a second opinion?

 

Or, do you read OK! magazine every week and secretly yearn for a celebrity style home, complete with underfloor heating to pad around, but think this is impossible without an enormous celebrity salary (we’re looking at you Kylie, with your £2m cheque for a 60 minute gig at a hotel launch)?

 

Well here’s your chance to get these questions and more answered when Refresh PR assists client Polypipe Home Solutions with its first live Twitter Q&A session on the 28th June.

 

Having launched @PolypipeHome for Polypipe Home Solutions, Refresh PR’s tracking tools noticed an increasing number of homeowner and self-builder conversations on such subjects. Running a Q&A session directly from those in the know is just one way that the brand will be interacting with its customers over the coming few months.

 

So homeowners, get tweeting!

 

Tagged with: , Polypipe Home Solutions, PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Q&A session, Social Media, Twitter, Twitter Q&A

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Tweets turn up the heat on mainstream media



For as long as I’ve been on Twitter (and it’s been a while), I have wanted to write a blog about the site’s hypnotic pull on people’s curiosity.

The foundation of its success stems from the short, sharp bites of news that are easily consumed (or disregarded) by followers. Although very frustrating at times, the 140 character curse, as some people refer to it, is in fact a blessing in disguise.

What Twitter seems to have grasped that Facebook hasn’t, is if you give someone a limited amount of space, they’ll get straight to the point. Granted, it won’t always be thrilling, and you may have to sift through posts about your friend’s lunch choices, but in general the premise does work. The ‘what I’m doing now’ notion seems to have lost its way on Facebook recently. In my opinion, the share button has become an invitation to pollute newsfeeds with endless amounts of friendship quotes and animal abuse awareness – neither of which I enjoy over lunch to be honest. I’m pretty sure Facebook wanted it to mimic the RT function that Twitter has successfully established, but it’s fast becoming an annoying burden to a lot of users.

Facebook’s spiral from ‘social’ to ‘spam’ has left the door open for Twitter to capitalise on the hordes of news hungry folk searching for the latest on current affairs, celebrity gossip and global trends.

If you’re a regular user of Twitter you’ll know the fastest way to access any breaking news is to check your newsfeed – not a credible, mainstream news website. The reason for this? There are many factors, not least the journalists’ ability to tweet live from ‘the scene’ and on the go. There’s no waiting around for the online team to upload it to the web, and it’s a great tool for brand awareness of course.

If you were critical, you’d think the bigwigs at the mainstream news channels would be twitchy about reporters and journos speaking directly to the public without edits, but in fact it’s a sure-fire way of gaining exclusivity and staying ahead of the competition. Not only that, working in the industry myself, it seems the mechanic of Twitter has restored the old school investigative journalistic values that have been lost in recent years due to budget restrictions.

A great example of this is Manchester’s local newspaper, the Manchester Evening News. Always a credible source for breaking news, the M.E.N was quick to spring into action when the city centre was rocked by a bomb scare in February this year. As Refresh PR is based in Piccadilly Gardens (one street away from the suspicious package), it was vital that we kept up-to-date with the changing developments. The paper’s journalists, who were at the scene, fast became the number one source for local businesses, residents and the wider media. Our decision to evacuate the building came directly from the advice of one particular M.E.N journalist on Twitter – powerful stuff, eh?

Whether you buy into the hype or not, one thing is for sure - Twitter is gaining pace and seems to be ahead of Facebook in predicting what its audience wants next. It should be an interesting year ahead for the social site, as Facebook announces plans to integrate the hashtag into its user interface. Only time will tell how that’ll work out, but no one likes a copycat, Zuckerberg!  

Want to hear more of my musings? Follow me @GemmaC_PR.

 

Tagged with: , Facebook, Manchester, North West , PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Social Media, Twitter

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Refresh PR launches video as part of campaign for client OTONE Audio



Our client, speakers brand OTONE AUDIO, has been exhibiting at the Gadget Show Live 2013 this week. We have worked with them to create a cheeky film asking the show’s gadget loving crowd how it likes to relax and let loose... We got some pretty funny responses! Check out the video here:

Tagged with: , Birmingham, Facebook, Home Interest, Leisure, Manchester, NEC. Gadget Show Live, Otone Audio, PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Retail, Social Media, Twitter, YouYube

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Go go Gadget Show Live 2013



Apologies for the bad Inspector Gadget pun.

Here at Refresh we are looking forward to our trip to the Gadget Show Live 2013 next week, taking place at Birmingham’s NEC.

We’ll be heading down to the show with our client Otone who’ll be launching its new, powerful soundbar and two spaceship-style speaker docks (come and check them out, and you’ll know what we mean!).

As well as the cool new products, Otone will be showing off its full range of existing speakers to technology enthusiasts, professionals and journalists at the show.

One guest we’re especially excited to meet is Youtube sensation and gadget enthusiast Mr Thai Box, who’ll be popping along to check out Otone’s new products so he can feature them in his video blog.

Be aware, our film crew will be working their way around the NEC looking for volunteers for a video project (don’t worry we won’t be asking you to sing. We’re not searching for the next Rebecca Black. One is enough!).

Also the Otone ‘big o’ (cheeky) will be at the stand with our promo girls. Guests who pose with the O are automatically entered into our exclusive Otone competitions for free products and more!

And of course we’ll be keeping an eye out for celebrity guests. Along with The Gadget Show’s presenters (see picture of Jason Bradbury on stand), last year’s special surprise guest was 50 Cent (someone we’d definitely let take us to the candy shop).

There’ll be updates, sneak peeks and competition winner announcements from Otone throughout the event so pay attention to their Twitter and Facebook pages.

The Gadget Show Live starts on the 2nd April. If you’re going make sure to say hi, we’ve giveaways and freebies on offer all week.

Check out Otone's site for more information on their products and The Gadget Show Live:  www.otoneaudio.co.uk

Tagged with: Birmingham NEC, Facebook, Jason Bradbury, Lifestyle, North West , PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Social Media, The Gadget Show, Twitter

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Leave Pippa Middleton alone- she's perfect for Waitrose



Waitrose has faced a lot of criticism in the last few weeks in its decision to replace the ‘godmother’ of British cookery, Delia Smith, with Pippa Middleton. Food writers and journalists are up in arms that the legendary chef (who taught millions how to beat eggs ) is to be replaced with the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister.

But it seems to me that Pippa is the perfect fit for Waitrose; she’s pretty, posh and thanks to her sister, practically a princess. Isn’t that Waitrose’s dream customer?

And she has a vested interested in cooking and entertaining – she publishes her own online party magazine and debuted her guide to entertaining before Christmas 2012.

True, the book was badly received; the tips were mocked for being too obvious and launched a parody Twitter account called ‘Pippa’s Tips’ which posts such advice as “If your guests are thirsty – give them a drink” and “As it’s Christmas, why not serve turkey?”.

Although it’s easy to mock Pippa’s writing, as a brand she is in step with Waitrose. Many a young Waitrose customer no doubt dreams of having Pippa’s glamorous life, glossy hair and perfect derriere. It makes absolute sense for her to be a part of what is perceived as a ‘posh’ supermarket.

I’d like to wish Pippa good luck with her column - apparently the first one is an Asian themed supper for friends (my friends aren’t especially fond of Thai curries etc though, so I’ll be giving that one a miss. Sorry Pips).

And Delia has no need to worry about losing her crown. She’ll always be Queen of the Kitchen so long as my mum keeps making her fruit cake and sticky toffee pudding.

Tagged with: Delia Smith, Duchess of Cambridge, Food & Drink, Kate Middleton, Party Pieces, Pippa Middleton, Pippa's Tips, PR Agency Manchester, Public Relations North West, Twitter, Waitrose

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Facebook starts work on using Twitter style hashtags



Until now, the hashtag has mostly been the preserve of Twitter, however a report in the Wall Street Journal says Facebook is working on adding hashtag use to the site. Posts by users would be grouped by hashtag into personalised newspapers.

 

For example, if tonight we’re all talking about the Rovers Return burning down (will Sunita burn!?), then Facebook would create a special update listing everyone’s posts together.

 

However, it wouldn’t be just your friends who’d see your posts. In a drive to make Facebook more and more public, the entire network of users would appear on a hashtag post unless you changed your privacy settings.

 

It began its move towards more public facing content when it added the subscribe option to each member’s page. This option allowed people to follow selected posts without being friends with them. Celebrities including Victoria Beckham and Jessica Alba were quick to pick up on this feature.

 

Facebook and Twitter are already fierce rivals, and Facebook hopes to increase its lead by adding this element to the site, although it will be quite a while until this feature is added.

 

Personally, I’m not thrilled by the idea – isn’t Facebook about sharing things with family and friends?

 

In other hashtag news, Will.I.Am has released his latest single, a duet with Justin Bieber called #thatpower. Our opinion: #epicfail

Tagged with: Coronation Street, Facebook, hashtags, Jessica Alba, Justin Bieber, Manchester, North West , PR Agency Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Social Media, Twitter, Victoria Beckham, Will.I.Am

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Promoting a hashtag increases tweets about a TV show by a massive 63%



A new study by Brandmatch has looked at the characteristics of a sample of Twitter users. The study reveals that while women tweet more, men are more likely to have a moan and complain via the social networking site.

Interestingly, the report also finds that TV shows promoting a hashtag at the beginning of transmission saw massive increases in the number of Twitter users commenting and talking about the show.

 

For example, when X Factor used the hashtag ‘#xfactor’, it got 63% more tweets than shows that didn’t use a hashtag.

 

That’s a huge increase in online traffic; and if all these people are talking about your show or product (hashtags also feature in adverts) online, you could also consider how many people will turn over to watch or research what’s creating the Twitter frenzy.

 

It’s like an enormous living room of people discussing their viewing habits together.

 

The survey also found that viewers of Downton Abbey tweeted throughout the show whereas Homeland viewers only tweeted before the show started or after it had concluded.

 

This seems perfectly plausible to me. Poor Downton Abbey viewers have to go for the hardship of beloved characters dying unexpectedly every week (i.e. cousin Matthew and Lady Sybil). Of course they’re going to tweet ‘OMG’ mid episode.

 

#Jointheconversation with @RefreshPR on Twitter. We'd love to hear your thoughts.

 

Tagged with: Brandmatch, Downton Abbey, Lifestyle, PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, report, Social Media, Twitter, X Factor

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Instagram's New Work-Around Makes It More Twitter-Friendly



Remember when Instagram used to let its users easily find their Twitter friends and mention their handles in their photos?

 

That was until Twitter began cracking down on which third-party apps and clients it would allow to use its application programming interface (API). Of course it wasn’t long before photo-sharing giant Instagram, owned by Facebook (Twitter’s social media rival) was left out in the cold.

 

These changes meant that new Instagram users could no longer add all their Twitter followers with one button. It also made sharing a photo to Twitter and "@mentioning" someone whose Twitter username was different from their Instagram username cumbersome.

 

However on October 19, Instagram announced that it had made changes that ‘will make sharing to Twitter more seamless’ on its blog.

 

But how will this work? Well:

If the @mentioned user has connected Instagram to Twitter:

 

  • The user’s Instagram username will appear in the photo caption.
  • The user’s Twitter username will appear in the tweet.

If the @mentioned user has not connected Instagram to Twitter:

 

  • The user’s Instagram username will appear in the photo caption.
  • The @ sign will be removed from the username when shared to Twitter.

What does this mean for those of us who work in PR? Well, for one, it shows that Instagram isn't content being an insular, photo-network smartphone app—it wants its users to integrate with Twitter as much as possible. This is also good news for brands and users that want to spread their Instagram photos far and wide.

Moving forward, it's safe to assume that Facebook's integration with Instagram will be more seamless, considering Facebook is its owner.

 

However, there will probably be a few more scuffles between Instagram and Twitter, as the photo network tries to further tap into Twitter's user-base.

 

 

Tagged with: , API, Facebook, Instagram, PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Refresh PR, Social Media, Twitter

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Dallas - The nation's new favourite?



It’s time to dust off the stetsons and trumpets! It’s over 30 years since Dallas first appeared on our TV screens and more than 20 since we last saw a TV episode, but it’s got the nation – almost three million of us that is (including our office) - hooked after just one week.

 

And it’s not just women tuning in to get a glimpse of Patrick Duffy (he’s 63 years young!) and Jesse Metcalfe. Since the first episode in the new series hit our screens via Channel 5 Refresh PR has been out and about networking and – unexpectedly – we’ve spoken to so many men who are proud to admit they tuned in…and loved it! And they said they would be glued to their sets tonight at 9pm when we will see the conniving JR in fine form taking on his brother in the battle for Southfork – just like the old days.

 

So, just what makes this soap so damn popular?

 

Dallas represents ‘youth’ for a generation of 30 and 40-something’s, where we somehow managed to illegally tune in without our parents finding out (remember, we didn’t have computers, let alone On Demand. We had four TV channels. But we still succeeded…). For the silver surfer generation, could it be that it simply takes them back with a bucket full of nostalgia to the glorious 80s? Dallas was absolutely crackers and unrealistic in many ways – and far away from our lives - but unmissable at the same time.

 

Casting Jesse Metcalfe as Bobby’s son Christopher attracts a slightly younger audience too. And it seems that the producers are keen to borrow fans from Desperate Housewives to assist the ratings, as that makes at least three actors who cross both programmes, including John Ross Jnr (Josh Henderson aka Edie’s teenage nephew) and Ann Ewing (Brenda Strong aka Mary Alice, the ‘wives narrator) – a good move we think.

 

 

So will this get families tuning in together? It’s a chance for husbands and wives to have an hour together to reminisce about their youth – at a time before they had even met maybe? It certainly set twitter alight with comments and we’ll be watching closely this week at the sentiment online.

 

So, could this be the kick we all need after an amazing summer of sport? Let’s face it, the Strictly line up is looking good, X Factor’s nearing Boot Camp, but can anything beat Dallas? Let’s hope the series has as strong storyline with as many twists and turns as its 80s counterpart. And please don’t invite me to any networking events post-8pm on Wednesdays. I need an hour to get home, get settled and get a brew. It could get awkward.

 

A Dynasty come-back anyone?

 

 

Tagged with: Home Interest, PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Silver Surfers, Twitter

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Horns at the ready, fingers steady – it’s the end of an era as legend Chris Moyles exits Radio One



Chris Moyles: Officially my saviour!

 

Its 2004, I’ve been in my first ‘real’ job for four years and struggling to get out of bed in the mornings.  Then Chris Moyles arrives on my airwaves.

 

I do remember breakfasts with Zoe Ball and Sara Cox…vaguely.  I will remember The Chris Moyles Show forever. 

 

I like Chris Moyles because he has an opinion about everything, and everyone has an opinion about him.  Whether good or bad, he polarises the nation.  I like that.  He’s not afraid to say what he thinks, even if it’s not the popular opinion of the day.  When Refresh PR was established we said we’d stay true to our roots, commit to clients long-term and also be honest with our clients – whether this was the popular thing to do or not.  These values are important to us all, and perhaps that’s why I enjoy the breakfast show so much.  He is definitely honest, northern and frankly, I find him funny. 

 

I’m not a mornings person, I never will be.  But waking up from a deep sleep to hear Moyles ranting about a lack of pay (I remember cringing at that one), how he needs to go back to bed, his traumas with his trainer at the gym or the footie result the night before really does help me crawl out of my pit.  He gets excited when he meets celebs – he’s just like the rest of us!  And he dares to see how far he can push them.

 

But it’s how he’s evolved the show over the past eight+ years that’s amazing.  Eight years in the same job is impressive, particularly in the job he’s in.  Truth be told, The Chris Moyles Show has seen me through four jobs, and while they have all shaped my career massively, that’s four jobs that I’ve had while he’s got up week in, week out pre-6am to deliver my morning entertainment.

 

When he’s off on holiday I find myself resenting his need for a break while watching BBC Breakfast then listening to the iPod on the way to work.  So this Sunday night will mark a milestone in my life as I move my tuning dial on the radio over to Mike and Chelsea on Manchester’s Key 103, which could be a big benefactor of the BBC’s decision to get rid of Moyles here in Manchester.  After all, where are eight million listeners who love the chat show-style broadcast meant to move their allegiance to?  Chris Evans?!?  Or will they stick with Nick Grimshaw, who’s been given the remit of attracting a younger audience to the show (aka the online generation with playlists on Spotify and iTunes that they particularly like to listen to…?).  Ideas below please, what will you be listening to?

 

No more McFly Day, no more parodies, no more cheesy songs, no more Monday Night Pub Quiz, no more golden hour and I’m not sure Christmas 2012 will be the same without the annual fix of Dominic the Donkey. Perhaps the only good things is that I may be able to judge the time of the morning from on-time news bulletins from now on – and maybe make my early train.

 

If I had to pick one moment, my outstanding memory is the radio marathon show for Comic Relief.  An absolute epic, raising well over £2m for charity and producing some must see red button TV.   I’m sure that even after 52 hours he didn’t want to get off air.  And that’s what will make Friday’s show tough.  Fearne Cotton will have the onerous task of shutting him off our airwaves indefinitely.  Good, some may say.  For me, I need him (in fact the TEAM) back on air.  I’m following on twitter @chrismoylesshow (he cleverly kept his own feed when the BBC started to push @BBCR1), liking on Facebook, and I’m waiting with baited breath for some announcement…

 

I’m sure he’ll be great in Jesus Christ Superstar, but Chris & Co need to get back to doing what they are brilliant at: entertaining a waking nation.  Whatever station, I don’t care.  Please!!  

 

Tagged with: Celebrity, Comic Relief, Facebook, Manchester, PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Radio campaign, Twitter

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Jimmy's Tax Carr Crash



Nearly two weeks ago, I was on holiday somewhere hot and sunny, with no access to the internet or communication to the outside world, bliss. When I got back, I was informed that it wasn’t just England’s typical rainy ‘summer’ weather that I had missed out on; there had been a media storm generated by the unlikely suspect - Jimmy Carr.

Carr had been sheltering his £3.3 million fortune in a Jersey based tax avoidance scheme. Tut tut Jimmy. Despite being completely legal, it has caused a huge uproar in the press and instigated comments from the Prime Minister who declared Carr’s actions as “morally wrong”.

The controversy that has risen out of the matter and the political issues regarding tax evasion that have ensued are only one side of the coin, however. Carr did not respond to the matter in the traditional way of via press release, through his spokesperson or any of his ‘people’. He did it directly, through Twitter, and has therefore somewhat altered the purpose of the social media giant.

Last week, through Twitter, Carr issued an apology and stated that it was ‘obviously a serious matter’ and that he was ‘no longer involved in it and will in the future conduct my financial affairs much more responsibly’. These words would have popped up not only on the homepage of his 2 million plus followers, but the no doubt millions of other ‘Tweeters’ who would have been carefully watching his page for his response to the whole fiasco.

Is a public apology via social media more effective than via a press release? Well, in my opinion, it somewhat downplays the severity of the matter; it’s a much more informal setting and what he wanted to say was able to go directly to the audience without having to go through the press. So, yes, in this case, I think it has been.

Since its launch, Twitter has been an important tool in putting the everyday person and celebrities on a level playing field and easing communication between the two parties. For the most part it has enabled fame hungry celebs such as Lady Gaga to tweet half naked pictures of themselves every other day, but as shown by Carr, social media has a lot more potential than this. I wonder what else it will hold for us in the future…

Tagged with: Twitter