Archive for 2008


Rewired Reindeers

8 years ago
by Ruth Pipkin

Tara's reindeer

Tara’s reindeer, complete with leg-warmers

We’ve received some great pics of the make-your-own Rewired Reindeers that we sent out for Christmas – so thought we would share a couple of our favourites with you… Here is James at Supercool’s sterling effort, and this one is from Aaron at Bastion:

Hopefully they’ve helped to spread some festive cheer – have a great Christmas everyone!

 


Get creative this Christmas

8 years ago
by Ruth Pipkin

I know my family are not alone in our decision to spend less money this Christmas. But curbing the extravagant present buying hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm to celebrate in style. If anything, I’ve enjoyed taking a more creative approach to finding those gifts that will really make an impression when the wrapping paper comes off.

Shrinking budgets are par for the course in an economic downturn, and the marketing and PR industries will feel the pinch along with every other sector. Effective campaigns will always deliver significant return on investment, but in the current climate, every pound spent will need to work harder than ever before.

We are living in revolutionary times. Recent news that two of America’s most influential newspapers have filed for bankruptcy serves as a bleak reminder that traditional media institutions across the globe are facing tough challenges, with many working hard to embrace the brave new media world.

However, as I look forward to a creative Christmas, I feel certain that the necessity to generate even bigger results, combined with the growing number of innovative channels through which to communicate, will fuel even greater creative work in 2009.

This is the first recession to hit since internet culture has entered the mainstream, and this rapidly changing environment, coupled with the continued growth and development in online media, has resulted in greater opportunities than ever before for companies to interact with their audiences.

Just look at the impact and popularity of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, which have provided individuals and organisations with powerful new tools to connect with huge numbers of people at little or no cost. The familiar era of passive consumption is over, and companies now have to open up to the challenges and opportunities of engaging with active and vocal audiences.

Attracting and retaining customers, and maintaining a meaningful dialogue with them, will be more important than ever in 2009.  There is no doubt that these are challenging times, but with that comes a real opportunity for the most creative and forward looking companies to come into their own.

So get creative this Christmas, and here’s to a successful 2009!


The Writing’s On The Wall

8 years ago
by Ruth Pipkin

Handwiring

Photo by banlon1964

It’s that time of year when I dig out the gold and silver glitter pens and get ready to spread some Christmas cheer to friends, clients and colleagues. It might seem a bit old school these days, but I still love to send and receive cards.

The problem is that I seem to have lost the ability to hand write anything these days. It’s a wonder that I can still sign my name, but thankfully that requirement is rapidly going out of fashion.

I have fond memories of handwriting classes, and the hours we would spend meticulously forming the alphabet with our Berol italic pens. But there are increasing reports of children struggling with handwriting as new technology impacts on their ability, and the necessity, to communicate through the written word.

What does this matter? I hardly ever need to write these days. Surely this is just a sign of the times, and in the years ahead handwriting will become obsolete through a process of evolution?

I’m not so sure. There is a school of thought that suggests poor handwriting can impact on a child’s ability to express themselves, which is worrying considering that a growing number of children are apparently failing to meet the required standards for writing in their national tests.

Handwriting is one of those unique traits that marks us all out as individuals. It often reflects aspects of our personality and can even be used to assist with medical diagnosis. Giving up that identity in favour of speed and efficiency seems a sad loss.

One thing I do know, however much email and text messaging has transformed communication for the better, receiving a letter or card in the post will always create an impact with me, even if the scrawl isn’t much to write home about.


High Street Gloom… but Digital Boom

8 years ago
by Ruth Pipkin


Photograph by Cristiano Betta http://www.flickr.com/photos/cristiano_betta/

High Street Gloom… but Digital Boom

A subject that I am beginning to get a little bit tired of, but still remains so relevant, is the current financial crisis. If you listen to all media reports, Armageddon is pretty much imminent. Don’t get me wrong, I do understand the implications of the ‘credit crunch’ I’d just enjoy my Cornflakes a lot more without GMTV’s ‘Money Saving Expert’ Martin Lewis shouting at me about ISA’s and credit cards.

With Christmas just around the corner, the media is flooded with tales of low consumer spending as a result of the economic downturn, but having braved Oxford Street on Saturday, I think differently!

Despite the quite prominent gloom on the high street, with everyone’s favourite Woolie’s going into administration this week, the ‘crunch’ is having a positive effect online…

An article in Sunday’s Observer (30 Nov 08) showed that online shopping is still booming; ASOS.com announced that their sales from 6 October – 16 November 2008 were up 104% year-on-year, with profits up 68%. ASOS has over 1.8million customers in their database, and research shows that 45% of these visit each week. Rob Bready, product and trading director said, “We’ve got a similar amount of product to Selfridges on Oxford Street,” (I was there on Saturday and that’s A LOT of stock), “Last week we had 1.6m unique visitors to the site – which is probably more than Bluewater.”

ASOS is not the only online store experiencing this success, Yoox expects to end the year with 35-40% growth with the site having over 10million visitors in the past two months, and My-Wardrobe has announced a sales increase of 140% year-on-year. Online fashion is one of the only sectors seeing an introduction of new sites with two online stores launched this month; Far-fetch and catwalk-genius.com. The latter not only offers consumers the ability to buy the latest designer looks, but they are also offering ‘crowd-funding’ where consumers can invest in up-and-coming names.

One reason for this digital boom is that people are not less willing to spend, but less willing to flaunt. In the past few years it has been all about who has the latest Marc Jacobs or newest Aston Martin, but in the current ‘crisis’ this attitude is just insensitive and irresponsible. So, net-a-porter have jumped straight on this bandwagon and have launched a ‘discreet packaging’ service where your new Chanel LBD is delivered to your front door in an unbranded brown paper bag… vintage, chic and ego-friendly, I say!

But fear not, the high street IS fighting back with a rise in printable promo vouchers hitting everyone’s inboxes… 20% off at Selfridges, 2-4-1 at Pizza Express, 30% off at Gap, and a personal favourite, 40% off wine and champagne at Threshers. I seem to have the same codes coming from at least five friends every day. Mark Pearson, founder of My Voucher Codes UK, which has more than 3000 of these printable vouchers on their site, said “Last Christmas was busy, but this year has been crazy.”

So, despite the shrinking economy it seems that the internet is still thriving. As this is the first recession since the widespread use of the World Wide Web, perhaps it isn’t all gloom but a time for traditional retailers to consider more carefully, the opportunities that ‘digital’ offers.


My weekend with Jeremy Clarkson

8 years ago
by Ruth Pipkin

 

This weekend I helped Jeremy Clarkson and went back to the 80’s…

I should just point out that my 80s revival and Jeremy Clarkson were in no way related, they were two very separate events that made up my weekend.

After a few days suffering from the winter cold that seems to be going around, I woke up on Saturday morning to a phone call ‘on behalf of Jeremy Clarkson’. I did wonder if perhaps I was more ill than first thought and was starting to imagine things, but no, I really did have a phone call from the Top Gear camp. Being a huge TG fan (and secretly fancying Mr Clarkson) I knew that Jezza, Hamster and Captain Slow were in Birmingham for Top Gear Live

So, I get a phone call to say that the trio had been out in Birmingham on Friday night – my sources tell me they went to Lasan – and I can only assume that alcohol was involved because Clarkson had the ‘brainwave’ of putting together a band for the weekend’s show. Following the infamous Top Gear of the Pops for Comic Relief in 2007, Clarkson has been looking for an opportunity to pick up his drumsticks and re-create the band. My challenge was to find someone in Birmingham to provide drums, bass guitar and electric piano for the Top Gear boys, all within an hour. I accepted my challenge and luckily I have friends in high places; a full band set-up was delivered to the NEC in time for the day’s first show.

Following the success of my challenge (and the fact that despite being ill I can never turn down a night out) I was also invited to join the Big Cat lads and ladies for 80’s night ‘Guilty Shoes’ at the Hare and Hounds, Kings Heath. I donned a Madonna-inspired outfit, complete with ankle boots, legwarmers and glitter hairspray, and off I went.

The 80s dream had to come to an end very soon as I had been invited to the final leg of Top Gear Live on Sunday evening, as a ‘thank you’ for being so wonderful. I knew that Jeremy would love me, but not sure he would have thought that glitter in my hair and a neon heart on my face was “Acceptable in the 80s”. So these had to go. I got the full VIP treatment at the show, which was absolutely amazing (especially the car football) and even got to touch the stars… before you call the police, I mean the cars!

What a weekend. I should be ill more often!


Old vs. New

8 years ago
by Ruth Pipkin

 

 

The cyclical juxtaposition of trends

“What a fantastic title,” I hear you say. Thanks, I quite like it too… makes me sound very intelligent!

So, I officially have the blog-bug (note the alliteration here… I seriously am intelligent!) and as I sit thinking about what my next post should be about I have one of those “Eureka!” moments whilst reading this month’s City Living.

Next to the obligatory welcome by Mr Perks there was a piece about Wolverhampton graffiti artist Temper and his new collection, Post Graphaelite, which “explores symbolism, astrology and pre-Raphealite idealisms combined with a desire to herald the advancement of graffiti.” (Quote: City Living, 6 November 2008). As you will see from our news page we are currently working on an exhibition, Utmost Fidelity: The Painting Lives of Marianne and Adrian Stokes, opening at Wolverhampton Art Gallery on 30 January 2009. Marianne Stokes was actually part of the pre-Raphaelite sisterhood, which got me thinking about how a street artist can make traditional art “cool” again. Making me ponder upon the cyclical nature of trends…

As someone who considers themselves as relatively young and ‘on-trend’ I obviously do things that most 22 year-olds do – drinking, shopping and so on. But, unlike most of my friends, I do like being cultural; going to the theatre, watching the ballet, visiting art galleries; which made me realise that I am the “cyclical juxtaposition of trends” personified – I like both the new and the old.

This ‘traditional vs contemporary’ state-of-affairs seems to be in the forefront of my generation; with converted warehouses being transformed into modern living spaces a standard practice these days. Whilst at the Plus Preview evening on Wednesday I was admiring the beautiful old space that the Custard Factory has converted into the newly launched Fazeley Studios. Even whilst looking at the innovative design projects at Plus someone commented on how it would have looked even better if there was some old furniture in the room.

This just reminds me of all the times my mom has said, “I remember leg warmers the first time around” and other such comments that demonstrate how trends come back around time and time again.

So, my point really was just that it’s interesting that old becomes new once again… perhaps this is something to consider when pre-empting the future of an industry. But in a ‘digital’ world how will this work? And does this mean that we’re never actually being innovative or inventive; are we simply reviving old ideas?

Something to ponder upon whilst having a Kit-Kat and doing some twittering I think…


Twitter Banter

8 years ago
by Ruth Pipkin

twitterfollowing

 As a small company, one of the things you can miss from time to time is some good old fashioned banter across the office. Not that Tara and I don’t talk, but spending so much time together we tend to rely on ESP. We also don’t have a water cooler, so there is no natural place to dissect what we’ve been up to the night before, the latest thoughts on John Sergeant’s footwork, or the merits of a peanut butter Kit Kat over regular.

But I’ve noticed an interesting development over the past week, as we’ve both started using Twitter more frequently. Our office banter has found a natural place online.

We now have a growing network of friends and colleagues to share the highs and lows of a day’s work with. On one level, it’s an intriguing insight into the tea and doughnut habits of Birmingham’s creative sector. On another, it’s a direct line to advice and feedback from some of our most trusted peers.

You can’t beat the real thing, but Twitter banter certainly provides a welcome distraction during the working day. As does a Kit Kat.


Promoting Birmingham

8 years ago
by Ruth Pipkin


Photograph courtesy of Martin O’Connell – http://flickr.com/photos/martinoc/

As Ruth celebrates a year since she embarked on her New Zealand voyage, I am celebrating a (mere) four months since graduating. As fantastic as my university days were, the world of work is so much more appealing. My social life has far-from demised since being back in my hometown, and now I actually get paid to “lunch”… PR is definitely the right career for me!

I’m being sidetracked…

My dissertation contained 17,000 words on the role of public relations in positioning Birmingham as a ‘cultural’ city. So what did I find? Well, nothing much that I didn’t already know:

> Culture is difficult to define and has a different meaning to each person, thus making it difficult to define what ‘we’ should be promoting as cultural.

> City branding is a relatively new theory that is yet to be proven as a successful marketing tool… who should decide that ‘branding’ is the way to go, and more importantly, who controls this ‘brand’?

> There are numerous people controlling the messages communicated about the City.

> PR has a huge part to play and is a long-term investment on the part of everyone involved in the city’s reputation.

My opinions on the above haven’t particularly changed since working in the ‘industry’ but what has changed is my realisation that everyone has a part to play in changing the perceptions of the our City and region.
Since starting at Rewired, I have worked on some fantastic projects – Taste of Birmingham, Plus Design Festival and Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s Utmost Fidelity exhibition – that have enabled me to help promote Birmingham and the West Midlands on a national and international scale.

Despite the reputation that Birmingham is a grey, industrial, working-class city surrounded by a junction made from spaghetti, in actual fact it is amazing how the media respond to the cultural stories coming out of said city. I have learnt that most of this negativity is coming from people so used to be branded a ‘runner-up’ in the ridiculous Second City debate, that they have forgotten how to enjoy the place in which they live and work.

Aside from these people though are the ones behind music, festivals, art, shopping, theatre, and the creative industries as a whole. These people have an infectious enthusiasm for Birmingham and its future.

So, now that I am working in the very situation in which I wrote so many words about, I have learnt that theory doesn’t always apply; instead a city like Birmingham needs people to invest in its potential. A textbook can give you a foundation for how to promote a city but the implementation of this promotion will need a bit of passion. Birmingham’s creative industries are doing a fantastic job at making this an innovative, imaginative and exciting city… all we need now is to keep promoting this message and eventually Birmingham will gain the recognition it deserves.


Improving connectivity

8 years ago
by Ruth Pipkin

The Three Sisters, Echo Point, Australia

Today, six months after setting up Rewired PR, our website has gone live. It’s great to finally get to showcase some of the projects that have been keeping us so busy over the past few months, but also to start the process of improving our profile, connecting with interested parties and raising awareness of our clients’ work online. A big thanks to all at Tak! for building us a fantastic site.
 
Almost a year ago today I was contacted via my Facebook profile whilst travelling in New Zealand to see if I would be interested in pitching for an ambitious digital arts project called The Big Picture. One proposal later (written in an internet café in Christchurch), and a conference call from a phonebox overlooking the Three Sisters in Echo Point, Australia, my first new business win for Rewired PR will undoubtedly be the one that stays with me for the rest of my days.

The Big Picture turned out to be one of the most inspirational projects I have ever worked on, and it gave me a timely reminder of the value of social networks and online communities, not only for engaging new audiences in the arts, but also for business development.

Half a year on, the team is growing and we have a number of innovative, headline grabbing projects under our belt. The ethos behind Rewired is to improve connectivity for our clients and their audiences across the digital, creative and leisure sectors. We hope to play an active role in that by discussing issues that are relevant to these industries on our website, whilst raising the profile of our clients and the other initiatives and organisations that we play an active role in. Keep in touch with the latest updates via our blog and twitterfeed, join the debate and let us know what you think.