Archive for 2014


New Year PR Resolutions

3 years ago
by guest

New Year 2015 formed from sparking digits over black background

As we hurtle towards the end of 2014 much of my last month has been reviewing the work we’ve done over the past year so we can build on the successes and prepare for an even bigger and better 2015. With that in mind I thought I’d take this opportunity to jump on the New Year’s resolutions bandwagon and offer my top PR resolutions to help you ensure next year gets off to a headline grabbing start:

1. Review your communications strategy. Take a good look at your communications activity from the past year and be honest about what has and hasn’t worked. Are there things you could have done differently or improved upon? A communications audit might help with these answers.
If you didn’t have a communications strategy for 2014 then this will help focus you for the year ahead…..

2. Create a PR strategy. A PR strategy will help you be far more targeted and will steer you in the right direction to ensure you’re talking to the right audience in the right way. Set yourself some clear goals and make a plan and stick to it.

3. Celebrate success. New client wins, award success, new starters or products or services all provide the opportunity to profile your business in a positive way.

4. Read the news. Be that your local newspapers, national news or trade press relevant to your sector. Knowledge is power and understanding your industry and what your target media writes about will help you recognise what you need to do to get a bite of the cherry.

5. Try a new platform. A lot of businesses are successfully using Facebook and Twitter but are there other platforms out there which could further help you connect with your audience? Make sure you stay one step ahead of your competitors and explore alternative platforms such as Vine or Instagram which has seen a huge increase in active users and has recently overtaken Twitter.

6. Speak to your customers. This might sound obvious but how often do you speak to your clients or customers? Are they happy? Do you know what they need? If you even hesitated before answering any of these questions then 2015 needs to be the year you contact your customers more often.

7. Network. It can become far too easy to get caught up with the day-to-day activities of running a business or attending networking events with the same circle of people. Prepare a schedule of networking events you can attend in 2015 – aiming for one a month. Make sure these are relevant to you and your business; requesting a delegate list or agenda prior to attending might help.

8. Keep an eye out for key milestones. Scope out a timeline including key milestones for your business and the industry you operate in. Once these have been identified you should have a consistent list of opportunities to connect with your audience.

9. Become a public speaker. Speaking at relevant conferences and events is a great way to position yourself and your company as a thought-leader in your industry. Start off by choosing a relevant topic you feel confident talking on and then identify networking groups which provide opportunities for guest speakers to attend.

10. Make sure your website content is up-to-date. Your company’s website is often the first glimpse a potential customer gets of your business. As you head into 2015, make sure the content is the best is can possibly be.

I hope these simple tips prove useful; here’s to a happy and successful 2015!


What do national journalists want?

3 years ago
natalie by natalie

photo

There’s no denying that national journalists can sometimes be demanding, difficult or worse – completely uninterested at your attempts to ‘sell-in’ what you deem to be a newsworthy story.

But, who can blame them? They’re constantly on deadline, their editor is breathing down their neck, they’re under increasing workload pressure and they’re inundated with calls and emails from PRs like me on an hourly basis.

What’s more, the media is changing. With more online media outlets rapidly appearing, and social media channels reporting stories as soon as they break, the nationals need to be giving readers a compelling enough reason to buy and repurchase their papers.

So, when I was given the opportunity to meet with national journalists at an event entitled, ‘What Journalists Want’ a couple of weeks ago, I took it with great enthusiasm. The event was run by freelance education journalist, Janet Murray, and was attended by well-respected education correspondents from national titles including The Independent, The Times, The Guardian, Mail on Sunday and trade magazines such as TES, Academies Week and Times Higher Education.

The event gave the journalists (‘hacks’ is what Janet referred to them as) an opportunity to tell us PR professionals (the flacks) exactly what they look for in a story, what their readers are interested in and how they prefer to be approached.

Perhaps the biggest revelation of the event was from one journalist who claimed that, in ten years, he had ‘never written a story from a press release’ – a comment echoed by practically every journalist there. Many of them also turned their noses up at surveys carried out by brands and the majority said attending press conferences wasn’t of interest.

So, what exactly did these national journalists want? ‘Exclusive’ was the word of the day, with all of the journalists emphasising how important exclusive stories, original material, and hard-hitting and controversial comments were.

Hearing this directly from the journalists was encouraging as it reiterated what we’ve always told our clients – if you want to be in the nationals, it’s about building relationships with that particular journalist, offering them strong opinions on issues, providing them with an exclusive interview and giving them access to information no one else has seen before.

With all of this in mind, it’s important for us to continue to work with clients to plan an approach that is tailored to the needs and readership of each title and encourage them to recognise that national PR coverage can often be more about quality rather than quantity.


What makes a good Christmas advert?

3 years ago
Jo Sheridan by Jo Sheridan

christmas collage

It’s that time of year again. You may have managed to avoid Christmas cards and festive gifts thus far, but now that advent calendar windows have been opened, Christmas songs are on repeat on the radio and shopping centres are practically overflowing, the festive season is well and truly here.

One of the highlights of the year is always the unveiling of the hotly anticipated and closely guarded Christmas adverts from leading retailers and brands, complete with social media frenzy and hashtag glory. Even here at Rewired we couldn’t escape the childish excitement as we gathered round to watch John Lewis’ latest offering, twice.

So what makes a good Christmas advert? It’s interesting that retailers and brands can take such a different approach when ultimately trying to achieve the same end goal of drawing in shoppers and promoting their festive offering. From the emotional, warm and fuzzy types, to the slightly tongue-in-cheek, the old classics and the unexpected, is there such a thing as a winning formula?

Here are my top 5 for 2014:

1. John Lewis – #MontythePenguin

A young child, an emotional soundtrack, the cutest animals on the planet and an adorable end result – if there is a winning formula it’s surely this. It may be an obvious choice, but I don’t think I could ever get bored of it popping up during an ad break.

2. Coca Cola – The holidays are coming

We all know that it isn’t Christmas until the first time you see the ‘holidays are coming’ advert. It’s simple, iconic and potentially one of the most talked about adverts on social media, and whilst the full ‘Happy Holidays’ advert for 2014 is great, it’s the famous jingle that gets us feeling festive.

3. Mulberry – #WinChristmas

One of this year’s most tongue-in-cheek, it shows a family trying to outdo each other with lavish presents. The modern direction, playing on the fact that a Mulberry handbag is probably one of the most fail-safe surprise presents to buy a woman, is a definite winner.

4. Sainsbury’s – Christmas is for sharing

This is this year’s most unexpected, especially for a major supermarket like Sainsbury’s. It has drawn its fair share of complaints, but is also a lot of people’s number one this year. It’s timely, heart-warming and completely different, and has been very carefully created. It seems to have split opinion, but as one of 2014’s most talked about adverts, Sainsbury’s has won the supermarket battle of the ads this year.

5. Aldi – Everyone’s coming to us this Christmas

Aldi has become the place for savvy shoppers to go, and its Christmas advert plays on this really well. The continual shot through different groups of family and friends enjoying its festive food reflects the brand’s increasing popularity with shoppers of all ages. Product placement is at the heart of this advert, so whilst very self-promotional it reminds viewers that Aldi can contend with the big four for Christmas dinner this year.

 

What adverts are your favourites this year?


New arrivals

3 years ago
by Ruth Pipkin
Lina Patel, Bethan McKnight, Natalie Merrix and Lisa O-Keeffe

New arrivals at Rewired: Lina Patel, Bethan McKnight, Natalie Merrix and Lisa O’Keeffe

 

Working in PR means that we’re generally planning Christmas campaigns when most people are lying on a beach. Despite this, the end of the year has still managed to sneak up on me with alarming speed so, before we’re tucking into turkey sandwiches, I wanted to celebrate some of the latest arrivals at Rewired.

I don’t usually indulge in personal news on this blog but I will make an exception for the biggest arrival in my year, Alex, who arrived fashionably late in July. By all accounts he can’t sit still and has plenty to say. Clearly his mother’s son.

We’ve also welcomed four new faces to the Rewired team. Natalie, Lina and Lisa have joined the Rewired ranks to work across our retail and leisure, education and community portfolios, bringing a breadth and depth of experience with them. Bethan completes the team as our office administrator.

Rebecca has overseen a busy six months delivering campaigns for new and existing clients, from national brands including Poundstretcher and Pet Hut to a number of leading names closer to home. We’re particularly proud to have launched Cadbury World’s new zone, 4D Chocolate Adventure, supported Hyatt Regency Birmingham with their £6 million refurbishment and unveiled Millennium Point’s Young Innovator Prize.

It’s certainly been a year to remember and with 2015 set to bring some big announcements for many of our clients, not least the hotly anticipated launch of the new Mailbox, it’s good to be back!


Something Wicked this way comes

3 years ago
by guest

Wicked

Earlier this month Sam Harrison and myself were lucky enough to attend the Birmingham Hippodrome’s premiere of highly anticipated musical extravaganza, Wicked!

Focusing on the story behind The Wizard of Oz’s ‘Wicked Witch of the West’ and ‘Glinda the Good’, Wicked tells the untold story of the witches of Oz; focusing on the pair from their school days and revealing how the Wicked Witch, formerly known as Elphaba, really became wicked.

Already a favourite of mine, the performances definitely did justice to the fantastic script and when the well-known ‘Defying Gravity’ number was played, there wasn’t a person left in their seat.

Attending with Leading Ladies, we were also privy to some great networking and delicious snacks, like this amazing cake created by the Hippodrome’s amazing catering team.

Wicked Cake

All in all, a fantastic evening!


Work Experience: where do I start?!

3 years ago
by guest

Guest Post by Anna Hughes, Work Experience at Rewired PR

Anna Hughes Work Experience

Work Experience at Rewired PR…where do I start?!

I was surprised to find myself (unnecessarily) nervous about starting on Monday, spending the weekend worrying – really not recommended before starting any kind of placement. However, upon arriving at the office on Monday morning, these niggling thoughts quickly dispersed and what at first seemed like a daunting experience, quickly became an exciting one, and one I’m very glad to have taken part in.

Although I’ve only been at Rewired for a week, I have already learnt heaps about the PR industry and the ways of the PR world. I have found it really helpful just being alongside the team, as it has given me a taste of what it is like to work in an office like this one. It has been great to work alongside such engaged and driven individuals who, it is obvious, love their job. So far, Rewired PR has encouraged my interest in the field massively and has offered me a window of insight into what it is like working in such a career. From all that I have learnt in the first week, I am eager to see what is in store for me in the second!

I have particularly learnt about the importance of social media in creating engagement and interest in a brand or company through platforms like Twitter and Facebook. I found this particularly interesting as, to me, my Facebook feed is full of selfies and my Twitter is covered with people I know bemoaning about their day to day lives.

I never really noticed how much brands and companies infiltrated on to my pages and how much I actually paid attention to them by clicking their links or visiting their sites until now! Even though it was right in front of me, and I was in fact responding to posts in the way they wanted me to, I did this without really realising. Evidently, with the messages being thought-provoking and interesting but not forceful or overpowering, it meant that I was still extremely receptive to them. I’ve learnt the importance of getting this just right when using social media in PR.

I have also enjoyed spending time doing research for certain projects and clients. In fact, I think the one element that I have particularly loved about PR at Rewired is the diversity of their projects. Everything I have done has been completely different to the next thing and I have found that really appealing as it keeps work interesting and different.

I am extremely grateful to the whole team for giving me the opportunity to join them for these two weeks and for making me feel extremely welcome. The experience I have gained is vital and something I could have only achieved by doing a placement like this. Safe to say, the experience has made me really inclined to pursue a career pathway in PR. So on that note, I would like to say thank you to everyone at Rewired for a great first week of work experience!

Anna Hughes


Do you need a social media prenup?

3 years ago
by guest

You don’t need me to tell you that social media usage continues to grow in popularity with new platforms, trends and collaborations springing up constantly. It’s the arrival however of the social media prenups that’s really got me thinking.
Last week it was reported that couples are now signing a social media prenup stipulating exactly what either party is legally allowed or not allowed to share via social media.

Bride
Extreme? Maybe not… Ann-Margaret Carrozza, a New York attorney believes it makes sense, pointing out that ‘once it’s out there, you can’t shake it and it can be humiliating.’

 
I can actually see an element of sense in it… many companies now admit to carrying out social media ‘stalking’ or vetting when recruiting and even if a post is deleted it doesn’t necessarily mean that it hasn’t already been seen by the wrong people. Even if you’re extremely careful on social media the things that other people post can cause problems for you.

 
However if this is truly the case then where do you draw the line? Surely disgruntled ex-colleagues or friends can be just as damaging as ex-partners?! As social media usage continues to grow I’m sure that ideas to help resolve this issue will continue being devised and debated and social media prenups are just the beginning. Until this is resolved it’s probably best to ‘think before you tweet’ and I’ve put a few ideas below to ensure that your online profile isn’t having a negative impact on your professional prospects.

 
1) Don’t put anything online that you wouldn’t want publically associated with you – even if it’s about someone else.

 
2) Saying something careless about your job, boss or Clients could not only cost your current job but also future jobs.

 
3) Learn to use the privacy settings on your social networks.

 
4) Don’t overshare.

 


The Power of the #Hashtag

3 years ago
by guest

Chris-Ramsey

People often underestimate the importance of hashtag on Twitter.  Over the past few weeks we’ve had a couple of clients ask how useful a tool it really is when engaging with followers. The answer is extremely important, but only if done correctly.

Recently there have been two fantastic examples of hashtags which have unexpectedly gone viral, the first of which was #GiveGregTheHoliday. When Greg Heaslip, a security guard for The Arcadia Group, accidently sent his holiday request to 3,500 of the group’s staff, employees across the country took to Twitter to ask management to grant him the time off.

Various brands then got involved, offering Greg everything from a day at Chessington World of Adventure to a five day break in Las Vegas, and much more in between.

Another example of how an organisation positively interacted with a hashtag was Domino’s Pizza’s delivery of #PizzaOnATrain. When comedian Chris Ramsey tweeted in an attempt to have a meal delivered to a train travelling from King’s Cross to Newcastle, Domino’s certainly rose to the challenge. Catching up with the train at Doncaster, the pizza giant supplied Chris with enough pizzas to feed himself and his fellow passengers.

These two examples highlight the benefits of brands proactively following and responding to hashtags. It show’s the brand’s willingness to engage on a human level humourously and generously, and shows that the brand is genuinely social media savvy. Finally, it’s a great way to broadcast the brand to a number of additional users who wouldn’t normally see them on their newsfeed.

While hashtagging shouldn’t just be used to ‘get free stuff’, these examples highlight how using the symbol really can make things happen. So instead of just considering how to use your own hashtags when planning your social media campaign, why not think about how you can interact with those already out there?


Whatever happened to the heroes (of PR)?

3 years ago
by guest

banksy-W1200

Twenty years ago, if you’d asked the general public who they saw as the most well-known PR professional, Max Clifford would’ve been your man. Ten years ago? Still Max. This year? Well, it’s still Max – though in 2014, it’s for unsavoury reasons aside from his actual work in PR.

Now we’re a little down-the-line from Clifford’s incarceration, we can look at who else is prominent in the field of UK public relations. The answer is…actually, who is the answer?

When you’ve worked in external and internal communications as long as I have (don’t let my ageless looks deceive you – I’m decrepit), there are names that you respect locally, or have seen crop up in national trade magazines – on the UK-wide level, that might mean people like Francis Ingham, Steve Waddington or Lord Bell.  However, mention these names to my mum and I’ll get the almightiest of shrugs.

Admittedly, if I mention ‘PR’ to my mum, I tend to get the shrug-off too, but that’s another story (bless you mum, I will one day find the best way to explain what I do).  The fact remains that PR professionals are very much under the radar these days.

You could say that a) so they should be – PRs should never BE the story and b) why should your pensioner mum know who’s hot in PR anyway?  My mild concern is, however, that it’s not just my mum who’s in the dark about the best PRs out there. It’s the young people that could be the next generation of PR stars.

My concern, as I say, is only mild. We live in a modern world where ‘PR’ means something very different to ye olden days of boozing, schmoozing, celebrity shielding and, very occasionally, press release writing.  Arguably, there’s no such thing as a pure PR professional anymore; whether you’re young or old in PR, you now have to possess a range of tricks beyond mere press release writing and media relations. No wonder media graduates and young people are more likely to be inspired by prolific content generators, or dynamic networkers, or multi-talented digital entrepreneurs.

zuckerberg_2432876b

That said: if we, as an industry looking to grow, continue to look to employ young PR account executives, what are we likely get? The talent we need to thrive aren’t necessarily thinking about careers in PR – they want to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, or Pete Cashmore, or Dan and Phil.  And, if the appeal of the industry is shrinking amongst young people, hopes of improving its low-levels of diversity are likely to also recede.

I’m not saying the PR world needs a new Max Clifford. For countless reasons, some of them legal, that would be a Very Bad Thing. I do, nevertheless, wonder what the future holds if the PR present has no heroes to look up to.


What's in a name?

3 years ago
by Ruth Pipkin

Car-phones-450x375

There was plenty of talk in the media last week regarding the £3.8bn merger of Dixons and Carphone Warehouse– with the new Dixons Carphone laying out its vision to become the ‘world class retailer for the digital age’.

Much of the coverage focussed on Dixons Carphone looking to own the retail agenda around the ‘internet of things’ –  improving connectivity between household objects and the internet through mobile technology.

Carphone’s Chief Executive, Andrew Harrison, confidently declared: “This is a merger that is ahead of the curve, not behind the curve, and is thinking about how the world is changing for customers.”

Great. If they pull it off It all sounds very necessary, very now. But what about the name?

I have an issue with Carphone Warehouse every time I pass one of their stores. As a child of the 80s, I remember my dad coming home with his first carphone. Wow, did that feel like the future.

Fast forward two decades and holding on to the Carphone name seems overwhelmingly behind the curve, rather than racing ahead at the speed of fibre broadband.

Why go through the motions of reinventing an offer without reinventing the brand? If the company is serious about selling its future vision to a new generation of customers, surely it’s time to consider a new identity to support that vision?