Author Archive


Brick by brick, the #StopFundingHate campaign builds

8 months ago
natalie by natalie

This is not a Christmas ad

Founded back in August, the Stop Funding Hate campaign was created to stop brands placing their advertising with newspapers that, in their words, promote “hatred, discrimination and demonisation”.

After just four months, the Stop Funding Hate Twitter account has amassed over 62.5k followers, as well as a slightly eclectic handful of high-profile supporters including Alistair Campbell, Gary Linekar and Lily Allen.

Earlier this month, amongst the noise of this year’s Christmas ads, the campaign founders also launched a thought-provoking video targeting big brands and posing the question, “What if goodwill to all wasn’t only meant for Christmas?”

Despite the surge in support for the campaign, many brands have been reluctant to take any action. Co-op is reportedly ‘reviewing’ its media buying but Walkers and John Lewis have both been quoted as saying they don’t make advertising decisions based on a newspaper’s editorial stance.

There’s only one brand that’s taken the leap to agree to the campaign’s requests, and that’s Lego.

Announced earlier this month, Lego made the decision to end its promotional agreement with the Daily Mail, claiming that it had no plans for further activity in the future.

This came off the back of growing social media pressure and a letter from Lego customer, Bob Jones, which went viral.

In a statement, a Lego spokesperson commented: “We spend a lot of time listening to what children have to say. And when parents and grandparents take the time to let us know how they feel, we always listen just as carefully.

“We are both humbled and honoured to see how much consumers all over the world express their care for our company and our brand. And we will continuously do our very best to live up to the trust and faith that people all around the world show us every day.”

My only question is – where does it stop? It’s all very well pulling your advertising with the papers directly. But, if the department stores which stock your products take a different view, what impact has really been made?

Nevertheless, the announcement from Lego was a brave and clever PR move which really couldn’t have come at a better time, as we start gearing up for Black Friday and the start of Christmas shopping mahem!

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Christmas ads: Tear-jerkers win again!

8 months ago
natalie by natalie

Christmas ads – it’s all we’re talking about! It’s the one time of the year where I actually look forward to ads. Is it me or does there seem to be a common pattern amongst brands? It seems many have turned to animated joyful comical ads, and steered away from the usual cryfest.

I recently read an article in Marketing Week that said; following a chaotic year of controversial political surprises such as Brexit and Donald Trump presidency, John Lewis wanted to do something lighter according to their customer director, Craig Inglis.

He said he hoped ‘the advert would make people smile, reminding everyone what if feels to give the perfect gift for Christmas’. Sentimental as the previous efforts were, they packed an emotional punch, simply lacking in this ad.

I believe a good Christmas advert should make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, and move you as much as the most heart-rending film. These are the ads we remember and look forward to watching over the festive period. Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot, John Lewis’ Buster the Boxer and Sainsbury’s The Greatest Gift ad just didn’t do it for me.

Here are the ads that won me over this year:

  • Alzheimer’s Research UK ‘Forgotten Santa’ – the first TV campaign launched by the charity and it works wonderfully. This powerful ad raises awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and the charity, and sends out an important message – that anyone can get Alzheimer’s at any given time. What I found interesting was that although the hashtags, #santaforgot and #ibelieve have been used on Twitter, the company has not put any paid spend on this platform.

     

  • Lidl’s Homecoming – a tale about a family coming together to give their beloved dad and grandfather a Christmas to remember. It’s heart-warming and relatable.

     

  • Marks and Spencer’s Christmas with Love from Mrs Claus – a beautiful story of a glamourous Mrs Claus helping out a little boy called Jake who wants the perfect gift for his big sister. The campaign also involves Mrs Claus taking over M&S’ social media accounts, and the hashtag #lovemrsclaus which generates its own emoji! Although many brands include a charity element, M&S has decided not to work with a specific charity but instead an army of Mrs Claus will be giving random acts of kindness to 15,000 customers in the run-up to Christmas. For each act, M&S will donate £5 to the recipient’s charity of choice.

     

  • Heathrow Airport: Coming Home for Christmas – an unlikely contender but this one made me teary. The ad follows Mr and Mrs Bear, two elderly teddy bears landing at the airport. It captures the moment loved ones are reunited with their families, and spreading the message that coming home is the best Christmas gift of all.

What’s your favourite Christmas ad this year and why?


OMG – you won’t believe this!

12 months ago
natalie by natalie

Clickbait. We’ve all fallen for it. And now Facebook has declared war on it.

Facebook’s research team announced last week that users will be seeing fewer clickbait stories in their News Feeds as it cracks down even further on misleading content and spam.

The new system will identify phrases that are commonly used in clickbait headlines and links posted from or shared from Pages or domains that consistently post clickbait headlines will appear lower in the News Feed.

So, what is clickbait? And when is it an issue to those of us working in the media industry?

Facebook defines clickbait as a headline that withholds information required to understand what the content of the article is and if it exaggerates the article to create misleading expectations for the reader.

Having been accused in the past of using clickbait to lure readers, Buzzfeed’s editor-in-chief, Ben Smith, believes the practice of clickbait is often misunderstood and incorrectly labelled.

Smith says, “The best way to ensure your readers won’t choose to share a story or a post is to trick them.”  He added, “Anyone who has spent the last 20 years online knows the specific disgust that comes with a headline that doesn’t deliver on its promise.”

He argues that clickbait headlines might be able to trick a user into loading the content but that increasingly angry readers would never share it, therefore arguing his case that Buzzfeed doesn’t indulge in the practice of clickbait.

Crafting the perfect headline and attracting people to your content is a skill. Journalism and the online world have long relied on curiosity to create interest in a story. However, whilst it’s tempting, it’s important that your headlines – whether they’re for social media posts, video titles, blog posts, e-shots – don’t become exaggerated and manipulative or misleading.

You might get people clicking on your content but chances are, they’ll soon realise it doesn’t bear any resemblance to the headline and click straight off – thus negating the whole point of using clickbait in the first place.

By the way, if you haven’t clicked off this article already in anger at the clickbait headline, make sure you read my previous post – it will leave you stunned!

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My mentoring journey so far…

1 year ago
natalie by natalie

 

Martin Luther King once said, “Life’s most urgent question is: what are you doing for others?” Especially in our industry, our focus should always be putting others first whether it’s our clients, the team or supporting young people in the city.

Around eight months ago, I joined the Birmingham Professional Services mentoring scheme, not only to be mentored by a professional but to also support a young person through monthly mentoring sessions. Needless to say, it’s been very rewarding so far. Read my Q&A that was featured on BPS here:

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What made you want to be a mentor/mentee?

I have always been interested in the idea of being a mentor/mentee and when I heard about the BPS mentoring scheme, I was keen to get involved.

I was drawn to being a mentor as I liked the idea of supporting a young individual – whether it was through career goals, personal development or simply being a friend. Being a mentor to a young person in the city was a way that I could show my support to the next generation of young talent and even learn a thing or two from them.

I wanted to be a mentee to develop my own career and have someone to talk to outside of work, who could offer me advice and support based on their own experiences and challenges that they have faced.

Have you been in a mentoring relationship before?

No, but it’s something I have always been interested in. BPS provides a great platform for young professionals in the city to connect with like-minded individuals, giving them the chance to increase their skills and inspire others in the workforce and across Birmingham.

How has your mentor helped/supported/inspired you?

My mentor is really supportive and has given me some great advice on personal development so far. She’s definitely an inspiration to me and has made me think more about what I want to achieve over the next five to 10 years, and what steps I need to take to get there.

How have you found being a mentor?

At first, I wasn’t really sure what I could offer to a young person at my age but having my own mentor gave me a little more perspective. I approached my first session with my mentee as if I was meeting a new friend for a coffee. We got along really well and I felt like I had known her for ages.

Being a mentor is being that person that they can talk to about work ups and downs, life in general but also having a laugh, which really helps when you’re having a tough day! I was able to offer general career advice as well as advice around key areas/skills that my mentee wanted to focus on.

It has given me a sense of fulfilment and highlighted just how important it is to actually take time out from sitting at my desk. I found that it has not only helped me support a young person in setting their own objectives moving forward, but it has also made me believe in myself more and my ability as a working professional.

What would you say to anyone still deciding whether to sign up as a mentor/mentee?

I would say don’t be afraid to try both! I think some people shy away from it as they may see it as a huge commitment to add to their workload but it’s definitely worthwhile.

Being a mentor will increase your confidence, help your own career development and improve skills such as management and leadership. In turn, you will gain recognition for your skills and experience.

Being a mentee means that you can gain practical advice and support from someone in the city who is passionate about their career and wants to help you find your own path and support you on your journey. It’s also a great opportunity to develop your communication skills, establish a sense of direction and meet new people in the city.

 

There are some really exciting opportunities in Birmingham and I am really enjoying being both a mentor and a mentee. I am definitely glad I signed up!

Find out more about the BPS mentoring scheme here – http://bpsbirmingham.co.uk/future/mentoring/


As one paper folds, another one opens

1 year ago
natalie by natalie

24-cover

Not too long ago, I wrote a blog post about the UK’s new national newspaper, New Day. Just nine weeks after it launched, the paper quite literally folded, with circulation at a measly 40,000 rather than the predicted 200,000.

Now, I don’t want to curse this in the same way, but it appears that another publisher has taken the brave move to launch a newspaper despite ever-declining print figures.

Priced at 40p, the paper – called 24 – is published by Carlisle-based CN Group with 95% of its content, including news, lifestyle, features, celebrity gossip and puzzles, provided by the Press Association.

The difference this time around is that the paper has been specifically designed for the north as an alternative to the “south-dominated” national press. Its circulation will stretch from Preston in the south to Lockerbie in the north and Workington in the west to Hexham in the east.

CN Group’s editorial director, David Helliwell, is reported to have told the BBC that 24 readers will get “a great mix of all the best national news and sport content that is around, added with a northern flavour”. He adds: “There is so much that happens in the UK that only a fraction of it gets into our newspapers and it can be very south-dominated”.

I agree that newspapers tend to be quite biased towards the south but haven’t publishers learned their lesson from the disaster that was New Day? Only time will tell.


Event season is upon us – top tips to stay one step ahead

1 year ago
natalie by natalie

Rewired is in full swing this month with several client events taking place, including supporting and managing three Business in the Community Gala Dinners. We all know planning one event can prove challenging, let alone organising several events all in one month.

event_calender

Here are my five top tips to keep front of mind whilst managing any event.
Plan, plan and plan some more
Months ahead of the event, pull together a timing plan of what needs to be done, when it needs to be done by and whose responsibility it is to complete the activity. Sit down with your client and team and talk it through to make sure everyone is clear on what they are doing. This will ensure you keep to deadlines and give yourself plenty of time to complete tasks.

Regular meetings and conference calls
Set aside some time once a week to run through the latest activity and next steps with your client. It’s much easier to run through and progress activity. It also helps to build a relationship with the client! If it’s an ad-hoc project, the client is more likely to consider you next year if you’ve already built up a good relationship with them.

Logistics
A few months before the event, make sure you have thought about all the logistics such as decor, entertainment, audio visual, catering, and health and safety, just to name a few. Do your research to find the best suppliers that tie in with your client’s requirements and budget. Remember to keep a database of all the suppliers you have used – they will come in handy for future events.

Venue visits/liaison

Visit the venue several times to familiarise yourself with the space. Make a list of items you need to check before your visit and be clear on what the venue will be providing and what may incur additional costs for the client. One week before the event, call the events manager and run through the schedule for the day to ensure everything is in hand and tie up any outstanding activity.

Promotion

In order to get the right people to the event, make sure you have an extensive invite list and that invitations are sent out a month in advance – don’t forget to follow up with a call or email two weeks before. Depending on whether it’s an open event or invitation only, encourage people to spread the word across social media channels.

 

You’ve been planning for months on end and when the big day finally arrives, it’s natural to feel panicked. Arrive early, allow enough time for rehearsals, sound checks and a thorough staff brief beforehand – the rest will just fall into place.

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Sorry seems to be the hardest word

1 year ago
natalie by natalie

The newspaper LATEST NEWS with the headline CRISIS AVERTED  and coffee

In life, it’s inevitable that something at some point will go wrong. And sometimes it’s our fault. And sometimes we need to say sorry to make it all alright again. It’s the same in business – people make mistakes which can’t always be controlled and these mistakes can be devastating to a brand. What can be controlled however is the way in which the business deals with that mistake once it’s happened.

I’m talking specifically about Old Trafford being evacuated last weekend after a bomb-like device was found in a toilet in the stadium just minutes before Manchester United were due on the pitch.

The device was left there following a training exercise by Security Search Management & Solutions Ltd (SSMS).

What followed, after the media furore had subsided, was an unexpected heartfelt apology from the security company responsible for planting the device. The company’s owner, Chris Reid, said in a statement that he was “absolutely gutted” that his mistake had caused such disruption saying: “The mistake is entirely mine, I have to take full responsibility. To say I’m sorry doesn’t seem adequate.”

Reid has been subsequently praised for the way he handled the situation and both PRs and journalists have taken to Twitter to express their admiration for his honesty and sincerity.

That’s not to say that fans and club owners aren’t still angry but from a general public point of view, Reid’s human approach to the crisis has paid off well for his reputation.

For every good response in a crisis, there are plenty of bad ones. Here are my top three examples of when spokespeople should have consulted their PR person before speaking…

  1. BP and the oil spill – CEO, Tony Hayward tells reporters that he’d like his life back – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTdKa9eWNFw
  2. Protein World’s CEO and that ‘Bikini Body Ready’ ad – http://www.prweek.com/article/1349929/protein-world-brings-banned-body-shaming-ad-us
  3. Ex-CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch and his response to only employing models to work in his stores – http://elitedaily.com/humor/the-10-most-ridiculous-things-mike-jeffries-ceo-of-abercrombie-fitch-has-said/

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Top tips for graduates seeking a career in PR

1 year ago
natalie by natalie

 

 

With graduation only around the corner, I’m sure there are many media and communication students who have already applied for a job in PR. With hundreds of job applications sitting in an inbox, here’s how to stand out from the crowd.

What is PR?

Many people who apply for a PR job think that it’s about advertising and marketing…it’s not. It’s about managing the reputation of a business and/or an individual. We write press releases, social media content, support and manage events, pull together proposals and strategies… not advertisements. Make sure you know this before you go into an interview as you will get asked why you want a job in PR.

Dear Sir/Madam

Is your cover letter addressed to the right person? This is SO important and many people still get it wrong. Starting your cover letter with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ is lazy. Do your research and make sure that your cover letter is addressed to the relevant person. If you can’t find the information you need online, ring or email the company.

Experience

If you haven’t done so already, contact local PR agencies to see if they offer work experience or internships. By the time I had finished university, I had completed four placements at newspaper publications – this was the reason I landed my first job as a trainee reporter. Employers are interested in transferable skills, not to mention, it looks great on your CV!

Make the most of your placement

During your placement, don’t be afraid to ask questions, show initiative and be helpful. Whether that means doing thorough research before drafting a press release, participating in brainstorms or making rounds of tea, you’ll make a lasting impression, and who knows, you might even get offered a job afterwards.

Create a portfolio of your work

During your placement, save examples of any press releases you’ve drafted, or client coverage that you’ve helped to achieve. For future interviews, your portfolio will provide the agency with proof that you can carry out the responsibilities of the job in question. If you haven’t undertaken a placement, take cut-outs from newspapers or magazines that you think will be relevant to the agency’s clients.

Research

In preparation for your interview, make sure you know who the agency’s clients are and any recent projects that they’ve worked on. Take the time to really research the company and their morals and values. Also, be aware of the latest industry news and PR campaigns/stunts. You’ll go into the interview feeling a lot more confident.

Show your personality

Personality and having the right skills go hand-in-hand. As well as employers looking to see whether you have the writing skills, key traits such as being passionate about having a career in PR, being a team player, having confidence and excellent communication skills, are just some of the key attributes employers look for in junior account executives. These traits will also reflect in your work and client results, so make sure your personality comes across during your interview.

Creativity

PR is a very creative industry and we are always trying to come up with new ideas for clients. Can you give an example of when you had to be creative? Employers will ask so make sure you have some examples up your sleeves.

Polish your online presence

Social media plays a massive role in agencies and their clients. So whether it’s LinkedIn, Twitter or your own blog, make sure you have an online presence. If you do get a job in PR, you’ll be expected to know the basics. Don’t forget to follow PR Week and PR Moment for the latest industry insights.

Choose people first

From experience, I’ve learnt that it’s the people who surround you at work that make the difference to your career. There are many other factors to consider when taking a job but make sure the team and culture matches you and your ambitions for the future.

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A brave move by Trinity Mirror

1 year ago
natalie by natalie

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Last week, a brand new national newspaper called New Day hit the shelves. Running at a trial price of just 25p, New Day – owned by Trinity Mirror – is the UK’s first national newspaper for 30 years. The arrival of New Day comes just weeks after publishers of the Independent announced that the paper, including the Sunday edition, will cease publication at the end of March, only to be available online.

Bosses say that the New Day paper gives a ‘ruthless edit of the day’ for ‘time-poor’ readers and hope that its arrival will ‘arrest the decline’ in newspaper readership.

Initially, I was a bit sceptical. In my view, the whole beauty of buying and reading a newspaper is to discover more about a topic, read views from another perspective, and ultimately, broaden your knowledge and awareness of current affairs and issues in the world around you. If I need a ruthless edit of the day, I’ll go to Twitter and get my fix there.

Flicking through though, New Day is actually a quality paper, especially for the price. It’s easy to read, clean, colourful and covers a wide range of issues in a concise way. That being said, the paper has still dedicated space for more in-depth features on bigger topics. And strangely, its attractive layout even made me stop and read the sports section, which never usually happens.

Time will tell whether New Day will buck the current trend of newspaper readership, and whilst I’m not completely convinced people want to read a newspaper for their quick news fix, I’m willing to give it a chance!


PR predictions for 2016

2 years ago
natalie by natalie

As 2016 kicks off in full swing, here are our top PR predictions for the year, and yes it includes press releases surviving another year!

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Less is more

These days, journalists have less time to talk. Therefore, it’s going to be vital that we make our ‘sell-in’ over the phone or via email stand out from hundreds of calls/emails they receive on a daily basis. How? Sell in images and videos and aim to make an impact with a strong headline. Otherwise, it will just go in to their ‘maybe’ or ‘not of interest’ folder sat with around a thousand other emails… Harsh I know!

 

Video sharing

Facebook video has now overtaken YouTube in unique visitors. BBC News and The Guardian have already signed up to have full articles published directly on Facebook, which is transforming the way we read news articles. So as Facebook continues to develop its video sharing platform, and more so with live video streams, it’s important we encourage clients to increase their video content.

 

Measure your results

Clients want to see measurable results across all platforms. After all, all the work we put in to delivering social media campaigns and competitions, it’s worth tracking our results to emphasise levels of engagement, views and the impact it has had – more importantly find out perhaps what has and hasn’t worked.

 

 PR stunts will get bigger

After the polar bear let loose on the Thames stunt, PR stunts can only get bigger. In order to achieve great results at a national level, campaigns have to be original and creative. After all, look how much publicity stunts are shared and talked about. Here are some of our favourite stunts from last year.

 

Press releases will survive

After reading a couple of articles which have said that press releases will not survive, I have to admit I still think press releases will be around for a while. Preparing and selling in news stories is a vital part of our job. Yes, these days it may be more likely to support a follow-up after securing an exclusive, but local journalists use our stories and need them for background information.

 

With all the above in mind, here’s to a successful 2016!