Category: Blog

LOVING LINKEDIN

Lindsey Davies LinkedIn

I have to admit I’m loving LinkedIn. I’ve had a bit of crush on the platform for some time now. I like the fact that it is a social channel that has a definitive audience with a clear purpose.

There have been some fall outs over the years, as people have posted personal updates and others have made it their mission to ‘police’ the professional platform. However, I still feel it is a positive space to connect with others.

It is now very much a ‘go to’ for recruiters and individuals to showcase their talents, achievements and expertise.

Leaving the trolls behind

The conversations on LinkedIn focus on finding new contacts and sharing work-based content with a network that you have pre-approved. In order to share with someone, you first must make them a connection. This limits the amount of spam and unsolicited messages you receive.

As well as ensuring the information you access is interesting and relevant, this approach also leaves the trolls at the door. Twitter has become a breeding ground for bad behaviour, which requires governance and endless monitoring. In contrast, LinkedIn is able to build its credibility as a platform of choice for business.

Simple and effective

One of the first things I do each morning is scan through my LinkedIn feed. There is always an abundance of content and it varies depending on who has posted. Given the industry I work in, there is no consistency about who I follow; if I find a person or brand interesting then I will follow or connect.

It’s not unusual for me to wake up to someone posting an amazing view from a run or a report that looks at category insight about a given market. Both give me a reason to read, consider and reflect.

Posting to LinkedIn is simple and accessing a profile from the app has improved over the years. Reiterating it as a tool of choice for companies, at most events there is an option to scan a name badge and connect with someone through a QR code.

Not only does this reiterate the importance of LinkedIn for individuals and organisations but it also showcases how easy it is to use.

Posts and articles

What I like most about LinkedIn is the articles. As someone that writes for a living this will come as no surprise. What appeals to me most is that I can share my thoughts and opinions while also receiving clear analytics.

Unlike some social media channels, LinkedIn has the credibility that comes from relying on people to input their own professional information. This leads to fewer dormant or ‘fake’ accounts and more people that genuinely want to connect and converse.

Knowing those that I am connected with means that when someone leaves a comment or likes my article I will respond. This then leads to genuine and meaningful discussion. There is no harm in having a point of view and I find LinkedIn a more balanced place to do this.

I try to share an article at least once a month and have mixed them up a bit recently. Some focus on business and others are more personal. I don’t feel there is any harm in this as the objective is the same; people get to learn more about me and the way that I work.

Making the most of company pages

As an agency we manage company pages for our clients and provide advice and guidance on personal profiles. For me, once your profile is updated, it’s all about posting regular updates and spending five to ten minutes liking other information you have found useful.

I have met lots of people that have explained how they ‘don’t know how to do LinkedIn’ but the truth is that you don’t have to. The platform does much of it for you and will guide you through the steps to becoming an ‘All Star’.

You can then take your time working out the rest and can pay to become a premium member if you choose.

As well as updating your status, it is important to remember your company page. This is a reflection of your business to the outside world and gives employees a chance to share their thoughts and feelings about an organisation.

With this comes an authenticity that is rarely found elsewhere. Although company pages can be monitored and posts can be removed, they are often a true indication of the culture at a company. This is reflective of employees and what they share.

It is also a fantastic tool for building an employer brand and encouraging the best talent to your organisation. After all, if you employees are sharing the positives about your business, you don’t have to.

Grouping together

You can also join groups on LinkedIn, comment on articles and share links to external web pages that could add some value for those that are following you.

Again, the beauty about LinkedIn for me is that it is simple, effective and professional.

As someone that isn’t looking for a change of career or a new job, some people may ask why I bother with the platform. The truth is I know that many of my contacts visit the site and access the content that I share. As such, like any social channel, it is a valuable way for me to share news from the business.

Engaging with groups isn’t something I do as often as I should. I am a member of some groups but prefer to use them to read articles or links that are shared as opposed to creating relationships that are exclusively online.

One group I have been a member of for years is the Yorkshire Mafia. I joined because I thought it sounded interesting and slightly controversial. More importantly, the philosophy of the group that we are ‘stronger together’ also stood out for me.

With 22,000 pre-approved members it has a strong following and has been commended as one of the most productive groups on LinkedIn. I would recommend that anyone who just wants to join a positive and informative community of people takes the time to join.

Making the time

As with everything, updating LinkedIn takes time and any post that you share will be potentially available to world. So, while it may be easy to update your status, the same rules apply as to any channel.

My recommendation would be to set aside five or ten minutes a day and to review the content on your feed before liking, sharing and then updating your own status.

It doesn’t have to take hours and shouldn’t become a chore. If you set out with the mindset that it is part of your business processes, and a way to access information you may otherwise never have come across, then you lead with the benefits.

Looking to the future

I’m not sure what the future holds for LinkedIn. It is certainly a recruiters’ dream, and I can see why. Some of the updates I have had access to from the company, such as insights, have been developed with this audience in mind but there will be others in the pipeline.

Given I started this by saying I’m loving LinkedIn, I urge people to use the space to listen, learn and share. Given the updates that have been made to the functionality over the last year, I would expect further exciting features and updates are yet to come.

Only time will tell, but I believe LinkedIn has a great opportunity to take ownership and become the social channel for business. Whether a competitor comes along is to be debated, but it will take something special to catch my eye.

HOW TO PICK THE RIGHT INFLUENCER FOR YOUR BRAND

It is common knowledge that leveraging influencers can help drive brand awareness and reach a wider audience. But the process of selecting the ‘right’ influencer is not an easy task.

Amongst the clutter and noise on social media, it is becoming increasing difficult to recognise credible influencers who can truly add value to a business. And while influencer marketing can be a great strategy to strengthen a brands online presence, when done incorrectly it can also have detrimental effects.

So, before diving into the lucrative world of #sponsored posts, here is a 3-step guide that can help ease the process.

 

1 – Recognise the different types of influencers available

The internet is home to a plethora of social media superstars. Before agreeing to work with any of them, take the time to understand the different types of influencers available.

Typically, influencers are categorised based on the number of followers they have.

Mega-influencers: 1M+ Followers

Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Selena Gomez, are all examples of mega-influencers. They are established celebrities who can help your brand gain recognition on a global scale. Of course, they demand a hefty fee, with some charging upwards of £800,000 per sponsored post.

Macro-influencers: 100K – 1M Followers

Usually macro-influencers are those that gained recognition through the internet itself. Such as vloggers and bloggers who rose to fame by building a follower base over time. Similar to mega-influencers, they can be very expensive to work with. But for businesses with a substantial marketing budget this is an effective way to increase brand awareness to a mass market FAST.

Micro-influencers: 1K – 100K Followers

A micro-influencer as opposed to others has a significantly lower number of followers. Typically, they focus on a specific niche and so are more suited for brands that want to target a certain type of customer. Unlike the other two, micro-influencers charge considerably less and maintain an extremely loyal fan base.

Nano-influencers: Less than 1K Followers

They are comparable to a start-up business. This type of influencer tends to have very little to no experience of working with brands. Despite having a small audience, nano-influencers attract a high engagement rate as they are most relatable for consumers. More often than not, they will accept products in return for social media coverage.

 

2 – Check for fake followers

As influencers battle for the social media spotlight, some can be tempted into buying fake followers. This black hat tactic can instantly grow an influencers audience from a few to thousands.

This is a huge problem on Instagram, where advertisement is becoming more and more important. Users can even buy interactions such as likes and comments from fake profiles to give a false impression of high engagement.

Collaborating with influencers whose followers and engagement is not genuine is not only a waste of time but can essentially be detrimental to a brands integrity. Fortunately, there are several online tools and programs available for detecting fakes.

 

3 – Identify any risks and red flags

Followers and engagement play a significant part when identifying the most appropriate influencers for a campaign. But, what’s equally important is reviewing the influencers social media channels to check for any red flags.

In today’s media landscape, nothing is ever private, especially on the internet! This is especially true for influencers who are constantly under the social media microscope. From inappropriate personal thoughts to controversial opinions and pictures, everything is visible.

So, before approaching an influencer, it is absolutely vital to make sure that ALL of their social media channels are thoroughly reviewed, and any risks are immediately identified.

Ultimately, influencers have the power to make or break a brands reputation. Finding the right person is less about who’s trending or has the highest number of followers and more about finding someone who represents your brands personality and values.

 

Influencers are certified social media butterflies and experts in creating engaging content who can help bridge the gap between a brand and its target customers. Working with them is an effective method to drive awareness.

If you are thinking of switching from traditional advertising to influencer collaborations remember to do the leg work and to make the choices that will deliver the value you are expecting.

 

DOES FLEXIBLE WORKING HELP OR HINDER CAREER PROGRESSION?

While new technological advancements continue to change the way we live our lives, the expectations we have on society constantly evolve, none more so than the way we work.

We are in the midst of a digital transformation and as result the social and economic landscape is continually changing. As part of this workplace evolution, we’ve seen the rapid growth of the gig economy; a surge in the opening of major co-working spaces; the number of start-ups reaching record levels and an increased desire for remote or flexible employment.

In addition to these innovations, our mental health and well-being has never been so valued and as a result, I believe the quest to find the perfect balance between a career and personal life is being sought after more than ever.

Organisations are already taking notice of these changes and we are seeing an increasing number of companies adapt new strategies to help meet the demands of their employees. For instance, Microsoft recently unveiled that it tested out a four-day work week in its offices in Japan for the entire month of August, without decreasing pay.

The trial project, called Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019, was unsurprisingly met with an overwhelming positive response by the workers. What is particularly interesting is that productivity among the 2,300 employees rose by 40%.

What we can take away from this project is that happier employees became more efficient, and the company as a whole benefited. However, despite the large number of participants, it is important to remember that this took place over just one month and in one company. The long-term impacts of a four-day week are still relatively unknown and until further companies take that leap of faith, it is uncertain if this strategy will become a permanent fixture in the workplace.

A major trend emerging in recent years is the desire to work remotely or have the ability to work via a flexible schedule, choosing when, where and how to work on any particular day.

Although this concept was initially restricted to specific roles and industries, companies from a wide range of sectors are now more accepting, allowing employees to enjoy more freedom than ever before.

According to recent research compiled by Instant Office, flexible workspace now amounts to more than 85 million square feet of the UK office market.

With an increasing number of people opting to work from home or shared co-working spaces, there is a lot more pressure being put on the employer to introduce flexible working within their business model.

But at what cost?

As well as all the advantages that comes with digitalisation, there is unfortunately an element of risk. Cyber-attacks and data breeches are on the rise, and the exposure of companies only widens when assets are scattered in different locations.

The security measures implemented within an office will be much more robust than those at home or on a public wi-fi network. As a result, remote or flexible workers are not only more likely to become victims of cyber-attacks, but the companies they are working for are also in danger.

I believe this is where trust becomes such an integral part of this process. Not only trusting the employee to carry out day-to-day activities at an efficient rate, but to also have the confidence to know that they will protect themselves and the employer from any potential threats.

This can be achieved through a thorough communication strategy that keeps both parties constantly up-to-date and aware of any critical changes. With that being said, we have to question if the responsibility still falls on the employer to ensure staff have the correct security systems in place to help them work remotely.

Although the changing trends of the way we work show no signs of slowing down, I believe it will be sometime before we see the workplace become completely flexible. There are too many variables to determine why or when companies should implement flexible working into their model.

Does the size of the company play a role? Does it depend on the nature of the work or industry they are in? Does flexible work offer the solution for a perfect work-life balance?

Digitalisation is changing the workplace, but to what extent is still unknown.

MOVE OVER MILLENNIALS, GEN-Z IS IN TOWN

Millennials move over, there’s a new generation in town and brands are swiftly stepping up their efforts to resonate with this latest group of consumers to hit the high street.

Born during the period mid-1990s – mid-2000s (source: Independent), the preferences of ‘Generation Z’ will play a fundamental role in shaping the future of organisations across the globe.

While millennials put the wheels in motion with a focus on healthier lifestyles and environmental impact, ‘Gen Z’ take this a step further, voting with their feet and actively seeking out companies whose values align with their own.

Disrupting the norms that have long governed a number of industries, businesses must now adapt to fulfil the needs of this group who are quickly rising up through the ranks.

Ethical integrity and environmental sustainability

Placing sustainability high on their list of priorities, this latest cohort of consumers are shaking up big businesses, forcing them to become accountable for the impact that their practises have – not just on the environment, but on their workforce too.

Single use plastic is likely to continue to cause debate, while issues of fair trade and responsible manufacturing are sure to follow suit.

Embrace a more diverse range of diets

Having initially gained momentum amongst millennials, the rise of vegetarian and vegan diets continues amongst Generation Z.

In a further demonstration of this group’s ethical stance, not only is eating meat felt to be unnecessary, it is also detrimental for the planet – something that, thankfully, this generation hold in high regard.

Factor in the importance of a healthy lifestyle

Mindfulness and mental health, issues which were rarely discussed just a short number of years ago, are now staple topics in schools, workplaces and homes across the country.

Following on from millennials who have positioned workplace culture and benefits as increasingly important factors, as Generation Z enters the workforce this is likely to continue with a keen focus on work/life balance and an open attitude towards mental health.

Be authentic

As society takes positive strides forward in its attitude towards difference, future generations are bound to be more likely to embrace their uniqueness.

Increased acceptance and tolerance of differences will hopefully lead to a more diverse society where everyone is free to be themselves.

Overt branding is less important

According to The Drum, overt advertising is a turn off for Gen Z. Recognising this shift in perspective,  Doritos has launched its ‘Another Level’ campaign which has seen the brand remove its logo from advertising and social content, instead relying on its other identifiable features such as the distinctive triangular chip and bag colours.

Brands such as Starbucks and Mastercard have made their own changes, preferring for their logos to be displayed without the accompanying wordmark. Though not detailed as a move motivated by up-and-coming generations, it is likely to play some part in the modernisation of each business’ approach.

What’s more, with Generation Z expected to make up a staggering 40% of the global population by 2020 (source: Independent), it will certainly be interesting to see how businesses adapt to meet the demands of this up-and-coming generation of savvy shoppers.

MEDIA RELATIONS: WHEN PRESS AND PR PROFESSIONALS COLLIDE

Now that I have completed six months of agency life, I feel fairly confident in saying that I am much more settled into my PR role following a rather steep learning curve. The transition from journalism to PR is without a doubt a challenging one to undertake!

The varied nature of working in PR can be extremely rewarding, exciting and educational, but consequently it is also a demanding job that constantly pushes me on a daily basis. It may be no surprise, however, that the biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is learning how to navigate the delicate intricacies of media relations.

With the emergence of ‘Fake News’, the instant ability to share information across social media and a gradual decrease in the number of working journalist, it could be argued that the art of ‘selling’ a press release or news story to the media is no longer a necessity. However, as someone who has experienced this process from both sides of the tracks, I can’t emphasise enough that it can still be extremely valuable.

Like many industries across the globe, journalism has been forced to evolve and adapt due to the ongoing digital transformation. As a result, however, a lot less journalists are working but a lot more content is being created. So, journalists are busy to say the least. I still vividly remember the dreaded feeling of opening up my inbox on a morning to discover that 300+ emails have found their way inside, and only to scour my way through to discover that less than half are of any relevance at all. It is just time wasted.

On the other side of the conversation, I’ve also experienced the hard work that goes into the process of getting a press release across to the journalist. As a PR professional, I write the copy, send over to the client and wait for feedback, make further amendments, get final approval and then find a photograph. But once again, this could all be time wasted if I just send across an email, hoping that the journalist will choose to open it amid all the unwanted spam they receive throughout the day!

The easiest remedy to for this painful process consists of two very simple steps.

First of all, never send a press release early in the morning; journalists are far too preoccupied with checking stock market listings; checking any overnight breaking news announcements; collating stories they covered the day prior and sending out the daily email newsletter to their list of loyal subscribers.

This is a critical time for a journalist, and unfortunately, if the press release being sent across doesn’t solve Brexit, then it isn’t going to get a look in. Following this is their time to annihilate the inbox, where journalists will be red faced and at risk of suffering with a repetitive finger injury from clicking delete repeatedly.

So, I always try to send a press release either late in the morning or early afternoon, as this can often be their calmest part of the day.

Secondly, which I believe is the single-most important element of this entire process, is picking up the phone and speaking with a journalist either before or after the press release is sent over.

Despite what journalists may say, I always found this extremely useful as it immediately directed me to an email/press release which I may have otherwise missed. Additionally, this also gives the journalist to ask any specific questions about the story, which could prove to be crucial to getting it published.

If nothing else, speaking on the phone at least gives you chance to develop relationships with members of the press for any future opportunities which may arise. As well as promoting your clients as reliable contacts for the media, you should also work to establish your agency as a reputable and reliable source. So pick up the phone!!!

MY FIRST PR CAMPAIGN

First PR Campaign

September marked a memorable milestone in my career; I was given the opportunity to work on my very first PR campaign.

Entrusted with the responsibility of bringing a client’s vision to life was undoubtedly a daunting one, however seeing my plans put into action was a truly rewarding experience. My contribution to the campaign not only improved my knowledge on how the process works but also public relations overall.

Here is what I learnt –

Research is the unsung hero of PR

Press releases, content writing and social media maybe pillars of Public Relations, but it is research that lays the foundation for everything we do.

From initial planning stages to execution, every effective PR campaign must have research at the forefront of all decision making. Overlooking the importance of it can lead to unwanted repercussions and essentially damage a brands reputation.

In contrast, when done correctly, research provides countless benefits. It is not only a vital tool for targeting the right audiences, influencers and journalists, research also helps to prepare for all eventualities that may or may not occur.

Every decision in PR is accompanied with better and worse options. Research is what helps to determine which approach is most appropriate.

Ideas are always welcome

Regardless of how big or small a campaign may be, new and creative ideas are always appreciated.

Although expressing ideas as a PR newbie was slightly intimidating, I soon recognised that the team at Open Comms encouraged original thoughts and valued all suggestions. The philosophy here is that no idea is a bad idea.

PR requires out of the box thinking and notions that gain attraction. Ideas can be expanded, reduced and inspire other ideas. So, simply because a suggestion may see farfetched or perhaps not big enough, are not reasons as to why it should not be expressed.

Expect the unexpected and prepare for the worst

While no one wants to fixate on all the things that could go wrong, an effective campaign is one that evaluates all negative possibilities and is equipped to respond accordingly.

Operating in an especially unpredictable world, it is essential to prepare for the what ifs. Without correct preparation and planning in place, a campaign cannot cope or adapt to challenging situations. Whereas covering every outcome (with a HEAP of creativity) has the potential to minimise any negative impact on a client.

I have always known that a client’s reputation is the number one priority in PR but now I also understand that for this to be true, risk management and robust scenario planning are key.

YORKSHIRE PASSION PACKAGED DIFFERENTLY

I’ve always felt passionate about being from Yorkshire. The distinct accent, rich history, beautiful scenery and, of course, a plentiful choice of pubs are just a few of the many reason why our region really does deserve the moniker ‘God’s Own County’.

As the biggest county in the UK, Yorkshire is home to numerous towns, villages and several major cities, which are all supported by a diverse and growing economy. The region is without question a hotbed for all different kinds of activity.

But one major aspect of Yorkshire that can be overlooked is its vast cultural offering, and the beating heart of this is arguably situated in the district of Wakefield.

Although culture may not be synonymous with this area, this past summer I attended a unique event which is aiming to promote the many different venues, businesses and experiences across Wakefield and the five towns through the impact of providing a positive customer service.

Hosted by the Wakefield Cultural Consortium, the collective of cultural venues and organisations from across the district, the Yorkshire Passion programme comprised two short plays and a film written by globally acclaimed playwright, John Godber.

The first part of the play saw three actors perform a variety of roles in a production that centred around the awful customer service someone experienced during their first visit to Wakefield. After having negative experiences with the district’s taxi drivers, hotel staff, museum tour guides and café owners, the first-time visitor pledged never to visit the area again.

In what was an extremely entertaining and well-acted performance, John Godber and the actors cleverly demonstrated how the people who live and work in the district play a major role in the promotion of the area.

The district currently attracts 8 million visitors that contribute £448 million to the local economy each year, supporting no fewer than 8,000 jobs. These figures are supported through the cultural destinations of Wakefield, which include the The Hepworth Wakefield, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the National Coal Mining Museum for England, Theatre Royal Wakefield, Xscape Yorkshire and The Art House, to name a few.

The success of these organisations depends on the number of visitors they attract. The programme suggested that if a consistently high level of customer service is provided, this will not only encourage visitors to come back, but also attract new people to the district.

With that being said, the second part of the play saw the three actors play the exact same roles, but this time the first-time visitor experienced extremely positive customer service. The play clearly showed how this visitor was satisfied with his trip to Wakefield and will look to return in the not too distant future.

The message was clear, the people who live and work in Wakefield need to act as ambassadors for their district and show off all that it has to offer.

For someone who has lived in this district all his life, I had no idea that there was such a rich and diverse mix of cultural destinations on offer.

SOCIAL MEDIA: WHERE THE PROBLEM LIES (IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE)

I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels more than a little duped every time I check in to the other realm and review one of the many social media channels that are available to us.

In fact, I’m quite convinced that many of the people who appear to live their entire lives on said platforms are effectively residing in a parallel universe. You see, when I bump into them in the street, they certainly do not reflect the image that they are falsely portraying to me, MI5 or anyone else who might happen to take a glimmer of interest in their profile.

While a ‘photo-shopped-within-an-inch-of-its-life’ photo is probably a great tactic for those who are evading a life of crime, it’s hard not to despair about the ideals that this sets for the rest of us mere mortals.

What’s more, as the photos continue to blur so too does the line between reality and how we portray our lives online. After all, most of us know that the filtering doesn’t just stop at images; our whole internet existence is governed by a different type of filter which influences what parts of our lives we share on the web.

Life through a filter

Though some photo enhancements might be obvious, when it comes to extracting the true picture it’s far more difficult than we could ever have previously imagined. Not only have we become accustomed to sharing our best angles, we also seem to have been conditioned to put on a brave face, sharing only the best parts of our lives with others.

Our holiday snaps don’t show the rain that blighted what was meant to be a relaxing beachside break or the hotel that wasn’t deemed ‘instagrammable’ enough. Instead, we project only the most jealousy inducing, picture perfect views, which, in the most part, have little to do with our real, everyday lives.

Fantasy or reality?

Having started primarily as a way to get to know one another better and to share memories with friends old and new, it’s hard not to feel that the purpose of social media has changed somewhat during its relatively short life span.

Now, rather than a place to show our true selves and update friends and family across the globe, it could be argued that our online lives are a form of escapism which offers a place to be whatever we please, with little to no restrictions.

When reality hits

Just as quickly as perfection took over, thank goodness there appears to be another, far more realistic trend in town. Taking things a step further than ‘#nofilter’ which continues to do the rounds, ‘social media vs reality’ has taken the online world by storm.

Leading the way with messages of body positivity and a rejection of the principles that have plagued our social media existences for so long, this movement is starting to gain real momentum.

Finally, the array of airbrushed, moody selfies are interspersed with those that celebrate something far closer to reality. Bare-faced shots showing blemished complexions, natural images that put stretch marks in the spotlight and people of all shapes and sizes ‘living their best lives’ signal a break from the conventions that have dictated what’s accepted as relevant online.

Doing it for the ‘gram’

Although I’m reluctant to be cynical about what appears to be a positive development in attitudes to what should be shared, it will be interesting to see whether this trend continues or whether it’s just another elaborate example of a very real issue being exploited for the purpose of ‘likes’.

For the sake of the next generation, I really hope it represents a future where we can all be a little more authentic.

POST-GRADUATION BLUES: A TEST OF ENDURANCE

The transition from university to professional life is often accompanied with glaring self-doubt and concerns about the future. A feeling exclusive to graduates and a cycle that starts every July, post-graduation anxiety is a real struggle!

Although it’s been many months since I walked across the podium, I can still remember the uncertainty that took over as I embarked on my journey into unfamiliar territory.

But, fast forward a year, I am now part of an incredible team, fulfilling the position of Junior Account Executive. While I’ve only been here at Open Comms for a short time, I have already learnt a tremendous amount, developing both professionally and personally.

So, from someone who’s been there and done that I can happily confirm that there is light at the end of the tunnel! The path may seem bleak at times and maintaining motivation can be challenging but you have to trust the process. Yes, this is easier said than done, but there are ways to stay positive during a tricky time in life.

Reflect on your successes

I often found myself fixated on all the things I had yet to achieve, especially because life seemed to be at a halt. If you find yourself in this very predicament it’s time to take a step back and reflect on your achievements.

Graduating from university is not an easy task, it requires determination, perseverance and a lot of hard work, so if you got through it, remember to acknowledge that!

Switch off sometimes

Regardless of how you do it, it’s important to take a break from thinking. For me it’s when I’m at the gym or engrossed in a Netflix special. The mind is our most powerful tool; it can elevate us into positivity but also drown us with worry. Taking a break simply allows us to end any pesky negative thought loops and focus our energy into something else, even if it is for a short while.

Don’t compare yourself to others

A common mistake and an easy trap to fall into is comparing ourselves to our peers. Allowing others to set a benchmark for success only derails us from achieving the very best of our OWN dynamic abilities.

Talk it out

Perhaps not an easy option for some, but personally I have always found significant relief after talking about my worries with friends and family. Like the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved. Simple conversations with loved ones can offer different perspectives and help us view things more clearly.

My experience with post-graduation anxiety lasted almost a year, but I’m thrilled to say those days are behind me. I hope for anyone who might be in the position I was, there is comfort in knowing that the negative feelings do not last forever.

In a world of possibility, graduation is just the start of an exciting journey filled with opportunity! Enjoy it.

ELEVEN YEARS AND COUNTING

As I write this blog I am filled with a mixture of emotions: nostalgia, as I look back to where we started; pride, at our journey so far; relief, that we made it through some tough times and a sense of immense achievement, that our experiences good and bad have only served to make us stronger.

The story starts in 2008 over a couple of bottles of wine. As two PR professionals with years of experience, we were tired of our day jobs and wanted to start out alone. We had very different approaches to work but the same values. It was this that would be the deciding factor and would see us launch Open Communications, a PR agency based in Wakefield.

I still remember how exciting it was and the encouragement we received from those we told before our official launch. When we commissioned the design for our branding and website, it all became real and was the start of so much more than a business.

A lot can change for a PR agency in eleven years, but I am thankful that those changes have shaped us to become the people and the business that we are today.

Personal development

People often ask what we have learnt, and it is impossible to share everything. Every day is a new opportunity to learn something new or to adapt an approach to get a better outcome either for a client or the agency.

For me, having a business has been a challenging journey that has pushed me harder than I ever would have imagined. It wasn’t the things we could plan for, it was recognising that change was inevitable if we were to survive.

Being overtly self-aware isn’t something I find comfortable as I know that it will mean having to reflect on the positive and negative attributes to my personality. Over the years I have learnt to appreciate the need to be more open, aware and accepting of others, even if I don’t agree with what they have to share. This can be difficult, but it is something that I must take on board as part of my own personal development. After all, how can I be the best role model to others if I am unwilling to work on my own weaknesses.

In many respects, having witnessed how those that inspire me most are also that those accept and apply the lessons they learn from others, whatever stage of their own journey, has given me the encouragement I need. Being stubborn and resistant often leads to a single outcome; stubborn-indifference.

Sharing success

We have worked with some incredible brands over the years and delivered some amazing campaigns and projects that have delivered outstanding results. I’m not embarrassed to shout about our success because we have earned it. Nothing has come easy but then I don’t think we would value it as much if it had.

This year has been a momentous one for Open Communications. We have trebled the size of our office space with a move to Wakefield city centre; appointed three new members of staff; secured three new clients and are still standing to tell the tale!

What’s more, we have some really exciting plans for the future and that includes new ways of working with businesses to provide greater access to PR, content marketing and social media support. A further example of how we continue to evolve and to challenge our own thinking as an agency. There’s no time for getting bored.

Thank you

As we celebrate eleven years in business, we can look back at all that we have achieved with a smile. We’ve come along way and there is an exciting road ahead, but the most important thing to me is that we started out as two friends with an ambition, and eleven years on that is still the case.

I think I speak on behalf of us both when I say thank you. Without our amazing network of colleagues, clients, suppliers, family and friends we wouldn’t be where we are today.

When we sat down to plan our business, values were of upmost importance to us both and we decided that rather than try to be something we are not, we would set our cards on the table and work with those that wanted a straight-talking PR agency that would get the job done and do it well.

Many things have changed over the years, but those guiding principles remain the same. As we raise a glass to the past eleven years, we hope that you will join us in celebrating what is to come as we look forward to what lies ahead.

Cheers!