Tag: awards

AWARDS: WORTH THE WAIT OR A WASTE OF TIME

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It’s awards season and that means finding out if all of the hard work earlier in the year was worthwhile or if you have to sit tight and wait until next year to submit again.  It also means finding a different dress for each event but I’ll save that fiasco for another blog. FYI: Quiz at Junction 32 is my ‘go to’ for all the ladies out there that are struggling – you’re welcome, always happy to help! 

Anyhow, back to the blog in hand, it can be a nerve-wracking time, not least because as well as our own time – which has to be allocated to the research, copy writing and submissions process – we require input from the client and often their wider teams. 

The awards process, depending on which you choose and usually if they are regional or national – isn’t always straight forward. As well as 1,000 words you can also be required to provide supplementary evidence to support your entry, along with the obligatory photographs and biog about the business or individual you are nominating. 

What is great about putting submissions together is that you learn so much about the companies that you work with. Being responsible for the reputation of a business often means that you have access to information that others may not, but when it comes to awards you get a real insight into the great and good. 

Just recently I was putting together some copy for a client and it was a real reminder of what a difference this individual had made. When we were looking at the facts and figures, it was quite astounding and thankfully the judges thought so too as Geoff Shepherd, the founding director of iSource Group and the Yorkshire Mafia, won the Judges Special Award at the Institute of Directors Awards last month. 

Natasha accepting the Judges Special Award at the IoD event on behalf of Geoff Shepherd.

Natasha accepting the Judges Special Award at the IoD event on behalf of Geoff Shepherd.

Why bother when you’ve got a business to run

Interestingly, there are three types of client; those that want to enter as many awards as they can, those that prefer to be more selective and those that don’t want anything to do with them. 

I never really understand the latter and I’ll explain why. 

Awards take time and if you want to put together the strongest entry possible then they can be hard work but the rewards, in my opinion, outweigh this time and time again. Not only are the events a great way to bring together a team – and in particular those that may not work together day to day – but they also deliver credibility by association. 

It’s not all about dressing up and having too many glasses of fizz, the impact of awards is evident long after the event is over. 

As an agency we never do anything without it having a purpose and meeting with an objective and when it comes to awards it’s about building profile and also an employer brand. Awards are often an indication that a business is doing well, and that attracts talent. 

People want to work for a business that is trusted and respected in the market and awards are often a great way of showcasing the quality of the products and services that a company delivers. Furthermore, most nominations are independently judged, making it all the more exciting when your submission is successful. 

Coalfields Regeneration Trust winning the Community category at the Yorkshire Post Excellence in Business

Coalfields Regeneration Trust winning the Community category at the Yorkshire Post Excellence in Business

Celebrating success

I’m very pleased at this point to say that we have an excellent success rate when it comes to awards and you would probably hope that this was the case given that it’s part of our day job but not every entry makes it to the stage and that can be crushing, especially when you know the team is deserving of the recognition. 

What always surprises me is that way that people respond. It differs from business to business, but I have to admit those that really embrace the moment and show their excitement without compromise are those I enjoy most. 

We are often asked to attend the awards with clients – which is a lovely gesture and not something we take for granted – but one occasion that stands out to me was when Paragon ID won the Yorkshire Post Excellence in Business Awards in the Turnaround category. 

The team just didn’t see it coming and their collective reaction was simply joyous. It was a pleasure to be with them, although the headache the next day wasn’t quite so welcomed. 

Haydn - looking a little bit like James Bond - accepting his Top 30 under 30 accolade.

Haydn – looking a little bit like James Bond – accepting his Top 30 under 30 accolade.

What awards to enter

You can enter any awards that you want but we always question what the objective is. 

Some people enter everything and for me that devalues the return you will get. If you will go to the opening of an envelope, or as I’ve experienced recently, if someone says you’ve won an award and all you need to do is pay for the ‘silverware’ then it’s probably not going to add any value. 

I had a client say that anything could be on a piece of glass – even an award for getting out of bed on a morning – and people never check so assume it’s for something impressive, but my argument was why would you need to do that if you believe in the products and services that you are offering. 

When choosing awards you should follow five simple steps:

  1. Review the categories and see if there is one that would fit your business
  2. Take the time to look over past winners, this will give you an indication of those that have been successful in the past, their size and scale
  3. Consider if you have the time and resource required to submit a winning entry
  4. Think carefully about who will be in the room; clients, prospects or competitors
  5. Put objectives in place so that awards serve a purpose. It could be simply to build profile in a given location, to give your brand a national platform, to commend performance or to attract talent. 

It’s also worth noting that some awards come at a cost – not just the events but the actual submissions – so this should be a further consideration. Without being negative, you need to decide if you can afford to lose that budget if you are not shortlisted. 

Henry from Ring accepting the Made in Yorkshire Award.

Henry from Ring accepting the Made in Yorkshire Award.

You’re a winner, shout about it

It’s really frustrating when you put the effort into a great award submission, your client is successful and then you hear nothing more about it. Companies don’t enter awards to keep their success a secret – they do it to gain the recognition they feel they deserve, so when you win shout about it. 

Make sure that you make the most of the opportunity. There are a number of ways you can do this including:

  1. Draft a press release to announce that you have been named ‘great business of the year’ and share it with your local and trade media. Remember that many awards are hosted by media and they consider other publications to be competitors so won’t cover a story about a rival medium.
  2. Share an update on your website and extend this across social media.
  3. Create some owned content and ‘interview’ someone that attended and capture their thoughts and feelings. This can add personality and also give someone who doesn’t often get the chance an opportunity to share their thoughts.
  4. Put a footer on your emails to make people aware that you were shortlisted or that you won. This is a really subtle way of capturing attention and a constant reminder to everyone you engage with that you have been commended and recognised for your work. 
Open Communications accepting the highly commended award for best new business.

Open Communications accepting the highly commended award for best new business.

Don’t take them too seriously

Awards are great, but people can take them too seriously. It’s important to practice your ‘game face’ when you attend awards and not take it too personally if you don’t get the result that you were hoping for. There is always next year, and it can take a couple of attempts to finally get your hands on that trophy. 

If you do find that you have been pipped to the post, it’s always a good idea to congratulate the winner. You never know, in some instances they could be a prospective customer and thanks to the award submission you now have something in common.

OPEN TIPPED FOR THE TOP AT INDUSTRY AWARDS

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We are very pleased to announce that we have been shortlisted for two industry accolades; Outstanding Small PR Consultancy and Not-For-Profit Campaign at this year’s Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) PRide Awards. 

Celebrating nine-years since we launched in September, Open Comms will come up against some tough competition when we attend the awards event, which will bring together the great and good of the PR industry on the 30 November at Leeds Town Hall. 

As well as providing a submission for Outstanding Small PR Consultancy, we also used evidence of the results we have achieved for our client the Coalfields Regeneration Trust. Having worked alongside the team for more than four years, we are really pleased that our submission now features on the shortlist for the Not-For-Profit Campaign of the year. 

Director of Open Communications, Emma Lupton comments: “We are very pleased to have our work acknowledged and to gain the recognition that comes from being shortlisted at the CIPR PRide Awards. We are very proud of the campaigns that we produce and also of the team here at Open. 

“Since we launched in 2008 we have built our reputation as a trusted partner to our clients and know that the awards will reinforce that credibility. As the leading industry awards for the PR sector it means a great deal to us that we have been shortlisted in the two categories we entered. Fingers crossed we will be a winning team on the night.”

Open Communications, based at Nostell Priory Estate Yard, works with a portfolio of clients from across a range of industries including FMCG, food, retail, recruitment, architecture, print and technology, housing, third sector and legal. 

Celebrating the great and good of Wakefield

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Last Thursday, 22 June, we had the pleasure of attending the Wakefield Express, Wakefield District Business Awards. We were invited as guests by our client, HARIBO, who also sponsored the New Business of the Year award.

It has been said many times before that Wakefield can suffer from not shouting loud enough about its achievements and the many opportunities that the District presents for businesses of all sizes. Thankfully, this was one event that would champion companies and individuals from across a range of sectors who have made a difference and reported some excellent results.

After a delicious three-course meal it was up to host, Jon Hammond, to make the introductions and to welcome all of the sponsors and shortlisted businesses in the room. It certainly wasn’t a quiet affair and there was lots of whooping and drumming on the tables as the finalists were each announced.

 

The results were as follows:

–          Business of the year, OE Electrics

–          New business of the year, Heart Medical

–          Small to medium sized business of the year, Mint Support

–          Business person of the year, David Owens

–          Start-up business, Pop-up North

–          Customer service award, Room 97

–          Employee of the year, Pat Coffey

–          Independent retailer of the year, Bier Huis

–          National retailer of the year, Debenhams

–          International business of the year, Planet Platforms

–          Independent evening retailer of the year, Qubana

–          People’s Choice Award, Airedale Computers

–          Lifetime Achievement Award, Richard Donner

 

It goes without saying that all of the winners were very deserving of their accolades and for me, the event really showcased the diversity of the companies that call the District their home. It was really enlightening to hear from some new businesses too and to hear more about what products and services they offer.

As a Wakefield based PR agency, we have seen some significant changes over recent years and that is what makes the District such an interesting place. Unlike other Yorkshire cities, Wakefield is on a journey and the regeneration of the area is a testament to those who see the potential that it has.

This was just one occasion where the great and good came together to share the success of others and I’m very pleased that we had the chance to be a part of it. We would like to extend our congratulations to all those who were shortlisted and of course the winners on the evening.
We look forward to meeting with many of you over the coming months.

Celebrating Children of Achievement in Wakefield

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It’s no secret that as a Wakefield based PR agency we support local charitable initiatives and events when we can. Not only do we feel that it is the right thing to do as a business – to give something back – but it also means that as individuals we can contribute our time and skills to make a positive difference.

Most recently, I have joined the board of WACCL (Wakefield Annual Charity Christmas Lunch) and have been working with a great group of people to arrange the Children of Achievement Awards. This will be the only event of its kind to take place in the Wakefield District that will be dedicated to children and will celebrate their talents and bravery.

Like most people, I feel it is important that we take the time to reward young people, to encourage them and to give other children – and adults for that matter – the opportunity to learn by example.

At present we are working furiously behind the scenes to pull together the finer details and to make sure that this is an event that the nine winning children will never forget. It is shaping up to be a real show stopper with lots of surprises!  

This is where you just might be able to lend a hand.

We are looking for companies that would like to become sponsors and businesses that would like to attend the event, which will take place on Friday 9 June at Cedar Court Hotel in Wakefield.

Sponsorship is just £1,000 and for this you will get a table for ten, plus your branding and messaging across all marketing materials including digital media displays and videos that will be shown throughout the evening. In addition, you will also have your time to shine as we ask that you take to the stage to hand over your category award.  

Tables of ten are only £500 and you can expect a champagne reception, a three-course meal and a fun-filled evening with family, friends and colleagues.

Finally, we are looking for nominations, after all this event is all about the young people from our district who have gone above and beyond, so we want to make sure that we are showcasing the amazing individuals who are most deserving of each award. Please be sure to send across the details of anyone you feel could be worthy.

We really do hope that you will take the time to come along, to show your support, to join us and to put forward your nominations. We know that with your help we can make this event a HUGE success and that it will become an annual celebration to reward Wakefield’s Children of Achievement.

For more details or to book a table please email info@waccl.co.uk.

Celebrating our clients’ successes

header-4Image taken from TheBusinessDesk.com

As an agency, there is one thing that we can definitely be accused of – we get just as excited over the successes that our client’s share as we do our own achievements. We know that this is because we genuinely become an extension of their teams, but it also makes our hard work all the more rewarding.

And that is why we are looking forward to TheBusinessDesk.com Yorkshire Business Masters Awards, which take place in Leeds on Thursday evening. Not only do we have two clients that have been shortlisted across three awards but we have also been invited to attend and to join in with the celebrations.

BemroseBooth Paragon, the specialist ticketing supplier and provider of smart enabled applications, has been shortlisted for two awards; Innovation and International Business, whilst iSource Group, the national IT and procurement recruitment specialist, is hoping to top the tables as Business Master in Contributing to the Community.

Now, we have to be clear, there is no doubt that we are biased, but both of these organisations would be very worthy winners. Not only are they progressive businesses that push boundaries, they are also great to work with.

The competition is undoubtedly fierce but we think that they are both in with a really good chance of bringing home a super shiny trophy to take pride of place in the display cabinet!

So, now all we need to do is decide what to wear – easier said than done – and keep our fingers crossed. We will certainly update with the results and hope to be finishing the week off on an award-winning high.

We’ll keep you posted.

AWARDS; GLORY HUNTING OR THE RECOGNITION YOU DESERVE

Whatever industry you work in there will be an awards ceremony that celebrates the success of the great and good in your sector. The same can be said for PR and I am really pleased to announce that Open Communications has been shortlisted for the Not For Profit category at the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire PRide Awards.

The awards take place tomorrow (Thursday 17 November) evening at The Queen’s Hotel in Leeds and will bring together hundreds of people from businesses and agencies throughout the two regions.

It has taken us eight years to enter the awards, not because we didn’t feel that our work was of a standard to be recognised but because, if we’re honest, we’ve spent more time submitting and winning awards for our clients.

It was only during a meeting earlier in the year that a client asked why we don’t practice what we preach, and I realised that actually awards for our own work should be as important as those of the brands that we work with.

So, what was stopping us?

Well, to be honest, we’ve never really felt that we needed awards to prove that we could do a good job – the evidence is in the results that we achieve. Then there was the fact that some awards make you feel like you’re simply glory hunting and again this isn’t really our style.

But, when it comes down to it awards do give a credibility by association and you have to be in them to win them! So, is it glory hunting or are you simply getting the recognition you deserve for the results you work so hard to achieve.

It wasn’t difficult to come up with a conclusive answer and so, we put pen to paper.

The challenge then was what to submit? We are very proud of the work that we produce and the results that we get for our clients so it was a difficult choice. We decided that we would focus on the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, the only organisation dedicated to former mining towns and villages throughout the country.

We have worked alongside the team at the Coalfields Regeneration Trust for more than 2 years now and have secured hundreds of pieces of coverage, which in turn has communicated with millions of people throughout the UK.

The results are consistently strong and as a result of our work communications is very much an agenda point around the board room table. We’ve even been invited to share our work with the trustees – which is a real achievement.

We have worked with the team to develop a tone of voice, aligned their messaging and revised their three-year strategy. We have also shaped their brand and vision for the future and changed the way that they communicate with different audiences to make sure they get the return on investment both from us and their own efforts.

Although we are confident with the results we have achieved, leading the organisation most recently to secure a Yorkshire Post Excellence in Business Award (2016), we know that it can go either way.

We have everything crossed and know that even if we don’t win, we have done a fantastic job and will continue to deliver for the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, evolving the way that they communicate to make sure as many people as possible understand what they are trying to achieve.

That said, we’ve cleared a space on our shelf (just in case) and hope to be updating the blog with pictures of Open Communications as we pick up our very first PRide award.

Wish us luck!

Open adds to the awards cabinet

Some years ago now, when I was taking a BA(hons) PR degree at Leeds Metropolitan University, it was explained to a lecture room full of under-graduates that if we really wanted to make a success of our PR careers we would have to go to London.

There were a couple of problems with this statement; firstly, I didn’t want to go to London and secondly, for anyone who knows me, you will agree that I simply don’t fit into the mold that is often expected of PR people in the capital – and certainly not back then!

Instead, I took my bloody-minded attitude and focused on doing what I wanted to do best – forge a career in Yorkshire, the largest county in the country and a region that I believe is home to some of the UK’s most successful, innovative and forward thinking entrepreneurs.

More than 15 years later, I was sat at my desk – trying to get to the bottom of my ever increasing ‘to do’ list – and a letter arrived announcing that I had been acknowledged as one of the regions 42 leading entrepreneurs under 42 – what an accolade.

The letter explained that the annual 42 under 42 Entrepreneur Awards was created to showcase the brightest local talent, whilst bringing together the next generation of business leaders, who have helped to bolster the Yorkshire economy through innovation, expertise and investment.

This was a real achievement for Open Communications – not for me – but for the team and in particular my business partner, Emma. You see, every award, accolade, achievement and testimonial at Open Communications is down to team work and is absolutely as a result of a decision that we made more than 5 years ago; to go it alone – but to do it together.

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I believe wholeheartedly that this accolade comes as a result of the consistent approach that we take at Open Communications to clients, which includes our ‘no air kissing’ policy, which is just one of the values that forms part of the solid foundations of the business that we have today.

It goes without saying that it is a real privilege to be acknowledged as one of the leading entrepreneurs in the region and it’s not something I would ever have expected. There is little doubt that the success of the agency is down to our no-nonsense approach to PR and marketing communications but more importantly to simple hard work.

The PR industry has suffered from a terrible reputation that isn’t entirely unwarranted; going back to my first comments about having to go to London to have a career within the industry gives you a glimpse of ‘the good old days’ and an attitude that thankfully has waned over the years.

When we launched Open Communications back in 2008, we set out to work as an extension of our clients’ teams and to deliver creative campaigns that add real value. As a growing and ambitious team, I am extremely proud of the campaigns that we produce and the clients that we work alongside.

In an attempt to turn the PR industry on its head we set out to provide clients of all sizes with a straight talking agency that would deliver results driven campaigns that would meet with objectives.

Almost six years later and we are a five-strong team, working with a range of clients from a variety of sectors including KP Snacks, HARIBO, The Ridings Shopping Centre, Xamax, Paragon and Abdul’s Indian takeaway and diner.

So, well done team Open. Here’s to many more successes along the way.

An award that REALLY means something

12.20.13 AwardOn Tuesday evening we had the pleasure of attending an event with our client KP Snacks. Like many events, we got suited and booted – dresses out and heels on, even a touch of lippy! – and looked forward to spending a relaxing evening with good food, a glass or two of wine and great company.

What we didn’t expect at this event was to be presented with an award!

What our client had failed to inform us is that they had chosen Open Communications as their Agency Partner of the Year for 2013 following the on-going PR and social media support we provide for POM-BEAR, the fun shaped snack brand.

We have to be honest now – POM-BEAR is an excellent brand to work with and as we have some fantastic credentials within the family brands market (if we do say so ourselves) there are lots of recommendations that we can make in order to raise the profile of the business, while reiterating core messages around the product range. Better still, we also get to have some fun!

Now, we have never really chased awards, we have entered a few but it’s fair to say that we could do more in relation to putting ourselves forward to be ‘judged’ by our peers. It’s not that we are averse to them, just that there’s always something going on that is more important.

We’ve won awards in the past, but I have to admit that this was something else. It’s great to be recognised for the work that you do and the effort that you put in to campaigns BUT most importantly to be chosen by your clients and held in such strong regard that they invite you to collect an award in front of their colleagues – well, what more can we say?

We are so pleased and as you would expect very proud of the work that we have done for POM-BEAR in the last 18 months and we are really looking forward to working with the team from KP Snacks again in 2014. Now that we know that this award exists, we are even more eager to fight to retain our title!

It’s been a very positive month for Open Communications; Top 100 Agency outside of London and now Agency Partner of the Year for KP Snacks. Here’s to ending the year on a high and to many more celebrations in the twelve months ahead.

Open Communications features in Top 100 Agencies

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We are celebrating here at Open Communications after being announced by the Recommended Agency Register (RAR) as one of the Top 100 Agencies outside of London.

Featuring at number 63, a rise from 75 in 2011, we have put our performance down to strong relationships and the approach that we have to working as an extension of our clients’ teams. With retained clients of more than three years featuring among the top five brands that we work with as an agency, this approach has certainly paid off.

We never take the relationships that we have with our clients for granted. There is no doubt that we work hard to deliver on the objectives that we set and as a result we work on some fantastic campaigns that allow us to be creative and to secure excellent coverage.

We have invested in our infrastructure this year and have expanded the team quite significantly. Already we have noticed an increase in new business enquiries and we are hoping that this will be a trend that will continue throughout 2014.

Providing brands with PR, marketing communications and social media support we are proud to have reported year-on-year growth. With clients including HARIBO, POM-BEAR, Xamax, The Ridings Shopping Centre and Paragon UK, we continue to increase the number of local businesses and household brands that we work with. We hope that you will share in our excitement at being named as one of the Top 100 agencies outside of London – after just five years we think that this is a real achievement and something that we will be shouting about!

 

Can you weather proof your marketing?

You can’t really say that we’ve had a summer time yet, despite it being mid-July, in fact it feels more like some balmy extended winter. The only glimpse of sun we have had in the UK has been a random day here and there or if we really push it maybe a week.

The problem isn’t just flooding to houses and roads, burst river banks and floating cars, it goes far beyond that.  We work with a range of clients who rely on us to put together PR strategies and plans which meet with their briefs and deliver results, while achieving objectives. Not always as simple as it sounds.

As a PR and marketing communications agency, we do not profess to be all things to all people but we are a creative team and we come up with a range of ideas that the client can then choose from. Sometimes these ideas go beyond PR and include sampling, experiential and even, on occasion, suggestions for advertising campaigns or retailer engagement.

Working in this way allows us to put recommendations forward that we feel will work for the client and better still deliver a return on investment. We know that one theme can create an integrated approach, which can then be used in a number of different ways to achieve results. We also know that the ideas we propose have longevity, which can build over time, and ultimately create retention of key messages throughout the campaign period.

It would be unfair of us to suggest that we always come up with the ideas, as we work with a range of agencies and benefit from their insight and experience.  In order to make this approach work as well as it can, we hold agency days where all agencies come together and share their thoughts in order to agree the best ideas and creative routes, which are able to translate across disciplines.

So what has all this got to do with the weather?

This ‘summer’ has proven that an integrated approach to marketing and PR is absolutely essential. We have heard about the number of events that have been cancelled or rescheduled, which has impacted on sampling opportunities, sponsorship and outdoor activities.

There is nothing you can do about the rain, so in order to weather proof your marketing, by having a multi discipline approach, when one recommendation cannot be implemented as expected another can come into play, meaning a brand can have a contingency in place that will still deliver a return and build on the campaign theme.

As an example, if an activity cannot go ahead, PR activity can continue with features and press releases distributed to the media, sampling activity can take place in doors and advertising on cinema screens can reach an audience that are trying their best to get away from the wet weather.

I’m sure we are all praying for some more sunshine – and I don’t want to be the one to dismiss the fact that we may just get a summer – but on the basis that we do get more wet weather, we would advise that brands consider how they can work smarter to ensure they have a contingency in place.

The first step is to choose an agency that doesn’t simply look at quirky ideas that hit the headlines one minute and are lost the next or those who feel that winning an industry award makes for best practice – but an agency that delivers consistent results with the brand and business objectives in mind, while taking into account their disciplines and those of others.