Tag: business to business

BEHIND THE SCENES AT BUY YORKSHIRE

The Buy Yorkshire Conference

Showing support for the largest business to business event in the North

For the last eight years we have worked with the Yorkshire Mafia (YM) to provide the team that is responsible for an annual schedule of events including the Buy Yorkshire Conference with PR and social media support.

As the largest business to business event in the North, it goes without saying that it’s a busy time for us, not just on the day but in the run up to the exhibition when we spend hours liaising with speakers that will take to the stage on the big day and media that may want to come along.

There are so many reasons why this account is particularly exciting but for me securing broadcast, national and regional media coverage has to come top of the list. Some might think that’s an obvious answer but having worked in the PR industry for more than a decade you would be forgiven for thinking that the leap in my tummy when we secure a great piece of coverage may have waned over time.

Nope. Not a bit. In fact, it’s why I fell in love with PR in the first place.

Getting to know you

Coming a close second on my list of reasons to enjoy working on the Conference has to be the speakers. As the preferred PR partner for the event we are given access to each of the entrepreneurs, brand representatives and campaigners that attend and what an experience that is!

You never know who will be added to the line up next and with candidates such as Helen Pankhurst (great-granddaughter of the leader of the Suffragette movement) and Gerald Ratner (the entrepreneur that lost everything thanks to a glib comment about his products being cr*p) you can see how contrasting they can be and that makes our job all the more interesting.

A change of venue

This year the event took place at the First Direct Arena, a change from the New Dock Hall and Royal Armouries as has been the case in previous years. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure how this would work, but after taking a tour and seeing the event from above in the arena seats it didn’t disappoint.

The exhibitor stands were all in one space, which made for a vibrant and engaging showcase for delegates and it also created a camaraderie between the brands. It was great to walk around and see people having a laugh and engaging with each other as well as delegates at the event.

Never a dull moment

As the team that manage all media relations, we don’t get time to wander around, our remit on the day is to manage the media and support any interview requests, while also drafting blogs during the seminars which will be posted on the website after the Conference.

It may sound easy, but it takes a lot of work and makes for a long (but fun-filled) day.

Having access all areas means that we can pick and choose which seminars and sessions we attend, which is a real coup. Over the years I have listened to and met speakers including Michelle Mone, Ann Widdecombe, Jacqueline Gold, Nigel Farage, Alastair Campbell and more… let’s be honest, there was no way I would have bumped into these people in the street, so once again it all adds to the experience.

Working with a talented team

What astounds me most about the Conference is that the team from the YM always seem so relaxed. Whatever comes their way they just deal with it and move on to the next thing. I can’t even imagine what it is like to manage an event of this scale knowing that it takes a full year to plan, arrange and deliver.

Once again, the team did a fantastic job and this year more than ever I heard lots of positive comments that I duly passed on. The philosophy behind the YM is that we are stronger together and I have to say that working with them adds real credibility to that statement.

Practising what you preach is a big part of what we do here at Open Communications so to have clients that work by the same values makes our job all the more rewarding. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the organisers once again for bringing this fantastic event to the region and also to the individuals, brands and businesses that we worked with to pull the content together.

I’m very pleased to report that we secured coverage across national and regional media in print, online and across broadcast media. Well done team Open Comms, good work!

Now let’s get on with planning for next year’s showcase, which will have to be bigger and better than ever. We better get our thinking caps on.

Supporting the North’s leading business to business event

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When you mention the Yorkshire Mafia (YM), particularly to those outside of the region, it can be met with a surprising variety of responses; some people are shocked that an organisation exists that has such a controversial brand, others want to know more and are intrigued, what many don’t realise is that it has had an economic impact that equates conservatively to £50m.

So, love it or loathe it, the Group has made a real difference to the way that business works in Yorkshire. Geoff Shepherd, founder of the organisation, which started as a LinkedIn network in 2008, didn’t have to put his time and effort into creating a movement that would bring people together to learn, work, meet, share and do business – but he did.

For those who are not involved in the YM the philosophy is simple: Stronger Together. A strap line that has become synonymous with the Group but importantly resonates with those that really have put the theory into practice. As someone who has made some really strong business associates, met many of our preferred suppliers and has also had some of the most memorable nights out in the last eight years, I can certainly recommend the YM and all that it stands for.

When you run a small or medium sized business it can be difficult to create a network that you can trust. ‘Networking’ events can be a challenge and it’s often more about selling to each other than creating meaningful relationships that add any value and that’s where the YM and Buy Yorkshire differ. The values that underpin the Group and the Conference are to encourage like-minded people to come together and to get to know each other. What happens next is then up to you but more often than not, once a trust is formed you start to find ways in which you can help each other, which in turn leads to new business or opportunities.

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The Buy Yorkshire Conference takes place on the 16 and 17 May at the Royal Armouries in Leeds and as the preferred PR agency supporting the event, we know just how much time, effort and commitment go into making it bigger and better each year, which is no mean feat.

Here at Open Comms we have been involved with the YM for a number of years and have supported the Conference since its launch. What has always amazed me is the quality of speakers that the event attracts to the region – there is no other business event that can claim to do the same.

This year is a further example with Deliveroo, LEGO, Channel 4, Just Eat, Uber and Google all headlining. What’s even more exciting is that this isn’t an exhaustive list and delegates – who can register for free – can also expect to see the Billion Pound Panel and Jonathan Pie, the spoof political reporter that has taken social media by storm!

I really enjoy the two-days at the Conference, not least because it is a chance to get out of the office and to meet with some familiar faces while meeting new people too. As you would expect, there is a lot for us to do in the run-up to the event, but what I really champion is the hard work and dedication of the YM team, who are rarely thanked by the thousands of people who attend the show.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank them all. They do a great job to pull out all of the stops to make the Buy Yorkshire Conference an annual event that people talk about for months and look forward to each year.

For those exhibiting at this year’s event, please do make a point of coming to meet with us. There will be representatives from Open Comms available throughout the two days and as well as listening to the speakers and drafting blogs to give those who don’t manage to come along some insight, we would also like to hear from those who are taking stands.

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The diversity of people who come along to the event speaks for itself so we look forward to meeting with the many and varied businesses that champion Yorkshire as a place to meet, learn, share and do business together. For those who want to learn more about how to do business differently in Yorkshire, come along and experience:

  • 2 days
  • 2 exhibition halls
  • 20+ speakers
  • 185 exhibition stands
  • 4,000+ registered delegates
  • A full programme of seminars, panels and workshops

For further details about the Buy Yorkshire Conference, including the speaker line-up and exhibitors please visit www.buyyorkshire.com.

 

Keeping it lean

Managing the PR for a number of business to business clients, across a range of sectors, we hear a lot about lean manufacturing. Lean manufacturing isn’t a new concept but it is certainly an interesting one and can deliver huge benefits to business, not least the money that can be saved as a result of applying simple changes, which make a big difference.

When speaking with clients I started to wonder if actually the principles of lean manufacturing can be applied to communications. It may be a crude suggestion, not knowing the more intricate aspects of the role of a professional who would implement lean concepts within a manufacturing setting, but I think it is worthy of further investigation.

As a starting point, communication forms the foundations of a business whatever its size. When creating a marketing strategy a company is taking the steps necessary to manage its reputation, which is arguably its biggest asset.

In doing this a business needs to focus on some key aspects of their company, these include:

–          Current position

–          Objectives

–          Target audience(s)

–          Tools that are used to communicate with audiences

When it comes to a communications strategy every business is different – we always explain to our clients at Open Communications that no size fits all when it comes to putting together a plan that will meet with specific objectives.

Whether a company is considering a communications strategy for the first time or reviewing what they already have in place and how effective it has been, what is imperative is that they set the foundations from which to build and evolve.

This is where I believe that lean principles can come into practice. If as a business you already have a marketing and communications strategy in place, when was the last time you thought to review the processes that you use?

In considering whether it is worthwhile to even consider a review of an organisation’s marketing strategy, I would challenge a company to pose the following questions to their senior team:

  1. What are the objectives of our marketing communications strategy
  2. What measures do we have in place to determine the results of our marketing campaigns
  3. How do we measure real impact
  4. What communications tools do we use
  5. Who is responsible for implementing the marketing strategy
  6. What resource are we committing to building the profile of our business

If the answer to any of these questions is ‘I don’t know’ then it is certainly time to consider a review of the processes that are – or are not – used.

Marketing communications should be discussed at boardroom level within every business, irrelevant of size. The way that you communicate with employees, suppliers, customers and prospects is absolutely fundamental to the future success of your organisation.

When working with clients, we often find that communications is dismissed because a company is too busy ‘doing the doing’. Although we can appreciate this, after all we are all busy and clients must come first, you have to stop and think:

If I am making no effort to tell people about my product and service or to shout about the success of my business, who is?

Time and resource are often the biggest concerns for companies that would like to build a strategy for marketing and communications but simply don’t have time. Again, going back to the principles of lean manufacturing, this would be a great opportunity to review what is in place and what could be implemented to show the quickest return for the least resource.

As mentioned earlier, a communications plan should evolve over time, meaning that you don’t have to do everything now. With that in mind, it may be worth a meeting with your team to determine what is in place and what needs to be considered for the future. You can then build a plan around the ‘now’, with a focus on what can be achieved moving forward.

As an agency we always suggest putting achievable targets in place that can build over time, rather than trying to do everything all at once.  Some considerations when building a plan should be:

–          How do we communicate internally

–          How should we communicate to our clients

–          What do we do to appeal to prospects

–          Do our target audiences communicate in the same way

–        What media do they read and by what medium

We are often considered as consultants by our clients and at Open Communications we host strategy sessions, which are the closest thing to applying lean principles as I have come across within the industry. We work with clients to set the foundations; to review the current ways of working and to create a strategy that will deliver the best return on investment based on resource and results.

As an agency we have hosted these sessions for over two years now and I have to say that without exception they have proven to be a huge success. Perhaps if more organisations placed the same emphasis on the significance of effective communications, as they do on manufacturing, they would gain greater value from the efforts and budgets they commit to marketing.

What we all need to remember is that the way a business chooses to communicate reflects the personality of that organisation – and knowing that people buy people this in turn reinforces the significance of having a robust plan in place, which meets with and supports the objectives and future aspirations of a company.

Next time you have a board meeting consider putting a review of marketing and communications on the agenda. I can say without hesitation or reservation that doing so will give you the opportunity to empower your workforce, raise the profile of your company and support your objectives to become the success that you hope to be.