Tag: Business

A campaign for the collective good

We were pleased to be asked to attend a very special launch this week, which took place at the Hepworth Art Gallery in Wakefield on Monday morning. Along with a room full of business people we were told about a new initiative which will ask businesses to contribute a fixed fee to become part of the Bondholder, the Diamond Scheme.

Taking learnings from Hull, which has successfully implemented a similar campaign for the last ten years, Wakefield will call upon businesses to invest their money in order to create a fund which will then be used to market the city locally, regionally and beyond. As a PR agency based in Wakefield this idea was clearly of great interest to us.

Each company that chooses to take part will receive a series of benefits including marketing materials, access to an online procurement platform and special sector specific networking events and breakfast briefings. Larger companies will also benefit as this could form part of their corporate social responsible due to the very nature of the Scheme.

The reason it is more interesting than ‘just another initiative’ is that the Scheme has been developed by public and private sector business. Not only that but a panel of 12 ambassadors will manage the ‘cash pot’ and decide where the funds should be invested – providing a completely impartial and transparent procurement process.

Needless to say this creates opportunities for Wakefield based companies to support the district, raise its profile beyond the M62 and also encourage investment locally, after all these are the businesses that share a passion for the area and have first class experience of what it has to offer.

I really like this idea and am pleased at last that Wakefield as a collective are getting off their bottom and doing something to raise the profile of the district, after all it has a huge amount to offer.  It will be interesting to see how many businesses come forward to support the initiative and I hope that those who have committed verbally will do so.

As a Wakefield based PR agency we talk a lot in the office about what more could be done to promote the district and we are hoping that the Bondholder, the Diamond Scheme will deliver on its promises to do just that. There is a hub of creative businesses within Wakefield and the five towns and the biggest frustration is that the area has so much potential but doesn’t shout about its success!

As always with things like this there are questions to be answered but at the very least something is happening that could just turn the tables for Wakefield and change perceptions about the city, which after all has a rich cultural, leisure, business and retail offering.

As the agency that supported the launch of this Scheme and secured coverage throughout regional media, we  will be watching this Scheme closely and will provide readers of our blog with updates. I’m hoping that they will be positive and other cities will be using Wakefield as an example of best practice in the months and years to come.

Have we all gone a tribunal too far?

 

It was one of those really worrying situations where you’re not sure if you’re watching a comedy, a spoof or a real life documentary. Yes people, on Tuesday evening we sat down to ‘The Call Centre’ and I am SO pleased that we did.

Firstly this is car crash TV at its very best but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be watched and enjoyed – just be warned, if you or your other half work in HR you may need a stiff drink to get you through.

For those of you who have not had the absolute pleasure, The Call Centre is real life business based in Swansea. As the name would suggest, it is a call centre employing hundreds of staff from the local area.

As you would imagine from an office of this size, there are more than your average number of characters – as if this alone wasn’t a recipe for TV documentary success, enter stage left, the owner, ‘uncle’ Nev.

We watched this programme for half an hour still debating if it was in fact real or if it was one of those strange programmes we now get where half of it is made up and half of it is ‘kind of’ realish’. As I never watch programmes that can’t make up their mind what they want to be, I was considering turning over when we ‘Googled’ (because Google is the fountain of all knowledge) and realised, despite our absolute horror and amazement, it is in fact real – every last comedy gold part of it.

So, anyway, here’s the thing. Nev clearly doesn’t go by the book. He tells his staff to shut up, throws things at them and screams ‘GET OUT’ at the top of his voice to those he has just interviewed – better still, they are the poor individuals that got the job! He also engages in conversations that in any normal office environment would be an absolute NO GO!

As an example, one of his staff was feeling particularly down after being dumped (it happens to us all), so Nev says ‘You’ve been a right miserable b*stard for the last month and we all know why’. As if this wasn’t bad enough he then parades this poor girl around the office asking anyone if they want to take her out on a date.

It doesn’t even stop there… he then sets up a speed dating event, yes an arranged function with hundreds of people, just to get this girl a date. He then sends her home with ‘said match’ and makes them bake cakes!

Then we move on to the recently appointed tea lady. Having tried to work in the call centre this young girl realises it’s just not for her but rather than get rid, Nev decides there is a role for her to make tea and coffee for everyone. What was astounding and heart-warming was that this girl takes this job really seriously. It’s apparent if she’s going to be a tea lady she is clearly going to be the best tea lady.

When her delightful co-workers decide to hide her tea bags and teaspoons all hell breaks loose and there are tears, tantrums and warnings – I kid you not, you couldn’t make it up!

What was amazing about this programme was that although there must have been at least 20 scenarios where we turned to each other and said ‘He can’t do that’, ‘You can’t say that’, ‘He is going to end up in a tribunal’, surprisingly I think there’s a lot that we can all learn from Nev.

He has a happy workforce for a start and people who are committed to his business. Ok, they know he’s nuts and openly admit that he is one-of-a-kind but that’s no bad thing. As a result of Nev and his attitude (his team meetings are called a s*it sandwich because you have a sandwich and he gives you s*it) people respect and to some degree appreciate him and his straight forward and no nonsense style.

Move over Sir Alan Sugar, Nev is in town and as far as the Davies’ household goes, he’s leaps and bounds in front of any car crash TV that you can produce and after the most recent series of The Unemployable – sorry I mean Apprentice – I didn’t think I would be saying that.

At the very least you can have some sympathy, empathy and dare I add respect for these people. They are real and perhaps we all need a Nev in our lives to remind us of what ‘being yourself’ can achieve. There are definite lessons I’m taking from Nev and perhaps we need to stop looking for reasons to criticise employers and employees. May be what we need to do instead is get some personality back to the workplace and god forbid have some fun!  

I don’t think we will be throwing things at people in Open any time soon or screaming at the top of our lungs but we just may think more about how we can inject some of Nevs better ideas into the agency.

Anyone for a s*it sandwich?

What impression do you make?

 

We work with lots of local businesses across a range of sectors – not just those who are looking for PR but also suppliers who can provide us with products and services as and when we need them. Where possible we try to work locally as it makes sense to us – why go anywhere else when what you really need is on your doorstep.

And this is how we came across a very good friend and business colleague, Keith Williams. Many of the people reading this blog will already know who Keith is. As a very well networked individual and character, Keith is not shy and imparts his knowledge whenever we meet.

I was therefore intrigued when I received an email from Keith providing the following insights:

“As animals we are programmed to use all our four senses to gain a first impression. This is known to take around 10 seconds. On the telephone you rely on just one sense, hearing, to form an impression so if you take the 10 seconds and divide it by the 4 senses this gives the caller 2.5 seconds to form a favourable impression.

Once the impression has been made, research tells us, it will take a further 7 meetings or conversations before that impression is altered. If you need to form a relationship with a stranger, by telephone, you have 2.5 seconds to establish the basis for a favourable relationship.  If you fail; that contact has been lost to you.”

Now I don’t know about anyone else but I can think of a number of conversations where I have known this to be the case – not just with people I have called but those who have called me. The conversations where I close down usually involve the words ‘synergy’ and ‘can you give me the contact for’.  

So why would I be passing this information on? Well, Keith has a business called the Yes Project and he works with companies of all sizes to build relationships and put processes in place which deliver results. I guess for all intents and purpose this blog is a bit of a plug but with some good theory to back it up.

Keith is currently working with people who want to make a better first impression on the telephone. So, the question is do you believe that your telephone effectiveness is worth more than £35 to you?

 Yes?  Then email Keith at keith@keith-williams.co.uk and arrange to be part of the 60 minute workshop on securing favourable first impressions by telephone.

And if you don’t think it’s worth bothering with, just spend one day considering how many people could have secured your business, or worse how many prospects you could be working with if you took the time to consider what impression you were making EVERY time you used the phone.

Open goes global and announces expansion plans

 


Open Communications, the straight talking PR agency based at Nostell Priory in Wakefield, has secured its first international contract after it was appointed as preferred PR and social media provider for Print Media Group (PMG) in Australia. 

Securing the contract to supply an on-going press office facility for PMG, which is one of the largest print specialist organisations in Australia with sites throughout the country, Open will also support the business to implement a social media strategy, alongside training and guidance.

With a focus on improving the profile of the business throughout Australia, PMG has appointed Open Communications to assist the marketing team with extending its offering into new markets and territories. In addition the business will work with Open to share its successes with current and prospective customers, while growing its sales revenues over the next twelve months.

 “We’re delighted to be working with Lindsey and the team at Open Comms, they will become a valued extension of the marketing team at PMG. We’ll be drawing on their expertise to raise the company’s profile in select markets here in Australia,” says PMG Marketing Communications Manager, Cathie Agg.

Director of Open Communications, Emma Lupton said: “With the technology and communications channels that are now available to business, we are able to operate in a truly global market and our appointment by PMG is an excellent example of this.

She adds: “We are confident with the service and results that we are able to deliver to our clients and this is without doubt one of the reasons PMG were attracted to us in the first place. We are really looking forward to working with the team and to showing them how PR can support the growth and on-going success of an organisation.”

As a result of the PMG contract win, plus two further appointments over recent months, Open Communications is looking to expand its team. The agency now has vacancies for an administrator and Account Executive.

For more details about Open Communications and the vacancies on offer please visit www.opencomms.co.uk or call Emma or Lindsey on tel. 01924 862477.

What a day!


Today was one of those days that really get your blood churning – they make you feel alive, they spark your passion and they remind you of why you chose the career that you are in – today was the Buy Yorkshire Conference!

As the preferred PR partner for the event, we work for several months behind the scenes to draft press releases, engage with the media and draft stories for inclusion in the dedicated supplement, which was handed out during the event.

On the day however is where it gets really exciting. We had two rooms full of exhibitors, a hotel packed with high profile speakers and more than 4,000 delegates coming through the doors, the Financial Times, the Business Desk, The Yorkshire Post, Yorkshire Business Insider, BBC News Channel and Look North and the Times – now if that isn’t enough to make you wide eyed when you work in PR then I don’t know what is.

We spent all day running around, arranging interviews, making sure speakers and journalists came together, convincing local businesses to comment on national TV (in some cases live) and managing an exciting and challenging press event.

I’m still buzzing from the atmosphere. It was a truly fantastic two day event and everyone I have spoken to felt the same. Whatever company or sector the delegates and exhibitors worked in they were all amazed with the organisation and the unnerved attitude and professionalism of the Buy Yorkshire team.

Hats off guys – keeping it simple, you nailed it!

At Open Communications we are proud to support the Buy Yorkshire Conference and to be a part of something that is quite frankly epic. A massive #WIN from us. We are already looking forward to next year.

STOP PRESS: SOME GOOD NEWS!

 

Despite the changing shape of the PR industry a fundamental part of anyone’s daily role is to review the media and be aware of what is going on locally, nationally and globally. Unfortunately this often means that you have to be particularly susceptible to bad news, as well as good.

Recently however I’ve been pleased to see that there has been some really positive news coming from the Yorkshire region. The first piece appeared a couple of weeks ago on the BDaily website. The story focused on a report by Barclays which looked into the entrepreneurial landscape in the UK and Ireland and referenced a notable increase in entrepreneurial activity across Yorkshire.

Although this activity was based on the purchase of shares, it recognised that Yorkshire is the fifth-biggest region for entrepreneurial activity in the country. Even more interestingly, this success appears to have been bolstered by industrial companies.

Hopefully as industrial businesses within the Yorkshire region start to perform ahead of expectations this will then have an impact on other sectors, leading to more green shoots and positive news throughout the county.

The second story that caught my eye featured on the Business Desk last week and reported that 68% of companies in Yorkshire had confirmed that new positions within their organisations were in the pipeline. As a company that is also recruiting, it was great to see that there are real opportunities for jobs and growth within the region.

Better still the piece goes on to report that the Yorkshire and Humber is the region showing most improvement in relation to employment opportunities, up from 54% in 2012, and in addition 84% of those questioned said that they are not planning any job losses this year.

I hope that with more good news to be shared by the businesses in Yorkshire we can all benefit. It would appear that determination, a can do attitude and rolling our sleeves up is certainly helping the companies based within the county to look forward rather than back, and it would appear that many have opportunity within their sights.

So, on that note, may I also take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy St George’s Day – and shhhh, I don’t want to talk too soon, but the sun is finally shining, that can only be a good thing!

 

Want a new challenge or know someone who does?

It’s exciting times here at Open Comms – we are on the look-out for some fresh new talent to join our expanding team.

As an agency that manages the communications and PR for a range of household names, as well as local companies and thriving new businesses, this opportunity will be an exciting challenge for someone who wants to become a part of a hardworking but friendly agency.

At Open Comms we don’t do ‘air kissing’ and we are not your typical agency so if that’s what you’re looking for you have probably come to the wrong place. If you do however have what it takes to be creative, while being able to put ideas into practice and to turn campaigns into results then we want to hear from you.

PR administrator

We need some help with the day to day running and management of the office but this role will go beyond ‘receptionist’. We expect that people who join our team will want to progress and become the best at what they do – this role will give someone the chance to learn the ropes and get stuck in, working in a very busy press office.

PR Account Executive

You don’t have to have a background in PR but some written experience would be a bonus.  This role is suited to someone who would like to take their first step into PR or for a recent / upcoming graduate. You need to have a genuine passion for PR and want to get your hands dirty – there’s no room for shrinking violets here! If you think you are more than just your average candidate then let us know.

Please send your CV – or better still something more exciting – to Lindsey or Emma at lindsey.davies@opencomms.co.uk or emma.lupton@opencomms.co.uk with an explanation of why you feel you are right for the position and what specifically you can bring to our team.

We look forward to hearing from you.

If you can’t say something nice…

When I was growing up my Dad always used to quote a phrase from Bambi, the children’s film. He would say ‘Remember what Thumper said’, which was ‘If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say nothing at all’.

Even though the quote is taken from a children’s film the fundamental theory behind the phrase is very relevant and in particular to young people who are growing up with more choice about how they communicate with each other (and the rest of the world) than ever before.

In the news again today there is a startling example of why people need to be very careful about what they share and how they choose to communicate. Kent Youth PCC, Paris Brown, has learnt the hard way that tweets and Facebook updates she is alleged to have shared when she was 14, 15 and 16 have come back to haunt her.

As someone who has taken on a responsible position she should have known better. It goes without saying that some people will think it’s unfair that Paris is being reprimanded in a very public way as a result of comments made years ago however she should have realised that the nature of the comments she was sharing was inappropriate irrelevant of her age.

As is the nature of some social media tools, anyone was able to access her comments about drink and drugs, which then gave her employer the chance to check her twitter feeds and Facebook page to find out just what she had chosen to share with her friends when she felt it appropriate to brag about her antics.

I hope that this sends out a very real warning to anyone who is looking for work. It is common practice to check social media feeds or ‘Google’ a candidate before an interview takes place. How silly to jeopardise your chances at securing a job for the sake of a tweet or inappropriate status update.

Many people use Facebook socially and twitter or LinkedIn for work but it’s worth always keeping in the back of your mind that anyone can search for your comments and opinions and that if you are willing to share your thoughts on social media tools expect that they will be shared by others and possibly accessed by a future employer.

There’s little doubt that Paris will be very conscious of her comments from now on.

PR stands for Press Release

When you work in PR (public relations) there are some days when you wonder what your job description may look like if you were to write down everything you were asked to do. This is no bad thing you understand, as the huge variety of tasks certainly helps to keep things interesting, while raising a few exciting challenges along the way.

This is perhaps why I find it so frustrating when people tell me that they can ‘do PR’ because they have written a press release or had something printed in a newspaper. The purpose of appointing a PR agency shouldn’t be to just write copy – that’s what copy writers are there for and the clue is in the title.

A PR agency is there to manage a brands reputation, to identify opportunities that will extend the messaging of a campaign to take it to a totally new level, or to come up with creative recommendations that will deliver a stunt that will capture the attention of the media, while also educating consumers about what that particular product or brand has to offer.

There’s also the corporate side of things, when an agency may be appointed to manage a stakeholder or internal communications campaign, ensuring that a message is clear and concise, using the right tone of voice and being disseminated in the right way, to the right audience.

Sponsorship often falls under the remit of a PR agency, along with third party associations and event management. Although you may find that copy is required to support these activities, it isn’t the sum of the process and everything from launching to making sure the brand gets the most from an association – which often includes sampling – can be included along the way.

Really the job of a PR has no defined start or finish, as long as you are managing and supporting the reputation of a brand and business, focusing on how it chooses to communicate and engage with its target audiences, then it kind of falls in to our remit.

As we have said in the past there is no point in trying to be all things to all people and that isn’t what I’m suggesting – there are times when we work with other specialist agencies to deliver integrated briefs and this is when you can take one concept or theme and really push it to make as much noise across as many mediums as possible.

At the moment we are working on so many different things that when Friday comes around I feel like my head is spinning with ideas and variations on the campaigns and proposals that we are working on for clients both in business to business and consumer markets.

PR is creative, expressive, exciting and demanding and writing is just one element of what we do on a daily basis to manage the reputation of the brands and businesses we work with. So next time you hear someone say that they can ‘do PR’ because they can draft a press release, please pass on my advice, they can’t! If you think that PR is all about writing a press release then it’s time to take a long hard look at your future career in the business because it won’t last long.

 

If you’re appy and you know it

 

Looks like a young entrepreneur will be laughing all the way to the bank thanks to Yahoo who has reportedly bought his app for an undisclosed sum – said to be around a cool 30 million dollars. What makes this story a little different, other than the fact the businessman in question is only 17 years old and started to write code for apps when he was just 12, is that what he has developed is actually really useful.

Summly condenses news items from the web into small chunks that are then readable on smartphone screens. Not only is this a handy option but you can click through to the full article if you want to read more – in turn driving traffic to the sites of global newspapers and syndication feeds. As a result he has kept news corporations on side by offering them something back and they have therefore agreed to share their content.

This is a fantastic example of a young and already very successful entrepreneur who has developed something that can make life easier for others. The app is clever, business led and will be of use to millions of people throughout the world. Most importantly it is a shining example to others that if they have a good idea they should pursue it.  

However there is another side to this story…

I’m all for championing passion and entrepreneurial spirit, particularly in the next generation of business minds, but what I don’t want to see is a market flooded with unnecessary content that is neither use nor ornament.

What is absolutely fundamental in this story and what led to Nick D’Aloisio’s app attracting the attention of investors and therefore a significant investment into his business is that he thought it through. He was looking for something useful, that would appeal to the masses and he found it.

The same should be said of brands who are investing in digital content. There are lots of QR codes and AR campaigns that are hitting the headlines as the use of smartphones become every day to the majority of consumers however how many of these apps will be used more than once? And what purpose do they serve?

The best apps in relation to campaigns in my view are those that add value – they bring a different dimension to an integrated marketing strategy that builds on a message and delivers it across channels.

To engage with an audience is to keep them coming back and wanting more and this is where I believe that digital and the use of apps, QR and AR codes come into their own. Consumers want more than ever before – they want visual, audio, content rich communication and they want to be involved, or at least feel as if they are.

So before we all put the CEO of Yahoo into our phones on speed dial because we’ve come up with the next big thing, perhaps we need to stop and decide what it is actually brings to those who are going to use it. What will it do, what will it deliver and if the real answer is not a lot maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board.