Tag: speakers

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.

Straight talking entrepreneur takes to the stage

We had the privilege once again this year of being the preferred PR partner for the Buy Yorkshire Conference, which took place on the 28 and 29 April.

A lot has happened since then, as I’m sure you can imagine, so apologies for the delay in sharing our experiences. Over the next few days I will upload a series of blogs that we drafted to support the event with the intention of extending the experience to those who were unable to come along, we do hope you enjoy them.

Please do, as ever, feel free to comment on ask any questions that you may have.

And so, on to the first…  

Jonathan Straight is a long term supporter of the Buy Yorkshire Conference and we were delighted to welcome him back for a further year. As a businessman who has worked for 21 years to build a recycling company that he then floated on the stock exchange before selling it many years later, he certainly knows his stuff.

Speaking about his departure from Straight Plc, Jonathan laid bare an honest account of the decisions, challenges and humorous occurrences that can only come from such a roller coaster journey.

Having spoken for several years as the CEO of Straight this was one of the first occasions that Jonathan was taking to the stage as a former member of the company.  Taking us right back to the beginning he references his departure from school in 1965 with an A Level in Business to his name.

He comments: “Being an entrepreneur was never a real option back in those days. The idea was that you went to university and you got yourself a proper job. I had seen my Grandfather run his own business but he left nothing behind, no legacy or real social impact. I didn’t want to be like that.”

Jonathan had a number of jobs before taking the plunge and choosing to launch Straight. The journey was far from a depiction of the businessman’s surname and came with many a battle not least the fact that recycling was a relatively new concept.

He adds: “It was after reading a book one day which included the sentence ‘We pay to buy our waste and put it in a hole in the ground and yet this material we bury has a value and so we pay for it twice’ It was a real lightbulb moment for me. How could we possibly go on buying something twice and why hadn’t anyone done anything about it?”

Fuelled by the enthusiasm and passion that Jonathan had for both his business idea and the need to recycle, Straight soon became a £1m turnover business with 4 employees and that is when he decided that in order to be taken seriously he would have to get a listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Never one to give up, Jonathan got his listing in 2003 but was aware that the challenge had only just begun as he now had to ‘deliver for the shareholders’. Times still weren’t easy for the business and the next challenge was to purchase his main competitor Blackwell, which he did in 2004.

Taking risks doesn’t seem to effect Jonathan in the same way it would others but the next steps in his story were clearly a worrying time as he explains his share price went from more than £3 to just 18.5p thanks to a drought.

Still this didn’t stop him and once again he rolled his sleeves up and built the business back to its former glory – not thanks he explains to the faceless bast*rd banks.

The tale doesn’t end there however as despite its ongoing success Jonathan left the company in 2014 for an 8 figure sum. It wasn’t about the money though, he explains, it was the right thing to do and at the right time.

So, has Jonathan hung up his glasses and combed out his much-loved moustache – of course not! As a true entrepreneur he is working on a number of projects and there is no doubt that he will be back, in time, with another exciting business that he can call his own and make a success all over again.

Leaving the audience with 10 missions (which are actually 11) he says:

  1. Know where you’re going
  2. Communicate effectively
  3. Tell the truth
  4. Never give up
  5. Be memorable
  6. Dare to be different
  7. Know your competition
  8. Keep reinventing
  9. Help others
  10. Lead by example
  11. Plan the exit first

We wish Jonathan every success with his future ventures and look forward to him sharing his next exciting journey with us next year.