Tag: Wakefield

CAPITAL JINGLE BELL BALL

Usually my weekends revolve around Netflix. This weekend however was different.

I was given the opportunity to attend the UK’s biggest Christmas Party. Capital FM’s Jingle Bell Ball. And wow, what an experience! The long journey down to London was definitely worth it!

The event took place at the O2 and while the arena was massive, there was not one empty seat in sight. It was completely packed. A sold-out event indeed.

Harry Styles, Rita Ora and Liam Payne were just some of the stars that put on one amazing show. I thoroughly enjoyed all performances, but the highlight of my night had to be Stormzy’s set. His energy was infectious and left no one in their seats. Everyone was up and dancing.

I can see why Capital call it the UK’s biggest Christmas Party – it certainly is!

Another favourite moment of mine was when Harry Styles performed What Makes You Beautiful. Although completely unexpected, it was the sweetest surprise. You see, like every other teenage girl in 2011, I was utterly obsessed with One Direction. So, hearing their first ever song after so many years left me regressing and reminiscing over childhood memories.

While it was only brief, it was wonderful.

Granted that performances are a huge part of Capital’s Jingle Bell Ball, it’s not the singers that make the event so incredible. It’s the fact that the show can be enjoyed with the entire family. Unlike other concerts, the Jingle Bell Ball is for everyone. It’s an opportunity to bring family and friends together regardless of age.

Thank you Capital, for arranging such a phenomenal event.

I will absolutely be attending next year.

If you missed the show, not to worry, you can view all the amazing performances here: https://www.capitalfm.com/events/jingle-bell-ball/all-a-z-live-2019/

P.S This is NOT a sponsored post; I just had the best time!!!

‘WORKING’ IN A WINTER WONDERLAND

It’s not quite how the Christmas classic is remembered, however here at Open Comms we are less walking and more working in a Winter Wonderland!

Unique workspaces

Companies up and down the country seem obsessed with trying to come up with the latest innovative ideas to create the most unique workspaces.

Whether it’s a ping pong table, bean bags, themed break-out areas or the brightest and boldest colour schemes; the latest office trends are certainly a far cry from the more traditional desk, chair and computer.

But is designing a weird and wacky office space, which can often be unnecessary and costly, really the best way to create a positive company culture?

Productivity through place

No matter the layout or features, an office is still an office with one main function; a place where we come to work every day.

Also, could it be argued that these ‘unique’ workspaces are a distraction to employees and only likely to get in the way of their daily tasks? Can companies guarantee productivity will improve or at least remain the same?

There has never been such emphasis on the health and wellbeing of the workforce, irrelevant of the company or sector you work in, so it is understandable that these trends will start to top the to-do list for business owners.

With many organisations having undergone such drastic and expensive changes in recent years, it begs the question – are there much simpler ways to create a positive company culture that encourages people to have fun whilst also working?

Deck the halls!

This is something Open Communications does very well!

I walked into the office on Tuesday morning and was starting the day with a smile on my face. Our headquarters in Wakefield had been transformed into a festive winter wonderland.

The impact was immediate as we all embraced the Christmas spirit, gazing at the tinsel, baubles and trees that had brought the office to life and added some festive sparkle and a touch of magic in each room.

With a client list operating across a wide range of industries, daily life at Open Comms can often be fast paced and no two days are the same, so it is fair to say we are a busy bunch. But ever since our office has been immersed by Christmas decorations, there has been a renewed sense of unity and excitement among the team as we are set to finish what has been an extremely productive year.

I really do believe that celebrating occasions such as this can prove to be hugely benefit, not only to individual employees, but also to a company as a whole.

Keeping a good morale among the workplace will mean people enjoy coming to the office every morning and it adds even more anticipation to the Christmas holidays! The happier the employee, the more productive they’ll be.

We will be working hard as ever but enjoying the run up to the Christmas and New Year break surrounded by our decorations and perhaps just a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie or two!

Merry Christmas from all at Open Communications

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.

 

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.

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!

OPEN EXTENDS CELEBRATIONS WITH YM SPONSORSHIP

Image source: Chris Wallbank, www.chriswallbank.co.uk

Image source: Chris Wallbank, www.chriswallbank.co.uk

We can’t quite believe where the years have gone, but here at Open Communications we will be celebrating our ninth anniversary in September and thought it would be a great opportunity (excuse) to get together for a drink and a natter! 

As a member of the Yorkshire Mafia (YM) we will be sponsoring the Wakefield Drinks event, which takes place on Thursday 28 September at Unity Works. All you need to do to come along is to register using the following link: http://theyorkshiremafia.com/events/view/438/wakefield-drinks-evening

Like many other businesses in the District, we can be accused of working hard but forgetting to take the time out to meet with others and to step away from our desks. That’s why we thought the drinks evening would be an ideal opportunity for us to let our hair down and to meet with some familiar – and not so familiar – faces. 

Having attended a number of the drinks events in the past, most recently Yorkshire Day at Blackhouse in Leeds, we know how popular they are and how they are a great way to bring people together in a relaxed and less formal business setting. 

Although the Wakefield drinks events are a relatively new addition to the YM calendar, we want to show just what the District has to offer. We are huge advocates of the city and surrounding towns and hope that other professionals from the area will take the time to come along to showcase the diversity of businesses and success stories that we have here. 

So, get your diaries out and pens at the ready, the 28 September from 6pm – 11pm will be the Open Comms celebration at the Yorkshire Mafia drinks evening and you’re all invited. We look forward to seeing you there.

Celebrating the great and good of Wakefield

wakefieldba-logo

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.

Taking the time to make a difference

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We try to make a difference wherever and whenever we can here at Open Comms but like many busy businesses, it’s finding the time that’s the trouble! It’s often the case that we have the best intentions but don’t have the hours in the day to contribute or commit to the good causes that we would otherwise support.

I’m not talking about putting some pennies in a pot, it’s more about the wider impact that we can have as a result of sharing our knowledge and adding some value where it matters most. Many charities are desperate for resources that go beyond financial donations and that’s where we are able to offer our support.

It’s not always about the pounds and pence

Just one great example of an organisation that understands the challenges that are faced by smaller businesses that still want to contribute is Ahead Partnership. The organisation works as a facilitator between schools and organisations to bridge the gap between learning and earning.

Working up and down the country, Ahead Partnership provides businesses with the opportunity to give something back. Not only does this benefit the local community, which is often a big tick for corporate organisations, but it also has a direct impact on the talent of the future – win, win.

What’s even better is that their programmes and activities are flexible, giving smaller businesses the chance to do their bit and get involved.

Back to the classroom

So, on Tuesday when I was invited to an interview practice session at Wakefield College I was really interested. The problem was that I simply couldn’t allocate a whole day to the activity. Ahead Partnership was great and gave me a half day slot so that I could contribute.

Walking into the College was quite nerve-wracking, as someone who didn’t do particularly well at school, I still expect to end up stood outside the head master’s office. Thankfully, there was no need for my heart to be hammering and I was instantly put at ease by the team.

I was given a pass and shown to a table to await the first student. We were equipped with an overview of the activity, which had been sent a number of days in advance, including a list of questions that we could use as a guide.

Remember your p’s and q’s

I believe very strongly that you should use your own experiences to positively influence others and one of the first real lessons I learnt as a young adult was to remember your p’s and q’s. This wasn’t about manners as such, but more about realising that your personality is just as important as your qualifications.

I truly believe that people buy people and that this is also true of interviews. As such, when the first candidate came into the room, I was immediately aware of the one thing I always notice… the handshake.

Interestingly, during the whole day, there was only one student who came across and put their hand out. It’s not necessarily a criticism (although I did mention it to each person who came along) but was simply an observation.

All of the students that I had the pleasure to meet with were articulate, ambitious and most surprisingly had a clear plan of action in terms of their next steps and where they wanted to be. They approached the session with gusto and were very gracious of any constructive criticism they received. Clearly, this was always followed up with the positive points too – I’m not a tyrant!

A lesson learnt

I must have met with around 8-10 students during the time that I was involved in the activity and I have to say I’m not sure who learnt the most.

The stories that the students had to share, particularly in relation to their motivations and influences, was simply remarkable. No two students were even remotely similar and they ALL had something very special to offer.

What was really refreshing was the variety of roles that the students were hoping to secure when they left school or graduated. Everything from a special needs teacher, business manager, digital developer, coding expert, hotel manager and everything in between! On top of that, they all had a real belief that they could achieve whatever they put their minds to. And so they should.

Encouragingly, most of the students I met had either volunteered or had part-time jobs. This is something that I hold in huge regard and think it is essential if you want to build experience and skills that will last a lifetime. I was also really pleased to hear that this is something that is very much endorsed by Wakefield College.

Final thoughts

What a great experience.

Although I was struggling to allocate the time in my diary, I am so pleased I took out just four hours of my day to do something different and to give something back. However insignificant you may think it is, I hope that just one of those students walks into a room and shakes the hand of the person in front of them.

But most of all, I wish each and every one of those students the very best and encourage them to continue to follow their dreams, wherever they may lead.

Once upon a time, not too long ago…

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We love a good story here at Open Comms, there’s nothing like adding a bit of imagination to something that might appear at first to be bland and boring but end up being super exciting! As a gaggle of girls that write for a living, National Storytelling Week is always a hot topic in the office. 

After much discussion we decided we couldn’t let this annual occasion pass us by without at least trying to add our own little contribution – however insignificant. At Open Comms we like to get involved, so I thought we would share a short story…

Once upon a time, not so long ago, there were two friends. After years and years and years of working in big grey office blocks for other people, they decided that they wanted to do things differently and to turn the wacky world of PR on its head!

No more air kissing, no more lunches, no more fizzy pop – more exciting campaign ideas, working with clients rather than for them, getting excited by results, sharing success, getting the job done and doing it well… Oh, and most importantly, being open and honest.

Could it ever work? It was a new approach, people were used to doing things the same old way. It was a risk.

Talking to the exciting businesses based in Yorkshire it appeared that there were some companies that wanted to try out this new way of working. They didn’t really like the lunches or the regular increase in fees that they weren’t expecting. Who knew? 

Both ladies liked to write stories and to come up with super exciting and creative ways of sharing news, and so they launched Open Communications.

With just two small desks, two phone lines and a jar of coffee, they started to ring companies that had similar values and within no time at all they were working with some fantastic brands and businesses.

Fast forward just a few years, and then a few more, and with lots and lots of amazing results and too many fun-filled campaigns to fit into one short story, the two ladies are now five and they all enjoy the same things – working with great brands and businesses in Yorkshire.

The ladies are massive champions of the Wakefield district and they still like to do things exactly the same way they did way back when. They like to be honest and open, to be straight talking and to create relationships that last a long time – after all, no one likes falling out!

And so, the story is far from over. Open Comms continues to come up with campaigns that include anything from a giant Halloween door to a family picnic activation zone or the launch of a business that produces the most rail tickets in the country to a car headlamp that is the whitest on the market.

Every day is a new adventure at Open and that is what makes it so exciting. So, if you’re looking for an agency that doesn’t take itself too seriously and you want to be a part of the next chapter in this ongoing story, then give us a shout. The kettle is always on and when you work with Open its always story time.