Tag: Wakefield

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

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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.

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.   

Bringing business together to talk ‘Leeds’

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Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a mass brainstorm session which was hosted by Grant Thornton at the Royal Armouries in Leeds. The focus for the day was to bring people from the Yorkshire business community together to debate ‘How can we make Leeds a home where all sectors connect to create inclusive growth?’.

My first challenge when accepting this invitation was that we are a Wakefield based PR agency and we champion the district at every opportunity we get. What we have experienced over the years, on many occasions, is that Wakefield has a huge amount to offer but remains the forgotten relative to Leeds.

With a brief that focused so heavily on Leeds I had to question what value I could add and if I would become more of a hindrance than a help. In fact, I needn’t have worried. What was immediately enlightening on taking my seat in a room full of more than 300 people was that many of us felt the same.

The day was run to a tight schedule – with a countdown clock that actually turned red when your time was up. Despite being a little daunting, it kept us all focused and meant that we completed our tasks in the allocation we had been given.

Split into three sections we first had to use a process called Appreciative Inquiry (AI), which was first developed by David Cooperrider in the late 80’s at Case Western University.

The process is quite simple (which suits me!) it splits a task into four sections; appreciate, understand things worth valuing; the whole system, bringing a diverse group of people together to work on a challenge; task focused, be clear about what the objective is and assign individuals with the right strengths to the right part of the task accordingly and self-management, which gives people the chance to use dialogue and inquiry to reach an outcome.

In the first instance, we had to share stories about each other and what one thing we had done in the past that we were most proud of. This gave us a chance to get to know one another better but also to get animated about things that we wanted to share with a group of strangers.

It was an interesting way of finding out what really made people tick.

It became apparent that everyone around the table had different backgrounds, skills and experiences to share, which was really encouraging. We got to work, pipe-cleaners, pens and paints in hand.

In the second part of the session we had to dream… yes, dream.

Eyes closed – and feeling about as comfortable as a person with their eyes closed in a room full of 300 strangers – we got thinking. The swoony tones from our host made us think about what we would bring to Leeds to make it a better place to live, work and play.

Eyes open (thankfully) and we started to share our thoughts. There was a real positivity to the exercise, which somewhat surprised me as you usually get the odd moaner and groaner at these events, but our table was focused and ready to get to work.

The first decision we made was to change the Leeds to Yorkshire. We all agreed that as a collective, each part of Yorkshire had something different and exciting to offer that when accepted as a sum of the parts would create a region that simply couldn’t be bettered.

We considered each area in turn; Bradford, Wakefield, Halifax, Huddersfield, Kirklees, Doncaster, Calderdale… and so on. It was really encouraging to share the positives and to celebrate the many successes that already exist in the region, while then focusing on the next 10 years.

We were asked to present our ideas back and our table was chosen as just one to share our thoughts. Here’s the picture we created:

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The final session of the day asked us to share as many post-it notes as we could which would provide ideas of how we could meet with our objective, to make Leeds a home where all sectors can connect to create inclusive growth.

Some tables managed to come up with over 100 ideas! Our table was less productive but in fairness we were very much about quality as opposed to quantity. It was then up to us to decide which idea we wanted to share with the room.

Not easy when you’re challenging people’s ideas and contributions to the session but we got there in the end.

We had just one minute to stand on stage and let the world (ok, just the room but it felt like the world from up there!) know what we were proposing.

Throughout the day we kept coming back to one theme that is already synonymous with Yorkshire and its success, sport. And so, our big idea, our dream, our plan and our vision was *drum roll* to become a host city for the Olympics.

Before you snigger or scoff, this was about dreaming – not putting needless hurdles in place of ideas that were calling upon our creative juices to get everyone in the room excited over what could be. Plus, we had a fall-back option, we decided that to host the Commonwealth Games wouldn’t be a bad target should we not get the big one over the line.

I have to admit that the day was long and tough but definitely worthwhile. I met lots of new people and was surprised at how many I didn’t know. It was great to hear the suggestions and ideas of others and to play with smiley faces and coloured pens.

Well done to Grant Thornton for hosting an event that captured the hearts and minds of more than 300 people, it’s no easy task. It certainly got me thinking more about the little things that we can do to make a big difference in the region.  

Most importantly, I just can’t wait for the Olympics to come to Yorkshire.  

How to make friends and influence business

I have always really enjoyed networking. Even though some people go cold at the very thought, the chance to meet new people always has me intrigued. It could be because I’m inherently nosy or that I’m simply sociable – perhaps a mix of the two – but either way it’s something I like to do.

Over the years we have been involved in a number of groups from the more formal that make you do business and pass leads, to those that encourage meeting people in order to build long-term relationships. Each of them has its benefits, depending on what you do, but the latter is very much my preference.

Formal Networking

What I find strange about formal networking is how forced it can be. You sit in a room, you deliver your ‘elevator speech’ and you listen intently while others tell you week in and week out what they do. Not only is it dull but it has people shaking in their high heels or flats*

It always surprised me that people didn’t grasp the basic concept; don’t be clever, keep it simple, say what you do, add an example and repeat… it’s not a test.

Having more fun  

I’m still not sure of the value of repetitive explanations to the same group of people when you could use that time to arrange a coffee with someone you are genuinely interested in. Better still, if you do your research you actually spend your time listening to music that you enjoy while meeting with others over a beer or a glass of wine.

Honestly, it’s not a joke, there is an event called Suits and Vinyl that is really picking up pace. It’s a fairly recent addition to the ‘corporate’ calendar but for businesses based in or around Wakefield it’s a real must. For more details visit:  https://www.linkedin.com/groups/4581132/profile

Working in Yorkshire

Yorkshire has so many interesting businesses doing some great things. All you need to do is pick up a copy of the Yorkshire Post, there are always an array of stories about the companies, large and small, that reside in the county.

From multi-million pound corporations to smaller businesses, each has a unique story to tell and their own network to share. You see, this is one thing that I did get from the more formal networking; when you meet people, you should see beyond that person and think more about their wider connections.

Now, I need to make it clear here, I do not meet people for who they may know, but there have been occasions where genuinely enjoying the company of people in a network has subsequently led to me meeting others of a similar mindset.

A group that means business  

Take the Yorkshire Mafia as an example. We have been involved with the organisation from the start and what it has produced has been staggering; Buy Yorkshire, the largest business-to-business conference in the North; Leeds Business Week, a week-long celebration of business in Leeds and regular drinks events to bring people together throughout the county.

If that wasn’t enough, there are further plans for the future but one thing is for sure, the Yorkshire Mafia has changed the way that people meet, learn and share in the region.

Whether you agree or otherwise with the Yorkshire Mafia brand – I personally think it was a great idea – what they have achieved is to champion Yorkshire as a region for getting things done and that’s what I really like about those that are involved.

I’ve made some connections and some good friends through the YM and I think this is what’s important when you network. It takes time, effort and, on occasion, you simply won’t be in the mood. It’s far easier to go to an event with people who are on your wave-length than those that sap you of all energy – we’ve all been there!

At YM events I like the fact I can walk in and there will be a friendly face. It’s really that simple. I like working with these people. They are well connected, many of them have been through similar achievements and challenges and they are all willing to give honest advice and even take time out of their day to help you if you ask.

This to me is real ‘networking’.

Making friends

When we think more literally about it, networking is just making friends for grown-ups. When you were little you didn’t care where someone came from, what their mum or dad did for a living or what they aspired to be when they were older but what naturally happens is you attract similar people. You typically become friends with people like you.

Meeting people in business is the same. I find that the groups that work best for me are those that have similar characters in them; work hard but remember to laugh. It’s so easy to walk into an event and be accosted by someone who has checked you out beforehand, seen your client list and made a point of introducing themselves.

The conversation usually starts like this “Hello, my name is (insert name), I’ve heard about you. I think we should get together for coffee, there is definitely some synergy between our businesses”. What that person actually means is, I have seen your client list and want their details. *Groan*

My mission moving forward

After too many years of visiting group sessions, I have decided to make it my mission to meet more often with those people that I have real respect for and who I enjoy spending time with. I’m still going to attend events that will give me the chance to meet with new people – it would be silly not to – but for the most part, I’m going to concentrate on the connections I already have and being more involved with the groups that I trust.

I think that others could benefit from doing the same. Rather than attending 4 breakfast meetings a month, 5 lunches and an evening meal, why not pick fewer events you want to go to because they might be fun? I’m guessing that you will be more relaxed, find it easier to be yourself and as such make stronger immediate connections than you will ever achieve from your elevator pitch.

I am going to put my theory to practice and will update with the results. Taking your own advice can difficult but I think 2017 is a year for making small changes that will have a big impact. I’ll keep you posted.

*subtle reference to today’s headlines about workwear for those who missed it – pfft, don’t know why I bother! 

Being the centre of attention

I’ve never really bothered about being the centre of attention, in fact, in the right scenario, I quite enjoy it. I think part of that is coming from a large family; when we were younger if you did manage to get someone to pay any notice of you then you made the most of it.

On Friday I was asked to present during an event hosted by the Wakefield Bondholders at Hatfeild Hall. It wasn’t an unusual topic, I would be providing people with advice and some hints and tips on how they could use PR to benefit their business.

Now, if I couldn’t get that right then there was something really wrong!

Coincidentally, during a recent team meeting here at Open Communications, we were discussing nerves and how you can overcome them when presenting. I’ve always felt that being nervous is a challenge that has to be overcome and as such have always done my best to step up to the mark when I get butterflies. If I’m honest, I like the feeling of pushing myself and being in a position that may be slightly uncomfortable but knowing that it’s up to me to turn it around.

During the meeting I was asked by a colleague why I never get nervous and how I always appear so confident. The truth is that I do get nervous and the confidence comes from playing a game with myself – it’s how I react to that situation and that feeling.  Some might call it bravado but to me it’s just a natural reaction.

Friday morning was a classic example. I don’t see getting nervous as a weakness, far from it, I actually think that the day you go to present in front of a room of 80 people and you don’t feel nervous you have crossed the line to arrogant or worst still, dismissive. Well, it was clear to me at least, that I certainly wasn’t at that stage – I was very much a bag of nerves.

Hiding it well behind several coffees and some idle chit chat I counted down the minutes until it was my turn to face the room. I was fortunate enough to have some friendly faces that I could call upon from the front and so I began.

I was handed a microphone – which made my knees shake even more than usual – but there was no turning back, it was now or never.

The funny thing is that even with the microphone once I’d started I was fine. I could stand up there all day but the first five minutes was the most challenging. I have the same questions as everyone else does when I stand in front of a room of people; will they like me, will they understand what I’m trying to explain, have I pitched the level right, will anyone take anything from it, what will they learn, will they question me and most worrying, will they consider me to be good at what I do.

By the time the presentation ended, I was shaking like a leaf, but I have to admit that I really enjoyed it. I hope that people learnt something from it but mostly I hope that those I work with realise that everyone gets nervous and that it’s ok, it’s how you handle it and how you challenge yourself to overcome it that’s important.

I had some lovely comments following the event and people did say that they had learnt something, which is what it was all about, but most surprisingly I had three separate emails from people complimenting me on my presentation style and confidence.

I always think it’s a huge achievement when people take the time to thank you and to tell you that they think you did a good job and so last week I closed Friday with a big smile on my face.

My hands have finally stopped shaking and I’m ready for the next time I’m asked to present to a room – may be next time I can push myself that little bit harder and even look forward to it.