Author: Emma Lupton

Reliving a real celebration

If you know the Open team or if you are a regular reader of the Open blog, you will know that we love what we do.

We have the pleasure of working on and creating a great many campaigns that support brand and product building objectives.

Flash Back Friday

As you can imagine we never tire of sharing our results so here is our flash back Friday. We’re rewinding back 12 months when we were in the midst of celebrating 30 years of The Ridings Shopping Centre.

The Ridings – Celebrating 30 years

I was born and bred in Wakefield so I grew up with The Ridings, I remember many of the iconic features – the original glass elevator, the fish pond and dare I say it C&A! So being able to work on its 30th celebration was a real joy. I have to say it was also an eye opener, I hadn’t realised the significance of the centre and how it led the way for shopping centres across the country. Having worked for The Ridings for some time we knew that shoppers were very fond of the centre, but as we started planning and researching we discovered that there really was a lot of love for the mall.

Look  familiar?

Look familiar?

Bringing the campaign to life

We delivered an intense three month campaign that was executed as part of our press office activity. The 30th celebration was an ideal opportunity to reinforce the values of the centre, its community feel and also its position as a family friendly shopping destination. Whilst it was a celebration of the last 30 years, it was also a platform for showcasing some of the major initiatives underway. To deliver on our objectives we had a very clear plan that involved 30 blogs across 30 days; and profile, feature, event and nostalgia pieces across regional media. The results – coverage across all targeted media including trade, regional media, regional TV and also radio.

A Tribute to The Ridings Shopping Centre

A Tribute to The Ridings Shopping Centre

30 blogs, 30 days

From remembering the iconic lift, to profiling key individuals the blogs covered all aspects of life at The Ridings – research saw us down at the library flicking though 30 years of coverage, interviewing long serving employees and even catching up with the architect who was instrumental in bringing the centre to life. This element of the campaign was a real labour of love not just for me but for Naomi and Hannah too.

Here are a few of our favourites:

www.ridingscentre.com/blog/2013/09/26/eileen-holroyd-30-years-and-still-counting/

www.ridingscentre.com/blog/2013/09/22/back-to-the-start/

www.ridingscentre.com/blog/2013/09/29/the-scent-of-a-woman/

Through the decades

Remember pink leg warmers, walkmans and girls aloud? Each week during the countdown to the 30th Birthday The Ridings hosted a special celebration of each decade. Promoted through regional platforms the Open team was also on hand to capture each occasion.

Bringing the fun to life

Bringing the fun to life

The ‘This is your Ridings life’ exhibition also opened at the Centre, packed with 100’s of picture’s memorabilia and press clippings. It was great to see the fantastic coverage achieved over the last 30 years, including many of the pieces that we have supported in recent years. We all really enjoyed supporting this campaign, working with the centre team and partners to bring the campaign to life and to create a real celebration.

More to come

Over the coming weeks we’ll be sharing lots more examples of projects and campaigns, so look out for Sweet Art, Ride to Glory, Talking Rhubarb, Move It………….and a few more along the way.

Work experience – yes please

Yesterday I attended the launch of Wakefield Works, the campaign that encourages local businesses to open their doors to those aged between 18-25 who are looking for a career or a new opportunity. During the week-long campaign, which runs from the 14-18 October, businesses will agree to interview potential candidates with a promise of offering work experience to the best applicant.

We were involved in this initiative in 2012. Although we weren’t able to offer a full time job, we provided four weeks work experience to a journalism graduate and helped them to get a real feel for whether PR was right for them.

Wakefield Works was definitely a success in our eyes, which is why we’ll be opening our doors again as part of Wakefield Works 2013 and why we are part of the team that is helping to spread the word and encourage others to show their support.

As a business it’s good to give something back, but for Open it’s also about encouraging interest within our sector, helping to increase the skills of potential candidates who want to work in a creative industry.

Last night I was in a room of like-minded individuals, which was encouraging to see. I also take my hat off to First Choice, The Wakefield Express, Statement and Room 97 for co-ordinating, planning and driving the campaign for a second year. From what I can see the team have been working hard to make the campaign an even bigger success, making it easier for business to register their interest and for candidates to book a suitable slot with relevant businesses. Plus it’s a full week, not just one day, certainly better from our point of view!

I’m a great advocate of work experience seeing first-hand how it can make a real difference, in fact when I look back I realise that I have used work experience tactically from being a young age – although I probably didn’t realise it at the time.

It was a work placement in PR that started my passion for writing and also the management of key campaigns and events. During my second year of university I spent six weeks on work experience finding out if PR was for me. It was and I was hooked. I loved it and spent the next 18 months working every spare minute for free, building my portfolio and working on great campaigns.

I remember being at my first interview and yes they were interested in my degree but they were also very interested in my experience. I got offered this job; it was as a PR Assistant for a group of hotels. But I also got a job offer from the agency that opened their door to me for work experience. I soon realised that my hard work was paying off and my enthusiasm, which came from the experience I had, was leading to real life job offers.

The rest, as they say, is history!

 

To find out more about Wakefield Works visit www.wakefieldworks.co.uk follow @wakefieldworks

 

A New Era

 

I’m feeling a little nostalgic. Why? Well this time about five years ago we were excitedly planning the launch of Open, making the final preparations for a business of which I am immensely proud.

I remember the stress over what we were going to call ourselves, how our logo would look and what our website would say. But with all the stress came an overwhelming sense of belonging, a fierce determination to do things the way we believed best for Open and our clients and overtime a sense of undiluted pride!

I genuinely cannot believe that it has been five years. It seems like yesterday that we opened our doors at the New Media Centre in Wakefield. We were supported and helped by a great many people; Leander who set up our first spread sheet, Joe our first website and Steve who designed our original logo to name just a few. We also took a great deal of advice from many people (in fact we still do as we grow and develop). To all of these people we are forever grateful.

We quickly outgrew our first office or our ‘box’ as we fondly called it, but found a new home at Nostell in 2010. Here we looked to expand our team but quickly realised that taking on our first employee and letting them inside our business, a business that we’d nurtured and protected would be extremely hard.

But we found the right person and two did become three and today our team continues to grow.

I look back with a smile and I know that not everything stays the same and just as our plans, our campaigns and our clients evolve we do too.

I look forward with a sense of adventure and a few things that don’t change…… an overwhelming sense of belonging, a fierce determination to do things the way we believe is best for Open and for our clients and absolutely a sense of undiluted pride!

Good old community engagement

 

As brands branch out and look for national profiling it’s often at the expense of their heartland activity and support that they offer within their local community.

This is not helped by shrinking budgets and a brands quest to maximise their reach and in turn the investment in all aspects of product and service promotion.

Heartland activity can and should be an important part of a brands plans and we actively recommend this to all of our clients, whether that’s developing regional editorial, promotion and profiling, sponsorship or charitable activities.

With this in mind it was great to see Halifax bank so heavily involved in a community campaign at the weekend.

Halifax ran a Big Lunch charitable event and organised a number of fundraising activities at one of my local parks, Hemsworth Waterpark. They were raising funds for air ambulance through tombola’s, facepainting and obviously sandwiches and snacks – all in return for donations. It was a great example of a grassroot campaign and demonstrated just how impactful it is to get into the heart not just of the community but of local people too.

Now there wasn’t 1000’s of people there but enough to warrant effort and time; it was all about the quality of engagement. It was also a great example of how keeping things simple can really works – it shouldn’t always be fanfare and fireworks.

As a family we really enjoyed the experience, who doesn’t enjoy dipping into the tombola – even if you’re only winning bubble bath! They even ran a dog show and my husband was persuaded to enter our own pooch. Now it certainly wasn’t about the best dog in class or breeding but the dogs that were most obedient (mmm), cutest and had the waggiest tail!

I’m pleased to say that Obi (our dog) proudly has two rosettes to show off and happily slavered over three chewy treats. Thank you Halifax we had a great afternoon.

Obi Proudly showing off his rosettes

National Accolades for Yorkshire Attractions

 

Once again key attractions and visitor destinations from across Yorkshire have put the region on the map after winning a handful of awards at this week’s Visit England Excellence Awards.

 

Yorkshire was recognised in eight categories, from Whitby’s Captain Cook Memorial Museum picking up a gold award for best Small Visitor Attraction of the Year through to Samuel’s at Swinton Park in Masham receiving a Gold accolade for the taste of England category.

 

It was great to see Eureka, the National Children’s Museum recognised too; they collected an award within the Access for All category. My children, who are 9 and 7, have grown up with the attraction and never tire of dropping in to check out their latest exhibition, each time enjoying a new experience and getting something different from the trip as they grow and look at things differently.

 

It’s a well-deserved accolade. We have also recently worked with the Eureka team, during a seasonal campaign for one of our clients, and we were able to see first-hand how hard the team work as well as the outstanding results that they achieve.

 

Closer to home Wakefield Visitor Centre took home a silver award for Visitor Information Provider of the Year, a fab achievement and icing on the cake for the City Centre following the first ever Retailer Awards, which took place last weekend.


Awards create natural opportunities for individuals and organisations to shout about their experience and expertise. They are a fantastic platform for showcasing best practice and shouting about the things that you are doing really well.

 

It’s great seeing people rewarded for their hard work and the pride of those that get on the stage to pick up the accolade. If you’re doing great things, you’re proud of your team and your organisation’s achievements then awards are an excellent way to celebrate what you do. 

 

As a PR agency, we help many of our clients identify awards that would be relevant to them, integrating local and sector award opportunities into their annual communications plan.

 

Why not think about your award potential, it costs nothing to check them out and who knows you could be picking up an accolade too. Not only is it a great boost for your team but gives credibility and acknowledgement of the great work that you are doing. Awards also show that you are confident and proud of what you have achieved.

 

Well done to all of the Visit England winners, especially those for the Yorkshire Region!

Stepping Into PR

Over 4½ years ago Open Communications launched into the market, two ambitious PR professionals looking to do things a little differently when it came to delivering outstanding public relations.

We’re pleased to say that we have never looked back and have built an enviable client list, while also working in one of the most idyllic locations within Wakefield.

It’s hard work but equally exciting.

We also have a great team which we’re looking to expand.

Following a number of new account wins we’re looking for someone that shares our passion for PR, someone ambitious and eager to learn whilst working with some of the UK’s leading brands.

The successful candidate will be a good communicator, have excellent writing skills and a good working knowledge of social media.

This is an exciting opportunity for someone who is just starting out in their career. If you’re interested in joining our team simply send your CV to emma.lupton@opencomms.co.uk or lindsey.davies@opencomms.co.uk and tell us why you’re passionate about PR.

Sponsorship – more than a name over the door

It’s been a couple of weeks since I stepped off the train at Wakefield Westgate following a three day dance exhibition in London and I have to say that just like last year I’m still wishing that there really was a dancer in me!

For the last few years we have supported MAOAM at Move IT, one of the UK’s biggest dance exhibitions that attracts 20,000 people across three days. Here the MAOAM team sponsor the Freestyle stage, which lets dancers of all abilities compete in a freestyle dance competition, and take an eclectic mix of classes in a dance studio.

Moving it on the MAOAM Freestyle Stage Move It 2013

Believe me its pretty non-stop and this year was no different. After months of planning we (me and Lindsey) helped to run the event which saw 53,000 products sampled, merchandise sold, 100’s of products given away, six podcasts produced and three photocalls co-ordinated – all whilst finding three MAOAM Freestyle Stage competition winners.

MAOAM Move It 2013

It’s all pretty hands on, but that’s simply how we roll. Just like every event that we get involved in it’s the genuine passion for what we do combined with a desire to see it work that makes it all worthwhile. Our goal is simple, we want our client to maximise the potential of any sponsorship activity and we help them to do just that.
Every year the dance talent is amazing, especially their confidence and ability to spin, leap, twist and contort their body to eye watering depths.  It’s a real buzz to watch and I’m sure that even non-dancers leave the event tapping their feet, practice pirouetting in front of the mirror and cartwheels on the bed. It’s about the experience, which is what sponsorship should be about. It’s not just having a logo above the door.

 
The spins from the MAOAM Freestyle Stage – Move It 2013

When you’re surrounded by thousands of young people chanting the client name, getting stuck into a dance designed just for the brand and feeling the floor vibrate from everyone ‘making some noise’ for their favourite chew – MAOAM – you know it’s worked and that all of the planning and hard graft is worth it.

New Year Traditions

Just a week in to the New Year and I’m ready and focused for the year ahead thanks to my personal resolutions, which I’m hoping will last beyond January!!

It’s a time when I really enjoy hearing about the business goals that people are setting and also the resolutions from friends and family intent on being thinner, fatter, kinder, happier, stronger…. the list goes on.

Alongside resolutions, what always makes me smile is seeing and hearing about the wacky and often extreme activities that people get involved in to mark the start of the New Year. My favourite is the Soap Box Derby a local event in Sharlston, a village next door to where I live and work. It’s a bit like the wacky races where you race in a home-made kart and outlandish costumes. It’s lots of fun and always brings in the crowds.

Looking through the local papers it seems that some people adopted a more extreme tactic, with some chilly results!

In Scarborough, South Bay, swimmers braved the North Sea to raise money for charity in the New Year’s Day Dip. In Otley, the River Wharfe tempted swimmers and the Mappleton Boat Race and Bridge Jump in Derbyshire helped people to make a splash for charity…..brrrrrrrr.

So whilst resolutions give us long term gain and a clear focus, I’m sure that bringing in the New Year in a fun way gets you fired up for the months ahead. I’ve already set my sight (or should I say a resolution) on welcoming 2014 through a fun and wacky New Year tradition – but which one?

Crowns Off To the Camping and Caravanning Club

Last Monday, whilst most people were tucking in to cucumber sandwiches or sipping Pimms in honour of the Jubilee, I was helping to break a Guinness World Record at an event that demonstrated why PR is so much more than securing column inches.

Monday (4th) marked the start of National Camping and Caravanning Week (NCCW) and as it was also one of the key jubilee dates The Camping and Caravanning Club planned a very special Jubilee event at their site in Sandringham– one that saw them attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest number of people wearing paper crowns in 24 hours (multiple venues).

As the event was supported by our client Pom-Bear we were there to lend a hand and I was lucky enough to be able to take my family along too.

I cannot begin to tell you how excited my children were, not only were they going to get to meet Pom-Bear but they were also set to be record breakers! They asked endless questions and told their friends, their teachers, in fact they told anyone who would listen (even our postman). Before we even got there the excitement that had been created was immeasurable.

The kids loved the appearances from Pom-Bear who joined the campers throughout the day; hundreds of pictures were taken not just of Pom-Bear with the kids but with adults too.

The President of the Camping and Caravanning Club, David Bellamy, also proved to be very popular; he organised two nature walks and managed to hypnotise my six year old (and also my husband!) from start to finish. I’ve been educated on poisonous plants, types of trees, bugs and grubs – all by Tom following his nature adventure with David Bellamy.

Picture courtesy of The Camping and Caravanning Club/Steve Wright Photography

This activity demonstrated the value of hosting events and creating opportunities for consumer engagement that help to communicate and reinforce the personality of a brand. This event had everything that its target audience desired, it:

–          catered for the whole family

–          had the right degree of celebrity association and brand partnerships (which added value)

–          staged appropriate activities that in this case demonstrated the fun and adventure involved in camping, caravanning and the great outdoors

–          capitalised upon a popular and topical occasion

–          was fun

–          created great opportunities for on and offline coverage

Did they break the record? They sure did and yes we are all proud to say that we were one of over 14,000 people across the UK to help break the Guinness World Record for the largest number of people wearing paper crowns in 24 hrs (multiple locations).

Pom-Bear helping to break a Guinness World Record

Pom-Bear helping to break a Guinness World Record

We also have a signed paper crown, which sits at the foot of Tom’s bed. But it isn’t any ordinary  paper crown, it’s one that helped break a record and also one that has been signed especially for Tom by his new hero David Bellamy.

Well done Camping and Caravanning Club, you staged a great event that has created many wonderful memories that my kids (especially Tom) will dine out on for many years to come.

Picture courtesy of The Camping and Caravanning Club/Steve Wright Photography

It pays to be open

As a PR agency in Yorkshire, which is the largest county in the country, we are reminded every day of the fact that we work in a very competitive marketplace.

So how do we differ? Everyone says that they offer something unique, something that no else can deliver. Everyone packages their services slightly differently to make it sound like they are doing something new and inventive, when if we are all honest what we are offering is actually very similar.

What we have chosen to do to stand out from the many PR agencies offering similar products and services is to be honest. Yes, really. It is that simple. We are open (hence the name) and honest. We put forward realistic campaigns, which are developed specifically to meet with a brand’s objectives.

We work WITH our clients, rather than FOR them, and we have excellent relationships as a result. As the market gets tougher, which seems inevitable, we expect that brands will be reviewing their PR and marketing needs and we hope that they will start to work with agencies that follow the same principles that we do.

Long gone are the days when agencies could charge again and again and again for the same work, marking up costs by 50 per cent and more. Times have changed – thankfully – and as an agency we are overjoyed that this is the case.
PR and marketing, from press office to crisis management, drafting brochure copy to the launch of a new product or service, everything revolves around results. And as far as we are concerned, so it should do.

The next twelve months will inevitably see further changes to the industry and a shift in the agencies that brands choose to work with but perhaps this isn’t a bad thing. Some agencies are guilty of continuing to take a very 80’s led approach to the ‘service’ they offer their clients and it will be interesting to see how that is received in the months and years to come.