Tag: events

Celebrating success before it all kicked off!

As a non-executive board director for the Theatre Royal in Wakefield, I was really privileged to support the organisation when they were shortlisted in the community category of the Yorkshire Business Excellence Awards.

The celebration took place in Leeds on 30 October with a range of companies large and small coming together to share their achievements and successes. What was most impressive – and I am biased – was that guests were serenaded by the Theatre’s Performance Academy as they entered the champagne reception.

It was a glitzy affair with initial pre-dinner address from Work and Pensions Secretary, Ian Duncan Smith followed by a delicious four course meal. It was then time to announce the winners and you could feel the tension as heart rates hit new heights.

It was the fourth announcement of the evening and we were all sat wide eyed waiting for the final decision to be shared… and the winner is *insert drum roll*, ‘the Theatre Royal Wakefield’. Acknowledged in particular for striving to operate a best in class destination that gives access to the arts and entertainment despite significant cuts, it was unanimous.

I genuinely believe that the Theatre Royal has a great deal to offer the local community and that people should take the time to visit and to experience the amazing programme of performances that take place in this historic gem of a building.

The venue is celebrating an amazing 120 years and I often wonder what stories it would tell if only it were possible to do so but at least one thing is for sure, the Yorkshire Post Business Excellence Award would be one of them! Please click here for more details of the winners from the night and video coverage supplied by the Yorkshire Post.

Moving on to the next day (no rest for the wicked!), it was a crisp Friday morning and by contrast you couldn’t get much different. Wrapped up warm I headed up to Scotland with the Coalfields Regeneration Trust for a weekend of football.

As previously shared, we have supported Game On, an initiative which brings young people together from some of the most disadvantaged coalfield communities throughout the country to play football. The programme goes beyond the simple principles of sport and engages young people to learn about interaction with third party organisations and peers, as well as teamwork and social skills.

Having cheered on all of the teams during the Inter-regional Finals in Derby as they fought hard for their places in the Home International Tournament, it was time for Wigan A and B to do their country proud.

Thankfully the weather was mild and there were even a few breaks in the clouds as the sun attempted to shine. The winning players from Scotland, Wales and England all took to the pitch and after an official opening to a marching band of pipers, it was kick off.

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There is no doubt that each team gave it their all, with some amazing tackles, defending and goals and then it was down to just two; England and Wales. The match was like-for-like and finished with a goalless draw so it was penalties and sudden death.

I’m not a huge fan of football but I have to admit that after watching the lads put their all into the games I was routing for them to win – it even got so bad that I did some cheering and even added my very own unique take on a team talk *cringe*.

Over the course of just 2 days we had got to know the team a little better and there were some real characters in the group who certainly helped to raise a few smiles with their quips and ‘humour’.

11.04.14 Game On National Home Final

No sooner had the whistle blown than it was over – Wales had won the Tournament on penalties. Needless to say there were some glum faces from the England lads but they did us proud and that’s all that anyone can ask for.

What was most impressive was their manners, general attitude to the game and most importantly their passion for the sport and the wider team. You would never guess that these young lads were from coalfield communities and I’m not absolutely sure that they would feel it necessary to tell you but what they probably don’t realise is that if nothing else their determination and sheer grit could be considered a lasting legacy from times gone by.

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And so I’m on to another week and although there won’t be any glitz and glamour or pitch side banter and penalty shoot outs this week, there are certainly proposals to be planned, news to be drafted, events to be arranged and announcements to be managed that will keep me busy – after all, there’s never a dull moment when you work in PR.

Doing better business in Yorkshire

Today I had the absolute pleasure of going to a lunchtime event hosted by the Yorkshire Mafia for Leeds Business Week. Unlike other ‘networking’ meetings that I have attended, I always find anything that is arranged in association with the Group to be ‘different’ and often on a larger scale than anyone would expect.

I have seen the massive amount of work, attention to detail and general organisation that goes into anything that the Yorkshire Mafia arrange and this event was no exception.

The lunchtime meeting was held at Bibis Italian Restaurant in Leeds, a central location with the capacity to host a leading business event, which in this instance was attended by more than 200 people.

As Leeds Metropolitan University alumni, I was pleased to see that the event was supported by the recently rebranded Leeds Beckett. Not only is the University a success story for the city and wider region in its own right but I was pleased to see that the Associate Dean, Simon Jones, took to the stage to explain that a massive £500m contribution is made as a result of students choosing courses in Leeds each year.

I have to be honest, when attending some events as the first speaker takes to the stage you can feel yourself glaze over. I’m never one for rags to riches and ‘how clever was I to think up this idea’ or ‘well done me’ type talks. Don’t get me wrong, I am always interested in hearing about the obstacles that people have faced and how they have overcome them – that’s interesting – but the fact that someone has a posh car and a yacht doesn’t really appeal.

And so, Larry Gould of The Big Word took to the stage. He started the business along with a partner in 1980. With 2 people, a phone and big ambition they launched a fledgling company – suddenly this story was starting to sound very familiar!

Recognising that companies miss out on a shocking £48bn in revenue as a result of language barriers there is little doubt that a business focusing on helping you to communicate with your prospects and export clients is going to have a bright future.

Fast forward to 2014 and Gould has just reported the best quarter the business has ever had (which was celebrated in typical Yorkshire fashion, quietly) with the statistics about the company making for interesting reading:

–          International head office based in Leeds

–          400 people employed in Leeds from 39 countries

–          12,000 linguists in 37 countries

–          12th largest business in its sector

–          Aspirations to be top five

Impressive figures but what struck me most was how personable and funny – yes funny – Gould was. He broke down barriers immediately with his quick wit and refusal to drop a story because his time was up. And as for his success, he refers to a comment his father made: “Perhaps you’re getting above yourself lad”.

I can’t quite see that happening but needless to say his short time on stage was met with a huge round of applause and lots of smiles.

The starter was then served and was quickly followed by the second speaker, Adam Cope, former CEO of Zenith Provecta and current Executive Chairman of FMG who had a tough act to follow.

Andrew chose not to talk about the business but instead to focus on a vision for the North. He referenced the fact that our aspirations for Leeds and surrounding cities needs to be bigger and that taking a Northern approach, as opposed to concentrating on individual regional agendas, would allow us to develop a culture and lifestyle to appeal to those considering their future.

His next comment was particularly refreshing; he said that in order to attract the best talent from local universities we need to make the North a compelling option for those making the transition from student to professional. The two things they are interested in are sex and money; as students don’t have any problem with getting excited by sex we need to motivate them with money.

I’m not sure whether I completely agree with this, but it certainly got me thinking. We do need to look at the North and consider how we can package the benefits of all cities within a given geography before marketing it to the country and internationally.

London has long taken the glory and it is about time that we started to redress the balance. I remember very vividly being told when I was at university that to have a career in PR you had to go to London. I would like to think that I have challenged that and proved the theory wrong however we need to ensure that others have a choice and that lessons have been learnt and shared since my time in the lecture theatres at Becketts.

Cope finished with a strong closing statement: “We can do it, we will do it and it would be so much better if we had more money to enjoy it.”

Applause and then the final speaker of the day was invited to take the stage. Helen Beachell, General Manager from Simon on the Streets, is a real inspiration but far too modest to ever take that kind of compliment.

Helen as ever was poised, professional and didn’t stumble, mumble or flounder over a single word. You wouldn’t have known that she was addressing a room of more than 200 people as she recalled a recent story of a homeless man, Dave*, who approached a diner sitting outside of a local restaurant.

The man clearly wanted to be left alone but Dave was hungry and desperate for money to buy food. He asked for any loose change and the response was nothing short of a torrent of abuse. Helen rightly acknowledged that it can be difficult when you are approached by those sleeping rough as you are never sure what they are going to spend the money on or how genuine they are in their hour of need.

In this instance what was out of the ordinary was that the man in the restaurant continued to scream at Dave even when he had walked away. Shouting comments such as ‘Get to the job centre’ and ‘You’re nothing but a waste of space’.

These stories aren’t unusual for Helen, or her colleagues at Simon on the Streets, but that doesn’t make them right and my heart turns over every time I hear what they have been faced with.  We worked on a recent campaign which I think puts this attitude – that of those who are suited and booted and their reaction to the homeless – in to real context, read more here.

Next up was lunch, a delicious plate of slow cooked beef with a creamy mash. Needless to say it went down very well but the thought of those on the streets wasn’t far from anyone’s minds and I’m sure, like me, some people would rather have offered a hot meal to those who really needed it.

Then it was time to chat with some familiar faces and also an opportunity to meet with some new. I couldn’t quite believe that so much had been packed into a two and a half hour lunch but then as I said in the introduction to this blog, nothing the Mafia ever do is half-hearted.

What an excellent and insightful event; great speakers, great company and great food but most of all another event that championed the fantastic entrepreneurship of the region by those living and working within it.

There are business led activities and networking sessions taking place throughout the remainder of the week in celebration of Leeds Business Week so don’t miss out, for more information simply visit: http://leedsbizweek.com/

Seasonality leads to sales

It seems to me that brand success and the sustainability of a business can often be determined by seasonality. You don’t have to go far at the moment to see that most brands are launching their Christmas campaigns, with many competing for the title of best festive TV advertisement.

Seasonality is just as important when it comes to PR. Some of the best stories take into account the changing seasons, occasions or events that allow us to engage with our customers and prospects, using topical themes to entice interest. Quite often the campaigns that work best are those that rely on keeping it simple; building on messaging people will expect but adding a creative twist.

What surprises me is when brands haven’t considered seasonal activity or the opportunities that these planned events can deliver. It doesn’t have to be as obvious as Christmas advertising or January sales but what about Valentine’s Day, the Rugby Union World Cup and Easter or the Tour de France? Will you be doing something to capitalise upon one of the biggest sporting events in the country next year? I was recently sent a link to a video that has been commissioned by the Yorkshire Dales National Park and as well as being very well edited and put together, it made me smile and reminded me of what we have to offer in the region:

It’s obvious that this video has been commissioned to raise a smile and to support the fact that the Tour de France will pass through many of the Dales villages. What it also does very well is showcase the friendly nature of the people, the amazing scenery and some of the quirky businesses that trade in the Dales.

Using this as just one example, is there something quirky that you could do which perhaps wouldn’t be expected but would build on seasonal sales? As an example, if you are a watch manufacturer and the clocks are going forward, is there an option for you to stay open an hour later or to provide discounts during the ‘lost hour’ in that day.

There are lots of things you can do around annual occasions whatever your business and if there isn’t a day, week or month that you think you can capitalise upon, then I would suggest that you take just half an hour out of your day to sit down with your team and put together a planning session. All you need to do is grab a piece of paper, or a pad of post-it notes and a pen and think of all the seasonal occasions or events that are taking place throughout 2014. You can then dismiss those that you don’t feel can add any value, while working on those that you believe could be used to market your business.

This is often a great way to find out what team members are interested in, as they will come up with suggestions you perhaps hadn’t even thought about.

There have been some great PR campaigns in recent years which have focused on a strong events calendar including the Royal wedding, Diamond Jubilee, Olympics and Paralympics and although we are unlikely to have a similar run of activities in the years to come, we can plan for those things that we know will happen.

To get people started why don’t you share your favourite seasonal or event specific campaigns with us, we’re sure that there is something that has not only caught your eye but also your attention over recent months and that is what good PR and strong creative ideas are all about – building a brand and reinforcing the importance of a positive reputation, which in turn drives sales all year round.

A feather in our flat cap

It’s difficult to pin point just what makes Yorkshire so great but if I had to choose just one thing I would always come back to the people. There is a real honesty about Yorkshire folk that sets it apart from other regions throughout the country. Yorkshire is different – but in the best possible way.

Not only do you have the beautiful countryside on your doorstep but also city living. Leeds Trinity has brought a shopping experience that even I realise we were missing and further planned developments in Sheffield and Bradford will once again put the county on the map. Some people will argue that we will never compete with London but the real truth of the matter is, I don’t believe we want to. We have a fantastic offering in Yorkshire, which is large enough to deliver choice and small enough to give a friendly and personable service.

A regular comment that I hear is that people are so friendly in Yorkshire and that is something to be really proud of. Not only is it a compliment but with the knowledge that people buy people, it has become apparent that being honest, open and friendly leads to better business – who knew!

There great thing is that there is something for everyone in Yorkshire whether you love the great outdoors, enjoy shopping and leisure or are considering starting a business. The county is growing and with that comes exciting times ahead.

Take the Tour de France, who would have thought that Yorkshire would not only welcome but host the Grand Depart of the world’s most famous bike race. Obviously the impact of an event like this is huge and we can presume that it will attract inward investment and showcase the county for everything that it offers.

My hope is that people will stop seeing Yorkshire as a county that isn’t quite there yet and recognise that it is home to some of the UK’s leading brands and businesses. As a Yorkshire girl I have to add a caveat to this blog to say that I am massively biased but that doesn’t mean that the comments that I have made aren’t based on fact.

Recently Yorkshire was crowned Europe’s top tourist destination – now you can’t do much better than that. When we are going head-to-head with the likes of Rome and Paris you know that we have something worth shouting about.

There is something however that Yorkshire isn’t very good at – shouting about its success. Welcome to Yorkshire have done a fantastic job of putting the region on the global map and have without doubt raised the profile of the county in order to encourage the recognition that we deserve but smaller businesses still don’t seem to get it.

The problem is that Yorkshire people are proud and with that comes a sensitivity to sharing their news. People don’t want to shout from the roof tops, they don’t even want to talk too openly about their good news in the pub, they just prefer to get on with it.

As many of us know, this isn’t the way forward. Companies of all sizes need to share their stories and successes in order to let people know what products and services they are offering. In fairness we have seen a slight shift in attitude towards communication from many smaller brands – they understand that they need to communicate they just don’t know how to go about it.

This is where we can help. We offer a service called Open for New Business, which is a full day session that is tailored to each individual organisation. We have never conformed to the belief that one size fits all – or that hosing events for 30 people will be of any real use to them – and so that is why we created Open for New.

The idea is that we create an agenda to cover all of the topics that a business wants to focus on – this could be anything from how to write a press release, to social media strategies or brand buddying. As every business is different and has a unique personality we aim to bring this to the forefront of the session and make it a focus for communications both internally and externally.

Not only is this a great opportunity for businesses who want to address their communications needs but as a single day session there is no monthly fee or retained relationship – we simply pass everything over and get you excited by the opportunities that communicating effectively can bring you.

So come on Yorkshire, let’s start shouting. We shouldn’t be too proud to stand up and be counted for the many successes that we have to share. We are a region that is rich in heritage, has an amazing and varied culture and benefits from a very real enterprising spirit. Let’s not leave it to the Council or Tourist Board to bang the drum – let’s make sure that there is a worthy feather in our traditional flat cap!

What is PR?

We get asked this question all of the time and the answer is relatively simple; PR is the principle of managing the reputation of a brand or business through the implementation of an effective communications strategy, whether that be online, in print or broadcast.

The very nature of PR means that this top line explanation is woolly at best. It doesn’t really tell you much about what it is that we do – it’s just a sentence that you might find in a book. I’m not a huge fan of jargon or textbook speak so to give you a peek into the life of a PR agency here’s a round-up of what I have been getting up to this week.

An early start on Monday with an email from our international client asking for an update on activity completed. It’s not impossible to work with clients from abroad when you manage a PR agency (even when they are at the other side of the world), as ‘new’ technologies allow you to speak face-to-face making it simpler to communicate as and when required. Unfortunately you can’t change time zones and therefore you have to be awake pretty early to pick up these calls but a little planning solves any potential problems.

The week’s planned activity then starts with the launch of the Bondholder, the Diamond Scheme, an initiative supported by public and private sector organisations in Wakefield, which are hoping to generate a fund that will be used to implement a marketing and communications campaign that will promote the district to local, regional and national audiences.

As we are a trade as well as consumer PR agency, it was then on to some feature writing for a client working within the print sector. They have invested in machinery and therefore we are putting some press materials together that will be sent to trade journalists. Raising the clients profile in trade media means that they are able to shout about their successes and let customers and prospective employees know that they are still a major player within their market.

It’s then down to some social media planning. Like many agencies we manage the social media platforms for some of our clients and this means updating schedules, creating new and exciting ideas and being as creative as we can be with imagery. As imagery is a big driver of social engagement it’s no longer just about the words so we get our heads together and come up with some quirky recipe ideas that will support this particular client during a key seasonal activity we have planned.

Updating the social feeds on twitter and Facebook is a daily task for us and so we manage these accounts, check to make sure all responses have been sent and that the feeds are updated. If necessary we will like, share, retweet or favourite comments and take down any posts which are inappropriate and offensive – thankfully we don’t get too much of this.

We then have a visitor to the office, following the recommendation of another client at Open Communications we have a new business meeting. We are always very humbled (and of course chuffed to bits!) when our clients  recommend us to their contacts. We chat for a good hour and explain how PR works and how it could add value to this particular business. As one size does not fit all in PR some thought has to go in to the audience, media and messaging. We agree to put a proposal together, which will give the contact all of the detail that they need, before we arrange a follow up meeting.

Now, on to something completely different.

We have a full schedule of activity for Pom-Bear, the potato based snack brand, this year and as the consumer PR agency are working hard to make sure the business gets best value from the recommendations we have made in relation to events and sponsorships.

As the brand has just launched a new Zoo themed snack we are touring the country to sample more than 50,000 bags at Wildlife Centres and animal attractions including Dudley Zoo, Marwell Park and Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm.

Lots of planning has gone into each event and we have a programme of activities which run back-to-back. As the lead on this account it’s up to me to manage each event and ensure that everything is running as it should be. As an agency that takes huge pride it the clients that we work with, we prefer to be at the events that we plan. There is nothing worse than leaving things to chance and that simply isn’t the way that we work at Open Communications.

So, it’s off to Dudley. The weather has held off and our gazebo, banners, flags and signs are attracting the crowds in the hundreds. Pom-Bear is on great form and has the children dancing, singing and of course sampling his snacks.

As the events on Wednesday and Thursday are during the morning to early afternoon this means that I have chance to catch up on emails and draft some more copy for a series of clients before starting some research on a project we are looking in to.

Regular calls to the office mean that I don’t miss the team too much, although I’m sure they would prefer that I only call if there’s an emergency – I must work on that!

Media relations is the focus for now. We are managing a press event and launch in a couple of weeks so we need to know how many journalists to expect. I will be calling each to find out if they are available and updating the team accordingly. This is a business based story so means that regional, national, print and broadcast journalists are all invited – it’s a big list!

It will then be a follow up on the recent launch of a new product, which should have consumer journalists munching on some tasty samples from Penn State, the classic American snack brand. I will follow up and find out what they think before updating the team and sending further samples to those that have ‘got lost in the post’.

It will then be on to the next Pom-Bear event, which takes place from 6pm – 10.30pm. It’s more Pom-Bear fun, with competitions, dancing, games and more tasty samples.  Unlike some jobs it’s unlikely when you work in PR that you will have a 9am – 5pm role and I’m no different.

On Saturday it’s off to Gillwell Park for a Beaver Scouts Fun Day. It should be a great event and with more than 6,000 eager young members of the Scouting Association in attendance I’m expecting it’s going to be a busy one.  As sponsor of the Adventure Activity Badge for the Scouts, Pom-Bear will make an appearance and will also host a special trail with prizes to be won.

It’s a varied life when you work in PR and that’s why I enjoy my job so much. Whether we are managing the launch of a business, drafting copy for emailers and website, managing the trade and consumer PR activity for leading brands or engaging with journalists and bloggers no two days are ever the same.

I’m very fortunate to have a supportive (and calming) business partner at Open Comms and for those of you who know Emma you will understand what I mean. Someone once said to me that PR was like spinning plates and at the time I didn’t know what they mean. More than 10 years later I couldn’t agree more but when there are two of you working together it makes life so much easier.

Obviously at Open Communications we also have the wider (and growing) team to call upon and this again means that we have the capacity to manage the PR for leading household brands and smaller local businesses – variety is after all the spice of life.

PR is certainly not for the light-hearted but for those of you who didn’t know what it involves I hope you now have some idea of what it is that we do. Now, I’m off to get some work done – there’s no rest for the wicked you know!

An innocent drink with a banker adds value to PR

On occasion there will be a conference or networking session which catches my eye and yesterday I found myself surrounded by bankers (insert your own pun here!) at an event in Bradford.

The Ignite Business Growth seminar was hosted by Barclays and was pitched as an opportunity to hear key note speaker, Adam Balon, one of the founding entrepreneurs behind Innocent Drinks, speak about his business journey and the challenges faced by the brand.

I never like to pass up the opportunity to hear it from those who have ‘been there and done that’ and so went along. Getting the negative out of the way early on in this blog, I was extremely disappointed to find that although Adam was in fact a key note speaker we were watching him through a screen.

It became quickly apparent that the seminar was a collective of smaller events around the country all tuned in to the same station, so to speak. I would have found this quite impressive, particularly as the use of social media and twitter (using a dedicated hashtag #BarcT2M) at the event was a great example of how to use these tools for effective networking, but the fact that this was almost hidden from delegates was not my idea of best practice.

Anyway, on with the show. We were first introduced to Luke Hodson, the brains behind promotional merchandise company Awesome Merchandise. Luke explained how he had taken an idea, which started in the bedroom of a student house he shared with 10 others, to become a successful enterprise turning over more than £2 million a year.

Explaining how he had turned to simple marketing techniques, such as sending out his own products as free samples, to encourage engagement with prospects and build the business was refreshing. It may not set the world alight but ideas like this work.

Luke even mentioned a really simple, yet effective, campaign he had launched using a mug, which had an image of an arrow on it saying ‘I’m awesome’. He sent the mugs out and asked that people have their picture taken with them and send it back. The response was overwhelming with people taking the trouble to have their ‘mug shot’ taken in a whole host of weird and wonderful places, including America.

It was really pleasing to see a local business doing good and to listen to someone who clearly has their head screwed on and the drive, passion and dedication that is needed to make it work.

Next it was over to Barclays to do a not so hard sell before Adam took to the stage.

I don’t know what I was expecting but I have to admit that Adam was a real inspiration. The way he told the story of Innocent Drinks was funny, charming and surprisingly down to earth.  What was most interesting about Adam’s talk was the way that he used experiences alongside tips to make it relevant to the audience.

In some of these events you can find yourself wondering why you are wasting your time listening to some multi-millionaire witter on about how they finally got to the top and that they can confirm that money really can buy you happiness – well, nice work but that isn’t really helpful.

Adam was different. He mentioned that in order to develop a sustainable and successful business you had to have values, vision and purpose. He also mentioned the importance of having a clear tone of voice for the brand, which is used across all communications.

This was music to my ears. We constantly explain to clients and prospects that you need to have an established tone of voice in order to give a brand personality and to provide consistent communications across all platforms.  It makes sense when you think about it but many businesses carry on regardless, leaving customers and prospects wondering why in one sense the company is personable and friendly and in another professional and aggressive.

It was apparent from Adam’s talk that the team from Innocent had done a fantastic job on their PR. They had used the media to secure a listing with Harvey Nichols and from then on went from strength to strength. TV, radio and print media were eager to cover the story of the three boys from London who had launched a fruit juice business from a back bedroom and they made the most of it.

Adam was eager to point out the value of PR and of course I couldn’t agree more. I had no idea that PR would be such a strong topic during this session but I really do hope that people in the room were paying attention and recognising just how important clear, strategic and managed communications and messaging are to a business and its long term success.

The session wasn’t just about the successes of Innocent, although mention was made to the fact that in just three years it went stratospheric making the three owners multi-millionaires and allowing them to employ a full team to support their enterprise, there was also talk of the things that went wrong including dressing as Nuns and trying to ‘pull’ at London fashion week – but I’ll leave those little nuggets under wraps just in case you have a chance to see the Innocent team speak in the future!

Overall the session was inspiring, engaging and useful and certainly made me step back and think about Open Communications and what we do well and perhaps not so well. I strongly believe that you need that reality check sometimes and am sure that other businesses in the room felt the same.

So, well done Barclays, I still think you should have been more honest about the way the session was being run but overall a really good event, which was well worth attending.

Football fever kicks off

I am not a fan of the football. I don’t care that I don’t know the offside rule (irrelevant of the number of times it’s been explained to me – once using a 50p coin!) and my life is no less meaningful because I absolutely do not – and never would want to be – a W.A.G, nor will I ever follow their latest fashion choices even if I was a size zero and had the budgets to do so.

What I do admit to having is a secret love of the camaraderie that comes with the Euros and the World Cup. I like that people get together and spend 90 minutes cheering and chatting, cursing and collectively deciding that when things don’t go to plan the team could be better managed by a pack of rabid wolves.

I also enjoy the way that brands and businesses get behind the teams that they support. Suddenly there is a realisation that everyone in the workplace isn’t necessarily supporting England (shock horror and gasps from each corner of the office) and so the fun begins. Some businesses allow their employees to take the time off to watch the game, while others put it on the TV and radio.

Shouts and calls, boos and hisses are suddenly heard from departments you didn’t even know existed and even though some people don’t want anything to do with whatever match is on, it’s difficult not to ask when the final whistle goes – just so you feel a part of it.

For the next few weeks brands will be announcing quirky ways that they have used some tenuous association to the sporting fun to push their latest red, white and blue products to the masses, and despite many of these seemingly being hair sprays, shower gels and razors it does get you in the spirit.

What did make me smile was to see in the Metro that following the supposed psychic powers of Paul the Octopus, there has been a definite increase in the number of animals which can apparently predict the outcomes of each match including a cow, a pig and a seal – I kid you not. There are even a few elephants and the now deceased Heidi the Opossum with the same claim to fame.

What we want to know is why aren’t the people of Wakefield all over this? We should be supporting the Euro’s and getting this great city on the map and what better way than jumping on the bandwagon?

We have our very own famous, talking sheep literally on the doorstep. Come on people, Curly could predict which teams will or won’t win.  We can’t believe a local brand isn’t all over this. We wait with anticipation – there has to be someone who will use this gift of a PR stunt and simply ask Curly  – ‘who do ewe think will win the Euros?’.

What a diamond of a week!

So, it’s without doubt that Diamond Jubilee mania has hit Britain – good and proper! With the media; papers, radio, TV and online, being no exception.

News desk phones are ringing off the hook, picture editors don’t know which way to turn and features are flat out with every brand trying any which way they can to steer their products into the headlines – and why not?

There seems to have been a bit of grumpiness or perhaps misguided snobbery around the Jubilee with people groaning about ‘another Jubilee related story’ hitting the headlines. But this is a once in our lifetime event? It will never happen again and just like the Royal Wedding, I think we should make the most of it.

This is something that people are going to talk about for years and years to come and it will be our photographs that we are dusting off and showing to our children, grandchildren and friends to show them how to host a real celebration!

People will keep newspaper clippings and footage of their children who are involved in local activities and commemorative events that take place.

What I’m trying to say is that it’s not all about the PR that brands are able to generate – it’s about the whole spirit of the long weekend. I’m not a particular royalist, although I do believe that the country benefits from having a monarch, I just think we have an excellent excuse to get out there (in the sun!) and celebrate like only the UK know how.

So raise a glass to Her Maj’, crack open the Champers (or Prosecco) and get ready for the party of our lifetime. I know I’m looking forward to it and I will be surrounded by as many Union Jack branded products as I can fit in my special ‘Jubilee’ hamper.

Cheers!