Tag: PR agency based in Wakefield

LEAVING LOCKDOWN A BETTER PR PROFESSIONAL

As we are continuing to adapt to new ways of living and working amid the Coronavirus crisis, dare I say that there finally appears to be a slight glimmer of light at the end of a turbulent and challenging tunnel.

Normal has and is continuing to change. Our lives will be impacted by this pandemic for many months to come. And, despite the overwhelming feeling that we are navigating through these unprecedented times together, I cannot help but think that our own experiences will be vastly different.

We are at the brink of a nationwide recession, unemployment rates are rising and most tragically, people are still losing their lives and loved ones to Covid-19. I’m sure I can speak for the majority of people when I say there have been some extremely dark days during this lockdown period.

Yet, despite being drenched in this daily wave of negativity, I must look within my own situation and be at least thankful that many key elements of my daily life have remained intact, especially when it comes to work.

Positivity in the workplace

Like many sectors across the UK, the PR industry hasn’t eluded the damaging impact of the Coronavirus. Here at Open Comms, however, we are fortunate enough that the entire team have managed to keep a sense of business as usual throughout this global crisis.

This transition has certainly not been without its challenges. Similar to many companies across the country, we have all been working remotely. Our processes have had to be modified but we have largely ensured that the services we deliver have remained uncompromised.

This is why I feel fortunate, but it’s not the only reason. When I look back at my own lockdown experience, I recognise that through necessity I have gained valuable new skills, adopted more efficient working practices and my PR skillset is continuously improving.

Learning to adapt

It was inevitable that as the marketplace was impacted by this widespread disruption. Many businesses would have to, rather quickly, change their strategies going forward and for the foreseeable future. This was no different with our clients, and we had to therefore taken both a proactive and a reactive approach.

This was most evident on our clients’ social media channels. To reflect the current climate, we had to completely revise the messaging and tone of a program of activity we had previously collated. In order to avoid any inactivity on these platforms, the new content had to be turned around quickly and then shared across multiple platforms immediately.

Another client reacted to the Covid-19 crisis by amending a critical support service, so it is available to those who need it most at this time. Prior to the launch of this new scheme we took a proactive approach by specifically targeting media titles that have already shown an appetite for sharing this content around the subject.

Upon contacting members of the media, we also repurposed the press release to highlight each specific region in order to secure as much coverage as possible. Following this update, the story was covered throughout the UK, including every region this service is available in.

True value of regular communications

It is at times of crisis that positive communications play such a vital role. At times, PR may not be seen as a ‘must have’ by many, but I believe it is now evident just how valuable it can be. The success of a company can often be attributed to its reputation, and nobody understands how better to grow this then communication experts.

Aside from the successes we have achieved on behalf of our clients in lockdown, one of the biggest triumphs I’ve seen is how the Open Comms team has regularly and robustly continued to communicate, not just with clients, but also with each other. Shifting to remote working can be an arduous adjustment and can put daily correspondence at risk.

Whether it’s transferring our usual team meetings to morning video conferences, scheduling in private calls to further discuss work projects or simply putting on the kettle and having that much needed catch-up, tasks such as these give me that sense of normality, we all long for.

If you would like to know more about Open Comms and the services we offer, why not give us a call on 01924 862477 or contact us here.

CITY CATHEDRAL TO BE ENGULFED IN FIERY GLOW AT NIGHT OF FIRE & LIGHT

Although the brisk remnants of a cold and dull winter are still lurking in the open air, Wakefield is set to turn up the temperature as we welcome in the start of Spring.

As one of the most culturally diverse cities in the UK, the Wakefield district is home to an array of world-renowned attractions. With the likes of the leading international centre for modern and contemporary art, Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP); the award-winning art museum, The Hepworth Wakefield, and the National Coal Mining Museum for England, Wakefield certainly punches above its weight when it comes to things to see and do.

But arguably the most underrated and overlooked cultural offering, which sits in the heart of the city centre, is Wakefield Cathedral.

Although the residents of Wakefield may have become immune to the historic building’s towering and picturesque presence, the public’s interest in the cathedral will certainly be reignited during a two-night event at the end of this month.

Wakefield BID in association with Wakefield Cultural Consortium, the collective of cultural venues and business organisations from across the district, are set to launch a ‘Night of Fire & Light’ as Wakefield Cathedral is transformed into an illuminated cityscape.

Delivered by award-winning outdoor arts organisation, Walk the Plank, on Thursday 26 and Friday 27 March from 7pm – 9.30pm, the Night of Fire & Light will enable families to wander through a series of specially commissioned art installations and sculptures, which will cast a fiery glow around the grade-I listed building and its gardens.

Following flame-lit pathways adorned with intricately carved flower boxes and flame-filled floral chimneys, the event will put the spotlight firmly on the city’s cathedral, which will also be lit as a magnificent backdrop to the event.

Visitors will be able to experience Wakefield Cathedral in a completely new and exciting way! For further details about Night of Fire & Light visit www.experiencewakefield.co.uk/fire-light.

I for one, can’t wait!

UNDERSTANDING THE BENEFITS OF OUTSOURCING PR

Senior management may like it or not, but in order to realise their business’ full growth potential they will have to invest time and money in a robust and strategic communications plan.

Whether it’s raising a company’s profile, increasing brand awareness or protecting an organisation’s reputation, implementing a public relations strategy can be an extremely effective method of generating a significant boost in both revenue and profits.

The challenge, however, is to either keep PR services in-house or pay for an external agency to handle this process.

Although each option will require investment, the focus shouldn’t be put on the most cost-effective approach but rather the one that will deliver the strongest ROI. Looking at the long-term, outsourcing PR and marketing services can be much more advantageous than handling this approach internally.

First and foremost, working with PR agencies gives business leaders full access to an entire team of communication specialists and their varied skill set. No matter how complex the brief may be, agency professionals can each take a key area of focus to deliver a full-service programme of activity.

Once executed successfully, an external service provider can often become strategic partners to the businesses they work with, offering valuable market insight, guidance with future campaigns and expert advice to key decision makers and stakeholders.

Ultimately, PR agencies need to be seen as an extended team of the companies they work with, and not for.

Below are my top three benefits from working with an external PR agency

Team of experts: No matter the marketing or communication requirements, PR agencies will have a team of specialists at an organisations disposal to tackle any issue, often at the same price of hiring just one new employee. Specialisms include copywriting, social media management, digital marketing, press release writing, crisis management, plus many more.

Media relations: PR agencies have developed a vast network of media contacts in many different industries. So no matter what market a business operates in, specific members of press, publications and influencers can be targeted to help generate positive publicity.

Creative outlet: Creativity sits at the heart of PR agencies, whose teams are brimming with unique and imaginative concepts that will create buzz and excitement like never before. Businesses can capitalise whenever they are commenting on current trends, looking to disrupt certain sectors, enter new markets or simply trying to get in front of a wider audience.

Investing in PR should never be seen as ‘a nice to have’ but rather a key catalyst to obtaining further growth.

For more information about how Open Communications works with businesses and brands of all sizes please call a member of the team.

PR CONTINUES TO BE UNDERVALUED AROUND THE BOARDROOM TABLE

PR can often be an outcast and certainly underrepresented around the boardroom table. An unnecessary investment that cuts deep into company budgets. Granted, it can be difficult to measure the true success of a PR campaign but, without developing and maintaining a positive reputation, a company’s image can be put at risk.

The public’s perception has never been so vital to a business’ success and longevity. And as technological advancements continue to merge with our daily lives, the heat of the spotlight is only set to increase even more.

So, what does this mean?

There is very little room for mistakes. Whether it’s a lack of engagement on social media, a refusal to evolve services or an inability to attract new business, garnering a negative perception can often be led to the downfall of any organisation.

But there is hope! This can all be successfully and robustly manged using an effective PR campaign.

The purpose of PR

First of all, companies must determine what they want to achieve from a PR campaign. Versatile by nature, PR campaigns can be as bespoke as needed depending on the specific objectives an organisation intends to meet.

This can be anything from launching a new product, introducing an enhanced service, promoting a special event or the desire to increase the company’s profile and build brand awareness. Gone are the days when a humble press release was the most effective way to communicate with the public. Now a strategic and proactive approach must be implemented in order for a PR campaign to be successful.

Below is a list of things to consider when putting together a public relations plan:

  • Identify target audience
  • Target trade media and journalists that are dedicated to your specialism
  • Engage with target audience through regular social media posts
  • Position yourself as an expert through thought leadership pieces
  • React and comment on topical issues within your field or area
  • Pursue industry-specific award submissions
  • Create more personal and engaging blog posts
  • Pursue interview opportunities with press
  • Create NEWSWORTHY content about your business

Compiling these points into a step-by-step process, which are then scheduled and executed accordingly, will undoubtedly help a company build towards achieving its initial objective.

It is important to remember, however, that the difference between a poor campaign and a successful campaign is the ability to tell a consistent and compelling story.

This is how companies set themselves apart from direct competitors and stay relevant in the public’s perception.

Telling the story

The foundation of a strong PR campaign will be built on a company’s key message. This needs to be constantly seen and reiterated in any content that is produced. The message can be determined by simply asking why? Why is a company rebranding; expanding the workforce; releasing a new product; investing in IT infrastructure; moving offices; and so on.

Although the newsworthy angle will be to focus on what is currently happening within that company, the underlying messaging is often the reason behind it.

For example, a fashion house may announce the launch of a new store opening that will create 25 new jobs. Although this appears to be strong, albeit relatively straight forward news story, the underlying message may be that the store opening is part of a wider expansion strategy to help the fashion house hit the £5m turnover mark in the next 12 months.

For the duration of the PR campaign, the messaging should constantly echo that the fashion house is set to grow to a £5m business. As this is shared via journalists in the press, through social media, in blogs and other available platforms, the public perception will begin to view this fashion house as a growing and ambitious brand.

Communicating the story of the business can often lead to establishing stronger relationships between customers, members of the media and stakeholders, which in turn will help build brand awareness and customer loyalty. Once a brand establishes a strong following and reputation, the longevity of success will significantly increase.

Back to the boardroom

Taking all of this into account, it could be considered foolish for those with their hands on the budgets to deny a business the opportunity to protect and build its reputation.

The truth is that when PR is embraced and used to meet with the wider objectives of a company it can have a profound impact, not only on the brand profile but also the bottom line.

For more information about how Open Communications works with businesses and brands of all sizes please call a member of the team or email info@opencomms.co.uk.

NEW YEAR, IMPROVED ME?

NEW YEAR, IMPROVED ME?

The arrival of a brand-new year often fills us with immense motivation. And so, from the first day of January, most of us embark on a pretty ambitious journey.

Determined to get fitter, healthier, happier, we create resolutions. Often this is done to eliminate bad habits and establish better ones. Some practical, some slightly unrealistic.

Personally, I like the tradition of creating new year’s resolutions. I think wanting to improve yourself is great. Although self-improvement should be an all year-round quest, I can understand how for many people, a new year almost feels like a blank slate.

A fresh start.

This year, I’m partaking in the hype. While I am not planning on making any elaborate changes, I have decided to take the start of 2020 as an opportunity to begin incorporating better practices into my daily life.

Here are a few things I want to do this year:

  • Spend more time with family and friends
  • Cook more
  • Take more pictures
  • Drink less coffee
  • Stay consistent at the gym
  • Sign up for a charity run
  • Not check my work email on weekends…

Though it may seem that New Year’s resolutions are made to be forgotten, fingers crossed I can follow through with mine!

Whatever your resolutions may be, I hope that 2020 brings everything you’ve hoped for and more!

Happy New Year everyone. 😊

 

‘WORKING’ IN A WINTER WONDERLAND

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

Unique workspaces

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

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

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

Productivity through place

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

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

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

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

Deck the halls!

This is something Open Communications does very well!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas from all at Open Communications

HELP JOURNALISTS HELP YOU! A STRUCTURED GUIDE TO FORMATTING PRESS RELEASES

At Open Communications we thrive on delivering result for our clients. The impact of the PR and content marketing campaigns we produce for different brands and businesses can be measured in many ways, but none more so effectively than securing press coverage.

This is the bread and butter of PR!

There is no better way of enhancing an organisations reputation than going straight to the media. And the modest press release still remains an essential tool to make this happen!

The process behind the press release

Although press releases may appear to be straightforward documents, creating a finished article can require a lot of time and work, whether it’s producing a snappy headline; writing the perfect quote for a CEO or seeking final approval from all parties involved. It’s not as easy as it looks.

But once this is all complete, the exciting part begins.

There is no better feeling in PR than sending out a press release to the media, waiting in anticipation to see your hard work shared across multiple news outlets. Conversely, there is no worse feeling than when it doesn’t get any coverage at all.

Creating compelling content   

As journalists are inundated with dozens of press releases every day, you must give them a reason to open your email and then actually read the content inside.

Before you begin writing the press release, you must identify what the most ‘newsworthy’ angle is. This will help you form the headline and introduction to the story and, most importantly, it is what will help the journalist when deciding whether to publish the article or not.

In order to create a news ‘hook’, you need to determine why people would want to read the press release in the first place and then try to make it relevant to as many people as possible. It’s important to remember that you are not just trying to appeal to journalists, but to those who read the publication that they work for.

Newsworthy or not newsworthy that is the question

If a client was completing a significant investment into their business, we’d identify what would appeal to people and encourage them to take time out of their day to click on the article whilst also fulfilling the client’s brief.

Although it may seem obvious to lead with the value of an investment, the impact that this will have on the business may also create an appealing angle and so should not be dismissed.

Hitting the headlines

For instance, a business will want to have a press release written regarding a six-figure investment programme over a 12-month period. Instead of going with a generic investment-led press release, it is worth digging a bit deeper to ask further questions; what are they investing in? How much will the investment be? Will this lead to new job creation?

After initially starting with a story focusing on ‘business announces major investment’, the finished article will have a more enhanced angle, such as ‘x number of IT jobs created following £200,000 investment’.

When a journalist is sent the final email, they will know the story is about job creation in a growing sector following a £200,000 investment. These three aspects will have greater appeal to more media titles than before.

The regional media will be interested in covering it due to the impact the new jobs will have on the local economy; trade media will be attracted to the IT element of the story and the business media will also be pulled in the direction of the investment.

So, not only is more detail revealed about the story just in the headline, but the number of media publications interesting in publishing it will have significantly increased. Ultimately, the final piece should leave you with a newsworthy article that meets with the objectives of all concerned; agency, client and journalist.

Final thoughts

When you manage a press office for a client you can be working on multiple releases at any given time. It’s not just about the content, but as mentioned above, it’s the audience too. Writing with the reader in mind will make all the difference.

A simple tip would be to remember the basics; who, what, when, where and why? If you answer these questions within your first two paragraphs, you should be providing all the information that a journalist needs.

Putting the headline in the subject of the email and making the angle clear will signpost the journalist to exactly what you have to offer. And finally, whenever possible, send an image! The less correspondence a journalist needs to have with you the better your chances are of securing coverage.

CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT HOW OPEN COMMUNICATIONS APPROACHES MEDIA RELATIONS

YORKSHIRE PASSION PACKAGED DIFFERENTLY

I’ve always felt passionate about being from Yorkshire. The distinct accent, rich history, beautiful scenery and, of course, a plentiful choice of pubs are just a few of the many reason why our region really does deserve the moniker ‘God’s Own County’.

As the biggest county in the UK, Yorkshire is home to numerous towns, villages and several major cities, which are all supported by a diverse and growing economy. The region is without question a hotbed for all different kinds of activity.

But one major aspect of Yorkshire that can be overlooked is its vast cultural offering, and the beating heart of this is arguably situated in the district of Wakefield.

Although culture may not be synonymous with this area, this past summer I attended a unique event which is aiming to promote the many different venues, businesses and experiences across Wakefield and the five towns through the impact of providing a positive customer service.

Hosted by the Wakefield Cultural Consortium, the collective of cultural venues and organisations from across the district, the Yorkshire Passion programme comprised two short plays and a film written by globally acclaimed playwright, John Godber.

The first part of the play saw three actors perform a variety of roles in a production that centred around the awful customer service someone experienced during their first visit to Wakefield. After having negative experiences with the district’s taxi drivers, hotel staff, museum tour guides and café owners, the first-time visitor pledged never to visit the area again.

In what was an extremely entertaining and well-acted performance, John Godber and the actors cleverly demonstrated how the people who live and work in the district play a major role in the promotion of the area.

The district currently attracts 8 million visitors that contribute £448 million to the local economy each year, supporting no fewer than 8,000 jobs. These figures are supported through the cultural destinations of Wakefield, which include the The Hepworth Wakefield, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the National Coal Mining Museum for England, Theatre Royal Wakefield, Xscape Yorkshire and The Art House, to name a few.

The success of these organisations depends on the number of visitors they attract. The programme suggested that if a consistently high level of customer service is provided, this will not only encourage visitors to come back, but also attract new people to the district.

With that being said, the second part of the play saw the three actors play the exact same roles, but this time the first-time visitor experienced extremely positive customer service. The play clearly showed how this visitor was satisfied with his trip to Wakefield and will look to return in the not too distant future.

The message was clear, the people who live and work in Wakefield need to act as ambassadors for their district and show off all that it has to offer.

For someone who has lived in this district all his life, I had no idea that there was such a rich and diverse mix of cultural destinations on offer.

A campaign for the collective good

We were pleased to be asked to attend a very special launch this week, which took place at the Hepworth Art Gallery in Wakefield on Monday morning. Along with a room full of business people we were told about a new initiative which will ask businesses to contribute a fixed fee to become part of the Bondholder, the Diamond Scheme.

Taking learnings from Hull, which has successfully implemented a similar campaign for the last ten years, Wakefield will call upon businesses to invest their money in order to create a fund which will then be used to market the city locally, regionally and beyond. As a PR agency based in Wakefield this idea was clearly of great interest to us.

Each company that chooses to take part will receive a series of benefits including marketing materials, access to an online procurement platform and special sector specific networking events and breakfast briefings. Larger companies will also benefit as this could form part of their corporate social responsible due to the very nature of the Scheme.

The reason it is more interesting than ‘just another initiative’ is that the Scheme has been developed by public and private sector business. Not only that but a panel of 12 ambassadors will manage the ‘cash pot’ and decide where the funds should be invested – providing a completely impartial and transparent procurement process.

Needless to say this creates opportunities for Wakefield based companies to support the district, raise its profile beyond the M62 and also encourage investment locally, after all these are the businesses that share a passion for the area and have first class experience of what it has to offer.

I really like this idea and am pleased at last that Wakefield as a collective are getting off their bottom and doing something to raise the profile of the district, after all it has a huge amount to offer.  It will be interesting to see how many businesses come forward to support the initiative and I hope that those who have committed verbally will do so.

As a Wakefield based PR agency we talk a lot in the office about what more could be done to promote the district and we are hoping that the Bondholder, the Diamond Scheme will deliver on its promises to do just that. There is a hub of creative businesses within Wakefield and the five towns and the biggest frustration is that the area has so much potential but doesn’t shout about its success!

As always with things like this there are questions to be answered but at the very least something is happening that could just turn the tables for Wakefield and change perceptions about the city, which after all has a rich cultural, leisure, business and retail offering.

As the agency that supported the launch of this Scheme and secured coverage throughout regional media, we  will be watching this Scheme closely and will provide readers of our blog with updates. I’m hoping that they will be positive and other cities will be using Wakefield as an example of best practice in the months and years to come.