Tag: Wakefield

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.

Just your average week – or not!

I’ve been a little quiet on our blogging front over the past week so apologies – I’m sure you have all been sat waiting eagerly for my next update *wink, wink*

So anyway, I do have my excuses for not posting which start with a two day trip to the largest food show in the country. As a PR agency we don’t just sit at our desks writing press releases our relationships and role, thankfully, go way beyond this.

The International Food Exhibition (IFE) takes place every two years and we went along with a client to listen to speakers talk about topics such as how the snacking market is changing, the increase in health claims and changes to legislation within food packaging. We also wanted to take the time to find out what new trends and innovations were hitting the shelves and which brands were shouting loudest – plus, more importantly, how they were doing it.

The show was fantastic. There were two halls full of stands with many of them offering samples – you can’t go wrong!

It wasn’t until Tuesday evening that I realised just how much information I had gathered when I was trying to get my bags – and samples – back on the train. So it was back to good old Wakefield before dashing home, getting changed and setting off to the Wakefield Council business celebration dinner.

The event was held at Space, which is a venue I hadn’t been to before. We all sat down to a super dinner and inspirational speech from Richard Noble, who holds the land speed world record and is working hard to create a car that will go 1,000 mph. Now that’s some going!

The talk was really interesting and it was a great opportunity to chat with colleagues from the District and meet with some new faces over a glass of wine or three.

Wednesday came along and we were exhibiting at the Wakefield Business Conference. As a Wakefield based PR agency we are always keen to get out and about. The city has a great deal to offer and as the preferred PR partner for the event we wanted to show our faces and also meet new contacts.

The day went very quickly and for those who came along we hope you picked up some of our – now famous – mints. Remember people we offer a ‘fresh’ approach to PR – do you see what we did there?

Anyway Thursday came around but felt strangely like it should be Monday and it was catch-up day. Emails, paperwork, campaign planning, new business proposals all to be written in the day. Then an internal (at the pub if I’m honest) meeting after work and back home.

And so we are here today. A meeting this morning and new business session this afternoon all pieced together with copy writing for a consumer competition, recommendations for campaign engagement with clients, social media updates, suggested social media strategies for the next six months and back to traditional press copy with several comment pieces to be drafted before close of play – oh and a blog!

Phew. So, you see, not such an average week in the office but then that’s what makes working in PR so challenging and rewarding.

I’m pleased to say that the week is yet to be over – after all it’s only 4pm and we don’t do part time at Open Comms – so we’re going to a final event in celebration of Wakefield Business Week tonight.

The event is aptly named Beer and a Burger and we are all going along to share in the success of the city and to raise a glass to business. It’s always fun to meet with the great and good of the city and to couple this with beer and burger is inspired.

After that I will be heading home and don’t mind admitting after all that I think I’ll hit the sofa and sleep for a week!  Night all.

 

A proud Northerner

There have been a number of comment pieces recently requesting that brands and businesses consider suppliers outside of London. I wasn’t aware that there was a need to put out this call to action but apparently some companies feel that in order to get the best you have to go down South.

You won’t be surprised to hear that I’m not a believer of this philosophy, not because I’m from the North and proud of it but because I fail to see how geography can make you the best at what you do. I can only presume that you get to Kings Cross and by some miracle become a guru in your given sector.

It’s laughable that businesses still feel the need to ‘fake’ an office in London in some bizarre effort to 1. Look bigger than they are and 2. Attract bigger business.  Would it not be more productive and indicative of long term relationships to be honest?

With transport links being what they are today you can get to London, should you wish to, from Wakefield in around 2 hours. Knowing a number of people who live and work in London they find it difficult to cross the city in this time.

Not only do I know that there is an immense amount of talent in the North but also that we have leading organisations based here and also the events to support business and encourage growth.

Take for example two events that are coming up in the next couple of months – and I do have to take this opportunity to confess that Open Communications manage the PR for both – Wakefield Business Week and the Buy Yorkshire Conference.

Wakefield Business Week is a celebration of the success of the district. The week-long showcase is an open source event, which means that it is fully inclusive and allows for any business, group or individual to get involved and promote an event they are hosting from 18 – 22 March.

Right in the middle of the week is Wakefield Business Conference which will bring together more than 500 delegates, 50 exhibitors and a selection of headline speakers who will come together to network, connect and share their experiences. What a great way to meet potential suppliers and clients.

Then there is the Buy Yorkshire Conference, the largest business to business event in the North. This event, formerly the Yorkshire Mafia Conference, is off the scale. Attracting a massive 3,500 delegates, 170 exhibitors and a list of speakers that you simply couldn’t pay to see it is a must for any serious business.

We will be exhibiting at both of these conferences and I am looking forward to both. Not because we may generate business as a result, although that is obviously part of the reason we will be there, but to meet with new faces and contacts.

I am looking forward to introducing people to Open Communications and explaining that there is such a thing as a straight talking PR agency that cares more about results than air kissing! I want people to understand that you don’t have to go to London to find a PR agency that you can trust and most importantly that we are part of a vibrant and growing business community.

Business is still booming in the North and companies that only work with those who are based in the South are quite honestly missing out.

 

OPEN SHOWS SUPPORT FOR WAKEFIELD BUSINESS WEEK

We are pleased to announce that Open Communications will be supporting the first ever business week to come to Wakefield. The event, which takes place from 18 – 22 March will celebrate the great and good of the district, while promoting the many benefits that the city has to offer.

As a leading Wakefield based PR agency, Open Communications will implement a full media relations programme for the week, working closely with the team from Wakefield Business Week and also Wakefield City Council and partners.

As a business which has launched and flourished in Wakefield we are so excited to be supporting this week long series of events. The city has a great deal to offer entrepreneurs who are able to see the potential that the district has to offer.

We launched in 2008 and have never looked back. Not only are we close to motorway links but we are surrounded by an active and complementary support network of suppliers that we can call upon as and when required. There really is no better place to be based.

As the chosen PR agency for the first business week we are eager to connect with those who feel they have a story to tell, so please do get in touch if you have a positive announcement or some good news that you would like to share.

We hope that Wakefield businesses will take the time to support this week long series of events and make it the success that is should be.

 

Open Comms makes a move and secures two new clients

“Open Communications, the PR and marketing communications agency based at Nostell Priory Estate Yard near Wakefield, is celebrating four years in business with two new account wins and a move to larger premises.”

How exciting, we are finally in a position to announce our office move (it was three months in the planning!). After achieving four years of growth we have moved to purpose built offices at Nostell Priory Estate Yard. It’s exciting times and not least because we now have our very own meeting room and a store cupboard for all of the products we manage for our clients – Hannah still looks gleeful everytime she comes in and doesn’t have to move a pile of boxes to get to her desk.

In addition to the office move we can also confirm that we have been appointment as preferred PR supplier to Al-Murad Tiles, the largest independent tiles re-seller in the UK and Abduls takeaway and diner with sites in Pontefract and Wakefield.

We will be managing the PR and promotions for both businesses and will work with the teams to generate campaigns that run throughout the year increasing footfall and improving brand awareness.

It has been an interesting and eventful four years to say the least. We set out to create a straight talking PR agency that would care less about air kissing and more about achieving results and that’s exactly what we have done. As a result, we now have new premises and a list of clients that we are incredibly proud of.

As well as securing retained clients, over the years we have also developed a range of services including Open for New Business, an offering which makes PR accessible to smaller businesses and Open 27/7, crisis management for companies who require support during their most challenging times.

Since we launched in 2008 Open Communications has developed as an agency and we now work with some of the UK’s leading businesses including snack manufacturer, Intersnack and confectionery brand HARIBO. We have also been proud to work with smaller businesses who we continue to support as they develop and grow.

All in all we are a very proud and passionate team and would like to take this opportunity to thank our clients, our suppliers, colleagues and those we network with. Here’s to four years and many more to come!

Wakefield really does work!

I recently posted a blog about Open Communications agreeing to get involved with a local initiative, Wakefield Works. The concept was thought up by Andy Turner from First Choice Recruitment and Marcello Moccia from Room: 97, in partnership with the Wakefield Express.

Rather than sitting around and complaining about the lack of jobs for young people within the Wakefield District, these two entrepreneurs encouraged more than 35 local companies to agree to open their doors to prospective employees for a day. The only real commitment from the businesses who chose to get involved was to give some time and also a minimum of two weeks work experience to any relevant candidate that was interviewed.

As an example of businesses being pro-active and supporting the potential of the district I think this was a shining example of working together and making a difference.

In contrast, I attended the First Friday event last week and was disappointed to hear some people focusing on the negative and referencing the number of candidates who registered yet didn’t take the time to get turn up for the respective appointments.

I don’t think that when providing feedback about an event that this should have been the focus. I think it would have made more sense to give those who arranged the initiative the credit that they deserve for taking their time to do so and then for those involved to provide examples of how well the activity had worked.

We had two candidates turn up to Open Comms on the day and I am pleased to announce that we have agreed to provide a two week work placement for one of them. The candidate that we chose has relevant experience and has the chance to prove themselves to be a real asset to our team.

This is the kind of feedback that we should be focusing on, not the negative. Perhaps by showing how many work placements were agreed as a result of this activity those who didn’t bother to turn up to their appointments will recognise the mistake that they have made and the opportunity that they missed out on.

I would personally like to say a huge thank you to Andy, Marcello, the Wakefield Express and Wakefield Job Centre Plus for their support in making this initiative a success. Without their time and effort it would never have happened and we would be another city just sitting around waiting for someone else to turn the employment statistics around.

I’m hoping that businesses who did get involved in Wakefield Works will agree that it was worth the time and effort and that it should become a regular event in the Wakefield business calendar. Let’s get Wakefield working, focus on the positives and benefit from what we can achieve as a collective.

Don’t reinvent your business

Since we launched Open Communications in 2008, we have learnt a lot – not least the difference between a P9, P11 and P45!  We have also done a great deal of networking and now have a number of suppliers who we regularly rely on to provide us with the products and services we need.

What has always worried me is that there are lots of people we meet who say that in order to ‘stay ahead of the game’ you have to constantly reinvent your business. I don’t agree with this at all. I often come across people who claim to do this and then that and then the other and the harsh reality is that they don’t do any one thing well.

We are a PR agency and we also provide clients with marketing communications – in simple terms we are all about the words. If you want to communicate with someone and you want to bring a campaign to life then we will support you to do it.

We work with businesses of all sizes and there have been times when I have to admit that I can understand why some agencies profess to be ‘full service’ when the truth is that they just outsource to freelancers.

There are two things that are wrong with this approach; you are not being honest with clients and it’s likely to come back and bit you on the backside and any company managing an account in this way is going to take on the hassle of justifying someone else’s work when / if it goes wrong, even worse the client will believe it’s down to you!

Rather than reinventing your business, why not add products or services which complement your current offering. As an example we launched Open for New Business, which allows us to work with smaller companies who cannot afford a retained agency.

The benefits are that a smaller business gets access to our knowledge and time, while we extend our offering to a wider customer base.  Since launching this service in 2010 we have had some excellent feedback and as we have been open and honest with clients about why we are doing this and what exactly we offer it works.

Open for New Business doesn’t mean that we can’t work with bigger business, it just means that we can also work with smaller companies who are in the position of wanting to know more without having the budgets to invest in a month on month service.

If we started to offer design, web development, sampling and event management then that would be a different thing entirely and I’m sure our clients first question would be to see examples of previous campaign and proven results – oops, we don’t have any doesn’t sound too good!

So next time you hear someone suggesting that you reinvent your business, think twice. What will your customers think if you suddenly start offering a host of new services – and be honest, would you have the time to do all of these things to the standards that your customers expect? If the answer is no, then it’s worth going back to the one thing you’re good at and building a reputation for doing it really well.

Supporting local initiatives because ‘Wakefield Works’

As a Yorkshire PR agency and Wakefield based business, we were asked recently to attend a meeting with like-minded  companies in the area, who would support a local initiative to provide unemployed people in the district with advice and guidance, in the hope that they may secure temporary or permanent roles as a result.

The initiative, Wakefield Works, was the brain child of local entrepreneurs Andy Turner from First Choice Recruitment and Marcello Moccia from Room:97 hairdressers. The concept is relatively simple – each business who agrees to get involved will open their doors on Thursday 4 October and will commit to meeting with local unemployed people who choose to visit their business.

Giving around 15 – 20 minutes to each candidate, businesses are asked to provide advice and guidance to each person, while also answering any questions that they have. In addition the company will provide one person from those who visit the organisation with a week’s work placement.

What a great idea! So simple, yet potentially very effective.

Needless to say here at Open Communications we are getting behind this project 100% and hope to meet with some very interesting and inspiring people as a result. I think it’s important to highlight that the people who are looking for work in the region can be any age and any level of experience and that is what makes this approach all the more interesting.

If as a result of this activity just one person finds temporary or full time work then it has been a success – ideally more will follow and we will find that as a result of this activity the companies who choose to get involved will also help to reduce local unemployment levels.

So come on – here’s a shout out to all those businesses within the Wakefield district who aren’t involved in this great initiative yet. Get in touch with Andy Turner at andy@first-choice.co.uk and find out more about how you can help to make our area a better place. You never know, you could just find the new recruit of your dreams. Stranger things have happened!

 

 

Ready at the starting blocks – but not for sport

We were asked recently to deliver a presentation during an event in Castleford run by Wakefield Enterprise Partnership. The purpose of the event was to provide advice and guidance to people who were considering starting up a business. As a result we were asked, as a Wakefield based PR agency, to discuss communications and how you could go about setting the foundations before you reach the starting blocks and launch a company to the market.

We really enjoy events like this, not least because you get to meet so many new people with a real passion for the products or services that they have to offer. What was most striking from the event was the variety of businesses that people were hoping to start from web based companies right through to a consultant offering health and well-being in the workplace.

It was encouraging to see that the room was full of people with ambition and a genuine desire to do well. Some of them had been made redundant, whereas others just felt it was the right time to take the plunge.

Events like this always take me back to when we launched Open Communications in September 2008. It feels like a lifetime ago now but we had a clear plan and a definite determination to make it work. We were entering an unknown territory having never owned or run a business before and I think this is what people forget when they consider starting a company.

We were both professional PR consultants with experience and a portfolio of excellent results – what we didn’t have was any idea about a P11d, corporation tax, VAT bills or employer and employee PAYE payments. It’s a real minefield.

Thankfully we were surrounded by people who were only too willing to help and this support was gratefully received. For those out there considering starting a business I would think hard about putting the foundations into place first before offering a product or service to the market.

It sounds like common sense to plan before you launch but the simplest things are those that people overlook, such as getting your messaging right, knowing your market and communicating with your customers and not your competitors.

I hope that those who attended the presentation got the advice that they were looking for and that our talk was of genuine benefit to them. We certainly received some very positive responses.  I will be looking out for some of those people over the coming months and expecting to see them in the pages of their local papers as a result of launching the businesses that they were so passionate about.

One thing is for sure, I’m a great believer in people buying people and those who attended that session were doing so to make sure they had everything in place – if you put the effort in, you will get the reward. All that remains for us to say is good luck to them all.

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?’.