Author: Alice Midgley

Guide: Why awards are brutally good PR

At the end of last week, the team from Publicity Seekers put on our glad rags for the annual Hartlepool Business Awards. 


Put together by the Hartlepool Business Forum, the yearly event is always a fantastic evening, bringing the business community of Hartlepool together and celebrating the abundance of successes from the past 12 months. 


A fancy dinner followed by a glittering award ceremony, of which I was invited on stage as the new Hartlepool MP Mike Hill’s glamourous assistant, the evening not only highlighted the best of the best but brought to my attention the number of great businesses that are based in the town. 


And this really got me thinking, thanks to these awards I am now aware of businesses which before I had no idea existed. 


Apart from potentially getting to take home a trophy and a certificate, there are so many benefits to entering awards, awards really are great PR. 


Entering awards is a great way to show that you mean business, and an even greater way to persuade potential customers that you’re as good as you say you are. 


Not only is it free marketing that will help improve your brand awareness, a shortlisting, nomination or a win, is a brilliant 3rd party endorsement for your business and a seal of approval for your products or services and a sign of quality for your customers. 


It’s also a great way of differentiating you from your competitors, automatically setting you one step higher in the eyes of your target customers. 


  • The entering 


It’s a mixed bag with awards, some are free to enter, some have fees attached, some require you to write submissions, and others you simply put yourself forward for or are nominated for by someone else. 


The Hartlepool Business Awards are free to enter but require entrants to write a submission, touching on a number of factors suggested by the judging panel. 


This is the first and often the biggest hurdle for entrants. ‘I don’t have the time to sit and write an submission for an award’ or ‘I’m not a great writer and struggle to fit all the points needed into a concise submission.’ 


Well that’s what we’re here for. At Publicity Seekers we will do the leg work for you. After a bit of background research in to your business and the award you are wanting to enter, we’ll sit with you for an hour or so, get all the information we need, and go away to put an award winning submission together. 


And I’m not just saying that, our submissions really are award winning. A number of clients return to us year after year asking us to write submissions for a variety of different awards, and our success rate of getting clients shortlisted is through the roof. 


Here’s just a couple of examples from this year…. 


Hart Biologicals walked away from the Made in North East Awards last October with not one but two wins. They were named Manufacturer of the Year (under £25m) and Exporter of the Year 


The team at Total Recycling Awards were crowned the winners of the Best Services Provider award at the Teesside heat of the North East Business Awards in March. 


J&B Recycling are gearing up for the National Recycling Awards in June, where they are shortlisted for the efficiency award, as well as the Independent Operator of the Year. 


  • Getting shortlisted 


Getting shortlisted for an award brings with it a heap of benefits.  

It’s a fantastic opportunity to improve brand awareness and build the business or the business leader profile. 


Many awards are closely associated with a particular publication which will cover the shortlisting for its readers, and alongside this you have the opportunity to maximise PR exposure through your own platforms. Get a story up on the news section of your website, update social media, email signatures, and any other marketing materials with the finalist logo, and basically shout from the rooftops about your achievement in any way you can. 


  • The awards ceremony 


Getting shortlisted for an award often comes with a glittering award ceremony. The ceremonies themselves are a fantastic opportunity to recognise just how much the business has achieved with those who have made it possible, the team around you. Celebrating successes is great for team morale which we all know, in turns makes for happier more motivated employees. 


The awards may even be a great opportunity to woo potential clients. If you have space on your table you can invite them along for an evening of good food, good wine and all you best charm.  

They’ll walk away remembering your kindness and what a good night they had, and next time they’re looking for the services you offer, likelihood is that you’ll be the first business that springs to mind. 


But most importantly, attending an award ceremony is the opportunity to work the room. NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK.  

Get your business card as far and as wide as the room will allow. In my eyes there is no better way of building relationships than by attending networking events, and award ceremonies tend to be a lot bigger than your average mid-week networking breakfasts. 




If you are fortunate enough to be crowned the winner of your category then that’s bloody brilliant!  


You’ve been banging on about how good the business is for ages now, but having that brilliance recognised by someone else, so much so that you’ve beaten other businesses to the top, is one of the greatest 3rd party endorsements you could ask for. 


Award wins increase credibility, and act as a sign of quality for potential customers. Winning awards can also strengthen the relationships you have with suppliers and differentiates you from your competitors. An all-round success really. 


Award winners are also likely to receive further coverage in the publication associated with the awards or in the local/regional news. 


Some may even run pull our supplements of all the winners, a fantastic way to raise your profile and get people talking about your business. 




We’re nearing the end of this year’s awards season, but come next year I urge you to consider what being named the winner of an award could do to boost your business. 

And as always, we’re here to help. Feel free to give us a bell, we’ll be happy to discuss options and offer any advice. 


I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the winners from this year’s Hartlepool Business Awards, particularly our clients Seymour Civil Engineering who took home the Investment in Training award, as well as being named the Overall Business of the Year. 

D Day looms as businesses prepare for GDPR

GDPR, the four dreaded letters that are ruining lives up and down the country.

And why is it such a life ruiner? Cause it’s a massive ball ache that’s why!


The development of the internet over the past 20 years has totally flipped the way we communicate on its head, and as the current Data Protection Act hasn’t been updated since 1998, pre-smart phones and social media, these new regulations have been a long time coming.


With D Day, or rather G-Day, a matter of weeks away (May 25), this week the Publicity Seekers team and I have dedicated our lives to getting our heads around this absolute minefield and continued finalising new processes and policies, both for ourselves and our clients.


I’m pleased to say that we’ve got all our affairs in order and are ready to welcome GDPR with open arms, but it’s still pretty worrying to hear SME’s say ‘we’ve still got ages to sort stuff out’ or ‘I don’t think it’s going to impact us much’.


SME’s are just as much in the firing line when it comes to GDPR as UK brand giants. If anything, the repercussions of a data breach will be even more disastrous.


So what’s the impact of GDPR from a PR perspective?


Well, apart from the truly horrific fines that businesses are at risk of receiving, SME’s out there, good luck coming up trumps with a cool £17m, on top of this, if you’re company is being inspected or suffers a data breach, it’s not going to do anything for your reputation.


After the 25th May we’ll be entering a new data era, where people will have much greater expectations on how their personal information is managed and much greater rights to ask for that information to be edited or deleted all together.


And it’s not just customers or clients we’re talking about here. Its employees, suppliers, partners, any company stakeholders basically. That’s a lot of people’s information to consider.


So what have I taken away from our week of GDPR?


Well the main thing I’ve taken away is that there’s a hell of a lot to take in. It’s safe to say that by 5pm on Tuesday afternoon, my brain probably resembled a pile of scrambled egg.

What is important to remember is that GDPR isn’t and should never be seen as a tick box exercise.

In order to be compliant with the new regulations there needs to be a major shift in process and most importantly attitude of everyone within a business.


If this means running training courses to get everyone up to speed, DO IT!

If this means running regular fresher courses in the next few months, DO IT!

If it means getting a professional in to audit your systems and set you an action plan, DO IT!


Yes, preparation is time consuming and an expense to your business, but I’m sure you’d much rather this smaller expense now, than face an unpayable fine later down the line.

J&B celebrates double shortlisting for the MRW National Recycling Awards 2018

NORTH East based J&B Recycling is in line for a national award after being recognised for the exceptional work they deliver within the waste management industry.

The well-established recycling company, has been shortlisted for both Independent Operator of the Year and the Efficiency Award at the 2018 National Recycling Awards.

The annual ceremony, which brings together over 650 recycling and waste management professionals at The Hilton on Park Lane in London, is recognised as being the most respected within the industry.

J&B’s Managing Director, Vikki Jackson-Smith, said: “To be shortlisted amongst some of the biggest names in the UK’s waste management sector is an amazing achievement for the business. The past financial year has been an exceptional year for J&B Recycling. With an abundance of major investments and record financial growth, coupled with efficiency processes that have been of massive benefit to the business.’’

The shortlisting has come just weeks after the company celebrated its 20th anniversary with a series of investments made to its plant, machinery and vehicle fleet, totalling £1.3m.

“Myself and the team at J&B are incredibly proud of our existing position as the largest independent waste management firm in the North East of England. And national recognition, as J&B Recycling celebrates its 20th year of trading, would be a real honour and privilege,’’ Vikki added.

Over the past 12 months, J&B has won other prestigious awards in recognition of its hard work within the trade. Late last year the company was crowned ‘Recycling Firm of the Year’ by the International Corporate LiveWire Innovation & Excellence Awards 2018.

With the capacity for the handling and sorting of up to 75,000 tonnes of recyclable materials per annum, the company achieved record growth for the financial year ending 2017, reporting a turnover of £15.7m.

Construction workers makes Egg – ceptional donation to Newcastle food bank

Thanks to the generosity of team members from Seymour Civil Engineering, hundreds of children in Newcastle will have a smile on their faces this Easter.

Employees from the North East-based civil engineering firm teamed up with Beamish Museum staff to collect over 200 chocolate Easter eggs, which have been donated to the Newcastle West End Foodbank, helping parents who can’t afford them this Easter.

Tom Brown, Site Manager at Seymour, received a message from Greg Tennet, who volunteers at the foodbank, asking if he could contribute to the shortage of Easter eggs they have received this year.

Tom said: ‘’As a parent myself, this got me pretty upset knowing that families in the North East struggle to afford a £1 Easter egg for their child. After a chat with all the site staff and site operatives at from Seymour, Beamish Museum and Linear Recruitment, we decided to donate as many Easter eggs as we could.’’

The company, who are working on the £18 million ‘Remaking Beamish’ expansion project at the open air museum in County Durham, came together and managed a total count of 212 eggs with a further £20 in donations.

Tom continued: ‘’It was a great moment turning up to the foodbank with bags and bags of eggs, the staff were smiling from ear to ear. To most people, it’s only a bit of chocolate, it’s pretty meaningless, but to those less fortunate it can potentially brighten their whole day.’’

He continued: “I could not be prouder of my team; they have no idea how happy they will make so many children in the North East this Easter. As a network, we want to see more people helped out of crisis and fewer people needing foodbanks in the future.’’

Newcastle West End Foodbank helps provide for around 40,000 people in Newcastle every year, but this would not be possible without contribution from the public.

Hairdresser Greg, who volunteers regularly at the foodbank said: “Tom and I have been friends since childhood. I reached out to him on the off chance, so when he got back to me to let me know he’d asked everyone at work I was amazed, one little idea can go such a long way. “

He added: “If we live in a city where people are going hungry we aren’t doing enough. Direct action is so important, so many foodbanks need contributions which means we need to do much more to donate and to help each other.’’

Newcastle West End Foodbank, founded in 2004, is part of The Trussell Trust’s network of 428 foodbanks, working to tackle food poverty and hunger in local communities, as well as across the UK.

Greg continued: ‘‘I organised a ‘The Big Family Food shop’ event at Christmas, which managed to raise over £3,000 worth of food which was amazing, but events like that are something that need to be contributed to all year round.’’

“Contributions to the cause don’t need to be expensive, even if it’s just a few tins that are sitting in the back of your cupboard it all helps. Hygiene products are also welcomed, every little thing adds up and it makes such a big difference to the people who need it most.’’ He added.

With one in five of the UK population live below the poverty line, The Trussell Trust’s Foodbank Network provided 1,182,954 three-day emergency food supplies and support to those in crisis. Of these, over 430,000 went to children.

If you want to donate, Newcastle West End Food bank is located in Grainger Market, Newcastle City Centre, alternatively you can visit there site at

J&B Recycling celebrates 20th anniversary with £1.3m investment

A North East recycling firm has celebrated the beginning of its 20th anniversary with a series of investments totalling £1.3m.

J&B Recycling, the region’s largest independent recycling firm has rolled out an £800,000 plant upgrade and made further investments into machinery and its vehicle fleet across its three sites totalling a further £500,000.

The two-phase plant upgrade, that was completed in January, not only allows the company to take an additional 11,000 tonnes of waste per year but also allows J&B to continue complying with strict overseas regulations and ensures it is prepared for the future.

Vikki Jackson-Smith, Managing Director at J&B Recycling said: “The significant investments we have made to our Hartlepool MRF have been key drivers in J&B’s strategy for continued growth and sustainability, allowing us not only give comfort to our customers but to also increase our efficiency, flexibility and prepare for any future changes in the market.

“The investment will also massively support our continuing goal of maximum efficiency and high quality levels of service when working with our customers, especially in updates to our new vehicle fleet. Just last year we reported that 98% of our collections were on time when analysed over six months and this year we want to further improve on that already high percentage.”

The new plant includes more advanced automated technology, aimed at achieving the highest quality of materials for the firms end markets.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, who visited J&B for a first look at the new plant, was incredibly impressed by the quality and passion of the business.

He said: “Over the past 20 years, J&B Recycling has gone from strength to strength. Their drive for success is shown in their adaptability and willingness to take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way.

“The new facility was seriously impressive and I was encouraged by J&B’s plans for the future. It’s wonderful to see such business growth and investment into the Tees Valley. Their commitment to the region combined with their expansion is great news for the firm and our area.

“I very much look forward to working with J&B Recycling in the future and eagerly await hearing about their next achievement.”

Vikki added: “It was great for Ben to come and visit and see what a thriving business we are in the region especially when we are just beginning our 20th anniversary celebrations. We have made a number of upgrades to our plants over the last eight years, but this latest set of expansions have been the most prominent. In the waste management industry, upgrades are essential as operations need to reflect the changes in the consumer market.

“Since our last major expansion back in 2009, the make-up of material we receive has changed dramatically and the new plant has been designed to add flexibility to our operations.

“It allows for a variety of process configurations and can handle different input streams with ease, whether it is fully comingled, comingled without glass, triple or dual stream, we can offer maximum recovery of the recyclable content.”

J&B has also purchased three new Liedherr LH22 material handlers worth around £550k, to ensure efficient operations.

Vikki concluded: “We have a strong line of development capital funding from the Business Growth Fund (BGF) that we acquired back in 2014. The fund has a figure of £2.6 billion of development capital, and we are not limited to how much of that we can access.”

The expansion supports J&B Recycling’s vision for future acquisitions and business growth. For the 2016/17 financial year, the company reported a turnover of £15.7m, increased its gross profit by 159% with an EBITDA increase up 87.2% from 2015/16.


House Builder takes valuable steps towards tackling the accessible housing deficit

WITH just over 7% of UK housing providing the basic accessibility features required for the elderly or people with a disability, the country’s accessible housing deficit is expected to reach a crisis point.

Statistics show that one in five disabled people are living in homes which require adaptation to meet their needs, and research carried out by national charity Aspire, indicates that the number of wheelchair accessible homes being built is on the decline, with over 20,000 wheelchair users still waiting for suitable, affordable housing.

One SME house builder, that has taken valuable steps towards combatting this growing issue is Yorkshire based firm SB Homes.

By partnering with accessibility solutions, CIBES Lift UK, the developer has been able to adapt homes for people of all ages and physical abilities within it’s Empire Works development in Huddersfield.

The latest development is set to include two T-shaped apartment buildings, comprising of 24 two-bedroom properties. Within the two buildings, CIBES Lift UK is installing four A5000 lifts in order to ensure the properties are accessible.

The development will also include a number of three and four bedroom houses. Buyers of these properties are encouraged to have shared input into the design of the property, and as part of this are given the option to have a domestic lift installed in to the property.

Gary Sullivan, marketing and sales director at Cibes, said: “A staggering amount of councils in England don’t have plans to address the lack of accessible housing, so it is becoming more and more important for construction firms to take on this responsibility and prioritise accessibility within new developments.

“When many housing developers think of domestic lifts they tend to picture a bulky, obstructive eye sore that will ruin the aesthetic of the property and put off potential buyers. This is the not the case at all, in fact it’s quite the opposite. Domestic lifts are often considered a selling point by potential buyers as it means the properties can be a ‘forever home’.

“Accessible homes aren’t just beneficial for people with disabilities and mobility issues, they improve independent living for older people, as well as families with young children.

After previously working on a number of developments with the company, CIBES Lift UK was the first port of call for SB Homes, who have a number of developments across West Yorkshire.

Stephen Byram, Managing Director at SB Homes said: “Accessible housing is a huge issue for the industry right now. Many people who have requirements for additional support are struggling to live their day-to-day lives because their own homes are simply not geared to help them and are totally unsuitable for their needs.

“Being an SME house building firm it’s important that we understand the needs of the people in the area and are fine-tuned into what’s required to make the properties as safe and comfortable for potential owners as possible.

“When we looked in to the local demand and our target audience, we knew we needed to make accessibility a priority. It’s helped us market the properties to people who wouldn’t have even considered moving there without them. Often, accessibility is the first thing that potential customers ask us about.

“Offering accessible housing, in an area that is crying out for it, is a great way for us to support local people and is part of us giving back to the areas in which we develop.”

CIBES Lift UK has worked with a number of construction companies, installing step-free access solutions to ensure residential developments are fully accessible.

To learn more about CIBES Lift UK visit or call 0800 085 0269.

Hartlepool College of Further Education flies the flag for the region

HARTLEPOOL College of Further Education has been shortlisted for the ‘Apprenticeship Programme of the Year’ at the TES Further Education Awards 2018.

The award is one of the highest accolades bestowed within the apprenticeship industry and organisations across the country compete each year for the prestigious honour.

The College, which has been ranked number one general further education provider of apprenticeships in the North of England, was recognised by the judges for its strategic and innovative delivery of apprenticeships, as well as its outstanding commitment to supporting both its students and business partners.

Darren Hankey, Principal of Hartlepool College of Further Education, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that Hartlepool College of Further Education has been shortlisted for such a prestigious national award.

“This builds on the College’s recent OFSTED judgement and is testament to the hard work of everyone who works on the College’s apprenticeship programme. It also reflects the quality of the employers with which the College works.”

During its recent visit to the college, OFSTED, said: “Management of the apprenticeship provision is outstanding. The courses available meet the needs of employers and apprentices very well.”

Most recently, the College was one of the few to nationally buck the trend of falling apprenticeship starts last quarter.

When apprenticeship starts across the country saw a decrease of 61% following levy reforms. Hartlepool College of Further Education saw a 6% apprenticeship increase, with further significant growth in the apprenticeship enrolments expected for 2018.

Darren continued: “After the implementation of the apprenticeship reforms earlier this year, it was crucial for us to handle it the correct way and guide not just our College partners but also other businesses in the region about how the reforms would impact them.

“This has resulted in not only the strengthening of the College’s relationships across the region and us retaining 100% of our apprenticeships but has also resulted in new relationships that have in time developed into new apprenticeship programmes.”

The College works with over 500 firms, in sectors encompassing energy, advanced manufacturing, construction, digital and health, engaging over 750 apprentices, two thirds of which are aged 16-18.

Darren said: “We have had an absolute record year, our enrolments are up, our apprenticeship programmes are up and earlier this year our apprenticeship programme was deemed Outstanding by OFSTED. This really is the perfect way to end the year and we cannot wait to attend the award ceremony.”

Civil Engineering company develops revolutionary digital portal

AWARD-WINNING Seymour Civil Engineering, one of the North East’s leading civil engineering firms, has launched its own company training portal set to digitally revolutionise the way construction sites are run.

The portal focuses on the training and staffing side of projects allowing any site manager or client to have a clear snapshot of staff-on-site and their training credentials, whilst automatically prompting the system administration team before employee training requires renewal.

Martin Russell, Training Systems Administrator said, “We set out looking for a cloud based, transparent system, that would manage our training needs and be accessible from a multitude of devices across all our sites for all user levels, whether it be a site manager or a client.

“Seymour is always thinking about ways in which technology can be used to make employees jobs easier and departments more productive.

“We wanted an intelligent system that would automatically present the training team with the information they needed on a daily basis, improving the efficiency of the whole process.”

The portal uses a QR code format which allows users to see exactly what certifications each employee has all in one place, at the click of a button, from any location.

An important aspect of the portals development was its mobile friendly functionality, so all users working on site have access to the portal via their mobile device.

Martin said: “Our clients will soon be able to request access to the platform, which will allow them to see what qualifications each employee on site has, along with their certificates which are all uploaded to the platform.

“The intelligent search function within the new portal will allow the site managers, as well as users from other departments across the business, to quickly find out this information for themselves. We can already see that through this system we are streamlining operations.”

One of Seymour Civil Engineering’s greatest assets is that they have their own vetted, trained, and highly skilled workforce.

The smart, automated system has worked to simplify the management of the training for the company’s 210 team members.

Martin continued: “Seymour Civil Engineering carries out the majority of their staff training in house, and as a responsible employer we’re taking the initiative to upskill our workforce, constantly investing in training and retraining to ensure their competency.

“The system is so advanced that it shows pending training, what training groups are currently booked in, and automates three-month warnings for upcoming training expiry dates.

Seymour made the decision to build a bespoke platform from scratch, due to the lack of suitable alternatives on the market.

Martin said, “When we originally went to market, we did find systems that we could buy off the peg, but they were not designed specifically for the civil engineering sector, nor did they have the intelligence we were looking for. As a development team, we came together and asked the question, could Seymour build what was needed from scratch? Could we create a platform that was bespoke to the company’s needs?”

“It’s brilliant to see the system in everyday use, making the jobs of employees across the business easier. The development team have delivered something that is a real asset to the company.

“The portal is in its infancy and we have already identified improved functions following feedback from users which has provided us with a host of exiting future developments planned for 2018 and beyond. Off the peg packages mean you get what you’re given and alterations and additions are not always possible, whereas with our bespoke built portal, there’s so much room for development and the sky’s the limit.

“The system places us ahead in the industry, purely because we have created something that is tailored to our specific needs.

“It’s development is likely to also be beneficial to the civil engineering sector, and the idea of white labelling the portal and distributing it to other company’s similar to ourselves has been discussed as an option for the future.”

Karl Brennan, Pre-Construction Director said “Seymour recognises the importance of sustainability and the role our industry has to play. By investing in technology and significantly reducing the amount of environmental resource consumed each year by the business, we are able to make year on year contributions toward achieving sustainable development goals.

“The training portal is a prime example of how Seymour utilises innovation to create opportunities whilst contributing to society. We are also extremely delighted to have been presented with the CECA award for training company of the year after judges were impressed with our achievement.”

“It is great to gain recognition after all the hard work that goes into ensuring our employees have the skillset they require to carry out their duties to a very high standard.”

Seymour was recently awarded Training Company of the Year 2017 at the recent CECA NE Awards in recognition to their commitment to training and upskilling as well as their innovative and exemplar solution to ensure all staff have the training they require to undertake their daily tasks and offer continual personal development.

New Year, New outlook on accessibility

With each January that comes around the fitness industry experiences a boom, with the ‘New Year, New You’ mentality taking the nation by storm.

From the outside gyms and leisure centres paint the picture of being accessible to all, but for those with physical impairments and disabilities, is this really the case?

According to research from the English Federation of Disability Sport, 7 out of 10 disabled people in the UK say they want to become more active, but feel they are limited in the activities they can access.

As a provider of accessibility solutions, Cibes Lift Group UK has worked with a number of national fitness companies installing equipment to enable step free access to gyms and leisure centres across the UK.

Gary Sullivan, Sales and Marketing Director for Cibes, has spoken out about the importance of accessibility within the fitness industry, ensuring that gyms and leisure centres across the UK are inclusive to all.

He said: “Since London’s Paralympic games in 2012, the industry has made remarkable headway in making sport and fitness more accessible particularly in gyms and leisure centres.

“Just last year, the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) which already runs the Inclusive Fitness Initiative, joined up with the company Quest to create an accreditation to award leisure facilities which are allowing disabled people to enjoy active recreation. There are already hundreds of gyms accredited, but still some facilities that are being left behind.

With 1 in every 7 people in the UK being a member of a gym, Cibes UK has seen an increase in demand for step-free access as the health and fitness industry continues to grow.

Gary added: “Gym owners must take into consideration the 2010 Equality Act, which declares disabled people cannot be discriminated against and ‘reasonable adjustments’ should be made to premises’ if necessary, but they should be going above and beyond to make sure their facilities are inclusive, providing support to users wherever and however possible.

“Everyone should have the same access to a fit and healthy body, and the fitness community need to be more understanding of the damage that messages like ‘only wimps take the stairs’ and ‘only the lazy take the lift’ could do to a person’s self-belief.

“‘New Year, New You’ needs to also be applied to the fitness industry, and that new mentality is accessibility for all.”

Cibes UK can install a range of access solutions to premises of all shapes and sizes, whether to provide access to multiple storeys or just up 2-3 steps to learn more about the company visit or call 0800 085 0269.

Happy New Year from Publicity Seekers

The new year is upon us, the festive period is over and for many returning to normality on these dark, cold January days can be just a bit miserable.


Returning to work on Wednesday for me was a smidge of a struggle, as despite the fact it had only been a 10 day break, the cobwebs had really started to set in and my brain seemed to be in the first stages of hibernation.


To get the creative juices flowing again and to get geared up to smash 2018, myself and my colleague Jonny were set a creative challenge.


With £100 in our pockets, we were challenged to spend our budget in the most creative way possible. The world was our oyster, and no idea was too silly. It just needed to be achievable in the 8 hours we had to work with.


With all that money burning a hole, I must admit I was a little stumped on what I could do at first. So, I stopped to think about what spending creatively really was. To me, creative spending was seeing just how far I could make the money go, and how many people it could have a positive impact on.


Imagine what an array of wonderful things that money could buy if I gave it away to others, and let them spend it on things that would make a positive difference to them? So, I decided to do just that, give the money away as a gift to wish a few lucky strangers a Happy New Year, and maybe even brighten up their afternoon a little.


I set out to work spreading my new year cheer, leaving envelopes containing a new year message and a £5 note at a number of different locations within Hartlepool.


Starting at the Fens, I worked my way across the town, making stops at Seaton Carew, The Town Centre, The Marina, The Headland, and ending up at Hartlepool Hospital.


There’s something lovely about the thought that that £5 may have made someone smile today, helping them to pay for their bus or their car parking, or paying for a coffee in town with a friend or for an ice cream by the beach with their kids.


I was intrigued to find out who those lucky strangers would be, so alongside the New Year message I asked readers to let Publicity Seekers know through social media, who they were and how they had decided to spend the £5.


On returning to the office it was really great to see a few posts had already appeared on Facebook from those who had spotted the envelopes. My fingers are crossed that more of the lucky finders will come forward through social media over the weekend and that we will be able to identify all 20 envelopes by Monday.


Let me take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy and healthy 2018, from all the team here at Publicity Seekers.