Author: Jonathan Saunders

The Potential Issues Facing Business Leaders in 2019

2018 is dead, long live 2019.

The new year already feels like a distant memory and with the new year arose new issues that may affect businesses and business leaders over the next 12 months.

Here I’ll take a look at what I feel may hinder your business in 2019 and some advice on leaping those hurdles should they arise:

Social Media
The world of social media is constantly changing. Platforms that may have seen a surge in users over the last 12 months may not be as effective in the coming year.

Changes to technology bring with it new fads and trends for social media users. The influx of social media users aged from 16-25 has seen a massive boost to platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat meaning more traditional platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have been left in the lurch.

This doesn’t mean that those platforms that have seen a fall down the league table of popularity need be abandoned. Unless your customer base is strictly that of the younger demographic, you can utilise a variety of platforms with just as many positives.

It’s important to understand who your audience is and which platforms they use in order to successfully deliver the message of your brand.

Demand for video content
According to Insivia, YouTube has over one billion users (that’s over one third of total internet users), 82% of Twitter users watch video content and 45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook videos a week.

That’s staggering, and the importance of video cannot be ignored. Creating video content for your website or social media feeds doesn’t have to be hard.

Users on Facebook won’t appreciate a video to rival Hollywood. A simple piece to camera from someone on the team works wonders and allows for your audience to see the people who matter behind your brand.

It allows viewers to feel personally connected and allows for your message to be easily digested in a way that seems intimate.

The rise and rise of mobile
The world has seen a rise in mobile technology users over the last decade and the internet is no different.

According to Statista, in 2018 more than 52% of website traffic came from mobile devices. Compare that to just 0.7% in 2009 and you can see how important this technology has become in the lives of your audience.

A mobile friendly website allows anyone who visits your site on a mobile device to have a positive experience. A poorly designed mobile website will ensure that your message and services will remain unseen.

So, how can you ensure that your website is mobile friendly? Most content management systems now have an inbuilt adaptive design allowing for the webpage to adapt to various screen sizes.

Oh no! I’ve mentioned the dreaded B word. If you’re like me, you’ll be sick of hearing of Brexit now. However, it’s important to remember just how much uncertainty still surrounds the UK’s exit from the EU.

If your business regularly trades with others across Europe, you must take into consideration how leaving may impact these agreements and the costs associated with import/export duties.

Companies should also consider the make-up of their workforce (especially in regard to EU nationals) and what workers’ rights may be disturbed and put into place plans that will reassure those workers.

When it comes to the use of cloud services, European regulations can affect the storage and usage of that data. This leads us into our final point.

Oh no, I’ve mentioned the dreaded G word! GDPR was a massive concern for businesses in 2018 and it hasn’t gone away. Businesses need to keep this at the forefront of their mind.

Data is becoming one of the most important resources for an organisation and any breach of regulations such as GDPR can have strong repercussions on the reputation of your business.

Businesses also need to be prepared for the implementation of other regulations. The EU is soon to updates it’s ePrivacy Regulation which looks at consent in regard to the use of cookies.

Finally, Article 13, a proposed law within the EU directive on copyright is designed to protect copyrighted content which can invariably devastate the use of user generated content on sites like YouTube.

So, there is my thoughts on potential issues facing businesses and business leaders in 2019. Let me know what you think and if you feel you need help on any of the above you can contact one of the team at Publicity Seekers on 0845 226 9126.

PR is for life, not just for Christmas

As the New Year is approaching, why not give your business the gift of Public Relations for 2019?

Not convinced? Let me persuade you.

PR is an indispensable tool in any company’s arsenal and if you are not maximising your company’s good name through the press, social media, newsletters, videos and your industry’s bodies and networks then make it your resolution.

January is a great time to put in place an effective PR plan for the following 12 months and to review the processes you’ve had in place for the previous year.

The market is constantly evolving and by taking time to stop and look at the things that are working and the those that aren’t it can help to identify exactly how to take your business to the next level.

Do you know what your competitors are doing? Do you see companies that you feel are inferior to yours getting all of the glory? Do you think you should be up there on stage on awards night and wonder why you didn’t find time to enter?

By working with a PR agency, it can help you to put in place a plan by using its expertise in research, communications and analysis.

At Publicity Seekers we offer a comprehensive audit of your customers, staff, competitors, issues within your market in line with your business goals.

From that we create a PR and marketing plan specifically designed for your business.

Understanding your customers and what platforms they get their information from is vital to not wasting money hopping from one marketing medium to another without really knowing what’s working.

So whether you’re experiencing a gap in client acquisition or whether you’re looking to take your business the next level by utilising media relations and social media campaigning to target potential customers and key industries, a PR agency can help.

The importance of tools such as social media should not be ignored in helping to reach your potential target markets.

More than 70% of all B2B companies use at least one of the “Big 4” social media sites which includes LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, with 54% of B2B companies said they’ve generated leads from social media.

So, whether you’re a B2B or B2C company, by planning and setting clear objectives you can utilise communications channels to achieve your sales goals and increase brand exposure.

The ultimate goal in public relations is to enhance an organisation’s reputation and to increase its influence within its market and we feel as a company we can help your organisation achieve this goal.

There we have it. This festive season why not give your organisation the gift of public relations? Give us a call on 01429 874 555/0845 226 9126 and book an appointment with one of our media specialists for January so we can help get your business fired into the media spotlight.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen says colleges are key to future business success in the area

It’s vital the next generation of workers are given skills provided by colleges to help Tees Valley businesses thrive, says Mayor Ben Houchen.

He is backing Colleges Week and has met with principals of Tees Valley colleges to lend his support.

The main aim of Colleges Week – which runs until Friday, October 19 – is to highlight the good work the nation’s colleges do and the Mayor was keen to underline the importance of the Tees Valley colleges.

Mayor Houchen said: “My main priority is to help deliver high-quality jobs for local people in the Tees Valley, to boost our economy and help our residents and area to thrive.

“It’s vital that our young people are given the skills they need to fill those roles and succeed in the jobs of tomorrow across our key sectors.”

Mayor Houchen highlighted that the Tees Valley Combined Authority will be taking the reins of the post-19 education budget next year – to the tune of £30million.

He said: “The Tees Valley is very lucky to have five fantastic further education colleges as well as The Northern School of Art.

“As we take control of our area’s £30million post-19 education budget next year, I look forward to working even more closely with our colleges to ensure our students are being taught the skills our businesses desperately need.”

Mayor Houchen joined principals from colleges across the area at Middlesbrough College on Tuesday.

The principals included Darren Hankey, principal and chief executive at Hartlepool College of Further Education, Kate Roe, principal and chief executive at Darlington College, Zoe Lewis principal and chief executive at Middlesbrough College, Phil Cook principal and chief executive at Stockton Riverside College and Redcar and Cleveland College and Martin Raby, principal and chief executive at The Northern School of Art.

Speaking on behalf of the colleges, Kate Roe, principal at Darlington College, said: “As well as playing a key role in the area’s economy, the Tees Valley colleges also play a key social and civic role in their respective towns.

“Most are centrally located and offer courses for a wide variety of people including school-leavers, adult learners, apprentices and those following higher education programmes.

“Colleges are the lifeblood of their communities and a key aim of Colleges Week is to get this message across.”
For more information on Colleges Week and the many activities taking place at colleges throughout the country, go to the Colleges Week website at

P.S… Friday 16 November 2018

Here at Publicity Seekers we are starting a brand-new Friday feature which looks back on the week at our favourite piece of content.

Whether that be something we’ve seen on social media, a graphic, video, book we’ve read or television show/ podcast we experienced.

This week we have picked something which has caused a rather big stir. The brand new John Lewis advert. Every year these adverts pull on the heartstrings of millions of people across the globe and this year is no different.

We won’t go on too much about it because here I am to tell you why it is such a great ad.


Total Recycling Services achieves international certification

Darlington-based recycling company, Total Recycling Services has become one of very few UK companies and only a handful of recycling companies in the country to achieve the migration to the brand-new International Health and Safety accreditation.

Launched worldwide in April, ISO 45001 Health & Safety management system accreditation, replaces the previous OHSAS 18001 and is a globally recognised compared to its predecessor’s UK only recognition.

Liam Watson, Technical Administrator at Total Recycling Services, said: “It’s important for us at Total Recycling Services to obtain the latest ISO accreditations and to follow the most up-to-date procedures.

“As well as giving our customers total piece of mind it helps us to attract large companies as clients because we are known for being fully compliant and taking away any concerns clients have around Health & Safety.

“Our assessor told us when we were recommended for registration, that we were only the second company he had passed and we’re incredibly proud to be one of only a handful so far in the UK.

It works well with our other recognitions ISO14001 Environmental Certificate, ISO9001 Quality Certificate and CHAS Health & Safety Certificate.”

The ISO 45001 registration is an internationally recognised standard for occupational Health and Safety management systems.

The standard allows companies to identify and understand the needs of employees and other workers, including suppliers, subcontractors and clients relating to Health and Safety, actively seeking their input to maintain safety whilst driving continuous improvement for all.

Andrew Dobson, Operations Director at Total Recycling Services, stated: “We have always had a good relationship with customers, staff, suppliers and contractors but this also allows them to feel more valued within the business not only in setting health, safety and welfare bust also to help the success of the business.”

The new standard also aligns itself to our quality and environmental systems which provides a focused approach for all activities and disciplines rather than individually which can cause a fragmented responsibility approach.

For more information on the ISO accreditations Total has gained, head to their website here:

Sober October: Why I’m setting myself regular challenges

It’s not unusual for us in the Publicity Seekers office to enjoy a civilised glass of Shiraz or the odd Jägerbomb on a weekend.

However, this month I’ve set myself the task of going sober for October. Two weeks in and everything seems to be going pretty well…

This is just one of many challenges I’ve set myself in 2018 to take that next step forward in my personal development.

I was in no means a heavy drinker at the start of the challenge, but I thought it was a fitting experiment to help me improve my fitness in both body and mind.

Since beginning the experiment I’ve noticed a huge change in my outlook. From workload to housework, I’ve seen a big improvement in my productivity too.

I was inspired to undertake these challenges after learning of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a psychological theory comprising of the five tiers of human needs.

I now find myself at the top that pyramid, in self actualisation, trying to become the most that I can be.

This has manifested in my current challenge and the many challenges I’ve set myself over the past year.

These small challenges range from professional development – including public speaking, which is something I hate – through to attending networking events and seminars on how to grow my skills in public relations. I feel my sober challenge is just as significant.

Someone once told me: “Being outside of your comfort zone means you’re growing.”

That has always stayed with me and by setting myself small challenges, I’m moving what I believe my boundaries to be and in turn helping to not only increase my self-belief, but to also discover more about myself both professionally and in my personal life. This, in turn, helps me to recognise my power as a creative and a professional.

Next up – a marathon perhaps? I don’t know where my journey will take me next, but I’m excited to find out.

Jonny has been raising funds throughout October for Evie’s Mission, a Teesside based charity aiming to raise £75,000 to help a local woman receive lifesaving immunotherapy in Germany. To sponsor Jonny and contribute to the fund, click here. 

JDM Earth appoints first Non-Executive Director after significant growth

Hartlepool-based electric vehicle charging specialists, JDM Earth Limited, has appointed well-known business consultant Gary Lumby MBE as its first non-executive director.

The appointment has come at a time of substantial growth for JDM, which has increased its turnover to over £250,000 in 2018 with plans to further grow that to £500,000 within this financial year.

Mr Lumby assumes the position as non-executive director at JDM, alongside his role on the board of other prominent business in the region.

Gary, said: “I am delighted to be joining JDM at this important part in its growth journey and hope that my experience, knowledge and contacts can further accelerate its revenue and profitability growth.”

The company has also welcomed a further three members to the team over the last 12 months.

David Mullen, Managing Director of JDM Earth, said: “In response to the increasing number of ultra-low emissions vehicles on the road, we have developed and refined our services within the electric vehicle charging sector and are delighted to be part of this revolutionary development in the North East.”

David, continued: “JDM Earth was formed out of a mutual passion to create a business that positively impacts local communities and benefits the environment by supporting carbon reducing technologies.

“I am really pleased to have someone of Gary’s experience and contacts onboard at this crucial time in our development.

“The electric vehicle charging market is really taking off and we hope to become the premier supplier and installer in the North East of England.

“We believe in creating a more sustainable future for generations to come and this is embedded directly into our company ethos.

“With the appointment of Gary, we have plans to further expand our business and feel that the advice and support from him will make sure we grow further and faster.”

Founded in 2014, JDM Earth was recently awarded Small Business of the Year at the Hartlepool Business Award and is a Rolec Services North East installation partner and offering charging advice and installations in both the home and commercial sectors.

JDM Earth specialise in the installation of domestic and commercial electric vehicle charging points and commercial electrical contracting.

For further information on what JDM Earth offer, contact David or Jennifer Mullen at or telephone 01429 287608.

Why events make brutally good PR

Everyone loves a day out. That’s why corporate events are so enjoyable. It’s all fun and games when your rubbing shoulders with guests and have a cheeky glass of bubbly but does the fun stop when you’re the one organising the event?

During a career in Public Relations I attend and organise many events for many different reasons.

Working with clients such as local colleges, civil engineering companies, recycling companies, etc, has allowed me in the past to attend things such as open days, fresher’s fairs, mayoral visits, building site openings and even awards evenings.

But what can events actually do to raise the profile of a business? I’ve already mentioned that I have arranged and attended visits by politicians such as the Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen for a number of our clients.

This has helped in putting those companies firmly on the radar of Mr Houchen. In some cases, helping the mayor to understand the different challenges of the various industries we work within and what needs to be done to facilitate them to grow from a Governmental or Combined Authority level.

If you’re a company and you are looking at putting on a specific event, then read on to learn our #BrutallyHonest tips on how to organise that special occasion.

The Build Up

The most important thing for any event is the build-up. You need to get people excited about what you’re trying to do. If people aren’t excited, then they probably won’t come. I’ve been to many networking events which I’ve hated because I wasn’t fully motivated by it beforehand. By simply using tools such as social media you can sow the seeds of enthusiasm. Develop a hashtag and get it trending.

The Guest List

It’s incredibly important to know your demographic. Who will be coming to your event? What do you want them to take away from the experience? By understanding who is in attendance you can work to tailor what your message is and how you come across as a business to your guests.


Will there be a speaker at your event? Who will be the headline performer? Will they be relevant to the message of your brand and your event? If you’re the star, GREAT. You can mould your message perfectly.

The Press

Events are a fantastic opportunity to invite the press down. You can use this as a great form of publicity. By inviting the press, you increase the chances of getting coverage and you also improve and build lasting relationships with journalists. If you’re not arranging the event and you’re just another attendee, why not invite a journo as your plus one?

The Aftermath

Once the dust settles you need to think about how you can keep the party going. At Publicity Seekers we use events as an opportunity to go out and speak with people from industry. We film, interview and photograph event attendees and use this content to share over social media. One piece of content can be utilised in a variety of different ways to publicise your event and make the people who didn’t attend come to the next one. If you’re crap at photography, hire a professional and use his images in any PR material you put together.

Now crack on with that planning!

Total Recycling Services is teaching it to the next level

Waste management company, Total Recycling Services has invested £50K into new technology in order to improve productivity and the service for customers.

The recycling business has been using technology such as tracking equipment in its trucks in order to reduce carbon emissions and improve fuel efficiency. As well as this, Total Recycling is developing a bespoke stock control system, to facilitate the ‘cradle to grave’ tracking of hazardous wastes.

Drivers have also been equipped with new smart phones, allowing for constant connection between the company’s headquarters in Darlington no matter where they may be. Allowing managers to update drivers instantly whenever required.

Andy Dobson, Operations Director at Total Recycling Services, said: “I’m keen to move the company towards technology as much as possible in order to move us away from using paper-based systems.

“The Environment Agency require that we operate at all times to Industry ‘Best Available Techniques (BAT) and you have to know what the waste is before it comes in.

“Our records must show where the waste has come from, how we have tested and handled it, and most importantly, that we have recovered or disposed of the waste through a legally compliant route’.

“Our customers regularly come and audit us, and we have an open-door policy on this. If someone walks in asking for information on a consignment from eight months ago we can do a complete search and track their wastes, even if they have been ‘bulked’ and combined with other materials’.

“We have also installed a vending machine for PPE which allows our workers free access. Meaning that at any point of the day they can enter their number into the machine and out comes gloves, filters, anything they may need. Safety is key.

“The brilliant thing about it is, its gets filled up every day because it works on an automated communications process across the internet, meaning that we get a report of what staff are using , and it automatically orders any stocks we may need.

“Whenever we see an opportunity to be more efficient. We go for it.”

The company who services businesses all across the UK with waste management and industrial cleaning services has gone from strength-to-strength over the last five years and plans to double its £15m turnover by 2022.

Liam Watson, System Administrator at Total Recycling Services, said: “Digital has always been a crucial tool for us here at Total Recycling and over the past couple of years we have implemented software systems which we have slowly built from the ground up.

“These systems allow us to monitor all stock levels currently on site, along with a tracking system within all of our wagons which monitors the fuel consumption and emissions and helps to reduce the company’s carbon emissions.

“At any point, a customer can call and ask us where our wagon is, when their delivery is scheduled, and we can also accurately report what volumes of paper, plastic etc. have been picked up from them.

“Collecting and storing data digitally is key to us providing an efficient and trustworthy service.”

Total Recycling Services has recently invested nearly £500k into bespoke vehicles and equipment to meet the service demand, forecast for the coming year, due to the introduction of its highly successful industrial cleaning services division in 2017.

Forrest Digital branches out with new appointment amid growth plans

Stockton-based digital consultancy firm, Forrest Digital, has welcomed new blood to the team as part of the company’s push for growth in 2018.

Isaac Sharp, a recent graduate from Teesside University has joined the team as a Digital Marketing Executive in an effort to increase the company’s marketing capacity.

Forrest Digital is a specialist in digital strategy, including SEO and Google Ads and in the last year has helped numerous companies increase sales throughout the UK and Europe.

Isaac said: “The learning I undertook at university has complimented my own learning and I’m now able to apply it to a real-world marketing scenario.

“University was great for introducing me to Google Analytics which is a key tool that I use in this job. Certainly, the fundamentals of marketing will always be of use and now I’m able to analyse data for real clients.

“It’s great fun seeing the same kinds of numbers and statistics I was looking at before but on a much larger scale. I’m now looking at tens of thousands instead of hundreds.

“I want to use this opportunity to learn as much about the business and find my strengths to focus on to help build a sustainable career and to make Forrest Digital as successful as I can.”

Since its inception in 2003, Forrest Digital has seen year-on-year growth and is aiming to increase turnover to £250k in 2018.

Iain Forrest, Managing Director of Forrest Digital, said: “Initially the gap in the business that we were looking to fill was primarily focused on analytics.

“The way that we operate, we don’t just send users to a client’s website and hope for the best, we make sure from the outset what is important to the client ensuring we have a system in place that is capable of measuring that.

“Isaac was brought in to expand that area of the business and our capacity and abilities and to take us in new directions. I hope he can find his own place with us and grow to be the best he can be.”

As part of the company’s growth plans, Forrest has taken on Isaac as a new Digital Marketing Executive and stepped up its professional development programme with existing Executive Steph Shenava obtaining a new qualification from the Institute of Digital Marketing (IDM).

Steph, said: “I was already undertaking a qualification with the IDM when they introduced a new GDPR segment to the course. It connects perfectly with our work with Google Ads as you need to have up-to-date privacy policies on your website.

“It’s great for us when we’re working with new and existing clients as it demonstrates we’re knowledgeable about the latest laws affecting the industry and can suggest practical, compliant solutions to the kinds of challenges posed by GDPR.

“Unfortunately, most of the sites we audit still fall down on how they gain consent for the use of cookie data amongst other things. GDPR is about more than email subscription management and this message doesn’t seem to have completely got through yet.

“In addition to the IDM award I take the Google Partner exams annually which gives me accreditations in the different networks Google operates in to demonstrate our expertise.

“As a digital marketer, the industry can change on a monthly basis. If we didn’t continue to learn we would be left behind in a competitive market.”

For more information about Forrest Digital and the work they do, go to: