Author: Jonathan Saunders

Record-breaking £7m turnover results in first apprenticeship drive

Entec Design Ltd, based in Stockton on Tees, is celebrating three years of rapid development and a turnover of £7 million by welcoming its first ever apprentices to the team.

The Stockton-based full building envelope subcontractor was founded in 2015 and has taken on two apprentices from Hartlepool College of Further Education to support further expansion plans at the company.

Terry O’Brien, Managing Director of the firm, said: “Growth has been a lot faster than we all thought it would be.

“In the short three years we’ve been operating we’ve gone from zero to over £7m turnover and we’re currently planning to build the company to a point where we hope to reach over £10m per annum.

“The problem we’ve had with such a quick growth is we’ve struggled to determine just how many people we need within the business and have been recruiting after the gap appears. We’ve learnt our lesson and are now looking forward to the future, to bed people in early and know exactly what we need ahead of time and that’s where Hartlepool College comes in.

“We decided early on that whenever we were bringing people on board we needed them to be experienced, as we struggled to find the time to train staff effectively. But now that we have the experienced personnel in place we’re hungry to introduce younger blood.”

To fill the apprenticeship positions, Entec approached Hartlepool College of Further Education in order to find the right candidates.

Alan Clayton. Technical Director and a former student of Construction and the Built Environment at Hartlepool College, said: “We initially contacted Teesside University, and they suggested Hartlepool College. Obviously with my past at the College I thought it would be a great fit.”

Gary Riches, Head of Apprenticeships at Hartlepool College of Further Education, said: “Alan had provided a list of things Entec required and myself and John Cartwright, Head of Construction and the Built Environment at the College (CBE) sat down and agreed we could provide that.

“We invited Alan down to the College because, as an ex-student, I believed he might find it interesting to see just how much the College has changed since his time with us. I believe Alan liked what he saw, liked what he had on offer at the School of CBE and the relationship was built from there.”

The new apprentices are the first in a long line of apprenticeships for Entec Design Ltd as the construction subcontractor has already enquired about a further apprentice from the Hartlepool based training provider.

Hartlepool College of Further Education provides training for a number of prominent companies across the region, including Seymour Civil Engineering, Esh, Jacobs, Taylor Wimpey, Galliford Try and Gus Robinson.
For more information on apprenticeships at Hartlepool College visit www.hartlepoolfe.ac.uk/apprenticeships

Independent Retailer Month: What role can PR play for small businesses?

In July, the Publicity Seekers team took part in Independent Retailer Month. A campaign that runs annually to highlight the important role smaller, local, independent retailers play in the communities they serve.  

We went to speak with business owners about the issues they face and put together a short video highlighting the problems they deal with in the face of high street chains and the dreaded internet.  

You can view the video here:

 

Now that you’ve acquainted yourself with the story of Bill, Michelle, Sara and Anthony, you get a bit of an understanding of what’s happening to independent retailers across the country and you can appreciate the important role publicity can play in helping them beat the competition.  

Now, more than ever, it’s important for independent retailers to get their names out there.  

Gone are the days of a corner shop and local café being the centre of a community where you’re greeted with a smile and hello on a first name basis with the owner. Even the good ol’ fashioned pub is losing the battle to Wetherspoons and other national chains.  

Now we see huge multinational retailers and chains taking over our highstreets and local communities. Pushing the independent out of the market who can’t compete with prices etc. However, so too is that personable, friendly experience gone.  

So, what can Independent retailers do to combat the ever-encroaching competition? PR techniques can mean the difference between a failing business and a thriving business. There are examples of business owners utilising things like social media and content to keep their heads above the publicity waterline all over the place.   

Below are our top PR tips for small businesses: 

  • Social Media 

Social Media is an invaluable tool that small business owners can use to reach their customers and extend their brand message. By opening up dialogue with their followers, retweets and offering personal communication to customers, a small business can position themselves as a friend rather than a service. Avoid the oversell and keep it fun.  

  • Small/ No Budget 

One of the main issues small business owners need to contend with is little to no budget to afford marketing and advertising. However, most people in the UK now have a smart phone, meaning business owners have everything they need for a campaign. By photographing and videoing day to day experiences it can give customers an insight into your business. With the introduction of novel ideas, a brand can utilise the first two steps to achieve ‘local fame.’  

  • Be the Expert  

This is a step we use regularly at Publicity Seekers. By keeping your finger on the pulse of what is happening within your given industry you can jump on any development and offer your insights into the industry. Positioning yourself as the de facto ‘expert’ on the topic. A great way to raise your profile and come across as a bit of a clever clogs in the process too.   

  • Know Yourself  

Knowing yourself and knowing your brand is vital. What do you and your brand stand for? Staying true to what you believe in when communicating with customers increases the trust level. If you believe in the importance of supporting the community through your business that shows. Authenticity for a business means trust from your customers.  

  • Utilise Google! 

Possibly the biggest search engine in the world. Google is the go to tool for over 82% of the overall search engine users so establishing yourself in the rankings of this giant is incredibly important. Over 76% of people who search for a local product will visit a business within 24 hours according to Google. Make sure you’re in those results. Otherwise your competitor will be.   

If you’re a small business owner and you’re interested in how we can help you and your business rise above the competition, you can call 0845 226 9126 or drop us an email: info@publicityseekers.co.uk. 

Hart Biologicals

Hart Biologicals is a Hartlepool based medical equipment manufacturer that specialises in the development and manufacture of diagnostic machinery used in the investigation of blood clotting disorders in the community, hospital laboratories and war zones. The company also undertakes contract manufacture for a number of other organisations around the world.

Hart Biologicals exports to over 46 countries and works with prominent companies world-wide. Primarily TEM Gmbh in Germany, Chrono-Log in the USA and Instrumentation Laboratory S.p.A. – Werfen in Italy.

Started in 2002. Managing Director Alby Pattison worked with the Thrombosis Reference Centre (now known as the Haematology Research Unit) at Manchester University Foundation Trust to acquire the rights to the Manchester Capillary Agent, a combined thromboplastin reagent for use in the ‘in-vitro control of patient anticoagulant therapy’.

This was Hart Biologicals’ first ever product that they still make and sell to this day and is the basis for a number of innovative projects the company has undertaken over the years.

Since its formation, Hart Bioloigcals has been awarded the Export Company of the Year at the Bionow Biomedical Awards in 2014. Export Award at the Hartlepool Business Awards 2014 and Export and Innovation awards at the North East Business Awards 2015, Small Business of the Year, Export Business of the Year and Innovation Business of the Year at the North East Business Awards in 2017, Manufacturer of the Year and Exporter of the Year 2017

In 2016, Alby was named Business Leader of the Year at the Hartlepool Business Awards, was recently awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honour and appointed a Deputy Lord Lieutenant for County Durham. He is also a Governor at a number of schools in the North East and is Treasurer and well-liked Lifetime Member of his local rugby club.

Alby said: “I am absolutely honoured by all of this, Buckingham Palace was an amazing experience and to get these two accolades is just incredible.”

“It’s a great honour to be asked to represent the Queen and stand in for the Lord Lieutenant. It’s a relatively small band of people who have a very honourable role.”

The company places a huge importance on its staff and aims to support its team members through development programs aiming to improve staff skills and encourages the progress of young people in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) related fields through the use of STEM Ambassadors which attend career events and school presentations on behalf of the company.

Richard Chapman, R&D Scientist and STEM Ambassador, said: ““When I’m at one of these events I try to stay away from hosting typical lectures or seminars. Sitting and listening to someone read a text book at you is boring so I like to get the students doing different activities and making those connections for themselves as I believe that’s the bit that inspires them.

“I went into, my old secondary school recently, and it was good for the pupils to see someone like me. Sometimes young people think ‘how is science ever going to be relevant for me?’ and then I walk in as a scientist who once sat where they were.

“I can say to them ‘I’m from here, I grew up where you grew up and now I’m a scientist’ and it’s great for them to see that.”

For more information about Hart Biologicals, go to Hart Biologicals’ website here.

Can PR be Brutally Honest?

Yes, it f*cking can.

For me, honesty is the most important tool in a PR professional’s arsenal. To tell honest and accurate stories and to truthfully communicate with a client, not only helps to build relationships with those who dictate your budget but also with your audience.

At Publicity Seekers, we strive to distance ourselves from the bullsh*t image of the conventional Public Relations agency. Who can normally be seen storming around in power suits all day making ‘important’ phonecalls or having innovative ‘pow-wows’ using too many of our bullsh*t buster words to count.

For some, that may be the ideal of what Public Relations means to them but for us we believe in a little more humanity. (Mainly because we can’t be arsed to wear a power suit.)

When I state to people I work in PR, I sometimes get asked if I’m good at spinning things. ‘Spin’ is so well ingrained into what people think PR is, that it seems revolutionary to them for an agency to simply tell the truth. They’re usually pretty surprised when I firstly order a pint and then secondly tell them it’s all about shouting through all the crap and in our case, telling the truth about the good things our clients do.

Last year, I attended a series of seminars and panels held by PR Moment in London. Amongst the speakers on the day were Féilim Mac An Iomaire, then from online betting platform Paddy Power and Lord Chadlington Peter Gummer, PR advisor and founder of Shandwick International.

Both chaps have since, for me, had a large impact on the philosophy behind Publicity Seekers’ #BrutallyHonestPR campaign and my idea of honesty within Public Relations.

Felim, was at the time, Head of PR at Paddy Power. He gave a presentation on how Paddy Power use tongue in cheek humour in promoting their offers. When you look at the Paddy Power brand they are not afraid to push and sometimes cross the line of what they can get away with to accomplish this.

This is something that is the undercurrent of the entire #BrutallyHonestPR campaign but instead of pushing the line with controversial PR stunts we want to push the line with the controversial but simple truth. Yes, it’s that crazy.

Following this, Lord Chadlington stated that in the not too distant future he believes the only agencies that will have the muscle to survive in such a competitive industry will be the small ‘aggressive’ digital agencies who are willing to evolve and do things a little differently to their traditional counterparts and differentiate their offerings.

This again is an idea which has come into maturity over my time at Publicity Seekers.

We offer a wide range of ‘traditional’ PR options that you’d more typically associate with us but now we’re introducing podcasts, influencer work, digital platforms and so much more to get our clients in front of our target audiences.

Have a chat with us about PR, I bet it’ll surprise you just how #BrutallyHonest we are.

Total Recycling Services

Total Recycling Services, based in Darlington, is one of the UK’s leading providers of waste management services. Specialising in commercial recycling, hazardous waste recovery and industrial cleaning services.

The company was formed in 2009 by Managing Director Alex Foreman and has since invested over £5.5m into developing its state of the art main base of operations at Darlington’s Lingfield Way Industrial Estate.

Total runs as an industry leader in the disposal of hazardous waste and as such it’s operations stretch across the entirety of the UK as they service well-known companies including Hitachi, Royal Mail, Akzo Nobel and JCB.

The company has seen recent success with the introduction of its brand new industrial cleaning services division which has seen rapid growth from an initial team of three personnel to five teams of three servicing manufacturing and chemical plants across the country.

Since this success, Total has seen fit to invest over £500k into bespoke machinery to support the industrial services division and to meet the demand forecasted for the coming year.

Andy Dobson, Operations Director at Total Recycling Services, said: “We were looking to invest into our equipment and vehicle fleet in order to continue our growth.

“So far, we have acquired two new 30,000 litre tankers which will go toward supporting our industrial services division, a roll on roll off truck with a further three units and we have also got our hands on what’s known as a glass imploder.

“It’s been pure demand that has meant we’ve had to invest so heavily into new vehicles and they constantly in use.”

 

Recently the company has been awarded its first ever accolade by collecting the services award at the Teesside heat of the North East Business Awards in 2018.

In response to this Alex said: “I was gobsmacked. To go up against some of the best service providers in the region is an honour in of itself, but to bring home the win is unbelievable.

“Every single company at the awards is proof that the Tees Valley is a fantastic and prosperous place for businesses and I’m happy to be in the position to celebrate the successes we’ve had over the last ten years.

“We’ve constantly tried to do things differently at Total and to win such an award is fantastic recognition for the hard work our staff put in and the excellent work we provide for our customers every single day.”

Total Recycling Services currently employs over 97 members of staff and encourages them to undertake work-based training to take the next step on their career ladder.

One such member of staff is Andrew Challis, Hazardous and Transfer Station Supervisor. Andrew initially started as an unskilled worker in the company’s industrial services division in 2013, before moving through to drum decontamination in 2014. He is now overseeing three members of staff as part of his role.

Andrew said: “The company has paid for all of my training because a lot of the qualifications I have are mandatory for me to hold in my role. They have also funded my supervisor and team leader qualifications to help me reach the standard expected within Total.

“Most of the work I’ve had to do has been in work time too. Total has always been happy to let me attend classes and exams during that time.

To learn more about Total Recycling Services, you can click through to its website here.

WTF has that got to do with anything?

As a PR company we understand the importance of awareness days and the positive effects they can have for our clients. However, we also know that just because an awareness day exists, it doesn’t mean we should jump on it at the first opportunity.

For an example, picture this. You’re scrolling social media on your lunch break and you come across a small SME based in the Rotherham who sell u-bends for toilets.

Weirdly, it has posted an image celebrating ‘International Talk like a Pirate Day’ (Yes, that is a real day. 21 September. Look it up.)

Now, unless they specifically sell u-bends for pirate ships, what has that got to do with their business?

Yes, it’s a little bit of fun in a world full of clear product advertisements and typical business speak (check out our Bullshit Busters series on social media for some examples) but what, if anything, does it add to their business?

You can say to me that it’s only a little bit of fun and I agree but we can’t deny the need to properly identify which awareness days we can back as a business that can properly portray the messages of a client’s brand.

At Publicity Seekers we work alongside a medical diagnostics company that develops machinery for the monitoring of blood clotting factors in the blood. As such we help to raise awareness of events/ days that are relevant to their brand, such as World Thrombosis Day and World Blood Donor Day.

Similarly, we work with a Civil Engineering company who, every year, back International Women in Engineering Day as this is something that is important to their brand and to the industry they work in as a whole.

We have identified these awareness days as being relevant to what our clients find important and to help increase the dialogue around a number of very important issues.

It’s not all seriousness though and some awareness days can allow a brand to portray a different side to their personality. By celebrating days that may be important to specific members of staff a brand can demonstrate that it knows its people and appreciates the same things they appreciate.

Take for instance if a worker, or a member of their family, had been affected by a serious illness. A company could support a day to help raise funds and awareness for that specific illness or a charity that supports it by doing something fun or wacky. Yes, it helps to portray the company as caring about important issues but you’re also helping not only staff morale but the wider community.

Look, I’m not saying you have to be a boring company with a bland company ethos so if you want to dress like a pirate or a ninja (which actually sounds quite cool) go for it. If you do though, why not do it for a reason?

It just makes no bloody sense just to do it for the craic when there are any number of ways an enterprise can properly utilise awareness days that can have a positive effect on all aspects of the business and the local community.

Saying that, I’m off to buy my ninja costume!

If you’re interested in what we can do here at Publicity Seekers that will make you and your company look good, then give us a call.

 

When PR goes ‘wrong’

Within the last week, we’ve seen a number of PR campaigns with good intentions being criticised and panned due to ‘poor execution’. With so much at stake, how damaging can a poorly planned campaign really be on a brand? And is it worth it? Let’s take a #BrutallyHonestPR look.

On 31st May, cosmetics company LUSH launched it’s ‘spy cops’ campaign across social media, on its website and in store displays throughout the UK. The campaign highlights what they claim is an “ongoing undercover policing scandal, where officers have infiltrated the lives, homes and beds of activists”.

The campaign itself has split opinion down the middle with many people on social media, including ex-law enforcement officers, current Chief Police Officers and the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, claiming the campaign attacks hard working members of the police force with many labelling the campaign disgusting.

On the other hand, MPs, Lawyers, victims and even publications such as The Guardian have come out in support of the company with many signing a letter defending the company and its campaign.

One thing is for certain, the ‘spy cops’ campaign has worked in some respects by bringing the spying problem to the attention of the masses, but at what cost?

In the face of backlash, many LUSH stores have felt the need to step back from the campaign and remove ‘spy cops’ from their front windows but the overall stance of the company has been that the campaign was not intended to be an anti-police campaign and serves only to highlight the human rights breaches committed by some undercover police. Which has worked immeasurably.

The effect the campaign has had on the company’s reputation is too early to tell. However, the company has seen a lot of press since the introduction of the campaign both positive and negative, with many people boycotting the beauty product retailer or championing its stance. It’s hard to deny they haven’t achieved the goal of press coverage though.

Also, within the last week we have seen a campaign by worldwide financial company Mastercard that coincides with the upcoming 2018 World Cup.

Mastercard’s campaign entitled “Goals that Change Lives” states that for every goal world renowned footballers Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr score from now until March 2020, the company will donate 10,000 meals to impoverished children in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The campaign has led to journalists, broadcasters and PR professionals asking why, if the company can afford to give away the meals, they don’t just give them away instead of undertaking what has been classed as a horrible publicity stunt by many on social media?

Further criticisms have stated that the pressure on the players to score goals would be immense. With goalkeepers also feeling the weight of saving those goals. Ending in guilt for denying the meals.

This effectively means that players like Messi and Neymar would have an unfair advantage in the competition.

Mastercard has responded to the criticisms levelled at it by stating that the ‘Goals that Change Lives’ campaign is part of its overall commitment to deliver 100 million meals to poverty-stricken communities and have said it is proud to have the opportunity to ‘use our brand and our brand ambassadors to raise awareness of this important cause.’

But is it too little too late? Now that the damage is done for connecting multibillion pound companies, multimillionaire footballers and the pot luck feeding of starving children.

The question we should take away from such campaigns is that of what is ethical?

Although noble in theory, these campaigns if not properly executed, can have a massive effect on the reputations of businesses and even though the above-mentioned campaigns have succeeded in bringing to light and opening up dialogues about important issues, how does it really effect business?

Is the old saying ‘There’s no such thing as bad publicity’ still relevant and is press coverage worth it in the age of outrage?

Weighing up the pros and cons of both campaigns, if your company was in the position to do the same. Would you?

 

How accreditations helped drive Total Recycling’s growth

Darlington-based waste management company, Total Recycling Services believes in the importance of acquiring accreditations. Rather than just ticking a box, the multi-million-pound organisation strives to go over and above and is urging other businesses to do the same.

Since beginning in 2009, Total has earned accreditations from professional bodies such as the International Organization for Standardization, British Standards Institution, and the Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme amongst others.

Andy Dobson, Operations Director at Total Recycling Services knows accreditations inside out and with the help of a dedicated Integrated Systems Manager, he has guided the company throughout its growth from a few contacts and members of staff, to a £15m turnover and over 97 staff operating from its Darlington site.

To help bring some clarity, Andy, explains why accreditations are of top priority at Total Recycling Services and why they should be for any businesses who are wanting to grow.

He said: “The simplest way to put it, is that accreditations give us a route into a lot of our customers.

“There are a lot of customers that won’t even entertain us if us don’t have the relevant documentation. These customers are the big blue-chip companies that place a lot confidence in the people they choose to work with and without the evidence to show you are a credible company, they won’t even give you a second glance.

“What these customers ideally want is for their systems to align with yours, and be of a similar standard and as ISO is the internationally recognised accreditation it means there are more doors open to us as a company.

“So, if you share the same qualification, your customer will be happy and confident that you have the same things in place. “

Total Recycling Services works with number of large companies including Akzo Nobel, Nissan, Hitachi and Caterpillar.

Andy, continued: “The companies that we chase, the ones we want to work with. We wouldn’t get through the tendering process without the accreditations we have.

“Most of the big companies now have tender packs that are sent out and we have to provide to them the relevant documentation before we even try to tender.

“It’s not just a case of meeting with them and having a cup of tea and some biscuits, we have to show we have BSEN ISO 9001:2015; BSEN ISO14001:2015; OHSAS 18001:2007 as a first step, as well having the documentation available to show how this was achieved

“Pretty much, if you can’t tick that box you have no chance with the tender.

“At Total Recycling Services, we’ve held ISO accreditations since the first year that we opened in 2009, working to their principles. Having them has certainly helped us to work alongside a lot of the larger companies in the region.

“However, for us it’s not about passing something on an annual basis, they’re about continually working at them and driving improvement all year round as well as giving a solid foundation for legal compliance, particularly with Health, Safety and Environmental matters, which are critical in our industry.

’All systems need to be audited on a regular basis, allowing ongoing opportunities for improvement and being able to demonstrate that you’ve done it as well, year on year.

“Sharing good practice with our customers through this process has also helped. If a customer has developed a good working method or safety system for example, and we can adopt that too – it gives them the additional confidence that we share similar goals. A real working partnership can develop this way.

“It’s absolutely beneficial to all companies to seek out these accreditations. For Total Recycling Services its helped us take that step to where we want to be with our customers and our business. We wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work with them and we are proud to say we work with the big firms.”

Andy’s advises other companies must do the same too if they’re looking to go for different tenders.

He said: “I cannot emphasise the importance, that no matter how small a company you are, if you’re wanting to work with bigger organisations you must look at the relevant accreditations.

“It can be a lengthy process but it’s definitely worth it. One new contract can totally take your business to the next level.

“There are a million accreditations out there but you must look at the ones which are relevant for your business. Most recently we became members of RoSPA and worked to receive our bronze award in health and safety.”

 

Hartlepool College of Further Education steps up to inspire individuals with new FutureMe Zone

HARTLEPOOL College of Further Education has pledged to inspire future generations and guide individuals into their chosen careers, by opening a dedicated advice lounge for students and members of the public.

Working in partnership with the North East Collaborative Outreach Programme (NECOP), the College officially marked the opening of the FutureMe Zone with special guest British boxer and ex-student Savannah Marshall who cut the ribbon and welcomed in students.

After a recent report from the Children’s Commissioner showed that a child from a disadvantaged background in Hackney is three times more likely to go to university than a child from a disadvantaged background in Hartlepool, Head of Student Recruitment and CEIAG at Hartlepool College of Further Education, Mark Lee, is confident the lounge will both raise aspirations and make a positive difference.

He said: “It’s no secret that the Tees Valley has had its fair share of knock backs when it comes to employment and career opportunities.

“But instead of letting these statistics define us, we want it to drive us. It’s our role as a College to give everyone learning opportunities and the support and guidance they need to get their foot on the career ladder. We’re confident the FutureMe Zone will do just this.”

The newly opened lounge in the College offers a modern, comfortable space where students can access careers advice and explore the opportunities available to them through further and higher education, with the support of specialist advisors.

In addition to this, the College has also partnered with the Hartlepool Job Centre to open the zone to the wider public once a fortnight.

Mark explains: “We’ve seen many careers services reduced across the region with a national focus on moving advice to online platforms. However, it’s clear that people aren’t engaging with careers content online or via telephone. What works is good old-fashioned face-to-face personalised support, using technology to enhance the advice not deliver it.

“The connotations associated with turning up to the Job Centre to sign on are also quite negative. Instead the FutureMe Zone provides a relaxed, and positive environment where people can come to chat to a Job Centre careers advisor about what career options are available to them, through education or otherwise.”

The Hartlepool College’s FutureMe Zone is part of FutureMe North East, a programme of activities and services offered to students by the NECOP which is made up of five universities and 18 further education colleges in the North East.

In 2016 the programme received a £7.7million grant to increase the number of young people from participating neighbourhoods in the region entering higher education by 2020.

Mark added: “We’re delighted to have worked in partnership with the NECOP to secure the funding to create a space that will benefit young people in both the short and long-term.

“NECOP aims to raise awareness of higher opportunities for learners and here at Hartlepool College we’re all about excellence in Further and Higher Education. Our strong partnerships with universities across the region, particularly Teesside University, speak for themselves, and the College has also been recognised by Ofsted as having outstanding student support.

“This new space dedicated to life after College gives us a platform to raise this awareness amongst students in the region in a modern way.”

The zone is open to students every weekday from 1-4pm and the first session with Hartlepool Job Centre takes place on Thursday 24th May.

Publicity Seekers take Manchester and the PR Moment Awards

On April 26, the Publicity Seekers team attended the Northern PR Moment Awards at the Hilton in Manchester. If you want to find out exactly what happened, continue reading our brutally honest account of the night. I wish I could say it was a quiet and respectable evening, but as you read on you’ll realise nothing’s ever that easy when there’s wine on the table.

After a long drive from Hartlepool to Manchester in the back of our Managing Director’s car and after a number of wrong turns, we finally arrived at our destination with 30 minutes to get ready. A quick shower and a bottle of beer later I met with the rest of the team in the foyer of the Ibis. What? You didn’t think we were staying at the Hilton, did you?

After a team pep talk we booked our UBER and off we went. Pulling up to the Hilton was great. The extravagantly decorated hotel was beautiful, and we had our very own red carpet greeting us. Up we went up the spiral staircase and straight to the bar. It was my first time at the PR Moment awards and I wanted to make the most of that company card.

In attendance on the night were representatives from some of the biggest brands in the UK, including the in-house teams of Co-Op, University of Hull, and Northumbrian Water, between others. Just to be shortlisted amongst these companies was an honour to us all but we didn’t come for honour, we came to win.

After locating our table right next to the dance floor (pay attention because this makes an appearance later on in the night) we sat down and introduced ourselves to the brilliant guys from Cision and Weber Shandwick, who were sitting on our table before tucking in to what can only be described as some really good scran.

With the food out of the way it was time for a quick trip to the bar before the awards ceremony itself. There was only one award we were interested in though, and that was why we were here. Publicity Seekers had been shortlisted in the Best Low Budget Campaign for the #BeTheNext campaign we worked on with Hartlepool College of Further Education.

If you’re interested in the campaign you can find it across Twitter and Facebook under #BeTheNext.

 

Our new mate, Angie. Presenting one of the many awards on the night.

 

After what seemed like an eternity of categories, some of which were hosted by our new friends at Cision, we finally got to ours.

The competition in our category was tough with one of the largest lists of shortlisted companies on the night. It came to the presenter announcing the shortlisted names, some receiving lukewarm applause. However, thanks to our shameless networking and working the room, tables seemed to erupt when Publicity Seekers was announced.

Going up against companies such as Clarion, Digitaloft and Catapult PR, it turned out the night wasn’t ours to win. After shouts of fix from everyone in the room (me) we enjoyed the rest of the night.

After the ceremony was finished and everyone in the room had made good use of the wine on the table. The dance floor was officially opened. This was our chance to show off our moves and impress the big boys of the PR world.

Obviously, we were the first on the dance floor, grooving away to the Tina Turner classic, Proud Mary. Everyone was looking at us and I knew it was down to my incredible skills in mimicking our Tina.

After another trip to the bar to cool down after our dance off, we were introduced to the one and only ‘Voice of the Balls’, Alan Dedicoat, of National Lottery fame. Who we kindly asked to do a short video introduction for Publicity Seekers which you can find over on our Facebook and Twitter.

After rubbing shoulders with A list celebs, we met with Christian and Becky from W, a fellow North East Public Relations company who were attending the night. It was then we had our pictures taken looking ‘respectable’ by the great guys at Prospect PR.

 

What a beautiful bunch.

 

The rest of the night is sort of a blur of drinks and dancing in the centre of Manchester. Dressed in our tuxedos and ballgowns, we received a lot of looks from the students in the Northern Quarter, completed our work for the Hartlepool Tourism Board by inviting various Mancunians to the town and of course we ended the night at 4am with the obligatory pizza and bed. The true signs of a bloody good night.

Needless to say, we enjoyed our time in Manchester and although we didn’t win the award, we achieved what we set out to do. Have a great time as a team.