Author: Jonathan Saunders

Why video makes a great PR campaign

If you’re like me, you’ve dreamt of one day rubbing shoulders with the greats such as Hitchcock, Spielberg and Kubrick, and, if like me, you now find yourself in a career where you can stretch your creative legs, albeit in a less ‘Hollywood’ fashion, video production is the perfect option to both reach your company targets and get your creative juices flowing.

In my day-to-day job, I work with and combine many multimedia pieces in order to achieve our goals of spreading a client’s chosen message. More and more so I have realised the importance of using video to reach target audiences and I have seen first-hand the benefits that a well-produced piece of video content can have on a PR campaign.

The benefits seen, come down to the use of the correct type of content for the right audience. A short snappy video will work infinitely better for sites such as Facebook compared to websites such as YouTube, which is more accustomed to a longer video. YouTube places greater importance in what it calls ‘Watch Time’ and because of that longer videos tend to perform better as people nowadays are choosing to watch a particular content they have chosen or subscribe to.

Facebook and Twitter however, tend to prefer short videos (30secs- minute) with up to 85% of all Facebook videos being watched without the sound. These videos benefit from people scrolling through their feeds at work, or on the train. The length of video can have a massive impact on the way it performs.

So, what exactly are the benefits of video to a PR campaign? Videos are a form of passive entertainment, meaning unlike the written word, or in PR terms news releases, it takes zero to little effort for the user to consume the content. Meaning, it’s easier as a business to get your message across.

The use of video on a company website can also be highly beneficial. According to research by Visually, by displaying a well-crafted video on a company website, you can increase conversion rates by up to 85% with the website itself being 53% more likely to show up on search engine results pages.

Video is quickly becoming one of the largest forms of content on the internet with 72 hours being uploaded every minute to YouTube and over a billion users on the website. That’s around a third of all users on the internet consuming video content every day. It’s a really simple choice when you look at the stats.

By using video content to push out a company’s message, you’re ensuring that the message stays with your audience for longer. The Social Science Research Network states that 65% of people are classed as visual leaners meaning viewers remember 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to 10% when reading it in text according to digital agency Insivia.

If you want to see a drastic change in the performance of your PR campaign, ad campaign or marketing campaign then video is the key tool to use. Here at Publicity Seekers we always recommend video content output in order to increase interaction over social media. A simple live video has worked wonders for us. By filming the day to day activities of your business you can increase shareability and engagement over social media and really target your chosen audience and drive them to your company.

So now that I’ve convinced you, here are my top five tips when producing video content:

  1. Short and Sweet
    Keep your videos under 60 seconds in length when posting to social media. This ensures you keep the audience’s attention and can be succinct with your messages.
  2. People Pleaser
    People listen to people. In order for a viewer to connect properly with your message, ensure people are the subject of every video you create.
  3. Mobilise
    Over half of video content is viewed on mobile with 90% of Twitter video views happening on a mobile device. Know where your audience will view your content and create it with that in mind.
  4. Music Maestro
    The use of music in your videos is incredibly important. A simple background track can completely change the tone of your video. Pick the right music for the message you’re trying to convey.
  5. Have Fun
    If you have fun filming then viewers will have fun viewing. Have a laugh and enjoy yourself but remember to keep an air of professionalism.

Total Recycling Services is a North East Business Award winner

Darlington-based waste management company, Total Recycling Services has beat off stiff competition to claim the title of Best Services Provider in the Teesside Heat of the North East Business Awards, held at Teesside University’s Olympia Building.

Total Recycling Services, which operates from two sites in Darlington’s Yarm Road Business Park, will now go on to compete with winners from the Northumberland & Tyneside and Durham, Sunderland & South Tyneside heats at the Grand Final on 26 April at Hardwick Hall.

Alex Foreman, Managing Director of Total Recycling Services, said about his company’s win: “I’m absolutely 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.”

The awards are held to celebrate not just the biggest but the best businesses in the North East and see over 2,000 people attend every year.

Other winners on the night include Prosafe Engineering as Newcomer of the Year, Cleveland Bridge in Manufacturing, Wynyard Hall in Tourism & Hospitality and Quorn Foods as Company of the Year.

Alex concluded: “We’re now looking forward the Grand Final in April and having the opportunity to represent the Tees Valley and every one of its great businesses on a larger scale.”

Total Recycling Services will now join electrical engineers Houghton International and engineering consultants M5tec Limited in the Services Category at the Grand Finale.


£500k Investment for Total Recycling Services

WASTE MANAGEMENT company Total Recycling Services has invested over £500k into bespoke vehicles and equipment to meet the service demand expected throughout 2018.

Since 2009 the company has invested over £5.5m into its site equipment, which services large-scale manufacturers across the UK.

The most recent investment was in response to the rapid growth of the company’s industrial cleaning services division which was introduced in early 2017 and has seen the area of the business grow from three personnel to over 15 staff spread across five teams.

Andy Dobson, Operations Director at Total Recycling Services, said: “We have seen a very prosperous period for Total over the last 12 months and 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.

“The glass imploder cost us around £60,000 and will allow us to take waste glass from our clients and turn it into a clean granulated glass which can then be recycled into any number of products. This had been going through a commissioning period in 2017 and is now fully in use.

“We have also bought three new tractor units which can pull either a tanker or articulated trailer. We’ve also bought chemical tankers which will help us to reduce our carbon footprint in transporting waste and allows our customers to save money too.

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

This is just the tip of the iceberg for Total’s plans for 2018. The organisation is looking to add to their investment into equipment by acquiring more vehicles later in the year and developing a new weighbridge on site as well as continuing to look at a potential acquisition before the end of the year and implement new technology systems.

Andy said: “We’re currently still on the hunt for an acquisition and we would like to do something a little bigger to help us compete at a higher level and to help us with our clients who are further North. Giving us an even bigger footing in the region.

“In 2018, we’re looking to increase our presence in the market and we want attract more big customers. I strongly feel that Total Recycling Services is the best in the market at what we do and will continue to make these investments to ensure we are giving that high level of service consistently. ”

Total Recycling Services works in partnership with a number of large manufacturing companies such as Nissan, Hitachi and AkzoNobel offering bespoke service packages.

The company is planning to reach a turnover of £25m by 2022 and last year reported a turnover of 14.5m.

Triple success for Hart Biologicals and Hart Innovations

Hartlepool based Haemostasis specialists, Hart Biologicals is celebrating its shortlist in three categories at this year’s North-East Business Awards.

The medical diagnostics company has made it down to the final three contenders in each of the Heart of the Community, Innovation and Export Awards for the 2018 annual ceremony.

Alby Pattison, Managing Director of Hart Biologicals, said: “We’re over the moon to be nominated at this year’s awards. Last time round we won two out of the four categories we were contending in and we couldn’t help but come back to defend our titles and show just how much we have achieved over the last year.

“I’m confident that the outstanding work both the Hart Biologicals and Hart Innovations teams have been undertaking over the past 12 months can ensure we’re real competition.”

At the 2017 event, Hart Biologicals and sister company Hart Innovations won both the Export Award and Innovation Award, before narrowly missing out on Small Business of the Year and Heart of the Community.

Alby concluded: “To be shortlisted again for this year’s awards is an honour in itself.

We’re already looking forward to welcoming the judges of each of the categories and showcasing to them just what makes both companies stand out.”

The awards are held by Trinity Mirror in association with the North-East England Chamber of Commerce and honour the shining lights of the region’s successful and innovative business world.

The Teesside heat of the North-East Business awards will be held at Teesside University’s Olympia Building on 22 March with the winners of all three regional finals going head to head on 26th April in a grand final held at Sedgefield’s Hardwick Hall.

Forrest Digital plans to increase turnover by 30% following acquisition

Tees Valley based online marketing specialist, Forrest Digital, is increasing its turnover by 30% following the acquisition of a neighbouring digital marketing agency.

The company has acquired the digital marketing arm of We Are Myrias Ltd, securing Forrest Digital around 80% of that company’s client base and also bringing with it the expertise of owner Dan Smith who will join Forrest Digital as a Non-Executive Director.

As a result the company plans to recruit an additional member of staff and a University intern within the coming months.

Iain Forrest, Managing Director of Forrest Digital said: “The acquisition was the natural next step for myself and Dan and also our businesses. We have worked well together on different projects for clients over the last few years and as Dan took his career to the next level, it made sense for Forrest Digital to take over the workload and expand its offering.

“Dan’s client base is incredibly specialist which is what we love and are very good at working on. Clients which have now come on board with Forrest are in a variety of sectors including finance, software development and ecommerce.

“Following the increase in work, we will be recruiting both a graduate and hopefully a university intern in the coming months to help us fully develop these opportunities and grow the company further. We are already very busy and really excited that things are going to get even busier.”

New clients have already been introduced to Iain and the team and Dan will be there throughout to inform and guide the company.

Dan, who is now working closely with the team at co-investment company Growth Capital Ventures Ltd, said: “Having worked and collaborated with Iain for a number of years, there are very few people in our industry that I respect to the same degree. Professional, knowledgeable and extremely customer-focused, when the opportunity came to have We Are Myrias and Forrest Digital work closer together, it was obvious that it needed to happen. It was the natural progression for both companies.”

“We Are Myrias has worked on some fantastic projects for multinational clients and I’m confident Forrest Digital will be able to build on this and continue exceeding the expectations of our loyal client base.”

Iain concluded: “Last year was already a year of steady growth for us and it really is true that as we help our clients to grow, we grow too.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing what 2018 holds and just where it will take Forrest Digital.”

Forrest Digital, based at Fusion Hive in Stockton, specialises in digital marketing for growth-focused companies in a number of industries including manufacturing, ecommerce and software development. The company helps clients develop and launch organic and paid campaigns in search and social media as well as creating content and providing in-house training and support.

Most recently the company helped local company Weschenfelder Ltd to increase its online sales by 25%, building a specialist website and marketing campaign to enter the German market, and has helped a 5* star hotel in Mayfair, London to grow website traffic and direct booking revenue by 40% in just 6 months.

From Apprentice to Apprenticeship Boss

Hartlepool College of Further Education has appointed Gary Riches as Head of Apprenticeships, coming full circle after completing his award winning apprenticeship with the organisation over 18 years ago.

The College, which is ranked number one in the North East for apprenticeships, allowed Gary to start his career as an apprentice electrician in the year 2000, when he was employed by Tees Valley firm Gus Robinson Developments. His high performance for the local construction company were recognised with three consecutive apprentice of the year awards.

After four years, Gary progressed to a fully qualified electrical technician and two years later on to a project manager and electrical estimator before going on to manage the entire electrical department in just 10 years.

Gary said: “Around about that time the workload within my role was pretty tough. We’d been through the height of the recession so it wasn’t a great time for the industry. My wife and I were expecting twins so I knew I needed to revaluate and find something which would allow me to look after them and give me enough time to spend with my new family.

“There was an advertisement about an opportunity to be a lecturer of engineering at the College. I got in touch with a few of the people that taught me all those years ago to see if they thought I’d be a good fit for the job. They agreed, so I applied.

“It was a great feeling to come into the role because many of the people who I was working with taught me. I was welcomed straight away and everyone in the school had been supportive of me and got me through the trials of my first few years.”

As Head of Apprenticeships, Gary’s main task is to oversee the transition from apprenticeship frameworks to the new standards brought in with the introduction of the levy. He also manages all of the work based assessors that undertake progress reviews with apprentices in their workplace.

Gary said: “I also want to take the College towards higher education apprenticeships and in particular I will be looking at working alongside some of the brilliant higher education institutions in the region including Teesside University.

“I’m extremely passionate about apprenticeships because I’ve been there myself. Apprenticeships are an incredibly important option for learners. They allow people to get the crucial skills they need to work in a variety of industries and set learners up for the rest of their careers.

“With the new apprenticeship levy, it’s great that employers are able to take more charge of the apprenticeships they offer and hopefully this will see a much-needed influx of apprenticeships and apprentices, not only in our region but nationally.

“I think potential apprentices can see from my story that by taking the same route you’re not limiting yourself to one career path. There are numerous avenues available to them and many options to progress from their initial apprenticeship.”

Recently, Hartlepool College of Further Education has been rated as ‘Outstanding’ by OFSTED for its apprenticeship provision and has also been shortlisted in the Apprenticeship Programme of the Year category at the Times Education Supplement Further Education awards.


Jordan’s a high flyer after his apprenticeship

Hartlepool College of Further Education is celebrating a former apprentice who has taken his career to new heights.

Jordan Garrick, 23, who attended Northfield School in Billingham came to Hartlepool College of Further Education in 2012 to study a Higher National Diploma in Aerospace Engineering through Teesside University.

Since then Jordan has gone on to an apprenticeship with Babcock International Ltd working within its military aviation wing.

Jordan said: “I always knew I wanted to do something within aerospace. Originally, I wanted to be a pilot in the RAF but unfortunately, I’m too tall and I’d have no chance if I had to press the eject button, it would take my knees off!  So, I chose to go into engineering instead and I’ve never looked back since. I’d never done anything like it before so I came with an open mind and signed up at the College.

“When I finished my course in 2014 I had to question whether I wanted the experience of working within the industry or whether I wanted to go to university to continue onto my Bachelor of Engineering or Master of Engineering.

“I finally chose to apply for an apprenticeship position which was available at Babcock International. I’d been on visits to RAF Leeming, where the company is based, whilst I was doing my HND and I was fascinated. The apprenticeship was the foot in the door and I needed to kick-start my career.

“My apprenticeship was a bit different to others, while other apprentices usually have a day release to attend college. My entire apprenticeship was based at up at RAF Leeming and it was all on the job training.

“I started out in my first year on what is known as the ‘First Line’ which includes working on and planning the flying program and making any rectifications to that program. My second year was on the ‘Second Line’ which is scheduled maintenance on the aircraft. A bit like when you take your car in for a service.”

Whilst at Babcock, Jordan has primarily been working on the Hawk T1A, a modified version of a single engine, jet powered training aircraft used by the RAFs 100 Squadron.

“Working on aircraft such as the Hawk was a new experience for me at the time. I’d only worked on the jet in the hanger at the College, which is a dead aircraft purely for training purposes. So, to have the opportunity to be working on live aircraft was exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. I felt I got a lot of job satisfaction from it, especially seeing the aircraft take off after having worked on it was thrilling.

“The guys up at Leeming have been incredible. The people you work with support you through it all. I was one of the first apprentices taken on by Babcock Aviation along with one other apprentice. We were sort of leading the way for all subsequent apprentices and the team really took us under their wing and taught us a lot.”

Jordan passed his apprenticeship in June 2016 and by August had been promoted to a supervisory role, meaning he now oversees another employee within the company. Jordan said: “It just goes to show how fast things can change if you work hard and apply yourself.

“Babcock is even sponsoring me through my degree at Teesside University. Something I was thinking about years ago when I was at the cross roads of university or an apprenticeship. Only now I have the great experience of working within the industry and the added bonus of them paying all of the fees, which is brilliant.”

Following his degree, Jordan already has a space on Babcock’s graduate programme where he has the chance to work in other countries and sees himself in a management position at the engineering company in the future.

Jordan said: “The opportunities that have been afforded to me because of my apprenticeship have been amazing. I’ve been sent away on detachment to work on aircraft during NATO exercises in countries such as Estonia and Hungary. It not only helps me develop my skills but opens my mind to different cultures.”

Jordan has recently bought his own home and is aiming to finally attain his dream by training for his Private Pilot Licence. Jordan said: “I need about 45 hours of airtime in order to get my licence, which I try to fit in when I’m not doing my university work. I’m almost half way now so I just need to keep on going.

“It’s unbelievable to think how far I’ve come since 2012, when I first started at Hartlepool College of Further Education. My apprenticeship opened the door to possibilities that I never would have accomplished had I went to university. Who knows where I would be now if I hadn’t taken this chance.

“Apprenticeships are an incredible way to learning skills while getting your foot on the career ladder. I love working at Babcock and I love learning there. My advice for anyone who is in a similar position as I was is “Just do it!’.”

Hart Bio makes quality appointment

Hart Biologicals has appointed Jennifer Feasby as the company’s Quality Manager.

Jennifer, who hails from Kirklevington, left the North East to attend Queen Mary University and Westfield College of London where she studied a BSc in Molecular Biology.

After graduating, Jennifer came back to the North East because of what she describes as her ‘love for the region’.

She started her career as a food microbiologist before moving into laboratory management. Finally finding herself at the University Hospital of North Tees as Head of Microbiology and Quality Management in the NHS’s pharmaceutical quality control laboratory.

Jennifer said: “I have always veered toward the quality aspect of things throughout my career and about eight years ago, whilst I was working in the NHS, I had the opportunity to move into it fulltime. I just knew it was exactly where I wanted to be because of how much I really enjoy it.”

Whilst with the NHS, Jennifer not only took on the added responsibilities of Quality Management in its labs, she also undertook the challenge of gaining her Master’s in Business Administration at Teesside University.

Jennifer said: “I undertook an MBA because I wanted to move into a senior management role, and understand how businesses as a whole operated, not just the area I worked in.

“I think it’s allowed me to understand what motivates people from different areas and levels within a company.”

When asked about her role at Hart Biologicals, Jennifer said: “I’ve come into the business as Quality Manager so I will be ensuring that everything that is manufactured here is compliant with standards, including both ISO and MHRA.

“There are a lot of things I’m looking forward to doing here. There has already been a great grounding in quality within the company, but the nature of quality is you can always improve.

“There’s a lot I’ve learnt in my time at the NHS that I want to put into use so that it can benefit Hart Biologicals and build on the brilliant work it already does.”

Jennifer likes to spend her spare time walking with her two sons Jonathan, 16, and Matthew, 14.

Jennifer said: “My boys are my absolute life. A couple of years ago I did the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge with Jonathan and this year he’s motivated me to undertake the Thousand Mile Challenge where we have to hike a thousand miles in a year. He’s incredibly fit and puts the rest of us to shame.”

Jennifer concluded: “I really like it here and I feel I’ve made a really good move because of how passionate everyone is. You can see how impassioned Alby is about the company and he instils that in everyone else. There’s a definite friendly vibe here too.

“It’s amazing to think how much progress the company has made over the years and the fact we have an R&D department as well as manufacturing proves the ideology the company has of advancement. I’m excited to be working within a company that is forwar thinking.”

Time for a creative challenge

Every year the Publicity Seekers team takes a day out to complete a certain creative challenge.

The challenge includes each individual on our team being given £100 to spend in any way they want. The only parameters we had were that it had to be creative, we had to be able to write a blog about it, and most importantly, we had to have fun.

As I was given the task I wracked my brain for the ideas for what I could do. Anything that was outside the box or zany. The usual things entered my head, like a bungee jump or sky dive. I even checked the days flight listings to see how far I could get on the money I was given.

While great ideas, I didn’t see the potential of why anyone would care that I managed to fly to Amsterdam and back. I wanted to find something that was important to the people of Hartlepool and the history of the town.

Then it hit me: ‘Why not the history of the town?’

I’d decided on putting together a time capsule of everything that makes Hartlepool great. Instantly, I thought of Cameron’s Brewery and its world renowned ruby red ale, Strongarm. I thought of the town’s seafaring history and the National Museum of the Royal Navy and I thought of the mighty Hartlepool United and of course, monkeys.

I started by visiting the brewery, and acquiring a bottle of the famous ruby red. I stopped to speak to some of the gentleman in the bar and asked them what they thought was the defining aspect of their town. One answer I received from a little elderly gentleman, missing some of his teeth, was ‘the women’.

After we all laughed, I told him I don’t think it would be possible (or legal) to put a woman in a time capsule and I went off to the maritime museum.

At the museum, I wanted to find a replica of the prominent 1800’s frigate the HMS Trincomalee which towers so proudly above the marina. Whilst there I was informed of the Heugh Battery in the Headland of the town and its significance in the First World War.

Unfortunately, the Battery was closed so I went to make my final stop on the journey, Victoria Park.

I purchased a home shirt from the brilliant little club shop on site at the stadium and a teddybear with the old Hartlepool United logo on it. Although, no matter how much I pleaded with the assistant in the store he wouldn’t take me to see Hangus.

So, there you have it! So far, our time capsule contains things from three of the most prominent historical places throughout the town. However, that’s not the end. We want to hear from people about the sentimental things they think should be included.

If you would like to take part in our time capsule challenge then please contact me either by email at or by phone at 01429 874555.

How Hartlepool College of Further Education bucked the trend of falling apprenticeships

After startling figures were released last month stating that since the apprenticeship levy reform, apprenticeship starts across the country have decreased by 61%, FE Week spoke to Darren Hankey, Principal of Hartlepool College of Further Education, one of the few Colleges that are bucking the trend.

The college, which is the number one general further education provider of apprenticeships in the North of England and second in the country, reported a rise of 6% in its apprenticeship starts since the levy was introduced.

Darren said: “Hartlepool College of Further Education has a long and well-established track record of delivering high quality apprenticeships.  This was echoed by Ofsted when it inspected the College in March 2017 which led to the College’s apprenticeship work being judged ‘outstanding’.”

The Tees Valley college has over 700 apprentices on its books with the majority of these aged between 16-18 years old.  Apprenticeships range across many different sectors including automotive, engineering, advanced manufacturing, aeronautical, business administration, travel and tourism and hair and beauty to name a few.

Darren, said: “We can’t say we were pleased with the reforms when they were announced.

“We can understand that for some firms the previous way apprenticeships operated were not fit for purpose, but this wasn’t the case for our college or the firms with which we worked.  Over time, we had built up good relationships with all of our firms and ensured that all of apprenticeship programmes were tailored specifically to the firm’s needs.

“As a result of this approach, the vast majority of the College’s apprentices achieve their programmes and progress into full-time permanent employment.

“It took us a while to get our head around the reforms – everything has changed.  That said, we made a concerted effort to work even more closely with our organisations to really communicate the changes and to ensure they were aware of the opportunities the reforms provided.

“We produced new materials, both in hard copy and on our website, we held numerous briefings, carried out stakeholder mapping sessions and assigned senior managers to organisations to act as a point of contact. Most importantly of all, we ensured our organisations had a one-to-one service related to the reforms, with our staff regularly going out to see businesses directly and being on hand to answer any of their queries.”

Whilst this has led to comparatively good apprenticeship recruitment figures which go against the national trend, there are still concerns ahead for the college.

Darren said: “Despite these encouraging figures, we’re still unsure how this will translate into actual funding.  In many areas we operate, new standards are not yet available and the funding for apprenticeship frameworks has been cut severely.

“Furthermore, there is still insecurity around the latest non-levy procurement exercise, the new changes have led to a lot more work in terms of contract compliance and uncertainty in terms of cash-flow”, stated Darren Hankey.

“Where there are new apprenticeship standards; in many cases end-point assessment is not in place and this is quite alarming.  I can only imagine the kind of backlash there would be if new GCSEs or A’ levels were rolled out without final examination procedures in place.

“Outside of the FE and skills sector, this has hardly received any coverage, but it has added greater ambiguity for apprentices, firms and providers.

“For us it is a case of ensuring we are working ahead of time, making sure we’re ready for change and continuing to strengthen our partnerships with companies across the North East.”

Hartlepool College has successful working relationships with a number of large levy paying companies including Caterpillar, Gestamp Talent, Seymour Civil Engineering, Altec and Babcock International.

To learn more about Hartlepool College of Further Education, visit the website: