Category: Blog

Happy New Year from Publicity Seekers

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

The thoughts of a new graduate – “Businesses need to give students that all important first push”

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It’s been an eventful year full of stress, panic, and more than a few mini breakdowns, but last week I donned my gown and mortar board and strutted across the stage at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light to graduate with a distinction from my MA in Public Relations.

Sitting here now in the Publicity Seekers office, living the career that I’ve worked so hard to achieve, reminds me just how far I’ve come in a relatively short amount of time, and just how crucial it was that somebody, somewhere, gave me a shot.

I first contacted Publicity Seekers in January 2017, kicking off my new year’s resolution to make this Master’s degree happen by gaining some relevant work experience.

The course at Sunderland University was brilliant, and the modules and lecturers were great, but it didn’t give me the industry experience that I needed to stand out from other graduates.

On paper I didn’t have a great deal to offer. I had no relevant experience in a communications role, where as many of my co-students had journalism or PR backgrounds. Yet the team at Publicity Seekers gave me a chance and invited me to come in to the office one day a week.

I cannot lie, I was nervous. I felt like a lot was resting on it and I was terrified that I was going to mess it up. Yet the team were more than understanding and patient, and in time I was given the opportunity to show what I could do, something that I would never have been able to do in a half an hour interview situation.

I think that’s the thing, many graduates don’t have the experience to secure their first role in their chosen field and it soon turns in to a nasty cycle. You can’t get a job because you don’t have any experience in the field and you can’t get any experience because you don’t have a job in the field.

Especially in a result based industry like PR, how could I ever expect an employer to hire me when I couldn’t show that I could achieve the results they needed?

It’s tough, and that’s where companies need to step in and offer their support. Lots of businesses do have the time and the resources to give a graduate that first step on to the ladder, it’s just a case of giving them a chance and letting them prove what they’re capable of.

During my time on work experience I was put out of my comfort zone, but thanks to that I developed skills that my fellow students might not have had, and my confidence went through the roof.

My advice to a business owner or managing director would be to make connections with local colleges and universities and to be proactive in working with students before they graduate.

By investing in a student, inviting them to come work with you on a part time basis, you’re moulding them to be a great fit for a role in your industry. You’re creating a candidate who will fit perfectly in to your business.

I’m talking a lot here about businesses investing in students at a higher level, but in reality I think it needs to start much earlier on. I went to university straight from finishing my A Levels, to study Sociology for no other reason than it was a subject that I was quite good at.

If somebody had exposed me to a career in the creative industry while I was at College, or even when I was at secondary school, I’m sure my decisions for university would have been very different and I would most likely be a lot further on in this industry than I am.

If businesses in the North East want to thrive and grow, I strongly believe that they need to be setting aside more time to engage with the next generation, their future workforce. Demonstrate to them what a career in that sector looks like, show them what life could look like for them once they’ve finished studying, inspire them to work hard, and make them want to work for you.

On a final note, I want to say a huge thank you to Publicity Seekers and all their clients, for giving me a chance, being patient, and giving me a job that I love getting up for in the morning. What more could anyone ask for?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is the media doing enough to tell the stories of the #unreported and unheard?

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Trust in the mainstream media is at an all-time low. According to recent research, the number of people who said they trusted news outlets has fallen, from 33% in 2015 to just 24% this year.

I’m sure there are multiple reasons why this is the case but a stand out point made by those surveyed was that they just don’t feel that their outlooks and experiences are reflected in what they read in the newspaper, hear in the radio bulletins, see on the television broadcasts, or click on the news websites.

And why is this? Quite simply because many of them still think of journalists in a very traditional way. White, middle aged, middle class men. Sadly, this stereotype is actually quite accurate, and I think it’s more than fair to say from the survey findings, that all news outlets would benefit from a more diversity editorial team, authentically telling the stories of those who aren’t white, middle aged, middle class or male.

Wednesday’s Civic Journalism Lab event, hosted at BBC Newcastle, was an opportunity to explore what the media industry needs to do to change the ways things are in regard to diversity in order to try and win back the trust of the general public

Ran in partnership with Newcastle University, the audience around me was predominantly made up of university students. As much as it felt like I was back in a university lecture room, it was brilliant to see so many young people in attendance. After all, the millennial generation, of which I would include myself, has one of the highest distrust percentages when it comes to the media, often feeling disengaged from what’s going on in the world around us.

The discussion was held by four guest speakers, all of whom are actively working to encourage diversity within their outlets, in order to support the voices of those who are often unreported on by the media and write from a perspective that audiences can relate to and trust.

These were, Michael Segalov, the News Editor for Huck Magazine, Helen Amess, Outreach Manager for BBC North, Joshi Hermann, Editor-In-Chief for The Tab, and Jamie Clifton, UK Editor for The Vice.

Michael spoke about how Huck Magazine looks for ways in which they can bring alternative perspectives and fresh voices to the conversations had around major news stories.

These opinion pieces will come from young writers from a diverse range of backgrounds, who the magazine call on to ask ‘how do you see this story?’ By creating content that mixes the factual information in with the opinions and experiences of the writer, you are creating something that the audience can engage with and maybe even relate to.

Helen highlighted that the BBC feels it has a real responsibility to engage with the audiences who pay their license fee but perhaps never see themselves reflected on the television, never hear themselves on the radio, ad would never see themselves on the BBC’s social media platforms or website.

She pointed out the opportunity that news outlets have to engage with diverse audiences online but admitted that there’s is almost a skills gap when it comes to older journalists working effectively on social media. In order to reach audiences who don’t engage with traditional forms of media, journalists need to place equal importance on social channels, producing content that is designed specifically for online, not a rehash of what appeared on the TV or radio bulletins.

Joshi Hermann, Editor-in-Chief of The Tab, suggested that because the magazine has a good understanding of its reader’s interests, cultural references and educational backgrounds than most publications, they can tailor editorial for them. Page views online don’t necessarily indicate what people care about, the best way to find that out is to get out there and ask. To attract the attention, and most importantly the trust of readers, variety is essential, and content should be diverse in order to appeal to a diverse audience.

So what does all this mean for when the team at Publicity Seekers are storytelling for our clients? At Publicity Seekers we always say that people buy from people and in some cases it may be the stories, opinions and experiences of the staff members that customers will relate to and engage with.

There’s so much of the same news out there but a different opinion piece from a team member may provide an alternative perspective, which will shine the story in a completely different light and make it unique and attractive to the publications that we target.

Make sure to look out for our client stories in our media centre.

Publicity Seekers’ Road to the BBC

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THE Publicity Seekers team headed out and about for a media day last week, catching up with contacts and sharpening our knowledge on exactly what content they are looking for.

We met Capital breakfast presenter, Matt Bailey, first in the reception of Global Radio. Matt gave us a brief tour of both the Capital and Heart studios and showed us to the boardroom, our planning hub for the morning. Here we began brainstorming the service we give our clients and how we could work to further enhance it.

The boardroom towered high above Newcastle-upon-Tyne and had a brilliant birds eye view of St James’ Park, so we didn’t find it too difficult to be inspired in such a setting.

From there we met with Martin Lindsay, the senior reporter at Global, in between his morning broadcasts. This was our opportunity to pick Martin’s brain about exactly what he looks for in a news story, what should be featured in his ideal press release, and how he puts together his daily news bulletins.

After our informative meeting with Martin and our lunch at The Alchemist, we headed to Blake’s to meet with Michael Marsh, news editor at the Chronicle. Michael was kind enough to take some time out of reporting on a murder case at Newcastle Crown Court to chat through a day in the life at his publication.

Unfortunately, he didn’t drop any hints as to the outcome of the case. He did however field our questions about the strategies Trinity Mirror is implementing and again, what things he would look for in a news release and how best to work alongside journalists to do our jobs.

We then came to the final stop on our tour of the Toon, with the team attending a panel debate at BBC Newcastle about what the future holds for local journalism.
As part of the panel there were a number of big names including Helen Dalby, editor of ChronicleLive and regional head of digital for Trinity Mirror; Gavin Foster, managing editor of the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail, Megan Lucero, head of Google-funded Bureau Local, Ted Ditchburn, managing director of North News and Andrew McKegney, policy and communication business partner at Newcastle City Council.

During the hour debate, there were a number of interesting points made by the panel. Gavin Foster stated that the rapidly changing ways in which people consume their news is due to the implementation of new technology and that some national media are still getting this massively wrong.

Helen Dalby said that digital is just a different mode of delivery for content and that as journalists they must not get caught up in analytics, as she said: “analytics don’t replace news sense or code of conduct”.

As for the next generation of journalists, Megan Lucero left the audience pondering whether or not journalism academies should leave space and time for students to be innovative in the way they deliver their news.

Days like this go a long way in helping our team to see and understand the other side of the coin. It ultimately allowed the newest members of the team to put to bed the apprehensions they have about meeting journalists and strengthened the relationship between the team and the publications we deal with on a daily basis.

PRs and Journos: Can’t live with them, can’t live without them

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With the fallout of the Middlesbrough FC and Gazette dispute still prominent in North East news at the minute, we take a look at the often-frayed relationship between journalists and companies (in particular the Public Relations professionals working within said companies), and why it’s important for both parties to work together harmoniously.

Many often believe that journalists look at PR professionals as a necessary evil and PR pros look at journalists as a means to an end. This isn’t necessarily true, as both professions are two sides of the same coin and both need each other to complete their objectives.

It’s fundamentally important for both to treat each other with respect and to understand the purposes and goals that each side has, so that situations like those with Middlesbrough FC and The Gazette don’t happen again.

Obviously it’s not the first time that a football club and a newspaper have fallen out in the North East. Famously, Newcastle United banned local and national press from reporting on any of the club’s business dealings in October 2013.

This animosity stems from the club’s public relations team not appreciating that journalists have a need to dramatise stories to sell papers. This is something that has been prominent in the press for a very long time.

It’s not a secret that journalists these days have to work to sometimes-unreasonable expectations. The demand on a journalist is astronomical. With 24 hour rolling news, social media, website stories, as well as traditional printed versions there is an ever increasing pressure to deliver. PR pros can use this to their advantage at times but ultimately the situation is beneficial to everyone.

According to comments by Julia Hobsbawm in The Guardian, 80% of news and business stories emanate from public relations sources. This is a huge number and it’s no surprise that PR pros use this necessity of constant demand for stories to achieve their goals and journalists use PR to give them the edge over other journalists.

If these two parties continue to put aside any perceived conflicts between one another and begin to understand they can work together, then work can begin to move forward together. If PR pros take time to understand the needs of a journalist and visa versa, then the future of PR and Journalism can, and will be, forever intertwined.

GCSE Results Day 2017, but what do those grades really mean for the future of the next generation?

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Waking up, I could only imagine how year 11’s across the country were feeling as the news reader on the radio announced the beginning of GCSE results days 2017.

Easily one of the most nerve wracking days of a 16 year olds life, memories flooded back of the day I arrived at school to pick up the brown envelope, that, at the time, you believe contains the fate of the rest of your life.

I arrived at Manor Community Academy in Hartlepool at 8:30am and eager students were already waiting at the door, ready to get that dreaded moment over and done with. After five years of secondary school and two years of hard work preparing for the GCSE exams, the day not only symbolises the start of the next step in life, but the end of an era. Emotions were high, but it was brilliant to see so many chuffed faces as expectations were met or even beaten.

But a clear difference this year was the look of confusion on some of the students faces.

A new numerical grade system has replaced the traditional A*-G grades for English and Maths and according to research from The Student Room, students find the 1-9 grading system is difficult to understand.

The reforms to the grading system have been introduced in an attempt to raise standards, so that pupils have the knowledge and skills they need to compete in a global workplace. Yet with the new grading system brings new, tougher exams which has resulted in a dip in the pass rate across England.

For some, classroom studies and GCSE exams are a breeze, but what about those who struggle? Do harder exams and disappointing results really mean the end of the world?

After this year’s drop in the pass rate it is more important than ever to inspire young people to keep their heads up, keep concentrating on their ambitions and to not be too disheartened.

At this point it’s vital that students are encouraged to find an area of study that they love. Maths, Science and English aren’t for everyone and it’s sometimes easy to forget that there are so many alternative areas in which students can excel. Once they find their niche and their passion, educational success will follow.

I know many successful business owners who will happily tell you that GCSE results aren’t the be all and end all, and as Publicity Seekers Managing Director, Samantha Lee, very rightly said: “Celebrate what you’ve got and don’t beat yourself up on what you don’t. Life is full of interesting paths and yours will come, regardless of what an exam paper says.”

Teesside, as a thriving business community, has an opportunity here to step up and inspire the future generations. After all, 2017’s GCSE students will one day soon be making up the Teesside workforce and what better way to secure a business’s future success than by preparing them in advance?

Apprenticeships, internships, work experience placements, school visits offering demonstrations, and talks are just a few ways that businesses can make a massive difference. It’s about taking a step back and identifying how, as role models, they can inspire and make an impact.

So what are you going to do?

Tees Valley’s £6m funding helps 1,000’s return to employment

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The brilliant news that the Tees Valley has received £6million worth of funding to support thousands of people across the region back in to work, is music to our ears at a time where the region’s future success is at the forefront of our minds.

In the wake of Wednesday’s ‘Building a Thriving North East’ event, held at Hartlepool College of Further Education, the importance of building the confidence and ambition of the Tees Valley community, young and old, is evident. If the region is going to bounce back from the issues that it has previously faced, and establish itself as the powerhouse it deserves to be, business leaders need to collaborate in order to tackle the array of social, educational, and mindset barriers that potentially stand in the way.

Our region is bursting with innovative, forward-thinking businesses, who have worked hard to reinvent themselves in times of regional change and have come out on top time and time again. The Tees Valley, once known for heavy industry such as steel manufacturing, has evolved in to a hub of digital/creative industry, which demonstrates its diversity perfectly.

These businesses have the potential to progress and grow, yet if businesses don’t make the effort to instil passion and excitement in to the next generation, where will we be 10 years from now?

The pilot initiative, which has been launched in the six combined authority areas in the country, is particularly exciting, as it offers opportunity to people aged 30 and over, who have had the greatest difficult getting in to the world of work due to struggles experienced during their time in education.

At Wednesday’s event, Shaun Hope, Head of Student Recruitment at Hartlepool College of Further Education, spoke about the difficulties that a results-driven education system has created. A constant focus on achieving the best results has meant that the support for those who academically aren’t the greatest performers has declined year after year.

This initiative will help to combat this lack of support, which resulted in school underachievers struggling to find employment. It will give them the opportunity to identify their talents and skills, and support with driving their ambition to achieve and better themselves.

Yet what I find most exciting is that its ripple effect will have a positive impact on those around them. If a child see’s a parent in a full time job, achieving and feeling fulfilled, they are more likely to have aspirations for their own future career. The same goes for other family members, friends and neighbours.

Our newly elected mayor, Ben Houchen, is calling upon local support services and councils, voluntary organisations, and Tees Valley businesses to provide the best possible support to help people back to work. Thanks to this funding, support will no longer be a financial burden, all that is asked is that they provide their time.

Going forward a regional focus needs to be on urging business and organisation leaders to consider themselves as role models to the community and to take a step back to see how they can help to make a difference.

Tees Valley businesses working together to overcome adversity

Kevin Byrne, Andy Steel, Jayne Moules and Alby Pattison will comprise the panel

 

As a region, it’s fair to say that in the past the Tees Valley hasn’t had the easiest of times. Although we have proven over the years that we are in fact a robust, strong region that will always strive to get ‘back on our feet,’ this isn’t helped by national media, members of government and shameful ‘reality tv’ shows that paint us as deprived, unemployed and the founders of ‘benefits Britain.’

With recent setbacks from SSI, Tata Steel and Adelie still fresh in our mind, levels of unemployment, deprivation and poverty have increased, the effect of which on our community is far from positive.

At Publicity Seekers we are lucky enough to work with a group of clients, extremely passionate about their surroundings and with enormous pride in the Tees Valley. However one thing we hear time and again is about the effect of our region’s negative outlook has on the aspirations of our children and our community.

To counteract this, we’re bringing together four of our business leaders for a panel debate looking at ‘Building a Thriving North East’ and the issues that need addressing within our community to be able to do that.

We already have 20 business leaders attending but have room for 5 more. If you would like to attend on Wednesday August 2 from 8:30am – 10am please get in touch with mlamb@publicityseekers.co.uk.

The panel consists of the following:

Alby Pattison

MD of Hart Biologicals

Most recently awarded Freedom of the Borough by Hartlepool Borough Council, Alby Pattison sits at the head of Hart Biologicals, a specialist medical company that creates life-saving medical equipment and exports to 39 companies worldwide.

Part of Alby’s success comes from his endless contributions to the community. A key supporter of the apprenticeship scheme, Alby employs from within the town and takes in several new students each year. He is a supporter of many local charities, a governor at Manor School and STEM ambassador regularly visiting colleges and universities to speak about the importance of science and value of it as a career.

Kevin Byrne

MD of Seymour Civil Engineering

Hartlepool’s Business Leader of the Year 2017, Kevin Byrne sits at the helm of Seymour Civil Engineering, a record-breaking £35m-turnover business which carries out urban renewal projects, restoration and development work and drainage works across the North East and Yorkshire. The company has saved hundreds of North East homes through its vital flood alleviation work, most notably its award-winning work on the sea defences between Hartlepool and Seaton.

Kevin is a keen supporter of apprenticeships and takes on several each year from Hartlepool College of Further Education. He is committed to bringing young people into the business to grow and develop and most recently sent two of his younger staff to complete university degrees at Northumbria University funded by the company.

Andy Steel

Assistant Principal of Hartlepool College of Further Education

The North’s number one apprenticeship provider, Hartlepool College of Further Education, is renowned with businesses and students alike for its high quality apprenticeships, people development and connections to some of the greatest businesses in the North East.

Andy Steel leads the College’s business development and recruitment strategy, focusing on apprenticeships, adult skills and commercial partnerships. Outside of the college Andy is the Chair of AdAstra Trust and the Hartlepool Business Forum, organising the Hartlepool Business Awards each year for the town.

Jayne Moules

Strategic Development Manager at Changing Futures NE

Changing Futures North East has been supporting local children and families since 1997 through mediation services, mentorships, community support and independent visitors. Over the last year alone, the charity has helped over 420 children and 237 parents in the Tees Valley and since 2013 its mentoring project has helped around 100 children and young people develop their social and emotional well-being skills.

Jayne Moules has worked to co-ordinate a number of significant family support programmes across the North East including delivery of the Troubled Family

Programme and also in aiding the roll-out of Sure-Start Centres. At Changing Futures, Jayne is working to engage key stakeholders in creating a family relationship-focussed hub within Hartlepool.

The event runs as follows:

Wednesday 2nd August at Hartlepool College of Further Education

8:30am – Coffee

9:00am – Talk and panel

10:00am – Event close

What is the ROI of a Press Release?

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In the PR industry, I think there’s one thing we’re never going to stop doing, proving the worth of what we do.

But that’s a lot more difficult than it sounds.

Gone are the days when a simple Advertising Equivalent Value (AEV) could give our clients peace of mind, that they were definitely getting their money’s worth. Nowadays, we’re left counting cuttings and trying to calculate the real business value of a double-page spread.

How do you measure raising awareness? We can look at circulation figures and readership, site visits and page views. But how do we know those people actually read about our client’s latest venture from start to finish.

How do you measure changing opinion? We can look at comments on social media and listen to what those around us say, but do we really know if someone on the opposite side of the world has read your article and changed their opinion because of it?

The answer is we don’t, but of course all is not lost.

What we do have is feedback and that is something along with all the traditional methods we value above all else. Has our press release resulted in a new business lead for you? Did you walk into a sales meeting or introduction to a potential customer and were known instantly because of your press coverage?

We build credibility and trust and the only way to verify that is through our clients that we’re building it for. Sometimes one phone call or one new business connection can make a real positive impact and fund the value of the whole press release itself.

There’s also the element of what you do with that press release and how far you really push it. In the past we’ve secured extra business for our clients by using case study coverage to tweet potential customers, sent out direct e-mail marketing using online links to positive case studies and also created sales documents to be sent directly to client databases.

All of the above are much more measurable and easier to pinpoint where the enquiry came from.

But that brings us back to our old trusty press release. What really is your Return on Investment? My advice, try it and let me know what it does for your business.

Publicity Seekers is offering an exclusive PR Taster Package, to find out more contact Katy on 07789445508 or e-mail kmoody@publicityseekers.co.uk

What goes on behind the scenes of a PR agency?

It isn’t just all Ab Fab champagne and launches, believe me working in a busy PR agency is quite far from glamorous. (But don’t get me wrong there’s never a dull moment!)

The most difficult task I ever come up against in daily conversations is explaining exactly what Publicity Seekers do. In the early ‘nouteens’ (can I coin that phrase?) we were still very much a media based agency. Newspapers and magazines were our bread and butter and our results were measured on advertising equivalents and cuttings numbers.

But then the digital age struck and as more and more people adapted, we were given even more opportunities to reach our client’s target markets from newsletters and social media to online publications, forums and communities.

Google and web traffic became much more important to our clients and we had to find a way to adapt our skills in content marketing and SEO too.

We work across a very diverse range of industries including construction, engineering, manufacturing, finance, law, retail and so many more, plus a range of one-off projects such as launches or events.

Business to business is what we specialise in but that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s all we do. Arena tours, restaurants and crowdfunding projects we have all excelled in and packed out thousands at events across the country.

So what’s a day in our office like? To the sound of Absolute 00’s (Radio one when I’m in control) we all begin to arrive from 7am. E-mails are checked, social media posts and accounts are monitored and we begin to get a rough idea of our day ahead.

Of course in this industry one phonecall can change the entire course of any day so making sure you get through as much as you can while you have precious office time is crucial.

From there the days goes on to client meetings and quarterly reports, where we present our work delivered over the last three months and begin planning on the direction in which we take the next three.

Action plans updated, e-mails answered, we then start putting work into motion, arranging photographs, interviews and speaking to journalists to find out what they’re working on.

Newsletters scheduled, Facebook posts perfected, approval comes through on a feature from a client, so we send it through to the journalist and give them a call to see if they need anything else.

Website content updated, traffic monitored, we filter client marketing offers and send through the select few we think will be of benefit to run alongside our campaigns.

Photographs edited, video content uploaded, we start on our mountain of award submissions for the upcoming Business Awards, of which we have a very good track record.

Around 6pm most of our days will finish, but that of course doesn’t end our work, if we’re not attending an event or working late, we’re constantly watching the news, keeping up on Twitter and listening out for any opportunities for our clients.

If you think PR could be of benefit to your business contact me on 07789445508 or e-mail kmoody@publicityseekers.co.uk

Westminster

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ONE of the best things about working in PR is the fact that no two days are the same.

With clients in a variety of sectors ranging from construction to education, the team here at Publicity Seekers has a varied workload when it comes to dealing with the people we look after.

This week proved no exception, and I had the pleasure of accompanying one of our clients on a trip to London for a meeting to discuss what could be some exciting news in the steel sector.

The future of UK steel is a hot topic at the moment, with some uncertainty over steelmaking after economic issues across the globe had a knock-on effect back home – not least here in Teesside where generations have proudly worked in the mills for more than 100 years.

Our meeting wasn’t directly linked to the ongoing issues, but as we walked into the vast hall at Westminster it was the main topic of conversation as a MPs from both sides of the House debated the best steps to take to ensure steel has a future.

As I said, being versatile in this job is par for the course so this wasn’t the first time we’ve been required to join a client on a trip through the capital’s corridors of power.

Meetings of this nature take some organising, but the constant stream of emails and phone calls to the offices of MPs are always worthwhile when you can get an audience with the decision-makers on behalf of your client.

There’s always something special about Westminster, it’s almost as if you can feel the history as soon as you walk through the splendid entrance into the main hall.

You can feel the anticipation as you turn the corner past Westminster Abbey and head up towards Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, but as tempting as it was to whip the iPhone out and grab a selfie just like the throng of tourists outside, I quickly remembered I was there to work.
Once you get through security, a lengthy task in itself for obvious reasons, paintings adorn the walls and imposing stone busts of former political greats are dotted about throughout.

A chatty security guard was telling an excited group of tourists how Henry VIII had played tennis in the Great Hall where they stood. Whether that’s true or not might be a job for Google, but if walls could talk then that place would certainly have some tales to tell.

With time to kill prior to our meeting, there was enough time to take in the formality of the debate which raged across the House.

Perched high above the benches in the public gallery, you get a bird’s eye view of proceedings as rows of politicians battle to have their say.

It all looks so familiar, those green seats, the speaker perched at the top trying to keep order, and while we see he same sights on the TV each night, it’s hard not to think back to some of the figures who have graced those benches – no matter which side of the hall your political allegiances lie.

We’ve all seen David Cameron, Tony Blair before him. Think back to when the Iron Lady ruled the roost, rewind back to Churchill.

The place doesn’t look as though it’s changed, there’s obviously been a lick of paint here and there and there are a few plasma TVs dotted around to keep people up to date with the news, but apart from that I’m confident any of our former illustrious leaders from bygone days would still be able to navigate their way around the corridors without the need for a SatNav.

As for our meeting, everything went well. We met the people we wanted to meet, and it was all very positive. PR’s not about cloak and dagger meetings but giving good organisations a voice, helping get great projects off the ground and communicating with our clients’ intended audiences on their behalf. In this instance politicians.

It won’t be long before we’re back in Westminster for another round of meetings, and hopefully there will be good news all round.
Not just for our client, but for the whole of the steel sector in general.