Category: Blog

P.S….Friday November 23

Is it Friday already?! Apparently so – and that means it’s time for week two of our P.S… feature where we pick out tips, tricks and things that generally help make life in PR that little bit easier (except wine).

My quick video talks about a service called JournoRequests which started life as a hashtag on Twitter.

If you do a quick search of the hashtag you can see some of the weird and wonderful things that are being written about that journalists may need a helping hand with – anything from finding a white witch to feature in a national mag through to needing an expert financier to talk about the finer points of, erm, finance-y stuff.

There is now, helpfully, a website on which you can sign up to daily alerts delivered to your inbox.

The requests are collated into sectors – such as property, education and entertainment. And hopefully a quick scan will reveal if there is anything you can jump on behalf of your client.

Anyhow I’ll stop wittering on…you can (hopefully) learn more in the video below.

Good luck! And do let us know if you have any success with it in the comments below.

P.S… Friday 16 November 2018

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

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

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

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

 

Sober October: Why I’m setting myself regular challenges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matt adds gloss to career with Internship

Hi there. My name is Matthew Windram and I’m the new intern here at Publicity Seekers. I am a 19-year-old, full time student at the Northern School of Art, studying graphic design.

I have been with the team for a little over two months now and I can safely say that I am enjoying every working moment both in and out of the office.

I am constantly provided with new opportunities and tasks, which require a little more than just sitting at a desk, and that’s something that I love.

Meeting the team for the first time, I felt instantly welcomed, greeted with a room full of smiling faces and the beautiful sound of smooth radio playing in the background.

The nerves that I had felt prior to walking into the room, were quickly quashed as I sank into the office sofa.

My first piece of work was gathering research for an up and coming website called Hype Hunter being developed by the team. This task consisted primarily of searching the internet for new and interesting news stories that would be of interest to websites target audience.

As time went by, I was being tasked with larger jobs and soon found myself producing work that would be used for active clients.

I really enjoyed doing these sort of tasks, as they usually required me to produce a piece of digital media such as a promotional video, or infographic.

Completing work for clients also meant that I had to travel to locations outside of the office, to help other members of the team with filming.

Some projects that I helped film include the construction of new homes at Wynyard Park and Fresher’s Week at Hartlepool College of Further Education.

I particularly enjoy these tasks, as I spend a lot of my free time making videos and taking photographs of whatever catches my eye.

The fact that I can apply the knowledge and passion that I have for photography within my work here at Publicity Seekers is an added bonus.

As each week passes, I continue to learn new software and writing skills, as well as improving upon my time efficiency.

I am really grateful that I am able to work alongside the team on a weekly basis and I hope that I am able to continue my work experience here until the team gets sick of me.

I would highly encourage anyone to seek out work experience, especially in an industry that will benefit your future career.

The knowledge and understanding that I have gained here at Publicity Seekers continuously helps me on a daily basis with my work for University and I’ve loved every minute.

Why events make brutally good PR

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Build Up

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

The Guest List

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

Star?

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

The Press

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

The Aftermath

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

Now crack on with that planning!

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. 

Why we’re giving you a press release and coverage for £250

Okay, first things first, if you’re not reading this in August. You’re too late, the deal’s off.

For this month and this month only, we’ve completely halved our prices. I’ve blogged before about how sick we are of the North East not promoting itself (click here) so this month we thought we’d take action and try to coax those businesses that are still hiding away, to come forward and tell the region about their successes.

For £250 (+vat) you’ll get a brilliant member of our team (hint: they’re all brilliant) to either give you a call or come along to your offices, hold a full interview about you and your business, then write it up and send it back through for you to read over and make any small amendments.

But that’s not even the end of it. After that we’ll do a full send-out to the region’s top business reporters, guaranteeing you coverage in at least three media outlets.

Now let me prepare for the excuses.

I don’t have anything to talk about.

Everyone has something to talk about. Here is just the tip of the iceberg of potential stories you could be talking about.

  • New staff appointments or apprenticeships.
  • Contract wins or successful partnerships.
  • Business milestones. (Have you sold 100 of something or is it your business anniversary?)
  • Raising money for charity or having a great CSR campaign you should be sharing.
  • Or simply chatting about your services, what you sell or some great work you’ve done.

It’ll make no difference to my business.

  • 90% of business owners look online before engaging with a new business. If your online search results contain positive news stories, they’re far more likely to engage with you.
  • Businesses risk losing 22% of business when potential customers find one negative on the first page of their search results. This can easily be counteracted by positive news stories, particularly from well-respected independent journalists.
  • If you’re trying to recruit. Tell people about it, you’ll see applicant numbers increase instantly.

Press is dead

  • 56% of consumers find traditional media to be the most trustworthy form of marketing – whether they read it online or in print.
  • Our regional business magazines and publications are still reaching over 100,000 professionals each day.
  • All of this is not even counting the social media influence these publications have and your story reaching even further on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
  • And of course there’s always a great professional story to put up on your website to keep it fresh and up-to-date.

 

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.

How Gareth Southgate hit the back of the PR net

It’s time for me to eat my words, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this, I was originally underwhelmed with the appointment of Gareth Southgate as England manager back in November 2016.

Following the sacking of Sam Allardyce as England boss, I felt that Southgate was seen as a safe option from the FA. I thought they’d want a bland yes man following Allardyce’s short but controversial stint to avoid any future bad PR and with Southgate, I thought they’d got it.

Skip forward to the summer of 2018 and Southgate has completely shrugged off that boring, dull, ‘yes man’ persona and I’ve joined the masses in the It’s Coming Home mood that’s sweeping the nation. He’s even now seen as a fashion guru – Marks & Spencer have sold out of waistcoats that the England boss has styled during the tournament.

Social media is awash with posts about Southgate, including a hashtag of #GarethSouthgateWould where Twitter users have made humorous remarks about what an excellent bloke Southgate is. Twitter has been huge during this tournament and social media has never been so kind towards an England manager.

But how and why has this change in reputation for Southgate happened?

PR is all about managing and enhancing reputations and it’s fair to say that The FA’s communication team have played an absolute blinder this tournament compared to previous years.

There has been the openness allowed with Southgate and his players to the press. Former players and managers were often reluctant to talk to the press and open up. As a result, they were seen as out-of-touch and too pampered – the same cannot be said for Southgate or his players.

Before the tournament, Southgate received praise when he was asked about the prospect of the racism his England team may face in Russia.

While many would have just given a stock answer or the standard ‘no comment’, Southgate said: “We keep pointing the finger at Russia on racism, but we’ve got to get our own house in order. I can give you an example. I had a really interesting couple of hours with Troy Townsend a couple of weeks ago, speaking to our coaches.

He showed a picture of our Under-16s on social media. The comments about that team were disgusting. They’re part of our England family.” It was clear from this point that Southgate wasn’t just going to be some bland yes man.

In Euro 2016, back when England were managed by Roy Hodgson, Joe Hart refused to talk about their own darts tournament to the media.

At this World Cup, however, the press took part in a Media v Players darts game. Now, that may not seem like a big deal, but it allowed the press to get the know the players and Southgate up close and personal. John Cross from The Mirror went to say, after the darts game, that Gareth Southgate is a breath of fresh air. A simple but effective PR tactic.

As well as the darts game, The FA had a PR tactic of hosting a Superbowl style interview where all players were in separate booths available for interview in a media day where there were no rules about which questions couldn’t be asked. This allowed the players to come across as more humanised and Southgate is no exception to that either.

The changing relationship between the England manager and the press is a welcomed change. After all, who could forget Fabio Capello confronting and shouting at photographers and cameramen at the 2010 World Cup?

Or when the hapless Steve McClaren answered only two questions in a post-match press conference and then said to the media: “Gentlemen, if you want to write whatever you want to write, you can write it because that is all I am going to say. Thank you,” before walking out?

As previously stated about the #GarethSouthgateWould hashtag, people are very quick to talk about what a likeable bloke Southgate is in a sport filled with big characters and even bigger egos. Southgate infamously missed his penalty in the shootout against Germany in Euro 96, when England defeated Colombia on penalties in this tournament, Southgate was quick to console the Colombian player who missed the vital penalty. A genuine class act that was photographed and published in newspapers around the world.

And when others lost their head over the England team sheet being leaked in the press, Southgate kept his cool. Instead of slating the press, like others were (myself included), the England boss said that “it didn’t bother him the slightest”, keeping both his positive relationship with the press and his nice guy persona intact. Win-win.

The team that was leaked was for the game against Panama, which England won 6-1 to secure their place in the Round of 16. The Round of 16 game saw England win their first ever penalty shootout at a World Cup, which confirmed their place in the quarters which saw England see past Sweden whom they had never before defeated in an international tournament.

The semi-finals now beckon, the best that England have performed in a World Cup since 1990. National pride is at a high, Southgate is adorned back home by the English public who are daring to dream of the side bringing football home.

And what if Southgate and co. do bring it home and end all those years of hurt? Well, odds have been slashed for Gareth to receive a knighthood and you certainly wouldn’t bet against it!

What does the North v South divide mean for business?

“No, never heard of it. Where’s that?” was the typical response upon telling my new colleagues where I’d moved from when starting my new job in Guildford. Maybe Hartlepool itself needs better PR? I’ve heard rumours that there’s a pretty good PR firm in the town…

In early 2016, I made the switch from the North to the South purely for work. It was a job I wanted but the only department offices they had were in Guildford, Cologne, Vancouver and Sydney – to name a few. But as nice as the latter sounds, it was going to have to be the 282 mile journey South to Guildford.

It may be a cliché but it is so much cheaper up North

When I moved down South, I found that my new life was going to be expensive but I knew what I was getting myself into, I worked that out even before I even moved. Getting a return train, even with a railcard and in advance, can set you back over £100 and that’s not even considering staying overnight in a hotel before the interview. That’s a fairly high price to pay, should you not even get the job.

Fortunately, I did and while living like a real life Alan Partridge in a B&B, I managed to find myself a flat – albeit at a high price. I won’t disclose figures but I’m paying far, far less in rent for a far more spacious flat in Sunderland, so you’ve got to wonder what I could’ve got for the same money in the North-East. Speaking to one or two friends of mine who also moved to London for work, I certainly wasn’t alone in losing money in the relocation process.

This has to be one of the biggest downsides for businesses based in the South. Due to the high cost of living businesses need to offer higher wages to their employees. According to the BBC, as of May 2018, the highest average full time wage comes unsurprisingly from London at £727. Nearby towns Reading and Crawley sit just behind in second and third respectively. Middlesbrough’s average on the other hand is is £477 – that’s a difference of £250, and Sunderland’s average is only slightly more at £484.

If more large corporations were to relocate to the North it would help prevent young graduates from the region taking on the pricey job of relocating. Saying that I did notice that on the office floor in Guildford I was the one from the furthest North, which suggests that maybe not as many people are feeling the need to make the shift as there once was. “Yeah, you don’t sound like you’re from around here,” which is fair enough, I didn’t exactly gain a Surrey accent.

Another cliché coming up, but it is brutally honest to say that the people up North are far more friendly and chatty.

There were sometimes scenarios where I was, where you’d work in silence for hours, unless someone mentioned if you fancied getting a drink. Skype was our place’s preferred method of communication, which is fair enough when you’re talking (sorry, typing) to someone on another floor but people who were sat opposite to you would send you a short message to confirm something which I thought was a bit odd!

EE have seen the benefit of moving up North. In 2017, they created an additional 250 jobs at their call centre in Darlington. They put down one of the reasons as that people prefer hearing the North-East accent on the phone, which is why the company initially re-shored their services from abroad. This is as well as the companies’ CEO praising the positive personalities, attitude and digital skills that he found in the North-East. Those could also be seen as the reason as to why big firms such as Npower, EDF Energy and Barclays all have call centres based in the North-East.

Being Northern does great things for your reputation

Some businesses build their brand based on their location to great effect. This is because it gives off a sense of community and looks as though they’re proud of their work within the area, allowing for a better connection between them and their location consumers and all round better reputation.

One such company is broadband provider Plusnet who are based in Sheffield. They launched their marketing campaign around being from Yorkshire. Their adverts have been based around northern stereotypes and they have their strapline as “good honest broadband from Yorkshire”, as well as having sponsored the Yorkshire Marathon and Sheffield Wednesday FC.

Warburtons have used their Lancashire roots to good effect in recent adverts. They have featured in both Bolton and Blackburn with one ad seeing Bolton comic Peter Kay having a slice of the action. The advert, parodying Pride and Prejudice, raises a toast to Kay’s work (making garlic bread and John Smith’s references) as well as reaffirming Warburton’s stance as a family brand. The advert went onto receive positive feedback.

Yet the issues the North faces are clear…

The South undoubtedly gets more attention

It’s no secret that there’s significantly more investment made down south. A study in 2017 showed that more than half of UK investment in transport is in London; in 2016-17 the North-East received the lowest amount of money for transport spending, after Yorkshire and the Humber. Even more recently is the plans to build a third runway at Heathrow airport, leaving behind Durham Tees Valley airport and Newcastle Airport.

Speaking of being left behind, just look at Teesport. It’s the deepest port in the UK and has the advantages of good transport links with a nearby airport and main roads, along with the cheap land around it. Despite this, it isn’t currently being fully utilised showing that is an untapped market. The busiest container port in the UK is The Port of Felixstowe, in Suffolk, which deals with 42% of Britain’s containerised trade. The busiest cruise terminal in the UK, is also down south, at the Port of Southampton.

Is the tide starting to change?

In June 2018, Tees Valley Combined Authority agreed £30.5million in funding for adult education in the region. This is to try and bring new jobs to the area through training people to fill these roles with local businesses and therefore, possibly stop trained people relocating to the South. A win-win.

I’m graduating from a Master’s degree later this year (touch wood!) and while I’m keeping my options open, as you never know what your personal situation will be (I did consider moving abroad after graduating from my undergrad degree and it’s something I’m still considering), it’s fair to say that I’m happy being back in the North-East.

Having lived both up North and down South, there’s nothing to suggest that it’s grim up North but as it stands the South is still winning hands down for its business opportunities. London is still seen as the place to be, and a big fear for businesses may be missing out by not having a base amongst the big city lights. But with the BBC’s MediaCity moving to Salford and with plans for Channel 4 to move its offices out of London, either up North or in to Scotland, hopefully the tide will begin to turn.

And, on a final note, I noticed in Guildford that the 24 hour Subway had a bouncer outside during the night. The 24 hour Greggs in Newcastle, on the other hand, has a bouncer and if that doesn’t sum up the North/South divide then I don’t know what will!