Monthly Archives: September 2015

Bake a Cake, for Charity’s Sake!

Every year since 1990, Macmillan has been holding national coffee mornings where people are invited to get together, bake and raise money to support those facing cancer.

This month, we decided to join in and host our very own Macmillan coffee morning. There was much excitement and anticipation amongst the team as cake never lasts long in our office!

The whole team pledged to have a go at whipping up a sweet or savoury treat for the day and the results were incredible….

The Acceleris office has a lot of closet bakers!

The Acceleris office has a lot of closet bakers!

Who knew how many secret bakers we had in our midst!

We invited local suppliers and clients to the event which provided a great opportunity for an informal catch up and also to show off our new games room, complete with pool table, table tennis and even a dart board.

Cake in hand, and a couple of rounds of darts and we were all having a great time. As a PR agency creativity is obviously key to what we do and the games room not only allows us to relax, but is also a great way to get the creative juices flowing. Just some suggestions for our new brainstorming nook include idea ping pong – batting strategies back and forth, both metaphorically as well as physically – who knows what future campaigns will be born out of this room!
Games Room 1

Given the popularity of everyone’s favourite Wednesday show, The Great British Bake Off, there was inevitably going to be a competitive side to proceedings at Acceleris. All the homemade fare on offer was sampled by our independent judge – our Chairman, Nigel Howes – who announced the sweet and savoury star bakers. In his words, “It was a very tough call” but there could only be one winner in each category. Account Executive, Dan, took the gold star in savoury with his wonderful sausage rolls, and Company Secretary, Alison, struck gold in the sweet with her plum and almond cake.

Some of the treats on the judge's plate!

Some of the treats on the judge’s plate!

The main aim of the day was to raise money for a fantastic cause, and in the spirit of Macmillan Coffee Mornings, to have a little fun doing it.

So, drum roll please… so far we have raised £366.98 (and counting)! A big thank you goes out to all of our clients and suppliers who generously donated, and also to everyone at the agency for their hard work and kindness.
Montage

Supporting charitable pursuits is something which is close to all our hearts at Acceleris and as an agency we have worked with a number of third sector groups, including maritime charities The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, Seafarers UK and The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, Leeds based children’s cancer charity Candlelighters, The Prince’s Trust and The Children’s Heart Surgery Fund. For more information on the services we provide, please visit our website http://www.acceleris-mc.com.

Why it’s so important to get a rebrand right

Rebranding is all about establishing a new, uniform identity – to refresh and unite a business or to signal a new direction for a company.

But when Haringey Council’s rebrand was unveiled this week, it was met with backlash online, with residents and locals labelling it childish and a waste of money.

Just so you know, this is the new logo devised by Haringey Council…

BS1995_Haringey_TapeType_RED_RGB (002).jpg-pwrt3

… which was met by a few tweets from disgruntled residents…

haringeytweet1

haringeytweet2

Local newspaper The Haringey Independent got in on the act, running an online poll to find out readers’ views – where more than 50 per cent of visitors branded the logo ‘terrible’.

haringeyvote

At a time when councils and local authorities are feeling the pinch from the Summer Budget and are having services stretched, many are calling out Haringey Council for wasting money on a rebrand. Yet rebrands are a part of a wider campaign – in this case to attract people to the borough, boosting the local economy and ultimately generating a greater income for the council.

Out of context, the logo may not inspire, but as part of a wider campaign, supported by video and an online campaign (#IminHaringey) to encourage people to take pride in their community, the message is one of unity and Haringey being a place to be proud of. The image was leaked to the media ahead of its launch, so the council was unable to control the aim and reason behind the campaign and the logo itself.

Remember the 2012 Olympic logo? There was outrage and indignation online when it was first launched, but as soon as the OIympics started, it was touted as a symbol of national pride.

olympics

Here at Acceleris we’ve worked on a range of rebrand projects, from the UK’s leading fabricated steelwork company Severfield to an innovative new housing model, Rentplus. With all our projects, we work hard to really understand a company’s ethos and identity and establish a brand that fits a business’s visions and values.

You can’t always rely on everyone to like a logo – we’ve had a few arguments amongst ourselves when brainstorming ideas – but at the end of the day, it’s about the wider message it sends, and #IminHaringey is an important campaign for a borough that has seen some tough times.

Want brilliant PR exposure? Just Make It Snappy…

A picture paints a thousand words. With Instagram now racking up 75 million users every day, 100 million people pinning on Pinterest, and social media platforms like Facebook weighting its EdgeRank on photo content, anyone can see why strong photography is as important with the digital media generation as it was in the sooty fingered days of print.

Images rule both traditional and social media. We all love visuals, and the stats back this up. Pinterest is second only to Facebook in driving referral traffic to websites. Tweets with photos get 35 percent more retweets on average. I could go on…

Remade

Remade in Britain

Harnessing a strong creative image to tell a story and engage interest from attention poor audiences is something we’re well versed in at Acceleris. Recent examples include creating a room in a skip at one of the UK’s busiest recycling sites to launch upcycling website Remade in Britain (a shot used over 280 times in on and offline media titles from The Daily Telegraph to The Observer, Guardian, Metro and Good Housekeeping) to securing phenomenal mainstream coverage in every national news title for the Shipwrecked Mariners photography competition, depicting our turbulent dependence on the sea.

shipwrecked

Entry for Shipwrecked Mariners’ photography competition

Good imagery commands space, generates awareness, promotes debate and fuels engagement. So with this in mind, here are my top five PR images from the last week:

  1. You will have been hard pushed to avoid the start of the Rugby World Cup this week – an opportunity Cardiff Council tackled by embedding a giant rugby ball in the wall of Cardiff Castle. Within hours of the picture emerging, Cardiff Castle and #ballinthewall were trending UK wide with the stunt being heralded as the most iconic image of the tournament so far.  A cool tactic that’s given Cardiff Castle recognition not just in the UK, but across the globe.

cardiff

  1. There’s only one thing better than cute babies and cute animals to put picture desks into over drive – and that’s cute baby animals. A fact seized on this week when Mr Kipling created a ‘mammoth’ first birthday cake for Sam – Whipsnade Zoo’s baby Asian elephant. The picture secured national exposure with a hay and banana topped cake which was a thankfully a tad larger than the brand’s usual offerings.

elephant

  1. Vauxhall Motors tapped into a spot of national pride with this shot designed to celebrate more than 36 years of its iconic British-built Astra. Workers at Vauxhall’s Cheshire Ellesmere Port plant created the union flag using 128 of the new 7th generation Astras. Although not the most creative example in the list – aerial shots of cars make an appearance almost as often as Clarkson’s right hook – you can always rely on a spot of patriotism to fuel some ‘Astra-nomical’ coverage.

astra

  1. Unsurprisingly, back to Rugby. The NHS scored a try with its heart-warming #bleedforengland campaign in which it recruited England legends Jonny Wilkinson, Martin Johnson and Ben Kay to donate blood, urging others to do the same. The blood of the rugby aces was mixed with paint to create unique images of the English Rose, used as part of this shot as well as in a supporting video. Both have seen massive engagement across media.

blood

  1. Last but by no means least – any blog this week wouldn’t be complete without reference to #piggate and the fact once again brand saboteurs and creatives across the country have seized on this for some clever and irreverent marketing. My favourite is this tweeted image via the School of Communications Arts…all in the best possible taste.

colmans

What’s in a name, love?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.”

In the week a Yorkshire based care home made headlines by being accused of “demeaning” its residents by calling them colloquial terms such as “love” or “darling”, I am reminded of the above quote from Romeo and Juliet which made me wonder – how much power is held in a name, and do we need to be mindful of this?

Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) clearly believe names have the propensity to cause offence as they marked down the Brackenley residential home in a report, partly because they felt the terms staff used to address people with learning disabilities in their care could potentially be construed as “patronising”.

Stephanie Kirkman Meikle, chief executive of Harrogate Skills 4 Living, which runs Brackenley, expressed surprise by this finding and insisted they would not ban staff using these affectionate terms.

The Yorkshire dialect can often be a culture shock for people!

The Yorkshire dialect can often be a culture shock for people!

“Some residents have their own terms of endearment that they asked to be called. One likes to be known as Parsnip because that’s what she is known as in her family, so that’s what we call her,” she said.

“We always discuss these things with residents and it is in their care plans. We would never call someone something they don’t want.”

This incident highlights how language, even in its most innocent form, can potentially impact on how organisations are perceived and can divide opinion.

An online poll on itv.com found 89.9% of people who voted agreed with the care home and did not find the terms “love”, “darling” and “sweetie” demeaning. The majority of online news outlets also reported in favour of the care home and this incident was largely seen as another example of political correctness gone mad.

Dr Barrie M Rhodes, a linguist and member of the Yorkshire Dialect Society, told The Telegraph: “The use of the word love is part of our heritage – God knows how many centuries it has been going on but a very long time. Why anybody in an inspectorate would bother to get their hackles up about anything like that I’ve no idea.”

As this is not the first time Yorkshire dialect has come under attack, it’s understandable that Dr Barrie was keen to defend his local tongue. Last April, a similar furore was caused when Tour de France guides in Yorkshire were banned from using certain greetings during their day-to-day role. Again, “love” and “darling” arose as possibly offensive terms. At the time, Sir Michael Parkinson, born in South Yorkshire, labelled the decision “daft” and went as far as to say the word “love” is what “Yorkshire is all about”.

I have recently relocated to North Yorkshire from London to join Acceleris and although there is the initial culture shock of being surrounded by a different accent than I’m accustomed to, I am quite endeared with the local terms up North. This, of course, could be attributed to the novelty factor involved – down in ‘Sarf’ London, I was regularly referred to as “mate” but rarely heard “love”. In both cases, I was aware that these throwaway terms hurled at me were not intended to cause upset.

It seems likely that problems with language occur when names are deliberately intended to patronise. David Cameron’s infamous “calm down, dear” gaffe is a lesson in how words take on a certain meaning depending on the situation and tone they’re expressed in. The most sensible approach to interacting with others is to use common sense. David Cameron could have avoided this PR blunder by making a better judgement call on what would be deemed acceptable in those circumstances.

At Writers Inc. we understand how crucial it is to get your language right. We are content and editorial specialists who understand how to convey your message in the best light.
Above all, it appears reasonable to try to always consider the context in which you’re speaking and, failing that, remember that words are subjective, love.

Barcelona

No, we’re not promoting George Ezra’s latest croonings, Lionel Messi’s latest exploits, or the tourists’ favourite city with a beach. The Barcelona Principles – the cross-industry framework for best practice in PR measurement and evaluation – have been updated for the first time since their introduction in 2010. So, what’s new?

The main change to the Barcelona Principles is the aim to professionalise the broader communications function, so making the case for applying them to measure your success whether you communicate on behalf of brands, the government or a large corporation.

A big shift is a move away from campaign results to overall organisational performance, so extending measurement of advocacy for example, recognising that the ‘PR channel does not exist in a silo’. Also, an emphasis on the value of a transparent and honest qualitative analysis that translates results into something meaningful and useful, recognising that assuming all results will be positive is wrong. This is the Holy Grail – a genuine ability to look beyond the thrill of securing coverage to appreciate the nuanced implications of position, placement, emphasis and context.

Having been in-house for most of the past decade, it was with more excitement than most that I approached the monthly coverage reports for our clients, now I’m agency side in the omni-channel era. Being with an agency where Prezi is standard and the management style is a pleasing balance of creative and corporate, I was interested to see what the preferred methodology was, having been on the receiving end of a really diverse range of insight from agency partners in the past.

For one of our clients here at Acceleris, we’d done a fantastic job in securing additional followers on Twitter. We’d boosted their followers by around 700% daily for a week, which as a start was a great statistic, but what did that actually mean? Would they buy the product? Share our news with their friends? Say good things about us? What is the value of each of these to the client? Gradually we developed different approaches to work on these sticky points of Twitter contact to deepen engagement and learn about customers. This approach is working, but is proving complicated to translate in digestible report form, particularly in the age of micro communications with individuals.

Measuring success is crucial for PR to justify its value

Measuring success is crucial for PR to justify its value

Does how quickly someone responds to a Tweet matter? If we run a competition and have a conversation with a customer, do our number of interactions matter? Will we remember a specific customer on Twitter in months to come when they contact us again?

A Prezi is now under development to provide our client with a very visual moving feast to spark conversations and questions about the campaign, as we find the need to move back and forth between elements of a campaign with the same content often playing a different role in highlighting different metrics.

What has been most refreshing at Acceleris is that each approach is client specific. So we have clients running competitions for whom all the Twitter metrics come second to the number of entries.

We have social savvy clients for whom followers are all. And headline hungry national news clients for whom achieving a day of broadcast media coverage is essential to success.

One thing is for certain. It has never been more difficult for communicators to share the value of their work given the explosion in channel diversity and the sophistication of today’s connected populous.  Any means to manage and clarify meaningful ways to demonstrate our achievements to clients are essential.

For the full article on PR Week, click here.