Acceleris

Storytelling at CommsCon 2018

The team recently attended Cision’s CommsCon 2018. This is the first in a short series of blogs discussing what we discovered.

 

Storytelling at CommsCon 2018

Cision’s inaugural UK CommsCon event was described by Steven Waddington as “more like an Adobe, Microsoft or Salesforce event than a public relations gig”. The communications software behemoth drew close to 1,000 delegates to London’s Canada Water last week and we were in attendance to see how new ideas and approaches from across the pond are impacting the world of communications.

Telling Tales

The morning consisted of a welcome address from Cision CEO Kevin Akeroyd and CMO Chris Lynch giving their views on the changes happening within the media world, setting the tone for the first -and in our opinion, the highlight of the morning – panel discussion.

Industry leaders from Virgin, Adobe, Wings Creative Leadership and HSBC provided an insight to some of their past campaigns and the stories that went along with them.

Source: Katie Watts, Acting Senior Press Officer at Money Saving Expert

One of the key learnings was the need to integrate communications campaigns and eliminate a siloed approach. For public relations professionals, this is particularly pertinent when crafting compelling copy that really tells the story of a brand and its journey. According to Tamara Bennett, Head of Media Relations at Virgin, 61% of brands operate siloed campaigns, which leaves us scratching our heads as to why?

Without a holistic approach to communications factoring in paid, earned, shared and owned (PESO) media, it’s difficult to maximise the reach of campaigns and even harder to measure and evaluate them.

Take our CIPR Pride gold-winning campaign for the Fishing News Awards last year. This encompassed media relations, social media and influencer engagement to name but a few tactics and helped us share the stories of maritime heroes to a wider audience than ever before.

Technological takeaways

It was clear the focus of CommsCon was very much an always-on, tech-led approach to PR and communications. Cision’s plan to disrupt the PR industry through providing technology and software as a service (SaaS) was apparent throughout and we must admit, its story was compelling.

While “changing the behaviour of public relations practitioners is our biggest challenge” according to Cision CEO Kevin Akeroyd, we must take note of the opportunities there are to enhance our offerings to clients through utilising new technologies where appropriate.

Ten years ago, social media barely existed and now it is central to most PR campaigns. By taking a truly integrated approach to PR, we can ensure we continue to tell stories and build reputations to the best of our abilities.

Making a splash for our seafarers

Louise Watson-Dowell, Senior Account Manager at Acceleris

Managing reputation and driving recognition with the Fishing News Awards

 

In 2018 you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s all doom and gloom for our coastal towns as the UK’s fishing industry faces increasing scrutiny, while Brexit debates rage on and Nigel Farage busies himself throwing dead fish in the Thames in protest of our PM’s negotiations with the EU.

 

 

 

 

Source: Sky News

Our dedicated maritime division will not be brought down in the dumps, however. In fact, owing to the increased awareness of the plight of our seafarers as we approach the deadline for an agreement with the EU, it seems this year, more than any, was worth a good old celebration of the best and the brightest fishermen and women from across our British Isles.

We’re proud to have supported the Fishing News Awards with sponsorship and communications services for the last three years, working with Fishing News to highlight those truly worthy of commendation across the UK’s fishing ports, seaside cafes, and industry suppliers.

At a ceremony in Aberdeen, held at the end of May, finalists and guests from all corners of the British Isles were welcomed to the evening and it was a privilege to see inspirational individuals and businesses recognised for their hard work and dedication in this, one of the toughest years for the industry.

Fred MacAulay – comedian and host of the 2018 Fishing News Awards

Indeed, recognition for one’s achievements is important, but in a programme in which the winners are voted for by industry peers and colleagues, the Fishing News Awards proves reputation precedes it.

Reputations don’t just happen, unfortunately – we’re not born with them, and they don’t occur naturally at the inception of a business – they must be built steadily and nurtured. Of course, a big part of building reputation is doing good work, but then an awful lot of reputation comes down to people hearing about that good work.

That means word of mouth becomes extremely important in building and supporting reputation.

And word of mouth doesn’t just mean a friend or colleague mentioning a good product or service to you – although that’s certainly part of it – it’s about recommendations from other trusted sources, like magazines, Facebook, Google, local and industry news.

To hit those platforms, you’ll want to invest in communications strategies to drive the reach of this extended type of word of mouth. Increasingly, we’re seeing communications programmes recognised as a key component for businesses tasked with raising their profiles in an increasingly competitive landscape, including in the maritime industries.

Take a look at the numbers…*

  • 1,000 customers can generate around 500,000 conversations about a brand
  • 66% of brand mentions are positive in nature, meaning word of mouth can lead to positive brand reputation
  • 50% of word of mouth recommendations are the leading factor behind a purchasing decision
  • 72% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • 84% of B2B decision makers start their process because of a referral

It’s not enough to rely on doing good work, you need to ensure there’s noise around that good work, and that it’s being heard by the right people.

When we support the Fishing News Awards, we see small and big businesses nominated as a result of their reputation. We extend the reach of that reputation, speaking to local and industry media and creating engaging content for social media platforms, talking about the nominees, their businesses and achievements. When they win, we continue to help spread the news far and wide.

Last year, our communications efforts saw us secure 149 pieces of coverage for nominees and winners across fishing industry and local press, including in print and online, and broadcast media.

  • These pieces resulted in more than 5 million opportunities to see or hear positive news about the Fishing News Awards and its nominees – equating to a return of 834 opportunities for every £1 spent
  • Nominations almost trebled on the previous year – from 180 to 492
  • Votes almost doubled – from 2,611 to 5,193
  • In the months where Acceleris was active on the Fishing News Twitter account, it doubled the average number of new followers
  • During this period, the account achieved 395,500 organic impressions

During the awards process, we recorded several spikes in Google search interest for ‘Fishing News Awards’, with the highlight a 118 per cent increase on the previous record for daily searches.

As the fishing industry continues to battle with regulation and change, it’s more important than ever to make sure your customers and potential customers know about the good work you do – it’s imperative that you build and maintain a great reputation.

If you need support boosting your brand or reigniting your reputation, get in touch by emailing info@acceleris-mc.com or give us a call on 0845 4567 251.

*https://www.business2community.com/marketing/word-mouth-marketing-incredibly-important-02017025 

ARe you ready for the next tech revolution?

By Elettra Cantore, Intern at Acceleris

Once again, technology is proving to be an essential tool for modern business.

Snapchat recently launched a new set of augmented reality (AR) features designed to encourage users to buy products directly from its app. This was among the first instances of AR being commercialised for a mass consumer audience.

AR is transforming the online shopping experience. Unlike virtual reality (VR), which creates a fully artificial world, AR integrates computer-generated information on a user’s environment in real time, thus providing a composite view. In other words, with AR, you can experience just about anything you can imagine, but in the real world.

Thanks to Apple (ARKit) and Google (ARCore), which have facilitated this change by embedding AR software into their systems, the retail, beauty and fashion industries have begun an evolution.

One of the first companies utilising this innovation has been Ikea. In collaboration with Apple, Ikea allows you to visualise how products would look, feel and fit in your home. With a scale of 98% accuracy, it provides true-to-life representations of the texture, fabric, lighting, and shadows that could make their way into your home.

Retailers have been experimenting with virtual try-ons for years; especially in the fashion industry, where tech-savvy retailers rule the roost. The first brand which launched the Dressing Room App was GAP, letting shoppers ‘try on’ clothes with no need to physically enter a store. All it needs is your height and weight and the app will develop a virtual 3D model, ready to be dressed up as you like. If you then like the way garments look on the model, the app enables you to buy products directly.

The innovation of AR is a refreshing addition to the social media and retail markets and one which brands should start taking advantage of. In Snapchat’s case, a foray into virtual reality (VR) tech proved unprofitable with only 0.08% of Snapchat users purchasing a pair of its VR goggles according to TechCrunch. AR however makes sense for Snapchat and many retailers. Without the need to invest in hardware, ecommerce companies and B2B businesses alike can facilitate a more frictionless shopping/sales process by pushing their products to consumers in new and exciting ways.

All of this is great for consumer marketing campaigns, but does it have the same implication for B2B campaigns too? The answer in short, is yes!

The tech enables a more streamlined sales process. It provides brands with alternative ways to reach audiences, whether it’s used for events, demos, training or presenting services, solutions and products.

Just like consumers, business needs to know if a product or service ‘suits’ them. AR gives brands the opportunity to let its customers ‘try things before you buy’, whether it’s equipment for the office, demonstrations of service processes to see how they work in the ‘real world’ or tour of venues for possible events. AR has just as much, if not more, relevance in a corporate environment.

Of course, AR shouldn’t be seen or treated as a standalone activity. It is not just the latest fad but nor is it a silver bullet that will fix everything in one shot. In order for it to be really successful, and deliver maximum returns, it must be part of fully integrated campaigns that provide the same user experiences throughout the customer journey.

We’re working on a number of AR campaigns for our clients which will allow them to provide greater levels of engagement for their customers. It will allow them to experience the product or services before they buy, therefore making sure they make the right purchase for their needs.

At Acceleris, we create integrated communications strategies for all our clients. If you want to have a chat about how we can use AR to really help your business … or if it’s actually just ‘reality’ you want from your communications, we do that too! Get in touch…

 

Fun in the Aisles as Supermarket Sweep Continues

Simon Brown, Account Director

Big events, sporting or otherwise, usually bring with them months or even years of build-up and speculation only for the event itself to be a bit dull and uninspiring. Not so the grocery sector that has flipped this on its head in recent years.

For the last decade, discussions in retail boardrooms and shop floors across the country have been centred on consolidation, with an unprecedented level of speculation, but no action. There was plenty of shadow boxing but no punches thrown. Rumours met with carefully worded press statements neither ruling in or out said comings together or splits (I should know having written many of these statements in a former life). This went on for years but last year we finally saw the first signs that consolidation was real and was going to happen on a big scale.

Sainsbury’s and Asda‘s proposed merger is big news, or at least it would be were it not for the activity we’ve seen in the sector over the last 18 months. There’s been more thrills and spills in the grocery market than an episode of Supermarket Sweep. The Tesco and Booker merger got the CMA’s green light, as did the Co-op’s purchase of Nisa. There’s a definite feeling that nothing can surprise us now. In fact, perhaps the most surprising thing about this announcement was Mike Coupe singing to himself while waiting to be interviewed, and of course his choice of song.

Sainsbury’s and Asda are not alone in having taken a hit from the discounters in recent years. Aldi and Lidl may have opened in the UK in the early 1990s but they really came to the fore during the credit crunch and recession when it became ‘OK’ for the masses to hunt out cheaper alternatives. Rather than one big shop, customers quickly moved to making several shopping lists and buying their groceries in a pick and mix style from multiple shops.

Sir Ken Morrison said the secret to running a successful supermarket is quite simply “taking money off people and giving them something in return” but the challenge in recent years has been how to get the customers into big supermarkets in the first place. Like the proverbial oil tanker, it has taken a long time for the ‘big four’ to turn things around and win back customers.

With these changes comes uncertainty and businesses must ensure that its diverse group of stakeholders are kept informed throughout. Employees, suppliers and customers will all be very keen to understand the finer details of this deal. Will suppliers be hammered down even more on price? Probably. Are customers concerned that their store could close? Almost certainly. Will employees be concerned about job cuts? Most definitely. The PR machines behind these big businesses will have meticulously planned their communications in minute detail to communicate as needed with these audiences. I very much doubt, however, that Sainsbury’s PRs could have guessed that the first crisis this proposed merger would throw up was to deal with the CEO’s rendition of ‘We’re in the Money’.

Working with businesses to develop and implement these multi-audience communications programmes is what we do at Acceleris & Limelight. Over the last decade our team has helped businesses navigate change, from implementing new supply chains, to merging several brands under one new brand, and successfully delivers campaigns for businesses small and large.

If you want to find out how we could help you, or to learn more of our retail expertise, email me at simonbrown@acceleris-mc.com or call me on 0845 456 7251.

Why AI can never replace a real human writer

Charley Oakes, Senior Copywriter and Editorial Project Manager

Charley Oakes, Senior Copywriter and Editorial Project Manager

A week or so ago our editorial projects division Writers Inc. tweeted a fascinating article about Reuters’ development of Lynx Insight, a new artificial intelligence (AI) tool capable of pitching story ideas and writing sentences, the aim being to save human journalists time and boost productivity.

Taken at face value, most professional writers, from journalists to copywriters like myself, would probably have sat up at this story and uttered the word: eh? (Optional extras: a shudder of horror or/and projectile tea across the room.) However, it’s important to take a step back and realise that Lynx Insight is not about replacing real reporters, but more about harnessing technology to analyse data and present the most useful results.

Is AI the future of journalism or copywriting? In a word – no. Instead, it’s a very credible research tool to be handled and its results interpreted, with care. By humans.

 

Reuters is a pioneer in using AI and robotics to improve its processes and is proud of its focus on bringing machines and humans together – a vision it calls the ‘cybernetic newsroom’ – to each do what they do best to achieve a common goal. The idea behind Lynx Insight is that its AI software can sift through a massive amount of data to identify news trends and produce concise snippets human editors can then finesse or develop as needed, with clear time-saving benefits. On a practical level, humans simply could not analyse reams of data as speedily.

In the Reuters case, when it comes to the written sentences produced by Lynx Insight, these would always be reviewed by a human prior to publication. Cue a sigh of relief. While there are innate differences between the role of news journalist and the role of copywriter, surely the ability to write effectively still runs through everything we do. How many writers of any sort would genuinely feel comfortable handing this task over entirely to an algorithm?

Human personality is so important to the written word. At Acceleris and Limelight, we hold brainstorms to generate creative ideas – the good ones often end up flowing through the copy we produce. Understanding and capturing a client’s tone of voice can often be as important to brand and reputation as communicating key messages. When the right words aren’t coming, human writers know when to pause for reflection and that a great idea can come from simply taking a walk, getting some fresh air, or a chat with a colleague.

AI may not be able to replace a real human writer, but it has a valuable role to play in so many other fields. For corporate law firm Addleshaw Goddard (AG), one of our professional services clients, AI forms part of its Intelligent Delivery offer, which brings together the best people, processes and technology to optimise legal services for clients. AG uses Kira, a powerful AI system, to quickly interrogate and manage large volumes of information to save significant amounts of time.

On a personal level, I own an Amazon Echo and use it at home daily to stream music, listen to the radio and ask the time when wrestling my toddler into his coat and gloves while ushering the dog out of the way means I’m anything but hands-free. As impressed I am by the concept of driverless cars and open to the idea that they will become part of everyday life in my generation, I wouldn’t let one chauffeur me in my lifetime. Meanwhile, AI has a highly valuable potential role in improving outcomes in healthcare, such as in one study where AI has been used to analyse data to predict how many patients could end up in intensive care, and this must be explored. Amazing.

I, as will most professional writers, will watch the rise of the use of AI in research with great interest and if the opportunity presents itself, give it a go. I can’t speak for other writers, but in terms of letting AI write on my behalf, I’ll do that when I replace my car with one that can drive itself.

At Writers Inc., we can’t offer AI, but we can offer humans. To give our ‘algorithm’ a go, please get in touch.

An Intern’s Insight – My First Work Experience within PR

Helen Mehammer

Helen Mehammer, Intern at Acceleris

The day I had been looking forward to for so long was finally here, my first day as an intern at Acceleris. Would this be as eye-opening as I hoped it would be? As an international student studying in Leeds, mainly working within customer service in Norway, I was curious about what it would be like working in the UK, especially within PR and communications.

I was given a warm welcome by Alison who gave me a tour around the office. Just after I got settled at my desk for the week, I was invited to join the Monday team meeting. I was keen to get immersed in agency life; it was great to receive this introduction and to be given my first research and social content tasks.

I graduated from the University of Agder in Norway in March 2017. By that time, I had already been accepted at Leeds Beckett University as a MA PR and Strategic Communications student and I had planned to undertake a work placement during my second semester. As I did not have work experience within communications and knew how difficult it is to get ‘ahead of the game’ within the media industry in Norway, I saw the opportunity to gain knowledge and experience not easily achieved at home.

Not knowing where to apply, I attended a session by Ellie and Rebecca from Acceleris who were visiting my University to talk about working within communications and tips on how to apply for an internship. The meeting was inspiring, and Acceleris seemed like a good place to work. A short time after, I sent my CV and cover letter to Acceleris – and I got a placement for four weeks. I was ecstatic!

Working at Acceleris has absolutely been eye-opening. Doing research for clients, producing content for social media and brochures, and writing press releases are a few of the many tasks I’ve been able to do. I have also learnt how to use Canva, a picture editing program used to produce content e.g. for social media channels. I have also been introduced to GoAnimate which can be used to produce different animations and infographics, which was fun as I didn’t have any knowledge in that area until now.

My time as an intern has not only shown me what it’s like to work within communications, but I have also been part of a great, friendly working environment, where everyone makes coffee for everyone! Being an intern at Acceleris is absolutely worth the time, and I highly recommend doing a work placement here.

If you too would like to get ‘ahead of the game’, find out more about the Acceleris Academy work experience programme: http://www.acceleris-mc.com/pr-jobs-harrogate-london.html

Auf Wiedersehen, Pet – The Guardian says Ciao to Berliner

Jake Setterfield – Account Manager

Last Monday, Guardian News & Media (GNM), publisher of The Guardian and The Observer, produced its daily newspaper in tabloid format for the first time in its history.

 

 

 

Touted as a brave move appealing to readers’ ever-changing media consumption by advocates of the redesign, critics cite the move as an unashamed cost cutting measure.

The change is the latest since the paper’s move to the modern Berliner format in 2005. The Berliner redesign was greeted with international design awards and welcomed with a rise in circulation from readers, enjoying the easy to read format of the eye-catching, full colour paper. At the same time, and with extraordinary prescience, Roy Jeans, the managing director of Magna Global UK predicted: “I believe that in ten years’ time, all newspapers will be tabloid” ….

However, despite the initial warm reception, the decade since hasn’t been so kind on the Berliner, with circulation halving to 161,000, resulting in a reported £38m of losses last year alone. The change to tabloid is hoped to return significant savings for the paper, forming part of its three-year plan to break even by 2019.

The paper has guaranteed that it will continue to offer quality journalism in a tabloid format, but it will be hard for the public to shake the conception that a newspaper’s class and quality is intrinsically linked with its format – something that will be put to the test in the paper’s forthcoming circulation reports.

As for design, the new masthead and typeface has been compared with that of the Evening Standard, seemingly a step back from the paper’s colourful predecessor with a rather traditional appearance.  The content is however driven by striking images, with ad placements popping out of the page and screen. It is also 40% smaller than the Berliner, which will affect ads sold on size, raising some concerns in the ad-world.

We work closely alongside our partner agency, Better, on creative rebrand projects. John Taylor, Creative Director of the Middlesbrough based branding experts, comments:

 

“Tabloid is certainly a lot more comfortable to hold, but from a design perspective the new format, somewhat counter-intuitively, offers a larger canvas area for the front page. This is because it neatly removes the need to cram content above the fold of the Berliner format, which should excite the designers by offering more personality, impact and flexibility.

 

“In terms of heading and masthead, it’s a pleasingly crisp and sober evolution rather than a radical change. Reintroducing the uppercase T and G in the masthead adds authority and confidence, while Commercial Type’s new ‘Guardian Headline’ font feels familiar yet sharper and more precise. A fitting solution for a newspaper that prides its journalism on clarity. I’m not 100% sold on the lock-up, it looks and feels much more authoritative.

 

“Only time will tell if it delivers towards longer term financial goals but the immediate impression is a more concise, sharper, cleaner experience with added gravitas. Refreshing and unlikely to alienate existing readers.”

 

Editorially, the paper was also criticised on its content last week, as it was seen as lacking character and hard-hitting scoops. However, investigative stories from the paper in the past (the likes of the Panama Papers and the phone hacking scandal) are few and far between in their occurrence and it could be forgiven for avoiding a big sensationalist splash to coincide with its reformat.

 

In summary, the content is intended to work seamlessly across the outlet’s platforms both in print and online, in order to assert the importance of impartial reporting in a digital world. On the launch, the outlet commented: “Guardian journalism itself will remain what it has always been: thoughtful, progressive, fiercely independent and challenging; and, witty, stylish and fun”.

 

In a similar move, Acceleris’ client, the Maritime Trade Union, Nautilus International, has very recently redesigned its Telegraph newspaper, an outlet keeping its maritime professional membership base up to date on a wide range of industry issues.

 

Sent free to union members and available for subscription, the paper moved from a similar Berliner format towards an eye-catching, easier to read magazine. The move was a response from members’ requests for a bigger, better and faster manner for communications as they make the move to more digital driven content.

 

The Union wanted to retain the award-winning print outlet, but also taking advantage of digital opportunities, delivering news to members as it happens, accessing it wherever and whenever they want. Nautilus’ General Secretary, Mark Dickinson announced: “We need to provide news in a more immediate and dynamic manner… [the magazine] will provide readers with top news stories over the past month, together with in depth analysis and features on the industry”.

 

Through our copywriting division, Writers Inc, we work closely with our clients on creating engaging and eye-catching content, whether it’s an anniversary publication, a staff magazine, or an annual report. Feel free to get in touch (jakes@acceleris-mc.com), if you’re thinking about changing your branding or considering a refresh of your collateral.

All About Experience – An Intern’s Insight

Joe Sanderson – intern at Acceleris

The age-old problem for recent graduates is lack of experience. We’ve all heard it in countless interviews, or seen it on graduate job advertisements. How can I be expected to have experience when nobody will give me any?! This is what I was asking myself as an email popped up from Acceleris, inviting me to do a two to four-week internship in Harrogate through the Acceleris Academy Programme.

I had heard about Acceleris from the Prolific North website, on which they are listed in the top 50 PR agencies in the North. Great, I thought, this is a really good company and they’ve offered me an internship, starting immediately – what’s the catch? It turns out there wasn’t a catch; Acceleris is just committed to giving graduates and young people a platform to boost their career prospects, and this is something I’m extremely grateful for.

After graduating from Newcastle University in 2015 with a degree in History and Politics, I worked as a recruitment consultant for nine months. It’s safe to say it wasn’t the job for me, so I left and decided to go back to university, Leeds University to be exact, to do a Masters degree in Political Communication. I’ve always had a passion for politics and an interest in communication and, if I’m being honest, I had no idea what profession I’d like to work in, so it seemed like a good option.

I started the course on a part-time basis and would have finished in September 2018. However, as it often does, life got in the way, and my long-term girlfriend and I found out we would be having a little girl. I decided to leave university and pursue full-time work to support my family, and I set my sights on PR. I had learned a great deal about PR theory during my Masters course and thought it would be a great way to combine my passion for writing and communication and my interest in business and the corporate world.

My lack of experience wasn’t a problem for Acceleris; they were happy to give me an opportunity, and I’ve been given a real taste of the world of PR. Acceleris interns don’t just make the teas and coffees (although I made, and drunk, my fair share!), you really are treated like a contributing member of the team. During my time here, I’ve been given real responsibility with client work, from writing press releases, blogs, and working on a large copywriting project, to in depth research tasks and saving client coverage. It’s been a really diverse few weeks.

Acceleris interns are not simply assigned any old task that needs doing; I’ve been given the chance to express what it is I enjoy the most and get involved in that side of the business. For me, that has been Writers Inc, the copywriting division of Acceleris. So much so that I’ve stayed for four weeks rather than two, which I guess means I must have done something right!

Overall, it’s been a great four weeks with great people and interesting work. As I write this, I am half way through my last day and I will definitely miss the place and the people. I’m genuinely grateful to have come across a company that doesn’t focus on the fact that you don’t have enough experience, but on how it can give you experience. I hope to take what I’ve learned and use it to gain my first full-time position in the industry and who knows, I might even come back one day in the future!

The Acceleris Academy provides work experience placements and internships to students and graduates looking to get a head start in the industry. To see how the Academy could help you, drop us a line!

Top Tips for Media Mastery

Hania Thompson – Account Executive

For many 2017 has been the year of Fidget Spinners, Oscar Fiascoes and Brexit however for those in the world of PR, 2017 will always be the year of one of the biggest scandals to hit the industry in decades. Bell Pottinger was one of the most respected PR agencies in the world, until its collapse in early September after its association with a controversial campaign used to stir up racial tension in South Africa. During the Newsnight interview co-founder Lord Bell was put through his paces and cracked under the pressure. He appeared flustered and unsure of how to dodge the metaphorical bullets which presenter Kirsty Wark was firing at him. Perhaps he needed some media training…

I recently attended a media taster event where my eyes and ears were well and truly opened to the intricacies of journalism and the media. During the event I had the daunting opportunity to experience being interviewed for TV and radio programmes in professional studios and hear from the journalists’ mouths what they’re looking for when they’re interviewing.

Into the Spotlight

The purpose of this was to see what it was like to be on the receiving end of an interview and to express the importance of media training. Firstly, knowing the subject you are speaking about in great depth is key, a bit obvious but it does help! I was given fifteen minutes to gather my thoughts before being thrust into the spotlight and grilled about whether The X Factor had run its course (in my opinion it probably has). But sweeping, sensationalist comments like this must be corroborated with strong facts to hold up to scrutiny from journalists.

Lights, Camera, Action!

As I stepped in front of the camera the tell tales signs of nerves kicked in; the dry mouth, your heart trying to escape out of your chest and the inevitable sweat (attractive I know!). I was assured that I relaxed as my interview progressed, however I could feel my face getting redder by the minute! It was at this moment I realised I was not going to be the next Fiona Bruce…

Face for the Radio?

Radio (in my opinion) was a more calming experience, I didn’t have to think about a lens pointing at me, where I should be looking and whether the camera would make me gain ten pounds. I was put at ease throughout the experience as myself and DJ Daz discussed the important issue of Black Friday and whether it is a bargain or a bit of a rip off (again I think the latter).

For those of you who are radio novices (like me!) you may not be aware that as you are being interviewed you can hear both your interviewers and your own voice, which makes you think ‘do I really sound like that?’ Maybe I have the makings of the next Chris Evans? Here’s how I got on…

Top Interview Tips

This overall experience has made me realise how important media training is. You might have the facts nailed, but make sure you brush up on your interview techniques beforehand, so here are five top tips for a life in the media spotlight:

  1. Understand the subject you are being interviewed on like the back of your hand
  2. Be clear and concise during an interview and always refer to your key messages
  3. Make sure you are prepared for challenging questions or potential pitfalls as this can make you feel more confident
  4. Whilst on the radio, choose your words carefully and be wary of the tone of your voice – this also applies to television, but body language and facial expressions are added factors. Take your time, talk slowly and clearly and remember to breathe!
  5. When on television it’s important to keep your eyes focussed on the interviewer, as rapidly moving eyes can make you look untrustworthy and unsure of your subject

Although there are many guides and tips describing how to conduct yourself in front of the media (such as mine above), there is no better way to master this art but by practicing and getting used to the sensation of being put under the spotlight. Even the most experienced of professionals can struggle during interviews, especially when they are live (anything can happen!).

Media Mishaps

The first video is an oldie but a goodie which graced our screens in 2006 and will forever be in our hearts! When Guy Goma left his house for a job interview at the BBC, little did he know that he would end up on live national news, it is certainly a day he will never forget…and neither will we!

 

The second video went viral earlier this year and has had over 25 million views on YouTube alone. Professor Robert Kelly was prepared for his interview, he knew his subject, he was dressed professionally; if only he hadn’t left his door unlocked…he was not prepared for what happened next!

As you can see both these videos prove that even if an interview doesn’t go your way, don’t be too downtrodden. Our media training service has helped our clients arm themselves for interviews for a decade!

If (like me), the idea of interviews will keep you up at night, give us a call and Acceleris’ team will give you the essential media tips! Email us at info@acceleris-mc.com to get the conversation started or visit our website.

Tomorrow’s PR Professionals

Rebecca Hankic – Senior Account Manager at Acceleris

Acceleris runs its own training and development programme, the Acceleris Academy, to offer work placements to those looking for a break into the industry, as well as upskilling the team internally. In the last three years, we’ve recruited nine people through the Academy, and offered work placements to dozens more. With the role of PR agencies ever growing and involving, it’s vital to have fresh faces to offer new skills and expertise – so keep an eye on our vacancies page for when we’re next looking to hire!

Our Senior Account Director Ellie St George-Yorke sits on the regional CIPR committee, working to promote and support the PR sector in Yorkshire. As part of a programme of activity working with local students, Ellie and I spoke on a panel as part of a CIPR Meet the Professionals event at Leeds Beckett University.

Around 20 students from Leeds Beckett’s PR course, one of the best in the country, quizzed a panel of PR professionals from agencies and in-house roles across Yorkshire, to find out more about the future of PR and routes into the industry.

With many students looking for their first placements in the industry, how to apply for jobs was high on the agenda, as well as the opportunities in the region and retaining and nurturing young PR talent in Yorkshire.

So below are some of our top tips for getting into PR as discussed at the session – and will hopefully inspire some of the PR minds of tomorrow to stay in the region!

 Tips for getting into the industry

Know your stuff

We get so many applications for work experience and placements, from local schools to colleges, Universities and people looking for their first step into the industry, so we always look for people who have a real interest in the agency, our work and the industry itself.

When applying, familiarise yourself with what’s going on, what campaigns we’ve worked on and what specialisms we have – you’ll get so much more out of your placement and help build your skill set, if you read around the subject and get as under the skin of a client as you can!

Know your worth

This is equally important. Acceleris was one of the first in the region to commit to support Leeds Beckett University’s campaign to pay interns. PR is an incredibly competitive industry, but we’re passionate about supporting everyone in having the opportunity to get experience. If you work somewhere for more than two weeks and are contributing to valuable agency work, we believe this should be recognised. For graduates just out of Uni, it can be tempting to work for free and if you can afford it, it could be a great opportunity – but don’t accept that’s the only way to get work experience – it’s not!

You might also feel you’ve not got the experience to go into PR, but the team at Acceleris has a range of backgrounds, from former journalists to in-house specialists and German and Sports Management graduates! If you want to get into PR, keep at it – don’t let anyone tell you it’s not for you!

Get stuck in

A placement or internship provides a great opportunity to work on a range of different activity and broaden your skill set. Shout up, get involved and have an open mind on what you’re working on – you might think you want to focus on fashion PR and then realise charity campaigns are more your thing!

We’re also a sociable bunch, so if it’s going for a drink after work, making a round in the office or going for lunch, get involved. We love to see team players and you can learn a lot about the industry and what a future role might entail over a pint (or a bottle of prosecco in our Company Secretary’s case!).

 

To find out more about the Acceleris Academy, visit the page on our website or get in touch at info@acceleris-mc.com