PR and Communications

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.

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

 

The Power of Social Media

Joe Sanderson – intern at Acceleris

The world we live in is a mediatised one. Don’t know what this means? Don’t worry, it’s basically a posh academic way of saying that media, in all its various forms, affects our lives on a daily basis. In the same way as talk of the Brexit divorce bill or Meghan Markle (both equally important, obviously), we can’t get away from it.

From the moment you wake up in the morning and check what your friends are eating for breakfast on Instagram, to your bleary-eyed scrolling through endless cat memes to cheer yourself up at the end of a long day. From your morning paper to your Radio 2 fix on the way to work. From keeping in touch on your family iMessage group, to keeping abreast of your professional network on LinkedIn. From Twitter to Tumblr. Tinder to Pinterest. There’s no denying, media is everywhere.

This inescapable dominion of media over our society is indicative of the fact that we love to communicate. It’s a natural human instinct. We like company and we like talking to each other, and gone are the days when we had to get out of bed to do so. Media and communication are subtly and inherently intertwined with our lives, probably even in ways we can’t imagine and we’re not aware of.

The key driver of this gargantuan explosion of media in the modern age is a development that, despite seeming to have been around forever, is relatively new in terms of media history – social media. In days gone by, communicating to the masses required a fancy accent and a job with BBC or The Times. Now we can all do it, whenever we want, wherever we are. Everyone has a voice.

How you use that voice is up to you, and everybody is different, as shown by the top retweeted tweets of 2017. It could be to try your luck at getting free chicken nuggets, like Carter Wilkerson, whose tweet tops the list.

Source: @carterjwm

However, where one sees free chicken, another sees a marketing and PR opportunity, and Wendy’s response is a perfect example of making social media work for your business. Companies can now communicate with their customers more easily than ever before and, as in the case of Wendy’s, can even create PR and marketing campaigns for free (below).

Source: @Wendys

Social Media can be a powerful tool for your business. Particular success has been seen in the third sector, with charity initiatives consistently gaining momentum on sites like Facebook and Twitter. For example, Andy Johnson’s, @LucidWhim’s and PC Dave Wise’s tweets raised vital awareness for mental health, breast cancer and police suicides, as well as generous donations for the relevant charities. They sit at number 5, 9 and 7 in the 2017’s top 10.

Source: AndyJohnson08

Source: @LucidWhim

Source: @CopThatCooks

Even humorous messages from celebrities like Jeremy Clarkson or Peter Crouch have the benefit, of boosting their personal brand and popularity. Jeremy’s dab and Peter’s family catch-up tweets placed 6th and 8th respectively.

Source: @JeremyClarkson

Source: @petercrouch

Source: @BarackObama

In the case of politicians, the personal branding opportunities that social media allows are a powerful campaigning tool, as seen in the recent US and UK elections, with all candidates being extremely active on Twitter. Barack Obama is one politician who has expertly used social media to create a positive personal brand and his tweet in August about race equality was 4th in the top 10.

If you’d like to view the full list of 10 top retweeted tweets, please visit http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/revealed-most-retweeted-posts-2017-11640862.

Further, if you would like more information on how to harness the power of social media for you and your business, please contact Acceleris on 0845 4567 251.

NaNoWriMo – what’s the world of publishing coming to?

Abbie H

Abbie Hettle, Account Executive at Acceleris

As November draws to a close so does the annual National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo. The challenge is to write a 50,000 word novel over the course of 30 days – not a challenge we would all readily accept! Its popularity begs some reflection on what this says about traditional publishing in the technologically advanced 21st century.

We can all write a blog post. We can all write a 140 280 character tweet. Can we all write a compelling and challenging novel which responds to various literary genres? ‘No’ is the simple answer, but it certainly doesn’t stop the empowerment of the internet from encouraging us to try. What a great example of digital and traditional publishing tools working hand in hand!

There’s no denying that traditional periodical print publishing is massively in decline. Magazines print issues have been ruthlessly axed across the spectrum over the past few months alone. Glamour, for example, announced in October it is focusing on digital publishing at the expense of its monthly glossy magazine, now printing special issues just twice a year. Teen Vogue swiftly followed with the demise of Vogue’s young oriented magazine and the cutting of 80 jobs. All of this signals a sharp shift in young people and their reading alliances.

Meanwhile outside of magazines the novel is seeing something of a resurgence into popular culture. It wasn’t too long ago that the trend for e-readers and e-books seemed to cast the 200+ page bound tome into the trash. Yet the novel seems to be holding steadfast to its print publishing roots. With the re-invention of Waterstones and a growth in book bloggers, #instareads, and monthly book subscription services it seems that, even though publishing seems averse to the onset of digital dominance, there will always be a place for the printed word.

A campaign to renew the relevance of the novel on such a multicultural digital platform such as Twitter instils us editorial folk with new confidence. Weekly magazines and their conveyor belts of predictable and temporarily relevant content don’t hold our attention for too long. We are increasingly turning towards more traditional print like the classic novel as well as digital versions of newspapers, magazines and brochures whose presence both physical and digital seems fixed.

Take a look at our work with The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society. To celebrate its milestone of 150 years we produced a commemorative book detailing the Society’s roots, objectives and achievements across its long history of caring for former seafarers. This project appealed to the Society’s older audience who are invested in their charitable status and its objective of providing top quality care facilities. The hardback book worked for this client whose existence is steeped in history and tradition. We complemented this publication with content that could be utilised in a digital version and on the website. The timeline which ran across the top of each page in the printed book is now a feature on the Society’s brand new website. Tying these two forms together has extended the charity’s appeal and relevance to a great variety of audiences who utilise different media. It has even won a CIPR award for Best Publication

The lesson here is there’s a suitable online or offline print publication for everyone; whether that’s a commemorative book, a graphic novel or brochure. NaNoWriMo’s repeated success is testament to the power of the word and for recent graduates like me and fellow bookworms everywhere, it is proof the book isn’t going anywhere.

Let’s place the printed word back where it belongs. Why not give Acceleris’ Writers Inc department a call to find out how we can help you achieve this? Find us here

Which retailers are #winning Christmas?

Dan Stead – Senior Digital Account Executive

Christmas is coming!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. With the retailers selling and everyone telling you get on the beer. Yes, it truly is the happiest season of all and it seems to get earlier each year. The start of November ushers in a frantic scramble for retailers to hide away the Halloween horrors and to deck the shelves with boughs of holly (and the latest must have goods).

Yet we only truly know Christmas is coming when we see that first TV department store advert. We all have our opinions on which is the best, and there are many other blogs which will have their say, but which is actually performing the best for the retailers themselves?

The John Lewis ad is arguably the most eagerly awaited all year and it’s seen as the seminal moment for festive feelings to fall upon us. With the BBC reporting record Christmas ad spends for 2017 with a staggering £6bn spent by brands in 2017, everyone has upped their game to get a slice of the (mince) pie.

But ad big budgets aren’t enough! Even if John Lewis has hired an Oscar winning director, Elbow and thrown £7m at its Christmas crusade. Every festive campaign hitting our screens this year needs to incorporate a sound digital strategy as well as a captivating and often emotional Christmas message. We’ve looked at four of the nation’s largest department stores to see which campaign is delivering the best results so far.

Before we dive straight in, you can view all the ads discussed here:

12 Graphs of Christmas

Google       

Processing over 40,000 search queries per second, Google is obviously the best place to start. When comparing searches for the four department stores it’s clear one comes out on top. And it’s no coincidence there is a spike in traffic after Moz the Monster was born on 10 November. John Lewis jingles all the way to the top of Google rankings based on its Christmas campaign this year.

Frequency of search terms of the big four retailer since 1 November

Social media shouting match

With most Christmas ads now appearing on everything from billboards to buses and TV to Twitter, it’s interesting to look at which retailer is making the most noise online.

YouTube

It’s all well and good shelling out millions for TV ad space but which brands are making the most of the free, online opportunities? YouTube is the obvious place to start and there are two clear frontrunners for the festive ad crown this year. John Lewis leads the way with over 8,000,000 views and Marks and Spencer is keeping close with almost 6,000,000 of its own. Debenhams has clocked up over 1,000,000 views while House of Fraser is languishing in fourth place with a measly 60,000 views.

Twitter

We all know that one platform is not enough however and brands need to be producing engaging content across a range of channels. Twitter tells us more.

John Lewis

 

 John Lewis has attempted to generate interest through the creation of two hashtags for its campaign this year #MozTheMonster and #UnderTheBed. With almost 1,500 posts reaching an audience of nearly 11,000,000 since the 1 November alone, it’s clear the campaign is not just working on TV.

While there have been some mixed reactions to its ‘under the bed’ theme with many citing scared children as one concern, John Lewis’ loveable monster Moz has proved more popular with over 70% of people reacting positively to him.

Source: @KieranRhys Twitter

Debenhams

Debenhams has aimed to create an empowering Christmas message in 2017, #YouShall. The retailer has recruited added firepower this year with the Hollywood A-lister Ewan McGregor drafted in as its celebrity influencer to boost brand awareness through a fairy tale cameo with a modern social media twist. With almost 2,000,000 people reached so far and almost two thirds reacting positively, Debenhams is doing well.

 

Source: @Gail_AT Twitter

House of Fraser

House of Fraser’s Christmas campaign for 2017 takes a trip down memory lane and aims to evoke feelings of nostalgia with its hope to #BringMerryBack. However, with only 58 posts utilising the hashtag in over two weeks (and how many of these are employees?) it hasn’t done as well as the others. With just over half of posts having a positive sentiment, House of Fraser will have hoped for more.

 

Source: @sara00012345 Twitter

Marks and Spencer

Marks and Spencer, last but not least, has teamed up with ‘the nation’s favourite marmalade lover’ to make us #LoveTheBear enough to visit its stores or website. A clever campaigning building upon the star’s readymade fanbase to influence our Christmas spending. It’s clearly resonated with many, achieving an online reach of nearly 4,000,000 people already! However, it seems not everyone is a fan of poor old Paddington with just half of users reacting positively to his glad tidings.

 

Source: @FactDeJour Twitter

 

And the #winner is…

So there is a clear winner as to which retailer’s Christmas ad is performing best.

  1. John Lewis

Unsurprisingly the John Lewis ad has become THE Christmas event of the year after consistent production of engaging and emotional content both on screen and online. This year, driving traffic and searches online has clearly worked and it sold out of the portable LED night light featured in the ad in mere minutes! Well played #MozTheMonster – gold medal performance.

  1. Marks and Spencer

Silver goes to Marks and Spencer’s #LoveTheBear campaign. A creative ad featuring the friendliest, furry legend from fiction, Paddington Bear. Although not all reactions online have been positive, views and searches have shot through the store roof. All publicity is good publicity, right?

  1. Debenhams

It was a close race but the bronze medal goes to Debenhams for its’ #YouShall campaign to have a Cinderella inspired, fairy tale Christmas. This campaign has had a positive reaction online so comes out on top if it’s quality leads you’re after. However, as the ad has been viewed less than its rivals, it just hasn’t created that same buzz as the big spenders.

  1. House of Fraser

Last but not least, it’s House of Fraser’s #BringMerryBack. A nice idea to add a sprinkling of nostalgia to its campaign this year but with only around 500,000 people reached by the campaign so far, it looks like it’ll be playing catch-up for the festive run in.

Although the big four department stores have been the focus here, it’s unforgiveable to examine retailers’ Christmas campaigns without paying homage to the nation’s most heroic carrot. Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot is back with a bang this year and it’s another example of how retailers are maximising revenue over the festive period through championing a brand mascot. Such is the demand for Kevin and his love interest Katie, Aldi has had to restrict sales to two per customer this year!

Lessons to be learned

So the lesson is, don’t just rely on one platform. It’s not just retailers that can capitalise on Christmas this year through creating as many opportunities to expose consumers to their brand as possible. TV ads and video content should be posted on dedicated web pages, YouTube channels, Twitter accounts and we haven’t even touched upon Facebook or LinkedIn etc.

But don’t just take our word for it – have your say on which retailer’s Christmas ad is best via our Twitter poll here.

And although there’s still a month until the day itself, all that’s left from Acceleris is to wish all of our clients, suppliers and partners a very merry Christmas!

All data featured in this blog has been obtained between 1-17 November through research conducted by Acceleris’ Digital Insights division which tracks trends and monitors online behaviour to stay ahead of the curve, and to help inform client PR campaigns. Find out more about our specialist retail team here.

Value of an Agency: Partner or Supplier?

Partner or Supplier?

Simon Brown, Account Director

It’s been an interesting few months for me having recently made the move to the other side of the desk and back into agency life. After six years running the PR and communications for Costcutter Supermarkets Group, I took the decision to check out and take a fresh challenge with Acceleris.

Having spent all of my pre-Costcutter career in agencies this was a move that I made with plenty of ‘inside information’ about the workings of agencies. And it’s this experience, coupled with my learnings in-house, that I hope I can use to offer an alternative point of view on how agencies and businesses need to work together to deliver the best results.

I never imagined that I’d one day quote the New Radicals song You get what you give to make a point about how working relationships should work, but there you have it. As well as topping the charts in Canada and New Zealand, it seems Gregg Alexander has hit the nail on the head, highlighting that these relationships cannot just be one way.

A real bugbear of mine working in previous agencies was that it could feel a bit disconnected from the clients. Not geographically, although I was working for companies all over the UK, but disconnected from the heartbeat of their business, the strategic reasoning behind a chosen course of action, the real ‘why are we doing this?’. The agency would deliver against the brief and generate some great results, but it could feel a bit detached and, beyond a few predetermined metrics to define success, it was often difficult to determine the real value that we had added.

In-house couldn’t be more of a polar opposite, with total immersion from day one. In my particular situation I was the only PR person in the business, with all eyes on me for the creation and delivery of the PR strategy. This situation quickly led me to ask the question, why would a business keep their agencies at arm’s length? After all, I faced the challenge of delivering the PR activity for the business, on my own. When I did secure budget to bring in external support it had to be done in a way that would give the business, and me, the absolute best chance of success.

In my opinion there are two types of agency relationships – the Supplier and the Partner. As you might have guessed I favour the partner approach and this is certainly how I tried to do things at Costcutter. Retail is an exceptionally fast moving industry, convenience even more so with many changes in the sector over the last few years and more to come as signalled by the various deals and mergers that are underway. This brought with it a seemingly endless run of communications requirements – both opportunities and challenges to be managed. Keeping my specialist communications advisors at arm’s length and briefing them on a project by project basis simply wouldn’t have worked.

By being open with your agency and giving them the ‘big picture’, warts and all, they can analyse the current situation and the road ahead and then present their expert advice. Having this open stance with your advisors will deliver better results. One of the many idioms doing the rounds describes communications as a ‘journey’ and while I am not usually a fan of such corporate jargon it’s as good a description as any for how to approach strategic communications. In the same way that a business wouldn’t expect to deliver its entire strategy in one go, communications is a journey that your audiences need to be taken on. It won’t be a flat straight road and there will be plenty of ups and downs, so giving your agency the big picture will enable them to give really meaningful advice and create plans that deliver for the long term. After all, that’s what they do and what you pay them for.

Businesses surround themselves with trusted advisors to help deliver their strategy. Lawyers, accountants, business consultants, growth strategists and HR advisors are all consulted, and rightly so. They are experts in their field and will help shape the future direction of the business, identify the opportunities and put the resource in place to deliver it. Communications advisors are experts too, yet many businesses don’t place similar importance on the need to embed communications into their strategy or view their agencies as trusted advisors.

So, having moved back into agency am I faced with the same bugbear of old? Absolutely not. A good friend of mine often reminds me that people buy people and so as much as Acceleris did its homework before appointing me, I also did mine. Acceleris is very proud of the relationships it has with its clients and through the delivery of sound, insight-based advice it is a trusted advisor to its clients. A partner in creating communications strategies that deliver the right result.

“Communications is a journey that your audiences need to be taken on.”

Got a rep’ to protect? Top tips for reputation protection

 

Lisa McGauley, Senior Account Manager at Acceleris

A company’s reputation is one of its greatest assets; if not its greatest. According to The 2017 UK Reputation Dividend Report, the combined value of corporate reputations of the 350 largest listed companies in the UK stood at £986bn in January 2017; which represents 39% of all shareholder value.

In the automotive industry, the ongoing VW emissions scandal – which, it is reported has cost Volkswagen as much as $25 billion – reports around the improper handling of damage claims by rental companies, and a new issue that has surfaced about the quality of Japanese metals used in vehicle production are all examples of current stories that may have rocked, or be rocking market confidence.

All of these highlight the importance of industry providers having a clear and comprehensive communications strategy in place. As part of this it is also vital to plan for any unexpected negative events or crises that may arise and to ensure you are on the front foot when the you-know-what hits the proverbial fan.

Here are some tips for achieving cut-through communications and being prepared for every eventuality:

  1. Boost your reputation: As well as the day-to-day task of building your reputation by positioning yourself as a thought leader and commenting on key industry issues, it is also important to share good news stories and celebrate success with the media – award wins, contract wins, investment news, key appointments, milestones and new product or service launches. Having a strong two-way dialogue with key media will pay dividends when you have to tell them something negative.
  2. Be prepared: Crises are by and large unexpected, but you can plan for them and by doing so help to minimise operational and reputational impact. Agree your spokespeople, rehearse the plan and make sure colleagues know who to escalate potentially negative issues to and when.
  3. The three Rs – Reason, Regret, Remedy: The impact and value of a simple statement of regret cannot be overstated – A simple statement of regret will demonstrate that the company and the senior team are humans and can empathise with the people directly affected by the crisis.

The specifics of each situation will vary and it will not always be possible or appropriate but a full and genuine apology delivered in a timely manner can be a powerful way to defuse criticism.

In the event of a crisis explain the facts of the situation as accurately and as early as possible. In the fast moving media environment it is important to take control and be seen to be the leading source of information about the crisis.

It is also important to explain what the company is doing to try and solve the problem and what the likely timescales involved will be. By providing as much detail as possible, the company will appear to be taking clear and decisive action and fulfilling its responsibilities to improve the situation.

  1. Be First, Frank and Fast: In a crisis it is essential to take control of the situation FIRST by acting swiftly and controlling the dissemination of consistent and accurate information to internal and external audiences. By acting first, the business will establish itself as leading the response to the crisis and as the primary source of information.

In the modern media and social media environment news and reaction can spread within minutes and it is essential that businesses react to this changing reality FAST. In a significant crisis, it is important to respond much more quickly and to work to the media’s schedule. Crisis planning and briefing members of staff in advance will be essential to enable a business to respond quickly in the event of a crisis.

Be FRANK. It is important to be as honest as possible in dealing with the media and the public. In the age of the 24 hours news cycle and social media nothing will stay secret and any attempts to cover up or hide bad news can make a crisis much worse and ruin any remaining goodwill towards the company.

As a final thought, when considering the value of corporate reputation, I think this quote sums it up perfectly:

“We can afford to lose money – even a lot of money. But we can’t afford to lose reputation – even a shred of reputation,” wrote Warren Buffett to managers.

If you need crisis communications support, look no further than our team of experts!

Did you know Acceleris has won the Issues and Reputation Management title at the European Excellence Awards three out of the last four years!

An Intern’s Insight into Acceleris

Hania Thompson, Intern at Acceleris

From The Pool to the Board Room – an Intern’s Insight

Work two jobs, it will be easy! That is what I told myself as I woke up at 5am to lifeguard for two hours before embarking on a two week internship at Acceleris. As I power walked up the Ripon Road that morning I nervously kept thinking about what I was going to be doing and what will everyone be like? However, as I walked into the foyer, over the quaint wooden bridge and up the winding stairs into the reception area I was quickly put at ease.

After being warmly greeted and given a brief tour I was promptly introduced to my ‘buddy’ Katie who quickly made sure I was put to work right away. There is nothing worse than starting somewhere new and not knowing what you are doing or supposed to be doing; however, I am pleased to say that this was not the case – thanks to my buddy. My first task was to read through the Yorkshire Post and pick out relevant stories and at 10:30 I felt very important as I attended my first meeting in the board room (thankfully I wasn’t fired!).

After graduating from Northumbria University in 2015 with a degree in Sport Management, the one question which many graduates ask is ‘shall I take a gap year?’ My answer to this was yes. After a ski season in the Swiss Alps, working in the USA and travelling around Western Australia I finally decided to ‘settle down’ and think about my future.

I had been interested in the marketing and PR side of my degree, which led me to exploring this area further – although I wasn’t entirely sure what this would involve. I was fortunate enough to be offered an internship after hearing about Acceleris from a friend – and the rest is history!

The last two weeks spent at Acceleris have flown by – the old saying ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ comes to mind! I was given a variety of tasks which ranged from designing social media graphics for various events and clients, writing press releases, blog writing, researching potential clients and constructing (many) spreadsheets.

My favourite job was designing social media graphics for different clients. I thoroughly enjoyed being creative and imaginative throughout the process. The last two weeks have really given me a flavour of what it is like to work in the world of PR. To make the experience even better I was made to feel welcomed and valued from the moment I stepped through the door and I could tell that the staff at Acceleris are an incredibly hard working and dedicate team.

At the end of my time here I found that PR is not so dissimilar from being a lifeguard after all. You complete all the training needed for your role; however, when you’re thrown in at the deep end on your first day, you never truly know how you’re going to react until the situation presents itself – whether this is trying to save someone’s life or handling a crisis on social media! As I impart my knowledge onto the next intern, the most important thing to say is to fling yourself into it, learn as much as you can whilst you have the chance and say yes to everything!

To see more on the opportunities Acceleris has for students and graduates, read about the Acceleris Academy here.

Heroes and Zeros: managing your brand reputation

Nadia Ahmed who joined Acceleris on work experience

Nadia Ahmed, who joined Acceleris on work experience

Even as someone new to the world of PR, I can recognise the impact PR campaigns can have, whether for better or for worse.

During my two weeks of work experience at Acceleris I have learnt the significance of brands protecting their reputations. There have been lots of examples in the media recently where brands have triumphed in marketing themselves and some at the opposite end of the scale.

Here we take a look at some examples which have sparked criticism from the not-so-adoring public, as well as the championing of some brands for their success.

 

 

Neither hopeful nor glorious festival

Hope and Glory PR Disaster Liverpool

The ironically named ‘Hope and Glory Festival’ in Liverpool was cancelled in early August, just as acts were ready to go on stage. The worst part however, is that it was cancelled with one disastrous tweet simply saying, ‘No festival today’. Overcrowding at the 12,500 capacity St George’s Quarter led to the event being scrapped, with thousands of ticket holders left disappointed. Day-ticket holders lost out on both a highly anticipated festival and £55, while those who had bought a weekend ticket and paid out £89 were left confused and angry.

Although some posts on the Facebook page pointed the blame at the production manager, who was even named and shamed, the PR company behind the event were ultimately responsible for dealing with all the publicity and social media for the event. The agency continued to point the blame at anyone but themselves, and the director added fuel to the fire of public outrage when he bungled his interview on talkRadio and only offered to refund the one ticket to a listener who called in. In such a modern, technology dependent era, PR disasters like this spread like wildfire and can easily destroy a company’s reputation. There is no doubt that this event was a disaster and the PR company have been placed at the centre of it.

 

Social media Mum 1, V&A Museum nil

A breastfeeding mum took to social media after she was asked to ‘cover up’ when she accidentally flashed her nipple whilst breastfeeding at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Kensington. However, the mother did not passively accept this disapproval, and she took to Twitter to express her outrage.

Using her Twitter account the mother tweeted: “Flashed a nanosecond of nipple while #breastfeeding and was asked to cover up in @V_and_A courtyard. Am perplexed…” Then continued with, “On the upside, I had a lovely day at the V&A exploring depictions of breasts through the ages and making lovely mammaries. I mean memories”. Ironically, the incident occurred within World Breastfeeding Week, which works to dispel the sense of disapproval some women feel while breastfeeding in public. Using hashtags such as #normalisebreastfeeding , #empoweredbirthproject and #breastisbest.

The V&A’s director apologised after the tweet went viral, saying “@vaguechera V sorry. Our policy is clear: women may breastfeed wherever they like, wherever they feel comfortable & shld not be disturbed.”

Easy access to social media allows people to share perceived injustices and also allowed the V&A to publicly apologise. Ultimately, it all ended well.

 

Swede dreams

In a glorious attempt to boost tourism, the organisation Visit Sweden has listed the entire country on Airbnb to try and appeal to young travellers. The Swedish tourist board is trying to encourage and educate people in the concept of Allesmansrätten, or ‘the freedom to roam’.

Allesmansrätten refers to the general public’s right to camp, hike, explore and use the country’s natural resources at will. The campaign boasts that, “Sweden has no Eiffel Towers. No Niagara Falls or Big Bens. Not even a little Sphinx. Sweden has something else- the freedom to roam. This is our monument” conveying that Sweden’s natural landscape is the jewel in its crown and a great reason to visit. The weirdly wonderful campaign promotes the country’s own unique offerings and the Airbnb stunt helped them gain publicity and drive traffic to both Visit Sweden’s and Airbnb’s websites.Visit Sweden Listed on Airbnb

Visit Sweden Listed on Airbnb

Heroes and zeros awards

Each of these events gained recognition across various media channels and one in particular reignited the discussion on the issue of breastfeeding in public. It is becoming increasingly clear how crucial the effectiveness and speed of responses from companies is, in order to prevent the destruction of a certain brand.

For a successful PR campaign which is current, unique and exciting, Visit Sweden has to win my hero award.

As the biggest failure, the Hope and Glory Festival PR catastrophe is doubtlessly the winner of my zero award. Hopefully the lesson of ‘not cancelling a huge event with a three word tweet’ has been learnt.

Here at Acceleris we have a vested interest in the reputations of our clients. We believe it’s not what you say that defines you. It’s what you do and how you do it that creates your reputation. What we do is protect and promote the brands of our clients. To find out more about our work for other clients, take a look at: http://www.acceleris-mc.com/pr-portfolio-case-studies.html

Intern’s Insight at Acceleris

Lucy Bune – Acceleris Work Experience Placement

Lucy Bune shares her Acceleris experience

I’ll admit I was nervous on the morning of Monday 3 July, getting ready in new ‘business- casual’ clothes that felt very formal, preparing for five days I was going to spend working at the Harrogate Office of Acceleris. I had been to the office once before to fill in several forms of the health and safety variety, given to me by the careers department of my school, which had organised the work experience programme, and encouraged us to independently seek out placements., which would take place in the 10 week long summer holiday after we finished our GCSE exams. I had contacted Acceleris after I read their information on the North Yorkshire work experience website, and felt it would suit me – I enjoyed media and English lessons and thought that PR or journalism would be a good fit for a future career, although I was not completely sure what ‘PR’ entailed and meant.

As I climbed the (many, many) stairs up to the office, I had absolutely no idea what to expect – I didn’t know the jobs I would be doing, or who (or what!) I would be working with. However my fears were soon put to rest when I met the team who were all extremely welcoming and friendly. I was given my very own desk with a computer and a phone, which I very much hoped I wouldn’t have to use.

Unfortunately, that was my first task – to contact the IT office and sort out my email address. When I got it set up, I was set straight into my second task, one which became a daily occurrence, reading through the newspaper to find any interesting articles.  It allowed me to settle into my new space and get to grips with the computer and email systems which I would have no idea how to use otherwise!

Over my week I have enjoyed a great deal of varied tasks which have been given to me – from creating social media posts, to research, editing photos and, of course, writing this blog, I have done much more than I thought happened in a PR office. My eyes have been opened to how much work goes into marketing, research, communications and the many other things that PR entails. I have found my experience very interesting and think it has given me some skills to boost my CV (the one everybody keeps going on about, that I’ve not actually made), an insight into the world of PR and I have also met some very lovely and hard working people who have made me feel welcome and that the work I was doing was important.

My favourite job has definitely been creating social media posts and graphics, particularly for twitter, and it has made me realise that this could be something to pursue in the future, especially for the growing need for companies to have social media profiles and strong online presences.

I would definitely advise any young person who is interested in PR, social media or any aspect of the media to try out a work experience or an internship at Acceleris as it will really help you understand what goes on in the world of public relations. My experience also helped me improve invaluable skills, not just on the computer, but also face to face communication, confidence, and talking on the phone! My advice to those preparing for an internship would be that you really don’t need to worry – this sound like a cliché, but it’s true – all the staff at Acceleris are extremely kind and warm, and you will soon feel like you fit right in. Keep on task and get your work done in order to maximise the potential of your work experience and give you the full range of the types of tasks that you could deal within a PR office.

And, finally, another cliché – have fun! I certainly did!

 

To read more on Acceleris’ current job vacancies, click here.