Brand Development

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 to get the conversation started or visit our website.

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


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.


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.


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 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.

Election Fever!

Ellie St George-Yorke, Account Director at Acceleris

Another week, another election. I know I’m running the risk of sounding like Brenda from Bristol but it does seem like we are having a lot of politics at the moment. You can’t walk into a coffee shop or sit on the train without overhearing a conversation about who said what or who forgot which figures. As we all head to the local school or community centre to cast our vote once again, here’s a quick look at how brands have jumped on election fever over the years.

This year, craft beer enthusiasts and marketing wizards, BrewDog has launched a campaign to create their own exit poll. It is encouraging voters to post a selfie of themselves outside their polling station and show their snap at BrewDog bars around the country for a free pint (who doesn’t love free booze!)

As ever, it’s crucial in what appears to be becoming a closer and closer election for young people to turn out to vote. Let’s face it, this election is one in particular that could be won or lost based on the youth vote. With this in mind, for a brand marketed at young people to be mobilising the youth vote has received a bit thumbs up on social media as well as appealing to its core demographic, driving them into its pubs and bars.

Elsewhere in election news, Banksy has got himself into trouble this week promising to send free prints to anyone voting against the Conservatives. Unfortunately for Banksy it turns out that bribery is frowned upon by the powers that be, no matter how much you are frustrated by the status quo and the Electoral Commission stepped in. In a rather sarcastic and aptly appropriate U-turn Banksy caved and retracted the offer via his website.

What’s interesting is to look at the spike this stunt has created in terms of Google searches for Banksy over the past week. As you can see while the great man himself calls the stunt ‘ill-conceived and legally dubious’, it certainly made an impact with keywords ‘Banksy vote’, ‘Banksy election’ and ‘Banksy website’ all appearing as rising searches over the last seven days.

When it comes to jumping on the interest around the election our clients are no exception. For maritime professionals’ trade union, Nautilus International, we have created an animation showing the UK’s reliance of seafaring and seafarers and have used this to encourage election candidates to support the maritime industries first in their manifestos and hopefully, once elected, in reality.

The animation forms part of the Union’s Jobs, Skills and the Future campaign which calls on the UK government and maritime industry to deliver decent work and training opportunities for British seafarers now before our seafaring skills and fleet are lost forever. By using the election as a hook to spread the word of the animation, the campaign has allowed the Union to shine a light on the issues facing those working at sea.

No matter the outcome on Friday morning, it will certainly have been an interesting period in our country’s history and there are opportunities for brands to piggy back or influence (maybe subtly) the outcome and aftermath of the election to encourage voters, who of course are consumers as well, to vote with their feet as well as their hearts come Thursday and beyond.

Winner winner chicken dinner! How to be an industry awards master

Ellie St George-Yorke, Account Director

As a PR you get to travel to many glamorous places and this week is no exception. Today team Acceleris will travel to Germany to attend the European PR Excellence Awards at the Ritz Carlton in Berlin. Eyelashes at the ready ladies!

These awards are the latest in a string of glitzy ceremonies for the team over the last few weeks with Award season certainly in full swing. Here’s my take on the benefits of entering awards and how to be the best at showcasing your work.


PR-ing a PR Agency

PR agencies are notorious for suffering from ‘cobblers’ children syndrome’ when it comes to shouting about their own achievements. While a new appointment, a client win or an industry award would be jumped on by a PR team for a client, PR agencies often either forget or are too busy to share their own successes, whether online or through the media.

About six years ago, we at Acceleris decided to change our approach and dedicate time and efforts to building our own brand using the same channels we would for many clients. We now have a dedicated team who identify comment and feature opportunities, draft and sell in press releases about agency achievements and enter all sorts of industry awards on behalf of the team.

This approach has really paid off with Acceleris having won almost 50 industry awards being presented to the agency since we started ten years ago. These have spanned Leeds and Yorkshire region as well as picking up trophies in London and on an international scale in Munich and Stockholm. And fingers crossed for the treble in Berlin tonight!

And it’s not just for us, this year we have successfully entered awards on behalf of a number of our clients including charities such as the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society and Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, motoring clients Nexus Vehicle Rental, Vantage Motor Group and UK Fuels, social housing projects with the National Federation of ALMOs and Kier as well as Ainsty Inns and the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations.


Why should I enter industry awards?

Now, in the past we have come up for some scepticism when it comes to entering awards – phrases like ‘but surely the more you enter, the more you win’ and comments about the ethics of charging nominees to enter their submissions do get thrown around and there is always that question afterwards about ‘well what did they do that we don’t?’.

However awards are a great way of sharing the success of your business and motivating the teams involved. There is nothing better than a campaign you have worked hard on being recognised and cheered by a room of your peers. They are also a great way of adding credibility to your work and demonstrating how innovative or dedicated you are, how your company is a great place to work or why customers and clients should want to work with your team.

Top tips for award winning submissions

Having written award entries for the agency and for clients gives us a certain understanding of what makes a good submission but we have also been involved on the other side. Earlier this year I joined the judging panel for the CIPR PRide Awards through my role on the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire regional committee while our managing director Louise Vaughan judged the content marketing category at the PRCA national awards in the summer.

Our team has also helped with organising awards programmes, devising categories and booking hosts as well as promoting the winners and nominees through good old fashioned media relations. Some examples are the Fishing News Awards on behalf of client Kelsey Media, the Leeds Community Stars Awards for Leeds based social housing organisations and the annual awards programme for long-time client the National Federation of ALMOs for which we generated more than £300,000 in corporate sponsorship securing and delivering the programme at zero cost to the client.


Based on this combined experience as an awarganiser (for a definition read my blog from 2013), a judge and an award winner, here are my top five tips for writing killer award entries:

  1. Statistics are your friends – it’s all very well stating that ‘our staff and customers are happier than ever’ but you can see how a statement such as ‘customer satisfaction has risen by 95%’ or ‘we have a 100% staff retention rate’ give a much clearer and tangible outcome for a campaign
  1. Evidence – think of it like a murder trial, you have to demonstrate evidence to back up what you are claiming. Whether it’s statistics, client testimonials, case studies or profit calculations make sure that you back up what you are saying with some specific evidence
  1. Supporting material – choose wisely when it comes to submitting extra information to support your entry. My view is less is more. For the time poor judge who has more than 50 entries to read, your 1,000 slide presentation about every nuance of your project is not going to be too helpful – remember award programmes often have a word limit on submissions for a reason. I would say limit supporting evidence to no more than four pages and include plenty of images to bring to life what is described in your entry
  1. Read the question! I know this is a clique from GCSE history exams but if you don’t answer the questions and criteria set out by the category, the judges won’t be able to give you high scores, no matter how great the project sounds
  1. Keep it simple – while you have been living and breathing the project or business you are submitting, judges will likely approaching the topic with no previous experience – spell out acronyms and avoid jargon to avoid losing the judges’ attention.

Good luck and keep your fingers crossed for us for Berlin!


‘What’s In a Name?’ – PRCA rebrands but does PR need two professional bodies?

Simon Baylis, Account Director

Simon Baylis, Account Director

The PRCA changed its name this month to…the PRCA (now the Public Relations and Communications Association).  

As part of a wider rebrand with new strapline, website and logo, the word ‘consultants’ has been dropped in favour of ‘communications’. Whether this will make any real difference is open to question, but the decision to change names comes after extensive consultation with members.

We recently rebranded ourselves so it would be unfair to criticise and perhaps ‘communications’ does more accurately reflect the breadth and multidisciplinary nature of the industry.

Source: The PRCA's new branding

Source: The PRCA’s new branding

Source: The PRCA's old branding

Source: The PRCA’s old branding

However my real question would be whether we really need two membership organisations?

I am a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and the attraction of a trade body for me is to uphold standards in the industry and to drive improvements and professional development. Both the PRCA and CIPR achieve this and run regular training courses as well as issuing guidance and advice for members. At Acceleris we have our own training academy which focuses on the professional development of our team and we invest in external training from both the PRCA and CIPR as part of this.

The PRCA states that it represents in excess of 20,000 people in 48 countries. The CIPR is smaller and has just over 10,000 members but also has a royal charter.

However, according to the latest PRCA figures published this year, there are now 83,000 people working in PR (sorry communications) in the UK.

There appears to be a silent majority of 50,000 people who are not members of either body and I think that is the real challenge to both organisations – how to engage and remain relevant to all professional communicators.

The PR and communications industry will never truly achieve the status of other professions until there is a barrier to entry. At the moment anyone can set up a consultancy and begin giving advice – whether they’ll still be in business in six months’ time is another question. Without wishing to squash an entrepreneurial spirit, I am in favour of ensuring that everyone in the industry should share a common set of ethics and agreed best practices.

Whether PRCA, CIPR or something else, I think there are clear benefits to there being a communications trade body but do we need more than one? Perhaps a merger is in order although that might call for yet another rebrand.

More Than Just a Shiny Trophy!

Peter Davenport, Chief Executive at Acceleris

Peter Davenport, Chief Executive at Acceleris

‘Agency of the Year’

It’s easy to write off awards as nothing more than an industry’s excuse for an evening of self-congratulation at an alcohol fuelled prize-giving ceremony in a suitably swanky hotel! And it’s sometimes hard to shake off the David Brent-ian image that the plethora of esoteric award ceremonies can induce.

That’s if you’re looking from the outside in!!!

If you are the recipient, then you have a completely different perspective. It might be easy to scoff at, say, someone being named ‘Plumber of the Year.’ But if that’s the job you spend your life labouring at, then the recognition of your peers is enormously rewarding, a mark of their respect for you and your work. It’s confirmation that you are doing the right thing, even in the tough times, and encouragement to continue improving. And to any potential new customers, it’s a mark of re-assurance and quality.

At Acceleris, we take awards seriously.

In our world creativity and innovation aren’t just ‘nice to have’ qualities; they are vital to survive and thrive as a business. We are continually looking and learning to ensure we develop and deliver campaigns that produce the desired results for clients and that stand-out in a world that can struggle to process an over-supply of information.  That means keeping an eye on what our peers are doing.  And the range of innovative thinking, compelling campaigns and effective messaging never ceases to impress.

So when we picked up the ‘Agency of the Year’ title in the UK Public Sector Communication Awards at The Emirates in London recently (yes it was an alcohol fuelled evening of celebration, or so I am told by the team who attended!) for the second year in succession and the third time in five years, it was recognition of the consistent quality of our work and the commitment and abilities of our teams. The award sits alongside the ‘Issues and Reputation Management’ trophy we collected at the European Communications Excellence Awards in Stockholm at the end of last year, the second time in three years we had scooped that prestigious accolade (and, yes, we did pick up a shiny trophy!). In both cases we were up against large and well respected national and international agencies and in-house teams, which made victory all the sweeter.



 Since we launched the agency a decade ago we have collected some 60 awards for a wide range of campaigns delivered for clients in the public, private and third sectors in the UK and for a number in Europe. They are displayed proudly on our office walls. They are not there to tell us how ‘great’ we are. Rather they serve two distinct purposes:-

  • To act as a daily reminder of the standards we have set ourselves so that we never complacently rest on our laurels but constantly strive to improve
  • To provide silent but impressive witness for visitors to the quality of our work and our high professional standards

In our world in particular, it’s very easy to say good things about yourself and a one man band working from a back bedroom can, with an attractive website, give the image of being a fully resourced agency.

So, you won’t find us laughing at the ‘Plumber of the Year’ or ‘Aerial installer of the Year’ winners for example.
We know just how much it means to them.
Because it means just as much to us.


Public Sector Communications Awards - Agency of the Year 2016

Public Sector Communications Awards – Agency of the Year 2016

The key to cereal success?

Katie Wadsworth - Copywriter / Account Executive, Acceleris

Katie Wadsworth – Copywriter / Account Executive

On Monday 4th July, cereal giant Kellogg’s opened its first ever restaurant in New York’s Times Square. While it may seem a little strange to open a café dedicated to cereal, Kellogg’s is not the first, with similar outfits including the Cereal Killer Café in Camden and Brick Lane, London. Both businesses are capitalising on the experience economy which has evolved from the modern consumer’s desire to interact with brands and experience something which is, ultimately, Instagram worthy.

Kellogg’s is not the first brand to tap into the experience economy; other companies include Magnum which has created a series of ‘pleasure stores’ where customers can craft their perfect Magnum from a variety of indulgent toppings, and Italian fashion house Armani, which has its own luxury hotels in Milan and Dubai.

Magnum London

Source: Magnum

The move by the cereal giant to open a café comes as it was recently revealed that in the past 15 years, cereal sales have fallen by almost 30 per cent*. Cereal companies are often vilified for producing products containing too much sugar, fat and salt, and now they are struggling to impress a cynical, health-conscious audience.

Once considered the only breakfast option, and a fast one at that, cereal is no longer quick enough to keep up with our busy lives, with consumers favouring breakfast bars or yoghurt which they can transport more easily. Almost 40 per cent of millennials surveyed by Mintel* also said cereal was an inconvenient breakfast choice because they had to clean up after eating it!

Kellogg’s has engaged top American chef, Christina Tosi, to devise new recipes from the home favourite cereals, including creations such as ‘Pistachio & Lemon’ (spiked Frosted Flakes and Special K) and ‘The Circus’ (Raisin Bran, peanuts and banana chips). Andrew Shripka, associate director of brand marketing at Kellogg’s, said: “We could have put a great recipe on the box. But this is much more powerful.”

‘Milk-based creations’ on display at Kellogg’s New York. Photograph: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

‘Milk-based creations’ on display at Kellogg’s New York. Photograph: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

It appears the company didn’t want to just stage a PR stunt – although the opening has been covered by everyone from Reuters, to The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian – instead they are trying to encourage consumers to experiment and look at cereal as a dining event rather than a mundane experience. Each customer also gets a free toy, which goes some way to recapturing the joy of childhood!

Tapping into the experience economy is a good way for companies to engage with their consumers, and while it may initially be the novelty factor which will draw people in to the café, the space will serve an important function for Kellogg’s in the long term. Other brands that have set up cafés, for example Chobani – an American yoghurt brand which opened a café in New York in 2012 – has seen its café double in size since opening, with sales growing annually by 40 per cent.

Chobani’s New York café has also served as a place for the company to try out new items and a number of new product lines, including a range of mezze dips, have been created following customer feedback and trials.

So while the venture may seem a little surreal at first mention, the Kellogg’s Times Square café could breathe new life into the brand and perhaps even become a cereal success!

Acceleris is no stranger to launching brands and has helped many companies – from local confectioners to large third sector organisations – build and maintain their reputations, both in the UK and worldwide. For more information on our credentials, take a look at our website.

*Mintel report, 2015

Positive Publicity or Compromised Credibility? Boaty McBoatface and Maritime PR

Ellie St George-Yorke, Account Director

Ellie St George-Yorke, Account Director

The compatibility of two largely disconnected spheres was put to the test earlier this year with the emergence of Boaty McBoatface as the people’s winner of the Natural Environment Research Council’s (NERC) #NameOurShip campaign. The maritime community has not often found itself on the receiving end of considerable public enthusiasm. NERC’s decision to allow the public to suggest and vote for names for the new £200 million arctic research vessel represented a concerted effort to rectify this.

Yet Boaty McBoatface, a seemingly innocent suggestion, triggered a conflict between the necessity of harnessing public engagement, and the importance of maintaining national reputation and industry credibility. Boaty arguably did more to boost the prominence of the maritime sector in the popular psyche than previous campaigns, granting accessibility to a previously ill informed and often indifferent public. It is possible to state with relative confidence that the inauguration of the new research vessel would have gone relatively unmarked had it not been for this jocular suggestion.

However, the name also risked undermining the significance of seafaring activities in general and the work of the vessel itself. Historically, Britain has a proud reputation at sea, both in terms of naval operations and in advancing maritime research. RRS Boaty McBoatface hardly screams scientific innovation and research excellence. RRS Sir David Attenborough, however – the name adopted by NERC and the Government in spite of the public winner – embodies this effortlessly.

It is unsurprising, then, that the campaign was accompanied by such fierce debate between unwavering advocates of democratic decision-making, and industry professionals who no doubt found the name suggestion mildly insulting. Such a feeling is not without reason, particularly when considering the contribution, and the sacrifices, made by those who spend their working lives at sea.

Suffering from a severe bout of national sea blindness, the majority of the public possesses little understanding of the extent to which Britain is heavily reliant upon the maritime industry. The sector is a major employer, directly employing over 200,000 people last year. It also greatly facilitates economic activity, with 95% of national imports and 75% of exports being transported via sea. A 2014 Seafarers UK survey revealed that only 2% of the public were aware of this.

Source: CNN

Source: CNN

But more alarming is the fact that the maritime industry has an exceptionally high occupational mortality rate, posing a higher risk to employees than any other sector. Naming a research vessel Boaty McBoatface does not sit so well alongside this fact, undoubtedly trivialising the inherent danger. Alongside the sobering news of fatalities at sea, the issue suddenly loses all traces of hilarity.

It is understandable, therefore, that many industry professionals were reluctant to subject the naming of an important vessel to the whim of what is essentially an ill-informed public. Even James Hand, the man behind Boaty, recognised the need for a more befitting name, choosing to vote for Sir David Attenborough and offering an apology to NERC for any embarrassment caused.

The decision to opt for an alternative name has seen considerable public criticism levelled against NERC and the government for backtracking on an apparently successful campaign. Yet their handling of the situation serves as an example of astute PR management and shrewd judgement. In christening one of the remotely operated submarines Boaty McBoatface, the spirit of public enthusiasm has been kept alive. It signifies a desire for popular longevity, and a continued public connection to the industry.

Naming the main vessel RRS Sir David Attenborough, a suggestion which actually came fourth in the competition, is a further nod to public sentiment. A man whose popularity rivals that of international pop stars, Attenborough enjoys an exclusive position within the heart of the nation. His name alone perhaps possesses enough clout to ensure a firm following of the vessel’s projects and findings. In reaching this outcome, NERC has offered itself a life raft for avoiding any potential future PR crisis that would result from such an indelicate name.

Yet despite the unanticipated result of the campaign, it did succeed in fuelling public discussion around a topic that otherwise could have gone widely overlooked. There is a glaring need for the maritime industry to become more public-facing and engaging to encourage greater understanding and appreciation of the work of seafarers and the sector itself. Doing so would offer a remedy to the dreaded sea blindness; the very thing contributing to the sector’s omission from popular interest and understanding.


Source: Daily Mail

We can already see the industry slipping once more out of mainstream media. The petition launched by the public to reverse the decision to give the boat a different name has received only a tiny proportion of signatures compared to the number of votes for Boaty itself. To prevent this level of public disengagement the industry needs to readily embrace and exploit communications channels open to them. A greater willingness to utilise all forms of media to reach a wider audience would help to sustain the visibility initially granted by the NERC campaign.

There is often a tendency in the industry to shy away from engaging with a mainstream public however it is possible for this public success to be reflected across the entire sector, where the conversation has been muted for too long. Boaty McBoatface, the accidental product of an inviting PR campaign, accorded the industry the public recognition it deserves, albeit short-lived. It may have been a controversial wave of publicity, but can we see another one on the horizon?

This blog first appeared in the Nautilius International Telegraph in July.

Where’s the link? Top tips for boosting your LinkedIn profile

Dan Stead, Account Executive

Dan Stead, Account Executive

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you have a LinkedIn account but how many of us keep on-top of it regularly and keep it current with the freshest content and updates? While its primary function may be to act as a kind of online CV, showcasing your talents to the web, it’s important to realise the effect your own profile, and those of your employees, has on your business.

The social network for businesses now encompasses 400 million users and businesses across 24 different languages. With all that noise online, we must ensure we have stellar LinkedIn accounts to stand out from the crowd and promote our businesses on the ‘World’s Largest Professional Network’. Let’s take a look at exactly how LinkedIn can be used to promote your business and boost its reputation.


LinkedIn is obviously a must-have resource for both employers and employees but how exactly can your individual professional profile help to improve your business’ professional profile?

LinkedIn is the best tool out there to show that your company employs a skilled and qualified workforce. It’s important to keep your profile up-to-date with recent training, experience and achievements. It’s also important to be active. Active LinkedIn users are people who engage and interact with relevant groups, sharing appropriate content and contributing to debates. These people are more likely to be recognised as thought-leaders and therefore will make their employers stand-out.


What can businesses do to boost their own profiles to make their products or services more appealing? 

Employers should look to build their own brand if they want to source new business opportunities and also attract the best talent. Much like individual profiles, businesses should be looking to market their own specialist services, products or expertise. They must work in tandem with their employees to share updates with connections and drive LinkedIn users to their company page. This can be done through creating original content such as news and blogs.


Take a look at our Top Tips for LinkedIn best practice below:

Individual profile

  • Ensure your profile is up-to-date with previous work experience and job roles with a description of each including your duties and responsibilities
    • WHY? This will demonstrate that you have the relevant experience to be working in your current role and will convince others to trust your judgement
  • Join the debate – request to join relevant groups and begin discussions
    • WHY? This will boost your own presence, in turn positioning your business as a thought-leader
  • Increase your professional connection network and request to have your skills endorsed by reputable individuals
    • WHY? This will show that your company employs skilled personnel

Company profile

  • Share original content as updates from your company page but also encourage your employees to share content which redirects their connections back to your page
    • WHY? Your employees will have connections that your business doesn’t, it’s important to maximise the reach your updates will have
  • Invite clients and customers to interact with your page to provide feedback on your updates
    • WHY? Positive feedback will give your company’s reputation a boost and encourage LinkedIn users to approach you to conduct new business
  • Use analytics to review how effective your updates have been
    • WHY? It’s important to recognise if a strategy isn’t working so you can change the way you share updates or create content in the future


All in all, LinkedIn provides users with an accessible platform through which, if used effectively, can promote both yourself and your employer. If you follow our best practice guide, who knows what opportunities you might create!

Source: LinkedIn

Source: LinkedIn

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A New Look to Mark Our Tenth Anniversary

Peter Davenport, Chief Executive at Acceleris

By Peter Davenport, Chief Executive

If you are reading this, then you will already have seen that we look rather different today than we did before!

We have a new brand, a new logo and a new website to mark this, our tenth anniversary year.

But why change what has served us so well to date?

Well, it’s not just because we want to avoid the ‘cobbler’s children’  syndrome, where he’s so busy caring for the footwear of customers that his own family are walking around with holes in the soles of their shoes. We spend a lot of our time advising clients on the importance of brand and reputation, of how to remain consistent to their core values but yet still be relevant and contemporary in a world that is changing at ever-increasing speed. A key element of that is how you look to the outside world and what your brand and logo is intended to communicate.

We founded Acceleris in November 2006, just a few months after the first ever tweet was sent and YouTube was launched. And if you want to reflect on how the world we work in has changed and the pace at which it has – and still is – developing, consider these simple but staggering statistics. There are now 500 million tweets sent a day around the world (that’s 200 billion a year); YouTube attracts one billion views of its videos each month.

Breaking through all that ‘noise’ calls for communications that are creative, not for their own sake but to achieve a client’s objectives.

Over the years we have earned a reputation for our creative approach to communications for clients in diverse sectors, from commercial fishing to social housing, from health and wellbeing to automotive, from the corporate world  to the charity sector – and at a national and international level. We are proud of our growing collection of awards that are a testament to that reputation. It’s something we never take for granted and we work on it every single day.

As communications channels proliferate and the attention span of individuals shortens as a coping mechanism for the daily deluge of information they have to process, then choosing the right combination of activity to deliver client objectives becomes ever more crucial. That means we are constantly learning and developing our knowledge and skills.

So, for all these reasons, we decided to embrace ‘creative communications’ as the core definition of what we do. We also wanted a new brand that summed up our approach to communications, which is to listen before we speak, and really get to understand a client’s business, its challenges and objectives before we propose a campaign or course of action.

And like any good branding exercise, we’ve carried it right through all aspects of our agency, including across our offices in Harrogate and London. It’s given us a fresh, bright and stimulating working environment.

We’re delighted with the result.

The new Acceleris logo

Our shiny new logo!

But there is one thing that hasn’t changed and will remain a constant part of our DNA. And that is our absolute commitment to delivering outstanding service and for being a team that our clients and partners really enjoy working with. After all, in this digitally connected world, it’s still people relationships that count!

Please feel free to visit our new website and check out our new look for yourself: