Staff News

An Intern’s Insight: Henry, Research Assistant

Acceleris offers internship through Disability Action Yorkshire

Henry Acceleris Research Assistant Disability Action Yorkshire internships

Henry, Acceleris Research Assistant

“Going to Acceleris has helped me feel more confident in myself and more positive about finding a job…”

Henry recently joined the Acceleris Academy programme as an intern through the agency’s partnership with Disability Action Yorkshire. Henry, 20, is from Ripon and is currently enrolled at York College studying Hospitality, having also done an ICT course last year.

He joins us for a couple of hours each week as Research Assistant, supporting the team on vital tasks such as media coverage books, researching diary dates and events, and creating spreadsheets. He has even helped with magazine content plans for the Writers Inc. department.

We sat down with Henry in between tasks to get to know him a bit better. Continue reading

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.”

Hunting For Awards – A Winning Team

The annual Acceleris away day is an opportunity for team-building, improving skillsets and most importantly of all, a healthy dose of competition between colleagues.

This year we embarked upon a Great Yorkshire Treasure Hunt set by our Chairman Nigel. With four teams working through six pages of cryptic clues and directions to take us round the beautiful Yorkshire countryside, it was a race against the (mileage) clock to answer all the questions in the shortest distance.

The winning team, Not Bad Cod Be Batter, pipped Run AMC to the winning post with a mileage difference of just 0.4 and a host of winning selfies.

But it’s not just away days we know about winning. On Friday, we were thrilled to find out we’ve been shortlisted for seven CIPR PRide Awards for the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire region and this year we celebrated winning more than 50 awards in our agency lifetime.

Amongst our gongs we count three European Excellence Awards we’ve won in four years for our Issues and Reputation Management work and the three UK Public Sector Agency of the Year Awards as well as CIPR’s pub quiz team of the year, we’re proud of them all!

But why enter Awards? It’s not just because we’re competitive, honest. Being recognised by our industry builds credibility and recognises the creativity of our team and the results we’ve achieved for clients.

We’ve had clients approach us after seeing news of our awards in the papers or on our website, and the Award wall in our Harrogate office never fails to impress visitors.

Acceleris is a boutique agency with some very specialist credentials and campaigns, but we’ve often fought off big corporate contenders to win Awards – last year we beat IBM and Lidl in the Issues and Reputation Management category, plus – believe it or not – the Catholic Church! To be recognised for our creative thinking and campaigns and hold our own against some big players is testament to just how hard we work for our clients.

The CIPR’s PRide Awards celebrate the very best PR campaigns and teams in the region and we’ve got stiff competition across the region.

We’ve been shortlisted in seven categories (out of seven we entered if you must know) for a range of different campaigns, including our work launching disability organisation Purple, promoting greater autism awareness in airports for Experia, celebrating 100 years of maritime charity Seafarers UK and helping manage the reputation of Britain’s seafarers with trade union Nautilus International.

The results will be announced at an awards dinner on 30 November, but to read a bit more about our award-winning campaigns, take a look at our Awards cabinet.

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.

Ten Years of Acceleris in Photos

Simon Baylis, Account Director

After ten years at Acceleris I will be shortly leaving to take up a new role.

Instead of a long and tearful goodbye note I’ve collected my favourite photos (good and bad) that I think tell the story of the agency’s first ten years.

 

The Car Buyers’ Survival School

The Car Buyers’ Survival School

Back in time to 2007 and our first major campaign for Motors.co.uk (there would be many others) featuring motoring celeb Vicki Butler-Henderson. This was significant because it won our first award (Silver at the CIPR Pride Awards).

 

 

Bolton at Home

Bolton at Home

The launch of Bolton at Home’s ‘Door to Door’ project in 2008, featuring a fresh-faced gold medal winning Olympian (on the right). This was a film involving hundreds of local people (and the odd celeb) which was projected onto buildings in the town centre. Peter Kay was busy doing his big shop.

 

 

Motors.co.uk

Motors.co.uk

I had to include this – a gruelling 800 mile round trip across the UK to promote Motors.co.uk and their new in-car Tai Chi (it helps motorists to relax behind the wheel!) We still have those outfits somewhere.

 

 

NYnet

NYnet

This was for NYnet publicising the roll out of superfast broadband in North Yorkshire. I can’t remember why putting Alessandra (again, sorry!) on a train track helped but the story picked up lots of coverage. Alessandra was unhurt.

 

 

Vantage Motor Group

Vantage Motor Group

The launch of the Vantage Community Drive and one of my favourite photos (Chris North) capturing the action. This was a competition for our client Vantage Motor Group which saw community groups benefiting from cash grants.

 

 

Shipwrecked Mariner’s Society (Source: Kate Westaway)

Shipwrecked Mariner’s Society

‘Celebrations of the Sea’ for the Shipwrecked Mariner’s Society (Kate Westaway). This was a fantastic photography exhibition to help raise awareness of the important work of this maritime charity. We’ve since run an annual photography competition which has grown in popularity each year.

 

 

Remade in Britain

Remade in Britain

This photo must be the most widely used in Acceleris history. Shot by (Simon Dewhurst) in a skip for the price of a used Mondeo, it helped launch upcycling business Remade in Britain.

 

 

The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO)

The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO)

‘Navigating a Perfect Media Storm’ – for the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) (Chris North again). This photo accompanied a wide reaching campaign to promote the interests of UK fisherman in the media and helped kick-start the agency’s maritime specialism. It also marked the agency’s first international award (2013 European Communications Excellence Awards – ‘Issues and reputation management).

 

 

NHS IQ

NHS IQ

NHS IQ and the Wheelchair Leadership Alliance (Warren King). This was a striking image of Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson with Alliance members launching a campaign to improve wheelchair provision in the NHS. This tells a complex story with a very simple photo.

 

 

Team Acceleris!

Acceleris

There are so many glam photos of the team to choose from but this shows what happens if you take everyone to the outskirts of Leeds, lock them in a yurt and add a free bar.

 

Thank you to everyone, clients and colleagues for a memorable decade and enjoy the next ten years.

 

Simon

Well, That Was Quite A Year!!!

Peter Davenport, Chief Executive at Acceleris

If there was a single, unifying factor to a calendar of events that shook up the accepted order of things it was, ‘Expect the Unexpected.’

 

The UK voting to quit the EU, America electing Donald Trump as President and Leicester City winning the Premier League. Each and every one against the prevailing odds, confounding the experts, defying the pollsters.

 

To the pessimists, it meant that ‘nothing will ever be the same again.’ To the optimists it meant, ‘nothing will ever be the same again.’

 

Diametrically opposing views of the same situation!

 

So what does the future hold?

 

The same experts who so confidently, but mistakenly, predicted the outcomes of those events above – and many others – are now in full flow forecasting what is to come. The reality is that no-one really knows what 2017 holds other than ‘uncertainty.’ At times like this, you just have hold your nerve and focus on the things you can affect rather than over-worrying about the things you can’t.

 

Here at Acceleris it’s also been quite a year.  Like many other businesses, we experienced the pre and post EU Referendum doldrums as clients struggled to understand the implications for them and either cancelled or delayed projects. But with the dawning realisation that, apart from in the financial markets where the pound took a battering, in the ‘real-world’ of day-to-day business, not a lot had changed since the vote, and may not until the result of the Article 50 negotiations are known. The final months of 2016 proved to be exceptionally busy with new clients and new projects on existing accounts.

 

The year also marked 10 years since the agency was founded with a vision to deliver outstanding service and innovative PR and Communications solutions to clients throughout the UK and in Europe. Whilst we always strive to live up to our vision – for instance delivering our first VR project for a major client this month –  it’s especially rewarding when those qualities are recognised by our peers.

 

And in 2016 we continued to add to our trophy cabinet and awards wall.

 

For the second year in succession, we were named  Agency of the Year’ at the UK Public Sector Communications Awards at a ceremony at The Emirates Stadium in London in July and this month in Berlin, we won the Issues and Reputation Management’ trophy at the prestigious European Communications Excellence Awards, beating off challenges from the likes of IBM and Lidl. It’s a remarkable third time in four years we have collected this award – in Munich in 2013 and Stockholm in 2015 when we beat Unilever, BASF and BP to the accolade. We also won two Golds in the regional CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations) PRide Awards.

 

I believe these awards are testimony to the intelligent, insightful and innovative way in which we approach our work. We can certainly do ‘fun’ but we also excel at the ‘serious.’

 

The turn of the year also marks a time of personal change.

 

For the last decade I have been privileged to lead Acceleris, latterly as CEO. From the New Year, I am changing my relationship with the agency of which I am so proud, to facilitate a more flexible way of working. I am stepping down as Chief Executive, leaving the running of the agency in the more than capable hands of my much admired colleague, Managing Director Louise Vaughan, to work as a strategic consultant across some key client accounts and to focus on business development, something I particularly enjoy.

 

I have no doubt that Acceleris will go on to build on its impressive achievements to date and I look forward to playing a somewhat  different – but hopefully valuable – part in the next stage of its story.

From Projects to Parenthood

Charley Oakes - Senior Copywriter and Editorial Project Manager

Charley Oakes – Senior Copywriter and Editorial Project Manager

This week I go on maternity leave and the biggest ‘project’ of my life gets ever closer. In the run-up to my temporary departure from Acceleris, time has become more of a theme than usual. There’s an irony there, in that children and good time management are not natural partners (or so I deduce from the more experienced parents at Acceleris!)

Time is an essential consideration when it comes to day-to-day work at our agency. We operate in a sector that is highly creative and results-driven, but also deadlines-driven. Whether it’s plotting milestones in the run-up to a major event, or adhering to a detailed schedule to deliver a new website or publication, effective time management is vital. You’ll hear us utter plenty of mantras here to keep ourselves and our clients on track. ‘Eat that frog’ is one of our favourites, from the book of the same name, the idea being that you start your day by doing the thing you least want to do, which makes the rest of the day by comparison seem more productive. (We don’t actually eat frogs.)

frog

There’s also plenty of time-related buzzwords flying around, such as ‘capacity’ (shudder), ‘resourcing’ (cringe) and ‘allocations’ (ouch), that are nevertheless essential aspects of effective time management.

For someone whose working life revolves around schedules and planners to ensure that client projects are delivered as required, I find the prospect of motherhood throwing time management out of the window, at least at first, refreshing. I follow a number of parent blogs, one of my favourites being Man vs. Baby by Matt Coyne, who marked his son Charlie’s first birthday with a lovely piece recently where he described his post-baby home as “a place where time is chewed up and we are spat out”. He goes on to say “who could have possibly thought that all this was exactly what our home had been lacking?” This seeming contradiction is highly reassuring from the point of view of an expectant parent!

Most of the questions in my head at the moment are about time. Will I get everything done in time? When will Oakes Junior arrive? How many hours of sleep will we get? Will Mr Oakes and I have at least some time to ourselves here and there, even if it’s just five minutes?

ga1

Preparing for parenthood fills your mind with all sorts of contradictions. For example, I’m both reluctant and willing to depart today. I’ve been with Acceleris for nearly eight years so maternity leave represents the longest time I’ve ever spent away from an office and a talented and supportive team of people that are very special to me. However, I also don’t mind admitting I’m looking forward to a few naps before our little human arrives and transforms sleep, time and life as we know it…

See you later, my dear workmates and clients. I now leave (at least for a little while) the Writers Inc. department in the capable hands of my experienced colleagues and fellow copywriters. By the time I’m back I’m sure it will feel like no time has passed at all!

Acceleris: a review of 2015

The end of one year and the beginning of another is always a time for both reflection and anticipation. Reflection on the successes – and disappointments – of the past 12 months and anticipation of what the coming year has in store. In an uncertain world, however, the only certainty is that events will happen that none of us can currently predict.

With  a presidential election in the United States, a potential EU referendum in the UK, the continuing migrant crisis enveloping Europe and the insidious spread of terrorism, it can sometimes feel as though we are at the mercy of tumultuous events beyond our control. Institutions that once seemed to be the pillars of a stable society – Parliament, the Church, banking, the media, business and even sport – have all been mired in controversy.

So it is important at this time of year to reflect on the success of the things upon which we do have control.

In the case of Acceleris, on the verge of our 10th anniversary year, there has been much of which we can be justly proud.

We have won major national and international awards – named  as ‘Large Agency of the Year’ in the UK Public Sector Communications Awards held at The Emirates Stadium in London and winner of the fiercely contested ‘Issues and Reputation Management’ trophy in the prestigious European Communications Excellence Awards in Stockholm. Such accolades are credit to the creativity, intelligence and commitment of the people who make up the Acceleris team in Yorkshire and London.

We recently won another European Excellence Award in 'Issues and Reputation Management'

We recently won another European Excellence Award in ‘Issues and Reputation Management’

We have delivered campaigns for international clients  in multiple languages in almost a dozen countries; we have launched new companies, re-branded existing ones, worked with Paralympian athlete Baroness (Tanni) Grey-Thompson to get a better deal for wheelchair users, produced our first hard back book to commemorate a charity client’s remarkable 150 year history and seen our team presented to its Patron, HRH The Princess Royal. We have seen our clients dominate the front pages of national newspapers, feature in television and radio news programmes and increase their social media profiles to positive effect.

We launched the Wheelchair Leadership Alliance this summer with the help of Baroness Grey-Thompson

We launched the Wheelchair Leadership Alliance this summer with the help of Baroness Grey-Thompson

In an increasingly ‘noisy’ world, where the amount of information is already at levels which the human brain finds hard to assimilate, the challenge for all organisations – be they in  the public, private or third sector – is how to achieve ‘cut-through’ with their messages to ensure they reach the audiences they want to address.

That’s what we will be working to achieve for all our clients in 2016. We will do it by retaining a consistent desire to deliver a high quality service based on intelligence, insight and innovation allied to an enthusiasm to embrace new ideas and new thinking.

To all our clients, partners and friends, we thank you for your support in 2015 and wish you a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Experience worth working for

Following the financial downturn I think it’s fair to say the issues of employment and skills training for young people have risen in importance. The economic and social cost of allowing a generation to leave school with fewer opportunities has prompted many businesses and organisations to act to improve the situation – including several Acceleris…