Tag Archive for acceleris

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.

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

Is the North the new capital of PR?

Rebecca Jackson, Account Manager

Rebecca Jackson, Account Manager

PR tends to be considered as a London-centric industry but this discounts the wealth of opportunities outside the capital. With the Northern Powerhouse movement gathering momentum and so many agencies in the North performing so well, we take a look at how businesses in Yorkshire and beyond are stealing London’s limelight.    

A journalist by trade, I joined Acceleris from The Daily Telegraph in 2013, where I’d worked as a content editor across the title’s digital platforms as well as the paper. At such a pivotal time in how we consume our media and access our news, it was a great opportunity to explore what was then and still is now a relatively unknown future for the papers that have been institutions for decades.

A Yorkshire girl born and bred, I found London too faceless – ironic for a city with such diversity and so much culture –and it takes itself just a bit too seriously. I was quickly drawn back to Yorkshire, where I began looking at opportunities in PR.

With so many agencies in the region, it quickly disproved the London-centric image that PR only truly exists in the capital. The regional awards ceremonies show there’s a thriving scene in the North and there are digital centres and media hubs popping up across the region’s major cities.

As an agency with a wealth of public and third sector clients, I was drawn to Acceleris and its work in the charity, health and social housing sectors. With a headquarters in beautiful Harrogate, as well as an office on Oxford Street in London, I get the best of both worlds. I have the opportunity to travel to the capital to meet clients and journalists and take part in events, but am able to return to a region with spectacular scenery, a functioning housing market and a thriving cultural scene that gives London a run for its money.

There’s a real danger with both PR companies and businesses that they think London is the be-all and end-all when it comes to a career, in anything. With opportunities in the capital so competitive it’s short sighted not to look further afield and consider some of the non-London agencies.

There will often be better career and progression opportunities, as well as some of the best training and the opportunity to network with the top PR practitioners across the region. You also get to work with regional journalists and publications which are still essential ways of communicating with the local community. PR Week’s recent ‘Top 150 Agencies’ table includes 30 agencies from outside London – showing how regional agencies can hold their own against the London offices.

Working in a boutique agency has given me the opportunity to work closely with experts in their industry – something you just wouldn’t get in a big London agency.

Whilst some businesses might place emphasis on working with a big agency, the reality is that at any agency you will only get one account team and boutique agencies are often able to offer a more hands-on senior team. We work with clients regionally and nationally, and even internationally – where we have held our own against some of the biggest brands and agencies in the world, winning the European Excellence Award for Reputation and Issues Management not once, but twice in the last three years, the last time in 2015 beating off internal teams at BP, Unilever and BASF.

This message should especially be enforced with students – Leeds Beckett has one of the top PR courses in the country but we regularly lose our best talent to the capital. Even when I was at University in Liverpool and Sheffield, I was told the job opportunities are in London. This creates an ongoing loss of talent from regions and a densely populated job pool in the capital, with applications for vacancies becoming increasingly competitive.

That graduates in London struggle to break into such a fiercely competitive industry potentially alienates some of the most talented future PR people – my own personal experience of friends trying to break into the industry left many disillusioned and looking at other careers.

Regional agencies often have more to spend in terms of time and training – we regularly have work experience students in from our local schools and sixth forms and they all get stuck into real jobs, not just making tea and watering plants!

Acceleris also runs the Acceleris Academy, which includes paid internships and placements, as well as internal training for the wider team – with individual staff members often presenting on different client campaigns, sharing knowledge and best practice. Members of our team sit on the regional board of the CIPR, ensuring we keep up-to-date with the latest trends, learnings and opportunities in the industry.

London is often mooted as the place to be, especially for young creatives wanting to work in the media, but with the Northern Powerhouse really taking shape and towns across the country now boasting healthy agency scenes, there’s never been a better time to look at alternatives to the capital for your next career move.

Rebecca’s blog first appeared via PR Careers at http://prcareers.co.uk/london-vs-regions/

Keeping your reputation ship shape

Crucial in any industry – but why especially so for fishing?

The fishing industry has come in for a lot of undue criticism over the last few years, with NGOs, politicians, journalists and campaigners all lining up to take a swipe. Many of these attacks can be characterised as sweeping statements backed by precious little factual evidence. Yet, attacks like these, even when founded on incorrect allegations, can cause serious damage to a company’s, or an entire industry’s, reputation. Therefore it is crucial that reputation management is seen as a necessary element of running your business and keeping it shipshape.

Recent research from BDO LLP and the Quoted Companies Alliance has shown small and medium sized companies attach 28 per cent of their value directly to reputation. With the UK fishing industry valued at more than £860m[1], that’s clearly quite a significant amount. As the fishing industry comes in for constant and heavy scrutiny, far more so than many other industries, one misstep can have severe consequences.

So just how serious an impact can a badly managed crisis have? When thinking about reputation meltdown and its impact on business value, a recent example that comes to mind is that of Volkswagen. The company lost over a third of its value (35 per cent) in just two days following the ‘dieselgate’ crisis where the company was found to be using cheat devices during emissions tests. That’s a hit of approximately €25bn.

The emergence of a crisis is sometimes completely unavoidable. What we remain in control of, however, is the response. Thankfully this is by far the most important aspect of ensuring reputations remain untarnished. It’s not too much to say that a well-crafted response to a crisis can be the difference between a short term nuisance and a permanently damaged reputation.

Our advice would be to ensure you’re first, fast and frank in your response to the issue. By being proactive in taking control of your response to customers, employees, suppliers, wider stakeholders and the media, you can set the tone for how it’s perceived down the line. If you’re seen to be addressing the situation seriously with a joined up plan across all your communications channels you can actually improve rather than damage the perception of your business.

It sounds easy when you put it like that, but to swiftly and effectively manage a crisis you need to have a plan in place long before you can see a potential issue looming on the horizon. By having a procedure clearly laid out for dealing with any problems, you’ll ensure your response is professional and level-headed. This includes identifying all operational responsibilities to communicating your plan of action – with digital media now being at the forefront of any crisis strategy.

However, reputation management is not all about deflecting crises. Proactively promoting a consistent, positive message about a business and its operations can be a brilliant boost to a business’ reputation and pays dividends in ensuring any negative issues are placed in the context of a much wider, positive piece.

The Saucy Fish Company recently won plaudits and a prestigious award for its School of Fish campaign, which saw a team of children prepare, cook and serve Saucy Fish products to a packed central London restaurant. By planning such a creative event, along with the inevitable cuteness factor brought by kids, the company pulled off a great stunt which led to substantial positive feedback – and the approval and increased interest of potential customers.

At Acceleris, we recently ran a proactive campaign of our own to dispel some of the myths surrounding the European fishing industry, communicating a more positive, consumer-friendly face for the sector. Working with Europêche, the European trade body representing 80,000 fishermen and 45,000 vessels from nine EU countries, Acceleris developed the consumer information portal iFish, designed to address the growing consumer appetite for information on the industry. The site provides facts and figures on the industry while boosting its favourability in the eyes of the public. The associated campaign secured almost 200 pieces of press coverage across Europe, reaching an audience of 140 million people. Every piece of coverage contained a positive message about the work of the industry and the campaign beat global brands including BP, BASF and Unilever to the European Excellence Award in Communications in Stockholm last December.

Clearly, the fishing industry has made good headway in recent years on improving its reputation and it’s great to see sympathetic programmes like The Catch and Trawlermen Tales hitting the mainstream. On the back of this, it’s brilliant to see the Fishing News Awards return after an eight year break. The awards, set to be held in Aberdeen on 26 May 2016, will celebrate the best commercial fishermen from across the UK and Ireland. With a fantastic buzz already surrounding the awards, this kind of event is exactly what the industry needs to capitalise, and improve even further, on its recent reputation boost.

Of course, everyday activity is crucial too – managing reputation is a continuing job. Most businesses don’t have the resources to put on a constant stream of events of this scale – likewise, it’s not simply enough to start trying to garner good favour once a crisis is already on your plate. Regularly share good news stories and CSR initiatives so people know the good work your business does. Not only is this good practice generally, it may determine how people react if a crisis does hit your company. It will also help you to develop strong relationships within the media which are useful to promote good news, but could also become handy when you have not-so good news to share.

The UK fishing industry provides over 31,000 jobs[2], almost £1bn to the economy and food security to the nation and abroad. Yet, these positive messages are in danger of becoming drowned out by well financed and well-resourced detractors. It’s time the industry took back the narrative and restored fishermen’s position as the heroes of the seas.

[1] The value of the 756,000 tonnes of sea fish landed by UK vessels into the UK and abroad.

[2] There are 11,800 active fishermen and 19,511 fish processors in the UK as of 2014

Social media and the election

Mike Renton, Senior Account Executive

Mike Renton, Senior Account Executive

When the polling stations close, and the ballot boxes are finally opened, there is only one thing that will be certain on the 8th of May and that is the incredible effect social media has had on this general election.

59% of the UK population has a social media account, so the choice has been simple, you can either tweet your message in 5 seconds and it can reach 300 people or you can try and talk to 300 people in 3 days.

So acknowledging the importance of social media to the election, the main political parties have put an incredible amount of effort into reaching the electorate electronically.

The Conservative Party spent double what Labour spent on Facebook advertising in the run up to the election, as a result, it has 61% more likes than its main opposition.

Mike Renton - 06.05.15 - 6

But Labour, who hired some of Obama’s digital strategists for the election, is the most followed UK political party on Twitter, with 26 per cent more followers than the Conservatives. This is hardly surprising when out of the 1,440 tweets there are an hour using #GE2015, Labour is mentioned 26% times more than its main opposition.*

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