Monthly Archives: August 2015

Rewriting the book on agency editorial services

The Royal Alfred Seafarers' Society Anniversary Book, Home From Sea

The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society Anniversary Book, Home From Sea

It’s not every day you get to shake hands with a senior member of the Royal Family, but Louise, Ellie and I got to do just that, when we met HRH The Princess Royal at a client event.

This was a very proud moment for all at Acceleris, for a number of reasons:

1)      Princess Anne is one of the busiest royals, with a wide range of public roles. She supports or is Patron of 327 organisations (only The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and The Prince of Wales represent more). In 2014, she carried out nearly 530 engagements in the UK and overseas. She had four appointments that day alone, and reportedly shakes 300 hands a week – that’s 15,600 a year!

2)      She is Patron of maritime charity The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, a long-standing Acceleris client, which this year celebrated its 150th anniversary of caring for former seafarers and their dependants. The Princess attended the anniversary event in July as the charity’s VIP guest and to present it with a new Royal Charter.

3)      She was the first to receive a copy of the Society’s 150th anniversary book Home From Sea – the first book to be produced by Acceleris!

Louise meets HRH

Acceleris’ Managing Director, Louise Vaughan, meets Princess Anne

I was also lucky enough to meet HRH!

I was also lucky enough to meet HRH!

Home From Sea charts the Royal Alfred’s history from its foundation as “a hospital for worn-out and disabled merchant seamen” in 1865, to the specialist care home and housing in Surrey that it is today. The brief was specific – to produce an engaging and informative record of the organisation that should be “picture heavy, wording light and suitable for a coffee table”.

Writers Inc., Acceleris’ editorial project division, really showed its mettle during what was a rewarding but often challenging task.

Strong client relationships really bolster successful projects. As this was to be a record of its first 150 years, the Royal Alfred understandably placed a lot of emphasis on getting this project right and set up a special ‘book committee’ of trustees and staff to work with us, each with their own valuable skill sets and insight into the Society.

Then: an early meeting with the book committee

Then: an early meeting with the book committee

Now: the book committee with the finished article!

Now: the book committee with the finished article!

After initial group meetings, the production process took 18 months. Efficient management was vital, covering:

  • Editorial services – working alongside co-author John Allan, a maritime historian, we wrote several chapters and edited and proofread the entire book.
  • Graphic design – it was a pleasure to partner with Rebus Design on the publication’s design work. They are an efficient, professional and creative team who had worked with us on Royal Alfred previously on its Annual Report and advertising.
  • Print – local suppliers Harrogate Printing did a sterling job, offering advice and support at every turn and producing a top-class product, complete with hardback, gold leaf and immaculate finishing throughout.
  • Research – in addition to our own insight and information built up over seven years of working with the charity, we delved into the charity’s archive, a veritable treasure trove of old photographs, poetry, cartoons, documents, press cuttings and personal journals and recollections from key personnel going back decades.

On 26 May, our book went to print, and on 3 July, the first copy was placed into the hands of Princess Anne.

Commander Brian Boxall-Hunt MBE, Chief Executive of the Society, said: “I am immensely pleased and proud of the book, which met and surpassed our expectations. Since the launch event we have had some very good feedback from residents, relatives, staff, partner organisations and other external sources. No one could fail to like it and be impressed. We have a book of which we can be justifiably proud and a fitting tribute to the Royal Alfred.”

Hear more from Brian here:

Now we look to the future and new similar opportunities. As technology evolves and shapes the way we consume content, it is heartening to confirm that the print publication still has its place and is often the most appropriate communications tool for some organisations and their audiences. The Royal Alfred now has an attractive, visual record of its first 150 years and, with this client’s support, we look forward to building on this new specialism for the agency.

For more information on this or other projects, please contact Charley Oakes on 0845 4567251 or email 

Can we believe everything we read online?

Parliamentary scandals, rate-rigging banks, excessive bonus culture, police corruption, phone hacking – institutions we held in high public regard have all contributed to a lack of public trust. So, when it comes to our news, who do we believe?

A recent survey carried out by the BBC showed consumers trust ‘Auntie’ as their main news source significantly more than any other news outlet, with ITV, Sky, Channel 4 and the Guardian making up the top five. Whilst newspapers have spent years building up a loyal readership, broadcasters appear far more trusted in the eyes of the public and with phone hacking and the Leveson enquiry in the not-too-distant past, print journalists have a bad reputation in the eyes of the public.

The BBC is the most trusted source of news, followed by other broadcast media

The BBC is the most trusted source of news, followed by other broadcast media

And whilst The Daily Mail might have a stronghold on the world with its website counterpart the Mail Online, when asked to rate news providers, many would consider the Mail a less trustworthy news source than commercial radio, Google News and free newspaper The Metro.

Interestingly, Twitter, BuzzFeed and Vice also score higher than newspapers The Sun and The Daily Star in terms of trustworthy sources when ranked by consumers. The Star, Sun and Mail also scored low in measures of bias – making up the bottom three for consumers.

So what does this mean in the increasingly frantic world of traditional print vs new media? People may be directed to the news through social media or online sites like Buzzfeed and Vice, but their trusted sources tell them the detail and what they need to know.

When I worked on the web desk at one of the nationals, the speed of everything was frantic. “The Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant – if you don’t get a picture of her on her wedding day as the lead story in the next two minutes you might as well forget it.” “There’s been a shooting in an American school – get the names of the children now or we’ll have missed the scoop.”

These days, news breaks on Twitter and other social media and media websites are at break-neck speed trying to catch up, whilst newspapers are relegated to in-depth comment and analysis pieces the next day looking into the background detail around the events.

Journalists are now working so quickly, chasing leads and writing pieces, quality suffers

Journalists are now working so quickly, chasing leads and writing pieces, quality suffers

Yet with everyone working so fast, standards also drop. Certain outlets are known to operate on a headline first, facts later basis – and the journalism suffers for it, with readers beginning to question the lack of evidence or feeling duped when they later read a correction. With a loss of sub-editors maintaining standards, what we read online is no longer as scrutinised before being published.

Journalists have to undertake training to understand the law, learn how to report certain situations and the ethics surrounding writing the news, but with blogs and social media challenging traditional news sites as a place to access breaking news, who is writing the news anymore? And are they bound by the same reporting restrictions? Does this give a new meaning to the freedom of the press, where anyone can report the news, or are we sacrificing details, analysis and scrutiny for the sake of a quick story?

Take the most recent super-injunction being discussed in the print press – though The Sun has been gagged from revealing the name of the celebrities involved, enough hints about the story has led to both parties being identified on social media. Whilst newspapers are bound by the legal implications of a super-injunction, many online don’t realise the rules surrounding revealing those involved, challenging the ethics and strict reporting rules journalists are bound by.

The Acceleris team has a range of diverse backgrounds – from traditionally trained journalists to new media, social media experts and content specialists. Our copywriters understand readers and how to establish trust and as media experts, we understand better than most the attitudes and behaviours of different readers and how best to target media for our clients.

The media is a changing sector and newspapers still aren’t quite sure how to adapt to the market – and with these latest figures showing broadcasters are way ahead of the game and social media and news sites are becoming increasingly influential, a rapid reform is needed to regain the trust of once loyal readers.

How divided attention can multiply results

It’s no secret that today’s media landscape is continually evolving and transforming. Technology is affecting how consumers receive and process information and we as PRs must be adept as to how best to respond.

According to a recent Communications Market Report by Ofcom “we hit our peak confidence and understanding of digital communications and technology when we are in our mid-teens; this drops gradually up to our late 50s and then falls rapidly from 60 and beyond”.

16-24 year olds now consume more media than ever before

16-24 year olds now consume more media than ever before

Even though things have changed in terms of how we consume media, we have a huge opportunity as PR practitioners to make brands exciting and desirable for new generations, as the ‘Millennium Generation’ of digitally savvy 15 year-olds are now empowered to engage with brands more than ever before. In a number of years these teens will be financially solvent enough to choose which brands they consume and ultimately decide the success of these businesses in the future.

The ever-popular smartphone is a portal to multiple media

The ever-popular smartphone is a portal to multiple media

The added noise of multiple devices being used simultaneously divides consumer attention. With multi-platform consumer culture and purchasing behaviour, comes the need for increasingly multi-platform brand messaging and communication to not only attract and maintain consumer attention, but stimulate a two-way conversation between both parties.

Integrated campaigns

This Old Spice campaign is a great example of a well-executed multi-platform approach to stimulate engagement and was one of the first to successfully incorporate social media channels into its approach. The campaign built on the brand’s famous TV adverts, by encouraging consumers to send questions to the ‘Old Spice guy’ on social media. The brand responded incredibly quickly to questions with over 200 individual videos, resulting in great exposure, engagement and praise from its target audience and PRs everywhere.

We’ve seen many brands, such as Snickers with ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ and Fosters ‘Good call’ campaigns, follow Old Spice’s lead to create successful integrated campaigns you can’t get away from or stop talking about. Rest assured there will be many more examples fighting for a place in your memory over the coming months.

As we continue to turn away from more traditional methods of communication, we as PRs must see the opportunities new channels present for brand engagement. By strategically working across multiple platforms and creating an identity that is not only appealing, but engaging to consumers, we can build relationships with our audiences and create brand loyalty and effective integrated campaigns.

For a full report of the Ofcom survey, go to: