Monthly Archives: October 2015

An Evening With Leeds University’s History Makers


The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society 150th Anniversary book ‘Home from Sea’

“You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.”
― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

It’s been a constant source of disquiet for me that our brightest, youngest, most vital minds are sold the fallacy that the world is a barren wasteland of opportunity, with a paucity of enterprise and scant pickings, even for those who achieve straight A’s.

Such is the power of stories.

As someone who has never been out of work since age eight (family business making deliveries on a butcher’s bike) and who most definitely wasn’t a straight A student, I thought it was time to get out amongst our city’s young folk and learn for myself what was happening today.

During my time at the inward investment agency for Leeds City Region, I’d been privileged to hear from some truly inspirational leaders, from the emerging fields of fintech and med tech through to chief executives, operations managers, systems designers and many doctors, scientists, security experts and entrepreneurs. All of them confirmed the need for capable millennials in all sectors.

During my five years with HSBC Bank, I’d also seen inside numerous UK businesses and whether they were based in thriving metropolises or declining mill towns, they still relied on a pipeline of talent to help them achieve their business plans. I’ve always seen a glut of opportunity and plenty of need for workers to drive our economy, but with many of our jobs only coming into existence in the last five or ten years as digital disruption takes hold and transforms what we know, what skills do graduates need to fit in? And why are some graduates still keen to qualify in history?

When a colleague passed me the invitation to the History Society Careers Networking Dinner at Leeds University, I initially thought ‘what skills would history graduates have that we’d need here at Acceleris? Quickly followed by ‘what has history got to do with Public Relations?’ The answer to me quickly became ‘everything’.

At Acceleris, we deal in stories and use the power of a good story well told, to change opinions, win funding, stop hospitals from closing, fight misinformation and stop unsustainable practices. One of our most saleable skills is our detailed knowledge of the past and our ability to analyse the media and economic landscape to spot and tap into future trends and issues.

History is in our taxonomy and how we relate topics, themes and people to each other. Recently we’ve been appointed as project archivist for one of the UK’s oldest maritime charities, The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society. A role which required not only the conservation and cataloguing of images from 150 years of history, but also the authoring and preservation of a cherished story that would be told for years to come in a commemorative 106 page book produced by our Writers Inc. division.

The painstaking research and ability to deal with the minutiae of people’s personal memories, tall tales or vague reminiscences and the physical evidence had everything to do with the skills history graduates learn.

It’s the same with rapid fire news, features or copywriting, which are all based on the ability to listen and understand and to relate those pieces of information to the wider world, giving things context and meaning.

In addition to learning from a syllabus packed with relevant skills, the quality of the student-organised event I attended was also outstanding. The sit down dinner and the round-table approach, where local companies such as Deloitte, Irwin Mitchell and Teach First hosted around eight students each, showed a real razor-sharp insight into delivering the outcomes the group was looking for – so placements, internships and ultimately, employment.


The prologue to The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society 150th Anniversary book ‘Home from Sea’

These history graduates have certainly taken charge of writing their own life stories.

Stilettos, sea views and six packs – all in the name of charity

Last week we signed up as corporate members of Charity Comms a networking site for communications professionals working for some of the UK’s leading charities.

We are pleased to support the organisation which is an excellent hub for case studies and best practice with more than 4,000 members.

At Acceleris we have worked with charities large and small for a number of years to deliver creative and effective campaigns. In my time this has included organising peaceful protests in the streets of Leeds, dressing up in chicken costumes, and re-recording an Elton John classic – all for a good cause.

It’s been a busy few months for our charity team:

We organise a yearly fashion show for the Prince's Trust which is always a huge success

We organise a yearly fashion show for the Prince’s Trust which is always a huge success

We helped publicise a fundraising fashion show for the Prince’s Trust in Yorkshire and the Humber. Held at the National Railway Museum in York, the event raised in excess of £90,000 to support the charity’s work with young people.

We organised a national photography competition to find the UK’s best sea view for longstanding client the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society.The competition received 456 entries and generated widespread national media coverage including several full page splashes (sorry).

Ex-Royal Marine, Rich McKeating approached us to help raise £100,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust. The campaign ‘Titan Force Trip to Ripped’, will see twenty young men transformed to their ripped best in just six months, for a fundraising calendar (our offer to feature in the calendar was declined for obvious reasons).

We’ve also written our first book to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Royal Alfred Seafarers Society.

Communication is important for every business and organisation but given the high profile and emotive work of many charities, clear and effective communications are integral to their success.

We’re also keenly aware just how tight budgets can be in the sector so we’re careful to make every penny spent on comms go as far as possible (as you’d expect with our Yorkshire roots!)

I am looking forward to being a Charity Comms member and getting involved in discussions, learning from fellow communications professionals and sharing our experience.

Find out more here:

We;re currently working with former marine, Rich McKeating, on a project for Teenage Cancer Trust

We’re currently working with former marine, Rich McKeating, on a project for the Teenage Cancer Trust

Seafood Week Part 5: Using social media wisely to gain a competitive edge

We have the ability to reach thousands of people across the world in seconds, and we can do this for free. That’s right, social media has stood up in the face of traditional advertising, and offered an alternative which everyone, regardless of income, can access.

But stop right there if you think you can simply send a Tweet and gain a thousand followers.

There is so much content floating around the social media pond that it’s often difficult to get your voice heard, and that’s why running a competition could be the perfect way to encourage new customers to engage with your brand or product.

We work with national maritime charity the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, which last year celebrated its 175th anniversary and is always open to new and exciting ideas for raising awareness of its cause.

So, over our time with them we have developed our approach to competitions in order to shift with the times.

First we had the limerick competition, encouraging entrants to pen a poem about the ocean. Then we had the maritime art competition, encouraging entrants to create an original piece of artwork with a maritime theme. Both of these secured entries of a high quality, but as you can imagine, engagement wasn’t without its difficulties. The logistics of getting dozens of paintings to a judging location itself was enough to give anyone a headache.

So, in 2013, we suggested running a photography competition which, 10 years ago, would have had the same difficulties, but these days is easily accessible to all as most mobile phones come with a camera, meaning engagement can be instant.

We encouraged entrants to send in images of what they felt best encapsulated the UK’s reliance on and connection with the sea and, as we expected, the majority of entries came through social media. Interestingly the average age of entrants dropped considerably, which is a key priority for the charity as it aims to target a younger audience. That’s not to say that we didn’t have some excellent photography sent in via post!

Some of the many excellent entries we received for our photograph competition this year

Some of the many excellent entries we received for our photograph competition this year

But get this, with every entry came an email address or a social media account name. In the cutthroat world of advertising, this stuff is gold dust, because it opens up a line of communication with a potential customer/supporter.

So if you work with clients who operate in traditional sectors, like fishing and maritime, don’t let them to be afraid of embracing new technologies and ideas such as running competitions on new media platforms. We live in an age when out of the 64 million people in the UK, there are 38 million active social media accounts… And people are even logging in from the North Sea!

Run a simple giveaway competition, see the benefits instant engagement brings, and I guarantee you’ll be hooked!

Seafood Week Part 4: Look a Little Deeper

How do you show the working world of an industry operating over the horizon? That has been a challenge Acceleris’ maritime division has faced up to many times in recent years. From working with the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) to helping Seafarers UK run its annual Seafarers Awareness Week, we’ve worked hard to give a face to the faceless and a voice to the voiceless.

One way we have achieved this is through the use of video.

Video is an increasingly important tool for marketers: YouTube sees one billion video views per day. ONE BILLION! And the human brain takes in 90 per cent of all the information it processes visually. That means video can communicate more information in less time – perfect for the time-poor world we live in.

With the NFFO, one of our first ideas, and the first project we ran on their behalf, was ‘Tweets from the Deep’. This involved a small boat fisherman tweeting everything he did during one day out at sea. This allowed Twitter users to follow his day in real time and ask questions directly to him.


This initiative gave a unique insight to life on the waves in a way that had never been done before. But we went a step further and put a videographer on deck with him to film the day too. This meant as well as following his 140 character descriptions and insights, we could provide a real glimpse through the porthole of a working fishing vessel.

Since ‘Tweets from the Deep’, video has been a regular tool we’ve used to shed light on the fishing industry and the hard work that goes in to feeding our island nation. Our latest suite followed specific themes the industry wanted to address, from their work with scientists to how they protect the environment. We’ve also produced more consumer-focused videos, including with Masterchef presenter Gregg Wallace where we asked seven award-winning chefs to create delicious recipes using underused species. And they certainly delivered!

Video is a hugely versatile medium. It can be used to teach, inform, entertain or inspire. For us, it has been an especially useful tool because it brings to life a subject that in most people’s minds is far off and unimaginable. It has also allowed those that live and work beyond the line of the horizon to tell their own stories and that, we’ve found, is the best way of showing the reality of seafaring today.

FN cartoon

Seafood Week Part 3: Helping maritime organisations at their best, look their best

When I started work at Acceleris nearly seven years ago (as of next month) little could I have imagined that this would be the beginning of a professional and personal interest of mine in all things maritime.

The irony of our HQ being in one of the most central and landlocked areas of the UK, has often been commented upon. But location has never been a barrier to us becoming one of the leading maritime communications and PR specialists in the country. As my colleague Ellie St George-Yorke said in her latest blog, our maritime sector work has seen us travel extensively and win our firstpan-European client.39-Two residents on the Royal Eagle (Day trip steamer) on the Thames-1934 or 1935

As the Head of Writers Inc., the agency’s dedicated editorial project division, I am very proud of the work the team has done in the maritime industry across the public, private and third sectors. Whatever the client, we help to raise awareness of this country’s connection and dependence on the sea and the extraordinary people who work in sea-related trades.


To mark Seafish’s National Seafood Week, I wanted to take the opportunity to showcase some of the editorial projects, online and offline, Acceleris has undertaken for maritime clients. We are open to any brief and will always advise on the best platform and content for their audience and needs; ensure value for money; and work with the best suppliers to get the job done. Our work has so far encompassed:

  • Websites and microsites
  • A commemorative book
  • Info graphics
  • Annual reports
  • Leaflets, presentation folders and other marketing collateral and stationery
  • Social media campaigns.

There are too many from the last seven years to mention here, so I’ve chosen my three favourite, but very different Acceleris editorial projects in this sector to date:ifish

  • iFish – dispelling fishing industry myths on behalf of European trade body Europêche

PROJECT TYPE: Interactive microsite including innovative Fish Facts info graphic

LAUNCHED: April 2015

PEOPLE HAVE SAID: “I’ve looked at iFish and to be quite honest, I think it’s amazing, very well constructed and just the sort of thing we’ve been waiting for, to help promote and portray a real-time picture of the industry in light of so much pressure and negative press.”-Member of the public



  • Home From Sea – 150 years of The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society 150

PROJECT TYPE: Commemorative hardback history book

PUBLISHED: July 2015

PEOPLE HAVE SAID: “I am immensely pleased and proud of the book, which met and surpassed our expectations. Since the launch event we have had some verygood 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.” – Commander Brian Boxall-Hunt MBE, Chief Executive of the Society

The first reaction of HRH The Princess Royal, on receiving the first copy of the book as the charity’s Patron, was: “Good title!”




PROJECT TYPE: Charity website raising awareness of its work providing vital financial aid to mariners in need

LAUNCHED: June 2011shipwrecked web

PEOPLE SAID: I just wanted to thank you for all your work and the help you’ve given us to ensure we have a modern website to be proud of.” Stephen Fisher, Marketing & Communications Manager at the Society



You can see many more examples on our website

If you have a need for a printed publication, website, microsite, or something completely different, please get in touch.

Seafood Week Part 2: Finding the hook

Having an exciting tale is only half the battle in getting the media to take notice of a story and tell the world about it – you also have to find the right hook to reel them in. Read our top tips below on how to ensure your stories get the exposure they deserve.

  1. Use the news – If your story is going to get any exposure you have to make sure it’s relevant. Look at the main headlines around your industry and see if the story you want to tell is part of any wider goings on. Chances are that if your story fits in well enough alongside these then you’re onto a winner.
  2. Don’t wait around and miss the boat when you spot an opportunity. The key to getting the best exposure is to be first, fast and frank – so make sure to jump on that story while it’s in full flow. As long as you make sure you’re proving your expertise in the area rather than commenting for the sake of it then you’re onto a winner. Don’t let that ship sail without you.
  3. Make the story accessible to people. Most people don’t really know their mackerel from their megrim – it’s important to remember that you are experts in your field but most people will need a bit more explanation, especially if you’re planning on targeting the mainstream press!
  4. Make your story interesting! Another key one for targeting mainstream titles – make it something ordinary people care about. A really good human interest case study can go a long way towards getting published – and doesn’t have to come at the detriment of the key messages you want to get across.

At Acceleris, we’re experts in taking your stories and applying the right techniques to ensure they get seen by the people who need to see them.

fish 5

We recently worked with the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations to develop the ‘Deck to Dinner’ event, which saw seven top British chefs come together to celebrate the diversity of British seafood. Hosted by Gregg Wallace, the event produced top notch recipes and gathered substantial coverage from across the country. You can watch the video of the event here.

We’ve also recently organised the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society’s annual photography competition, showcasing the stunning landscapes offered by the British coast. This year saw hundreds of entries flood in from across the UK. The campaign generated huge amounts of media interest and was featured in The Times, The Telegraph, The Independent, The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Daily Mail, The Daily Express, Metro and The Daily Mirror. A selection of winning shots can be seen below.

fish 4

So why don’t you give us a call and we’ll get your stories in shipshape fashion.

Seafood Week Part 1: It’s Of-fish-al! National Seafood Week is here!

In factories, plants and sites across the country, there are signs proudly announcing the number of days the company has gone without accidents.

On the wall of the Acceleris office however, there is a sign saying:


fish 1

This is because today is Fish Pun Day! Wahoo! (actually a fishy member of the mackerel family for those who don’t know). In an office full of people who love words and language, it’s easy to get carried away with pun one-upmanship, but finally CEO and head punster, Peter, is free to say ‘oh my cod’ or ‘plain sailing from here’ or ‘right plaice, right time’. I would go on but just thinking about it is giving me a haddock…!

Fish Pun Day marks the start of National Seafood Week (9-16th October) and we, at Acceleris, are getting ‘on board’ to share some of our ‘brill’ experiences working with fishermen and seafarers.

Over the next week, members of the agency’s maritime division will be sharing their experiences of working in the maritime and fishing sectors. We will also be busy on Twitter using the hashtags #Gethooked, and #SeafoodWeek to share ideas, videos and examples of our work so raise the periscope.

fish 2

fish 3From royal visits to a retired seafarers’ care home and dunking celebrities in shark tanks to defending hardworking fishermen and championing sustainability, Acceleris’ maritime work in the last two years alone has taken the team to Munich, Dublin, Brussels, London, Vigo, and of course closer to home trips to Grimsby and Hull! Some of our award winning fishy work has also been studied by students at the University of the Arts London.


So get ‘on board’ and ‘set sail’ for a week of insight and top tips for communications for the maritime industry. Oh and don’t forget buoys and gills, if you can think of a batter fish pun, let minnow!