Archive for the ‘Public Relations’ Category

Why we love Pinterest…

March 21, 2012

We’ve recently discovered Pinterest. I use the collective ‘we’ here, as the whole office seems to have started pinning with excitable interest all the time. We know Pinterest has been about for a while, but it would seem we have all hopped on this bandwagon at the same time.

Just in case you haven’t heard of the latest social network to ride the mainstream wave, let me tell you a little bit about it. To put it simply, Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest lets you share the things you find on the web in one place and share it for others to see. As the site itself suggests “People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favourite recipes”. Ben and his team go on to say, “Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people…browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests”.

So there you have it. Pinterest seems simple enough. It seems to make sense. But why do we love it? After all, this isn’t the first website we found useful and simple. But this is definitely one of the first to capture users in the way that it has.

Let’s see if I can explain it for you. At the moment the site is gaining users on an invite only basis. If you don’t know someone using the site you can request an account from the team.  Hoop number two comes in the form of a Facebook of Twitter account: you need one. You don’t have to link them to your Pinterest account…but you now seem to need one to get started (A sign the site is getting far more mainstream perhaps?). 

However, from then on, the site acts very differently to other social networks. It doesn’t suggest friends you might know. It doesn’t suggest people you might like. What it wants to know is what you like! What things do you like doing? What stuff you want or use? What bits and bobs do you like looking out for, or simply which books do you read? It’s all about the content you find interesting.

From there Pinterest builds you a profile. It starts following peoples’ pinboards for you and all of a sudden your home screen bursts into life with content you like. The first time I logged on I was greeted by a dramatic landscape of the sun setting over mountains, an image of Mark Cavendish in full flow and a pair of Kurt Geiger boots. As I had expressed an interest in photography, sport and mens apparel (amongst other things) it wasn’t a bad start.

So it’s “different” I hear you say. It’s “intuitive”. But that can’t be it surely? Well no. To put it bluntly, it’s easy, quick, and simple and that appealed to a different part of us. This is a visual platform. We like to think of ourselves as creative and for that reason we love Pinterest. We love hearing what people have got to say, so we all spend time reading blogs, magazines and papers. But that can sometimes be a little time consuming. Not having enough time is definitely why most of us here love Twitter. We can dip in and out of our streams and see what the wider world is saying in just a couple of minutes. But what we really like is a story. Having a picture painted. Setting the scene and provoking thoughts in more than 140 characters but in less time than a blog post.

Pinterest therefore offers to plug the void in our random and creative minds. I can pin work thoughts to a shared “PR Stunts” board I have access to. But at the same time, I can pin pictures of my next pair of ski boots or a barrel wave image I see that made me crave sand between my toes. After all, a picture paints a thousand words doesn’t it? All three of these images take no more time to glance at, but all of them could send me off thinking about them for the next 10 minutes with nothing more than an image for a starting point.

Finally, just to prove one of my first points about this platform being simple: I taught my mum how to use Pinterest at the weekend. It took me about 10 minutes and she loved it. It is the first social networking platform that she has shown any interest in, or even a vague understanding of.

So if you haven’t discovered Pinterest yet, why not give it a go? If you can’t be bothered to wait for your invitation request to be answered, then ping one us an email and we will happily share an invitation with you.

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Skywrite searching for 2012 graduates

December 8, 2011

Our fabulous 2011 graduates may only just have settled in, but it’s already time to start the search for the next generation of PR talent. The Hotwire Group Graduate Programme 2012 has launched today.

See the details here and get those applications in!

We’re hiring!

November 3, 2011

Alright everyone, it’s time to dust off those CVs.

Skywrite is looking for both account managers and senior account executives to assist across our portfolio of corporate and consumer accounts.

Work would include everything from technology and telecoms accounts to pure play consumer. This is a great opportunity to work across a broad spectrum of different clients – including some of the biggest brands out there!

Email emma.hazan@skywritepr.com for more information!

The Low Down: Internships

September 5, 2011

Holly started interning here at Skywrite PR six months ago and as of this month will become a fully fledged employee. Therefore, she thought now was as good a time as any to look back at her internship and highlight her top tips for others about to embark on an all important internship:

Read all about it

Working in PR, you can never read enough. It really pays to have a strong understanding of all current affairs, and by that I mean worldwide news headlines, celebrity (and industry) gossip, social media trends and the latest industry news. A really thorough knowledge of current topical issues will help you in all areas of your internship, including pitching to journalists, brainstorming and drafting copy.

Short term pain = long term gain

Keep looking ahead. You may not be given the exciting or important jobs that you had hoped for straight away, but the important thing to consider is how these (sometimes menial) tasks will help you to achieve that highflying career you’ve always dreamed of.

Just remember, the agency’s MD will have at one point made the tea/coffee, stuffed 500 press packs and clipped endless pieces of coverage at the start of their career too.

We all have to start somewhere!

Eager Beaver

One way to help ensure you are given increasing amounts of responsibility during your internship is to show you’re eager to learn and get stuck in. From my experience, eagerly undertaking the menial tasks and executing them with great attention to detail will build trust between you and your team. In turn, this will make your mentors more likely to task you with the more exciting PR jobs and mean you will gain a larger variety of experience.

Time don’t wait for no one

Whether your internship is for 2 weeks or 5 months, it will fly by. So make sure you grasp the opportunity from day one and try not to rest on your laurels at any point – it could mean the difference between being offered at full time job or going back to unemploymentville!

Any other questions?

Be inquisitive, feel free to ask the team about their background, tips and career highlights – you’ll learn a lot about what a career in PR actually entails. You’ll find most seasoned PR professionals are very willing to help out the next PR generation in any way they can.

Lastly, enjoy – not only will you learn loads of invaluable tools and information, you’ll meet some awesome people and have a blast!

Fun times at the Financial Times

August 26, 2011

It’s not every day you’re offered the chance to experience life at one of the most recognisable and widely respected newspapers in the world, so I jumped at the chance of taking part in a short term job-swap with one of the FT’s communications team. So with no expectations and a sack full of questions I headed down to Southwark Bridge and into the bustling FT HQ.

Editorial conferences form the backbone of the Press Office’s proactive media outreach, listening out for all-important scoops, followed by the frenzied scribbling of notes and subsequent pitching to broadcast outlets. While these conferences are part of the daily routine for the many journalists, editors and wider comms team present, they were a rare and fascinating window into a world that many PRs never get to experience.

Even to the most seasoned PR professionals, editorial conferences can be mysterious and frustratingly elusive factories of censorship, where our carefully crafted stories are processed, dissected and manufactured into something new. Sometimes they are consigned to the waste heap and (thankfully) other times they are mass produced. It was a privilege and a thoroughly edifying experience to be a part of them during my short time at the FT.

Of course, getting an insight into the inner workings of the paper and a taste of the tactics used to promote the FT brand was hugely interesting, but it also served as the perfect chance to get a flavour of in-house public relations. Working with a single ‘client’, for example, is an intriguing concept to the uninitiated agency-based PR.

At Skywrite we each work with multiple organisations – in industries as diverse as B2B telecoms, gaming and lifestyle – who each have several products, services or solutions launching at varying times of the year. I quickly learnt that in-house life, at the FT at least, is no less varied. One day I was staffing briefings on the FT’s digital strategy, the next I was pitching a scoop on RBS cutting 2,000 jobs, and the day after I was promoting FT Weekend content on the wines of France to lifestyle bloggers.

The major difference was the role of proactive and reactive outreach on a daily basis. The FT and its Press Office have done an amazing job at building very close relationships with broadcast outlets, positioning their expert journalists as go-to authorities on a range on topics. This requires a lot of proactive work in the background, but when a big scoop breaks the phone does not stop ringing. It’s easy to see how quickly a typical day can be flipped on its head as the team efficiently organises the resulting myriad of enquiries and interview requests.

In contrast, almost 100% of our daily work at Skywrite is based entirely on proactivity. Either brainstorming ideas, developing campaigns or plans designed to generate media interest, creating content that fits into the news agenda, or simply pitching news and product reviews. We’re on the phone just as much as our in-house counterparts – the only difference is who does the dialling.

To find out how the other half of the job-swap went, read the FT’s Esther Kissiedu on her time at Skywrite, available here.

Gorkana interviews Skywrite’s Laura Macdonald

August 19, 2011

Our very own Laura Macdonald (or Big Mac as we like to call her) has just been interviewed by Gorkana!

Read her thoughts on Skywrite’s interesting past and glorious future right here.

Afternoon Skywrite supercharge

August 16, 2011

A little while ago, not surprisingly around the 3:20pm mark, the following article got the Skywrite team talking and drawing straws on who would do the afternoon chocolate run…

We’ve all been there. That mid afternoon dip in energy is murder. But the very nature of the ‘always on’ PR world requires for red alert throughout the working day – and there’s still a good few hours left beyond 3:20pm. Here’s how we dodge the biscuit barrel and keep ourselves going at Skywrite via other means during a potential afternoon dip:

  • Kick off a comedy email trail – it gets everyone talking, it’s a bit of light relief and few things are more stimulating than a lot of laughter in the office. We’re rather partial to a Lolcat or two. Our big cheese Laura Macdonald may even be mildly obsessed by them…
  • There’s no denying coffee is an instant pick me up. As a special treat we’ll often hit the good stuff. Resident barista Sam Brookes highly recommends any strong Italian blend
  • We’re blessed with a bit of a swish media centre at Skywrite in our newly refurbed home. We all face three screens, two of which carry 24 hour news, the other plays out the soundtrack to the Skywrite day. But everybody’s tastes are different. Be sure to mix things up a bit – you’ll often find Nick and Amy toggling between Absolute and Heart depending on the mood of the day
  • Get up and have a walk around. Skywrite is part of the Hotwire Group and we’re really lucky to be able to talk to our Hotwire colleagues in person, with ease. It’s amazing how something as simple as getting out of your seat to have a chat with someone else can spark off lots more ideas and allow you to attack the afternoon with much more vigour

But, if all else fails, chocaholic Holly Sainsbury will tell you, few things compare to a (Cadbury’s) Boost in the afternoon.

UKTJPR uncovered

August 11, 2011

Thursday 4th August saw the mighty UKTJPR roll into town and throw another amazing bash. But what is the UKTJPR I hear you cry? Well – we hear from our very own Amy Ronge, UK events director for the group, to find out…

Skywriters: What is the UKTJPR?

Amy: UKTJPR stands for UK Tech Journalists and PRs – it’s a basically a networking group that throws really good parties – for free. It’s a volunteer run group, with a team of about 8 people. We have a Facebook group where people can request to join, and we share most of our info on there, and through our Twitter feed. I’m the UK events director along with my friend and colleague, Laura Strong. We hold parties about 6 times a year, some big, some small – but always a lot of fun.

Skywriters: What does your role entail?

Amy: I am responsible for running all the events we have in the UK – from finding a sponsor, to picking the perfect venue and then hosting the night. There’s a lot of work involved, a lot of back and forth with sponsors and the venue, but it’s all worth it in the end when we can put on a fantastic event.

Skywriters: So what was last Thursday’s event all about then?

AR: In the spirit of summer, we decided to have a BBQ. We started planning a good couple of months ago, and found a great sponsor in NVIDIA. Finding a venue that was central and had a big enough roof terrace was tricky, but we found the perfect spot with the Big Chill House near Kings Cross. Last Thursday was mega – we had 250 people turn up, and the atmosphere was amazing. Drinks flowed all night, the BBQ was gobbled up, and as far as I can remember, dancing was involved at some point too…! All the buzz created around it was great – with queues out the door and lots of chatter on Twitter.

Skywriters: What’s next then?

Amy: Next up is an event in October….you’ll have to watch this space!

The Sky’s the limit

August 5, 2011

Esther Kissiedu, on exchange with Skywrite from the FT, gives her thoughts on in-house vs. agency life…

When I was asked if I would like to do a month’s secondment at the Hotwire Group’s offices, I jumped at the chance. Having worked as an in-house PR exec at the Financial Times for over 4 years, this was the perfect opportunity to see how the other side operated.

During my second week I had the chance to work in the Skywrite division of the Hotwire Group, focusing on consumer tech PR. August for some industries is a quiet month, but in an agency work never stops. Jumping straight into it, I began by wrapping-up coverage for one of their biggest telecoms clients – seeing just how much emphasis is put on great results. I soon realised that brainstorming is also weaved into everything they do. Almost every day I took part in a creative session, which generated some out-there ideas and made me see why so many clients use them as their chosen agency.

I was glad I had the chance to work on so many different client accounts, coming from banking and finance background to working on consumer tech clients was fun and diverse. I’m used to the FT brand opening doors and so pitching from a different point of view was a challenge.

Looking at how agency life compares to an in-house role, what’s obvious is we both work really hard for our clients. Working in-house I have to store just one client in my head, whereas agencies manage to juggle several clients and know them inside out – which I find remarkable! I work on several different projects at the FT: managing broadcast queries, promoting the brand and dealing with numerous journalists and keeping abreast of current affairs and news is vital. I found working at an agency similar in those terms, as they have to be quick to react and are constantly on the lookout for opportunities for their clients. The extensive connections with journalists needed across many different sectors is also dizzying!

A week isn’t long enough to get full picture of Skywrite, but it definitely gives me a new outlook on agency life! It’s been a pleasure.

Mind the generation gap

June 20, 2011

I recently heard Hotwire advisory board member, Charles Davis of the CEBR (centre for economics and business research) speak on the topic of consumer austerity, and I was pleased to hear his message that it’s not all doom and gloom in the consumer market.  There is plenty of good news out there – it just gets buried underneath the bad.

Consumer austerity is a particularly relevant topic in the world of public relations; according to our research performed with the Holmes Report 32% of communications professionals have seen their budgets stay static this year, with 18% seeing a drop.  Alongside this, almost a quarter of respondents stated that the money conscious approach being adopted by both consumers and businesses has affected their campaigns,  forcing them to become more innovative in order to make them work harder and penetrate a less receptive and more careful market.      

As a PR agency we think we understand how recession is affecting today’s markets, but are we aware of how it will affect future generations of consumers?  According to an article by MediaCom, 71% of junior school children already understand the term ‘credit crunch.’  Moreover, many parents are using the recession as an opportunity to educate their children to be more financially aware.

This reaction to the economic crisis could lead to an interesting generation of financially savvy shoppers.  And though many PR professionals and marketers assume that money-saving behaviours will become obsolete on exiting the recession, with this educational approach our successors are likely to learn from our mistakes.  Perhaps we in turn will have to learn to adapt our campaigns to suit a more cautious and financially aware audience.


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