Gorkana interviews Skywrite’s Laura Macdonald

August 19, 2011 by

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.

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Afternoon Skywrite supercharge

August 16, 2011 by

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 by

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 by

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.

Google + Twitter = Facebook?

July 28, 2011 by

As Google + launched almost a month ago, now seemed like a good time to blog on how our first few weeks playing around with its latest attempt to crack social networking has gone.

Although this isn’t Google’s first time when it comes to launching a new social platform, the first impressions suggest it is taking this one very seriously. For such a massive company that never makes a habit of coming second at anything, it has been a very slow and cautious start. So far Google + has only been accessible to those with an invitation and Google itself has said that it is still very much a work in progress.

Having said that, early reports suggest there are around 20 million users on the network already…which isn’t really very slow, especially considering it took Facebook 10 months to get its first 1 million users (in very different circumstances, I know). After the issues Google encountered launching Buzz to its Gmail user base, it seems that it is really trying to get things perfect before it sets about attracting the rest of the web!

Anyway, at first glance Google + seems instantly familiar. You can work out where everything is and how you can edit, change and get things the way you like them pretty quickly. Credit has to go to Google for creating a very clean and simple layout, but I think the real reason comes down to a familiar interface. Its looks and feels very much like Google + is trying to sit perfectly between two other very popular social networks that I already use. It’s almost like Google did it on purpose!

Once you get going you will find you can put people in circles (friend/follow them) although they don’t have to put you in one of their circles if they don’t want to. This feels a lot like Twitter. Your home page is laid out in a very familiar way too, with a stream (news feed) down the middle, info off the left and right and photos/profile information along the top.

Like millions of others, I’m on Twitter and Facebook. I also happen to be a Gmail user, so I guess it’s little wonder that Google + felt so familiar so quickly. At the moment it’s just geeks and cool kids that are the early adopters using Google +. The real questions will come over the next few months when the whole platform opens up. That’s when we will get to see if Google can persuade the rest of the world that they need another social network, or better yet a completely new one.

Five of the best: Game intros

July 11, 2011 by

They say that a good beginning is half the battle, so some of us at Skywrite towers have put our heads together to come up with our top 5 PC game intros of all time.

Quake 2:

The Quake series was never really big on plot or character development, but id Software certainly put together a perfectly balanced first person shooter. Nevertheless, at a time when intro cinematics were the status quo, the opening to Quake 2 managed to stand out from the crowd. From the creepy voiceover which fills in some back-story, to an exhilarating drop-ship sequence that’s vaguely reminiscent of Aliens, the intro movie sets the tone for the entire game very effectively – and it blends perfectly into the gun-toting action.

BioShock:

Any game that throws a plane crash at you and THEN a bathysphere ride has to score high marks. The reveal of the game’s underwater setting, Rapture, is among the most glorious of any gaming sequence. For a second it’s actually hard to believe that all this is being rendered in-engine. Nevertheless, the intro also manages to feed you some useful information on the political back-story of the city, which will, of course, come back to the foreground later on.

Freespace 2:

A year after Freespace had given the space combat sim a much needed shake-up, Freespace 2 arrived on the scene. Set 30 years after the original, the intro cinematic bridges this time gap perfectly. A ferocious space battle before the main title cuts to the aging and gutted debris of the capital ships years afterwards. Plus the voiceover perfectly sets the brooding tone of the entire game.

Half-Life:

Valve Software took a different approach to its seminal first person shooter by ensuring that all of the game’s action takes place from the main character’s point of view. Only a few games had tried this before (notably Unreal) and the intro is no different. For a game that has some of the most memorable action sequences ever created, the opening is very understated: you sit on a tram on your way to work, heading deep into the Black Mesa Facility. This sequence does three things: it grounds you inside a “real” world, it ensures you realise just how isolated you are inside this enormous facility and it hints at all not being well in the complex…

Total Annihilation:

This was a one-hit wonder of the RTS world, which never received the sequel it very much deserved. The cinematic intro sets up the conflict between the ARM and the CORE, as you move from one Commander to the other across a hectic battlefield. It’s a great way to introduce the sheer variety of tactical options that this game opened up to players and the orchestral score perfectly backs up the high-octane action.

That’s it from us, do comment below with your own suggestions!

Mind the generation gap

June 20, 2011 by

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.

Show jumping rabbits?

May 10, 2011 by

Definitely one of the week’s stranger news stories, it has emerged that a small village in Germany is hosting an annual rabbit show jumping contest.

The village of Jena has decided to revive the Scandinavian sport of rabbit jumping, with the most athletic bunny on record reaching the epic height of 99.5cm…

Check out the full story here!

Website of the day

April 13, 2011 by

Never ones to miss out on a comedy website, Skywrite just stumbled across this little gem.

Yes, that’s right, an entire website dedicated to cats that look like Hitler…

Thought control?

April 12, 2011 by

No we’re not talking about Big Brother and CCTV cameras monitoring your every move, but rather controlling devices through the power of the mind.

We’ve discussed using electroencephalogram (EEG) electrodes to decode electrical activity in the brain before, but researchers at the University of California, San Diego have come up with a way to allow you to dial numbers in your mobile phone, simply by thinking them.

The technology just needs a normal handset with a Bluetooth connection to the EEG headband and away you go. Apparently, thought control is relatively straight-forward to pick up and very accurate.

So next time you think about how you should really call your parents or siblings – watch out! – the phone may just start ringing.


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