A press meeting with Russian journalists


Formica Russian press briefingPR Account Manager Jana Pavelkova flew to Moscow last week to help facilitate and attend a special press briefing organised with our partner agency in Russia and client Formica Group.

The importance of meeting up with journalists face to face is still key in this world of email and online communication. It offers an opportunity to explore areas of mutual interest, and is critically important in some countries like Russia where press briefings are seen as a requisite for being perceived as a serious player in the market.

We have been supporting media relations with the Russian press for Formica Group over a number of years now, and the opportunity to get together was an important step in highlighting Formica Group’s activities at a local level.

Formica Group’s key representatives in Russia presented an overview of product ranges, surfacing trends and how Formica® laminate is being used and specified in buildings.

Jana says: “We invited the journalists to get involved and ask questions throughout the presentation, which led to some very interesting discussions such as the differences between country specific design trends, sustainability vs greenwash, as well as the latest advances in laminate manufacture and the material’s progression since 1913.

“The face to face meeting with journalists also helped to establish Formica Group’s presence on the Russian market and presented the company as an expert in their field.”

The Think Tank wins global brief from Asendia


AsendiaAsendia, the La Poste and Swiss Post joint venture which launched in 2012, has awarded The Think Tank the brief to plan and execute a series of campaigns for 2014, which include creative, production, digital outreach, and public and media relations.

Based around Asendia’s brand theme ‘The world is your address’, we will roll out campaigns targeting customers and potential customers of the company’s cross-border delivery solutions. The campaigns will be delivered in a number of countries around the world and will feature multiple language elements.

For 2014, work will kick off with a campaign directed at how Asendia can enable the growing opportunities for eCommerce business across borders. This will be followed by a focus on the company’s new global offering, a comprehensive range of international mailing and shipping solutions for business, direct marketing, internet retailing and publishing.

Campaign elements will comprise owned, earned and paid for media, with a focus on an integrated approach. Elements of the campaigns will also focus on employee communications.

The brief was won in a competitive three-way pitch at the end of 2013, with the first campaign due to go live in April 2014. A pilot project for internal communications was completed in December.

Asendia Head of Communication, Domenico Pereira said: “We selected The Think Tank because they combined a creative approach with a holistic view of our brief; we felt that they understood our challenges and would work effectively with the in-house team we have in place in Berne and Paris.”

The account will be led by our Directors Liam Bateman, Samantha Dawe and Shaun Madle.

Helping spread the word for Tackle, the prostate cancer patients’ charity


Tackle press coverageThe Think Tank has been working with prostate cancer patients’ charity Tackle providing some core PR support since the start of the year. In the past weeks this has specifically involved a critical announcement regarding the availability of a new drug for cancer patients.

The goal was to put forward Tackle’s viewpoint on the availability of this treatment which offers a vital lifeline to thousands of men facing ‘death sentences’ due to the very limited options for treatment if chemotherapy has failed.

PR Senior Account Executive Kate Stewart said: “It was critical that Tackle was seen to be involved in the news debate, and we issued a statement saying the charity was giving a cautious welcome to the turn-around by NICE* on the availability of this new drug Enzalutamide.”

“The statement was issued under embargo and we followed up with as many of the key press writing on this subject as possible, and who we have been in dialogue over past months, offering spokespeople from Tackle for comment.”

The PR initiative paid off and Tackle received online coverage on several high profile websites, including The Mirror, ITV, The Daily Telegraph, Nursing Times, The Courier, Daily Mail, and the Huffington Post!

An article also appeared in print in The Daily Telegraph.

*National Institute for Health & Care Excellence

Speaking opportunities


Speaking opportunities add significant weight to a communication campaign, and are a great way to increase awareness of your company, product and/or service. Senior Account Manager Louise Gough outlines how we approach this for one of our clients.

An important part of our PR programme for integrity monitoring specialist, Permasense Ltd, is targeting key Oil & Gas conferences and together we have achieved many successful outcomes.

We are able to work with a number of Permasense’s executives, drawing on their specific expertise to put forward as speakers at Conferences and events, and this means we can offer a range of viewpoints on a subject or theme. The first step is to prepare and agree a concise synopsis on the subject/theme and whether the focus is on upstream or downstream environments.

Once we have identified an event, the synopsis is developed into a specific abstract, which are usually submitted and then reviewed by a panel of experts for consideration. Once accepted and agreed the abstract goes forward to be part of a Conference’s agenda.

To date in 2014, four abstracts have been accepted, which will see Permasense personnel presenting at Conferences around the world.

Recently Permasense’s abstract on the topic of continuous corrosion and erosion monitoring for offshore applications was selected for the Australasian Oil & Gas conference (AOG) which Permasense presented at in February, for example. AOG is Australia’s largest oil and gas exhibition, with over 500 exhibitors from 20 countries.

The Think Tank highlights of 2013


2013 has been an interesting year on The Think Tank Blog. We have seen record-breaking buildings, hosts of awards, hilarious new adverts and much more. With the New Year now upon us we take a look back at our top blogs from 2013.

Certainly one of the most memorable buildings we saw last year was this attempt in China to build what would be the world’s tallest building – remarkably inside 90 days. The controversial designs for this made for fascinating reading, you can remind yourself about them here.

Back in January we blogged on some remarkable photos taken of a thawing cold storage building. The images showed the amazing ice structures that had formed within the building – you can take a look at these here.

Another memorable blog was our look at the ten greatest offices in the world. This piece featured offices from Google and Red Bull – to name just a few – and certainly made us jealous that we couldn’t work in offices such as these! Take a look at them here.

As part of The Think Tank’s ongoing sponsorship of B2B Marketing’s Knowledge Bank PR Channel, our PR Director Samantha Dawe produced a Whitepaper titled ‘PR in a changing media landscape’, which took a look at the need for a new mindset to accommodate a changing media world. You can download it here.

Finally one of the most memorable adverts we came across last year has to be the Poo Pourri advert. This video advert contrasted an elegant actress with a toilet spray product and a hilarious script. You can watch this advert here

WEBINAR: Amplifying PR through social media channels – considerations in the B2B context


The Think Tank director Samtha Dawe teams up with Andrew Jackson The Marketing Director of SAS International to present this live webinar.

Focussing from both an agency and a client persepctive the experts discuss the best ways to channel your PR messages in the digital world.

The presentation uses actual examples to provide an insight into the most effective strategies for digital PR.

You can find out more or attend this webinar here.

WHITEPAPER: How to create a brand story with PR


This whitepaper was produced by The Think Tank director Samantha Dawe as part of our on-going sponsorship of B2B Marketing’s PR knowledge bank.

It highlights the importance of writing your brand story in a way that engages a wide range of audiences.

Included are a set of rules to help write successful PR stories in the B2B sector.

Read or download it below.

How to create a brand story – The Think Tank.pdf (406 kb)

FoundOcean shortlisted for The Energy Institute Awards


Our client FoundOcean has been shortlisted for the Technology category of the Energy Institute Awards 2013. The awards recognise individuals and organisations in the global energy industry for setting new standards of excellence and innovation in their daily activities.  

Having worked at numerous offshore wind farms, FoundOcean discovered that grout mixing and pumping times were the two areas where installation times could be reduced. To overcome this, FoundOcean designed and built its new ‘Super Pan’ grout mixer enabling ultra-high strength (UHS) grouting (for monopile transition pieces) to be completed in half the time of its previous and competitors’ mixer models.  

This mixer is designed to attempt to bring the mixing rate for ultra-high strength grouts nearer to the mixing rate of standard strength grouts (currently 6m3 and 25m3 per hour, respectively), and eliminate grouting as a potential bottleneck when mixing and pumping ultra-high strength grout offshore.  

FoundOcean is the largest dedicated offshore construction grouting company in the world, with nearly 50 years’ experience of subsea and offshore foundation grouting for the global energy construction industries. It provides a range of services to the oil & gas and renewable energy sectors including foundation and structural grouting, structural repair and strengthening, as well as pipeline and cable support and protection across the globe. The Think Tank has worked with FoundOcean since November 2011.  

The Energy Institute Awards will be held on 14 November 2013 at the Sheraton Park Lane, London.

Heineken asks travellers to play departure roulette!


Departure RouletteHeineken has challenged travellers at JFK airport to abandon their plans and travel to a random location for an unknown period of time. 

This challenge, which they called “departure roulette”, involved travellers pushing a red button which would automatically assign a random location. 

The stunt was part of Heineken’s “Dropped” global marketing campaign where they intend to find out what men are like when they are taken out of their comfort zone, asking the question – “are legends born or made?”

Most travellers chose to decline Heineken’s offer, after all whats the point in planning a holiday if your not going to go? However a few adventurous travellers chose to accept the offer.

Find out how it went by watching the video below, and tell us if you would dare to play departure roulette? 

WHITEPAPER: How to measure PR ROI


WhitepaperThis whitepaper was produced by The Think Tank director Samantha Dawe as part of our on-going sponsorship of B2B Marketing’s PR knowledge bank.

It examines the varying aims of PR activity, explains the challenges and champions an approach you can take to quantify the returns your PR activity is providing.

Effective measurement has an important role to play in marketing communications work, particularly with the need to show a return on investment (ROI). However, how PR is measured has been the topic of much debate.

Read it or download here.

Measuring PR – The Think Tank.pdf (181 kb)

Blinkbox unleash giant dragon skull


Dragon Skull

Dragon Skull

In a stunt of epic proportions a giant dragon skull, the size of a London bus, has appeared on Dorset’s famed jurassic coast. This was to honour the arrival of a Game of Thrones Season 3 on streaming service Blinkbox.

Dog-walkers and fossil hunters alike were stopped in their tracks at the site of this monstrous construction. The skull was designed by Taylor Herring PR who only this month were responsible for the arrival of a giant Mr Darcy in Hyde Park. It took three sculptors over two months to construct carve and paint the skull, which measures 40 ft long and sits over 9 ft tall.

This beach stunt was inspired by a Game of Thrones scene where one of the leading characters discovers dragon skulls in the depths of the dungeons in Kings Landing. 

Tell us your thoughts on this mythical beach invasion, or you can watch this video below about how it was made, or read more about it here.

Video an internet star (B2B Marketing blog post)


This post was written by The Think Tank’s PR Director Samantha Dawe as part of our on-going sponsorship of B2B Marketing’s PR knowledge bank.

With respect to all those who remember the song ‘Video killed the radio star’ knowing that it didn’t… video is becoming an increasingly useful tool in the PR world. Well actually it always was, but somehow today it is so much more accessible as communications tool.

All of those of us who visit b2b websites will it seems happily watch a short video bringing a story to life, and it is a great way of showing how a product or solution works.

Even a discussion can come to life when you watch the participants it seems, and it builds more trust and credibility.

Actually video is a great way of bringing all sorts of short-form content to life, and we are increasingly using it for PR because of this. The recent PR Lions Grand Prix at the Cannes Festival of Creativity was won by a video animation ‘Dumb Ways to Die‘ – a safety reminder PR campaign for Metro Trains in Melbourne (incidentally created and produced by McCann Melbourne – an ad agency).

Viral videos for product launches have been doing the rounds for a while, but the whole corporate world has woken up to how content can be made more ‘entertaining’ when delivered in this form.

A large PR group has even recently hired an ad director to launch its own video production arm; and just last week at the Think Tank we were having discussions with a prospect about video logs as part of bringing the world of recruitment services to life.

Here are 10 ways to be using video for PR purposes today, along with the written word of course:
news releases
product launches
company newsletters
welcome page on your website
internal communications training
health & safety training
company events
case studies
discussions around industry topics
crisis management

We would love to hear about how you have been using video in your PR campaigns too.

video.jpg

No such thing as bad publicity?


Bad Press
This post was written by The Think Tank’s PR Director Samantha Dawe as part of our on-going sponsorship of B2B Marketing’s PR knowledge bank.

I was asked this question again recently, is there any such thing as bad publicity?

We once worked with a client who was very outspoken; this client knew what he wanted to achieve and went out to make it happen, which was appealing. But opening up about some surprising behaviour, in a newspaper interview, backfired. Some who knew him chuckled when they read it, but most people including some suppliers and employees thought differently, it felt unprofessional.

Being quoted out of context is one thing, which can also be made immediately clear with a response, but a gaffe tends to stay with you, particularly with the long-tail effect in social media channels.

It’s a tightrope to be walked carefully. Think about what the presenters of the BBC TV programme ‘Top Gear’ get away with, how much is this part of the irreverent, ‘laddish’ tone of the programme itself? When does what they say become unacceptable?

A hard part of managing reputation is making the judgement of what is acceptable or not.

Many organisations are wise to have a code of conduct and draw the lines between public and private spheres. But no matter how much you prepare, something will go wrong at some point.

It is essential when someone has strayed off message that the brand or organisation portrays a clear, consistent message. Make sure all your spokespeople are kept fully informed and know what position you are taking.

Partnering with Article 25 for 10×10 Drawing the City London


10 x 10 drawingArticle 25Celebrating our 20th Anniversary this year, The Think Tank is pleased to announce that we have become the media partner for Article 25’s flagship event, 10×10 Drawing the City London.

Not only does 10 x10  raise a substantial amount of money for the Charity’s projects, it is also a chance to promote Article 25’s work more broadly and to reach new audiences, as well as those connected to the construction industry.

The first stage of this event, the Drawing Weekend, takes place in September and will involve a range of high profile architects and artists producing images within an allotted area of London. These images are then exhibited for two weeks in November. This exhibition will then culminate in an auction event to raise funds for Article 25.

We will be donating time and resources to help promote and secure press coverage for the 10×10 event, and our support will be led by PR Account Manager, Jana Pavelkova and PR Senior Account Manager, Louise Gough.  We’ll keep you posted on updates and progress via the Think Tank blog.

The 25th Article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserts that adequate shelter and housing are fundamental to our human rights. Article 25 works to enable this right by building solutions to global problems.

To find out more on Article 25, please click here.

If you want to find out more on 10×10 or get involved in supporting the event, please contact janap@thinktank.org.uk

Feeling emotional


Corcodyl advertThis post was written by The Think Tank’s PR Director Samantha Dawe as part of our on-going sponsorship of B2B Marketing’s PR knowledge bank.

Watching TV the other night I saw that ad for mouthwash Corsodyl again. If you’ve not seen it a model looking in the mirror starts bleeding from her eye. She then spits a mouthful of bloody toothpaste into the sink and we are told that this can be an early sign of gum disease. Mouthwash can help alleviate this.

It is an unpleasant subject and on first watch the ad can seem quite shocking. It’s effective I think, but reminded me of a conversation I had had about the use by charities of overly depressing stats and photos of people and animals suffering.

More successful comms campaigns for charities tend to be ‘emotionally positive’ – about the differences your donation can make to ameliorating a situation. If you make people feel bad, you get their attention, but they may not contribute as they feel it’s likley that a little amount won’t make a difference.

In B2B communications we often focus on features and benefits, we tend much more towards the emotionally postitive route – what difference a product or service can make to how a business runs efficiently or a project is completed effectively.

But what if you are dealing with a Health & Safety in the workplace issue perhaps – you need to grab people’s attention? I’ve seen some gruesome pictures for these too, but one of the best industry campaigns I have seen on this theme uses a powerful strapline along the lines of “because even one accident is too many”. Even one accident matters, you can make a difference therefore… simple, but effective? Has anyone else come across something similar?

Moving into Russia


Russian MagazineThis post was written by The Think Tank’s PR Director Samantha Dawe as part of our on-going sponsorship of B2B Marketing’s PR knowledge bank.

Having supported a client’s PR campaign in Russia from London for a while, we are now extending the support to work alongside a partner agency in the country. We will manage the agency on behalf of the client to ensure consistency through the PR programme.

It’s been interesting to see how the various agencies we have been approaching have responded. With a Russian speaker on our team we can converse easily, but assessing the empathy the agency has with what we need to achieve is still down to how the people at the agency actually respond.

One team has been keen and efficient, another contact rather evasive as to how they actually might work with us, and another supremely confident in their ability but only want to work on a project basis.

PR is very much a people business, and I anticipate several more conversations are needed to come up with a truly workable solution. Will keep you posted.

Is social media working?


Social MediaThis post was written by The Think Tank’s PR Director Samantha Dawe as part of our ongoing sponsorship of B2B Marketing’s PR Knowledge Bank.

The PR industry magazine PR Week cites Bruce Daisley, UK sales director of Twitter, as commenting at the recent Adobe summit that too many brands are using social media campaigns because they are cool rather than as a marketing platform with clear objectives. Hear, hear Bruce.

It reports that Daisley said too many campaigns have been rushed through in a bid to increase fans and followers.

In the same issue (3rd May 2013), PR Week reports the Twitter has signed its biggest advertising deal to date with Starcom MediaVest, who’s clients include P&G, Microsoft and Coca-Cola. As well as access to data and new products, they will potentially receive “preferred advertising slots”.

If you listened to WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell being interviewed a few weeks ago on ‘social media’ he was definitely in the “Twitter is more for PR” camp…

What are your views?

100 Year Anniversary of the invention of Formica laminate


FormicaAt the Think Tank, we’re very proud to have worked with Formica Group over the past 10 years.

This year is a BIG milestone for Formica Group – it’s the 100 Year Anniversary of the invention of Formica laminate. 

We are starting to celebrate the 100 Years Anniversary in Europe and visitors to the Design District in Holland last week got a sneak preview of the new Formica Anniversary laminate designs, designed by Abbott Miller of Pentagram in New York. 

Formica Group has also produced this short video where designers and architects around the world wish Formica laminate a “Happy Birthday”…

How to write a press release that gets attention


How to write a press release This ‘How To Guide’ has been written by The Think Tank’s PR Director Samatha Dawe as part of our on-going sponsorship of B2B Marketing’s PR Knowledge Bank.

There have been many tips offered for writing press releases. The key factor is to write a release that gets the main points of your news across clearly and gains the reader’s interest (whether a journalist, blogger or investor etc). This is simple but sometimes hard to do when you may be loaded with information that you think could be relevant.

It’s wise to write down the core news elements when you start to prepare your draft. There is nothing to stop you following this release up with a subsequent release, if you have more news or a progress report to give.And a word of warning: don’t make claims that you can’t back up. You may think this makes the release more attention-grabbing but if you can’t back up a claim with facts and figures, don’t put it in. A good journalist will check the facts. Your competitors may read it and counter your claims too.One of the best pieces of advice for preparing a release I was given was by a journalist, who referred to Kipling’s Six Honest Men. At the time I had to look that up, so to save you doing so here is the appropriate reference:
“I keep six honest serving men (they taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When,and How and Where and Who.”

First paragraph
The Kipling reference relates to the fact that you need to contain all of the elements of the story within the first paragraph of your release. That’s because of time pressures. The rest of the release might not get read, but if you have the elements of the story in the opening paragraph this is what will hook the reader. You can work through the six honest men as a check. Don’t forget to put the date when you are issuing the news, and if the story is time sensitive, and the time too, in this first paragraph or just above it.

Targetting
Who are you writing the release for? Make your releases relevant; you may need to prepare two versions of the same news release for example if you are sending one out to the trade press and one out to the local press. What the journalists will engage with is different in terms of the content and what their publications will be looking for in terms of news, even though the core story itself will remain the same.

Language and clarity
Use language that is straightforward and business-like. Don’t waffle. You can leave further explanations and references to technical information for the ‘Notes to editors’ (see below). As a rule of thumb, abbreviations should be spelled out in full the first time you use them, even if you think that everyone knows what the letters stand for eg: Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). After writing out it out in full the first time, you can use the abbreviation thereafter. Use standard measures consistently – don’t mix them in different references: the box measured 50cms high and one inch deep. If this is what you have been given, go and find the correct measurements in imperial and metric of all dimensions.

Quotes
Subsequent paragraphs expand the story and a quote is usually included (not necessary if you are targeting the traditional broadcast media though). Adding in a quote from a company spokesperson or an agreed third party adds interest and can help bring a story to life. You can also use more conversational language in the quote otherwise it can feel wooden. If one of your staff has won an award for example, have a quote from them too. Killer quotes are passionate: “We have won this award through the efforts made by all of our staff here at Widgets Ltd over the past 12 months. We couldn’t have made this sort of progress without this sustained effort”. Rather than predictable: “We are very pleased that Widgets Ltd has received this award.”

Notes to editors
This is a really useful convention to be aware of. Editor’s notes appear at the end of the release and should be written under a separate heading ‘Notes to editors’. This is the place where you can put in more detailed background information, appropriate web addresses; expand on sources of data etc. It shows you can back up what you are talking about with more context. Depending on how the journalist writes their story this information may or may not be included. Put in a short background paragraph on your organisation here too and the website address.

Final check
Take time to proof read your release before you send it out. It is often worth getting a colleague to give it a proof too as they will often see things that you haven’t because you wrote the copy. Don’t rely on spell checks; we’ve all had that occasion when the spell checker has changed the original, misspelling word into something quite different.

Being an award winner


B2B Awards 2012This post was written by The Think Tank’s PR Director Samantha Dawe, as part of our on-going sponsorship of the B2B Marketing Knowledge Bank.

Just been having a chat with a good contact on a key industry magazine for the architect and design sector, and the subject of that magazine’s annual awards came up…

Now I know how passionate B2B Marketing magazine is about its very own annual awards…and rightly so, but it made me reflect on why we enter and why we encourage clients to enter industry awards.

We have worked with one of our clients for almost a decade. Certainly for the past four years have prepared entries with them for a European-wide series of awards that are seen as particularly prestigious. This year they won one. They are over the moon, and so are we. The press release about this Award is going to be issued globally by the various communications teams.

Entering, being shortlisted and hopefully winning awards can help achieve press coverage certainly.

But winning an industry award can also boost staff morale, attract new business, impress potential investors, gain prestige and recognition from peers and respect from customers, and raise awareness of a new product or service.

It’s worth considering an entry for a local business award for these reasons too – usually in the UK organized on a county by county basis. A local platform for celebrating the very best business successes, they will not only cover how well your business is doing, but aspects like customer service, environmental awareness and staff training and development.

For staff to see their organization recognized within their immediate community and can be really motivating.

It’s also a great way to stand back a bit and assess what you’ve been focusing on and to celebrate any innovations and efforts that are making a real difference to how you do business, or in the services and products you provide.

Of course much depends on the time and resource you have to devote to preparing entries. So set a realistic, tangible goal, for example, entering at least two different Award schemes this year. And if you don’t win the first time, don’t give up… next time you might be that winner.

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