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.”

How to survive a press interview

InterviewThis piece has been written by Samantha Dawe, The Think Tank’s PR Director.

Working with the press can be a great way to get stories about your products and your organisation across. But before you leap in for a chat take a few minutes to think through what you are going to say.

Using the press effectively to get your point across is a skill. In most cases, you only get one go at this in an interview, so you need to get it right first time when you are speaking to journalists directly.Whether you’re speaking at a planned face-to-face interview, a quick chat catch up at an industry event or a short briefing over the telephone, you will be in the spotlight. Here’s a short memory-refresher on the dos and don’ts of dealing with a press interview.

Prepare, prepare, prepare
Wherever possible build in time to do some preparation before you meet the journalist. Read the publication they are writing for. Ideally find out what the journalist wants to cover in advance so you can be ready with the right sort of information for them. If you don’t know this in advance, ask them when you meet or speak to check. This will also give you time to collect your thoughts. Have you had some media training? It’s worth it if you are in any type of marketing role.

Know your facts and figures
Remember you can talk to a journalist about any information that has already been announced, and bringing in other examples as context can often help illustrate a point. Again, have facts and figures to hand (be prepared wherever possible) so you can refer to them.

Be succinct
Try to speak in short sentences and repeat key points that convey your view. This helps to minimise the risk of being quoted inaccurately. Resist the temptation to go on and on about your favourite theme unless this is the only subject to be covered in the interview.

Raise points that you feel may be of interest
The journalist may have done some preparation but you are also able to raise points on a subject too. Make sure they that are relevant to the journalist’s train of thought; showing them you are trying to give them as much information as you can is usually perceived as helpful as long as you don’t go overboard.

Be interesting
Bring in how you see the industry or your sector developing, if appropriate. This sort of insight also shows that you and your company are continuing to keep track and responding to change. Don’t speculate though unless you are happy to see your speculations in print.

Don’t talk about areas you don’t know about
Don’t make forecasts about products, markets or sales, unless the information has been agreed beforehand and you can produce the data to back it up. If you don’t know much about a subject, say so. And wherever possible get someone in your company to speak to the journalist who is an expert.

Don’t gossip
And don’t be derogatory about the competition; it’s unprofessional. Just give factual information to the journalist, and let them make their own comparisons. Talking too much about the competition actually helps to sell it, so you may want to avoid that.

Don’t be evasive
If you don’t know something (see point 1 above) or you feel you need to get more information in front of you, say you will find out for the journalist and get back to them; check the deadline they are working on. This can also be used to ‘buy some time’ while you formulate an appropriate response to a tricky question. But if you promise further information, make sure it is followed up, even if it is to say that you need more time.

Use colourful phrases with care
Avoid the use of particularly colourful phrases unless you are absolutely sure you want them used. Otherwise, they may appear out of context or as headlines. A sub-editor may well select the juiciest quote from a journalist’s copy just for this purpose: “Widget Ltd’s Marketing Director Paul Smith says that they are murdering the competition”. Enough said.

Don’t go “Off-the record” unless you are really, really confident
This can be a dangerous trap – you are giving information ‘off-the-record’ for a journalist’s guidance, they should not publish it under any circumstances.

You have to tell the journalist the information is ‘off-the-record’ before you give them the information. The phrase should not be used retrospectively.

You should then say when the information you are discussing is ‘back on the record’ that means they can write up what you are saying.

A general rule of thumb is not using ‘off-the-record’ at all. In exceptional circumstances with a journalist that can really be trusted and you know – for example a trade press journalist you are in regular touch with and you know writes in a fair and informed way, and above all will respect this convention, you might be OK. But why chance it?

A Director I knew went ‘off the record’ with a journalist to say that he expected the privately-owned company he worked for would be floated in the next six months. It was a great story and appeared in print. You can imagine the fall out that happened when it was published.

This piece was written as part of The Think Tank’s sponsorship of the PR Section of B2B Marketing’s Knowledge Bank, and forms part of a series of guides, blog posts, case studies and a white papers.

B&Q rolls out new brand strategy

B&Q logoHandy PricesB&Q has released a new brand strategy, courtesy of Karmarama, to help drive sales.

Called “Handy Prices“, the campaign will see the DIY business lower the prices of hundreds of products, predominately those used on a more regular basis, and keep them at this new lower price, permanently. 

The campaign is the first piece of work completed for them by Karmarama since their appointment last year, and may come as a surprise to some as they are without a Marketing Director since the departure of Katherine Paterson in October, the spot being covered in the iterim by brand director David Hutchinson.

The campaign will run on TV, radio and print. The TV ad is shown below, the most notable thing is the lack of products in this ad, so it will be interesting to see how this approach works for them. Take a look for yourself and let us know what you think.

55 Years of the Lego Brick

Imagine a movieImagine a bookImagine a bandImagine a songTo celebrate 55 years, Lego has created a tumblr account called “55 years of the brick”.

They’ve released 55 simple but effective print adverts, asking you to imagine a song, band, movie or book.

See if you can guess what the ads represent – there are a few challenging ones.

The Lego posting has a lot of advertising around it, which can be annoying, but you can view them all at Gizmodo here without the ads.

100 Years for Formica featured in The Guardian

Formica 100 years logoGuardian Formica Article2013 marks the 100th Anniversary of the iconic Formica brand, best known for laminates. The product was developed in USA in 1913 as a replacement for the mineral product ‘Mica’ and thus was called ‘Formica’ and did you know that laminate is made from paper? Many people don’t.

The Think Tank has worked with Formica in the UK and across EMEA for the past 10 years providing a range of marketing services including PR and as a part of the 100 years celebrations we have been working to raise the profile of the brand and its history through the media and yesterday saw a great article published on the website of The Guardian Newspaper.

Formica is an iconic product that is used all around us in our everyday lives and, judging by the fantastic comments posted on the Guardian website, many people have very fond memories of the brand. One of the pictures featured takes us right back to when The Think Tank was based in Soho and used to frequent the Piccadilly Cafe – we remember it well.

The article, titled ‘Shiny, happy households: Formica turns 100′, is written by Oliver Wainwright and looks at the history of the brand, and how it has developed and been used over the years.

To find out more about the history of this iconic brand click here and read the full article or alternatively click here to see ‘Formica: our century-old laminate love affair – in pictures‘, also published on the Guardian website.

You can also click below to view the article in PDF form.

Shiny, happy households_…pdf

Shiny, happy households_…pdf (957 kb)

Waterstones campaign that makes you think

Waterstones AdvertisingWaterstones Press CampaignWaterstones Creative campaignWe like this new ad campaign for Waterstones by Leagas Delaney. Nice copy writing that hits home and gets you thinking.

Surreal ads from Drambuie

Drambuie AdvertisingDrambuie Press CampaignDrambuie TV AdvertisingA very surreal advertising campaign from Drambuie, following on from their ‘A Taste of the Extraordinary’ press campaign. Did Dali have a hand in this?

Not the monsters you would want to meet on a night out!

See the ad below:

Drambuie’s ‘Extraordinary Bar’ cinema commercial, written by Sell! Sell!, directed by Chino Moya and produced through HSI.

The changing nature of news

PR NewswireThere was a great article in the FT’s Inside Business section by the paper’s media editor, Andrew Edgcliffe-Johnson.  Describing how newsrooms have shrunk, he looks at how services such as PR Newswire (owned by UBM plc) are responding and how it sees its future being driven by digital syndication, social media and search engine optimisation.   

As we have commented before in our blog, a rethink has started for press releases as multimedia content to help feed the growing number and variety of news outlets online.  Edgcliffe-Johnson argues that “search and social media trends suggest corporate content will only grow”.   

So not only do we now need to be aware that the majority of news is ‘broken’ online, but that how we package up that news into deeper content will increasingly make a difference. This will have an impact not only in how this might be facilitated both client and agency side, but also that the content must be credible and ‘watchable’.   

There will be a need  closer integration of advertising, digital marketing, PR and investor relations concludes Edgcliffe-Johnson.  

See the article in the FT here. (registration required)

It’s not too easy to stop with bubblewrap

Goodyear Tyres AdvertisingIn an interesting stunt for Goodyear in Brazil, Y&R has been inserting sheets of bubble wrap into newspapers and handing them out to drivers in São Paolo as they wait in traffic.

This was part of a campaign with the the message, “Sometimes it’s not easy to stop.”

It’s a curious one, connecting the addictive pleasure of popping bubble wrap with the potential tragedy of braking hard with poor tires instead of Goodyear’s ultra-grips but quite fun anyway.

See the video below:

How to turn a lightbulb into cash

Independent Tobyboo DesignerTobybooIf you’ve been following our blog then you might remember a post about Tobyboo, a new designer who uses illustrations of the London skyline to produce a range of homewares, including some great looking ceramics.

Tobyboo was involved in the School for Creative Startups and they have both been featured in an article called ‘How to turn a lightbulb into cash’ in the Independent newspaper last week.

The article looks at how Doug Richard, the founder of the school, is helping creative types to understand the business part of their enterprises.

A good read – see more here.

Photography copyright Independent

Shock advertising for journalistic freedom

CJFE 2CJFEThis hard hitting press campaign for the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression highlights the plight of correspondents working overseas and the risks they take to bring us the real news.

They were created by agency Juniper Park in Toronto, Canada

The Think Tank appointed PR agency for B3 Designers

The Think Tank is delighted to announce that it has been appointed to provide PR support for Shoreditch-based B3 Designers.
This award-winning interior design studio specializes in creating distinctive, fresh and contemporary designs for the interiors of hotels, bars, restaurants and for retail spaces.
The B3 Designers team has currently been working on a number of projects including some exciting new ‘eateries’ in the Selfridges store in Manchester… watch this space for more news.


The Think Tank heads off to Russia

Jana Pavelkova from The Think Tank’s PR team is in Moscow this week to provide PR support and meeting journalists with Formica Group at the ZOW furniture show.  

This prestigious show that is held in Russia, Germany and Turkey showcases products and services supplied to the furniture industry. The first ZOW Moscow show was held in 2004 and each year usually receives around 15,000 visitors.  

Formica Group is exhibiting vibrant colourways, intriguing textures and unique designs from the TopLine and Doorline collections, which bring a complete offering to the kitchen and furniture segment. Delegates can visit stand D3, Pavilion 7, Hall 2 from 21st – 25th November 2011 can discover how the Formica Group continues to evolve.  

Please click here to see more about the new collections.


Zaha Hadid Architects designs new Roca Gallery in London

Zaha Hadid Architects has designed the new Roca London Gallery located in Chelsea Harbour. Roca is a leading bathroom brand which, has developed many technologically advanced products that continue to inspire the industry in design.

See more of the new showroom on Contemporist

Photography by Luke Hayes


Roca Gallery.jpg

Roca Gallery 1.jpg

Demonstrating how a worktop can make a difference in a kitchen

Offering a range of options for today’s kitchens, The Think Tank’s work with Axiom by Formica has also been about showing how the worktop can make all the difference to a new kitchen, makeover or refurbishment project.  
Working closely with the home, lifestyle and kitchen trade press, and TV programmes, we have achieved a huge amount of coverage and continue to position the brand as thought leader in the industry.
Tactics have included product placements and makeovers, regular press releases, advice and how to tips, installation guides, themes, trends and comment pieces.

Click here to find out more

PR_Topps Axiom.jpg

Leading manufacturer of electronically switchable glass, SmartGlass™ International, was recommended to The Think Tank when it needed to its raise profile and make further inroads into some specific markets.  

SmartGlass™ International is a key supplier to the healthcare, hospitality, and commercial sectors and is unique in that it only manufactures SmartGlass and is completely dedicated to this sector.  With a track record in supplying blue chip and bespoke clients worldwide, it asked The Think Tank to undertake a PR project to raise its profile in the UK and Middle East.

Read more here

SmartGlass SM.jpg

Groundbreaking business launched into Oil and Gas sector

The Think Tank was approached by Permasense to propose how we would launch this start-up company into the Oil and Gas Sector with a new, innovative and unique product. Permasense is an offshoot of Imperial Collage London and following several years of research, on behalf of BP, they developed inhospitable wireless monitoring technologies for accurately measuring corrosion of pipes in the Oil and Gas sector. This technology is unique and presented the opportunity for use on a global scale to improve monitoring and safety.
The Think Tank proposed the development of a suite of marketing tools and a PR campaign to launch this groundbreaking business.
Read more


Press Relations for IronmongeryDirect

The Think Tank is delighted to announce that is will be working with the UK’s largest multi-channel supplier of ironmongery products, IronmongeryDirect, to provide PR services for this evolving business.

The Think Tank will work on both business-focused and trade-focused media communications for IronmongeryDirect, which over the past few years has achieved many awards for its customer service and business growth, despite the tough economic times. The Think Tank won the account in a competitive pitch.



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