Proud to be working to promote our area

MarkW

We’re proud to be a small business located in North Worcestershire, so it was great to be able to work on an event to promote the area as an investment location.

More than 100 senior business people flocked to the event – held in the unique surroundings of Avoncroft Museum, in Bromsgrove.

Clarke Associates was appointed to the work by North Worcestershire Economic Development and Regeneration (NWEDR) – a partnership of local authorities providing economic development and regeneration services for Wyre Forest, Bromsgrove and Redditch.

Our remit was to:

  • Review and redefine content on the NWEDR website.
  • Develop a strapline to support the overall offering of the area.
  • Develop a series of compelling reasons about why North Worcestershire is a place to do business and invest.
  • Commission a series of videos to bring the area’s story to life.
  • Organise and manage the delivery of a high profile business event, at which the new NWEDR website was launched.

The 14th century Guesten Hall, at Avoncroft Museum, in Bromsgrove – right at the centre of the North Worcestershire area and a quirky and unusual venue, proved attractive to attendees.
We even managed to get a message via video from former CBI boss (and Worcestershire lad) Lord Digby Jones, as well as gaining extensive positive coverage in local media.

You can check out the video here

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“i before m” – meet Jaime…

Jaime

Hello, I’m Jaime. I’m the newest recruit at Clarke Associates, and I’ve been an Account Executive here for about a month now.

I am currently a student at Aston University, in my final year of my English Language degree. Once I’ve reached my dreaded dissertation deadline at the beginning of May, and handed in my 10,000 words, I’ll be working here at Clarke Associates full time.

I worked part time as a PR and Marketing assistant at my university for a year and a half during my studies, gaining experience in social media, internal communications, public relations and event management. I think holding down a part-time job during your studies is really beneficial – a degree alone is not enough in the graduate jobs market anymore. Although I loved working at Aston, the opportunity to work in a fast-paced, dynamic agency environment was something that really excited me.

I sent my CV in and was invited for an informal interview. The offices at The Old School House in Wythall were lovely and the team were incredibly friendly, I immediately felt at home. I was over the moon when I was offered the position a week later.

From day one I felt like a valued part of the team – within my first week I was managing social media channels for global brands, analysing KPIs and pulling together press releases. There’s something new to get your teeth stuck into every day, and it’s great to see your work making a difference to clients.

I chose a career in public relations as it’s such an exciting industry which is constantly evolving – I’ve found that keeping on top of the latest trends is key. I love the fact I get to be creative, writing press releases, website copy and coming up with ideas for social media, whilst providing really valuable content for our clients.

Within my first couple of weeks at the firm I also got involved in the exciting launch of our new innovative website (complete with a very embarrassing picture of me as an 8-year-old). It consists of just one page, and aims to create a unique and clearer user experience. I think its simplicity is what makes it work – a streamlined design that the user can navigate through efficiently on all platforms can never go wrong in my opinion!

Take a look at our new website

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Promotion beckons for Penny

David1

We are delighted to announce that our senior account executive, Penny Thorp, has been promoted to the position of account manager.

Penny joined the company more than two years ago, and has worked on a broad range of accounts and campaigns. She has become an integral member of the Clarke Associates’ team and over the months and years that she has been with us, has demonstrated some real initiative and, importantly, a great work ethic.

She recently played a big part in the organisation of a high profile business event for more than 100 delegates, and supports other clients in media relations and social media work, specialising in online communication.

She has also got involved with organisations such as Birmingham Future that we regard is really important both in terms of career development but also developing contacts and understanding of the wider business community.

We had a small celebration to announce the occasion last week; needless to say, everyone is very delighted for her.

Well done Penny; keep up the good work.

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Feeling listless or full of ideas?

MarkW

Most of us make lists: shopping, ‘to do,’ favourite films. I’m sure I’ve got a list of my lists somewhere.

But not only are they a means to ensure we don’t forget to pick up the pasta for tonight’s dinner, lists are also a very effective means of communicating.

Many websites use them to good effect. The BBC’s Top Ten Most Popular Stories list is endemic on its site. A cursory glance at Buzzfeed’s homepage will elicit The Best Ten Lord of the Rings Puns!, One Dozen Instantly Regrettable Tattoos! and 14 People You Won’t Believe Are Real!. I’ve no doubt your Facebook feed is regularly clogged with Cats Dressed Up As Famous People! For what it’s worth, I think the text lists are inevitably those that don’t require an exclamation mark – they’re usually good enough to stand up on their own.

So, is this all a case of extreme dumbing down, or are lists actually a good way of communicating your point effectively?

Ask me a few years ago and I’d have jumped on my high horse and said the former, but given how people are now bordering on being predisposed to getting their information in bite-sized chunks via the web, and I’d say they’re a really good way of pricking interest or gaining attention.

They’re short, simple and you can link them to something more in-depth if you need to. They can be fun, provocative and thought-provoking. And they’re something you can share with others, dip in and out of and be the catalyst for other ideas.

Linked to an infographic, they can be the spark for a creative campaign or a means to generate traffic on social media.

So let’s not belittle the humble list – scribbled on a scrap of paper, dominant on your homepage or trending away on Twitter, they’re very much the modern way.

I could go on, but I’m currently compiling a list of Ten Celebs Whose Faces Look Like Mattresses, so I’m sure you’ll appreciate I’m busy…

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HSBC

What HSBC’s Birmingham move teaches us: we really care about local news

MarkB1

To many of us south of the River Trent, recent government announcements about Northern Powerhouses and devolution of NHS budgets have been greeted with a sense of tedium and envy.

Nothing good ever happens to us.

But that was quickly swept aside today on news that global banking giant HSBC is to relocate its ring-fenced retail banking HQ from London to Birmingham, bringing with it 1,000 staff. Judging by the social media reaction Birmingham is smiling.

For students of public relations it’s worth taking a step back for a moment and considering the remarkable case study unfolding before our eyes.

HSBC. It’s difficult to think of a company that has endured such a sustained run of scandals – Libor rate rigging, Swiss tax avoidance and Mexican drug lord money laundering to name but a few. It’s borderline incredible that anyone still banks with them. If there was an award for most battle-hardened PR department, surely HSBC’s would be a strong candidate.

So the seemingly universal positive response to the relocation story is fascinating. Despite the reputational body blows, the people of Birmingham are prepared to put that aside and see this for what it really is: a massive endorsement of the city by one of the world’s most influential businesses. It’s a move that speaks volumes about Birmingham’s offer and beyond, and it surely means other big employers will follow.

It’s created a feel-good factor in offices from Sutton Coldfield to Stirchley.

But from a PR perspective it just goes to show: it’s not so much that all news is local but that the news that we really care about is local.

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Brazil

There’s an awful lot of business in Brazil

David1

Those of a certain age might well remember Frank Sinatra singing “The Coffee Song” that includes the line “they’ve got an awful lot of coffee in Brazil”. Those of a slightly younger vintage might also recall that The Muppets did a cover version!

Actually, I haven’t a clue how much coffee there is in Brazil – but I do know there is an awful lot of business, and now I learn, there’s an awful lot of help for businesses that would like to trade with Brazil. And by help, I just don’t mean theoretical stuff, but practical, hands-on, been there, got the T shirt type of help.

It’s all down to the newly launched Brazil Business Hub – a joint venture between the Warwickshire-based GTMA Trade Association and Commercial Doctor Limited (ably run by a business acquaintance of mine, Philip Gray) in conjunction with UK Trade and Investment.

There was a packed house at the launch – perhaps not surprising when you consider the opportunities. Brazil is the world’s seventh largest economy; demand is higher than supply; there are particular opportunities in engineering but also luxury/affordable luxury and low cost products. All of these are likely to experience high growth.

And I also learned that Brazil is the third in the number of internet users in the world – there’s something I didn’t know before.

Practically, whilst there are great opportunities, doing business in Brazil takes time, understanding and perseverance – according to UKTI Regional Director Paul Noon.

The great thing about the Brazil Business Hub – which focuses on manufacturing and engineering – is the network it opens: businesses that are already there mingling with those that want to be there and might need some help getting there.

The launch included hands-on advice. Brazilians, so I learned, place huge importance on relationships – wanting to share their stories about family, friends and leisure – before getting down to business.

The UK brand is well accepted also – we represent quality and that is a real bonus for our would-be exporters.

It’s the same the world over: if you can speak to someone who’s been there and learn from their experiences, you are likely to do better. Good luck to the Brazil Business Hub – and all those who use its good offices.

BBC Midlands Today coverage of the Brazil Business Hub launch

www.brazilbusinesshub.com

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An exciting opportunity to raise the profile of your North Worcestershire business

Penny1

We’ve an exciting opportunity for your business!

To introduce what’s going on; we’ve been appointed to help promote the North Worcestershire area as an investment and business location, highlight North Worcestershire as a leading location for businesses in each of its key growth sectors and promote the range of services provided by North Worcestershire Economic Development and Regeneration (NWEDR).

We are looking for businesses – based in the Bromsgrove area – to attend a stimulating yet informal discussion where we will focus on the question:

What is it that distinguishes North Worcestershire as a place to do business?

As well as helping to shape the future of the North Worcestershire area – we’ve a promotional opportunity for you – you might also be invited to feature in North Worcestershire’s video case studies. Naturally, this is a fantastic (and free) opportunity for you to raise the profile of your business.
North Worcestershire – in which your business is located – incorporates the five towns of Bromsgrove, Redditch, Kidderminster, Stourport and Bewdley. These video case studies will be used on the NWEDR website which is the main vehicle to ‘sell the area’ to prospective inward investors, SMEs wishing to expand and grow as well as providing a single point of contact for potential entrepreneurs wishing to start up a new business. The website currently features information on the area’s quality of life, talent and knowledge pool, infrastructure and reasons to invest in North Worcestershire.

The session will take place at Bromsgrove campus, Heart of Worcestershire College, on Thursday 5th March at 9am.

The discussion – which will last no more than one hour – will enable you to express your views in confidence and will be a great opportunity to meet with other businesses in the area.

If you would like to attend or would like a colleague to attend in your place, please send an email to penny-t@clarke-associates.co.uk
Refreshments will be provided.

Your contribution will help shape a long-term resource to:

  • Promote the North Worcestershire area as an investment and business location
  • Highlight North Worcestershire as a leading location for businesses in key growth sectors to capitalise on the area’s commercial and industrial achievements and potential growth sectors
  • Identify and then promote a range of business-support services.

North Worcestershire Economic Development and Regeneration (NWEDR) is a shared service of Bromsgrove District, Redditch Borough and Wyre Forest District Councils.

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Are you motivated, creative, driven, focused and – well – excellent? We’ve a great internship opportunity just for you!

I’m Ralph, I’ve been working as an intern at Clarke Associates since June 2014 – but now I’m off and they need the next perfect candidate to come on board.

When I graduated in May 2014, like many of my contemporaries, I had no idea where I was going to go next. I came across an opportunity to live, study and work in New York. I decided I was going to apply but I was deferred for a lack of office based experience.

Determined to find myself more experience and reapply I began applying for roles in PR and Marketing. I knew from my experience in Sales that I enjoyed the client interaction and saw the opportunity as a chance to broaden my experience.

After sending a CV and covering letter I was offered an interview at Clarke Associates, a PR and Communications agency in Wythall, Birmingham.

From the very beginning I was welcomed into the company. My colleagues were always willing to help “show me the ropes” and they were quick to include me in different projects for different clients, I really felt valued by the rest of the team.

The hands-on approach at Clarke Associate was an incredible learning curve and was particularly useful for me as I was able to draw upon a wealth of experience from the senior managers at Clarke Associates. Within days I was writing press releases, blogs, generating social media content, measuring KPIs, analysing trends and making recommendations that improved engagement through closed-loop marketing.

Working at Clarke Associates has been an incredibly enjoyable and an invaluable experience, without the skills I have learnt during my time at Clarke Associates I doubt I would have been offered a job with Thomson Reuters, New York.

If you are hard-working, determined and passionate about working in PR and Communications then Clarke Associates is the perfect environment. The skills and techniques I have learnt in less than a year have set the foundations for my career.

If you would like to find out more about this internship opportunity, send an email to penny-t@clarke-associates.co.uk.

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On a journey to collaboration

MarkW

The Midlands has always been inextricably linked to transport issues – good, bad and indifferent.

Inevitably, HS2 always gets a mention as do journey times and all the associated frustrations – the region being an area that people struggle to get through rather than a destination in itself, for example.

But what about strategy and investment when it comes to transport? One body that has been working hard in the background is Midlands Connect, a collaboration of LEPs in the region, associated agencies, councils and business.

Their aim is to “bring together a cross LEP partnership to develop the strongest possible case for strategic transport investment in the Midlands.” So that’s Midlands-wide, and that’s important.

All too often the West Midlands and East Midlands have fought their own battles – for obvious reasons, but often not for the ultimate benefit of the region as a whole. And when you look at it as a whole – its economic strengths, ambitions for growth, jobs already established and created, transport trends and so on, then the Midlands’ case is compelling.

More than ten million people live in the Midlands – and that figure will grow by 10% in the next 20 years. Birmingham and East Midlands airports will double their passenger numbers by 2040, New Street is the busiest station outside of London – the list goes on. All that needs some serious support from transport infrastructure – and serious funding too.

I’d like to think that Midlands Connect is setting a trend for a Midlands-wide approach; where appropriate, of course. Dialogue with government, partnership work, enhancing capacity and connectivity – all are best served by a compelling case that is the Midlands rather than just east or west, just a thought, but collaboration and shared ambition can make a lot more happen than people sitting in silos. If you’re interested in Midlands Connect then you can find out more here.

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OQ_New4

The creator of the Crème Egg has a lesson for us all

David1

I have no intention of becoming embroiled in the Cadburys Crème Egg-gate scandal – following a change in recipe for the chocolate outer.

What is clear, however, is that businesses that ‘play around’ with products loved by consumers do so at their peril. In changing the ingredients of the chocolate outer, Cadbury is playing around with people’s memories, childhoods – and indulgences.

In all the controversy – which has attracted reams of media publicity – one voice to my mind has stood out.

Enter Robin Whitefield – a name I didn’t know until this latest furore. Mr Whitefield, now 78 years of age, is credited with the technical feat of fusing two halves of oval shaped chocolate together without squashing the product. At the time, he was running his own chocolate company that was acquired by Bassett’s which was later acquired by Cadbury which is how Cadbury acquired the know-how.

Mr Whitefield’s verdict on the new Crème Egg, with its changed ingredient outer, is not too complementary. It is, he says, “overwhelmingly sweet” – but he has also come up with some sage advice that is applicable to all of us in business.

“I have always thought that if you are making something for the enjoyment of other people, you should make it so that you can’t make it any better. Well that was my philosophy.”

Mr Whitefield: You have just entered the world of business sages.
And that’s not just sweet talk.

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