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The best fit-tech that will guarantee you stick to your New Year’s resolutions next year

The best fit-tech that will guarantee you stick to your New Year’s resolutions next year

Bored of making optimistic New Year’s resolutions, only to give a couple of days or weeks later? You’re not alone. According to U.S. News, approximately 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February. Thankfully for you, we have done some digging, and gathered together the best fit-tech out there, that will guide you on your way to reaching your goals next year.

 

Simple Habit

Eager to start the new year off right by embarking on a new path towards mindfulness? With meditation guides in the form of some of the world’s best teachers, mindfulness experts at Google and even former monks, Simple Habit guarantees meditation education of the highest calibre. With the handy ‘On-the-Go’ feature, the app is particularly suited to people who think they’re too busy to keep up with their ambitious New Year’s resolutions. This feature allows you to quickly calm your nerves or anxiety on the spot, with short five-minute meditation sessions.

 

C25K

The idea behind C25K is simple and brilliantly effective. The aim is to get people who have never run before, off the couch and getting fit. With an easy program aimed specifically at beginners, by the end of the eight weeks, participants will be able to achieve their goal of running 5k. The workouts are 30-40 minutes long and incorporate a mixture of walking and running, making it feasible and bearable even for the most run-phobic of us all. All these features are accompanied by a handy audio coach, getting you through those tough moments.

Find a Player

Moving home in the new year? Short of a player for your next big fixture? Look no further than this ingenious app ‘Find a Player’, a multi-platform app designed to take the pain out of organising and finding players for sports games and events. Coined the ‘Tinder for sports’, this app is a unique way to build your social network, as well as connecting all for the love of sports. The company won ‘Best Start Up App Company’ at the 2018 Sports Technology Start Up Awards, and if you are determined to up your sport participation next year, this is the perfect technological companion.

8Fit

If you, like the majority of the population during the dreary month of January, are keen to lose the holiday weight, 8Fit is a great companion to help you along the way. With exercise programs and meal plans, you are guided along the way, with no aspect left forgotten. Daily challenges and motivation tips, plans tailored specifically to your needs, and short snappy 5-15-minute sessions, this app will be your best friend this new year.

 

Have you achieved the results you wanted this festive season? Do you need help promoting your business or application? Speak to a member of our team today to find out how we can help you achieve your long-term goals.

The gadgets you won’t want to miss out on this Christmas

Are you feeling extra smug with yourself for sorting out all of your Christmas presents early? Oh wait is there someone you forgot? In a cold sweat, you frantically begin thinking what you could buy for your friend/colleague/ brother [insert here] that will not only arrive in time for Christmas but will look like you’ve put some genuine thought into their gift.

Don’t worry we’ve got you covered as we take a look at the best gadgets on the market this Christmas – you can thank us later!

Lumos smart helmet

The next generation of road safety. The clever people at Lumos have implemented gesture-recognition algorithms into their gadget. For example, if you have an Apple watch, it’ll detect which direction your hand has moved in. A signal will then instruct the arrow on the back of the helmet letting all other vehicles and riders behind you which direction you are travelling in. Your own personal indicator. Pretty cool idea, right? Don’t worry though if you don’t have an Apple smartwatch, the helmet comes with a detachable device that can clip onto your handlebar, meaning you simply click a button for you to indicate. With 10 LEDs in the front and 38 in the back, you can guarantee a much safer ride. Over six thousand people originally backed Lumos when it was featured on crowdfunding site Kickstarter back in 2015 and we can certainly see why.

Tile pro

The small Bluetooth gadget that gets you out of a jam. If the person you’re buying a last-minute present for has a habit of losing their worldly possessions, then this is the perfect gift for them. Simply clip or stick the tile to the desired item and then track your lost belongings on the accompanying app. The tile brand has been on the market for several years now, first coming to our attention back in 2013 when they managed to raise over $2.5m on an American crowdfunding site. Perhaps tile’s smartest move was creating the Activate Community Find, which gives you access to the world’s largest search party so everyone using the app within range of your lost item, can update you of its most recent location even if you aren’t in that location.

iRobot Roomba

Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, this gadget does exactly that.. The iRobot Roomba is ready to lend a helping hand for all your cleaning needs. Connect the app from anywhere and let the cleaning commence! The iRobot will move around your house with ease, and guile cleaning everything in its path, meaning you come home to a clean house. Once the iRobot has finished cleaning for the scheduled period it’ll automatically zoom itself back to the plug to charge. With nine different Roomba’ and several Braava Floor Mopping gadgets available, iRobot brand is one of the fastest growing assisted cleaning brands currently on the market.

Anker PowerCore

How often do you find you’re out and your phone battery jumps from 80% down to 8% in a matter of minutes? The Anker PowerCore has enough battery to fully charge your iPhone over six times. So, whether you’re travelling around the world or just on a night out, Anker is ready to keep you and your friends’ devices fully charged.

Would you like to learn more about releasing a gadget into the UK market in the new year? Why not speak to a member of our team to find out what we could do for you, and help you achieve your long-term goals.

Show us what you’re made of

2018 has been a stellar year. We have grown to a 90 strong agency, welcomed some excellent new clients as well as continuing to work with some of the best brands, businesses, and entrepreneurs across a variety of sectors.

The start of 2018 was an exciting time for our business as we evolved from PHA Media to The PHA Group. This evolution came about after many months of navel-gazing and realising that as a business we had changed significantly since our inception 14 years earlier, yet our own brand hadn’t reflected this change.   We lacked one key message to explain what we are all about. We required a new brand narrative and identity to that reflected our growth and presented a cohesive and authentic story to our staff and to the outside world.

So, we were delighted to become The PHA Group; Vibrant people who deliver. Simple

Our new brand and identity encapsulated the essence of what we have always been about and what truly sets us apart from our competitors; our people. We recognised that to get the best out of our people, we needed to empower them, and create a culture which will enable them to thrive.  We wanted 2018, our first tear as The PHA Group to be the year that we celebrated our most important asset, our people, in a special way.  And so, in recognition of our people, we launched our own internal campaign called ‘Show us what you’re made of’. We challenged every one of our employees to take on something they had always wanted to do throughout 2018, a pledge to do something that would take them out of their comfort zone and give them an opportunity to show us what they were made of.  The pledge could be personal or professional, all that mattered was that it was a challenge to the individual and gave them the opportunity to demonstrate why the people at The PHA Group are so vibrant.

As a result, we have had employees raise over £5,000 for charities, run marathons, climb or cycle multiple mountains across the globe, learn Braille, volunteer hundreds of hours, write a children’s book reconnect with family members, learn to speak foreign languages and realise passions for cooking, fishing, and cycling. We were overwhelmed with the stories and what our people achieved.

To add a special incentive to encourage individuals to take part there were three very special prizes up for grabs for every individual that completed their pledge, with the top three winners being selected by an independent judging panel. The person with the most compelling journey would be rewarded with tickets to a holiday destination of their choice anywhere in the world plus spending money. Second place would be treated to a weekend away in the UK and third place would be allowed to indulge in a dinner for two at a top London restaurant. This year-long campaign was designed to encourage development, encourage the achievement of personal goals and champion the importance of a great work/life balance.

Angel - Show us what you're made ofAngel, Social Media Assistant set out on an extremely personal challenge to reconnect with her birth father; ‘My pledge was very personal and tough to share at times, but that’s exactly why I chose it. When I heard about the pledge scheme, I asked myself what I’ve never been brave enough to do and meeting my dad was the one thing I’d always avoided – but not anymore.’

Celia - Show us what you're made of

 

Celia, Senior Account Manager said ‘I’ve always agreed with the saying “if you want something done, ask a busy person” but the pledge made me realise how much more I could do with my spare time’

Last week marked the end of the campaign and it was time to pick our winners. Our New York partner agency, 5W, generously agreed to take on the role of independent judges, with three of their senior Directors forming the panel.

Dara Busch, Executive Vice President, Consumer Practice “We were blown away with how real and personal the individuals got with us”.

Shane Russell, Senior Vice President, Technology “It was really cool to see how people adapted the pledge to their lives and goals”

Matthew Caiola, Executive Vice President, Corporate and Technology Practices “So many of the pledges showed incredible selflessness”

At The PHA Group Christmas party on Friday, we announced the winners of ‘Show us what you’re made of’ and were delighted to crown Holly Hale, Junior Account Manager our overall winner for completing L’Étape du Tour, one of the world’s most grueling cycling races. Described as ‘sitting on a bike at full resistance for 11 hours’ Holly managed to take on the tremendous challenge where only 6% of the 15,000 participants were female after dedicating herself to hundreds of hours of training in preparation.

Holly - show us what you're made of

Holly explains: ‘As soon as the pledges were announced I knew I had to give it my best. I really enjoyed the months of training and preparing for the event itself. Now that it’s all over I miss having that one thing to work towards and focus on. Naturally, the prizes were a big incentive to keep working towards achieving my pledge. Having said that, equally as important as the possibility of winning an amazing prize was having everyone in the company know what my pledge was, and what I was trying to achieve. It made me accountable and it meant that I would be letting people down if I didn’t complete my pledge. Overall a great experience with an even better result!’

In joint second place was Hayley, Senior Marketing Manager, and Rory, Account Executive. Both pledgees achieved an outstanding number of voluntary hours to help organisations close to both of their hearts.

Rory said I’ve wanted to help people who suffer from mental health for some time now following battles with depression myself. After a bit of exploring I’ve found myself working for a charity that provides emotional support for people suffering from mental illness through a phone line and text care service. Working on the phones has been challenging and emotional at times, but I enjoy it and feel like I’m making a difference. The pledge really gave me the kick I needed to turn an ambition into a reality, and hopefully, this is just the start of a lifetime helping those with mental illnesses.’

Hayley said “I’ve wanted to do more volunteer work for some time now and the pledge presented the perfect opportunity. I have really enjoyed helping lots of different organisations and will continue to support many of them in 2019.”

In joint third was Celia, Senior Account Manager, who pledged to create a children’s book, which is currently being reviewed by an agent and publisher and provide pro-bono work for a charity supporting blind and partially sighted individuals.  With Angel, social media assistant also securing third place for her commitment to such an emotional journey to reconnect with her dad.

As an organisation we couldn’t be prouder of all the employees who took part in the process and we’re delighted to hear so many are continuing into the new year with their new skills, commitments, and journeys.

As for 2019 at The PHA Group we have committed to another huge opportunity for our staff showing the industry just how Vibrant we all are.

Stay tuned for more…

Top 5 animal charity campaigns

Animal charities are notorious for memorable and often incredibly emotive adverts and campaigns. The key to finding the perfect balance between informative, guilt-inducing and shocking, or imaginative and relatable content is to incorporate multiple communications strategies. Whether it is working with celebrity ambassadors, pop-up events, case study promotions or positioning key stakeholders within the charity in the press, a clear communications plan is important.

Clearly, this is no mean feat, yet there are some animal welfare charities that have got this tricky concoction completely spot on. So, here is the coveted list of the leading animal charities that we think have knocked their campaigns out of the park.

 

  1. Dog’s Trust

 

Dog’s Trust put an amusing spin on its longstanding ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’ campaign, as usual, aiming to highlight the main issue that they routinely face around the festive period: the increased number of people ridding of their unwanted canine Christmas gift. In the light-hearted advert, the charity depicts people treating Christmas presents like dogs- taking a PlayStation for a stroll, playing fetch with a hairdryer and kissing a perfume goodnight. Ending with a woman attempting to wrap a dog up as a present, with Mel Giedroyc’s comforting commentary, we are gently reminded that dogs really aren’t just Christmas presents.

 

What do we like about it?

This is a refreshing withdrawal from the thought-provoking adverts that we are bombarded with over the festive period. Dog’s Trust have found a happy medium between humorous content, whilst also conveying a clear message. The advert is witty, without being too ambiguous. Gathering over 5,243 views on YouTube in less than two weeks, the positive reaction speaks for itself.

 

  1. Blue Cross – The world’s first ever estate agents for cats

 

In April, Blue Cross created the first pop-up estate agents with a twist, the prospective tenants were cats. This initiative was brought to life by Blue Cross in a bid to encourage the adoption of homeless and unwanted cats in its care, as well as making people aware of the importance of mentally stimulating your pets. They also rather ingeniously included ‘architects’ of the cardboard homes in the form of journalists, bloggers, designers, university students and even school children.

 

What do we like about it?

By making Journalists, students and children the architects of these homes, Blue Cross could guarantee coverage and a wide spread of conversation. They also included an all-important personal, emotive touch, by featuring actual Blue Cross pets who were waiting to be adopted in all their imagery. In total, the campaign amassed 10,716 views on YouTube, a great response for the charity.

 

  1. PDSA- Pet Fit Club

 

In this hugely successful campaign, PDSA set their sights on combatting the recently illuminated issue of overweight pets. Whilst on the surface, the concept of a ‘podgy pooch’ may seem amusing (especially when presented with the visuals), there is a serious health issue that must be addressed. Enter, Pet Fit Club, the UK’s biggest and most successful pet slimming campaign competition. Every year, PDSA choose 13 overweight pets from across the UK and facilitate them in reaching their ideal weights, with owners receiving expert advice from PDSA vets and tailored diet programmes to get their pets healthy and every step being tracked on social media.

 

What do we like about it?

The campaign has a nice mix of humour, relatability and importance. They include visuals on the website that help us to see the funny side of the situation, for example images of the ‘10 fattest pets’, yet at the same time, they address it as a very serious issue, offering advice and giving the public the opportunity to track success stories on social media. Everyone loves a weight loss success story, so what could be better than one starring our favourite four legged friends, that you can also follow on Twitter? The campaign generated national coverage in Daily Mail, Metro, The Express, Sky News, ITV News to name a few.

 

  1. Battersea Dogs & Cats Home’s first major brand campaign

 

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home opted for a playful approach in their campaign to raise awareness of the ever-present issue of rehoming rescue animals. With the stars of the advert series being actual residents of the home (Peanut the dog and Misty the cat), the ‘dog and cat cam’ documents the day to day life at Battersea, from health check-ups to their activities centre training. As part of the overall media strategy, the ad was accompanied by mini episodes online with various feline and canine guest journalists documenting the charities work.

 

What do we like about it?

With almost 171,000 views on YouTube, and counting, this awareness campaign has obviously been a success. Perfectly highlighting the brilliant levels of care at Battersea, as well as creating every animal lover’s dream of experiencing the day in the life of their favourite animal. Light hearted, memorable, indisputably cute and accompanied by Sue Perkins’s dulcet tones narrating the whole thing, what’s not to like?

 

  1. The Jane Goodall Institute- Cycle my cell

 

The Jane Goodall Institute’s #CycleMyCell Student Challenge is a mobile phone recycling initiative, set up between Winnipeg Area High Schools. The aim with the challenge is simple; target debatably the most environmentally conscious generation and educate them about sustainable consumer choices, in the form of a competition, with the end goal of protecting the Congo basin where Great Apes reside.

 

What do we like about it?

Creating an informative advert campaign, teamed with a catchy alliterative hashtag and targeting the most social media active and environmentally minded age group is a simple, effective campaign strategy that is a sure-fire way to create a great social buzz and ensure that the campaign has longevity.

 

Do you agree with our choices? To find out how public relations can benefit your business then please get in touch with a member of our award-winning team.

 

Information overload: four tips to get your research paper noticed

Trade Association

Trade associations commission research papers to provide vital in-depth analysis into relevant issues for members to learn from and benchmark against. If supported effectively by PR, insights are covered by the media with punchy headlines, key stats or hot-takes from commentators. Internally, they make great reading on sector issues and provide far more detail than a cursory Google of a topic.

But for every great research paper there are hundreds that don’t engage association members or the public and sit there, waiting to be found in the depths of a trade body website. Too many leave readers switching off from information overload, or keep their best findings tucked inside dense paragraphs of text.

How do you successfully launch an industry research paper? Here is our essential guide for planning an effective report:

Start at the end

The best way to frame a research paper is to consider the launch – your potential audience and how you can and will reach them. The most effective papers are considered from a multi-channel perspective, including social media, content marketing, PR outreach, internal and member engagement. How would you like to engage each audience, and what would they find most interesting? Thinking about how your audience might consume the research will have a huge impact on the design, format, presentation, and contents.

It’s important to consider all the promotional work at the beginning of the project. Too many organisations invest a huge amount of resource producing in-depth reports but rush to promote them at the end, when it’s too late to change anything. And no one wants to hear the dreaded, “why didn’t you …” after spending huge amounts of resource on a project. 

Tell a simple story

Each industry needs its own glossary for jargon and it’s easy to forget that few people speak your sector language. Likewise, with reports, it’s essential to put yourself in the position of the wider audience: will they understand what you’re trying to say, or will it be too technical to be useful to the widest audience?

How would you interest your friends and relations in the report and what examples would they find useful? Can you test the top statistics out on someone who has no understanding of the sector? This is a good starting point for combatting information overload – identify the stories that have the widest appeal.

Think visually

Too many reports barely scratch the surface of the possibilities for presenting and optimising research in the digital media landscape. To pique someone’s interest in a crowded online market, you need to think visually.

Take for example ABTA’s report into travel trends for 2019: all material was accompanied by visual assets, from Instagram highlights to a video discussing the findings.

This ties in to our first point about keeping potential outputs in mind from the get-go. When you start planning the research paper, think about attractive graphics or ideas for striking video and photo content. Develop a mood-board on a simple PowerPoint slide and think about the most effective, striking way to convey your key statistics within the brand guidelines.

Investing in good visuals and on-brand design is essential at all stages, from creating the paper to maximising its presence online through visual snapshots, video snippets and quote cards.

Let the research speak for itself

A well-researched, designed and optimised paper does not need to be self-promotional. It’s important to resist the temptation to be too self-referential when talking about the findings – corporate bragging can lead to an instant ‘unfollow’ on social or refusal to cover the research from a journalist.

A good agency will ensure all relevant audiences know who is behind the paper. What’s more, a plan that distributed the report to the right people, across multiple marketing channels, will ensure your brand is positioned appropriately and impactfully. 

Research papers are excellent communication tools but are too often viewed only as long-form ‘resources’ and are rarely optimised to their full potential by trade associations. From the start of the research process, engage people who will be involved at all stage of the development and delivery. Otherwise you will, quite simply, be selling yourself short. Contact us today to find out how we can work with you and your business.

 How counties can use 2019 as a PR launchpad

It sometimes feels like cricket has spent more time ‘dying’ than being played over the last decade, and that state of perpetual existential crisis is only intensifying as the ECB’s new The Hundred competition looms ever larger.

The cricketing public may be anticipating this brave new world with all the enthusiasm of a medium pacer about to trundle in to bowl at Jos Buttler, but what does it mean for the 18 first-class counties?

The Hundred presents both a challenge and an opportunity. A challenge because the advent of franchise cricket will threaten the identity of clubs whose heritage has been woven into the fabric of the game for 130 years. An opportunity because the new competition does not begin until 2020, which gives them 18 months to fight a concerted rear-guard action, seizing the chance to market themselves to audiences old and new.

The death of country cricket has been much exaggerated. The 2018 Vitality Blast competition drew record aggregate attendance figures in excess of 950,000, compared to 883,000 in 2017, which was a 7% increase on the previous record set in 2015. Run rate at the league stage of this year’s Blast was 8.88 runs per over, the highest of any T20 league globally. The Blast is an exciting product, and counties are showing that an audience can be attracted to watch domestic cricket. The 2019 Blast should be the first to break the one million barrier in ticket sales.

Ironically, the increasing popularity of the Blast has come in spite of a shoestring marketing budget that has prevented it from competing with the Big Bash and IPL. Attracting more spectators is the key to the long-term survival and financial viability of the domestic game. The ECB has decided it must attract a completely new audience by devising a new cricketing format yet the evidence shows that counties can find a willing audience for T20 if they get the formula right.

The coming year will be crucial for counties. If they promote their T20 offering, through cleverly targeted marketing and PR campaigns, they can steal a march on the ECB’s £41m Hundred.

Cricket’s absence from free-to-air television means that counties need to be creative. Targeted press engagement, community campaigns, and innovative deployment of players are all ways that cricket can target specific sectors to drive interest.

Counties should build on the momentum that women’s cricket has in the UK. Of the 26,000 tickets sold for the Women’s World Cup Final, around 50% were bought by women, and thousands of women across the UK took up the sport in the aftermath of the tournament. Counties with a women’s team have a great PR asset, but how many are getting the most out of it?

The Big Bash identified that the gateway to attracting a family audience is interesting mothers in the game. By targeting family sites, women’s titles and mummy bloggers, it’s possible to spread a message quickly through word of mouth and attract larger family audiences. Cricket is a wonderful alternative day out, but somebody needs to be making the case for it to those audiences, rather than speaking to a cricketing echo chamber.

That is where counties need to get smart. It is not fair to expect an in-house Press Office, whose bread and butter is dealing with cricket journalists, to devise and execute a strategy to reach mummy bloggers. Or to deliver a coordinated PR campaign to target students, persuading them that a day at their local cricket ground makes a perfect post-exam celebration. Or to think how local businesses can be reached through the media, turning T20 into a corporate team bonding opportunity.

Arguably, the mistake the ECB has made is to think it needs to find a new audience for cricket. Long-suffering cricket fans should not be taken for granted or ignored. Counties that can find a way to reaffirm their identity can allay the fears of their members, but could also make themselves more attractive to potential new members. Each county has its own ‘brand’: The Oval’s party atmosphere, the sanctity of Lords, the carnival Finals Day feeling at Edgbaston or the charm of Hove and the County Ground. Counties don’t need to be franchises to build a recognisable identity that can appeal to supporters.

Engaging BAME communities more effectively, particularly South Asian communities, is perhaps the greatest challenge that is yet to be solved. Almost 40% of recreational cricket in the UK is played by South Asians, but only 4% make it as professionals at county level. The ECB have launched a South Asian Action Plan, but with a number of British Asian players coming to prominence and a rich West Indian cricketing heritage, counties could do more to launch community projects to engage these audiences.

Surrey batsman Arun Harinath has family roots in Sri Lanka, and as well as working for the PCA, and writing for Wisden, he has recently launched a cricket podcast, The 12th Men. He has an interesting perspective, which is worth considering:

‘There is a definite disconnect between South Asian communities and professional cricket in the UK. A hearts and minds campaign is needed to change perceptions. There is plenty of cricket played in Asian leagues here in the UK, but many clubs feel ignored by counties, while young cricketers do not feel that there is a pathway to making it professionally.

 ‘Cricket needs to establish itself as the essential summer sport by re-engaging with BAME communities and by reconnecting players with fans. Cricketers aren’t visible enough in the UK, but if we can give them a greater profile, and give youngsters role models to look up to then there is a big opportunity for counties to bridge that disconnect and find a home for those communities. Different audiences need different messages, and hopefully counties are starting to realise that.’

 By seizing the narrative over the coming season, counties can consolidate their brand, reassure members, and entice new audiences into their grounds. Cricket is becoming more innovative on the field with every passing season. If counties can replicate that same innovation off the field in the way they sell their brand to potential audiences they can make 2019 their PR Moment.

If you would like to talk about your PR strategy for the New Year, speak to a member of our award-winning team today to find out how we can work with you to deliver a bespoke communications strategy.

Luxury holiday inspiration

It’s chilly outside so what better time than to plan and start thinking of a hot exotic getaway to look forward to in the new year?

To help you take the plunge and maybe treat someone this Christmas to a break away, we’re looking at the best luxury holiday websites to book your well-deserved holiday.

Flash Pack

Flash Pack connects like-minded professionals in their 30s and 40s in groups to travel together. Flash Pack curates the group dynamic, so that everyone is on the same wavelength. Around 95% of Flashpackers fly solo and most are single, but this is more about friendship rather than dating. They also have a kind-people only policy: to make sure that everyone shares the same travel values.

Flash Pack’s idea is simple, match like-minded souls with comfort-bursting adventure to create some great memories and make the most of their holidays. Flash Pack also sets up the Flash Pack Foundation to channel money back into local communities the groups travel to and support local businesses.

Sandals Resorts International

Family-owned Sandals Resorts International has transformed itself from one brand and one resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica to become one of the most well-known and award-winning hospitality companies in the world. With five brands and 24 properties in seven countries including Antigua, The Bahamas, Grenada, Barbados, Jamaica, Saint Lucia and Turks and Caicos, Sandals Resorts International is the go-to for Caribbean holiday experiences.

Every resort represents luxury from the Suites to the entertainment and restaurants, Sandals Resorts International will make sure you have the time of your life. Bear in mind most Sandals Resorts are adult only so if you wanted to bring the little ones be sure to check the hotel policy before you book!

Destinology

Every Destinology holiday is unique; tailor-made by a destination expert, from a hand-picked selection of superb resorts meeting their exacting standards, by virtue of their excellent quality and enduring appeal. So, whether you’re thinking of a short break in Spain, a multi-centre adventure around Asia, a honeymoon in the Maldives or a fabulous villa that the whole family will love, they’ll make sure you have a special experience.

With Destinology, you’ll have your own personal travel consultant who will look after you right from your initial inquiry, all the way through to returning home. They understand that everyone has different tastes and preferences when booking a holiday, so they’ll listen carefully to you to create your ideal itinerary.

Secret Escapes

Secret Escapes negotiates exclusive rates for luxury hand-picked hotels and holidays in the UK and abroad. As hotels don’t like to have empty rooms, they manage to negotiate attractive prices to make sure hotels are fully booked.

Secret Escapes is a member-only website, all you need to do is to sign-up and you’ll receive targeted deals to your inbox daily. Trust us, it’ll give you massive travel envy every morning.

By partnering with Designer Travel, Secret Escapes is now able to offer a ‘bespoke’ holiday, a personalised holiday service available to members only. So, if you fancy a bespoke option, Secret Escapes will put you in touch with their partner and see how they can create the best holiday package at the best rates  for you.

Black Tomato

Black Tomato is a bespoke luxury travel agency. Everything they do is bespoke, led by the needs and desires of their clients. From organising an unforgettable Honeymoon to putting together a family holidays where all the family can be entertained, the choice is yours.

Their website is a great inspirational tool, giving you ideas for your next trip abroad. Black Tomato also created some experiences like Tasting Notes, a series of immersive, luxurious journeys that their travel experts have co-created and designed with Michelin-starred chefs and food-personalities from around the world.

Are you looking to boost your bookings for 2019? Do you need help diversifying your customer base? Speak to our communications experts today to find out how we can help you.

Could Weibo be the UK’s next big thing?

You would be forgiven for assuming that Weibo is some failed, preadolescent offspring of everyone’s favourite gone (but never forgotten) noughties social media platform Bebo. However, in the absence of Facebook in every Chinese city apart from Hong Kong and Macau, Weibo is in fact one of China’s most popular social media platforms, used by a quarter of the overall population, and counting.

In essence, Weibo is a Twitter-Instagram-YouTube hybrid, hugely popular in China, boasting over 431 million monthly active users. With personalities across business, entertainment and sports, this hidden gem of a social media platform has already taken the Chinese social scene by storm. It even boasts an additional website, which reports on all of the current social trends and developments in the country, called ‘What’s on Weibo’. With such success in China, this platform must surely be on the cusp of bursting into the UK social scene?

Since launching in 2009, the app accumulated around 72 million users in just three years, which is almost ten times the user base that Twitter accumulated in the same time frame in the US. Pretty staggering figures for a platform that the majority of us here in the UK have never even heard of.

Weibo is progressive and very much has its finger on the social media pulse in terms of consciously moving away from heavily text-based content and leaning more towards visuals such as live streams, photos and videos. However, there is a slight catch that explains Weibo’s unprecedented success in China and limits its plausible popularity within the UK market. Since 2009, China has blocked more social media sites than Facebook alone, including YouTube, Twitter and Vimeo, hence leaving Weibo as one of the only platforms left for the Chinese population to get their social media fix.

Having said this, the that fact remains that it is growing faster than any other major social outlet, and if a company is keen to tap in to the Chinese market, Weibo is undoubtedly the platform to do so. Companies such as Luis Vuitton, British Airways, Lancôme and Manchester United FC are ahead of the game and have already made this leap.

Despite the evident disadvantage of having more competition here in the UK, Weibo has been creeping into the newswire and with China often at the forefront of technological innovation, perhaps it is safe to assume that social innovation will also be another string to their ever-advancing bow.

Here at PHA Social, we are always looking for ‘the next big thing’ for our clients, capitalising on emerging platforms, in order for our clients to get ahead of their competitors and gain exposure in new markets. If your brand needs help with their social strategy, why not get in contact with us?

How can universities attract more students?

Over the last couple of years with fees increasing and new opportunities becoming available for further education we’ve seen Universities struggle to recruit new students. In fact, figures from UCAS, the university admissions service, show the overall number of British applicants was down by 3.4 per cent in 2017.

With the new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the Government’s new ranking system, in which universities will be awarded gold, silver or bronze medals based on a range of factors including student satisfaction, and teaching quality.

A PR agency can help deliver and communicate a University’s key messaging and initiatives that are in place. From recruiting journalists to targeted creative social media strategies or organising a press event, and media training your senior staff we’re here to help you to create a communications plan that can help get more students onboard.

Here are some of our top tips for student recruitment:

CSR initiatives

Companies are increasingly incorporating corporate social responsibility (CSR) into their business plans. Initiatives such as teaching kids in developing countries to code or donating money to charity and giving back to the wider community.

The University of Manchester CSR initiative engages students to become socially responsible leaders and citizens to addressing inequalities, the University is putting a lot of different programs in place.

One of their biggest challenges is to ensure their knowledge, expertise and activities help to create a fairer Greater Manchester. They launched the Manchester Access Programme which supports more than 1,800 local students from underrepresented backgrounds to study for a degree and progress into valuable professions such as medicine, teaching and law. They’re also leading an independent Inclusive Growth Analysis Unit in partnership with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to help make poverty reduction central to processes of growth and devolution in their city region.

The University of Manchester is an excellent example of an effective CSR communication strategy. The information is easy to find on their website, it has also created some eye-catching collaterals as well as a short video explaining clearly what they’ve been doing to help the community which has already been shared and viewed by hundreds of prospective students. Don’t be afraid to shout about your CSR initiative it could be the key to attracting new talent and being a student’s first choice university.

Wellbeing and wellness

An Institute for Public Policy Research report last year showed that five times as many students as 10 years ago are reporting mental health conditions to their universities. This has led to an increasing number of charities and universities now acting to tackle mental health problems on campus and improve wellbeing among the student population.

Many universities now offer dedicated events and initiatives to enhance student wellbeing. The University of Leeds’ Light Cafe – which uses lighting to boost concentration, lift the mood and increase energy. Pet therapy sessions are used to tackle mental health such as those run at the University of Edinburgh, as well as numerous wellbeing cafes, and wellbeing zones.

The University of Edinburgh recently launched a mental health strategy that involves allocating £140,000 to their counselling services. They will train personal tutors in mental health first aid and offer online support and mindfulness courses to students.

Making sure your students are happy and in a good state of mind should be a priority. Whether you’re offering a mentor scheme, counselling or partnering with Samaritans, make sure your communication strategy incorporates it well with prospective parents and students.

Live Q&A

What better way to display your university’s human side to potential students than to showing the people studying there? Live content has an authenticity that can’t be duplicated. That’s part of the reason why 80% of customers say they’d rather watch a live video from a company than read their blog. It’s the same for Universities. A live video on Facebook or Instagram could help future students to get all the answers they want and accelerate their decision process. It’s also reassuring for newbies to see what other students look like and feel close to them. Live streaming has the benefit of providing unedited and unfiltered content.

In terms of communicating this live video it’s important to put in place a strategy. You want to make sure people watch the live stream, ask questions and follow up if they have any additional questions. Don’t be scared to advertise this on Facebook and Instagram ahead of the event and make sure people from the university also share it. Sharing on their network is powerful as they are your target audience. After the live post is done, don’t be afraid to create some content off of the back of it, create some infographics that you can share on Facebook with some interesting quotes and create a short video from the live video that you can also share.

Showcasing student life

360 Tours, fellow student video interviews, or simply a view of the campus is important for a University to have on their site where potential students can find answers to what life at the university is really like. The information needs to be accessible and showcase the facilities, accommodation and important student life frequently asked questions every parent or child wants to know. Choosing your university is a big decision.

Remember that your audience is Gen Z, a generation that is using digital media and will be looking at their answers online before any other medium. A great media to use is Youtube. The University of Bath produced an effective video showing accommodation, sport centres as well as the science labs all from a student’s prospective and narrative around campus.

London School of Economics have a great section on their site which includes virtual visits, student blogs and a podcast section where students share their views.

Case studies

Case studies are a great way to engage with students as they show the success stories of the university as well as the variety of career paths you can chose. Many universities have a section on their site where they can showcase their student’s success stories. Either having students writing blogs about their journey as a student, what they liked during their time at the University and how it helped them in their professional career. Many universities also chose to create videos of the students during graduation to show what their students have gone on to do after their studies

Swansea University is a great example, check out their “one year with” section on their website. You can follow the journey of a few students from their graduation to their active life. They will give you tips on how to make the most of your student years, tell you more about their studies, and how it helped them find their perfect job.

Research with B2B partners

Postgraduate students and PHD scholars can be some of the hardest spots to fill. Many students plan to continue their studies at the institute they studied for their undergraduate. Building in advertising and showcasing your B2B partners and research opportunities into your communications strategy can be key to attracting these students.

Don’t dismiss publishing your latest research developments and new partners in trade magazines, industry and events and awarding bodies. Utilise the professors and researchers you have on site,  their LinkedIn and twitter profiles are excellent places for students to find out about any new opportunities or latest developments.

There are many ways to attract fellow students but it’s clear that having a clear communication strategy in place is key. PR company will help you leverage your message and make sure you’re reaching out to the right audience by using the right tools.

If your university needs a boost for 2019, get in touch with our team of experts today.

Six steps to prepare yourself for media interviews

The prospect of being interviewed by a journalist can seem a little daunting, especially if it has been squeezed into a short timeframe, during which you are the spokesperson for an entire organisation or its viewpoint. If handled badly, media interviews – particularly broadcast ones – can be a disaster for your own brand and the company, with lasting consequences.

Just look at Elon Musk. When he made the fateful decision to drink whiskey and smoke cannabis during an on-air interview with host Joe Rogan, the following day two chief execs quit and Tesla’s shares plummeted.

And last month Persimmon boss Jeff Fairburn was forced to quit after an on-screen grilling over his £75m bonus ended in a lot of squirming, Jeff walking out of the interview and lots of subsequent negative headlines.

To make sure the worst-case scenario doesn’t become a reality for you, there are a few key preparation stages for media interviews. The following steps will help you make the most of every opportunity to drive your company’s story forward, pushing positive and commercially important media messages to market in the appropriate way.

With the initial advice of steering clear of alcohol and drugs out the way, here are six key steps to prepare and succeed in media interviews:

Familiarise yourself with the interview format and medium

Knowing the type of interview that you are being put forward for is crucial. Firstly, work out which media platform  the interview is being published on. If it is a written piece in print or online, then the delivery of the interview will be different compared to a TV or radio interview. Whether the interview is live or being pre-recorded will also shape the way in which you should prepare. Knowing and understanding the type of interview you are going into and the format will allow you to successfully plan your talking points, timing and presentation.

Know who you’re talking to  

Ensure you know who the interviewer is and that you’re familiar with their segment, show or column. Look for previous interviews  they have done to get an understanding of their style and type of questions that they have asked before. It is incredibly important to get an understanding of who you will be speaking to. It will make you feel more comfortable when you begin your interview, and this in turn will help you prepare talking points based on that individual or media outlet’s unique interests and even political leanings.

Prioritise your messages

There may be multiple key messages running through your business’ marketing, but not all of them are appropriate for every interview. Understanding the context of the interview; why it’s been set up and what the journalist wants to probe into, is crucial to understanding what business messages you can and should be delivering. This should be at the forefront of your mind when being questioned. Pull together three to four key proof points that convey the overarching message you’d like to share publicly. If you need (on a phone interview), have a cheat sheet to hand or some flash cards that keep your comments focused. Even though it is crucial to push your viewpoint across, you should not fall into the trap of repeating the same answer and should remain authentic when responding to questions.

It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it

You can have all the right messages and facts to hand, but the style of delivery is also crucial to successfully answering media questions. How you deliver your answers can inspire confidence, convey remorse and sincerity, or project arrogance or incivility. Particularly in broadcast interviews you must consider body language, response timing, bridging phrases and words to avoid so you can deliver a considered answer. It is also a good idea to practice keeping an even tone in your voice.

Anticipate difficult questions

It’s rare that an interviewer is willing to share specific questions beforehand, but once you have a sense of what the interview is about, consider the difficult questions that may arise. There is nothing worse than failing to adequately respond to a difficult question, or not being equipped with the techniques that deflect negativity – or can buy you time for consideration of your response. This specific, ‘worst-case scenario’ preparation will also be invaluable as it will help you stay calm and collected, demonstrating your expertise, even under pressure.

Practice, practice, practice

This may seem obvious, but it is the easiest way to succeed in your media interview. Spend some time practising potential questions and how you would answer them – and do it aloud. Don’t be afraid to ask more than one person to practice with you so that you get different perspectives on your delivery. In any interview, ensure you’re sat comfortably and with minimal distractions so there’s nothing putting you off your answers.

Interested in hearing how you can improve getting your key messages across and dealing with those tricky questions? Speak to a member of our award-winning team today to find out how we can support you.