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The North East of England is a hotspot for new deals and entrepreneurialism right now. Even though the area has seen some economic downturn since the 1970s, when its traditional industries began to disappear, there have always been some who knew how to weather a storm.

Tenacity, drive and ambition for growth defines entrepreneurialism in the region – and makes North Easteners a force to be reckoned with as they ride the upswing of 2020.

Isabella West, Hirestreet

Isabella is a founder with a mission to provide customers with an alternative to ‘fast fashion’. She set up her business, Hirestreet, in April 2018 to enable women to feel confident in clothes they haven’t worn before but give them the sustainable option of renting them instead of buying a new outfit for one-time wear.

A relatively young company, Hirestreet has taken the fashion e-commerce industry on in strides. After securing syndicated funding last year, Isabella acquired Manchester-based firm ‘Hire That Look’ and is in the process of consolidation, so that both her businesses will operate under the Hirestreet brand.
Isabella has a background in investment banking but has always been passionate about sustainability and supporting women in the workplace. With Hirestreet she’ll be sure to do both in the coming years.

Gary Trotter, Ocucon

Gary Trotter is the founder of Ocucon, the world’s first Video Surveillance as a Service (VSaaS) system, based in Newcastle upon Tyne. Ocucon is Gary’s second venture, as he’s also the co-founder of Hadrian Technology – a CCTV design, supply and installation company.

He’s been amply recognised for this, having been named the most influential installer in the UK security industry by IFSEC Global in 2017 and having his companies ranked in The Sunday Times Fast Track 100 and the FT 100.

A lot of his success is down to his tenacity and perseverance with innovation: Ocucon offers unlimited cloud storage for surveillance systems and aims to make video surveillance an accessible security option for every business. It is the product of a journey Gary and his co-founder Stuart Ferguson have been on since Hadrian Technology; a story about not giving up and packing it in when the going gets tough and the belief in innovation above all else.

Adam Jacobs, Bloom Procurement

Adam Jacobs set up Bloom Procurement in 2012 to do professional services procurement differently. By giving its clients an overview of every step taken to secure a deal, Bloom offers a more transparent procurement process that gives public sector buyers access to more choice between suppliers, and suppliers more profile and opportunities.

Adam is an entrepreneur with a background in consulting, starting his career at PwC before setting up his first business and working as a procurement advisor for a number of city councils. Under his leadership, Bloom saw exponential growth in the past year, with turnover increasing 87% in the past two years and headcount more than doubling in 2019.

And all that has not come at the expense of integrity. Bloom was awarded level two of the Social Value Certificate – accredited by Social Value UK – a first for any procurement organisation.

Ryan Maughan, AVID Technology

Ryan Maughan is the founder of AVID Technology, a manufacturer and supplier of the technology for electric vehicles. Coming from an engineering background, Ryan set the company up in 2004 after working in the motor racing industry. Seeing the impact racing and cars had on the environment and quality of the air, he set out to develop new technology that would reduce emissions and fuel consumption of vehicles through improved control.

His journey with AVID Technology includes a number of milestones beyond its phenomenal growth. In 2010, AVID developed parts for the Ecotricity Nemesis supercar, which went on to break the UK landspeed record for electric vehicles.

After securing £7m VC-backing last year, AVID is now shortlisted for Business Leader’s ScaleUp awards – and more growth is sure to be in store.

Martyn Cuthbert, OnTrac

Martyn is the managing director of OnTrac and founded the business in 2008. A serial entrepreneur, OnTrac is his fourth venture – and that’s not counting the ones he’s invested in! He’s passionate about technology and the impact it has on businesses, industries and people’s lives.

OnTrac supports the digitalisation of Britain’s railways and offers products and innovations to drive a predictive approach to infrastructure maintenance, communication and collaboration. The aim is to use data to create smarter and safer railways, with products its customers can access from any of their digital devices.

The company has been recognised in the FT 100 and the Sunday Times Tech Track 100. Martyn says that for him, the “greatest thrill in business is setting yourself a challenge to create something that has never existed” – a motto that’s sure to keep him innovating for years to come!

From the industrial sector to tech and fashion, the North East is brimming with innovation and great minds that are driving the business agenda.

If you take pride in your work and would like PR support to get your achievements noticed on a national level, please get in touch with our team today.

Charging ahead – five founders in the North East who are unstoppable right now

The average lifetime for a garment in the UK is just two years with an estimated £30bn of unused clothing hanging in consumer’s wardrobes. And yet, still we shop for more.

Society has not only become reliant on fast-food and single use plastic. Fashion has become the fourth largest environmental impact after housing, transport and food, and one which many of us forget about.

Gone are the days when we patch up a hole or replace a button; each week we buy 38 million items with 11 million of them going into landfill. Nevertheless, there are plenty of brands encouraging us to recycle, reuse and rent. Fashion rental is relatively new to the UK, but we’ve found some top brands leading the way, which means consumers are not only being kind to the planet, but also kind to their bank accounts.


Over the past three decades Rokit has recycled over a million tonnes of discarded clothing and accessories. Under one of the UK’s biggest vintage warehouses, the vintage clothing company sells hundreds of one of a kind pieces that are hand selected and sent daily to their four London stores and added to their ecommerce website.

Each garment is laundered, pressed and carefully mended if needed. Any unusable styles are transformed by the Rokit Recycled team who create and customise pieces.

Back in 2019 Rokit collaborated with London College of Fashion where students were tasked to create a capsule collection re-using and re-working existing garments supplied by Rokit. The winning collections were showcased in the window displays in Rokit’s Covent Garden and Brick Lane stores during London Fashion Week SS19.

Here’s to more great collaborations and sustainable pieces at 2020’s London Fashion Week.

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MY WARDROBE HQ is a fashion rental marketplace based in the UK where consumers can access both current and past season designers’ collections as well as pre-loved pieces from individual’s wardrobes on a rent and buy model.

The sustainable fashion brand doesn’t stop there either; they host an array of events at their Brompton Cross store from pre-slopes workout with a KX trainer to meditation and healing sessions.

Most recently, they have launched a pop-up store in Liberty London. Between 11th February and 31st March 2020, MY WARDROBE HQ will bring fashion rental to Liberty London’s Great Marlborough Street store with a specially curated rental edit of event wear – a real first for retail.

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Girl Meets Dress

Girl Meets Dress is a luxury dress hire site for special occasion outfits. Offering designer dress hire to women in the UK and Europe, you can borrow a maximum of three dresses at one time for either two or seven nights.

Consumers can rent a dress from a selection of 4,000 pieces from over 200 designers including Self Portrait, Stella McCartney, Marc Jacobs and many more. There is the option to visit their showroom located in Fulham or have the items delivered home and then sent back after the event.

As winner of awards such as the Drapers ‘Best Innovation’ award and the Redbull Future 50 Top 10, Girls Meets Dress is going from strength to strength. Don’t take our word for it though – check out the dresses for yourself!

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Style Lend

Founding Style Lend six years ago, Lona Alia wanted to help women around the world have access to the world’s most coveted closets and in the process to promote sustainable fashion consumption. Their tagline Fashion Can Save the World is integrated across all strategy and business decisions within the company.

The ecommerce start-up site hosts hundreds of designer clothing that users can rent for a fraction of the cost and return after a few days. The difference, however, is that the clothes belong to someone else. Alongside their rent offering, Style Lend also allows women to monetize their dresses by lending them out to other women, without having to sell them.

Style Lend teaches and encourages us to make a positive impact by consuming fashion in a different way. Their social media channels not only host images of their beautiful products, but also provide tips on how to keep your wardrobe ethical.

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Clothes Doctor

Clothes Doctor is an online clothing maintenance service providing clothes repairs, alterations and restoration treatments alongside their eco-friendly clothing care products. Founded in 2017 by Lulu O’Connor, the brand’s aim is to help modern consumers love their clothes for longer.

Through their services, products, inspirational videos and blogs, and sustainable partnerships, Clothes Doctor encourages consumers to love their wardrobe whilst contributing to a more sustainable lifestyle.

All Clothes Doctor products are made in the UK and are vegan, cruelty-free, and free from plastic. That all sounds amazing, right?

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TRAID is little different from the rest of the clothing brands in this blog. They are a charity working to stop clothes from being thrown away and, where possible, turning clothes waste into funds and resources to reduce the environmental and social impacts.

TRAID achieves their goals by providing a network of over 1,500 charity clothes banks, home collections and charity shops diverting around 3,000 tonnes of clothes from landfill and incineration every year.
Clothes are given to TRAID as cast offs and waste which they transform into high quality stock for their charity shops. All funds raised by TRAID contribute to global projects improving conditions and working practices in the textile industry.

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If you are launching a new product or would like to raise awareness of your sustainability work for your brand or business, get in touch with our Consumer PR team today to find out how we can convey your key messages to the UK media.

Read more on our consumer case studies here.

Brands putting the brakes on fast fashion

Charities and their fundraisers are at the forefront of work to rehabilitate offenders, reduce reoffending and lower the crime rate in areas all over the UK.

In Britain, prisons are under intense pressure—levels of violence are on the up, staff numbers are too low, and complaints about overcrowding are widespread. Charities are struggling to access those in need and access the communities who require extra support the most.

Criminal justice charities must be better resourced to fulfil their role supporting people in the justice system. We want to understand how, and who the not-for-profit organisations are who are making a real difference to the way we live in the UK.


A national social justice charity with more than 50 years’ experience changing lives, building and supporting stronger communities and ultimately reducing crime. Working with disadvantaged adults and young people Nacro educate, house, advise and speak out for them when others can’t or won’t.
In 2017 – 2018 Nacro helped over 32,000 people across the UK providing vital services to ensure communities were well supported. Focusing on the future Nacro overcome barriers presented by individual criminal records and aim to help people move on from previous mistakes by building a good foundation for the future.

In addition, Nacro run training courses for young people who want to gain practical skills to get a job or who are not getting on at school in some cases. An adult aiming to improve their chances of finding work or an employer looking for training to support disadvantaged individuals can also get support.

Crime Stoppers

From community projects supporting regional challenges to launching global campaigns to highlight an issue, Crime Stoppers is an independent charity giving people the power to speak up and stop crime, 100% anonymously.

Crime Stoppers have helped to arrest 145,000 suspected individuals, recovered more than £140 million worth of goods and removed more than £347 million worth of drugs from our streets in the UK. At Crime Stoppers they believe everyone has the right to a safe and crime free environment, but many are scared they will be targeted if they provide information to the authorities. Their anonymous online support, and call lines 24/7, 365 days of the week provide a lifeline to many who feel isolated by crime in their community.

If you haven’t already checked out their ‘Community Conversations’ podcast head over to their site for the latest episodes and find out what support is available in a community near you.

Future Men

At Future Men their vision is to create a better future for every boy, every man and everyone. They work to inspire boys and men to become dynamic future individuals, giving them the confidence to discover what it means to be a man.

Founded in 1988 Future Men is a multi-award-winning charity supporting men and boys helping to tackle stereotypes around masculinity and engaging in the wider conversation of what it is to be a man. Providing practice-led services, Future Men offer group, youth hubs and one-to-one sessions and outreach work offering vital support and advocacy to change lives.

If you’re an expectant dad be sure to check out their #Futuredad support groups hosted around London!

Steel Warriors

Steel Warriors is a charity dedicated to reducing the number of young people carrying knives in the UK. Each week over a tonne of knives are seized from London’s streets. Steel Warriors melt down these knives taken from the streets and recycle them to make outdoor calisthenics gyms. The first gym was opened in 2019 in Tower Hamlets and is already making a real difference to the community and providing a safe space for young adults.

Check out their video to find out more!

Chance UK

Chance UK is an effective and proven early intervention programme that changes the challenging behaviour of primary school-aged children through intensive mentoring and family support. Chance UK have a mission to support young children to avoid anti-social behaviour or criminal behaviour developing later in life.

Developing skills, confidence and providing life aspirations through nine- or twelve-month mentoring programmes help to empower children and change behaviours before they become more complex.
Chance UK also offer the opportunity to be a mentor on one of their programmes providing emotional support for children in a community near you.

If you’d like to find out how we could support your third sector organisation, please get in touch with the team today or visit our service page to find out more.

Not-for-profit organisations preventing youth crime

Superyachts are often perceived as the epitome of luxury and are supposed to be big, brash and beautiful – well, big and brash, at least. They are an ostentatious display of wealth, a deliberate message their owners want to send out to the world.

Superyachts are often perceived as the epitome of luxury and are supposed to be big and beautiful, often showcasing an ostentatious display of wealth.

However, the industry has changed considerably in the last 50 years from when there were just 14 international yacht brokerage houses, compared to today when there are more than 150. Now, out of a fleet of around 6000 superyachts above 24m, around 1400 are available for charter. The world has changed a great deal since the owner of the award-winning sailing yacht, INOUI, was quoted as saying he couldn’t understand why any owner who had invested so much in building their dream yacht would ever consider chartering it.

A generation ago, many owners agreed with him, but the charter industry has opened up the world of yachting to a new demographic. It has put super yachts within the reach of a new type of customer. Once, they would have considered superyachts as an aspiration that was out of reach; now it has become a reality.

Reaching this audience is crucial. Doing it successfully means the whole sector expands; not only in the short-term because a buoyant charter market is good news for owners and brokers, but in the long-term too because today’s charterers are, in some cases, the next generation of owners.

But how do you reach this audience? That’s an important question for brokers and I’m not convinced enough time is spent addressing it.

There are five questions every brokerage house should ask itself:

  1. Have we accurately identified our target audience?
  2. Do we know where to reach them?
  3. Are we conveying the right messages?
  4. Are we using the right communication tools?
  5. Are we using the best communicators?

Reaching this audience requires a leap of imagination because it is not necessarily a typical yachting market. It means moving out of the comfort zone, not talking only to the traditional yachting titles and media platforms – important as they are – but preaching to the unconverted and could-be-converted too.

Chartering offers a unique luxury holiday experience, with a bespoke itinerary and an opportunity to visit remarkable destinations that are not accessible to most holidaymakers. It’s a high-end holiday limited to an exclusive market. There is a mystique to it, which is part of its appeal but also puts off potential customers who could afford to charter but don’t realise it’s for them. They don’t understand it and that may put them off finding out – they don’t realise that they don’t need sailing experience or expertise; that what they are buying is the expertise of a fantastic crew and a captain who will handle every aspect of the trip.

The challenge is to find this audience and explain the chartering experience to them, dispelling some of the myths and spelling out its appeal. That requires more mainstream media engagement than brokers sometimes realise – High Net Worths who currently have no interest in yachting are as valuable a commodity as those already steeped in the industry, they are just more difficult to reach.

Finding a PR agency with experience of engaging with this audience, across the wider luxury sector, rather than an agency with expertise and contacts only in the yachting industry is a way of trying to do so.

There is another reason why brokers should worry if the super yacht industry is not taken as seriously as it deserves: it under-estimates their own value.

Thirty years ago, professional yacht management companies didn’t exist. But today, for yachts over 40 metres, they are essential. The extent of administration and paperwork required to run a crewed yacht has changed out of all recognition as the rules have become increasingly complex. Tax charges and regulations for entering territorial waters have multiplied; dealing with them while also ensuring a yacht is properly managed operationally, financially and technically has become a job beyond the capabilities of an owner or captain.

And, when it comes to buying and selling in an increasingly sophisticated marketplace, brokers add value by their intimate knowledge of the condition and history of yachts; what’s for sale on the open market and, more importantly, what is privately for sale but is not being advertised. Bringing together all the necessary technical and regulatory knowledge, an ability to drive the sales process and to deal with the after-sales process are necessary but under-appreciated skills.

Fifty years ago, the super yacht industry did not exist. Today, it generates as much as £20 billion in revenue and employs up to 300,000 people in more than 6,000 companies with around 300,000 working on the yachts. It is no longer a cottage industry.

Super yacht companies need to take a more sophisticated approach to communications. They need to think more carefully about the image they are projecting and whether they are cutting through to a wider audience rather than talking only to their existing customers.

If you would like to find out how PR could boost your business, then please get in touch with us.

Are you reaching the right audience? Five questions every broker should ask

320,000 people, including 135,000 children, are estimated to be homeless in the UK, according to research by Shelter. Staggeringly, this suggests that one in 200 people are homeless and 84,740 households are housed in temporary accommodation which is an increase of more than 75% since 2010.

On top of these troublesome figures, it is estimated that around a quarter of young homeless people are LGBT, making them about five times as likely as their peers to become homeless.

Homelessness can be caused by many factors such as a lack of affordable housing, poverty and unemployment. Leaving prison without a support network on the outside, escaping a violent relationship or youths being thrown out of the family home after an argument can often lead to individuals becoming alone and isolated.

So, what can we do to help find long-term solutions to this mounting crisis? There are many wonderful charities you can support to help end homelessness. Here are some great campaigns we can all make time to get involved in:


Crisis is the national charity for homeless people working directly with thousands of individuals every year. The charity offers one to one support, advice and courses for homeless people in 12 areas across England, Scotland and Wales.

The charity’s campaign ‘Everybody In’, launched back in 2018 on World Homeless Day, saw the Crisis team up with a mammoth host of celebrities including Tom Hardy, Emma Thompson, Ellie Goulding, Jodie Whittaker and Richard Gere to call for an end to homelessness in Great Britain.

The celebrities have created a video where they read lines from the poem ‘If Everybody Is In’ by Stefan, Crisis’ Poet in Residence, calling for an end to homelessness for good. The emotional and touching video uses recognisable and esteemed figures to highlight the severity of the issue across Britain.

Don’t take our word for it – watch the video with 20 celebrities reading the poem alongside Stefan and two Crisis members.

The Big Issue

The Big Issue magazine launched in 1991 in response to the growing number of rough sleepers on the streets of London by offering people the opportunity to earn an income through selling a magazine to the public. 25 years later The Big Issue is a multi-million-pound social investment business supporting enterprise to drive social change.

Last spring, the charity teamed up with Monzo to launch a ‘resellable magazine’, opening the potential for vendors to earn more. Launched under the name of ‘Pay it Forward’, each magazine will feature a QR code that allows readers to pass the magazine on to a friend, who can then scan the front cover to pay for the magazine again.

For the campaign, celebrities including Gary Lineker, Roger Daltrey and Vincent Kompany were recruited to encourage people to buy The Big issue, read it, then pass it on. The launch came just months after The Big Issue revealed it was testing contactless payments for its vendors in line with UK consumers’ increasing trend for cashless transactions.

The project helps vendors earn more money and counters the challenges raised by an increasingly cashless society. View their heart-warming video on the positive effects The Big Issue makes on many lives and the promotion of the campaign.


akt, previously known as the Albert Kennedy Trust help LGBT+ young people who are homeless or living in a hostile environment after coming out to their parents, care givers and peers.

akt has launched multiple high-impact campaigns where they have used celebrities to nail home the realities of homelessness for the LGBT+ community.

Most notably akt created a TV advert with Sir Ian McKellen, Andrew Hayden Smith, Sam Fox, Paul O’Grady, Sue Perkins and Kieron Richardson, all acting as people who beg and sleep in doorways. Between them, they covered the several generations of viewers and hit home demonstrated the extreme trauma and suffering many homeless people are subjected to.

St Mungos

For nearly 50 years, St Mungo’s has been at the forefront of efforts to tackle homelessness. Each night 17 outreach teams help over 2,850 people sleeping rough, moving them away from the streets, and providing a bed and support.

At the end of last year, the housing charity launched its first user-generated digital content campaign to raise awareness of its work. Participants were asked to post a selfie after waking up and use the hashtag #wakeuptohomelessness to encourage their followers to think about those who have slept on the street.

The campaign attracted several celebrity fans, including actor Laurence Fox and presenter Phil Spencer alongside actresses Tamla Kari and Amanda Abbington, and singer Fleur East.

Fronted by celebrity ambassador Victoria Emslie, the Wake Up To Homelessness campaign has exceeded a Twitter reach of 3.5 million, over 30,000 Instagram interactions and 1,300 new website users in under a month.

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is a Protestant Christian church and international charitable organisation with a worldwide membership of over 1.7 million, consisting of soldiers, officers and adherents. Across the UK the charity provides over 3,000 places every night in 82 lifehouses and helps 1,208 people through their Employment Plus service.

Coinciding with Anti-Slavery Day on the 18th October The Salvation Army launched their campaign #WeAreNotForSale. With the aim to raise awareness and funds for victims of modern slavery in the UK, the campaign encouraged people to purchase and wear a #WeAreNotForSale temporary tattoo. The tattoo design is in the form of a bar code, illustrating how people are being bought and sold as products for profit.

Depaul UK

Depaul UK empower young people experiencing homelessness and focuses on helping in crisis and beyond. The charity supports by offering youths a safe place to stay in a crisis, helping individuals to take the step from homelessness into stable housing, and providing specialist long-term support to help get lives back on track.

In a clever outdoor advertising campaign Depaul shows there is ‘another side’ to homelessness with their unique poster positioning. The poster provides two messages that encapsulate two walls across a right angle. When one side is viewed stereotypes and negative perceptions of the homeless arise, but when both walls are visible viewers read a more complex picture.

The campaign aimed to increase the number of Nightstop volunteers by challenging perceptions around homelessness and volunteering.

Interested in finding out how public relations can benefit your charity or awareness campaign? Get in touch with a member of our award-winning team today to find out more.

What can we do to find long-term solutions to the homelessness crisis?

Over 350,000 people took part in Veganuary in the UK in 2020. The charity inspires and encourages people to adopt the vegan lifestyle for January and hopefully convince consumers to adapt their lifestyle throughout the rest of the year.

With conversation continuously increasing and more brands adopting vegan products, it is clear veganism is no short-term fad.

Leon restaurants have reported that their vegan burgers now outsell their meat counterparts, and with one in four food launches this year being vegan, consumers are now aware of the impact their food choices have, and choices are abundant! So how can you ensure your brand stands out and has a clear share of voice in the online vegan conversation? Here are three of my favourite launches from 2020.

Change your brand aesthetic

Changing your font or colour scheme is risky as it can be alienating, but it will certainly spark curiosity in your core audience. Greggs changed their profile picture and consequential posts to black and white on December 30th, moving away from their traditional blue and yellow. The first post using this style had sharp, techno music, with tagline: ‘Believe the Hype. Greggs X Vegan. Dropping January 2020’.

The style is similar to that of a video game or clothing line launch, providing new connotations to the brand of innovation and modernity that they haven’t pushed for themselves in the past. Posting before January allowed them to be at the centre of the vegan conversation, resulting in triple the amount of comments compared to their previous profile picture on Facebook.

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This isn’t flake news…

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Utilise video

While Facebook has started to give prominence to video on feeds, this isn’t the case for Instagram. Instagram will only serve more video posts if that user has engaged with video in the past. This means that if you want to spend the time and energy creating video content in the one-minute frame Instagram allows, it must be truly eye-catching.

Kettle Chips launched ‘Sheese® and Red Onion crisps’ this month, and their taste test with Bosh TV presenters resulted in the predictable shocks and happy exclamations when they revealed the product was vegan. In November, the brand also created video content with Jamie Laing, reinforcing product values on one of their farms. Yet, this collection of four videos were all outperformed by the one taste-test video for active engagements.

The conversational tone of Jamie Laing’s videos compared to the quick-reactions of the taste-test could be one explanation for its success, or the use of presenters who are genuinely engaged in the subject matter. Regardless, this proves video as an important tool to consider for national conversation moments.

React to cultural phenomena

Who is the biggest ambassador for Veganuary in the UK? Piers Morgan of course! Pizza Hut decided to test their luck with a thread of posts implying that he was eating their new Vegan ‘Pepperphoni’ Pizza in secret, as he couldn’t resist the delicious taste. Both positive and negative reactions from Piers would have increased awareness of the new range, and so there really was little to lose. Sadly, Piers didn’t bite this time, despite doing so many times before. Brands are certainly going to need to be particularly grating to get his attention next year.

Average reviews of vegan restaurant, pub and bar options have reduced from 4.5 out of 5 to 4.3, highlighting that our expectations of vegan options has risen. Launching with a bang on social media in a unique way, before users can get their hands on the product, ensures that you will receive the most hype and attention for your brand.

Peas Morgan

This man ordered the Vegan Pepperphoni Pizza… Piers Morgan can you confirm this isn’t you?

Posted by Pizza Hut Restaurants UK on Monday, 6 January 2020

Contact the social team at The PHA Group today to discuss how we can create awareness for your vegan brand.

How to launch your vegan product on social media

Tell us about your experience to date and your background

After completing an Ancient History degree at Durham University, I began searching for a job and landed in a boutique B2B tech PR agency in London. I had zero experience of the PR industry, but the founder was always keen to nurture young entrants to the sector, and the agency was small and provided invaluable exposure. In three years, I got stuck in to the running of the business and was given the chance to work with senior stakeholders, developing my global PR knowledge.

I then went on to take another B2B PR role, this time within an integrated communications agency. The company was a full services marketing agency which really expanded my knowledge of the broader communications sector and it’s potential, outside the press landscape. This environment, and on-the-job training, added a breadth to my experience that meant a multi-channel approach to business challenges became second nature.

I joined The PHA Group two years ago in the Entrepreneurs and Business department. The role interested me as it allowed me to hone back in on a specialism while not restricting client work to one sector. I was also eager to become part of a team that is passionate and willing to continuously develop, grow and expand knowledge.

The Entrepreneurs and Business team has grown from three to 11 people in the space of three and a half years and we’ve just had our most successful year to date.

What do you like most about supporting businesses with their PR requirements?

Many of our clients are at a “pivot point”; entering new markets, re-branding, scaling or launching something new, which makes each project a unique challenge and one where the team has a huge impact. Regardless of scale or size (we work with start-ups and individuals through to large corporates), each client is open to development and new ways of thinking – they’re united by ambition and give us huge autonomy to shape their public impact through communications.

The Entrepreneur and Business department is not sector specific, enabling us to work with a diverse range of industries from energy to 5G to fitness. No two clients or projects are ever the same!

You’ve worked with many companies and business leaders – what has been the most exciting project you’ve worked on during your time at The PHA Group?

One of my favourite clients has been Octopus Energy, an electricity and gas supplier that specialises in sustainable energy. The team has worked with them for over three years, supporting the company’s growth from 200,000 customers to over 1.4 million customers today. Everyone within the business operates in an agile, transparent way – and at every level the business is committed to doing things better – from green energy through to flexible working.

We have supported the company and it’s CEO across a broad range of projects including lobbying for legislative change (and helping usher in the UK energy price cap), multiple supplier acquisitions, a nationwide community tree-planting initiative and the launch of multiple ground-breaking tariffs that pave the way for a greener, sustainable future in the UK. Being part of the future of smart energy in the UK, and saving consumers millions on their bills, is a privilege.

How can PR help raise your personal profile benefiting both you and a business?

It is often perceived that becoming a spokesperson for your business is a vanity exercise, but this just isn’t the case. Businesses are often missing a trick by not sharing their achievements and ambitions through a personal lens. Brands that have causes and successes to shout about can often benefit from having an individual to bring this to life and media briefing opportunities, when carefully managed, bring a personality and authenticity to corporate communications.

We support the entrepreneurs, business leaders and founders we work with in order to represent their businesses and brands in the public eye. Individuals have the power to elevate their businesses through the media, content and social platforms, ensuring the right people hear about them at the right time.

What sets the personal and corporate PR services at The PHA Group apart from other agencies?

The PHA Group has an unparalleled understanding and hands-on experience of the media landscape. Surrounded by driven and dedicated individuals, the company employs people from all kinds of backgrounds including ex-editors, reporters, broadcasters and designers, providing the team with a huge breadth of experience that most other agencies would have to turn to external training for.

The culture encourages transparency and collaboration within your own and other teams which means you can walk across the office and ask anyone for advice. Everyone’s commitment and enthusiasm to help allows both you and the client to gain experience from their dedicated team and from the whole business. Its entrepreneurial spirit is woven through all teams and departments – with incentives for business development at all levels of experience.

What is it you love most about working at The PHA Group?

The PHA Group is consistently supportive of your personal development, allowing you to create and mould your role into what works for you. The company will always support specific training for individuals in our team and encourages new ideas and improvement. The entrepreneurial culture means that people are continuously driven to succeed and are always rewarded and recognised for this internally.

What sets The PHA Group apart from other agencies is its encouragement and trust in all members of the team, from the most junior right through to senior stakeholders. You are encouraged to work autonomously and everyone in the team forms a relationship with the client. Individuals are recognised and commended when achieving a success while challenges are worked through collaboratively as a team.

If you would like to find out how PR can connect you with the right audience then please get in touch with us today.

Meet our people; Mimi Brown

We know we use too much plastic and we know that we need to recycle more. Food packaging is at the top of a long list for single (and very short use) plastic that we dump into the ground every day.

40% of food packaging ends up in landfill; that’s equivalent to nine million tons of plastic packaging waste. 32% of this manages to leak out of collecting and sorting systems and finally ends up in the ground and ocean.

These numbers appear very depressing, but they also kick start consumers and brands into taking action and changing habits. We’ve looked at the food brands that are making a big difference to our planet.


Tideford cook up a range of organic vegan soups, sauces and pestos that are all made in their kitchens in Devon. Everything is organic, vegan, gluten free, nut free and with no added sugar.

Alongside their delicious products, Tideford are launching a challenge to find an alternative to plastic. All their soup pots are recyclable already, and now they’re working with suppliers, experts and top universities to find a more environmentally friendly and sustainable way to get their soups, sauces and miso out into the world.

Whilst always trying to improve their own carbon footprint, they are also educating consumers on how they can live a heathy and sustainable lifestyle. From blogs on recycling your Tideford soup pots to build a bee house to music festivals and vegan fashion shows, Tideford are making many small changes with a big impact.

Pukka Herbs

Pukka uses an organic string to hold their staple-free and plastic-free tea bag together so tea drinkers can rest assured there is no plastic in their cup of tea and their tea bag is compostable as well as 100% biodegradable.

After four years of research and development, they are now rolling out a recyclable polypropylene-free envelope across their herbal blends range.

In 2017 Pukka began to map their carbon footprint, breaking down their total carbon output from ‘crop to cup’. Now they’re using this data to inform science-based carbon reduction targets and join global efforts to limit warming to less than two degrees.

White’s Oats

As part of their efforts to become a more environmentally responsible brand, White’s Oats have relaunched their Organic Jumbo Oats in a new recyclable paper bag. White’s are a member of the On Pack Recycling Logo scheme and the new pack carries a clear and unambiguous recycling logo on both the front and back of the pack allowing them to stand proud next to competitor brands.

Recently awarded Best Breakfast Product at the UK Quality Food and Drink Awards, the accolade recognises and celebrates outstanding products from UK producers alongside continuous innovative and cumulative efforts to acknowledge consumer concerns around provenance, environment and sustainability.


Ecover is a Belgian company that produces ecologically sound cleaning products made from plant-based and mineral ingredients. They promote clean plant-based biodegradable ingredients, clean recycled bottles and a clean, zero-waste certified factory.

Ecover have pulled the plug on plastic packaging with their brand-new washing up liquid bottle, made from 100% recyclable plastic and re-designed cap that is made of 50% recycled plastic.

The contents of the bottle might interest you too. Ecover have worked with a Belgian beer manufacturer to put some brewery waste ingredients into their new washing up liquid. The formula includes at least 25% waste ingredients from the beer brewing process (water + ethanol). Sound tasty? I wouldn’t recommend drinking it.

Seed and Bean

Vegan and organic chocolate is on the rise but zero-waste chocolate can be a challenge to find. Seed and Bean uses organic ingredients and small scale suppliers to create bold and wild chocolate flavours and wrap their bars up in 100% compostable packaging.

Seed and Bean use packaging like Natureflex, a specially sourced, flexible cellulose film, crafted from eucalyptus wood pulp. As the first chocolate company in the UK to take this amazing zero-waste step, they’re miles ahead of other brands in the market. The chocolate inside comes in some fascinating flavours too. Choose from sweet orange and thyme or coconut and raspberry to tickle your taste buds.


This British skincare brand refuses to turn a blind eye to waste. WiDEYE are proud to have a huge range of totally package free products, like bath bombs and sugar scrubs. Their other exfoliators, cleansers, washes and masks come in metal tins and they stock zero waste bars of shampoo too. Natural ingredients go into their products, so they don’t harm nature’s work in the process.

BOL Foods

A plant-based diet can cut consumers carbon footprint by 50% and BOL Foods make tasty plant-based ready meals to help busy people eat more vegetables and be kinder to the planet.

BOL jars have been designed to be 100% re-usable so when consumers have finished, they can fill them with something inspiring; be that a plant, popcorn or wishes. The brand promotes the reuse of these jars with suggestions on their website and the use of the hashtag #dontwastecreate.

If you’re a sustainable brand in need of PR, please get in touch today to see how our team of experts can help you achieve your goals.

Food brands leading the way for sustainable packaging

Franchising is not new to the business world and with fast-food giants such as KFC, McDonald’s, Costa Coffee, and Starbucks dominating the high street, it seems to show no sign of waning.

However, along with these global giants there are lots of lesser known home-grown firms outside of the FMCG market who are successfully expanding around the UK. Part of the appeal of franchising is that it’s a less expensive form of expansion. Nevertheless, don’t underestimate the significant time and investment required from business owners.

If you think your business has what it takes to start a franchise, there are a few things to consider before you take the leap. We’ve picked six successful brands that are thriving within the franchise world for you take some tips from.

Wiltshire Farms Foods

Wilshire Farm Foods cook and deliver frozen meals for consumers to enjoy whenever they like. With over 300 dishes to choose from, consumers can place their order online and receive their goods hand-delivered by a reliable, local driver for free.

The company targets the over 65-year old’s who may find it difficult to leave their home regularly, and with over nine million in the UK, the need for a food delivery service is on the rise.

As BFA 2019 Winner for Social Enterprise and two Queen’s Awards for Enterprise, buying a Wiltshire Farm Foods franchise provides a proven return. All territories come with an established customer base and turnover, allowing franchisees to make money from day one.

Wilshire Farm Foods is embedded in the heart of each local community, where franchisees can provide a service that supports the customer’s independence, enabling them to live in their own homes.

énergie Fitness

With over 100 clubs across the UK and Ireland, énergie Fitness seeks to empower people to transform their lives through fitness.

When owning a franchise with énergie Fitness you’ll benefit from one of the most comprehensive franchise support packages from business planning and property acquisition through to ongoing marketing and operational support.

Franchisees will become part of a growing industry where all clubs operate in the low-cost fitness sector, which accounts for 38% of the total private sector and is equivalent to 3.7% of the UK population. Best of all, you don’t need to have a previous interest in health and fitness to be a success.

Radfield Home Care

Radfield Home Care is a family-owned company involving three generations. Operating for over 35 years within the healthcare industry and established by brother and sister team Dr Hannah MacKechnie an experienced GP, and Alex Green an active community ambassador. The siblings grew up in the family run Radfield Care Home, so have had a lifetime of caring for others and understanding the unique needs of people as they grow older.

Awarded the British Franchise Association’s HSBC Emerging Franchisor of the Year 2019, Radfield Home Care started as a small and dedicated team of carers to today’s thriving business with 10 franchise partners.

A Radfield Home Care franchise offers a recession resistant business providing vital services to the elderly care market for which demand is outstripping supply. As a result, Radfield Home Care franchise partners operate a proven business model that enhances their local community in a compassionate, yet profitable industry.

Window to the Womb

Window to the Womb offers expectant parents the opportunity to check that their pregnancy is developing normally in comfortable, private clinics with the ability to see pictures and movies of their baby in 4D using the latest in ultrasound technology.

Since being established in 2003 they have expanded the range of baby scans to offer a wide variety of gender scans and 4D ultrasound scans with all clients beginning their scan with a diagnostic well-being check.

Window to the Womb has 40 UK territories that allows franchise partners the opportunity to open their initial studio, establish their business with absolutely no pressure from potential lack of population and then provides franchisees with the opportunity to open a further studio within their territory, if they so choose.

Since humble beginnings in 2003 Window to the Womb has opened 36 franchised clinics with seven of their partners securing multiple territories.

Driver Hire

The first Driver Hire office opened in West Yorkshire in 1983 and since then has grown to become the UK’s largest specialist logistics recruiter, providing temporary drivers to customers, who have their own fleet of vehicles. Customers range from international haulers and major retailers to builders’ merchants, to local authorities and parcel delivery companies.

The original Driver Hire concept was so successful that in 1987 the company started to offer franchise opportunities, with the first franchised office opening in Newcastle later that year. The business then grew rapidly, and today has a nationwide network of over 100 Driver Hire offices, with the vast majority of these owned and operated by franchisee business partners.

OSCAR Pet Foods

OSCAR Pet Foods delivers pet food to consumer’s door across the UK for free. As the UK’s largest pet food home delivery service, their national network of local Nutritional Advisors, coupled with a comprehensive range of products to suit all breeds and lifestyles, provides an unrivalled level of service.

The OSCAR franchise package provides flexibility and choice in accordance with your own level of expertise and skill set. Commencing with the fundamental necessities to launch an OSCAR franchise, the package is designed to provide a cross section of additional business development services that you can tailor to suit your needs providing a personal and flexible experience.

Interested in hearing how we can help promote your franchise business? With years of experience working with brands including RED Driving School, Bounce and Fantastic Services we’re perfectly placed to help you out. Speak to a member of the team.

Award-winning UK franchises

We often think we are reducing our environmental impact when we chuck our plastic bottles in the recycling bin. Job done. However, it may come as a surprise to some that a great deal of our plastic cannot be recycled at all.

Although changing to a zero-waste lifestyle is daunting, and pretty much impossible for the average person, there are changes we can make to reduce our environmental impact. An easy place to start is opting for brands that are producing sustainable packaging or switching up your single use plastic for something that will last a little longer.

Whilst these small changes may not feel like much, it’s an important baby step toward a greater goal.

Here are five brands creating sustainable products and packaging:

Roberts Bakery

Roberts Bakery has become the UK’s first bakery company to switch to 100% recyclable packaging for its Bloomer range. The wrapping is recyclable paper with a recyclable clear film, which means it can be put into the home recycling when done.

Roberts Bakery’s plastic usage has been cut by 53% since moving to its new packaging and the brand intends to move to fully paper wrappers in the future with the plan to extend the new packaging to other product lines.

With an estimated 10,700 tonnes of hard-to-recycle plastic wasted by UK bakeries each year we salute their commitment to making all their packaging recyclable or compostable as soon as possible and hope other bread-makers follow suit.

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BeeBee Wraps

BeeBee Wraps are a great alternative to clingfilm and plastic bags. The beeswax wraps are plastic-free and reusable so you can wrap your food, wash once finished, and repeat.

The start-up claims to have saved over 10,497,600 pieces of planet polluting plastic entering the natural world since their humble beginnings in 2016.

BeeBee Wraps also work with carefully chosen partners to create co-branded wraps. As part of Sky’s Plastic Free Pop Up shop on Carnaby Street and via their online shop, BeeBee Wraps created the Sky Ocean Rescue wraps with prints designed by Kate Moss, Sienna Miller, Fearne Cotton, and Cara Delevingne.

All wraps are made with organic cotton, UK beeswax, pine resin and organic jojoba oil allowing food to breathe and helping it stay fresh for longer.

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Healthy Human

Healthy Human’s mission is to inspire people to Live Life Healthy and contribute towards a healthier planet by reducing our use of plastic. The brand’s products include water bottles, cruiser tumblers and metal straws, all of which are plastic-free and reusable.

Not only are Healthy Human’s products good for the planet but when founder, Richard Stanton, set to designing his water bottle he considered everything from ensuring the mouth was large enough for ice cubes, designing a comfortable 3-finger carry lid and guaranteeing bottles keep drinks either hot or cold.

Healthy Human’s are also dedicated to giving back to the community with their ‘Adopt A Highway’ campaign, beach clean-up participations, and many more.

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Pela have created biodegradable phone cases. Due to the average person keeping their phone for 18-24 months there is an insuperable amount of plastic waste just from phone cases alone. Jeremy Lang, Pela founder, decided that he wanted to change this and created a compostable phone case with a zero-waste screen protector.

Thanks to Pela more than 528,112 people have made the switch keeping more than 290,461 pounds of plastic from being produced.

The start-up has raised more than $125,000 for their 1% for the Planet partners and are working towards raising $250,000 to help protect the US coastlines, oceans, parks and wild animals.

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Stasher creates an alternative to plastic tupper wear boxes with their endless reusable and functional platinum-silicone storage bags.

Useful, reusable, and non-toxic, Stasher bags end the tyranny of lids with their patented Pinch-Loc seal and compact design. Consumers can pick from an array of sizes all of which are durable, microwave and dishwasher safe and oven strong.

Their use doesn’t end in the kitchen, Stasher bags can be used for toiletries when travelling, kid’s art pens, electronics at the beach and even a heating pack.

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Read how we worked with the world’s first zero-waste beauty brand Ethique to launch to the UK market. To speak to a member of our award-winning PR and social media teams please get in touch today.

Small changes make a big impact – sustainable packaging