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The PHA Group PR Student Awards – we have our winners!

The PHA Group PR Student Awards – we have our winners!

The The PHA Group 2017 PR Student Awards have received a number of amazing entries and we would like to say a very big thank you to all of you who entered, we really enjoyed reading your entries and were impressed by your enthusiasm for PR.

After much deliberation, the team couldn’t narrow it down to one winner, and therefore have decided on the following three winners:

Josh Dunne – Addict Aide’s Louis Delage Instagram Campaign

Kate Eldridge – Smirnoff’s “Love Wins” Campaign

Jasper Stanley – The Royals’ Heads Together Campaign

As a leading UK PR Agency, The PHA Group are advocates of recognising talent and we are committed to reaching out to students to help inform them on what a career in PR can offer them. We run a very successful PR Internship programme, regularly attend University Careers Fairs and host PR Open Days at our offices for aspiring PR professionals to gain a unique insight into what it’s like to work in Public Relations.

Over the years we have been hugely impressed by the creativity and ideas of the great interns we have had at our agency and so we wanted to create an initiative designed to give students a chance to discuss PR campaigns that they felt particularly engaged with.

We asked students to tell us about their favourite and most inspiring PR campaign from the past 5 years in 300 words or less. The campaign could be from any size company but had to be a PR campaign specifically.

We hoped to hear from students who are interested in a career in PR and who are excited about the prospect of joining The PHA Group team for a day of interactive and bespoke activities at our London Offices – and we weren’t disappointed!

We received so many engaging entries which had hard-hitting topics at their core such as mental health, equality and addiction. It was a tough process choosing a winner, and so we decided on three of our favourites.

Josh Dunne impressed us with his understanding of the impact that PR can have and how campaigns can be effective on a low-budget for his entry on Addict Aide’s fictional Instagram account for socialite Louise Delage to highlight how easy it can be to miss the addiction of someone close to you.

Like my addiction

A post shared by Louise Delage (@louise.delage) on

Kate Eldridge wowed us with her description of the “Love Wins” PR campaign for big brand Smirnoff and the real world impact that they achieved with their bespoke ‘equality collection’ vodka bottles which created awareness and supported gender, sexuality, race and nationality equality.

New bottles!! #love #loveislove #lovewins #❤️ #👭 #👬 #👩‍❤️‍👩 #👨‍❤️‍👨 #smirnoff #lgbt #lgbtq #pride #pridemonth #mindyourbusiness #letitgo #loveeveryone #drinkdrankdrunk #drinking #drinks #vodka #absolute

A post shared by Manda (@paanda1990) on

And finally, Jasper Stanley stood out for his awareness that a successful PR campaign doesn’t have to have a monetary impact, but can simply create a conversation where previously there has been stigma – this was achieved by the mental health campaign Heads Together in partnership Prince William and Harry.

#throwbackthursday to @adwoaaboah & her mum Camilla showing that two heads are better than one when it comes to mental health. #headstogether #mentalhealth #oktosay

A post shared by Heads Together (@heads_together) on

The winners will spend a day at The PHA Group learning from industry experts and gaining a unique insight into one of the UKs leading PR agencies. There will be Q&As with our senior team, including ex-national newspaper journalists and the founders of the PHA brand. As a multi-sector PR agency we have expertise across consumer, sport, business, fashion, corporate and political PR and our friendly team are excited to welcome Josh, Kate and Jasper to the agency on Wednesday 19th July.

 

 

The Power of the Pop-Up

With pop-up locations in London multiplying on what seems like a weekly basis, the Cadbury Crème Egg Café in Soho and the Dogs Trust Valentine’s Day ‘MicroChippy’ in Clerkenwell are the latest to have caught our attention. The UK is wholly embracing the pop- up phenomenon and according to research undertaken by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, pop-up stores contributed £2.3bn to the British economy in 2015. With high business rates and ever increasing rent prices, the continuing amount of empty locations will see this passion for the pop- up continue throughout this year.

The Cadbury Crème Egg café on Greek Street has already heavily dominated the press, despite Easter being weeks away. The café which is open a mere two and a half days a week from 22nd January to 6th March is situated in a prime consumer location, in lively Soho. With its appealing exterior creating the perfect Instagram opportunity, it is a perfect example of the impact that social media can have in maximising the exposure of a PR stunt. The novelty factor here is essential and with rumours of an interactive ball pit and crème egg toasties for £2, there is no surprise that interest in the café has been enormous.  With extortionate rent prices in this area, limited opening hours and cheap prices there can be no intention for the café to run a profit. However, what Cadbury have achieved is a huge amount of buzz and excitement surrounding this novel idea. With tickets for reservations sold out weeks in advance and a strong media presence, the crème egg café epitomises the essence of a pop- up with a combination of exclusivity and innovation.

Cadbury Creme Egg Cafe. Image courtesy of Certified Nosh

Cadbury Creme Egg Cafe. Image courtesy of Certified Nosh.

 

The Dogs Trust recently announced their charity pop-up in Clerkenwell which will open over this Valentine’s weekend, 13th and 14th February offering pet owners a Doggy Date venue. Aptly named, ‘MicroChippy’ the aim is to raise awareness of the upcoming change in legislation which requires dog owners to have their pets microchipped. It is a perfect example of tapping into a consumer holiday and offering an alternative from the romantic, oversaturated Valentine’s day offerings which are largely directed at men and women, rather than animals.  The location, a pop-up 1950s diner complete with booths, dog bean bags and treats for the pooches offers dog owners the chance to enjoy a romantic meal with their pets. Visitors will be able to sample champagne and hotdogs provided by Bubbledogs with all proceeds donated to the Dogs Trust. Although the successful business reality for this venue is minimal, what ‘Microchippy’ will do is offer a unique experience while also providing information and raising funds for charity.

Pop-up venues allow for a variety of creative ideas and entertaining customer experiences. We’ve seen that established brands launch them to either freshen up their image, test out a new location or engage with customers.  However, small emerging brands can use temporary locations as a means to further their customer base, and continue to project their brand awareness.

BOXPARK in Shoreditch is the perfect example where established brands like Adidas and Nike sit next to emerging designers and restaurants. For online sites, a physical location offers the opportunity for a physical representation of their brand, and for high-end restaurants, we’ve seen pop up locations as an extension and often more accessible version of their offerings. There are a huge variety of success stories where businesses that once started out in a temporary location have now become household names, or return to the same successful are, year in year out much like the hugely popular food and drink pop up that is Street Feast.

BOXPARK is the perfect pop-up example.

BOXPARK is the perfect pop-up example.

Social media is an extremely powerful tool for pop-ups in order to maximise their exposure and 2016 will see the power of this continue to grow. Ensuring that a pop-up has a catchy, yet unique hashtag and that the décor and signage are on brand is key. If you search #CremeEggCafe you’ll be astounded at the sheer amount of posts on social. Similarly, the temptation of uploading a snap of dinner with your dog will no doubt ensure that social channels are flooded with images of ‘MicroChippy’ this weekend. Befitting the neon lights of Soho, the Cadbury crème egg café has also displayed neon Cadbury signs in the windows, creating the perfect Instagram opportunity for passers-by. If you are interested in extra pointers to help make your brand insta-famous do follow this link. Finally, by inviting key figures and publications to a pre-opening of the pop-up, it is possible to create a trending hashtag and for teaser images to start flooding social media. This results in tempting customers with the excitement of the opening, via social media results in a further excitement on the opening day and beyond.

As 2016 unfolds there is no doubt that the sheer scale of pop up bars, shops, restaurants and animal café’s will continue to multiply. With the encouraged notion of here today, gone tomorrow. You’d better act quickly or you’ll miss them!

The fall of the paywall – enjoy it while you can

By Callum Mollison

News was born free. Its roots can be traced back to the “Daily Acts”, decreed by Julius Caesar, that were placed on public message boards in Ancient Rome. They contained news on everything from political happenings to prominent marriages.

Last month, Britain’s biggest-selling tabloid newspaper, the Sun, followed in this tradition by disarming its paywall. It may safely be inferred that this was largely for monetary reasons. Alas, the Sun has not suddenly emerged as a revenant of the enlightenment, fighting for the right of the public to free information.

The fact is that the Sun has failed to garner the same number of views as its rivals, the Mail Online and the Mirror, behind its paywall. The advent of social media has diversified methods of news distribution, so whilst paywalls have gone up, barriers to journalism have fallen – the information behind a paywall can be placed on Facebook by anyone with an opinion. However, those newspapers without a wall can benefit from the social media users option to share, which generates subsequent click-through views.

The Sun recently took down their paywall.

The Sun recently took down their paywall.

 

However, free news will not last. The emergence of the digital age may have given news-lovers a brief, charge-free moment in the sunshine, but the sun is already setting. To understand this you must look to history. The appearance of the first modern newspaper was accompanied by a charge when the Venetians decided to charge one gazette for news-sheets in 1556. The newspaper meant that news was no longer a state-funded right but an independent and profitable venture. As long as there is money to be made, news will never be free.

One survey has shown that nearly three-quarters of newspapers are now charging for online content and print-media is dying. The Sun’s publisher, News UK (owned by Rupert Murdoch), is, in fact, keeping the subscription model for its Times and Sunday Times publications. This model is also proving successful for publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and the Economist.

As soon as other news sources learn how to grow their audiences, take advantage of social media and make more from advertising they will erect paywalls. Other business models are simply inadequate when people are willing to pay.

The future of the news is paved with paywalls. Why am I so sure of this? Look around you on public transport. Do you see young people carrying newspapers? Rarely. The real picture you see is dozens of people glued to their phones and this trend will certainly worsen as accessible WiFi spreads. The modern man doesn’t want to carry a newspaper; he wants quick, easy, weightless information. In fact, a 2013 study in the Guardian showed that 20% of 25-34 year-olds have already paid for online news. 

There will be no more Julius Caesar’s. There will only be newspapers catching up with technology.

Five tips for PR interns

I’ve learned a lot in my short stay at The PHA Group about the world of PR and for that I’m incredibly grateful.

So, if you are thinking about a PR internship, here are five quick pointers:

  1. Be curious about the bigger picture: One of the things that makes PR so interesting is its complexity. More is constantly going on than meets the eye. Always deliver on a brief but be sure to ask about the bigger picture and where it fits in with the strategic goals of the clients and the agency. Knowing this will also motivate you to do the ‘mundane’ tasks and, take my word for it, doing them fast and well will get you far enough.
  1. Don’t think “sell-in”, think “pitch in”: When I was first told to sell-in a story, I didn’t really feel up to the task. I thought I had to master some kind of sales skills and that put me off.  Turns out I had the term down wrong; to “sell-in” is to chat with a journalist and convince them that your content will enhance their piece or publication. So rather than a sales call, you should think about it as a persuasive dialogue. Also, be sure to discretely eavesdrop when an account manager or someone more senior is pitching and study them (without staring creepily though…)
  1. Less is more: If you’re moving straight from academia, you probably use words like ‘ameliorate’ where ‘improve’ works just fine. Of course you do – essays are more about expanding than condensing. To make the leap to PR, you’ll need to make your content short and snappy. Put it this way, you’ll have a journalist’s attention for less than 20 words or 15 seconds (if that). Make them count!
  1. Make friends: This may sound obvious. You want to have a good time and all that. Who wouldn’t right? That’s all well and good but what friends have to offer other than fun is guidance and crucially, backing. If you like the company and you think you’re well-suited for a role, make sure you take time to build relationships with the whole team and you’ll hopefully have more than just yourself making a case for you.
  1. Ask and take risks: Ask questions, and make sure you’re getting enough feedback to improve on your writing, time-management skills and pitching-in. But be grateful and understanding when people take the time to walk you through a task and show you’ve mastered it the next time around. It is useful to volunteer for a task that is more challenging than your previous one – this shows you’re growing and listening. Internships are short and if the learning curve isn’t steep and a bit scary, you’re not doing it right.

Dimitris Dimitriadis

 

Image: Thomas Edwards, flickr.com

#JeSuisCharlie and the Twitter bandwagon

Last week’s attacks in Paris were sickening, of that there is no doubt. The fallout, many innocent people are dead, world leaders are doing their best to be seen to support their French allies and millions of tweets are being sent bearing #JeSuisCharlie.

This isn’t a blog looking at the wider repercussions of the attacks, that’s something far too large to do here, or in any single blog – to look at the rising anti-Muslim agenda, scaremongering and media misreporting, but what can be assessed is the role social media plays in these instances.

Since last week’s attacks, I’d be keen to bet that #JeSuisCharlie has trended consistently. A hashtag which aims to show solidarity towards the victims, defiance against terror and a pro-free speech outlook – big objectives for a mere 13 characters.

Millions show their defiance against the Paris attacks.

Millions show their defiance against the Paris attacks.

The main reason social media, particularly Twitter, is able to spread this feeling of support and defiance is that, simply put, it’s quick and easy to do so – a great advantage. Yet this ‘click and forget’, ‘like and leave’ mentality is its own worst enemy. Take the previous example of #BringBackOurGirls, a hashtag supported by the likes of Michelle Obama to raise awareness around the Boko Haram kidnapping of 300 girls in Nigeria. Remember that? Outraged at the time? Perhaps you even shared the hashtag. But what then?

Social media, of which I like most people am a big fan, makes news quicker, more interactive, and affords people the opportunity to share their opinion. But when it’s just as easy to back worldwide disgust at a terrorist incident as it is to show your enjoyment of a picture of a cat dressed as a lion, in many ways it cheapens the message.

The nature of social media, particularly Twitter, is transient and perhaps the wider question is can a campaign be sustained through this channel and if so, how?

Yes, being able to say X million people worldwide have backed #JeSuisCharlie is powerful in itself, it is a message that society won’t be defeated, but surely a much more powerful measure of impact, of our resistance, is to ask people a month down the line who still really cares? This may sound blunt, but the news agenda moves quicker than ever before and most stories are forgotten.

The Paris attacks perhaps are (and should be) too large to fall into this category, but only time will tell.

More of our football stars should have media training

Reputation PR football The PHA Group

‘Image courtesy of Metropolitan Transportation on Flickr’

Super Bowl XLVIII will soon be here, following all the build-up, showmanship and usual interest in the half-time show.

This year’s match-up is between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks, and it is billed thus: Irresistible Force vs Immovable Object.

The Broncos has the best offence in the NFL, the Seahawks the most brutish defence. For those who enjoy American Football, it should be utterly compelling.

If you have ever been in the US when the Super Bowl is on, you ‘ll know it is a fantastic event, even just to watch on TV while you’re there.

I was once lucky enough to be in the US in the weeks prior to the big game and caught a lot of the build-up.

What stuck in my mind was not so much the fantastic game, but a performance I saw the New England Patriot’s star Quarter Back Tom Brady give.

Brilliant Brady

The brilliant Brady predictably ended up being named the MVP in the game as his Patriot’s narrowly triumphed over the Carolina Panthers (it was the Super Bowl also known for Justin Timberlake being party to Janet Jackson’s infamous wardrobe malfunction in the half-time show).  Brady has been a force in American Football and is one of only two QBs to lead their teams to five Super Bowls (the other being John Elway).

But it wasn’t his performance in the game to which I am referring, but a press conference he gave in the days before.

I remember watching the TV as he sat on a top table, facing a pack of sports journalists, not only from around the USA but the world.

Brady sat there alone, no press officer or PR man in sight (unlike the army of aides Premier League stars have on hand when they are facing the media).

Tom brady The PHA Group

‘Image courtesy of WEBN-TV on Flickr’

Flying solo, he handled question after question with aplomb. He engaged in tactical discussion, faced the tough questions head-on, spoke his mind and was able to share light-hearted moments with the media.

It was nothing short of fantastic.

When I compare that to the way our footballers deal with the media, it really puts us to shame. Not just the players but as a nation.

Brady’s chat was cliché free, comfortable, and more importantly, confident. Most footballers stumble over their words with sentences littered with well-known but forever dull football parlance. Less a game of two-halves, more a tale of two very different cultures.

For a more in-depth look at how the NFL differs in the way it treats the media and is actually written into contracts, you can read this excellent Football Writers’ Association blog here.

Media Obligations

The thought of players being obliged to speak to the media is outlandish here in the UK. Sure, there are obligations which come with TV rights etc, but the system in the States is far superior, certainly from a fans’ point of view.

Some would point to the fact that Americans, as a people, are just far better than we Brits when it comes to talking. That is no slight on either us or them.

The FWA blog rightly points out the college system in the US. Not only does this expose players to the media, but while they are learning their sporting trade, they are continuing with an education.

Most football players in the UK are plucked from school as teenagers before signing pro forms when they are 17 or 18.

Media Training

NFL Logo, Reputation PR The PHA Group

‘Image courtesy of C_osett on Flickr’

But when it comes to sports stars, the fact that the NFL players are media trained is a huge factor.

It means they are equally comfortable in front of a camera or a reporters’ Dictaphone. They can handle most things which are thrown at them.

Fans might say they do not want their heroes coming across as too polished as it means they are not being themselves. In fact, one Premier League club’s media head honcho once told me that he didn’t media train his club’s players because they preferred them to give ‘organic’ interviews.

I beg to differ. Media training actually helps those who receive it – be it a top football player, a company CEO or a charity campaigner – be themselves. It gives them the tools to be confident enough to make their point naturally, to not stumble over words, to take a positive role in interviews rather than being lead through them. Interviewees are not being themselves and are certainly not communicating properly when they are getting in a nervous muddle.

It is true that some players are naturally better than others at speaking to the media. Some already have an eye on a job in the media after they finish playing and Gary Neville and Lee Dixon, in particular, have shown how to take punditry to the next level.  David Beckham’s whole image improved at around the same time he got better at handling interviews.

Making comparisons with a super-star like Tom Brady is tough on anyone, but there has to be a yardstick.

Often with the media, you get one chance to shine.

Leaving dealing with TV, magazines and newspapers to chance really isn’t an option.  A footballers’ coaching should also include media training.

 

 

Despite the media barrage Nigella’s image should recover with time

One of the biggest news stories to break last year was the divorce of Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi, and the series of events surrounding it. Growing up my mother would habitually use recipes from Nigella Lawson’s cookery books, one, in particular, was her second book, Kitchen Recipes from the Heart of the Home which is so well-thumbed and splattered with cake mix it is barely readable. I remember pouring over the glossy pages, admiring this glamorous and successful woman who made cooking seem such a desirable hobby. That’s not to say that Nigella was my ultimate idol. Yet I have always held a certain respect for Lawson, she has endurably presented such a calm and sophisticated presence to the press, certainly a figure in the public eye to admire.

Yet recent allegations have certainly gone some way to changing her public image as a domestic goddess. In one aspect I feel deeply sorry for Nigella who has dealt with circumstances in life that would depress anyone. The death of her mother and sister, and her first husband to cancer is deplorable and tragic, something nobody should have to deal with in their life. Additionally, the mistreatment she suffered from Saatchi to whom she was married for ten years, with which she described the experience as ‘intimate terrorism’. Nigella has not had a smooth path in life.

Yet admitting to drug use does strike a sour taste in my mouth. Although she claims to have used drugs a maximum of 10 times, albeit, through a very difficult period in her life, I still cannot ignore the fact that she has partaken in something that could potentially sabotage her health and send a bad message not only to the public but to her children.

Nigella's reputation will recover

Nigella’s reputation will recover

Although I cannot condone the use of drugs, I still can’t help but feel some sort of compassion towards Nigella. I do vehemently feel that the focus in the media’s headlines on her illicit drug taking is narrow and arrogantly ignorant of why the drug use was initially revealed – the Grillo sisters’ trial. The press are honing in on Nigella’s drug use as if it is her on trial instead.

During the trial, Lawson calmly admitted to her drug use, which admittedly must have taken some degree of confidence and strength. Throughout she has remained dignified despite being slammed by the papers, even though she is the one person who will stand to lose the most. The lack of courtesy toward Nigella’s personal and private life is, I suppose, hard to avoid when you are famous and essentially the public’s business.

It’s safe to say there are very few worse allegations which can be thrown at her and I believe long-term Nigella’s reputation will recover. Her new show The Taste was aired on Channel 4 last night and should help bring the focus back to what she can do in the kitchen rather than what she has confessed in the courtroom.

How to pitch to business journalists

Britain has a rich tapestry of media outlets catering specifically to a business audience. In addition to the business pages in the likes of the FT, Times, Telegraph, Standard and City A.M. there are a whole host of dedicated business magazines and websites all keen to share interesting success stories and advice with their audience.

It's essential to understand what journalists need.

It’s essential to understand what journalists need

Many companies when starting out choose to do their own PR in a bid to drum up some media interest. We deal with the business press (both national and specific) on a daily basis and hear the same answers time and again when we ask what they want from PRs.

With this in mind here are a few key tips on what business journalists are looking for, in order to maximise the chance of a piece being used:

  • Be thorough – It sounds so simple but know who you’re pitching to and what they’re writing about. If someone focuses on green businesses and you’re sending a release about a new runway the delete button will be hit faster than you can say ‘bad pitch’
  • Be selective – Journalists are busy and simply don’t have enough time to sift through a mass of information on a business. Be selective in which information you choose to put forward – top detail first followed by a couple of supporting points is a good way to give them a flavour without bombarding them
  • Be honest – Company owners love to talk about their business and quite frankly if they didn’t they would be in the wrong business. However, it is important to realise that what is interesting to you is not always of interest to journalists. Be honest with yourself when selecting your key points and ask, “Does this pass the ‘so what’ test?”
  • Have stats on hand – Telling someone your business is great is the same as a waiter telling you everything on the menu is great. With journalists more pressed for time than ever before you have to tell them immediately why you are great, supporting this with impressive figures. If you say sales are growing say by how much or what percent, talk about staff growth, turnover figures, future projections etc.
  • Be open – If a journalist responds with more questions don’t shut down. They clearly want to explore making the story fit and you need to work with them to make that happen. Many have hundreds of emails a day pitching ideas so be happy you’re over the first hurdle and give your all to make the story stick.
  • Provide pictures – Again due to time and budget constraints many publications simply can’t send a photographer out for every story they do. Invest in a high-quality creative shoot and show the journalist in your pitch that you have images to support the story. This fills more space on the page for them (making their job easier) and makes their magazine and or website look better. It’s a win-win.

If you’ve tried the above and are having no luck then why not speak to The PHA Group’s E&B team? We deal with these journalists every day and are confident we will find a way to generate some powerful coverage in Britain’s top business titles.