‘Birmingham – A digital opportunity’

The Digital Revolution

I was recently at a Birmingham Business Breakfast Club event and the guest speaker – Simon Jenner, a technology entrepreneur – gave an inspiring and motivating talk regarding the position of Birmingham as a digital hub.

As we are all becoming increasingly aware, the digital landscape is changing and technology appears to be influencing everything we do.

A great example of this is Uber. Simon explained that within a 4 year period, the company has gone from nowhere to being a $50bn business and the biggest taxi firm in the world. Yet they own no taxis and no taxi drivers – they are a truly digital business.

Brummies Overlooked?

So, where does our great city and the surrounding area fit into the global digital arena? Simon told us that in terms of numbers in employment, digital technology accounts for the 4th largest sector, equalling 40,000 people. The public sector is still by far the biggest employer in Birmingham, with 450,000 people.

However, despite most sectors now being affected by technological advancements and despite 20% of the UK gaming industry being based in nearby Leamington Spa – why is ‘digital’ is still being overlooked?

An Opportunity

Simon is clearly very passionate about his city and technology. The issue from his perspective is that the two have not become aligned as yet, but there’s absolutely no reason why Birmingham cannot become a ‘digital hub’ on a grand scale, rivalling London, Manchester, Edinburgh…

It’s easy to think of this scenario as classic Birmingham – living up to a reputation of a city behind the times. However, it’s thanks to Simon and other visionaries that we should see this as a great opportunity for the city to build a reputation, like any brand, by offering a clear vision and standing out from the crowd.

 

It’s true that without a ‘champion’ business, such as a Google, it has been difficult to be seen as an industry player, but with lots of smaller individual companies – who knows which one of them could be the next overnight phenomenon?

Success breeds success, and the time is now for Birmingham to join the digital revolution.

When the zombies came to town….

zombie

It’s unbelievable how quickly things change. One moment you’re in the office, the next you’re caught up in a zombie apocalypse on Church Street. Of course – It’s nothing we couldn’t handle!

The recent surge of multi-million pound film companies in Birmingham and the Black Country has sparked a whirlwind of interest amongst locals, as the stars of the big screen move right onto the doorstep. Celebrities have been using Midland film sets for the likes of BBC show ’24 hours in the past’ and perhaps more breathtaking, the filming of Hollywood movie ‘She Who Brings Gifts’.

Stars doing their thing amongst the streets of Birmingham were the likes of Gemma Atterton and Paddy Considine,  and with such credible reputations it’s a credit to Birmingham City Council and Dudley Council for being so welcoming, rivalling the popular trend setters in Bill de Blasio’s New York City.

The county’s reputation as reputable and trustworthy with beautiful architecture stands up to the mark as the perfect film set, allowing Colm McCarthy and his team to shut down two busy streets during a working day and turn them into a dystopia.

Colm McCarthy is obviously a fan of what Birmingham has to offer, previously filming the BBC smash hit Peaky Blinders with lead actor Laurie Borg talking about, “bringing the of myth Birmingham, back to the people of Birmingham.”[1]

It’s never easy to pick a key Birmingham street, turn it into an overgrown wasteland and then back into a business district again in one day. Onlookers marvelled as the likes of Paddy Considine and Glenn Close fought off groaning zombies to keep their cerebral matter safe and sound.

Not only were the characters in safe hands with Gemma Arteton at the helm, but Birmingham City Council has made sure that the reputation and trustworthiness of the city has been boosted by their endorsement of this apocalyptic thrill ride.

At kinetic HQ, Upon hearing that Church and Berwick Street were turned into a war zone, we grabbed our survival gear (coats) and headed for a look. An insight into the film industry isn’t something you get every day! Our close-up view of all the technical equipment direct from the hills of Hollywood shows how a future splattered by brain-munching zombies starts life as a camera crew, pedestrian barriers and rigging.

This may not sound exciting to an outsider but for us it was almost as fascinating as ogling the celebrity presence. Why I hear you cry? Our clients Eventserv supply key implements to the film and event industry that, as we have witnessed, are vital in the efficiency and quality control of a blockbuster picture along with their blockbuster service.

We’re not zombies, so feel free to pick our brains (hypothetically speaking of course). Leave you comments below!

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TynES3kLLOI

The Kinetic way – a Shorthouse review

Dan Shorthouse joins Kinetic for two weeks worth of experience

Dan Shorthouse joins Kinetic for two weeks experience. 

‘Knowing me, knowing you, there is nothing we can do’ sung four very trim Swedes in 1977.

This was subsequently covered by four, unbelievably happy, beaming women in the Jewellery Quarter on a crisp Monday in June. I’m not quite sure how or why, but this felt like the perfect welcoming to two weeks worth of work experience in an industry, I was completely mystified about.

Having only finished university two weeks prior, PR to me was still suited and booted men drinking whisky in New York City that I’d watched in Mad Men. This broke up three years of Shakespeare, Milton and Blake and sounded like a mystical, if unlikely, prospect.

From the moment the Kinetic door opened to 3 Tenby Street, I was part of the family. Work experience is a concept that many are sceptical about. “Will it give you a true feel for the industry? Won’t you get bored of making cups of tea?” But no. A real warm feel greeted me as I entered the office and continued throughout the two weeks. The first cup of tea I received was wonderful as a point of reference!

PR is all about communication, trust and chemistry. The tight knit team at Kinetic really knows their clients, their aims and their goals inside out and real strive to provide the best possible experience, not only for clients, but for me too – a tall, Black Country Lad from Wolves. Luckily, my accent behaved itself and was kept to a minimum, especially during key sell-ins. Bostin’ wor it!!

Kinetic certainly keep you on your toes. The rigorousness of their procedures ensures a top quality service every single time; it’s almost unbelievable the attention to detail that the team here endure to achieve. Kinetic would endlessly repaint the Sistine Chapel where possible. Bring it on Michaelangelo, where’s your media release? Media list? Project review? Thought not!

Working here is fun. It’s incredibly busy, but brilliantly challenging. It’s almost like a marathon, run very quickly, with analysis of every turn and every street ticking by in your mind. Strategy is vital. Like my heroes Dave Brailsford and Bradley Wiggins at Team Sky, the “belief that if you improved every area by just 1 percent, then those small gains would add up to remarkable improvement”.[1]

The drafting process is much like this. It’s small tweaks that add up to one major improvement and an unbelievably satisfied feeling that rivals completing the Sunday crossword in the allotted time slot.

A company that sticks to its values are vital and wonderful to see, especially following FIFA’s recent incident which has crushed their respectability. Kinetic’s VMV’s are the chocolate that runs through the Madeira cake that is 3 Tenby Street. It runs right through the business and interlocks with everything Kinetic strives towards; rigorousness, challenging, moral, pioneering and most of all, fun!

I was proud to be a part of that and was made part of the family, if only for two weeks.

Diary full of the day’s deeds, I left fully satisfied that I’d seen the true side of the PR industry. A fast-paced, quick-moving workplace which still finds time to conjure creative ways to promote and push client exposure. PR is definitely about communication; internal, external and on the web. Anywhere, everywhere and everything is all about your image, your face to the rest of the world. Every moment is a time to make an impression.

 

[1] http://jamesclear.com/marginal-gains

The Kinetic Experience

Dom.01

Caption: Dominic Walker joins Kinetic for two weeks work experience

When walking into an interview and the interviewer asks me, “what can you bring to our organisation?” I feel like I could say a lot more than just another typical answer. During my time at Kinetic, I’ve recognised the importance of interaction. PR is all about trying to master the art of communication and direct conversation. Working within an agency like Kinetic has been a great experience, with great people and a great atmosphere – I really felt very welcome.

During my first commute to the office I was constantly thinking about how I should come across to the rest of the Kinetic team. Excited. Happy. Nervous. Shy?  When I eventually arrived at the office, I was surprised at how tightly-knit the Kinetic team are. They instantly made me feel at home offering me tea and coffee – of which I’m still yet to accept- but the bran cake was beautiful.

The Kinetic internship has been a wonderful experience. I’m grateful that I wasn’t just flung into the kitchen having to make tea or coffee, which was the case for so many of my friends during their internships. It wasn’t long after I got comfortable at my desk that I was given a list of tasks to complete during my placement.

One of the most memorable moments during my two weeks was when Angela spoke to me about the importance of Kinetic’s VMV. These sum up the backbone of Kinetic. If the team are at a loss of what to do Angela makes it clear – the VMV is Kinetic’s way forward.

Kinetic has a diverse range of clients and one of the reasons it’s so successful is because of its ethos. I’ve learnt to value the importance of direction in PR, having a clear vision of what you’re trying to achieve is no doubt one of the biggest lessons I’ve taken from my two weeks here.

My advice to any graduate/undergraduate starting an internship would be to accept any challenge and be eager. You get what you put in and the good thing about PR is that your results mirror the amount of effort you put in. Kinetic is definitely committed to producing reputations you can trust. The people within the team are genuine – they gave me the opportunity to learn and grow.

Undergraduate takes on PR placement

English Literature and History of Art student Lucy undertakes a two week placement

As a student going into third year, I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I never have a solid answer for when somebody asks me what I want to do when I leave University. What I do know though is that I want to pursue a career that lets me engage with all kinds of people, with something new and different to do every day. PR is an industry that certainly allows that.

Having never done anything PR related before, I was unsure as to how I would take to it and walking towards the company on Monday morning, my feelings were mixed. I was excited and nervous all at once. These nerves vanished as soon as I walked through the Kinetic front door. As soon as I arrived, everyone made me feel so welcome –  I remember Angela even offering me a crumpet! With a cup of tea promptly in hand, I very quickly felt right at home in the friendly Kinetic environment.

In only two weeks, I feel as though I have learnt so much about PR. What was so great is that I wasn’t just sent out on errands all the time, I was actually given responsibilities and work to do that they could use. It made me feel fully immersed in the company as well as making me endeavor to do the work well that I was set. I was able to get a feel for many aspects of PR with a wide range of tasks, including writing press releases and case studies, making media lists, media calendars and forward features lists, besides much more. This was all new to me and it was a brilliant experience to see what life in the PR world could be like.

Many people will only do what they are comfortable doing and for me, this placement has forced me to take a leap of faith out of my comfort zone. Some would probably describe me as a creature of habit, but I know that in the real world I’m going to have to learn to cope with new and challenging situations. That’s life.

As a student studying English Literature and History of Art, writing is when I feel most comfortable, but I’ve got a confession to make. When I first arrived at Kinetic I had a major phone phobia! On my second day I was thrown in the deep end and although initially very daunting, by the end of the second week my confidence had grown and I was able to do sell-ins. That’s exactly what a work placement is for and I’ll forever be in Kinetic’s debt for helping me get over that phobia – thanks guys!

My advice to anyone thinking of doing work experience at a PR company is to embrace it and lap up the challenge. You only get a few chances to experience a working environment before being thrown into it and work experience is invaluable in helping you gain the much needed qualities that all employers want to see.

It’s only been a short amount of time, but I already know that I will miss the whole Kinetic team.  After this experience I definitely have a more solid answer for when people ask me what I want to do when I head into the world of ‘jobs’ after I (hopefully!) graduate from the University of Birmingham, next year.  Pursuing a career in PR is definitely for me and this placement was the first step in the right direction to help me reach this goal.

What can PR professionals can learn from Frozen?

Frozen is one of those films that will go down in Disney history for both its clever storyline and marketing tricks that ensure it is a family favourite – and not just for little girls wishing to be princesses.

But what can the Walt Disney Company teach us about clever marketing and how did they do it so successfully?

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!

  1. For the first time in forever

Hans, a prince from the Kingdom of the Southern Isles, brings another dimension to a Disney film and no-one sees it coming. He replaces the wicked step-mother that we are all too familiar with and because of his wickedness, he threatens both leading ladies, Anna and Elsa. Disney are stepping away from the traditional ‘good prince’ plot and turning for something darker.

  1. Love is an open door

Unlike previous Disney films Frozen mocks the ‘love at first sight’ mantra and actually, throughout the film Anna learns to love and her ‘happily ever after’ is with ice-seller Kristoff. Audiences get tired of watching the princess end up with the prince and Disney have played on this.

  1. Let it go

Disney have learnt from previous films like The Princess and the Frog that to make a film into a global franchise, they need to make a movie gender neutral. Boys don’t want to watch a film about princesses – and mentioning ‘princess’ in the title is a big giveaway of what the film is about.

They begin mixing titles up with their 2010 Tangled (replacing ‘Rapunzel’) and this grossed over $600 million at the box office – big, but not as big as Frozen.

Loosely based on Hans Christian Anderson’s ‘The Snow Queen’ it would have been easy for them to adopt the name, but by opting to promote Frozen as gender neutral the title Frozen was created and the rest, they say, is history.

  1. Put me in summer and I’ll be a… happy snowman.

Boys respond to humour so the creation of the talking-snowman Olaf makes the film seem that it isn’t all about two princesses. The marketing of the humorous Olaf is what captured boys, the Queen – who can make and manipulate ice is what bought the girls in, while the moving away from the traditional Disney values is what drew the adults in.

  1. Branching out – what PR professionals can learn

Frozen is the fifth highest grossing film of all time, earning $1.219 billion so far partly because Disney saw a possibility for expansion of a brand. When possible, professionals should strengthen the brands they represent through as many different media outputs as possible.

It’s not just a film – it is a soundtrack as well, and the Oscar-winning ‘Let It Go’ is still at number 27 after 33 weeks in the official Radio 1 chart, proving that both the film and the soundtrack go hand in hand.

The Frozen empire is still expanding, Disney have plans to make another film, a musical, and a new featured ride in the Disney theme parks. American TV series,Once upon a time, will also see Frozen characters come to life. Disney are not resting their brand and instead are extending the films life cycle through brand awareness.

This is a lesson that all PR professionals can learn from. By continuing to promoteFrozen through other mediums Disney has attracted a wide audience for many years to come.

Reputation is key in this business – Disney have already sussed it – and perhaps by doing a little more of what they do, you can to.

Hot issues and interesting facts in the PR industry

The typical PR employee: female and in-house. Photo source: guardian.co.uk

Interesting that the recent PRCA survey identified the hot issues for the industry:

•               SEO

•               Online communications

•               Reputation management

•               Communications strategy and development.

 

Two other little interesting facts 40,000 of the 61,000 people who work in PR work in-house.  The Midlands is the largest community outside the South-East with 12%.  The NW and NE and SW each has 6% of the PR population.  PR’s also lost its petticoat profession in that 36% of the profession are now male.