‘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

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.

Lights, Camera, Action – PR and the moving image

video compressed

Today, we consume information in many different ways. Technology has thrown out a multitude of digital, social and interactive platforms that help open up a world of content to engage, excite and connect audiences in ways that they have never done before.

Moving image is one of the most rapidly-growing sectors in communications with innovative new content sharing platforms being developed every day.

But helping to bring video skills into the creative domain isn’t just about knowing your Vimeo from your Vine and your YouTube from your Yahoo. It’s about having the ability to produce and share compelling content effectively, giving PR and marketing agencies fresh new ways of breathing life into their messages.

Coming from a film production background, I was a little bit apprehensive about making the transition into PR and communications. Would I be able to step up to the plate when it came to delivering world class video material for Kinetic and our portfolio of clients?

My first task was to produce a new video for the Kinetic website, providing the audience with an insight on how to build reputations you can trust. My mission; to produce a piece of content that is compelling, inspiring and intelligent – to make the website useful for anyone looking to build trust in their reputation and take Kinetic’s video offering up to the next level.

It was a big challenge but, as soon as I got my hands on the camera kit and into the studio, my anxieties melted away and I felt like I was back in my element. Fortunately for me, Angela was a true natural in front of the camera and excelled in delivering her message in an inspiring and engaging way.

So why is it so important to use video to help illustrate your message in PR?

Did you know?

–          Only 20% of web visitors will read the majority of text but 80% will stop to watch a video

–          Videos are 53 times more likely to appear on Google’s first page

–          Cognitive psychology shows that stimulating both auditory and visual senses increases retention by around 58%

–          YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine after Google

–          Adding a video to your website makes it 6 times more likely to convert a browser to a paying customer.

There is no doubt that video is an extremely powerful tool for businesses. Whether you want to say something about your company, promote a new product or service or just make your web presence or YouTube channel more interesting and engaging for your audience – moving image can provide the perfect solution.

Public relations isn’t just about getting column inches and writing media releases. It is about fully integrating communications solutions across traditional and digital new and rich media platforms.

I enjoyed my time working in film because it allowed me to develop a broad range of technical skills across a number of key areas. It was fast-paced, diverse and often unpredictable but the transition into PR has given me that and so much more.

It has allowed me to adapt those skills and apply them into diverse communications plans, helping to bring a fresh new take on each individual client’s message. It’s not just fun, it’s fast, exciting and above all, it’s now.

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.

Journalism undergraduate gets first taste of PR

New Picture

As cliché as it may sound – my two week placement at Kinetic genuinely has flown by! It feels like only yesterday I was walking around the Jewellery Quarter with Google Maps out on my phone trying to navigate my way to the office, meanwhile my stomach doing somersaults due to a combination of nerves and excitement.

Firstly – it has been an amazingly brilliant two weeks, and for every reason you can think of. Above everything else, you want to be able to feel comfortable and welcomed, and Kinetic staff made me feel part of the team within the first couple of hours. They also know how to make a good cuppa, so that was an added bonus!

Joking aside, it was a brilliant experience and I learnt much more than I expected to in such a short space of time. I had a taste of all different aspects of PR, from writing press releases and drawing up social media calendars all the way down to ringing up local and national newspapers and posting leaflets! There was always work to be done, and constantly have bits and pieces to be getting on with is exactly what you want when you go on placement.

I learnt a lot not only about PR, but as a writer as well. Constant advice and feedback was given to me during my time at Kinetic – something I definitely couldn’t have expected beforehand. Going into my third and final year of studying Print Journalism at Nottingham Trent University, it was extremely helpful to have the opportunity to sit down one-to-one with a member of the team, in my case Lina, and discuss the work I had been doing. It gave me the chance to see what was good and where I could improve, as well as gain stylistic advice from a fellow journalism graduate.

For me there were two main things that made the placement what it was. First of all was the challenge of the work. “Once the mind has been stretched, it rarely returns to its original state.” I might be paraphrasing a little, but I heard these wise words from Angela on a few occasions during my time spent there.

Kinetic has a diverse range of clients that specialise in everything, from modular buildings to garden and horticulture products. Getting your head around the different businesses at first can be a bit tricky, but I actually found it an enjoyable challenge and a good test for me to be writing about something I previously did not know much about.

The second was the chemistry of the Kinetic team. The office always had a friendly and positive vibe to it, even when deadlines were looming. Everyone was approachable throughout the two weeks and a pleasure to be around.

My advice for undergraduates who are also considering working towards a career in PR is to go into your placement with an enthusiastic attitude and a willingness to do whatever work you are set. Some parts may not be the most exciting thing you’ve ever done, but by persevering you will demonstrate the important qualities that employers are looking for. By embracing your placement and being positive you will get the most out of your experience, wherever you choose to go!