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

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The Kinetic Experience

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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.

There’s no I in team by Jade Mansell

Jade Mansell

One of the most overused clichés in history? Possibly. One of the most pertinent and underestimated values in business? Almost definitely. Teamwork is just one value which should help to make up a code of conduct in the workplace, and this is the key ingredient for the maintenance of reputation: a clear, enforced, and well-thought out ethos.

Shakespeare’s Cassio illustrates to us the importance of reputation: “”Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial!” Well perhaps that’s a bit much…But it does serve the purpose of highlighting that reputation is key, and should remain at the heart of any business.

The British Army purports to follow a code of conduct encompassing six core values: courage, discipline, respect, integrity, loyalty and selfless commitment, and this helps them to maintain their excellent reputation. A solider must exhibit and embrace the most extreme forms of trust, placing their lives in the hands of a co-worker who will cover their backs, in what is quite literally a life or death situation. It is only this trust which allows the team to co-operate and work as a unit, and to safeguard their reputation of professionalism and self-discipline. This reputation derives from, and depends upon, unequivocal commitment, self-sacrifice and mutual trust, and, like rowers on a boat, if any one member diverges from the code of conduct, the reputation is sunk.

Take for instance the recent controversy surrounding claims that British soldiers operated a regime of systematic torture, leading to the death of an Iraqi prisoner, Baha Mousa. This incident has provoked horror from the British public, and as well as offending human conscience, violates each axiom of the army’s code of conduct. Thus the validity of the shining reputation that the army attempts to promulgate is called into question.

This example can be seen as a microcosm for businesses to observe and learn from: a lack of uniformity in adhering to the rules means that the team does not face in the same direction, and does not pull together to achieve. Even in the couple of days of my work experience here at Kinetic, I’ve seen first-hand how a carefully planned message to the employees can make a huge difference to mindset. Here the mantra is based around being challenging, rigorous, moral, pioneering, and fun, and this simple code of conduct provides a focus and an understanding of the business, as well as the expectations, in a simple, memorable way. Businesses then, would do well to learn not to neglect the importance of the code of conduct in the workplace, and within that, the central tenet of the concept of teamwork.

These values come into play at every level of work: just yesterday over lunch we were discussing a situation in which the Kinetic team found themselves, which was effectively akin to the stress of a PR court martial. I commented that under such pressure I would’ve lost my head, especially since I hate conflict. Yet to know that were I to face such a situation, I’d be standing side by side with a colleague who shares and acts on the Kinetic values, would make me feel that much more confident and able to withstand the heat: here at Kinetic we are not just in it for the money. Apply the same situation to the solider who knows his colleague is only in it for the pension, and you get a sense of the kind of insecurity one might feel – it is the same in business: there’s no I in team.

Reflecting on almost four years of Kinetic balls – by Aimee Postle

Aimee Postle

Aimee Postle

We spend our lives in PR drilling home the importance of values-based messaging and having the culture and substance to back up your promises. A good thing then that Kinetic has spent the last four years exceeding the promises it made to me!

Back in 2007, as a nervous final year student, I embarked upon my career in PR with a placement at Kinetic. Not only had I never ventured out to the Jewellery Quarter before, I also had very little idea of what PR actually was. Six weeks later and I was hooked – in no small part as a result of Angela and Claire’s passion for delivering results for clients.

Four years on and the journey has been fantastic. A whistlestop tour taking in media relations, culture change projects, online strategies and much more. I’ve been involved in award-winning campaigns for regeneration projects and watched with pride as the team took home the prize for an internal communications campaign which really delivered business results.

After investing in a sat-nav, I’ve been privileged enough to travel all over Warwickshire, Staffordshire, East Anglia and Cornwall as well as getting heavily involved in the Birmingham professional services community.

Even though I gave up maths and science after GCSE, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to grips with reed bed technology and parliamentary announcements. Equally exciting have been campaigns with organic skincare and fashion retailers.

Substance and culture – the two key ingredients for delivering on your promises. With strong values and a team committed to guaranteeing results, Kinetic certainly has those in abundance.

As I wave farewell to the Kinetic team, I wish them all the best of luck in taking that substance and culture forward.

Q: What do Sir Ranulph Fiennes and a bucket of Flash™ have in common? – by Angela Podmore

A:  They’re both compelling and authentic brands.

Angela Podmore, Kinetic Communications

Angela Podmore, Kinetic Communications

Nothing is more uplifting than spending an hour in the company of a person who’s living with all their mind, body, heart and soul all beautifully aligned in courageous pursuit.

Speaking on leadership, challenge and perseverance in the face of adversity, explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes captivated a packed hall 5 (28 October 2010) at Birmingham’s ICC.

Truly the man of our time, he spoke – in a curiously laconic yet bullet-hitting and modest fashion – of his various feats of derring-do:  his package holidays with a 52-strong team from 9 different countries.  His training ground and recruitment consultant of choice – the SAS (where they called him a donkey walloper harking back to his cavalry past).

He’s circumnavigated the globe through the poles without outside support.  He offered us all a simulated arctic experience – put three of your 6ft friends in a bath tub and drag them over dunes for 2,000 miles!

He feels the same fears we’d all feel before setting off on such a feat.  Difference is, he feels the fear and does it anyway (great book by Susan Jeffers).  The author of 18 books, he was signed Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know (what his father-in-law said to ward his daughter from marrying him!).

Compelling leadership

There’s no payroll for the Ranulph’s express.  So his team selection process focuses on motivation.  Motivation is his answer to everything – if it’s ever so slightly dodgy, you’re out.  “You can sack someone  in Antarctica but you can’t get rid of them.  So selection is key.”

I asked him to what he attributes his self-belief.

His answer was surprising, “when I’m near giving up, I hope and pray one of the team will give up first but they never do.  I live in the now and you have to know your own resources.  But I’d say my self-belief stems from what my father and grandfather did.  I think of them watching me and I don’t want to let them down.”

And that links nicely to how another compelling brand – my bucket of flash which also didn’t let me down while scrubbing our 10 year old kitchen floor.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s been mopped every week but we’re talking deep clean here.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes impresses because he’s the real deal in stratospheric motivation, ambition and attainment.  But great brands share that so take heart with Flash.  Used  neat, Flash has made our ceramic tiled floor, shine like a new pin.  A compelling performance from another great brand you can trust to do the job.

Note of thanks to all the organisations who made this inspiring Sir Ranulph Fiennes lecture happen:  Birmingham City Business School in partnership with Institute of Business Consulting and Chartered Management Institute and CiPD.

The Martini Era – by Angela Podmore

Angela Podmore, MD, Kinetic Communications - Birmingham PR Consultancy

Angela Podmore

THE MARTINI ERA

Anyone remember the Martini ads?  At their zenith in the 1970s but repeated in the 1990s (I think), they featured the beautiful people having wonderful times in the world’s most glamorous places and promised pleasure anytime, anyplace, anywhere.

What’s it got to do with today?

Whatever brand you need people to believe in – personal or corporate – it’s open to attack anytime, anyplace, anywhere.  I’ve coined it the ‘Martini era’.  Let’s hope they won’t chase me for copyright infringement – they should consider it a favour.

So how do you control brand reputation in these times?

FOCUS

The answer?  Make sure everyone knows what you stand for.  What’s your common purpose as an organisation?  What makes you stand out?  How do you define ‘your way’ of doing things?  Your culture?

The answers to these questions are the essential essence.  They’re what makes your brand tick.  Bottle that essence and it pulls everything into sharp focus.  We all know how powerful that is.  Ever started a fire with the sun’s rays and a simple magnifying glass?

WHO GETS IT

Size doesn’t matter.  Business start-up and multinational alike understand the need for focus.  But it’s equally interesting who doesn’t get it.

ENTREPRENEURS

Positive Pressure gets it.  They’ve been in business for a few years but knew they didn’t have their ‘elevator sell’ sorted – ie that ten second sell that would make them stand out if they were sharing a lift with a stranger.

They knew what they did – they can measure the difference they make in team performance by building individual wellbeing ( massage, reflexology etc).

Our two hour session energised them because “the vision is so exciting and it’s great to have something that feels so right”.  Hopefully, that clarity will help them with every business decision from now on.

GLOBAL LEADERS

For big business, let’s look at Goodrich:  Fortune 500, global aerospace and defence company.  ‘If there’s an aircraft in the sky, we’re on it’.  They know their essence.  They also know the key is to integrate internal and external communications.

Goodrich ECEPS division – 1,000 people spread over five continents – understands how internal communications is key to keep the essence alive.

For all its investment in a successful Farnborough Show, trade advertising and sponsorships, a disgruntled employee could shake the faith in its reputation with what would appear to them an anodyne, online comment.

So when Niki Court, ECEPS marketing co-ordinator, asked us to come into an internal communications session and challenge them, I knew exactly where she was coming from.  She wanted an ‘agent provocateur’.

(I had the good fortune to work at Saatchis in the 1980s where we were taught to seek opposite opinion.  Criticism is more powerful than harmony in testing creative ideas.)

Niki was leading a continuous improvement workshop and wanted an outsider’s perspective.  We served up an A0 sheet filled with pictures of exemplars to inspire the team to raise their game when communicating internally.

All were highly skilled and experienced communicators around the table.

“Kinetic helped spark interesting conversations,” said Niki.  “The session was very interactive from the start and the conversations carried on long after they’d left.  They inspired us in quite a few ways by using new/different methods of communication.

“Their thoughts on exemplars – what others companies are doing – were also reassuring because they told us that we’re doing a lot right already in terms of internal communications and promoting a values-driven culture.  They helped us put all of what we’re already doing in a clearer context and really raised the energy of the group.”

Organisations like Goodrich have all the channels ‘plumbed in’ – website, intranet, media relations, newsletters etc.  It’s the consistency of their messages that glues them all together.

Today’s top brands are congruent.  That means they look, sound and feel the same anytime, anyplace and anywhere you interact with them.

We are a world away from ‘give me six press cuttings in the local papers.’

We left the era of fluff over substance some time ago.  The Martini era is about transparency, trust and integrity.  Now content is king and conversation is the kingdom.

Marketing tips from technology business start-ups by Rebecca Sloan

I recently went to an interesting event hosted by the Chartered Institute of Marketing entitled “from concept, to innovation, to a $multi-million exit in a few years”.  The event offered some great advice on how to ensure your product/service is profitable.  Here are their top tips:

Three crucial tips to successful marketing

1)      Know your product/service – make sure you’re able to articulate what you’re selling and why it matters. You’ll know you’ve got it, once you’ve perfected your 10-second elevator sell.

2)      Know your market – the reason for developing your product or service may not be the reason why your customers will want to use it.  Check the buying and usage patterns of your clients and customers as they can provide insight into where the real value lies.

3)      Innovate and renovate, don’t hibernate! – make sure you respond to customer requests – especially in the early stages. Going the extra mile to make your customers happy will pay dividends as you will turn early-users into brand-ambassadors.  Giving them a feeling of input in the project will pay dividends as many will feel a sense of ownership and become your leading advocates.

They’re simple messages based in common sense, but it’s surprising how many companies rush into things without first fully understanding their customer-base or product/service benefits.

Taking the time to understand what you’re in business to achieve, what your unique selling point is and the ways in which you’re going to meet your objectives, makes a significant difference to the effectiveness of a brand’s communication. That’s why, when working with a PR agency (or any other contractor), it’s important that they take the time to understand these core principles.  It’s also why, at Kinetic Communications, we work with you to make sure your messages are clearly defined before we start your campaign.