Posts Tagged ‘manchester’

The Prince of social media

Thursday, March 6th, 2014 by Tim Hudson

Prince and 3rdEyeGirl - Manchester 21st Feb (2)

Prince and Social Media are two things which have been hard not to notice and have caused quite a stir in the UK recently.

Prince has been in the country performing a series of ‘pop-up’ concerts, promoting a forthcoming album and, if speculation is to be believed, working on some summer festival deals.

It’s not just the concerts themselves, taking place in small venues in London and Manchester, that have reasserted Prince as a man who stands out from the crowd in both talent and approach, but the way those concerts have been promoted.

As Econsultancy’s David Moth points out, “the ‘guerilla’ shows are part of Prince’s policy of avoiding middlemen and traditional marketing.”  Famously (infamously, perhaps), Prince has given away new albums with UK newspapers and was part of a long and well-documented dispute with his former record label, Warner Bros. over creative ownership and control.

And so, no one was really surprised that the man who once said “the internet is dead” promoted the recent spate of gigs almost entirely through Social Media, not only prompting queues thousands-long outside the venues but also gaining print and broadcast media coverage, most notably through Woman’s Hour and Newsnight.  As noted in The Sunday Times’s profile, “when a current affairs news show takes notice, you have got an event.”

Prince’s management and PR duties fall to CEO of Kikit Ltd. and Entrepreneur of the Year Nominee, Kiran Sharma, and the aptly named Purple PR.  Ms Sharma was very visible throughout the campaign, using her personal Twitter account to make announcements and share comments from fans and Prince’s current band, 3rdEyeGirl.  The PR company, however, seemed almost invisible.  And that’s where the success of the last few weeks lies.

The perception was that Prince and his troupe had arrived in the UK and were looking for some small venues to play, with no real planning.  On the red carpet of The Brit Awards, a member of 3rdEyeGirl said, “we don’t know until the morning where we’ll be playing that night.”  This sent fans into a frenzy, connecting via Social Media from across the UK to try and dig out and share any vital information on the gigs.  The hashtags #princewatch and #princearmy appeared, seemingly from the fans, and a fan-run account @PrinceWatchUK was set-up specifically for this purpose.

Kevin Costner was once told “if you build it, they will come” and here was an excellent example of this at work.  The hashtags trended, there was 24 hour engagement and this all seemed to be coming just from the fans, with a few pieces of input from Ms Sharma and 3rdEyeGirl (for example with official YouTube clips from the gigs).

Clearly there was more going on behind the scenes than was presented.  In order to move that many people around London, let alone the UK, this had to be well-planned.  There’s even been suggestion that, on the night that tickets rose from being £10 to £70 and fans created the #10poundprince hashtag as a backlash, prompting tickets to be reduced again, it was actually Purple PR hard at work creating some trickery to gain yet more attention.

Whatever mastery was at work, this was a unique event, promoted in a unique way.  This was a utilisation of modern media, the like of which has not been seen before, purely relying on the word-of-mouth generated by Social Media output to sell-out each show played and generate a huge amount of valuable mainstream exposure. (They even turned Manchester Town Hall purple for the occasion!)

What has all this done for Prince’s reputation?  Certainly there has been upset from those who don’t regularly use Social Media; has he alienated a large amount of people?  Those who are disabled and unable to queue all day outside gigs have also been challenged by his tactics.

I would suggest that Prince’s team will be more likely asking the question, “Has all this helped us achieve our goals?”  If those goals were indeed to pre-promote the new album and secure that lucrative summer deal then only time and album sales will tell.  For a few days near the end of February, though, one didn’t have to look far (be it online on the radio or on the newspaper rack) to read word of Prince, hear his new music and see fans going crazy!

About Tim Hudson

Tim Hudson is an Accredited PR Practitioner, a member of the CIPR North West Committee and is currently based in-house at Cheadle Hulme School. Tim has seven years’ experience in the education sector and specialises in copywriting and social media.

North West has good neighbours in the BBC

Friday, June 1st, 2012 by Gemma Ellis

In 2011 the BBC relocated all of its staff from Oxford Road in Manchester and a significant chunk of its workforce at White City in London to Media City, Salford Quays.

One year on, Staniforth was invited to see how its neighbours were settling in.

The fanfare of publicity surrounding the move – both good and bad – could not be easily ignored, so we were keen to see if the scaremongers had any ground in their criticisms. We’re pleased to report that the corporation is functioning very well at its new location in the North West, thank you.

News editor, Fiona Steggles led Staniforth on a tour of the BBC’s impressive premises and was able to shed light into how the set-up at Media City better suits the news process. Being a public service broadcaster, the BBC continually looks to provide the best possible programmes to consumers and this is evident at Media City.

The purpose-built studios mean that newsrooms, production suites and recording studios sit neatly together, making for a more efficient operation, while cross skills training and easy availability of state-of-the-art equipment means many reporters can and do self-shoot, present and edit their own bulletins.

The newsroom itself is designed to be a hub of creativity. An expansive floor plan allows easy integration between flagship programmes BBC Breakfast, North West Tonight and The Politics Show, as well as sports and Radio 5 Live. News sharing is fluid and this ensures that a story is placed where it fits best.

BBC Breakfast has really made itself at home since its first broadcast from Salford Quays in April and has not, as detractors cried, suffered from a dearth of high calibre guests in relocating, having played host to Young Musician of 2012 Laura van der Heijden, actor Will Smith and gold medallists Darren Campbell and Ellie Simmonds in recent weeks.

For PROs, opportunities for spokespeople who are locally based, flexible and able to provide relevant and impartial commentary do exist and this can be a good platform to help with interview guests. In the past the BBC has drawn on the expertise of academics from Manchester University and some of the country’s leading law firms, doctors and politicians who have their base in the North West.

As a national broadcaster, it’s important that the BBC represents the whole of the UK, its regions and diverse communities and the move northwards is certainly allowing them to do this.

Manchester App School opens doors

Thursday, February 25th, 2010 by Jon Clements

As a recent convert to the iPhone and the wonderful world of the “app” (Planet Rock, anyone?), it’s good to know that the future of app development is being bolstered by a Manchester-based course for young people known as The App School.

Creative consultants, The White Room, are running the free course – backed by the city council, Cornerhouse (Manchester’s centre for visual arts and cinema) and Manchester Metropolitan University – for 18-24 year olds interested in designing new iPhone applications.

And with the mobile app market forecast to reach $6.8bn this year, there’s a potential money making machine for the creative person with the right ideas.

But techno-phobes need not be discouraged. This is about people with potentially commercial ideas and not necessarily those who dismantle computer hard drives for fun.

According to Phil Birchenall, project director at the White Room: “What we need is plenty of enthusiasm and ideas, that’s all.”

I eagerly await the “help your kid with his maths homework app”, and soon.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

Freedoma gives customers the hippy shake

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009 by Jon Clements


Today sees the official launch of , a Manchester-based customer review site which seems to take its ethics from another era.

Promising to “spread the love”, Freedoma can’t help but make you want to reach for a kaftan and head for San Francisco with flowers in your hair. Well, you might want to ask your parents first if there was anything wrong with free love.

PR Media Blog agreed to share the love with Freedoma’s brain (love) child and MD, Caleb Storkey, and blow away the joss stick smoke to reveal all about this latest social media business: 

PRMB: Why is Freedoma needed in Manchester at this point? 

Freedoma: Freedoma promotes and supports local businesses, helping customers share their thoughts on the organisations they love and those to steer clear of. For Manchester, it’s all about getting alongside the local, independent stores. For businesses, it’s all about them being given the opportunity to grow and develop their reputation online, so that customers choose them not based on how big their marketing wallet is, but on how good they are.
PRMB: How does it differ in what it does?

F: Unlike which only offers an address listing and very little additional information, Freedoma collects and collates feedback from customers of each business to get the lowdown on what a business is really like. It also make it possible for local businesses to offer special offers directly to customers. There is the ability for users to see which businesses their friends use and rate. There is a whole bunch of stuff in development, that is already knocking our socks off, and will be unveiled in the forthcoming weeks and months.  

PRMB: How will people find you online?

F: We’ve a lot of quirky activity going on offline that will bolster up the finding online. Shortly people will find us when searching for special offers, plumbers in Manchester, cafes in Leeds, etc, through our SEO and SMO campaigns. But, the power and incentive of word of mouth will be a key to our success. 

PRMB: How will the site make money?

F: The simple way that the site will initially make money is through businesses taking out enhanced listing, which entitles them to a bunch of additional features. We’re rollling out intially with special offers during the launching season. There are a number of additional monetisation routes, but these are currently under wraps until these features are launched. 

PRMB: Will you be aligning it with other social media, e.g., Twitter feed?

F: Yes- integration with other social media is an important part of phase 2.

PRMB: How will you police potentially libellous material?

F: People will have the capacity to flag reviews that are libellous, which will then be assessed. 

PRMB: Freedoma has a very different feel about it. Has it been inspired by another company with similar values or from your own personal outlook on life?

F:  I’ll take that as a compliment (I think ;). It’s come from my personal outlook on life. I really believe in desiring the best for people, and that if businesses adopted more of a position of serving society, society would be all the better for it. The financial bottom line is one motivator for people, but appreciation, spreading the love and the recognition that their hard work can positively impact people’s life, is a far greater motivator. I guess we’re all learning how this can outplay itself. Little bit hippy and change the world (ish), but I’m convinced somehow life and business can work like that. I think if done well, that’s one of the major potentials of social media. 

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

David Cameron Maxes Out On Social Media In Manchester

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009 by Mark Hanson


Credit where its due. David Cameron was on a tour of Manchester yesterday to feel people’s pain in this economic whirlwind.

As well as the usual interview with local paper and TV news, Cameron maxed out on multi-media, including an attempt to connect to Manchester’s social media glitterati via a live blog with queen bee, Sarah Hartley aka @Foodie Sarah, aka Manchester Evening News journalist, and a debate on the economy with a live audience and Tweeted/texted/emailed questions through Channel M, Manchester’s cable news channel.

To be fair this wasn’t Cameron’s idea. The Channel M format was the MEN’s idea (owners of Channel M) and the live blogging was Sarah’s own initiative, but it’s telling that Cameron’s team were happy to play ball. Eighteen months ago the minders would have felt it was too risky for not enough reward. Don’t forget the Tories also ‘reached out’ to Birmingham bloggers around their conference in October, although I’m not sure to what extent the Tory big-hitters really got behind it.

It’s cold out…then I won’t get mine out.

Friday, December 5th, 2008 by Jon Clements


WARNING: Frivolous Friday post coming up… 

Groucho Marx once said that he didn’t care to belong to any club that would have him as a member.

Well, the same goes for Facebook Groups, such as Manclopedia, which send you pictures of city centre Manchester – in December – with naked people.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for artistic expression and the pure, unblemished beauty of the human form. But, I mean, the concepts “Manchester”, “December” and “Nude” do not sit well together.

If it were May or June, now that would be a different story.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

The social media pool – just dive in?

Friday, November 14th, 2008 by Jon Clements


“Hungrier, less complacent and more willing to embrace new media” for business.

That’s just one view why the US’s fastest-growing private companies – The Inc.500 – are giving the Fortune 500 a beating in terms of social media uptake, including use of blogs, online video and podcasting.

The findings come from what The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth claims to be the first statistically significant reseach into the use of social media in companies.

Comparing last year with this, 11.6% of the Fortune 500 have a public blog against 39% of the Inc.500.  Only 3.6% more of the largest US corporations joined the blogosphere in the period, while 20% of private firms signed up. Now, nearly half (44%) of the Inc.500 companies reckon social media is “very important” to their marketing/business strategy – up nearly 20% on last year.

So, what’s bugging the bigger beasts in the forest about social media? And if this is the case in the States, where does that leave the biggest UK companies? The topic surfaced at this week’s Social Media Cafe launch (#smc_mcr) in Manchester, where it was agreed that large businesses tend to baulk at what they see as the uncontrollable world of social media.

Craig McGinty, with typical candour, told the assembled bloggers and social media-ites at the #smc_mcr: “It needs someone with the cahunas to get things going. But that means taking small steps, dipping their toe in and using a small team which can begin to feel comfortable with it.”

This suggests that despite the fears among gatekeepers, lawyers, compliance departments and whatnot within the larger organisations, the communications world is moving that way and companies run the risk of being left behind. 

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

Wyth a little bit of luck, and PR

Friday, November 7th, 2008 by Jon Clements

For anyone growing up in south Manchester who wasn’t a resident of the Garden City of Wythenshawe, the place has always come with some considerable baggage.

The local website for Wythenshawe – a place once dubbed the biggest housing estate in Europe – even devotes a special section to its colourful past. This includes tales of “wanton damage by vandals and hooligans” dating back to the 1930s, a demand from neighbouring residents of “posh” suburb Gatley for a Cold War style “barrier” to keep the hordes out, along with endless reports of arson, vandalism and deprivation; leading a local churchman in the late 80s to call the place “the opposite of a community”.

If there was ever a challenge on this planet, redrawing the image of Wythenshawe is it.

And so a modestly-(by marketing standards) budgeted project called “Real Lives Wythenshawe” has begun to do just that. But, as noted by the typically wry north west media news site, How-Do, you can’t call the initiative a “re-brand”; it’s an image campaign.

What comes across from the campaign so far is the great pride the area’s people have for the place and the long overdue need for it to be released from its positioning as neighbourhood pariah. For many people who’ve moved to Wythenshawe from elsewhere – without the pre-conceptions shared by nearby communities – the question seems to be “what’s the big deal?”

But not everyone is impressed with “outsiders” getting involved in Wythenshawe’s business. Forum comments on the local Wythit website suggest “shooting all the fancy consultants”, which doesn’t do much for the stereotype the suburb is trying to shift.

Other local commentators seem to welcome the revamp of Wythenshawe’s image as a good thing, though one adds, ironically, “a few extra police might help!”

As a 10-year-old playing on a park near to Wythenshawe, I got duffed up and had my new leather gloves nicked by some local hardnuts. Maybe, as part of the image refresh, I’ll get my gloves back.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''