Just another Manic Monday…

30 11 2009

So, how have you spent today? Been Internet shopping by any chance? Well, if not you’ll be in the minority as today is supposedly one of the biggest days for e-commerce, with virtual tills ringing to the tune of over 700 sales per minute. ‘Manic Monday’ (or Cyber Monday in some circles) is set to see the busiest day for online Christmas shopping, but how realistic is it to assume that everyone has deserted the high street and opted for online browsing?

Well, a poll by Zavvi (comments about their high street closure can be inserted here) showed that more than 81% of Brits are planning to do their Christmas shopping online, and this has already started with last week’s sales figures showing a surge in online gift purchases.

There has undoubtedly been a rise in popular high street stores developing e-commerce sites; from Topshop and Harvey Nichols to Currys and Argos, you no longer need to leave the house. Apparently. There has also been a trend in online shopping ‘malls’, as I like to describe them, with Net-A-Porter and ASOS leading the way.

But what I have always remained adamant about it is that the ease and convenience of the online world can never be a substitute for a girly shopping trip or the way a gorgeous Marc Jacobs bag feels in the flesh. And whilst I still remain a fan of the ‘tangible’, online retailers are making moves to change my mind.

This kind of shopping is no longer just about the convenience or finding the best price – although that is particularly important in the current climate – but instead it has become a reason for using and developing social media.

There are several sites that are helping shoppers create an exciting online experience; like ASOS Life, an online community that share fashion advice and shop virtual stores; Style Hive, a place for likeminded fashionistas to share style tips; and My It Things, where users create their own online magazine. There are also true virtual stores (touching on the Second Life ideals), like I Like Totally Love It and Gemsta.

One site that I really like is OSOYOU, where you can shop a range of popular stores but more importantly, compare prices and make shopping lists to help drive you around the real high street. This is where I think the opportunity is; rather than retailers hanging up their till receipts and giving in to online shopping, I think they should be using the internet as an opportunity to drive more people into their stores.

No doubt retailers are starting to fight back, with discount vouchers landing in my Twitter stream and inbox on an hourly basis from various friends passing them around, but I think there’s still more they can do. An example (an easy one for me to quote because I’m working on it) is Style Birmingham’s latest campaign, which aims to do just this. This Christmas is all about ‘One Mile of Style’, which revolves around an interactive map that shoppers can use to explore the city’s retail offering on their computer. They can find out more about the festive activities taking place at key retailers, print the map off and use it to deviate from their usual shops and get to know the city’s hidden gems. The new iPhone app – the first of its kind – also aims to bridge these two worlds and ensure the longevity of the high street.

So, basically I don’t have a massive, life-changing point, I just wanted to stick up for the high street and say that there’s still life in the old boy yet!


Measuring newspaper audiences – online count too!

27 11 2009

Image credit

I meant to blog about this yesterday but it was a bit of a mad day!

I saw a story that seven regional newspaper publishers have signed up to a new initiative to show their combined print and online audience. Launched this week, Locally Connected has been set up by the Newspaper Society with the aim to measure audiences in a way that will give advertisers and PR’s a better picture of the readership.

The groups that have already signed up are: Trinity Mirror, Northcliffe Media, Johnston Press, Newsquest, Guardian Media Group, Midland News Association and Iliffe News & Media.

I saw the article quoted the Newspaper Society of saying the initiative, “showed that local media websites increase the reach of regional and local newspapers within their circulation areas by 14pc, particularly among upmarket and core middle age groups.”

It went on to quote NS president David Fordham: “The development of a robust and reliable system of multimedia audience measurement has been one of the biggest challenges facing all media today… Locally Connected now gives advertisers a unique cross-media planning system, allowing them to effectively target local communities across the UK in print as well as online.”

I think this is a step in the right direction for an industry that has, and still is facing, major changes. A prime example for the need for Locally Connected is the Birmingham Post, which became a Weekly Publication this month. The new-look paper is very popular but the website is even moreso, with people able to get the latest news direct to their screen. I don’t know the stats but I’d imagine the Post has a huge readership online and these people should not be discounted.

Speaking of the which, I saw an article in Media Week earlier today that praised the new-look Post. It’s great to see them supporting the paper, as I think it’s an important resource in the city.

A year in the life of Rewired

27 11 2009

The Rewired team with Rob Markwell (Pitch Consultants) and Michael Collie (BBC)

I can’t believe it has already been a week since we were getting dolled up in the office ready for the CIPR PRide Midlands Awards. Held at the ICC, the awards celebrate PR professionals and agencies across the Midlands region. Rewired was up for Outstanding Small Consultancy and I’d tried not to think about it too much for fear of being disappointed, but as soon as we sat at the table, my heart starting going. Luckily, my first trip on the stage was to collect a bottle of Veuve (I was one of the raffle winners!) so we popped the cork to settle the nerves.

The night was amazing and 21 awards into the show, Rewired was announced as the CIPR PRide Midlands ‘Oustanding Small Consultancy’. I won’t go into details but let’s just say the night didn’t end when the awards did and my bottle of Veuve was one of many.

It was such an amazing achievement for us as a company and a team, especially seeing as though Rewired was only been born 18 months ago.

Winning got me thinking about what an amazing year and a half it has been at Rewired. Everyone knows how much I love my job and the people I work with, but more than that I was proud of Rewired for having such a fantastic year in such a difficult economic climate.

This time last year, we had already begun working on some amazing clients; Taste of Birmingham, Hello Digital, Wolverhampton Art Gallery and The Big Picture, but since then the client list has gone from strength to strength. We’re working with some amazing organisations on some really exciting projects and clients.

We’ve maintained our niche of creative, digital and leisure companies but developed each of these client bases to include some amazing companies. As well as regional organisations like Screen West Midlands, Audiences Central and Ormiston Trust, we’re also working with innovative companies and projects like Mudlark.We’re still heavily involved in the region’s arts scene and continue working with Wolverhampton Art Gallery; currently on the amazing ‘Pop: Jann Haworth’ exhibition, which you MUST go and see.  We are also working with Punch Records on some amazing music and arts projects, and so far have brought some brilliant music to the city!

We also have also strengthened our events arm; both PR and event management. We’ve done PR for BASS Festival, Style in the City and Birmingham Book Festival. As well as the event management of Producers’ Forum ‘Celebrate the Future of Film’, Royal Television Society Awards and a number of high profile film premieres and industry events for Screen WM.

As well as Style in the City, we have also moved in to the fashion world (much to my delight), working with Retail Birmingham. Style Birmingham, the consumer brand for Retail Birmingham, had a fantastic rebrand earlier in the year (courtesy of 383 Project, who I love working with). Since then, Style Birmingham has gone from strength to strength and is fast-becoming the city’s voice for style and shopping. This project is a major part of our leisure/consumer work, which also includes work with Lasan, Birmingham’s premier Indian Restaurant, who have recently won Best Indian Restaurant on The F Word.

There are so many other clients to mention but you’ll get bored if I keep going, but it’s just amazing for me to see how much we’ve grown since last year. We’ve just been taken on by a couple of new clients, which I’m sure I will be blogging and twittering about very soon.

2010 looks to be a very exciting year so hopefully, this time next year, I’ll be writing a post about event more exciting times at Rewired HQ!

We Love Shopping

25 11 2009

Well all knew it was true, but now it’s official. A study by Clothes Show Live (which is back in Birmingham 4-9 December) has revealed that women love shopping more than they love men.

Not surprisingly, results of the survey showed that we are more disappointed when the latest ‘must-have’ is out of stock than being stood up for a date. Apparently, the same study showed that a girly shopping trip is a monthly occurrence but we only invite the other half along twice a year… Christmas and Valentine’s Day, I’m guessing!

Brilliant stat too, but we’ll happily spend £137 per shopping trip but are only willing to spend £68 on a partner’s birthday present.

The survey has already been picked up by OK! Magazine, who also said:

“Women get the same rush of irrational happiness that’s usually associated with new love when they get their hands on a buy.”

So, basically… for all those people on match.com; you’re at the wrong website, it’s asos.com that you need!

Life’s mystery solved! Bye!

Any excuse for shopping – discounts ahoy!

23 11 2009

Brilliant picture by Tim Ellis – on Flickr

Not that I need an excuse to go shopping but Selfridges is making sure that Christmas comes early with a fantastic 20% off. From 26-29 November (yes, this week people!) you can get 20% off your Christmas shopping and 10% off beauty and fragrance brands by printing this voucher.

There’s even better news for anyone in Birmingham, the city’s most stylish independent (as crowned at last month’s Style Awards), Disorder, also has 15% off until New Year’s Eve.

I do believe this weekend will be spent shopping… woo hoo!

Oh, and for those of you who love a good discount, keep an eye on Style Birmingham’s Offers page!

Stepping into the world of Dub

23 11 2009

Coming from a musical background – Google Barry Tomes and Norma Lewis (Momma and Poppa Bear) and you’ll see what I mean – I’ve always been pretty open minded in the music department. My iPod has the most random mix of music on it.

I’m quite in to drum ‘n’ bass and recently this has developed into a love of dubstep. It seems to be pretty popular at the moment, with Skream and Rusko making it on to Radio 1 playlist thanks to remixes of La Roux and Mr Hudson.

As part of Rewired’s work with Punch Records, I’m really excited about working on their latest tour, Dub to Dubstep, which kicks off later this week.

Mikey Dread

The six-date maverick tour is an exploration of the connection between dub, reggae and dubstep. Such a massive genre across the world, people don’t often understand the difference between these three types of music so Punch is working with Channel One Sound System and Vagabondz to bring this tour to life.

Who’s involved?
Celebrating their 30th Anniversary, Channel One will bring their custom-built soundsystem to each venue, with Mikey Dread as Selector and Ras Kayleb as MC. The tour will also feature four leading dub artists; The Uplifter, JazZstepPa, Kromestar, and Rob Smith aka RSD.

Who are they?
A fixture on the scene since 2003, The Uplifter is an established DJ, who brings his performances to life with animated art projections, live percussion and vocalists. He will be joined by JazZstepPa, one of the UK’s leading dubstep acts that have already attracted attention from BBC Radio 1. Another sought-after dubstep DJ, and BBC 1 Xtra and Rinse FM resident, Kromestar, will also feature in the line-up. The final act to take to the stage as part of the exciting tour is Rob Smith aka RSD, who has produced a number of songs including Massive Attack’s first single ‘Any Love’.

The Channel One Sound System

When is it?
Dub to Dubstep is taking place between 28 November – 12 December:

28 November: Beaver Works, Leeds
3 December: The Rainbow, Birmingham
4 December: Trinity, Bristol
9 December: The Den, London
10 December: Digital, Brighton
12 December: Old Firestation, Bournemouth

It’s exciting to see a different type of tour happening and from what I know so far, it’s definitely going to be explosive, so make sure you check it out. I will be going to a couple of the gigs so give me a shout if you’re going too!

For more information, check out www.punch-records.co.uk.

Who said footballers weren’t smart…?

23 11 2009

… It definitely wasn’t me, as I’m a big fan of football and the boys who get paid a lot of money to play it. They often get a lot of stick for their wage packets, and it is understandable in a recession when the UK has over 2 million looking for work, but the Wigan Athletic boys have made up for it with this smart bit of PR.

Don’t think I’m completely naive here, I am aware that it is very probably a smart PR person (like my good self) that has advised them to do this, but I like the sentiment either way.

Image Credit: Joe Giddens/The Times

Yesterday the Wigan team left fans in pieces after a massive 9-1 thrashing by Tottenham Hotspur. Today the players have come out in force to apologise in the form of money… and we all love a bit of that. They have vowed to refund the 400-odd supporters that had to witness the nightmarish 90 minutes; coughing up something close to £10k.

In an article by The Times, Mario Melchiot, the captain, was quoted as saying:

“We feel that as a group of players we badly let down our supporters yesterday, and this is a gesture we have to make and pay them back for their tremendous loyalty.”

“There is not a lot else to say, just that as a group of professionals we were embarrassed by the way we performed, we feel it was below our standards and this is something we feel we owe to the fans. Now we have to draw a line under the game, focus completely on training this week and bounce back on Saturday [against Sunderland],” he added.

In my opinion, this is a brilliant bit of PR… put your money where your feet clearly weren’t and show fans that you appreciate their support. Well done Wigan!

If you randomly happen to be one of these fans (unlikely to be reading my blog I know, but just in case), you are entitled to a full refund and should contact the ticket office, who will post the money to your home address. Refunds must be claimed by December 4 though so get your skates on!