Behind the scenes at Sky Sports

It’s commonly said that things move fast in the world of business but not, in my experience, when compared with daily newspaper journalism. And the breakneck speed that is required to process news accelerates in the world of 24 hour broadcast news, something that is true for sports news too.

I’m with an audience of PR pros in London at a breakfast event to meet high profile figures from Sky Sports and Sky Sports News. As we discover more about the way this behemoth brand operates, I am increasingly struck by the amazing depth of resources and cross fertilisation that Sky has its disposal, and I cannot help but admire the energy and creativity they put in to leveraging their assets – chief of which by a huge margin are the live sports for which they have broadcasting rights.

How do you as a PR pro get your stories into Sky Sports News. As with all broadcast outlets, it begins with the planning team who are usually looking a week ahead. There are nine in the team but Sky Sports News also has 100 journalists who are expected to do their bit to find news. The Sky Sports news team are looking for stories that are interesting, entertaining and relevant but most of all that will drive audience for the events that Sky televises.

One opportunity for PR is to fill a gap. Sky needs to keep the narrative going when there are no live events, such as in the long NFL off season. They try to serve core fans and entice new ones. This is achieved by adding showbiz to the event – as demonstrated by its darts events – or enticing crowds to fill empty seats at netball games via its Sky Tickets service.

Funny story

When is 24 hour news not 24 hours? Sky Sports’ Through the Night show is live between 6 am and midnight. After that, they loop the hour from 11 am to midnight until they go live again. It used to be common practice on the night shift to nip out to a newsagents around the corner for a coffee or sometimes a crafty beer. As the show’s presenters appear against the backdrop of the newsroom, one of the journalists was televised drinking a beer between 11 am – and then again every hour until 6 a.m.

Filling a daily news channel is hard work. The ticker is live through the night, and the office is staffed from 3 am ready for a 6 am start. Staff sometimes work to deadlines of minutes for breaking news. Then there are Sky’s digital channels which have a combined reach of 43 million, though the head of digital expresses some healthy scepticism about how meaningful those statistics are.

There is more frank discussion to come. Sky’s commercial partnership with sport governing bodies makes reporting some news stories sensitive. Sky Sports News on tv and digital applies different rules to news than its BBC counterpart or Sky’s main news channel. For example, it didn’t run footage of dressing room celebrations by the Brazilian football team killed in a plane crash, as it was deemed too dark. Our viewers haven’t come to us for that kind of thing, they say. That aside, Sky has more rigorous editorial policies than some media, requiring all stories to be double sourced, the same standard that the Washington Post applies. In a digital world where rumours and real news break as often and noisily as waves, they avoid being left behind by the device of an ‘Investigating Desk’ which it uses to tell viewers it’s aware that something’s broken and that its journalists are investigating.

PR pros should think about footage to go with the story they are pitching. This is also increasingly required for digital as well as broadcast news. Avoid over branding. Ofcom and viewers are turned off by it. Vodafone made that mistake, and even though the event was loaded with sport celebrities, Sky wouldn’t air it.

Sky has ten hero events a year, such as the start of the F1 season. For these, they plan much further in advance. Sky Bet and Sky Tickets get involved. Darts is big for Sky’s pubs and clubs team so they get involved in brainstorming. To promote tennis coverage to a non-core audience, they set up a stunt to involving catching a Guinness Record quantity of tennis balls in a bucket on your head featuring tennis star Greg Ruzedski and to win that crossover audience, the presenter of Soccer AM, its laddish Saturday morning football preview show.

Sky’s influence and budgets are apparent in the way it is extending its tentacles through the social networks. It is a launch partners with YouTube Live and has a very successful partnership with Snapchat, for whose users it streams Premier League goals for free.

It is not all plain sailing. Sky Sports faces competition, particularly for millennials, from The SportBible, although Sky’s head of digital points out that channel depends on Facebook algorithms for its existence. Meanwhile, the news team are constantly agonising over how to do live streaming online without cannibalising its own coverage, and the commercial team still struggle to shut down the pirates.

Blog Property PR

Lessons from HS1/2

Selling the vision of major projects: Do it well or be demonised.

At the relaunch of the property and construction group within PRCA (the Public Relations and Communications Association), we’re hearing from the horse’s mouth about what went right with the public consultation and engagement on HS1 and what went oh so badly wrong on HS2.

Quick disclaimer: I’ve used the title of the presentation for this piece but I wouldn’t describe public consultation and stakeholder engagement as ‘selling’ exercises. That suggests one-way traffic and propaganda for commercial gain. On the contrary, done well, these kinds of projects should be about involvement and engagement, especially since we now have an armoury of digital communications channels that enable this on a scale never before possible.

Our speaker is Ben Ruse, former media director for HS1 who went on to be lead spokesperson for HS2 until 2013.

His opening shot is that grand projects automatically attract public disapproval. In the Olympic Park area, London 2012 had a 50 per cent approval rating before the games which soared to 75 per4 cent around Super Saturday only to slip back to pre-game levels. Nationwide – let alone in the areas affected – HS2 has been polling 35 per cent in favour at best.

Does it matter?

How much does that matter? Ben points out that the House of Commons typically returns enormous majorities in favour of big infrastructure projects such as HS2. Ultimately, government makes the decisions.

The challenge to win public support is on a very human level. Good communications cannot meet this test alone. The other ‘c’ word, compensation, can, or could if the UK way of delivering it wasn’t so fiendishly complex and built on a desire by authorities to limit the amount paid out to the minimum possible. By contrast, France gives three times more generously and, as Ben points out, has built two airports in the time it has taken the UK to make a decision to build one runway.

So money gets the job done but good PR helps. And the PR for HS1 was very good. The decision to redevelop St Pancras and build the high speed connection to the Chunnel delivered a generation of disruption for people living around the site.

Eyes on the prize

The project spent money buying local people double glazing to keep out the noise and tumble dryers so that their washing wasn’t coated in dust but PR delivered something bigger – letting people know what the ‘prize’ would be in regeneration. A lot of the campaign’s success was built on being visible locally. The team set up a Portakabin on site as a marketing suite. It worked at being visible in the local press, in classrooms (to enlist young ambassadors to persuade their parents of the benefits) and at local events.

Rather than those sterile foam board displays in village halls and council offices – we’ve all been there – take a stall at the village fete. Be in context and take advantage of the power of existing local events and groups to deliver an audience. The HS1 PR team were creative in other ways too. One standout example was a play they commissioned by a Radio 4 playwright that told the story of Sir John Betjeman’s struggle to save St Pancras from demolition.


So that’s what success looks like. HS2 by comparison has become the monster for all Camden’s ills. It seems a case of too little too late on the communications front, and the opposition to the scheme not just in London but all along the route – and politically – is mounting. Those who want to deliver big projects should realise at the outset that delays because of local opposition cost huge amounts of money.

I asked a question based on Hopwood PR’s experience working with the URC for Leicester some years ago. Here we found a clear generational gap between the Grumpy Old Men generation and a younger audience who were readier to believe and embrace the opportunities. We identified that one of the major obstacles to winning the hearts and minds of the over 40s was to convince them that the URC would deliver and it would be good. Like many cities, Leicester had been brutalised in the 1960s and its people promised wonderful new things by successive councils that never materialised, such as a monorail. Their scepticism was understandable. One of the ways we challenged this was to create two regeneration walking tours with illustrated leaflets enabling people to visit the sites, see the first buildings being delivered and get a feel for what else could be on the way. A shiny new shopping centre and Grade A offices near the rail station were duly delivered before 2008 brought things grindingly to a halt. Leicester still has 12 miles of undeveloped waterway, though there have been moves to revive the plans recently.

Bear in mind this was long enough ago that silver surfers were the exception rather than the norm so social media wasn’t a channel we could use with them, but Facebook – a burgeoning force at the time – was. Not only did the channel connect us to an enthusiastic younger audience it also allowed us to demonstrate to stakeholders and the older generation that we were engaging with young people. We did this simply by sending a news release and screen shot to the local newspaper.

The answer to my question then is to use a balance of online and conventional media but remember that audience profiles change over time so adapt your use of channels.

Be careful too. In one of his HS roles, Ben had taken the reasonable premise that the project should be given a human face and made the mistake of making publicly available a Twitter profile for himself. It resulted in the stream from hell. So beware open forums that a few vocal opponents can take over and occupy. Instead keep your online activity short lived. Connect it to an event or something tangible with a beginning and end. Keep it moving to avoid hosting a festering hard-core group.

Lessons in brief

• Engage, don’t sell
• Expect opposition for big projects
• Good communications can’t do it all
• Compensate early and generously
• Give practical help to communities
• Tell the big regeneration story well
• Go where your audience is
• Use a mix of online and offline channels
• Understand the generation gap
• Keep online activity short-lived

Blog Property PR

Building a better London

London has a bright future with its formidable business community, culture, sport and nightlife.

Angus Dodd, chief executive of Quintain, delivers an upbeat forecast for the capital in post Brexit Britain. He heads up the organisation that is delivering regeneration on a grand scale at Wembley Park with 1,000 homes built and 4,850 to come around the national stadium. Aimed at a more prosperous resident than the norm for Brent – one of the poorest boroughs in London – he is confident demand for homes will remain intense despite uncertainty. Brexit is only one incarnation of this. As the breakfast presentation draws to a close, a few New England villagers are the first Americans to cast their votes in the Trump v Clinton Presidential race. There are elections on the way in France and Germany, as well as a referendum on the Italian constitution in the offing.

Switching back to Brexit, there remains uncertainty about what Brexit means. “We are in the eye of the storm, and we need to move out of it.” International investment in real estate, services and other parts of the economy is vital, so Angus likes the London Mayor’s hashtag #LondonIsOpen.


Quintain wants to contribute to building a better London. His fear is that they will not deliver this aim, that Wembley Park will be commercially successful but have no longevity. After all, many new places that were unveiled in the 1960s and afterwards with a rosy future have turned into sink estates. Angus reads a quote from a former Thamesmead resident. “I grew up on Thamesmead as a child it was great because of the open spaces but as a teenager it became a hell hole due to its dark passages where gangs congregated.”

Quintain’s vision for Wembley Park in 2024 is the opposite, a flourishing community of nearly 20,000 people living in a place that stands the test of time. The 85-acre site includes Wembley Arena and 268,000 sq ft of retail space with 1 million sq ft more to come, but Quintain has also invested in the spaces between, not imposing a lifestyle on residents but allowing the community room to grow its own networks and activities. “Not just student flats for grown-ups.”

The power of regeneration is clear in Wembley and in places such as Kings Cross and Nine Elms. Yet there remains a huge housing shortage in London with 10 million people forecast to be living here by 2023. “Brexit is not going to change that.”


How do you deliver on place-making and regeneration? The answer is partnerships, according to Angus, including with the local community, but they do not always get it right. It is the week after Bonfire Night, and they have sponsored a spectacular firework display for residents which has resulted in glowing comments on Twitter, which he monitors via a daily digest. On other days, it is painful to read, as in the period after Pizza-gate, a pizza festival that ran out of pizza. In disadvantaged Brent, the most ethnically diverse of the London boroughs, engagement with local people means running events that appeal to the whole community, not just the relatively wealthy people who can afford to live on the site.

Good relations are also crucial with local and central government (Brent council has a civic centre on the site), TfL and the FA, who own the stadium.

Alongside this, Quintain is forging partnerships with the building, design and investment communities and working with them to achieve its objectives.

Hopwood PR’s work on Green Street in the Meadows brought together all these strands, supporting our developer client to deliver an eco-homes scheme that is both transformational and part of the neighbourhood (and commercially successful).

PRS is the future

Angus regrets that the UK relies almost entirely on the private sector for housing because property developers need to make a profit but building homes to sell doesn’t solve the housing problem. There is a clear choice as he sees it between PRS or forcing millennials out of London. He points out it would take a very frugal person eight years on a typical London salary to amass the £80,000 deposit needed for an average London home. By contrast, a couple could move in to an upmarket home on Wembley Park (15 minutes from where we are in CBRE’s W1 headquarters) for £20,000 a year, £10k each. “I’m convinced this is the future.”

Five a day

Mark Collins, Chairman of Residential at CBRE, introduces Angus by way of listing five of the London Chamber’s 20 key points on which it is lobbying the Mayor.

  1. More affordable homes to rent in all new developments (the Chamber is cautious about government prioritising home ownership because of the effect that would have on the Build to Rent sector (B2R).
  2. Support SME builders
  3. Bring forward availability of small plots of land
  4. Make the most of space (a call for release of ‘green belt’ land for development that the Mayor has signalled he won’t countenance)
  5. Ensuring London has the skills it needs (more devolution to the capital so it has power to manage its own future)

He highlights concern among businesses about EU nationals already working here and the risk that post-Brexit immigration policy might affect their status and stop businesses in London importing the best international talent. Failure to invest in UK construction training 15 years ago has led to a chronic shortage of UK skilled labour. This can be addressed over the next five years (Hopwood PR client DTL has been pressing and putting forward ideas for this with the help of some creative media relations from us) but there will be a lag time. Meanwhile, 80 per cent of construction workers in London are foreign compared with 50 per cent nationally.

Blog Property PR

The power of words in property PR

Can having a way with words give property organisations the power to make big things happen, and what does physics have to do with public relations?

Scientists knew about black holes before they were called black holes but it wasn’t until the term was coined that the phenomenon captured the public imagination. A man known for his way with words, physicist John Wheeler is credited with inventing the label in 1967 (he also came up with ‘space time’), long enough ago for two generations of sci-fi authors and screenwriters to be in his debt.

property PR
Credits: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss

Physics and public relations are not as distant disciplines as one might think, as I wrote in my blog The Arecibo Effect: Seven PR Lessons from the Greatest Communication Never Made.

Dramatic words 

Compelling and descriptive labels can have a powerful effect in other sectors, even B2B. At a property industry breakfast, the London Chamber chief exec Colin Stanbridge reminds us of their register of derelict land in the capital, which they cleverly christened The Domesday Book of Brownfield Sites. That initiative was influential enough to make then London Mayor Boris Johnson set up the less-imaginatively-titled London Land Commission. It shows the power of words to make things happen.

Big, complex ideas need smart wordsmiths 

Fast forward to October 2016, and the Chamber is calling on the Mayor and government to encourage more SME developers to tackle London’s housing shortage. PRS is key to this. It also wants London to have a place at the table in EU talks to safeguard the capital’s ability to import international talent post the Leave vote, and has published a Brexit manifesto. Colin Stanbridge urges politicians to avoid obsessing about politically-fascinating EUU negotiations to the exclusion of all else and to remember to run the country and invest in infrastructure projects such as Crossrail. Any one of those points would be more powerful with a black hole-style key word or phrase.

What next for residential in London?

Don O’Sullivan, MD of Galliard, a sizeable developer mainly focused on London, tells us there is a 50 per cent under supply of homes in London and what is needed is more land released, which he  thinks developers would gear up to build on if it happened over five years or so.

He reckons the biggest obstacle to building homes in London is planning – 33 independent boroughs as nests of NIMBY-ism – followed by a tax on developers in the form of Section 106, land prices and political factors such as opposition to foreign investors. Angry about Brexit and the potential to make the skills crisis event worse, he thinks the vote will deter foreign investment while the exchange rate collapse makes materials more pricey.

Lateral thinking and partnership working

He thinks foreign investment restrictions won’t materialise in London while his firm’s response to land shortages has been to focus on converting offices to residential, which by taking office space out of circulation has unintentionally pumped up commercial rents.

A last word: The property world, as I constantly see at networking events like these, depends on its networks to get things done, and Don O’Sullivan’s firm is no different. It has no less than 100 joint venture partners.





How PR has changed: An interview with Managing Director Duncan Hopwood and Account Manager Alex Shah

  1. How has the emergence of social media changed the PR industry?

MD: The big difference is that it has made us much more interested in real engagement and conversations with our target audiences, rather than simply putting out messages to them in a largely one-way fashion. Before social media, if you wanted to reach people in a particular location, no matter who they were, if you could get your release or interview into their local newspaper, it was job done. Now those newspapers, like a lot of other publications, are a shadow of their former selves. Instead we have a number of different channels that we can target, and we can do things like Facebook advertising to target segmented audiences for example.

AM: The press release is now a news release, which can be used across a number of different channels, some that we control such as the client’s website and social media channels, and all sorts of different outlets. It is not just a press release for a specific publication or section of the conventional media.

  1. In what ways have client briefs changed? (Do clients now request things that they maybe wouldn’t have 10 years ago?)

MD: In areas like PR, marketing, and advertising, there used to be a feeling that ‘the advertising people know what they’re talking about so we’ll just hand it over to them and we’ll take their recommendation’. However, people question everything nowadays, and I think that client briefs and the process of winning new clients are more detailed. The brief has changed from often being ‘can you get my name into the paper’ to ‘how can we reach our target audiences and generate new sales or convince people to consider our argument and change their opinion about a particular issue’.

AM: People feel that they have more experience now, because they might have their own social media channels or a personal blog or website. It makes them more interested to know the details and specifics behind strategies and campaigns before engaging with PR.

  1. Are clients now more interested in gaining an online presence, rather than featuring in print news?

AM: I think it depends on the company and the sector. In property, they still value print news, especially the trades. But I think any company still values national newspaper coverage. I think that will always be valuable.

MD: Some are, it depends on their objectives, the industry that they are in and their understanding of the value of their online presence. I was presenting to a client group recently who needed a lot of convincing that they should be investing in digital, and I had to show them charts of national newspaper circulations plummeting while people’s use of social media is rocketing up, to convince them that we should be investing time and effort into this area, as well as in the national news print scene. The younger generation of business people in, for example, Leicester don’t read the local paper in print but they do read its website. Generally, the more important trade and professional magazines do still hold sway, and people do want to be in those, in their print or online editions, especially when it’s a business to business environment.

  1. Has the relationship between journalists and PR professionals changed in any way?

AM: I used to spend a lot of time building relationships with journalists, meeting them for lunches etc. I do less of that now because they move around a lot, they’re stretched for time and resources and they just want quick, easy wins. I don’t even speak on the phone to them as much as I used to. With respectable publications and the nationals, you have to show that you have solid new research or a really strong story that is reliable to win their attention.

MD: They have to fill their newspapers and websites every day, so they rely on the PR industry to generate content and ideas. Most publications would not be able to function without input from the PR industry. When I was a journalist I was always going to events and press conferences, going out to do interviews, but they don’t do that now. I wouldn’t recommend having a press conference now, unless it was to manage a crisis situation where a lot of journalists were clawing for information. It works much more effectively if you develop a relationship, which may be by email or twitter, and fulfil the individual journalist’s actual requirements. We’ve had much more coverage in the nationals by responding to stories that journalists wanted to write, rather than us trying to convince them to do a story that they didn’t already have.

  1. How has the decline in print newspapers affected the PR industry?

AM: I think that we now have to focus on different things, and focus on channels that target audiences will be reading or accessing in a different way such as YouTube. So I’d say there has been a change in tactics.

MD: We are now much more likely to generate content for clients in newspapers than we were because they rely more on us as an industry for content. But on the other hand that coverage is going to be seen by fewer readers. So as Alex said, we now have to use different ways of engaging with audiences.

  1. Has the demand for PR work increased over time?

AM: No company can just ignore their online presence like websites and social media. They need it for winning new business and also for recruitment. The younger generation look on websites and social media for information about a company. So I think it’s foolish for any company to ignore that. It’s a full time, every day thing that you need to be constantly on top of.

MD: I think it’s quite complicated because what PR is now is different to what it was. Has demand for conventional media relations increased significantly? No. Is there more demand for PR agencies that can effectively communicate as part of a marketing programme? Yes, and there are also growth areas that incorporate social responsibility. It’s about arguments and changing people’s minds. Carrying out public consultations, engaging with stakeholders, working with charities and volunteering – areas that are not specifically focused on sales and marketing, and may not even be commissioned by a commercial business, have definitely grown.

  1. Has it been difficult to adapt to changes in the PR industry?

MD: It has required a lot of time and energy, but I haven’t found it difficult. As a member of the CIPR and the PRCA, I have access to the latest thinking about how PR, communications and social media work together. I’ve spent a lot of time reading about that, looking at case studies, seeing how what’s happening in consumer markets might apply to business in the property sector in particular. I wouldn’t say it has been difficult, more of an enjoyable challenge!

AM: I only started about ten years ago when people were already using the internet. It’s only social media that has changed dramatically for me.

  1. Despite PR changing over time, what key things have stayed the same over your career?

MD: Journalists still think that they are better writers than PR people. Largely, I would say that is true (speaking as a former journalist!). A good story idea well told, which could be in video format, or even an infographic, still beats everything else. Good ideas still help to set you apart. Social media isn’t actually a million times different to the real pre-digital world. I always say that LinkedIn always reminds me of how the property sector works, in that you can look at what your peers are doing, you can make connections, you can join groups together, and you can message each other. All of that existed before, it just wasn’t done on LinkedIn, so in many ways, things haven’t changed as much as it sometimes seems. We had an interesting conversation with one client in the property sector about how business was generally won and large projects brought to fruition by people knowing each other, having lunch with each other, beers after work and breakfast meetings etc. The next generation will need to make those same connections too but they may do more of it online, and it’s interesting to see the rise of BIM in the sector which is a way that different disciplines in the sector work collaboratively online.

AM: Journalists still want good quality, exclusive if possible, relevant things to them. And for you to have read their publication and previous articles and know what they want. Because they receive hundreds of calls about things that aren’t relevant and because they are under-resourced, you need to be able to pitch a story idea succinctly.


Tips from our Writing Workshop

After developing a compelling story idea, good writing often makes the difference between an article that makes the media and one that disappears. Here are some tips from our internal writing workshop.

  1. Start with the end in mind

You have to have a clear goal for each piece that you write. What effect do you want this piece to have on the reader? Is it to make them do something, like sign up for a mailing list or attend an event? Whatever your ultimate goal, have it front of mind throughout the writing process.

  1. Visuals are important

The first things that a reader or journalist will see of your piece is your headline and the pictures you use. The eye is naturally drawn to colour and bold headlines, so it is crucial that these are original and good quality. In newspapers and magazines, people read headlines, photo captions and the first one or two sentences of articles.

  1. Be straightforward

You need to write in a way that people will be able to understand. Avoid overly complicated language and be as clear as possible. You can still be engaging without being unnecessarily fancy. Alongside your goal, have your audience in your mind when you write, and use language appropriate to them.

  1. Know your angle

Whether you are writing about a current news topic or something more specialist, it is important to develop your own angle before you try and interest journalists. This is especially true if you are commenting on a breaking news story. You must have an interesting take on the subject to differentiate your article from the competition’s.

  1. Do your research

In order to write with authority, do your research. Be up to date on the latest information about your subject so that you can deliver information in context. You need to stay current with the news to do this. Conduct interviews with people who are specialists in the subject, or were present and have a first-hand account of what you are writing about. You can also conduct surveys to generate new information.

  1. Don’t forget technique

There are a number of writing techniques you can use to add life to your article, such as using alliteration, metaphors and three-part-lists. Strong comparisons and contrasts will paint a clear picture of the subject in the mind of the reader. Combining lists with repetition can create a build-up of excitement and deliver impact, especially if you happen to be writing a speech or presentation but that’s a writing genre for another occasion.



When a star footballer admitted what many people think, namely that Premiership salaries are obscene, it set us thinking. Our construction training client DTL had told us how a chronic skills shortage was leading to spiraling wage inflation in the utilities. We wondered if the problem wasn’t tackled, would construction workers one day earn footballer salaries.

The idea captured the attention of the media. Our release earned coverage for DTL in influential national titles including Recruitment International, HR Director and FM World where it ranked in the top ten ‘most read’ league table.

In total, the story was used by 20 media outlets with a combined readership of more than 300,000 prime target audience members for our client.

The goal of the month award goes to the Derby Telegraph for its mock-up of England captain Wayne Rooney as a construction worker.

Of course, in football, you don’t always get what you pay for. There is still a warm glow in our Leicester office after the rags to riches story of Leicester City. Manchester United has spent more on players in the last two years than Leicester has in its entire 132-year history.


dtl football coverage 1


How to use LinkedIn for business

We see LinkedIn as a natural extension of the face-to-face networking that property professionals do so well. But most people are barely scratching the surface of what it has to offer. To help you make the most of this powerful business-to-business channel, here are a few ideas.

  • Connect to your company – Ensure that you link your personal profile to your company page (you do have a company page right?) and encourage as many staff as possible to do the same. The more employees link their profiles to your company page, the more visible it will be online, boosting your chances of attracting new readers and prospects.
  • Join 50 groups – Many people only join a couple of groups or none at all. With more than 1.8 million groups on offer, you can do much better. Once you’re in a group, the number of prospects you can contact via LinkedIn increases so you can send direct messages to potentially hundreds of people who are not in your direct network.
  • Connect with your current clients and contacts – LinkedIn is an unobtrusive way to keep in touch so you are front of mind when clients and prospects are developing new opportunities. Just a brief note, preferably personalised, and a request to connect will suffice. These connections could well be your best source of referrals, so keep in touch online sufficiently frequently and with fresh content.
  • Share a status update between 11 AM and 3 PM each workday – Don’t miss this easy opportunity to share helpful information and remain front of mind within your network during the hours when they are most likely to be active on LinkedIn.
  • Find your most relevant group and get involved – Choose one group that is the visited most frequently by clients and prospects, and focus your efforts on that one. Post your own discussion or get involved in one that is generating good interest.
  • Download your network database – It’s wise to safeguard information, and this list of names, titles, companies, and email addresses may also prove to be helpful for your marketing efforts outside of LinkedIn.
  • Save your best advanced people searches – LinkedIn will send you a periodic email containing a list of people who meet your specific search criteria.
  • Maximize your professional gallery – This is a great place to showcase your best work but very few users use it to its full potential or even at all. You can make your profile stand out with video, audio, presentations, documents and links to your marketing collateral.
  • Pursue recommendations – While the endorsements feature is easy to use, well-written recommendations are probably a better way to build your reputation for expertise and ability. Don’t be afraid to ask clients for them.

Discover how digital content, PR and marketing communications work together to increase your visibility. Call a member of our team on 0116 204 4862.


How to prepare for London MIPIM

MIPIM UK – a spin-off from MIPIM, the largest property event in Europe, which descends on Cannes in the south of France every March – was held for the first time in 2014. Ahead of this year’s event on 19th-21st October at London Olympia, here’s our quick guide to getting the most of your time at this or indeed any other property event or trade show.

Plan your time
If you’re already in the habit of planning ahead of attending a show or conference, this will seem like an obvious one but you’re probably in a minority. It’s a crucial element to be able to make the most of your attendance. Check the MIPIM online database to see who’s going to be attending and don’t delay in setting up networking opportunities. Book meetings well in advance, and be sure to confirm exactly when and where your meetings will take place. Highlight any workshops or talks you want to attend, and plan your time around those. The programme schedule can be downloaded on the MIPIM UK website so you can find out exactly when everything will be going on. This will help you decide how many days you will attend and how much time you will spend at the show on each day. Be sure to leave plenty of time for organic networking.

Business cards
…and plenty of them! Again it may sound like an obvious thing to bring with you to a networking event but you want to make sure that you’re going to have them to hand at all times to be able to successfully make as many new connections as possible. When you’re there, don’t just give them out but collect them from new contacts. As soon as possible, scribble a note on the business card or in the show guide to remind you about the discussion you had and any ideas you have to follow up later.

If you have any meetings with journalists scheduled, make sure you have an exact plan of what you want to say and what you’re promoting. Consider putting together some press packs to give out to media. A specialist PR consultancy such as Hopwood PR can set up meetings with journalists as well as making sure your media messages and collateral are in top shape.

Check everything is in order
From your accommodation to your badges, check that everything is set to run smoothly. If you’re in need of accommodation while at this London based event, the MIPIM UK website has a link to hundreds of hotels as well as information on how to get there based on the form of transport you’ll be taking.

Make sure your registration is fully completed ahead of time to avoid any complications upon arrival, and make sure you know how you’re receiving your badge. You can choose to get your badge via post, as an e-ticket (both should get to you approximately one week before the event) or upon arrival at the registration area (you’ll need to have a valid photo ID with you for this).

Get to know your surroundings
This includes both inside and outside of the venue, especially if you’re exhibiting at the show. Before you arrive at the venue, be sure to know where your stand is to make setting up an easier and less stressful process. Find out where your key clients and any potential new business targets are exhibiting. Being in London means there are a multitude of restaurants and other locations available for meeting contacts so networking doesn’t have to be confined to the show venue. See when you can schedule some off-site coffee, lunches, drinks or dinners into your days.

As soon as possible, plan what your agendas will be while at the event. You can the post them on the ‘exhibit’ section on the official MIPIM website, so that other attendees can see them. This will help to help promote your projects.

If you’re a Twitter user, find out what hashtags are being used for the event and when you should be using them, and raise your visibility before, during and after the show with plenty of online activity and interactions. You can schedule a lot of this in advance. Your PR agency or in-house marketing communications team can help.

Put in place a plan for following up with the new contacts you’ve made during the event. Invite people to meet for a coffee and make sure you have something interesting and compelling to show them. At Hopwood PR, we can help you put together a presentation. Not everyone will take you up on this offer straight away of course. So put in place a programme of communications with all your new contacts. We’ll help you to produce interesting content such as e newsletters and white papers as a means of maintaining contact and keeping you in the minds of prospects and intermediaries you’ve met at the show.

Blog Property PR


From multicultural Leicester to cosmopolitan London this morning where the latest Capital 500 survey of business confidence was unveiled. The mood is angry.

In the wake of England’s humiliating exit from the Euro 2016 football championships, the economic goalposts have been moved, and no-one knows where.

What we do know, as Vicky Pryce from the Centre for Economics and Business Research put it, is that uncertainty is bad news for foreign direct investment. In a post-Brexit Britain, local authorities, LEPs and other organisations with a role to play in attracting investors to the UK are going to have to work harder. And for those that do, there could be rewards.

The survey, taken before the referendum, showed business confidence in the capital at its lowest ebb since the survey began in 2014.

Colin Stanbridge, chief executive of the London Chamber which published the report, said: “Government must move quickly to maintain confidence and minimise economic uncertainty.”

But that seems unlikely to happen in the current political vacuum. All the more reason for local authorities and everyone with a stake in regeneration to step up to the penalty spot in our hour of need. One reason to make plans to market local areas now is that the funding scenario is likely to change when the Government gets its act together and puts cash behind a concerted effort to avert an exodus of investors and international businesses. Organisations with effective marketing communications and PR plans built on strong inward investment strategies – such as our client Melton Borough Council’s Food Enterprise Zone – ought to be be well placed to gain funding from any new Government initiatives as well as winning a share of the likely boosted coffers in existing ones.

As firms ponder their future, business support organisations have an opportunity to show leadership and remind their catchment areas of the portfolios of help available. There is a communications job to be done right now to explain how they can help businesses to adapt to change, and there is an urgent requirement to develop arguments for overseas investment in local areas – building a compelling case for local areas that can survive doubts about the future of Britain outside the EU. It is important for organisations to act now to provide certainty and confidence. Delaying campaigns and putting decisions on hold will make things worse. Waiting for the Government and the EU to come to a settlement will only create a vacuum of uncertainty.

What can local areas learn from the reaction of London’s economic powerhouse? Colin Stanbridge again: “As Ministers now contemplate the UK’s future outside the EU, London’s new mayor, Sadiq Khan, needs to be involved in that planning – to help harness the resources necessary to sustain long-term economic growth.

“Government must look to maintain the capital’s position as world-leading place to do business. That means having the pull factors that will attract global companies to invest and locate in London whether that is around business environment, strategic infrastructure or skilled staff. We need to turn the result of the referendum into a time of opportunity for Britain.”

Vicky Pryce added: “The results of the survey certainly chime with what we have seen for the economy as a whole. The vote to leave in the referendum unsettled markets. Although a lower sterling may be good for exports it also raises manufacturers’ costs and the prices of consumer goods. There is no clarity on what trade deal may be agreed and whether tariffs may be imposed on UK exports. Or whether Scotland remains part of the UK in the longer term. Uncertainty is bad news for growth and for FDI, and the political vacuum created by the Prime Minister’s resignation adds to this. More monetary and fiscal support to the economy will be essential.”