Here are some of our latest obsessions, successes and joys.

03
May
Nyree

The appeal of working for a start-up

Posted by Nyree

 

 

By Blair Grant

A recent article published in The Daily Telegraph got me thinking about company culture and what attracts us to work for a particular organisation.  The piece, which focussed on a survey published by a recruitment company, found almost three-quarters of tech workers prefer to focus on finding work with start-ups for the learning opportunities and closer contact to clients. 

Are larger companies and multi-nationals losing their advantage over smaller start-up agencies when it comes to recruitment?

This time last year I was walking around Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow, considering my employment options.  The weather was nice for Scotland – light, as opposed to heavy rain.  I had spent my formative PR years working with the largest agency outside of London, and at that stage was with a Scottish national agency.  I was 25 and I wanted a stab at London.

I made plans to speak to a number of agencies about starting a new career in England. I met Stand Agency, and needless to say, I’ve never looked back. My first interview saw me meet Francesca and Rebecca.  The majority of the discussion centred on Scottish politics and I could sense the excitement from what was then a very new agency.   I got a good sense of Stand’s flexible nature when I met Laura – and her daughter – in a Peterborough shopping centre as  Laura was on annual leave and I was travelling home the following day.  I quickly recognised that working with Stand would allow me to make my mark on an agency with so much potential. When the job offer came I accepted immediately.

Fast forward a year and I’m the happiest I’ve been in PR. Would I have accepted a role at a larger agency? Who knows?  However, what I can say is that I’m better at my job as a result of working here.  We have a relatively small team but it’s tight-knit, close and friendly.  I only have to raise my head to know that I can bounce ideas off some of the most talented people in the industry.

Penny agrees that there are many benefits of working in a small team – particularly a team made up of such awesome people as we have at Stand Agency. She likes the close friendships that develop, and thinks you can tell when people get on in a company and enjoy coming to work.  Penny, says: “The fact that it is a start-up company provides the additional benefit of a real sense of anticipation of what we could become- what we WILL become! This motivates everyone in the team, at whatever level, to strive to reach the potential we all know we have. It’s exciting to be part of something from the start. We’re all invested, and all share a real pride in the business.”

Molly, our intern, said that working here allows her to see more of the high-level projects in action.  “I’m not cornered away doing the photocopying”, she adds.

Now nowhere is perfect.  Are there downsides to working with Stand Agency? Yes, of course.  Being the only man in the office means that football chat is a little thin on the ground.  I now also know more than I care to about make-up. That said, the support, teamwork and genuine pride at watching something I’m a part of grow, more than makes up for it.  Oh, and the cake.  Never forget the cake.

30
Apr
Nyree

Stand Agency appointed to advise PPL

Posted by Nyree

Fast growing PR and social media consultancy, Stand Agency, has been appointed by PPL, an independent management consultancy, to develop and deliver a re-brand and communications strategy for 2013. This win for Stand Agency adds to its growing portfolio of clients as it comes up to its first birthday.

PPL works across the health and social care, local government, education, third, technology and innovation sectors, with a UK-wide client base. The PPL team recently won an Innovation award from the Management Consultancies Association (MCA) for their work with Nesta and the Innovation Unit on People Powered Health, looking at the management of long term health conditions across the UK.

Stand Agency has been briefed to develop an overarching communications strategy and plan to enable PPL to expand in markets where it already has a strong and well-respected presence. The account will be led by co-founder and Director of Stand Agency, Rebecca McLeod.

Rebecca, said:

“We look forward to supporting one of the top 50 UK management consultancies creating an innovative PR strategy that will increase awareness of PPL while differentiating it in the marketplace.

“This is an exciting time for Stand Agency with PPL as a new client and other opportunities on the horizon.”

Simon Morioka, Managing Director, PPL, said:

“Over the last five years we have delivered sustainable change in the private, public and third sectors and we look forward to working with Stand Agency to further build awareness of our offering to these markets.

“Stand Agency stood out as they are closely aligned to our commitment of being consistently open and honest in our work, ensuring that we deliver genuine value to clients”

17
Apr
Nyree

What it’s like at Stand Agency from Molly The Intern

Posted by Nyree

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Molly Stein Davies

This is the virginal (mini-)blog of Molly The Intern (I feel the capital letters lend a certain cachet to my job description.) However, far from being a general dogsbody – the role so frequently assigned to those undertaking an internship – I am actually pleasantly surprised to find myself entrusted with a fair share of genuine responsibilities. Drafting the job description for a new Senior Account Executive was just one of these.

The fact that Stand are looking for a new SAE to join the team will not be news to those who follow the ‘Standsays’ tweets, but these followers  may not know what working for Stand would actually be like. I am only two and a half days into my internship but, based on my experience so far, any potential SAEs could do a lot worse than working for Stand! The office is small but friendly, and filled with welcoming, diligent, creative, cake-loving, and highly intelligent colleagues. I have learnt a huge amount even in this short time (you can put beer in cake!) Indeed, it’s a shame I can’t put myself forward for the SAE role – of course there’s the minor obstacle of that pesky 2 to 4 years prior experience prerequisite standing in my way…. 2 to 4 years (imagine balancing in the left hand)… 2 days (imagine balancing in the right)…Yeah, it doesn’t quite add up, but hey ho and a bottle of rum. If my internship is cut short after my superiors read this blog I could always become a pirate…

You can email the team at ask@standagency.com for more information about the Senior Account Executive role.

17
Apr
Nyree

Stand Agency wins Vantage Finance brief

Posted by Nyree

Vantage Finance has appointed Stand Agency to develop and implement a new PR strategy to support its growth strategy.

Vantage Finance is a leading specialist broker that packages secured loans, buy to let mortgages, commercial finance, short term loans (bridging loans) and development finance for intermediaries in the UK. It operates in a competitive market and Stand Agency will be working with Vantage Finance to build awareness of the significant expertise within its specialist team.

The brief covers two phases – positioning and key message development, followed by a PR programme to enhance Vantage Finance’s reputation and profile in the industry press.

The account will be led by Stand Agency co-founder Francesca Rivett-Carnac.

Lucy Hodge, Director of Vantage Finance said: 

“I’m excited to be working with Stand Agency on a well thought out communications strategy. The team at Stand have always demonstrated the utmost professionalism whenever I have worked with them. They combine a personal approach to their clients with a strong underlying corporate PR offer, which means a friendly and responsive team that delivers excellent results.”

Francesca Rivett-Carnac, Associate Director and co-founder of Stand Agency said:

“Vantage Finance is a highly respected brokerage with a distinctive way of doing business. We’ll be working with Lucy and her team to build their media profile and highlight the benefits of using an expert packager with an in-depth knowledge of the UK lending market.”

15
Apr
Francesca Rivett-Carnac

A recipe for inspiration

Posted by Francesca Rivett-Carnac

By Fran Rivett-Carnac

 

We’re probably not the only ones who have noticed the little cloud of gloom that seems to have settled over our nation. If it’s not the endless stories of a bleak economy, it’s the fact that hats and gloves are still making an appearance in April (although today is looking more promising…)

Even the most optimistic and cheerful among us – and believe me there are a few here at Stand Agency – can sometimes wake up in the morning feeling a little uninspired. And a recent marathon week of brainstorms got me thinking. Being inspired and motivated leads to colourful ideas, brilliant work and a happy team. But what do you do when you find yourself completely devoid of inspiration when you need it most?

This blog is dedicated to anyone who has ever been there. It’s Stand Agency’s take on inspiration, and where we get it from.

The great outdoors. A bit of fresh air works wonders for the brain. For Penny it’s anywhere with trees. For Rebecca it’s a stroll down the street in the sun, to clear the mind and get all the connections working.

Food. Yes, we wouldn’t be Stand Agency without bringing food into the equation. Food is Nikki’s top creative inspiration, especially chocolate. Which is of course why it’s essential for us to have treats at every brainstorm…

People. We can’t all think of brilliant ideas all the time. But talking and bouncing ideas off each other means the tiniest kernel of an idea from one person can inspire something brilliant in another.

Solitude. But it’s also about having time to process your thoughts alone. Some of us come up with ideas in very mundane places… on the toilet, having a shower, in dreams, or in Rebecca’s case watching Peppa Pig (yes, Peppa Pig)

Exercise. Get a sweat on. Penny says the best way to get the thoughts flowing is going for a swim in the ponds on Hampstead Heath. If the idea of jumping into freezing cold water horrifies you, try getting the wind in your hair and going for a run.

Of course, we know it isn’t always feasible to drop everything and head out for a swim or an episode of Peppa Pig. If you’re at your desk with nowhere to run to, here are our two final thoughts:

Possibility. Rebecca is most inspired by knowing what’s possible. Think big and the rest will follow.

React to the negativity. Rather than being constrained by austere times, Laura believes it makes her more creative. React to the negativity and be more interesting and provocative to shake up the grey out there.

So there you have it. A recipe for inspiration a la Stand Agency. For those of you who are feeling a little grey today… we hope this helps you get back to being brilliant.

22
Mar
Francesca Rivett-Carnac

UnderSTANDing the Budget

Posted by Francesca Rivett-Carnac

By Penny Jones

In case you didn’t notice, the (not terribly) highly anticipated Budget 2013 was delivered this week amongst the usual unpalatable heckling and jeering from the House of Commons – as well as a quite unusual embargo-busting balls-up from the Evening Standard, with potential implications on the government’s practice of pre-briefing press (watch this space…)

So, as the Budget technically affects us all, we at Stand Agency thought we would share our personal highlights and lowlights from this year’s announcements. And first up, because I am writing it, is BOOZE! Might as well start with the important stuff and work down.

There are mixed feelings amongst the Stand crew on the 1p reduction on a pint of beer. Whilst Blair considers it to be one of his highlights, he also feels it is somewhat futile: “It’s good, but is a bit like being given £10 off a Ferrari, and will hardly have much of an impact when wages are falling”. A fair point. Fran is also ambivalent: Drinking will become an emotional rollercoaster with the joy of 1p off a pint followed by the sad reality of more expensive wine.”

I am more decided in my opinion on this one. Why just beer?! What about CIDER George? Wine? Rum? All other drinks I like? It feels discriminatory and is, in my opinion, a headline grabbing non-event. Channel 4’s Jon Snow clearly agrees with me, pointing out via Twitter that, if you drink10 pints a week, it will save you £5 a year.

Hmmm….

Onto lesser matters. The economy. Rebecca notes the not insignificant fact that the growth forecast for 2013 has been halved, pointing out “no matter how you dress that one up it isn’t good news”. Blair’s optimistic -sounding conclusion that it is ‘Budget of hope’ is revealed as misleading when he clarifies that it is the Chancellor’s hope (that his decisions pay dividends) to which he refers. Blair himself apparently does not hold out much hope for Osborne, simply pointing out the recent loss of our AAA rating.

Nikki was delighted to hear that the government has pledged to boost spending on infrastructure  by £3bn a year from 2015/16. Why? “I like going places, and I like doing it quickly”. You can’t fault the girl’s logic. She was less excited by the childish bickering and trading of insults we had to endure as we listened live to the announcement. A feeling shared by us all.

Another common theme in the office was disappointment at the relevance to us as individuals. This is something I certainly found, and have struggled to identify anything that will have a significant impact on my life. I do single out the 20% tax relief on childcare on behalf of my sister, who has three children. Drinks are on you sis! Oh, wait, with three children, you don’t go out….

Lack of relevance was something Laura also observed, as a non-smoker, non-beer drinker and very occasional driver, she found thatvery little of what Mr Osborne said got a cheer from me on a personal level”. Having started a new business in the past year, Laura was, however, encouraged to see some measures aimed at supporting small businesses. Although none were substantial on their own, she notes that a 1% reduction in corporation tax, a new £2k NI allowance and an increase in Government procurement from small firms (Stand Agency sits on the Agile comms framework) has to be good news.

Perhaps the most widely-relevant initiative, and Rebecca’s chosen high point, is the increase in the amount at which people start paying tax to £10,000. Although it doesn’t come into force for another year, it will make a big difference to most people. Fran was pleased to hear that there was some support for first-time buyers: “maybe now I’ll be able to buy a house before I’m 80!”. She was less enamoured with George Osbourne’s lack of focus on the environment. “Cancelling fuel duty rises and giving tax breaks for shale gas? On your bike Osborne!”

All in all, a mixed bag. Nothing hugely controversial, nothing hugely exciting. Will it make any difference? Ask us again in a year.

 

18
Mar
Nyree

As the horsemeat scandal gallops on…

Posted by Nyree

By Nikki Peters

Before this year I hadn’t given horsemeat a second thought. Now, almost three months after it hit the front pages it still occupies plenty of column inches.  I’ve found myself thinking about the ‘real’ contents of my ‘quick fix’ lunch. And the way I look at horses has changed for good. At Stand we like to look to the positives though, so I’ll be using this blog to look at three possible beneficiaries of us finding horsemeat in our Findus.

You and me

I think we’ve become savvier and it will be harder for other suppliers to pull the wool over our eyes.

If us lot at Stand are anything to go by, people are taking a keener interest in what they buy. Never did we consider that large supermarkets could dupe us into buying horse, cat, dog or bearded dragons. We assumed there were rigorous procedures and frequent testing and had no idea how many countries were traversed in the journey from farm (I said I was optimistic!) to our tables/baskets. We were wrong and we do so hate to be wrong.

Obesity

Now, let me make it crystal clear, I’m not suggesting for a second the cause of obesity is horsemeat. But the ongoing suggestion that cheap, fast food = more chance of horsemeat has definitely resulted in people asking “what’s in our food?”  Experts are being increasingly vocal that home cooking a lasagne for four people can be as cheap as pre-packed and not too taxing (even for my limited culinary ability) and recent figures suggest the sales of fast food are dropping since #horsegate.  With these encouraging signs it would be a huge shame if this was not jumped on as an opportunity to encourage more people to question where their food comes from and the importance of a healthy diet.

Local Butchers, for local people

One of our lovely Standettes’ brother-in-law is an independent Butcher and he’s seen a huge rise in footfall since mid-January. The uncertainty of the origin of meat is definitely driving some people to their local butcher where there is more assurance that you are getting the meat you thought you were. But this got me thinking why I am still shopping at the supermarket rather than at my local butcher.

1)       “It’s quicker” – I am not that busy and important on a Saturday morning that I can’t spare an extra 10 minutes, despite my delusions of grandeur.

2)      “It’s cheaper” – well yes shopping a butcher is more expensive than a 99p Findus lasagne (what isn’t?) but not more expensive than comparative meat.

3)      “It won’t taste any different” – this was just plain wrong. The meat from my local butcher is far tastier than its supermarket alternatives and, as an added bonus, you can ask someone about tips for cooking.

For me, the lies have been the most distressing part of this whole affair. Contaminated meat with tranquilisers and all sorts of medication that was never intended, nor fit, to be in the human food production chain certainly shocked me. We don’t want this sort of shock again and, potential suppliers, we are on the lookout.

All in all, I think the horsemeat scandal has been a positive tidal wave to hit the UK. In the last week alone there have been two high profile examples to us Brits taking the bull by the horns (not literally) and making changes. Which? Discovered a 30% drop in shoppers buying processed meat while The Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply have called for stricter regulations in tracking supermarkets supply chains. We are now looking beyond the label of anything we buy, which must be good for ethical shopping.

08
Mar
Nyree

What’s in a T-shirt?

Posted by Nyree

By Rebecca McLeod

What’s in a T-shirt?  Well until last week I would have answered: ‘Not much at all.’

But that was before those T-shirts, that excuse and Twitter came to the rescue.

Last weekend, Twitter, or at least the small corner of Twitter that I inhabit, was up in arms about a collection of T-shirts being sold on Amazon by a company called Solid Gold Bomb.  The T-shirts were from a collection of ‘Keep calm and…’ T-shirts –  so far so vintage and harmless?  Well, not really.  The ‘Keep calm and…’ T-shirts were finished with statements like: ‘Rape Them’; ‘Hit Her’ and ‘Knife Her’.

Cue a lot of people on Twitter (including me) getting very angry; tweeting Amazon to demand the T-shirts were taken down; and tweeting Solid Gold Bomb to ask them what on earth they were thinking (although the hope is that they weren’t thinking at all).

By the time I got to hear about the story, Solid Gold Bomb had already put out a statement, covered here by Sky News. But it seemed to raise more questions (and fury) than it answered.

I’ve compressed the report, but in essence, Sky reported the Solid Gold Bomb comment as:

“We have been informed of the fact that we were selling an offensive T-shirt primarily in the UK… This has been immediately deleted as it was and had been automatically generated using a scripted computer process running against 100s of thousands of dictionary words… The scripted programming process that created the slogan was compiled by only one member of our staff, but we accept responsibility for the error”.

Hmmmm. Not the approach I would have taken.

Is Solid Gold Bomb really trying to blame the computers?  Are we actually living in the nightmarish world of The Terminator films where amoral computers are in charge and running amok without any human control?  Who programmed the computers in the first place?  Who decided that it would be a good idea to let these computer-created T-shirts go straight onto the internet for sale without any further checking? Why didn’t Sold Gold Bomb know that these T-shirts existed?  What responsibility does / should Amazon have? If it’s all down to a random computer programme, why does a ‘Hit Her’ T-shirt exist, but not a ‘Hit Him’ version?

I could go on… but you get the idea.  Twitter was full of questions just like these, and the fact that Solid Gold Bomb immediately removed both their Facebook and Twitter pages directly after releasing the statement didn’t help.

So what lessons can we learn?

Well, I’d like to think (in my more idealistic moments) that we are becoming less tolerant as a society of ‘jokes’ like this.

In the wake of Savile and sexual harassment scandals in politics; the old: ‘It’s just a joke’; ‘Don’t take it seriously’ lines seem to be trotted out a little less often.  And that can only be a good thing.

Helped, of course, by the fact there is nowhere to hide from social media.

People can draw attention to things, galvanise others, and demand action like never before.  Whereas even a few years ago, removing the T-shirts and releasing a short (incredibly apologetic) statement might have sufficed… now you have to be willing to engage with your critics… and apologise directly.

Now, your statement won’t just be read by journalists, it will be shared, picked apart and questioned by people on social media and in their own blogs – and if it rambles on for pages, or just doesn’t ring true… it won’t stand up to scrutiny by the media (new or old).

Now that the traditional media cycle has gone out of the window, and news is 24 hours and social media fuelled, your reputation can be damaged in minutes.

With all that in mind, you’d think that people wouldn’t leave their business processes and reputations purely in the hands of computers.

13
Feb
Nyree

Good things come in small packages

Posted by Nyree

By Francesca Rivett-Carnac

 

It’s been a busy few weeks at Stand Agency, which is why we’ve been a bit quiet on the blog front. Amid book awards, national media briefings, nationwide tea parties and lots of other exciting stuff that we can’t tell you about quite yet (but hope to soon), we haven’t had a chance to breathe and tell the world what we’ve been up to.

 

We know that as a PR company we should do better, but we’re like lots of businesses that struggle to prioritise communications. With us it’s largely down to time (our clients come first in the PR pecking order!) but with other businesses the problem often goes beyond that.  We’ve noticed that when it comes to communications, lots of potential clients who ask our advice know their PR needs to work harder for them but they don’t know where to begin.

 

And that’s where we come in.

 

We had a bit of a light bulb moment a few weeks ago. As a small business ourselves, we know that signing up to a long-term project or ongoing retainer can feel like a big commitment. When it comes to PR, sometimes what’s needed is a different set of brains. A fresh pair of expert eyes and ears that will tackle your communications challenge, and send you on your merry way to PR perfection.

 

We now offer one-off sessions for businesses and organisations who don’t know exactly what they need from their communications. There’s our Stand Strategy workshop, where we’ll work with you to establish everything you need to write a compelling communications plan. Or if you’re after some creative genius try Stand Brainstorm for some killer ideas for your next campaign. Wondering why your communications activity isn’t having the desired effect? Let our PR doctors come and give you some Stand Surgery. Or if digital communications is still a bit of a mystery, our Stand Digital masterclass will help build your presence and reputation online.

 

We think a problem shared is most definitely a problem halved, and we’re confident that in a session we can help to clarify a client’s thinking and put some steps in place to ensure communications activities have impact and are more effective in the future. It’s all about starting small to think big.

 

And on the subject of starting small, we’re busy creating a little campaign by Stand Agency that will help some of the most exciting small businesses get ahead in their communications.  All will be revealed soon!