A little karma goes a long way…

Posted by Nyree

Karma Terms and Conditions:

      1. The deadline for the first set of entries is w/c 23rd September 2013
      2. The winner will be decided by a panel of judges from Stand Agency, and their decision is final
      3. Open to all small business owners in Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland)
      4. Open to entrants aged 18 years or over
      5. For more information on the competition visit www.standagency.com/blog/karma and download our karma flyer
      6. To enter, email karma@standagency.com.  Tell us about your business and how you think good PR can help in no more than 500 words
      7. The judges will make a decision on the first winning business by Friday 4th October 2013, and we will contact you directly if you have won

Boat Blog – Molly The Intern

Posted by Nyree

(Picture L-R: Farah Pasha, Nikki Peters, Molly Stein Davies, Darcy Bowman)

By Molly Stein Davies

A balmy Tuesday evening last week saw Nikki and me on a mission to find our sea-legs. As a Capricorn –traditionally associated with ‘Earth’ of the four elements – I ought by rights to be a confirmed landlubber. But I do love me a good boat.

Fortunately for me the PRCA had obligingly picked a riverboat as the locale of their (now annual) get-together for PRs. The idea is to amass practicing PR professionals – primarily from Account Executive to Account Director level (although somehow I slipped through the net) – and put them on a vessel complete with champagne, BBQ, networking and music. What’s not to love?

High heels. To begin with: high heels are not to love. I realised this before I’d actually climbed aboard said vessel, when standing precariously on the docking platform which was already swaying side to side. I told myself a fully motive water-vehicle would somehow be more stable than the dock and my choice of footwear would emerge victorious. Four months in PR have certainly refined my ability to put a positive spin on things.

However, having drunk my complimentary glass of welcome-bubbles, and having lost my balance and crashed into people three times (nothing to do with the bubbles – at Stand we know better than to combine work with being three sheets to the wind) the heels came off. And the evening really began…

Ever the urbane and well-connected professional, Ms Nikki Peters already had a number of PR acquaintances aboard whom she promptly introduced me to. In the course of the evening we also did the rounds and struck up conversations with a host of people novel to us both. It really was fantastic for a newbie such as myself to meet fellow PRs from such vastly different sectors and backgrounds – pharma, law, public affairs, financial, consumer. We were a mixed kettle of fish that’s for sure.

As the sun set – quite spectacularly – behind the sights of London Town, I felt really rather serene. Serenity is not something I’ve associated with PR so far it has to be said, but I felt it on that boat. In common with many people, the prospect of networking per se doesn’t fill me with happy anticipation. But on The Emeritus, with that wide selection of employees and represented sectors, I thought to myself that in the long-term PR might really be something I can get on board with.


What big business can learn from charities?

Posted by Nyree

By Francesca Rivett-Carnac 

I went to the PRCA’s Charity Group Summer Drinks the other week, and it really got me thinking.  What can big business learn from charities?

What struck me about the speakers from WWF and Shelter was the enormous focus with which they approached their campaigning and PR work. There’s nothing like a tight budget to sharpen the mind, and there are serious lessons to be learned from the charity sector. Even, or perhaps especially, if you’re working for a big business.

If you could only launch one campaign a year, I’m guessing you would think long and hard about what it was, what it said, where it went – and crucially, what it delivered. Right?

Right. But what’s the excuse for not thinking like this all the time?

What I’m talking about here is strategy. There are many businesses and organisations that are very good at generating content in the media without thinking about what it is really achieving. In the absence of a purpose that supports your organisational objectives, coverage just becomes noise.

We’ve all seen it. A piece of research that doesn’t go far enough in linking back to the business or organisation that commissioned it. That fantastic stunt that make us smile when we see it, but a couple of days later we have forgotten who was behind it. The spokesperson on the sofa who is clearly an expert – but at the end of the interview we are none the wiser about the organisation they represent.

Of course, brand visibility is important and name checks play their role. But I can’t help wondering whether, if egos were left at the door, we would see businesses and organisations generating better targeted and more effective coverage.

Supporting every business plan should be a good comms strategy; never the other way round. When budgets are tight we are forced to prioritise, and for organisations getting it right, the result is brilliant coverage that leaves us in no doubt about who they are, or what they are trying to achieve.


How to lose friends but influence people

Posted by Nyree

By the Stand Agency team

We read, with shock at our admissions, a recent article summing up “how you know you’re getting old” and couldn’t help but laugh. We have now compiled our list of “how you know you work in PR”. For those in the industry, you will probably laugh and nod, for those looking to work in PR….don’t say we didn’t warn you!

  1. You watch someone being interviewed on TV and analyse how well you think they have been media trained, instead of passively watching.
  2. You wax lyrical on very niche subjects – Penny, for example, can tell you anything you never wanted to know about potholes, whereas Jo Jacobson can offer thoughts on government positioning.
  3. You hone in on surveys from a great height when reading the papers, but not for the subject matter. No, we don’t need to know how much fatter people are than in 1950 (thanks Daily Express) we need to know who the client is that commissioned it!
  4. You think advertising is “a bit over-rated”.
  5. You read every single media outlet by 9.30am, even on a Sunday.
  6. You have an unhealthy obsession with social media. Whether your topic of choice is feminism/ politics/ football/ music/ photography/ celebrity/ fashion/ insert any other obsession here.
  7. You can juggle at least five tasks simultaneously. On a quiet day. Whilst frantically tweeting, of course.
  8. You can deliver bad news, and make it sound OK. Telling a client that something has gone wrong but still eking out a tiny modicum of positivity is vital.
  9. You understand that when someone says, I need to turn this around quickly, that means in the next hour… not in the next week.
  10. You don’t read the paper. You demolish it by tearing out various articles and always thinking; “yes my client could fit in with this or that”.
  11. You are glued to your phone when a client matter is going on be it day or night, whether you are on holiday or at home.
  12. You hear yourself saying out loud on the train into work, “that’s a nice infographic.” Infowhat…?!

So, what do you think? Have we missed any blinders – if so let us know. Working in PR can be a way to lose friends but influence people. And a sure fire way to laugh all day at yourself doing the above.


When it comes to social media, are some more equal than others?

Posted by Nyree

By Rebecca McLeod

When it comes to social media, are some more equal than others?

There’s nothing new or exciting about observing that we’re all publishers now; that the power of traditional media organisations has been diluted; and that “people-power” can rule on social media.

But what does that mean?  Are we all equal in our responsibilities to fair and accurate reporting?  Is it fine for any one of us to sound off on any subject that pushes our buttons at any particular time?  And are some of us more responsible than others?

This final question, about whether our responsibilities are equal in the online world, has been plaguing me recently.  Ever since I read a particularly disturbing blog by Louise Mensch.  I won’t replay it here, but if you’re interested you can check out my Twitter timeline for 10th June, and you’ll see the offending blog and  my conversation with Mensch about it.

The bigger question it raises for me, is whether Mensch needs to be more responsible when she blogs than someone with just a handful of followers.

Is it ok for someone with a powerful voice to talk about subjects they might just have a passing knowledge of?

Should the influential have to live by the rules of Uncle Ben from Spiderman (oh ok, and Franklin D Roosevelt) who said: ‘With great power, comes great responsibility?’

Are we living in a time when, instead of the “great and the good” having power to express any opinion they want, the little people can express, within reason, what they like.  And does this mean the big people have to watch their step?

Is the power dynamic of saying what we think, at least in terms of how free we feel, being turned on its head? After all, anyone can, for want of a better term, “call-out” anyone else on their opinions via social media.

I don’t claim to have all or any of the answers to these questions. I guess for now we all have to live by our own judgements, and hope that’s enough.  But the ones that survive the judgement of the social media jungle, however powerful, will be the ones who: listen, engage, respond and evolve.


How to STAND out

Posted by Nyree

By the Stand Agency team

As you may know, we are recruiting at Stand Agency (if you are interested in joining us, get in touch!). Interviewing possible candidates caused discussion here about what makes a good impression when looking for someone to join your team? Here are a few thoughts from us for those looking to embark on a career in PR. Please join in and add your tips below.

First impressions count

It’s so important to have lots of interesting things to say about yourself at an interview to show your passion and enthusiasm for PR.

If you are just starting out in your career and lack on-the-job experience, you’ll need to talk about volunteering, work experience, your interest in social and traditional media and your observations on good campaigns, launches etc.  Pull out how this has built up your knowledge and skills suited to PR and comms like writing, public speaking or framing a point of view.  Never underestimate how good other candidates will be at this kind of stuff. Go in with real examples, fresh opinions and ideas, to show you have really thought about what working in comms and PR would be like.

Be inspired

Cultivate your interest in areas in which you want to work. Staying interested and engaged in your work (and clients) is a recipe for success.

Having a genuine interest in the thing you are promoting helps enormously – clients can tell and journalists can tell. Enthusiasm is contagious. Don’t be closed off to what you can find interesting – it’s amazing how, with an open mind, even an apparently ‘dry’ topic can become fascinating when you start to explore it.

Read, read and read more

It may sound obvious – but in interviews it’s very easy to tell who really pays attention to the media, and who has spent a hurried few minutes flicking through a newspaper before they came in.

Consume all kinds of media – broadsheets, tabloids, high-brow, low brow, online, broadcast and print. It’s impossible to advise a client or think up a brilliant campaign without having a very clear sense of what will work as a story. You’ll need to know the media so well you instinctively know what will make a good story, and how different publications and journalists will cover it. Diversifying your knowledge into a range of areas has its advantages outside of work too; you will find your pub quiz ability improves immeasurably!

Let your personality show

When you go to an interview remember to be as relaxed as you can and let your personality shine through.  Show a genuine interest in the agency and person interviewing you. We all look to work with people we like and can get along with, so give examples of you being a team player, and be as open and warm as you can. In a small team like ours (there are 9 of us at the moment), it is important that everyone gels and trusts each other. Interviewers will always be thinking about how you would fit in with their team so be aware your interviewer is interviewing you for personal as well as professional skills!

Now relax. Smile. And sell yourself as you intend to sell in a story.



Meet Stand Agency’s … Jo Jacobson

Posted by Nyree

Joanna Jacobson


We love a good Q&A – so much so that we’ve created our own Stand set. Check out our soon-to-be long-running (and, who knows, maybe even copyrighted) extended questions and ‘quick-fire faves’. This week we have our lovely Consultant Jo Jacobson in the hot seat.

How and why did you get involved in PR?

At university I took courses in radio and TV and was really keen on the production side. My first job out of university was an administration role in the Welsh Assembly Government and after a year of receiving rejection letters to make the tea on TV sets I decided to contact the press office there. I was extremely fortunate to find they were looking for a press officer to start immediately on an interim basis. I had been doing some work launching a radio station at the university which they felt had given me some good experience. Once I was in I loved the work and consequently stayed working in PR from then on.

What keeps you working for Stand Agency?

It is a great environment in the Stand office: lots of hard work, good humour and collaborative working. I love how everyone bounces ideas off each other and appreciates the mutual support.

In another life, what profession other than yours would you have attempted?

I considered being a radio presenter for a while and got accepted as a freelance to one station before I got my first job as a press officer. Maybe in another life I am a radio 1 DJ!

What do you enjoy doing beyond the walls of Stand Towers?

You will often find me out socialising with friends but in a bid to reign in the late nights I have been doing some yoga and have just completed a web design course. I’m mulling over a Spanish course next but it is yet to happen….

What pearls of wisdom can you impart to those embarking on a career in PR?

Getting experience is obviously key, so offering to support work in charities etc. can be a good way of getting on the ladder. It is important to make good contacts within the business, so networking where you can is a good way of finding out about new roles. Also keep up with the news and the latest social media.

Jo’s S.T.A.N.D quick-fire faves:

Song – Family Affair, Mary J Blige (Sorry Blair)

Taste – Pasta / Cheese

Animal – Puppy

Noise – Rain on a window (when I’m warm inside!)

Drink – Red Wine

Jo Jacobson, it’s been a pleasure. Bring on the Spanish…


It’s date time at Stand Agency

Posted by Nyree








By Nikki Peters

At Stand Agency, talk has turned to romance. Don’t worry, we aren’t planning on sharing dating tips or lamenting “the one that got away”. We thought we would combine our chat about love lives with a media spin.

Not unlike most PR agencies, one of the first things we do each morning is have a good rummage through the news to see who is saying what, when, where and how. Devouring the papers one morning we got thinking – which news source would we date and why? Do feel free to join in and share your favourites too. Would you have a showbiz romance with dinner at The Ritz and holidays to St Tropez with the Daily Mail? Or would you prefer a date full of debates and long holidays with The Guardian?

Molly, our ever enthusiastic intern, would “for shizzle” choose to date the i paper, as would our glamorous MD Laura. Tough competition here ladies.  Molly explains that with the i paper the dinner-table-chat would be engagingly broad-ranging, and would include some random titbits that she’d then pass on as fun facts of her own to friends at a later stage. The i would be opinionated, dry, funny and left-handed.  She says, “I’ve never dated a lefty (in the writing-with-that-hand sense.) And he’d be a great kisser for good measure.”

Laura on the other hand has different motives for her choice of date. She believes the i paper would offer a broad range of conversation without being a bore on any one topic (yawn). Laura is looking for a date that has the knack of seeing other points of view, without necessarily agreeing with them.  She thinks the i would be an interesting and entertaining date but there is one caveat.  Laura insists “they would probably need to brush up their celeb gossip for me to agree to see them again, after all there is only so much news you can discuss before the talk leads to a more light hearted subject!”

On a similar theme, our resident Scottish politics and football guru, Account Manager Blair would like to date the Independent. Why, I hear you ask? “It’s concise, intellectual, well-balanced and aesthetically pleasing.” Just like his description.

Ultra-cool (she’ll hate that description- on account of her coolness!) Associate Director Fran would like to date National Geographic. How cultured! She thinks it would be “adventurous, occasionally outspoken with a love of travel and a brilliant eye for a photo.” I can see the artistic holiday snaps of the date now in one of Fran’s favourite places, South America.

Calm, collected and juggler of all tasks Director Rebecca would date the New Statesman. Rebecca explains her choice. “It’s recently rejuvenated because they worked out that women might actually be interested in politics and signed up lots of feminist and female writers”. Rebecca also values that her date has reached out into new media.  She thinks the date would go well because they would never be short of a viewpoint, they are interested in the same things and they wouldn’t mind if she checked Twitter while they were having a drink together.

Pub loving Account Director Penny has decided that she may be a slight commitment phobe as she has only managed to narrow it down to two choices, which she says is better than her real-life dating situation. The first is thedailymash.com, of course! She thinks it would guarantee laughter, an essential component of any date. Penny likes people who know what’s happening in the world, but can’t cope with anyone who takes themselves too seriously. With its surreal and satirical take on the news stories of the day, the mash could certainly never be accused of that. Her second date would be with Time Out, because she loves London, and loves doing stuff. There would be no problems coming up with pubs to meet in, restaurants to eat in, or exhibitions to visit.

Our travel loving and crisis calming consultant Jo Jacobson would like to head on a date with the BBC News website. She lays down her reasoning as such: “I know where I stand, it’s uncomplicated and straight-forward. We won’t have any arguments, just balanced debates that will be balanced. I will get regular updates on how the date is going and I won’t have to guess if they will call me.” I feel like I would enjoy meeting up with Jo and the BBC for some honest advice when I need to be calmed. Good choice.

Marvellously creative consultant Jo Rosenblatt would like to date The Sunday Times; a big hulk of a newspaper for a lazy weekend sounds lovely. Jo says is has “a bit of substance, a bit of style and is one paper that you can rely on to entertain for a good few hours along with a cup of coffee and a full English.” Perhaps on a first date, The Sunday Times could wow Jo in some of the classier breakfast cafes of North London.

Now, my choice would be the Evening Standard. A paper that starts late in the day, the date would be an after work affair – one where you can have a cocktail or two… It’s free, easily accessible (i.e thrust into your hand) and covers all topics with tiny nuggets of news. What’s not to love? Our date will be in some of the new and exciting bars and restaurants in London and I can’t wait!


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.