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

28
Aug
Nyree

A Scot in London: an introduction

Posted by Nyree

By Blair Grant

As the sunlight gleaming off the River Clyde slipped into the distance with my train pulling out of Glasgow Central, I knew there was no turning back.  I was finally moving to London.

 

Funnily enough, any of the nervousness which was certainly there as my taxi drove past my now old flat and the BBC Scotland building disappeared as I took my seat in carriage B, only to be replaced with excitement.

 

I settled into the journey, reading with great interest the New Statesman’s fantastic London edition, as the woman opposite unknowingly lessened my mood by slurping loudly from a bottle of cheap white wine.  I politely refused as she offered me a swig from the no doubt warm bottle, grunting: “I don’t have any glasses”.

 

We’ll skip my arrival, the stress of trying to find an electrical fan (who would have thought it so hard?) and more importantly a flat – note to self for future reference: do not attempt to fit nine flat viewings in during one day – and go straight into my first day here at Stand Agency.

 

Now everyone knows you have to make a good first impression when starting a new job.  Clean shaven, the costume de rigueur comprising a sharp suit, crisp shirt and polished shoes and above all else, getting into the office early.

 

I have friends in London and have visited many times, however, crucially I have never been on a ‘rush hour’ train.  On Monday morning I lay awake at 5.30am and mentally prepared myself.  I envisaged extricating myself from the mass of Metropolitan Line bodies with a mixture of guile and force.  I was ready. I needn’t have bothered.

 

Arriving at Finchley Road tube station it gradually dawned on me that I was going to be early for work. Too early.  I read my copy of City A.M. and found a nice cafe to while away the hours – yes hours – until I was supposed to be in work. It was an experience, to say the least.

 

But I’m here now, I have a flat and I have my electrical fan and I’m absolutely loving working and living in London, something I’m sure those reading will learn more about during the coming months.  My background is a political one with understandable interest in the political landscape of Scotland and while far from being an aficionado, I’m sure you’ll hear all about that, too.  Referendum debate, anyone?  Watch this space.

 

 

21
Aug
Nyree

Is there any reality left in reality TV?

Posted by Nyree

By Nikki Peters

As the viewing figures for X Factor saw a drastic drop from 11 to 8.1 million for the first show of this series, many speculated that the demand for reality TV has dried up. Maybe it is heading that way but the question on my mind whilst watching X Factor auditionee Zoe Alexander outburst on Saturday night’s show was where’s the reality gone in this particular reality show?

The Oxford Dictionary’s definition of Reality (noun) provides some clues to what we should be seeing when it comes to reality TV:

  • the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them
  • a thing that is actually experienced or seen, especially when this is grim or problematic
  • a thing that exists in fact, having previously only existed in one’s mind
  • the quality of being lifelike or resembling an original

In case you had better things to do on Saturday night, here’s a brief re-cap on how this current debate started… Zoe Alexander turned on the X Factor judges when they gave her four resounding “it’s a no from me”’s because she showed no originality and was too much like Pink.  Her problem, the production team had told her to replace her choice with a Pink song.  Now the bleeped out outburst definitely increased the drama but I am questioning whether it really did X Factor the good they thought the drama and extra column inches might bring?  Viewers definitely switched off but the longer term impact comes from people like me saying “hang on, don’t think I am stupid enough to think this is real, give me more credit than that.”

 

Reality TV as we know it hit our screens in 2000 with Big Brother and the contestants were all real, sometimes boring, people. This concept endeared the British public who tuned in to watch the natural personalities develop and interact in the house. This honest approach to reality TV continued through Pop Idol, X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and many more.

 

There was, however, a turning point for reality TV when producers started making changes to the format. There are pre-audition auditions for contestants to weed out the “uninteresting” and only broadcast the good, the bad and the ugly to viewers. Some contestants were followed to their homes by camera crews piecing together their personal stories to be used at later stages in the competition. Finally there is the division of air time for contestants. When you vote to save contestants how will someone you have seen a 30 second clip of fare against their rival whose family you feel you know inside out?

 

The Truman Show leaps to mind at this point. Where reality was created for Jim Carrey’s character and edited so he experienced what television companies believed he should. I can’t help but feel like this when watching some reality TV and I’m not convinced that fiction is more interesting than fact. I think the reality was what made us tune in and now that has gone, we have switched off, or better still, rented a film – remember that…?

 

 

21
Aug
Nyree

Stand Agency wins Chartered Management Institute brief

Posted by Nyree

 

The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has chosen to work with Stand Agency on its latest project after a three-way pitch.

 

Stand Agency will promote the CMI Management Book of the Year competition which, backed by the British Library, celebrates the country’s finest business and management books. The competition this year has already attracted entries from high profile names including: Former Tesco CEO, Sir Terry Leahy; Financial Times columnist, Mrs Moneypenny; and Anders Dahlvig, the former CEO of IKEA.

 

Piers Cain, Head of Knowledge Management at CMI said:

 

“We’re delighted to be working with Stand Agency on the CMI Management Book of the Year competition.  They brought a fresh approach to the competition and impressed us in the pitch with their understanding of our business and willingness to go beyond our initial brief.”

 

Laura Oliphant, Managing Director of Stand Agency said:

 

“We’re really excited to be working with CMI and the British Library.  They are fantastic organisations and the Management Book of the Year looks set to be a huge success.

 

“Our approach to the brief centred on using the authors and content of the books to generate debate and discussion about management and leadership in the UK.  We can’t wait to get started.”

 

The CMI Management Book of the Year has previously been promoted by Kindred as part of their retained contract with CMI.

15
Aug
Laura Oliphant

More than volunteering

Posted by Laura Oliphant

By Laura Oliphant

Along with thousands of other Games Makers I recently finished my spell volunteering for the London 2012 Olympics.  Well before we received our public thanks at the closing ceremony and the personal thanks through emails from the likes of Lord Coe and the First Lady, pin badges and a special edition relay baton, I completed nine long shifts whilst still juggling the day (and home!) job.

 

You’ll be relieved to know I have no plans to use this blog to gather sympathy for my long hours or get more thanks for being a Games Maker.  Instead I wanted to share my view on how I think London2012 recruited and throughout the Games energised 70,000 volunteers to be the positive face of the Olympics, and how we can apply some of this Games Maker magic in our day job as communicators.  Whilst most of our clients won’t be asking people to get involved in the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’, engaging big groups of people is part of our everyday challenge.

 

I became a Games Maker to use my professional skills and experience to help ensure the world’s media got a professional and efficient service, hopefully resulting in positive headlines for London2012.  However as I got into the role it became less about me and more about feeling part of a powerful movement.  It gave me a new confidence – I talked to strangers and they talked to me.  I felt proud to wear a (far from flattering) uniform and flash my accreditation (and pin badge collection) in public.  I think I showed a different me and after hearing another volunteer sing Happy and You Know It over a tannoy at the Olympic Park to keep the crowd entertained, I think others did too.  When I hung up my uniform for the last time, something was missing, I’d lost a bit of the purpose in my step and all too soon I started to look down when I passed people on the street rather than greeting them with a smile.

 

So back to the point of this blog…  What can we learn from the Games Maker programme when developing campaigns focused on engaging big groups of people?  The obvious thing is to try and make your target audience (whether volunteers or groups of professionals) feel part of united group, a collective. Give that collective a name or identifiable brand and develop ways of ensuring they recognise and identify with each other (thankfully I’m not recommending a purple and red uniform here).  We know it is vital to communicate with audiences regularly, but vary the way you position and deliver that message.  As a Games Maker I was thanked every day but how, when and by whom was always different.  It got my attention and made me feel valued.  Finally, remind your target audience of the difference they’re making.  Whether it’s through a smile, a song or waving a pink hand like many did at the Olympics, or through the more traditional ways we can volunteer or provide our support to causes.

 

Now back to my post Olympic therapy – watching all 16 days of action I missed on catch-up whilst wearing my Games Maker uniform.

 

 

27
Jul
Francesca Rivett-Carnac

How do you behave when you know no one is watching?

Posted by Francesca Rivett-Carnac

By Rebecca McLeod

And does it matter? That’s just one of the questions we’ve been thinking about at Stand Towers this week.

It all started with 21 bottles of bubbly which went missing before our party (yes we know, serious stuff!). The usually excellent Ocado customer service team seemed pretty un-phased when we phoned to complain… after all what could they do to remedy the situation? Nothing it would seem!

But as soon as we tweeted about our distress, we were showered with money-off vouchers and the experience became very different.

So is it just about making your complaint more public?  Is using Twitter to complain the 2012 equivalent of phoning Anne Robinson’s Watchdog?

Or is it more about who is responding to your complaint and the power they wield?

Well first of all, it’s a problem if companies are treating customers differently based on which method they chose to lodge their complaints.   Yes social media brings customers and brands much closer together, which is a great thing.  But companies need to look at how they can replicate this closeness via other channels.

It seems to us at Stand Agency that it all comes back to a good old-fashioned ‘joined-up approach’.  We all know PR works best when it’s properly integrated into a business and works with all the other business functions: where the organisation lives up to the comms and the comms lives up to the organisation.

But until this joined-up model is used everywhere, maybe the best judge of a company (or a person for that matter) is still how they behave when they know no one is watching!

 

 

17
Jul
Francesca Rivett-Carnac

Too little, too late

Posted by Francesca Rivett-Carnac

By Laura Oliphant

When it comes to talking about the G4S Olympic security bungle, the term “too little too late” springs to mind.  Too few security staff, emerging too close to the Olympic start date.  But as communications experts, there’s another “too little, too late” we’re interested in.  No public comment and assurance until days after the shortfall became public.

Whilst I don’t agree with Jeremy Hunt’s view that a failure to meet commitments with an event of this size is “completely normal”, I accept that even with the best planning, things do go wrong.  But, as every media training session and textbook recommends, when things do go wrong, a timely, accurate and assuring response is essential.  From what I’ve seen, I don’t think G4S (who is incidentally recruiting for a PR Manager) and the Olympic team kept their media training handout.

When quizzed by PR Week, G4S’s PR team said CE Nick Buckles was “too busy getting the delivery right to talk to the press”.  But we’d argue assuring the public in the UK and all those travelling to the Olympics from overseas about the state of our Olympic security is getting the delivery right.  It was heading towards the weekend when Buckles, Hunt and eventually Lord Coe started to respond to media and public demand and went public with their views on the security situation.  But during the previous 3-4 days the story had appeared in every paper/ news site, across the twittersphere and had been the topic of many a conversation at the work water cooler.  The debate was fuelled by the families and supporters of service men and women understandably peeved that leave was being cancelled to meet the shortfall.

Whilst media interviews and public apologies wouldn’t have increased the number of security staff G4S could supply, there’s an argument that their reputation, public image and share price would have fared a bit better.  I also suspect the story wouldn’t have rumbled on quite so long, risking more damage to an already fragile perception of the Olympic organisation.

That said, I am a huge Olympic supporter, and as a Games Maker I’ll be playing my part in being timely, accurate and assuring in my comments to the world’s media…

 

11
Jul
Francesca Rivett-Carnac

Is sex really the way to sell the Olympics?

Posted by Francesca Rivett-Carnac

By Rebecca McLeod

We’ve all seen (and discussed) the images.  That picture of the beach volleyball team in Parliament Square reminding us all about busy roads during Olympic season(!), Victoria Pendleton in various states of dress and undress in Esquire, Zara Dampney’s naked leap for GQ Magazine… I could go on…

But what does it all mean?  And what are we supposed to think?

The PR person in me is applauding the great coverage in magazines and media that wouldn’t traditionally cover the Olympics. Not to mention the brilliance of the link between beach volleyball players ‘stopping traffic’ and Olympic road safety.

Part of me agrees with Sarah Ditum who points out that naked athletes make better pin-ups than ‘naturally skinny’ celebs in her article for The Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’ today.

But a large part of me just feels a bit ‘sad inside’ about it all.  And yes, I’ll admit it… in some ways let down.

I mean, do we really need the nakedness?

Olympic fever is starting to sweep the nation after all.  The torch relay seems to be a hit everywhere it goes (and it’s been everywhere), Team GB is making daily headlines with team selections and athletes picking up their kit… so what’s with the naked thing?

It’s not just the female athletes doing it… the men have got stuck in too. The Olympic hockey team got their kit off for a charity recently (garnering admiring looks in our office).  And male and female sports stars have been pin ups for years in one guise or another.

I think if I’m honest, the thing that’s making me ‘sad inside’ is that this is the Olympics.  Of all sporting events, surely the Olympics should attempt to project itself as wholesome? Isn’t the Olympic dream all about things like ‘taking part’ and amazing feats of human endurance and skill?

Maybe it’s just me, but I would rather Team GB were remembered for their sporting achievements at London 2012, rather than their toned and bronzed bodies. That’s one part of the Olympic dream I would like to keep alive.

 

 

 

 

 

03
Jul
Nyree

AMs/ADs – we’re recruiting

Posted by Nyree

It only seems like yesterday that we launched and already we’re looking to grow our Stand Agency family. If you’re a phenomenal Account Manager/Director or know of one then we want to hear from you.

You’ll be an integral part of our team, developing and managing clients and campaigns with little senior input. You’ll be able to offer tactical consultancy and advice whilst using your excellent media relations skills to achieve outstanding press coverage. You’ll take a strategic view of account planning and be excellent at managing budgets. A writing whizz, you’ll be able to turn your hand to press releases, web, newsletter or feature copy. You’ll inspire and nurture junior team members with the responsibility of direct line reports. You’ll be educated at least to degree level with 4 – 7 years’ related experience and proficient in Microsoft Office and social media tools.

In return for your motivation, determination and outright fabulousness, Stand Agency offers a welcoming and supportive environment in which to develop your career. We’ll help you fine tune and grow your skillset, give you challenging and stimulating projects, and make you a part of our success story.

For a full job spec or to send in your CV, contact francesca@standagency.com

26
Jun
Nyree

A first time for everything

Posted by Nyree

Hello and welcome. If you’re exploring the world of Stand Agency, you’ve just landed on Standpoint, our blog, and you’re in the process of reading our first ever post!

First posts are always exciting. They’re a chance to shape your identity and give a hint of the personalities behind the business. We thought you might like to know what we’ve got in store over the coming weeks and months, so we’re going to tell you what and what not to expect from Standpoint so hopefully you’ll want to come back again and again to read what we have to say.

Standpoint will be a heady mix of the interesting and topical, with the occasional frivolous post thrown in for good measure. This isn’t the place to find regurgitations of the latest news or opinions from the loudest commentators, and it won’t be a spot for industry analysis. This is a stage for open and honest discussion on real issues that are relevant to you, our clients and the team at Stand Agency.

Whether it’s our take on boosting British business or baking perfect cupcakes (we mentioned frivolous), you’ll be reading our opinions.

We’ll try our very best not to indulge in any shameless self-promotion, but if we have some fantastic news to share, you’ll probably read about it here.

Finally, Standpoint isn’t just about us. We’d love to hear your opinions too, so feel free to let us know if you agree, disagree or simply have an amazing cake recipe to share.