Welcome to Wrexham is #PRgoals

23rd April 2024 by Kate Logan

It’s the football story that continues to enthral us.

The first two series of ‘Welcome to Wrexham’ have been fascinating to watch. And series three is in no doubt now as Wrexham has just secured promotion to League One – its second promotion in as many seasons.

It’s also scored priceless positive PR for a football club that’s been rescued by its bootstraps more than once.

If you’re not familiar with the Disney+ documentary, it’s a behind the scenes look at the Hollywood takeover of Welsh non-league club Wrexham AFC.

Led by American actor Robert McElhenney, who somehow managed to persuade Deadpool himself, Ryan Reynolds, a Canadian, to become his business partner, the programme, so far, follows their first two seasons as owners.

While still learning the offside rule and, perhaps most importantly, what football means to the fans in this passionate north east corner of Wales, the pair slowly begin to appreciate the realities of running a football club.

It’s a story like no other. While American takeovers and documentaries on streaming channels are nothing new to the Premier League, at this level (Wrexham were initially playing in the fifth tier), they are both highly unusual. 

The documentary delves into the new owners’ motivation, day to day tribulations, fan dedication, and local fascination around what has been a bizarre but thrilling event in football history.

It also covers their investment across the club, including in the women’s team, who have also deservedly received promotion to the Adran Premier, the top tier of Welsh women’s football.

Satisfying our need to see the headlining new owners, the film crew also takes us on a journey with the fans, like The Turf landlord Wayne Jones and likeable yet outspoken painter and decorator Shaun. For fans like Wayne and Shaun the football club really is life. Shaun hates his job and, when we first meet him, has recently split with his partner, yet football gives him hope, every weekend. And while too often in the past that hope led to disappointment, it occasionally leads to unbridled, intoxicating joy. It’s a familiar rush that keeps sports fans coming back for more every week, and it’s captured eloquently in the series by Wrexham’s loyal supporters.

This takeover had been about the best PR it’s possible to get for a football club. But there’s a bigger and even more heart-warming story that Welcome to Wrexham brought into focus. It’s put real people in the spotlight, and we’ve all fallen a bit in love with this story, and their stories. This town and its community are rightly central to the tale and the global interest has given the local economy a huge boost.

And it seems the only way is up for Wrexham. So far, we’ve watched the new owners navigate their first two seasons, triumphantly culminating in the team’s epic promotion to League Two. No mean feat after languishing in the National League for 15 seasons.

Wrexham is back on the football map and, having started my journalism career in the town (which received city status in 2022 too), I couldn’t be happier. I once witnessed a crucial victory in the club’s history, having covered the Court of Appeal case in London that was featured in the “Hamilton” episode of the documentary as a young reporter at the Wrexham Leader. While that made headline news at the time, it still felt the club was battling for all its worth. This feels so different. Wrexham AFC is on the up and we’re all invited along for the ride.

I’ve found myself checking Wrexham’s scores and the League One table every week this past season and I’d wager I’m not the only one. Wouldn’t it be the story of the century if a future series of Welcome to Wrexham featured their promotion to the Premier League? Now that really would be priceless.

Photo by Paul Schnürle on Unsplash

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Why planning a marketing campaign is like planning a holiday

4th April 2024 by Rachael Bruce

It seems holiday season is already upon us. News websites and social media accounts are full of travel stories and reminders about when to renew your passport. You’re lucky if one in four emails doesn’t generate an out of office autoreply advising that the person you’re trying to contact is on holiday.

When it comes to planning a marketing campaign, there are in fact parallels with planning a holiday.  Read on to find out why.

  1. Budget: Knowing how much you have to spend is important and can help focus ideas. If you’re budget is more weekend in Blackpool than a five-star all-inclusive trip to the Bahamas, you’ll need to plan accordingly. Low-fi social media content filmed and edited on a phone could provide a cost-effective alternative to enlisting a production crew to script, film and edit your owned content. With the right message and content, you may even be able to secure earned media coverage from your customers, journalists or influencers.
  2. Research: Checking what the weather is like where and when you want to travel, along with reviews of hotels and other facilities in that area are important when thinking of booking a holiday. Similarly, knowing your audience and how best to reach them is crucial to a successful marketing campaign.
  3. Packing:  Packing your suitcase for holiday is like preparing your assets for a successful marketing campaign. It doesn’t matter if your suitcase is ready weeks or minutes before it’s time to leave, what matters is what’s inside. For a well-executed marketing campaign, you’ll need a mix of assets for different media channels. This may be as simple as reformatting for different platforms or it could be changing the tone and creative completely to target different demographics.It’s important that your assets are on brand and that every detail is correct before you go live with your campaign, just as you’d check you have your passport and it’s in date before heading to the airport.
  4. Timing:  There are two types of traveller – those who arrive at the airport hours ahead of their flight time to allow for delays at security, duty free shopping and people watching and those who race through the terminal and arrive at the gate just as it closes.  Some brands are still working on their summer 2024 campaigns, while others are already planning for Christmas and beyond. There is no right or wrong time. The advantage of the digital age is that while deadlines still exist and can help focus efforts, we’re not as tied to timing as we were when print was the primary medium. Social media channels will even recommend the best time to post based on when your audience is active.

If you need some help planning your next marketing campaign, think of us like a travel agent. Yes you could plan your next trip yourself, booking everything from travel and accommodation to excursions direct, but why not leave it to the experts. Our services include press release and copywriting, social media management, event planning and more. Contact us to find out how we can help.

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Cause celeb – adding star quality to campaigning

24th August 2023 by Rachael Bruce

THE power of celebrity is much more than drawing crowds to theatres and cinemas or helping to market a product.

Big names in film, TV, music and sport are using their star status for good.

From free school meals to animal rights and gender equality, with a celebrity championing your cause you can reach the masses.

Often, the famous faces are simply lending their name to a grassroots campaign that resonates with their personal values and sharing content to help inspire others.

This free publicity is worth much more than the price of a sponsored or boosted post to those causes as it helps them reach those they wouldn’t otherwise and at little or no cost to either party.

Last year, Marcus Rashford’s campaign for free school meals was named the campaign of the decade.

The UN has long embraced the power of celebrity to support its campaigns. Former Harry Potter star Emma Watson advocates gender equality and fronted the UN’s HeForShe campaign.

In December, after more than 20 years in the role, actress Angelina Jolie stepped down from working with the UN Refugee Agency to work with organisations led by people most directly affected by conflict.

Joanna Lumley has lent her name to various causes including helping Gurkhas who retired before 1997 win the right to settle in the UK and calling for a stop to the clearance of unexploded ordnance damaging marine life.

Camp Beagle is the longest running animal rights protest camp in history and has embraced the power of celebrity at various levels. Last year, singer Will Young joined their campaign when he chained himself to the gates of a breeding facility, while more recently protestors were joined by Babe Station stars wearing bikinis.

But it’s the recent backing of actor Tom Hardy that’s made a significant difference to their fight for animal rights.

Within 24 hours of him sharing a link on Instagram to a petition to end animals being used or toxicity testing around 20,000 signatures were added. The star continued to push the message out to his nine million Instagram followers, thanking them for their supporting and encouraging more people to sign, even after the 100,000 target was reached.

This week saw the launch of Equity’s “Green Rider” campaign to cut the environmental impact of celebrity riders. Dubbed the ‘no jet’ set by the Guardian, it’s received the backing of more than 100 actors, including Gemma Arterton, David Harewood and Bill Nighy. The idea is that instead of asking for single colour sweets or a private jet, contracts should focus on “positive influence” and “not climate-damaging perks”.

For brands, unless a star uses their product, receiving a celebrity endorsement free of charge is unlikely. As with personal appearance fees, the cost of a sponsored post is likely to increase with the star’s status.

Influencers or micro-influencers are a great lower cost alternative to the traditional icons when it comes to promoting your business. Better still, your genuine customers who have real life experience of your product or service, are perfectly placed to spread the word.

If your marketing campaign is in need of some star treatment, contact us .

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Why it’s time to take your comms back to basics

29th June 2023 by Rachael Bruce

When it comes to developing a communications strategy, there are no hard rules and it’s not a case of one-size-fits-all. The sheer volume of different channels now available to communicate with your business, your peers, existing and potential customers, plus the media can seem overwhelming. With society increasingly time poor, good communication is key to delivering your brand’s message.

Read our guide to improving your communication.

  1. Keep it real and explain in simple terms. The quote ‘if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough’ is often attributed to Albert Einstein. Ensuring your message is easy to understand is important. Complicated sentences should be avoided. Break it down so it’s easy to digest. A listicle is a great way to organise the points you want to convey.
  • Go back to basics. Explain why something is a good idea rather than the intricacies of your industry. Avoid jargon as it may confuse the lay reader. Instead use phrases that are more widely understood.
  • Cause and effect. Be transparent and explain why you’re doing something. People want to know how something will affect them – how will they benefit, what will it cost them or how they will save.
  • Be solutions focused. Highlight how you’re overcoming an issue or addressing a need. Make technical challenges and, details of any solutions, easy for consumers to understand.
  • Tell a story that resonates. When I was a journalism student at the University of Central Lancashire, a lecturer instructed us to think about how we’d tell our mates at the pub about something when we were writing a news story. The same principle can be applied to writing media releases or social media posts.
  • Back up your claims. Use statistics to support your case. This could include a consumer survey you’ve commissioned or the results of your product being tested.
  • Know your audience. Adapt your tone and choice of language depending on who you’re communicating with, the medium you’re using and the message you’re sharing.
  • Photography and videography. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million. Still and moving images, either real or virtual reality, help illustrate what you’re trying to explain and are a great visual aid. Adding captions to photography or videography can reinforce your messaging, particularly on social media.
  • Speak up. Have people who are prepared to stand up and speak out on behalf of your business. While the written word can be carefully considered and proofread, sometimes it’s good to talk. Having briefing notes before picking up the phone or dialling into a video call will help keep you on brand and on message.

If you need support in developing a communications strategy, including social media along with traditional media, contact us to find out how we can help.

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What makes a good press release?

11th April 2023 by Natalie Tomlinson

Writing a press release may seem like a simple task but, with today’s mix of news sites, online magazines, blogs, hyperlocal websites and printed press, it can be difficult to get your pitch just right.

Working in PR, we’ve learnt a few things along the way…

  • First and foremost, what is it you want to say? And what is the most interesting angle of your story? Balancing these is key to a successful media release.
  • Don’t forget to include the six ‘Ws’ in your write up… who, what, where, why, when and how.
  • Stay relevant. Don’t send out a press release with places to visit over the Easter break – after the Easter break has finished. Or a release about a shop launch that happened three weeks ago. A press release should be as up to date as possible and ideally issued in advance, if your news is time sensitive. You can always add an embargo if you would like it to be published after a certain date.
  • Keep it simple. A well written, informative press release is music to every journalist’s ears. Ensure your writing is free from spelling mistakes, grammatical errors (like capped up letters when not needed) and jargon. Get straight to the point. Journalists don’t have the time to read through a three-page press release. Include the most relevant information first as you have a good chance of the rest being cut.
  • Pick a perfect picture. A good press release can be transformed into a great one with eye-catching photography. No blurred or dark images and avoid big group shots with no one looking at the camera – they will not be used. We always advise our clients to invest in a good photographer. 
  • Choose your audience. We work across all industries, but we wouldn’t send an accounting article to a construction industry magazine. Pull together a list of publications and carefully decide where you want to send your press release.

Which follows on nicely to… contacts. Here at Active PR, we are a team of former journalists. We have excellent contacts at media outlets across the country. We work to maintain two-way relationships and always strive to provide the right stories at the right time.  

If you want an experienced team to create professional press releases for your brand, we can help you, just get in touch!

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A guide to: handling media enquiries

9th February 2023 by Kate Logan

The phone rings, or your email pings, and it’s a journalist. Perhaps it’s a call you’ve been dreading or it comes unexpectedly, but no business is immune to media enquiries. And, whether you employ an in-house press office team, an external PR agency or handle questions from the press yourself, they aren’t usually something you can ignore.

Unfortunately, most incoming enquiries from journalists tend to be focussed on negative issues. Rarely do members of the media come to you directly to extol the achievements of your firm – more’s the pity.

When a reporter does come a calling, your management team will be faced with the perennial question – to comment or not to comment?

Our advice generally is that providing a spokesperson or comment, however brief, is better than saying nothing, although there are a few exceptions, which we’ll address later.

Providing a quote, from a named senior employee, shows readers or viewers your company cares about the issues raised, you are committed to taking relevant action and, if an error has been made, you are responsible enough to acknowledge or apologise and will take steps to do better.

If the enquiry comes from broadcast media, a written comment may still be appropriate, unless you have a highly experienced, media-trained spokesperson to handle on-mic or on-camera interviews.

There are generally two sides to every story. While you may feel you have done little wrong, the complainants or wider public may still feel aggrieved. Acknowledging that will often go a long way to forging positive future relationships, both with the media and their audiences.

We also understand that you would rather not have some conversations in a public arena. However, if a journalist feels they have a story, they are likely to run with it whether you accept the opportunity to put your side across or not. A negative article with a “no comment” attributed to your firm, could cause more reputational damage.

Some exceptions to the “always comment” rule:

  • When commenting would impact on legal proceeding and your lawyer advises against it. In this scenario you may be able to offer a comment from an unnamed spokesperson to say you are unable to comment while legal proceedings are underway.
  • When the query is not yours to answer. Journalists can occasionally get it wrong or have been given the wrong information, for example they may confuse your company with another or the responsibility for the issue may lie with another organisation. In these cases, try to be open with your communication to avoid being pulled into a story that should not involve you.
  • When the reporter is ‘fishing’ for information or you sense there is no story without you providing the details requested. In these cases, you can weigh up what facts or opinion, if any, you are happy to place in the public domain and decide whether the timing it right to do this. You may find you can turn the story to your advantage or use this as an opportunity to build a relationship with the journalist and give them a story when you are ready to do so.

Things to remember when you receive a press enquiry:

  • Journalists are trained professionals and usually very lovely people (we should know, the team at Active PR were all once on ‘the other side’). Treat them as you would treat any professional. Don’t assume they are out to cause you reputational damage.
  • Always be courteous and friendly. Focus on building a relationship as that journalist could help you with positive PR in the future.  
  • Ask them some questions too. Find out what they know, who they have spoken to, who else they plan to speak to, the angle they are pursuing and their deadline for a response.
  • PR is not about spin. Don’t mis-represent facts and be open, honest and heartfelt in any comment you provide.
  • Take the action you say you will. If your comment pledges a course of action, such as an investigation or change of procedure, make sure these are followed through on. There’s nothing worse than a follow up enquiry in a few weeks’ time highlighting broken promises.

While media scrutiny is rarely welcomed, it doesn’t have to be feared. Following this advice, you should be able to mitigate negative publicity successfully and move forward. If you would like support with your media relations, we have the expertise you need to navigate press enquiries, generate positive PR and support your business as if we were members of your own team.

Why not give us a call today on 0151 236 2120 or email beinspired@activepr.co.uk to find out how we could help.

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