Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Strong brand is ‘simples’

Christmas shopping can really highlight the success of marketing campaigns and leading brands in the market. A quick look through shops can really tell you how successful a company’s marketing campaign has been and comparethemarket.com has not failed to deliver. The face of the campaign, Aleksandr Orlov is now a cuddly toy and the plucky meerkat even has his own autobiography “A Simples Life, My Life and Times” chronicling the struggles of his family in their quest to compare meerkats not (he would remind us) to ‘find cheap deals on car insurance’.

The mini-film TV adverts have consumers interested in the unfolding story and the latest advert “Streets of Ambitousness” shows the family’s lowly roots comparing muskrats to finally owning their own meerkat comparison shop. The adverts focus on Aleksandr’s attempts to direct people looking for cheap car insurance to comparethemarket.com and for those wishing to compare meerkats to go to comparethemeerkat.com. A site which really exists.

The site comparethemeerkat.com allows users to actually compare meerkats, read Alexsandr’s blog and news stories, download music, bloopers, films, wallpapers, voicemail speeches and ringtones. It also directs people back to comparethemarket.com creating a strong link with the brand.

But why has the campaign been so successful? The play on words (market/meerkat) left many people feeling that the campaign would be a short-lived novelty. However, the brand has continued to thrive being listed as one of the top 30 brands on Twitter by brand content agency Sutro. The ‘Aleksandr_Orlow’ Twitter page has 36,242 followers and is constantly updated. Their Facebook page: ‘Aleksandr Orlow – Founder of Compare the Meerkat’ has 768,698 people liking it and contributing to the page daily. The meerkat brand seems to exist by itself with Aleksandr faithfully advertising the meerkat comparison site on all mediums, while cementing the link with comparethemarket.com in the minds of consumers.

Success lies in the fact that Aleksandr is such an identifiable character in a market that has become saturated. Other market leaders such as Go Compare have followed this trend dropping previous strategies to feature campaigns using an opera singing “Gio Compario” to create a similar association with consumers.

While critics remind us that all this publicity and merchandising may not directly link to an increase in sales, a meerkat inevitably leaves some of us wondering about car insurance.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Tweeting with the best of them


Uniquethinking are huge supporters of Twitter. When used correctly, Twitter has the potential to build a brand and get people interested in ideas and businesses. However, with a 140 character limit and most people tweeting about the snow and what Wagner sang in X Factor, innovation is low. Tim Burton’s latest project, on the other hand, sees Twitter being used in a whole different way.

The director of Edward Scissor Hands, Alice in Wonderland and The Nightmare before Christmas, has used Twitter, as described on the BurtonStory website, for an exercise in Cadavre Exquis or ‘Exquisite Corpse’ to tell the latest tale of unlikely hero, Stainboy.

‘Cadavre Exquis’ is a collective storytelling technique that sees people contributing a line to a story following on from the last line told. Fans can upload their additions by tweeting and using the hash tag #BurtonStory. Fans can also tweet from the website burtonstory.com.

Burton began the exercise with the line:

‘Stainboy using his obvious expertise, was called in to investigate mysterious glowing goo on the gallery floor.’

The experiment will run until the 6th December with the day’s best tweets being added to the story.

Including fans in new endeavours is a great idea and a good way of getting people on board with new projects. Being swept up in the tale, uniquethinking headed over to burtonstory.com to let the inner storyteller out. This was our post:

‘But the goo was not going to let go and Stainboy, being prone to bouts of intuition, was certain he knew why’

Check out burtonstory.com and the twitter page BurtonStory to get busy tweeting.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Uniquethinking ‘likes’ the Queen


No longer is the Queen confined to stamps and coins at the bottom of our purses, she now has a major presence on social networking site Facebook. Already on Twitter, Youtube and Flickr the new profile, Facebook.com/TheBritishMonarchy, allows fans to see videos, photos, the court circular, and the 200 year old authoritative record of engagements.

Quite wisely, the Royal Family have opted to use a business page format rather than a personal profile where users simply click the page’s ‘like’ button to become a fan, rather than a friend, and receive status updates on the Royal Family’s activities. The site is clearly a way to promote the Royal family and with a discreet’ no offensive messages’ warning in the page information box, it is clear that this is not a page for the haters.

Since launching on the 7th November, the page now has almost 300,000 fans including our own Uniquethinkers. We think this is a great way for the Queen to engage with the country, especially as the Royal Family have often suffered from poor perceptions. Though to keep the public’s interest, the page will need to be constantly monitored and updated. It also brings the Royal Family slap bang into the 21st Century, where social networking sites can often make or break a brand or institution. Remember our very ‘festive’ Rage against the Machine Christmas number one?

We at Uniquethinking, are looking forward to our very first ‘Royal’ update.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Bridging the Gap without crowdsourcing?


Gap’s failed efforts to rebrand, following a slump in profits and reduced marketing opportunities, highlighted the increasing power that consumers have in the new digital era.

Last month, the brand briefly ditched its iconic logo for, as critics described it, one more suited to social media sites. The move, designed to diversify Gap’s demographic, majorly backfired as angry fans bombarded the company’s Facebook and Twitter pages calling for the logo to be withdrawn.

While we at uniquethinking constantly monitor our social media sites for feedback, it seems that Gap failed to understand the role that average Joe and Jane now have thanks to the internet. The basic mistake? not involving its clearly loyal fans in the rebranding process. If anything this was a lesson in crowdsourcing.

However, it can’t be ignored that the brand has gone from being largely ignored to being centre stage in a social media frenzy. Conspiracy theorists whisper that this was the true reason behind the rebrand, to simply get Gap out there in time for Christmas.

It’s hard to tell but through such an abysmal reaction, the rebrand may have achieved what Gap set out to achieve in the first place, to give a lagging brand a new lease of life.

Monday, 18 October 2010

An inconvenient PR truth



Email spam messages are, let's face it, very annoying and while the majority of us deal with a few spam messages a day, many journalists and bloggers are inundated with spam emails from PR companies on a daily basis.

While we at Uniquethinking are not guilty of this, it seems that there are hundreds of ‘professionals' out there willing to risk theirs and the industry’s reputation through this ‘hit-and-hope- approach’. Highlighting the frustration with this was Kevin Braddock's, a freelance journalist, response to the situation. He chose to hit back last year by publishing a list of PR professionals who constantly clogged his inbox full of irrelevant articles.

Though this is clearly an impractical approach for everyone, an article in Media Week has shown the steps that the industry has taken to tackle this problem. A charter by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), Public Relations Consultant Association (PRCA), the Investors Relations Society (IRS) and National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has been put together to offer guidelines for professionals working in the industry. This was in response to the growing conflict within the industry and the campaign ‘An Inconvenient PR Truth aiming to reduce PR pollution.

Though those in favour argue that it will improve industry relations and eliminate non-targeted and inaccurate emails, many professionals, including our own uniquethinkers, feel that this charter is common sense and something that even the most junior employee should be adopting.

Clearly not everyone agrees but it seems undeniable that regulating a problem area can only be a good thing and we tentatively look forward to the industry enjoying better media coverage in the future.

Monday, 4 October 2010

A good tweet a day keeps bad PR at bay

There was an interesting article in PR Week recently advising the close management of a brand's presence on social networks.

Here are five things every company should consider.

1. Decide who is responsible
Should the feed be run by an organisation's customer services, marketing or comms department? To find the answer work out the purpose of your Twitter feed. Is it for customer service, publicising special offers, recruitment, for reaching and pitching to journalists, or is it to promote wider brand messages? Gatwick Airport, for example, is currently trialling its Twitter feed as a live customer services tool. Other brands may use their feeds to run competitions, inform people about company news, or give the brand a personality. If the objective for your Twitter stream is customer service, let the customer service experts run it. If it's a broader aim, PR and marketing people are better placed to run more engaging, content-based campaigns.

Whoever runs the feed, both PR and customer service departments need to be involved in the process. The challenge is to have the right monitoring and response systems in place so that customer service issues are quickly passed to customer service professionals. Similarly, PROs should be monitoring for any potential reputational issues that may emerge. A brand's social media presence does not belong to one person, but to a team of people who are often in different departments.

2. Who do you want to be?
Twitter managers need to balance the corporate tone with the language of Twitter. Work out your company's voice, then stick to it. Brands can be serious but still have a human side. It's about knowing who you are. Don't try to act cool if you're not. Some companies deliberately put real people behind their feeds. Ford Motor Company, for example, has appointed Scott Monty to head up social media initiatives. The Ford main feed identifies Monty, and a handful of others who run the feed. They mark their contributions with their initials. It is wise to get more than one person to be the face of the brand to avoid a problem if a high-profile figure leaves. 'It needs to be a process where people share the responsibility. Ford has a team of six who are a mix of product and corporate comms staff.

3. Keep it interesting.
Twitter feed managers should research people's behaviour on the social networking site. Once PROs have learned what people want, they need to make sure the content they produce is engaging. People follow feeds that they find amusing. Every now and again, tweet something that will make your followers smile. It's something they're more likely to retweet than anything else. Other ways to keep a feed fun include posting links, videos and pictures and retweeting your own followers. As Twitter is primarily a sharing tool, a tweet doesn't have to be plain text and should look to include other media. Also seek out funny people to follow. Firstly their material will save you having to draft all your own tweets, and by engaging with people, others will want to listen to you. Also, make sure you respond quickly. Conversation is a two-way process, typically in real time. The expectation in the social web is that companies should respond to their customers in a timely fashion.

4. Link up your social media
Twitter is only one social media platform, so PROs should make sure activity here fits with other social media initiatives.. Whereas it's quite rare, even in the comms industry, for the majority of staff to be on Twitter. Integrating your Twitter account with Facebook increases your audience with no extra effort.

Twitter is great, but it gets better with a content strategy behind it. So content platforms such as blogs, YouTube, Vimeo or Flickr might be needed. This joined-up strategy should help ensure you are not mixing your messages across different sites. 'Authenticity is crucial. Respect relationships with customers. Be candid, and don't spin as you'll be caught out and lose the trust of your customers.

5. Be prepared for the risk
Having a presence on Twitter allows customers, staff, journalists and pressure groups to find a company and make comments about it public. 'Whatever your rationale for setting up a feed, your customers will use it as a means of getting in touch with your organisation. 'Have clear processes for sign-posting conversations to customer service, PR and sales. Examples of Twitter feeds that have become sales channels aren't hard to find.

People who dislike your company are also able to make their comments public. Last year, for example, an anti-Starbucks group hijacked a promotion where contestants had to post pictures of themselves in the brand's cafes. The group was pictured with signs saying: 'I want a union with my latte.' Make sure the comms team is prepared to deal with any problems like this, and that staff from other departments know when to spot potential reputational problems. Also keep a close eye on what your Twitter feed says about your brand.

Today the most shared article on bbc's news pages is about the power of social media too http://chhttp//www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11450923. If your social media strategy isn't managed properly it can have devasting effects on a company.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Railway company reeks with bad publicity

Rail users will surely kick up a stink at the latest travelling news, as reports that a train company has decided to forgo the installation of toilet facilities on their latest trains, has been exposed.

Southern Railway defended its choice by stating the trains would run in areas with short journeys of less than half an hour, even though it was revealed that they are scheduled to run on the Portsmouth to Brighton service, which can take up to an hour-and-a-half.

The main concern is for elderly passengers or those with medical conditions who will have no amenities available until they reach their destination, as well as pregnant women and young children.

On the plus side, travellers are being guaranteed a “refreshed interior” including new seats and flooring, a passenger information system and flexible spaces for wheelchairs and cycles, Who cares if you need the loo?

Would this poor judgement have happened had a PR expert been present around the board table and involved from the beginning, instead of being left to deal with the negative publicity? We think not.

If they had, perhaps this idea would have been a perfect one to go down the pan!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

North East is confirmed as a first-class destination

Durham Cathedral is a popular attraction

Northerners can walk with a skip in their step this week as the North East was acknowledged as a top tourism location, and we think its about time too!

Visitors generated almost £4billion for the region in 2009, new figures show, with Durham Cathedral, Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland and the Tees Valley being mentioned among the most popular areas.

Tourism bosses said holiday-makers spent an additional £117million last year - which is a fantastic accolade for the North - and development agency One North East showed the number of nights spent in the region had risen by 15 per cent since 2003.

Geoff Hodgson, chair of North East Tourism Advisory Board, said: "North East England has a great range of visitor attractions that showcase our history and heritage and make the most of our fantastic coastline and countryside."

This is great news for the economy as more than 65,000 people are employed by the region's tourism board and the last thing we want to see is more job cuts.

With so many of our clients in the tourism industry this is also good news for us.



Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Blair's best-selling move?

Tony Blair with troops

Cynics everywhere must have grinned from ear to ear when the news broke that Tony Blair planned to donate the profits from his memoirs to The Royal British Legion's Battle Back Challenge Centre.

Newspapers across the country have questioned the former prime minister's kind gesture towards the charity and some ask if it is a choice made due to guilt over the 2003 Iraq war. We question it too.

Sales figures of Blair's new autobiography, A Journey, should now boost with the public knowing their money is going towards a good cause and not to fund Mr (and Mrs) Blair's luxurious lifestyle. Although the final amount will depend on sales of the book, it is expected that the Centre will receive a £4.5million advance and subsequent earnings.

One person who will be hoping for a top-seller is Dame Gail Rebuck, the chairman and chief executive of publisher Random House and a close friend of Mr Blair.

Industry insiders predict that the book has a bleak future and it was revealed that 500,000 copies worldwide had to be sold to break even, but the recent publicity will more than likely reverse the situation.

The Blairs are coming out in force to promote the book and will appear as a family in public for the first time since leaving Downing Street in 2007, during which time Tony is thought to have earned around £15-20million from consultancy work and public appearances.

On the plus side, this is excellent news for the British Back Challenge Centre, which will receive some much needed funds and publicity.

The Centre will be available to any member of any armed forces as long as they have been injured while on duty. It will focus on physical rehabilitation through sport and adventure activities with state-of-the-art facilities.

Hit or miss? A tricky one. A hit because the war victims have more support but a miss as they're only in the position because of Blair. And did we need reminding?

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

It's grim up North?

BBC North's Peter Salmon

With the world of business and media becoming more evenly spread across our fair isle, it was only a matter of time before the BBC upped and moved from its South East barracks.

The news of the BBC's move from London to Manchester came in 2007, seeing thousands of new jobs created in Salford's new 'media city', but this week Northerners have been given some confusing news from BBC North director Peter Salmon.

Despite being the creative mind behind BBC North and overseeing the £877 million relocation, Salmon says he has no intention of moving to Salford, instead staying in his Twickenham home and renting an apartment in Salford - at the expense of the license payer.

Salmon explains his son, with wife ex-Coronation Street actress Sarah Lancashire, is at a 'critical time' in his education, and believes the move would be detrimental to the family, who will stay behind in their £1.85 million semi-detached home in South West London.

But others are more sceptical, and are bemused by his wife's decision to stay in the South after spending five years playing lovable blonde - and iconically Northern - Coronation Street character Raquel Watts.

Just five days before Salmon announced he wouldn't be making the move up North, he's been quoted at a press conference saying: "We're really trying to change the relationship fundamentally between ourselves and license fee payers in the North of England."

The majority of Northern viewers already disagree with the license fee, as studies show. Mr Salmon should be careful not to further damage the reputation of the BBC in the North.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Selfridge's major marketing mishap

The window in question displaying one of McQueen's dresses hanging from a wooden structure

Leading department store Selfridges has come under fire this week after a sorely misjudged window display in its Manchester store left fashion fans outraged.

The store presented a recognisable Alexander McQueen dress hanging (yes - hanging) from a spotlight attached to a wooden structure which closely resembled a hangman's gallows.

The designer was sadly found dead in his London home on February 11 this year by his housekeeper. The cause of death was determined as suicide by asphyxiation and hanging.

Selfridges has since issued an apology on its official Twitter page, saying: "We apologise for any offence caused. It was not intentional and the dress has been removed."

A Selfridges spokesperson commented: "It was never intended to be linked to his death. This was a genuine mistake and not to cause controversy or upset."

Whether intentional or not, the display demonstrated a stupendous lack of thought or consideration on Selfridges' part.

Selfridges' windows have become synonymous with the brand (much like Fenwicks' Christmas window displays for our Geordie readers). The store has a history of bold art initiatives when it comes to the window designs, and since 2002 the windows have been photographed by London photographer Andrew Meredith and published in magazines such as Vogue, Dwell, Icon, Creative Review, Design Week, Harper's Bazaar and the New York Times.

As major players in the fashion and retail fields, Selfridges should have taken a step back to consider how appropriate the display really was before installing, and you can't help but wonder who approved it and how many cups of coffee they'd had that day - we would suspect, not enough!

Monday, 28 June 2010

BP boss' big blunder

BP chief Tony Hayward

BP chief executive Tony Hayward has been criticised heavily recently following a number of public relations gaffes that have surely added to his already tarnished reputation.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is now thought to be the largest offshore spill in American history with tens of millions of gallons spilled, and it's still ongoing.

The spill stems from a sea floor 'oil gusher', which occured following a series of explosions on the Deepwater Horizon semi-submersible Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit on April 20th. The accident killed 11 workers and injured 17.

BP chief executive Tony Hayward has done nothing to stem the flow of negativity surrounding this disaster, which has been dubbed by some as 'oilblivion'.

Here are just some of Tony's biggest slip-ups:

  • May 14 - in an interview with the Guardian, Hayward insisted that the 5,000 barrels of oil per day and the estimated 400,000 gallons of dispersant BP are pumping into the waters should be put into context. "The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of [sic] oil and dispersant we are putting in is tiny in relation to the total water volume", he said.
  • May 30 - Hayward was asked on camera what he would like to say to people in Louisiana, where the oil from the rig had begun to reach the state's south-eastern marshses. Hayward responded: "The first thing to say is, I'm sorry. We're sorry for the massive disruption it's caused their lives. There's no-one that wants this over more than I do. I would like my life back." The statement caused particular upset given that 11 people died in the explosion which caused the spill.
  • June 3 - Hayward was criticised by president Obama after BP broadcast a TV advertisement apologising to those affected by the spill, pledging to clean up every drop of oil and "restore the shoreline to its original state". BP spent $50 million on the campaign.
  • June 19 - Hayward was criticised again after he was spotted taking part in the JP Morgan Asset Management round the island race on the Isle of Wight. Hayward took part in the race in his personal £182,000 racing yacht, 'Bob' with his son. While BP spokesman Robert Wine defended Hayward, saying it was his first day off since the spill, Greenpeace activists said the trip was "rubbing salt into the wounds" of those who'd been affected by the spill.
White house chief of staff Rahm Emanuel summed it all up nicely: "[the boating incident has] just been part of a long line of PR gaffes and mistakes. To quote Tony Hayward, he's got his life back. I think we can all conclude that Tony Hayward is not going to have a second career in PR consulting."

I do hope Mr Emanuel is right... although we at Uniquethinking will not be quaking in our PR boots should Hayward choose to leave BP!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Fergie-gate

Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson on Oprah Winfrey's US chat show


Well last week was quite a week for our Duchess of York, as Sarah Ferguson put her foot in it.

The Duchess came under fire after being secretly filmed offering access to ex-husband Prince Andrew for a fee of £500,000 and an instant cash payment of $40,000 by Mazher Mahmood, the News of the World’s so called ‘fake sheikh’.

She has since apologised, but despite her many charity ventures and her books for children series, she never seems to really be in public favour. So what can she do next to regain some dignity?

With the news that she’s due to appear on Oprah in the US going down like a ton of bricks, the Uniquethinking team would suggest this is not the best move.

Fergie is set to appear on Oprah Winfrey’s US chat show today to make a formal, public apology to her American fans, who evidently outweigh those she has left in the UK. Fergie has always pledged her allegiance to the US and its people, recently saying:
“I love American people… I don’t have a house, but I live here. I am the number one fan, I love Americans.”

The next big ‘what not to do’ would be to joke about the embarrassing incident. Strike two for Fergie then, as during a discussion panel at Book Expo America in New York she said:

“I should take a leaf from some of my books like ‘Ashley Learns about Strangers’ and ‘Matthew and the Bullies’.”

It’s statements such as these that prompt the negative media coverage which has haunted Fergie’s private life, and most certainly prompted the New York Post last week to use the headline ‘Hey Fergie, if we pay you, will you go home?’

Fergie should go into hiding for a while and keep a low profile after making her public apologies and just let the dust settle. However, she seems determined to continue with a string of – potentially damaging – public appearances, which raises the question, who is looking after her PR? Whoever it is needs to step in here before any further damage is done.

What about spending some more time with daughters Beatrice and Eugenie? With Eugenie at Newcastle University now they could even go for a spot of lunch at Blackfriars restaurant!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

No Likey, No Lighty!

Uniquethinking's Helen and Emily with former Take Me Out contestant Arton Baleci

Last week the UT team just had to attend an event with 15 male models, cupcakes, manicurists and free champagne at Bijoux, well it was for charity!
The event, named 'No Likey No Lighty' was organised by a group of MA Events Management students who based the night on the ITV1 show 'Take Me Out' featuring Paddy McGuinness.

Over 130 tickets were sold to the North East's most eligible ladies, who battled it out to win a mini-date with a male model including champagne and strawberries.

Breaking up the dating frenzy were cupcake sales, raffles and auctions with some great prizes up for grabs including an exclusive, pink Pandora bracelet and dinner for two at one of Uniquethinking's favourite restaurants, Blackfriars!

All of the proceeds from the evening went to Breast Cancer Care, with the ladies raising a whopping £1650 for the charity.

Well done girls!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Spicing up a historic pub


We’re helping to spice up one of Newcastle’s best known former pubs, which has re-opened as a contemporary hotel and Indian restaurant.

The well known Balmoral pub, which dates back to the 1840s and is one of the most recognised buildings on Westgate Road, has now been transformed into the stylish Best Western Ryokan Hotel, following a two year £2.5million refurbishment project.

We’re helping to spread the word about this vibrant new hotel, which was formerly one of the very first Sir John Fitzgerald inns.

The Grade II listed building retains its historical charm, but has been treated to a complete interior design overhaul, creating a modern, elegant environment which fuses elements of Japanese minimalism in the 20 well-equipped bedrooms, with a sense of Indian warmth and d├ęcor in the 60-seat LuigiKhan’s restaurant.

LuigiKhan’s offers diners a taste of authentic Punjabi cuisine at its very best, with a hint of Italiano.

We’ve been promoting the beautiful hotel and the mix of traditional and innovative dishes on offer at LuigiKhan’s through co-ordinating advertising, organising reviews in the local press, arranging competitions and designing flyers, to let people know about the exciting new development on their doorstep.

The hotel offers free parking and is situated approximately a mile from the city centre. The restaurant is open every day from 5.30 – 10.30pm and also offers a takeaway service.

To book at the Best Western Ryokan Hotel, Tel: 0191 272 4930

Luigi Khan’s, Best Western Ryokan Hotel, 358 Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne. NE4 6NU. Luigi Khan’s Tel: 0191 272 4937

Monday, 12 April 2010

Peter Andre's our latest recruit


It’s getting very exciting here at Uniquethinking.

Why you ask? Well we’re just arranging to fly Peter Andre out to visit our client. Windjammer Landing, Saint lucia’s leading holiday resort, Windjammer Landing with all his possie to film his reality TV show. We’ve also arranged photoshoots with OK! in the UK and Australia and a nice double page spread interview with him the Mail on Sunday.

Not bad hey!

If you haven’t been to Windjammer Landing then what are you waiting for? To celebrate its 20th anniversary they are offering some great 20th promotions including 20% off food and drink, spa treatments, accommodation and even 20 hours of free babysitting. Now that sounds good. Call 0808 1781819 or email tanise@windjammer-landing.com

Sunday, 28 March 2010

We've gone to the pub ...

Over the weekend we moved into beautifully refurbished offices located in the same building as Newcastle's finest pub in the up and coming Lime Street area.

We are totally exhausted after carrying desks, computers, filing cabinets and hundreds of boxes to the new place. Well we didn't actually carry them ourselves but oversaw the removal men and they did a great job.

At least now we have a fantastic office and if our clients don't fancy meeting in our new plush boardroom we can meet them in the pub instead! Our neighbours are Generator Music Agency and charity Key Fund who are also based in the development so looking forward to working with them too.

Our new address is Cluny Annex, 36 Lime Street, Newcastle. Tel 0191 231 4985.

Monday, 22 March 2010

New client is buzzing with first contract



When a local business man approached us about launching a new pest control company we were itching to get started.

Since teaming up with Uniquethinking, we are delighted that Dave Christie, the owner of Saxon Environmental Services has secured his first client , just a week after launching his business.

Dave turned his back on being a hydraulic engineer and instead launched his own business to tackle those pesky pest problems across the North to help make unwanted wildlife a thing of the past.

We were tasked with designing brand with a ‘viking feel’ as well as launching a new website and print materials.

With a recent Daily Mail report revealing that a single train compartment houses 1,000 cockroaches, 200 bed bugs, 200 fleas, 500 dust mites and 100 carpet beetles, we can thank our lucky stars for Saxon.

Do you have any pests? We can think of a few.. Saxon Environmental Services offer a free consultation and survey of your premises to discuss in detail how the team can help you. Call 0191 240 2430 for more information.
Congratulations Dave!

Monday, 8 March 2010

Paula leads the way with some unique thinking


One of the region’s top leadership and development facilitators is paving her way to success with the help of uniquethinking.

Paula McCormack, who owns Newcastle based Paula McCormack Ltd, (formerly known as Ellmac) has relaunched the business with an innovative approach called The Adaptive which has resulted in a number of new contracts including property company, Gentoo.

We've been busy behind the scenes repositioning Paula's business with a new brand, design materials, website http://www.paulamccormack.co.uk/ and communications strategy to relaunch her business which will all come together in a few weeks time. We will of course ensure Paula is the most promoted leadership facililiator as that's what we do best.

The Adaptive was inspired by Paula’s experiences over the past 20 years of working with organisations, leaders and individuals. The dynamic new approach is designed to support and develop organisations and their people in order to transform working lives, using a more personal approach to business and offering clarity, vision and direction.

Paula said: “After 20 years of working in organisational and personal development, the time was right to set up Paula McCormack Ltd, and to launch a fresh new approach. I have been developing The Adaptive over several years and am currently turning my work into a series of books, downloads and audios . With the support of the uniquethinking team I've every confidence we'll be flying in a few months!".

The first client to experience The Adaptive was Sunderland housing association Gentoo where Paula has been developing its Organisation Development team to improve their own coaching skills.

uniquethinking has been working with Paula for six years now and we're honoured to be managing her relaunch. Go for it Paula!

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

New business is cooking on gas


Congratulations to Leanne McHugh, a former administrator at the John Buddle Work Village in Benwell, who was so inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit of the village’s tenants that she has set up her own catering business there.

Leanne, 23, who worked at the village for two years, has launched Love Food Ltd to provide catering for weddings, private dinner parties, corporate events and much more. The business offers tailor-made outside catering packages, creating bespoke menus to suit all occasions, themes and tastes.

Leanne is working alongside fellow director Jonathan Wardale, former head chef of catering company Fresh Element, a successful previous tenant. Fresh Element left the village kitchens last year to open Six Restaurant at the Baltic on Gateshead’s Quayside.

The John Buddle Work Village, which has been a Uniquethinking client for several years, is run by charitable trust Reviving the Heart of the West End (RHWE) which provides office and workshop units to support young businesses and promotes urban regeneration in areas of social and economic deprivation in West Newcastle.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Mike's the talk of the Times


Many thanks to the infamous Mike Grahamslaw who was the star of the show at our networking event, the Gosforth and Jesmond Business Network last week.

Mike, who is sales director for Accent Magazines came along to our new venue, the Townhouse Hotel, to speak to more than 60 business people about his life and work and love of Newcastle.

This was the seventh event we've organised and we're really pleased the informal format is working - what better way to do business in lovely settings after work. Speed networking is still popular but not obligatory.

Mike did actually say "uniquethinking is by far the best PR consultancy in the North East" but I bet he says that to all the girls - and he'd had a few drinks by that point.

Anyhow if you'd like to come along to the next event in April, register on the site now - it's £5 on the door.

Thanks to Mike for being the perfect guest speaker.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Black Horse is hot to trot



We were delighted when local businessman Bob Fountain asked us to launch a lovingly restored 17th century property as one of the finest gastro pubs in the North East.

Bob, who owns the adjacent Aston Workshop in Beamish reopened the Black Horse this month to offer a modern adaptation of bar room classics with a ‘field to plate’ approach from its two acre kitchen garden and orchard.

We've been busy accelerating awareness of the pub though design and execution of an online direct marketing campaign as well as high profile PR campaign in the regional and national media. We've worked with Bob for six years now promoting the Aston Workshop so we were delighted when he asked us to promote his pet project which has been years in the planning.
The Black Horse was originally constructed around 1690 when it was one of ten cottages built on the estate of the infamous Bobby Shafto MP for County Durham and was the first and largest of the cottages which all had red tiled roofs, hence the name Red Row. Leases were given to build the cottages on the condition that one able bodied man from each cottage was available to work on the quarry or down the coalmine.

It is known that 28 people lived in the Black Horse according to a census we have dated 1851, that included domestic servants, scholars and colliery workers and their children. People also gathered here for drinking and gambling sessions due to its remote country location. Eventually it had to legitimize itself and it became a licensed drinking pub around 1850.

Bob bought the pub four years ago and has spent the last two years recreating its charm and atmosphere but with a modern interpretation of a traditional classic interior. He said: “After the property had been run down for a number of years there was an opportunity to purchase the property, and where better to have a pub than at the end of your garden and grow and serve our own food!”

The menus have been devised by head chef Tony O’Neill who has spent several years working in kitchens across the North East including a spell as executive chef for Beamish Hall Hotel.

The restaurant is open seven days a week from 10.30am – midnight serving food from 12pm until 10pm with a special lunch time menu up to 6pm and is located on two floors. The ground floor has a bar area, also serving food and 60 seat restaurant whilst there are another 60 seats upstairs. A private function room seats up to 60 people. There is also outside seating areas accommodating 200 people.

To book your table see Black Horse, Red Row, Beamish, Co. Durham, DH9 0RW t: 01207 232 569 or email info@blackhorsebeamish.co.uk or see http://www.blackhorsebeamish.co.uk/

Friday, 8 January 2010

We’re letting loose This Morning


Check out GMTV’s This Morning show all this week, as we’ve organised for Loose Women’s Sherrie Hewson to present a fantastic competition on the show for our client, Windjammer Landing Villa Beach resort in Saint Lucia.


Sherrie, also famous for her role as Maureen Naylor in Coronation Street, will be shown sipping one of the resort’s famous rum cocktails on her villa balcony at the resort and experiencing all that Windjammer and Saint Lucia has to offer.

Sherrie is the latest in a line of celebrities we’ve worked with to promote Windjammer – we’ve arranged trips for Richard and Judy and Claudia Winkleman to name but a few, resulting in excellent national coverage in the Sunday Express and Independent.

The enviable prize we’ve organised for the lucky This Morning viewer is an all expenses paid holiday for up to six people and complimentary use of the impressive kids’ club, the top water sports centre, a choice of five restaurants and of course not to mention the idyllic beach.

The resort is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and is offering a variety of themed 20th offers which we’ve been working hard to promote in local and national media, including 20% discount off accommodation, food and drink and luxurious spa treatments.

Windjammer has served 10,000 holidaymakers over the years and truly offers something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a fun filled family break or a romantic escape.

Make sure you watch out for the competition this week from 10.30am every day for your chance to win!

Check out
http://www.windjammer-landing.com/ for more information.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Happy New Year to Holgate!



We start the new year by launching a new website for Holgate HR, a new business that launches officially today!

Holgate HR & Development Consultancy provides people solutions to businesses across the UK and has been established by Andy Holgate and Caroline Dixon, two HR professionals based in Newcastle with decades of experience working at a senior and strategic level in human resources.

We’ve armed them with a fantastic new corporate identity, print materials and website http://www.holgatehr.co.uk/ to give their business a head start and we're now busy planning a PR campaign to accelerate awareness of their services. As a result they are already streets ahead of their competitors.

We wish them every success!