Prohibition blog

The True Value of Diversity 

There’s no denying that we are extremely proud of our wonderful team, and it goes without saying that when they do something extra special we like to shout out about it!

One of our newest recruits, account executive Katie Rattigan, has recently gained a rather impressive ‘first’ from her ‘PR and strategic communications’ Master’s degree. Within this degree, Katie undertook a module titled ‘PR Skills’ which was in partnership with the CIPR. Part of the written assignment was to write a blog post addressing the lack of diversity in the public relations industry. At the end of the module, senior lecturers and the CIPR judged each student’s blog. We’ll give you one guess who came first!

That’s right, the University and CIPR were so impressed with Katie’s blog post that she won the competition and was granted a complimentary CIPR membership. Additionally, her blog post was published on the CIPR’s official blog.

You can read her full blog post below. Congratulations Katie –a well-deserved win which we are sure you will all agree with!


The True Value of Diversity 

The lack of diversity in the public relations industry is an issue that has been brought to light by CIPR in their “From Diversity to Inclusion” report. The report reveals that only 9% of PR practitioners are from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds. It also reveals that the industry typically favours young people in the recruitment process. As a postgraduate PR student at Leeds Beckett University, the findings of the report were highly surprising to me.

Unlike the industry, public relations education is an extremely diverse environment, comprised of students from a wide array of cultural backgrounds, religions and ages. The ethnicities of students on the Master’s degree range from English, Eastern European, American, Nigerian, Arabic and more. As an English national, being part of such a multicultural class has enriched my University experience and equipped me with the intercultural communication skills necessary to thrive in corporate communications.

Teaming up with students from diverse cultural environments in group projects undoubtedly contributed to the success of our campaigns. Since constructing effective campaigns requires creativity, insight from multicultural team members so different to me was invaluable. One of the most crucial things I learnt during my time at Leeds Beckett is that our culture affects the way we think. As a result, people from diverse backgrounds tackle projects differently, leading to increased creativity and better informed campaigns.

In the first semester, we worked alongside a Leeds-based PR agency to deliver a PR pitch to them. My team consisted of students of English, Arabic and American backgrounds. The fact that our team was so diverse meant that the scope of our ideas was unlimited. Consequently, the agency was extremely impressed with our efforts and we were awarded a First Class mark.

Similarly, in the second semester, we worked alongside IKEA to produce a PR campaign which would result in increased engagement with students in Leeds. Since the client is a large multinational corporation, it was imperative that our team demonstrated an in-depth understanding of the multicultural environment IKEA operates in.

Our team was diverse in terms of the age range, gender and culture of its members. As a result of the contribution from students from Eastern European and Nigerian backgrounds, we achieved an increased understanding of the cultural factors that affect student’s buying habits. The diverse characteristics and demographics of our team showed us that students were not a homogenous group, which became a crucial theme throughout our campaign. Without the involvement of multicultural students, our team would not have produced such a highly informed campaign and won the IKEA pitch.

The contrasting perspectives of the diverse teams I have been involved in have typically produced more optimised campaigns. As a result of my experiences with diversity at Leeds Beckett, I became more culturally enriched. Diversity and inclusion in PR environments means that agencies are more likely to have an in-depth understanding of their diverse clients. Lastly, multicultural individuals may identify cultural implications and potential adverse reactions our campaigns may encounter that we might not have realised ourselves.

As a creative profession, both public relations students and professionals should actively embrace the differences we encounter as individuals. True creativity can only be gained from a variety of contrasting perspectives. The truth is, the insightful, valuable things I have learnt from my multicultural University colleagues could never have been taught in a lecture theatre. That is the true value of diversity.



How to work with online influencers

We’ve been delivering influencer relations programmes seriously for a good few years here at Prohibition. Seriously in as far as we’re now making influencers a key part of most of our integrated campaigns, we’re dealing with significant influencer budgets, and we’re generating some impressive results when it comes to post-campaign ROI.

All this means we’ve got a strong perspective when it comes to the shifting influencer marketing and influencer relations landscape, and here’s a summary of what we know.

  • The shift from influencer marketing to influencer relations: Brian Solis covered this issue in detail in his recent Influence 2.0 white paper. He talks about the shift from one-off influencer marketing programmes, to ‘always-on’ influencer relations programmes. Practically speaking this is about working with influencers in a much more involved, ongoing basis, not just around the big campaign spikes. This is certainly something we’ve been advising our clients on, and as Solis points out, it’s a way to have much more in-depth conversations, get valuable feedback and really gain a deeper understanding around what matters to your influencers.
  • Embrace the mid-tier. Working with influencers is no longer about enrolling Hollywood celebrities with huge followings and even bigger price tags. It’s increasingly about relevance and working with networked individuals, who have genuine influence within their respective niche. In many cases that can mean looking at the so-called mid-tier sweet spot: on Instagram, for example, this tends to be the 50,000 – 100,000 mark. Targeting 10 of these is easier, more relevant and more cost-effective than working with a 1m+ influencer. Bloom & Wild do this brilliantly.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for metrics. Any influencer programme has to work for both parties, and should be viewed as a symbiotic relationship. Influencers have got much savvier, and that means many now have agents and rate cards. But rather than agents being seen as obstructive, this brings a new level of professionalism and transparency. So don’t be afraid to ask questions to make sure an influencer is right for you; what results have they achieved from previous brand campaigns, who else have they worked with, what can they expect to achieve for your campaign? Also think about reach versus engagement: many influencers have one or the other, but not necessarily both. Which best sits with your objectives?
  • Don’t interfere (but be realistic). Typically there’s two ways you can work with influencers, especially if you’re producing video or visual content. You either create the assets yourself (for example with your own videographer or photographer) OR you can ask the influencer to create content on your behalf. If you go down the latter route, then please, don’t interfere – they, of course, have a better understanding of what their audience responds to than you do. While it’s ok to create a brief, including some brand imperatives (for example, referencing a key message), leave it at that. This does require an element of trust, but top influencers are professionals and should be treated as such.
  • Start with WHY. Influencers get pitched to – a lot. Just because you’ve got a budget does not mean that thy will want to work with you. Similarly, just because an influencer shows some interest in your brand, it doesn’t mean you should necessarily drop everything and rush to broker a deal. It’s incredibly important that you choose influencers based on their core values resonating with your own.   Simon Sinek calls this the “why” – and if you get this right, your activity will resonate better with consumers, your influencer will pull out all the stops to deliver for you, and your campaign will be more meaningful and effective.

Facebook to make brand’s advertising spend visible (blame the Russians)

So, in Mark Zuckerberg’s ongoing quest for greater transparency (at least, on the PR front) following the US Elections, he’s just announced plans to throw open the previously hidden world of Facebook advertising.

While the focus is largely on those buying political ads, his slightly ambiguous post suggests that anyone visiting a brand page will soon be able to see how much said brand has paid for advertising, details of how their particular ads are targeted, as well as the number of impressions their ads have generated.

To quote him verbatim:

1.    We’re making all ads more transparent, not just political ads. We’ll soon start testing a feature that lets anyone visit any page on Facebook and see what ads that page is currently running. For political advertisers, we’re working on a tool that will let you search an archive of ads they’ve run in the past. You’ll also be able to see how much an advertiser paid, the type of people who saw the ads and the number of impressions. Our goal is to fully roll this out in the US ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

Clearly then, there are major implications for any brand advertising on Facebook. While I’m not expecting every single nugget of data to be publicly available to the hoi polloi, it will still make uncomfortable reading for anyone running ad campaigns on behalf of their clients (i.e. us). Specifically, I can see issues around three areas;

–         Giving away competitive information into investment in social advertising. Would a brand be comfortable revealing this? Probably not. Just as they wouldn’t want anyone to know about how the rest of their marketing budget is sliced.

–         Audience targeting insight. Many highly effective campaigns we run on behalf of brands come down to creative, insight-led audience targeting. Certainly not the kind of information we – or our client – would be happy to share. Unless we want to lose a competitive edge, which we don’t.

–         High performing ad content – crudely speaking, Facebook ads perform in the same way as organic content, ultimately slaves to Facebook’s ever-changing Edgerank. So high reach ad content, could = Edgerank-busting content. The crown jewels as far as Facebook content is concerned, and, again, not something you, as a brand, want to explicitly advertise to your competitors.

Is there reason to panic? Probably not. As usual, this is being tested in limited US markets first. At this stage I’d put it down to PR lip service from a company keen to put fake news and electoral fraud behind it.

Is Facebook about to kill organic reach for brand pages?

Facebook has recently announced some significant changes that have the potential to impact upon the way we manage communities and post content on behalf of brands everywhere.

As you’ve probably seen, Facebook is currently rolling out its new Explore Feed – a new news-feed dedicated to content discovery – it is a combination of content from brands, friends, as well as recommended content (you can view this on the left-hand sub menu of the Facebook homepage – click Explore; ‘Explore Feed’).

At the same time as this, Facebook is also trailing a new algorithm in certain countries whereby all content from brands is automatically moved to this (less visible) Explore Feed.

That means in these cases the main newsfeed will be made up of content from just from your friends.

Therefore, for posts from brands to appear in a traditional newsfeed, you have to pay for it – in effect, organic reach is over.

The good news for brands: this is just a regional test in certain countries (not the UK) – at this stage, it’s unclear whether Facebook plans to roll this out globally and there’s no need to panic.

Possible implications for brand pages;

  • Organic content as we know it could become a thing of the past
  • A need for greater and more strategic investment in paid-content
  • A need for a revised channel strategy: hygiene and hub content to play greater roll on alternative social networks

Prohibition wins the CIPR’s Outstanding Public Relations Consultancy 2017-18

Thursday night saw the biggest night on our social calendar – the CIPR’s Yorkshire & Lincolnshire PRide Awards.

This is the night where all the staff get glammed up and ready to celebrate (or commiserate), with a few glasses of fizz along the way and it’s always a bonus if we win.

Therefore, we are thrilled to announce that we won Outstanding Public Relations Consultancy 2017!

The CIPR said:

 “Prohibition was a clear winner in this category. Whilst demonstrating clear business growth and new business wins, the agency really stands out thanks to its commitment to nurturing talent and keeping it in the region. Our industry is changing rapidly, but the agency demonstrated that its focused on staying ahead of the local competition by ensuring campaigns are fully integrated, combining social and digital with traditional PR.”

Not only did we win the highest award of the evening, the team also received the Silver Award for ‘Best Use of Digital’ with ‘The World’s Largest Sleep Census’ for our client Sealy UK, as well as ‘Best Use of Social Media’ for our campaign called ‘Making Christmas Real Again’.

Thanks to our wonderful team for their hard work over the past year. We can’t wait to see what 2018 brings!

A day in the life of….

PR – if you work in the sector, you will be more than familiar with the blank face that greets you when you tell your family and friends what you do for work. “No Mum, I don’t wear roller skates and hand flyers out” must have crossed the lips of many a PR professional.

With this in mind, we’ve recruited the help of our team to shed some light on the age-old profession we call PR… so, if you’re a student wondering what your working day will be like, a professional trying to explain your role to your friends and family or if you’re just interested in having a nosey into what we get up to here at Prohibition – say hello to our day in the life! We hope you enjoy.  

This week we speak to Natalie – a seasoned PR Executive and fully-fledged member of the Prohibition PR team here in Leeds.


What is your official job title?

My official job title is Account Executive or a PR and Social Media expert – which sounds much fancier.


Do you have an unofficial job title?

Over the past couple of years I have earned the title of ‘Celebrity Knowledge Guru’ as I seem to know a weird amount of useless information about Z-list celebrities (I blame the Daily Mail’s ‘sidebar of shame’).  I’m also pretty nifty when it comes to quizzes – in fact, along with our Account Director Vicky, I’ve scooped the big bucks (usually a bottle of Processco) at our bi-annual staff quiz. Unsure if that is something to be proud of or not…?


Why did you choose to work in PR?

I managed restaurants on and off for ten years and desperately wanted a change. After becoming a mature student – studying Marketing and Advertising Management degree at Leeds Beckett University – I found that I really enjoyed the PR and communication side of things. I decided to look for work experience in this field and came to Prohibition PR after my first-year exams. I loved it, they loved me, and I have been here ever since!


What is a typical day at Prohibition like for you as an Account Executive?

The thing I love about this job is that every day is different. I could be selling in a story to a national newspaper one minute and helping to arrange an event the next. It would be impossible to say what a typical day is like here! But in a nutshell, fun, busy, varied and quiet often unexpected!


How do you consume news?

I watch Sky or BBC news a lot at home and follow what people’s thoughts are on various subjects using social channels such as Twitter and Reddit. I do admit I read the Daily Mail online a lot, but try to ensure a non-biased opinion by reading the BBC online too.


What is your favourite thing about PR and social media?

Most definitely the people. I think you need to be a certain type of person to work in this field and I couldn’t ask for better colleagues. I also love how the industry is constantly changing, which keeps our work interesting and fast paced. I enjoy consumer writing too, which is a huge bonus as you do a lot of that here at Prohibition!


Do you prefer PR or social media?

I enjoy both equally, but if I had to choose it would be social media as it’s a fascinating subject. It has literally transformed the world as we know it, from how we consume news, to how we interact with people. I am always excited to see what technology will be next to take the industry by storm.


What advice would you give to someone looking to work in PR?

Be willing to work hard and ensure you love the work you do. The industry is so fast paced and ever-changing, so you need to stay on top of everything!


What is the best thing about working at Prohibition?

My colleagues who are also great friends. We support each other and have a laugh together. It makes the working day a breeze – no matter how much stress or pressure we are under.


What has been your favourite campaign to work on?

I really enjoyed working on some of the campaigns we rolled out for Leeds based retail and entertainment complex The Light. We’ve launched loads of innovative campaigns for them, such as Student Hub and The Light Lunch. It was great interacting with the people of Leeds and watching everything go live. We really felt like we had accomplished something once it was over.


How many coffees do you need to survive the day?

I am one of those weird people that doesn’t drink tea or coffee. However, I do have a diet coke once a day to see me through.


And finally, the most important question of them all…. Does pineapple belong on pizza?

Always. Although I prefer anchovies, which is even more antisocial of me.

Prohibition wins Prolific North’s Best Integrated Communications Campaign

It’s almost time to get dressed up, bring out the bow ties and pop the Champagne as the shortlist for this year’s CIPR Yorkshire and Lincolnshire PRide Awards has been released.

The awards, decided by industry experts, recognise and reflect the hard work PR professionals across Yorkshire and Lincolnshire have put into our PR campaigns throughout the year and to our excitement, we’ve been shortlisted once again for a number of awards.

This year sees our ‘Dial a Direwolf’ campaign shortlisted for Best Low Budget Campaign thanks to the help of our furry friends who roamed around Leeds, creating a buzz about the new pop up Game of Thrones bar in The Light Shopping Centre. We have also been shortlisted for Best Use of Digital and twice for Best Use of Social Media for our ‘Making Christmas ‘Real’ Again’ campaign and our work with Watches of Switzerland over in Switzerland for Baselworld.

Finally, we have also been shortlisted for the prestigious award of Outstanding Public Relations Consultancy, something we could have only dreamed when we were a small team of three back in Chris’ garage.

Much to our excitement, we have already seen one win this year at the Prolific North Awards from our work with florist, Interflora, for Best Integrated Communications Campaign. As a specialist PR and social media agency, integrated PR campaigns are our thing – so it was great for our expertise to be recognised at this year’s awards.

The campaign was birthed from our research, which found the worst and best dates to have a birthday, and was implemented during Christmas time. As any PR practitioner will know, it is difficult to ‘cut through the noise’ during the festive season, so it was hugely important for us to focus on anything but Christmas gifting.

As a team, we came to the decision to run a second phase of the campaign the following summer, focussing on the best date to have a birthday, which was in July.

Along with both of these campaigns creating a significant amount of coverage and online conversation, it was decided to go one step further and create ‘The Ultimate Birthday Surprise Video’.

The video saw a huge surprise birthday party stunt in Southampton, which included a flash mob, a horse-drawn Disney themed carriage and afternoon tea with all of her friends and family at an exclusive Southampton hotel. The content received the greatest organic reach ever for a piece of content on Interlora’s Facebook page.

Overall, the campaign was hugely successful and achieved more than 146 pieces of radio coverage and 140 pieces of national and regional print coverage, with a total circulation of 337 million for print and 355 million opportunities to hear for radio, and genuinely drove online conversation.

Following the success of previous years (and already this year), there are high hopes in the Prohibition office that a winning streak is on the cards. In 2016 we managed to scoop up Best Consumer Relations Campaign for the ‘Worst Birthday’s’ campaign with Interflora and in 2015 we won Outstanding Small Consultancy, so our fingers are crossed that the 2017 PRide Awards brings us something to smile about.

We find out if we have been successful on the PRide Award night on the 30th November so you can count on us keeping you updated then. In the meantime, fingers crossed!



Content marketing – it’s not just content for contents sake

Consider the changing shape of the comms industry, and you will undoubtedly come across the phrase ‘content marketing’. Content has become the ‘buzz word’ for the industry – whether you specialise in SEO, digital marketing or indeed more traditional avenues such as online advertising and PR. But what does content mean? And why is it so important?

At the risk of teaching you to suck eggs, content is – in a nutshell – what makes the communications industry go round. It’s the bread and butter of the sector and it’s an essential tool to ensure brands are putting out the right message and engaging their audience; whether they’re corporates, consumers or stakeholders. So we’ve established that content is the crooks of online communications, which may – to some extent – explain why it’s such an overused term. It’s an essential element to any communications campaign. Without the content, there really is nothing to communicate online, no way to get across your message and in turn no way to build awareness, drive sales or increase footfall.

But has the industry really changed? Or is content marketing merely a new term used to dress up old school tactics? Well yes and no. Content remains at its roots, exactly that; information, a message – whether its worked up into an old school snappy strapline, or a radio jingle, the content remains. What has changed is how content is utilised. The medium in which we both push out and consume content has become ever more varied, and of course we can’t mention medium, without touching on platforms – think blogs, social media, vlogs, digital press… the list is endless.

So, final question… what is the real key to successful content marketing? Well, in short it’s entirely dependent on audience. More and more communicators are being pressed to really consider whom they’re looking to engage. The days of pushing out a press release and totting up press cuttings has long gone. The press office, whilst still relevant, is now an entirely different beast. It’s digital and it acts more as a groundswell from which a brand can maintain a presence and voice, but without strategic campaigns interweaved into the strategy, it is in some aspects a little redundant.

The audience, the consumer – whether B2B or B2C – is savvy, savvier than ever. We’re used to consuming media on mass. Generic content has become sub-standard. It just doesn’t cut the biscuit. Consumers want more, they want tailored messaging, something they can relate to, and something they can truly feel engaged with. And so we see the rise of lifestyle content within the B2B market becoming more successful, and very personalised and strategically relatable content for the B2C market becoming nothing short of essential.

There are four elements to successful content marketing:

  • First and foremost you audience – what do they want to see? What is it that really appeals to them?
  • Secondly, your messaging – how can you make your message relevant? Is taking an indirect approach more effective in the long term?
  • Third comes the platform – how can you access your audience? Do they read online news…? Or are they more proactive across social platforms? Perhaps they’re not proactive across traditional social platforms at all? If so, how are they engaging with brands across the web, is it via online communities, local groups, podcasts?
  • Finally comes the content – once the former points have been established, only then can you really consider how you can create and indeed market your digital content to your audience

Content marketing is developing and ever changing. But, other than mediums changing to adapt to platform updates and launches, the core principle remains the same: Always consider your audience.

Prohibition Pirate Takeover

Here at Prohibition HQ, we love creative social campaigns of all natures, and video content is no exception. So when our lovely city centre client, The Light, informed us that they would be hosting another pop-up bar – after the success of the Game of Thrones-themed Stark’s Tavern – we couldn’t wait to get creative. The theme this time? Pirates.

The launch of the bar was set to coincide with the release of the much-anticipated fifth instalment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Dead Men Tell No Tales. The bar itself was to feature Caribbean cocktails from in-house mixologists Turtle Bay, pirate props and a steel band playing everything from Caribbean calypso to traditional sea shanties.

Our response was simple: create an engaging and humorous video. In order to encourage excitement and buzz around the bar and drive footfall to its launch, we called on ultimate Jack Sparrow lookalike, Simon Newton, to create (a lot of) mischief in and around Leeds city centre on one particularly gloomy Monday evening.

Our strategy was to release three micro videos over the weekend, teasing the people of Leeds about what was to come, and one full length video afterwards, driving people to the bar’s opening on May 26th.

The results were incredible, with the video achieving a reach of almost half a million people, all in Leeds, drove 128,000 video views and encouraged a total of 13,000 likes, comments and shares.

Did you see the video? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Check it out here.

Making the connection between your forty-winks and sporting success

We all know that worn-out and run-down feeling when you’ve not had enough shut-eye, so we’re sure it’s no shock to know that sleep is a key factor in maintaining good health and wellbeing. But for some, the effects of not getting enough sleep can also seriously impact their livelihood.

Here at Prohibition, we’ve been working with the world’s number one bed brand, Sealy UK, to highlight how sporting success and sleep are intrinsically linked.

Whether you’re in training or recovering from injury, sleep is vital for your health and performance. Studies have shown sleep deprivation to increase levels of stress hormone, cortisol, and decrease production of glycogen and carbohydrates, which are stored for energy during physical activity. This means that sportsmen and women who haven’t been getting proper rest are likely to suffer from low energy and poorer concentration levels in their time of need.

Having a supportive bed can not only help with getting a better night’s sleep, but with recuperating from injuries, allowing the brain to restore itself and activate the healing process.

To help, we worked with Sealy UK to highlight this important link by creating a World of Sport campaign, and teamed up with a number of sporting heroes, sponsoring and gifting them a brand new Sealy bed, whilst following their sporting progress.

To date, we have worked with the likes of David Haye, Wigan Warriors, Burnley FC, Jamie Roberts and Phil Tufnell, and have generated over 65 pieces of coverage, including titles such as SportsPro, News & Star, and The Business Desk.

In fact, if you’re a Wigan Warriors fan, you may have spotted our April Fool’s video earlier this year, with Sky Sports presenter Brian Carney, discussing a new, innovative training scheme involving lots of Sealy pillows…

Here is just some information on our World of Sport stars:

To find out more about the Sealy World of Sport, visit the website here.