Birthday Special: The Year That Was in 17 stories
How many times have you heard that well-worn cliché ‘there’s no two days the same in my job’? A year ago this week we decided to put that to the test, creating a new blog- The Week That Was- giving five (but really seven) peeks behind our week. If a week’s a long-time in politics, a year’s a heck of a long time in PR. As an agency working in Wales and across the world, multi-channel and across sectors, while every day might mean a different story, how and why we tell them doesn’t change. Strategic storytelling that changes our clients’ worlds for the better. That’s what we do, day in, day out, week in, week out.
Over the past year, we’ve built businesses, strengthened reputations, led the line in the steel crisis, fought for causes ranging from hate crime to Hillsborough, showed off sandy shores, launched flights, been cool in crises and managed media scrums for everyone from Nicola Sturgeon to Michael Palin via Brian Cox.
We’ve dug through the archives to bring you this selection of some of our favourites from The Weeks That Went.
1. Putting Liberty at the heart of the steel story
If you’ve been anywhere near the news over the past year, you’ll know the steel crisis has been one of the biggest running stories. We’ve put our client Liberty House Group right at the heart of it, managing hundreds of media interviews with everyone who’s anyone in the news and current affairs world. Panorama. Newsnight. Bloomberg. Jeremy Vine. A Radio 4 documentary. A BBC TV documentary. Plus weekly coverage across every national news outlet and events with everyone from Nicola Sturgeon to UK Biz minister Anna Soubry. And the story continues, just this week we helped Liberty announce the completion of a £100 million deal to acquire Tata Steel UK’s high-profile Speciality Steels business, helping to secure the future of around 1,700 jobs directly and thousands more through the supply chain. You can read more about Liberty House in our weekly blog.
2. Sharing BAFTA Cymru’s story with the world
Handling stories sensitively is a key skill here at Working Word. When our client BAFTA Cymru told us that Monty Python’s Terry Jones’ was to win a lifetime achievement award at October’s ceremony, it quickly became clear we’d be working with his family to announce the sad news of his dementia to the world. With over 2000 items of coverage, we worked with everyone from the New York Times, ITV News, BBC Breakfast, Radio 5live, The Guardian and The Daily Mail to share the story with Terry’s fans. The big night was the culmination of a five month campaign, which saw our team head up the media management at the awards night including controlling the red carpet and behind the scenes interviews for over 30 media outlets, including worthy winners such as Leonardo DiCaprio’s favourite make-up artist Sian Grigg and Terry’s big mate, fellow Python Michael Palin picking up on his behalf.
3. Celebrating Principality Stadium's first birthday
It’s not only this blog’s first birthday… a couple of weeks ago Principality Stadium was the one blowing out the candles. We helped our client Principality Building Society mark the occasion not just through the media, but with a nifty little in numbers infographic and video. Here’s hoping Wales can add to that try-count this weekend.
4. Mapping Melton Mowbrays on your mobile for DEFRA's Great British Food 2016 campaign
We love our noms here at Working Word so it was a dream deal for us last year to help the Westminster government map out all of the UK’s 73 registered Protected Food Names products. Our team created an interactive online food map of these Isles, taking in iconic bites like Stilton, Cumberland Sausage and Anglesey Sea Salt, which was launched by then Secretary of State for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Liz Truss at the Good Housekeeping Institute back last March. How we didn’t put six stone on during that project is a secret between us and the scales…
5. On your marks…
Is there a better annual event in Wales’ capital than the Cardiff 10K? With 6,000+ runners and hundreds of incredibly inspiring fundraising stories in the build-up, we’re not sure there is. Once again, we worked with client and race-organiser Kidney Wales to tell these stories ahead of the race, and manage a record-breaking year for entrants on the ground.
6. What have national stories on Iceland v Iceland, Clarkson and Prosecco Vans got in common?
Comments from Capital Law experts, that’s what. Nothing gives us a bigger buzz than spotting an emerging story and getting our clients involved in the narrative. Our work with Capital Law is a perfect example of how we do this. With legal eagles in a whole range of fields, over the past year we’ve put their people at the heart of stories involving intellectual property battles between Iceland (country) and Iceland (frozen food store) and a start-up prosecco van and fizz producers, employment issues around Jeremy Clarkson’s sacking, and property issues that saw a landlord sue local residents for loss of earnings when they objected to his planning application scooping stories in media like the Independent, Guardian, Mail Online and BBC Radio.
7. Wales' boundary change proposals announced from Working Word towers
In political circles, the proposed changes to the UK’s electoral boundary map- the biggest since 1832- was one of the year’s slow burners. Not as brash as Brexit or Trump but one that could change the face of politics in this country for generations. We were at the heart of the story, co-ordinating and hosting a press conference for Boundary Commission for Wales, with ITV and BBC Wales News and the Press Association being some of the first to be talked through the embargoed information. National coverage included Radio 4’s Today programme, the Guardian and Daily Mirror Online. We also grabbed print and online headlines across Wales and took the top spot on all Welsh news bulletins on launch day. Our very own Lydia Jones acted as spokesperson for Welsh language interviews on BBC.
8. Making Capital Quicker
Commuters between the Welsh and English capitals were faced with train pain last year as the Severn Tunnel closed for six weeks. FlyBe offered a different way with regular flights between Cardiff Airport and London City, saving valuable time and money. We worked with Cardiff Airport on a series of catchy, creative straplines that were seen on billboards, breakfast tables and even in the hands of the Secretary of State before boarding the maiden voyage. The good news is the flights are still running- give the skies a try for your next London trip.
9. Getting techie with Professor Brian Cox
Rewind to June and we were working with one of the biggest stars in the galaxy (sorry not sorry for the pun), Dr Brian Cox at London’s home of science, the Royal Society. But for once, the TV astrologer wasn’t the shiniest light in the room- that hyperbole belonged to the winners of the TeenTech Awards, smart kids from the across the UK with ideas and inventions to make life ‘better, simpler or easier’. The youngsters came up with everything from cancer-detecting bras and allergy-smart shopping trolleys to bio-degradable fishing nets and recycled Bluetooth speakers. That was a fun campaign.
10. Showcasing Swansea to the best of Britain
There’s many a moment at our desks when you’ll catch us daydreaming about Britain’s best beach, Rhossili Bay in Gower. The lucky thing for us is we can class that as work. Sort of. It’s our job to get the national and regional travel and lifestyle media excited about breaks in beautiful Swansea Bay, Mumbles and Gower. Lucky for us again the area has so much to offer- over the past year we’ve hosted journalists from The Sunday Times, The Daily Mirror, Coast magazine and London Evening Standard resulting in some stunning spreads in the media and helping short-breakers and holiday-makers around the country know just what Swansea has to offer.
Image: ©City and Council of Swansea
11. Securing a spot for the 'lonely request stop' as one of the Guardian's most epic train journeys
Sticking with the theme, we were pretty chuffed when we bagged a spot for our client Mid Wales Tourism as part of the Guardian’s top 10 train journeys in the world back in November. Dovey Junction, the ‘lonely request stop’, is the starting point for the two and a half trip along the Cambrian coast line ‘clinging to the shore of Cardigan Bay’ to Pwllheli. It sure beats the Tube!
12. Sharing social media expertise with Stop Smoking Wales
From trains to training…we know our hashtags from our memes here at Working Word and last month we were tasked with sharing some of our expertise with client Stop Smoking Wales.
Our team is packed with digital natives and having run multiple integrated campaigns for the public health body since Stoptober in 2015, it’s safe to say we know a thing or two about how social media can strategically target and compel smokers to start their quit journey. We passed on our knowledge to local stop smoking advisors at a training workshop in Public Health Wales’ Capital Quarter offices. Covering everything from current social trends to expanding onto new platforms, and everything in-between, our workshop went down a treat, and you can get a sneak peek behind the scenes on our Instagram.
13. Digital Dozen 2016: the top twelve tech companies in Wales
With Tech Nation saying the digital economy is worth £600m to the Welsh economy, we wanted to scratch beneath the pounds and pence to shine a light on just who it is that’s making a difference. So last summer, we came up with the Digital Dozen for client Innovation Point, twelve companies who are driving digital change and harnessing the latest technological advances to offer a range of trailblazing products and services. BBC loved the story, focusing on one of the twelve, Cellnovo, who have created a wearable patch to manage insulin for diabetics. Amazing stuff.
14. Hillsborough: Y Hunllef Hir / The Long Nightmare
We were very proud to work with production company Rondo Media on their documentary ‘Yr Hunllef Hir’ (‘The Long Nightmare’), which aired on S4C in January. The film focussed on Liverpool fans who’d travelled from North Wales to Hillsborough for the fateful FA Cup Semi-Final in April 1989, sharing the stories of survivors, interviewing families of fans who passed away and sharing testament from players Ian Rush and John Barnes alongside Professor Phil Scraton. Our team worked with the Chief Sports Writer at The Independent, securing two stories on the programme which you can read here and here. The film is still available on BBC iPlayer with English subtitles here. It’s a powerful, moving and essential experience.
15. Broadcasting international student perspectives on the issues faced in the Middle East
The conflicts and political instabilities facing the Middle East are well documented by the media. Images from the ongoing refugee crisis and intense international political debates continue to divide public opinion and create intense feelings of both empathy and fear. It’s all too easy to forget that the realities of those conflicts, and the plight of those fleeing them, are not just occurring outside our borders and on our TV screens. These issues are faced by many who have sought safety and compassion here in Wales.
For the international students of our client UWC Atlantic College these issues are very real – they are the stories of their classmates, their families and indeed their own personal experiences. Last November, the residential international college on the south Wales coast hosted its Middle East and North Africa Conference. It was our privilege to bring the ITV news team to meet these students to share their stories and learn how they are working to inspire and create peace in the world.
16. The 78 year old GCSE student who went back to school to help his grandkids learn maths
We’re education experts here at Working Word but it’s not often we work on a story this heart-warming. Back in August, we shared this story about Peter, a student at Coleg y Cymoedd, who picked up his maths GCSE result last week…at the age of 78. Peter wanted to brush up on the subject in order to help his grandchildren with their homework, bagging himself a grade B (and BBC interview) along the way. Having enjoyed it so much, he now wants to mentor other students in the subject. *Cue chorus of awwws*.
17. Getting a unique Welsh start-up on the world's most-read news site
With our client Big Ideas Wales, we look to tell the stories of young Welsh entrepreneurs who are trying to make their mark on the business world. One such business is House of Callaway, whose founder Sarah has centered her enterprise on reusable sanitary pads, which offer women a more natural alternative to disposable menstrual products.
Sarah’s goal is not only to build a successful business but to change attitudes, and back in October we helped her take a big step towards achieving both by securing her coverage on the world’s most read English language news site – the Mail Online. There was also coverage for Sarah and her entrepreneurial boyfriend Mike in The Sun, Daily Mirror and Wales Online, as well as an outpouring of support on social media. Consequently, Sarah experienced such a dramatic rise in orders that she ran out of stock, and had to put prospective customers on a waiting list.
18. Taming the Thames with Asset International
Okay, just one more thing to tell you about- we always like to go the extra mile. A lot of our clients want to speak direct to other businesses through trade media. When Asset told us they’d had been working on the regeneration of the antiquated London sewerage system, we knew we had a splash on our hands. We got in touch with key trade title WWT, who commissioned a two page feature and front page about the company’s work on the Lee Tunnel outfall, located in the same neck of the woods as London 2012’s Olympic village.
Thanks for being part of first year of The Week That Was. Here’s to telling many more stories that change our clients’ worlds for the better over the next twelve months…