By Shaun Westgate, Managing Director
The digital communications revolution has completely transformed how global companies and brands market themselves.
But why has this happened? A brand now has so many different channels in which to communicate and all these channels have given audiences…
By Chelsey Palmer, Account Executive
Here at the Westgate offices, we’re partial to a bit of chocolate every now and then – perhaps the understatement of the century(!) – but it’s not just the chocolate we admire. Cadbury, for example, is a company that is impressing us both in its PR and its…
By Helen Westgate, Director and Founder
I recently caught up with a senior client who informed me that we had in fact been working together for nearly ten years. When I got up off the floor after passing out with shock (and the passing of time! I had thought that it was about four!), it made me realise not only that time flies when you are having fun (!) but also that at Westgate, this is not at all unusual.
In all areas of the agency, from PR to design and digital marketing, we have many, many client relationships that have been managed and nurtured for long periods of time – in fact when I dug a little deeper, it seemed that our average client relationship actually lasts for about five years as a minimum.
This made me enormously proud. In such a competitive, fast paced environment, to keep on delivering high impact, creative results consistently year on year, simultaneously delivering real commercial value for the client, is no mean feat. Which begs the question – what do our clients stay?
I would say they stay because we invest ourselves so much in their relationship. Not only with our professional skills, always trying to ensure that we are delivering the most relevant and creative solutions for their marketing communications requirements but also because we have always tried to see things from the client’s perspective.
Many of our clients will tell us that we work with them as an extension of their team and this fact makes us enormously proud. When they say this, we know that we are doing our jobs right.
The other key factor in maintaining long term relationships is to constantly challenge both ourselves and the clients. We never sit on our agency laurels and we always treat every activity review as a chance to introduce new ideas and strategies. You need to keep things fresh - creating the client agency equivalent of a marital “date night” is a must.
I can honestly say that everyone on the Westgate team really cares about doing a great job and surpassing clients’ expectations. Sometimes, a simple fact such as this can be the driver to keeping clients coming back for more.
If you are a recent design graduate looking for your first job, you will be entering a very competitive environment, so it is vital that you ‘stand out’ from the crowd. You will have spent the last three years learning your craft and honing your skills, but now you will need to apply these in the commercial world.
In my experience, the graduates that can demonstrate a real understanding of the commercial design world and can apply their newly acquired creative skills to this environment will have a much greater success in today’s job market.
I have been fortunate enough to conduct D&AD portfolio workshops for several years now, guiding graduates on how to land their first coveted design job. If you’re currently looking to begin your career in the creative industry take a look below for some key things to think about before you do:
Preparing your portfolio
• Are you featuring the very best work in your portfolio?
• Are you starting with a great piece and ending with an even better one? It’s important you don’t show too much work, six pieces is maximum – always quality rather than quantity.
• Your portfolio should feature great ideas as well as demonstrate commercial reality and understanding. It is also important to include background copy on the projects featured to explain the brief, any background information and your design solution.
• Give careful thought to the format of your portfolio and how you are going to present it – an iPad or laptop can be very effective.
Getting your CV and letter right
Have you designed a cracking letter and CV? Your CV should truly convey your personality and outline your interests and where you get your inspiration from. Design is a way of life and it’s much more than a job. Your letter needs to outline your key skills, your passions and how you are going to add value to the target company. Most importantly, both should be well written with no spelling mistakes!
Preparing for the interview
Make sure you always rehearse presenting your portfolio. Be natural, be yourself and show passion for your craft. It’s important that you speak clearly and succinctly about your work in an engaging way, demonstrating energy, enthusiasm and creativity.
Have you created a simple marketing campaign to help you get some job interviews? Are you using Direct Mail or Social Media to promote yourself and your portfolio?
• Have you drawn up a list of companies you want to work for, including identifying the key decision makers?
• Are you going to create a ‘stand out’ Direct Mail or Social Media campaign that will help you ‘stand out’ from the crowd? Be creative!!
Use your talent, energy, intelligence, enthusiasm, listening skills, creativity and drive to demonstrate, to a future employer, your commitment Finally, don’t be scared to do work placements / internships as it’s the perfect way to demonstrate to employers what you can do and what potential you have.
Happy job hunting!
By Jade Page, Account Manager
We’re coming to that time of year again, when the next batch of graduates are preparing to enter into the big wide world and looking for their first job. We all know what skills and qualities are needed when working in the PR industry - good communication and organisation anyone? But, is that all that counts? In an industry that is so fast moving, how important are personal characteristics? Sometimes, it’s not all about what you know, it’s about you too!
Here are the top five characteristics that we think are perfectly suited to a career in PR. Sound like you? Then get in touch!
• Initiative - nothing impresses your senior colleagues, or indeed clients, more than using your initiative, whether that’s preparing for a forthcoming meeting before being asked or exploring an editorial profile opportunity you’ve spotted to see if it might be suitable for your client.
• Common sense - sometimes if something doesn’t make sense it’s for a reason! As a PR, you should not be afraid to question information that you don’t understand or query a campaign that you don’t think will work.
• Good under pressure - what happens when you have all the top national news journalists ringing you about a news story, but your client hasn’t signed off the statement yet? In this situation, you need to be able to keep calm and have the confidence to ensure a journalist does not get information from you ‘off the record’.
• Reliability - your client needs to be able to know that, when they ring you at 17.29, you will be there to take their call and be happy to help. One of the greatest reassurances of having a PR agency is that your client has a team of people ready and willing to support, no matter what time of day or night it is!
• Conscientiousness - those who have a desire to do a task well, with great attention to detail, are well really suited to working in the PR industry. A great example of this would be thoroughly proofing copy, which can be a client’s bug bear if not done correctly.
A characteristic that is not well suited to the industry is pessimism - in PR it’s crucial to look on the bright side! If a campaign doesn’t quite go to plan, don’t dwell on the negatives, turn it around and think about different angles you can explore to still achieve a positive outcome.
The best way to decide if a career in PR is for you is to gain work experience. If you’d be interested in speaking to us, do get in touch on 01732 779087 or email email@example.com.
To be successful in this very competitive climate, a creative agency must tick many boxes to win, retain and grow client business. A great creative product designed for a client’s exact communication requirements is a step in the right direction. It goes without saying that your creative product, whether this is a new brand, a website or a social media strategy, will need to be unique, fit for purpose, value for money as well as turn up the volume on your clients’ business objectives.
But what is often overlooked is the actual ‘service’ journey that agencies take their clients on, from the initial credentials meeting right through to final delivery of the creative product – every step of this journey should always be seamless. This means your agency must always be highly focused and proactive and with good attention to detail, ensuring that your client is always serviced to the best of your collective ability.
Here, at Westgate, we have built a successful business on the premise that, as well as being a creative consultancy, we are also ultimately here to serve, to make our clients’ businesses more successful and of course, more prosperous.
Ten years on and we continue to win new work, usually because incoming clients are not happy with the journeys they have travelled with other agencies. Unsuccessful agencies usually make big promises early on, lack attention to detail, offer no real follow through and or give poor response rates to client requests – ultimately, there is no real tender loving care from the agency to the client.
It is incredibly important that agencies, both big and small, remember that they are ultimately always a service business. If you went to a Hotel and all your requests were ignored and you were not given what you had asked for, you would get straight onto TripAdvisor to make your feelings heard. Delivering seamless service is just as important for a creative agency as it is for any other service business.
At Westgate, we are passionate about delivering the best possible journeys for our clients and we have worked tirelessly since our inception to provide the very best creative product, always delivered as efficiently as possible. This is a key part of our success – our average client retention rates are five years, unusually high within the agency world. In fact, we rarely pitch for work for free because the majority of our new work comes from referral – ‘satisfied customers telling their friends’.
So, if you are looking for an agency who will add real creative and commercial value to your business or organisation, and will make your working life easier, please do not hesitate to get in touch with myself or one of the creative team here, for an initial discussion. firstname.lastname@example.org
Caroline Walker, Account Executive
One of my favourite PR stunts of late has come from the “Parc Zoologique de Paris”, which reopened earlier this month, on the 12th April, following a six-year closure for major refurbishment. To announce its reopening, the Vicennes Zoo installed large wooden animal crates across the city close to famous Parisian landmarks.
The open animal crates, filled with straw and sawdust, popped-up next to attractions such as the Eiffel Tower implying that exotic creatures, including a zebra, a jaguar and a giraffe, had all been let loose to run wild in the streets of the French capital. Stencilled onto the crates was practical information, including the opening times of the zoo, as well as facts about the city’s new animal residents. Designed to engage the locals as well as tourists, this PR stunt was simple, striking and effective and helped deliver over 20,000 visitors to the Parc’s gates on its opening day. The appearance of the zoo’s boxes also supported a successful social media campaign – as images of the crates appeared across Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
The genius behind this PR stunt is that it was fun, generated widespread positive media coverage and promoted the right message directly to a captive audience.
A selection of our creative work for The Gallery
We have been asked many times to re-design a company or organisation’s website, and it’s fascinating how many times this has actually become a complete rebranding exercise, and a rather simple and and effective one at that.
Why does this happen? Whenever we are asked to re-design a website, we don’t just create a simple templated solution. We will deliver a bespoke website design that truly reflects the client’s brand, has originality and stands out from the competition. Our holistic approach ensures the website is a vehicle to convey all the key brand and sales messages in the most compelling way.
What has become very clear to us when designing a website is that for many SMEs, their website is the most visible and important part of their marketing armoury, so this cannot be designed in isolation. Also, as so much of an organisation’s marketing collateral is now online, the digital visual language that is developed for a website can be easily translated onto a whole range of other social media and online marketing platforms.
Clearly, it goes without saying that for many large global organisations, their brand can be very complex, so a traditional branding process will need to be adopted. But, for smaller organisations, where their brand proposition is relatively simple, a brand ‘look and feel’ for a website can easily translate onto a whole range of on and offline marketing collateral.
The work we have done for the The Gallery, a leading high-end hair salon, is a great example where the web design has developed into the overall ‘look and feel’ for the brand. We have positioned The Gallery as an aspirational brand that offers bespoke, leading edge quality to a diverse customer base. Since launching The Gallery website last year, we have developed a whole range of sophisticated marketing collateral to help raise the profile of the salon further, with a new loyalty card, a gift voucher system and an on and offline advertising campaign. www.thegalleryhairandbeauty.co.uk
Westgate has a long track record in creating bespoke websites for clients, which have a unique ‘visual language’ that have then been effectively adopted for their overall brands. If you are looking for a new website, and possibly a brand refresh, please do not hesitate to get in touch with myself or one of the creative team here. email@example.com
By Alice Baker, Account Manager
In an unfortunate turn of events (I blame my parents), my Birthday falls at the end of March. It’s something that used to be a really good thing – spring parties in the garden with a bouncy castle – but now I’m older, I have to deal with the disappointment of ‘sharing’ my Birthday with other seasonal events.
Sometimes it’s Easter Sunday, (not too bad, I had an Easter egg hunt for my Birthday one year) but this year my Birthday falls on yet another celebration – Mother’s Day. Not a big deal perhaps, but it always causes a bit of a blurring of lines in terms of what we should be celebrating, what we do and ultimately who ends up cooking the dinner. Regrettably, running away to a cosy nook in Somerset is something that won’t be on the cards this year…
So how does this relate to PR? Well, in much the same way, keeping focused on one goal and objective is the key to achieving the best results. We sometimes hear from our clients that they’ve had their ‘fingers burnt’ by PR, or been disappointed by the results they received from other agencies, and often this is because there is no clear strategy in place or the PR activity has not been aligned to their business development plans.
Coverage for coverage’s sake is not PR at its best. Instead, it’s vital that PRs drill down into the business objectives of their clients and craft a strategy that helps boost and support these plans from the very beginning, whether the client is new to PR or not.
If you’re a business engaging in PR, make sure your agency knows what your business goals are and your development plans for Q2 2014 and beyond. Only when your PR activity is focused will it truly support your business in the way you need it to.
Want to find out more about how we can extend your reach in key market sectors and boost your business development plans? Then give us a call – we’d love to hear from you! Call: 01732 779087 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The branding process
We have been creating and developing brands for some of the biggest companies and organisations in the world. Over that time, we have developed and honed a simple, step-by-step creative process to ensure that highly effective results are achieved for our clients.
This is our very first step to getting to know the existing brand, its values and customer behaviours and how it communicates all its key messages. Most importantly, we need to understand how effective the brand engages with its key audiences, on and offline.
We do this by reviewing all the key aspects, including the logo, all brand and marketing collateral on and offline. We then produce a critique of what is working well and what needs attention. Within this part of the process, we will also assess how the brand performs in comparison to its competition.
Interviews and workshops
Working with a carefully developed questionnaire, we conduct interviews with a complete cross section of people within the brand’s organisation, as well as key customers or clients. This is very much a fact-finding mission and gives us both brand and business insights into what is working and what is not. This process also gives key personnel the platform to suggest ideas that could help enhance brand communications and of course business performance. Depending on the type of organisation, a more collective approach may be taken, and we can involve key individuals in creative workshops to help start shaping the brand.
Research and analysis
After the workshop phase, we will then conduct some targeted research where we believe there are gaps in our findings, to develop our understanding of the current brand and business situation. We will then compile our findings into a report on how the organisation is perceived, why it is seen that way and then we will outline any ideas or thoughts that been generated from the process so far.
Developing the brand narrative
With this research and analysis we are able to develop a unique brand narrative. This is a blend of the brand positioning and key sales messages combined with the story of a company’s past, plus its current and future plans. The brand narrative we develop focuses on a brand’s most positive aspects to ensure customer and client engagement. Then, we present our key findings to the client with our recommendations and a full outline of the brand narrative. This is then used as the bedrock for the subsequent creative design process.
Devising the core thought
Using everything we have learnt about the brand we will then devise the brand’s core thought.
The core thought is the most succinct articulation of an organisation’s unique positioning. This is articulated in a simple sentence or a short paragraph and is used to create an original and compelling strapline that key audiences can engage with. This will invariably appear alongside the company logo.
Designing the brand logo
At this stage, we have a very clear view of the brand’s unique positioning. So we are now able to create logo designs that reflects the true essence of the brand. This is a very creative stage where incredible amounts of ideas can be generated.
Creating the ‘look and feel’
We then design the visual creative environment – or how a brand communicates on and offline. This will reflect the essence of the brand including elements such as the style of images, colour, typography and tone of voice.
Producing the guidelines
Once the new logo and ‘look and feel’ is developed, clear brand guidelines need to be created, ensuring all parties develop communications collateral that is effective and consistent. A typical brand identity is composed of a number of graphic elements that come together to create a distinctive brand. The brand guidelines will explain how these elements should be applied. Used properly, these guidelines will help create far more engaging brand communications that truly reflects the brand and it’s values.
At Westgate, we have a long track-record in carrying out rebranding exercises so if you are looking for a new brand or simply a brand refresh that will create real commercial impact, please do not hesitate to get in touch with myself or one of the creative team here.