Facebook at Work: Mixing business with pleasure

It’s been on the cards since January, but Facebook has just announced that ‘Facebook at Work’ will soon be launched. This will see the popular social media platform support our professional networking requirements and help us keep in touch with work colleagues.


You’re probably thinking the same as me: doesn’t LinkedIn already offer the same service? With over 300 million registered users, LinkedIn is a well-established social media site for professional networking. Facebook will therefore have a job on its hands trying to win some of LinkedIn’s market share. However, there is something that could support Facebook at Work’s success. Some of us may enjoy the convenience of having our personal and professional networking on one platform, in which we could simply ‘switch’ from one to another. But judging by the amount of social media sites that are used every day, we surely like to have different platforms for different things? When we want to share a picture, we’re more likely to turn to Instagram. When we want to share some news, we’re more likely to turn to Twitter. Does anyone actually want to mix business with pleasure with Facebook at Work?


Facebook evolving in this way raises another point. Some critics have noted that Facebook is no longer cool and that teenagers are beginning to use other social media sites to escape from the same one that their parents use. As Facebook introduces a professional networking platform, it appears that it is evolving as its users grow up too. An older audience could be something that supports Facebook at Work’s success, as the social media site now appeals to more generations and therefore more professional people.


As a B2B PR agency, we like to consider the changing face of social media, and how its uses and audiences can change over time. Do you like the sound of your Facebook account featuring your professional life too? Or will you stay loyal to LinkedIn?


Alex Brown has just started his career at Skout PR and will be a regular contributor to the Skout blog.

Two down… three Skouts to go!

And Skout’s 5 year celebrations continue! We’ve started a series of blogs in which our team tells you 5 things you never knew about them. Now it’s my turn to enlighten you with some interesting truths about myself…

  1. I can sing all of the colours that are on Joseph’s Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. Sometimes what you learn for a school play stays with you for life.
  2. Have you seen Mr Bean wiggle his ears without touching them? Well, I can do that too.
  3. Call me deformed, but one of my nipples is higher than the other. This was unbeknownst to me until I was about 13 and saw my reflection in a hotel room mirror. I was thrilled to learn I now had a party trick.
  4. I’m 6 foot 4. There aren’t many people I pass on the street who are taller than me. I come in useful whenever the short people in my life need something from the top shelf.
  5. I wear odd socks every day without fail. I’ve been doing it for so long that I now automatically pair clean socks oddly. And countless times I’ve been asked ‘Do you have a pair like that at home?’

Alex Brown has just started his career at Skout PR and will be a regular contributor to the Skout blog.

Who’s rich in our region?

Let’s face it: we’re a nation of nosey parkers. Most of us Brits would be lying if we said we weren’t interested in how much people earn. Luckily, we have the Sunday Times Rich List to feed our obsession, and last weekend saw 2015’s edition published. Like every year, the list was dominated by prosperous entrepreneurs, and as a B2B PR agency based in the North West, we were keen to see how many in this year’s list began their business journey in our region.

The property mogul behind MediaCityUK, John Whittaker, hit number 43 on the list and is revealed to be worth a whopping £2,370m. Owner of The Peel Group, Whittaker has spent the last four decades acquiring and developing some of the most iconic sites in the North West, from the Manchester Ship Canal to the Trafford Centre.

Success stories have shown that starting a retail business can be a lucrative move, and the North West is no exception. The Morris family who established Home Bargains in Liverpool are positioned at number 46 in the list, worth £2,250m. The founders of Blackpool’s B&M, the Aurora brothers are at number 52 in the list, worth £1,750m. Both of these families have increased in wealth, so clearly our bargain-loving nation has helped these discount retailers trickle their way throughout the UK and go from strength to strength.

The founders of one of the North West’s most treasured brands, Warburtons too have a higher fortune than last year and are placed at number 206 in the list, worth £530m. It’s nice to see that our region is appearing to stay loyal to the famous bread firm.

So the Sunday Times Rich List points to the North West as an ideal place for a business to start on its path to success. As the government invests more money throughout the north under the Northern Powerhouse scheme, maybe more entrepreneurs will feel more encouraged to set up businesses in our region?

Alex Brown has just started his career at Skout PR and will be a regular contributor to the Skout blog.

The changing face of news delivery

Facebook’s not showing any signs of slowing down according to an article I’ve just read on Tech Radar. Currently, news content is shared on Facebook via links, and users have to visit an external site to read it. But the social media site is reportedly in talks with some media outlets to host news content within the site. This would mean us not having to leave Facebook to read about world affairs, as the site would have its own dedicated news section.

I may be among the masses to blame for Facebook’s potential new move. PR Daily has reported that 88% of millennials use Facebook as a news source, suggesting that news consumption over social media could become more prevalent as time progresses. Not only that, the future could see social media in charge of their own news outlets.

Of course, news dispersed over social media can receive comments, likes and shares just the same as a status update. As the article in PR Daily points out, the amount of interaction news content receives is partly how social media users judge news items to be reliable. It’s probably safe to say that we also use the amount of interaction it receives as a way of judging whether it’s worth viewing. We’re all more likely to click on a story that receives a high number of comments. If news becomes integrated into social media, perhaps the likes of Facebook will tell us themselves what news stories we should view based on its interaction. Might social media become the judge of what is interesting news and recommend news items to us?

As a B2B PR agency, we like to consider the changing face of how news is delivered. News has become a key activity over social media and may soon become a subsection of it. With more and more of us accessing the news via our handheld devices, could searching for the headlines via social media channels stop us looking for it elsewhere?

Alex Brown has just started his career at Skout PR and will be a regular contributor to the Skout blog.

This is our PRmoment!

We’ve got something to smile about here at Skout…

In busy months like this, we’re especially pleased to be rewarded for our hard work. So you can imagine how delighted we were to discover that we’ve made the shortlist for Small Agency of the Year in the PRmoment Awards 2015!

Formerly known as the Golden Hedgehog Awards, the PRmoment Awards recognises all aspects of PR carried out by in-house comms and PR agencies like us. Now in its third year, the ceremony has quickly become a key date in the PR realm. We were keen to showcase what we’ve achieved and the date of this year’s ceremony has been circled on our calendar for a while, so we’re delighted to receive a nomination.

Having been nominated in the North shortlist, we’re looking forward to rubbing shoulders again with other leading PR pros from right across Scotland, Northern Ireland and Northern England. The category we’re part of, sponsored by Prospect, features several Manchester PR agencies and others throughout the north.

With an award from the PRide Awards 2013 already in our trophy cabinet, we’d love to add to this and make ourselves proud – it’s stiff competition though! Getting gold for the PRmoment Awards would the cherry on top of a successful year of business at Skout.

So, with the cocktail dress discussions on the office starting already, roll on March when we look forward to a glitzy ceremony at the Hilton, Manchester.

Alex Brown has just started his career at Skout PR and will be a regular contributor to the Skout blog.

Coverage of the Month!

We’re delighted to announce the November winner of Skout’s new coveted Coverage of the Month Award! This month it goes to our client Wax Digital, for its front page cover story in Supply Chain Digital, announcing the impending arrival of a wearable technology solution for procurement.

At the end of every month the team here at Skout will be nominating the best media coverage, content, stories and results for our clients and choosing the most worthy winner.

This story demonstrates a great way of using Natural B2B PR creatively to bring a relatively standard subject out of the shadows. When Wax Digital developed the world’s first wearable purchasing application for use with Google Glass, a combination of targeted and well-timed pitching, great photography, video content and interview time with Wax’s CTO was used to ensure this piece had the depth required to make the grade. Wax’s new solution also stole the show at eWorld Purchasing & Supply where their stand was rammed with media and delegates eager to try out the new technology.

Coverage was also seen in IT PRO Portal, Supply Management and Spend Matters to name a few.

Well done Wax!

Rob Skinner is Skout PR’s MD and has been working in B2B and Tech PR agencies for over 20 years.

Why Greggs’ social media team is anything but half baked

This week’s logo hack on Greggs once more highlights the power of social media in handling communication crises. And for once shows a brand getting it right. Greggs – the beloved purveyor of the ultimate hangover food, sausage rolls and steak bakes – was the victim of Google’s arbitrary algorithms on Tuesday.

Normally when searching for a company or brand, Google compiles a brief biography of stats that appears on the right hand side of your screen. This includes information such as head office location, number of employees, CEO name and of course a logo. It uses clever automated instructions to do this. No humans are involved. On Tuesday, those who googled Greggs were greeted by the strapline “Greggs – Providing sh*t to scum for over 70 years’. Obviously this isn’t the official logo but Google’s algorithms are unable to work that out.

As soon as Twitter caught on to Greggs logo rebrand it started to spread like wildfire (or virally as we like to say in the business) with users urging each other to google Greggs. Yet rather than hiding behind an ‘official’ response, Greggs’ social media team taught the rest of the communications world a lesson in how to handle a crisis – they were human. What followed was an afternoon of banter between Greggs and twitter, with GoogleUK even joining in at one point.

Greggs Twitter feed featured a tray full of tempting doughnuts and read: Hey @GoogleUK, fix it and they’re yours!!! #FixGreggs.

Google responded saying that if Greggs threw in a sausage roll as well, then they’d fix it double quick. Greggs shot back with a picture of a tray full of sausage rolls cleverly arranged to spell out Google.

We recently discussed the problems associated with handling a crisis publicly over twitter here in a blog. In this instance the outcome was very different, with Twitter providing a platform to snowball criticisms of the customer service fail. So what’s different? Perhaps it was Greggs’ social media teams ability to tap into British humour or pehaps it was because Greggs itself wasn’t actually at fault. Either way we just hope that whoever was handling the twitter feed that day got a pay rise or at least a cheese and onion pasty.

By Claire Lamb

Going for gold!

It’s always nice to come back to work after a holiday to some fabulous news, so I was delighted to hear on my return from sunny Cornwall that Skout was in the running for another CIPR North West PRide Award.

We’ve been shortlisted for the second time in the ‘Outstanding small consultancy’ category. Last year we were delighted to be named Silver winner and it would be great to add another accolade to the Skout trophy cabinet.

The awards recognise and reward the inspirational work of leading public relations teams and consultancies in nine UK regions. From small agencies to corporate communications teams, the PRide Awards celebrate the best talent that PR agencies in the UK has to offer.

Winning a PRide Award is an opportunity to showcase your work to employers and clients and demonstrates a consultancy’s commitment to excellence and best practice. The awards are sponsored nationally by Precise and PR Week and they receive entries from freelancers, consultancies and in-house teams across 12 UK regions and nations. The judging process is rigorous with a national panel of industry experts assessing the shortlisted entries and selecting the silver and gold winners.

The winner of each award in the North West will be announced at a ceremony in Manchester later this year. May the best outstanding small consultancy win!

How much is an award really worth?

Thanks to the unpredictable nature of the English weather the Skout team’s bank holiday plans were disrupted by dark skies and heavy rain. Whilst bemoaning our northern roots, other areas of the UK were treated to some basking sunshine, oh, and some bizarre world record attempts.

In Penzance, thousands of people gathered wearing pirate fancy dress to try and break the Guinness World Record for the most number of pirates in one place. A count (who actually has time to do this?) confirmed that they were 14,154 pirates, 77 short of a new world record – shame. There was similar heartache at a family fun day in Hertfordshire as ‘Burper King’ Paul Hunn failed to beat his previous record for the world’s largest belch of 109.9 decibels.

As a B2B PR agency we regularly research, write and submit winning award entries for our clients. While none of them involve us having to wear fancy dress (sadly) or belching (fortunately), given the multitude of business accolades that are available we are often asked ‘how much is an award really worth?’

Entering business awards can be a time-consuming and (potentially) expensive process. Unlike the Oscars no organiser will accept an award on your behalf if you unwilling to purchase a table to attend the awards ceremony. It’s important then to choose awards containing categories that are appropriate to your business and ones where you actually have a chance of winning.

Before submitting your award entry, picture yourself as a member of the judging panel. Is your new technology, product or service truly innovative? Can you really display tangible and credible evidence that you have saved your customers time and money? Do you have written and approved testimonials to support this? Be wary of making any outlandish claims that you are unable to substantiate. Most credible awards require businesses to provide further supporting information in the event that they are shortlisted.

Get it right though and winning awards can help to differentiate your business from your competitors, inject fresh impetus into your marketing campaigns and impress even the most sceptical of customers. Awards can also help to generate welcome publicity to raise your business’s profile and boost morale amongst your employees.

Don’t be like ‘Burper King’ Paul Hunn and just enter awards for the sake of it. If you want to make some proper ‘noise’ for your business, it’s worth taking the time to research which awards are really worth applying for and which ones you should give a miss. The taste of success will be so much sweeter if you do.

Customers speak volumes

As you’ll have seen from this recent post I’m the newest member of the Skout team. My B2B PR and marketing communications experience spans 14 years, the last seven of which have been specifically spent in tech PR. I’ve previously worked for a range of healthcare and business management software and IT services providers. During this time I’ve been fortunate enough to witness the B2B tech industry evolve massively, driven largely by the proliferation of innovative cloud, mobile and collaborative solutions which offer businesses increased flexibility and agility, particularly when delivered as a managed service.

Irrespective of whether your company is a technological trailblazer or not, your strongest PR stories can often be sourced from the lifeblood of your business – your customers.  A pioneering new product or service, a significant new business win or further investment and growth, will typically generate interest if selectively targeted at relevant media. However, to maximise column inches and keep your name at the forefront of a journalist’s mind, it’s vital to engage your customers to support your PR and reference activity wherever possible. After all, the media really love to hear what the organ grinder has to say, as well as the monkey (so to speak).

As is the case when you start a new job, old colleagues say to keep in touch. It’s a time to be thinking about the past as well as the future. So it was timely that earlier this week I received an invitation from FriendsReunited, one of the inaugural social networking sites that briefly led the way in the early 00s until it was swiftly overtaken by Facebook, and in more recent times Twitter and LinkedIn. FriendsReunited is being re-launched with the site’s original founders, Steve and Julie Pankhurst and their friend Jason Porter, back at the helm. Given today’s plethora of social mediums, it seems inconceivable that FriendsReunited will be able to rise from the ashes. Despite this, I decided to put my scepticism to one side and was surprised by what I discovered when I logged on for the first time in years.

Old school friends, university drinking partners and ex-colleagues who I am no longer ‘connected’ with served as a reminder of some memorable stories and achievements which I had forgotten about. Just like these ‘old friends’, your existing customers can be the source of many anecdotes and experiences that although passed, could inject fresh impetus into raising your company’s profile through the use of powerful PR. In a previous blog we discussed how to use your business back story to promote your business, reflecting on ‘where it all began’ and what happened along the way. It’s a worthy exercise, and one you should also consider when talking to your customers about improved efficiency or productivity gains.

How much time and money have your customers saved as a direct result of implementing your solutions and services? Have you played a part in assisting their growth, or served as a catalyst for aiding their recovery during the challenging economy? Have you taken them through several periods of technological change? If you haven’t already done so, now is the perfect time to ask them. You might uncover some hidden gems for stories that can quickly be turned into captivating press releases, case studies, blogs, opinions pieces or whitepapers.

This is just one aspect of what we call ‘Natural PR’ – if you’re interested in finding out more our new Natural PR guide could be a good place to start.

– Ben