“If we can be born, survive and thrive in that economic climate, then the future should get easier.”
These words were said by Fugu’s founder, Vicki, in a recent article in The Argus and it’s the subject of this blog.
Fugu PR has been given the chance to reflect on the business. With our article in The Argus, we have taken a look back over the past two years and seen how the PR industry and business in our home of Brighton has changed.
With a focus on digital PR, we have managed to survive the difficulties of the current economy. Brighton offers a huge amount of digital power, from hosting the Brighton Digital Festival, to being the home of brilliant digital agencies such as Pure360 and Crunch (also wonderful Fugu PR clients).
Our work ethic is to create a buzz with a straight-forward, personal approach. Today, money is limited and jobs are scarce. In order to maximise the potential of a PR campaign, you have to work to your advantages. Brighton thrives on community spirit, and this is where being based in Brighton benefits our company.
The location of our office, in central Brighton, means we can easily meet up with local clients, build a relationship with new clients and network with Brighton based companies. It’s also a short journey to our clients outside of this city, with our London clients less than an hour away by train.
We work closely with local publications, such as The Argus and other Brighton magazines, to ensure local companies are seen and local events are well supported.
Being based only an hour away from London means we have strong relationships with key social media, businesses and organisations in the capital.
If you read the article in The Argus, you will have learnt we started only two years ago – But in that time we have doubled our staff size, built up and secured strong clientele and are expanding rapidly (with three new clients signed up in the past month). We’ll be looking to recruit again soon!
We are revamping the website, working on new client campaigns and building our social media strategies to move with these challenging and changing times, taking it all in our stride and boosting the business as we go along.
So, although the news tells us of troubled times, there are some instances where a silver lining does exist. If you play to your advantages, you could strike gold (or silver, to match the pun).
National Freelancer Day, flexible working and a good cup of coffee
Here at Fugu, we recently celebrated National Freelancer Day on 23 November.
We’ve been working alongside the PCG and Freelance Adviser to deliver research on how freelancing has changed, how the self-employed feel about their work and what their advice would be for others taking the plunge.
Apart from stats revealing a 12% increase in UK freelancing (with a 25% rise amongst women) – surprisingly, coffee and Twitter are considered more important to freelancers than a smart phone! Local business networks with a support infrastructure also play a vital role, for men more so than women (see all our full, light hearted research here.)
Being Brighton-based, where freelancing is double the national average, we feel pretty privileged to be part of a community with a thriving local support network.
Brighton is a place of makers and do-ers. Collaborations are constant and ideas will always be heard. Organisations like Wired Sussex and Brighton Chambers of Commerce, as well as networking events like The Farm and Glug offer great opportunities to get to know fellow freelancers, creatives and business people. All in all, we like Brighton. A lot.
Away from our biased opinions, you can have a look for yourself how the evening panned out (with free tipple to boot), here.
If you were further afield, we hope you had a very merry National Freelancer Day, but if you’re still on the freelancing fence, have a gander at this from Creative Boom. Or this, from Freelance Adviser.
A Dystopian Future? Well not entirely
Somewhere back in the twentieth century, there was a rather pessimistic view of the future. It was a future in which mankind was suppressed and controlled. Controlled through big government and fear. Controlled through drugs and sedation. Or controlled through scary man eating plants. And whilst there is much to suggest that a number of these prophecies are coming to pass, one thing we do seem to be moving further away from is the control of data and ideas.
Thanks to the Open Data / Open Source movements, which are rapidly gathering pace worldwide, there is a vast well of useful information which is about to be dragged to the surface. This will leave us with buckets of really useful data. Data on public services, council data, crime data, healthcare data, school data, ordnance survey data. Buckets of data, swimming pools of data, lakes, seas. Help. I am drowning.
It’s another dystopian nightmare.
Only it isn’t, because there are people already helping to make this data accessible. There are people designing websites and apps. There are people meeting this week in Brighton to discuss how to use this data (http://www.meetup.com/Open-data-Brighton-and-Hove/). There are people announcing Britain’s first ever open data conference (http://opendatacities.wordpress.com/). And soon, when you want to find out about school catchment areas or local crime statistics it will all be there, just a mouse click away. So let’s turn on the data tap and go for a swim.
(……goodness it’s exhausting work laboring a metaphor. I’m off to find some sedatives and watch an episode of Big Brother.)
by the blowfish
Are we boutique?
Boutique n. a shop. esp. small one selling fashionable clothes and other items.
Well at least that’s what it says in our dusty old Collins Dictionary. But according to last week’s article in PR Week (senior agency bosses go it alone) it can now include any small PR agency (or hotel or niche manufacturing site – see Wikipedia). So I guess we are boutique after all.
But let’s check the key points from the article. We have ‘branched out on our own’. Tick. We are ‘small’. Tick. We…… oh, actually that does really seem to be it. So we are definitely ’boutique’… yes, and we think we are ‘strategic’ and ‘targeted’ too. (And ‘evolving’ and ‘sustainable’ whilst we are at it.)
Seriously though, platitudes aside – there’s an inherent truth here. This is that the industry is changing. Large expensive agencies with huge overheads are selling reassurance and kudos, but little else. And with more clients having their own in-house teams with a core skill base, there is an increasing need for consultancy, mentoring and guidance. It might sound obvious, but client’s needs and circumstances can vary wildly, and tailoring each and every campaign is key.
And as for being ’boutique’, if we really are going to turn the communications industry on its head and change people’s perceptions of PR, then surely it’s phrases like this that we need to cut. Politicians make much of straight talking – everyone is now media savvy and tired of management speak. So let’s get to the point. We have branched out on our own. We think we do a good job. But in the end that is only for our customers to decide.
by the blowfish
Brighton Digital Festival
Cinema, art and improving reality
This summer has been a very exciting time at Fugu. We have been working as part of the Brighton Digital Festival team, celebrating digital culture with exhibitions, performances and conferences across the city.
A truly collaborative effort, it’s been fantastic to see the digital community come together in such a wide range of events and creating a buzz, which has been widely reported nationally.
A particular highlight for us was being invited to take part in Blast Theory’s locative cinema event, A Machine To See With. A combination of psychology and scripted narrative (in the form of a voice on the other end of our mobile phone) we found ourselves playing out the plot of a bank robbery on the streets of Brighton. Treating every passer by with increasing suspicion, locking ourselves into toilets and getting into mysterious cars – the game ultimately tapped into realising the decisions we would make in the face of high pressure moral dilemmas.
Blast Theory co-founder Matt Adams explained A Machine To See With in more detail at Improving Reality, a one-day conference organised by digital art agency, Lighthouse, by quoting author Chris Hedges. He says in The Empire of Illusion: “We try to see ourselves moving through our life as a camera would see us, mindful of how we hold ourselves, how we dress, what we say. We invent movies that play in our heads.”
The Beyond Cinema session which Matt presented, looked at how artists and film-makers are shifting our ideas about what cinema can be – not only how audiences are immersed into cinema, but the ways in which cinema can exit the screen and enter reality itself.
It really has been great to see so many fascinating and inspiring uses of technology in a cultural framework. Hats off to Lighthouse and all those involved, including the team at The Dome and Arts Council England. We can’t wait for next year.
RESI 2011 conference welcomes speech from Eric Pickles MP
Fugu PR is enjoying the debate and press office action at the RESI conference in Newport.
Housing and property leaders have gathered here today at the annual RESI conference, where Eric Pickles MP spoke this morning to the housebuilding and residential property community. Core to his keynote speech was the localism agenda and his support of sustainable development. The main message was, in his words: “We want Britain building again.”
When asked about the controversy surrounding the government’s proposals and the reaction from the media, he said: “Localism is here to stay.”
Key leaders in banking, investment and property, as well as those from local authorities, policy and development are attending the two-day conference in Newport, to discuss how the key issues facing the residential property sector.
Timing of the conference comes as house prices hit a two year low, according to the latest report from the Chartered Institute of Chartered Surveyors. Research from a recent RESI survey also suggests that an estimated 3 million people and a third of homeowners are delaying moving because of job instability and a lack of suitable homes.
Today’s presence of Eric Pickles at RESI has confirmed the government’s ongoing support of the localism agenda and that he wants to work “with the market; not against the market.”
With the full localism and green bills yet to be announced, only time will tell how this political storm will conclude.
Day Four at The Gadget Show Live
It is Day Four of the Gadget Show Live. Our Press Office is in full swing. The exhibitors are excited. They come in and tell us they have to order new stock.
‘It’s like trading at Christmas,’ they say. ‘We are completely sold out.’
Other people are excited too. They come in and ask us for Super Theatre Tickets. They come in and ask us for interviews with the stars. They come in and talk to us and tell us things. Lots of people ask for water. Lots of people need a cup of tea.
Tomorrow there are 16 Daleks turning up. They send us lots of e-mails to check on things.
‘We need lots of water,’ they say. ‘We get terribly hot.’
We look around the press office. We have two empty bottles, one cup and access to a tap that no-one seems to trust.
We make a list of all the things we have been asked for. One of us drives out to find a supermarket and buys…..
Sixty bottles of water
Twelve cans of coke
Twelve cans of diet coke
Lots of fruit
A flower pot (because we couldn’t find a fruit bowl)
Lots of Nuts
A packet of oat cakes
Some Hummus and cheese
Some micro gauze tape
We then try and get these things back to the Press Office. We want to drive the car up as close as possible. We have a lot of water to carry. This involves lots of discussions with security. We produce lots of different passes. There is a lot of head shaking. Traffic builds up behind us. We make some phone calls. We talk to lots of people. And finally, begrudgingly, they let us back in.
The day before the Gadget Show Live 2011
It is the day before the Gadget Show Live 2011. The car is full of equipment. We squeeze ourselves in between the printers and suitcases – is this too much? Probably not, we will we be gone for seven days.
As we leave Brighton, the sun is shining. We are happy and excited. We have three hours of Motorway ahead of us. The NEC awaits.
The phones ring, a lot. The car is full of different conversations. Press want last minute passes, exhibitors want access to presenters, Daybreak want to film at 5.30 Wednesday morning.
‘Of course!,’ We say. ‘No problem!’
We arrive at the exhibition
halls. They are buzzing with activity. Stands are being erected, carpets are being laid, kit is being wired in, screens are flickering to life wherever we look. Everywhere there are people; talking, walking, running.
We start to set up the press office. We talk to logistics.
‘Daybreak want to film at 5.30 Wednesday morning,’ we say.
‘Mmmmmmm.’ They say. ‘That will be a problem.’
We split up. Some of us continue with the press office. Some of us join the people running. We run to get keys and passes. We run between the organisers and security. And, when we finally get permission to open the halls three hours early on Wednesday morning, we run around speaking to the exhibitors – persuading them to join us on breakfast TV.
It is now after 10pm and the halls are closing. We haven’t eaten all day or had a cup of tea. There is cold pizza in the organiser’s office. We go back to the hotel, everyone is drinking and laughing. It is the start of the week, tomorrow is press day and we think we can already feel the scurvy setting in.
And the moral? We think there are two…
It IS possible to persuade security to open the halls early for Daybreak.
And always bring lots of fruit.
Fugu on… Gadgets
So, with The Gadget Show Live only now only days away, we’ve been pondering over the effect gadgets have had on our lives, how they’ve adapted over time and coped with recent economic knock backs.
Thought I’d share a few different trails of thought and see what happens at the other end… see you there.
Recession proof gadgets
Last month saw the launch of two key players in the gaming world. The Nintendo 3DS (I’m still dumbfounded by how 3D made SUCH a comeback) and of course, the iPad2.
The first hungry camper in line for an iPad2 had been outside the front door for 23 hours, with thousands of fans behind him taking up a fair amount of pavement for the next few hundred metres.
But days after the Chancellor’s budget announcement (as well as The Gadget Show Live 2011 selling out within 12 weeks), why are Brits still gaga for gadgets? (University based trails of religion, identity and consumer culture will try to be avoided).
A recent article by James Harkin of the i newspaper (who would have thought this little letter would have taken over in so many ways), points to the development of mere customers into loyal fans. Apple has certainly been the biggest player here, having developed and played on the ‘them’ and ‘us’ notion, with Microsoft.
Even though Kinect was the fastest selling gadget ever, with 2010 being Microsoft’s best year yet, when it comes to actually connecting with their followers, Apple is streets ahead. They’re leading on how we connect with others, listen to music and access information.
For the most part, it seems that although the desire for gadgets is safe, the retailers are certainly not. The phenomena of online shopping, giving consumers endless options and choice, is paving a new digital road for our high streets.
The new retailers, or the ‘cathedrals of commerce’ as Harkin puts it, will be replaced with ‘house churches’, each organized around a cultish following.’
Is there room here for a mention on gender? Generally, why are males more prone to gadgets than women? I thought long and hard about this. Read a few blogs. Ignored the ones that concluded ‘because we’re just built that way.’ Partially convinced by mentions of modern day tools, dare I mention power and conquering new technology. Rather unsurprising really, when I discovered that women influence 80% of consumer electronics purchases.
Need I say more?
Well one more. The Fugu team will be heading up to Birmingham’s NEC next Monday 11 April for a week at The Gadget Show Live 2011. Public dates kick off on Wednesday 13 April. Press and trade day is Tuesday. 100,000 people are expected this year and more than 500 press. Do look out for it on TV, radio and online. Full day tickets are sold out, but there are still some afternoon tickets available, so head to www.gadgetshowlive.net and pop into the press office to say hello!
We’ve selected our name and launched our new agency. We’ve found a larger office and today launch our new website. Oh, and we’ve got a few more clients to boot. It really has been quite busy.
And why Fugu indeed? Well, for starters the URL was available (this is not as flippant a statement as you might think). It’s easy to remember (for us at least!) and it provides us with a handy metaphor – if you don’t plan and prepare your PR strategy well, any campaign could come back and kill you!
Our aim is to offer something a bit different. We have really looked hard at the needs of a modern business and the constraints in which it must operate. We’re not your typical agency, lumbering along doing the same old thing on a hefty retainer. We keep overheads low, but skills high by tailoring experienced PR teams with individually created plans for each campaign, maintaining flexibility throughout. So you’ll only be paying for the services we deliver.
And look at our great new website (hats off to Sarah at Little Seed Design who has somehow managed to distill so many opinions into one coherent site). Alchemy indeed! We intend to keep live and relevant, so do come back to find out what we are up to.
These words were said by Fugu’s founder, Vicki, in a [...]
Here at Fugu, we recently celebrated National Freelancer Day on [...]
Somewhere back in the twentieth century, there was a rather [...]
Boutique n. a shop. esp. small one selling fashionable clothes [...]
Cinema, art and improving reality This summer has been a [...]
Fugu PR is enjoying the debate and press office action [...]
It is Day Four of the Gadget Show Live. Our [...]
It is the day before the Gadget Show Live 2011. [...]
So, with The Gadget Show Live only now only days [...]
We’ve selected our name and launched our new agency. We’ve [...]