Are you a seriously creative Graphic Designer? We want you!

Are you seriously creative? If you’re a graphic designer with fresh ideas, a love for creating design that works hard and a passion for bringing ideas to life, we want to hear from you.

At O we don’t do average, we create outstanding work for our clients across the UK. Our people are the best in class and the right person will be part of a growing design studio, within one of the most awarded agencies in the North.

Your role would involve:

  • Working on creative design projects for print and digital campaigns for our broad client base
  • Researching clients and sectors to gain a better understanding for creative concepts
  • Working collaboratively with our Head of Design and Creative Director to create concepts and campaigns that excite our clients
  • Creating assets for digital and print campaigns, including, but not exclusively:
    • Social media cards and graphics
    • Banner stands and conference / show collateral
    • Marketing literature including leaflets and posters
    • Presentation decks
  • Interpreting and understanding a brief to take a project from concept to completion
  • Liaising with suppliers to gather print quotes for best price and quality
  • Presenting ideas internally to account teams and gathering feedback
  • Experience of photography would be desirable

 

O people like to have fun, keep healthy and enjoy being great at their jobs. Our culture guardian makes sure we recruit and retain “O People” by making O a great place to work.

Think you’re up for the challenge? Impress us with your creativity and send us your CV and online portfolio to opportunities@opr.co.uk or drop off some examples of your work, we don’t bite!

 

 

SCIENCE OR CREATIVITY – WHICH IS MORE IMPORTANT?

Traditionally people are seen as being artistic or scientific, rarely both. The North East has a long history of science and innovation, including the creation of ‘The Rocket’, the Geordie Lamp, the safety match and the lightbulb, as well as a rich tapestry of art and culture such as fine art and film making.

Our region’s heritage has been forged by scientific innovation and currently more than one in five people in the region are employed in science and technology, according the Office of National Statistics. Newcastle in particular is home to a large range of companies in the science sector, employing highly skilled people – especially in the life sciences and healthcare sector thanks to the Centre for Life, the world class medical school at Newcastle University and innovative businesses such as Proctor and Gamble.

Despite drastic cuts to the arts sector in the last decade, the North East’s culture sector is thriving. The Great Exhibition of the North brought record numbers of visitors to venues in the region in 2018. Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Sage Gateshead and Northern Stage are just some of the world-class cultural venues attracting major artists to the region.

The power of art comes from its ability to evoke powerful emotions in its audience. Art is not static; it pushes forward and reflects the feelings of the world in which is exists. There is something which intrinsically links science and art together. Creativity. It is only by bringing the two together that we can truly innovate and continue to put the region on the map as a hot spot for pushing innovative boundaries.

Not everyone considers themselves to be creative, nor does every industry, but to some extent we should all try to instil a creative spirit in the way we do business. A creative mindset also increases resilience and allows us to rationalise taking risks, which are essential characteristics for individuals to lead boldly. Afterall, a breakthrough never came from acting on caution.

A common dismissal is that it comes naturally and because we’re not all born ‘arty’, that’s how we’ll keep it. Instead it’s much more refreshing to look at creativity as a skill which can be developed, just like our other professional expertise and personal attributes.

At O we believe in being seriously creative. Design and creative strategy truly adds value to the world when it is used to solve a bigger problem. By working with artists and creatives, science and business can gain a fresh perspective on a problem and look at how to approach it from a new direction.

This article is taken from our latest Homegrown magazine which explores creativity, what it means to us, to businesses, brands and business leaders. If you’d like a copy , contact kirsty@opr.co.uk

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99 PROBLEMS BUT A PITCH AIN’T ONE

Corporate seminar for tech entrepreneurs in auditorium. Unidentifiable audience participants in development workshop. Executive manager giving speech at symposium. Business training at university lecture hall.

99 problems but a pitch ain’t one

Finding a like-minded, trustworthy creative agency is like picking a partner for marriage – you and your agency will be investing equally in each other and ideally, you both want the relationship to stand the test of time.

Jeopardising the outcome of the entire process by ruling out potential candidates because they aren’t – in the words of Love Island cohorts – ‘your type on paper’ means you have to think beyond first impressions about your perfect agency match.

So to ensure you get the chemistry right, we suggest following our roadmap to help you find the perfect  creative agency match:

Identifying your need – Whether it’s an advertising, PR, communications or design agency that you’re seeking, the first question you must ask yourself is “what do we want to achieve?” before deciding which service you need and where to search for an agency. Make the main objective for your brief as SMART as you can – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.

Approaching agencies – start your research online and look at agency case studies as well as their social media profiles to get a feel for their approach and culture. Then get in touch to ask them to supply creds of their experience.

The audition – Match-making is as much about shared ethics as it is about chemistry. Before shortlisting your creative agency list to proposal or pitch stage, try to get out and visit up to eight of them on their home turf to meet their team.

Creating a brief – A good brief has restrictions yet leaves room for interpretation, and is straight-forward while asking enough of the agency. Build in enough time to allow for agency questions and to create a good quality response – a few working days will not get you the best they can do.

Awarding the contract – If you’re unsure don’t be afraid to ask questions after the pitches – if you loved everything about an agency apart from one solution they gave, do request an alternative solution equipped with hindsight.

Onboarding – To make your new-found partnership a fruitful one, it’s essential you are open and proactive right from the start. Hold up your end of the bargain by transferring knowledge and assets promptly, and making a point of contact readily available to manage the agency. Once you’re fully into the swing of working together, don’t become slack in setting KPIs and reviewing how things are going by building in clear and reasonable review points.

 

This article is taken from our latest Homegrown magazine which explores creativity, what it means to us, to businesses, brands and business leaders. If you’d like a copy , contact kirsty@opr.co.uk

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EMPLOYER BRAND – WHAT’S YOUR STORY?

High angle view of magnet attracting traffic on wooden table

Words by Kari Owers, Managing Director

It’s a war on talent out there, and whilst most businesses focus their effort on winning new customers, the real battle lies in attracting the best employees to help their business grow and be successful. Employer brand strategy takes the principles of marketing communications, but looks through the lens of recruitment and retention of people rather than customers.

At O we are specialists in brand storytelling, a strategy that works particularly well in an age of ‘social sourcing’, where your future hires are checking out your company online long before they decide to change jobs.

Recently our team held an Employer Brand workshop for the Entrepreneurs’ Forum on how to design a magnetic employer brand strategy.

 

So, what’s your story?

The power of social storytelling allows you to open up the doors of your company and let people in, to look around and meet your team, hear about your purpose and values and see what life might be like if they worked for you.

Getting this right requires creativity, and always starts within. We start by asking you to tell us your story, who started the company (and why), what has your journey been, where are you heading and how do your people shape that?

 

Social stories

If we take millennials as a key audience (apparently by 2025 they will make up 75% of the workforce), we need to understand where they find out about your company long before they apply for a job.

68% of millennials will check you out on social media, way before they even reach the carefully crafted job advert on your website or jobs board.

They will be looking for evidence of your purpose, career development opportunities, flexibility and a diverse workforce. Dubbed the ‘giving generation’ they are looking for somewhere they can really make a difference, and your company should evidence that you live and breathe these benefits.

 

Video

With so many opportunities to post content on social media, where do you start? By choosing the format that allows you both to tell a story and get the best ROI for your effort – video.

There’s a lot of inspiration out there – from telling the story of your people through their life story like the Netflix #SheRules campaign, to creating fun videos or initiatives that make you stand out like Brewdog’s puppy parental leave. Video marketing doesn’t need to cost the earth – but should always be creative in the story it tells and reflect your brand well.

 

Look inwards…

Your employees are absolutely your main channel for new recruits so look inwards rather than outwards when considering how you can grow your team – they have valuable peer-to-peer relationships which you can tap into which will help you significantly when it comes to recruitment.

Likewise, everyone is a publisher these days, so how can you harness this and use your employees and their connections to your advantage? Are you giving them a reason to post content about your business? How can you engage them to do this? This begins at the recruitment stage – does this employee even share the same values as you?

Just like any content marketing strategy a customer persona allows you to target the right message in the right place, so consider what ‘brand character’ your ideal employee is – what does this mean in terms of what their values, interests and lifestyle looks like?

Don’t just go by age when targeting messages, values-based personas help you create something they will care about and ideally like and share. You could even go as far as giving them a name, family, interests and imagined career pathway – it really helps you align your brand story with their life and passions.

Strong leadership and a clear direction of travel will ensure they feel they are on a journey with you, as will giving them their ‘share of voice’. Consider which parts of the business different people in your team could lead on independently, so they can help drive some of the journey for you – ideally an area they feel passionate about. A share of voice can be as simple as having a company blog which staff can contribute to, or contributing to your company’s social channels and the content you are putting out there.

 

Culture…

Culture, health and wellbeing are all buzzwords of the moment but they are so relevant in today’s workplace and job market and certainly non-negotiables for graduate job seekers.

Clear and consistent communication is essential; your people are your best advocates so make sure you understand what makes them tick! Spend time with them, listen to them and open yourself up for feedback – however formal or informal they need this to be – but be sure to act.

Giving your people ownership and autonomy will naturally give them a sense of pride in working for you and this can only have a positive impact on your customers, as will staff recognition, because if people are happy and succeeding in their work, why wouldn’t they sing the praises of their employer to the outside world? Here is where having a not-for-profit making purpose can play a key role, as will having a clear CSR strategy, which is increasingly becoming a non-negotiable for people moving into a new role. Are you giving your people something to share and be proud of?

MAKE YOUR MARK THIS BLACK FRIDAY

An informal name for the Friday after Thanksgiving in the USA, Black Friday has become an annual retail celebration of hot deals and widespread media coverage of shoppers fighting over televisions. Originally kicking off as a popular shopping event for Americans, the Black Friday phenomenon has reached us in the UK and we can’t get enough of seeking out the best sales on gadgets and popular brand names.

Both Black Friday and the following Cyber Monday offer retailers a real opportunity to maximise footfall in-store and online by offering customers outrageous discounts. The hype around Black Friday can even start at least a month before the main event, with shoppers seeking out the sales before the date is even here.

Black Friday

Whether you dabble in Black Friday as a customer or not, in the retail industry it is difficult to ignore that this is arguably up there with one of the most important events of the year. Each year it’s a battle of the shops as the likes of e-commerce giant Amazon goes head-to-head with the high street electrical retailers. That being said, it’s not all about the tech. This year Boots are even involved to save shoppers money on exclusive beauty products – a great opportunity for Christmas gift shopping.

But with these huge brands competing for the top spot this year – how can you really stand out from the crowd and do something a bit different? Backed with glittering creative campaigns, you’ll find the global retailers splashed across advertisements and social media posts. So how do you release your inner Amazon and bring the excitement to your products this year?

Whether you’re an independent retailer relying on Shopify, you have your own boutique store or you’re a high street favourite, the O retail communications experts are here to share some top tips for those looking to dazzle this Black Friday.

What’s the offer?

Everyone loves a deal but with so many stores competing for the best percentages off on Black Friday, why not ditch the BOGOF and launch an exclusive limited-edition product for one day only? Record Store Day is a perfect example of this – by intriguing customers with a product they can grab on one occasion only, you’re immediately adding a sense of excitement before shoppers have filled their shopping baskets, physical and virtual.

Make it an experience

We’ve learnt over the past few years that creating an experience for your customers is becoming more crucial than ever – everyone wants to feel something and it’s exciting to be physically part of something. Instead of focusing on the discounts, why not host an event to coincide with Black Friday and give your best customers the VIP treatment?

Consider in-store activities such as cosmetic demos or fashion shows accompanied with goodie bags and Instagrammable spots for social sharing.

Consider your CSR

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is extremely important nowadays and your customers want to see that you care about the same things they do. Consider getting a local charity or initiative involved to have a day where you match the profits made and donate the money to charity or give back in other ways such as work experience for job seekers or the homeless.

It’ll make your brand more relatable and your customers may even want to get involved.

Ditch Black Friday altogether

Love it or hate it, the promotion of Black Friday is unlikely to go away anytime soon. So why not be bold and throw a spanner in the works by doing something quirky on a completely different day?

Consider focusing on another date away from the competition of Black Friday and carve your own special date that’ll get people talking.

If you’re a retailer looking for support with your communications get in touch today for a chat on letstalk@opr.co.uk.

THE TODDLER POUND: HOW TO ATTRACT PRE-SCHOOLER FAMILIES TO YOUR VENUE

October half term is fast approaching which of course means entertaining the kids and spending is top of the agenda.

In a report published by The Independent last year it revealed that parents spend £2,600 a year entertaining their children and with the sheer volume of activities available and the venue options we have nowadays, that isn’t likely to change anytime soon.

So, with this amount being spent on a yearly basis, how do we attract families to spend with us? Especially those with toddlers who need entertaining 24/7 before joining school – how can you ensure that they are spending with you?

When engaging a family audience, school holidays are a primetime for footfall but we shouldn’t forget weekends. With so many people competing in the space to attract a family audience, how can we transform our communications to appeal to their needs rather than our own?

At O we’ve worked with clients in the travel and leisure sectors across the UK to increase footfall, raise brand awareness, promote experiential activities, shout about the best staycations – the list is endless! We know how busy the marketplace is and we’re often working with clients to think outside of the box to create fun campaigns that’ll appeal to families with all budgets.

One particular campaign we have worked on was with the Fun Shack Group, as Fun Shack announced its brand-new play area ‘Toon Town’ to its Benfield site. Aimed at families with children, Toon Town encourages role play and development within little ones.

The new zone includes a green grocer, a café, boutique clothes shop, pizzeria, pet store and even a fire station where children from 1-8 years can immerse themselves in each area, complete with dress ups and props.

We created a video to celebrate the Toon Town launch, recruiting 5 little ones and putting them in real life situations similar to that in Toon Town to highlight the new role play with a little bit of humour.

By partnering up with local businesses in Newcastle city centre such as Scream for Pizza and Byker Community Fire station, our toddler team re-enacted some of their daily routines – cuteness overload!

The video was used to promote a social media competition launching the new zone on Fun Shack’s channels which generated a huge buzz from excited parents.

Together with Fun Shack, we proved that a creative, playful video was the right approach to engage families and drum up interest about the new zone on social channels.

O is a creative communications agency based in Newcastle that works with clients across a range of industries including travel, leisure, hospitality and retail. If you are looking for some inspiration in engaging a family audience, why not drop us an email on letstalk@opr.co.uk.

ALL ABOUT THE GRAM: IT’S TIME TO EMBRACE ‘THE INSTAGRAM MOMENT’

This week we read about a newly launched Selfie Factory pop-up in London that has attracted thousands of social media fans looking for the perfect backdrop to feature on their Instagram and Snapchat selfies.

Built as a series of stylish room sets, a trip to the factory can cost from £9.99 an hour to £19.99 for a whole day, where you’re free to run around and take as many selfies as possible in backdrops from a 1950’s diner, to a bath tub filled with pink balls or a giant teddy bear.

The point is you take along lots of outfits and gather enough selfies to keep your social channels busy for months to come!

You don’t need whole room sets to make the most that “Instagram moment” however it is well worth thinking about creating installations at your venue to encourage social shares.

It doesn’t have to be as extravagant as you may think, it just needs to be something visual that’ll make people reach for their cameras. What would be your ideal backdrop? Would it be a something to make you look like you’re living it up in the Maldives or simply a prop to add something a bit different to your latest Instagram upload.

Whether it’s a bar in the city centre, a high street fashion store or a quiet corner of your visitor attraction, it almost feels like it should be a requirement to create something that’s worthy of the ‘gram. And don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and get a little creative.

Flower walls, giant photo frames, neon lighting, bright wall colours or murals, pop-up creatures or even a love-lock grid – the list is endless when it comes to ideas for incorporating a bit of selfie sparkle into your marketing mix.

Here are just a few recent examples of campaigns we’ve worked on where the “Instagram Moment” is at the heart of things.

  • Intu Metrocentre lovelock wall
  • Flymo Waterloo giant deckchairs
  • Seven Stories Elmer exhibition launch

So next time you’re planning a marketing campaign, a new venue launch or a PR stunt, embrace the ‘gram! You never know who’ll be snapping…

GET CREATIVE: STOP BEING AFRAID OF SILLY IDEAS

Words by Lauren Regan, creative director

We’ve all sat in creative meetings and thought “is my idea the worst idea in history”? Don’t be afraid of that thought – Embrace it!

If you’re facing creative brain freeze and your campaigns are stagnating, forget about “being cool”, lose your inhibitions and let your most ridiculous, big, hairy audacious ideas loose on the world. What’s the worst that can happen?

When you’re a grown up being silly can seem to be just well, silly! By embracing problems with a playfulness, you can take an ok idea and mould it into something which is really going to catch people’s attention.

If you have been in your role a while then chances are that you will revert back to your past experience, which is safe, solid and sensible. It’s also probably boring.

True innovation comes from being brave and accepting that we are going to fail 1000 times before we get it right. But that’s ok. Draw pictures, write daft copy, crumple things up, try them again and find inspiration in all of the silly ideas that have gone wrong before they ever made it off the drawing board. We’re working in a human industry and once we accept that we are fallible and no longer strive for perfection first time, you can open your mind to the idea that anything is possible.

Making mistakes is all part of the creative process. Benjamin Franklin once said “I haven’t failed, I’ve had 10,000 ideas that didn’t work”. Michael Jordan missed over 9000 shots in his career, lost over 300 games and 26 times he has been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. But that’s not why he is remembered – he’s celebrated for the shots that hit their target and he succeeded despite, and because of, the misses. No idea is going to be perfect first time and not every concept is going to make it through the net, but if you don’t put them out there then you will never know which way the game is going to go.

Don’t forget, it’s important to remember why you are being creative in the first place and avoid creativity just for the sake of it. Keep your business goal at the heart of any creative problem solving and your ideas will go from a pretty picture and some nice words, into a campaign capable of having real business impact.

At O we believe in being ‘seriously creative’ – addressing your business problems with imaginative approaches that are different enough to get your customers talking and taking action. Just because your problem is serious, doesn’t mean that it can’t be approached in a creative way; you never know, the silliest ideas might just solve your most serious problem.

BACK TO SCHOOL AND RETAIL: THE PERFECT TIME TO ENGAGE WITH AN AUDIENCE?

It’s that time of year again where every company you have ever heard of is donning an all-caps hashtag on their website. It’s #BacktoSchool time.

For many companies, especially in the retail sector, Back to School time is similar to Christmas. It’s a great time to push sales and increase engagement with customers because, at the end of the day, there will never be a shortage of children needing to get ready for the new academic year. For example, did you know that a survey conducted by marketing intelligence agency Mintel revealed that Brits collectively spent a total of £510 million on school uniforms in 2018?

Although the kids have returned to school this week – there’s still plenty of time to jump on the bandwagon and catch those last-minute shoppers.

Here’s our top four tips for those in the world of retail that are looking to stand out from the crowd this September.

THINK OUTSIDE OF THE BOX

It may seem like a bit of a redundant task – after all, the retail sector created #BacktoSchool but you might be surprised to see that it’s not just clothes manufacturers and stationery suppliers who can take advantage of this time of year.

Whether your brand is mainly targeting children and their parents or you’ve got an audience of young adults heading off to university, there’s plenty that can be done when you think outside of the box.

Experience-led activations instore can be a huge footfall driver and by getting your audience involved, you can even get direct feedback. Why not host a live ‘show and tell’ of some packed lunch recipes for busy mums or get students instore to create their perfect fresher’s survival kit?

MAKE IT RELEVANT

Once you’ve got a good understanding of the audiences you’re targeting in your #BacktoSchool campaign, it’s worth taking an introspective look at the specific products or services you want to push forward.

In theory, almost every brand out there has something that could be tied to the general #BacktoSchool trend, but what differentiates a campaign that resonates with the audience from one that is just a blatant sales pitch is good storytelling.

Appealing to stories about children leaving the nest to move in on their own for the first time at university, or little ones making their way to the first day of school – in other words, appealing to emotionally-charged moments in our lives – is a great way to relate to your customers in meaningful ways, whilst also being able to promote your products or services without seeming out of place.

REACH OUT TO THE APPROPRIATE INFLUENCERS

Many beauty, fashion & lifestyle YouTube influencers have come under public scrutiny in recent years for hopping on the #BacktoSchool wagon. Social media personalities who completed their education a while ago and are seen to recreate the ‘trendy’ school look have been dubbed as artificial and unrepresentative of current school regulations.

Similarly, well-established cosmetics brands have also been publicly called out for inaccurately linking their products to the #BacktoSchool trend, with critics questioning the morality of promoting makeup to schoolgirls.

Whilst influencer marketing is often seen as the golden ticket to massive engagement, not knowing which social media personalities to go to for in your campaign can be a faux-pas that costs millions.

Why not try a family blogger or student that’s currently at university and getting them to try out some products either at home or instore? Sometimes scaling down and looking for hyperlocal influencers with engaged audiences can make the world of difference.

PLAY THE ‘NEW BEGINNINGS’ CARD

If, after you’ve checked all of the above, you’re still unsure as to how you might link your campaign to #BacktoSchool, then there is one last trick you can pull.

September is generally known as a time for ‘new beginnings’ due to its academic ties so why not use this as your narrative? Whether you’re launching a brand-new product or you’ve got the essentials for going back to school nailed, crafting a story around this time of year can be beneficial as a promotional tool but also for getting an audience onboard that may be ready for a change in path.

O Communications is a creative communications agency based in Newcastle. If you’re looking for some strategic advice on creating a campaign that’ll get people talking, drop us an email on letstalk@opr.co.uk.

ARE CATS THE PURRFECT ADDITION TO YOUR MARKETING CAMPAIGN?

Author: Sammy Sadler

Cats are a bit marmite aren’t they? Nobody ever really admits to sitting on the fence about felines – you either love them or hate them. I sit firmly in the cat lover camp and nothing brings me more joy than illustrating my tweets with hilarious cat GIFs and it turns out that I’m not alone. So, in the spirit of International Cat Day, let’s have a look at why cats could be your marketing kryptonite.

Over the years there has been conflicting research on whether or not cats have taken over the internet, with some sources claiming that cat videos make up about 30 percent of all internet traffic, a stat which was disregarded in New York Museum exhibition ‘How Cats Took Over The Internet’. Regardless of that and the question of whether people search for dogs or cats more (it’s dogs by the way) many of us can’t help but think that the internet was made for cat content.

Grumpy Cat, BaneCat, Lil Bub, the list is endless when it comes to naming the comical felines that we have fallen in love with and in turn are racking up millions of YouTube views. The recently passed Grumpy Cat’s net worth has even been cited as $100 million although her owner claimed this not to be true.

via GIPHY

But it’s not just the ‘famous felines’ that get all of the attention. Lolcat became an internet sensation of memes and we have a plethora of images, GIFs and videos at our fingertips to binge on cat-related content. But why should that make a difference to your marketing?

Even though these loveable kitties may not be necessarily marketing anything, their ability to make people laugh triggers one of the most important marketing tools out there – the power of the giggle.

Paddy Power is a perfect example of this. Although it isn’t posting cats everywhere, the brand uses humour in a way that will specifically appeal to its audience and as a result it has easily become one of the most recognised brands in the UK.

People love to laugh so why do we take marketing so seriously all of the time? The need for serious messaging will always be there but can we not have a bit of fun every now and again? You may not be opting to choose a sassy Persian cat to head up your brand anytime in the near future, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still opt for something that’ll make your audience chuckle or coo.

And it’s not just what makes you chuckle, there are so many ways you can harness what the experts call ‘emotive marketing’:

Controversial or not controversial? That is the question

Controversy has been known to have great results in the past but it’s not always something that you should opt for. You need to be a brand that has a challenger attitude and is unafraid of criticism, and debate – and even then, you should always stay on the right side of what is tasteful.

Who finds it funny? You or your audience?

We’ve spoken a lot about considering who your audience is, especially when it comes down to your communications strategy. Just because you find something hilarious or cute, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the audience of your brand will think the same. Analysing what your social followers already engage with will give you a big indication of what they like and don’t like – go with that.

Keeping it consistent

Tying in with the controversial tip, any content should be appropriate to everything else you are putting out there. Throwing in a curveball every now and again doesn’t hurt but if you go off piste radically you could damage your brand’s story irreversibly.

Don’t try too hard 


Do be brave and take yourself and your brand out of the comfort zone a little bit – but nobody likes a try-hard. Make sure you are being topical and witty when you choose that next funny GIF, otherwise you’ll lose respect – a bit like telling a cheesy joke at a party!