Join us for our Autumn Webinar Series…

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Over September and October we’ll be hosting a series of webinars and workshops to share insight and to start the discussions around the big challenges businesses are facing right now and the opportunities ahead with robust marketing and digital strategies Post-COVID. We’d love for you to join us, for more information or to book your slot please contact

Tuesday 8th September – 11.00am
Marketing in a Post-COVID World
Finding your new tribes and engaging your customers in new ways. We’ll be discussing consumer behaviour and how your old customer profiles may need not paint a true picture post-lockdown. Creating flexible marketing strategies and more.

Tuesday 22nd September – 11.00am
Digital Strategy just got really serious!

The world went digital overnight, the only to communicate and sell was virtual and online. Steve Maybury will talk you through the ‘new’ digital strategy for businesses and why it’s so important to future proof your business against disruption.

Tuesday 6th October – 11.00am
A Creative Recovery

The pandemic has encouraged bold marketing messages, emotive creative and ‘together’ campaigns that have united entire nations. Lauren Regan our creative director will talk about the perfect creative campaigns and how we can use creativity to help our businesses to recover quickly.

Tuesday 20th October – 11.00am
Building a Disruption-Proof Brand
Purpose driven, transparent brands that really live by their core values have been the winners of 2020, with brand loyalty remaining highest through the pandemic with the world’s most purposeful businesses. This workshop will talk you through the importance of transparency, dealing with change and putting the right foundations in place to build brand loyalty.

People will do business with the good guys

For all the stories of panic stricken bad behaviour, such as empty supermarket shelves or staff laid off in a hurry, there are even more acts of kindness right now.

A complete slowdown has started to create a sharing economy – faced with the fact that our families and friends might get sick or lose their livelihoods means we are seeing businesses large and small step up and play their part in their community.

Having a Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy is not a new thing, and neither is a crisis, but the speed and extremity of the Coronavirus has really put companies’ values and behaviour to the test. Businesses had to react quickly and instinctively – they had to show their true colours – and the ones with a truly purposeful DNA and great leadership are getting the spotlight.

The editor of PR Week put it perfectly in his editor’s letter recently:

“One key message is that creative thinking is more important than ever – but brands must be hyper-aware of the sensitivities in this environment. It should be a time when brand purpose comes to the fore; indeed, the pandemic may end up sorting virtuous brands from the virtue signallers.”

Any business can be part of this new kindness movement, but only if they put their heart and soul into it – from free services or help for health workers on the front line to supporting food banks and providing meals for children in need, the best businesses are playing a part in rebuilding a society that is already different and I hope this new community mindedness will stay for years to come.

Brandwatch monitor social conversation globally, billions of social feeds every day, to see which brands are most talked about and the topics of conversation. Their latest report shows how those brands that have reacted quickly and with kindness are soaring ahead with consumer sentiment and loyalty. From the amazing CEO reactions and companies providing new and innovative ways to entertain children, to the production of ventilators and turning hotels to hospitals, consumers can’t stop celebrating great brands, doing great things. Equally, consumers are incredibly vocal with their disappointment in how some of their most trusted brands have reacted to a global crisis.

Well done Pret, T-Mobile, Morrisons and The National Trust just to name a few nationals and Blueline Taxis and Greggs in our locality, along with lots of amazing independent companies doing all they can to support our NHS and local communities. There are many that we will remember for years to come, but for me the selfish actions of Virgin will take a while to forget (not least the hassle I went through to get a trans-Atlantic flight refund when I had my own small business and family to worry about).

Entrepreneurs will be reviewing their business plans right now, and alongside protecting jobs, recovering lost sales and survival I hope many will be revisiting a renewed purpose.

It takes a shock to make us take stock. Let’s turn this situation into something that makes every business better and enter a new normal where purpose and profit are happy bedfellows.


Kari, MD



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

Front cover of magazine


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

Front cover of magazine

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